Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

All reports of volcanic activity published by the Smithsonian since 1968 are available through a monthly table of contents or by searching for a specific volcano. Until 1975, reports were issued for individual volcanoes as information became available; these have been organized by month for convenience. Later publications were done in a monthly newsletter format. Links go to the profile page for each volcano with the Bulletin tab open.

Information is preliminary at time of publication and subject to change.

 Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 43, Number 02 (February 2018)


Managing Editor: Edward Venzke

Aira (Japan)

Explosions gradually decrease in frequency during 2015-2016

Ambae (Vanuatu)

New eruption begins in early September 2017, forcing evacuation of thousands

Fernandina (Ecuador)

Brief fissure eruption sends lava flow down the SW flank in early September 2017

Fuego (Guatemala)

Seven eruptive episodes during July-December 2017

Stromboli (Italy)

Moderate increase in thermal energy and explosion rate, April-August 2017

Tungurahua (Ecuador)

Ash emissions, explosions, and pyroclastic flows 26 February-16 March 2016; no further activity through 2017



Aira (Japan) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

31.593°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions gradually decrease in frequency during 2015-2016

Sakurajima rises from Kagoshima Bay, which fills the Aira Caldera near the southern tip of Japan's Kyushu Island. Frequent explosive and occasional effusive activity has been ongoing for centuries. The Minamidake summit cone has been the location of persistent activity since 1955; the Showa crater on its E flank has been the most active site since 2006. Tens of explosions and ash-bearing emissions have been occurring monthly for the last several years and were continuous through October 2015. After a three-month break, activity resumed in February 2016 and lasted through August 2016. No further activity was reported through December 2016. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) provided regular reports on activity, and the Tokyo VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center) issued hundreds of reports about ash plumes during 2015-2016.

The number of explosive events at the Showa crater of Sakurajima increased from January-May 2015. During the period, ash emissions commonly rose 3,000 m above the crater rim, and a few exceeded 4,000 m; tephra was often ejected 1.3 km and as far as 1.8 km from the crater. Incandescence was observed every week; multiple MODVOLC thermal alerts were reported monthly from January-June 2015. The Tokyo VAAC issued 845 reports between 1 January and 14 October 2015. The number of monthly explosions decreased sharply during June-August. Tiltmeter and strainmeter data indicated continuing inflation through mid-August when the inflation rate increased significantly for a brief period. This was followed by deflation for the remainder of 2015. Pyroclastic flows were reported in March, April, and June. Minor emissions occurred at Minamidake crater in May, June, and August. Activity increased at both craters during September, with the first substantial explosion at Minamidake in almost a year. An emission from Showa on 2 November 2015 was noted in a JMA weekly report, but its composition was not described; the last confirmed ash emission of the year was on 14 October 2015.

After three months of quiet, a substantial explosion at Showa in early February 2016 marked the beginning of a new eruptive episode that continued through the end of July, after which explosive activity ceased at Showa for the remainder of the year (figure 49). Minor emissions were reported at Minamidake through August 2016. Pyroclastic flows occurred in April and June from explosions at the Showa crater. Inflation was measured again beginning in April 2016 and continued through December 2016.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Explosions from the Showa crater at Sakurajima, January 2013-December 2016. Data do not include activity at Minamidake crater, or passive (non-explosive) ash or steam emissions from Showa. After many years of multiple monthly explosions, activity decreased in September 2015. A smaller burst of activity occurred from February to July 2016. Data compiled from JMA reports.

Activity during January-May 2015. JMA reported 61 explosions from the Showa crater during January 2015, twice the number recorded in December 2014 (figure 50). Explosions on 4 and 30 January sent ejecta as far as 1.8 km from the crater. The maximum plume height reported by JMA was 4,000 m above the crater rim on 23 January. Lapilli up to 2 cm in diameter from recent explosions were found in Kurokami (3.5 km E) and Arimura (3 km S) during JMA field visits on 16 and 30 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. An ash emission at Sakurajima on 20 January 2015 was captured by a webcam in Kagoshima (10 km W). Courtesy of Volcano Discovery.

The number of explosions increased to 88 during February 2015, with events on 21 and 22 February sending tephra 1.8 km from the crater. Plumes rose as much as 3,500 m above the rim during the month. During a field survey on 4 March scientists observed ash deposits with fragments up to 2 cm in diameter, in an area 3 km S of Showa Crater. JMA reported that the largest number of explosions they have recorded in a month, 178, occurred at the crater in March. Numerous plumes rose 3,300 m above the crater. A small pyroclastic flow on 17 March traveled 600 m SE.

Seismicity below the island increased briefly between 31 March and 2 April 2015. An explosion on 17 April sent tephra 1.8 km from the crater rim. Two pyroclastic flows were reported on 18 and 28 April 2015; Showa crater had 112 explosions throughout the month. The pyroclastic flow on 28 April travelled 500 m down the SE flank. The highest ash plume rose 4,000 m on 24 April. JMA calculated that about 1.2 million tons of ash fell during April, the largest monthly amount recorded since 2006.

Several of the 169 explosions at the Showa crater during May 2015 produced ejecta that was deposited up to 1.8 km from the crater. Many explosions had plume heights exceeding 3,000 m. A small emission, rising 200 m, was observed from the Minamidaki crater on 12 May and was the first in several months. JMA scientists observed 2-cm-diameter tephra in the vicinity of Kurojin-cho, Kagoshima-shi on 14 May, likely from an explosion the previous day; significant ashfall covered the ground as well. The highest ash plume of the month rose 4,300 m above the Showa crater on 21 May 2015 (figures 51 and 52).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. An ash plume rose 4,300 m above Sakurajima on 21 May 2015, shown in this webcam image from Kagoshima. Courtesy of Volcano Discovery.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. A dense plume of ash drifted S and E from Sakurajima on 21 May 2015. This natural-color satellite image was taken by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Activity during June-December 2015. Five of the 64 explosions recorded during June produced ejecta that landed up to 1.3 km from the Showa Crater (figure 53). A 3,300-m-high ash plume on 1 June was the highest for the month. After three explosions on 4 June, a small pyroclastic flow traveled 400 m down the E flank. A second small event on 22 June at Minamidake produced a gray plume that rose 200 m.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Ash rose from Showa Crater at Sakurajima on 9 June 2015. Image taken by a drone managed by Naoto Yoshitome and Krishima Aerial Photography. Courtesy of Naoto Yoshitome, Twitter.

Activity decreased significantly beginning in July 2015, with 14 explosions reported from the Showa Crater, and declined further during August with only 5 explosions. A small explosion from the Minamidake crater on 16 July sent emissions likely containing ash (described as "non-white") to 200 m. A rapid increase in seismicity directly beneath Minamidake began on 15 August and lasted about 48 hours; along with tiltmeter and strainmeter observations of rapid inflation (figure 54), this led JMA to briefly raise the Alert Level from 3 (Do not approach the volcano) to 4 (Prepare to evacuate) an a scale of 2-5. They lowered it back to 3 on 1 September 2015. Only small explosions with tephra ejected up to 800 m were recorded during the rest of the August. Minor emissions occurred at Minamidake Crater on 30 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. An interference image of Sakurajima using PALSAR-2 high-resolution mode (3 m resolution) data comparing displacement between 4 January and 16 August 2015. The data showed a displacement toward the satellite (inflation) of about 16 cm maximum (within the white square), on the E side of the Minamidake summit crater. The synthetic aperture radar (PALSAR - 2) equipped with Daichi 2 (Land Observing Satellite No. 2 "Daichi 2" (ALOS- 2)) can measure the displacement of the ground surface (how much the ground moved) by taking the difference between two sets of observation data. Such an analysis method is called interference SAR analysis (or interferometry, InSAR). The color changes represent the differences in the two observations, a pattern of green to red to blue indicates movement of the surface towards the satellite (inflation); a pattern of green to blue to red indicates movement away from the satellite (deflation). Courtesy of JAXA (http://www.eorc.jaxa.jp/ALOS-2/img_up/jpal2_sakurajima_20150816-17.htm).

Incandescence at the Showa Crater was observed several times during September 2015; 46 explosive events were reported. The first significant explosions at the Minamidake summit crater since 7 November 2014 occurred on 13 and 28 September. The 28 September plume rose to 2,700 m above the crater rim. Tiltmeter data indicated no additional inflation since the rapid ground deformation of 15-16 August. The last explosive event of 2015 reported by JMA at the Showa crater was on 17 September and at the Minamidaki crater on 29 September.

The Tokyo VAAC reported an ash emission on 14 October 2015 that rose to 1.8 km and drifted SW. This was the last VAAC report until 5 February 2016. No explosions were recorded at the Showa crater in October, but minor ash emissions were reported on 14, 15, 21, 22, and 30 October. No activity was observed at Minamidake. Data from continuous GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) observations suggested that deflation began after the 15 August rapid inflation event.

A minor emission was reported by JMA from the Showa crater on 2 November 2015, the last emission reported for the year. After not having explosive activity since late September, JMA lowered the Alert Level to 2 (Do not approach the crater) on 25 November, reducing the exclusion area to 1 km around the two craters. Only steam plumes rising 50-200 m above the Showa crater and 50-600 m above the Minamidake crater were observed during December 2015.

Aerial observation on 2 December 2015 revealed 100-m-high steam plumes around the floor of the Showa crater. Thermal observations showed high heat flow around the edges and at the center of the crater floor, unchanged since the previous observation in August 2015; 200-m-high steam plumes around the Minamidake crater prevented observation of the crater floor.

Activity during 2016. No explosive activity was observed at Showa or Minamidake craters from October 2015 to 5 February 2016. JMA raised the Alert Level back to 3 after a substantial explosion on 5 February sent incandescent tephra up to 1.8 km from the Showa crater; lightning was observed in the ash cloud (figure 55). The Tokyo VAAC reported that an ash plume visible in satellite imagery was at 3 km altitude drifting SE. Multiple explosions continued from the Showa crater for the rest of February with ash plumes rising to 2.2 km above the crater, and tephra was frequently ejected 1.3 km from the crater. Four MODVOLC thermal alerts in February were the only alerts for 2016. At the Minamidake summit crater, minor emissions occurred on 8, 9, and 20 February with plumes rising 800 m above the crater rim.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Incandescent tephra explodes from Showa crater at Sakurajima on 5 February 2016 after three months of inactivity. Photo by Kyoto News/AP. Courtesy of the Washington Post.

Eight explosions at the Showa crater were reported by JMA, and six at the Minamidake summit crater during March 2016. Ash plumes at Minamidake on 4, 8, and 11 March rose 1,600-1,900 m above the crater rim; on 25 and 26 March they rose 2,000 m. Minor emissions were also noted on 14 and 15 March. Three explosions from the Showa Crater on 26 March sent ash plumes 2,700 m high (figure 56); tephra as large as 8 mm in diameter was found in areas 4 km E.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Multiple explosions on 26 March 2016 at Sakurajima sent tephra as large as 8 mm in diameter as far as 4 km from Minamidake crater. Image taken from a drone managed by Naoto Yoshidome. Courtesy of Naoto Yoshidome, Twitter.

Activity increased during April 2016 with 51 emission events that included 15 explosions at Showa, and JMA reported inflation again after several months of stability. Reports of falling tephra, 2 cm in diameter, came from a town 3 km S after explosions were witnessed during 1-3 April. On 1 April, an explosion at Minamidake summit crater produced an ash plume which rose 800 m above its crater rim; another on 3 April rose 1,700 m. Minor emissions also occurred at Minamidake on 5, 6, and 9 April. Explosions on 6 and 8 April at Showa sent ash plumes 3,500-3,700 m high and tephra 1.3 km. During the 8 April explosion at Showa, a small pyroclastic flow traveled 400 m down the E flank, the first since June 2015. A 2,200-m-high ash plume rose from Showa crater on 17 April. Minor emissions that rose 800 m were detected at Minamidake on 20 and 28 April. Two explosions occurred on 27 April at Showa, followed by additional explosions on 28, 29, and 30 April; the events generated ash plumes that rose 3,000 m. Pyroclastic flows were generated during the events of 28 and 30 April; they each flowed about 500 m, SE and E, respectively.

A large explosion at the Showa crater on 1 May sent an ash plume to 4,100 m above the crater rim (figure 57). It was the first time since 21 May 2015 that a plume rose higher than 4,000 m. At the Minamidake summit crater, ash emissions on 1 and 13 May rose 3,500 and 3,700 m, respectively, the first plumes at Minamidake over 3,000 m since October 2009. An explosion on 8 May at Showa sent an ash plume over 3,300 m above the crater rim, and tephra reached 1,300 m from the crater. Numerous ash emissions continued throughout the month, some with plumes rising to 3,500 m. The Tokyo VAAC issued 26 reports between 13 and 22 May. Activity diminished toward the end of the month, but minor inflation continued.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. An explosive eruption at Sakurajima's Showa Crater on 1 May 2016 sent an ash plume 4,100 m above the crater that drifted SE. It was the highest plume in the last year. Taken with the "Cattle Root" webcam, courtesy of JMA (May 2016 Monthly Sakurajima report).

Multiple ash emissions in early June 2016 produced plumes as high as 2,000 m above the Showa crater rim. An explosion on 3 June produced a pyroclastic flow that traveled 400 m SE, and tephra that was ejected 800 m from the crater. An emission at the Minamidake crater on 3 June rose 1,500m high. No further explosive activity was reported for June; only a minor emission from the Showa crater on 29 June. During the month, the Tokyo VAAC issued only six reports (during 2-3 June).

Two explosive events were recorded at Showa crater in July 2016. An explosion occurred on 2 July that produced a 1,200-m-high ash plume and sent large blocks 800 m from the crater. A substantial explosion on 26 July at Showa sent blocks 800 m from the crater, and produced an ash plume that rose 5,000 m. A minor amount of ashfall on the W and SW flanks of Sakurajima was observed, and ashfall was confirmed in a wide area from Kagoshima City (10 km W) to Hioki City (25 km NW). The Tokyo VAAC reported an ash plume drifting SW at 6.1 km altitude that day.

Minor emissions were observed at the Minamidake crater intermittently throughout August 2016, but no emissions or explosions were reported from Showa. The Tokyo VAAC reported a low-level ash plume on 22 August at 1.2 km altitude drifting 50 km SW (figure 58). This was the last VAAC report for 2016. Although there were no emissions or explosive activity reported from either crater during September-December 2016, inflation of the volcano continued, and thus the Alert Level remained at 3.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. An ash emission rose from Sakurajima's Minamidake crater on the morning of 22 August 2016. This was the last reported ash emission of 2016. Taken from the Tarumizu City MBC (Minaminihon Broadcasting Co., Ltd.) webcam no. 14, located about 14 km E. Courtesy of Minaminihon Broadcasting Co., Ltd. (http://www.mbc.co.jp/web-cam/).

Geologic Background. The Aira caldera in the northern half of Kagoshima Bay contains the post-caldera Sakurajima volcano, one of Japan's most active. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow accompanied formation of the 17 x 23 km caldera about 22,000 years ago. The smaller Wakamiko caldera was formed during the early Holocene in the NE corner of the Aira caldera, along with several post-caldera cones. The construction of Sakurajima began about 13,000 years ago on the southern rim of Aira caldera and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kitadake summit cone ended about 4850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minamidake. Frequent historical eruptions, recorded since the 8th century, have deposited ash on Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largest cities, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); NASA Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/); Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) (URL: http://global.jaxa.jp/); Associated Press (URL: http://www.ap.org/); Tom Pfeiffer, Volcano Discovery (URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/ ); Naoto Yoshidome, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com); Minaminihon Broadcasting Co., Ltd (MBC). (http://www.mbc.co.jp/web-cam/).


Ambae (Vanuatu) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambae

Vanuatu

15.4°S, 167.83°E; summit elev. 1496 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New eruption begins in early September 2017, forcing evacuation of thousands

Ambae (formerly called Aoba) is a large basaltic shield volcano in the New Hebrides arc that has generated periodic phreatic and pyroclastic explosions originating in the summit crater lakes Manaro Lakua and Voui during the last 25 years; the central edifice with the active summit craters is also commonly referred to as Lombenben, Manaro Voui, or simply the Manaro volcano. From late November 2005 to mid-February 2006 explosions from Lake Voui resulted in the formation of a pyroclastic cone in the lake. By late November 2006 the side of the cone was breached, and its central crater filled with lake water (figure 30, BGVN 31:12). The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) reported intermittent increases in degassing activity between 2006 and August 2017, and minor ash emissions during June-July 2011 and August 2016. An explosive eruption from a new pyroclastic cone in the lake began in mid-September 2017 and lasted through mid-November. This report summarizes activity between 2010 and the new eruption in September 2017 and provides details for the eruption through December 2017, with information provided primarily by the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory of VMGD, the Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and satellite data from several sources.

Local ashfall around the pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui during June-July 2011 and August 2016 were the only eruptive events between February 2006 and September 2017, although intermittent SO2 emissions were noted throughout the period. Renewed explosive activity was reported beginning on 6 September 2017. Lava was first observed on 22 September emerging from a vent at the summit of the pyroclastic cone. Ash plumes and fountaining lava persisted for a few weeks as the pyroclastic cone increased in size. Activity became more intermittent by mid-October, but explosions still produced ash plumes; the highest was reported at 9.1 km altitude. Pulses of thermal activity suggesting lava flows continued through early November. The last ash emission of the year was reported on 23 November 2017, after which only steam and gas were noted.

Activity during 2010-August 2017. After several years of quiet since early 2006, substantial gas plumes were observed beginning in December 2009 and the Volcanic Alert Level was raised to 1 (on a 0-5 scale). Plumes of gas emissions were observed during 6-11 April 2010, and steam emissions were photographed during 3-4 June 2010 (figure 32).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Steam plumes rose from the crater of the pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui at Ambae on 4 June 2010. Courtesy of Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) (Vanuatu Volcanic Activity Bulletin No. 1-Ambae activity, Monday, July 11th, 2011).

Sulfur dioxide emissions were often elevated, and plumes were identified multiple times with satellite instruments during 2011 (figure 33). Local ashfall around the crater of the pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui was reported after explosions and seismicity on 4 June 2011; additional explosions occurred on 10 July 2011. Compared to January 2010, the cone was significantly eroded when photographed on 12 July 2011.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. SO2 plumes from Ambae and Ambrym volcanoes during 2011. SO2 plumes drifted W from both Ambae (N) and Ambrym (S) on 19 April 2011 (left). The SO2 plume from Ambae is small but also distinct from the much larger plume from Ambrym on 30 October 2011 (right). It is often difficult to distinguish between the two sources of the SO2. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

While no ash emissions or explosions were reported during 2012 from Ambae, SO2 plumes were recorded by satellite instruments every month except June and August (figure 34). Villagers in Ambanga reported a "phase of minor activity" beginning in December 2012. Increased SO2 plumes were recorded in satellite data during December as well (figure 35). Nearby Ambrym often produces large SO2 plumes which obscure SO2 emissions from Ambae.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. SO2 plumes were recorded every month of 2012 except June and August. Plumes emerging from Ambae are often difficult to distinguish from larger plumes released from Ambrym, located 100 km S. Data from the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite on both 9 January and 5 April (top images) showed SO2 emissions from three volcanos in the New Hebrides arc; from N to S, Gaua, Ambae, and Ambrym. Plumes from both Ambae and Ambrym drifted SE on 21 September (lower left), and smaller plumes drifted W from both Ambrym and Ambae on 3 November (lower right). Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Increased gas emissions from Ambae were reported by nearby residents in Ambanga during December 2012. More frequent SO2 emissions were also recorded by the OMI satellite instrument including on 1 (top left), 12 (top right), 17 (bottom left), and 21 (bottom right) December 2012. Courtesy of NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center.

Site observations during 30 January-2 February 2013 confirmed continuing degassing at Lake Voui, and remnants of the old pyroclastic cone still visible in the lake. The Aura satellite instrument detected SO2 emissions a number of times throughout 2013-2016 (figure 36), and VMGD noted continuing unrest multiple times during 2015.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Selected SO2 emissions during 2013-2016 at Ambae. SO2 emissions drifted W from both Ambae (N) and Ambrym (S) on 13 February 2013 (top left). A rare image of an SO2 plume from Ambae with no plume from Ambrym was recorded on 5 May 2014 (top right). SO2 emissions were also distinct from each volcano on 10 November 2015 (bottom left) and 28 December 2016 (bottom right). Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

VMGD reported that during 18-19 August 2016 a steam plume was accompanied by a small ash emission in the caldera area. The Vanuatu Volcanic Alert Level (VVAL) was raised from 1 to 2 on 21 August 2016 and remained there for just over a year. Changing conditions were first reported by VMGD on 30 August 2017.

Activity during September-December 2017. The Alert Level was raised to 3 on 6 September 2017, indicating that a minor eruption was occurring. A week later VMGD reminded residents of the 3 km danger zone around the lake and added a 1 km exclusion zone within that area (figure 37). Explosive activity began building a new pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui, and ash plumes generated local ashfall on the island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. "Safety Map" showing hazard zones in the summit area of Ambae, consisting of a Danger Zone A (red oval line) around the summit caldera and a 1-km-radius Exclusion Zone around Manaro Voui. Courtesy of VMGD (Vanuatu Volcano Alert Bulletin No 10-Ambae Activity, Friday September 15th 2017).

On 22 September 2017, lava was observed at the surface by VMGD staff, there was a MODVOLC thermal alert, and a volcanic ash advisory was issued by the Wellington VAAC. The VAAC report estimated the ash plume observed in satellite data to be at an altitude of 3 km drifting E. On 23 September the VMGD stated that activity had continued to increase, prompting them to raise the VVAL to 4, indicating that a moderate eruption was taking place. They warned that ejecta and gas would affect an area within 6.5 km of Lake Voui, and many communities were at risk from various types of volcanic activity (figure 38). A dense plume of dark ash was photographed on 23 September by airplane travelers going to Ambae (figure 39).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Volcanic hazard map for Ambae. On 23 September 2017, VMGD raised the alert level to 4 and warned that ejecta and gas would likely affect an area within 6.5 km of Lake Voui (pink zone). Villages located in the gray and orange areas of the map could see ashfall and other hazards such as lahars and pyroclastic flows. The lighter area outlined with a dashed border indicates where villages would be more susceptible to ashfall and acid rain based on the general wind direction. Courtesy of VMGD (Vanuatu Volcano Alert Bulletin No. 11 - Ambae Activity, Saturday, September 23rd, 2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Ash emission photographed on 23 September 2017 from an airplane going to Ambae. Courtesy of Batik Bong Shem, Facebook.

Eruptive activity increased over the next few days. Larger explosions generated ash plumes that caused local ashfall. A photo taken on 24 September showed incandescent ejections and an ash plume rising from the pyroclastic cone (figure 40). The Wellington VAAC reported intermittent emissions that day at 2.4 km altitude drifting N, and again on 26 September at 2.1 km altitude drifting W. The New Zealand Defense Force conducted an overflight on 25 September 2017 and witnessed incandescence at the summit and lava flowing into the lake (figures 41, 42, and 43).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. An eruption from the pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui at Ambae on 24 September 2017. Courtesy of Yumi Toktok Stret News, Facebook.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) aerial survey on 25 September 2017 showed large columns of gas, ash, and volcanic rocks emerging from Lake Voui on Ambae. Courtesy of NZDF.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Lava flows into Lake Voui at Ambae, causing steam plumes. Incandescence is visible at the cone's summit through the clouds. The photo was likely taken on 25 or 26 September 2017. Posted by Geoff Reid NZ on Facebook on 2 October 2017.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Incandescent lava from the crater of the Lake Voui cone was photographed at Ambae on 25 September 2017. Image courtesy of Reuters, reported by BBC.

A 27 September a news article from ABC.net stated that about 8,000 residents had been evacuated from the northern and southern parts of the island to eastern and western areas. An overflight by the New Zealand Defence Force showed ongoing activity. Multiple MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued nearly every day from 22 September through 7 October.

Photographs and thermal infrared images taken by VMGD during observation flights on 30 September and 1 October 2017 showed explosions of tephra, and lava flowing from small vents into the lake (figures 44-48). The number of vents on the cone varied from 2 to 4 during the observation flights.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Aerial view of the pyroclastic cone that formed in Lake Voui during September in the Ambae summit caldera. The active lava-producing vents are near the center of the island. The blue steaming zone is a lava flow. The white steaming to the right is lava entering the lake. Photo taken on 30 September 2017. Courtesy of VMGB, posted on Facebook 2 October 2017.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. The pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui at the summit of Ambae had active steam, ash, and gas emissions, in addition to lava flowing into the lake, on 1 October 2017. Courtesy of VMGD.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Aerial view of the cone that formed in Lake Voui during September 2017 in the summit caldera of Ambae. The Manaro Lakua lake can be seen in the background. The active vents are near the center of the island. The white steaming zone at the far end of the island was caused by lava flows entering the lake. Photo taken on 1 October 2017. Courtesy of VMGB, posted on Facebook 2 October 2017.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Infrared aerial view of the volcanic cone that has formed in Lake Voui during September 2017 near the summit of Ambae Island. The active lava producing vents are the hottest areas near the center of the island (inwhite). The white streak in the foreground is a lava flow. The red areas in the foreground are areas where lava recently entered the lake. The caldera rim at the summit of Ambae is visible in the background. Photo taken on 1 October 2017. Courtesy of VMGB, posted on Facebook, 2 October 2017.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Closeup view of a lava flow from the cone entering into Lake Voui at Ambae on 1 October 2017. Courtesy of VMGB, posted on Facebook 2 October 2017.

