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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

Bagana (Papua New Guinea) Intermittent gas-and-steam emissions and thermal anomalies during June-November 2019

Kerinci (Indonesia) Intermittent gas-and-steam and ash plumes during June-early November 2019

Bezymianny (Russia) Lava dome growth, ongoing thermal anomalies, moderate gas-steam emissions, June-November 2019

Mayon (Philippines) Gas-and-steam plumes and summit incandescence during May-October 2019

Merapi (Indonesia) Low-volume dome growth continues during April-September 2019 with rockfalls and small block-and-ash flows

Manam (Papua New Guinea) Significant eruption on 28 June produced an ash plume up to 15.2 km and pyroclastic flows

Tangkuban Parahu (Indonesia) Phreatic eruption on 27 July followed by intermittent explosions through to 17 September 2019

Sheveluch (Russia) Frequent ash explosions and lava dome growth continue through October 2019

Piton de la Fournaise (France) Three brief eruptive events in July, August, and October 2019

Agung (Indonesia) Quiet returns after explosions on 10 and 13 June 2019

Copahue (Chile-Argentina) New ash emissions begin in early August; intermittent and ongoing through October 2019

Turrialba (Costa Rica) Activity diminishes during March-October 2019, but small ash emissions continue



Bagana (Papua New Guinea) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Bagana

Papua New Guinea

6.137°S, 155.196°E; summit elev. 1855 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent gas-and-steam emissions and thermal anomalies during June-November 2019

Bagana volcano is found in a remote portion of central Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea. The most recent eruptive phase that began in early 2000 has produced ash plumes and thermal anomalies (BGVN 44:06, 50:01). Activity has remained low between January-July 2019 with rare thermal anomalies and occasional steam plumes. This reporting period updates information for June-November 2019 and includes thermal anomalies and intermittent gas-and-steam emissions. Thermal data and satellite imagery are the primary sources of information for this report.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed an increased number of thermal anomalies within 5 km from the summit beginning in late July-early August (figure 38). Two Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed faint, roughly linear thermal anomalies, indicative of lava flows trending EW and NS on 7 July 2019 and 6 August, respectively (figure 39). Weak thermal hotspots were briefly detected in late September-early October after a short hiatus in September. No thermal anomalies were recorded in Sentinel-2 past August due to cloud cover; however, gas-and-steam emissions were visible on 7 July and in September (figures 39, 40, and 41).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Thermal anomalies near the crater summit at Bagana during February-November 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) increased in frequency and power in early August. A small cluster was detected in early October after a brief pause in activity in early September. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showing small thermal anomalies at Bagana between July-August 2019. Left: A very faint thermal anomaly and a gas-and-steam plume is seen on 7 July 2019. Right: Two small thermal anomalies are faintly seen on 6 August 2019. Both Sentinel-2 satellite images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. A gas-and-steam plume rising from the summit of Bagana on 18 September 2019. Courtesy of Brendan McCormick Kilbride (University of Manchester).

The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) scientific team partnered with the Rabaul Volcano Observatory and the Bougainville Disaster Office to observe activity at Bagana and collect gas data using drone technology during two weeks of field work in mid-September 2019. For this field work, the major focus was to understand the composition of the volcanic gas emitted at Bagana and measure the concentration of these gases. Since Bagana is remote and difficult to climb, research about its gas emissions has been limited. The recent advancements in drone technology has allowed for new data collection at the summit of Bagana (figure 41). Most of the emissions consisted of water vapor, according to Brendan McCormick Kilbride, one of the volcanologists on this trip. During 14-19 September there was consistently a strong gas-and-steam plume from Bagana (figure 42).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Degassing plumes seen from drone footage 100 m above the summit of Bagana. Top: Zoomed out view of the summit of Bagana degassing. Bottom: Closer perspective of the gases emitted from Bagana. Courtesy of Kieran Wood (University of Bristol) and the Bristol Flight Laboratory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Photos of gas-and-steam plumes rising from Bagana between 14-19 September 2019. Courtesy of Brendan McCormick Kilbride (University of Manchester).

Geologic Background. Bagana volcano, occupying a remote portion of central Bougainville Island, is one of Melanesia's youngest and most active volcanoes. This massive symmetrical cone was largely constructed by an accumulation of viscous andesitic lava flows. The entire edifice could have been constructed in about 300 years at its present rate of lava production. Eruptive activity is frequent and characterized by non-explosive effusion of viscous lava that maintains a small lava dome in the summit crater, although explosive activity occasionally producing pyroclastic flows also occurs. Lava flows form dramatic, freshly preserved tongue-shaped lobes up to 50 m thick with prominent levees that descend the flanks on all sides.

Information Contacts: MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Brendan McCormick Kilbride, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom (URL: https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/brendan.mccormickkilbride.html, Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrendanVolc); Kieran Wood, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1QU, United Kingdom (URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/engineering/people/kieran-t-wood/index.html, Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrKieranWood, video posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7Hx645v0eU); University of Bristol Flight Laboratory, Bristol BS8 1QU, United Kingdom (Twitter: https://twitter.com/UOBFlightLab).


Kerinci (Indonesia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

1.697°S, 101.264°E; summit elev. 3800 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent gas-and-steam and ash plumes during June-early November 2019

Kerinci, located in Sumatra, Indonesia, is a highly active volcano characterized by explosive eruptions with ash plumes and gas-and-steam emissions. The most recent eruptive episode began in April 2018 and included intermittent explosions with ash plumes. Volcanism continued from June-November 2019 with ongoing intermittent gas-and-steam and ash plumes. The primary source of information for this report comes from Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and MAGMA Indonesia.

Brown- to gray-colored ash clouds drifting in different directions were reported by PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC, and MAGMA Indonesia between June and early November 2019. Ground observations, satellite imagery, and weather models were used to monitor the plume, which ranged from 4.3 to 4.9 km altitude, or about 500-1,100 m above the summit. On 7 June 2019 at 0604 a gray ash emission rose 800 m above the summit, drifting E, according to a ground observer. An ash plume on 12 July rose to 4 km altitude and drifted SW, as determined by satellite imagery and weather models. An eruption produced a gray ash cloud on 31 July that rose to 4.6 km altitude and drifted NE and E, according to PVMBG and the Darwin VAAC (figure 17). Another ash cloud rose up to 4.3 km altitude on 3 August. On 2 September a possible ash plume rose to a maximum altitude of 4.9 km and drifted WSW, according to the Darwin VAAC advisory.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. A gray ash plume at Kerinci rose roughly 800 m above the summit on 31 July 2019 and drifted NE and E. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

Brown ash emissions rose to 4.4 km altitude at 1253 on 6 October, drifting WSW. Similar plumes reached 4.6 km altitude twice on 30 October and moved NE, SE, and E at 0614 and WSW at 1721, based on ground observations. On 1-2 November, ground observers saw brown ash emissions rising up to 4.3 km drifting ESE. Between 3 and 5 November the brown ash plumes rose 100-500 m above the summit, according to PVMBG.

Gas emissions continued to be observed through November, as reported by PVMBG and identified in satellite imagery (figure 18). Seismicity that included volcanic earthquakes also continued between June and early November, when the frequency decreased.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showing a typical white gas-and-steam plume at Kerinci on 9 August 2019. Sentinel-2 satellite image with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Gunung Kerinci in central Sumatra forms Indonesia's highest volcano and is one of the most active in Sumatra. It is capped by an unvegetated young summit cone that was constructed NE of an older crater remnant. There is a deep 600-m-wide summit crater often partially filled by a small crater lake that lies on the NE crater floor, opposite the SW-rim summit. The massive 13 x 25 km wide volcano towers 2400-3300 m above surrounding plains and is elongated in a N-S direction. Frequently active, Kerinci has been the source of numerous moderate explosive eruptions since its first recorded eruption in 1838.

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/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Bezymianny (Russia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Bezymianny

Russia

55.972°N, 160.595°E; summit elev. 2882 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava dome growth, ongoing thermal anomalies, moderate gas-steam emissions, June-November 2019

The long-term activity at Bezymianny has been dominated by almost continuous thermal anomalies, moderate gas-steam emissions, dome growth, lava flows, and an occasional ash explosion (BGVN 44:06). The volcano is monitored by the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT. Throughout the reporting period of June to November 2019, the Aviation Colour Code remained Yellow (second lowest of four levels).

According to KVERT weekly reports, lava dome growth continued in June through mid-July 2019. Thereafter the reports did not mention dome growth, but indicated that moderate gas-and-steam emissions (figure 32) continued through November. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) volcano hotspot detection system, based on analysis of MODIS data, detected hotspots within 5 km of the summit almost every day. KVERT also reported a thermal anomaly over the volcano almost daily, except when it was obscured by clouds. Infrared satellite imagery often showed thermal anomalies generated by lava flows or dome growth (figure 33).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Photo of Bezymianny showing fumarolic activity on 4 July 2019. Photo by O. Girina (IVS FEB RAS, KVERT); courtesy of KVERT.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Typical infrared satellite images of Bezymianny showing thermal anomalies in the summit crater, including a lava flow to the WNW. Top: 21 August 2019 with SWIR filter (bands 12, 8A, 4). Bottom: 17 September 2019 with Atmospheric Penetration filter (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Prior to its noted 1955-56 eruption, Bezymianny had been considered extinct. The modern volcano, much smaller in size than its massive neighbors Kamen and Kliuchevskoi, was formed about 4700 years ago over a late-Pleistocene lava-dome complex and an ancestral edifice built about 11,000-7000 years ago. Three periods of intensified activity have occurred during the past 3000 years. The latest period, which was preceded by a 1000-year quiescence, began with the dramatic 1955-56 eruption. This eruption, similar to that of St. Helens in 1980, produced a large horseshoe-shaped crater that was formed by collapse of the summit and an associated lateral blast. Subsequent episodic but ongoing lava-dome growth, accompanied by intermittent explosive activity and pyroclastic flows, has largely filled the 1956 crater.

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/); 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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Mayon (Philippines) — November 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Mayon

Philippines

13.257°N, 123.685°E; summit elev. 2462 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Gas-and-steam plumes and summit incandescence during May-October 2019

Mayon, located in the Philippines, is a highly active stratovolcano with recorded historical eruptions dating back to 1616. The most recent eruptive episode began in early January 2018 that consisted of phreatic explosions, steam-and-ash plumes, lava fountaining, and pyroclastic flows (BGVN 43:04). The previous report noted small but distinct thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam plumes, and slight inflation (BGVN 44:05) that continued to occur from May into mid-October 2019. This report includes information based on daily bulletins from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) and Sentinel-2 satellite imagery.

Between May and October 2019, white gas-and-steam plumes rose to a maximum altitude of 800 m on 17 May. PHIVOLCS reported that faint summit incandescence was frequently observed at night from May-July and Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed weaker thermal anomalies in September and October (figure 49); the last anomaly was identified on 12 October. Average SO2 emissions as measured by PHIVOLCS generally varied between 469-774 tons/day; the high value of the period was on 25 July, with 1,171 tons/day. Small SO2 plumes were detected by the TROPOMI satellite instrument a few times during May-September 2019 (figure 50).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery of Mayon between May-October 2019. Small thermal anomalies were recorded in satellite imagery from the summit and some white gas-and-steam plumes are visible. Top left: 30 May 2019. Top right: 9 June 2019. Bottom left: 22 September 2019. Bottom right: 12 October 2019. Sentinel-2 satellite images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Small SO2 plumes rising from Mayon during May-September 2019 recorded in DU (Dobson Units). Top left: 28 May 2019. Top right: 26 July 2019. Bottom left: 16 August 2019. Bottom right: 23 September 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Continuous GPS data has shown slight inflation since June 2018, corroborated by precise leveling data taken on 9-17 April, 16-25 July, and 23-30 October 2019. Elevated seismicity and occasional rockfall events were detected by the seismic monitoring network from PHIVOLCS from May to July; recorded activity decreased in August. Activity reported by PHIVOLCS in September-October 2019 consisted of frequent gas-and-steam emissions, two volcanic earthquakes, and no summit incandescence.

Geologic Background. Beautifully symmetrical Mayon, which rises above the Albay Gulf NW of Legazpi City, is the Philippines' most active volcano. The structurally simple edifice has steep upper slopes averaging 35-40 degrees that are capped by a small summit crater. Historical eruptions date back to 1616 and range from Strombolian to basaltic Plinian, with cyclical activity beginning with basaltic eruptions, followed by longer term andesitic lava flows. Eruptions occur predominately from the central conduit and have also produced lava flows that travel far down the flanks. Pyroclastic flows and mudflows have commonly swept down many of the approximately 40 ravines that radiate from the summit and have often devastated populated lowland areas. A violent eruption in 1814 killed more than 1,200 people and devastated several towns.

Information Contacts: Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), Department of Science and Technology, University of the Philippines Campus, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines (URL: http://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/); 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/).


Merapi (Indonesia) — October 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Merapi

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Low-volume dome growth continues during April-September 2019 with rockfalls and small block-and-ash flows

Merapi is an active volcano north of the city of Yogyakarta (figure 79) that has a recent history of dome growth and collapse, resulting in block-and-ash flows that killed over 400 in 2010, while an estimated 10,000-20,000 lives were saved by evacuations. The edifice contains an active dome at the summit, above the Gendol drainage down the SE flank (figure 80). The current eruption episode began in May 2018 and dome growth was observed from 11 August 2018-onwards. This Bulletin summarizes activity during April through September 2019 and is based on information from Balai Penyelidikan dan Pengembangan Teknologi Kebencanaan Geologi (BPPTKG, the Center for Research and Development of Geological Disaster Technology, a branch of PVMBG), Sutopo of Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), MAGMA Indonesia, along with observations by Øystein Lund Andersen and Brett Carr of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Merapi volcano is located north of Yogyakarta in Central Java. Photo courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. A view of the Gendol drainage where avalanches and block-and-ash flows are channeled from the active Merapi lava dome. The Gendol drainage is approximately 400 m wide at the summit. Courtesy of Brett Carr, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

At the beginning of April the rate of dome growth was relatively low, with little morphological change since January, but the overall activity of Merapi was considered high. Magma extrusion above the upper Gendol drainage resulted in rockfalls and block-and-ash flows out to 1.5 km from the dome, which were incandescent and visible at night. Five block-and-ash flows were recorded on 24 April, reaching as far as 1.2 km down the Gendol drainage. The volume of the dome was calculated to be 466,000 m3 on 9 April, a slight decrease from the previous week. Weak gas plumes reached a maximum of 500 m above the dome throughout April.

Six block-and-ash flows were generated on 5 May, lasting up to 77 seconds. Throughout May there were no significant changes to the dome morphology but the volume had decreased to 458,000 by 4 May according to drome imagery analysis. Lava extrusion continued above the Gendol drainage, producing rockfalls and small block-and-ash flows out to 1.2 km (figure 81). Gas plumes were observed to reach 400 m above the top of the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. An avalanche from the Merapi summit dome on 17 May 2019. The incandescent blocks traveled down to 850 m away from the dome. Courtesy of Sutopo, BNPB.

There were a total of 72 avalanches and block-and-ash flows from 29 January to 1 June, with an average distance of 1 km and a maximum of 2 km down the Gendol drainage. Photographs taken by Øystein Lund Andersen show the morphological change to the lava dome due to the collapse of rock and extruding lava down the Gendol drainage (figures 82 and 83). Block-and-ash flows were recorded on 17 and 20 June to a distance of 1.2 km, and a webcam image showed an incandescent flow on 26 June (figure 84). Throughout June gas plumes reached a maximum of 250 m above the top of the crater

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. The development of the Merapi summit dome from 2 June 2018 to 17 June 2019. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Photos taken of the Merapi summit lava dome in June 2019. Top: This nighttime time-lapse photograph shows incandescence at the south-facing side of the dome on the 16 June. Middle: A closeup of a small rockfall from the dome on 17 June. Bottom: A gas plume accompanying a small rockfall on 17 June. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Blocks from an incandescent rockfall off the Merapi dome reached out to 1 km down the Gendol drainage on 26 June 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

Analysis of drone images taken on 4 July gave an updated dome volume of 475,000 m3, a slight increase but with little change in the morphology (figure 85). Block-and-ash flows traveled 1.1 km down the Gendol drainage on 1 July, 1 km on the 13th, and 1.1 km on the 14th, some of which were seen at night as incandescent blocks fell from the dome (figure 86). During the week of 19-25 July there were four recorded block-and-ash flows reaching 1.1 km, and flows traveled out to around 1 km on the 24th, 27th, and 31st. The morphology of the dome continued to be relatively stable due to the extruding lava falling into the Gendol drainage. Gas plumes reached 300 m above the top of the crater during July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. The Merapi dome on 30 July 2019 producing a weak plume. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Incandescent rocks from the hot lava dome at the summit of Merapi form rockfalls down the Gendol drainage on 14 July 2019. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.

During the week of 5-11 August the dome volume was calculated to be 461,000 m3, a slight decrease from the week before with little morphological changes due to the continued lava extrusion collapsing into the Gendol drainage. There were five block-and-ash flows reaching a maximum of 1.2 km during 2-8 August. Two flows were observed on the 13th and 14th reaching 950 m, out to 1.9 km on the 20th and 22nd, and to 550 m on the 24th. There were 16 observed flows that reached 500-1,000 m on 25-27 August, with an additional flow out to 2 km at 1807 on the 27th (figure 87). Gas plumes reached a maximum of 350 m through the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. An incandescent rockfall from the Merapi dome that reached 2 km down the Gendol drainage on 27 August 2019. Courtesy of BPPTKG.

Brett Carr was conducting field work at Merapi during 12-26 September. During this time the lava extrusion was low (below 1 m3 per second). He observed small rockfalls with blocks a couple of meters in size, traveling about 50-200 m down the drainage every hour or so, producing small plumes as they descended and resulting in incandescence on the dome at night. Small dome collapse events produced block-and-ash flows down the drainage once or twice per day (figure 88) and slightly larger flows just over 1 km long a couple of times per week.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. A rockfall on the Merapi dome, towards the Gendol drainage at 0551 on 20 September 2019. Courtesy of Brett Carr, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The dome volume was 468,000 m3 by 19 September, a slight increase from the previous calculation but again with little morphological change. Two block-and-ash flows were observed out to 600 m on 9 September and seven occurred on the 9th out to 500-1,100 m. Two occurred on the 14th down to 750-900 m, three occurred on 17, 20, and 21 September to a maximum distance of 1.2 km, and three more out to 1.5 km through the 26th. A VONA (Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation) was issued on the 22nd due to a small explosion producing an ash plume up to approximately 3.8 km altitude (about 800 m above the summit) and minor ashfall to 15 km SW. This was followed by a block-and-ash flow reaching as far as 1.2 km and lasting for 125 seconds (figure 89). Preceding the explosion there was an increase in temperature at several locations on the dome. Weak gas plumes were observed up to 100 m above the crater throughout the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. An explosion at Merapi on 22 September 2019 was followed by a block-and-ash flow that reached 1.2 km down the Gendol drainage. Courtesy of BPPTKG.

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: Balai Penyelidikan dan Pengembangan Teknologi Kebencanaan Geologi (BPPTKG), Center for Research and Development of Geological Disaster Technology (URL: http://merapi.bgl.esdm.go.id/, Twitter: @BPPTKG); 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/, Twitter: https://twitter.com/BNPB_Indonesia); Øystein Lund Andersen? (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, URL: http://www.oysteinlundandersen.com); Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB (Twitter: @Sutopo_PN, URL: https://twitter.com/Sutopo_PN); Brett Carr, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, 61 Route 9W, Palisades, NY, USA (URL: https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/user/bcarr).


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — October 2019 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)


Significant eruption on 28 June produced an ash plume up to 15.2 km and pyroclastic flows

Manam is a frequently active volcano forming an island approximately 10 km wide, located 13 km north of the main island of Papua New Guinea. At the summit are the Main Crater and South Crater, with four valleys down the NE, SE, SW, and NW flanks (figure 57). Recent activity has occurred at both summit craters and has included gas and ash plumes, lava flows, and pyroclastic flows. Activity in December 2018 prompted the evacuation of nearby villages and the last reported activity for 2018 was ashfall on 8 December. Activity from January through September 2019 summarized below is based on information from the Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), the University of Hawai'i's MODVOLC thermal alert system, Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI and NASA Aqua/AIRS SO2 data, MIROVA thermal data, Sentinel-2 satellite images, and observations by visiting scientists. A significant eruption in June resulted in evacuations, airport closure, and damage to local crops and infrastructure.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. A PlanetScope image of Manam showing the two active craters with a plume emanating from the South Crater and the four valleys at the summit on 29 August 2019. Image copyright 2019 Planet Labs, Inc.

Activity during January-May 2019. Several explosive eruptions occurred during January 2019 according to Darwin VAAC reports, including an ash plume that rose to around 15 km and dispersed to the W on the 7th. RVO reported that an increase in seismic activity triggered the warning system shortly before the eruption commenced (figure 58). Small explosions were observed through to the next day with ongoing activity from the Main Crater and a lava flow in the NE valley observed from around 0400. Intermittent explosions ejected scoria after 0600, depositing ejecta up to 2 cm in diameter in two villages on the SE side of the island. Incandescence at both summit craters and hot deposits at the terminus of the NE valley are visible in Sentinel-2 TIR data acquired on the 10th (figure 59).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Real-Time Seismic-Amplitude Measurement graph representing seismicity at Manam over 7-9 January 2019, showing the increase during the 7-8 January event. Courtesy of RVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Sentinel-2 thermal infrared (TIR) imagery shows incandescence in the two Manam summit craters and at the terminus of the NE valley near the shoreline on 10 January 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel-Hub Playground.

Another explosion generated an ash plume to around 15 km on the 11th that dispersed to the SW. An explosive eruption occurred around 4 pm on the 23rd with the Darwin VAAC reporting an ash plume to around 16.5 km altitude, dispersing to the E. Activity continued into the following day, with satellites detecting SO2 plumes on both 23 and 24 January (figure 60). Activity declined by February with one ash plume reported up to 4.9 km altitude on 15 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. SO2 plumes originating from Manam detected by NASA Aqua/AIRS (top) on 23 January 2019 and by Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI on 24 January (bottom). Images courtesy of Simon Carn, Michigan Technological University.

Ash plumes rose up to 3 km between 1 and 5 March, and dispersed to the SE, ESE, and E. During 5-6 March the plumes moved E, and the events were accompanied by elevated seismicity and significant thermal anomalies detected in satellite data. During 19-22 March explosions produced ash plumes up to 4.6 km altitude, which dispersed to the E and SE. Simon Carn of the Michigan Technological University noted a plume in Aqua/AIRS data at around 15 km altitude at 0400 UTC on 23 January with approximately 13 kt measured, similar to other recent eruptions. Additional ash plumes were detected on 29 March, reaching 2.4-3 km and drifting to the E, NE, and N. Multiple SO2 plumes were detected throughout April (figure 61).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. Examples of elevated SO2 (sulfur dioxide) emissions from Manam during April 2019, on 9 April (top left), 21 April (top right), 22 April (bottom left), 28 April (bottom right). Courtesy of the NASA Space Goddard Flight Center.

During 19-28 May the Deep Carbon Observatory ABOVE (Aerial-based Observations of Volcanic Emissions) scientific team observed activity at Manam and collected gas data using drone technology. They recorded degassing from the South Crater and Main Crater (figure 63 and 64), which was also detected in Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI data (figure 65). Later in the day the plumes rose vertically up to 3-4 km above sea level and appeared stronger due to condensation. Incandescence was observed each night at the South Crater (figure 66). The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume on 10 May, reaching 5.5 km altitude and drifting to the NE. Smaller plumes up to 2.4 km were noted on the 11th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. Degassing plumes from the South Crater of Manam, seen from Baliau village on the northern coast on 24 May 2019. Courtesy of Emma Liu, University College London.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. A strong gas-and-steam plume from Manam was observed moving tens of kilometers downwind on 19 May 2019, viewed here form the SSW at dusk. Photo courtesy of Julian Rüdiger, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI SO2 data acquired on 22 May 2019 during the field observations of the Deep Carbon Observatory ABOVE team. Image courtesy of Simon Carn, Michigan Technological University.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. Incandescence at the South Crater of Manam was visible during 19-21 May 2019 from the Baliau village on the northern coast of the island. Photos courtesy of Tobias Fischer, University of New Mexico (top) and Matthew Wordell (bottom).

Activity during June 2019. Ash plumes rose to 4.3 km and drifted SW on 7-8 June, and up to 3-3.7 km and towards the E and NE on 18 June. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite data show hot material around the Main Crater on 24 June (figure 66). On 27 June RVO reported that RSAM (Real-time Seismic Amplitude Measurement, a measure of seismic activity through time) increased from 540 to over 1,400 in 30 minutes. "Thundering noise" was noted by locals at around 0100 on the 28th. An ash plume drifting SW was visible in satellite images acquired after 0620, coinciding with reported sightings by nearby residents (figure 67). The Darwin VAAC noted that by 0910 the ash plume had reached 15.2 km altitude and was drifting SW. When seen in satellite imagery at 1700 that day the large ash plume had detached and remained visible extending SW. There were 267 lightning strokes detected within 75 km during the event (figure 68) and pyroclastic flows were generated down the NE and W flanks. At 0745 on 29 June an ash plume reached up to 4.8 km.

Villages including Dugulava, Yassa, Budua, Madauri, Waia, Dangale, and Bokure were impacted by ashfall and approximately 3,775 people had evacuated to care centers. Homes and crops were reportedly damaged due to falling ash and scoria. Flights through Madang airport were also disrupted due to the ash until they resumed on the 30th. The Office of the Resident Coordinator in Papua New Guinea reported that as many as 455 homes and gardens were destroyed. Humanitarian resources were strained due to another significant eruption at nearby Ulawun that began on 26 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite data show hot material around the Main Crater and a plume dispersing SE through light cloud cover on 24 June 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. Himawari-8 satellite image showing the ash plume rising above Manam and drifting SW at 0840 on 28 June. Satellite image courtesy of NCIT ScienceCloud.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. There were 267 lightning strokes detected within 75 km of Manam between 0729 on 27 June and 0100 on 29 June 2019. Sixty of these occurred within the final two hours of this observation period, reflecting increased activity. Red dots are cloud to ground lightning strokes and black dots are in-cloud strokes. Courtesy of Chris Vagasky, Vaisala Inc.

Activity during July-September 2019. Activity was reduced through July and September. The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume to approximately 6 km altitude on 6 July that drifted W and NW, another plume that day to 3.7 km that drifted N, and a plume on the 21st that rose to 4.3 km and drifted SW and W. Diffuse plumes rose to 2.4-2.7 km and drifted towards the W on 29 September. Thermal anomalies in the South Crater persisted through September.

Fresh deposits from recent events are visible in satellite deposits, notably in the NE after the January activity (figure 69). Satellite TIR data reflected elevated activity with increased energy detected in March and June-July in MODVOLC and MIROVA data (figure 70).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Sentinel-2 thermal infrared images acquired on 12 October 2018, 20 May 2019, and 12 September 2019 show the eruption deposits that accumulated during this time. A thermal anomaly is visible in the South Crater in the May and September images. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. MIROVA log radiative power plot of MODIS thermal infrared at Manam during February through September 2019. Increases in activity were detected in March and June-July. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; 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); 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/); Office of the Resident Coordinator, United Nations, Port Moresby, National Capital District, Papua New Guinea (URL: https://papuanewguinea.un.org/en/about/about-the-resident-coordinator-office, https://reliefweb.int/report/papua-new-guinea/papua-new-guinea-volcanic-activity-office-resident-coordinator-flash-2); Himawari-8 Real-time Web, developed by the NICT Science Cloud project in NICT (National Institute of Information and Communications Technology), Japan, in collaboration with JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency) and CEReS (Center of Environmental Remote Sensing, Chiba University) (URL: https://himawari8.nict.go.jp/); Simon Carn, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931, USA (URL: http://www.volcarno.com/, Twitter: @simoncarn); Chris Vagasky, Vaisala Inc., Louisville, Colorado, USA (URL: https://www.vaisala.com/en?type=1, Twitter: @COweatherman, URL: https://twitter.com/COweatherman); Emma Liu, University College London Earth Sciences, London WC1E 6BS (URL: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/earth-sciences/people/academic/dr-emma-liu); Matthew Wordell, Boise, ID, USA (URL: https://www.matthhew.com/biocontact); Julian Rüdiger, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Saarstr. 21, 55122 Mainz, Germany (URL: https://www.uni-mainz.de/).


Tangkuban Parahu (Indonesia) — October 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Tangkuban Parahu

Indonesia

6.77°S, 107.6°E; summit elev. 2084 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Phreatic eruption on 27 July followed by intermittent explosions through to 17 September 2019

Tangkuban is located in the West Bandung and Subang Regencies in the West Java Province and has two main summit craters, Ratu and Upas (figure 3). Recent activity has largely consisted of phreatic explosions and gas-and-steam plumes at the Ratu crater. Prior to July 2019, the most recent activity occurred in 2012-2013, ending with a phreatic eruption on 5 October 2013 (BGVN 40:04). Background activity includes geothermal activity in the Ratu crater consisting of gas and steam emission (figure 4). This area is a tourist destination with infrastructure, and often people, overlooking the active crater. This report summarizes activity during 2014 through September 2019 and is based on official agency reports. Monitoring is the responsibility of Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Map of Tangkuban Parahu showing the Sunda Caldera rim and the Ratu, Upas, and Domas craters. Basemap is the August 2019 mosaic, copyright 2019 Planet Labs, Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Background activity at the Ratu crater of Tangkuban Parahu is shown in these images from 1 May 2012. The top image is an overview of the crater and the bottom four images show typical geothermal activity. Copyrighted photos by Øystein Lund Andersen, used with permission.

The first reported activity in 2014 consisted of gas-and-steam plumes during October-December, prompting PVMBG to increase the alert level from I to II on 31 December 2014. These white plumes reached a maximum of 50 m above the Ratu crater (figure 5) and were accompanied by elevated seismicity and deformation. This prompted the implementation of an exclusion zone with a radius of 1.5 km around the crater. The activity decreased and the alert level was lowered back to I on 8 January 2015. There was no further reported activity from January 2015 through mid-2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Changes at the Ratu crater of Tangkuban Parahu during 25 December 2014 to 8 January 2015. Rain water accumulated in the crater in December and intermittent gas-and-steam plumes were observed. Courtesy of PVMBG (8 January 2015 report).

From 27 June 2019 an increase in activity was recorded in seismicity, deformation, gas chemistry, and visual observations. By 24 July the responsible government agencies had communicated that the volcano could erupt at any time. At 1548 on 26 July a phreatic (steam-driven) explosion ejected an ash plume that reached 200 m; a steam-rich plume rose to 600 m above the Ratu crater (figures 6, and 7). People were on the crater rim at the time and videos show a white plume rising from the crater followed by rapid jets of ash and sediment erupting through the first plume. Deposition of eruption material was 5-7 cm thick and concentrated within a 500 m radius from the point between the Rata and Upas craters, and wider deposition occurred within 2 km of the crater (figures 8 and 9). According to seismic data, the eruption lasted around 5 minutes and 30 seconds (figure 10). Videos show several pulses of ash that fell back into the crater, followed by an ash plume moving laterally towards the viewers.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. These screenshots are from a video taken from the Ratu crater rim at Tangkuban Parahu on 26 July 2019. Initially there is a white gas-and-steam plume rising from the crater, then a high-velocity black jet of ash and sediment rises through the plume. This video was widely shared across multiple social media platforms, but the original source could not be identified.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. The ash plume at Tangkuban Parahu on 26 July 2019. Courtesy of BNPB.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Volcanic ash and lapilli was deposited around the Ratu crater of Tangkuban Parahu during a phreatic eruption on 26 July 2019. Note that the deposits have slumped down the window and are thicker than the actual ashfall. Courtesy of BNPB.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Ash was deposited on buildings that line the Ratu crater at Tangkuban Parahu during a phreatic eruption on 26 July 2019. Photo courtesy of Novrian Arbi/via Reuters.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. A seismogram showing the onset of the 26 July 2019 eruption of Tangkuban Parahu and the elevated seismicity following the event. Courtesy of PVMBG via Øystein Lund Andersen.

On 27 July, the day after the eruption, Øystein Lund Andersen observed the volcano using a drone camera, operated from outside the restricted zone. Over a period of two hours the crater produced a small steam plume; ashfall and small blocks from the initial eruption are visible in and around the crater (figure 11). The ashfall is also visible in satellite imagery, which shows that deposition was restricted to the immediate vicinity to the SW of the crater (figure 12).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Photos of the Ratu crater of Tangkuban Parahu on 27 July 2019, the day after a phreatic eruption. A small steam plume continued through the day. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. PlanetScope satellite images showing the Ratu crater of Tangkuban Parahu before (17 July 2019) and after (28 July 2019) the explosion that took place on 26 July 2019. Natural color PlanetScope Imagery, copyright 2019 Planet Labs, Inc.

Another eruption occurred at 2046 on 1 August 2019 and lasted around 11 minutes, producing a plume up to 180 m above the vent. Additional explosions occurred at 0043 on 2 August, lasting around 3 minutes according to seismic data, but were not observed. Explosions continued to be recorded at 0145, 0357, and 0406 at the time of the PVMBG report when the last explosion was ongoing, and a photo shows an explosion at 0608 (figure 13). The explosions produced plumes that reached between 20 and 200 m above the vent. Due to elevated activity the Alert Level was increased to II on 2 August. Ash emission continued through the 4th. During 5-11 August events ejecting ash continued to produce plumes up to 80 m, and gas-and-steam plumes up to 200 m above the vent. Ashfall was localized around Ratu crater. The following week, 12-18 August, activity continued with ash and gas-and-steam plumes reaching 100-200 m above the vent. During 19-25 August, similar activity sent ash to 50-180 m, and gas-and-steam plumes to 200 m. A larger phreatic explosion occurred at 0930 on 31 August with an ash plume reaching 300 m, and a gas-and-steam plume reaching 600 m above the vent, depositing ash and sediment around the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. A small ash plume below a white gas-and-steam plume erupting from the Ratu crater of Tangkuban Parahu on 2 August 2019 at 0608. Courtesy of PVBMG (2 August 2019 report).

In early September activity consisted of gas-and-steam plumes up to 100-180 m above the vent with some ash plumes observed (figure 14). Two larger explosions occurred at 1657 and 1709 on 7 September with ash reaching 180 m, and gas-and-steam up to 200 m above the vent. Ash and sediment deposited around the crater. Due to strong winds to the SSW, the smell of sulfur was reported around Cimahi City in West Bandung, although there was no detected increase in sulfur emissions. A phreatic explosion on 17 September produced an ash plume to 40 m and a steam plume to 200 m above the crater. Weak gas-and-steam emissions reaching 200 m above the vent continued through to the end of September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. A phreatic explosion at Tangkuban Parahu in the Ratu crater at 0724 on 4 September 2019, lasting nearly one minute. The darker ash plume reached around 100 m above the vent. Courtesy of PVGHM (4 September 2019 report).

Geologic Background. Gunung Tangkuban Parahu is a broad shield-like stratovolcano overlooking Indonesia's former capital city of Bandung. The volcano was constructed within the 6 x 8 km Pleistocene Sunda caldera, which formed about 190,000 years ago. The volcano's low profile is the subject of legends referring to the mountain of the "upturned boat." The Sunda caldera rim forms a prominent ridge on the western side; elsewhere the rim is largely buried by deposits of the current volcano. The dominantly small phreatic eruptions recorded since the 19th century have originated from several nested craters within an elliptical 1 x 1.5 km summit depression.

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/); 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/); Øystein Lund Andersen (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: https://www.oysteinlundandersen.com/tangkuban-prahu/tangkuban-prahu-volcano-west-java-one-day-after-the-26th-july-phreatic-eruption/); Reuters (URL: https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/editors-choice-pictures-idUSRTX71F3E).


Sheveluch (Russia) — November 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Sheveluch

Russia

56.653°N, 161.36°E; summit elev. 3283 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent ash explosions and lava dome growth continue through October 2019

After a lull in activity at Sheveluch, levels intensified again in mid-December 2018 and remained high through April 2019, with lava dome growth, strong explosions that produced ash plumes, incandescent lava flows, hot avalanches, numerous thermal anomalies, and strong fumarolic activity (BGVN 44:05). This report summarizes activity between May and October 2019. The volcano is monitored by the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT).

According to KVERT, explosive activity continued to generate ash plumes during May-October 2019 (table 13). Strong fumarolic activity, incandescence and growth of the lava dome, and hot avalanches accompanied this process. There were also reports of plumes caused by re-suspended ash rather than new explosions. Plumes frequently extended a few hundred kilometers downwind, with the longest ones remaining visible in imagery as much as 1,000-1,400 km away. One of the larger explosions, on 1 October (figure 52), also generated a pyroclastic flow. Some of the stronger explosions sent the plume to an altitude of 10-11 km, or more than 7 km above the summit. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale) throughout the reporting period, except for several hours on 6 October when it was raised to Red (the highest level).

Table 13. Explosions and ash plumes at Sheveluch during May-October 2019. Dates and times are UTC, not local. Data courtesy of KVERT.

Dates Plume altitude (km) Drift Distance and Direction Remarks
30 Apr-02 May 2019 -- 200 km SE Resuspended ash.
03-10 May 2019 -- 50 km SE, SW Gas-and-steam plumes containing some ash.
13 May 2019 -- 16 km SE Resuspended ash.
11-12 Jun 2019 -- 60 km WNW Explosions and hot avalanches seen in video and satellite images.
24, 27 Jun 2019 4.5 E, W Ash plumes.
05 Aug 2019 2.5 40 km NW Diffuse ash plume.
25 Aug 2019 4.5-5 500 km NW Ash plumes.
29 Aug 2019 10 Various; 550 km N Explosions at 1510 produced ash plumes.
30 Aug 2019 7-7.5 50 km SSE Explosions at 1957 produced ash plumes.
03 Sep 2019 5.5 SE --
02-03, 05 Sep 2019 10 660 km SE Ash plumes seen in satellite images.
05 Sep 2019 -- -- Resuspended ash.
11-12 Sep 2019 -- 250 km ESE Resuspended ash plumes. Satellite and webcam data recorded ash emissions and a gas-and-steam plume with some ash drifting 50 km ESE on 12 Sep.
12-15, 17, 19 Sep 2019 -- 200 km SW, SE, NE Ash plumes.
20-21, 23, 26 Sep 2019 7 580 km ESE Explosions produced ash plumes.
29 Sep, 01-02 Oct 2019 9 1,400 km SE, E Explosions produced ash plumes. Notable pyroclastic flow traveled SE on 1 Oct.
04 Oct 2019 -- 170 km E Resuspended ash.
06 Oct 2019 10 430 km NE; 1,080 km ENE Ash plumes. Aviation Color Code raised to Red for several hours.
08 Oct 2019 -- 170 km E Resuspended ash.
06, 09 Oct 2019 6.5-11 1,100 km E --
11-13, 15 Oct 2019 6.5-7 620 km E, SE Explosions produced ash plumes.
16-17 Oct 2019 -- 125 km E Resuspended ash.
19-20 Oct 2019 -- 110 km SE Resuspended ash.
21 Oct 2019 10-11 1,300 km SE Explosions produced ash plumes.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. An explosion of Sheveluch on 1 October 2019. A pyroclastic flow was also reported by KVERT this day. Courtesy of Yu. Demyanchuk, IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

Numerous thermal anomalies, based on MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm, were observed every month. Consistent with this, the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system recorded thermal anomalies almost daily. According to KVERT, a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch was identified in satellite images during the entire reporting period, although cloudy weather sometimes obscured observations.

Geologic Background. The high, isolated massif of Sheveluch volcano (also spelled Shiveluch) rises above the lowlands NNE of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group. The 1300 km3 volcano is one of Kamchatka's largest and most active volcanic structures. The summit of roughly 65,000-year-old Stary Shiveluch is truncated by a broad 9-km-wide late-Pleistocene caldera breached to the south. Many lava domes dot its outer flanks. The Molodoy Shiveluch lava dome complex was constructed during the Holocene within the large horseshoe-shaped caldera; Holocene lava dome extrusion also took place on the flanks of Stary Shiveluch. At least 60 large eruptions have occurred during the Holocene, making it the most vigorous andesitic volcano of the Kuril-Kamchatka arc. Widespread tephra layers from these eruptions have provided valuable time markers for dating volcanic events in Kamchatka. Frequent collapses of dome complexes, most recently in 1964, have produced debris avalanches whose deposits cover much of the floor of the breached caldera.

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/); 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/).


Piton de la Fournaise (France) — November 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)


Three brief eruptive events in July, August, and October 2019

Short pulses of intermittent eruptive activity have been common at Piton de la Fournaise, the large basaltic shield volcano on La Réunion Island in the western Indian Ocean, for several thousand years. Over the last 20 years 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 around the flanks of the central cone which has the Dolomieu Crater at its summit, although past eruptions in 1977, 1986, and 1998 have occurred at vents outside the caldera. Two eruptive episodes were reported during January-June 2019; from 18 February to 10 March, and from 11 to 13 June (BGVN 44:07). Three episodes during July-October 2019 are covered in this report, with information provided primarily by the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF) as well as satellite instruments.

Three brief eruptive episodes took place during July-October 2019. In each case, slow ground inflation in the weeks leading up to the eruption was followed by sudden inflation at the time of the fissure opening and lava flow event. This was followed by a resumption of inflation days or weeks later. The first event took place during 29-30 July and consisted of three fissures opening on the N flank of the Dolomieu cone. It lasted for less than 24 hours, and the maximum flow length was about 730 m. The second event began on 11 August with two fissures opening on the S flank of the Dolomieu cone. The flows traveled downhill almost 3 km; activity ended on 15 August. Two new fissures opened during 25-27 October on the SSE flank of the cone; one was active only briefly while the second created a 3.6-km-long flow that stopped a few hundred meters before the major highway. The sudden surges of thermal energy from the eruptions are clearly visible in the MIROVA thermal data (figure 182). Each of the eruptive episodes was also accompanied by SO2 emissions that were detected by satellite instruments (figure 183).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 182. Three eruptive events took place at Piton de la Fournaise during July-October 2019 and appear as spikes in thermal activity during 29-30 July, 11-15 August, and 25-27 October. Additional events in late February-early March and mid-June are also visible in this MIROVA graph of thermal energy from 12 December 2018 through October 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 183. Sulfur dioxide emissions were measured from Piton de la Fournaise during each of the eruptive events that occurred in July (top left), August (top right and bottom left), and October (bottom right) 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Activity during July 2019. The last eruption, a series of flows from several fissures on the SSE flank of Dolomieu Crater near the crater rim (at the center of the Enclos Fouqué caldera), lasted from 11 to 13 June 2019 (figure 184). Ground deformation after the eruption indicated renewed inflation of the edifice which had been ongoing since May. OVPF reported an increase in seismicity beginning on 21 June which continued throughout July; the earthquakes were located near the NW rim of the Dolomieu Crater and on its NW flank. Four centimeters of elongation were recorded between two GNSS stations within the Enclos during late June and July prior to the next eruption. The next short-lived eruption took place during 29-30 July, near the location of the seismicity on the NW flank of the Dolomieu cone about 600 m E of the Formica Leo cone. The onset of the eruption was accompanied by rapid ground deformation of about 12-13 cm, recorded at a station that is located west of the Dolomieu Crater (figure 185).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 184. Location maps of lava flows formed during the 11-13 June 2019 (left) and 29-30 July 2019 (right) eruptions at Piton de la Fournaise. Information derived from satellite data via the OI2 platform and aerial photos. Lava flows from June are shown as red polygons and eruptive fissures are shown as white lines. For the July event, the flows are shown in white. Courtesy of OVPF, OI2 and Université Clermont Auvergne (Monthly bulletins of the Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory, June and July 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 185. Horizontal surface displacements indicating inflation of Piton de la Fournaise of about four centimeters were gradual between 14 June and 28 July 2019 (left). Just prior to and at the onset of the eruption on 29 July, a much greater displacement of about 12 cm occurred, associated with the subsurface ascent of magma (right). Courtesy of OVPF-IPGP (Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory, July 2019).

The late July eruption began around 1200 local time on 29 July 2019 with the opening of three fissures over a distance of about 450 m on the N flank of Dolomieu cone, close to the tourist trail to the summit (figure 186). Lava fountains 20-30 m high were reported. Thermal measurements indicated flow temperatures of about 1,100°C at the base of the lava fountains; samples were collected for analysis (figure 187). Average discharge rates of 11.6 m3s were estimated for the eruption which ended less than 24 hours later, around 0430 on 30 July. The maximum flow length was about 730 m.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 186. Three fissures opened at Piton de la Fournaise on 29 July 2019 and flows traveled 730 m downslope before stopping the next day. The fissures were located on the N flank of Dolomieu cone. Courtesy of OVPF-IPGP, Imaz PressRéunion, and Réunion La 1ère (Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory, July 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 187. Samples were collected for analysis by OVPF from the 29 July 2019 flow at Piton de la Fournaise. Courtesy of OVPF-IPGP (Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory, July 2019).

Eruption of 11-15 August 2019. During 1-10 August there were 33 shallow volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes located under the SE flank of Dolomieu cone; a new eruption began over this area on 11 August (figure 188). Two centimeters of inflation were recorded between the 29-30 July eruption and the 11-15 August event; this was followed by a rapid burst of inflation (tens of centimeters) at the onset of the eruption. Inflation resumed shortly after the eruption ended. The eruption began around 1620 local time on 11 August. Two fissures opened, one at 1,700 m elevation, and one at 1,500 m elevation on the SE flank, about 1,400 m apart (figure 189). Due to the steep slopes in the area, the lava flow quickly reached the "Grande Pentes" area before slowing down at the flatter "Piton Tremblet" area. The farthest traveled flow was cooling at an elevation of about 560 m, about 2 km from the National Road (RN2) on 14 August. The maximum effusion rate was measured at 9 m3/s. The eruption stopped on 15 August 2019 at 2200 local time after more than 6 hours of "piston gas" activity, and a brief pause in flow activity earlier in the day. About 3 million m3of lava were emitted, according to OVPF-IPGP. The flows from the 1,700 m and 1500 m altitude fissures reached maximum lengths of 2.9 and 2.7 km, respectively.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 188. Locations of eruptive fissures that opened on 11 August 2019 on the SE flank of Dolomieu cone at Piton de la Fournaise, and the approximate locations of the associated flows. Courtesy of IVPF-IPGP / OPGC-LMV (Bulletin d'activité du mercredi 14 août 2019 à 15h30, Heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 189. Lava flows from the Piton de la Fournaise eruption of 11-15 August 2019 emerged from two fissures on the SE flank of Dolomieu cone. The flows were both active on 13 August (left) at around 0930 local time. Visual and thermal images of the lava flows on 14 August at around 2100 local time (center and right) showed them continuing down the steep slope of the cone and spreading out over the shallower area below. Courtesy of OVPF-IPGP, LMV-OPGC (Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory, August 2019).

Activity during September-October 2019. Very little activity was reported during September 2019. Seismicity remained low with only 32 earthquakes reported during the month, and inflation, which had continued after the 11-15 August eruption, stopped at the beginning of September. Inflation resumed on 11 October. Two seismic swarms were recorded during October 2019. The first, on 21 October (207 events), lasted for about 40 minutes, and did not result in an eruption. The second began on 25 October and consisted of 827 events. It was followed by an eruption during 25-27 October located on the SSE flank of the Dolomieu cone. Deformation followed a similar pattern as it had during and prior to the eruptive events of July and August. Inflation of a few centimeters between 11 and 24 October was followed by rapid inflation of about 10 cm at the onset of the new eruption. Inflation resumed again after this eruption as well.

Two fissures opened during the 25-27 October eruption, one at 1,060 m elevation and one at 990 m. The first fissure was no longer active when viewed during an overflight 2.5 hours after it had opened. The flows moved rapidly until reaching the lower slope areas of the Grand Brule about 1.5-2 km downstream of the "Piton Tremblet" area. On 26 October only one vent was active with fountains 10-20 m high (figure 190). The lava discharge rates during the eruption averaged about 14 m3/s. The eruption ended at 1630 local time on 27 October after one hour of "gas piston" activity (figure 191). A total of about 1.8 million m3 of lava was emitted. The flows from the 990 m elevation site reached a maximum length of 3.6 km, and the lava flow front stopped about 230 m before reaching the RN2 National road (figure 192).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 190. On 25 October 2019 the front of the active flow at Piton de la Fournaise had reached the level of the Piton Tremblet by 1700 local time (left). Image by PGHM (Bulletin d'activité du 25 octobre 2019 à 18h00, Heure locale). The following day, the active vent had lava fountains 10-20 m high (right) (Bulletin d'activité du samedi 26 octobre 2019 à 11h00, Heure locale). Courtesy of OVPF/IPGP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 191. The eruptive site of the 25-27 October 2019 eruption at Piton de la Fournaise had one flow still active on 27 October with 10-20 m high lava fountains (left). The flow front stopped that day a few hundred meters before the National Road (right). Courtesy of OVPF/IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du dimanche 27 octobre 2019 à 12h00, Heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 192. The location of the 25-27 October 2019 lava flow at Piton de la Fournaise started at the very base of the SSE flank of Dolomieu cone and traveled 3.6 km E towards the Highway and the coast. Basemap from Google Earth, fissures (red) and flows (in white) derived from aerial photos. Courtesy of OVPF-IPGP (Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory, October 2019).

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 (OVPF-IPGP), 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/).


Agung (Indonesia) — November 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Agung

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Quiet returns after explosions on 10 and 13 June 2019

After a large, deadly explosive and effusive eruption during 1963-64, Indonesia's Mount Agung on Bali remained quiet until a new eruption began in November 2017 (BGVN 43:01). Activity continued throughout 2018 with explosions that produced ash plumes rising multiple kilometers above the summit, and the slow effusion of the lava within the summit crater. Increasingly frequent and intense explosions with ash emissions and incandescent ejecta characterized activity during February through May 2019 (BGVN 44:06). Two more explosions in June 2019 produced significant ash plumes; no further explosive activity occurred through October 2019. Information about Agung comes from Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), also known as the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and multiple sources of satellite data. This report covers the end of the eruption in June and observations through October 2019.

After a large explosion on 31 May 2019, a smaller event occurred on 10 June. Another large explosion with an ash plume that rose to 9.1 km altitude was recorded on 13 June (local time). It drifted hundreds of kilometers before dissipating. No further explosive activity was reported through October 2019, only diffuse white steam plumes rising at most a few hundred meters above the summit. The Alert Level remained at III (of four levels) throughout the period. The record of thermal activity showed an increase during the explosive events of late May and June, but then decreased significantly (figure 57). There was no obvious thermal signature in satellite images that explained the small increase in thermal energy recorded by the MIROVA data at the end of August 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. The thermal energy at Agung increased significantly during the explosive events of late May and early June 2019, and then decreased substantially as seen in this MIROVA graph from 23 January through October 2019. There was no obvious satellite thermal signature to explain the brief increase in thermal energy in late August. Courtesy of MIROVA.

On 31 May 2019 a large explosion produced an ash plume that rose more than 2 km above the summit (BGVN 44:06, figure 56). The Darwin VAAC reported that it split into two plumes, one drifted E at 8.2 km and the other ESE at 6.1 km altitude, dissipating after about 20 hours early on 1 June. A small eruption with an ash plume that rose to 3.9 km altitude was reported the next day by the Darwin VAAC. It was detected in the webcam and pilot reports confirmed that it drifted E for a few hours before dissipating. PVMBG reported gray emissions to 300 m above the peak on 1 June and 100 m above the summit on 2 June. By 6 June the emissions were white, rising only 50 m above the summit. For several subsequent days, the summit was covered in fog with no observations of emissions.

On 10 June 2019 an explosion lasting 90 seconds was reported at 1212 local time; PVMBG noted a gray ash plume 1,000 m above the summit (figure 58). The Darwin VAAC confirmed the emission in satellite imagery and by pilot report; it was moving SW at 4.3 km altitude and then drifted S before dissipating by the end of the day. Early on 13 June local time (12 June UTC) a new explosion that was clearly visible in the webcam produced a large ash plume that drifted W and SW (figure 59). The explosion was recorded on the seismogram for almost four minutes and sent incandescent ejecta in all directions up to 700 m from the summit. The first satellite imagery of the plume reported by the Darwin VAAC suggested the altitude to be 9.1 km. A secondary plume was drifting W from the summit at 5.5 km altitude a few hours later. By six hours after the eruption, the 9.1 km altitude plume was about 90 km SSW of the Denpassar airport and the 5.5 km altitude plume was about 110 km W of the airport. By the time the higher altitude plume dissipated after about 14 hours, it had reached 300 km S of the airport. For the remainder of June, only diffuse white steam plumes were reported, rising generally 30-50 m above the summit, with brief pulses to 150-200 m during 27-29 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. An ash plume rose 1,000 m above the summit of Agung on 10 June 2019. Top image courtesy of Rita Bauer (Volcano Verse), bottom image courtesy of PVMBG (Information on G. Agung Eruption, 10 June 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. A large eruption at Agung at 0138 local time on 13 June 2019 sent an ash plume to 9.1 km altitude and incandescent ejecta 700 m in all directions. Courtesy of Jaime S. Sincioco, screenshot from volcano YT webcam.

Although no further surface activity was reported at Agung during July through October 2019, PVMBG kept the Alert Level at III throughout the period. Only steam plumes were reported from the summit usually rising 50 m before dissipating. Steam emissions rose to 150 m a few times each month. Plumes were reported at 300 m above the summit on 6 July and 15 August. No thermal anomalies were visible in Sentinel 2 satellite images during the period.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); 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/); Rita Bauer, Volcano Verse (Twitter @wischweg, URL: https://twitter.com/wischweg/status/1137956367258570752); Jamie S. Sincioco, Philippines (Twitter @jaimessincioco, URL: https://twitter.com/jaimessincioco/status/1139109685796020224).


Copahue (Chile-Argentina) — November 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Copahue

Chile-Argentina

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New ash emissions begin in early August; intermittent and ongoing through October 2019

Most of the large edifice of Copahue lies high in the central Chilean Andes, but the active, acidic-lake filled El Agrio crater lies on the Argentinian side of the border at the W edge of the Pliocene Caviahue caldera. Infrequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the 18th century. The most recent eruptive episode with ash plumes lasted from early June 2017 to early December 2018. After 8 months of quiet, renewed phreatic explosions and ash emissions began in August 2019 and were ongoing through October 2019. This report summarizes activity from January through October 2019 and is based on reports issued by Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN) Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), satellite data, and photographs from nearby residents.

Intermittent steam plumes were reported from the El Agrio crater at the summit during January-July 2019, but no ash emissions were seen. An increase in seismicity and changes in the crater lake level during March led SERNAGEOMIN to increase the Alert Level from Green to Yellow at the beginning of April. Fluctuating tremor signals in the first week of August coincided with satellite imagery that showed the appearance of dark material, possibly ash, on the snow around the summit crater. The first thermal anomaly appeared on 3 September and the first clear ash explosions were recorded on 11 September. Eruptive activity was intermittent through the end of the month; a series of larger explosions beginning on 30 September caused SERNAGEOMIN to raise the Alert Level from Yellow to Orange. A period of more intense explosive activity lasted through the first week of October. The larger explosions then ceased, but during the rest of October there were continuing observations of seismicity, ash emissions, and incandescent ejecta, along with multiple thermal anomalies in the summit area.

Observations during January-April 2019. Copahue remained at Alert Level Yellow with a 1-km exclusion radius during January 2019 after ash emission in December 2018. Ongoing degassing was reported with white plumes from El Agrio crater rising to 355 m (figure 25). The Alert Level was lowered to Green at the end of the month, and the exclusion radius was reduced to 500 m, although intermittent low-level seismicity in the region continued. SERNAGEOMIN reported a M 3.2 earthquake about 10 km NE of the summit, 2 km deep, on 29 January 2019. The acidic lake inside El Agrio crater was quiet at the end of the month (figure 26).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Degassing of steam from Copahue on 10 and 17 (inset) January 2019. Courtesy of OPTIC Neuquén (10 January) and SERNAGEOMIN (17 January).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. El Agrio crater at Copahue on 31 January 2019. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue.

Steam plumes occasionally rose to 180 m above the crater during February 2019. A swarm of 117 volcano-tectonic (VT) seismic events on 22-23 February 2019 was located about 14 km NE of the volcano, with the largest events around a M 3.5. Steam plumes rose to about 280 m above the crater during March. SERNAGEOMIN noted an increase in seismicity during the month, and a decrease in the lake level within El Agrio crater. This led them to increase the Alert Level to Yellow (second on a four-level scale) at the beginning of April. Emissions remained minimal during April (figure 27); an 80 m high steam plume was reported on 4 April. The lake level continued to fall, based on satellite imagery, and a M 3.1 earthquake was reported on 29 April located about 10 km NE of the summit about 10 km deep.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Clear skies revealed no activity from the summit of Copahue on 7 or April 2019. The volcano was quiet throughout the month, although the Alert Level remained at Yellow. Image taken near Caviahue, 10 km E in Argentina. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue.

Observations during May-July 2019. Sporadic episodes of low-altitude steam plume degassing were noted during May 2019, but otherwise very little surface activity was reported (figure 28). On 13 May, a steam plume reached 160 m above the crater rim, and on 28 May, the tallest plume rose 200 m above the crater. Hybrid-type earthquakes were recorded early in the month, followed by a slow increase in the amplitude of the tremor signal. Seismicity increased slightly during the second half of the month with activity concentrated closer to the summit crater. A weak SO2 plume was recorded by satellite instruments on 23 May. The level of the lake began increasing during the second half of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. No surface activity was visible at Copahue on 5 May 2019, but seismicity increased slowly during the month. Image taken near Caviahue. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue.

SERNAGEOMIN reported tremor signals with fluctuating amplitude throughout June 2019. Repeated episodes of low-altitude white degassing occurred around the El Agrio crater. On 7 June, a 300 m plume was observed above the crater; the level of the crater lake was variable. On 17 June a 400-m-tall white plume was observed above the crater. Seismicity, although low, increased during the second half of the month. Multiple episodes of low-altitude white degassing occurred around the active crater all during July 2019 (figure 29). On 9 July a plume rose about 450 m above the crater. On 16 July a white plume rose 250 m above the crater. SENAGEOMIN noted a rise in the rate of seismicity during the first half of the month; the tremor signal continued with fluctuating amplitude. Satellite instruments detected small SO2 plumes on 4 and 9 July (figure 30).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. A steam plume rose a few hundred meters above the summit of Copahue on 23 July 2019. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. The TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite detected small SO2 plumes at Copahue on 4 and 9 July 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Activity during August-October 2019. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery from 2, 4, 7, and 9 August suggested the ejection of particulate material (figure 31), with dark streaks in the snow extending a few hundred meters E and SE from the crater. Images from the community of Caviahue on 3 and 4 August show distinct discoloration of the snow around the E side of the summit crater (figures 32 and 33). Small but discernible SO2 plumes were detected by satellite instruments on 2, 3, 16, 19, 30, and 31 August. Fluctuating tremor signals continued during August with several episodes of low-altitude white degassing from the El Agrio crater; a white plume on 5 August rose 380 m above the crater. The lake level continued to drop and the Alert Level remained at Yellow.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Sentinel 2 satellite imagery of Copahue from late July and early August 2019 show fresh dark material deposited over the fresh winter snow, suggesting recent ejecta from the El Agrio crater. Top left: The summit was covered with fresh snow on 25 July 2019. Top right: A dark streak extends E then N from the El Agrio crater on 2 August. Bottom left: A streak of dark material trends SE from the crater over the snow on 4 August. Bottom Right: On 7 August a different streak extends E from the crater while fresh snow has covered the earlier streak. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. At sunset on 3 August 2019, darker material was visible on the snow on the E side of the summit of Copahue; a dense steam plume rose from El Agrio crater. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Particulates covered the fresh snow near the summit of Copahue on 4 August 2019, as seen from the community of Caviahue, about 10 km E. A steam plume rose from El Agrio crater. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue.

Distinct SO2 plumes were again captured by satellite instruments on 1, 3, and 5-7 September 2019 (figure 34). The first thermal signature in nine months also appeared in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 3 September (figure 35). Midday on 9 September, seismometers recorded an increase in the amplitude of a continuous tremor. High clouds prevented clear views of the crater and no ash emissions were observed. Beginning on 11 September, low-energy long-period (LP) events were associated with infrasound signals and low-energy explosions that produced small ash plumes. The largest explosion produced a plume 250 m above the crater. Incandescence and high-temperature ejecta were observed around the emission point. The ash drifted ESE about 3 km. Ten explosions were reported between 11 and 12 September, associated with low-intensity acoustic signals and ash emissions. Plumes reached 430 m above the crater rim on 12 September. Ash deposits on the snow were visible in in Sentinel-2 images on 11 and 13 September, extending about 6 km E from El Agrio crater (figure 35). Images from the ground on 12 September indicated fresh ash on the E flank (figure 36).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Small but distinct SO2 plumes from Copahue were measured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5P satellite on 1 and 3 September 2019, and additionally on 5-7 September. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Sentinel-2 satellite images indicated thermal activity and ash emissions at Copahue on 3, 11, and 13 September 2019. Left: The first thermal anomaly in nine months appeared on 3 September. Middle: An ash streak trended E across the snow from El Agrio crater on 11 September. On 13 September, the streak was a wider cone that extended ESE for about 6 km. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Ash deposits coated snow on the E flank of Copahue on 12 September 2019, while a steam plume drifted SE from the crater, as seen from the community of Caviahue about 10 km E in Argentina. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue.

Although fresh snow had covered any ash deposits by 16 September 2019 (figure 37), small thermal anomalies appeared in Sentinel-2 imagery on 16 and 21 September. SO2 plumes were measured by satellite instruments on 21 and 25 September. Photos from Caviahue on 25 September showed ash on the E flank and a steam-and-ash plume drifting NE (figure 38). Ashfall on the snow was visible in satellite imagery on 26 September, and covered a larger area on 28 September; there was also a substantial thermal anomaly that day (figure 39).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Fresh snow had covered over recent ash emissions at Copahue by 16 September 2019; thermal anomalies were detected in satellite data from the summit crater the same day. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. On a clear 25 September 2019 fresh ash covered snow on the E flank of Copahue, and an ash and steam plume was drifting NE from the El Agrio crater. The mountains are reflected in Lago Caviahue located about 12 km E in Argentina. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Sentinel-2 imagery of Copahue on 28 September showed ashfall in a large area around the summit and a small ash plume (left); a substantial thermal anomaly was also visible within the El Agrio crater (right). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During the late afternoon of 30 September, three high-energy LP earthquakes were reported located 5.8 km NE of the El Agrio crater. They were accompanied by abundant lower energy earthquakes in the same area. The VT earthquakes were equivalent to a M 3.5. Inhabitants of Caviahue (12 km E) reported feeling several of the events; atmospheric conditions prevented observation of the summit. This sudden increase in seismicity prompted SERNGEOMIN to raise the Alert Level to Orange and increase the radius of the area of potential impact to 5 km. Seismicity (VT, LP and tremor earthquakes) continued at a high rate into 1 October. Argentina's geologic hazards and mining agency, Servicio Geologico Minero Argentino (SEGEMAR) also issued a notice of the increased warning level on 30 September (figure 40).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. A dense steam plume rises from the active crater at Copahue in this image looking due E towards Caviahue and Lago Caviahue, 12 km E. The rim of the Caviahue caldera is in the distance. Argentina's SEGEMAR posted this photograph (undated) with their notice of the increase in warning level on 30 September 2019. Courtesy of SEGEMAR.

Cameras near the volcano detected ash plumes associated with explosions around the crater at 0945 on 1 October 2019 which continued throughout the first week of the month. Satellite imagery showed streaks of dark ash over snow trending SE and E and from the summit on 1 and 8 October (figure 41). Five separate explosions were recorded during 1-2 October. Persistent degassing was accompanied by episodes of ash emissions and incandescence at night. Seismicity continued during 2-3 October, but poor weather mostly obscured visual evidence of activity; a few pulses of white and gray emissions were observed. Seismic events were located 5-7 km NE at a depths of 0.7-1.7 km, and continued for several days. Clearer skies on 4 October revealed steam plumes and pulses of ash rising from El Agrio crater. Incandescence was visible at night. A ground-based image showed ash covering the E flank and an ash plume drifting NE down the flank (figure 42). The Buenos Aires VAAC reported weak ash emissions on 4 October moving NE at 3.4 km altitude. The webcam showed continuous ash emission from the summit during 4-5 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of Copahue showed dark streaks trending SE and E from the summit in early October. On 1 October 2019 (left) there was a narrow streak of ash to the SE and a steam plume drifting the same direction. On 8 Octobe0r (right), a wide cone of ashfall covered the E flank, and a plume of gray ash drifted NE over the edge of the deposit. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Gray ash covered areas of Copahue's E flank on 4 October 2019 and an ash plume drifted NE down the flank. Image from Caviahue, about 10 km E. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue.

White steam plumes with pulses of ash and incandescence at night were observed on 5 and 6 October. Seismic activity decreased on 6 October. The following day, SERNAGEOMIN lowered the Alert Level to Yellow and reduced the restricted zone to 1,000 m around the summit crater. While seismicity had decreased, ash emissions continued from low-level pulsating explosions which produced ash plumes that drifted E (figure 43). They observed that the total area to that date affected by ashfall was about 24.5 km2, extending up to 5 km W and 6 km E from the summit. They also noted that a pyroclastic cone about 130 m across had appeared inside the crater. Ash emissions and explosions with incandescent ejecta continued during the second week of October (figure 44). A change in wind direction created a several-kilometer-long streak of ash trending SW from the summit by 13 October; a strong thermal anomaly that day indicated continued activity (figure 45). SO2 plumes were recorded by satellite instruments on 1, 3, 4, and 13 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Ash and steam drifted E from the summit of Copahue on 7 October 2019, the day that SERNAGEOMIN lowered the Alert Level from Orange to Yellow. Courtesy of SEGEMAR.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Incandescent ejecta was visible at the summit of Copahue overnight on 11 October 2019 in the image from a local webcam. Courtesy of Culture Volcan.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. A new dark streak of ash on snow trended SW from the El Agrio crater at Cophahue on 13 October 2019. The strong thermal anomaly the same day indicated the level of eruptive activity was still high. Natural color image based on bands 4,3, and 2; Atmospheric penetration rendering based on bands 12, 11, and 8a. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Seismicity continued for the rest of October, but no explosions were recorded. Sulfur dioxide emissions were recorded by satellite instruments on 18, 22, 23, and 30 October (figure 46). When weather permitted, constant degassing with episodes of ash emissions from the crater were visible during the day and incandescence appeared at night. Satellite imagery on 18, 23, and 28 October showed substantial ash plumes drifting in different directions from the summit. A large area around the summit crater was covered with dark ash on 18 and 23 October. Fresh snowfall had covered most of the area by 28 October, and the narrow dark streak trending SE underneath the ongoing ash plume was the only surface covered with material (figure 47). Distinct thermal anomalies appeared in satellite images on 16, 18, 23, and 31 October. A number of thermal alerts were recorded by the MIROVA system as well during the second half of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. The TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite recorded SO2 emissions from Copahue on 18, 22, 23, and 30 October 2019. Satellite imagery on also showed ash plumes on 18 and 23 October. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Distinct ash plumes and dark ashfall over snow on 18, 23, and 28 October 2019 at Copahue indicated ongoing eruptive activity (top row) through the end of the month. The large area of ash-covered snow visible on 18 and 23 October was covered with fresh snowfall by 28 October when the dense ash plume drifting SE left only a narrow dark trail of ashfall in the fresh snow underneath (right). Strong thermal anomalies were apparent on 18 and 23 October but obscured by dense ash on 28 October (bottom row). Natural color image based on bands 4, 3, and 2; atmospheric penetration rendering based on bands 12, 11, and 8a. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The highest plume noted by SERNAGEOMIN during the second half of the month rose 1,200 m above the crater on 22 October 2019 (figure 48). The Buenos Aires VAAC reported ash emissions from the summit visible in webcams almost every day in October. On 16 October, an ash plume was seen in satellite imagery moving SE at 3.4 km altitude under mostly clear skies; the webcam showed continuous ash emission. A faint plume was barely seen moving S in satellite imagery at 3.4 km altitude on 18 October; the webcam revealed continuous emission of gases and possible dilute volcanic ash. The VAAC reported ash emissions daily from 18-25 October. Drift directions varied from SE, moving to NE on 21-23 October, and back to E and SE the following days. The altitudes ranged from 3.0 to 4.3 km. On 20 October, the plume extended about 80 km SE. The ash appeared as pulses moving NE on 22 and 23 October at 4.3 km altitude. Emissions reappeared in satellite imagery on 28 and 30-31 October, drifting SE and NE at 3.4-3.7 km altitude; incandescence was visible overnight on 30-31 October from the webcam.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. A plume of ash and steam from Copahue rose 1,200 m above the summit on 22 October 2019 and drifted NE. It was clearly visible from 25 km SW of the volcano in the El Barco Indigenous community of Alto Biobío, Chile, along with ash-covered snow on the SW flank. Courtesy of EveLyN.

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: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN), Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Avda Sta María No. 0104, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/); OPTIC Neuquén, Oficina Provincial de Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación- Gobierno de la Provincia del Neuquén, Neuquén, Argentina (URL: https://www.neuqueninforma.gob.ar/tag/optic/, Twitter: @OPTIC_Nqn, https://twitter.com/OPTIC_Nqn); 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); Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue, Caviahue, Argentina (URL: https://twitter.com/valecaviahue, Twitter:@valecaviahue); Cultur Volcan, Journal d'un volcanophile, (URL: https://laculturevolcan.blogspot.com, Twitter: @CulturVolcan); EveLyn, Twitter: @EveCaCid (URL: https://twitter.com/EveCaCid/status/1186663015271321601).


Turrialba (Costa Rica) — November 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)


Activity diminishes during March-October 2019, but small ash emissions continue

This report summarizes activity at Turrialba during March-October 2019. Typical activity similar to that reported in late 2018 and early 2019 (BGVN 44:04) included periodic weak ash explosions and numerous emissions containing some ash. However, during this period activity appeared to diminish with time. Data were provided by weekly reports by the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA).

According to OVSICORI-UNA, only highly diluted ash emissions were recorded from 22 April to 27 May (note that no reports were available online from the last week of March until 22 April). Weak ash explosions were again noted on 28 July, 4 August, and possibly on 20 October. OVSICORI-UNA reported more explosions or emissions containing ash on 25 and 28 October (table 9).

Table 9. Summary of reported activity at Turrialba, March-October 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
01 Mar 2019 0444 200 m NE --
02-04 Mar 2019 -- 200-300 m -- Continuous emissions with minor amounts of ash.
09-12 Mar 2019 -- 1,000 m -- Gas plumes containing minor amounts of ash.
16-17 Mar 2019 -- -- -- Frequent and discontinuous emissions, but no visual confirmation due to poor visibility.
20-22 Mar 2019 -- 300 m W, SW Continuous emissions of steam with periodic pulses of diffuse ash; sulfur odor noted in Tierra Blanca de Cartago on 22 March.
23-26 Mar 2019 -- -- -- Steam plumes with low concentration of magmatic gases.
24 Mar 2019 0503 500 m -- Series of four pulses with ash.
31 Mar 2019 0735 -- -- Explosion followed by passive emissions with low concentration of magmatic gases. Seismicity dominated by low-frequency events.
08 Apr 2019 -- -- -- Minor ash emissions.
24 Apr 2019 -- -- -- Diffuse ash emission.
26 Apr 2019 -- -- N Emission with low ash content.
27 Apr 2019 0722 below 100 m -- Weak, brief explosion with ash plume.
04 May 2019 0524 -- -- Emission of very diluted ash.
12-19 May 2019 -- -- -- Passive, short-duration emissions with small amounts of ash occurred sporadically.
19-20 May 2019 -- -- -- Prolonged and intermittent periods of emissions with minor amounts of ash.
28 Jul 2019 1441 -- -- Weak explosion and ash emission after 30 minutes of heavy rain. Inclement weather prevented visual confirmation. Ashfall in La Picada (N) and El Retiro farms.
03-04 Aug 2019 -- -- -- Two small explosions, with some ash in the second.
11 Aug 2019 -- -- -- Weak emission during night, identified by its seismic signal. No ash emission observed.
05 Aug-19 Oct 2019 -- -- -- No ash detected.
20 Oct 2019 2100 -- -- Explosion identified with seismicity; weather conditions prevented visual observation. No ashfall reported.
25 Oct 2019 0400, 0700 -- -- Weak explosion at 0400, with ash. Ash at 0700 not associated with seismic signal, so could be a small intra-crater collapse.
28 Oct 2019 1500 -- -- Weak emission containing ash.

A report from Red Sismologica Nacional (RSN) about the 28 October ash explosion noted that it occurred at 1501 local time and lasted about 5 minutes. There were no reports of ashfall, but the crater webcam captured the small plume rising from the active vent. Incandescence in the active crater continued to be seen on the monitoring cameras.

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/).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 17, Number 11 (November 1992)

Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland

Aira (Japan)

Explosions and ash emission continue

Akan (Japan)

Continued seismicity but no change in thermal activity

Akutan (United States)

Small ash ejection

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Lava flows, Strombolian activity, and gas emission

Asosan (Japan)

Renewed block ejection; gas plume

Erta Ale (Ethiopia)

Lava lake active in S crater during first fieldwork in many years

Etna (Italy)

Lava emerges from tubes onto 1991-92 lava field; small summit ash ejections

Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba (Japan)

Smaller zone of discolored water; no new pumice

Galeras (Colombia)

Low-level seismicity, gas emission, and deformation

Irazu (Costa Rica)

Fumarolic activity continues

Karangetang (Indonesia)

Heavy rains prompt lahar warning

Kilauea (United States)

Lava flows extend 350 m into the ocean

Krakatau (Indonesia)

Incandescent tephra ejection; lava reaches sea

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Ash and incandescent tephra; possible new lava flow

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Strong explosions; pyroclastic flows; lava flows to sea

Merapi (Indonesia)

Pyroclastic flows from growing summit lava dome

Ontakesan (Japan)

Earthquake swarm but no change in gas emission

Orizaba, Pico de (Mexico)

Seismic monitoring finds little activity

Poas (Costa Rica)

Strong thermal activity in and around crater lake

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Fewer seismic events; uplift

Spurr (United States)

Continued seismicity and gas emission

Suwanosejima (Japan)

Frequent explosions; lava fountains

Tangkuban Parahu (Indonesia)

Increased seismicity but no surface changes evident

Unzendake (Japan)

Continued dome growth spawns more pyroclastic flows

Villarrica (Chile)

Spatter ejected from small summit vent; strong fumarolic activity



Aira (Japan) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions and ash emission continue

Fifteen seismically recorded explosions and five quiet ash eruptions occurred . . . in November . . . . Three of the 15 explosions produced incandescent columns, rising 300 m. The highest ash plume rose 3 km on 11 October at 1211. . . . Seismicity was relatively low, but one recorded swarm lasted 4.5 hours on 4 November.

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

Information Contacts: JMA.


Akan (Japan) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Akan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued seismicity but no change in thermal activity

Seismic activity . . . remained at relatively high levels through November. The monthly total of [319] shocks was down from 546 in October (figure 5); none were felt. Surface activity remained unchanged, with white steam rising to a few hundred meters.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Number of recorded earthquakes during 10-day periods at Akan, 1985-92. Arrows mark phreatic eruptions in 1988. Courtesy of JMA.

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

Information Contacts: JMA.


Akutan (United States) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Akutan

United States

54.134°N, 165.986°W; summit elev. 1303 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small ash ejection

A small ash cloud . . . rose to a maximum altitude of 1.8 km (several hundred meters above the summit) shortly after 1445 on 18 December. The plume was carried ~20 km N, then rapidly dissipated.

Geologic Background. One of the most active volcanoes of the Aleutian arc, Akutan contains 2-km-wide caldera with an active intracaldera cone. An older, largely buried caldera was formed during the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Two volcanic centers are located on the NW flank. Lava Peak is of Pleistocene age, and a cinder cone lower on the flank produced a lava flow in 1852 that extended the shoreline of the island and forms Lava Point. The 60-365 m deep younger caldera was formed during a major explosive eruption about 1600 years ago and contains at least three lakes. The currently active large cinder cone in the NE part of the caldera has been the source of frequent explosive eruptions with occasional lava effusion that blankets the caldera floor. A lava flow in 1978 traveled through a narrow breach in the north caldera rim almost to the coast. Fumaroles occur at the base of the caldera cinder cone, and hot springs are located NE of the caldera at the head of Hot Springs Bay valley and along the shores of Hot Springs Bay.

Information Contacts: AVO.


Arenal (Costa Rica) — November 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 flows, Strombolian activity, and gas emission

Lava production, intermittent Strombolian activity, and gas emission continued from the active summit-area crater (C). Activity continues to build a lava delta on the WSW slope. The most recent flow continued to advance through pre-existing channels, reaching 855 m elevation on 5 December, near the terminus observed in May. The flow was ~200 m wide and 10 m thick. Temperatures of the crust at the flow front reached 480°C, but the red interior exceeded 800°C. Blocks overflowed levees on both sides of the other lobe's channel, where it was obstructed at ~1,100 m elevation. Occasional pyroclastic flows left deposits on the W and SW flanks.

Ash ejected by the Strombolian activity occasionally rose >1 km above the crater and was carried by winds onto the NW, W, and SW flanks (table 5). Blocks and bombs fell on the upper flanks, to 1,000 m elevation. As usual, the more intense explosions vibrated windows of houses in La Fortuna, 6.5 km E. Between 14 and 22 November, the rate of audible pyroclastic activity monitored from the Arenal Observatory lodge . . . averaged 120 events/day (figure 51).

Table 5. Deposition rates, volume, and size distributions of ash collected 1.8 km W of Arenal's active crater, at 735 m elevation, 23 April-5 December, 1992. Courtesy of ICE.

Dates g/m2 (g/m2)/day Medium to very coarse ash Fine ash to dust
23 Apr-12 May 1992 -- 4.3 0 100%
12 May-10 Jun 1992 538 20.1 34.7% 65.3%
10 Jun-24 Jun 1992 174 12.4 46.4% 53.6%
24 Jun-19 Jul 1992 457 17.6 51.8% 48.2%
19 Jul-25 Aug 1992 559 15.1 46.7% 53.3%
25 Aug-09 Sep 1992 106 7.1 37.0% 63.0%
09 Sep-23 Sep 1992 183 13.1 33.3% 66.7%
23 Sep-14 Oct 1992 -- 36.2 49.3% 50.7%
14 Oct-05 Nov 1992 -- 33.7 55.1% 44.9%
05 Nov-05 Dec 1992 -- 14.6 51.1% 48.9%
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Average daily number of pyroclastic events at Arenal, during 16 approximately 10-day periods, 1987-92. Event types are characterized by sound: "whooshes" are intense gas, block, and bomb fountains; "chugs" are rhythmic, less intense gas emissions, commonly accompanied by blocks and bombs. Observations were made from Arenal Observatory lodge (2.8 km S of the summit) by Earthwatch and Smithsonian Volunteer Expeditions personnel. Courtesy of W. Melson.

Summit fumarolic activity remained vigorous, and gases were carried W by the trade winds. Vegetation on the NW, W, and SW flanks continued to be affected by acid rain, and falling blocks and bombs, as it has over the past 24 years. Steep slopes and high rainfall continued to trigger small cold avalanches in flank canyons (quebradas Guillermina and Calle de Arenas, and the río Agua Caliente).

In November, seismic activity averaged 25 events/day, with a maximum of 51 (on the 9th). Tremor activity had also declined somewhat.

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: G. Soto and R. Barquero, ICE; E. Fernández and J. Barquero, OVSICORI; W. Melson, SI.


Asosan (Japan) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Renewed block ejection; gas plume

No eruptions have been observed since a brief episode on 26 October from Crater 1. Ejections of mud, blocks, and water to 30 m height continued n the crater lake through November. Steam was steadily emitted to 500 m, reaching 1 km on 27 November (figure 22). Volcanic tremor and earthquake activity ere low. The area within 1 km of the crater . . . was re-opened on 12 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Steam-plume heights from Aso, May 1991-13 December 1992. Arrows mark explosive episodes. Courtesy of JMA.

Surface activity increased in December. Continuous low rumblings were heard beginning on 1 December, and on the 3rd, blocks were ejected to 200 m from the crater floor. An area of 1-km radius was again closed at 1400 on 3 December. Observations the following day revealed that a new vent (named 921) about 5 m across had developed in the central part of the crater floor, producing flames 10 m high and ejecting incandescent blocks to 5 m height. The ejections continued the next day, but activity was unconfirmed after 6 December. The continuous steam plume included minor ash 4-7 December but was white again on the 8th. The highest steam plume rose 1 km on 5 December but the plume was only a few hundred meters high after the 6th. Seismicity was relatively low, unchanged from November.

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.


Erta Ale (Ethiopia) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Erta Ale

Ethiopia

13.6°N, 40.67°E; summit elev. 613 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake active in S crater during first fieldwork in many years

Geologists climbed to the summit . . . on 10-11 November, for the first time in many years. Members of the group made the first known descent into the active S crater . . . (figure 4). The active pit-crater was >100 m in diameter, with vertical walls and a lava lake at 100 m depth (figure 5). A winch and ropes were used to descend the E wall on the morning of 11 November for a 2-hour visit. The 40 x 70 m lava lake occupied the W part of the crater. Air temperature at the bottom of the crater was 35°C, ~5°C cooler than the ambient temperature at the rim. Wearing gas masks, geologists approached to within 2 m of the lava lake. The lake was continuously active with 4-5-m-high lava fountains in four locations and rapid motion of the lake surface outward from the center. The N crater was confirmed to be inactive, with the bottom full of fallen rock, although there were two strong fumaroles on the S rim.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Summit caldera of Erta Ale, April 1972, showing the N and S craters. Lava spillways over the caldera rim are shown diagrammatically. Sketch by Jacques Varet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Diagrammatic plan view (top) and cross-section (bottom) of the active S crater at Erta Ale, November 1992. Courtesy of P. Vetsch.

