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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

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

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


Recently Published Bulletin Reports

Tinakula (Solomon Islands) Thermal anomalies in satellite data December 2018-June 2019; ship visit January 2019

Piton de la Fournaise (France) Eruptive episodes in February-March and June 2019; multiple fissures and lava flows

Semeru (Indonesia) Decreased activity after October 2018

Heard (Australia) Thermal hotspots continue during October 2018-March 2019 at the summit and on the upper flanks

Dukono (Indonesia) Numerous ash explosions from October 2018 through March 2019

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Occasional weak phreatic explosions continue through February 2019

Turrialba (Costa Rica) Frequent passive ash emissions continue through February 2019

San Cristobal (Nicaragua) Weak ash explosions in January and March 2019

Semisopochnoi (United States) Minor ash explosions during September and October 2018

Asosan (Japan) Multiple brief ash emission events during April and May 2019; minor ashfall in adjacent villages

Nyamuragira (DR Congo) Lava lake reappears in central crater in April 2018; activity tapers off during April 2019

Tengger Caldera (Indonesia) New explosions with ash plumes from Bromo Cone mid-February-April 2019



Tinakula (Solomon Islands) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Tinakula

Solomon Islands

10.386°S, 165.804°E; summit elev. 796 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal anomalies in satellite data December 2018-June 2019; ship visit January 2019

Remote Tinakula lies 100 km NE of the Solomon Trench at the N end of the Santa Cruz Islands, which are part of the country of the Solomon Islands located 400 km to the W. It has been uninhabited since an eruption with lava flows and ash explosions in 1971 when the small population was evacuated (CSLP 87-71). The nearest communities live on Te Motu (Trevanion) Island (about 30 km S), Nupani (40 km N), and the Reef Islands (60 km E); residents occasionally report noises from explosions at Tinakula. Ashfall from larger explosions has historically reached these islands. The most recent eruptive episode was a large ash explosion and substantial SO2 plume during 21-26 October 2017; satellite imagery suggested that a flow of some type traveled down the scarp on the W flank. Renewed thermal activity that was recognized in satellite imagery beginning in December 2018 continued intermittently through June 2019 and is covered in this report. Satellite imagery and thermal data are the primary sources of information for this volcano. It is occasionally visited by members of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) of the Solomon Islands Government, tourists, and research vessels who are able to capture ground-based information.

Satellite images from December 2018 to February 2019 show thermal anomalies at the summit vent. Excellent ship-based photographs of the island on 24-25 January 2019 provided by a crewmember from the R/V Petrel identify numerous volcanic features and show a steam-and-gas plume at the vent. Satellite images from April and May 2019 show thermal anomalies at both the summit vent and along the W flank scarp suggesting flow activity during that time.

A stream of incandescence on the NW flank of Tinakula in a Sentinel 2 satellite image on 24 October 2017 confirmed that some type of high-temperature flow accompanied the explosions and eruptive activity of 21-25 October 2017 (BGVN 43:02). Satellite imagery during most of 2018 recorded steam plumes drifting in several directions from the summit, but no thermal activity (figure 24). There was no further evidence of activity in satellite visible or thermal data until almost exactly one year later when the MIROVA project recorded two thermal alerts in the third week of October 2018 (figure 25). Satellite images from that week were cloudy and did not confirm any surface activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of Tinakula provides valuable information about activity at this remote volcano in the South Pacific. A large explosion with ash plumes and flows occurred during 21-26 October 2017. Top left: a strong E-W linear thermal anomaly suggesting a flow event from the summit was evident on the NW flank on 24 October 2017. Top right: a small steam plume rose from the summit vent on a cloudless 11 February 2018. Bottom left: a dense steam plume drifted SE from the summit vent on 4 September 2018. Bottom right: clouds and dense steam obscure the summit on 24 October 2018, about the same time that MIROVA reported a thermal anomaly. Top left image uses bands 12, 11, 8A, others use 12, 4, 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. The MIROVA project recorded the first thermal anomaly in a year from Tinakula during the third week of October 2018. Courtesy of MIROVA.

The first satellite imagery confirming renewed thermal activity appeared on 8 December 2018, around the same time as a small MIROVA anomaly. After that, several images during January and February 2019 confirmed moderately strong thermal activity at the summit (figure 26). Whether the anomalies were the result of active lava effusion or strong incandescent gases from the summit vent is uncertain.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Thermal anomalies at the summit vent of Tinakula were recorded six times between early December 2018 and early February 2019 with Sentinel-2 satellite images. Top row: 8 December 2018 and 2 January 2019. Middle row: 12 (anomaly is just below date) and 27 January 2019. Bottom row: 1 and 6 February 2019. All images are bands 12, 4, 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Visual confirmation of activity at Tinakula is rare, but the research vessel R/V Petrel sailed past the volcano on 24 and 25 January 2019 and a crewmember provided detailed images of the W flank and vent area. The summit vent is located at the top of a W facing scarp, and steam is frequently observed rising from the vent (figures 27). Recent flows and volcaniclastic deposits were visible in the ravine on the W flank (figures 28 and 29). Fresh-looking lava was also visible near the summit vent on top of older deposits (figure 30). Eroded volcaniclastic deposits near the base of the scarp on the W flank were visible on top of older veined and layered volcanic rocks (figure 31). Crewmembers on the vessel R/V Petrel could clearly see an incandescent glow from the summit crater at night (figure 32).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. A view from the SW of the W flank of Tinakula on 24-25 January 2019. The summit vent is at the top of a W facing scarp, the steam plume drifted E. Used with permission from Paul G Allen's Vulcan Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. The W flank of Tinakula as seen from the W on 24-25 January 2019. The steam plume drifted E. Recent flows and volcaniclastic deposits appeared dark in the steep ravine on the W face (left side). Used with permission from Paul G Allen's Vulcan Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Steam and gas rose from the summit vent at Tinakula on 24-25 January 2019. Recent lava deposits are visible in front of the plume and in the ravine on the left (the W flank). Used with permission from Paul G Allen's Vulcan Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. The edge of the summit vent of Tinakula on 24-25 January 2019 had recent lava on older deposits; steam and gas is rising from the vent in the background. Used with permission from Paul G Allen's Vulcan Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. The W flank of Tinakula on 24-25 January 2019. Eroded volcaniclastic deposits overlie older veined and layered volcanic rocks. Used with permission from Paul G Allen's Vulcan Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Incandescence was clearly visible from the summit vent at Tinakula on 24-25 January 2019. Used with permission from Paul G Allen's Vulcan Inc.

During April and May 2019, both the MIROVA project and MODVOLC measured a number of thermal anomalies (figure 33) using MODIS satellite data. MODVOLC alerts were issued on 4 and 20 April, and 11, 18, and 27 May. Sentinel-2 satellite images during the period confirmed that a flow on the W flank was a likely source of the thermal energy in addition to the summit vent (figure 34). Thermal anomalies appeared again at the end of June in MIROVA data, but no satellite images showed anomalies at that time.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. The number and intensity of MIROVA thermal anomalies increased at Tinakula during April and May 2019. After a short pause, they returned at the end of June. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Sentinel-2 satellite images captured thermal anomalies at the summit and on the W flank of Tinakula during April and May 2019 suggesting the presence of an incandescent flow down the W scarp. Top row: 7 and 22 April 2019 (bands 12, 8, 4). Bottom row: 27 April and 12 May 2019 (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The small 3.5-km-wide island of Tinakula is the exposed summit of a massive stratovolcano at the NW end of the Santa Cruz islands. Similar to Stromboli, it has a breached summit crater that extends from the summit to below sea level. Landslides enlarged this scarp in 1965, creating an embayment on the NW coast. The satellitic cone of Mendana is located on the SE side. The dominantly andesitic volcano has frequently been observed in eruption since the era of Spanish exploration began in 1595. In about 1840, an explosive eruption apparently produced pyroclastic flows that swept all sides of the island, killing its inhabitants. Frequent historical eruptions have originated from a cone constructed within the large breached crater. These have left the upper flanks and the steep apron of lava flows and volcaniclastic debris within the breach unvegetated.

Information Contacts: MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Vulcan Inc. (URL: https://www.vulcan.com/), additional details about the R/V Petrel (URL: https://www.paulallen.com/).


Piton de la Fournaise (France) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Piton de la Fournaise

France

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruptive episodes in February-March and June 2019; multiple fissures and lava flows

Short pulses of intermittent eruptive activity have characterized Piton de la Fournaise, the large basaltic shield volcano on La Réunion Island in the western Indian Ocean, for several thousand years. For the last 20 years, frequent effusive basaltic eruptions have occurred on average twice per year. The activity is characterized by lava fountains and lava flows, and occasional explosive eruptions that shower blocks over the summit area and produce ash plumes. Almost all of the recent activity has occurred within the Enclos Fouqué caldera, although past eruptions in 1977, 1986, and 1998 have occurred at vents outside of the caldera. Four separate eruptive episodes were reported during 2018; from 3-4 April, 27 April-1 June, 13 July, and 15 September-1 November (BGVN 43:12, 43:09). Two episodes from 2019 during February-March and June are covered in this report, with information provided primarily by the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF) as well as satellite instruments.

Piton de la Fournaise experienced two eruptions during November 2018-June 2019. The first lasted from 18 February to 10 March 2019, and the second episode was 11-13 June. The episode in February-March started consisted of multiple fissures opening on the E flank of the Dolomieu crater on 18 February with lava flows that traveled several hundred meters. After a brief pause, one new fissure opened nearby on 19 February and produced up to 3 million m3 of lava in a little over four days. Although the flow rate then declined, the eruption continued until 10 March. During the last three days, 7-10 March, two new fissures opened nearby and produced large volumes of lava, bringing the total eruptive volume to about 14.5 million m3. After little activity during April and May, a small eruption occurred on the SSE outer slope of Dolomieu crater that lasted for about 48 hours on 11-13 June; multiple small flows traveled about 1,000 m down the steep flank before ceasing. The MIROVA thermal anomaly graph of log radiative power clearly showed the abruptness of the beginning and ends of the last three eruptive episodes at Piton de la Fournaise from August 2018 through June 2019 (figure 165).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 165. The MIROVA graph of thermal energy from Piton de la Fournaise from 30 July 2018 through June 2019 shows the last three eruptive episodes at the volcano. From 15 September through 1 November 2018 fissures and flows were active on the SW flank of Dolomieu crater near Rivals crater (BGVN 43:12). Fissures opened on the E flank of the crater on 18 February 2019, and after a brief pause resumed on 19 February at the foot of Piton Madoré. Lava flows remained active until 10 March 2019. A short episode of lava effusion occurred on 11-12 June 2019 on the SSE outer slope of Dolomieu crater. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during November 2018-March 2019. Following the end of the 15 September-1 November 2018 eruption, seismic activity immediately below the summit remained low (with only 20 shallow and two deep earthquakes during November). The inflationary signal recorded since the beginning of September stopped, and the OVPF deformation networks did not record any significant deformation. There were 35 shallow earthquakes (0-2 km depth) below the summit crater during December, and one deep earthquake. Only 12 shallow earthquakes and one deep earthquake (greater than 2 km below the surface) were reported in January.

OVPF reported an increase in CO2 concentrations beginning in December 2018, and noted the beginning of inflation on 13 February 2019. A seismic swarm of 379 earthquakes accompanied by minor but rapid deformation (less than 1 cm) was reported on 16 February 2019. A new seismic swarm of 208 earthquakes began early on 18 February with a much larger ground deformation (10 cm of elongation of the summit zone). A volcanic tremor indicative of the arrival of magma near the surface began at 0948 that morning. Webcams indicated that eruptive fissures had opened in the NE part of the Enclos Fouqué caldera. The onset of the eruption was marked by a sudden drop in CO2 flux which then stabilized. The eruptive sites were confirmed visually around 1130. Three fissures with actively flowing lava opened on the E flank of Dolomieu Crater; the fountains of lava were less than 30 m high. The front of the longest flow had reached 1,900 m elevation after one hour. The eruption lasted a little over 12 hours and was over by 2200 that evening; it covered about 150-200 m of the hiking trail to the summit.

Seismicity remained high after the event ended, and at 1500 on 19 February 2019 another seismic swarm of 511 deep earthquakes located under the E flank at about 2.5 km depth occurred. It was not accompanied by a significant amount of deformation. At 1710 tremor signals appeared on the observatory seismographs and the first gas plumes and lava ejection were observed at 1750 and 1912, respectively. During an overflight the next day (20 February), OVPF team members observed the new eruptive site at an elevation of 1,800 m at the foot of Piton Madoré. One fissure and one fountain were active at 0620 on 20 February and the flow front was at 1,300 m elevation (figure 166). During the night of 20-21 February the flow front crossed over the "Grandes Pentes" area in the eastern half of the Enclos Fouque (figure 167).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 166. The eruption which began on 19 February 2019 on the E flank of Dolomieu crater at Piton de la Fournaise produced a lava fountain and flow which traveled down at least 500 m of elevation by the next morning when this photo was taken at 0620 local time. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du mercredi 20 février 2019 à 11h00, Heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 167. The active fissure at Piton de la Fournaise was producing lava fountains and an active flow during the evening of 20 February 2019. Overnight the flow crossed over the "Grandes Pentes" area of the caldera. Photo courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 21 février 2019 à 14H00, Heure locale).

OVPF reported on 22 February 2019 that 22 shallow earthquakes had been reported since the eruption began on 19 February. Surface flow rates estimated from satellite data, via the HOTVOLC system (OPGC - University of Auvergne), were between 2.5 and 15 m3/s. The quantity of lava emitted between 19 and 22 February was between 1 and 3 million m3. OVPF observed the growth of an eruptive cone that was filled with a small lava lake producing ejecta during a morning overflight on 22 February. A channelized flow moved downstream from the cone and split into two lobes about 1 km from (and 200 m below) the cone (figure 168). The split in the flow occurred near the Guyanin crater. The N flowing lobe, about 50 m wide, had an actively flowing front located at 1,320 m elevation; the incandescent flow was travelling over a recent flow (likely from the previous night). The S-flowing lobe spread to 200 m wide and split into two tongues 300 m SE of Guyanin crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 168. During an overflight on the morning of 22 February 2019 scientists from OVPF observed a growing spatter cone with a small lava lake at Piton de la Fournaise. A channelized flow moved downstream from the fissure and split into two flows. Photo courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 22 février 2019 à 13h30, Heure locale).

Incandescent ejecta from the cone was captured in a webcam image overnight on 22-23 February 2019 (figure 169). The rate of advance of the flow slowed significantly by 24 February, but the intensity of the eruptive tremor remained relatively constant. Mapping of the lava flow on 28 February carried out by the OI2 platform (OPGC - University Clermont Auvergne) from satellite data confirmed the slow progress of the flow after 24 February (300 m in 5 days) (figure 170). The flow front was located at 1,200 m elevation, and only the N arm was active; the lava had traveled about 2.2 km from the vent by 28 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 169. Incandescent ejecta from the eruptive cone at Piton de la Fournaise was captured in the webcam in the early hours of 23 February 2019. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du samedi 23 février 2019 à 13h30, Heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 170. Contours of the lava flows at Piton de la Fournaise from 18-28 February 2019 were determined from satellite data by the OI2 platform (Université Clermont Auvergne), dated 18 (red) and 19 (blue) February (top image); 20 (green), 21 (red), 22 (blue), 27 (turquoise), and 28 (pink) February (bottom image). Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP. Top: Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 22 février 2019 à 13h30 (Heure locale); bottom: Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 28 février 2019 à 16h30 (Heure locale).

Between 28 February and 1 March 2019 a third lobe of lava appeared flowing NE from the vent on the N side of the new flow area; it split into two lobes sometime on 1 March. Very little new lava was recorded on the other lobes. By 4 March the flow rate estimated by satellite data was about 7.5 m3/s. During a site visit on the morning of 5 March OVPF scientists sampled the N lobe of the flow and bombs and tephra near the cone, and acquired infrared and visible images. They noted the continued growth of the cone which still had an open vent at the summit and a base 100 m in diameter. It was 25 m high with a 50-m-wide eruptive vent at the top (figure 171). High-temperature gas emissions and strong Strombolian activity issued from the vent. Steam emissions were present around the base of the cone, suggesting the presence of lava tunnels. A single lobe of lava flowed N from the cone.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 171. The eruptive cone at Piton de la Fournaise on 5 March 2019 had a 100-m-diameter base, 25 m of vertical height, and 50-m-wide vent at the summit. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP, (Bulletin d'activité du mardi 5 mars 2019 à 17h30, Heure locale).

A new fissure that opened about 150 m from the main vent on the NW flank of Piton Madoré was first observed on the morning of 6 March (figure 172); OVPF concluded that it had opened late on 5 March. A small cone was forming and a new flow traveled N from the main eruptive site. At least six new emission points were noted the following morning (7 March) around the Piton Madoré. Poor weather prevented confirmation by aerial reconnaissance that day, but in a site visit on 8 March OVPF scientists determined that the new fissure from 5 March remained active; a small cone about 10 m high had two flow lobes on the W and N sides (figure 173). A fissure that opened on 7 March was located 300 m S of the 19 February vent and oriented E-W. It was very active on the morning of 8 March with two 50-m-high lava fountains (figure 174). Samples collected by OVPF indicated that the vents of 5 and 7 March produced lava of different compositions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 172. A new fissure that opened about 150 m from the main vent on the NW flank of Piton Madoré at Piton de la Fournaise was first observed on the morning of 6 March 2019; OVPF concluded that it had opened late on 5 March. A small cone was forming on the flank of an old one and a new flow traveled N from the main eruptive site. Courtesy of OVPF/IPGP, copyright by Helicopter Coral (Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 7 mars 2019 à 15h00 Heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 173. The 5 March 2019 fissure at Piton de la Fournaise on the NW flank of Piton Madoré still had two active flow lobes emerging from it and heading N and W on 8 March 2019. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory, March 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 174. A fissure that opened on 7 March 2019 at Piton de la Fournaise was located 300 m S of the 19 February vent and oriented E-W. It was very active on the morning of 8 March 2019 with two 50-m-high lava fountains. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory, March 2019).

