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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

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

Karangetang (Indonesia) Activity at two craters with the N crater producing ash plumes, avalanches, pyroclastic flows, and lava flows that reached the ocean in February 2019



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/.


Karangetang (Indonesia) — May 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Activity at two craters with the N crater producing ash plumes, avalanches, pyroclastic flows, and lava flows that reached the ocean in February 2019

Karangetang (also referred to as Api Siau) is an active volcano on the island of Siau in the Sitaro Regency, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. It produces frequent small eruptions that include gas-and-steam plumes, ash plumes, avalanches, lava flows, incandescent ballistic ejecta, and pyroclastic flows. This report covers May 2018-May 2019 and summarizes reports by Indonesia's Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM, or the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation), and the Darwin VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center), and satellite data. During this time, increased activity resulted in a lava flow that reached the ocean and cut road access to communities.

No activity was reported during May through October 2018. During this time, Sentinel-2 thermal images showed elevated temperatures in the main active crater and gas-and-steam plumes dispersing in different directions (figure 17). On 4 July, the Darwin VAAC reported a "weak" ash plume to an altitude of 3 km that drifted NE, only based on satellite imagery. There were few thermal signatures detected by the MIROVA algorithm from May through November (figure 18).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Incandescence and weak steam-and-gas plumes at the southern crater of Karangetang on 9 May and 17 August 2018. This was common in cloud-free images acquired during this time. Sentinel-2 false color (bands 12, 11, 4) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. MIROVA log radiative power plot of MODIS infrared data for June 2018 through April 2019. There was little thermal energy detected before December, after which levels remained high until they began declining in March 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Steam plumes were observed from two craters during November 2018 (figures 19 and 20). There was a significant increase in seismicity on 22 to 23 November, followed by a sharp decline on the 24th. The first MODVOLC thermal alert was issued on 25 November. At 1314 on 25 November an ash plume rose to at least 500 m above the N crater and the Aviation Color Code was raised to Orange. A Sentinel-2 thermal image acquired on this day showed elevated temperatures at both south and north craters, with accompanying gas-and-steam plumes. After the increase in seismicity and detected thermal energy, activity progressed to lava flow extrusion, avalanches, and pyroclastic flows triggered from the lava flow. The lava flow originated from the north crater (Kawah Dua) and moved towards the NNW. Avalanches accompanied the flow from the crater and down the lava flow surface. The Volcano Alert level was increased from II to III on 20 December at 1800 (on a scale of I to IV).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. White gas-and-steam plumes emanating from two craters at Karangetang at 0630 on 16 November 2018. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia via Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. An ash plume from the N crater (left) and a gas-and-steam plume from the S crater (right) of Karangetang at 0703 on 26 November 2018. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia via Øystein Lund Andersen.

Throughout January 2019 activity consisted of small ash plumes up to 600 m above the N crater (figure 21) and continued lava flow activity. On 17 January Kompas TV reported that heavy ashfall impacted several villages. Lava and avalanches traveled as far as 0.7-1 km W towards the Sumpihi River and 1-2 km NE down the Kali Batuare throughout the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. A small ash plume on 31 January 2019 at Karangetang. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia via Øystein Lund Andersen.

Video taken on 3 February 2019 shows the lava flow covering the road and continuing down the steep slope with multi-meter-scale incandescent blocky lava fragments on the surface dislodging and triggering small avalanches. By 5 February the lava flow reached over 3.5 km down the Malebuhe River drainage on the NW flank and into the ocean where a lava delta was growing with dense steam plume rising above by the 11th (figures 22-26). Drone footage from 9 February shows the lava flow across the section of road had a width of about 160 m and a width of about 140 m at the coast. Gas-and-steam and ash plumes were noted most days, reaching up to 600 m above the crater and dominantly dispersing to the E (figure 27). By 11 February there had been 190 people evacuated.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. The lava flow front at Karangetang nearing the ocean on 5 February 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. The lava flow entering the ocean at Karangetang in early February 2019. Photos posted on 11 February; courtesy of BNPB.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Locations of activity observations at Karangetang in November 2018 and February 2019. 27 November 2018: the descent of lava from the Kawah Dua crater (N crater) to about 700-1000 m away, towards the Sumpihi River and Kinali Village. 2 February 2019: the descent of lava 2.5 km NW, 500 m from the highway. 5 February 2019: the lava flow reached the sea. Courtesy of BNPB.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Karangetang during November 2018 through February 2019 showing elevated temperatures at two craters, gas-and-steam plumes, and a lava flow moving to the NW (bright yellow-orange). Sentinel-2 false color (bands 12, 11, 4) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. View of the active lava flow on Karangetang at the ocean entry in early February 2019. Photo posted on 12 February; taken by Ungke Pepotoh, courtesy of Agence France-Presse.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Ashfall from Karangetang on Siau Island as seen from Pehe port on 7 February 2019. Photo courtesy of The New Indian Express, AFP / Ungke Pepotoh.

On 13 February 2019 avalanches continued from the northern crater to 700-1000 m W towards the Sumpihi River and 1-2 km NE towards Kali Batuare. KOMPAS TV reported a statement by PVMBG describing a decrease in activity, including lava avalanches, but with elevated seismicity on the 12 February. Throughout this period of elevated activity both seismicity (figure 28), along with plume heights and directions (figure 29), were variable. On 22 February the Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume, due to a pyroclastic flow, rising to an altitude of 3.7 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Graph showing the variable seismicity at Karangetang during 1 November 2018 to 8 February 2019. Courtesy of PVMBG.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Graph showing gas-and-steam plume heights in meters above the crater from 1 November 2018 to 8 February 2019, with the plume dispersal directions indicated in the box. Modified from data courtesy of PVMBG.

Throughout March 2019 PVMBG reported the continuation of a low rate of lava effusion at the north crater, avalanches, and gas-and-steam plumes rising up to 500 m above the crater. The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume on 7 March that rose to an altitude of 2.7 km that dispersed to the SW. Minor ash emissions were reported by the Darwin VAAC on 6 April that rose to 2.1 km altitude and drifted SE. In mid-April, activity increased in the southern crater and on 15 April a pyroclastic flow traveled 2 km towards the Kahetang and Batuawang rivers. Another ash advisory was issued for an ash plume up to 2.4 km altitude on 16 April. Small gas-and-steam plumes continued through the month.

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: 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/); Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38, East Jakarta 13120, Indonesia (URL: http://www.bnpb.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/); 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/); Agence France-Presse (URL: http://www.afp.com/); Kompas TV, Menara Kompas Lt. 6, Jl. Palmerah Selatan No.21, Jakarta Pusat 10270 Indonesia (URL: https://www.kompas.tv/article/39190/abu-gunung-karangetang-tutup-permukiman-warga); The New Indian Express (URL: http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2019/feb/08/emergency-declared-on-indonesian-island-after-volcanic-eruption-1936173.html); Øystein Lund Andersen (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: https://www.oysteinlundandersen.com).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 17, Number 07 (July 1992)

Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland

Aira (Japan)

Occasional seismically recorded explosions and frequent quiet ash emissions

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Lava extrusion; Strombolian activity; pyroclastic flows

Asosan (Japan)

Phreatic activity and seismicity decline after block ejection

Bogoslof (United States)

New lava dome enlarges island

Copahue (Chile-Argentina)

Small explosions and mudflows; strong sulfur odors

Etna (Italy)

Continued lava production from SE-flank fissure; lava diversion summarized

Galeras (Colombia)

More details of 16 July explosion; previous activity summarized

Irazu (Costa Rica)

Continued thermal activity and seismicity; crater lake rises

Kilauea (United States)

Lava flows south from East-rift vents

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Explosive activity and small lava flow

Lengai, Ol Doinyo (Tanzania)

Fluid lava from summit-crater vents; gas and temperature data

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Weak ash emission and glow

Merapi (Indonesia)

Growing lava dome spawns avalanches; summit gas data

Nyamuragira (DR Congo)

NE-flank fissures continue to produce lava

Pinatubo (Philippines)

Continued dome growth; officials warn of possible explosive eruption

Poas (Costa Rica)

Fumarolic activity; frequent seismicity; crater lake fills

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Increased seismicity; largest monthly total since August 1988

Spurr (United States)

Brief but vigorous explosive activity; large cloud causes widespread light ashfall

Turrialba (Costa Rica)

Fewer seismic events

Unzendake (Japan)

Dome growth slows, but rockfalls and heavy rain trigger destructive pyroclastic and debris flows



Aira (Japan) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Occasional seismically recorded explosions and frequent quiet ash emissions

Six explosions . . . occurred in July, but caused no damage. Although explosions detected by seismic instruments, sounds, and air shocks have been infrequent since May, 31 quiet ash emissions were seen in May, 14 in June, and 19 in July, comparable to previous months. Ground observers reported that July's highest ash cloud rose 3.5 km (to ~4.5 km altitude) on the 29th. Captain Greg Wolfsheimer (Northwest Airlines) reported that a moderately dense, light-gray cloud was rising to more than 5 km altitude when his aircraft passed Sakura-jima at 1735 that day. No volcanic earthquake swarms were recorded in July.

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; G. Wolfsheimer, Gig Harbor, WA.


Arenal (Costa Rica) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Arenal

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava extrusion; Strombolian activity; pyroclastic flows

Extrusion of block lava, sporadic Strombolian activity, and gas emission were continuing in early August. Small pyroclastic flows were occasionally generated, as on 4 August at 1543 when one moved W and another S, and the ash column rose more than 1 km above the active summit crater (C). Another pyroclastic flow traveled S at 1604, reaching 1,050 m elevation. Lava continued to flow SW into the forest, advancing 150 m over a 15-day period ending in early August to reach 640 m elevation. Fumarolic activity occurred from the old summit crater (D).

On 12-22 July, personnel from OVSICORI, W. Melson, and a group of SI volunteers carried out 24-hour monitoring of the volcano. They sonically recorded 679 eruption events of three types (figure 49). Some were detected seismically 30 km away (at OVSICORI station JTS). Harmonic and monochromatic tremor were recorded for several-minute periods.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Number of sonically recorded eruptive episodes at Arenal, 12-21 July 1992. Black bars represent explosions; diagonally shaded bars, brief pulses of Strombolian activity; and stippled bars, more continuous Strombolian activity. Data were collected for 6 hours on 12 July and for 13 hours on 21 July. Courtesy of the Univ Nacional.

Vegetation on the NE, E, and SE flanks continued to be affected by acid rain and tephra fall. Small cold avalanches occurred in the Calle de Arena and Guillermina quebradas, and the Río Agua Caliente.

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: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI.


Asosan (Japan) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Phreatic activity and seismicity decline after block ejection

Blocks were ejected during the night of 30 June-1 July from Crater 1 for the first time since . . . December 1990. Vigorous steam emission followed for about 10 days, fed a plume to a maximum of 2 km height on 6 and 8 July, then gradually declined toward the end of the month (figure 19). Ejections of water, mud, and blocks that rose ~50 m above the surface of the crater lake were observed almost every day during July. The lake shrank rapidly in early July until it occupied only about 1/3 of the crater floor. The temperature of the lake surface (measured by infrared thermometer) reached 95°C on 4 July (figure 19), the highest since March 1991, but declined to around 60° by the end of the month. Isolated tremor episodes, which had peaked at ~2,000/day at the end of June, declined rapidly after the block ejection to 0-6/day (figure 19). The amplitude of post-eruption continuous tremor also declined (figure 20).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Daily number of tremor episodes (top), steam cloud heights (middle), and highest monthly surface temperatures of the crater lake (bottom) at Aso, January 1991-July 1992. A long arrow marks the 30 June-1 July eruption. Smaller arrows show weaker ash emissions. Courtesy of JMA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Daily mean amplitude of continuous tremor at Aso, late 1988-July 1992. Long arrows mark strong explosions, short arrows indicate weak ash emissions. Courtesy of JMA.

Similar activity continued through mid-August, with weak mud ejections from the lake, steady steam emissions to 1,000 m height, and low-level seismicity. The lake expanded again to cover all of the crater floor by 5 August because of inflow of groundwater, precipitation, and weaker ejection activity.

The area within 1 km of the crater . . . was reopened on 10 August.

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

Information Contacts: JMA.


Bogoslof (United States) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Bogoslof

United States

53.93°N, 168.03°W; summit elev. 150 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New lava dome enlarges island

A large new lava dome grew on the N side of Bogoslof Island (figure 1) during the steam-and-ash eruption reported in 17:6. The eruption apparently began about 6 July, and the last reports of activity were received on 24 July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Sketch map of Bogoslof Island, showing the 1992 dome and new flat land just offshore (labeled "rocks"). Pre-1992 features are drawn from a 1982 pocket-transit survey by John Reeder, which had shown substantial erosion of the soft 1926-27 pyroclastic deposits since USGS mapping in 1947 (Byers, 1959). Courtesy of John Reeder.

A plume was first visible on satellite imagery at about 1500 on 6 July, rising to an estimated 3 km altitude. Previous small plumes, if any, would have been obscured by clouds at about 6 km altitude that had remained over the area for the previous few days. Just after 1700 on 6 July, Thomas Madsen (Aleutian Air) saw a continuously rising steam column that disappeared into low clouds at 350 m altitude. From his vantage point 30 km SSE, the column appeared to be emerging from the sea just beyond the island. No eruptive activity had been evident during his previous flight two days earlier. At about 1800, Joe May and David Alborn (MarkAir) saw a white plume reaching at least 1.8 km altitude. During the late afternoon of 7 July, a commercial fisherman saw a rocky new island, with steam and some ash emerging from its summit, between Bogoslof Island and Fire Island (the 1883 dome). A fracture extended from the new island's summit to the sea, from where steam was also rising. No eruptive activity had been evident when the fisherman passed Bogoslof early 6 July.

Only intermittent small plumes appeared on satellite imagery through 13 July. However, plumes were continuous for the next two days, reaching a maximum altitude, on 14 July, of 5.5 km. The largest plume, at 1140 on 15 July, extended ~100 km ESE over neighboring Unalaska Island at 3-3.5 km altitude. At 1755 that day, May and Alborn saw a fairly dark, continuous, steam-and-ash plume that reached about 3.5 km elevation. Satellite images again showed only intermittent plumes 16-17 July, and none since then. Additional pilot observations included a rapidly rising mushroom-shaped cloud with a black stem, reaching at least 4.5 km above sea level on 17 July at 1623 (Wyman Owens, Peninsula Airways). On 20 July at 1830 Joseph Maricelli (Northwest Airlines) saw a gray plume rising from Bogoslof, with a very pale top that may have reached 8 km altitude. A gray cloud was still rising to 4.5 km when Randy Lovett and Tom Peebles (MarkAir) passed at 2056.

Photographs taken from a boat by Larry Shaishnikoff on 21 July, and video footage from a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 aircraft on 24 July, show a profusely steaming new lava dome at the N tip of the main island. Steam with some ash was emerging from most of the dome's surface during Shaishnikoff's visit. Incandescent lava could be seen within large crags over most of the dome, but was brightest on the upper NW and SE flanks. Estimates of its size from the video footage (AVO) and photographs (John Reeder) were similar, at ~80-90 m high and roughly 300-400 m across. It has a steep-sided central spire surrounded by a blocky, more gently sloping debris apron, and is adjacent to the remnant of the 1927 dome. Rock color and surface texture looked very similar to those of the 1927 dome in the Shaishnikoff photos. Approximately horizontal new land ("rocks" on figure 1) extended slightly above sea level just NNE of the dome. No steaming was occurring from these rocks, which may have been uplifted sea floor. Dall porpoises, numerous birds, and some Steller sea lions near Fire Island, several hundred meters from the new dome, did not appear to have been affected by the activity.

Pilot reports of steaming and possible ash emission continued through 24 July, after which occasional pilot observations indicated no further significant activity.

No ashfall has been reported at the two nearest towns, Dutch Harbor/Unalaska (100 km E of Bogoslof) and Nikolski (Umnak I., 120 km SW). The principal hazards from Bogoslof's eruptions are to aircraft in the Aleutian Islands and on Trans-Pacific international routes across the Bering Sea. No aircraft incidents have been reported. A SIGMET issued 20 July was cancelled the next day. No seismometers are maintained near the island.

The volcano's subaerial portion consists of fragmental deposits, agglomerate, lava spires, dome remnants, and beach sediments, all of historical age (Byers, 1959). All sampled rocks are high-potassium andesites and basalts (Arculus et al., 1977). The island is remote and uninhabited, but houses a large sea-lion rookery. The island's low elevation and frequent explosive activity since the first historical eruption in 1796 have resulted in rapid, well-documented morphologic changes over the past 200 years. Particularly vigorous eruptions occurred in 1883, 1907 (both of which deposited small amounts of ash on Dutch Harbor), and 1926-27. These eruptions were characterized by sporadic, violent explosions, with lava flows and dome-building continuing for several months (Jaggar, 1930). Three kilometers of muddy water encountered by a ship near the island in September 1951 may have been from a submarine eruption.

References. Arculus, R., Delong, S., Kay, R.W., Brooks, C., and Sun, S., 1977, The Alkalic Rock Suite of Bogoslof Island, Eastern Aleutian Arc, Alaska: Journal of Geology, v. 85, p. 177-186.

Byers, F.M., 1959, Geology of Umnak and Bogoslof Islands, Alaska: USGS Bulletin 1028-L.

Jaggar, T., 1930, Recent Activity of Bogoslof Volcano: The Volcano Letter, no. 275, p. 1-3.

Geologic Background. Bogoslof is the emergent summit of a submarine volcano that lies 40 km north of the main Aleutian arc. It rises 1500 m above the Bering Sea floor. Repeated construction and destruction of lava domes at different locations during historical time has greatly modified the appearance of this "Jack-in-the-Box" volcano and has introduced a confusing nomenclature applied during frequent visits of exploring expeditions. The present triangular-shaped, 0.75 x 2 km island consists of remnants of lava domes emplaced from 1796 to 1992. Castle Rock (Old Bogoslof) is a steep-sided pinnacle that is a remnant of a spine from the 1796 eruption. Fire Island (New Bogoslof), a small island located about 600 m NW of Bogoslof Island, is a remnant of a lava dome that was formed in 1883.

Information Contacts: AVO; J. Reeder, ADGGS.


