Logo link to homepage

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

Aira (Japan) Ash plumes continue at the Minamidake crater from July through December 2018

Ibu (Indonesia) Thermal anomalies and ash explosions from the crater continue during May-November 2018

Masaya (Nicaragua) Lava lake activity continued from May through October 2018; lava lake lower than recent months

Sarychev Peak (Russia) Thermal anomalies, surface activity, and ash explosions during October-November 2017 and September-October 2018

Suwanosejima (Japan) Multiple explosive events with incandescence and ash plumes during November 2018

Etna (Italy) Lava flows emerge from NSEC in late August and late November 2018; Strombolian activity continues from multiple vents

Dukono (Indonesia) Regular ash explosions continuing as of September 2018

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) Ash plumes on 8 June, 21 September, and 5 October 2018

Langila (Papua New Guinea) Several weak ash plumes during June, September, and October 2018

Sangeang Api (Indonesia) Ongoing crater activity and thermal anomalies during September 2017-October 2018

Sheveluch (Russia) Thermal anomalies along with minor gas and steam emissions continue through October 2018

Gamalama (Indonesia) Weak explosion on 4 October 2018



Aira (Japan) — January 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes continue at the Minamidake crater from July through December 2018

Sakurajima is one of the most active volcanoes in Japan and is situated in the Aira caldera in southern Kyushu. It regularly produces ash plumes and scatters blocks onto the flanks during explosions. This report covers July through December 2018 and describes activity at the Minamidake crater, which has continued with the activity typically observed at Sakurajima volcano. In late 2017 the eruptive activity has migrated from being centered at the Showa crater, to being focused at the Minamidake crater. This change has continued into the later half of 2018. The following activity summarizes information issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the Japan Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and satellite data.

Activity from July through December 2018 was focused at the summit Minamidake crater with 8 to 64 ash emission events per month, with 50-60% being explosive in nature during four of the six months reported (table 20, figure 67). The maximum explosions per day was 64 on 31 August (figure 68). No pyroclastic flows were recorded during this time. Recent activity at the Showa crater has been declining and no activity was observed during the reporting period. Sakurajima has remained on Alert Level 3 on a 5-level scale during this time, reflecting the regular ash plumes and volcanic blocks that erupt out onto the slopes of the volcano during explosive events.

Table 20. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Sakurajima's Minamidake crater in Aira caldera, July-December 2018. The number of events that were explosive in nature are in parentheses. No events were recorded at the Showa crater during this time. Data courtesy of JMA (July to December 2018 monthly reports).

Month Ash emissions (explosive) Max. plume height above the crater Max. ejecta distance from crater
Jul 2018 29 (16) 4.6 km 1.7 km
Aug 2018 64 (37) 2.8 km 1.3 km
Sep 2018 44 (22) 2.3 km 1.1 km
Oct 2018 8 (0) 1.6 km --
Nov 2018 14 (2) 4 km 1.7 km
Dec 2018 56 (34) 3 km 1.3 km
Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. Satellite images showing ash plumes from Sakurajima's Minamidake summit crater (Aira caldera) in August, September, and November 2018. Natural color satellite images (bands 4, 3, 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Explosions per day at Sakurajima's Minamidake summit crater (Aira caldera) for July through December 2018. Data courtesy of JMA.

Activity through July consisted of 29 ash emission events (16 of which were explosive) producing ash plumes up to a maximum height of 4.6 km above the crater and ballistic ejecta (blocks) out to 1.7 km from the crater, but ash plumes were more commonly 1.2 to 2.5 km high. The largest explosive event occurred on 16 July, producing an ash plume up to 4.6 km from the vent and ejecting ballistic rocks out to 1.3-1.7 km from the crater (figure 69). On 17 July, sulfur dioxide emissions were measured at 1,300 tons per day, and on 26 July emissions were measured to be 2,100 tons per day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Ash plumes erupting from the Sakurajima Minamidake crater (Aira caldera) on 16 July 2018 at 1538 (upper) and 1500 (lower) local time. The ash plumes reached 4.6 km above the crater rim and ejected rocks out to 1.3-1.7 km from the crater. Higashikorimoto webcam images courtesy of JMA (July 2018 monthly report).

During August the Minamidake crater produced 64 ash emission events (37 explosive in nature) with a maximum ash plume height of 2.8 km above the crater, and a maximum ballistic ejecta distance of 1.3 km from the crater on 31 August (figure 70). Ash plumes were more commonly up to 1 to 2.1 km above the crater. Sulfur dioxide emissions were very high on 2 August, measured as high as 3,200 tons per day, and was measured at 1,500 tons per day on 27 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. Activity at Sakurajima volcano (Aira Caldera) in August 2018. Top: A gas-and-ash plume that reached 2.8 km above the crater at 1409 on 29 August. Bottom: Scattered incandescent blocks out to 1-1.3 km from the crater on the flanks of Sakurajima after an explosion on 31 August. Higashikorimoto and Kaigata webcam images courtesy of JMA (August 2018 monthly report).

Throughout September 44 ash emission events occurred, with 22 of those being explosive in nature. The Maximum ash plume height reached 2.3 km above the crater, and the maximum ejecta landed out to 1.1 km from the crater. An explosive event on 9 September ejected material out to 700 m away from the crater and on 22 September an event scattered blocks out to 1.1 km from the crater (figure 71).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Incandescent blocks on the flanks of Sakurajima volcano (Aira caldera) after an explosion on 22 September 2018 at 2025. The event scattered blocks out to 1.1 km from the Minamidake crater. Kaigata webcam image courtesy of JMA (September 2018 monthly report).

October and November were relatively quiet with regards to the number of ash emission events with only 22 events over the two months. The maximum ash plume heights reached 1.6 and 4 km, respectively. An observation flight on 22 October showed the currently inactive Showa crater restricted to minor fumarolic degassing, and steam-and-gas and dilute ash plume activity in the Minamidake crater (figure 72). An eruption on 14 November at 0043 local time produced an ash plume to over 4 km above the crater and scattered incandescent blocks out to over 1 km from the crater (figure 73). This was the first ash plume to exceed a height of 4 km since 16 July 2018. Two events occurred during 16-19 November that produced ash plumes up to 1.6 km. Sulfur dioxide measurements were 3,400 tons on 4 October, 400 tons on 17 October, 1,000 tons on 23 October, 1,100 tons on 6 November, and 1,400 tons on 20 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. Minor fumarolic degassing has occurred in Sakurajima's Showa crater (Aira caldera) and the vent has been blocked by ash and rock. The active Minamidake crater is producing a blue-white plume to 400 m above the crater and a dilute brown plume that remained within the crater. Images taken by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force 1st Air Group P-3C on 22 October 2018, courtesy of JMA (October 2018 monthly report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Eruption of Sakurajima (Aira caldera) on 14 November at 0043 local time ejecting incandescent blocks more than 1 km from the crater and an ash plume up to 4 km above the crater. Photos courtesy of The Asahi Shimbun.

Small ash plumes continued through December with 56 ash emission events, 34 of which were explosive in nature. The maximum ash plume height above the crater reached 3 km, and the maximum distance that ejecta traveled from the vent was 1.3 km, both during an event on 24 December (figure 74). An explosive event produced an ash plume that reached a height of 2.5 km above the crater and scattered ejecta out to 1.1 km from the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. An explosive event at 1127 on 24 December 2018 at Sakurajima's Minamidake crater (Aira caldera). The ash plume reached 3 km above the crater rim. Higashikorimoto webcam image courtesy of JMA (December 2018 monthly report).

Intermittent incandescence was observed at the summit at nighttime throughout the entire reporting period. Areas of elevated thermal energy within the Minamidake crater were visible in cloud-free Sentinel-2 satellite images (figure 75) and elevated temperatures were detected in MIROVA on a few days.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing the summit area of Sakurajima volcano, Aira caldera, in October 2018. The areas of elevated thermal activity (bright orange-red) are visible within the Minamidake crater. No thermal anomalies are visible within the Showa crater. Thermal (Urban) satellite images (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); 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/); The Asahi Shimbun (URL: http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201811140035.html accessed on 12 March 2018).


Ibu (Indonesia) — December 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Ibu

Indonesia

1.488°N, 127.63°E; summit elev. 1325 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal anomalies and ash explosions from the crater continue during May-November 2018

Continuing activity at Ibu has consisted of numerous thermal anomalies and, except apparently for the period from September 2017 through early March 2018, intermittent ash explosions (BGVN 43:05). This activity continued through November 2018. The Alert Level has remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to stay at least 2 km away from the active crater, and 3.5 km away on the N side.

Ash plumes were seen frequently during May-November 2018 (table 4). Plume heights above the crater were generally 400-80 m. However, ash plumes on 28 and 29 July rose 5.5 and 4.8 km, respectively. Seismicity associated with ash plumes were characterized by explosion and avalanche signals.

Table 4. Ash explosions reported at Ibu, May-November 2018. Data courtesy of PVMBG and Darwin VAAC.

Date Time Ash plume (height above crater rim) Plume Drift
05 May 2018 0622 600 m N, NE
06 Jun 2018 1206 500 m N
12 Jun 2018 1750 600 m N
14-19 Jun 2018 -- 200-600 m N
21 Jun 2018 0857 600 m N
22-26 Jun 2018 -- 850 m WNW, W
27 Jun 2018 -- 500 m W
06 Jul 2018 -- 800 m N
10-15 Jul 2018 -- 200-800 m --
28 Jul 2018 1852 5.5 km SE
29 Jul 2018 1612 4.8 km N, SE
13 Aug 2018 0259 600 m --
20 Aug 2018 1742 1.2 km --
24 Aug 2018 0838 800 m S
28, 30 Sep 2018 -- 500 m N, NE
06 Oct 2018 -- 500 m WSW
19 Oct 2018 1223 400 m N
26 Nov 2018 -- 500 m SE

The number of thermal anomalies during this time, based on MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm, ranged from 2 days/month (July) to 9 days/month (September); some events were two pixels. Days with anomalies and ash explosions were not well correlated. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) volcano hotspot detection system, also based on analysis of MODIS data, detected numerous hotspots every month of the reporting period, almost all of which were within 5 km of the volcano and of low-to-moderate power. Infrared satellite imagery showed that the volcano had at least two, and sometimes three, active dome or vent locations (figure 14).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Sentinel-2 satellite images of Ibu on 19 August 2018. Top image (infrared, bands 12, 11, 8A) shows a large central hotspot and a smaller thermal area immediately to the west. Bottom image (natural color, bands 8, 4, 3) shows both an ash plume (gray) and steam plume (white), along with fresh and older lava in the crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The truncated summit of Gunung Ibu stratovolcano along the NW coast of Halmahera Island has large nested summit craters. The inner crater, 1 km wide and 400 m deep, contained several small crater lakes through much of historical time. The outer crater, 1.2 km wide, is breached on the north side, creating a steep-walled valley. A large parasitic cone is located ENE of the summit. A smaller one to the WSW has fed a lava flow down the W flank. A group of maars is located below the N and W flanks. Only a few eruptions have been recorded in historical time, the first a small explosive eruption from the summit crater in 1911. An eruption producing a lava dome that eventually covered much of the floor of the inner summit crater began in December 1998.

