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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

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

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


Recently Published Bulletin Reports

Ibu (Indonesia) Frequent ash plumes and small lava flows active in the crater through June 2019

Ebeko (Russia) Continuing frequent moderate explosions though May 2019; ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk

Klyuchevskoy (Russia) Weak thermal anomalies and moderate Strombolian-type eruptions in September 2018-June 2019

Yasur (Vanuatu) Strong thermal activity with incandescent ejecta continues, February-May 2019

Bagana (Papua New Guinea) Infrequent thermal anomalies, no ash emissions, February-May 2019

Ambae (Vanuatu) Declining thermal activity and no explosions during February-May 2019

Sangay (Ecuador) Explosion on 26 March 2019; activity from 10 May through June produced ash plumes, lava flows, and pyroclastic flows

Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) Ash emissions and thermal anomalies during October 2018-April 2019; lava emissions at the E flank coast and summit area

Sarychev Peak (Russia) Brief ash emission reported on 16 May 2019

Nyiragongo (DR Congo) Lava lake remains active through May 2019; three new vents around the secondary cone

Bezymianny (Russia) Ongoing thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam plumes, and lava dome growth during February-May 2019; strong explosion in mid-March

Nevados de Chillan (Chile) Small ash explosions and dome growth during December 2018-May 2019; ballistic ejecta deposited around the crater, with a pyroclastic flow in May



Ibu (Indonesia) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ibu

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent ash plumes and small lava flows active in the crater through June 2019

Ibu volcano on Halmahera island in Indonesia began the current eruption episode on 5 April 2008. Since then, activity has largely consisted of small ash plumes with less frequent lava flows, lava dome growth, avalanches, and larger ash plumes up to 5.5 km above the crater. This report summarizes activity during December 2018 through June 2019 and is based on Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) reports by MAGMA Indonesia, reports by Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG) and Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), and various satellite data.

During December PVMBG reported ash plumes ranging from 200 to 800 m above the crater. There were 11 MODVOLC thermal alerts that registered during 1-12 December. An explosion on 12 January 2019 produced an ash plume that reached 800 m above the crater and dispersed to the S (figure 15). A report released for this event by Sutopo at BNPB said that Ibu had erupted almost every day over the past three months; an example given was of activity on 10 January consisting of 80 explosions. There were four MODVOLC thermal alerts through the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. An eruption at Ibu at 1712 on 21 January 2019 produced an ash plume that rose to 800 m above the crater. Courtesy of BNPB (color adjusted).

Throughout February explosions frequently produced ash plumes as high as 800 m above the crater, and nine MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued. Daily reports showed variable plume heights of 200-800 m most days throughout the month. Wind directions varied and dispersed the plumes in all directions. A VONA released at 1850 on 6 February reported an ash plume that rose to 1,925 m altitude (around 600 m above the summit) and dispersed S. Activity continued through March with the Darwin VAAC and PVMBG reporting explosions producing ash plumes to heights of 200-800 m above the crater and dispersing in various directions. There were ten MODVOLC alerts through the month.

Similar activity continued through April, May, and June, with ash plumes reaching 200-800 m above the crater. There were 12, 6, and 15 MODVOLC Alerts in April, May, and June, respectively.

Planet Scope satellite images show activity at a two vents near the center of the crater that were producing small lava flows from February through June (figure 16). Thermal anomalies were frequent during December 2018 through June 2019 across MODVOLC, MIROVA, and Sentinel-2 infrared data (figures 17 and 18). Sentinel-2 data showed minor variation in the location of thermal anomalies within the crater, possibly indicating lava flow activity, and MIROVA data showed relatively constant activity with a few reductions in thermal activity during January and February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Planet Scope natural color satellite images showing activity in the Ibu crater during January through June 2019, with white arrows indicating sites of activity. One vent is visible in the 21 February image, and a 330-m-long (from the far side of the vent) lava flow with flow ridges had developed by 24 March. A second vent was active by 12 May with a new lava flow reaching a maximum length of 520 m. Activity was centered back at the previous vent by 23-27 June. Natural color Planet Scope Imagery, copyright 2019 Planet Labs, Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Examples of thermal activity in the Ibu crater during January through May 2019. These Sentinel-2 satellite images show variations in hot areas in the crater due to a vent producing a small lava flow. Sentinel-2 false color (urban) images (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. MIROVA log radiative power plot of MODIS thermal infrared at Ibu from September 2018 through June 2019. The registered energy was relatively stable through December, with breaks in January and February. Regular thermal anomalies continued with slight variation through to the end of June. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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/); Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38, East Jakarta 13120, Indonesia (URL: http://www.bnpb.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); 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); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/).


Ebeko (Russia) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ebeko

Russia

50.686°N, 156.014°E; summit elev. 1103 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuing frequent moderate explosions though May 2019; ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk

The Ebeko volcano, located on the northern end of the Paramushir Island in the Kuril Islands, consists of many craters, lakes, and thermal features and has been frequently erupting since late February 2017. Typical activity includes ash plumes, explosive eruptions, and gas-and-steam activity. The previous report through November 2018 (BGVN 43:12) described frequent ash explosions that sometimes caused ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk (7 km E). The primary source of information is the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT). This report updates the volcanic activity at Ebeko for December 2018 through May 2019.

Frequent moderate explosive activity continued after November 2018. Volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk observed explosions sending up ash, which drifted N, NE, and E, resulting in ash falls on Severo-Kurilsk on 28 different days between December 2018 and March 2019. On 25 December 2018 an explosion sent ash up to a maximum altitude of 4.5 km and then drifted N for about 5 km. Explosions occurring on 8-10 March 2019 sent ash up to an altitude of 4 km, resulting in ashfall on Severo-Kurilsk on 9-10 March 2019. An ash plume from these explosions rose to a height of 2.5 km and drifted to a maximum distance of 30 km ENE.

Satellite data analyzed by KVERT registered 12 thermal anomalies from December 2018 through May 2019. According to satellite data analyzed by MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), only one thermal anomaly was recorded from December 2018-May 2019, and no hotspot pixels were recognized using satellite thermal data from the MODVOLC algorithm.

Geologic Background. The flat-topped summit of the central cone of Ebeko volcano, one of the most active in the Kuril Islands, occupies the northern end of Paramushir Island. Three summit craters located along a SSW-NNE line form Ebeko volcano proper, at the northern end of a complex of five volcanic cones. Blocky lava flows extend west from Ebeko and SE from the neighboring Nezametnyi cone. The eastern part of the southern crater contains strong solfataras and a large boiling spring. The central crater is filled by a lake about 20 m deep whose shores are lined with steaming solfataras; the northern crater lies across a narrow, low barrier from the central crater and contains a small, cold crescentic lake. Historical activity, recorded since the late-18th century, has been restricted to small-to-moderate explosive eruptions from the summit craters. Intense fumarolic activity occurs in the summit craters, on the outer flanks of the cone, and in lateral explosion craters.

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).


Klyuchevskoy (Russia) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Klyuchevskoy

Russia

56.056°N, 160.642°E; summit elev. 4754 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak thermal anomalies and moderate Strombolian-type eruptions in September 2018-June 2019

Klyuchevskoy has had alternating eruptive and less active periods since August 2015. Activity has included lava flows, a growing cinder cone, thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam plumes, and ash explosions. Though some eruptions occur near the summit crater, major explosive and effusive eruptions have also occurred from flank craters (BGVN 42:04 and 43:05). Intermittent moderate gas-and-steam and ash emissions were previously reported from mid-February to mid-August 2018. The Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT) is the primary source of information for this September 2018-June 2019 reporting period.

KVERT reported that moderate gas-and-steam activity, some of which contained a small amount of ash, and weak thermal anomalies occurred intermittently from the beginning of September 2018 through mid-April 2019. On 21-22 April 2019 webcam data showed a gas-and-steam plume extending about 160 km SE (figure 31). Moderate Strombolian-type volcanism began late April 2019 and continued intermittently through June 2019. On 11-12 June webcam data showed explosions that sent ash up to a maximum altitude of 6 km, with the resulting ash plume extending about 200 km WNW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Gas-and-steam plume containing some amount of ash rising from the summit of Klyuchevskoy on 22 April 2019. Photo by A. Klimova, courtesy of Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (IVS FEB RAS).

Thermal anomalies were noted by KVERT during two days in September 2018, six days in April 2019, eleven days in May 2019, and six days in June 2019. MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed infrequent weak thermal anomalies December 2018 through early May 2019.

Geologic Background. Klyuchevskoy (also spelled Kliuchevskoi) is Kamchatka's highest and most active volcano. Since its origin about 6000 years ago, the beautifully symmetrical, 4835-m-high basaltic stratovolcano has produced frequent moderate-volume explosive and effusive eruptions without major periods of inactivity. It rises above a saddle NE of sharp-peaked Kamen volcano and lies SE of the broad Ushkovsky massif. More than 100 flank eruptions have occurred during the past roughly 3000 years, with most lateral craters and cones occurring along radial fissures between the unconfined NE-to-SE flanks of the conical volcano between 500 m and 3600 m elevation. The morphology of the 700-m-wide summit crater has been frequently modified by historical eruptions, which have been recorded since the late-17th century. Historical eruptions have originated primarily from the summit crater, but have also included numerous major explosive and effusive eruptions from flank craters.

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


Yasur (Vanuatu) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Yasur

Vanuatu

19.532°S, 169.447°E; summit elev. 361 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strong thermal activity with incandescent ejecta continues, February-May 2019

Yasur volcano on Tanna Island has been characterized by Strombolian activity with large incandescent bombs, frequent explosions, lava fountaining, and ash emissions for much of its known eruptive history. Melanesians from nearby islands are believed to have settled Tanna in about 400 BCE; it is now part of the nation of Vanuatu, independent since 1980. The Kwamera language (or Tannese) spoken on the SE coast of the island is thought to be the source of the name of the island. No known oral history describes volcanic activity; the first written English-language documentation of activity dates to 5 August 1774, when Captain James Cook saw "a great fire" on Tanna Island. Cook realized that it "was a Volcano which threw up vast quantities of fire and smoak and made a rumbling noise which was heard at a good distance" (The Captain Cook Society) (figure 51).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Incandescence, steam, and dark ash from Yasur fill the sky in this sketch representing Captain James Cook's landing in the 'Resolution' at Tanna Island on 5 August 1774. The form of the volcano is behind the ship, the incandescence is in the upper right next to the ship's masts. "Landing at Tanna" by William Hodges, 1775-1776, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. The Maritime Museum noted that this is one of a group of panel paintings produced by Hodges of encounters with islanders during the voyage, in which the European perception of each society at the time is portrayed. Image taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Based on numerous accounts from ships logs and other sources, volcanic activity has been continuous since that time. During periods of higher activity, multiple vents within the summit crater send ejecta 100 m or more above the crater rim, with large bombs occasionally landing hundreds of meters away. Continued activity during February-May 2019 is covered in this report with information provided by the Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) which monitors the volcano and satellite data; photographs from tourists also provide valuable information about this remote location.

VMGD has maintained Alert Level 2 at Yasur since October 2016, indicating that it is in a major state of unrest. There is a permanent exclusion zone within 395 m of the eruptive vents where access is prohibited due to multiple hazards, primarily from large incandescent bombs up to 4 m in diameter which have been ejected from the vents onto the crater rim in the past, resulting in fatalities (BGVN 20:08).

Satellite and ground based information all support high levels of thermal activity during February -May 2019. MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued 11 times in February, 27 times in March, and 20 times each in April and May. The MIROVA graph also indicated the ongoing consistently high levels of thermal energy throughout the period (figure 52). Plumes of SO2 emissions are common from Vanuatu's volcanoes; newer higher resolution data available beginning in 2019 reveal a persistent stream of SO2 from Yasur on a near-daily basis (figure 53).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. The MIROVA graph of thermal energy at Yasur from 3 September 2018 through May 2019 indicates the ongoing activity at the volcano. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. The SO2 plumes from Yasur were persistent during January-May 2019 when they were visible many days of each week throughout the period. Top left: On 12 January plumes were visible drifting E from both Ambrym (top) and Yasur (bottom). Top right: Plumes drifted W from three Vanuatu volcanoes on 7 February, Gaua (top), Ambrym (middle) and Yasur (bottom). Bottom left: On 12 March N drifting plumes could be seen from Ambae (top) and Yasur (bottom). On 27 April, only Yasur had an SO2 plume drifting W. Courtesy of Goddard Space Flight Center.

Satellite imagery confirmed that the heat sources from Yasur were vents within the summit crater of the pyroclastic cone. Both northern and southern vent areas were active. On 7 March 2019 the N vent area had a strong thermal signal. Ten days later, on 17 March, similar intensity thermal anomalies were present in both the N and S vent areas (figure 54). On 6 April the S vent area had a stronger signal, and gas emissions from both vents were drifting N (figure 55). Satellite imagery from 21 May 2019 indicated a strong thermal signal inside the crater in the area of the vents, and included a weaker signal clearly visible on the inside E crater rim. Strong Strombolian activity or spatter sending large incandescent bombs as far as the crater rim are a likely explanation for the signal (figure 56), underscoring the hazardous nature of approaching the crater rim.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. Strong thermal anomalies from the crater of Yasur's pyroclastic cone seen in satellite images confirmed the ongoing high level of activity. Left: 7 March 2019, a strong thermal anomaly from the N vent area, shown with "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2). Right: 17 March 2019, thermal anomalies at both the N and S vent areas, shown with "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). The crater is about 500 m in diameter. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Strong thermal anomalies (left) and gas emissions (right) at Yasur were captured with different bands in the same Sentinel-2 satellite image on 6 April 2019. Left: The thermal anomaly in the S vent area was stronger than in the N vent area, "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Right: Gas plumes drifted N from both vent areas, "Natural color" rendering (bands 4, 3, 2). The crater is about 500 m in diameter. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Thermal activity from the crater of Yasur on 21 May 2019 produced a strong thermal signal from the center of the crater and a weaker signal on the inside E crater rim, likely the result of hazardous incandescent bombs and ejecta, frequent products of the activity at Yasur. Left: "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Right: "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2). The crater is about 0.5 km in diameter. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Tourists visit Yasur on a regular basis. A former lake on the N side of Yasur has left ripples in the sand deposits over older volcanic rocks on the N side of the volcano (figure 57) since it drained in 2000 (BGVN 28:01). Visitors are allowed to approach the S rim of the crater where incandescence from both the N and S vents is usually visible (figure 58). Incandescent spatter from the convecting lava in the vents is highly dangerous and unpredictable and often covers the inner slopes of the rim as well as sending bombs outside the crater (figure 59).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. The pyroclastic cone of Yasur viewed from the north on 6 May 2019. Ripples in volcaniclastic sand in the foreground are remnants of a lake that was present on the N side of the volcano until a natural dam breached in 2000. Copyrighted photo by Nick Page, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Two glowing vents were visible from the south rim of Yasur on 6 May 2019. The S vent area is in the foreground, the N vent area is in the upper left. Copyrighted by Nick Page, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Incandescent spatter at Yasur on 6 May 2019 sent fragments of lava against the inside crater wall and onto the rim. The convecting lava in the vent can be seen in the lower foreground. Copyrighted photo by Nick Page, used with permission.

Geologic Background. Yasur, the best-known and most frequently visited of the Vanuatu volcanoes, has been in more-or-less continuous Strombolian and Vulcanian activity since Captain Cook observed ash eruptions in 1774. This style of activity may have continued for the past 800 years. Located at the SE tip of Tanna Island, this mostly unvegetated pyroclastic cone has a nearly circular, 400-m-wide summit crater. The active cone is largely contained within the small Yenkahe caldera, and is the youngest of a group of Holocene volcanic centers constructed over the down-dropped NE flank of the Pleistocene Tukosmeru volcano. The Yenkahe horst is located within the Siwi ring fracture, a 4-km-wide, horseshoe-shaped caldera associated with eruption of the andesitic Siwi pyroclastic sequence. Active tectonism along the Yenkahe horst accompanying eruptions has raised Port Resolution harbor more than 20 m during the past century.

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); 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); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); The Captain Cook Society (URL: https://www.captaincooksociety.com/home/detail/225-years-ago-july-september-1774); Royal Museums Greenwich (URL: https://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/13383.html); Wikimedia Commons, (URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Landing_at_Tana_one_of_the_New_Hebrides,_by_William_Hodges.jpg); Nick Page, Australia,Flickr: (URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/152585166@N08/).


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

Bagana

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Infrequent thermal anomalies, no ash emissions, February-May 2019

With historical eruptions reported back to 1842, Papua New Guinea's Bagana volcano on the island of Bougainville has been characterized by viscous andesitic lava flows down the steep flanks of its cone, along with intermittent ash plumes and pyroclastic flows. Ongoing thermal anomalies and frequent ash plumes have been typical of activity during the current eruption since it began in early 2000. Activity declined significantly in December 2018 and remained low through May 2019, the period covered in this report (figure 33). Information for this report comes primarily from satellite images and thermal data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. The MIROVA plot of radiative power at Bagana from 1 September 2018 through May 2019 shows a marked decline in thermal activity during December 2018 after ash explosions and satellite observations of flows during the previous months. Courtesy of MIROVA.

The last ash emission at Bagana was reported on 1 December 2018 by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). A Sentinel-2 satellite image showed a linear thermal anomaly trending NW from the summit on 14 December (BGVN 50:01). On 8 January 2019, an image contained a dense steam plume drifting E and a very faint thermal anomaly on the N flank a few hundred meters from the summit. A more distinct thermal anomaly at the summit appeared on 22 February 2019 (figure 34). A visitor to the region photographed incandescence on the flank, likely from the volcano, at dawn around 19 February 2019 (figure 35).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery revealed thermal anomalies at Bagana in January and February 2019. Left: a very faint thermal anomaly was N of the summit at the edge of the E-drifting steam plume on 8 January 2019. Right: A thermal anomaly was located at the summit, at the base of the NE-drifting steam plume on 22 February 2019. Sentinel-2 satellite images with "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. A visitor near Bagana spotted incandescence on the flank at dawn, possibly from a lava flow. Posted online 19 February 2019. Courtesy of Emily Stanford.

Two faint thermal anomalies were visible at the summit in satellite imagery on 19 March; a single one appeared on 29 March 2019 (figure 36). No thermal anomalies were recorded in Sentinel-2 images during April or May, but steam plumes and gas emissions were visible through cloud cover on multiple occasions (figure 37).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Faint thermal anomalies at Bagana were recorded in satellite imagery twice during March 2019. Left: 19 March, two anomalies appear right of the date label. Right: 29 March, a small anomaly appears right of the date label. Sentinel-2 image rendered with "Atmospheric Penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Steam and gas emissions at Bagana were recorded in satellite imagery during April and May 2019. Left: A steam plume drifted NW from the summit on 23 April, visible through dense cloud cover. Right: A gas plume drifted SW from the summit on 18 May. Sentinel-2 image with "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Emily Stanford (Twitter: https://twitter.com/NerdyBatLady, image posted at https://twitter.com/NerdyBatLady/status/1098052063009792001/photo/1).


Ambae (Vanuatu) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambae

Vanuatu

15.389°S, 167.835°E; summit elev. 1496 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Declining thermal activity and no explosions during February-May 2019

Ambae (Aoba) is a large basaltic shield volcano in the New Hebrides arc, part of the multi-island country of Vanuatu. Its periodic phreatic and pyroclastic explosions originating in the summit crater lakes have been recorded since the 16th century. A pyroclastic cone appeared in Lake Voui during November 2005-February 2006 (BGVN 31:12, figure 30); an explosive eruption from a new pyroclastic cone in the lake began in mid-September 2017 (BGVN 43:02). Activity included high-altitude ash emissions (9.1 km), lava flows, and Strombolian activity. Intermittent pulses of ash emissions during the following months resulted in extensive ashfall and evacuations; multiple communities were affected by lahars. The most recent episode of the eruption from July to September 2018 (BGVN 44:02) resulted in 11-km-altitude ash plumes and the evacuation of the entire island due to heavy ashfall and lahars. This report covers activity from February to May 2019, with information provided by the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) and satellite data from multiple sources.

Activity diminished after the extensive eruptive phase of July-September 2018 when substantial ash plumes and ashfall resulted in evacuations. An explosion with an ash plume on 30 October 2018 was the last activity reported for 2018. Thermal alerts were reported by the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) MODVOLC thermal alerts system through January 2019, and the Log Radiative Power graph prepared by the MIROVA project showed decreasing thermal anomalies into June 2019 (figure 92). Satellite images recorded in April and May 2019 (figure 93) showed the configuration of the summit lakes to be little changed from the previous November except for the color (BGVN 44:02, figure 89). No ash emissions or SO2 plumes were reported during the period. VMGD noted that the volcano remained at Alert Level 2 through May 2019 with a 2-km-radius exclusion zone around the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. The MIROVA log radiative power plot for Ambae showed ongoing intermittent thermal anomalies from early September 2018 through May 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. Satellite imagery in April and May 2019 showed little change in the configuration of lakes at the summit of Ambae since November 2018 (see BGVN 44:02, figure 89). Left: 24 April 2019. Right: 29 May 2019. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery with "Natural Color" rendering (bands 4, 3, 2); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The island of Ambae, also known as Aoba, is a massive 2500 km3 basaltic shield that is the most voluminous volcano of the New Hebrides archipelago. A pronounced NE-SW-trending rift zone dotted with scoria cones gives the 16 x 38 km island an elongated form. A broad pyroclastic cone containing three crater lakes (Manaro Ngoru, Voui, and Manaro Lakua) is located at the summit within the youngest of at least two nested calderas, the largest of which is 6 km in diameter. That large central edifice is also called Manaro Voui or Lombenben volcano. Post-caldera explosive eruptions formed the summit craters about 360 years ago. A tuff cone was constructed within Lake Voui (or Vui) about 60 years later. The latest known flank eruption, about 300 years ago, destroyed the population of the Nduindui area near the western coast.

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); 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).


Sangay (Ecuador) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Sangay

Ecuador

2.005°S, 78.341°W; summit elev. 5286 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosion on 26 March 2019; activity from 10 May through June produced ash plumes, lava flows, and pyroclastic flows

Sangay is the southernmost active volcano in Ecuador, with confirmed historical eruptions going back to 1628. The previous eruption occurred during August and December and was characterized by ash plumes reaching 2,500 m above the crater. Lava flows and pyroclastic flows descended the eastern and southern flanks. This report summarizes activity during January through July 2019 and is based on reports by Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

After the December 2018 eruption there was a larger reduction in seismicity, down to one event per day. During January, February, and most of March there was no recorded activity and low seismicity until the Washington VAAC reported an ash plume at 0615 on 26 March. The ash plume rose to a height of around 1 km and dispersed to the SW as seen in GOES 16 satellite imagery as a dark plume within white meteorological clouds. There was no seismic data available due to technical problems with the station.

More persistent eruptive activity began on 10 May with thermal alerts (figure 30) and an ash plume at 0700 that dispersed to the W. An explosion was recorded at 1938 on 11 May, producing an ash plume and incandescent material down the flank (figure 31). Two M 2 earthquakes were detected between 3.5 and 9 km below the crater on 10 May, possibly corresponding to explosive activity. By 17 May there were two active eruptive centers, the central crater and the Ñuñurcu dome (figure 32).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. MIROVA log radiative power plot of MODIS thermal infrared at Sangay for the year ending June 2019. The plot shows the August to December 2018 eruption, a break in activity, and resumed activity in May 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. An explosion at Sangay on 10 May 2019 sent ballistic projectiles up to 650 m above the crater at a velocity of over 400 km/hour, an ash plume that rose to over 600 m, and incandescent blocks that traveled over 1.5 km from the crater at velocities of around 150 km/hour. Screenshots are from video by IG-EPN.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. A photograph of the southern flank of Sangay on 17 May 2019 with the corresponding thermal infrared image in the top right corner. The letters correspond to: a) a fissure to the W of the lava flow; b) an active lava flow from the Ñuñurcu dome; c) the central crater producing a volcanic gas plume; d) a pyroclastic flow deposit produced by collapsing material from the front of the lava flow. Prepared by M. Almeida; courtesy of IG-EPN (special report No. 3 – 2019).

Activity at the central crater by 21 May was characterized by sporadic explosive eruptions that ejected hot ballistic ejecta (blocks) with velocities over 400 km/hour; after landing on the flanks the blocks travelled out to 2.5 km from the crater. Ash plumes reached heights between 0.9-2.3 km above the crater and dispersed mainly to the W and NW; gas plumes also dispersed to the W. The Ñuñurcu dome is located around 190 m SSE of the central crater and by 21 May had produced a lava flow over 470 m long with a maximum width of 175 m and an estimated minimum volume of 300,000 to 600,000 m3. Small pyroclastic flows and rockfalls resulted from collapse of the lava flow front, depositing material over a broad area on the E-SE flanks (figure 33). One pyroclastic flow reached 340 m and covered an area of 14,300 m2. During the 17 May observation flight the lava flow surface reached 277°C.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. A view of the ESE flanks of Sangay on 17 May 2019. The area within the black dotted line is the main area of pyroclastic flow deposition from the Ñuñurco Dome. Photo by M. Almeida; courtesy of IG-EPN (special report No. 4 – 2019).

At the end of June activity was continuing at the central crater and Ñuñurco Dome. At least three lava flows had been generated from the dome down the SE flank and pyroclastic flows continued to form from the flow fronts (figure 34). Pyroclastic material had been washed into the Upano river and steam was observed in the Volcán River possibly due to the presence of hot rocks. Ash plumes continued through June reaching heights of 800 m above the crater (figure 35), but no ashfall had been reported in nearby communities.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Sentinel-2 natural color (left) and thermal (center) images (bands 12, 11, 4), and 1:50 000 scale maps (right) of Sangay with interpretation on the background of a 30 m numerical terrain model (WGS84; Zone 17S) (Prepared by B. Bernard). The dates from top to bottom are 17 May, 22 May, 27 May, 16 June, and 26 June 2019. Prepared by B. Bernard; courtesy IG-EPN (special report No. 4 – 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Plots giving the heights and dispersal direction of ash plumes at Sangay during May and June 2019. Top: Ash plume heights measures in meters above the crater. Bottom: A plot showing that the dominant dispersal direction of ash plumes is to the W during this time. Courtesy of IG-EPN (special report No. 4 – 2019).

Geologic Background. The isolated Sangay volcano, located east of the Andean crest, is the southernmost of Ecuador's volcanoes and its most active. The steep-sided, glacier-covered, dominantly andesitic volcano grew within horseshoe-shaped calderas of two previous edifices, which were destroyed by collapse to the east, producing large debris avalanches that reached the Amazonian lowlands. The modern edifice dates back to at least 14,000 years ago. It towers above the tropical jungle on the east side; on the other sides flat plains of ash have been sculpted by heavy rains into steep-walled canyons up to 600 m deep. The earliest report of a historical eruption was in 1628. More or less continuous eruptions were reported from 1728 until 1916, and again from 1934 to the present. The almost constant activity has caused frequent changes to the morphology of the summit crater complex.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); 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).


Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) — May 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kadovar

Papua New Guinea

3.608°S, 144.588°E; summit elev. 365 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash emissions and thermal anomalies during October 2018-April 2019; lava emissions at the E flank coast and summit area

Steeply-sloped Kadovar Island is located about 25 km NNE from the mouth of the Sepik River on the mainland of Papua New Guinea. The first confirmed historical eruption with ash plumes and lava extrusion began in early January 2018, resulting in the evacuation of around 600 residents from the N side of the approximately 1.4-km-diameter island (BGVN 43:03); continuing activity from October 2018 through April 2019 is covered in this report. Information was provided by the Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), satellite sources, and photos from visiting tourists.

