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Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — 3 September-9 September 2008

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 3 September-9 September 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, 3 September-9 September 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (3 September-9 September 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 continued to be emitted during 1-8 September. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind. Ash accumulation in Rabaul Town was significant in mid-to-late July and in August; fresh ashfall and re-suspended ashfall due to winds and cars caused "unpleasant" conditions. During 1-6 September, conditions improved due to decreased ashfall, changes in wind patterns, and light rains that inhibited ash re-suspension. Continuous incandescence at the summit was observed, and roaring and rumbling noises were heard. Explosions also ejected incandescent lava fragments.

Based on analysis of satellite imagery and information from RVO, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 4-6 and 8-9 September ash plumes rose to altitudes of 1.8-3 km (6,000-10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W and NW.

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.

Sources: Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO)