Logo link to homepage

Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — October 1988


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 13, no. 10 (October 1988)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) Seismicity increases slightly; minor inflation

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1988. Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 13:10. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198810-252140


Papua New Guinea

4.271°S, 152.203°E; summit elev. 688 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"Seismicity increased slightly in October with a total of 402 earthquakes recorded. Events averaged 13/day with the highest count reaching 60 on the 3rd. One weakly felt earthquake of M 2.6 occurred on the 30th and was centered in the Blanche Bay area. Most of 14 locatable events were situated in the NW caldera ring fault between Vulcan and Matupit Island. Smaller concentrations also occurred on the NE portion near Tavurvur and SW of Karavia Bay.

"Tilt measurements [and EDM results] showed no significant changes during the month. . . . Between 20 September and 4 November, levelling measurements showed a slight (12 mm) . . . uplift at the S part of Matupit Island."

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 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.

Information Contacts: D. Lolok, B. Talai, and P. Lowenstein, RVO.