central Solomon Sea


Southwest view to Suloga Peninsula

Woodlark Island is situated in Milne Bay Province PNG (central Solomon Sea) 600km due east of Port Moresby. Tectonically, the region has experienced seafloor spreading, subduction, and transform faulting. The Solomon Sea Plate represents a buffer to the converging Pacific and Australian Plates.

Woodlark Island (Muyua). The base camp for my research (volcanic stratigraphy-structure-alteration) was situated on Bomagai Hill (“Camp”). Volcanic-hosted epithermal gold deposits have been intermittently mined in the region since around 1895. (Muyuw = the island, the language, and its people (of Melanesian origin)).

This Muyuw outrigger was sitting on a pristine beach adjacent to the crushed coral (Guasopa) airstrip built by US soldiers in 1942 as part of its (WWII) tactical defence to repel advancing Japanese forces. Note: when beached, an outrigger’s bow is always directed toward the sea – numerous maritime cultures share this same tradition.


Sailing outrigger. Note the intricate lashing and the coconut mast base…innovative stuff!!

Shack surrounded by taro fields. The thatched roof is a work of art (detail shot).

Drill line 1050

Self portraits: drenching rain, broken razor.

Far northwestern Muyua (the woodlark’s head).

Suloga Peninsula from the land, sea, and air.

Coral reefs are scattered throughout much of Milne Bay Province and the shallower waters of the Solomon Sea region. Contrasting with this, the nearshore waters on the northeastern coast of Woodlark Island plunge to depths in excess of 1000m, associated with the Trobriand (Trough) palaeo-subduction complex.

Flying over the Owen Stanley Ranges. The mountains are around 12,000 feet high: our single engine plane struggled to reach 14,000 feet during the traverse.

Large braided streams are abundant in the Owen Stanley Ranges.

The Papua New Guinean capital, Port Moresby, its international/domestic airport, the suburbs, and coastal margin.

Families clear the jungle for taro root crops. Although 100′s of crops can be grown in the tropics, there are 1000′s of things to eat them.

We flew from Sydney to Port Moresby…then took a light plane to Muyuw. A motor launch then collected us from Guasopa airstrip…the views were a sight for sore eyes, travelling around the Suloga Peninsula to Boi Boi Point, the key logistical port for supplies to the island.

The pilots always complete a fly-around before landing at Guasopa (crushed coral) airstrip.

Thatched homes amongst palm trees.

Mysterious Woodlark Island. It’s easy to forget that salt-water crocodiles and malaria are potential hazards.

Muyuw children on the beach adjacent to Guasopa airstrip. Masses of pumice litter the shoreline (floating in from the Solomons or New Britain??)

Geologists uncover a gold processing plant in the jungle at Woodlark King. This infrastructure dates back to the earliest 1900′s.

Base camp at Bomagai.

Muyua sunsets from Bomagai camp. This became a daily ritual for my supervisor and I.

Medium-to-coarse grained, flow-foliated, hematite-altered andesitic crystal lithic tuff (ash-fall deposit associated with eruptive volcanism).