Report on Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — February 2004

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 29, no. 2 (February 2004)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) Tabulation of aviation reports issued during 2000-mid-2003

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2004. Report on Ulawun (Papua New Guinea). In: Venzke, E (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 29:2. Smithsonian Institution. http://dx.doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200402-252120.

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Ulawun

Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Activity on Ulawun occurs frequently and is monitored and reported from several sources including the Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), and imagery from several satellites including NOAA GMS (daylight) and MODIS (infrared). The continuing activity after an eruption on 28 September 2000 (see BGVN 25:08) resulted in BGVN reports every few months since that event (BGVN reports on Ulawun have appeared in nine subsequent issues through the end of 2003).

This issue supplements the Bulletin reports with those from the Darwin VAAC archives (table 2), which included information provided from ground, airborne, and space-based sensing. RVO reports that Ulawun remained quiet during February 2004. Emissions from the main vent consisted of white vapor being released at weak to moderate rates. No noise or night-time glow were reported during the month. No emission was reported from the two N-valley vents. Seismicity was at a low level.

Table 2. Dates of issue and the principal comments in Darwin VAAC reports concerning Ulawun, September 2000-July 2003. Similar or duplicate messages are not shown. In many cases ash cloud trajectory information has been omitted. On this table, the distance unit Nautical Miles (NM) has not been converted to kilometers (1 NM = 1.852 km (exactly)). Courtesy of the Darwin VAAC.

[Skip text table]
    Date           Comment

    28 Sep 2000    SOURCE: AIREP, AIR NIUGINI, ANK. ERUPTION DETAILS: Volcanic
                   Activity reported at 28/2005Z - Ash plume to 11 km, rapid
                   growth at top, spreading out 30 NM to N to SW. ASH CLOUD:
                   Latest satellite imagery shows possible ash cloud extending
                   60 NM in an arc from ENE to the WSW.

    29 Sep 2000    SOURCE: AIREP, AIR NIUGINI, ANK. ERUPTION DETAILS: There is
                   evidence of volcanic ash on satellite imagery from 28/1800Z

    30 Sep 2000    SOURCE: AIREP/Geological Survey Papua New Guinea. The
                   Geological Survey confirms this eruption and notes that
                   limited evacuations have commenced with the prospect of
                   further seismic and eruptive activity. However 29/2230Z ash
                   emissions were limited to infrequent puffs.

    01 Oct 2000    SOURCE: AIREP/Geological Survey Papua New Guinea. ERUPTION
                   DETAILS: A Geological Survey report (at 01/0001Z) noted the
                   summit activity was relatively quiet for last 24 hours.
                   QANTAS AIREP at 30/0501Z also observed the lack of activity.

    29 Apr 2001    SOURCE: AIREP from PNG at 292130Z. ERUPTION DETAILS:
                   Aircraft observed smoke cloud up to 9 km and drifting NW
                   and SW direction out to 50/70 miles radius. ASH CLOUD:
                   Satellite imagery [29/2132Z] shows possible volcanic plume
                   extending 65 NM to the W and 30 NM to the N and S.

    30 Apr 2001    ASH CLOUD: Examination of latest satellite imagery
                   [30/0530Z] indicates significant eruption has ceased. Ash
                   plume may reach 14 km.

    01 May 2001    SOURCE: Visual and infra-red GMS and NOAA satellite
                   imagery, RVO. ERUPTION DETAILS: RVO advise remains on a
                   high alert level with further eruptions possible. ASH
                   CLOUD: There is no evidence of ash cloud at this time, but
                   widespread cloud in the area is making detection difficult.

    03 May 2001    SOURCE: AIREP from PNG 29/4/2001 2130Z. Visual and
                   infra-red GMS and NOAA satellite imagery, RVO. ERUPTION
                   DETAILS: A report by an aircraft of volcanic activity [on
                   29 April] at about 2130Z with smoke/ash cloud up to 9 km,
                   and confirmed by the RVO and satellites surveillance,
                   initiated a series of Volcanic Advisories. The latest
                   report from RVO this morning states that activity has
                   moderated. ASH CLOUD: Satellite surveillance has not
                   identified any ash cloud since the initial eruption.

    28 Aug 2001    SOURCE: GMS/NOAA Satellite Imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Ash
                   observed on satellite imagery. Analysis indicates eruption
                   is low level. ASH CLOUD: Ash plume 5 NM wide, extending 15
                   miles to the S of the summit. Ash expected to be below 4
                   km.

    12 Sep 2002    SOURCE: NOAA/GMS satellite imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Small
                   low level plume detected on visible satellite imagery at
                   11/2100Z. Plume extended 60 NM from summit in the sector
                   NNW to NNE.

    18 Sep 2002    SOURCE: GMS satellite imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Low level
                   plume detected on visible satellite imagery at 18/2100Z.
                   ASH CLOUD: Very thin plume extends 40 NM to the WSW

    19 Sep 2002    SOURCE: GMS satellite imagery. ASH CLOUD: Plume can no
                   longer be detected on latest GMS imagery.

