Video: shockwave from PNG volcano captured

By Carolyn Barry 8 September 2014
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An Australian couple filmed a volcanic eruption, including the sonic shockwave from the blast

AN AUSTRALIAN COUPLE were in the right place at the right time to capture the initial blast of a relatively small volcanic eruption.

The sonic shockwave can be seen pushing the ash down the slopes of Mount Tavurvur in PNG, and pushing up the clouds above it. After a long 13 seconds or so, the shockwave passes the boat that Phil McNamara and his wife Linda are on, with an audible bang.

The ash cloud was observed to be about 18km high.

Mount Tavurvur a dangerous active volcano

The 688m volcano is part of the Bismarck arc, within the East New Britain province on PNG. Mount Tavurvur has a long history of eruption and is vent of the Rabaul caldera. In 1937 Tavurvur erupted, leaving 507 dead.

After that, the Rabaul Volcano Observatory was formed, which monitors the 14 active and 23 dormant volcanoes throughout PNG.

In 1994 the Vulcan and Tavurvur vents erupted simultaneously, killing five people (thanks to a quick evacuation). The city at its feet, Rabaul was abandoned. Since then, Mount Tavurvur has erupted many times over the last decade, including larger events in October 2006, 2009, July 2010, 2013. 

The image below is from NASA’s Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. This is a satellite image was taken on September 2, 2014. See a comparison of before and after photos.