Mount Yasur (volcano), Tanna Island, Vanuatu


We boarded four-wheel-drive trucks owned and driven by the locals for the 45 minute drive to the crater rim of Mount Yasur, timed so we would arrive at dusk in order to see the mountain, Mount Yasur (volcano), Tanna Island, Vanuatu


“Mount Yasur is an active volcano on Tanna Island, Vanuatu, with a height of 361 meters (1,184 feet) above sea level, located on the South East coast near Sulphur Bay.  Mount Yasur has a largely unvegetated pyroclastic cone with a nearly-circular summit crater 400 meters (1,312 feet) in diameter.  It is a stratovolcano caused by the eastward-moving Indo-Australian plate being subducted under the westward-moving Pacific Plate.  It has been nearly continuously erupting for centuries, although usually it can be approached safely. Its eruptions, which often occur several times an hour, are classified as Strombolian or Vulcanian.” –



As we hiked up the ramp and steps to the volcano crater’s rim, we were serenaded by singing local men and women, Mount Yasur (volcano), Tanna Island, Vanuatu


As noted in our previous blog post [“Tanna Island, Vanuatu”] the glow of the Mount Yasur volcano was apparently what attracted Captain James Cook on the first European journey to Tanna Island in 1774.



Three of the men who serenaded us by singing as we hiked up the ramp and steps to the volcano crater’s rim, Mount Yasur (volcano), Tanna Island, Vanuatu


Because of the importance of the volcano to the tourism industry in Tanna, the local government has created levels to restrict people’s access:

Level 0 – Low activity, access to the crater allowed

Level 1 – Normal activity, access to the crater allowed

Level 2 – Moderate to high activity, lava bombs may land beyond the crater rim, access to the crater is closed;

Level 3 – Severe activity with loud explosions, lava bombs ejected up to hundreds of meters outside the crater and large plumes of smoke and ash, access to the summit zone is closed

Level 4 – Major eruption affecting large areas around the volcano and possibly other parts of Tanna and even neighboring islands, all access closed



Our group assembled on the crater rim (right side of photograph) which was as close to the volcano (some smoke is billowing out on the left) as visitors are allowed, Mount Yasur (volcano), Tanna Island, Vanuatu


The night we visited the live volcano activity was at Level 1, so we were able to drive up to the crater and walk to the rim to observe the eruptions.  This was very thrilling – a nearly unique experience in world travels, as Mount Yasur is so easily accessible (once you’ve gotten half-way around the world to Vanuatu!).  As expected, the volcano put on quite a show (aurally and visually).



We were given quite a show, with volcanic eruptions every few minutes – here at dusk, with mostly smoke and ash visible, Mount Yasur (volcano), Tanna Island, Vanuatu



Once it got dark, the show switched from “black and white” to “color”, Mount Yasur (volcano), Tanna Island, Vanuatu



The volcanic eruptions visible from the rim in the dark were a spectacular “fireworks” show put on by Mother Nature; we now understand why Mt. Yasur is considered one of the world’s most accessible volcanoes; Mount Yasur (volcano), Tanna Island, Vanuatu


5 thoughts on “Mount Yasur (volcano), Tanna Island, Vanuatu

  1. Rich,

    Great volcano pix! Thanks. Am I right that the locals are dressed in those colorful outfits for the tourists, or would they be dressed that way anyway?


    Liked by 1 person

    • Regarding the outfits and face painting — that is done for the ceremonial dances, some of which are only performed annually (and performed for special guests like us at other times, or, in the case several days ago, the annual dance was delayed to await our arrival!). Their clothing is both traditional (grass skirts, men’s penis covers, etc) and some western (shorts, tee shirts, etc.). It is interesting to learn that due to the local Christian churches, as westerners began increasing their travel in this region in the past 20-30 years (and more recently) the local women have stopped going bare breasted in public when visitors are in their village.


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