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Marum crater
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Now you can climb inside a fiery volcano with Google Maps

As of Wednesday, Google's Street View lets users explore one of the world's largest boiling lava lakes. Just track down the Marum crater on the Vanuatuan island of Ambrym.
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Fragment of ancient Australia found under Vanuatu

A fragment of ancient Australia has been found under Vanuatu in the South Pacific, raising questions about how continents are formed, researchers say.
Experts had believed that the volcanic islands, east of Australia, were isolated from continental influence.
But a team from James Cook University says it has found tiny zircon crystals of the same age in rocks on Vanuatu and in northern Australia.

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Marum Volcano
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Our team in Vanuatu ab sailed 500 vertical metres into the Marum Volcano on Ambrym Island to the very edge of a huge lake of violently boiling lava - live via sat phone 20 Sept 2010



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A real life journey to the centre of the Earth saw a group of adventurers abseiling into the lava-spewing crater of a huge volcano - and tourists could soon have the chance to do the same. Just metres away from a fiery death, Geoff Mackley and his team are believed have ventured further into Marum Volcano - in Vanuatu in the South Pacific - than anyone ever before
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A New Zealand scientist monitoring a volcano thats forced the relocation of more than 350 people in Vanuatu says its eruptions are not life-threatening.
The Vanuatu government asked for assistance from New Zealand to monitor Mt Garet on the island of Gaua because its own geohazards team is inadequately resourced.

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Vanuatu volcano alert
Communities on the Vanuatu island of Gaua are worried about the volcano in its centre. For the past fortnight Gaua volcano has shown signs of increased seismic activity, generating sulphurous gas and ash into the atmosphere and affecting water supplies.

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Vanuatu ancient cemetery
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Archaeologists digging in Vanuatu (Melanesia) have unearthed an ancient cemetery containing the curiously headless skeletons of what are believed to be the earliest known ancestors of Pacific Islanders. The 3,000 year-old remains are those of the Lapita people, who colonised Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa around the time the Pharaohs reigned in Egypt, says Professor Matthew Spriggs of the Australian National University, who led the dig.
Prof Spriggs said tests are expected to confirm that the skeletons belong to the ancestors of Polynesian groups like Maori, Tongans and Samoans.

"It's the earliest cemetery ever found in the Pacific Islands. Up until now people have speculated about the origins of the Polynesians, the origins of the Lapita people, and who were the Lapita people? We've actually got the Lapita people" - Professor Matthew Spriggs

He said the Vanuatu National Museum asked the ANU to investigate the site after it was disturbed by bulldozers clearing the way for a prawn farm. The site was excavated in three stages over 2004, 2005 and 2006 by a team co-directed by his ANU colleague Dr Stuart Bedford and Ralph Regenvanu from the Vanuatu National Cultural Council.
Prof Spriggs says the remains, as well as other archaeological evidence, suggest the Lapita dug up dead people and removed their heads after burial, held the number three as magical and may have believed that children "weren't real people". This is because not one child was found among the 70 skeletons at the cemetery at Teouma, on the southern coast of the island of Efate.

"The only group that's missing are young kids. We've got (young) babies, we've got adult males and females of all ages, but we've got no kids between one and 16. Did they feel that kids weren't real people yet, so they were treated differently or weren't buried in the same place?" - Professor Matthew Spriggs.

Another mystery is the location of the heads. Of 70 individuals, only seven skulls have been located, including three on one man's chest, three between the legs of another man and one in a pot. Spriggs says it's likely that the heads were removed after burial. Up till about 100 years ago when European missionaries arrived in the Pacific, it was common practice for islanders to let the flesh rot away from the head of a dead person and then place the skull in a shrine or a house, he says.

"The head was seen as the seat of the soul, so it's the most important part. It was also a common ritual to remove other bones. Quite often the shoulder blades have been removed and often the forearm bones" - Professor Matthew Spriggs.

