Articles | Volume 9, issue 4
25 Aug 2009
 | 25 Aug 2009

Characteristics of the summit lakes of Ambae volcano and their potential for generating lahars

P. Bani, J.-L. Join, S. J. Cronin, M. Lardy, I. Rouet, and E. Garaebiti

Abstract. Volcanic eruptions through crater lakes often generate lahars, causing loss of life and property. On Ambae volcano, recent eruptive activities have rather tended to reduce the water volume in the crater lake (Lake Voui), in turn, reducing the chances for outburst floods. Lake Voui occupies a central position in the summit caldera and is well enclosed by the caldera relief. Eruptions with significantly higher magnitude than that of 1995 and 2005 are required for an outburst. A more probable scenario for lahar events is the overflow from Lake Manaro Lakua bounded on the eastern side by the caldera wall. Morphology and bathymetry analysis have been used to identify the weakest point of the caldera rim from which water from Lake Manaro Lakua may overflow to initiate lahars. The 1916 disaster described on south-east Ambae was possibly triggered by such an outburst from Lake Manaro Lakua. Taking into account the current level of Lake Manaro Lakua well below a critical overflow point, and the apparently low potential of Lake Voui eruptions to trigger lahars, the Ambae summit lakes may not be directly responsible for numerous lahar deposits identified around the Island.