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Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — 23 February-1 March 2005


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
23 February-1 March 2005
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2005. Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 23 February-1 March 2005. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (23 February-1 March 2005)


Papua New Guinea

4.271°S, 152.203°E; summit elev. 688 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

RVO reported that Rabaul caldera's active vent at Tavurvur cone continued to erupt during 22-24 February. Ash clouds rose several hundred meters before drifting SE. Most ash fell offshore, but there were reports of fine ash reaching Tokua airport, ~45 km SW of Rabual Town. RVO stated that based on past eruptive episodes from Tavurvur between 1995 and 2004 the current episode will most likely continue indefinitely. Also, the eruption will fluctuate but is not expected to reach levels that will pose a threat to life in Rabaul Town and surrounding villages. People were discouraged from venturing within 1 km of the eruptive vent. According to a news report, several flights to and from Tokua airport were cancelled due to ashfall in the area. Many flights have been cancelled since the eruption commenced in late January 2005.

Geological Summary. 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.

Source: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO)