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Report on Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — October 1988


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 13, no. 10 (October 1988)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) Earthquakes and tremor; vapor emission

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1988. Report on Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 13:10. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198810-252120


Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"During most days the summit crater remained under cloud cover. When visible, the summit released mostly white vapour in weak to moderate and occasionally large amounts. Recorded seismicity was at a low level during the first four days of October (3-13 small B-type events/day), but a sudden upsurge in the number of seismic events occurred on the 5th with a total of 575 recorded. From the 6th to the 25th, daily totals of events fluctuated between 2 and 415. The average amplitude from the 1st to the 25th remained constant. On the 26th, a sudden change in seismic activity occurred and continued to the end of the month. [This] seismicity was characterized by bands of low-frequency harmonic tremor recorded for long periods (1-2 hours) with a further increase in size and number of accompanying B-type events. These events sometimes occurred in groups (1-3 events/minute) with average amplitude 8 times higher than normal. A steady increase in the number of B-type events occurred from the 26th with the highest number (820) recorded on the 31st."

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: D. Lolok, B. Talai, and P. Lowenstein, RVO.