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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.


Recently Published Bulletin Reports

Ambrym (Vanuatu) Fissure eruption in mid-December 2018 produces fountaining and lava flows; no activity evident in caldera after 17 December

Fournaise, Piton de la (France) One-day eruptive events in April and July; 5-week eruption 27 April-1 June 2018

Negra, Sierra (Ecuador) Fissure opens on NNE caldera rim 26 June 2018, NW-flank lava flows reach the sea

Great Sitkin (United States) Small phreatic explosions in June and August 2018; ash deposit on snow near summit

Alaid (Russia) Small ash plume reported on 21 August 2018

Aira (Japan) Activity increased at Minamidake and decreased at Showa crater in early 2018

Suwanosejima (Japan) Intermittent ash emission continues from January through June 2018

Etna (Italy) Degassing continues, accompanied by intermittent ash emissions and small Strombolian explosions in June and July 2018

Stromboli (Italy) Continued Strombolian activity from five active summit vents through March-June 2018

Agung (Indonesia) Ash explosions and lava dome effusion continue during January-July 2018

Fernandina (Ecuador) Brief eruptive episode 16-22 June 2018, lava flows down N flank into the ocean

Fuego (Guatemala) Pyroclastic flows on 3 June 2018 cause at least 110 fatalities, 197 missing, and extensive damage; ongoing ash explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars



Ambrym (Vanuatu) — January 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambrym

Vanuatu

16.25°S, 168.12°E; summit elev. 1334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fissure eruption in mid-December 2018 produces fountaining and lava flows; no activity evident in caldera after 17 December

Ambrym is a shield volcano in the Vanuatu archipelago with a 12-km-wide summit caldera containing the persistently active Benbow and Marum craters. These craters are home to multiple active vents that produce episodic lava lakes, explosions, lava flows, ash, and gas emissions. Occasional fissure eruptions occur outside of these main craters. This report covers July to December 2018 and summarizes reports by the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department (VMGD), the Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and multiple sources of satellite data.

As of the beginning of the reporting period, the hazard status at Ambrym had remained at Volcanic Alert Level 2 ("Major unrest") since 7 December 2017. Monthly VMGD activity reports describe the continued activity within the two main craters, consisting of multiple lava lakes, sustained substantial degassing and steam emission, and seismic unrest. Frequent thermal anomalies were detected throughout the reporting period (figure 42). The danger areas were confined to the Permanent Exclusion Zone within a 1 km radius of Benbow crater, and the Permanent Exclusion Zone and Danger Zone A within about a 2.7 km radius of Marum crater (including Maben-Mbwelesu, Niri-Mbwelesu and Mbwelesu, see BGVN 43:07, figure 38).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Plot of MODIS thermal infrared data analyzed by MIROVA showing the log radiative power of thermal anomalies at Ambrym for the year ending on 1 February 2019. After the December 2018 eruption no further thermal anomalies were noted for the reporting period. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Observations and seismic data analysis by VMGD confirmed the onset of a small-scale intra-caldera fissure eruption at 0600 local time on 15 December. This new fissure produced lava fountains and lava flows with ash and gas plumes (figure 43). Footage of the eruption by John Tasso shows the fissure eruption to the SE of Marum crater producing lava fountaining. A Sentinel-2 satellite image shows a white eruption plume and two new lava flow lobes (figure 44); the actual fissure vent was hidden by the plume. The northernmost lava flow filled in the 500 x 900 m Lewolembwi crater and a smaller lobe continued to flow towards the E (figure 44). Due to this elevated activity, the Volcanic Alert Level was raised to 3 ("Minor eruption"), with the danger zones increased to a 2 km radius around Benbow crater and a 4 km radius around Marum crater. VMGD warned of additional risk within 3 km of eruptive fissures in the SE caldera area.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Image of the fissure eruption producing lava fountaining at Ambrym volcano, taken from a video recorded by John Tasso on 16 December 2018.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Satellite imagery showing the Ambrym caldera area in November-December 2018. Top: True color Landsat-8 satellite image acquired on 13 December 2018 showing the area prior to the fissure eruption. Bottom: False-color infrared Sentinel-2 composite image (bands 12, 11, and 4) showing the multiple active vents and lava lakes within Marum and Benbow craters (top third of the image, acquired on 25 November 2018), and the eruption plume and the bright orange/red lava flow fronts in the bottom of the image (acquired on 15 December 2018); the fissure is obscured by the plume. Courtesy of Sentinel-Hub Playground.

Through 16-17 December, ash and gas emission continued from Benbow and Marum craters (figures 45 and 46), accompanied by ongoing localized seismicity; earthquakes with a magnitude greater than five were felt on neighboring islands. The Wellington VAAC issued ash advisories on 16 and 17 December noting maximum cloud altitudes of approximately 8 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Ash emission from Ambrym volcano at 1600 on 16 December 2018. Webcam image courtesy of, and annotated by, VMGD.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Elevated atmospheric SO2 emissions from Ambrym on 17 December 2018 with a total measured mass of 23.383 kt in this scene. The units on the scale bar reflect SO2 in terms of Dobson Units (DU). Courtesy of the NASA Goddard Flight Center Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory.

From 14 to 26 December, the National Volcano Monitoring Network detected over 4,500 earthquakes related to the eruptive activity, but locally felt seismicity decreased. Analysis of satellite imagery confirmed surface deformation associated with the increase in activity. Media reports from Radio New Zealand indicated that seismic activity during December resulted in ground rupture and damage to homes on the island and residents were moved to evacuation centers.

During the reporting period, thermal anomalies were frequently detected by the MODIS satellite instruments and subsequently analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm, reflecting the lava lake activity in Benbow and Marum craters, as well additional thermal anomalies during the December 2018 fissure eruption and subsequent lava flows to the SE of the main crater area (figures 47 and 48).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. MODVOLC Thermal Alert System from July through December 2018 showing the two active craters of Ambrym, Benbow and Marum, and the December 2018 fissure eruption. Red areas indicate approximate locations of Thermal Anomaly detections along with the number of detections. Courtesy of HIGP - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. MODVOLC thermal alerts detected over Ambrym volcano during July 2018 through December 2018 showing hot spots located at Benbow and Marum craters and the December 2018 fissure eruption. Courtesy of HIGP - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

As of 7 January 2019, Ambrym remains on Alert Level 3 with continued seismic activity. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system has not detected any recent thermal anomalies, indicating the end of the fissure eruption and a reduction in activity at the main craters.

Geologic Background. Ambrym, a large basaltic volcano with a 12-km-wide caldera, is one of the most active volcanoes of the New Hebrides arc. A thick, almost exclusively pyroclastic sequence, initially dacitic, then basaltic, overlies lava flows of a pre-caldera shield volcano. The caldera was formed during a major plinian eruption with dacitic pyroclastic flows about 1900 years ago. Post-caldera eruptions, primarily from Marum and Benbow cones, have partially filled the caldera floor and produced lava flows that ponded on the caldera floor or overflowed through gaps in the caldera rim. Post-caldera eruptions have also formed a series of scoria cones and maars along a fissure system oriented ENE-WSW. Eruptions have apparently occurred almost yearly during historical time from cones within the caldera or from flank vents. However, from 1850 to 1950, reporting was mostly limited to extra-caldera eruptions that would have affected local populations.

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), 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/); 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/); Radio New Zealand, 155 The Terrace, Wellington 6011, New Zealand (URL: https://www.radionz.co.nz/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); John Tasso, Vanuatu Island Experience, Port Vatu, West Ambrym, Vanuatu (URL: http://vanuatuislandexperience.com/).


Piton de la Fournaise (France) — September 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Piton de la Fournaise

France

21.244°S, 55.708°E; summit elev. 2632 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


One-day eruptive events in April and July; 5-week eruption 27 April-1 June 2018

Short pulses of intermittent eruptive activity have characterized Piton de la Fournaise, the large basaltic shield volcano on Reunion Island in the western Indian Ocean, for several thousand years. The most recent episode occurred during 14 July-28 August 2017 with a 450-m-long fissure on the S flank inside the Enclos Fouqué caldera about 850 m W of Château Fort. Three eruptive episodes occurred during March-August 2018, the period covered in this report; two lasted for one day each on the N flank in April and July, and one lasting from late April through May located on the S flank. Information is provided primarily by the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF) as well as satellite instruments.

The first of three eruptive events during March-August 2018 occurred during 3-4 April and was a 1-km-long fissure that opened in seven segments with two eruptive vents. It was located on the N flank of the central cone, just S of the Nez Coupé de Sainte Rose on the rim of the caldera. A longer lasting eruptive event began on 27 April and was located in the cratère Rivals area on the S flank of the central cone. The main fissure had three eruptive vents initially, only one of which produced lava that flowed in tunnels away from the site toward the S rim of the Enclos Fouqué caldera. The longest flow reached 3 km in length and set fires at the base of the rampart rim of the caldera. Flow activity gradually decreased throughout May, and seismic tremor ceased, indicating the end of the event, on 1 June 2018. A third, brief event on 13 July 2018 produced four fissures with 20-m-high incandescent lava and aa flows that traveled several hundred meters across the NNW flank of the central cone, covering a large section of the most popular hiking trail to the summit. The event only lasted for about 18 hours but caused significant geomorphologic change as the first flow activity in that area in several hundred years.

The MIROVA plot of thermal energy from 6 February-1 September 2018 clearly shows two of the three eruptive events that took place during that period. The 27 April to 1 June event produced an initial very strong thermal signature that decreased throughout May. Cooling after the flow ceased continued for most of June. The one-day eruptive event on 13 July was also recorded, but the similarly brief event on 3-4 April was not captured in the thermal data (figure 126).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 126. The MIROVA plot of thermal energy from Piton de La Fournaise from 6 February-1 September 2018 clearly shows two of the three eruptive events that took place during that period. The longest event, from 27 April to 1 June produced an initial very strong thermal signature that decreased throughout May. Cooling after the flow ceased continued for most of June. A brief one-day eruptive event on 13 July was also recorded. A similarly brief event on 3-4 April was not recorded. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Eruptive event of 3-4 April 2018. Minor inflation and seismicity were intermittent from the end of August 2017 when the last eruptive episode ended. Significant seismic activity around the summit resumed on 23 March 2018 and accelerated through the end of the month. Inflation continued throughout March as well. A change of composition was detected in the summit fumaroles on 23 March 2018; the fluids were enriched in CO2 and SO2. Beginning on 3 April around 0550 local time, OVPF reported a seismic swarm and deformation consistent with magma rising towards the surface. Seismic tremor began around 1040 in an area on the N flank near the Nez Coupé de Sainte Rose. The tremor intensity continued to increase throughout the day; OVPF visually confirmed the eruption around 1150 in the morning on the upper part of the N flank (figure 127).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 127. The eruptive site at Piton de la Fournaise on 3 April 2018 on the N flank near the Nez Coupé de Sainte Rose. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du 03 avril 2018 à 16h30 heure locale).

A helicopter overflight in mid-afternoon revealed a 1-km-long fissure that had opened in seven distinct segments; lava fountains emerged from two of the segments. The last active segment was just below the rampart of the Nez Coupé de Sainte Rose (figure 128). Both seismic and surface eruptive activity stopped abruptly the following day at 0400.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 128. The brief eruption of 3-4 April 2018 was located on the N flank of the central crater near the Nez Coupé de Sainte Rose, a point on the rampart rim of the Enclos. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du 03 avril 2018 à 16h30 heure locale).

Eruptive event of 27 April-1 June 2018. OVPF reported 2.5 cm of inflation in the 15 days after the 3-4 April eruption. Seismic activity resumed at the base of the summit area on 21 April, and a new seismic swarm began at 2015 local time on 27 April. This was followed three hours later by tremor activity indicating the beginning of a new eruptive event from fissures that opened on the S flank in the area of cratère Rivals (figure 129). Four fissures opened; one on each side of the crater and one cutting across it were initially active, but activity moved the next morning to a fourth fissure just downstream from Rivals crater and extended for less than 300 m. Fountains of lava rose to 30 m during a morning overflight on 28 April. Several streams of lava quickly coalesced into a single flow heading S towards the rampart at the rim of the Enclos Fouqué (figure 130). By 0830 on 28 April the flow was less than 300 m from the rim and had destroyed an OVPF seismic station and a GPS station. The OMI instrument on the Aura satellite recorded a significant SO2 plume from the event on 28 April (figure 131).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 129. A fissure extended about 300 m S from the Rivals crater on the S flank of the cone at Piton de la Fournaise on 28 April 2018 where a new eruptive event began the previous evening. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du samedi 28 avril 2018 à 10h00 heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 130. The flow from the new fissure near Rival crater at Piton de la Fournaise had flowed to within 300 m of the Enclos Fouqué caldera rim by 0830 on 28 April 2018. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du samedi 28 avril 2018 à 10h00 heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 131. An SO2 plume of 9.51 Dobson Units (DU) drifted NW from Reunion Island on 28 April 2018 where Piton de la Fournaise began a new eruptive episode the previous evening. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Tremor activity decreased throughout the day on 28 April while the flow continued. The surface flow rate was measured initially at 8-15 m3 per second; it had slowed to 3-7 m3 per second by late that afternoon. Three active vents were observed on the morning of 29 April that continued the next day with fountains rising about 15 m (figure 132). A small cone (less than 5 m high) had grown around the southernmost vent and the larger middle vent contained a small lava lake. Visible lava was flowing only from the middle vent. The flow consisted of three branches; the two spreading to the E were less than 150 m long while the third flow traveled W past the E Cassian crater and had reached 1.2 km in length by 1020 on 30 April. On 30 April OVPF observed a flow from the previous day that had traveled 2.6 km, reaching the foot of the S edge of the l'Enclos Fouqué rampart.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 132. Lava flowed from three active vents near the Rival crater at Piton de la Fournaise on 30 April 2018. A small cone (less than 5 m high) had grown around the southernmost vent (bottom center) and the larger middle vent contained a small lava lake. Lava was actively flowing from only the middle vent. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du lundi 30 avril 2018 à 16h00 heure locale).

OVPF noted on 2 May 2018 that the intensity of volcanic tremor remained stable, slight deflation was measured, and the surface flow rate was estimated from satellite data at 1-3 m3 per second. Field observations during the afternoon of 3 May indicated that most activity was occurring from the central vent which had grown into a small pyroclastic cone with incandescent ejecta and gas emissions (figure 133). A well-developed lava tunnel had a number of roof breakouts.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 133. The eruptive site at Piton de la Fournaise on 3 May 2018 had two main vents, the larger pyroclastic cone produced incandescent ejecta and dense gas plumes. Courtesy of OVPF (©IPGP/OVPF) (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 4 mai 2018 à 15h00 heure locale).

Field reconnaissance during 6-7 May confirmed that most of the activity was concentrated at the central cone with incandescent ejecta rising less than 10 m from the top, and the only source of lava was enclosed in a tunnel. The front of the flow was still active with numerous fires reported at the base of the rampart at the rim of the Enclos Fouqué. The farthest upstream cone was still active, but weak with only occasional bursts of incandescent ejecta. By 10 May the intensity of the volcanic tremor had stabilized at a low level. Two cones remained active, the upstream cone had incandescent ejections rising 10-20 m high. Lava was contained in tunnels near the cones but was exposed below the Piton de Bert (figure 134). The frontal lobe of the flow was located 3 km from the eruptive site, downstream of Piton de Bert (figure 135) at the base of the rampart rim of the Enclos. Numerous fires continued at the base of the rampart due to fresh flows (figure 136).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 134. Lava flows were visible on the slope break below Piton de Bert at Piton de la Fournaise on 10 May 2018. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 10 mai 2018 à 18h30 heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 135. By 10 May 2018, the front of the flow from the 27 April eruptive event at Piton de la Fournaise was located 3 km from the eruptive site downstream from Piton de Bert. Courtesy of OVPF and Google Earth (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 10 mai 2018 à 18h30 heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 136. Fires started by active lava flows affected the base of the rampart rim of the Enclos at Piton de la Fournaise on 10 May 2018. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 10 mai 2018 à 18h30 heure locale).

A minor spike in seismicity was recorded on 15 May 2018; at the same time inflation resumed underneath the caldera. The smaller, farthest upstream cone was the most active on 16 May, with 20-30 m high ejecta. A webcam view on 24 May showed that the vent on the larger pyroclastic cone was nearly closed, and that flow activity was largely contained in tunnels. Field observations that day also confirmed the overall decrease in activity; only a single incandescent zone in the lava field near the vent was observed at nightfall, although persistent degassing continued (figure 137).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 137. By 24 May 2018, activity at Piton de la Fournaise from the eruptive episode that began on 27 April had diminished significantly as seen in this view of the eruptive site near the Rival crater. Photo courtesy of Cité du Volcan and OVPF (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 25 mai 2018 à 15h00 heure locale).

An overflight on 29 May confirmed the decreasing flow activity and continued inflation. Only rare tongues of lava could be observed in the flow field. The flow front had not progressed eastward for the previous 15 days. The main cone remained open at the top with a small eruptive vent less than 5 m in diameter. Small collapses and slumps were visible on the outer flanks of the cone (figure 138). The height of the main cone was estimated at 22-25 m on 31 May and the second vent was observed to be completely closed off. OVPF reported the end of the eruption at 1430 on 1 June 2018 based on the cessation of seismic tremor (figure 139). The MODVOLC thermal alert system recorded multiple thermal alerts from 27 April through 29 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 138. The main cone of the eruptive event at Piton de la Fournaise remained open at the top with a small eruptive vent less than 5 m in diameter on 29 May 2018 that produced abundant steam and gas. Small collapses and slumps were visible on the outer flanks of the cone. N is to the upper left of image. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP ) (Bulletin d'activité du mercredi 30 mai 2018 à 15h30 heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 139. The evolution of the RSAM signal (indicator of the volcanic tremor and the intensity of the eruption) at Piton de l aFournaise between 27 April 2018 at 2000 and 1430 on 1 June at the seismic station of BOR, located at the summit of the central cone. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin exceptionnel du vendredi 1 juin 2018 à 15h00 heure locale).

Eruptive event of 13 July 2018. Throughout June 2018, very little activity was reported; only 23 shallow seismic events were recorded during the month and no significant deformation was measured by the OVPF deformation network. OVPF reported that inflation resumed around 1 July. A sharp increase in seismicity was observed beginning at 2340 local time on 12 July followed by a seismic swarm and rapid deformation around midnight. Tremor activity was recorded beginning about 0330 on 13 July and located on the N flank. The first images of the eruption were visible in a webcam at around 0430. Four eruptive fissures were observed in an overflight that morning around 0800 that opened over a 500-m-long zone, spreading from upstream of la Chapelle de Rosemont towards Formica Leo. Incandescent ejecta rose less than 20 m and the aa lava had flowed about 200 m from the fissures (figures 140 and 142). The lava flow propagation rate was estimated at about 6 m per minute during the first hour of activity. Thereafter, the rate continued to decrease to less than 1 m per minute at the end of the eruption. After a progressive decrease of tremor, and about 3 hours of "gas flushes" that are typically observed at the end of Piton de la Fournaise eruptions (according to OVPF), the eruption stopped on 13 July at 2200 local time. Both MIROVA and MODVOLC recorded thermal anomalies from the brief one-day event (figure 126).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 140. A new eruption at Piton de la Fournaise on 13 July 2018 lasted only a single day and produced a 500-m-long zone with four fissure vents located on the N flank of the cone near la Chapelle de Rosemont and flowing towards Formica Leo. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 13 juillet 2018 à 10h30 heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 141. Four fissure vents on the N flank of the central cone near la Chapelle de Rosemont produced ejecta and lava flows for about 18 hours on 13 July 2018 at Piton de la Fournaise. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 13 juillet 2018 à 10h30 heure locale).

The 13 July 2018 eruption lasted about 18 hours and produced about 0.3 million m3 of lava. Lava flows covered more than 400 m of the popular hiking trail leading to the summit (figure 142 and 143) and almost completely filled the Chapelle de Rosemont (figure 144), an old vent and a characteristic feature within the Enclos Fouqué landscape that was first described in reports of the early volcano expeditions at the end of the 18th century. This area of the volcano on the NNW flank had not experienced active eruptive events for at least the past 400 years. Despite the low volume of lava emitted and its short duration, this event significantly changed the geomorphology of the area, which was quite well known and popular with visitors. Inflation resumed after the eruptive event of 13 July and a brief pulse of seismic activity was reported by OVPF on 26 July. They noted on 13 August that after about a month of inflation, seismicity and inflation both ceased.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 142. The brief 13 July 2018 eruptive event covered an area on the NNW flank of the central cone that had not had active flow activity for at least 400 years. Photo taken midday on 13 July 2018. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (July 2018 Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 143. The area of the lava flows covered during the 13 July 2018 eruption are shown in white, the fissures are shown in red, and the popular hiking trail to the summit is shown in yellow. Over 400 m of the trail was covered with fresh flows. The fissures were located on the NNW flank in the area of the Chapelle de Rosemont, an old vent. The base map was produced by OVPF using aerial and ground-based photographs that were processed by means of stereophotogrammetry. Courtesy of OVPF (July 2018 Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 144. Fresh, dark lava covers the Chapelle de Rosemont on 14 July 2018 after a one-day eruption at Piton de la Fournaise the previous day. The area was first described by explorers in the 18th century and had not seen recent flow activity. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (July 2018 Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise).

Geologic Background. The massive Piton de la Fournaise basaltic shield volcano on the French island of Réunion in the western Indian Ocean is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Much of its more than 530,000-year history overlapped with eruptions of the deeply dissected Piton des Neiges shield volcano to the NW. Three calderas formed at about 250,000, 65,000, and less than 5000 years ago by progressive eastward slumping of the volcano. Numerous pyroclastic cones dot the floor of the calderas and their outer flanks. Most historical eruptions have originated from the summit and flanks of Dolomieu, a 400-m-high lava shield that has grown within the youngest caldera, which is 8 km wide and breached to below sea level on the eastern side. More than 150 eruptions, most of which have produced fluid basaltic lava flows, have occurred since the 17th century. Only six eruptions, in 1708, 1774, 1776, 1800, 1977, and 1986, have originated from fissures on the outer flanks of the caldera. The Piton de la Fournaise Volcano Observatory, one of several operated by the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, monitors this very active volcano.

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF), Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 14 route nationale 3, 27 ème km, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr); 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: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).


Sierra Negra (Ecuador) — September 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Sierra Negra

Ecuador

0.83°S, 91.17°W; summit elev. 1124 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fissure opens on NNE caldera rim 26 June 2018, NW-flank lava flows reach the sea

Sierra Negra shield volcano on the Galápagos Island of Isabela has erupted six times since 1948, most recently in 2005. The eruptions of 2005, 1979, 1963, and 1953 were located in the area known as 'Volcán Chico' near the NNE rim of the summit caldera, which extends about 9 km E-W and 7 km N-S (figure 12). The lava flows generated in these eruptions were directed mainly towards the N and NE flanks of Sierra Negra, in some cases reaching Elizabeth Bay to the N and in others filling the interior of the caldera (figure 13). A new effusive eruption that occurred from 26 June through August 2018 is covered in this report with information provided primarily by Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN). Additional information comes from the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and several sources of satellite information.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Sierra Negra is located on the southern part of Isabela Island in the Galápagos National Park, Ecuador. Courtesy of IG (Informe Especial Nº 2, Volcán Sierra Negra- Islas Galápagos: Descripción del estado de agitación interna y posibles escenarios eruptivos, 12 January 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. The Sierra Negra caldera with the locations of GPS stations and the fissures, vents, and flows from the 2005 eruption. From Geist et al. (2005), courtesy of IG (Informe Especial Nº 2, Volcán Sierra Negra- Islas Galápagos: Descripción del estado de agitación interna y posibles escenarios eruptivos, 12 January 2018).

Beginning in 2017, the Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School (IGEPN) installed a surveillance network of six broadband seismic stations for the Galápagos volcanoes. One station is located on the NE edge of the Sierra Negra caldera and another on the SE flank. After 12 years of little activity, an increase in seismicity beneath and around the caldera became evident by July 2017 (figure 14). On 19 October 2017 (local time) the seismic monitors detected a 16-km-deep M 3.8 earthquake with an epicenter on the NE border of the caldera in the vicinity of Volcán Chico. Four additional similar earthquakes occurred within the next hour. Another earthquake of similar size occurred on 22 October; between 15 and 16 November, three earthquakes with M 3.0 or greater were recorded. The frequency of seismic activity increased significantly in December 2017, with over 550 events recorded during the first three weeks of December 2017; at least three had magnitudes greater than 3. GPS receivers showed uplift of the caldera floor of 80 cm between 2013 and 2017. InSAR interferometry data indicated substantial inflation of the caldera floor of about 70 cm between December 2016 and late November 2017, reaching a level higher than that which preceded the eruption of 2005 (figure 15).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. The number of daily seismic events at Sierra Negra between 13 May 2015 and 23 November 2017 show a distinct increase in activity by July 2017. The colors represent different types of earthquakes; red is VT or volcanotectonic, orange is LP or Long Period, and blue is HB or Hybrid. Courtesy of IG (Informe Especial Sierra Negra N.- 2, Actividad reciente del volcán Sierra Negra – Isla Isabela, 23 November 2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Inflation of the caldera floor at Sierra Negra between December 2016 and November 2017 exceeded 70 cm. The left graph shows the displacement plotted in centimeters versus time, and the right image is the spatial deformation from the InSAR data showing inflation at the caldera (center) and on the SW coast of Isla Isabela. Figures courtesy of Falk Amelung (RSMAS) and IG (Informe Especial Sierra Negra N.- 2, Actividad reciente del volcán Sierra Negra – Isla Isabela, 23 November 2017).

By early January 2018, inflation over the preceding 12 months was close to 1 m, with a total inflation exceeding that prior to the 2005 eruption. Seismic activity, focused on two fracture zones trending NE-SW across the summit caldera, continued to increase until 26 June 2018 when a fissure opened near Volcán Chico on the NNE caldera rim. Over the next 24 hours four fissures opened on the N rim and the NW flank. Three of the fissures were active only for this period, but the fourth, on the NW flank about 7 km below the caldera rim, continued to effuse lava for all of July and most of August 2018. Lava flows reached the sea in early July. Several pulses of increased effusive activity corresponded with increased seismic, thermal, and gas-emission activity recorded by both ground-based and satellite instrumentation. By the last week of August active flows were no longer observed, although the cooling flows continued to emit thermal signals for several weeks.

Activity during January-early June 2018. Elevated seismicity continued into 2018 with a M 3.8 event recorded on 6 January 2018 that was felt by tourists, guides, and Galápagos National Park officials. Tens of additional smaller events continued throughout the month, reaching more than 100 seismic events per day a few times; the earthquakes were located below the caldera at a depth of less than 8 km. A M 4.1 event on 10 January was located at a depth of 7 km. By 12 January, the total inflation of the caldera since the beginning of 2017 was 98 cm (figure 16).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Seismicity and deformation at Sierra Negra between 13 May 2015 and 28 December 2017. The orange line represents the cumulative VT earthquakes, and the blue points record the inflation in cm of the floor accumulated since the beginning of 2015. A change in slope of both curves is evident at the end of 2017 indicating the rate of increase of inflation and seismicity. Courtesy of IG (Informe Especial Nº 2, Volcán Sierra Negra- Islas Galápagos: Descripción del estado de agitación interna y posibles escenarios eruptivos, 12 January 2018).

IG reported 14 seismic events with magnitudes ranging from 3.0-4.6 between 1 January and 19 March 2018. A M 4.4 event on 18 January was located less than 1 km below the surface with an epicenter on the S rim of the caldera. A M 4.1 event on 27 February was also located less than 1 km below the surface. A M 4.6 event on 14 March was the largest to date at Sierra Negra and was located only 0.3 km below the surface. Measurements of CO2, SO2, and H2S made at the Azufral fumarole field (figure 17) on the W rim of the caldera in early February did not have values significantly different compared to May 2014 and September 2017. With the continued increase in frequency and magnitude of shallow seismic activity, IG noted the increased risk of renewed eruptive activity, and noted that most of the active flows of the last 1,000 years were located on the N flank (figure 18).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. A fumarole field near Azufral on the W rim of the Sierra Negra caldera on 6 February 2018 remained unchanged after several months of increased seismicity in the area. Photo by M. Almeida, courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sierra Negra (Islas Galápagos) -2018 - Nº 3, Actualizado del estado de agitación interna y posibles escenarios eruptivos, 19 March 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Simplified geologic map of Sierra Negra with lava flows colored as a function of relative age (modified from Reynolds et al., 1995), courtesy of IG (Informe Especial del Volcán Sierra Negra (Islas Galápagos) -2018 - Nº 3, Actualizado del estado de agitación interna y posibles escenarios eruptivos, 19 March 2018).

Increases in seismicity continued into early June. IG noted that on 25 May 2018, 104 seismic events were recorded, the largest number in a single day since 2015. A M 4.8 event on 8 June was accompanied by over 40 other smaller earthquakes. The earthquake epicenters were mainly located on the edges of the crater in two NE-SW trending lineaments; the first covered the N and W edges of the crater and the second trended from the NE edge to the S edge. Deformation data indicated the largest displacements were at the caldera's center, compared with lower levels of deformation outside of the caldera.

Eruption of 26 June-late August 2018. IG reported an increase in seismicity and a M 4.2 earthquake on 22 June 2018. A larger M 5.3 earthquake was detected at 0315 on 26 June, 5.3 km below the caldera. The event was felt strongly on the upper flanks and in Puerto Villamil (23 km SE). About 8 hours later, at 1117, an earthquake swarm characterized by events located at 3-5 km depth was recorded. A M 4.2 earthquake took place at 1338 and was followed by increasing amplitudes of seismic and infrasound signals. Parque Nacional Galápagos staff then reported noises described as bellows coming from the Volcán Chico fissure vent, which, coupled with the seismicity and infrasound data, suggested the start of an eruption. About 20 minutes later IG described a thermal anomaly identified in satellite images in the N area of the caldera near Volcán Chico and Park staff observed lava flowing towards the crater's interior as well as towards the N flank in the direction of Elizabeth Bay (figure 19).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Lava flows descended from the N flank of Sierra Negra to Elizabeth Bay on 26 June 2018 from four distinct fissure vents (numbered). Fissure 1 was located near Volcan Chico on the caldera rim, and fissures 2, 3, and 4 were located on the N flank. Details of the fissures are discussed later in the report. Video of the flow was captured by Nature Galápagos. Photo courtesy of AFP and BBC News, annotated and reprinted by IG (Informe Especial N° 16 – 2018, Volcán Sierra Negra, Islas Galápagos, Actualización de la Actividad Eruptiva, Quito, 23 de Julio del 2018).

The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery late on 26 June at 10.6 km altitude drifting SW. By the following morning, a plume of ash mixed with SO2 was drifting W at 8.2 km altitude. IG reported a new ash emission late on 27 June drifting NW at 6.1 km altitude. A substantial SO2 plume emerged on 27 June and was recorded by the OMI and OMPS satellite-based instruments drifting SW that day and the next (figure 20). The MODVOLC thermal alert system confirmed the beginning of the eruption with over 100 alert pixels recorded on 27 June and over 50 the following day. The MIROVA system recorded an abrupt, very high thermal signal beginning on 26 June (figure 21). Seismic and acoustic data indicated a gradual decrease of activity after the initial outburst, but effusive lava flows continued on 27 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. A large plume of SO2 was emitted from Sierra Negra on 27 June 2018 at the beginning of the latest eruptive episode. It drifted SW the following day, as seen in these images captured by the OMPS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. The MIROVA project graph of thermal energy at Sierra Negra from 31 January 2018 through September 2108 shows the start of the lava flows on 27 June 2018 (UTC). Pulses of high thermal energy continued through late August when flow activity ceased; cooling of the flows continued into September 2018. Courtesy of MIROVA.

During 27 and 28 June, IG scientists were able to make a site visit to capture thermal, photographic, and physical evidence of the new lava flows (figure 22). A composite thermal image showed the extent of flows that traveled down the N flank as well as into the caldera (figure 23). A temperature of 580°C was measured near the eruptive fissure, and the surface temperatures averaged about 60°C, although some flows were measured as high as 200°C. The temperature inside a fracture on a lava flow was measured at 975°C (figure 24). Pelée hair and "spatter" bombs were visible around the eruptive fissures.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. The lava flows of 26 June 2018 at Sierra Negra emerged from a fissure on the N flank of the caldera rim and other fissures on the N flank and flowed N. N is to the right. Photo by Benjamin Bernard, courtesy of IG (Volcán Sierra Negra, Informe de campo 27-28 junio2018, Termografía, Cartografía, y muestreo de los nuevos flujos de lava, sector de Volcán Chico).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Composite thermal images of the new lava flows at Sierra Negra taken on 27 June 2018 reveal the flows that emerged from the Volcán Chico fissure zone; most flows traveled N down the flank, a few (on the left) traveled down into the caldera. Images by Silvia Vallejo, courtesy of IGEPN (Volcán Sierra Negra, Informe de campo 27-28 junio2018, Termografía, Cartografía, y muestreo de los nuevos flujos de lava, sector de Volcán Chico).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. The temperature of incandescent lava within a fresh flow at Sierra Negra was measured at 975°C on 27 June 2018. Left image by Francisco Vásconez; thermal image by Silvia Vallejo, courtesy of IGEPN (Volcán Sierra Negra, Informe de campo 27-28 junio2018, Termografía, Cartografía, y muestreo de los nuevos flujos de lava, sector de Volcán Chico).

Pahoehoe and aa flows along with lava tunnels were visible in drone images. The visible fissures were slightly arcuate and aligned in a general ENE direction, similar to the fissures of 1979 and 2005 in the vicinity of Volcán Chico. The largest flow was more than 150 m long; they reached up to 130 m wide in the flat areas, but only between 25 and 35 m wide where they were channeled on the steeper slope. In the flatter areas they had characteristics of pahoehoe with a smooth surface, a sometimes rounded texture and lava tunnels (figure 25), while in the channelized areas with a steeper slope they had a rougher surface and were characterized as aa (figure 26). The flows averaged 0.5-1 m thick and in several places the lava filled fissures or previous depressions. The samples of pahoehoe that were collected were all aphanitic with no crystals, strongly iridescent, and vesiculated with fluid textures that indicated a high gas content and low viscosity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Pahoehoe flows, spatter, and a collapsing lava tunnel were visible near fissure 1 (above 'Spatter') at Sierra Negra when imaged by a drone during a field visit on 27-28 June 2018 shortly after the new eruptive episode began. This image covers the area near the top center of the image in figure 22 close to the fissure. Photos were taken by a drone flying 60 m above the flows by Benjamin Bernard, courtesy IGEPN (Volcán Sierra Negra, Informe de campo 27-28 junio2018, Termografía, Cartografía, y muestreo de los nuevos flujos de lava, sector de Volcán Chico).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Aa flows formed as lava traveled down the steeper parts of the N flank of Sierra Negra on 26 June 2018, seen in this drone image taken during a field visit on 27-28 June. This image general location can be seen in the bottom right area in figure 22. Photos were taken by a drone flying 60 m above the flows by Benjamin Bernard, courtesy IGEPN (Volcán Sierra Negra, Informe de campo 27-28 junio2018, Termografía, Cartografía, y muestreo de los nuevos flujos de lava, sector de Volcán Chico).

A small seismic event followed by several hours of tremor was recorded at 1552 on 1 July; a short while later National Park staff observed active lava flows on the NW flank. On 4 July, IG reported a M 5.2 earthquake that was 5 km deep; it was followed by 68 smaller seismic events. On 7 July seismic tremor activity indicating another pulse of magmatic activity was recorded by a station on the NE edge of the caldera at 1700. At the same time, satellite data showed an increase in the intensity of the thermal anomaly on the NW flank; Parque Nacional Galápagos staff confirmed strong visible incandescence in an area near the beach. Tremor activity continued on 8 July, although the amplitude gradually decreased.

The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery on 2 July at 6.1 km altitude drifting SW. Later in the day a concentrated plume interpreted to be primarily steam and gas extended about 260 km SW. On 8 July ash could be seen moving both W and SW in satellite imagery at 2.7-3.0 km altitude. Later that day ash was visible extending about 115 km SW from the summit and other gases extended 370 km W. That evening the ash plume extended about 190 km SW at 3.7 km altitude. Gas-and-ash plumes were observed continuously drifting SW for the next three days (9-11 July) at 3.7 km altitude to a distance of about 80 km. On 13 July, two areas of ash and gas were seen in satellite imagery moving 25 km NW from the summit and up to 45 km SW at altitudes of 3.9 and 2.4 km respectively. A low-level ash plume on 16 July extended 30 km SW from the summit at 2.4 km altitude; incandescence was also visible in the webcam. The next day ash and gas emissions extended about 120 km SW at a similar altitude. Ongoing steam, gas, and ash emissions were seen in satellite imagery and in the webcam extending 110 km NW from the summit on 19 July at 3.4 km altitude. The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume on 30 July that rose to 3.4 km altitude and drifted SW. Strong SO2 emissions were recorded by both the OMPS and OMI satellite instruments throughout July 2018 (figure 27).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. SO2 plumes from Sierra Negra exceeded 2 Dobson Units (DU) nearly every day during July 2018. Data gathered by the OMPS satellite instrument showed a large plume drifting SW on 2 July (top left), and a more narrow stream of SO2 drifting SW on 3 July (top right). The OMI satellite instrument captured large W-drifting plumes on 12 (bottom left) and 14 (bottom right) July. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

In a report issued by IGEPN covering activity through 23 July 2018, they noted that at least four fissures had initially opened on 26 June at the start of the eruption (see numbers in figure 19 at the beginning of this report, and figure 31 at the end). Fissure 1, the longest at 4 km, was located at the edge of the caldera in the area of Volcán Chico; lava flows from this fissure traveled 7 km down the flanks, and over 1 km within the interior of the caldera. NW-flank fissures 2, 3, and 4 were much smaller (about 250 m long). Fissures 1-3 were active only until 27 June; fissure 4 continued to be active throughout July. Lava from this fissure reached the ocean on 6 July.

