Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

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

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

 Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 16, Number 02 (February 1991)

Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland

Aira (Japan)

Continued explosions but no damage

Akan (Japan)

Seismicity and steam emission persist

Apoyo (Nicaragua)

No fumarolic or seismic activity

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Explosions continue

Asosan (Japan)

Tremor amplitude and steam emission decline

Colima (Mexico)

Lava extrusion onto summit dome after increased seismicity and fumarolic activity; fish kill in nearby lakes

Concepcion (Nicaragua)

Weak gas emission but fumaroles obscured by clouds

Fuego (Guatemala)

Prominent plume; moderate SO2 emission

Galeras (Colombia)

Ash emissions and incandescence; more frequent earthquakes

Irazu (Costa Rica)

Seismicity declines

Kilauea (United States)

Lava flows build more new land at coast

Kusatsu-Shiranesan (Japan)

Continued seismicity but no surface changes

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Vapor/ash emission and glow

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Seismicity increases slightly

Masaya (Nicaragua)

Rockfall activity declines after November 1989 collapse

Mombacho (Nicaragua)

Continued gas emission

Momotombo (Nicaragua)

Fumarolic activity declines

Negro, Cerro (Nicaragua)

Continued fumarolic activity

Nejapa-Miraflores (Nicaragua)

No thermal activity despite reported gas emission after early 20th century quakes

Pacaya (Guatemala)

Strombolian eruptions and small lava flows; little SO2 emission

Pilas, Las (Nicaragua)

Continued fumarolic activity; many young prehistoric lava flows

Poas (Costa Rica)

Phreatic eruptions resume from lake floor; frequent earthquakes and tremor

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Minor inflation but seismicity remains weak

Rota (Nicaragua)

No sign of activity despite seismic swarms in the late 1970's

Ruiz, Nevado del (Colombia)

Small ash emissions with tremor

San Cristobal (Nicaragua)

Strong gas plume from San Cristóbal; fumarolic activity at Casita

Santa Maria (Guatemala)

Explosive activity declines; new volcano observatory

Telica (Nicaragua)

Large vapor clouds; fumaroles to 246°C

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea)

Small earthquake swarm but no change in vapor emission

Unzendake (Japan)

Ash emission declines; continued strong seismicity

White Island (New Zealand)

Block/ash ejection from October vent

Aira (Japan) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Continued explosions but no damage

Minami-dake cone had ten recorded explosions in February, but the activity caused no damage. The month's highest ash cloud reached 1,200 m. A total of 6 grams/m2 of ash was deposited [at KLMO]. Two swarms of volcanic earthquakes were recorded, on 16 and 28 February.

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.

Akan (Japan) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



43.384°N, 144.013°E; summit elev. 1499 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Seismicity and steam emission persist

A total of 140 earthquakes was recorded in February . . . . Steam emission appeared unchanged, with plumes reaching 500 m height.

Geologic Background. Akan is a 13 x 24 km caldera located immediately SW of Kussharo caldera. The elongated, irregular outline of the caldera rim reflects its incremental formation during major explosive eruptions from the early to mid-Pleistocene. Growth of four post-caldera stratovolcanoes, three at the SW end of the caldera and the other at the NE side, has restricted the size of the caldera lake. Conical Oakandake was frequently active during the Holocene. The 1-km-wide Nakamachineshiri crater of Meakandake was formed during a major pumice-and-scoria eruption about 13,500 years ago. Within the Akan volcanic complex, only the Meakandake group, east of Lake Akan, has been historically active, producing mild phreatic eruptions since the beginning of the 19th century. Meakandake is composed of nine overlapping cones. The main cone of Meakandake proper has a triple crater at its summit. Historical eruptions at Meakandake have consisted of minor phreatic explosions, but four major magmatic eruptions including pyroclastic flows have occurred during the Holocene.

Information Contacts: JMA.

Apoyo (Nicaragua) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



11.92°N, 86.03°W; summit elev. 600 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

No fumarolic or seismic activity

"No fumarolic or seismic activity was detected in 1990."

Geologic Background. The scenic 7-km-wide, lake-filled Apoyo caldera is a large silicic volcanic center immediately SE of Masaya caldera. The surface of Laguna de Apoyo lies only 78 m above sea level; the steep caldera walls rise about 100 m to the eastern rim and up to 500 m to the western rim. An early shield volcano constructed of basaltic-to-andesitic lava flows and small rhyodacitic lava domes collapsed following two major dacitic explosive eruptions. The caldera-forming eruptions have been radiocarbon dated between about 21,000-25,000 years before present. Post-caldera ring-fracture eruptions of uncertain age produced lava flows below the scalloped caldera rim. The slightly arcuate, N-S-trending La Joya fracture system that cuts the eastern flank of the caldera only 2 km east of the caldera rim is a younger regional fissure system structurally unrelated to Apoyo caldera.

Information Contacts: B. van Wyk de Vries, O. Castellón, A. Murales, and V. Tenorio, INETER.

Arenal (Costa Rica) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report


Costa Rica

10.463°N, 84.703°W; summit elev. 1670 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Explosions continue

During February, explosive activity continued, with an average of three recorded explosions daily. Seismic activity was at low levels (figure 36). Strong emissions of water-rich gas were accompanied by prevalent volcanic tremor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Daily number of earthquakes at Arenal, February 1991. Courtesy of Rafael Barquero and Mario Fernández.

Geologic Background. Conical Volcán Arenal is the youngest stratovolcano in Costa Rica and one of its most active. The 1670-m-high andesitic volcano towers above the eastern shores of Lake Arenal, which has been enlarged by a hydroelectric project. Arenal lies along a volcanic chain that has migrated to the NW from the late-Pleistocene Los Perdidos lava domes through the Pleistocene-to-Holocene Chato volcano, which contains a 500-m-wide, lake-filled summit crater. The earliest known eruptions of Arenal took place about 7000 years ago, and it was active concurrently with Cerro Chato until the activity of Chato ended about 3500 years ago. Growth of Arenal has been characterized by periodic major explosive eruptions at several-hundred-year intervals and periods of lava effusion that armor the cone. An eruptive period that began with a major explosive eruption in 1968 ended in December 2010; continuous explosive activity accompanied by slow lava effusion and the occasional emission of pyroclastic flows characterized the eruption from vents at the summit and on the upper western flank.

Information Contacts: R. Barquero, ICE; M. Fernández, Univ de Costa Rica.

Asosan (Japan) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Tremor amplitude and steam emission decline

Crater 1 weakly emitted ash on 5, 8, and 9 February, and steadily emitted steam to 100-200 m heights on other days, a decline from previous months. The highest steam emission of the month reached 300 m above the crater on the 7th. Continuous tremor amplitude, which had been high since October, has declined since the end of January. Activity continued at similar levels through early March.

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 cu km 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 AD. 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.

Colima (Mexico) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



19.514°N, 103.62°W; summit elev. 3850 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Lava extrusion onto summit dome after increased seismicity and fumarolic activity; fish kill in nearby lakes

New lava was extruded onto the summit dome after several weeks of increased seismicity, fumarolic activity, and dome fracturing.