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


Masaya (Nicaragua) — November 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake activity continued from May through October 2018; lava lake lower than recent months

Masaya is one of the most active volcanoes in Nicaragua and one of the few volcanoes on Earth to contain an active lava lake. The edifice has a caldera that contains the Masaya (also known as San Fernando), Nindirí, San Pedro, San Juan, and Santiago (currently active) craters. In recent years, activity has largely consisted of lava lake activity along with dilute plumes of gas with little ash. In 2012 an explosive event ejected ash and blocks. This report summarizes activity during May through October 2018 and is based on Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER) reports and satellite data.

Reports issued from May through July 2018 noted that Masaya remained relatively calm. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images show consistently high temperatures in the Santiago crater with the active lava lake present (figure 65).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing the detected heat signature from the active lava lake at Masaya during May-July 2018. The lava lake is visible (bright yellow-orange) and a gas-and-steam plume is visible traveling towards the W to SW. Thermal (urban) satellite images (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Reports from August through October 2018 indicated relatively low levels of activity. On 28 September the lava lake within the Santiago crater was observed with a lower surface than previous months. Fumarole temperatures up to 340°C were recorded (figure 66). Sentinel-2 thermal images show the large amount of heat consistently emanating from the active lava lake (figure 67). Sulfur dioxide was measured on 28 and 30 August with an average of 1,462 tons per day, a higher value than the average of 858 tons per day detected in February. Sulfur dioxide levels ranged from 967 to 1,708 tons per day on 11 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. FLIR (forward-looking infrared) and visible images of the Santiago crater at Masaya showing fumarole temperatures. The scale in the center shows the range of temperatures in the FLIR images. Courtesy of INETER (September 2018 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing the heat signature from the active lava lake at Masaya during August-October 2018. The lava lake is visible (bright yellow-orange) and a gas-and-steam plume is visible traveling towards the SW. Thermal (urban) satellite images (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Overall, activity from May through October 2018 was relatively quiet with continued lava lake activity. The thermal energy detected by the MIROVA algorithm showed fluctuations but were consistent (figure 68). The MODVOLC algorithm for near-real-time thermal monitoring of global hotspots detected 4-8 anomalies per month for this period, which is lower than previous years (figure 69).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Middle infrared MODIS thermal anomalies at Masaya for April through October 2018. The data show relatively constant thermal activity related to the persistent lava lake. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Thermal alerts for Masaya in May through October 2018. Courtesy of HIGP - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua (URL: http://webserver2.ineter.gob.ni/vol/dep-vol.html); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).


Sarychev Peak (Russia) — November 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Sarychev Peak

Russia

48.092°N, 153.2°E; summit elev. 1496 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal anomalies, surface activity, and ash explosions during October-November 2017 and September-October 2018

Located on Matua Island in the central Kurile Islands, Russia, Sarychev Peak (figures 19 and 20) had a significant eruption in June-July 2009 (BGVN 34:06, 35:09). Prior to this, a 1946 eruption resulted in the crater with a diameter and depth of approximately 250 m, with steep, sometimes overhanging crater walls. The N crater wall may have collapsed after a 1960 eruption, based on eyewitness accounts. A 1976 eruption included strong emissions and lava flows which resulted in a crater diameter of approximately 200 m and a floor 50-70 m below the rim. The eruption on 11-16 June 2009 encompassed more than ten large explosions, resulting in pyroclastic flows and ash plumes. The area of island covered by the June 2009 pyroclastic flows was more than 8 km2 (BGVN 34:06). Monitoring reports come from the Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) and the Sakhalin Island Volcanic Eruption Response Team (SVERT).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Photo looking into the crater of Sarychev Peak from the crater rim on 27 June 2017. Courtesy of V. Gurianov, Institute of Volcanology and Seismology FEB, RAS, KVERT.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Sentinel-2 satellite image (natural color, bands 4, 3, 2) of Sarychev Peak on 8 September 2017. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Thermal anomalies were noted by the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies over a period of five hours on 14 October 2017 in satellite data from Terra MODIS, S-NPP VIIRS, and Himawari-8; a plume of unknown composition accompanied the anomaly. A smaller thermal anomaly was present on 12 October, but not seen the following day during favorable viewing conditions. Another thermal anomaly was reported by SVERT on 21 October; views on other days that week of 17-23 October were obscured by clouds. On 7 November gas emissions and an elongated area of snow melt and potential thermal signature was visible on the N flank of the volcano (figure 21). On 8 and 13 November steam emissions were reported by SVERT and cloud cover prevented additional observations.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Sentinel-2 satellite images of Sarychev Peak on 7 November 2017. Top image (natural color, bands 4, 3, 2) shows a white plume rising from the summit crater and a dark area extending about 1.25 km NW on the snow-covered slopes. Bottom image (atmospheric penetration, bands 12, 11, 8A) shows hot areas (in orange) of volcano material near the summit within the dark area seen in visible imagery. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The volcano was usually cloud-covered after mid-November 2017 through mid-February 2018. A small white plume seen in Sentinel-2 imagery on 20 February 2018 was not accompanied by a noticeable thermal anomaly, and the island appeared completely snow-covered. No activity of any kind was seen on the next cloud-free images taken on 4 and 11 May 2018, when the summit crater was filled with snow.

KVERT noted in a September report that there had been a thermal anomaly periodically observed after 7 May 2018. Fumarolic plumes were visible on 5 and 18 June 2018 (figure 22). Thermal anomalies were present on 8 and 11-12 September. Moderate explosions were reported during 11-15 September 2018, with ash emissions rising 3-4 km. On 14 September ash plumes drifted as far as 120 km NNE and the Aviation Color Code was raised to Orange. Explosions on 17 September generated ash plumes that rose as high as 4.5 km and drifted 21 km NE. Additional ash plumes identified in satellite images drifted 265 km E during 17-18 September. The eruption continued through 21 September, and a thermal anomaly was again visible on 22 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Fumarolic activity at Sarychev Peak on 18 June 2018. Courtesy of FEC SRC Planeta, Institute of Volcanology and Seismology FEB RAS, KVERT.

Based on Tokyo VAAC data and satellite images, KVERT reported that at 1330 on 10 October 2018 an ash plume reached 1.7-2 km altitude and drifted 95 km E. SVERT reported that on 15 October an ash plume rose to 2.1 km altitude and drifted 65-70 km E. KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly was also identified in satellite images on 15 October. No further activity was seen through the end of October.

Thermal anomalies identified in MODIS data by the MIROVA system during October 2016-October 2018 occurred intermittently during the summer months each year (figure 23). However, most of those events were low-power and located several kilometers from the crater, so the heat source is unclear.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Thermal anomalies detected by the MIROVA system using MODIS data at Sarychev Peak for the year ending 18 October 2017 (top) and ending 24 October 2018 (bottom), plotted as log radiative power. Most of the events shown were located several kilometers from the summit crater. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. Sarychev Peak, one of the most active volcanoes of the Kuril Islands, occupies the NW end of Matua Island in the central Kuriles. The andesitic central cone was constructed within a 3-3.5-km-wide caldera, whose rim is exposed only on the SW side. A dramatic 250-m-wide, very steep-walled crater with a jagged rim caps the volcano. The substantially higher SE rim forms the 1496 m high point of the island. Fresh-looking lava flows, prior to activity in 2009, had descended in all directions, often forming capes along the coast. Much of the lower-angle outer flanks of the volcano are overlain by pyroclastic-flow deposits. Eruptions have been recorded since the 1760s and include both quiet lava effusion and violent explosions. Large eruptions in 1946 and 2009 produced pyroclastic flows that reached the sea.

Information Contacts: Sakhalin Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (SVERT), Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics (IMG&G) Far East Division Russian Academy of Sciences (FED RAS), 1B Science St., Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, 693022, Russia (URL: http://www.imgg.ru/); 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/); NOAA, Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1225 W. Dayton St. Madison, WI 53706, (URL: http://cimss.ssec.wisc.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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Suwanosejima (Japan) — January 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Multiple explosive events with incandescence and ash plumes during November 2018

Suwanosejima, an andesitic stratovolcano in Japan's northern Ryukyu Islands, was intermittently active for much of the 20th century, producing ash plumes, Strombolian explosions, and ash deposits. Continuous activity since October 2004 has produced intermittent explosions, generating ash plumes in most months that rise hundreds of meters above the summit to altitudes between 1 and 3 km. Ongoing activity for the second half of 2018 is covered in this report with information provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Activity during July-December 2018 was intermittent with explosions reported twice in September and 21 times during November. Incandescent activity was observed a few times each month, increasing significantly during November. Thermal data support a similar pattern of activity; the MIROVA thermal anomaly graph indicated intermittent activity through the period that was most frequent during October and November (figure 33). MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued once in September (9), three times in October (7, 21), and four times on 14 and 15 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. MIROVA thermal data for Suwanosejima from 7 February through December 2018 indicated intermittent activity at the summit that increased to more significant activity during October and November before declining by the end of the year. Courtesy of MIROVA.

There were no explosions at Suwanosejima during July or August 2018; steam plumes rose 900-1,000 m above the crater rim and incandescence was intermittently observed on clear nights. During September incandescence was also observed at night; in addition, explosions were reported on 12 and 13 September, with ash plumes rising 1,100 m above the crater rim. October was again quiet with no explosions, only steam plumes rising 800 m, and occasional incandescence at night, although thermal activity increased (figure 33).

More intense activity resumed during November 2018 with 21 explosions reported. On 9 and 14 November tephra was ejected up to 700 m from the Mitake crater. The Tokyo VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery at 2.4 km altitude moving E on 14 November. The next day, a plume was reported at 2.7 km altitude drifting NW but it was not visible in satellite imagery. JMA reported gray ash plumes that rose up to 2,000 m above the crater rim on 16 and 23 November (figure 34). The ash plume on 23 November was visible in satellite imagery drifting N at 2.7 km altitude. On 30 November the Tokyo VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite data drifting SE at 2.4 km altitude. Incandescence was often observed at night from the webcams throughout the month. Ashfall was confirmed in the village 4 km SSW on 14, 17, and 23 November, and sounds were reported on 20 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Ash plumes rose 2,000 m above the crater rim at Suwanosejima on 23 November 2018 as seen with the 'campsite' webcam. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary (November, 2018) of Suwanose Island).

During December 2018, no explosive eruptions were reported, but an ash plume rose 1,800 m above the summit on 26 December. Incandescence was observed on clear nights in the webcam. Throughout 2018, a total of 42 explosive events were reported; 21 of them occurred during November (figure 35).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Eruptive activity at Suwanosejima during 2018. Black bars represent heights of steam, gas, or ash plumes in meters above crater rim (left axis), gray volcanoes along the top represent explosions, usually accompanied by ash plumes, red volcanoes represent large explosions with ash plumes, orange diamonds indicate incandescence observed in webcams. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity of Suwanose Island in 2018).

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/).


Etna (Italy) — December 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava flows emerge from NSEC in late August and late November 2018; Strombolian activity continues from multiple vents

Italy's Mount Etna on the island of Sicily has had historically recorded eruptions for the past 3,500 years and has been erupting continuously since September 2013 through at least November 2018. Lava flows, explosive eruptions with ash plumes, and Strombolian lava fountains commonly occur from its summit areas that include the Northeast Crater (NEC), the Voragine-Bocca Nuova (or Central) complex (VOR-BN), the Southeast Crater (SEC) (formed in 1978), and the New Southeast Crater (NSEC) (formed in 2011). A new crater, referred to as the "cono della sella" (saddle cone), emerged during early 2017 in the area between SEC and NSEC and has become the highest part of the SEC-NSEC complex. Activity during late 2017 and early 2018 consisted mostly of sporadic Strombolian activity with infrequent minor ash emissions from multiple vents at various summit craters. Lava flow activity resumed in late August 2018 and again in late November and is covered in this report with information provided primarily by the Osservatorio Etneo (OE), part of the Catania Branch of Italy's Istituo Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologica (INGV).

After several months of low-level activity in early 2018, increases in Strombolian activity at several vents began in mid-July (BGVN 43:08). This was followed by new lava flows emerging from the saddle cone and the E vent of the NSEC complex in late August. Discontinuous low-intensity Strombolian activity and intermittent ash emissions were reported from multiple vents at various summit craters during September through November. In late November, renewed Strombolian activity and a new, small flow emerged from a small scoria cone inside the E vent of the NSEC crater and persisted through the end of the month. The MIROVA thermal anomaly correspond to ground observations of increased thermal activity at Etna beginning in mid-July, peaking in late August, and increasing again at the end of November 2018 (figure 222).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 222. MIROVA thermal anomaly graph for Etna from April through early December 2018 shows the increases in thermal activity from lava flows and increased Strombolian activity in late August and late November. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Low-energy Strombolian activity resumed at both of the Bocca Nuova BN-1 vents as well as the vents in the Northeast Crater (NEC) during the second week of July 2018 and continued throughout the month. The activity from BN-1 was nearly continuous, but not always visible; occasionally, lava fragments rose 100 m and could be seen outside of the crater rim. Intermittent ash emissions accompanied the Strombolian activity. Activity at NEC was characterized by strong and prolonged explosions (up to several tens of seconds), sometimes with reddish-brown ash emissions (figure 223). Three vents on the floor of NEC continued to widen due to collapse of the inner walls. A seismic swarm on 18-19 July was located between 4 and 9 km depth.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 223. Ash emissions from the Northeast Crater of Etna on a) 27 July and b) 28 July 2018 rose a few tens of meters and quickly dispersed. Left image by INGV personnel, right image by volcanology guide Francesco Ciancitto. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 31/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 23/07/2018 - 29/07/2018, data emissione 31/07/2018).

During a field inspection on 30 July INGV personnel noted activity at the three vents at the bottom of Northeast Crater; the farthest west produced ash emissions, the center produced steam, and the vent under the NE crater wall produced Strombolian activity that sent ejecta as high as the crater rim. Frequent ash emissions from NEC were observed on 3, 4, and 5 August. During the first week of August 2018 Strombolian activity also continued at BN-1 (figure 224). The webcam at Montagnola (EMOH) recorded incandescence at night from Bocca Nuova.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 224. Activity during the first half of August 2018 at Etna was concentrated at BN-1, the Northeast Crater (NEC), and the E vent of the New Southeast Crater (NSEC), shown in red. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 33/2018, ETNA, Weekly Bulletin, 08/06/2018 - 12/08/2018, issue date 08/14/2018).

After several months of calm, explosive activity also resumed at the E vent of the of the New Southeast Crater, high on the E flank, in early August. An explosion in the early morning of 1 August 2018 generated a gray-brown ash plume that rose several hundred meters above the summit (figure 225). Smaller emissions occurred throughout the day, and the EMOH camera recorded sporadic Strombolian explosions at night, which continued through the first week of August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 225. After several months of calm, a resurgence of explosive activity was observed at the E vent (formed 25 November 2015) on the high E flank of the New Southeast Crater. The activity started with an explosion at 0408 UTC (= local time -2 hours), and generated a gray-brown ash plume that rose several hundred meters above the top of the volcano (a, b). In the following hours other smaller ash emissions occurred, and in the evening, the EMOH camera recorded sporadic Strombolian explosions (c). This activity continued, with fluctuations in the frequency and magnitude of the explosions, for the rest of the month (d, e, f). Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 32/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 30/07/2018 - 05/08/2018, data emissione 07/08/2018).

Similar activity at BN-1, NEC, and the reactivated vent at NSEC continued through the second and third weeks of August. On 16 August 2018 a new vent opened in the BN-2 area on the E side of the Voragine (inactive since December 2015) and exhibited both degassing and Strombolian activity (figure 226). During that week Strombolian activity also continued at the NEC, but activity became more sporadic at the E vent of NSEC. During the last week of August, Strombolian activity and intense degassing continued in the western sector of Bocca Nuova (BN-1). Occasionally, lapilli fragments a few centimeters in diameter were ejected onto the S rim of the crater. Strombolian activity also continued from multiple vents at the bottom of NEC. The frequency and intensity of explosions was variable and increased significantly during 22 August, ejecting coarse pyroclastic material outside the crater rim.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 226. The crater floor of Bocca Nuova at Etna on 16 and 17 August 2018 with thermal (a) and visible (b) images. The incandescent areas are highlighted with colors ranging from yellow to red and white in the thermal image. BN-1 (reactivated in November 2016) is in the foreground, and vent BN-2, which re-opened on 16 August in the south-eastern sector of the Bocca Nuova, is in the back (upper right). Thermal image by Francesco Ciancitto, photograph by Marco Neri. Courtesy of INGV (L'Etna non va in vacanza: aumenta di intensità l'attività eruttiva sommitale, 23 Agosto 2018, INGV Blog).

Beginning on 23 August 2018 about 1800 UTC, activity resumed at the saddle cone located between the old cone of the Southeast Crater (SEC) and the new cone (NSEC). Strombolian activity, initially modest, quickly became more intense, producing almost continuous explosions with the launch of coarse ejecta up to a height of 100-150 m. At 1830 UTC, while Strombolian explosions of modest intensity were also taking place at the E vent of NSEC, a small lava flow emerged from the E vent and traveled a few hundred meters E towards the Valle del Bove. Shortly after 1830 UTC another lava overflow was also observed moving N from the saddle cone (figures 227 and 228).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 227. Strombolian ejecta rose 100 m from the cono della sella (saddle cone) at the New Southeast Crater of Etna and lava flowed from both the E vent (left) and N from the saddle cone (right), shortly before midnight on 23 August 2018. Photo by Boris Behncke, courtesy of INGV blog 25 August 2018 (L'Etna fa gli straordinari: attività eruttiva al Nuovo Cratere di Sud-Est).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 228. Map of the summit crater area (DEM 2014, Aerogeophysics Laboratory - Rome Section 2, modified). BN = Bocca Nuova; VOR = Voragine; NEC = Northeast Crater; SEC = Southeast Crater; NSEC = New Southeast Crater. The yellow dots indicate the position of the degassing vents and those in red are the vents with Strombolian activity. The map also shows the flows produced by the saddle cone and the E vent of NSEC through 27 August 2018. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. N° 35/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 20/08/2018 - 26/08/2018, data emissione 28/08/2018).

Strombolian explosions of moderate intensity continued throughout the night from the saddle cone. The following morning (24 August) a small lava overflow emerged from the vent and stopped after traveling a few tens of meters towards the S flank of the NSEC cone (figure 228, small orange flow within saddle, and figure 229b). The Strombolian activity was accompanied by an abundant and continuous emission of ash, whichformed a small plume that rose a few hundred meters from the vent (figure 229c). The Strombolian activity at the saddle cone decreased gradually on 25 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 229. Eruptive activity at Etna during 23-24 August 2018. a) 23 August shortly before midnight; Strombolian activity from the saddle cone and lava flows from the E vent of the NSEC (white arrow) and from the cone of the saddle northwards (red arrow). Photo by B. Behncke taken from Fornazzo. b) 24 August, Strombolian activity and small lava overflow southward taken by the thermal camera of La Montagnola. c) 24 August, ash emitted during the Strombolian activity from the cone of the saddle, taken by the visible camera of La Montagnola. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 35/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 20/08/2018 - 26/08/2018, data emissione 28/08/2018).

Strombolian activity was continuing on 27 August 2018 at NSEC, and the flow to the N into the Valle del Leone began cooling after lava stopped feeding it that evening. The same day, a new lava overflow emerged from the E vent of NSEC (figure 230) and flowed E towards the Valle del Bove for about 24 hours (figure 231).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 230. Map of the summit crater area of Etna (DEM 2014, Aerogeophysics Laboratory - Rome Section 2, modified). BN = Bocca Nuova; VOR = Voragine; NEC = Northeast Crater; SEC = Southeast Crater; NSEC = New Southeast Crater. The yellow dots are degassing vents and those in red have Strombolian activity. The map also shows the flows produced by NSEC during the last two weeks of August 2018. The yellow flow was cooling by 27 August when the new red flow emerged from the E vent of NSEC and lasted for about 24 hours. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 36/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 27/08/2018 - 02/09/2018, data emissione 04/09/2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 231. A thermal image taken by Pizzi Deneri on 27 August 2018 at Etna shows the two flows on the flanks of NSEC. View is from the N. The flow labelled in red flows E from the E vent, and the other flow travels N from the Cono della sella (saddle cone) into the Valle del Leone and then moves east. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 36/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 27/08/2018 - 02/09/2018, data emissione 04/09/2018).

Discontinuous Strombolian activity continued from NSEC after the effusive activity ended in late August. Several loud explosions from NSEC were reported by people living near the E flank of Etna during the first week of September. Strombolian activity, modest ash emissions, and significant gas emissions were also produced by BN-1; BN-2 exhibited only continuous degassing activity. Explosive activity declined during the second week of September. Discontinuous low-intensity Strombolian activity and intermittent ash emissions from Bocca Nuova, New Southeast Crater, and Northeast Crater characterized activity for the remainder of September. During the last week of the month, NEC produced frequent gray-brown ash emissions from a vent located in the western part of the crater floor, and included jets of ash, blocks, and volcanic bombs (figure 232).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 232. Ash emissions from Etna's Northeast Crater in late September 2018. The four top images are explosions from a vent at the bottom of NEC on 24 September 2018; the bottom image is one of the many ash emissions observed on 30 September. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. N° 40/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 24/09/2018 - 30/09/2018, data emissione 02/10/2018).

Discontinuous low-intensity Strombolian activity and intermittent ash emissions from the Bocca Nuova, the New Southeast Crater, and Northeast Crater characterized activity during all of October 2018. Two vents remained active at the bottom of Bocca Nuova (BN-1). During a visit on 16 October, INGV-OE geologists noted that the northernmost vent produced nearly continuous Strombolian activity with frequent explosions; occasionally fragments exceeded the crater rim in height but still fell within the crater. The southernmost vent, on the crater floor about 130 m from the edge, was characterized by explosive activity that produced mainly spattering which covered both the crater floor and walls (figure 233). On 25 October the webcam at Bronte recorded an ash emission from Bocca Nuova that resulted from three closely-spaced explosions. The ash was red and dispersed rapidly to the S causing ashfall near Torre del Filosofo and Rifugio Sapienza.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 233. Inside the Bocca Nuova BN-1 crater at Etna on 16 October 2018, two vents were active. The northernmost vent (yellow arrow) had Strombolian activity; the southernmost vent, visible on the right, produced mostly "spattering". Photo by M. Coltelli, courtesy of INGV (Rep. N° 43/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 15/10/2018 - 21/10/2018, data emissione 23/10/2018).

Strombolian activity at NSEC gradually intensified during the first week of November 2018 and was sometimes accompanied by ash emissions that rapidly dispersed, falling mainly near the vent and in the Valle del Bove to the E. Audible explosions from the activity were heard in Zafferana Etnea on the E flank. Several clear views of the summit and details of the active vents were well exposed during an overflight on a clear 9 November day (figure 234).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 234. An aerial view of the Etna summit craters taken on a clear 9 November 2018 day with the assistance of the 2nd Coast Guard Core of Catania. View is to the NW. BN = Bocca Nuova; VOR = Voragine; NEC = Northeast Crater; SEC = Southeast Crater; NSEC = New Southeast Crater. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. N° 46/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 05/11/2018 - 11/11/2018, data emissione 13/11/2018).

Three vents were visible at BN-1 during the 9 November 2018 overflight (figure 235); continuous Strombolian activity occurred at vent 1, whose fallout of pyroclastic debris remained within the crater; discontinuous Strombolian activity was observed at vent 2 associated with weak, pulsing ash emissions; only degassing activities were observed at vent 3. At BN-2, intense degassing accompanied discontinuous Strombolian activity that was associated with weak pulsating ash emissions, and several high temperature gas emission points. Scientists also observed a collapse on a portion of the northern inner wall of BN-1 from the explosion on 25 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 235. Aerial view of Bocca Nuova (BN) and Voragine (VOR) at Etna on 9 November 2018 taken with helicopter support of the 2nd Coast Guard Core of Catania. The yellow hatched line indicates the wall of the area that collapsed on 25 October 2018. Inset a) thermal image of Bocca Nuova showing the structure of the three eruptive vents within BN-1 and the eruptive vent within the BN-2. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. N° 46/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 05/11/2018 - 11/11/2018, data emissione 13/11/2018).

Modest outgassing continued at Voragine (VOR) from the 7 August 2016 vent near the rim during November. At NEC, continuous and intense Strombolian activity from the crater floor caused pyroclastic ejecta to land outside the crater rim (figure 236). At the NSEC complex, high-temperature anomalies were visible at the NW crater edge, and the E vent of NSEC had a small scoria cone that produced discontinuous Strombolian explosions and minor ash emissions (figure 237).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 236. Aerial view of Voragine (VOR) and the Northeast Crater (NEC) at Etna taken on 9 November 2018 with helicopter support of the 2nd Coast Guard Core of Catania. The 7 August 2016 vent at VOR had a vigorous steam emission (yellow arrow). Inset a) thermal image showed the Strombolian activity in the bottom of NEC. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. N° 46/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 05/11/2018 - 11/11/2018, data emissione 13/11/2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 237. Thermal activity was evident in several places at the SEC-NSEC complex at Etna during the 9 November 2018 overflight with the helicopter of the 2nd Coast Guard Core of Catania (inset a, upper image). The small scoria cone (conetto di scorie) was visible inside the E vent (Bocca orientale) of the New Southeast Crater, seen from the East on 9 November (lower image). Upper image from INGV weekly (Rep. N° 46/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 05/11/2018 - 11/11/2018, data emissione 13/11/2018), lower image by Stefano Branca (INGV-Osservatorio Etneo) from INGV blog (Piccoli coni crescono: aggiornamento sullo stato di attività dell'Etna al 7 dicembre 2018).

A seismic swarm with over 40 events affected the W flank of Etna on 20 November 2018; the hypocenters were located between 15 and 27 km depth. A small lava flow also emerged on 20 November from the scoria cone inside the E vent at NSEC. The flow lasted for a few hours and remained inside the E vent. A new flow from the same scoria cone at the NSEC east vent appeared on 26 November accompanied by continued Strombolian activity. The flow remained high on the E flank at an elevation of about 3,200 m. Flow activity continued into the first days of December with frequent incandescent blocks moving down the NSEC E flank (figure 238). Elsewhere at Etna, Strombolian activity continued accompanied by sporadic and modest ash emissions from Bocca Nuova, the New Southeast Crater and the Northeast Crater through the end of November (figure 239).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 238. Strombolian activity and emission of a small lava flow from the E vent of the New Southeast Crater was seen from the E at dawn on 29 November 2018. The lava flow was very short, but the detachment and rolling of numerous incandescent blocks from the front and sides of the flow created the impression that the flow reached the base of the New Southeast Crater cone. The scoria cone inside the E vent grew considerably compared to its size observed on 9 November (figure 237). Photo by Giò Giusa. Courtesy of INGV, INGV Blog (Piccoli coni crescono: aggiornamento sullo stato di attività dell'Etna al 7 dicembre 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 239. Incandescence from Strombolian activity was visible inside the NSEC (right) and BN (left) craters at Etna on 22 November 2018 as viewed from Tremestieri Etneo. Photo by B. Behncke, courtesy of INGV (Rep. N° 48/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 19/11/2018 - 25/11/2018, data emissione 27/11/2018).

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

Information Contacts: Sezione di Catania - Osservatorio Etneo, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/it/ ); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).


Dukono (Indonesia) — December 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Dukono

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Regular ash explosions continuing as of September 2018

The long-term eruption at Dukono has been characterized by frequent ash explosions through at least March 2018 (BGVN 43:04). The current report shows that this pattern continued through at least September 2018. The data below were provided by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), also known as the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC).

Between April and September 2018 there were about five reports per month about ash plumes. Altitudes generally ranged from 1.4-2.1 km, although 3 km was reported during 2-8 May and 3.4 km was reported during 25-31 July (table 18).

Table 18. Monthly summary of reported ash plumes from Dukono for April-September 2018. The direction of drift for the ash plume through each month was highly variable. Data courtesy of the Darwin VAAC and PVMBG.

Month Plume Altitude (km) Notable Plume Drift
Apr 2018 1.5-2.1 --
May 2018 1.5-3 Ash plumes drifted as far as 225 km NW on 28 May
Jun 2018 1.4-2.1 --
Jul 2018 1.8-3.4 --
Aug 2018 1.8-2.4 --
Sep 2018 1.8-2.1 --

No thermal anomalies at Dukono, based on MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm, were detected during the reporting period. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) volcano hotspot detection system, also based on analysis of MODIS data, detected a low-power hotspot in early April (about 2.5 km from the volcano) and a possible low-power hotspot in late August 2018 (about 5 km from the volcano).

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); 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/).


Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — November 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Ulawun

Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes on 8 June, 21 September, and 5 October 2018

Typical activity at Ulawun consists of sporadic explosions with weak ash plumes. During 2017, sporadic explosions occurred between late June through early November with ash plumes rising no more than 3 km in altitude (BGVN 42:12). This report describes activity between January and September 2018.

According to the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) stated that on 8 June 2018 an ash plume rose to an altitude of 2.1 km and drifted W. The Darwin VAAC also reported that a pilot observed an ash plume on 21 September 2018 rising to an altitude of 3.7 km and drifting W. Ash was not confirmed in satellite images, though weather clouds obscured views.

On 5 October 2018 the Darwin VAAC identified a steam-and-ash emission in satellite images rising to an altitude of 4.6 km and drifting WSW. It was also reported by ground observers. The Rabaul Volcano Observatory reported that during 1-12 October white, and sometimes light gray, emissions rose from the summit crater; seismicity was low.

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

Information Contacts: 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/); 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.


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — November 2018 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)


Several weak ash plumes during June, September, and October 2018

After Vulcanian activity in the latter part of 2009, activity at Langila subsided, with infrequent activity until 2016, when activity increased somewhat through May 2018 (BGVN 34:11, 35:02, 42:01, and 42:09). This pattern of intermittent activity continued through October 2018. No reports were available from the Rabaul Volcano Observatory during the current reporting period (June-October 2018), but volcanic ash warnings were issued by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC).

Four explosions were reported by the Darwin VAAC in June 2018, generating ash plumes that rose 2.1-3.4 km (table 6). There were no reports of an explosion in July or August 2018. Additional ash plumes were detected on 29 September and 30 October 2018

Table 6. Reports of ash plumes from Langila during 1 June-30 October 2018 based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind model data. Courtesy of the Darwin VAAC.

Date Ash plume altitude (km) Ash plume drift Observations
07 Jun 2018 3.4 SW Detached from the summit.
10 Jun 2018 2.1 -- Dissipated.
17 Jun 2018 2.4 W --
20-21 Jun 2018 2.4 W, NW --
29 Sep 2018 2.4 NE --
30 Oct 2018 2.7 SE --

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: 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/).


Sangeang Api (Indonesia) — November 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Sangeang Api

Indonesia

8.2°S, 119.07°E; summit elev. 1949 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing crater activity and thermal anomalies during September 2017-October 2018

A significant increase in the number of thermal anomalies at Sangeang Api was recorded during February and June through mid-August 2017, along with a small Strombolian eruption in mid-July that generated an ash plume (BGVN 42:09). The high number of thermal anomalies continued through at least 20 October 2018. The current report summarizes activity between 1 September 2017 and 20 October 2018. The volcano is monitored by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG) and Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC).

Based on a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) from PVMBG, on 9 May 2018 a gas emission was observed at 1807 that rose to an altitude of 4,150 m and drifted W. Consequently, the Aviation Color Code was raised from unassigned to Yellow. Clear thermal satellite imagery the next day showed hot material traveling about 500 m SE out of the summit crater and continuing another 500 m down the E flank (figure 18).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Sentinel-2 satellite image of Sangeang Api on 10 May 2018. This "Atmospheric penetration" view (bands 12, 11, and 8A) highlights hot material extending more than a kilometer from the vent in the summit crater to the SE and onto the E flank. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub.

Based on another VONA from PVMBG, an ash emission at 1338 on 15 October 2018 rose 250 m above the summit and drifted SW, W, and NW. The VONA noted that the ash emission possibly rose higher than what a ground observer had estimated. Seismic data was dominated by signals indicating emissions as well as local tectonic earthquakes. The Aviation Color Code was raised from Yellow to Orange.

During the reporting period, MODIS satellite instruments using the MODVOLC algorithm recorded thermal anomalies between 3 and 12 days per month, many of which had multiple pixels. October 2017 had the greatest number of days with hotspots (12), while the lowest number was recorded during December 2017 through February 2018 (3-4 days per month). The vast majority of anomalies issued from the summit; a few were along the E flanks. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) volcano hotspot detection system, also based on analysis of MODIS data, recorded numerous hotspots during the previous 12 months through mid-October 2018, except for the second half of January 2018 (figure 19). Almost all recorded MIROVA anomalies were within 5 km of the volcano and of low to moderate radiative power.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Thermal anomalies identified by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) at Sangeang Api for the year ending 19 October 2018. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. Sangeang Api volcano, one of the most active in the Lesser Sunda Islands, forms a small 13-km-wide island off the NE coast of Sumbawa Island. Two large trachybasaltic-to-tranchyandesitic volcanic cones, 1949-m-high Doro Api and 1795-m-high Doro Mantoi, were constructed in the center and on the eastern rim, respectively, of an older, largely obscured caldera. Flank vents occur on the south side of Doro Mantoi and near the northern coast. Intermittent historical eruptions have been recorded since 1512, most of them during in the 20th century.

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


Sheveluch (Russia) — November 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Sheveluch

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal anomalies along with minor gas and steam emissions continue through October 2018

Volcanic activity at Sheveluch declined during the period of May through October 2018. This decline followed a lengthy cycle of eruptive activities which began in 1999, including pyroclastic flows, explosions, and lava dome growth, as previously reported through April 2018 (BGVN 43:05). According to the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT), during this time a thermal anomaly was detected in satellite imagery and two gas-and-steam events were reported in July and October 2018. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale).

KVERT reported that satellite data showed a plume of re-suspended ash up to 62 km to the SE of the volcano on 18 July 2018. Moderate gas and steam emissions rose from the volcano on 19-26 October 2018. Thermal anomalies were frequently reported by KVERT during May through October 2018. The MIROVA system detected intermittent low-power thermal anomalies during this time.

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 East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); 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/).


Gamalama (Indonesia) — November 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Gamalama

Indonesia

0.8°N, 127.33°E; summit elev. 1715 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak explosion on 4 October 2018

The most recent of the previous intermittent weak explosions on Gamalama was on 3 August 2016, which produced an ash plume and ashfall that closed a nearby airport for a day (BGVN 42:03). This report discusses eruptive activity in October 2018. The volcano is monitored by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM).

PVMBG reported that an explosion at 1152 on 4 October 2018, likely phreatic, generated an ash plume that rose about 250 m above the summit and drifted NW. Eight volcanic earthquakes were recorded about an hour before the event. Based on satellite data and information from PVMBG, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) reported that during 5-6 October ash plumes rose to an altitude of 2.1 km and drifted W and NW. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4); visitors and residents were warned not to approach the crater within a 1.5-km radius. On 10 October PVMBG reported only gas emissions (mostly water vapor), and the Aviation Color Code was lowered from Orange to Yellow.

No significant SO2 levels near the volcano were recorded by NASA's satellite-borne ozone instruments (Suomi NPP/OMPS and Aura/OMI) during early October. However, Simon Carn reported that the newer TropOMI instrument aboard the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite showed significant SO2 levels as high as 12 TRM/DU (levels in middle troposphere layer, as measured in Dobson Units) on 4 October 2018 (figure 7).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Weak SO2 emissions from Gamalama on 4 October 2018 were detected by the Sentinel-5P TROPOMI instrument. Courtesy of Simon Carn.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 5+7, 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/); 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).

Search Bulletin Archive by Publication Date

Select a month and year from the drop-downs and click "Show Issue" to have that issue displayed in this tab.

   

The default month and year is the latest issue available.

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 18, Number 09 (September 1993)

Managing Editor: Edward Venzke

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Lava flow advances while overall level of eruptive activity declines

Barren Island (India)

Minor gas emissions; animal populations recovering from 1991 eruption

Bezymianny (Russia)

Explosive eruption sends ash plume to 15 km altitude

Damavand (Iran)

Fumarolic vent on the crater rim; sulfur deposits

Irazu (Costa Rica)

Low-level seismic activity; small earthquake beneath flank

Kilauea (United States)

Lava from tubes enters ocean; lava pond remains active

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Fluctuating ash and vapor emissions

Lengai, Ol Doinyo (Tanzania)

Carbonatitic lava production continues, but at lower levels than in June

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Ash emissions weak but steady; moderate eruption in early August

Masaya (Nicaragua)

Incandescence in lava lake

Momotombo (Nicaragua)

Strong fumarolic activity but temperatures decline

Negro, Cerro (Nicaragua)

Fumarolic activity along crater rim

Pilas, Las (Nicaragua)

Weak fumarolic activity

Pinatubo (Philippines)

Lahars produced by typhoon rains cause additional damage

Poas (Costa Rica)

Ongoing minor activity in crater lake; seismicity remains moderate

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Seismicity declines to normal levels

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica)

Crater lake level drops 10 m

San Cristobal (Nicaragua)

Large steam plume

Stromboli (Italy)

Eruptive activity and seismicity decline from high levels in May; two strong explosions in October

Telica (Nicaragua)

Moderate fumarolic activity

Turrialba (Costa Rica)

Regional earthquake causes visible cracks in crater area

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea)

Vapor emissions; slight increase in seismicity

Unzendake (Japan)

Growth of lobe 11 generates pyroclastic flows; seismicity decreases

Yanteles (Chile)

Fumarolic and solfataric activity



Arenal (Costa Rica) — September 1993 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 flow advances while overall level of eruptive activity declines

After the moderately explosive behavior seen on 28 August, the intensity of explosive activity at Arenal decreased in September. Lava flowing from crater C advanced farther to the NW, following the same drainages as the 28 August pyroclastic flows. By the end of September, lava in the Tabacón River valley had descended to 780 m elevation (see map in 18:08). In early September the rate of lava advance was about 50 m/day, slowing to ~20-25 m/day later in the month when flow fronts were ~1.5 km from the crater.

According to José Luis Sibaja, who lives on the E flank of the volcano, several degassing events in mid-September sent columns >1 km above the vent. Also, passive degassing was reported from crater D. On 15 September, due to atmospheric disturbances associated with a tropical storm, wind directions shifted and gases were swept toward the N and NE flanks, affecting forest vegetation.

The following discussion of seismicity is based on reports by OVSICORI. Total seismicity (number of events) in September was slightly higher than in May, July, or August. In contrast, the total hours of tremor for September decreased >3x compared to the previous two months, and is the lowest monthly level so far this year. Daily tremor chiefly remained below 4 hours/day from 1 to 27 September, then progressively increased to >20 hours/day on 30 September. The high total seismicity for September may be a result of abundant rockfalls and avalanches, some of which were visually documented. Rockfall and avalanche noise varies at different seismic stations, partly depending on the distance from the station to the noise source. The variable amount of noise contamination complicates simple comparison of seismic data collected by different research groups monitoring the volcano.

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

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obaldia, T. Marino, V. Barboza, and R. Sáenz, OVSICORI; G. Soto, ICE.


Barren Island (India) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Barren Island

India

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Minor gas emissions; animal populations recovering from 1991 eruption

A scientific team from the GSI and the Zoological Survey of India visited Barren Island on 8-9 April 1993 to assess the impact of the 1991 eruption on the distribution, habit, and abundance of fauna. Gas emissions were seen coming from small openings in the lava flows near the NW coast, but were not observed from the central crater, which had exhibited fumarolic activity at least as late as May 1992. Water temperatures around the island were normal, except for near the landing area on the NW coast where a temperature of 45°C was recorded. Atmospheric temperature was generally 40-50°C, higher near the NE crater rim.

The eruption reduced the number of bird species and the total bird population; many species that migrated during the eruption have not yet returned. Out of 16 previously reported species, only six were observed during this visit, of which the Pied Emperial Pigeon (Ducula bicolor) was the most abundant. A night survey encountered only one rat species (Rattus rattus) and 51 species of insects from eight orders. Bones of rats, birds, and charred remains of land crabs were commonly seen. No live land crabs or butterflies were observed, though crabs were plentiful during fieldwork by other scientists in May 1992. Feral goats (Capra hircus) were the most noticeable wildlife on the island. The goats have survived well since being brought to the island in 1891, and their population remained almost intact after the eruption, possibly because they took shelter on the S slope of the island.

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

Information Contacts: K. Chandra, Zoological Survey of India.


Bezymianny (Russia) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Bezymianny

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosive eruption sends ash plume to 15 km altitude

A strong explosive eruption that began on the afternoon of 21 October with little advance seismic warning was continuing as of 24 October. Ashfall generally obscured the volcano, but ash plumes were observed rising to 8-12 km altitude on 23-24 October and reached 15 km altitude on the afternoon of 24 October. The eruption plume extended >100 km to the ESE. The resulting ash layer was >10 mm thick at a seismic station 15 km NE, and 5 mm thick at a weather station 30 km SE. The U.S. National Weather Service observed a possible volcanic plume along the Kamchatkan coast on the morning of 22 October, but satellite imagery on 24 October showed heavy banded frontal clouds over the Kamchatka Peninsula with no definitive ash cloud visible.

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: V. Kirianov, IVGG; T. Miller, AVO; J. Lynch, SAB.