Gas and possible volcanic ash extended 35 km SW of the summit on 4 August at 1.5 km altitude; this was the last report of an ash plume by the Washington VAAC for the eruption. Daily reports from IGEPN indicated that nightly incandescence from advancing flows continued into August. Occasional low-level steam and gas plumes were also visible. Pulses of lava effusion on 4 and 9 August were accompanied by major episodes of seismic tremor activity and substantial SO2 plumes (figure 28). On 15 August satellite images showed lava from fissure 4 continuing to enter the ocean. The area where the lavas entered the sea were far from any human population or agricultural activities and only accessible by boats.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. At Sierra Negra, large SO2 plumes were recorded by the OMPS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite at the same time that an increase in seismic activity and effusion were noted on both 4 (left) and 9 (right) August 2018. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Throughout the ongoing eruption, pulses of thermal activity detected by MODIS infrared satellite sensors correlated with increases in seismic activity and observed flow activity. The MIROVA plot showed a high level of heat flow from the onset of the eruption on 26 June gradually decreasing in intensity through mid-August (figure 21). This was followed by a significant drop in heat flow and gradual cooling thereafter. After the initial fissure activity near the crater rim on 26-27 June, all subsequent activity was concentrated farther down the N flank at fissure 4 and is reflected in the number of pixels concentrated in that area of the MODVOLC plot of thermal alerts from June-September 2018 (figure 29).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. MODVOLC thermal alert locations corresponded to the locations of the observed flow activity at Sierra Negra, showing the sustained thermal activity from the mid-flank fissure 4 that lasted from late June through mid-September 2018. Courtesy of HIGP - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System .

The number of seismic events recorded during the eruptive episode had increased between 26 June and 30 July 2018 to an average of 265 per day. The peak was recorded on 29 June with 940 earthquakes. Between 31 July and 23 August, the average number was 121 per day, still higher than the level of 38 per day prior to the beginning of the eruption on 26 June. IG reported a continuous decline in activity during the last two weeks of August 2018. After the initial burst of effusive activity during 26-27 June, five additional pulses of increased thermal, seismic, and gas-emission activity were observed in multiple sources of data on 1-2, 7-8, and 31 July, and 4 and 9 August (figure 30).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Multiple parameters of data from the eruption of Sierra Negra from 21 June to 30 August 2018. The dashed green line marks the start of the eruption, while the pale green vertical bars indicate the different eruptive pulses recorded throughout the eruption. a) Seismic energy data (RSAM) recorded by station VCH1, in a window between 1-8 Hz (location shown in figure 31); b) Time series of degassing of SO2 recorded by the OMI and OMPS satellites instruments; c) thermal anomalies recorded by MODVOLC. Courtesy of IGEPN (Informe Especial N°18 – 2018, Volcán Sierra Negra, Islas Galápagos, "Terminación de episodio ruptive actual", Quito, 31 de Agosto del 2018), also published in Vasconez et al (2018).

In a summary report on 31 August 2018, IG reported that the eruption was divided into two main phases. The first and most energetic phase lasted one day (26 June) and was characterized by the opening of five fissures (table 2) located on the rim and N and NW flanks, and creation of lava flows that traveled as far as 7 km from the vents (figure 31). Lava was only active from all five fissures during the first day of the eruption, covering an area greater than 17 km2. During the rest of the eruption from 27 June-23 August, about 13 km2 of lava was produced from fissure 4, with lava reaching the sea on 6 July and expanding the coastline by 1.5 km2. Detailed descriptions of the fissures provided by IGEPN are given in the following section. By 25 August the lava flows covered an area of 30.6 square kilometers. Activity continued to decline the last week of August with decreased seismicity, gas emission, and no surficial activity visible.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Map of the 26 June-August 2018 eruption of Sierra Negra volcano. The eruptive fissures are numbers and shown in yellow and described in detail in the next section. The coastline with Elizabeth Bay is shown in blue, and the lava flows appear in red. The green points include GPS and seismic stations, the epicenter of the earthquake of 5.3 MLV on 26 June, El Cura (control station of the Galápagos National Park) and the panoramic vista visited by tourists. Courtesy of IGEPN (Informe Especial N°18 – 2018, Volcán Sierra Negra, Islas Galápagos, "Terminación de episodio ruptive actual", Quito, 31 de Agosto del 2018), also published in Vasconez et al (2018).

Table 2. Descriptions of the five fissures active during the June-August 2018 eruption of Sierra Negra (see figure 31 for locations). Courtesy of IGEPN (Informe Especial N°18 – 2018, Volcán Sierra Negra, Islas Galápagos, "Terminación de episodio ruptive actual", Quito, 31 de Agosto del 2018)

Feature Location Description
Fissure 1 Edge of the caldera in the Volcán Chico area, trending WNW, tangential to the edge of the caldera. Four kilometers in length with lava flows that moved toward both the interior of the caldera and down the flank from the beginning of the eruption until 27 June, covering an area of 14.6 km2. The flows deposited outside the crater traveled 7 km downhill, without reaching the sea, while those inside it reached a maximum distance of 1.1 km.
Fissure 2 NW of the caldera about 3 km below its edge of the caldera at an elevation of 700 m. Approximately 250 m long and produced 4-km-long lava flows from the beginning of the eruption until 27 June, covering an area of 2.2 km2; its lava did not reach the sea.
Fissure 3 WNW of the caldera about 4 km below its edge at an elevation of 550 m. Approximately 250 m long and active from the beginning of the eruption until 27 June, emitting lava flows that covered an area of about 0.4 km2. The lava flows had a length of about 2 km and did not reach the sea.
Fissure 4 NW flank at an elevation of 100 m between 7 and 8 km below the rim of the caldera. Continuously emitting lava flows throughout the eruption. It was located on the On 6 July the lava flows from this fissure reached the ocean and modified the coastline of Isla Isabela by 1.5 km2. By 25 August when active flow ceased, its lavas had covered an area of approximately 13.3 km2.
Fissure 5 Western flank at an elevation of 840 m, 1.5 km downhill from the inner edge of the caldera. Length of 170 m and covered 0.026 km2.

References: Davidge L, Ebinger C, Ruiz M, Tepp G, Amelung F, Geist D, Cote D, Anzieta J, 2017, Seismicity patterns during a period of inflation at Sierra Negra volcano, Galápagos Ocean Island Chain. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 462. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2016.12.021.

Geist D, Naumann T R, Standish J J, Kurz M D, Harpp K S, White W M , Fornari D, 2005, Wolf Volcano, Galapagos Archipelago: Melting and magmatic evolution at the margins of a mantle plume. Journal of Petrology 46:2197-2224.

Vasconez F, Ramón P, Hernandez S, Hidalgo S, Bernard B, Ruiz M, Alvarado A., La Femina P, Ruiz G, 2018, The different characteristics of the recent eruptions of Fernandina and Sierra Negra volcanoes (Galápagos, Ecuador), Volcanica 1(2): 127-133. DOI: 10.30909/vol.01.02.127133.

Geologic Background. The broad shield volcano of Sierra Negra at the southern end of Isabela Island contains a shallow 7 x 10.5 km caldera that is the largest in the Galápagos Islands. Flank vents abound, including cinder cones and spatter cones concentrated along an ENE-trending rift system and tuff cones along the coast and forming offshore islands. The 1124-m-high volcano is elongated in a NE direction. Although it is the largest of the five major Isabela volcanoes, it has the flattest slopes, averaging less than 5 degrees and diminishing to 2 degrees near the coast. A sinuous 14-km-long, N-S-trending ridge occupies the west part of the caldera floor, which lies only about 100 m below its rim. Volcán de Azufre, the largest fumarolic area in the Galápagos Islands, lies within a graben between this ridge and the west caldera wall. Lava flows from a major eruption in 1979 extend all the way to the north coast from circumferential fissure vents on the upper northern flank. Sierra Negra, along with Cerro Azul and Volcán Wolf, is one of the most active of Isabela Island volcanoes.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec ); 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); 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: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Nature Galápagos (Twitter: @natureGalápagos, https://twitter.com/natureGalápagos).


Great Sitkin (United States) — September 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Great Sitkin

United States

52.076°N, 176.13°W; summit elev. 1740 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small phreatic explosions in June and August 2018; ash deposit on snow near summit

Episodic recent and historic volcanic activity has been reported at Great Sitkin, located about 40 km NE of the community of Adak in the Aleutian Islands. Prior to the recent 2018 activity, the last confirmed eruption in 1974 produced at least one ash cloud that likely exceeded an altitude of 3 km (figures 1 and 2). This eruption extruded a lava dome that partially destroyed an existing dome from a 1945 eruption. Most recently, a small steam explosion was reported on 10 June 2018. In response, the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) raised the Aviation Color Code (ACC) to Yellow (Advisory) from the previous Green (Normal).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Eruption of Great Sitkin volcano in 1974. Photo taken from Adak Island, Alaska, located 40 km SW of the volcano. Photographer/Creator: Paul W. Roberts; courtesy of AVO/USGS (color corrected).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Worldview-3 satellite image of Great Sitkin on 21 November 2017 showing the crater, areas of 1974 and 1945 lava flows, and steam (indicated by the red arrow) from the reported seismic swarm and steam event ending in 2017. Photographer/Creator: Chris Waytomas; image courtesy of AVO/USGS.

AVO had previously reported that a seismic swarm had been detected beginning in late July 2016 and continuing through December 2017. Steam from the crater was also observed during this time period, in late November 2017 (figure 2). The seismicity was characterized by earthquakes typically less than magnitude 1.0 and at depths from near the summit to 30 km below sea level. Most earthquakes were in one of two clusters, beneath the volcano's summit or just offshore the NW coast of the island. Possible explosion signals were observed in seismic data on 10 January and 21 July 2017, but no confirmed emissions were observed locally or detected in infrasound data or satellite imagery.

The most recent eruption at Great Sitkin produced a small steam explosion which was detected in seismic data at 1139 local time on 10 June 2018 (figure 3). The explosion was followed by seismic activity which began diminishing after 24 hours, and by 15-16 June had returned to background levels.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. View of Great Sitkin steaming on 10 July 2018. Photographed from Adak Island, Alaska, approximately 40 km SW. Photo by Alain Beauparlant; image courtesy of AVO/USGS (color corrected).

Due to heavy cloud cover on 10 June 2018, satellite views were obscured. Subsequent satellite data collected on 11 June showed an ash deposit on the surface of the snow extending to about 2 km SW from a vent in the summit crater (figure 4). Minor changes in the vicinity of the summit crater were observed from satellite data, including possible fumaroles north of the main crater. On 17 June an aerial photograph showed minor steaming at the vent (figure 5).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Satellite view of the Great Sitkin crater at 2300 UTC on 11 June 2018 showing an ash deposit extending for about 2 km to the SW. Ash was likely deposited during the brief explosion on 10 June 2018. Minor steaming from a vent through the 1974 lava flow is also visible in this image. View is from the southwest. Photographer/Creator: David Schneider; image courtesy of AVO/USGS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Aerial photo showing minor steaming at the summit of Great Sitkin, 17 June 2018. A small ash deposit extends SW from the vent. Photographer: Alaska Airlines Captain Dave Clum; image courtesy of AVO/USGS.

Another small phreatic explosion was observed in seismic data at 1105 local time on 11 August. Small local earthquakes preceded the event but were not recorded following the explosion. The event is similar to three other phreatic explosions that have occurred over the past 2 years.

Geologic Background. The Great Sitkin volcano forms much of the northern side of Great Sitkin Island. A younger parasitic volcano capped by a small, 0.8 x 1.2 km ice-filled summit caldera was constructed within a large late-Pleistocene or early Holocene scarp formed by massive edifice failure that truncated an ancestral volcano and produced a submarine debris avalanche. Deposits from this and an older debris avalanche from a source to the south cover a broad area of the ocean floor north of the volcano. The summit lies along the eastern rim of the younger collapse scarp. Deposits from an earlier caldera-forming eruption of unknown age cover the flanks of the island to a depth up to 6 m. The small younger caldera was partially filled by lava domes emplaced in 1945 and 1974, and five small older flank lava domes, two of which lie on the coastline, were constructed along northwest- and NNW-trending lines. Hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles occur near the head of Big Fox Creek, south of the volcano. Historical eruptions have been recorded since the late-19th century.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667 USA (URL: https://avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://dggs.alaska.gov/).


Alaid (Russia) — September 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Alaid

Russia

50.861°N, 155.565°E; summit elev. 2285 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small ash plume reported on 21 August 2018

Sporadic ash and gas-and-ash plumes and strong thermal anomalies were reported from Alaid, in Russia's Kurile Islands, between 29 September 2015 and 30 September 2016 (figure 8). The Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), which monitors the volcano, interpreted the thermal anomalies as Strombolian activity and a lava flow (BGVN 42:04). The current report summarizes activity during October 2016 through August 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Aerial photo of the Alaid summit area on 28 April 2016, with fresh lava filling the crater, a cinder cone in the southern part of the crater, and a lava flow on the SW flank. Photo by L. Fugura; courtesy of IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

According to KVERT weekly reports, the Aviation Color Code for Alaid was Green (Volcano is in normal, non-eruptive state) throughout the reporting period. The only reported activity was from the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, which reported that on 21 August 2018, an ash plume identified in Himawari-8 satellite images rose to an altitude of 2.7 km (about 500 m above the summit) and drifted SE. The plume was clearly visible on imagery starting at 0830 Japan Standard Time (UTC + 9 hours), and remained noticeable for at least 4 hours. There were no other satellite or ground-based observations of this activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Himawari-8 satellite image from 21 August 2018 at 1030 JST (UTC + 9 hours) showing a small ash plume drifting SE from Alaid towards Paramushir Island. Alaid is the small island NW of the larger Paramushi Island and directly W of the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Courtesy of Himawari-8 Real-time Web.

Geologic Background. The highest and northernmost volcano of the Kuril Islands, 2285-m-high Alaid is a symmetrical stratovolcano when viewed from the north, but has a 1.5-km-wide summit crater that is breached widely to the south. Alaid is the northernmost of a chain of volcanoes constructed west of the main Kuril archipelago. Numerous pyroclastic cones dot the lower flanks of this basaltic to basaltic-andesite volcano, particularly on the NW and SE sides, including an offshore cone formed during the 1933-34 eruption. Strong explosive eruptions have occurred from the summit crater beginning in the 18th century. Reports of eruptions in 1770, 1789, 1821, 1829, 1843, 1848, and 1858 were considered incorrect by Gorshkov (1970). Explosive eruptions in 1790 and 1981 were among the largest in the Kuril Islands during historical time.

Information Contacts: Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/); Himawari-8 Real-time Web, developed by the NICT Science Cloud project in NICT (National Institute of Information and Communications Technology), Japan, in collaboration with JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency) and CEReS (Center of Environmental Remote Sensing, Chiba University) (URL: https://himawari8.nict.go.jp/).


Aira (Japan) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Activity increased at Minamidake and decreased at Showa crater in early 2018

Sakurajima is a persistently active volcano within the Aira caldera in Kyushu, Japan. The two currently active summit craters are Showa and Minamidake, both of which produce intermittent ash plumes and occasional pyroclastic flows. This report summarizes the activity from January through June 2018 as described in reports issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

The volcano remains on Alert Level 3 (out of five). A change in activity occurred in late 2017 to early 2018, with a reduction in activity at the Showa crater and a significant increase in activity at the Minamidake crater (table 19 and figure 63). During January through June 2018 a total of 260 explosions were recorded at Minamidake (135 of these were explosive), and four at Showa. Pyroclastic flows were produced on 1 April from Showa crater that travelled 800 m, and a flow reached 1,300 m from Minamidake crater on 16 June. Periodic incandescence was visible at the summit throughout the reporting period.

Table 19. Eruptive events and pyroclastic flows recorded at the active craters of Sakurajima volcano in Aira caldera. The number of events that were explosive in nature are in parentheses. Data courtesy of JMA (January to June 2018 monthly reports).

Month No. of ash emissions at Showa crater No. of ash emissions at Minamidake crater Pyroclastic flows
Jan 2018 1 12 (4) --
Feb 2018 0 7 (3) --
Mar 2018 0 44 (17) --
Apr 2018 3 66 (50) 800 m E from Showa.
May 2018 0 96 (48) --
Jun 2018 0 35 (13) 1,300 m SW from Minamidake.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. The number of monthly explosions at Minamidake (upper) and Showa (lower) craters of Sakurajima, Aira caldera. The first half of 2018 has seen a dramatic increase in activity at Minamidake, and a decrease in activity at Showa crater. Grey bars indicate eruptions and red bars specify explosive eruptions. Note that the scale on the two graphs are different. Courtesy of JMA (June 2018 monthly report).

In January 2018, one ash emission occurred at Showa crater and twelve occurred at Minamidake, with four of these classified as explosive eruptions. The largest ash plume reached 2,500 m above the crater on the 18th and two explosions ejected material out to a maximum of 700-800 m from the craters. Through February, three of seven ash emissions at Minamidake were explosive. The largest ash plume occurred on the 19th and reached 1,500 m above the crater. On the 27th, the crater ejected material out to 700 m from the crater.

Through March, 44 ash emissions occurred with 17 of these classified as explosive events. The largest ash plume was produced on the 26th and reached 3,400 m above the crater. An explosive eruption on 10 March ejected material out to 1,300 m from the crater. During April, Minamidake produced 66 ash emission; 50 of these were explosive (figure 64). Showa produced three events in total and an event on 1 April produced a pyroclastic flow that traveled 800 m to the E (figure 65).The largest ash plume was from Minamidake that reached 3,400 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. True color Sentinel-2 satellite image of an ash plume at Sakurajima, Aira caldera, at 1056 on 12 April. The Tokyo VAAC reported that the plume that reached an altitude of 2.4 km. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. Eruption of the Sakurajima Showa crater (within the Aira caldera) at 1611 on 1 April. The ash plume rose to 1,700 m above the crater and the pyroclastic flow (circled) travelled 800 m to the east. Image taken by the Kaigata webcam, courtesy of JMA (April 2018 monthly report).

Elevated activity continued at Minamidake through May, with 96 ash emissions (48 explosive), and the highest reported ash plume reaching 3,200 m above the crater on the 24th. An explosion on 5 May scattered ejecta out to 1,300 m from the crater. Activity was reduced in June with 35 ash emissions (13 explosive) from Minamidake, with an explosive event on the 16th producing an ash plume to 4,700 m above the crater and a pyroclastic flow out to 1,300 m (figure 66). This event deposited ash on nearby communities.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Eruption at the Sakurajima Minamidake crater (at Aira caldera) at 1607 on 16 June. The ash plume rose to 4,700 m above the crater and the pyroclastic flow (circled) traveled 1,300 m. Image captured by the Kaigata surveillance camera, courtesy of JMA (June 2018 monthly report).

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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Suwanosejima (Japan) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

29.638°N, 129.714°E; summit elev. 796 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash emission continues from January through June 2018

Suwanosejima volcano is located in the northern Ryukyu Islands in the south of Japan and has been on Alert Level 2 since December 2007. This report is a summary of activity for the period January to June 2018 and is based on information from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) along with Tokyo VAAC notices.

During the reporting period, the active Ontake crater produced intermittent explosions that scattered ejecta around the crater and ash plumes to an altitude of 1.5-3 km. Ashfall was reported in a village 4 km away on 10 days during January-May 2018 (table 14). Incandescence was visible at night using monitoring equipment. Ash plumes were noted by the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) throughout the reporting period (figure 32, table 15).

Table 14. Reported explosion information for Suwanosejima recorded in JMA monthly reports.

Month No. of explosions Max plume height (m above crater) Dates of ashfall in village 4 km SSW No. of seismic events Other daily activity detail
Jan 2018 0 1,100 27, 31 97 Incandescence at night.
Feb 2018 1 1,100 2, 3 100 Incandescence at night.
Mar 2018 9 2,200 25, 29 251 Incandescence at night. Ejecta scattered around the crater.
Apr 2018 8 2,000 18, 28, 29 62 Incandescence at night.
May 2018 2 1,100 14 90 Incandescence at night. Ejecta scattered around the crater.
Jun 2018 -- 900 -- 275 Incandescence at night.

Table 15. Number of Volcanic Ash Advisories, explosion dates, and plume heights for activity at Suwanosejima. The numbers in parentheses indicate the number of events on that date; the VAACs issued column does not include advisories that note a continued episode. Drift directions were highly variable. Data courtesy of Tokyo VAAC.

Month VAAs issued VAA dates Plume heights
Jan 2018 1 15 1.8 km
Feb 2018 1 2 1.2 km
Mar 2018 22 17, 22(3), 23, 25(2), 26(5), 27(5), 28(3), 29(2) 1.2-3.6 km
Apr 2018 16 1, 2, 3, 4(4), 5(2), 8, 11, 24, 27, 28(2) 1.2-2.4 km
May 2018 3 1, 4, 15 1-1.8 km
Jun 2018 1 1 --
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. An ash plume at Suwanosejima reached 1 km above the crater on 3 February 2018. Image captured by the Kyanpuba webcam, courtesy of JMA (February 2018 monthly report).

Geologic Background. The 8-km-long, spindle-shaped island of Suwanosejima in the northern Ryukyu Islands consists of an andesitic stratovolcano with two historically active summit craters. The summit of the volcano is truncated by a large breached crater extending to the sea on the east flank that was formed by edifice collapse. Suwanosejima, one of Japan's most frequently active volcanoes, was in a state of intermittent strombolian activity from Otake, the NE summit crater, that began in 1949 and lasted until 1996, after which periods of inactivity lengthened. The largest historical eruption took place in 1813-14, when thick scoria deposits blanketed residential areas, and the SW crater produced two lava flows that reached the western coast. At the end of the eruption the summit of Otake collapsed forming a large debris avalanche and creating the horseshoe-shaped Sakuchi caldera, which extends to the eastern coast. The island remained uninhabited for about 70 years after the 1813-1814 eruption. Lava flows reached the eastern coast of the island in 1884. Only about 50 people live on the island.

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/).


Etna (Italy) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3295 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Degassing continues, accompanied by intermittent ash emissions and small Strombolian explosions in June and July 2018

Etna is the tallest active volcano in continental Europe with persistent activity at multiple summit craters and vents. The active craters are Bocca Nuova and Voragine within the Central Crater, the Northeast Crater, Southeast Crater, and the New Southeast Crater (figure 217). This report summarizes activity from April to July 2018 and is based on reports by the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 217. The active summit craters of Etna volcano: the Bocca Nuova and Voragine craters that occupy the older Central Crater, the Northeast Crater (Cratere di Nord-Est), Southeast Crater (Cratere di Sud-Est), and the New Southeast Crater (Nuovo Cratere di Sud-Est). The years given in parentheses indicate when the craters formed. Photo by Marco Neri, courtesy of INGV (19 July 2018 blog).

Activity through April was characterized by degassing at the summit craters (figure 218), with modest ash emissions from the New Southeast Crater and Northeast Crater in the first week, and occasional small ash emissions at the end of the month. Reduced activity dominated by degassing continued into May with modest ash emission from the Southeast and Northeast craters during the second week, and isolated ash emissions from the Northeast Crater in the second half of the month continuing into June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 218. Degassing at the Bocca Nuova crater at the summit of Etna in late April. The top image is a photograph of the crater with the location of the bottom image, which is a thermal image showing the degassing and temperature at the vent reaching over 400°C. Courtesy of INGV (Weekly report No. 18/2018 for 24 to 30 April 2018, issued on 2 May 2018).

Throughout June the activity consisted of degassing at the summit craters with isolated diffuse ash emission from Northeast Crater (figure 219). This continued through to July until low-energy Strombolian activity commenced in the Bocca Nuova (from two vents) and Northeast craters (figures 220 and 221). The Strombolian explosions were small, lasting up to several tens of seconds, and were sometimes accompanied by red-brown ash emission. The ejected material was confined to within the craters. More energetic bursts were visible from the INGV surveillance camera located in Milo.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 219. Photos of isolated dilute red-brown ash emissions from the Etna Northeast Crater on the 6 and 8 June. Courtesy of INGV (Report No. 24/2018 for the period 4 to 10 June 2018, issued on 12 June 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 220. A sequence of thermal infrared images of a Strombolian explosion at the Etna Bocca Nuova crater on 17 July 2018. Two vents are active (A and B), with vent B ejecting lava up to a few tens of meters above the vent. The color scale on the right of the images indicates the temperature in Celsius. Images taken by Giuseppe Salerno, courtesy of INGV (24 July 2018 INGV blog).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 221. Photos of Strombolian explosions at the base of the Etna Northeast Crater on 20 and 21 July 2018. The explosions occur when gas pockets burst and eject incandescent fluid lava above the vent. Photo by Michele Mammino, courtesy of INGV (24 July 2018 blog).

Geologic Background. Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily's second largest city, has one of the world's longest documented records of historical volcanism, dating back to 1500 BCE. Historical lava flows of basaltic composition cover much of the surface of this massive volcano, whose edifice is the highest and most voluminous in Italy. The Mongibello stratovolcano, truncated by several small calderas, was constructed during the late Pleistocene and Holocene over an older shield volcano. The most prominent morphological feature of Etna is the Valle del Bove, a 5 x 10 km horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the east. Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur, sometimes simultaneously. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more summit craters. Flank vents, typically with higher effusion rates, are less frequently active and originate from fissures that open progressively downward from near the summit (usually accompanied by Strombolian eruptions at the upper end). Cinder cones are commonly constructed over the vents of lower-flank lava flows. Lava flows extend to the foot of the volcano on all sides and have reached the sea over a broad area on the SE flank.

Information Contacts: Sezione di Catania - Osservatorio Etneo, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/it/); Blog INGVvulcani, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) (URL: http://ingvvulcani.wordpress.com).


Stromboli (Italy) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued Strombolian activity from five active summit vents through March-June 2018

Stromboli is a persistently active volcano in the Aeolian Islands, Italy, with confirmed historical eruptions going back over about 2,000 years. The active summit craters on the crater terrace are situated above the Sciara del Fuoco, a steep talus slope on the NW side of the island that leads to the Tyrrhenian Sea below. The NE crater (Area N) includes the active N1 and N2 vents, while the Central and SW craters (Area CS) contains the C, S1, and S2 vents (figures 125 and 126).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 125. False color thermal Sentinel-2 satellite image of Stromboli volcano with the locations of the Sciara del Fuoco and the active craters and vents. Four of the active vents are visible in this image as bright yellow-orange areas. Image acquired on 27 June 2018 and processed using bands 12, 11, 4. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 126. Thermal image of the Stromboli crater terrace area showing the N (area N), and the central and S (area CS) craters with the active vents. Image taken by the Pizzo webcam, courtesy of INGV (report number 11/2018 for the period 5 to 11 March, released on 13 March 2018).

Typical activity comprises degassing and multiple explosions per hour that range from tens of seconds to a few minutes, known as Strombolian activity, which is named after this particular volcano (figure 127). The activity usually consists of low-intensity explosions that eject material (ash, lapilli, and blocks) up to 80 m above the crater and medium-low intensity explosions that eject material up to 120 m above the crater. This report describes the activity at Stromboli through March to June 2018 and summarizes reports published by the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 127. The daily frequency of explosions per hour produced by all the active vents at Stromboli during the period 1 January to 2 July 2018. Red indicates explosions within the N crater, green indicates activity at the central-S craters, and blue indicates the number of total events. Courtesy of INGV (report number 27/2018 for the period 25 June to 7 July, released on 3 July 2018).

Characteristic Strombolian activity occurred throughout March, typically consisting of 5-11 events per hour that ejected material up to 120 m above the craters. High-energy explosive events occurred on 7 and 18 March, both lasting around 40 seconds and ejecting material to a height of 400 m (figures 128 and 129).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 128. A high-energy explosive event on 7 March 2018 at the N2 vent of Stromboli. Top images (frames a to c) are thermal images, with the corresponding visible images across the bottom (frames d to f). Images were taken by the Pizzo webcams, courtesy of INGV (report number 11/2018 for the period 5 to 11 March, released on 13 March 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 129. Thermal infrared images of the high-energy explosive event on 18 March 2018 at Stromboli. The images show approximately 40 seconds of the explosive sequence recorded by the Pizzo webcam, courtesy of INGV (report number 12/2018 for the period 12 to 18 March, released on 20 March 2018).

Typical Strombolian activity continued through April with 6-12 explosive events per hour, with two high-energy explosive events on 24 and 26 April that lasted nine and three minutes, respectively. Both events ejected material across the Sciara del Fuoco, producing ash plumes and lava fountaining (figure 130). Low to medium-low intensity activity continued through May and June, with explosions per hour in the range of 3-15 and 6-13, respectively.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 130. INGV noted an intense explosive sequence on 26 April 2018 at Stromboli. Top images (frames A to C) show the thermal signature of the explosion; bottom images (frames G to I) are the corresponding visible images. The sequence produced abundant ash, incandescent material, lava fountaining, and ejected large blocks to a height of 250 m above the vent that then fell around the crater and on the Sciara del Fuoco. Courtesy of the INGV (Blog INGVvulcani entry for 16 July 2018).

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/); Blog INGVvulcani, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) (URL: https://ingvvulcani.wordpress.com/2018/07/16/stromboli-e-le-sue-esplosioni/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Agung (Indonesia) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Agung

Indonesia

8.343°S, 115.508°E; summit elev. 2997 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash explosions and lava dome effusion continue during January-July 2018

After a large, deadly explosive and effusive eruption during 1963-64, Indonesia's Mount Agung was quiet until a new eruption began in November 2017 (BGVN 43:01). A lava dome emerged into the summit crater at the end of November and intermittent plumes of ash rose as high as 3 km above the summit through the end of the year. Activity continued into 2018 with explosions that produced ash plumes rising multiple kilometers above the summit, and the growth of the lava dome within the summit crater. Information about the ongoing eruptive episode comes from Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), also known as the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and multiple sources of satellite data. This report covers the ongoing eruption from January through July 2018.

Intermittent explosions with ash plumes were reported at Agung several times during January 2018, including Strombolian activity on 19 January. Activity decreased significantly by the end of the month; only one explosion with ash was reported during February. Two ash plumes were reported in March and three were reported each month during April and May. A more substantial explosion in mid-June produced an ash plume that rose to 7 km altitude. A series of deep-seated earthquakes during the third week of June was followed by large explosions and new effusions of lava inside the summit crater beginning on 28 June. A strong thermal signal also appeared on 28 June that gradually diminished during July. Intermittent plumes of steam and ash recurred daily until 19 July; plume heights rose up to 3 km above the summit on several occasions. Strombolian explosions on 2 and 8 July sent ejecta as far as 2 km from the summit. Explosive activity became more intermittent during the last two weeks of the month; the last reported explosion was on 27 July.

Activity during January-May 2018. During most days of January 2018 when fog was not obscuring the summit, PVMGB reported plumes of steam and minor ash rising about 500 m above the summit. In addition, intermittent explosions produced higher, denser ash plumes that rose 1,000-2,500 m above the summit several times. Ash plumes on 1 and 2 January rose to 1,000 and 1,500 m above the summit; incandescence was observed at the summit on both nights, and trace ashfall was reported at the Rendang Post on 2 January. The Darwin VAAC reported the ash plume on 1 January at 6.1 km altitude moving SW. A single MODVOLC thermal alert was recorded on 4 January. On 5 January PVMGB lowered the evacuation radius from 10 to 6 km, permitting the return of thousands of displaced people to their homes. Approximately 17,000 people in seven villages within 6 km of Agung were still under evacuation orders from the events of late 2017.

The Agung Volcano Observatory issued VONA's (Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation) on 4, 8, 9, 11, 15, 17, 19, 23, 24, and 30 January relating to the larger explosions and ash plumes. On 11 January, an ash plume rose to 2,500 m above the summit and drifted N and NE (figure 29). Another 2,500-m-high ash plume on 19 January was accompanied by Strombolian activity at the summit for several hours, and incandescent ejecta that traveled 1,000 m from the crater. Ashfall was later reported in Tulamben village in the Kubu district (9 km NE) and in Purwekerti village in the Abang district (14 km ENE). Visual monitoring using drones carried out on 22 January showed that the volume of the lava dome was relatively unchanged at around 20 million m3. The summit was obscured by fog for the last week of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. An eruption at Agung on 11 January 2018 sent an ash plume to 2,500 m above the summit. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia and PVMBG (Erupsi Gunung Agung 11 Januari 2018 17:54 WITA).

Activity decreased noticeably in late January and February. Steam and minor ash plumes rose only 50-800 m above the summit for most of the month. As a result of the decrease in activity, PVMBG lowered the Alert Level from Level IV to Level III (on a four-level scale) on 10 February 2018. The radius of evacuation was also lowered from 6 to 4 km. A single explosion on 14 February sent an ash plume to 1,500 m above the summit.

For most of March 2018, steam plumes rose less than 400 m above the summit. VONA's were issued by the Agung Volcano Observatory for ash plumes twice, on 12 March (local time) when a plume rose 800 m above the summit and drifted E, and on 26 March when the ash plume rose to 500 m and drifted NW. During much of April 2018, steam plumes rose less than 300 m above the summit; weather obscured views of the summit for most of the last week of the month. AVO issued VONA's for ash plumes on 6, 11 and 30 April; the plumes on 6 and 11 April rose 500 m and drifted W and SW respectively. The Darwin VAAC reported a series of four short-lived explosions with ash plumes on 11 April; they each dissipated within a few hours. PVMBG reported another explosion on 15 April that produced an ash plume that also rose 500 m. The plume on 30 April rose 1,500 m and drifted SW.

Similar activity persisted throughout May 2018. Steam plumes generally rose 50-100 m above the summit crater each day. In addition, explosions were reported on 9, 19, and 29 May. PVMBG reported that no ash plume was observed on 9 May, due to fog obscuring the summit, but the ash plume on 19 May rose to 1,000 m above the summit and drifted SE, and the ash plume on 29 May rose 500 m and drifted SW.

Activity during June and July 2018. The volcano was covered in fog for much of the first two weeks of June. A short-lived explosion on 10 June 2018 was reported by PVMBG, but meteoric clouds obscured the summit. The Darwin VAAC noted the plume in a satellite image drifting W at about 4.6 km altitude. An explosion on 13 June produced an ash plume that rose 2,000 m above the summit and drifted WSW (figure 30). Another explosion was recorded on 15 June, but the summit was obscured, and no ash cloud was visible to ground observers. However, the Darwin VAAC reported the plume visible in satellite imagery at 7 km altitude (about 4 km above the summit) drifting SW and S for most of the day before dissipating. Ashfall was reported about 7 km W in the village of Puregai. PVMBG reported white and gray emissions on 17 June that rose 500 m.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. An ash plume at Agung on 13 June 2018 rose about 2,000 m above the summit and drifted WSW. View is looking N. Courtesy of PVMBG (Information on G. Agung Eruption, 13 June 2018).

An explosion during the evening (local time) of 27 June 2018 produced an ash plume that rose 2,000 m from the summit and drifted W. Another explosion the following morning produced a sustained ash cloud that lasted for several hours and again caused ashfall around the village of Puregai. It rose to about 2,000 m above the summit and drifted W and SW (figure 31).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. A sustained ash eruption began early on 28 June 2018 at Agung (top) and lasted well into the afternoon (bottom). Photo from a PBVBG webcam, posted on Twitter by Sutopo Purwo Nugroho‏ (BNPB).

PVMBG noted in late June that inflation of 5 mm had occurred since 13 May 2018. They reported that the ash plumes on 28 June caused some airlines to cancel flights to Bali, and ashfall was reported in several villages in Bangli and areas to the W and SW the following day (figure 32). The International Gusti Ngurah Rai (IGNR) airport (60 km SW) in Denpasar, the Blimbing Sari Airport (128 km W) in Banyuwangi, and the Noto Hadinegoro Airport (200 km W) in Jember closed for portions of the day on 29 June (ANTARA News).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Settlement and plantation areas were coated with ash from Mount Agung in Pemuteran Village (10 km W) on 29 June 2018. Courtesy of Tempo.com and ANTARA/Nyoman Budhiana.

Incandescence overnight on 28-29 June indicated fresh effusions of lava at the summit; they were accompanied by ash emissions that rose 1,500-2,500 m. Thermal satellite images recorded on 29 June indicated significant hotspots within the crater with thermal energy reaching 819 Megawatts; this was the largest amount of thermal energy recorded during the 2017-2018 activity, significantly higher than the maximum recorded of 97 Megawatts reached at the end of November 2017. The MIROVA data clearly reflected the sudden surge of thermal energy into the summit crater at the end of June (figure 33).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. A large spike in thermal energy beginning on 28 June 2018 signaled a new surge of lava into the summit crater at Agung. This MIROVA plot of Log Radiative Power showed pulses of activity in early January, May, and early June, followed by the much larger surge of heat in late June that tapered off throughout July. Inset shows the nighttime incandescence on 28 June 2018 that resulted from the new effusion of lava. Photo taken at the PGMBG Webcam in Batu Lompeh (15 km N). Graph courtesy of MIROVA, photo courtesy of PVMBG (Press Release of Mount Agung's Latest Activities, June 29 to 3:00 p.m.)

