Both volcanoes sit on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of intense seismic activity that stretches 40,000 kilometers (25,000 miles) from New Zealand to South America. But Benjamin Andrews, of the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program, says it’s merely a coincidence that they’re both showing signs of erupting at the same time. “The principal concerns here are that the volcano can eject volcanic rocks to distances of many kilometers from the crater and that the volcano could erupt ash and/or emit sulfur dioxide,” said Andrews.
“Ambae volcano is in an ongoing moderate eruption state,” a statement from Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department said. People in local villages could experience the danger of flying rocks, volcanic gases, and acid rain, the statement added. The alert level is now at a 4, which is the second highest on the scale.
Australia has already responded to a request for assistance, pledging up to 20.5 million Vatu ($190,000) in “much-needed supplies like food, water, shelter, and hygiene kits for affected communities on Ambae,” a Vanuatu government statement said Thursday.