An RNZAF Orion will conduct an aerial survey of the erupting volcano on Vanuatu's Ambae Island to help authorities monitor its intensity.
Vanuatu's Ambae Island.
Source: 1 NEWS
The official alert level on the island has been raised to four, one below the maximum of five indicating a large-scale eruption.
Group Captain Nick Olney, the Acting Air Component Commander, says the survey scheduled for today was planned before volcanic activity intensified on Ambae.
The P-K2 Orion, which is returning from maritime security operations in the Middle East, will also fly past two other active volcanoes in Vanuatu, on Ambrym and Lopevi.
"The Orion has sophisticated surveillance capabilities that will allow us to monitor volcanic activity from a safe distance," he said.
Authorities have observed ash falls across Ambae, which is home to about 10,000 people, and have warned of acid rain and pyroclastic mud flows.