The Darwin VAAC reported continuous emissions of ash beginning on 28 June that drifted to the W for over 24 hours. The height was initially reported by ground observers at 3.7 km altitude but was raised to 7 km altitude a few hours later, based on satellite imagery and pilot reports. By late that day, an upper plume (at 7 km) drifted SW and a second plume drifted W at 5.5 km altitude. By late on 29 June the continuous ash plume was drifting NW at 4.9 km altitude; it finally dissipated early on 30 June. In addition to large ash plumes and a major thermal anomaly, a substantial SO2 plume also emerged from Agung on 28-29 June 2018. The plume drifted W over Java and then dispersed to the NW over the next 24 hours (figure 34). A lingering, smaller plume was still visible two days later.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. A substantial SO2 plume was released from Agung during 28-29 June 2018 and captured by both the OMPS instrument on the Suomi satellite (upper images) and the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite (lower images). The plume first appeared on 28 June (top left) and was much larger the next day (top right). By 30 June it was dissipating over Java to the W and N (bottom left). A smaller plume drifted SW two days later (bottom right). Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

A series of discrete eruptions lasting from late on 30 June through 2 July 2018 produced ash plumes that rose from 3.7 to 5.5 km altitude and drifted NW and W, according to the Darwin VAAC. Effusive activity continued to increase during the first week of July 2018 with the continued growth of the lava dome in the summit crater. PVMBG reported an additional volume of lava of 4 million m3 erupted from 28 June through the middle of July bringing the size of the dome to about 27 million m3. The frequency of explosions peaked on 2 July when Strombolian activity sent incandescent ejecta 2 km from the summit in all directions (figure 35).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. The eruption of Mount Agung on 2 July 2017 produced Strombolian activity and incandescent ejecta that traveled 2 km from the summit crater in all directions. Courtesy of ANTARA News/HO/BMKG.

Several VONA's issued during 2-3 July reported multiple explosions that sent ash plumes 700-2,000 m above the summit. Eighteen explosions were reported by PVMBG between 1 and 8 July. The Darwin VAAC noted a substantial explosion early on 2 July that produced a plume that rose to 7.6 km altitude and drifted W. The remains of the ash plume were discernable in satellite imagery about 250 km W of Agung by the end of the day. The ash plume on 4 July rose 2,500 m above the summit (figure 36).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. An explosion at Agung on 4 July 2018 produced an ash plume that rose 2,500 m above the summit, according to PVMBG. Courtesy of PVMBG (Information on G. Agung Eruption, July 4, 2018).

Strombolian activity was reported again on 8 July 2018 (figure 37). The Darwin VAAC reported intermittent explosions every day from 3-19 July, with ash plumes rising to altitudes from 3.7 to 6.7 km. Additional explosions were reported on 21, 24, 25, and 27 July (figure 38); ash plumes rose 700-2,000 m and drifted W or SE. MODVOLC thermal alerts resumed on 27 June, and multiple daily alerts persisted on most days through the end of July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Strombolian activity at Agung recurred for the third time in 2018 on 8 July 2018. Courtesy of PVMBG (Agung Strombolian Eruption Today July 8, 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. A dense ash plume rose about 2,000 m above Mount Agung on 27 July 2018 at 1406 local time. Courtesy of PVMBG (Information on G. Agung Eruption, 27 July 2018).

Geologic Background. Symmetrical Agung stratovolcano, Bali's highest and most sacred mountain, towers over the eastern end of the island. The volcano, whose name means "Paramount," rises above the SE caldera rim of neighboring Batur volcano, and the northern and southern flanks extend to the coast. The summit area extends 1.5 km E-W, with the high point on the W and a steep-walled 800-m-wide crater on the E. The Pawon cone is located low on the SE flank. Only a few eruptions dating back to the early 19th century have been recorded in historical time. The 1963-64 eruption, one of the largest in the 20th century, produced voluminous ashfall along with devastating pyroclastic flows and lahars that caused extensive damage and many fatalities.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); 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: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sutopo Purwo Nugroho?, BNPB, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/Sutopo_PN); TEMPO.CO, Tempo Building, Jl. Palmerah Barat No. 8, South Jakarta 12210, Indonesia (URL: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1102118/pvmbg-energi-thermal-erupsi-gunung-agung-kali-ini-paling-besar); ANTARANEWS.com, ANTARA guesthouse lt 19, Jalan Merdeka Selatan No. 17, Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia, (URL: https://en.antaranews.com).


Fernandina (Ecuador) — August 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 eruptive episode 16-22 June 2018, lava flows down N flank into the ocean

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 September 2017 lasted for about one week and originated from a fissure at the SW rim of the caldera. A new eruption in June 2018 lasted for less than a week and originated from a fissure on the N flank of the volcano. Information about the latest eruption was provided by Ecuador's Institudo Geofisica, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), the Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos (PNG), the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and several sources of satellite data.

A seismic swarm on 16 June 2018 preceded a brief eruptive episode at Fernandina that lasted from 16 to 22 June. Lava erupted from a radial fissure and quickly flowed to the sea down the N flank. Emissions were primarily gas with low ash content and included substantial SO2. After two days of activity, seismicity returned to background levels on 18 June. Park Officials reported only cooling flows and lava no longer entering the sea by 21 June 2018.

Eruption of June 2018. The first evidence of a new eruptive event at Fernandina began as a seismic swarm on 16 June 2018. The largest event (M 4.1) was located 4 km off the NE flank of the island. An active eruption was confirmed a few hours later by guides on a passing boat and by satellite images which indicated a thermal anomaly on the N flank. The eruption consisted of a lava flow on the NNE flank and a gas plume that rose 2-3 km and drifted SW (figure 32). The lava flow quickly reached the ocean, generating steam and gas explosions that were visible from Canal Bolívar, the narrow channel on the NE side of Isla Fernandina that separates it from Isla Isabela (figure 33).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Lava from a new eruption at Fernandina flowed quickly down the N flank of the island to the ocean on 16 June 2018, according to Parque Nacional Galapagos officials. Courtesy of Parque Nacional Galapagos.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Explosions produced large plumes of steam as lava reached the ocean on the N flank of Fernandina on 16 June 2018. Courtesy of Parque Nacional Galapagos.

Observations by PNG officials and visitors indicated that lava flows came from a radial fissure on the NNE flank, and produced gas plumes with low ash content that rose 2-3 km and drifted more than 250 km WNW (figures 34 and 35). The Washington VAAC detected an ash and gas plume in visible satellite imagery drifting W from the summit at 2.4 km altitude late in the day on 16 June, along with a significant thermal signature in infrared imagery. A second gas-and-ash plume at the same altitude drifted WNW the following day for a few hours before dissipating. After two days of intense eruptive activity, seismic tremor activity had declined significantly to background levels by noon on 18 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Incandescent lava flows from the eruption of Fernandina produced large plumes of water vapor as they reached the sea during the evening of 16 June 2018. Courtesy of Parque Nacional Galapagos.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Incandescent lava reached the sea during 16-18 June 2018 at Fernandina from a brief eruptive episode. The lava flowed down the N flank. Courtesy of CNH Tours, posted 20 June 2018.

‏A strong pulse of SO2 emissions that drifted W was recorded by satellite instruments on 17 and 18 June 2018 (figure 36). The MODVOLC thermal alert system also recorded a surge of over 100 thermal anomalies from infrared satellite imagery that lasted from 17 to 22 June. More than half of the anomalies appeared on 17 June. The alert pixels were all clustered on the N flank. The MIROVA system also record the spike in thermal activity on 17 June and indicated that the heat source was more than 5 km from the summit (figure 37).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. A strong pulse of SO2 issued from Fernandina on 17 June 2018 and was recorded by the OMPS instrument on the SUOMI NPP satellite. The plume drifted W and measured at about 27 Dobson Units (DU). Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. The MIROVA system log radiative power measurement for Fernandina showed a spike of thermal activity on 16-17 June 2018 that coincided with the fissure eruption that sent lava flows down the N flank of the volcano into the sea. The black bars indicate a heat source more than 5 km from the summit. The MODVOLC thermal alert system detected over 100 thermal alerts at Fernandina between 17 and 22 June 2018, concurring with observations of lava flows on the N flank of the volcano. Courtesy of MIROVA and MODVOLC.

By 21 June 2018 PNG officials reported that lava was no longer reaching the ocean, but steam from cooling flows was visible at the coastline and over the area of the new flows (figure 38).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. By 21 June 2018 active lava flows were no longer reaching the ocean at Fernandina, although steam from cooling lava was still visible near the coast and along the N flank. Courtesy of Parque Nacional Galapagos.

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), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos (DPNG), Av. Charles Darwin y S/N, Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador (URL: http://www.galapagos.gob.ec/, Twitter: @parquegalapagos); 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/); 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/); Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours, Galapagos, (CNH Tours), 14 Kilbarry Crescent, Ottawa, Ontario, K1K 0G8, Canada (URL: https://www.cnhtours.com/, Twitter: @CNHtours).


Fuego (Guatemala) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Fuego

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Pyroclastic flows on 3 June 2018 cause at least 110 fatalities, 197 missing, and extensive damage; ongoing ash explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars

Guatemala's Volcán de Fuego was continuously active throughout the first half of 2018; it has been erupting vigorously since 2002 with historical observations of eruptions dating back to 1531. These eruptions have resulted in major ashfalls, pyroclastic flows, lava flows, and damaging lahars. Large explosions with a significant number of fatalities occurred during 3-5 June 2018 and are covered in this report of activity from January-June 2018. Reports are provided by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH) and the National Office of Disaster Management (CONRED); 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. Numerous media outlets provided photographs of the eruptive activity.

Summary of activity, January-June 2018. The first eruptive event of 2018 occurred during 31 January-1 February and lasted for about 20 hours. It included pyroclastic flows, lava flows, incandescent ejecta, ash plumes that rose to 7 km altitude, and ashfall more than 60 km from the volcano. Four lava flows emerged during the event, and the longest traveled 1,500 m down the Seca ravine. Multiple daily explosions that generated ash plumes continued through May 2018. Ash plumes usually rose to 4.2-4.9 km altitude (400-1,200 m above the summit) and drifted up to about 15 km from the volcano in the prevailing wind directions. Ashfall was often reported from communities within 10 km of the summit, most commonly to the W and SW, but also occasionally to the N and NE. Incandescent ejecta rose up to 300 m above the summit during periods of increased activity; block avalanches of the incandescent material descended the major drainages on all flanks, often as far as the vegetated areas several hundred m below the summit.

The first lahar of the year was reported on 9 April; additional lahars occurred several times during May after rainy periods. They were generally 20-30 m wide and 1-2 m deep, carrying debris 1-2 m in diameter. A lava flow was active in the Ceniza ravine for the second half of May, moving up to 1,000 m from the summit during heightened activity on 22 May, and again on 2 June.

The second major eruptive event of 2018, and the largest and deadliest explosive activity in recent history at Fuego, began with a strong explosion on the morning of 3 June 2018. Multiple explosions throughout the day produced an ash plume that was observed in satellite data at 15.2 km altitude, and a strong SO2 plume that drifted N and NE. Numerous large pyroclastic flows generated by the explosions throughout the day descended multiple ravines around the flanks. The most heavily damaged communities were San Miguel Los Lotes and El Rodeo, 10 km SE of the summit at the base of Las Lajas ravine. Most infrastructure in the communities was buried in ash; there were 110 reported fatalities, and at least 197 people reported missing and presumed dead. Additional explosions two days later caused a brief halt in recovery efforts as more pyroclastic flows covered the same area.

Abundant rainfall that began on 6 June 2018 led to over 30 lahars throughout the rest of the month, inundating all of the major ravines and tributaries of the Rio Pantaleón and Rio Gobernador and causing additional infrastructure damage to bridges and roads. The lahars were often 30-40 m wide, 3 m deep, and carried volcanic blocks and debris up to 3 m in diameter. Explosive activity declined to background levels by the middle of June, but daily explosions with ash plumes and incandescent avalanche blocks continued for the remainder of the month, with continued reports of ashfall in communities within 15 km of the summit.

Activity during January-February 2018. During January 2018, plumes of steam rose to 4.3-4.5 km altitude, drifting primarily W, SW, and S. Activity included 3 to 8 explosions per hour that generated ash plumes, which rose to about 4.3-4.8 km altitude (figure 82). Explosions on 19 January increased to 7-13 per hour, and produced ash plumes that drifted more than 15 km W, SW, and S. Incandescent ejecta rose 100-300 m above the crater and traveled up to 400 m from the crater, in some cases reaching vegetated areas. The SW flank was the most affected by ashfall; it was reported in the communities of San Pedro Yepocapa, Escuintla, Sangre de Cristo, Finca Palo Verde, El Porvenir, Santa Sofía, Morelia, Paniché I and II, Rochela, and Ceilán. Block avalanches traveled down the Seca, Taniluyá, Cenizas and Las Lajas ravines. On 28 January, seismic station FG3 registered an increase in pulses of tremor activity. MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued during 17 days in January. The Washington VAAC issued multiple daily aviation alerts on 22 days of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. Moderate explosions produced a plume of ash at Fuego on 14 January 2018 that drifted W a few hundred meters above the summit, seen in this view from SW of the volcano. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe mensual de la actividad del Volcan de Fuego, Enero 2018).

The first major eruptive event of 2018 occurred during 31 January-1 February and lasted for about 20 hours. It included pyroclastic flows, lava flows, incandescent ejecta, ash plumes that rose to 7 km altitude, and ashfall more than 60 km W, SW, and NE from the volcano (figure 83). Explosive activity increased to 5-8 events per hour, incandescent material rose up to 300 m above the crater, and ejecta traveled 300 m.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. The first major eruptive event of 2018 at Fuego produced ash plumes, pyroclastic flows, lava flows and incandescent ejecta on 1 February. Photo taken from the N (adjacent Acatenango in the foreground) by Ruben Merida, courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de la Actividad del Volcan de Fuego, Febrero 2018).

The substantial ash plume produced from the event drifted tens of kilometers to the W and SW (figures 84 and 85). The SW flank was the area most affected by ashfall, where communities of San Pedro Yepocapa and Escuintla, Sangre de Cristo, Palo Verde, El Porvenir, Santa Sofia, Morelia, Paniché I and II are located. Ashfall also occurred 10-25 km NE in La Rochela, San Andrés Osuna, La Reina, Ciudad Vieja, Antigua Guatemala, and in the WSW part of Guatemala City.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. A dense ash plume drifts W and SW from Fuego on 1 February 2018. Image taken by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A closeup of Fuego (see box in figure 84) on 1 February 2018 shows an ash plume drifting W and fresh ash and pyroclastic flow deposits around the summit during the first major eruptive event of 2019. Image taken by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Four lava flows emerged during the eruptive event; a 1,500-m-long flow traveled down the Seca ravine, a 700-m-long flow traveled down the Ceniza ravine, and flows in Las Lajas and La Honda canyons traveled 800 m from the summit. Numerous pyroclastic flows also descended the Honda and Seca ravines, and smaller pyroclastic flows descended the Trinidad and Las Lajas ravines (figure 86).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Pyroclastic flows descended short distances down several ravines (barrancas) at Fuego on 1 February 2018. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de la Actividad del Volcan de Fuego, Febrero 2018).

La Honda ravine had not been affected by pyroclastic flows since 1974; they traveled 5.8 km down that ravine (figure 87), and 4.2 km down the Seca ravine. About 2,880 residents of Escuintla (20 km SE) and Alotenango (8 km E) were evacuated during these events. Significant concentrations of SO2 were detected on 1 February by the Ozone Mapper Profiler Suite (OMPS) on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP) satellite (figure 88).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Pyroclastic flow deposits covered several kilometers of barranca La Honda on 6 February 2018 from the events which occurred on 1 February. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de la Actividad del Volcan de Fuego, Febrero 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Significant concentrations of SO2 drifted SW on 1 February from the eruptive event at Fuego; they were recorded by the Ozone Mapper Profiler Suite (OMPS) on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP) satellite. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Multiple daily explosions with ash plumes continued throughout the rest of February; plumes generally rose to 4.5-4.7 km altitude, and ashfall was reported in communities 10-20 km from the volcano in various directions. Block avalanches descended barrancas Seca, Taniluyá, and Ceniza on most days. Incandescence at night was visible up to 200 m above the crater. MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 8 days of the month, and the Washington VAAC issued multiple daily aviation alerts throughout the month.

Activity during March-May 2018. Constant activity continued during March and April 2018, without any major eruptive episodes. Continuous degassing, explosions with ash plumes (figure 89), incandescent ejecta, and daily block avalanches were reported. Steam plumes rose daily to 4.2-4.4 km altitude and usually drifted NW, W, SW, or S. Explosions averaged 4-9 per hour and produced ash plumes that rose to 4.3-4.8 km altitude drifting more than 20 km NW, W, SW, and S. Incandescent ejecta was measured up to 300 m above the crater and traveled a similar distance down the flanks. Block avalanches sent debris up to a kilometer down the major drainages most days. The MODVOLC system recorded thermal alerts during 20 days of March and 22 days of April. The communities most affected by near-daily ashfall, on the SW flank, included San Pedro Yepocapa and Escuintla, Sangre de Cristo, Palo Verde Estate, El Porvenir, Santa Sofia, Morelia, and Paniché I and II. The Washington VAAC issued multiple daily aviation alerts nearly every day during both months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. The ash plume on 13 April 2018 at Fuego was typical of the activity during March and April. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán de Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 07 al 13 de abril de 2,018).

On 9 April the first lahar of the year descended the Seca canyon and the El Mineral channel, tributaries of the Pantaleón River. It was 10 m wide and 1.5 m deep, carrying abundant debris. In special bulletins released on 14 and 16 April INSIVUMEH noted increased explosive activity occurring at a rate of up to 10 explosions per hour, with ash plumes that rose to 4.8 km altitude. This was followed by a report of a lava flow during the evening of 16 April that traveled 1,300 m down the Seca Ravine.

Activity during the first two weeks of May 2018 was similar in character to the previous two months. Steam plumes rose to 4.1-4.3 km altitude, ash plumes rose to 4.5-4.8 km altitude from explosions that occurred at a rate of 4-8 per hour and drifted SW and W, and ashfall was reported in San Pedro Yepocapa, Morelia, El Por-venir, Sangre de Cristo, Santa Sofía, Finca Palo Verde, Panimaché I y II and other nearby communities. Incandescent ejecta rose 150-300 m high and was thrown 50 m from the crater; shockwaves from the explosions were felt 20-25 km away.

A lahar 12 m wide and 1.5 m deep descended the Seca Ravine on 10 May, dragging tree trunks and volcanic blocks as large as 1.5 m in diameter. A 500-m-long lava flow was reported in the barranca Ceniza on the afternoon of 15 May. Explosions occurred at a rate of 5-7 per hour on 16 May, and ash plumes rose as high as 7.8 km altitude and drifted 20 km W and SW, causing ashfall in Panimaché and Morelia. A moderate-sized lahar traveled down the El Jute ravine on 16 May after rains the previous night. During the afternoons of 16, 17, and 18 May lahars flowed down the Seca ravine from the recent abundant rainfall; they were 20 m wide, 1-2 m deep, and carried tree trunks and blocks 1-2 m in diameter. They grew to 25-30 m wide as they reached the confluence with the Rio Pantaleón, and the odor of sulfur was reported.

