Logo link to homepage

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

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

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


Recently Published Bulletin Reports

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/).

Search Bulletin Archive by Publication Date

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

   

The default month and year is the latest issue available.

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 27, Number 03 (March 2002)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Etna (Italy)

Overview of Etna's much-photographed July-August 2001 flank eruption

Fuego (Guatemala)

Costly 1999 aircraft-ash encounters due to ash plumes

Karymsky (Russia)

Elevated seismicity; possible explosions and avalanches in March 2002

Kilauea (United States)

Lava stops entering sea during January, tilting in late March-April 2002

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Mild eruptions during January-February 2002

Miyakejima (Japan)

Eruptive activity decreases; high SO2 flux through April 2002

Nyiragongo (DR Congo)

Report of field work; MODIS imagery from January 2002 eruption

Pacaya (Guatemala)

Costly 1999 aircraft-ash encounters due to ash plumes

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

M 5.6 earthquakes during March 2002 not related to volcanism

Sheveluch (Russia)

Growing dome, greater seismicity, and plumes to 10 km in early 2002

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea)

Isolated tremor episodes and slow deflation through March 2002



Etna (Italy) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Overview of Etna's much-photographed July-August 2001 flank eruption

The last flank eruption at Etna occurred in 1993, but eruptive activity has been nearly continuous in the summit area since late July 1995. Unusually vigorous eruptions in early June 2001 (BGVN 26:08) were followed by still more energetic behavior. An earthquake swarm took place in mid-July, and large SSE-flank eruptions vented lavas in late July and early August on a scale not seen since 1983 (BGVN 26:09). Though this activity has been reported in previous Bulletin reports, what follows is a more detailed description of the summer 2001 activity.

Precursory phases. During the first half of 2001 most activity occurred at the Southeast Crater (SEC), starting with very slow lava extrusion from a vent on the NNE flank of its cone in late January. During the next three months the lava emission rate progressively increased and, in late April, weak ejections of lava fragments began to build small spatter cones (also known as hornitos) in the vent area. Strombolian activity resumed at the SEC's summit vent on 7 May, followed by an episode of vigorous Strombolian activity and lava fountaining two days later.

The activity then returned to lower levels, but for the next two months the SEC was the site of very picturesque continuous and persistent activity, with mild, discontinuous Strombolian explosions from the summit vent and vigorous lava emission (at times accompanied by lava spattering) from vent(s) on the NNE flank. At this spot, a large, steep-sided cone consisting of overlapping lava flows and spatter began to grow, and it was informally named "Levantino." From Levantino (figure 93, upper part), lava flowed NE (toward the Valle del Leone), E, and SE (toward the Valle del Bove), forming a composite lava field with numerous overlapping flow lobes. The longest flows extended up to 2 km from the vent(s). From late May to early June the continuous and relatively harmless activity attracted many visitors.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. Inset map (upper left) and sketch map showing Etna's July-August 2001 lava flows, fissures, and related features. The 1983 lava flow-field on the S flank (lighter shading) is shown for comparison. The legend is also linked to numbers near the vents and fissures, as a way to indicate the sequence of activity. The pattern of activity lacked a simple spatial progression. For the time citations, note that the eruption occurred during daylight saving time (UTC + 2 hours). The sketch map is preliminary; it is a composite based on both fieldwork by Behnke and others, and already available maps appearing on the web, including those on the site of INGV-Sezione di Catania. Courtesy of Boris Behnke and Marco Neri, INGV.

The prelude to the main eruption began in early June, with the first strong phase on 7 June, which was mostly confined to lava fountaining at the Levantino, whereas only mild Strombolian activity occurred at the SEC summit vent. During the following six weeks the vigor of the eruptive episodes gradually increased and at times culminated in true lava fountaining from the summit vent. Fourteen such episodes occurred between 7 June and 13 July (7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24, 27-28 and 30 June; 4, 7 and 13 July), ending with the most violent outburst of the series. Immediately after its cessation, vigorous seismicity began, including shocks that were felt as far as the cities of Acireale and Catania (figure 93 index map).

Between the early mornings of 13 and 17 July, about 2,600 tremors, mostly unfelt, were recorded instrumentally. During this same time interval, severe ground cracking and faulting occurred in various places on the W rim of the Valle del Bove and near the "Cisternazza" pit crater on the Piano del Lago ("PDL," figure 3), a flat area at ~2,500 m elevation to the N of the Montagnola. Press sources cited local volcanologists saying that magma was rising through a dike and stagnating about 1 km below the surface. Steaming was observed at some of the new fractures, but as of the late evening of 16 July no magma had reached the surface. Seismicity continued at a slightly decreased rate.

Shortly after midnight on 17 July, yet another paroxysmal episode occurred at the SEC. This was similar to its 13 July predecessor, with vigorous lava fountaining from the summit vent and the Levantino. It was the last event that could be considered part of the prelude to the main eruption. Figure 93 shows a sketch map of the lava flows that ultimately resulted from the July-August 2001 eruption. The inset at upper left shows the 2001 lavas and locations of various towns on Etna's S, SE, and E flanks.

Eruption of 17 July-9 August 2001. As defined here, the main eruption lasted nearly 24 days, from early 17 July to late 9 August 2001. It began a few hours after the last paroxysmal eruptive episode at the SEC.

An eruptive fissure opened at about 0700 on 17 July at the SSE base of the SEC at ~ 2,950 m elevation (point 1 on figure 93). Vigorous lava spattering occurred at a number of vents, while lava flows advanced toward SE, in the direction of the Valle del Bove rim. Several hours later, at 2200, another fissure opened at an elevation of ~ 2,700 m (point 2 on figure 93), a bit to the W of a panoramic point on the W rim of the Valle del Bove known as "Belvedere," and lava began to extend S from there, across the Piano del Lago, and in the direction of the cable car and ski lifts (shown by the vertical dotted line just beneath PDL on figure 93).

At 0120 on 18 July, a third eruptive fissure became active on the S flank of the Montagnola at ~ 2,100 m elevation, slightly uphill of the Monti Calcarazzi (point 3 on figure 93). Activity at this fissure was initially weak, and a sluggish lava flow began to move from the lower end of the fissure toward the Monte Silvestri superiore, a large complex cinder cone formed in 1892. During the day, the activity gradually increased; lava flowed around the W side of the Monte Silvestri, crossed the road (which connected the Rifugio Sapienza-cable car area with the town of Zafferana) and passed close to buildings. By late evening on 18 July the flow front was at 1,800 m elevation. On 19 July, the lava flow fed by the vents at 2,100 m elevation continued to pass between numerous older cinder cones along the E margin of the 1983 lava flow-field. At the same time eruptive activity continued unabated at all eruptive fissures.

On the evening of 19 July at about 1900, a new vent opened on the Piano del Lago at ~2,570 m elevation, ~ 500 m N of the Montagnola (point 4 on figure 93; "Montagnola 2", "Monte del Lago" or "Cono del Laghetto", unfortunately, all three names are in common usage). The activity was characterized by violent phreatomagmatic explosions that produced a black, ash-laden column and ejected large blocks of older volcanic rocks. This phreatomagmatic activity might have been the result of magma-water interactions with shallow ground water. (The name, Piano del Lago, the "plain of the lake," derives from the fact that frequently during the spring snow-melt a small meltwater lake had formed in that area.) To observers familiar with footage of the 1963 Surtsey (Iceland) eruption, the steam-and-ash columns rising from the new vent appeared strikingly similar. After nightfall spectacular lightning flashed through the plume and ash fell over inhabited areas including the NE, E, SE, and S flanks. Close observation of the vent at 2,570 m elevation revealed a simple, though constantly eroding, pit. Rumors spread that the pit would eventually "make the Montagnola cave in;" however, it remained intact.

The front of the lava flow emitted at 2,100 m elevation (point 3 on figure 93) was at 1,350 m late on the evening of 19 July. It still advanced vigorously, though at reduced speed (~45 m/hour). Soon after, authorities declared a state of emergency.

By the evening of 20 July the front of the lava flow had reached 1,220 m elevation, but it had slowed in a gently sloping area. Nonetheless, the threat to Nicolosi had become international news. The main risk now came from forest and bush fires. Helicopters began to drop large quantities of water onto the burning forest (not onto the lava flow, as was widely reported). Fortunately, no fires broke out. By late 21 July the lava flow's front had reached 1,050 m elevation.

During the night of 19-20 July, the SEC reactivated, and lava began to issue from the NNE side of the Levantino, forming a small flow that advanced in the direction of the Valle del Bove.

At about 1100 on 21 July, yet another eruptive fissure formed (point 5 on figure 93). It emerged on the NE flank, far away from the earlier fissures (below the Pizzi Deneri on the floor of the Valle del Leone). Figure 93 portrays the impressive arcuate fracture system that developed. The lava first issued from the fissure's uppermost portion at ~ 2,700 m elevation, then from its eastern extension ~50 m further downslope. A fracture system formed between this northeasternmost fissure and the E side of the summit crater area, and fissures up to 1 m wide opened on the slope between the Bocca Nuova and the SEC, and began emitting dense vapor plumes.

The large pit crater on the Piano del Lago at 2,570 m elevation continued to produce dense, ash-laden plumes. In late July ash fell over the area between Zafferana and Acireale (inset, figure 93).

On 21 July, the eruption continued with unabated vigor at all eruptive fissures. Late that day, the lava from the vents at 2,700 m had not further advanced on the steep slope above the tourist complex of the Rifugio Sapienza area (shown as Rif. Sapienza, figure 93).

The next day, 22 July, a shift in the wind direction drove the dense ash plume produced by the phreatomagmatic vent at 2,570 m elevation directly over the Catania area, paralyzing the city's Fontanarossa International Airport, and dropping large amounts of fine, black, sand-sized tephra over streets and buildings. Eruptive activity continued without significant variations at all fissures, although the main lava flow directed toward Nicolosi had slowed significantly and advanced only a few meters per hour, still 4 km from the outskirts of the town. That evening, minor, though fast-moving lava tongues fed by the vents at 2,700 m elevation spilled down the steep slope above the tourist complex, destroying part of the ski lifts and threatening to overwhelm some of the poles of the cable car. However, none of these flows made it further than about halfway down that slope. Vigorous Strombolian activity continued at the fissure at 2,100 m elevation, and a cone about 20-30 m high had formed around the largest of its vents, while minor lava spattering from four vents in the lower part of the fissure was building a low-spatter rampart. The lava flow from this fissure moved as a single, broad unit (point 6 on figure 93). Throughout 23 July the activity showed little variation.

On 24 July it became clear that something was changing at the Piano del Lago crater, which until then had displayed only phreatomagmatic activity. Loud detonations came from the Piano del Lago vent on the morning of 25 July, as the activity there had now become purely magmatic.

A new cone was growing on the former Piano del Lago on 26 July produced near-continuous explosions accompanied by loud detonations that could be heard ten's of kilometers away. The cone received bombs ejected from at least three vents within it. Lava began flowing from vents on its S and N sides, spilling around the N and NW sides of the Montagnola and down the steep slope on the W side of that cone toward the Rifugio Sapienza. The new lava flow passed E of the lower cable car station, covered another portion of the road and advanced a few hundred meters further. Vigorous eruptive activity continued on 26 July at the eruptive fissure at 2,950 m elevation, while the fissure at 2,700 m elevation continued to emit lava but pyroclastic activity there had ended. Weak activity continued at the Valle del Leone fissure, with lava flowing toward Monte Simone (in the N part of the Valle del Bove), and the fissure at 2,100 m elevation showed no significant changes in its activity with respect to the previous days.

