SPC Geoscience Division

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Papua New Guinea

Newsflash

Joanne Robbins, a scientist at the Met Office in the UK and working with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has just published a summary of her extensive PhD thesis through SPC.Joanne has been working for the past four years on her thesis which focuses on the temporal and spatial variability of landslides across the whole of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the links between these events and changing rainfall patterns.

The project was jointly supervised between Professor Michael Petterson (formerly of the University of Leicester, UK and now Director of SPC Geoscience Division), Mr Ken Mylne (Met Office, UK), and Dr Joe Espi of the University of Papua New Guinea.  PNG’s Mineral Resources Authority and the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management were also close collaborators with Joanne and provided support and advise throughout.

PNG’s position within the highly-dynamic Maritime Continent, and the rugged and varied topography across the PNG Highlands and high parts of islands such as Bougainville and New Britain, mean that numerous meteorological and geological processes interact to result in landslides across the country.  

Joanne has documented that landslides occur more regularly at certain times of the year in PNG (e.g. during March April and May) and particularly during the wet La Nina episodes of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).  Landslides are less likely to occur during September and October and particularly during drier El Nino episodes.