A lava flow in the barranca Ceniza was active for a distance of 900 m on 17 May, 600 m on 18 May, and 150 m on 19 May. Occasional sounds were audible more than 30 km from Fuego on 20 May from the 6-8 explosions that occurred every hour. Incandescent pulses rose 250 m above the crater during the night. The lava flow was active again to 700-800 m down the Ceniza ravine on 21 May. Overall activity increased to 10-15 weak to moderate explosions per hour on 22 May. The ash plumes rose to 4.3-4.7 km altitude and drifted 15 km S. Incandescent ejecta rose 300 m above the crater and lava flowed 1,000 m down the Ceniza ravine. On 23 May pulses of incandescent material rose 200-350 m above the crater and generated block avalanches that traveled down the Seca, Ceniza, and Las Lajas ravines as far as the vegetated areas. The lava flow in the Ceniza ravine was active up to 800 m from the summit that day. Explosions had decreased to 5-7 per hour by 24 May; the lava flow was still active 800 m down the Ceniza on 25 May.

The Fuego Observatory reported lahars on 25 May in the Seca and Mineral ravines that were 35 m wide and 1.5 m deep carrying abundant volcanic material. They blocked access between the communities of Yepocapa and Morelia, Santa Sofia, and others on the SW flank. Weak explosions and incandescence continued during the last week of the month, with low-level ash plumes drifting generally S, although poor visibility obscured most observations. Ash advisory reports from the Washington VAAC were more intermittent during May than the previous few months, with reports issued on 13 days of the month. The MODVOLC system reported thermal alerts on 16 days during May. The MIROVA project Log Radiative Power plot for the first six months of 2018 showed constant levels of activity similar to that during 2017 (see figure 73, BGVN 43:02) through the beginning of June, with a spike during the eruptive episode of 31 January-1 February (figure 90). The thermal signal ceased abruptly after the explosive events of early June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. The MIROVA project Log Radiative Power plot for Fuego for the first six months of 2018 showed constant levels of activity similar to that during 2017 (see figure 73, BGVN 43:02) through the beginning of June, with a spike during the eruptive episode of 31 January-1 February. Thermal activity ceased abruptly after the explosive events of early June. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Fuego was characterized by ongoing moderate activity during the first two days of June. Steam plumes rose to 4.5 km altitude and drifted S, and 5-8 moderate explosions per hour produced ash plumes that rose to 4.6-4.8 km altitude and drifted 8-20 km S and SE. Moderate to strong shock waves from the explosions caused roofs to vibrate 15-20 km away on the S flank. Pulses of incandescent ejecta rose 100-200 m above the crater and created block avalanches that descended the Seca, Ceniza and Las Lajas ravines as far as the vegetated areas; fine-grained ash fell in Panamiche I. On 2 June lahars descended the Seca, Rio Mineral, Cenizas, Trinidad and Jute ravines, and a lava flow was reported moving 1,000 m down the Ceniza ravine.

Eruptive events of 3-5 June 2018. The second major eruptive event of 2018, and the deadliest in the recent history of Fuego, began with a strong explosion in the early morning of 3 June 2018. The ash plume rose rapidly to 6 km altitude and initially drifted W and SW. It generated large pyroclastic flows that traveled down the Seca, Santa Teresa, and Ceniza ravines and into the communities of Sangre de Cristo and San Pedro Yepocapa on the W flank. Strong explosions continued throughout the day and generated additional large pyroclastic flows in the Seca, Cenizas, Mineral, Taniluyá, Las Lajas, and Honda ravines with devastating consequences to numerous communities around the volcano (figures 91-94).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Large pyroclastic flows descended multiple flanks of Fuego on 3 June 2018 causing significant fatalities and extensive property damage in adjacent communities. View is from Alotenango, 8 km E of the summit. Photo Credit: Orlando Estrada/AFP/Getty, courtesy of The Express.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. A large pyroclastic flow on 3 June 2018 descended the Las Lajas ravine adjacent to La Reunión Golf Course, 7 km SE of the summit of Fuego. Courtesy of Matthew Watson, volcanologist.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. The pyroclastic flows at Fuego on 3 June 2018 descended multiple ravines and damaged or destroyed a number of roadways and bridges. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty, courtesy of The Express.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. After the pyroclastic flows at Fuego descended on 3 June 2018, the Las Lajas ravine adjacent to La Reunión Golf Course 7 km SE of the summit was filled with steaming ash and debris. Courtesy of GeoGis.

The Washington VAAC reported explosions later in the day that generated an ash plume that drifted NE at 9.1 km altitude and E at 15.2 km altitude. The Suomi NPP satellite captured an image of the ash plume rising above the cloud cover at 1300 local time (figure 95). Ashfall of tephra and lapilli was reported more than 25 km away in the village of La Soledad; in addition, the municipalities of Quisache (8 km NW), Acatenango (12 km NW), San Miguel Dueñas (10 km NE), Alotenango (8 km ENE), Antigua Guatemala (18 km NE), Chimaltenango (22 km N), and other areas NW and N of the volcano were impacted with ashfall. La Aurora airport in Guatemala City was closed for two days. In addition to the ash plume, a large plume of SO2 was recorded drifting N and E from the volcano at an altitude of 8 km shortly after the explosions were reported (figure 96).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. The ash plume from a large explosion at Fuego on 3 June 2018 rose above the cloud cover to over 15 km altitude and was imaged by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP at 1300 local time. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. A substantial plume of sulfur dioxide (SO2) was detected by the Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite (OMPS) on Suomi NPP satellite after the large eruption at Fuego on 3 June 2018. The image shows concentrations of sulfur dioxide in the middle troposphere at an altitude of 8 kilometers as detected by OMPS. Michigan Tech volcanologist Simon Carn noted that this appeared to be the "highest sulfur dioxide loading measured in a Fuego eruption in the satellite era." Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory and Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC).

The pyroclastic flows down the SE flank were especially devastating to the communities in their path, covering roofs and vehicles with ash and debris (figure 97-100) and killing scores of people. The communities of San Miguel Los Lotes about 9 km SE of the summit and El Rodeo (10 km SE), both in Escuintla Province, were severely damaged from the pyroclastic flows, with most of the fatalities and missing people reported from those communities.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. The pyroclastic flows that traveled down the SE flank of Fuego on 3 June 2018 were especially devastating to the communities in their path. This image taken two days later on 5 June shows how the low-lying areas around the ravine are buried in ash from the fast-moving pyroclastic flow, but the higher areas (like the golf course on the right) are relatively free of ash and debris (see figure 94). Courtesy of BBC and Getty Images.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. The pyroclastic flows from the eruption at Fuego on 3 June 2018 buried buildings up to 2 m deep in ash and debris in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes, Escuintla Province. Photo by Luis Echeverria/Reuters, courtesy of the Telegraph.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. Numerous vehicles were swept away in the pyroclastic flows that descended through the village of San Miguel Los Lotes, Escuintla on 3 June 2018 during the eruption at Fuego. This photo was taken on 5 June as rescue workers continued to search the town. Courtesy of Reuters and the Express.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. The pyroclastic flows that traveled through El Rodeo on 3 June 2018 from the large eruption at Fuego contained both fine-grained ash and large angular boulders of volcanic rocks. Rescue workers were forced to evacuate the town on 5 June as additional pyroclastic flows threatened the already devastated community. Courtesy of the Associated Press (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. Most of the village of El Rodeo, 10 km SE of the summit of Fuego, was buried by ash and debris from a pyroclastic flow on 3 June 2018. Rescue workers searched the village while heavy equipment repaired roadways on 5 June. Photo by Rodrigo Abd, courtesy of the Associated Press.

Explosions continued until early evening on 3 June, when pyroclastic flow activity finally diminished. The debris from the pyroclastic flows resulted in lahars descending the Pantaleón, Mineral, and other drainages, leading to the evacuations of the communities of Sangre de Cristo, Finca Palo Verde, Panimache and others that evening. Explosive activity returned to lower levels the following day with dense ash plumes rising to 4.5-4.6 km altitude from 5-7 weak explosions that occurred every hour. Abundant fine ash rose from the ravines filled with pyroclastic flow material from the previous day and drifted SW, W, NW, and N, affecting communities up to 25 km away in those directions. The Washington VAAC reported remnants of the ash plume drifting 300 km ENE on 4 June.

By 4 June, CONRED had increased the Alert Level to red for the communities of Escuintla (22 km SE), Alotenango (8 km E), Sacatepéquez, Yepocapa (8 km NW), Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa (22 km SW), and Chimaltenango, and opened 13 evacuation shelters in the area. CONRED initially reported on 5 June that 3,271 people were evacuated, 46 were injured and there were 70 known fatalities as a result of the pyroclastic flows and lahars on 3 June. A state of emergency was declared in all three of the provinces (Departments) of Escuintla, Sacatepéquez and Chimaltenango surrounding the volcano.

The number of block avalanches increased on 5 June as a result of 8-10 moderate explosions per hour; ash plumes and pyroclastic flow debris created persistent ash in the air around the volcano. The avalanches traveled 800-1,000 m down Las Lajas and Santa Teresa ravines. On 5 June, a pyroclastic flow descended the El Jute and Las Lajas ravines at 1410 local time. INSIVUMEH reported an increase in explosive activity a few hours later; dense ash plumes rose to 6 km altitude and drifted E and NE. Another pyroclastic flow descended the Las Lajas around 1928 local time that evening. These new pyroclastic flows led CONRAD to evacuate the additional communities of La Reyna, El Rodeo, Cañaveral I and IV, Hunnapu, Magnolia, and Sarita located on the Palín-Escuintla highway, and the highway itself was also closed (figure 102).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. Pyroclastic flows descended the flanks of Fuego on 5 June 2018, causing additional damage after the major eruption two days earlier. The view is from the community of El Rodeo, 10 km SE, heavily damaged at the beginning of the eruption. Photo Credits: Rodrigo Abd/AP/REX/Shutterstock, courtesy of the Associated Press.

Activity during 6-30 June 2018. Weak to moderate explosions continued at Fuego on 6 June with ash plumes rising to 4.7 km altitude and drifting W and SW. Significant rainfall in the area that afternoon around 1610 resulted in lahars descending the Seca and Mineral ravines, tributaries of the Rio Pantaleón. One lahar was 30-40 m wide and 4-5 m deep emanating warm sulfurous gases; it carried fine-grained material similar to cement, rocks and debris 2-3 m in diameter, and tree trunks. The communities around the mouths of the ravines and near the Pantaleón Bridge were most affected. New lahars about an hour later descended the Santa Teresa, Mineral and Taniluyá ravines, also tributaries of the Pantaleón River. These lahars were about 30 m wide, 2-3 m deep, and carried similar cement-like fine grained material down the Pantaleón along with blocks 2-3 m in diameter and tree trunks.

Seismic station FG3 recorded a pyroclastic flow descending Las Lajas and El Jute ravines at 2140 local time on 7 June. INSIVUMEH estimated that it produced an ash cloud that rose to 6 km altitude and drifted W and SW. INSIVUMEH issued five special bulletins on 8 June reporting numerous lahars and pyroclastic flows. Lahars descended Santa Teresa, Mineral, and Taniluyá ravines into the Pantaleón around 0240 local time; they were 30 m wide, 2-3 m deep, and carried 2-3-m-diameter blocks and tree trunks. Another surge of lahars registered on the seismogram about two hours later in the same ravines and also in the Ceniza, additionally affecting the Achiguate River. A pyroclastic flow descended Las Lajas ravine at 0820 in the morning, producing another 6-km-high ash cloud. Two more similar pyroclastic flows in the same area were recorded at the seismic station at 1945 and 2040 local time that evening.

During the afternoon of 9 June, lahars descended the Seca, Mineral, Niagara and Taniluyá, generating the largest lahar to date for the year in the Pantaleón River. It was 40 m wide and 5 m deep carrying abundant blocks up to 3 m in diameter and other debris down the W flank. Later that evening explosive activity continued at a rate of 4-7 per hour, dispersing ash plumes up to 15 km W and SW from the summit at an altitude of 4.2-4.4 km. The explosions were audible up to 10 km in all directions. The same ravines and also the Ceniza were affected by new lahars 35 m wide and 3 m deep the following afternoon as a result of the constant rains in the area. Rains continued on 11 June and resulted in strong lahars descending the Seca and Mineral ravines around 1415 local time with diameters of 35-40 m and depths of 3 m. Another strong lahar descended Las Lajas and el Jute ravines in the evening at 1750 local time; these had widths ranging from 35-55 m and depths up to 5 m.

INSIVUMEH reported an increase in explosive activity beginning in the morning of 12 June 2018, producing ash plumes that rose up to 5 km altitude and drifted NE and N 15-25 km. This activity also produced a pyroclastic flow down the Seca ravine around 0730 local time with an ash cloud that rose about 6 km and drifted N and NE. That afternoon a strong lahar descended the Las Lajas ravine, carrying blocks 3 m in diameter in a hot, thick flow that was 35-45 m wide and up to 5 m deep. Since there were no longer distinct channels in the ravine, the material spread out in a wide fan flowing towards the area around El Rodeo. Additional smaller lahars descended the Ceniza and Mineral ravines later that afternoon. By 12 June 2018 CONRED reported that 110 fatalities had been confirmed, 197 additional people were missing, and over 12,500 people had been evacuated since the 3 June explosions began.

On 13 June, a small pyroclastic flow descended the Ceniza ravine around 0630. It was the last pyroclastic flow reported during June. Beginning with the first post-eruption lahars on 6 June, multiple lahars occurred every day during 8-18, 20-23, 26, and 30 June (table 18). The barrancas of Seca, Mineral, Santa Teresa, Taniluyá, Niagra, Ceniza, Las Lajas, El Jute, Rio El Gobernador, and Rio Pantaleón were all impacted by the lahars; they ranged in size from smaller flows that were 20 m wide and 2 m deep carrying blocks 1-3 m in diameter to the largest which were over 40 m wide, up to 5 m deep and carried blocks as large as 3 m in diameter. The flows were warm or hot, carrying tree trunks and other debris, and had strong sulfurous odors. Communities adjacent to the ravines could feel the vibrations of the flows as they passed. As many of the ravines were full of ash and rocks from the pyroclastic flows, new channels were formed and the flows spread out in fans as they descended, further threatening the communities around the flanks of the volcano.

Table 18. Lahars at Fuego were reported 33 separate times between 6 and 30 June 2018; many reports included multiple simultaneous lahars in drainages around all the flanks. Data courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

Date Local time Ravine(s) Width (m) Depth (m) Block Size (m)
06 Jun 2018 1610 Seca, Mineral 30-40 4-5 2-3
06 Jun 2018 1720 Santa Teresa, Mineral and Taniluyá 30 2-3 2-3
08 Jun 2018 0240 Santa Teresa, Mineral, and Taniluyá 30 2-3 2-3
08 Jun 2018 0450 Santa Teresa, Mineral, and Taniluyá, Ceniza -- -- 2-3
09 Jun 2018 1400 Seca, Mineral, Niagara and Taniluyá 40 5 3
10 Jun 2018 1515 Seca, Mineral, Niagara and Taniluyá, Ceniza 35 3 1
11 Jun 2018 1415 Seca and Mineral 35-40 3 3
11 Jun 2018 1750 Las Lajas and el Jute 35-55 3-5 3
12 Jun 2018 1330 Las Lajas 35-45 5 3
12 Jun 2018 1425 Ceniza, Mineral 20 2 1-3
13 Jun 2018 0110 Ceniza 25 2 1-3
13 Jun 2018 1350 Las Lajas 30-40 3 3
14 Jun 2018 0145 Santa Teresa and Mineral 20-25 2 3
14 Jun 2018 1445 Taniluyá, Ceniza, rio El Gobernador, Las Lajas 30-45 3 3
15 Jun 2018 1715 Seca, Mineral 30-35 3 3
15 Jun 2018 1725 Las Lajas 30-35 2 3
15 Jun 2018 1740 Taniluyá, Ceniza 20-25 2 3
16 Jun 2018 1445 Las Lajas 30-35 2 3
17 Jun 2018 1415 Las Lajas -- -- 3
17 Jun 2018 1440 Seca, Mineral 40 2 2
18 Jun 2018 1510 Seca, Mineral 25-30 3 3
18 Jun 2018 1600 Las Lajas 40-45 2 3
20 Jun 2018 0735 Las Lajas 35-45 2-3 3
20 Jun 2018 1230 Las Lajas 30-35 3 3
20 Jun 2018 1415 Seca, Mineral, Taniluyá, Ceniza 30-35 3 3
21 Jun 2018 1940 Las Lajas 30-35 3 3
22 Jun 2018 0030 Las Lajas -- -- 3
22 Jun 2018 1450 Las Lajas -- -- 2-3
22 Jun 2018 1535 Rio Pantaleón 40 3 3
23 Jun 2018 1740 El Jute, Las Lajas, San Miguel los Lotes area -- -- 3
26 Jun 2018 1412 El Jute, Las Lajas, San Miguel los Lotes area -- -- 3
26 Jun 2018 1455 Seca, Mineral, Niagra, Ceniza -- -- 2-3
30 Jun 2018 1435 Seca, Mineral -- -- 2-3

Explosions continued daily through the end of June 2018 at rates ranging from 4 to 9 explosions per hour, creating block avalanches that descended all the major ravines. Ash plumes rose to 4.2-4.9 km altitude (500-1,000 m above the summit) and drifted in multiple directions. On 18 and 22 June, fine-grained ashfall was reported in Panimache, Morelia, Sangre de Cristo, and Palo Verde. By 24 June, satellite imagery revealed that elevated heat was still discernable in several ravines that had been filled with pyroclastic flow debris earlier in the month (figure 103). Explosions on 27 and 28 June sent ash plumes W and ashfall was reported in Sangre de Cristo, Yepocapa, and communities a few km W of Fuego.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. Elevated thermal signals in drainages filled with pyroclastic flows were still apparent in satellite imagery at Fuego on 24 June 2018, three weeks after a major explosive event. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

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: 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/); 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); 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/); NASA Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/); 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); Associated Press (URL: https://apnews.com/); AFP/Getty, Agence France-Presse (URL: http://www.afp.com/); BBC News (URL: https://www.bbc.com/); The Telegraph (URL: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/); Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/); The Express (URL: https://www.express.co.uk); Matthew Watson, School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol, Twitter: @Matthew__Watson), (URL: https://twitter.com/Matthew__Watson); GeoGis, Twitter: @jlescriba, (URL: https://twitter.com/jlescriba).

