White Island, New Zealand

February 22, 2005

Wisland3c copy

Referred by: Greg Vaughan, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary authors & editors: Greg Vaughan

This is a digital image of White Island, New Zealand taken from a helicopter on March 25, 2001, using a Sony DSC-S70 3.3 mega pixel camera. White Island lies approximately 48 km (30 mi) northeast of the Bay of Plenty coastline of New Zealand’s North Island and is one of the country’s most active volcanoes. It's the northernmost active volcano in the 250-kilometer-long (155 mi) Taupo Volcanic Zone that marks the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates. The island is privately owned and is often visited by tourists, however, the local intensity of volcanic gas emissions produces a caustic environment within the crater. Volcanic gases consist primarily of water steam, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, but also, small amounts of chlorine and fluorine gas combine with water in the steam to form acid droplets that can sting the eyes and skin, affect breathing, and even damage cameras, electronic equipment and clothing. On this day, the temperature of the steam at the edifice was about 400 C. The green color of the central lake is due to the composition of dissolved solids in the water, which has a pH of ~negative 0.6!

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