Neville A. Threlfall

Neville A. Threlfall grew up on farms in Western Australia and graduated in history and French at the University of Western Australia. He then studied theology for the ministry of the Methodist Church and, through the Methodist Overseas Mission, served in the Rabaul region in 1961–80. In addition to pastoral ministry he worked in the production of literature in English and several Papua New Guinea languages. Threlfall was a visiting fellow in 1981–82 at The Australian National University, researching the history of Rabaul, and then returned to parish ministry in Western Australia and later in New South Wales. He received the Companion of the Order of the Star of Melanesia (Papua New Guinea) in 2020 for his pastoral ministry, Bible translation and historical writings.

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Reassessing the 1937–1943 Volcanic Eruptions at Rabaul

Publication date: October 2023
Wally Johnson and Neville Threlfall re-examine the explosive volcanic eruptions that in 1937–43 killed more than 500 people in the Rabaul area of East New Britain, Papua New Guinea. They reassess this disaster in light of the prodigious amount of new scientific and disaster-management work that has been undertaken there since about 1971, when strong tectonic earthquakes shook the area. Comparisons are made in particular with volcanic eruptions in 1994–2014, when half of Rabaul town was destroyed and then abandoned. A striking feature of historical eruptive periods at Rabaul is the near‑simultaneous activity at Vulcan and Tavurvur volcanoes, on either side of Rabaul Harbour. Such rare ‘twin’ eruptions are interpreted to be the result of a common magma reservoir beneath the harbour. This interpretation has implications for ongoing hazard and risk assessments and for volcano monitoring in the area.