Copahue (Chile-Argentina) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Copahue

Chile-Argentina

37.856°S, 71.183°W; summit elev. 2953 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small explosions and mudflows; strong sulfur odors

A series of explosions started [at Copahue (figure 1)] on 31 July at about 0900 and continued until 1133 [all times are Chile local time]. Photographs taken 10 km NE of the volcano (at Los Copahues thermal springs, Argentina) show small, cauliflower-shaped columns emerging from the E (Del Agrio) crater. Ash clouds were rapidly dispersed by SW winds, and a strong sulfur smell was noted in the area. Renewed explosions began at around 1800 and continued until about 0300 the next morning, also producing ash columns and a sulfur smell. Earthquakes had begun to be felt in the area on 30 July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Schematic view of the Copahue complex, showing the position of the historically active summit crater with respect to the Del Agrio and Trapa-Trapa calderas. Adapted from a map by O. González-Ferrán.

Hugo Moreno overflew the summit on 1 August at 1700. Solfataric activity was intense in the E crater, and snow had melted on the inner crater walls and rim. Pyroclastic-fall deposits covered ~ 1.5 km2 of the upper NE flank, and light ashfall extended 4-5 km NE. The bottom of the active crater had previously been filled by a green, highly sulfuric, acid lake (pH about 1.5), which appeared to be covered by a grayish, cracked ash blanket. Small debris-flow deposits could be seen for 3-4 km along Del Agrio stream, which drains the crater lake through a small notch in the E rim.

An explosion occurred on 2 August at 0330, and fine lapilli-fall (2-16 mm diameter) was reported 30 minutes later at Caviahue village, 15 km SE of the volcano, where hotels were filled with tourists. Small phreatic explosions occurred at 15-minute intervals during the morning. Field observations by Daniel Delpino revealed that lapilli-sized pumice to 7 mm in diameter had fallen on the volcano's snow-covered flanks. About 90% of the ejecta were accessory fragments, including rounded sulfur-rich vesicular particles. Only ~ 10% were believed to be juvenile. Four small debris flows were identified, one toward the E (Del Agrio stream), the other three toward the S (into Chile). These coalesced into one flow that turned SW along the Lomín river, which flows into one of Chile's major rivers, the Bíobío. The debris-flow deposits were a mixture of snow, ice, and pyroclastic material up to 1 m deep. Earthquakes were felt for the first time at Caviahue on 2 August between 2230 and 2245, when three had intensities of about MM II-III. An intense sulfur smell was noted throughout the area within the Del Agrio caldera that contains Caviahue and several lakes.

Some of the 300 tourists at a hotel in Caviahue suffered from headaches, and they were advised to leave the area. A 20-km restricted zone around the volcano was recommended by Hugo Moreno. Additional visitors were prevented from entering the Caviahue area. There are few towns near the volcano in Chile. Guallalí is 20 km SW and Trapatrapa is 17 km NW, but many houses and small settlements are distributed along the Lomín/Bíobío and Queco rivers. The Chilean electricity enterprise (ENDESA) was warned of potential hazards because the Pangue and Ralco hydroelectric projects have camps along the Bíobío river, 45 and 35 km from the volcano, respectively.

Univ de la Frontera seismologists installed two MEQ-800 seismic stations at the E foot of the volcano on 5 August, one 9 km from the active crater (near Caviahue), the other 18 km away (in Cajón Chico). During the first 8 hours, 150 harmonic tremor events were recorded (figure 2), with frequencies of 0.9-1.3 Hz. The next day, 815 events were recorded, including a 2.5-minute long-period earthquake at 1858 associated with a phreatomagmatic explosion that generated a mushroom-shaped column 700 m high. Strong winds rapidly carried the column NE, leaving a dark-gray deposit on the recent NE-flank snowfall. No eruptive activity had been reported since the 2 August explosion, but bad weather had obscured the volcano until 30 minutes before the 6 August ash ejection.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Number of tremor episodes per hour recorded by a seismic station (Caviahue), 9 km from the active crater at Copahue, 5-9 August 1992. Courtesy of the SAVO seismological team.

Daniel Delpino, Luís Mas, and Hugo Moreno overflew the volcano by helicopter during the late morning of 7 August. An elliptical airfall deposit 11 km long and 2 km wide covered the NE flank. Several secondary, gravitationally generated, flows had occurred on steep unstable talus slopes near the crater. Ballistic blocks had produced numerous impact craters to ~ 1 m in diameter in this area. Moderate fumarolic activity was occurring in the crater. S of the v-shaped notch in the crater rim, very narrow red-brownish mudflows, probably overflows of muddy crater-lake water, extended no more than 150 m. The geologists landed ~ 2.5 km NE of the crater near the tephra-dispersion axis. The dominant airfall material was accretionary lapilli 0.3-1 cm in diameter, composed of very fine sulfur-rich dust spherulites. Most of the remainder of the deposit was also accessory material, including angular volcanic lithic fragments up to 3 cm across. Small globular to ribbon-shaped vesicular glassy fragments were also found, and were interpreted as juvenile hydroclastites. A new, less-voluminous debris-flow deposit had been emplaced along the Del Agrio stream, on top of the earlier deposit. Pale-brown muddy material extended about 200 m beyond the previous flow front, ~ 4.2 km from the crater. Another overflight late on 8 August showed small fumaroles in Del Agrio crater, but no other visible activity within the 2-km-long, ENE-WSW row of summit craters, or elsewhere outside of the Termas de Copahue area.

Seismicity declined after the 6 August explosion, remaining at low levels until tremor began to increase on 9 August at 0230. Between 0330 and 1230, 176 episodes of harmonic tremor were recorded, and 5 high-frequency events were detected during the same period. A 2.9-minute long-period earthquake occurred at 1057, probably marking a phreatic or phreatomagmatic explosion. However, the volcano was obscured by weather clouds, and the explosion could not be confirmed.

O. González-Ferrán visited the volcano on 12-13 August, with the support of the Chilean Air Force. The source of the explosions was a new vent, 100 m in diameter at the rim and 30 m across at the base, on the outer SW flank of the active crater (figure 3). Ash deposits evident during his fieldwork extended ENE and SE, to maximum distances of 4 and 6 km, respectively. Partial melting of the glacier, 5-40 m thick, that covers the older inactive summit craters and the SSW flank, had generated at least three jökulhlaups and a small lahar that extended ~ 6 km down the S flank toward the Lomín/Bíobío river system. An ~ 60-m-long fracture (f on figure 3) below the outflow of the crater lake was the source of another small mudflow that descended the Del Agrio river toward Del Agrio lake. The crater lake, ~ 300 m in diameter with 5-6 x 105 m3 of acid water, continues to drain to the E at 2,716 m altitude. Lake level had dropped 8-10 m since the previous visit by González-Ferrán in 1990. Solfataras were active on the crater's S interior wall, and fresh landslides were visible on the SE interior wall. The glacier's headwall, 30-50 m high, is 80 m above the lake, and is the lake's main source of water.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Sketch of the summit area (top) and locations of 1992 eruption deposits (bottom) at Copahue, 13 August 1992. The 60-m fracture that spawned a small mudflow in the Del Agrio river is marked with an "f". The approximate area shown by the summit-area sketch is enclosed by a box on the bottom drawing. Courtesy of O. González-Ferrán.

Small earthquakes at 3.7 and 6.3 km depth were recorded at 0222 and 0226 on 14 August. A light-gray gas cloud extending 10 km SE from Del Agrio crater was seen at 0700. Daniel Delpino, Alberto Andolino, and Mario Deza reported strong effervescence and waves on the crater lake, which also showed strong fumarolic activity, at 1500. An explosion signal lasting 10 seconds was recorded at 1731. Four minutes later, a dense, light-gray gas cloud with dimensions of about 2 x 0.6 x 0.5 km descended ~ 4 km ESE, remaining there until about 0615 the next morning. A series of explosions and a strong increase in tremor, to 30-40 episodes/hour, began at 2100 on 14 August. During the night, the entire volcano was covered by a gaseous fog. Tremor activity was lower on 15 August, with about 20-25 episodes per hour between 0700 and 1700. Earthquakes were recorded at Caviahue at 0538, 0558, and 0645.

Geologic Background. Volcán Copahue is an elongated composite cone constructed along the Chile-Argentina border within the 6.5 x 8.5 km wide Trapa-Trapa caldera that formed between 0.6 and 0.4 million years ago near the NW margin of the 20 x 15 km Pliocene Caviahue (Del Agrio) caldera. The eastern summit crater, part of a 2-km-long, ENE-WSW line of nine craters, contains a briny, acidic 300-m-wide crater lake (also referred to as El Agrio or Del Agrio) and displays intense fumarolic activity. Acidic hot springs occur below the eastern outlet of the crater lake, contributing to the acidity of the Río Agrio, and another geothermal zone is located within Caviahue caldera about 7 km NE of the summit. Infrequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions from the crater lake have ejected pyroclastic rocks and chilled liquid sulfur fragments.

Information Contacts: D. Delpino, A. Bermudez, and M. Pérez, Dirección Provincial de Minería, Zapala, Argentina; H. Moreno, SERNAGEOMIN-SAVO, Temuco, Chile; G. Fuentealba and J. Cayupi, SAVO-Univ de la Frontera, Temuco, Chile; Oscar González-Ferrán, Univ de Chile.


Etna (Italy) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued lava production from SE-flank fissure; lava diversion summarized

The following, from R. Romano, describes activity from early July through early August.

Early July-early August activity. The eruption ... was continuing after ~ 8 months. Gas emission from the upper part of the fissure has greatly diminished lately, although abundant white vapor was often observed, probably because of weather conditions. Fieldwork on 5 August revealed no notable changes in effusive activity from previous months. The lava flow was visible through a skylight at the beginning of the main lava channel (at 2,205 m asl) and through two smaller skylights at 2,100 m altitude. From there to ~ 1,800 m, lava flowed through a complex system of tubes, resurfacing from numerous ephemeral vents that varied in number (generally about 10) and location (mainly in the center of the lava field). From these ephemeral vents (all between 1,800 and 1,700 m elevation) very modest lava flows emerged. These advanced a few hundred meters at most, never moved past 1,600 m altitude, and remained within the pre-existing lava field. The total volume of lava produced by 234 days of activity was estimated at 170 x 106 m3.

No significant changes were observed at the central craters, where gas emission continued. The more active vent in early August was at the W crater (Bocca Nuova). Northeast Crater has remained obstructed for a few months, with only weak fumarolic activity on the inner walls. Internal collapses continued to occur. Gas emission from Southeast Crater was unchanged.

Seismic activity was low, with only 22 recorded events from early July through early August. The majority of the seismicity was characterized by swarm sequences in the summit area. The most significant, on 11 August, consisted of four shocks with a maximum magnitude of 2.5. Harmonic tremor was of very low energy and showed no variation over time.

The following is from a report by L. Villari.

Civil Protection problems and lava diversion. An earthen barrier was erected at the E end of Val Calanna by the beginning of January 1992, to prevent or delay the advance of lava into a narrow valley leading directly to the nearby (~ 2 km downslope) village of Zafferana Etnea (17:02). Lava expanded into the large Val Calanna basin in February and March, and began to accumulate against the inner wall of the barrier on 14 March. By the end of the month, lava almost completely filled the Val Calanna basin and rose slowly up the barrier's inner wall. Several lobes successively reached the barrier, and the lava field progressively grew and thickened, reaching the barrier rim by 7 April. Lava first overflowed the barrier, along its N sector, during the evening of 8 April, quickly followed by other lobes along the S and central part of the barrier's rim. Lava covered ~ 1 km during the first few hours, merging downslope into a single stream that advanced quickly toward the village. The flow's confinement in a narrow valley favored more rapid progress downslope. Three minor earthen barriers were rapidly constructed along the valley (10-11 April, 830 m asl, 110 m long, 12 m high; 11-12 April, 810 m asl, 90 m long, 6 m high; 13-14 April, 770 m asl, 160 m long, 12 m high) to slow the advancing flow. The barriers were built, like the major one at the E end of Val Calanna, by digging the valley bottom in front of the advancing flow and accumulating the loose material on a small natural scarp. Because the valley is narrow, the confined basins were only able to contain small volumes of lava, and the flow's advance was only briefly delayed (for hours to a day). The front reached <1 km from Zafferana (at Piano dell'Acqua) on 16 April, ~1.5 km from the major barrier and 8 km from the eruptive fissure (figure 53).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Sketch map of the 1991-92 lava field at Etna. 1. 1991-92 eruptive fissure; 2. 1989 fracture system; 3. 1991-92 lava flows; 4. lava flows downslope from the barrier at the E end of Val Calanna; 5. lava flows fed by the diversion. Dots mark individual houses in the Zafferana and Milo areas. Courtesy of L. Villari.

At that time, morphologic conditions prevented any other local intervention to slow the lava advance. The creation of any possible artificial obstacle to the advancing front would divert the flow toward inhabited areas not necessarily threatened by the natural flow path. Diversion efforts were therefore concentrated far upslope, near the eruptive vent.

Attention was primarily on a skylight in the main lava tube at ~ 2,000 m altitude on the W wall of the Valle del Bove, a few hundred meters from the active vent. The diversion's early focus was blockage of the main tube carrying lava to the active front, by sliding solid rocks and concrete blocks into the flowing lava. Access problems required transport of solid materials to the site by helicopter, to be directly unloaded into the lava stream, or accumulated around the skylight's rim for later use. Lava tube blockage was also assisted by blasting large volumes of solid lava and welded scoriae forming the flow levees. This was partially successful and contributed to slowing the advance of the active front by several days.

Despite these efforts, on 5 May, a major new flow emerged from Val Calanna atop the 10 April flow, reaching Piano dell'Acqua on 11 May, 120 m beyond the 16 April flow and ~ 500 m from the outskirts of Zafferana. On 22 May, a further attempt to divert lava from the main natural tube to an artificially excavated channel high in the Valle del Bove produced a vigorous lobe that traveled 1 km in a few hours. Only 1/3 of the lava was spilled into the artificial channel, and the new flow roofed over within two days, with a significant loss of supply from the main natural flow.

A four-phase intervention plan was then defined (figure 54): a) digging an artificial channel to drain the main natural tube; b) cutting the lateral tube wall to a minimum thickness (2-3 m) that could be blasted through with a single charge; c) blasting the lateral wall; d) blocking the natural tube to divert all of the lava into the artificial channel.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. Sketch of the lava diversion carried out at Etna, 27 May 1992. Courtesy of L. Villari.

Phases a and b were accomplished in about a week. A 7-ton charge, set off in a single explosion on 27 May at 1636, opened a large breach in the natural tube and caused spillage of ~ 80% of the flowing lava. The natural tube was progressively blocked by sliding solid materials into it during the next two days, and the flow was totally diverted into the artificial channel by 29 May. The artificially channeled flow went down the W slope of the Valle del Bove and remained confined inside the valley. The diversion effort stopped the most advanced front that had been moving toward Zafferana, by removing its source of supply.

The artificially channeled lava flow had extended to 1,550 m asl in the S part of the Valle del Bove (at Piano del Trifoglietto) by 30 May. Lava output from the ephemeral vents in Val Calanna quickly decreased, and molten lava was not evident within a few days.

The effusion rate from the eruptive fissure decreased sharply 31 May-1 June, causing the active flow front to be confined within the Valle del Bove, as activity resumed in the central craters. Several hours of continuous ash emission occurred from the W crater (Bocca Nuova) on 31 May, and an incandescent blowhole formed in the E crater (La Voragine) following gas blasts on 1 June. Noisy gas emission continued from La Voragine in succeeding days.

During June, lava flowing in the artificial channel expanded within the Valle del Bove to ~ 1,650 m elevation, overlapping the lava field that had formed since January. The effusion rate was reduced ~ 50% by the end of June, and the upper part of the artificial channel became a tube. The longest flow did not extend more than 1.5 km from the diversion point at 2,000 m altitude. At the end of June, the newly generated lava field, overlapping the old one, covered ~ 0.8 km2.

Northeast Crater. Repeated inner-wall collapses have been observed in Northeast Crater since February. They became quasi-continuous from 26 February through mid-March, associated with explosive activity that ejected blocks and caused a little fine reddish ashfall. From the end of March until 23 May, the collapses were limited to episodes lasting only several hours each, associated with only minor fine ashfall. The crater bottom dropped ~70 m, leaving a pit ~100 m across in place of the previous funnel-shaped depression.

Lava flow measurements. Lava-channel dimensions, flow velocity, and related rheological parameters were observed at a skylight along the lava tube at 2,000 m altitude, and at ephemeral vents in the Val Calanna area, 7 km downstream at 1,000 m elevation. Flow velocities at the exit of the lava tube (~ 4-5 m wide and 5 m deep) in May and the beginning of June were 0.5-1 m/s; flow rates and viscosities were 15-25 m3/s and 100-300 Pas. At the ephemeral vents and the single-channeled flows (1-4 m wide and 1-2.5 m deep), March-May flow velocities were 0.1-0.3 m/s. The calculated flow rate ranged from 0.1 to 4 m3/s, with a corresponding viscosity of 150-1,300 Pas. (See the report by Murray, below, for velocities and flow rates from late June through mid-July).

Direct measurements in June along the main channel (10-40 cm below the lava surface) at 2,000 m altitude, using an immersion thermocouple (Pt-PtRh) yielded temperatures of 1,053-1,068°C. Values were similar (1,030-1,068°C) at several ephemeral vents (10-60 cm inside the lava flow) in the Val Calanna area from March until the end of May.

Petrography and chemistry. Analysis of lava sampled near the vent and at the flow fronts showed no significant variations in chemical or petrologic composition (17:02). All are porphyritic hawaiites (Mg## 52-54), with phenocrysts of plagioclase (15-25 volume %), clinopyroxene (7-10%), olivine (2-3%) and minor (~ 1%) Ti-magnetite.

Seismicity. Low-level seismic activity characterized February-June, despite the continuing eruption. The daily rate was quite low, with only 24 fault-derived earthquakes of M >1 recorded during the period, a rather low value for Etna. No variations were evident in the daily rate or the cumulative strain release (figure 55). Most of the recorded shocks were centered on the SE flank. Maximum local magnitude was 2.8. There were no significant changes in the pattern of volcanic tremor amplitude. Two short episodes of increasing amplitude, on 31 May and 1 June, had maximum overall amplitudes slightly lower than during the December 1991 eruptive phase.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Daily number of seismic events (M >1) and cumulative seismic strain release recorded at Etna, December 1991-June 1992. Courtesy of L. Villari.

