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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

Aira (Japan) Explosions with ejecta and ash plumes continue weekly during January-June 2019

Agung (Indonesia) Continued explosions with ash plumes and incandescent ejecta, February-May 2019

Kerinci (Indonesia) Intermittent explosions with ash plumes, February-May 2019.

Suwanosejima (Japan) Small ash plumes continued during January through June 2019

Great Sitkin (United States) Small steam explosions in early June 2019

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



Aira (Japan) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions with ejecta and ash plumes continue weekly during January-June 2019

Sakurajima rises from Kagoshima Bay, which fills the Aira Caldera near the southern tip of Japan's Kyushu Island. Frequent explosive and occasional effusive activity has been ongoing for centuries. The Minamidake summit cone has been the location of persistent activity since 1955; the Showa crater on its E flank has also been intermittently active since 2006. Numerous explosions and ash-bearing emissions have been occurring each month at either Minamidake or Showa crater since the latest eruptive episode began in late March 2017. This report covers ongoing activity from January through June 2019; the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) provides regular reports on activity, and the Tokyo VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center) issues tens of reports each month about the frequent ash plumes.

From January to June 2019, ash plumes and explosions were usually reported multiple times each week. The quietest month was June with only five eruptive events; the most active was March with 29 (table 21). Ash plumes rose from a few hundred meters to 3,500 m above the summit during the period. Large blocks of incandescent ejecta traveled as far as 1,700 m from the Minamidake crater during explosions in February and April. All the activity originated in the Minamidake crater; the adjacent Showa crater only had a mild thermal anomaly and fumarole throughout the period. Satellite imagery identified thermal anomalies inside the Minamidake crater several times each month.

Table 21. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Sakurajima's Minamidake crater in Aira caldera, January-June 2019. The number of events that were explosive in nature are in parentheses. No events were recorded at the Showa crater during this time. Data courtesy of JMA (January to June 2019 monthly reports).

Month Ash emissions (explosive) Max. plume height above crater Max. ejecta distance from crater
Jan 2019 8 (6) 2.1 km 1.1 km
Feb 2019 15 (11) 2.3 km 1.7 km
Mar 2019 29 (12) 3.5 km 1.3 km
Apr 2019 10 (5) 2.2 km 1.7 km
May 2019 15 (9) 2.9 km 1.3 km
Jun 2019 5 (2) 2.2 km 1.3 km

There were eight eruptive events reported by JMA during January 2019 at the Minamidake summit crater of Sakurajima. They occurred on 3, 6, 7, 9, 17, and 19 January (figure 76). Ash plume heights ranged from 600 to 2,100 m above the summit. The largest explosion, on 9 January, generated an ash plume that rose 2,100 m above the summit crater and drifted E. In addition, incandescent ejecta was sent 800-1,100 m from the summit. Incandescence was visible at the summit on most clear nights. During an overflight on 18 January no significant changes were noted at the crater (figure 77). Infrared thermal imaging done on 29 January indicated a weak thermal anomaly in the vicinity of the Showa crater on the SE side of Minamidake crater. The Kagoshima Regional Meteorological Observatory (KRMO) (11 km WSW) recorded ashfall there during four days of the month. Satellite imagery indicated thermal anomalies inside Minamidake on 7 and 27 January (figure 77).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Incandescent ejecta and ash emissions characterized activity from Sakurajima volcano at Aira during January 2019. Left: A webcam image showed incandescent ejecta on the flanks on 9 January 2019, courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, January 2019). Right: An ash plume rose hundreds of meters above the summit, likely also on 9 January, posted on 10 January 2019, courtesy of Mike Day.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. The summit of Sakurajima consists of the larger Minamidake crater and the smaller Showa crater on the E flank. Left: The Minamidake crater at the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 18 January 2019 seen in an overflight courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, March 2019). Right: Two areas of thermal anomaly were visible in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 27 January 2019. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity increased during February 2019, with 15 eruptive events reported on days 1, 3, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 17, 22, 24, and 27. Ash plume heights ranged from 600-2,300 m above the summit, and ejecta was reported 300 to 1,700 m from the crater in various events (figure 78). KRMO reported two days of ashfall during February. Satellite imagery identified thermal anomalies at the crater on 6 and 26 February, and ash plumes on 21 and 26 February (figure 79).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. An explosion from Sakurajima at Aira on 7 February 2019 sent ejecta up to 1,700 m from the Minamidake summit crater. Courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, February 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Thermal anomalies and ash emissions were captured in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 6, 21, and 26 February 2019 originating from Sakurajima volcano at Aira. Top: Thermal anomalies within the summit crater were visible underneath steam and ash plumes on 6 and 26 February (closeup of bottom right photo). Bottom: Ash emissions on 21 and 26 February drifted SE from the volcano. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The number of eruptive events continued to increase during March 2019; there were 29 events reported on numerous days (figures 80 and 81). An explosion on 14 March produced an ash plume that rose 3,500 m above the summit and drifted E. It also produced ejecta that landed 800-1,100 m from the crater. During an overflight on 26 March a fumarole was the only activity in Showa crater. KRMO reported 14 days of ashfall during the month. Satellite imagery identified an ash plume on 13 March and a thermal anomaly on 18 March (figure 82).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. A large ash emission from Sakurajima volcano at Aira was photographed by a tourist on the W flank and posted on 1 March 2019. Courtesy of Kratü.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. An ash plume from Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 18 March 2019 produced enough ashfall to disrupt the trains in the nearby city of Kagoshima according to the photographer. Image taken from about 20 km away. Courtesy of Tim Board.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. An ash plume drifted SE from the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 13 March (left) and a thermal anomaly was visible inside the Minamidake crater on 18 March 2019 (right). "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

A decline in activity to only ten eruptive events on days 7, 13, 17, 22, and 25 was reported by JMA for April 2019. An explosion on 7 April sent ejecta up to 1,700 m from the crater. Another explosion on 13 April produced an ash plume that rose 2,200 m above the summit. Most of the eruptive events at Sakurajima last for less than 30 minutes; on 22 April two events lasted for almost an hour each producing ash plumes that rose 1,400 m above the summit. Ashfall at KRMO was reported during seven days in April. Two distinct thermal anomalies were visible inside the Minamidake crater on both 12 and 27 April (figure 83).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Two thermal anomalies were present inside Minamidake crater at the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 12 (left) and 27 (right) April 2019. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

There were 15 eruptive events during May 2019. An event that lasted for two hours on 12 May produced an ash plume that rose 2,900 m from the summit and drifted NE (figure 84). The Meteorological Observatory reported 14 days with ashfall during the month. Two thermal anomalies were present in satellite imagery in the Minamidake crater on both 17 and 22 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. An ash plume rose 2,900 m above the summit of Sakurajima at Aira on 12 May 2019 (left); incandescent ejecta went 1,300 m from the summit crater on 13 May. Courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, May 2019).

During June 2019 five eruptive events were reported, on 11, 13, and 24 June; the event on 11 June lasted for almost two hours, sent ash 2,200 m above the summit, and produced ejecta that landed up to 1,100 m from the crater (figure 85). Five days of ashfall were reported by KRMO.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A large ash plume on 11 June 2019 rose 2,200 m above the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira. Courtesy of Aone Wakatsuki.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Mike Day, Minnesota, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/MikeDaySMM, photo at https://twitter.com/MikeDaySMM/status/1083489400451989505/photo/1); Kratü, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/TalesOfKratue, photo at https://twitter.com/TalesOfKratue/status/1101469595414589441/photo/1); Tim Board, Japan, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/Hawkworld_, photo at https://twitter.com/Hawkworld_/status/1107789108754038789); Aone Wakatsuke, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/AoneWakatsuki, photo at https://twitter.com/AoneWakatsuki/status/1138420031258210305/photo/3).


Agung (Indonesia) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Agung

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued explosions with ash plumes and incandescent ejecta, February-May 2019

After a large, deadly explosive and effusive eruption during 1963-64, Indonesia's Mount Agung on Bali remained quiet until a new eruption began in November 2017 (BGVN 43:01). Lava emerged into the summit crater at the end of November and intermittent ash plumes rose as high as 3 km above the summit through the end of the year. Activity continued throughout 2018 with explosions that produced ash plumes rising multiple kilometers above the summit, and the slow effusion of the lava within the summit crater (BGVN 43:08, 44:02). Information about the ongoing eruptive episode comes from Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), also known as the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and multiple sources of satellite data. This report covers the ongoing eruption from February through May 2019.

Intermittent but increasingly frequent and intense explosions with ash emissions and incandescent ejecta characterized activity at Agung during February through May 2019. During February, explosions were reported three times; events on seven days in March were documented with ash plumes and ashfall in surrounding villages. Five significant events occurred during April; two involved incandescent ejecta that traveled several kilometers from the summit, and ashfall tens of kilometers from the volcano. Most of the five significant events reported in May involved incandescent ejecta and ashfall in adjacent villages; air traffic was disrupted during the 24 May event. Ash plumes in May reached altitudes over 7 km multiple times. Thermal activity increased steadily during the period, according to both the MIROVA project (figure 44) and MODVOLC thermal alert data. MAGMA Indonesia reported at the end of May 2019 that the volume of lava within the summit crater remained at about 25 million m3; satellite information indicated continued thermal activity within the crater. Alert Level III (of four levels) remained in effect throughout the period with a 4 km exclusion radius around the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Thermal activity at Agung from 4 September 2018 through May 2019 was variable. The increasing frequency and intensity of thermal events was apparent from February-May. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Steam plumes rose 30-300 m high daily during February 2019. The Agung Volcano Observatory (AVO) and PVMBG issued a VONA on 7 February (UTC) reporting an ash plume, although it was not visible due to meteoric cloud cover. Incandescence, however, was observed at the summit from webcams in both Rendang and Karangasem City (16 km SE). The seismic event associated with the explosion lasted for 97 seconds. A similar event on 13 February was also obscured by clouds but produced a seismic event that lasted for 3 minutes and 40 seconds, and ashfall was reported in the village of Bugbug, about 20 km SE. On 22 February a gray ash plume rose 700 m from the summit during a seismic event that lasted for 6 minutes and 20 seconds (figure 45). The Darwin VAAC reported the plume visible in satellite imagery moving W at 4.3 km altitude. It dissipated after a few hours, but a hotspot remained visible about 10 hours later.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. An ash plume rose from the summit of Agung on 22 February 2019, viewed from the Besakih temple, 7 km SW of the summit. Courtesy of PunapiBali.

