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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

Tengger Caldera (Indonesia) Ash emissions on 19 and 28 July 2019; lahar on the SW flank of Bromo

Unnamed (Tonga) Submarine eruption in early August creates pumice rafts that drifted west to Fiji

Popocatepetl (Mexico) Frequent explosions continue during March-August 2019

Semeru (Indonesia) Intermittent activity continues during March-August 2019; ash plumes and thermal anomalies

Saunders (United Kingdom) Intermittent activity most months, October 2018-June 2019; photographs during February and May 2019

Pacaya (Guatemala) Lava flows and Strombolian explosions continued during February-July 2019

Colima (Mexico) Renewed volcanism after two years of quiet; explosion on 11 May 2019

Masaya (Nicaragua) Lava lake activity declined during March-July 2019

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Occasional weak phreatic explosions during March-July 2019

Aira (Japan) Explosions with ejecta and ash plumes continue weekly during January-June 2019

Agung (Indonesia) Continued explosions with ash plumes and incandescent ejecta, February-May 2019

Kerinci (Indonesia) Intermittent explosions with ash plumes, February-May 2019

Tengger Caldera (Indonesia) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Tengger Caldera


7.942°S, 112.95°E; summit elev. 2329 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Ash emissions on 19 and 28 July 2019; lahar on the SW flank of Bromo

The Mount Bromo pyroclastic cone within the Tengger Caldera erupts frequently, typically producing gas-and-steam plumes, ash plumes, and explosions (BGVN 44:05). Information compiled for the reporting period of May-July 2019 is from the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM) and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC).

The eruptive activity at Tengger Caldera that began in mid-February continued through late July 2019, including white-and-brown ash plumes, ash emissions, and tremors. During the months of May through June 2019, white plumes rose between 50 to 600 m above the summit. Satellite imagery captured a small gas-and-steam plume from Bromo on 5 June (figure 18). Low-frequency tremors were recorded by a seismograph from May through July 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Sentinel-2 satellite image showing a small gas-and-steam plume rising from the Bromo cone (center) in the Tengger Caldera on 5 June 2019. Thermal (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

According to PVMBG and a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA), an ash eruption occurred on 19 July 2019; however, no ash column was observed due to weather conditions. A seismograph recorded five earthquakes and three shallow volcanic tremors the same day. In addition, rainfall triggered a lahar on the SW flank of Bromo.

On 28 July the Darwin VAAC reported that ash plumes originating from Bromo rose to a maximum altitude of about 3.9 km and drifted NW from the summit, based on webcam images and pilot reports. PVMBG reported that lower altitude ash plumes (2.4 km) on the same day were also recorded by webcam images, satellite imagery (Himawari-8), and weather models.

Geologic Background. The 16-km-wide Tengger caldera is located at the northern end of a volcanic massif extending from Semeru volcano. The massive volcanic complex dates back to about 820,000 years ago and consists of five overlapping stratovolcanoes, each truncated by a caldera. Lava domes, pyroclastic cones, and a maar occupy the flanks of the massif. The Ngadisari caldera at the NE end of the complex formed about 150,000 years ago and is now drained through the Sapikerep valley. The most recent of the calderas is the 9 x 10 km wide Sandsea caldera at the SW end of the complex, which formed incrementally during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene. An overlapping cluster of post-caldera cones was constructed on the floor of the Sandsea caldera within the past several thousand years. The youngest of these is Bromo, one of Java's most active and most frequently visited volcanoes.

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/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/).

Unnamed (Tonga) — November 2019 Citation iconCite this Report



18.325°S, 174.365°W; summit elev. -40 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Submarine eruption in early August creates pumice rafts that drifted west to Fiji

Large areas of floating pumice, termed rafts, were encountered by sailors in the northern Tonga region approximately 80 km NW of Vava'u starting around 9 August 2019; the pumice reached the western islands of Fiji by 9 October (figure 7). Pumice rafts are floating masses of individual clasts ranging from millimeters to meters in diameter. The pumice clasts form when silicic magma is degassing, forming bubbles as it rises to the surface, which then rapidly cools to form solid rock. The isolated vesicles formed by the bubbles provide buoyancy to the rock and in turn, the entire pumice raft. These rafts are spread and carried by currents across the ocean; rafts originating in the Tonga area can eventually reach Australia. This report summarizes the pumice raft eruption from early August 2019 using witness accounts and satellite images (acquisition dates are given in UTC). Pending further research, the presumed source is the unnamed Tongan seamount (volcano number 243091) about 45 km NW of Vava'u, the origin of an earlier pumice raft produced during an eruption in 2001.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. The path of the pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount from 9 August to 9 October 2019 based on eye-witness accounts and satellite data discussed below, as well as additional Aqua/MODIS satellite images from NASA Worldview. Blue Marble MODIS/NASA Earth Observatory base map courtesy of NASA Worldview.

The first sighting of pumice was around 1430 on 9 August NW of Vava'u in Tonga (18° 22.068' S, 174° 50.800' W), when Shannon Lenz and Tom Whitehead on board SV Finely Finished initially encountered isolated rocks and smaller streaks of pumice clasts. The area covered by rock increasing to a raft with an estimated thickness of at least 15 cm that extended to the horizon in different directions, and which took 6-8 hours to cross (figure 8). There was no sulfur smell and the sound was described as a "cement mixer, especially below deck." There was also no plume or incandescence observed. Their video, posted to YouTube on 17 August, showed a thin surface layer of cohesive interconnected irregular streaks of pumice with the ocean surface still visible between them. Later footage showed a continuous, undulating mass of pumice entirely covering the ocean surface. Larger clasts are visible scattered throughout the raft. The pumice raft was visible in satellite imagery on this day NW of Late Island (figure 9). By 11 August the raft had evolved into a largely linear feature with smaller rafts to the SW (figure 10). Approximately four hours later, about 15 km to the WSW, Rachel Mackie encountered the pumice. Initially the pumice was "ribbons several hundred meters long and up to 20m wide. It was quite fine and like a slick across the surface of the water." By 2130 they were surrounded by the pumice, and around 25 km away the smell of sulfur was noted.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. The pumice raft from the unnamed Tongan seamount on 9 August 2019 taken by Shannon Lenz and Tom Whitehead on board SV Finely Finished. The photos show the pumice raft extending to the horizon in different directions. Scattered larger clasts protrude from the relatively smooth surface that entirely obscures the ocean surface. Courtesy of Shannon Lenz and Tom Whitehead via noonsite.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. The pumice raft from the unnamed Tongan seamount on 9 August 2019 (UTC) can be seen NW of Late Island of Tonga in this Aqua/MODIS satellite image. The dashed white line encompasses the visible pumice. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Courtesy of NASA WorldView.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. The Sentinel-2 satellite first imaged the pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount on 11 August 2019 (UTC). This image indicates the pumice distribution with the main raft towards the W and the easternmost area of pumice approximately 45 km away. The eastern tip of the pumice area is located approximately 30 km WNW of Lake islands in Tonga. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) Sentinel-2 satellite image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Michael and Larissa Hoult aboard the catamaran ROAM encountered the raft on 15 August (figure 11). They initially saw isolated clasts ranging from marble to tennis ball size (15-70 mm) at 18° 46′S, 174° 55'W. At around 0700 UTC (1900 local time) they noted the smell of sulfur at 18° 55′S, 175° 21′W, and by 0800 UTC they were immersed in the raft with visible clasts ranging from marble to basketball (25 cm) sizes. At this point the raft was entirely obscuring the ocean surface. On 16 and 21 August the pumice continued to disperse and drift NW (figures 12 and 13). On 20 August Scott Bryan calculated an average drift rate of around 13 km/day, with the pumice on this date about 164 km W of the unnamed seamount.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Images of pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount encountered by Michael and Larissa Hoult aboard the catamaran Roam on 15 August. Left: Larissa takes photographs with scale of pumice clasts; top right: a closeup of a pumice clast showing the vesicle network preserving the degassing structures of the magma; bottom left: Michael holding several larger pumice clasts. The location of their encounter with the pumice is shown in figure 7. Courtesy of SailSurfROAM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. The pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount (volcano number 243091) on 16 August 2019 UTC. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) Sentinel-2 satellite image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. On 21 August 2019 (UTC) the pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount (volcano number 243091) had drifted at least 120 km WNW of Late Island in Tonga. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) Sentinel-2 satellite image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

An online article published by Brad Scott at GeoNet on 9 September reported the preliminary size of the raft to be 60 km2, significantly smaller than the 2012 Havre seamount pumice raft that was 400 km2. Satellite identification of pumice-covered areas by GNS scientists showed the material moving SSW through 14 August (figure 14).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. A compilation of mapped pumice raft extents from 9 August (red line) through to 14 August (dark blue) from Suomi NPP, Terra, Aqua, and Sentinel-2 satellite images. The progression of the pumice raft is towards the SW. Courtesy of Salman Ashraf, GNS Science.

On 5 September the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) issued a notice to mariners stating that the pumice was sighted in the vicinity of Lakeba, Oneata, and Aiwa Islands and was moving to the W. On 6 September a Planet Labs satellite image shows pumice encompassing the Fijian island of Lakeba over 450 km W of the Tongan islands (figure 15). The pumice entered the lagoon within the barrier reef and drifted around the island to continue towards the W. The pumice was imaged by the Landsat 8 satellite on 26 September as it moved through the Fijian islands, approximately 760 km away from its source (figure 16). The pumice is segmented into numerous smaller rafts of varying sizes that stretch over at least 140 km. On 12 September the Fiji Sun reported that the pumice had reached some of the Lau islands and was thick enough near the shore for people to stand on it.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Planet Labs satellite images show Lakeba Island to the E of the larger Viti Levu Island in the Fiji archipelago. The top image shows the island on 7 July 2019 prior to the pumice raft from the unnamed Tongan seamount. The bottom image shows pumice on the sea surface almost entirely encompassing the island on 6 September. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Courtesy of Planet Labs.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Landsat 8 satellite images show the visible extent of the unnamed seamount pumice on 26 September 2019 (UTC), up to approximately 760 km from the Tongan islands. The pumice seen here extends over a distance of 140 km. The top image shows the locations of the other three images in the white boxes, with a, b, and c indicating the locations. White arrows point to examples of the light brown pumice rafts in these images, seen through light cloud cover. The island in the lower right is Koro Island, the island to the lower left is Viti Levu, and the island to the top right is Vanua Levu. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Landsat 8 true color-pansharpened satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub.

Pumice had reached the Yasawa islands in western Fiji by 29 September and was beginning to fill the eastern bays (figure 17). By 9 October bays had been filled out to 500-600 m from the shore, and pumice had also passed through the islands to continue towards the W (figure 18). At this point the pumice beyond the islands had broken up into linear segments that continued towards the NW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. These Sentinel-2 satellite images show the pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount drifting towards the Yasawa islands of Fiji. The 24 September 2019 (UTC) image shows the beaches without the pumice, the 29 September image shows pumice drifting westward towards the islands, and the 9 October image shows the bays partly filled with pumice out to a maximum of 500-600 m from the shore. These islands are approximately 850 km from the Tongan islands. The Yasawa islands coastline impacted by the pumice shown in these images stretches approximately 48 km. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. This Sentinel-2 satellite image acquired on 9 October 2019 (UTC) shows expanses of pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount that passed through the Yasawa islands of Fiji and was continuing NWW, seen in the center of the image. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub.

Geologic Background. A submarine volcano along the Tofua volcanic arc was first observed in September 2001. The newly discovered volcano lies NW of the island of Vava'u about 35 km S of Fonualei and 60 km NE of Late volcano. The site of the eruption is along a NNE-SSW-trending submarine plateau with an approximate bathymetric depth of 300 m. T-phase waves were recorded on 27-28 September 2001, and on the 27th local fishermen observed an ash-rich eruption column that rose above the sea surface. No eruptive activity was reported after the 28th, but water discoloration was documented during the following month. In early November rafts and strandings of dacitic pumice were reported along the coast of Kadavu and Viti Levu in the Fiji Islands. The depth of the summit of the submarine cone following the eruption determined to be 40 m during a 2007 survey; the crater of the 2001 eruption was breached to the E.

Information Contacts: GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/); Salman Ashraf, GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/, https://www.geonet.org.nz/news/8RnSKdhaWOEABBIh0bHDj); Brad Scott, New Zealand GeoNet Project, a collaboration between the Earthquake Commission and GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz/, https://www.geonet.org.nz/news/8RnSKdhaWOEABBIh0bHDj); Scott Bryan, School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences, Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, R Block Level 2, 204, Gardens Point (URL: https://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/scott.bryan); Shannon Lenz and Tom Whitehead, SV Finely Finished (URL: https://www.noonsite.com/news/south-pacific-tonga-to-fiji-navigation-alert-dangerous-slick-of-volcanic-rubble/, YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEsHLSFFQhQ); Michael and Larissa Hoult, Sail Surf ROAM (URL: https://www.facebook.com/sailsurfroam/); Rachel Mackie, OLIVE (URL: http://www.oliveocean.com/, https://www.facebook.com/rachel.mackie.718); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Fiji Sun (URL: https://fijisun.com.fj/2019/09/12/pumice-menace-hits-parts-of-lau-group/).

Popocatepetl (Mexico) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Frequent explosions continue during March-August 2019

The current eruptive period of Popocatépetl began on 9 January 2005 and it has since been producing frequent explosions accompanied by ash plumes, gas emissions, and ballistic ejecta that can impact several kilometers away from the crater, as well as dome growth and destruction. This activity continued through March-August 2019 with an increase in volcano alert level during 28 March-6 May. This report summarizes activity during this period and is based on information from Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and various webcam and remote sensing data.

An overflight on 28 February confirmed that dome 82, which was first observed on 14 February, was still present and was 200 m in diameter. During March there were 3,291 observed low-intensity emissions, and 33 larger explosions that produced ash plumes to a maximum height of 5 km, accompanied by near-continuous emission of water vapor and volcanic gases. Explosions ejected blocks that fell on the flanks out to 1.2-2 km on 1, 10, 13, 17, 26, 27, and 29 March. The events on the 17th and 27th resulted in vegetation fires. Frequent sulfur dioxide (SO2) plumes were detected by TropOMI (figure 130). An overflight on 7 March showed intense degassing and an ash plume at 1142, preventing visibility into the crater (figure 131). On 13 March Strombolian activity was observed for approximately 15 minutes at 0500, accompanied by incandescent ejecta that deposited mainly on the ESE flank.

An overflight on 15 March was taken by CENAPRED and UNAM personnel to observe changes to the crater after explosions on the 13th and 14th. They reported that dome 82 had been destroyed and the crater maintained its previous dimensions of 300 m in diameter and 130 m deep. An explosion on the 27th ejected incandescent rocks out to 2 km from the crater and produced a 3-km-high ash plume that dispersed to the NE. Ashfall was reported in Santa Cruz, Atlixco, San Pedro, San Andrés, Santa Isabel Cholula, San Pedro Benito Juárez, and in the municipalities of Puebla, Hueyapan, Tetela del Volcán, and Morelos.

On 28 March an explosion at 0650 generated a 2.5-km-high ash plume and ejecta out to 1 km from the crater, and a 130-minute-long event produced gas and ah plumes (figure 132). On this day the volcano alert level was increased from Yellow Phase 2 to Yellow Phase 3. On the 29th an ash plume rose to 3 km and was accompanied by ejecta that reached 2 km away from the crater. Later that day a 20-minute-long event produced ash and gas. During a surveillance flight on 30 March a view into the crater showed no dome present, and the crater size had increased to 350 m in width and 250-300 m in depth after recent explosions (figure 131). On this day Strombolian activity was also observed lasting for 14 minutes, producing an ash plume to 800 m and ejecta out to 300 m from the crater. Incandescence at the crater was often seen during nighttime throughout the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 130. Significant SO2 plumes at Popocatépetl detected by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite during 3-11 March 2019. SO2 plumes are frequently observed and these images show examples of plume drift directions on 3 March 2019 (top left), 6 March 2019 (top right), 7 March 2019 (bottom left), and 11 March 2019 (bottom right). Date, time, and measurements are provided at the top of each image. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 131. Activity at Popocatépetl and views of the crater during surveillance flights in March 2019. The top images show an ash plume (left) and a gas-and-steam plume (right) on 7 March. On 30 March (bottom left and right) no lava dome was observed in the crater, which was measured to be 350 m in diameter and 250-300 m deep. Courtesy of CENAPRED and Geophysics Institute of UNAM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 132. Explosive activity at Popocatépetl on 28 March 2019 producing ash plumes (top and bottom left) and ejecting incandescent ejecta out to 2 km from the crater at 1948. Courtesy of Carlos Sanchez/AFP (top), CENAPRED (bottom left and right), and Webcams de Mexico (bottom left).

There was a decrease in events during the next two months with 1,119 recorded low-intensity emissions and no larger ash explosions throughout April, followed by 1,210 low-intensity emissions and seven larger ash explosions through May (figure 133). Water vapor and volcanic gas emissions were frequently observed through this time and incandescence was observed some nights. A surveillance overflight on 26 April noted no new dome within the crater. On 6 May the alert level was lowered back to Yellow Phase 2. Another overflight on 9 May showed no change in the crater. An explosion at 1910 on 22 May produced an ash plume to 3.5 km above the crater with ashfall reported in Ozumba, Temamatla, Atlautla, Cocotitlán, Ayapango, Ecatzingo, Tenango del Aire and Tepetlixpa.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 133. Graph showing the number of daily ash explosions and low-intensity emissions at Popocatépetl during March-August 2019. There was a decrease in the number of events during April and March, with an increase from March onwards. Data courtesy of CENAPRED.

Through the month of June there were 2,820 low-intensity emissions and 21 larger ash explosions recorded. Gas emissions were observed throughout the month. Two explosions on 3 June produced ash plumes up to 3.5 and 2.8 km, with ejecta out to 2 km S during the first explosion. On 11 June an explosion produced an ash plume to 1 km above the crater and ballistic ejecta out to 1 km E. Observers on a surveillance overflight on the 12th reported no changes within the crater

Explosions with estimated plume heights of 5 km occurred on the 14th and 15th, with the latter producing ashfall in the municipalities of San Pablo del Monte, Tenancingo, Papantla, San Cosme Mazatencocho, San Luis Teolocholco, Acuamanala, Nativitas, Tepetitla, Santa Apolonia Teacalco, Santa Isabel Tetlatlahuaca, and Huamantla, in the state of Tlaxcala, as well as in Nealtican, San Nicolás de los Ranchos, Calpan, San Pedro Cholula, Juan C. Bonilla, Coronango, Atoyatempan, and Coatzingo, in the state of Puebla.

On 17 June an explosion produced an ash plume that reached 8 km above the crater and dispersed towards the SW. An ash plume rising 2.5 km high was accompanied by incandescent ejecta impacting a short distance from the crater on the 21st, and another ash plume reached 2.5 km on the 22nd. Explosions on 26, 29, and 30 June resulted in ash plumes reaching 1.5 km above the crater and ballistic ejecta impacting on the flanks out to 1 km.

For the month of July there was an increased total of 5,637 recorded low-intensity emissions, and 173 larger ash explosions (figure 134). On 8 July an explosion produced ballistic ejecta out to 1.5 km and an ash plume up to 1 km above the crater. An ash plume up to 2.6 km was produced on the 12th. On 19 July a surveillance overflight observed a new dome (dome 83) with a diameter of 70 m and a thickness of 15 m (figure 135). Explosions on 20 July produced ashfall, and minor explosions that ejected incandescent ballistics onto the slopes. An event on the 24th produced an ash plume that reached 1.2 km, and ash plumes the following day reached 1 km. An overflight on 27 July confirmed that these explosions destroyed dome 83, and the crater dimensions remained the same (figure 136). The following day, ash plumes reached up to 1.6 km above the crater, and up to 2 km on the 29th. Minor ashfall was reported in the municipality of Ozumba on 30 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 134. Examples of ash plumes at Popocatépetl on 1 July (top left), 18 July (top right and bottom left), and 30 July (bottom right) 2019. In the night time image taken on 18 July hot rocks are visible on the flank. Webcam images courtesy of CENAPRED and Webcams de Mexico.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 135. A surveillance overflight at Popocatépetl on 19 July 2019 confirmed a new dome, dome number 83, with a width of 70 m and a thickness of 15 m. Courtesy of CENAPRED and Geophysics Institute of UNAM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 136. Photos of the summit crater of Popocatépetl taken during a surveillance flight on 27 July 2019 confirmed that the 83rd lava dome was destroyed by recent explosions and the crater maintained the same dimensions as previously measured. Courtesy of CENAPRED and Geophysics Institute of UNAM.

Throughout August the number of recorded events was higher than previous months, with 5,091 low-intensity emissions and 204 larger ash explosions (figure 137). Two explosions generated ash plumes and incandescent ejecta on 2 August, the first with a plume up to 1.5 km with ejecta impacting the slopes, and the second with an 800 m plume and ejecta landing back in the crater. Ashfall from the events was reported in in the municipalities of Tenango del Aire, Ayapango and Amecameca. On the 14th ashfall was reported in Juchitepec, Ayapango, and Ozumba. Explosions on 16 August produced ash plumes up to 2 km that dispersed to the WSW. Over the following two days ash plumes reached 1.2 km and resulted in ashfall in Cuernavaca, Tepoztlán, Tlalnepantla, Morelos, Ozumba, and Ecatzingo. Over 30-31 August ash plumes reached between 1-2 km above the crater and ashfall was reported in Amecameca, Atlautla, Ozumba, and Tlalmanalco. Incandescence was sometimes observed at the crater through the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 137. Ash plumes at Popocatépetl on 7 August (top) and 26 August 2019 (bottom). Courtesy of CENAPRED and Webcams de Mexico.

The MODVOLC algorithm for MODIS thermal anomalies registered thermal alerts through this period, with 22 in March, three in May, five in July, and one in August. The MIROVA system showed that the frequency of thermal anomalies at Popocatépetl was higher in March, sporadic in April and May, low in June, and had increased again in July and August (figure 138). Elevated temperatures were frequently visible in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite data when clouds and plumes were not covering the crater (figure 139).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 138. Thermal activity at Popocatépetl detected by the MIROVA system showed frequent anomalies in March, intermittent anomalies through April-May, low activity in June, and an increase in July-August 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 139. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images frequently showed elevated temperatures in the crater of Popocatépetl during March-August 2019, as seen in this representative image from 7 May 2019. Sentinel2- atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) scene courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED), Av. Delfín Madrigal No.665. Coyoacan, México D.F. 04360, México (URL: http://www.cenapred.unam.mx/); Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), University City, 04510 Mexico City, Mexico (URL: https://www.unam.mx/); 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/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://SO2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Webcams de Mexico (URL: http://www.webcamsdemexico.com/); Agence France-Presse (URL: http://www.afp.com/).

Semeru (Indonesia) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Intermittent activity continues during March-August 2019; ash plumes and thermal anomalies

The ongoing eruption at Semeru weakened in intensity during 2018, with occasional ash plumes and thermal anomalies (BGVN 44:04); this reduced but ongoing level of activity continued through August 2019. The volcano is monitored by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM) and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC). The current report summarizes activity from 1 March to 31 August 2019. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale from 1-4); the public was warned to stay 1 km away from the active crater and 4 km away on the SSE flank.

Based on analysis of satellite images, the Darwin VAAC reported that ash plumes rose to an altitude of 4-4.3 km on 19 April, 20 June, 10 July, and 13 July, drifting in various directions. In addition, PVMBG reported that at 0830 on 26 June an explosion produced an ash plume that rose around 600 m above the summit and drifted SW. A news article (Tempo.com) dated 12 August cited PVMBG as stating that the volcano had erupted 17 times since 8 August.