During 27-30 July the eruption produced some outstanding displays (figures 94 and 95) and caused the greatest impact on human structures. While the fissure in the Valle del Leone showed ever-lower levels of activity and the fissures at 2,900, 2,700, and 2,100 m elevation continued to erupt in a manner almost identical to the previous days, the Montagnola 2 cone and several nearby vents not only provided a show, but vents on its N and S flanks delivered vigorous lava flows that spilled down the steep slope to the W of the Montagnola in surges, presenting a continuous threat to the Rifugio Sapienza area.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. At Etna, a night view taken from high on the S flanks near Torre del Filosofo documenting the erupting vents at 2,700 m elevation (left) and a lava fountain at the Piano del Lago cone (right), probably taken on 30 July 2001. The camera was aimed SE. Lights of towns between Acireale and Giarre are visible in the background. Photo was published in the 1 August 2001 issue of the "La Sicilia" newspaper.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Spectacular aerial view of the largest cone formed in Etna's eruption during July-August 2001, built on what used to be the "Piano del Lago" at ~ 2,500 m elevation on the S flank. View is to the SW. Most of the cone grew in a few days in late July; this photo shows the waning phase around 2 August when only ash was emitted. After the end of the activity the summit of the cone stood nearly 100 m higher than its base, but then partially collapsed leaving the cone ~ 80 m higher. To the left of the cone is the 1763 Montagnola crater. Between the two lies a fuming vent; it emitted one of the latest lava flows in the area (black ribbon extending to the left margin of the photo). Other lava flows that were emitted from vents at ~ 2,700 m elevation (out of the photo to the right) can be seen in the right foreground. Yet another lava lobe extends toward the lower left corner of the photo; it emerged at the E base of the Piano del Lago cone. Photograph by volcanologists of the INGV (National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology); published on 6 August 2001 in the "La Sicilia" newspaper.

A lava flow from the southern base of the Piana del Lago cone on 27 July remained active for about 2 days (point 7 of figure 93). This cone produced three distinct lava flow units from three different vents on its SW, S, and NW sides; those from the SW vent were the most damaging. On the evening of 30 July, the eruption claimed the upper cable car station, which burst into flames as a tongue of lava invaded its interior. Behind it, the rapidly growing cone of the Piano del Lago sent its lava fountains hundreds of meters into the sky, producing ground-shaking detonations.

During late July, the rate of lava emission in the direction of the Rifugio Sapienza area diminished as a new vent opened on the S side of the Piano del Lago cone, from which a lava flow spilled over the crest of the Valle del Bove and flowed to the bottom of the Valle, covering a portion of lava erupted in 1991-1993. The Valle del Leone fissure ceased emitting lava. The Montagnola 2 had become a large cone. It again shifted from magmatic to phreatomagmatic activity. Although the level of activity at this cone was decreasing, ash columns developed, and the wind carried the ash again in the direction of Catania, again closing the Fontanarossa airport. Vigorous eruptive activity continued during the first days of August at the fissure at 2,100 m elevation, but the lava effusion rate had dropped, and only the central portion of the original flow remained active, feeding a flow that advanced on top of the larger earlier flow from the same fissure. Strong phreatomagmatic explosions occurred from time to time at the upper vents on this fissure. Lava also continued to pour from the fissure at 2,700 m elevation, and numerous active flow lobes extended SE toward Monte Nero.

Beginning on 3 August the activity at the fissure at 2,100 m elevation showed a marked decrease. During the last week of the eruption (4-10 August) lava continued to flow from that fissure at a rapidly diminishing rate, explosive activity ended, and the fissures at 2,950 and 2,700 m elevation ceased erupting. Ash emission from the Piano del Lago cone ended around 6 August. Lava was last seen flowing from the fissure at 2,100 m elevation on late 9 or early 10 August. The eruption ended after almost 24 days, much earlier than its vigorous onset had suggested.

Products of the eruption and morphological changes. The July-August 2001 eruption emitted at least eight distinct lava flows which mostly affected the S and SSW flanks of Etna. The most damaging flows came from vents near the Piano del Lago cone at 2,570 m elevation. This cone produced most of the pyroclastic material, of which the most fine-grained portion (ash) caused widespread distress.

Petrographically, the lavas fall into two main groups, one of which is essentially similar to the historical products of Etna (porphyric hawaiites with phenocrysts of plagioclase, clinopyroxene and olivine), while the other shows characteristics not seen in any Etnean lavas during the past millennia (alkalic basalts).

Several major pyroclastic edifices grew during the eruption. The largest, the Piano del Lago cone at ~2,570 m elevation, is a nearly symmetrical cone, ~80 m high, which grew mostly between 25 and 31 July. It is crowned by a large crater ~150 m across and 50-60 m deep with near-vertical walls. During a visit on 30 August a few fumaroles located on the SEC walls emitted vapor and gas without forming a visible plume. A spectacular dike was exposed at the base of the E crater wall, and a less conspicuous dike was visible at the base of the WNW crater wall. Several faults or groups of faults were visible in the E and NE crater walls; a narrow graben developed on top of the E crater wall dike. The second-largest pyroclastic edifice lies in the upper part of the fissure at 2,100 m elevation.

Extensive (non-eruptive) fracture systems formed between the various eruptive fissures. Some of them began to form before the eruption, others developed during its first week. Many of these fractures are arranged in an en echelon pattern, which is especially notable in the Valle del Leone, between the northeastern (2,600 m) vents and the SEC. Other spectacular fractures opened between the Piano del Lago cone and the eruptive fissure at 2,100 m elevation. However, the most impressive fractures developed on the E side of the former Central Crater (now occupied by the Voragine and the Bocca Nuova), where they attained widths of more than 1 m. These fractures were vigorously steaming when visited in late-August and mid-September 2001. Fracturing also affected the southern face of the SEC cone.

About 5.5 km2 of Etna's upper and middle slopes were covered with new lava (compared to 7.6 km2 in the 1991-1993 flank eruption). The total volume of lavas and pyroclastics emitted during the eruption is ~ 30-35 x 106 m3 (25 x 106 m3 of lava and 5-10 x 106 m3 of pyroclastics, all calculated as dense rock equivalent), which makes this eruption a relatively modest-sized one for Etna (the 1991-1993 eruption had produced ~ 235 x 106 m3 of lava). Yet the fairly high proportion of pyroclastic material distinguishes this eruption from most other recent Etnean flank eruptions.

The most productive vents were those at 2,100 m elevation, which produced the longest (~ 7 km) and most voluminous (slightly less than 14 x 106 m3) single lava flow. The average combined effusion rate at all eruptive fissures throughout the eruption was ~11 m3/s, with peak rates of 14-16 m3/s. It is assumed that much of the magma that accumulated in one or more reservoirs below the base of the volcano in the years preceding the eruption was not erupted and remains available for future eruptions.

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, Dipartimento di Scienze Geologiche (Sezione di Geologia e Geofisica), Palazzo delle Scienze, Corso Italia 55, 95129 Catania, Italy.


Fuego (Guatemala) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Fuego

Guatemala

14.473°N, 90.88°W; summit elev. 3763 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Costly 1999 aircraft-ash encounters due to ash plumes

At least two commercial aircraft flew through airborne ash near the Guatemala City airport on 21 May 1999. An eruption from Fuego that day was the first at that volcano since 1987 (BGVN 24:04). Although the aviator's reports attributed the ash from this encounter to Fuego, their aircraft intersected multiple ash plumes in widely different locations, and thus they may also have crossed plumes from Pacaya. The most likely plume near the southern approach to the airport (La Aurora, ~23 km N of Pacaya; ~40 km NE of Fuego) is from the almost constantly active Pacaya. In contrast, Fuego lies 32 km W of Pacaya and was the likely source of a plume intersected later during the flight, at higher altitude, and for much longer duration.

During the encounters the ~100 or more people on board the two aircraft, and many more on the ground, were at risk. Both encounters seriously damaged the aircraft but ended in safe landings without reported injuries. Volcanic ash can cause jet-engine failure, which creates a hazard not only to passengers, but to people on the ground as well. The risk in this situation was amplified by the airport's proximity to urban Guatemala City (population, >1.1 million).

This example leads to two conclusions discussed further below. First, ash avoidance methodology needs further refinement. Second, there exists an apparent bias towards under-reporting of aircraft-ash encounters, which could short-change their cost to air carriers, their perceived risk, and their funding allocation.

The original report of an aircraft-ash encounter was brought to our attention by Captain Edward Miller of the Air Line Pilots Association and provided on the condition that the air carrier remain anonymous. Bulletin editors also wish to acknowledge conversations with several additional anonymous contacts (commercial pilots). This case occurred in Guatemala; however, analogous situations exist at many airports adjacent to volcanoes. Modest eruptions from nearby volcanoes may be uncertain or difficult to see; they may be hard to detect or characterize; yet they still may yield mobile ash plumes carried by complex local winds to confront air traffic (Salinas, 2001; Hefter, 1998; Casadevall, 1994).

Although in most Bulletin reports we favor the use of local time to emphasize the reference frame of people on the scene, most of the source material (satellite and aviation) for this report refer to UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). UTC is the time on the Greenwich meridian (longitude zero), formerly GMT, a term which has fallen out of use. Accordingly, there are cases in this report that lack conversion to local time. Local time in Guatemala is 6 hours behind UTC.

Activity at Fuego and Pacaya. Fuego erupted on 21 May 1999 sending ash to the S, SE, and SW and ultimately dropping up to 40 cm of ash on local settlements (BGVN 24:04). The eruption occurred at 1800 local time (in terms of UTC, at 0000 the next day). Three hours later the eruption decreased and the Aeronautica Civil recommended that planes go no closer to Fuego than 40 km. One hour after that (at 2200 local, 0400 UTC), the atmospheric ash had settled, and Aeronautica Civil recommended flying no closer to Fuego than 15 km.

Bulletin reports for Pacaya in mid-1999 suggested relative calm, in harmony with the observation that it had chiefly been fuming. However, Pacaya is well-known for Strombolian outbursts. It lies directly in-line and only 23 km S of the N10°E-oriented airstrip. As is common for commercial aircraft there, the approaches described below passed very close to Pacaya. Pacaya typically has lower and smaller eruptions than Fuego, but because it lies so close to the southern approach to the airport, Pacaya's ash plumes easily enter the path of landing aircraft. The situation was particularly complex during this eruption because Fuego's ash was reported on cities that lie below the flight path as well as on the Pacaya's flanks.

Pilot's report of aircraft-ash encounter. What follows was taken from one flight crew's description of events and from later reports and dialog on the topic. In order to preserve the confidentiality of the airlines, the precise times of events on 21 May 1999 have been omitted. Pilots reported clear visibility and light wind, with both the capital and the airport in sight. They maneuvered the aircraft for a final approach from the S. Pilots were advised by air traffic control about erupted particulate ("volcanic sand") about 24 km (15 miles) SE of the airport, well away from their projected path to Runway 01. In addition, based on winds they detected as they neared the airport, the pilots concluded that the erupted particulate to the SE was downwind from their projected flight path to the airport. (In retrospect, this conclusion appears tenuous considering the possibility of either a fresh injection of ash from Fuego, or lingering ash in the trailing portion of the plume that lay to the SE.)

At ~32 km (20 miles) distance from the runway, the pilots maneuvered the plane through ~3,000 m (9,700 feet) altitude on a final approach to the airport with the plane's flaps partially extended (at ~15°, which slowed their aircraft to ~260 km/hour (160 mph), its auxiliary power unit (a small jet engine) on, and its landing gear down. Around this point in their descent, pilots saw bright yellow sparks through the windshield lasting a few seconds, a display unlike static electricity, but rather like that from a grinding wheel. This occurred again at 2,500 m (8,200 feet) altitude, but was more intense yet intermittent.

