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Where is White Island?

The White Island, otherwise known as Whakaari Island, is a stratovolcano. These volcanoes can erupt explosively due to the highly viscous (sticky) lava. It erupted on Monday 9 December 2019 30 miles off the coast of New Zealand when 47 tourists were visiting for ‘volcano tourism’. New Zealand are still in the response stage of the Hazard Management Cycle.

What has happened?

Read the article on ‘What We Know So Far’. Five people have been confirmed as dead and a further 8 are missing. Read the summary to find out more.

How safe is volcano tourism?

What is ‘volcano tourism’? How many people visit volcanoes per year? Read this article. What are the dangers?

Why was it a ‘Chernobyl–like experience’? Watch this film and find out.

Go to Australian ABC News and view their storymap to get the full picture.

What is planned for Friday 13 December? Read the article and understand who will be risking their lives, and for what.

What descriptors could you use for each photo in the Gallery? What does Professor Burton say about visitor numbers?

Read How safe is Volcano Tourism? Choose 2 countries from the list and consider how safe the activity of volcano tourism is for tourists.

Listen to our RGS-IBG podcast. How do we perceive a hazard that might effect us? Listen to our podcast by Professor Esther Eidinow to understand how risk is socially constructed. Is it fate, luck or fortune?

Watch our RGS-IBG Hazard talk: Our School Member lecture by Dr. Amy Donovan on Hazard Management in New Zealand.

What do the current alert levels mean? There are signs that the White Island volcano still has high gas and fluid pressures within the volcano. Understand more by accessing this article.

Mathematics and Data Skills

Now time for some mathematics. The number of eruptions around the world varies per year between 60 and 80. Using the upper estimate of 80 eruptions, can you work out the frequency per week?

Read this article How many people do volcanoes kill? There are 800 million people who live within 100km of an active volcano, of which 200 million live in Indonesia. Calculate the percentage of Indonesian people who live in these dangerous zones.

The last major eruption in New Zealand was the Te Māri craters on the northern slopes of Mount Tongariro in 2012. A 6.1km ash cloud rose from the crater, covering 250km. Over the past 5,000 years one of the most violent eruptions in New Zealand was the Taupo eruption, it rated 7 on the VEI scale and produced a 50km high column of ash and tephra. The White Island eruption produced a 3.9km ash cloud. What is the difference in range between these ash clouds?

Further reading

Try our intermediary platform Geography Directions to learn more. You can also click here to improve your subject knowledge on volcano tourism in Fiji. You will find an answer to; why did White Island erupt and why was there no warning by reading this article.

There is a history of accidents in adventure tourism which you can read about here.

Finally, Dr Amy Donovan talks about the need ‘for a balance between the commodified affective qualities of active environments and the management of risk’ in Reflections on sublime encounters with the media.