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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

Ubinas (Peru) Intermittent ash explosions in June-August 2019

Santa Maria (Guatemala) Persistent explosions with local ashfall, March-August 2019; frequent lahars during June; increased explosions in early July

Stromboli (Italy) Major explosions on 3 July and 28 August 2019; hiker killed by ejecta

Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) Multiple lava flows within the summit crater, September 2018-August 2019

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) Explosions on 26 June and 3 August 2019 send plumes above 19 km altitude

Sarychev Peak (Russia) Ash plume on 11 August; thermal anomalies from late May to early October 2019

Asamayama (Japan) Ashfall from phreatic eruptions on 7 and 25 August 2019

Villarrica (Chile) Strombolian activity continued during March-August 2019 with an increase in July

Reventador (Ecuador) Daily ash emissions and incandescent block avalanches continue, February-July 2019

Raikoke (Russia) Short-lived series of large explosions 21-23 June 2019; first recorded activity in 95 years

Sinabung (Indonesia) Large ash explosions on 25 May and 9 June 2019

Semisopochnoi (United States) Small explosions detected between 16 July and 24 August 2019



Ubinas (Peru) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ubinas

Peru

16.355°S, 70.903°W; summit elev. 5672 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash explosions in June-August 2019

Prior to renewed activity in June 2019, the most recent eruptive episode at Ubinas occurred between 13 September 2016 and 2 March 2017, with ash explosions that generated plumes that rose up to 1.5-2 km above the summit crater (BGVN 42:10). The volcano remained relatively quiet between April 2017 and May 2019. This report discusses an eruption that began in June 2019 and continued through at least August 2019. Most of the Information was provided by the Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP), Observatoria Vulcanologico del Sur (IGP-OVS), the Observatorio Volcanológico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico) (OVI-INGEMMET), and the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Activity during June 2019. According to IGP, seismic activity increased suddenly on 18 June 2019 with signals indicating rock fracturing. During 21-24 June, signals indicating fluid movement emerged and, beginning at 0700 on 24 June, webcams recorded ash, gas, and steam plumes rising from the crater. Plumes were visible in satellite images rising to an altitude of 6.1 km and drifting N, NE, and E.

IGP and INGEMMET reported that seismic activity remained elevated during 24-30 June; volcano-tectonic (VT) events averaged 200 per day and signals indicating fluid movement averaged 38 events per day. Emissions of gas, water vapor, and ash rose from the crater and drifted N and NE, based on webcam views and corroborated with satellite data. According to a news article, a plume rose 400 m above the crater rim and drifted 10 km NE. Weather clouds often obscured views of the volcano, but an ash plume was visible in satellite imagery on 24 June 2019 (figure 49). On 27 June the Alert Level was raised to Yellow (second lowest on a 4-level scale).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Sentinel-2 satellite image in natural color showing an ash plume blowing north from Ubinas on 24 June 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during July 2019. IGP reported that seismic activity remained elevated during 1-15 July; VT events averaged 279 per day and long-period (LP) events (indicating fluid movement) averaged 116 events per day. Minor bluish emissions (magmatic gas) rose from the crater. Infrared imagery obtained by Sentinel-2 first showed a hotspot in the summit crater on 4 July.

According to IGP, during 17-19 July, gas-and-ash emissions occasionally rose from Ubinas's summit crater and drifted N, E, and SE. Beginning at 0227 on 19 July, as many as three explosions (two were recorded at 0227 and 0235) generated ash plumes that rose to 5.8 km above the crater rim. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported that, based on satellite images, ash plumes rose to an altitude as high as 12 km. The Alert Level was raised to Orange and the public were warned to stay beyond a 15-km radius. Ash plumes drifted as far as 250 km E and SE, reaching Bolivia. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind, including the towns of Ubinas (6.5 km SSE), Escacha, Anascapa (11 km SE), Tonohaya (7 km SSE), Sacohaya, San Miguel (10 km SE), Huarina, and Matalaque, causing some families to evacuate. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported that during 20-23 July ash plumes rose to an altitude of 7.3-9.5 km and drifted E, ESE, and SE.

IGP reported that activity remained elevated after the 19 July explosions. A total of 1,522 earthquakes, all with magnitudes under 2.2, were recorded during 20-24 July. Explosions were detected at 0718 and 2325 on 22 July, the last ones until 3 September. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported that an ash plume rising to an altitude of 9.4 km. and drifting SE was identified in satellite data at 0040 on 22 July (figure 50). Continuous steam-and-gas emissions with sporadic pulses of ash were visible in webcam views during the rest of the day. Ash emissions near the summit crater were periodically visible on 24 July though often partially hidden by weather clouds. Ash plumes were visible in satellite images rising to an altitude of 7 km. Diffuse ash emissions near the crater were visible on 25 July, and a thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images. During 26-28 July, there were 503 people evacuated from areas affected by ashfall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Image of ash streaming from the summit of Ubinas on 22 July 2019 captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite. Courtesy of NASA's Earth Observatory (Joshua Stevens and Kathryn Hansen).

Activity during August 2019. IGP reported that during 13-19 August blue-colored gas plumes rose to heights of less than 1.5 km above the base of the crater. The number of seismic events was 1,716 (all under M 2.4), a decrease from the total recorded the previous week.

According to IGP, blue-colored gas plumes rose above the crater and eight thermal anomalies were recorded by the MIROVA system during 20-26 August. The number of seismic events was 1,736 (all under M 2.4), and there was an increase in the magnitude and number of hybrid and LP events. Around 1030 on 26 August an ash emission rose less than 2 km above the crater rim. Continuous ash emissions on 27 August were recorded by satellite and webcam images drifting S and SW.

IGP reported that during the week of 27 August, gas-and-water-vapor plumes rose to heights less than 1 km above the summit. The number of seismic events was 2,828 (all under M 2.3), with VT signals being the most numerous. There was a slight increase in the number of LP, hybrid, and VT events compared to the previous week. The Alert Level remained at Orange.

Thermal anomalies. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected a large concentration of anomalies between 19 July until almost the end of August 2019, all of which were of low radiative power (figure 51). Infrared satellite imagery (figure 52) also showed the strong thermal anomaly associated with the explosive activity on 19 July and then the continuing hot spot inside the crater through the end of August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Log radiative power MIROVA plot of MODIS thermal anomalies at Ubinas for the year ending on 4 October 2019. Thermal activity began in the second half of July. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Sentinel-2 satellite images (Atmospheric penetration rendering, bands 12, 11, 8A) showing thermal anomalies during the eruption on 19 July (left) and inside the summit crater on 29 July 2019 (right). A hot spot inside the crater persisted through the end of August. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. A small, 1.4-km-wide caldera cuts the top of Ubinas, Peru's most active volcano, giving it a truncated appearance. It is the northernmost of three young volcanoes located along a regional structural lineament about 50 km behind the main volcanic front of Perú. The growth and destruction of Ubinas I was followed by construction of Ubinas II beginning in the mid-Pleistocene. The upper slopes of the andesitic-to-rhyolitic Ubinas II stratovolcano are composed primarily of andesitic and trachyandesitic lava flows and steepen to nearly 45 degrees. The steep-walled, 150-m-deep summit caldera contains an ash cone with a 500-m-wide funnel-shaped vent that is 200 m deep. Debris-avalanche deposits from the collapse of the SE flank about 3700 years ago extend 10 km from the volcano. Widespread plinian pumice-fall deposits include one of Holocene age about 1000 years ago. Holocene lava flows are visible on the flanks, but historical activity, documented since the 16th century, has consisted of intermittent minor-to-moderate explosive eruptions.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP), Observatoria Vulcanologico del Sur (IGP-OVS), Arequipa Regional Office, Urb La Marina B-19, Cayma, Arequipa, Peru (URL: http://ovs.igp.gob.pe/); Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico), Barrio Magisterial Nro. 2 B-16 Umacollo - Yanahuara Arequipa (URL: http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe); Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Servicio Meteorológico Nacional-Fuerza Aérea Argentina, 25 de mayo 658, Buenos Aires, Argentina (URL: http://www.smn.gov.ar/vaac/buenosaires/inicio.php?lang=es); 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); Instituto Nacional de Defensa Civil Perú (INDECI) (URL: https://www.indeci.gob.pe/); Gobierno Regional de Moquegua (URL: http://www.regionmoquegua.gob.pe/web13/); La Republica (URL: https://larepublica.pe/); NASA Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/).


Santa Maria (Guatemala) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Santa Maria

Guatemala

14.757°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Persistent explosions with local ashfall, March-August 2019; frequent lahars during June; increased explosions in early July

The dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex on the W flank of Guatemala's Santa María volcano has been growing and actively erupting since 1922. The youngest of the four vents in the complex, Caliente, has been erupting with ash explosions, pyroclastic, and lava flows for more than 40 years. A lava dome that appeared within the summit crater of Caliente in October 2016 has continued to grow, producing frequent block avalanches down the flanks. Daily explosions of steam and ash also continued during March-August 2019, the period covered in this report, with information primarily from Guatemala's INSIVUMEH (Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meterologia e Hidrologia) and the Washington VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center).

Activity at Santa Maria continued with little variation from previous months during March-August 2019, except for a short-lived increase in the frequency and intensity of explosions during early July that produced minor pyroclastic flows. Plumes of steam with minor magmatic gases rose continuously from both the S rim of the Caliente crater and from the summit of the growing dome throughout the period. They usually rose 100-700 m above the summit, generally drifting W or SW, and occasionally SE, before dissipating. In addition, daily explosions with varying amounts of ash rose to altitudes of around 2.8-3.5 km and usually extended no more than 25 km before dissipating. Most of the plumes drifted SW or SE; minor ashfall occurred in the adjacent hills almost daily and was reported at the fincas located within 10 km in those directions several times each month. Continued growth of the Caliente lava dome resulted in daily block avalanches descending its flanks to the base of the dome. The MIROVA plot of thermal energy during this time shows a consistent level of heat from early December 2018 through April 2019, very little activity during May and June, and a short-lived spike in activity from late June through early July that coincides with the increase in explosion rate and intensity. Activity decreased later in July and into August (figure 95).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Thermal activity at Santa Maria from 8 December 2018 through August 2019 was similar to previous months. A noticeable decrease in activity occurred during May and early June 2019 with a short-lived spike during late June and early July that corresponded to an increase in explosion rate and intensity during that brief interval. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Explosive activity increased slightly during March 2019 to 474 events from 409 events during February, averaging about 15 per day; the majority of explosions were weak to moderate in strength. The moderate explosions generated small block avalanches daily that sent debris 300 m down the flanks of Caliente dome; the explosions contained low levels of ash and large quantities of steam. Daily activity consisted mostly of degassing around the southern rim of the crater and within the central dome, with plumes rising about 100 m from the S rim, and pulsating between 100-400 m above the central dome, usually white and sometimes blue with gases; steam plumes drifted as far as 10 km. The weak ash emissions resulted in ashfall close to the volcano, primarily to the W and SW in the mountainous areas of El Faro, Patzulín, La Florida, and Monte Bello farms. During mid-March, residents of the villages of Las Marías and El Viejo Palmar, located S of the dome, reported the smell of sulfur. The seismic station STG3 registered 8-23 explosions daily that produced ash plumes which rose to altitudes between 2.7 and 3.3 km altitude. Explosions from the S rim were usually steam rich, while reddish oxidized ash was more common from the NE edge of the growing dome in the summit crater (figure 96). The constant block avalanches were generated by viscous lava slowly emerging from the growing summit dome, and also from the explosive activity. On the steep S flank of Santa Maria, blocks up to 3 m in diameter often produce small plumes of ash and debris as they fall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. Mostly steam rose from the S rim of the Caliente dome at Santa Maria throughout March-August 2019. On 1 March 2019, oxidized reddish ash from the growing dome was also part of the emissions (left). The dome continued to grow, essentially filling the inside of the summit crater of Caliente. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (INFORME MENSUAL DE ACTIVIDAD VOLCÁNICA MARZO 2019, VOLCÁN SANTIAGUITO).

Late on 4 March 2019 an explosion was heard 10 km away that generated incandescence 100 m above the crater and block avalanches that descended to the base of the Caliente dome; it also resulted in ashfall around the perimeter of the volcano. Powerful block avalanches were reported in Santa María creek on 8 March. Ashfall was reported in the villages of San Marcos and Loma Linda Palajunoj on 14 March. Ash plumes on 18 March drifted W and caused ashfall in the villages of Santa María de Jesús and Calaguache. A small amount of ashfall was reported on 26 March around San Marcos Palajunoj. The Washington VAAC reported volcanic ash drifting W from the summit on 8 March at 4.6 km altitude. A small ash plume was visible in satellite imagery moving WSW on 11 March at 4.6 km altitude. On 20 March a plume was detected drifting SW at 3.9 km altitude for a short time before dissipating.

Explosion rates of 10-14 per day were typical for April 2019. Ash plumes rose to 2.7-3.2 km altitude. Block avalanches reached the base of the Caliente dome each day. Steam and gas plumes pulsated 100-400 m above the S rim of the crater (figure 97). Ashfall in the immediate vicinity of the volcano, generally on the W and SW flanks was also a daily feature. The Washington VAAC reported multiple small ash emissions on 2 April moving W and dissipating quickly at 4.9 km altitude. An ash plume from two emissions drifted WSW at 4.3 km altitude on 10 April, and on 22 April two small discrete emissions were observed in satellite images moving SE at 4.6 km altitude. Ashfall was reported on 13 and 14 April in the nearby mountains and areas around Finca San José to the SE. On 15 and 23 April, ash plumes drifted W and ashfall was reported in the area of San Marcos and Loma Lina Palajunoj.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Degassing from the Caliente dome at Santa Maria on 3 April (left, infrared image) and 13 April 2019 (right) produced steam-rich plumes with minor quantities of ash. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo:, Volcán Santiaguito, Semana del 30 de marzo al 05 de abril de 2019).

Constant degassing continued from the S rim of the crater during May 2019 while pulses of steam and gas rose 100-500 m from the dome at the center of the summit crater. Weak to moderate explosions continued at a rate of 8-12 per day. White and gray plumes of steam and ash rose 300-700 m above the crater daily. A moderate-size lahar on 16 May descended the Rio San Isisdro; it was 20 m wide and carried blocks 2 m in diameter. Ashfall was reported on the W flank around the area of San Marcos and Loma Lina Palajunoj on 21 and 24 May. INSIVIUMEH reported on 29 and 30 May that seismic station STG8 recorded moderate lahars descending the Rio San Isidro (a drainage to the Rio Tambor). The thick, pasty lahars transported blocks 1-3 m in diameter, branches, and tree trunks. They were 20 m wide and 1.5-2 m deep.

Weak to moderate explosions continued during June 2019 at a rate of 9-12 per day, producing plumes of ash and steam that rose 300-700 m above the Caliente crater. On 1 June explosions produced ashfall to the E over the areas of Calaguache, Las Marías and other nearby communities. Ash plumes commonly reached 3.0-3.3 km altitude and drifted W and SW, and block avalanches constantly descended the E and SE flanks from the dome at the top of Caliente. Ashfall was reported at the Santa María de Jesús community on 7 June. Ashfall to the W in San Marcos and Loma Linda Palajunoj was reported on 10, 15, 18, 20, and 22 June. Ashfall to the SE in Fincas Monte Claro and El Patrocinio was reported on 26 June. A few of the explosions on 28 June were heard up to 10 km away. On 29 June ash dispersed to the W again over the farms of San Marcos, Monte Claro, and El Patrocinio in the area of Palajunoj; the next day, ash was reported in Loma Linda and finca Monte Bello to the SW. The Washington VAAC reported ash emissions on 29 June that rose to 4.3 km and drifted W; two ash clouds were observed, one was 35 km from Santa Maria and the second drifted 55 km before dissipating.

With the onset of the rainy season, eight lahars were reported during June. The Rio Cabello de Ángel, a tributary of Río Nimá I (which flows into Rio Samalá) on the SE flank experienced lahars on 3, 5, 11, 12, 21, and 30 June (figure 98). The lahars were 15-20 m wide, 1-2 m deep, and carried branches, tree trunks and blocks 1-3 m in diameter. On 12 and 15 June, lahars descended the Río San Isidro on the SW flank. They were 1.5 m deep, 15-20 m wide and carried tree trunks and blocks up to 2 m in diameter.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. Activity at Santa Maria on 12 June 2019 included explosions with abundant ash and lahars. This lahar is in the Rio Nimá I, and started in the Rio Cabello de Ángel. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito, Semana del 08 al 14 de junio de 2019).

An increase in the frequency and intensity of seismic events was noted beginning on 28 June that lasted through 6 July 2019. Explosions occurred at a rate of 5-6 per hour, reaching 40-45 events per day instead of the 12-15 typical of previous months. Ash plumes rose to 3.5-3.8 km altitude and drifted W, SW, and S as far as 10 km, and ashfall was reported in San Marcos Palajunoj, Loma Linda villages, Monte Bello farms, El Faro, La Mosqueta, La Florida, and Monte Claro. Activity decreased after 7 July back to similar levels of the previous months. As a result of the increased activity during the first week of July, several small pyroclastic flows (also known as pyroclastic density currents or PDC's) were generated that traveled up to 1 km down the S, SE, and E flanks during 2-5 and 13 July, in addition to the constant block avalanches from the dome extrusion and explosions (figure 99). As activity levels decreased after 6 July, the ash plume heights lowered to 3.3 km altitude, while pulsating degassing continued from the summit dome, rising 100-500 m.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. An increase in explosive activity at Santa Maria during the first week of July 2019 resulted in several small pyroclastic flows descending the flanks, including one on 3 July 2019 (left). An ash emission on 19 July 2019 rose above the nearby summit of Santa Maria (right). Courtesy of INSIVUME (INFORME MENSUAL DE ACTIVIDAD VOLCÁNICA JULIO 2019, VOLCÁN SANTIAGUITO).

The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume on 2 July from a series of emissions that rose to 3.9 km altitude and drifted W. Satellite imagery on 4 July showed a puff of ash moving W from the summit at 4.3 km altitude. The next day an ash emission was observed in satellite imagery moving W at 4.9 km altitude. A plume on 11 July drifted W at 4.3 km for several hours before dissipating. Ashfall was reported on 2 July at the San Marcos farm and in the villages of Monte Claro and El Patrocinio in the Palajunoj area. On 4 and 6 July ash fell to the SW and W in San Marcos and Loma Linda Palajunoj. On 5 July there were reports of ashfall in Monte Claro and areas around San Marcos Palajunoj and some explosions were heard 5 km away. In Monte Claro to the SW ash fell on 7 July and sounds were heard 5 km away every three minutes. Incandescence was observed in the early morning on the SE and NE flanks of the dome. During 8 and 9 July, four to eight weak explosions per hour were noted and ash dispersed SW, especially over Monte Claro; pulsating degassing noises were heard every two minutes. Monte Bello and Loma Linda reported ashfall on 12, 16, 17, 19, and 20 July. On 15, 22, 26, and 29 July ash was reported in San Marcos and Loma Linda Palajunoj; 33 explosions occurred on 25 July. Two lahars were reported on 8 July. A strong one in the Rio San Isidro was more than 2 m deep, and 20-25 m wide with blocks as large as 3 m in diameter. A more moderate lahar affected Rio Cabello de Angel and was also 2 m deep. It was 15-20 m wide and had blocks 1-2 m in diameter.

Activity declined further during August 2019. Constant degassing continued from the S rim of the crater, but only occasional pulses of steam and gas rose from the central dome. Weak to moderate explosions occurred at a rate of 15-20 per day. White and gray plumes with small amounts of ash rose 300-800 m above the summit daily. Block avalanches descended to the base of the dome and sent fine ash particles down the SE and S flanks. Ashfall was common within 5 km of the summit, generally on the SW flank, near Monte Bello farm, Loma Linda village and San Marcos Palajunoj. Explosions rates decreased to 10-11 per day during the last week of the month. Degassing and ash plumes rose to 2.9-3.2 km altitude throughout the month.

On 1 August ash plumes drifted 10-15 km SW, causing ashfall in that direction. On 3 and 27 August ashfall occurred at Monte Claro and El Patrocinio in the Palajunoj area to the SW. On 7 and 31 August ashfall was reported in Monte Claro. San Marcos and Loma Linda Palajunoj reported ash on 11, 16, 19, and 23 August. On 21 August ashfall was reported to the SE around Finca San José. The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery on 10 August 2019 drifting W at 4.3 km altitude a few kilometers from the summit which dissipated quickly. On 27 August a plume was observed 25 km W of the summit at 3.9 km altitude, dissipating rapidly. On 3 August a moderate lahar descended the Rio Cabello de Ángel that was 1 m deep, 15 m wide and carried blocks up to 1 m in diameter along with branches and tree trunks. A large lahar on 20 August descended Río Cabello de Ángel; it was 2-3 m high, 15 m wide and carried blocks 1-2 m diameter, causing erosion along the flanks of the drainage (figure 100).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. A substantial lahar at Santa Maria on 20 August 2019 sent debris down the Río Cabello de Ángel in the vicinity of El Viejo Palmar (left), the spectrogram of the seismic signal lasted for 2 hours and 16 minutes (top right), and the seismograph was saturated with the lahar signal in red (bottom right). Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito, Semana del 17 al 23 de agosto de 2019).

Geologic Background. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is part of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rise above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The sharp-topped, conical profile is cut on the SW flank by a 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank, and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned Plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four vents, with activity progressing W towards the most recent, Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); 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/); 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).


Stromboli (Italy) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Major explosions on 3 July and 28 August 2019; hiker killed by ejecta

Near-constant fountains of lava at Stromboli have served as a natural beacon in the Tyrrhenian Sea for at least 2,000 years. Eruptive activity at the summit consistently occurs from multiple vents at both a north crater area (N area) and a southern crater group (CS area) on the Terrazza Craterica at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a large scarp that runs from the summit down the NW side of the volcano-island. Periodic lava flows emerge from the vents and flow down the scarp, sometimes reaching the sea; occasional large explosions produce ash plumes and pyroclastic flows. Thermal and visual cameras that monitor activity at the vents are located on the nearby Pizzo Sopra La Fossa, above the Terrazza Craterica, and at multiple locations on the flanks of the volcano. Detailed information for Stromboli is provided by Italy's Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) as well as other satellite sources of data; March-August 2019 is covered in this report.

Typical eruptive activity recorded at Stromboli by INGV during March-June 2019 was similar to activity of the past few years (table 6); two major explosions occurred in July and August with a fatality during the 3 July event. In the north crater area, both vents N1 and N2 emitted fine (ash) ejecta, occasionally mixed with coarser lapilli and bombs; most explosions rose less than 80 m above the vents, some reached 150 m. Average explosion rates ranged from 1 to 12 per hour. In the CS crater area continuous degassing and occasional intense spattering were typical at vent C, vent S1 was a low-intensity incandescent jet throughout the period. Explosions from vent S2 produced 80-150 m high ejecta of ash, lapilli, and bombs at average rates of 2-17 per hour.

After a high-energy explosion and lava flow on 25 June, a major explosion with an ash plume and pyroclastic flow occurred on 3 July 2019; ejecta was responsible for the death of a hiker lower down on the flank and destroyed monitoring equipment near the summit. After the explosion on 3 July, coarse ejecta and multiple lava flows and spatter cones emerged from the N area, and explosion rates increased to 4-19 per hour. At the CS area, lava flows emerged from all the vents and spatter cones formed. Explosion intensity ranged from low to very high with the finer ash ejecta rising over 250 m from the vents and causing ashfall in multiple places on the island. This was followed by about 7 weeks of heightened unrest and lava flows from multiple vents. A second major explosion with an ash plume and pyroclastic flow on 28 August reshaped the summit area yet again and scattered pyroclastic debris over the communities on the SW flank near the ocean.

Table 6. Summary of activity levels at Stromboli, March-August 2019. Low-intensity activity indicates ejecta rising less than 80 m, medium-intensity is ejecta rising less than 150 m, and high-intensity is ejecta rising over 200 m above the vent. Data courtesy of INGV.

Month North (N) Area Activity Central-South (CS) Area Activity
Mar 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2. Coarse-grained ejecta (lapilli and bombs) from N1, fine-grained ash mixed with coarse material from N2. Explosion rates of 3-12 per hour. Medium-intensity explosions from both S area vents, lapilli and bombs mixed with ash, 2-9 explosions per hour.
Apr 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2. Coarse-grained ejecta (lapilli and bombs) from N1, fine-grained ash from N2. Explosion rates of 5-12 per hour. Continuous degassing from C, low-intensity incandescent jets form S1, up to 4 emission points from S2, mostly fine-grained ejecta, 4-15 explosions per hour.
May 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2. Mostly fine-grained ejecta, occasionally mixed with coarser material. Explosion rates of 2-8 per hour. Continuous degassing from C, low-intensity incandescent jets form S1, low- to medium-intensity explosions from C, S1, and S2. Mostly fine-grained ejecta, occasionally mixed with coarser material. Explosion rates of 5-16 per hour.
June 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2. Mostly fine-grained ejecta, occasionally mixed with coarser material. Explosion rates of 1-12 per hour. Continuous degassing at C and sporadic short duration spattering events, low- to medium-intensity incandescent jets at S1, multiple emission points from S2. Ejecta of larger lapilli and bombs mixed with ash. Explosion rates of 2-17 per hour. High-energy explosion on 25 June.
Jul 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2. Coarse ejecta after major explosion on 3 July. Intermittent intense spattering. Explosions rates of 4-19 per hour. Lava flows from all vents. Major explosion and pyroclastic flow, 3 July, with fatality from falling ejecta. Lava flows from all vents. Continuous degassing and variable intensity explosions from low to very high (over 200 m). Coarse ejecta until 20 July; followed by mostly ash.
Aug 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions from the N area, coarse ejecta and occasional intense spattering. Explosion rates of 7-17 per hour. Lava flows. Low- to high-intensity explosions; ash ejecta over 200 m; ashfall during week 1 in S. Bartolo area, Scari, and Piscità. Major explosion on 28 August, with 4-km-high ash plume and pyroclastic flow; lava flows. Explosion rates of 4-16 per hour.

Thermal activity was low from March through early June 2019 as recorded in the MIROVA Log Radiative Power data from MODIS infrared satellite information. A sharp increase in thermal energy coincided with a large explosion and the emergence of numerous lava flows from the summit beginning in late June (figure 144). High heat-flow continued through the end of August and dropped back down at the beginning of September 2019 after the major 28 August explosion.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 144. Thermal activity at Stromboli was low and intermittent from 12 November 2018 through early June 2019, based on this MIROVA plot of thermal activity through August 2019. A spike in thermal energy in late June coincided with a major explosion on 3 July and the emergence of lava from the summit area. Heightened activity continued from 3 July through 28 August with multiple lava flows emerging from both crater areas. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during March-June 2019. Activity was low during March 2019. Low- to medium-intensity explosions occurred at both vents N1 and N2 in the north area. Ejecta was mostly coarse grained (lapilli and bombs) from N1 and fine-grained ash mixed with some coarse material from N2. Intense spattering activity was reported from N2 on 29 March. Explosion rates were reported at 5-12 per hour. At the CS area, medium-intensity explosions from both south area vents produced lapilli and bombs mixed with ash at a rate of 2-9 explosions per hour.

During a visit to the Terrazza Craterica on 2 April 2019, degassing was visible from vents N1, N2, C, and S2; activity continued at similar levels to March throughout the month. Low- and medium-intensity explosions with coarse ejecta, averaging 3-12 per hour, were typical at vent N1 while low-intensity explosions with fine-grained (ash) ejecta occurred at a similar rate from N2. Continuous degassing was observed at the C vent, and low-intensity incandescent jets were present at S1 throughout the month. Multiple emission points from S2 (as many as 4) produced low- to medium-intensity explosions at rates of 4-14 explosions per hour; the ejecta was mostly fine-grained mixed with some coarse material. Frequent explosions on 19 April produced abundant pyroclastic material in the summit area.

Low to medium levels of explosive activity at all of the vents continued during May 2019. Emissions consisted mostly of ash occasionally mixed with coarser material (lapilli and bombs). Rates of explosion were 2-8 per hour in the north area, and 5-16 per hour in the CS Area. Explosions of low-intensity continued from all the vents during the first part of June at rates averaging 2-12 per hour, although brief periods of high-frequency explosions (more than 21 events per hour) were reported during the week of 10 June. Strong degassing was observed from crater C during an inspection on 12 June (figure 145); by the third week, continuous degassing was interrupted at C by sporadic short-duration spattering events.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 145. The Terrazza Craterica as seen from the Pizzo sopra la Fossa (above, near the summit) at Stromboli on 12 June 2019. In red are the two craters (N1 and N2) of the N crater area, in green is the CS crater area with 2 vents (C1 and C2) in the central crater and S2, the largest and deepest crater in the CS area, also with at least two vents. S1 is hidden by the degassing of crater C. Photograph by Giuseppe Salerno, courtesy of INGV (Report 25/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 10/06/2019-16/06/2019).

Late on 25 June 2019, a high-energy explosion that lasted for 28 seconds affected vent C in the CS area. The ejecta covered a large part of the Terrazza Craterica, with abundant material landing in the Valle della Luna. An ash plume rose over 250 m after the explosion and drifted S. After that, explosion frequency varied from medium-high (17/hour) on 25 June to high (25/hour) on 28 June. On 29 June researchers inspected the summit and noted changes from the explosive events. Thermal imagery indicated that the magma level at N1 was almost at the crater rim. The magma level at N2 was lower and explosive activity was less intense. At vent C, near-constant Strombolian activity with sporadic, more intense explosions produced black ash around the enlarged vent. At vent S2, a pyroclastic cone at the center of the crater produced vertical jets of gas, lapilli, and bombs that exceeded 100 m in height (figure 146).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 146. A high-energy explosion at Stromboli late on 25 June 2019 affected vent C in the CS Area (top row). The ejecta covered a large part of the Terrazza Craterica. An ash plume rose over 250 m after the explosion and drifted S. On 29 June (bottom row) thermal imagery indicated that the magma level at N1 was almost at the crater rim. At vent C, near-constant Strombolian activity was interrupted with sporadic, more intense explosions. At vent S2, a pyroclastic cone at the center of the crater produced vertical jets of gas, lapilli, and bombs that exceeded 100 m in height. Photo 2f by L. Lodato, courtesy of INGV (Rep 27/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 24/06/2019-30/06/2019).

Activity during July 2019. A large explosion accompanied by lava and pyroclastic flows affected the summit and western flank of Stromboli on 3 July 2019. Around 1400 local time an explosion from the CS area generated a lava flow that spilled onto the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco. Just under an hour later several events took place: lava flows emerged from the C vent and headed E, from the N1 and N2 vents and flowed N towards Bastimento, and from vent S2 (figure 147). The emergence of the flows was followed a minute later by two lateral blasts from the CS area, and a major explosion that involved the entire Terrazza Craterica lasted for about one minute (figure 148). Within seconds, the pyroclastic debris had engulfed and destroyed the thermal camera located above the Terrazza Craterica on the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa and sent a plume of debris across the W flank of the island (figure 149). Two seismic stations were also destroyed in the event. The Toulouse VAAC reported a plume composed mostly of SO2 at 9.1 km altitude shortly after the explosion. They noted that ash was present in the vicinity of the volcano, but no significant ashfall was expected. INGV scientists observed the ash plume at 4 km above the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 147. A major eruptive event at Stromboli on 3 July 2019 began with an explosion from the CS area that generated a lava flow at 1359 (left). About 45 minutes later (at 1443:40), lava flows emerged from all of the summit vents (right), followed closely by a major explosion. Courtesy of INGV (Eruzione Stromboli. Comunicato straordinario del 4 luglio 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 148. A major explosion at Stromboli beginning at 1445 on 3 July 2019 was preceded by lava flows from all the summit vents in the previous 60 seconds (top row). This thermal camera (SPT) and other monitoring equipment on the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa above the vents were destroyed in the explosion (bottom row). Courtesy of INGV (Il parossismo dello Stromboli del 3 luglio 2019 e l'attività nei giorni successivi: il punto della situazione al 13 luglio 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 149. The monitoring equipment at Stromboli on the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa above the summit was destroyed in the major explosion of 3 July 2019 (left, photo by F. Ciancitto). Most of the W half of the island was affected by pyroclastic debris after the explosion, including the town of Ginostra (right). Courtesy of INGV (Report 28/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 01/07/2019 - 07/07/2019).

Two pyroclastic flows were produced as a result of the explosions; they traveled down the Sciara and across the water for about 1 km before collapsing into the sea (figure 150). A hiker from Sicily was killed in the eruption and a Brazilian friend who was with him was badly injured, according to a Sicilian news source, ANSA, and the New York Post. They were hit by flying ejecta while hiking in the Punta dei Corvi area, due W of the summit and slightly N of Ginostra, about 100 m above sea level according to INGV. Most of the ejecta from the explosion dispersed to the WSW of the summit. Fallout also ignited vegetation on the slopes which narrowly missed destroying structures in the town. Ejecta blocks and bombs tens of centimeters to meters in diameter were scattered over a large area around the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa and the Valle della Luna in the direction of Ginostra. Smaller material landed in Ginostra and was composed largely of blonde pumice, that floated in the bay (figure 151). The breccia front of the lava flows produced incandescent blocks that reached the coastline. High on the SE flank, the abundant spatter of hot pyroclastic ejecta coalesced into a flow that moved 200-300 m down the flank before cooling, crossing the path normally used by visitors to the summit (figure 152).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 150. At the time of the major explosion of Stromboli on 3 July 2019 people on a German ship located about 2 km off the northern coast captured several images of the event. (a) Two pyroclastic flows traveled down the Sciara del Fuoco and spread over the sea up to about 1 km from the coast. (b) The eruption column was observed rising several kilometers above the summit as debris descended the Sciara del Fuoco. (c) Fires on the NW flank were started by incandescent pyroclastic debris. The photos were taken by Egon Karcher and used with permission of the author by INGV. Courtesy of INGV (Il parossismo dello Stromboli del 3 luglio 2019 e l'attività nei giorni successivi: il punto della situazione al 13 luglio 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 151. Pumice filled the harbor on 4 July 2019 (left) and was still on roofs (right) on 7 July 2019 in the small port of Ginostra on the SW flank of Stromboli after the large explosion on 3 July 2019. Photos by Gianfilippo De Astis, courtesy of INGV (Il parossismo dello Stromboli del 3 luglio 2019 e l'attività nei giorni successivi: il punto della situazione al 13 luglio 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 152. A small lava flow high on the SE flank of Stromboli formed during the 3 July 2019 event from abundant spatter of hot pyroclastic ejecta that coalesced into a flow and moved 200-300 m down the flank before cooling, crossing the path normally used by visitors to the summit. Photo by Boris Behncke taken on 9 July 2019, courtesy of INGV (Il parossismo dello Stromboli del 3 luglio 2019 e l'attività nei giorni successivi: il punto della situazione al 13 luglio 2019).

INGV scientists inspected the summit on 4 and 5 July 2019 and noted that the rim of the Terrazza Craterica facing the Sciara del Fuoco in both the S and N areas had been destroyed, but the crater edge near the central area was not affected. In addition, the N area appeared significantly enlarged and deepened, forming a single crater where the former N1 and N2 vents had been located; an incandescent jet was active in the CS area (figure 153). Explosive activity declined significantly after the major explosions, although moderate overflows of lava continued from multiple vents, especially the CS area where the flows traveled about halfway down the southern part of the Sciara del Fuoco; lava also flowed E towards Rina Grande (about 0.5 km E of the summit). The main lava flows active between 3 and 4 July produced a small lava field along the Sciara del Fuoco which flowed down to an elevation of 210 m in four flows along the S edge of the scarp (figure 154). Additional block avalanches rolled to the coastline.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 153. The summit craters of Stromboli were significantly altered during the explosive event of 3 July 2019. The rim of the Terrazza Craterica facing the Sciara del Fuoco in both the CS and N areas was destroyed, but the crater edge near the CS area was not affected. In addition, the N area was significantly enlarged and deepened, forming a single crater where the former N1 and N2 vents had been located; an incandescent jet was active in the CS area. Courtesy of INGV (Report 28/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 01/07/2019 - 07/07/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 154. The main lava flows active between 3 and 4 July at Stromboli after the major explosion on 3 July 2019 produced a small lava field along the Sciara del Fuoco. Left: Aerial photo taken by Stefano Branca (INGV-OE) on 5 July; the yellow arrow shows a small overflow from the N crater area, the red arrow shows the largest overflow from the CS crater area. Right: Flows from the CS area traveled down to an elevation of 210 m in four flows along the S edge of the scarp. Additional block avalanches rolled to the coastline. Right photo by Francesco Ciancitto taken on 5 July 2019. Courtesy of INGV (Il parossismo dello Stromboli del 3 luglio 2019 e l'attività nei giorni successivi: il punto della situazione al 13 luglio 2019).

During the second week of July lava flows continued; on 8 July volcanologists reported two small lava flows from the CS area flowing towards the Sciara del Fuoco. A third flow was noted the following day. The farthest flow front was at about 500 m elevation on 10 July, and the flow at the center of the Sciara del Fuoco was at about 680 m. An overflow from the N area during the evening of 12 July produced two small flows that remained high on the N side of the scarp; lava continued flowing from the CS area into the next day. A new flow from the N area late on 14 July traveled down the N part of the scarp (figure 155).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 155. During the second week of July 2019 lava flows at Stromboli continued from both crater areas. Top left: Lava flows from the CS area flowed down the Sciara on 9 July while Strombolian activity continued at the summit, photo by P. Anghemo, mountain guide. Bottom left: A lava flow from the CS area at Stromboli is viewed from Punta dei Corvi during the night of 12-13 July 2019. Photo by Francesco Ciancitto. Right: The active flows on 10 July (in red) were much closer to the summit crater than they had been during 3-4 July (in yellow). Courtesy of INGV, top left and right photos published in Report 29/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 08/07/2019 - 14/07/2019; bottom left photo published in 'Il parossismo dello Stromboli del 3 luglio 2019 e l'attività nei giorni successivi: il punto della situazione al 13 luglio 2019'.

A new video station with a thermal camera was installed at Punta dei Corvi, a short distance N of Ginostra on the SW coast, during 17-20 July 2019. During the third week of July lava continued to flow from the CS crater area onto the southern part of the Sciara del Fuoco, but the active flow area remained on the upper part of the scarp; block avalanches continuously rolled down to the coastline (figure 156). During visits to the summit area on 26 July and 1 August activity at the Terrazza Craterica was observed by INGV scientists. There were at least six active vents in the N area, including a scoria cone and an intensely spattering hornito; the other vents were ejecting coarse material in jets of Strombolian activity. In the CS area, a large scoria cone was clearly visible from the Pizzo, with two active vents generating medium- to high-intensity explosions rich in volcanic ash mixed with coarse ejecta (figures 157 and 158). Some of the finer-grained material in the jets reached 200 m above the vents. A second smaller cone in the CS area faced the southernmost part of the Sciara del Fuoco and produced sporadic low-intensity "bubble explosions." Effusive activity decreased during the last week of July; the active lava front was located at about 600 m elevation. Blocks continued to roll down the scarp, mostly from the explosive activity, and were visible from Punta dei Corvi.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 156. Lava continued to flow from the CS area at Stromboli during the third week of July 2019, although the active flow area remained near the top of the scarp. Block avalanches continued to travel down the scarp. Image taken by di Francesco Ciancitto from Punta dei Corvi on 19 July 2019. Courtesy of INGV (Report 30/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 15/07/2019 - 21/07/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 157. Thermal and visible images of Terrazza Craterica at the summit of Stromboli from the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa on 1 August 2019 showed significant changes since the major explosion on 3 July 2019. A large scoria cone was present in the CS area (left) and at least six vents from multiple cones were active in the N area (right). The active lava flow 'Trabocco Lavico' emerged from the southernmost part of the CS area (far left). Courtesy if INGV (Report 32/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 29/07/2019 - 04/08/2019.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 158. At the summit of Stromboli on 1 August 2019 two active vents inside a large cone in the CS area generated medium- to high-intensity explosions rich in volcanic ash mixed with coarse ejecta (left). There were at least six active vents in the N area (right), including a scoria cone and an intensely spattering hornito; the other vents were ejecting coarse material in jets of Strombolian activity. Courtesy of INGV (Report 32/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 29/07/2019 - 04/08/2019).

Activity during August 2019. A small overflow of lava on 4 August 2019 from the N area lasted for about 20 minutes and formed a flow that went a few hundred meters down the Sciara del Fuoco. Observations made at the summit on 7 and 8 August 2019 indicated that nine vents were active in the N crater area, three of which had scoria cones built around them (figure 159). They all produced low- to medium-intensity Strombolian activity. In the CS area, a large scoria cone was visible from the summit that generated medium- to high-intensity explosions rich in volcanic ash, which sometimes rose more than 200 m above the vent. Lava overflowing from the CS area on 8 August was confined to the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco, at an elevation between 500 and 600 m (figure 160). Occasional block avalanches from the active lava fronts traveled down the scarp. Ashfall was reported in the S. Bartolo area, Scari, and Piscità during the first week of August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 159. Nine vents were active in the N crater area of Stromboli on 7 August 2019, three of which had scoria cones built around them. They all produced low- to medium-intensity Strombolian activity (top). In the CS area (bottom), a large scoria cone was visible from the summit that generated medium- to high-intensity explosions rich in volcanic ash, which sometimes rose more than 200 m above the vent. Visible images taken by S. Consoli, thermal images taken by S. Branca. Courtesy of INGV (Report 33/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 05/08/2019 - 11/08/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 160. Multiple Lava flows were still active on the Sciara del Fuoco at Stromboli on 7 August 2019. Top images by INGV personnel S Branca and S. Consoli, lower images by A. Di Pietro volcanological guide. Courtesy of INGV (Report 33/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 05/08/2019 - 11/08/2019).

Drone surveys on 13 and 14 August 2019 confirmed that sustained Strombolian activity continued both in the N area and the CS area. Lava flows continued from two vents in the CS area; they ceased briefly on 16 and 17 August but resumed on the 18th, with the lava fronts reaching 500-600 m elevation (figure 161). A fracture field located in the southern part of the Sciara del Fuoco was first identified in drone imagery on 9 July. Repeated surveys through mid-August indicated that about ten fractures were identifiable trending approximately N-S and ranged in length from 2.5 to 21 m; they did not change significantly during the period. An overflight on 23 August identified the main areas of activity at the summit. A NE-SW alignment of 13 vents within the N area was located along the crater edge that overlooks the Sciara del Fuoco. At the CS area, the large scoria cone had two active vents, there was a pit crater, and two smaller scoria cones. A 50-m-long lava tube emerged from one of the smaller lava cones and fed two small flows that emerged at the top of the Sciara del Fuoco (figure 162).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 161. Detail of a vent at Stromboli on 14 August 2019 located in the SW part of the Sciara del Fuoco at an elevation of 730 m. Flow is tens of meters long. Courtesy of INGV (COMUNICATO DI DETTAGLIO STROMBOLI del 20190816 ORE 17:05 LT).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 162. Thermal and visual imagery of the summit of Stromboli on 23 August 2019 revealed a NE-SW alignment of 13 vents within the N area located along the crater edge that overlooks the Sciara del Fuoco. At the CS area, the large scoria cone had two active vents (1 and 2), there was a pit crater (3), and two smaller scoria cones (4). A 50-m-long lava tube formed from one of the smaller lava cones (5) and fed two small flows that emerged at the top of the Sciara del Fuoco. Photos by L. Lodato and S. Branca, courtesy of INGV (Report 35/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 19/08/2019 - 25/08/2019).

INGV reported a strong explosion from the CS area at 1217 (local time) on 28 August 2019. Ejecta covered the Terrazza Craterica and sent debris rolling down the Sciara del Fuoco to the coastline. A strong seismic signal was recorded, and a large ash plume rose more than 2 km above the summit (figure 163). The Toulouse VAAC reported the ash plume at 3.7-4.6 km altitude, moving E and rapidly dissipating, shortly after the event. Once again, a pyroclastic flow traveled down the Sciara and several hundred meters out to sea (figures 164). The entire summit was covered with debris. The complex of small scoria cones within the N area that had formed since the 3 July explosion was destroyed; part of the N area crater rim was also destroyed allowing lava to flow down the Sciara where it reached the coastline by early evening.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 163. A major explosion at Stromboli on 28 August 2019 produced a high ash plume and a pyroclastic flow. The seismic trace from the STR4 station (top left) indicated a major event. The ash plume from the explosion was reported to be more than 2 km high (right). The thermal camera located at Stromboli's Punta dei Corvi on the southern edge of the Sciara del Fuoco captured both the pyroclastic flow and the ash plume produced in the explosion (bottom left). Seismogram and thermal image courtesy of INGV (INGVvulcani blog, 30 AGOSTO 2019INGVVULCANI, Nuovo parossismo a Stromboli, 28 agosto 2019). Photo by Teresa Grillo (University of Rome) Courtesy of AIV - Associazione Italiana di Vulcanologia.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 164. A pyroclastic flow at Stromboli traveled across the sea off the W flank for several hundred meters on 28 August 2019 after a major explosion at the summit. Photo by Alberto Lunardi, courtesy of INGV (5 SETTEMBRE 2019INGVVULCANI, Quando un flusso piroclastico scorre sul mare: esempi a Stromboli e altri vulcani).

At 1923 UTC on 29 August a lava flow was reported emerging from the N area onto the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco; it stopped at mid-elevation on the slope. About 90 minutes later, an explosive sequence from the CS area resulted in the fallout of pyroclastic debris around Ginostra. Shortly after midnight, a lava flow from the CS area traveled down the scarp and reached the coast by dawn, but the lava entry into the sea only lasted for a short time (figure 165).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 165. Lava flows continued for a few days after the major explosion of 28 August 2019 at Stromboli. Left: A lava flow emerged from the N crater area on 29 August 2019 and traveled a short distance down the Sciara del Fuoco. Incandescent blocks from the flow front reached the ocean. Photo by A. DiPietro. Right: A lava flow that emerged from the CS crater area around midnight on 30 August 2019 made it to the ocean around dawn, as seen from the N ridge of the Sciara del Fuoco at an altitude of 400 m. Photo by Alessandro La Spina. Both courtesy of INGV. Left image from 'COMUNICATO DI ATTIVITA' VULCANICA del 2019-08-29 22:20:06(UTC) – STROMBOLI', right image from INGVvulcani blog, 30 AGOSTO 2019 INGVVULCANI, 'Nuovo parossismo a Stromboli, 28 agosto 2019'.

An overflight on 30 August 2019 revealed that after the explosions of 28-29 August the N area had collapsed and now contained an explosive vent producing Strombolian activity and two smaller vents with low-intensity explosive activity. In the CS area, Strombolian activity occurred at a single large crater (figure 166). INGV reported an explosion frequency of about 32 events per hour during 31 August-1 September. The TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite captured small but distinct SO2 plumes from Stromboli during 28 August-1 September, even though they were challenging to distinguish from the larger signal originating at Etna (figure 167).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 166. A 30 August 2019 overflight of Stromboli revealed that after the explosions of 28-29 August the N area had collapsed and now contained a single explosive vent producing Strombolian activity and two smaller vents with low intensity explosive activity. In the CS area, a single large crater remained with moderate Strombolian activity. No new lava flows appeared on the Sciara del Fuoco, only cooling from the existing flows was evident. Courtesy of INGV (Report 35.6/2019, Stromboli, Daily Bulletin of 08/31/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 167. Small but distinct SO2 signals were recorded from Stromboli during 28 August through 1 September 2019; they were sometimes difficult to discern from the larger signal originating at nearby Etna. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Geologic Background. Spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions at this volcano have long attracted visitors to the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean." Stromboli, the NE-most of the Aeolian Islands, has lent its name to the frequent mild explosive activity that has characterized its eruptions throughout much of historical time. The small island is the emergent summit of a volcano that grew in two main eruptive cycles, the last of which formed the western portion of the island. The Neostromboli eruptive period took place between about 13,000 and 5,000 years ago. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a prominent horseshoe-shaped scarp formed about 5,000 years ago due to a series of slope failures that extend to below sea level. The modern volcano has been constructed within this scarp, which funnels pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows to the NW. Essentially continuous mild Strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded for more than a millennium.

Information Contacts: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy, (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/en/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Météo-France, 42 Avenue Gaspard Coriolis, F-31057 Toulouse cedex, France (URL: http://www.meteo.fr/aeroweb/info/vaac/); AIV, Associazione Italiana di Vulcanologia (URL: https://www.facebook.com/aivulc/photos/a.459897477519939/1267357436773935; ANSA.it, (URL: http://www.ansa.it/sicilia/notizie/2019/07/03/-stromboli-esplosioni-da-cratere-turisti-in-mare); The New York Post, (URL: https://nypost.com/2019/07/03/dozens-of-people-dive-into-sea-to-escape-stromboli-volcano-eruption-in-italy/).


Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ol Doinyo Lengai

Tanzania

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Multiple lava flows within the summit crater, September 2018-August 2019

Frequent historical eruptions from Tanzania's Ol Doinyo Lengai have been recorded since the late 19th century. Located near the southern end of the East African Rift in the Gregory Rift Valley, the unique low-temperature carbonatitic lavas have been the focus of numerous volcanological studies; the volcano has also long been a cultural icon central to the Maasai people who live in the region. Following explosive eruptions in the mid-1960s and early 1980s the volcano entered a phase of effusive activity with the effusion of small, fluid, natrocarbonatitic lava flows within its active north summit crater. From 1983 to early 2007 the summit crater was the site of numerous often-changing hornitos (or spatter cones) and lava flows that slowly filled the crater. Lava began overflowing various flanks of the crater in 1993; by 2007 most flanks had been exposed to flows from the crater.

Seismic and effusive activity increased in mid-2007, and a new phase of explosive activity resumed in September of that year. The explosive activity formed a new pyroclastic cone inside the crater; repeated ash emissions reached altitudes greater than 10 km during March 2008, causing relocation of several thousand nearby villagers. Explosive activity diminished by mid-April 2008; by September new hornitos with small lava flows were again forming on the crater floor. Periodic eruptions of lava from fissures, spatter cones, and hornitos within the crater were witnessed throughout the next decade by scientists and others occasionally visiting the summit. Beginning in 2017, satellite imagery has become a valuable data source, providing information about both the thermal activity and the lava flows in the form of infrared imagery and the color contrast of black fresh lava and whiter cooled lava that is detectable in visible imagery (BGVN 43:10). The latest expeditions in 2018 and 2019 have added drone technology to the research tools. This report covers activity from September 2018 through August 2019 with data and images provided from satellite information and from researchers and visitors to the volcano.

Summary and data from satellite imagery. Throughout September 2018 to August 2019, evidence for repeated small lava flows was recorded in thermal data, satellite imagery, and from a few visits to or overflights of the summit crater by researchers. Intermittent low-level pulses of thermal activity appeared in MIROVA data a few times during the period (figure 187). Most months, Sentinel-2 satellite imagery generated six images with varying numbers of days that had a clear view of the summit and showed black and white color contrasts from fresh and cooled lava and/or thermal anomalies (table 27, figures 188-191). Lava flows came from multiple source vents within the crater, produced linear flows, and covered large areas of the crater floor. Thermal anomalies were located in different areas of the crater; multiple anomalies from different source vents were visible many months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 187. Intermittent low-level pulses of thermal activity were recorded in the MIROVA thermal data a few times between 21 October 2018 and the end of August 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Table 27. The number of days each month with Sentinel-2 images of Ol Doinyo Lengai, days with clear views of the summit showing detectable color contrasts between black and white lava, and days with detectable thermal anomalies within the summit crater. A clear summit means more than half the summit visible or features identifiable through diffuse cloud cover. Information courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Month Sentinel-2 Images Clear Summit with Lava Color Contrasts Thermal anomalies
Sep 2018 6 5 5
Oct 2018 7 4 3
Nov 2018 6 2 0
Dec 2018 5 1 1
Jan 2019 6 5 3
Feb 2019 6 5 6
Mar 2019 6 5 5
Apr 2019 6 1 0
May 2019 6 3 2
Jun 2019 6 3 3
Jul 2019 6 5 5
Aug 2019 6 5 3
Figure (see Caption) Figure 188. Sentinel-2 imagery of Ol Doinyo Lengai from September 2018 showed examples of the changing color contrasts of fresh black lava which quickly cools to whitish-brown (top row) and varying intensities and numbers of thermal anomalies on the same days (bottom row). It is clear that the color and thermal patterns change several times during the month even with only a few days of available imagery. Dates of images from left to right are 11, 16, and 21 September. The summit crater is 300 m across and 100 m deep. The top row is with Natural color rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) and the bottom row is with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 189. Contrasting patterns of dark and light lava flows within the summit crater of Ol Doinyo Lengai on 1 (left) and 11 (right) October 2018 show how quickly new dark flows cool to a lighter color. The flow on 1 October appears to originate in the E part of the crater; the flow in the crater on 11 October has a source in the N part of the crater. These Sentinel-2 images use Natural color rendering (bands 4,3,2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 190. A large flow at Ol Doinyo Lengai on 3 February 2019 filled most of the summit crater with lobes of black lava (top left) and generated one of the strongest thermal signatures of the period (top right) in these Sentinel-2 satellite images. On 20 March 2019, a small dark area of fresh material contrasted sharply with the surrounding light-colored material (bottom left); the thermal image of the same data shows a small anomaly near the dark spot (bottom right). The left column is with Natural color rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) and the right column is with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 191. The dark lava spots at Ol Doinyo Lengai on 18 June 2019 (top left) and 28 July 2019 (top center) produced matching thermal anomalies in the Sentinal-2 imagery (bottom left and center). On days when the summit was partly obscured by clouds such as 27 August (top right), the strong thermal signal from the summit still confirmed fresh flow activity (bottom right). The top row is with Natural color rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) and the bottom row is with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Information from site visits and overflights. Minor steam and gas emissions were visible from the summit crater during an overflight on 29 September 2018. Geologist Cin-Ty Lee captured excellent images of the W flank on 20 October 2018 (figure 192). The large circular crater at the base of the flank is the 'Oldoinyo' Maar (Graettinger, 2018a and 2018b). A view into the crater from an overflight that day (figure 193) showed clear evidence of at least five areas of dark, fresh lava. An effusive eruption was visible on the crater floor on 2 March 2019 (figure 194).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 192. A large maar stands out at the base of the SW flank of Ol Doinyo Lengai on 20 October 2018. Courtesy of Cin-Ty Lee (Rice University).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 193. A view into the summit crater of Ol Doinyo Lengai on 20 October 2018 shows clear evidence of recent flow activity in the form of multiple dark spots of fresh lava that has recently emerged from hornitos and fissures. The lava cools to a pale color very quickly, forming the contrasting background to the fresh flows. The summit crater is 300 m across and 100 m deep. Courtesy of Cin-Ty Lee (Rice University).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 194. A view into the crater floor at Ol Doinyo Lengai on 2 March 2019 showed a vent with both fresh (dark brown) and cooled (gray-white) carbonatite lavas and hornitos on the floor of the crater. The darkest material on the crater floor is from recent flows. Courtesy of Aman Laizer, Tanzania.

Research expedition in July-August 2019. In late July and early August 2019 an expedition, sponsored by the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) and led by researchers Kate Laxton and Emma Liu (University College London), made gas measurements, collected lava samples for the first time in 12 years, and deployed drones to gather data and images. The Ol Doinyo Lengai sampling team included Papkinye Lemolo, Boni Kicha, Ignas Mtui, Boni Mawe, Amedeus Mtui, Emma Liu, Arno Van Zyl, Kate Laxton, and their driver, Baraka. They collected samples by lowering devices via ropes and pulleys into the crater and photographed numerous active flows emerging from vents and hornitos on the crater floor (figure 195). By analyzing the composition of the first lava samples collected since the volcano's latest explosive activity in 2007, they hope to learn about recent changes to its underground plumbing system. A comparison of the satellite image taken on 28 July with a drone image of the summit crater taken by them the next day (figure 196) confirms the effectiveness of both the satellite imagery in identifying new flow features on the crater floor, and the drone imagery in providing outstanding details of activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 195. Researchers Kate Laxton and Emma Liu collected gas and lava samples at the summit of Ol Doinyo Lengai during their 26 July-4 August 2019 expedition. They sent gas sampling devices (small white "hamster ball" in center of left image) and lava sampling devices (right) down into the crater via ropes and pulleys. The crater is 300 m across and 100 m deep. Courtesy of Kate Laxton (University College London).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 196. A clear view by drone straight down into the crater at Ol Doinyo Lengai on 29 July 2019 provides valuable information about ongoing activity at the remote volcano. N is to the top. The summit crater is 300 m across and 100 m deep. The same configuration of fresh and cooled lava can be seen in Sentinel-2 imagery taken on 28 July 2019 (inset, N to the top). Courtesy of Emma Liu (University College London) and Sentinel Hub Playground.

With the drone technology, they were able to make close-up observations of features on the north crater floor such as the large hornito on the inner W wall of the crater (figure 197), an active lava pond near the center of the crater (figure 198), and several flows resurfacing the floor of the crater while they were there (figure 199). A large crack that rings the base of the N cone had enlarged significantly since last measured in 2014 (figure 200).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 197. A closeup view of the large hornito in the W wall of the Ol Doinyo Lengai summit crater on 26 July 2019 shows recent activity from the vent (dark material). See figure 197 for location of hornito against W wall. View is to the NW. Courtesy of Emma Liu (University College London).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 198. Incandescence from the lava pond in the center of the crater was still visible at 0627 on 29 July 2019 at Ol Doinyo Lengai; incandescence from the large hornito in the NW quadrant (behind the lava pond) had been visible when the researchers arrived at the summit at about 0500 that morning. The crater floor is continually resurfaced by ultra-low viscosity natrocarbonatite lava flows. The lava hydrates on contact with air within hours, changing color from black to grey/white in a very short time. View towards the N. Courtesy of Kate Laxton (University College London).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 199. On 30 July 2019 a lava flow from a hornito cluster resurfaced the NE quadrant of the crater floor at Ol Doinyo Lengai. The initial outbreak occurred at 0819, was vigorous, and ended by 0823. Lava continued to flow out of the hornito cluster at intervals throughout the day. Image facing NE, courtesy of Kate Laxton (University College London).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 200. The circumferential crack near the base of the N cone of Ol Doinyo Lengai is seen here being inspected by Emma Liu on 30 July 2019 where it intersects the Western Summit Trail. View is to the S. Significant widening of the crack is seen when compared with a similar image of the same crack from March 2014 (figure 172, BGVN 39:07). Local observers reported that the crack continued to widen after July 2019. Courtesy of Kate Laxton (University College London).

The color of the flows on the crater floor changed from grays and browns to blues and greens after a night of rainfall on 31 July 2019 (figure 201). Much of the lava pond surface was crusted over that day, but the large hornito in the NW quadrant was still active (figure 202), and both the pond and another hornito produced flows that merged onto the crater floor (figure 203).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 201. The active crater at Ol Doinyo Lengai is on the north side of and slightly below the topographic summit of the mountain (in the background). After overnight rain, lava flows on the crater floor turned various shades of greys, whites, blues, and greens on 31 July 2019. View to the SW, drone image. Courtesy of Emma Liu (University College London).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 202. A closeup view to the NW of the Ol Doinyo Lengai north crater on 31 July 2019 shows the blue and green tones of the hydrated lavas after the previous night's rains. The lava pond is at high-stand with much of the surface crusted over. The adjacent hornito is still active and breached to the NE. Courtesy of Emma Liu (University College London).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 203. Two fresh lava flows merge over the hydrated crater floor of the north crater at Ol Doinyo Lengai on 31 July 2019. One comes from a small hornito just out of view to the SW (lower right) and the other from the overflowing lava pond (left), merging in the SE quadrant. The colors of the two flows differ; the pond lava appears jet black, and the hornito lava is a lighter shade of brown. View to the SE, courtesy of Emma Liu (University College London).

On 1 August 2019 much of the crater floor was resurfaced by a brown lava that flowed from a hornito E of the lava pond (figure 204). Images of unusual, ephemeral features such as "spatter pots," "frozen jets," and "frothy flows" (figure 205) help to characterize the unusual magmatic activity at this unique volcano (figure 206).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 204. On 1 August 2019 at Ol Doinyo Lengai brown lava flowed from a hornito directly E of the lava pond (above the pond in figure 203) and resurfaced much of the S portion of the crater floor. At the far left of the image, the white (hydrated) lava jet aimed away from the hornito was solidified in mid-flow. View to the SE, courtesy of Emma Liu (University College London).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 205. Frothy pale-brown lava flowed across the SE quadrant of the crater floor (right) at Ol Doinyo Lengai on 4 August 2019 from an uncertain source between the adjacent hornito and lava pond which appears nearly crusted over. Spattering from a "spatter pot" (inset) and a small flow also headed NE from the hornito cluster E of the pond (behind pond). Courtesy of Kate Laxton (University College London).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 206. A view from the summit peak of Ol Doinyo Lengai on 4 August 2019 looking at the entire N cone and the swale between it and the peak. The crack shown in figure 201 rings the base of cone; the main summit trail intersects the crack near the bottom center of the cone. The researcher's campsite on the W flank (left) shows the scale of the cone. The East African Rift wall and Lake Natron are visible in the background on the left and right, respectively. Courtesy of Kate Laxton (University College London).

References: Graettinger, A. H., 2018a, MaarVLS database version 1, (URL: https://vhub.org/resources/4365).

Graettinger, A. H., 2018b, Trends in maar crater size and shape using the global Maar Volcano Location and Shape (MaarVLS) database. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 357, p. 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2018.04.002.

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

Information Contacts: Cin-Ty Lee, Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, Rice University, 6100 Main St., Houston, TX 77005-1827, USA (URL: https://twitter.com/CinTyLee1, images at https://twitter.com/CinTyLee1/status/1054337204577812480, https://earthscience.rice.edu/directory/user/106/); Emma Liu, University College London, UCL Hazards Centre (Volcanology), Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom (URL: https://twitter.com/EmmaLiu31, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/earth-sciences/people/academic/dr-emma-liu); Kate Laxton, University College London, UCL Earth Sciences, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom (URL: https://twitter.com/KateLaxton, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/earth-sciences/people/research-students/kate-laxton); Deep Carbon Observatory, Carnegie Institution for Science, 5251 Broad Branch Road NW, Washington, DC 20015-1305, USA (URL: https://deepcarbon.net/field-report-ol-doinyo-lengai-volcano-tanzania); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Aman Laizer, Volcanologist, Arusha, Tanzania (URL: https://twitter.com/amanlaizerr, image at https://twitter.com/amanlaizerr/status/1102483717384216576).


Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ulawun

Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions on 26 June and 3 August 2019 send plumes above 19 km altitude

Typical activity at Ulawun consists of occasional weak explosions with ash plumes. During 2018 explosions occurred on 8 June, 21 September, and 5 October (BGVN 43:11). The volcano is monitored primarily by the Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) and Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC). This report describes activity from November 2018 through August 2019; no volcanism was noted during this period until late June 2019.

Activity during June-July 2019. RVO reported that Real-time Seismic-Amplitude Measurement (RSAM) values steadily increased during 24-25 June, and then sharply increased at around 0330 on 26 June. The RSAM values reflect an increase in seismicity dominated by volcanic tremor. An eruption began in the morning hours of 26 June with emissions of gray ash (figure 17) that over time became darker and more energetic. The plumes rose 1 km and caused minor ashfall to the NW and SW. Local residents heard roaring and rumbling during 0600-0800.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Photograph of a small ash plume rising from the summit crater of Ulawun taken by a helicopter pilot at 1030 local time on 26 June 2019. According to the pilot, the amount of ash observed was not unusual. Image has been color adjusted from original. Courtesy of Craig Powell.

The Darwin VAAC issued several notices about ash plumes visible in satellite data. These stated that during 1130-1155 ash plumes rose to altitudes of 6.7-8.5 km and drifted W, while ash plumes that rose to 12.8-13.4 km drifted S and SW. A new pulse of activity (figures 17 and 18) generated ash plumes that by 1512 rose to an altitude of 16.8 km and drifted S and SE. By 1730 the ash plume had risen to 19.2 km and spread over 90 km in all directions. Ash from earlier ejections continued to drift S at an altitude of 13.4 km and W at an altitude of 8.5 km. RVO stated that RSAM values peaked at about 2,500 units during 1330-1600, and then dropped to 1,600 units as the eruption subsided.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Photograph of Ulawun taken by a helicopter pilot at 1310 local time on 26 June 2019 showing a tall ash plume rising from the summit crater. Image has been color adjusted from original. Courtesy of Craig Powell.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Photograph of Ulawun taken by a helicopter pilot at 1350 local time on 26 June 2019 showing a close-up view of the ash plume rising from the summit crater along with an area of incandescent ejecta. According to the pilot, this was the most active phase. Image has been color adjusted from original. Courtesy of Craig Powell.

According to RVO, parts of the ash plume at lower altitudes drifted W, causing variable amounts of ashfall in areas to the NW and SW. A pyroclastic flow descended the N flank. Residents evacuated to areas to the NE and W; a news article (Radio New Zealand) noted that around 3,000 people had gathered at a local church. According to another news source (phys.org), an observer in a helicopter reported a column of incandescent material rising from the crater, residents noted that the sky had turned black, and a main road in the N part of the island was blocked by volcanic material. Residents also reported a lava flow near Noau village and Eana Valley. RVO reported that the eruption ceased between 1800 and 1900. Incandescence visible on the N flank was from either a lava flow or pyroclastic flow deposits.

On 27 June diffuse white plumes were reported by RVO as rising from the summit crater and incandescence was visible from pyroclastic or lava flow deposits on the N flank from the activity the day before. The seismic station 11 km NW of the volcano recorded low RSAM values of between 2 and 50. According to the Darwin VAAC a strong thermal anomaly was visible in satellite images, though not after 1200. Ash from 26 June explosions continued to disperse and became difficult to discern in satellite images by 1300, though a sulfur dioxide signal persisted. Ash at an altitude of 13.7 km drifted SW to SE and dissipated by 1620, and ash at 16.8 km drifted NW to NE and dissipated by 1857. RVO noted that at 1300 on 27 June satellite images captured an ash explosion not reported by ground-based observers, likely due to cloudy weather conditions. The Alert Level was lowered to Stage 1 (the lowest level on a four-stage scale).

RSAM values slightly increased at 0600 on 28 June and fluctuated between 80 to 150 units afterwards. During 28-29 June diffuse white plumes continued to rise from the crater (figure 20) and from the North Valley vent. On 29 June a ReliefWeb update stated that around 11,000 evacuated people remained in shelters.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Photograph of the steaming summit crater at Ulawun taken by a helicopter pilot at 0730 local time on 29 June 2019. Image has been color adjusted from original. Courtesy of Craig Powell.

According to RVO, diffuse white plumes rose from Ulawun's summit crater and the North Valley vent during 1-4 July and from the summit only during 5-9 July. The seismic station located 11 km NW of the volcano recorded three volcanic earthquakes and some sporadic, short-duration, volcanic tremors during 1-3 July. The seismic station 2.9 km W of the volcano was restored on 4 July and recorded small sub-continuous tremors. Some discrete high-frequency volcanic earthquakes were also recorded on most days. Sulfur dioxide emissions were 100 tonnes per day on 4 July. According to the United Nations in Papua New Guinea, 7,318 people remained displaced within seven sites because of the 26 June eruption.

Activity during August 2019. During 1-2 August RVO reported that white-to-gray vapor plumes rose from the summit crater and drifted NW. Incandescence from the summit crater was visible at night and jetting noises were audible for a short interval. RSAM values fluctuated but peaked at high levels. During the night of 2-3 August crater incandescence strengthened and roaring noises became louder around 0400. An explosion began between 0430 and 0500 on 3 August; booming noises commenced around 0445. By 0600 dense light-gray ash emissions were drifting NW, causing ashfall in areas downwind, including Ulamona Mission (10 km NW). Ash emissions continued through the day and changed from light to dark gray with time.