Persistent steam plumes rose 50-500 m from the summit during March 2019. An explosion on 4 March was recorded for just under three minutes and produced ashfall in Besakih (7 km SW); no ash plume was observed due to fog. A short-lived ash plume rose to 3.7 km altitude and drifted SE on 8 March (UTC) 2019. The seismic event lasted for just under 4 minutes. Ash emissions were reported on 15 and 17 March to 4.3 and 3.7 km altitude, respectively, drifting W (figure 46). Ashfall from the 15 March event spread NNW and was reported in the villages of Kubu (6 km N), Tianyar (14 km NNW), Ban, Kadundung, and Sukadana. MAGMA Indonesia noted that two explosions on the morning of 17 March (local time) produced gray plumes; the first sent a plume to 500 m above the summit drifting E and lasted for about 40 seconds, while the second plume a few hours later rose 600 m above the crater and lasted for 1 minute and 16 seconds. On 18 March an ash plume rose 1 km and drifted W and NW. An event on 20 March was measured only seismically by PVMBG because fog prevented observations. An eruption on 28 March produced an ash plume 2 km high that drifted W and NW. The seismic signal for this event lasted for about two and a half minutes. The Darwin VAAC reported the ash plume at 5.5 km altitude, dissipating quickly to the NW. No ash was visible four hours later, but a thermal anomaly remained at the summit (figure 47). Ashfall was reported in nearby villages.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Ash plumes from Agung on 15 (left) and 17 (right) March 2019 resulted in ashfall in communities 10-20 km from the volcano. Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia (Information on G. Agung Eruption, 15 March 2019 and Gunung Agung Eruption Press Release March 17, 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. A thermal anomaly was visible through thick cloud cover at the summit of Agung on 29 March 2019 less than 24 hours after a gray ash plume was reported 2,000 m above the summit. "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The first explosion of April 2019 occurred on the 3rd (UTC); PVMBG reported the dense gray ash plume 2 km above the summit drifting W. A few hours later the Darwin VAAC raised the altitude to 6.1 km based on infrared temperatures in satellite imagery. The seismic signal lasted for three and a half minutes and the explosion was heard at the PGA Post in Rendang (12 km SW). Incandescent material fell within a radius of 2-3 km, mainly on the S flank (figure 48). Ashfall was reported in the villages of Telungbuana, Badeg, Besakih, Pempatan, Teges, and Puregai on the W and S flanks (figure 49). An explosion on 11 April also produced a dense gray ash plume that rose 2 km above the summit and drifted W. A hotspot remained about six hours later after the ash dissipated.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Incandescent ejecta appeared on the flanks of Agung after an eruption on 4 April 2019 (local time) as viewed from the observation post in Rendang (8 km SW). Courtesy of Jamie Sincioco.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Ashfall in a nearby town dusted mustard plants on 4 April 2019 from an explosion at Agung the previous day. Courtesy of Pantau.com (Photo: Antara / Nyoman Hendra).

PVMBG reported an eruption visible in the webcam early on 21 April (local time) that rose to 5.5 km altitude and drifted SW. The ash spread W and S and ash fell around Besakih (7 km SW), Rendang (8 km SW), Klungkung (25 km S), Gianyar (20 km WSW), Bangli (17 km WNW), Tabanan (50 km WSW), and at the Ngurah Rai-Denpasar Airport (60 km SW). About 15 hours later a new explosion produced a dense gray ash plume that rose to 3 km above the summit and produced incandescent ejecta in all directions as far as 3 km away (figure 50). The ash spread to the S and ashfall was reported in Besakih, Rendang, Sebudi (6 km SW), and Selat (12 km SSW). Both of the explosions were heard in Rendang and Batulompeh. The incandescent ejecta from the explosions remained within the 4-km exclusion zone. A satellite image on 23 April showed multiple thermal anomalies within the summit crater (figure 51). A dense gray plume drifted E from Agung on 29 April (30 April local time) at 4.6 km altitude. It was initially reported by ground observers, but was also visible in multispectral satellite imagery for about six hours before dissipating.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. An explosion at Agung on 21 April 2019 sent incandescent eject 3,000 m from the summit. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia (Gunung Agung Eruption Press Release April 21, 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Multiple thermal anomalies were still present within the summit crater of Agung on 23 April 2019 after two substantial explosions produced ash and incandescent ejecta around the summit two days earlier. "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

PVMBG reported an eruption on 3 May 2019 that was recorded on a seismogram with a signal that lasted for about a minute. Satellite imagery reported by the Darwin VAAC showed a growing hotspot and possible ash near the summit at 4.3 km altitude moving NE. A few days later, on 6 May, a gray ash plume rose to 5.2 km altitude and drifted slowly W before dissipating; it was accompanied by a seismic signal that lasted for about two minutes. Explosions on 12 and 18 May produced significant amounts of incandescent ejecta (figure 52). The seismic signal for the 12 May event lasted for about two minutes; no plume was observed due to fog, but incandescent ejecta was visible on the flanks and the explosion was heard at Rendang. The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume from the explosion on 17 May (18 May local time) at 6.1 km altitude in satellite imagery moving E. They revised the altitude a short while later to 7.6 km based on IR temperature and movement; the plume drifted N, NE, and E in light and variable winds. A few hours after that it was moving NE at 7.6 km altitude and SE at 5.5 km altitude; this lasted for about 12 hours until it dissipated. Ashfall was reported in villages downwind including Cutcut, Tongtongan, Bonyoh (20 km WNW), and Temakung.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Explosions on 12 (left) and 18 (right) May (local time) 2019 produced substantial ejecta on the flanks of Agung visible from a distance of 10 km or more in PVMBG webcams. The ash plume from the 18 May event resulted in ashfall in numerous communities downwind. Courtesy of PVMBG (Information Eruption G. Agung, May 13, 2019, Information Eruption G. Agung, May 18, 2019).

The initial explosion on 18 May was captured by a webcam at a nearby resort and sent incandescent ejecta hundreds of meters down the NE flank within 20 seconds (figure 53). Satellite imagery on 3, 8, 13, and 18 May indicated multiple thermal anomalies growing stronger at the summit. All of the images were captured within 24 hours of an explosive event reported by PVMBG (figure 54).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. The 18 May 2019 explosion at Agung produced an ash plume that rose to over 7 km altitude and large bombs of incandescent material that traveled hundreds of meters down the NE flank within the first 20 seconds of the explosion. Images taken from a private webcam located 12 km NE. Courtesy of Volcanoverse, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. Satellite images from 3, 8, 13, and 18 May 2019 at Agung showed persistent and increasing thermal anomalies within the summit crater. All images were captured within 24 hours of explosions reported by PVMBG. "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

PVMBG issued a VONA on 24 May 2019 reporting a new ash emission. They indicated that incandescent fragments were ejected 2.5-3 km in all directions from the summit, and the seismic signal lasted for four and a half minutes (figure 55). A dense gray ash plume was observed from Tulamben on the NE flank rising 2 km above the summit. Satellite imagery indicated that the plume drifted SW and ashfall was reported in the villages of Besakih, Pempatan, Menanga, Sebudi, Muncan, Amerta Bhuana, Nongan, Rendang, and at the Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpassar. Additionally, ashfall was reported in the districts of Tembuku, Bangli, and Susut (20 km SW). The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery at 4.6 km altitude along with a thermal anomaly and incandescent lava visible in webcam imagery. The remains of the ash plume were about 170 km S of the airport in Denpasar (60 km SW) and had nearly dissipated 18 hours after the event. According to a news article several flights to and from Australia were cancelled or diverted, though the International Gusti Ngurah Rai (IGNR) airport was not closed. On 31 May another large explosion produced the largest ash plume of the report period, rising more than 2 km above the summit (figure 56). The Darwin VAAC reported its altitude as 8.2 km drifting ESE visible in satellite data. It split into two plumes, one drifted E at 8.2 km and the other ESE at 6.1 km altitude, dissipating after about 20 hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. A large explosion at Agung on 24 May 2019 produced incandescent ejecta that covered all the flanks and dispersed ash to many communities to the SW. Courtesy of PVMBG (Gunung Agung Eruption Press Release 24 May 2019 20:38 WIB, Kasbani, Ir., M.Sc.).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. An explosion at Agung on 31 May 2019 sent an ash plume to 8.2 km altitude, the highest for the report period. Courtesy of Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); The Jakarta Post, Mount Agung eruption disrupts Australian flights, (URL: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/05/25/mount-agung-eruption-disrupts-australian-flights.html); PunapiBali (URL: http://punapibali.com/, Twitter: https://twitter.com/punapibali, image at https://twitter.com/punapibali/status/1098869352588288000/photo/1); Jamie S. Sincioco, Phillipines (URL: Twitter: https://twitter.com/jaimessincioco. Image at https://twitter.com/jaimessincioco/status/1113765842557104130/photo/1); Pantau.com (URL: https://www.pantau.com/berita/erupsi-gunung-agung-sebagian-wilayah-bali-terpapar-hujan-abu?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter); Volcanoverse (URL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi3T_esus8Sr9I-3W5teVQQ); Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB (Twitter: @Sutopo_PN, URL: https://twitter.com/Sutopo_PN ).


Kerinci (Indonesia) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent explosions with ash plumes, February-May 2019.

Frequently active, Indonesia's Mount Kerinci on Sumatra has been the source of numerous moderate explosive eruptions since its first recorded eruption in 1838. Intermittent explosions with ash plumes, usually multiple times per month, have characterized activity since April 2018. Similar activity continued during February-May 2019, the period covered in this report with information provided primarily by the Indonesian volcano monitoring agency, Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), MAGMA Indonesia, notices from the Darwin Volcano Ash Advisory Center (Darwin VAAC), and satellite data. PVMBG has maintained an Alert Level II (of 4) at Kerinci for several years.

On 13 February 2019 the Kerinci Volcano Observatory (KVO), part of PVMBG, noted a brownish-white ash emission that was drifting NE about 400 m above the summit. The seismicity during the event was dominated by continuous volcanic tremor. A brown ash emission was reported on 7 March 2019 that rose to 3.9 km altitude and drifted NE. Ash also drifted 1,300 m down the SE flank. Another ash plume the next morning drifted W at 4.5 km altitude, according to KVO. On 10, 11, and 13 March KVO reported brown ash plumes drifting NE from the summit at about 4.0-4.3 km altitude. The Darwin VAAC observed continuous ash emissions in satellite imagery on 15 March drifting W at 4.3 m altitude that dissipated after about 3 hours (figure 10). A gray ash emission was reported on 19 March about 600 m above the summit drifting NE; local news media noted that residents of Kayo Aro reported emissions on both 18 and 19 March (figure 11). An ash emission appeared in satellite imagery on 25 March (figure 10). On 30 March the observatory reported two ash plumes; a brown emission at 0351 UTC and a gray emission at 0746 UTC that both drifted NE at about 4.4 km altitude and dissipated within a few hours. PVMBG reported another gray ash plume the following day at a similar altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of Kerinci from 15 (left) and 25 (right) March 2019 showed evidence of ash plumes rising from the summit. Kerinci's summit crater is about 500 m wide. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Dense ash plumes from Kerinci were reported by local news media on 18 and 19 March 2019. Courtesy of Nusana Jambi.

