Report on Tinakula (Solomon Islands) — January 2010

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 35, no. 1 (January 2010)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Tinakula (Solomon Islands) Erupting in September 2009; ongoing MODVOLC thermal alerts into 2010

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2010. Report on Tinakula (Solomon Islands). In: Wunderman, R (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 35:1. Smithsonian Institution.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


Solomon Islands

10.386°S, 165.804°E; summit elev. 796 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Tinakula displayed intermittent MODIS/MODVOLC satellite thermal alerts February 2006-November 2007, and September 2008-August 2009 (BGVN 31:03, 32:03, 32:07, 34:10). Ground observations are rare at this frequently active but uninhabited island.

No thermal alerts were recorded between 15 August 2009 and 16 January 2010, although there was a ground observation of "steam and smoke" above the summit and incandescent blocks rolling down the flanks in mid-September (BGVN 34:10). Thermal anomalies were detected between 17 January 2010 and 24 February 2010 (table 5).

Table 5. MODIS/MODVOLC satellite thermal alerts recorded at Tinakula during 1 January-7 March 2010. Courtesy of the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) Thermal Alerts System.

Date Time (UTC) Pixels Satellite
17 Jan 2010 1150 1 Terra
28 Jan 2010 1130 1 Terra
28 Jan 2010 1435 1 Aqua
15 Feb 2010 1425 1 Aqua
19 Feb 2010 2329 1 Terra
20 Feb 2010 1135 2 Terra
20 Feb 2010 1440 2 Aqua
22 Feb 2010 1125 1 Terra
22 Feb 2010 1430 1 Aqua
24 Feb 2010 1415 1 Aqua
27 Feb 2010 1145 1 Terra

ASTER images of Tinakula over a wide date range are available from the Geological Survey of Japan's Image Database for Volcanoes. One such image (figure 7) shows activity from 13 April 2006 (BGVN 31:03). On the Flickr website there is an image of an eruptive plume on 27 August 2006.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. False-color VNIR (visible/near-infrared) image of Tinakula taken by the ASTER instrument aboard the Terra satellite on 13 April 2006 (2323 UTC). The image shows a S-blowing plume visible to the image's edge. The island is 3.6 km maximum diameter N-S. A distinct radially directed darker zone trending from the summit to the W side of the island represents a collapse feature (similar to the Sciara del Fuoco on Stromboli), a zone that funneled material from the active crater and remained as an area of ongoing erosion and deposition. In contrast, the rest of the island appears vegetated. [Image is also referred to as Scene ID: 84 187 6.] ASTER images stored in this database are supplied by GEOGrid. Courtesy of the Geological Survey of Japan.

Geologic Background. The small 3.5-km-wide island of Tinakula is the exposed summit of a massive stratovolcano at the NW end of the Santa Cruz islands. Similar to Stromboli, it has a breached summit crater that extends from the summit to below sea level. Landslides enlarged this scarp in 1965, creating an embayment on the NW coast. The satellitic cone of Mendana is located on the SE side. The dominantly andesitic volcano has frequently been observed in eruption since the era of Spanish exploration began in 1595. In about 1840, an explosive eruption apparently produced pyroclastic flows that swept all sides of the island, killing its inhabitants. Frequent historical eruptions have originated from a cone constructed within the large breached crater. These have left the upper flanks and the steep apron of lava flows and volcaniclastic debris within the breach unvegetated.

Information Contacts: Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL:; Global Earth Observation Grid (GEO Grid), National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) (URL:; and Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) (URL: