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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

Klyuchevskoy (Russia) Intermittent moderate gas, steam, and ash emissions; no ash seen after 15 June 2018

Ambae (Vanuatu) Major explosions during March-April 2018 cause heavy ashfall on island; significant lahar damages to infrastructure

Kilauea (United States) Overflows of lava lake in Halema'uma'u crater; Pu'u 'O'o crater floor collapses 30 April 2018; inflation and increased seismicity

San Cristobal (Nicaragua) Moderate explosion on 22 April 2018

San Miguel (El Salvador) Intermittent small ash emissions between 14 January and 30 May 2018

Kirishimayama (Japan) Ash plumes and lava flows at Shinmoedake starting in March 2018; explosion at Iwo-yama

Sabancaya (Peru) Strong, sporadic explosions with ash plumes throughout December 2017-May 2018

Masaya (Nicaragua) Lava lake persists during July 2017-April 2018

Chillan, Nevados de (Chile) Hundreds of ash-bearing explosions; dome appears in crater in mid-December 2017

Marapi (Indonesia) Two explosions during April-May 2018 cause ashfall to the southeast

Nyiragongo (DR Congo) Thermal anomalies show that lava lake remains active through May 2018

Ebeko (Russia) Ash explosions remained frequent through May 2018, with plumes typically rising more than 1 km



Klyuchevskoy (Russia) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Klyuchevskoy

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent moderate gas, steam, and ash emissions; no ash seen after 15 June 2018

The current eruptive period at Klyuchevskoy began in late August 2015 (BGVN 39:10). Lava effusion ended in early November 2016 (BGVN 42:04), but explosive activity continued to be observed through February 2018 (BGVN 43:05). From mid-February through mid-August 2018 moderate to weak gas and steam plumes were observed (figure 29), but no ash plumes were reported after 15 June 2018 (figure 29). The Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) is responsible for monitoring, and is the primary source of information. The Aviation Color Code was lowered from Orange to Yellow during this reporting period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Fumarolic plume rising from the summit of Klyuchevskoy, 15 April 2018. Courtesy of Yu. Demyanchuk (IVS FEB RAS, KVERT).

The Aviation Color Code (ACC) was lowered to Yellow by KVERT on 9 February. On 18 February an ash plume that rose to 5.2 km in altitude was reported by the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). Moderate gas and steam activity was reported on 25 and 29 April, and 2 May 2018. During 7-8 and 10 May KVERT reported that gas, steam, and ash plumes rose to 5.0-5.5 km altitude and extended to 340 km SE; subsequently the ACC was raised back to Orange. Explosions were reported on 14 May with accompanying ash plumes that rose to 10.5 km in altitude. The ash clouds lingered around Klyuchevskoy and surrounding volcanoes for about eight hours before gradually dissipating. Nighttime summit incandescence and a hot avalanche was observed. A diffuse ash plume was reported by KVERT on 6 June that extended 12 km to the W. Another ash plume was visible on 15 June, but decreasing activity resulted in the ACC being lowered to Yellow again on 29 June. Only moderate gas and steam activity was noted through mid-August.

A thermal anomaly was reported over Klyuchevskoy approximately 16 times during this reporting period in February, April, May, June, and August 2018. The number of MIROVA thermal anomalies detected increased in the first half of January 2018, with decreasing and intermittent low-intensity detections in subsequent months (figure 30).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. MODIS thermal anomalies identified in the MIROVA system, plotted as log radiative power for the year ending 24 August 2018. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. Klyuchevskoy (also spelled Kliuchevskoi) is Kamchatka's highest and most active volcano. Since its origin about 6000 years ago, the beautifully symmetrical, 4835-m-high basaltic stratovolcano has produced frequent moderate-volume explosive and effusive eruptions without major periods of inactivity. It rises above a saddle NE of sharp-peaked Kamen volcano and lies SE of the broad Ushkovsky massif. More than 100 flank eruptions have occurred during the past roughly 3000 years, with most lateral craters and cones occurring along radial fissures between the unconfined NE-to-SE flanks of the conical volcano between 500 m and 3600 m elevation. The morphology of the 700-m-wide summit crater has been frequently modified by historical eruptions, which have been recorded since the late-17th century. Historical eruptions have originated primarily from the summit crater, but have also included numerous major explosive and effusive eruptions from flank craters.

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/).


Ambae (Vanuatu) — July 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambae

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Major explosions during March-April 2018 cause heavy ashfall on island; significant lahar damages to infrastructure

Ambae (Aoba) is a large basaltic shield volcano in the New Hebrides arc that has generated periodic phreatic and pyroclastic explosions originating in the summit crater lakes Manaro Lakua and Voui during the last 25 years; the central edifice with the active summit craters is often referred to as Manaro Voui. A pyroclastic cone appeared in Lake Voui during November 2005-February 2006 (figure 30, BGVN 31:12). The volcano remained mostly quiet until an explosive eruption from a new pyroclastic cone in the lake began in mid-September 2017 and lasted through mid-November (BGVN 43:02). Activity included high-altitude ash emissions (9.1 km), lava flows, and Strombolian activity. After a quieter December, ash emissions resumed during January-April 2018. This report summarizes activity from January to June 2018, with information provided by the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), the Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), satellite data from several sources, and social media photographs.

Ongoing steam and intermittent ash emissions were observed during January and February 2018; incandescent ejecta continued from the pyroclastic cone at the summit. An increase in the frequency and volume of ash emissions in March led VMGD to raise the Alert Level to 3 (on a 0-5 level scale) by the middle of the month. Ash plume heights ranged from 3-5 km altitude. Heavy rains on 30 March caused a large lahar that significantly damaged a village on the N side of the island. A high-altitude plume on 31 March was measured at 13.7 km altitude. Significant ashfall around the island caused infrastructure damage and health hazards to humans, livestock, and plants. An explosion in early April produced another high-altitude ash plume observed in satellite imagery at 12.2 km altitude and one of the largest SO2 plumes measured in several years. A major ash plume on 11 April rose to 9.1 km altitude and enveloped much of the island in ash-laden meteoric clouds. The pyroclastic cone growing in Lake Voui had bisected the lake by March, and continued to fill it in. By late May, only two remnants of the lake remained, and a nearby smaller lake was dry. A low-level ash emission in late June signaled the beginning of a new, larger eruptive episode that began on 1 July 2018.

Activity during January-February 2018. The Wellington VAAC reported an ash plume at Ambae on 2 January 2018 drifting E at 3.1 km altitude that dissipated after a few hours. A plume on 8 January estimated at the same altitude resulted in reports of ashfall on the N and NE areas of the island; meteoric clouds prevented observations of the plume. Ongoing steam emissions were reported for the rest of January. On 7 February a continuous ash plume was observed in satellite data at 2.7 km altitude moving N. The following day, it was visible spreading E from the summit. A pilot confirmed observation of the plume continuing to spread to the E at 3.1 km altitude late on 8 February. Another low-level emission on 10 February extended NE at 2.1 km for a few hours. An ash plume on 13 February was clearly visible drifting N in satellite imagery; its altitude was estimated at 3.1 km.

A larger eruption on 16 February generated an ash plume that rose to 4.6 km altitude and initially drifted NE. Continuous ash emission extended as high as 5.5 km through 17 February and drifted SE and then S. By the next day, the constant emissions were still visible in satellite imagery, estimated at 4.6 km altitude; the main plume was drifting E with a remnant moving to the SW, finally dissipating on 19 February (figure 54). Ash emissions were visible in infrared imagery at about 3.9 km altitude on 23 February. Ongoing explosions were observed in the webcam on 23 and 24 February; ash was visible in satellite imagery until the end of the day on 24 February. A brief explosion observed in the webcam around sunrise on 27 February generated a small ash plume that rose to 3.1 km altitude and drifted SE. Moderate sulfur dioxide emissions were recorded a number of times during January and February (figure 55).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. On 18 February 2018, the pyroclastic cone at Ambae had grown significantly since 1 October 2017 (see figure 46 BGVN 43:02) (upper image) and actively ejected pyroclastic material along with magmatic gas and steam (lower image). Courtesy of pilot David Sarginson, Facebook.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. SO2 plumes from Vanuatu's Ambae, Ambrym, and Gaua volcanoes were all substantial enough sometime during January and February 2018 to be recorded by the OMI instrument on NASA's Aura satellite. Emissions on 2 January 2018 (top left) were drifting slowly SW from Ambae (upper plume) and Ambrym (lower plume); only Ambae had a plume drifting W on 11 January (top right); both Ambae and Ambrym SO2 plumes drifted NE on 17 February (bottom left); on 19 February (bottom right) Gaua (top plume) produced an emission that drifted E while Ambae and Ambrym generated SO2 that drifted SW. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Activity during March 2018. The frequency and volume of ash emissions increased significantly during March 2018. Ash plumes were visible in satellite imagery during 3-6 March 2018. The initial plume rose to 3.7 km altitude and drifted NE, rising to 3.9 on 4 March and drifting N. The following day plumes rose to 4.6 km. By 6 March the plume was lower, drifting NW at 2.4 km altitude. A series of continuous low-level ash emissions were visible in satellite and webcam imagery every day from 11-19 March (figure 56). They initially drifted SE and SW and then moved to the W on 15 March at altitudes of generally 2.4-3.1 km, occasionally higher. The plumes drifted N and W during 17-19 March. This increase in ash emissions affecting local villages led VMGD to raise the alert level from 2 to 3 on 18 March 2018. They noted that activity was similar to the previous October but with more sustained ash emissions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Continuous ash emissions from Ambae beginning on 11 March 2018 (10 March UTC shown here) were visible in satellite imagery for over a week. Courtesy of European Space Agency, Copernicus EMS.

Local observers reported an explosion on 21 March that rose to 3.4 km altitude and drifted SW (figures 57-59). Continuous emissions through the end of the month were discernible in either satellite imagery or the webcam each day. Plume altitudes ranged from 3.1 to 4.9 km altitude, drifting in several directions. Significant ashfall began affecting local villages, destroying crops and livestock, and collapsing structures during the second half of March.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. A strong explosion on 21 March 2018 at Ambae produced an ash plume that rose several kilometers above the crater. Ashfall affected villagers in many communities on the island. Image courtesy VMGD Saratamata webcam located 22 km NE on the NE tip of Ambae Island, annotations by Cultur Volcan.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. A major ash plume rose from the crater of the pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui on Ambae on 21 March 2018. Photo courtesy of Robson S Tigona (VMGD), posted on Facebook.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. The dense ash plume from the explosion on 21 March 2018 at Ambae caused significant localized ashfall on the SW of the island as seen from Nduidui wharf in W Ambae. Courtesy of Dan McGarry, Vanuatu Daily Post.

Local news reports on 25 March noted that ejecta from the previous evening was visible over 70 km away to the SW by residents on Espiritu Santo Island, and small amounts of ash fell on Pentecost Island, 60 km SE (figure 60). According to the Vanuatu Independent, Virgin Australia cancelled flights to Vanuatu on 25 March. The New Zealand Defence Force did an aerial survey on 26 March and observed a large ash plume rising several kilometers (figure 61). Radio New Zealand reported on 30 March that large amounts of ashfall and acid rain had damaged crops, water supplies and buildings on Ambae (figures 62). A New Zealand GNS Science volcanologist reported that gardens were covered by ash and limbs on trees were broken. Some of the roofs over buildings and water supplies had collapsed due to the weight of the volcanic ash. Heavy ashfall in the S and NW parts of the island at the end of the month resulted in evacuations of several villages in the affected areas.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Ashfall was observed on Pentecost Island, 60 km SE of Ambae after significant explosions overnight during 24-25 March 2018. Courtesy of Dan McGarry, Vanuatu Daily Post via twitter.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. The New Zealand Defence Force photographed this large ash plume rising from the summit of Ambae during an aerial survey on 26 March 2018. Courtesy of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. Dense volcanic ash fell at the Penama Adventist College (PAC) in Red Cliff on Ambae in late March 2018. The upper image was taken on 14 April 2017, the lower image on 27 March 2018. Photos by John Metojoe, Vanuatu Police Force, and PAC. Courtesy of Philipson Bani (IRD/LMV).

The village of Waluebue on the N side of Ambae was badly damaged by a lahar during the night of 30-31 March. Homes and churches were destroyed from the mud and large boulders in the debris flow. All residents were safely evacuated (figures 63-67).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. A large lahar deposited boulders and damaged many buildings in the village of Waluebue on the N side of Ambae during the night of 30-31 March 2018. Photo courtesy of Clifford Tarisimbi.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. As seen in this example of a building undercut on one side and partially buried on the other, a large lahar damaged many buildings in the village of Waluebue on the N side of Ambae during the night of 30-31 March 2018. Photos courtesy of Clifford Tarisimbi.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. Mud and boulders buried some buildings to the roofline when a large lahar damaged passed through the village of Waluebue on the N side of Ambae during the night of 30-31 March 2018. Photos courtesy of Clifford Tarisimbi.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Boulders a meter or more in diameter destroyed buildings when large lahar traveled through the village of Waluebue on the N side of Ambae during the night of 30-31 March 2018. Photo courtesy of Clifford Tarisimbi.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. Boulders a meter or more in diameter destroyed buildings when large lahar traveled through the village of Waluebue on the N side of Ambae during the night of 30-31 March 2018. Photo courtesy of Clifford Tarisimbi.

A new series of high-altitude ash emissions were reported by the Washington VAAC beginning on 30 March (figure 68). Early reports from satellite images and webcams indicated an ash plume at 6.1 km altitude. This was followed within the hour of confirmation from satellite imagery of the plume at 13.7 km altitude moving NW. By the following morning, two plumes were visible, one drifting S at 6.1 km and a second drifting NW at 13.7 km altitude. Meteoric clouds prevented observations later that day, but by 1 April, intermittent explosions were producing plumes moving E at an estimated altitude of 3.0 km, and SE estimated at 6.1 km altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. A 13.7-km-high ash plume was visible from the VMGD Webcam at Ambae on 31 March 2018. Satellite imagery showed plumes drifting in multiple directions. Courtesy of VMGD.

Activity during April-June 2018. New eruptions occurred overnight during 5-6 April 2018 that generated an ash plume and a large distinct SO2 plume. Meteoric clouds and darkness prevented observation of the ash plume, but the SO2 signal was clearly visible on false-color satellite imagery. The plume initially rose to 7.3 km altitude and drifted W; a few hours later, it rose to 12.2 km. With a Dobson Unit measurement of 52.55 units, it was one of the strongest SO2 plumes measured on the planet since 2015, according to Simon Carn of Michigan Technological University (figure 69). An ongoing eruption was visible in the webcam on 6 April, but meteoric clouds again prevented observation in satellite data. A cluster of lightning strikes was detected by the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) around the reported time of the eruption, according to Simon Carn. Intermittent low-level ash emissions were confirmed in the webcam on 8 April, estimated to be moving NE and E at 3.0-4.9 km altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. The largest SO2 plume recorded since 2015 erupted from Ambae during 5-6 April 2018. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Ash from a continuous low-level eruption during 9-10 April 2018 was clearly visible in the webcam and partly visible in satellite imagery drifting E and NE at 4.3-4.9 km altitude. The SO2 plume from the eruption stretched across most of the South Pacific (figure 70). Ashfall from the plume spread across a large area of the island causing substantial damage in local communities (figures 71 and 72).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. A sulfur dioxide plume from Ambae in Vanuatu stretched across the South Pacific in this 9 April 2018 image from the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Science Center and Simon Carn.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Ashfall from continuous emissions at Ambae during 9-10 April 2018 spread across much of the island, damaging local communities. Image posted on 10 April 2018. Courtesy of Wilfred Woodrow, Facebook.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. Ashfall from continuous emissions during 9-10 April 2018 at Ambae spread across much of the island, damaging local communities. Photo from Ghevin Banga, posted by Bani Philipson (IRD/LMV).

The ash plume height increased significantly on 11 April to 9.1 km altitude and drifted SE according to the Wellington VAAC. Planet Lab images showed the plume covering the N half of the island a short time later (figure 73). The following day, the plume altitude gradually lowered from 4.6 to 1.8 km and drifted N, then NW. Local communities reported intermittent low-level ash emissions and localized ashfall late on 12 April; this was the last report of ash emissions for April. Thick meteoric and ash clouds enveloped much of the island as seen in social media video on 12 April.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Three satellite images from Planet Labs Inc. show the changes at Ambae between September 2017 and April 2018. On 30 September 2017 (top), the pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui was still an island within the lake. By 10 March 2018 (middle), the lake had been divided in two by the growth of the cone, the lake was discolored, and ashfall covered a large area several kilometers in diameter around the lake. A major ash emission on 11 April 2018 (bottom) rose to 9.1 km altitude and covered the N half of the island. Courtesy of Planet Labs Inc. posted on Twitter at Planet@planetlabs.

According to the Vanuatu Daily Post on 16 April 2018, the Council of Ministers for Vanuatu declared their intent to seek help from International Relief Organizations to evacuate the island's population after the latest episodes of extensive ashfall destroyed much of the infrastructure. Photographs from an overflight by VGMD on 21 April 2018 showed the increased size of the pyroclastic cone inside Lake Voui dividing the lake into two segments, one nearly consumed by the cone (figure 74). They reported small eruptions on 23 and 27 April; these were the last ash emissions until the end of June 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Aerial images of the active pyroclastic cone at Ambae were captured by VMGD during an overflight on 21 April 2018. Only dense steam emissions were observed in the view to the E across the summit, and the original Lake Voui was in two segments split by the pyroclastic cone. Courtesy of VMGD.

The thermal activity recorded by the MODVOLC and MIROVA systems corresponded with the observations of explosions and ash emissions. There were MODVOLC thermal alerts issued each month from January through 10 April 2018, with strong, multi-alert periods in February and March; these data were similar to the MIROVA signal for the period, which also showed increased activity during the same time (figure 75).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Data from the MIROVA project show significant pulses of heat flow from Ambae during February-April 2018. Inset photo shows the large ash plume of 9 April as viewed from the VMGD webcam, which corresponds to the largest heat flow in April shown on the graph. Courtesy of MIROVA and VMGD.

By the end of May 2018, Manaro Ngoru, the small water body on the W side of the summit was dry; Lake Voui, divided into two segments by the pyroclastic cone, had a small amount of orange-brown water in the W half, and muddy brown water in the E half (figures 76 and 77). Steam plumes rose continuously from the cone, but no ash emissions were observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. The summit of Ambae on 22 May 2018 was covered with ash over a large area; former Lake Voui was divided in two by the pyroclastic cone, and only a modest steam plume rose from the top of the cone. Manaro Ngoru, the former lake on the W side of the summit, was completely dry. Courtesy of Planet Labs.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. The W side of Lake Voui on Ambae on 29 May 2018 was a small area of dark reddish brown water around the pyroclastic cone. View is to the S. Courtesy of Bani Philipson (IRD/LMV). =

VMGB issued a volcano alert on 7 June 2018, announcing that they had lowered the Alert Level from 3 to 2, due to the reduced activity at Ambae during late April and May. Radio New Zealand reported that on 9 June, the Vanuatu government announced plans to move its Penama Province capital due to the ongoing eruption. The Penama Council agreed to relocate its headquarters from Saatamaa in Eastern Ambae to Loltong in North Pentacost. The Penama Province is one of six in Vanuatu and includes the three islands of Ambae, Maewo, and Pentecost.

The Wellington VAAC issued an ash advisory from a low-level ash emission on 21 June 2018. It was clearly visible in satellite imagery, and rose to 3 km altitude, drifting SE. That was the last activity reported until a large new ash plume was recorded in the webcam on 1 July 2018.

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); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); European Space Agency (ESA), Copernicus (URL: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus; 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/); New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), Wellington, New Zealand (URL: http://www.nzdf.mil.nz/, Twitter: @NZDefenceForce); Vanuatu Daily Post (URL: http://dailypost.vu/news/flash-appeal/article_7c929c1e-dda3-5eab-925b-c814e04eeacb.html); Dan McGarry, Vanuatu Daily Post (Twitter: @dailypostdan); Vanuatu Independent News Magazine, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: https://vanuatuindependent.com/2018/03/26/flight-cancelled-due-to-volcanic-ash/); Simon Carn, Dept of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Dr., Houghton, MI 49931, USA (URL: http://www.volcarno.com/, http://so2.umbc.edu/omi/); 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); Bani Philipson, Observatoire de Physique du Globe de Clermont-Ferrand (OPGC) and Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (IRD), Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans (LMV), University Campus of Cézeaux, 6 Blaise Pascal Avenue, TSA 60026 - CS 60026, 63178 AUBIERE Cedex, France (URL: http://lmv.univ-bpclermont.fr/bani-philipson/, Twitter: @philipsonbani); David Sarginson (Facebook: URL: https://www.facebook.com/david.sarginson.16); Clifford Tarisimbi (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009930510696); Wilfred Woodrow (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/558036627684741/permalink/974980079323725); Planet Labs Inc. (URL: http://www.planet.com/).