The eruption intensified at 1900 and a lava fountain rose more than 100 m above the crater rim. A Plinian ash plume rose 19 km and drifted W and SW, causing ashfall in areas downwind such as Navo and Kabaya, and as far as Kimbe Town (142 km SW). The Darwin VAAC reported that the ash plume expanded radially and reached the stratosphere, rising to an altitude of 19.2 km. The plume then detached and drifted S and then SE.

The Alert Level was raised to Stage 3. The areas most affected by ash and scoria fall were between Navo (W) and Saltamana Estate (NW). Two classrooms at the Navo Primary School and a church in Navo collapsed from the weight of the ash and scoria; one of the classroom roofs had already partially collapsed during the 26 June eruption. Evacuees in tents because of the 26 June explosion reported damage. Rabaul town (132 km NE) also reported ashfall. Seismicity declined rapidly within two hours of the event, though continued to fluctuate at moderate levels. According to a news source (Radio New Zealand, flights in and out of Hoskins airport in Port Moresby were cancelled on 4 August due to tephra fall. The Alert Level was lowered to Stage 1. Small amounts of white and gray vapor were emitted from the summit crater during 4-6 August. RVO reported that during 7-8 August minor emissions of white vapor rose from the summit crater.

Additional observations. Seismicity was dominated by low-level volcanic tremor and remained at low-to-moderate levels. RSAM values fluctuated between 400 and 550 units; peaks did not go above 700. Instruments aboard NASA satellites detected high levels of sulfur dioxide near or directly above the volcano on 26-29 June and 4-6 August 2019.

Thermal anomalies, based on MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm, were observed at Ulawun only on 26 June 2019 (8 pixels by the Terra satellite, 4 pixels by the Aqua satellite). The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected three anomalies during the reporting period, one during the last week of June 2019 and two during the first week of August, all three within 3 km of the volcano and of low to moderate energy.

Geologic Background. The symmetrical basaltic-to-andesitic Ulawun stratovolcano is the highest volcano of the Bismarck arc, and one of Papua New Guinea's most frequently active. The volcano, also known as the Father, rises above the N coast of the island of New Britain across a low saddle NE of Bamus volcano, the South Son. The upper 1,000 m is unvegetated. A prominent E-W escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and E flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side, and a flank lava-flow complex lies to the south of this valley. Historical eruptions date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions were mildly explosive until 1967, but after 1970 several larger eruptions produced lava flows and basaltic pyroclastic flows, greatly modifying the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); 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); ReliefWeb (URL: https://reliefweb.int/); Radio New Zealand (URL: https://www.rnz.co.nz); phys.org (URL: https://phys.org); United Nations in Papua New Guinea (URL: http://pg.one.un.org/content/unct/papua_new_guinea/en/home.html).


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

Sarychev Peak

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plume on 11 August; thermal anomalies from late May to early October 2019

Sarychev Peak, located on Matua Island in the central Kurile Islands of Russia, has had eruptions reported since 1765. Renewed activity began in October 2017, followed by a major eruption in June 2009 that included pyroclastic flows and ash plumes (BGVN 43:11 and 34:06). Thermal anomalies, explosions, and ash plumes took place between September and October 2018. A single ash explosion occurred in May 2019. Another ash plume was seen on 11 August, and small thermal anomalies were present in infrared imagery during June-October 2019. Information is provided by the Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team (SVERT) and the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), with satellite imagery from Sentinel-2.

Satellite images from Sentinel-2 showed small white plumes from Sarychev Peak during clear weather on 4 and 14 August 2019 (figure 27); similar plumes were observed on a total of nine clear weather days between late June and October 2019. According to SVERT and the Tokyo VAAC, satellite data from HIMAWARI-8 showed an ash plume rising to an altitude of 2.7 km and drifting 50 km SE on 11 August. It was visible for a few days before dissipating. No further volcanism was detected by SVERT, and no activity was evident in a 17 August Sentinel-2 image (figure 27).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Small white plumes were visible at Sarychev Peak in Sentinel-2 satellite images on 4 and 14 August 2019 (left and center). No activity was seen on 17 August (right). All three Sentinel-2 images use the "Natural Color" (bands 4, 3, 2) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Intermittent weak thermal anomalies were detected by the MIROVA system using MODIS data from late May through 7 October 2019 (figure 28). Sentinel-2 satellite imagery from 28 June, 13 and 23 July, 9 August, and 21 October showed a very small thermal anomaly, but on 28 September a pronounced thermal anomaly was visible (figure 29). No additional thermal anomalies were identified from any source after 7 October through the end of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Thermal anomalies detected at Sarychev Peak by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) using MODIS data for the year ending on 9 October 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Sentinel-2 satellite images of Sarychev Peak on 23 June and 28 September 2019. A small thermal anomaly is visible on the eastern side of the crater on 23 June (left, indicated by arrow), while the thermal anomaly is more pronounced and visible in the middle of the crater on 28 September (right). Both Sentinel-2 satellite images use the "False Color (Urban)" (bands 12, 11, 4) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team (SVERT), Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Science, Nauki st., 1B, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, 693022 (URL: http://www.imgg.ru/en/, http://www.imgg.ru/ru/svert/reports); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); 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).


Asamayama (Japan) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Asamayama

Japan

36.406°N, 138.523°E; summit elev. 2568 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ashfall from phreatic eruptions on 7 and 25 August 2019

Asamayama (also known as Asama), located in the Kanto-Chubu Region of Japan, previously erupted in June 2015. Activity included increased volcanic seismicity, small eruptions which occasionally resulted in ashfall, and SO2 gas emissions (BGVN 41:10). This report covers activity through August 2019, which describes small phreatic eruptions, volcanic seismicity, faint incandescence and commonly white gas plumes, and fluctuating SO2 emissions. The primary source of information for this report is provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

Activity during October 2016-May 2019. From October 2016 through December 2017, a high-sensitivity camera captured faint incandescence at night accompanied by white gas plumes rising above the crater to an altitude ranging 100-800 m (figure 44). A thermal anomaly and faint incandescence accompanied by a white plume near the summit was observed at night on 6-7 and 21 January 2017. These thermal anomalies were recorded near the central part of the crater bottom in January, February, and November 2017, and in May 2019. After December 2017 the faint incandescence was not observed, with an exception on 18 July 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. A surveillance camera observed faint incandescence at Asamayama in February 2017. Left: Onimushi surveillance camera taken at 0145 on 5 February 2017. Right: Kurokayama surveillance camera taken at 0510 on 1 February 2017. Courtesy of JMA (Monthly Report for February 2017).

Field surveys on 6, 16, and 28 December 2016 reported an increased amount of SO2 gas emissions from November 2016 (100-600 tons/day) to March 2017 (1,300-3,200 tons/day). In April 2017 the SO2 emissions decreased (600-1,500 tons/day). Low-frequency shallow volcanic tremors decreased in December 2016; none were observed in January 2017. From February 2017 through June 2018 volcanic tremors occurred more intermittently. According to the monthly JMA Reports on February 2017 and December 2018 and data from the Geographical Survey Institute's Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), a slight inflation between the north and south baseline was recorded starting in fall 2016 through December 2018. This growth become stagnant at some of the baselines in October 2017.

Activity during August 2019. On 7 August 2019 a small phreatic eruption occurred at the summit crater and continued for about 20 minutes, resulting in an ash plume that rose to a maximum altitude of 1.8 km, drifting N and an associated earthquake and volcanic tremor (figure 45). According to the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory (VAAC), this plume rose 4.6 km, based on satellite data from HIMAWARI-8. A surveillance camera observed a large volcanic block was ejected roughly 200 m from the crater. According to an ashfall survey conducted by the Mobile Observation Team on 8 August, slight ashfall occurred in the Tsumagoi Village (12 km N) and Naganohara Town (19 km NE), Gunma Prefecture (figure 46 and 47). About 2 g/m2 of ash deposit was measured by the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Immediately after the eruption on 7 August, seismicity, volcanism, and SO2 emissions temporarily increased and then decreased that same day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Surveillance camera images of Asamayama showing the small eruption at the summit crater on 7 August 2019, resulting in incandescence and a plume rising 1.8 km altitude. Both photos were taken on 7 August 2019.Courtesy of JMA (Monthly Report for August 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. A photomicrograph of fragmented ejecta (250-500 µm) from Asamayama deposited roughly 5 km from the crater as a result of the eruption on 7 August 2019. Courtesy of JMA (Monthly Report for August 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Photos of ashfall in a nearby town NNE of Asamayama due to the 7 August 2019 eruption. Courtesy of JMA (Daily Report for 8 August 2019).

Another eruption at the summit crater on 25 August 2019 was smaller than the one on 7 August. JMA reported the resulting ash plume rose to an altitude of 600 m and drifted E. However, the Tokyo VAAC reported that the altitude of the plume up to 3.4 km, according to satellite data from HIMAWARI-8. A small amount of ashfall occurred in Karuizawa-machi, Nagano (4 km E), according to interview surveys and the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Geologic Background. Asamayama, Honshu's most active volcano, overlooks the resort town of Karuizawa, 140 km NW of Tokyo. The volcano is located at the junction of the Izu-Marianas and NE Japan volcanic arcs. The modern Maekake cone forms the summit and is situated east of the horseshoe-shaped remnant of an older andesitic volcano, Kurofuyama, which was destroyed by a late-Pleistocene landslide about 20,000 years before present (BP). Growth of a dacitic shield volcano was accompanied by pumiceous pyroclastic flows, the largest of which occurred about 14,000-11,000 BP, and by growth of the Ko-Asama-yama lava dome on the east flank. Maekake, capped by the Kamayama pyroclastic cone that forms the present summit, is probably only a few thousand years old and has an historical record dating back at least to the 11th century CE. Maekake has had several major plinian eruptions, the last two of which occurred in 1108 (Asamayama's largest Holocene eruption) and 1783 CE.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, 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 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/).


Villarrica (Chile) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Villarrica

Chile

39.42°S, 71.93°W; summit elev. 2847 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strombolian activity continued during March-August 2019 with an increase in July

Villarrica is a frequently active volcano in Chile with an active lava lake in the deep summit crater. It has been producing intermittent Strombolian activity since February 2015, soon after the latest reactivation of the lava lake; similar activity continued into 2019. This report summarizes activity during March-August 2019 and is based on reports from the Southern Andes Volcano Observatory (Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur, OVDAS), part of Chile's National Service of Geology and Mining (Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería, SERNAGEOMIN), Projecto Observación Villarrica Internet (POVI), part of the Fundacion Volcanes de Chile research group, and satellite data.

OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN reported that degassing continued through March with a plume reaching 150 m above the crater with visible incandescence through the nights. The lava lake activity continued to fluctuate and deformation was also recorded. POVI reported sporadic Strombolian activity throughout the month with incandescent ejecta reaching around 25 m above the crater on 17 and 24 March, and nearly 50 m above the crater on the 20th (figure 76).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. A webcam image of Villarrica at 0441 on 20 March 2019 shows Strombolian activity and incandescent ejecta reaching nearly 50 m above the crater. People are shown for scale in the white box to the left in the blue background image that was taken on 27 March. Photos taken about 6 km away from the volcano, courtesy of POVI.

There was a slight increase in Strombolian activity reported on 7-8 April, with incandescent ballistic ejecta reaching around 50 m above the crater (figure 77). Although seismicity was low during 14-15 April, Strombolian activity produced lava fountains up to 70 m above the crater over those two days (figure 78). Activity continued into May with approximately 12 Strombolian explosions recorded on the night of 5-6 May erupting incandescent ejecta up to 50 m above the crater rim. Another lava fountaining episode was observed reaching around 70 m above the crater on 14 May (figure 79). POVI also noted that while this was one of the largest events since 2015, no significant changes in activity had been observed over the last five months. Throughout May, OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN reported that the gas plume height did not exceed 170 m above the crater and incandescence was sporadically observed when weather allowed. SWIR (short-wave infrared) thermal data showed an increase in energy towards the end of May (figure 80).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Strombolian activity at Villarrica on 7-8 April 2019 producing incandescent ballistic ejecta reaching around 50 m above the crater. Courtesy of POVI.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Images of Villarrica on 15 April show a lava fountain that reached about 70 m above the crater. Courtesy of POVI.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. These images of Villarrica taken at 0311 and 2220 on 14 May 2019 show lava fountaining reaching 70-73 m above the crater. Courtesy of POVI.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. This graph shows the variation in short-wave infrared (SWIR) energy with the vertical scale indicating the number of pixels displaying high temperatures between 23 June 2018 and 29 May 2019. Courtesy of POVI.

Ballistic ejecta were observed above the crater rim on 17 and 20 June 2019 (figure 81), and activity was heard on 20 and 21 June. Activity throughout the month remained similar to previous months, with a fluctuating lava lake and minor explosions. On 15 July a thermal camera imaged a ballistic bomb landing over 300 m from the crater and disintegrating upon impact. Incandescent material was sporadically observed on 16 July. Strombolian activity increased on 22 July with the highest intensity activity in four years continuing through the 25th (figure 82).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. Ballistic ejecta is visible above the Villarrica crater in this infrared camera (IR940 nm) image taken on 17 June 2019. Courtesy of POVI.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. Strombolian activity at Villarrica on 22, 23, and 24 July with incandescent ballistic ejecta seen here above the summit crater. Courtesy of POVI.

On 6 August the Alert Level was raised by SERNAGEOMIN from Green to Yellow (on a scale of Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red indicating the greatest level of activity) due to activity being above the usual background level, including ejecta confirmed out to 200 m from the crater with velocities on the order of 100 km/hour (figure 83). The temperature of the lava lake was measured at a maximum of 1,000°C on 25 July. POVI reported the collapse of a segment of the eastern crater rim, possibly due to snow weight, between 9 and 12 August. The MIROVA system showed an increase in thermal energy in August (figure 84) and there was one MODVOLC thermal alert on 24 July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Observations during an overflight of Villarrica on 25 July 2019 showed that ballistic ejecta up to 50 cm in diameter had impacted out to 200 m from the crater. The velocities of these ejecta were likely on the order of 100 km/hour. The maximum temperature of the lava lake measured was 1,000°C, and 500°C was measured around the crater. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Thermal activity at Villarrica detected by the MIROVA system shows an increase in detected energy in August 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

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


Reventador (Ecuador) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Reventador

Ecuador

0.077°S, 77.656°W; summit elev. 3562 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Daily ash emissions and incandescent block avalanches continue, February-July 2019

The andesitic Volcán El Reventador lies east of the main volcanic axis of the Cordillera Real in Ecuador and has historical eruptions with numerous lava flows and explosive events going back to the 16th century. An eruption in November 2002 generated a 17-km-high eruption cloud, pyroclastic flows that traveled 8 km, and several lava flows. Eruptive activity has been continuous since 2008. Daily explosions with ash emissions and ejecta of incandescent blocks rolling hundreds of meters down the flanks have been typical for many years. Alameida et al. (2019) provide an excellent summary of recent activity (2016-2018) and monitoring. Activity continued during February-July 2019, the period covered in this report, with information provided by Ecuador's Instituto Geofisico (IG-EPN), the Washington Volcano Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and infrared satellite data.

Persistent thermal activity accompanied daily ash emissions and incandescent block avalanches during February-July 2019 (figure 111). Ash plumes generally rose 600-1,200 m above the summit crater and drifted W or NW; incandescent blocks descended up to 800 m down all the flanks. On 25 February an ash plume reached 9.1 km altitude and drifted SE, causing ashfall in nearby communities. Pyroclastic flows were reported on 18 April and 19 May traveling 500 m down the flanks. Small but distinct SO2 emissions were detectible by satellite instruments a few times during the period (figure 112).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. The thermal energy at Reventador persisted throughout 4 November 2018 through July 2019, but was highest in April and May. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. Small SO2 plumes were released from Reventador and detected by satellite instruments only a few times during February-July 2019. Columbia's Nevada del Ruiz produced a much larger SO2 signal during each of the days shown here as well. Top left: 26 February; top right: 27 February; bottom left: 3 April; bottom right: 4 April. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Washington VAAC issued multiple daily ash advisories on all but two days during February 2019. IGEPN reported daily ash emissions rising from 400 to over 1,000 m above the summit crater. Incandescent block avalanches rolled 400-800 m down the flanks on most nights (figure 113). Late on 8 February the Washington VAAC reported an ash plume moving W at 5.8 km altitude extending 10 km from the summit. Plumes rising more than 1,000 m above the summit were reported on 9, 13, 16, 18, 19, and 25 February. On 25 February the Washington VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery drifting SE from the summit at 9.1 km altitude that dissipated quickly, and drifted SSE. It was followed by new ash clouds at 7.6 km altitude that drifted S. Ashfall was reported in San Luis in the Parish of Gonzalo Díaz de Pineda by UMEVA Orellana and the Chaco Fire Department.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 113. Emission of ash from Reventador and incandescent blocks rolling down the cone occurred daily during February 2019, and were captured by the COPETE webcam located on the S rim of the caldera. On 1 February (top left) incandescent blocks rolled 600 m down the flanks. On 13 February (top right) ash plumes rose 800 m and drifted W. On 16 February (bottom left) ash rose to 1,000 m and drifted W. On 18 February (bottom right) the highest emission exceeded 1,000 m above the crater and was clearly visible in spite of meteoric clouds obscuring the volcano. Courtesy of IGEPN (Daily reports 2019-32, 44, 47, and 49).

Ash plumes exceeded 1,000 m in height above the summit almost every day during March 2019 and generally drifted W or NW. The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume visible above the cloud deck at 6.7 km altitude extending 25 km NW early on 3 March; there were no reports of ashfall nearby. Incandescent block avalanches rolled 800 m down all the flanks the previous night; they were visible moving 300-800 m down the flanks most nights throughout the month (figure 114).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 114. Ash plumes and incandescent block avalanches occurred daily at Reventador during March 2019 and were captured by the COPETE webcam on the S rim of the caldera. On 3 March (top left) a possible pyroclastic flow traveled down the E flank in the early morning. Ash plumes on 17 and 18 March (top right, bottom left) rose 900-1,000 m above the summit and drifted W. On 23 March (bottom right) ash plumes rose to 1,000 m and drifted N while incandescent blocks rolled 600 m down the flanks. Courtesy of IGEPN (Daily reports 2019 62, 76, 77, and 82).

During April 2019 ash plume heights ranged from 600 to over 1,000 m above the summit each day, drifting either W or NW. Incandescent avalanche blocks rolled down all the flanks for hundreds of meters daily; the largest explosions sent blocks 800 m from the summit (figure 115). On 18 April IGEPN reported that a pyroclastic flow the previous afternoon had traveled 500 m down the NE flank.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 115. Ash plumes and incandescent block avalanches occurred daily at Reventador during April 2019. On 3 April, ash emissions were reported drifting W and NW at 1,000 m above the summit (top left). On 14 April ash plumes rose over 600 m above the summit crater (top right). The 3 and 14 April images were taken from the LAVCAM webcam on the SE flank. Incandescent block avalanches descended 800 m down all the flanks on 15 April along with ash plumes rising over 1,000 m above the summit (bottom left), both visible in this image from the COPETE webcam on the S rim of the caldera. A pyroclastic flow descended 500 m down the NE flank on 17 April and was captured in the thermal REBECA webcam (bottom right) located on the N rim of the caldera. Courtesy of IGEPN (Daily reports 2019-93, 104, 105, and 108).

On most days during May 2019, incandescent block avalanches were observed traveling 700-800 m down all the flanks. Ash plume heights ranged from 600 to 1,200 m above the crater each day of the month (figure 116) they were visible. A pyroclastic flow was reported during the afternoon of 19 May that moved 500 m down the N flank.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 116. Even on days with thick meteoric clouds, ash plumes can be observed at Reventador. The ash plumes reached 1,000 m above the crater on 8 May 2019 (top left). The infrared webcam REBECA on the N rim of the caldera captured a pyroclastic flow on the N flank on the afternoon of 19 May (top right). Strong explosions on 23 May sent incandescent blocks and possible pyroclastic flows at least 800 m down all the flanks (bottom left). Ash plumes reached 1,000 m above the summit on 27 May and drifted W (bottom right). Images on 8, 23, and 27 May taken from the COPETE webcam on the S rim of the caldera. Courtesy of IGEPN (Daily Reports 2019-128, 140, 143, and 147).

Activity diminished somewhat during June 2019. Ash plumes reached 1,200 m above the summit early in June but decreased to 600 m or less for the second half of the month. Meteoric clouds prevented observation for most of the third week of June; VAAC reports indicated ash emissions rose to 5.2 km altitude on 19 June and again on 26 June (about 2 km above the crater). Incandescent blocks were reported traveling down all of the flanks, generally 500-800 m, during about half of the days the mountain was visible (figure 117). Multiple VAAC reports were also issued daily during July 2019. Ash plumes were reported by IGEPN rising over 600 m above the crater every day it was visible and incandescent blocks traveled 400-800 m down the flanks (figure 118). The Darwin VAAC reported an ash emission on 9 July that rose to 4.9 km altitude as multiple puffs that drifted W, extending about 35 km from the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 117. Activity diminished slightly at Reventador during June 2019. Incandescent material was visible on the N flank from infrared webcam REBECA on the N rim of the caldera on 6 June (top left). On 7 June ash rose over 1,000 m above the summit and drifted N and W (top right) as seen from the COPETE webcam on the S rim of the caldera. Incandescent block avalanches rolled 600 m down all the flanks on 8 June (bottom left) and were photographed by the LAVCAM webcam located on the SE flank. An ash plume rose to 1,000 m on 25 June and was photographed from the San Rafael waterfall (bottom right). Courtesy of IGEPN (Daily Reports 2019-157, 158, 159, and 176).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 118. Daily explosive activity was reported at Reventador during July 2019. On 9 and 10 July ash plumes rose over 600 m and drifted W and incandescent blocks descended 800 m down all the flanks (top row), as seen from the LAVCAM webcam on the SE flank. On 27 July many of the large incandescent blocks appeared to be several m in diameter as they descended the flanks (bottom left, LAVCAM). On 1 August, a small steam plume was visible on a clear morning from the CORTESIA webcam located N of the volcano. Courtesy of IGEPN Daily reports (2019-190, 191, 208, and 213).

References: Almeida M, Gaunt H E, and Ramón P, 2019, Ecuador's El Reventador volcano continually remakes itself, Eos, 100, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019EO117105. Published on 18 March 2019.

