Papers.—1. “Notes on the Crater of White Island,” by Captain Fairchild.
For very many years the crater of White Island was believed to be permanently filled with warm water, which sometimes became so hot as to reach a state of ebullition. Early in 1868 the island was visited by H.M.S. “Brisk,” and a rough survey of the crater was made by Lieutenant Edwin, of that vessel. According to Captain Fairchild this survey is a correct representation of the state of the crater for many years previous to 1868 and up to 1879, during which period he frequently visited the island.
Some time during 1879 H.M.S. “Pearl” visited the island, and found the crater quite dry, this being the first time such a state of things had been noticed. The officers of the “Pearl” reported the matter at Wellington. It excited some interest, and the Government, through Mr. G. S. Cooper, telegraphed to Captain Fairchild, who happened to be at
Napier with the “Hinemoa,” instructing him to proceed at once to the island, and report as to its condition. This he did, and found the lake perfectly dry. He was able to walk across the floor without the slightest difficulty. But within two months the lake filled again, and resumed its ordinary appearance and temperature.
During the following seven years, 1879–86, the island was regularly visited by Captain Fairchild, who always found the crater filled with water. On three occasions he crossed it in a dingy which was dragged to the lake from the landing-place by his sailors.
In June, 1886, a few days after the eruption of Tarawera, White Island became unusually active, and the crater again became dry. The steam-jets surrounding the crater were unusually active for many months after the eruption. About six months after the eruption, Captain Fairchild visited a large one situated at the head of the lake. He was accompanied by Mr. Lodder and others. The steam-vent was then emitting what appeared to be intensely bright-red flames, which rose to a height of at least 12ft. above the mouth of the vent. The party approached sufficiently near to throw stones down the vent.
From the time of the eruption of Tarawera until the middle of 1893 the lake remained perfectly dry. During this period it was visited every three months by Captain Fairchild, or whenever the “Hinemoa” passed the island in the performance of the regular lighthouse duties. On none of these visits did he find any signs of the crater having been filled with water. He was therefore much surprised on landing on the island a few weeks ago to find the lake again filled, and presenting an appearance exactly similar to what it did over twenty years ago.
There is very little thermal action going on at the present time. The water of the lake was boiling in one or two places, and some of the hot springs and steam-vents near the sides of the crater were feebly active. But, as a whole, the island was remarkably quiescent. Since the time of his previous visit huge landslips had taken place on the sides of the crater, many thousands of tons of material having been brought down; but otherwise there was little sign of any physical changes of importance.
2. “Notes on the New Zealand Bats, by T. F. Cheeseman, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 218.)
3. “Why should School-teaching provide only for the Counter or the Desk?” by James Adams, B.A. (Transactions, p. 452.)