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. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200402-252120.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


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.

Date Source Eruption Details / Ash Cloud
28 Sep 2000 AIREP, AIR NIUGINI, ANK. 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 AIREP, AIR NIUGINI, ANK. There is evidence of volcanic ash on satellite imagery from 28/1800Z
30 Sep 2000 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 AIREP/Geological Survey Papua New Guinea. 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 AIREP from PNG at 292130Z. 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 -- Examination of latest satellite imagery [30/0530Z] indicates significant eruption has ceased. Ash plume may reach 14 km.
01 May 2001 Visual and infra-red GMS and NOAA satellite imagery, RVO. 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 AIREP from PNG 29/4/2001 2130Z. Visual and infra-red GMS and NOAA satellite imagery, RVO. 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 GMS/NOAA Satellite Imagery. 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 NOAA/GMS satellite imagery. 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 GMS satellite imagery. 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 GMS satellite imagery. Plume can no longer be detected on latest GMS imagery.
27 Sep 2002 GMS satellite imagery. Ash plume observed on satellite imagery [27/]2030Z. ASH CLOUD: Narrow ash cloud extends 40 NM to SW
28 Sep 2002 GMS satellite imagery. Ash plume observed on satellite imagery 2130Z. ASH CLOUD: Narrow ash cloud extends 20 NM to the NNW.
15 Oct 2002 GMS satellite imagery. 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 AIREP PZ-ANF, GMS imagery. 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 AIREP. Smoke observed 01/0042Z drifting to NW of volcano at 3 km.
02 Nov 2002 AIREP AIR NIUGINI. Ash observed 02/2030Z drifting to ESE of volcano to 3 km.
11 Apr 2003 NOAA and GMS imagery. Plume evident on 10/2019Z and 11/0357Z NOAA image[s], height estimated below 3 km.
14 Apr 2003 GMS imagery. Possible plume evident on 13/2032Z, 13/2132Z and 13/2225Z [images], height estimated below 3 km
26 Apr 2003 GMS imagery. Possible plume evident on 26/0325Z MODIS as reported by KGWC/ Washington VAAC, height estimated below 4 km.
30 Apr 2003 GMS and MODIS imagery. 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 KGWC. Ash/steam plume observed on 02/2026Z F13 DMSP Imagery. Plume extends 80 NM W of volcano, height to 4 km.
04 May 2003 NOAA satellite imagery. Thin low level plume observed on 04/2053Z. Plume extends 10 NM SW of Ulawun, height estimated at 4 km.
06 May 2003 GMS satellite imagery. Thin low level plume observed on 06/2032Z.
01 Jun 2003 GOES9 satellite imagery. Thin low level plume observed on [May] 31/2325Z.
18 Jun 2003 AFWA. Faint ash/steam plume seen on 18/2206Z satellite imagery.
20 Jun 2003 NOAA 17. Faint plume seen on NOAA 17 20/0004Z satellite imagery.
20 Jun 2003 NOAA 15. Faint plume seen 20/2050Z.
23 Jun 2003 NOAA 15. Faint plume seen on 23/2120Z.
24 Jun 2003 NOAA 15. Faint plume seen on 24/2057Z.
26 Jun 2003 MODIS. Faint plume seen on 26/0005Z extending 25 NM SW, height estimated at 4 km.
28 Jun 2003 NOAA 15. Faint plume seen on 28/2101Z.
02 Jul 2003 NOAA 15. Thin ash plume to 5 km extending 25 NM WSW of summit on 02/2108Z.
13 Jul 2003 AFWA. Thin ash plume to 4 km moving to the W at 10 knots [10 NM/hour or 18 km/hour].
22 Jul 2003 GOES9. 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. The 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 is unvegetated. A prominent E-W escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and E flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side, 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; 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/).