Date:         Sat, 24 Sep 1994 11:48:21 +1000
Reply-To: QUAKE-L Discussion List 
Sender: QUAKE-L Discussion List 
From: Kevin Vang 
Comments: To: Multiple recipients of list QUAKE-L ,
          Multiple recips of list SEISM-L ,
          Multiple recipients of list VOLCANO 
To: Multiple recipients of list QUAKE-L 
Status: OR

Now that the Volcano Observatory is on-line via the USA, I will gladly
pass on the job to them of keeping the net informed of the actual specific
of the eruptions.  There information will be infinitely more correct and
specific because they are not relying on the Austalian media, government
sources etc., most of them who have no clue as to understanding volcanoes.

I also apologise for the last headline 'Rabaul Destroyed....', as I got
very excited after speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald people who
witnessed the cave in of the NE flank of Vulcan. I sort of assumed that if
they witnessed the event, they should be able to characterise it properly.
(Bad assumption for many journalists on scientific matters it seems).  It
seems now that the pyroclastic flow went out into the harbour as I
reported but probably did not reach Rabaul proper as they very clearly
reported. Sometimes I think these reporters actually enlarge their stories
for their own benefit.   Anyway I have tried very hard to always state my
sources and also state when a report is official/unofficial. I concur
heartily with John Fink's caveat on my reports and all others.

I talked with Prof. Russell Blong, a seasoned verteran of Rabaul and PNG
volcanism, about the the Sydney Morning Herald Report and the tenor of
much of the reporting (including my own ;-) and he was skeptical and far
more cautious. He told me that he feels there are two principle key points
as to what happens with Rabaul from here on out.

1) What has happened to the port since the eruption.

2) What will the Tavurvur Volcano continue to do.

Russell points out that after the 1937 eruption, everybody carried on
about what to do about the city in much the same way as is starting to happen
now.  That eruption however seems to have actually improved that port.
In a shot time after the eruption, the city was carrying on as if nothing had

He also notes that Tavurvur is directly upwind from Rabaul Town and thus
poses the greater threat in terms of continuous ashfall than Vulcan would.
Therefore its activity is a very important factor.

He also pointed out the layer of pumice on the bay may have served to dampen
any wave action against the wharf the the collapse of the flank of Volcan
may have generated.  The wharf, btw, was reportedly still in tact as of
Thursday afternoon.  Anyway I hoped I have paraphrased Russell's thoughts
correctly or I am likely to get a frying pan up side the head ;-), however
I thought his cautionary perspective was most poignant at this time.

Anyway thanks for all the support many of you have sent me during this
time.  I wont be able to answer very many personal notes as I am totally
swamped by this event, certain Vietnam projects, and my research.  I will
continue to post articles on the Australian relief effort.  But I would
rather leave the reporting on the Volcanoes to the On-site Experts now
that they are on-line.

I WOULD BEG AND PLEAD that whoever is posting the reports from the Rabaul
Observatory, please keep this information coming.  The Australian media
has already effectively abandonned this story and for those of us NGO's
with people on the ground up there, these reports will be crucial in planning
upcoming activities for relief and rehabilitation/resettlement


Dr. Kevin Vang, School of Earth Sciences/ School of Philosophy, History and
Politics, The Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2019, AUSTRALIA

Director, Environment and Development Group International, 64/302 Burns Bay Rd
Lane Cove, NSW 2066 AUSTRALIA     Email 

Senior Program Coordinator, Australian Foundation for the Peoples of the South
Pacific, 1A Barry Road, St Leonards, Sydney, NSW, AUSTRALIA