Activity continued during April with a brown ash emission reported on 3 April by several different agencies; the Darwin VAAC and PVMBG daily reports noted that the plume was about 500 m above the summit (4.3 km altitude) drifting NE. KVO observed two brown ash emissions on 13 April (UTC) that rose to 4.2 km altitude and drifted NE. Satellite imagery showed minor ash emissions from the summit on 14 April; steam plumes 100-500 m above the summit characterized activity for the remainder of April (figure 12).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. A dilute ash emission rose from the summit of Kerinci on 14 April 2019 (left); only steam emissions were present on a clear 29 April in Sentinel-2 imagery (right). "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Ashfall on the NE and S flanks within 7 km of the volcano was reported on 2 May 2019. According to a news article, at least five villages were affected late on 2 May, including Tanjung Bungo, Sangir, Sangir Tengah, Sungai Rumpun, and Bendung Air (figures 13 and 14). The smell of sulfur was apparent in the villages. Brown ash emissions were observed on 3 and 4 May that rose to 4.6 and 4.1 km altitude and drifted SE. The Darwin VAAC reported an emission on 5 May, based on a pilot report, that rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted NE for about an hour before dissipating. A brown ash emission on 10 May rose 700 m above the summit and drifted SE. Satellite imagery captured ash emissions from the summit on 14 and 24 May (figure 15). For the remainder of the month, 300-700-m-high dense steam plumes were noted daily until PVMBG reported white and brown plumes on 26 and 27 May rising 500-1,000 m above the summit. Although thermal anomalies were not reported during the period, persistent weak SO2 emissions were identified in TROPOMI instrument satellite data multiple times per month (figure 16).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Ashfall was reported from five villages on the flanks of Kerinci on 2 May 2019. Courtesy of Uzone.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. An ash plume at Kerinci rose hundreds of meters on 2 May 2019; ashfall was reported in several nearby villages. Courtesy of Kerinci Time.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Ash emissions from Kerinci were captured in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 14 (left) and 24 (right) May 2019. The summit crater is about 500 m wide. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Weak SO2 anomalies from Kerinci emissions were captured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite multiple times each month from February to May 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); 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/); Nuansa Jambi, Informasi Utama Jambi: (URL: https://nuansajambi.com/2019/03/20/gunung-kerinci-semburkan-asap-tebal/); Kerinci Time (URL: https://kerincitime.co.id/gunung-kerinci-semburkan-abu-vulkanik.html); Uzone.id (URL: https://news.uzone.id/gunung-kerinci-erupsi-5-desa-tertutup-abu-tebal).


Suwanosejima (Japan) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small ash plumes continued during January through June 2019

Suwanosejima is an active volcanic island south of Japan in the Ryuku islands with recent activity centered at Otake crater. The current eruption began in October 2004 and activity has mostly consisted of small ash plumes, ballistic ejecta, and visible incandescence at night. This report summarizes activity during January through June 2019 and is based on reports by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), and various satellite data.

Thermal activity recorded by the MIROVA system was low through January and February after a decline in November (figure 36), shown in Sentined-2 thermal infrared imagery as originating at a vent in the Otake crater (figure 37). During January an explosive event was observed at 1727 on the 3rd, producing a gray plume that rose 600 m above the crater. A white gas-and-steam plume rose to 1.5 km above the crater and nighttime incandescence was observed throughout the month. Reduced activity continued through February with no reported explosive eruptions and light gray plumes up to 900 m above the crater. Incandescence continued to be recorded at night using a sensitive surveillance camera.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. MIROVA log radiative power plot of MODIS thermal infrared data at Suwanosejima during September 2018 through June 2019. There was reduced activity in 2019 with periods of more frequent anomalies during March and June. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. A Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image shows Suwanosejima with the active Otake crater in the center with elevated temperatures shown as bright orange/yellow. There is a light area next to the vent that may be a gas plume. False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

There was an increase in thermal energy detected by the MIROVA system in mid-March and there was a MODVOLC thermal alert on the 15th. Occasional small explosions occurred but no larger explosive events were recorded. A white plume was noted on the 27th rising to 900 m above the crater and an event at 1048 on the 30th produced a light-gray plume that rose to 800 m. Incandescence was only observed using a sensitive camera at night (figure 38).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Incandescence from the Suwanosejima Otake crater reflecting in clouds above the volcano. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity of Suwanosejima March 2019).

No explosive events were observed through April. A white gas-and-steam plume rose to 1,200 m above the crater on the 19th and incandescence continued intermittently. Minor explosions were recorded on 5, 30, and 31 May, but no larger explosive events were observed during the month. The event on the 30th produced ash plume that reached 1.1 km above the crater. Similar activity continued through June with one explosive event occurring on the 2nd. Overall, there was a reduction in the number of ash plumes erupted during this period compared to previous months (figure 39).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Observed activity at Suwanosejima for the year ending in July 2019. The black vertical bars represent steam, gas, or ash plume heights (scale in meters on the left axis), yellow diamonds represent incandescence observed in webcams, gray volcano symbols along the top are explosions accompanied by ash plumes, red volcano symbols represent large explosions with ash plumes. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity of Suwanosejima June 2019).

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); 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).


Great Sitkin (United States) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Great Sitkin

United States

52.076°N, 176.13°W; summit elev. 1740 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small steam explosions in early June 2019

The Great Sitkin volcano is located about 40 km NE of Adak Island in the Aleutian Islands and has had a few short-lived eruptions over the past 100 years. Prior to the latest activity in early June 2019 described below, small phreatic explosions occurred in June and August 2018 (BGVN 43:09). An eruption in 1974 produced a lava dome in the center of the crater. The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) is the primary source of information for this September 2018-June 2019 reporting period.

Low-level unrest occurred from September 2018 through February 2019 with slightly elevated seismic activity (figure 6). Small explosions were seismically detected by AVO on 30 October, 5 and 16 November, and 11 December 2018, but they were not seen in regional infrasound data and satellite data did not show an ash cloud.

On 1, 7, and 9 June 2019, AVO reported small steam explosions as well as slightly elevated seismic activity. Steam plumes and surficial evidence of an explosion were not observed during these events. On 18 June 2019 weakly elevated surface temperatures were recorded, field crews working on Adak observed some steam emissions, and a gas flight was conducted. Elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide detected above the lava dome were likely associated with the steam explosions earlier in the month (figures 7 and 8). From 23 June through the end of the month seismicity began to decline back to background levels.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. A steam plume was seen at the summit of Great Sitkin on 7 December 2018. Photo by Andy Lewis and Bob Boyd; courtesy of AVO/USGS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Some degassing was observed on the southern flank of the Great Sitkin during an overflight on 18 June 2019. Photo by Laura Clor; image courtesy of AVO/USGS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. View of Great Sitkin with white plumes rising from the summit on 20 June 2019. Photo by Laura Clor, courtesy of AVO/USGS.

Geologic Background. The Great Sitkin volcano forms much of the northern side of Great Sitkin Island. A younger parasitic volcano capped by a small, 0.8 x 1.2 km ice-filled summit caldera was constructed within a large late-Pleistocene or early Holocene scarp formed by massive edifice failure that truncated an ancestral volcano and produced a submarine debris avalanche. Deposits from this and an older debris avalanche from a source to the south cover a broad area of the ocean floor north of the volcano. The summit lies along the eastern rim of the younger collapse scarp. Deposits from an earlier caldera-forming eruption of unknown age cover the flanks of the island to a depth up to 6 m. The small younger caldera was partially filled by lava domes emplaced in 1945 and 1974, and five small older flank lava domes, two of which lie on the coastline, were constructed along northwest- and NNW-trending lines. Hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles occur near the head of Big Fox Creek, south of the volcano. Historical eruptions have been recorded since the late-19th century.

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


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).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 22, Number 07 (July 1997)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Concepcion (Nicaragua)

Four small fumaroles active on 30 May

Don Joao de Castro Bank (Portugal)

Magnitude 5.5 earthquake and associated seismic swarm

Etna (Italy)

Continued activity from three craters through mid-July; crater descriptions

Karangetang (Indonesia)

Three people killed by a pyroclastic flow in June

Kilauea (United States)

Fountaining from Pu`u `O`o vents; lava flows reach ocean again

Krakatau (Indonesia)

Activity increases in May

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Anomalous tilt precedes relatively forceful ash emissions

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Ash clouds rise 5 km during July

Masaya (Nicaragua)

Minor morphologic changes and fluctuating incandescence in May

Momotombo (Nicaragua)

June fumarole temperatures

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

Largest ash emission of the 1994-97 eruption on 30 June

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Increased Strombolian eruptions on 11-12 July

Sabancaya (Peru)

Quiet on 19 July; ash-bearing plumes on 1-2 May

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Activity increased to high levels on 31 July

Vulcano (Italy)

Fumarolic emissions during April from Fossa Grande

White Island (New Zealand)

Surveys on 11 March and 6 May confirm that the deflation trend continues



Concepcion (Nicaragua) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

Concepcion

Nicaragua

11.538°N, 85.622°W; summit elev. 1700 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Four small fumaroles active on 30 May

Open University researchers reported that "On 30 May, four small fumaroles 50 m N of the crater rim were active."

Geologic Background. Volcán Concepción is one of Nicaragua's highest and most active volcanoes. The symmetrical basaltic-to-dacitic stratovolcano forms the NW half of the dumbbell-shaped island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua and is connected to neighboring Madera volcano by a narrow isthmus. A steep-walled summit crater is 250 m deep and has a higher western rim. N-S-trending fractures on the flanks have produced chains of spatter cones, cinder cones, lava domes, and maars located on the NW, NE, SE, and southern sides extending in some cases down to Lake Nicaragua. Concepción was constructed above a basement of lake sediments, and the modern cone grew above a largely buried caldera, a small remnant of which forms a break in slope about halfway up the N flank. Frequent explosive eruptions during the past half century have increased the height of the summit significantly above that shown on current topographic maps and have kept the upper part of the volcano unvegetated.

Information Contacts: Benjamin van Wyk de Vries, Department of Earth Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, United Kingdom (URL: http://www.open.ac.uk/science/environment-earth-ecosystems/).


Don Joao de Castro Bank (Portugal) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

Don Joao de Castro Bank

Portugal

38.23°N, 26.63°W; summit elev. -13 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Magnitude 5.5 earthquake and associated seismic swarm

On 27 June 1997 at 0439 a strong earthquake struck the Azores Archipelago. This main shock reached M 5.5 and was felt with maximum intensity of V on the Modified Mercalli Scale at Terceira and São Miguel islands; in the islands of São Jorge, Pico, and Faial, the respective maximum intensities were III/IV, III/IV, and II/III.

The epicenter was in the vicinity of Don João de Castro bank (figure 2), a submarine volcanic structure. An earthquake swarm began the same day. During one month about 2,000 such events were registered at a reference seismic station on São Miguel island. Approximately 45 earthquakes with M >4 were registered at Terceira island. By 12 September about 2,100 earthquakes had occurred but by then the swarm had declined to 1 or 2 small events a day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Epicenters during part of the seismic swarm at the Don João de Castro bank (Azores Archipelago), 27 June to 2 August 1997. Provided by SIVISA; courtesy of J.L. Gaspar.

In 1720 AD the Don João de Castro Bank produced an eruption with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 3. After four days an ephemeral, 1-km-long island was created. The area was charted in 1941. Seismic swarms in this general region were also noted in 1988 and 1989 (SEAN 13:10 and 14:03).

Geologic Background. Don Joao de Castro Bank is a large submarine volcano that rises to within 13 m of the sea surface roughly halfway between Terceira and San Miguel Islands. Pillow lavas form the base of the volcano, which is capped by basaltic hyaloclastites. A submarine eruption during December 1720 produced an ephemeral island that attained a length of 1.5 km and an altitude of about 250 m before it was eroded beneath the sea surface two years later. The volcano (also spelled Dom Joao de Castro) was named after the Portuguese hydrographic survey vessel that surveyed the bank in 1941. Two youthful parasitic craters, one tephra covered and the other sediment free, are located on the NW flank. The submarine volcano has an impressive shallow fumarole field and remains seismically active.

