Logo link to homepage

Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — 9 July-15 July 2008


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
9 July-15 July 2008
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2008. Report on Rabaul (Papua New Guinea). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 9 July-15 July 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (9 July-15 July 2008)


Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Eruptions continued from the Tavurvur cone at Rabul during 7-12 July 2008. Occasional thick gray ash clouds formed a continuous ash plume drifting NW, causing fine to moderate ashfall in Rabaul town and other villages. Occasional loud roaring noises were heard accompanying some of the emissions. Seismicity was at moderate levels, dominated by low-frequency volcanic earthquakes. The deflationary trend, identified from ground deformation measurements since July 2007, ceased between May and June 2008.

Advisories to aviators issued by the Darwin VAAC noted ash plumes to altitudes of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. extending 90 km downwind to the NW during 14-15 July.

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.

Sources: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)