Explosive Eruption of Mount Tavurvur, Up Close and Personal

September 6th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

This is amazing video (with sound) of the recent explosive eruption of Mount Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea, taken by Phil McNamara. Few people in the world will ever get to witness something like this, let alone capture video of it. Note the shockwave that travels along the ground as well as through the cloud layer. I have no idea how large the boulders are that were ejected, but I suppose one could roughly estimate how high they reached by timing how long it took them to fall.

17 Responses to “Explosive Eruption of Mount Tavurvur, Up Close and Personal”

Toggle Trackbacks

  1. Stephen Richards says:

    A small explosion, then but we don’t know how far away the video was or how high the cloud went.

  2. the shock wave took just over 10 seconds to arrive at the boat, so the volcano was just over 2 miles away.

  3. BBould says:

    Awesome video watched it on another site. I liked the shock wave pushing the clouds out of the way at the beginning.

    After it was all over it reminded me of a very powerful bomb going off.

    • Greg says:

      It is not pushing the clouds, look again.

      It is the _depression_ following the shock-wave that induces condensation. Once the pressure returns to normal the cloud droplets evaporate again.

      That is why you see a ring of cloud advancing but it is not the same air or the same water that is getting pushed along.

      It is a compression wave travelling through the medium.

      Watch the top left of the image, you can see that is changes the density of the already present clouds but does not displace them.

  4. david dohbro says:


    speed of sound in air is 331 m/s. it took about 8 sec before the shock-wave hit: 2650mtrs

  5. Aaron S says:

    Beautiful video. Very humbling to see the natural power of our earth. Just think all that started from deep nuclear heating and relates to the same process of heat redistribution that has moved plates and made mountains via slab pull and ridge push. Slab pull is thought to be the dominant driver of plate tectonics. It occurs when gravity pulls down the rigid continental plates into the hot mantle. The plate subsides until the crustal material melts and because it is made of less dense material, it floats back up to create a volcano. Of course subsidence at one edge of a plate creates open space at the other. This space is filled with hot bouyant mantle rock that up wells and fills the void at mid oceanic ridges. This gives the moving plates a gradient to slide down. An interesting link to climate science is the cooling lava at the mid oceanic ridge maintains isotopic equilibrium in the oceans so that we can use isotopes (glacial ice for example) to evaluate paleo temperatures. In essence the exchange of isotopes at the ridges is thought to slowly but constantly drive the oceans back towards isotopic equilibrium called standard mean ocean water or SMOW. Isotopic deviations from smow are used to estimate temperature change.

    • Matt says:

      My father, a geologist, loved this Will Durant quote. “Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.” He also loved a tshirt that simply said – STOP CONTINENTAL DRIFT

  6. mysterian says:

    The shock wave is supersonic. Its velocity varies with the pressure difference, density, temperature, and gas constants.

  7. Penny says:

    I’ve lived in Florida for 37 years. The winters are getting colder and the summers are hotter. I’m from Michigan and the snows they’ll be getting are the harsh winters from the late 60’s and 70’s.
    There is definitely some truth to the weather patterns.

  8. Eli Rabett says:

    Why does this remind Eli of the old laser jock joke that there are some colors you see only once?

    No better argument for remote cameras.

  9. If you are going to be managing lawful concerns, you have to be stood for well. Uncovering the perfect lawyer is not consistently very easy. It is could be necessary for your success. Usage the info in the following post to assist you make the very best decisions on your own in a recurring lawful issue.

  10. Tim says:

    Measuring the time for the boulders to fall is probably not a good way to estimate the height because terminal velocity is a function of both size and density. Drag force depends on projected area and shape (drag coefficient). The force due to the acceleration of gravity depends on mass, and mass increases with size (cubic function) faster than area (square function). Large dense objects have a much higher terminal velocity than small objects of low density.

  11. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed!

    Very useful information particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such information much.
    I was looking for this certain info for a very long time.
    Thank you and best of luck.

Leave a Reply