The Manam volcano is rumbling in the South Pacific • Earth.com

The Manam volcano is rumbling in the South Pacific

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features an ash plume rising from the island of Manam, which is located in the Bismarck Sea off the northeastern coast of Papua New Guinea. The island was created by the Manam volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the South Pacific.

“In May 2022, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre issued several aviation alerts for ash plumes rising from Manam. On May 17-19, ash plumes reached altitudes up to 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) above sea level and drifted northwest and west,” reports NASA.

“On May 22, 2022, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 observed an infrared signature, indicating heat in Manam’s southern summit crater. The southern crater has historically been the more active of the two summit craters, according to the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program.”

Manam is a stratovolcano, a type that most often produces ash plumes. Sometimes, larger eruptions produce lava and pyroclastic flows. There are four valleys that radiate from  Manam’s peak, which is 5,900 feet above sea level. 

“Three of the valleys, locally called avalanche valleys, are visible in the image. The valleys have channeled many of the previous lava and pyroclastic flows, some of which enter the sea. However, some eruptions have jumped out of the valleys and reached populated areas on the lower flanks of the volcano,” explains NASA.

“Most of Manam’s 9,000 residents were evacuated during a major eruption in 2004, but many people have since returned. A 2005 eruption sent a large cloud of sulfur dioxide drifting west over the island of New Guinea.”

“Papua New Guinea is home to 14 active and 22 dormant volcanoes that present a risk to an estimated 250,000 people. Of those, Manam is one of six that scientists have categorized as high-risk. The island has also been identified as one of several volcanoes where an eruption or flank collapse could possibly produce a tsunami.”

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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