Activity during March-September 2018. After the first recorded explosions with ash plumes in early January 2018, intermittent ash plumes continued through March 2018. A lava flow on the E flank extended outward from the island, extruding from a vent low on the E flank and forming a dome just offshore. The dome collapsed and regrew twice during February 2018; the growth rate slowed somewhat during March. A satellite image from 21 March 2018 was one of the first showing the new dome growing off the E flank with a thermal anomaly and sediment plumes in the water drifting N and E from the area. Thermal anomalies were visible at both the summit vent and the E-flank coastal dome in in April and May 2018, along with steam and gas rising from both locations (figure 19).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of Kadovar provided clear evidence of thermal activity at the new E-flank coastal dome during March-May 2018. Sediment plumes were visible drifting N and E in the water adjacent to the coastal dome. The summit crater also had a persistent steam plume and thermal anomaly in April and May 2018. Left: 21 March 2018. Middle 10 April 2018. Right: 15 May 2018. Images all shown with "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

A trip to Kadovar by tourists in mid-May 2018 provided close-up views of the dense steam plumes at the summit and the growing E-flank coastal dome (figures 20 and 21). The thermal anomaly was still strong at the E-flank coastal dome in a mid-June satellite image, but appeared diminished in late July. Intermittent puffs of steam rose from both the summit and the coastal dome in mid-June; the summit plume was much denser on 29 July (figure 22). Ash emissions were reported by the Darwin VAAC and photographed by tourists during June (figure 23) and September 2018 (BGVN 43:10), but thermal activity appeared to decline during that period (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. A tourist photographed Kadovar and posted it online on 19 May 2018. Steam plumes rose from both the summit and the E-flank coastal dome in this view taken from the SE. Courtesy of Tico Liu.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. A closeup view of the E-flank coastal dome at Kadovar posted online on 19 May 2018 showed steam rising from several places on the dome, and dead trees on the flank of the volcano from recent eruptive activity. Courtesy of Tico Liu.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. The thermal anomaly was still strong at the E-flank coastal dome of Kadovar in a 14 June 2018 satellite image (left), but appeared diminished on 29 July 2018 (right). Intermittent puffs of steam rose from both the summit and the coastal dome on 14 June; the summit plume was much denser on 29 July. Sentinel-2 images both show "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. An ash plume rose from the summit of Kadovar and drifted W while steam and gas rose from the E-flank coastal dome, posted online 27 June 2018. Courtesy of Shari Kalt.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Thermal activity at Kadovar for the year ending on 26 April 2019 was consistent from late April 2018 through mid-June 2018; a quiet period afterwards through late September ended with renewed and increased thermal activity beginning in October 2018. All distances are actually within 1 km of the summit of Kadovar, a DEM georeferencing error makes some locations appear further away. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Multiple satellite images during August and early September 2018 showed little or no sign of thermal activity at the E-flank coastal dome, with only intermittent steam plumes from the summit. A new steam plume on the eastern slope appeared in a 22 September 2018 image (figure 25). The Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) reported explosive activity on the afternoon of 21 September. Noises of explosions were accompanied by dark gray and brown ash clouds that rose several hundred meters above the summit crater and drifted NW. Local reports indicated that the activity continued through 26 September and ashfall was reported on Blupblup island during the period. Ground observers noted incandescence visible from both the summit and the E-flank coastal dome.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Steam plumes were seen in satellite images of Kadovar during August and early September 2018, but no thermal anomalies. Intermittent steam plumes rose from the summit vent on 28 August (left). A new dense steam plume originating mid-way down the E flank appeared on 22 September 2018 (right). Sentinel-2 images both show "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during October-December 2018. Evidence of both thermal and explosive activity reappeared in October 2018 (figure 24). The Darwin VAAC reported intermittent ash plumes rising to 2.7 km altitude and drifting W on 1 October 2018. Low-level continuous ash emissions rising less than a kilometer and drifting W were reported early on 3 October. A higher plume drifted WNW at 2.4 km altitude on 7 October. Intermittent discrete emissions of ash continued daily at that altitude through 16 October, drifting NW or W. Ash emissions drifting NW and thermal anomalies at the summit were visible in satellite imagery on 2 and 12 October (figure 26). A brief ash emission was reported on 21 October 2018 at 2.4 km altitude drifting NE for a few hours. Intermittent ash emissions also appeared on 29 October moving SE at 1.8 km altitude. For the following three days ash drifted SW, W, then NW at 2.1 km altitude, finally dissipating on 1 November; the thermal anomaly at the summit was large and intense in satellite images on 27 October and 1 November compared with previous images (figure 27).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Ash emissions drifting NW and thermal anomalies at the summit of Kadovar were visible in satellite imagery on 2 and 12 October 2018; no thermal activity was noted at the E-flank coastal dome. Sentinel-2 images both show "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Strong thermal anomalies at the summit of Kadovar on 27 October and 1 November 2018 were not concealed by the steam plumes drifting SW and NW from the summit. Sentinel-2 images both show "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

An ash explosion was photographed by tourists on a cruise ship on the afternoon of 6 November 2018 (figure 28). After the explosion, a dense steam plume rose from a large dome of lava near the summit at the top of the E flank (figure 29). Continuous ash emissions rising to 1.8 km altitude were reported by the Darwin VAAC beginning on 9 November 2018 moving WNW and lasting about 24 hours. A new ash plume clearly identifiable on satellite imagery appeared on 13 November at 2.4 km altitude moving E, again visible for about 24 hours. Another shipboard tourist photographed an ash plume on 18 November rising a few hundred meters above the summit (figure 30).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. An explosion at Kadovar photographed on the afternoon of 6 November 2018 sent a dense gray ash plume hundreds of meters above the summit drifting W; blocks of volcanic debris descended the flanks as well. View is from the S. Courtesy of Coral Expeditions, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Tourists on a cruise ship passed by Kadovar on 6 November 2018 and witnessed a steam plume drifting W from a large dome of lava near the summit at the top of the E flank after an ash explosion. Smaller steam plumes were visible in the middle and at the base of the E flank, but no activity was visible at the coastal dome off the E flank (lower right). View is from the SE. Courtesy of Coral Expeditions, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. An ash plume rose at dusk from the summit of Kadovar and was witnessed by a cruise ship tourist on 18 November 2018. View is from the E; the E-flank coastal dome is a lighter area in the lower foreground. Courtesy of Philip Stern.

Low-level ash emissions were reported briefly on 28 November at about 1 km altitude moving SE. Intermittent puffs of ash were seen drifting WSW on 2 and 3 December at about 1.2 km altitude. They were the last VAAC reports for 2018. Two thermal anomalies were visible at the summit in satellite imagery on 26 November, they grew larger and more intense through 16 December when multiple anomalies appeared at the summit and on the E flank (figure 31).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Multiple thermal anomalies near the summit of Kadovar grew larger and more intense between 26 November and 16 December 2018. Sentinel-2 images show "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during January-April 2019. Multiple thermal anomalies were still visible at the summit in satellite imagery on 5 January 2019 as regular puffs of steam drifted SE from the summit, leaving a long trail in the atmosphere (figure 32). Additional imagery on 10 and 30 January showed a single anomaly at the summit, even through dense meteorologic clouds. A short-lived ash emission rose to 2.4 km altitude on 11 January 2019 and drifted E; it dissipated the next day. Multiple minor intermittent discrete ash plumes extended WNW at 3.0 km altitude on 18 January; they dissipated within six hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Multiple thermal anomalies were visible in satellite imagery of Kadovar on 5 January 2019 as regular puffs of steam drifted SE from the summit. Sentinel-2 image shows "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force released images of eruptive activity on 10 February 2019 (figure 33). Satellite imagery in February was largely obscured by weather; two thermal anomalies were barely visible through clouds at the summit on 14 February. The Darwin VAAC reported an ash emission at 1.8 km altitude drifting ESE on 16 February; a similar plume appeared on 21 February that also dissipated in just a few hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. The Royal New Zealand Air Force released images of an ash plume at Kadovar on 10 February 2019. Courtesy of Brad Scott.

Satellite imagery on 1 March 2019 confirmed a strong thermal anomaly from the summit and down the E flank almost to the coast. A month later on 5 April the anomaly was nearly as strong and a dense ash and steam plume drifted N from the summit (figure 34). A tourist witnessed a dense steam plume rising from the summit on 4 April (figure 35). Multiple discrete eruptions were observed in satellite imagery by the Darwin VAAC on 9 April at 1.2-1.5 km altitude drifting SE. The thermal anomaly at the summit persisted in satellite imagery taken on 15 April 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. A strong thermal anomaly appeared from the summit down the E flank of Kadovar on 1 March 2019 (left). A month later on 5 April the strong anomaly was still present beneath a dense plume of ash and steam (right). Sentinel-2 imagery shows "Geology" rendering with bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. A dense steam plume is shown here rising from the summit area of Kadovar, posted online on 4 April 2019. View is from the N. Courtesy of Chaiyasit Saengsirirak.

Geologic Background. The 2-km-wide island of Kadovar is the emergent summit of a Bismarck Sea stratovolcano of Holocene age. Kadovar is part of the Schouten Islands, and lies off the coast of New Guinea, about 25 km N of the mouth of the Sepik River. The village of Gewai is perched on the crater rim. A 365-m-high lava dome forming the high point of the andesitic volcano fills an arcuate landslide scarp that is open to the south, and submarine debris-avalanche deposits occur in that direction. Thick lava flows with columnar jointing forms low cliffs along the coast. The youthful island lacks fringing or offshore reefs. No certain historical eruptions are known; the latest activity was a period of heightened thermal phenomena in 1976.

Information Contacts: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; 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/); Tico Liu, Hong Kong (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tico.liu. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155389178192793&set=pcb.10155389178372793&type=3&theater); Shari Kalt (Instagram user LuxuryTravelAdvisor: https://www.instagram.com/luxurytraveladviser/, https://www.instagram.com/p/BkhalnuHu2j/); Coral Expeditions, Australia (URL: https://www.coralexpeditions.com/, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/coralexpeditions); Philip Stern (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sternph, https://www.facebook.com/sternph/posts/2167501866616908); Brad Scott, GNS Science Volcanologist at GNS Science, New Zealand (Twitter: https://twitter.com/Eruptn); Chaiyasit Saengsirirak, Bangkok, Thailand (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chaiyasit.saengsirirak, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2197513186969355).


Sarychev Peak (Russia) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Sarychev Peak

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Brief ash emission reported on 16 May 2019

Located on Matua Island in the central Kurile Islands of Russia, Sarychev Peak has historical observations of eruptions dating back to 1765. Thermal activity in October 2017 (BGVN 43:11) was the first sign of renewed activity since a major eruption with ash plumes and pyroclastic flows in June 2009 (BGVN 34:06). The following month (November 2017) there was fresh dark material on the NW flank that appeared to be from a flow of some kind. After that, intermittent thermal anomalies were the only activity reported until explosions with ash plumes took place that lasted for about a week in mid-September 2018 (figure 24). Additional explosions in mid-October were the last reported for 2018. A single ash explosion in May 2019 was the only reported activity from November 2018 to May 2019, the period covered in this report. Information is provided by the Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team (SVERT) and the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), members of the Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (FEB RAS), and from satellite data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Multiple ash plumes were observed at Sarychev Peak during September 2018. Left: 13 September. Right: 18 September. Photos by S. A. Tatarenkov, courtesy of IMGG FEB RAS.

Satellite imagery in mid-September and early October 2018 showed gas emissions from the summit vent, and a weak thermal anomaly in October (figure 25). KVERT lowered the Aviation Color Code from Orange to Yellow on 1 November 2018, and SVERT released a VONA on 12 November 2018 lowering the Aviation Color Code from Yellow to Green after the ash emissions in October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Minor gas emissions were visible at Sarychev Peak in satellite imagery in mid-September and early October 2018; a possible weak thermal anomaly appeared in the summit vent in October. Top left: 13 September. Top right: 18 September. Bottom left: 8 October. Bottom right: 11 October. The 13 September image uses "Natural Color" rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) and the other images use "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2). Sentinel-2 satellite imagery courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Sentinel-2 satellite instruments in March, April, and May 2019 acquired images that showed dark streaks in the snow-covered peak radiating out from the summit vent in various directions. As the spring snows melted, more dark streaks appeared. It is unclear whether the streaks represent fresh ash, particulates from gas emissions in the snow, or concentrated material from earlier emissions that were exposed during the spring melting (figure 26). No further activity was reported until the Tokyo VAAC noted an eruption on 16 May 2019 that produced an ash plume which rose to 2.4 km altitude and drifted S. It was visible in satellite imagery for 3 or 4 hours before dissipating. SVERT reported the ash plume visible up to 50 km SE of the island. They also noted that weak thermal anomalies had been seen in satellite data on 10, 12, and 17 May 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Streaks of brown radiate outward from the summit vent at Sarychev Peak in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery taken during March-May 2019. The exact material and timing of deposition is unknown. Top left: 17 March. Top middle: 14 April. Top right: 19 April. Bottom left: 29 April, Bottom middle: 6 May. Bottom right: 26 May 2019. Sentinel-2 images with "Natural Color" rendering using bands 4,3, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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: Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, (FEB RAS IMGG), 693 022 Russia, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, ul. Science 1B (URL: http://imgg.ru/ru); Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team (SVERT), Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Science, Nauki st., 1B, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, 693022 (URL: http://www.imgg.ru/en/, http://www.imgg.ru/ru/svert/reports); 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/); 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).


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

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake remains active through May 2019; three new vents around the secondary cone

Since at least 1971 scientists and tourists have observed a lava lake within the Nyiragongo summit crater. Lava flows have been a hazard in the past for the nearby city of Goma (15 km S). The previous report (BGVN 43:06) of activity between November 2017 and May 2018 described nearly daily record of thermal anomalies due to the active lava lake and lava fountaining, gas-and-steam plumes, and the opening of a new vent within the crater in February 2016. Monthly reports from the Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG) disseminate information regarding the volcano's activity. This report updates the activity during June 2018-May 2019.

OVG noted that the level of the lava lake changes frequently, and was lower when observed on October 2018, 12 April 2019, and 12 May 2019. According to data from the OVG, on 15 April 2019 the secondary cone that formed in February 2016 produced lava flows and ejecta. In addition, at least three other vents formed surrounding this secondary cone. During most of April 2019 the lava lake was still active; however, beginning on 12 April 2019, seismic and lava lake activity both declined.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data continues to show almost daily, strong thermal anomalies every month from June 2018 through 24 May 2019 (figure 66). Similarly, the MODVOLC algorithm reports a majority of the hotspot pixels (2,406) occurring within the lava lake at the summit crater (figure 67).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Thermal anomalies at Nyiragongo for June 2018 through 24 May 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were frequent and strong. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. Map showing the number of MODVOLC hotspot pixels at Nyiragongo from 1 June 2018 to 31 May 2019. Nyiragongo (2,423 pixels) is at the bottom center; Nyamuragira volcano (342 pixels) is about 13 km NW. Courtesy of HIGP-MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

Geologic Background. One of Africa's most notable volcanoes, Nyiragongo contained a lava lake in its deep summit crater that was active for half a century before draining catastrophically through its outer flanks in 1977. The steep slopes of a stratovolcano contrast to the low profile of its neighboring shield volcano, Nyamuragira. Benches in the steep-walled, 1.2-km-wide summit crater mark levels of former lava lakes, which have been observed since the late-19th century. Two older stratovolcanoes, Baruta and Shaheru, are partially overlapped by Nyiragongo on the north and south. About 100 parasitic cones are located primarily along radial fissures south of Shaheru, east of the summit, and along a NE-SW zone extending as far as Lake Kivu. Many cones are buried by voluminous lava flows that extend long distances down the flanks, which is characterized by the eruption of foiditic rocks. The extremely fluid 1977 lava flows caused many fatalities, as did lava flows that inundated portions of the major city of Goma in January 2002.

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Goma, North Kivu, DR Congo (URL: https://www.facebook.com/Observatoire-Volcanologique-de-Goma-OVG-180016145663568/); 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/).


