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Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — July 1995


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 20, no. 7 (July 1995)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) July volcanism and local seismicity both quiet

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1995. Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 20:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199507-252140


Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Activity remained low during July, with only weak-to-moderate fumarolic activity at the summit of Tavurvur, and no reported emissions at Vulcan. Only 11 low-frequency earthquakes originated from the N part of the caldera. There were 7 high-frequency (M <1) earthquakes, mostly from the Namanula Hill and Karavia Bay areas in the NE and SW portions of the caldera.

Two unusual "hybrid" earthquakes occurred in July. The associated signals had very high-frequency impulsive onsets, and low-frequency codas (1.2 Hz) that lasted > 1 minute. At distant stations, only the low-frequency signals were registered. The first earthquake, on 3 July, occurred at 3 km depth off the S shore of Matupit Island close to the area of maximum ground deformation. The second, a much smaller hybrid earthquake, occurred on 25 July and was likely from the Vulcan area. Ground deformation measurements showed little or no change throughout July.

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: Ben Talai, RVO.