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Continuing Gaua activity at the NASA Earth Observatory 27 April 2010

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Eruption of Gaua Volcano, 24 April 2010 (NASA ALI/EO-1 image)

As reported here last week, activity is continuing at Gaua volcano in Vanuatu, with the government planning for evacuations of Gaua Island. The NASA Earth Observatory has been providing some excellent satellite imagery of Gaua, most recently the above image, captured on 24 April 2010 by the Advanced Land Imager aboard NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite. The brown areas on the left of the image, to the west and south-west of the volcano, show where volcanic emissions and ashfall have damaged and killed vegetation.

The world is paying little attention to the activity at Gaua, but it is shaping up to be a very nasty, hazardous and disruptive eruption. Ashfall, poisonous gases, volcanic bombs and mudflows are being produced by the active cone, Mount Garet, and emissions are tainting local crops and water supplies. Rising water levels in the crater have been reported, increasing the risk of still more dangerous mudflows. The population of Gaua has already had to abandon the western side of the island and seek refuge in the east, away from the worst of the volcano’s ash and fumes, but as the activity increases they may have to evacuate completely. Radio Australia News quotes Vanuatu Geohazards Technical Advisor: ‘The current risk is mainly ash falls and then mudflows. It’s true that we have an increase in activity but not like a level 3. Evacuation is ready the plan is ready the location is ready, it’s a very tough situation for the local population of Gaua, they’re scared they’re afraid, it’s a very new situation for them’.

The alert level for Gaua is still at level 2, according to the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory.

For all our coverage of Gaua: Gaua « The Volcanism Blog.

News
Vanuatu volcano may force evacuationsSydney Morning Herald, 20 April 2010
Vanuatu volcano taints water suppliesSydney Morning Herald, 21 April 2010
Vanuatu authorities monitor Gaua volcano – Radio Australia News, 23 April 2010
South Seas volcano threatens thousands – Earthweek, 23 April 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Gaua – summary information for Gaua (0507-02=)
Vanuatu volcanoes and volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory
Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory – home page for geohazards monitoring in Vanuatu

The Volcanism Blog

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Evacuations planned in Vanuatu as Gaua activity steps up 19 April 2010

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Gaua volcano, Vanuatu, 12 April 2010 (NASA Terra MODIS image)
Gaua volcano, Vanuatu: a MODIS image from the NASA Terra satellite, 12 April 2010 (source: NASA Earth Observatory, 15 April 2010).

Gaua volcano in northern Vanuatu has been showing signs of increased activity for some months: in November 2009 there were evacuations of villagers from Gaua island because of ashfall and gas emissions. During January 2010 ash emissions became denser and darker, and gas emissions increased. Strombolian activity and explosions were reported at the end of January. From late March into April ash plumes were reported daily, reaching altitudes of up to 3 km, and reports of explosions, ash fall and the ejection of volcanic bombs continued.

Gaua volcano, Vanuatu, 14 February 2010 (NASA EO-1 ALI image)
The Mount Garet cone of Gaua volcano erupting on 14 February 2010, captured by the Advanced Land Imager aboard NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite. The crescent-shaped body of water is Lake Letas, which partially fills the Gaua caldera (source: NASA Earth Observatory, 18 February 2010).

Today news sources are reporting that extensive evacuations are being planned, involving the transfer of about 2700 people from Gaua or Santa Maria Island to a relocation centre on nearby Vanualava Island. According to Peter Korisa of the Vanuatu Government emergencies office the volcano’s activity is not stable, but increasing: ‘Last year it was just some explosions and some ash falling but at the moment the activity is becoming more interesting’. The evacuation is not yet being carried out, but the necessary plans have been made. At the moment, Korisa says, ‘the situation doesn’t warrant any evacuation’, but the authorities are ready to act should such a step prove necessary.

The alert level for Gaua remains at its habitual level 2, according to the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory.

UPDATE 20 April 2010. A reader has correctly pointed out that the previous headline for this post, ‘Evacuations in Vanuatu as Gaua activity steps up’, gave the impression that the evacuations are already under way. This is not the case, the evacuations are only at the planning stage, and I have changed the headline to reflect the situation accurately. Thanks, TJ, for the correction.

For all our coverage of Gaua: Gaua « The Volcanism Blog.