    27 Sep 2002    SOURCE: GMS satellite imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Ash plume
                   observed on satellite imagery [27/]2030Z. ASH CLOUD: Narrow
                   ash cloud extends 40 NM to SW

    28 Sep 2002    SOURCE: GMS satellite imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Ash plume
                   observed on satellite imagery 2130Z. ASH CLOUD: Narrow ash
                   cloud extends 20 NM to the NNW.

    15 Oct 2002    SOURCE: GMS satellite imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Low level
                   ash plume observed on satellite imagery 15/2225Z. ASH
                   CLOUD: Ash plume extends 20 NM N of volcano. Winds indicate
                   plume probably low level.

    21 Oct 2002    SOURCE: AIREP PZ-ANF, GMS imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Smoke
                   reported in area, and plume observed via GMS imagery. ASH
                   CLOUD: Cloud up to 4 km, extending 5 NM, 30 NM wide to SE.

    01 Nov 2002    SOURCE: AIREP. ERUPTION DETAILS: Smoke observed 01/0042Z
                   drifting to NW of volcano at 3 km.

    02 Nov 2002    SOURCE: AIREP AIR NIUGINI. ERUPTION DETAILS: Ash observed
                   02/2030Z drifting to ESE of volcano to 3 km.

    11 Apr 2003    SOURCE: NOAA and GMS imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Plume
                   evident on 10/2019Z and 11/0357Z NOAA image[s], height
                   estimated below 3 km.

    14 Apr 2003    SOURCE: GMS imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Possible plume
                   evident on 13/2032Z, 13/2132Z and 13/2225Z [images], height
                   estimated below 3 km

    26 Apr 2003    SOURCE: GMS imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Possible plume
                   evident on 26/0325Z MODIS as reported by KGWC/ Washington
                   VAAC, height estimated below 4 km.

    30 Apr 2003    SOURCE: GMS and MODIS imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Possible
                   narrow low level plume evident on 30/0010Z MODIS and
                   30/0230Z GMS visible image[s], extending 30 NM WNW, height
                   estimated below 3 km.

    03 May 2003    SOURCE: KGWC. ERUPTION DETAILS: Ash/steam plume observed on
                   02/2026Z F13 DMSP Imagery. Plume extends 80 NM W of
                   volcano, height to 4 km.

    04 May 2003    SOURCE: NOAA satellite imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Thin low
                   level plume observed on 04/2053Z. Plume extends 10 NM SW of
                   Ulawun, height estimated at 4 km.

    06 May 2003    SOURCE: GMS satellite imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Thin low
                   level plume observed on 06/2032Z.

    01 Jun 2003    SOURCE: GOES9 satellite imagery. ERUPTION DETAILS: Thin low
                   level plume observed on [May] 31/2325Z.

    18 Jun 2003    SOURCE: AFWA. ERUPTION DETAILS: Faint ash/steam plume seen
                   on 18/2206Z satellite imagery.

    20 Jun 2003    SOURCE: NOAA 17. ERUPTION DETAILS: Faint plume seen on NOAA
                   17 20/0004Z satellite imagery.

    20 Jun 2003    SOURCE: NOAA 15. ERUPTION DETAILS: Faint plume seen
                   20/2050Z.

    23 Jun 2003    SOURCE: NOAA 15. ERUPTION DETAILS: Faint plume seen on
                   23/2120Z.

    24 Jun 2003    SOURCE: NOAA 15. ERUPTION DETAILS: Faint plume seen on
                   24/2057Z.

    26 Jun 2003    SOURCE: MODIS. ERUPTION DETAILS: Faint plume seen on
                   26/0005Z extending 25 NM SW, height estimated at 4 km.

    28 Jun 2003    SOURCE: NOAA 15. ERUPTION DETAILS: Faint plume seen on
                   28/2101Z.

    02 Jul 2003    SOURCE: NOAA 15. ERUPTION DETAILS: Thin ash plume to 5 km
                   extending 25 NM WSW of summit on 02/2108Z.

    13 Jul 2003    SOURCE: AFWA. ERUPTION DETAILS: Thin ash plume to 4 km
                   moving to the W at 10 knots [10 NM/hour or 18 km/hour].

    22 Jul 2003    SOURCE: GOES9. ERUPTION DETAILS: Possible ash plume seen on
                   22/0130Z visible GOES imagery, extending 30 NM to NW,
                   height estimated at 3 km.

The VAAC reports contain numerous abbreviations; however, a few of the terms here are in widespread use referring to satellites, meteorology, and various related agencies (NOAA, AFWA, GOES9, MODIS, and KGWC . . . DMSP Imagery, etc.) or AIREP (atmospheric conditions reported from aircraft). "RVO" stands for Rabaul Volcano Observatory. Other terms may be less familiar: "AIR NIUGINI, ANK." refers to a commuter plane in the fleet of the national airline based in Papua New Guinea. The stated dates and times are not local ones, but instead refer to those at the zero (prime) meridian. For example, 04/2240Z means the fourth day of the stated month at 2240 UTC (i.e. "Z," spoken as Zulu, is shorthand for Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

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: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea (Email: hguria@global.net.pg); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/, Email: darwin.vaac@bom.gov.au).