RVO reported that during 3-14 January gray ash plumes from Rabaul caldera’s Tavurvur cone rose several hundred meters above the crater to 1.7 km (5,600 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW and SE. Explosions or forceful emissions sometimes ejected incandescent lava fragments that fell back into the crater and occasionally onto the slopes. Ashfall affected areas downwind; Air Niugini suspended all its flights to Tokua airport (about 20 km SE) during 5-9 January. According to a news article, a local shipping company offered to take passengers to a nearby airport in New Ireland Province, an area not affected by the ash plumes. Based on analysis of satellite imagery, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 11-12 January ash plumes rose to an altitude of 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE, E, and NE.
RVO reported that on 11 January two small vents opened on the SW flank of Tavurvur (one-quarter of the way up the flank) and emitted strong fumaroles. During 11-13 January, the vents ejected ash. On 13 January, two explosions produced dull booms and sounds resembling falling rocks. Ash plumes rose 200-500 m above the vents and drifted SE. Later that day, diffuse white plumes were emitted. Air Niugini flights into Tokua airport remained suspended on 13 January.
Sources: Ima Itikarai and Steve Saunders, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Australian Broadcasting Corporation – “Reports provided courtesy of the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey’s Volcano Hazards Program.”