There was a strong increase in the eruptive tremor intensity on 7 March, related to the opening of the two new fissures on 5 and 7 March (figure 175). As a result, the surface flow estimates made from satellite data increased significantly to high values greater than 50 m3/s, with the average values on 7-8 March of around 20-25 m3/s. The increased flow rates resulted in the flows traveling much greater distances. By the morning of 9 March the active flow had reached 650-700 m above sea level. The flow front had traveled about 1 km in 24 hours. Strong seismicity had been increasing under the summit zone for the previous 48 hours. After a phase of very strong surface activity observed overnight on 9-10 March that included lava fountains 50-100 m high (figure 176), surface activity ceased around 0630 on 10 March, and seismic activity decreased significantly. OVPF noted that sudden increases in seismicity and flow rates near the end of an eruption have occurred at about half of the eruptions at Piton de la Fournaise in recent years. Lava volumes emitted on the surface between 18 February and 10 March 2019 were estimated at about 14.5 million m3 (figure 177).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 175. An infrared view of the eruptive site on the E flank of Dolomieu crater at Piton de la Fournaise on 8 March 2019 clearly showed the original fissure from 19 February (bottom right of center), the fissure on Piton Madore that opened on 5 March (right) and the fissures that opened on 7 March (upper, right of center). The combined activity produced significant thermal and seismic activity at the volcano. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 8 mars 2019 à 17h00, Heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 176. Lava fountains 50-100 m high were the result of very strong surface activity observed overnight on 9-10 March 2019 at Piton de la Fournaise. Surface activity ceased around 0630 on 10 March, and seismic activity decreased significantly. Photo taken on 9 March 2019 around midnight from the RN2. Courtesy of OVPF/IPGP, copyright by A. Finizola LGSR/IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du dimanche 10 mars 2019 à 19h30 Heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 177. A sudden increase in the flow rate at the end of the 18 February-10 March 2019 eruption at Piton de la Fournaise was recorded by researchers at the Université Clermont Auvergne. OVPF noted this was typical of about half of the eruptions at Piton de la Fournaise. Courtesy of OVPF/IPGP, copyright by HOTVOLC, Université Clermont Auvergne (OVPF Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory, March 2019).

Significant SO2 plumes were captured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5-P satellite throughout the 18 February-10 March eruption (figure 178). After the surface eruption ceased, shallow seismicity continued at a lower rate of about 12 earthquakes per day. The end of the eruption (7-10 March) was accompanied by a marked deflation, interpreted by OVPF as the rapid emptying of the magma reservoir. Following the end of the eruption, inflation resumed for the rest of March but then ceased. Seismicity continued at a lower level during April with an average of six shallow earthquakes per day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 178. Multiple days of high DU value SO2 plumes were recorded by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5-P satellite during the 18 February-10 March 2019 eruption at Piton de la Fournaise. Top row: during 18, 21, and 22 February SO2 plumes drifted SE. Middle row: during 23, 24, and 25 February the wind direction changed from SE through S to SW and left a curling trail of SO2. Bottom row: 5, 7, and 8 March showed an increase in SO2 emissions that corresponded with increased seismicity and lava flow output before the eruption ceased.

Activity during May-June 2019. OVPF reported slight inflation near the summit beginning in early May, and an increase in CO2 concentration in the soil near Plaine des Cafres and Plaine des Palmistes. Strong shallow seismicity reappeared on 27 May 2019 and recurred on 30 and 31 May. Two small seismic swarms were measured on 31 May in the early morning. A new seismic swarm beginning at 0603 on 11 June accompanied by rapid deformation suggested a new eruption was imminent. A tremor near the summit area was first noted at 0635 local time; the webcams indicated a plume of gas, but poor visibility prevented evidence of fresh lava. Around 0930 that morning OVPF confirmed that five fissures had opened on the outer SSE slope of Dolomieu crater at elevations ranging from 2480 to 2025 m (figure 179). The flow fronts were not visible due to weather. Lava fountains under 30 m in height and lava flows were present in the three lowest fissures. The flows traveled rapidly down the steep flank of the crater (figure 180).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 179. Around 0930 on the morning of 11 June 2019 OVPF confirmed that five fissures had opened on the outer SSE slope of Dolomieu crater at Piton de la Fournaise at elevations ranging from 2480 to 2025 m. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF-IPGP and Imazpress (Bulletin d'activité du mardi 11 juin 2019 à 11h00).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 180. Thermal imaging of the 11-12 June 2019 eruptive site at Piton de la Fournaise showed multiple streams of lava traveling rapidly down the steep flank from several fissures on 11 June 2019. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF-IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du mardi 11 juin 2019 à 11h00).

The intensity of the eruptive tremor decreased throughout the day, and by 1530 only the lowest elevation fissure was still active (figure 181). The next afternoon (12 June) images in the OVPF webcam located in Piton des Cascades indicated the flow front was at about 1,200-1,300 m elevation. Seismographs indicated that the eruption stopped around 1200 on 13 June. Poor weather obscured visibility of the flow activity. Seismic activity decreased following the eruption, but appeared to increase again beginning on 21 June, with 10 events detected on 30 June. SO2 plumes were recorded in satellite data on 11 and 12 June 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 181. The intensity of the eruptive activity at Piton de la Fournaise on 11 June 2019 decreased throughout the day, and by 1530 only the lowest elevation fissure was still active. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF-IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du mardi 11 juin 2019 à 17h45 Heure locale).

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

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 14 route nationale 3, 27 ème km, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).


Semeru (Indonesia) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Semeru

Indonesia

8.108°S, 112.922°E; summit elev. 3657 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Decreased activity after October 2018

The ongoing eruption at Semeru has been characterized by numerous ash explosions and thermal anomalies, but activity apparently diminished in 2018 (BGVN 43:01 and 43:09); this decreased activity continued through at least February 2019. The current report summarizes activity from 24 August 2018 to 28 February 2019.

The Indonesian volcano monitoring agency, Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), reported ongoing daily seismicity, dominated by explosion earthquakes and emission-related events from late November through February (figure 35). Ash plumes resulting in aviation advisories by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) were reported on 4, 6-7, and 19 September, and 12 October 2018. The next significant ash plume reported by the VAAC wasn't until 24 February 2019 (table 23).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Seismicity recorded at Semeru during 28 November 2018-26 February 2019. Plot shows explosion earthquakes ('Letusan'), emission-related events ('Hembusan'), felt earthquakes ('Gempa Terasa'), local tectonic events ('Tektonic Lokal'), and distant tectonic events ('Tektonic Jauh'). Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia.

Table 23. Summary of ash plumes at Semeru during 25 August 2018 through February 2019. The summit is at 3,657 m elevation. Data courtesy of Darwin VAAC.

Date Plume altitude (km) Plume drift Remarks
04 Sep 2018 4.3 W --
06-07 Sep 2018 4.3 SW --
19 Sep 2018 4 SSW Possible ash-and-steam plume.
12 Oct 2018 4.5 W Discrete eruption.
24 Feb 2019 4.3 W Discrete volcanic ash eruption.

Thermal anomalies using MODIS satellite instruments processed by the MODVOLC algorithm were only recorded on 26, 28, and 30 August 2018, and 22 and 31 October 2018. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected numerous hotspots within 5 km of the volcano during August and early September, with a significant decrease in frequency through October (figure 36); only a few scattered hotspots were recorded from November 2018 through February 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. MIROVA plot of thermal anomalies (Log Radiative Power) at Semeru during July 2018-February 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. Semeru, the highest volcano on Java, and one of its most active, lies at the southern end of a volcanic massif extending north to the Tengger caldera. The steep-sided volcano, also referred to as Mahameru (Great Mountain), rises above coastal plains to the south. Gunung Semeru was constructed south of the overlapping Ajek-ajek and Jambangan calderas. A line of lake-filled maars was constructed along a N-S trend cutting through the summit, and cinder cones and lava domes occupy the eastern and NE flanks. Summit topography is complicated by the shifting of craters from NW to SE. Frequent 19th and 20th century eruptions were dominated by small-to-moderate explosions from the summit crater, with occasional lava flows and larger explosive eruptions accompanied by pyroclastic flows that have reached the lower flanks of the volcano.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).


Heard (Australia) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Heard

Australia

53.106°S, 73.513°E; summit elev. 2745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal hotspots continue during October 2018-March 2019 at the summit and on the upper flanks

Heard Island, in the Southern Indian Ocean, includes the large Big Ben stratovolcano and the smaller, apparently inactive, Mt. Dixon. Because of the island's remoteness, satellites are the primary monitoring tool. Big Ben has been active intermittently since 1910, and was active during October 2017-September 2018 (BGVN 43:10). Activity continued during October 2018-March 2019.

Satellite photos using Sentinel Hub showed hotspots every month between October 2018 and March 2019. Because the area was frequently covered by a heavy cloud layer, most of the hotspot signals were partially obscured. Though thermal anomalies are usually seen at summit vents, on 18 October 2018 an anomaly was present about 300 m down the E flank. Similarly, on 1 January 2019, a weak anomaly beginning about 200 m down the NW flank was about 300 m long (figure 40).

The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected three hotspots, two in October and one in early November 2018, all of low radiative power. There were no MODVOLC alert pixels during this period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Sentinel-2 L1C image of Heard Island's Big Ben volcano on 1 January 2019 one summit hotspot and an elongated thermal anomaly to the NW. Scale bar (bottom right) is 200 m. The photo was taken in atmospheric penetration view (bands 12, 11, and 8A), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Heard Island on the Kerguelen Plateau in the southern Indian Ocean consists primarily of the emergent portion of two volcanic structures. The large glacier-covered composite basaltic-to-trachytic cone of Big Ben comprises most of the island, and the smaller Mt. Dixon volcano lies at the NW tip of the island across a narrow isthmus. Little is known about the structure of Big Ben volcano because of its extensive ice cover. The historically active Mawson Peak forms the island's 2745-m high point and lies within a 5-6 km wide caldera breached to the SW side of Big Ben. Small satellitic scoria cones are mostly located on the northern coast. Several subglacial eruptions have been reported in historical time at this isolated volcano, but observations are infrequent and additional activity may have occurred.

Information Contacts: Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).


Dukono (Indonesia) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Dukono

Indonesia

1.693°N, 127.894°E; summit elev. 1229 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Numerous ash explosions from October 2018 through March 2019

The eruption at Dukono that began in 1933 has showered the area with ash from frequent explosions (BGVN 43:04, 43:12). The Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), also known as the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), is responsible for monitoring this volcano.

This long-term pattern of intermittent ash explosions continued during October 2018-March 2019, with ash plumes rising to between 1.5 and 2.7 km altitude, or about 300-1,500 m above the summit (table 19). Although meteorological clouds often obscured views, satellite imagery captured typical ash plumes on 28 September 2018 (figure 10) and 5 February 2019 (figure 11). Instruments aboard NASA satellites (TROPOMI and OMPS) detected high levels of sulfur dioxide near or directly above the volcano on multiple days during January-March 2019. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and visitors were warned to remain outside of the 2-km exclusion zone.

Table 19. Monthly summary of reported ash plumes from Dukono for October 2018-March 2019. The direction of drift for the ash plume through each month was highly variable. Data courtesy of the Darwin VAAC and PVMBG.

Month Plume Altitude (km) Notable Plume Drift
Oct 2018 1.5-2.1 --
Nov 2018 1.5-2.1 --
Dec 2018 1.5-2.4 --
Jan 2019 1.8-2.1 --
Feb 2019 1.8-2.7 --
Mar 2019 1.5-2.4 --
Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Satellite image from Sentinel-2 (LC1 natural color) of an ash plume at Dukono on 28 September 2018 with the plume blowing towards the NE. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Satellite image from Sentinel-2 (LC1 natural color) of an ash plume at Dukono on 5 February 2019, with the plume blowing SW. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Reports from this remote volcano in northernmost Halmahera are rare, but Dukono has been one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. More-or-less continuous explosive eruptions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, occurred from 1933 until at least the mid-1990s, when routine observations were curtailed. During a major eruption in 1550, a lava flow filled in the strait between Halmahera and the north-flank cone of Gunung Mamuya. This complex volcano presents a broad, low profile with multiple summit peaks and overlapping craters. Malupang Wariang, 1 km SW of the summit crater complex, contains a 700 x 570 m crater that has also been active during historical time.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

10.83°N, 85.324°W; summit elev. 1916 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Occasional weak phreatic explosions continue through February 2019

Intermittent small phreatic explosions from the acid lake of Rincón de la Vieja's active crater has most recently occurred since 2011 (BGVN 42:08, 43:03, and 43:09). This activity continued through at least February 2019. The volcano is monitored by the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), and the information below comes from its weekly bulletins between 18 August 2018 and 28 February 2019. Weather conditions often prevented webcam views and estimates of plume heights. The volcano was in Activity Level 3 throughout the reporting period (volcano erupting, steady state).

According to OVSICORI-UNA, two distinct, 2-minute-long explosions occurred on 31 August 2018 beginning at 0434 and 1305. Several hours after the eruption tremor became continuous but low-frequency long-period (LP) earthquakes ceased. OVSICORI-UNA reported a gas emission late on 7 September. An unconfirmed small phreatic explosion occurred on 11 September at 0634, and another on 17 September at 1014. The seismic record showed continuous background tremor and very sporadic LP earthquakes.

Intermittent background tremor was recorded during the first half of October, along with a few emissions and phreatic explosions. Deformation measurements during October showed a contraction between the N and S of the volcano, with subsidence. On 17 October there was another phreatic explosion, and thereafter tremor disappeared and seismicity decreased. On 23 and 27 October seismic stations signaled additional possible phreatic explosions.

OVSICORI-UNA reported that a series of explosions began at 1945 on 4 November and consisted of at least three 2-minute-long episodes. The next day at 1511 a plume of water vapor and diffuse gas, recorded by a webcam and visible to residents to the N, rose about 100 m above the crater rim and drifted W. On 9 November a 2-minute-long explosion began at 1703. Another explosion on 27 November at 0237 produced a plume of water vapor and gas that rose 600 m above the crater rim and drifted SW. A short 1-minute explosion began at 1054 on 3 December.

Based on OVSICORI-UNA weekly bulletins, activity remained stable in January 2019 with small-amplitude phreatic explosions on 11, 12, and 14 January. More energetic phreatomagmatic explosions on 17 and 20 January produced lahars. Several small-amplitude explosions were detected at the end of the month. During January, a few LPs, no VTs, and intermittent tremor were recorded.

OVSICORI-UNA reported that two small-scale explosions occurred on 1 February, along with possible events at 1906 and 1950 on 5 February and at 0120 on 6 February. An event at 0000 on 6 February was also recorded; the report noted that poor weather conditions prevented visual observations of the crater. On 16 and 17 February strong degassing was observed. No LPs were recorded, but two significant VTs were detected on 17 and 22 February near or under the crater.

Geologic Background. Rincón de la Vieja, the largest volcano in NW Costa Rica, is a remote volcanic complex in the Guanacaste Range. The volcano consists of an elongated, arcuate NW-SE-trending ridge that was constructed within the 15-km-wide early Pleistocene Guachipelín caldera, whose rim is exposed on the south side. Sometimes known as the "Colossus of Guanacaste," it has an estimated volume of 130 km3 and contains at least nine major eruptive centers. Activity has migrated to the SE, where the youngest-looking craters are located. The twin cone of 1916-m-high Santa María volcano, the highest peak of the complex, is located at the eastern end of a smaller, 5-km-wide caldera and has a 500-m-wide crater. A plinian eruption producing the 0.25 km3 Río Blanca tephra about 3500 years ago was the last major magmatic eruption. All subsequent eruptions, including numerous historical eruptions possibly dating back to the 16th century, have been from the prominent active crater containing a 500-m-wide acid lake located ENE of Von Seebach crater.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/).


Turrialba (Costa Rica) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Turrialba

Costa Rica

10.025°N, 83.767°W; summit elev. 3340 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent passive ash emissions continue through February 2019

This report summarizes activity at Turrialba during September 2018-February 2019. During this period there was similar activity as described earlier in 2018 (BGVN 43:09), with occasional ash explosions and numerous, sometimes continuous, periods of gas-and-ash emissions (table 8). Data were provided by the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA).

Table 8. Ash emissions at Turrialba, September 2018-February 2019. Cloudy weather sometimes obscured observations. Maximum plume height is above the crater rim. Information courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Date Time Max plume height Plume drift Remarks
27 Aug-05 Sep 2018 -- 100 m SW, W Continuous gas-and-ash emissions.
06 Sep 2018 -- -- -- Mostly gas, punctuated by small sporadic ash plumes.
10 Sep 2018 1210 300 m NW --
01-13 Sep 2018 -- -- -- Continuous gas-and-ash emissions.
17-18 Sep 2018 -- 300 m SW, NW --
27 Sep 2018 0915 200 m NW --
30 Sep-01 Oct 2018 -- 500 m NW, NE --
03 Oct 2018 -- -- -- Incandescence.
08 Oct 2018 0800 500 m N --
10-16 Oct 2018 -- 1,000 m Various Intermittent emissions; some explosions, including an energetic one on 14 Oct at 1712. Clouds prevented estimate of plume height.
17-23 Oct 2018 -- 200-500 m E, NW, SW Periodic gas-and-ash emissions. Frequent Strombolian events since 5 Oct.
25-30 Oct 2018 -- -- -- Periodic ash emissions when weather conditions allowed observations.
26 Oct 2018 0134 500 m NE Ashfall in neighborhoods of Coronado (San José, 35 km WSW) and San Isidro de Heredia (Heredia, 38 km W).
29 Oct 2018 0231 500 m NW --
30 Oct 2018 1406 500 m W --
24 Oct-01 Nov 2018 -- 500 m -- Continuous emissions.
01-06 Nov 2018 0530-0640 500 m SW --
02 Nov 2018 1523, 1703 500 m -- --
03 Nov 2018 0109 500 m -- Short (2-3 minutes) duration events. Ashfall reported in Coronado.
05 Nov 2018 0620 600 m NW --
06-11 Nov 2018 -- 500 m -- Low-level, continuous gas-and-ash emissions occasionally punctuated by energetic explosions that sent plumes as high as 500 m and caused ashfall in several areas downwind, including Cascajal de Coronado, Desamparados (35 km WSW), San Antonio, Guadalupe (32 km WSW), Sabanilla, San Pedro Montes de Oca, Moravia (31 km WSW), Heredia, and Coronado (San José, 35 km WSW). Weather prevented observations on 12 Nov.
13-19 Nov 2018 -- -- -- Periodic, passive ash emissions visible in webcam images or during cloudy conditions inferred from the seismic data.
22 Nov 2018 0710 100 m W --
23 Nov 2018 -- -- -- Frequent pulses of ash.
23-25 Nov 2018 -- 500 m -- Occasional Strombolian explosions ejected lava bombs deposited near the crater; residents of Cascajal de Coronado reported hearing several booming sounds.
26-27 Nov 2018 -- -- -- Passive emissions with small quantities of ash visible. Minor ashfall in San Jose (Cascajal de Coronado and Dulce Nombre), San Pedro Montes de Oca, and neighborhoods of Heredia.
28 Nov-03 Dec 2018 -- 500 m N, NW, SW Ashfall in Santo Domingo (36 km WSW) on 2 Dec.
05 Dec 2018 -- -- -- Minor emission.
06 Dec 2018 -- -- S Emission.
08 Dec 2018 0749 500 m NW --
09 Dec 2018 -- 1,000 m -- Ashfall in areas of Valle Central.
10 Dec 2018 -- -- -- Emissions periodically observed during periods of clear viewing. Ashfall in Moravia (31 km WSW) and Santa Ana, and residents of Heredia noted a sulfur odor.
11-12 Dec 2018 -- 500 m NW, SW The Tico Times stated some flights were delayed at San Jose airport, 67 km away.
13 Dec 2018 -- -- -- Pulsing ash emissions; ashfall in Guadalupe (32 km WSW) and Valle Central.
14-16 Dec 2018 -- -- W, SW Emissions with diffuse amounts of ash.
05-06 Jan 2019 0815 -- -- Increased after midnight on 6 Jan.
28 Jan-04 Feb 2019 -- -- -- Minor, sporadic ash emissions rose to low heights during most days.
01 Feb 2019 0640 1,500 m NW --
08 Feb 2019 0540 200 m -- Sporadic ash emissions for more than one hour.
11 Feb 2019 -- -- -- Very small ash emission.
13-15 Feb 2019 200-300 m NW, W, SW Almost continuous gas emissions with minor ash content.
15 Feb 2019 1330 1,000 m W --
18 Feb 2019 1310 500 m W --
21 Feb 2019 -- 300 m NW Frequent ash pulses.
22-24 Feb 2019 -- 300 m NW, SW Frequent ash emissions of variable intensity and duration. On 22 Feb ash fell in Santa Cruz (31 km WSW) and Santa Ana, and a sulfur odor was evident in Moravia.
28 Feb 2019 1050 500 m SW Ash pulses.

According to OVSICORI-UNA's annual summary for 2018, a slow decline in activity occurred after the volcano reached its highest emission rate during 2016. Activity during 2018 was consistent with an open system, generating frequent passive ash emissions. The volcano emitted ash on 58% of the days during the year. Some explosions were large enough to eject ballistics more than 400 m around the crater. Typical activity can be seen in a photo from 11 September 2018 (figure 50) and satellite imagery on 7 November 2018 (figure 51).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Photo of an ash explosion at Turrialba taken on 11 September 2018. Courtesy of Red Sismologica Nacional (RSN: UCR-ICE), Universidad de Costa Rica.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Sentinel-2 satellite image of an ash emission from Turrialba on 7 November 2018, taken in natural color (gamma adjusted). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During January into early February 2019, passive ash emissions continued irregularly and with less intensity and duration. Emissions sometimes lacked ash. In their report of 4 February 2019, OVSICORI-UNA indicated that passive ash emissions were weak and slow. For the rest of February, they characterized ash emissions as frequent, but of low intensity.

Seismic activity. On 1 November 2018 OVSICORI-UNA reported that seismicity remained high, and involved low-amplitude banded volcanic tremor along with long-period (LP) and volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes. In late January-early February 2019, OVSICORI-UNA reported that seismicity remained relatively stable, although a small increase was associated with the hydrothermal system. VT earthquakes were absent, and tremors had decreased in both energy and duration. The number of low-frequency LP volcanic earthquakes remained stable, although they had decreasing amplitudes. No explosions were documented, and emissions were weak and had short durations and very dilute ash content.

Thermal anomalies. No thermal anomalies were recorded during the reporting period using MODIS satellite instruments processed by MODVOLC algorithm. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected five scattered hotspots during September-October 2018, none during November-December 2018, and two during January-February 2019. All were within 2 km of the volcano and of low radiative power.

Gas measurements. Significant sulfur dioxide levels near the volcano were recorded by NASA's satellite-borne ozone instruments only on 29 September 2018 (both NPP/OMPS and Aura/OMI instruments) and on 11 February 2019 (Sentinel 5P/TROPOMI instrument). OVSICORI-UNA's gas measuring instruments were compromised in September 2018 through January 2019 due to vandalism. In early February, however, they detected hydrogen sulfide for the first time since 2016.

Geologic Background. Turrialba, the easternmost of Costa Rica's Holocene volcanoes, is a large vegetated basaltic-to-dacitic stratovolcano located across a broad saddle NE of Irazú volcano overlooking the city of Cartago. The massive edifice covers an area of 500 km2. Three well-defined craters occur at the upper SW end of a broad 800 x 2200 m summit depression that is breached to the NE. Most activity originated from the summit vent complex, but two pyroclastic cones are located on the SW flank. Five major explosive eruptions have occurred during the past 3500 years. A series of explosive eruptions during the 19th century were sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows. Fumarolic activity continues at the central and SW summit craters.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/); Red Sismologica Nacional (RSN) a collaboration between a) the Sección de Sismología, Vulcanología y Exploración Geofísica de la Escuela Centroamericana de Geología de la Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR), and b) the Área de Amenazas y Auscultación Sismológica y Volcánica del Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Costa Rica (URL: https://rsn.ucr.ac.cr/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://hotspot.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Costa Rica Star (URL: https://news.co.cr); The Tico Times (URL: https://ticotimes.net).


San Cristobal (Nicaragua) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

San Cristobal

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak ash explosions in January and March 2019

San Cristóbal has produced occasional weak explosions since 1999, with intermittent gas-and-ash emissions. The only reported explosion during the first half of 2018 was on 22 April, the first since November 2017 (BGVN 43:03). The current report covers activity between 1 August 2018 and 1 May 2019. The volcano is monitored by the Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER).

According to INETER, a series of explosions occurred on 9 January 2019 that lasted several hours. INETER stated that one explosion occurred at 1643; the Washington VAAC's first advisory stated that an explosion occurred at 1145 (local time). The weak explosions, which occurred after a period of heightened seismic activity, generated an ash plume that reached 200 m above the edge of the crater and drifted W. The Washington VAAC reported volcanic ash plumes on 10-11 January extending about 92 km SW, and on 24-25 January extending about 185 km WSW. A low-energy explosion was detected by the seismic network at 1550 on 4 March 2019. The event produced a gas-and-ash plume that rose 400 m above the crater rim and drifted SW.

Monitoring data reported by INETER (table 6) showed elevated levels of seismicity during October 2018 through January 2019. Sulfur dioxide was also measured at higher levels in January 2019.

Table 6. Monthly sulfur dioxide measurements and seismicity reported at San Cristóbal during August 2018-March 2019. "Most" indicates that type of seismicity was dominant that month. Data courtesy of INETER.

Month Average SO2 Total earthquakes Degassing-type earthquakes Volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes
Aug 2018 461 t/d 6,464 6,147 251
Sep 2018 893 t/d 9,659 9,586 73
Oct 2018 269 t/d 11,698 3,509 8,189
Nov 2018 -- 19,593 19,586 7
Dec 2018 -- 30,901 -- Most
Jan 2019 1,286 t/d 11,504 Most Very few
Feb 2019 695 t/d 3,470 Most Very few
Mar 2019 -- 3,882 Most Very few

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: Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua (URL: http://webserver2.ineter.gob.ni/vol/dep-vol.html); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html).


Semisopochnoi (United States) — February 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Semisopochnoi

United States

51.93°N, 179.58°E; summit elev. 1221 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Minor ash explosions during September and October 2018

The remote Semisopochnoi comprises the uninhabited volcanic island of the same name, ~20 km in diameter, in the Rat Islands group of the western Aleutians (figure 1). Plumes had been reported several times in the 18th and 19th centuries, and most recently observed in April 1987 from Sugarloaf Peak (SEAN 12:04). The volcano is dominated by an 8-km diameter caldera that contains a small lake (Fenner Lake) and a number of post-caldera cones and craters. Monitoring is done by the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) using an on-island seismic network along with satellite observations and lightning sensors. An infrasound array on Adak Island, about 200 km E, may detect explosive emissions with a 13 minute delay if atmospheric conditions permit.

On 16 September 2018 increased seismicity was detected at 0831, prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Color Code (ACC) to Yellow and Volcano Alert Level (VAL) to Advisory. Retrospective analysis of satellite data acquired on 10 September revealed small ash deposits on the N flank of Mount Cerberus, possibly associated with two bursts of tremor recorded on 8 September (figure 5). This new information, coupled with intensifying seismicity and a strong tremor signal recorded at 1249 on 17 September, resulted in AVO raising the ACC to Orange and the VAL to Watch. Seismicity remained elevated on 18 September with nearly constant tremor recorded by local sensors. At the same time, no ash emissions were observed in cloudy satellite images and no eruptive activity was recorded on regional pressure sensors at Adak.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Minor ash deposits can be seen on the south and west flanks of the N cone of Mount Cerberus, Semisopochnoi Island, in this ESA Sentinel-2 image from 1200 on 10 September 2018. Also note probable minor steam emissions obscuring the crater of the N cone. Image courtesy of AVO.

During 19-25 September 2018 seismicity remained elevated, alternating between periods of continuous and intermittent bursts of tremor. Tremor bursts at 1319 on 21 September and at 1034 on 22 September produced airwaves detected on a regional infrasound array on Adak Island; no ash emissions were identified above the low cloud deck in satellite data, and the infrasound detections likely reflected an atmospheric change instead of volcanic activity.

Seismicity remained elevated during 3-9 October 2018, with intermittent bursts of tremor. No volcanic activity was detected in infrasound or satellite data. On 11 October satellite data indicated partial erosion of a tephra cone in the crater of Cerberus's N cone. A crater lake about 90 m in diameter filled the vent. The data also suggested that the vent had not erupted since 1 October. Seismicity remained elevated and above background levels. The next day AVO lowered the Aviation Color Code to Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level to Advisory, noting the recent satellite data results and lack of tremor recorded during the previous week. AVO reported that unrest continued during 11-24 October.

An eruptive event began at 2047 on 25 October 2018, identified based on seismic data; strong volcanic tremor lasted about 20 minutes and was followed by 40 minutes of weak tremor pulses. A weak infrasound signal was detected by instruments on Adak Island. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale) and Volcano Alert Level was raised to Watch (the second highest level on a four-level scale). A dense meteorological cloud deck prevented observations below 3 km, but a diffuse cloud was observed in satellite data rising briefly above the cloud deck, though it was unclear if it was related to eruptive activity. Tremor ended after the event, and seismicity returned to low levels.

Small explosions were detected by the seismic network at 2110 and 2246 on 26 October 2018, and 0057 and 0603 on 27 October. No ash clouds were identified in satellite data, but the volcano was obscured by high meteorological clouds. Additional small explosions were detected in seismic and infrasound data during 28-29 October; no ash clouds were observed in partly-cloudy-to-cloudy satellite images.

AVO reported on 31 October 2018 that unrest continued. Two small explosions were detected, one just before 0400 and the other around 1000. Satellite views were obscured by clouds at the time, and no ash clouds were observed. Unrest continued through 1 November, at which time the satellite link and the seismic line failed. On 21 November the ACC was lowered to Yellow and the VAL was lowered to Advisory.

Geologic Background. Semisopochnoi, the largest subaerial volcano of the western Aleutians, is 20 km wide at sea level and contains an 8-km-wide caldera. It formed as a result of collapse of a low-angle, dominantly basaltic volcano following the eruption of a large volume of dacitic pumice. The high point of the island is 1221-m-high Anvil Peak, a double-peaked late-Pleistocene cone that forms much of the island's northern part. The three-peaked 774-m-high Mount Cerberus volcano was constructed during the Holocene within the caldera. Each of the peaks contains a summit crater; lava flows on the northern flank of Cerberus appear younger than those on the southern side. Other post-caldera volcanoes include the symmetrical 855-m-high Sugarloaf Peak SSE of the caldera and Lakeshore Cone, a small cinder cone at the edge of Fenner Lake in the NE part of the caldera. Most documented historical eruptions have originated from Cerberus, although Coats (1950) considered that both Sugarloaf and Lakeshore Cone within the caldera could have been active during historical time.

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


Asosan (Japan) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Multiple brief ash emission events during April and May 2019; minor ashfall in adjacent villages

Japan's 24-km-wide Asosan caldera on the island of Kyushu has been active throughout the Holocene. Nakadake has been the most active of 17 central cones within the caldera for 2,000 years. Historical eruptions have been primarily basaltic to basaltic-andesitic ash eruptions, with periodic Strombolian activity, all from Nakadake Crater 1. The most recent major eruptive episode began in late November 2014 and continued through 1 May 2016. Another eruption, with the largest ash plume in 20 years, occurred on 8 October 2016. Asosan remained quiet until renewed activity from Crater 1 began in mid-April 2019; it is covered in this report, through the end of June 2019. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) provides monthly reports of activity; the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) issues aviation alerts reporting on possible ash plumes.

Asosan remained quiet during 2017 and 2018 with steam plumes rising a few hundred meters from Crater 1 and low levels of SO2 emissions; a warm acidic lake was present within the crater. Fumarolic activity from two areas on the S and SW wall of the crater rim generated occasional thermal anomalies in satellite data and incandescence at night. A brief period of increased seismicity was reported in mid-March 2019. An increase in seismic amplitude on 14 April 2019 preceded a small explosion on 16 April; it produced an ash plume which rose 200 m above the crater rim and drifted NW. It was followed by additional small explosions on 19 April. A new explosion on 3 May produced minor ashfall in adjacent communities; ash emissions were reported multiple times during May with plumes reaching 1,400 m above the crater rim. No additional ash emissions were reported in June.

Activity during 2017 and 2018. JMA reported that no eruptions occurred during 2017. Amplitudes of volcanic tremor increased somewhat during March but were generally low for the rest of the year. The earthquake hypocenters were mostly located near the active crater at around sea level. SO2 emissions were slightly less than 1,000 tons per day (t/d) from January through April; for the rest of the year they ranged from 600 to 2,500 t/d. The Alert Level had been lowered from 2 to 1 on 7 February 2017 where it remained throughout the year. Steam plumes generally rose no more than 600 m above the active crater rim (figure 42). JMA noted that from January to June they often observed crater incandescence at night with a high-sensitivity surveillance camera; Sentinel-2 satellite images also captured thermal anomalies a few times (figure 43). The green lake inside the crater persisted throughout the year with water temperatures of 50-60°C. Two fumaroles were present with high-temperature gas emissions on the SW and S crater walls. Temperatures at the S crater wall were over 600°C from February to May; they decreased to 320-560°C during the rest of the year (figure 44). Sulfur deposits were visible around the SW crater wall fumarole during July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Steam plumes that rose around 600 m above Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan were typical activity throughout 2017. Images taken with JMA webcam on 9 June (top left), 22 August (top right), 12 November (bottom left), and 20 December (bottom right) 2017. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 images captured thermal anomalies at the S rim of the green lake at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 on 16 February (left) and 27 May 2017 (right). JMA reported that incandescence was occasionally visible during the night from January-June from the same area. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. High-temperature gas and steam from fumaroles on the S wall of the Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan on 24 August (top) and 17 November 2017 (bottom) were persistent all year, with temperatures ranging from 300 to over 600°C. The green lake inside the crater persisted throughout the year as well with water temperatures of 50-60°C. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).

The Alert Level did not change at Asosan during 2018, and no eruptions were reported. Sulfur dioxide emissions fluctuated between 400 and 1,800 t/d throughout the year. Steam plumes generally rose less than 500 m above the active crater (figure 45); incandescence was observed at night during May-October and sometimes observed in satellite imagery as thermal anomalies (figure 46). The temperature of the green lake inside the crater ranged from 58 to 75°C throughout the year. The thermal anomaly on the S wall of the crater was consistently in the 300-500°C range, and had a high temperature in April of 580°C; in December the high temperature had risen to 738°C (figure 47). A brief increase in the number of isolated tremors occurred during March, with 1,044 reported on 4 March, exceeding the previous maximum of 1,000 on 27 October 2014. Seismicity also increased briefly during June, with more than 400 events reported each day on 8, 18, and 20 June. The Minami Aso village Yoshioka fumarole zone, located about 5 km W of Nakadake Crater 1, continued to produce modest steam plumes throughout 2017 and 2018 (figure 48).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Typical steam plumes at Asosan during 2018 rose around 500 m above the Nakadake Crater 1. Images are from 4 March (top left), 22 July (top right), 17 August (lower left), and 13 September 2018 (lower right). Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Nighttime incandescence was reported by JMA during May-October 2018 from the S rim of Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan; Sentinel-2 satellite images (bands 12, 4, 2) captured thermal anomalies from the same area numerous times during 2018 including on 16 June (top left), 26 July and 19 September (middle row), and 18 and 23 November (bottom row). JMA photographed incandescence at night on 17 July 2018 at the S fumarole area (top right). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground and JMA (Aso volcano Monthly Report for July 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. The "Green Tea Pond" inside Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan had temperatures that ranged from 58 to 75°C during 2018 (top row, 26 March 2018); the thermal anomaly on the S wall of the crater consistently had temperatures measured in the 300-500°C range and the SW fumarole area had somewhat lower temperatures (bottom row, 22 June 2018). Courtesy of JMA (monthly Asosan reports for March, May, and June 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. The Minami Aso village Yoshioka fumarole zone, located about 5 km W of Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan, continued to produce modest steam plumes throughout 2017 and 2018. It is shown here on 20 December 2017 (top) and 12 March 2018 (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (December 2017 and March 2018 monthly volcano reports).

Activity during 2019. Steam plumes rose to 800 m above the crater rim during January 2019. Overall activity increased slightly during February; SO2 emissions peaked at 2,200 t/d early in the month; they ranged from 800 to 1,800 t/d for most of the month. The amplitude of volcanic tremor also increased slightly during February. A further increase in tremor amplitude on 11 March 2019 prompted JMA to raise the Alert Level from 1 to 2 the following morning. Volcanic tremor amplitude decreased on 15 March; JMA determined that activity had decreased, and the Alert Level was lowered back to 1 on 29 March 2019. The amount of water in the crater decreased significantly between 27 February and 20 March, exposing part of the crater floor.

The surface temperature of the lake rose during the first part of 2019; it was 78°C in February and 84°C in March. Steam plumes rose to 1,200 m above the crater rim during March and April. SO2 emissions rose to 4,500 t/d on 12 March but dropped to a lower range of 1,300-2,400 for the rest of the month. Another surge in SO2 emissions on 12 April 2019 to 3,600 t/d prompted a special report from JMA the following day. SO2 emissions varied from about 1,700 to 4,100 t/d during the month; values remained high during the second half of the month. JMA noted that the color of the water in the lake inside Nakadake Crater 1 changed from green to gray after 4 April. Fountains of muddy water were periodically observed; they reached 15 m high on 9 April. The temperatures of both the lake (82°C) and around the two fumarole areas (S area about 530°C, SW area about 310°C) remained constant during April and similar to March.

A large increase in the amplitude of volcanic tremor early on 14 April 2019 prompted JMA to raise the Alert Level from 1 to 2 later in the day. The epicenters of the earthquakes were very shallow, located within 1 km beneath the crater. A small eruption occurred at 1828 on 16 April at Nakadake Crater 1; it produced a gray and white plume that rose 200 m above the crater rim and was the first eruption since 8 October 2016 (figure 49). Incandescence was observed inside the crater on 3 and 17 April. The amplitude of seismic tremors decreased on 18 April. Three very small eruptions on 19 April produced ash and steam plumes that rose 500 m above the crater rim. During a site visit that day JMA measured a high-temperature area that produced incandescence from the bottom of the crater at night (figure 50).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. The first eruption since October 2016 at Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan on 16 April 2019 sent an ash plume 200 m above the crater rim (top). Incandescent gas appeared on the crater floor the next day (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, April 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Three small explosions on 19 April 2019 at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 produced small ash emissions that rose 500 m above the crater rim (top). A strong thermal signal also appeared from the bottom of the crater. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, April 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).

A new eruption began at 1540 on 3 May that lasted until 0620 on 5 May (figure 51). Initially the ash plume rose 600 m above the crater rim, but a few hours later the volume of ash increased, and the plume reached 2 km above the crater rim for a brief period. Incandescence was visible from the webcam. The Tokyo VAAC reported the ash plume at 3 km altitude drifting SE on 3 May. Later in the day it rose to 3.7 km altitude and drifted SW. During a field survey the following day (4 May) JMA reported a steam and ash plume rising from the center of the active crater. The infrared thermal imaging camera recorded the temperature of the plume at about 500°C (figure 52).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. An explosion at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 on 3 May 2019 produced an ash plume that reached 2 km above the crater rim (top) and incandescence visible from the webcam (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, April 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. During a site visit on 4 May 2019, staff from JMA witnessed an ash and steam plume rising from the bottom of Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan (top). The infrared thermal imaging camera recorded the temperature of the plume at about 500°C (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, May 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).

Ash fell on the S flank, and a small amount of ashfall on 4 May was confirmed by evidence on a car windshield in Takamori Town (6 km S), Kumamoto Prefecture (figure 53). Ashfall was also reported in Takamori-machi, Minami Aso village (9 km SW), and part of Yamato-cho (25 km SW), also in the Kumamoto Prefecture. SO2 emissions were measured as high as 4,000 t/d on 4 May. Additional explosions with ash plumes were reported from Asosan on 9, 12-16, 29, and 31 May; the plumes rose from 200 to 1,400 m above the crater rim but were not visible in satellite imagery. The TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5 satellite captured SO2 plumes on 3 and 26 May 2019 (figure 54).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Ashfall was reported on 4 May 2019 in Takamori Town, Kumamoto Prefecture, from the eruption at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 on 3 May 2019. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, May 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. Plumes of SO2 from Asosan were recorded by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite on 3 (left) and 26 (right) May 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Steam plumes rose to 1,700 m above the crater rim during June 2019 (figure 55). During field visits on 6 and 25 June diffuse ash emissions were observed rising from the center of the active crater, but they did not extend significantly above the crater rim (figure 56). The maximum temperature of the plume was measured at about 340°C with a thermal imaging camera. Almost all of the water in the crater bottom had evaporated since early May; incandescence continued to be observed within the crater at night with the high-resolution webcam (figure 57).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Steam plumes rose to 1,700 m above the crater rim at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 on 10 June 2019. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, June 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Plumes of gas and minor ash were visible at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 during site visits by JMA on 6 (left) and 25 (right) June 2019. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, June 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Incandescent gas was visible from the vent at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 on 18 (left) and 25 (right) June 2019. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, June 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).


Nyamuragira (DR Congo) — May 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyamuragira

DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E; summit elev. 3058 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake reappears in central crater in April 2018; activity tapers off during April 2019

The Virunga Volcanic Province (VVP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is part of the western branch of the East African Rift System. Nyamuragira (or Nyamulagira), a high-potassium basaltic shield volcano on the W edge of VVP, includes a lava field that covers over 1,100 km2 and contains more than 100 flank cones in addition to a large central crater (see figure 63, BGVN 42:06). A lava lake that had been active for many years emptied from the central crater in 1938. Numerous flank eruptions were observed after that time, the most recent during November 2011-March 2012 on the NE flank. This was followed by a period of degassing with unusually SO2-rich plumes from April 2012 through April 2014 (BGVN 42:06). The lava lake reappeared during July 2014-April 2016 and November 2016-May 2017, producing a strong thermal signature. After a year of quiet, a new lava lake appeared in April 2018, reported below (through May 2019) with information provided by the Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), MONUSCO (the United Nations Organization working in the area), and satellite data and imagery from multiple sources.

Fresh lava reappeared inside the summit crater in mid-April 2018 from a lava lake and adjacent spatter cone. Satellite imagery and very limited ground-based observations suggested that intermittent pulses of activity from both sources produced significant lava flows within the summit crater through April 2019 when the strength of the thermal signal declined significantly. Images from May 2019 showed a smaller but persistent thermal anomaly within the crater.

Activity from October 2017-May 2019. Indications of thermal activity tapered off in May 2017 (BGVN 42:11). On 20 October 2017 OVG released a communication stating that a brief episode of unspecified activity occurred on 17 and 18 October, but the volcano returned to lower activity levels on 20 October. There was no evidence of thermal activity during the month. The volcano remained quiet with no reports of thermal activity until April 2018 (figure 73).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Sentinel-2 satellite images (bands 12, 4, 2) indicated no thermal activity at Nyamuragira on 19 November (top left), 14 December 2017 (top right) and 18 January 2018 (bottom). However, Nyiragongo (about 13 km SE) had an active lava lake with a gas plume drifting SW on 18 January 2018 (bottom right). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

OVG reported the new lava emissions beginning on 14 April 2018 as appearing from both the lava lake and a small adjacent spatter cone (figure 74). The first satellite image showing thermal activity at the summit appeared on 18 April 2018 (figure 75) and coincided with the abrupt beginning of strong MIROVA thermal signals (figure 76). MODVOLC thermal alerts also first appeared on 18 April 2018. An image of the active crater taken on 9 May 2018 showed the lake filled with fresh lava and two adjacent incandescent spatter cones (figure 77).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Fresh lava reappeared at Nyamuragira's crater during April 2018 from the lava lake (left) and the adjacent small spatter cone (right). Courtesy of OVG (Republique Democratique du Congo, Ministere de la Recherche Scientifique, Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma, Direction Generale Goma, Rapport Avril 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. The first satellite image (bands 12, 4, 2) indicating renewed thermal activity at the Nyamuragira crater appeared on 18 April 2018; the signal remained strong a few weeks later on 3 May 2018. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. A strong thermal signal appeared in the MIROVA graph of Log Radiative Power on 18 April 2018 for Nyamuragira, indicating a return of the lava lake at the summit crater. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Fresh lava filled the lake inside the crater at Nyamuragira on 9 May 2018. Two spatter cones were incandescent with gas emissions. Courtesy of OVG (Republique Democratique du Congo, Ministere de la Recherche Scientifique, Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma, Direction Generale Goma, Rapport Mai 2018).

Satellite images confirmed that ongoing activity from the lava lake remained strong during June -September 2018 (figure 78). A mission to Nyamuragira was carried out by helicopter provided by MONUSCO on 20 July 2018; lava lake activity was observed along with gas emissions from the small spatter cone (figure 79). OVG reported increased volcanic seismicity during 1-3 and 10-17 September 2018, and also during October, located in the crater area, mostly at depths of 0-5 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Sentinel-2 satellite images (bands 12, 4, 2) confirmed that ongoing activity from the lava lake at Nyamuragira remained strong during June-September 2018, likely covering the crater floor with a significant amount of fresh lava. Image are from 12 June (top left), 7 July (top right), 17 July (middle left), 22 July (middle right), 11 August (bottom left), and 20 September (bottom right). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. The crater at Nyamuragira on 20 July 2018 had an active lava lake and adjacent incandescent spatter cone with gas emissions. Courtesy of OVG (Republique Democratique du Congo, Ministere de la Recherche Scientifique, Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma, Direction Generale Goma, Rapport Juillet 2018).

Personnel from OVG and MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in DR Congo) made site visits on 11 October and 2 November 2018 and concluded that the level of the active lava lake had increased during that time (figure 80). On 2 November OVG measured the height from the base of the active cone to the W rim of the crater as 58 m (figure 81).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. OVG scientists reported a rise in the lake level between site visits to the Nyamuragira crater on 11 October (top) and 2 November 2018 (bottom). Top image courtesy of MONUSCO and Culture Vulcan, bottom image courtesy of OVG (Republique Democratique du Congo, Ministere de la Recherche Scientifique, Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma, Direction Generale Goma, Rapport Octobre 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. On 2 November 2018 scientists from OVG measured the height from the base of the active cone to the W rim of the crater as 58 m. Courtesy of OVG (Republique Democratique du Congo, Ministere de la Recherche Scientifique, Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma, Direction Generale Goma, Rapport Octobre 2018).

Seismicity remained high during November 2018 but decreased significantly during December. Instrument and access issues in January 2019 prevented accurate assessment of seismicity for the month. The lava lake remained active with periodic surges of thermal activity during November 2018-March 2019 (figure 82). Multiple images show incandescence in multiple places within the crater, suggesting significant fresh overflowing lava.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. The active lava lake at Nyamuragira produced strong thermal signals from November 2018 through March 2019 that were recorded in Sentinel-2 satellite images (bands 12, 4, 2). Several images suggest fresh lava cooling around the rim of the crater in addition to the active lake. A relatively cloud-free day on 19 November 2018 (top left) revealed no clear thermal signal, but a strong signal was recorded on 29 November (top right) despite significant cloud cover. Images from 13 and 28 January 2019 (second row) both showed evidence of incandescent lava in multiple places within the crater. The thermal signal was smaller and focused on the center of the crater on 12 and 27 February 2019 (third row). Images taken on 9 and 19 March 2019 clearly showed incandescent material at the center of the crater and around the rim (bottom row). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

On 12 April 2019 a Ukrainian Aviation Unit supported by MONUSCO provided support for scientists visiting the crater for observations and seismic analysis. Satellite data confirmed ongoing thermal activity into May, although the strength of the signal appeared to decrease (figure 83). MODVOLC thermal alerts ceased after 8 April, and the MIROVA thermal data also confirmed a decrease in the strength of the thermal signal during April 2019 (figure 84).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Sentinel-2 satellite data (bands 12, 4, 2) confirmed ongoing thermal activity at Nyamuragira into May 2019. The thermal anomalies on 18 April (left) and 3 May (right) 2019 were smaller than those recorded during previous months. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity (log radiative power) at Nyamuragira from 16 July 2018 through April 2019 showed near-constant levels of high activity through April 2019 when it declined. This corresponded well with satellite and ground-based observations. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. Africa's most active volcano, Nyamuragira, is a massive high-potassium basaltic shield about 25 km N of Lake Kivu. Also known as Nyamulagira, it has generated extensive lava flows that cover 1500 km2 of the western branch of the East African Rift. The broad low-angle shield volcano contrasts dramatically with the adjacent steep-sided Nyiragongo to the SW. The summit is truncated by a small 2 x 2.3 km caldera that has walls up to about 100 m high. Historical eruptions have occurred within the summit caldera, as well as from the numerous fissures and cinder cones on the flanks. A lava lake in the summit crater, active since at least 1921, drained in 1938, at the time of a major flank eruption. Historical lava flows extend down the flanks more than 30 km from the summit, reaching as far as Lake Kivu.

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; Katcho Karume, Director; Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MONUSCO, United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (URL: https://monusco.unmissions.org/en/, Twitter: @MONUSCO); Cultur Volcan, Journal d'un volcanophile (URL: https://laculturevolcan.blogspot.com), Twitter: @CultureVolcan).


Tengger Caldera (Indonesia) — May 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Tengger Caldera

Indonesia

7.942°S, 112.95°E; summit elev. 2329 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New explosions with ash plumes from Bromo Cone mid-February-April 2019

The 16-km-wide Tengger Caldera in East Java, Indonesia is a massive volcanic complex with numerous overlapping stratovolcanos (figure 11). Mount Bromo is a pyroclastic cone that lies within the large Sandsea Caldera at the northern end of the complex (figure 12) and has erupted more than 20 times during each of the last two centuries. It is part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve) and is frequently visited by tourists. The last eruption from November 2015 to November 2016 produced hundreds of ash plumes that rose as high as 4 km altitude; some of them drifted for hundreds of kilometers before dissipating and briefly disrupted air traffic. Only steam and gas plumes were observed at Mount Bromo from December 2016 to February 2018 when a new series of explosions with ash plumes began; they are covered in this report with information provided by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM) and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC). Copyrighted ground and drone-based images from Øystein Lund Andersen have been used with permission of the photographer.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. The Tengger Caldera viewed from the north Mount Bromo issuing steam in the foreground and Semeru volcano in the background on 30 September 2018. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Aerial view of the Bromo Cone in Tengger Caldera seen from the west on 30 September 2018. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen, used with permission.

PVMBG lowered the Alert Level at Bromo on 21 October 2016 from III to II near the end of an eruptive episode lasting nearly a year. The last VAAC report was issued on 12 November 2016 (BGVN 41:12) noting that the last ash emission had been observed the previous day drifting NW at 3 km altitude. Throughout 2017 and 2018 Bromo remained at Alert Level II, with no unusual activity described by PVMBG. During 1-2 September 2018, a wildfire in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park burned 65 hectares of savannah (figure 13); the fire produced 12 MODVOLC thermal alerts around the Tengger Caldera rim. No reports of increased volcanic activity were issued by PVMBG during the period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. A wall of fire in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park savanna during 1-2 September 2018 produced thermal alerts that were not related to volcanic activity at the Bromo Cone in Tengger Caldera. Image courtesy of the park authority, reported by Mongabay. MODVOLC thermal alerts courtesy of Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP).

After slightly more than two years of little activity other than gas and steam plumes, ash emissions resumed from the Bromo Cone on 18 February 2019. After a brief pause, a new explosion on 10 March marked the beginning of a series of near-daily ash emissions that lasted for the rest of March, producing ash plumes that rose to altitudes ranging from 3.0 to 5.2 km and drifted in many different directions. A new series of ash emissions began on 6 April, rising to 3 km and also drifting in multiple directions. Ash emission density decreased during the month; plumes were only rising a few hundred meters above the summit by the end of April and consisted of mostly steam and moderate amounts of ash.

Activity during February-April 2019. PVMBG reported that at 0600 on 18 February 2019 an eruption at Tengger Caldera's Bromo Cone generated a dense white-and-brown ash plume that rose 600 m and drifted WSW. The plume was not visible in satellite imagery, according to the Darwin VAAC. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4). After a few weeks of quiet a new explosion on 10 March (local time) produced a white, brown, and gray ash plume that rose 600 m above the summit; the plume was visible in satellite imagery extending SW. Increased tremor amplitude was also reported on 10 March. A new emission the next morning produced similar ash plumes that drifted S, SW, and W at 3 km altitude. On the morning of 12 March (local time) a continuous ash plume was observed in satellite imagery at 3.4 km altitude drifting SW. The plume drifted counterclockwise towards the S, E, and NE throughout the day and continued to drift NE and SE on 13 March. The altitude of the plume was reported at 4.3 km later that day based on a pilot report.

Continuous brown, gray, and black ash emissions were reported by PVMBG during 14-19 March at altitudes ranging from 3 to 3.9 km; they drifted generally NE to NW. Ashfall was noted around the crater and downwind a short distance. The Darwin VAAC reported continuous ash emissions to 5.2 km altitude drifting SE on 20 March. It was initially reported by a pilot and partially discernable in satellite imagery before dissipating. Ongoing ash emissions of variable densities and colors ranging from white to black were intermittently visible in satellite imagery and confirmed in webcam and ground reports at around 3.0 km altitude during 21-25 March (figures 14-17). Ashfall impacted the closest villages to Bromo, including Cemara Lawang (30 km NW), which was covered by a thin layer of ash. A few trees in the area were toppled over by the weight of the ash. The plume altitude increased slightly on 26 March to 3.7-3.9 km, drifting N and NE. The higher altitude plume dissipated early on 28 March, but ash emissions continued at 3.0 km for the rest of the day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Ash drifted NNE from the Bromo Cone in Tengger Caldera on 23 March 2019. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen (drone image), used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Ash drifted N from the Bromo Cone in Tengger Caldera on 23 March 2019. The Batok Cone is on the right, Segera Wedi is behind Bromo, and Semeru is in the far background. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. A few trees toppled from ashfall in the vicinity of the Bromo Cone in Tengger Caldera on 24 March 2019. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Ash plumes from the Bromo Cone in Tengger Caldera on 24 March 2019 caused ashfall in communities as far as 30 km away. View is from the floor of the Sandsea Caldera. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen, used with permission.

After just a few days of quiet, new ash emissions rising to 3.0 km altitude and drifting SE were reported by both PVMBG (from the webcam) and the Darwin VAAC on 6 April 2019. By the next day the continuous ash emissions were drifting N, then E during 8-10 April, and S during 11 and 12 April. A new emission seen in the webcam was reported by the Darwin VAAC on 15 April (UTC) that rose to 3.0 km and drifted W. Ash plumes were intermittently visible in either webcam or satellite imagery until 17 April rising 500-1,000 m above the crater; from 19-25 April only steam plumes were reported rising 300-500 m above the summit. A minor ash emission was reported from the webcam on 26 April that rose to 3.0 km altitude and drifted NE for a few hours before dissipating. PVMBG reported medium density white to gray ash plumes that rose 400-600 m above the crater for the remainder of the month.

Geologic Background. The 16-km-wide Tengger caldera is located at the northern end of a volcanic massif extending from Semeru volcano. The massive volcanic complex dates back to about 820,000 years ago and consists of five overlapping stratovolcanoes, each truncated by a caldera. Lava domes, pyroclastic cones, and a maar occupy the flanks of the massif. The Ngadisari caldera at the NE end of the complex formed about 150,000 years ago and is now drained through the Sapikerep valley. The most recent of the calderas is the 9 x 10 km wide Sandsea caldera at the SW end of the complex, which formed incrementally during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene. An overlapping cluster of post-caldera cones was constructed on the floor of the Sandsea caldera within the past several thousand years. The youngest of these is Bromo, one of Java's most active and most frequently visited volcanoes.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Øystein Lund Andersen (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: http://www.oysteinlundandersen.com); Mongabay, URL: https://news.mongabay.com/2018/09/fires-tear-through-east-java-park-threatening-leopard-habitat/.

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 16, Number 08 (August 1991)

Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland

Aira (Japan)

Explosions continue

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Explosions and seismicity decline; lava flows

Arjuno-Welirang (Indonesia)

White plume from Welirang summit

Barren Island (India)

Basaltic andesite lava from flank vent reaches sea

Colima (Mexico)

Fumarole temperatures increase

Dukono (Indonesia)

Explosions and glow; ashfall to coast; small lahars

Galeras (Colombia)

Explosions eject incandescent tephra; increased seismicity and deformation

Gamalama (Indonesia)

Explosions eject white clouds

Hudson, Cerro (Chile)

Basaltic fissure eruption preceded andesitic paroxysmal phase; strong winds rework major ash deposits

Irazu (Costa Rica)

New fumaroles but seismicity declines

Karangetang (Indonesia)

Explosive activity and glow

Karthala (Comoros)

Details of seismicity and deformation associated with the 11 July eruption

Kilauea (United States)

Continued lava flow into sea; lava pond overflows; magma intrusion

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Ash clouds; incandescent tephra; lava flows in crater

Lengai, Ol Doinyo (Tanzania)

Carbonatite lava production continues on crater floor

Lokon-Empung (Indonesia)

Incandescent tephra cause fires that burn plantations

Malindang (Philippines)

False report of eruption

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Occasional ash emission; lava dome

Marchena (Ecuador)

First historical eruption

Pinatubo (Philippines)

Secondary pyroclastic flows feed large ash columns; frequent mudflows; fewer explosions

Poas (Costa Rica)

Crater lake rises, covering fumaroles; low-frequency seismicity

Raung (Indonesia)

Dense plumes

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica)

Explosions eject ash and blocks

Ruapehu (New Zealand)

Lake temperature rises; possible minor eruptions

Ruiz, Nevado del (Colombia)

Seismicity, deformation, and gas emission remain unchanged

Santa Maria (Guatemala)

Continued explosions and block lava production

Stromboli (Italy)

Continued moderate explosive activity; gas data

Unzendake (Japan)

Continued lava dome extrusion and pyroclastic flows

Villarrica (Chile)

Weak explosions

White Island (New Zealand)

Tephra emission; shock waves in crater



Aira (Japan) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions continue

Nineteen explosions occurred . . . in August . . . . Ejecta from an explosion on 5 August at 1057 cracked the windshield of an airliner in flight. A car windshield was cracked by tephra from an explosion at 1249 the same day and another was broken on 20 August at 0851, both on Sakura-jima Island, 3 km from the crater. The month's highest ash cloud rose 4,000 m. A total of 583 g/m2 of ash was deposited [at KLMO]; a change in the usual wind direction had carried ash away from this site in July. Typical volcanic earthquake swarms were recorded on 3, 15, 16, and 29 August.

Similar activity continued through mid-September, adding 15 explosions as of the 14th . . . . The highest September ash cloud reached 1,800 m height.

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.


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

Arenal

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions and seismicity decline; lava flows

An average of 3 explosions/day was recorded in August . . . . Seismicity also decreased, to a daily average of 20 earthquakes (figure 40). Fumarolic activity continued from the active crater, and lava flows continued to travel down the W and SW flanks of the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Daily number of earthquakes at Arenal, August 1991. Courtesy of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

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 and G. Soto, ICE; Mario Fernández, Hector Flores, and Sergio Paniagua, Sección de Sismología y Vulcanología, Escuela de Geología, Univ de Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica.


Arjuno-Welirang (Indonesia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Arjuno-Welirang

Indonesia

7.733°S, 112.575°E; summit elev. 3339 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


White plume from Welirang summit

A plume from the summit area of Welirang . . . was photographed by Space Shuttle astronauts on 13 September at [1535] (photo no. S48-151-064) (figure 1). The dense portion of the apparently ash-poor plume extended roughly 50 km N and more diffuse material continued for another 65 km. The summit area was white and apparently de-vegetated. A plume was observed again on direct video downlink from the spacecraft on [17] September at [1306]. No ground reports were available at press time.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Space Shuttle photograph showing a steam plume from Welirang (just east of the central cloud mass). Also, the lack of vegetation at the peak indicates volcanic activity. Volcanoes on Java form an E-W line of peaks the length of the island; five are in this image. NASA Photo ID: STS048-151-064, 13 September 1991.

Geologic Background. The twin volcanoes of Arjuno and Welirang anchor the SE and NW ends, respectively, of a 6-km-long line of volcanic cones and craters. The Arjuno-Welirang complex overlies two older volcanoes, Gunung Ringgit to the east and Gunung Linting to the south. The summit areas of both volcanoes are unvegetated. Additional pyroclastic cones are located on the north flank of Gunung Welirang and along an E-W line cutting across the southern side of Gunung Arjuno that extends to the lower SE flank. Fumarolic areas with sulfur deposition occur at several locations on Gunung Welirang.

Information Contacts: C. Evans and D. Helms, NASA-SSEOP.


Barren Island (India) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Barren Island

India

12.278°N, 93.858°E; summit elev. 354 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Basaltic andesite lava from flank vent reaches sea

Lava production continued from the subsidiary vent on the NE face of the volcanic cone, 80 m below the main crater, during a visit on 26 June. Incandescent material was ejected in a pulsating fountain, to [80] m height, more intensely than during the previous visit on 16 May. Satellite monitoring had indicated a temperature of 1,100°C around the vent on 6 May. A dark plume rose 300-400 m from the crater of a large spatter cone that had formed at the eruptive vent. The main crater remained quiet. The lava flow observed in May had bifurcated, with one branch extending along the NW and W valleys, and a new branch extending S. By 26 June, lava had reached the sea at the boat landing near the NW corner of the island (~1.2 km from the vent); during the 16 May fieldwork, the lava front was still 200 m from shore. Vigorous boiling and thick jets of steam were observed for 100 m along the shore. Studies of water near the shore indicated a considerable decrease in pH, and visibility dropped to <10 cm (Srinivas, 1991). Nearby coral was destroyed.

The following is from a GSI report on lava chemistry and petrography. "Thirteen chemical analyses on samples of recent lava collected on 16 May indentify the rocks as basaltic andesites (table 1). They are porphyritic with phenocrysts of plagioclase (dominant; some grains show labradorite composition), with minor clinopyroxene (augite) and forsteritic olivine, set in a fluidal [intersertal] groundmass of brown glass, plagioclase microlites, and Fe-Ti oxides. The amount of mafic phenocrysts is relatively low. The average ratio between phenocryst and groundmass components is around 0.44. The volumetric composition of the phenocrysts indicates: 72% plagioclase, 17% clinopyroxene, and 11% olivine; while the groundmass consists of 43% plagioclase microlites, 37% glass, and 20% Fe-Ti oxides. The amount of glass in the groundmass is highly variable, exceeding 70% in some sections. There is a complete lack of amphibole grains, in both the phenocrysts and [in] the groundmass."

Table 1. Range and average compositions from 13 chemical analyses of recent lava erupted from Barren Island, collected 16 May 1991. Courtesy of the GSI.

Element Range (%) Average (%)
SiO2 54.96-56.33 55.64
TiO2 1.13-1.18 1.15
Al2O3 17.66-18.62 18.20
Fe2O3 5.39-9.44 6.32
FeO 0.36-4.23 2.36
MnO 0.18-0.19 0.185
MgO 3.29-3.59 3.39
CaO 7.52-7.93 7.79
Na2O 1.75-2.19 2.01
K2O 0.58-0.79 0.69
P2O5 0.14-0.18 0.16
L.O.I. 0.16-0.48 0.31

Geologic Background. Barren Island, a possession of India in the Andaman Sea about 135 km NE of Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, is the only historically active volcano along the N-S volcanic arc extending between Sumatra and Burma (Myanmar). It is the emergent summit of a volcano that rises from a depth of about 2250 m. The small, uninhabited 3-km-wide island contains a roughly 2-km-wide caldera with walls 250-350 m high. The caldera, which is open to the sea on the west, was created during a major explosive eruption in the late Pleistocene that produced pyroclastic-flow and -surge deposits. Historical eruptions have changed the morphology of the pyroclastic cone in the center of the caldera, and lava flows that fill much of the caldera floor have reached the sea along the western coast.

Information Contacts: Director General, GSI; S. Acharya, SANE.


Colima (Mexico) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Colima

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumarole temperatures increase

"Five high-temperature fumaroles on the SW rim of the summit lava dome have been monitored continuously since May. These fumaroles are ~75 m W of the site of the March-May lava extrusion and occur along fractures radial to the dome. Temperatures were measured at 20-minute intervals and radio-telemetered to the Science Center in the city of Colima. Temperatures at two of the fumaroles have increased at a steady rate between May and August (figure 16). Mean late-August temperatures were 506 and 386°C, increases of 66 and 43°C, respectively, since May. Mean temperatures in three other fumaroles have changed <10°C during the same period. Throughout the sampling period, all fumaroles exhibited marked diurnal temperature variation, on the order of 30-80°C/day. The rainy season, which began in mid-June and has continued through August, has had little effect on fumarole temperatures other than occasional low readings during rainstorms."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. May-August 1991 temperatures at two fumaroles on the SW rim of Colima's summit lava dome, about 75 m W of the site of March-May lava extrusion. Measurements, at 20-minute intervals, were radio-telemetered to the Science Center, city of Colima. Courtesy of C. Connor.

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: C. Connor, FIU, Miami.


Dukono (Indonesia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Dukono

Indonesia

1.693°N, 127.894°E; summit elev. 1229 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions and glow; ashfall to coast; small lahars

People living near the volcano reported that a new eruption began during the night of 8-9 June, after nine years of relative quiet. At the onset of the eruption, residents were awakened by rumblings and a red glow from the volcano, which has since remained active. Ashfalls have occurred regularly in coastal towns 15 km NNW to 15 km ENE of the summit (Galela, Mamoya, and Tobelo). When visited by a geologist on 23-28 June, small to moderate explosions occurred every 4-5 minutes, sometimes accompanied by noise and night glow. Small lahars occurred in rivers draining the volcano.

Space Shuttle astronauts photographed an apparently ash-rich plume extending ~30 km from the summit to slightly beyond the coast on 15 September at 2156 (photos STS048-110-34 & 35). The entire summit area appeared ash-covered.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Photograph of Dukono taken from the Space Shuttle, 2156 on 15 September 1991. The summit area appears to be covered with ash, and the plume extends ~30 km W from the summit. Courtesy of NASA-SSEOP; photo STS048-110-35.

Geologic Background. Reports from this remote volcano in northernmost Halmahera are rare, but Dukono has been one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. More-or-less continuous explosive eruptions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, occurred from 1933 until at least the mid-1990s, when routine observations were curtailed. During a major eruption in 1550, a lava flow filled in the strait between Halmahera and the north-flank cone of Gunung Mamuya. This complex volcano presents a broad, low profile with multiple summit peaks and overlapping craters. Malupang Wariang, 1 km SW of the summit crater complex, contains a 700 x 570 m crater that has also been active during historical time.

Information Contacts: V. Clavel and P. Vetsch, SVG, Switzerland; C. Evans, NASA-SSEOP.


Galeras (Colombia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Galeras

Colombia

1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions eject incandescent tephra; increased seismicity and deformation

Seismic activity increased significantly in August, reaching the highest number of events (>150/day), the greatest reduced displacement (>800 cm2), and the highest released energy (~5.0 x 108 ergs; see figure 52) by long-period events since monitoring began in February 1989. Explosions and continuous ash emission from the crater were accompanied by periodic ejections of incandescent blocks up to tens of centimeters in diameter. Incandescence was visible within the crater at dispersed sites. Although weather conditions impeded direct observations, it was possible to confirm that many of the long-period earthquakes and tremor episodes had associated surface activity. SO2 flux was low, ranging from 7 to ~370 t/d.

Substantial deformation changes were measured by the electronic tiltmeter [at Crater Station], with a resultant vector of 231 µrad of inflation (118° azimuth) in the 2 weeks ending 14 August. Lower levels of deformation, 3.7 µrad at 183° azimuth, were measured [at Peladitos Station].

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.


Gamalama (Indonesia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Gamalama

Indonesia

0.8°N, 127.33°E; summit elev. 1715 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions eject white clouds

Two strong explosions were seen from Ternate, 6 km ESE of the summit, on 15 June, ejecting mainly white clouds. A 20 June climb revealed only white vapor filling the summit crater.

Geologic Background. Gamalama is a near-conical stratovolcano that comprises the entire island of Ternate off the western coast of Halmahera, and is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. The island was a major regional center in the Portuguese and Dutch spice trade for several centuries, which contributed to the thorough documentation of Gamalama's historical activity. Three cones, progressively younger to the north, form the summit. Several maars and vents define a rift zone, parallel to the Halmahera island arc, that cuts the volcano. Eruptions, recorded frequently since the 16th century, typically originated from the summit craters, although flank eruptions have occurred in 1763, 1770, 1775, and 1962-63.

Information Contacts: V. Clavel and P. Vetsch, SVG, Switzerland.


Cerro Hudson (Chile) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Cerro Hudson

Chile

45.9°S, 72.97°W; summit elev. 1905 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Basaltic fissure eruption preceded andesitic paroxysmal phase; strong winds rework major ash deposits

In one of the largest eruptions of the century, Hudson's mid-August paroxysm produced an eruption cloud 18 km high and deposited ash up to 1,000 km SE. Estimates of tephra volume range between 2 and 6 km3; >1 km3 was deposited in Chile, around 2 km3 in Argentina, and 2 km3 may have fallen in the Atlantic Ocean or been lost to the atmosphere. Satellite data showed that the eruption produced a large SO2-rich cloud, estimated to contain 1.5 megatons of SO2 on 16 August, that was transported twice around the globe in 2 weeks.

The following is from a report by Norman Banks. "The eruption produced 1 to 2+ km3 (dense rock equivalent) of magma. The initial 8-9 August eruption (beginning about 1820 on 8 August) was from a basaltic (50% SiO2) dike through a fissure 4 km long, trending through the NW rim of the 10 x 7 km, ice-filled caldera. The basalt erupted both as a lava fountain and phreatomagmatically, producing a tephra column 12 km high, scoria flows that covered 10 km2 of the western caldera floor and an unknown area outside of the caldera, a 4-km-long lava flow over the WNW flank's Huemules glacier, long-lived (12 hours) floods down the Río Sorpresa (WSW flank) and Río Huemules valleys, and a rather low-volume tephra-fall deposit N of the volcano. This ash had a moderate level (100-300 ppm dry weight) of soluble fluorine that was quickly reduced to 2-10 ppm by heavy rains during the next 2 weeks. Grass growing through this deposit has a fluorine content of about 30 ppm.

"The andesitic eruption of 12-15 August may have been due to secondary boiling triggered by intrusion of the 8 August basalt, or other basaltic dikes into the andesitic magma body under the caldera; bombs and lapilli of pumiceous andesite (60% SiO2) mixed with chilled basalt are common in the tephra-fall deposits. The 3-day andesitic eruption produced a strong Plinian column that ejected pyroclastic material into a very strong SE-directed stratospheric wind (185 km/hr) that kept the plume narrow even 700 km from the volcano. Pumiceous ballistic bombs 1 m in diameter were found 10 km from the vent, where tephra-fall deposits were >2.5 m thick. The 10-cm isopach reached just SE of Chile Chico (120 km SE of the vent) and 1-2 cm of ash was deposited at Argentina's coast (figure 5). [As many as 13 distinct layers of ash were deposited in some locations.] Fortunately, pyroclastic flows did not spill onto the outer snow-covered flanks during this episode, and no additional mudflows were reported. Shortly after the 12-15 August eruption, however, secondary water-and-pumice flows formed on the volcano's flanks during daily melting of the snow. Because most of the thick deposits on the steep mountainous terrain SE of the volcano are on and interleaved with snow, downslope movement and associated hydrological problems for the downstream valleys are certain to accelerate as the summer melting and rains begin. The andesitic ash in Chile had low amounts of soluble fluorine (<20 ppm), and grass covered by or growing through the ash deposits has a relatively low fluorine content. Analysis of fine fractions of the Chilean deposits suggest that downwind (Argentinean) fluorine values will not be significantly higher."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Preliminary isopach map of the 12-15 August 1991 tephra-fall deposits from Hudson. Prepared by N. Banks, H. Moreno, H. Corbella, M. Haller, and H. Ostera.

Steam emission, occasionally containing minor quantities of ash, declined rapidly following the eruption's end on 15 August.

Major reworking of ash deposits in Argentina by strong winds led to several false reports of renewed activity at Hudson. Ash was redistributed N to Comodoro Rivadavia (2 mm at 400 km E of Hudson) and was reported S to Río Gallegos (700 km SSE). In early September, GOES satellite images detected ash clouds, probably below 3 km, carried by ground-level winds at 55-65 km/hr; these clouds extended from near the volcano to over the Atlantic ocean. The densest part of the clouds appeared to be ~250 km SE of the volcano, about halfway to the Argentine coast. Poor visibility, down to a few hundred meters, was reported at Puerto Deseado and Puerto San Julián. Argentine officials have expressed concern over the >2 million sheep and 3,000 cattle in the affected region.

Geologic Background. The ice-filled, 10-km-wide caldera of the remote Cerro Hudson volcano was not recognized until its first 20th-century eruption in 1971. It is the southernmost volcano in the Chilean Andes related to subduction of the Nazca plate beneath the South American plate. The massive volcano covers an area of 300 km2. The compound caldera is drained through a breach on its NW rim, which has been the source of mudflows down the Río de Los Huemeles. Two cinder cones occur N of the volcano and others occupy the SW and SE flanks. This volcano has been the source of several major Holocene explosive eruptions. An eruption about 6700 years ago was one of the largest known in the southern Andes during the Holocene; another eruption about 3600 years ago also produced more than 10 km3 of tephra. An eruption in 1991 was Chile's second largest of the 20th century and formed a new 800-m-wide crater in the SW portion of the caldera.

Information Contacts: N. Banks, USGS; H. Moreno, Univ de Chile; J. Naranjo, SERNAGEOMIN; P. Bitschene, Patagonia Volcanism Program, Argentina; P. Maxwell, US Embassy, Buenos Aires; D. Helms, Lockheed, Houston; S. Doiron and G. Bluth, GSFC.


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

Irazu

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New fumaroles but seismicity declines

Fumarolic activity continued in August, mainly in a large zone of sulfur and chloride deposition in the N section of the crater, while a new zone of fumarolic activity appeared in the SSE part. The crater lake grew to cover almost the entire floor, >150 m in diameter. Seismicity, abnormally high since late May, continued to decrease in August (figure 4). During the second week in June, a new group of fumaroles appeared in the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Monthly number of earthquakes at Irazú, January-August 1991. Courtesy of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

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 and G. Soto, ICE; Mario Fernández, Hector Flores, and Sergio Paniagua, Sección de Sismología y Vulcanología, Univ de Costa Rica.


Karangetang (Indonesia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

2.781°N, 125.407°E; summit elev. 1797 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosive activity and glow

Explosions were clearly visible from the coast (at Ulu Siau) during a visit 2-4 July. A diffuse, red, summit-area glow was continuously observed. Some small earthquakes were felt.

Geologic Background. Karangetang (Api Siau) volcano lies at the northern end of the island of Siau, about 125 km NNE of the NE-most point of Sulawesi island. The stratovolcano contains five summit craters along a N-S line. It is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, with more than 40 eruptions recorded since 1675 and many additional small eruptions that were not documented in the historical record (Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World: Neumann van Padang, 1951). Twentieth-century eruptions have included frequent explosive activity sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows and lahars. Lava dome growth has occurred in the summit craters; collapse of lava flow fronts have produced pyroclastic flows.

Information Contacts: V. Clavel and P. Vetsch, SVG, Switzerland.


Karthala (Comoros) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Karthala

Comoros

11.75°S, 43.38°E; summit elev. 2361 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Details of seismicity and deformation associated with the 11 July eruption

The bottom of the summit's Choungou-Chahalé crater, obscured by a cloud of white gas and vapor following the 11 July phreatic eruption, became visible in early August. A new explosion crater (~250 m in diameter) was observed in its SE section. Vigorous degassing occurred through the crater lake and from the wall of the new crater. The following, from Patrick Bachélery, supplements the report in 16:6.

Karthala's 11 July explosion followed an increase in seismicity from 3-5 events/month (June 1988 start of monitoring through early April 1991) to 3-10 events/day in May (figure 2). Earthquakes were centered beneath the crater, mostly at 0-2 km below sea level, with a few 10-20 km below sea level. On 4 May, a swarm of 161 earthquakes (M 0.5-2) was recorded during a 1-hour period beginning at 1609. The number of earthquakes increased to 30-50/day by the end of June, and all were at shallow depths. Deformation measurements showed summit inflation of ~20 µrad during this time; only weak changes in deformation had been measured between the network's installation (May 1987) and June 1989.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Daily number of earthquakes at Karthala, March-June (inset) and May-July 1991. Courtesy of P. Bachélery.

A notable change in seismicity occurred on 30 June at 1645. More than 500 earthquakes (long- and short-period) were recorded that day, as many on the next, and >1,500 daily 2-4 July (figure 2). The short-period events (M 0.5-3.1) were centered in a roughly N-S line below the S part of the summit caldera and the S flank of the volcano (figure 3). Felt shocks caused ~1,000 people to leave the lower part of the S flank.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Epicenter map of short-period earthquakes at Karthala during 30 June-4 July (open squares) and 5-10 July 1991 (filled squares). Courtesy of P. Bachélery.

Seismicity continued to increase from 4 July, with 4,000 earthquakes recorded daily by 10 July. A swarm of nearly continuous seismic events was recorded between 0040 and 0110 the next day. The 4-10 July seismicity was characterized by low-magnitude (mostly M <1, sometimes to M 3.4) short-period events located under the summit at 1-4 km depths, and less numerous deeper earthquakes at 4-8 km depth. Some long-period events with cigar-shaped waveform envelopes were also recorded. The center of seismicity shifted N, resulting in fewer felt shocks in the S part of the island, while several M 3 earthquakes were felt in Moroni (13 km NW of the crater).

Deformation measurements (dry-tilt) the morning of 10 July showed >120 µrad of inflation centered on Choungou-Chahalé and Choungou-Chagnoumeni (figure 4) craters since 28 June. That night, the eruption took place, but no eyewitness accounts are available. Seismicity reached its highest intensity during an 11-hour period that night [but see 16:6], dropping abruptly at 0335 on 11 July to ~100 recorded events/hour. About 1.5 hours later, a strong sulfur odor was detected in Moroni for ~2 hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Map showing Karthala's summit region and deposits from the 11 July 1991 explosion. Courtesy of P. Bachélery.

Later visits to the summit revealed that a sizeable phreatic explosion had occurred in Choungou-Chahalé crater. The southern 2/3 of the summit caldera were covered by blocks (up to 10 m3) and ash (figure 4), and the summit vegetation was completely removed from within the limits of the caldera. The crater bottom was hidden by gas and vapor clouds, obscuring the source of a "fountaining" sound heard two weeks after the 11 July explosion. Geologists later believed the sound to have been caused by the forceful arrival of water into the new crater, forming the crater lake.

Seismicity rapidly decreased after the explosion, although several earthquakes of M 3.0-3.5 were recorded through the end of July. In August, 20-40 events/day were recorded, the same level as in June.

Geologic Background. The southernmost and largest of the two shield volcanoes forming Grand Comore Island (also known as Ngazidja Island), Karthala contains a 3 x 4 km summit caldera generated by repeated collapse. Elongated rift zones extend to the NNW and SE from the summit of the Hawaiian-style basaltic shield, which has an asymmetrical profile that is steeper to the S. The lower SE rift zone forms the Massif du Badjini, a peninsula at the SE tip of the island. Historical eruptions have modified the morphology of the compound, irregular summit caldera. More than twenty eruptions have been recorded since the 19th century from the summit caldera and vents on the N and S flanks. Many lava flows have reached the sea on both sides of the island. An 1860 lava flow from the summit caldera traveled ~13 km to the NW, reaching the W coast to the N of the capital city of Moroni.

Information Contacts: P. Bachélery, Univ de la Réunion; D. Ben Ali and J-L. Klein, CNDRS, RFI des Comores; F. Desgrolard, Centre de Recherche Volcanologique, Clermont-Ferrand, France; J-L. Cheminée, J-P. Toutain, and J-C. Delmond, IPGP.


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

Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued lava flow into sea; lava pond overflows; magma intrusion

Lava . . . continued to enter the ocean at two main sites through August (figure 79). By the end of the month, numerous breakouts from the tube system had reduced the volume of lava reaching the sea. Flows produced by major breakouts at ~180 and 340 m (600 and 1,100 ft) elevation spread over the W third of the lava field. Most remained on older lava, but a few lobes reached the field's W edge and ignited small brush fires in the remnants of the Royal Gardens subdivision. One flow from the breakout at 180 m reached 20 m elevation in early August.

Since at least January, a small lava pond has been continuously active in the bottom of Pu`u `O`o crater, covering ~20% of the crater floor on its E side. By April, the pond was circular and surrounded by levees. During the evening of 27 August, bright glow was visible over Pu`u `O`o, and a nearby seismometer recorded frequent bursts of higher amplitude tremor lasting 1-3 minutes. Overflights the next morning revealed that the pond had overflowed its levees, covering the entire crater floor with several meters of active lava that had a thin, frequently overturning, crust. Lava periodically drained back to its former level, remaining confined within the original pond until the next overflow. Similar activity continued through the end of the month. Crater depth remained roughly 80 m.

Seismicity in August included the upper East rift zone's third intrusive swarm since December 1990. More than 200 shallow summit microearthquakes were registered between 1100 and 1200 on 21 August. Earthquake counts quickly declined during the next hour, but elevationated levels of seismicity . . . continued through the next day. The largest concentration of events appeared to be centered just SE of the caldera, and very few occurred beyond Hiiaka crater, 4.5 km from the caldera rim. Most of the month's seismicity in the summit/upper east rift area occurred during the swarm.

Earthquake epicenters since December 1990 (figure 80) have been concentrated in several clusters, the largest of which were associated with the period's three intrusive episodes. The three swarms occurred in different portions of what geophysicists infer to be the same shallow (<5 km deep) structure between the summit and the East rift zone, suggesting a significant role for the summit in the current East rift eruption. During the early December swarm earthquakes were located from the summit roughly 6 km downrift (to Pauahi crater). The largest concentration of events was in the SE part of the caldera, perhaps extending a short distance into the rift zone (toward the Chain of Craters). The March activity occurred away from the summit, with the majority of located events between Pauahi and Mauna Ulu, roughly 3 km farther downrift. Following the early December seismicity and a long-period summit swarm late in the month, seismicity increased between the summit and Hiiaka crater. The same segment of the uppermost East rift zone has consistently shown low levels of shallow seismicity throughout Kupaianaha vent's post-1986 eruptive activity. After the March swarm, seismic activity along this rift segment appears to have increased further, and the August swarm was largely confined to this area.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Plot of earthquake epicenters in Kilauea's summit, upper to middle East rift zone, and south flank areas, December 1990-11 September 1991. Some of the larger craters are labeled. The eruption's two currently active vents, Pu`u `O`o and Kupaianaha, are off the map ~3 and 6 km ENE of Napau Crater. Courtesy of HVO.

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

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


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

Langila

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash clouds; incandescent tephra; lava flows in crater

"In August, Crater 3 frequently erupted moderate to strong, pale grey-brown ash and vapour clouds accompanied by weak to loud detonations, roaring or rumbling. The eruptions occurred at intervals of several minutes to a few hours. The emission clouds rose as much as 500 m above the crater. Dull to bright red crater glow was observed on the nights of 7-9, 12, and 13 August.

"During an aerial inspection on the 14th, two active vents were observed in a mound of lava filling Crater 3. The vents were ~5-10 m in diameter, 40 m apart and aligned approximately N-S. The N vent was more active and was filled with incandescent lava. The S vent was clogged with dark lava. Both vents released blue vapour. Lava had flowed eastward to form a short (70 m) lobe in the E part of the crater. A longer (~150 m) lobe of lava was present on the NE flank of Cone 3. This lobe was fresh, having a dark surface, and its source appeared to be a tube within the E lobe. The NE-flank flow was first observed on 13 August, and appeared to be inactive then. However, some activity of this flow had been evident the previous night when prolonged incandescence in this area and some movement of incandescent material were observed. Two other very small lava lobes (both inactive) were observed on the NW flank of Cone 3.

"Throughout the month, Crater 2 (roughly 200 m E of Crater 3) almost continuously emitted moderate amounts of pale grey-brown ash and vapour. This activity was accompanied by nearly continuous low roaring sounds. Occasional stronger explosions took place. Dull glow over the crater was observed on the nights of 7-9, 13, 22, 24, and 27 August. A 30-minute period of strong explosive activity on the night of 13 August resulted in a large volume of incandescent lava fragments being ejected onto the NE flank of Cone 2. Incandescent lava-fragment ejections from Crater 2 were also seen on the night of 20 August. A brief aerial view of the interior of Crater 2 on 14 August indicated that it remains funnel-shaped, with several benches. Detailed observation was prevented, however, by emissions of ash and vapour.

"The ash plume from the combined emissions of the craters was usually directed in a sector between NNE and NW. Fine ashfalls were recorded in coastal areas (9 km distant) on 1, 2, 6, and 12 August.

"Seismicity remained at a moderate to high level throughout the month. It appeared that most of the stronger seismicity was associated with events at Crater 3. The daily number of explosion earthquakes recorded by the summit station fluctuated between 20 and 70, with the largest totals of 40-70 events on 16, 25, and 30-31 August. Meanwhile, the remote station (9 km distant) recorded 0-29 events/day. Numerous low-amplitude, short-duration, tremor-like signals were produced by weaker explosions. Several periods of harmonic tremor were recorded but the source was not determined."

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: B. Talai, C. McKee, and P. de Saint-Ours, RVO.


Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Ol Doinyo Lengai

Tanzania

2.764°S, 35.914°E; summit elev. 2962 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Carbonatite lava production continues on crater floor

Photographs taken . . . by D., M., and T. Peterson on 25 January showed few changes since late 1990. Lava flows of varying ages were evident on the crater floor, with the youngest (F25) extending N toward the crater wall from a hornito on the N flank of . . . T5/T9 (figure 22). Its dark brown color and clearly defined margins indicated that it may have been active during the Petersons' visit. Light gray-brown lava had spread from a source near vent T11, across the former saddle (M1M2) to the S wall of the crater, covering more than half of the floor of the former southern depression. Lava of similar age also covered much of the N part of the main crater.

M. Peterson returned . . . 29-30 March, and reported 10-15 minutes of lava production during the evening of the 30th from 2 or 3 vents on the N side of T5/T9, very close to the source of the freshest flow photographed on 25 January. A number of flows moved away from the vents, the longest advancing ~50 m. Flow widths averaged 1-2 m and thicknesses varied from 10 to 20 cm. Steam and sulfur fumes were issuing from several sources on the crater rim, walls, and floor. Older flows in the N part of the crater were dominantly pahoehoe but some aa lava was also observed. Flows entering the S depression were blocky and ~2/3 m thick.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. View SE across the crater floor of Ol Doinyo Lengai, 25 January 1991. A recent flow from vent T5/T9 is shown in black. Prepared by C. Nyamweru from a photo taken by the Peterson group.

Little fresh lava was evident on the dominantly pale gray to white crater floor during a visit by Benoit Wangermez on 6 May. A slightly darker flow covered most of the southern depression, showing that lava had advanced S since January from a source slightly NW of T11. Small flows around the base of T5/T9 (active in late March) did not look very young. One new light-colored zone (at M2) appeared to be a vent, currently inactive, that had formed since March.

When T. Peterson arrived at the crater rim on 28 June at about 1000, lava was flowing W from a new vent (T18) W of T5/T9. Activity had subsided 30 minutes later, and the level of lava in the vent had fallen 5 m. Heat was rising from older vents (T5/T9 and T14), while T11 had partially collapsed and looked like a "sulfur cave." Lava flows on the crater floor ranged from dark (fresh) to almost white.

A group led by Luigi Cantamessa climbed to the summit on 12 July. No effusive activity was evident, but black to grayish flows [were] perhaps 1-2 days old . . . . Fumarolic activity occurred from some small hornitos. Many fissures were seen; one extended E-W, parallel to the former saddle dividing the main and southern craters, and cut across the W rim, but was not visible on the volcano's outer flank.

Eruptive activity was very minor . . . on 9 August between 1000 and 1400. Hot, fresh, dark gray natrocarbonatite lava was found near the H6 vent complex (figure 23). Water poured on the lava boiled violently. The extent of other fresh lava flows was similar to that observed 4 days later (see below). A small hornito on the S side of H6 ejected 2-3-mm droplets of spatter. A frozen, but still fresh lava pool ~4 m in diameter was found ~2 m below the average elevation of M1's crater floor (a group of tourists and a local guide reported that vents H6 and M1 had been active 2 days earlier). Vent T5/T9 emitted hot colorless gas, while T11 exhaled SO2. Radial fissures on the W flank of the crater produced almost pure (>95%) CO2, with some SO2. Holes ~0.5-1 m across on the crater's W rim released hot, humid air with no detectable SO2 or CO2. These holes contained a variety of water-loving plants such as moss and algae. Gas compositions were measured with Dräger tubes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Sketch map of the crater floor of Ol Doinyo Lengai, 13 August 1991. Fresh lava is shown in black. Courtesy of Alain Catté.

Lava production from one vent complex was continuing during a summit climb by Alain Catté and others on 13 August. Irregular, weak, but clearly audible explosions occurred from the 4-5-m-high hornito complex H6, ejecting lava fragments horizontally to 10-15 m from two vents (E1 and E2). Weak effusive activity occurred from a site ([E4]) 5 m below the hornito complex. Young, chocolate-brown flows extended from its base in three directions atop older (>48 hours) whitish flows: ~10 m E; ~40 m NE; and > 100 m N, flowing around other small cones. Production of small flows accompanied vent E1's explosions from the initial observations at 0845 until its activity stopped at about 1000.

When clouds cleared at 1030, a very fluid lava flow 40-50 cm wide was emerging from neighboring vent E2. The flow quickly subdivided into many black lobes ~10 cm wide, with a consistency like lubricating oil. Within a few seconds, these formed channeled pahoehoe flows that turned to aa at their distal ends. Lava also formed tubes that carried it >100 m from the source. No lava temperatures were taken, but it was possible to place one's hand a few centimeters from an active flow, and to touch it after ~2 minutes of cooling. A cascade of lava ~10 cm wide began from a third vent (E3) on the hornito complex at about 1145. Vents E2 and E3 erupted simultaneously and showed parallel fluctuations in activity. Later . . . lava outflow from E2 occurred in a jet 2 m long.

At about noon, lava production resumed from the base of the hornito complex (at [E4]) bubbling out in a manner reminiscent of mud pots. It overflowed after ~45 minutes, gradually building a hornito that grew to 1 m height before activity ceased at about 1330. Above [E4], lava effusion from vent E3 stopped at 1230, emerging from a channel 2 m below in a violent, 3-m jet that reached the base of [E4], beginning to fill the area with lava. The outflow rate increased progressively, and lava had advanced 60 m W by the end of observations at about 1400. Lava production from the H6 complex had roughly quadrupled its size since . . . March.

Geologic Background. The symmetrical Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only volcano known to have erupted carbonatite tephras and lavas in historical time. The prominent stratovolcano, known to the Maasai as "The Mountain of God," rises abruptly above the broad plain south of Lake Natron in the Gregory Rift Valley. The cone-building stage ended about 15,000 years ago and was followed by periodic ejection of natrocarbonatitic and nephelinite tephra during the Holocene. Historical eruptions have consisted of smaller tephra ejections and emission of numerous natrocarbonatitic lava flows on the floor of the summit crater and occasionally down the upper flanks. The depth and morphology of the northern crater have changed dramatically during the course of historical eruptions, ranging from steep crater walls about 200 m deep in the mid-20th century to shallow platforms mostly filling the crater. Long-term lava effusion in the summit crater beginning in 1983 had by the turn of the century mostly filled the northern crater; by late 1998 lava had begun overflowing the crater rim.

Information Contacts: C. Nyamweru, St. Lawrence Univ; D. Peterson, M. Peterson, and T. Peterson, Arusha, Tanzania; B. Wangermez, Nairobi, Kenya; L. Cantamessa, Geo-decouverte, Switzerland; P. Vetsch, SVG, Switzerland; T. Dunai, R. Ragettli, K. Schenk-Wenger, and U. Ziegler, ETH Zürich, Switzerland; A. Catté, B. DeMarne, and P. Barois, LAVE.


Lokon-Empung (Indonesia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Lokon-Empung

Indonesia

1.358°N, 124.792°E; summit elev. 1580 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Incandescent tephra cause fires that burn plantations

The press reported that renewed activity on 19 September ejected a plume to ~700 m. Incandescent tephra fell 500 m from the crater, starting fires that burned plantations in seven villages. No casualties were reported. As of the next morning, the eruption was continuing and VSI observers were recording accompanying earthquakes. VSI advised local authorities that residents of nearby villages should remain on alert, but an evacuation was not ordered.

Geologic Background. The twin volcanoes Lokon and Empung, rising about 800 m above the plain of Tondano, are among the most active volcanoes of Sulawesi. Lokon, the higher of the two peaks (whose summits are only 2 km apart), has a flat, craterless top. The morphologically younger Empung volcano to the NE has a 400-m-wide, 150-m-deep crater that erupted last in the 18th century, but all subsequent eruptions have originated from Tompaluan, a 150 x 250 m wide double crater situated in the saddle between the two peaks. Historical eruptions have primarily produced small-to-moderate ash plumes that have occasionally damaged croplands and houses, but lava-dome growth and pyroclastic flows have also occurred. A ridge extending WNW from Lokon includes Tatawiran and Tetempangan peak, 3 km away.

Information Contacts: VSI; UPI.


Malindang (Philippines) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Malindang

Philippines

8.22°N, 123.63°E; summit elev. 2404 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


False report of eruption

Widely distributed reports of increased activity and up to 20,000 evacuees in mid-September proved false. Heavy cloud cover over the volcano and coincidental tectonic earthquakes prompted claims of an imminent eruption. PHIVOLCS scientists found no signs of activity, although they did locate a previously unknown geothermal area on a remote section of the volcano.

Geologic Background. The Pleistocene-to-Holocene Malindang stratovolcano, located on the western margin of Iligan Bay in north-central Mindanao, contains a small summit caldera. Legends record a large eruption from the 2404-m-high, dominantly basaltic-to-andesitic volcano in the past, although no historical eruptions are known (Salise et al., 1991). Reports of increased activity in 1991 at the time of tectonic earthquakes prompted widespread evacuations, but an eruption did not occur, although a previously unknown geothermal area was discovered.

Information Contacts: D. Sussman, Philippine Geothermal, Inc., Manila; Philippine Daily Inquirer and Manila Times, Manila; Reuters.


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

Manam

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Occasional ash emission; lava dome

"Main Crater produced weak emissions of white vapour with low ash content on 1, 2, and 3 August. Blue vapour was visible on 8, 11, and 12 August and only white vapour during the last week of the month. There were no audible noises and no night glow was seen.