On 6 October 2017, the VMBG noted that there was no evidence of the eruption escalating; the Alert Level was lowered to 3 and residents and tourists were reminded to stay outside of the Red Zone, defined as a 3 km radius around the active cone. The Wellington VAAC reported ash emissions on 9 October visible in satellite imagery spreading N of the island as high as 3.7 km altitude. They reported low-level (2.4-4.6 km) ash plumes daily through 15 October. A short-lived eruption on 13 October produced an ash plume clearly visible in satellite imagery that rose to 9.1 km altitude.

Webcam observations and seismic analysis reported on 13 October by VMGD indicated ongoing minor explosive activity and ash emission from vents on the cone in Lake Voui over the previous several days (figure 49). Lava had apparently ceased flowing to the lake. The local population from Ambae and neighboring islands could still hear some of the explosions, see volcanic ash and gas plumes, and see incandescence at night. Multiple MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 15 and 16 October, and again during 19-23 October. Wellington VAAC reports during 22-23 October indicated intermittent low-level ash plumes at 2.4-3.7 km altitude moving E.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. An ash plume rises over Ambae island on 12 October 2017 in this photo taken from Santo - Pekoa Airport 65 km W on Espiritu Santo Island. Photo by Steve Clegg, courtesy of VMGD (posted on their Facebook page).

A new surge of activity created multiple MODVOLC thermal alerts between 27 October and 1 November 2017. The Wellington VAAC reported an ash plume on 29 October at 6.1 km altitude drifting SE. The activity ceased, and the plume dissipated by the end of the day. VMGD reported on 31 October that seismic activity was ongoing, and explosions could be seen in webcam photos; incandescence and explosions were also heard and seen from neighboring islands at night.

Webcam photos from 5 and 6 November showed that ash emissions and incandescent explosions continued (figures 50 and 51). The Wellington VAAC reported an ash emission rising to 4.3 km altitude and drifting W on 5 November. By the next day the altitude of the ash plume had dropped to 2.1 km. This was followed late on 6 November by an ash emission reported at 3.9 km altitude extending 25 km W and SW of the volcano, which continued through the next day. Another emission on 8 November drifted W at 3 km altitude for several hours before dissipating. Fourteen MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 5 November, and two more the next day. A final alert on 9 November was the last for 2017.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Webcam images of Ambae indicate that ash emissions and incandescent explosions were continuing on 5 November 2017. Image taken from the Saratamata webcam located 22 km NE on the NE tip of Ambae Island. Courtesy of VMGD, posted on Facebook 5 November 2017.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Steam and ash emissions were visible from the Saratamata webcam (22 km NE) in the early morning of 6 November 2017. Courtesy of VMGD, posted on Facebook 5 November 2017 (UTC).

VGO reported on 8 November 2017 that the eruption had been continuing, and photos taken during the first week of the month confirmed that the pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui continued to grow in height and size, with frequent explosions and ash plumes. The Wellington VAAC reported a ground observation of an ongoing minor eruption on 21 November that produced an ash plume that rose to 1.8 km altitude. By the following day, the plume appeared to be mostly steam. A new eruption the next day (23 November) produced a plume estimated at 3.7 km altitude moving W. An ash emission later that day was estimated at 3 km altitude drifting N based on satellite imagery. It had dissipated by the following day, and there were no further VAAC reports issued during 2017.

By 7 December 2017, activity had decreased significantly, and emissions consisted of only steam and gas plumes; VMGD lowered the Alert Level from 3 to 2, and reduced the restricted area to within 2 km of the active vent in Lake Voui, noting that the eruption had ceased. The MIROVA plot of Log Radiative Power at Ambae (Aoba) correlates well with visual and thermal observations of activity between 23 September and early November 2017 (figure 52). Significant quantities of SO2 were released at Ambae during October-December 2017 (figure 53). SO2 emissions continued into December after the ash emissions ceased.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. The MIROVA plot of Log Radiative Power at Ambae (Aoba) for the year ending on 29 December 2017 correlates well with visual and thermal observations of activity between 23 September and early November 2017. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Significant quantities of SO2 were released from Ambae during October-December 2017. Variable wind directions seem to create complex patterns of SO2 plumes. Emissions on 23 and 28 October (top), 8, 13, and 17 November (middle row and bottom left) all show plumes that appear to be mostly sourced from Ambae, but some component of source from Ambrym is also likely. By 31 December 2017 (bottom right) SO2 emissions at Ambae were still significant even though no ash emissions had been reported for over a month. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Geologic Background. Ambae, also known as Aoba, is a massive 2500 km3 basaltic shield that is the most voluminous volcano of the New Hebrides archipelago. A pronounced NE-SW-trending rift zone dotted with scoria cones gives the 16 x 38 km island an elongated form. A broad pyroclastic cone containing three crater lakes is located at the summit within the youngest of at least two nested calderas, the largest of which is 6 km in diameter. Post-caldera explosive eruptions formed the summit craters of Lake Voui (also spelled Vui) and Lake Manaro Ngoru about 360 years ago. A tuff cone was constructed within Lake Voui about 60 years later. The latest known flank eruption, about 300 years ago, destroyed the population of the Nduindui area near the western coast.

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department, Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd (MetService), PO Box 722, Wellington, New Zealand (URL: http://www.metservice.com/vaac/, http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/OTH/NZ/messages.html); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); New Zealand Defence Force (URL: http://www.nzdf.mil.nz/); BBC News (URL: http://www.bbc.com/news); ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/); Batik Bong Shem, Facebook (URL: https://www.facebook.com/batick.shem); Yumi Toktok Stret News, Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/ytsnews.today/); Geoff Reid NZ, Facebook (URL: https://www.facebook.com/GeoffReidNZ/).


Fernandina (Ecuador) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Fernandina

Ecuador

0.37°S, 91.55°W; summit elev. 1476 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Brief fissure eruption sends lava flow down the SW flank in early September 2017

Eruptions at Fernandina Island in the Galapagos often occur from vents located around the caldera rim along boundary faults and fissures, and occasionally from side vents on the flank. The last eruption in 2009 generated fountaining basaltic lava along several fissure vents. Lava flowed down the SW flank and entered the sea for a few weeks during April 2009. A new eruption began on 4 September 2017 after eight years of no surface activity, and lasted for about one week. Information about this new eruption was provided by Ecuador's Institudo Geofisica, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), the Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos (DPNG), the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and several sources of satellite data.

A brief fissure vent eruption began on 4 September 2017 at Fernandina, located at the SW rim of the caldera. Small amounts of ash were noted in the plume that rose 2.5 km, but most of the emission was steam and SO2. Vegetation fires were ignited on the SW flank, but lava did not reach the ocean. There was no sign of volcanic activity within the summit crater. A significant area with thermal anomalies was seen in infrared satellite data through 7 September.

Eruption of early September 2017. After eight years of little activity, Fernandina (La Cumbre) began a new eruptive phase on 4 September 2017, at approximately 1225 (Galápagos time) (figure 22). Inflation between March 2015 and September 2017 was 17 cm centered on the caldera; 5 cm of that inflation occurred in the last two months before the eruption (figure 23).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Fernandina began a new eruption on 4 September 2017. The initial plume was mostly steam, but contained significant SO2 and possibly minor ash. Photo by DPNG personnel, courtesy of IG-EPN (INFORME ESPECIAL VOLCÁN FERNANDINA N°1 – 2017, Lunes, 04 Septiembre 2017 16:49).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Interferogram image of Fernandina between 19 March 2015 and 4 September 2017 shows about 17 cm of inflation in the caldera. Each concentric band of colors within the caldera represents several centimeters of inflation. Created by Yu Zhou and Mike Stock, courtesy of IG-EPN (INFORME ESPECIAL DEL VOLCÁN FERNANDINA N°2 – 2017, Miércoles, 06 Septiembre 2017 17:16).

Seismic activity began with hybrid-type earthquakes (fractures with fluid movements) followed by Long Period (LP) earthquakes (fluid movements). The seismic network of the Geophysical Institute installed in the Galapagos began to detect activity at the volcano around 0955 on 4 September 2017. The beginning of the eruption was associated with a volcanic tremor that began at 1225. At 1428, an eruptive column was visible in satellite imagery, interpreted at an approximate height of 4,000 m above the crater, drifting WNW (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. This false-color satellite image of Fernandina on 4 September 2017 showed the eruption column drifting NW estimated at 4,000 m altitude. Source: http://goes.higp.hawaii.edu/cgi-bin/imageview?sitename=galapagos. Courtesy of IG-EPN (INFORME ESPECIAL VOLCÁN FERNANDINA N°1 – 2017, Lunes, 04 Septiembre 2017 16:49).

The Washington VAAC reported that satellite imagery indicated a lava eruption which produced a plume of steam and gas that rose to 2,400 m above sea level and extended about 60 km W of the summit. While initially no ash was reported in the plume, a few hours later a new VAAC report suggested that minor ash was possibly present, although it was most likely primarily SO2. Satellite data reported by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center showed SO2 emissions on 4-6 and 8 September (figure 25).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. SO2 emissions from Fernandina were identified with the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite and the OMPS instrument on Japan's Suomi satellite during 4-8 September 2017. Upper left: A small SO2 emission emerges very close in time to the first reported observation of the eruption on 4 September. Upper right: The low-resolution OMPS image clearly shows a large plume drifting W about 24 hours later. Lower left and right: SO2 is present NW of the Galapagos over the eastern Pacific on 6 and 8 September. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Thermal alerts indicative of fresh lava flows from the rim of the summit crater were first reported by MODVOLC on 4 September 2017 (UTC), and abundant through 7 September (figure 26). No thermal anomalies were recorded in MODVOLC data on 8 September. An additional group of alert pixels was recorded on 9 September, but it's not clear if they were caused by fresh lava flows or burning fires; a few more intermittent pixels were recorded through 20 September. The MIROVA system also captured a significant spike in heatflow at Fernandina during the same period (figure 27). Some of the anomalies measured by both systems were likely the result of the fires caused by the lava flows as well as the flows themselves.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Map showing the location of new lava flows at Fernandina during 4-7 September 2017 using MODVOLC thermal alerts. Fires may have caused some of the alert pixels. Courtesy of HIGP MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. MIROVA thermal anomalies show a spike in activity at Fernandina during the period of the September 2017 eruption in this graph of log radiative power for the year ending on 16 October 2017. The initial spike that was located more than 5 km from the summit confirms the lava flows were located on the crater rim and flank and not in the summit crater. Some anomalies may also be due to the fires caused by the lava flows. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Incandescence was first observed during the night of 4 September (figure 28). Lava flows apparently originated from a circumferential fissure near the fissure of the 2005 eruption on the SSW rim of the caldera. The lava flowed down the S and SW flanks but did not reach the sea. Active lava flows were observed during the night of 5 September (figure 29). The intensity of the eruption decreased significantly after about 48 hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Incandescence at Fernandina on 4 September 2017. Photo by Alex Medina, courtesy of IG-EPN (INFORME ESPECIAL DEL VOLCÁN FERNANDINA N°2 – 2017, Miércoles, 06 Septiembre 2017 17:16).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. A lava flow is visible on the SW flank of Fernandina on 5 September 2017. Photo by Alex Medina, courtesy of IG-EPN (INFORME ESPECIAL DEL VOLCÁN FERNANDINA N°2 – 2017, Miércoles, 06 Septiembre 2017 17:16).

A technical team from the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park (DPNG) made an aerial inspection using the seaplane Sea Wolf on 7 September 2017. They observed a radial fissure in the same area where the 2005 eruption occurred, and several lava flows. No recent volcanic activity or any landslides were seen inside the caldera. The lava flows had ceased movement, but there were isolated fires burning patches of vegetation surrounded by older lava flows (figures 30 and 31). The lava had traveled from the summit crater at about 1,200 m down to 500 m elevation. While lava was not observed flowing into the sea, coastal monitoring by the park rangers showed water vapor on the SW coast, so it was possible that lava had reached the ocean through subsurface lava tubes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Lava flows burn vegetation on Fernandina during the eruption of September 2017. Observers on a 7 September 2017 flyover by DPNG reported that the active flows had ceased, but vegetation was burning at four different sites. Courtesy of Directorate of the Galapagos National Park (DPNG) (11/09/2017– Sobrevuelo al volcán La Cumbre, en Galápagos).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Vegetation on Fernandina burns on 7 September 2017 after lava flows erupted beginning on 4 September 2017. There was no evidence of flowing lava during the overflight. Courtesy of the Galapagos Conservancy.

Geologic Background. Fernandina, the most active of Galápagos volcanoes and the one closest to the Galápagos mantle plume, is a basaltic shield volcano with a deep 5 x 6.5 km summit caldera. The volcano displays the classic "overturned soup bowl" profile of Galápagos shield volcanoes. Its caldera is elongated in a NW-SE direction and formed during several episodes of collapse. Circumferential fissures surround the caldera and were instrumental in growth of the volcano. Reporting has been poor in this uninhabited western end of the archipelago, and even a 1981 eruption was not witnessed at the time. In 1968 the caldera floor dropped 350 m following a major explosive eruption. Subsequent eruptions, mostly from vents located on or near the caldera boundary faults, have produced lava flows inside the caldera as well as those in 1995 that reached the coast from a SW-flank vent. Collapse of a nearly 1 km3 section of the east caldera wall during an eruption in 1988 produced a debris-avalanche deposit that covered much of the caldera floor and absorbed the caldera lake.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec ); Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos (DPNG), Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador (URL: http://www.galapagos.gob.ec/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/index.html ); Galapagos Conservancy, (URL:https://www.galapagos.org).