Geologic Background. Reventador is the most frequently active of a chain of Ecuadorian volcanoes in the Cordillera Real, well east of the principal volcanic axis. The forested, dominantly andesitic Volcán El Reventador stratovolcano rises to 3562 m above the jungles of the western Amazon basin. A 4-km-wide caldera widely breached to the east was formed by edifice collapse and is partially filled by a young, unvegetated stratovolcano that rises about 1300 m above the caldera floor to a height comparable to the caldera rim. It has been the source of numerous lava flows as well as explosive eruptions that were visible from Quito in historical time. Frequent lahars in this region of heavy rainfall have constructed a debris plain on the eastern floor of the caldera. The largest historical eruption took place in 2002, producing a 17-km-high eruption column, pyroclastic flows that traveled up to 8 km, and lava flows from summit and flank vents.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec ); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).


Raikoke (Russia) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Raikoke

Russia

48.292°N, 153.25°E; summit elev. 551 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Short-lived series of large explosions 21-23 June 2019; first recorded activity in 95 years

Raikoke in the central Kuril Islands lies 400 km SW of the southern tip of Russia's Kamchatcka Peninsula. Two significant eruptive events in historical times, including fatalities, have been recorded. In 1778 an eruption killed 15 people "under the hail of bombs" who were under the command of Captain Chernyi, returning from Matua to Kamchatka. This prompted the Russian military to order the first investigation of the volcanic character of the island two years later (Gorshkov, 1970). Tanakadate (1925) reported that travelers on a steamer witnessed an ash plume rising from the island on 15 February 1924, observed that the island was already covered in ash from recent activity, and noted that a dense steam plume was visible for a week rising from the summit crater. The latest eruptive event in June 2019 produced a very large ash plume that covered the island with ash and dispersed ash and gases more than 10 km high into the atmosphere. The volcano is monitored by the Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team, (SVERT) part of the Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IMGG FEB RAS) and the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) which is part of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS).

A brief but intense eruption beginning on 21 June 2019 sent major ash and sulfur dioxide plumes into the stratosphere (figures 1 and 2); the plumes rapidly drifted over 1,000 km from the volcano. Strong explosions with dense ash plumes lasted for less than 48 hours, minor emissions continued for a few more days; the SO2, however, continued to circulate over far eastern Russia and the Bering Sea for more than three weeks after the initial explosion. The eruption covered the island with centimeters to meters of ash and enlarged the summit crater. By the end of July 2019 only minor intermittent steam emissions were observed in satellite imagery.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. On the morning of 22 June 2019, astronauts on the International Space Station captured this image of a large ash plume rising from Raikoke in the Kuril Islands. The plume reached altitudes of 10-13 km and drifted E during the volcano's first known explosion in 95 years. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. A large and very dense SO2 plume (measuring over 900 Dobson Units (DU)) drifted E from Raikoke in the Kuril Islands on 22 June 2019, about 8 hours after the first known explosion in 95 years. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Summary of 2019 activity. A powerful eruption at Raikoke began at 1805 on 21 June 2019 (UTC). Volcano Observatory Notices for Aviation (VONA's) issued by KVERT described the large ash plume that rapidly rose to 10-13 km altitude and extended for 370 km NE within the first two hours (figure 3). After eight hours, the plume extended 605 km ENE; it had reached 1,160 km E by 13 hours after the first explosion (figure 4). The last strong explosive event, according to KVERT, producing an ash column as high as 10-11 km, occurred at 0540 UTC on 22 June. SVERT reported a series of nine explosions during the eruption. Over 440 lightning events within the ash plume were detected in the first 24 hours by weather-monitoring equipment. The Japanese Ministry of Transportation reported that almost 40 planes were diverted because of the ash plume (figure 5).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. A dense ash plume drifted E from Raikoke on 22 June 2019 from a series of large explosions that lasted for less than 24 hours, as seen in this Terra satellite image. The plume was detected in the atmosphere for several days after the end of the eruptive activity. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. The ash plume from Raikoke volcano that erupted on 21 June 2019 drifted over 1,000 km E by late in the day on 22 June, as seen in this oblique, composite view based on data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Numerous airplanes were traveling on flight paths near the Raikoke ash plume (black streak at center) early on 22 June 2019. The Japanese Ministry of Transportation reported that almost 40 planes were diverted because of the plume. Courtesy of Flightradar24 and Volcano Discovery.

On 23 June (local time) the cruise ship Athena approached the island; expedition member Nikolai Pavlov provided an eyewitness account and took remarkable drone photographs of the end of the eruption. The ship approached the W flank of the island in the late afternoon and they were able to launch a drone and photograph the shore and the summit. They noted that the entire surface of the island was covered with a thick layer of light-colored ash up to several tens of centimeters thick (figure 6). Fresh debris up to several meters thick fanned out from the base of the slopes (figure 7). The water had a yellowish-greenish tint and was darker brown closer to the shore. Dark-brown steam explosions occurred when waves flowed over hot areas along the shoreline, now blanketed in pale ash with bands of steam and gas rising from it (figure 8). A dense brown ash plume drifted W from the crater, rising about 1.5 km above the summit (figure 9).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. The entire surface of the island of Raikoke was covered with a thick layer of light-colored ash up to several tens of centimeters thick on 23 June 2019 when photographed by drone from the cruise ship Athena about 36 hours after the explosions began. View is of the W flank. Photo by Nik Pavlov; courtesy of IVS FEB RAS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Fresh ash and volcanic debris up to several meters thick coated the flanks of Raikoke on 23 June 2019 after the large explosive eruption two days earlier. View is by drone of the W flank. Photo by Nik Pavlov; courtesy of IVS FEB RAS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. The 21 June 2019 eruption of Raikoke covered the island in volcanic debris. The formerly vegetated areas (left, before eruption) were blanketed in pale ash with bands of steam and gas rising all along the shoreline (right, on 23 June 2019) less than two days after the explosions began. The open water area between the sea stack and the island was filled with tephra. Photos by Nik Pavlov; courtesy of IVS FEB RAS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. At the summit of Raikoke on 23 June 2019, a dense brown ash plume drifted W from the crater, rising about 1.5 km, two days after a large explosive eruption. Drone photo by Nik Pavlov; courtesy of IVS FEB RAS.

Early on 23 June, the large ash cloud continued to drift E and then NE at an altitude of 10-13 km. At that altitude, the leading edge of the ash cloud became entrained in a large low pressure system and began rotating from SE to NW, centered in the area of the Komandorskiye Islands, 1,200 km NE of Raikoke. By then the farthest edge of ash plume was located about 2,000 km ENE of the volcano. Meanwhile, at the summit and immediately above, the ash plume was drifting NW on 23 June (figures 9 and 10). Ashfall was reported (via Twitter) from a ship in the Pacific Ocean 40 km from Raikoke on 23 June. Weak ashfall was also reported in Paramushir, over 300 km NE the same day. KVERT reported that satellite data from 25 June indicated that a steam and gas plume, possibly with some ash, extended for 60 km NW. They also noted that the high-altitude "aerosol cloud" continued to drift to the N and W, reaching a distance of 1,700 km NW (see SO2 discussion below). By 27 June KVERT reported that the eruption had ended, but the aerosols continued to drift to the NW and E. They lowered the Aviation Alert Level to Green the following day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. The brown ash plume from Raikoke was drifting NW on 23 June 2019 (left), while the remnants of the ash from the earlier explosions continued to be observed over a large area to the NE on 25 June (right). The plume in the 23 June image extends about 30 km NW; the plume in the 25 June image extends a similar distance NE. Natural color rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) of Sentinel-2 imagery, courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Tokyo and Anchorage VAAC Reports. The Tokyo VAAC first observed the ash plume in satellite imagery at 10.4 km altitude at 1850 on 21 June 209, just under an hour after the explosion was first reported by KVERT. About four hours later they updated the altitude to 13.1 km based on satellite data and a pilot report. By the evening of 22 June the high-level ash plume was still drifting ESE at about 13 km altitude while a secondary plume at 4.6 km altitude drifted SE for a few more hours before dissipating. The direction of the high-altitude plume began to shift to the NNW by 0300 on 23 June. By 0900 it had dropped slightly to 12.2 km and was drifting NE. The Anchorage VAAC reported at 2030 that the ash plume was becoming obscured by meteorological clouds around a large and deep low-pressure system in the western Bering Sea. Ash and SO2 signals in satellite imagery remained strong over the region S and W of the Pribilof Islands as well as over the far western Bering Sea adjacent to Russia. By early on 24 June the plume drifted NNW for a few hours before rotating back again to a NE drift direction. By the afternoon of 24 June, the altitude had dropped slightly to 11.6 km as it continued to drift NNE.

The ash plume was still clearly visible in satellite imagery late on 24 June. An aircraft reported SO2 at 14.3 km altitude above the area of the ash plume. The plume then began to move in multiple directions; the northern part moved E, while the southern part moved N. The remainder was essentially stationary, circulating around a closed low-pressure zone in the western Bering Sea. The ash plume remained stationary and slowly dissipated as it circulated around the low through 25 June before beginning to push S (figure 11). By early on 26 June the main area of the ash plume was between 325 km WSW of St. Matthew Island and 500 km NNW of St. Lawrence Island, and moving slowly NW. The Anchorage VAAC could no longer detect the plume in satellite imagery shortly after midnight (UTC) on 27 June, although they noted that areas of aerosol haze and SO2 likely persisted over the western Bering Sea and far eastern Russia.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. This RGB image created from a variety of spectral channels from the GOES-17 (GOES-West) satellite shows the ash and gas plume from Raikoke on 25 June 2019. The brighter yellows highlight features that are high in SO2 concentration. Highlighted along the bottom of the image is the pilot report over the far southern Bering Sea; the aircraft was flying at an altitude of 11 km (36,000 feet), and the pilot remarked that there were multiple layers seen below that altitude which had a greyish appearance (likely volcanic ash). Courtesy of NOAA and Scott Bachmeier.

Sulfur dioxide emissions. A very large SO2 plume was released during the eruption. Preliminary total SO2 mass estimates by Simon Carn taken from both UV and IR sensors suggested around 1.4-1.5 Tg (1 Teragram = 109 Kg) that included SO2 columns within the ash plume with values as high as 1,000 Dobson Units (DU) (figure 12). As the plume drifted on 23 and 24 June, similar to the ash plume as described by the Tokyo VAAC, it moved in a circular flow pattern as a result of being entrained in a low-pressure system in the western Bering Sea (figure 13). By 25 June the NW edge of the SO2 had reached far eastern Russia, 1,700 km from the volcano (as described by KVERT), while the eastern edges reached across Alaska and the Gulf of Alaska to the S. Two days later streams of SO2 from Raikoke were present over far northern Siberia and northern Canada (figure 14). For the following three weeks high levels of SO2 persisted over far eastern Russia and the Bering Sea, demonstrating the close relationship between the prevailing weather patterns and the aerosol concentrations from the volcano (figure 15).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. A contour map showing the mass and density of SO2 released into the atmosphere from Raikoke on 22 June 2019. Courtesy of Simon Carn.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Streams of SO2 from Raikoke drifted around a complex flow pattern in the Bering Sea on 23 and 24 June 2019. Data from TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite, courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Simon Carn.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. SO2 plumes from Raikoke dispersed over a large area of the northern hemisphere in late June 2019. By 25 June (top) the SO2 plumes had dispersed to far eastern Russia, 1,700 km from the volcano, while the eastern edges reached across Alaska and the Gulf of Alaska to the S. By 27 June (bottom) streams of SO2 were present over far northern Siberia and northern Canada, and also continued to circulate in a denser mass over far eastern Russia. Data from TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite, courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Simon Carn.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. For the first two weeks of July 2019, high levels of SO2 from the 21 June 2019 eruption of Raikoke persisted over far eastern Russia and the Bering Sea entrained in a slow moving low-pressure system, demonstrating the close relationship between the prevailing weather patterns and the aerosol concentrations from the volcano. Data from TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite, courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Changes to the island. Since no known activity had occurred at Raikoke for 95 years, the island was well vegetated on most of its slopes and the inner walls of the summit crater before the explosion (figure 16). The first clear satellite image after the explosion, on 30 June 2019, revealed a modest steam plume rising from the summit crater, pale-colored ash surrounding the entire island, and new deposits of debris fans extending out from the NE, SW, and S flanks. Part of a newly enlarged crater was visible at the N edge of the old crater. Two weeks later only a small steam plume was present at the summit, making the outline of the enlarged crater more visible; the extensive shoreline deposits of fresh volcanic material remained. A clear view into the summit crater on 23 July revealed the size and shape of the newly enlarged summit crater (figure 17).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Changes at Raikoke before and after the 21 June 2019 eruption were clear in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery. The island was heavily vegetated on most of its slopes and the inner walls of the summit crater before the explosion (top left, 3 June 2019). The first clear satellite image after the explosion, on 30 June 2019 revealed a steam plume rising from the summit crater, pale-colored ash surrounding the entire island, and new deposits of debris fans extending out from the NE, SW, and S flanks (top right). Part of a newly enlarged crater was visible at the N edge of the old crater. Two weeks later only a small steam plume was present at the summit, making the outline of the enlarged crater more visible; the extensive shoreline deposits of fresh volcanic material remained (bottom right, 13 July 2019). A clear view into the summit crater on 23 July revealed the new size and shape of the summit crater (bottom left). Natural Color rendering (bands 4, 3, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of the summit crater of Raikoke before (left) and after (right) the explosions that began on 21 June 2019. The old crater rim is outlined in red in both images. The new crater rim is outlined in yellow in the 23 July image. Natural Color rendering (bands 4, 3, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

References: Gorshkov G S, 1970, Volcanism and the Upper Mantle; Investigations in the Kurile Island Arc, New York: Plenum Publishing Corp, 385 p.

Tanakadate H, 1925, The volcanic activity in Japan during 1914-1924, Bull Volc. v. 1, no. 3.

Geologic Background. A low truncated volcano forms the small barren Raikoke Island, which lies 16 km across the Golovnin Strait from Matua Island in the central Kuriles. The oval-shaped basaltic island is only 2 x 2.5 km wide and rises above a submarine terrace. An eruption in 1778, during which the upper third of the island was said to have been destroyed, prompted the first volcanological investigation in the Kuril Islands two years later. Incorrect reports of eruptions in 1777 and 1780 were due to misprints and errors in descriptions of the 1778 event (Gorshkov, 1970). Another powerful eruption in 1924 greatly deepened the crater and changed the outline of the island. Prior to a 2019 eruption, the steep-walled crater, highest on the SE side, was 700 m wide and 200 m deep. Lava flows mantle the eastern side of the island.

Information Contacts: Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/); Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team (SVERT), Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Science, Nauki st., 1B, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, 693022 (URL: http://www.imgg.ru/en/, http://www.imgg.ru/ru/svert/reports); Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); NASA Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); NOAA, Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1225 W. Dayton St. Madison, WI 53706, (URL: http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/); Simon Carn, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931, USA (URL: http://www.volcarno.com/, Twitter: @simoncarn); Scott Bachmeier, Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1225 W. Dayton St. Madison, WI 53706; Flightradar24 (URL: https://www.flightradar24.com/51,-2/6); Volcano Discovery (URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/).


Sinabung (Indonesia) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Sinabung

Indonesia

3.17°N, 98.392°E; summit elev. 2460 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Large ash explosions on 25 May and 9 June 2019

Indonesia's Sinabung volcano in north Sumatra has been highly active since its first confirmed Holocene eruption during August and September 2010. It remained quiet after the initial eruption until September 2013, when a new eruptive phase began that continued uninterrupted through June 2018. Ash plumes often rose several kilometers, avalanche blocks fell kilometers down the flanks, and deadly pyroclastic flows traveled more than 4 km repeatedly during the eruption. After a pause in eruptive activity from July 2018 through April 2019, explosions took place again during May and June 2019. This report covers activity from July 2018 through July 2019 with information provided by Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), referred to by some agencies as CVGHM or the Indonesian Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and the Badan Nacional Penanggulangan Bencana (National Disaster Management Authority, BNPB). Additional information comes from satellite instruments and local news reports.

After the last ash emission observed on 5 July 2018, activity diminished significantly. Occasional thermal anomalies were observed in satellite images in August 2018, and February-March 2019. Seismic evidence of lahars was recorded almost every month from July 2018 through July 2019. Renewed explosions with ash plumes began in early May; two large events, on 24 May and 9 June, produced ash plumes observed in satellite data at altitudes greater than 15 km (table 9).

Table 9. Summary of activity at Sinabung during July 2018-July 2019. Steam plume heights from PVMBG daily reports. VONA reports issued by Sinabung Volcano Observatory, part of PVMBG. Satellite imagery from Sentinel-2. Lahar seismicity from PVMBG daily and weekly reports. Ash plume heights from VAAC reports. Pyroclastic flows from VONA reports.

Month Steam Plume Heights (m) Dates of VONA reports Satellite Thermal Anomalies (date) Seismicity indicating Lahars (date) Ash Plume Altitude (date and distance) Pyroclastic flows
Jul 2018 100-700 -- -- -- -- --
Aug 2018 50-700 -- 30 1, 20 -- --
Sep 2018 100-500 -- -- 1st week, 12, 29 -- --
Oct 2018 50-1,000 -- -- 1 -- --
Nov 2018 50-350 -- -- 14 -- --
Dec 2018 50-500 -- -- 30 -- --
Jan 2019 50-350 -- -- -- -- --
Feb 2019 100-400 -- 6, 21 -- -- --
Mar 2019 50-300 -- 3, 8 27 -- --
Apr 2019 50-400 -- -- 2, 4, 11 -- --
May 2019 200-700 7, 11, 12, 24, 26, 27 (2) -- 4, 14 7 (4.6 km), 24 (15.2 km), 25 (6.1 km) --
June 2019 50-600 9, 10 -- -- 9 (16.8 km), 10 (3.0 km) 9-3.5 km SE, 3.0 km S
July 2019 100-700 -- -- 10, 12, 14, 16, 4th week -- --

No eruptive activity was reported after 5 July 2018 for several months, however Sentinel-2 thermal imagery on 30 August indicated a hot spot at the summit suggestive of eruptive activity. The next distinct thermal signal appeared on 6 February 2019, with a few more in late February and early March (figure 66, see table 9).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 30 August 2018, 6 February, and 8 March 2019 showed distinct thermal anomalies suggestive of eruptive activity at Sinabung, although no activity was reported by PVMBG. Images rendered with Atmospheric Penetration, bands 12, 11, and 8A. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

PVMBG reported the first ash emission in 11 months early on 7 May 2019. They noted that an ash plume rose 2 km above the summit and drifted ESE. The Sinabung Volcano Observatory (SVO) issued a VONA (Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation) that described an eruptive event lasting for a little over 40 minutes. Ashfall was reported in several villages. The Jakarta Post reported that Karo Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPDB) head Martin Sitepu said four districts were affected by the eruption, namely Simpang Empat (7 km SE), Namanteran (5 km NE), Kabanjahe (14 km SE), and Berastadi (12 km E). The Darwin VAAC reported the ash plume at 4.6 km altitude and noted that it dissipated about six hours later (figure 67). The TROPOMI SO2 instrument detected an SO2 plume shortly after the event (figure 68).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. Images from the explosion at Sinabung on 7 May 2019. Left and bottom right photos by Kopi Cimbang and Kalak Karo Kerina, courtesy of David de Zabedrosky. Top right photo courtesy of Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. The TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite captured an SO2 emission from Sinabung shortly after the eruption on 7 May 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

On 11 May 2019 SVO issued a VONA reporting a seismic eruption event with a 9 mm amplitude that lasted for about 30 minutes; clouds and fog prevented visual confirmation. Another VONA issued the following day reported an ash emission that lasted for 28 minutes but again was not observed due to fog. The Darwin VAAC did not observe the ash plumes reported on 11 or 12 May; they did report incandescent material observed in the webcam on 11 May. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of BNPB reported that the 12 May eruption was accompanied by incandescent lava and ash, and the explosion was heard in Rendang (figure 69). The Alert Level had been at Level IV since 2 June 2015. Based on decreased seismicity, a decrease in visual activity (figure 70), stability of deformation data, and a decrease in SO2 flux during the previous 11 months, PVMBG lowered the Alert Level from IV to III on 20 May 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Incandescent lava and ash were captured by a webcam at Sinabung on 12 May 2019. Courtesy of Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. The summit of Sinabung emitted only steam and gas on 18 May 2019, shortly before PVMBG lowered the Alert Level from IV to III. Courtesy of PVMBG (Decreased G. Sinabung activity level from Level IV (Beware) to Level III (Standby), May 20, 2019).

A large explosion was reported by the Darwin VAAC on 24 May 2019 (UTC) that produced a high-altitude ash plume visible in satellite imagery at 15.2 km altitude moving W; the plume was not visible from the ground due to fog. The Sinabung Volcano Observatory reported that the brief explosion lasted for only 7 minutes (figure 71), but the plume detached and drifted NW for about 12 hours before dissipating. The substantial SO2 plume associated with the event was recorded by satellite instruments a few hours later (figure 72, left). Another six-minute explosion late on 26 May (UTC) produced an ash plume that was reported by a ground observer at 4.9 km altitude drifting S (figure 72, right). About an hour after the event, the Darwin VAAC observed the plume drifting S at 6.1 km altitude; it had dissipated four hours later. Sumbul Sembiring, a resident of Kabanjahe, told news outlet Tempo.com that ash had fallen at the settlements. Two more explosions were reported on 27 May; the first lasted for a little over 12 minutes, the second (about 90 minutes later, 28 May local time) lasted for about 2.5 minutes. No ash plumes were visible from the ground or satellite imagery for either event.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. A brief but powerful explosion at Sinabung in the early hours of 25 May 2019 (local time) produced a seven-minute-long seismic signal and a 15.2-km-altitude ash plume. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia and Volcano Discovery.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. Two closely spaced eruptive events occurred at Sinabung on 24 and 26 May UTC (25 and 27 May local time). The 24 May event produced a significant SO2 plume recorded by the TROPOMI instrument a few hours afterwards (left), and a 15.2-km-altitude ash plume only recorded in satellite imagery. The event on 26 May produced a visible ash plume that was reported at 6.1 km altitude and was faintly visible from the ground (right). SO2 courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, photograph courtesy of PVMBG and Øystein Lund Andersen.

An explosion on 9 June 2019 produced an ash plume, estimated from the ground as rising to 9.5 km altitude, that drifted S and E; pyroclastic flows traveled 3.5 km SE and 3 km S down the flanks (figure 73). The explosion was heard at the Sinabung Observatory. The Darwin VAAC reported that the eruption was visible in Himawari-8 satellite imagery, and reported by pilots, at 16.8 km altitude drifting W; about an hour later the VAAC noted that the detached plume continued drifting SW but lower plumes were still present at 9.1 km altitude drifting W and below 4.3 km drifting SE. They also noted that pyroclastic flows moving SSE were sending ash to 4.3 km altitude. Three hours later they reported that both upper level plumes had detached and were moving SW and W. After six hours, the lower altitude plumes at 4.3 and 9.1 km altitudes had dissipated; the higher plume continued moving SW at 12.2 km altitude until it dissipated within the next eight hours. Instruments on the Sentinel-5P satellite captured an SO2 plume from the explosion drifting W across the southern Indian Ocean (figure 74).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. A large explosion at Sinabung on 9 June 2019 produced an ash plume that rose to 16.8 km altitude and also generated pyroclastic flows (foreground) that traveled down the S and SE flanks. Left image courtesy of Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, Head of the BNPB Information and Public Relations Data Center. Right image photo source PVMBG/Mbah Rono/ Berastagi Nachelle Homestay, courtesy of Jaime Sincioco.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. An SO2 plume from the 9 June 2019 explosion at Sinabung drifted more than a thousand kilometers W across the southern Indian Ocean. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub and Annamaria Luongo.

