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Karkar belched a 30,000-ft plume above South Pacific in February 2013

Geogrande.com / Published April 4, 2013, 10:05 pm UTC

PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Apparently either Vulcan, the ancient Roman mythological god of volcanoes, or perhaps some other volcano spirit was busy in the South Pacific in late February 2013, when the Karkar volcano shot out a plume of ash to an altitude of 9,000 meters. The volcano had spit out a 4,000-meter high plume a month earlier.


Karkar is an oval-shaped, forest-covered island which covers an area about five times the size of Paris, France. The island is located in the island-nation of Papua New Guinea, approximately 800 kilometers northwest of Australia.  Karkar was called Dampier Island as recently as 1927,  in reference to the English buccaneer, Captain William Dampier.

Karkar Location on Tectonic Plates

Earth's tectonic plates, with red arrows indicating plate motions.

No report was available on any impacts the February plume caused to the island’s approximately 50,000 inhabitants. An aviation Red Alert was issued by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Northwest Territory, Australia for aircraft to avoid the plume because ash can damage jet engines.

Karkar Photo -  Credit:  Wally Johnson, 1979, Australia Burea of Mineral Resources

Karkar is a stratovolcano that lies along the Pacific Rim of Fire that encircles the Pacific Ocean.  Karkar eruptions may be attributed to a local deity, Kulbob. An alternate theory is that eruptions result from heating of a slab of earth as it descends in a subduction zone where the Pacific tectonic plate collides with the Australian plate. The island of Karkar has had reports of sorcery deaths in the last few months.


Lonelyplanet.com says the number one thing to do on Karkar is to climb the 1,831-meter high volcano, a climb which takes 12 hours, round-trip.  Get permission from locals, as the crater has religious significance.