Information Contacts: Azores Seismological Surveillance System (SIVISA), coordinated by a)J.L. Gaspar, Azores University Centre of Volcanology, 9500 - Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal and b)Luísa Senos, Meteorological Institute, 9500 Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal.


Etna (Italy) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued activity from three craters through mid-July; crater descriptions

The following summarizes observations, organized by crater (figure 67), made by Boris Behncke of the activity and morphology of Etna's summit craters during visits on 14 June, 11 July, and 16 July 1997. Additional observations of activity through 18 July are reported.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. Sketch map of Etna's summit craters as of July 1997. Locations of eruptive vents and recent lava flows are indicated. Courtesy of Boris Behncke.

Voragine. This crater was degassing from a central pit during visits in October 1995 and September 1996. Lava effusion from nearby Northeast Crater into Voragine in July-August 1996 did not fill the pit. However, during 14 June the pit was obstructed, with only wisps of steam escaping from its E rim. The 1996 lava flows from Northeast Crater had been almost completely removed by collapse. On 13 July the crater reopened. Mountain guides reported ejections of ash and possibly fresh scoria.

Northeast Crater. After the activity of late 1995 to late 1996, Northeast Crater became Etna's highest summit, surpassing the remains of a 1964 cone on the SE rim of Bocca Nuova. The 1995-96 activity and subsequent collapse completely altered the crater, which had a deep pit with vertical walls in early October 1995. The SW part of the crater contained a cluster of small cones and partially overlapping craters; none were active on 14 June. The N part of the crater was occupied by a lava platform which filled the crater in June-July 1996. The W edge of this platform was made of large tilted slabs. A lower platform covered by a lava flow from the cone cluster partially encircled a deep ~100-m-wide pit that was the site of Strombolian activity. Loud roaring from the pit on 14 June preceded emissions of dense yellowish ash-bearing gas plumes at intervals of 1-2 minutes. Activity on 11 July (when viewed from Bocca Nuova) appeared similar; there were no incandescent ejections after sunset.

Bocca Nuova. Since the resumption of magmatic activity in July 1995, two principal eruptive centers have been active in the ~150-m-deep pit: one vent at the base of the SE crater wall, and a group of vents in the NW sector of the crater. The former only emitted gas during the past two years; the latter exhibited periodic Strombolian activity and lava effusion. On 14 June the SE vent had Strombolian explosions every 10-15 minutes, with fragments rising 50-70 m; on 11 July explosions reached the crater rim (>100 m above the vent) and fresh bombs were found to the SE outside of the crater. The NW vent cluster consisted of three boccas aligned NW-SE on 14 June that generated nearly continuous small Strombolian bursts and lava emission from an area to their E. At times the northern vent filled with bubbling lava. On 11 July three vents were aligned E-W; lava effusion occurred from vents to their E or SE.

During a visit on 16 July, a large spatter cone with a crater 20-30 m wide had formed in the NW area of activity, where there had been three small vents only five days earlier. The crater of this new cone was filled with vigorously boiling and spattering lava. Explosions from the SE eruptive vent occurred about every 3-5 minutes, at times ejecting bombs high above the SE rim (~150 m above the vent). Similar activity continued through 18 July.

Southeast Crater (SEC). On 14 June noises characteristic of Strombolian activity were heard ~2 km S of the crater, but no ejections rose above the crater rim. Daily observations from Catania (~30 km S of the summit) began on 7 July, coinciding with a slight intensification of activity from SEC. At night, nearly continuous Strombolian bursts were visible. During the following evenings activity appeared more discontinuous, with periods of activity up to 20 minutes separated by up to several hours. A visit to the crater on the evening of 11 July found that a cinder cone in the N part of SEC had almost risen as high as the crater rim. Strombolian activity, in cycles lasting ~15-20 minutes separated by intervals up to 20 minutes, sent bursts as high as 150 m above the vent. An incandescent lava flow from a vent ~20 m below the cone's summit moved down the S flank of the cone, extending ~200 m to the S base of the inner wall of SEC. Slightly older flows around the active lobe still had incandescent spots. Despite the episodic explosive activity, effusive activity appeared reasonably constant. Night observations from Catania during the following days disclosed continuing explosive activity from SEC.

The floor of Southeast Crater, gradually being filled by a growing cone and lava flows, had risen to within <10 m of a low point on the SE crater rim by 16 July. As of 18 July the cone in SEC's N half was as high as the crater rim (~50-70 m above the lowest part of the crater floor). Lava flows issued more or less continuously from boccas on the upper S and SE flanks of the cone, forming a complex lava field to the S, SE, and E. At night, explosive activity from the cone's summit is visible from Catania.

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: Boris Behncke, Istituto di Geologia e Geofisica, Palazzo delle Scienze, Corso Italia 55, 95129 Catania, Italy.


Karangetang (Indonesia) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Three people killed by a pyroclastic flow in June

On 17 April the Bureau of Meteorology in Darwin received a report from the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia of an ongoing eruption at Karangetang; however, the plume height could not be observed because of cloud cover, and no plume was seen in later satellite imagery. The Societe de Volcanologie de Geneve (SVG) reported that explosions and pyroclastic flows in June required the evacuation of 400 people from a village. They further reported that this eruptive episode claimed the lives of three people. The last reported activity consisted of daily ash explosions during October 1996.

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

Information Contacts: Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, P.O. Box 735, Darwin NT, Australia; Societe de Volcanologie Geneve (SVG), B.P. 298, CH-1225, Chenebourg, Switzerland.


Kilauea (United States) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fountaining from Pu`u `O`o vents; lava flows reach ocean again

Eruptive activity continued at the Pu`u `O`o Crater from mid-May through mid-August 1997. The 55th episode of Kilauea's 14.5-year-long East rift zone eruption began on 24 February 1997 after a 24-day hiatus in activity. This hiatus followed a brief fissure eruption at Napau Crater in late January 1997. The last long hiatus was in mid-1986, when volcanism switched from episodic 300- to 500-m-high fire fountains to continuous effusion. Episode 55 has seen shifting vent locations on the flanks of the Pu`u `O`o cone and a build-up of the lava shield. The lava pond within the Pu`u `O`o crater has intermittently risen to produce flows on its E and W margins. Surface activity was limited in the early days of Episode 55, occurring only deep within the Pu`u `O`o crater. On 28 March the lava level in the Pu`u `O`o crater rose and moved through lava tubes that fed small cones just S of the cone (BGVN 22:04). Eruptive activity in recent months has been focused at a spatter cone in Pu`u `O`o and vents on the S exterior flank of the crater.

Eruptive pauses during May. From mid-April through 9 May most of the lava erupted on the S and SW flanks of the Pu`u `O`o cone ponded near its base. These ponded flows were responsible for most of the glow seen at night and frequently fed channeled aa flows S and SE. The longer flows advanced as far as 2.6 km. Lava issued from two areas on the SW flank of the cone, both of which were topped by spatter cones 10-12 m high. A pit crater below one of these spatter cones intermittently filled with lava and overflowed.

Beginning on 10 May and continuing through the 15th there were eruptive pauses for periods of up to 10 hours. A small new vent became active on 12 May (figure 110) midway between the "55 Spatter Cone" (a vent that became active on 28 March; BGVN 22:03) and the "Uplift" vent (a vent that became active on 17 April; BGVN 22:04). Following a 15-hour pause on 23 May, activity resumed with fountaining from the 55 Spatter Cone, followed by brief periods of quiescence. Multiple flows from two active vents on the S flank of the Pu`u `O`o cone fed aa flows that traveled 1.5 km (figure 111). Occasional fountains up to 15 m high were observed from the flank vents. Activity within Pu`u `O`o raised the floor of the crater to within 10 m of the lowest section of the rim.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. Sketch map showing four new vents in the Pu`u `O`o crater area of Kilauea, 28 March-12 May 1997. Courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. Map of recent lava flows from Kilauea's east rift zone, 23 May 1997. Contours are in meters and the contour interval is approximately 150 m. Courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Activity during June and early July. On 2 June several earthquakes (up to M 3.5) were felt in the Namakani Paio campground area of the National Park. In the first four hours of the swarm 60 earthquakes were located. Early in the first week of June vents on the SW flank of Pu`u `O`o fed flows that traveled up to 1.5 km SE from the cone. As activity from the SW flank vents waned, a W-flank vent restarted early on 4 June and fed a flow moving NW that burned trees in the national park. Occasional fountains up to 40 m high were observed from the W vent.

During 6-13 June the lava flow field expanded N and E of the shield for the first time since 1992. The Pu`u `O`o crater floor, with no active lava pond, was repeatedly resurfaced by pahoehoe flows from a vent near the collapsed W wall. This vent built a 30-m-high by 40-m-wide spatter cone on the crater floor ("Crater Cone"). The crater floor itself rose to within 4 m of the W rim. Intermittent spatter fountains from the flank vents commonly reached heights up to 50 m. As of 13 June lava flows from the flank vents had spread over the shield, forming perched lava ponds that spilled over to feed channeled aa flows that extended 4 km from the vent.

At 0100 on 16 June spattering intensified within the Pu`u `O`o crater. By 1430, the crater overflowed through the gap in the W wall of the cone formed by the collapse of 30 January 1997, sending a large open-channel pahoehoe flow N. This activity lasted for 1.5 hours, followed by a few hours of repose and a few more hours of eruption. For the first time since July 1986, lava flows spilled out of Pu`u `O`o crater. On 17-18 June the 10th pause of episode 55 occurred. During 18-28 June flows were confined to the general vicinity of the Pu`u `O`o vent, helping to build up the lava shield an additional 35 m. Such a rapid buildup has not been seen since 1992. Spectacular episodic fountaining resumed from a few of the spatter cones ringing the southern outside edge of the Pu`u `O`o cone.

The 55 Spatter Cone was the least active of the three vents during 17-30 June, but on the nights of 18 and 20 June lava fountains over 50-m high played above the cone for several hours. Perched lava ponds on the S side of the Pu`u `O`o cone, assumed to be fed by a tube from the 12 May vent, produced long flows to the S and SW over the episode 50-53 flow field. Near the flow field's W edge, flows descended to 685 and 700 m on 28 and 30 June, respectively.

An earthquake on 30 June shook the entire Island of Hawaii at about 0547. The earthquake had an estimated magnitude of 5.3-5.5 and took place within the S flank of Kilauea, ~10 km SSE of Pu`u `O`o, at a depth of ~7 km. The earthquake was felt throughout the island, but minor damage was reported only in the SE part of the island. The earthquake was located in the same area as the much larger M 7.1 Kalapana earthquake of 29 November 1975. The earthquake caused no observable change in the eruption.

Eruptive activity continued through the end of June and early July with intermittent action from three areas. Crater Cone continued to produce flows which episodically resurfaced the crater floor. Fountains from the W flank vent intermittently sent flows S, W, and N for distances of <1 km. Other small channeled lava flows from a perched lava pond on the S side of Pu`u `O`o extended <1.5 km S.

