Mount Tavurvur volcano in Papua New Guinea spurted ash tens to thousands of feet into the sky on Friday, prompting evacuation of several communities and diversion of international flights en route the South Pacific nation disrupted. According to Craig Earl-Spurr, a meteorologist at the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in Australia, the eruption of Mount Tavurvur volcano in Papua New Guinea began during the early hours of Friday.
The Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management issued a notice noting a more accurate time, reports independent website news.com.au. The notice reportedly stated that the eruption of Mount Tavurvur volcano in Papua New Guinea commenced between 3:30 a.m. to 4 a.m., involving "incandescent projections and ongoing loud roaring and rumbling noises."
According to The Independent, Mount Tavurvur volcano in Papua New Guinea erupted hours before dawn, which sent thick plumes of smoke and ash towering as high as 60,000 feet above sea level.
ABC News reports that a statement from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that as communities near the volcano were evacuated, residents of the town of Rabaul were only told to remain indoors to keep from encountering falling ash.
According to local reports, the ground in Rabaul was covered in a layer of ash due to the eruption of Mount Tavurvur volcano in Papua New Guinea.
According to CNN, though there had been no immediate reports of injuries or damage, the VAAC in Australia issued an advisory after the eruption. Authorities are also making sure that air travel in the region is kept safe.
Meanwhile, planes may reportedly be forced to find alternate routes since the ash forecast has moved towards the Solomon Islands and then Vanuatu.
The VAAC is still keeping a watchful eye on the ash cloud coming from Mount Tavurvur volcano in Papua New Guinea, which is slowly drifting southwest.
Ian Shepherd, a senior meteorologist, said the centre is watching the cloud closely to provide advice to airlines as well.
Shepherd said, "The volcanic eruption reached the top of the atmosphere at 50,000 feet which is the same height as which planes travel. It's too early to say at this point if the ash cloud will reach Australia but it was a significant eruption."
The ash cloud from Mount Tavurvur volcano in Papua New Guinea had already prompted minor alterations to flight paths between Sydney and Tokyo and Sydney and the Chinese city of Shanghai for Qantas Airways. The airline is taking special care to avoid the volcanic cloud, according to ABC News.
A spokesperson from the airline said, "Flight paths between Sydney and Narita (Tokyo) and Sydney and Shanghai have been altered as a result of the volcanic ash cloud over Rabaul in eastern Papua New Guinea."
The spokesperson added, "The QF21, QF22 and QF130 will now fly over central Papua New Guinea to avoid the cloud."
Mount Tavurvur volcano in Papua New Guinea's most recent eruption was just last year. Though today's eruption spewed thick clouds of smoke causing interruptions to daily activities, tourists took photos of the volcanic activity.
The media was also quick to post dramatic photos on social media showing the volcano's activity from across a bay.
— Shelley Hendel (@Shelleyjlh) August 29, 2014
Mount Tavurvur has woken up this am. Major volcanic eruption this am. Images via social media #PNG pic.twitter.com/MTfKkKIgSb — Martyn A Namorong (@Mangiwantok) August 28, 2014
— oldplantation (@oldplantation) August 28, 2014
Mount Tavurvur is, according to The Independent, one of the most active volcanoes in the region. It has erupted numerous times in recent years. Other eruptions recorded of Mount Tavurvur volcano in Papua New Guinea were 1937 and 2006.
In 1994, it destroyed the town of Rabaul in 1994 as it erupted together with nearby Mount Vulcan. The volcano is situated only a few kilometers from the township of Rabaul, according to CNN.
Mount Tavurvur volcano in Papua New Guinea's most recent eruption has come after authorities in Iceland raised an aviation warning code to red after a separate small eruption in the country, near the Bardarbunga volcano overnight. Authorities reportedly said that all airports in Iceland remain open since there was only minimal airborne ash produced.
Watch a report of Mount Tavurvur's eruption from this link here.