Images of 1994 Rabaul eruption

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Rabaul caldera, Papua New Guinea

The 1994-1996 eruptions

volcano number: 0502-14= (according to Volcanoes of the World, 1994 edition)

summit elevation: 688 m

location: 4.271°S, 152.203°E

Vulcan is seen here in eruption from at least three vents, probably on 21 September 1994. This may have been the scene which was reported as "half of the cone collapsed in the direction of the town" on one of the eruption days. What can be seen here is a small vent on the lower left (south?) flank of the 1937 cone of Vulcan that give off mostly steam, a second, more vigorous one on the summit (at the 1937 crater) that emits a weak ash plume, and a third vent behind the cone that produces powerful Surtseyan eruptions with surges spreading out to both sides of the picture. A dense, ash-laden surge traveling in the direction of Rabaul is well visible in the right half of the image. Photo was probably taken from the SE or SSE. Published in the Neue Z,rcher Zeitung of 22 September 1994 and Neues Deutschland on 23 September 1994, courtesy of Reuters.

Rabaul caldera was the site of one of World's most spectacular eruptions in recent years. On 19 September 1994, two intracaldera cones (Tavurvur and Vulcan) erupted, 51 years after the most recent activity from Tavurvur and 57 years after Vulcan's latest eruption. Thanks to a timely warning, tens of thousands of residents could evacuate before the eruption began. While Vulcan ceased erupting after about two weeks, Tavurvur has remained sporadically active through early January 1996.

Far more info is available on the Rabaul page of the MTU volcano WWW site.

This is one of the very few photos of which I know so far where Vulcan and Rabaul can be seen in eruption together. It was probably taken the same day as previous photo (above) or little later. Vulcan, on the left side, is displaying the same style of eruption as in the upper photo, but apparently less vigorous and no activity can be seen from the small vent on the south flank. Surges extending to both sides behind the 1937 cone (from the 1994 vent which is somewhere on the north flank if I remember that right) are clearly visible. Tavurvur, right, emits dense ash clouds but with less energy. Town of Rabaul is right in the background, behind the two volcanoes and under their ash plumes. Photo was published in the Welt am Sonntag of 25 September 1994, courtesy of Reuters.

Click on images to get larger (ca. 300 k) versions of these photos.

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