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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

Stromboli (Italy) Constant explosions from both crater areas during November 2018-February 2019

Krakatau (Indonesia) Ash plumes, ballistic ejecta, and lava extrusion during October-December; partial collapse and tsunami in late December; Surtseyan activity in December-January 2019

Masaya (Nicaragua) Lava lake persists with decreased thermal output, November 2018-February 2019

Santa Maria (Guatemala) Daily explosions cause steam-and-ash plumes and block avalanches, November 2018-February 2019

Reventador (Ecuador) Multiple daily explosions with ash plumes and incandescent blocks rolling down the flanks, October 2018-January 2019

Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) Weak explosions and ash plumes beginning 21 October 2018

Kerinci (Indonesia) A persistent gas-and-steam plume and intermittent ash plumes occurred from July 2018 through January 2019

Yasur (Vanuatu) Eruption continues with ongoing explosions and multiple active crater vents, August 2018-January 2019

Ambae (Vanuatu) Ash plumes and lahars in July 2018 cause evacuation of the island; intermittent gas-and-steam and ash plumes through January 2019

Agung (Indonesia) Ongoing intermittent ash plumes and frequent gas-and-steam plumes during August 2018-January 2019

Erebus (Antarctica) Lava lakes persist through 2017 and 2018

Villarrica (Chile) Intermittent Strombolian activity ejects incandescent bombs around crater rim, September 2018-February 2019



Stromboli (Italy) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Constant explosions from both crater areas during November 2018-February 2019

Nearly 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 island. 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 a location closer to the summit craters.

Eruptive activity from November 2018 to February 2019 was consistent in terms of explosion intensities and rates from both crater areas at the summit, and similar to activity of the past few years (table 5). In the North Crater area, both vents N1 and N2 emitted a mixture of coarse (lapilli and bombs) and fine (ash) ejecta; most explosions rose less than 80 m above the vents, some reached 150 m. Average explosion rates ranged from 4 to 21 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 3-16 per hour. Thermal activity at Stromboli was actually higher during November 2018-February 2019 than it had been in previous months as recorded in the MIROVA Log Radiative Power data from MODIS infrared satellite information (figure 139).

Table 5. Summary of activity levels at Stromboli, November 2018-February 2019. Low intensity activity indicates ejecta rising less than 80 m and medium intensity is ejecta rising less than 150 m. Data courtesy of INGV.

Month N Area Activity CS Area Activity
Nov 2018 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2, lapilli and bombs mixed with ash, explosion rates of 6-16 per hour. Continuous degassing at C; intense spattering on 26 Nov. Low- to medium-intensity incandescent jetting at S1. Low- to medium-intensity explosions at S2 with a mix of coarse and fine ejecta and explosion rates of 3-18 per hour.
Dec 2018 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2, coarse and fine ejecta, explosion rates of 4-21 per hour. Three days of intense spattering at N2. Continuous degassing at C; intense spattering 1-2 Dec. Low- to medium-intensity incandescent jets at S1, low and medium-intensity explosions of coarse and fine material at S2. Average explosion raters were 10-18 per hour at the beginning of the month, 3-4 per hour during last week.
Jan 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at N1, coarse ejecta. Low- to medium-intensity and spattering at N2, coarse and fine ejecta. Explosion rates of 9-16 per hour. Continuous degassing and low-intensity explosions of coarse ejecta at C. Low-intensity incandescent jets at S1. Low- and medium-intensity explosions of coarse and fine ejecta at S2.
Feb 2019 Medium-intensity explosions with coarse ejecta at N1. Low-intensity explosions with fine ash at N2. Explosion rates of 4-11 per hour. Continuous degassing and low-intensity explosions with coarse and fine ejecta at C and S2. Low intensity incandescent jets at S1. Explosion rates of 2-13 per hour.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 139.Thermal activity at Stromboli increased during November 2018-February 2019 compared with the preceding several months as recorded in the MIROVA project log radiative power data taken from MODIS thermal satellite information. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity at the N area was very consistent during November 2018 (figure 140). Explosions of low-intensity (less than 80 m high) to medium-intensity (less than 150 m high) occurred at both the N1 and N2 vents and produced coarse material (lapilli and bombs) mixed with ash, at rates averaging 6-16 explosions per hour. In the SC area continuous degassing was reported from vent C with a brief period of intense spattering on 26 November. At vent S1 low- to medium-intensity incandescent jetting was reported. At vent S2, low- and medium-intensity explosive activity produced a mixture of coarse and fine (ash) material at a frequency of 3-18 events per hour.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 140. The Terrazza Craterica at Stromboli on 12 November 2018 as viewed by the thermal camera placed on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa, showing the two main crater areas and the active vents within each area that are discussed in the text. Heights above the crater terrace, as indicators of intensity of the explosions, are shown divided into three intervals of low (basso), medium (media), and high (alta). Courtesy of INGV (Report 46/2018, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale 05/11/2018 - 11/11/2018, data emissione 13/11/2018).

Similar activity continued during December at both crater areas, although there were brief periods of more intense activity. Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N area vents produced a mixture of coarse and fine-grained material at rates averaging 4-21 per hour. During 6-7 December ejecta from the N vents fell onto the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco and rolled down the gullies to the coast, producing tongues of debris (figure 141). An explosion at N1 on 12 December produced a change in the structure of the crater area. During 10-16 December the ejecta from the N area landed outside the crater on the Sciara del Fuoco. Intense spattering was observed from N2 on 18, 22, and 31 December. In the CS area, continuous degassing took place at vent C, along with a brief period of intense spattering on 1-2 December. Low to medium intensity incandescent jets persisted at S1 along with low-and medium-intensity explosions of coarse and fine-grained material at vent S2. Rates of explosion at the CS area were higher at the beginning of December (10-18 per hour) and lower during the last week of the month (3-4 per hour).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 141. Images from the Q 400 thermal camera at Stromboli taken on 6 December 2018 showed the accumulation of pyroclastic material in several gullies on the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco following an explosion at vent N2 at 1520 UTC. The images illustrate the rapid cooling of the pyroclastic material in the subsequent two hours. Courtesy of INGV (Report 50/2018, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 03/12/2018 - 09/12/2018, data emissione 11/12/2018).

Explosive intensity was low (ejecta less than 80 m high) at vent N1 at the beginning of January 2019 and increased to medium (ejecta less than 150 m high) during the second half of the month, producing coarse ejecta of lapilli and bombs. Intensity at vent N2 was low to medium throughout the month with both coarse- and fine-grained material ejected. Explosions from N2 sent large blocks onto the Sciara del Fuoco several times throughout the month and usually was accompanied by intense spattering. Explosion rates varied, with averages of 9 to 16 per hour, throughout the month in the N area. In the CS area continuous degassing occurred at vent C, and low-intensity explosions of coarse-grained material were reported during the second half of the month. Low-intensity incandescent jets at S1 along with low- and medium-intensity explosions of coarse and fine-grained material at S2 persisted throughout the month.

A helicopter overflight of Stromboli on 8 January 2019 allowed for detailed visual and thermal observations of activity and of the morphology of the vents at the summit (figure 142). Vent C had two small hornitos, and a small scoria cone was present in vent S1, while a larger crater was apparent at S2. In the N crater area vent N2 had a large scoria cone that faced the Sciara del Fuoco to the north; three narrow gullies were visible at the base of the cone (figure 143). Vent S1 was a large crater containing three small vents aligned in a NW-SE trend; INGV scientists concluded the vents formed as a result of the 12 December 2018 explosion. Thermal images showed relatively low temperatures at all fumaroles compared with earlier visits.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 142. Thermal images from Stromboli taken during the overflight of 8 January 2019 showed the morphological structure of the individual vents of the N and CS crater areas. Courtesy of INGV (Report 03/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 07/01/2019 - 13/01/2019, (data emissione 15/01/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 143. An image taken at Stromboli during the overflight of 8 January 2019 shows the morphological structure of the summit Terrazza Craterica with three gullies at the base of the scoria cone of vent N2. The top thermal image (inset a) shows that the fumaroles in the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco have low temperatures. Courtesy of INGV (Report 03/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 07/01/2019 - 13/01/2019, data emissione 15/01/2019).

Activity during February 2019 declined slightly from the previous few months. Explosions at vent N1 were of medium-intensity and produced coarse material (lapilli and bombs). At N2, low-intensity explosions produced fine ash. Average explosion rates in the N area ranged from 4-11 per hour. At the CS area, continuous degassing and low-intensity explosions produced coarse and fine-grained material from vents C and S2 while low-intensity incandescent jets were active at S1. The explosion rates at the CS area averaged 2-13 per hour.

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

Information Contacts: 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/).


Krakatau (Indonesia) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes, ballistic ejecta, and lava extrusion during October-December; partial collapse and tsunami in late December; Surtseyan activity in December-January 2019

Krakatau volcano, between Java in Sumatra in the Sunda Straight of Indonesia, is known for its catastrophic collapse in 1883 that produce far-reaching pyroclastic flows, ashfall, and tsunami. The pre-1883 edifice had grown within an even older collapse caldera that formed around 535 CE, resulting in a 7-km-wide caldera and the three surrounding islands of Verlaten, Lang, and Rakata (figure 55). Eruptions that began in late December 1927 (figures 56 and 57) built the Anak Krakatau cone above sea level (Sudradjat, 1982; Simkin and Fiske, 1983). Frequent smaller eruptions since that time, over 40 short episodes consisting of ash plumes, incandescent blocks and bombs, and lava flows, constructed an island reaching 338 m elevation.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. The three islands of Verlaten, Lang, and Rakata formed during a collapse event around 535 CE. Another collapse event occurred in 1883, producing widespread ashfall, pyroclastic flows, and triggering a tsunami. Through many smaller eruptions since then, Anak Krakatau has since grown in the center of the caldera. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) satellite image acquired on 16 November 2018, courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Photo sequence (made from a film) at 6-second intervals from the early phase of activity on 24 January 1928 that built the active Anak Krakatau cone above the ocean surface. Plume height reached about 1 km. View is from about 4.5 km away at a beach on Verlaten Island looking SE towards Rakata Island in the right background. Photos by Charles E. Stehn (Netherlands Indies Volcanological Survey) from the E.G. Zies Collection, Smithsonian Institution.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Submarine explosions in January 1928 built the active Anak Krakatau cone above the ocean surface. View is from about 600 m away looking E towards Lang Island in the background. Photos by Charles E. Stehn (Netherlands Indies Volcanological Survey) from the E.G. Zies Collection, Smithsonian Institution.

Historically there has been a lot of confusion about the name and preferred spelling of this volcano. Some have incorrectly made a distinction between the pre-1883 edifice being called "Krakatoa" and then using "Krakatau" for the current volcano. Anak Krakatau is the name of the active cone, but the overall volcano name is simply Krakatau. Simkin and Fiske (1983) explained as follows: "Krakatau was the accepted spelling for the volcano in 1883 and remains the accepted spelling in modern Indonesia. In the original manuscript copy submitted to the printers of the 1888 Royal Society Report, now in the archives of the Royal Society, this spelling has been systematically changed by a neat red line through the final 'au' and the replacement 'oa' entered above; a late policy change that, from some of the archived correspondence, saddened several contributors to the volume."

After 15 months of quiescence Krakatau began a new eruption phase on 21 June 2018, characterized by ash plumes, ballistic ejecta, Strombolian activity, and lava flows. Ash plumes reached 4.9 km and a lava flow traveled down the SE flank and entered the ocean. This report summarizes the activity from October 2018 to January 2019 based on reports by Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), also known as the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), MAGMA Indonesia, the National Board for Disaster Management - Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), satellite data, and eye witness accounts.

Activity during October-21 December 2018. The eruption continued to eject incandescent ballistic ejecta, ash plumes, and lava flows in October through December 2018. On 22 December a partial collapse of Anak Krakatau began, dramatically changing the morphology of the island and triggering a deadly tsunami that impacted coastlines around the Sunda Straight. Following the collapse the vent was located below sea level and Surtseyan activity produced steam plumes, ash plumes, and volcanic lightning.

Sentinel-2 satellite images acquired through October show incandescence in the crater, lava flows on the SW flank, and incandescent material to the S to SE of the crater (figure 58). This correlates with eyewitness accounts of explosions ejecting incandescent ballistic ejecta, and Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) ash plume reports. The Darwin VAAC reported ash plumes to 1.5-2.4 km altitude that drifted in multiple directions during 17-19 October, but throughout most of October visual observations were limited due to fog. A video shared by Sutopo on 24 October shows ash emission and lava fountaining producing a lava flow that entered the ocean, resulting in a white plume. Video by Richard Roscoe of Photovolcanica shows explosions ejecting incandescent blocks onto the flanks and ash plumes accompanied by volcanic lightning on 25 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing lava flows, incandescent avalanche deposits, and incandescence in the crater of Anak Krakatau during October 2018. Courtesy of Sentinel-2 hub playground.

Throughout November frequent ash plumes rose to 0.3-1.3 km altitude, with explosion durations spanning 29-212 seconds (figure 59). Observations by Øystein Lund Andersen describe explosions ejecting incandescent material with ash plumes and some associated lightning on 17 November (figure 60).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Sentinel-2 satellite images showing ash plumes at Krakatau during 6-16 November 2018. Natural color (Bands 4, 3, 2) Sentinel-2 images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Krakatau erupting an ash plume and incandescent material on 17 November 2018. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.

During 1-21 December intermittent explosions lasting 46-776 seconds produced ash plumes that rose up to 1 km altitude. Thermal signatures were sporadically detected by various satellite thermal infrared sensors during this time. On 22 December ash plumes reached 0.3-1.5 km through the day and continuous tremor was recorded.

Activity and events during 22-28 December 2018. The following events during the evening of the 22nd were recorded by Øystein Lund Andersen, who was photographing the eruption from the Anyer-Carita area in Java, approximately 47 km from Anak Krakatau. Starting at 1429 local time, incandescence and ash plumes were observed and the eruption could be heard as intermittent 'cannon-fire' sounds, sometimes shaking walls and windows. An increase in intensity was noted at around 1700, when the ash column increased in height and was accompanied by volcanic lightning, and eruption sounds became more frequent (figure 61). A white steam plume began to rise from the shore of the southern flank. After sunset incandescent ballistic blocks were observed impacting the flanks, with activity intensity peaking around 1830 with louder eruption sounds and a higher steam plume from the ocean (figure 62).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. Ash plumes at Krakatau from 1429 to 1739 on 22 December 2018. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. Krakatau ejecting incandescent blocks and ash during 1823-1859 on 22 December 2018. The top and middle images show the steam plume at the shore of the southern flank. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.