The SVO reported continuous ash and gas emissions at 3.0 km altitude moving ESE early on 10 June; it was obscured in satellite imagery by meteoric clouds. There were no additional VONA's or VAAC reports issued for the remainder of June or July 2019. An image on social media from 20 June 2019 shows incandescent blocks near the summit (figure 75). PVMBG reported that emissions on 25 June were white to brownish and rose 200 m above the summit and drifted E and SE.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Incandescent blocks at the summit of Sinabung were visible in this 20 June 2019 image taken from a rooftop terrace in Berastagi, 13 km E. Photo by Nachelle Homestay, courtesy of Jaime Sincioco.

PVMBG detected seismic signals from lahars several times during the second week of July 2019. News outlets reported lahars damaging villages in the Karo district on 11 and 13 July (figure 76). Detik.com reported that lahars cut off the main access road to Perbaji Village (4 km SW), Kutambaru Village (14 km S), and the Tiganderket connecting road to Kutabuluh (17 km WNW). In addition, Puskesmas Kutambaru was submerged in mud. Images from iNews Malam showed large boulders and rafts of trees in thick layers of mud covering homes and roads. No casualties were reported.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Lahars on 11 and 13 July 2019 caused damage in numerous villages around Sinabung, filling homes and roadways with mud, tree trunks, and debris. No casualties were reported. Courtesy of iNews Malam.

Geologic Background. Gunung Sinabung is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano with many lava flows on its flanks. The migration of summit vents along a N-S line gives the summit crater complex an elongated form. The youngest crater of this conical andesitic-to-dacitic edifice is at the southern end of the four overlapping summit craters. The youngest deposit is a SE-flank pyroclastic flow 14C dated by Hendrasto et al. (2012) at 740-880 CE. An unconfirmed eruption was noted in 1881, and solfataric activity was seen at the summit and upper flanks in 1912. No confirmed historical eruptions were recorded prior to explosive eruptions during August-September 2010 that produced ash plumes to 5 km above the summit.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); 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 Jakarta Post (URL: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/05/07/mount-sinabung-erupts-again.html); Detikcom (URL: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-4619253/hujan-deras-sejumlah-desa-di-sekitar-gunung-sinabung-banjir-lahar-dingin); iNews Malam (URL: https://tv.inews.id/, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAI4CpSb41k); Tempo.com (URL:https://en.tempo.co/read/1209667/mount-sinabung-erupts-on-monday-morning); David de Zabedrosky, Calera de Tango, Chile (Twitter: @deZabedrosky, URL: https://twitter.com/deZabedrosky/status/1125814504867160065/photo/1, https://twitter.com/deZabedrosky/status/1125814504867160065/photo/2); Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB (Twitter: @Sutopo_PN, URL: https://twitter.com/Sutopo_PN); Tom Pfeiffer, Volcano Discovery (URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/); Øystein Lund Andersen? (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, URL: https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: http://www.oysteinlundandersen.com image at https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse/status/1132849458142572544); Jaime Sincioco, Phillipines (Twitter: @jaimessincioca, URL: https://twitter.com/jaimessincioco); Annamaria Luongo, University of Padua, Venice, Italy (Twitter: @annamaria_84, URL:https://twitter.com/annamaria_84).


Semisopochnoi (United States) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Semisopochnoi

United States

51.93°N, 179.58°E; summit elev. 1221 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small explosions detected between 16 July and 24 August 2019

The remote island of Semisopochnoi in the western Aleutians is dominated by a caldera measuring 8 km in diameter that contains a small lake (Fenner Lake) and a number of post-caldera cones and craters. A small (100 m diameter) crater lake in the N cone of Semisopochnoi's Cerberus three-cone cluster has persisted since January 2019. An eruption at Sugarloaf Peak in 1987 included an ash plume (SEAN 12:04). Activity during September-October 2018 included increased seismicity and small explosions (BGVN 44:02). The primary source of information for this reporting period of July-August 2019 comes from the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), when there were two low-level eruptions.

Seismicity rose above background levels on 5 July 2019. AVO reported that data from local seismic and infrasound sensors likely detected a small explosion on 16 July. A strong tremor on 17 July generated airwaves that were detected on an infrasound array 260 km E on Adak Island. In addition to this, a small plume extended 18 km WSW from the Cerberus vent, but no ash signals were detected in satellite data. Seismicity decreased abruptly on 18 July after a short-lived eruption. Seismicity increased slightly on 23 July and remained elevated through August.

On 24 July 2019 AVO reported that satellite data showed that the crater lake was gone and a new, shallow inner crater measuring 80 m in diameter had formed on the crater floor, though no lava was identified. Satellite imagery indicated that the crater of the Cerberus N cone had been replaced by a smooth, featureless area of either tephra or water at a level several meters below the previous floor. Satellite imagery detected faint steam plumes rising to 5-10 km altitude and minor SO2 emissions on 27 July. Satellite data showed a steam plume rising from Semisopochnoi on 18 August and SO2 emissions on 21-22 August. Ground-coupled airwaves identified in seismic data on 23-24 August was indicative of additional explosive activity.

Geologic Background. Semisopochnoi, the largest subaerial volcano of the western Aleutians, is 20 km wide at sea level and contains an 8-km-wide caldera. It formed as a result of collapse of a low-angle, dominantly basaltic volcano following the eruption of a large volume of dacitic pumice. The high point of the island is 1221-m-high Anvil Peak, a double-peaked late-Pleistocene cone that forms much of the island's northern part. The three-peaked 774-m-high Mount Cerberus volcano was constructed during the Holocene within the caldera. Each of the peaks contains a summit crater; lava flows on the northern flank of Cerberus appear younger than those on the southern side. Other post-caldera volcanoes include the symmetrical 855-m-high Sugarloaf Peak SSE of the caldera and Lakeshore Cone, a small cinder cone at the edge of Fenner Lake in the NE part of the caldera. Most documented historical eruptions have originated from Cerberus, although Coats (1950) considered that both Sugarloaf and Lakeshore Cone within the caldera could have been active during historical time.

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

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 23, Number 10 (October 1998)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Akan (Japan)

Small-scale ash eruption on 9 November

Ambae (Vanuatu)

Monitoring and water chemistry at Voui crater lake

Colima (Mexico)

Lava dome begins erupting, fills crater, and spills out

Etna (Italy)

Summary of eruptive activity from summit craters during January-May 1998

Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador)

Crisis continues into November; many days with one phreatic explosion

Iwatesan (Japan)

Seismic crisis ends on 3 November

Karymsky (Russia)

Strombolian eruptions and elevated seismicity continue

Kerinci (Indonesia)

Rumbling, ash, and sulfur smell on 3 November

Kilauea (United States)

Lava from Pu`u `O`o continues to build bench

Klyuchevskoy (Russia)

Background seismic and fumarolic activity during October

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Large explosion on 21 September causes ashfall

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Intense eruptive activity resumes in late September

Nyamuragira (DR Congo)

Flank lava flow in October; TOMS data

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

Moderate eruptions, 17 October ashfall in Mexico City

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Low seismicity, but regular eruptions continue

Sabancaya (Peru)

Intermittent gas plumes in early September, some with ash

San Cristobal (Nicaragua)

Heavy rains from hurricane Mitch result in deadly avalanche and lahar from Casita

Sheveluch (Russia)

A few minor gas-and-steam plumes in October

Stromboli (Italy)

Larger explosions in January, August, and September 1998

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea)

White vapor plumes throughout September

White Island (New Zealand)

Minor gas-and-ash eruptions in August and October



Akan (Japan) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Akan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small-scale ash eruption on 9 November

On 9 November the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued two "Volcanic Advisories" and a "Volcano Observation Report" following a small-scale eruption at Me-Akan volcano ~225 km E of Sapporo. New ash deposits were observed on trees in the nearby town of Akan, located E of the volcano near Lake Akan, and trace amounts of ash were distributed up to ~10 km E from the summit crater. JMA and Hokkaido University seismometers detected 4 minutes of tremor beginning at 1441 on 9 November. No additional earthquake or tremor events followed.

According to the local news agency, Asahi Shinbun, one of their aircraft flew near the snow-covered summit of the volcano at approximately 0900 on 10 November. White-colored "smoke" was seen to rise 700 m above the Ponmachineshiri crater (figure 7). Observers also noted that snow fields up to 1 km S and E of the crater were gray in color. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Summit view of Ponmachineshiri, part of the Me-Akan volcano group, [in 1996]. The water-filled Aonuma crater is in the foreground, First crater is center, and the smoking Fourth crater is on the right. Courtesy of JMA; photo by Keiji Wada, Hokkaido University of Education, Asahikawa.

Researchers from Hokkaido University, the Geological Survey of Japan (Hokkaido Branch), Geological Survey of Hokkaido, and JMA (Sapporo and Kushiro) surveyed ash deposits from the 9 November eruption, and examined the ash under a petrological microscope. They estimated the total mass of the deposits as ~1,000 metric tons (t), smaller than the ~2,000 t eruption in 1996 (BGVN 21:10). The ash consisted of older, altered rock-fragments (andesite), minerals and clay. They found trace amounts of angular, fresh basalt fragments containing gray glass. They considered it likely that new magma reacted with water in a hydrothermal system, resulting in a phreatomagmatic eruption in which chips of solidified new magma were issued together with larger amounts of fragments of older rocks altered hydrothermally beneath the crater.

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

Information Contacts: J. Miyamura, Japan Meteorological Agency, Kishocho-881, 3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0004, Japan; Mitsuhiro Nakagawa, Department of Earth and Planetary Material Sciences, Graduate School of Science, Hokkaido University, N-10 W-8 Kita-ku, Sapporo 060, Japan; Asahi Shimbun News, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://www.asahi.com/); Keiji Wada, Hokkaido University of Education at Asahikawa, Hokumoncho 9-chome, Asahikawa 070,Japan (URL: http://www.asa.hokkyodai.ac.jp/research/staff/wada/EV/E-Welcome.html); Volcano Research Center, Earthquake Research Institute (ERI), University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan (URL: http://www.eri.u-tokyo.ac.jp/VRC/index_E.html).


Ambae (Vanuatu) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambae

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Monitoring and water chemistry at Voui crater lake

Following the 1995 phreatic explosion at Lake Voui (BGVN 20:02 and 20:08) a bathymetric survey of the crater lake was carried out. The 1996 survey confirmed the location of activity that had first been observed in 1992 on a SPOT satellite image. Monitoring of Lake Voui has continued through November 1998.

The average temperature over the whole 1 x 2 km surface of the lake (figures 7 and 8) stayed at ~30°C during November 1996-November 1998, due in part to constant streams of gas that issued from the main vent. As a comparison, in June 1995, three months after the phreatic explosion, the surface temperature was 45°C.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Schematic map of the summit area of Aoba volcano. Monitoring equipment includes: (1) a hydrophone at a depth of 10 m; (2) temperature sensors at a depth of 7 m; (3) power supply, electronics, and ARGOS satellite transmitter station; and, (4) a terrestrial data station measuring seismicity, heat flow, and rainfall. Courtesy Centre ORSTOM, Vanuatu.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Photograph of Aoba showing Lake Voui. Water discoloration marks the zone of activity. The power and transmitter station is located on the islet at the center. Lake Lakua is in the right background. Courtesy Centre ORSTOM, Vanuatu.

The ten major compounds dissolved in the lake's water have changed in concentration with time (table 1), but the samples, taken at the surface and at depths of 15-50 m, were consistent throughout the lake at any one time.

Table 1. Synopsis of the physical and chemical analysis of the waters of Voui lake derived from samples taken during 1995-98. Chemical constituents and ratios are given in mg/L. Courtesy Centre ORSTOM, Vanuatu.

Date pH Conductivity (mS) Temp.(°C) Cl SO4 SO4/Cl Mg Mg/Cl Ca Na K Fe Mn Al
27 Jun 1995 2.2 19.5 40 3240 8560 2.6 1910 0.589 288 1030 440 425 74 75
01 Dec 1995 2.3 18.9 35 2700 8350 3.1 1840 0.681 193 1030 317 253 65 39
01 May 1996 2.0 21.4 35 2560 9900 3.9 2190 0.858 230 1110 307 274 69 41
25 Nov 1996 1.5 28.8 30 2530 9510 3.8 2140 0.848 174 810 219 246 64 --
17 Jun 1997 1.1 33.2 30 2410 13130 5.4 2100 0.872 160 690 161 252 56 62
30 Nov 1997 1.3 36.9 30 2280 15260 6.7 2150 0.942 130 520 113 304 54 60
19 Jul 1998 1.4 34.4 30 2100 18010 8.6 1802 0.859 42 521 97 287 50 77

The average volume of the lake was estimated at 50 x 106 m3, but the level varied significantly. A drop of 275 cm in surface elevation was observed between June 1997 and October 1998. Rainfall varied between 500 and 600 cm/year in the summit area.

Monitoring was conducted twice per year, complemented by seismic recordings taken from a station set up in the dry lake bed of Ngoro. This system is similar to that used on Tanna Island, Vanuatu (BGVN 21:08). The range of monitoring equipment in place on Aoba since 1996 was extended in October 1998 by the installation of an acoustic recording station (0.1-150 KHz) and a device for continuous measurement of lake-water temperature. The data are relayed through an ARGOS satellite transmitter. Identical stations have been set up on Kelut in Indonesia and at Lake Taal in the Philippines.

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: Michel Lardy, Inès Rodriguez, Douglas Charley, and Pascal Gineste, Centre ORSTOM, P.O.Box 76, Port-Vila, Vanuatu; Michel Halbwachs, and Jacques Grangeon, Université de Savoie, Campus Scientifique, F3376, Le Bourget du Lac, Cédex France; Janette Tabbagh, Centre de Téléobservation Informatisée des volcans, CNRS-CRG, Garchy, France.


Colima (Mexico) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Colima

Mexico

19.514°N, 103.62°W; summit elev. 3850 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava dome begins erupting, fills crater, and spills out

Rapid lava effusion began from Colima's summit lava dome in late November. The 1998 lava extrusion, the first since 1991, followed months of seismic unrest and a subsequent explosion at the summit on 6 July, leading to local evacuations.

The night of 19 November was marked by strong seismicity and a large number of rockfalls (lasting 2-4 minutes) down the summit's W, SW, and S sectors. Although a previous helicopter flight could not confirm the prescence of new lava, at 0730 on 20 November geologists saw that the crater formed by explosions in 1994 contained a fresh, nearly black circular lava dome with a rough, wrinkled surface. At that time, based on the 1994 crater's dimensions (135 m in diameter and 50 m deep), the dome was approximately 30 x 50 x 15 m in size. Fumaroles were noted along the dome's margins. Other fumaroles in the area of the N-NW summit continued to emit a high output of gases. By 1800 on 20 November both seismicity and rockfalls had dropped to low levels.

Surprisingly rapid dome growth took place that night, and a 0730 flight on 21 November disclosed that the 1994 crater (~3.8 x 105 m3 in volume) was then full and new lava spilled out the S side. Up to this point Colima's eruption appeared quite similar to the 1991 lava extrusion episode, but the new lava erupted at a considerably higher rate. In 1991 it took about 16 days to form a dome of comparable size.

Geologic Background. The Colima volcanic complex is the most prominent volcanic center of the western Mexican Volcanic Belt. It consists of two southward-younging volcanoes, Nevado de Colima (the 4320 m high point of the complex) on the north and the 3850-m-high historically active Volcán de Colima at the south. A group of cinder cones of late-Pleistocene age is located on the floor of the Colima graben west and east of the Colima complex. Volcán de Colima (also known as Volcán Fuego) is a youthful stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera, breached to the south, that has been the source of large debris avalanches. Major slope failures have occurred repeatedly from both the Nevado and Colima cones, and have produced a thick apron of debris-avalanche deposits on three sides of the complex. Frequent historical eruptions date back to the 16th century. Occasional major explosive eruptions (most recently in 1913) have destroyed the summit and left a deep, steep-sided crater that was slowly refilled and then overtopped by lava dome growth.

Information Contacts: Carlos Navarro Ochoa, Colima Volcano Observatory, Universidad de Colima, Ave. 25 de Julio 965, Colima 28045, Colima, México.


Etna (Italy) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Summary of eruptive activity from summit craters during January-May 1998

The following report summarizes activity observed at each of the four summit craters of Etna from 15 January through May 1998. Southeast Crater was active throughout this period, with explosions and lava flows both within the crater and on the flanks of the cone. Activity at Bocca Nuova alternated between ash emissions from collapses and vigorous magmatic eruptions until early April. Voragine exhibited intermittent low-level activity. Northeast Crater had a lava fountaining episode in late March, its first significant activity since August 1996. Additional summit crater eruptive episodes after May 1998 will be described in future issues.

Information for this report was compiled by Boris Behncke at the University of Catania and published on his internet web site. The compilation was based on personal visits to the summit, telescopic observations from Catania, and other sources.

Seismicity on the W flank. Seismic activity resumed on 15 January with weak tremors ~6 km below the W flank (Monte Palestra area) and several shallow shocks on the SW slope. Seismicity was low but a tremor occurred on the W flank, and another directly below the summit craters, on 19 January. After about two weeks of relative seismic quiet, earthquakes occurred again below the W flank on 31 January and below the summit craters on 1 February. Mild seismic activity was occurring again on 9 February in the Monte Palestra area (W flank at around 2,000 m), in the same area that has been affected repeatedly by seismic activity since late December.

Activity at Southeast Crater. On 16 January, explosive and effusive activity resumed at Southeast Crater (SEC). On 18 January there were three active lava flows on the southern slopes of SEC. A lava flow which moved towards the W rim of Valle del Bove stopped shortly on 20 January. After two days of weak or absent eruptive activity, SEC resumed Strombolian activity on 22 January. On 28 January a lava tongue extended to the W rim of Valle del Bove; at dusk there was vigorous explosive activity and two small lava flows were visible. During the evening of 29 January, Strombolian activity occurred from the intracrater cone while a lava flow was overflowing down the SE flank.

Clear weather on 4 February revealed fresh lava flows on the S and ESE flanks of SEC. Explosive activity continued on 9 February while small lava flows moved down its SE flank. On 10 February, SEC was the site of continuous powerful Strombolian explosions that dropped bombs and scoriae beyond the crater rims. Activity alternated between two vents, only one erupting at any given time. The S vent produced fountains that showered the whole southern sector of SEC with bombs. The N vent sent vertical fountains of bombs up to 200 m high. Some bombs that fell on the W crater rim were up to 30 cm long. Smaller projectiles even fell at the lower slope of the main cone, 100 m from the erupting vent. Lava flowed from a vent on the SE side of the intracrater cone. A lava tongue spilled over the crater rim on its ENE side. Other recent lava tongues had extended just beyond the base of the cone; the longest flow to the ESE (produced in mid-December 1997) had advanced to within ~50 m of the W rim of Valle del Bove. The only significant remainder of SEC's former rim is on the W and NW side where it stands 15 m above the lava field surrounding the central cone. In all other areas the crater is filled and has overflowed in many places. The appearance of the crater's interior is that of a low lava shield topped by a cone that is 30-40 m high.

By 11 February, growth on the NW side of the intracrater cone had raised its summit by at least 1 m since the day before. Two vents were active in its summit crater, and for the first time these were seen to erupt simultaneously. The vigor of the activity increased notably after 1930, when jets of bombs frequently rose up to 250 m above the vent. Lava from the vent on the SE base of the intracrater cone rapidly covered the SE sector of the crater floor and began to spill down the upper outer flank of SEC. By 2000, it had extended some 50-100 m downslope. Activity continued at similar levels through 15 February.

Strombolian activity was intermittent on 17 February, and degassing alternated with bomb ejections while a lava flow slowly moved down the SSE flank of the SEC cone. New lava flows from the intracrater cone covered ~25% of the crater floor, and a new lava lobe began spilling down the outer flank of SEC adjacent to the still-active SSE flow. A lava flow on the SW flank of SEC during 20-25 February appeared to be flowing on the NW side of the January flow. Strombolian activity occurred on the night of 25 February, and a very minor lava lobe spilled over the SE crater rim.

The eruption continued on 5 March with lava effusion on the flanks of SEC. As of 11 March lava continued to spill down the SE flank of SEC. Around 16-19 March, SEC appeared to be the only center of eruptive activity with weak Strombolian activity accompanied by minor overflows of lava. Lava flows began moving down the SSW flank of SEC on 20 and 21 March, but explosive activity was weak. During the Northeast Crater episode of 27-28 March, SEC was intensely active, with vigorous and continuous Strombolian bursts, and a lava flow spilling down the SW flank of the SEC cone. Moderate Strombolian activity continued, but effusive activity on the SW flank ceased sometime during 29 March.

Significant morphologic changes were noted on 6 April that had occurred since the previous visit on 17 February. The summit of the intracrater conelet had collapsed or been destroyed in late March. A depression on the lower E flank of the conelet was the site of a new effusive vent. The effusive vent area that had been active for many months in the S and SE sectors of the conelet's flank was inactive. Lava had buried the old rim of SEC on all sides except the W and NW where the old rim stood a few meters above the lava field. Lava had overflowed onto the northern outer flank of SEC, forming a short lobe. On the SW flank of SEC a lava flow active from mid-February until early March had extended to near the base of the 1971 "Observatory Cone".

The new effusive vent on the eastern base of the conelet had apparently formed only shortly before the visit because the depression around it had not yet been filled. Extrusion at this site had been preceded by subsidence at the base of the conelet. Meter-sized slabs of older lava had been uplifted and tilted, and fresh lava was being squeezed through the cracks, accompanied by high-pressure gas venting. A more vigorous flow issued from a U-shaped vent, similar to ephemeral vents seen on other occasions. Yet another flow began to issue from below an upheaved slab of older lava with spectacular lava stalagtites on its bottom. These two flows spilled 150 m down the NE flank of SEC.

Explosive activity on 6 April occurred from two vents within the crater of the central conelet, but they never erupted simultaneously; one vent was very noisy while the other erupted silently. SEC continued to erupt on 27 April, with small Strombolian explosions and lava effusion. Scientists who visited the crater on 14 May reported that lava was overflowing onto the flanks, and Strombolian activity was occurring from the summit of the conelet.