At this time, air-traffic control announced to the pilots that the aircraft landing in front of them had encountered volcanic particulate; they instructed the pilots to abort their landing and climb to 3,350 m (11,000 feet) altitude. Discussions of options and ash avoidance ensued between pilots and air-traffic control; ash had by this time accumulated on the runway, further complicating landing, even for approaches in the opposite direction. The pilots retracted the landing gear, accelerated to ~410 km/hour (~250 mph), began to climb, and after some discussion with air-traffic control, held on a course NE of the airport. They were subsequently cleared to climb to 6,700 m (22,000 feet) altitude and advised to proceed to an alternate airfield.

During the climb, at ~5,800 m (19,000 feet) altitude en-route to the alternate airport, the aircraft encountered volcanic particulate for 10 minutes. Within that interval the plane spent 2 minutes during ascent engulfed in denser and heavier particulate. During that period, window arcing was constant and the beam of their landing lights revealed a conspicuous cloud of reflecting particles. During ash ingestion the engines's speed lacked noticeable fluctuations. The aircraft exited the plume at about 6,100 m (20,000 feet) altitude and landed without encountering additional ash.

Upon landing, the pilots noticed reduced visibility through abraded windshields. Post-flight examination of the airplane revealed heavy damage, requiring the replacement of the engines (US $2 million each) and auxiliary-power-unit engine. (Note, however, that no deterioration in engine power or performance was noticed during the flight.) Other replaced parts included windshields, a heat exchanger, and coalescer bags. Minor damage was seen on the horizontal stabilizer and wing leading-edges.

Volcanic Ash Advisory Statements. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Satellite Services Division website contains two archived statements issued by the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) at Washington, D.C. for Fuego on 21-22 May 1999. The statements, issued to the aviation cummunity to warn of volcanic hazards, are intended for an audience accustomed to special terminology (figures 2 and 3). In the interest of advancing understanding of how volcanological and atmospheric data get transmitted to aviators, we offer brief explanations for many of the terms used (figure 2).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. The first archived Volcanic Ash Advisory Statement (VAAS) for the 21 May 1999 eruption at Fuego, Guatemala. The boxes contain added notes to explain some of the basic conventions and specific details seen here. This Statement currently appears on the NOAA Satellite Services Division website (see "Information Contacts," below). Local names are frequently anglicized, dropping all accents and other non-English characters (eg. México would be written MEXICO). Later Advisories adopted the abbreviation "Z" (pronounced 'Zulu' by aviators) for UTC, as in 1300 UTC written as 1300Z.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. A later Volcanic Ash Advisory Statement (VAAS) for the 21 May 1999 eruption at Fuego, Guatemala. The statement, which was issued the next day, discloses that the eruption had then stopped and the hazard status was lowered. The statement appears on the NOAA Satellite Services Division website (see "Information Contacts," below).

The Washington VAAC received first notification of the Fuego eruption from a routine surface weather observation from Guatemala City at 2000 local time (0200 UTC) on 22 May. They issued the first Volcanic Ash Advisory Statement a half-hour later (figure 2). Six hours later they issued the second Advisory Statement (figure 3). The Advisories were composed by staff of the Satellite Analysis Branch, one of the two NOAA components forming the Washington VAAC (Streett, 1999; Washington VAAC).

The section "Details of ash cloud" first says that the "surface observation from Guatemala City indicate that the Fuego volcano is in eruption" and that no additional information is available and then briefly describes in words observations that came from satellite imagery. The first sentence, "No eruption . . ." is self-explanatory, but highlights a limitation of the method in use that needs to be emphasized to aviators: an eruption may have occurred but its status is not revealed on the imagery. The sentence, "No eruption could be detected due to thunderstorm cloudiness covering the area around the volcano" is self-explanatory. Less clear is the term convective debris. It does not refer to ash; rather, it refers to remnants of thunderstorms. The gist of these latter two sentences is simply that the thunderstorms that covered the area made it challenging or impossible to see the ash on satellite imagery. Central American thunderstorm clouds typically can reach altitudes of more than 12,000 m (40,000 feet), and can mask or obscure airborne ash residing below that level.

Members of the Washington VAAC commented that this eruption demonstrates key problems that can arise when cloudy conditions prevent satellite detection of ash, foiling a primary mode of analysis. In such cases, they rely on ground observers (including observatories and weather observers), pilot reports, and reports from airlines. Thus, their ability to issue useful information in cloudy conditions depends on the quality of communications with local observers, the Meteorological Watch Office, volcanologists, geophysical observatories, and the aviation community.

The Advisory Statement listed México City weather balloon data acquired 1,050 km NW of Guatemala City. In retrospect, the Washington VAAC noted that they generally avoid using such distant sounding data. If a closer sounding cannot be found, they prefer to use upper-level wind forecasts taken from a numerical weather model. In any case, the scarcity of local sounding data presents a challenge to the realistic analysis of airborne ash.

The outlook section says to "see SIGMETS." SIGMETS are the true warnings to aircraft for SIGnificant METeorological events. They are issued by regional Meteorological Watch Offices (MWOs), in this case the MWO (for Guatemala) is in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. SIGMETS were lacking for this eruption; although the Washington VAAC tried to contact the MWO without response. Another complexity confronted at the VAAC is a lack of a single scale for communicating a volcano's hazard status.

Reporting of aviation ash encounters. In personal communications with Bulletin editors, airline personnel stated that many more encounters have occurred than have yet been tallied in publically accessible literature. In accord with those assertions, the 21 May 1999 encounters are absent from reports compiled by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, 2001). In that document (Appendix I, table 3A, p. I-12) Fuego fails to appear as a source vent for any aircraft-ash encounter. Pacaya is listed for two encounters, in January 1987 and in May 1998 (BGVN 23:05).

Even though the number of encounters was probably under-represented and thus reflects a minimum, ICAO (2001) notes that the international costs to aviation since 1982 summed to well in excess of $250 million. They noted, "In addition to its potential to cause a major aircraft accident, the economic cost of volcanic ash to international civil aviation is staggering. This involves numerous complete engine changes, engine overhauls, airframe refurbishing... aircraft downtime... [and] volcanic ash clearance from airports and the damage caused to equipment and buildings on the ground."

The incidents here suggest that there has been a strong bias toward under-reporting aircraft-ash encounters. If this tentative conclusion is correct, it implies consistent understatements of the hazard's magnitude. This, in turn, may have thwarted meaningful analysis of how and whether to proceed with designing more robust hazard-reduction systems. Accordingly, resources that could have been devoted to the problem have not yet been committed (see Gimmestad and others, 2001 for a discussion of a prototype on-board ash-detection instrument).

Communication challenges. While much of the aviation community needs to learn about volcanism rapidly, dependably, and with the aid of the Internet, some observers charged with reporting volcanic-ash hazards in Central and South America lack access to basic communication devices like reliable telephones and fax machines. To reduce the risks, the aviation, meteorological, remote sensing, and volcanological communities need to improve their ability to pass critical information to each other rapidly and precisely. The operational systems related to volcanic ash and aviation must transcend numerous boundaries (eg., languages, infrastructure, funding, governments, agencies, air carriers, pilots, aircraft manufactures, etc.). The systems need to portray complex, dynamic processes such as the rapid rise of an explosive plume, or large-scale ash-cloud movement.

Although the infrastructure for ash avoidance is greater than ever, members of the Washington VAAC have told Bulletin editors that they still depend heavily on people on the scene of the eruption to notify them promptly when eruptions occur. They said that thus far in parts of Central and South America a problem has been the expense of communication (eg., by phone, fax, and Internet). They also said that for the same regions the U.S. meteorological database regularly lacks pilot reports. Though serious, these problems have at least been identified and their solutions would appear to lack great technical or economic barriers.

The pilots involved in the May 1999 encounter recommended that far more emphasis be placed on forecasting and avoiding ash plumes. Other pilots cited the need for fast and accurate communications between those who observe eruptive activity and air traffic control personnel.

Issues like these continue to be an important subject at gatherings on the topic of ash hazards in aviation (Casadevall, 1994; Streett, D., 1999; Washington VAAC, 1999). The Airline Dispatcher's Federation (ADF) will participate in a 7-9 May 2002 conference and workshop: "Operational Implications of Airborne Volcanic Ash: Detection, Avoidance, and Mitigation." The gathering will provide the pilot and dispatcher with insights into volcanic ash, including its characteristics, affects on aircraft, detection/tracking, effective warning systems, and mitigation. A "hands-on" exercise will make this the first gathering of its kind to provide lab-style instruction on interpretation of satellite and wind data, and on models of ash trajectory and dispersion. Representatives from the Boeing company, and a host of US government agencies and non-governmental organizations will attend. The workshop will include lectures, demonstrations, laboratory exercises, and a simulated-eruption exercise involving volcanologists, forecasters, controllers, dispatchers, and pilots.

A second international symposium on ash and aviation safety is being planned by the U.S. Geological Survey, organized by Marianne Guffanti. It will be held in Washington, D.C. in September 2003.

References. Casadevall, T.J. (ed.), 1994, Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Volcanic Ash and Aviation Safety: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2047, 450 p.

Gimmestad, G.G., Papanicolopoulos, C.D., Richards, M.A., Sherman, D.L., and West, L.L., 2001, Feasibility study of radiometry for airborne detection of aviation hazards, NASA/CR-2001-210855; Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, Georgia, 51 p. (URL: http://techreports.larc.nasa.gov/ltrs/PDF/2001/cr/).

Hefter, J.L., 1998, Verifying a volcanic ash forecasting model, Airline Pilot, v. 67, no. 5, pp. 20-23, 54.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), 2001, Manual on volcanic ash, radioactive material, and toxic chemical clouds, doc 9691-AN/954 (first edition): 999 University St., Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3C 5H7 (purchasing information: sales_unit@icao.int).

Rose, W.I., Bluth, J.S.G., Schneider, D.L., Ernst, G.G.J., Riley, C.M., Henderson, L.J., and McGimsey, R.G., 2001, Observations of volcanic clouds in the first few days of atmospheric residence: The 1992 eruptions of Crater Peak, Mount Spurr volcano, Alaska, Jour. of Geology, v. 109, p. 677-694.

Salinas, Leonard J., 2001, Volcanic ash clouds pose a real threat to aircraft safety: United Airlines, Chicago, Illinois (URL: http://www.dispatcher.org/library/VolcanicAsh.htm).

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.

Streett, D., 1999, Satellite-based Volcanic Ash Advisories and an Ash Trajectory Model from the Washington VAAC: Eighth Conference on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology, 10-15 January 1999, Dallas, Texas; American Meteorological Society, p. 290-294.

Washington VAAC, 1999, Operations of the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, in Aeronautical meteorological offices and their functions, and meteorological observation networks: Third Caribbean/South American Regional Air Navigation Meeting (Car/sam/ran/3); Buenos Aires, Argentina, 5 - 15 October, 1999; International Civil Aviation Organization (http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/ VAAC/PAPERS/carsam.html).

Geologic Background. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3763-m-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the north, Acatenango. Construction of Meseta dates back to about 230,000 years and continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Collapse of Meseta may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km onto the Pacific coastal plain. Growth of the modern Fuego volcano followed, continuing the southward migration of volcanism that began at Acatenango. In contrast to the mostly andesitic Acatenango, eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.

