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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 15.62°S
  • 173.67°W

  • -33 m
    -108 ft

  • 243102
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Curacoa.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Curacoa.

Index of Monthly Reports

Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

07/1973 (CSLP 94-73) Steam and boiling water; pumice belt

08/1973 (CSLP 94-73) No evidence of activity during aerial reconnaissance on 29 July

06/1979 (SEAN 04:06) Fisherman sees eruption on 14 May

12/1979 (SEAN 04:12) Eruption site between Tafahi and Curacao Reef generates black plume

Contents of Monthly Reports

All information contained in these reports is preliminary and subject to change.

07/1973 (CSLP 94-73) Steam and boiling water; pumice belt

Card 1679 (19 July 1973) Steam and boiling water seen from aircraft

"American Airlines Flight No. 202, from Nandi, Fiji, to Pago Pago, reports what appears to be volcanic action in the area 15°20' S, 173°55' W (15.33°S, 173.92°W), approximately 240 km SW of American Samoa, on a direct line from Nandi to Pago Pago. The activity is centered around Curacoa Reef. The aircraft reports that it appears to be a 'gigantic oil spill,' with water boiling up and steam."

Card 1685 (27 July 1973) Pumice belt is 13 km wide and 30-45 cm deep

"The ship Union South Pacific reports a pumice belt 13 km wide running northward from the position 15°56' S, 175°52' W (15.93°S, 175.87°W) for at least 16 km. The measured depth of the pumice was 30-45 cm. The ship entered this belt at about 1100 GMT, 25 July, at 15°55' S, 175°52' W (15.92°S, 175.87°W)."

Information Contacts:
Card 1679 (19 July 1973) Donald Graf, Government Ecologist, Government of American Samoa, Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799 USA.
Card 1685 (27 July 1973) J.H. Latter, c/o DSIR Geophysics Division, P.O. Box 8005, Wellington, New Zealand.

08/1973 (CSLP 94-73) No evidence of activity during aerial reconnaissance on 29 July

Card 1694 (13 August 1973) No evidence of activity during aerial reconnaissance on 29 July

"On Sunday, July 29 we flew from Tutuila to the Island of Tafahi in the upper Tongan group and due N to Curacoa Reef and then due W to the Island of Niua Fo`ou and then to Tutuila. No evidence of volcanic activity in the area of Curacoa Reef was sighted and we did not spot the cinder patch in the area of Niua Fo`ou.

"The lack of volcanic activity is not surprising, for this is no doubt an intermittent activity. There are three possibilities for the cinder patch: 1) Cinders absorbed water and sank, 2) dissipated by wave action, and 3) drifted beyond the range of the aircraft we were using. I believe the last one would be the most probable, the second to be possible, and the first to be highly improbable."

Information Contact: Donald Graf, Government Ecologist, Government of American Samoa, Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799 USA.

06/1979 (SEAN 04:06) Fisherman sees eruption on 14 May

A fisherman saw an eruption near Tafahi (14.85°S, 173.75°W) on 14 May, the only day he was in the area.

Information Contacts: R. Richmond, Mineral Resources Dept., Fiji; J. Latter, DSIR, Wellington; S. Tongilava, Lands Survey and Natural Resources, Tonga; R. Jones, Air Tonga.

12/1979 (SEAN 04:12) Eruption site between Tafahi and Curacao Reef generates black plume

Further details from Tongan authorities indicated that submarine activity reported by a fisherman occurred 14 May about 13 km N of Tafahi at the N end of the Tonga Islands. [This location is 14 km S of Curacoa Reef]. Thick black "smoke" reached a height of about 100 m, and the eruption may have been rhythmic or spasmodic. At about the same time, a small earthquake was felt on Nuiatoputapu, ~25 km from the eruption site.

Information Contacts: D. Woodhall and R. Richmond, Mineral Resources Dept., Fiji; D. Tuni, Ministry of Natural Resources, Solomon Islands.

A submarine volcano south of Curacoa Reef at the northern end of the Tofua volcanic arc was first observed in eruption in 1973. Explosive eruptions, which produced large rafts of dacitic pumice covering an area of more than 100 sq km, were observed from the island of Tafahi, 27 km to the SSW. The eruption site was located about 6.5 km SW of Curacoa Reef. Multiple submarine vents are apparently located in this area; a second eruption was reported in 1979 from a location 13 km north of Tafahi.

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1979 May 14 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations 13 km north of Tafahi
1973 Jul 11 1973 Jul 16 Confirmed 3 Historical Observations 6.4 km SW of Curacoa Reef

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.

A raft of floating pumice from a July 1973 submarine eruption closes behind the wake of a ship. This was the first report of an eruption from the Curacoa submarine volcano in the northern Tonga Islands. The pumice raft covered an area of more than 100 sq km and was encountered by a ship 200 km to the west nearly two weeks after the start of the eruption. Another eruption was observed in the same general area in 1979.

Photo by the crew of the vessel "Port Nicholson," 1973 (courtesy of Tom Simkin, Smithsonian Institution).

The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title.

Simkin T, 1977. . (pers. comm.).

Smithsonian Institution-CSLP, 1968-75. [Event notification cards]. Center for Short-Lived Phenomena (CSLP) Event Cards.

Taylor P W, Ewart A, 1997. The Tofua Volcanic Arc, Tonga, SW Pacific: a review of historic volcanic activity. Aust Volc Invest Occ Rpt, 97/01: 1-58.

Volcano Types


Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Oceanic crust (< 15 km)

Rock Types



Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of Curacoa Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
Smithsonian Collections Search the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections database. Go to the "Search Rocks and Ores" tab and use the Volcano Name drop-down to find samples.