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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

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

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


Recently Published Bulletin Reports

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

Popocatepetl (Mexico) Explosions with ash plumes and incandescent ejecta continue during September 2018-February 2019

Pacaya (Guatemala) Continuous activity from the cone in Mackenney crater; daily lava flows on the NW flank during October 2018-January 2019



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/).


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions with ash plumes and incandescent ejecta continue during September 2018-February 2019

Frequent historical eruptions have been reported from Mexico's Popocatépetl going back to the 14th century. Activity increased in the mid-1990s after about 50 years of quiescence, and the current eruption, ongoing since January 2005, has included numerous episodes of lava-dome growth and destruction within the 500-m-wide summit caldera. Multiple emissions of steam and gas occur daily, rising generally 1-3 km above the 5.4-km-elevation summit; many contain small amounts of ash. Larger, more explosive events with ash plumes and incandescent ejecta landing on the flanks usually occur several times every week.

Activity through August 2018 was typical of the ongoing eruption with near-constant emissions of water vapor, gas, and minor ash, as well as multiple explosions every week with ash-plumes and incandescent blocks scattered on the flanks (BGVN 43:11). This report covers similar activity from September 2018 through February 2019. Information about Popocatépetl comes from daily reports provided by México's Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED); ash emissions are also reported by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). Satellite visible and thermal imagery and SO2 data also provide helpful observations of activity.

Near-constant emissions of steam and gas, often with minor ash content, were typical activity throughout September 2018-February 2019. Intermittent larger explosions with plumes of moderate ash content that generated ashfall in nearby communities were reported each month except November. Periods with increased explosive activity that consisted of multiple daily explosions included all of September into early October, early December 2018, and the second half of February 2019 (figure 116). Increased observations of incandescence at the summit generally coincided with increases in explosive activity. Increases in thermal anomalies measured by the MIROVA project during this time also correlated with times of increased explosive activity as reported by CENAPRED (figure 117).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 116. The numbers of low intensity emissions of steam and gas, often with minor amounts of ash ranged from a few tens to several hundred per day throughout September 2018-February 2019 (blue, left axis). Increases in the daily numbers of larger ash-bearing explosions occurred during September-early October 2018, early December, and the second half of February 2019 (orange, right axis). Data courtesy of CENEPRED.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 117. Thermal anomalies registered by the MIROVA project from 5 April 2018 through February 2019 had periods of increased frequency and intensity during September-early October, early December 2018, and in the second half of February 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during September 2018. Multiple explosions with ash plumes were reported nearly every day in September (figure 118). The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery 15 km NW of the summit at 7.6 km altitude on 4 September. Most plumes reported by the VAAC during the month rose to 6.1-7.6 km and drifted up to 40 km in multiple directions. Two small episodes of ash emissions with tremor on 16 September were followed the next day by a series of emissions, explosions, and tremor that lasted for over six hours; incandescent blocks were visible on the flanks in the early morning. An increase in activity late on 18 September produced Strombolian eruptions that lasted for nearly eight hours along with ash emissions and incandescent blocks on the flanks. A plume on 19 September still had detectable ash 150 km NE of the summit; a smaller plume drifting E was responsible for ashfall reported in Tlaxcala.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 118. Multiple explosions with ash plumes were reported nearly every day in September at Popocatépetl, generating ash plumes that rose from 1.5-3 km above the crater and drifted in multiple directions. The CENAPRED webcams captured images of ash plumes on 8, 11, and 19 September, and the Sentinel-2 satellite (rendering is Atmospheric penetration, based on bands 12, 11 and 8A) imaged ash plumes from two of seven reported explosions on 24 September 2018. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Reporte del monitoreo de CENAPRED al volcán Popocatépetl hoy 9, 11, y 20 de septiembre de 2018) and Sentinel Hub Playground (lower image).

Discrete puffs of ash were observed by the Washington VAAC on 20 September moving WSW extending around 200 km from the summit. Three explosions on 21 September ejected incandescent blocks onto the NE flank. During an overflight on 21 September, CENAPRED observed dome number 80, partly destroyed by the recent explosions (figure 119). The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume at 8.8 km altitude on 21 September 30 km WSW from the summit. Ashfall was reported by CENACOM (Mexican National Communications Center) on 29 September in Atlautla, Tehuixtitlan, and Cuecuecuautitla in the State of Mexico, and in the Tláhuac Delegation, Iztapalapa, and Xochimilco in Mexico City.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 119. During an overflight on 21 September 2018, CENAPRED observed dome number 80 at Popocatépetl, partly destroyed by the recent explosions. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Sobrevuelo al volcán Popocatépetl hoy 21 de septiembre de 2018).

Activity during October and November 2018. The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume at 7 km altitude on 2 October, 35 km W of the summit. Numerous smaller plumes were reported by the VAAC during both months at about 6 km altitude drifting in multiple directions. Two larger explosions on 8 October produced ash plumes that rose to 3.5 and 2.4 km, respectively, above the summit, and drifted NE (figure 120). As a result, ashfall was reported at the Puebla airport. On 10 and 12 October, extended periods of LP tremor were accompanied by gas emissions, but otherwise lower levels of activity were noted for much of the month. An ash plume extended over 80 km NE at 7.6 km altitude on 10 November. An explosion on 13 November produced incandescent fragments on the flanks. During 19-21 November episodes of LP seismicity and tremors produced gas and ash emissions; some of the episodes lasted for as long as 13 hours; incandescent fragments were observed on the upper slopes during the more intense periods. On 22 November scientists on an overflight by CENAPRED observed dome 81 with a diameter of 175 m and an estimated depth of 30 m (figure 121).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 120. A large explosion early on 8 October 2018 at Popocatépetl sent an ash plume to 3.5 km above the summit crater that drifted NE. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Reporte del monitoreo de CENAPRED al volcán Popocatépetl 9 de Octubre de 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 121. On 22 November 2018 scientists on an overflight by CENAPRED observed dome 81 at Popocatépetl with a diameter of 175 m and an estimated depth of 30 m. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Sobrevuelos, herramienta útil para el monitoreo volcánico del Popocatépetl, jueves, 22 de noviembre de 2018).

Activity during December 2018. Increased ash emissions were reported in early December 2018, producing ash plumes that rose at least 1 km above the crater and drifted mostly E; incandescent blocks ejected on 5 December fell mostly back into the crater. Multiple explosions on 6 and 7 December produced ash plumes that rose as high as 2.5 km above the crater and resulted in ashfall in Amecameca and Tlalmanalco; they also produced incandescent blocks that traveled as far at 2.5 km from the crater, according to CENAPRED. An explosion on 9 December produced a 2-km-high ash plume that drifted NE (figure 122). Satellite images captured during clear skies on 18 December showed incandescence at the dome inside the summit crater, and dark ash and ejecta covering much of the upper flanks (figure 123). An ash plume was centered about 100 km NE of the summit on 24 December at 7.6 km altitude, and dissipating rapidly, according to the Washington VAAC. Incandescent blocks were ejected onto the flanks on 26 December during an evening explosion.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 122. An explosion on 9 December 2018 produced a 2-km-high ash plume at Popocatépetl that drifted NE. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Reporte del monitoreo de CENAPRED al volcán Popocatépetl hoy 9 de diciembre de 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 123. Clear skies on 18 December 2018 resulted in a Sentinel-2 satellite image of Popocatépetl that showed incandescence on the dome inside the summit crater, and dark tephra surrounding all the upper flanks. Rendering is Atmospheric penetration, based on bands 12, 11 and 8A. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during January 2019. An explosion in the early morning of 16 January 2019 produced incandescent blocks that traveled 1.5 km down the slopes. It also produced an ash emission that lasted for 25 minutes; the seismic signal associated with the event was a mixture of harmonic tremor and high-frequency low-amplitude earthquakes. In the first minutes the height of the column reached 1,000 m above the crater, later it decreased to 500 m; ash was dispersed ENE. Late on 22 January a large explosion produced an ash plume that rose 3.5 km above the crater and numerous incandescent blocks that were observed as far as 2 km from the summit (figure 124); ashfall was reported in Santa Isabel Cholula, Santa Ana Xalmimilulco, Domingo Arenas, San Martin Texmelucan, Tlalancaleca, San Salvador el Verde, San Andres Calpan, San Nicolás de los Ranchos, and Huejotzingo, all in the state of Puebla. A large discrete ash plume was observed in satellite imagery by the Washington VAAC on 24 January at 6.7 km altitude moving NE to about 35 km distance before dissipating. In an overflight on 27 January CENAPRED noted that the internal crater remained about 300 m wide and 150 m deep, and no dome was visible (figure 125).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 124. Late on 22 January 2019 a large explosion at Popocatépetl produced an ash plume that rose 3.5 km above the crater and produced numerous incandescent blocks that were observed as far as 2 km from the summit. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Actualización de Reporte del monitoreo de CENAPRED al volcán Popocatépetl hoy 22 de enero de 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 125. During an overflight of Popocatépetl on 27 January 2019 observers from CENAPRED noted that the internal crater remained about 300 m wide and 150 m deep, and no dome was visible. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Reporte del monitoreo de CENAPRED al volcán Popocatépetl hoy 27 de enero de 2019).

Activity during February 2019. Several days of increased activity of harmonic tremor and explosions were reported during 14-19 February 2019 (figure 126). Incandescent blocks from Strombolian activity appeared on the flanks late on 14 February traveling as far as 1.5 km, along with a continuous stream of ash and gas that drifted SW for seven hours. The initial ash plume rose 800 m, but by early the next day had risen to 2 km. Ashfall was reported in the communities of Hueyapan, Tetela del Volcán, Zacualpan, Temoac, Jantetelco, Cuautla, Ocuituco, and Yecapixtla, in the state of Morelos, and in Tochimilco, Puebla, on 15 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 126. Several days of increased activity at Popocatépetl, including harmonic tremor and explosions, were reported during 14-19 February 2019. Incandescent blocks from Strombolian activity appeared on the flanks late on 14 February traveling as far as 1.5 km, along with a continuous stream of ash and gas that drifted SW for seven hours (left). Steam and gas streamed continuously from the summit for many hours on 17 February (right); the plume drifted NNE at 1-1.5 km altitude. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Reporte del monitoreo de CENAPRED al volcán Popocatépetl 14 y 18 de febrero de 2019).

A new episode of Strombolian activity early on 16 February lasted for six hours and produced 2-km-high ash plumes that drifted SE. Later that afternoon, a new harmonic tremor episode, again lasting about six hours, was accompanied by water vapor and gas emissions that drifted NE and incandescent blocks ejected 400 m down the flanks. A Sentinel-2 satellite image that day recorded a significant thermal signature from the summit dome (figure 127).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 127. A Sentinel-2 satellite image on a clear 16 February 2019 recorded a significant thermal signature from the summit dome of Popocatépetl. Rendering is Atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Satellite instruments recorded a strong SO2 signature from the volcano during 15-18 February (figure 128). Multi-hour periods of harmonic tremor were recorded during 17-19 February, accompanied by gas-and-ash emissions. Ash plume heights were between 1 and 2 km above the crater, and minor ashfall was reported in Tlaxco and Xalostoc in Nativitas, and Hueyotlipan, Amaxac de Guerrero, Tepetitla de Lardizábal, and Texoloc in Tlaxcala, on 18 February. Two overflights on 18 and 19 February confirmed the formation of dome 82 inside the summit crater, estimated to be 200 m in diameter (figure 129).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 128. Significant SO2 plumes were measured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite during 15-18 February 2019 at Popocatépetl. The plume initially drifted SW (top left, 15 February); changes in the wind direction carried the plume to the N (top right, 16 February), then to the NE (bottom left, 17 February), and back to the N on 18 February (bottom right). Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 129. An overflight on 19 February by CENAPRED confirmed the formation of dome 82 inside the summit crater at Popocatépetl, estimated to be 200 m in diameter. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Actualización del reporte del monitoreo de CENAPRED al volcán Popocatépetl, 19 de febrero de 2019).

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

Information Contacts: Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED), Av. Delfín Madrigal No.665. Coyoacan, México D.F. 04360, México (URL: http://www.cenapred.unam.mx/); 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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).


Pacaya (Guatemala) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuous activity from the cone in Mackenney crater; daily lava flows on the NW flank during October 2018-January 2019

Extensive lava flows, bomb-laden Strombolian explosions, and ash plumes emerging from MacKenney crater have characterized the persistent activity at Pacaya since 1961. The latest eruptive episode began with intermittent ash plumes and incandescence in June 2015; the growth of a new pyroclastic cone inside the summit crater was confirmed in mid-December 2015. The pyroclastic cone has continued to grow, rising above the crater rim in late 2017 and sending numerous flows down the flanks of the crater throughout 2018 (BGVN 43:11). Similar activity continued during October 2018-January 2019, covered in this report, with information provided primarily by Guatemala's Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH).

There were few variations in the eruptive activity at Pacaya during October 2018-January 2019. Virtually constant Strombolian activity from the summit of the pyroclastic cone within Mackenney crater produced ejecta that rose 5-30 m daily. Periods of increased activity occasionally increased the height of the ejecta to 50 m. Lava flows descended the NW flank of Mackenney cone towards Cerro Chino crater, usually one or two a day, sometimes three or four. They travelled 50-300 m down the flank; the longest reached 600 m in mid-October and 500 m at the end of January. Steam and gas plumes persisted from the summit; a single VAAC report mentioned dilute ash in mid-October. Plumes generally rose a few hundred meters above the summit, occasionally reaching 700-800 m. Incandescent avalanche blocks at the heads of the flows were sometimes as large as a meter in diameter and traveled far down the flanks.

Constant Strombolian activity during October 2018 from the pyroclastic cone within Mackenney crater was ejected up to 30 m above the summit of the cone throughout the month, with occasional more intense episodes rising 50 m. Lava flows were reported daily by INSIVUMEH on the NW flank from 50 to 300 m long. White and blue gas-and-steam emissions generally rose a few hundred meters from the summit of the pyroclastic cone and usually drifted S or N. The highest rose 800 m on 26 and 27 October. In a special report issued late on 12 October INSIVUMEH noted that seismicity had increased during the day; Strombolian explosions also increased and ejected material 25-50 m above the summit, producing block avalanches in the vicinity of the flows (figure 103). The cone within Mackenney crater continued to grow, reaching 75 m above the rim and nearly filling the crater at its base. According to the Washington VAAC, on 14 October a pilot reported minor ash emissions moving W at an estimated 650 m above the summit. Multi-spectral imagery showed a faint ash plume moving W at 3.4 km altitude, and a well-defined hotspot was seen in short-wave infrared imagery.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. Strombolian activity sent ejecta 25-50 m above the summit of Pacaya on 12 October 2018, and lava flows traveled 600 m down the NW flank towards Cerro Chino, as seen from the community of Escuintla located about 20 km W. Courtesy of Carlos Barrios and INSIVUMEH.

Similar activity persisted throughout November 2018 (figures 104 and 105). The Strombolian activity usually rose 5-30 m high; on 24 November INSIVUMEH reported ejecta 75 m high and the presence of four lava flows on the NW flank that traveled distances ranging from 50 to 200 m. Steam-and-gas emissions rose no more than 500 m above the summit. On 24 and 28 November incandescent avalanche blocks were observed at the fronts of the lava flows.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. Constant Strombolian activity rising 25-50 m above the summit of Pacaya was reported on 12 November 2018. In addition, a lava flow 150 m long traveled down the NW flank towards Cerro Chino, as seen in this image with incandescent blocks below the flow. A diffuse plume of mostly gas and steam rose 350 m above the crater. Courtesy of CONRED.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Continuous lava flows up to 300 m long were observed during the last week of November 2018 at Pacaya. They traveled down the NW flank and often had large incandescent blocks that descended the flank beneath the flow. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Pacaya (1402-11), Semana del 24 al 30 de noviembre de 2018).

During December 2018, continuous Strombolian activity was observed 25 m high. Incandescent avalanche blocks were noted at the fronts of the lava flows more frequently than in previous months. One to three lava flows extending 50-300 m down the NW flank towards Cerro Chino were reported every day that the flanks were visible (figure 106). Late on 13 December INSIVUMEH released a special bulletin noting that explosions were heard as far as 8 km from Mackenney crater, and Strombolian activity rose 25-50 m. Constant tremor activity had been produced from the ongoing lava flows descending the flank; the incandescent avalanche blocks up to 1 m in diameter were falling from the front of the flows. By the end of December, the growing pyroclastic cone had filled the inside of Mackenney crater, reaching 75-100 m above the crater rim. In a special information report on 28 December, INSIVUMEH noted that changes in the eruptive patterns included an increase in seismic tremor along with more persistent and higher energy Strombolian activity from the active cone, which frequently sent material outside of the crater onto the flanks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Lava flows traveled down the NW flank of Pacaya on 7 December 2018. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe mensual de la actividad volcanica, diciembre 2018, Volcan de Pacaya).

There were no significant changes in activity during January 2019. Constant Strombolian activity rose 5-30 m above the summit; INSIVUMEH reported the height at 50 m on 7 January. Large incandescent avalanche blocks were noted at the front of the lava flows several times; one or two flows daily reached lengths of 100-300 m. The flow reported on 29 January reached 500 m, traveling down the NW flank towards Cerro Chino. Steam plumes, sometimes with bluish gas, rose generally to around 100 m above the summit, occasionally higher. Growth and destruction of the pyroclastic cone inside Mackenney crater continued as it had for the previous several months. The persistent Strombolian and lava flow activity was responsible for a strong thermal signature recorded in satellite data and plotted by the MIROVA project during the period (figure 107).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. A MIROVA graph of thermal radiative power at Pacaya from 5 April 2018 through January 2019 showed little change during the period from October 2018-January 2019 covered in this report. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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: 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/); Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), Av. Hincapié 21-72, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://conred.gob.gt/www/index.php); 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/); Carlos Barrios (Twitter: @shekano, URL: https://twitter.com/shekano).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 27, Number 12 (December 2002)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Ambrym (Vanuatu)

Lava lakes remain active in Mbwelesu and Benbow craters through December 2002

Cotopaxi (Ecuador)

First anomalous seismicity since 1975 begins in October 2001

Etna (Italy)

Late October 2002 earthquake swarm signals start of new flank eruption

Karangetang (Indonesia)

500-m plumes and ~ 1.5-km glowing lava avalanche; Alert Level increased

Kerinci (Indonesia)

Continuous emissions through December 2002

Krakatau (Indonesia)

Seismicity dominated by volcanic earthquakes through at least December 2002

Lokon-Empung (Indonesia)

Higher-than-normal activity continues through at least December 2002

Lopevi (Vanuatu)

Anomalous SO2 emissions detected by satellite in December 2002 and January 2003

McDonald Islands (Australia)

Significant morphological changes due to eruptive activity

Pinatubo (Philippines)

Likely 2001 overflow controled by cross-rim trenching

Semeru (Indonesia)

Elevated explosive activity continues; evacuation on 30 December 2002

Stromboli (Italy)

Landslides on 30 December cause two tsunamis; damage in nearby villages

Tungurahua (Ecuador)

Summary of 2002 activity includes several episodes of intense seismicity

Witori (Papua New Guinea)

Dacite lava flows, flattened forest, deformation, and faulting



Ambrym (Vanuatu) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambrym

Vanuatu

16.25°S, 168.12°E; summit elev. 1334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lakes remain active in Mbwelesu and Benbow craters through December 2002

Observations of Ambrym were made by John Seach during a climb to the caldera during 11-15 December 2002. Lava lakes were visible in both Mbwelesu and Benbow craters that had been absent during a visit in February 2000 (BGVN 25:02) . Reports from local guides indicated that two lava lakes appeared in Mbwelesu crater during February 2001 and joined to form a single lava lake in August 2001. A lava lake reappeared in Benbow crater during June 2002. During November 2002 acid rain, for the third consecutive year, destroyed the mango crops between Sanesup and Lalinda on the W coast of Ambrym.

Activity at Mbwelesu Crater, 12 December 2002. Perfect visibility into the crater enabled detailed observations of the lava lake over 5 hours from the S side of the crater at an elevation of 950 m and over 300 m above the lava lake. The lava lake, located at the bottom of Mbwelesu Crater inside a circular pit (figures 6 and 7), had a diameter of 40-50 m, was in constant motion, and made continuous loud crashing sounds like waves at the beach. The lava lake was much more active than during previous visits in 1998 and 1999. Pele's hair littered the observation area, and white lithic blocks up to 30 cm in diameter were scattered on the rim.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Photo of the lava lake inside a circular pit within Mbwelesu Crater at Ambrym, 12 December 2002. The diameter of the lava lake is 40-50 m. Courtesy of John Seach.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Photo showing the violent degassing from the lava lake in Mbwelesu Crater at Ambrym, 12 December 2002. Courtesy of John Seach.

The surface of the lava lake was continuously disrupted by degassing. Bubbles caused the lake surface to blister and finally burst, splashing lava into the air. Up to eight large bubbles formed at any one time and covered over 80% of the lake surface. The cycle of bubble formation and rupture took about 3 seconds. Waves up to 10 m high formed due to the degassing and crashed onto the side of the pit. After lava waves hit the side of the pit there was a drain-back of lava into the main lake much like ocean waves receding off a beach. Jets of lava were regularly expelled from the lake surface and directed both vertically and at an angle towards the pit side. Fountains reached up to 40 m high. Blobs of molten lava spattered onto the side of the pit up to 20 m from the lava lake edge. This spatter was more erratic than lava fountains and sprayed over a greater area. When large amounts of lava were thrown onto the pit wall, some would cascade back into the lake via a lava stream, lava fall, or a wide curtain of orange flowing lava.

Crusting of the surface was observed when parts of the lake had a lower level of activity, most often in the NE part of the pit opposite the area of most vigorous degassing. Sometimes a lava fountain would burst through the crust, throwing darker pieces of lava high into the air. At times the orange lava lake surface was covered with black pieces of broken crust. Crusting lasted for only a few minutes at a time before it was disrupted by fountains or waves. Lava disappeared into the lava lake surface by subducting under layers of other lava. Some lava disappeared into overhangs on the side of the pit. Lava lake activity continued out of view for an unknown distance past these overhangs.

The lava lake level rose and fell over a period of less than an hour in response to changes in the surface degassing rate. When the rate of degassing was high the lake level was raised by 10 m. The changes appeared to be caused by inflation of the lake due to gas rather than any change in lava eruption rate. During a period of low lava lake activity, the whole lake surface tilted 5 m towards the N and then back to the S over a two-second period. Violent intra-crater winds were observed around the lava lake as reflected in their effects on gas emissions. These were also felt beside the lava lake in Benbow crater. Vapors emitted from the lake surface were white tinged with blue.

Two 15-m-diameter vents 100 m N of the lava lake and 60 m higher were separated by a thin wall. The W vent did not show any activity. The E vent made almost continuous loud degassing noises, and larger explosions ejected black ash 50 m into the air. Mbwelesu was approached again on 15 December, but rain the previous day and low clouds had filled the crater with white vapor, allowing only brief views of the still constantly active lava lake.

Activity at Mbogon Niri Mbwelesu, 12 December 2002. This small collapse pit has been re-named (formerly Niri Mbwelesu Taten) after a request by local residents. The new name comes from the local Port Vato language of W Ambrym, as did the previous name, but is more culturally appropriate. The translation of the new name is " mouth of the wild young pig" (Mbogon = mouth, Niri = son, Mbwelesu = wild pig).

On 12 December excellent visibility enabled detailed observations into Mbogon Niri Mbwelesu. Observations were made from the N side of the pit. Loud crashing, degassing sounds were heard inside the pit, and a 10-m-diameter vent was observed on the floor about 180 m below. The pit glowed bright orange, but lava was not directly observed. This was the first time in 2002 that guides had observed the presence of lava in this pit. Loud degassing occurred every few seconds, and the larger explosions were accompanied by light brown emissions and ground shaking. Pungent sulfurous fumes were emitted from the pit, forcing the observer to use a respirator at times. Strong degassing of brown vapors was coming from the E side of the pit, 50 m below the rim. The W inside wall of the pit was coated with red and yellow deposits.