News
Vanuatu prepares evacuation from rumbling volcano – AFP, 19 April 2010
Vanuatu prepares evacuation amid threats of Gaua volcano – Radio New Zealand International, 19 April 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Gaua – summary information for Gaua (0507-02=)
Vanuatu volcanoes and volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

The Volcanism Blog

Vanuatu’s volcanoes at the NASA Earth Observatory 9 December 2009

Posted by admin in Ambrym, Gaua, NASA Earth Observatory, Pacific, Vanuatu.
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Vanuatu, showing Gaua and Ambrym volcanoes, 3 December 2009 (NASA MODIS image)

This image, from the NASA Earth Observatory (click on the image to view the original full-size version) shows the northern part of the Republic of Vanuatu in the south-west Pacific. It was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite on 3 December 2009 and shows two currently active Vanuatu volcanoes: Ambrym (bottom right) and Gaua (top left). Detail views of both are shown below.

The current eruptive phase at Ambrym, which has a history of frequent eruptions over the last 2000 years or so, began in May 2008; an earlier Earth Observatory image showed an instance of the vog that Ambrym’s sulphur dioxide emissions can produce. Gaua, meanwhile, which last erupted in 1982, has been restless since the autumn of this year: evacuations were recently ordered when gas and ash emissions from its active cone (Mt Garat) were making life impossible for the inhabitants of nearby villages. Another very active Vanuatu volcano, Yasur, is out of shot to the south.

Ambrym volcano, Vanuatu, 3 December 2009 (NASA MODIS image detail)
Above: Ambrym volcano, Vanuatu, emitting a thin plume to the west on 3 December 2009.

Gaua volcano, Vanuatu, 3 December 2009 (NASA MODIS image detail)
Above: Gaua or Santa Maria island and Gaua volcano, Vanuatu, on 3 December 2009. The lake partially filling the 6 x 9 km caldera has developed a crescent shape because of the construction of the currently active cone of Mt Garat. The brown marking on the western side of the island shows where recent gas emissions from Mt Garat have caused damage to vegetation.

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Ambrym – summary information for Ambrym (0507-04=)
Global Volcanism Program: Gaua – summary information for Gaua (0507-02=)
Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory – official Vanuatu geohazards website
Vanuatu volcanoes and volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

The Volcanism Blog

Vanuatu: Gaua volcano update 28 November 2009

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The Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory has published a fresh update on the situation at Gaua volcano, which has recently shown an increased level of activity, forcing evacuations. Gaua Bulletin No. 3, dated 24 November (but only just published on the Observatory’s website) reports ‘a big explosion of the Gaua volcano in November 18th 2009 at 2pm’ followed by ‘very thick and high emissions of ash columns that were covering the areas exposed to trade winds in the West’. Photographs show the comparative size of the ash plume on 31 October and 18 November. The bulletin also notes that there was an increase in seismicity at the volcano from 25 October onwards.

The alert level for Gaua remains unchanged at 2 (‘moderate eruptions’).

For all our coverage of Gaua: Gaua « The Volcanism Blog.

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Gaua – summary information for Gaua (0507-02=)
Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory – official Vanuatu geohazards website
Vanuatu volcanoes and volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

The Volcanism Blog

Vanuatu: Gaua evacuations continue 27 November 2009

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The evacuation of residents of Gaua island in northern Vanuatu is continuing, reports Radio New Zealand International (RNZI). The active cone of Gaua volcano, Mt Garet, which has been showing low-level eruptive activity for around two months, has increased its activity over the last few days: gas emissions and ashfall have seriously affected life in the island’s eastern portion, and people from that area are being moved by boat to the unaffected western region of the island. RNZI reports that gas masks are being sent to Gaua, and that tourists are being warned to keep away from the volcano.

No update yet on the current activity at the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory website, but in fairness it must be pointed out that the observatory’s hard-pressed staff are working with very limited resources (they don’t even have the seismographs they need to monitor Gaua adequately).

For all our coverage of Gaua: Gaua « The Volcanism Blog.

News
Gas masks sent to Vanuatu island where locals are forced to evacuate – Radio New Zealand International, 26 November 2009
Tourists warned off Vanuatu’s Gaua volcano – Radio New Zealand International, 27 November 2009

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Gaua – summary information for Gaua (0507-02=)
Vanuatu volcanoes and volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

The Volcanism Blog

Evacuations in Vanuatu as Gaua activity increases 26 November 2009

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Gaua volcano in northern Vanuatu is reported to have erupted early today. At the moment there is no official news from Vanuatu itself, but regional news sources (see below) are reporting that gas emissions and ash fall have increased during the past two days and that 300 residents of the eastern half of Gaua island are being evacuated by the Vanuatu Government and the Red Cross to the west of the island.