Information Contacts: Captain Edward Miller, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Air Safety & Engineering Department, 535 Herndon Parkway, PO Box 1169, Herndon, VA 22070-1169, USA; Grace Swanson and Davida Streett, Washington VAAC, Satellite Analysis Branch (NOAA/NESDIS), 4700 Silver Hill Road, Stop 9910, Washington, DC 20233-9910, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/); Bill Rose, Geological Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA.


Karymsky (Russia) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Karymsky

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Elevated seismicity; possible explosions and avalanches in March 2002

Episodes of increased seismicity occurred during December 2000 through September 2001 (BGVN 26:08). Since then seismic activity at Karymsky has remained mostly above background levels. The Concern Color Code remained at Yellow ("volcano is restless") through at least late March 2002. Apparent steam plumes were seen in satellite imagery during January-March 2002.

On 4 January 2002, the Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) reported above-background seismicity during the previous week, with 40 to 80 weak local earthquakes occurring per day. Several shallow seismic events suggested gas-ash explosions. Beginning at 1200 on 10 January the number of local earthquakes increased noticeably. During 11-14 January about 200 weak local shallow seismic events occurred per day.

During late January through at least March 2002, the seismic station typically recorded approximately 10 local shallow earthquakes per hour. Around 24 January, the earthquakes became slightly stronger. The character of the seismicity during mid-March suggested weak ash-gas explosions and avalanches.

The Tokyo VAAC reported that on 1 February at 1810 an eruption produced an ash cloud that reached ~7.5 km above the summit and drifted to the E; however, the cloud was not visible on satellite imagery. On 13 February at 0945 a pilot reported an ash cloud to ~3.5 km above the volcano extending to the W. Again, this cloud was not visible on satellite imagery; it may have been a single burst that dissipated rapidly.

No ash was detected in satellite images during the report period; only steam and possible airborne volcanic aerosols were visible during late February. Thermal anomalies and plumes were visible on AVHRR satellite imagery throughout the report period (table 1).

Table 1. Thermal anomalies and plumes visible on AVHRR satellite imagery at Karymsky during January through March 2002. Courtesy KVERT.

Date Time (local) Size (pixels) Max. band-3 temperature Background temperature Visible plume
19 Jan 2002 1659 2 31.6°C -21°C --
19 Jan-25 Jan 2002 2-4 -3.7 to 35.0°C -16 to -25°C --
21 Jan 2002 1614 -- -- -- Steam plume extending 45 km SE
27 Jan 2002 1711 1 47.7°C -22°C --
28 Jan 2002 1646 -- -- -- Small steam plume extending 30 km NE
03 Feb-08 Feb 2002 -- 2-10 49.7 to -7°C -15 to -30°C --
05 Feb-06 Feb 2002 -- -- -- -- Steam plume extending 100-150 km E
08 Feb 2002 0536 4 5.7°C -22°C --
13 Feb 2002 0538 4 0.1°C -23°C --
13 Feb 2002 1202 4 -1.7°C -22 to -28°C --
13 Feb 2002 1708 4 ~49°C -20°C 20-km long steam plume moving SW
14 Feb 2002 1644 5 39°C -8°C Small plume extending N
17 Feb 2002 0544 1 -3°C -22°C --
18 Feb 2002 1649 4 32°C -10°C Short plume extending NE
19 Feb 2002 1622 -- -- -- Small steam plume extending 100 km E
20 Feb 2002 0613 4 24.9°C -24°C --
21 Feb 2002 0550 4 -4.2°C -25°C --
22 Feb-01 Mar 2002 -- 1-4 12 to 40°C -10 to -27°C --
22 Feb 2002 1650 -- -- -- Very diffuse cloud observed that could be related to volcanic aerosols
27 Feb 2002 1635 -- -- -- 20-km long faint steam plume extended E
02 Mar-08 Mar 2002 -- 1-4 1 to 15°C -17 to -24°C --
06 Mar 2002 1708 -- -- -- Bifurcated steam plume; first branch extended 10 km NE and the second branch extended 20 km SE
16 Mar-22 Mar 2002 -- 2-4 -6.8 to 35.6°C 0 to -20°C --
19 Mar-20 Mar 2002 -- -- -- -- Small steam/aerosol plume extending SE
22, 25 Mar 2002 -- 1-3 -6.8 and 14°C -20°C --

General Reference. Khrenov, A.P., and others, 1982, Eruptive activity of Karymsky Volcano over the period of 10 Years (1970-1980): Volcanology and Seismology, no. 4, p. 29-48.

Tokarev, P.I., 1990, Eruptions and seismicity at Karymskii volcano in 1965-1986: Volcanology and Seismology, v. 11, p. 117-134 (in English).

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

Information Contacts: Olga Chubarova, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia; Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC),Tokyo, Japan (URL: https://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/).


Kilauea (United States) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava stops entering sea during January, tilting in late March-April 2002

This report discusses activity at Kilauea during mid-January through mid-April 2002. The flow of lava into the ocean in September (BGVN 26:12) at the Kamoamoa entry and, to a lesser extent, at the E Kupapa'u entry, terminated by the end of January. During February through mid-March lava flowed on the surface at elevations above or on the Pulama Pali slope and along the Kamoamoa lava tube system. Volcanic tremor occurred at moderate levels, and long-period (LP) earthquakes were registered below the caldera. In mid-March incandescence was visible from Pu`u `O`o crater. Incoming lava flooded the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater and excess lava flowed through lava tubes down the Pulama Pali slope to the coastal plain. Heightened activity continued and in early April a series of deflation and inflation events occurred. LP earthquakes increased and on 6 April observations of the crater lake in Pu`u `O`o crater revealed that the lava had risen to 17 m below the E rim.

Geophysical activity. Tiltmeters across the volcano showed no significant deformation until mid-March, although an M 4.1 earthquake had occurred at 0118 on 18 January. The earthquake was located 4 km SSE of the Pu`u `O`o crater at a depth of 9.1 km. During the following several days volcanic tremor remained moderate to strong at Pu`u `O`o. The swarm of long-period (LP) earthquakes at the summit continued through March. Just after 0300 on 27 March a small earthquake beneath the caldera triggered more than 30 minutes of increased tremor and small earthquakes.

Sharp deflation at Pu`u `O`o on 28 March accompanied a change in eruptive activity at the cone. On 31 March volcanic tremor was low-to-moderate at Pu`u `O`o and the continuing weak tremor below the caldera was broken occasionally by small LP earthquakes. Associated tilt across the volcano was flat or only changed slightly.

During 4-6 April, a series of deflation and inflation events occurred. In terms of tilt, at ~2100 on 4 April, Kilauea's summit deflated (~1.7 µrad); 30 minutes later Pu`u `O`o followed (~9 µrad). This was reversed at 1600 on 5 April when rapid inflation began at the summit and ~12 minutes later at Pu`u `O`o. At 1700 inflation ended at the summit, and it abruptly deflated, as did Pu`u `O`o at 1800. Subsequently, tilt at Pu`u `O`o oscillated three times between rapid deflation and slower inflation. The tilt temporarily decreased, but at 0508 on 6 April another interval of 4.5 oscillations occurred followed by resumed tilt and slow, bumpy inflation. During this turbulent period LP earthquakes increased at the summit while tremor remained steady at Pu`u `O`o. By 7 April tilt was relatively steady, volcanic tremor at Pu`u `O`o was moderate, and tremor at the summit was low to moderate.

Lava flows. During mid-January surface lava traveled along the upper portion of the flow field above the Pulama pali slope and onto the coastal flat. Surface lava also emerged along the Kamoamoa lava tube system and traveled down the Pulama pali slope. These surface flows continued to be visible through February, although the flow reaching the coastal plain had stopped at the end of January. At times during early March several rootless shields (a pile of lava flows built over a lava tube rather than over a conduit feeding magma) were active. During 12-19 March a bright glow was widely visible over Kilauea from Pu`u `O`o crater and from a rootless shield near 665 m elevation where the most intense surface activity occurred.

By 18 March lava had flooded the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater resulting in surface lava flows and lava flowing through tubes. Lava spread out on the lower fan and adjacent coastal flat, although the fronts of the flows remained ~2.3 km from the ocean. At the base of the lava fan and on the adjacent coastal flat the rootless shields remained active and small surface lava flows persisted through mid-April.

Eruptive activity changed on 28 March, as noted above, and overflight observations revealed new lava located W of the main crater. Observers also saw lava fountaining and forming a circulating pond. By 31 March a lava flow was visible on the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater and several vents were incandescent. During a brief visit to Pu`u `O`o on 6 April observers noticed that the crater lake had risen ~8 m since 29 March (the lake surface was 17 m below the E rim), several cones were active, and lava was flowing into the lava lake from two vents. By the following day activity had decreased and by 8 April incandescence was no longer visible at Pu`u `O`o.

General References. Decker, R.W., Wright, T.L., and Stauffer, P.H., 1987, (eds.), Volcanism in Hawaii: USGS Professional Paper 1350, 1667 p. (64 papers).

Ryan, M.P., 1988, The mechanics and three-dimensional internal structure of active magmatic systems: Kilauea volcano, Hawaii: JGR, v. 93, p. 4213-4248.

Dzurisin, D., Koyanagi, R.Y., and English, T.T., 1984, Magma supply and storage at Kilauea volcano, Hawaii, 1956-1983: JVGR, v. 21, no. 3/4, p. 177-207.

Heliker, C., Griggs, J.D., Takahashi, T.J., and Wright, T.L., 1986/7, Volcano monitoring at the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: Earthquakes and Volcanoes, v. 18, no. 1, p. 3-71.

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

Information Contacts: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), U.S. Geological Survey, PO Box 51, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718, USA (URL: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/).


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — March 2002 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)


Mild eruptions during January-February 2002

Activity at Manam remained relatively low following a 4 June 2000 eruption (BGVN 25:07). During August and September 2001, the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory (RVO) reported occasional emissions of weak-to-moderate volumes of white vapor. Weak emissions were also observed from South Crater.

On 13 January 2002 mild eruptive activity began from South Crater. Weak gray-brown ash clouds were emitted at 5-10 minute intervals. Fine, light ashfall was reported on the NE side of the island. Ashfall was reported again on 16, 20, 21, 22, 26, 29, 30, and 31 January, produced by activity ranging from gentle emissions to forceful projections of weak-to-moderate gray-brown and occasionally dark-gray ash clouds, during periods lasting a few hours. Most of the activity was accompanied by weak, deep, low roaring and rumbling noises. Explosion noises were heard on 20 January, and incandescence was observed on 17 and 20 January. The incandescence on 20 January fluctuated but occasionally intensified and projected glowing lava fragments.

Similar mild eruptive activity continued through much of February. Fine ashfall occurred on the SE part of the island. Weak-to-bright incandescence was observed on 13 February, after a loud explosion at 0225. The explosion was also followed by weak roaring and rumbling noises at one-minute intervals lasting for ~1 hour. During 20-24 February activity decreased and continuous weak volumes of white vapor were emitted. Main Crater released only weak-to-moderate volumes of white vapor.

People living in and near the four valleys (especially those in the NE and SE) were urged to be cautious and remain away from the valleys as much as possible.

More recently, a period of activity began in December 1956 that lasted through January 1966. Lava flows and a nuee ardente from the South Crater occurred in June and December 1974, and intermittent moderate explosive activity has continued, with peaks of activity in 1982 and 1984. The water-tube tiltmeter is located at Tabele Observatory, 4 km from the summit on the SW flank.

General References. de Saint Ours, P., 1982, Potential volcanic hazards at Manam Island: Geological Survey of Papua New Guinea Report 82/22, 19 p.