From 26 February until May, seismic stations on the upper flanks recorded many shocks characterized by an emergent onset and low frequency content. At least three waveform types were recognized. All of the shocks were located near the summit craters at <1 km depth. At the same time, morphologic changes were noted within Northeast Crater, associated with the emission of non-juvenile tephra. Most of these shocks were believed to be linked to rockfalls within Northeast Crater. Some explosion shocks were recorded during the same period. These phenomena were most common in February and March, then gradually decreased, disappearing entirely by 23 May.

Ground deformation. Continuous monitoring of ground tilt in a shallow borehole network showed only minor variations since the eruption began in December 1991. No sign of the expected deflation of the volcano was noted, despite the large volume of magma that has been erupted.

EDM networks on the S, SW, and NE flanks, previously surveyed in 1991, several months before the eruption began, were re-measured in late spring and early summer. Contraction was observed, mostly on the SW and NE flanks, while the S flank did not show any appreciable change in line length. The overall deformation pattern of the volcano appears consistent with shallow magma injection into the eruptive fissure, trending roughly NNW-SSE (figure 56). GPS surveys in April-May 1992 detected significant contraction of lines, mostly on the W flank, compared to previous surveys in June-July 1991 (figure 57).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Cumulative areal dilation measured at 3 EDM networks on the flanks of Etna, 1981-92. Courtesy of L. Villari.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Variations in slope distance between GPS measurements at Etna in 1991 and 1992. Heavy lines show contraction, dashed lines show extension. Courtesy of L. Villari.

The following, from J.B. Murray, describes eruptive activity and the results of deformation studies, 9 June-14 July.

Lava flows. The rate of lava production from the vent in the W wall of the Valle del Bove was much lower than in April. Active flows were visited on 28 June, and 7, 10, 12, and 13 July. Central flow speeds of 2-10 m/minute (depending on slope), widths of 1.5-6 m, and a rate estimated at around 0.3-0.4 m3/s were noted at a single flow on 28 June. A flow about twice as big was seen to the E, suggesting a total discharge of the order of 1 m3/s. Flow fronts were only advancing to ~ 1.2 km from the vent on 28 June, but discharge seemed slightly increased during July visits to the fronts, which were about 2.2 km from the vent on 7 July, and 2.6 km by 13 July.

Summit activity. Continued collapse was occurring around the edge of Northeast Crater, with rockfalls every few minutes or so. Particularly big collapses were seen on 8 July between 1556 and 1610. Southeast Crater had strong high-temperature fumaroles, but no Strombolian activity.

The floors of the two central craters both had single vents that continuously discharged hot gas without any explosions. The vent in La Voragine was ~3 x 10 m, glowed bright red in daylight, and beginning 10 June emitted gas in voluminous puffs from which radiant heat could be felt. There were no signs of fresh bombs or scoriae around the vent. The depth of Bocca Nuova was estimated at ~160 ± 20 m.

Vertical movement. A 25-km levelling traverse, and heights derived from trigonometric levelling during trilateration, yielded details of vertical displacement of 241 stations across the summit and upper flanks since September 1991. Subsidence occurred along a narrow strip extending SSE from the summit, with maximum movements reaching just over 1 m (at two stations between Cisternazza and Belvedere). This central strip is flanked by a swelling to the W of 3-7 cm, and a much larger swelling to the E that reaches 37 cm (at Serra Giannicola Piccola). Southeast Crater has dropped 87 cm and Northeast Crater 48 cm, and the NE rift has risen another 3.4 cm (near Monte Pizzillo). These movements are similar to displacements seen over eruptive dikes in 1989, 1986, 1985, and 1983, but the swelling to the E is higher and broader than any previously recorded.

Horizontal movement. The summit trilateration network shows E-W extensions of 1-1.5 m since September 1991 across the graben and fissures leading S to the eruption site. It is clear that the main feeder dike passes between the Torre del Filosofo and Belvedere, and probably crosses into the Valle del Bove just E of Cisternazza (figure 53). Movements of this magnitude are not unusual during Etna's flank eruptions, and are similar to those recorded during the four eruptions mentioned above.

After network adjustment, some individual station vectors showed unexpected movements. Many of the stations E of the summit also show large eastward displacements, with two (near the Serra Giannicola Piccola) showing 1.3 m of eastward movement, and much of the Valle del Leone having moved 0.5 m ENE. The region at the top of the valley's E wall is cut by new N-S fissures, and SE of Southeast Crater is a region of complex fissuring N of a new cinder cone.

Dry-tilt data. Results from the 30 dry-tilt stations confirm that this eruption is a major one among recent eruptions. In addition to the expected large tilts near the eruptive fissures (192 µrad near Cisternazza), unusually large post-September 1991 tilts of 115 and 92 µrad occurred ~ 4 and 5 km SW of the summit (at Monte Palestra and Monte Vituddi). Unexpectedly large tilts were also recorded ~ 7 km NW and 4.5 km WNW of the summit (at Monte Maletto and Monte Nunziata), and both the Punta Lucia and Pizzi Deneri stations have abruptly increased their tilt to the E, as after the 1981 eruption.

The observed dry tilts are exceptional and suggest that something fairly fundamental has occurred. Only the 1981 eruption had tilts of this size at distant stations. That eruption marked a major turning point in Etna's deformation. After 1981, five stations that had previously been stable, even during flank eruptions, tilted during the next few years by amounts that eventually totalled as much as 1,000 µrad.

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

Information Contacts: L. Villari, R. Romano, and T. Caltabiano, IIV; P. Carveni, M. Grasso, and C. Monaco, Univ di Catania; G. Luongo, OV; J. Murray, Open Univ.


Galeras (Colombia) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Galeras

Colombia

1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


More details of 16 July explosion; previous activity summarized

Most of the 1991 summit lava dome was ejected by an explosion on 16 July. The following summarizes activity since 1989 and provides additional detail about the July explosion.

Previous activity, 1989 to mid-1992. Increased fumarolic activity accompanied by minor ash emission and seismicity began in February 1989. Emission of ash that consisted of lithic fragments and some crystals occurred in early May. The ash was dispersed toward the SW, N, and E (onto Pasto. . .). The minimum volume of the ashfall was estimated at 4 x 105 m3. Fumarolic activity continued for the rest of 1989. In 1990, small to moderate ash emissions were associated with long-period earthquakes and tremor pulses. Blocks to 15 cm in diameter were deposited around the crater by a small explosion on 2 August 1990. Another explosion on 25 November produced small quantities of juvenile glass. The finest ash was deposited on Pasto, producing a thin, discontinuous cover <1 mm thick. Ash emissions were frequent during the next 12 months, associated with long-period signals and tremor episodes that increased in number and size through November 1991 (figures 56 and 57).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Daily number (top), energy release (middle), and reduced displacement (bottom) of long-period seismic events at Galeras, January 1991-July 1992. Courtesy of INGEOMINAS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Daily number (top), energy release (middle), and reduced displacement (bottom) of tremor pulses at Galeras, January 1991-July 1992. Courtesy of INGEOMINAS.

Fumarole temperatures reached 738°C in September 1990 and January 1991. Incandescence at vents was associated with an increase in gas emission and magmatic intrusion in June 1991. Long-period seismicity and tremor increased in July, coinciding with a strong increase in deformation rates measured by electronic tiltmeters near the crater (figure 58). Magma rose toward the surface, emerging as a dome in the bottom of the crater in October and November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Deformation measured at electronic tiltmeters (Crater and Peladitos) 0.9 NE and 1.5 SE, respectively, of the crater at Galeras, January 1991-July 1992. Courtesy of INGEOMINAS.

Seismicity was generally declining at the beginning of December 1991 with the exception of minor high-frequency activity. Electronic tiltmeters were stable, and gas emissions became less frequent with less ash content. Some tremor signals with durations of 18-33 minutes and dominant periods of 1 and 0.2 seconds were recorded in April and May 1992. These signals were analogous to those in the second half of 1991, associated with dome formation.

Seismicity and deformation, early July 1992. Long-period seismicity decreased gradually as the number of tremor pulses increased during the first 15 days of July. A moderate number of high-energy tremor pulses occurred 11-12 July. Six monochromatic long-period (1.54 Hz) events lasting about 80 seconds were recorded 14-16 July. On 15 July, a small swarm of ~18 high-frequency earthquakes had magnitudes of up to 0.5. Deformation rates were low (~1 µrad/day) compared to those of October and December 1991. Cumulative deformation was ~5 µrad, occurring as successive waves at the tiltmeter (Crater) 0.9 km E of the crater.

16 July explosion. The explosion at 1640 on 16 July destroyed >90% of the dome at the bottom of the crater. Fragments of various sizes were ejected ballistically. Blocks 30-40 cm in diameter fell as much as 2.3 km away; some to 1 m in diameter reached 1.3 km distance, falling on a road where they made impact craters 3 m across and 1 m deep; fragments 3.5 m across were found 400 m from the crater rim; and on the E edge of the caldera, 169 projectiles were counted in an area ~10 m wide and 1,000 m long. Incandescent blocks started forest fires on the NE flank, 2.3 km from the crater.