Fuego (Guatemala) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Fuego

Guatemala

14.473°N, 90.88°W; summit elev. 3763 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seven eruptive episodes during July-December 2017

Guatemala's Volcán de Fuego was continuously active throughout 2017, and has been erupting vigorously since 2002; historical observations of eruptions date back to 1531. These eruptions have resulted in major ashfalls, pyroclastic flows, lava flows, and damaging lahars. Reports of activity are provided by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH), and aviation alerts of ash plumes are issued by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). Satellite data from NASA, NOAA, and other sources provide valuable information about heat flow and gas emissions.

Activity remained high at Fuego throughout July-December 2017. Background levels of activity included frequent explosions (4-6 per hour) with incandescent material rising 150 m above the summit and sending blocks 200 m down the flanks. Block avalanches commonly traveled down the major ravines for hundreds of meters. Ash plumes regularly rose 500-1,000 m above the summit (4.3-4.8 km altitude); ashfall affected communities SW of the summit within 15 km every week. During the multiple short-lived (48-hour or less) eruptive episodes, the hourly explosion rates increased significantly (6-12 per hour), and incandescent material often rose 300 m above the summit; one or more lava flows would also travel more than a kilometer down major ravines. Higher ash plumes (often rising to 5-6 km altitude) during the eruptive episodes sent ash plumes drifting hundreds of kilometers in various directions causing ashfall in cities tens of kilometers away in various directions. Pyroclastic flows often accompanied the eruptive episodes. Seven episodes were reported by INSIVUMEH during July-December 2017 (table 17); they are clearly discernible as periods of higher heat flow in the MIROVA thermal anomaly data (figure 73) as well.

Table 17. Eruptive episodes at Fuego during July-December 2017. Information provided primarily by INSIVUMEH. Some ash plume information is from the Washington VAAC.

Dates Episode Ash plume height Ash plume drift Ashfall areas Lava flow distances Lava flow drainages Pyroclastic flows
11-12 Jul 2017 6 5.1 km 35 km W 10-20 km WSW 2.3 km, 1.7 km Las Lajas, Santa Teresa --
07-08 Aug 2017 7 -- 20 km W 10-20 km W 1.5 km, 700 m Ceniza, Santa Teresa -- 
19-21 Aug 2017 8 6.1 km 75 km W, SW, WNW 20 km WSW 1.4 km, 1.2 km Ceniza, Santa Teresa (Seca) Santa Teresa
12-13 Sep 2017 9 4.6 km 65 km N 10-20 km WSW 1.3 km Seca (Santa Teresa) Seca (Santa Teresa)
27-28 Sep 2017 10 4.7 km 25 km W More than 30 km N, E 800 m, 500 m Seca, Las Lajas --
05-07 Nov 2017 11 4.8 km 25 km W, SW 8-12 km SW 1.2 km, 800 m Seca, Ceniza --
10-11 Dec 2017 12 5.0 km 20 km S, SW 20 km S, SW 1.5 km Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza --
Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. MIROVA thermal anomaly data for Fuego for 2017 shows the continuing activity that included intermittent pulses of high-heat-flow from twelve defined eruptive episodes shown by red arrows. Courtesy of MIROVA. Eruptive episodes defined by INSIVUMEH.

Activity during July 2017. Activity increased at Fuego during July 2017, compared with the previous month. INSIVUMEH reported that explosions per hour increased during 6-7 July from 4-7 to 7-10; a lava flow also traveled 1.5 km down Las Lajas ravine. Incandescent material was ejected 100-200 m above the crater rim and caused avalanches of material that traveled down the Ceniza (SSW), Taniluyá (SW), Santa Teresa (SW), and Trinidad (S) drainages (figure 74). Ash plumes during 7-9 July caused ashfall in Santa Sofía (12 km SW), Morelia (9 km SW), Panimaché I and II (8 km SW), El Porvenir (8 km ENE), Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW), and possibly San Pedro Yepocapa (8 km N).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Incandescent material was ejected over a hundred meters above the summit of Fuego and blocks of material traveled hundreds of meters down the flank on 9 July 2017. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH and OVFGO (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 08 al 14de julio 2017).

The Washington VAAC reported dense ash emissions seen in satellite data on 10 July extending WNW 60 km from the summit at 4.6 km altitude. They noted that ashfall was reported 10 km SW from the summit the following morning. The 6th eruptive episode of the year occurred on 11-12 July 2017. Explosions generated ash plumes that rose as high as 1.3 km above the crater and drifted 35 km W, and shock waves rattled nearby structures. Ash fell in areas to the SW. Two lava flows were fed by lava fountains 150-250 m high; one flow traveled 2.3 km down the Las Lajas drainage and another traveled 1.7 km down the Santa Teresa (SW) drainage. The increased activity levels lasted for about 31 hours, with tens of explosions. Weak-to-moderate explosions continued afterwards, generating ash plumes that rose 850 m and drifted 6 km W.

Multiple explosions continued generating ash plumes and block avalanches during 13-14 July. On 16 July, a 30-m-wide, 2-m-deep, hot lahar descended tributaries of the Pantaleón (W) drainage, carrying blocks more than 2 m in diameter, branches, and tree trunks. The lahars again overtook the road between communities on the SW flank, isolating the village of Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW) and the Palo Verde estate. The Washington VAAC estimated that the ash plumes released early on 16 July rose to 5.2 km altitude, and drifted SE from the summit. By afternoon they had risen to 5.8 km and were drifting SW, extending about 75 km. Explosions during 17-18 July produced dense ash plumes that drifted 15 km W and NW causing ashfall in Panimache, Morelia, and Santa Sofía. Satellite imagery on 19 July showed an ash plume extending 65 km WNW of the summit in a narrow band at 4.3 km altitude. Similar plumes were reported daily between 19-23 July at 4.3-4.9 km altitude drifting generally W up to about 50 km before dissipating (figure 75).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Ash emissions were reported almost daily from Fuego during July 2017. A small pulse of ash on 20 July was captured on the Panimaché I webcam (10 km SW) in this view looking NE in the early morning. Courtesy of OVFGO-INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 15 al 21 de julio 2017).

Activity during August 2017. MODVOLC thermal alerts that were issued on 28 and 30 July confirmed the continuing incandescent summit activity which produced block avalanches down the major drainages. Multiple daily alerts were also issued during 15 days of August. Coordinadora Nacional Para la Reduccion de Desastres (CONRED) reported increased activity on 4 August that included 300-m-high ejections of incandescent material and a lava flow that traveled 600 m down the Ceniza ravine. During 7-8 August two lava fountains rose 150 m high, prompting INSIVUMEH to announce the seventh effusive episode at Fuego in 2017. The fountains fed lava flows, 1.5 km and 700 m long, in the Ceniza and the Santa Teresa ravines (figure 76). Explosions (occurring at a rate of 6-8 per hour) produced ash plumes that drifted 20 km W, causing ashfall in Panimache, Morelia, Santa Sofía, El Porvenir, and Yepocapa. The Washington VAAC also noted increasing ash emissions on 7 August. Weather clouds prevented observations from satellite images on 7 and 8 August, but the VAAC reported a "" strong hotspot in infrared imagery on 8 August. Although the lava flow in the Ceniza drainage remained active, explosive activity decreased to an average of three explosions per hour the following week, with ash emissions rising to 4.4-4.6 km and drifting 10 or more km W and SW, bringing ashfall to communities on the W and SW flank.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. A lava flow at Fuego during eruptive episode 7 descends the SE flank on 7 August 2017. Courtesy of OVFGO-INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo:, Volcán Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 5 al 11 de agosto 2017).

Activity intensified again during 19-20 August, when constant explosions generated ash plumes that rose 2.3 km above the crater and drifted more than 50 km W and SW. INSIVUMEH reported that the eighth effusive episode at Fuego in 2017 began on 20 August and lasted for about 48 hours. Two lava fountains, each 300 m high, fed lava flows that traveled 1.4 km SSW down the Ceniza ravine and 1.2 km W down the Seca (Santa Teresa) ravine (figure 77). Incandescent block avalanches occurred throughout the crater. Pyroclastic flows (figure 78) were concentrated in the Santa Teresa ravine, possibly filling the drainage with deposits (similar to activity from 5 May) and increasing the chances for lahars. A bright hotspot was visible in satellite imagery from 19-21 August. Seismicity remained elevated through 21 August. During 21 August, the Washington VAAC reported the ash plume near 5.5 km altitude extending 75 km WNW. A remnant cloud of ash was detected in satellite imagery over 200 km WNW of the summit in extreme SE Mexico late on 21 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Incandescent explosions and block avalanches descend the SE flank of Fuego during eruptive episode 8, 19-21 August 2017 in this view from the Panimaché I webcam. Courtesy of OVGFO-INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán de Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 19 al 25 de agosto 2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. A pyroclastic flow descends the Santa Teresa ravine at Fuego during eruptive episode 8 on 21 August 2017 in this view from the Panimaché I webcam. Courtesy of OVGFO-INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán de Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 19 al 25 de agosto 2017).

INSIVUMEH reported that on 25 August multiple lahars descended the Pantaleón, Cenizas, El Jute, and Las Lajas drainages on Fuego's W, SSW, and SE flanks. The lahar in the Pantaleón river (fed by the Santa Teresa and El Mineral rivers) was 35 m wide, 2.5-3 m deep, and carried trees and blocks more than 2-3 m in diameter. The Cenizas lahar was about 25 m wide, 3 m deep, and carried blocks up to 2 m in diameter. The lahars in El Jute and Las Lajas drainages were 20 m wide, 1.5 m deep, and carried tree debris and blocks up to 2 m in diameter.

Explosions during 26-29 August generated ash plumes that rose as high as 950 m above the crater and drifted 7-12 km SW, W, and NW. The Washington VAAC reported near continuous emissions of ash on 28 August moving WSW and extending about 100 km at 4.6 km altitude, rising to 5.8 km altitude the following day. Incandescent material was ejected 100-200 m above the crater rim and caused avalanches of material around the crater area. Explosions were audible within a 20-km radius, and shock waves vibrated local structures. Ash fell in areas downwind including Panimache I and II, Morelia, Finca Palo verde, Sangre de Cristo, and El Porvenir. On 29 August, lahars 10 m wide and 1.5 m deep again descended the Santa Teresa and El Mineral drainages, carrying tree debris and blocks up to 2 m in diameter.

Activity during September 2017. Lahars were reported in the Santa Teresa and El Mineral drainages intermittently during September. Ash emissions continued to cause ashfall in communities within 10 km W and SW throughout the month. Continuous ejection of incandescent blocks rose 200-300 m above the crater and sent material 300 m down the flanks. The Washington VAAC reported a continuous plume of ash detected in satellite imagery and in the webcam extending about 95 km WSW on 8 September at 4.6 km altitude. INISVUMEH reported that the increase in activity during 8 September fed a lava flow that traveled 800 m down Barranca Seca.

The ninth eruptive episode of 2017 began late on 12 September and lasted about 35 hours (figure 79). Pyroclastic flows descended the Seca (Santa Teresa) ravine on the W flank, along with a lava flow that traveled 1.3 km during the episode. Ashfall was reported in Morelia, Palo Verde Estate, Sangre de Cristo, El Porvenir, Santa Sofía, and Panimaché I and II. The Washington VAAC reported that an ash plume extended about 65 km N from the summit on 13 September at 4.6 km altitude. After several days of weather clouds obscuring the satellite images, they reported a plume drifting W on 17 September extending 95 km from the summit. A hotspot intermittently appeared during 13-17 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Incandescent lava rises 200-300 m above the summit of Fuego, and a lava flow traveled down the Santa Theresa ravine on the W flank during eruptive episode 9 on 12 September 2017. View from Panimaché I webcam. Courtesy of OVFGO-INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán de Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 09 al 15 de septiembre 2017.

The Washington VAAC reported weak puffs of ash drifting N and quickly dissipating on 25 September, and another ash plume extending 15 km W on 28 September at 4.6 km. Hotspots were also observed both days in satellite images. INSIVUMEH reported eruptive episode 10 during 27-28 September, lasting about 40 hours. The ash plume generated during the episode drifted in multiple directions simultaneously (figure 80) and resulted in ashfall more than 30 km from the crater, primarily N and NE, in La Soledad (7 km N), Pastores (20 km NNE), San Miguel Dueñas (10 km NE) and Antigua Guatemala (20 km NE). The incandescent material reached 300 meters above the crater and fed two lava flows, the first went 300 m down the Seca Canyon, and the second traveled 500 m down Las Lajas Canyon.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. The ash plumes drift in multiple directions (W, NW, SW and S) from the summit of Fuego on 28 September 2017 during eruptive episode 10. Image taken in San Pedro Yepocapa, 8 km NW. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán de Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 23 al 29 de septiembre 2017).

