Volcanic activity escalated: Observatory

The Rabaul Volcanological Observatory has noted a significant escalation in volcanic activity on Kadovar Island, East Sepik.

The RVO says there was a large blast towards the south on Friday, January 12.

“Big rocks were blasted out and there was a significant amount of material involved,” reports the Observatory.

“The rocks were glowing red. People on Ruprup Island, 15km to the north, could see red glow coming from the area of the summit, or from the hidden southern flank. 

“Only one blast has been reported to date.”

The sleeping volcano, which erupted on January 5, is now emitting significant amounts of sulfur dioxide (SO2).

“Previous to this blast, it was observed that the fracture, which was apparent in the initial aerial photos, running from the summit dome down to the coast, had apparently widened,” states the RVO.

“Vigorous, and possibly strengthening, steaming was occurring from it at sea-level. It was from this face of the island that the blast occurred on Friday night.”

Due to the length of time since the last eruption, any new magma could be expected to be gas-rich and explosive, releasing much great volumes of ash to higher levels than has been the case to date. 

“As mentioned however, the eruption may stall before this happens,” says the Observatory.

“Due to the steepness of the island, landslides are possible, and together with the explosive nature of the magma, tsunamis may be generated.”

The Observatory warns that people should avoid returning to the island whilst activity continues.

Furthermore, shipping and boat operators should avoid approaching the island, unless on emergency/relief work.

(Picture: Brandon Buser)

Carmella Gware