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Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — September 1993


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 18, no. 9 (September 1993)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke.

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) Seismicity declines to normal levels

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1993. Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) (Venzke, E., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 18:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199309-252140


Papua New Guinea

4.2459°S, 152.1937°E; summit elev. 688 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"Seismic activity remained low in July as 394 earthquakes were recorded . . . . The majority of the located earthquakes were in the W part of the caldera seismic zone at depths <2 km. In August, seismic activity increased slightly with 781 earthquakes detected. Most of the earthquakes were small and only 20 were locatable . . . . The epicenters were mainly around the N and E parts of the caldera seismic zone. Seismic swarms were recorded on 6-7 August (S of Tavurvur) and on 15 August (Greet Harbour). No caldera earthquakes were felt during the month. Seismicity returned to normal levels in September with 464 caldera earthquakes recorded. The locatable events numbered 15 and were distributed in the NW, N, and NE parts of the caldera seismic zone.

"Levelling measurements in July showed slight uplift at the S end of Matupit Island, although less than was recorded in June. Additional measurements on 30 August again showed uplift. The change since the previous survey (27 July) was 10-15 mm. Uplift for the past 12 months at the S end of the island was 79-95 mm. Ground deformation measurements were restricted to water-tube tilt observations and no significant changes were recorded."

Geological Summary. 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 asymmetrical 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 1,400 years ago. An earlier caldera-forming eruption about 7,100 years ago is thought to have originated from Tavui caldera, offshore to the north. Three small stratovolcanoes lie outside the N and NE caldera rims. Post-caldera eruptions built basaltic-to-dacitic pyroclastic cones on the caldera floor near the NE and W 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.

Information Contacts: C. McKee, N. Lauer, L. Sipison, B. Talai, R. Stewart, and D. Lolok, RVO.