Increased seismicity, mid-late February. Seismicity increased briefly on 14 February and strong fumarolic activity was observed on 16 February. [RESCO instruments recorded] a new seismic swarm that began on 23 February at about 1800, producing about 150 recognizable events in the first 24 hours and an additional 180 events in the following 24 hours (figures 11 and 12). A- and B-type earthquakes were again detected, and frequent small- to medium-sized Merapi-like (but non-incandescent) avalanches moved down the volcano's flanks from the crumbling edges of the summit lava dome. A white to sometimes light gray plume rose from the dome to a maximum height of roughly 1,000 m. No ashfalls have been reported. Records from a portable seismograph on the caldera floor showed little correlation between earthquakes and the avalanches, which produced a signal of distinctly higher frequency. However, fairly large B-type events sometimes seemed to trigger avalanches. On 26 February, 21 avalanches were observed in 6 hours. A period of relative seismic quiescence between 1530 and 2000 on 25 February was followed by renewed seismicity that continued at a rate of about 130 events/day. Some of the earthquakes have been located at 1-3 km depth ~6 km NNW of the volcano. Seismicity began to decrease after 27 February, but the number of avalanches increased, reaching a maximum on 2 March.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Number of seismic events recorded in 12-hour periods at RESCO reference station EZV6, about 8 km SW of Colima's summit, 1 February-13 March, 1991.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Section of a seismogram recorded on 25 February at RESCO station EZV7, on Colima's E flank.

Dome deformation and thermal activity, late February. During a 26 February ascent by Mitchell Ventura F. and Charles Connor, heavy degassing was occurring from the summit dome, concentrated on its SE and W sides. The hottest fumaroles (500-600°C) had been on the dome's W side during the past year (15:02). Since previous fieldwork on 16 December, new radial fractures had developed, 10->100 m long, 1 cm-1.5 m wide, and sometimes open to 5 m depth or more. Low-temperature (<200°C) fumaroles were found along most of the fractures. Fracture density was greatest on the dome's N to NW flanks, above a recent avalanche scar. Many of those fractures were 1-1.5 m wide and had vertical throws of 1-2 m (always down on the downslope side). Rockfalls were continuous on the dome's W to NW flanks, including blocks to 10 m3. Light lithic tephra falls occurred on the dome at about 1320 and 1345, within 150 m of the most active degassing in its W-central part.

Lava extrusion, early March. New lava was first observed on the dome 1 March. When [Ventura and Connor returned to] the summit the next day, the new lobe, on the W-central part of the dome, was ~20 m across and 6.5 m high. New lava was visible only on its top 1.5 m; the lower 5 m consisted of a steep rubble slope of old dome material. The most easily observed W side of the new lobe had an aa-like texture and was not highly fractured. Plagioclase phenocrysts were visible in the dark, apparently andesitic, lava. Although several rockfalls occurred from the lobe's lower slopes during 15 minutes of observation, no incandescence or lava movement was evident. Vigorous degassing occurred from a surrounding moat about 5 m wide, and the area was strongly fractured, mostly radial to the new extrusion. However, overall degassing had declined substantially. At one site ~75 m NW of the new lobe, along a prominent radial fracture, the strong fumarolic activity of 26 February had completely stopped by 2 March. Nearly all of the summit dome's prominent spines had been removed by heavy avalanching since 26 February.

[Ana Lillian Martín del Pozzo and colleagues reported that] by 3 March, the new lobe was slightly taller. When next observed 2 days later, a narrow tongue of lava had emerged from a breach in the lobe's E base and had been channeled into the adjacent moat. The (southward-sloping) lobe was estimated at 15 m high and 50 m across on 6 March. After that date, degassing and seismicity decreased sharply.

By mid-March, [CICBAS reported that] the new lobe was of sufficient size to be visible from Colima city (~30 km SSW of the volcano). Fumarolic activity increased again about 10 March, but seismicity remained at a low level. Geodetic data (J. Murray) showed little deformation of the somma-type caldera surrounding the N side of the volcano.

Seismic net. On 5 March, RESCO installed a new telemetering seismic station on the volcano's NNW flank (at El Soma), bringing the total number of telemetering stations to five on the volcano and two others nearby (at Alcomun and Cerro Grande). The digital acquisition system was re-established on 9 March.

Changes to nearby lakes. An abrupt 30-cm drop in the level of a group of small lakes 10.5 km SW of the summit (figure 13) was reported on 7 March. The level change in the largest lake (~200 m in diameter) was followed by the death of most fish within a few hours. Water samples collected on 10 March showed [fairly] high concentrations of CO32- and HCO3 and very low (below detection limits) concentration of As. The dead and dying fish showed no evidence of disease and no chemical products or insecticides are used in the area. Geologists noted that "Although it is difficult to give a definite explanation of the origin of these phenomena, the events may be interpreted in terms of the sudden dissolution of important quantities of CO2 in the lake water. This may be caused by fracturing associated with the the recent increase in shallow seismic activity at Colima, allowing magmatic gases to reach the aquifer system. At the measured pH of the water (8.90), the dissolved CO2 is present as carbonate and bicarbonate." [But this drop in lake level was later attributed to normal withdrawal of irrigation water; see 16:04.]

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Sketch map of Colima and the area to the S and W. Contour interval, 200 m. A group of lakes SW of the volcano was affected by fish kills and declines in water level: 1 - La María; 2 - El Jabalí; 3 - La Escondida. After Luhr, J. and Prestegaard, K., 1988, Caldera formation at Volcán Colima, México, by a large Holocene volcanic debris avalanche: JVGR, v. 35, p. 335-348.

Geologic Background. The Colima volcanic complex is the most prominent volcanic center of the western Mexican Volcanic Belt. It consists of two southward-younging volcanoes, Nevado de Colima (the 4320 m high point of the complex) on the north and the 3850-m-high historically active Volcán de Colima at the south. A group of cinder cones of late-Pleistocene age is located on the floor of the Colima graben west and east of the Colima complex. Volcán de Colima (also known as Volcán Fuego) is a youthful stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera, breached to the south, that has been the source of large debris avalanches. Major slope failures have occurred repeatedly from both the Nevado and Colima cones, and have produced a thick apron of debris-avalanche deposits on three sides of the complex. Frequent historical eruptions date back to the 16th century. Occasional major explosive eruptions (most recently in 1913) have destroyed the summit and left a deep, steep-sided crater that was slowly refilled and then overtopped by lava dome growth.

Information Contacts: Gilberto Ornelas-Arciniega, Ariel Ramírez-Vázquez, Francisco Núñez-Cornú, Hector Tamez, Guillermo Castellanos, and G.A. Reyes-Dávila, CICBAS, Universidad de Colima; S. de la Cruz-Reyna, I. Yokoyama, A. Nava, Z. Jiménez, and M.A. Armienta Hernández, UNAM; Julián Flores, Instituto de Geografía y Estadística, Univ de Guadalajara; C.B. Connor, FIU, Miami; Ana Lillian Martín del Pozzo, A. Aguayo, and J. Panohaya, Instituto de Geofísica, UNAM; D. Barrera, Centro de Ciencias de la Tierra, Univ de Guadalajara; Juan N. Cumplido, Guadalajara, México, G. González, Univ Autónoma de Puebla.