During March-August 2019 thermal anomalies were detected with the MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm only on 5 July and 22 August. No explosions were recorded on those two days. Scattered thermal anomalies within 5 km of the volcano were detected by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system, also based on analysis of MODIS data: one at the end of March and 3-6 hotspots over the following months, almost all of low radiative power. Satellite imagery intermittently showed thermal activity in the Jonggring-Seloko crater (figure 37), sometimes with material moving down the SE-flank ravine.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Sentinel-2 satellite images showing the persistent elevated thermal anomaly in the Jonggring-Seloko crater of Semeru were common through August 2019, as seen in this view on 20 July. Hot material could sometimes be identified in the SE-flank ravine. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: 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/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Tempo.com (URL: https://www.tempo.com/).

Saunders (United Kingdom) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report


United Kingdom

57.8°S, 26.483°W; summit elev. 843 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Intermittent activity most months, October 2018-June 2019; photographs during February and May 2019

Historical observations of eruptive activity from the glacier-covered Mount Michael stratovolcano on Saunders Island in the South Sandwich Islands were not recorded until the early 19th century at this remote site in the southernmost Atlantic Ocean, and remain extremely rare. With the advent of satellite observation technology, indications of more frequent eruptive activity have become apparent. Vapor emission is frequently reported from the summit crater, and AVHRR and MODIS satellite imagery has revealed evidence for lava lake activity in the summit crater (Lachlan-Cope and others, 2001). Limited thermal anomaly data and satellite imagery indicated at least intermittent activity during May 2000-November 2013, and from November 2014 through April 2018 (Gray and others, 2019). Ongoing observations, including photographs from two site visits in February and May 2019 suggest continued activity at the summit during most months through May 2019, the period covered in this report. Information, in addition to on-site photographs, comes from MIROVA thermal anomaly data, NASA SO2 instruments, and Sentinel-2 and Landsat satellite imagery.

Near-constant cloud coverage for much of the year makes satellite data intermittent and creates difficulty in interpreting the ongoing nature of the activity. Gray and others (2019) concluded recently after a detailed study of shortwave and infrared satellite images that there was continued evidence for the previously identified lava lake on Mount Michael since January 1989. MIROVA thermal anomaly data suggest intermittent pulses of thermal energy in September, November, and December 2018, and April 2019 (figure 17). Satellite imagery confirmed some type of activity, either a dense steam plume, evidence of ash, or a thermal anomaly, each month during December 2018-March 2019. Sulfur dioxide anomalies were recorded in January, February, and March 2019. Photographic evidence of fresh ash was captured in February 2019, and images from May 2019 showed dense steam rising from the summit crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. MIROVA thermal anomaly data from 19 September 2018 through June 2019 showed sporadic, low-level pulses of thermal energy in late September, November, and December 2018, and April 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

After satellite imagery and thermal anomaly data in late September 2018 showed evidence for eruptive activity (BGVN 43:10, figure 16), a single thermal anomaly in MIROVA data was recorded in mid-November 2018 (figure 17). A rare, clear Sentinel-2 image on 2 December revealed a dense steam plume over the active summit crater; the steam obscured the presence of any possible thermal anomalies beneath (figure 18).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Sentinel-2 images of Mount Michael on Saunders Island on 2 December 2018 revealed a dense steam plume over the summit crater that was difficult to distinguish from the surrounding snow in Natural Color rendering (bands 4,3,2) (left), but was clearly visible in Atmospheric Penetration rendering (bands 12,11, 8a) (right). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Clear evidence of recent activity appeared on 1 January 2019 with both a thermal anomaly at the summit crater and a streak of ash on the snow (figure 19). Steam was also present within the summit crater. A distinct SO2 anomaly appeared in data from the TROPOMI instrument on 14 January (figure 20).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. A thermal anomaly and dense steam were recorded at the summit of Mount Michael on Saunders Island on 1 January 2019 in Sentinel-2 Satellite imagery with Atmospheric Penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a) (left). The same image shown with Natural Color rendering (bands 4,3,2) (right) shows a recent streak of brown particulates drifting SE from the summit crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. A distinct SO2 plume was recorded drifting NW from Saunders Island by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5-P satellite on 14 January 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Multiple sources of satellite data and sea-based visual observation confirmed activity during February 2019. SO2 emissions were recorded with the TROPOMI instrument on 10, 11, 15, and 16 February (figure 21). A Landsat image from 10 February showed a dense steam plume drifting NW from the summit crater, with the dark rim of the summit crater well exposed (figure 22). Sentinel-2 images in natural color and atmospheric penetration renderings identified a dense steam plume drifting S and a thermal anomaly within the summit crater on 15 February (figure 23). An expedition to the South Sandwich Islands between 15 February and 8 March 2019 sponsored by the UK government sailed by Saunders in late February and observed a stream of ash on the NNE flank beneath the cloud cover (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Faint but distinct SO2 plumes were recorded drifting away from Saunders Island in various directions on 10, 11, 15, and 16 February 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. The dark summit crater of Mount Michael on Saunders Island was visible in Landsat imagery on 10 February 2019. A dense steam plume drifted NW and cast a dark shadow on the underlying cloud cover. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. At the summit of Mount Michael on Saunders Island, Sentinel-2 images in Natural Color (bands 4,3,2) (left) and Atmospheric Penetration (bands 12, 11, 8a) (right) renderings identified a dense steam plume drifting S and a thermal anomaly within the summit crater on 15 February 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Recent ash covered the NNE flank of Mount Michael on Saunders Island in late February 2019 when observed by an expedition to the South Sandwich Islands sponsored by the UK government. Courtesy of Chris Darby.

Faint SO2 emissions were recorded twice during March 2019 (figure 25), and a dense steam plume near the summit crater was visible in Landsat imagery on 23 March (figure 26). Two thermal anomalies were captured in the MIROVA data during April 2019 (figure 17).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Faint SO2 plumes were recorded on 1 and 11 March 2019 emerging from Saunders Island. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. A dense steam plume drifted E from the summit crater of Mount Michael at Saunders Island on 25 March 2019. Landsat-8 image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

A volcano-related research project "SSIVOLC" explored the South Sandwich Islands volcanoes during 15 April-31 May 2019. A major aim of SSIVOLC was to collect photogrammetric data of the glacier-covered Mount Michael (Derrien and others, 2019). A number of still images were acquired on 17 and 22 May 2019 showing various features of the island (figures 27-30). The researchers visually observed brief, recurrent, and very weak glow at the summit of Mount Michael after dark on 17 May, which they interpreted as reflecting light from an active lava lake within the summit crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. The steep slopes of an older eroded crater on the E end of Saunders island in the 'Ashen Hills' shows layers of volcanic deposits dipping away from the open half crater. In the background, steam and gas flow out of the summit crater of Mount Michael and drift down the far slope. Drone image PA-IS-03 taken during 17-22 May 2019, courtesy of Derrien and others (2019) used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. A dense steam plume drifts away from the summit of Mount Michael on Saunders Island in this drone image taken during 17-22 May 2019. The older summit crater is to the left of the dark patch in the middle of the summit. North is to the right. Image SU-3 courtesy of Derrien and others (2019) used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. This close-up image of the summit of Mount Michael on Saunders Island shows steam plumes billowing from the summit crater, and large crevasses in the glacier covered flank, taken during 17-22 May 2019. The old crater is to the left. Image TL-SU-1 courtesy of Derrien and others (2019) used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. A dense plume of steam rises from the summit crater of Mount Michael on Saunders Island and drifts over mounds of frozen material during 17-22 May 2019. The older crater is to the left, and part of the Ashen Hills is in the foreground. Image TL-SU-2 courtesy of Derrien and others (2019) used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License.

References: Lachlan-Cope T, Smellie J L, Ladkin R, 2001. Discovery of a recurrent lava lake on Saunders Island (South Sandwich Islands) using AVHRR imagery. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 112: 105-116.

Gray D M, Burton-Johnson A, Fretwell P T, 2019. Evidence for a lava lake on Mt. Michael volcano, Saunders Island (South Sandwich Islands) from Landsat, Sentinel-2 and ASTER satellite imagery. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 379:60-71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.volgeores.2019.05.002.

Derrien A, Richter N, Meschede M, Walter T, 2019. Optical DSLR camera- and UAV footage of the remote Mount Michael Volcano, Saunders Island (South Sandwich Islands), acquired in May 2019. GFZ Data Services. http://doi.org/10.5880/GFZ.2.1..2019.003

Geologic Background. Saunders Island is a volcanic structure consisting of a large central edifice intersected by two seamount chains, as shown by bathymetric mapping (Leat et al., 2013). The young constructional Mount Michael stratovolcano dominates the glacier-covered island, while two submarine plateaus, Harpers Bank and Saunders Bank, extend north. The symmetrical Michael has a 500-m-wide summit crater and a remnant of a somma rim to the SE. Tephra layers visible in ice cliffs surrounding the island are evidence of recent eruptions. Ash clouds were reported from the summit crater in 1819, and an effusive eruption was inferred to have occurred from a N-flank fissure around the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. A low ice-free lava platform, Blackstone Plain, is located on the north coast, surrounding a group of former sea stacks. A cluster of parasitic cones on the SE flank, the Ashen Hills, appear to have been modified since 1820 (LeMasurier and Thomson, 1990). Vapor emission is frequently reported from the summit crater. Recent AVHRR and MODIS satellite imagery has revealed evidence for lava lake activity in the summit crater.

Information Contacts: MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Chris Darby (URL: https://twitter.com/ChrisDDarby, image at https://twitter.com/ChrisDDarby/status/1100686838568812544).

Pacaya (Guatemala) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Lava flows and Strombolian explosions continued during February-July 2019

Pacaya is one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala, with activity largely consisting of frequent lava flows and Strombolian activity at the Mackenney crater. This report summarizes continued activity during February through July 2019 based on reports by Guatemala's Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH) and Sistema de la Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), visiting scientists, and satellite data.

At the beginning of February activity included Strombolian explosions ejecting material up to 5 to 30 m above the Mackenney crater and a degassing plume up to 300 m. Multiple lava flows were observed throughout the month on the N, NW, and W flanks, reaching 350 m from the crater and resulting in avalanches from the flow fronts. Strombolian activity continued with sporadic to continuous explosions ejecting material 5-75 m above the Mackenney crater. Degassing produced plumes up to 300 m above the crater, and incandescence from the crater and lava flows were seen at night. Daniel Sturgess of Bristol University observed activity on the 24th, noting a 70-m-long lava flow with individual blocks from the front of the flow rolling down the flanks (figure 108). He reported that mild Strombolian explosions occurred every 10-20 minutes and ejected blocks, up to approximately 4 m in diameter, as high as 5-30 m above the crater and towards the northern flank.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. An active lava flow on the NW flank of Pacaya on 24 February 2019 with incandescence visible in lower light conditions. Courtesy of Daniel Sturgess, University of Bristol.

Similar activity continued through March with multiple lava flows reaching a maximum of 200 m N and NW, and avalanches descending from the flow fronts. Ongoing Strombolian explosions expelled material up to 75 m above the Mackenney crater. Degassing produced a white-blue plume to a maximum of 900 m above the crater (figure 109) and incandescence was noted some nights.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. A degassing plume at Pacaya reaching 350 m above the crater and dispersing to the S on 19 March 2019. Courtesy of CONRED.

During April lava flows continued on the N and NW flanks, reaching a maximum length of 300 m, with avalanches forming from the flow fronts. Degassing formed plumes up to 600 m above the crater that dispersed with various wind directions. Strombolian activity continued with explosions ejecting material up to 40 m above the crater. On the 2nd and 3rd weak rumbles were heard at distances of 4-5 km. Similar activity continued through May with lava flows reaching 300 m to the N, degassing producing plumes up to 600 m above the crater, and Strombolian explosions ejecting material up to 15 m above the crater.