Damavand (Iran) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Damavand

Iran

35.951°N, 52.109°E; summit elev. 5670 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumarolic vent on the crater rim; sulfur deposits

A visit to the summit area . . . on 12 July 1993 revealed a small, powerful fumarolic vent on the S rim of the crater that was emitting SO2-rich gases at a temperature of ~50°C. Sulfur deposits also covered the surrounding slopes. The summit crater was ~150 m wide and 20 m deep, with a 40-m-diameter frozen lake in the bottom, surrounded by patches of snow. . . . there is no permanent glacier because of the dry climate. However, the upper slopes do contain scattered areas of hardened perennial snow (névés).

Geologic Background. The Damavand stratovolcano towers dramatically 70 km to the NE above Iran's capital city of Tehran and 70 km S of the Caspian Sea. It is the highest volcano in the Middle East. A younger cone has been constructed during the past 600,000 years over an older edifice, remnants of which were previously interpreted as a caldera wall. Flank vents are rare, and activity at the dominantly trachyandesite volcano has been concentrated at the summit vent, which has produced a series of radial lava flows. Lava effusion has dominated, pyroclastic activity has been limited, and the only major explosive event produced a welded ignimbrite about 280,000 years ago. The youngest activity has consisted of the eruption of a series of lava flows from the summit vent that cover the W side of the volcano. The youngest dated lava flows were emplaced about 7000 years ago. No historical eruptions are known, but hot springs are located on the flanks, and fumaroles are found at the summit crater.

Information Contacts: J. Sesiano, Univ de Genève.


Irazu (Costa Rica) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Irazu

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Low-level seismic activity; small earthquake beneath flank

In June-September Irazú exhibited ongoing fumarolic activity and low-level seismicity. In mid-June the crater lake pH value remained stable at 5.5 compared to the more acidic values of 3.8-2.8 in 1991, and 4.9-5.6 in 1992. Also stable through mid-August was the maximum fumarole temperature, 91°C, which has changed comparatively little since July 1991. As of July, subaqueous fumaroles in the N and SE portions of the lake persisted, but fumaroles seen in 1991 at points to the N and NE have disappeared. Dry-tilt showed no changes in June or July, and was unreported thereafter. From June to September seismic station IRZ2, 5 km SW of the main crater, continued to register microseismic activity as well as sporadic low-frequency events. On 7 June a M 1.8 earthquake took place, focused at a point 2.3 km SW of the summit at a depth of 4.9 km.

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

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obaldia, T. Marino, V. Barboza, and R. Sáenz, OVSICORI; G. Soto, ICE.


Kilauea (United States) — September 1993 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 from tubes enters ocean; lava pond remains active

There was little change . . . during the first half of September. Lava . . . traveled directly to the ocean completely confined in lava tubes. There were no breakouts from the tubes, and lava poured into the ocean at two distinct entry points on the W side of the Kamoamoa delta. New land in this area was unstable with pieces of the lower bench sloughing off into the ocean, followed by pyroclastic explosions. On 25 September, helicopter pilots noticed a decline in activity in the skylights, and by the following day, lava entries had stagnated. The pause in activity only lasted until 27 September when lava flows broke out of a tube below a fault scarp. Breakouts were confined to the portion of the Kamoamoa tube formed by the July 1993 sheet flow. The emerging lava was initially viscous but became more fluid as the day progressed. Entries into the ocean via the lava-tube system were re-established the morning of 27 September. The water vapor plumes at the ocean entries started out wispy, but were more voluminous by the end of the day.

The lava pond in Pu`u `O`o was active throughout September as the level fluctuated between 81 and 87 m below the crater rim. Upwelling and spatter activity on the W side of the pond increased towards the end of the month. There were no confirmed depth changes in the pond coincident with the pause of 25-27 September.

Eruption tremor remained low . . . during September. Tremor amplitudes peaked at ~2x background, with periods nearly down to background. The number of shallow, long-period events was high for 3-5 September, with counts >100/day. Several "gas-piston" and rockfall episodes were apparent on seismic records, and shallow, long-period events were high on 26-27 September, probably coincident with the slowdown of eruptive activity. Microearthquake activity was low beneath the summit and slightly below average along the East and Southwest rift zones during the first half of the September, but about average for during the last half of the month.

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

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


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — September 1993 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)


Fluctuating ash and vapor emissions

"Activity declined to a low level in June and remained low through July. Crater 2 intermittently released white-grey ash and vapour clouds in small to moderate amounts. The crater was silent throughout the month, as it has been since the end of May (BGVN 18:05). No glow was observed. The number of Vulcanian explosion earthquakes showed a marked decline to 19 in June from 70 in May and 134 in April. Crater 3 continued to occasionally release weak emissions of white vapour. No activity was recorded from Crater 3 in July.

"Langila's activity increased slightly in August. Crater 2 released white-grey vapour and ash for most of the month. Explosions producing ash falls in inhabited areas were recorded on 6, 8, 20, and 25-26 July. Crater 3 emissions consisted of weak blue vapour.

"Activity appeared to decline in September. Crater 2 emitted weak to moderate amounts of vapour and ash. On a few occasions, falls of ash took place in inhabited areas about 10 km downwind from the vent. Activity at Crater 3 continued at a low level with weak emissions of white and blue vapours. Seismicity was low throughout the month."

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

Information Contacts: C. McKee, N. Lauer, L. Sipison, B. Talai, R. Stewart, and D. Lolok, RVO.


Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Ol Doinyo Lengai

Tanzania

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Carbonatitic lava production continues, but at lower levels than in June

By 3 July activity had declined, but the surge of emissions had resulted in most of the crater floor being covered with pahoehoe flows in the N and blocky aa flows in the S. New vents in the S part of the crater were the source of most of the carbonatitic lava flows, which elevated the S floor higher than cone T14 in the N. No reports were received of activity between 3 July and 10 September. The following report describes visits to the summit crater . . . on 10 and 25 September 1993. The 10 September observations were made by Ben Kneller and Cindy Ebinger (Leeds Univ), who ascended to the NE crater rim in the morning, accompanied by Jumanne Juma and Felix John (Dorobo Safaris Ltd.), and remained in the crater for ~5 hours. Observations from 25 September were reported by Abigail Church (British Museum of Natural History), who spent 4 hours in the summit area that morning.

The only activity observed on 10 September was fumarolic, although deep booming sounds were heard coming from shallow depths beneath the crater floor at ~10-15 minute intervals, causing the crater floor to occasionally tremble slightly. Vegetation on the upper slopes outside the crater was scorched and brown, but some plants showed renewed growth. An ash deposit a few centimeters thick around the W rim was presumed to be a result of mid-June activity.

The N half of the crater was still covered with smooth white carbonatitic pahoehoe flows on 10 September (figure 31), with cones T20 and T5/T9 rising ~20 m above the surface of the flows. A very recent flow on the extreme W part of the crater floor extended N from centers immediately N of the blocky lava front, where three hornitos 10-30 cm high were present. The lava was pale chocolate-brown in color, and very hot to the touch (70-80°C). The area under the NW crater rim was occupied by slightly older lavas from the same centers, which had flowed around the apron of lava from T20. A small inactive cone E of the fresh pahoehoe flows along the W side of the crater may have been T22, not observed on 29 June. A number of small pahoehoe flows had apparently erupted through the blocky lavas from several centers near T5/T9 and in the vicinity of T24, building a small (40 cm) hornito. Small amounts of gas were venting through holes and fissures in the area around T5/T9 and near the W crater wall close to the source of the most recent lava flow, producing patches of alteration, often with brightly colored sublimates.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Sketch map of Ol Doinyo Lengai crater, 10 September 1993. Hatched area indicates elevated blocky lava flows (finer hatching is older clinkery flow), open circles are cones, and solid circles are fumaroles. Dark shading indicates recent dark ash from T23; light shading indicates area covered by older ash. Constructed by triangulation using photographs taken from three points on the N and W crater rim. Courtesy of Ben Kneller.

. . . cone T23 was the source of much of the lava in the N part of the crater, and was continuously venting a large quantity of hot gas. T23 consisted of a 2-3-m-high, broad cinder cone of black tephra (proximally up to 30 cm long) with the W side of the partially collapsed cone forming a low, W-facing scarp. Large black lapilli (probably from T23) overlay ash from the other cinder cones, and isolated blocks rested on pahoehoe flows. This was the most recently active vent; the booming noises seemed to emanate from beneath T23, and ground motions were more noticeable in its vicinity.

The S part of the crater was occupied by at least three blocky carbonatitic flows, all in existence by 29 June, that were largely covered by tephra from a group of four new cinder cones at T25, and from a new cone at the site of T23. The oldest of these flows, exposed in a small area around T5/T9, was a clinkery flow of centimeter- to decimeter-scale blocks. A flow front ~1 m high (or composite of several flows) of blocky lava with decimeter-scale blocks, that probably originated in the area of T25, occupied much of the S part of the crater floor on the W side. A flow on the far E side of the crater floor (F35) was probably the youngest blocky flow (4-5 m thick), composed of blocks up to several meters in size, and may have originated from a breached cone (T24) near the E crater wall. T24 had an arcuate NW-facing scarp rising ~5 m above the lava surface.

The T25 cinder cones formed a slightly arcuate group rising 6-7 m above the lava; two had 10-m-deep central pits. All of the cones were cold, with the exception of one that was venting small amounts of hot gas (probably H2S and CO2 based on the odor and the absence of condensed water vapor). Material presumed to be from the T25 cones was scoriaceous, dominantly sand-sized ash, with some larger lapilli. Maximum and mean grain size increased towards the T25 cones; blocks around the cones were up to 50 cm across. The ash was loose and white on the surface, but just a few centimeters below the surface it was black in color and felt warm to the touch. These deposits were older than the pahoehoe lavas between T23 and T5/T9. A shallow excavation W of T23 revealed that blocky lava was overlain by four layers of tephra; ash was succeeded by lapilli (10-15 cm), more ash, then a surface layer of lapilli. Fissures had opened in the ash and underlying lava after deposition of the ash. Cone T26 was breached with a NW-facing scarp rising ~10 m above the lava surface.

A small cloud of black ash ejected from the crater on 24 September was blown W, with ash being deposited on the W and N slopes. Sulfur odor was detected on the lower flanks of the volcano the next morning. Figure 32 shows the 15 June blocky lava flow (18:07), which originated from a large, newly formed 20-m-diameter depression just above the two buttes along the W trail to the rim. The lava flow was ~70 m long and up to 2.5 m thick. There were many fumaroles in the area of the new depression, and surrounding vegetation was burned and covered with fine ash. A large landslide along the NW crater wall just N of the buttes was also seen. It is not known when the landslide occurred, but observers from the British Museum of Natural History noted in September 1992 that the crater wall in that area was particularly weak (17:09).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Sketch map of the active crater of Ol Doinyo Lengai, 25 September 1993. Hatched area indicates elevated blocky lava flows, open circles are cones, and solid circle is a fumarole. Maximum E-W diameter is ~300 m; maximum height of crater wall is 8-10 m (NW rim). Courtesy of A. Church.