Concepcion (Nicaragua) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



11.538°N, 85.622°W; summit elev. 1700 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Weak gas emission but fumaroles obscured by clouds

"Ascents of the volcano in February 1990 revealed very low levels of gas emission. The gas escaping at crater level had a very weak sulfur smell. The exact location of the fumaroles in the crater is not known because cloud cover is nearly constant. Observations of the crater during the year from the base of the volcano did not detect any change. Loud noises were reported occasionally by local inhabitants. The most likely explanation for them is large rockfalls in the SW gully (300 m deep)."

Geologic Background. Volcán Concepción is one of Nicaragua's highest and most active volcanoes. The symmetrical basaltic-to-dacitic stratovolcano forms the NW half of the dumbbell-shaped island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua and is connected to neighboring Madera volcano by a narrow isthmus. A steep-walled summit crater is 250 m deep and has a higher western rim. N-S-trending fractures on the flanks of the volcano have produced chains of spatter cones, cinder cones, lava domes, and maars located on the NW, NE, SE, and southern sides extending in some cases down to Lake Nicaragua. Concepción was constructed above a basement of lake sediments, and the modern cone grew above a largely buried caldera, a small remnant of which forms a break in slope about halfway up the north flank. Frequent explosive eruptions during the past half century have increased the height of the summit significantly above that shown on current topographic maps and have kept the upper part of the volcano unvegetated.

Information Contacts: B. van Wyk de Vries, O. Castellón, A. Murales, and V. Tenorio, INETER.

Fuego (Guatemala) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Prominent plume; moderate SO2 emission

During an aerial survey on 10 February, no changes in crater morphology were evident since the previous overflight a year earlier (15:03). The plume remained prominent, and SO2 emission measured by COSPEC was 190 ± 21 t/d.

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: Rodolfo Morales and Gustavo Chigna, Sección de Vulcanología, INSIVUMEH; W.I. Rose, Robert Andres, and Kimberly Kogler, Michigan Technological Univ., USA.

Galeras (Colombia) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Ash emissions and incandescence; more frequent earthquakes

Three ash emissions and an increase in the level of incandescence were reported during February (table 4). Temperatures measured at Besolima fissure oscillated between 521 and 538°C (down from 738°C during January), while Las Deformes fumarole field had a maximum temperature of 262°C (similar to January, 250-265°C). SO2 fluxes, measured by COSPEC the last 4 days of the month, showed a steady decrease from 1,342 t/d (25 February) to 275 t/d (28 February).

Table 4. Reported activity and associated seismicity at Galeras, February 1991. Courtesy of INGEOMINAS.

[Skip text table]
    Date          Activity            Associated seismicity/duration

    10 Feb 1991   Incandescence       --
                   Ash emission       Long-period / 40 seconds
    14 Feb 1991   Ash emission &
                   high noise level   Tremor / 100 seconds
    18 Feb 1991   Ash emission        Long-period / 50 seconds
    19 Feb 1991   Incandescence       --
    21 Feb 1991   Incandescence       --

During February, 42 high-frequency earthquakes were recorded, of which 27 were M 1.1-2.3. The earthquakes were centered on the W flank of the volcano (figure 33). The number of low-frequency earthquakes (figure 34) increased 45% compared to January. Long-period seismicity remained at moderate levels, similar to the last half of January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Epicenter map (top) and E-W cross-section showing focal depths (bottom) of 27 high-frequency earthquakes recorded at Galeras, February 1991. Courtesy of INGEOMINAS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Daily number of low-frequency earthquakes recorded at Galeras, February 1991. Courtesy of INGEOMINAS.

Geologic Background. Galeras, a stratovolcano with a large breached caldera located immediately west of the city of Pasto, is one of Colombia's most frequently active volcanoes. The dominantly andesitic complex has been active for more than 1 million years, and two major caldera collapse eruptions took place during the late Pleistocene. Long-term extensive hydrothermal alteration has contributed to large-scale edifice collapse on at least three occasions, producing debris avalanches that swept to the west and left a large horseshoe-shaped caldera inside which the modern cone has been constructed. Major explosive eruptions since the mid-Holocene have produced widespread tephra deposits and pyroclastic flows that swept all but the southern flanks. A central cone slightly lower than the caldera rim has been the site of numerous small-to-moderate historical eruptions since the time of the Spanish conquistadors.

Information Contacts: INGEOMINAS-OVP.

Irazu (Costa Rica) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report


Costa Rica

9.979°N, 83.852°W; summit elev. 3432 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Seismicity declines

The seismic swarm that began 2 January continued through late February, but seismicity decreased to three small recorded events daily by the end of the month.

Geologic Background. Irazú, one of Costa Rica's most active volcanoes, rises immediately E of the capital city of San José. The massive volcano covers an area of 500 km2 and is vegetated to within a few hundred meters of its broad flat-topped summit crater complex. At least 10 satellitic cones are located on its S flank. No lava flows have been identified since the eruption of the massive Cervantes lava flows from S-flank vents about 14,000 years ago, and all known Holocene eruptions have been explosive. The focus of eruptions at the summit crater complex has migrated to the W towards the historically active crater, which contains a small lake of variable size and color. Although eruptions may have occurred around the time of the Spanish conquest, the first well-documented historical eruption occurred in 1723, and frequent explosive eruptions have occurred since. Ashfall from the last major eruption during 1963-65 caused significant disruption to San José and surrounding areas.

Information Contacts: R. Barquero, ICE; Mario Fernández, Escuela Centroamericana de Geología, Univ de Costa Rica.

Kilauea (United States) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Lava flows build more new land at coast

Lava . . . moved downslope through tubes and entered the ocean, adding new land on the W side of the lava field, where three main ocean entries were active in February (figure 77). The W entry continued to build a littoral cone on the 1989/90 sea cliff, but rapid erosion prevented new lava from persistently extending farther into the ocean in this area. Collapse of the W entry's small lava bench about 20 February exposed its feeder tube, and lava poured into the ocean in a high-pressure stream, building a new bench. At the central and E entries, new lava was accumulating below two earlier features, the 1989/90 sea cliff and the bench formed between fall 1990 and early 1991. Cumulative new land from these two entries extended ~30 m into the ocean along 125 m of shoreline, with the newest material covering an area ~10 m wide and half the length of the old bench. Pele's hair, spatter, and limu were abundant along the benches and the old sea cliff. Lava broke out from the tube system in several places on both the E and W sides of the flow field, but covered little new land and did not threaten additional homes. A lava pond remained active in Pu`u `O`o crater, which appeared essentially unchanged from the previous month.