Activity at Niri Mbwelesu Crater, 12 December 2002. On 12 December excellent views were obtained into Niri Mbwelesu. A recent large landslide on the W wall of the crater had covered the previously lava-filled vent. Rockfalls were heard regularly inside the crater and degassing occurred about every 30 seconds. About every 20 minutes larger explosions were heard at the crater; some were audible over 3 km away.

Activity at Benbow Crater, 13 December 2002. Benbow was climbed from the S on 13 December. The observer free-climbed 165 m down to the floor of the first level, and then another 45 m further down to the edge of the lava lake pit in the N of the crater. Inside Benbow there were two active pits. The larger pit, in the middle of the crater, contained a crusted lava lake and two active vents. The SW vent was 25 m in diameter and was full of vapor but emitted no sounds. The NW vent was 10 m in diameter, glowed red, and loudly degassed. The N crater in Benbow contained an active lava lake. The observer climbed to the rim and was able to view the lake surface, ~50 m below, for a few seconds before retreating. The lava lake was in constant motion and lava was ejected in to the air. Violent winds (over 80 km/hour) were generated inside the pit and made observations on the edge dangerous. At times the pit was filled with white and blue-tinged vapors which made breathing difficult. The lava lake made continuous rumbling and sloshing noises. On a wall next to the lava lake pit there was dripping water with a pH of 3.5 and 700 ppm total dissolved solids.

Visit to Ambrym, 15-20 August 2001. Jeff and Raine Williams, sailing aboard the S/Y Gryphon, visited Ambrym Island during 15-20 August 2001. One day was spent hiking to the Mbwelesu crater with a guide from the village of Ranvetlam. Their report has been reduced here to basic observations; a more poetic and complete description of their hike can be found on their website. After leaving Ranvetlam, they began a steep climb through jungle and gardens, continuing through coconut groves and thick woods of breadfruit trees and wild nut trees. After an hour they were still passing through the garden plots of villagers. At higher altitudes the vegetation changed to bananas, kava, and lap-lap plants; wild tree ferns and palm trees were abundant.

After about 90 minutes they emerged from the jungle onto a lava flow at the lower limit of the high central 'ash plain' plateau. They climbed along this "50-yard wide, black gravel road," also described as a "wild orchid-lined highway," through the jungle to the ash plain itself, where the tops of Marum and Benbow could be seen shrouded in clouds and mist. The hike continued across ~1.5 km of the ash plain before passing along a lava gully onto the final ridge, a 1-m-wide path of loose cinders and stone. They climbed to the rim and looked down the sheer, nearly vertical cliffs into the crater, where they heard rumbling and splashing sounds of the active lava lake. Although the weather was cold and windy, the fog cleared enough for the visitors to briefly observe bright red lava in the crater three times within 30 minutes. The 11-km-long hike to the crater took four hours, and another 3 hours to return.

Geologic Background. Ambrym, a large basaltic volcano with a 12-km-wide caldera, is one of the most active volcanoes of the New Hebrides arc. A thick, almost exclusively pyroclastic sequence, initially dacitic, then basaltic, overlies lava flows of a pre-caldera shield volcano. The caldera was formed during a major plinian eruption with dacitic pyroclastic flows about 1900 years ago. Post-caldera eruptions, primarily from Marum and Benbow cones, have partially filled the caldera floor and produced lava flows that ponded on the caldera floor or overflowed through gaps in the caldera rim. Post-caldera eruptions have also formed a series of scoria cones and maars along a fissure system oriented ENE-WSW. Eruptions have apparently occurred almost yearly during historical time from cones within the caldera or from flank vents. However, from 1850 to 1950, reporting was mostly limited to extra-caldera eruptions that would have affected local populations.

Information Contacts: John Seach, PO Box 16, Chatsworth Island, NSW, 2469, Australia (URL: http://www.volcanolive.com/); Jeff and Raine Williams, P.O. Box 729, Funkstown, MD 21734, USA.


Cotopaxi (Ecuador) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Cotopaxi

Ecuador

0.677°S, 78.436°W; summit elev. 5911 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


First anomalous seismicity since 1975 begins in October 2001

The last Cotopaxi report (SEAN 01:03) described a decline in activity during December 1975. Beginning in October 2001, anomalous seismic activity was registered. Seismicity increased further during November 2001-January 2002, and at times was up to seven times the normal level (tables 1 and 2). During this period, other seismic signals were registered that were distinct from those during the 13 previous years of monitoring, including: tornillos, explosion events, bands of harmonic tremor sometimes lasting a few minutes, and deep, high-energy long-period (LP) events registered away from the volcano (at the Antisana and Guagua Pichincha stations). Seismic observations and statistics were compiled using station "VCl," located ~4 km NE of the volcano. Earthquake locations were determined using records from the seven seismic stations on different flanks of Cotopaxi, and for higher-energy events with stations of the National network.

Table 1. Monthly seismicity at Cotopaxi during 2001-2002. Data includes Total and Daily averages for long-period (LP) events, hybrid events, volcano-tectonic (VT) events, tornillo events, and all earthquakes. Courtesy IG.

Date LP Total LP Daily Avg Hybrid Total Hybrid Daily Avg VT Total VT Daily Avg Tornillo Total Tornillo Daily Avg All Earthquakes Total All Earthquakes Daily Avg
Jan 2001 336 10.8 0 0.0 18 0.6 0 0.0 354 11.4
Feb 2001 185 6.6 0 0.0 4 0.1 0 0.0 189 6.8
Mar 2001 319 10.3 1 0.0 10 0.3 0 0.0 320 10.3
Apr 2001 280 9.3 0 0.0 26 0.9 0 0.0 306 10.2
May 2001 241 7.8 7 0.2 10 0.3 0 0.0 248 8.0
Jun 2001 243 8.1 11 0.4 53 1.8 0 0.0 307 10.2
Jul 2001 262 8.5 2 0.1 9 0.3 0 0.0 273 8.8
Aug 2001 241 7.8 0 0.0 9 0.3 0 0.0 250 8.1
Sep 2001 394 13.1 9 0.3 9 0.3 0 0.0 412 13.7
Oct 2001 555 17.9 0 0.0 7 0.2 0 0.0 562 18.1
Nov 2001 432 14.4 57 1.9 400 13.3 4 0.1 893 29.8
Dec 2001 516 16.6 169 5.5 729 23.5 0 0.0 1423 45.9
Jan 2002 595 19.2 5 0.2 363 11.7 3 0.1 966 31.2
Feb 2002 532 19.0 4 0.1 157 5.6 0 0.0 693 24.8
Mar 2002 504 16.3 1 0.0 191 6.2 0 0.0 696 22.5
Apr 2002 310 10.3 7 0.2 63 2.1 0 0.0 380 12.7
May 2002 431 13.9 8 0.3 53 1.7 0 0.0 453 14.6
Jun 2002 429 14.3 41 1.4 45 1.5 3 0.1 474 15.8
Jul 2002 445 14.4 181 5.8 92 3.0 2 0.1 720 23.2
Aug 2002 455 14.7 91 2.9 32 1.0 12 0.4 590 19.0
Sep 2002 509 17.0 184 6.1 140 4.7 19 0.6 852 28.4
Oct 2002 322 10.4 219 7.1 62 2.0 13 0.4 616 19.9
Nov 2002 295 9.8 142 4.7 64 2.1 2 0.1 503 16.8
Dec 2002 233 9.0 120 4.6 48 1.5 1 0.0 402 16.1

Table 2. Comparison of average seismicity at Cotopaxi during 2001 and 2002. Courtesy IG.

Year Daily average Monthly average Total
2001 15.4 461.4 5537
2002 20.4 612.1 7345

On 5 and 29 January 2002, two seismic clusters lasted an average of 2 hours and were composed mainly of LP and VT earthquakes. Most of the earthquakes were located at depths of 1-10 km beneath the summit. On 5 and 13 January small fumaroles were reported in the crater, and visible defrosting occurred on the upper E flank. A visit to the summit on 13 January revealed increased fumarolic activity compared to previous months. On 19 and 20 January observers reported gray plumes rising as high as 1,000 m.

During February and March activity diminished, and no seismic clusters were registered. Most of the earthquakes were located 1-10 km beneath the volcano. On 5 February roaring noises were heard from Mulaló and the refuges located on the flanks of the volcano. Strong fumarolic activity was also reported. On 6 February steam plumes rose ~300 m above the summit. On 27 February a small steam plume was reported exiting from the NW side of the crater. On 7 and 10 March small steam plumes originated from the W side of the crater. On 28 March harmonic tremor lasted for ~10 minutes.

Activity remained low during April-June. On 17 April a band of harmonic tremor lasted ~6 minutes with a maximum frequency of 4.3 Hz. During the first days of April small steam plumes were reported. During May LP earthquakes lasted up to a minute and saturated the seismometer for several seconds. On 20 May a seismic cluster of LP earthquakes lasted ~2 hours. On 8 and 14 May a white steam plume from the NE side of the volcano reached up to 200 m high. During June VT events mostly occurred ~10 km N of the crater. On 30 June a band of harmonic tremor lasted ~7 minutes with a maximum frequency of 1.7-5.2 Hz. Visits to the summit on 1 and 2 June revealed that fumarolic activity had diminished ~40% since January.

During July seismicity was at a moderate level with respect to the rest of 2002. During the first days of the month a series of LP events were registered that were large enough to be detected at distant stations, such as Antisana and Guagua Pichincha. The earthquakes had maximum frequencies of ~2.1 Hz and were generally 1-2 km beneath the summit. However, some events were located at depths of ~10 km. On 18 July at 2000 a band of low-frequency tremor lasted ~4 minutes. About 5 hours later a seismic cluster began that lasted for ~8 hours. The cluster consisted of ~110 total events, mostly hybrid (HB) and volcano-tectonic (VT). The earthquakes were located 1-4 km beneath the summit, and 2 LP events were located ~10 km deep.

Visitors to the summit on 6 July reported fumarolic activity in the zone of Yanasacha, a slight sulfur smell on the NE side, and noise generated by an avalanche on the E side. At the end of July reports indicated defrosting in the W zone. During August moderate seismicity was dominated by LP events at a depth of ~10 km.

Seismicity was again high in September 2002. A small cluster of VT earthquakes on 15 September lasted ~7 hours. During the first days of the month a visit to the crater revealed new fumaroles in the E and S zones. Defrosting continued in the W zone and left 40% of the W wall open.

During October seismic activity was low but the number of hybrid events increased compared to the previous months. Tectonic events were registered in the S and N zones up to ~7 km from the summit. Deep LP events decreased by ~50% compared to previous months.

Seismicity remained low during November and December. Less than 10% of VT events were registered in the N sector. No fumarolic or other surface activity was observed. During December seismic events were located 1-7 km beneath the summit. On 7 December people in Yanahurco reported dark brown plumes rising from the crater.

Seismicity since 1989 clearly shows an increase in recent months (figure 1). The 2001 seismic events were registered at 1-10 km beneath the volcano, but ~90% occurred at 2-4 km and showed little migration. The 2002 activity was variable, from a high of 966 events in January to a low of 420 events in April. Mostly LP events occurred with some VT events during the first half of the year, and later mostly LP events with hybrids during the second half of the year. On the basis of 2002 seismic activity, a new injection of magma did not occur, and the anomalies in July and September were the result of the movement of gas from magma intrusion that occurred during the last months of 2001.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Graph of the total registered monthly events at Cotopaxi during 1989-2002. The activity increased beginning in November 2001 and has since remained above background levels. Courtesy of IG.

Geologic Background. Symmetrical, glacier-clad Cotopaxi stratovolcano is Ecuador's most well-known volcano and one of its most active. The steep-sided cone is capped by nested summit craters, the largest of which is about 550 x 800 m in diameter. Deep valleys scoured by lahars radiate from the summit of the andesitic volcano, and large andesitic lava flows extend to its base. The modern conical edifice has been constructed since a major collapse sometime prior to about 5000 years ago. Pyroclastic flows (often confused in historical accounts with lava flows) have accompanied many explosive eruptions, and lahars have frequently devastated adjacent valleys. The most violent historical eruptions took place in 1744, 1768, and 1877. Pyroclastic flows descended all sides of the volcano in 1877, and lahars traveled more than 100 km into the Pacific Ocean and western Amazon basin. The last significant eruption took place in 1904.