There were no lava or ash eruptions during the 25 September visit, but a deep rumbling sound was heard about once every hour. On the N part of the crater floor, covered by old gray pahoehoe flows, vents T20 and T5/T9 remained inactive, and sulfur staining was seen on the visible portions of T8, T14, and T15. In contrast, the elevated S crater floor remained covered either by new ash or aa flows. In the center of the crater, the T23 ash cone had grown so its vent opening was ~5 m in diameter and 3 m deep. A constant shimmer was observed above T23 during the visit; this vent may have been the source of a 50-cm-thick aa flow between T20 and T5/T9. The most recently erupted material, an ash/lapilli deposit, covered most of the blocky material near T23 as well as the vent itself. At the S end of the crater, T25 was a nearly perfect ash cone with a basal diameter of ~10 m, rising ~15 m above the surrounding lava. Numerous bombs up to 20 cm in diameter were present around the base of T25 and on the ground to the N and NE. They consisted of a friable white outer crust ~5 mm thick, and a dark, vesicular interior. Just S of T25, the 45-m-wide T26 vent had collapsed, revealing layers of spatter and ash that made up its walls.

Mineralogical investigations of the blocky flow in the E part of the crater (F35) revealed that it consists of alkali carbonates with a small but constant proportion of silicates. This is the first documented association of these minerals since 1966, when explosive ash eruptions lasted for several months and produced a deep pit crater. These observations suggest that the recent increase in activity . . . may be related to a change in magma chemistry.

Fumaroles on the N rim were especially active on 10 September, with many open fissures tangential to the rim. Four small vents were located on the inner crater wall W of C1, of which the westernmost was associated with an open radial fissure up to 3 m wide. Lava on the nearby crater floor was very altered. Temperature measurements of fumaroles on the crater floor were taken on 25 September using NiCr-NiAl thermocouples. The maximum temperature of 167.0°C was obtained from a very active fumarole near the approximate site of vent T21 (only observed on 8 June; 18:07). Fumaroles on the crater wall near T24 had a temperature of 68.0°C. Away from the fumaroles, the average temperature of the crater floor was 37.4°C.

Based on an interview of Philip Sarayan, a resident of Ngare Sero, Church states that earthquakes in late April appear to have been associated with large "cracks" that opened in the ground between Lake Manyara (100 km S) and Lake Natron (200 km N). Sarayan was told by a local Maasai herdsman that a cow had been lost down one of the cracks, and also reported that a circular hole 50 m in diameter and 10 m deep formed ~15 km N of the volcano following a small tremor on 25 April.

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

Information Contacts: B. Kneller and C. Ebinger, Univ of Leeds; A. Church, Natural History Museum, London.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — September 1993 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)


Ash emissions weak but steady; moderate eruption in early August

"Manam's activity continued at a low and steady level in August and September. Weak white vapour emissions took place at Southern Crater throughout August and September with occasional weak ash emission in September. More forceful activity occurred on 6-7 August with occasional explosions producing ash-laden clouds. Main Crater activity during August and September consisted of weak white vapour emissions. Seismicity in August included several hundred low-frequency events/day which produced sub-continuous tremor on 6, 7, 20, and 29 August. In September, Manam's seismicity was steady until about the 24th, then declined with seismic amplitudes dropping by ~50%. Tilt measurements in September . . . oscillated over a range of ~1.5 µrad, reaching maximum inflation at mid-month."

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, N. Lauer, L. Sipison, B. Talai, R. Stewart, and D. Lolok, RVO.


Masaya (Nicaragua) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Incandescence in lava lake

Bright yellow incandescence was observed on the evening of 31 August through a window in the cooling lava lake at the base of Santiago Crater. Jetting sounds made by escaping gases could be heard from the crater rim. New incandescence in the bottom of the crater, reported on 16 June (BGVN 18:06 and 18:07), was the first since February-March 1989 (14:2, 4, and 6). Fumaroles located on the narrow plateau between Santiago and Masaya craters were passively degassing, and their temperatures ranged from 45-65°C.

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

Information Contacts: M. Conway and A. Macfarlane, FIU; Charles Connor, CNWA Bldg. 168, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510; Oscar Leonel Urbina and C. Lugo, INETER.


Momotombo (Nicaragua) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Momotombo

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strong fumarolic activity but temperatures decline

Fumarolic activity in the crater remained strong and a large steam plume was observed continuously during the first week of September. Temperatures measured during a crater visit on 6 September ranged from 200-604°C. Fumarole temperatures are 100-300°C cooler that those reported in the 1980's. Native sulfur deposits were associated with low-to-moderate temperature fumaroles, while cavities of high-temperature vents were lined with a black mineral tentatively identified as magnetite. A strong SO2 odor permeated the air.

The trail to the crater had been cut by numerous rock avalanches during the past 18 months. Avalanche chutes, measuring tens of meters across and several meters deep, were most prominent near the summit, E of where the trail enters the crater. The crater can still be accessed by scrambling across these chutes, but there exists a strong potential for further avalanches of pyroclastic breccias from above. Nearby residents have recently reported deep rumblings from the volcano.

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

Information Contacts: Michael Conway and Andrew Macfarlane, FIU; Charles Connor, Southwest Research Institute; Oscar Leonel Urbina and Cristian Lugo, INETER.


Cerro Negro (Nicaragua) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Cerro Negro

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumarolic activity along crater rim

Fumaroles observed during several visits to Cerro Negro on 2-5 September were issuing from circumferential fractures along the N rim of the crater and from feeder dikes in the base of the crater. Fumaroles along the crater rim exhibited weak and variable degassing, with temperatures ranging from 79 to 90°C. Stronger fumaroles remained confined to the feeder dikes within the crater. No attempt was made to enter the crater because of steep and unstable slopes. Little evidence of mass slumping of unconsolidated material from the crater wall was observed.

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

Information Contacts: Michael Conway and Andrew Macfarlane, Florida International Univ; Charles Connor, Southwest Research Institute; Oscar Leonel Urbina and Cristian Lugo, Instituto Nicaraguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Nicaragua.


Las Pilas (Nicaragua) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Las Pilas

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak fumarolic activity

A continuous white plume from El Hoyo was easily visible at distances of 5-10 km from the volcano throughout the entire first week of September.

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

Information Contacts: Michael Conway and Andrew Macfarlane, FIU; Charles Connor, CNWA Bldg. 168, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510; Oscar Leonel Urbina and Cristian Lugo, INETER.


Pinatubo (Philippines) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Pinatubo

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lahars produced by typhoon rains cause additional damage

Lahar activity that began in late June following the onset of the rainy season continued in early October. Intense rainfall triggered lahars from the slopes of Mount Pinatubo on 4-6 October 1993. Flow sensors along the O'Donnell-Tarlac River (NE) detected lahar events at 0400-1800 on 4 October. Lahars along the Pasig-Potrero (SE) and Sacobia-Bamban (E) rivers occurred from about 2130 on 4 October to 0600 on 5 October. All three drainages had a second episode of lahar activity between 1630 on 5 October and 0830 on 6 October. The first episode was generated during westward passage of a typhoon over Luzon Island towards the South China Sea; the second was triggered when the same typhoon turned back towards NE Luzon. Another typhoon crossed Luzon from the South China Sea on 7 October and caused smaller lahar events in the late afternoon (1550-1920). On 4-7 October about 145 mm of rainfall was measured in the middle of the Sacobia Pyroclastic Fan, drained by the Pasig-Potrero and Sacobia-Bamban rivers.

Along the Pasig-Potrero River, an early morning debris flow on 5 October deposited 4-5 m of sediment near Mancatian (~8 km SW of Angeles, see 18:8 for map) and buried Mancatian Bridge 2 (400 m W of the main Pasig-Potrero channel) and tens of houses. An active flow that afternoon nearly overtopped the earthen dike along the channel. Erosion caused by debris flows near Mancatian on 6 October re-exposed the bridge. Deposition occurred farther downstream during the second episode. Lahars on 6 October overtopped the earthen dike about 6 km from the bridge between the villages of Mitla and Balas, depositing 3 m of debris in some barangays (communities) E and NE of Santa Rita (9-11 km downstream of Mancatian), and burying hundreds of houses. Lahar deposits downstream of the Pasig-Potrero River were 2.5-3.0 m thick in Mitla (in-channel), 0.5-3.0 m in San Basilio, 2.0-3.0 m in Balas and San Isidro, and 1.5 m thick in San Jose.

Lahars along the Sacobia-Bamban River on 4-6 October resulted in 5 m of deposition at Macapagal village, shifting the active channel 100 m N. Scouring near the original highway in Mabalacat during the early part of the 5 October lahar flows damaged portions of the Mabalacat dike. Flows that afternoon and evening resulted in 2.0-2.5 m of in-channel deposition and eroded the approach of the road connecting Mabalacat and Bamban. Deposition along the side of the dike lessened the freeboard to 1.6 m in the stretch about 600-700 m E of the hill where the dike was anchored. Field investigations on 7 October revealed 2-3 m of deposition at a barangay in Mabalacat. Muddy to hyperconcentrated stream flows reached as far as barangay San Roque, Magalang. Earlier events on 5 October deposited 30-40 cm of debris below the San Roque Bridge; vertical clearance is now only about 1 m. Sediments up to 10 mm thick were observed in the vicinity of barangay San Roque. Strong discharge of muddy stream flow about 200 m from the San Francisco Bridge outside the S dike has partially damaged some portions of the Concepcion-Magalang Road. No significant lahars were noted along the main channel at the San Francisco Bridge.

An aerial survey of the O'Donnell River on 13 October revealed fresh deposits down to Santa Lucia, 12 km from the headwaters. Significant deposition was observed along the stretch from Crow Valley (2 km from the headwaters) down to Santa Juliana, 8 km away.

The Zambales Lahar Scientific Monitoring Group (ZLSMG) noted that heavy runoff from Mapanuepe Lake (Santo Tomas-Marella drainage, SW) began to overtop the Santo Tomas protective dike in two places on the evening of 4-5 October. Near the abandoned Western Luzon Agricultural College, the dike that had been breached on 19 August and temporarily repaired was breached again to the W on the evening of 5 October. An E overtopping caused flooding of the highway along Magsaysay and in several villages, including Barangay Magsaysay and the town of Castillejos. As of 7 October, all the heavy Mapanuepe flow was passing through the gap and fanning through most of San Marcelino, causing flooding to depths of 2-4 m. Tens of thousands of people have been isolated by damage to the National Highway, and are facing continuing threats from lahars and flash flooding, particularly in Castillejos and San Marcelino. Vehicular traffic between Castillejos and San Marcelino was badly hampered by the flooding, and was impossible from San Marcelino to San Antonio and San Narciso. The dikes N and S of the Santo Tomas River are in very precarious shape, and floodwaters and dilute lahars from the Marella and Upper Santo Tomas River threaten the municipalities of San Felipe and San Narciso.

