stratovolcanoes 610 m / 2,001 feet (Mt. Malopu) (Karai cone: 565 m) New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea, -5.5°S / 150.94°E Eruption list: none in recent times
(2006: steam emissions caused by probably shallow intrusion)
2006 activity - phreatic explosions and steam emissions accompanied by intense seismicity
Eruptions at Karai volcano in Papua New Guinea were reported in July 2006. The eruption was said to have taken place 2 km SW of Mount Karai between Ubia and Ululu volcanoes. This would have been the first historical activity recorded at the volcano. However, field investigations revealed that no magma reached the surface, and that the explosions were forceful steam emissions or weak phreatic explosions.
[hide] Seismic activity began on 7 July 2006 and at the same time, most river systems near Mount Karai had turned muddy due to the continuous shaking. There were unconfirmed reports of vegetation die off from February 2006. Seismic activity was followed by the emission of puffs of white vapor from the area and loud booming and rumbling noises accompanied strong tremors.
The activity increased and "eruptions started with forceful dark emissions late on 7 and 8 July and decreased to moderate emissions by 10 July". Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) staff described the activity as weak-to-moderate emission of white vapor with no evidence of ashfall and with occasional weak-to-moderate roaring noises accompanying the emissions.
On 11 July, earthquakes occurred at 10-20 minute intervals and were felt within the vicinity of Kimbe and as far as Bialla and Mamota, at a distance of approximately of 16–20 km. Near Ubia volcano, seismicity was very elevated, with earthquakes every few minutes.
The last reported visible steam emissions occurred on 12 July. The seismic activity remained high until around 22 July, when it began to slowly decline.
In early October, 2-3 small earthquakes could be felt per day in Bialla. White steam emissions occurred from the Silanga Hot Springs and could be seen from Bialla. In addition, a moderately strong sulfur smell from the Silanga and Talopu hot springs were reported in October.
The seismic activity tailed off in the months of 2006. RVO scientists studied the area and concluded that at no point magma had made its way to the surface. Thus, the event is not counted as an eruption.
Evacuations The affected population was estimated at 2,078 people from around the Kaiamu, Malasi, Sulu and Silali villages. These communities had moved out of danger areas in fear of an eruption and lived temporarily in 6 different informal camps. Most of these communities had moved voluntarily to safer zones on 10 July 2006 after the increase in seismic activity, whilst some communities had evacuated following instructions from the provincial disaster office 3 days later.
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