Kilauea (United States) — July 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Overflows of lava lake in Halema'uma'u crater; Pu'u 'O'o crater floor collapses 30 April 2018; inflation and increased seismicity

Open lava lakes at the Kilauea summit caldera along with a lava lake and flows from the East Rift Zone (ERZ) have been almost continuous since the current eruption began in 1983, and the rift zone has been intermittently active for at least two thousand years. The period from January-April 2018 included the ending of activity in one part of the ERZ and the beginning of a new episode. March 2018 marked the tenth year of the active lava lake inside the Overlook vent at Halema'uma'u. Information for this report comes primarily from the US Geological Survey's (USGS) Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO) which provides daily reports, volcanic activity notices, and photo and video data.

At the end of 2017, the lava lake inside the Overlook vent at Halema'uma'u crater maintained the typical activity it had exhibited throughout the year, with a consistent lava circulation pattern, and occasional spattering events from hardened lava falling into the lake from the pit walls. The lake level rose and fell by a few meters over periods of hours to days, ending the year about 30 m below its level at the beginning of the year. Longer-term subsidence of the Pu'u 'O'o cone on the East Rift Zone was also apparent during 2017, although there was little change in the elevation of the lava pond inside the west pit area of the crater; occasional rockfalls triggered minor spattering. At the end of 2017 the East Rift Zone episode 61g surface lava flow activity persisted on the upper portions of the flow field near Pu'u 'O'o, on the pali, and in scattered areas along the coastal plain. Changes in the subsurface flow in lava tubes contributed to frequent changes to surface breakout locations. The lava flowing into the ocean at Kamokuna slowed and finally ended in November 2017.

During January-April 2018, the lava lake level inside the Overlook vent of Halema?uma?u crater rose and fell daily with alternating periods of inflation and deflation, with a gradual overall inflationary trend. Inflation intensified at the end of April, and the lake overflowed onto the floor of the crater during 21-27 April. The lake level had dropped several meters below the rim of the vent by the last day of the month. Activity of the episode 61g lava flow decreased gradually throughout the period. The flow remained active at the base of the pali and on the upper flow field through February, but activity tapered off on the coastal plain. By the end of March, only the upper flow field was still active. Notable inflationary tilt began at Pu'u 'O'o on 12 March 2018. Lava flowed out of vents on the main crater floor and also created a perched lava pond in the west pit. In mid-April HVO noted that the inflation resulted from increased pressurization of the magma under Pu'u 'O'o and in the past this had led to the formation of new vents and lava flows along the East Rift Zone. A marked increase in seismicity and ground deformation at Pu'u 'O'o on the afternoon of 30 April was followed by the collapse of the crater floor, dispersing red ash a significant distance around the cone. Following the collapse, HVO seismometers and tiltmeters recorded a substantial increase in seismic activity and deformation from Kilauea's summit to an area about 10-16 km downrift (east) of Pu'u 'O'o which propagated eastward overnight along the Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ), marking the beginning of a major new eruptive phase.

Activity during January 2018. Consistent activity continued into January 2018 with few notable changes. The lava lake inside the Overlook vent at Halema'uma'u crater rose and fell by a few meters over hours and days; on the East Rift Zone the lava pond persisted at Pu'u 'O'o cone, and scattered breakouts from the episode 61g lava flow continued. Early on 19 January two earthquakes of magnitude 2.4 and 2.5 occurred on the lower East Rift Zone near Leilani Estates. Also on 19 January, a rockfall from the wall of Halema?uma?u crater plunged into the lava lake producing a short-lived explosion of spatter and wallrock that blanketed an area around the former visitor overlook. Debris fell as far as the Halema?uma?u parking lot (figure 312).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 312. Spatter up to about 30 cm in size was thrown onto the rim of Halema'uma'u crater at Kilauea during explosive events on 19 January 2018. Some fragments were thrown or blown farther downwind, reaching as far as the closed section of Crater Rim Drive in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. The boot of an HVO scientist, who entered the area to check on HVO's webcameras, is shown here for scale. Courtesy of HVO.

HVO noted that spattering from the lava lake at Halema'uma'u was visible from the visitor overlook overnight during 25-26 January. Spatter appeared again briefly the next day, and overnight during 29-30 January. Four spattering sites were visible on a clear 30 January day (figure 313). Webcam views overnight on 30-31 January showed that incandescence persisted from the small lava pond on the W side of the Pu'u 'O'o crater. On the morning of 26 January a new breakout from the episode 61g flow appeared on the pali. By the end of January, most of the breakouts from the episode 61g flow field were concentrated at the base of the pali and on the upper flow field, with little activity on the coastal plain.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 313. Clear views at the summit of Kilauea on 30 January 2018 revealed four spattering sites visible on the surface of the Halema'uma'u lava lake inside the Overlook vent. Through the gas plume, a visible scar (light-colored wall rock) from the 19 January rockfall that triggered an explosive event, could be seen on the southern Overlook vent wall. Another, smaller scar on the northeastern lake wall (left), resulted from two small rock falls on 24 January. Courtesy of HVO.

Activity during February 2018. The lake level inside the Overlook vent continued with daily fluctuations of several meters, between 31 and 42 m below the Halema'uma'u crater floor, during February 2018. A small veneer collapse (rockfall) into the lava lake on 23 February was visible in lava lake webcam images. Throughout the month, persistent incandescence was observed in the webcam at the Pu'u 'O'o west pit lava pond (figure 314). On 10 February a large portion of the NE rim of the west pit collapsed. Prior to and during the rim collapse, the adjacent ground also subsided. The episode 61g flow remained active at the base of the pali (figure 315) and in the upper flow field. A new breakout on the upper flow field, 1-2 km from the vent, appeared early on 26 February. A small swarm of earthquakes occurred in the upper East Rift Zone on 21 February; the largest event was a M 2.3. Seismicity throughout the volcano was otherwise at normal rates throughout the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 314. Incandescence from the west pit at Kilauea's Pu'u 'O'o cone on 19 February 2018 was typical of that observed during clear weather throughout the month. Courtesy of HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 315. 'A'a flows at the base of Pulama pali at Kilauea on 20 February 2018 produced shimmers of heat (top center) and incandescent fragments. Rubble from the flow rolled downhill, as the molten center slowly pushed forward. Courtesy of HVO.

Activity during March 2018. A brief swarm of small earthquakes occurred in the upper East Rift Zone on 2 March 2018. An ongoing long-period earthquake swarm at 5-10 km depth beneath the caldera began late on 6 March and continued into the next day. At the Halema'uma'u crater, the lava lake fluctuated daily, with levels ranging from a low of 40.5 m below the crater floor to a high of 20 m below it. Changes in levels of up to 10 m in a 24-hour period were common. Vigorous spattering was observed on 6 March (figure 316). On 16 March, the lava lake rose high enough (26 m below the crater floor) for active spattering to be visible in webcams mounted in the HVO tower, located across the crater from the vent. The 10th anniversary of the eruption within Halema'uma'u crater was marked on 19 March. When the vent first opened on 19 March 2008, it formed a small pit about 35 m wide. Over the following decade, the pit (informally called the "Overlook crater") grew to about 280 x 200 m in size (see figure 313).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 316. Within Kilauea volcano's summit lava lake at the Halema'uma'u crater, vigorous spattering on 6 March 2018 was occurring on the southern margin where a ledge of solidified lava had built out from the vent wall. Courtesy of HVO.

Notable inflationary tilt at Pu'u 'O'o cone began on 12 March 2018; GPS stations also started recording extension across the cone on that date. A small increase in seismic events was observed at Pu'u 'O'o on the evening of 21 March. Increased views of spattering from the west pit lava pond were visible beginning the following day, likely due to subsidence over the previous months as reported by HVO. During the evening of 25 March lava flowed out of a vent in the SE part of the crater floor and continued to expand for the rest of the month (figure 317). Inflationary tilt slowed significantly on 27 March. Cracks along the ridge between the main crater and the west pit continued to grow throughout the month as the ridge continued to subside (figure 318).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 317. On 25 March 2018 a small lava flow began erupting onto the Pu'u 'O'o crater floor at Kilauea for the first time since May 2016. In this thermal image, taken by the PTcam on 26 March 2018 at 1318, the flow (bright color) appears to be supplied by one of the small spatter cones in the crater's south embayment. The lava flow did not extend beyond the crater. This type of activity is not unusual for Pu'u 'O'o. Courtesy of HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 318. At Pu'u 'O'o on Kilauea's East Rift Zone, the ridge separating the main crater (top) from the west pit (bottom) had been subsiding over the previous several months due to small rockfalls and unstable ground when this image was taken on 27 March 2018. As the ground shifted, cracks along the ridge and on both sides of it continued to open. The lava pond within the west pit rose several meters during March and produced overflows (darker lava) onto the floor of the pit as it rose. A small lava flow also erupted onto the floor of the main crater on 25 March and remained active through 27 March, visible as the lava darker in color in the foreground of the main crater floor. Courtesy of HVO.

By 20 March surface lava flow activity from the episode 61g flow near the base of the pali appeared to have diminished, and only sparse lava flow activity on the coastal plains was noted after 23 March. Activity on the upper flow field, closer to Pu'u 'O'o, continued (figure 319). A 30 March overflight by HVO confirmed no flow activity on the coastal plain or the pali.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 319. Active lava breakouts were scarce across the episode 61g flow field on Kilauea's East Rift Zone, with active flows confined to an area approximately 1-2 km from Pu'u 'O'o during March 2018. This breakout from the lava tube consisted of fluid pahoehoe and was photographed on 27 March 2018 during an overflight. The incandescent area is several meters across. Courtesy of HVO.

Activity during 1-16 April 2018. Constant spattering at the Overlook vent lava lake (figure 320) was intermittently visible from HVO and the Jagger Museum during April 2018 as the lake level rose and fell several meters on a daily basis. Its lowest level of the month was 32 m below the crater floor, and a general inflationary trend throughout the month resulted in significant overflows onto the floor of Halema?uma?u crater at the end of the month. A rockfall in the morning of 6 April triggered an explosion at the summit lava lake that damaged the power system to the Halema?uma?u crater rim webcams (figure 321). A moderate swarm of over 200 earthquakes occurred on 11 April at depths of 7-9 km below the summit; the largest event in the sequence was M 2.4. Seismicity returned to its background rate in the early morning of 12 April. Three minor ledge collapses, common while the lava lake level is lowering, occurred on 12 April.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 320. A clear view of Kilauea's summit lava lake in the Overlook vent on 4 April 2018 revealed spattering on the N side and center of the lake surface, a departure from its more common location on the SE side of the lake; this occasionally happened when the surface flow direction reversed. Spattering is caused by gas bubbles bursting within the lava lake. Courtesy of HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 321. On 6 April 2018 at 1028 HST a partial collapse of the southern Overlook crater wall triggered an explosive event at Kilauea's summit lava lake. A large plume of gas, ash, and lava fragments rose from the lava lake and was visible from the Jaggar overlook. The explosion threw debris onto the Halema'uma'u crater rim at the old visitor overlook, which has been closed due to ongoing volcanic hazards such as this explosive event. Courtesy of HVO.

For the first half of April 2018, steady minor inflation continued at Pu'u 'O'o, interrupted by brief episodes of sharp deflation that appeared related to small lava flows on the crater floor. During an overflight on 13 April HVO geologists viewed a perched lava pond inside the west pit (figure 322). A slight increase in seismicity in the Upper East Rift Zone began overnight during 15-16 April; the largest event was a M 2.9 earthquake.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 322. During an overflight of Kilauea on 13 April 2018 geologists from HVO observed that lava within the west pit at Pu'u 'O'o had formed a perched lava pond (center) contained within a levee. This levee, formed by an accumulation of hardened lava, confined molten lava to the perched pond, which allowed the lava surface to rise higher than the west pit floor. If the pond rises high enough, lava can spill over the levee, forming small flows around the margin of the perched pond. Courtesy of HVO.

At the beginning of April 2018 the episode 61g lava flow was active only above the Pulama pali. The areas of the upper flow field with active lava flows were located within the Kahauale?a Natural Area Reserve, which has been closed to the public since 2007 due to volcanic hazards. On 13 April 2018, geologists observed scattered breakouts from the 61g flow within about 2.2 km from Pu'u 'O'o and another sluggish breakout about 5 km from Pu'u 'O'o (figure 323).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 323. An HVO geologist photographed an active pahoehoe breakout on 13 April 2018 at Kilauea after taking a lava sample nearby. This breakout was located approximately 0.4 km from the episode 61g vent. As the flow inflated, internal pressure cracked the rigid crust of the flow allowing molten lava to ooze out. Courtesy of HVO.

Activity during 17-30 April 2018. Beginning in mid-April 2018 seismometers recorded an increase in the number of small earthquakes beneath the summit and upper East Rift Zone reflecting increased pressurization. Kilauea's summit and East Rift Zone magma systems are connected, with changes at one sometimes leading to changes at the other. Tiltmeters, GPS, web cameras, and field observations, continued to record inflation at the Halema'uma'u crater, at Pu'u 'O'o, and at the upper portion of the episode 61g lava tube system. HVO noted that this inflation could lead to the opening of a new vent on or near Pu'u 'O'o that could cause a significant drop in the summit lake level.

At the Halema'uma'u crater, inflation significantly outpaced deflation for the second half of April. In the afternoon of 18 April the lake level was at 25 m below the crater floor. A lengthy episode of inflation brought the lava to within 6 m of the floor on the afternoon of 21 April. As the level continued to rise, a small overflow along the S crater rim occurred about midnight overnight on 21-22 April (figure 324). The lava lake was below the rim again the next morning but spilled out several times over the next several days to the N, S, and SW. The flows, similar to those produced during the last significant overflow event in April-May 2015, consisted of lobate sheets of shelly pahoehoe traveling as far as 375 m across the floor of Halema?uma?u. A small overflow had also occurred in October 2016.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 324. The rising summit lava lake levels first peaked overnight on 21-22 April 2018, producing small overflows onto the floor of Halema'uma'u Crater at Kilauea. The largest overflow, on the N side of the Overlook vent (shown here), reached about 80 m from the lake margin. Image taken on 22 April 2018, courtesy of HVO.

The summit lava lake spilled out of the Overlook crater rim multiple times during 22-27 April, caused by repeated inflation-deflation cycles (figures 325-327). Between overflows, the lava column receded below the crater rim. An overflight during the afternoon of 23 April showed that the overflows covered about 30% of the Halema?uma?u crater floor, approximately 16 ha. The height of the lava lake, on the floor of Halema'uma'u crater, was 79 m below the rim of the crater on 25 April. HVO estimated that only about one quarter of the floor of the crater remained uncovered by new flows as of 26 April. Summit tiltmeters continued to record an overall inflationary trend with brief periods of deflation until turning to more sustained deflation around midnight overnight on 26-27 April. A magnitude 3.2 earthquake occurred around 1308 HST on 26 April but did not cause any eruptive changes. Seismometers recorded a few small earthquakes in the upper East Rift Zone and south part of the caldera during 25-29 April.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 325. On 24 April 2018 between around 2030 and 2300, Kilauea's summit lava lake overflowed again. The large overflow spread W (to the right) from the lava lake onto the floor of Halema'uma'u around 2230 in this image. The bright (yellow-white) spot is spattering along the S margin of the lava lake. USGS photo by M. Patrick, courtesy of HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 326. Beginning at approximately 0615 on 26 April 2018 a new overflow began covering about 36 hectares (90 acres) of Kilauea's Halema'uma'u crater floor with lava, continuing for about four hours and covering about two-thirds of crater floor. This was the largest overflow since the summit eruption began in 2008. In this view to the S taken later in the day, the gas plume was being produced by the lava lake in the SE crater floor (upper left). Courtesy of HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 327. This thermal image (looking S) taken on 26 April 2018 at Kilauea shows the active overflows from the lava lake (upper left) onto the Halema'uma'u crater floor. View is toward the south. Courtesy of HVO.

The summit lake level dropped 16 m during 27-28 April, ending the period of inflation that produced the overflows onto the crater floor. The lake level remained about 15 m below the floor when skies cleared on 30 April and permitted a view from the webcam (figure 328). Slight inflation returned later in the day and the lake level rose to just beneath the vent rim.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 328. A break in the weather on the morning of 30 April 2018 allowed HVO's webcam to capture this image of the lava lake within Halema'uma'u at the summit of Kilauea. Following multiple overflows of the lava lake the previous week, the lake level dropped after summit deflation. Early that morning, the lava lake level was estimated to be about 15 m below the vent rim, but shortly thereafter, the summit switched to inflation, and the lake level rose to just below the vent rim. Courtesy of HVO.

HVO released a Volcanic Activity Notice, in addition to their regular daily report, midday on 17 April 2018. They noted that observations and measurements at Pu'u 'O'o during the previous month suggested that the magma system had become increasingly pressurized, raising the possibility that a new vent could form at any time, either on the Pu'u 'O'o cone or along adjacent areas. Since mid-March there had been uplift of the Pu'u 'O'o crater floor by several meters. Similar episodes of inflation and uplift at Pu'u 'O'o occurred in May-June 2014, prior to the start of the June 27th flow (active 2014-2016) and May 2016 before the start of the ongoing episode 61g flow.

When measured during a site visit on 18 April the pond level in the west pit at Pu'u 'O'o was 7 m higher than it had been in late March as a result of lava overflows building up the surrounding levee. An overflight on 23 April showed the perched lava pond with overflows slowly filling the pit (figure 329), and significant cracks on the NE part of the crater rim (figure 330). The pond had another overflow that remained in the pit on 24 April, and the floor continued to rise. Inflationary tilt continued at Pu'u 'O'o until it leveled off around midnight during 26-27 April, but the crater floor continued to rise for the next four days.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 329. On the East Rift Zone of Kilauea, the perched lava pond in Pu'u 'O'o's west pit persisted during the second half of April, seen here on 23 April 2018. Overflows of the pond levees were slowly filling the bottom of the west pit and raising the floor. Courtesy of HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 330. Ongoing uplift of the crater floor of Pu'u 'O'o at Kilauea beginning in mid-March 2018 generated numerous cracks on the crater floor and around the rim. These cracks cut through both recent lava flows (darker color) and older flows on the crater floor. Image taken on 23 April 2018, courtesy of HVO.

Just after 1400 on 30 April 2018, a marked increase in seismicity and ground deformation began at Pu'u 'O'o. A few minutes later, a thermal webcam (PTcam) located on the crater rim showed the first of two episodes of floor collapse; the second collapse began at 1520 and lasted about an hour. Webcam views into the crater and surrounding area were frequently obscured by poor weather conditions. However, shortly after 1600 the PTcam recorded images that were likely the signature of small explosions from the western side of the crater as the floor collapsed.

Following the collapse there was an increase in seismicity and deformation from the summit to an area about 10-16 km downrift (east) of Pu'u 'O'o. Overnight, this activity continued to propagate eastward along the rift zone. The largest earthquake of this sequence was a magnitude 4.0 just offshore south of Pu'u 'O'o at 0239 on the morning of 1 May. HVO field crews were turned back the next morning by ash in the air above Pu'u 'O'o, likely due to continuing collapse within the crater and vigorous gas emissions. Reddish ash was also noted in abundance on the ground around Pu'u 'O'o.

Lava flow activity in the episode 61g flow continued on the upper flow field through the end of April 2018. Activity was focused above the pali and closer to Pu'u 'O'o, within 2 km of the vent. After the explosion and collapse of the crater floor at Pu'u 'O'o on 30 April, a large amount of red ash was deposited around the cone and covered over some of the active breakouts of the 61g flow (figure 331).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 331. The collapse of the Pu'u 'O'o crater floor at Kilauea on 30 April 2018 produced a large amount of red ash that was deposited around Pu'u 'O'o, as well as blown farther downwind, with a thin dusting of ash reaching uprift (west) as far as Mauna Ulu. On 1 May 2018, a layer of red ash covered active 61g lava flow surface breakouts in an area between 1-2 km from the 61g vent. Courtesy of HVO.

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

Information Contacts: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), U.S. Geological Survey, PO Box 51, Hawai'i National Park, HI 96718, USA (URL: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/).


San Cristobal (Nicaragua) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

San Cristobal

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Moderate explosion on 22 April 2018

Activity at the San Cristobal volcano complex during 2017 was characterized by numerous weak ash-and-gas explosions, a succession of strong ash-and-gas explosion on 18 August, and thousands of degassing events (BGVN 43:03). This report covers January through July 2018.

According to the Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), at 1320 on 22 April a moderate explosion generated an ash-and-gas plume that rose 500-800 m (figure 38), causing ashfall in the Comarca La Bolsa (8 km SW) and Hacienda Las Rojas (3 km WSW) and Loma Las Brujas (2 km W).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Photo of the gas-and-ash explosion at San Cristobal on 22 April 2018.  Courtesy of Fausto Tijerino, INETER (Boletín mensual, Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua, Abril, 2018).

INETER's April bulletin reported that the monthly averages of sulfur dioxide levels at San Cristobal during January through March 2018 ranged from 305-449 metric tons per day. On 22 April, the day of the explosion, levels reached 1903 tons. During the reporting period, MODIS satellite instruments using the MODVOLC algorithm recorded only two questionable thermal anomalies at San Cristobal. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) volcano hotspot detection system, also based on analysis of MODIS data, recorded numerous hotspots, but only one within 5 km of the volcano during January through July 2018. The latter one occurred during late March.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua (URL: http://webserver2.ineter.gob.ni/vol/dep-vol.html); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).


San Miguel (El Salvador) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

San Miguel

El Salvador

13.434°N, 88.269°W; summit elev. 2130 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent small ash emissions between 14 January and 30 May 2018

El Salvador's San Miguel, also known as Chaparrastique, had six small ash emission events during January 2015-June 2017 (BGVN 42:07). New activity consisting of intermittent ash emissions began on 14 January and continued until 30 May 2018, reported below based on information provided by El Salvador's Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales (SNET) and special reports from the Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN).

SNET and MARN reported that during 14-17 January 2018 there were four gas-and-ash emissions from San Miguel that rose no higher than 300 m above the crater rim, at least one of which dispersed SW. The reports noted that prior to each emission seismicity decreased and then suddenly increased. MARN reported that during 25-26 January seismic tremor levels fluctuated between 75 and 179 RSAM (Real-time Seismic Amplitude Measurement) units per hour on average, slightly above normal (50-150 units).

On 19 February, MARN reported the beginning of sustained gas emissions along with small ash emissions. The plume did not exceed 350 m above and was displaced by winds to the SW. This activity was similar to the activity on 14-15 January 2018.

SNET reported on 2 March that gas plumes rose as high as 400 m above the crater rim during the previous week. Ash appeared in "gas pulse" emissions on 24, 26, and 28 February, and 1 March. RSAM values fluctuated between 70 and 179 units during 1-2 March. At 2200 on 5 March seismic amplitude began to increase, with RSAM values rising to as high as 318 units by 0600 on 6 March. A webcam recorded minor gas emission during 5-6 March. MARN reported that RSAM values fluctuated between 68 and 248 units, with an average of 156 during 8-9 March. Continued volcanic tremor during 9-16 March was noted, along with persistent low-level degassing from the central crater. Volcanic tremor levels during 15-16 March fluctuated between 77 and 203 RSAM units per hour, with an average of 124.

By early April, MARN had noted a decrease in activity. On 3 April it reported that RSAM levels varied between 46 and 87 units, with an average of 55. Activity increased briefly during 7-13 April, and MARN reported that periodic microseisms combined with changes in seismic tremor and gas pulses had increased significantly, reaching maximum values of 400 RSAM units in an average hour (figure 25).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. RSAM values at San Miguel during 7-13 April 2018. Courtesy of Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN).

Discrete earthquakes were detected between 13 and 17 April, and discontinuous volcanic tremor during 17-18 April was associated with weak, sporadic degassing from the central crater. Seismicity reached maximum values of 216 RSAM units in an average hour.

MARN reported that during 20-27 April volcanic tremor fluctuated between 37 and 106 RSAM units per average hour. Seismicity was low during 28 April-4 May, with RSAM between 39 and 61 units per hour.

In May MARN reported that the volcanic activity had declined compared to April. As of 18 May there was no change in volcanic activity, despite the seismic swarm that started on the night of 5 May felt in the municipalities of Chirilagua-Intipucá, 30 km SE. Average SO2 emission rates were variable during 1 January-6 May 2018 (figure 26).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Sulfur dioxide emissions at San Miguel between from 1 January-6 May 2018. Courtesy of Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN).

SNET reported a significant increase in the number of low- and high-frequency earthquakes beneath the crater beginning on 22 May. RSAM values fluctuated between 142 and 176 units during 30 May-1 June. Webcam images on 30 May showed a small gray gas emission.

Geologic Background. The symmetrical cone of San Miguel volcano, one of the most active in El Salvador, rises from near sea level to form one of the country's most prominent landmarks. The unvegetated summit rises above slopes draped with coffee plantations. A broad, deep crater complex that has been frequently modified by historical eruptions (recorded since the early 16th century) caps the truncated summit, also known locally as Chaparrastique. Radial fissures on the flanks of the basaltic-andesitic volcano have fed a series of historical lava flows, including several erupted during the 17th-19th centuries that reached beyond the base of the volcano on the N, NE, and SE sides. The SE-flank flows are the largest and form broad, sparsely vegetated lava fields crossed by highways and a railroad skirting the base of the volcano. The location of flank vents has migrated higher on the edifice during historical time, and the most recent activity has consisted of minor ash eruptions from the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales (SNET), Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN), Km. 5½ Carretera a Nueva San Salvador, Avenida las Mercedes, San Salvador, El Salvador (URL: http://www.snet.gob.sv/ver/vulcanologia, http://www.marn.gob.sv/category/avisos/vulcanologia/).


Kirishimayama (Japan) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Kirishimayama

Japan

31.934°N, 130.862°E; summit elev. 1700 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes and lava flows at Shinmoedake starting in March 2018; explosion at Iwo-yama

Kirishimayama is a large group of more than 20 Quaternary volcanoes located N of Kagoshima Bay, Japan (figure 22). For the last 1,000 years, repeated eruptions have taken place at two locations in the complex: the Ohachi crater on the W flank of the Takachihomine stratovolcano, and the Shinmoedake stratovolcano 4 km NW of Ohachi. A single eruption was reported in 1768 from the Iwo-yama (Ebino Kogen) dome located on the NW flank of the Karakunidake stratovolcano, about 5 km NW of Shinmoedake.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Subfeatures of the Kirishimayama volcanic complex showing the three areas with activity discussed in this report: Ohachi, Shinmoedake, and Iwo-yama (Ebino Kogen). View is to the SE. Image taken by the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force on 7 October 2014. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity report on Kirishimayama, October, Heisei 26 [2014]).

The last confirmed eruption at the Ohachi crater was in July 1923. Intermittent steam plumes have been observed since then, including in December 2003 (BGVN 33:09), but the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) noted that it had been quiet since 1 December 2007. Shinmoedake has been the site of several short-lived eruptive events since 2008. Most of the events were single-day explosions with ash emissions (BGVN 35:12). A more protracted event from January to September 2011 included numerous explosions with ash plumes, which produced ashfall tens of kilometers away, the growth of a lava dome, ejecta of large blocks, and small pyroclastic flows (BGVN 36:07). Shinmoedake remained quiet until seismicity increased on 23 September 2017, followed by several explosions during October 2017 (BGVN 43:01). Seismic unrest was first reported from the area around Iwo-yama in December 2013, and it has been regularly monitored since that time. This report covers activity from November 2017 through May 2018 and includes new explosive events at Shinmoedake during March-May 2018, an explosive event at Iwo-yama in April 2018, and a brief increase in seismicity at Ohachi in February 2018. Information is provided primarily by the JMA and the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), with additional satellite data and news media reports.

Summary of activity during November 2017-May 2018. After steam plumes disappeared at Ohachi in mid-2006, only minor intermittent seismicity was reported through 2017. A sudden increase in earthquakes and tremor activity on 9 February 2018 led JMA to raise the 5-level Alert Level system from 1 (potential for increased activity) to 2 (do not approach the crater) for about a month. Activity diminished after the middle of February and Ohachi remained quiet through May 2018, with only a continuing modest thermal anomaly at the crater.

The latest eruptive episode at Shinmoedake, during 11-17 October 2017, generated an SO2 plume recorded by NASA satellites, caused ashfall up to 100 km away, and created a new vent about 80 m in diameter on the E side of the crater. Intermittent earthquakes and tremors along with low-level steam plumes characterized activity during November 2017-February 2018. A new eruptive episode began on 1 March 2018 with near-constant explosive activity that lasted until 10 March. A new lava flow at the summit was first observed by JMA on 6 March and began to overflow the NW rim of the crater on 9 March. The Tokyo VAAC reported ash plumes over 6 km altitude on 10 March. An explosion on 5 April produced the largest ash plume of the period; it rose to 10.1 km altitude, was visible drifting E for 24 hours, and resulted in significant ashfall in the region. The lava flow had ceased advancing down the NW flank by the end of April. Another explosion on 14 May 2018 generated an ash plume that rose to 7.3 km altitude and caused ashfall 30 km S that covered the roadways.

An increase in seismicity at Iwo-yama in December 2013, followed by a 7-minute-period of tremor activity in August 2014 was the first recorded at the site since 1768. Thermal anomalies and weak fumarolic activity first appeared in December 2015. Seismicity, including intermittent tremor events and larger amplitude earthquakes, gradually increased during 2016 and 2017. Intermittent fumarolic activity and temperature anomalies began to increase measurably in mid-2017. Jets of sediment-laden hot water emerged from several vents early in 2017. A further increase in fumarolic activity and the temperature of the thermal anomalies in February 2018 led JMA to raise the Alert Level at Iwo-yama. Large amplitude earthquakes and a tremor event accompanied an ash-bearing explosion on 19 April 2018 from a vent on the S side of Iwo-yama. The following day, a vent opened 500 m to the W and produced vigorous steam emissions. On 26 April 2018 an explosion from the new vent sent ash 200 m high. Jets of hot water continued at the Iwo-yama vents through May 2018.

Activity at Ohachi during 2003-2018. JMA reported tremor activity with epicenters near Ohachi in mid-December 2003 (BGVN 33:09) that was followed by fumarolic activity for a few weeks. Intermittent steam plumes were observed during 2004; on 26 March 2004 a tremor event lasted for four hours and a steam plume rose 800 m above the crater (figure 23). A few periods of microtremor were recorded, and intermittent fumarolic activity was observed with webcams until March 2006, after which most activity ceased. JMA lowered the 5-level Alert Level from 2 (Do not approach the crater) to 1 (Potential for increased activity) on 22 May 2006. Fumarolic activity was not observed after July 2006, and no new thermal activity was reported during a field visit in October 2006. Minor seismicity was reported for a few days during July 2007, and small-amplitude, short-duration tremor activity was occasionally recorded during 2008-2014.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Steam plumes were visible on the NW side of the Ohachi crater at Kirishimayama on 31 March 2004. Courtesy of JMA (JMA Kirishimayama annual report, Heisei 16 (2004)).

Although earthquake activity increased slightly in July 2015, the warning level was not raised, and no surface fumarolic activity was observed during field visits in August and September 2015 (figure 24). Seismic activity remained elevated at Ohachi through February 2016 and then gradually decreased during March. Although tremors were recorded in May and December 2016, there was no change in condition at the site and seismicity continued to decrease; no tremors were recorded during 2017.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. No fumarolic activity was visible at the Ohachi crater at Kirishimayama on 18 September 2015 during a site visit. View is to the NW. Courtesy of JMA (JMA Kirishimayama annual report, Heisei 27 (2015)).

Earthquake frequency on the SW side of Ohachi increased during 9-16 February 2018, resulting in 199 seismic events, and tremor activity was also recorded on 9 February. This activity led JMA to increase the Alert Level to 2 on 9 February 2018. In spite of the increased seismic activity, the thermal activity remained unchanged from previous months with continued minor thermal anomalies in the same areas as before (figure 25). Seismicity decreased significantly during March 2018 to only 13 volcanic earthquakes, and no microtremor activity was recorded. Inspections carried out on 11 and 14 March showed no surface changes (figure 26) and resulted in JMA lowering the Alert Level back to 1 on 15 March 2018. Ohachi remained quiet through May 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Thermal anomalies at the Ohachi crater of Kirishimayama were unchanged compared with previous months when measured on 9 February 2018 in this view to the NW. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, February, Heisei 30 (2018)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. An overview looking W of the Ohachi crater at Kirishimayama on 2 March 2018 showed no surface activity after the increased seismicity of February. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, March, Heisei 30 (2018)).

Activity at Shinmoedake during August 2008-October 2017. An explosion on 22 August 2008 lasted for about six hours and produced ashfall in Kobayashi City (10 km NE) (BGVN 33:09). Seismicity had increased rapidly a few days prior to the explosion, and then decreased gradually for the remainder of 2008. Other than a brief increase in seismicity in May the following year, only steam plumes rising about 100 m from the crater were reported for 2009.

Seven small ash-bearing explosive events were reported during March-July 2010. Small-amplitude tremor activity on 30 March 2010 was accompanied by a plume that rose 400 m above the crater rim; a small amount of ash fell 400 m to the W of the fumarole within the crater. The webcam on the S rim of the crater captured a grayish plume rising 300 m after a small explosion on 17 April 2010. Another small explosion on 27 May produced a grayish-white plume that rose 100 m above the crater rim and resulted in minor ashfall NE in Kobayashi City. Officials noted a new fumarole on the W flank after this event. Two more explosions on 27 and 28 June 2010 resulted in a small amount of ash deposited 10 km E of Shinmoedake. A small explosion was reported on 5 July. On 10 July, a grayish-white plume, observed in the webcam, rose 100 m above the crater rim after an explosion, and a small low-temperature pyroclastic surge flowed 300 m down the SW slope. GPS instruments recorded minor inflation from December 2009 through September 2010.

A new, more substantial, eruption began at Shinmoedake on 19 January 2011. Activity increased on 26 January with an explosion that released a large volume of ash and pumice and included the growth of a new lava dome (BGVN 35:12, 36:07). Thirteen additional explosions occurred through 1 March 2011. Activity became more intermittent after mid-February, and the last emission was reported on 7 September 2011. Seismicity declined significantly in March 2012 and had returned to background levels by May 2012. With no surface changes and very low seismicity, JMA reduced the Alert Level from 3 to 2 on 22 October 2013, and the only reported activity was steam plumes rising 50-200 m above the crater rim during 2013. The lava dome in the crater remained about 600 m in diameter. Inflation had slowed and stopped after December 2011 but began again around December 2013. Shallow, low-level seismicity during 2014 with epicenters near Shinmoedake was distributed within a few kilometers below the summit; there were no surface changes observed at the crater during several overflights conducted by the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force throughout the year.

Occasional steam plumes rising 400 m above the crater rim were reported during 2015. Volcanic earthquakes were intermittent, with brief increases in activity during March-May and October- December with roughly the same number as the previous year. Inflationary deformation that began around December 2013 ceased in January 2015. A very brief tremor on 1 March 2015 was the first recorded since 1 February 2012. During 2016, occasional steam plumes rose 300 m above the crater. In spite of a seismic swarm on 23 February 2016, and a general increase in seismicity throughout the year, no eruptions occurred, and no surface changes were observed. JMA kept the Alert Level at 2 throughout the year. A small tremor event on 17 September was the only recorded during 2016. Very little activity was reported from January to September 2017; occasional steam plumes were reported rising 400 m above the crater rim. JMA lowered the Alert Level from 2 to 1 on 26 May 2017.

A minor increase in seismicity was observed beginning in July 2017, and was followed by a marked increase on 23 September. After a further increase in frequency and amplitude of earthquakes on 4 October, JMA raised the Alert Level to 2 for Shinmoedake on 5 October 2017. This was followed by an eruption that began on 11 October 2017. A new vent was observed on the E side of the crater during an overflight that same day, and ashfall was reported in numerous communities as far as 90 km NE (BGVN 43:01). A significant SO2 plume was measured by the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite the following day (figure 27). After raising the Alert Level to 3 on 11 October, JMA expanded the restricted area radius from 2-3 km during 15-31 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. A significant SO2 plume from the explosion at the Shinmoedake crater of Kirishimayama was measured on 12 October 2017 by NASA's OMI instrument on the Aura satellite. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Explosions on 14 October 2017 resulted in confirmed ashfall in Kagoshima city (50 km SW), Takahara Town (15 km E), Kobayashi city (25 km NE), Saito city (55 km NE), Hyuga city (90 km NE), and Misato town (75 km NE). Ongoing explosions continued until 17 October, after which persistent steam plumes were observed rising as high as 600 m above the crater. In an overflight conducted on 23 October JMA scientists noted the new vent was about 80 m in diameter, and ejecta from the vent had formed a small cone around the vent. (figure 28).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Two vents were visible on the E side of the crater in this view to the WNW taken on 23 October 2017 of Shinmoedake crater at Kirishimayama. The left vent (center front) had formed during the 2011 eruption, and the right vent formed during the 11-17 October 2017 eruption earlier in the month. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, October, Heisei 29 (2017)).

Activity at Shinmoedake during November 2017-March 2018. After the eruption of 11-17 October 2017 seismicity decreased significantly, and no morphological changes were observed for the remainder of the year. Steam plumes rose 300-500 m above the crater during November and December. Short-duration tremors were detected during 25-29 November, along with a slight increase in the number of volcanic earthquakes. A small earthquake swarm recorded during 2-4 December was the only significant seismic activity that month.

Infrequent, large-amplitude earthquakes were recorded during 15-17 January 2018, along with a few short-duration tremor events, the first since 29 November 2017. The earthquakes were located within a 1 km radius of Shinmoedake, around 2-4 km deep. Steam plumes at the crater rose no more than 100 m most days; occasional plumes rising as high as 200 m were noted. An earthquake swarm on 25 February was the first notable event of the month; the steam plumes remained under 100 m above the crater, except for a 500-m-high plume on 21 February. Thermal imaging surveys in late February indicated a modest increase in heat flow from fractures inside the crater and on the W slope compared with previous measurements.

Earthquakes with shallow epicenters below Shinmoedake increased in number early on 1 March 2018 and a new eruptive episode followed a few hours later, leading JMA to increase the restricted zone to 3 km around the crater (figure 29). SO2 emissions also increased sharply. By the afternoon of 1 March an ash plume rose 1,500 m above the crater, emerging from the vent on the E side and drifting SE. Ashfall was confirmed on 1 March in the area up to 18 km E of the crater. Large blocks of ejecta were observed within the crater on 5 March.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. A new eruptive episode at the Shinmoedake crater of Kirishimayama began around 1100 on 1 March 2018 with ash emissions emerging from the new vent on the E side of the crater. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, February, Heisei 30 (2018)).

During an overflight on 6 March 2018, JMA witnessed a new lava flow covering a large area on the E side of the crater floor (figure 30). Eighteen explosive eruptions occurred on 6 March and JMA reported that the ash plume rose 2,800 m above the crater (figure 31). Ashfall was confirmed SW of Shinmoedake in Shibushi city (50 km SSE), Tarumizu City (50 km SSW) and Aira City (30 km SW). NASA 's Aqua satellite captured a false color image of the eruption on 6 March showing the ash plume drifting SE and SW from Shinmoedake (figure 32). About 80 flights in and out of nearby Kagoshima airport were canceled.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Lava emerged from the new vent on the E side of the Shinmoedake crater at Kirishimayama on 6 March 2018 in this view to the W. Plumes of both ash and steam rose from the center and N sides of the crater. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, February, Heisei 30 (2018)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Ash and steam rose from newly emergent lava inside the summit crater of Shinmoedake at Kirishimayama on 6 March 2018, and disrupted air traffic for most of the day. Courtesy of Kyodo News via AP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. NASA 's Aqua satellite captured a false color image of the eruption from Shinmoedake crater at Kirishimayama on 6 March 2018 with an ash plume drifting SE and SW. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Tremor events occurred continuously over 1-8 March; forty-seven explosions were recorded between 6 and 8 March; they decreased in frequency after the middle of the month. The OMI instrument on the NASA Aura satellite recorded a significant SO2 plume on 7 March 2018 (figure 33). Geospatial data that had shown a gradual inflation of the Kirishimayama complex since July 2017 showed a sharp deflation during 6-7 March 2018, after which inflation resumed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. An SO2 plume with a density of almost ten Dobson Units (DU) was recorded by the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite on 7 March 2018. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Institute.

During an overflight on 9 March 2018, a staff member from the Geographical Survey Institute observed the lava flow beginning to overflow the NW side of the crater (figure 34). Explosions resulted in ejecta traveling 800 m from the crater on 9 March and an ash plume rising 3,200 m. An increase in the intensity of activity the following day sent ejecta 1,800 m from the vent and generated an ash plume that rose 4,500 m (figure 35); this led JMA to increase the restricted area around the crater to 4 km between 10 and 15 March.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. The new lava flow began to overtop the NW side of Shinmoedake crater (left side of crater with steam) at Kirishimayama on 9 March 2018. Photographed by a staff member from the Geographical Survey Institute during a helicopter overflight by the Kyushu Regional Development Bureau. Courtesy of the Geographical Survey Institute (Correspondence on the eruption of Kirishimayama (Shinmoedake) in Heisei 30 (2018), 29 March 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. An increase in explosive activity at the Shinmoedake crater of Kirishimayama on 10 March 2018 sent an ash plume 4,500 m above the crater (left), and incandescent ejecta 1,800 m from the vent (right). Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, March, Heisei 30 (2018)).

A thermal image taken on 11 March showed that the lava was moving very slowly down the NW flank, advancing only a few tens of meters since 9 March (figure 36). JMA confirmed during an overflight on 14 March that the lava flowing down the NW flank was about 200 m wide. Two explosions on 25 March produced plumes that rose 3,200 and 2,100 m, ejecta that traveled 800 m, and a small pyroclastic flow that advanced about 400 m down the W flank (figure 37). Although analysis of satellite data by Japan's Geographical Survey Institute suggested that the eruption of lava into the crater had ceased by 9 March, it continued to flow slowly down the NW flank for several weeks. The diameter of the flow inside the crater was about 700 m, and it had traveled about 85 m down the NW flank by 28 March (figure 38).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. A thermal image taken on 11 March 2018 of the new lava flow in the Shinmoedake crater at Kirishimayama showed the slow movement of the flow over the NW rim and down the flank a few tens of meters in two days. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, March, Heisei 30 (2018)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Two explosions on 25 March 2018 from Shinmoedake crater at Kirishimayama produced plumes that rose 3,200 and 2,100 m, ejecta that traveled 800 m, and a small pyroclastic flow that advanced about 400 m down the W flank (foreground). Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, March, Heisei 30 (2018)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Lava was still slowly moving down the NW flank of the Shinmoedake crater at Kirishimayama on 26 March 2018, and gray ash covered much of the adjacent flank, possibly from a pyroclastic flow the previous day. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, March, Heisei 30 (2018)).

The Tokyo VAAC issued multiple daily reports from 1-15 March 2018, and a few intermittent reports during the rest of the month. JMA usually reports plume heights in meters above the crater and the Tokyo VAAC reports them as altitudes above sea level; conversions are noted where the height or altitude of a plume is exceptional. They reported an ash plume drifting SE on 1 March at 1.5 km altitude; the plume had risen to 2.4 km by the end of the day. The following day a plume was visible in satellite images at 2.1 km altitude drifting E. Continuous emissions drifting NE above 2.4 km altitude were reported on 3 and 4 March. Several explosions generated plumes that were visible in satellite imagery during 5-7 March drifting S, SW, and W at altitudes between 3.0 and 4.6 km. Plumes from larger explosions during 9 and 10 March rose to altitudes between 4.3 and 6.1 km and drifted SE, finally dissipating after about 24 hours. Explosions on 12 and 13 March drifted NE and E at 3.4-4.9 km altitude, with continuous emissions visible in satellite imagery during those days. Two explosions on 24 March produced plumes that drifted SE at 3.7 and 4.9 km altitude, and were visible in satellite imagery until they dissipated the next day.

A strong MIROVA thermal anomaly signal appeared at the beginning of March and slowly tapered off into April. The signal is consistent with the reports of the eruption of lava from the summit of Shinmoedake and its gradual cooling (figure 39). The MODVOLC thermal alert signals also closely match the reports of the eruption of the lava. The first six alerts were issued on 6 March, four each on 9 and 10 March, three each on 11 and 12 March, and one each on 13, 14, 16, 23, and 30 March, matching a gradual cooling pattern for the lava after the main eruptive event.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. A strong MIROVA thermal anomaly signal appeared at Kirishimayama at the beginning of March and slowly tapered off into April 2018. The signal is consistent with the reports of the eruption of lava from the summit of Shinmoedake, and its gradual cooling. A thermal image of the lava flow at Shinmoedake from 28 March 2018 (inset) shows significant cooling from two weeks earlier (see figure 36). Courtesy of MIROVA and JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, March, Heisei 30 (2018)).

Activity at Shinmoedake during April and May 2018. A new explosion on 5 April 2018 generated a large ash plume that rose 5,000 m above the crater; a small pyroclastic flow traveled 400 m down the SE flank, and ejecta was thrown 1,100 m from the vent (figure 40). The Tokyo VAAC reported an explosion, and an ash plume at 6.7 km altitude drifting E visible in satellite imagery early in the day. A few hours later, the plume was visible at 10.1 km altitude, or more than 8,000 m above the crater. Incandescent tephra was ejected hundreds of meters high, and lightning was observed within the large ash plume (figures 41 and 42). The plume was observed continuously in satellite images for almost 24 hours before dissipating; a significant SO2 plume was also recorded (figure 43).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Ejecta was thrown 1,100 m from the vent in an explosion at the Shinmoedake crater of Kirishimayma on 5 April 2018 (farthest right incandescence). A large ash plume (to the right of the main incandescence) eventually rose to over 8,000 m above the crater. View is to the N from the Inogishi webcam. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, April, Heisei 30 (2018)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. An explosion on 5 April 2018 from the Shinmoedake crater at Kirishimayama sent incandescent ejecta several hundred meters above the crater. Courtesy of Kyodo News via Reuters.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Significant lightning was reported in the large ash plume from the 5 April 2018 explosion at the Shinmoedake summit crater at Kirishimayama. Courtesy of Kyodo News via Reuters.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. The OMPS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite recorded an SO2 plume drifting SE after the 5 April 2018 explosion at the Shinmoedake crater of Kirishimayama. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

A large amount of ashfall was reported in parts of Kobayashi city and Takaharu (15 km E) (figures 44 and 45) on 5 April 2018. Ashfall reports also indicated that a wide area to the N of Shinmoedake including Hitoyoshi City (30 km N), to the NE including Kadogawa Town (95 km NE), and to the E including Miyazaki City (50 km E) were also affected. Another eruption took place the following day, on 6 April, but weather clouds obscured views of the summit. No eruptions were recorded after 6 April for the remainder of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Ashfall was measured and sampled on 5 April 2018 in Kobayashi City (25 km NE) after an explosion with a large ash plume rose from the Shinmoedake crater at Kirishimayama. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, March, Heisei 30 (2018)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Ashfall covered major roadways and buildings in Takaharu, 15 km E of Kirishimayama, after an explosion from the Shinmoedake crater on 5 April 2018. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, March, Heisei 30 (2018)).

In multiple flyovers, on 19, 20, and 21 April 2018, authorities observed lava continuing to flow down the NW flank (figure 46), along with residual high temperatures in the central part of the lava flow (figure 47). Additionally, fumarolic areas around the fractures on the W slope persisted. By the end of April, the flow on the NW flank of the crater was 150 m long. Seismicity had declined at the end of March, but increased again during the explosive period in early April. Occasional tremors were recorded during 5-14 April. Intermittent spikes of around 100 small earthquakes were also recorded on 14 and 21 April.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. The lava flow down the NW flank of Shinmoedake crater at Kirishimayama was nearly stagnant by 21 April 2018, as seen in this view to the SW taken that same day by the Miyazaki Prefecture Disaster Preparedness Emergency Air Corps. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, April, Heisei 30 (2018)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Residual high heat flow was still visible near the center of the Shinmoedake crater of Kirishimayama on 21 April 2018 but the lava flow had cooled significantly since March (compare with figure 36). Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, April, Heisei 30 (2018)).

Another spike in earthquakes with epicenters within 2 km of Shinmoedake occurred on 2 May 2018 with over 700 events recorded. A substantial explosion on 14 May generated an ash plume that rose 4.5 km above the crater according JMA (figure 48). The Tokyo VAAC reported the ash plume initially at 4.9 km altitude drifting SE based on webcam reports; when the plume appeared in satellite data a short time later it was drifting SE at 7.3 km altitude and was continuously visible in satellite imagery for about 24 hours before dissipating. Ashfall was confirmed in numerous areas of the Miyazaki prefecture to the E, and the Kagoshima prefecture to the S and W. Seismicity increased briefly after the explosion. Enough ash fell in Miyakonojo City (30 km S) that it covered the white lines on the roadways (figure 49). A thermal image taken on 15 May showed a new high-heat flow area on the E side of the new lava flow inside the crater that JMA concluded was likely the result of the explosive event of the previous day (figure 50).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. A large explosion at the Shinmoedake crater of Kirishimayama on 14 May 2018 sent an ash plume to 4,500 m above the crater as seen in this view to the NE from the Inogishi webcam. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, May, Heisei 30 (2018)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Enough ash fell in Miyakonojo City (30 km S) after an explosion at Shinmoedake crater of Kirishimayama on 14 May 2018, that it covered the white lines on the roadways. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, May, Heisei 30 (2018)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. The thermal signature at Shinmoedake crater at Kirishimayama on 15 May 2018 revealed a high-heat flow area that JMA concluded likely resulted from the explosion the previous day. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, May, Heisei 30 (2018)).

Activity at Iwo-yama during 2014-2017. An increase in seismicity around Iwo-yama, on the NW flank of the Karakunidake stratovolcano (figure 22) beginning in December 2013 was noted by JMA. The epicenters were distributed from 1-6 km below Iwo-yama. Satellite measurements suggested minor inflation in the area around Karakunidake beginning in December 2013, which lasted until January 2015. A 7-minute-long tremor event occurred near Iwo-yama on 20 August 2014. Although inspections of the area by JMA revealed no thermal or fumarolic activity, they listed the Iwo-yama area with an unofficial Alert Level of "Danger around the crater" on 24 October 2014, equivalent to the official Alert Level 2. They modified the warning during May 2015 to "Normal, keep in mind, it is an active volcano," the same as the official Alert Level 1. During the second half of 2015 there were occasional earthquakes and tremors reported in the area, but no surface or thermal activity was recorded (figure 51) until December. Thermal anomalies appeared in the area for the first time during the first week of December 2015; weak fumarolic activity accompanied by H2S odors were first reported during 15-17 December 2015 on the SW side of the Iwo-yama crater (figure 52).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. No surface activity, and very little thermal activity was present at the Iwo-yama (Ebino Kogen) area of Kirishimayama on 2 November 2015. View is to the N, taken from the N flank of Karakunidake. Courtesy of JMA (JMA Kirishimayama annual report, Heisei 27 (2015)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Steam plumes and a thermal anomaly at the Iwo-yama area of Kirishimayama first appeared during December 2015 (images from 28 December 2015, view to the S). Courtesy of JMA (JMA Kirishimayama annual report, Heisei 27 (2015)).

Periods of intermittent microtremor activity occurred once in January, four times in February, and twice in December during 2016, with durations ranging from 40 seconds to 5 minutes. A seismic swarm on 28 February led JMA to raise the unofficial Alert Level to "danger around the crater" for the month of March (equivalent to the official Alert Level 2). A new thermal area with fumarolic activity appeared on 24 March 2016 on the SE side of the crater. Intermittent steam plumes were observed throughout 2016; the highest rose 200 m on 11 October. Thermal anomalies also persisted throughout the year on the S and SW areas of the crater. Alert Level 1 (Note that it is an active volcano) was formally assigned to Iwo-yama on 6 December 2016. The Alert Level was raised to 2 on 12 December after a seismic swarm, tremor, and the observation of inflation in the inclination data in the previous days.

Fumarolic activity decreased in January 2017 after a brief increase at the end of December 2016; JMA lowered the Alert Level back to 1 on 13 January and steam plumes generally rose only 30 m high during the month. The thermal anomalies persisted in the same areas of the SW and W portions of the crater as before, though new fumarolic activity appeared in those areas during February 2017. During March field surveys, observers identified hot water emerging from the fumaroles in the SW and S areas of the crater. The inclinometer detected inflation beginning on 25 April 2017, but it leveled off during August. An increase in the number of fumaroles in the area of the thermal anomaly at the SW side of the crater was confirmed by a JMA field inspection in late April. When the University of Tokyo Earthquake Research Institute visited the site on 8 May 2017, they observed sediment-laden water deposits that had been dispersed on the SW side within the crater, and ejecta around the SW edge. This led JMA to increase the Alert Level to 2.

Fumarolic activity increased during mid-to-late July 2017 and steam plumes were reported at 300 m above the crater for a brief period. On 27 July visitors confirmed dead and discolored plants on the NE side of the crater, and audible fumarolic activity. A new thermal anomaly zone with fumaroles was visible on the SW flank outside the crater during a site visit on 31 August. Low levels of seismicity were intermittent throughout 2017, but no tremor events were recorded. A large amplitude earthquake with its epicenter under Iwo-yama occurred on 5 September 2017; no sudden changes were observed at the site a few days later, although thermal images taken on 9 September revealed an increase in temperature from two years prior (figure 53, compared with figure 52). JMA lowered the warning level to 1 at the end of October. During November and December 2017, steam plumes generally rose 100-200 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Steam plumes and a thermal anomaly persisted into September 2017 at the Iwo-yama crater of Kirishimayama. Emissions of the plume on the left were audible during the July visit. Compare with the lower temperatures measured in December 2015, figure 52. Image taken on 9 September 2017 from the Iwomayama South webcam on the S side of the area. Courtesy of JMA (JMA Kirishimayama annual report, Heisei 29 (2017)).

Activity at Iwo-yama during January-May 2018. An analysis of nearby hot-spring waters indicated a significant jump in Cl/SO4 ratios characteristic of high-temperature volcanic gas beginning in November 2017. The first tremor since 12 December 2016 was recorded on 19 January 2018 and coincided with a brief period of inflation in the vicinity of Iwo-yama. Regional inflation of the area had begun again in July 2017 and continued into 2018. Low-frequency, small-amplitude earthquakes were intermittent during January 2018 and steam plumes rose 100-200 m. Increases in seismicity, fumarolic activity, and the temperatures of the thermal anomalies during mid-February 2018 prompted JMA to raise the Alert Level on 20 February 2018 at Iwo-yama to 2. Steam plume heights increased to 200-300 m after 20 February. Seismicity decreased during March 2018, however observations from the webcam revealed an increase in fumarolic and thermal activity (figure 54).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. Fumarolic activity and heatflow increased at the Iwo-yama crater of Kirishimayama during March 2018, with steam plumes at the central vent rising several hundred meters. Images taken on 23 March 2018. View is to the N from the Iwo-yama south webcam. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, March, Heisei 30 (2018)).

The infrared imaging webcam recorded a burst of heat from a vent on the SW side of the crater on 7 April; the amplitude of seismic vibrations also increased. A field visit on 9 April revealed a hot water pool several meters in diameter on the SW side of the crater with sediment-laden water flowing from it and a 10-m-high steam plume. Local inflation recorded at Iwo-yama turned to deflation on 19 April; large-amplitude earthquakes were also reported. A tremor that day was followed by an explosion a few minutes later from a new vent on the S side of Iwo-yama. The plume rose 500 m and ejecta was scattered 200-300 m from the vent to the SE. During an overflight on 19 April JMA noted ash deposits around the vent; ash emission from the vent continued until the following morning (figure 55). The Tokyo VAAC reported a small ash emission on 19 April from Kirishimayama that rose to 1.8 km altitude and drifted E, but it was not visible in satellite imagery. On the evening of 20 April, another new vent with a vigorous steam plume appeared 500 m W of Iwo-yama (figure 56). Sediment-laden water was observed around the vent the following day. Increased seismicity at Iwo-yama lasted for about 20 days; additional tremor activity was reported on 20 and 24 April.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. An explosion sent steam and ash 500 m high, and ejecta 200-300 m SE from a new vent on the S side of Iwo-yama on 19 April 2018 at Kirishimayama. Ash emission continued until the following morning. N is to the left, fresh ash deposits cover the area SE of the new vent (upper right). Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, April, Heisei 30 (2018)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. A new fumarole with a vigorous steam plume appeared about 500 m W of Iwo-yama during the evening of 20 April 2018. N is to the left. Miyazaki Prefecture Disaster Preparedness Emergency Air Corps Photograph taken from a helicopter on 21 April 2018. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, April, Heisei 30 (2018)).

A brief explosion that lasted about ten minutes occurred from this new vent around 1815 on 26 April 2018 sending a plume of ash about 200 m above the vent (figure 57). A small ash emission from Kirishimayama was reported by the Tokyo VAAC on 26 April that rose to 1.5 km altitude. In a site visit on 30 April, JMA noted active fumaroles and small explosions around both vent areas (figure 58). After the explosion of 19 April, steam plumes rose as high as 700 m from the vent on the S side of the crater, and intermittent spouts a few meters high of sediment-laden water were also observed. Steam plumes rose as high as 500 m from the vent located 500 m to the W.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. An explosion from the new vent located 500 m W of Iwo-yama at Kirishimayama on 26 April 2018 sent ash 200 m above the vent. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, April, Heisei 30 (2018)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Vigorous steam plumes rose from both the S side vent at Iwo-yama (background) and the new vent 500 m W (foreground) on 30 April 2018 at the Kirishimayama complex. North is to the left. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, April, Heisei 30 (2018)).

Fumarolic activity continued at Iwo-yama during May 2018, but no new explosions nor ash emissions were reported. Shallow seismic events were intermittent, but significantly decreased from April. No tremors were recorded. JMA lowered the Alert Level on 1 May 2018 from 3 to 2. Steam plumes rose 300-500 m from the vents, and thermal anomalies persisted at the crater and the adjacent new vent to the W throughout the month. Jets of sediment-laden hot water rising several meters continued from the vent on the S side of Iwo-yama (figure 59).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Jets of sediment-laden hot water (gray spout at center) rose several meters from the S vent at Iwo-Yama at Kirishimayama during May 2018. Image taken on 15 May 2018. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary on Kirishimayama, April, Heisei 30 (2018)).

Geologic Background. Kirishimayama is a large group of more than 20 Quaternary volcanoes located north of Kagoshima Bay. The late-Pleistocene to Holocene dominantly andesitic group consists of stratovolcanoes, pyroclastic cones, maars, and underlying shield volcanoes located over an area of 20 x 30 km. The larger stratovolcanoes are scattered throughout the field, with the centrally located Karakunidake being the highest. Onamiike and Miike, the two largest maars, are located SW of Karakunidake and at its far eastern end, respectively. Holocene eruptions have been concentrated along an E-W line of vents from Miike to Ohachi, and at Shinmoedake to the NE. Frequent small-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the 8th century.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); NASA Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/); 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/); Geographical Survey Institute, Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, No. 1 North Town, Tsukuba city, Ibaraki Prefecture 305-0811 Japan Tel: 029-864-1111 (Representative) Fax: 029-864-1807 (URL: http://www.gsi.go.jp/index.html); Kyodo News (URL: https://www.kyodonews.jp/english/); Associated Press (URL: http://www.ap.org/ ); Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/).


Sabancaya (Peru) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Sabancaya

Peru

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strong, sporadic explosions with ash plumes throughout December 2017-May 2018

Although tephrochronology has dated activity at Sabancaya back several thousand years, renewed activity that began in 1986 was the first recorded in over 200 years. Intermittent activity since then has produced significant ashfall deposits, seismic unrest, and fumarolic emissions. A renewed period of explosive activity began in early November 2016 and continued through 2017. It was characterized by continuing pulses of ash emissions with plume heights exceeding 10 km altitude, thermal anomalies, and numerous significant SO2 plumes (BGVN 42:12). Details of the continuing eruptive activity from December 2017 to May 2018 in this report come from the two Peruvian observatories that monitor the volcano: Instituto Geofisico del Peru - Observatoria Vulcanologico del Sur (IGP-OVS), and Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico) (OVI-INGEMMET). Aviation notices come from the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and satellite data is reported from several sources.

Sabancaya continued with its explosive eruption that began on 6 November 2016 during December 2017-May 2018. Around 100 aviation notices were issued each month by the Buenos Aires VAAC; tens of daily explosions were reported, fluctuating from highs in the 60s per day in December 2017 to lows in the teens per day during February-April 2018. Ash plumes heights varied at 3-5 km above the summit; altitudes mentioned in the VAAC reports were between 7.3 and 8.5 km altitude most days, although plume heights over 9.1 km were observed a number of times. MIROVA thermal anomalies were recorded every week; MODVOLC thermal alerts occurred every month. A significant number of SO2 anomalies greater than two Dobson Units were measured by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center each month (table 2).

Table 2. Eruptive Activity at Sabancaya, December 2017-May 2018. Compiled using data from IGP-OVS, OVI-INGEMMET, Buenos Aires VAAC, HIGP - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Month VAAC Reports Avg Daily Explosions by week Max Plume Heights (m above crater) Plume Drift MODVOLC Alerts Min Days with SO2 over 2 DU
Dec 2017 120 69, 63, 55, 67, 42 2,500-3,300 40-50 km, SW, NE, NW, W, N 2 7
Jan 2018 101 41, 57, 57, 33 2,500-3,300 50 km, SW, W, NW, N 2 13
Feb 2018 94 22, 18, 19, 17 2,500-4,500 30-50 km, SE, S, SW, NW 1 12
Mar 2018 115 12, 10, 17, 17, 18 2,000-5,350 30-50 km, S, SW, W, NW, N 3 13
Apr 2018 114 15, 15, 19, 22 2,000-3,200 30-40 km, All 3 12
May 2018 132 25, 27, 30, 35, 28 1,900-4,300 30-40 km, NW, N, NE, E, SE, S 4 7

Activity during December 2017-February 2018. The Buenos Aires VAAC issued 120 aviation alerts during December 2017; webcam and satellite imagery revealed continuous emissions of water vapor and gas, accompanied by sporadic puffs of ash, throughout the month. When visible in satellite imagery, plumes rose to 7.3-8.2 km altitude (figure 46); a few plumes were reported to 9.1 km altitude. According to OVI-INGEMMET, about 1,800 explosions took place in December. During the third week, ashfall was reported in Huambo (28 km WNW). There were two MODVOLC thermal alerts issued, on 3 and 10 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Webcam photo of an ash plume at Sabancaya on 16 December 2017. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported a plume that day to 8.2 km altitude. Courtesy of OVI-INGEMMET (RSSAB-51-2017/OVI-INGEMMET & IGP Semana del 11 al 17 de diciembre de 2017).

