At Nature’s mercy

“If the volcano erupts, don’t try to outrun the lava,” a guide casually instructs Toronto Star freelancer Teresa Pitman who is on a tour of White Island. “Your best bet is to find something big to hide behind.” Pitman furtively scans the other members of the group (like her, wearing the hard hats and gas masks they were handed on their arrival) to see who she might duck behind should the worst happen. The landscape is an eerie reminder of how thin the Earth’s crust is here. The sides of the volcano are pimpled with domes the size of small cars. The guide calls these pressure mounds, created by the force of the hot gases barely beneath the surface. Seismographic recordings show that there are earthquakes and tremors on the island every day, and often more than once a day. White Island, the only live volcano in New Zealand, is a two-hour boat-ride from Whakatane.

Tags: Toronto Star  Volcano  White Island