Photographer's Note

I am sorry for the quality of this post, because it is a negative film scan. I am posting it not because of its quality, but because this island is one of the greatest adventure of my life, so I would like to share with you. It was our 8th anniversary and me and my wife were in Rotorua, with a couple of friends. We flew from the continent by helicopter and after this photo we landed inside the crater. We needed to use masks because of the strong sulphur and the helicopter pilot also gave us helmets, just in case of any flying rock... ;-D
To reach this amazing island, we flew over the "Bay of Plenty", named like this by the Maoris because of its richness of food, sealife.
Maori's name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, and it means something like "the land of the long white cloud". So, maybe I found the cloud's maker! ;-D
I've copyed something about White Island from http://www.gns.cri.nz/:

"White Island is the northernmost active volcano in the Taupo Volcanic Zone - a 250km-long zone of intense volcanism that marks the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates. Scientists from the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited are regular visitors to the privately-owned island, which attracts an ever-increasing number of tourists.

Sitting 48km offshore, the island has been built up by continuous volcanic activity over the past 150,000 years. About 70 percent of the volcano is under the sea, making this massive volcanic structure the largest in New Zealand.
The island has a history of long periods of continuous hydrothermal activity and steam release, punctuated by small-to-medium eruptions. Between 1976 and 1993 White Island was more active than at any time in the past few hundred years, and ash from its 1998 eruptions was recorded as far inland as Rotorua. The volcano's activity is often visible to people in Bay of Plenty with gas and ash plumes rising as high as 10km on clear, still days.

Craters and fumaroles on the island continually emit gases at rates of several hundred to several thousand tonnes per day. The gases are mostly steam, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, with small quantities of chlorine and fluorine. Acid gases combine with water in the steam to form acid droplets that can sting the eyes and skin, and can affect breathing. The acid can also damage cameras, electronic equipment and clothes. In spite of its hostile environment, the island is host to a number of bird species including a gannet colony.

The upper slopes of the island, which rises to a height of 321m, are steep and deeply eroded. A sulphur mining venture on the island stopped abruptly in 1914 when part of the crater wall collapsed and a landslide destroyed the sulphur mine and miners' village. Twelve lives were lost. Mining resumed again in the 1920s and the remains of buildings from that era are a tourist attraction.
White Island as an earth science laboratory
Recent scientific investigations by the Institute and international collaborators have focused on the island's eruption history, volcanic processes, and its geothermal system. The transition zone of heat from volcanoes to geothermal systems is commonly 3km to 4km beneath the surface. At White Island it is within a few hundred metres of the surface. Consequently New Zealand, Japanese and United States scientists have proposed a research drilling project to explore the island's geothermal system.
The project, which will involve drilling down several hundred metres below the crater floor, will enable scientists to explore the boundary between the molten magma and the geothermal system. Samples of subterranean fluids and gases will provide valuable insights that will enhance the understanding of volcanoes and geothermal systems.

Just as important, the project will tell scientists more about the type of technology needed to cope with very hot and corrosive fluids in geothermal fields worldwide. However, it is unlikely that White Island will become a geothermal energy source in its own right.

Geological investigations have established that the island is capable of producing eruptions that are larger than any it has produced in the past 150 years. Scientists have also established that no eruption deposits from the island are preserved on the mainland. This indicates that although there have been large eruptions in the past, they have not had a significant impact on the Bay of Plenty region.

Geochemical studies have shown that the geothermal system under the island is similar to those which host precious metals. Scientists have used the island to study metal corrosion in acid environments, and it has been used to establish technologies such as power generation from high-temperature, acid geothermal systems.



Volcanic hazards at White Island
Volcanic hazards in and around the main crater vary considerably with the level of activity. Hazards exist even during quiet periods. As well as the risk of isolated eruptions during quiet periods, there is also the small possibility of a crater wall collapse.

A collapse and resultant avalanche could be triggered by a shallow earthquake or through increased instability after heavy rain. Given the history of the last 25 years at the island, the most likely hazard-producing event is the resumption of enhanced activity.

Hazards during enhanced activity include ashfall, steam eruptions and occasional explosions throwing ballistic blocks as far as the sea. Explosive eruptions pose a risk to visitors on the island, boats anchored in the bays, and to aircraft passing close to the island.

One of the outcomes of the Institute's surveillance programme is the realisation that at present there are no reliable short-term precursors to large, discrete explosive eruptions. One of the difficulties in forecasting eruptions at White Island is that many are triggered by the collapse of part of the volcano wall. When this happens, the avalanche temporarily blocks the plumbing, and an explosion is almost inevitable. White Island is an active volcano and any activity on the main cater floor involves a degree of risk."

To the Kiwis.

Isnt great?
Regards,
Zeca

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Additional Photos by Jose A Hauer (zeca) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2801 W: 157 N: 4803] (19762)
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