An improved disaster-reduction strategy for civil authorities and communities on the Gazelle Peninsula in Papua New Guinea is anticipated as a result of a multinational seismic investigation now under way there. Data collection has been completed but interpretation is at a preliminary stage. Volcanic eruptions in 1994 devastated the town of Rabaul and other communities on the peninsula.
The investigation, known as the Rabaul Earthquake Location and Caldera Structure (RELACS) program, is building a seismic tomography image of the Rabaul volcano that will improve the precision with which volcano-related earthquakes can be located in real time. This will enable the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory (RVO) to interpret seismicity patterns in detail and provide better advice to civil authorities. Among other things, the scientific analytical capacity of RVO will be upgraded by improving knowledge about the subsurface structure of the caldera. Conducting the work are scientists from the Australian Geological Survey Organisation (AGSO), the Australian National University (ANU), the University of Hokkaido in Japan, and the University of Wisconsin (UW) in the United States.