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Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin - Volume 04, Number 11 (November 1979)

Managing Editor: David Squires

Ahyi (United States)

Shocks and sulfur upwelling

Aira (Japan)

Explosion frequency doubles; aircraft damaged

Asosan (Japan)

Frequent ash emission; explosion successfully predicted

Karkar (Papua New Guinea)

No strong explosions; crater morphology described

Kilauea (United States)

Brief eruption from upper east rift zone

Krafla (Iceland)

Inflation slows

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Occasional ash emission

Negra, Sierra (Ecuador)

14-km-high cloud; lava flows to sea

Ontakesan (Japan)

More information on 28 October eruption

Santa Maria (Guatemala)

Periodic pyroclastic eruptions; lava flow spawning nuées ardentes

Shikotsu (Japan)

Brief increase in seismicity, but no eruption

Soufriere St. Vincent (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)

Lava extrusion stopped

White Island (New Zealand)

Mild fume emission



Ahyi (United States) — November 1979 Citation iconCite this Report

Ahyi

United States

20.42°N, 145.03°E; summit elev. -75 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Shocks and sulfur upwelling

The crew of the fishing boat Koyo-maru 5 felt a series of shocks beginning at about 1530 on 15 November, followed by the upwelling of water containing sulfur about 15 km SE of Farallon de Pajaros Island at 20.445°N, 145.03°E. Depths in the area of the activity range from 70 to 200 m. The JMSA reports that sea surface discoloration has been observed there in the past.

Since the day before, a larger than normal cloud plume had been observed over Farallon de Pajaros.

Geologic Background. Ahyi seamount is a large conical submarine volcano that rises to within 75 m of the sea surface about 18 km SE of the island of Farallon de Pajaros (Uracas) in the northern Marianas. Water discoloration has been observed there, and in 1979 the crew of a fishing boat felt shocks over the summit area of the seamount, followed by upwelling of sulfur-bearing water. On 24-25 April 2001 an explosive eruption was detected seismically by a station on Rangiroa Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago. The event was well constrained (+/- 15 km) at a location near the southern base of Ahyi. An eruption in April-May 2014 was detected by NOAA divers, hydroacoustic sensors, and seismic stations.

Information Contacts: JMSA, Tokyo; JMA, Tokyo; T. Tiba, National Science Museum, Tokyo.


Aira (Japan) — November 1979 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosion frequency doubles; aircraft damaged

Explosions recorded at the JMA's Kagoshima Observatory, 11 km from Sakura-jima, were about twice as frequent in October and November as they were in September. Typically, an "explosion" consisted of a weak shock, registered both seismically and sonically, followed by ash ejection. Ash emission without an accompanying explosion occurred more often than the explosion-triggered events.

[The explosion at 1400 on 10 November was followed by about 20 minutes of tephra emission and continuous tremor.] Lightning was frequent in the tephra cloud, which deposited 2 cm of ash during a rainstorm at Furosato, 3 km from the crater. Lapilli cracked a car windshield and two cars collided after skidding on the wet ash.

The windshields of two domestic airliners were cracked as they flew into an eruption cloud near Sakura-jima at 0801 and 0805 on 18 November, about 20 minutes after a recorded explosion. In both cases, damage was restricted to the outermost of three sheets of glass, and the planes landed safely. Another 2 cm of ash fell at Furosato after this explosion.

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: JMA, Tokyo.


Asosan (Japan) — November 1979 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

32.884°N, 131.104°E; summit elev. 1592 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent ash emission; explosion successfully predicted

Frequent ash ejections resumed on 24 September and continued through late November. During October, no blocks were seen to reach the rim of Naka-dake Crater nor were incandescent blocks observed at night. By the end of October, the concentration of ash at the JMA's [Asosan Weather Station] (1 km from the active vent) had reached more than 10 kg/m2, equal to about 1 cm of ash thickness. Although continuous tremor amplitude had correlated well with June-September eruptive activity, amplitudes remained low (about 0.5 µm) during October. The number of local earthquakes also remained low in October.

A characteristic decrease in the amplitude of continuous tremor began at about 0900 on 2 November, lasting until a large explosion at 1626. An eruption cloud rose 1.5 km above the crater during about an hour of ash ejection. Four mm of ash fell at the [Weather Station]. A survey by [Weather Station] personnel two days later found scoria up to 200 m from the vent, overlying 0.6 m of ash that had fallen in the summit area since the eruption began 12 June. The tremor amplitude decrease was the third since June that had preceded a sizeable explosion. An alert was issued from the Observatory one and a half hours before the explosion. No casualties occurred.

Ash emission in November was stronger than in October, causing heavy ashfalls near the volcano. Slight ashfalls occurred occasionally at Mt. Takachiho (110 km S), Kumamoto city (40 km W), and in Oita Prefecture (50 km E). Ejection of incandescent blocks was observed at night on 11 and 19 November, for the first time since 6 August. Tremor amplitude increased through most of November, but declined late in the month. The Strombolian activity of June, July, and early August occurred while tremor amplitude was high.

Further Reference. Tanaka, Y., Tsuchiya, Y., and Yamaura, Y., 1981, Detection of volcanic smoke and ashfall area at Aso from Landsat data: Papers in Meteorology & Geophysics, v. 32, no. 4, p 275-291.

Geologic Background. The 24-km-wide Asosan caldera was formed during four major explosive eruptions from 300,000 to 90,000 years ago. These produced voluminous pyroclastic flows that covered much of Kyushu. The last of these, the Aso-4 eruption, produced more than 600 km3 of airfall tephra and pyroclastic-flow deposits. A group of 17 central cones was constructed in the middle of the caldera, one of which, Nakadake, is one of Japan's most active volcanoes. It was the location of Japan's first documented historical eruption in 553 CE. The Nakadake complex has remained active throughout the Holocene. Several other cones have been active during the Holocene, including the Kometsuka scoria cone as recently as about 210 CE. Historical eruptions have largely consisted of basaltic to basaltic-andesite ash emission with periodic strombolian and phreatomagmatic activity. The summit crater of Nakadake is accessible by toll road and cable car, and is one of Kyushu's most popular tourist destinations.

Information Contacts: JMA.


Karkar (Papua New Guinea) — November 1979 Citation iconCite this Report

Karkar

Papua New Guinea

4.649°S, 145.964°E; summit elev. 1839 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


No strong explosions; crater morphology described

"As observed from the Kinim Observatory, no strong explosive activity occurred during November. During inspections of the summit and the crater lake floor on 17 and 18 November, it was found that fountaining of dark muddy water has virtually ceased and that several islands have been formed. The main island was [at the end of a peninsula] joined to the base of the S wall of the crater, and the other island was near the E edge of the lake. Several large boulders were present on the main island and it was bordered by narrow, smooth shores. Orange-brown discolouration was present over the central part of the island. At its N edge a vigorous geyser continuously jetted yellow-tinged water to heights of several tens of meters. The E half of the lake was green and the W half retained the same grey-brown colour seen previously."

Geologic Background. Karkar is a 19 x 25 km wide, forest-covered island that is truncated by two nested summit calderas. The 5.5-km-wide outer caldera was formed during one or more eruptions, the last of which occurred 9000 years ago. The eccentric 3.2-km-wide inner caldera was formed sometime between 1500 and 800 years ago. Parasitic cones are present on the N and S flanks of this basaltic-to-andesitic volcano; a linear array of small cones extends from the northern rim of the outer caldera nearly to the coast. Most historical eruptions, which date back to 1643, have originated from Bagiai cone, a pyroclastic cone constructed within the steep-walled, 300-m-deep inner caldera. The floor of the caldera is covered by young, mostly unvegetated andesitic lava flows.

Information Contacts: C. McKee, RVO.


Kilauea (United States) — November 1979 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Brief eruption from upper east rift zone

"Kilauea erupted on its upper E rift zone for 22 hours on 16-17 November. Seismicity since the 1977 eruption was sustained at moderate to high levels at the summit and the E rift zone until the onset of the swarm of shallow earthquakes that preceded the eruption (figure 2).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Plot of shallow earthquakes (1-5 km depth) associated with the 16-17 November 1979 eruption.

"The swarm began at 2100 hours on 15 November near Pauahi Crater, 7-8 km SE of the central caldera region, and within a half an hour the summit tiltmeter indicated the onset of deflation (figure 3). Simultaneously, two borehole tiltmeters detected inflation in the upper part of the E rift zone (see table 3 a for detailed chronology). Shallow volcanic tremor very local to Pauahi Crater (figures 3 and 4) became strong at about 0700 the next morning (16 November) as the number of earthquakes gradually decreased. At 0821, low fountaining (less than 10 m high) started in Pauahi Crater. Fifteen minutes later, observers arrived on the E side of the crater and found a curtain of fire 5-10 m high and 100 m long. These E vents ceased eruption less than 1 hour later. At 1130, two more vents opened in Pauahi Crater, W of the first Pauahi vent. Shortly thereafter, brief fountaining was observed N of the earlier E vents, followed by cessation of activity of the initial (eastern) Pauahi Crater vent. Over the next 1.5 hours, six more vents opened progressively to the W, one more in the crater and five W of the crater. Slightly before 1600, activity at the W vents began to wane and over the next hour fountaining ceased progressively eastward at the five W vents. Lava production in the three remaining vents in Pauahi Crater stayed relatively constant until 0100 on 17 November, gradually waned, then ceased activity at 0630, 22 hours after the eruption began.

Table 3. Chronology of the November 1979 eruption at Kilauea.

Date Time Activity
15 Nov 1979 2100 Seismic swarm began local to Pauahi station.
15 Nov 1979 2130 Deflation at the summit and inflation at the eruption site.
16 Nov 1979 0005 Peak earthquake rate.
16 Nov 1979 0700 Strong tremor began local to Pauahi station.
16 Nov 1979 0805 Copious steam and fume emission began E of Pauahi Crater. The fissures occupied an old spatter rampart and never emitted lava, but the emitted gases were hot enough to ignite adjacent vegetation.
16 Nov 1979 0821 A sharp cracking sound accompanied the opening of a vent (P1, figure 4) on the NE wall of the NW lobe of Pauahi Crater; initial fountain heights were less than 1 m.
16 Nov 1979 0836 Observers arriving at Road's End parking lot found fissures already erupting a low (5-10 m) curtain of fire (E1, figure 4) about 100 m long, 230 m E of the copiously fuming area noted at 0805. Fissuring migrated E, eventually producing a separate lava pad (E2). New fissures east of the E2 vent occupied the center of an old spatter rampart.
16 Nov 1979 0925 Eruptive activity on E1 and E2 fissures ceased.
16 Nov 1979 1130 A fissure opened about 70 m W of the still active P1 vent in Pauahi Crater, and almost immediately began to fountain to heights of 2-10 m on its W end. A few seconds later, three smaller vents began activity between the new fountain (P2) and P1. These vents collectively are labeled P3.
16 Nov 1979 1135 Brief eruption (time uncertain) from a fissure (EN) N of the main E vents.
16 Nov 1979 1140 An eruptive fissure (P4) opened 20 m W of P2.
16 Nov 1979 1149 Activity at P1 vent abruptly decreased with concurrent increase of activity at P2, P3, P4.
16 Nov 1979 1150 P1 vent ceased activity.
16 Nov 1979 1155-1200 Flows produced by the now-inactive P1 began to cascade down the mezzanine into the SE crater of Pauahi, followed by flows from P2-4.
16 Nov 1979 1203 Fissures migrating W of Pauahi Crater cut the overlook parking lot and the Chain of Craters Road.
16 Nov 1979 1214 Eruption began from E to W on three fissures (W1, W2, and W3) beginning just W of the Chain of Craters Road; concurrently there was a temporary decrease in activity of vents P2-4 in Pauahi. Curtains of fire to 10 m high with spatter ejected to 30-40 m were soon established on two of the new vents (W2 and W3); weak spattering occurred at W1 vent.
16 Nov 1979 1239 Eruption began at W4 vent. Activity at W1, W2, and W3 vents decreased abruptly at the onset of this activity.
16 Nov 1979 1255 Eruption began from W5 vent, followed by roughly constant rates of effusion (about 50,000 m3/hour) from all the W vents over the next 3.5 hours.
16 Nov 1979 1445 Tremor amplitude at seismic stations 6 km from the eruption site reached a peak. The earthquake rate dropped by an order of magnitude from its peak values at 0005.
16 Nov 1979 1542 Abrupt brief decrease in fountain height of all W vents followed by cessation of activity at W5 vent and slight decrease in activity of vents P2-4.
16 Nov 1979 1543-1631 Decrease and cessation of activity of W4 vent. Decrease in activity of W2 and W3 vents; nature of activity at W1 vent unknown, but total emission from W1 was less than 15 m3.
16 Nov 1979 1547-1555 Chain of Craters road cut by small flow lobes.
16 Nov 1979 1631-1648 Activity of W2 and W3 vents declined to sporadic spatter emission.
16 Nov 1979 1651 Cessation of activity at all W vents.
16 Nov 1979 1716 Increase in activity of P2, P3, and P4 vents; approximately constant combined effusion rate of P2-4 of 15,000-20,000 m3/hour for the next 6 hours.
16 Nov 1979 1845 Activity of P4 vent decreased.
16 Nov 1979 2030 Activity of P4 vent essentially ceased.
17 Nov 1979 0100-0409 Activity at P2 and P3 continually waned.
17 Nov 1979 0413 Continued decrease in activity of P2 and P3 vents; tilt at summit reversed; seismic tremor subsided.
17 Nov 1979 0630 All but gas activity ceased in Pauahi crater vents.
17 Nov 1979 0809 Surface movement of red lava in channels in Pauahi ceased, followed over the next 2 hours by collapse of crust and levees and formation of slab pahoehoe.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Daily record of summit inflation of Kilauea, 1977-78.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Preliminary sketch map of the 16-17 November 1979 eruption site.

"During the eruption, tremor amplitude fluctuated with the extrusion rate, and earthquakes continued to decline to a frequency only slightly higher than a normal background rate. Earthquakes immediately preceding and accompanying the eruption occurred within a roughly triangular zone bounded by the E rift, Koae fault zone, and a N-S line 1 km W of Pauahi (figure 2).

"Unlike previous events, which presumably defined a downrift propagation of magma from the summit reservoir, epicenters during this eruption showed no downrift migration and tremor did not occur near stations uprift of the eruption. Furthermore, earthquakes migrated upward from 3 to 1 km in depth during the first 2 hours of the swarm. It therefore seems probable that the eruption was fed by magma already stored beneath the rift zone and that magma drained from the summit reservoir to replace the magma mobilized in the E rift zone near the eruption site.

"Figure 3, summarizing the pattern of inflation at the summit of Kilauea between the 1977 and 1979 eruptions, shows that throughout the month of November 1978, there was a slow deflation of the summit. Concurrently, an area approximately centered on the 1977 eruption site started to inflate. Except for the minor deflation centers along the upper E rift zone, the upper and lower parts of the E rift zone remained relatively undeformed during the period between eruptions.

"Summit SO2 emission averaged 100-200 t/d over the 13 months preceding the eruption and peaked occasionally at 350 t/d. Ten days prior to the eruption a spike of 500 t/d was recorded, followed by a return to approximately normal daily emission throughout and following the eruption. Anomalous abundances of S were observed in condensates at two sites and of CO2 at one site. The data base is too short to determine whether the observed variations of S and CO2 are indicators of magmatic activity preceding the November eruption, or were coincident fluctuations unrelated to magma movement.

"The eruption was characterized by less than 700,000 m3 erupted volume, low fountains, generally low amounts of fume, viscous lava and spatter, and low temperatures (generally 1,040-1,080°C with an infrared pyrometer). The overall pattern of the fissure system suggests that a left lateral shear couple was present during the eruption. The only obvious phenocryst observed by preliminary megascopic observation is olivine, 0.5-2 mm in diameter. The earliest samples, especially those from the easternmost vents, appear to be poor in olivine (1-3%), whereas those from the later stages contain 3-8% olivine phenocrysts. Interpretations of this variation include: 1) eruption of a single fractionated magma body; 2) eruption of several discrete, compositionally variable, possibly fractionated magma bodies, and 3) an influx, during the later stages of the eruption, of more primitive (olivine-rich) magma that drained from the summit reservoirs.

"The seismology, petrology, and surface deformation suggest that the eruption was likely the result of a disturbance of a shallow local storage chamber where the magma had resided for several months or years. The immediate area had been the site of the August 1968, May 1973, and November 1973 eruptions and lies along the geologically and seismically defined shallow conduit system leading from the summit magma chamber.

"Summit deflation suggests that the volume of magma withdrawn from the summit reservoirs was 4-6 times that erupted. Presumably this excess magma is stored in conduits and reservoirs in the upper E rift zone. Figure 3 indicates that the November eruption involved a trivial amount of the magma that has been supplied to the summit since the September 1977 eruption, and at present, the level of summit inflation is approximately that prior to the eruption."

Geologic Background. Kilauea, which overlaps the E flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano, has been Hawaii's most active volcano during historical time. Eruptions are prominent in Polynesian legends; written documentation extending back to only 1820 records frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions that were interspersed with periods of long-term lava lake activity that lasted until 1924 at Halemaumau crater, within the summit caldera. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1500 years ago and during the 18th century; eruptions have also originated from the lengthy East and SW rift zones, which extend to the sea on both sides of the volcano. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1100 years old; 70% of the volcano's surface is younger than 600 years. A long-term eruption from the East rift zone that began in 1983 has produced lava flows covering more than 100 km2, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.

Information Contacts: N. Banks and F. Klein, HVO.


Krafla (Iceland) — November 1979 Citation iconCite this Report

Krafla

Iceland

65.715°N, 16.728°W; summit elev. 800 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Inflation slows

"About the middle of October, the inflation of Krafla reached the level at which deflation previously occurred. Since then, the number of earthquakes has increased gradually, but no deflation had begun as of 5 December. The rate of inflation during the last 3 months has been about 1/3 of the rate during the initial inflation period, or less than 1 µrad/day."

Geologic Background. The Krafla central volcano, located NE of Myvatn lake, is a topographically indistinct 10-km-wide caldera that is cut by a N-S-trending fissure system. Eruption of a rhyolitic welded tuff about 100,000 years ago was associated with formation of the caldera. Krafla has been the source of many rifting and eruptive events during the Holocene, including two in historical time, during 1724-29 and 1975-84. The prominent Hverfjall and Ludent tuff rings east of Myvatn were erupted along the 100-km-long fissure system, which extends as far as the north coast of Iceland. Iceland's renowned Myvatn lake formed during the eruption of the older Laxarhraun lava flow from the Ketildyngja shield volcano of the Fremrinamur volcanic system about 3800 years before present (BP); its present shape is constrained by the roughly 2000 years BP younger Laxarhraun lava flow from the Krafla volcanic system. The abundant pseudocraters that form a prominent part of the Myvatn landscape were created when the younger Laxarhraun lava flow entered the lake.

Information Contacts: K. Grönvold, NVI.


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — November 1979 Citation iconCite this Report

Langila

Papua New Guinea

5.525°S, 148.42°E; summit elev. 1330 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Occasional ash emission

No ash emission was observed during the first half of November. Gray clouds were occasionally ejected from the 16th through the end of the month.

