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Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — February 1992


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 2 (February 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) Brief earthquake swarm

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199202-252140


Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"There was a slight increase in seismicity in February. The total number of caldera earthquakes was 212 . . . with daily totals ranging from 0 to 35. The highest daily earthquake totals were due to a swarm on 22 February and a series of small discrete events on 29 February. The swarm included several events that were felt in Rabaul, the largest [ML 3.2]. Earthquakes of this swarm were located in the W part of the caldera seismic zone at a depth of ~3 km. All of the other caldera earthquakes recorded in February were of small magnitude (ML <0.5). Levelling measurements carried out on 12 February indicated slight subsidence (8 mm) at the S part of Matupit Island since January's measurements. No significant tilt 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, RVO.