"The emissions from Southern Crater consisted of tenuous white vapour with occasional grey-brown ash clouds resulting in fine ashfalls on parts of the island. Occasional weak deep roaring and rumbling noises were heard 2-14 August and a weak red glow was observed around the crater mouth on the night of 7 August. An aerial inspection was carried out on 13 August. Southern Crater was partly filled with vapour but Main Crater was clear. The floor of Main Crater was occupied by a solid plug or mound of lava, at a level ~20 m below the lower (NE) part of the crater rim. White mofettes were released by numerous fumaroles around the base and lower walls of the crater. The crater floor was mostly covered by debris from the crater walls, but in the central area, the lava plug was visible over an area ~5 m in diameter, and consisted of steaming lava surrounded by small blocks and scoriae ejected during a stronger degassing phase. During the aerial inspection, emissions from Southern Crater were low-energy, thermally buoyant clouds, released fairly regularly at ~15-minute intervals.

"Seismicity was at a moderate level and tilt measurements showed a deflation of ~1.5 µrad since mid-August."

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: B. Talai, C. McKee, and P. de Saint-Ours, RVO.


Marchena (Ecuador) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Marchena

Ecuador

0.33°N, 90.47°W; summit elev. 343 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


First historical eruption

Marchena . . . started erupting on 25 September. The TOMS instrument aboard the Nimbus-7 satellite passed at about 1100 and sensed no SO2, but the next pass, at the same time on 26 September, mapped a 300-km plume to the SW with an SO2 content estimated to be close to 100 kt. High SO2 values immediately over the volcano indicated that the eruption was still vigorous at that time. On the following day the plume was nearly twice as long, but had almost vanished by the same time on 28 September. Weather satellite images during this period showed low cloud cover, but no conclusive indication of the volcanic plume. . . .

Geologic Background. The low shield volcano forming Marchena Island contains one of the largest calderas of the Galápagos Islands. The 6 x 7 km caldera and its outer flanks have been largely buried by a cluster of pyroclastic cones and associated lava flows. Its first historical eruption occurred in 1991. Other young lava flows, some of which may be only a few thousand, or even a few hundred years old, filled the caldera and flowed down its outer forested flanks, in some cases to the sea.

Information Contacts: A. Carrasco, Charles Darwin Research Station; S. Doiron, GSFC; SAB.


Pinatubo (Philippines) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Pinatubo

Philippines

15.13°N, 120.35°E; summit elev. 1486 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Secondary pyroclastic flows feed large ash columns; frequent mudflows; fewer explosions

Activity continued to decline through 15 September, with only three ash/steam emissions since about 25 August. Heavy monsoon rains triggered numerous mudflows and secondary explosions from the 15-16 June pyroclastic-flow deposits. Two large secondary pyroclastic flows occurred, producing associated ash clouds to 15 km height. The press reported continued fatalities from debris/mudflows and disease in evacuation camps, bringing the number of casualties attributed to the eruption to at least 740 by 20 September. Study of the June deposits has resulted in preliminary estimates of 7-11 km3 of material erupted.

5-11 August. Radar at Clark Air Base detected 13 ash/steam emissions rising to 4.5-13.5 km height; plumes were carried NE by the wind. Most RSAM peaks coincided with these emissions. The majority of seismicity was shallow (<=1 km depth), with magnitudes <1. Seven high-frequency earthquakes were felt at Clark Air Base.

12-18 August. Thirteen ash/steam emissions were detected, three with columns >15 km high (maximum 17.5 km). Wind carried the plumes ENE and NE, and ashfall was reported at Clark Air Base on 13 and 16 August. Ejection velocities ranged from about 300-900 m/min, similar to the ejection velocity on 25 June (estimated at about 450 m/min). A large secondary pyroclastic flow occurred sometime on 12-13 August, in the Marunot drainage on the NW flank. The flow was not observed, but satellite imagery was used to identify the deposits and estimate a deposit volume of 31 x 106 m3 (1.25 km2 areal coverage). The flow, ~10 km long, created a headwall scarp about 20 m high along a 240° arc in the primary pyroclastic-flow deposit source region. During aerial observations, the still-steaming secondary deposits could be differentiated from those of earlier pyroclastic flows by the absence of rills and dissected morphology.

Seismic energy release decreased notably from the previous week (figure 19), although the number of earthquakes remained about the same (102 recorded events/day compared to 95/day the week before). Several shocks were felt at Clark Air Base. RSAM peaks reflected high-frequency earthquakes generated by mudflows, and occasional long-period signals associated with ash/steam emissions from the caldera. Geologists suggested that small long-period events may also be related to secondary explosions from pyroclastic-flow deposits.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Accumulated RSAM energy at Pinatubo, 28 July-18 August 1991. Courtesy of PHIVOLCS.

19-25 August. Ash/steam emissions averaging ~9.8 km high (maximum 15 km) were detected eight times during the week. Ash was carried E. Some may have originated from secondary explosions at the E flank (Sacobia valley) pyroclastic-flow deposits. Seismicity consisted mostly of high-frequency earthquakes (M < 1.0) centered below the caldera or ~3 km NW, at 0-18 km depths (figure 20). Four events (M 2-4) were felt at Clark Air Base, with intensities to IV (adapted Rossi-Forel scale). RSAM peaks coincided with the larger high-frequency earthquakes, and long-period events were associated with ash/steam emissions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Epicenters of 648 earthquakes recorded near Pinatubo, 19-25 August 1991. Courtesy of PHIVOLCS.

26 August-1 September. Only two ash/steam emissions were detected; plume heights ranged from about 10 to 16 km. Light ashfall occurred to 40 km SE (San Fernando) during secondary explosions that produced columns to 16 km. Ash related to these events caused poor visibility (300 m) on the highway between San Fernando and Angeles (25 km E of the volcano). The number of felt shocks (M < 4.2) increased to 17, with intensities to V (adapted Rossi-Forel scale). Multiple peaks in RSAM plots were due to mudflows, while single peaks were caused by long-period events associated with the two ash/steam emissions.

2-8 September. One ash/steam emission was detected (2 September), producing a 9-km plume that was carried W (highest portion) and NE (lower portion). Secondary explosions, three of which were recorded as low-amplitude, low-frequency earthquakes, generated ash clouds 2-4.5 km high. Geologists proposed that the heavy ashfall and 15-km-high ash column observed at 1400 on 4 September (figure 21) were from a secondary pyroclastic flow, whose fresh deposits were discovered two days later. The absence of a long-period earthquake coincident with the ash cloud suggested that it had not been generated by caldera explosions. The secondary pyroclastic-flow deposits about 3 km SSW of the caldera (in the upper Marella drainage) were estimated to be 1-2 km wide, and 4-6 km long, with a headwall scarp 15-25 m high. The deposit appeared very recent and seemed water-saturated. It was not known whether the ash cloud was generated purely by convection, or by phreatic explosions resulting from an encounter with water on the river bed. A helicopter overflight of the caldera on 6 September revealed no evidence of activity during the prior several days. Steaming was observed along the margins of the caldera and a bluish lake was present. No evidence of a lava dome was found.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Visible and infrared image from the NOAA 11 polar-orbiting weather satellite on 4 September at about 1445, showing a large, 15-km-high ash cloud above Pinatubo believed to have been generated by a secondary pyroclastic flow. Courtesy of G. Stephens.

Recorded earthquakes averaged 88/day, similar to 89/day the previous week. The majority were of high-frequency, and geologists believed that they were caused by tectonic readjustments. Most of the few low-frequency signals coincided with observed secondary explosions. Seismicity remained shallow (about 38% at less than 2 km depth), centered beneath or NW of the caldera. Long-duration, high-frequency earthquakes corresponding to mudflows created peaks in RSAM plots. A magnitude 5.1 earthquake at 0627 on 5 September, centered ~17 km NNW (15.53°N, 120.31°E) at 10 km depth, was felt at Clark Air Base (intensity RF V).

On 4 September, due to the continued decrease in caldera activity, the volcanic alert was reduced from Level 5 (eruption in progress) to Level 3 (numerous magma-related earthquakes, fumaroles, and gas emission), and the danger zone radius was reduced from 20 to 10 km. The principal remaining hazards and their probable durations were identified (table 4).

Table 4. Principal hazards associated with Pinatubo following the 15-16 June 1991 eruption (as of 4 September 1991). Courtesy of PHIVOLCS.

Number Hazard Description Duration
1 Heavy rains may remobilize large volumes of loose pyroclastic materials on the upper slopes of Pinatubo, generating mudflows that will affect communities near drainage channels and in low-lying downstream areas. 2-5 years...for as long as large volumes of loose sediments on slopes are subjected to heavy rain.
2 Moderate to heavy rainstorms that do not generate mudflows will still transport extraordinarily large volumes of sediments to lowland areas. This sediment will fill up river-channel storage capacity, resulting in more frequent and severe floods in lowland areas. Years to decades.
3 Occasional phreatic explosions at the summit caldera can cause light to moderately heavy ashfall in downwind areas with possible damage to aircraft. Possible plume heights may vary from 5-20 km altitude. Months and possibly years, but probably lessening in intensity, heights attained, and recurrence with time.
4 Groundwater that percolates into the hot interiors of pyroclastic-flow deposits can cause steam explosions. Ejected ash and ballistic fragments can be hazardous to distances of hundreds of meters. Months to a year or more...until the interiors of pyroclastic flow deposits have sufficiently cooled.
5 As overall volcano-related seismicity decreases, earthquakes can still generate ground motions sufficiently strong to damage or destroy weak and/or unstable objects and structures. The distribution of these earthquakes probably will be broad and could cover the entire volcano and peripheral areas. Several months to a year.
6 Thick pyroclastic deposits may locally remobilize as secondary pyroclastic flows and threaten areas as much as 10km downslope. Earthquakes, heavy rainfall, and secondary explosions may serve as triggering factors. Weeks to months, dependng on the presence of metastable materials and the occurrence of triggering factors.

9-15 September. Although no ash/steam emissions were detected, ash clouds 2-10 km high were produced by secondary explosions. Vigorous steam emission was noted from the S side of the caldera, and the blue crater lake was still present during observations on 10 September. The average number of earthquakes decreased to 54 recorded daily, most centered ~2 km NW or 2 km S of the caldera, at <2 km and 5-10 km depths. The majority of events were M <2. RSAM and accumulated energy both showed decreases corresponding to the drop in seismicity. Multiple RSAM peaks coincided with mudflows, while single peaks were caused by moderate-sized earthquakes.

Debris flows. All of Pinatubo's major drainage systems experienced debris flows, ranging from mudflows to hyperconcentrated flows and floods. Numerous flows also occurred in more distant drainages in which significant quantities of tephra were deposited. To help alleviate hazards and to aid in studying debris-flow processes, rain gauges were installed, observation posts were set up at strategic locations along rivers, and cross sections were monitored at bridges. Timely warnings and evacuations considerably reduced the number of injuries and casualties. High rainfall (to > 30 cm/day) and still-hot pyroclastic-flow deposits generated numerous hot mudflows that deposited as much as several meters of material.

On the SE flank's Pasig-Potrero River, pyroclastic-flow deposits had formed a dam behind which a 1,000 x 600 m lake had formed. The lake drained on 7 September, causing muddy flash floods that reached 1.2 m high in about 5-10 minutes at Bacolar (35 km SE of the volcano). Press reports indicated that 800 homes were destroyed and seven people were confirmed dead. By 15 September, continued flooding and mudflows resulted in the deaths of 12 more people at Bacolar, where 45,000 of the 68,000 residents had fled.

News reports placed the death toll from the eruption, mud flows, and disease at more than 740 by 20 September [see also 16:9]. Of the fatalities in evacuation camps, an estimated 95% were Aeta tribesmen and 75% were children. The Aeta reportedly refused most medical assistance such as vaccinations.

Fieldwork on June eruptive products. Preliminary estimates have been calculated for pyroclastic-flow deposits and airfall tephra from the paroxysmal June eruptive activity. The bulk of the material erupted was found in pyroclastic flow deposits (5-7 km3); several drainage systems included more than 1 km3. An estimated 0.48 km3 of airfall tephra was deposited within the 15-cm isopach (table 5); the total volume of tephra-fall material erupted, including that deposited in the South China Sea or lost to the atmosphere, was believed to be between 2 and 4 km3. The total volume, therefore, is estimated as 7-11 km3 (roughly 3-5 km3 dense rock equivalent).

Table 5. Preliminary volume calculations (±10% error) of June 1991 eruptive products from Pinatubo. Total tephra deposit volume: 0.48 km3. Total pyroclastic-flow volume: 7.0 km3. Courtesy of PHIVOLCS.

Deposit Type Location Volume (km3)
Tephra 50 cm isopach 0.07
Tephra 40 cm isopach 0.03
Tephra 30 cm isopach 0.10
Tephra 25 cm isopach 0.01
Tephra 20 cm isopach 0.11
Tephra 15 cm isopach 0.16
 
Pyroclastic-flow O'Donnell drainage 1.0
Pyroclastic-flow Sacobia-Pasig-Abacan drainage 1.6
Pyroclastic-flow Marella drainage 1.3
Pyroclastic-flow Balin-Barquero-Maraunot-Bucao drainage 3.1

Geologic Background. Prior to 1991 Pinatubo volcano was a relatively unknown, heavily forested lava dome complex located 100 km NW of Manila with no records of historical eruptions. The 1991 eruption, one of the world's largest of the 20th century, ejected massive amounts of tephra and produced voluminous pyroclastic flows, forming a small, 2.5-km-wide summit caldera whose floor is now covered by a lake. Caldera formation lowered the height of the summit by more than 300 m. Although the eruption caused hundreds of fatalities and major damage with severe social and economic impact, successful monitoring efforts greatly reduced the number of fatalities. Widespread lahars that redistributed products of the 1991 eruption have continued to cause severe disruption. Previous major eruptive periods, interrupted by lengthy quiescent periods, have produced pyroclastic flows and lahars that were even more extensive than in 1991.

Information Contacts: R. Punongbayan, PHIVOLCS; K. Rodolfo, Pinatubo Lahar Hazards Taskforce, Univ of Illinois; W. Scott, USGS CVO; G. Stephens, NOAA/NESDIS; NEIC; AP; Reuters; UPI.


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

Poas

Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Crater lake rises, covering fumaroles; low-frequency seismicity

In August, the crater lake grew to cover all crater fumaroles, while fumarolic activity continued at levels considered "normal" for the volcano. The yearly total of recorded microearthquakes (almost all of low frequency) exceeded 32,500 by the end of the month (figure 40), a decrease from 1990.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Monthly number of earthquakes at Poás, January-August 1991. Courtesy of ICE.

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: R. Barquero and G. Soto, ICE; M. Fernández, H. Flores, and S. Paniagua, UCR.


Raung (Indonesia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Raung

Indonesia

8.119°S, 114.056°E; summit elev. 3260 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Dense plumes

The crew of Qantas flight 41 (Sydney-Jakarta) observed a very dense black plume emerging intermittently from a flank vent on 10 September at 1508. The plume was drifting N at ~6 km altitude, well below the aircraft's altitude of nearly 12 km. A voluminous, dense, mostly white plume with small pulses of ash in its center was observed from a commercial flight two days later.

Geologic Background. Raung, one of Java's most active volcanoes, is a massive stratovolcano in easternmost Java that was constructed SW of the rim of Ijen caldera. The unvegetated summit is truncated by a dramatic steep-walled, 2-km-wide caldera that has been the site of frequent historical eruptions. A prehistoric collapse of Gunung Gadung on the W flank produced a large debris avalanche that traveled 79 km, reaching nearly to the Indian Ocean. Raung contains several centers constructed along a NE-SW line, with Gunung Suket and Gunung Gadung stratovolcanoes being located to the NE and W, respectively.

Information Contacts: ICAO; J. Post, SI.


Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

10.83°N, 85.324°W; summit elev. 1916 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions eject ash and blocks

After reports of strong sulfur odors, geologists visited the summit area on 28-30 August. A sulfurous odor was noted at Copelares on the S flank (1,400 m elevation), during the evening of 28 August. An explosion was heard at 0151 the next morning, followed several seconds later by the sound of falling material. Examination of 29 August records from a seismic station 6 km SW of the crater (RIN3) showed that a small earthquake occurred at 0148:47, then a larger earthquake sequence lasting 7.5 minutes began at 0151:40, coinciding with the first audible explosion. As the ascent continued later that morning, traces of fresh ash were observed beginning at about 1,500 m elevation. Large quantities of ash and blocks, ranging from 15 to 75 cm in diameter, were found deposited in the summit area. Impact craters reached 120 cm in diameter and 35 cm deep.

Bad weather obscured the view of the crater floor, but several explosions were heard, and the largest, at 0930, rained very wet ash on the scientists. Near the crater, the smell of sulfur was very strong, making breathing difficult and stinging the eyes. Nearby vegetation was partially or completely dead. Rain collected at Copelares had a pH of 4.1.

On 30 August, scientists visited Ríos Azul and Pénjamo, which flow down the N flank from the crater area. Both rivers were gray-white with suspended sediment, which was also visible, but in lower concentrations, in the Ríos Colorado and Blanco on the S and SE flanks.

[On 6 September, strong fumarolic activity (jet engine noise) was seen in the active crater. During explosive events of May-August 1991 the ejecta was mainly composed of gray mud (sulfide-rich), lithics, and bread-crust bombs (~10% by volume).]

Geologic Background. Rincón de la Vieja, the largest volcano in NW Costa Rica, is a remote volcanic complex in the Guanacaste Range. The volcano consists of an elongated, arcuate NW-SE-trending ridge that was constructed within the 15-km-wide early Pleistocene Guachipelín caldera, whose rim is exposed on the south side. Sometimes known as the "Colossus of Guanacaste," it has an estimated volume of 130 km3 and contains at least nine major eruptive centers. Activity has migrated to the SE, where the youngest-looking craters are located. The twin cone of 1916-m-high Santa María volcano, the highest peak of the complex, is located at the eastern end of a smaller, 5-km-wide caldera and has a 500-m-wide crater. A plinian eruption producing the 0.25 km3 Río Blanca tephra about 3500 years ago was the last major magmatic eruption. All subsequent eruptions, including numerous historical eruptions possibly dating back to the 16th century, have been from the prominent active crater containing a 500-m-wide acid lake located ENE of Von Seebach crater.

Information Contacts: J. Barquero and E. Fernández, OVSICORI; R. Barquero and G. Soto, ICE; Mario Fernández, Héctor Flores, and Sergio Paniagua, Univ. de Costa Rica.


Ruapehu (New Zealand) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Ruapehu

New Zealand

39.28°S, 175.57°E; summit elev. 2797 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lake temperature rises; possible minor eruptions

A brief period of strong heating in Crater Lake was accompanied by small volcanic earthquakes and possibly by minor eruptions. Continuously recorded lake temperature data showed a gradual decline to 16°C by mid-June, then little change until a sharp increase began about 1 July. Temperatures reached 24.4°C on the 18th before declining again to 13° by late August. A series of small volcanic earthquakes occurred 5-14 July, none exceeding M 1.8.

Severe winter weather limited observations near the time of the increased activity, although the lake appeared normal on 11 July. When briefly observed on 12 August, evidence of 1-2 m of surging was visible under fresh (about 10 August) snow around the lake margin. More detailed observations during fieldwork 27 and 29 August revealed dirty, ash-covered ice under fresh snow 1-2 m above lake level, and widening of the lake's outlet channel by previous strong outflow or surging. No clear patterns were evident in summit-area deformation data.