Geologic Background. Langila, one of the most active volcanoes of New Britain, consists of a group of four small overlapping composite basaltic-andesitic cones on the lower eastern flank of the extinct Talawe volcano. Talawe is the highest volcano in the Cape Gloucester area of NW New Britain. A rectangular, 2.5-km-long crater is breached widely to the SE; Langila volcano was constructed NE of the breached crater of Talawe. An extensive lava field reaches the coast on the north and NE sides of Langila. Frequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded since the 19th century from three active craters at the summit of Langila. The youngest and smallest crater (no. 3 crater) was formed in 1960 and has a diameter of 150 m.

Information Contacts: C. McKee, RVO.


Sierra Negra (Ecuador) — November 1979 Citation iconCite this Report

Sierra Negra

Ecuador

0.83°S, 91.17°W; summit elev. 1124 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


14-km-high cloud; lava flows to sea

An eruption began on 13 November at Sierra Negra, the only historically active volcano in the Galápagos Islands that is presently inhabited. The location was Volcán Chico, a circumferential fissure zone 1 km N of, and 100-200 m below, the caldera rim of Sierra Negra. Volcán Chico was also the site of the last two eruptions from this volcano, in 1963 and 1953, and has been described by Delaney and others (1973). At the time of the last report lava was still flowing down the volcano's uninhabited N slope 3 weeks after it began. The residents of the S slope, evacuated on the first day of the eruption, had returned to find damaged crops and livestock.

At 0730 on 13 November a local earthquake was registered on the CDRS seismograph (90 km E of Sierra Negra on Isla Santa Cruz), part of the WWSSN maintained by the USGS [see also 4:12]. A second, larger, earthquake followed in 20 minutes, and at 0845 the first explosion was heard by people living on the S flank. Within 20 minutes of the first explosion, tephra (including scoria and Pele's hair) fell on the villages of Santo Tomás and Villamil, 13 and 26 km SE of the eruption site. Residents of Santo Tomás began evacuation to the coastal village of Villamil.

The eruptive cloud was large enough to be seen on NOAA's SMS-1 weather satellite, which transmits images of the whole hemisphere every 30 minutes from its equatorial geostationary orbit. The cloud first appeared on the 0930 image and grew rapidly to an area estimated to be 220 x 130 km within 2 hours. The cloud soon separated into two lobes and measurements on the infrared imagery by Arthur F. Krueger indicate a maximum elevation of at least 14 km for the main lobe at 1500. This lobe moved SE at 25 km/hour while the other lobe, estimated to be about 8 km high, moved SW at 30 km/hour. By 2200, the main lobes were quite diffuse, but a low, thin plume (near the 4-8 km resolution of the imagery) extended about 50 km S from Sierra Negra. No prominent eruptive clouds were visible on SMS-1 imagery during the following days.

A CDRS team (including P. Ramón, J. Budris, and T. & A. Moore) reached Volcán Chico 24 hours after the eruption began. Upon arrival at Villamil, they noted a thin coating of tephra with some light scoria fragments to 5 cm in diameter. Tephra at the caldera rim was 2-3 cm thick, with some 15-20-cm bombs, but nothing larger than 1 cm was falling at the time. Up to 20 vents were active along the 1-2-km [8 km, see 5:1] circumferential fissure and individual fountains reached 100-m heights. As many as 13 lava flows coalesced downslope to the N and probably reached the sea on the first day. Billowing clouds were visible at the coast of Elizabeth Bay on the morning of 15 November, and two biological groups were reported to be investigating the lava/sea interface.

At 1500 on 14 November, a higher resolution NOAA satellite, VHRR Tiros 6, returned an infrared image showing the lava flow on the N flank and a high vapor plume heading S. The CDRS seismograph recorded 8 local events on 14 November and 6 on the following day. Observers at the site felt many tremors, but noted that eruptive intensity seemed to decrease after a peak around 2200-2300 on 14 November. Local haze increased during the next 2 days and vent activity declined steadily. Only four vents were active and fountaining had almost stopped by sunset on 16 November. At 0400 the next morning, however, observers were awakened by the largest explosion of their 5 days at the site. Fountaining increased immediately and continued to build to a peak around 5 hours later. That same night the wind changed, carrying haze ENE over Isla Santa Cruz and reducing visibility there to 2 km on 19 November.

Activity at the vents remained low on 18 and 19 November, when the group left. The flows continued, however, and on the morning of 19 November, NASA's Landsat C satellite returned a high-resolution near-infrared image clearly showing the main flow as a 100 m band bearing 030° for about 12 km from the vent area (figure 1). On that same day, tephra fragments to 5 mm in diameter were collected on the ship Delfin, over 100 km E of the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Western Galapagos Islands on 19 November 1979, the 7th day of the Sierra Negra eruption. A 130 x 165 km area is shown (a joined pair of Landsat C images). The large cloud near the base of the figure obscures the summit and S flank of Sierra Negra, but a prominent white eruptive cloud trends NNE from the eruption site near the volcano's N rim and a lava flow appears just E of the cloud as a thin white band trending NE for 12 km. The near-infrared image (Band 7) shows the vegetated portions of these volcanic islands as light gray, in contrast to the dark young lavas. Summit calderas of most volcanoes are visible. Images provided by NASA/GSFC (ID's: PAO file E-931-225BN and E-932-225BN).

As the CDRS group left the volcano, they noted an average tephra thickness of 3-5 cm on the caldera rim and serious damage to the biota on the upper SE flank. Acid rain and haze killed much vegetation and the group noted dead birds and rats. Residents of the S flank, who returned to their farms after the eruption's first day, reported damage to crops and livestock.

H. Hoeck was on the volcano 1-2 December and reported that the vegetation was beginning to recover. One large lava flow continued down the N slope, and several vents were steaming. Six small vapor vents were observed on the S floor of the caldera nearly 10 km S of the eruptive fissure. This caldera, the widest (10 x 7 km) and shallowest in the Galápagos, was not otherwise affected by the eruption, and Arnaldo Tupiza (CDRS representative on Isabela and very familiar with the volcano) recognizes these six vents as new.

None of the eruption earthquakes have yet been located on the WWSSN [but see 4:12], but a magnitude 5.0 event was located in the Galápagos at 1006 on 28 October. Its preliminary epicenter determination is 60 km NW of the eruption site.

Geologic Background. The broad shield volcano of Sierra Negra at the southern end of Isabela Island contains a shallow 7 x 10.5 km caldera that is the largest in the Galápagos Islands. Flank vents abound, including cinder cones and spatter cones concentrated along an ENE-trending rift system and tuff cones along the coast and forming offshore islands. The 1124-m-high volcano is elongated in a NE direction. Although it is the largest of the five major Isabela volcanoes, it has the flattest slopes, averaging less than 5 degrees and diminishing to 2 degrees near the coast. A sinuous 14-km-long, N-S-trending ridge occupies the west part of the caldera floor, which lies only about 100 m below its rim. Volcán de Azufre, the largest fumarolic area in the Galápagos Islands, lies within a graben between this ridge and the west caldera wall. Lava flows from a major eruption in 1979 extend all the way to the north coast from circumferential fissure vents on the upper northern flank. Sierra Negra, along with Cerro Azul and Volcán Wolf, is one of the most active of Isabela Island volcanoes.

Information Contacts: P. Ramón, J. Budris, H. Hoeck, P. López, and J. Villa, CDRS, Galápagos; M. Hall, Escuela Politécnica, Quito; A. Krueger, NOAA/NESS; C. Wood, NASA/GSFC; B. Presgrave, USGS/NEIS, Denver, CO.


Ontakesan (Japan) — November 1979 Citation iconCite this Report

Ontakesan

Japan

35.893°N, 137.48°E; summit elev. 3067 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


More information on 28 October eruption

On-take's first eruption in historic time began suddenly before dawn on 28 October. No initial explosion was heard and no shock wave was recorded by JMA seismic stations, [but long-duration tremor was recorded from 0520 that may have been eruption tremor]. Ash emission continued through the day, intermittently during the morning but continuously during the afternoon, with strongest activity at about 1400. A dark ash cloud rose about 1 km (figure 2). About 1.5 m of ash fell near the summit and a few tens of centimeters fell on the flank. [A few millimeters] were deposited on [the villages of] Kaida-mura (12 km NE) and Mitake-mura (14 km SE), [the nearest inhabited areas] and slight ashfall covered a wide area as far as 150 km NE of the volcano (figure 3). No ejections of incandescent blocks were seen, but aerial observers reported that blocks were scattered around the vents (see below). Activity declined to white vapor emission before dawn on 29 October, although a slight ashfall occurred at a nearby village that morning. Steaming continued at varying intensity through mid-November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Eruption or vapor cloud height above the summit 28-October-16 November, courtesy of JMA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Sketch map of S Honshu and Shikoku Islands, Japan. Area of ashfall from On-take is shaded. Courtesy of JMA.

During the eruption, numerous vents were active in a 500 m-long NW-SE-trending zone near the summit (figures 1 and 4). Along some portions of the zone, curtains of steam were visible from the air on 28 October. Kazuaki Nakamura reported that 10 small craters were seen during an aerial inspection on 3 November; four craters were emitting vapor. Takeshi Kobayashi, who has studied the volcano for 20 years, reported that no fumaroles existed prior to the eruption in the new vent zone.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Zone of new vents on On-Take, sketched from the air on 3 November 1979 by Kazuaki Nakamura. Numerous vents that had existed along the fissure on 28 October were no longer visible at the time of this flight. The 28 October ash cloud was ejected by Vent 1, the largest of the vents at 30 m diameter. The other vents emitted mostly white steam during the eruption.

No historical eruptions are known from On-take, one of Japan's larger stratovolcanoes. Kobayashi reports that the youngest 14C dates from On-take, 23,000 BP, are from scoria and lava flows composed of two-pyroxene andesite, ejected from at least five craters forming a NNE-SSW line on the N flank.

Further References. Aoki, H., 1980, A compilation of reports on the volcanic activity and hazards of the 1979 eruption of On-take volcano: Special publication by the research group for the 1979 On-take eruption, no. B-54-3, 168 p.

Aramaki, S., and Ossaka, J., 1983, Eruption of On-takesan, October 28, 1979, in XVIII IUGG General Assembly, Hamburg, Report on volcano activities and studies in Japan for the period from 1979 to 1982, p. 1-7.

Geologic Background. The massive Ontakesan stratovolcano, the second highest volcano in Japan, lies at the southern end of the Northern Japan Alps. Ascending this volcano is one of the major objects of religious pilgrimage in central Japan. It is constructed within a largely buried 4 x 5 km caldera and occupies the southern end of the Norikura volcanic zone, which extends northward to Yakedake volcano. The older volcanic complex consisted of at least four major stratovolcanoes constructed from about 680,000 to about 420,000 years ago, after which Ontakesan was inactive for more than 300,000 years. The broad, elongated summit of the younger edifice is cut by a series of small explosion craters along a NNE-trending line. Several phreatic eruptions post-date the roughly 7300-year-old Akahoya tephra from Kikai caldera. The first historical eruption took place in 1979 from fissures near the summit. A non-eruptive landslide in 1984 produced a debris avalanche and lahar that swept down valleys south and east of the volcano. Very minor phreatic activity caused a dusting of ash near the summit in 1991 and 2007. A significant phreatic explosion in September 2014, when a large number of hikers were at or near the summit, resulted in many fatalities.

Information Contacts: JMA, Tokyo; JMA also forwarded information fromT. Kobayashi (Toyama Univ.); K. Nakamura, ERI, Univ. of Tokyo.


Santa Maria (Guatemala) — November 1979 Citation iconCite this Report

Santa Maria

Guatemala

14.757°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Periodic pyroclastic eruptions; lava flow spawning nuées ardentes

The following report was received from Dartmouth College geologists who observed the volcano 11-24 November 1979.

"Activity was confined to the crater of Caliente dome, the oldest dome in the complex. Periodic pyroclastic eruptions were the predominant type of activity, occurring on average every 30 minutes (standard deviation = 24 minutes for n = 67). These eruptions lasted an average of 130 seconds (standard deviation = 150 seconds for n = 72). The eruption cloud in most instances rose about 1,500 m above the Caliente summit with some rising to 1,900 m (500 m above the summit of Santa María). At night, incandescent material was visible within the eruption columns. The pyroclastic activity has produced a horseshoe-shaped cone in the summit of Caliente vent which is open to the SSW. Ash generally blew NW and fell as far away as 3 km, where the leaves of plants were covered.

"COSPEC measurements of SO2 emission during the pyroclastic events show that 10-20 t/d of SO2 were being emitted from Santiaguito. The range of emission values is due to variations in the recorded eruption rates from day to day.

"Observations from the Finca Florida overlook S of the dome showed that there was a viscous flow moving out of the summit cone towards the SSW. The flow had proceeded perhaps 1/4 of the way down the side of the dome. Periodically there were rockfalls off the front of the flow that roll down the flanks of the dome into a barranca (dry valley). At night these rock falls were often spectacularly incandescent.

"Nuées ardentes that glowed at night were observed. They originated from Caliente crater. These appeared to erupt from the toe of the Caliente vent lava flow, perhaps generated when rock fell off the front of the flow exposing hot material beneath. The nuées traveled the same general path as the hot rock avalanches, SW into the barranca. Sporadic observations suggest that large nuées possibly occurred twice a day.

"Geologists ascending the dome made measurements on some of the fumaroles on Caliente. Most of the fumarolic vents seemed to be cooling off. Sapper fumarole was measured at around 82°C, significantly cooler than the temperatures of 170-300°C reported by Stoiber and Rose (1970) for the period of 1965-69. On the other hand, the von Türkheim fumarole seemed to have increased slightly in temperature to 120°C. There also appeared to be deposition of sulfur minerals at von Türkheim where previously only anhydrite was being deposited."

Geologic Background. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that is cut on the SW flank by a 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned Plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four westward-younging vents, the most recent of which is Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Information Contacts: R. Stoiber, L. Malinconico, R. Naslund, and S. Williams, Dartmouth College.


Shikotsu (Japan) — November 1979 Citation iconCite this Report

Shikotsu

Japan

42.688°N, 141.38°E; summit elev. 1320 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Brief increase in seismicity, but no eruption

An increase in the number of local earthquakes and a resumption of tremor events occurred in mid-September, but no eruption was observed. In October, seismicity returned to normal levels and no tremor events were recorded.

Geologic Background. The 13 x 15 km Shikotsu caldera, largely filled by the waters of Lake Shikotsu, was formed during one of Hokkaido's largest Quaternary eruptions about 31-34,000 years ago. The small andesitic Tarumaesan stratovolcano was then constructed on its SE rim and has been frequently active in historical time. Pyroclastic-flow deposits from Tarumaesan extend nearly to the Pacific coast. Two other Holocene post-caldera volcanoes, Fuppushidake (adjacent to Tarumaesan) and Eniwadake (on the opposite side of the caldera), occur on a line trending NW from Tarumaesan, and were constructed just inside the caldera rim. Minor eruptions took place from the summit of Eniwadake as late as the 17th century. The summit of Tarumaesan contains a small 1.5-km-wide caldera formed during two of Hokkaido's largest historical eruptions, in 1667 and 1739. Tarumaesan is now capped by a flat-topped summit lava dome that formed in 1909.

Information Contacts: JMA, Tokyo.


Soufriere St. Vincent (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) — November 1979 Citation iconCite this Report

Soufriere St. Vincent

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

13.33°N, 61.18°W; summit elev. 1220 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava extrusion stopped

No lava has been extruded into Soufrière's central crater since the survey of 25 October. However, monitoring of the volcano by the Seismic Research Unit, University of the West Indies, continues. Data from four seismometers are telemetered continuously to Trinidad, and scientists visit the volcano every weekend.

Further References. Fiske, R., and Sigurdsson, H. (eds)., 1982, Soufrière Volcano, St. Vincent: Observations of its 1979 eruption from the ground, aircraft, and satellites: Science, v. 216, no. 4550, p. 1105-1126 (11 papers).

Shepherd, J.B., Aspinall, W.P., Rowley, K.C., and others, 1979, The eruption of Soufrière Volcano, St. Vincent April-June 1979: Nature, v. 282, p. 24-28.

Shepherd, J.B., and Sigurdsson, H., 1982, Mechanism of the 1979 Explosive Eruption of Soufrière Volcano, St. Vincent: JVGR, v. 13, p. 119-130.

Sparks, R.S.J., and Wilson, L., 1982, Explosive volcanic eruptions - V. Observations of plume dynamics during the Soufrière eruption, St. Vincent: Geophysical Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, v. 69, p. 551-570.

Geologic Background. Soufrière St. Vincent is the northernmost and youngest volcano on St. Vincent Island. The NE rim of the 1.6-km wide summit crater is cut by a crater formed in 1812. The crater itself lies on the SW margin of a larger 2.2-km-wide Somma crater, which is breached widely to the SW as a result of slope failure. Frequent explosive eruptions since about 4300 years ago produced pyroclastic deposits of the Yellow Tephra Formation, which blanket much of the island. The first historical eruption took place in 1718; it and the 1812 eruption produced major explosions. Much of the northern end of the island was devastated by a major eruption in 1902 that coincided with the catastrophic Mont Pelée eruption on Martinique. A lava dome was emplaced in the summit crater in 1971 during a strictly effusive eruption, forming an island in a lake that filled the crater prior to an eruption in 1979. The lake was then largely ejected during a series of explosive eruptions, and the dome was replaced with another.

Information Contacts: J. Tomblin, UWI.


White Island (New Zealand) — November 1979 Citation iconCite this Report

White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 321 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Mild fume emission

White Island was overflown 25 October, about a month after the previous aerial inspection. A weakly convoluting pink fume cloud rose to about 500 m from the eruption vent in 1978 Crater, and moderate steam emission occurred from fumaroles elsewhere in the main crater. Brown ash mantled the main crater floor, and a few blocks and apparent impact craters were visible near 1978 Crater.

Seismic activity between 28 September and 25 October typically consisted of intermittent to semicontinuous bursts of high-frequency tremor, with few quiet periods. Strong local earthquakes were rare.

Further Reference. Houghton, B.F., Scott, B.J., Nairn, I.A., and Wood, C.P., 1983, Cyclic Variation in Eruption Products, White Island Volcano, New Zealand, 1976-1979; New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, v. 26, p. 213-216.

Geologic Background. Uninhabited 2 x 2.4 km White Island, one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes, is the emergent summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 50 km offshore of North Island. The island consists of two overlapping andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcanoes; the summit crater appears to be breached to the SE, because the shoreline corresponds to the level of several notches in the SE crater wall. Volckner Rocks, four sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NNE. Intermittent moderate phreatomagmatic and strombolian eruptions have occurred throughout the short historical period beginning in 1826, but its activity also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. Formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries has produced rapid changes in crater floor topography. Collapse of the crater wall in 1914 produced a debris avalanche that buried buildings and workers at a sulfur-mining project.

Information Contacts: I. Nairn, NZGS, Rotorua.

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.

View Atmospheric Effects Reports

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

View Special Announcements Reports

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 (SEAN 22:08) False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (SEAN 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/).