Information Contacts: Geophysical Institute (IG), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Apartado 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador.


Etna (Italy) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Late October 2002 earthquake swarm signals start of new flank eruption

On 26 October 2002 at 2225 a swarm of earthquakes was recorded by the seismic network of the Catania Section of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV-CT). This signaled the start of a new flank eruption that has formed fissures on the N and S sides of the volcano.

The lava supply from the main vents were cut off by 3 November. At that time both the N and S fissues stopped producing lava flows, although the S fissure continued to discharge fire fountains. After that, 20 m of downslope movement was observed at the most advanced flow front near Piano Provenzana on 5 November. This late movement was caused by channel emptying, and occurred when lava emerging at the main vent, ~5 km upstream, was completely crusted over. No further advancement of the lava flows was observed on the S or N flanks of the volcano after this date. However, while explosive and effusive activity stopped at the N fissure by 5 November, as of 11 November fire fountaining continued at the S vent located at 2,750 m elevation, near Torre del Filosofo. All data (gas emission, volcanic tremor, composition of the ash) suggested a steady state at this vent. Ash fallout caused intermittent disruption at the Catania airport and damage to buildings.

The eruption continued into December 2002. Lava flows and Strombolian activity continued on the S flank from vents at 2,750 m elevation. Ash emission from the 2,750 m cinder cone significantly declined on 17 December, allowing the local airport of Catania to reopen.

The two vents, which opened at the SE base of the 2,750 m cinder cone on 9-10 December, fed four major lava flows spreading S and SW. A lava flow spreading S on 13 December approached the Rifugio Sapienza and eventually crossed a road on 17 December. An overflow from the main lava channel covered a building and caused a strong explosion in the Rifugio Sapienza area during the night of 17 December, injuring 32 people. The explosion was not directly caused by the eruption, but by vaporization of oil or water inside the building while it was covered by the expanding lava flow. The effusion rate from the two vents gradually decreased, eventually causing the closure of the western vent and then the lack of supply to the lava flows spreading SW towards Monte Nero.

A new vent opened on 17 December at the S base of the 2,750 m cinder cone, a few meters W of the previous vents. A lava flow soon started from this vent, spreading SW towards Monte Nero. The new vent cut supply to the flows expanding S towards Rifugio Sapienza and formed a fan of thin lava flows spreading S, SSW and SW. The lower lava output produced shorter flows, which spread up to 2.5 km from the vent, without threatening the tourist facilities at Rifugio Sapienza. Lava flows spreading from the 17 December vent slowed down and crusted over on 22 December, when a new vent opened at the SW base of the 2,750 m cinder cone. A flow, again directed SW towards Monte Nero, originated from this vent and was expanding in this direction on 23 December.

SO2 emission measured daily during the eruption had significantly decreased as of 1 December, when the previous values of about 20,000 tons per day decreased to about 7,000 tons per day (figure 101). The lower gas output, the decrease in effusion rate, and the lower emission of ash from the summit, suggested a declining stage of the eruption.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. A plot of SO2 flux at Etna during September-December 2002. Courtesy of INGV-CT.

Updated maps of the lava flows, and reports of the eruptive activity, gas emission and ash composition (in Italian), can be found on the INGV-CT website.

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: Sonia Calvari, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/).


Karangetang (Indonesia) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


500-m plumes and ~ 1.5-km glowing lava avalanche; Alert Level increased

During September-29 December 2002, seismicity at Karangetang was dominated by emission, multiphase and tectonic earthquakes (table 6). The S crater nearly always issued "white, thin ash plumes" that reached up to 500 m above the rim. At night, a light plume was visible rising 25-100 m. Loud noises were heard frequently, and the N crater emitted a "thin white ash plume" to 50 m. No ashfall was reported.

Table 6. Earthquakes recorded at Karangetang during 9 September-29 December 2002. No reports were issued for Karangetang during 25 November-22 December. Courtesy VSI.

Date Deep volcanic (A-type) Shallow volcanic (B-type) Explosion Multiphase Emission Tectonic Avalanche
09 Sep-15 Sep 2002 14 24 0 94 299 46 --
16 Sep-22 Sep 2002 28 27 0 82 246 39 --
23 Sep-29 Sep 2002 22 26 1 20 116 75 --
30 Sep-06 Oct 2002 14 4 0 38 88 54 98
07 Oct-13 Oct 2002 19 13 -- 30 67 89 43
14 Oct-20 Oct 2002 7 22 1 30 146 34 10
21 Oct-27 Oct 2002 12 34 -- 23 114 65 --
28 Oct-03 Nov 2002 18 154 -- 147 49 24 --
04 Nov-10 Nov 2002 15 29 -- 90 21 69 --
11 Nov-18 Nov 2002 12 40 1 75 28 70 --
19 Nov-24 Nov 2002 15 116 -- 94 1 46 --
23 Dec-29 Dec 2002 10 26 1 168 17 25 --

During 9 September-13 October glowing avalanches flowed 25-250 m toward Nanitu river (West Siau), and toward Beha river as far as 400 m from the crater rim. By the week of 14-20 October, the lava avalanches extended ~1.5 km toward the Nanitu river, 1.0 km toward the Beha river (West Siau), and 750 m toward the Kahetang river.

On 12 September loud noises were accompanied by a 50-m-high gray ash plume. During 5-6 October, there were 2 volcanic tremor events. On 19 October at 1759 an explosion ejected glowing material to a height of 500 m; it landed inside the crater. A gray-black ash plume reached up to 750 m, drifted to the N, and fell on the sea.

Activity decreased during November, and loud sounds were rarely heard. On 15 November at 0248 an ash explosion produced glowing material up to ~200 m that fell around the crater. Some of the material entered the Batang, Beha, and Keting rivers, located 300-350 m away. Ash fell around Salili, Beong, Hiu, Ondong, Pehe, and Paniki villages to the SW. The Alert Level remained at level 3 through at least 29 December (on a scale of 1 to 4).

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

Information Contacts: Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI), Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/).


Kerinci (Indonesia) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuous emissions through December 2002

Emissions were continuous through at least late October 2002 (table 4). During most of the period 9 September-27 October a "white-thin ash plume" rose 50-400 m and drifted toward the W or SW. No ashfall was reported. Kerinci remained at Alert Level 2 (on a scale of 1-4). No further reports were issued during 2002.

Table 4. Earthquakes registered at Kerinci during 9 September-27 October 2002. Courtesy VSI.

Date B-type volcanic Emission Tectonic
09 Sep-15 Sep 2002 3 Continuous 7
16 Sep-22 Sep 2002 4 Continuous 8
23 Sep-29 Sep 2002 1 Continuous 5
30 Sep-06 Oct 2002 1 Continuous 4
07 Oct-13 Oct 2002 2 Continuous 16
14 Oct-20 Oct 2002 -- Continuous 2
21 Oct-27 Oct 2002 -- Continuous --

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: Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI), Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/).


Krakatau (Indonesia) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity dominated by volcanic earthquakes through at least December 2002

During 9 September through at least late December 2002, seismicity at Krakatau was dominated by A-and B-type volcanic earthquakes (table 2). Throughout the report period, clouds obscured the view of the summit. Krakatau remained at Alert Level 2.

Table 2. Earthquakes registered at Krakatau during 9 September-29 December 2002. No data were available during 16-29 September. Courtesy VSI.

Date A-type volcanic B-type volcanic Tectonic
09 Sep-15 Sep 2002 2 6 3
30 Sep-06 Oct 2002 8 31 6
07 Oct-13 Oct 2002 30 109 6
14 Oct-20 Oct 2002 18 64 3
21 Oct-27 Oct 2002 7 55 5
28 Oct-03 Nov 2002 8 54 11
04 Nov-10 Nov 2002 28 56 5
11 Nov-18 Nov 2002 2 31 5
02 Dec-08 Dec 2002 16 50 5
09 Dec-15 Dec 2002 13 53 13
16 Dec-22 Dec 2002 6 32 1
23 Dec-29 Dec 2002 11 59 2

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: Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI), Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/).


Lokon-Empung (Indonesia) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Lokon-Empung

Indonesia

1.358°N, 124.792°E; summit elev. 1580 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Higher-than-normal activity continues through at least December 2002

Higher-than-normal activity continued at Lokon-Empung during August-December 2002. Throughout the report period a "white-thin ash plume" rose 25-75 m above the crater rim. No ashfall was reported. Seismicity was dominated by shallow volcanic and tectonic earthquakes (table 4).

Table 4. Earthquakes recorded at Lokon during 5 August-29 December 2002. No reports were issued during 11 November-22 December. Courtesy VSI.

Date Deep volcanic (A-type) Shallow volcanic (B-type) Tectonic
05 Aug-11 Aug 2002 19 42 32
12 Aug-18 Aug 2002 9 11 35
19 Aug-25 Aug 2002 14 51 42
26 Aug-01 Sep 2002 19 53 28
02 Sep-08 Sep 2002 14 39 32
09 Sep-15 Sep 2002 18 50 33
16 Sep-22 Sep 2002 16 37 39
23 Sep-29 Sep 2002 2 18 46
30 Sep-06 Oct 2002 9 17 39
07 Oct-13 Oct 2002 5 7 35
14 Oct-20 Oct 2002 5 4 29
21 Oct-27 Oct 2002 6 25 44
28 Oct-03 Nov 2002 0 1 35
04 Nov-10 Nov 2002 1 4 26
23 Dec-29 Dec 2002 29 74 31

During the week of 4-10 November, the hazard status was reduced from Alert Level 2 to 1 (on a scale of 1-4). On 23 December a "white-thick ash plume" rose 100-250 m over Tompaluan crater. No ashfall was reported. [A later report did note ashfall.] The same day, volcanic tremor with an amplitude of 0.5-2 mm occurred. A total of 42 emissions were reported during 23-29 December. The Alert Level returned to 2 by the end of the report period.

Geologic Background. The twin volcanoes Lokon and Empung, rising about 800 m above the plain of Tondano, are among the most active volcanoes of Sulawesi. Lokon, the higher of the two peaks (whose summits are only 2 km apart), has a flat, craterless top. The morphologically younger Empung volcano to the NE has a 400-m-wide, 150-m-deep crater that erupted last in the 18th century, but all subsequent eruptions have originated from Tompaluan, a 150 x 250 m wide double crater situated in the saddle between the two peaks. Historical eruptions have primarily produced small-to-moderate ash plumes that have occasionally damaged croplands and houses, but lava-dome growth and pyroclastic flows have also occurred. A ridge extending WNW from Lokon includes Tatawiran and Tetempangan peak, 3 km away.

Information Contacts: Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI), Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/).


Lopevi (Vanuatu) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Lopevi

Vanuatu

16.507°S, 168.346°E; summit elev. 1413 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Anomalous SO2 emissions detected by satellite in December 2002 and January 2003

Satellite data interpreted by Simon Carn indicate that anomalous degassing may have begun from a volcano in Vanuatu in mid-December 2002. SO2 signals were noted in data from both the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME) on the ERS-2 satellite and the Earth Probe Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS). Although GOME is more sensitive to SO2 than TOMS, its spatial resolution is very poor, so distinguishing the source of emissions between Ambrym and Lopevi is impossible using the available imagery.

However, on 14 December John Seach noted a strong sulfurous smell on the W side of Ambrym caldera. The wind was blowing from the direction of Lopevi at the time, and white emissions were noticed on Lopevi's active crater on the NW flank of the volcano. Seach did not note unusual emissions from Ambrym during his 11-15 December 2002 visit, so the editors are attributing this activity to Lopevi unless other data are found that identify Ambrym as the source.

GOME data indicate SO2 emissions over Vanuatu on 13, 19, 22, and 25 December 2002, then again during 4, 7, 11, 14, 17, and 20 January 2003. Data are only collected every third day, so degassing could be continuous, with a possible lull in late December. After 11 January GOME signals became very weak. TOMS data also indicated SO2 originating from the region on 19, 21, and 25 December, and again during 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 January, with nothing really evident since then. On a couple of days, particularly 4 January, the anomaly seen in TOMS imagery seemed to be originating from Ambrym.

The SO2 mass detected by TOMS immediately E of Lopevi and Ambrym on 8 January was estimated at less than 5,000 tons, a low value. Combining the two datasets indicates that the most significant SO2 emissions occurred around 25 December 2002 and 4-11 January 2003. After mid-January the activity seemed to be tapering off.