Lava flows continued out to 300 m in length to the N and NW during June (figures 110 and 111). Strombolian activity ejected material up to 30 m above the crater and degassing resulted in plumes that reached 300 m. During July there were multiple active lava flows that reached a maximum of 300 m in length on the N and NW flanks (figure 112). Avalanches generated by the collapse of material at the front of the lava flows were accompanied by explosions ejecting material up to 30 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. An active lava flow on Pacaya on 9 June 2019 with incandescent blocks rolling down the flank from the flow front. Courtesy of Paul Wallace, University of Liverpool.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. Activity at Pacaya on 22 June 2019 with a degassing plume dispersed to the W and a 300-m-long lava flow. Photos by Miguel Morales, courtesy of CONRED.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. Two lava flows were active to the N and NW at Pacaya on 20 July 2019. Photos courtesy of CONRED.

During February through July multiple lava flows and crater activity were detected in Sentinel-2 satellite thermal images (figures 113 and 114) and relatively constant thermal energy was detected by the MIROVA system with a slight decrease in the energy and frequency of anomalies during June (figure 115). The thermal anomalies detected by the MODVOLC system for each month from February through July spanned 6-30, with six during June and 30 during April.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 113. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya show lava flows to the N and NW during February through April 2019. There was a reduction in visible activity in early March. False color (urban) satellite images (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 114. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya showing lava flow and hot avalanche activity during June and July 2019. False color (urban) satellite images (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 115. MIROVA log radiative power plot of MODIS thermal infrared at Pacaya during October 2018 through July 2019. Detected thermal energy is relatively stable with a decrease through June and subsequent increase during July. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), Av. Hincapié 21-72, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://conred.gob.gt/www/index.php); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); 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/); Daniel Sturgess, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, United Kingdom (URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/earthsciences/); Paul Wallace, Department of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences, University of Liverpool, 4 Brownlow Street, Liverpool L69 3GP, United Kingdom (URL: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/environmental-sciences/staff/paul-wallace/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).

Colima (Mexico) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Renewed volcanism after two years of quiet; explosion on 11 May 2019

Frequent historical eruptions at Volcán de Colima date back to the 16th century and include explosive activity, lava flows, and large debris avalanches. The most recent eruptive episode began in January 2013 and continued through March 2017. Previous reports have covered activity involving ash plumes with extensive ashfall, lava flows, lahars, and pyroclastic flows (BGVN 41:01 and 42:08). In late April 2019, increased seismicity related to volcanic activity began again. This report covers activity through July 2019. The primary source of information was the Centro Universitario de Estudios e Investigaciones de Vulcanologia, Universidad de Colima (CUEIV-UdC).

On 11 May 2019, CUEIV-UdC reported an explosion that was recorded by several monitoring stations. A thermal camera located south of Colima captured thermal anomalies associated with the explosion as well as intermittent degassing, which mainly consisted of water vapor (figure 131). A report from the Unidad Estatal de Protección Civil de Colima (UEPCC), and seismic and infrasound network data from CUEIV-UdC, recorded about 60 high-frequency events, 16 landslides, and 14 low-magnitude explosions occurring on the NE side of the crater during 11-24 May. Drone imagery showed fumarolic activity occurring on the inner wall of this crater on 22 May (figure 132).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 131. Gas emissions from Colima during the 11 May 2019 eruption as seen from the Naranjal station. Courtesy of CUEIV-UdC (Boletin Seminal de la Actividad del Volcan de Colima 17 mayo 2019 no 121).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 132. A drone photo showing fumarolic activity occurring within the NE wall of the crater at Colima on 22 May 2019. Courtesy of CUEIV-UdC (Boletin Seminal de la Actividad del Volcan de Colima 24 mayo 2019 no 122).

Small explosions and gas-and-steam emissions continued intermittently through mid-July 2019 concentrated on the NE side of the crater. An overflight on 9 July 2019 revealed that subsidence from the consistent activity slightly increased the diameter of the vent; other areas within the crater also showed evidence of subsidence and some collapsed material on the outer W wall (figure 133). During the weeks of 19 and 26 July 2019, monitoring cameras and seismic data recorded eight lahars.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 133. A drone photo of the crater at Colima on 8 July 2019 shows continuing fumarolic activity and evidence of a collapsed wall on the W exterior side. Courtesy of CUEIV-UdC (Boletin Seminal de la Actividad del Volcan de Colima 12 julio 2019 no 129).

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: Centro Universitario de Estudios e Investigaciones de Vulcanologia, Universidad de Colima (CUEIV-UdC), Colima, Col. 28045, Mexico; Centro Universitario de Estudios Vulcanologicos y Facultad de Ciencias de la Universidad de Colima, Avenida Universidad 333, Colima, Col. 28045, Mexico (URL: http://portal.ucol.mx/cueiv/); Unidad Estatal de Protección Civil, Colima, Roberto Esperón No. 1170 Col. de los Trabajadores, C.P. 28020, Mexico (URL: http://www.proteccioncivil.col.gob.mx/).

Masaya (Nicaragua) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Lava lake activity declined during March-July 2019

Masaya, in Nicaragua, contains a lava lake found in the Santiago Crater which has remained active since its return in December 2015 (BGVN 41:08). In addition to this lava lake, previous volcanism included explosive eruptions, lava flows, and gas emissions. Activity generally decreased during March-July 2019, including the number and frequency of thermal anomalies, lava lake levels, and gas emissions. The primary source of information for this report comes from the Instituto Nicareguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER).

On 21 July 2019 a small explosion in the Santiago Crater resulted in some gas emissions and an ash cloud drifting WNW. In addition to the active lava lake (figure 77), monthly reports from INETER noted that thermal activity and gas emissions (figure 78) were decreasing.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Active lava lake visible in the Santiago Crater at Masaya on 27 June 2019. Photo by Sheila DeForest (Creative Commons BY-SA license).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Gas emissions coming from the Santiago Crater at Masaya on 29 June 2019. Photo by Sheila DeForest (Creative Commons BY-SA license).

