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Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — April 1993


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 18, no. 4 (April 1993)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke.

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) Seismic activity remains high; no ground uplift

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1993. Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) (Venzke, E., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 18:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199304-252140


Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"The number of earthquakes detected in April was 1,061, . . . still relatively high compared to background (250-350 earthquakes/month). Large swarms of >100 earthquakes occurred on 1, 3, and 21 April. No earthquakes were felt, suggesting that the largest event was M 2-2.5. The epicenters of the 52 accurately located earthquakes were mainly in the W and NE parts of the caldera seismic zone, similar to . . . March.

"Routine monthly levelling from Rabaul town to Matupit Island showed a small uplift at the S end of the island. Other parts of this levelling line showed no significant changes compared to March. Additional levelling along the N side of Greet Harbor showed a deflation of up to 13 mm since the last survey in August 1992.

"The relatively high level of seismicity with little or no associated ground uplift is reminiscent of activity recorded in mid-1986. The lack of significant uplift suggests that neither episode was related to any pronounced movement of magma within the caldera."

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: N. Lauer, R. Stewart, and C. McKee, RVO.