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Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — 19 March-25 March 2008

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 19 March-25 March 2008
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2008. Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 19 March-25 March 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (19 March-25 March 2008)


Rabaul

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


RVO reported that ash plumes from Rabaul caldera's Tavurvur cone rose to altitudes of 1.7-3.2 km (5,600-10,500 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in almost all directions during 19-26 March. Ashfall was reported daily in areas downwind, including Rabaul Town (3-5 km NW), Matupit Island (2 km W), and Kokopo (20 km SE). Incandescence at the summit was observed and roaring noises were occasionally heard. An explosion produced lava fragments that showered the flanks on 20 March. Shockwaves rattled windows in Rabaul Town. Another explosion showered the flanks with lava fragments on 22 March. During 25-26 March, ashfall affected flights into Tokua (about 20 km SE of Rabaul).

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)