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PNG and Lopevi

Professor Vince Neall and Dr. Clel Wallace

Pago Eruption
Eruption of Pago, PNG, in August 2002

Professor Vince Neall and Dr. Clel Wallace are working on the volcanic ash record in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, in conjunction with Dr. Robin Torrence of the Australian Museum. Their work concerns the provenance of volcanic ash beds and their archaeological significance.

In particular there have been massive environmental changes on the western side of the isthmus of the Willaumez Peninsula due to pumice floods down the Kulu River. A large embayment 6,000 years ago became land by 3,600 years ago, extending the coastline up to 17 km. Recently published work on a 40 ka history of volcanic ash accumulation and human occupation has been published as:

Torrence, R., Neall, V., Doelman, T., Rhodes, E., McKee, C., Parr, J., Bonetti, R., Guglielmetti, A., Manzoni, A., Oddone, M. and Wallace, C. (2004) Pleistocene colonisation of the Bismarck Archipelago: A different pattern in West New Britain? Archaeology in Oceania 39 (3): 101-130.

Professor Neall is also working in Vanuatu, at Lopevi Volcano, assisting Sandrine Wallez in her PhD study of the past volcanic history, and emergency management procedures for a future eruption. They visited the island in July 2005 establishing for the first time a stratigraphic record of the past volcanic activity. Lopevi has erupted on several occasions since 2000 producing lava flows and hot rock avalanches that have flowed into the surrounding ocean.