Report on Lopevi (Vanuatu) — 6 June-12 June 2001
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 June-12 June 2001
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2001. Report on Lopevi (Vanuatu). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 June-12 June 2001. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
16.507°S, 168.346°E; summit elev. 1413 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
According to the Wellington VAAC an eruption at Lopevi that began on 8 June at 1250 produced an ash cloud that rose at least 6 km a.s.l. and drifted to the WNW. The ash cloud was clearly visible on enhanced satellite imagery for many hours. According to news reports, more than 0.9 m of ash was deposited on the uninhabited island of Lopevi and several inches covered the neighboring island of Paama. As a result, on Paama the ~1,600 resident's water supply was contaminated (open water sources tested around 12 June showed a PH value of 3) and the crops were severely damaged by ash and gas from the eruptions. There were no reports of injuries, but the National Disaster Management Office project officer, Barton Bisiwei, stated that hundreds of people on Paama suffered from throat, chest, and lung problems as a result of breathing ash and gas. Smaller amounts of ash also fell on the islands of Ambrym, Malekula, and Epi. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the heavy ash fall in Paama had almost ceased by 12 June, but strong Southeasterly Trade Winds (10-15 knots) continued to spread the ash. A government spokesperson stated that as of 13 June no evacuations had been ordered.
Geologic Background. The small 7-km-wide conical island of Lopevi, known locally as Vanei Vollohulu, is one of Vanuatu's most active volcanoes. A small summit crater containing a cinder cone is breached to the NW and tops an older cone that is rimmed by the remnant of a larger crater. The basaltic-to-andesitic volcano has been active during historical time at both summit and flank vents, primarily along a NW-SE-trending fissure that cuts across the island, producing moderate explosive eruptions and lava flows that reached the coast. Historical eruptions at the 1413-m-high volcano date back to the mid-19th century. The island was evacuated following major eruptions in 1939 and 1960. The latter eruption, from a NW-flank fissure vent, produced a pyroclastic flow that swept to the sea and a lava flow that formed a new peninsula on the western coast.