Traitor's Head

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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 18.75°S
  • 169.23°E

  • 837 m
    2745 ft

  • 257090
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Traitor's Head.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Traitor's Head.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Traitor's Head.

Basic Data

Volcano Number

Last Known Eruption



1881 CE

837 m / 2745 ft


Volcano Types

Pyroclastic cone(s)

Rock Types

Basalt / Picro-Basalt
Andesite / Basaltic Andesite

Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Intermediate crust (15-25 km)


Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km

Geological Summary

The Traitor's Head Peninsula north of Cook Bay on eastern Erromango Island is comprised of three Holocene volcanic cones that are the youngest on the 50-km-long island. Mounts Rantop, Nagat, and Oulenou are small basaltic-to-andesitic stratovolcanoes with well-preserved morphologies. Mount Rantop is the largest, rising to 837 m, and 421-m-high Mount Oulenou is the most youthful looking, with an unbreached crater. A low plateau to the NW is underlain by ash deposits distributed by southeasterly trade winds. The volcanoes initially formed an offshore island that was joined to the mainland by uplift after volcanism ceased. A submarine vent offshore between the tip of the peninsula and Goat Island, 5 km to the NE, erupted in 1881, the only historical activity of the Erromango volcanoes.


The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography.

Colley H, Ash R P, 1971. The geology of Erromango. New Hebrides Condominium Geol Surv Reg Rpt, 112 p.

Fisher N H, 1957. Melanesia. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 5: 1-105.

Katsui Y (ed), 1971. List of the World Active Volcanoes. Volc Soc Japan draft ms, (limited circulation), 160 p.

Marcelot G, Maury R C, Lefevre C, 1983. Mineralogy of Erromango lavas (New Hebrides): evidence of an early stage of fractionation in island arc basalts. Lithos, 16: 135-151.

New Hebrides Geological Survey, 1974. Geology of Erromango. New Hebrides Geol Surv, 1:100,000 geol map sheet 10.

Eruptive History

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
[ 1959 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain     Four submarine vents N of Erromango
1881 Unknown Confirmed 0 Historical Observations NE flank submarine vent

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Nagat Cone 774 m 18° 45' 0" S 169° 15' 0" E
Oulenou Cone 421 m 18° 46' 0" S 169° 13' 0" E
Rantop, Mount Cone 837 m 18° 46' 0" S 169° 14' 0" E

Photo Gallery

The rectangular peninsula at the top of this Space Shuttle image of Erromango Island with north approximately to the left is the Traitor's Head Peninsula. It lies north of Cook Bay, named for Captain Cook, who actually landed at Polenia Bay on the other side of the peninsula. Three Holocene volcanic cones at Traitor's Head are the youngest on the 50-km-long island. The volcanoes initially formed an offshore island that was later joined to the mainland by uplift. The only historical activity at Erromango was a submarine vent that erupted in 1881.

NASA Space Shuttle image STS68-220-4, 1994 (

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

There are no samples for Traitor's Head in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences Rock and Ore collection.

Affiliated Sites

Large Eruptions of Traitor's Head Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
MODVOLC - HIGP MODIS Thermal Alert System Using infrared satellite Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data, scientists at the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i, developed an automated system called MODVOLC to map thermal hot-spots in near real time. For each MODIS image, the algorithm automatically scans each 1 km pixel within it to check for high-temperature hot-spots. When one is found the date, time, location, and intensity are recorded. MODIS looks at every square km of the Earth every 48 hours, once during the day and once during the night, and the presence of two MODIS sensors in space allows at least four hot-spot observations every two days. Each day updated global maps are compiled to display the locations of all hot spots detected in the previous 24 hours. There is a drop-down list with volcano names which allow users to 'zoom-in' and examine the distribution of hot-spots at a variety of spatial scales.
MIROVA Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity (MIROVA) is a near real time volcanic hot-spot detection system based on the analysis of MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data. In particular, MIROVA uses the Middle InfraRed Radiation (MIR), measured over target volcanoes, in order to detect, locate and measure the heat radiation sourced from volcanic activity.