Geologic Background. The small 7-km-wide conical island of Lopevi, known locally as Vanei Vollohulu, is one of Vanuatu's most active volcanoes. A small summit crater containing a cinder cone is breached to the NW and tops an older cone that is rimmed by the remnant of a larger crater. The basaltic-to-andesitic volcano has been active during historical time at both summit and flank vents, primarily along a NW-SE-trending fissure that cuts across the island, producing moderate explosive eruptions and lava flows that reached the coast. Historical eruptions at the 1413-m-high volcano date back to the mid-19th century. The island was evacuated following major eruptions in 1939 and 1960. The latter eruption, from a NW-flank fissure vent, produced a pyroclastic flow that swept to the sea and a lava flow that formed a new peninsula on the western coast.

Information Contacts: Simon A. Carn, TOMS Volcanic Emissions Group, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (NASA/UMBC), University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA (URL: https://jcet.umbc.edu/); John Seach, PO Box 16, Chatsworth Island, NSW 2469, Australia (URL: http://www.volcanolive.com/).


McDonald Islands (Australia) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

McDonald Islands

Australia

53.03°S, 72.6°E; summit elev. 230 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Significant morphological changes due to eruptive activity

Accounts from ship-based observers and satellite imagery have revealed significant morphological changes to McDonald Island due to volcanic activity prior to 6 November 2001. A comparison of November 2001 satellite imagery with 1980 aerial photographs was described in AUSGEO News 68 (December 2002). Tourist reports were published in the Australian Antarctic Division's Antarctic Non-government Activity News (ANAN), no. 89 (January 2003). Geoscience Australia's National Mapping reports the elevation of McDonald Island as 230 m, but the activity described below has most likely increased this value.

A photograph taken on 9 November 2000 (BGVN 26:02) was similar to previous photos and descriptions. In addition, thermal alerts for nearby Heard Island occurred frequently in November and December 2000, an indication not only of eruptive activity there, but clear weather during which any significant activity at McDonald would likely have been detected in infrared satellite imagery. Combined, these observations place the eruptive activity after 9 November 2000, and probably after 30 December 2000.

Analysis of 6 November 2001 satellite imagery. A routine check of Australia's maritime boundaries in the Southern Ocean by Geoscience Australia showed that the McDonald Islands had doubled in size, and it appears that the separate islands of McDonald Island and Flat Island are now one. Geoscience Australia's Bill Hirst was comparing an aerial photograph of the McDonald Islands taken on 11 March 1980, with satellite imagery from Landsat 7 EGM data acquired on 6 November 2001, when he noticed that the islands had changed shape (figure 6). The islands earlier combined area of 1.13 km2 is now thought to have changed to 2.45 km2. Some features have disappeared.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Aerial photograph of the McDonald Islands taken on 11 March 1980 from a helicopter (left) and satellite imagery from Landsat 7 EGM data acquired on 6 November 2001 (right). The outline of the islands in 1980 is superimposed on the satellite image. Courtesy of Geoscience Australia.

The senior surveyor onshore during a 6-day visit in 1980 was Geoscience Australia's John Manning, who named many features of the McDonald Islands. He noted that "Thelander Point doesn't appear to be an appropriate name now, Williams Bay seems to be filled in, and The Needle may be gone . . . Windward Point is no longer a point because there are about 400 m of new land in front of it. The tumultuous bay I called Cauldron is now full of rock, and Flat Island is probably joined to McDonald Island by a shingle comprising gravel and pumice." Other new features appear to be a volcanic hill and a spit to the E of the island similar to one on Heard Island. Macaroni Hill was once the highest point.

Observations in late November 2002. Experienced observers noted changes to the McDonald Island group in late November 2002 from on board the Akademic Shokalskiy, which was visiting the Heard Island region on a voyage organized by the New Zealand-based tour company Heritage Expeditions. A comparison of old and new photographs of the area shows that the N part of the island is much higher than before, and 75% of the land area that is now there may be completely new. During the last five years Australian national program vessels that have observed the McDonald group have reported seeing steam issuing from vents at various locations.

Three of the passengers on the Akademic Shokalskiy had worked on Heard Island in the 1950's and 1960's, and one of them, Graham Budd, was one of the first two people to set foot on McDonald Island, in 1971. When the ship was travelling towards Heard Island en route from Crozet early on the morning of 26 November, Budd noticed the changed profile of the McDonald islands and expedition leader Rodney Russ decided to take a closer look after the end of the visit to Heard Island. It was not possible to sail too close to the islands because the water around them is uncharted. Under Australian management plans for McDonald Island, landings cannot be made there without a permit and only then for "compelling scientific reasons."

On the second sail past the island, passengers observed steaming slopes and "two types of lava dome." The highest part of the islands was now at the N end, not in the S at Maxwell Hill as it had been previously. Analysis of enlarged digital photographs taken by passengers indicates that considerable sedimentation has occurred along the coastline, such that the formerly separate Flat Island is now joined to the main island. It also appears that several meters of ash have blanketed the N half of McDonald Island, and Macaroni Hill at its N end has disappeared. A low-lying spit and reef now extend over 1 km E of McDonald Island.

Although it is not certain when the activity occurred, wildlife did not appear to have been affected. Penguins were still nesting up to the top of Maxwell Hill and on ash-covered remnants of the old land inshore of the new spit. The birds appear to have deserted Flat Island. There were a large number of penguins and seals on the beaches, and several dozen fur seals swimming offshore.

The two geologists on the voyage, Australian Jon Stephenson and New Zealander Margaret Bradshaw, believe that a scientific visit should be made so that the sequence of the new volcanic events and the composition of the lavas can be determined. The Australian national program currently plans to conduct a scientific program on Heard Island during the 2003-04 austral summer, but currently has no plans to do land-based research on McDonald Island.

MODVOLC Thermal Alerts. Following the distribution of the above reports via the Volcano Listserv, David Rothery and Diego Coppola (The Open University) searched for "thermal alerts" at McDonald Island using the MODIS Thermal Alerts website (http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/). This system is the first truly global high-temperature thermal monitoring system. It is capable of detecting and documenting changes in active lava flows, lav domes, lava lakes, strongly incandescent vents, and hot pyroclastic flows. No alert is likely to be triggered by an ash cloud.

As described by Flynn et al. (2001) and Wright et al. (2002), the MODIS Thermal Alerts website provides a series of maps updated every 24 hours to show "thermal alerts" based on night-time (approximately 2230 local time) infrared data from a 1-km-resolution instrument called MODIS that is carried by NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. Thermal alerts are based on an "alert ratio" (3.9 µm radiance - 12 µm radiance) / (3.9 µm radiance + 12 µm radiance), and an alert is triggered whenever this ratio has a value more positive than -0.8. This threshold value was chosen empirically by inspection of images containing known volcanic sites at high temperature, and is the most negative value that avoids numerous false alarms. There are also some daytime (approximately 1030 local time) alerts that are based on the same algorithm but incorporating a correction for estimated solar reflection and a more stringent threshold whereby the alert ratio is required to be more positive than -0.6 in order to trigger an alert.

Thermal alert data are available for the region including McDonald Island from 13 May 2000 onwards (with a gap 26 May-2 June 2000). No thermal alert occurred at McDonald Island from 13 May 2000 through 30 January 2003. This null result does not prove that the activity must have occurred before 13 May 2000, because MODIS cannot see through cloud, which is common in that region. However, there were multiple thermal alerts for nearby Heard Island during the same period (24 May; 3, 5, and 6 June; 25 September; 29 October; 5, 15, 19, and 24 November; 16, 17, 26, and 30 December 2000; 2 February 2001). Had McDonald been active on the same dates, it is highly likely that this activity would have been detected at least once.

Climate and Biology. The following is taken from the AUSGEO News report. The McDonald Islands are remote, and people have landed on the islands only twice since a British sealer sighted them in November 1833. The islands have cliff-lined coasts and are surrounded by rocky shoals and reefs that are treacherous for boats and landing parties. They lie in stormy seas where temperate water from the Indian Ocean meets icy Antarctic water. Most days are cloudy, making it very difficult to obtain satellite imagery and photographs of the islands. Maximum temperatures average 3°C, and wind gusts can reach 210 km/hour. Two Australian scientists looking for fur seals made the first landing in 1970, a 20-minute visit, by helicopter from the French Antarctic ship Gallieni. The second landing, in March 1980, was from the Cape Pillar, chartered by National Mapping to survey the Heard Island-Kerguelen region. The small shore party, which included a botanist, biologist, geologist, and surveyor, landed by helicopter and amphibious vehicle. They stayed ashore for six days while the ship sailed its survey lines.

The McDonald Islands were designated a World Heritage site in December 1997 because of their pristine sub-Antarctic ecosystems and geological activity. Local waters are teaming with Patagonian toothfish, Mackerel icefish, Grey rockcod, and Unicorn icefish. Colonies of Macaroni and Gentoo penguins breed and feed from these islands.

References. Flynn, L.P., Wright R., Garbeil, H., Harris, A.J.L., and Pilger, E., 2001, A global thermal alert system using MODIS: initial results from 2000-2001: Advances in Environmental Monitoring and Modelling, no. 3, Monitoring volcanic hotspots using thermal remote sensing, edited by Harris, A.J.L., Wooster, M.J. and Rothery, D. A. (Http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ kis/schools/hums/geog/advemm/vol1no3.html).

Wright, R., Flynn, L., Garbeil, H., Harris, A., and Pilger, E., 2002, Automated volcanic eruption detection using MODIS: Remote Sensing of Environment, v. 82, p. 135-155.

Geologic Background. Historical eruptions have greatly modified the morphology of the McDonald Islands, located on the Kerguelen Plateau about 75 km W of Heard Island. The largest island, McDonald, is composed of a layered phonolitic tuff plateau cut by phonolitic dikes and lava domes. A possible nearby active submarine center was inferred from phonolitic pumice that washed up on Heard Island in 1992. Volcanic plumes were observed in December 1996 and January 1997 from McDonald Island. During March of 1997 the crew of a vessel that sailed near the island noted vigorous steaming from a vent on the N side of the island along with possible pyroclastic deposits and lava flows. A satellite image taken in November 2001 showed the island to have more than doubled in area since previous reported observations in November 2000. The high point of the island group had shifted to the McDonald's N end, which had merged with Flat Island.

Information Contacts: Bruce Hull, Senior Environment Officer, Environmental Management & Audit Unit, Australian Antarctic Division, Environment Australia, Channel Highway, Kingston, Tasmania 7050, Australia (URL: http://www.antarctica.gov.au/environment); AUSGEO News and National Mapping, Geoscience Australia, GPO Box 378, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia (URL: http://www.ga.gov.au/); David A. Rothery and Diego Coppola, Department of Earth Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK 6AA, United Kingdom.


Pinatubo (Philippines) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Pinatubo

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Likely 2001 overflow controled by cross-rim trenching

Pinatubo's catastrophic 1991 eruption left the volcano with a 2.5-km-wide summit caldera that eventually came to contain a lake (table 8). During 2001 a crisis occurred as the lake's surface neared the low point on the caldera's rim. PHIVOLCS provided a detailed report on trenching and release of lake water to avoid catastrophic breakout of the crater lake. The report that is summarized here was authored and contributed by Ma. Antonia V. Bornas and the Quick Response Team. The brief version given here omits the lengthy list of Team members as well as several figures and the references.

Table 8. Pinatubo crater-lake-water surface level through time and computed monthly and average lake-rise increments. See the original report for data sources. Courtesy PHIVOLCS.