During 3-11 July the level of the lava pond in the eastern part of the Pu`u `O`o crater fluctuated with activity from Crater Cone. Lava flowed over the W rim for brief periods on 7 and 11 July. The discontinuous character of these outflows could be traced to both the sporadic output of lava and to draining through unseen conduits in the crater floor. On 3 July, a flow from the South Shield vent (~300 m S of Pu`u `O`o) stopped at 613 m elevation near the top of the Pulama pali escarpment. This was overtaken by an aa flow slightly to its W that quickly advanced down the pali, reaching 183 m elevation by 7 July.

During 17 June-14 July, eruption tremor amplitudes fluctuated between background and up to 5x background. There were moderate numbers of shallow, long-period microearthquakes; however, more than 200 appeared on 25 June. Intermediate long-period earthquakes were moderate to low in number. Earthquake counts along the upper E rift zone were low to high during late June and low during early July. More than 170 events were counted on 25 June.

Lava reaches the coastal plain on 10 July. On 10 July a lava flow was nearing the extreme SW end of Royal Gardens subdivision. This was the first flow over Pulama pali onto the coastal flat since last January. By the morning of 10 July the narrow flow had reached just beyond the National Park. When the flows reached the base of the pali they burned and covered the Akia coastal forest. On 11 July, the flow continued across the flats.

Renewed entry of lava into the ocean began on the night of 12 July for the first time since January 1997. The flow, fed from a perched lava pond on the S side of Pu`u `O`o, followed the eastern margin of the episode-53 flow field and entered the ocean near Kamokuna (figure 112). When lava reached the ocean it was less than 460 m W of Waha`ula Heiau, a 700-year-old rock-walled Hawaiian temple; lava last flowed up to and around this structure in December 1990. The flow front on 12 July was 300-500 m wide with many small lava rivulets entering the sea and contributing to a large steam plume; an unstable delta was constructed 30-40 m beyond the old coastline. The lava bench grew to 300-m long and 50-60 m wide by 14 July. The flow into the sea nearly stopped on 17 July because of blockages in the tube system that caused lava tube breakouts onto the surface. As of 18 July there were numerous surface flows and an active ocean entry.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. Map of recent lava flows from Kilauea's east rift zone, 17 August 1997. Contours are in meters and the contour interval is approximately 150 m. Courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Beginning about 18 July another flow from South Shield followed a more easterly course toward the upper edge of the Royal Gardens subdivision. On 28 July the flow was burning into the forest edge 1.6 km above the subdivision. South Shield shut down early on 29 July, allowing the tubes to drain, but it resumed erupting that night. By the morning of the 30th lava had reoccupied the upper reaches of the tube; within two days the tube was reoccupied down to the coastal plain. Breakouts on 30 July formed channeled aa flows on the upper slopes of Pulama pali, sending new flows along the course of the earlier July flows.

Ocean entry of lava continued through 28 July. During 19-28 July surface flow activity on the coastal lava bench was extremely limited, with most flows occurring in lava tubes that broke out at the coast. At Pu`u `O`o the lava shield surrounding the main cone and a few of the spatter cones ringing its S side continued to expand. A fern glen was burned and partially covered by lava from the advancing flows. On 29 July the flow feeding the ocean entry ceased when its lava tube clogged. Soon thereafter, a new flow began moving downslope away from the vent.

South Shield has been the prolific producer of flows, including all large flows in July and early August. From 12-29 July a tube-fed flow from this vent entered the ocean at East Kamokuna and built a 60-m-wide lava bench ~350 m along the shoreline. The ocean entry was marked by a large steam plume and mild explosions that hurled spatter onshore, building two small littoral cones.

Activity continued during the last week of July with cyclic filling and lowering of the Pu`u `O`o lava pond. During the morning of 29 July, lava flowed over the E and W rims of the crater and down the sides of the cone for several hours. A blockage in the tube system caused the supply of lava entering the ocean to diminish. Lava stopped entering the ocean shortly after noon on 29 July. A new aa flow from a breakout above the blockage was several hundred meters W of the old flow, and the terminus of the new flow was 400 m from the ocean.

During the pause at the coast activity at Pu`u `O`o was continuous. Peter Mouginis-Mark and colleagues observed from the air a spectacular lava overflow from the pond occupying the E crater floor on 6 August that sent rapidly moving flows out of the SE side of the cone. The flows formed a lobate sheet that extended ~1.5 km. None of these flows were active for more than three hours. Lava began flowing into the sea again at the East Kamokuna entry on 4 August. A lobe from this flow branched at the foot of Pulama pali and advanced to within 800 m of Waha`ula Heiau, located 450 m E of the East Kamokuna entry. Vigorous activity within Pu`u `O`o lit the skies on the night of 7 August with moderate fountaining.

Lava covers Waha`ula Heiau in mid-August. On 8 August, lava buried a 300-m section of jeep road that provided access to the Royal Gardens subdivision. That lobe progressed seaward, slowly encroaching upon Waha`ula Heiau. On 11 August at 0124, lava began to overrun the heiau; flows were moving across the floor of the temple by 0300. By 0730 lava had covered most of the structures. It had been one of the few remaining major archaeological resources left in the Kalapana coastal section of the Park. The Waha`ula complex contained structures that tradition associated with the 13th-century high priest Pa`ao. A more recent structure in the complex was used by Kamehameha I and remained in use until 1819. Over the past 13 years thousands of significant archaeological features have been covered by lava flows from the Pu`u `O`o eruption.

Another Pu`u `O`o crater overflow event occurred on 12 August. Until at least 17 August lava continued to enter the sea at the Waha`ula entry and also ~900 m farther W, near Kamokuna. The lava built low benches and generated steam plumes. Activity continued at Pu`u `O`o through mid-August with cyclic filling and lowering of the lava pond. Sporadic fountaining was observed from the Crater Cone and the 55 spatter cone vents.

Kilauea is one of five coalescing volcanoes that comprise the island of Hawaii. Historically its eruptions originate primarily from the summit caldera or along one of the lengthy E and SW rift zones that extend from the summit caldera to the sea. This latest Kilauea eruption began in January 1983 along the E rift zone. The eruption's early phases, or episodes, occurred along a portion of the rift zone that extends from Napau Crater on the uprift (towards the summit) end to ~8 km E on the downrift (towards the sea) end. Activity eventually centered on what was later named Pu`u `O`o. Between January 1983 and December 1996, erupted lava totaled ~1.45 km3.

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 Volcanoes National Park, HI 96718, USA (URL: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/); Ken Rubin, Mike Garcia, and Peter Mouginis-Mark, Hawaii Center for Volcanology, University of Hawaii, Dept. of Geology & Geophysics, 2525 Correa Rd., Honolulu, HI 96822 USA (URL: http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/GG/hcv.html); Jim Martin, Superintendent, P.O. Box 52, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI 96718-0052 (URL: http://www.nps.gov/havo/).


Krakatau (Indonesia) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

6.102°S, 105.423°E; summit elev. 813 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Activity increases in May

The following describes the volcanism during March-May based on reports by the NOAA Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), a team of the Société Volcanologique Européenne (SVE), and Mike Lyvers. Lyvers noted that the Indonesian government's 5-km exclusion zone around the island has not deterred local boat operators from anchoring offshore or even landing tourists on Anak Krakatau.

SAB reported that on 6 March at 0442 an unidentified aviator saw a significant eruption with ash reaching an altitude of ~7 km. This cloud, however, was not seen in GMS satellite imagery.

Members of the SVE visited the island twice in April. They learned that during March at Carita, a beach resort on the W coast of Java 40 km from the volcano, there were ashfalls and explosions from the volcano were heard. During April, emissions became less prominent and more irregular. During their first visit on 9-10 April they did not observe any plumes. After landing they ascended to the first crest line where the group encountered several bread-crust bombs and their substantial impact craters. As they were ascending the cone of the volcano the visitors felt the heated ground through their hiking boots. There were fumaroles on both the flank and the summit. The crater, 150-200 m in diameter, was breached to the W; the crater floor was occupied by large blocks, and it was possible to distinguish two vents aligned on a fissure trending SE-NW.

The group returned on 17-18 April, after another eruptive episode. This time they observed enormous new blocks at the summit. The S vent continuously emitted white steam; the N vent sporadically discharged brown-black ash that rose up to 500 m above the vent. The SVE team watched from a spot in front of the cone, ~400 m from the summit, when at 1820 the S vent exploded generating an ash plume and throwing incandescent projectiles ~200 m above the crater. One projectile landed very close to the observation point. The next morning, ash on the tents suggested that the volcano had another explosion. The group witnessed another eruption as they were leaving the island by boat at 1000.

SVE members learned that after spending 21-22 April on the island, Guy de St. Cyr (a French tourist-guide) saw plumes accompanied by projectiles. He described the ash as an unusual pink color. During the night, incandescent explosions were took place about every 30 minutes; several incandescent blocks fell over the dome's N side. The next morning, during a boat tour around the island, some blue smoke rose from mid-way up the W-SW flanks of the dome, conceivably a sign of minor lava flows.

During the afternoon and evening of 17 May, Mike Lyvers visited the island by boat. The previous few days, when observed from Carita Beach, the volcano had been quiet. In contrast, on 17 May it erupted almost continuously, issuing minor amounts of ash and sometimes a few bombs. Occasionally, larger explosions sent incandescent ash high into the sky, generating a spectacular display of volcanic lightning and covering the cone with glowing bombs. The volcano seemed to show no obvious pattern to its activity, with random fluctuations in the intensity of eruption.

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

Information Contacts: NOAA/NESDIS Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Spring, MD 20746, USA; Société Volcanologique Européenne, C.P. 1, 1211 Genève 17, Switzerland (URL: http://www.sveurop.org/); Mike Lyvers, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bond University Gold Coast, Qld. 4229 Australia.


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — July 1997 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)


Anomalous tilt precedes relatively forceful ash emissions

Although Crater 3 remained quiet and seismographs remained inoperative during July, moderate Vulcanian explosions continued at Crater 2. Throughout the month, Crater 2 produced gray ash clouds rising ~2 km above the summit. Fine ash fell on the N and NW parts of the volcano. On the night of 2 July observers saw incandescent lava projections; during 4-9 July there were weak explosions and roaring noises. Large explosions on 29 July produced dark gray ash clouds that rose ~5 km before drifting NW. Previously, on 22 March, aviators noted Langila ash clouds to 3-km altitude.

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

Information Contacts: B. Talai and H. Patia, RVO.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

Manam

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash clouds rise 5 km during July

Aviation reports on 22 March reported Manam's ash plumes rising up to altitudes of 1.7 and 3 km. The plumes drifted S-SE and scattered. Another report described an ash cloud to 3 km on 8 August.

A brief episode of relatively forceful ash emissions occurred at Southern Crater in mid-July. During late June through mid-July, Southern Crater occasionally emitted small-to-moderate ash clouds that rose several hundred meters above the summit. These ash clouds blew NW, resulting in light, fine ashfall.

Water-tube tiltmeters at Manam Volcano Observatory (4 km SW of the summit) underwent 2 µrad of inflation after 1 July, a change as strong as seen during the November-December 1996 eruption. On 11-13 July more robust ash clouds were ejected to 600-1,000 m above the summit resulting in light ashfall downwind. Continuous and forceful ash emissions occurred on 14 July, producing ash clouds that rose over 2 km. Around this time rumbling and roaring noises were also heard. Ash again fell on the NW side of the island. On 15-18 July, ash emissions became weak to moderate; during the rest of July, emissions remained gentle, vapor-rich and weak-to- moderate.