The dark-gray eruption column with turbulent, cauliflower-like edges rose ~4 km. Ash was dispersed mainly to the W and had a calculated minimum volume of 5.7 x 104 m3. Blocks, with a minimum volume of 2.2 x 104 m3, were concentrated toward the E and NE. The temperatures of block surfaces were ~290°C, and of the pyroclastic deposits around the crater, ~230°C.

Seismographs registered a 6-minute signal that began at 1640:32, saturating instruments for the initial 37 seconds. Two distinct elements were noted. The first had a frequency of 0.5 Hz and a duration magnitude of 3, and the second was a 1.3 Hz tremor event that lasted 4 minutes.

A strong accompanying explosive sound was heard at 5.5 km distance (in Genoy), and in parts of Pasto 9 km away. A relatively weak expansion wave broke some glass 9 km away, in the corregimiento (magistracy) of Nariño.

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: J. Romero, INGEOMINAS-Observatorio Vulcanológico del Sur.


Irazu (Costa Rica) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Irazu

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued thermal activity and seismicity; crater lake rises

The level of the turquoise-green crater lake continued to rise. The subaqueous fumaroles on the lake's N and SE sides remained active, but fumarolic activity on the N and NW sides of the crater has diminished considerably. The seismic station (IRZ2) 5 km WSW of the main crater registered 33 low-frequency events in July, about the same number as in June. On 9 July at 0627, a M 2.5 earthquake occurred 6.6 km SE of the main crater at 5 km depth.

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: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI.


Kilauea (United States) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava flows south from East-rift vents

Lava production . . . was continuous for most of July, pausing for a few days on the 22nd. The lava pond perched next to the E-51 spatter cones drained in early July, and a thick crust formed on its surface. The pond remained inactive for the rest of the month, as lava from the E-51 vent bypassed it through a lava tube to the S. Lava flows emerged from a tube at the base of the E-51 shield, building a sizeable secondary shield there. Flows moving SE entered the forest on 9 July just E of the 1986 flow, advanced along a front 500 m wide (figure 85), and reached the steepest portion of the S-facing fault scarp (pali) on 20 July.

The number of microearthquakes beneath the summit and East rift generally remained low, but 275 shallow, long-period (B-type, 1-3 Hz) events were recorded on 22 July. That day, observers reported a decline in activity at the vent, and the tube system slowly drained. By 23 July, the terminus of the new flow was stagnant.

A gradual increase in tremor amplitude to about twice background level began early on 27 July. Lava returned to the tube system during the day, breaking out at the base of the E-51 shield, where flows ponded before spreading in all directions. On 30 July, more flows emerged from the tube system S of the ponded area and advanced S, reaching the forest in the national park on 3 August.

The lava lake in Pu`u `O`o crater was active throughout July. Its surface fluctuated between 45 and 70 m below the crater rim. Upwelling was constant in the uprift portion of the lava lake, while degassing and spattering was most vigorous on the lake's downrift edge.

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) — July 1992 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)


Explosive activity and small lava flow

"Weak-to-moderate eruptive activity continued in July. Lava effusion at Crater 3 from 25 to 27 July or longer was associated with increased explosive activity late in the month.

"Activity at Crater 2 was at a low level 1-19 July with emissions of weak white vapour, occasionally blue or containing ash. A weak explosion probably associated with Crater 2 was heard on 1 July. There was no night glow during this period. Crater 2 was more active from 20 July until the end of the month. Loud-to-low rumbling noises and explosions were heard, accompanied by emissions of weak-to-moderate, occasionally thick, grey ash clouds. Weak night glow was observed from 20 July onward.

"Activity at Crater 3 was also low for most of the month, punctuated by occasional forceful emissions of grey-to-brown ash clouds, sometimes reaching more than 1 km above the summit. Activity increased to a moderate level from 25 July with audible explosive activity, night glow from the summit crater, and emission of a lava flow on the cone's N slope. The summit was obscured by clouds from 25 July and it was not clear whether the flow was still active. The explosion noises that started on 25 July continued until the end of the month. Light ashfalls ~10 km downwind from the volcano were noted on 5 and 22 July. Seismic activity was at a low level throughout the month despite the increase in visual activity."

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 and C. McKee, RVO.


Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — July 1992 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)


Fluid lava from summit-crater vents; gas and temperature data

During a 24-hour visit to the crater on 16-17 July by members of Geo-découverte and SVG, no lava emission was observed. However, the brownish color of some small lava flows from hornito T20 (figure 25) suggested that they were very recent. Magma was seen bubbling and splashing from small conduits in the bottom of T20, 3 m below the rim. During the night, a faint dull-red glow from the lava was visible. The level of the activity was irregular; sometimes the inner bottom of T20 was partially covered by lava, while at other times splashing noises could be heard but no lava was visible. Continuous vapor emission occurred only from the biggest (T5/T9) of the six hornitos on the crater floor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Sketch from an oblique airphoto taken 24 July 1992, looking N across Ol Doinyo Lengai's crater. Fresh lava is shown emerging from hornito T20. The former feature T11 is no longer visible. Courtesy of F. LeGuern.

Geologists sampled thermal features in the crater and conducted three overflights during the following week. Temperatures of 70-170°C were recorded in the hornitos on the crater floor, and reached 70-90°C under the solid crust of sulfur sublimates on the N rim. The 170°C maximum temperature was measured at hornito T15, where an iron tube was inserted. Gas was collected, at a temperature of 145°C inside the tube. A caustic soda bottle was used to sample H2O, CO2, total sulfur, chlorine, fluorine, and non-condensable gases. Samples were also taken containing AgNO3 and NH3 for sulfur species determination, and others for analyses of dry gases, inert gases, and isotopes. Impregnated and carbon-coated filters were used for collection within the plume and of sublimates on the ground. Fresh and older lava from the active hornito were collected. Pictures and 16-mm movies were taken during the overflights (on 18, 21, and 24 July). A lava flow was observed extending N from the central active hornito on 24 July.

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: F. LeGuern, CNRS, France; M. Pennini, Istituto de Geocronologia, Italy; F. Emmi and L. Mansfeld, Etna Trekking, Italy; I. Munro, Executive Wilderness Prog, Nairobi; L. Cantamessa, Geo-découverte, Switzerland; F. Cruchon, S. Haefeli, W. Tribolet, and P. Vetsch, SVG, Switzerland.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — July 1992 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)


Weak ash emission and glow

"Activity during July remained at the low levels reported for the second half of June. There was weak fumarolic activity through most of July, with white and blue vapours emitted from Southern Crater and mostly white vapours from Main Crater. Weak grey ash from Southern Crater was observed on 22 July.

Weak fluctuating night glow from Southern Crater was seen 20-29 July, due to deep-seated explosive activity. There was no night glow from Main Crater during the month and no audible sounds from either crater. Seismic activity was at a low level throughout July. A slight increase was noted later in the month, probably related to the incandescence and explosive activity. No significant change has been recorded from the water-tube tiltmeter at the Observatory since the beginning of May."

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 and C. McKee, RVO.


Merapi (Indonesia) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Merapi

Indonesia

7.54°S, 110.446°E; summit elev. 2910 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Growing lava dome spawns avalanches; summit gas data

The volume of the lava dome at the end of July was calculated at ~10.5 x 106 m3, of which 2.8 x 106 m3 were pyroclastic-flow and avalanche deposits. Glow from rockfalls tended to become less bright in late July, but the distance traveled by avalanches remained relatively constant, at up to 1,500 m (to the WNW). Gases at the Gendol solfatara field, in the S part of the summit crater, were sampled for analysis (table 6).

Table 6.Gas concentrations (in volume %) and temperatures (in °C) measured at Merapi's Gendol solfatara field, May-December 1992. Courtesy of S. Bronto.

Gas 06 May 27 Jun 09 Jul 23 Jul 08 Sep 22 Oct 03 Dec
H2 0.63 1.19 1.33 1.72 1.03 1.09 0.91
O2+Ar 0.015 0.05 0.09 3.05 0.04 0.02 0.005
N2 0.11 0.27 0.77 28.23 0.27 0.15 0.23
CO 0.03 0.04 0.06 0.09 0.05 0.05 0.06
CO2 4.57 8.48 11.17 29.09 4.46 3.21 4.48
SO2 0.79 1.57 1.77 10.86 0.71 2.20 0.95
H2S 0.44 1.35 1.10 1.66 0.32 0.40 1.08
HCl 0.11 0.29 0.42 6.37 0.17 0.40 0.51
H2O 93.31 86.76 83.29 18.95 92.96 92.18 91.76
Temp 802 818 820 813 816 807 824

Geologic Background. Merapi, one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, lies in one of the world's most densely populated areas and dominates the landscape immediately north of the major city of Yogyakarta. It is the youngest and southernmost of a volcanic chain extending NNW to Ungaran volcano. Growth of Old Merapi during the Pleistocene ended with major edifice collapse perhaps about 2000 years ago, leaving a large arcuate scarp cutting the eroded older Batulawang volcano. Subsequently growth of the steep-sided Young Merapi edifice, its upper part unvegetated due to frequent eruptive activity, began SW of the earlier collapse scarp. Pyroclastic flows and lahars accompanying growth and collapse of the steep-sided active summit lava dome have devastated cultivated lands on the western-to-southern flanks and caused many fatalities during historical time.

Information Contacts: S. Bronto, MVO.


