Report on Gaua (Vanuatu) — 29 December-4 January 2011
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 29 December-4 January 2011
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2010. Report on Gaua (Vanuatu). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 29 December-4 January 2011. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
14.27°S, 167.5°E; summit elev. 797 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
On 21 December, the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory reported that volcanic activity from Gaua had been low since September. Recent observations indicated that the near-vent vegetation and vegetation exposed to trade winds on the W side of the island was again growing. Seismic data showed a decreasing number of events. The Alert Level was lowered to 1 (on a scale of 0-4).
Geologic Background. The roughly 20-km-diameter Gaua Island, also known as Santa Maria, consists of a basaltic-to-andesitic stratovolcano with an 6 x 9 km wide summit caldera. Small parasitic vents near the caldera rim fed Pleistocene lava flows that reached the coast on several sides of the island; several littoral cones were formed where these lava flows reached the sea. Quiet collapse that formed the roughly 700-m-deep caldera was followed by extensive ash eruptions. Construction of the historically active cone of Mount Garat (Gharat) and other small cinder cones in the SW part of the caldera has left a crescent-shaped caldera lake. The symmetrical, flat-topped Mount Garat cone is topped by three pit craters. The onset of eruptive activity from a vent high on the SE flank in 1962 ended a long period of dormancy.