Bezymianny (Russia) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Bezymianny

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam plumes, and lava dome growth during February-May 2019; strong explosion in mid-March

Volcanism at Bezymianny has been frequent since 1955. During the last reporting period, observations primarily consisted of moderate gas-and-steam emissions and thermal anomalies. Lava dome growth has been reported, as well as the effusion of several lava flows onto the dome flanks. Monitoring is the responsibility of the Kamchatka Volcano Eruptions Response Team (KVERT). Activity during February to mid-March 2019 consisted of predominantly moderate gas-and-steam emissions. Incandescent, hot avalanches from the lava dome, strong fumarolic activity, and a thermal anomaly began to occur in mid-March 2019. This reporting period includes activity from February-May 2019.

One explosion occurred during this reporting period. According to video data from KVERT and seismic data from the Kamchatka Branch of the Geophysical Service, on 15 March 2019 an explosion sent ash up to an altitude of 15 km. According to the KVERT Weekly Reports, satellite data showed large ash clouds from this eruption drifting several thousands of kilometers east from the volcano. The Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) issued by KVERT for this event described ash clouds to a distance of about 870 km. Ashfall was reported in Ust'-Kamchatsk (115 km E) on 15 March and Nikolskoe (350 km E) on 15-16 March 2019.

Beginning 15 March and continuing through May 2019, the number of hot avalanches from the lava dome top significantly increased, as well as the temperature of the thermal anomalies as reported by KVERT based on satellite data. Incandescent lava dome growth with extruding, viscous lava flows accompanying strong fumarolic activity and thermal anomalies continued in late April-May 2019 (figure 30).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Fumarolic plume rising above at Bezymianny on 14 April 2019. Photo by A. Klimova, courtesy of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology FEB RAS, KVERT.

MODIS infrared data processed by MIROVA showed stronger and more frequent thermal anomalies in mid-March 2019 compared to the typical thermal activity since late January and afterwards through May (figure 31). According to the MODVOLC algorithm, 11 hotspot pixels were recorded between February and May 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Thermal anomalies at Bezymianny for September 2018 through May 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power). Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/); Kamchatka Branch of the Geophysical Service, Russian Academy of Sciences (KB GS RAS) (URL: http://www.emsd.ru/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).


Nevados de Chillan (Chile) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Nevados de Chillan

Chile

36.868°S, 71.378°W; summit elev. 3180 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small ash explosions and dome growth during December 2018-May 2019; ballistic ejecta deposited around the crater, with a pyroclastic flow in May

The current Nevados de Chillán eruption period began on 8 January 2018 with a phreatic explosion from the new Nicanor crater, within the Nuevo crater; a new dome was observed within this crater the next day. Dome growth continues with explosions that eject ash plumes and incandescent ejecta. This bulletin summarizes activity from December 2018 through May 2019 and is based on reports by Chile's Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN)-Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS) and satellite imagery.

Throughout December 2018 pulsating emissions from the Nicanor crater produced white plumes predominantly composed of water vapor, with occasional ash ejections giving the plume a gray appearance. Incandescence was frequently observed during the night due to the ejection of hot ballistic ejecta emplaced around the crater during explosions. After 11 months of observations, the dacite dome in the crater maintained a semi-stable extrusion rate of around 345 m3/day. Explosions were reported on 7, 17, 28, and 29 December.

Similar background activity continued through January with pulsating gas-and-steam plumes occasionally including ash, and incandescence observed during the nights due to hot ejecta around the crater. Explosions were recorded at 0500 and 1545 on 11 January, and on 13, 21, and 31 January (figures 33 and 34). During the night explosions and incandescent ejecta were observed impacting the area around the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. An explosion at Nevados de Chillán on 11 January 2019. The explosion ejected incandescent blocks that impacted the flanks. The timestamp is at the top left of each image; screenshots are of footage courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. An explosion at Nevados de Chillán on 31 January 2019 produced an ash plume from the Nicanor crater. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

Activity continued through February similar to previous months. The dome in the crater maintained a low extrusion, and activity alternated between dome growth and partial destruction during explosions. Steam-and-gas plumes with occasional ash content continued, with plumes reaching 1 km and drifting in multiple directions. Incandescence was observed during the night. Explosions were reported on 15 February.

During March through May, typical activity consisting of pulsating emission of steam plumes with occasional ash content, and incandescence at night, continued. Intermittent explosions associated with the partial destruction of the dome continued, with events reported on 1 March at 2323, and on 4, 7, and 8 March. Several explosions were reported during 8-9 and 23-30 April. Three explosions were reported on 3 May with one of them producing a 2-km-high ash plume and a pyroclastic flow on 10 May (figure 35). Additional explosions occurred on the 12 and 18 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. An explosion at Nevados de Chillán on 10 May 2019 produced an ash plume that rose to 2 km above the crater and a pyroclastic flow. The white plume in the bottom two images is steam from the interaction of the hot pyroclastic material and the snow. Screenshots are of a video courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN with timestamps indicated in the top left of each image.

Satellite data from December 2018 through May 2019 recorded intermittent thermal energy, with an increase after February 2019 (figure 36). Thermal anomalies from MODIS instruments were detected by the MODVOLC system on 29 March and 17 May 2019 (two anomalies). A thermal anomaly in the Nicanor crater was persistent in Sentinel-2 data throughout this period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Thermal anomalies at the active Nicanor crater of the Nevados de Chillán complex. Top: Sentinel-2 thermal image of showing the location of the thermal anomaly (orange). Bottom: MIROVA log radiative power plot of MODIS thermal infrared data from September 2018 through May 2019. Thermal signatures are intermittent and increase after February 2019. Note that the black lines are not from the crater and are unlikely to be related to volcanic activity. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground and MIROVA.

Geologic Background. The compound volcano of Nevados de Chillán is one of the most active of the Central Andes. Three late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcanoes were constructed along a NNW-SSE line within three nested Pleistocene calderas, which produced ignimbrite sheets extending more than 100 km into the Central Depression of Chile. The largest stratovolcano, dominantly andesitic, Cerro Blanco (Volcán Nevado), is located at the NW end of the group. Volcán Viejo (Volcán Chillán), which was the main active vent during the 17th-19th centuries, occupies the SE end. The new Volcán Nuevo lava-dome complex formed between 1906 and 1945 between the two volcanoes and grew to exceed Volcán Viejo in elevation. The Volcán Arrau dome complex was constructed SE of Volcán Nuevo between 1973 and 1986 and eventually exceeded its height.

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN), Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Avda Sta María No. 0104, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 21, Number 03 (March 1996)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Aira (Japan)

Frequent explosive ash eruptions continue

Akademia Nauk (Russia)

More details about the early January eruptions

Akutan (United States)

Seismicity declines with no eruption after two earthquake swarms

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Continued eruptions and recently updated map of lava flows

Avachinsky (Russia)

Increased seismicity and a higher steam plume

Etna (Italy)

Intermittent ash emissions and Strombolian activity from two summit craters

Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba (Japan)

Emission of colored water and long discolored aqueous plumes

Hokkaido-Komagatake (Japan)

Additional information about the 5 March eruption

Irazu (Costa Rica)

Infrequent microseisms in February and March

Iwatesan (Japan)

Volcanic tremor registered again on 4 March

Karymsky (Russia)

More details about the early January eruptions

Kilauea (United States)

Heightened activity on 1-4 February followed by 10-day pause; bench construction

Kuchinoerabujima (Japan)

Increasing number of earthquakes since January

Kujusan (Japan)

Increased seismicity in late March, but plume remains ash-free

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Vulcanian explosions continue

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Inaudible, weak-to-moderate steaming from two craters

Oshima-Oshima (Japan)

Earthquakes and tremor detected

Pinatubo (Philippines)

Rainfall during October-November 1995 typhoons generates floods and lahars

Poas (Costa Rica)

Seismicity decreased roughly 10-fold since October 1995

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

Continued ash emissions; new lava dome and lava flows in summit crater

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

December-March ash deposits now 10-cm thick; seismicity continues

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica)

Mild seismicity continues in February

Sangay (Ecuador)

Phreatic explosions, blue gas plumes, crater glow, and dome rockfalls

Socorro (Mexico)

Slight temperature increases at most summit fumaroles and hot springs

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Escalating dome growth spawns pyroclastic flows and another evacuation

Suwanosejima (Japan)

Weak ash eruptions in early March cause ashfalls

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea)

Still emitting low to moderate amounts of steam

Unzendake (Japan)

Tremor associated with minor tilt changes



Aira (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent explosive ash eruptions continue

Minor activity continued at Minami-dake until mid-March, although the highest ash plume of the month rose 2,100 m above the crater on the 6th. Twelve explosive eruptions occurred on 18 March. Overall during March there were 88 eruptions, 69 of which were explosive. The monthly total ashfall measured 10 km W of the crater was 22 g/m2. Seismicity recorded 2.3 km NW of the crater during March consisted of 970 earthquakes and 773 tremors.

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: Volcanological Division, Seismological and Volcanological Department, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100 Japan.


Akademia Nauk (Russia) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Akademia Nauk

Russia

53.98°N, 159.45°E; summit elev. 1180 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


More details about the early January eruptions

According to the Institute of Volcanology (IV), the eruption on 2 January (BGVN 21:01) began around 0800. This activity was preceded by an upsurge in seismicity that started in April 1995. At 1926 on 31 December 1995, a M 5.8 earthquake occurred in the Kronotsky gulf, 50-60 km NE of the volcano. On 1 January at 2057 an earthquake of M 5.2 in the Karymsky region was followed at 2157 by a M 6.9 event centered ~25 km S of the volcano. During the next day there were more than 10 aftershocks of M >= 5.0. On 2 January at 1540, a group of IV volcanologists arrived by helicopter. Eruptive centers were observed near the summit and 5-6 km S in Karymsky Lake (maximum depth 115 m), which fills the Akademii Nauk caldera.

The eruption began with formation of a vent with a diameter of 20-30 m, located 50 m below the summit. Violent emissions of ash-rich gas jets rose to 1 km from another vent on the SW slope. Steam-and-gas jets, occasionally with black-colored matter, were also ejected to several hundred meters from beneath the surface of Karymsky Lake. The presumed eruptive center was 100-200 m from the shore in the NW sector of the lake. Turbulent steam-and-gas plumes rose 5-6 km above the surface from a 200-m-diameter area. Ice covering the lake had completely melted.

On 3 January the near-summit vent increased in size to 50 m in diameter. Gas and steam blasts alternated with ash ejections from the two simultaneously active vents on the volcano. Ash was usually ejected from the upper vent, and a white-colored plume was emitted from the lower vent. Ash ejections lasted 2-3 minutes, and gas blasts lasted 1.5-2 minutes. An ash-and-gas column rose 1-1.2 km and was blown E and SE by the wind. The surface of Karymsky Lake steamed intensely, sending clouds 800-1,000 m above the lake. Areas of green water were visible through breaks in the clouds, and a newly-formed black beach was seen. In the N and NE sector of the lake a narrow spit, beginning from the source of the Karymsky river and extending 250-300 m to the center of the lake, had formed. The water level in the lake had dropped a few meters. The upper reaches of the river had dried up, but on 2 January waves from the submarine eruption (up to 10 m high or more) overflowed the N shore, flooding a wide valley 1.5 km below the source. During a surveillance flight on 4 January, large areas of the valley were covered by black mud. The beach contained three fumarolic vents along the NE-trending fault zone. Within a radius of 500-800 m of the source of the Karymsky River, the surrounding snow-covered hills contained thousands of holes with diameters ranging from 10 cm to 1.5-2 m formed by lithic blocks ejected from the lake. The water level of the lake continued to fall because of intense evaporation.

Light-gray dacitic ash covered an area of about 150-200 km2. At a distance of 8 km from the volcano fractions ranging from 0.16 to 0.06 mm dominated. Estimates made by S.A. Fedotov indicated that on 2 and 3 January the ash ejection rate from the summit crater reached 3-4 tons/second.

Routine observations from 2 January through 11 February showed that the climactic phase of the subaqueous eruption continued for no more than 12-15 hours. That eruption consisted of frequent explosions during which a vapor-gas mixture with lithic material was ejected to the surface. In the N sector of the lake at the shore W of the Karymsky River, damaged trees provided evidence of two eruptive sources 500-600 m from each other. This zone contained the main concentration of bomb material ejected from the lake. A portion of the shoreline (150-200 m long and 5-15 m wide) E of the river sank several meters into the lake. The main eruption center was 500 m from the shore, but smaller peripheral centers were also observed. As a result of the eruption, in the NNW sector of the lake, a beach in the form of a wide 0.4 km2 cape was produced, as well as a narrow spit extending SE from the old shore. The length of the new shoreline was 2.4 km, and a large shoal was observed around the new peninsula. According to the preliminary estimates, the ejected deposits in the lake are at least 1 km2 in area and 5-10 x 106 m3 in volume.

Thermal springs that discharge at the S shore of Karymsky Lake were destroyed by ejecta from this eruption, and several new mud pots were formed; chemical composition of the solutions was unchanged. Near the center of the new beach, composed of sand-gravel and bomb material, a chain of five explosive vents with diameters from 1.5 to 30 m was observed. At the N end was a thermal site with a diameter of ~50 m that exhibited intense vapor emission and was covered by sublimates; visiting scientists detected a hydrogen sulfide odor. A dry funnel with a diameter of ~3 m and high gas emission at a temperature of 97°C was in the center of this site. Other explosion funnels had water at a depth of 1.2-1.5 m with temperatures from 33 to 70°C. The three funnels closest to the lake and on the opposite shore had gas emissions with temperatures of 97-98°C.

On 4 January run-off from the lake ceased owing to damming by ejected material. Analyses of water samples from the lake, river, and various hot springs in the area indicated that there had been chemical contributions to the lake water by an underlying magma body.

Geologic Background. The scenic lake-filled Akademia Nauk caldera is one of three volcanoes constructed within the mid-Pleistocene, 15-km-wide Polovinka caldera. Beliankin stratovolcano, in the SW part of Polovinka caldera, is eroded, but has been active in postglacial time (Sviatlovsky, 1959). Two nested calderas, 5 x 4 km Odnoboky and 3 x 5 km Akademia Nauk (also known as Karymsky Lake or Academii Nauk), were formed during the late Pleistocene, the latter about 30,000 years ago. Eruptive products varied from initial basaltic-andesite lava flows to late-stage rhyodacitic lava domes. Two maars, Akademia Nauk and Karymsky, subsequently formed at the southern and northern margins of the caldera lake, respectively. The northern maar, Karymsky, erupted about 6500 radiocarbon years ago and formed a small bay. The first historical eruption from Akademia Nauk did not take place until January 2, 1996, when a brief, day-long explosive eruption of unusual basaltic and rhyolitic composition occurred from vents beneath the NNW part of the caldera lake near Karymsky maar.

Information Contacts: G.A. Karpov, Ya.D. Muravyev, R.A. Shuvalov, S.M. Fazlullin, and V.N. Chebrov, Institute of Volcanology, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia.


