NEW BRITAIN’S MOUNT TAVURVUR VOLCANO ERUPTS

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NEW BRITAIN’S MOUNT TAVURVUR VOLCANO ERUPTS

By Elizabeth Vuvu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Mar. 6) - Two big explosions from Mt. Tavurvur last Sunday night triggered rumbles, violently shaking houses and windows in Rabaul town and surrounding villages.

[PIR editor’s note: Mount Tavurvur, on the outskirts of the former provincial capital of Rabaul on the Papua New Guinea island of New Britain, last erupted in October of last year. A major eruption in 1994 destroyed much of Rabaul, covering the airport and much of the town with ash, and forcing the construction of a new capital, Kokopo, 20 kilometres away.]

A situation report from Rabaul Volcano Observatory confirmed the latest eruptions occurred at 7:20 p.m. and 10:40 p.m. last Sunday.

Since Saturday, 10 explosions had occurred with the two biggest being last Sunday night and this has been causing anxiety across the communities. Residents were also concerned about the glow at Mt. Tavurvur’s crater.

RVO explained that the glow was molten lava accumulating on the volcano’s vent.

Also during the last two to three weeks, there had been loud rumbles from the volcano as massive volume of volcanic gases escaped rapidly out of the vent.

RVO said the explosions were accompanied by a thick white gray ash and lava fragments showering the sides of the volcano.

The ash emission drifted towards the east and southeast towards Talvat and southern part of New Ireland but may change if the wind pattern changes its course.

Last week, Air Niugini cancelled flights to Rabaul as a safety precaution due to volcanic ash being blown towards Tokua Airport.

RVO is continuously sending situation reports to Air Niugini.

Seismic activities continued at a low level and a total of 25 low frequency earthquakes were recorded on Sunday and Monday and were associated with the degassing activity.

Two high frequency earthquakes were recorded last Saturday.

RVO is now urging the public not to panic as the chance of a big eruption like that of Oct 7 last year is "very low."

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