Logo link to homepage

Report on Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — 20 September-26 September 2023


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20 September-26 September 2023
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2023. Report on Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20 September-26 September 2023. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (20 September-26 September 2023)


Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) reported that diffuse white emissions occasionally rose from the active vent at Ulawun’s summit crater from 1430 on 19 September through most of 25 September. Weather conditions sometimes prevented visual observations. Seismicity was characterized as low during the beginning of the reporting period, dominated by low-level, continuous volcanic tremors that were punctuated by occasional, small, low-frequency, volcanic events. The pattern of seismicity changed just before 1000 on 22 September with the emergence of very distinct, low-frequency volcanic earthquakes and short-duration, sub-continuous, volcanic tremors with increased amplitudes.

The amplitude of the continuous volcanic tremor fluctuated but slowly rose overall until about 1300 on 25 September when the increase became rapid. At around 1739 on 25 September a 4-5-km tall, white-to-pale-gray plume and minor incandescence at the summit vent were visible in webcam images. The incandescence intensified as the evening grew darker. The plume did not change and no ashfall was reported, suggesting low ash content. The incandescence intensified and became distinct in total darkness by 1830. Incandescent lava fragments around the summit crater area and a possible small lava flow on the upper N flank were visible; rumbling and roaring sounds were heard. The eruption was over by 2000. RSAM values peaked at 6,000 during the eruption; at the end of the activity seismicity decreased rapidly and was characterized by low levels of volcanic tremor. The Alert Level remained at Stage 1 (the lowest level on the four-level scale).

Geological Summary. The symmetrical basaltic-to-andesitic Ulawun stratovolcano is the highest volcano of the Bismarck arc, and one of Papua New Guinea's most frequently active. The volcano, also known as the Father, rises above the N coast of the island of New Britain across a low saddle NE of Bamus volcano, the South Son. The upper 1,000 m is unvegetated. A prominent E-W escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and E flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side, and a flank lava-flow complex lies to the south of this valley. Historical eruptions date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions were mildly explosive until 1967, but after 1970 several larger eruptions produced lava flows and basaltic pyroclastic flows, greatly modifying the summit crater.

Source: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO)