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Fire Mountains of the Islands

Acknowledgements and Sources

This book could not have been written without the support of the Australian Government since 1968 while I was employed at Geoscience Australia (GA) and while working for the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and its predecessor. Neither of these agencies, however, can be held responsible for any errors of fact or poor judgments of events. Any such flaws are entirely my own doing.

Hundreds of people have contributed in different ways to this history, but here I acknowledge by name the strong personal influence of eight of them: N.H. Fisher, G.A.M. Taylor, D.H. Blake, R.J.S. Cooke, C.O. McKee, N.A. Threlfall, R.J. Blong, and K.J. Granger. Omitting all of the other names is both pragmatic and unforgiveable. Nevertheless, I must extend my appreciation to colleagues and friends at the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory (RVO) with whom I have worked over many years, including the current staff led by Ima Itikarai. This work, since the 1994 eruption at Rabaul, has been undertaken jointly by RVO and GA staff, and made possible by means of project work supported by the Australian Government through AusAID. I acknowledge here the much-valued friendship over those 18 years of GA project manager Shane Nancarrow. Shane has remained consistently loyal and tenaciously committed to our cause of supporting the technical work of RVO.

The following, in no particular order, have generously given up their time to review draft chapters, or to contribute materially to them: the late Hank Nelson, Elena Govor, Neville Threlfall, the late Herman Patia, Chris Ballard, Des Martin, Ima Itikarai, Shane Nancarrow, the late Robert Blakie, Gianni D’Addario, Steve Saunders, Klaus Neumann, Lucille Piper, Hilary Howes, David Blake, Hugh Davies, Monica Russell, Maclaren Hiari, Robin Hide, John Horne, the late Norman Fisher, the late Margaret Spencer, John Latter, Pat Durdin, David Marsh, Chris McKee, Betty Forster, Russell Blong, Colin Pain, Bob Tilling, Alanna Simpson, Brad Scott, Levi Mano, Beddie Jubilee, Gerry McGrade, Vince Neall, Pip Earl and, not least, Albert Speer. Bryant Allen and Chris Ballard heroically reviewed the entire manuscript.

Hank Nelson and Chris Ballard, both Pacific historians at the Australia National University (ANU) in Canberra, have been consistently supportive of my attempts to write as if a historian, as has ANU as a whole in allowing me to be a visiting fellow in the College of Asia and the Pacific. Pacific historians past and present at ANU have set for me an impossibly high standard in writing stylish English and telling stories.

An attempt has been made to quote only peer-reviewed publications, but I make no apologies for also referring to contributions from the ‘grey’ literature, much of which is of high quality. I also acknowledge with gratitude access to and assistance from the respective staff of, the ‘Doc Fisher’ Library — named after N.H. Fisher — at Geoscience Australia, as well as of the National Library of Australia, the Menzies Library at ANU, the National Archives of Australia, and the Australian War Memorial. These agencies are all in Canberra. I must include also the National Archives of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby (and its impressive staff), what remains of the library at the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory, the libraries of the University of Papua New Guinea and the National Research Institute, both in Port Moresby, and the Mitchell Library in Sydney.

Selecting photographs has been a challenge, firstly because there is such a wide range to choose from and, secondly, because in some cases, and despite determined investigative efforts, I have not been able to identify the original photographers. I here offer my sincere apologies to these anonymous contributors and thank those whom I found.

Many of the photographs are from a large collection kept by GA, each one of which has an individual serial number and some of which are copies of originals. The photographers for many of these images are former GA officers. GA also has a collection of negative copies for photographs taken by other people, and obtained by other GA staff, including myself, over the years. The locations of the original negatives for some of these photographs are unknown, as indeed are the names of some of the photographers. Staff at Bica Photographics in Canberra helped greatly in improving the quality of some of the digital images and showed a great deal of personal interest in the volcano-related photographs.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge the production team at ANU E Press, led by Duncan Beard, who have been a constant source of friendly, professional, support and advice. I am grateful also to Silvio Mezzomo of Geoscience Australia, Karina Pelling and Jennifer Sheehan of the Digital Design team in the ANU College of the Pacific, as well as freelancers Ian Scales and Peter Johnson, for finalising line diagrams, most of which were designed by them specifically for this book. I also thank the ANU Publication Subsidy Committee, which awarded a small grant that offset most of the cost of copyediting the final version of the book. Justine Molony undertook the task of copyediting with aplomb, patience and professionalism.

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