The number of explosions reported by OVI-INGEMMET dropped slightly to about 1,400 during January 2018. The number of VAAC reports was similar to December; when weather clouds prevented observations of emissions, seismic activity showed intermittent peaks that suggested puffs of ash. Plume descriptions by the Buenos Aires VAAC ranged from intermittent plumes that rose to 7.0-7.6 km altitude early in the month to persistent puffs of ash that rose to 7.9-8.2 km altitude during the last two weeks of January. The prevailing winds were directed SW and NW, and ash plumes often drifted as far as 50 km. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center recorded at least 13 days with SO2 emissions greater than two Dobson Units (DU) (figure 47). HIGP issued two MODVOLC thermal alerts on 4 and 20 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. SO2 emissions at Sabancaya were significant throughout the report period. Most months, NASA-GSFC measured 10 or more days where the Dobson Unit (DU) values exceeded two. Dobson Units are a measure of the molecular density of SO2 in the atmosphere. The larger plumes shown here are from 6 January 2018 (top left), 23 February 2018 (top right), 18 March 2018 (bottom left), and 28 April 2018 (bottom right). Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

OVI-INGEMMET reported ash plume heights during February 2018 at 2,500-4,500 m above the summit. They also noted that deflation was measured during the middle two weeks of the month. The number of daily explosions decreased significantly from the previous few months, with about 500 total explosions recorded in February. The Buenos Aires VAAC noted that the webcam showed continuous emissions of gases with sporadic puffs of ash every day that the summit was visible. Ash plumes were only visible in satellite imagery a few times during the month; during 8-10 February, intermittent emissions were seen moving SE between 7.9 and 8.5 km altitude. During 17-24 February, weak, thin ash plumes drifted several different directions at 7.3-7.9 km altitude (figure 48), and on 28 February a plume was visible drifting NW at 7.6 km altitude. Only a single MODVOLC thermal alert was issued on 18 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. A strong pulse of ash rose from the summit of Sabancaya early in the morning of 21 February 2018. Courtesy of OVI-INGEMMET (RSSAB-08-2018/OVI-INGEMMET & IGP Semana del 19 al 25 de febrero de 2018).

Activity during March-May 2018. Three MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued in March 2018, two on 14 March and one on 27 March. Sporadic ash explosions continued, but with the lowest number per day of the reporting period. About 450 explosions were recorded during March. In spite of the smaller number of explosions, some of the tallest ash plumes of the period occurred this month. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported a diffuse ash plume drifting NW in satellite imagery on 2 March at 8.8 km altitude. The following week, several ash plumes were spotted in satellite imagery at altitudes of 7.3-8.2 km drifting either SW or NW. On 11 March, cloudy weather prevented visual satellite imagery observations, but multispectral imagery and the webcam revealed intermittent pulses of ash moving SW at 7.6 km altitude. The following day sporadic strong pulses of ash were observed in the webcam, and there was a pilot report of an ash plume at 9.1 km altitude. During the second half of March, ash plumes were noted in satellite imagery most days at altitudes of 6.4-8.2 km; a few pulses produced short-lived ash plumes that rose over 9.1 km, including on 14, 22, 24, and during 27-30 March (figure 49). The highest plume was observed in visible imagery drifting E on 28 March at 10.1 km altitude. A lahar was also reported on 28 March descending the SE flank, towards the Sallalli River; no damage was reported.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. An ash plume at Sabancaya on 30 March 2018 can be seen rising from the summit and above the meteorological cloud in this webcam image. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported ash plumes on 30 March that rose to 9.1 and 9.5 km and drifted NE. Courtesy of OVI-INGEMMET (RSSAB-13-2018/OVI-INGEMMET & IGP Semana del 26 de marzo al 01 de abril de 2018).

The number of explosions during April 2018 increased slightly from March to about 540. The maximum plume heights ranged from 2,000 to 3,200 m above the summit according to OVI-INGEMMET. The webcam showed continuous emissions of water vapor and gas and sporadic pulses of ash throughout the month. Ashfall was reported during the first week in Achoma (23 km NE), Chivay (33 km NE), and Huanca. During the second week, the prevailing winds brought ashfall to the W and NW to Huambo (28 km W) and Cabanaconde (22 km NW). The Buenos Aires VAAC reported faint ash plumes visible in satellite imagery nearly every day; plume heights consistently ranged from 7.0 to 8.2 km altitude. Three MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued during the month, one on 13 April and two on 17 April.

Activity increased in many ways during May 2018. The Buenos Aires VAAC issued 132 aviation alerts, the most of any month during the period. The numbers of daily explosions increased compared to April, resulting in a monthly total of around 900. OVI-INGEMMET reported plume heights up to 4,300 m above the summit. MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 8, 19, 24, and 26 May. In addition to ash plumes visible in satellite imagery every day at altitudes of 7.3-8.2 km altitude (figure 50), a significant number of ash plumes were reported to altitudes greater than 9.1 km during the month, resulting in more VONA's (Volcanic Observatory Notice to Aviation) issued than in previous months. Sporadic strong puffs of ash were observed in the webcam on the days that satellite imagery measurements of ash plume heights exceeded 9.1 km including on 4, 5, 10, 14, 19, 21, 22, 25, 28, and 31 May. The highest plumes reached 10.4 km altitude on 19 May and 10.1 km altitude on 25 May. Hotspots were also reported on 20, 24, and 27 May. As in previous months, the webcam showed constant emissions of steam and gas, with intermittent pulses of volcanic ash throughout the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. An IGP webcam at Sabancaya recorded the plume height above the summit at 2,800 m on 27 May 2018. Courtesy of OVI-INGEMMET (RSSAB-22-2018/OVI-INGEMMET & IGP Semana del 28 de mayo al 3 de junio del 2018).

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

Information Contacts: Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET, (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico), Barrio Magisterial Nro. 2 B-16 Umacollo - Yanahuara Arequipa, Peru (URL: http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe); Instituto Geofisico del Peru, Observatoria Vulcanologico del Sur (IGP-OVS), Arequipa Regional Office, Urb La Marina B-19, Cayma, Arequipa, Peru (URL: http://ovs.igp.gob.pe/); Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Servicio Meteorológico Nacional-Fuerza Aérea Argentina, 25 de mayo 658, Buenos Aires, Argentina (URL: http://www.smn.gov.ar/vaac/buenosaires/inicio.php); 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/); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).


Masaya (Nicaragua) — June 2018 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 during July 2017-April 2018

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 actively circulating magma at the 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. Brief incandescence and thermal anomalies of uncertain origin in April 2013 were followed by very little activity until 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 (BGVN 41:08, figure 49) which persisted at a constant power level through April 2017 (BGVN 42:09, figure 53) with an increase in the number of thermal anomalies from November 2016 through April 2017. Although the MIROVA thermal anomaly signal decreased slightly in intensity during May 2017, INETER scientists reported continued strong convection at the lava lake. Similar activity continued throughout July 2017-April 2018 and is covered in this report with information provided by the Instituto Nicareguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER) and satellite thermal data.

A persistent thermal signature in the MIROVA data during July 2017-April 2018 supported the visual observations of the active lava lake at the summit throughout this period (figure 58). MODVOLC thermal alerts were also issued every month, with the number of alerts ranging from a high of 17 in November 2017 to a low of six in April 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. MIROVA thermal data for Masaya for the year ending on 11 May 2018 showed a persistent and steady level of heat flow consistent with the observations of the active lava lake inside Santiago crater. Courtesy of MIROVA.

INETER made regular visits to the summit most months in coordination with specialists from several universities to gather SO2 data; CO2, H2S and gravity measurements were also taken during specific site visits. Thermal measurements around the lava lake inside Santiago crater taken on 24 February 2018 indicated temperatures ranging from 210-389°C. Seismicity remained very low throughout the period. The lava lake was actively convecting each time it was visited, and Pele's hair was abundant around the summit area (figures 59-64).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. The lava lake at Masaya was actively convecting on 22 August 2017 when observed by INETER scientists. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua. Agosto, 2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Pele's hair near the summit of Masaya on 22 August 2017. Scale is likely a few tens of centimeters. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua. Agosto, 2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. The summit crater (Santiago) of Masaya with an active lava lake and fumarole plume (white circle) during 8-16 January 2018. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua. Enero, 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. Thermal measurements of the lava lake inside Santiago crater at the summit of Masaya on 24 February 2018 indicated temperatures in the 210-389°C range. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua. Febrero, 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. Nindiri plateau, the broad, flat area inside the summit crater of Masaya, was covered with Pele's hair and basaltic tephra on 6 March 2018. Courtesy of Carsten ten Brink.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. The lava lake inside Santiago crater at Masaya was actively convecting on 1 April 2018. Courtesy of Alexander Schimmeck.

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/); Alexander Schimmeck, flickr (URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alschim/), photo used under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) (URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/); Carsten ten Brink, flickr (URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/carsten_tb/), photo used under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) (URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/).


Nevados de Chillan (Chile) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Nevados de Chillan

Chile

36.868°S, 71.378°W; summit elev. 3180 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Hundreds of ash-bearing explosions; dome appears in crater in mid-December 2017

Nevados de Chillán is a complex of late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcanoes constructed in the Chilean Central Andes. The Nuevo and Arrau craters are adjacent vents on the NW flank of the cone of the large stratovolcano referred to as Volcán Viejo. An eruption started with a phreatic explosion and ash emission on 8 January 2016 from a new crater on the E flank of Nuevo. Explosions continued through September 2017 with ash plumes rising several kilometers and Strombolian activity sending ejecta hundreds of meters (BGVN 42:10). This report covers continuing activity from September 2017-May 2018. Information for this report is provided by Chile's Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN)-Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Oficina Nacional de Emergencia-Ministerio del Interior (ONEMI), and by the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

About 150 ash-bearing explosions were recorded during September and October 2017, with plumes rising almost 2 km above the summit. Activity decreased during the second half of October, and no ash plumes were recorded during November. A significant increase in activity in early December led to over 200 explosions with ash emissions. An overflight on 21 December 2017 produced images of a fissure at the bottom of the new crater. The presence of a growing lava dome in the crater was confirmed in early January 2018. Frequent Strombolian explosions produced nighttime incandescence at the summit and down the flanks. Hundreds of ash-bearing explosions occurred during February 2018; the largest plume rose 2.5 km above the summit, and many smaller pulses produced ash and steam that rose 1.5 km. Sporadic incandescence at night and continued explosions of magmatic gases were typical during March 2018. A large explosion on 31 March coincided with the first appearance of a low-level MODIS thermal anomaly in the MIROVA data, and incandescence from explosions at night indicated that the dome continued to grow during April and May. SERNAGEOMIN reported that the top of the lava dome was visible from the E flank for the first time at the end of May 2018.

Activity during September-December 2017. SERNAGEOMIN reported 117 ash-bearing explosions between 16 and 30 September 2017 (figure 17). The one that released the most energy occurred on 19 September. The plumes of steam and ash rose up to 1,800 m above the crater. The Buenos Aires VAAC observed a narrow plume of ash in satellite imagery moving N at 3.9 km altitude and dissipating rapidly on 15 September, and a similar plume moving SE near the summit on 26 September 2017.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Over 100 ash-bearing explosions were reported at Nevados de Chillán during late September 2017, including ones on 15 September (upper left), 20 September (upper right), 23 September (lower left) and 24 September (lower right). Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

During the first two weeks of October 2017 there were 30 ash-bearing explosions recorded. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported small sporadic puffs of ash on 6 October 2017 that were visible in the webcam (figure 18), but not in satellite data, and a similar dense but short-lived plume on 14 October. SERNAGEOMIN reported a series of pulsating low-energy explosions visible in the webcam that drifted SW on 11 and 12 October 2017, and rose no more than 1 km above the summit.. Only two ash-bearing explosions were recorded during the second half of the month. The volcano was much quieter during November; plumes of steam were observed rising only 100 m above the summit throughout the month, with no ash-bearing plumes reported.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Ash plumes at Nevados de Chillán on 6 (left) and 11 (right) October 2017 were two of the 30 plumes recorded during the first half of October. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

A significant increase in activity in early December 2017 resulted in 245 explosions associated with ash emissions during the first two weeks, some rising as high as 3,000 m above the summit. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported a puff of ash on 1 December that rose to 3.7 km altitude and drifted S, dissipating rapidly. The next day another plume rose slightly higher, to 4.3 km. A dense emission on 4 December rose to 4.9 km and drifted SE before dissipating in a few hours and was not visible in satellite data. On 11 and 14 December, short-lived emissions rose to 4.3 km (figure 19). A yellow cloud of sulfur formed on 11 December within 300 m of the active crater. The webcams also recorded sporadic nighttime incandescence during increased explosions in the early morning of 14 December. Continuous steam emissions with pulses of minor ash were first noted on 16 December; they were visible in satellite imagery the next day at 3.9-4.3 km altitude drifting NE, and by 18 December, consisted only of water vapor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. An increase in explosive activity at Nevados de Chillán in December 2017 resulted in numerous explosions with ash plumes including on 1 December (upper left), 2 December (upper right), 4 December (lower left), and 11 December (lower right). Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

In a special report released on 19 December, OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN reported an increase in surface activity over the previous three days, recording minor explosions averaging four per hour, and seismic pulses lasting 5-10 minutes; they also noted harmonic tremor with the increase in explosion frequency. A detailed review of images taken during an overflight on 21 December revealed a fissure 30-40 m long trending NW at the bottom of the crater. Incandescence at night was regularly observed after 20 December (figure 20), and ash emissions rose to 3,000 m above the summit during the second half of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Phreatic explosions with steam and minor ash were common at Nevados de Chillán during the last two weeks of December 2017. Ash emissions and pyroclastic flows (top image) were noted during 12-19 December, and numerous incandescent blocks accompanied the explosions on 28 December (bottom image). Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

Activity during January-April 2018. SERNAGEOMIN volcanologists identified a growing lava dome within the new crater during two overflights on 9 and 12 January 2018 (figures 21); it was emerging from the fissure first identified on 21 December. During the first two weeks of January SERNAGEOMIN reported 1,027 pulsating explosions associated primarily with magmatic gases, and very little ash that rose up to 1,000 m above the summit. Confirmed ash emissions were reported on 11 January at 4.3 km altitude faintly visible moving SE in satellite imagery, according to the Buenos Aires VAAC. Nighttime incandescence from the growing dome was periodically observed (figure 22). Based on the overflight data and satellite imagery, they calculated a growth rate for the dome of 1,360 m3 per day. They estimated the size at 37,000 m3 by mid-month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. During an overflight at Nevados de Chillán on 9 January 2018, SERNAGEOMIN scientists observed the growing dome within the crater. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Incandescence at night increased from the growing dome at Nevados de Chillán on 13 January 2018. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

Overflights on 23 and 31 January measured temperatures of 305-480°C over the surface of the dome, with the highest values at the fissure. The growth rate calculated after these overflights was 2,540 m3 per day. The webcam revealed emissions of ash and water vapor during the second half of the month that rose less than 1,000 m above the summit crater.

An explosion on 2 February 2018 sent an ash plume to 2,500 m above the summit (figure 23). Vibrations from the explosion were reported in Las Trancas (10 km) and at the Gran Hotel Termas de Chillan (5 km). SERNAGEOMIN began referring to the active crater as Nicanor, and the dome was named Gil-Cruz. During the first two weeks of February, 840 explosions associated with plumes of magmatic gases were reported. The plumes generally rose as high as 1,500 m above the summit and were often accompanied by incandescence at night. Two overflights on 7 and 14 February recorded temperatures of 500 and 550°C. SERNAGEOMIN determined a dome growth rate of 1,389 m3 per day, and a total volume of 82,500 m3 by mid-month. At least four explosions on 14 February were characterized by two simultaneous plumes, one of white steam and the other darker with a higher ash content according to SERNAGEOMIN. The highest plume that day reached 1,200 m above the summit crater. The Buenos Aires VAAC also reported a small pulse of ash on 14 February that rose to 4.6 km altitude and drifted SE. The dome continued to grow slowly during the rest of February, with a small increase in size noted during a 22 February flyover. Plumes of mostly water vapor with minor ash rose a maximum of 1,080 m above the summit during the hundreds of small explosions that took place.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. A substantial explosion on 2 February 2018 at Nevados de Chillán sent an ash plume 2,500 m above the summit and generated vibrations that were felt 10 km from the summit. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

Sporadic incandescence at night and continued explosions of magmatic gases were typical during March 2018, with plume heights reaching 2,000 m over the Nicanor crater. During an overflight on 11 March, a temperature of 330°C was measured around the Gil-Cruz dome, which had grown to a volume of about 100,000 m3 but still remained below the crater rim. Morphological changes in the still-slowly growing dome included fracture lines and unstable large vertical blocks. A significant decrease in seismic energy was noted beginning on 24 March that ended when two larger explosions occurred on 30 and 31 March (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. A substantial explosion on 31 March 2018 at Nevados de Chillán generated distinct ash and steam plumes (top) and sent several large blocks down the flanks (bottom). Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

During an overflight on 3 April 2018, scientists observed energetic pulses of steam and minor ash from the central NW-SE trending fissure inside the crater. They noted that lapilli from explosions had been ejected as far as 1 km from the fissure, and that the Gil-Cruz dome had increased in volume since 11 March; they also observed an area of subsidence on the top of the growing dome (figure 25). The dome was expanding toward the E side of the crater, and the top of the dome rose above the crater rim. They measured a maximum temperature of 670°C on the surface of the dome. The decrease in daily seismicity, the larger explosions of the previous days, and the increased size of the dome with greater risk of collapse, pyroclastic flows, and lahars, all led SERNAGEOMIN to raise the alert level at Chillan to Orange on 5 April 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. The growing lava dome at Nevados de Chillán, referred to as Gil-Cruz, had an active steam plume at the center when photographed by SERNAGEOMIN during an overflight on 3 April 2018. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

The Buenos Aires VAAC reported continuous emissions of steam and gas with minor ash along with a small pulse of ash on 2 April 2018. Low-altitude plumes of mostly water vapor were common throughout April 2018. Incandescence from explosions was visible on clear nights during the month, and ejecta rose as high as 250 m above the crater and was scattered around the crater rim. Seismicity remained constant at moderate levels related to the repeated explosions and the growth of the dome. A faint ash plume could be seen in visible satellite imagery on 18 April at 3.7 km altitude drifting E.

Observations reported on 1 May 2018 from the previous flyover indicated that the rate of growth of the dome had slowed to about 690 m3 per day, and the estimated volume had grown to about 150,000 m3. Activity remained at similar levels throughout May 2018. Seismic instruments recorded long-period seismicity and tremor episodes similar to previous months that corresponded with surface explosions and the extrusion of the lava dome. Seismic energy levels were moderate but fluctuated at times. Plumes of predominantly water vapor with minor gas rose a few hundred meters above the summit drifting generally S or SE before dissipating. Incandescence was often observed on clear nights, accompanied by ejection of incandescent blocks that were observed generally 100 to 150 m above the active crater. A larger explosive event took place on 7 May. Occasional plumes with minor ash were reported on 11 May. SERNAGEOMIN reported on 24 May 2018 that the top of the lava dome was visible from the E flank.

Geologic Background. The compound volcano of Nevados de Chillán is one of the most active of the Central Andes. Three late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcanoes were constructed along a NNW-SSE line within three nested Pleistocene calderas, which produced ignimbrite sheets extending more than 100 km into the Central Depression of Chile. The largest stratovolcano, dominantly andesitic, Cerro Blanco (Volcán Nevado), is located at the NW end of the group. Volcán Viejo (Volcán Chillán), which was the main active vent during the 17th-19th centuries, occupies the SE end. The new Volcán Nuevo lava-dome complex formed between 1906 and 1945 between the two volcanoes and grew to exceed Volcán Viejo in elevation. The Volcán Arrau dome complex was constructed SE of Volcán Nuevo between 1973 and 1986 and eventually exceeded its height.

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/); Oficina Nacional de Emergencia - Ministerio del Interior (ONEMI), Beaucheff 1637/1671, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.onemi.cl/); Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Servicio Meteorológico Nacional-Fuerza Aérea Argentina, 25 de mayo 658, Buenos Aires, Argentina (URL: http://www.smn.gov.ar/vaac/buenosaires/inicio.php); 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/).


Marapi (Indonesia) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Marapi

Indonesia

0.38°S, 100.474°E; summit elev. 2885 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Two explosions during April-May 2018 cause ashfall to the southeast

The Marapi volcano on Sumatra (not to be confused with the better known Merapi volcano on Java) previously erupted on 4 June 2017, generating dense ash-and-steam plumes that rose as high as 700 m above the crater and caused minor ashfall in a nearby district (BGVN 42:10). The volcano is monitored by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation or CVGHM).

On 27 April 2018, a phreatic explosion produced an ash plume that rose 300 m above the crater rim (figure 8); a thin ash deposit was reported in the Cubadak area (Tanah Datar Regency), about 12 km SE. Another explosion at 0703 on 2 May 2018 (figure 9) produced a voluminous dense gray ash plume that rose 4 km above the crater rim and drifted SE; seismic data recorded by PVMBG indicated that the event lasted just over 8 minutes (485 seconds).