Weak discharges of incandescent lava fragments were only seen on the 11th. Weak night time glows were visible on 11-14 July, 17-18 July, and 25-31 July. Weak steady night glow was visible on 16, 18, and 29 July.

Seismic activity was moderate throughout July. Numbers of low frequency events ranged from 1,000-1,400 per day. Seismic amplitudes gradually increased reaching a peak on the 12th (2 days prior to the month's strongest eruptive phase); thereafter, the amplitudes declined through the month's end.

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

Information Contacts: B. Talai and H. Patia, RVO.


Masaya (Nicaragua) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Minor morphologic changes and fluctuating incandescence in May

"On 25 May, observers saw that the small active vent had grown by 30 m and had ceased to be incandescent. Large volumes of gas were still escaping and forming plumes that blew to the W. Masaya park guards reported a resumption of incandescence on 3 June. During the previous day, there was little wind and high humidity, conditions which allowed the gas to produce a sustained vertical column above the crater."

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

Information Contacts: Benjamin van Wyk de Vries, Department of Earth Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, United Kingdom (URL: http://www.open.ac.uk/science/environment-earth-ecosystems/).


Momotombo (Nicaragua) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

Momotombo

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


June fumarole temperatures

Open University researchers provided the following report. "On 3 June we took gas samples from fumarole numbers 14, 9, and 7 (figure 6). There were many areas with fresh bright yellow sulfur flows, suggesting that temperatures had risen over the last few months thus causing the sulfur to melt. Near fumarole number 6 there were small (centimeter-wide) accumulations of clear, golden molten sulfur. After putting a gas condenser over fumarole number 9 the adjacent fumarolic area began to fracture and molten sulfur began to emerge from fissures there."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Sketch of the summit area of Momotombo showing fumarole temperatures on 3 June 1997. Numbers in parenthesis are "fumarole numbers;" areas of fumarolic activity are gray. View is towards the S; the crater is ~150 m wide. Courtesy of Alain Creusot and Benjamin van Wyk de Vries.

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

Information Contacts: Benjamin van Wyk de Vries, Department of Earth Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, United Kingdom (URL: http://www.open.ac.uk/science/environment-earth-ecosystems/).


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Largest ash emission of the 1994-97 eruption on 30 June

The following includes summaries of reports from a) the Institute of Geophysics at the University of México (UNAM), b) the Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Disastres (CENAPRED), c) the NOAA Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), and d) the United Nations Department of Human Affairs (DHA). This report covers the period from 2 May to 25 August. The most forceful emission in the 1994-97 episode took place on 30 June; ashfall shut down the Mexico City airport stranding passengers and spurring numerous press reports.

A series of non-technical reports during 2 May to 25 June (table 6) described isolated explosions and occasional A-type seismic events in a pattern that has characterized Popocatépetl's behavior since September 1996. A cross section shows the location of the volcano-tectonic earthquakes that occurred during 29 April-29 July; a table lists their locations during August.

Table 6. Summary of non-technical reports describing activity at Popocatépetl, 2 May-25 June 1997. The alert status remained moderate (yellow) during this interval. Courtesy of Roberto Quaas, CENAPRED-UNAM.

Report Date Comment
02 May 1997 The level of activity remained low, with sporadic low-intensity emissions and white plume.
05 May 1997 At 0839 there was a moderate emission of ash that generated a column ~2 km high drifting to the W. Ashfall was reported in the towns of Tepetlixa and Ozumba.
07 May 1997 On 6 May a major ash emission occurred at 2039 and lasted 20 minutes. The cloud drifted toward E and NE causing ash and coarser tephra to fall in Cholula and some areas in Puebla and Veracruz.
14 May 1997 On 13 May at 2230 a moderate emission included incandescent fragments that fell near the crater. Ashfall started afterwards on the towns of San Pedro Benito Juarez, San Nicholas de los Ranchos, Calpan, and Santiago Xlizintla, where weak earthquakes were also felt.
24 May 1997 After several days of relative quiet a high frequency tremor was recorded at 0927. In the meantime ash was emitted up to 200 m above the crater. The plume drifted to the ENE causing minor ashfall in the towns of Calpan, Xalitzintla, San Nicolas de los Ranchos and Nealtican.
11 Jun 1997 At 1014 a 15-minute-long tremor accompanied a major ash emission that reached an altitude of 4 km (see figure 19). The column blew towards the WSW.
18 Jun 1997 Activity was again at low levels. When inspected by helicopter, the summit glacier appeared normal.
25 Jun 1997 The activity was at stable, low levels, with minor emissions and an almost constant presence of a low steam plume on the summit.

Activity during 2 May to 25 August 1997. Large ash emissions occurred on 11, 14, 15, 24, and 27 May and noteworthy or large emissions occurred on 3, 11, 14, 19, 21, and 30 June. On 28 May satellite imagery showed an ash cloud moving rapidly SE as it approached the Yucatan peninsula.

On 11 June ash streamed S of the volcano at 28 km/h. The cloud measured 50 km long and 33 km across (figure 19). The following day ash was reported at an altitude of 6-8 km; thicker ash closer to the volcano moved S at ~50 km/hour while an area of very diffuse ash headed SW. The 14 June eruption was visible from both Mexico City and Puebla; satellite imagery showed the plume heading WSW at ~40 km/hour. The plume later separated: a thicker L-shaped area fanned NW to W at 30 km/h at an altitude of ~10 km, and a faint area of thinning ash moved W at ~64 km/hour ahead of a thick-ash area at 7-km altitude. Reports of sand-sized ashfall came from Nepantla, Amecameca, and other towns as far as Cuautla. On the Puebla side of the volcano several towns reported mudflows associated with heavy rains and minor melting.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Popocatépetl ash column; photo taken from the NW (above Paso de Cortes) at 1032 on 11 June 1997. See table 6 for a brief description of the ash emission. Courtesy of CENAPRED.

On 12 June Tom Casadevall noted that he had learned from an engine manufacturer that ". . . all three major Mexican airlines (Mexicana, Aeromexico, and TAESA) have reported windshield damage that they attribute to volcanic ash. Also, Aeromexico reported heavier than normal blade erosion on one MD80 engine that it attributes to ingestion of volcanic ash from Popocatépetl. Apparently the local atmosphere now contains an above average concentration of ash."

The 30 June ash emission was the largest recorded since the current eruptive episode initiated in 1994. Beginning at 1656 on 30 June there were seven volcano-tectonic earthquakes (M 2-2.7) in a 13-minute interval. At 1711 a large tremor signal marked the eruption's start. The first pulse lasted 135 minutes. The second one, beginning at 1926, lasted about 90 minutes. The latter eruption sent an ash plume 13 km above sea level within minutes. About 2-3 hours later, ash started falling over many towns around the volcano, including Mexico City.

In spite of the outbursts during this eruptive episode, estimated to a VEI of 2-3, no casualties or damage were reported; the volcanic alert code was raised to red but no evacuation was involved. The airport in Mexico City was closed for about 12 hours, until the ash was washed away from the runways. Pumice fragments as large as 10 cm fell sparsely on the N flank at Paso de Cortes and over a few kilometers along the road to Amecameca.

According to the real-time seismic amplitude measurement recordings (RSAM), the 30 June event alone released an estimated energy equivalent to one-tenth of the seismic energy release during an average year. The highest intensity phase lasted about 35 minutes and then declined.

During the two days following the eruption, some minor mudflows were reported at the town of Santiago Xalitzintla, about 12 km NE of the volcano. The flows coincided with heavy rain inundating a small area in the bottom of a ravine where a small house partially flooded. Inspection of the house, local fruit trees, and a small corn field in the area, showed that the flow was rather slow. After the major ash emission on 30 June, the volcano quieted. Steam emissions continued, at times accompanied by ash; these emissions were small except for a relatively large event on 2 July.

Helicopter observations on 3 and 4 July disclosed new features. There were several 1- to 2-km-long tongues radiating down the volcano's S and SE flanks. These tongues were interpreted as granular flows produced by partial collapse of the eruptive column. Inside the main crater on the 1996 lava dome there was a new crater enclosing a fresh ropy-lava body. As a preliminary interpretation, it seemed that in the first stages of the 30 June event the previous dome was partially destroyed by explosions, forming the initial crater. Then the crater was flooded with fresh magma that apparently underwent significant fragmentation, generating the moderately large ash emission and leaving a new lava body with a conical depression. In response to these events, a UNDP/DHA Resident Representative reported on 4 July that preparedness measures were undertaken. CENAPRED provided ongoing information to the villages on the outskirts of the volcano (total population, 102,000).

On 30 July, Mexico City's international airport reported continuous ash emissions to 8-km altitude. Satellite observations then were hampered by broken clouds.

After 30 July, activity decreased until 12 August, when a moderately large emission discharged ash 5 km above the crater. By another account the ash only rose 2 km. This emission lasted for more than two hours and produced SW-flank ashfall. After this event the color of the volcanic alert light remained yellow. During the afternoon another 3-minute emission sent an ash plume to 2.5 km above the summit.

Activity remained low until 25 August but included frequent low- to moderate-intensity gas-and-steam emissions, some with small amounts of ash. Around this time, the highest number of emissions per day was 41 on 21 August.

Low-frequency tremors of variable duration (between 2 and 40 minutes) occurred sporadically during this period. Figure 20 shows the hypocenters of the volcano-tectonic earthquakes located during March-July; table 7 lists those during August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Cross section of Popocatépetl made from a perspective of looking towards the N; it shows the hypocenters of the volcano-tectonic earthquakes located during March-July 1997. The numbers key to the day of occurrence (see box), the dot sizes are proportional to the magnitude (no scale given). Vertical exaggeration is 2:1. Courtesy of CENAPRED.

Table 7. Occurrence of local volcano-tectonic earthquakes at Popocatépetl during August 1997. Courtesy of CENAPRED.

Date Magnitude Location
13 Aug 1997 2.3 4.4 km under SE flank
14 Aug 1997 2.2 6.8 km under the summit
14 Aug 1997 2.5 5.3 km under the summit to the SE
17 Aug 1997 2.4 SE region
19 Aug 1997 2.1 7.3 km under the summit to the NE
19 Aug 1997 1.7 4.6 km under the summit to the E
20 Aug 1997 2.6 5.8 km under the summit
20 Aug 1997 2.2 5 km under the summit
20 Aug 1997 2.3 5.7 km under the summit

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: Roberto Meli, Roberto Quaas Weppen, Alejandro Mirano, Bertha López Najera, Alicia Martinez Bringas, A. Montalvo, G. Fregoso, and F. Galicia, Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED), Delfin Madrigal 665, Col. Pedregal de Santo Domingo, Coyoacan, 04360 México D.F., México (URL: https://www.gob.mx/cenapred/); J.L. Macias, Instituto de Geofisica, UNAM, Circuito Cientifico C.U. 04510 México D.F., México; NOAA/NESDIS Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA; Thomas J. Casadevall, Office of the Regional Director, U.S. Geological Survey, MS 150, 345 Middlefield Rd., Menlo Park, CA 94025 USA; M. Moulin-Acevedo UNDP/DHA, United Nations, Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

Rabaul

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased Strombolian eruptions on 11-12 July

A short eruption of ash and blocks occurred at Tavurvur during July. The build up prior to this eruption was similar to the two previous Strombolian phases (1 June and 12 April); those build ups were characterized by relatively low-pressure, low-ash emissions and occasional moderate-to-large explosions.

