Ambae’s volcano still smoking, rumbling but now ‘normal’

Latest photo of Ambae's Manaro Voui volcano. Image: Geohazards Department/Vanuatu Daily Post

By Anita Roberts in Port Vila

The frequent volcano rumblings felt on Ambae and surface events seen from neighboring islands of Maewo, Pentecost and even Santo in Vanuatu are ideal settings of a volcano experiencing minor eruption categorised at alert level 3, say volcanologists.

This was the reply from the Manager of the Geohazards Department, Esline Bule, when she was asked to clarify public concerns on the increasing number of eruptions at the Manaro Voui volcano causing more fear among people.

The volcano seems to be making more smoke and rumblings that can be felt far away compared to when it was experiencing major unrest stage – the second highest alert level.

The entire 11,000 population of Ambae island was evacuated to other islands in Vanuatu earlier this month.

Locals from Maewo reported seeing flames and lava cascading down slope from the volcano recently.

These activities are related to the volcano being in a minor eruption state, the Geohazards Manager explained.

About the continuous erupting sounds, Bule said the reason they are louder is because they are coming out from a dry cone.

“Before, activities were happening beneath the lake (Lake Voui),” she said.

“Current eruptions are occurring from a dry cone.

Echo of erupting sounds
“The cone has also grown in height after the unstable activity. The echo of the erupting sounds bounce through the dry cone and can be heard from a very far distance.

“People in places or nearby islands facing the wind direction will receive the sound more clearly.

“Unlike Mt Yasur where its cone is located to a corner, the cone of Ambae volcano sits right at the top of the hill in the centre of the island.

“Definitely, erupting sounds will be heard from great distances as far as from the neighboring islands of Maewo and Pentecost.”

Bule continued to explain that the alert level 3 meant volcanic eruptions were continuing and – just like Mt Yasur – it was expected to throw out flying molten lava and volcanic gases.

No human activity was expected within 3km from the vent in Lake Voui.

People must not approach the volcano or go near the danger zone as chances for moderate explosions are likely, said the Geohazards Manager.

Anita Roberts is a Vanuatu Daily Post reporter and articles from the VDP are republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission.

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