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Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — 4 December-10 December 2002

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 4 December-10 December 2002
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2002. Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 4 December-10 December 2002. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (4 December-10 December 2002)


Rabaul

Papua New Guinea

4.271°S, 152.203°E; summit elev. 688 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Through 11 December the eruption of Rabaul volcano's Tavurvur cone was characterized by slow, convoluted ash plumes that rose several hundred meters above the summit. There was a small amount of ash in the plumes, and minor ashfall affected areas close to the cone. Seismicity was low to moderate, and there was a ~2.5-minute-long period of harmonic tremor the morning of the 11th that was accompanied by a pulsating noise that emanated from the volcano. No ground deformation was recorded.

Geologic Background. The low-lying Rabaul caldera on the tip of the Gazelle Peninsula at the NE end of New Britain forms a broad sheltered harbor utilized by what was the island's largest city prior to a major eruption in 1994. The outer flanks of the 688-m-high asymmetrical pyroclastic shield volcano are formed by thick pyroclastic-flow deposits. The 8 x 14 km caldera is widely breached on the east, where its floor is flooded by Blanche Bay and was formed about 1400 years ago. An earlier caldera-forming eruption about 7100 years ago is now considered to have originated from Tavui caldera, offshore to the north. Three small stratovolcanoes lie outside the northern and NE caldera rims. Post-caldera eruptions built basaltic-to-dacitic pyroclastic cones on the caldera floor near the NE and western caldera walls. Several of these, including Vulcan cone, which was formed during a large eruption in 1878, have produced major explosive activity during historical time. A powerful explosive eruption in 1994 occurred simultaneously from Vulcan and Tavurvur volcanoes and forced the temporary abandonment of Rabaul city.

Source: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) via the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center