Rabaul Volcano on the island of New Britain released a plume in early March 2008. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite took this picture on March 11, 2008. In this image, the semi-transparent, dingy gray plume of ash and/or steam blows westward in a thin line, over the Bismarck Sea.
Rabaul is a pyroclastic shield volcano that resembles an ancient warrior shield, thanks to its low, broad shape. Assembled from pyroclastic flows—avalanches of broken rocks, ash, and other volcanic materials—shield volcanoes bear the traces of earlier eruptions. Rabaul rests on the northeastern end of New Britain. The volcano’s explosive 1994 eruption, occurring at the same time as eruptions of two neighboring volcanoes, forced the temporary evacuation of Rabaul City. Before that event, Rabaul City had used the sheltered harbor formed by the volcano.