Scott, B.J., and McKee, C.O., 1986, Deformation, eruptive activity, and earth tidal influences at Manam volcano, Papua New Guinea, 1957-1982: Royal Society of New Zealand Bulletin 24, p. 155-171.

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


Miyakejima (Japan) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Miyakejima

Japan

34.094°N, 139.526°E; summit elev. 775 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruptive activity decreases; high SO2 flux through April 2002

The following report covers activity at Miyake-jima after February 2001 and through April 2002, but a brief review of previous activity is included. Volcanism renewed at Miyake-jima on 27 June 2000 with a series of underwater eruptions (BGVN 25:05-25:07). Activity through October 2000 was characterized by intrusive events, collapse of the summit crater, explosive events, and degassing. SO2 emissions were high and low levels of ash were intermittently emitted (BGVN 25:09). During October 2000 through mid-February 2001 high volumes of volcanic gas emission continued (BGVN 26:02).

After a large eruption on 18 August 2000, large amounts of volcanic gas, especially SO2, started to discharge. SO2 flux monitoring by COSPEC V has been conducted since 26 August 2000. Monitoring is performed almost daily by the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) and Geological Survey of Japan (GSJ). Figure 14 shows the daily average of SO2 flux during August 2000 through April 2002. The mean flux during September-December 2000 was ~40,000 metric tons per day (t/d). During 2000, the average SO2 flux was 40,000 t/d, and it decreased to 21,000 t/d during 2001. As of March 2002 the average SO2 flux was 10,000-20,000 t/d. During the 26 September 2001 explosion the amount of SO2 degassing was ~15,000 t/d.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Daily averages of SO2 flux at Miyake-jima during August 2000 through April 2002. Courtesy JMA, GSJ, and KSVO.

In November 2001 the GSJ reported that the strong eruptions of July-August 2000, initially thought to be solely phreatic, had been phreatomagmatic. For instance, tephra from the 18 August 2000 eruption was ~30-40% juvenile in nature. Following the 29 August 2000 eruption, activity was much weaker. A summit pit crater or caldera, formed as a result of "drain back" as magma was intruded elsewhere, stabilized in August 2000 with a diameter of 1.4 km.

On 16 March 2001 the JMA reported that the strongest tremor since 29 August 2000 had occurred. Three days later, on 19 March, an eruption produced a black ash cloud that rose 800 m above the volcano.

In mid-May 2001, based on information from the JMA, the Volcanic Research Center reported that no ash clouds had been observed since 19 March. They also reported that steam plumes with abundant SO2 were continuously emitted from the summit caldera to 0.5-2 km above the caldera rim. Continuous SO2 emission released as much as 33,000 to 46,000 metric tons of SO2 per day (figure 14). Low-level seismic activity continued; on 5 May 2001 a total of 446 small low-frequency earthquakes were registered, and on 7 May an M 2.8 earthquake occurred. Global positioning system (GPS) measurements showed steady, continuous deflation of the volcano, though the rate was lower than before September 2000. Very small collapses of the caldera rims were occasionally seen during air inspections.

About 20 small eruptions were recorded by the JMA during 2001 through the end of March 2002. Major eruptions were reported on 27 May, 26-27 September, and 16 October 2001. The eruptions produced ash plumes up to 1,500 m high.

On 25 January 2002 at 1015 Air Force Weather Agency staff detected a faint E-drifting volcanic plume emanating from Miyake-jima on MODIS imagery (figure 15).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. MODIS imagery on 25 January 2002 at 1015 shows a plume drifting E from Miyake-jima. Courtesy AFWA and NASA.

The GSJ reported that as of 1 April 2002, eruptions were continuing and significant quantities of SO2 (10,000-20,000 t/d) discharged from the summit pit crater (figure 14). According to a news report, a minor eruption occurred at Miyake-jima on 2 April shortly after 1000. While evacuated residents were visiting the island, ash rose to ~300 m above the volcano and fell around Miyake-jima. The island is currently uninhabited because activity that began on 26-27 June 2000 prompted officials to order an evacuation on 1 September 2000.

Geologic Background. The circular, 8-km-wide island of Miyakejima forms a low-angle stratovolcano that rises about 1100 m from the sea floor in the northern Izu Islands about 200 km SSW of Tokyo. The basaltic volcano is truncated by small summit calderas, one of which, 3.5 km wide, was formed during a major eruption about 2500 years ago. Parasitic craters and vents, including maars near the coast and radially oriented fissure vents, dot the flanks of the volcano. Frequent historical eruptions have occurred since 1085 CE at vents ranging from the summit to below sea level, causing much damage on this small populated island. After a three-century-long hiatus ending in 1469, activity has been dominated by flank fissure eruptions sometimes accompanied by minor summit eruptions. A 1.6-km-wide summit caldera was slowly formed by subsidence during an eruption in 2000; by October of that year the crater floor had dropped to only 230 m above sea level.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Volcanological Division, 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/); Setsuya Nakada and Hidefumi Watanabe, Volcano Research Center, Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan (URL: http://www.eri.u-tokyo.ac.jp/VRC/index_E.html); Akihiko Tomiya, Geological Survey of Japan (GSJ), National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba Central 7, Tsukuba 305-8567, Japan (URL: http://staff.aist.go.jp/a.tomiya/miyakeE.html); Charles Holliday, Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA),106 Peacekeeper Dr., Ste 2NE; Offutt AFB, NE 68113-4039 USA; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Washington, DC 20456-0001, USA (URL: https://www.nasa.gov/); Kusatsu-Shirane Volcano Observatory (KSVO), Tokyo Institute of Technology, Kusatsu, Agatsuma-gun, Gunma 377-17, Japan; Dow Jones News.


Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Report of field work; MODIS imagery from January 2002 eruption

During 17-18 January 2002 Nyiragongo, located ~18 km N of Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) close to the border of Rwanda, erupted an estimated 20 x 106 m3 volume of lava (BGVN 26:12). Lava flows originated from the central crater and from several locations along a huge system of fractures that rapidly developed along the entire S flank of the volcano down to the city of Goma (~400,000 people) on the N shore of Lake Kivu. Goma was then invaded by extensive lava flows, which destroyed at least 13% of the surface of the city before reaching the lake. The advancing lava flows caused the spontaneous evacuation of at least 300,000 people, mostly toward the neighboring town of Gisenyi in Rwanda, and left more than 40,000 people homeless. About 100 people died as a consequence (direct or indirect) of the eruption. This disaster required an urgent public health response to evaluate the hazards to life and health. The assessment was especially important because of the humanitarian crisis in the eastern DRC that led many of the people who had fled from the lava flows to return to the city within one or two days, despite the danger of further eruptive activity or the possible risks arising from the proximity of the cooling lava flows (Baxter, 2002).

The following report, with the exception of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery, was compiled from field visits carried out by the volcanologists representing the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (UN-OCHA): Dario Tedesco, Paolo Papale, Orlando Vaselli, and Jacques Durieux. The team flew over the volcano and Goma in a helicopter on 22 and 24 January, and made field observations during 23 January-4 February. One team member continued studies on Lake Kivu until 13 February. The report provides an initial reconstruction of the main events of the eruption based on reports from local witnesses, observations and reports by researchers at the Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO), a closer inspection of seismograms recorded by GVO seismic stations, and field work by the UN-OCHA team. The UN-OCHA team worked closely with a French-British team of scientists (Patrick Allard, Peter Baxter, Michel Halbwachs, and Jean-Christophe Komorowski), whose report (Allard and others, 2002) will be summarized in a future Bulletin.

Activity during December 2000-January 2002. Since December 2000 the two GVO seismic stations had recorded long-period (LP) earthquake swarms. Commonly, each LP event was shortly followed by volcanic tremor.

On 6 February 2001 Nyamuragira erupted (BGVN 26:01). Following the 2-week eruption, seismicity did not decrease. On the contrary, volcanic tremor and LP earthquakes reappeared at both stations (Bulengo, BSS, S of Nyiragongo and Katale, KSS, NE of Nyiragongo, ~40 km from Bulengo), without showing any particular pattern, from March 2001 through January 2002. During the 10 months that preceded the January 2002 eruption, it was impossible to distinguish which volcano was the source of the seismicity.

In addition to the increased seismic activity, on 5 October strong vibrations were felt and on 7 October a strong tectonic earthquake (M 3.5-4.0), unusual for this region, was felt by the population. This earthquake was followed a few hours later by high-amplitude volcanic tremor.

Field trips by GVO personnel to the summit of Nyiragongo during 29 October-1 November and 8-10 December 2001 revealed several important changes. Immediately after the October tectonic event a white plume was visible inside the 1977 eruptive fracture on top of and inside the Shaheru crater (2 km S of the summit crater) at 2,700 m elevation. A similar plume was emerging from new cracks in the inner wall of the central crater, while a dark plume was visible from the small 1995 spatter cone inside the volcano. The new fumaroles on the side of the small central crater had a temperature of 70°C; the ground temperature, which was normally at 5-9°C, was recorded as 28°C; cracks near Shaheru crater were at ~50°C.

An increase in seismicity similar to that observed during early October occurred beginning on 4 January 2002, when an M > 4 earthquake occurred. On 7 January seismic activity triggered some visible changes, including reactivation of fumarolic activity. Following the 4 January earthquake seismicity remained high until 16 January. The onset of the eruption was preceded by about 8 hours of calm consisting of very low seismicity (without tremor or LP earthquakes).

Eruption during 17-18 January 2002. Early on 17 January a huge system of fractures began to develop on the S flank and eventually extended from high elevations down to Goma and Lake Kivu. The main trend of fractures was N15°W, which is similar to the general trend of the rift valley in the Nyiragongo region. The system of fractures appears to have propagated down from the volcano, starting at 2,800-3,000 m elevation (300-400 m N of the old Shaheru crater), and covering a distance of ~10 km towards Goma in less than 8 hours. The uppermost portion of the fracture started erupting at 0835 on 17 January. A single fracture ~2 m wide was visible above and inside Shaheru. Reactivated during the January event, it corresponded to the eruptive fracture of January 1977. Below the Shaheru crater the fracture was replaced by a more complex system, with two parallel main fractures ~300 m apart, also propagating N15°W. At about 1000 the system of fractures had reached ~1,900 m elevation; they then took ~30 minutes to cross the last system of ancient cones N of Goma, at ~1,700 m. By about 1400 the fractures were in the proximity of the Munigi village on the outskirts of Goma.

As the fractures advanced, several started erupting. Beginning around 1000 and lasting for at least two hours, lava flows escaped at ~1,950-2,000 m elevation S of the ancient Kanyambuzi-Mudjoga tuff cones. Fractures on the gentle slopes N of Goma lacked venting lava along a portion a few kilometers in length, but, at several locations the tips of intruded dykes ascended within only a few ten's of centimeters to a few meters below the ground surface.

At 1610 on 17 January the southernmost system of vents opened S of Munigi village and on the outskirts of Goma at 1,570-1,580 m elevation. Lava flows from these vents affected the Goma airport and destroyed part of the city before reaching the lake. About 10-20 minutes later a new N15°W-oriented fracture began to erupt at 1,950-2,000 m elevation, located ~1.5 km W of the main fracture system. Lava flows from this fracture partially destroyed the western part of Goma without reaching the lake.

Around the same time a fracture a few hundred meters long opened on the NW flank of the cone, at ~2,700-3,000 m elevation as estimated by helicopter, producing a lava flow that did not affect inhabited areas. Unlike the southern fracture system, this fracture had an estimated N30°E to N60°E trend. The eruptive activity at several places along the fracture system on the S flank reportedly lasted through part of the night or even up to daylight on 18 January.