Long-period tremor episodes remained frequent through early March, averaging ~2,000/day since mid-February, except for a brief decline 27-28 February to <1,000/day. A swarm of shallow, upper east rift microearthquakes occurred 15-17 February, reaching 129 events on the 17th, ~3x the average daily count, and this activity remained elevationated later in the month.

Geologic Background. Kilauea volcano, which overlaps the east 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 sq km, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.

Information Contacts: T. Moulds and P. Okubo, HVO.

Kusatsu-Shiranesan (Japan) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



36.618°N, 138.528°E; summit elev. 2165 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Continued seismicity but no surface changes

Earthquakes and tremor activity continued at levels similar to previous months. No changes in surface activity were observed.

Geologic Background. The Kusatsu-Shiranesan complex, located immediately north of Asama volcano, consists of a series of overlapping pyroclastic cones and three crater lakes. The andesitic-to-dacitic volcano was formed in three eruptive stages beginning in the early to mid-Pleistocene. The Pleistocene Oshi pyroclastic flow produced extensive welded tuffs and non-welded pumice that covers much of the E, S, and SW flanks. The latest eruptive stage began about 14,000 years ago. Historical eruptions have consisted of phreatic explosions from the acidic crater lakes or their margins. Fumaroles and hot springs that dot the flanks have strongly acidified many rivers draining from the volcano. The crater was the site of active sulfur mining for many years during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Information Contacts: JMA.

Langila (Papua New Guinea) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report


Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Vapor/ash emission and glow

"Activity remained at a low level in February. Crater 2 continued to produce weak-moderate emissions of white to pale grey vapour and ash, and at night a steady weak red glow was observed over the crater. Crater 3 emissions consisted of white vapour released at very low rates. Seismicity was also at a low level. On most days there were no volcanic earthquakes, but between 6 and 16 February up to 4 events/day were recorded."

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.

Manam (Papua New Guinea) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report


Papua New Guinea

4.08°S, 145.037°E; summit elev. 1807 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Seismicity increases slightly

"A slight increase in Manam's seismicity was noted in February, but otherwise activity remained at a very low level. Daily totals of low-frequency volcanic earthquakes rose from a few tens in January to as many as 800 in mid-February before declining to 200-300 at the end of the month. Earthquake amplitude increased slightly. The only emissions were white vapours released gently from Southern Crater. No sounds from the summit craters were reported and no night glow was seen. There were no significant changes in the trends of tiltmeter measurements."

Geologic Background. The 10-km-wide island of Manam, lying 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, is one of the country's most active volcanoes. Four large radial valleys extend from the unvegetated summit of the conical 1807-m-high basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks. These "avalanche valleys" channel lava flows and pyroclastic avalanches that have sometimes reached the coast. Five small satellitic centers are located near the island's shoreline on the northern, southern, and western sides. Two summit craters are present; both are active, although most historical eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE valley. Frequent historical eruptions, typically of mild-to-moderate scale, have been recorded since 1616. Occasional larger eruptions have produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached flat-lying coastal areas and entered the sea, sometimes impacting populated areas.

Information Contacts: C. McKee, RVO.

Masaya (Nicaragua) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



11.984°N, 86.161°W; summit elev. 635 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Rockfall activity declines after November 1989 collapse

"Growth of Santiago crater has slowed since the November 1989 collapse when 50,000 m3 of rock fell from the S (Plaza Sapper) side (figure 8). The overlook with protective wall and part of the parking lot were lost in this event. Cracks continue to open and widen on Plaza Sapper, but rockfalls decreased to negligible levels by April 1990. Seismic activity has been recorded at a station in the Masaya Volcano Museum, 5 km from the crater, and occasionally at a station in Nindirí crater, but overall, very little activity was detected. The tremor associated with the February 1989 lava lake and subsequent Strombolian activity (May-June 1989) was absent. Three samples of the 1989 ejecta were analysed at the Open Univ (UK); all are typical Masaya tholeiitic basalt, similar to that of 1965 and 1772. Fumarolic activity in Santiago is restricted to a few points surrounded by damp ground. Small areas of yellow sulfur deposits have built up locally. Vegetation has started to colonize the Nindirí and San Pedro craters, and some small grass patches have been established on the 1965 lava lake in Santiago.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Sketch map of Santiago crater, Masaya, 19 December 1990. Courtesy of B. van Wyk de Vries.

"A water well that was drilled 3 years ago, about 5 km N of the caldera (near the village of Veracruz) on the volcanic alignment extending from the volcano, was reported to have started to produce hot (almost boiling) water. Geologists from INETER are investigating the cause of this phenomenon. Two maar craters lie 1 km NE of the well."

Geologic Background. Masaya is one of Nicaragua's most unusual and most active volcanoes. It lies within the massive Pleistocene Las Sierras pyroclastic shield volcano and is a broad, 6 x 11 km basaltic caldera with steep-sided walls up to 300 m high. The caldera is filled on its NW end by more than a dozen vents that erupted along a circular, 4-km-diameter fracture system. The twin volcanoes of Nindirí and Masaya, the source of historical eruptions, were constructed at the southern end of the fracture system and contain multiple summit craters, including the currently active Santiago crater. A major basaltic Plinian tephra erupted from Masaya about 6500 years ago. Historical lava flows cover much of the caldera floor and have confined a lake to the far eastern end of the caldera. A lava flow from the 1670 eruption overtopped the north caldera rim. Masaya has been frequently active since the time of the Spanish Conquistadors, when an active lava lake prompted attempts to extract the volcano's molten "gold." Periods of long-term vigorous gas emission at roughly quarter-century intervals cause health hazards and crop damage.

Information Contacts: B. van Wyk de Vries, O. Castellón, A. Murales, and V. Tenorio, INETER.

Mombacho (Nicaragua) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



11.826°N, 85.968°W; summit elev. 1344 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Continued gas emission

"The fumarole in the S collapse crater continued to emit gas."

Geologic Background. Mombacho is an andesitic and basaltic stratovolcano on the shores of Lake Nicaragua south of the city of Granada that has undergone edifice collapse on several occasions. Two large horseshoe-shaped craters formed by edifice failure cut the summit on the NE and S flanks. The NE-flank scarp was the source of a large debris avalanche that produced an arcuate peninsula and a cluster of small islands (Las Isletas) in Lake Nicaragua. Two small, well-preserved cinder cones are located on the volcano's lower N flank. The only reported historical activity was in 1570, when a debris avalanche destroyed a village on the south side of the volcano. Although there were contemporary reports of an explosion, there is no direct evidence that the avalanche was accompanied by an eruption. Fumarolic fields and hot springs are found within the two collapse scarps and on the upper N flank.

Information Contacts: B. van Wyk de Vries, O. Castellón, A. Murales, and V. Tenorio, INETER.

Momotombo (Nicaragua) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



12.423°N, 86.539°W; summit elev. 1270 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Fumarolic activity declines

"Fumarolic activity showed a marked decrease in April. A group of French geologists has placed temperature and gas chemistry recording equipment, with a satellite link, in the crater. No data have yet been made available."