Akutan (United States) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Akutan

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity declines with no eruption after two earthquake swarms

Intense seismicity was felt by Akutan residents beginning on the evening of 10 March and through the next day (BGVN 21:02). Students in Akutan (13 km E of the summit; figure 1) carefully counted the frequency and intensity of the earthquakes during the day on 11 March. The resulting information was the first quantitative dataset about the earthquakes and suggested that this was an earthquake swarm rather than a classic mainshock-aftershock sequence. The strongest shocks rattled small objects on tables and caused some cabinet doors to open; ground shaking was continuous. The largest of the earthquakes had a magnitude of about 5.1, and there were several of M 4-5, most of them were probably in the M 2.5 to 4 range. There were no operating seismometers on Akutan Island at the onset of seismic unrest; the nearest seismometer was at Sand Point, ~380 km NE. The intense seismic activity began subsiding at about 1700 on 11 March but remained at a level substantially above normal. Seismicity continued through most of that night with many events strongly felt in Akutan. Seismicity declined on 12 March, and late that day a seismologist from the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) who reached Akutan with a seismometer and a portable recording system determined that the earthquakes were volcano-tectonic.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Terrain-corrected synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image showing Akutan and Makushin volcanoes in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. Courtesy of the Alaska SAR Facility; data copyright European Space Agency.

At about 1700 on 13 March, felt-earthquakes began occurring at a rate of greater than 1/minute, a higher rate than on 11 March. Damage associated with these earthquakes included objects tumbling off shelves, and ground shaking was again continuous. The strongest of these events were felt as far away as Dutch Harbor/Unalaska 50 km SW of Akutan. The number of earthquakes recorded in Akutan was over 800/day during the intense earthquake swarm on 13-14 March. A slight decrease in the rate of activity occurred at about 0500 on 14 March, but felt earthquakes still occurred every 2-3 minutes. There were a few earthquakes with M >= 5, and more between 4 and 5. This swarm began subsiding about 18 hours after onset. Because of the continued high seismicity AVO initiated use of a Level of Concern Color Code system and designated the current level to be Orange on 14 March, indicating an eruption was possible at any time within the next few days. On the night of 14 March, AVO's seismologist in Akutan reported 4-5 felt events.

On 15 March the rate and intensity of recorded earthquakes, although much lower than earlier in the week, remained well above background. At about 1700, a geologist flying into Akutan glimpsed a part of the N flank and summit area through broken clouds, but observed no evidence of eruptive activity. AVO scientists in Akutan felt only a few earthquakes that night. The number of earthquakes recorded on 16 March was much lower than during the swarms of 11 and 13 March. However, the rate and intensity of earthquake activity remained well above background. The weather continued to be poor, hampering visual observations. The number of daily earthquakes remained about the same through 19 March. Scientists in Akutan reported feeling only a few earthquakes each of those nights.

The Level of Concern Color Code was downgraded to Yellow on 20 March based on decreasing seismicity over the previous six days to 60-80 events/day. The Yellow code indicates that the threat of imminent eruption has declined, and the possibility that the volcano will return to quiet over a period of weeks without eruption has increased. An airline passenger reported seeing the snow-filled summit crater, with very slight normal wisps of steam from the central cinder cone, and no evidence of eruptive activity. The level of seismicity remained above background, and several earthquakes each day were felt in Akutan.

By 22 March a total of five seismic stations in four locations had been installed and all data were being sent to the Fairbanks and Anchorage laboratories in real time. Maximum separation of the stations was ~9 km. Four of the stations were located around Akutan Harbor, and the fifth was on the E slopes of the volcano about midway between the village of Akutan and the summit. The seismic array will remain in its present geometry until additional stations can be placed by helicopter this summer. By 24 March all AVO personnel had left, and around-the-clock monitoring using the new seismic stations was being conducted from AVO.

The number of earthquakes continued during 21-25 March at a rate of ~60-80/day, decreased slightly by 27 March to ~40-60/day, and remained at that level through 29 March. As of 5 April seismicity continued to slowly diminish. Earthquakes were distributed widely beneath the E half of the island with a cluster, shallower than 10 km, located ~8-10 km due E of the summit cinder cone and ~5 km W of the village of Akutan. The rate of seismicity during 6-12 April was about half that of the previous week, with ~10-20 earthquakes/day, most too small to be felt by local residents. Seismicity decreased again by half during 13-19 April, to ~5-10 small earthquakes/day.

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

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


Arenal (Costa Rica) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Arenal

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued eruptions and recently updated map of lava flows

During February and March, Crater C continued to emit gas, lava, and sporadic Strombolian eruptions. For both months, OVSICORI-UNA reported that the intensity of explosive activity was slightly below that of January, however, columns still rose ~1 km. Prevailing winds blew towards the NW, W, and SW. Arenal continued to cause acidic rains and to eject volcanic bombs, blocks, and ash. The volcano's steep slopes and receding vegetation have led to gullying in unconsolidated material and cold avalanches down local drainages.

ICE reported the distribution of lava flows down Arenal's W slopes (figure 76). A flow active from May 1995 through early January 1996 ceased and a new one trending WNW began in late January, its downslope end reaching 1,200-m elevation in early March. Also, on the N flank in early March, some rolling blocks destroyed forest down to 1,150 m elevation. Deposits reminiscent of those from pyroclastic flows were found in late December at 950 m elevation.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Sketch map of Arenal area showing distribution of lavas as of March 1996. Courtesy of G. J. Soto.

ICE noted that December explosions were ~15-30 minutes apart; after mid-January the explosions were ~27 ± 21 minutes apart (1 sigma standard deviation); steam often vented in the N quadrant of Crater C. Nightime observers saw cyclic changes in the intensity of crater glow repeating every 39 ± 22 seconds; the changes were attributed to convection in the intra-crater lava pool. ICE also repeatedly measured ash deposition rates adjacent to the crater (table 13).

Table 13. Mass of Arenal's ash collected at a site 1.8 km W of the active vent. Courtesy of ICE.

Collection Interval Avg daily ashfall (grams/m2) Ash % 300+µ Ash % less than 300µ
24 Aug-26 Sep 1995 20.7 36 64
26 Sep-23 Oct 1995 1.1 0 100
23 Oct-22 Dec 1995 24.2 56 44
22 Dec-06 Mar 1996 32.9 50 50

OVSICORI-UNA reported the respective values of tremor duration and local seismicity during February and March: 386 and 261 hours and 758 and 624 events. Events of frequency below 3.5 Hz typically accompanied those eruptions that ejected pyroclastics.

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: Erick Fernández, Elicer Duarte, Vilma Barboza, Rodolfo Van der Laat, and Enrique Hernandez, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica; Gerardo J. Soto, Oficina de Sismolog¡a y Vulcanolog¡a, Departamento de Geolog¡a, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Apartado 10032-1000, San José, Costa Rica.


Avachinsky (Russia) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Avachinsky

Russia

53.256°N, 158.836°E; summit elev. 2717 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased seismicity and a higher steam plume

On 7 March the Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry (IVGG) reported a noteworthy increase in seismicity beneath Avachinsky and an increase in the height of the steam plume to ~100 m above the volcano. The steam plume suggested a possible increase in heat flux. The IVGG reported that the possibility of an eruption within the next few weeks to months has increased significantly. Elevated seismicity was previously reported in late 1993 and early 1994 (BGVN 19:01).

Geologic Background. Avachinsky, one of Kamchatka's most active volcanoes, rises above Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka's largest city. It began to form during the middle or late Pleistocene, and is flanked to the SE by the parasitic volcano Kozelsky, which has a large crater breached to the NE. A large horseshoe-shaped caldera, breached to the SW, was created when a major debris avalanche about 30,000-40,000 years ago buried an area of about 500 km2 to the south underlying the city of Petropavlovsk. Reconstruction of the volcano took place in two stages, the first of which began about 18,000 years before present (BP), and the second 7000 years BP. Most eruptive products have been explosive, with pyroclastic flows and hot lahars being directed primarily to the SW by the breached caldera, although relatively short lava flows have been emitted. The frequent historical eruptions have been similar in style and magnitude to previous Holocene eruptions.

Information Contacts: Tom Miller, Alaska Volcano Observatory (URL: https://www.avo.alaska.edu/); Vladimir Kirianov, Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia.


Etna (Italy) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash emissions and Strombolian activity from two summit craters

Adverse weather conditions that prevented observation of the summit in late February (BGVN 21:02) continued throughout March. Ash puffs from Bocca Nuova crater (BN) were seen during some clear periods on 1 and 5 March, and on the morning of 6 March several black ash emissions were observed. Between 1200 and 1300 a sequence of ash puffs was produced from Northeast Crater (NEC). At 1530, another dense black ash puff was emitted from BN. At sunset the snow mantle was discontinuously covered by a thin ash layer. Ash emissions were again observed during some clearings on 7 March.

On 11 March around 2300 a one-hour long increase in tremor amplitude was recorded at the summit stations. During the afternoon of 12 March the weather improved and after sunset pulsating red glows were observed above NEC by the surveillance camera. Glow produced by the Strombolian activity after 1730 was almost continuous until changing to pulses at 1840 and disappearing at 2100. At the climax, red tracks of volcanic bombs were recognizable up to 150 m above the crater rim. The eruptive episode was marked by increased seismic tremor amplitude similar to that of the previous night.

On the morning of 14 March weather conditions became worse and the video link was interrupted. The video link was restored on 21 March and some minor ash emissions were observed. The observations by the video camera remained intermittent due to the poor weather. Around 2000 on 30 March a remarkable increase in low-frequency events and explosion earthquakes was recorded at all stations of the seismic network; poor weather prevented visual confirmation. The phenomena continued until 2100 on 31 March and during the daytime strong pulsing steam emissions, sometimes with ash, were observed at NEC and BN.

Strombolian activity that began the day after the eighth fire fountaining episode (9-10 February) continued in April, building several nested spatter and scoria cones on the NEC floor; these rose as high as the crater rim.

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: Mauro Coltelli, CNR Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia (IIV), Piazza Roma 2, Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ingv.it/en/).


Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Emission of colored water and long discolored aqueous plumes

Aviators from the Japan Marine Safety Agency (JMSA) began observing yellowish-green discoloration of seawater during 25-28 November 1995 (BGVN 20:11/12). Similar discoloration was seen on 12, 22, and 23 January 1996 (BGVN 21:01), and also on 26 January, as reported by the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Information from the Volcano Research Center revealed that JMSA observers once again noted yellowish brown discolored seawater in the area on 4 April. According to the reports, the colored area expanded like a belt up to ~3 km long. Strong emission of colored water was recognized from two points. Although white-colored suspension was observed on the surface, floating pumices were not recognized. Yellowish-green to yellowish-brown water observed on 12 April formed a plume ~4 km long and 200 m wide, including 3-4 spots from which colored-water was gushing out intermittently. No pumices were recognized.

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

Information Contacts: Volcanological Division, Seismological and Volcanological Department, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100 Japan; Volcano Research Center, Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan (URL: http://www.eri.u-tokyo.ac.jp/VRC/index_E.html); Hydrographic Department, Maritime Safety Agency, 3-1 Tsukiji, 5-Chome, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104, Japan.


Hokkaido-Komagatake (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Hokkaido-Komagatake

Japan

42.063°N, 140.677°E; summit elev. 1131 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Additional information about the 5 March eruption

Volcanic tremor was registered for six minutes starting at 1810 on 5 March by the JMA station 4.1 km WSW of the crater. During this activity, two main vents opened on and near the S side of Showa 4-nen (1929) crater. A line of vents extending ~200 m N-S formed on the S part of the crater floor. Strong eruptive activity was observed until 7 March and then decreased. Volcanic earthquakes had increased somewhat prior to the eruption, but seismicity remained low afterwards through mid-April.

Geologic Background. Much of the truncated Hokkaido-Komagatake andesitic volcano on the Oshima Peninsula of southern Hokkaido is Pleistocene in age. The sharp-topped summit lies at the western side of a large breached crater that formed as a result of edifice collapse in 1640 CE. Hummocky debris avalanche material occurs at the base of the volcano on three sides. Two late-Pleistocene and two Holocene Plinian eruptions occurred prior to the first historical eruption in 1640, which began a period of more frequent explosive activity. The 1640 eruption, one of the largest in Japan during historical time, deposited ash as far away as central Honshu and produced a debris avalanche that reached the sea. The resulting tsunami caused 700 fatalities. Three Plinian eruptions have occurred since 1640; in 1694, 1856, and 1929.

Information Contacts: Volcanological Division, Seismological and Volcanological Department, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100 Japan.


Irazu (Costa Rica) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Irazu

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Infrequent microseisms in February and March

During March, the dark-blue lake dropped 30 cm with respect to December 1995. Constant bubbling continued along the N, NW, W, and SE shores. The NW-flank site of the December 1994 eruption continued to emit low volumes of gas. During February and March seismic station IRZ2, 5 km SW of the crater, registered 31 and 19 microseisms, respectively. These events were only detected locally. Significant tilt was not detected over the deformation network.

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: Erick Fernández, Elicer Duarte, Vilma Barboza, Rodolfo Van der Laat, and Enrique Hernandez, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica; Gerardo J. Soto, Oficina de Sismología y Vulcanología, Departamento de Geología, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Apartado 10032-1000, San José, Costa Rica.


Iwatesan (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Iwatesan

Japan

39.853°N, 141.001°E; summit elev. 2038 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Volcanic tremor registered again on 4 March

Small-amplitude volcanic tremor was detected on 4 March. Tremor was last registered on three days in January 1996 (BGVN 21:02) and once in October 1995.

Geologic Background. Viewed from the east, Iwatesan volcano has a symmetrical profile that invites comparison with Fuji, but on the west an older cone is visible containing an oval-shaped, 1.8 x 3 km caldera. After the growth of Nishi-Iwate volcano beginning about 700,000 years ago, activity migrated eastward to form Higashi-Iwate volcano. Iwate has collapsed seven times during the past 230,000 years, most recently between 739 and 1615 CE. The dominantly basaltic summit cone of Higashi-Iwate volcano, Yakushidake, is truncated by a 500-m-wide crater. It rises well above and buries the eastern rim of the caldera, which is breached by a narrow gorge on the NW. A central cone containing a 500-m-wide crater partially filled by a lake is located in the center of the oval-shaped caldera. A young lava flow from Yakushidake descended into the caldera, and a fresh-looking lava flow from the 1732 eruption traveled down the NE flank.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Volcanological Division, Seismological and Volcanological Department, 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan.


Karymsky (Russia) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Karymsky

Russia

54.049°N, 159.443°E; summit elev. 1513 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


More details about the early January eruptions

According to the Institute of Volcanology (IV), the eruption on 2 January began around 0800. This activity was preceded by an upsurge in seismicity that started in April 1995. At 1926 on 31 December 1995, a M 5.8 earthquake occurred in the Kronotsky gulf, 50-60 km NE of the volcano. On 1 January at 2057 an earthquake of M 5.2 in the Karymsky region was followed at 2157 by a M 6.9 event centered ~25 km S of the volcano. During the next day there were more than 10 aftershocks of M >= 5.0. On 2 January at 1540, a group of IV volcanologists arrived by helicopter. Eruptive centers were observed near the summit and 5-6 km S in Karymsky Lake (maximum depth 115 m), which fills the Akademii Nauk caldera.

The eruption began with formation of a vent with a diameter of 20-30 m, located 50 m below the summit. Violent emissions of ash-rich gas jets rose to 1 km from another vent on the SW slope. Steam-and-gas jets, occasionally with black-colored matter, were also ejected to several hundred meters from beneath the surface of Karymsky Lake. The presumed eruptive center was 100-200 m from the shore in the NW sector of the lake. Turbulent steam-and-gas plumes rose 5-6 km above the surface from a 200-m-diameter area. Ice covering the lake had completely melted.

On 3 January the near-summit vent increased in size to 50 m in diameter. Gas and steam blasts alternated with ash ejections from the two simultaneously active vents on the volcano. Ash was usually ejected from the upper vent, and a white-colored plume was emitted from the lower vent. Ash ejections lasted 2-3 minutes, and gas blasts lasted 1.5-2 minutes. An ash-and-gas column rose 1-1.2 km and was blown E and SE by the wind. The surface of Karymsky Lake steamed intensely, sending clouds 800-1,000 m above the lake. Areas of green water were visible through breaks in the clouds, and a newly-formed black beach was seen. In the N and NE sector of the lake a narrow spit, beginning from the source of the Karymsky river and extending 250-300 m to the center of the lake, had formed. The water level in the lake had dropped a few meters. The upper reaches of the river had dried up, but on 2 January waves from the submarine eruption (up to 10 m high or more) overflowed the N shore, flooding a wide valley 1.5 km below the source. During a surveillance flight on 4 January, large areas of the valley were covered by black mud. The beach contained three fumarolic vents along the NE-trending fault zone. Within a radius of 500-800 m of the source of the Karymsky River, the surrounding snow-covered hills contained thousands of holes with diameters ranging from 10 cm to 1.5-2 m formed by lithic blocks ejected from the lake. The water level of the lake continued to fall because of intense evaporation.

Light-gray dacitic ash covered an area of about 150-200 km2. At a distance of 8 km from the volcano fractions ranging from 0.16 to 0.06 mm dominated. Estimates made by S.A. Fedotov indicated that on 2 and 3 January the ash ejection rate from the summit crater reached 3-4 tons/second.

Routine observations from 2 January through 11 February showed that the climactic phase of the subaqueous eruption continued for no more than 12-15 hours. That eruption consisted of frequent explosions during which a vapor-gas mixture with lithic material was ejected to the surface. In the N sector of the lake at the shore W of the Karymsky River, damaged trees provided evidence of two eruptive sources 500-600 m from each other. This zone contained the main concentration of bomb material ejected from the lake. A portion of the shoreline (150-200 m long and 5-15 m wide) E of the river sank several meters into the lake. The main eruption center was 500 m from the shore, but smaller peripheral centers were also observed. As a result of the eruption, in the NNW sector of the lake, a beach in the form of a wide 0.4 km2 cape was produced, as well as a narrow spit extending SE from the old shore. The length of the new shoreline was 2.4 km, and a large shoal was observed around the new peninsula. According to the preliminary estimates, the ejected deposits in the lake are at least 1 km2 in area and 5-10 x 106 m3 in volume.

Thermal springs that discharge at the S shore of Karymsky Lake were destroyed by ejecta from this eruption, and several new mud pots were formed; chemical composition of the solutions was unchanged. Near the center of the new beach, composed of sand-gravel and bomb material, a chain of five explosive vents with diameters from 1.5 to 30 m was observed. At the N end was a thermal site with a diameter of ~50 m that exhibited intense vapor emission and was covered by sublimates; visiting scientists detected a hydrogen sulfide odor. A dry funnel with a diameter of ~3 m and high gas emission at a temperature of 97°C was in the center of this site. Other explosion funnels had water at a depth of 1.2-1.5 m with temperatures from 33 to 70°C. The three funnels closest to the lake and on the opposite shore had gas emissions with temperatures of 97-98°C.

On 4 January run-off from the lake ceased owing to damming by ejected material. Analyses of water samples from the lake, river, and various hot springs in the area indicated that there had been chemical contributions to the lake water by an underlying magma body.

Geologic Background. Karymsky, the most active volcano of Kamchatka's eastern volcanic zone, is a symmetrical stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera that formed during the early Holocene. The caldera cuts the south side of the Pleistocene Dvor volcano and is located outside the north margin of the large mid-Pleistocene Polovinka caldera, which contains the smaller Akademia Nauk and Odnoboky calderas. Most seismicity preceding Karymsky eruptions originated beneath Akademia Nauk caldera, located immediately south. The caldera enclosing Karymsky formed about 7600-7700 radiocarbon years ago; construction of the stratovolcano began about 2000 years later. The latest eruptive period began about 500 years ago, following a 2300-year quiescence. Much of the cone is mantled by lava flows less than 200 years old. Historical eruptions have been vulcanian or vulcanian-strombolian with moderate explosive activity and occasional lava flows from the summit crater.

Information Contacts: G.A. Karpov, Ya.D. Muravyev, R.A. Shuvalov, S.M. Fazlullin, and V.N. Chebrov, Institute of Volcanology, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia.


Kilauea (United States) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Heightened activity on 1-4 February followed by 10-day pause; bench construction

Unusually heightened activity along Kilauea's East Rift zone on 1-4 February was followed by a pause that began on 4 February and ended at midnight on 14 February (BGVN 21:01). Tilt in the N-S direction increased roughly 3-fold; in the E-W direction, roughly 4-fold. Daily counts of shallow, summit SPC earthquake counts rose from around 10/day to 580/day.

During the 14-day pause, lava continued circulating inside the lava pond at Pu`u `O`o cone but no lava was seen flowing in downstream tubes. The lava pond rose to 60-70 m below the rim as the eruption restarted and lava re-entered the tubes around mid-day on 14 February.

Lava subsequently broke out of the tubes to reach the surface at numerous locations (including those at 750-, 720-, 700-, 450-, and 90-m elevations and on the coastal flats). About 31 hours later lava reached the ocean via the old tube system. Despite these numerous sites where lava had been escaping from tubes on 14-15 February, in the days following lava generally ceased reaching the surface and feeding lava flows. Lava did emerge at elevations of 60 to 100 m and on the coastal plain between Kamokuna and Kamoamoa (figure 99). The surface of the lava pond dropped by 19-21 February, possibly reaching 90 m below the rim. Still, on 23 February aa emerged at 270 m elevation. The same day, 23 February, explosive activity at the Kamokuna bench built a new littoral cone.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. New land and active entries in the Kamokuna area, March 1996. Index map shows the swath of 1992-96 lava flows. Courtesy of HVO.

As late as 9 March, flows confined to the area below Pulama Pali and the coast covered much of the S half of the Kamoamoa flow field but failed to reach either adjacent grasslands or the sea. During the early hours of 29 February the entire lower coastal bench, a roughly 30 x 100 m area, fell into the ocean. The event was recorded seismically at an instrument 10 km distant. Since then, freshly erupted lava began constructing a new coastal bench.

During the second half of February through early March, low-amplitude tremor in the East Rift continued; during 13-26 February and 12-25 March tremor amplitudes were ~3x background but showed fluctuations. During the February interval microearthquake counts were low beneath the summit and rift zones. Shallow, long-period microearthquake counts were high on 4-5 March and briefly again on 8 March. On 2, 5, 7, and 8 March there were four events > M 3.0 in the 7-33 km range. Deep tremor from the usual SW source was recorded in three episodes during 14-15 March: a total of 90 minutes on 14 March and 108 minutes on 15 March. Counts of shallow, long-period earthquakes increased during 19-23 March reaching a maximum daily total of 1,750.

On 24 March, 2 hours of elevated tremor (4-5x background) took place without accompanying shallow short-period earthquakes. That same day, the summit inflated rapidly for an hour and then deflated for several hours. The rate of inflation was similar to that of 1 February but the summit acquired only 3 µrads of tilt compared with the 15 µrads seen on 1 February. As the summit deflated on the afternoon of 24 March, the eruption site on the East Rift zone probably received a small magma surge resulting in moderate-sized breakouts in the early afternoon. The breakouts, which originated from the lava tube at the 820-, 750-, and near the 600-m elevations, produced small pahoehoe flows that were mostly stagnant by the next morning. On the night of the 24th, bright glow from Pu`u `O`o indicated turbulence in the lava pond. Except for these flows on 24 March, surface lavas mainly appeared below the base of Pulama Pali.

At the coast, spectacular explosions, some as high as 70 m, began on 19 March. Though diminishing thereafter, they persisted until at least 6 days. Observers saw lava bubble-bursts, lava fountains, and steam jets. These explosions built up five new littoral cones ~130 m W of the earlier Kamokuna entries inside the National Park (figure 99).

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: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), U.S. Geological Survey, PO Box 51, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718, USA.


Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Kuchinoerabujima

Japan

30.443°N, 130.217°E; summit elev. 657 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increasing number of earthquakes since January

According to the Sakura-jima Volcanological Observatory of Kyoto University, the number of earthquakes has increased around Shin-dake since January. The total number of earthquakes recorded was 32 in January, 40 in February, and 77 in March.

A group of young stratovolcanoes forms the E end of Kuchinoerabu-jima Island, midway between Suwanose-jima and Kyushu. Several villages on the 4 x 12 km island are located within a few kilometers of the active crater of Shin-dake and have suffered damage from historical eruptions. Shin-dake is the summit cone, and has been the site of all 13 eruptions known since 1840. The last eruption was a weak 30-minute explosion on 28 September 1980 that sent an ash plume 2-3 km high.

Geologic Background. A group of young stratovolcanoes forms the eastern end of the irregularly shaped island of Kuchinoerabujima in the northern Ryukyu Islands, 15 km W of Yakushima. The Furudake, Shindake, and Noikeyama cones were erupted from south to north, respectively, forming a composite cone with multiple craters. The youngest cone, centrally-located Shindake, formed after the NW side of Furudake was breached by an explosion. All historical eruptions have occurred from Shindake, although a lava flow from the S flank of Furudake that reached the coast has a very fresh morphology. Frequent explosive eruptions have taken place from Shindake since 1840; the largest of these was in December 1933. Several villages on the 4 x 12 km island are located within a few kilometers of the active crater and have suffered damage from eruptions.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Volcanological Division, Seismological and Volcanological Department, 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan.


Kujusan (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Kujusan

Japan

33.086°N, 131.249°E; summit elev. 1791 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased seismicity in late March, but plume remains ash-free

Seismicity increased during 24-27 March, and volcanic tremors were detected late in the month. The total number of earthquakes in March was 507. The height of the ash-free plume remained at 100-300 m for most of the month, with increases to 600 m on 12 and 27 March.

Geologic Background. Kujusan is a complex of stratovolcanoes and lava domes lying NE of Aso caldera in north-central Kyushu. The group consists of 16 andesitic lava domes, five andesitic stratovolcanoes, and one basaltic cone. Activity dates back about 150,000 years. Six major andesitic-to-dacitic tephra deposits, many associated with the growth of lava domes, have been recorded during the Holocene. Eruptive activity has migrated systematically eastward during the past 5000 years. The latest magmatic activity occurred about 1600 years ago, when Kurodake lava dome at the E end of the complex was formed. The first reports of historical eruptions were in the 17th and 18th centuries, when phreatic or hydrothermal activity occurred. There are also many hot springs and hydrothermal fields. A fumarole on Hosho lava dome was the site of a sulfur mine for at least 500 years. Two geothermal power plants are in operation at Kuju.

Information Contacts: Volcanological Division, Seismological and Volcanological Department, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100 Japan.


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — March 1996 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)


Vulcanian explosions continue

Moderate explosive activity continued at Crater 2 during March, however, there was possibly a slight decline compared to last September. Intermittent Vulcanian explosions released ash clouds that rose several hundred meters above the crater. These explosions resulted in minor ashfalls to the volcano's SE. A weak but steady crater-glow was observed on a few nights. In accord with these observations, 6-30 daily explosion earthquakes registered at a station 4 km away. There was no visible activity from Crater 3.

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: Ben Talai, RVO.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — March 1996 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)


Inaudible, weak-to-moderate steaming from two craters

When visible, South and Main Craters only gave off weak to moderate white vapor. There were no audible sounds from either crater and no sighting of glow at night. Seismic monitoring at Manam was absent during March. Measurements from the water tube tiltmeters at Tabele Observatory (4 km SW of the summit) indicated no deflation to slight deflation.

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: Ben Talai, RVO.


Oshima-Oshima (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Oshima-Oshima

Japan

41.51°N, 139.367°E; summit elev. 732 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Earthquakes and tremor detected

Volcanic earthquakes and tremors were detected near the end of March by instruments maintained by Hokkaido University.

This small island 55 km W of Hokkaido in the Japan Sea consists of two coalescing volcanoes. An eruption in August 1741 produced heavy ashfall on the Hokkaido mainland. A violent explosion and landsliding from the Nishi-yama cone accompanied a large tectonic earthquake and a major tsunami that killed 1,475 people, most on the W coast of the Oshima Peninsula. Subsequent eruptions through early 1742 produced a new central cone and lava flows. Minor explosive activity was documented in 1759, 1786, and 1790.

Geologic Background. Oshima-Oshima, a small, 4-km-wide Japan Sea island 55 km west of the SW tip of Hokkaido, is the emergent summit of two coalescing basaltic-to-andesitic stratovolcanoes. Higashiyama, at the east end of the island, is cut by a 2-km-wide caldera covered on its west side by Nishiyama volcano. The western cone failed during an eruption in 1741, creating a large horseshoe-shaped caldera breached to the north that extends from the summit down to the sea floor at the base of the volcano and producing a mostly submarine debris avalanche that traveled 16 km. A tsunami associated with the collapse swept the coasts of Hokkaido, western Honshu, and Korea, and caused nearly 1500 fatalities. The 1741 eruption, the largest in historical time at Oshima-Oshima, concluded with the construction of a basaltic pyroclastic cone at the head of the breached caldera. No eruptions have occurred since the late-18th century.

Information Contacts: Volcanological Division, Seismological and Volcanological Department, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100 Japan.


Pinatubo (Philippines) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Pinatubo

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Rainfall during October-November 1995 typhoons generates floods and lahars

Intense and prolonged rainfall, associated with the passage of two typhoons on 1 October and 3 November 1995, triggered lahars and floods along the Pasig-Potrero River.

On 1 October 1995, Typhoon Mameng delivered 337 mm of rain on the Sacobia pyroclastic fan triggering five distinct and fairly continuous lahar episodes over a 14-hour period. The largest episode had an estimated peak discharge of 400 m3/sec at Mancatian, Porac. Within each episode were discrete peak readings that could be generated by several causes: variations in rainfall intensity and duration, bank caving, repeated damming and breaching along channel constrictions, as well as any combination of these. Flows were described as steaming at observation point Delta 5 (15.5 km from Pinatubo), but progressive dilution through the incorporation of older materials cooled the flows to ambient temperature by the time they reached Bacolor.

The Typhoon Mameng deposit can be distinguished from earlier lahar deposits by the abundance of pebble to boulder-size clasts rip-ups of older, pre-1991, eruption materials scoured from the channel. The Mameng deposit was provisionally classified in two distinct debris flow units: a gray pumiceous, pebbly sand unit (A), and a brown, lithic-rich, coarse gravel unit (B). Unit A occurs as small overbank deposits at Mancatian, and as laterally extensive coalescing lobes from San Antonio, Bacolor down to the Gapan-San Fernando-Ologampo (GSO) road. Its occurrence as an overbank facies at Mancatian suggests that this unit correlates to the above mentioned peak flow episode. Unit B corresponds to subsequent flows and waning episodes: it occurred as in-channel, gravel terrace deposits from Delta 5 observation point downstream to the GSO road, and from thereon as an overbank facies where it overlaid unit A.

A total area of 25 km2 was buried beneath 0.5 to 6 m thick of sediment. An estimated sediment volume of 50 x 106 was deposited during these events, with roughly 40% consisting of either old, pre-1991 eruption deposits or post-1991 eruption lahar materials.

On 3 November 1995, 150 mm of rain fell on Mount Pinatubo with the passage of Typhoon Rosing. Lahars observed at Delta 5 watch point were relatively cold hyperconcentrated flows, based on the absence of steaming. Estimated peak discharge was about 120 m3/sec. Based on flow sensor data from the Pasig-Potrero river, the peak flow was channel-confined down to the GSO road and lasted ~2.6 hours. It eroded ~30 m of the left bank along the Porac-Angels Road. Sediments were mostly clayey remobilized Mameng deposits.

Former flows had already filled the stretch of the channel at a point 2 km upstream of the GSO road down to the S portion of Bacolor. When the peak flow reached the channel-filling stage, it caused flows to bifurcate and incise a new channel (figure 34) ~50 m W of the typhoon Mameng channel. Average in-channel deposition was 2 m thick; average overflow deposition, ~0.3-m thick. Overflow units were observed along the banks of the previous channel along the GSO road and leveled to a recently emplaced steel bridge. Flows reached farther downstream causing flooding and siltation near Mesalipit and Tinajeros. The other channel backflowed following considerable aggradation along the GSO road. The new channel delivered muddy flows that induced flooding and siltation in the W portion of San Fernando, particularly in the Barangays of St. Nino and St. Lucia.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Map of the 1991-95 lahars at Pinatubo. Courtesy of PHIVOLCS.

Lahars have occurred during every rainy season since the eruption of 15 June 1991. Pinatubo's last reported lahars were triggered by the heavy rainfalls of July 1995, when 30 x 106 m3 of debris, deposited over a 12 km2 area, forced mass evacuation of Porac and Bacalor (BGVN 20:07).

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: Raymundo S. Punongbayan, director, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), Department of Science and Technology, (DOST), 5th & 6th Floors Hizon Building, 29 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines.


Poas (Costa Rica) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Poas

Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity decreased roughly 10-fold since October 1995

During a February visit, the temperature of the turquoise-green crater lake was 26°C and its surface had risen 2 m with respect to its January level. Except that this lake-level rise had covered some active fumaroles, their behavior was similar to previous months. Fumaroles on the SE, S, and SW sides of the crater had temperatures of 93-95°C. One fumarole along the lake's W shore had migrated upward along a crack.

When visited during March, the lake appeared sky blue in color, its surface had dropped by 0.5 m compared to the previous month, and the water temperature was 30°C. Fumaroles, their gas emission rates, and temperatures were similar to previous months. A distance survey across the crater found that a 21 ppm/year expansion had occurred since mid-1995. At a spot adjacent to the lake, the survey found an 18 mm contraction since October 1995.

The pyroclastic cone, the major source of gas emission, discharged plumes 200-400 m high. Where accessible the temperatures of the emitted gases were around 94°C; gas emissions sounded like releases from a pressure valve, particularly those venting along the inaccessible N wall.

February and March seismicity consisted of a total 1,100 and 983 events, respectively, the majority being low frequency. This was a roughly 10-fold decrease since a peak in October 1995. Tremor duration was <10 hours, down from over 250 hours in November and December 1995.

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: Erick Fernández, Elicer Duarte, Vilma Barboza, Rodolfo Van der Laat, and Enrique Hernandez, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA); Gerardo J. Soto, Oficina de Sismología y Vulcanología, Departamento de Geología, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE).


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued ash emissions; new lava dome and lava flows in summit crater

A new eruption began early on 5 March with continuous tremor followed by small ash emissions (BGVN 21:02). Low-level ash emissions continued through 11 March with some larger events on 10 and 11 March. Those episodes generated plumes that extended SW over the Pacific Ocean.

After 11 March and through the 19th, the overall level of activity appeared to have reached a steady state. Fumarolic activity alternated with 4-6 short-duration ash emissions each day from the same vents as the 1994-95 episode. These emissions formed short-lived ash columns that were carried away by the wind. Light ashfalls were reported from several towns around the volcano, particularly to the E and S. Seismicity, as low-level tremor accompanied by minor A- and B-type volcanic earthquakes, also showed almost stationary patterns and energy release rates. No deformation was detected by the 3-tiltmeter network on the N flank.

Satellite imagery during this interval revealed intermittent plumes extending E at altitudes around 6-7 km. Late on 13 March the plume was visible as far as 340 km ESE of the summit at 5-7 km altitude; ashfall was reported in Puebla, 70 km E. Large plumes of very thin dispersed ash blowing E over the Gulf of Mexico were observed through 15 March, with denser plumes closer to the volcano. During 15-19 March, when observed on satellite imagery, plumes averaged ~20 km wide and 60 km long before they dissipated; altitudes were in the 5-7 km range.

Ash emission increased between 2000 on 19 March and 0300 on 20 March, when characteristic signals of eight emission events or 'puffs' were detected by the seismic monitoring network. Afterwards, the emission-event rate returned to the previous range of 4-6 events/day. This, combined with stronger winds towards the E, produced light ashfalls on towns in that direction. The 'puff' events were detected on top of a moderate level of volcanic seismicity, consisting of A- and B-type events and low-level tremor, as well as strong signals from Pacific-coast tectonic earthquakes unrelated to the volcanic activity.

On 21 March the ash emission rate remained stable. The next day, the puffs' frequency increased to ~9/day, but their size decreased. Average height of the ash plumes was ~500 m above the summit, and duration <5 minutes. This activity continued without significant changes until 25 March, when the rate of ash emissions reached 8 puffs between 1030 and 1230 before returning to a rate of 8-10/day. This condition prevailed until 28 March, when another increase in the level of activity was detected similar to that on 25 March. The ash puffs were easily recognized in the seismograms as 30-40 seconds of tremor followed by an impulsive signal, similar to seismic events in the 1994-95 episode. Although the release of seismic energy increased after 25 March, the levels never reached high values, and remained well below the energy level of 5 March. Seismicity decreased again in late March.

Plumes after 20 March continued to be visible on satellite imagery, and were interpreted based on wind data to generally have been below 7 km altitude, with some slightly higher. However, poor weather and low levels of activity limited the number of plumes identified. Aviation notices from Mexico City and observers at the Puebla airport through 4 April continued to report ash at low levels, usually within ~20-30 km of the summit, blowing in easterly directions.

On 29 March during a COSPEC flight, Lucio Cardenas, Juan Jose Ramirez, and Hugo Delgado observed a new lava dome with an area of 400 m2 on the E side of the crater floor along the rim of the inner crater (a lava dome destroyed during the 1920-27 eruption). This new lava dome was observed coming from a source outside that inner crater but flowing into the it. Another helicopter flight later that day confirmed that block-lava was flowing from a vent located between the vents opened on December 1994 and the 1919 craterlet near the center of the crater. This lava slowly flowed towards the craterlet. When the dome was checked again on 1 April lava had filled most of the inner crater (nearly 60 m deep) and increased its area to nearly 600 m2. Assuming that the lava started to flow towards the craterlet on 25 March, and that it had been almost filled by 1 April, a rough estimate of the lava extrusion rate is 5,000-6,000 m3/day.

The formation of this craterlet was described in detail by Dr. Atl, the painter-volcanologist who later studied the Parícutin eruption in detail. According to him, the bottom of the volcano crater was almost flat before 1919. That year, extruded lava formed a small dome ~35 m high and 60-70 m diameter in the base. That dome collapsed in 1923 forming the craterlet. The volume of the internal cone of the craterlet is estimated to be 40,000 m3.

A series of SO2 flux measurements was begun after January 1994 (BGVN 19:11 and 19:12). During 1995 measurements rose to nearly 8,000 metric tons/day (t/d) in March, but gradually decreased to 2,000 t/d in June. A persistent decrease in gas emissions starting in July reduced the SO2 flux to nearly 100 t/d by December 1995. During the 5 March 1996 event, renewed ash emissions coincided with SO2 fluxes of up to 15,000 t/d; by late March it was decreasing, but emission levels remained high (>5,000 t/d). Currently, the COSPEC measurements are carried out by the Instituto de Geofisica (National University of Mexico), sponsored by the Secretaria de Gobernacion (Ministry of the Interior) through CENAPRED (Disaster Prevention National Center) using an instrument borrowed from the University of Colima and a plane owned by the Mexican Navy.

Geologic Background. Volcán Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, rises 70 km SE of Mexico City to form North America's 2nd-highest volcano. The glacier-clad stratovolcano contains a steep-walled, 400 x 600 m wide crater. The generally symmetrical volcano is modified by the sharp-peaked Ventorrillo on the NW, a remnant of an earlier volcano. At least three previous major cones were destroyed by gravitational failure during the Pleistocene, producing massive debris-avalanche deposits covering broad areas to the south. The modern volcano was constructed south of the late-Pleistocene to Holocene El Fraile cone. Three major Plinian eruptions, the most recent of which took place about 800 CE, have occurred since the mid-Holocene, accompanied by pyroclastic flows and voluminous lahars that swept basins below the volcano. Frequent historical eruptions, first recorded in Aztec codices, have occurred since Pre-Columbian time.

Information Contacts: Servando De la Cruz-Reyna (CENAPRED and Instituto de Geofisica, UNAM); Roberto Quaas Weppen, Enrique Guevara Ortiz, Bertha López Najera, and Alicia Martinez Bringas, Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED), México D.F., México; Hugo Delgado Granados, Instituto de Geofisica, UNAM, Circuito Cientifico C.U., 04510 Mexico D.F., México; Jim Lynch, NOAA Synoptic Analysis Branch.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — March 1996 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)


December-March ash deposits now 10-cm thick; seismicity continues

During March the intra-caldera cone Tavurvur produced ash explosions at 2-5 minute intervals; these rose to ~400-1,500 m altitude and then generally drifted SE. As a result, over the last 4 months ~10 cm of ash accumulated on the abandoned village of Talwat (2 km SE of Tavurvur). Vulcan only produced weak fumarolic emissions.

Seismicity fluctuated slightly during March, remaining at a level slightly lower than the peak reached in mid-February. Low-frequency earthquakes, events associated with Tavurvur ash emissions, took place 100-250 times/day (a total of 4,708 times during March). There were also five brief intervals where non-harmonic tremor took place. Only six high-frequency earthquakes occurred; some were kilometers outside the caldera to the NE in the area most seismically active since the 1994 eruption.

No significant ground deformation affected the caldera during the month. Overall, during the recent eruptive phase, the only observed ground deformation has been a slight (20 µrad) deflation at the tiltmeters nearest to Tavurvur.

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: Ben Talai, Rabaul Volcano Observatory, P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — March 1996 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)


Mild seismicity continues in February

Several small-to-moderate eruptions took place in early November 1995 (BGVN 20:10 and 20:11/12). Mild seismicity continued after the eruption; during February seismic station RIN3, located 5 km SW of the active crater, registered seven microseisms (six low-frequency, one high-frequency). These microseisms were only detected locally.

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: Erick Fernández, Elicer Duarte, Vilma Barboza, Rodolfo Van der Laat, and Enrique Hernandez, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica; Gerardo J. Soto, Oficina de Sismolog¡a y Vulcanolog¡a, Departamento de Geolog¡a, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Apartado 10032-1000, San José, Costa Rica.


Sangay (Ecuador) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Sangay

Ecuador

2.005°S, 78.341°W; summit elev. 5286 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Phreatic explosions, blue gas plumes, crater glow, and dome rockfalls

From 24 November to 12 December 1995, the first detailed study of Sangay volcano (figures 1 and 2) was carried out by an Instituto Geofísico/ORSTOM team (Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Quito), with helicopter support from the Ecuadorian Army and the assistance of five local guides from Alao. During this time, activity was characterized by continuous fumarolic steaming, frequent phreatic explosions, occasional crater glow, and dome rockfalls. Previous reports from August 1976, August 1983, and June-August 1988 (SEAN 01:10, 08:07, and 13:08) identified four summit vents aligned WSW-ENE, which are here numbered from 1 to 4 going from W to E.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Present cone of Sangay in December 1995 viewed from the base camp 4.3 km SW. The recent pyroclastic-flow deposit on which the campsite is located is in the foreground, among the badlands corresponding to an older edifice. At the summit can be seen the W lava dome (Vent 1) and its now inactive lava tongues. Photo by M. Monzier, courtesy of ORSTOM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. View of the Sangay summit in December 1995 looking NE from the base camp showing the lava dome and associated lava flows from Vent 1. Behind this dome, a steam plume rises from the main crater (Vent 3). Photo by M. Monzier, courtesy of ORSTOM.

In 1976, Vent 1 consisted of a fracture from which lava was slowly issuing, but by August 1983 it had built a lava dome. This small dome was apparently more active in August 1988, and sent a lava flow 400 m down the W flank, where it split into two lobes. In late 1995 this dome was possibly still growing, and was the source of some fumarolic activity and many rockfalls, making the W and SW slopes of the cone dangerous to cross. Apparently there have been no new lava flows from this vent since August 1988. Vent 2, a small 15-m-diameter crater immediately ENE of Vent 1 has frequently been the site of explosive activity (1976 and 1983), but apparently was less active in 1988 and was quiet during the 1995 visit. The ENE crater (Vent 4) remained inactive but with occasional fumarolic activity.

