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Third Day: 11 November

January 01, 1992


White Island lies at the north tip of the TVZ and is among the most active and accessible andesite-dacite volcanoes in the world. It is also perhaps one of the best understood, having been intensively studied in terms of both its physical and chemical characteristics (e.g. Hamiliton and Baumgart, 1959; Giggenbach, 1987; Houghton and Nairn, 1989; Houghton and Nairn, 1991).

According to legend, White Island is the source of volcanic-hydrothermal activity in the North Island. One story describes the arrival of Chief Ngatoro-i-rangi who brought fire from Hawaiiki. He left his sisters at Whakaari and travelled south to Tongariro. He found it very cold there and he called his sisters to send fire. The subterranean passage taken by the spirits carrying fire marked a trail of thermal activity, which is the subject of this tour. The first European to record sighting White Island is Captain James Cook, who named it as it appeared to him during his frrst visit to New Zealand in 1769.

The island is made up of two overlapping cones, an older western cone and a younger central cone. The main crater occupies the eastern and central portions and is breached to the southeast (Fig. 25). The western part of the main crater includes several deep coalescing subcraters, formed about the most active vents. Their deepest point is about 150m below sea level. Fumarolic activity is concentrated in this area, but acid brines periodically discharge from springs further to the east. Baseline studies are in progress for

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Society of Economic Geologists Guidebook Series

Active and Extinct Hydrothermal Systems of the North Island, New Zealand

Stuart F. Simmons
Stuart F. Simmons
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Patrick R.L. Browne
Patrick R.L. Browne
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Robert L. Brathwaite
Robert L. Brathwaite
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Society of Economic Geologists
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Publication date:
January 01, 1992




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