Vigorous explosive and continuous effusive activity as well as morphological changes were observed at SEC during a visit on 21 May with students from North Dakota State University. The central conelet was observed at close range, and the main effusive vent could be approached amidst a rain of light scoriae. Strombolian activity occurred from a single vent in the NW summit area of the conelet. Explosions occurred incessantly, and many ejected bombs 200 m above the vent. As on many other occasions, a distinct periodicity could be noted in the activity, each cycle culminating in a series of powerful Strombolian blasts heavily charged with meter-sized bombs. Overlapping lobes on the E side of the conelet had built a low shield, and the depression which had formed at the E base of the conelet was completely filled.

Vigorous explosive activity occurred on 24 May from the central conelet of SEC, and two flows were descending the SE cone. Some explosions ejected incandescent bombs at least 200 m high. Giovanni Sturiale and Boris Behncke, both of Catania University, visited SEC on 28 May; the central conelet was somewhat higher in the vent area than on 20 May. The main vent at the E base of the conelet was issuing lava that spilled over the E rim of SEC (buried under at least 30 m of lava since July 1997). Most flows stop at the base of the cone and are followed by the formation of new flows. Vigorous explosive activity dropped bombs on the N side of the central conelet. The current activity is known as Etna's "persistent summit activity" which became famous from descriptions of Northeast Crater which in the 1950's to 1970's produced similar activity.

Activity at Bocca Nuova. Very dense gas emissions were occurring from Bocca Nuova (BN) on 19 January; some contained ash. Explosions from BN were audible 8 km from the summit on 20 January, but magmatic activity alternated with collapses, generating dense ash plumes. Bright glow was visible on 22 January. BN was emitting white steam with some dark ash plumes derived from crater wall collapse on 28 January. On 28-29 January periods of intense incandescence indicated vigorous but intermittent activity at both the SE and the N eruptive centers.

Intense glow was again visible at BN on 4 February, indicating vigorous intracrater activity. Activity on 8 February continued without significant changes; there were emissions of dark ash indicating collapse of the crater walls. Magma again withdrew from BN (as indicated by internal collapse) on 9 February. Later that day collapse in BN ended; at nightfall, bright incandescence was visible.

The overall appearance of BN on 10 February was similar to before the collapses that accompanied the seismic crises on the W flank. The collapse had affected only the summit areas of the two large cones, and the N cone had subsided several meters. Activity had resumed at both cones. Jets of bombs, at times mixed with ash, rose tens of meters above the vents, and occasional explosions ejected bombs. Eruptive activity from the northern cone had resumed at a new vent close to the center of BN. A vent in the deepest part of the ~150-m-wide crater of the cone was vigorously degassing. A third vent rarely produced spectacular ash emissions. The main eruptive vent (on the S rim of the cone) was in constant eruption, with powerful bomb ejections about every 2 seconds. Many ejections rose above the W rim of BN, which stands 70-80 m above the vent. Every 5-10 minutes, this vent would produce larger eruptions, ejecting continuous fountains mixed with ash.

Activity in BN increased notably when seen on 11 February. Activity was continuous at both cones. During the afternoon, periods of near-continuous ash emissions were accompanied by powerful explosions. At night, both eruptive areas produced intense continuous glow. Occasional larger explosions ejected bombs up to 150 m above the SE rim of Bocca Nuova. The eruption in BN continued on 15 February without significant modifications. There were vigorous bomb ejections, many of which dropped bombs on the outer slopes of the main summit cone.

During another visit on 17 February, both eruptive centers of BN were active. One vent, 30-35 m in diamater, was ejecting continuous lava fountains and occasional large jets to above the crater rim. The northern eruptive center was the site of continuous very narrow incandescent fountains, and a small lava flow. Occasional violent explosions occurred from the vent on the southern rim of the collapse structure which had been the most active vent in this area one week earlier. Activity in BN during 20-23 February was characterized by low-level bomb ejections with occasional larger jets of bombs. Virtually continuous ash emissions began at BN on the afternoon of 24 February. The ash emissions were followed that evening by vigorous magmatic activity, probably from the SE vents, that caused a bright fluctuating glow until daylight.

BN continued to erupt in early March, although the activity appeared to decrease. On 5 March there was weak activity at BN. As of 11 March sporadic night glow was visible at BN. This crater was completely inactive during a 6 April visit. Wholesale collapse had occurred at the N and SE eruptive areas. A vast collapse depression had formed at the former, leaving only the N part of the large cone that had grown there until the end of 1997. Explosion sounds heard on 27 April possibly came from BN. The local mountain guides reported on 21 May that there had been no recent activity at BN. Activity resumed from BN at the end of May after several months of little activity.

Activity at Voragine. Eruptive activity reportedly included the Voragine on 20 January, but it was inactive during a summit visit on 10 February. During a 6 April visit, the first to this crater since 10 February, a few minor morphologic changes were noted. The most significant was the formation of a new crater <10 m in diameter on the central conelet. Some growth had occurred, and the crater floor was covered with finer-grained tephra. The SW vent at the base of the septum between Voragine and BN had enlarged to ~40 m in diameter. This vent was the only site of eruptive activity within the crater during the visit. Large explosions every 3-5 minutes ejected bombs tens of meters high, some of which flew into BN. Scientists at the summit on 14 May reported vigorous activity from the vent in the SW part of the Voragine and numerous fresh bombs. Loud detonations on 24 May indicated explosive activity; some were accompanied by dense vapor and gas plumes.

Activity at Northeast Crater. In one of the most spectacular eruptive events of the past few years, Northeast Crater (NEC) produced a 2-hour episode of lava fountaining during the night of 27-28 March. The event marks a resumption of more vigorous activity at NEC, which has displayed only weak activity since August 1996.

Volcanic tremor was registered by seismic stations in the summit area early on 27 March. At about 1000, Northeast Crater began to emit ash plumes that continued until shortly after 1600. By nightfall, sporadic ejections of incandescent bombs sometimes rose several hundred meters above the crater. The Strombolian ejections gradually increased in intensity and became virtually continuous by 2200. Shortly before midnight, the ejections merged into a continuous pulsating fountain rising 300-350 m above the rim of the active vent within the collapse pit in the S-central part of the crater. Large bombs fell onto the lava platform and into the adjacent Voragine and BN craters, some fell 1 km S and SW of the vent. Loud detonations were heard on the E and SE flanks where hundreds of thousands of people watched the display at a safe distance. By about 0130, the activity began to decline and was virtually over after 0200. This eruption appears to be another episode of lava fountaining similar to those at the same crater between November 1995 and June 1996, and many times during the late 1970's and early 1980's. The next day, NEC emitted a few ash plumes several hundred meters above the summit, but there was no evidence of renewed Strombolian activity.

When the crater was visited on 6 April, centimeter-sized, highly inflated scoriae were abundant a few hundred meters S of the 1971 "Observatory Cone," and the deposit was nearly continuous on the W side of that cone, with maximum clast sizes exceeding 5 cm. Closer to SEC the deposit was no longer continuous, but clasts up to 10 cm long were found. Close to NEC, little fallout was found. A few impact craters were seen in the N part of the Voragine floor while on its N wall bombs had formed a nearly continuous cover. On the S and SE rim of NEC the deposit was at most a few meters thick. The inner terrace surrounding the central pit, previously 5-10 m below the outer terrace, had subsided at least 10 m, exposing huge caverns in the vertical scarp along which subsidence took place; these were formed during the summer of 1996 when the crater was filled with lava which crusted over and later drained. The dimensions of the central pit had changed little, but its floor had risen to within ~50-60 m of the lowest point on the rim. There was no evidence of fresh ejecta around these vents indicating that no significant eruptive activity had taken place there since the 27-28 March eruption.

Local mountain guides reported on 21 May that there had been no recent activity at NEC. However, on the morning of 1 June there was a series of ash emissions.

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, Università di Catania, Corso Italia 55, 95129 Catania, Italy.


Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Guagua Pichincha

Ecuador

0.171°S, 78.598°W; summit elev. 4784 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Crisis continues into November; many days with one phreatic explosion

The sequence of phreatic explosions initiated on 7 August (BGVN 23:09) continued from 28 October through 17 November (table 1). A substantial number of days were marked by one phreatic explosion. Visible explosions rose at most a few kilometers above the summit. Many explosions were accompanied by tremor; they were seismically characterized with reduced displacements.

Table 1. Some details of Guagua Pichincha's phreatic explosions, their size (as reduced displacements), and associated tremor, 27 October through 17 November 1998. A "--" signifies the data is either inapplicable or not reported. Extracted from the daily reports posted on the website of IG-EPN.

Date Phreatic explosions Reduced displacement Post-explosion tremor Remarks
27-29 Oct 1998 0 -- -- --
30 Oct 1998 1 3.6 cm2 8 hours --
31 Oct 1998 1 -- 30 minutes --
31 Oct 1998 1 -- 20 minutes --
01 Nov 1998 1 5.7 cm2 -- --
01 Nov 1998 1 10.7 cm2 3 hours --
02 Nov 1998 1 12.2 cm2 -- --
03 Nov 1998 1 7.7 cm2 -- Plume rose to 3 km altitude.
04 Nov 1998 1 -- -- High amplitude, spasmodic tremor.
04 Nov 1998 1 14.8 cm2 4 hours --
05 Nov 1998 1 6.0 cm2 30 minuntes --
06 Nov 1998 1 5.3 cm2 -- --
07 Nov 1998 4 <~3.0 cm2 -- --
08 Nov 1998 0 -- -- --
09 Nov 1998 0 -- -- Fumarole "La Locomotora" gave off a 300-m-tall plume.
11 Nov 1998 0 -- -- Fumarole "La Locomotora" gave off a 600-m-tall plume.
12 Nov 1998 1 4.4 cm2 -- --
13 Nov 1998 0 -- -- Two-hour interval of tremor.
14 Nov 1998 0 -- -- Plume reaching 1 km tall.
15 Nov 1998 1 5.7 cm2 20 minutes Poor crater visibility; rockfalls and loud fumaroles heard by park rangers.
16 Nov 1998 1 2.1 cm2 -- --
17 Nov 1998 1 1.7 cm2 -- Spasmodic tremor.

As illustrated in the previous report (BGVN 23:09), volcano-tectonic, long-period, and multiphase earthquakes all escalated prominently during mid-September. During the current reporting interval, these remained elevated but did not increase, and the numbers of the various events, particularly volcano-tectonic and multiphase earthquakes, may have moderated or diminished slightly.

The number of explosions in a single day reached a new high for this crisis: four occurred on 7 November. The previous one-day record, three, had occurred only on two days in mid-October. Yet, the 7 November blasts were followed by four consecutive days with no explosions and, during 8-20 November no day had more than one explosion. As an indication of the pace of the venting, during 7 August-3 November the daily reports noted 59 explosions.

The highest plume seen during the reporting interval came from an explosion at 0715 on 3 November. It rose to ~3 km above the summit. Clear atmospheric conditions enabled residents to see it from the city of Quito. Although atmospheric conditions frequently blocked visibility, local observers saw fumarolic plumes rising from 100 to 1000 m. Thus, on 28 October a plume rose 100 m; on 9, 11, and 14 November, respectively, plumes rose 300, 600, and 1,000 m high. A plume on 4 November was of ambiguous origin, but it rose 1,000 m.

Geologic Background. Guagua Pichincha and the older Pleistocene Rucu Pichincha stratovolcanoes form a broad volcanic massif that rises immediately to the W of Ecuador's capital city, Quito. A lava dome is located at the head of a 6-km-wide breached caldera that formed during a late-Pleistocene slope failure ~50,000 years ago. Subsequent late-Pleistocene and Holocene eruptions from the central vent in the breached caldera consisted of explosive activity with pyroclastic flows accompanied by periodic growth and destruction of the central lava dome. One of Ecuador's most active volcanoes, it is the site of many minor eruptions since the beginning of the Spanish era. The largest historical eruption took place in 1660, when ash fell over a 1000 km radius, accumulating to 30 cm depth in Quito. Pyroclastic flows and surges also occurred, primarily to then W, and affected agricultural activity, causing great economic losses.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Apartado 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador; El Comercio newspaper, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.elcomercio.com); El Universo newspaper, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.eluniverso.com); La Hora newspaper, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.lahora.com); Volcanic Disaster Assistance Program, U.S. Geological Survey, 5400 MacArthur Blvd., Vancouver, Washington 98661 USA (URL: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo/); ORSTOM, A.P. 17-11-6596, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.ird.fr/).


Iwatesan (Japan) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Iwatesan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismic crisis ends on 3 November

Subsequent to the 3 September earthquake (BGVN 23:09), seismicity was low. Except for a few days, the number of tremors during October was <10/day, about the same level as in February-March 1998. The last tremor was observed on 3 November. This implies that the volcanic seismicity crisis (BGVN 23:09) has ended.

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

Information Contacts: Yukio Hayakawa, Faculty of Education, Gunma University, Aramaki, Maebashi 371, Japan.


Karymsky (Russia) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Karymsky

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strombolian eruptions and elevated seismicity continue

On 5 October, the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team reported that seismicity remained above background level. The low-level Strombolian eruptive activity that has characterized the volcano for more than two years continued. About 100-200 earthquakes and gas explosions occurred every day.

On 24 October Tass reported that a Russian-Japanese expedition of volcanologists had finished their work on Karymsky. The participants had spent two weeks at a location 3 km from the mountain studying seismic, acoustic, and other phenomena related to the eruption.

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

Information Contacts: Olga Chubarova, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry; Tom Miller, Alaska Volcano Observatory.


Kerinci (Indonesia) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Rumbling, ash, and sulfur smell on 3 November

Increasing activity culminated in an eruption on 3 November. In the early afternoon the volcano rumbled three times and ash covered the nearby village of Palempok. Residents also noticed a strong sulfur smell. Rumbling was heard twice on 6 November by residents of Tangkil and Palempok. Unfortunately, the seismograph used to monitor the volcano had been inoperative since 3 November.

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: R. Sukhyar, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI), Bandung, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/).


Kilauea (United States) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava from Pu`u `O`o continues to build bench

The eruption of Pu`u `O`o continued in October as lava moved 11 km to the sea through both small, intermittent surface flows and through a lava tube that developed after a pause on 12-14 August (BGVN 23:08).

By 19 October, a 300-m-wide lava bench had grown W of the prominent littoral cone at a new ocean entry, extending 60 m beyond the old shoreline. Surface flows obscured the old sea cliff that once marked the relatively safe visitor viewing areas (figure 124).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 124. An aerial view of the Kamokuna lava bench on the SE coast of Kilauea, 24 September 1998. Note location of the former sea cliff. The bench was ~ 150 m wide at the W entry area, near the larger white plume. Photograph by J. Kauahikaua; courtesy HVO.

Dense volcanic fumes from Pu`u `O`o obscured its crater for several weeks, and no lava has been seen in the crater for many months, although there have been reports of glow at night near the summit. In late October, Pu`u `O`o was releasing ~2,000 tons/day of SO2. This discharge is equivalent to the gas contained in ~400,000 m3 of lava, in concurrence with measurements of lava discharge above the lava tube ~5 km from the vent.

A new skylight formed above the lava tube at 635 m elevation showed lava moving 7-9 m below the surface. This part of the tube formed in August 1997, and since then flowing lava eroded the underlying flows to form a tube that is taller than it is wide.

Pu`u `O`o is the only active vent at Kilauea. The vent area is complex and slowly forms new pits, cracks, and collapse areas. Since the current eruption began in January 1983, a mosaic of flows has buried 16 km of the coastal highway to a depth of 23 m and created nearly 2.6 km2 of new land. Recently, lava has flowed into the sea at three entry points near Kamokuna, 4.8 km E of the end of the "Chain of Craters Road" in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The easternmost entry has been active since August 1997, but is slowly dying as ruptures in the main tube divert lava elsewhere. Other entry points evolved in September and October 1998. The deltas or benches formed at sea entry points are unstable, collapsing without warning. The largest such collapse occurred a few years ago and involved 10 ha of bench material (105 m2).

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 and Mike Garcia, 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.htm).


Klyuchevskoy (Russia) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Klyuchevskoy

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Background seismic and fumarolic activity during October

During October seismicity under the volcano was generally above background levels. Hypocenters of earthquakes recorded through the period were concentrated at two levels: near the summit crater and at depths of 25-30 km. On 1, 14, 15, 18, and 19 October a fumarolic plume was observed during the daylight hours rising 50 m above the summit. On 9 October the plume rose to 100 m above the summit. No fumarolic plumes were seen on 30 September, 2, 3, 6, 11, or 16 October. Clouds prevented direct observation of the summit during the remainder of the month. The alert status remained "green" indicating normal activity through October.

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: Olga Chubarova, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia; Tom Miller, Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667, USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA.


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — October 1998 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)


Large explosion on 21 September causes ashfall

Crater 2 emitted thin to thick white vapor throughout September, with an occasional ash component. Weak roaring noises were reported on 1 September. One large explosion on 21 September sent ash to an altitude of 2-3 km and resulted in ashfalls to the SW. Crater 3 was quiet, emitting only thin white vapor.

The activity at Crater 2 during October was moderate and uneventful. Pale gray ash clouds rose intermittently to ~500 m, without sound. On 21 October, however, weak roaring and rumbling sounds accompanied emissions to 1,000-1,500 m and a bright fluctuating night glow.

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: Patrice de Saint-Ours, Steve Saunders, and Ben Talai, RVO.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — October 1998 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)


Intense eruptive activity resumes in late September

An inflation of ~10 µrad for September was recorded at Tabele Observatory, ~3 km SW of the summit. This deformation, together with increased seismicity, audible rumblings, and night glow evident in the middle of the month, was thought to indicate the onset of renewed activity.

Intense eruptive activity resumed at Manam in late September for the first time since its fatal eruption of November-December 1996. A visible increase in activity started during 23-26 September, with intermittent dark ash emissions and incandescent projections at night to ~200 m above South Crater. On subsequent days activity decreased to continuous white vapor emissions, first profuse then very weak, and occasional roaring sounds and fluctuating red glow. This corresponded to a slight decrease in seismic amplitude levels, but the radial tilt kept showing inflation.

Significant eruptive activity throughout October, including ash emissions, pyroclastic flows, and lava flows, will be described in the next issue.

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: Patrice de Saint-Ours, Steve Saunders, and Ben Talai, RVO.


Nyamuragira (DR Congo) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyamuragira

DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E; summit elev. 3058 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Flank lava flow in October; TOMS data

Eruptive activity occurred at Nyamuragira volcano beginning on 17 October. During the following week several Strombolian explosions and effusive activity were reported. Lava "gently gushed" from the cone and through a fissure in its side, according to an official at the National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) quoted in a Reuters news report. On 19 October the central crater opened and the lava flowed into the surrounding forest. Glow was visible at night from the city of Goma, ~30 km SE of the volcano. The flows were still active but diminishing at the time of the last report on 25 October. Scientists are not able to visit the site because of the threat of civil unrest. Virunga National Park has been closed for months.

An SO2 plume was first detected by the Earth Probe Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) on 18 October. Although the image resolution is not sufficient to differentiate between Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo as a plume source, the former has previously emitted large amounts of sulfur dioxide. Imagery the next day (figure 16) showed that the plume extended ~700 km SW from the volcano and covered an area of 300,000 km2. Scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center calculated that this plume contained 115 kilotons (kt) of SO2. An SO2 plume was detected on each day from 18 through 29 October. On 29 October the plume was directed to the N and contained 10 kt of SO2. No SO2 was detected in images taken from 30 October through 4 November. Visible satellite imagery acquired by the Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Center on 20 October did not show any evidence of an ash plume, but convective clouds were obscuring the area.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 16a. Detail of Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) satellite image of the SO2 plume over Nyamuragira on 19 October 1998. Darker areas represent higher concentrations; those areas contained within black represent higher concentrations than the black areas. Courtesy of George Stephens and Robert Farquhar, NOAA/NESDIS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16b. Color Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) satellite image of the SO2 plume over Nyamuragira on 19 October 1998. Red areas represent higher concentrations. Courtesy of George Stephens and Robert Farquhar, NOAA/NESDIS.

Historical eruptions at Nyamuragira have occurred within the summit caldera and from numerous flank fissures and cinder cones. Twentieth-century flank lava flows extend 30 km from the summit. This eruption was the first from Nyamuragira since December 1996 (BGVN 21:10). Nyamuragira is one of two frequently active volcanoes in that part of Virunga National Park; the other is Nyiragongo, which sits closer to Goma.

Geologic Background. Africa's most active volcano, Nyamuragira, is a massive high-potassium basaltic shield about 25 km N of Lake Kivu. Also known as Nyamulagira, it has generated extensive lava flows that cover 1500 km2 of the western branch of the East African Rift. The broad low-angle shield volcano contrasts dramatically with the adjacent steep-sided Nyiragongo to the SW. The summit is truncated by a small 2 x 2.3 km caldera that has walls up to about 100 m high. Historical eruptions have occurred within the summit caldera, as well as from the numerous fissures and cinder cones on the flanks. A lava lake in the summit crater, active since at least 1921, drained in 1938, at the time of a major flank eruption. Historical lava flows extend down the flanks more than 30 km from the summit, reaching as far as Lake Kivu.

Information Contacts: C. Akumbi, Goma Volcano Observatory, Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; Stephen J. Schaefer, Joint Center for Earth System Technology (NASA-UMBC), Mail Code 921, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771 USA; George Stephens, NOAA/NESDIS, E/SP22, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746-4304, USA; Robert D. Farquhar, NOAA/NESDIS, FB-4, Suitland, MD 20233-9909 USA; Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Toulouse, Météo-France, 42 Avenue Gaspard Coriolis, F-31057 Toulouse cedex, France; Reuters Limited.


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Moderate eruptions, 17 October ashfall in Mexico City

There were a few instances of moderate disturbance during October, and a relatively large emission occurred on 17 October; otherwise, Popocatépetl remained generally stable at low levels of eruptive activity, including almost daily emissions of steam and gas. Since the possibility of explosions remained, authorities recommended that no one approach within 4 km of the crater. The caution light remained "yellow" throughout the month.

Steam-and-gas fumaroles rose up to 500 m above the summit several times during the first week of October. The emissions usually blew SE. Two slightly larger exhalations lasting 5 minutes each at 0218 and 1409 on 4 October may have also released ash, but this was unconfirmed owing to bad weather obstructing views of the volcano. At 2312 on 5 October an explosive event began. An intense two minute phase was followed by 30 minutes of steam, gas, and ash emission that formed a plume 4 km above the crater. Glow was also seen at this time. Activity quickly diminished to previous low levels.

At 1715 on 17 October a larger exhalation began: its intense phase lasted about 16 minutes and produced an ash column (figure 27). The plume rose 2 km above the summit and blew NW (towards Mexico City).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Basal portion of an ash column from Popocatepetl on the afternoon of 17 October as seen from a video monitor. Courtesy of CENAPRED.