Geologic Background. Momotombo is a young stratovolcano that rises prominently above the NW shore of Lake Managua, forming one of Nicaragua's most familiar landmarks. Momotombo began growing about 4500 years ago at the SE end of the Marrabios Range and consists of a somma from an older edifice that is surmounted by a symmetrical younger cone with a 150 x 250 m wide summit crater. Young lava flows extend down the NW flank into the 4-km-wide Monte Galán caldera. The youthful cone of Momotombito forms an island offshore in Lake Managua. Momotombo has a long record of Strombolian eruptions, punctuated by occasional stronger explosive activity. The latest eruption, in 1905, produced a lava flow that traveled from the summit to the lower NE base. A small black plume was seen above the crater after a 10 April 1996 earthquake, but later observations noted no significant changes in the crater. A major geothermal field is located on the south flank.

Information Contacts: B. van Wyk de Vries, O. Castellón, A. Murales, and V. Tenorio, INETER.

Cerro Negro (Nicaragua) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Cerro Negro


12.506°N, 86.702°W; summit elev. 728 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Continued fumarolic activity

"The Cerro Negro fumaroles continue to have temperatures of <=250°C (December 1990)."

Geologic Background. Central America's youngest volcano, Cerro Negro, was born in April 1850 and has since been one of the most active volcanoes in Nicaragua. Cerro Negro is the largest, southernmost, and most recent of a group of four youthful cinder cones constructed along a NNW-SSE-trending line in the central Marrabios Range 5 km NW of Las Pilas volcano. Strombolian-to-subplinian eruptions at Cerro Negro at intervals of a few years to several decades have constructed a roughly 250-m-high basaltic cone and an associated lava field that is constrained by topography to extend primarily to the NE and SW. Cone and crater morphology at Cerro Negro have varied significantly during its eruptive history. Although Cerro Negro lies in a relatively unpopulated area, its occasional heavy ashfalls have caused damage to crops and buildings in populated regions of the Nicaraguan depression.

Information Contacts: B. van Wyk de Vries, O. Castellón, A. Murales, and V. Tenorio, INETER.

Nejapa-Miraflores (Nicaragua) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



12.12°N, 86.32°W; summit elev. 360 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

No thermal activity despite reported gas emission after early 20th century quakes

"The alignment extends from Apoyeque to Managua (figure 1) and lies on the W boundary fault of the Managua graben. Phreatomagmatic and Strombolian activity occurred during the past 30,000 years, with about 40 separate eruptions, the most recent <2,500 years ago. A study well drilled to 300 m in the San Carlos crater did not detect thermal activity. There were reports of gas emission after earth tremors in the early 20th century (El Heraldo, 24 October 1916) and some aftershocks of the 1972 Managua earthquake were located on the alignment."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Sketch map of the Nejapa-Miraflores alignment, after Bice (1980).

Reference. Bice, D.C., 1980, Tephra stratigraphy and physical aspects of recent volcanism near Managua, Nicaragua: Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 422 p.

Geologic Background. The N-S-trending Nejapa-Miraflores alignment, located near the western margin of the Nicaraguan graben, cuts through the western part of Nicaragua's capital city, Managua. This alignment, which has erupted tholeiitic basaltic rocks similar to those from mid-ocean ridges, marks the right-lateral offset of the Nicaraguan volcanic chain. A series of pit craters and fissure vents extends into Lake Managua and is continuous with the volcanic vents on the Chiltepe peninsula. An area of maars and tuff cones perpendicular to the N-S trend of the lineament forms the scalloped shoreline of Lake Managua. Laguna Tiscapa crater is located several kilometers to the east near the central part of the city of Managua. The elongated Nejapa and Ticoma pit craters are surrounded by small basaltic cinder cones and tuff cones. The Nejapa-Miraflores alignment (also known as Nejapa-Ticoma) has been the site of about 40 eruptions during the past 30,000 years, the most recent of which (from Asososca maar) occurred about 1250 years ago.

Information Contacts: B. van Wyk de Vries, O. Castellón, A. Murales, and V. Tenorio, INETER.

Pacaya (Guatemala) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



14.382°N, 90.601°W; summit elev. 2569 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Strombolian eruptions and small lava flows; little SO2 emission

Strombolian eruptions occurred every 1-3 minutes and small lava flows were active during 3 hours of fieldwork on the morning of 6 February and a 10 February overflight by INSIVUMEH and Michigan Technological Univ volcanologists. Similar conditions had been reported on 5 January (15:12). The lava flows emerged from a S flank vent about 100 m below the summit of MacKenney Cone. Substantial growth during the past year had built MacKenney Cone to several tens of meters above the pre-1965 summit crater.

SO2 emissions (determined by COSPEC from neighboring Cerro Chino cone) averaged 23 ± 11 t/d on 6 February, with a range of 4-60 t/d. The previous measurements, on 17 February 1990, yielded a mean of 30 ± 28 t/d and a range of 3-131 t/d (15:03).

Geologic Background. Eruptions from Pacaya, one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes, are frequently visible from Guatemala City, the nation's capital. This complex basaltic volcano was constructed just outside the southern topographic rim of the 14 x 16 km Pleistocene Amatitlán caldera. A cluster of dacitic lava domes occupies the southern caldera floor. The post-caldera Pacaya massif includes the ancestral Pacaya Viejo and Cerro Grande stratovolcanoes and the currently active Mackenney stratovolcano. Collapse of Pacaya Viejo between 600 and 1500 years ago produced a debris-avalanche deposit that extends 25 km onto the Pacific coastal plain and left an arcuate somma rim inside which the modern Pacaya volcano (Mackenney cone) grew. A subsidiary crater, Cerro Chino, was constructed on the NW somma rim and was last active in the 19th century. During the past several decades, activity has consisted of frequent strombolian eruptions with intermittent lava flow extrusion that has partially filled in the caldera moat and armored the flanks of Mackenney cone, punctuated by occasional larger explosive eruptions that partially destroy the summit of the growing young stratovolcano.

Information Contacts: Rodolfo Morales and Gustavo Chigna, Sección de Vulcanología, INSIVUMEH; W.I. Rose, Robert Andres, and Kimberly Kogler, Michigan Technological Univ.

Las Pilas (Nicaragua) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Las Pilas


12.495°N, 86.688°W; summit elev. 1088 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Continued fumarolic activity; many young prehistoric lava flows

"The El Hoyo fumarole was visited 3 times (15:04) and showed no discernable change from wet- to dry-season conditions (98°C). There is no other strong thermal activity in the summit region of El Hoyo.

"The central crater walls of El Hoyo (150 m deep) are composed of lava and agglutinated spatter, probably produced by Hawaiian activity (figure 1). In contrast, Las Pilas, Asososca, and Cerro Negro are predominantly scoria cones formed by Strombolian eruptions. All vents have produced extensive lava flows. Poorly vegetated flows extend up to 15 km from both Las Pilas and El Hoyo and are probably less than a few thousand years old."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Sketch map of the El Hoyo volcanic complex and Cerro Negro. After Bice (1980).