The fact that skulls were found in groups of three suggests that the number may have held some magical significance for the Lapita.
Prof Spriggs says scientists in New Zealand and US laboratories will test the bones for traces of ancient DNA which, together with skull measurements, will hopefully solve the riddle of the origins of the Polynesian people. It's most likely to confirm theories that the Polynesians originally came from South-East Asia via Eastern Indonesia, the Philippines and ultimately Taiwan, he says. The team also unearthed six elaborately decorated pots - the largest number of completely reconstructed pots of any site of its age in the Pacific. Five of the pots are on display at Vanuatu and the sixth is being restored at the Australian Museum.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald


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Volcanologists are puzzling over why a lake atop a Mount Manaro on the South Pacific island of Ambae has changed colour from blue to bright red.

Mount Manaro, one of four volcanos currently active in the island nation of Vanuatu, has been showing signs of erupting for only the second time in 122 years.

"We are still... trying to understand this change of colour in the lake from blue to red" - Esline Garae, Geology and Mines Department director.

Esline Garae said two scientists on Ambae Island were monitoring Lake Vui as well as seismic activity on the 1 500m high Mount Manaro.

"If the change of colour... comes from new activity in the ground or just chemical change in the lake - these are two things I want to know from those guys before I can say anything" .

Ambryn Island
Latitude:, -15.37788800. Longitude:, 167.83058200

Mount Manaro last erupted in November 2005, forcing half the island's 10 000 inhabitants to evacuate their villages but causing no injuries. The eruption before that, in 1884, killed scores of villagers.
Three other volcanoes in Vanuatu - Lopevi, Yasur and a two-crater volcano on Ambryn Island called Marum and Benbow - have spewed rocks, ash, smoke and steam over the South Pacific island nation in recent weeks.
However, activity has slowed in recent days.
New Zealand volcanologist Brad Scott said Lake Vui's colour was "quite a spectacular red," but what had caused it "is the $64 000 question".
He said water samples from the lake would help determine what was happening in the crater and below it.

"(The colour change ) could be a chemical process ... or magmatic gas (from molten volcanic rock) or something else coming into the lake" - Brad Scott .

The peak on uninhabited Lopevi Island was the most recent to spurt sulphurous ash into the sky, causing havoc on 10 surrounding islands.
Further observations of Yasur would likely be made next week to confirm whether the volcanic activity was continuing to decline.

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Vanuatu the volcano, on the remote South Pacific island of Ambae, erupted on Thursday - shooting steam and toxic gases 9,845 feet into the sky.

Ash was spewed above the Island to reach the greatest height seen since Mount Manaro, which cradles a volcanic lake in its crater, began erupting November 27.



Since the volcano's activity started, some 2,000 tons of ash has been falling daily around the mountain base.
Thousands of villagers have been evacuated from the path of a possible lahar, or mud flow, that vulcanologists fear could burst over the crater lip if the eruption continues or intensifies.
A "red zone" has been declared around the volcano and several ships were ready to evacuate islanders if the situation worsens dramatically.

"It remains a low-level eruption, but it could go either way - worsen or slowly subside." - Brad Scott, New Zealand vulcanologist.

Brad Scott is on Ambae monitoring the eruption.
The plumes of steam and gases were bursting from a huge vent in the middle of a muddy gray-brown Lake Vui in the crater - which before the eruptions began last month was a picturesque calm aqua blue.
now looks like a huge grubby bowl of hot `kava`.



Dead trees ring the edge of the crater, while trees in dense jungle nearby were covered in ash that has been belching from the volcano.

Some 5,000 villagers - half the island's population - are squatting in townships in low-lying areas of the northwest and southeast corners of the small island, one of more than 80 in the archipelago, which is studded with active and dormant volcanoes. The islands, with a total population of 200,000 people, are 1,400 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia.
Two hospitals on the island have been emptied of patients, and teams of doctors and nurses were on call to fly to Ambae from the capital, Port Vila, if a major eruption occurs.



Ambae, an hour's flight northeast from Port Vila, lies near the islands of Pentecost and Maewo, which could be used to help resettle people displaced by a major eruption.

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