PVMBG recorded an eruption at 2103. When viewed at 2105 by Øystein Lund Andersen, a dark plume across the area blocked observations of Anak Krakatau and any incandescence (figure 63). At 2127-2128 the first tsunami wave hit the shore and traveled approximately 15 m inland (matching the BNPB determined time of 2127). At approximately 2131 the sound of the ocean ceased and was soon replaced by a rumbling sound and the second, larger tsunami wave impacted the area and traveled further inland, where it reached significant depths and caused extensive damage (figures 64 and 65). After the tsunami, eruption activity remained high and the eruption was heard again during intervals from 0300 through to early afternoon.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. Krakatau is no longer visible at 2116 on 22 December 2018, minutes before the first tsunami wave arrived at west Java. A dark ash plume takes up much of the view. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. The second tsunami wave arriving at Anyer-Carita area of Java after the Krakatau collapse. This photo was taken at 2133 on 22 December 2018, courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. Photographs showing damage caused in the Anyer-Carita area of Java by the tsunami that was triggered by the partial collapse of Krakatau. From top to bottom, these images were taken approximately 40 m, 20 m, and 20 m from the shore on 23 December 2018. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.

Observations on 23 December reveal steam-rich ash plumes and base surge traveling along the water, indicative of the shallow-water Surtseyan eruption (figure 66). Ashfall was reported on the 26th in several regions including Cilegon, Anyer, and Serang. The first radar observations of Krakatau were on 24 December and showed a significant removal of material from the island (figure 67). At 0600 on the 27th the volcanic alert level was increased from II to III (on a scale of I-IV) and a VONA with Aviation Color Code Red reported an ash plume to approximately 7 km altitude that dispersed to the NE. When Anak Krakatau was visible, Surtseyan activity and plumes were observed through the end of December. On 28 December, plumes reached 200-3000 m. At 0418 the eruption paused and the first observation of the post-collapse edifice was made. The estimated removed volume (above sea level) was 150-180 million m3, leaving a remaining volume of 40-70 million m3. The summit of the pre-collapse cone was 338 m, while the highest point post-collapse was reduced to 110 m. Hundreds of thousands of lightning strokes were detected during 22-28 December with varying intensity (figure 68).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Steam-rich plumes and underlying dark ash plumes from Surtseyan activity at Krakatau on 23 December 2018. Photos by Instagram user @didikh017 at Grand Cava Susi Air, via Sutopo.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. ALOS-2 satellite radar images showing Krakatau on 20 August 2018 and 24 December 2018. The later image shows that a large part of the cone of Anak Krakatau had collapsed. Courtesy of Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) via Sutopo.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Lightning strokes during the eruption of Krakatau within a 20 km radius of the volcano for 30 minute intervals on 23, 25, 26, and 28 December 2018. Courtesy of Chris Vagasky.

Damage resulting from the 22 December tsunami. On the 29 December the damage reported by BNPB was 1,527 heavily damaged housing units, 70 with moderate damage, 181 with light damage, 78 damaged lodging and warung units, 434 damaged boats and ships and some damage to public facilities. Damage was recorded in the five regencies of Pandenglang, Serang, South Lampung, Pesawaran and Tanggamus. A BNPB report on 14 January gave the following figures: 437 fatalities, 10 people missing, 31,943 people injured, and 16,198 people evacuated (figure 69). The eruption and tsunami resulted in damage to the surrounding islands, with scouring on the Anak-Krakatau-facing slope of Rakata and damage to vegetation on Kecil island (figure 70 and 71).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. The impacts of the tsunami that was triggered by a partial collapse of Anak Krakatau from an update given on 14 January 2019. Translations are as follows. Korban Meninggal: victims; Korban hilang: missing; Korban luka-luka: injured; Mengungsi: evacuated. The color scale from green to red along the coastline indicates the breakdown of the human impacts by area. Courtesy of BNPB.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. Damage on Rakata Island from the Krakatau tsunami. This part of the island is facing Anak Krakatau and the scoured area was estimated to be 25 m high. Photographs taken on 10 January 2019 by James Reynolds.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Damage to vegetation on Kecil island to the East of Krakatau, from the Krakatau December 2018 eruption. Photographs taken on 10 January 2019 by James Reynolds.

Activity during January 2019. Surtseyan activity continued into January 2019. Øystein Lund Andersen observed the eruption on 4-5 January. Activity on 4 January was near-continuous. The photographs show black cock's-tail jets that rose a few hundred meters before collapsing (figure 72), accompanied by white lateral base surge that spread from the vent across the ocean (figure 73), and white steam plumes that were visible from Anyer-Carita, West Java. In the evening the ash-and-steam plume was much higher (figure 74). It was also noted that older pumice had washed ashore at this location and a coating of sulfur was present along the beach and some of the water surface. Activity decreased again on the 5th (figure 75) with a VONA reporting an ash plume to 1.5 km towards the WSW. SO2 plumes were dispersed to the NE, E, and S during this time (figure 76).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. Black ash plumes and white steam plumes from the Surtseyan eruption at Krakatau on 4 January 2019. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. An expanding base surge at Krakatau on 4 January 2019 at 0911. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Ash-and-steam plumes at Krakatau at 1702-2250 on 4 January 2018. Lightning is illuminating the plume in the bottom image. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Ash plumes at Krakatau on 5 January 2019 at 0935. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions produced by Krakatau and drifting to the NE, E, and SE on 3-6 January 2018. Dates and times of the periods represented are listed at the top of each image. Courtesy of the NASA Space Goddard Flight Center.

During 5-9 January intermittent explosions lasting 20 seconds to 13 minutes produced ash plumes rising up to 1.2 km and dispersing E. From 11 to 19 January white plumes were observed up to 500 m. Observations were prevented due to fog during 20-31 January. MIROVA thermal data show elevated thermal anomalies from July through January, with a decrease in energy in November through January (figure 77). The radiative power detected in December-January was the lowest since June 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Log radiative power MIROVA plot of MODIS thermal infrared data for June 2018-January 2019. The peaks in energy correlate with observed lava flows. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Morphological changes to Anak Krakatau. Images taken before and after the collapse event show changes in the shoreline, destruction of vegetation, and removal of the cone (figure 78). A TerraSAR-X image acquired on 29 January shows that in the location where the cone and active vent was, a bay had formed, opening to the W (figure 79). These changes are also visible in Sentinel-2 satellite images, with the open bay visible through light cloud cover on 29 December (figure 80).

By 9 January a rim had formed, closing off the bay to the ocean and forming a circular crater lake. Photos by James Reynolds on 11 January show a new crater rim to the W of the vent, which was filled with water (figure 81). Steam and/or gas emissions were emanating from the surface in that area. The southern lava delta surface was covered with tephra, and part of the lava delta had been removed, leaving a smooth coastline. By the time these images were taken there was already extensive erosion of the fresh deposits around the island. Fresh material extended the coast in places and filled in bays to produce a more even shoreline.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Krakatau on 5 August 2018 (top) and on 11 January 2019 showing the edifice after the collapse event. The two drone photographs show approximately the same area. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen (top) and James Reynolds (bottom).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. TerraSAR-X radar images showing the morphological changes to Krakatau with the changes outlined in the bottom right image as follows. Red: 30 August 2018 (upper left image); blue: 29 December 2018 (upper right image); yellow: 9 January 2019 (lower left image). Part of the southern lava delta was removed and material was added to the SE and NE to N shoreline. In the 29 December image the cone has collapsed and in its place is an open bay, which had been closed by a new rim by the 9 January. Courtesy of BNPB, JAXA Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Badan Informasi Geospasial (BIG).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Sentinel-2 satellite images showing the changing morphology of Krakatau. The SW section is where the cone previously sat and collapsed in December 2018. In the upper right image the cone and southern lava delta are gone and there are changes to the coastline of the entire island. Natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) Sentinel-2 satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. Drone footage of the Krakatau crater and new crater rim taken on 11 January 2019. The island is coated in fresh tephra from the eruption and the orange is discolored water due to the eruption. The land between the crater lake and the ocean built up since the collapse and the hot deposits are still producing steam/gas. Courtesy of James Reynolds.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. An aerial view of Krakatau with the new crater on 13 January 2019. Courtesy of BNPB.

References. Simkin, T., and Fiske, R.S., 1983, Krakatau 1883: the volcanic eruption and its effects: Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC, 464 p. ISBN 0-87474-841-0.

Sudradjat (Sumartadipura), A., 1982. The morphological development of Anak Krakatau Volcano, Sunda Straight. Geologi Indonesia, 9(1):1-11.

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

Information Contacts: Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38, East Jakarta 13120, Indonesia (URL: http://www.bnpb.go.id/); Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB (Twitter: @Sutopo_PN, URL: https://twitter.com/Sutopo_PN ); Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI), 1 Kitasato, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0811, Japan. (URL: http://www.gsi.go.jp/ENGLISH/index.html); Badan Informasi Geospasial (BIG), Jl. Raya Jakarta - Bogor KM. 46 Cibinong 16911, Indonesia. (URL: http://www.big.go.id/atlas-administrasi/); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); JAXA | Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, 7-44-1 Jindaiji Higashi-machi, Chofu-shi, Tokyo 182-8522 (URL: https://global.jaxa.jp/); 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); Øystein Lund Andersen? (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: https://www.oysteinlundandersen.com/krakatau-volcano-witnessing-the-eruption-tsunami-22december2018/); James Reynolds, Earth Uncut TV (Twitter: @EarthUncutTV, URL: https://www.earthuncut.tv/, YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLKYsEXfI0PGXeKYL1KV7qA); Chris Vagasky, Vaisala Inc., Louisville, Colorado (URL: https://www.vaisala.com/en?type=1, Twitter: @COweatherman, URL: https://twitter.com/COweatherman).


Masaya (Nicaragua) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake persists with decreased thermal output, November 2018-February 2019

Nicaragua's Volcan Masaya has an intermittent lava lake that has attracted visitors since the time of the Spanish Conquistadores; tephrochronology has dated eruptions back several thousand years. The unusual basaltic caldera has had historical explosive eruptions in addition to lava flows and an actively circulating lava lake. An explosion in 2012 ejected ash to several hundred meters above the volcano, bombs as large as 60 cm fell around the crater, and ash fell to a thickness of 2 mm in some areas of the park. The reemergence of the lava lake inside Santiago crater was reported in December 2015. By late March 2016 the lava lake had grown and intensified enough to generate a significant thermal anomaly signature which has varied in strength but continued at a moderate level into early 2019. Information for this report, which covers the period from November 2018 through February 2019, is provided by the Instituto Nicareguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER) and satellite -based imagery and thermal data.

The lava lake in Santiago Crater remained visible and active throughout November 2018 to February 2019 with little change from the previous few months (figure 70). Seismic amplitude RSAM values remained steady, oscillating between 10 and 40 RSAM units during the period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. A small area of the lava lake inside Santiago Crater at Masaya was visible from the rim on 25 November 2018 (left) and 17 January 2019 (right). Left image courtesy of INETER webcam; right image courtesy of Alun Ebenezer.

Every few months INETER carries out SO2 measurements by making a transect using a mobile DOAS spectrometer that samples for gases downwind of the volcano. Transects were done on 9-10 October 2018, 21-24 January 2019, and 18-21 February 2019 (figure 71). Average values during the October transect were 1,454 tons per day, in January they were 1,007 tons per day, and in February they averaged 1,318 tons per day, all within a typical range of values for the last several months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. INETER carries out periodic transects to measure SO2 from Masaya with a mobile DOAS spectrometer. Transects taken along the Ticuantepe-La Concepcion highway on 9-10 October 2018 (left) and 21-24 January 2019 (right) showed modest levels of SO2 emissions downwind of the summit. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua. Octubre 2018 and Enero 2019).

During a visit by INETER technicians in early November 2018, the lens of the Mirador 1 webcam, that had water inside it and had been damaged by gases, was cleaned and repaired. During 21-24 January 2019 INETER made a site visit with scientists from the University of Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany, to measure halogen species in gas plumes, and to test different sampling techniques for volcanic gases, including through spectroscopic observations with DOAS equipment, in-situ gas sampling (MultiGAS, denuders, alkaline traps), and using a Quadcopter UAV (drone) sampling system.

Periodic measurements of CO2 from the El Comalito crater have been taken by INETER for many years. The most recent observations on 19 February 2019 indicated an emission rate of 46 +/- 3 tons per day of CO2, only slightly higher than the average value over 16 measurements between 2008 and 2019 (figure 72).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. CO2 measurements taken at Masaya on 19 February 2019 were very close to the average value measured during 2008-2019. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua, Febrero 2019).

Satellite imagery (figure 73) and in-situ thermal measurements during November 2018-February 2019 indicated constant activity at the lava lake and no significant changes during the period. On 14 January 2019 temperatures were measured with the FLIR SC620 thermal camera, along with visual observations of the crater; abundant gas was noted, and no explosions from the lake were heard. The temperature at the lava lake was measured at 107°C, much cooler than the 340°C measured in September 2018 (figure 74).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery (geology, bands 12, 4, and 2) clearly indicated the presence of the active lava lake inside Santiago crater at Masaya during November 2018-February 2019. North is to the top, and the Santigo crater is just under 1 km in diameter for scale. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Thermal measurements were made at Masaya on 14 January 2019 with a FLIR SC620 thermal camera that indicated temperatures over 200°C cooler than similar measurements made in September 2018.

Thermal anomaly data from satellite instruments also confirmed moderate levels of ongoing thermal activity. The MIROVA project plot indicated activity throughout the period (figure 75), and a plot of the number of MODVOLC thermal alerts by month since the lava lake first appeared in December 2015 suggests constant activity at a reduced thermal output level from the higher values in early 2017 (figure 76).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Thermal anomalies remained constant at Masaya during November 2018-February 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA project. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. The number of MODVOLC thermal alerts each month at Masaya since the lava lake first reappeared in late 2015 reached its peak in early 2017 and declined to low but persistent levels by early 2018 where they have remained for a year. Data courtesy of MODVOLC.

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

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


Santa Maria (Guatemala) — March 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)


Daily explosions cause steam-and-ash plumes and block avalanches, November 2018-February 2019

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 November 2018-February 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 November 2018-February 2019. Plumes of steam with minor magmatic gases rose continuously from the Caliente crater 100-500 m above the summit, generally drifting SW or 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 20-30 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 15 km in those directions several times each month. Continued growth of the Caliente lava dome resulted in daily block avalanches descending its flanks. The MIROVA plot of thermal energy during this time shows a consistent level of heat flow with minor variations throughout the period (figure 89).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Persistent thermal activity was recorded at Santa Maria from 6 June 2018 through February 2019 as seen in the MIROVA plot of thermal energy derived from satellite thermal data. Daily explosions produced ash plumes and block avalanches that were responsible for the continued heat flow at the volcano. Courtesy of MIROVA.