Seven lahars were recorded during September in the main ravines of Fuego, on days 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 27, and 29, as a result of the unusually large amount of rainfall during the month (1,059 mm) (figure 81). The larger ones at the beginning of the month contained blocks up to 3 m in diameter, and many were warm enough to generate steam with strong odors of SO2. Several roads were damaged.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. High rainfall (1,059 mm) during September 2017 generated large lahars in the Seca, Mineral, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lahas, El Jute, and Honda ravines at Fuego, shown in purple. Many dirt roads (shown in red) were damaged. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (VOLCÁN DE FUEGO, INFORME MENSUAL, Septiembre 2017).

Activity during October 2017. Overall activity was quieter during October 2017. Background levels of activity included incandescent material rising up to 250 m above the summit and falling a similar distance down the flanks, and ash plumes rising to 4.4-5.0 km altitude and drifting more than 25 km W, NW, and E. Eight to twelve explosions per hour were not uncommon, although 4-6 per hour were more typical. A few of the block avalanches traveled 2 km down the flanks. The communities that experienced persistent ashfall were all located 10-20 km SW, and included Morelia, Palo Verde Farm, Sangre de Cristo, El Porvenir, Santa Sofía, and Panimaché I and II. Due to the wind conditions and increased activity during the first week of October, ashfall was also reported farther away in Guatemala City (40 km NE), Antigua Guatemala, Villa Nueva (30 km ENE) and San Miguel Petapa (35 km ENE). INSIVUMEH reported three increases in explosive activity during the month on 2, 3, and 5 October, but they did not develop into eruptive episodes.

Four lahars were reported on 1, 2, and 4 October in the Seca and Mineral drainages. They carried blocks of volcanic rocks and debris as large as 3 m in diameter and were 6-12 m wide and 1-2 m deep. The Washington VAAC reported a series of explosions on 4 October, after which ash emissions were seen in multispectral imagery at 5.2 km altitude drifting SW that reached as far as 75 km. They reported occasional puffs of ash on 15 October extending up to 95 km W of the summit. By 17 October, imagery showed continuous emissions with an ash plume extending 95 km SSW from the summit before dissipating. A possible ash plume was reported by the Washington VAAC on 31 October extending 45 km W from the summit at 4.3 km altitude.

Activity during November 2017. There were numerous periods of intermittent ash emissions during November. Continuous emissions often drifted 65-100 km or more SW or W at altitudes around 4.6-5.2 km during periods of activity. INSIVUMEH reported that during 2-3 November tremor at Fuego increased. Explosions during the first week averaged 5-8 per hour and ash plumes rose as high as 1.3 km above the crater. Incandescent material was ejected 300 m above the crater, causing avalanches that were confined to the crater. The 11th eruptive episode in 2017 began on 5 November and lasted for two days. Lava flowed 1-1.2 km W down the Seca drainage and 800 m SSW down the Ceniza drainage. Avalanches of material from the ends of the lava flows descended the flanks and reached vegetated areas.

Ashfall was reported in areas downwind in the communities 8-12 km SW including Morelia, Santa Sofia, Palo Verde Farm, and Panimaché I and II throughout the month. Shockwaves from explosions often rattled windows and roofs around the volcano. Avalanche blocks were reported in the Cenizas, Trinidad, Taniluyá and Seca canyons. Multiple VAAC reports were issued on 25 days of November, and multiple daily MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 20 days of the month. On 10 November the emissions extended about 275 km WSW from the summit. A lahar during the third week descended the Seca and el Mineral drainages.

Activity during December 2017. Explosions averaged 4-8 per hour during most of December sending incandescent material 200-250 m above the crater. INSIVUMEH reported that the 12th eruptive episode at Fuego in 2017 began on 10 December and, based on seismicity, lasted for about 36 hours. Ash plumes from moderate-to-strong explosions rose as high as 1.2 km above the crater rim and drifted 20 km S and SW. Lava flowed as far as 1.5 km W down the Seca (Santa Teresa), SW down the Taniluyá, and SSW down the Ceniza ravines. Ash fell many times in the communities of La Rochela, San Andrés Osuna, Morelia, and Panimaché I and II. On 12 December there was an average of 10 explosions per hour, generating avalanches in the Ceniza and Taniluyá drainages and ashfall in nearby areas. Ashfall was also reported in San Miguel Dueñas, Alotenango, and Ciudad Vieja (13.5 km NE) on 14 December.

Multiple MODVOLC thermal alerts appeared on 20 days during December, and the Washington VAAC issued 91 reports of continuous or intermittent ash plume activity. During eruptive episode 12 on 11 December, they reported an intense hot spot seen at the crater in satellite imagery despite meteoric cloud cover. For most of the second half of December, either continuous or intermittent ash emissions drifted 100-150 km WNW from the summit before dissipating. The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission on 20 December drifting WNW at 5.8 km altitude that extended over 300 km from the summit. A remnant of the plume was observed almost 450 km away late on 20 December before dissipating. Plumes were repeatedly observed over 200 km from the summit during 20-25 December.

Geologic Background. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3763-m-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the north, Acatenango. Construction of Meseta dates back to about 230,000 years and continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Collapse of Meseta may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km onto the Pacific coastal plain. Growth of the modern Fuego volcano followed, continuing the southward migration of volcanism that began at Acatenango. In contrast to the mostly andesitic Acatenango, eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.

Information Contacts: Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), Av. Hincapié 21-72, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://conred.gob.gt/www/index.php ); Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/ ); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).


Stromboli (Italy) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

38.789°N, 15.213°E; summit elev. 924 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Moderate increase in thermal energy and explosion rate, April-August 2017

Confirmed historical eruptions at Italy's Stromboli volcano go back 2,000 years as this island volcano in the Tyrrhenian Sea has been a natural beacon for eons with its near-constant fountains of lava. Eruptive activity at the summit consistently occurs from multiple vents at both a north crater area (N Area) and a southern crater group (S or CS Area) on the Terrazza Craterica at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a large scarp that runs from the summit down the NW side of the island (figures 102 and 103). Thermal and visual cameras placed on the nearby Pizzo Sopra La Fossa monitor activity at the Terrazza Craterica. Eruptive activity continued at low to moderate levels during 2015 and 2016, with intermittent periods of frequent explosions from both crater areas that sent ash, lapilli, and bombs across the Terrazza Craterica and onto the head of the Sciara del Fuoco (BGVN 42:07).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. A view of Stromboli looking SW with the Sciara del Fuoco on the NW flank on the right. Image taken during 10-12 June 2017. Copyrighted photo by Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. A view to the NW of the Terrazza Craterica from the summit of Stromboli shows the CS Area (left) and N Area (right) vents during 10-12 June 2017. Copyrighted photo by Martin Rietze, used with permission.

This report covers activity from January-October 2017. Activity similar to 2016 continued through March 2017 when an increase began in explosion rates. The increase peaked during June and then declined through August, returning to background levels in September (figures 104). Thermal energy increased beginning in early May and lasted through mid-August (figure 105). Multiple MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued for Stromboli between 4 May and 25 August 2017. Weekly reports of activity were provided by the Instituto Nazionale de Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione de Catania, which monitors the gas geochemistry, deformation, and seismology, as well as the surficial activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. Increased rates of explosive activity at Stromboli were recorded between early April and late August 2017, peaking during mid-June. Rates declined to background levels by early September. The green line represents the number of daily explosions from the S Area, the red line is the number of daily explosions from the N Area, and the blue line is the cumulative of the two areas. Graph includes activity from 28 March-30 October 2017. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 44/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 31/10/2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. After a lengthy period of low to intermittent thermal activity during 2015 and 2016, a distinct increase in thermal energy was recorded in satellite thermal imagery and is shown in the MIROVA system data for the year ending on 25 August 2017. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during January 2017 consisted of low to moderate intensity explosions from the southern crater area (S Area), and low intensity explosions at the northern crater area (N Area). Two vents in the S Area generated explosive activity. Modest explosions with ash and lapilli occurred regularly from the southernmost vent, and rare explosions were observed from the northernmost vent (figure 106). At the northern crater area (N Area) the southern vent was active, generating ash and lapilli that was ejected a few tens of meters from the vent. There were no explosions from the northern vent in the N Area.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Typical activity at Stromboli's Terrazza Craterica during January 2017 photographed from visible cameras on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa. Left: Explosions at the S Area on 23 January 2017 included moderate activity at the southern vent (yellow arrow) and low activity at the northern vent (white arrow). Right: The southern vent (green arrow) of the N Area showed moderate explosive activity on 17 January 2017. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 04/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 24/01/2017).

There were no notable changes in activity until the second week of February 2017 when explosive activity returned to the northern vent of the N Area. During the third week of February, a gradual increase in the rate and intensity of the explosions at both areas was observed which lasted throughout the rest of the month (figure 107). Coarse pyroclastic material was ejected onto the Terrazza Craterica and occasionally onto the Sciara del Fuoco. The stronger explosions generated modest plumes of dilute ash that quickly dissipated.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. Explosive activity at Stromboli during the third week of February 2017: A) The colored arrows indicate the active vents in the S and N Areas as seen by the visible camera of the Pizzo. B) Explosion at the northern vent (blue arrow) of the N area (visible camera). C) Explosion at the southern vent (yellow arrow) of the S area (visible camera). D-F) explosions from the N and S Areas taken by the 400 level Thermal camera. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 08/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 21/02/2017).

During the first week of March 2017, the most active vents were the southernmost vent of the S Area and the northernmost vent of the N Area. The strongest explosions from the northern vent of the N Area produced dilute ash emissions and pyroclastic ejecta that landed on the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco. By the third week of March, and through the end of the month, most of the activity had shifted to the vents in the N Area and diminished in the S Area. On 28 March, Etna Observatory personnel restored operations at both the infrared and visible cameras on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa which allowed for more detailed observations of the activity at the summit (figure 108).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. The Terrazza Craterica at Stromboli seen from the thermal camera on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa on 31 March 2017, showing active vents in the two crater areas (AREA N, AREA CS). The abbreviations and arrows indicate the names and locations of the active vents. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 14/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del, vulcano Stromboli del 04/04/2017).

Throughout April 2017, the N1 vent produced low (less than 80 m high) to medium (80-150 m) intensity explosions containing ash, lapilli, and bombs. The N2 vent showed sporadic low intensity explosive activity with occasional ash emissions until 20 April when more coarse (lapilli and bombs) material was ejected. Vent C showed continuous degassing throughout the month, and low intensity explosions began there during the third week of April, causing intense spattering on 29 April. The S1 vent showed sporadic and weak explosive activity of low intensity with the ejection of coarse material until the third week when activity ceased. Vent S2 showed explosive activity of medium-low intensity (less than 120 m high) of coarse material sometimes mixed with ash. Explosion rates were around 2-10 events per hour during the first half of the month, rising to 10-15 per hour for the second half of April.

In the N Area, the N1 and N2 vents continued with a similar level of activity throughout May 2017 (figure 109). Explosions of low to medium intensity sent coarse ejecta of lapilli and bombs up to 150 m high at N1 and 120 m high at N2. The rate of explosions in the N Area ranged from 4-12 per hour.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. The Terrazza Craterica at Stromboli seen from the thermal camera located on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa on 18 May 2017, showing active vents in the two crater areas (AREA N, AREA CS). The abbreviations and arrows indicate the names and locations of the active vents. The vents in the N Area exhibited similar levels of activity throughout the month. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 21/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 23/05/2017).

In the S Area, activity was more variable during May, and the rate of explosions ranged from 2-10 per hour. Vent C also continued with intense degassing and low-intensity explosions and spattering. On 13 May, two emission points were observed at vent C, one a few meters S of the other. Vent S1 showed no activity until late in the second week of May when low to moderate intensity explosions rose up to 150 m with coarse ejecta. During 14-15 May, a second vent opened a few meters north of S1, and simultaneous explosions from both S1 vents sent jets of gas and incandescent material into the air. Activity decreased to low intensity explosions (less than 80 m high) with ejecta during the third week, but then increased significantly during the last week of the month. Ejecta reached 200 m high from the S1 vents (figure 110). The southern S1 vent built a surrounding hornito and produced high and narrow jets of incandescent material, while the northern emission point produced more modest jets of gas and material. Vent S2 was quiet for most of May, producing only low-intensity explosions of coarse material sometimes mixed with ash for a few days near the beginning of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. The Terrazza Craterica at Stromboli seen from the thermal camera on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa on 29 May 2017, showing active vents in the two crater areas (AREA N, AREA CS). The abbreviations and arrows indicate the names and locations of the active vents. The S1 vent in the CS Area produced high intensity jets of incandescent material that rose 200 m during the last week of the month. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 22/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 30/05/2017).

