Report on Langila (Papua New Guinea) — August 1991

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 16, no. 8 (August 1991)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland

Langila (Papua New Guinea) Ash clouds; incandescent tephra; lava flows in crater

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1991. Report on Langila (Papua New Guinea). In: McClelland, L (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 16:8. Smithsonian Institution.

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Papua New Guinea

5.525°S, 148.42°E; summit elev. 1330 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"In August, Crater 3 frequently erupted moderate to strong, pale grey-brown ash and vapour clouds accompanied by weak to loud detonations, roaring or rumbling. The eruptions occurred at intervals of several minutes to a few hours. The emission clouds rose as much as 500 m above the crater. Dull to bright red crater glow was observed on the nights of 7-9, 12, and 13 August.

"During an aerial inspection on the 14th, two active vents were observed in a mound of lava filling Crater 3. The vents were ~5-10 m in diameter, 40 m apart and aligned approximately N-S. The N vent was more active and was filled with incandescent lava. The S vent was clogged with dark lava. Both vents released blue vapour. Lava had flowed eastward to form a short (70 m) lobe in the E part of the crater. A longer (~150 m) lobe of lava was present on the NE flank of Cone 3. This lobe was fresh, having a dark surface, and its source appeared to be a tube within the E lobe. The NE-flank flow was first observed on 13 August, and appeared to be inactive then. However, some activity of this flow had been evident the previous night when prolonged incandescence in this area and some movement of incandescent material were observed. Two other very small lava lobes (both inactive) were observed on the NW flank of Cone 3.

"Throughout the month, Crater 2 (roughly 200 m E of Crater 3) almost continuously emitted moderate amounts of pale grey-brown ash and vapour. This activity was accompanied by nearly continuous low roaring sounds. Occasional stronger explosions took place. Dull glow over the crater was observed on the nights of 7-9, 13, 22, 24, and 27 August. A 30-minute period of strong explosive activity on the night of 13 August resulted in a large volume of incandescent lava fragments being ejected onto the NE flank of Cone 2. Incandescent lava-fragment ejections from Crater 2 were also seen on the night of 20 August. A brief aerial view of the interior of Crater 2 on 14 August indicated that it remains funnel-shaped, with several benches. Detailed observation was prevented, however, by emissions of ash and vapour.

"The ash plume from the combined emissions of the craters was usually directed in a sector between NNE and NW. Fine ashfalls were recorded in coastal areas (9 km distant) on 1, 2, 6, and 12 August.

"Seismicity remained at a moderate to high level throughout the month. It appeared that most of the stronger seismicity was associated with events at Crater 3. The daily number of explosion earthquakes recorded by the summit station fluctuated between 20 and 70, with the largest totals of 40-70 events on 16, 25, and 30-31 August. Meanwhile, the remote station (9 km distant) recorded 0-29 events/day. Numerous low-amplitude, short-duration, tremor-like signals were produced by weaker explosions. Several periods of harmonic tremor were recorded but the source was not determined."

Geologic Background. Langila, one of the most active volcanoes of New Britain, consists of a group of four small overlapping composite basaltic-andesitic cones on the lower eastern flank of the extinct Talawe volcano. Talawe is the highest volcano in the Cape Gloucester area of NW New Britain. A rectangular, 2.5-km-long crater is breached widely to the SE; Langila volcano was constructed NE of the breached crater of Talawe. An extensive lava field reaches the coast on the north and NE sides of Langila. Frequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded since the 19th century from three active craters at the summit of Langila. The youngest and smallest crater (no. 3 crater) was formed in 1960 and has a diameter of 150 m.

Information Contacts: B. Talai, C. McKee, and P. de Saint-Ours, RVO.