Geologic Background. Ruapehu, one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes, is a complex stratovolcano constructed during at least four cone-building episodes dating back to about 200,000 years ago. The 110 km3 dominantly andesitic volcanic massif is elongated in a NNE-SSW direction and surrounded by another 100 km3 ring plain of volcaniclastic debris, including the Murimoto debris-avalanche deposit on the NW flank. A series of subplinian eruptions took place between about 22,600 and 10,000 years ago, but pyroclastic flows have been infrequent. A single historically active vent, Crater Lake, is located in the broad summit region, but at least five other vents on the summit and flank have been active during the Holocene. Frequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have occurred in historical time from the Crater Lake vent, and tephra characteristics suggest that the crater lake may have formed as early as 3000 years ago. Lahars produced by phreatic eruptions from the summit crater lake are a hazard to a ski area on the upper flanks and to lower river valleys.

Information Contacts: P. Otway, DSIR Wairakei.


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

Nevado del Ruiz

Colombia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity, deformation, and gas emission remain unchanged

Seismicity remained at low levels in August, with earthquakes mainly W and N of the crater at 0-5 km depths. Tremor episodes were brief and of low energy. Deformation showed no significant changes. The monthly average SO2 flux was 1,135 t/d, similar to July.

Geologic Background. Nevado del Ruiz is a broad, glacier-covered volcano in central Colombia that covers more than 200 km2. 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.


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

Santa Maria

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued explosions and block lava production

During a brief visit on 11 September, vertical explosions occurred hourly, producing plumes to about 1200 m height. The block lava flow erupting from the E summit of Caliente continued to flow down to the Río Nima II.

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

Information Contacts: W.I. Rose, Michigan Technological Univ.


Stromboli (Italy) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued moderate explosive activity; gas data

Explosive activity was restricted to crater C1 (NE part of the summit area; figure 17) during 9 August fieldwork (by F. Iacop, Institute of Earth Sciences, Univ of Udine). C1's central cone ejected hot tephra at ~20-minute intervals, and as a result, it had grown more rapidly than the crater's other two active cones. Glow from two small radial fissures in crater C2 was clearly visible at night. Sustained noisy gas emissions occurred about once an hour. Volcano guides had reported that activity was concentrated in crater C3 (SW part of the summit area), but at its cone 1 only hot vapor emission was occurring, from two vents, on 9 August. Rare explosions, mostly ejecting tephra, took place at bocca 4. The average number of recorded earthquakes remained near the normal value of 6/hour in July, declining below that level in the month's last week (figure 18). Average tremor amplitude also remained relatively constant through the end of July, while large shocks nearly disappeared after a peak on 29 June (figure 19). [see 16:09 for 28-29 August observations].

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Active craters at Stromboli as seen from the somma, 6 September 1991. Crosses mark small vents active during the 6 September fieldwork. Courtesy of the Société Volcanologique Européenne.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Average number of explosion events/hour at Stromboli, 22 June-31 July 1991. The mean value for the period is shown. Courtesy of M. Riuscetti.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Number of seismometer-saturating events/day (lower curve) and average daily tremor amplitude (upper curve) at Stromboli, 22 June-31 July 1991. Courtesy of M. Riuscetti.

Moderate activity was observed in early September, with explosive episodes about every 15 minutes at crater C3 and roughly hourly at C1. Activity increased in the 3 hours of observations after 2300 on 6 September, with many moderate to strong explosions from the SW part of C3. Ejections of incandescent bombs and scoria sometimes lasted several minutes. Thick white vapor plumes rose from C2 and a small cone in its center, while blue SO2-rich plumes emerged from several other vents. Explosions from C1 were vigorous, ejecting glowing fragments and dark brown columns that rose 200 m above the crater. C3's smaller explosive bursts, consisting of tephra-poor incandescent gas jets, were usually preceded by comparatively brief periods of increasing, noisy gas puffs; larger explosions that ejected a higher proportion of tephra followed longer intervals, with fewer or no precursory gas puffs. Geologists attributed this pattern to intermittent closure (by cooling) of the lava-filled conduits to gas-bubble rise from the underlying magma body, allowing higher pressure to build at depth.

Airborne COSPEC measurements by an Italian-French cooperative program in May-July indicated a total SO2 flux somewhat lower than that measured by the same means in 1980 and 1984 (1,000 ± 200 t/d average; Allard and others, in press), consistent with the current moderate activity. Geologists concluded that combined with microprobe determination of the initial and residual sulfur content of Stromboli's lava, the SO2 flux data require the degassing of 0.1 km3/year (average) of magma, three orders of magnitude more than the co-erupted volume. Thus, gas output is essentially derived from magma stored within the volcano. To assess the amount of diffuse magmatic degassing through the volcanic pile, other than from the craters, infrared mass spectrometric profiling of CO2 concentrations in the ground began on 11 September. High CO2 levels (80-90%), associated with subsurface thermal anomalies, were found to characterize the Pizzo sopra La Fossa crater terrace (at the summit rim, SE of the active craters). Concentrations gradually decreased toward the rim of this former crater, and no CO2 anomaly was detected in outer areas to the S (down to the Vancori rampart).

Reference. Allard, P., Carbonelle, J., Le Bronec, J., Metrich, N., and Zetwoog, P., Volatile flux and magma degassing budget at Stromboli volcano: Geophysical Research Letters, in review.

Geologic Background. Spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions at this volcano have long attracted visitors to the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean." Stromboli, the NE-most of the Aeolian Islands, has lent its name to the frequent mild explosive activity that has characterized its eruptions throughout much of historical time. The small island is the emergent summit of a volcano that grew in two main eruptive cycles, the last of which formed the western portion of the island. The Neostromboli eruptive period took place between about 13,000 and 5,000 years ago. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a prominent horseshoe-shaped scarp formed about 5,000 years ago due to a series of slope failures that extend to below sea level. The modern volcano has been constructed within this scarp, which funnels pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows to the NW. Essentially continuous mild Strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded for more than a millennium.

Information Contacts: M. Riuscetti, Univ di Udine; Patrick Allard, CNRS-CEA, France; J.C. Baubron, BRGM, France; H. Gaudru and Rolf Haubrichs, SVE, Switzerland; Yvonne Miller, Univ de Genève, Switzerland.


Unzendake (Japan) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Unzendake

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued lava dome extrusion and pyroclastic flows

Lava extrusion continued at Jigoku-ato crater through mid-September, generating destructive pyroclastic flows that advanced down two valleys. More than 12,000 people remained evacuated and no new casualties were reported.

A summit seismic swarm that began 11 August peaked 12-13 August (figure 29), then gradually declined through the 19th. Incandescent block ejection was seen between 0000 and 0200 on 12 August, followed by continuous ash emission through the day. The number of seismically detected pyroclastic flows from the lava dome decreased suddenly to a few events daily on 12 August. A new lava dome, first recognized from the air on 13 August, emerged W of the former dome, and began to produce pyroclastic flows on 25 August. Pyroclastic flows had previously traveled down the Mizunashi River valley but those from the new dome (C dome; see below) moved ENE down the Oshigatani Valley, which extends N of and parallel to the Mizunashi, then joins it several kilometers downstream. Some of the larger pyroclastic flows from the new dome advanced 3 km down the Oshigatani valley from late August through mid-September, and pyroclastic surges burned vegetation. The mayor of Shimabara city ordered the evacuation of about 500 people from an area (Senbongi) 3.5 km NE of the dome on 31 August. Frequent pyroclastic flows during the afternoon of 3 September included one of about 1 x 105 m3 volume that advanced down the Oshigatani Valley at 1611. The accompanying cloud rose about 1,500 m and ash fell to the N part of Shimabara city. Ashfalls from pyroclastic flow elutriation clouds disrupted traffic around Shimabara city throughout the following day; the cloud from a flow at 1311 was 2,500 m high.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Daily numbers of earthquakes (top), tremor episodes (middle), and pyroclastic-flow events (bottom) recorded at Unzen, 1 May-20 September 1991. Courtesy of JMA.

Another seismic swarm began beneath the crater on 6 September, and a pyroclastic flow that evening at 2121 advanced about 3.5 km down the Oshigatani Valley. Hypocenters and seismic wave characteristics were similar to those of mid-August, although the September swarm was more vigorous.

By 12 September, the lava dome had broken into numerous small blocks. Seismic activity declined through 14 September but increased again on the 15th. Seismometers near the summit began to record larger pyroclastic flows, with longer durations than any since 8 June, on 15 September at 1644 (150 seconds) followed by others at 1759 (120 seconds), 1842 (360 seconds), and the largest at 1854 (670 seconds). The latter moved down the Oshigatani valley, entered the Mizunashi valley, and continued to within 500 m of highway 57, a total of 5.5 km. The main body of the pyroclastic flow turned east into the Mizunashi valley, where it damaged 50 houses in Shimabara city, but the pyroclastic surge continued about 800 m southward, destroying 26 houses and 74 other buildings including those of a primary school (in Onokoba district, Fukae town). All of the affected area had previously been evacuated, so there were no casualties. The largest pyroclastic flow was associated with the collapse of a section of the new lava dome about 250 m wide, 300 m long, and 50 m thick, a volume exceeding 3 x 106 m3. This is about 20% of the total volume of lava domes erupted to date, and 3 times the volume of material removed by the 8 June pyroclastic flow. Two days later, a new lobe had grown to 100 x 200 m and 30 m high (0.3 x 106 m3/day), about twice the June-August extrusion rate (see below).

A total of 292 pyroclastic-flow events was recorded in August, down from 326 in July, but the more frequent episodes toward mid-September raised that month's total to 310 as of the 17th. September earthquake counts had reached 2075 through the 17th, up from 559 in August and 133 in July.

The following, from Setsuya Nakada, describes eruption products through early September.

The size and frequency of pyroclastic flows had decreased until July, and travel distances were almost always <2 km. However, collapse episodes from the E lava dome remained frequent and lava blocks had filled the narrow headwaters of the Mizunashi River, along which the 3 and 8 June pyroclastic flows had descended. As a result, cliffs along the valley disappeared, and valley-fill deposits (talus) became thick enough to act as a cushion to soften the shock of falling blocks. The E dome flowed southeastward on the valley-fill deposits. After the end of June, the horseshoe-shaped depression had filled with dome materials, and lava blocks began to fall northeastward onto the floor of Myoken caldera (figure 30). They filled the E end of the floor with talus, which overflowed the caldera rim at the end of July. Lava blocks then fell down the E and NE flanks as pyroclastic flows and their paths widened northeastward. Some reached the N bank of the Mizunashi River. The E margin of the E dome widened; because the NE slope under the dome was steeper than the SE slope, the northern half of the E dome migrated northeastward, while the southern half did not move and solidified. By the middle of August, the caldera rim NE of the dome had been eroded away by the falling lava blocks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Sketch map of Unzen's lava dome, 8 September 1991. Courtesy of Setsuya Nakada.

At the beginning of August, the ash-laden plume from the small vent at the northern base of the remnant W dome became stronger, and new lava was extruded on the western part of the E dome. On 5 August, many bubbles were observed coming from an old water-filled crater near the W dome. The small explosions that took place from the W dome on 12 August (see above) enlarged the vent to 20 m across and built a tuff cone around it. The E dome temporarily thickened for a few days prior to the new lava extrusion; the western part of the E dome, just above the former Jigoku-ato Crater, had swelled vertically. By the time new lava appeared 13 August, magma supply into the E dome had stopped, since the E dome did not lengthen and the surface of the dome did not move eastward (figure 31). It was difficult to accurately estimate the change in magma supply rate; talus and pyroclastic flows were deposited over an extensive area with irregular topography, which causes difficulties in calculating volumes of talus plus pyroclastic deposits.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Tracings of photographs from a fixed point about 4.4 km from Unzen's E lava dome, illustrating its growth 10 July-20 August 1991. Courtesy of Setsuya Nakada.

At the end of August, the new dome (central, or C dome) was 375 m long, 275 m wide, and 60-80 m high. The C dome grew eastward and northeastward, keeping a constant thickness. It covered the E dome and talus, plus a part of the old volcanic edifice, which was bulldozed by the growing dome from the former crater wall to the caldera rim. Talus also formed on the E dome. At the end of August, the volume of C dome was about 4 x 106 m3 and the total volume of the domes was about 12 x 106 m3. The resulting dome growth rate is about 0.15 x 106 m3/day for 8 June-28 August.

Lava blocks fell down the E and NE margins of C dome into the Oshigatani Valley, forming pyroclastic flows beginning 25 August. The upstream area of the valley was the source area for lahars on 30 June. The pyroclastic flows traveled a maximum distance of 3 km from the dome, and had associated ash-cloud surge and seared zones like those of 3 and 8 June (figure 32). Flows moving down the Oshigatani Valley changed course southeastward when they encountered a high point dividing the valley and a residential area. Ash-cloud surges climbed the barrier, burning or searing trees, but block-and-ash flows did not. The devastated area was widest for pyroclastic flows that took place within the first week. By mid-September, Oshigatani Valley had been almost filled by pyroclastic-flow deposits.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Map showing the distribution of pyroclastic flows from Unzen as of 9 September 1991. Deposits from lahars, which occurred mainly on 30 June, are omitted. Courtesy of Setsuya Nakada.

Average speeds of pyroclastic flows were estimated using travel distances observed by Ground Self-Defense Force radar and durations of tremor signals. The higher the average speed of a pyroclastic flow, the longer its travel distance: about 100 km/hour for flows reaching 3 km distance and 50 km/hour for flows 1 km long. The average speed of a pyroclastic flow at the end of August was estimated at 93 km/hour using the time lag between the start of the tremor signal and the time when the seismometer was broken by the flow.

Geologic Background. The massive Unzendake volcanic complex comprises much of the Shimabara Peninsula east of the city of Nagasaki. An E-W graben, 30-40 km long, 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; S. Nakada, Kyushu Univ; M. Takahashi, SI; Yomiuri Shinbun, Tokyo.


Villarrica (Chile) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Villarrica

Chile

39.42°S, 71.93°W; summit elev. 2847 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak explosions

An increase in fumarolic activity and weak explosions were observed in the crater during August-September. On 26 August, water in a nearby river (Río Carmelito) was cloudy and the river level abnormally high. Four days later, on 30 August, small ash emissions and continuous explosions were observed from 1430 to 1500, followed by a strong explosion at 1506. A weak emission of gray ash and a white gas plume 1 km high were observed on 17 September. Seismicity was at normal levels for the volcano.

Geologic Background. Glacier-clad Villarrica, one of Chile's most active volcanoes, rises above the lake and town of the same name. It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain. A 6-km-wide caldera formed during the late Pleistocene. A 2-km-wide caldera that formed about 3500 years ago is located at the base of the presently active, dominantly basaltic to basaltic-andesitic cone at the NW margin of the Pleistocene caldera. More than 30 scoria cones and fissure vents dot the flanks. Plinian eruptions and pyroclastic flows that have extended up to 20 km from the volcano were produced during the Holocene. Lava flows up to 18 km long have issued from summit and flank vents. Historical eruptions, documented since 1558, have consisted largely of mild-to-moderate explosive activity with occasional lava effusion. Glaciers cover 40 km2 of the volcano, and lahars have damaged towns on its flanks.

Information Contacts: G. Fuentealba and P. Riffo, Univ de la Frontera.


White Island (New Zealand) — August 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)


Tephra emission; shock waves in crater

Emission of gas/tephra columns from May 91 vent continued through August. During early-August helicopter overflights, R. Fleming noted flashes and strong low-frequency detonations as a hot, dilute eruption column rose from the vent. Crumbly white lithic blocks and lapilli with rare juvenile scoriae had been deposited nearby. Larger-than-normal plumes were often visible from the North Island coast, roughly 50 km away.

During fieldwork 28-29 August, a convoluting pink-brown column was emitted from May 91 vent. It contained very little ash and no evident incandescent material. Visible shock waves emerged from the vent every few seconds as "flashing arcs," lighting clouds above with a flickering glow like that from a poorly-functioning fluorescent tube. The strongest shock waves were manifested as an instantaneous displacement of the plume at the vent, and could be felt 150 m away. Some could be seen to bounce off the crater walls and travel back through the clouds. The shock waves did not seem to affect the rate of plume emission. The activity was accompanied by dull booming and sloshing noises, and occasional sharp detonations. The sloshing sounds were much like those heard in 1988 at Yasur (Vanuatu), where large gas bubbles were bursting through the surface of an active lava lake. Geologists noted that the activity at May 91 vent was consistent with similar gas-bubble discharge through a liquid magma column.

About 200 mm of coarse and fine ash had been deposited just N of May 91 vent since the previous fieldwork on 27 May. Little new ash was evident elsewhere on the main crater floor, but small (< 0.3 m) lithic blocks and their impact craters were found >200 m SE of the vent and to its W. Scarce, widely scattered scoria bombs, most 0.1-0.2 m across but some reaching 0.3 m, were found on top of the May ash, with only a light ash coating. The bombs seemed most abundant a few hundred meters SE-NE of the vent. They had highly vesiculated interiors of black glass with large pyroxene and plagioclase phenocrysts. Internal vesicles were up to 30 mm across, but decreased rapidly to sub-millimeter size toward the surface.

The pattern of deformation between late May and late August was similar to that of the previous 3 months. Strong subsidence at roughly double the previous rate continued to be centered SE of May 91 vent, while relative inflation persisted ~200 m farther SE. A new zone of inflation was measured E of Noisy Nellie fumarole (NE of May 91 vent). Minor deformation associated with activity at May 91 vent is unlikely to be detected, as the nearest part of the levelling network is 100 m away. Most fumarole temperatures had changed little since May, although values at Noisy Nellie had increased from 240 to 411°C.

The volcano had remained seismically quiet until mid-June, when B-type events became more common, continuing at rates of 2-7/day through the end of the month. Very weak volcanic tremor was sometimes visible on seismic records. A sequence of >45 tectonic earthquakes (to ML 3.7) occurred near White Island 1-2 July. A- and B-type events increased markedly on 7 July, accompanied by a small increase in background volcanic tremor amplitude. E-type eruption earthquakes were recorded on 1, 7, and 11 July. Seismicity had declined by 15 July, but a 3-day swarm of >200 A-type events began on 20 July. Significant volcanic tremor also resumed and continued through mid-August, increasing again 21-28 August. Tremor varied from a nearly pure 1.8 Hz signal to a complex pattern with spectral peaks to 8 Hz. A-type events did not occur daily in August, but often numbered 8-10/day. B-type events were very rare after 24 July. E-type eruption shocks were recorded on 14, 15, 19, 20, 23, 27, 29, and 30 August.

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: B. Houghton, I. Nairn, and B. Scott, DSIR Geology & Geophysics, Rotorua.

Atmospheric Effects

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

Atmospheric Effects (1980-1989)  Atmospheric Effects (1995-2001)

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


Central Chile and Argentina


Estero de Parraguirre


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

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

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

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



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

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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


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

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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