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Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — December 1985

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 10, no. 12 (December 1985)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) Seismicity continues to decline

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1985. Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea). In: McClelland, L. (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 10:12. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198512-252140.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


Rabaul

Papua New Guinea

4.271°S, 152.203°E; summit elev. 688 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


"Seismicity continued to decline in December with only 48 events of small magnitude (ML 0.5), compared to 115 events in November. Levelling 11 and 12 December showed consistent subsidence on Matupit Island for the first time since the levelling program was begun in 1973. The southern tip of Matupit Island had dropped 1.4 cm since the last levelling in early October. This may indicate the beginning of a deflationary period within the caldera. There were no significant changes in the tilt, EDM data, or sea level."

Geologic Background. 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 688-m-high asymmetrical pyroclastic 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 1400 years ago. An earlier caldera-forming eruption about 7100 years ago is now considered to have originated from Tavui caldera, offshore to the north. Three small stratovolcanoes lie outside the northern and NE caldera rims. Post-caldera eruptions built basaltic-to-dacitic pyroclastic cones on the caldera floor near the NE and western 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: J. Mori, RVO.