Ambae volcano 'now stable' : VMGD

Photograph taken on November 5.

By Anita Roberts

Volcanic eruption activity at Ambae’s Lake Voui has now become stable.

Observations suggest the volcano seems to be in a more stable state lately as the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department (VMGD) lowered alert level from 3 (minor eruption) to 2, the level of major volcanic unrest stage.

At level 2, there is considerable possibility of eruption and also chance of flank eruption.

The area of danger is now limited within 2km from Lake Voui.

New scientific analysis confirms that the activity has dropped.

Explosions are less frequent and volcanic cloud emitted are white color, which means the volcano is only discharging steam.

People from neighboring islands may not hear explosions, not view volcanic ash, gas and glows over the mountain at night. A small-scale eruption at Lake Voui has ceased.

According to VMGD, these activities confirm the volcanic activity has dropped.

Ongoing activity consists of emission of steam cloud and/or volcanic gas which villagers and visitors can smell while approaching the volcano area.

Eruption activity at Ambae increased and reached level 4 in September.

For the first time molten lava was observed at the surface of the volcano, a significant change to the development of the volcano’s activity.

Evacuation for the whole island was declared.

Following more observations and analysis of seismic, gas, thermal and deformation data by locals and international scientists, VMGD indicated the activity had settled in a stable state, therefore reducing its alert level from 4 to 3 in October. People were then brought back to the island.

Ambae volcano is a very large volcano and is frequently active.

All eruptions have happened from that summit craters, except one recorded in 1670’s when a lava flow occurred in Ndui Ndui area, according to VMGD.

“The current eruption is focused in the summit crater and there are no indications of activity elsewhere.

“Tourism agencies, local authorities and villagers are advised not to access danger zone. Villages on Ambae may experience volcanic hazards from gas, especially those exposed to prevailing winds direction, VMGD advised.

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