Report on Yasur (Vanuatu) — September 1998

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 23, no. 9 (September 1998)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Yasur (Vanuatu) Ongoing eruption, felt earthquake, and fresh glass chemical analysis

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1998. Report on Yasur (Vanuatu). In: Wunderman, R (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 23:9. Smithsonian Institution.

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19.53°S, 169.442°E; summit elev. 361 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

On 9 September 1998, an earthquake was felt in a village 3 km from Yasur; simultaneously, loud explosions were heard from the volcano. When the summit was visited by John Seach during 10-11 September, five craters inside the main summit crater in the pyroclastic cone were found to be active. Crater A, large and on the S, displayed quiet explosions followed by brown ash emission. Other craters were quiet with only gas emissions. These included the smaller Crater B, in the center of the main crater; the larger Crater C, on the N; the small Crater D located W of Crater B; and Crater E, on the SW wall of the main crater.

During 4 hours of observation on 10 September, 51 explosions were observed from four craters: Crater A, 25 explosions; Crater B, 9; Crater C, 13; and Crater D, 4. Bombs thrown from Craters B, C, and D fell back into the vent or onto the crater wall. Some larger explosions, every 20-30 minutes, threw bombs 350 m high. During the night, bombs thrown onto the crater wall glowed for up to 6 minutes. The explosions and shaking were felt up to 3 km away.

A fresh bomb collected in August 1997 (BGVN 22:08) was recently analyzed by microprobe (table 1).

Table 1. Major element analysis of Yasur glass taken from an average of five analyses on fresh glass bomb collected in August 1997. All iron is shown as FeO. Microprobe analysis courtesy of Timothy O'Hearn; sample courtesy of Steve and Donna O'Meara, and Robert Benward.

[Skip text table]
    Component    Weight %

    SiO2          58.61
    TiO2           0.95
    Al203         15.07
    FeOt           8.68
    MnO            0.25
    MgO            2.49
    CaO            5.44
    Na2O           3.52
    K2O            3.78
    P2O5           0.66
    Total         99.46

Geologic Background. Yasur, the best-known and most frequently visited of the Vanuatu volcanoes, has been in more-or-less continuous strombolian and vulcanian activity since Captain Cook observed ash eruptions in 1774. This style of activity may have continued for the past 800 years. Located at the SE tip of Tanna Island, this mostly unvegetated pyroclastic cone has a nearly circular, 400-m-wide summit crater. Yasur is largely contained within the small Yenkahe caldera and is the youngest of a group of Holocene volcanic centers constructed over the down-dropped NE flank of the Pleistocene Tukosmeru volcano. The Yenkahe horst is located within the Siwi ring fracture, a 4-km-wide, horseshoe-shaped caldera associated with eruption of the andesitic Siwi pyroclastic sequence. Active tectonism along the Yenkahe horst accompanying eruptions has raised Port Resolution harbor more than 20 m during the past century.

Information Contacts: John Seach, P.O. Box 16, Chatsworth Island, N.S.W. 2469, Australia; Tim O'Hearn, Department of Mineral Sciences, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560-0119 USA.