During November 2018 steam plumes rose to altitudes of 2.8-3.2 km from Caliente summit, usually drifting SW, sometimes SE. Several ash-bearing explosions were reported daily, rising to 3-3.2 km altitude and also drifting SW or SE. The highest plume reported by INSIVUMEH rose to 3.4 km on 25 November and drifted SW. The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission on 9 November that rose to 4.3 km altitude and drifted W; it dissipated within a few hours about 35 km from the summit. On 11 November another plume rose to 4.9 km altitude and drifted NW. INSIVUMEH issued a special report on 2 November noting an increase in block avalanches on the S and SE flanks, many of which traveled from the crater dome to the base of the volcano. Nearly constant avalanche blocks descended the SE flank of the dome and occasionally traveled down the other flanks as well throughout the month. They reached the bottom of the cone again on 29 November. Ashfall was reported around the flanks more than once every week and at Finca Florida on 12 November. Finca San Jose reported ashfall on 11, 13, and 23 November, and Parcelamiento Monte Claro reported ashfall on 15, 24, 25, and 27 November.

Constant degassing from the Caliente dome during December 2018 formed white plumes of mostly steam that rose to 2.6-3.0 km altitude during the month. Weak explosions averaging 9-13 per day produced gray ash plumes that rose to 2.8-3.4 km altitude. The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission on 4 December that extended 25 km SW of the summit at 3.0 km altitude and dissipated quickly. Small ash plumes were visible in satellite imagery a few kilometers WNW on 8, 12, 30, and 31 December at 4.3 km altitude; they each dissipated within a few hours. Ashfall was reported in Finca Monte Claro on 1 and 4 December, and in San Marcos Palajunoj on 26 and 30 December along with Loma Linda. On 28 December ashfall on the E flank affected the communities of Las Marías, Calahuache, and El Nuevo Palmar. Block avalanches occurred daily, sending large blocks to the base of the volcano that often stirred up small plumes of ash in the vicinity (figure 90).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Activity during December 2018 at Santa Maria included constant degassing of steam plumes, weak explosions with ash plumes, and block avalanches rolling down the flanks to the base of the cone. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito (1402-03), Diciembre 2018).

Multiple explosions daily during January 2019 produced steam-and-ash plumes (figure 91). Constant degassing rising 10-500 m emerged from the SSE part of the Caliente dome, and ashfall, mainly on the W and SW rim of the cone, was a daily feature. Seismic station STG-3 detected 10-18 explosions per day that produced ash plumes, which rose to between 2.7 and 3.5 km altitude. The Washington VAAC noted a faint ash emission in satellite imagery on 1 January that was about 25 km W of the summit at 4.3 km altitude. A new emission appeared at the same altitude on 4 January about 15 km NW of the summit. A low-density emission around midday on 5 January produced an ash plume that drifted NNE at 4.6 km altitude. Ash plumes drifted W at 4.3 km altitude on 11 and 14 January for short periods of time before dissipating.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Explosions during January produced numerous steam-and-ash plumes at the Santiaguito complex of Santa Maria. A moderate explosion on 31 January 2019 produced an ash plume that rose to about 3.1 km altitude (top). A thermal image and seismograph show another moderate explosion on 18 January 2019 that also rose nearly vertically from the summit of Caliente. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe mensual de actividad Volcanica enero 2019, Volcan Santiaguito).

Ash drifted mainly towards the W, SW, and S, causing ashfall in the villages of San Marcos Palajunoj, Loma Linda, Monte Bello, El Patrocinio, La Florida, El Faro, Patzulín and a few others several times during the month. The main places where daily ashfall was reported were near the complex, in the hilly crop areas of the El Faro and San José Patzulín farms (figure 92). Blocks up to 3 m in diameter reached the base of the complex, stirring up ash plumes that settled on the immediate flanks. Juvenile material continued to appear at the summit of the dome during January; the dome had risen above the edge of the crater created by the explosions of 2016. Changes in the size and shape of the dome between 23 November 2018 and 13 January 2019 showed the addition of material on the E and SE side of the dome, as well as a new effusive flow that travelled 200-300 m down the E flank (figure 93).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. Near-daily ashfall affected the coffee plants at the El Faro and San José Patzulín farms (left) at Santiaguito during January 2019. Large avalanche blocks descending the flanks, seen here on 23 January 2018, often stirred up smaller ash plumes that settled out next to the cone. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe mensual de actividad Volcanica enero 2019, Volcan Santiaguito).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. A comparison of the growth at the Caliente dome of the Santiaguito complex at Santa Maria between 23 November 2018 (top) and 13 January 2019 (bottom) shows the emergence of juvenile material and a 200-300 m long effusive flow that has moved slowly down the E flank. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe mensual de actividad Volcanica enero 2019, Volcan Santiaguito).

Persistent steam rising 50-150 m above the crater was typical during February 2019 and accompanied weak and moderate explosions that averaged 12 per day throughout the month. White and gray ash plumes from the explosions rose to 2.8-3.3 km altitude; daily block avalanches usually reached the base of the dome (figure 94). Ashfall occurred around the complex, mainly on the W, SW, and NE flanks on a daily basis, but communities farther away were affected as well. The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume on 7 February in visible satellite imagery moving SW from the summit at 4.9 km altitude. The next day a new ash plume was located about 20 km W of the summit, dissipating rapidly, at 4.3 km altitude. Ashfall drifting SW affected Palajuno Monte Claro on 5, 9, 15, and 16 February. Ash drifting E and SE affected Calaguache, Las Marías and surrounding farms on 14 and 17 February, and fine-grained ash drifting SE was reported at finca San José on 21 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Activity at the Caliente dome of the Santiaguito complex at Santa Maria included daily ash-and-steam explosions and block avalanches descending the sides of the dome in February 2019. A typical explosion on 2 February 2019 produced an ash plume that rose to about 3 km altitude and drifted SW (left). A block avalanche on 14 February descended the SE flank and stirred up small plumes of ash in the vicinity (right, top); the avalanche lasted for 88 seconds and registered with seismic frequencies between 3.46 and 7.64 Hz (right bottom). Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito (1402-03), Semana del 01 al 08 de febrero de 2019).

Geologic Background. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that 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 westward-younging vents, the most recent of which is 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/); 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); 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/).


Reventador (Ecuador) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Reventador

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Multiple daily explosions with ash plumes and incandescent blocks rolling down the flanks, October 2018-January 2019

The andesitic Volcán El Reventador lies well 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. The 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. Activity continued during October 2018-January 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.

Multiple daily reports were issued from the Washington VAAC throughout the entire October 2018-January 2019 period. Plumes of ash and gas usually rose to altitudes of 4.3-6.1 km and drifted about 20 km in prevailing wind directions before either dissipating or being obscured by meteoric clouds. The average number of daily explosions reported by IG-EPN for the second half of 2018 was more than 20 per day (figure 104). The many explosions during the period originated from multiple vents within a large scarp that formed on the W flank in mid-April (BGVN 43:11, figure 95) (figure 105). Incandescent blocks were observed often in the IG webcams; they traveled 400-1,000 m down the flanks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. The number of daily seismic events at El Reventador for 2018 indicated high activity during the first and last thirds of the year; more than 20 explosions per day were recorded many times during October-December 2018, the period covered in this report. LP seismic events are shown in orange, seismic tremor in pink, and seismic explosions with ash are shown in green. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Anual del Volcán El Reventador – 2018, Quito, 29 de marzo del 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Images from IG's REBECA thermal camera showed the thermal activity from multiple different vents at different times during the year (see BGVN 43:11, figure 95 for vent locations). Courtesy if IG (Informe Anual del Volcán El Reventador – 2018, Quito, 29 de marzo del 2019).

Activity during October 2018-January 2019. During most days of October 2018 plumes of gas, steam, and ash rose over 1,000 m above the summit of Reventador, and most commonly drifted W or NW. Incandescence was observed on all nights that were not cloudy; incandescent blocks rolled 400-800 m down the flanks during half of the nights. During episodes of increased activity, ash plumes rose over 1,200 m (8, 10-11, 18-19 October) and incandescent blocks rolled down multiple flanks (figure 106).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Ash emissions rose over 1,000 m above the summit of Reventador numerous times during October 2018, and large incandescent blocks traveled hundreds of meters down multiple flanks. The IG-EPN COPETE webcam that captured these images is located on the S caldera rim. Courtesy of IG Daily Reports (Informe diario del estado del Volcan Reventador, numbers 2018-282, 292, 295, 297).

Similar activity continued during November. IG reported 17 days of the month with steam, gas, and ash emissions rising more than 1,000 m above the summit. The other days were either cloudy or had emissions rising between 500 and 1,000 m. Incandescent blocks were usually observed on the S or SE flanks, generally travelling 400-600 m down the flanks. The Washington VAAC reported a discrete ash plume at 6.1 km altitude drifting WNW about 35 km from the summit on 15 November. The next day, intermittent puffs were noted moving W, and a bright hotspot at the summit was visible in satellite imagery. During the most intense activity of the month, incandescent blocks traveled 800 m down all the flanks (17-19 November) and ash plumes rose over 1,200 m (23 November) (figure 107).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. Ash plumes rose over 1,000 m above the summit on 17 days during November 2018 at Reventador, and incandescent blocks traveled 400-800 m down the flanks on many nights. Courtesy of IG Daily Reports (Informe diario del estado del Volcan Reventador, numbers 2018-306, 314, 318, 324).

Steam, gas, and ash plumes rose over 1,200 m above the summit on 1 December. The next day, there were reports of ashfall in San Rafael and Hosteria El Hotelito, where they reported an ash layer about 1 mm thick was deposited on vehicles during the night. Ash emissions exceeded 1,200 m above the summit on 5 and 6 December as well. Incandescent blocks traveled 800 m down all the flanks on 11, 22, 24, and 26 December, and reached 900 m on 21 December. Ash emissions rising 500 to over 1,000 m above the summit were a daily occurrence, and incandescent blocks descended 500 m or more down the flanks most days during the second half of the month (figure 108).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. Ash plumes that rose 500 to over 1,000 m were a daily occurrence at Reventador during December 2018. Incandescent blocks traveled as far as 900 m down the flanks as well. Courtesy of IG Daily Reports (Informe diario del estado del Volcan Reventador, numbers 2018-340, 351, 353, 354, 358, 359).

During the first few days of January 2019 the ash and steam plumes did not rise over 800 m, and incandescent blocks were noted 300-500 m down the S flank. An increase in activity on 6 January sent ash-and-gas plumes over 1,000 m, drifting W, and incandescent blocks 1,000 m down many flanks. For multiple days in the middle of the month the volcano was completely obscured by clouds; only occasional observations of plumes of ash and steam were made, incandescence seen at night through the clouds confirmed ongoing activity. The Washington VAAC reported continuous ash emissions moving SE extending more than 100 km on 12 January. A significant explosion late on 20 January sent incandescent blocks 800 m down the S flank; although it was mostly cloudy for much of the second half of January, brief glimpses of ash plumes rising over 1,000 m and incandescent blocks traveling up to 800 m down numerous flanks were made almost daily (figure 109).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. Even during the numerous cloudy days of January 2019, evidence of ash emissions and significant explosions at Reventador was captured in the Copete webcam located on the S rim of the caldera. Courtesy of IG Daily Reports (Informe diario del estado del Volcan Reventador, number 2019-6, 21, 26, 27).

Visual evidence from the webcams supports significant thermal activity at Reventador. Atmospheric conditions are often cloudy and thus the thermal signature recorded by satellite instruments is frequently diminished. In spite of this, the MODVOLC thermal alert system recorded seven thermal alerts on three days in October, four alerts on two days in November, six alerts on two days in December and three alerts on three days in January 2019. In addition, the MIROVA system measured moderate levels of radiative power intermittently throughout the period; the most intense anomalies of 2018 were recorded on 15 October and 6 December (figure 110).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. Persistent thermal activity at Reventador was recorded by satellite instruments for the MIROVA system from 5 April 2018 through January 2019 in spite of frequent cloud cover over the volcano. The most intense anomalies of 2018 were recorded on 15 October and 6 December. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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); 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); 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/).


Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kuchinoerabujima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak explosions and ash plumes beginning 21 October 2018

Activity at Kuchinoerabujima is exemplified by interim explosions and periods of high seismicity. A weak explosion occurred on 3 August 2014, the first since 1980, and was followed by several others during 29 May-19 June 2015 (BGVN 42:03). This report describes events through February 2019. Information is based on monthly and annual reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and advisories from the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). Activity has been limited to Kuchinoerabujima's Shindake Crater.

Activity during 2016-2018. According to JMA, between July 2016 and August 2018, the volcano was relatively quiet. Deflation had occurred since January 2016. On 18 April 2018 the Alert Level was lowered from 3 to 2 (on a scale of 1-5). A low-temperature thermal anomaly persisted near the W fracture in Shindake crater. During January-March 2018, both the number of volcanic earthquakes (generally numerous and typically shallow) and sulfur dioxide flux remained slightly above baselines levels in August 2014 (60-500 tons/day compared tp generally less than 100 tons/day in August 2014).

JMA reported that on 15 August 2018 a swarm of deep volcanic earthquakes was recorded, prompting an increase in the Alert Level to 4. The earthquake hypocenters were about 5 km deep, below the SW flanks of Shindake, and the maximum magnitude was 1.9. They occurred at about the same place as the swarm that occurred just before the May 2015 eruption. Sulfur dioxide emissions had increased since the beginning of August; they were 1,600, 1,000, and 1,200 tons/day on 11, 13, and 17 August, respectively. No surficial changes in gas emissions or thermal areas were observed during 16-20 August. On 29 August, JMA downgraded the Alert Level to 3, after no further SO2 flux increase had occurred in recent days and GNSS measurements had not changed.

A very weak explosion was recorded at 1831 on 21 October, with additional activity between 2110 on 21 October and 1350 on 22 October; plumes rose 200 m above the crater rim. During an overflight on 22 October, observers noted ash in the emissions, though no morphological changes to the crater nor ash deposits were seen. Based on satellite images and information from JMA, the Tokyo VAAC reported that during 24-28 October ash plumes rose to altitudes of 0.9-1.5 km and drifted in multiple directions. During a field observation on 28 October, JMA scientists did not observe any changes in the thermal anomalies at the crater.

JMA reported that during 31 October-5 November 2018, very small events released plumes that rose 500-1,200 m above the crater rim. On 6 November, crater incandescence began to be periodically visible. During 12-19 November, ash plumes rose as high as 1.2 km above the crater rim and, according to the Tokyo VAAC, drifted in multiple directions. Observers doing fieldwork on 14 and 15 November noted that thermal measurements in the crater had not changed. Intermittent explosions during 22-26 November generated plumes that rose as high as 2.1 km above the crater rim. During 28 November-3 December the plumes rose as high as 1.5 km above the rim.

JMA reported that at 1637 on 18 December an explosion produced an ash plume that rose 2 km and then disappeared into a weather cloud. The event ejected material that fell in the crater area, and generated a pyroclastic flow that traveled 1 km W and 500 m E of the crater. Another weak explosion occurred on 28 December, scattering large cinders up to 500 m from the crater.

The Tokyo VAAC did not issue any ash advisories for aviation until 21 October 2018, when it issued at least one report every day through 13 December. It also issued advisories on 18-20 and 28 December.

Activity during January-early February 2019. JMA reported that at 0919 local time on 17 January 2019 an explosion generated a pyroclastic flow that reached about 1.9 km NW and 1 km E of the crater. It was the strongest explosion since October 2018. In addition, "large cinders" fell about 1-1.8 km from the crater.

Tokyo VAAC ash advisories were issued on 1, 17, 20, and 29 January 2018. An explosion at 1713-1915 on 29 January produced an ash plume that rose 4 km above the crater rim and drifted E, along with a pyroclastic flow. Ash fell in parts of Yakushima. During 30 January-1 February and 3-5 February, white plumes rose as high as 600 m. On 2 February, an explosion at 1141-1300 generated a plume that rose 600 m. No additional activity during February was reported by JMA. The Alert Level remained at 3.

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

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


Kerinci (Indonesia) — February 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


A persistent gas-and-steam plume and intermittent ash plumes occurred from July 2018 through January 2019

Kerinci is a frequently active volcano in Sumatra, Indonesia. Recent activity has consisted of intermittent explosions, ash, and gas-and-steam plumes. The volcano alert has been at Level II since 9 September 2007. This report summarizes activity during July 2018-January 2019 based on reports by The Indonesia volcano monitoring agency, Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), MAGMA Indonesia, notices from the Darwin Volcano Ash Advisory Center (Darwin VAAC), and satellite data.

Throughout this period dilute gas-and-steam plumes rising about 300 m above the summit were frequently observed and seismicity continued (figure 6). During July through January ash plumes were observed by the Darwin VAAC up to 4.3 km altitude and dispersed in multiple directions (table 7 and figure 7).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Graph showing seismic activity at Kerinci from November 2018 through February 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

Table 7. Summary of ash plumes (altitude and drift direction) for Kerinci during July 2018 through January 2019. The summit is at 3.5 km altitude. Data courtesy of the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) and MAGMA Indonesia.

Date Ash plume altitude (km) Ash plume drift direction
22 Jul 2018 4.3 SW
28-30 Sep 2018 4.3 SW, W
02 Oct 2018 4.3 SW, W
18-22 Oct 2018 4.3 N, W, WSW, SW
19 Jan 2019 4 E to SE
Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Dilute ash plumes at Kerinci during July 2018-January 2019. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Based on satellite data, a Darwin VAAC advisory reported an ash plume to 4.3 km altitude on 22 July that drifted to the SW and S. Only one day with elevated thermal emission was noted in Sentinel-2 satellite data for the entire reporting period, on 13 September 2018 (figure 8). No thermal signatures were detected by MODVOLC. On 28-29 September there was an ash plume observed to 500-600 m above the peak that dispersed to the W. Several VAAC reports on 2 and 18-22 October detected ash plumes that rose to 4.3 km altitude and drifted in different directions. On 19 January from 0734 to 1000 an ash plume rose to 200 m above the crater and dispersed to the E and SE (figure 9).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Small thermal anomaly at Kerinci volcano on 13 September 2018. False color (urban) image (band 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Small ash plume at Kerinci on 19 January 2018 that reached 200 m above the crater and traveled west. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Yasur (Vanuatu) — February 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Yasur

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption continues with ongoing explosions and multiple active crater vents, August 2018-January 2019

According to the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), which monitors Yasur, the volcano has been in essentially continuous Strombolian activity since Captain Cook observed ash eruptions in 1774, and undoubtedly before that time. VMGD reported that, based on visual observations and seismic data, activity continued through January 2019, with ongoing, sometimes strong, explosions. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 0-4). VMGD reminded residents and tourists to remain outside the 395-m-radius permanent exclusion zone and warned that volcanic ash and gas could reach areas influenced by trade winds.

Thermal anomalies, based on MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm, were recorded 6-15 days per month during the reporting period, sometimes with multiple pixels. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) volcano hotspot detection system, also based on analysis of MODIS data, detected numerous hotspots every month. Active crater vents were also frequently visible in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery (figure 50).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Sentinel-2 satellite color infrared image (bands 8, 4, 3) of Yasur on 17 November 2018 showing at least three distinct heat sources in the crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department, Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Ambae (Vanuatu) — February 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambae

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes and lahars in July 2018 cause evacuation of the island; intermittent gas-and-steam and ash plumes through January 2019

Ambae is one of the active volcanoes of Vanuatu in the New Hebrides archipelago. Recent eruptions have resulted in multiple evacuations of the local population due to ashfall. The current eruption began in September 2017, with the initial episode ending in November that year. The second episode was from late December 2017 to early February 2018, and the third was during February-April 2018. The Alert Level was raised to 3 in March, then lowered to Level 2 again on 2 June 2018. Eruptive activity began again on 1 July and produced thick ash deposits that significantly impacted the population, resulting in the full evacuation of the Island of Ambae. This report summarizes activity from July 2018 through January 2019 and is based on reports by the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department (VMGD), The Vanuatu Red Cross, posts on social media, and various satellite data.

On 1 July Ambae entered a new eruption phase, marked by an ash plume that resulted in ashfall on communities in the W to NW parts of Ambae Island and the NE part of Santo Island (figure 78). On 9-10 July VMGD reported that a small eruption continued with activity consisting of ongoing gas-and-steam emissions. An observation flight on 13 July confirmed that the eruption was centered at Lake Voui and consisted of explosions that ejected hot blocks with ongoing gas-and-steam and ash emissions. Populations on Ambae and a neighboring island could hear the eruption, smell the volcanic gases, and see incandescence at night.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Ash plume at Ambae on 1 July 2018 that resulted in ashfall on the W to NW parts of the island, and on the NE part of Santo Island. Courtesy of VMGD.

On 16 July the Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume to 9.1 km that drifted to the NE. During 16-24 July daily ash plumes from the Lake Voui vent rose to altitudes of 2.3-9.1 km and drifted N, NE, E, and SE (figure 79 and 80). Radio New Zealand reported that on the 16th significant ash emission blocked out sunlight, making the underlying area dark at around 1600 local time. Much of E and N Ambae Island experienced heavy ashfall and the eruption could be heard over 30 km away. The Vanuatu Red Cross Society reported worsening conditions in the south on 24 July with ashfall resulting in trees falling and very poor visibility of less than 2 m (figures 81, 82, and 83). The Daily Post reported that by 19 July lahars had washed away two roads and other roads were blocked to western Ambae. Volcanologists who made their way to the area reported widespread damage (figure 84). The Alert Level was raised from level 2 to 3 (on a scale of 0-5) on 21 July due to an increase in ash emission and more sustained plumes, similar to March 2018 activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Ash plumes produced by the Ambae eruption in July 2018 as seen in Terra/MODIS visible satellite images. Images courtesy of NASA Worldview.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Sentinel-2 satellite image of an ash plume from Ambae in Vanuatu on 23 July 2018 with the inset showing the ash plume at the vent. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. Ashfall at Ambae, posted on 25 July 2018. Courtesy of the Vanuatu Red Cross Society.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. An ash plume at Ambae in July during a day and a half of constant ashfall, looking towards the volcano. Courtesy of Michael Rowe.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Ashfall from the eruption at Ambae blocked out the sun near the volcano on 24 July 2018. Courtesy of the Vanuatu Red Cross Society.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Impacts of ashfall near Ambae in July 2018. Photos by Nicholson Naki, courtesy of the Vanuatu Red Cross (posted on 22 July 2018).

At 2100 on 26 July the ongoing explosions produced an ash plume that rose to 12 km and spread NE, E, SE. A state of emergency was announced by the Government of Vanuatu with a call for mandatory evacuations of the island. Ash emissions continued through the next day (figure 85 and 86) with two episodes producing volcanic lightning at 1100-1237 and 1522-2029 on 27 July (figure 87). The Darwin VAAC reported ash plumes up to 2.4-6.4 km, drifting SE and NW, and pilots reported heavy ashfall in Fiji. Large SO2 plumes were detected accompanying the eruptions and moving towards the E (figure 88).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. Ash plumes at Ambae at 0830 and 1129 local time on 27 July 2018. The ash plume is significantly larger in the later image. Webcam images from Saratamata courtesy of VMGD.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Two ash plumes from Ambae at 1200 on 27 July 2018 as seen in a Himawari-8 satellite image. Courtesy of Himawari-8 Real-time Web.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Lightning strokes detected at Ambae on 27 July 2018. There were two eruption pulses, 1100-1237 (blue) and 1522-2029 local time (red) that produced 185 and 87 lightning strokes, respectively. Courtesy of William A. Brook, Ronald L. Holle, and Chris Vagasky, Vaisala Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Aura/OMI data showing the large SO2 plumes produced by Ambae in Vanuatu during 22-31 July 2018. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Video footage showed a lahar blocking a road around 2 August. The government of Vanuatu told reporters that the island had been completely evacuated by 14 August. A VMGD bulletin on 22 August reported that activity continued with ongoing gas-and-steam and sometimes ash emissions; residents on neighboring islands could hear the eruption, smell volcanic gases, and see the plumes.

On 1 September at 2015 an explosion sent an ash plume to 4-11 km altitude, drifting E. Later observations in September showed a decrease in activity with no further explosions and plumes limited to white gas-and-steam plumes. On 21 September VMGD reported that the Lake Voui eruption had ceased and the Alert Level was lowered to 2.

Observed activity through October and November dominantly consisted of white gas-and-steam plumes. An explosion on 30 October at 1832 produced an ash plume that rose to 4-5 km and drifted E and SE. Satellite images acquired during July-November show the changing crater area and crater lake water color (figure 89). VMGD volcano alert bulletins on 6, 7, and 21 January 2019 reported that activity continued with gas-and-steam emissions (figure 90). Thermal energy continued to be detected by the MIROVA system through January (figure 91).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. The changing lakes of Ambae during volcanic activity in 2018. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. A steam plume at Ambae on 21 January 2019. Courtesy of VMGD.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Log radiative power MIROVA plot of MODIS infrared data at Ambae for April 2018 through January 2019 showing the increased thermal energy during the July 2018 eruption and continued activity. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd (MetService), PO Box 722, Wellington, New Zealand (URL: http://www.metservice.com/vaac/, http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/OTH/NZ/messages.html); 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/); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Himawari-8 Real-time Web, developed by the NICT Science Cloud project in NICT (National Institute of Information and Communications Technology), Japan, in collaboration with JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency) and CEReS (Center of Environmental Remote Sensing, Chiba University) (URL: https://himawari8.nict.go.jp/); Vanuatu Red Cross Society (URL: https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuRedCross); William A. Brooks and Ronald L. Holle, Vaisala Inc., Tucson, Arizona, and Chris Vagasky, Vaisala Inc., Louisville, Colorado (URL: https://www.vaisala.com/); Michael Rowe, The University of Auckland, 23 Symonds Street, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand (URL: https://unidirectory.auckland.ac.nz/profile/michael-rowe); Radio New Zealand, 155 The Terrace, Wellington 6011, New Zealand (URL: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/359231/vanuatu-provincial-capital-moves-due-to-volcano); Vanuatu Daily Post (URL: http://dailypost.vu/).


Agung (Indonesia) — February 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Agung

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing intermittent ash plumes and frequent gas-and-steam plumes during August 2018-January 2019

Agung is an active volcano in Bali, Indonesia, that began its current eruptive episode in September 2017. During this time activity has included ash plumes, gas-and-steam plumes, explosions ejecting ballistic blocks onto the flanks, and lava extrusion within the crater.

This report summarizes activity from August 2018 through January 2019 based on information from Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), also known as the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), MAGMA Indonesia, the National Board for Disaster Management - Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and satellite data.

During August 2018 through January 2019 observed activity was largely gas-and steam plumes up to 700 m above the crater (figures 39 and 40). In late December and January there were several explosions that produced ash plumes up to 5.5 km altitude, and ejected ballistic blocks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Graph showing the observed white gas-and-steam plumes and gray ash plumes at Agung during August 2018 through January 2019. The dates showing no data points coincided with cloudy days where the summit was not visible. Data courtesy of PVMBG.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. A white gas-and-steam plume at Agung on 21 December 2018. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume on 8-9 August based on satellite data, webcam footage, and ground report information. The ash plume rose to 4.3 km and drifted to the W. They also reported a diffuse ash plume to 3.3 km altitude on 16-17 August based on satellite and webcam data. During September through November there were no ash plumes observed at Agung; activity consisted of white gas-and-steam plumes ranging from 10-500 m above the crater.

Throughout December, when observations could be made, activity mostly consisted of white gas-and-steam plumes up to 400 m above the crater. An explosion occurred at 0409 on 30 December that lasted 3 minutes 8 seconds produced an ash plume rose to an altitude of 5.5 km and moved to the SE and associated incandescence was observed at the crater. Light Ashfall was reported in the Karangasem regency to the NE, including Amlapura City and several villages such as in Seraya Barat Village, Seraya Tengah Village, and Tenggalinggah Village (figure 41).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. A webcam image of an explosion at Agung that began at 0409 on 30 December 2018. Light Ashfall was reported in the Karangasem regency. Courtesy of PVMBG.

White gas-and-steam plumes continued through January 2019 rising as much as 600 m above the crater. Several Volcano Observatory Notices for Aviation (VONAs) were issued during 18-22 January. An explosion was recorded at 0245 on 19 January that produced an ash plume to 700 m above the crater and ejected incandescent blocks out to 1 km from the crater. On 21 January another ash plume rose to an estimated plume altitude of 5.1 km. The next morning, at 0342 on the 22nd, an ash plume to an altitude of 2 km that dispersed to the E and SE.

