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Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — 30 January-5 February 2013


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
30 January-5 February 2013
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2013. Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 30 January-5 February 2013. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (30 January-5 February 2013)


Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

According to a news report from 31 January, Tokua airport (20 km SE) reopened after being closed due to ash from Rabaul.

RVO reported that during 1-3 February Rabaul was mostly quiet, although occasional explosions produced light gray ash plumes that rose as high as 500 m above sea level and drifted E and ESE. At 1151 on 3 February an explosion produced a dense, dark ash plume that slowly rose 2 km above sea level and drifted ENE. Ash was observed falling on South Daughter (Turangunan, ~2 km to the E) and to the N of it. Dark gray ash emissions continued for the next 15-20 minutes. During the afternoon of 3 February through the morning of 4 February light gray ash emissions rose at irregular intervals and drifted E and ESE. White vapor plumes rose from the crater in between the ash emissions.

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.

Sources: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Radio Australia