Massive debris flows into Barangay Santa Fe, triggered by heavy rains from the afternoon of 4 October through 6 October, caused three confirmed deaths, according to the ZLSMG. At least 11 others were missing and presumed dead as of 7 October, including nine people who were working in the middle of the lahar field on a private contract to manipulate the Marella and Mapanuepe drainages.

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

Information Contacts: Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Philippines; R. Alonso, K. Rodolfo, and R. Tamayo, Zambales Lahar Scientific Monitoring Group.


Poas (Costa Rica) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Poas

Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing minor activity in crater lake; seismicity remains moderate

Fumarolic activity continued at Poás on the N and NW sides of the 200-m-diameter lake in the active crater. Conditions at Poás have remained similar since last reported in June 1993. As before, localized fumarolic activity within the lake center exhibited both constant bubbling, and occasional geysering that reached as high as several meters above the lake surface. Escaping gases made strong jet-like sounds in June but these had clearly diminished by August. The bulk of the lake was turquoise green and had a temperature of 64°C.

During September the seismic station POA2, located 2.7 km SW of the main crater, registered a total of 3,865 low-frequency events. This was similar to levels of the past several months, and reflects a decrease from just over 6,000 events registered in January and February 1993 (figure 46).

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

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obaldia, T. Marino, V. Barboza, and R. Sáenz, OVSICORI; G. Soto, ICE.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — September 1993 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)


Seismicity declines to normal levels

"Seismic activity remained low in July as 394 earthquakes were recorded . . . . The majority of the located earthquakes were in the W part of the caldera seismic zone at depths <2 km. In August, seismic activity increased slightly with 781 earthquakes detected. Most of the earthquakes were small and only 20 were locatable . . . . The epicenters were mainly around the N and E parts of the caldera seismic zone. Seismic swarms were recorded on 6-7 August (S of Tavurvur) and on 15 August (Greet Harbour). No caldera earthquakes were felt during the month. Seismicity returned to normal levels in September with 464 caldera earthquakes recorded. The locatable events numbered 15 and were distributed in the NW, N, and NE parts of the caldera seismic zone.

"Levelling measurements in July showed slight uplift at the S end of Matupit Island, although less than was recorded in June. Additional measurements on 30 August again showed uplift. The change since the previous survey (27 July) was 10-15 mm. Uplift for the past 12 months at the S end of the island was 79-95 mm. Ground deformation measurements were restricted to water-tube tilt observations and no significant changes were recorded."

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, N. Lauer, L. Sipison, B. Talai, R. Stewart, and D. Lolok, RVO.


Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Crater lake level drops 10 m

A visit to the active crater on 6 October took place in bad weather, but scientists found strong fumarolic activity and a >10 m drop in lake level compared to September 1992. The lake level began changing after the 8 May 1991 phreatic eruption.

Low-frequency microseismic activity increased over the last 3 months, with three events in July, five events in August, and 93 events in September. Tremor was not reported in July, 165 minutes of tremor occurred in August, and no tremor was detected in September. Dry-tilt for the interval from November 1992 to July 1993 indicated an 11 µrad radial deflation; in contrast, the majority of intervals as far back as 1987 showed little or no change.

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

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obaldia, T. Marino, V. Barboza, and R. Sáenz, OVSICORI; G. Soto, Guillermo E. Alvarado, and Francisco Arias, ICE; Héctor Flores, Univ. de Costa Rica.


San Cristobal (Nicaragua) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

San Cristobal

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Large steam plume

A large steam plume was observed at the volcano each day during the first week of September. The plume was clearly visible at distances tens of kilometers from the vent, and apparently filled the entire crater.

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

Information Contacts: Michael Conway and Andrew Macfarlane, Florida International Univ; Charles Connor, Southwest Research Institute; Oscar Leonel Urbina and Cristian Lugo, INETER.


Stromboli (Italy) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruptive activity and seismicity decline from high levels in May; two strong explosions in October

After the eruption of a small lava flow in mid-May accompanied by high seismicity, there was an abrupt decay of seismic activity back to "normal levels" in early June (figure 31). Stromboli guides reported very low activity at the craters, with rare ejection of black ash from crater C3 and spatter from C1 during May to August. Two strong explosions felt at 0210 on 16 October destroyed the small spatter cone in C3 that was built during the October 1990 eruption. Large blocks and spatter up to 2 m in diameter were ejected as far as 500 m from the crater, and reddish ash fell on the NW slope of the volcano along the Sciara del Fuoco. One woman was injured by hot ashes while sleeping near the crater area, and some bushes caught fire along the slopes. Tremor had begun to increase around 1100 of the previous day and then fell below the detection limits of the instruments one hour after the explosions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Seismicity recorded at Stromboli, May-August 1993. Open bars show the number of recorded events/day, the solid bars those with ground velocities >100 microns/second. The lines show daily tremor energy computed by averaging hourly 60-second samples. Courtesy of M. Riuscetti.

Geologic Background. Spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions at this volcano have long attracted visitors to the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean." Stromboli, the NE-most of the Aeolian Islands, has lent its name to the frequent mild explosive activity that has characterized its eruptions throughout much of historical time. The small island is the emergent summit of a volcano that grew in two main eruptive cycles, the last of which formed the western portion of the island. The Neostromboli eruptive period from about 13,000 to 5000 years ago was followed by formation of the modern edifice. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a prominent horseshoe-shaped scarp formed about 5000 years ago as a result of the most recent of a series of slope failures that extend to below sea level. The modern volcano has been constructed within this scarp, which funnels pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows to the NW. Essentially continuous mild strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded for more than a millennium.

Information Contacts: M. Riuscetti, Univ di Udine.


Telica (Nicaragua) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Telica

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Moderate fumarolic activity

On the afternoon of 2 September, the summit area of Telica was visited to gather data on fumarole temperatures and gas compositions. Fumaroles on the flank of a somma wall E of Telica measured 85°C. Fumaroles along angular fractures in the crater appeared strong, but were inaccessible.

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

Information Contacts: Michael Conway and Andrew Macfarlane, Florida International Univ; Charles Connor, Southwest Research Institute; Oscar Leonel Urbina and Cristian Lugo, INETER.


Turrialba (Costa Rica) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Turrialba

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Regional earthquake causes visible cracks in crater area

Seismic station VTU, 0.5 km E of the main crater, recorded sporadic low-frequency microseismic activity in June-September. The number of events recorded ranged from 28 in June to 5 in July; specific values were not reported for August and September. An earthquake of M 5.0 took place on 10 July about 25.5 km to the SE. As a result of the earthquake, small cracks developed along the S margin of the central crater. Fumarolic activity continued from the N, NW, and SW walls of the main crater. On 13 July, fumarolic gases had a temperature of 90°C and a pH of 4.6. Temperature measurements in 1982 and 1985 show comparable values of 86°C and 85°C, respectively.

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

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, J. Barquero, R. Van der Laat, F. de Obaldia, T. Marino, V. Barboza, and R. Sáenz, OVSICORI.


Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Ulawun

Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Vapor emissions; slight increase in seismicity

"Visual activity continued to remain at low levels during June, July, August, and September. Emissions consisted of weak-to-moderate white vapour from June through August, with occasional white/blue vapour in June, August, and September. The RSAM seismic monitor showed an increase in activity for some short periods in July. It was not possible to confirm these observations from the conventional seismograph due to severe radio interference. The few records that were readable appeared to show low-frequency events or short bursts of tremor at times consistent with the RSAM observations. Seismic activity was low in June, August, and September."

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

Information Contacts: C. McKee, N. Lauer, L. Sipison, B. Talai, R. Stewart, and D. Lolok, RVO.


Unzendake (Japan) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Unzendake

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Growth of lobe 11 generates pyroclastic flows; seismicity decreases

Exogenous growth of lobe 11 . . . continued through early October (figure 62). The dome reached an approximate length of 900 m and width of 700 m with a maximum height difference of ~450 m from the top of lobe 10 (1,420 m) and the lower edge of lobe 11 (970 m). The eruption rate during this period was 1-2 x 105 m3/day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. Sketch map of the lobes at Unzen, September 1993. Note that N is to the right. Courtesy of S. Nakada.

Lobe 11 grew exogenously to the E, becoming ~800 m long and 400 m wide in mid-October and maintaining its ramp structure as it advanced forward. The frontal part of the lobe became steeper and the lava over the vent area gradually thickened. The front of the lobe was buried with its own collapsed material but still continued moving forward. The lobe widened as new lava was squeezed out along both sides, pushing older lava lobes around it and generating rockfalls and pyroclastic flows.

The monthly total of seismically counted pyroclastic flows was 138 in September, at similar levels to August (134). Growth at lobe 11 generated pyroclastic flows from partial collapses to the E and NE at a rate of about five events/day. However, no new property damage was caused by the flows. The largest flow of the month traveled 3 km NE in the Oshiga valley on 9 September with a seismic duration of 100 seconds. The highest ash cloud of the month, generated by a pyroclastic flow, rose 1,700 m above the summit on 16 September. Seismicity at the lava dome was relatively low in September with 1,032 small shocks recorded, significantly reduced from 12,946 in August. The number of residents evacuated . . . remained at 3,617, unchanged since early July.

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.


Yanteles (Chile) — September 1993 Citation iconCite this Report

Yanteles

Chile

43.497°S, 72.81°W; summit elev. 2049 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumarolic and solfataric activity

Fieldwork on 7 September 1992 revealed solfataric activity consisting of steam and sulfurous gas emissions. Only steam was observed on 14 September 1993.

Geologic Background. Little-known Yanteles volcano in southern Chile is composed of five glacier-capped peaks along an 8-km-long NE-trending ridge. Several Holocene tephra layers have been documented, but historical activity from this 2042-m-high, andesitic volcanic complex is uncertain. Although there were reports of an eruption at the time of the 20 February 1835 Chile earthquake, and Sapper (1917) reported that previously unseen black areas were seen near the crater after the 1835 earthquake, the nature of this activity is not clear.

Information Contacts: M. Petit-Breuilh and G. Fuentealba, Univ de La Frontera.

Atmospheric Effects

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

View Atmospheric Effects Reports

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

View Special Announcements Reports

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


Central Chile and Argentina


Estero de Parraguirre


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

08/1997 (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/).