The eruption began on at 2318 on 11 July and peaked at about 0700 on 12 July with a corresponding RSAM value of 450 units. Activity then dropped and fluctuated between 90 and 240 RSAM units; later, at about 2230 on 12 July, a peak of 420 RSAM units occurred. After 0200 on 13 July activity declined to a background level of 30 RSAM units.

The more vigorous periods of eruption included explosions with gray ash clouds rising 2-3 km above the summit and ejected blocks thrown ~1 km from the vent. The ash plumes blew N and NE, and fine ash fell downwind. Later, during 14-31 July, Tavurvur issued continuous gentle emissions of thin white and blue vapor. No lava flow was emplaced during the 12 July eruption. As a result, the volume of material erupted was very small, ~0.3 x 106 m3.

Seventy-five low-frequency earthquakes (mostly explosion events) were recorded during the month. Most of these occurred during the eruption on 11-12 July with daily counts of 29 and 43, respectively.

The electronic tiltmeter at Matupit (2 km W of Tavurvur) accumulated 12 µrad of WNW-down tilt from the beginning of July until the eruption on the 12th (i.e. radial to an inflation of the shallow caldera magma reservoir). After the eruption, the tilting pattern changed to WSW (i.e. radial to a possible inflation between Rapindik and the north of Tavurvur). The eruption itself caused virtually no significant tilting. No clear trends were shown by any of the other tiltmeters further away from Tavurvur. These small ground deformations appear in accord with the eruption's short duration, low energy, and small volume.

After technical problems, COSPEC measurements resumed and during the first four days of measurements, 2- 5 July, the SO2 output was 660-1,380 metric tons/day (t/d). The SO2 flux then decreased during 5-10 July (~200 t/d), increasing again on 11 July (420 t/d). It remained high until the eruption on 12 July (~1,000 t/d) and continued so during the next three days. After that it decreased to ~600 t/d where it remained until the end of the month.

In overview, the observations and measured parameters all indicated that the 11-12 July eruption was small compared to the six Strombolian phases since December 1995.

Further Reference. Lauer, S.E., 1995, Pumice and ash: a personal account of the 1994 Rabaul volcanic eruptions, Quality Plus Printers Pty. Ltd., Ballina, Australia, 80 p. (ISBN 0 646 26511 3).

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

Information Contacts: B. Talai and H. Patia, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 385, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea; Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, P.O. Box 735, Darwin, NT 0801 Australia.


Sabancaya (Peru) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

Sabancaya

Peru

15.787°S, 71.857°W; summit elev. 5960 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Quiet on 19 July; ash-bearing plumes on 1-2 May

During a mid-[July] visit, Sabancaya displayed only fumarolic activity. Visiting scientists also examined the area well to Sabancaya's N along the Colca river. They determined that previous reports of destructive, seismically triggered mudslides in 1991 (BGVN 16:07) had been incorrect.

On 19 July scientists flew over Sabancaya and the two adjacent volcanoes Ampato and Hualca Hualca (figure 5) while taking slides and Super VHS images. Ice fields and snow cover were observed only on the summit regions of Ampato (6,288 m) and Hualca Hualca (6,025 m). Thus, the ice fields that existed on Sabancaya prior to the most recent eruption (29 May 1991, BGVN 15:05) had not returned.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Map of the region around Sabancaya showing adjacent stratovolcanoes and the Colca river. This segment of the Colca river flows westwards. Courtesy of M. Bulmer, F. Engle, and A. Johnston, CEPS.

As the photo (figure 6) reveals, Sabancaya's cone remains nearly symmetrical with slopes of 30-40 degrees. The cone is roughly 1 km in diameter and contains a central crater with a diameter of approximately 400 m. Slope failure occurred along a ~600-m-long arcuate scarp seen on the cone's NE flank. This could prove to be a zone of weakness in any future eruption. An active fumarole was located at the summit cone in a spot on the wall of the southern crater rim; it vented rapidly. Less active fumaroles were seen on the western crater wall and sulfur deposits occurred on the upper crater walls. When the cone was viewed from a distance of 1 km, observers saw significant atmospheric aberrations that implied gas emissions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Aerial photo of Sabancaya taken on 19 July 1997 looking W. The crater is approximately 400 m in diameter. The surface of the cone is mantled in young ash deposits (not snow). Courtesy of M. Bulmer, F. Engle, and A. Johnston, CEPS.

In the Colca Valley scientists saw extensive damage from the 23-24 July 1991 earthquake swarm including abandoned, damaged buildings, and slope failures; what they failed to find, however, was evidence that mudslides had ravaged local villages. This was important because BGVN 16:07 briefly described seismic damage from the earthquakes but also stated that they ". . . triggered mudslides that partly buried four villages." Based on this latest visit, this latter statement was clearly incorrect; it may have stemmed from the cited press accounts.

The scientists visited the villages of Maca, Achoma, Yanque, Lari, and Chivay. The earthquake damage was greatest in Maca, which lies in the Colca valley below the NNE flank of Hualca Hualca, a spot 15 km N of Sabancaya. Particularly in Maca, there was abundant evidence of seismically induced damage to structures. It should be noted that most buildings in the region had been constructed with walls made of loose stone without the benefit of concrete mortar or steel reinforcing.

On the NW side of Maca the group found evidence for a series of rotational and translational slides and slumps triggered by 2 m of throw along a normal fault. There was a series of well defined backscarps delineating different slope failures (figure 7) that extended ~1 km from the NW margin of Maca down to the Colca river. No houses were located on the failed surfaces; instead, this area had been terraced for agricultural use, but it was fallow when visited. The failure "complex" remained mobile and its toe was being undercut by the river. The village of Maca was being rebuilt gradually as people returned to the area. Some of the new housing includes concrete structures but most are made of adobe (clay and straw) brick with corrugated sheet-metal roofing.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Aerial photo of Sabancaya taken on 19 June 1997 looking SE; it shows slope failures located NW of the village of Maca. The Rio Colca is visible in the lower part of the image. Note the road running across the upper third of the photo (trending E-W); it had to be realigned near Maca. Maca's market square can be seen in the upper left side of photo. Courtesy of M. Bulmer, F. Engle, and A. Johnston, CEPS.

Prior to the visit, on 1 and 2 May, aviation reports described ash-bearing plumes. The plume on 1 May reportedly reached ~5.5-km altitude; the one on 2 May, ~7.3-km altitude.

Geologic Background. Sabancaya, located in the saddle NE of Ampato and SE of Hualca Hualca volcanoes, is the youngest of these volcanic centers and the only one to have erupted in historical time. The oldest of the three, Nevado Hualca Hualca, is of probable late-Pliocene to early Pleistocene age. The name Sabancaya (meaning "tongue of fire" in the Quechua language) first appeared in records in 1595 CE, suggesting activity prior to that date. Holocene activity has consisted of Plinian eruptions followed by emission of voluminous andesitic and dacitic lava flows, which form an extensive apron around the volcano on all sides but the south. Records of historical eruptions date back to 1750.

Information Contacts: M.H. Bulmer, F. Engle, and A. Johnston, Center for Earth and Planetary Studies (CEPS), National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560 USA; Guido Salas, Universidad de San Agustin, Casilla 1203, Arequipa, Perú; A. Seimon, Department of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0260 USA; NOAA/NESDIS Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA; Tom Fox, Air Navigation Bureau, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), 999 University St., Montreal H3C 5H7, Canada (URL: https://www.icao.int/safety/airnavigation/).


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — July 1997 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)


Activity increased to high levels on 31 July

The following condenses reports from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) for July 1997. Activity decreased during the month and the dome appeared to be growing at a lower rate than immediately after the energetic and destructive 25 June pyroclastic flow. Starting on 31 July, however, activity increased.

Visual observations. During 1-5 July several pyroclastic flows traveled down Mosquito, Gages, and Fort Ghauts, the largest ones reaching 3 km downstream. Many of these flows started with resounding explosions and ash columns that rose as high as 11 km at measured rates of 9-17 m/s. Plumes were visible from the Space Shuttle (figure 29).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Photograph of Montserrat showing a plume from Soufriere Hills volcano taken from the Space Shuttle, 2 July 1997 at 1955 GMT (photo STS094-714-050). North is towards the top; the island measures about 8 x 13 km. Courtesy of NASA.

The two weeks following 5 July were relatively quiet. During this interval rockfalls traveled as far as 500 m down the W and N faces of the dome. A brief glimpse of the dome on the night of 6 July revealed incandescent rockfalls above Mosquito Ghaut and Gages Valley. A partial view during the morning of 7 July showed a new steep-sided post-25 June dome above Mosquito Ghaut and Gages Valley with a broad, relatively flat summit area.

From 8 to 13 July there were fairly frequent emissions of diluted ash, often coinciding with the peak of the tilt cycle, and at times preceding small pyroclastic flows. The ash columns, reaching heights of ~ 3 km before dissipating, appeared to emanate from the W side of the post-25 June dome above Gages Valley. Theodolite measurements on 13 July gave an altitude of 950 m for the old dome and 941 m for the new growth in the 25 June scar. There was a steep 50-m-high protrusion on the new dome above Gages Valley. On 17 July the high point on the old dome (NE) measured 946 m, and the high point on the post-25 June dome 957 m. The spine above Gages valley observed on 13 July was no longer present.

On 21 July a field party at Trant's probing to a depth of 2 m inside the deposits at the end of the 25 June flow found a temperature of 640°C. A helicopter survey on 24 July showed fresh deposits in all of the ghauts around the volcano except Tuitt's. Another surveillance flight on 26 July indicated that most the rockfall activity was confined to Mosquito Ghaut and Gages Valley on the NE, and to the Galways area to the S. Vigorous steaming was coming from the flank of the dome in the Tar River area.

On 29 July between 0600 and 0830 there was more intense activity with several pulses of pyroclastic flows moving down Gages Valley as far as Gages Lower Soufriere. This activity was not preceded by earthquakes or a perceptible increase in rockfall activity. Other small pyroclastic flows occurred throughout the day.

Despite overcast conditions on 30 July, dilute ash plumes were visible from the Observatory during periods of heightened rockfall activity. A late-evening observation flight revealed that pyroclastic-flow deposits from 29 July extended just below the lower soufriere in Gages Valley. Several small pyroclastic-flow deposits from earlier that day (30 July) were noted on the N flank (top of Tuitts Ghaut) and NE flank (Tar River Valley and Galways area).

After 0300 on 31 July there were several periods of intense volcanic activity. A helicopter inspection showed very few new deposits in Gages valley (as far as Gages village) and some small flow lobes in Tuitt's Ghaut (to ~ 2 km from the dome). Many ash plumes were produced throughout the day and the most vigorously convecting clouds reached altitudes above 5 km. It appeared that most of the ash originated from near the top of Gages wall and was not necessarily associated with pyroclastic flows. The ash clouds drifted to the N and NW in light winds, but later in the day they traveled mostly to the W.