The Alert Level has remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), where it has been since August 2011. Residents and visitors have been advised not to enter an area within 3 km of the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Ash plume from a phreatic explosion at Marapi on 27 April 2018. Courtesy of Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (BNPB).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. An explosion from Marapi on 2 May 2018 sent an ash plume to a height of 4 km. Courtesy of PVMBG.

Geologic Background. Gunung Marapi, not to be confused with the better-known Merapi volcano on Java, is Sumatra's most active volcano. This massive complex stratovolcano rises 2000 m above the Bukittinggi plain in the Padang Highlands. A broad summit contains multiple partially overlapping summit craters constructed within the small 1.4-km-wide Bancah caldera. The summit craters are located along an ENE-WSW line, with volcanism migrating to the west. More than 50 eruptions, typically consisting of small-to-moderate explosive activity, have been recorded since the end of the 18th century; no lava flows outside the summit craters have been reported in historical time.

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/).


Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal anomalies show that lava lake remains active through May 2018

As has been the case since at least 1971, the active lava lake in the summit crater of Nyiragongo was present during a tourist visit in June 2017, and seismicity was recorded in the crater in October 2017 (BGVN 42:11). Thermal data from satellite-based instruments shows that an open lava lake remained through 23 May 2018. MIROVA analysis of MODIS satellite thermal data (figure 64) shows nearly daily strong thermal anomalies. Similarly, MODVOLC alerts for the same time period shows a consistently frequent number of anomalies (figure 65).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. Thermal anomaly MIROVA plot of log radiative power at Nyiragongo for the year ending 23 May 2018. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. Map showing MODVOLC alert pixels at Nyiragongo, reflecting MODIS satellite thermal data, for the year ending 23 May 2018. Each pixel shows a thermal alert for a ground area of about 1.5 km2. Nyiragongo (many pixels) is in the center of the map, and Nyamuragira volcano (fewer pixels) is about 13 km to the NNW. Courtesy of HIGP - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

Geologic Background. One of Africa's most notable volcanoes, Nyiragongo contained a lava lake in its deep summit crater that was active for half a century before draining catastrophically through its outer flanks in 1977. In contrast to the low profile of its neighboring shield volcano, Nyamuragira, 3470-m-high Nyiragongo displays the steep slopes of a stratovolcano. Benches in the steep-walled, 1.2-km-wide summit crater mark levels of former lava lakes, which have been observed since the late-19th century. Two older stratovolcanoes, Baruta and Shaheru, are partially overlapped by Nyiragongo on the north and south. About 100 parasitic cones are located primarily along radial fissures south of Shaheru, east of the summit, and along a NE-SW zone extending as far as Lake Kivu. Many cones are buried by voluminous lava flows that extend long distances down the flanks, which is characterized by the eruption of foiditic rocks. The extremely fluid 1977 lava flows caused many fatalities, as did lava flows that inundated portions of the major city of Goma in January 2002.

Information Contacts: 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/).


Ebeko (Russia) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Ebeko

Russia

50.686°N, 156.014°E; summit elev. 1103 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash explosions remained frequent through May 2018, with plumes typically rising more than 1 km

The most recent eruption at Ebeko, a remote volcano in the Kuril Islands, began in October 2016 (BGVN 42:08) with explosive eruptions accompanied by ashfall. Frequent ash explosions were observed through November 2017 and the eruption remained ongoing at that time (BGVN 43:03). Activity consisting of explosive eruptions, ash plumes, and ashfalls continued during December 2017 through May 2018 (table 6). Eruptions were observed by residents in Severo-Kurilsk (about 7 km E), by volcanologists, and based on satellite imagery. The Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) is responsible for monitoring Ebeko, and is the primary source of information. The Aviation Color Code (ACC) remained at Orange throughout this reporting period. This color is the second highest level of the four color scale.

Table 6. Summary of activity at Ebeko volcano from December 2017 to May 2018. Aviation Color Code (ACC) is a 4-color scale. Data courtesy of KVERT

Date Plume Altitude Plume Distance Plume Direction Other observations
1-4 and 7 Dec 2017 2 km -- -- ACC at Orange. Ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilisk. Explosions on 2-4 and 7 Dec.
8, 9, 11 Dec 2017 2.3 km -- -- Explosions.
16, 18-19, and 21-22 Dec 2017 3.5 km 16 km SSW Explosions. Ash plume and weak thermal anomaly on 16 Dec.
25 Dec 2017 1.5 km -- -- Explosion.
01-05 Jan 2018 -- -- -- No activity noted.
08-10 Jan 2018 2.5 km -- -- Explosions.
11-12, 14-16, and 18 Jan 2018 3.1 km -- -- Explosion. Minor ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilsk on 15,16, and 18 Jan.
22-23 Jan 2018 2 km -- -- Explosions.
26-27 and 29-31 Jan 2018 2.5 km -- -- Explosions. Ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilsk on 29 Jan.
05-08 Feb 2018 2.4 km -- -- Explosions. Ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilisk on 8 Feb.
09-10 and 14 Feb 2018 2.2 km -- -- Explosions.
17-18 and 20-21 Feb 2018 2.4 km -- -- Explosions. Ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilisk on 17-18 Feb.
23-25 and 27-28 Feb 2018 3.3 km -- -- Explosions.
06 Mar 2018 1.7 km -- -- Explosions.
12-13 Mar 2018 2.7 km -- -- Explosions.
18 and 21-22 Mar 2018 1.8 km -- -- Explosions. Ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilisk on 17 and 21 Mar.
23-25 and 28-29 Mar 2018 2.3 km -- -- Explosions.
31 Mar-06 Apr 2018 2.7 km -- -- Explosions.
07 and 11-12 Apr 2018 1.8 km -- -- Explosions. Ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilisk on 6 Apr.
15 and 17-19 Apr 2018 2.6 km -- -- Explosions.
21 and 25 Apr 2018 2.5 km -- -- Explosions.
01-03 May 2018 2.8 km -- -- Explosions.
04 and 06-10 May 2018 2.4 km -- -- Explosions.
12-14 May 2018 2.8 km 21 km SW Explosions. Ash plume drifted SW on 13 May.

Minor ash explosions were reported throughout the period from December 2017 through May 2018 (figure 17). Minor amounts of ash fell in Severo-Kurilisk at the end of 2017 and into 2018. Ash was reported on 2-4, and 7 December 2017; 15, 16, 18, and 29 January 2018; 8, 17, and18 February; 17 and 21 March; and 6 April. Ash plume altitudes during this reporting period ranged from 1.5 to 3.5 km (table 6); the summit is at 1.1 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Explosions from Ebeko sent ash up to an altitude of 1.5 km, or about 400 m above the summit, on 6 February 2018. Courtesy of T. Kotenko (IVS FEB RAS).

Geologic Background. The flat-topped summit of the central cone of Ebeko volcano, one of the most active in the Kuril Islands, occupies the northern end of Paramushir Island. Three summit craters located along a SSW-NNE line form Ebeko volcano proper, at the northern end of a complex of five volcanic cones. Blocky lava flows extend west from Ebeko and SE from the neighboring Nezametnyi cone. The eastern part of the southern crater contains strong solfataras and a large boiling spring. The central crater is filled by a lake about 20 m deep whose shores are lined with steaming solfataras; the northern crater lies across a narrow, low barrier from the central crater and contains a small, cold crescentic lake. Historical activity, recorded since the late-18th century, has been restricted to small-to-moderate explosive eruptions from the summit craters. Intense fumarolic activity occurs in the summit craters, on the outer flanks of the cone, and in lateral explosion craters.

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 31, Number 03 (March 2006)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Chikurachki (Russia)

Following 2-year repose, several ash plumes in March-April 2005

Colima (Mexico)

Continued ash emission, including some high level ash plumes, since June 2005

Erta Ale (Ethiopia)

Molten lava lake observations as late as 3 January 2006

Galeras (Colombia)

Heightened seismicity through April 2006; increased lava dome volume noted

Lengai, Ol Doinyo (Tanzania)

Unusual activity at summit crater during late March and early April 2006

Lokon-Empung (Indonesia)

Steaming and seismically active during January-October 2005

Mayon (Philippines)

Eruptions resume in February 2006 after a 2-year hiatus

Miyakejima (Japan)

Ash emissions in February 2006; declining SO2 flux

Montagu Island (United Kingdom)

January 2006 visit documenting steam and new lava flows

Poas (Costa Rica)

Small phreatic eruption on 24 March 2006, the first since 1994

Raoul Island (New Zealand)

Eruption on 17 March 2006 preceded by 5 days of earthquakes; 1 fatality

Tinakula (Solomon Islands)

Eruption; increased thermal anomalies during February-April 2006

Ubinas (Peru)

Ash eruption beginning 25 March 2006; heightened seismicity since November 2004

Veniaminof (United States)

Modest ash emissions during September 2005-22 April 2006



Chikurachki (Russia) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Chikurachki

Russia

50.324°N, 155.461°E; summit elev. 1781 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Following 2-year repose, several ash plumes in March-April 2005

Chikurachki last erupted during April to June 2003 (BGVN 28:07) and subsequently was apparently dormant for nearly two years. On 1 March 2005, observers in Severo-Kurilsk (~ 70 km NE of Chikurachki) saw a gas-and-steam plume rise ~ 400 m above the volcano. On 12 March 2005, MODIS satellite imagery showed an ash plume extending NNW from the volcano and led KVERT to raise the concern color code from Green to Yellow. On 23 March, satellite imagery showed a weak ash plume extending ~ 70 km E. The height of the plume was unknown, and on 25 March the hazard status was raised again from Yellow to Orange. Chikurachki is not monitored with seismic instruments but KVERT has access to satellite data and occasional visual observations of the volcano. Ash from Chikurachki fell on the southern part of Paramushir Island on 29 March. Ash deposits were visible on satellite imagery on 25 and 29 March; on the 29th they extended 19 km SE. Chikurachki remained at concern color code Orange.

During April 2005, weak fumarolic activity occurred at Chikurachki. Ash deposits covered the WNW slope of the volcano. On 7 April, an ash-and-gas plume rose to ~ 500 m above Chikurachki's crater and extended ~ 10 km S. The concern color code remained Orange through 15 April 2005 and was reduced to Yellow when satellite imagery during the week of 20-26 April did not show any thermal anomalies or ash plumes. Since that time there has been no further indication of activity.

In 2005 Gurenkoa and others published a study of glass inclusions and groundmass glasses from Chikurachki explosions in an effort to better understand the relatively rare, highly explosive eruptions of basaltic composition. Such eruptions may be important in terms of atmospheric impact because of the generally much higher solubilities of S in basaltic melts compared with silicic melts. Concentrations of H2O, major, trace and volatile (S, Cl) elements by EPMA and SIMS from glass inclusions and groundmass glasses of the 1986, 1853, and prehistoric explosive eruptions of basaltic magmas were studied.

Reference. Gurenko, A.A., Belousov, A.B., Trumbull, R.B., and Sobolev, A.V., 2005, Explosive basaltic volcanism of the Chikurachki Volcano (Kurile arc, Russia): Insights on pre-eruptive magmatic conditions and volatile budget revealed from phenocryst-hosted melt inclusions and groundmass glasses: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 147, p. 203-232. (URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/)

Geologic Background. Chikurachki, the highest volcano on Paramushir Island in the northern Kuriles, is actually a relatively small cone constructed on a high Pleistocene volcanic edifice. Oxidized basaltic-to-andesitic scoria deposits covering the upper part of the young cone give it a distinctive red color. Frequent basaltic plinian eruptions have occurred during the Holocene. Lava flows from 1781-m-high Chikurachki reached the sea and form capes on the NW coast; several young lava flows also emerge from beneath the scoria blanket on the eastern flank. The Tatarinov group of six volcanic centers is located immediately to the south of Chikurachki, and the Lomonosov cinder cone group, the source of an early Holocene lava flow that reached the saddle between it and Fuss Peak to the west, lies at the southern end of the N-S-trending Chikurachki-Tatarinov complex. In contrast to the frequently active Chikurachki, the Tatarinov volcanoes are extensively modified by erosion and have a more complex structure. Tephrochronology gives evidence of only one eruption in historical time from Tatarinov, although its southern cone contains a sulfur-encrusted crater with fumaroles that were active along the margin of a crater lake until 1959.

Information Contacts: Olga Girina, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), a cooperative program of the Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia, the Kamchatka Experimental and Methodical Seismological Department (KEMSD), GS RAS (Russia), and the Alaska Volcano Observatory (USA); Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of the U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667, USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/), the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA.


Colima (Mexico) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Colima

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued ash emission, including some high level ash plumes, since June 2005

Eruptive activity has continued at Colima from July 2005 through February 2006. Explosions that generated ash plumes were common during this period.

The Colima Volcano Observatory reported that ash emission continued at Colima during 29 June 2005 to 5 July 2005 and several plumes rose to 9-10 km altitude. On 30 June, lahars traveled SW down La Lumbre Ravine and SSE down Montegrande Ravine to a maximum length of ~ 10 km. The lahars did not reach populated areas. Due to the presence of new ash on the flanks of the volcano, seasonal heavy rains, and the subsequent threat of lahars forming, Universidad de Colima advised avoiding the ravines of La Lumbre, San Antonio, Monte Grande (in Colima state), and La Arena (in Jalisco state) throughout this interval.

The Washington VAAC reported that the Colima video camera and satellite imagery confirmed an explosive eruption on 5 July at 1821 (figure 80). The Mexico City Meteorological Watch Office (MWO) reported that the resultant ash plume reached an altitude of ~ 9.1 km and drifted NW. Pyroclastic flows accompanying the eruption traveled down the E flank.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. A photo of the explosive eruption on Colima on 5 July 2005 taken from the E. Courtesy of CVO.

Several explosions continued during 6-19 July, and small landslides traveled down the volcano's flanks during 8-9 July and 15-18 July. On 21 and 23 July, small ash emissions and lahars occurred. On the 21st during 1750-1830 a lahar traveled SSE down the Monte Grande ravine. Emissions rose to a maximum altitude of 9.1 km on 27 July. During 29 July to 1 August, steam-and-ash emissions occurred at Colima. According to the Washington VAAC, the highest-rising emission reached 6.1 km altitude on 30 July.

On 4 August the Washington VAAC reported that the Mexico City MWO observed a steam plume rising to 7.2 km altitude in imagery seen on the Colima video camera. During15-31 August, small explosions produced low-level ash plumes. The largest events, on 21 and 22 August, produced plumes that drifted W. On 31 August a 45-minute seismic signal associated with a lahar was recorded at the Monte Grande station. The lahar caused no damage.

Throughout the month of September, several small explosions occurred at Colima. On 16 September at 1045 an explosion sent an ash plume to ~ 9.8 km altitude. The local civil defense agency stated in a news report that ash fell on towns NW of the volcano. Prior to the explosion, microseismicity was recorded for several days. Universidad de Colima reported that microseismicity often precedes significant explosions. On 27 September at 0507 an explosion produced a plume to a altitude of ~ 7.6 km altitude. The plume drifted WSW, depositing small amounts of ash in the cities of Colima, Villa de álvarez, and Comala. On 28 September another explosion sent an ash plume to an altitude of ~ 6.1 km altitude and drifted NNW.

Small explosions continued to occur from October through the end of February 2006 (the end of this report), and produced visible ash plumes. Several small explosions during 16-21 November 2005 produced steam-and-ash clouds to low levels above the volcano. Explosions on 12 December 2005 resulted in small amounts of ash deposited in areas SW of the volcano.

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

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanológico de la Universidad de Colima, Colima, Col., 28045, México (URL: https://portal.ucol.mx/cueiv/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/).


Erta Ale (Ethiopia) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Erta Ale

Ethiopia

13.6°N, 40.67°E; summit elev. 613 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Molten lava lake observations as late as 3 January 2006

Viviane Grandjean wrote of her observations at Erta Ale during 24 December 2005-3 January 2006 in Bulletin No. 57 of the Société de Volcanologie Genève. On 26 December she saw the lava lake through clouds of gas; its surface was calm, with incandescent lava visible through the broken chilled surface. The S pit crater had an estimated diameter of 170 m and vertical walls, and the lava lake was about 80 m in diameter. It seemed to shrink during the next days, one part appearing hardened and forming almost a second terrace. The plates of cooled surface lava were seen moving and converging amidst degassing lava. Lava fountains were periodically visible and generally outlined the borders of the lava lake under the rim.

On 27 December, the walls of the crater were estimated at about 50 m high, with a crater diameter of about 300 m. Members of the group descended into the crater to inspect a series of active hornitos near the N vents. At one end of the line a vent lined with sulfur opened. In the interior cavity of a smaller vent temperatures of about 800°C were measured. Degassing occurred generally in the area. Lava fountaining continued.

The lava lake appeared lower and calmer to observers on 28 December, with a potential second terrace still forming. Some group members descended into the crater again and observed rockfall and continued lava fountaining.

Geologic Background. Erta Ale is an isolated basaltic shield that is the most active volcano in Ethiopia. The broad, 50-km-wide edifice rises more than 600 m from below sea level in the barren Danakil depression. Erta Ale is the namesake and most prominent feature of the Erta Ale Range. The volcano contains a 0.7 x 1.6 km, elliptical summit crater housing steep-sided pit craters. Another larger 1.8 x 3.1 km wide depression elongated parallel to the trend of the Erta Ale range is located SE of the summit and is bounded by curvilinear fault scarps on the SE side. Fresh-looking basaltic lava flows from these fissures have poured into the caldera and locally overflowed its rim. The summit caldera is renowned for one, or sometimes two long-term lava lakes that have been active since at least 1967, or possibly since 1906. Recent fissure eruptions have occurred on the N flank.

Information Contacts: Viviane Grandjean, c/o Société Volcanologique Européenne (SVE)-Société Volcanologique de Genève (SVG), Geneva, C.P.1, 1211 Geneva 17, Switzerland (URL: http://www.sveurop.org/).


Galeras (Colombia) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Galeras

Colombia

1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Heightened seismicity through April 2006; increased lava dome volume noted

Galeras was last reported on in BGVN 31:01. During the first weeks of November 2005 seismometers recorded tornillo earthquakes (long-period events with seismic traces that look like screws in profile and are currently thought to be related to pressurized fluid flow at shallow depth). Minor deformation was also recorded at Galeras. The earthquakes were similar to those that occurred before eruptions in 1992-93. On 24 November at 0246 seismic signals indicated the beginning of an eruption. Ash fell in the towns of Fontibon, San Cayetano, Postobon, and in north Pasto. Activity decreased by the next day, so the Alert Level was reduced. Thousands of people were evacuated during the week prior to the eruption. Gas emissions continued through December 2005 and January and February 2006. During 23 January to 6 February, the lava dome in the main crater continued to grow; strong degassing occurred in several sectors of the active cone and around the lava dome. Galeras remained at Alert Level 3 ("changes in the behavior of volcanic activity have been noted") through February 2006.

During the last week of February, seismic stations detected an average of 280 small earthquakes per day. On 26 February a shallow M 4.8 volcano-tectonic earthquake below the volcano was recorded at 1009, followed by 35 smaller earthquakes. SO2 flux of about 600 metric tons per day was measured during February. Steam and gas rose to ~ 700 m above the volcano.

During 27 February to 6 March an increase in the volume of the lava dome located in the main crater was observed. During March, seismicity at Galeras decreased in comparison to the previous several weeks and deformation was measured at the volcano. Plumes of mainly steam, gas, and small amounts of ash were emitted from the volcano and rose to a maximum height of 1.2 km above the volcano.

Due to an increase in tremor at Galeras beginning on the morning of 28 March 2006, INGEOMINAS raised the Alert Level from 3 to 2 (likely eruption in days or weeks). On 28 March, energetic signals and tremor began and seismic instruments detected very shallow low-energy hybrid signals, similar to ones recorded during 1991-1993 when dome emplacement occurred on the main crater's floor.

The increase in seismic energy ended on 29 March. The number of earthquakes beneath the volcano decreased during 28 March to 3 April (an average of 66 earthquakes was recorded daily), in comparison to the previous week (an average of 89 earthquakes was recorded daily). Steam columns rose up to ~ 500 m above the volcano and the outer layer of the lava dome at the volcano's summit cooled in comparison to previous weeks.

During 5-24 April, decreases were observed in seismicity, deformation, gas emissions, and temperatures. According to INGEOMINAS, most of the explosive eruptions at Galeras in the past 17 years occurred when parameters were at similarly low levels. In addition, the current lava dome has a significantly greater volume than the dome that was destroyed during an eruption in 1992. The volume of magma in the interior of the volcanic system is greater than during 1989-1993. Galeras remained at Alert Level 2.