An increase in activity during June 2017 was apparent at both the N and S Areas (figure 111). Video taken by drone and from the summit during 10-12 June shows periodic explosions with ash, lapilli, and bombs ejected around the Terrazza Craterica (See Information Contacts for link). Vent N1 was characterized by low to medium-high intensity explosive activity that ejected lapilli and bombs to 200 m and was sometimes accompanied by ash that drifted S over the island. N2 also showed variable activity which ranged from low to high intensity (ejecta rising over 200 m high) during the first week, and low to medium-high (ejecta rose to 150 m) for the rest of the month (figure 112). Numerous bombs and lapilli were deposited both inside and outside the crater rim. Intense spattering was reported at N2 on 11, 12, 18, 19, and 26 June. The explosion rate in the N Area was 9-18 per hour.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. Thermal activity increased during June 2017 at Stromboli. Simultaneous explosions from both the S (left) and N (right) Areas during 10-12 June 2017 were photographed from the summit. Copyrighted photo by Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. Increased thermal activity was apparent in the N Area of the Terrazza Craterica at Stromboli as seen from the thermal camera located on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa on 5 June 2017. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 23/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 06/06/2017).

In the CS Area, sporadic low-intensity explosions (less than 80 m high) characterized vent C, with modest spattering reported on 11, 12, 13, 26, 30 June 2017. Activity at S1 continued from two vents simultaneously with low to medium intensity explosive activity (figure 113 and 114). The vent at S2 reactivated briefly on 3 June after about a month of quiet with weak spattering activity but was not active again during the month. The CS Area was characterized by an explosion frequency of 1-10 per hour.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 113. Explosions of incandescent ejecta from the CS Area at Stromboli during 10-12 June 2017. Copyrighted photo by Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 114. Increased activity at the CS Area of Stromboli on 26 June 2017 was recorded by the thermal camera located on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa. Activity at S1 continued from two vents simultaneously with low to medium intensity explosive activity for most of the month. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 26/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 27/06/2017).

During July 2017, thermal activity at the vents remained moderate to high; explosions at the N1 vent sent lapilli and bombs, sometimes mixed with ash, to 200 m above the vent. At vent N2, lapilli and bombs were ejected outside the crater rim, sometimes rolling down the Sciara del Fuoco to the ocean. The hourly frequency of explosions ranged from 5-18. At S1, both vents exploded simultaneously with lapilli, bombs and occasional ash rising to 150 m numerous times.

Beginning in the afternoon of 26 July, an explosive sequence at the CS Area lasting about 90 seconds was recorded with the thermal and visible image cameras on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa (figure 115). It began with explosions from vents C and S1, followed by a second explosion at S2. More explosions from C and S1 sent debris to the SE and were followed by fountaining to about 50 m from the vents for about a minute. INGV personnel witnessed 10-cm-diameter bombs on the SW side of the Pizzo at about 850 m elevation during a 30 July site visit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 115. The explosive sequence of 26 July 2017 at Stromboli was recorded by the thermal and visible cameras located on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa. Details of the 90-second-long event are described in the text. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 31/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 01/08/2017).

A return to background activity during August consisted of explosions of varying intensity from low (less than 80 m) to medium-low (ejecta sometimes reached 120 m in height) at both the N and CS Area vents. Explosion frequency ranged from 2-11 per hour, decreasing significantly by the end of the month. Activity continued to diminish during September. Periodic spattering from vent C occurred. Only one vent was active in the CS Area during the month. A brief increase in intensity at vent N1 during 8-9 September sent ejecta over 150 m high. By the end of September, few explosions reached over 80 m in height. A brief episode of intense spattering at vent C on 24 September sent bombs and lapilli to 40 m above the vent. Explosion frequency averaged only 2-6 per hour by the end of September.

Continuous spattering, occasionally intense, from vent C continued during October. The vents in the N Area produced low to moderate intensity explosions, and one vent in the CS Area produced low intensity explosions. A strong explosive sequence in the CS Area lasted for about five minutes on 23 October 2017 (figure 116). The first explosion of the sequence came from vent C and lasted 30 seconds. It destroyed the hornito formed around the vent. About a minute later, two explosions occurred at the S1 vent, reaching about 120 m in height and dispersing to the SE. Another explosion at vent C about 3 minutes later sent ejecta 100 m high. The event ended with a series of small ash emissions that rose a few tens of meters. Low intensity activity continued from both areas through the end of October, with low explosion rates of around 2-6 per hour.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 116. An explosive sequence from the CS Area at Stromboli on 23 October 2017 lasted about five minutes. Ejecta from vents C and S1 rose 100-150 m above the vents and dispersed SE. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 43/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 24/10/2017).

Geologic Background. Spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions at this volcano have long attracted visitors to the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean." Stromboli, the NE-most of the Aeolian Islands, has lent its name to the frequent mild explosive activity that has characterized its eruptions throughout much of historical time. The small island is the emergent summit of a volcano that grew in two main eruptive cycles, the last of which formed the western portion of the island. The Neostromboli eruptive period from about 13,000 to 5000 years ago was followed by formation of the modern edifice. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a prominent horseshoe-shaped scarp formed about 5000 years ago as a result of the most recent of a series of slope failures that extend to below sea level. The modern volcano has been constructed within this scarp, which funnels pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows to the NW. Essentially continuous mild strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded for more than a millennium.

Information Contacts: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy, (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/en/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Martin Rietze, Taubenstr. 1, D-82223 Eichenau, Germany (URL: https://mrietze.com/, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5LzAA_nyNWEUfpcUFOCpJw/videos, http://mrietze.com/web16/Stromb_Vesuv17.htm).


Tungurahua (Ecuador) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Tungurahua

Ecuador

1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash emissions, explosions, and pyroclastic flows 26 February-16 March 2016; no further activity through 2017

Episodic eruptive activity at Ecuador's Tungurahua has persisted since November 2011. Periods of activity over several weeks that included ash plumes, Strombolian activity, pyroclastic flows, and lava flows were often followed by quiescence for a similar time span. This type of activity continued throughout 2015 (BGVN 42:08, 42:12); Strombolian activity, significant ash emissions, and SO2 plumes in mid-November 2015 marked the last significant activity for that year. The next episode began in late February 2016 and is discussed below with information provided by the Observatorio del Volcán Tungurahua (OVT) of the Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN) of Ecuador, aviation alerts from the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and other sources of satellite data.

The latest eruptive episode at Tungurahua lasted from 26 February-16 March 2016. Multiple explosions with ash plumes that rose 3-8 km were frequent. Incandescent blocks were ejected up to 1,500 m down most flanks. Pyroclastic flows affected many of the ravines, although no communities reported damage. Significant SO2 emissions were recorded by satellite data between 27 February-8 March. An inflationary trend was recorded from early March through late September 2016, after which a period of deflation began. Tungurahua had occasional seismic swarms after the eruption, but no reported surface activity for the remainder of 2016 and 2017.

IG reported an ash emission on 5 January 2016 that rose 2 km above the crater and drifted NE, causing minor ashfall in the Pondoa and Bilbao sectors. Otherwise, no volcanic activity was reported until a new episode began on 26 February 2016 with a seismic swarm followed by a series of explosions and ash plumes that rose 3-8 km above the crater (figures 96 and 97). Incandescent blocks were ejected up to a kilometer down the NW, W, and SW flanks (figure 98). Pyroclastic flows were also generated that descended through the gorges of Juive, La Hacienda, Mandur and Cusúa, reaching distances of 500-1,500 m (figure 99).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. An ash emission at Tungurahua observed from OVT on 26 February 2016. Courtesy of IG-EPN, (Explosion en el Volcan Tunguraha, No. 20 [1], Informe especial Tungurahia No. 1).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Ejecta traveled 1,000 m from the crater, an ash plume rose 2 km, and pyroclastic flows traveled down several drainages on the NW flank at Tungurahua on 26 February 2016 in this thermal image taken from the Mandur camera. Courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 836, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 23 de febrero al 01 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. Incandescent blocks descended 1,000 m down the NW, W, and SW flanks of Tungurahua on 26 February 2016, and explosions were audible at OVT. Photo by F. Vásconez, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 836, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 23 de febrero al 01 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. Pyroclastic flows descended the Mandur, La Hacienda and other ravines on the W flank of Tungurahua on 26 February 2016 as far as 1 km. Photo by F. Vásconez, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 836, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 23 de febrero al 01 de marzo de 2016).

Continuous emissions with low to moderate ash content drifted W and SW on 27 February. The communities most affected by ashfall were Choglontus, Cotaló, El Manzano, Palitahua, Bilbao, Pillate, Juive, Ambato, Tisaleo, Riobamba, and Quero. The ash was mostly fine-grained, except in the area near Pillate and Choglontus, where the grain size reached up to 3 mm and consisted of reddish, black, gray, and beige fragments (figure 100). On the morning of 1 March 2015, several pyroclastic flows were observed descending through the Juive, Mandur, Achupashal, La Hacienda, and Romero ravines; they traveled 1.5-1.7 km (figure 101).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. Coarse-grained ash fragments from Tungurahua collected in Ambato on 26 February 2016. Photo by Marco Montesdeoca (ECU911 Ambato), Courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (Explosion en el Volcan Tunguraha, No. 2, Informe especial Tungurahia No. 2, 26 de febrero del 2016 (16h45)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. A pyroclastic flow descended 1.5 km down the Hacienda Ravine on 1 March 2016 at Tungurahua and was captured by the Mandur thermal camera. Courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 836, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 23 de febrero al 01 de marzo de 2016).

Ash emissions were constant throughout the first week in March (figures 102 and 103). During 1-5 March they drifted NW, SW and E, with ashfall reported in the towns of Pillate, Manzano, Choglontus, Palictahua and El Altar (figure 104). Incandescent blocks descended most of the flanks (figure 105). Beginning on 6 March, plumes drifted SW and S, with variable ash content. Pyroclastic flows along the W and NW flanks descended the Cusua, Juive, Mandur, Ashupashal, Romero, and Rhea drainages (figure 106), the farthest traveled went 2.2 km down the Ashupashal on 7 March. In addition to ash and other explosive debris, daily sulfur dioxide emissions were identified from 27 February-8 March 2016 by the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite (figure 107).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. Constant ash emissions rose at least 1 km above the summit of Tungurahua during the first week of March 2016. Photo take on 3 March 2016 by P. Espin. Courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 837, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 01 al 08 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. A dark ash plume formed a mushroom cloud over Tungurahua on 5 March 2016; it rose 2 km above the summit and drifted SW. Photo by E. Telenchana , courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 837, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 01 al 08 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. Ashfall in Choglontus on 6 March 2016 from Tungurahua. Photo by P. Espín, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 837, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 01 al 08 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Strombolian explosions send incandescent blocks down the flanks of Tungurahua on 6 March 2016. Photo by E. Gaunt, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 837, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 01 al 08 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Visual (upper) and thermal (lower) images of Tungurahua taken from Cotalo showing a pyroclastic flow extending down the Achupashal drainage on 6 March 2016. Photo by E. Gaunt, thermal image by M. Almeida, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 837, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 01 al 08 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. Substantial SO2 emissions from Tungurahua were measured daily during 27 February-8 March 2016 by the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite. The plumes drifted 300 km or more W on 27 February, 1, 3, and 5 March. Columbia's Nevado del Riuz (upper plume in images) also produced SO2 emissions during this same period. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Beginning on 28 February, a strong inflationary trend (almost 3 cm) was observed in the GPS data at the Mazón (SW flank) station. Three inclinometers on the NW flank also indicated inflation during 28 February-4 March.

Episodic explosions on 8 March 2016 produced plumes with high ash contents that rose 6 km. Small pyroclastic flows descended the NW flank in the Mandur, Rea, Achupashal, and La Hacienda ravines. Sporadic emissions continued for most of the second week of March, with varying ash contents, reaching between 1.5 and 4 km above the crater and drifting to the SSW. Reports of ashfall were received in the sectors of Choglontús, Manzano, Pillate, El Altar, and Palitahua, and minor ashfall in Juive and Cusúa. Several ash plumes (figure 108) and a small pyroclastic flow were observed on 13 March 2016. The Manzano lookout reported loud noises on 14 March, and ashfall in the afternoon, but weather obscured views of emissions. Rainy weather on 16 March also obscured views, but Manzano, Chacauco, Cusúa, and Juive lookouts reported ashfall and explosions. There were no further reports from the observatory of ash emissions, ashfall, or explosions; only minor steam plumes were observed on clear days after 16 March 2016.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. An ash emission at Tungurahua on 13 March 2016 was the last photographed for the eruption. Photo by M. Córdova from OVT, courtesy of IG-EPN (INFORME No. 838, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 08 al 15 de marzo de 2016).