Satellite data shows continued low-level thermal activity in the crater throughout this period. MIROVA thermal data showed activity declining after a peak in July, and a further decline in energy in September (figure 42). Low-level thermal activity continued through December. Sentinel-2 thermal data showed elevated temperatures within the ponded lava in the crater (figure 43).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Log radiative power MIROVA plot of MODIS infrared data for May 2018 through January 2019 showing thermal anomalies at Agung. The black data lines indicate anomalies more than 10 km from the crater, which are likely due to fires. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing areas of elevated temperatures within the lava ponded in the Agung crater during August 2018 through January 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38, East Jakarta 13120, Indonesia (URL: http://www.bnpb.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); 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).


Erebus (Antarctica) — January 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Erebus

Antarctica

77.53°S, 167.17°E; summit elev. 3794 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lakes persist through 2017 and 2018

Between the early 1980's through 2016, activity at Erebus was monitored by the Mount Erebus Volcano Observatory (MEVO), using seismometers, infrasonic recordings to measure eruption frequency, and annual scientific site visits. MEVO recorded occasional explosions propelling ash up to 2 km above the summit of this Antarctic volcano and the presence of two, sometimes three, lava lakes (figure 26). However, MEVO closed in 2016 (BGVN 42:06).

Activity at the lava lakes in the summit crater can be detected using MODIS infrared detectors aboard the Aqua and Terra satellites and analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm. A compilation of thermal alert pixels during 2017-2018 (table 4, a continuation of data in the previous report) shows a wide range of detected activity, with a high of 182 alert pixels in April 2018. Although no MODVOLC anomalies were recorded in January 2017, detectors on the Sentinel-2 satellite imaged two active lava lakes on 25 January.

Table 4. Number of MODVOLC thermal alert pixels recorded per month from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2018 for Erebus by the University of Hawaii's thermal alert system. Table compiled by GVP from data provided by MODVOLC.

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec SUM
2017 0 21 9 0 0 1 11 61 76 52 0 3 234
2018 0 21 58 182 55 17 137 172 103 29 0 0 774
SUM 0 42 67 182 55 18 148 233 179 81 0 3 1008
Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Sentinel-2 images of the summit crater area of Erebus on 25 January 2017. Top: Natural color filter (bands 4, 3, 2). Bottom: Atmospheric penetration filter (bands 12, 11, 8A) in which two distinct lava lakes can be observed. The main crater is 500 x 600 m wide. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Mount Erebus, the world's southernmost historically active volcano, overlooks the McMurdo research station on Ross Island. The 3794-m-high Erebus is the largest of three major volcanoes forming the crudely triangular Ross Island. The summit of the dominantly phonolitic volcano has been modified by one or two generations of caldera formation. A summit plateau at about 3200 m elevation marks the rim of the youngest caldera, which formed during the late-Pleistocene and within which the modern cone was constructed. An elliptical 500 x 600 m wide, 110-m-deep crater truncates the summit and contains an active lava lake within a 250-m-wide, 100-m-deep inner crater. The glacier-covered volcano was erupting when first sighted by Captain James Ross in 1841. Continuous lava-lake activity with minor explosions, punctuated by occasional larger strombolian explosions that eject bombs onto the crater rim, has been documented since 1972, but has probably been occurring for much of the volcano's recent history.

Information Contacts: Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Villarrica (Chile) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Villarrica

Chile

39.42°S, 71.93°W; summit elev. 2847 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent Strombolian activity ejects incandescent bombs around crater rim, September 2018-February 2019

Historical eruptions at Chile's Villarrica, documented since 1558, have consisted largely of mild-to-moderate explosive activity with occasional lava effusion. An intermittently active lava lake at the summit has been the source of explosive activity, incandescence, and thermal anomalies for several decades. Sporadic Strombolian activity at the lava lake and small ash emissions have continued since the last large explosion on 3 March 2015. Similar continuing activity during September 2018-February 2019 is covered in this report, with information provided primarily by 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), and Projecto Observación Villarrica Internet (POVI), part of the Fundacion Volcanes de Chile, a research group that studies volcanoes across Chile.

After ash emissions during July 2018 and an increase in of thermal activity from late July through early September 2018 (BGVN 43:10), Villarrica was much quieter through February 2019. Steam plumes rose no more than a few hundred meters above the summit and the number of thermal alerts decreased steadily. Intermittent Strombolian activity sent ejecta a few tens of meters above the summit crater, with larger bombs landing outside the crater rim. A small pyroclastic cone appeared at the surface of the lava lake, about 70 m below the rim, in November. The largest lava fountain rose 35 m above the crater rim in late January 2019.

Steam plumes rose no more than 300 m above the crater during September 2018 and were less than 150 m high in October; incandescence at the summit was visible during clear nights, although a gradual decrease in activity suggested a lowering of the lake level to SERNAGEOMIN. SERNAGEOMIN attributed an increase in LP seismic events from 1,503 in September to 5,279 in October to dynamics of the lava lake inside the summit crater; counts decreased gradually in the following months.

POVI reported webcam evidence of Strombolian activity with ejecta around the crater several times during November 2018. On 5 November the webcam captured an image of an incandescent bomb, more than a meter in diameter, that landed on the NW flank. The next day, explosions sent ejecta 50 m above the edge of the crater, and pyroclastic debris landed around the perimeter. Significant Strombolian explosions on 16 November sent incandescent bombs toward the W rim of the crater (figure 71). The POVI webcam in Pucón captured incandescent ejecta landing on the crater rim on 23 November. POVI scientists observed a small pyroclastic cone, about 10-12 m in diameter, at the bottom of the summit crater on 19 November (figure 72); it was still visible on 25 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Strombolian activity at the summit of Villarrica was captured several times in the POVI webcam located in Pucón. An explosion on 5 November 2018 ejected a meter-sized bomb onto the NW flank (left). On 16 November, incandescent bombs were thrown outside the W rim of the crater (right). Courtesy of POVI (Volcán Villarrica, Resumen Gráfico del Comportamiento, November 2017 a Febrero 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. A small pyroclastic cone was visible at the bottom of the summit crater at Villarrica (about 70 m deep) on 19 November 2018 (left); it was still visible on 25 November (right). Courtesy of POVI (Volcán Villarrica, Resumen Gráfico del Comportamiento, November 2017 a Febrero 2019).

During December 2018 webcam images showed steam plumes rising less than 350 m above the crater. Infrasound instruments identified two small explosions related to lava lake surface activity. SERNAGEOMIN noted a minor variation in the baseline of the inclinometers; continued monitoring indicated the variation was seasonal. A compilation by POVI of images of the summit crater during 2018 showed the evolution of the lava lake level during the year. It had dropped out of sight early in the year, rose to its highest level in July, and then lowered slightly, remaining stable for the last several months of the year (figure 73).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Evolution of the lava pit at Villarrica during 2018. During July the lava lake level increased and for November and December no significant changes were observed. Courtesy of POVI (Volcán Villarrica, Resumen Gráfico del Comportamiento, November 2017 a Febrero 2019).

Between 25 December 2018 and 15 January 2019, financed with funds contributed by the Fundación Volcanes de Chile, POVI was able to install new HD webcams with continuous daily image recording, greatly improving the level of detail data available of the activity at the summit. POVI reported that after a five-week break, Strombolian explosions resumed on 3 January 2019; the lava fountains rose 20 m above the crater rim, and pyroclastic ejecta fell to the E. On 24 January the Strombolian explosions ejected ash, lapilli, and bombs up to 15 cm in diameter; the lava fountain was about 35 m high.

An explosion on 7 February reached about 29 m above the crater's edge; on 9 February a lava fountain three meters in diameter rose 17 m above the crater rim. Sporadic explosions were imaged on 12 February as well (figure 74). During a reconnaissance overflight on 24 February 2019, POVI scientists observed part of the lava pit at the bottom of the crater (figure 75). As of 28 February they noted a slight but sustained increase in the energy of the explosions. SERNAGEOMIN noted that steam plumes rose 400 m in January and 150 m during February, and incandescence was visible on clear nights during both months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Strombolian activity at Villarrica in January and February 2019 was imaged with a new HD webcam on several occasions. On 24 January 2019 explosions ejected ash, lapilli, and bombs up to 15 cm in diameter; the lava fountain was about 35 m high (left); on 12 February 2019 explosions rose about 19 m above the crater rim (right). Courtesy of POVI (Volcán Villarrica, Resumen Gráfico del Comportamiento, November 2017 a Febrero 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. During a reconnaissance overflight on 24 February 2019, POVI scientists observed part of the lava pit at the bottom of the crater at Villarrica; gas and steam emissions and incandescence from small explosions were noted. Courtesy of POVI (Volcán Villarrica, Resumen Gráfico del Comportamiento, November 2017 a Febrero 2019).

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: 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/); Proyecto Observación Villarrica Internet (POVI) (URL: http://www.povi.cl/).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 23, Number 12 (December 1998)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Declining seismic amplitudes since late 1996

Colima (Mexico)

Lava continues descending the S flank during December 1998

Etna (Italy)

Episodic eruptions from Southeast Crater during October-December

Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador)

Phreatic discharges and shallow, near-vent seismicity continue

Karymsky (Russia)

Satellite image shows ash plume 16 December

Klyuchevskoy (Russia)

Series of shallow earthquakes 23 December

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Ongoing Vulcanian eruption at Crater 2

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Pyroclastic flows and lava flows in November

Oku Volcanic Field (Cameroon)

High CO2 at Lakes Nyos and Monoun, April-May 1998

Plat Pays, Morne (Dominica)

Tectonic earthquake swarm declines; no volcanic tremor or other activity

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

Ash emissions, fires following energetic explosions in December

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Intermittent emissions of ash during November-December

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Continuing dome collapses and ash deposition in November

White Island (New Zealand)

New multiple-vent crater forms within 1978/90 crater



Arenal (Costa Rica) — December 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Arenal

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Declining seismic amplitudes since late 1996

A seismic instrument at Arenal has registered declining seismicity since late 1996 (figure 87). The instrument resides at Arenal Observatory Lodge, 2.8 km S of the summit. This three-component instrument (a Marks Products L-4-3D seismometer) interfaced to an automatic data acquisition system has been in nearly continuous operation for several years. The automated system looked at the output during 19-second-long intervals. The plots show seismicity in terms of the monthly percentage of these intervals with maximum amplitudes over 0.1 mV. Each plot corresponds to one of the instrument's three orthogonal components. The vertical component had the lowest amplitudes with only a few percent of the intervals over the threshold, and those occurred mainly in 1995-96. The horizontal components behaved with broad-scale similarity; but the N-S component had more vigorous response, in late 1996 and 1997 over 20% of the intervals extended over the stated threshold.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Arenal's monthly seismicity during early 1995-late 1998 as measured 2.8 km S of the summit. The vertical axis, scaled identically on all three components, shows the percent of intervals registered over the threshold of 100 microvolts. The missing interval on the N-S (radial) component reflects instrument malfunction. From late 1996 until the last reported data point in late 1998, all three components showed declining seismicity. Courtesy of William Melson and Sara James.

At Arenal, seismic levels have typically correlated positively with the intensity of pyroclastic outbursts. Decreased seismic intensity has often correlated with the escape of lava flows without pyroclastic outbursts. In harmony with the seismic data, observers noted both escaping lavas and fewer pyroclastic outbursts during much of 1998.

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

Information Contacts: Jorge Barquero, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica; William Melson and Sara James, Department of Mineral Sciences, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560-0119 USA.


Colima (Mexico) — December 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 continues descending the S flank during December 1998

This report is based primarily on official releases mainly covering December 1998. On 1 December three lava lobes existed, and the longest (central) about 800 m long and 350 m wide. Loose material traveled downslope 4.5 km. Monitored parameters indicated that the volcano was relatively stable, suggesting that neighboring communities were not at risk. On 1 December, the evacuation order was rescinded for the SW- flank community of Yerbabuena, 9 km from the summit. However, scientists reported increased activity on 9 December, when the longest flow reached 1.2 km from the summit. Summit winds changed at that time and began blowing ash away from villages.

By 10 December the central lobe had extended to ~1.7 km in length, and the E lobe reached a distance of ~1.3 km from the summit. In accord with these advances, the number of incandescent blocks escaping both near the summit and at the lava fronts increased. Figure 29 shows the three lava lobes on 11 December.

A press release on 14 December stated that during the previous 72 hours the volcano had generally remained at low intensity. The width of the central lava flow width remained at 350 m but in the following days the front crept forward to reach the following lengths: on 14 December; ~1.8 km; on 16 December, ~1.9 km; and on 4 January, ~2.9 km. The shorter, E lobe on 14-15 December had remained at ~1.35 km from the summit; on 16 December it reached 1.40 km. Blocks continued to break off and feed small avalanches but they remained within a 4.5-km radius.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Fresh block lava flowing down Colima's upper slopes as seen from the air off the SW side on 11 December 1998. Volcan de Colima appears in the right foreground; the peak of Nevado de Colima can be seen in the left-central part of the photo obscured by haze. Lava flows followed incisions of the Cordoban drainage (barrancas). From left to right these headwaters comprise the Western, Central, and Eastern Cordoban. Photograph by Juan Carlos Gavilanes, Colima Volcano Observatory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. A block-and-ash flow seen at Colima on 11 December 1998 descending from the dome on the W side of Barranca Cordoban and beside one of the new lava flows. View is from a point at 2,150 m, 4.25 km S of the dome. Photograph by Juan Carlos Gavilanes, Colima Volcano Observatory.

SO2 monitoring. A COSPEC flight on 31 December 1998 made five transects below the plume that resulted in an SO2 flux estimate of 4,930 ± 1,040 metric tons/day. An important component of a flux estimate comes from the wind velocity measurement, in this case computed by GPS. The average value was 4.7 m/s.

Satellite views. Peter Mouginis-Mark and over 10 other collaborators, colleagues, and co-workers have created a website displaying processed GOES 8 and GOES 10 satellite images of potential hot spots. Colima is one of eleven selected sites; each site gets imaged by a GOES satellite an average of once every 15 minutes.

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: Mauricio Breton Gonzalez; Carlos Navarro Ochoa, and Juan Carlos Gavilanes, Colima Volcano Observatory, Universidad de Colima, Ave. 25 de Julio 965, Colima 28045, Colima, México; Peter Mouginis-Mark, GOES Hotspot Monitoring System, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawaii, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).


Etna (Italy) — December 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Episodic eruptions from Southeast Crater during October-December

The following report summarizes activity observed at each of the four summit craters of Etna from October through December 1998. Bocca Nuova and Voragine exhibited some explosive activity during this period, but Northeast Crater was quiet. Southeast Crater had 15 distinct eruptive episodes. Most of the information for this report was compiled by Boris Behncke at the Istituto di Geologia e Geofisica, University of Catania (IGGUC), and posted on his internet website. The compilation was based on personal visits to the summit, telescopic observations from Catania, and other sources.

Activity at Southeast Crater (SEC). Poor visibility precluded observations after 30 September, when intense activity was rapidly building the intracrater cone and a new lava flow was spilling down the SW flank of the SEC cone (figure 74). On the evening of 1 October, no incandescence was visible at the crater, and brief glimpses of the summit during the following days revealed that no further growth of the intracrater cone had occurred. A group encamped ~800 m S of SEC reported that on 4 October there were no eruptions, but that activity renewed during the night.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Sketch map of Etna's summit craters showing recent eruption products as of 1 November 1998. The approximate extent of recent lava flows from Southeast Crater has been added. This map is not completely accurate regarding the distribution of the new flows, but locates some frequently mentioned features. Courtesy of Boris Behncke.

The summit was visited on 5 October by a group including Boris Behncke and Giovanni Sturiale (IGGUC), Marco Fulle (Trieste Astronomical Observatory), and Jürg Alean (Stromboli On-line). Strombolian bursts hurled incandescent bombs up to 200 m above the vent. A small conelet a few meters high that had grown around this vent was destroyed by explosions around 1300, and the active vent widened to 8-10 m diameter, with a low pyroclastic mound around it. Meter-sized lava blobs jetted continuously from the vent, and bombs showered SEC and its N flank. Many explosions were caused by the bursting of magma bubbles. Although the intracrater cone had grown significantly, it did not entirely fill the 15 September explosion crater. Alean stayed on the summit until the late evening of 5 October and returned the next afternoon. Strombolian activity culminated in a paroxysmal eruptive episode (the sixth since the crater resumed its activity on 15 September) on the evening of 5 October when fluid lava moved ~1 km down its E flank within a few hours. Strombolian activity at the intracrater cone was weaker, but increased slightly during the evening.

Vigorous eruptive activity resumed on the evening of 11 October at SEC, which had shown only low levels of activity during the preceding days. The renewed activity (the eighth eruptive episode) consisted of lava fountains and a lava flow that extended ~700 m downslope adjacent to the 5 October flow. Strombolian activity at the intracrater cone continued the next morning. Fulle reported "zero activity" at SEC on 13 October.

The episode of lava fountaining and lava emission during the night of 11-12 October was the seventh at SEC since the reawakening of the crater on 15 September. The activity had established a repetitive pattern of periods of relative calm or very low-level activity that lasted up to several days, followed by episodes of very intense Strombolian activity that culminated in lava fountains and short-lived, rapid effusion of lava flows for 1-2 days. The same crater displayed a series of episodes in September 1989 that marked the uprise of a voluminous batch of fresh, gas-rich magma, and culminated in a flank eruption in Valle del Leone. That eruption was accompanied by the formation of a non-eruptive fracture system down the SW flank to about 1,600 m elevation, close to one of the most densely populated areas on Etna. The new eruptive episodes at SEC, however, were of much smaller magnitude and occurred at greater intervals, and there was no geophysical evidence that magma was intruding at shallow levels into the fracture systems that radiate from the central conduit system.

Strombolian activity at SEC resumed on the evening of 16 October, after three days of no eruptive activity. According to Fulle, who witnessed the resumption of activity, there were first some high-pressure gas emissions during the late afternoon, without the ejection of pyroclastics. Strombolian activity had initiated sometime before 1900. Remote observation with binoculars from 5 km N of Catania by Sturiale during the night of 17-18 October revealed that the intracrater cone fractured on its southern side and issued lava. While Strombolian activity from the summit vent of the intracrater cone culminated in about nine hours of paroxysmal activity with lava fountains several hundred meters high, the new lava flow advanced in up to five lobes a few hundred meters downslope, slowing at the base of the SEC cone. Further flows spilled down the E and W sides of the cone. According to Sturiale, the most intense activity occurred around 0300; the episode ended at around 0630. The intracrater cone had merged with the N outer flank of the pre-1997 SEC cone; the summit of the cone was conservatively estimated to stand at 3,220 m, 30-40 m higher than the highest pre-1997 rim of SEC.

On 24 October SEC produced its ninth eruptive episode since 15 September. Activity began to intensify at around 1700 and was at its climax between 1900 and 2100 when Strombolian bursts jetted hundreds of meters above the cone. At times several vents appeared to be active. The main lava flow advanced to the base of the intracrater cone where it bifurcated into at least five lobes that spilled down the S flank. As of 2100, these active lobes had reached the base of the cone, and movement appeared to be slowing. Another lava flow spilled down the SW side of the SEC cone. Like the previous episode, the 24 October eruption was preceded by about 24 hours of weak Strombolian activity on the evening of 23 October. The paroxysmal event itself lasted only a few hours but was very intense, with about 2 hours of near-continuous lava fountaining. The lava flows on the S flank came close to the tourist lookout ~500 m N of the Torre del Filosofo hut, and then turned SE towards Valle del Bove, reaching ~1 km in maximum length. The SW lava flow did not extend beyond the base of the SEC cone. By 2300 all activity was over, but a brief revival of Strombolian activity occurred at around 0200 the next morning.

The tenth eruptive episode from SEC in seven weeks took place on the early morning of 1 November. In a characteristic pattern established during the recent episodes, the 1 November event was preceded on 31 October by the resumption of very mild Strombolian activity, and an increase in seismicity. While no effusive or explosive activity was evident until shortly after midnight (observation by Sturiale), lava began to spill down the S flank of the SEC cone before 0030. Low fountains began to play in the summit vent by 0130, and continued through at least 0430. The culminating phase began at around 0500 and lasted two or three hours; during this phase lava fountains continuously jetted hundreds of meters above the erupting vent, and numerous lava lobes spilled down the S flank of the SEC. Two lobes stopped about 100-150 m short of the tourist outlook, but other lobes turned SE at the base of the cone and reached ~600 m from the crater. Loud explosion noises were audible in towns on the lower flanks of Etna. It appears that initially the magma rose within the conduit and overflowed quietly without being accompanied by vigorous degassing, and this relatively quiet phase lasted a few hours. The 24 October episode was also reported to have initiated with the quiet overflow of lava prior to vigorous fountaining.

Behncke and Carmelo Monaco (IGGUC) visited the summit craters starting on 1300 on 1 November, roughly six hours after the end of that morning's eruptive episode and cessation of all lava outflow. Mild Strombolian activity continued through 1700, but there was no active or incandescent lava and Behncke was able to approach the spillover point on the S side of the intracrater cone, walking on still-hot but stagnant lava emplaced that morning. The spill-over area was a narrow channel, ~10 m deep, whose upper sides were plastered with large spatter; this channel extended to the base of the intracrater cone where it divided into two major channels that fed the lava flows on the outer S flank of the SEC cone. About 20-25 m farther W a similar spillover channel partly filled with 1 November ejecta was probably active during the 24 October episode.

The most striking effect of the five eruptive episodes since 5 October was the growth of the intracrater cone, which had become an imposing structure occupying almost all of the former SEC depression. A crater ~25-30 m wide occupied the summit of the intracrater cone.

Weak and infrequent Strombolian activity began again on the evening of 6 November; the next morning, SEC produced eruptive episode 11. Strombolian activity gradually increased through the night of 7 November and early morning, and the culminating phase of the episode began around 0830 on 8 November. By 1100, vigorous fountaining from the summit was accompanied by lava outflow onto the S flank. Shortly after 1330 the main phase of the episode was over, and no active lava was visible.

As of 16 November there had been no significant activity since 7 November, as revealed by seismic data (information from G. Patanè of the Osservatorio Sismologico di Acireale and IGGUC) and the lack of morphological changes to the summit cone. Sandro Privitera (IGGUC) reached the Torre del Filosofo hut on 15 November and witnessed a single ash emission from the cone before clouds hampered observations.

After 11 days of silence SEC produced its 12th eruptive episode in nine weeks on 18 November. After several days of weak seismicity, earthquakes began to increase in frequency during the late afternoon of 17 November (information from Patanè), and weak Strombolian activity began sometime around 2000 (information from J.C. Tanguy). This activity continued throughout the night, gradually increasing in vigor. The most intense activity occurred around 1030-1130 with high lava fountains, frequent ash emissions, and lava overflow onto the S flank. By 1230, most pyroclastic activity had ceased, and lava movement apparently stopped, although vigorous steaming from the new lava continued, and intense seismicity persisted for some time.

The 13th episode occurred on 29 November, again after a quiet interval of 11 days. Due to bad weather conditions, the activity could not be observed, but loud detonations were audible 25-30 km from the summit. The effects of this episode were studied during a visit on 3 December by Behncke. Lava had spilled through the breach in the S crater rim and reached the base of the cone. The summit of the newly formed cone at SEC was climbed to observe the vent that had produced all the recent activity; there was no eruptive activity, and only weak gas emissions occurred. The summit crater was ~50-80 m wide, its rim being highest on the SE side. The crater floor was relatively flat and had a central pit ~15 m wide in its center. From the crater rim it was possible to see that the summit of SEC was only about 20 m lower than the rim of the former summit crater (elevation 3,260 m), and thus SEC has grown at least 60-80 m since mid-1997.

It was SEC more than 14 days later that SEC began its fourteenth eruptive episode in three months, on 13-14 December. As usual, Strombolian activity began some 24 hours or so earlier. Carmelo Monaco (IGGCT) heard explosion sounds at Montagnola from the direction of SEC, but clouds prevented observations. However, at about 1930 the summit became visible from Catania, when Strombolian bursts occurred every few seconds. Between 2000 and 2030 a growing incandescent spot became visible below the fountain. During the next two hours, lava spilled down the S flank, and pyroclastic ejections became gradually stronger. The culminating phase began at about 0430, marked by strong seismic activity (information from Patanè). Tephra was carried S, leaving a dark streak on the snow. On 14 December, when viewed from Catania, the cone of SEC was covered with new pyroclastics and appeared to have grown; activity had returned to low levels.

The fifteenth eruptive episode from SEC occurred on 29 December, after the longest quiet interval between two episodes observed so far, and was essentially similar to the preceding episodes, with vigorous lava fountaining, tephra emission, and small lava flows.

Activity at Bocca Nuova (BN), Voragine, and Northeast Crater (NEC). The summit craters were visited on 5 October by Behncke, Sturiale, Fulle, and Alean. NEC was limited to forceful gas emission from a 30-m-wide vent on the floor of its about 80-m-deep central pit. Activity in the Voragine occurred in one vent in its SW part, which was ~100 m wide, tens of meters deep, and ejected bombs in near-continuous bursts; four other vents in the Voragine were degassing quietly. Within BN, both the NW and SE vent areas produced Strombolian activity. At the former, two vents in the W part of the cone were the sites of continuous minor bomb ejections culminating in fountains ~100 m high every 5-15 minutes. Only very few bombs fell outside the crater, but abundant fresh-looking bombs indicated that stronger activity had occurred within the preceding two days. Extensive fracturing of the lava flow that had entered the Bocca Nuova on 22 July indicated that minor subsidence had also affected a wider area. At the SE vents continuous Strombolian activity occurred from two vents in the collapse depression formed in early 1998.

Alean reported that activity in the Voragine and the SE vents in BN was stronger on 6 October. Fulle indicated that low-level activity persisted through 10 October and that during his observations on 12 and 13 October there was ongoing eruptive activity in BN and the Voragine. Eruptions from the SW vent in the Voragine ejected bombs into BN. An increase in the vigor of the ejections of the NW vent in BN was noted by Fulle on 15-16 October; explosions from that site ejected large (up to 1.5 m) black bombs onto the NW and N crater rims. On the morning of 25 October there was a dense gas plume issuing from BN.

Behncke and Monaco observed activity at BN and the Voragine on 1 November. In the former, the NW cone did not produce visible eruptions although explosion sounds could occasionally be heard. In the SE eruptive area three vents were the site of Strombolian activity. For the first time since the 22 July eruption it was possible to enter the Voragine, which was much shallower than before that event. Only the large SW vent was erupting, but that activity was very deep-seated, and only on one occasion did bombs rise above the lip of the vent. Very little degassing occurred from the large central vent, and the general impression was that the Voragine was quieter than at any time during the past six months. A weak gas plume was seen rising from the NEC central pit. There was continued weak activity in BN and Voragine through at least 10 November.

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


Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador) — December 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)


Phreatic discharges and shallow, near-vent seismicity continue

As late as 16 January, the volcanic crisis near Ecuador's capital, Quito, continued as visually observed activity and seismic indices showed little sign of either halting or escalating. Relevant histograms showing the seismic indices were posted by the Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN) on their website. In addition to photos and regular updates, the site discusses such topics as civil defense and hazard planning. The current eruptive crisis began when a series of modest phreatic eruptions followed the large 4 August earthquake that struck near the coast ~175 km SW (BGVN 23:08 and 23:09). This summary covers the interval 28 October 1998-16 January 1999.

Summit observations on 27 October disclosed fumaroles off-gassing at both the 1981 crater and the adjacent 1998 crater, and steam wafting to 300 m. The last few days of October were marked by comparative quiet, with few phreatic eruptions, and associated tremor under 30 minutes in duration.

On 9 November seismically detected explosions reached a new high of 4/day; the previous maxima occurred when 3/day took place on two days in mid-October. During 22 November through 22 December instruments detected very few explosions. A visit to the crater area on 20 November disclosed abundant fresh debris on the rim, and numerous impact craters scattered about the area. Poor weather prohibited systematic determination of ash plume heights, but on 23 December one plume rising to 3 km altitude was seen from Quito. Explosions then resumed, with three explosions on 10 January. Patterns in the number of daily multiphase, long-period, and volcano-tectonic earthquakes were somewhat similar, with lows in the weeks surrounding 28 November and significant upswings thereafter. Many seismic events were shallow, at depths of several kilometers. Intervals of spasmodic tremor up to two or three hours also occurred during the reporting interval.

Scientists computed reduced displacements of the seismically detected explosions. For the following intervals the maxima can be summarized as follows: November, 14.8 cm2; December, 15 cm2; and 1-16 January, 13.3 cm2. Two so-called "tornillo" (screw-type) seismic events were noted on 3 January. The term arises from the seismic record of these events that looks like the profile of a screw. The broad, higher amplitude portion of the screw occurs early in the arrival sequence; the signal's amplitude decays slowly, finally reaching background at the point of the screw.