MODIS images on 18, 21, and 27 January showed a hot spot in the vicinity of the volcano (figure 13). The 18 January image showed a single, large hot spot (3-4 pixels wide and ~11 pixels long on the S flank of Nyiragongo. The elongate hot spot had a NNE-SSW orientation. Its proximal section was located about mid-way up the S flank of the volcano (in the vicinity of the Shaheru-Djoga cinder cones and 1977 S-flank fissure) and the distal section was directly over Goma. The hot spot decreased over the following days, and by 27 January was barely visible.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite images on 18, 21, and 27 January showing a hot spot near Nyiragongo during the eruption. The 18 January image shows a single, large hot spot (3-4 pixels wide and ~ 11 pixels long) on the S flank. The hot spot decreased over the following days, and by 27 January was barely visible. Courtesy HIGP/SOEST.

Activity following the eruption. During the night of 21 January some earthquake swarms created panic in the population. During about 0600-1800 on 22 January no earthquakes were felt. However, at about 1800 a sequence began during which ~20 earthquakes were felt in less than 3 hours. The following days were characterized by periods of intense seismicity, alternating with intervals (~10-15 hours) of lower seismic activity.

Seismic events showed quite a range of magnitude, frequency content, and S-P times, suggesting several different origins. The earthquakes that occurred in the days following the eruption were ~M > 5. During the 5 days following the eruption ~100 tectonic earthquakes (M > 3.5) occurred with epicenters in the Goma-Nyiragongo region. Several houses collapsed or were seriously damaged due to seismic loading in Gisenyi, where nine people died as a direct result of roof collapse. Seismic signals showed a typical sequence of tectonic events, followed within minutes to hours by LP events and volcanic tremor lasting continuously for more than 10 hours. Such a sequence, which is identical to the typical sequence recorded during the year preceding the eruption, suggested rock fracturing followed by the intrusion and ascent of magma.

An estimate of the location of seismic events made by comparing the arrival time differences of P- and S-waves at the three seismic stations of Bulengo, Katale, and Goma (the last one provided by the French-British team) showed that on 27 and 28 January the shocks were concentrated in the area between the Nyiragongo crater and Goma, probably 4-6 km N of Lake Kivu. During the first days of February the epicenters of earthquakes were clustered in two areas. The first was along the system of fractures, stretching a few kilometers N and S of Goma (in part, beneath Lake Kivu). The second cluster lay S of the town of Sake, 15-20 km W of Goma, close to the W border of the rift.

Observations during a helicopter flight over the volcano on 21 January revealed that the crater floor (old surface of the 1994-95 lava lake) was cut by a N-S elongated depression (like a small graben) underlain by steaming cracks. The next day witnesses from villages 6 km SW and ~10 km N of the summit crater reported that at about 2100 an earthquake was felt and immediately followed by a red glow or "flames" above the crater. Later that evening fine ash fell along the road from Goma to Sake. On the morning of 23 January ash fell in Goma and at the airport. A helicopter survey revealed a layer of ash on the volcano's upper S and E flanks and devastated vegetation on the crater's N flank.

On 24 January the inside of the crater appeared as a huge cavity with an estimated depth of 800 m and a grayish-yellow colored floor. The old terraces that represented the remnants of the lava lake at different stages of its long history were nearly totally absent. The interpretation is that either the emptying of the lava lake, the fracturing of the system, or more likely both, destabilized the inner part of the crater. Seismic records showed higher-amplitude tremor, presumably related to the crater-floor collapses, starting on 22 January at 2051 and lasting for ~4 hours. During the same flight on 24 January an explosion or a new collapse at the crater produced a small cloud of steam and ash that reached a few hundred meters above the crater rim.

Gas blasts sporadically occurred, mainly after the eruption, ~100-200 m away from the main path of the lava flow in Goma causing displacement of pavement in small buildings. In a small garage in Goma a thick (~10 cm) concrete pavement was cracked and uplifted up to 50-70 cm by the gas blasts.

Observations and research at Lake Kivu. Interesting phenomena were noted on the shore of Lake Kivu in the area of Himbi. Women who used to wash clothes close to the lake observed that the water level had decreased a few centimeters 3-5 days before the eruption. During the night and early morning of 17-18 January waiters at a restaurant observed crabs and crayfish jumping out of the lake. During 20-21 January dead fish and bubbling spots were observed in the small bay close to the restaurant. Waiters stated that the temperature of the lake in those zones had increased and a brown-black stain appeared from the bottom of the lake in an area of several square meters. At the same time an odor of spoiled eggs (suggesting presence of H2S) was present. A similar phenomenon occurred early in the morning (at about 0230) on 30 January after an M 4.5 earthquake. The owners of the restaurant suddenly awoke due to difficulty breathing and the strong smell of rotten eggs. In both cases, the "normal" conditions were reestablished in a "short" (not well-defined) time. Soil-gas measurements indicated that CO2 concentrations reached values up to 20%.

A geochemical survey of the main fluid manifestations in and around the S part of Nyiragongo was carried out during the days after the 17 January eruption. Sampling included water from Lake Kivu, cold and thermal springs, dry vents, and soil gases. The main conclusions of this survey were: 1) contrary to rumors following the entry of lava flows into the lake, lake water only a few meters away from the lava front was not polluted; 2) the geochemical characteristics of water from the lake and from springs on land are close to those found previously by Tietze and others (1980) and Tuttle and others (1990); and 3) the analyzed gases appear to have a clear magmatic origin as revealed by their isotopic signature. An exception to the final conclusion is that gases from the Rambo sampling point, which sits next to a brewery in Gisenyi, appear to represent mixtures between biogenic (organic) and magmatic sources.

Immediately following the eruption, fishermen reported visible changes in the water level at Lake Kivu. This was confirmed by women who visited the lake shore daily for washing or collecting water. A series of measurements was started in close cooperation with the UN field officer Dominic Garcin, who has a vast knowledge of the lake. The first measurements were obtained on 28 January along the shoreline from Gisenyi to Sake. The results confirmed a significant subsidence of the ground and rise of the water level. The subsidence was highest (37 cm) in Goma, then progressively vanished towards the E (~10 cm in Gisenyi but 0 cm ~2 km farther E) and W (0 cm ~15 km W of Goma). After these first measurements, several others were systematically taken along the N shoreline of Lake Kivu as well as around the lake up to ten's of kilometers S of Goma, and at Idjwi Island, ~30 km S of Goma. The measurements showed that ground subsidence is an ongoing phenomenon in the entire rift area near Lake Kivu. One month after the eruption, maximum measured ground subsidence was 50-60 cm at the Goma harbor and at Idjwi Island (figure 14). Scientists note that the February-March westward shifting of the ground subsidence corresponds to a similar westward shifting of epicenters.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Plots showing cumulative, asymmetrical land subsidence in the Goma area across the far S flanks of Nyiragongo. The subsidence was measured with respect to pre-subsidence surface of Lake Kivu, and surveyed along an E-W transect. The four survey dates (all in early 2002) each established the greatest subsidence at Goma, and lesser subsidence towards the East African rift's margins. Courtesy UN-OCHA team.

Conclusions. The characteristics of the erupted products and associated lava flows, together with the available information on the state of the volcano prior the eruption, suggest different dynamics of magma emission in the upper and lower portions of the fracture system. Two different interpretations have been offered. The "magmatic" hypothesis is that the energy for intense fracturing of the volcanic apparatus came from deep magma pushing from below inside the volcanic system. The "tectonic" hypothesis is that the energy for fracturing came from a non-volcanic source and was due to a rifting event related to regional tectonics. Further discussion of both hypotheses is offered in the report by the UN-OCHA team (Tedesco and others, 2002).

Goma is considered at a very high risk should reactivation of the volcano and rift system occur. The security of its inhabitants cannot be guaranteed even with the most sophisticated instrumental network. Thousands of lives can be saved by increased surveillance, continued scientific investigation, contingency plans, and information campaigns.

An outstanding effort by the UN and several donors allowed for the development of short and long-term aid to the Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO). This effort included support for foreign volcanologists, purchase of new equipment, establishing a new monitoring network, and help with logistics (transportation, communications, salaries, etc.). GVO is now publishing weekly reports on volcano activities.

References. Allard, P., Baxter, P., Halbwachs, M., and Komorowski, J-C, 2002, Final report of the French-British scientific team: submitted to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Paris, France, Foreign Office, London, United Kingdom and respective Embassies in Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Rwanda, 24 p.

Baxter, P.J., 2002, Eruption at Nyiragongo volcano, Democratic Republic of Congo, 17-18 January 2002: a report on a field visit to assess the initial hazards of the eruption, 15 p.

Tedesco, D., Papale, P., Vaselli, O., and Durieux, J., 2002, The January 17th, 2002 eruption of Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of Congo: UN-OCHA report, 17 p.

Tietze, K., Geyh, M., Muller, H., Schroder, L. Stahl, W., and Wehner, H., 1980, Geol. Rund., v. 69, p. 452-472.

Tuttle, M.L., Lockwood, J.P., and Evans, W.C., 1990, Natural hazards associated with Lake Kivu in Rwanda and Zaire, central Africa: U.S. Geological Survey, Open File Report 90-691, 47 p.

General Reference. Tazieff, H., 1979, Nyiragongo, the forbidden volcano, translated by J. F. Bernard: Barron's, New York, 287 p. Originally published as Nyiragongo: Flammarion, Paris, 1975.

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

Information Contacts: Dario Tedesco, Dipartimento Scienze Ambientali, Seconda Universita' di Napoli, Via Vivaldi 43, 81100 Caserta, Italy; Paolo Papale, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, via S. Maria, 53, I-56126 Pisa, Italy; Orlando Vaselli, Dipartimento Scienze della Terra, via G. La Pira, 4, 50121 Firenze, Italy; Jacques Durieux, Groupe d'Etude des Volcans Actifs, 6, Rue des Razes 69320 Feyzin, France; Dieudonné Wafula, Goma Volcano Observatory, Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DRC; Andy Harris, Eric Pilger and Luke Flynn, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology at the School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology (HIGP/SOEST), University of Hawaii, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA; Peter Baxter, Department of Community Medicine, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, University Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge, CB2 2SR, United Kingdom.


Pacaya (Guatemala) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

14.382°N, 90.601°W; summit elev. 2569 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Costly 1999 aircraft-ash encounters due to ash plumes

At least two commercial aircraft flew through airborne ash near the Guatemala City airport on 21 May 1999. An eruption from Fuego that day was the first at that volcano since 1987 (BGVN 24:04). Although the aviator's reports attributed the ash from this encounter to Fuego, their aircraft intersected multiple ash plumes in widely different locations, and thus they may also have crossed plumes from Pacaya. The most likely plume near the southern approach to the airport (La Aurora, ~23 km N of Pacaya; ~40 km NE of Fuego) is from the almost constantly active Pacaya. In contrast, Fuego lies 32 km W of Pacaya and was the likely source of a plume intersected later during the flight, at higher altitude, and for much longer duration.

During the encounters the ~100 or more people on board the two aircraft, and many more on the ground, were at risk. Both encounters seriously damaged the aircraft but ended in safe landings without reported injuries. Volcanic ash can cause jet-engine failure, which creates a hazard not only to passengers, but to people on the ground as well. The risk in this situation was amplified by the airport's proximity to urban Guatemala City (population, >1.1 million).

This example leads to two conclusions discussed further below. First, ash avoidance methodology needs further refinement. Second, there exists an apparent bias towards under-reporting of aircraft-ash encounters, which could short-change their cost to air carriers, their perceived risk, and their funding allocation.

