Discrete eruption at Manam volcano ejects ash to 10.4 km (34 000 feet) a.s.l., Aviation Color Code raised to Red, P.N.G.

A discrete emission of volcanic ash to a height of 10.4 km (34 000 feet) above sea level took place at Manam volcano, Papua New Guinea around 12:48 UTC, October 5, 2018.

The eruption does not seem to be ongoing, the Darwin VAAC said 14:17 UTC.  Volcanic ash cloud rose up to 10.4 km (34 000 feet) a.s.l. and is moving west over mainland Papua New Guinea while rapidly weakening. 

The Aviation Color Code has been raised from Orange to Red.

Manam on October 2, 2018. Credit: ESA/Sentinel-2

The last major eruption at this volcano took place at 20:00 UTC on August 24, 2018, when a sudden, high-impact eruption sent volcanic ash up to 15 000 km (50 000 feet) a.s.l. and produced lava flows that forced 2 000 villagers to flee. At the time, islanders reported ash and other debris from the volcano was so thick that sunlight was totally blocked for a few hours.

The Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) described it as an unusually large eruption. “Ash falls were so heavy that trees broke under the weight,” it said.

Another notable eruption took place on September 23 when a short-lived eruption produced an ash plume that rose 8.5 km (28 000 feet) a.s.l. and drifted northwest.

Pale-gray-to-brown ash was seen rising from Manam’s Southern Crater at the end of September. Activity was most intense on September 23 with an increased amount of ash emissions, and occasional weak roaring and rumbling noises.

Residents of Tabele on the SW side of the island observed bright summit incandescence, which was also visible from the Bogia Government Station on the mainland (22 km / 13.6 miles SSW). Scoria and minor amounts of ash fell in Jogari and villages to the N.

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This volcano made news when it started erupting on April 16, 2017, causing evacuations and prompting officials to raise the Aviation Color Code to Orange.

According to local media reports, residents said the volcano began belching smoke and flames around 09:00 UTC (19:00 local time) on April 16. The blasts have continued until April 18, leaving the island very dark, they said.

A local councilor, Paul Maburau, said many residents had taken refuge, with many choosing to leave the island.

Geological summary

The 10-km-wide (6.2 miles) island of Manam, lying 13 km (8 miles) off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, is one of the country’s most active volcanoes. Four large radial valleys extend from the unvegetated summit of the conical 1 807-m-high (5 928 feet) basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks.

These “avalanche valleys” channel lava flows and pyroclastic avalanches that have sometimes reached the coast. Five small satellitic centers are located near the island’s shoreline on the northern, southern, and western sides. 

Two summit craters are present; both are active, although most historical eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE valley.

Frequent historical eruptions, typically of mild-to-moderate scale, have been recorded since 1616. Occasional larger eruptions have produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached flat-lying coastal areas and entered the sea, sometimes impacting populated areas. (GVP)

Featured image: Manam on October 2, 2018. Credit: ESA/Sentinel-2

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