Seismicity. After 25 June swarms of hybrid earthquakes typically changed to tremor before the emission of pyroclastic flows. After 8 July hybrid swarms ceased, leaving seismicity dominated by rockfall signals of steady amplitude. A few long-period and hybrid events were recorded, but such activity remained at a very low level.

The number of rockfalls in the upper parts of Mosquito Ghaut and the Gages valley started increasing after 25 July. However, until 30 July the only other seismic signals recorded were a few long-period events. Starting at about 0300 on 31 July the activity became once again very elevated, peaking between 1230 and 1430, when the new Lees Yard seismometer recorded ~2 hours of nearly maximum amplitude signal. During this interval only one moderate- size pyroclastic flow was observed. Still the seismometers registered a significant increase of long-period earthquakes in addition to high-amplitude tremor that continued for much of the day, associated with ash clouds convecting to 6 km.

During the month several periods of low- to moderate-amplitude tremors appeared on both the St. George's Hill and St. Patrick's seismometer (e.g. 28-30 July); they were caused by heavy rains moving recent deposits. The largest volcano-tectonic events of the month occurred at shallow depths beneath English's crater on 24 July.

Ground deformation and volume measurements. EDM measurements showed that in general the inflation-deflation cycle that began on 22 June continued until 5 July with the same period (8 hours) and amplitude. However, after 25 June the trend showed deflation toward the center of the dome. Prior to 25 June inflation occurred to the N and deflation to the S. A survey of EASTNET stations at Harris, Windy Hill, Whites, and Long Ground on 16 July showed that the line to Whites had shortened by 16 mm since last measured on 24 June and by 31 mm from its long term mean. The line to Long Ground showed continued shortening and the line between Long Ground and Windy Hill showed slight lengthening. All the changes were consistent with their current trends although at slightly higher rates.

During 5-19 July the tilt cycles were characterized by lower amplitudes and longer (30-hour) periods; Chances Peak tiltmeter showed a gradual decrease in the rate of subsidence of the x-axis oriented SW. Superimposed on this trend were periods of cyclical inflation and deflation, often associated with hybrid swarms.

Measurements on the EDM line from Waterworks to Lees Yard on 20 and 27 July showed no major changes, although it had consistently shortened since first measured on 12 July 1997. No significant changes were observed on 26 and 27 July on either the new NW triangle (MVO-Garibaldi Hill-Lees Yard) or on the Waterworks-Lees Yard radial line. Finally, 30 July EDM measurements on the NW triangle confirmed the absence of a consistent trend.

A GPS survey on 5 July allowed an estimate of the total volume of deposits in several areas. The 25- June pyroclastic flow area was estimated at 4.61 x 106 m3 and the volume of the flow that propagated into the Belham Valley was 90 x 103 m3. The combined volume of Mosquito, Paradise, Farms, and Farrell's deposits totalled 9.24 x 106 m3, and the Gages Valley deposit was 3 x 106 m3.

A dome volume of 77 x 106 m3 was calculated based on photographs from 17 July. Cumulative pyroclastic flow deposits were estimated to be 55.05 x 106 m3 (DRE). The previous dome volume estimate on 31 May was 64.6 x 106 m3, and the pyroclastic-flow deposit volume was 43.0 x 106 m3. The average growth rate between 31 May and 17 July was 5.2 m3/s (DRE); visual observations suggested that after 25 June the growth rate was significantly higher.

Environmental monitoring. Rain water and trough water samples were collected from sites around the volcano on 10 and 22 June and 9 July. These values were nearly all within World Health Organization standards for drinking water, but the samples from Upper and Lower Amersham were extremely acidic and had high concentrations of total dissolved solids. All samples collected on 9 July to the N of the volcano had very low pH, probably because of the northerly wind direction on 8 July during heavy rain. Residents in the N of the island reported unusual sulfurous smells and light ashfall at this time.

A miniCOSPEC was used to measure SO2 flux from the volcano (table 23). Fluxes increased before 25 June and remained comparatively high through 24 June. Since 25 June no measurements were possible along the roads of the central corridor or through Plymouth because of the extreme risk in these areas, thus the value for 17 July were measured by static scanning of the plume from Garibaldi Hill an average of 10 scans.

Table 23. Daily average SO2 flux at Soufriere Hills using miniCOSPEC (metric tons/day). Courtesy of MVO.

Date SO2 flux (metric tons/day)
10 Jun 1997 842
11 Jun 1997 839
12 Jun 1997 363
14 Jun 1997 442
15 Jun 1997 634
16 Jun 1997 409
17 Jun 1997 450
19 Jun 1997 618
20 Jun 1997 1171
21 Jun 1997 921
22 Jun 1997 438
23 Jun 1997 1157
24 Jun 1997 1933
17 Jul 1997 200

Workers collecting ash on 9 June found that small accretionary lapilli were common at the Plymouth sites. The same ash fell over a region including Brodericks and Dyers and it was thickest (2.5 mm) at Upper Amersham. On 17-18 June workers found a similar amount of ash had accumulated although in this deposit they recognized a significantly coarse grained component: it reached up to 5 mm in diameter close to the volcano. After a small explosive event on 27 June, coarse lapilli (up to 10 mm in diameter) were collected from Dagenham and Richmond Hill.

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 Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Spring, MD 20746, USA; Cindy Evans, Space Shuttle Earth Observations Office, Mail Code C102, Lockheed Engineering & Sciences, P.O. Box 58561, Houston, TX 77258 USA.


Vulcano (Italy) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

Vulcano

Italy

38.404°N, 14.962°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumarolic emissions during April from Fossa Grande

Fumarolic emissions observed by Boris Behncke during 24-30 April from the Fossa Grande crater appeared more voluminous and denser than during 1995-96. The main focus of the fumarolic activity was in the N-central part of the crater, but fumaroles also appeared more vigorous on the N crater rim.

Geologic Background. The word volcano is derived from Vulcano stratovolcano in Italy's Aeolian Islands. Vulcano was constructed during six stages during the past 136,000 years. Two overlapping calderas, the 2.5-km-wide Caldera del Piano on the SE and the 4-km-wide Caldera della Fossa on the NW, were formed at about 100,000 and 24,000-15,000 years ago, respectively, and volcanism has migrated to the north over time. La Fossa cone, active throughout the Holocene and the location of most of the historical eruptions, occupies the 3-km-wide Caldera della Fossa at the NW end of the elongated 3 x 7 km island. The Vulcanello lava platform forms a low, roughly circular peninsula on the northern tip of Vulcano that was formed as an island beginning in 183 BCE and was connected to Vulcano in about 1550 CE. Vulcanello is capped by three pyroclastic cones and was active intermittently until the 16th century. The latest eruption from Vulcano consisted of explosive activity from the Fossa cone from 1898 to 1900.

Information Contacts: Boris Behncke, Istituto di Geologia e Geofisica, Palazzo delle Scienze, Corso Italia 55, 95129 Catania, Italy.


White Island (New Zealand) — July 1997 Citation iconCite this Report

White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 321 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Surveys on 11 March and 6 May confirm that the deflation trend continues

Scientists from the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (IGNS) visited White Island on 11 March and 6 May. Prior to the visits, the 1993-96 inflationary and heating trend had peaked without eruptive activity, thus suggesting a lower probability of a significant eruption in the short-term. However, inflation remained above 1993 levels.

Crater and fumarole observations. The island was visited on 11 March by S. Sherburn who accompanied a UK-based film company. The lake in the 1978/90 Crater complex was emerald green and its level had change little since January (BGVN 22:02). Although some gray slicks on the lake surface were observed, there was no evidence of convection. A noisy fumarole on the N wall was noted.

On 6 May the lake level was lower than on 11 March, and several small banks or islands were emerging from it. Steam in the crater thwarted efforts to observe convection. The lake temperature was 66°C, three degrees cooler than the last measurement obtained on 31 January. Minor collapse of the crater margin continued, especially around the steeper N and NE margins. Both fumarole 13a and the fumarole centered in Donald Mound registered temperatures slightly lower than those previously reported.

Deformation and magnetic surveys. Visitors completed a full survey of the leveling network on the main Crater floor in good conditions. It indicated continued subsidence at an area subsiding since November 1996 (BGVN 21:11) (figure 26). It also revealed that in the center of Donald Mound there was a semi- elongated subsidence zone dropping at a rate of 9 mm/month; this subsidence was first noticed in January 1997 (BGVN 22:01) (figure 27).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Contour plot showing height changes at White Island between 31 January and 6 May. Height changes are in millimeters. Courtesy of B. J. Scott, IGNS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Time series plot for White Island showing height of selected pegs. Refer to figure 26 for peg locations. Courtesy of B. J. Scott, IGNS.

In situ magnetism observed between 31 January and 6 May 1997 showed the smallest rates of change recorded in the last few years and no changes >50 nT. Most sites underwent a small field strength decrease. The only significant increases were on the N side of Donald Mound (a maximum recorded change of +46 nT at site S), indicating continuing shallow (~ 50 m deep) cooling. It was noted that at site S the rate of magnetic change had decreased significantly (0.48 nT/day, compared with 1.41 nT/day during 4 November 1996 to 31 January 1997). The widespread, small decreases could be due to an uncorrected diurnal variation or deep heating. The most recent data on the graph of the cumulative magnetic change at sites G and M (figure 28) may indicate that the trend at site G reversed. Such a reversal would imply heating; however, more time is required to confirm a trend reversal. Overall, the low rates of change in magnetism could indicate that temperature had stabilized and that the current level of surface hydrothermal activity will not greatly change in the short term.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Time series plot showing magnetic changes at White Island's pegs G and M. Refer to figure 26 for peg locations. Courtesy of B. J. Scott, IGNS.

Seismicity. Volcanic tremor had dominated the seismic records since July 1996 when it prevailed at a new background level ~4x higher that the average earlier that year. The ground motion for 1997 (figure 29) showed no diagnostic trend or clearly demonstrative pattern.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Time series plot showing White Island's volcanic tremor for 1997 (logarithm of tremor amplitude versus time). Courtesy of B. J. Scott, IGNS.

The uninhabited, 2 x 2.4 km White Island emerges at the summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano. The island consists of two overlapping stratovolcanoes; the summit crater appears to be breached to the SE because the shoreline corresponds to the level of several notches in the SE crater wall. Intermittent steam and tephra eruptions have occurred throughout the short historical period, but its activity is also prominent in Maori legends.

Geologic Background. Uninhabited 2 x 2.4 km White Island, one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes, is the emergent summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 50 km offshore of North Island. The island consists of two overlapping andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcanoes; the summit crater appears to be breached to the SE, because the shoreline corresponds to the level of several notches in the SE crater wall. Volckner Rocks, four sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NNE. Intermittent moderate phreatomagmatic and strombolian eruptions have occurred throughout the short historical period beginning in 1826, but its activity also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. Formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries has produced rapid changes in crater floor topography. Collapse of the crater wall in 1914 produced a debris avalanche that buried buildings and workers at a sulfur-mining project.

Information Contacts: B.J. Scott, C. Wilson, B.F. Houghton, and I. Nairn, Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (IGNS), Private Bag 2000, Wairakei, New Zealand.

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/).