The full Maori name for the island is 'Te Puia o Whakaari', meaning 'The Dramatic Volcano.' Named 'White Island' on the 1st of October 1769 by Captain Cook, it always appeared to be in a cloud of white steam. Cook did not come close enough to the island to notice that it was a volcano. Its official name is Whakaari/White Island although it is most well-known as White Island.
A sulphur mining was opened on the island in 1885; however mining stopped abruptly when in 1914 part of the crater wall collapsed and a landslide destroyed the sulphur mine and miners' village and the 12 miners on the island lost their lives.
White Island is now privately owned, and became a private scenic reserve in 1953.
Whakaari/White Island island is around 2 km (1.2 mi) in diameter, and is roughly circular. While the peak of the island is 321 m (1,053 ft) above sea level, this is only the peak of a much larger submarine mountain, which rises up to 1,600 m (5,249 ft) above the nearby seafloor.
The island is a vent is below sea level but is it is shielded from the sea by high crater walls. In addition to being surrounded by sea water, the vent is chemically sealed from the sea water. This sealed zone traps an acid hot water system, which is derived from rainwater. All these geological phenomenon make White Island unique.
GeoNet Project, the official source of geological hazard information for New Zealand, continually monitor the volcano’s activity via
- Visual Observations (3 web cameras are sited on White Island)
- Seismic Monitoring (2 seismographs and 1 microphone to detect volcanic explosions.)
- Chemical Analysis (Water and gas chemistry samples and soil gas measurements; continuous plume monitoring; airborne gas monitoring )
- Ground Deformation (2 continuous GPS (cGPS) stations and levelling surveys every three months.)
GeoNet also visits the island around 10 times a year.
The island is usually on an alert level rating of 1 or 2 on a scale of 1 to 5. At most times the volcanic activity is limited to steaming fumaroles and boiling mud.
There is a camera that monitors activity regularly. It can be found here: visit link
Walking on White Island is a little like walking on the moon. There is virtually no vegetation in the harsh acidic environment inside the crater walls. Instead, lush beds of yellow and white sulphur crystals grow amongst hissing, steaming, bubbling fumaroles.
As White Island is a privately owned island, private travel to the island isn't possible. There are a number of daily tours available to access the island, either by boat or helicopter from one of the 4 designated tourist operators for White Island. More than 10,000 people visit White Island every year.
White Island is one of the most amazing natural experiences in New Zealand
TO COMPLETE THE CACHE
Please email the answers to the following questions:
- What is the age of the volcanic superstructure of the island?
- When was the last major volcanic event on the island?
- How high is the volcano from the undersea base?
- During my visit to White Island in January 2013 the lake in the bottom of the crater had completely disappeared. Based on your visit, describe the appearance of the lake on the island, if there is one.
- You will be issued with a gas mask when on the island to help you to breathe. What is the main hazardous gas in the air?
Logs not containing evidence of a personal visit will be deleted, as will logs with incorrect or missing answers to the questions above.
- Post a pic of an EITHER an active fumerole or remnants of the mining operation. Give a brief explanation of your photo.
- Post a picture of yourself on the island.
NB: Those with respiratory conditions should consult their physician before attempting this cache.