Vent 3, at 80-100 m across, is the largest and deepest crater. In 1976 and 1983 only fumarolic activity was observed from this crater, but lava was reported in 1988. During the 1995 visit it was the site of frequent phreatic explosions, some separated by hours, others coming as often as every 26 minutes. Several explosions were followed by a rhythmic, pulsating roar that lasted for up to 50 oscillations. White vapor plumes, ejected with the audible explosions, rose several hundred meters above the summit. Light blue gas plumes and occasional red glow at night immediately above this crater implied the presence of lava. Frequent rockfalls from the upper S flank of the cone suggested that some lava may be escaping, breaking off, and rolling down the S slopes.

During the visit a portable MEQ-800 Sprengnether seismograph with a vertical, 1-Hz L4C geophone was operated at the La Playa base camp, 4.3 km SW of the main crater at 3,600 m elevation. A preliminary study of the smoked-paper seismograms showed three types of seismic signals, frequently associated with observed explosions in the crater (figures 3 and 4): tremor, long-period, and hybrid events. Tremor events had a monochromatic signature with a period of 1 second and lasted < 60 seconds. The long-period events had emergent arrivals and a constant period of ~0.7 seconds; they were often associated with observed explosions. Hybrid events began with a long-period event (0.7 seconds) and were followed by a signal similar to that of the tremor (1 second). Some hybrid events were associated with audible and observed explosions followed by a roar like pulsating, rhythmic exhalations. No local high-frequency events were detected.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Types of volcanic earthquakes at Sangay recorded by the seismic station 4.3 km SW in December 1995. Courtesy of ORSTOM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Volcanic seismicity recorded at Sangay, 26 November-10 December 1995. Courtesy of ORSTOM.

Recent lavas and pyroclastic-flow, debris-flow, and lahar deposits are ubiquitous around the cone and testify to Sangay's nearly continuous activity. The site of the La Playa camp (figure 5) is on an andesitic pyroclastic-flow deposit containing bombs up to 4 m in diameter which was emplaced between 1956 and 1965. An accident with two fatalities happened in August 1976 (SEAN 01:10). A previously unreported accident occurred in December 1993 when the main crater exploded just as two mountaineers looked over its rim. Both were blinded by the heat and fragment impacts and remained lost in the jungle on the cone's lower slopes until rescued three days later.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Preliminary geological/structural map of Sangay volcano based on fieldwork, aerial photographs, and 1:50,000 topographic maps from the Instituto Geografico Militar, Quito. Key: M = metamorphic formations; I, II, III = successive volcanic edifices; C1 and C2 = avalanche calderas; AD = avalanche deposits. Campsites are shown as black dots (La Playa = basecamp, Z = Zumbacocha and D = Duende are secondary camps).

In addition to the present cone (Sangay III), two previous edifices were identified and sampled, both of which had been destroyed by collapse. The remnant calderas are found on the E side of the present cone and are breached E toward the Amazon plain. Their probable avalanche deposits lie at the E foot of the cone. A preliminary geologic map of Sangay (figure 5) shows the three successive edifices and the two associated calderas. Edifice I is mainly built of lava, whereas edifices II and III contain both lava and pyroclastic deposits. The products of edifices I and II appear to be more varied in composition (greater differentiation) than those of Sangay III, where mafic andesites seem to predominate.

This isolated stratovolcano E of the Andean crest is one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes having been in frequent eruption for the past several centuries. The steep-sided glacier-covered volcano towers above the tropical jungle on the E side; on the other sides heavy rains have caused plains of ash to be sculpted into steep-walled canyons up to 600 m deep. The first historical eruption was reported in 1628, and more or less continuous eruptions took place from 1728 until 1916, and again from 1934 to the present.

Geologic Background. The isolated Sangay volcano, located east of the Andean crest, is the southernmost of Ecuador's volcanoes and its most active. The steep-sided, glacier-covered, dominantly andesitic volcano grew within horseshoe-shaped calderas of two previous edifices, which were destroyed by collapse to the east, producing large debris avalanches that reached the Amazonian lowlands. The modern edifice dates back to at least 14,000 years ago. It towers above the tropical jungle on the east side; on the other sides flat plains of ash have been sculpted by heavy rains into steep-walled canyons up to 600 m deep. The earliest report of a historical eruption was in 1628. More or less continuous eruptions were reported from 1728 until 1916, and again from 1934 to the present. The almost constant activity has caused frequent changes to the morphology of the summit crater complex.

Information Contacts: M. Monzier and C. Robin, ORSTOM, A.P. 17-11-6596, Quito, Ecuador; M. Hall, P. Mothes, and P. Samaniego, Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, A.P. 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador.


Socorro (Mexico) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Socorro

Mexico

18.78°N, 110.95°W; summit elev. 1050 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Slight temperature increases at most summit fumaroles and hot springs

Logistical support from the Méxican Navy enabled researchers to measure seven fumarole and hot spring temperatures on 2 February 1995 in the summit region of Socorro Island's Mount Everman. Previous measurements, taken on 5-12 February 1993, were made at the same sites. These sites, labeled A-G, are shown on sketch maps and tables in Siebe and others (1995) and BGVN 18:01. In this most recent series of measurements, all temperatures were 90°C, except site D, which was 74°C. The 1993 measurements were made in conjunction with a local submarine eruption that also produced T-wave signals. These new measurements showed a several-degree increase over many of those in 1993.

The 1993 eruption was seen at the ocean surface over the island's submarine W flanks; during this visit further signs of eruption were absent from the ocean's surface and from distant hydrophones. Unfortunately, local hydrophones on the S end of the island were not operational. Several hundred meters N of the summit, on North Dome, the visitors saw recently killed vegetation and dead trees on the margins of some hydrothermally active pits. They also noted soft warm ground, dead bracken, and newly established pits, suggesting reactivation. In other cases green trees grew in the pit walls. While the majority of the fumaroles appeared similar to those in 1993, the observers noted three 'mud volcanoes'; two were active and the third issued deep rumblings. A stream in the vicinity of the summit and North Dome had a temperature of 60°C and numerous 80°C springs were seen both along its bed and nearby.

Reference. Siebe, C., Komorowski, J-C., Navarro, C., McHone, J., Delgado, H., and Cortes, A., 1995, Submarine eruption near Socorro Island, Mexico: Geochemistry and scanning electron microscope studies of floating scoria and reticulite: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 68, p. 239-71.

Geologic Background. Socorro, the SE-most of the Revillagigedo Islands south of Baja California, is the summit of a massive, predominately submarine basaltic shield volcano capped by a largely buried, 4.5 x 3.8-km-wide summit caldera. A large tephra cone and lava dome complex, Cerro Evermann, forms the summit, and along with other cones and vents, fills much of the Pleistocene caldera. Rhyolitic lava domes have been constructed along flank rifts oriented to the N, W, and SE, and silicic lava flows from summit and flank vents have reached the coast and created an extremely irregular shoreline. Late-stage basaltic eruptions produced cones and flows near the coast. Only minor explosive activity, some of which is of uncertain validity, has occurred from flank vents in historical time dating back to the 19th century. In 1951 a brief phreatic eruption ejected blocks, and the gas column reached 1200 m altitude. A submarine eruption occurred during 1993-94 from a vent 3 km W of the island during which large scoriaceous blocks up to 5 m in size floated to the surface without associated explosive activity.

Information Contacts: Andrew M. Burton, OCEAN, Organizatión para la Conservación Estudio y Análisis de la Naturaleza, A.C., 22 de Diciembre No. 1, Col. Manuel Avila Camancho, Naucalpan, Edo. de México.


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Soufriere Hills

United Kingdom

16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Escalating dome growth spawns pyroclastic flows and another evacuation

During March ash plumes continued to blow over the Capital and environs, and the rate of dome extrusion escalated. Later, on 3 April, explosions at the dome and pyroclastic flows down the Tar River prompted an evacuation of the southern part of the island.

Seismicity during March from both rockfalls and deeper sources continued in a manner consistent with dome growth. Tremor was repeatedly recorded at Gages station. Although there were exceptions, deformation mainly continued as a shortening of line lengths equivalent to ~1 mm/day (similar to trends seen since mid-November). The chief exception was on the W flank (Amersham to Chances Steps line), which on March 11 showed a surprising 3 cm lengthening since last measured on February 19. This is a reversal of the shortening that occurred from October to late December on this line.

Numerous rockfalls and avalanches from the dome in early March chiefly appeared on the dome's SW and NW sides. Next, they were repeatedly seen on the NW but some also started in the dome's central area (week 2). Rockfalls then shifted from the dome's NW margin to the E margin (week 3). Later rockfalls descended the NW, W, and E margins (week 4).

Rapidly growing spines continued to be common during much of March. They were noted on the dome's SW (weeks 1 and 2) and NW (week 4). On the NW, one spine achieved the greatest absolute height of any yet seen. It extruded rapidly, rising 10 m over an interval of about one day on 26-27 March. Over a 24-hour interval beginning at 1600 on 21 March, another spine's vertical growth measured ~7 m.

The dome's topography was mapped during week 2 from Farrell's lookout (on the WNW). The resulting map allowed workers to estimate the dome's mid-March volume as ~6.7 x 106 m3, a value comparable to previous, cruder estimates made in the field. It appeared that the dome's growth rate increased 7- to 10-fold in the last few months. Specifically, the late-November and December rate was ~0.2-0.3 m3/second whereas the March rate was closer to 2 m3/sec. On 3 and 12 March the growing dome's summit elevations were 845 and 875 m, a 30 m rise in ~9 days. Later, on 20 March, a visit to Gages Wall revealed that, even though this sector had few rockfalls around the time of the visit, the dome's talus apron had grown to within ~15 m of the wall's top.

During week 2, fine ash carried from some larger rock falls was deposited on the upper W flanks. On 17 March, viewers on Farrell's lookout were enveloped in a warm ash cloud following a rockfall that occurred without a noticeable explosive component. That same day an explosion may have helped drive an ash column to 2,300 m.

Other relatively large ash clouds appeared repeatedly during late March and early April. On 27 March there were ash clouds generated at 0642, 0700, 0848, and 1725. The 0642 event produced an ash column that reached a height of 2,000-2,300 m and blew W blanketing areas in vicinity of the Capital. The 0642 event accompanied a seismic signal comprised of seven pulses in a 14-minute interval; the 0700 event generated a smaller ash column accompanied by three seismic pulses. Except for these intervals of unusual seismicity and frequent signals from large rockfalls, seismicity during the 24-hour interval prior to the 27 March events had been generally quiet. Helicopter observations shortly after the 0700 event disclosed that ash had been channeled to the E down a drainage called the Hot River Ghaut. Hot ash had traveled for ~1 km from the dome, igniting dead trees along its path. Observers witnessed the 0848 event, but it was much smaller and areally restricted.

Several other plumes on 31 March led to a nearly one-hour interval late that day when unusually intense seismicity registered at all the stations. The seismicity was correlated with ash plumes that blew W. On 1 April a helicopter flight confirmed the largest block-and-ash flows yet seen. Although runout distances were similar to those seen on 27 March (on the order of 1 km from the base of the Castle Peak dome), those on 1 April entrained bigger blocks and had a more widely dispersed dilute component that burned a broader swath of trees and foliage around the Tar River Soufriere (~1 km NE of Castle Peak's summit).

Until a small explosive event at 0652 on 3 April, the majority of the airborne ash was thought to have come from rockfalls and avalanches off the dome. This explosion, and several other significant ones the same day, discharged from a fissure on the dome's E flank, a spot that also appeared as the source of recent rockfalls. At various times on 3 April, continuous ash emissions came from the crater area. The activity continued to build during the day, with many small explosive seismic signals and continuous tremor recorded at the closest seismic station on Chances Peak.

At 1518, a pyroclastic flow occurred in the Tar River area. It traveled ~1.9 km down this drainage and burned vegetation and set fire to sulfur at the Tar River Soufriere. It also extended 1.9 km down the Hot River Valley (to where the road crosses the river), stopping ~400 m upslope of the Tar River Estate house. Although no inhabited areas were affected by the pyroclastic flow, the settlement of Long Ground lies ~2 km NE of Castle Peak's summit. The flow generated an ash plume that rose to ~6,700 m. Much of the ash blew N in light and variable winds. Other pyroclastic flows occurred at 1808 and 1818. These events, some of which were captured on NASA GOES satellite images, prompted scientists to note the possibility of further explosive eruptions during the next few days and to urge residents to move to the island's N end. The 3 April evacuation continued through at least 30 April.

Geologic Background. The complex, dominantly andesitic Soufrière Hills volcano occupies the southern half of the island of Montserrat. The summit area consists primarily of a series of lava domes emplaced along an ESE-trending zone. The volcano is flanked by Pleistocene complexes to the north and south. English's Crater, a 1-km-wide crater breached widely to the east by edifice collapse, was formed about 2000 years ago as a result of the youngest of several collapse events producing submarine debris-avalanche deposits. Block-and-ash flow and surge deposits associated with dome growth predominate in flank deposits, including those from an eruption that likely preceded the 1632 CE settlement of the island, allowing cultivation on recently devegetated land to near the summit. Non-eruptive seismic swarms occurred at 30-year intervals in the 20th century, but no historical eruptions were recorded until 1995. Long-term small-to-moderate ash eruptions beginning in that year were later accompanied by lava-dome growth and pyroclastic flows that forced evacuation of the southern half of the island and ultimately destroyed the capital city of Plymouth, causing major social and economic disruption.

Information Contacts: Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO), c/o Chief Minister's Office, PO Box 292, Plymouth, Montserrat (URL: http://www.mvo.ms/); NOAA/NESDIS Synoptic Analysis Branch (SAB), Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA.


Suwanosejima (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak ash eruptions in early March cause ashfalls

Weak ash eruptions were observed on 5 and 6 March; occasional ashfalls were reported on the island. Nine explosions were observed in 1995 and there were small eruptions during 10-13 January (BGVN 21:01). Activity has been high since 1950.

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: Volcanological Division, Seismological and Volcanological Department, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100 Japan.


Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — March 1996 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)


Still emitting low to moderate amounts of steam

As in previous months, during March Ulawun emitted weak to moderate volumes of white vapor. The seismograph did not operate.

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: Ben Talai, RVO.


Unzendake (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Unzendake

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Tremor associated with minor tilt changes

Volcanic tremor on 24 March was associated with minor tiltmeter changes. A pyroclastic flow on 10 February (BGVN 21:02) was the first in a year. Dome growth followed by collapses that generated pyroclastic flows was a common occurrence during the 1990-95 eruption.

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: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Volcanological Division, Seismological and Volcanological Department, 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan.

Atmospheric Effects

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

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


Central Chile and Argentina


Estero de Parraguirre


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

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

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

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



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

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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


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

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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