The original report of an aircraft-ash encounter was brought to our attention by Captain Edward Miller of the Air Line Pilots Association and provided on the condition that the air carrier remain anonymous. Bulletin editors also wish to acknowledge conversations with several additional anonymous contacts (commercial pilots). This case occurred in Guatemala; however, analogous situations exist at many airports adjacent to volcanoes. Modest eruptions from nearby volcanoes may be uncertain or difficult to see; they may be hard to detect or characterize; yet they still may yield mobile ash plumes carried by complex local winds to confront air traffic (Salinas, 2001; Hefter, 1998; Casadevall, 1994).

Although in most Bulletin reports we favor the use of local time to emphasize the reference frame of people on the scene, most of the source material (satellite and aviation) for this report refer to UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). UTC is the time on the Greenwich meridian (longitude zero), formerly GMT, a term which has fallen out of use. Accordingly, there are cases in this report that lack conversion to local time. Local time in Guatemala is 6 hours behind UTC.

Activity at Fuego and Pacaya. Fuego erupted on 21 May 1999 sending ash to the S, SE, and SW and ultimately dropping up to 40 cm of ash on local settlements (BGVN 24:04). The eruption occurred at 1800 local time (in terms of UTC, at 0000 the next day). Three hours later the eruption decreased and the Aeronautica Civil recommended that planes go no closer to Fuego than 40 km. One hour after that (at 2200 local, 0400 UTC), the atmospheric ash had settled, and Aeronautica Civil recommended flying no closer to Fuego than 15 km.

Bulletin reports for Pacaya in mid-1999 suggested relative calm, in harmony with the observation that it had chiefly been fuming. However, Pacaya is well-known for Strombolian outbursts. It lies directly in-line and only 23 km S of the N10°E-oriented airstrip. As is common for commercial aircraft there, the approaches described below passed very close to Pacaya. Pacaya typically has lower and smaller eruptions than Fuego, but because it lies so close to the southern approach to the airport, Pacaya's ash plumes easily enter the path of landing aircraft. The situation was particularly complex during this eruption because Fuego's ash was reported on cities that lie below the flight path as well as on the Pacaya's flanks.

Pilot's report of aircraft-ash encounter. What follows was taken from one flight crew's description of events and from later reports and dialog on the topic. In order to preserve the confidentiality of the airlines, the precise times of events on 21 May 1999 have been omitted. Pilots reported clear visibility and light wind, with both the capital and the airport in sight. They maneuvered the aircraft for a final approach from the S. Pilots were advised by air traffic control about erupted particulate ("volcanic sand") about 24 km (15 miles) SE of the airport, well away from their projected path to Runway 01. In addition, based on winds they detected as they neared the airport, the pilots concluded that the erupted particulate to the SE was downwind from their projected flight path to the airport. (In retrospect, this conclusion appears tenuous considering the possibility of either a fresh injection of ash from Fuego, or lingering ash in the trailing portion of the plume that lay to the SE.)

At ~32 km (20 miles) distance from the runway, the pilots maneuvered the plane through ~3,000 m (9,700 feet) altitude on a final approach to the airport with the plane's flaps partially extended (at ~15°, which slowed their aircraft to ~260 km/hour (160 mph), its auxiliary power unit (a small jet engine) on, and its landing gear down. Around this point in their descent, pilots saw bright yellow sparks through the windshield lasting a few seconds, a display unlike static electricity, but rather like that from a grinding wheel. This occurred again at 2,500 m (8,200 feet) altitude, but was more intense yet intermittent.

At this time, air-traffic control announced to the pilots that the aircraft landing in front of them had encountered volcanic particulate; they instructed the pilots to abort their landing and climb to 3,350 m (11,000 feet) altitude. Discussions of options and ash avoidance ensued between pilots and air-traffic control; ash had by this time accumulated on the runway, further complicating landing, even for approaches in the opposite direction. The pilots retracted the landing gear, accelerated to ~410 km/hour (~250 mph), began to climb, and after some discussion with air-traffic control, held on a course NE of the airport. They were subsequently cleared to climb to 6,700 m (22,000 feet) altitude and advised to proceed to an alternate airfield.

During the climb, at ~5,800 m (19,000 feet) altitude en-route to the alternate airport, the aircraft encountered volcanic particulate for 10 minutes. Within that interval the plane spent 2 minutes during ascent engulfed in denser and heavier particulate. During that period, window arcing was constant and the beam of their landing lights revealed a conspicuous cloud of reflecting particles. During ash ingestion the engines's speed lacked noticeable fluctuations. The aircraft exited the plume at about 6,100 m (20,000 feet) altitude and landed without encountering additional ash.

Upon landing, the pilots noticed reduced visibility through abraded windshields. Post-flight examination of the airplane revealed heavy damage, requiring the replacement of the engines (US $2 million each) and auxiliary-power-unit engine. (Note, however, that no deterioration in engine power or performance was noticed during the flight.) Other replaced parts included windshields, a heat exchanger, and coalescer bags. Minor damage was seen on the horizontal stabilizer and wing leading-edges.

Volcanic Ash Advisory Statements. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Satellite Services Division website contains two archived statements issued by the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) at Washington, D.C. for Fuego on 21-22 May 1999. The statements, issued to the aviation cummunity to warn of volcanic hazards, are intended for an audience accustomed to special terminology (figures 31 and 32). In the interest of advancing understanding of how volcanological and atmospheric data get transmitted to aviators, we offer brief explanations for many of the terms used (figure 31).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. The first archived Volcanic Ash Advisory Statement (VAAS) for the 21 May 1999 eruption at Fuego, Guatemala. The boxes contain added notes to explain some of the basic conventions and specific details seen here. This Statement currently appears on the NOAA Satellite Services Division website (see "Information Contacts," below). Local names are frequently anglicized, dropping all accents and other non-English characters (eg. México would be written MEXICO). Later Advisories adopted the abbreviation "Z" (pronounced 'Zulu' by aviators) for UTC, as in 1300 UTC written as 1300Z.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. A later Volcanic Ash Advisory Statement (VAAS) for the 21 May 1999 eruption at Fuego, Guatemala. The statement, which was issued the next day, discloses that the eruption had then stopped and the hazard status was lowered. The statement appears on the NOAA Satellite Services Division website (see "Information Contacts," below).

The Washington VAAC received first notification of the Fuego eruption from a routine surface weather observation from Guatemala City at 2000 local time (0200 UTC) on 22 May. They issued the first Volcanic Ash Advisory Statement a half-hour later (figure 31). Six hours later they issued the second Advisory Statement (figure 32). The Advisories were composed by staff of the Satellite Analysis Branch, one of the two NOAA components forming the Washington VAAC (Streett, 1999; Washington VAAC).

The section "Details of ash cloud" first says that the "surface observation from Guatemala City indicate that the Fuego volcano is in eruption" and that no additional information is available and then briefly describes in words observations that came from satellite imagery. The first sentence, "No eruption . . ." is self-explanatory, but highlights a limitation of the method in use that needs to be emphasized to aviators: an eruption may have occurred but its status is not revealed on the imagery. The sentence, "No eruption could be detected due to thunderstorm cloudiness covering the area around the volcano" is self-explanatory. Less clear is the term convective debris. It does not refer to ash; rather, it refers to remnants of thunderstorms. The gist of these latter two sentences is simply that the thunderstorms that covered the area made it challenging or impossible to see the ash on satellite imagery. Central American thunderstorm clouds typically can reach altitudes of more than 12,000 m (40,000 feet), and can mask or obscure airborne ash residing below that level.

Members of the Washington VAAC commented that this eruption demonstrates key problems that can arise when cloudy conditions prevent satellite detection of ash, foiling a primary mode of analysis. In such cases, they rely on ground observers (including observatories and weather observers), pilot reports, and reports from airlines. Thus, their ability to issue useful information in cloudy conditions depends on the quality of communications with local observers, the Meteorological Watch Office, volcanologists, geophysical observatories, and the aviation community.

The Advisory Statement listed México City weather balloon data acquired 1,050 km NW of Guatemala City. In retrospect, the Washington VAAC noted that they generally avoid using such distant sounding data. If a closer sounding cannot be found, they prefer to use upper-level wind forecasts taken from a numerical weather model. In any case, the scarcity of local sounding data presents a challenge to the realistic analysis of airborne ash.

The outlook section says to "see SIGMETS." SIGMETS are the true warnings to aircraft for SIGnificant METeorological events. They are issued by regional Meteorological Watch Offices (MWOs), in this case the MWO (for Guatemala) is in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. SIGMETS were lacking for this eruption; although the Washington VAAC tried to contact the MWO without response. Another complexity confronted at the VAAC is a lack of a single scale for communicating a volcano's hazard status.

Reporting of aviation ash encounters. In personal communications with Bulletin editors, airline personnel stated that many more encounters have occurred than have yet been tallied in publically accessible literature. In accord with those assertions, the 21 May 1999 encounters are absent from reports compiled by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, 2001). In that document (Appendix I, table 3A, p. I-12) Fuego fails to appear as a source vent for any aircraft-ash encounter. Pacaya is listed for two encounters, in January 1987 and in May 1998 (BGVN 23:05).

Even though the number of encounters was probably under-represented and thus reflects a minimum, ICAO (2001) notes that the international costs to aviation since 1982 summed to well in excess of $250 million. They noted, "In addition to its potential to cause a major aircraft accident, the economic cost of volcanic ash to international civil aviation is staggering. This involves numerous complete engine changes, engine overhauls, airframe refurbishing . . . aircraft downtime . . . [and] volcanic ash clearance from airports and the damage caused to equipment and buildings on the ground."

The incidents here suggest that there has been a strong bias toward under-reporting aircraft-ash encounters. If this tentative conclusion is correct, it implies consistent understatements of the hazard's magnitude. This, in turn, may have thwarted meaningful analysis of how and whether to proceed with designing more robust hazard-reduction systems. Accordingly, resources that could have been devoted to the problem have not yet been committed (see Gimmestad and others, 2001 for a discussion of a prototype on-board ash-detection instrument).

Communication challenges. While much of the aviation community needs to learn about volcanism rapidly, dependably, and with the aid of the Internet, some observers charged with reporting volcanic-ash hazards in Central and South America lack access to basic communication devices like reliable telephones and fax machines. To reduce the risks, the aviation, meteorological, remote sensing, and volcanological communities need to improve their ability to pass critical information to each other rapidly and precisely. The operational systems related to volcanic ash and aviation must transcend numerous boundaries (eg., languages, infrastructure, funding, governments, agencies, air carriers, pilots, aircraft manufactures, etc.). The systems need to portray complex, dynamic processes such as the rapid rise of an explosive plume, or large-scale ash-cloud movement.

Although the infrastructure for ash avoidance is greater than ever, members of the Washington VAAC have told Bulletin editors that they still depend heavily on people on the scene of the eruption to notify them promptly when eruptions occur. They said that thus far in parts of Central and South America a problem has been the expense of communication (eg., by phone, fax, and Internet). They also said that for the same regions the U.S. meteorological database regularly lacks pilot reports. Though serious, these problems have at least been identified and their solutions would appear to lack great technical or economic barriers.

The pilots involved in the May 1999 encounter recommended that far more emphasis be placed on forecasting and avoiding ash plumes. Other pilots cited the need for fast and accurate communications between those who observe eruptive activity and air traffic control personnel.