The Washington VAAC reported possible ash emissions on 31 March 2016, but information from OVT indicated no surface activity. Intense rain on 28 March generated a small lahar that descended through the La Pampa ravine. Significant rainfall on 2 April caused lahars to affect Vazcun, Juive, Pondoa, Bilbao, Achupashal, Chontapamba and Malpayacu drainages. Seismicity continued to decrease throughout April 2016. A small swarm of Long Period seismic events (LP's) occurred between 1 and 20 May that were associated with fluid movements. The Washington VAAC reported ash emissions on 3, 8, and 13 May, but OVT reported no surface activity during the entire month (figure 109).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. Clear skies on 31 May 2016 at Tungurahua revealed a snow-covered summit with no evidence of emissions. Photo by M. Córdova, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 849, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 24 al 31 de mayo del 2016).

In a Special Report released on 2 June 2016, IG-EPN noted a clear inflationary trend in data collected from two stations at Tungurahua since the end of the eruption in mid-March. The Retu inclinometer, located N of the crater, showed inflation on the radial axis of about 600 μrad (microradians), and about 200 μrad on the tangential axis. The same axis at the Mandur inclinometer (on the NW flank) had a smaller but distinct (~30 μrad) inflationary signal (figure 110).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. The pattern of deformation registered at the Retu (Refugio Tungurahua) and Mndr (Mandur) inclinometers from 14 February-30 May 2016 at Tungurahua. The gray area corresponds to the eruption of 26 February -16 March. An inflationary trend is apparent on both axes at the Retu instrument and on the tangential axis of the Mndr site. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial Volcán Tungurahua - N°6, 2 de Junio de 2016).

A Washington VAAC report on 1 June 2016 noted that the Guayaquil Meteorological Weather Office (MWO) reported an ash plume at Tungurahua, but OVT confirmed no surface activity. A very small lahar was recorded in the La Pampa ravine on 2 June. Although there were rains of varying intensity many days during June, they did not generate significant lahars, except one of medium size that occurred on 21 June in the Achupashal ravine. The Washington VAAC noted a report from the Guayaquil MWO of an ash emission on 5 July, but it was not detected in satellite imagery, and the OVT reported no surface activity. There was no surface activity reported by OVT from July to mid-September (figure 111), and internal seismicity remained very low. Occasional rainy periods generated muddy water in the ravines, but no significant lahars were reported.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. The summit of Tungurahua showed no sign of surface activity on 1 August 2016. Photo by Bernard J., courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 858, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 26 de julio al 02 de agosto de 2016).

A significant increase in the number of LP seismic events began on 12 September 2016, and a small seismic swarm was recorded on 18 September (figure 112). Small fumaroles were visible at the edges of the crater on 15 and 16 September (figure 113). At this same time, the inflationary trend that had been ongoing since the eruption earlier in the year switched to deflation as measured at the Retu inclinometer.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. The number of different types of seismic events and explosions recorded at Tungurahua between 1 January and 18 September 2016. The largest spike between 26 February and 16 March corresponds to the eruption of that period. Other episodes of seismicity were recorded during May and mid-September, but did not result in ash emissions or explosions. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial Volcán Tungurahua - N°7, 18 de Septiembre de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 113. Closeup images of the summit of Tungurahua on 15 (top) and 16 (bottom) September 2016 reveal minor fumarolic activity. Top: Steam rises from two snow free areas on 15 September (INFORME No. 865, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 13 al 20 de septiembre de 2016). Bottom: Fumarolic activity was also apparent in this telephoto image taken from OVT on 16 September. Photo by P. Ramón (Informe Especial Volcán Tungurahua - N°7, 18 de Septiembre de 2016). Courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN.

Another increase in LP seismicity and tremors occurred on 24 September, but there were no reports of surface activity other than minor steam fumaroles. Seismicity remained elevated through early October; a one-hour tremor event was reported on 1 October. Seismicity decreased gradually over the following two weeks. Low-energy steam and gas emissions from fumaroles located on the S and SW flanks were observed during a flyover on 7 October 2016. This corresponded to the warmest areas revealed in the thermal image of the summit (figure 114). with a TMA (maximum apparent temperature) of 47.9°C and 36.5°C.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 114. A thermal image of the summit of Tungurahua taken during a flyover on 7 October 2016 showed two areas on the crater rim with slightly elevated temperatures where fumarolic activity was occasionally observed. Image by P. Ramón, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 868, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 4 al 11 de octubre de 2016).

Re-suspended ash from high winds in mid-November 2016 caused several VAAC notices to be issued, but no new emissions were reported by OVT through the end of 2016.

Tungurahua remained quiet throughout 2017. A 90-minute seismic swarm on 8 January 2017 and a minor increase in seismicity in the second half of March were the only seismic events above background levels. There were no emissions except for occasional minor fumarolic activity around the crater rim. Periods of heavy rainfall occasionally produced muddy water in the ravines; the only lahars were reported during 5-6 January, late April and 15 November.

Geologic Background. Tungurahua, a steep-sided andesitic-dacitic stratovolcano that towers more than 3 km above its northern base, is one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes. Three major edifices have been sequentially constructed since the mid-Pleistocene over a basement of metamorphic rocks. Tungurahua II was built within the past 14,000 years following the collapse of the initial edifice. Tungurahua II itself collapsed about 3000 years ago and produced a large debris-avalanche deposit and a horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the west, inside which the modern glacier-capped stratovolcano (Tungurahua III) was constructed. Historical eruptions have all originated from the summit crater, accompanied by strong explosions and sometimes by pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached populated areas at the volcano's base. Prior to a long-term eruption beginning in 1999 that caused the temporary evacuation of the city of Baños at the foot of the volcano, the last major eruption had occurred from 1916 to 1918, although minor activity continued until 1925.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec ); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html).

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 Atmospheric Effects


The enormous aerosol cloud from the March-April 1982 eruption of Mexico's El Chichón persisted for years in the stratosphere, and led to the Atmospheric Effects section becoming a regular feature of the Bulletin. Descriptions of the initial dispersal of major eruption clouds remain with the individual eruption reports, but observations of long-term stratospheric aerosol loading will be found in this section.

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 Special Announcements


Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

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 Additional Reports


Reports are sometimes published that are not related to a Holocene volcano. These might include observations of a Pleistocene volcano, earthquake swarms, or floating pumice. Reports are also sometimes published in which the source of the activity is unknown or the report is determined to be false. All of these types of additional reports are listed below by subregion and subject.

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


Central Chile and Argentina


Estero de Parraguirre


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


 Additional Reports (database)


08/1997 (BGVN 22:08) False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

False report of volcanism intended to exclude would-be gold miners

12/1997 (BGVN 22:12) False Report of Somalia Eruption

Press reports of Somalia's first historical eruption were likely in error

11/1999 (BGVN 24:11) False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

05/2003 (BGVN 28:05) Har-Togoo

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

False report of activity; confusion caused by burning dung in a lava tube



False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption (Philippines) — August 1997

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

7.975°N, 123.23°E; summit elev. 1510 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


False report of volcanism intended to exclude would-be gold miners

In discussing the week ending on 12 September, "Earthweek" (Newman, 1997) incorrectly claimed that a volcano named "Mount Pinukis" had erupted. Widely read in the US, the dramatic Earthweek report described terrified farmers and a black mushroom cloud that resembled a nuclear explosion. The mountain's location was given as "200 km E of Zamboanga City," a spot well into the sea. The purported eruption had received mention in a Manila Bulletin newspaper report nine days earlier, on 4 September. Their comparatively understated report said that a local police director had disclosed that residents had seen a dormant volcano showing signs of activity.

In response to these news reports Emmanuel Ramos of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) sent a reply on 17 September. PHIVOLCS staff had initially heard that there were some 12 alleged families who fled the mountain and sought shelter in the lowlands. A PHIVOLCS investigation team later found that the reported "families" were actually individuals seeking respite from some politically motivated harassment. The story seems to have stemmed from a local gold rush and an influential politician who wanted to use volcanism as a ploy to exclude residents. PHIVOLCS concluded that no volcanic activity had occurred. They also added that this finding disappointed local politicians but was much welcomed by the residents.

PHIVOLCS spelled the mountain's name as "Pinokis" and from their report it seems that it might be an inactive volcano. There is no known Holocene volcano with a similar name (Simkin and Siebert, 1994). No similar names (Pinokis, Pinukis, Pinakis, etc.) were found listed in the National Imagery and Mapping Agency GEOnet Names Server (http://geonames.nga.mil/gns/html/index.html), a searchable database of 3.3 million non-US geographic-feature names.

The Manila Bulletin report suggested that Pinokis resides on the Zamboanga Peninsula. The Peninsula lies on Mindanao Island's extreme W side where it bounds the Moro Gulf, an arm of the Celebes Sea. The mountainous Peninsula trends NNE-SSW and contains peaks with summit elevations near 1,300 m. Zamboanga City sits at the extreme end of the Peninsula and operates both a major seaport and an international airport.

[Later investigation found that Mt. Pinokis is located in the Lison Valley on the Zamboanga Peninsula, about 170 km NE of Zamboanga City and 30 km NW of Pagadian City. It is adjacent to the two peaks of the Susong Dalaga (Maiden's Breast) and near Mt. Sugarloaf.]

References. Newman, S., 1997, Earthweek, a diary of the planet (week ending 12 September): syndicated newspaper column (URL: http://www.earthweek.com/).

Manila Bulletin, 4 Sept. 1997, Dante's Peak (URL: http://www.mb.com.ph/).

Simkin, T., and Siebert, L., 1994, Volcanoes of the world, 2nd edition: Geoscience Press in association with the Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program, Tucson AZ, 368 p.

Information Contacts: Emmanuel G. Ramos, Deputy Director, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Department of Science and Technology, PHIVOLCS Building, C. P. Garcia Ave., University of the Philippines, Diliman campus, Quezon City, Philippines.


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Press reports of Somalia's first historical eruption were likely in error

Xinhua News Agency filed a news report on 27 February under the headline "Volcano erupts in Somalia" but the veracity of the story now appears doubtful. The report disclosed the volcano's location as on the W side of the Gedo region, an area along the Ethiopian border just NE of Kenya. The report had relied on the commissioner of the town of Bohol Garas (a settlement described as 40 km NE of the main Al-Itihad headquarters of Luq town) and some or all of the information was relayed by journalists through VHF radio. The report claimed the disaster "wounded six herdsmen" and "claimed the lives of 290 goats grazing near the mountain when the incident took place." Further descriptions included such statements as "the volcano which erupted two days ago [25 February] has melted down the rocks and sand and spread . . . ."

Giday WoldeGabriel returned from three weeks of geological fieldwork in SW Ethiopia, near the Kenyan border, on 25 August. During his time there he inquired of many people, including geologists, if they had heard of a Somalian eruption in the Gedo area; no one had heard of the event. WoldeGabriel stated that he felt the news report could have described an old mine or bomb exploding. Heavy fighting took place in the Gedo region during the Ethio-Somalian war of 1977. Somalia lacks an embassy in Washington DC; when asked during late August, Ayalaw Yiman, an Ethiopian embassy staff member in Washington DC also lacked any knowledge of a Somalian eruption.

A Somalian eruption would be significant since the closest known Holocene volcanoes occur in the central Ethiopian segment of the East African rift system S of Addis Ababa, ~500 km NW of the Gedo area. These Ethiopian rift volcanoes include volcanic fields, shield volcanoes, cinder cones, and stratovolcanoes.

Information Contacts: Xinhua News Agency, 5 Sharp Street West, Wanchai, Hong Kong; Giday WoldeGabriel, EES-1/MS D462, Geology-Geochemistry Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545; Ayalaw Yiman, Ethiopian Embassy, 2134 Kalorama Rd. NW, Washington DC 20008.


False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption (Turkey) — November 1999

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

Following the Ms 7.8 earthquake in Turkey on 17 August (BGVN 24:08) an Email message originating in Turkey was circulated, claiming that volcanic activity was observed coincident with the earthquake and suggesting a new (magmatic) volcano in the Sea of Marmara. For reasons outlined below, and in the absence of further evidence, editors of the Bulletin consider this a false report.

The report stated that fishermen near the village of Cinarcik, at the E end of the Sea of Marmara "saw the sea turned red with fireballs" shortly after the onset of the earthquake. They later found dead fish that appeared "fried." Their nets were "burned" while under water and contained samples of rocks alleged to look "magmatic."

No samples of the fish were preserved. A tectonic scientist in Istanbul speculated that hot water released by the earthquake from the many hot springs along the coast in that area may have killed some fish (although they would be boiled rather than fried).

The phenomenon called earthquake lights could explain the "fireballs" reportedly seen by the fishermen. Such effects have been reasonably established associated with large earthquakes, although their origin remains poorly understood. In addition to deformation-triggered piezoelectric effects, earthquake lights have sometimes been explained as due to the release of methane gas in areas of mass wasting (even under water). Omlin and others (1999), for example, found gas hydrate and methane releases associated with mud volcanoes in coastal submarine environments.

