Savo Volcano | John Seach


Central Province, Solomon Islands

9.13 S, 159.82 E
summit elevation 510 m

Savo is an 8 km wide thermally active volcano lying 14 km north of Guadalcanal. Savo Island has a population of megapode birds and the waters are teeming with sharks. Savo has two summit craters.

Savo is elliptical 6x7 km diameter island, with a basal diameter of 9 km at 900–1,000 m below sea level. It has a volume of 10 cubic km. The central summit area contains a 1.5 x 1 km diameter crater.

The volcano is potentially dangerous due to its explosive history, and proximity to Honira the capital of the Solomon Islands. A population of about 3000 people live on Savo Island. Hydrothermal areas located on the island and offshore, include fumaroles, small geysers, hot-water springs and areas of steaming ground.

Eruptions at Savo volcano
Oral tradition describes pyroclastic flows which killed all inhabitants of the island.

1953 Lahars
Lahars originated from the crater in 1953 and flowed down the main river channels.

Eruptions in the 1830's and 1840's
Eruptions during this period were not accurately dated. Evacuations occurred during the eruption and residents fled in canoes. Not everyone was able to escape. The eruption felled trees with a “glowing cloud” in the southwestern sector, and fallen trees pointed seaward. Residents on Guadalcanal reported night was lit up like day. Ash fell on the northwest coast of Guadalcanal. Fiery rocks were thrown into the sea. The eruption lasted for 2 days. Populated areas in southern Savo were uninhabitable for 10 years.

1568 Eruption
The first recorded eruption of Savo was by Mendana in 1568. The eruption produced volcanic plumes, falling ash and the presence of white “roads” cutting through the jungle from the centre of the island to the northern shore.

Toghavitu Eruption
Oral stories from Savo Island indicate a large eruption occurred at the volcano, called the Toghavitu eruption. The date of the eruption is uncertain, but legend says that 1000 or 7000 people were killed. Only a few people survived by escaping to Guadalcanal. Conditions during the eruption included thunder, lightning, high
seas and gale-force winds. Large blocks fell over the island and hot gases flowed down the valleys. Lahars then flowed to the sea.

Further reading
Smith, D. J., et al. "The petrogenesis of sodic island arc magmas at Savo volcano, Solomon Islands." Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 158.6 (2009): 785.

Petterson, M., et al. "The eruptive history and volcanic hazards of Savo, Solomon Islands." Bulletin of Volcanology 65.2-3 (2003): 165-181.

Petterson, M. G., et al. "Volcanic Hazard assessment of Savo Volcano, Solomon Islands, Sw Pacific." Volcanic Hazards and Emergency Management in the Southwest Pacific: 151.

Savo Volcano Eruptions

1865?, 1830's-1840's, 1650, 1568