Spectacular eruption of Mount Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea

While we watch Iceland’s unpronounceable volcano, on the other side of the world, in Papua New Guinea, Mount Tavurvur is already causing damage and threatening lives as well as disrupting some international air travel.

Mount Tavurvur erupts in Papua New Guinea on Friday, August 29th, 2014. Image from Roberto Lopez via Twitter

Mount Tavurvur erupts in Papua New Guinea on Friday, August 29th, 2014. Image from Roberto Lopez via Twitter

Mount Tavurvur, is part of the larger Rabaul caldera, seen here:

An ash plume rises from Tavurvur Volcano (part of the Rabaul Volcanic Complex) on November 19, 1999. NASA/USGS Landsat 7.

At center, an ash plume rises from Tavurvur Volcano (part of the Rabaul Volcanic Complex) on November 19, 1999. NASA/USGS Landsat 7.

Tavurvur is an active stratovolcano that lies near Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. It is a sub-vent of the Rabaul caldera and lies on the eastern rim of the larger feature. An eruption of the volcano largely destroyed the nearby town of Rabaul in 1994. (Wikiedia description)

The eruption on Friday shot volcanic ash into the stratosphere and it was reported that Qantas Airlines rerouted some flights to avoid flying through the ash cloud.

Here is amateur video of the eruption:

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33 thoughts on “Spectacular eruption of Mount Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea

  1. Here is the volcano advisory. The high-level ash has dissipated but low-level still expected:
    VA ADVISORY
    DTG: 20140830/1334Z
    VAAC: DARWIN
    VOLCANO: RABAUL 252140
    PSN: S0416 E15212
    AREA: PAPUA NEW GUINEA
    SUMMIT ELEV: 688M
    ADVISORY NR: 2014/12
    INFO SOURCE: MTSAT-2, RVO
    AVIATION COLOUR CODE: RED
    ERUPTION DETAILS: VA PLUME LAST OBS TO FL550 AT 28/1832Z.
    OBS VA DTG: 30/1330Z
    OBS VA CLD:
    SFC/FL070 S0420 E15215 – S0405 E15210 – S0415 E15205 -
    S0420 E15215 MOV NW 15KT
    FCST VA CLD +6HR: 30/1930Z
    SFC/FL070 S0420 E15215 – S0405 E15210 – S0415 E15205 – S0420 E15215
    FCST VA CLD +12HR: 31/0130Z
    SFC/FL070 S0420 E15215 – S0405 E15210 – S0415 E15205 – S0420 E15215
    FCST VA CLD +18HR: 31/0730Z
    SFC/FL070 S0420 E15215 – S0405 E15210 – S0415 E15205 – S0420 E15215
    RMK: HIGH-LEVEL ASH HAS NOW DISSIPATED. HOWEVER, LOW-LEVEL ASH
    STILL EXPECTED. HEIGHT DERIVED FROM MODEL DATA AND RVO GROUND
    REPORT. .. USE TEXT FOR FLIGHT PLANNING PURPOSES..
    NXT ADVISORY: NO LATER THAN 20140830/1930Z

    http://www.bom.gov.au/aviation/warnings/international-sigmet/

    • Relax, it is being. By Mauna Loa standards amongst others. But unless this eruption gets a lot Bigger, will not even register a blip on stratospheric aerosols, hence climate. Pacience, grasshopper.

  2. The Southern Oscillation Index – SOI is calculated as a pressure difference between Darwin and Tahiti. However, if Darwin is replaced by Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), such ‘SOI’ would be more representative of the Southern Oscillation (and its relationship to the ENSO), precisely because of the frequent tectonic activity (quakes, volcanoes, plates shift) in the area.

  3. I think the average person would be stunned to learn that at any given time there is an average of 20 active volcanoes on Earth. I think there are 22 at the moment. Additionally, there are about 135 earthquakes of 4+ magnitude each week. We do not live in a stable environment!

      • Go to volcaniceruptions.org. Click in each icon for the indicated volcano and judge for yourself. I don’t know what your definition of ‘low’ is, but I would not want to be in the vicinty of any volcano belching ash, oozing lava, or heaving projectiles.

      • Here are two closer to the US in Peru. The activity is not as great as Tavurvur, but …

        Volcanic activity report for Sabancaya (Peru), 20 August-26 August 2014Volcanic activity report for Sabancaya (Peru), 20 August-26 August 2014
        IGP reported that on 24-25 August an increase in volcano-tectonic and long-period earthquakes, and during 23-25 August there was a slight increase in white to blueish white fumarolic emissions that rose 500-1500 m above the summit of Sabancaya. On 25 August during the night instruments detected a sequence of explosive events that lasted 82 seconds. On 26 August INGEMMET reported long-period, volcano-tectonic, and hybrid earthquakes. White to light gray plumes rose 100-1300 m above the summit drifting SE.

        Volcanic activity report for Ubinas (Peru), 20 August-26 August 2014
        During 20-26 August INGEMMET reported that the eruption of Ubinas was continuing. During 20-25 August water vapor, gas, and minor ash plumes rose 200-1800 m above the crater and drifted E, NE, and S. On 21 August an explosion was followed by an ash plume that rose 4.2 km (13,800 ft) above the summit and drifted S and expelled incandescent blocks up to 2 km from the crater, primarily on the S flank. The explosion was heard up to 10 km from the volcano. On 22 August an ash plume rose to 1.8 km (5,900 ft).
        ……….

