Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — November 1986
Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 11, no. 11 (November 1986)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.
Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) Swarms with strongest earthquake since May 1985
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 1986. Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea). In: McClelland, L. (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 11:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198611-252140.
Papua New Guinea
4.271°S, 152.203°E; summit elev. 688 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
"A small swarm of volcanic earthquakes was recorded from the Blanche Bay area on 25 and 26 November. A total of 112 and 31 events occurred on the two days. A M 3.1 earthquake, the strongest recorded since May 1985, occurred under Blanche Bay near Sulphur Point. No significant ground deformation accompanied the seismic activity. Other than the increases on 25 and 26 November, seismicity remained at a low level; 316 earthquakes were recorded in November. The number of events/day varied from 1 to 22."
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: B. Talai and P. Lowenstein, RVO.