Nyamuragira (DR Congo) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyamuragira

DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E; summit elev. 3058 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


NE-flank fissures continue to produce lava

The eruption . . . was continuing at the end of July 1992. A new vent (no. 19) opened during the night of 4-5 July (figure 12). For several days, the new vent ejected mainly ash and bombs without a significant lava flow, then was the source of intermittent fountaining until 15 July. Several hundred meters E of cone 19, another vent (no. 20) became active on 14 July, producing a voluminous lava flow for the first two days, and high lava fountains that rose 50 m on 21 July. Another new vent (no. 21) developed SE of cone 19 on 19 July, feeding a lava fountain that was visible 5 km away. The amplitude of microtremors remained high through July, suggesting to geologists that ascent of magma from a deep reservoir continued at a significant rate.

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: N. Zana, CRSN, Bukavu.


Pinatubo (Philippines) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Pinatubo

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued dome growth; officials warn of possible explosive eruption

The lava dome in the center of the caldera lake was continuing to grow as of mid-August. Periods of increased seismicity and decreased gas emission prompted an official warning of possible renewed explosive activity, but none had occurred at press time. Rain-induced lahars and secondary explosions from the pyroclastic-flow deposits continued with the ongoing rainy season.

By late July, the lava dome was 250 m across and 75 m high in the center of the 600 x 800 m crater lake. Lake depth was estimated at < 5 m. COSPEC measurements on 21 July indicated an SO2 emission rate of 900 ± 200 metric tons/day (t/d). Secondary explosions from the 1991 pyroclastic-flow deposits occurred daily, producing columns that sometimes reached 7.5 km altitude. Secondary pyroclastic flows were triggered in the Pasig-Potrero and Marella drainages. Daily lahars were filling channels below 100 m elevation. Seismicity was dominated by high-frequency events, but long-period events and tremor occurred roughly once a day in episodes that lasted up to an hour. Maximum tremor amplitude was 4-5 mm peak-to-peak.

A systematic increase in low-frequency seismicity started at the beginning of August. Earthquake counts reached 125 low-frequency and 41 high-frequency events during the 24 hours ending at 0600 on 10 August. A newly installed seismic station near the N rim of the caldera detected numerous signals reminiscent of those recorded at a similar site 3-4 days before the onset of the 1991 explosive eruption. SO2 emission dropped from 830 t/d on 3 August to 250 t/d on 6 August, and remained at relatively low levels. A similar decrease had occurred several days before the 1991 explosions. Because of these changes, PHIVOLCS warned of the threat of another explosive eruption within a week or less, but noted that explosions comparable to those of 15 June 1991 were not anticipated. People were strongly urged to avoid the official danger zone that extends in a 10-km radius from the crater. No population centers are within the danger zone, but about 2,000 people living nearby sought refuge in government evacuation centers.

An aerial survey on 10 August revealed additional growth of the dome, to about 300 m in diameter and 100 m high. Uplift of some 2 m had produced a beach about 30 m wide against the dome's N flank. By the next day the beach front was 50 m from the edge of the dome, and it had advanced an additional 5 m outward by 12 August. Gas rose to several hundred meters above the crater rim. The rate of SO2 emission had declined to about 200 t/d by 7 August and was about the same on 11 August.

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: PHIVOLCS; Reuters.


Poas (Costa Rica) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Poas

Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumarolic activity; frequent seismicity; crater lake fills

The crater lake continued to grow in July, covering some terraces on its SE side. Water temperature was 70°C and pH was 1.5. Fumarolic activity continued in the central and N parts of the crater. Sporadic bubbling occurred from some points in the SE and near the center of the crater. The seismic station (POA2) 2.7 km SW of the main crater registered an average of 170 low-frequency events per day in July, and a total of 18 medium- to high-frequency events classified as A-B because they had characteristics of both types. June values were slightly higher.

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: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSCIORI.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Rabaul

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased seismicity; largest monthly total since August 1988

"There was a marked increase in seismic activity . . . in July; 1,089 caldera earthquakes were recorded . . .. This is the highest monthly total since August 1988. Thirty of these earthquakes have been located, mainly in three distinct areas: the NE, NW, and S parts of the caldera seismic zone."

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

Information Contacts: B. Talai and C. McKee, RVO.


Spurr (United States) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Spurr

United States

61.299°N, 152.251°W; summit elev. 3374 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Brief but vigorous explosive activity; large cloud causes widespread light ashfall

A brief explosive eruption of Spurr occurred on 18 August, with little or no apparent precursory seismicity. Preliminary data suggested that the 18 August activity was similar to somewhat stronger than the previous explosive episode, on 27 June. The 27 June ash had been carried N, away from nearby populated areas, but the 18 August ash fell on Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, 130 km E of Spurr, closing its international airport and forcing most of its residents indoors.

The eruption was first reported at 1548 by an airplane pilot who saw a dark cloud, probably an ash plume, breaking through weather clouds. About 8 minutes of seismicity at slightly above background preceded the pilot report. No lightning pulses, which often accompany ash eruptions, were detected, but there were additional pilot reports of ash during the next half-hour. Seismicity increased markedly at 1641, and by 1645, NOAA C-band radar had detected a plume to almost 11 km altitude. The National Weather Service released a SIGMET, warning pilots of the ash plume, at 1653.

AVO personnel overflew the volcano about an hour after strong activity began. Dark ash engulfed the entire S portion of the edifice, suggesting that the source of the tephra was in the general vicinity of Crater Peak, the S-flank vent at ~2,300 m elevation that was the source of the 27 June explosive episode. The summit area was clear, but AVO geologists filmed violently roiling, turbulent pulses of black ash ascending through the weather cloud deck at ~2,400 m altitude. Large ballistic fragments were being thrown to 300 m above the cloud deck, and white, lenticular shock-wave clouds ringed the vent area. S of Crater Peak, ash ascended from a light-colored pyroclastic avalanche that had descended to ~900 m elevation (above the Chakachatna river valley). No evidence of flooding was observed, but ash and weather clouds prevented low-altitude flights down the valley. Although lightning apparently was not triggered by the 27 June eruption, 171 lightning strikes were recorded by the AVO detection system in the 1-hour period beginning at 1841 on 18 August. Seismicity began to decline at about 2000, and seismic data suggested that the main phase of the eruption was over at 2020.

The axis of ashfall extended ESE (across Cook Inlet, along Turnagain Arm, and over Prince William Sound) (figure 6). Pilots reported ash to about 18 km altitude, but radar and satellite data suggested that it reached a maximum of about 13.5 km altitude. Ashfall began to diminish at the nearby Beluga Power Plant at 2100. About 0.15-0.3 cm of ash fell on Anchorage between 2000 and 2300; similar amounts were reported from Valdez (300 km E) and Cordova (350 km ESE), where ashfall started at about 0145 and was continuing 4 hours later. Anchorage International Airport was closed at about 2020 and remained closed for much of 19 August, as cleanup efforts were hampered by wind redistribution of the ash. Flights were also halted to and from Elmendorf Air Force Base and Merrill Field (both in the Anchorage area) and Kenai Municipal Airport. A Notice to Airmen announced temporary flight restrictions within 50 km of Spurr, and advised extreme caution downwind of the restricted area. No aircraft encounters with the ash cloud were reported. Health officials warned Anchorage residents, especially those with respiratory problems, to remain indoors during the ashfall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Visible/infrared composite image from the NOAA-12 polar-orbiting weather satellite on 18 August at 1930, less than 3 hours after the onset of Spurr's explosive eruption. The ash cloud is illuminated by the sun, and casts a shadow to the NE. Ashfall began at Anchorage about 30 minutes later. Courtesy of G. Stephens.

Satellite images showed a large plume moving SE at roughly 70 km/hour after feeding from the volcano ended. By the early afternoon of 19 August, ash was observed at 9-10.5 km altitude from an aircraft near Juneau (about 1,000 km ESE of Spurr), and a diffuse ash layer was seen at 2-4.5 km. Very light ashfall was reported at Juneau. By 20 August, the plume had spread over Queen Charlotte Island and coastal British Columbia. Ash was seen at about 10 km altitude from an aircraft near the NW end of Vancouver Island, nearly 2000 km from Spurr. Early on 21 August, satellite imagery showed an arcuate NE-SW plume extending roughly 3500 km from about 55°N in central Saskatchewan across central Alberta, SW British Columbia, and into the Pacific Ocean, to about 38°N, 145°W, off the coast of N California.

Data from the Nimbus-7 satellite's Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer showed a cloud about 2000 km long, covering an area of 370,000 km2 and containing about 240 kilotons of SO2, on 19 August at 0251 (figure 7). Maximum SO2 values from the 27 June eruption were 185 kilotons (BGVN 17:06).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Image of the SO2 cloud from Spurr, as detected by the Nimbus-7 satellite's Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer on 19 August at 0251, about 10 hours after the onset of strong activity. Values of SO2 in each 50 x 50-km pixel are shown on a relative scale of 0-9, then upward through alphabetic characters with increasing concentration. Spurr is marked with a solid triangle. Courtesy of Gregg Bluth.

