The Wellington VAAC reported that a low-level plume of ash and sulfur dioxide from a new eruption at Epi was identified in satellite data at 0730 on 31 January. According to the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) residents saw steaming at the ocean?s surface in the area over the vents at around 0748, and phreatic explosions that ejected steam and tephra 100 m above the water. The Alert Level was raised to 1 (on a scale of 0-5) and the public was warned to stay 10 km away from the East Epi submarine volcano. Observers reportedly saw a growing cone from ongoing ash emissions. The VAAC noted that the eruption was short-lived and had ceased by 1548; the ash had dissipated.
Three submarine cones, Epi A, Epi B, and Epi C, and smaller cones and craters, are located 10-16 km NNE from the summit of Epi Island and are aligned along the N rim of an inferred caldera. Epi B is the shallowest of the seamounts and has been historically active, most recently in February 2004. A March 2004 bathymetric survey revealed that Epi B was about 300 m tall, with a diameter of about 1.8 km at the base. The summit crater was about 150 m in diameter and the crater floor was at a depth of 90 m. The highest point was on the NW rim of the summit crater, at a depth of 34 m.
Sources: Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD),Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)
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