Geologic Background. Galeras, a stratovolcano with a large breached caldera located immediately west of the city of Pasto, is one of Colombia's most frequently active volcanoes. The dominantly andesitic complex has been active for more than 1 million years, and two major caldera collapse eruptions took place during the late Pleistocene. Long-term extensive hydrothermal alteration has contributed to large-scale edifice collapse on at least three occasions, producing debris avalanches that swept to the west and left a large horseshoe-shaped caldera inside which the modern cone has been constructed. Major explosive eruptions since the mid-Holocene have produced widespread tephra deposits and pyroclastic flows that swept all but the southern flanks. A central cone slightly lower than the caldera rim has been the site of numerous small-to-moderate historical eruptions since the time of the Spanish conquistadors.

Information Contacts: Diego Gomez Martinez, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Pasto (OVSP), INGEOMINAS, Carrera 31, 1807 Parque Infantil, PO Box 1795, Pasto, Colombia (URL: https://www2.sgc.gov.co/volcanes/index.html; Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/); El Pais (URL: http://elpais-cali.terra.com.co/paisonline/).


Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Ol Doinyo Lengai

Tanzania

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Unusual activity at summit crater during late March and early April 2006

Typical activity continued at Ol Doinyo Lengai from December 2005 through mid-March 2006. Unusual activity, including a large plume and significant lava overflows from the summit crater, occurred during late March and early April. Much of the following information was posted on websites maintained by Fred Belton or Chris Weber, or was contained in email from local sources or visitors relayed by Belton or Celia Nyamweru. None of the reports regarding the unusual March-April activity originated from sources close enough to describe the exact nature of the eruption.

Activity during 20 December 2005-13 March 2006. The local Masai guide William reported an eruption from hornito T49B during a visit on 20 December 2005. When David Bygott climbed the volcano on 22 December the crater was inactive. A recent narrow flow of pahoehoe lava from the NW flank of T49B had flowed across the NW crater rim overflow, and was still warm and making cracking noises. A wide pahoehoe-textured lava flow from T56B had mostly turned white and appeared to be several days to a week old.

On 4 January 2006 Bernhard Donth observed lava escaping from T49B; spatter and little flows went in all directions. One bigger lava flow had reached as far as the NW overflow. A report from Christian Mann of a climb on 10 January only noted degassing from T47. A photo taken that day from the summit showed a white and brown crater with no indication of recent activity. However, Belton noted that during the previous weeks lava had apparently filled up the large open vent of T56B and had flowed from there and possibly other locations onto the NE part of the crater floor.

Chris DeVries and a group of other students from McGill University visited during 25-26 February. Many hornitos were intermittently degassing. T58B was spattering a bit, and magma was heard sloshing around. A small ~ 10-m-long flow had erupted from this vent earlier in the day; it was still very black and hot. T57B had a large opening to its NW, but it did not appear that any recent flows had come from this opening. The base of this cone later ruptured, and the lava inside drained out quickly and violently; the flow proceeded to the E overflow.

Christoph Weber arrived with a film team at the crater on 2 February 2006. The tallest hornito (T49B) reached approximately 2,890 m elevation (measured with GPS), ~ 60 m above the crater floor at the NW overflow (figure 87). No recent eruption had occurred at T49B, but strong noisy degassing took place sometimes. Just E of T49B the hornito T56B had convecting lava deep inside and some days-old lava flows stretched from three different vents at T56B to the E overflow. After the major collapse of T56B in 2004, this hornito (at approximately 2,875 m elevation on 2 February) has nearly grown up again to its former shape and height. Also from T58C and the collapsed T58B hornito some days-old lava flows were found on the eastern slopes passing the old and weathered T37, T37B, and T45 cones.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. View of Ol Doinyo Lengai on 6 February 2006, looking NW at the central hornito cluster. Fresh lava flows are black. A person can be seen near the recent lava flow in front of T57B. Courtesy of C. Weber.

The caldera-shaped collapsed T58B had its flat floor at ~ 2,865 m elevation with four active vents inside. Lava convection was close to the surface of T58B and inside the tall T58C. At 1300 on 2 February a sudden increase of activity took place with two lava fountains at T58B lasting only some seconds. At the same time lava spilled from all T58B vents, a T58C flank vent, and a T56B vent. Lava spatter with lava flows inside T58B and up to ~ 150 m towards the E occurred over the following 3 days. On 6 and 7 February, higher activity occurred with lava outflow at T58C. During an observation flight on 13 February, Weber noticed new lava flows from T58B and T56B. Crater rim overflow measurements on 2 February 2006 were unchanged since August 2005 (BGVN 30:10).

Photographs taken by Michael Dalton-Smith from a plane on 13 March 2006 showed many small flows extending in all directions from the central cluster. The flow over the NW rim seemed to be confined to a channel and did not spread out until it was further down the mountain.

Unusual activity starting in late March. David Peterson saw a fairly obvious plume at the top of the mountain (figure 88) on 28 March. A day or two after that he heard reports of lava pouring down the volcano's sides with some residents moving out of Engare Sero as a result. Unconfirmed news reports in The Guardian on 1 April described a scene of "rumbling" noises with lava and ash discharges on 30 March that prompted hundreds to as many as 3,000 local residents to flee the area. Peterson also relayed that his colleague Habibu reported on 1 April that the lava flows had abated. Another friend, Achmed, noted that a river of lava extending from the crater to the base of the volcano was about the "width of a four lane highway" (12 m). An Agence France Presse news report, with quotes from Emmanuel Chausi, a conservation officer with the nearby Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), claimed that "huge plumes of detritus" were ejected during the nights of both 2 and 3 April, but no lava was reported.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. A photograph, undated, but from the time period of the eruption, shows a white plume from Ol Doinyo Lengai. This is probably what started the rumor of a major eruption. Fred Belton saw a similar cloud on 15 July 2004 when lava vaporized a big area of plants on the E rim. Fred Belton received this photograph, taken from Basecamp Tanzania, on 9 April 2006.

Photos received from Dean Polley, taken 1 April, provide additional information about the eruption (figure 89). Based on these aerial photos, Belton's interpretation is that lava on 30 March must have erupted strongly from at or near the central cluster. A deep channel visible down the flank indicates a flow lasting some hours through a channel deepened by thermal erosion. A crater photo from Matt Jones also taken on 1 April (figure 90) confirmed that there had been recent strong activity from the T56B and T58C hornitos. C. Weber relayed that visitors who climbed the volcano later on (with guide Othman Swalehe ) reported a lava channel 5 m wide and 2.5 m deep, starting from the T58C hornito, following the flow field to the SW and then continuing outside the crater at the W overflow where there was a channel 8 m wide and 3 m deep. The collapsed hornito area at T56B and T58B measured about 30 m N-S and 15 m E-W with an active lava lake inside. The tall hornitos T58C (partly collapsed to the SE), T49B, and T57B were mostly not affected by the collapse, and the W part of T56B remained standing.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Aerial photograph of Ol Doinyo Lengai looking approximately ESE showing the summit crater and lava overflows, 1 April 2006. Courtesy of Dean Polley.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Photograph of the Ol Doinyo Lengai crater on 1 April 2006, looking NW at the central hornito cluster. The T58C hornito is completely split, with the south half removed. A significant portion of T56B is also missing. See figure 87 for a comparison with crater morphology on 6 February 2006 and identification of hornitos. Photo by Matt Jones, provided courtesy of F. Belton.

Michael Dalton-Smith flew over on 4 April and saw more recent black flows partially covering the gray flows from 30 March. When Dalton-Smith drove from Seronera to the crater on 4 April, he had a great cloud-free view. Using binoculars it appeared that there was a huge fountain out of one of the hornitos, and all hornitos had black plumes rising from them.

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

Information Contacts: Frederick Belton, Developmental Studies Department, PO Box 16, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, USA (URL: http://oldoinyolengai.pbworks.com/); Christoph Weber, Volcano Expeditions International, Muehlweg 11, 74199 Untergruppenbach, Germany (URL: http://www.v-e-i.de/); Bernhard Donth, Waldwiese 5, 66123 Saarbruecken, Germany; Celia Nyamweru, Department of Anthropology, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617, USA; Guardian News, Arusha, Tanzania (URL: http://www.ippmedia.com/); Agence France Presse (URL: http://www.afp.com/).


Lokon-Empung (Indonesia) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Lokon-Empung

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Steaming and seismically active during January-October 2005

The twin volcanoes of Lokon and Empung exhibited low levels of activity during 2005. Table 9 is a summary of reported gas emissions and number of volcanic earthquakes during 2005.

Table 9. Summary of activity at Lokon-Empung during 2005, indicating the height and composition of plumes observed and the numbers of earthquakes recorded. Data courtesy of CVGHM.

Date Deep volcanic (A-type) Shallow volcanic (B-type) Plume height Plume color and composition
18 Jan-24 Jan 2005 9 75 -- --
24 Jan-30 Jan 2005 3 88 35 m white gas
02 May 2005 3 44 -- --
09 May 2005 3 139 50 m white gas
26 Sep-02 Oct 2005 6 117 15 m white gas
03 Oct-09 Oct 2005 5 126 25 m white gas

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: Dali Ahmad, Hetty Triastuty, Nia Haerani and Suswati, Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/).


Mayon (Philippines) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Mayon

Philippines

13.257°N, 123.685°E; summit elev. 2462 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruptions resume in February 2006 after a 2-year hiatus

Since the previous report in December 2004 (BGVN 29:12) Mayon had remained quiet until 21 February 2006. On that day the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported that a minor explosion at 0941 produced an ash plume that rose ~ 500 m above the volcano's crater and drifted SW. Ash was deposited on the upper slopes of the volcano. The ash emission was accompanied by a small explosion-type earthquake, recorded only by seismographs around the volcano.

Prior to the explosion PHIVOLCS had seen an increase in seismicity at the volcano. Between 1545 on 20 February and 0520 on 21 February, there were 147 low-frequency earthquakes recorded, a number considerably above the five or fewer events per day normally detected. Seismicity also indicated some minor rockfalls, which probably resulted from lava blocks detaching from the summit. Steaming was observed. No incandescence was visible at the crater due to clouds obscuring the volcano.

PHIVOLCS reported that about nine earthquakes related to explosive activity took place at Mayon around 23 February. Cloudy conditions prevented visual observations, but the seismic events detected probably signified minor ash explosions. This was supported by reports from local residents who heard rumbling. The seismic network also recorded two low-frequency earthquakes associated with shallow magma movement. The SO2 flux averaged 1,740 metric tons per day (t/d), similar to values obtained during the last measurements on 28 November 2005. The flux was well above the usual 500 t/d measured at the volcano. Mayon remained at Alert Level 2, with a 6-km-radius Permanent Danger Zone in effect. At this point the possibility of more violent eruptions triggered warnings to tourists and the public in general to remain outside of the danger zone.

Geologic Background. Beautifully symmetrical Mayon, which rises above the Albay Gulf NW of Legazpi City, is the Philippines' most active volcano. The structurally simple edifice has steep upper slopes averaging 35-40 degrees that are capped by a small summit crater. Historical eruptions date back to 1616 and range from Strombolian to basaltic Plinian, with cyclical activity beginning with basaltic eruptions, followed by longer term andesitic lava flows. Eruptions occur predominately from the central conduit and have also produced lava flows that travel far down the flanks. Pyroclastic flows and mudflows have commonly swept down many of the approximately 40 ravines that radiate from the summit and have often devastated populated lowland areas. A violent eruption in 1814 killed more than 1,200 people and devastated several towns.

Information Contacts: Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), Department of Science and Technology, PHIVOLCS Building, C.P. Garcia Avenue, Univ. of the Philippines Campus, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines (URL: http://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/).


Miyakejima (Japan) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Miyakejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash emissions in February 2006; declining SO2 flux

According to a news report, there was a minor eruption at Miyake-jima on 17 February 2006 that consisted of small ash emissions. Residents of the island were warned that there could be gas emissions and mudslides. The Geological Survey of Japan (AIST) website reported that the SO2 flux at Miyake-jima averaged about 2,000-5,000 tons per day in January 2006 (figure 22). The previous activity took place in November-December 2004, ending on 9 December 2004 when minor eruptions were reported after a two-year lull. As of mid-April 2006 no further activity had been reported.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) flux monitoring of Miyake-jima by COSPEC V was conducted from 26 August 2000, peaking in early 2000 at values well over 100,000 metric tons per day and dropping off slowly after that. Daily monitoring was performed by the Japanese Meteorological Agency and Geological Survey of Japan.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Volcanological Division, 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/); A. Tomiya, Geological Survey of Japan (AIST), 1-1 Higashi, 1-Chome Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-856, Japan (URL: https://staff.aist.go.jp/a.tomiya/miyakeE.html); Kazahaya Kohei, Geological Survey of Japan (URL: https://staff.aist.go.jp/kazahaya-k/miyakegas/COSPEC.html); Earthquake Research Institute (ERI), University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0032, Japan.


Montagu Island (United Kingdom) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Montagu Island

United Kingdom

58.445°S, 26.374°W; summit elev. 1370 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


January 2006 visit documenting steam and new lava flows

Recent volcanism on Montagu Island was discovered based on satellite information (BGVN 30:11). Thanks to a visit from the South African icebreaker MV SA Agulhas, the first photographs of the island are now available, taken from just offshore. The Agulhas is an Antarctic supply and oceanographic research vessel built in the late 1970s; it is affiliated with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Antarctica and Islands Division. She left Cape Town on 1 December 2005, and her journey was the focus of several reports (e.g., Hunter, 2005). The westerly position of pack ice during the course of this voyage enabled the Agulhas to visit Penguin Bukta, an indentation (bay) in the coastal ice shelf (figure 13).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. A map indicating the location of Montagu island with respect to features in the region. The pack ice is mobile and the position shown refers to conditions on 10 January 2006 as mapped by satellite radar (NASA/JAXA). Courtesy of Ian Hunter, South African Weather Service.

The Agulhas departed Penguin Bukta on 8 January to deploy drifting weather buoys and to install an automatic weather station on South Thule island at the extreme S end of the South Sandwich Islands. Besides the usual hazards of Antarctic travel and navigation, the South Sandwich Islands were the scene of some severe undersea earthquakes as the Agulhas entered those waters. This was of concern because such earthquakes can cause significant bathymetric change. The US Geological Survey posted detailed information on two large 2006 earthquakes to the E of the islands. The first, on 2 January, had M 7.3 and, fortunately, a moderately deep focal depth of 46 km.

The ship reached offshore of the remote, uninhabited Montagu island in mid-January 2006 (figures 14 and 15). These pictures were forwarded to the Smithsonian by Ian Hunter who received them from Frikkie Viljoen (the ice navigator), and Dave Hall (the ship's Master) after the Agulhas returned from Antarctica on 19 February 2006.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Lava from Montagu Island eruption entering the sea. The photo was taken on 13 January 2006 from the SA Agulhas while lying to the N of the Island. The geometry of the setting given here is based on the MODIS photo taken on 9 September 2005 (BGVN 30:11) that clearly indicates the lava flow streaming N into the sea. Courtesy of Dave Hall and Frikkie Viljoen, SA Agulhas, and Ian Hunter, South African Weather Service.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Photo taken on 13 January 2006 from the SA Agulhas from N of Montagu Island showing the lava field formed by the recent eruption. Courtesy of Dave Hall and Frikkie Viljoen, SA Agulhas, and Ian Hunter, South African Weather Service.

In an e-mail message to Hunter on the return leg of the voyage (on 16 January), Hall noted the following. "By now you will have heard that we successfully deployed the new weather station at Thule Island and had a good look at the eruption on Montagu. We got to within 1.5 miles [2.4 km] of the lava flow, but it was strangely disappointing. Although it was during the evening it was still full daylight so the lava flow was just the same colour as the surrounding rock, not dramatic at all! The most visible feature was the steam plume as the hot lava entered the sea. The top of the island was covered in cloud but that did part long enough to get a quick sighting of the summit, emitting the smoke and ash cloud."

John Smellie of the British Antarctic Survey reported hearing from a Falklands contact that an RAF flight sent at Christmas 2005 had taken photos and reported the eruption was "over." In addition, there could also be first-hand news from a yacht that was to be in the area during January 2006.

Reference. Hunter, Ian, (12 January) 2006, International Support for the SA Agulhas's mission in Antarctica, in Ports & Ships, Shipping News?reporting from the harbours of South Africa & Southern Africa (URL: http://www.ports.co.za/didyouknow/)

Geologic Background. The largest of the South Sandwich Islands, Montagu consists of a massive shield volcano cut by a 6-km-wide ice-filled summit caldera. The summit of the 10 x 12 km wide island rises about 3000 m from the sea floor between Bristol and Saunders Islands. Around 90% of the island is ice-covered; glaciers extending to the sea typically form vertical ice cliffs. The name Mount Belinda has been applied both to the high point at the southern end of the summit caldera and to the young central cone. Mount Oceanite, an isolated 900-m-high peak with a 270-m-wide summit crater, lies at the SE tip of the island and was the source of lava flows exposed at Mathias Point and Allen Point. There was no record of Holocene or historical eruptive activity until MODIS satellite data, beginning in late 2001, revealed thermal anomalies consistent with lava lake activity that has been persistent since then. Apparent plumes and single anomalous pixels were observed intermittently on AVHRR images during the period March 1995 to February 1998, possibly indicating earlier unconfirmed and more sporadic volcanic activity.

Information Contacts: Ian T. Hunter, South African Weather Service, Private Bag X097, Pretoria 0001, South Africa (URL: http://www.weathersa.co.za/); Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Antarctica and Islands Division, Private Bag X447, Pretoria 0001, South Africa; John Smellie, British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingly Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, United Kingdom (URL: https://www.bas.ac.uk/).


Poas (Costa Rica) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Poas

Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small phreatic eruption on 24 March 2006, the first since 1994

Poás was last reported on in BGVN 28:09, covering the period from September 2001 to December 2002. The focus of activity at Poás during that time was the main crater and its fumaroles, and its low-pH, variably colored lake.

A field team from Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA) visited Poás on 25 January 2006 and found that the level of the volcano's hot acidic crater lake had risen in comparison to the previous month. Sustained rainfall during the previous months caused the water level to rise by ~ 4 m. The area of the lake increased by ~ 20%. Flooding occurred in relatively flat areas to the N, E, and SE. The shoreline extended about 150 m toward the SE. Scattered fumaroles and hot spots at the N base of the lava dome were flooded. Increased steaming was visible from the National Park. The average lake temperature remained at 22°C, with hot spots near the rim reaching up to 80°C. OVSICORI-UNA staff noted that in the past an increase in lake level during a rainy period has been followed by a decrease during the drier months of February to April.

On 24 March 2006 around noon, the first eruptions since 1994 began at Poás. The small, phreatic eruptions originated from the bottom of the volcano's Caliente Lake and dispersed mud, gas, and acid rain toward the S and SW parts of the crater. Witnesses described a sudden emission of water and sediments S of the lake. Roaring was heard in a nearby tourist area and weak earthquakes were felt. The strongest eruption occurred on the night of 24 March, when ejected volcanic material reached 200 m high and acid rain showered park headquarters, located 800 m S of the crater. During 25 March at least 8 eruptions took place. Due to the likelihood of more explosions the local National Emergencies Agency temporarily closed the park.

OVSICORI-UNA staff visited the E side of the volcano on 25 March and confirmed that water, blocks, and sediments from the bottom of the lake had been ejected. Several dozens of impact craters were seen with diameters between 15 and 60 cm, extending E as far as 700 m (figure 80). During 22-27 March, harmonic tremor was recorded. On the 27th, there was a reduction in seismicity and it returned to normal levels. No deformation was measured at the volcano. A news article reported that the area around the volcano was closed to visitors.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Photo of the E side of Poás, annotated with observations made by OVSICORI-UNA staff. Impact craters ranged in size from a few cm to 70 cm; blocks ranged from a few cm to 50 cm and were scattered randomly over the area investigated. Blocks of fine-grained lake sediments were also observed and collected. The material collected was interpreted as pre-existent solid material from the bottom of the lake that has been heavily altered by the action of hot acidic fluids during the last 12 years. Photo courtesy of Eliecer Duarte Gonzalez, OVSICORI-UNA.

Following the eruptions that began on 24 March, seismicity at Poás decreased by 27 March and harmonic tremor that was recorded during the heightened activity ceased.

On 1 April 2006, OVSICORI-UNA staff visited Caliente Lake and its surroundings. During this visit the widening of the lake perimeter was confirmed as well as the emplacement of lake sediments and pre-existent blocks from both the bottom of the lake and its walls. Fracturing of the dome's N wall was also confirmed. The lake temperature was 54°C, with a pH of 0.63. The water was light gray due to the great quantity of suspended sediments. The park surrounding the volcano was reopened on 1 April.

Geologic Background. The broad, well-vegetated edifice of Poás, one of the most active volcanoes of Costa Rica, contains three craters along a N-S line. The frequently visited multi-hued summit crater lakes of the basaltic-to-dacitic volcano, which is one of Costa Rica's most prominent natural landmarks, are easily accessible by vehicle from the nearby capital city of San José. A N-S-trending fissure cutting the 2708-m-high complex stratovolcano extends to the lower northern flank, where it has produced the Congo stratovolcano and several lake-filled maars. The southernmost of the two summit crater lakes, Botos, is cold and clear and last erupted about 7500 years ago. The more prominent geothermally heated northern lake, Laguna Caliente, is one of the world's most acidic natural lakes, with a pH of near zero. It has been the site of frequent phreatic and phreatomagmatic eruptions since the first historical eruption was reported in 1828. Eruptions often include geyser-like ejections of crater-lake water.