Efline Garaebiti, head of the Vanuatu Government disaster monitoring team, is reported by Australian news sources as saying that it is ‘unlikely’ that Gaua volcano ‘will erupt completely’, which suggests that this is an increase in the ongoing emissions of gas and ash rather than a full-scale eruption. Strong winds in recent days may also have increased the effects of the emissions on the local population.

The Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory website has no report as yet on the current situation, and the alert level for Gaua remains at level 2, ‘minor eruption’.

For all our coverage of Gaua: Gaua « The Volcanism Blog.

News
Vanuatu volcano forces hundreds to evacuate – Australia Network News, 26 November 2009
Pacific volcano erupts, leading to evacuation of hundredsNew Straits Times, 26 November 2009
Volcano erupts in Vanuatu: Red CrossSydney Morning Herald, 26 November 2009
300 evacuated from villages in Vanuatu due to gas and ash from volcano – Radio New Zealand International, 26 November 2009

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Gaua – summary information for Gaua (0507-02=)
Vanuatu volcanoes and volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

The Volcanism Blog

Activity continuing at Vanuatu’s Gaua volcano 20 October 2009

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Both ABC’s Australia Network News and Radio New Zealand International are reporting today that the alert level for Gaua volcano in northern Vanuatu has been raised from 1 to 2, as reported here four days ago.

The ABC story reports that SO2 emissions at the volcano have risen from nil to 3000 tonnes/day, as recorded on 3 October by volcanologist Philipson Bani: ‘for this small volcano this is huge’. Local residents are reporting a strong smell of sulphur and ash falling on their crops.

News
Ash and fumes pour from Vanuatu volcano – ABC Australia Network News, 20 October 2009
Alert level raised for Vanuatu volcano – Radio New Zealand International, 20 October 2009

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Gaua – summary information for Gaua (0507-02=)
Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory – geohazards home page for Vanuatu
Vanuatu volcanoes and volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

The Volcanism Blog

Vanuatu: Gaua volcano alert raised 16 October 2009

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The Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory issued a new bulletin on 13 October reporting the ongoing activity of Gaua volcano. The alert level has been raised to level 2 which means ‘that this volcano is going through a minor eruption’:

After the assessment of the geohazards team on Gaua volcano from 3-7 October 2009, it is confirmed that Mont Garet volcano is going through an eruptive phase starting from the 27th of September 2009. Seismic records of the seismic station installed on Gaua show that many explosions occurred on gaua volcano … Volcanic gas flux measurements on October 3rd show that 3000 tons of sulfuric dioxide is released from this volcano each day, this means that a significant quantity of magma is degassing from gaua volcano.

Monitoring continues; more news here as it comes in.

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Gaua – summary information for Gaua (0507-02=)
Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory – geohazards home page for Vanuatu
Vanuatu volcanoes and volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

The Volcanism Blog

Warning of ‘insufficient monitoring’ as Gaua activity continues 8 October 2009

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Scientists monitoring the currently restless Gaua volcano in Vanuatu are relying on just one polyseismograph, leading a local seismologist to warn that insufficient monitoring is putting lives at risk:

We need back up for seismic monitoring because for the time being we have just one polyseismograph but we really need back up of two or three extra seismographs in order to locate the events.

The volcano remains on level one of the five-level alert system (where five is the highest level). Meanwhile, large earthquakes north-west of Vanuatu have shaken the area up, but with no tsunami or serious damage or loss of life. These were tectonic quakes which have no relation to the volcanic activity in Vanuatu, except in so far as both are products of subduction zone processes.

News
Seismologist says insufficient monitoring of Vanuatu volcano endangering lives – Radio New Zealand International, 8 October 2009

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Gaua – summary information for Gaua (0507-02=)
Vanuatu volcanoes and volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

The Volcanism Blog

Increased activity reported at Gaua 7 October 2009

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The spate of restlessness at Gaua volcano in Vanuatu is evidently continuing. Radio New Zealand International reports that more activity has been observed by the volcanological team sent to Gaua to assess the situation. One of the team reports that very late on 5 October ‘an increase of a high volcanic high frequency’ was observed, which is presumably a reference to high frequency volcanic tremor.

The current alert level at Gaua is one, on a scale of one (lowest) to five (highest). The volcano is being closely monitored, and if there are further increases in activity the alert level will be increased to two, say the volcanologists.

News
Close eye kept on Vanuatu volcano that’s spitting ash – Radio New Zealand International, 6 October 2009

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Gaua – summary information for Gaua (0507-02=)
Vanuatu volcanoes and volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

The Volcanism Blog