Report on Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — February 1993

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 18, no. 2 (February 1993)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) Activity continues to decline; glow observed in crater

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1993. Report on Ulawun (Papua New Guinea). In: Venzke, E (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 18:2. Smithsonian Institution.

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Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"Activity . . . continued to decline following the brief phreatic or phreatomagmatic activity in mid-January (BGVN 18:01). However, activity is still above normal levels. Emissions throughout the month consisted of white vapour, in weak to moderate volumes. Blue vapour was seen occasionally. A steady weak night glow was seen 14-18 February. There were also unconfirmed reports of glow at other times during February.

"Seismic activity consisted of low-level, sub-continuous tremor with almost no discrete B-type events. The CVO's RSAM (Real-time Seismic Amplitude Measurement) system was deployed at the end of January to monitor tremor levels. From 29 January until 6 February the tremor level declined markedly. The system was inoperative until 17 February, when the tremor level was about the same as on the 6th. Helicorder readings indicated that tremor level was fairly constant from the 6th until the end of the month. This level of tremor is lower, by a factor of 2-3, than that seen during the peak of activity in mid-January and is comparable to the levels seen in early January.

"An aerial inspection on 18 February gave a reasonably clear view of the base of the crater. The source of the glow, on the E side of the crater, could not be seen directly. Only the glow's reflection on the walls of a vent at the crater base was seen. It was not possible to say whether this has changed since the last observation in January, but no other features in the crater have changed.

"EDM and dry-tilt surveys were carried out from 16-19 February. The EDM surveys showed little change since the last survey in September 1992, although there was some evidence of inflation at two stations high on the flanks. Dry-tilt results from two stations (S. Ridge and NW Valley, respectively 3 and 6.2 km from the summit) showed radial inflation of 25 and 17 µrads since September. Changes at three other stations were not conclusive."

Geologic Background. The symmetrical basaltic-to-andesitic Ulawun stratovolcano is the highest volcano of the Bismarck arc, and one of Papua New Guinea's most frequently active. Ulawun volcano, also known as the Father, rises above the north coast of the island of New Britain across a low saddle NE of Bamus volcano, the South Son. The upper 1000 m of the 2334-m-high Ulawun volcano is unvegetated. A prominent E-W-trending escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and eastern flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side of Ulawun volcano, and a flank lava-flow complex lies to the south of this valley. Historical eruptions date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions were mildly explosive until 1967, but after 1970 several larger eruptions produced lava flows and basaltic pyroclastic flows, greatly modifying the summit crater.

Information Contacts: R. Stewart, P. de Saint-Ours, and C. McKee, RVO.