Date Elevation Maraunot freeboard Monthly average Cumulative monthly average Annual average
June 1991 780.0 180.00 -- -- --
June 1995 830.0 130.00 1.042 -- 12.50
June 1997 855.0 105.00 1.042 2.083 12.50
07 May 1998 915.0 45.00 5.455 7.538 65.45
27 Apr 1999 933.0 27.00 1.589 9.127 19.06
10 May 2000 942.0 18.00 0.726 9.853 8.72
28 Jun 2000 944.0 16.00 1.250 11.103 --
05 Aug 2000 945.7 14.30 1.339 12.442 --
16 Aug 2000 945.9 14.10 0.541 12.982 --
16 Sep 2000 948.4 11.60 2.500 15.482 --
13 Oct 2000 948.7 11.35 0.278 15.760 --
23 Nov 2000 949.2 10.78 0.432 16.192 --
27 Dec 2000 949.7 10.33 0.500 16.692 --
27 Jun 2001 953.5 6.50 0.638 17.330 --
11 Jul 2001 955.0 5.00 1.327 18.657 15.17
Average -- -- 1.166 -- 13.23

Mount Pinatubo's summit caldera lake surface rose 40 m between May 1998 and July 2001. By July 2001 lake water approached the caldera rim's lowest point, the Maraunot Notch (~960 m elevation). Its surface then stood at 955 m elevation, 5 m below the notch.

The record of the crater lake's rise implied overtopping of Maraunot Notch in the last quarter of 2001. A breach at Maraunot could lead to rapid escape of lake water into an area of abundant unconsolidated pyroclastic deposits (figure 35). Such an event would threaten upriver towns as well as the larger Botolan, Zambales (population ~40,000).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Digital terrain map of the NW Pinatubo quadrant, showing the Maraunot Notch and the contiguous Maraunot-Balin-Baquero-Bucau river system. Botolan town proper and upriver villages are shown. Digital elevations are from the PHIVOLCS-GIS lab. Sources include USGS (1991), Philippine Bureau of Mines (1983), and Fire and Mud (1996). Courtesy PHIVOLCS.

The beheaded upper Maraunot river sits on the NW flank (figure 36) and flows 15 km NW into the Balin-Baquero river. Lahars have long threatened to inundate Botolan town proper. As with the 1991 pyroclastic flows, lahars obliterated villages in the Balin-Baquero and Bucao valleys (e.g. Villar, Burgos, and Poonbato).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Oblique aerial photograph showing the Pinatubo crater, the Maraunot Notch, and the Maraunot-Bucao river system (looking NW) as seen in 2000. Photo courtesy of S. Suto, PHIVOLCS.

Notch and dam characteristics. The valley of the Maraunot Notch contains 150-m-high walls composed of dome rocks and lithified block-and-ash deposits, cut by steep NW- and E-trending faults. Dome rocks also crop out within the first kilometer-long reach of the Maraunot channel and are inferred to form its bedrock. Less competent deposits fill the valley floor and edge off abruptly at the crater, damming the crater lake. This dam is approximately 85 m wide at the edge or crest but narrows as it slopes 8° down-valley to its toe at a prominence of dome rock 70 m away and 10 m below the crest (the nose).

Comprising the dam are a lower pre-1991 terrace of three boulder-rich breccia units and an upper sequence of 1991 deposits. Pre-1991 breccia units are poorly indurated and contain dense dacite-andesite clasts (median diameter, 10-15 cm) in coarse (B1) or fine (B2) ash or coarse sand (B3) matrix. Exposures of the dam in 1998 indicated that pre-1991 breccia may be as much as 14 m thick at the crest. The units also occur as in-channel terraces along the first 700-m reach of the Maraunot River. An overlying 1991 eruption sequence also occurs. It is unconsolidated and up to several meters thick, but has been gullied down to a meter thick along the channel thalweg, creating a 5 m-wide natural spillway at the dam's axis. Thus, unconsolidated 1991 eruption deposits at the dam's upper part left it vulnerable to rapid erosion and possible catastrophic breach.

A potential breach was expected on the occasion of intense rainfall. Dam failure was thought to be potentially initiated by erosion or headcutting of 1991 deposits where the valley narrows or "noses" and the channel drops. The removal of material would lead to increasing flow perimeter and head, which would increase discharge and weaken the dam. Discharge would escalate into a tremendous rush of water, accelerating erosion headward in a runaway process that culminated in dam failure. This same process has been documented in numerous cases of overtopped natural and man-made dams that have breached.

In the worst case, a 10- to 20-m-depth of the channel dam corresponding to the vertical gap between the crest and shallow channel bedrock could have been breached, releasing lake volumes of 28 x 106 to 55 x 106 m3. For a 10- to 20-m-deep breach, estimated peak discharges at the breach in such a circumstance are 3,000 and 11,000 m3/s. The breakout flow would be expected to erode and incorporate pyroclastic-flow and lahar sediments at the mid- to lower reaches of the Maraunot River, causing it to bulk up 3-6 times. Resulting large lahars could reach 3- to 7-fold larger distances than in previous typhoons (e.g. 1993). Faced with this hazard, PHIVOLCS proposed in early August 2001 to trench across the channel dam. This formed the core element of a rapid mitigation plan that included information drives, evacuation of risk areas, and lahar watches.

Trenching took place during 23 August-5 September 2001. The bulk of the trench was manually dug by an 80-man crew using pick axes and shovels and, later, by sluicing with a portable 50 m-long pressure hose. Excavation followed the channel thalweg or the natural spillway from crest to toe of the dam. The fully-excavated trench was 70 m long, 4 m wide, and nearly 3.5 m deep. It contained a 1-m-wide and 1.5-m-deep inner terrace that resulted from belated prioritization of depth over width (figures 37 and 38). Its bottom was originally graded ~2%. At the mouth it sloped steeply into 5 m-long plug that confined the lake until its release. In the end, about 700 m3 of material was excavated. On 4 September, observers were stationed at four sites. Evacuation of Botolan began the following day in anticipation of potential lahars.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Oblique photo of Pinatubo's Maraunot Trench looking NE, taken the day before the channel was opened. Inset shows the mouth on 1 September 2001, ~ 2 m above the lake level; bottom lefthand inset is the profile of the trench. Courtesy PHIVOLCS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. View showing of the mouth and the terraced inner geometry of the Pinatubo's Maraunot Trench, 6 September 2001. Courtesy PHIVOLCS.

On 6 September, with a 10-cm-head of water, the plug was removed by sluicing. At 0653, after less than 1.25 hours of sluicing, lake water spill into the trench commenced, but discharge remained sluggish in the first four hours (~0.03 m3/s). Political developments led to the trench being left in a state that thwarted rapid, planned breaching.

Monitoring the newly opened trench. From 6 September to 5 November, local rainfall and outflow conditions and changes in configuration of the Maraunot trench were monitored. An estimated 4.4 x 106 m3 (~86,000 m3/day) of rainwater entered the crater between 6 September and 5 November. In response, discharge across the trench fluctuated but rarely exceeded 1 m3/s under a lake head generally under 1 m. The total water output at the trench was roughly 3 x 106 m3 (~59,000 m3/day) for the same period.

Time-series profiles of the trench floor revealed a total 1.5 m of downcutting in the period 8 September-21 October, an average of ~3.5 cm/day. As the terminus lowered close to bedrock and precipitation waned, however, the floor more or less stabilized, as did the trench's mouth-to-terminus elevation drop of 2.2 m. No substantial lateral erosion occurred at the 5-15 reach or in the first 30 m reach between 6 September and 5 November. Nevertheless, there was significant lateral erosion of as much as 2 m at the 55-65 m reaches and beyond. Erosion was attributed largely to the steeper channel and more turbulent flow at the trench's terminal reaches.

The pre-1991 breccia matrix eroded with vertical scour experienced uniformly across the entire floor and lateral scour (sidecutting) confined to the terminal reaches. Matrix erosion resulted in armoring of the trench floor with dense boulders. This partly accounted for restrained vertical scouring.

Trenching impacts to the lake breakout problem. Although the trench did not trigger a rapid breach as PHIVOLCS originally intended, the monitoring determined that the armoring provided by coarse pre-1991 breccia limited vertical scouring of the dam. Lateral matrix erosion and bank collapse were considered to deliver even further armor to the trench bed, as well as some sideways expansion of the channel.

Trenching by itself had significantly reduced the breakout hazard. The lake was averted from growing an extra 11 x 106 m3 and relieved of another 3 x 106 m3 with a trench now draining it. This minimized the magnitude of lake breakout. Had natural overtopping been allowed to occur under sustained intense rainfall, initial outflow could have easily scoured a wider channel across the loose 1991 deposits, attaining discharge rates possibly too high for pre-1991 breccia to counteract with armoring.

Geologic Background. Prior to 1991 Pinatubo volcano was a relatively unknown, heavily forested lava dome complex located 100 km NW of Manila with no records of historical eruptions. The 1991 eruption, one of the world's largest of the 20th century, ejected massive amounts of tephra and produced voluminous pyroclastic flows, forming a small, 2.5-km-wide summit caldera whose floor is now covered by a lake. Caldera formation lowered the height of the summit by more than 300 m. Although the eruption caused hundreds of fatalities and major damage with severe social and economic impact, successful monitoring efforts greatly reduced the number of fatalities. Widespread lahars that redistributed products of the 1991 eruption have continued to cause severe disruption. Previous major eruptive periods, interrupted by lengthy quiescent periods, have produced pyroclastic flows and lahars that were even more extensive than in 1991.

Information Contacts: Ma. Antonia V. Bornas and theQuick Response Team, Geology and Geophysics Research and Development Division, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, C.P. Garcia Ave., University of the Philippines Campus, Diliman 1101, Quezon City, Philippines.


Semeru (Indonesia) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Semeru

Indonesia

8.108°S, 112.922°E; summit elev. 3657 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Elevated explosive activity continues; evacuation on 30 December 2002

Higher-than-normal seismic and explosive activity occurred at Semeru during June-September 2002 (BGVN 27:09). During 9 September-29 December, activity continued to be higher than normal. Seismicity was dominated by explosions and avalanche earthquakes (table 10). Throughout the report period, a white-gray ash plume rose 400-500 m high above the Jonggring Seloko crater rim. There were eight explosions on 23 December, one explosion on 25 December, seven explosions on 26 December, eight explosions on 27 December, and another seven explosions on 29 December.

Table 10. Earthquakes recorded at Semeru during 9 September 2002-1 January 2003. "*" indicates that the report was part of a special report issued by VSI and may break the sequence of weekly reports. Courtesy VSI.

Date Volcanic A-type Volcanic B-type Explosion Avalanche Tremor Tectonic Pyroclastic Flow Flood/lahar
09 Sep-15 Sep 2002 1 -- 640 57 0 2 -- --
16 Sep-22 Sep 2002 1 -- 527 32 4 6 -- --
23 Sep-29 Sep 2002 0 -- 483 24 13 2 -- --
30 Sep-06 Oct 2002 0 -- 602 13 1 7 -- --
07 Oct-13 Oct 2002 -- -- 548 27 1 4 -- --
14 Oct-20 Oct 2002 1 -- 493 20 2 4 -- --
21 Oct-27 Oct 2002 -- 1 561 27 -- 6 -- --
28 Oct-03 Nov 2002 -- -- 430 3 -- -- -- --
04 Nov-10 Nov 2002 -- -- 528 34 2 2 -- --
11 Nov-18 Nov 2002 -- -- 273 27 -- 1 -- --
02 Dec-08 Dec 2002 -- -- 474 13 7 3 3 --
09 Dec-15 Dec 2002 -- -- 513 6 1 1 1 --
16 Dec-22 Dec 2002 -- -- 606 6 1 -- 1 --
03 Dec-16 Dec 2002* 0 0 967 19 8 3 4 0
17 Dec-30 Dec 2002* 0 1 1085 49 2 6 6 3
23 Dec-29 Dec 2002 -- 1 479 43 2 6 3 4
31 Dec 2002* -- -- 83 (47 mm max. amp.) 30 (2 mm max. amp.) 1 (3 mm amp., 80-sec. duration) -- -- 1
01 Jan 2003* -- 3 (2-6 mm amp., 11-12 sec. duration) 88 (36 mm max. amp.) 18 (4 mm max. amp.) 1 (1 mm max. Amp., 60 sec. duration) -- -- --

On 25 December, a pyroclastic flow traveled 2.5 km and entered the Besuk Kembar river. On 27 December lava avalanches traveled 250 m toward Besuk Kembar. On 29 December a 5 km pyroclastic flow occurred. The same day during 1700-2015 a lahar flowed along Besuk Kembar closer to Supit village. Early on the morning of 30 December residents of Supit village were evacuated. The same day at 0720 a pyroclastic flow traveled 2.0 km toward Besuk Kembar and at 1000 a pyroclastic flow traveled 4.0 km, approaching Supit village. Semeru remained at Alert Level 2 (on a scale of 1-4).

