We’re just about to head off to the islands, including three days in Rabaul, when Tavurvur stacks on a big one. The volcanic eruption sent ash plumes 18 kilometres into the air and the blast shattered windows up to 12 kilometres from the caldera.
Mount Tavurvur, which we always called Matupit, on the outskirts of Rabaul, erupted at 8.45 yesterday morning. "It was quite scary, but it's quieter now," Rabaul Volcanologist, Steve Saunders, told the ABC.
In 1994, Tavurvur and the nearby Vulcan destroyed much of Rabaul, forcing the relocation of the East New Britain capital to Kokopo, 20 kilometres away. This morning ash is falling on Kokopo, causing power and phone cuts.
Mr Saunders said magma had been welling up inside the 688 metre Tavurvur since 2005 and contained large amounts of gas, which accounted for the explosive force of the eruption. He said he expected the peak to quieten quickly.