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Report on Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — April 1983


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 8, no. 4 (April 1983)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) Increased seismicity, including volcanic tremor

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1983. Report on Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 8:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198304-252120


Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"Intriguing seismicity, possibly indicating an eruption in the near future, continued in April and included periods of volcanic tremor. Amplitudes of discrete events were generally low, although a degree of cyclicity in amplitudes was apparent, with a period of about 8-11 days. Daily earthquake totals increased from about 600 to about 1,500.

"After the 21-23 March seismic crisis, Ulawun's seismicity showed a fairly steady decay, reaching a very low level in early April. One clear A-type event was recorded on 7 April. A new seismic crisis, preceded by a lull about 2 hours long, began on 10 April at about 0310. The initial, strong continuous tremor changed to discontinuous tremor within a few hours. The entire period of tremor lasted about 6 hours. After this crisis, a steady decline was evident until 17 April. Small A-type events were recorded 11-16 April.

"On 17 April, 5 periods of tremor occurred. After about 3 hours of very low seismicity, the first began at 1645. A distinct lull also preceded the third period. Tremor was mostly continuous, with total duration of about 280 minutes. Individual periods lasted about 29-106 minutes, and were followed by about 5 hours of frequent discrete shocks and discontinuous tremor. Beginning 18 April a gradual decay in amplitude and frequency of occurrence of the shocks was recorded. Possible small A-type events were recorded 20-29 April.

"No unusual visible activity directly accompanied the seismic crisis. However, ejection of one or more smoke rings, seen to rise rapidly to about 500 m above the summit, was reported 11-18 April. Blue vapour emission was seen 14 April. Ulawun's usual white vapour emissions were moderate to strong throughout the month, but increased toward the end."

Geological Summary. The symmetrical basaltic-to-andesitic Ulawun stratovolcano is the highest volcano of the Bismarck arc, and one of Papua New Guinea's most frequently active. The volcano, also known as the Father, rises above the N coast of the island of New Britain across a low saddle NE of Bamus volcano, the South Son. The upper 1,000 m is unvegetated. A prominent E-W escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and E flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side, and a flank lava-flow complex lies to the south of this valley. Historical eruptions date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions were mildly explosive until 1967, but after 1970 several larger eruptions produced lava flows and basaltic pyroclastic flows, greatly modifying the summit crater.

Information Contacts: C. McKee, RVO.