A steam plume containing a little ash rose about 2.5 km above the Crater Peak vent during an AVO overflight at 1145 on 19 August, and similar activity was observed by pilots during the afternoon. A swarm of about 12 volcanic earthquakes occurred between 1400 and 1415, and may have been associated with increased steaming. Seismic activity generally decreased slowly, but remained slightly above background during the night. The next day, AVO personnel observed a small steam plume rising less than 500 m above the Crater Peak vent, and minor steaming from the surface of a hot avalanche that had descended the SE flank. Seismicity continued to decline.

Geologic Background. The summit of Mount Spurr, the highest volcano of the Aleutain arc, is a large lava dome constructed at the center of a roughly 5-km-wide horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the south. The volcano lies 130 km W of Anchorage and NE of Chakachamna Lake. The caldera was formed by a late-Pleistocene or early Holocene debris avalanche and associated pyroclastic flows that destroyed an ancestral edifice. The debris avalanche traveled more than 25 km SE, and the resulting deposit contains blocks as large as 100 m in diameter. Several ice-carved post-caldera cones or lava domes lie in the center of the caldera. The youngest vent, Crater Peak, formed at the breached southern end of the caldera and has been the source of about 40 identified Holocene tephra layers. Spurr's two historical eruptions, from Crater Peak in 1953 and 1992, deposited ash on the city of Anchorage.

Information Contacts: AVO; G. Bluth, NASA GSFC; SAB, NOAA/NESDIS; G. Stephens, NOAA/NESDIS; N. Krull, FAA.


Turrialba (Costa Rica) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Turrialba

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fewer seismic events

The seismic station (VTU) 0.5 km E of the main crater recorded six low-frequency events in July, compared to 17 in June.

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: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI.


Unzendake (Japan) — July 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Unzendake

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Dome growth slows, but rockfalls and heavy rain trigger destructive pyroclastic and debris flows

The lava dome complex continued to grow through mid-August (table 9). Viscous lava did not continuously reach the surface, although magmatic intrusion caused some endogenous growth. Changes to the size of the dome complex were small, and the magma-supply rate has decreased to half of its peak of > 300,000 m3/day in late 1991-early 1992. A rough estimate of the late July-early August rate is 110,000-160,000 m3/day. Earthquakes had been frequent during periods of endogenous growth at the higher magma-supply rate, but recently there have been few seismic events in the absence of lava extrusion, implying that magma is no longer being continuously supplied to the dome complex.

Table 9. Chronology of eruptive events at Unzen, July 1990 to mid-August 1992. Courtesy of JMA.

Date Volcanic Activity
Jul 1990 Earthquakes and tremor episodes began.
17 Nov 1990 Phreatic ash eruption.
12 Feb 1991 Phreatic ash eruption resumed at Byobu-iwa crater.
Apr 1991 Phreatic eruptions at Jigoku-ato crater.
13 May 1991 Summit seismicity and deformation begin.
20 May 1991 Lava dome 1 emerged in Jigoku-ato crater.
24 May 1991 First pyroclastic flow observed.
03 Jun 1991 Large pyroclastic flow killing 43 people and damaging 179 houses; growth of lava dome 2 began shortly thereafter.
08 Jun 1991 Large pyroclastic flow, extending 5.5 km and damaging 207 houses.
11 Jun 1991 Explosion, producing block fall in inhabited areas.
30 Jun 1991 The largest debris flow, caused by heavy rainfall, damaging 202 houses.
11 Aug 1991 Summit seismicity began to increase.
12 Aug 1991 Ejection of incandescent blocks. Continuous ash emission. Sudden decrease in pyroclastic flows.
13 Aug 1991 Dome 3 recognized, W of dome 2.
25 Aug 1991 Beginning of pyroclastic flow activity into Oshiga valley.
31 Aug 1991 Evacuation from Senbongi area, NE of the summit.
06 Sep 1991 Summit seismicity began to increase.
15 Sep 1991 The largest pyroclastic flow, extending 5.5 km, damaged 218 houses.
16 Sep 1991 Peak of summit seismicity.
17 Sep 1991 Summit seismicity declined. New dome 4 recognized from the air.
24 Oct 1991 Summit seismicity began to increase.
25 Oct 1991 Dome inflation recognized from the air.
Nov 1991 Inflation of dome 4. Increase in summit seismicity, and decrease in pyroclastic flow activity.
late Nov 1991 Cryptodome 5 formed.
03 Dec 1991 Lava dome 6 began to emerge.
through Dec 1991 Continuous growth of dome 6. Pyroclastic flows to SE and ESE (Tansanui and Oshiga valleys).
late Dec 1991 Summit seismicity declined.
27 Dec 1991 Shimabara Railway traffic resumed.
29 Dec 1991 Summit seismicity resumed.
Jan 1992 High seismicity at summit. Pyroclastic flows to E and ESE.
02 Feb 1992 Large pyroclastic flow, extending 3 km; no damage.
12 Feb 1992 30-minute pyroclastic flow sequence triggered by partial collapse of dome 6. Many pyroclastic flows to the SE.
22 Apr 1992 Many pyroclastic flows to the SE.
08 Aug 1992 Many pyroclastic flows to the SE damage 17 houses; large debris flow damages 72 houses.
12-13 Aug 1992 Large debris flows destroy 55 houses.
15 Aug 1992 Debris flow destroys 40 houses.

Dome 7 (figure 44), which began to emerge in late March, grew exogenously in late July, creating petal and peel structures on its surface. A few days after dome 7 stopped growing, the axis of the petal structures was buried by material that collapsed from the dome above it, and its surface became reddish, implying that magma supply had nearly ceased.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Sketch of the dome complex at the summit of Unzen, 7 August 1992. A plug-like lava block surrounded by a circular fault was being slowly pushed eastward, as shown by the arrow on the plug. Arrows on the talus show the directions taken by rockfalls. Volcanic gases were emitted from dome 3 and along the buried fault. Courtesy of Setsuya Nakada.

In early August, plug-like blocks of the cryptodome, a mass of brown lava surrounded by circular faults, were pushed horizontally eastward at an average rate of ~ 10 m/day. Geologists believe that the plug may represent a magma conduit inclining westward beneath Jigoku-ato crater that was the source of viscous lava when the magma-supply rate was high. A grayish fresh lava surface with step-growth wrinkles appeared along the circular fault.

Rockfalls from the plug and its periphery generated pyroclastic flows along the Mizunashi River (SE of the summit) and Akamatsu Valley (S and SE of the volcano), traveling ~ 3 km from the crater. When a part of the cryptodome collapsed, a reddish ash cloud rose from the rockfalls to ~1,000 m, the highest to 1,300 m on 5 July. Ash frequently fell on inhabited areas around the volcano (including Shimabara city and Fukae town, which extend to within 7 and 4 km of the dome, respectively, and the Unzen spa area).

Small earthquakes continued to occur within and beneath the dome complex, at rates recorded by JMA of 50-400/day in July and the first half of August. Rates in late July were the highest since March, and the July total of 5,614 was also the largest since March.

Seismometers began to record a burst of pyroclastic flows, the most vigorous since 22 April, on 8 August at 0823. Sixteen were recorded by 1030, including events with durations of 180 seconds at 0945, 130 seconds at 0953, and 170 seconds at 1000. Heavy rains and dense clouds from a typhoon, which passed near the volcano that morning, obscured the volcano and prevented determination of pyroclastic-flow lengths and directions. Pyroclastic flows traveling along the Akamatsu Valley ~ 3.5 km from the dome burned 17 houses in an area (Minami-Kamikoba, Fukae town) that had been evacuated since June 1991. An additional house burned on 9 August at about 1330, but the cause of the fire was not known. No houses had been burned by pyroclastic flows since the destruction of 218 on 15 September 1991.

Typhoon rains fell at rates to 60 mm/hour on 8 August, triggering debris flows that produced distinctive signatures on seismic records. Debris flows were frequent along the Mizunashi River on 8 August between 0730 and 0900. The largest extended 7 km E of the dome, burying highways and the Shimabara railway, and damaging 72 houses in Shimabara city and Fukae town. Rain that fell from about noon on 12 August until the next morning caused 2 more large debris flows, at about 1930 on the 12th and 0400 on the 13th. Peak precipitation rates were 30 mm/hour and 10 mm/hour at two nearby rain gauges. The flows again traveled along the Mizunashi river, burying highways and the railway, and destroying 55 houses along both sides of the river's lower reaches. Structural damage from the August debris flows was the first since 30 June 1991. Highways were reopened by the evening of 13 August, but railway traffic was still halted as of 16 August. Forty more houses were destroyed along the Mizunashi River by a rain-induced debris flow early on 15 August. Another typhoon . . . was expected to reach the Unzen area late on 18 August.

Weather prevented observations of changes in dome morphology, as the succession of large pyroclastic flows and debris flows occurred for about a week in mid-August. When geologists examined the debris flows, they were steaming vigorously, and contained hot fragments of lava blocks derived from the youngest pyroclastic flows. A few hours after a debris flow was deposited, surface and interior temperatures of one of its lava blocks were about 80°C and 300°C, respectively. Debris flows were generated in the middle sections of the Oshiga (NE flank) and Akamatsu valleys. The middle portion of the Mizunashi valley was always covered by a sequence of new pyroclastic-flow deposits when visited by geologists.

The evacuated areas . . . were unchanged as of mid-August, and 6,054 residents remained evacuated. None were reported injured by the activity.

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: S. Nakada, Kyushu Univ; JMA.

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/).