Rabaul Volcano | John Seach


Rabaul is one of the most active volcanoes in Papua New Guinea. Its proximity to large population makes it one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Melanesia.

2019 Earthquake
A magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit 45 km NE of Rabaul volcano on 14 May 2019. The earthquake focus was a shallow depth of 10 km.

2015 Earthquake
A magnitude 7.6 earthquake hit 70 km southeast of Rabaul volcano, Papua New Guinea on 30th March 2015. The earthquake focus was shallow at a depth of 33 km. Earthquake of this magnitude are able to disrupt volcanic systems. Nearby volcanoes include Rabaul, Tavui, and Ambitle. A tsunami threat was issued for areas in the Pacific as far away as Hawaii, but no destructive waves were recorded.

2014 Eruption
A large explosive eruption occurred at Tarvurvur crater on 28th August 2014. Ash emissions reached an altitude of 60,000 ft.

2013 Eruption
Tavurvur crater at Rabaul volcano erupted on the evening of 20th January 2013. Residents heard roaring and rumbling noises from the crater. Ash drifted to Tokua airport and caused the suspension of flights.

2011 Eruptions
During March and April 2011 incandescent vents were observed on the crater floor of Tavurvur volcano. Twelve earthquakes were reported in July. An eruption of ash occurred from Tavurvur cone on 23-24 July 2011. Inflation was recorded at the volcano during the previous 12 months.

2010 Eruptions
Eruptions occurred at Tavurvur cone at Rabaul volcano on 23 July 2010, after elevated seismicity the previous day. Ash clouds rose to an altitude of 1000 m, and caused low visibility in Rabaul town.

2009 Eruptions
Eruptions continue at Rabaul volcano in Papua New Guinea. During the week of 27th March to 2nd April there were occasional strong ash emissions from Tavurvur crater, accompanied by roaring noises. A crater glow was visible at night. Ash fell over Rabaul town on 2nd April, and drifted SE on other days. Generally, deflation was measured at the caldera, but there were periods of inflation during the past 2 weeks. People are advised to stay at least 2 km from the volcano due to risks from explosive activity.

2008 Eruptions
Ash emissions in January. High seismicity and ashfall on Kokopo in February. Large explosion in March rattled windows in Rabaul town.

2006 Eruptions
A large Vulcanian eruption occurred on 7th October 2006. The sub-Plinian eruption began at 0845 hr and continued until early afternoon. Rhythmic air blasts rattles windows and doors in Rabaul town. Eruptions changed to Strombolian at 1415 hours, with frequent explosions accompanied by shock waves. At 1730 hours, the Strombolian activity began to subside. A bright glow was visible during the evening of 7th October on Tavurvur's N rim, accompanied by occasional explosions and loud roaring noises throughout the night.

1994 Eruption
Eruptions at Rabaul volcano in Papua New Guinea began on 19th September 1994 with the almost simultaneous eruptions from Tavurvur and Vulcan vents at opposite sides of the caldera. Vulcan produced the most powerful eruptions with ash to a height of 20 km. Eruptions from Tavurvur reached 6 km above sea level. Mud rain occurred in areas around Rabaul, and salty rain fell in an arc around Vulcan. All houses within 2 km of Vulcan were destroyed within 1 hour by a combination of pyroclastic flows and heavy ashfall. Several tsunami were generated by the eruption of Vulcan, the highest being 5 m. Activity at Vulcan had ceased by 2nd October
1994. Activity at Tavurvur has continued intermittently up to the present time.

1941-1942 Eruptions
An explosive eruption began at Rabaul volcano on 6 June 1941. Eruptions were strombolian and mild vulcanian. The eruptions highlighted the risks of maintaining the Australian administrative centre at Rabaul, and the administration was moved to Lae on the New Guinea mainland in September 1941.

1937 Eruption
Vulcan erupted on 29th May 1937. Within a few minutes the eruption column reached a considerable height. Peleean-type pyroclastic flows moved laterally across the sea. Lightning was observed, and pumice fell from the sky like hail. Within 30 minutes ash started falling on Rabaul town. Boats were left stranded on Rabaul foreshore after tsunamis struck.

Telegram to Australian prime ministers office on 29th May 1937 (Rabaul was administered by Australian government).
"After continuous earth tremors since 4am this day vulcan island erupted about 4 pm emitting dense volumes of smoke and covering Rabaul with volcanic dust making day into night."

1878 Eruption
Strong earthquakes preceded the eruption of Rabaul volcano. Eruption at both Tavurvur and Vulcan vents. Vegetation was destroyed for a distance of up to 2 miles. Fields of pumice stretched for a large distance in the sea. Activity at Vulcan lasted 3-4 days and Tavurvur eruptions lasted about a month. Vulcan formed a new island.

536 AD Eruption
A major caldera forming eruption occurred 1400 years ago, which erupted 11 cubic km of rock. The eruption has been linked with a mystery cloud over Europe, Middle East, and China in 536 AD which blocked sunlight for 12-18 months. This volcanic dry fog was the largest in recorded history.