        All of the volcanoes producing magma flows, smoke and ash, earthquakes, or some combination. I think technically one would have to say the activity was high, but perhaps only a few have a violent component.

  4. If that video is shot with an iPhone, the videographer is closer than I would want to be for comfort. When the wind shifts, when it comes time to “bug-out”, it isn’t just “you” who will want to leave.

  5. I flew over the volcano in 1970 when I was with the Australian army, it was quiet then but became more active a couple of decades later (from memory).

    Friends who lived there in the late 1970′s just revisited Rabaul and told me that there were areas that had been buried during the previous period of increased activity, and were no longer recognisable.

  6. Tavurvur erupted mildly when I was there in Rabaul harbour after 1994 (can’t remember the date ) covering the ship with ash. It was simmering the day before when we cruised close to it. We were told that nearby quiet Vulcan was the one to watch for. In 1937, both erupted simultaneously, killing 507 people.

    • It was 1999 on the 28th of August according to my records. That Landsat 7 image above is marked November 1999. It does erupt frequently.
      Some images..
      [IMG]http://i59.tinypic.com/bi3446.jpg[/IMG]
      Eruption from the ship, and it did drift over us.
      [IMG]http://i62.tinypic.com/soyeyw.jpg[/IMG]
      Tavurver, 2hrs before eruption.
      [IMG]http://i57.tinypic.com/dmzccj.jpg[/IMG]
      Vulcan on the same day showing regrowth since 1994.

  7. Not that difficult, bowtha-boong-ga. The letter eth “ð” was a useful letter found in Old English, obviously still used in Icelandic, and represents the “th” in clothes as noted by others earlier. It’s not nearly as bad as the last volcano!

    • Icelandic is as close to Old Norse as you will find on the planet, and is one of the root languages of English after Latin and Greek. I was stationed there in the early 80s, and they were quite proud of their schoolchildren being able to read the old sagas in the original, though all the school textbooks were in English, and they are the most multi-lingual country I’ve ever been in. Surprisingly, they argued over pronunciation of certain words quite a bit. ‘Landmannalaugar’ comes to mind as a prime example.

      • Close, Sarge, the “root language” of English is Anglo-Saxon, with input from Old Norse, various varieties of French, the classical languages as you mention, and several others. The “bones” is most definitely A-S though, which morphed into Old English.

      • The grammar is quite close to Old Norse, but syntax and in particular pronunciation have changed quite a bit. While Icelanders can read Old Norse texts (with somewhat modernised spelling), I’d guess that a 21th century Icelander would struggle a bit to converse with a 10th century Icelander and vise versa.

  8. Those two “bays” next to the volcano must have been hum-dingers when they went off if they are what they appear to be.

  9. I wonder how the continuing billowing ash cloud will affect the equatorial water warming? This could spell certain doom for any chance of an El Nino this year. just this addition of ash in the atmosphere can reflect down-welling solar radiation and possibly allow cooling of the very minor warm pool that currently exists.

    I guess well know in a month or so when the numbers come out..

  10. The name of the Iceland volcano is easily pronounceable, just not easy to figure out how to do so from the Unicode characters which might as well be (unsimplified) Chinese. Something like Euler who never had umlauts and sounds like the hockey team from Edmonton, which is the Capitol of Alberta, not to be confused with the Stampede which provides capital at Calgary.

    WeatherNation is going to provide coverage, so I’ve heard it pronounced several times in the teasers. You know, the channel that provides actual weather. Not TruTV rejects, Climate alarmism, human interest “rescued cat from mudslide” type stories and an occasional bit of conditions or forecast like TWC.

    Prediction: Either/both will inject chlorine directly into the stratosphere. “ozone hole” will open or grow. Anything OTHER than volcanoes will be blamed.

  11. I can’t quite tell from the photo if that is the one always known as Mother, or South Daughter.

    A group of us known rather grandly as the Rabaul Mountaineering society used to climb them or Vulcan in the south western corner of the bay, [the brown patch] about once every 3 weeks or so, in the early 70s when Rabaul was thriving. At that time it was one of the most beautiful towns in the Pacific.

    Climbing them was pretty easy, the slope was not much more than 45 degrees, although the soft ash footing was hard going.

    We used to start well before dawn for the cool, & to try to get some photos of Rabaul from up there. You only had a few minutes after sun up before a convection cloud would form, making photography impossible.

    They call the slot, between the islands of the Solomons iron bottom sound, because of the number of ships sunk there. Rabaul harbor has about five times as many wrecks per square mile, it was a major killing ground for Japanese ships.

    Incidentally US bombers from Green Island bases bombed mother volcano many times during the war, trying to set her off, but she refused to cooperate.

  12. A video was filming from a boat 2.4 miles from the volcano when it blew.
    You can see the shockwave in the clouds and across the ground. Note the rocks thrown into the air with a hang time of 18 seconds.

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