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Report on Bagana (Papua New Guinea) — December 2019


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 44, no. 12 (December 2019)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke. Edited by Kadie L. Bennis.

Bagana (Papua New Guinea) Intermittent gas-and-steam emissions and thermal anomalies during June-November 2019

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2019. Report on Bagana (Papua New Guinea) (Bennis, K.L., and Venzke, E., eds.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 44:12. Smithsonian Institution.


Papua New Guinea

6.137°S, 155.196°E; summit elev. 1855 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Bagana volcano is found in a remote portion of central Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea. The most recent eruptive phase that began in early 2000 has produced ash plumes and thermal anomalies (BGVN 44:06, 50:01). Activity has remained low between January-July 2019 with rare thermal anomalies and occasional steam plumes. This reporting period updates information for June-November 2019 and includes thermal anomalies and intermittent gas-and-steam emissions. Thermal data and satellite imagery are the primary sources of information for this report.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed an increased number of thermal anomalies within 5 km from the summit beginning in late July-early August (figure 38). Two Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed faint, roughly linear thermal anomalies, indicative of lava flows trending EW and NS on 7 July 2019 and 6 August, respectively (figure 39). Weak thermal hotspots were briefly detected in late September-early October after a short hiatus in September. No thermal anomalies were recorded in Sentinel-2 past August due to cloud cover; however, gas-and-steam emissions were visible on 7 July and in September (figures 39, 40, and 41).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Thermal anomalies near the crater summit at Bagana during February-November 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) increased in frequency and power in early August. A small cluster was detected in early October after a brief pause in activity in early September. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showing small thermal anomalies at Bagana between July-August 2019. Left: A very faint thermal anomaly and a gas-and-steam plume is seen on 7 July 2019. Right: Two small thermal anomalies are faintly seen on 6 August 2019. Both Sentinel-2 satellite images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. A gas-and-steam plume rising from the summit of Bagana on 18 September 2019. Courtesy of Brendan McCormick Kilbride (University of Manchester).

The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) scientific team partnered with the Rabaul Volcano Observatory and the Bougainville Disaster Office to observe activity at Bagana and collect gas data using drone technology during two weeks of field work in mid-September 2019. For this field work, the major focus was to understand the composition of the volcanic gas emitted at Bagana and measure the concentration of these gases. Since Bagana is remote and difficult to climb, research about its gas emissions has been limited. The recent advancements in drone technology has allowed for new data collection at the summit of Bagana (figure 41). Most of the emissions consisted of water vapor, according to Brendan McCormick Kilbride, one of the volcanologists on this trip. During 14-19 September there was consistently a strong gas-and-steam plume from Bagana (figure 42).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Degassing plumes seen from drone footage 100 m above the summit of Bagana. Top: Zoomed out view of the summit of Bagana degassing. Bottom: Closer perspective of the gases emitted from Bagana. Courtesy of Kieran Wood (University of Bristol) and the Bristol Flight Laboratory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Photos of gas-and-steam plumes rising from Bagana between 14-19 September 2019. Courtesy of Brendan McCormick Kilbride (University of Manchester).

Geological Summary. Bagana volcano, occupying a remote portion of central Bougainville Island, is one of Melanesia's youngest and most active volcanoes. This massive symmetrical cone was largely constructed by an accumulation of viscous andesitic lava flows. The entire edifice could have been constructed in about 300 years at its present rate of lava production. Eruptive activity is frequent and characterized by non-explosive effusion of viscous lava that maintains a small lava dome in the summit crater, although explosive activity occasionally producing pyroclastic flows also occurs. Lava flows form dramatic, freshly preserved tongue-shaped lobes up to 50 m thick with prominent levees that descend the flanks on all sides.

Information Contacts: MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Brendan McCormick Kilbride, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom (URL: https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/brendan.mccormickkilbride.html, Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrendanVolc); Kieran Wood, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1QU, United Kingdom (URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/engineering/people/kieran-t-wood/index.html, Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrKieranWood, video posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7Hx645v0eU); University of Bristol Flight Laboratory, Bristol BS8 1QU, United Kingdom (Twitter: https://twitter.com/UOBFlightLab).