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Report on Manam (Papua New Guinea) — March 1984


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 9, no. 3 (March 1984)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Manam (Papua New Guinea) Strombolian jets, glowing avalanches, scoria flows

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1984. Report on Manam (Papua New Guinea) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 9:3. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198403-251020


Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"The phase of major Southern crater eruptive activity continued until mid-March, with the same pattern of high Strombolian projections resulting in flows and glowing avalanches in the SE valley. Sub-continuous vertical jets of incandescent fragments (up to 10 per minute) commonly reached 300-500 m above the crater rim. The Strombolian jets appeared to originate without recognizable synchronization from two and possibly three vents within Southern crater.

"Under the influence of the seasonal NW wind, the fragments, mainly scoria, accumulated on the SE side of the crater on 35° slopes. Approximately 20-30% of the scoria rolled down to the base of the talus fan or, gathering in channels, formed scoria-fed lava flows which progressed at about 100 m per day. The high rate of scoria accumulation prevented cooling and consolidation of the deposits. Their instability resulted in debris flows and glowing avalanches on 6-9 and 11-12 March. The avalanches, occurring in series of 10-30 within periods of 20-90 minutes, generally came to rest at the base of the talus fan, a descent of about 900 m from the summit at 1800 m. The most voluminous avalanches, however, on 8 and 11 March, had enough momentum to travel another kilometer down the SE valley to about 300 m elevation. Pyroclastic avalanches ended on 12 March with the decrease in intensity of the summit Strombolian explosions. During the last 2 weeks of March, they averaged 1 per minute and reached heights of 100-300 m above the crater. Main crater activity remained unchanged, consisting of thick white vapour emission, illuminated at night by weak fluctuating glow.

"Seismicity was high throughout the month with noticeable peaks. The amplitude of B-type events was up to 10 times normal 15-16 March, and seven times normal 23-26 March. Background harmonic tremor was strong 6-17 March. The daily number of volcanic earthquakes reached 2800 on the 9th before decreasing to 1400 on 16-19 March, and rising to over 2000 after the 20th. Tiltmeter measurements at Tabele Observatory continued to register a steady deflationary change of about 2 µµrad per month."

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, RVO.