Manum Island – a Not-So-Sleeping Giant

Posted in At Sea, Dangerous on December 3rd, 2008 by MadDog
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I shook my head in disgust as we approached Manum Island aboard Miss Rankin in the early morning. Every trick of weather and lighting was conspiring against me to prevent any serious photography. The sky was blank white. The air was furry and rich with the odor of burnt rock. It looked as if the US Air Force had dropped a fifteen-thousand pound bomb on the top of the mountain.

The scientists were going ashore to climb the mountain. Better them than I. Ancient tsunamis have thrown huge blocks of living coral high onto the sides of tropical island mountains. That was the treasure that the scientists were looking for.

The balance of isotopes of certain elements can be compared to living coral to determine, with a fair degree of accuracy, the frequency and magnitude of tsunamis that pre-date historical records.

All of the activity was very interesting, but contributed nothing to relieve my agony concerning the poor lighting. We each have our own worries.

I took such photos as I could. Here we are approaching Manum Island. You can just make out the smoke coming from the crater:

An absolutely horrible shot of the Manum Island volcano

As we got closer, we could see a few details in the crater area and some of the damage from recent lava flows:

A slightly less horrible shot of the Manum Island volcano

Closer yet, and the black lava flows stand out clearly. The yellow areas between the black and the green are bands of heat and gas damaged vegetation:

A nearly tolerable shot of the Manum Island volcano - Jan Messersmith

I did manage one fairly good shot of the crater after Tony and I finished diving:

A bit of detail in the collapsed side of the Manum Island crater

If you click to enlarge, you will see the fine filigree pattern of lava layers in the collapsed side of the crater.

On our dives we found beautiful pieces of deep red pumice that had been thrown out of the crater into the sea. I collected a large bag of them.

As evening approached and we prepared to depart, I was pleased by the change of conditions for photography.

The evening sun ignited the greyish smoke rising from the crater:

The evening sun ignites the tower of gas rising from the Manum Island crater

And, as we motored away, I thought to myself, “Papua New Guinea. You Beauty!”

Volcano magic at Manum Island - Papua New Guinea

All’s well that ends well.

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