Volatiles from the 1994 Eruptions of Rabaul: Understanding Large Caldera Systems

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Science  26 Jul 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5274, pp. 490-493
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5274.490


The 1994 eruption of Rabaul, in Papua New Guinea, involved a small plinian eruption at Vulcan and a vulcanian eruption on the opposite side of the caldera at Tavurvur. Vulcan's ash leachates indicate seawater interaction that is consistent with earlier observations of low sulfur dioxide emissions and the presence of ice crystals in the initial plinian eruption cloud. In contrast, Tavurvur ash leachates indicate no seawater interaction, and later sulfur dioxide emissions remained high despite low-level eruptive activity. Silicic melt inclusions indicate that the andesitic melt contained about 2 weight percent water and negligible carbon dioxide. Mafic melt inclusions in Tavurvur ash have water and carbon dioxide contents that vary systematically over the course of the eruption. The mafic melt inclusions suggest that a mafic dike intruded from below the silicic chamber and provide further evidence that mafic intrusions drive caldera unrest.