Geologic Background. Semeru, the highest volcano on Java, and one of its most active, lies at the southern end of a volcanic massif extending north to the Tengger caldera. The steep-sided volcano, also referred to as Mahameru (Great Mountain), rises above coastal plains to the south. Gunung Semeru was constructed south of the overlapping Ajek-ajek and Jambangan calderas. A line of lake-filled maars was constructed along a N-S trend cutting through the summit, and cinder cones and lava domes occupy the eastern and NE flanks. Summit topography is complicated by the shifting of craters from NW to SE. Frequent 19th and 20th century eruptions were dominated by small-to-moderate explosions from the summit crater, with occasional lava flows and larger explosive eruptions accompanied by pyroclastic flows that have reached the lower flanks of the volcano.

Information Contacts: Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI), Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/).


Stromboli (Italy) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Landslides on 30 December cause two tsunamis; damage in nearby villages

Following heightened seismicity during June-July 2002 that culminated in an explosion on 24 July (BGVN 27:07), major activity lessened until late December.

On 28 December, an effusive eruption started at the base of Crater 1 of the NE Crater in the summit area. This eruption ended on 29 December and a helicopter-borne thermal camera survey that day revealed three lava flows that had spread in the eastern Sciara del Fuoco and had reached the sea. Along the coast, the joined flows were ~300 m wide, but were no longer being fed.

Visibility improved on 30 December, when a new survey found an eruptive fissure running NE. The fissure started from the base of Crater 1 at ~700 m elevation and spread down to ~600 m elevation, along a length of ~200 m. On 30 December observers saw a ~200-m-long lava flow emitted from the base of the fissure, spreading in the upper Sciara del Fuoco into a small depression.

Landslides and tsunami. On 30 December at 1315 and 1322 two landslides formed along the Sciara del Fuoco. They reached the sea accompanied by fine (0.1 mm grain-size) wet dust falling on the SE flank of the island (from rock collisions during the landslides). The volume of the first landslide was estimated at ~6 x 106 m3 of rock while the second was smaller at ~5 x 106 m3 of rock. These landslides detached the lava from the 28 December eruption along the slope together with a large portion of the ground below.

The large volume of rock crashing into the sea caused two tsunamis, each with waves several meters high. The waves spread onto the villages of Stromboli and Ginostra damaging buildings and boats and injuring several people (according to news reports, six people were evacuated by helicopter and taken to two hospitals on Sicily). Large waves were reported on the northern coast of Sicily, 60 km S of Stromboli. The two separate landslides were formed from two distinct bodies of rock, and left a ridge on the Sciara del Fuoco wall between them. This ridge may collapse in the future; its volume is estimated to be similar to that of the first landslide.

As of 6 January 2003, the effusive eruption and thin lava flows continued along the Sciara del Fuoco. Two vents located at ~500 m and ~300 m elevation in the middle of the Sciara del Fuoco were feeding two narrow flows that merged and reached the sea. Occasional small landslides from the unstable walls of the Sciara covered the lava flows with a thin talus. Concern over another major landslide had diminished due to several small-volume rockfalls from the walls of the depression. The summit craters had not shown any explosive activity since the start of the eruption on 28 December, and no earthquakes were recorded by the indigenous seismic network. Two shocks recorded by INGV seismic stations were directly related to the spreading of the two landslides on the Sciara del Fuoco.

Previous tsunamis at Stromboli occurred in 1930, 1944, and 1954. These were related either to paroxysmal eruptive activity, to landslides along the Sciara del Fuoco, or to pyroclastic flows, but not associated with lava flow venting.

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: Sonia Calvari, Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV); Sezione di Catania (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/); Stromboli On-Line (URL: http://www.stromboli.net/).


Tungurahua (Ecuador) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Tungurahua

Ecuador

1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Summary of 2002 activity includes several episodes of intense seismicity

This report presents a summary of activity throughout 2002. During 2002 several episodes of intense seismic activity occurred that shared certain characteristics: clusters of long-period (LP) earthquakes, tremor related to ash emissions, and an increase in VT events on some occasions. Magmatic intrusions during January-March 2002, were generally preceded by LP clusters with dominate frequencies of 3.8 Hz with some oscillating around 1.5-1.6 Hz. Following these clusters, increased tremor occurred, some related to the emission of gas and ash. Eruptive activity included explosions and Strombolian blasts.

In April, activity changed, LP clusters ceased including events with a dominant frequency of 3.8 Hz and began to contain frequencies of ~6 Hz. Since June, VT events seemed to precede LP events or tremor episodes. Precursors of magmatic activity changed slightly. In almost every case, fewer precursory events were registered. Instituto Geofisica (IG) stated that the present eruptive process could be more uncertain than before. In September, the acceleration of processes seemed to indicate variations in internal conditions, such as changes in magma within the conduit, increased temperatures, diminishing percentages of crystals, lower SiO2, and addition of new gases.

During October-November there was none of the intense tremor activity that usually accompanies new magma injections. Energy remained at very low levels. IG stated that a large number of VT events and their decreased influence on volcanic activity could indicate a low contribution of magmatic gases that could be mobilized and released outside the volcano by means of explosions, continuous ash emissions, or Strombolian activity as previously observed. Further details of 2002 activity follow.

Detailed activity. During the first 2 weeks of January 2002 a high number of low-energy LP earthquakes took place. Some of the LP's were associated with emissions of mainly steam with a moderate magmatic gas concentration. During the last 2 weeks of the month the number of LP's increased remarkably. The LP's occurred in clusters, most of which were preceded by VT events at depths of 4-11 km beneath the summit. Beginning on 15 January it was possible to see a glow coming from the crater, accompanied by the emission of gases. While the emissions diminished during the last week of January, explosions increased in number and magnitude. By the end of January sporadic episodes of tremor and light ashfall occurred in Ambato and Baños. These seismic characteristics, along with frequent roaring noises that occurred with the explosions, indicated possible degassing of a small volume of magma that entered the conduit beginning on 15 January.

During February magma injection apparently disturbed the system, and new gases ascended. Steam and ash emissions occurred, as well as the possible formation of a lava lake. Strombolian activity during 4-18 February was so strong that pyroclastic flows (PF's) descended the WNW flank along the Juive and Cusua valleys. Seismicity was characterized by LP's, tremor related to emissions, a few volcano-tectonic events (VT's), and small explosions.

During the first 3 weeks of March there was Strombolian activity with emissions of lava, gas, and ash, and almost-continuous roaring noises. During the third week of March, activity diminished in intensity until it disappeared almost completely by the last week of the month. Although incandescence was observed at night, it was not as intense as that observed in previous months. Ashfall occurred in Ambato, Quero, Latacunga, Cusua, Chacauco, Penipe, Peula, Patate, Pelileo, Cotaló, and Pillate.

Most of the LP's registered during April were small and rather sporadic, but frequency content changed on 17 April from 4-4.8 Hz to 6-8 Hz. On 22 and 23 April, VT events at 6-8 km depths were followed by strong gas-and-ash emissions. These became quite intense during 24-30 April.

Activity was quite intense during 12-13 and 28-30 May. On 13 May a total of 8 explosions took place, preceded by an increase in the number of LP events. The same day ashfall occurred in Ambato and Baños. On 24 May VT activity took place just before an increase in explosive activity. During 17-26 May explosions were preceded by VT events, and by 30 and 31 May were preceded by LP events. As of the second week of May Strombolian activity, roaring noises, and incandescence in the crater was intense and almost constant. Lava was present in the crater, accompanied by tremor and ongoing emissions. During the last week of the month a continuous gas-ash column drifted mainly W.

During the last week of June intense tremor registered. The tremor occurred for 3 days and contained dominant frequencies of 2.2-2.7 and 1.5 Hz. Tremor lasted up to an hour with an amplitude that saturated seismographs. Many LP's and explosions accompanied the tremor. During June VT events (4-7 km deep) occurred just before tremor and LP events. Several LP's and tremor episodes preceded explosive events. On average the LP's and tremor occurred 2-4 hours before an explosion.

Explosions occurred during the first week of July. During the first 2 weeks, deep VT earthquakes (5-10 km deep) occurred at a rate of ~1 per day and there was an increase in the number of LP's and hybrid earthquakes. VT and LP events preceded new cycles of explosions, not immediately as had previously been noticed, but in this case by about 15 days. After the new cycle of explosive activity began, most of the LP events had frequencies of 1.5-2.5 Hz. Some VT's preceded the LP's and had frequencies of 3.8 and 1.5 Hz. During the second week intense roars were heard, and increasing ash emissions mainly drifted W. There was strong persistent incandescence, and frequent explosions produced loud noises and ash columns 2-4 km above the crater.

During the first 2 weeks of July, several episodes of Strombolian activity were observed, along with continuous but light ash emissions that were accompanied by roaring noises. Ash was deposited in a thin N-S strip between Hualcango and San Pedro de Sabañag (S of Quero), extending toward the W and Igualata. Ash accumulated up to 2.5 mm thick in "El Mirador" at Cerro Arrayán. Activity decreased toward the end of the month, when small plumes were emitted.

During 5-13 September, 8-10 VT earthquakes registered. These preceded the harmonic tremor seen during 13-21 September. Strong explosions and ash emissions also occurred. Ashfalls were noted in distant cities such as Píllaro and Riobamba, located ~30 km NW and SW, respectively.

During the first week of October explosions with reduced displacements greater than 10 cm2 took place and ashfall occurred in Pillate, Ambato, Cusua, Penipe, Altar, Bayusig, Matus Alto, and Matus Bajo. During the second and last week of the month VT events preceded explosions. During the last week of the month incandescence and roaring noises were heard. Three ashfalls were noted, two in Guadalupe and one (on 29 October) in Baños (up to 1 mm), Runtún, Pondoa, and Pintitin.

On 10 and 26 November, two peaks of LP activity occurred that were very close to the peaks of VT activity. The first LP peak preceded the first VT peak by two days. This was unusual because the VT peak normally preceded the LP peak. The second LP peak took place around the same time as the VT peak, indicating that the circulation of fluids was almost simultaneous. Incandescence was observed before the VT activity on 26 November. An increase of LP activity seemed to be correlated with the increase of sounds emitted by the volcano. Frequent incandescence in the crater preceded a VT peak.

Magmatic intrusions during 2002. Five magmatic intrusions (figure 18) apparently occurred during (1) 15-29 January, (2) 15-30 April, 12-13, 24-30 May, (3) 28-30 June, (4) 3-13 July, and (5) 5-13 September. Two periods of intense activity also occurred during 8-13 and 21-27 October, and on 10 and 26 November. During April-June magmatic intrusions did not occur along with a peak of seismic activity, but VT's, hybrids, and emissions all occurred, though in smaller numbers than registered in previous years.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Monthly earthquakes at Tungurahua during January 1999-November 2002. Peaks indicated with arrows correspond to periods of inferred magmatic intrusion. Courtesy IG.

Tremor activity was an essential indicator of these magmatic intrusions (figure 19). Later peaks of tremor activity were always during periods of seismicity related to magmatic intrusions, although it was not clear whether the June peak was related to a possible intrusion. Tremor energy was quite variable.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Tremor energy at Tungurahua, 14 September 1999 through 14 November 2002. Many of these tremor episodes were related to small emissions of gas or ash. Arrows indicate 2002 peaks. Courtesy IG.

Deformation measurements. During 2002 EDM measurements on the N flank showed a slight tendency of inflation. This inflation was first noticed during the first half of 2000. During 2002 a shortening of the distance occurred between prisms and reference bases, between -2 and -6 cm with respect to values observed before the reactivation of the volcano. Although there were variations in measurements taken during the year, the overall tendency has been inflation of 4 to 6 cm with respect to that during 1998-2000.

Data from inclinometers RETU and JUIV show a positive drift of the radial axis of station RETU (elevation 4,000 m). The drift would mean a deflation in the NW sector. During September 2002, when numerous explosions occurred, inclinometer movements changed.

