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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

4.271°S, 152.203°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 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: C. McKee, RVO.