Reference. Bice, D.C., 1980, Tephra stratigraphy and physical aspects of recent volcanism near Managua, Nicaragua: Ph.D. Dissertation, Univ of California, Berkeley, 422 p.

Geologic Background. Las Pilas volcanic complex, overlooking Cerro Negro volcano to the NW, includes a diverse cluster of cones around the central vent, Las Pilas. A N-S-trending fracture system cutting across 1088-m-high Las Pilas (El Hoyo) is marked by numerous well-preserved flank vents, including maars, that are part of a 30-km-long volcanic massif. The Cerro Negro chain of cinder cones is listed separately in this compilation because of its extensive historical eruptions. The lake-filled Asososca maar is located adjacent to the conical 818-m-high Cerro Asososca cone on the southern side of the fissure system, south of the axis of the Marrabios Range. Two small maars west of Lake Managua are located at the southern end of the fissure. Aside from a possible eruption in the 16th century, the only historical eruptions of Las Pilas took place in the 1950s from a fissure that cuts the eastern side of the 700-m-wide summit crater and extends down the north flank.

Information Contacts: B. van Wyk de Vries, O. Castellón, A. Murales, and V. Tenorio, INETER.

Poas (Costa Rica) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report


Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Phreatic eruptions resume from lake floor; frequent earthquakes and tremor

On 6 March, phreatic eruptions of mud and water, last reported 8 May 1990, resumed. The ejections reached an average height of 10 m and appeared to be a nearly continuous fountain of material when observed 11 March. Crater lake level continued to drop during February (the maximum lake depth was estimated to be 3 m on 13 February). The average lake water temperature was 70°C, similar to values from December and January. Mud pots and fumaroles were visible on the edges and within the lake, the strongest producing "jet engine" sounds. Dome fumarole temperatures of 40-90°C were measured.

SO2 fluxes averaging 90 ± 30 (1 ) t/d, with a range of 50-160 t/d, were measured by COSPEC on 13 February. These values are similar to SO2 fluxes measured in late 1982. Residents on the SW and S flanks of the volcano reported sulfur odors.

ICE recorded 4353 microearthquakes 1-26 February (an average of 162 events/day; figure 36). Univ Nacional recorded a daily average of 246 earthquakes in February, most with low frequencies (1.5-2.5 Hz). The daily total increased to an average of 323 events during the first 7 days of March. The month's largest local earthquake (M 2.1) occurred on 11 February, 3.4 km E of the crater, at a depth of 18.4 km. A total of 29 hours of low-frequency tremor (the most since October 1990) was recorded in February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Daily number of earthquakes at Poás, 1 February-7 March 1991. Courtesy of Rafael Barquero and Mario Fernández.

Further Reference. Andres, R.J., Barquero, J., and Rose, W.I., 1992, New measurements of SO2 flux at Poás volcano, Costa Rica: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 49, p. 175-177.

Geologic Background. The broad, well-vegetated edifice of Poás, one of the most active volcanoes of Costa Rica, contains three craters along a N-S line. The frequently visited multi-hued summit crater lakes of the basaltic-to-dacitic volcano, which is one of Costa Rica's most prominent natural landmarks, are easily accessible by vehicle from the nearby capital city of San José. A N-S-trending fissure cutting the 2708-m-high complex stratovolcano extends to the lower northern flank, where it has produced the Congo stratovolcano and several lake-filled maars. The southernmost of the two summit crater lakes, Botos, is cold and clear and last erupted about 7500 years ago. The more prominent geothermally heated northern lake, Laguna Caliente, is one of the world's most acidic natural lakes, with a pH of near zero. It has been the site of frequent phreatic and phreatomagmatic eruptions since the first historical eruption was reported in 1828. Eruptions often include geyser-like ejections of crater-lake water.

Information Contacts: J. Barquero, OVSICORI; R. Barquero, ICE; M. Fernández, UCR; R.J. Andres and K. Kogler, Michigan Technological Univ, USA.

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report


Papua New Guinea

4.271°S, 152.203°E; summit elev. 688 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Minor inflation but seismicity remains weak

"Seismicity . . . returned to a low level in February, but ground deformation measurements indicated some uplift.

"The total number of caldera earthquakes for the month was 141, and daily totals ranged between 0 and 17. All events were of small magnitude (ML <1.0). Only three events were large enough to be located; these occurred on the NE (2) and NW (1) parts of the caldera seismic zone.

"Tide gauge measurements indicated a mild progressive rise in the Matupit Island area throughout February. The total uplift was ~25 mm. Slight uplift had also been indicated in January; ~7 mm between 11 and 31 January. Levelling measurements from Rabaul Town to Matupit Island indicated uplift of 10 mm at the S end of the island 10 January-8 March. The difference in these measurements is explained by the fact that the Matupit tide gauge is much closer to the source of deformation. The tide gauge is ~0.8 km from the SE coast of Matupit Island, and within a few hundred meters of the apex of the caldera floor bulge (evident since the early 1970's)."

Geologic Background. The low-lying Rabaul caldera on the tip of the Gazelle Peninsula at the NE end of New Britain forms a broad sheltered harbor utilized by what was the island's largest city prior to a major eruption in 1994. The outer flanks of the 688-m-high asymmetrical pyroclastic shield volcano are formed by thick pyroclastic-flow deposits. The 8 x 14 km caldera is widely breached on the east, where its floor is flooded by Blanche Bay and was formed about 1400 years ago. An earlier caldera-forming eruption about 7100 years ago is now considered to have originated from Tavui caldera, offshore to the north. Three small stratovolcanoes lie outside the northern and NE caldera rims. Post-caldera eruptions built basaltic-to-dacitic pyroclastic cones on the caldera floor near the NE and western caldera walls. Several of these, including Vulcan cone, which was formed during a large eruption in 1878, have produced major explosive activity during historical time. A powerful explosive eruption in 1994 occurred simultaneously from Vulcan and Tavurvur volcanoes and forced the temporary abandonment of Rabaul city.

Information Contacts: C. McKee, RVO.

Rota (Nicaragua) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



12.55°N, 86.75°W; summit elev. 832 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

No sign of activity despite seismic swarms in the late 1970's

"Seismic swarms, which occurred in the late 1970's, had indicated the possibility of an active magma chamber below the volcano. No sign of activity was detected during fieldwork. The most recent (but pre-historic) activity at Rota was a Plinian dacite eruption followed by andesite-dacite lava flows."

Geologic Background. The deeply eroded, forested Rota stratovolcano of Holocene age occupies the area between Cerro Negro volcano and the Telica volcanic complex in the central Marrabios Range. The 832-m-high volcano, also known as Orota, is truncated by a 1-km-wide circular crater whose rim is lowest on the southern side. The latest eruption from Rota produced thick andesitic lava flows from a NE-trending fissure NW of the summit. No historical eruptions are known from Volcán Rota, and Williams and McBirney (1965) considered the volcano to have been quiescent for many centuries. Seismic swarms occurred in 1986, 1989, and 1992. Two small NNW-SSE-trending lava domes, El Bosque (also known as Lomas San Ignacio del Bosque or Cerro Ojochal) are located on the plain 2 km north of the flank of Rota. They were constructed along the same trend as other eruptive fissures that extend transverse to the Marrabios Range volcanoes. An extensive lava field in this area was erupted from numerous small cones and maars.