The astronomer and author Thomas Gold (Gold, 1998) has a website (Gold, 2000) where he presents a series of alleged quotes from witnesses of earthquakes. We include three such quotes here (along with Gold's dates, attributions, and other comments):

(A) Lima, 30 March 1828. "Water in the bay 'hissed as if hot iron was immersed in it,' bubbles and dead fish rose to the surface, and the anchor chain of HMS Volage was partially fused while lying in the mud on the bottom." (Attributed to Bagnold, 1829; the anchor chain is reported to be on display in the London Navy Museum.)

(B) Romania, 10 November 1940. ". . . a thick layer like a translucid gas above the surface of the soil . . . irregular gas fires . . . flames in rhythm with the movements of the soil . . . flashes like lightning from the floor to the summit of Mt Tampa . . . flames issuing from rocks, which crumbled, with flashes also issuing from non-wooded mountainsides." (Phrases used in eyewitness accounts collected by Demetrescu and Petrescu, 1941).

(C) Sungpan-Pingwu (China), 16, 22, and 23 August 1976. "From March of 1976, various large anomalies were observed over a broad region. . . . At the Wanchia commune of Chungching County, outbursts of natural gas from rock fissures ignited and were difficult to extinguish even by dumping dirt over the fissures. . . . Chu Chieh Cho, of the Provincial Seismological Bureau, related personally seeing a fireball 75 km from the epicenter on the night of 21 July while in the company of three professional seismologists."

Yalciner and others (1999) made a study of coastal areas along the Sea of Marmara after the Izmet earthquake. They found evidence for one or more tsunamis with maximum runups of 2.0-2.5 m. Preliminary modeling of the earthquake's response failed to reproduce the observed runups; the areas of maximum runup instead appeared to correspond most closely with several local mass-failure events. This observation together with the magnitude of the earthquake, and bottom soundings from marine geophysical teams, suggested mass wasting may have been fairly common on the floor of the Sea of Marmara.

Despite a wide range of poorly understood, dramatic processes associated with earthquakes (Izmet 1999 apparently included), there remains little evidence for volcanism around the time of the earthquake. The nearest Holocene volcano lies ~200 km SW of the report location. Neither Turkish geologists nor scientists from other countries in Turkey to study the 17 August earthquake reported any volcanism. The report said the fisherman found "magmatic" rocks; it is unlikely they would be familiar with this term.

The motivation and credibility of the report's originator, Erol Erkmen, are unknown. Certainly, the difficulty in translating from Turkish to English may have caused some problems in understanding. Erkmen is associated with a website devoted to reporting UFO activity in Turkey. Photographs of a "magmatic rock" sample were sent to the Bulletin, but they only showed dark rocks photographed devoid of a scale on a featureless background. The rocks shown did not appear to be vesicular or glassy. What was most significant to Bulletin editors was the report author's progressive reluctance to provide samples or encourage follow-up investigation with local scientists. Without the collaboration of trained scientists on the scene this report cannot be validated.

References. Omlin, A, Damm, E., Mienert, J., and Lukas, D., 1999, In-situ detection of methane releases adjacent to gas hydrate fields on the Norwegian margin: (Abstract) Fall AGU meeting 1999, Eos, American Geophysical Union.

Yalciner, A.C., Borrero, J., Kukano, U., Watts, P., Synolakis, C. E., and Imamura, F., 1999, Field survey of 1999 Izmit tsunami and modeling effort of new tsunami generation mechanism: (Abstract) Fall AGU meeting 1999, Eos, American Geophysical Union.

Gold, T., 1998, The deep hot biosphere: Springer Verlag, 256 p., ISBN: 0387985468.

Gold, T., 2000, Eye-witness accounts of several major earthquakes (URL: http://www.people.cornell.edu/ pages/tg21/eyewit.html).

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

48.831°N, 101.626°E; summit elev. 1675 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

In December 2002 information appeared in Mongolian and Russian newspapers and on national TV that a volcano in Central Mongolia, the Har-Togoo volcano, was producing white vapors and constant acoustic noise. Because of the potential hazard posed to two nearby settlements, mainly with regard to potential blocking of rivers, the Director of the Research Center of Astronomy and Geophysics of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Dr. Bekhtur, organized a scientific expedition to the volcano on 19-20 March 2003. The scientific team also included M. Ulziibat, seismologist from the same Research Center, M. Ganzorig, the Director of the Institute of Informatics, and A. Ivanov from the Institute of the Earth's Crust, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Geological setting. The Miocene Har-Togoo shield volcano is situated on top of a vast volcanic plateau (figure 1). The 5,000-year-old Khorog (Horog) cone in the Taryatu-Chulutu volcanic field is located 135 km SW and the Quaternary Urun-Dush cone in the Khanuy Gol (Hanuy Gol) volcanic field is 95 km ENE. Pliocene and Quaternary volcanic rocks are also abundant in the vicinity of the Holocene volcanoes (Devyatkin and Smelov, 1979; Logatchev and others, 1982). Analysis of seismic activity recorded by a network of seismic stations across Mongolia shows that earthquakes of magnitude 2-3.5 are scattered around the Har-Togoo volcano at a distance of 10-15 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Photograph of the Har-Togoo volcano viewed from west, March 2003. Courtesy of Alexei Ivanov.

Observations during March 2003. The name of the volcano in the Mongolian language means "black-pot" and through questioning of the local inhabitants, it was learned that there is a local myth that a dragon lived in the volcano. The local inhabitants also mentioned that marmots, previously abundant in the area, began to migrate westwards five years ago; they are now practically absent from the area.

Acoustic noise and venting of colorless warm gas from a small hole near the summit were noticed in October 2002 by local residents. In December 2002, while snow lay on the ground, the hole was clearly visible to local visitors, and a second hole could be seen a few meters away; it is unclear whether or not white vapors were noticed on this occasion. During the inspection in March 2003 a third hole was seen. The second hole is located within a 3 x 3 m outcrop of cinder and pumice (figure 2) whereas the first and the third holes are located within massive basalts. When close to the holes, constant noise resembled a rapid river heard from afar. The second hole was covered with plastic sheeting fixed at the margins, but the plastic was blown off within 2-3 seconds. Gas from the second hole was sampled in a mechanically pumped glass sampler. Analysis by gas chromatography, performed a week later at the Institute of the Earth's Crust, showed that nitrogen and atmospheric air were the major constituents.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Photograph of the second hole sampled at Har-Togoo, with hammer for scale, March 2003. Courtesy of Alexei Ivanov.

The temperature of the gas at the first, second, and third holes was +1.1, +1.4, and +2.7°C, respectively, while air temperature was -4.6 to -4.7°C (measured on 19 March 2003). Repeated measurements of the temperatures on the next day gave values of +1.1, +0.8, and -6.0°C at the first, second, and third holes, respectively. Air temperature was -9.4°C. To avoid bias due to direct heating from sunlight the measurements were performed under shadow. All measurements were done with Chechtemp2 digital thermometer with precision of ± 0.1°C and accuracy ± 0.3°C.

Inside the mouth of the first hole was 4-10-cm-thick ice with suspended gas bubbles (figure 5). The ice and snow were sampled in plastic bottles, melted, and tested for pH and Eh with digital meters. The pH-meter was calibrated by Horiba Ltd (Kyoto, Japan) standard solutions 4 and 7. Water from melted ice appeared to be slightly acidic (pH 6.52) in comparison to water of melted snow (pH 7.04). Both pH values were within neutral solution values. No prominent difference in Eh (108 and 117 for ice and snow, respectively) was revealed.

Two digital short-period three-component stations were installed on top of Har-Togoo, one 50 m from the degassing holes and one in a remote area on basement rocks, for monitoring during 19-20 March 2003. Every hour 1-3 microseismic events with magnitude <2 were recorded. All seismic events were virtually identical and resembled A-type volcano-tectonic earthquakes (figure 6). Arrival difference between S and P waves were around 0.06-0.3 seconds for the Har-Togoo station and 0.1-1.5 seconds for the remote station. Assuming that the Har-Togoo station was located in the epicentral zone, the events were located at ~1-3 km depth. Seismic episodes similar to volcanic tremors were also recorded (figure 3).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Examples of an A-type volcano-tectonic earthquake and volcanic tremor episodes recorded at the Har-Togoo station on 19 March 2003. Courtesy of Alexei Ivanov.

Conclusions. The abnormal thermal and seismic activities could be the result of either hydrothermal or volcanic processes. This activity could have started in the fall of 2002 when they were directly observed for the first time, or possibly up to five years earlier when marmots started migrating from the area. Further studies are planned to investigate the cause of the fumarolic and seismic activities.

At the end of a second visit in early July, gas venting had stopped, but seismicity was continuing. In August there will be a workshop on Russian-Mongolian cooperation between Institutions of the Russian and Mongolian Academies of Sciences (held in Ulan-Bator, Mongolia), where the work being done on this volcano will be presented.

References. Devyatkin, E.V. and Smelov, S.B., 1979, Position of basalts in sequence of Cenozoic sediments of Mongolia: Izvestiya USSR Academy of Sciences, geological series, no. 1, p. 16-29. (In Russian).

Logatchev, N.A., Devyatkin, E.V., Malaeva, E.M., and others, 1982, Cenozoic deposits of Taryat basin and Chulutu river valley (Central Hangai): Izvestiya USSR Academy of Sciences, geological series, no. 8, p. 76-86. (In Russian).

Geologic Background. The Miocene Har-Togoo shield volcano, also known as Togoo Tologoy, is situated on top of a vast volcanic plateau. The 5,000-year-old Khorog (Horog) cone in the Taryatu-Chulutu volcanic field is located 135 km SW and the Quaternary Urun-Dush cone in the Khanuy Gol (Hanuy Gol) volcanic field is 95 km ENE. Analysis of seismic activity recorded by a network of seismic stations across Mongolia shows that earthquakes of magnitude 2-3.5 are scattered around the Har-Togoo volcano at a distance of 10-15 km.

Information Contacts: Alexei V. Ivanov, Institute of the Earth Crust SB, Russian Academy of Sciences, Irkutsk, Russia; Bekhtur andM. Ulziibat, Research Center of Astronomy and Geophysics, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ulan-Bator, Mongolia; M. Ganzorig, Institute of Informatics MAS, Ulan-Bator, Mongolia.


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

1.136°N, 34.559°E; summit elev. 3885 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


False report of activity; confusion caused by burning dung in a lava tube

An eruption at Mount Elgon was mistakenly inferred when fumes escaped from this otherwise quiet volcano. The fumes were eventually traced to dung burning in a lava-tube cave. The cave is home to, or visited by, wildlife ranging from bats to elephants. Mt. Elgon (Ol Doinyo Ilgoon) is a stratovolcano on the SW margin of a 13 x 16 km caldera that straddles the Uganda-Kenya border 140 km NE of the N shore of Lake Victoria. No eruptions are known in the historical record or in the Holocene.

On 7 September 2004 the web site of the Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation reported that villagers sighted and smelled noxious fumes from a cave on the flank of Mt. Elgon during August 2005. The villagers' concerns were taken quite seriously by both nations, to the extent that evacuation of nearby villages was considered.

The Daily Nation article added that shortly after the villagers' reports, Moses Masibo, Kenya's Western Province geology officer visited the cave, confirmed the villagers observations, and added that the temperature in the cave was 170°C. He recommended that nearby villagers move to safer locations. Masibo and Silas Simiyu of KenGens geothermal department collected ashes from the cave for testing.

Gerald Ernst reported on 19 September 2004 that he spoke with two local geologists involved with the Elgon crisis from the Geology Department of the University of Nairobi (Jiromo campus): Professor Nyambok and Zacharia Kuria (the former is a senior scientist who was unable to go in the field; the latter is a junior scientist who visited the site). According to Ernst their interpretation is that somebody set fire to bat guano in one of the caves. The fire was intense and probably explains the vigorous fuming, high temperatures, and suffocated animals. The event was also accompanied by emissions of gases with an ammonia odor. Ernst noted that this was not surprising considering the high nitrogen content of guano—ammonia is highly toxic and can also explain the animal deaths. The intense fumes initially caused substantial panic in the area.

It was Ernst's understanding that the authorities ordered evacuations while awaiting a report from local scientists, but that people returned before the report reached the authorities. The fire presumably prompted the response of local authorities who then urged the University geologists to analyze the situation. By the time geologists arrived, the fuming had ceased, or nearly so. The residue left by the fire and other observations led them to conclude that nothing remotely related to a volcanic eruption had occurred.

However, the incident emphasized the problem due to lack of a seismic station to monitor tectonic activity related to a local triple junction associated with the rift valley or volcanic seismicity. In response, one seismic station was moved from S Kenya to the area of Mt. Elgon so that local seismicity can be monitored in the future.

Information Contacts: Gerald Ernst, Univ. of Ghent, Krijgslaan 281/S8, B-9000, Belgium; Chris Newhall, USGS, Univ. of Washington, Dept. of Earth & Space Sciences, Box 351310, Seattle, WA 98195-1310, USA; The Daily Nation (URL: http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/); Uganda Tourist Board (URL: http://www.visituganda.com/).