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Report on Ambrym (Vanuatu) — April 2000


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 25, no. 4 (April 2000)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Ambrym (Vanuatu) Vapor emissions observed in February; pilots report seeing lava in vents

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2000. Report on Ambrym (Vanuatu) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 25:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200004-257040



16.25°S, 168.12°E; summit elev. 1334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Ambrym was observed during an aircraft overflight on 25 February 2000. Pilot reports indicated that lava was beginning to reappear in some vents. As previously reported (BGVN 25:02), the long-standing lava lakes in Benbow and Mbwelesu craters had disappeared after the 26 November 1999 earthquake. Activity increased slightly from January indicating the magma column may be rising again.

Brown vapor was being emitted from Mbwelesu crater. The bottom of the crater could be seen but no lava was observed. Four craters, each ~8 m in diameter, were located on a 40 x 10 m section of the sill on the E rim of the crater. This rim had been weakened by the November 1999 earthquake and appeared ready to fall. Both vents inside Benbow crater emitted white vapor, which rose 1.5 km as one plume. The bottom of the vents could not be seen.

Geological Summary. Ambrym, a large basaltic volcano with a 12-km-wide caldera, is one of the most active volcanoes of the New Hebrides Arc. A thick, almost exclusively pyroclastic sequence, initially dacitic then basaltic, overlies lava flows of a pre-caldera shield volcano. The caldera was formed during a major Plinian eruption with dacitic pyroclastic flows about 1,900 years ago. Post-caldera eruptions, primarily from Marum and Benbow cones, have partially filled the caldera floor and produced lava flows that ponded on the floor or overflowed through gaps in the caldera rim. Post-caldera eruptions have also formed a series of scoria cones and maars along a fissure system oriented ENE-WSW. Eruptions have apparently occurred almost yearly during historical time from cones within the caldera or from flank vents. However, from 1850 to 1950, reporting was mostly limited to extra-caldera eruptions that would have affected local populations.

Information Contacts: John Seach, PO Box 16, Chatsworth Island, N.S.W. 2469, Australia.