Geologic Background. Erta Ale is an isolated basaltic shield that is the most active volcano in Ethiopia. The broad, 50-km-wide edifice rises more than 600 m from below sea level in the barren Danakil depression. Erta Ale is the namesake and most prominent feature of the Erta Ale Range. The volcano contains a 0.7 x 1.6 km, elliptical summit crater housing steep-sided pit craters. Another larger 1.8 x 3.1 km wide depression elongated parallel to the trend of the Erta Ale range is located SE of the summit and is bounded by curvilinear fault scarps on the SE side. Fresh-looking basaltic lava flows from these fissures have poured into the caldera and locally overflowed its rim. The summit caldera is renowned for one, or sometimes two long-term lava lakes that have been active since at least 1967, or possibly since 1906. Recent fissure eruptions have occurred on the N flank.

Information Contacts: P. Vetsch, M. Vigny, and A. Schussele, SVG, Switzerland; L. Cantamessa, Géo-découverte, Switzerland; G. Pareau, Assoc of Alpine Guides of Chamonix, France; P. Villemin and A. Curvelier, Gaumont Television, Paris, France.


Etna (Italy) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava emerges from tubes onto 1991-92 lava field; small summit ash ejections

Lava production became more vigorous during the first half of November, but seemed to be decreasing in early December, a year after the SE-flank eruption began. After emerging from the vent, lava initially flows through a single tube, with a surface trace (from ~2,210 to 1,980 m altitude) marked by at least five skylights. Lava then continues into a complex of tubes, emerging from numerous ephemeral vents (which varied daily in number and location) onto the extensive lava field that has developed in past months. On 9 December, the ephemeral vents formed a linear zone between 1,700 and 1,600 m altitude, feeding small flows that did not advance below 1,580 m. The larger flows advanced NNE on the N side of the lava field, while other flows moved mainly toward the E. After 361 days of activity, the eruption's total lava output was estimated at 255 x 106 m3.

Gas emission from the upper part of the eruptive fissure was less vigorous than in early November, with fluctuations linked to weather conditions. Small ash ejections from the central crater's W vent were observed, particularly during the first few days of December. Degassing from the summit craters was otherwise unchanged, and Northeast Crater remained obstructed. SO2 flux, measured by COSPEC, remained at high levels, ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 t/d and averaging ~8,000 t/d.

Between 13 November and 8 December, 140 microshocks were recorded at Etna, mainly in the summit area. Energy levels remained low and magnitudes did not exceed 2.9. Several small seismic swarms occurred. The most vigorous, on 28 November between 0624 and 0858, included 10 events of M 1.7-2.9 centered in the summit area. The number of shocks increased briefly 28-30 November, when 62 were recorded. No harmonic tremor was detected.

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: R. Romano and T. Caltabiano, IIV; P. Carveni, M. Grasso, and M. Porto, Univ di Catania; G. Luongo, OV.


Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba (Japan) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba

Japan

24.285°N, 141.481°E; summit elev. -29 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Smaller zone of discolored water; no new pumice

Overflights by the JMSA on 12 and 18 November revealed a smaller and weaker area of discolored water over the submarine volcano than on 10 November. The height and size of the dark plume seen by fishermen on 10 November are not known, nor is is known whether the plume contained tephra. Floating pumice was observed that day, but none has been reported since then.

Geologic Background. Fukutoku-Oka-no-ba is a submarine volcano located 5 km NE of the pyramidal island of Minami-Ioto. Water discoloration is frequently observed from the volcano, and several ephemeral islands have formed in the 20th century. The first of these formed Shin-Ioto ("New Sulfur Island") in 1904, and the most recent island was formed in 1986. The volcano is part of an elongated edifice with two major topographic highs trending NNW-SSE, and is a trachyandesitic volcano geochemically similar to Ioto.

Information Contacts: JMA; JMSA.


Galeras (Colombia) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Galeras

Colombia

1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Low-level seismicity, gas emission, and deformation

Seismicity, gas emission, and deformation were generally at low levels during November, although a swarm of 22 long-period events was recorded on the 10th. Most of the month's seismicity was thought to be associated with movement of fluids. Rock-breakage events were less frequent than in October, and were centered E of the active crater. Tremor episodes remained at low energy levels, with maximum durations and amplitudes of 287 seconds and 3.2 mm, respectively. SO2 flux measured by COSPEC ranged from 46 to 547 t/d, similar to October values.

Tilt data from [Crater Station] showed 6 µrad of deflation in November. A second station, 1.6 km E of the crater, measured 6 µrad of inflation during the first half of the month. A 40-µrad change registered by its tangential component during the second half of November may have been caused by local movements at the site.

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: F. Muñoz, INGEOMINAS—Observatorio Vulcanológico del Sur.


Irazu (Costa Rica) — November 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)


Fumarolic activity continues

Fumarolic activity continued from the lake in the main crater. The temperature of the "steaming ground" on the debris fans N of the lake was 92°C on 1 December, and fumaroles on the NE side of the lake were at 93°C. Lake temperature ranged from 19 to 24°C. All were similar to October values. Lake level was unchanged, as were temperature and pH of both hot and cold springs around the volcano.

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: G. Soto and R. Barquero, ICE.


Karangetang (Indonesia) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Heavy rains prompt lahar warning

Heavy rainfall has recently occurred on the S flank, where six farmers were killed by a pyroclastic flow in May (17:04). Local authorities were officially warned of the lahar hazard to farmers in the area. Activity at the volcano has declined to normal levels since August.

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: W. Modjo, VSI.


Kilauea (United States) — November 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 extend 350 m into the ocean

The eruption . . . continued through November. Most of the surface activity was near the coast below the E end of the Holei Pali, one of a series of prominent seaward-facing scarps on Kilauea's S flank. Lava flows were fed from E-51 vents on the W flank of Pu`u `O`o (figure 86). On 12 November, the lava-production rate was ~100,000 m3/day. Lava reached the sea on 8 November, entering the bay at Kamoamoa from several points along the new delta. Lava filled the bay and extended nearly 350 m into the ocean by late November. Violent littoral explosions were observed on 24 November at the Kamoamoa ocean entry. Explosive episodes lasting 20-45 minutes occurred at intervals of 15-90 minutes, sending tephra to nearly 90 m height during the most active periods. The last explosive activity (2015-2100) built a 7.5-m littoral cone in 10 minutes. Behind the active ocean-entry points, flows continued to cover new land, including the Kamoamoa campground, picnic area, and most of the remnants of Hawaiian archaeological sites in the area. Some small channelized aa flows were noted on Holei Pali. The Pu`u `O`o lava lake was rarely visible due to poor weather conditions, but appeared to be deep within the crater.

Eruption tremor remained at ~2x background level, with minor amplitude fluctuations in mid-November. Shallow, long-period microearthquake counts (LPC) were high on 12 November with 236 LPC-B (1-3 Hz) events, and on 19 November with 133 LPC-A (3-5 Hz) events. Swarms of LPC-C (5-13 km depth, 1-5 Hz) events were recorded at 1300 on 21 November (28 events) and between 0830 and 1300 on 22 November (39 events).

A helicopter carrying two movie cameramen crash-landed in Pu`u `O`o crater on 22 November. The pilot was rescued several hours later at the crash site, which the cameramen had left in an attempt to climb out of the crater. One man managed to climb out the next day, but the other spent 27 hours ~20 m below the rim before being rescued. He suffered from chemical pneumonia, inflammation of the lungs caused by sulfur dioxide, exposure, and dehydration. Rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather.

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; AP.


Krakatau (Indonesia) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

6.102°S, 105.423°E; summit elev. 155 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Incandescent tephra ejection; lava reaches sea

The eruption . . . was continuing in early December. Incandescent lava was ejected to 100-150 m height, with ash from intermittent explosions (at intervals of 3-32 seconds) rising 400-500 m. Explosion earthquakes remained frequent at 1,000-4,000/day, but no A- or B-type earthquakes have been recorded since 11 November. Lava flowed SE, and down the NE flank to the sea. Lava volume was ~5.5 x 106 m3, covering an area of ~2 x 106 m2. Tourists were advised not to visit the island until further notice.

Geologic Background. The renowned volcano Krakatau (frequently misstated as Krakatoa) lies in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. Collapse of the ancestral Krakatau edifice, perhaps in 416 or 535 CE, formed a 7-km-wide caldera. Remnants of this ancestral volcano are preserved in Verlaten and Lang Islands; subsequently Rakata, Danan, and Perbuwatan volcanoes were formed, coalescing to create the pre-1883 Krakatau Island. Caldera collapse during the catastrophic 1883 eruption destroyed Danan and Perbuwatan, and left only a remnant of Rakata. This eruption, the 2nd largest in Indonesia during historical time, caused more than 36,000 fatalities, most as a result of devastating tsunamis that swept the adjacent coastlines of Sumatra and Java. Pyroclastic surges traveled 40 km across the Sunda Strait and reached the Sumatra coast. After a quiescence of less than a half century, the post-collapse cone of Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau) was constructed within the 1883 caldera at a point between the former cones of Danan and Perbuwatan. Anak Krakatau has been the site of frequent eruptions since 1927.

Information Contacts: W. Modjo, VSI.


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — November 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)


Ash and incandescent tephra; possible new lava flow

"Activity at Langila's Crater 2 fluctuated in November. During periods of stronger activity, on 1-10, 15-17, and 23-26 November, moderate ash emissions occurred with eruption clouds rising several kilometres above the crater. This resulted in light ashfalls to at least 10 km downwind. At night, incandescent ejecta were visible in the eruption column. Detonations, roaring, and rumbling accompanied the activity. Between phases of stronger activity, white-grey, lightly ash-laden clouds were released less forcefully.

"For most of the month, Crater 3 released weak-to-moderate white-grey vapour-and-ash clouds. Blue vapour was also released. A brief phase of stronger activity took place 28-29 November when ash contents of the emissions were greater and eruption clouds rose several kilometres above the crater. There was an unconfirmed report of a new lava flow from Crater 3 on the 28th.

"Seismic activity appeared to reflect the visible fluctuating explosive activity at Crater 2. Up to 15 explosion earthquakes/day were recorded. During the brief phase of stronger Crater 3 activity, periods of harmonic tremor were recorded."

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

Information Contacts: C. McKee, RVO.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — November 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)


Strong explosions; pyroclastic flows; lava flows to sea

"Manam continued erupting during November, with a paroxysmal phase from Main Crater on the 5th-6th. Towards the end of October and in early November, Main Crater's emission column showed a progressive reduction in size from several kilometres to <1 km. On 3 and 4 November, white to pale-grey emissions with very low ash contents were seen. In inverse correlation with the reduction in eruption column size, seismic activity showed a steady increase.

"The increasing seismicity heralded a new phase of strong activity at Main Crater. A rapid intensification of Main Crater activity began about 1800 on 5 November, with strong emission of thick ash clouds. The ash column reportedly rose to ~7 km. Moderate-heavy ash and scoria fall occurred on the downwind (W) flank of Manam. Small pyroclastic flows were generated early in this phase, descending the NE valley and terminating 2-3 km from the coast. A lava flow succeeded the pyroclastic flows and reached the coast (5 km distance) at about midnight (figure 6). The lava advanced through part of a village on the S side of NE Valley, obliterating 14 houses and a number of food gardens. This lava flow was reportedly the fastest-moving of all of the flows produced during Manam's 1992 eruption. It had stopped moving at the coast by about 0300 on 6 November. There seems to have been a complex interplay between lava effusion and the generation of pyroclastic flows, as parts of the lava flow were overridden by pyroclastic flows produced during and after the effusive phase. These pyroclastic flows were unlike earlier ones in that they contained significant amounts of accessory lithics. Some of these blocks are as much as 8 m across. One very large block moved down the valley, leaving a trail of striations. A portion of this lithic material could have been vent-derived, but there is clear evidence that some of it was eroded from the lava flows flanking the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Sketch map of the September-October 1992 lava flows at Manam, and the lava flow and pyroclastic-flow desposits of 5-6 November in NE Valley, all from Main Crater. The NW Valley deposits, Southern Crater, and its deposits in SW and SE Valleys are not shown. Note that north is to the upper right. Courtesy of RVO.

"A second pulse of strong explosive activity from Main Crater took place early on 6 November. This activity was somewhat unusual in that it generated pyroclastic flows which, for the first time in this eruption, were directed over the high back-wall of the crater into the NW valley. These are the first pyroclastic flows to be emplaced in NW Valley since the very strong eruption of 1958. Unlike the flows erupted into NE Valley on 5 November, the NW Valley flows consisted almost entirely of vesiculated juvenile material. These flows were as much as 60 m wide and 5 m thick. At one point, ~550 m asl, where a flow had bifurcated into two parallel drainages, thin surge deposits (~10 cm total thickness) were found along the separating ridge. Where the main body of the flow had cascaded down a dry waterfall in the main drainage channel, arcuate pressure ridges had been formed. The terminus of the NW Valley pyroclastic-flow deposits is ~320 m asl, ~3.5 km from the summit.

"The strong eruptive phase had ended by about 0600 on 6 November. Seismic activity showed a good correlation with visible activity, peaking late at night on 5 November, then showing a subsidiary peak at about 0200 on 6 November. Seismic activity had reached a low level by 0800 on the 6th. Ash was still being emitted from Main Crater, however, and formed a column ~1 km high at 0900. Southern Crater was not involved in this activity and continued to gently release small amounts of white vapour.