The ash column was initially detected by Doppler radar located at CENAPRED headquarters in Mexico City, and staff there immediately informed air-traffic controllers. The ash emission persisted for 20 minutes, after which the volcano returned to its previous low-level activity (steam and gas emissions only). One hour after the beginning of the event, reports were received of ashfall at Amecameca, Tenango del Aire, and other towns NW of the volcano.

At 2040 another smaller exhalation took place with a duration of only 1 minute. At about 2100 light ash from the earlier eruption fell at CENAPRED headquarters, UNAM, and at other places in SW Mexico City. Activity soon dropped to characteristic low-intensity exhalations. A similar moderate emission lasted 1 minute at 1859 on 24 October; the event was followed by low-amplitude, high-frequency tremor for about 20 minutes, producing a 2,500-m-high column of gas, water vapor, and ash.

A-type earthquakes were recorded at 0956 on 16 October (M 2.6, at a point 6.6 km below the summit), at 2227 on 22 October (M 2.0, at a point 7 km below the crater), at 1751 (M 2.1) and 1919 (M 1.8) on 29 October, and at 0942 (M 2.4) on 30 October. Two minutes of low-amplitude, low-frequency tremor began at 1355 on 29 October. None of these events seemed to affect activity at the volcano.

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

Information Contacts: Servando De la Cruz-Reyna1,2, Roberto Quaas1,2, Carlos Valdés G.2, and Alicia Martinez Bringas1. 1Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED) Delfin Madrigal 665, Col. Pedregal de Santo Domingo,Coyoacan, 04360, México D.F. (URL: https://www.gob.mx/cenapred/); 2Instituto de Geofisica, UNAM, Coyoacán 04510, México D.F., México.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — October 1998 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)


Low seismicity, but regular eruptions continue

The activity at Tavurvur continued as in previous months, with regular Vulcanian eruptions mainly emitting dust with few blocks. These events occurred at intervals of ten minutes to one hour; the longer the preceding interval, the more powerful the eruption.

The overall trend of seismic activity remained low, although short periods of increased activity were observed. During the first two weeks, on 5, 6, 8, and 10 September, bands of discontinuous non-harmonic low-amplitude tremor lasted from a few minutes to about an hour. This activity was coupled with a daily average of 10 discrete low-frequency earthquakes. From 13 September, an increase in low-frequency events became more apparent, with the highest number of 128 recorded on the 18th. This increase continued until 23 September, after which the activity declined to previous levels. Event counts recorded at the KPT seismic station, ~1.5 km W from Tavurvur crater, showed an increase during the month. The total number of events was about 675 compared to about 154 in August. RSAM values also showed a general increase. A few high-frequency earthquakes on 3 September were too small to be located, only seismic stations to the N of the Rabaul Harbor Network recorded them.

A water-tube tiltmeter at Sulphur Creek (3.5 km from Tavurvur) showed a 3.5-mm inflation of Tavurvur for the month. This inflation has been continuing ever since a 20-µrad deflation associated with an eruption on 14 March 1997. In other words, eruptions after 14 March 1997 have lacked significant deflation, and since then cumulative inflation has totaled ~30 µrad.

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: Patrice de Saint-Ours, Steve Saunders, and Ben Talai, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Sabancaya (Peru) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Sabancaya

Peru

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent gas plumes in early September, some with ash

Activity was monitored during 1-9 September using detailed field observations combined with satellite and aerial remote sensing data. Activity was generally similar to that reported in August. On 6 September a large eruption began. In the preceding days activity had fluctuated. On 1 September, the only activity observed was a small white gas cloud at 0944. Gas clouds were emitted from 0748 until 0942 on 2 September. These predominantly white and gray clouds rose only 200 m above the crater before dissipating. The only exception was a period of ten minutes when brown and dark gray clouds issued from the crater. The sole emission the following day was a small white gas cloud at 1506. On 4 and 5 September small gas emissions were observed from the fumarole on the S side of the cone.

Activity on 6 September was first noted at 0702 when large white and gray gas clouds rose from the whole crater. At 0704 part of the gas column began to sink and move down the upper flanks, obscuring the E-flank ice walls. The gray and brown gas cloud was densest on the S side of the crater and appeared to be expanding as it rose. At 0711, the whiter part of the cloud rose upward while the dark gray portion dropped ash on the N side of the cone. Wind speeds at the summit appeared to increase, and the 400-m-high column began to be pushed N. At 0716 more gas descended the flanks. At 0735 observers on the edge of the easternmost lava flow could smell sulfur.

The main gas emission continued to be from the S side of the crater and at 0740 another cloud descended over halfway down the flanks. At 0743 a large white and dark gray gas cloud emerged from the crater. Ash fell from it onto the upper and mid-slopes. Another large gray, white, and brown plume filled the whole crater at 0746 and billowing to 400 m. At 0749 the plume color changed to brown, yellow, and dark gray. Ash was blown N. New gas clouds emerged from the crater on average every 30 seconds. At 0824 the cloud color returned to white and light gray for a few minutes before it once again became brown, gray, and yellow. The brown portion seemed to contain the ash. Gas once again descended the upper slopes at 0846. Winds at the summit began to pull the top of the plumes apart and by 0854 they were almost flat across the crater.

There was a reduction in gas emission at 1143. Gas continued to periodically descend the upper slopes and ashfall appeared to be mainly on the N slopes. At 1155 a gas cloud descended to mid-slope. The interval between gas emissions grew during the afternoon. After three hours of white- and gray-colored gas clouds, yellow, white, and brown clouds emerged again at 1604. This marked renewal of activity was similar to that in the early morning. Gas originated mainly from the southern fumarole and occasionally descended the upper slopes. Gas clouds rose 500 m and formed a cumulo-like mass. At 1737 there was a big gas release, part of which descended the cone slope while the main cloud rose and curled N over the crater. After this the intensity of the activity from the cone diminished and gas clouds became light gray.

On 7 September a faint brown haze was noted over Sabancaya at 0630. Dust in the atmosphere obscured viewing. Gas clouds were observed at 0643, 0704, 0719, and 1210. Visibility improved around mid-day, and ashfall was observed on the S side of the cone at 1243. At 1652 a small gas cloud descended the upper slopes. From 1740 until dark, gas emissions were continuous, but none were seen the following day. On 9 September observers on a morning flight around the volcano observed light emissions from fumaroles on the N and S crater rims. Fresh sulfur deposits existed on the crater walls. The crater itself was deeper than the year before and the floor could not be seen. Recent ash eruptions had covered the ice walls on the E side.

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: Mark Bulmer, Frederick Engle, and Andrew Johnston, Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC 20560-0315 USA; Guido Salas, Departamento Academico de Geoloia y Geofisica, Universidad Nacional de San Augustin, Arequipa, Perú; Elian Perea, Universidad Nacional de San Augustin, Arequipa, Perú.


San Cristobal (Nicaragua) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

San Cristobal

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Heavy rains from hurricane Mitch result in deadly avalanche and lahar from Casita

On 30 October 1998 a disastrous event (called a "mudflow" in newspapers) occurred on the S flank of Casita volcano. According to official reports, the incident killed between 1,560 and 1,680 people, displaced hundreds more, destroyed several towns and settlements, and disrupted the Pan American Highway at numerous bridges. On 11 and 12 November the first scientific team visited the volcano to investigate the disaster. The team examined the summit area on the first day and made a complete traverse of the devastated zone as far S as the Pan American Highway on the second day. This report presents the team's conclusions and provides some recommendations regarding future risks.

Background. Casita is within the Cordillera Maribios, a 70-km-long volcanic chain that extends from the N shore of Lake Managua to the vicinity of Chinandega. Casita is part of the San Cristóbal volcanic complex, which consists of five principal volcanic edifices. The largest volcano in Nicaragua, San Cristóbal lies 4 km WNW of Casita and has exhibited frequent episodes of historical activity; at present it is emitting a vigorous fumarolic plume. For these reasons San Cristóbal has been studied in greater detail.

Casita is a composite volcano with deeply dissected morphology. The top of the volcano consists of a cluster of dacite domes. At its summit is a 1-km diameter crater that could be reached by a road - now impassable - to service telecommunication towers. A set of prominent NE-trending normal faults cut the summit area bounding each side of the crater. Explosion craters on the southern plain are aligned along a conjugate set of fractures trending NW-SE. No historical volcanic activity has been reported at Casita; however, the domes of the summit area are autobrecciated and exhibit strong hydrothermal alteration, which is consistent with low-temperature fumarolic activity.

Meteorological conditions. Hurricane Mitch was a major factor in the disaster. Abnormal rainfall related to Mitch began on 25 October. By 27 October the precipitation reached 100 mm/day and increased continuously to a maximum of ~500 mm/day on 30 October, the day of the avalanche. The total rainfall in October was 1,984 mm. Within three days, precipitation dropped to normal levels. For comparison, the average rainfall for October is 328 mm; thus the rainfall associated with the disaster was more than 6 times the average.

Source zone. The main source of the avalanche was 200 m SW of the volcano summit, and 60 to 80 m below the telecommunication towers. A secondary source was located at the same elevation but 100 m SE of the summit. The rock in this area is a hydrothermally altered and brecciated dacite dome. The principal rupture occurred along a ~500-m-long segment of a NE-trending fault that intersects the summit. A slab measuring ~20 m thick, 60 m high, and 150 m long detached slid down the fault plane that was inclined about 45 degrees SE. The volume of source block for the first rockslide was ~200,000 m3.

Avalanche event. Inhabitants of the lower plains described the sound of the avalanche as similar to a helicopter. Multiple witnesses gave the time as between 1030 and 1100 on 30 October. The main slide mass immediately shattered into its original breccia blocks coated by vein precipitates. The initial SE movement of the avalanche blocks was deflected to the SW along a deep gully oriented parallel to the fault. A smaller part of the avalanche surmounted a small ridge and continued SE towards the village of Argelia.

For the first 2 km the main avalanche remained confined to a narrow valley. The top of the flow was 150 to 250 m wide; its depth, 30 to 60 m. A typical cross section of the peak flow was 7,500 to 9,000 m2. The flow swashed back and forth on its downward course. Super-elevation calculations at locations of overbank flow gave a velocity of ~15 m/s in the upper reaches. Deposits high on the volcano consisted of altered dacite blocks up to meter-size. They contained essentially no matrix, with the finest particles centimeter-sized. The margin of the avalanche was sharp and flying rocks scarred the adjacent trees at 2-3 m height. A few trees were decapitated at heights of several meters.

At a prominent break in slope 2-3 km from the source, large ramps of avalanche materials formed imbricate ridges. Here the deposits, 4-6 m thick, still lacked matrix. The avalanche materials were essentially clast supported. The avalanche scoured blocks of lava from the walls, and up to 10 m deep into clay-rich soil in the base of the valley where it passed.

Lahar runout flow. Soon after the onset of the avalanche, a lahar runout flow, as defined in Scott (1988), initiated from the major accumulation zone of the primary avalanche. In other words, the source of the lahar runout flow formed in the thickest accumulation of debris at the mouth of the avalanche valley, 3 km from the summit and 3 km above the towns of El Porvenir (formerly Augusto Cesar Sandino) and Rolando Rodriguez. The populations of these two towns were respectively 600 and 1,250 according to the last census. The location of the sites of El Porvenir and Rolando Rodriguez could only be found by GPS data; there remained almost no evidence of former human habitation.

Apparently the lahar runout flow resulted from rapid dewatering of the saturated avalanche. The flood surge moved as a hyperconcentrated flow, depositing a thin (~40 cm thick) layer of gravel with some clay matrix on the overbank zones, and transporting meter-size blocks within the incised channels. The peak height of the flood surge was 3 m as it entered El Porvenir, as evidenced by stripped bark from the few standing trees. Nearly all vegetation and soil was removed by the leading edge of the wave. However, a few islands of vegetation were spared on some hills. The width of the flood surge in its upper reaches was ~1,500 m. Assuming an average peak depth of about 3 m, this yields a cross sectional area of flood surge at 4,500 m2.

Casualties and damage. Based on observations in the field, the towns of El Porvenir and Rolando Rodriguez were destroyed beyond recognition. It is unknow how many people survived. Visible cadavers and dead livestock on the overbank had been burned for sanitary reasons. Many other small hamlets, residences, and farms were destroyed.

Future hazard potential. The disaster of 30 October, was produced by the coincidence of two discrete events: extraordinarily heavy rains and an avalanche. Neither of these alone would have produced such extensive damage to the surrounding area. In this respect note that the towns of El Porvenir and Rolando Rodriguez were established only a few decades ago in this area of high geologic risk. To reduce threats for new settlements, comprehensive geologic hazard studies can help identify regions with elevated risk.

In the absence of another episode of heavy rainfall, the new deposits seem to be stable. In fact, there is little mud or silt within the deposits at higher elevations to facilitate remobilization. However, the conditions near the summit that favored the rockslide avalanche still exist. Altered and fractured dacite occurs on steep slopes at a high elevation. Destabilizing events, such as an earthquake or torrential rains, could produce another avalanche in an adjacent area. The probability of such an extreme avalanche seems remote. However, an assessment of the associated hazards and risks should be undertaken.

Reference. Scott, Kevin M., 1988, Origins, behavior, and sedimentology of lahars and lahar-runout flows in the Toutle-Cowlitz River system: U.S.G.S. Professional Paper 1447-A, 74 p.

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

Information Contacts: Michael F. Sheridan, SUNY, Buffalo, New York; Claus Siebe, UNAM, Mexico; Christophe Bonnard, EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland; Wilfried Strauch; Martha Navarro, Jorge Cruz Calero, and Nelson Buitrago Trujillo, INETER, Nicaragua.


Sheveluch (Russia) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Sheveluch

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


A few minor gas-and-steam plumes in October

Seismicity remained generally at background levels during October. During 1, 16, and 23 October plumes were seen rising 200 m above the volcano. On 19 and 24 October, gas-and-steam plumes rose 100 m above the volcano. No plumes were seen on 2, 3, and 9 October. During other days the summit was obscured by cloud. The level-of-concern color code remained green.

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

Information Contacts: Olga Chubarova, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia; Tom Miller, Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667, USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA.


Stromboli (Italy) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Larger explosions in January, August, and September 1998

Moderate activity prevailed at Stromboli from January to May 1997 (BGVN 22:03). During this period there was a slight decrease in tremor intensity and a slight increase in the number of recorded events (figure 56). Events exceeding the saturation level of the summit seismic station numbered fewer than 10% of the total recorded.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Seismicity detected at the summit of Stromboli from January 1997 through August 1998. Gray bars show the number of recorded events/day, and the black bars those saturating the instrument (ground velocity exceeding 100 µm/s). The line shows daily tremor intensity computed by averaging hourly 60-second samples. The seismic station is located 300 m from the craters at 800 m elevation. Courtesy of Roberto Carniel.

There was a marked increase in the total number of events during June-July 1997, sometimes in excess of 300 per day. Following a month-long lapse, an even larger long-term increase began in September that continued until November 1997. There were several days in this interval when triggering of the seismic station was almost continuous and tremor intensity reached high values, behavior that usually coincided with continuous spattering at the vents. No seismic data were recorded between 24 November 1997 and 9 January 1998. Activity had returned to moderate levels by the time seismic data acquisition resumed on 10 January 1998 (figure 56). The number of daily events rapidly decreased, as did tremor intensity.

At 1130 on 16 January 1998, a strong explosion in the crater area was similar to others at Stromboli during the last few years; one comparable event occurred on 4 September 1996 (BGVN 22:03). Such explosions are not a danger to the villages of Stromboli and Ginostra (figure 57), but they may be dangerous for tourists visiting the summit because bombs easily reach the usual observation points. Another risk is that fires, started by incandescent bombs, may spread in the vegetation. In the case of the 16 January eruption, bad weather prevented tourists from climbing the volcano and rain extinguished any wildfires.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Sketch map of Stromboli Island, showing locations referred to in the text. Courtesy of Roberto Carniel.

A new rise in seismicity began a few days after the explosion. A peak was reached during 16-20 February; on 19 February, 405 events were recorded, and on 20 February tremor intensity was high and 43 saturating events were noted. After this increase, activity decreased steadily with only a few fluctuations until the end of April. The total number of events recorded during the decrease was sometimes

During May-June seismic activity increased. During July two sharp drops in the level of activity were observed: the number of events did not exceed 80 per day during 1-3 July, and went below 50 per day during 22-24 July. Tremor intensity reached the minimum of the year on 22 July. There was a slight upturn in August.

At 1726 on 23 August, another powerful explosion occurred at the craters. The strong blast was heard throughout the island, and a column of ash and lapilli shot over the craters. Incandescent bombs fell over a vast area towards Vallonazzo, Labronzo, and Forgia Vecchia. At least one other explosion followed. Several fires started in vegetation on the upper slopes; the largest one, near Forgia Vecchia, was not extinguished until the next day. Fortunately, although a high number of tourists were on the island, no one was hurt. A dark ash column was eventually replaced by a large, light ash cloud. Small lapilli fell in Ginostra. Bombs were found on the tourist path down to 750 m elevation, and in other directions bombs fell to 500 m. Authorities immediately blocked public access to the upper part of the volcano. The explosion also caused significant morphological changes to the rim of Crater 1 towards Semaforo Labronzo.

Another strong explosion, perhaps more energetic than that of 23 August, happened at 1914 on 8 September. A considerable atmospheric shock wave was reported at the village of Stromboli, and broken windows were reported near San Bartolo. Ash and small lapilli fell near Ginostra and several bush fires were started by bombs on the volcano's slopes. Unfortunately, the seismic station was not operational at the time due to a technical problem.

Stromboli, a small island N of Sicily, has been in almost continuous eruption for over 2,000 years. It is the namesake for small Strombolian explosions, which hurl incandescent scoriae above the crater rim several times a day, with infrequent larger eruptions.

Geologic Background. Spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions at this volcano have long attracted visitors to the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean." Stromboli, the NE-most of the Aeolian Islands, has lent its name to the frequent mild explosive activity that has characterized its eruptions throughout much of historical time. The small island is the emergent summit of a volcano that grew in two main eruptive cycles, the last of which formed the western portion of the island. The Neostromboli eruptive period took place between about 13,000 and 5,000 years ago. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a prominent horseshoe-shaped scarp formed about 5,000 years ago due to a series of slope failures that extend to below sea level. The modern volcano has been constructed within this scarp, which funnels pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows to the NW. Essentially continuous mild Strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded for more than a millennium.

Information Contacts: Roberto Carniel, Dipartimento di Georisorse e Territorio, Universitá di Udine, Via Cotonificio, 114 I-33100 Udine; Jürg Alean, Kantonsschule Zürcher Unterland, CH-8180 Bülach, Switzerland.


Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — October 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Ulawun

Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


White vapor plumes throughout September

A white vapor plume was present throughout September; it appeared to vary in thickness, probably as a result of atmospheric conditions. Observed seismicity was low to moderate. An aerial inspection on 1 October, as part of the Ulawun Decade Volcano workshop, showed the summit crater to be open, ~150-200 m in diameter, with vertical sides descending at least 50 m before being lost in thick white fume.

Geologic Background. The symmetrical basaltic-to-andesitic Ulawun stratovolcano is the highest volcano of the Bismarck arc, and one of Papua New Guinea's most frequently active. The volcano, also known as the Father, rises above the N coast of the island of New Britain across a low saddle NE of Bamus volcano, the South Son. The upper 1,000 m is unvegetated. A prominent E-W escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and E flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side, and a flank lava-flow complex lies to the south of this valley. Historical eruptions date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions were mildly explosive until 1967, but after 1970 several larger eruptions produced lava flows and basaltic pyroclastic flows, greatly modifying the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Patrice de Saint-Ours, Steve Saunders, and Ben Talai, RVO.


White Island (New Zealand) — October 1998 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)


Minor gas-and-ash eruptions in August and October

A minor eruption at White Island in August (BGVN 23:08), which was investigated by volcanologists from the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (IGNS), persisted until late in September. Analysis of samples collected during the visits continued through September. Eruptive activity recommenced in late October, prompting another investigative visit on 2 November. The following reports is summarized from IGNS Science Alert Bulletins.

A new active vent in the NW corner of the 1978-1990 Crater Complex produced intermittent weak ash emissions during late August and early September that rose 100-1,500 m above the island. September ash contained more fresh volcanic glass than previous samples, but this failed to give clear indication of new magma being the source because the eruptions came from a crusted-over magma body.

Weak volcanic tremor on 10-11 September appeared on seismic records and impacted estimates of the Real-Time Seismic Amplitude (RSAM). The RSAM outputs a number of 'counts' over set time intervals. The higher the counts the stronger the volcanic tremor signal and the stronger the volcanic activity. The RSAM count level in mid-September was about 12-13, on a scale of several thousand, having risen from the typical background of 2-3 counts. There were no reports of ash after 18 September and seismicity was reduced to background levels. The Alert Level was reduced from 2 to 1 on 29 September.

Minor eruptive activity recommenced on 24 October. Small amounts of ash were emitted on 24-25 October, and on 31 October a steam-and-ash column rose in calm conditions to 1,500-1,600 m above the volcano. Weak volcanic tremor reappeared at about the same time as the ash eruptions recommenced; however seismicity remained low.

A surveillance visit was made on 2 November to assess the activity, conduct a deformation survey, and collect ash and gas samples. The level of activity varied during this visit, but the most energetic activity observed was not sufficient to raise the Alert Level. The active vent at the base of the NW wall of the 1978-1990 crater had grown slightly since August. A very weak ash-charged reddish-gray convecting plume was emitted. Occasional yellowish hues were present in the plume, consistent with the periodic eruption of hydrothermal sulfur from the vent. The maximum temperature measured in the ash column was 451°C.

Eruptive activity over previous days had deposited 15 mm of fine dark gray ash at the crater rim. Examination of the ash indicated no change in character from that of the July-August eruptions. Ground-deformation surveys showed a consistent trend of minor deflation across the main crater floor, with the largest changes (20-30 mm) near the crater rim. However, fumarole temperatures had increased nominally since August 31. Fumarole ##1 was at 113°C (up from 101°C), was moderately dry, and had molten sulfur in the orifice (indicating temperatures in excess of 119°C in the vent). Donald Mound continued to discharge only low-pressure steam from diffuse areas of steaming ground, and the cracks around Peg M continued to discharge steam close to the boiling point. Maximum temperature at Noisy Nellie was 140°C (up from 126°C), whereas pressures were similar to those observed in August. Fumarole 13a was 111°C, a slight increase from August (105°C). The plume from the island appeared to carry a heavier SO2 burden than observed in August.

The uninhabited 2 x 2.4 km White Island is the emergent 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 also forms a prominent part of 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, Institute of Geological and 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/).