Information Contacts: B. van Wyk de Vries, O. Castellón, A. Murales, and V. Tenorio, INETER, Apartado 1761, Managua, Nicaragua.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Nevado del Ruiz


4.892°N, 75.324°W; summit elev. 5279 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Small ash emissions with tremor

Sporadic, small ash emissions continued, while seismicity remained at low levels during February. No significant variations in energy release or number of events were recorded. High-frequency earthquakes occurred in three zones; at the crater, and to its S and E (earthquakes had not recently occurred in the latter zone). Low-level tremor pulses were often associated with the ash emissions. No significant changes in deformation were observed. The monthly average SO2 flux, measured by COSPEC, was 753 t/d.

Geologic Background. Nevado del Ruiz is a broad, glacier-covered volcano in central Colombia that covers >200 sq km. Three major edifices, composed of andesitic and dacitic lavas and andesitic pyroclastics, have been constructed since the beginning of the Pleistocene. The modern cone consists of a broad cluster of lava domes built within the caldera of an older edifice. The 1-km-wide, 240-m-deep Arenas crater occupies the summit. The prominent La Olleta pyroclastic cone located on the SW flank may also have been active in historical time. Steep headwalls of massive landslides cut the flanks. Melting of its summit icecap during historical eruptions, which date back to the 16th century, has resulted in devastating lahars, including one in 1985 that was South America's deadliest eruption.

Information Contacts: C. Carvajal, INGEOMINAS, Manizales.

San Cristobal (Nicaragua) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

San Cristobal


12.702°N, 87.004°W; summit elev. 1745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Strong gas plume from San Cristóbal; fumarolic activity at Casita

"The gas plume [from San Cristóbal] was continuously present and had not diminished since 1989. The plume could usually be traced up to 60 km from the volcano. Geologists visiting the crater [of Casita] reported fumarole temperatures of up to 98°C. Fumaroles in the S and E parts of the crater were H2O-rich and below 50°C."

Geologic Background. The San Cristóbal volcanic complex, consisting of five principal volcanic edifices, forms the NW end of the Marrabios Range. The symmetrical 1745-m-high youngest cone, named San Cristóbal (also known as El Viejo), is Nicaragua's highest volcano and is capped by a 500 x 600 m wide crater. El Chonco, with several flank lava domes, is located 4 km W of San Cristóbal; it and the eroded Moyotepe volcano, 4 km NE of San Cristóbal, are of Pleistocene age. Volcán Casita, containing an elongated summit crater, lies immediately east of San Cristóbal and was the site of a catastrophic landslide and lahar in 1998. The Plio-Pleistocene La Pelona caldera is located at the eastern end of the complex. Historical eruptions from San Cristóbal, consisting of small-to-moderate explosive activity, have been reported since the 16th century. Some other 16th-century eruptions attributed to Casita volcano are uncertain and may pertain to other Marrabios Range volcanoes.

Information Contacts: B. van Wyk de Vries, O. Castellón, A. Murales, and V. Tenorio, INETER.

Santa Maria (Guatemala) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Santa Maria


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Explosive activity declines; new volcano observatory

Seismometers near the volcano detected rates of rockfalls and explosions that were markedly lower in January and February (<10 explosions/day) than in most of 1990 (20-100 explosions/day; 15:11). The 8-9 February observations were from the newly constructed Santiaguito Volcano Observatory (figure 19) [see BGVN 15:11 for a description of the Observatory, including material originally in BGVN 16:02]. More than 20 pyroclastic flows and lateral blasts were observed between April and early December 1990, but none have been reported since then. SO2 emission measured by COSPEC (from 3.4 km S of the dome's Caliente vent) was 35 ± 7 t/d on 8 February and 62 ± 24 t/d the next day, similar to the 48 ± 15 t/d of 22 February 1990.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Santiaguito Dome complex (left background) with a small plume emerging from Caliente Vent at left-center. Santa María volcano is at center background, partially obscured by clouds. At right foreground is the new Santiaguito Volcano Observatory, at Finca El Faro, [7] km S of the dome.

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 3772-m-high stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that is cut on the SW flank by a large, 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: Rodolfo Morales and Gustavo Chigna, INSIVUMEH; William I. Rose, Robert Andres, and Kimberly Kogler, Michigan Tech.

Telica (Nicaragua) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



12.606°N, 86.84°W; summit elev. 1036 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Large vapor clouds; fumaroles to 246°C

"In February 1990, fumarolic activity had declined from 1989 levels, with no observed incandescence. On 29 May, large clouds were observed from León and El Limón mine (50 km away). Subsequent observations at the crater revealed a strong geyser-like steam vent in the 1984/1987 explosion pits (figures 3 and 4). The steam at the crater edge (200 m above the vent) was warm and highly toxic; respiration was impossible without a gas mask. Local inhabitants reported crop damage from acid rain up to 2 km from the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Sketch map of Telica showing the distribution of craters (numbered in order of increasing age), and the 1984 (A) and 1987 (B) explosion pits. Compiled from from aerial photos. Courtesy of Benjamin van Wyk de Vries.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Sketch map of Telica's W craters, showing fumarole distribution 13 June 1990, drawn from on-site observation and aerial photographs. Courtesy of B. van Wyk de Vries.

"Fumarole temperatures measured with an infrared radiometer on 13 June showed a maximum of 246°C in the SW side of the 1984/1987 explosion pits (figure 5). The steam vent was below 100°C. After heavy rain, the volume of steam increased enormously. The clear relationship between activity and precipitation was confirmed by local inhabitants, who claimed that such activity was common after storms, especially at the start of the wet season."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Sketch of Telica's 1984 / 87 explosion pits showing fumarole distribution and temperatures (in °C), 13 June 1990. All temperatures were measured using a Palmer "Colt" Radiometer with a 1° target field and 8-14 µm band, from 200-400 m distance. Courtesy of B. van Wyk de Vries.

Geologic Background. Telica, one of Nicaragua's most active volcanoes, has erupted frequently since the beginning of the Spanish era. This volcano group consists of several interlocking cones and vents with a general NW alignment. Sixteenth-century eruptions were reported at symmetrical Santa Clara volcano at the SW end of the group. However, its eroded and breached crater has been covered by forests throughout historical time, and these eruptions may have originated from Telica, whose upper slopes in contrast are unvegetated. The steep-sided cone of Telica is truncated by a 700-m-wide double crater; the southern crater, the source of recent eruptions, is 120 m deep. El Liston, immediately E, has several nested craters. The fumaroles and boiling mudpots of Hervideros de San Jacinto, SE of Telica, form a prominent geothermal area frequented by tourists, and geothermal exploration has occurred nearby.