"There were no additional strong eruptive phases at Main Crater through the remainder of the month. Ash and vapour continued to be emitted, forming a column up to ~1 km high for most of this period, although rarely the column was as much as 2 km high. Light ashfalls were reported in coastal areas downwind. Weak-to-bright glow from both craters was seen on most nights and small ejections of incandescent lava fragments were occasionally observed. At Southern Crater the emissions consisted of white and blue vapours in small-to-moderate volumes.

"Seismic activity following the eruption of 5-6 November was at a low level until the 14th, when it again began to increase. Seismicity stabilized at a moderate level on the 18th, then began declining on the 25th. At the end of the month, seismicity was stable at a low level.

"Aerial inspections of the summit showed that Main Crater is a shallow funnel-shaped structure with a high wall on its W side. Numerous fumaroles are present in the partial somma around the S side of the vent. Southern Crater is a smaller structure than Main Crater - topographic details were mostly obscured by emissions."

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

Information Contacts: C. McKee, RVO.


Merapi (Indonesia) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Merapi

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Pyroclastic flows from growing summit lava dome

The growing 1992 lava dome continued to generate incandescent pyroclastic flows. These advanced down the SW-W flank (along the upper Senowo, Sat, and Bebeng Rivers) to a maximum of 1 km from the base of the dome. White vapor rose 450 m above the dome's summit. SO2 emission measured by COSPEC (from Plawangan Observatory) was 120-230 t/d. No lahars were reported, although rainfall recorded at five volcano observatories around Merapi totaled 160-191 mm/week (in 10-17 episodes/week totaling 1,082-1,580 minutes) during the period ending in early December. No A- or B-type earthquakes have been detected at Merapi for the past 3 months. Multiphase events occurred at rates of 40-50/week, and avalanche tremors at 966-1,108 times a week.

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: W. Modjo, VSI.


Ontakesan (Japan) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Ontakesan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Earthquake swarm but no change in gas emission

A swarm of 40 small, shallow earthquakes, centered beneath the summit, were recorded between 1600 and 2000 on 12 November by a seismometer 2 km SE of the summit (figure 11). No change was recorded in the emission of steam, which has steadily risen to several tens of meters, and no volcanic tremor was recorded. This was the first increase in summit seismic activity since May 1991 when seismicity was accompanied by increased steaming and perhaps by minor ash ejection (Kazan, 1991).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Daily number of recorded earthquakes January 1990-December 1992.

Reference. Volcanic Activity in Japan during April-June 1991, 1991: Kazan, v. 36, no. 3, p. 385.

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

Information Contacts: JMA.


Pico de Orizaba (Mexico) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Pico de Orizaba

Mexico

19.03°N, 97.27°W; summit elev. 5564 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismic monitoring finds little activity

During four days of seismic monitoring at Pico de Orizaba (10-13 October), only a single A-type event was recorded by an analog seismic station at 4,680 m above sea level on the S flank. The M 2.7 shock, on 12 October at 0124, had an S-P of 1.5 seconds, consistent with a depth of 8 km. The station, a 1-component (Z) 1-second seismometer, was operated at 72 dB amplification at 0.3-30 Hz. No fumarolic activity was observed and crater morphology has remained unchanged since the team's initial observation in 1989. Geologists plan a continued monitoring program.

Geologic Background. Pico de Orizaba (Volcán Citlaltépetl), México's highest peak and North America's highest volcano, was formed in three stages beginning during the mid-Pleistocene. Orizaba lies at the southern end of a volcanic chain extending north to Cofre de Perote volcano and towers up to 4400 m above its eastern base. Construction of the initial Torrecillas and Espolón de Oro volcanoes was contemporaneous with growth of Sierra Negra volcano on the SW flank and was followed by edifice collapses that produced voluminous debris avalanches and lahars. The modern volcano was constructed during the late Pleistocene and Holocene of viscous andesitic and dacitic lavas, forming the current steep-sided cone. Repetitive explosive eruptions beginning during the early Holocene accompanied lava dome growth and lava effusion. Historical eruptions have consisted of moderate explosive activity and the effusion of dacitic lava flows. The latest eruption occurred during the 19th century.

Information Contacts: G. Pomposo, Benemérita University, Puebla; A. Martín del Pozzo, UNAM, México D.F.


Poas (Costa Rica) — November 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)


Strong thermal activity in and around crater lake

Summit rainfall caused variations in the level of the crater lake, which was lower in November and early December than in September and October, and below its level of the same time last year. Shrinkage of the lake exposed molten-sulfur deposits on its SE and N sides. Nearly continuous phreatic activity in the center of the lake sent material to 1-2 m height. The most active fumaroles were in an area of terraces N of the lake. Temperatures of the most accessible vents reached 129°C. Gas columns rose 500 m above the crater floor and were carried by the wind onto the W and SW flanks, where residents reported sulfur odors and scorched grasses. The lake temperature varied between 75 and 80°C in November, with a pH of 1.4. On 4 December, the lake color was yellow-green to sky-blue and its maximum measured temperature was 67°C. Fumarole temperatures on the 1953-55 dome did not exceed 85°C.

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: G. Soto and R. Barquero, ICE; E. Fernández and J. Barquero, OVSCIORI.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — November 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)


Fewer seismic events; uplift

"Seismic activity . . . remained at a low-moderate level during November, with 351 recorded caldera earthquakes . . . . The highest daily total of events was 36 on the 29th. Eleven earthquakes were located, distributed in the NE, N, and NW parts of the caldera seismic zone. Levelling measurements on 9 November indicated 13-16 mm of uplift at the S coast of Matupit Island since the previous measurements on 16 October. This uplift is believed to be associated with a small swarm of caldera earthquakes that occurred on 22 October. EDM measurements on 11 November indicated dilation of as much as 20 ppm in the Greet Harbor area since the previous survey, on 22 October."

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

Information Contacts: C. McKee, RVO.


Spurr (United States) — November 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)


Continued seismicity and gas emission

Occasional seismicity has continued at Mt. Spurr since the eruptive episode of 16-17 September. Earthquakes were concentrated in the vicinity of Crater Peak, the S-flank vent that has been the source of the 1992 activity. Focal depths from early November through early December ranged from above sea level to 44 km. In addition to the few locatable events per day, many small earthquakes that could not be precisely located were detected by one or more stations in the area. No strong swarms have occurred since 9-10 November, when a series of shallow events raised alert levels but did not culminate in an eruption. A number of episodes of low-amplitude tremor were recorded at some stations near Crater Peak 26-27 November.

Gas emission continued from Crater Peak, feeding a plume that sometimes rises to 3,300 m. Even though the plume's SO2 content has been below COSPEC detection limits since mid-October, sulfur gases could still be smelled. CO2 content remained above background at near 1,000 metric tons/day (table 1).

Table 1. Emission rates, in metric tons/day, of SO2 and CO2 at Spurr, 8 June 1991-15 November 1992; other events are noted for context. SO2 values, measured by COSPEC, are averages of 2-5 daily aerial observations, taken looking up through the plume. Measured SO2 flux decreased during tremor episodes 3-5 October. CO2 data are from direct plume samples analyzed with a Miran infrared spectrometer. Courtesy of AVO.

Date SO2 CO2
08 Jun 1991 21 --
22 Jul 1991 Very low Very low
21 Aug 1991 0 --
29 Aug 1991 0 --
03 Sep 1991 85 --
22 Nov 1991 0 --
14 May 1992 88 --
27 Jun 1992 Eruption
29 Jun 1992 5 --
18 Aug 1992 Eruption
10 Sep 1992 0 --
16-17 Sep 1992 Eruption
21 Sep 1992 23 --
23 Sep 1992 24 --
24 Sep 1992 79 --
25 Sep 1992 300 11,000
28 Sep 1992 194 12,000
29 Sep 1992 749 8,700
02 Oct 1992 452 --
03 Oct 1992 220 4,800
04 Oct 1992 212 3,500
05 Oct 1992 356 2,900
10 Oct 1992 243 --
14 Oct 1992 47 2,400
15 Oct 1992 64 --
16 Oct 1992 Low Low
19 Oct 1992 Background Background
23 Oct 1992 24 2,100
29 Oct 1992 Background Background
09 Nov 1992 Seismic swarm
10 Nov 1992 Background Background
11 Nov 1992 Background Background
12 Nov 1992 Background 1,100
13 Nov 1992 Background 1,000
15 Nov 1992 Background 1,000

Geologic Background. The summit of Mount Spurr, the highest volcano of the Aleutian 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. Eruptions from Crater Peak in 1953 and 1992 deposited ash on the city of Anchorage.

Information Contacts: AVO.


Suwanosejima (Japan) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent explosions; lava fountains

Explosive activity . . . ended by 4 November. Additional explosive activity with frequent detonations occurred on 19-22 November. Incandescent lava fountains were observed on the night of 21 November. No damage resulted.

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

Information Contacts: JMA.


Tangkuban Parahu (Indonesia) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Tangkuban Parahu

Indonesia

6.77°S, 107.6°E; summit elev. 2084 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased seismicity but no surface changes evident

Seismicity began to increase on 28 September. B-type earthquakes were continuing in early December, at rates of 47-204/week. None of the vents on the crater floor showed signs of unusual activity. Visitors are still advised to avoid descending to the bottom of the crater.

Geologic Background. Gunung Tangkuban Parahu is a broad shield-like stratovolcano overlooking Indonesia's former capital city of Bandung. The volcano was constructed within the 6 x 8 km Pleistocene Sunda caldera, which formed about 190,000 years ago. The volcano's low profile is the subject of legends referring to the mountain of the "upturned boat." The Sunda caldera rim forms a prominent ridge on the western side; elsewhere the rim is largely buried by deposits of the current volcano. The dominantly small phreatic eruptions recorded since the 19th century have originated from several nested craters within an elliptical 1 x 1.5 km summit depression.

Information Contacts: W. Modjo, VSI.


Unzendake (Japan) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Unzendake

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued dome growth spawns more pyroclastic flows

Lava extrusion continued to build dome 8 through mid-November. A depression 150 m across had developed in the center of the lava-dome complex by late October, with dome 8 at the SE edge. Dome growth was dominantly endogenous from mid-November through early December, as older blocks of lava were uplifted into mounds at the NNE and S edges of the depression. The S mound grew eastward and was divided by a NE-trending graben in which a new lava dome (dome 9) appeared on 3 December (figure 46). By 9 December, the dome had grown to ~ 200 m long, 100 m wide, and 30 m high. The light-gray lava from this vent was viscous, blocky, and developed a crude "peel structure" at the vent site. The SE mound near dome 9 continued to grow eastward as of mid-December, implying both endogenous and exogenous growth.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Sketch map of the lava dome complex on 9 December 1992. Note that N is to the right. Courtesy of S. Nakada.

Relatively small-scale pyroclastic flows from dome 8 traveled 1-2.5 km SE into the Akamatsu Valley in mid-November. Ash clouds from the flows rose 0.5-1 km. Small pyroclastic flows to the E and NE generated by the collapse of older lava blocks from the NNE mound sometimes overflowed from the middle of the Oshiga Valley into a northern valley. Rockfalls decreased in frequency during the period of endogenous growth from late November to early December, but resumed on the E sides of the mounds a few days after dome 9 appeared. The frequency of seismically detected pyroclastic flows declined on 13 November and remained at a low level (a few events/day) for more than a month. There were 255 recorded pyroclastic flows in November . . . .

Based on digital mapping by the Geographical Survey Institute, the volume of the lava dome complex is estimated at 47 x 106 m3, with 120 x 106 m3 of magma erupted since 20 May 1991. The volume of the complex is almost the same as in August, implying that the volume of collapsed lava blocks approximately equaled new magma production during this period. The average magma-supply rate from early August to mid-November was ~ 1.3 x 106 m3/day. Field observations suggest that the rate was as much as 2.5 x 106 m3/day in mid-August and declined to < 0.5 x 106 m3/day by late November. The rate increased to ~ 1 x 106 m3/day after extrusion of dome 9 in early December.

Gas emission decreased in November, but gases remained at a temperature of ~ 800°C, based on direct measurement by SEVO. Ash-laden eruption columns were observed in mid-November for the first time since early October. Small earthquakes beneath and within the dome complex continued to occur at rates of 100-400/day. A total of 4,865 earthquakes occurred in November, a significant increase from the 2,948 recorded in October. Seismicity continued at a similar rate through mid-December. The number of evacuees . . . has remained unchanged since being reduced to 3,017 on 9 September.

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.


Villarrica (Chile) — November 1992 Citation iconCite this Report

Villarrica

Chile

39.42°S, 71.93°W; summit elev. 2847 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Spatter ejected from small summit vent; strong fumarolic activity

Jeff Witter climbed Villarrica on 17 November and observed summit-crater activity for about an hour. The circular main crater, ~ 200 m in diameter and 100 m deep, had vertical sides and a flat floor covered by black spatter. Gas flux was vigorous and continuous from an incandescent pit, 5 m in diameter, ~ 20 m E of the center of the crater. At intervals of ~5-10 minutes, roughly 2 m3 of spatter were ejected from the pit to 15 m height. Sounds similar to ocean waves also emanated from the pit. After about 30 minutes of observations, a 2 m2 section of the crater floor collapsed, enlarging the pit. Five more glowing pits, none more than 0.5 m across, were visible along the E edge of the crater floor. No tephra was found on the surface of snow and ice in the summit area, although convection carried small scoria fragments to as much as 130 m above the crater floor.

Moderate fumarolic activity occurred from a 20 x 10 m area on the SW rim, and from a 10-m vent ~ 5 m N of the main crater rim. Gases were strong-smelling and caused a burning sensation in the eyes, nose, and lungs. Fumarolic activity appeared stronger the next day, when observations from the entrance to Villarrica National Park (~ 7 km away) revealed a white billowing vapor cloud enveloping the entire summit area.

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

Information Contacts: G. Fuentealba, Univ de la Frontera; J. Witter, Occidental College, Los Angeles.

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/).