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Report on Manam (Papua New Guinea) — June 1992


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 6 (June 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Manam (Papua New Guinea) Strong ash ejections; Strombolian explosions; lava and pyroclastic flows

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Manam (Papua New Guinea) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199206-251020


Papua New Guinea

4.08°S, 145.037°E; summit elev. 1807 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"The eruption . . . ended on 15 June after another paroxysmal phase from Main Crater (on 7 June). Following the paroxysmal phase of 31 May from Southern Crater, the level of activity was moderate in the first days of June. Both craters were emitting white and blue vapours in weak to moderate amounts, with occasional explosions of ash-laden vapour rising a few hundred meters above the craters, weak roaring noises, and weak fluctuating glow at night.

"On the afternoon of 5 June, Southern Crater entered a phase of intermittent Strombolian activity that sprayed incandescent spatter to as much as 300 m above the crater at intervals of 30-40 minutes. At 1600, Main Crater emitted a dark ash column to ~1,000 m above the crater. Strombolian explosions within the crater must have started soon afterwards, as suggested by fluctuating night glow and roaring sounds. On the 6th, the level of activity remained moderate at Southern Crater while it strengthened at Main Crater. The forceful emissions of grey-brown ash from the latter were identified as Strombolian projections at night. From 0025 until about 1830 on 7 June, this crater produced continuous incandescent projections to 600 m above the rim in an ash column that rose 2-3 km. New lava flows were erupted into the NE Valley and followed the path of the previous flows (4-6 May) on the southern side of the valley, down to 110 m asl.

"Pyroclastic flows were also produced, scorching vegetation and some garden areas on the southern side of the NE Valley to about 1 km from Bokure Village. Downwind from the crater, on the NW side of the island, the sustained dark ash cloud overhead, the fall of ash and lapilli, and roaring sounds of the eruption caused some concern to the population.

"This paroxysmal eruption phase ended with loud explosions from 1817 to 1830 on 7 June. In the following days there was hardly any visible activity from either crater, apart from weak-to-moderate vapour emission. However, the seismicity, which had increased dramatically during the eruptive phase of 6-7 June, remained moderately high. On 12 June, occasional dull explosion sounds were heard again from Main Crater with occasional brown ash clouds and incandescent projections at night. This activity lasted until the 14th, becoming more and more intermittent. The last significant event from Main Crater observed in this eruption was a moderately strong Vulcanian explosion at 0800 on 14 June, which projected a convoluting cloud to 2-3 km above the crater. Likewise, Southern Crater was somewhat reactivated 13-15 June, with occasional weak explosions, a fluctuating night glow, and incandescent projections to 250 m above the crater rim. From 16 June onward, the seismicity dropped markedly and neither crater showed further signs of activity apart from weak, fumarolic emission. The Stage 2 volcanic alert that had applied since 13 April was dropped to Stage 1 (i.e. non-threatening, background level) on 25 June.

"This eruption of Manam is among the most significant since 1958, and can be compared with the eruption of 1974 (Palfreyman and Cooke, 1976; Cooke et al., 1976) as it involved both craters, produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows of significant volume, and affected all but one of the main valleys. However, the 1992 eruption appears to have been larger than the 1974 event. A preliminary estimate of the 1992 lava-flow volume is 17 x 106 m3, compared with only 3 x 106 m3 of lava flows in 1974."

References. Cooke, R.J.S., McKee, C.O., Dent, V.F., and Wallace, D.A., 1976, Striking Sequence of Volcanic Eruptions in the Bismarck Volcanic Arc, Papua New Guinea, in 1972-75; in Johnson, R.W, ed., Volcanism in Australasia, Elsevier, p. 149-172.

Palfreyman, W.D. and Cooke, R.J.S., 1976, Eruptive History of Manam Volcano, Papua New Guinea; Ibid., p. 117-131.

Geological Summary. The 10-km-wide island of Manam, lying 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, is one of the country's most active volcanoes. Four large radial valleys extend from the unvegetated summit of the conical basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks. These valleys channel lava flows and pyroclastic avalanches that have sometimes reached the coast. Five small satellitic centers are located near the island's shoreline on the northern, southern, and western sides. Two summit craters are present; both are active, although most observed eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE valley. Frequent eruptions, typically of mild-to-moderate scale, have been recorded since 1616. Occasional larger eruptions have produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached flat-lying coastal areas and entered the sea, sometimes impacting populated areas.

Information Contacts: P. de Saint-Ours, D. Lolok, and C. McKee, RVO.