Issues like these continue to be an important subject at gatherings on the topic of ash hazards in aviation (Casadevall, 1994; Streett, D., 1999; Washington VAAC, 1999). The Airline Dispatcher's Federation (ADF) will participate in a 7-9 May 2002 conference and workshop: "Operational Implications of Airborne Volcanic Ash: Detection, Avoidance, and Mitigation." The gathering will provide the pilot and dispatcher with insights into volcanic ash, including its characteristics, affects on aircraft, detection/tracking, effective warning systems, and mitigation. A "hands-on" exercise will make this the first gathering of its kind to provide lab-style instruction on interpretation of satellite and wind data, and on models of ash trajectory and dispersion. Representatives from the Boeing company, and a host of US government agencies and non-governmental organizations will attend. The workshop will include lectures, demonstrations, laboratory exercises, and a simulated-eruption exercise involving volcanologists, forecasters, controllers, dispatchers, and pilots.

A second international symposium on ash and aviation safety is being planned by the U.S. Geological Survey, organized by Marianne Guffanti. It will be held in Washington, D.C. in September 2003.

References. Casadevall, T.J. (ed.), 1994, Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Volcanic Ash and Aviation Safety: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2047, 450 p.

Gimmestad, G.G., Papanicolopoulos, C.D., Richards, M.A., Sherman, D.L., and West, L.L., 2001, Feasibility study of radiometry for airborne detection of aviation hazards, NASA/CR-2001-210855; Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, Georgia, 51 p. (URL: http://techreports.larc.nasa.gov/ltrs/PDF/2001/cr/).

Hefter, J.L., 1998, Verifying a volcanic ash forecasting model, Airline Pilot, v. 67, no. 5, pp. 20-23, 54.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), 2001, Manual on volcanic ash, radioactive material, and toxic chemical clouds, doc 9691-AN/954 (first edition): 999 University St., Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3C 5H7 (purchasing information: sales_unit@icao.int).

Rose, W.I., Bluth, J.S.G., Schneider, D.L., Ernst, G.G.J., Riley, C.M., Henderson, L.J., and McGimsey, R.G., 2001, Observations of volcanic clouds in the first few days of atmospheric residence: The 1992 eruptions of Crater Peak, Mount Spurr volcano, Alaska, Jour. of Geology, v. 109, p. 677-694.

Salinas, Leonard J., 2001, Volcanic ash clouds pose a real threat to aircraft safety: United Airlines, Chicago, Illinois (URL: http://www.dispatcher.org/library/VolcanicAsh.htm).

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.

Streett, D., 1999, Satellite-based Volcanic Ash Advisories and an Ash Trajectory Model from the Washington VAAC: Eighth Conference on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology, 10-15 January 1999, Dallas, Texas; American Meteorological Society, p. 290-294.

Washington VAAC, 1999, Operations of the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, in Aeronautical meteorological offices and their functions, and meteorological observation networks: Third Caribbean/South American Regional Air Navigation Meeting (Car/sam/ran/3); Buenos Aires, Argentina, 5 - 15 October, 1999; International Civil Aviation Organization (http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/ VAAC/PAPERS/carsam.html).

Geologic Background. Eruptions from Pacaya, one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes, are frequently visible from Guatemala City, the nation's capital. This complex basaltic volcano was constructed just outside the southern topographic rim of the 14 x 16 km Pleistocene Amatitlán caldera. A cluster of dacitic lava domes occupies the southern caldera floor. The post-caldera Pacaya massif includes the ancestral Pacaya Viejo and Cerro Grande stratovolcanoes and the currently active Mackenney stratovolcano. Collapse of Pacaya Viejo between 600 and 1500 years ago produced a debris-avalanche deposit that extends 25 km onto the Pacific coastal plain and left an arcuate somma rim inside which the modern Pacaya volcano (Mackenney cone) grew. A subsidiary crater, Cerro Chino, was constructed on the NW somma rim and was last active in the 19th century. During the past several decades, activity has consisted of frequent strombolian eruptions with intermittent lava flow extrusion that has partially filled in the caldera moat and armored the flanks of Mackenney cone, punctuated by occasional larger explosive eruptions that partially destroy the summit of the growing young stratovolcano.

Information Contacts: Captain Edward Miller, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Air Safety & Engineering Department, 535 Herndon Parkway, PO Box 1169, Herndon, VA 22070-1169, USA; Grace Swanson and Davida Streett, Washington VAAC, Satellite Analysis Branch (NOAA/NESDIS), 4700 Silver Hill Road, Stop 9910, Washington, DC 20233-9910, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/); Bill Rose, Geological Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — March 2002 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)


M 5.6 earthquakes during March 2002 not related to volcanism

After explosions at Tavurvur during June and August 2001, activity decreased through October. During February-March 2002, the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory (RVO) reported that volcanic and seismic activity remained low, with some low-frequency earthquakes recorded. The active vent emitted weak-to-moderate amounts of white vapor. Ground deformation measurements showed no significant changes.

During mid-February, moderate-to-strong gas emissions drifted to the SE and E and damaged vegetation on the adjacent cone South Daughter, suggesting the presence of volcanic gases like sulphur dioxide within the emissions. The last ash-producing activity from Tavurvur occurred in early September 2001. RVO reported that the chance of mild ash activity occurring in the near future is very remote.

A few tectonic earthquakes were felt during mid-February. They were located 35-80 km NW and SW from the Rabaul-Kokopo area. An M 5.6 tectonic earthquake was felt at 0650 on 17 March. The earthquake was located offshore in the Pomio area. On 21 March, some high-frequency earthquakes occurred NE of Rabaul. Since 1995, these high-frequency earthquakes have been associated with eruptive activity at Tavurvur. During mid-March, some earthquakes were felt, unrelated to volcanic activity, that had magnitudes of 5.3-5.6.

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


Sheveluch (Russia) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Sheveluch

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Growing dome, greater seismicity, and plumes to 10 km in early 2002

During late January to early April 2002, seismic activity at Shiveluch remained above background levels and the lava dome in the active crater continued to grow. Explosions, avalanches, pyroclastic flows, and plumes from combinations of steam, gas, and ash, all occurred without warning and rose as high as 7-10 km altitude. Many shallow earthquakes (ML less than or equal to 2.5) occurred within the volcano's edifice along with other shallow seismic events. The Alert Level was raised from Yellow to Orange during a period of increased activity, 12 February-mid-March. Then the Level was returned to Yellow.

Typical activities from the end of January through the first half of February 2002 included weak seismic events and short-lived explosions, which sent ash-gas plumes to heights of 0.8-1.0 km above the ~2.5 km-high dome (reaching 3.3-3.5 km altitude). Occasional explosions sent plumes to higher altitudes; on 25 January a plume rose to ~ 4.5 km altitude, while an explosive eruption on 1 February sent ash-gas plumes to heights over 5.0 km.

For the latter eruption, Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) satellite images show thermal anomalies up to 10 pixels. Many of these "hot" pixels were at the detector saturation level of 48°C, and appeared against typical background temperatures as low as -25°C. A satellite image on 2 February revealed a 40-pixel thermal anomaly; however, only 5-7 of the pixels had temperatures above 40°C, indicating that only those pixels were influenced by hot material on the ground. The other pixels with elevated temperatures were associated with a cloud caused by hot avalanches.

On the evening of 12 February, the character of the seismicity changed suggesting the occurrence of more intense gas-ash explosions. During the next 30 days, explosions occurred frequently, producing ash-and-gas plumes that rose over 1 km above the dome and occasionally over 3 km above it. On 22 February, a series of shallow seismic events registered for ~1 hour, possibly related to ash-gas explosions or a hot rock avalanche. A similar series was recorded on the night of 27 February, and the next morning observers from Klyuchi town (46 km S) reported a 2-km-long pyroclastic flow to the SE of the dome.

AVHRR images of the resulting plumes showed that some extended to distances of 100 km in various directions, depending upon local wind conditions. A satellite image on 21 February showed a circular ash cloud, 20 km in diameter, at an altitude of ~7.1 km. By 15 March seismic activity declined but remained above background levels. Short-lived explosions continued to send plumes as high as 7.5 km altitude during the last week of March.

Thermal anomalies and pixel size on AVHRR imagery. Dave Schneider (USGS, AVO) provided an explanation of relevant aspects of pixel size and thermal anomalies. The size of a "raw" AVHRR pixel varies across and along the scan of the sensor. The instrument scans from side to side as the satellite moves in orbit. Along the nadir (the line directly beneath the satellite sensor), the pixel size is ~1.1 km on a side. At the far extreme of the scan (55° from nadir) the pixel size increases to 2.4 x 6.5 km. The raw image looks very distorted due to this change in pixel size, so the raw data are resampled to a resolution of 1 x 1 km when processing the data for display. This resampling can generate artifacts, including duplicate "hot" pixels. Analysts usually recognize and account for this problem, and then accurately report the appropriate number of hot pixels.

Another complication is the cause and significance of hot pixels. An AVHRR pixel will begin to appear anomalously warm, compared to its neighbors, when very hot material (hundred's of degrees centigrade) occupy a very small percentage of the total pixel area (much less that 1%). So, when a report mentions four hot pixels, and the pixel is 1 km square, one might be tempted to interpret this as 4 km2 of hot material. However, this is not correct. Typically, only a very small portion of a pixel area is hot, but sufficiently hot to reach the pixel's saturation value of ~50°C. The numbers of hot pixels are not all that relevant in an absolute sense. In a relative sense, however, the number of hot pixels can be important, for example, during episodes where we have seen anomalies grow from 1-4 hot pixels and then reach 10-20 hot pixels after an eruption.

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

Information Contacts: Olga Chubarova, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia; Tom Miller and Dave Schneider, 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.


Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Ulawun

Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Isolated tremor episodes and slow deflation through March 2002

An eruption occurred at Ulawun during 25-30 April 2001 (BGVN 26:06). Limited evacuations occurred on 3 May due to the occurrence of relatively high seismic activity and the possibility of further volcanic activity. On 14 June the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory (RVO) recommended that the Alert Level be reduced from 2 to 1. At this stage of alert, people could move back to their homes with the approval of the local disaster committee.

Volcanic tremor began at 2200 on 24 September. It peaked at about 1000 on 27 September and generally declined afterward. By 30 September seismic activity was at moderate levels. During 27-30 September a very slow deflationary trend was detected. Volcanic tremor continued to occur at moderate-to-high levels until it dropped dramatically on 11 October. After 11 October seismicity only consisted of discrete low-frequency earthquakes. On 8 and 9 October loud roaring noises emanated from the volcano.

During October through March 2002 activity was generally low. The main crater produced weak-to-moderate volumes of white and white-gray vapor. The N valley vent occasionally released weak volumes of thin white vapor. RSAM data revealed conspicuous seismicity on 26 October; incandescence was observed that night. A rapid trend of deflation beneath the summit area during the previous two weeks stopped on 24 December.

During mid-February tremor increased to moderate levels for the first time since December 2001. On 21 February weak roaring noises were heard and weak incandescence was visible for a short time. After 22 February tremor returned to background levels. Seismic activity returned to background levels after volcanic tremor ceased on 18 March. Discrete low-frequency earthquakes continued to occur in small numbers. The electronic tiltmeter continued to show long-term deflation of the summit area. Based on recent observations, activity at Ulawun is expected to remain low.

General References. Johnson, R.W., Davies, R.A., and White, A.J.R., 1972, Ulawun volcano, New Britain: Australia Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, Bulletin 142, 42 p.

McKee, C.O., 1983, Volcanic hazards at Ulawun volcano: Geological Survey of Papua New Guinea Report 83/13, 21 p.

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

Information Contacts: Ima Itikarai, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.

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/).