Information Contacts: B. van Wyk de Vries, O. Castellón, A. Murales, and V. Tenorio, INETER.

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report


Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Small earthquake swarm but no change in vapor emission

"Activity at Ulawun has been at a low level since January 1990, producing small amounts of white vapour and few earthquakes. A temporary increase in seismicity was recorded between 11 and 20 February 1991. The peak was on 17 February when 295 medium-frequency volcanic earthquakes occurred. All of the events in this period were of very small magnitude. There was no change to the summit crater emissions, which continued to consist of white vapour."

Geologic Background. The symmetrical basaltic-to-andesitic Ulawun stratovolcano is the highest volcano of the Bismarck arc, and one of Papua New Guinea's most frequently active. The volcano, also known as the Father, rises above the north coast of the island of New Britain across a low saddle NE of Bamus volcano, the South Son. The upper 1000 m is unvegetated. A prominent E-W-trending escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and E flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side, and a flank lava-flow complex lies to the south of this valley. Historical eruptions date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions were mildly explosive until 1967, but after 1970 several larger eruptions produced lava flows and basaltic pyroclastic flows, greatly modifying the summit crater.

Information Contacts: C. McKee, RVO.

Unzendake (Japan) — February 1991 Citation iconCite this Report



32.761°N, 130.299°E; summit elev. 1483 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Ash emission declines; continued strong seismicity

No incandescence has been seen and no juvenile material has been detected in ash from the eruption that began on 12 February. Ash was present in steam plumes until the end of February. Near the vent, ash was 2-3 m thick by the end of February. Slight ashfall extended about 10 km downwind in February but there have been no reports of ashfall in early March. Steam emission gradually declined through early March (figure 12). Tsukumo-jima and Jigoku-ato craters, active in the November eruption remained quiet.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Height of steam cloud from Unzen, 17 November 1990-13 March 1991. Arrows mark eruptions on 17 November 1990 and 12 February 1991. Courtesy of JMA.

Seismicity was at high levels and no changes were associated with the February eruption. Earthquake swarms were recorded on 13 and 27 February, and on 3 March (figure 13). Felt earthquakes appear in table 4. The 27 February swarm was the strongest since the initial swarm occurred on 25 July 1990. A seismometer near the summit recorded 937 earthquakes in February, up from 572 in January. Epicenters were concentrated 3-5 km W of the summit, unchanged from previous months. About five tremor episodes were recorded/day beginning 25 January. On 18 February, 22 episodes were recorded, the highest total since the first tremor episode in July 1990.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Hourly number of recorded earthquakes at Unzen, 12 February-8 March 1991. Courtesy of JMA.

Table 4. Number of earthquakes felt at Unzendake Weather Station, 3.6 km SW of the summit, February-March 1991. Courtesy of JMA.

[Skip text table]
    Date      Felt Earthquakes

    05 Feb            1
    08 Feb            1
    13 Feb            4
    25 Feb            1
    26 Feb            3
    27 Feb           28
    28 Feb            8
    01 Mar            2
    03 Mar           11
    07 Mar            1
    10 Mar            1
    13 Mar            1
    17 Mar            2
    25 Mar            1
    28 Mar            2

Geologic Background. The massive Unzendake volcanic complex comprises much of the Shimabara Peninsula east of the city of Nagasaki. A 30-40-km-long, E-W-trending graben extends across the peninsula. Three large stratovolcanoes with complex structures, Kinugasa on the north, Fugen-dake at the east-center, and Kusenbu on the south, form topographic highs on the broad peninsula. Fugendake and Mayuyama volcanoes in the east-central portion of the andesitic-to-dacitic volcanic complex have been active during the Holocene. The Mayuyama lava dome complex, located along the eastern coast west of Shimabara City, formed about 4000 years ago and was the source of a devastating 1792 CE debris avalanche and tsunami. Historical eruptive activity has been restricted to the summit and flanks of Fugendake. The latest activity during 1990-95 formed a lava dome at the summit, accompanied by pyroclastic flows that caused fatalities and damaged populated areas near Shimabara City.

Information Contacts: JMA.

White Island (New Zealand) — February 1991 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)

Block/ash ejection from October vent

The first significant eruption on White Island since TV1 vent formed on 2 October took place on 8 February at about 2000. The tephra ejection episode was in the NE part of 1978/91 Crater and was associated with a 14-minute seismic signal that began at 2003 (table 8). Helicopter overflights by Robert Fleming had revealed no unusual activity on 4 February, but TV1 crater was emitting ash on the 6th. The 8 February eruption deposited a semi-continuous layer of blocks, generally 0.3-0.5 m across with some to 1 m, on the main crater floor within ~50 m of the 1978/91 Crater rim, and 5-20 mm of fine ash was spread over the E end of the island. Many blocks were almost ash-free, indicating that they had been ejected late in the episode. Blocks were more common in small gullies, where impact craters were rare, suggesting to geologists that they had been emplaced by lateral flow processes. No new scoria bombs were found, but many blocks showed evidence of high-temperature vapor-phase alteration and recrystallization, including cavities lined with specular hematite crystals. The top of the ash layer was an anhydrite-rich crust ~1 mm thick, suggesting that the ash was hot (>56°C) when deposited. The ash also included scattered 1-4 mm accretionary lapilli. Several meters of ash had ponded on the floor of R.F. Crater, and longitudinal dunes were evident on the surface of the ash deposit, again suggesting emplacement by a flow process. New impact craters, probably made by the 8 February activity, were visible high on the S wall of the main crater. Wooden pegs near the crater were burned by blocks and charred by gas and ash on the side facing the vent.

Table 8. E-type seismicity recorded at White Island, January-February 1991.

[Skip text table]
    Date     Time        Characteristics

    13 Jan   0208-0258   Medium-high frequency
    21 Jan   1804-1909   Low-frequency
    22 Jan   0517-0607   Low-frequency
    04 Feb   1051-1105   Low-frequency
    08 Feb   2003-2017   Low-frequency onset, then high-frequency
                           eruption signature

Fumarole temperatures were little changed since December. Deformation was concentrated NE of 1978/91 crater, where a maximum of 20 mm deflation had occurred since November and 50 mm since August.

Seismicity was characterized by 0-5 A-type and 0-3 B-type events/day after data collection resumed on 27 December. On 1 January, 31 A-type shocks (to ML 3.1) were recorded and up to ten B-type shocks/day occurred 26-28 January. Five episodes of E-type seismicity were detected, including the eruption event of 8 February (table 8). Weak, low-frequency tremor followed the 14-minute E-type episode on 4 February, which lacked an associated high-frequency cigar-shaped eruption signal. Tremor was strongest (but still only 1-2 mm peak-to-peak) on 6-7 February.

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, DSIR Geology & Geophysics, Rotorua.

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 Atmospheric Effects

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

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


False Report of New Volcano




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-Gibraltar Fracture Zone

Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands

Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge

 Additional Reports (database)

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

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

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

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

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption


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


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


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



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



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/).