Information Contacts: Eliecer Duarte Gonzalez, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica. (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/); Rafael Barquero, Red Sismiológica Nacional, Sección de Sismología, Vulcanología y Exploración Geofisica, Escuela Centroamericana de Geología, Universidad de Costa Rica, Aptdo. 560-2300, Curridabat, San José, Costa Rica.


Raoul Island (New Zealand) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Raoul Island

New Zealand

29.27°S, 177.92°W; summit elev. 516 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption on 17 March 2006 preceded by 5 days of earthquakes; 1 fatality

An eruption took place on 17 March 2006 at Raoul Island, killing one person. Brad Scott, New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS), reported that on the evening of 12 March 2006 earthquakes began near Raoul Island. More than 200 earthquakes were recorded in the first 24 hours, with many of the larger events felt on the island. Earthquakes continued throughout the week, but the numbers gradually decreased.

An eruption from the Green Lake crater, within the Raoul caldera (figure 2), began at 0821 on 17 March. Other than the precursory seismicity, no water-level or temperature changes were observed, even only 24 hours before the eruption. Based on data from the seismograph on the island, the eruption appears to have continued for up to 30 minutes, although the most intense part of the eruption lasted for only 5 to 10 minutes. Following the eruption, the rate of earthquake activity doubled, but by 23 March the number of earthquakes was reduced to 10-20 per day. No thermal anomalies were detected by the MODIS satellite system during March 2006.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Maps of Raoul Island taken from New Zealand governmental publications issued considerably prior to the 2006 eruption. A) Sketch map of the entire island (from Lloyd and Nathan, 1981). B) A second sketch map showing key areas of volcanism during the past 4,000 years (from Latter and others, 1992). C) A more detailed view of Raoul caldera and the cratered interior of the island, with contour lines at 20 m intervals (from Lloyd and Nathan, 1981). The northern caldera contains three small lakes: Blue Lake (1.17 km2, about 40% overgrown), Green Lake (160,000 m2), and Tui Lake (5,000 m2, drinking water quality). The island's high point is Moumoukai (516 m). Unfortunately, the current report mentions a few other features undisclosed on these maps. Courtesy of GNS.

The 2006 eruption blew over mature trees out to ~ 200 m and deposited dark gray mud and large ballistic blocks. Many of the steep crater margins had post-eruption collapses marked by fresh landslides.

The New Zealand Department of Conservation evacuated five staff members from the island, but one worker, taking water-temperature measurements at Green Lake at the time of the eruption, was killed. Devastation left by the eruption thwarted efforts to find the missing worker (figure 3). A news story reported that the missing man left around 0730 on 17 March to walk to Green Lake. An hour later the volcano erupted.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Photo reportedly taken by the rescue helicopter pilot John Funnell of the area affected by the volcanic eruption on Raoul Island, 17 March 2006. AP Photo; photo credit to John Funnell.

Volcano monitoring of the Raoul crater lakes started after the 1964 eruption, as these lakes responded measurably before that event, consistent with a long-lived hydrothermal system. There are low-temperature (boiling-point) fumaroles in the vicinity of Green Lake and minor seepages of hydrothermal brine from the system (boiling hot springs) along Oneraki Beach, outside of the caldera. The gases have strong hydrothermal signatures (as opposed to proximal magmatic). As such, they do not suggest single-phase vapor transport directly from a magmatic source to the surface, but rather are indicative of the presence of boiling hydrothermal brine at depth. GNS has no quantitative data from Denham Bay (offshore to the W of the island, but scientists from the organization found boiling-point (100° C) steaming ground on the steep crater walls, and gas and water seeps in the sea. Historical observations of volcanic eruptions from this caldera (and Raoul caldera) point to the likely existence of a sizable active system residing there.

Still and video footage taken of the post-eruptive scene on 17 March 2006 showed many new craters and reactivation of 1964 craters. The main steam columns were derived from Crater I, Marker Bay, and Crater XI. Fumarolic activity appeared near the mouth of Crater Gully and the stream that drains from Crater V. The area NW of Bubbling Bay, where there had been a fumarole, contained a crater about 20-30 m across.

In the main body of Green Lake there were two areas of strong upwelling. One occurred near the end of the peninsula S of Crater XII (a promontory that had been explosively removed). Jagged rocks were visible in the lake where it had been 2-4 m deep. There was also a new feature about 200-300 m N of Green Lake's Crater XII (figure 2B); the new feature included a moat near the edge of the crater floor, which contained a vigorously active vent. Green Lake's surface did not appear elevated at the time of the post-eruption 17 March observations.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) was detected by satellite about 5 hours after the 17 March eruption (figure 4). SO2 data was collected by the Aura Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), which is affiliated with the University of Maryland, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), and the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). The highest SO2 values stood over and adjacent to the island and reached as high as two Dobson Units (DU, figure 4). Simon Carn noted that the total mass of SO2 in figure 4 was ~ 200 tons. Subsequent observations did not detect further SO2 discharge.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Atmospheric sulfur dioxide (SO2) detected by the Aura/OMI satellite about 5.65 hours after the Raoul Island eruption's onset on 17 March 2006. (The eruption onset was at about 0821 local time and this SO2 observation was at about 1358 local time (0158 UTC).) Image courtesy of Simon Carn, the OMI SO2 group at the University of Maryland, and NASA/KNMI/FMI.

An aerial inspection on 21 March made from a Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion aircraft allowed excellent views of both the Raoul and Denham Bay calderas. Visible steam discharge from the vents had declined significantly owing to a 6-8 m rise in Green Lake's water level and the consequent drowning of most of the active vents. The lake level did not appear to have reached overflow level. Landsliding and collapse also blocked Crater I. Vigorous upwelling and gas discharge was still obvious through Green Lake, which appeared very warm.

There was no evidence of further eruptions since 17 March, nor was there any evidence that activity had occurred from the 1964 craters adjacent to Crater Gully (i.e. craters III, IV, and VI-X). However, many new craters formed at the mouth of Crater Gully where hot bare ground had been present. There was a possible NE-trend through the vents from Crater Gully to NE of Crater XII. In 1964 the craters aligned along three parallel fractures that tended NW. Heightened activity was not confined to the lake.

In Denham Bay GNS scientists observed a weak plume of discolored water approximately coincident with the vent area. There was evidence of hydrothermal seepage along most of the beach (milky discoloration indicating mixing of hydrothermal brine and seawater). There were also discharges in the rocky bay halfway between Hutchison Bluff and the NW end of Denham beach (figure 2A). If these are confirmed as hydrothermal seepages, they represent a significant rise in the surface of the hydrothermal fluids in the system, consistent with that observed in the caldera.

On 23 March 2006, the GNS reported that scientists who flew over noted that the hydrothermal system under the island showed signs of over-pressuring. GNS volcanologist Bruce Christenson stated, "From our aerial observations, it is clear that the heat, gas, and water that are discharging into Green Lake are making this part of the volcano's hydrothermal system unstable." Several new steam vents opened in and around Green Lake during the eruption and some old ones had reactivated. Many of these were drowned as a result of lake-level rise. According to Christenson, "one explanation for the increased hydrothermal activity is that it is being driven by the intrusion of magma at depth."

Steve Sherburn of GNS reported on 24 March on the GeoNet website (the New Zealand GeoNet Project provides real-time monitoring and data collection for rapid response and research into earthquake, volcano, landslide, and tsunami hazards) that over the last few days the level of earthquake activity at or close to Raoul Island had continued to decline to a current level of only 5-10 earthquakes per day, most of which were probably too small to be felt on the island. There is no unequivocal seismic evidence for magma movement (such as the strong volcanic tremor observed before the 1964 eruption). Careful seismic monitoring of Raoul Island will continue.

Brad Scott reported on 3 April 2006 that activity continued to decline in the Green Lake crater area. The most recently available photographs showed the water level continuing to rise slowly in Green Lake, but it had not reached overflow level. Over the last few days the level of earthquake activity at or close to Raoul Island continued to decline and in early April there were only 2-5 earthquakes per day being recorded.

References. Latter, J.H.; Lloyd, E.F.; Smith, I.E.M.; and Nathan, S., 1992, Volcanic hazards in the Kermadec Islands, and at submarine volcanoes between Southern Tonga and New Zealand: Volcanic Hazards Information Series, no. 4 (CD 303), New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence, 45 p. (Booklet) ISBN 0-477-07472-3Lloyd, E.F., and Nathan, S., 1981, Geology and tephrochronology of Raoul Island, Kermadec Group, New Zealand: New Zealand Geological Survey Bulletin, no. 95, 105 p. (includes map in back pocket).

Geologic Background. Anvil-shaped Raoul Island is the largest and northernmost of the Kermadec Islands. During the past several thousand years volcanism has been dominated by dacitic explosive eruptions. Two Holocene calderas exist, the older of which cuts the center the island and is about 2.5 x 3.5 km wide. Denham caldera, formed during a major dacitic explosive eruption about 2200 years ago, truncated the W side of the island and is 6.5 x 4 km wide. Its long axis is parallel to the tectonic fabric of the Havre Trough that lies W of the volcanic arc. Historical eruptions during the 19th and 20th centuries have sometimes occurred simultaneously from both calderas, and have consisted of small-to-moderate phreatic eruptions, some of which formed ephemeral islands in Denham caldera. An unnamed submarine cone, one of several located along a fissure on the lower NNE flank, has also erupted during historical time, and satellitic vents are concentrated along two parallel NNE-trending lineaments.

Information Contacts: Brad Scott, Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS), Wairakei Research Centre, 114 Karetoto Road, Taupo, New Zealand (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz/, http://www.gns.cri.nz/).


Tinakula (Solomon Islands) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Tinakula

Solomon Islands

10.386°S, 165.804°E; summit elev. 796 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption; increased thermal anomalies during February-April 2006

According to Simon Carn, volcanic activity at Tinakula appears to have begun on 12 February 2006, with a small explosion followed by degassing. He noted some significant SO2 emissions on 14 February, as well as small plumes from Ambrym and Aoba. As of 16 February, there was still a small SO2 signal from Tinakula, but it was no bigger than that from Ambrym or Aoba. Andrew Tupper noted from visible MTSAT (Multi-functional Transport Satellite) images and an Aqua MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) screen shot that a plume on 14 February was moving NNE at ~ 10 km/hour and appeared to be not far above summit level; the plume did not register on the IR imagery. MTSAT is a dual-mission satellite for the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport and the Japan Meteorological Agency performing an air traffic control and navigation, as well as a meteorological, functions.

On 27 February, Thomas Toba of the Solomon Islands government wrote to Herman Patia of the Rabaul Volcano Observatory, confirming Tinakula activity. Toba contacted authorities from the Temotu Provincial Headquarters who confirmed that there were several small explosions from this volcano around early to middle February 2006.

Satellite thermal-sensor data (using the MODVOLC alert-detection algorithm) revealed a period of thermal anomalies on the uninhabited island of Tinakula during cloud-free intervals in early to mid-February 2006 (table 1). The anomalies were particularly numerous on 11 February. The information was extracted from the MODIS Thermal Alerts website maintained by the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) (see also BGVN 29:06 and 28:01). The satellites used were Aqua and Terra MODIS. Confirmation of the volcanic source of the anomalies was not broadly distributed until late March 2006.

Table 1. MODVOLC thermal anomalies at Tinakula for mid-February through mid-April 2006. Since the start of monitoring by MODIS satellite sensors on 8 May 2001, no thermal anomalies had been measured at Tinakula before 11 February 2006. Courtesy of University of Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology MODIS Hotspot Alert website.

Date Time (UTC) Pixels Satellite
11 Feb 2006 1125 6 Terra
11 Feb 2006 1425 10 Aqua
11 Feb 2006 2350 3 Terra
12 Feb 2006 0240 4 Aqua
13 Feb 2006 2340 3 Terra
15 Feb 2006 1500 2 Aqua
18 Feb 2006 1430 2 Aqua
03 Mar 2006 2325 1 Terra
06 Mar 2006 1430 1 Aqua
08 Mar 2006 1120 1 Terra
08 Mar 2006 1420 2 Aqua
13 Mar 2006 1135 1 Terra
15 Mar 2006 1425 1 Aqua
20 Mar 2006 1145 1 Terra
09 Apr 2006 1420 1 Aqua
14 Apr 2006 1135 1 Terra
16 Apr 2006 1125 2 Terra
16 Apr 2006 1425 1 Aqua
18 Apr 2006 1410 3 Aqua
19 Apr 2006 1455 1 Aqua

Geologic Background. The small 3.5-km-wide island of Tinakula is the exposed summit of a massive stratovolcano at the NW end of the Santa Cruz islands. Similar to Stromboli, it has a breached summit crater that extends from the summit to below sea level. Landslides enlarged this scarp in 1965, creating an embayment on the NW coast. The satellitic cone of Mendana is located on the SE side. The dominantly andesitic volcano has frequently been observed in eruption since the era of Spanish exploration began in 1595. In about 1840, an explosive eruption apparently produced pyroclastic flows that swept all sides of the island, killing its inhabitants. Frequent historical eruptions have originated from a cone constructed within the large breached crater. These have left the upper flanks and the steep apron of lava flows and volcaniclastic debris within the breach unvegetated.

Information Contacts: Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, 1680 East-West Road, POST 602, Honolulu, HI 96822 (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu); Simon Carn, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET), Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) Volcanic Emissions Group, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250; Andrew Tupper, Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Thomas Toba, Ministry of Energy, Water, and Minerals Resources, Honiara, Solomon Islands; Herman Patia, Rabaul Volcano Observatory, P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Ubinas (Peru) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Ubinas

Peru

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash eruption beginning 25 March 2006; heightened seismicity since November 2004

Ubinas began erupting ash on 25 March 2006. Since mid-2005 a small increase in fumarolic activity had been seen during visits to the crater by personnel from the Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP), UNSA local university, and the Instituto Geologico, Minero y Metalurgico (INGEMMET); it was also reported by local authorities. Increased fumarolic emissions described by INGEMMET were reported on 18 January 2006 by Diario Digital Sur Noticias. Fumaroles started to make strong jet noises, and seismic activity increased, in February 2006. The eruption that began on 25 March, described below, has continued through at least late April.

On 25 March farmers from Querapi village, 4 km from the crater, noted ash deposits on crops. A few millimeters of ash was deposited and quickly removed by rain. The volcano had been mostly cloud-covered during the previous few weeks, but on 27 March residents of Querapi noted a column of ash at 1430. On 30 and 31 March teams from IGP, UNSA, and INGEMMET visited the volcano (figure 2). Although there had been constant snow over the previous days, the summit was completely gray from ashfall. The ash thickness on rocks 2 km NW of the crater was 3 mm, just inside the summit crater there was about 1 cm, and at the inner pit crater edge there was 2 cm. Thick ash surrounded a new 30-m-wide vent in the crater base. This crater was emitting constant ash and gas with larger pulses approximately every 15 minutes. Near the edge of the pit crater were large numbers of flat circular mud discs up to 15 cm in diameter, many with central solid cores. These grew smaller and less frequent with distance. It is thought these are either huge accretionary lapilli, generated in storm clouds above Ubinas, or products of wet eruptions from the new vent. The crater area is dangerous and frequently smothered in ash clouds, so observations remain sketchy.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Photo of Ubinas on 31 March 2006 showing an eruption plume rising from the summit crater. Photo by the Perúvian Civil Defense taken from Moquegua city, provided courtesy of the Associated Press.

Ash emissions through 10 April covered local villages and damaged crops. Clear crop damage was visible around the village of Querapi, with potato and alfalfa leaves and flowers blemished in spots. This is the critical growing time for the crop, and thus any damage is serious for the local farmers. Cattle have been seen suffering from diarrhea.

Short periods of seismic recordings have been made at a site 2,500 m NW of the crater rim. On 20 November 2004 only 16 local events were recorded over 12 hours. In February 2005 there where 96 events over the same time period. Over 12 hours on 27 March 2006 there were 115 events. During this last interval, low-amplitude tremor events lasting 3 minutes on average were recorded, as well as long-period (LP) events. Over the 12 hours of observation the following events were recorded: 62 LP, 18 LP with precursors, 10 volcano-tectonic (VT), five VT with precursors, and 20 tremor events.

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

Information Contacts: Orlando Macedo, Observatorio de Cayma-Arequipa, Instituto Geofísico del Perú at Arequipa city (IGP-Arequipa), Urb. La Marina B-19, Cayma, Arequipa, Perú; Jersy Marino, Instituto Geologico, Minero y Metalurgico (INGEMMET), Perú; Benjamin van Wyk, Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans (LMV), OPGC, France; Jean-Philippe Métaxian, Laboratire de Geophysique Interne et Tectonophysique-Univ de Savoie, France; Perúvian Civil Defense (URL: http://www.indeci.gob.pe/); Diario Digital Sur Noticias, Tacna, Perú (URL: http://www.surnoticias.com/); Associated Press (URL: http://www.ap.org/).


Veniaminof (United States) — March 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Veniaminof

United States

56.17°N, 159.38°W; summit elev. 2507 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Modest ash emissions during September 2005-22 April 2006

On 7 September 2005, the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) noted several minor bursts of ash from the volcano during the afternoon. Ash bursts continued to occur through at least 9 September, with ash rising less than 3 km altitude, and with the ash confined to the caldera. Over the following 2 weeks, minor ash emission continued at a rate of 1-5 events per day based on interpretations of seismic data. AVO reported that it was likely that diffuse ash plumes rose to heights less than ~ 3 km and were confined to the summit caldera. Cloudy weather during 16-23 September prohibited web-camera and satellite observations of Veniaminof, but seismic data indicated diminishing activity. On 28 September seismicity had remained at background levels for over a week, and there was no evidence to suggest that minor ash explosions were continuing.

On 4 November 2005, a low-level minor ash emission occurred from the intracaldera cone beginning at 0929. Ash rose a few hundred meters above the cone, drifted E, and dissipated rapidly. Minor ashfall was probably confined to the summit caldera. During the previous 2 weeks, occasional steaming from the intracaldera cone was observed. Very weak seismic tremor and a few small discrete seismic events were recorded at the station closest to the active cone. However, AVO reported that there were no indications from seismic data that a significantly larger eruption was imminent.

On the morning of 3 March 2006 ash again rose a few hundred meters above the intracaldera cone, drifted E, and dissipated rapidly. Ashfall was expected to be minor and confined to the summit caldera. Seismicity was again low and did not indicate that a significantly larger eruption was imminent. Over the week of 5-10 March, seismicity was low but slightly above background.

On the morning of 10 March, AVO received a report from a pilot of low-level ash emission from the intracaldera cone. Clear web-camera views on 9 March showed small diffuse plumes of ash extending a short distance from the intracaldera cone. The Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported a steam/ash plume noted on web-cam and satellite on 13 March 2006 at 0500Z (12 March 2006 at 2000 hours local), moving NNW at 9.2 km/hr and falling to the land surface. Web-cam images on 22 March showed a very diffuse steam-and-ash plume that was confined to the summit caldera, and on 24 March showed a steam-and-ash plume drifting from the summit cone at a height of less than 2.3 km. This level of activity was similar to that on 23 March, but higher than activity on 21 and 22 March, when a very diffuse steam-and-ash plume was confined to the summit caldera.

The flow of seismic data from Veniaminof stopped on the evening of 21 March 2006, and the problem was expected to continue until AVO staff could visit the site to repair the problem. Absent seismic data, the volcano could potentially still be monitored in other ways such as using web-camera and satellite images. Imagery was obscured by cloudy weather after 21 March. On 26 March 2006, a pilot reported a small ash plume rising above the volcano. Low-altitude ash emissions from Veniaminof were visible during 31 March to 7 April. On 6 April, a pilot reported an ash plume at a height of 3 km. AVO stated in its weekly report of 14 April 2006 that the seismicity at Veniaminof remained low but above background. Internet camera and satellite views had been obscured by cloudy weather, and AVO lacked new information about ash clouds or activity.

Geologic Background. Massive Veniaminof volcano, one of the highest and largest volcanoes on the Alaska Peninsula, is truncated by a steep-walled, 8 x 11 km, glacier-filled caldera that formed around 3700 years ago. The caldera rim is up to 520 m high on the north, is deeply notched on the west by Cone Glacier, and is covered by an ice sheet on the south. Post-caldera vents are located along a NW-SE zone bisecting the caldera that extends 55 km from near the Bering Sea coast, across the caldera, and down the Pacific flank. Historical eruptions probably all originated from the westernmost and most prominent of two intra-caldera cones, which rises about 300 m above the surrounding icefield. The other cone is larger, and has a summit crater or caldera that may reach 2.5 km in diameter, but is more subdued and barely rises above the glacier surface.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of the U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, and Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/); Charles R. Holliday, Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), Offutt Air Force Base, NE 68113.

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/).