On 13 November field workers observed deposits from mud and debris flows that had come down the Cinto and Cristal rivers on 4 November. Triggered by a small rockslide on the SW flank, these flows were also seen by WSW-flank inhabitants who reside in the village of La Playa. The flows could be observed up to 15 km from the crater. The flow material also mixed with thin ash produced during phreatic explosions.

On 19 November a guard at a local refuge reported an absence of activity at both the crater and fumaroles; however, at 1049 that day, the fumarole known as 'La Locomotora,' located on the caldera's S wall, expelled vapor reaching 400 m high. This fumarole remained active throughout the reporting period. Another fumarole, known as Las Alineadas, escaped from the S dome area and was briefly mentioned on several days during mid-December as the source of sulfurous gases and loud noises; on 26 December Alineadas discharged an 800-m-tall vapor plume. On 13, 14, and 16 January crater fumaroles gave off vapor plumes that reached 1 km in altitude.

Press reports. An unusually clear, though undated photo of the two intracaldera craters can be found at the El Comercio website. The same site has over 70 articles (in Spanish) devoted to Guagua; pieces that are direct, practical, informative, and—given the circumstances—surprisingly upbeat. They convey a sense of the human side of a volcanic crisis without undue sensationalism. Topics include: broccoli growth in the volcano's soil, the vulnerability of a local marketplace in the event of an eruption, "Geophysicists—the volcano doctors," "Gasoline: there is a distribution plan," and the merging of art and science in an attempt to glean past eruptive behavior.

One article, titled "Guagua: mud and ash could effect 31,000," discusses the poor state of roofs in 18 separate zones in N upland areas along the E half of Quito's urban margins, an area described as high-risk. An impressive figure illustrates the locations and names of the zones, their populations, and shows how each ranks in terms of relative risk from mud flows and ash fall. Finally, for each of these zones, the figure indicates the average estimated risk of roofs to weight-bearing loads.

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).


Karymsky (Russia) — December 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Karymsky

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Satellite image shows ash plume 16 December

Seismicity remains elevated. The low-level Strombolian eruptive activity that has characterized the volcano for the past two years continued during December. About 300-400 earthquakes and gas explosions occur every day. Satellite imagery on 16 December showed an ash-poor plume extending 200 km E. No change in seismicity was noticed. The level of concern color code remained yellow.

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: Vladimir Kirianov, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry; Tom Miller, Alaska Volcano Observatory.


Klyuchevskoy (Russia) — December 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Klyuchevskoy

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Series of shallow earthquakes 23 December

During 7-27 December seismicity under the volcano was generally at background. Hypocenters concentrated both at shallow depths near the summit crater and at depths of 25-30 km. On 7 December a fumarolic plume rose 500 m above the crater and extended >10 km E. During 8-11 December a plume rose 50 m above the crater before moving 2-3 km SE and E. On 21 December the plume rose 100 m above the crater, extending 10 km NW. On most other days during December, the volcano was obscured by clouds.

Beginning at 2352 on 23 December a series of shallow earthquakes with magnitudes smaller than M 2 began to be recorded beneath the volcano and at distances of >100 km. At 0400 on 24 December the activity abruptly decreased, although remaining still slightly above background until 1000 that day. Satellite images obtained during and after this anomaly did not show large areas of airborne ash. The level of concern color code was increased to yellow.

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: Vladimir Kirianov, 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) — December 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)


Ongoing Vulcanian eruption at Crater 2

The ongoing Vulcanian eruption at Crater 2 continued throughout November and December. Emissions consisted chiefly of gray ash clouds that drifted SW, resulting in fine ashfall. On 2 November a significant ash column was ejected forcefully up to ~2 km above the crater. Emissions during November were sometimes accompanied by roaring and rumbling sounds. No night glow was reported.

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: Herman Patia, RVO.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — December 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)


Pyroclastic flows and lava flows in November

Volcanologists observed pyroclastic flows and lava flows at Manam in mid-November and mild Strombolian eruptions during the last week of December.

November activity. In early November, Main Crater emitted pale gray ash clouds at irregular intervals, accompanied by roaring and rumbling, while South Crater released both white vapor and ash clouds that rose 500-800 m. On 6 November, following deep roaring and rumbling sounds, both craters emitted thick, dark, convoluting clouds that rose 600 m above the summit. Beginning at 0047 on 7 November, very loud explosions blasted out of South Crater at 5-20 minute intervals. The explosions led to ash columns that sent pyroclastic flows ~1 km down the SW valley. Later emissions produced a steadier and more forceful dark gray cloud accompanied by large explosions 20-60 minutes apart. At 1938 a large explosion sent pyroclastic flows ~2 km down the SW valley. Similar explosions were heard during the next few hours and incandescent projections were seen. A strong explosion at 2334 produced pyroclastic flows that ran ~2 km down SW Valley and 1 km down the SE valley. Similar activity continued until 10 November.

During the morning of 13 November frequent explosions led to small pyroclastic flows; later activity was irregular and accompanied by roaring noises. Activity increased at 1637 and sometime before 1900 lava began fountaining 180-350 m above the crater rim. Lava then spilled over the rim and flowed ~1-2 km down the SE and SW valleys. Ash emissions and loud noise were continuous while the lava was flowing. At 2100 the ash column abated, sending pyroclastic flows into the NW valley.

At 0221 on 14 November a voluminous ash column was produced and lava fragments ejected ~400-500 m above the summit. The incandescent projections within this column lit the mountain spectacularly. Later a very thick, dark gray ash cloud rose ~2 km above the summit and lava flowed ~2 km down the SE and SW valleys. Most ashfall was toward the SE, but a shower of ash with grain size of 1.5-2.0 mm fell at Tabele Observatory 4 km to the SW. Activity ended at about 2100 and afterward there were no noises heard or glows seen. From then until the end of the month activity at South Crater was restricted to mostly thin, white vapor emissions.

December activity. Emission from South Crater from 30 November to 20 December consisted mostly of white vapor with an occasional ash cloud rising 500 m above the summit. The ash clouds drifted SE and left a fine ashfall. Weak roaring noises were heard during 1-2 December and weak but steady glow was visible on the 1st.

A brief episode of Strombolian activity occurred on 24 December. At 1217 deep, weak explosions were followed by discontinuous, forceful emissions of dark-gray, convoluting clouds that rose 1,000-1,200 m above the summit. The emissions occurred at 1-2 minute intervals accompanied by roaring sounds. The activity continued until 1330 before declining to occasional emissions of thin, gray ash clouds. At night projections of incandescent lava fragments reached 200 m above the summit. Fine scoria and ashfall were reported on the SE of the island. During the next two days, moderate emissions were sometimes accompanied by forceful ejections of thick, dark gray ash clouds rising 800 m above the summit. A fluctuating glow and weak projections of glowing lava fragments were visible. From the 28th until the month's end South Crater released only white vapor while Main Crater released white vapor with occasional pale gray ash.

Geophysics. A steady accumulation of tilt took place before mid-November; it measured ~2 µrad at the radial water-tube tiltmeter of Tabele Observatory heralding renewed eruptive activity. Although during the mid-November eruption tilt appeared unaffected, seismicity reflected the changes in eruptive intensity; after 20 November a deflation of ~1.5 µrad was recorded. During 1-21 December, the tiltmeter recorded an inflation of ~1 µrad.

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: Herman Patia, RVO.


Oku Volcanic Field (Cameroon) — December 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Oku Volcanic Field

Cameroon

6.25°N, 10.5°E; summit elev. 3011 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


High CO2 at Lakes Nyos and Monoun, April-May 1998

Only three lakes in the world are known to contain high concentrations of dissolved gas in their bottom waters: Lakes Nyos and Monoun in Cameroon and Lake Kivu in East Africa. The release of large quantities of gas from lakes is very rare; however, massive carbon dioxide gas (CO2) releases from Lake Monoun in 1984 (SEAN 09:08) and Lake Nyos in 1986 (SEAN 11:08) resulted in the loss of nearly 1,800 lives.

A joint team comprising U.S., Cameroonian, and Japanese scientists continues to investigate the cause of these lethal CO2 releases, the potential for future events, and hazard remediation. The following is a summary of the team's preliminary findings as contained in a report for April-May 1998 (Kling and others, 1998).

The report stated that the total gas content in the two lakes was very high and continued to build from supplies of CO2 that discharge from underground springs in the bottom of the lakes. Likelihood of a gas release can be estimated from the degree of gas saturation (the ratio of gas pressure to hydrostatic pressure) in the bottom waters. Measurements established that the subsurface gas pressure is mainly due to dissolved CO2.

Figure 3 shows gas pressure plotted against depth in the lake from measurements made in Lake Nyos starting in 1989. Pressure has increased at all depths below 170 m since then; the largest increases occurred in the bottom 20 m of the lake. Gas pressure at lake bottom exceeds 13 bars, more than 60% of the saturation value based on an ambient hydrostatic pressure at that depth (21 bars).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Gas pressure as a function of depth in Lake Nyos for four years (1989, 1990, 1992, and 1998). The 210 m depth represents the lake bottom. From Kling and others (1998).

In Lake Monoun gas pressure also increased, reaching about 83% of the saturation pressure at 60-m depth. While the current gas saturation for both lakes remains below 100%, any large disturbance of the water column could trigger a violent release of the residual gas in these lakes. A frequently cited analogy to this process is the removal of the cap from a bottle of soda and the consequent drop in confining pressure enabling the gas dissolved in the soda to form bubbles. Once bubbles are formed in the lake they rise rapidly and drag the deep water toward the surface, drawing additional water upward in a chain reaction that can violently liberate enormous amounts of gas. Thus, the threat of a future lethal gas release is increasing.

A brief summary of the approximate water temperature and significant chemical parameters (alkalinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity) in Lake Nyos as a function of depth is presented in table 1; the trends in Lake Monoun are similar. Comprehensive details are available in the complete report. Both lakes are warmer at shallow depths and near the bottom than at intermediate depths; for Nyos the coolest temperatures (~22.5°C) appear at near 40-m depth. Nyos lake water has become increasingly similar to that seen in 1985 prior to the massive CO2 release.

Table 1. Some physicochemical parameters of water in Lake Nyos. The temperature values are estimates taken from plots in the original report. Conductivity refers to specific conductivity in microSiemens per centimeter. Data from Kling and others (1998).

Depth (m) Temperature (°C) Conductivity (µS/cm) pH Oxygen (mg/L as O2) Bicarbonate (mg/L as HCO3-)
0 ~ 27.2 52 8.73 8.12 --
30 ~ 22.5 57 6.31 2.26 41
50 ~ 22.5 526 5.46 0 371
100 ~ 23.2 764 5.25 0 553
200 ~ 25.3 1,500 4.95 0 1,102

A simple remedy to eliminate future lethal gas buildup involves removal of gas from the gas-rich bottom water of the lakes by pumping it through pipes to a suitable disposal area on the surface (BGVN 15:11). The scheme has been submitted by the Cameroonian government to the Japanese Embassy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs for funding. The energy released due to bubble formation (degassing) as the fluid rises is sufficient to drive the pumping operation without any external power source. This approach was validated by two demonstration projects, one in Lake Monoun in 1992 and one in Lake Nyos in 1995. In addition, future gas buildups can be prevented by continually flushing the bottom water out of the lakes through a pipe.

Lake Nyos has a weak natural dam at the outlet whose failure would cause a devastating flood that could affect up to 10,000 people in the downstream flood plain. However, pumping the gas-rich bottom water as noted above would also lower the lake water level, eliminating the flooding threat.

The people living close to these lakes need to be made aware of the risks from gas release and potential flooding. Toward this end, several Cameroonian Ministries have cooperated to produce a national plan for prevention and management of natural hazards.

In 1997 an international committee was established to help coordinate and advise the degassing efforts. This committee, named the NMDP Advisory Committee (Nyos-Monoun Degassing Project), includes members from six countries.

References. Kling, G., Evans, W., Tanyileke, G., and Kusakabe, M., 1998, Scientific investigation of Lakes Nyos and Monoun, Cameroon: Preliminary report, April-May 1998, for NMDP Advisory Committee. http://www.biology.lsa.umich.edu/~gwk/research/nm98rept.html.

Geologic Background. Numerous maars and basaltic cinder cones lie on or near the deeply dissected rhyolitic and trachytic Mount Oku massif along the Cameroon volcanic line. The Mount Oku stratovolcano is cut by a large caldera. The Oku volcanic field is noted for two crater lakes, Lake Nyos to the N and Lake Monoun to the S, that have produced catastrophic carbon-dioxide gas release events. The 15 August 1984, gas release at Lake Monoun was attributed to overturn of stratified lake water, triggered by an earthquake and landslide. The Lake Nyos event on 21 August 1986, caused at least 1,700 fatalities. The emission of ~1 km3 of magmatic carbon dioxide has been attributed either to overturn of stratified lake waters as a result of a non-volcanic process, or to phreatic explosions or injection of hot gas into the lake.

Information Contacts: George Kling, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI 48109, USA; William Evans, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park CA 94025, USA; Gregory Tanyileke, IRGM, BP 4110, MINREST, Yaounde, Cameroon; Minoru Kusakabe, Okayama University, Misasa, Tottori-ken 682-0192, Japan.


Morne Plat Pays (Dominica) — December 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Morne Plat Pays

Dominica

15.255°N, 61.341°W; summit elev. 940 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Tectonic earthquake swarm declines; no volcanic tremor or other activity

The following explanation of the recent seismicity on Dominica (BGVN 23:11) was provided by John Shepherd of the Seismic Research Unit.

"There has indeed been a series of earthquakes in Dominica, West Indies, over the past few months. The sequence reached an apparent climax on 22-23 October 1998 when a total of about 370 earthquakes occurred, of which over 100 were felt. Since then earthquake numbers have declined irregularly with smaller maxima in numbers on 6 and 30 December 1998. At the present time (5 February 1999) the rate of activity has declined to a few earthquakes per week, which is about the background level which we have observed for the past 30 years.

"The earthquakes are part of a pattern which has continued for at least 250 years. The present earthquakes are NOT directly associated with Morne Patates or any other volcano in Dominica and there have been absolutely no other signs of volcanic activity. Dominica is in the center of the tectonically-active Lesser Antilles, and non-volcanic earthquakes are frequent. Dominicans refer to felt earthquakes as 'tremors.' This has no scientific significance; the earthquakes are conventional local earthquakes and no volcanic tremor has been recorded.

