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Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — April 1988

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 13, no. 4 (April 1988)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) Low-level seismicity; minor caldera subsidence

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1988. Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea). In: McClelland, L. (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 13:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198804-252140.

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 remained steady at a relatively low level in April, with a total of 107 earthquakes recorded. These events were of small magnitude (ML <2), but one event on 10 April had a magnitude of 2.8 and was felt by residents of Matupit Island. The five located earthquakes were concentrated between Vulcan and Matupit Island, under Tavurvur . . . , and under the central part of the caldera. The trend of subsidence of the central part of the caldera continued. Tide gauges off Vulcan headland and Matupit Island recorded subsidence at a rate of ~2-3 mm/month. However, no significant changes were shown by tilt and electronic distance measurements."

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: D. Lolok, C. McKee, and B. Talai, RVO.