Mount Yasur is an active volcano on Tanna Island, Vanuatu, 361 m (1,184 ft) high above sea level, on the coast near Sulphur Bay, southeast of the taller Mount Tukosmera, which was active in the Pleistocene. It has a largely unvegetated pyroclastic cone with a nearly circular summit crater 400 m 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 erupting nearly continuously for over 800 years, although it can usually be approached safely. Its eruptions, which often occur several times an hour, are classified as Strombolian or Vulcanian.
The glow of the volcano was apparently what attracted Captain James Cook on the first European journey to the island in 1774. Today the mountain is a sacred area for the John Frum cargo cult. Members of the cult revere John Frum, a deified messenger who foretold the bringing of wealth to the island by American forces, and believe he resides in Mount Yasur with his countrymen. The village of Sulphur Bay, the center of the movement, claims the volcano as part of their territory.
A visiting television team found in a deep gully left by a lake which had suddenly drained, an exposure of old ash deposits including thick layers telling of two massive eruptions “more powerful than Mount St. Helens” several centuries or more ago; one of them had made the old caldera that Mount Yasur is inside.
Tanna (sometimes spelled Tana) is an island in Tafea Province of Vanuatu.
Vanuatu, officially the Republic of Vanuatu, is an Oceanian island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some 1,750 kilometres (1,090 mi) east of northern Australia, 500 kilometres (310 mi) northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.
Vanuatu was first inhabited by Melanesian people. The first Europeans to visit the islands were a Spanish expedition led by Portuguese navigator Fernandes de Queirós, who arrived in Espiritu Santo in 1605; he claimed the archipelago for Spain and named it Espiritu Santo (Spanish for Holy Spirit). In the 1880s, France and the United Kingdom claimed parts of the country, and in 1906 they agreed on a framework for jointly managing the archipelago as the New Hebrides through a British–French Condominium. An independence movement arose in the 1970s, and the Republic of Vanuatu was founded in 1980.