"There is undoubtedly a continuous volcanic hazard and many Dominicans have become concerned because this particular set of earthquakes follows closely on the recent events in the nearby island of Montserrat. For this reason the government of the Commonwealth of Dominica has conducted an intensive program of public awareness in which we have participated. We are also assisting in the preparation of an updated volcanic hazards map for Dominica."

Geologic Background. The Morne Plat Pays volcanic complex occupies the southern tip of the island of Dominica and has been active throughout the Holocene. An arcuate caldera that formed about 39,000 years ago as a result of a major explosive eruption and flank collapse is open to Soufrière Bay on the west. This depression cuts the SW side of Morne Plat Pays stratovolcano and extends to the southern tip of Dominica. At least a dozen small post-caldera lava domes were emplaced within and outside this depression, including one submarine dome south of Scotts Head. The latest dated eruptions occurred from the Morne Patates lava dome about 1270 CE, although younger deposits have not yet been dated. The Morne Plat Pays complex is the site of extensive fumarolic activity, and at least ten swarms of small-magnitude earthquakes, none associated with eruptive activity, have occurred since 1765 at Morne Patates.

Information Contacts: John B. Shepherd, Head of Seismic Research, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad.


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — December 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash emissions, fires following energetic explosions in December

Weather clouds obstructed visibility during much of December. Scientists and civil authorities continued to recommend that no one get closer than 7 km from the crater. The hazard status remained Yellow.

At 0140 on 9 December a five-minute series of explosions ejected incandescent fragments over the flanks. These explosions were preceded by tremor and an A-type earthquake of low magnitude. At 0929 on 10 December another explosion ejected rocks onto the E flank (figure 29) and produced an ash column ~4 km high. High-frequency tremor was associated with the emission of gas, steam, and some ash plumes rising several thousand meters. An M 2.7 earthquake, 2 km SW and 11 km beneath the crater, occurred at 1839 on 13 December but did not affect eruptive activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Series of images showing the N flank of Popocatépetl from a monitoring camera taken at 0931-0932 on 10 December. Courtesy CENAPRED.

On 15 December the instrument station at Canario, on the N flank, went out of operation due to the intense eruptions of recent weeks. At 1750 on 15 December an explosion lasting one minute ejected incandescent fragments over a radius of 2-3 km. The explosion also produced an ash plume 3-4 km above the summit.

After an explosion at 1847 on 17 December activity fell immediately, with only isolated low-intensity exhalations and periods of high-frequency, low-amplitude tremor. According to field and aeronautical reports, the ash column reached 4-5 km above the crater and slowly dispersed ENE. Glowing fragments that fell on forested and grassy areas produced fires that persisted into the night but did not present hazards for nearby towns.

Following several A-type events, a moderate exhalation occurred at 2010 on 20 December. This event produced ash carried NW before falling over the airport in México City. Flight operations were closed between 2330 and 0115. Several hours of high-frequency, medium-intensity tremor were recorded during 24 December. At 0044 on 31 December an A-type earthquake took place with a magnitude of 3.5 and depth of 12 km under the summit.

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

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


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — December 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)


Intermittent emissions of ash during November-December

Eruptive activity was continuous during November and December, dominated by intermittent emissions of small, pale-gray ash clouds from the Tavurvur cone. Some larger ash-laden explosions reached 2.5 km high.

Visual observations. The first 13 days of November were a continuation of the style of activity observed at the end of October (BGVN 23:11) when emissions occurred minutes or hours apart. Ash clouds were usually released quietly, but occasional dark, ash-laden explosions rose 600-1,500 m above the summit. At 1334 and 2019 on 6 November two such explosions occurred: the latter produced an ash column 3 km high and sent pyroclastic flows down the sides of the cone. Moderate explosions were also heard occasionally during 13-23 November, a period of otherwise low activity. On 27 November emissions of dark gray ash at 1712 and 1909 rose ~1,000 m. Emissions subsequently became more frequent, thicker, and darker. Another significant explosion occurred at 1500 on 29 November. Light ashfalls fell mainly to the SE (over the sea), although occasional shifts of wind resulted in ashfalls over populated areas.

Emissions during December also occurred at irregular intervals; however, emissions became more frequent during 5-19 December and at the end of the month. Six large explosions during the month produced dark, ash-laden plumes that rose more than 1,000-1,500 m. Three of these explosions (on the 8, 27, and 29 December) produced ash columns that rose 2,500 m and showered the flanks with lava fragments. The ash was blown mainly to the SE, but some wind changes resulted in fine ashfall over Rabaul. Field observations suggested that the fragments were accidental materials from the vent area. Occasional roaring noises were heard during the month.

Ground deformation. Ground deformations were very slow during both months, though still indicating an uplifting trend that has continued since April 1997. However, sea shore survey measurements showed a reversal, which might be an artifact of the large flow of ocean water westward due to the reversal of El Niño, although this phenomenon is not well understood.

Seismicity. Only 633 low-frequency events were recorded during November; 2,843 were recorded in December. During 10-12 and 29-30 November low-amplitude harmonic signals were recorded. Between 12 and 28 November, the pattern of seismicity was characterized by low-frequency events of low amplitude and long duration. A noticeable emergence of moderate and large explosions (1-3 per day between 14 and 20 November) occurred during this period. A sequence of high-frequency events having an average S-P interval of 3.5 s occurred NE of the caldera during 20-25 November. It was not discovered whether these events were from the usual NE focus of earthquakes (which have had an S-P interval of 1-2.5 s). After 29 November the number and amplitude of the events increased.

A marked increase to a daily average of 100 low-frequency events during 5-19 and 29-31 December was associated with more frequent ash emissions. During 20-28 December ~60 events were recorded daily. Short bands of harmonic tremor were recorded during the second week of December and again on the 18th, 22nd, and 27th. Two high-frequency events were located NE of the caldera.

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: Herman Patia, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — December 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Soufriere Hills

United Kingdom

16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuing dome collapses and ash deposition in November

Activity during November was dominated by small-volume pyroclastic flows down the Gages, White River, and Tar River valleys. The pyroclastic flows reached the sea and left a narrow, deep cleft in the dome. Ash was deposited over the whole island, but heavy rains cleared the dust from inhabited areas. Seismicity was dominated by rockfalls and volcano-tectonic earthquakes, the latter occasionally occurring in swarms. Some of the larger seismic events were felt throughout the island.

Visual observations. As in October (BGVN 23:10), volcanic activity during November was dominated by intermittent, small pyroclastic flows from all of the dome flanks. On 2 November several small rockfall events were recorded, some followed by low-amplitude tremor.

At 0821 on 3 November a larger dome collapse sent pyroclastic flows down the Tar River as far as the sea and down the White River valley as far as Galway's Soufriere. The ash cloud from this event reached >3,100 m and drifted W. Most of the ash fell S of the Belham valley.

A major dome collapse occurred at 2117 on 5 November. The pyroclastic flows from this collapse traveled down the White River valley to the sea, depositing two blocky lobes on the White River delta. The surge cloud climbed halfway up the N slope of Fergus Mountain. A small, fresh, and predominantly fine-grained pyroclastic-flow deposit was also observed in Ginkgoes Ghaut near Reids Estate. The ash cloud from this event drifted W and reached a height of ~6,200 m. The pyroclastic flows originated from a deep gully between Chances Peak and the dome above Galway's.

Two small pyroclastic flows occurred at 0920 on 8 November and at 0847 on 9 November. These traveled down the White River and the associated ash clouds reached heights of ~1,800 and 3,100 m.

At 0607 on 12 November, the largest dome collapse in the current series occurred, followed by vigorous ash venting. Pyroclastic flows traveled down Gages, Tar River, and White River valleys. The ash cloud reached a height of ~7,700 m; ashfall covered the island but mainly affected the Richmond Hill area. The pyroclastic flows that traveled down Gages valley almost reached the sea at Plymouth; some burning was observed near the port buildings. For the first time, pyroclastic flows reached the War Memorial and the Post Office. Lobes of material reached into the Amersham area and a large water tower was transported into the upper parts of Parsons. Pyroclastic flows also reached the sea at the Tar River delta and the old coastline at the bottom of the White River valley. In the weeks following this collapse there were a few small pyroclastic flows and periods of low-amplitude seismic tremor coupled with ash venting.

Activity during November cut a deep channel into the dome. The channel is ~150 m deep and 30 m wide and bisects the dome between the head of the Tar River and the top of Gages valley. The channel sides are extremely steep and overhanging in places. Several large cracks formed in various sectors of the dome, including in the area above White River and Tyer's Ghaut.

On 16 November, deposits near the War Memorial showed a temperature of 386°C at a depth of 1 m. During 28-29 November, heavy rain caused mudflows down all flanks. New material was deposited on the Belham Bridge (1 m depth), in Plymouth, and on the airport runway.

Seismicity, deformation, and environmental monitoring. A swarm of volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes occurred on 1 November (42 events within about 3 minutes); the largest was felt throughout the island. The hypocenters were located SW of the volcano under Chances Peak. Rockfall signals and pyroclastic flows dominated seismicity (70% of recorded events). VT earthquakes (28% of recorded events) beneath the dome often followed rapidly after the larger collapse events. There was a second swarm of VT earthquakes on 25 November with 42 events within about 5 minutes; a pyroclastic flow occurred shortly after the swarm started.

GPS measurements made during the latter part of the month in collaboration with University of Puerto Rico staff determined that Long Ground has moved ~4 cm E since March 1998.

The miniCOSPEC measured an SO2 flux of 740 metric tons per day on 2 November, similar to the flux measured the previous 2 months. Sulfur dioxide also was measured at ground level using diffusion tubes around the island. SO2 levels varied depending on the prevailing winds, but overall were lower during November than in previous months.

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

Information Contacts: Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO), c/o Chief Minister's Office, PO Box 292, Plymouth, Montserrat, West Indies (URL: http://www. geo.mtu.edu/volcanoes/west.indies/soufriere/govt).


White Island (New Zealand) — December 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)


New multiple-vent crater forms within 1978/90 crater

A multiple-vent crater, named Metra, took form on the floor of main 1978/90 crater during 7-11 January. The other active vent (PeeJay) in the main crater formed in August 1998 and continued to emit dense volcanic gas and steam with some volcanic ash. Volcanic tremor levels decreased with the decline in activity at Metra, but remain slightly above typical background for White Island.

A visit was made on 12 January to assess the ongoing activity, conduct a deformation survey, collect ash and gas samples, and service the seismic installation. Results from that visit are reported below. An Alert Level 2 remained; explosive eruptions producing ballistic ejecta are considered possible, particularly if Metra Crater reactivates.

PeeJay vent. The size of PeeJay vent, located at the base of the NW wall of 1978/90 crater (figure 35), had not changed appreciably since a visit in November 1998 (BGVN 23:10 and 23:11). During the January 1999 visit the only generally active vent was PeeJay. It emitted considerable volumes of gas and steam under high pressure, and carried a minor amount of dark gray ash. The plume rose to ~300-350 m before trailing off downwind 10-15 km. The volume of ash contained in the plume was less than that observed over the past month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Sketch map of the crater area showing the position of the vents and ground deformation contours (heavy black lines; deformations in mm). Courtesy IGNS.

Measurements made near Peg Z, 140 m ENE of PeeJay, show that about 120 mm of fine ash had accumulated between 1 December 1998 and 12 January 1999, in at least 12 episodes of ashfall, mainly from PeeJay. Near Peg M, 280 m SE of PeeJay, only half that thickness was recorded.

Metra Crater. A considerable portion of the floor of 1978/90 Crater had collapsed, forming a multiple-vent, collapse-crater feature subsequently named Metra Crater (figure 35). The margins of this feature were characterized by scalloped areas that had subsided 5-10 m. On the N side were very fresh cracks in the ground; more collapse was deemed likely in this area. During the visit, Metra was essentially inactive but vivid white steam was emitted (figure 36). The deeper vents in Metra (15-20 m deep) contained pools of muddy, dark gray water and are likely the site of previously observed hydrothermal eruptions. Eruptions from Metra during the period from 7 January, when it was first seen, through 11 January produced a surrounding apron of closely spaced ballistic blocks on the 1978/90 crater floor. Scattered impact craters containing blocks up to 40 cm were seen on the 1978/90 crater rim in areas frequented by visitors, and isolated impacts were noted up to 350 m from Metra near Noisy Nellie. Observations on 17 January confirmed that no eruptions were occurring at Metra Crater; overnight rains had flooded the crater floor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Close-up view of the new Metra crater at White Island, which appeared during January 1999. Courtesy IGNS.

Other observations. The ground deformation survey showed a consistent trend of minor deflation across the main crater floor, with continued subsidence near the rim of 1978/90 Crater. Data from two selected pegs (figure 37) show the large-scale post-1990 inflation and minor deflation over the last 2-3 months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Plot showing temporal height changes of two selected pegs at White Island. Heights are in meters. Courtesy IGNS.

Volcanic tremor declined following the high that accompanied the formation of Metra (figure 38). Afterwards, tremor remained slightly higher than before the formation of the new vents. Tremor levels were low during 11-13 January before dramatically rising to a peak overnight on 14-15 January—the highest levels since those that accompanied the formation of the Metra Crater on 6-7 January. A further peak occurred on the evening of 15 January. Between 1030 and 1500 on 16 January explosive activity at Metra Crater tossed blocks up to 400 m from the crater. Observations from a helicopter operator, who was over the island during 1200-1220, suggested that multiple vents were active, each one erupting differently. Volcanic tremor levels reached a low on the morning of the 17th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Plot showing volcanic tremor at White Island, 5-17 January 1999. Courtesy IGNS.

Discharge temperatures and characteristics for fumaroles on the main crater floor were little changed from previous measurements made on 1 December. Fumarole ##1 measured 111°C, but tubes removed from the vent were coated in molten sulfur, indicating temperatures in the conduit of at least 119°C. Elemental sulfur continued to accumulate near this and neighboring vents on the S crater wall at high rates. Discharges on Donald Mound and Gully were very weak. Noisy Nellie and ##13a discharge pressures were strong, with temperatures of 134°C and 115°C, respectively.

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: Brad Scott, Wairakei Research Centre, Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (IGNS) Limited, Private Bag 2000, Wairakei, New Zealand (URL: https://www.gns.cri.nz/).

Atmospheric Effects

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

View Atmospheric Effects Reports

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

View Special Announcements Reports

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


Central Chile and Argentina


Estero de Parraguirre


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

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

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

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



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

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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


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

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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