During 2002 measurements of the inclinometer at station JUIV5 were stable until October 2002, when there were disturbances in the radial axis and to a greater degree in the tangential axis. Since 10 November both axes showed significant changes of up to 200 µrad. The negative tendency indicated a progressive inflation. This change agreed exactly with the first LP peak on 10 November. The change lasted until 20 November and included the greater peak of VT activity during 2002. After 20 November, both axes became stabilized. The oscillations seen in this slope between September and October occurred simultaneously with other activity, possibly representing slow but continuous magma movement in the lower parts of the volcano.

Geochemistry. SO2 flux measurements determined by COSPEC during 1999-2002 were generally less than 2,000 tons/day (figure 20). The peaks took place during March and October, with values reaching 3,000-5,000 tons/day. These high values seemed to correspond with the magma injections of December 2001and January and September 2002. Other episodes of seismic activity related to magmatic injection seemed to precede the peaks in SO2 emission. The high point in August ("3 y 4" on figure 14), followed increased seismicity during June and July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. COSPEC-measured SO2 emissions at Tungurahua during 1999-2002. The arrows indicate the peaks of SO2 that occurred during May and August 2002.

Thermal waters generally increased in temperature ~0.5°C. A small reduction in pH occurred, with a tendency toward alkaline values. During 1998-99, when the seismicity increased, pH also increased, probably because of the magmatic unrest at the time. Conductivity did not change, and neither did geochemical characteristics such as abundances of sulfates, chlorides, and bicarbonates. IG stated that it could not yet be explained how an increase in seismicity seemed to shift the pH of thermal waters (figure 21).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Temperature and pH of thermal waters at Tungurahua during 1994-2002. Courtesy IG.

Future scenarios. Since 1999 Tungurahua has shown frequent, moderate volcanism with occasional lava emissions. This period can be divided into 13 magmatic intrusions of similar characteristics, although the last three injections displayed slight differences. Starting in 1916 Tungurahua displayed intermittent activity until 1918, with periods of tranquility and greater activity than at present.

The present process has been characterized by LP clusters just before and during eruptions. During October and November 2002, VT events usually preceded cycles of increased activity. Strong incandescence on 2 December was not accompanied by strong explosions, Strombolian activity, or lava emissions.

Geologic Background. Tungurahua, a steep-sided andesitic-dacitic stratovolcano that towers more than 3 km above its northern base, is one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes. Three major edifices have been sequentially constructed since the mid-Pleistocene over a basement of metamorphic rocks. Tungurahua II was built within the past 14,000 years following the collapse of the initial edifice. Tungurahua II itself collapsed about 3000 years ago and produced a large debris-avalanche deposit and a horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the west, inside which the modern glacier-capped stratovolcano (Tungurahua III) was constructed. Historical eruptions have all originated from the summit crater, accompanied by strong explosions and sometimes by pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached populated areas at the volcano's base. Prior to a long-term eruption beginning in 1999 that caused the temporary evacuation of the city of Baños at the foot of the volcano, the last major eruption had occurred from 1916 to 1918, although minor activity continued until 1925.

Information Contacts: Patty Mothes and Indira Molina, Geophysical Institute (Instituto Geofísico, IG), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Apartado 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador.


Witori (Papua New Guinea) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Witori

Papua New Guinea

5.576°S, 150.516°E; summit elev. 724 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Dacite lava flows, flattened forest, deformation, and faulting

Additional information about Mt. Pago's recent eruption (BGVN 27:07-27:09) has been provided by members of the U.S. Geological Survey's Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP). The team donated to the GVP archives an extensive suite of digital photographs (still and video) taken during August-October 2002. The photographers included the helicopter pilot Alan Cameron (Heli Niugini), and VDAP members Andy Lockhart, Jeff Marso, and Elliot Endo.

In terms of the basic distribution of eruptive products, the August-October 2002 photos (figures 7-16) appeared similar to those shown in earlier reports (BGVN 27:07-27:09). All photos were taken from a helicopter, often during routine observation flights provided by the West New Britain Provincial Government. For scale on some of the photos, Cameron estimated that tree heights ranged from 5-30 m, with the taller trees in the low-lying areas and most of the ones in the photos at the shorter end of that range.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. A false-color Landsat satellite image labeling some key features at Mt. Pago and its vicinity. N is upwards (parallel to the grid lines) and, for scale, Pago lies ~20 km S of the coast at Cape Hoskins. Although the settlement at Hoskins is labeled, several others also lie along the coast, including some E of Lolo volcano. Taken by LANDSAT 7 on 26 May 2002 (path 94, row 64) and provided courtesy of USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. An overview of Pago's N sector taken on 7 October 2002 and showing middle to lower flanks and caldera. The shot was taken from the NW, sighting cross-wise to the aligned chain of recent eruptive vents. Freshly erupted lavas have thus far remained confined within the caldera. The extruded massive dacitic lavas include two lava tongues flowing towards the viewer and a larger lava flow ponded in the distance, banked up against older (1911-18) intra-caldera lavas and the caldera's topographic margins. The wide zone of discolored vegetation continues well beyond both the caldera's topographic margin and the photo's left-hand edge. This and several other features such as a zone of deformation and faulting (lower center) appear less distinct here but are highlighted on later figures. Courtesy of USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Upper NE flanks of Pago highlighting the broad zone of denuded and knocked-down vegetation there. Most of the trees have been laid flat, and there exist occasional cleared-out gullies resembling avalanche chutes, washouts, and lahar paths. Courtesy of the USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. A 16 September 2002 view of Pago, as seen looking SSE towards the summit along the aligned, radial-trending chain of vents. Massive lava flows lie in the foreground. Their extrusive vent sits along the main fissure below the lowest cone, in an area of local degassing and conspicuous yellow deposits. Provided courtesy of USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. A 13 September 2002 photo of Pago's middle-to-upper flanks, including the summit crater and the higher-elevation radial-vent areas. This photo was taken from the NW; in many other photos taken during August-October 2002 white steam plumes tended to obscure the ground. Note the sub-linear swaths of denuded vegetation, particularly two swaths in the left foreground, and the broad area of discolored vegetation in the background behind the fresh lava. The swaths denote the surface traces of recent faults with significant offset, places where existing trees had fallen over. Observation flights in mid- to late September disclosed still further visible, meter-length deformations in this area. Observers inferred that these features reflected a graben formed in the upper portion of a cryptodome. Courtesy of USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. A close-up photo of Pago's ravaged summit crater taken from the N on 16 September 2002. Despite their proximity to the crater, some portions of the cone's flanks appear relatively undisturbed. Although difficult to see at the limited scale and resolution of this rendition, the original image clearly shows that a band of denuded trees remained standing within the highly disturbed zone along the breach. Many trees in a zone farther downslope were knocked flat. Courtesy of USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. A closer view of a portion of Pago's NW outer flanks (seen in figure 3 and part of figure 5) centered on Pago's zone of intense deformation and faulting. The traces of two sub-parallel faults offset the intervening area (D) downward, forming a graben, which crosses the steep sides of older, tree-covered lavas. Farther upslope, the two faults intersect the steaming, lowermost cone (C) at several points (D'' and D'''). Downslope, the two faults join a larger system, which seems to curve back towards the massive lavas (E and E'). The massive lavas (A) discharge at the surface at a point just below A'. Courtesy of USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Preliminary structural interpretation by Elliot Endo of Pago's zone of intense faulting and deformation. In this interpretation, the upslope area contains a graben; the downslope area a thrust or a region of mass wasting. Courtesy of Elliot Endo, USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. A closer view showing Pago's graben deformation feature. Earliest photographs available (~ August 15) show this feature in the early stage of development. The photo was taken looking E on 16 September 2002. For scale, mature trees midway along the fault are 10-15 m in length. Courtesy of the USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Closeup showing the extreme surface roughness of the recent Pago dacite extrusions appearing in an area near the lower vent. Large fractures sub-parallel to the vent developed during extrusion. Offsets along fractures were estimated to be as much as 5-7 m and the height of numerous adjacent points on the lava flow's surface easily varied by a meter. Courtesy of the USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Movie 1. Digital movie of Pago filmed from a helicopter on 6 October 2002 showing the zone of deformation and faulting followed by a views of the lava flows and vents with the summit crater in the distance towards the SSE. Courtesy of the USGS-VDAP. (30 seconds, 10.7 MB MPEG)

During all or part of this August-October 2002 interval, lavas erupted at high rates: 10-20 m3/s. The crystal-poor dacitic lavas were roughly the same as those produced during the ancestral caldera-forming eruption. The same composition had also been consistent for the intervening lavas. By or before the end of October the current eruption had emitted ~60 x 106 m3 to ~100 x 106 m3 of magma. There was some evidence of magma mixing. Available evidence suggested that the magma rose in a dike from source depths of 6-8 km. A vital question was whether a gas-rich eruptive phase might start.

Highlighted in the August-October photos were recent faults and associated surface deformation. These had been documented by Chris McKee (Geophysical Observatory, PNG) who found that these features covered an area on Pago's mid-to-lower NW flanks. In many cases the faults left conspicuous trails marked by swaths of fallen trees across the rainforest (figures 5 and 8). Despite their clear expressions and documentation, a thermal-imaging device found that the faults and adjacent areas generally lacked anomalous high-temperature signals (Steve Saunders, RVO). The obvious exceptions to this occurred where faults cut across either vent areas and their cones or across massive lava flows in the caldera (figure 7). The inferred cause of the faulting and associated deformation was a shallow magmatic intrusion.

The USGS contributors expressed gratitude to their colleagues affiliated with Rabaul Volcano Observatory in Papua New Guinea and the West New Britain Provincial Government who had helped them with field and logistical support.

At the close of 2002 Alan Cameron (Heli Niugini) wrote Endo the following brief note. "Since you left, interest in Mt. Pago seems to have diminished; I have not flown over it for some time. Yesterday I flew a [medical evacution] past it, and smoke, etc. was still rising but the weather was bad and I did not get closer than about a half mile [(~1 km)], so I don't know what it is doing. Hoskins [airport] is still closed to aircraft, and the Talasea [air]strip is often closed due to water over it and the soft surface, so air travel is somewhat unreliable from here."

In the first week of February, Cameron sent another message. "The last time I had a close look at Pago was about a month ago. It still looked to be fairly active in most respects, however there is not much emission of ash now and the lava seems to have slowed, but I think this is on account of the flow being restricted in its exit to the [S]. To my eye it seems that the lava deposit may be increasing in height due to that restriction . . . . I do recall that there is still a great deal of heat from the lava ( I could feel its effect on the helicopter), which supports my feeling that it is building vertically and the lava is still flowing."

Reference. Cooke, R.J.S., 1981, Eruptions at Pago volcano, 1911-1933 (Compiled by R.W. Johnson), in Cooke-Ravian Volume of Volcanological Papers (editor, R.W. Johnson) Geological Survey of Papua New Guinea Memoir 10, 135-46; Printed in Hong Kong by Libra Press Ltd.

Geologic Background. The 5.5 x 7.5 km Witori caldera on the northern coast of central New Britain contains the young historically active cone of Pago. The Buru caldera cuts the SW flank of Witori volcano. The gently sloping outer flanks of Witori volcano consist primarily of dacitic pyroclastic-flow and airfall deposits produced during a series of five major explosive eruptions from about 5600 to 1200 years ago, many of which may have been associated with caldera formation. The post-caldera Pago cone may have formed less than 350 years ago. Pago has grown to a height above that of the Witori caldera rim, and a series of ten dacitic lava flows from it covers much of the caldera floor. The youngest of these was erupted during 2002-2003 from vents extending from the summit nearly to the NW caldera wall.

Information Contacts: Elliot Endo, John Ewert, C. Dan Miller, Andy Lockhart, Jeff Marso, and Chris Newhall, U.S. Geological Survey, David A. Johnston Cascades Volcano Observatory, Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP), 1300 SE Cardinal Ct, Building 10, Suite 100, Vancouver, WA 98683, USA; Alan Cameron, Chief Pilot, Heli Niugini Kimbe, Box 404, Kimbe WNB, Papua New Guinea; Ima Itikarai and Steve Saunders, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Papua New Guinea; Chris Mckee, Port Moresby Geophysical Observatory, PO Box 323, Port Moresby NCD, Papua New Guinea; Hugh Davies, Earth Sciences, University of Papua New Guinea, PO Box 414, University Post Office NCD, 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/).