On 15 May and 22 July 2019, INETER scientists used a FLIR SC620 thermal infrared camera to measure temperatures of fumaroles on the Santiago Crater. In May 2019 the temperature of fumaroles had decreased by 48°C since the previous month. Between May and July 2019 fumarole temperatures continued to decline; temperatures ranged from 90° to 136°C (figure 79). Compared to May 2019 these temperatures are 3°C lower. INETER reports that the level of the lava lake has been slowly dropping during this reporting period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. FLIR (forward-looking infrared) and visible images of the Santiago Crater at Masaya showing fumarole temperatures ranging from 90° to 136°C. The scale in the center shows the range of temperatures in the FLIR image. Courtesy of INETER (March 2019 report).

According to MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) data from MODIS satellite instruments, frequent thermal anomalies were recorded from mid-March through early May 2019, with little to no activity from mid-May to July 2019 (figure 80). Sentinel-2 thermal images show high temperatures in the active lava lake on 10 March 2019 (figure 81). Thermal energy detected by the MODVOLC algorithm showed 14 hotspot pixels with the most number of hotspots (7) occurring in March 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Thermal anomalies were relatively constant at Masaya from early September 2018 through early May 2019 and then abruptly decreased until mid-June 2019 as recorded by MIROVA. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image showing a detected heat signature from the active lava lake at Masaya on 10 March 2019. The lava lake is visible (bright yellow-orange). Approximate diameter of the crater containing the lava lake is 500 m. Thermal (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

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

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

10.83°N, 85.324°W; summit elev. 1916 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Occasional weak phreatic explosions during March-July 2019

The acid lake of Rincón de la Vieja's active crater has generated intermittent weak phreatic explosions regularly since 2011, continuing during the past year through at least August 2019. The volcano is monitored by the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), and the information below comes from its weekly bulletins between 4 March and 2 September 2019. Clouds often prevented webcam and satellite views. The current report describes activity from March through July 2019.

OVSICORI-UNA reported that weak events occurred on 19 March at 1851 and on 29 March 2019 at 2043. A two-minute-long phreatic explosion on 1 April at 0802 produced a plume that rose 600 m above the crater rim. Continuous emissions were visible during 3-4 April, rising 200 m above the crater rim. On 3 April, at 1437, a small explosion was detected. An explosion on 10 April at 0617 produced a gas-and-steam plume that rose 1 km above the crater rim and drifted SE. On 12 April at 0643, a plume rose 500 m. Another event took place at 0700 on 13 April, although poor weather conditions prevented visual observations. On 14 April, OVSICORI-UNA noted that aerial photographs showed a milky-gray acid lake at a relatively low water level with convection cells of several tens meters of diameter in the center and eastern parts of the lake.

According to an OVSICORI-UNA bulletin, a small phreatic explosion occurred on 1 May. Another explosion on 11 May at 0720 produced a white gas-and-steam plume that rose 600 m above the crater rim. Phreatic explosions were recorded on 14 May at 1703 and on 17 May at 0357, though dense fog prevented visual confirmation of both events with webcams. On 15 May a local observer noted a diffuse plume of steam and gas, material rising from the crater, and photographed milky-gray deposits on the N part of the crater rim ejected from the event the day before. A major explosion occurred on 24 May.

OVSICORI-UNA recorded a significant phreatic 10-minute-long explosion that began on 11 June at 0343, but plumes were not visible due to weather conditions. No further phreatic events were reported in July.

Seismic activity was very low during the reporting period, and there was no significant deformation. Short tremors were frequent toward the end of April, but were only periodic in May and June; tremor almost disappeared in July. A few long-period earthquakes were recorded, and volcano-tectonic earthquakes were even less frequent.

Geologic Background. Rincón de la Vieja, the largest volcano in NW Costa Rica, is a remote volcanic complex in the Guanacaste Range. The volcano consists of an elongated, arcuate NW-SE-trending ridge that was constructed within the 15-km-wide early Pleistocene Guachipelín caldera, whose rim is exposed on the south side. Sometimes known as the "Colossus of Guanacaste," it has an estimated volume of 130 km3 and contains at least nine major eruptive centers. Activity has migrated to the SE, where the youngest-looking craters are located. The twin cone of 1916-m-high Santa María volcano, the highest peak of the complex, is located at the eastern end of a smaller, 5-km-wide caldera and has a 500-m-wide crater. A plinian eruption producing the 0.25 km3 Río Blanca tephra about 3500 years ago was the last major magmatic eruption. All subsequent eruptions, including numerous historical eruptions possibly dating back to the 16th century, have been from the prominent active crater containing a 500-m-wide acid lake located ENE of Von Seebach crater.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/, https://www.facebook.com/OVSICORI/).

Aira (Japan) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report



31.593°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Explosions with ejecta and ash plumes continue weekly during January-June 2019

Sakurajima rises from Kagoshima Bay, which fills the Aira Caldera near the southern tip of Japan's Kyushu Island. Frequent explosive and occasional effusive activity has been ongoing for centuries. The Minamidake summit cone has been the location of persistent activity since 1955; the Showa crater on its E flank has also been intermittently active since 2006. Numerous explosions and ash-bearing emissions have been occurring each month at either Minamidake or Showa crater since the latest eruptive episode began in late March 2017. This report covers ongoing activity from January through June 2019; the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) provides regular reports on activity, and the Tokyo VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center) issues tens of reports each month about the frequent ash plumes.

From January to June 2019, ash plumes and explosions were usually reported multiple times each week. The quietest month was June with only five eruptive events; the most active was March with 29 (table 21). Ash plumes rose from a few hundred meters to 3,500 m above the summit during the period. Large blocks of incandescent ejecta traveled as far as 1,700 m from the Minamidake crater during explosions in February and April. All the activity originated in the Minamidake crater; the adjacent Showa crater only had a mild thermal anomaly and fumarole throughout the period. Satellite imagery identified thermal anomalies inside the Minamidake crater several times each month.

Table 21. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Sakurajima's Minamidake crater in Aira caldera, January-June 2019. The number of events that were explosive in nature are in parentheses. No events were recorded at the Showa crater during this time. Data courtesy of JMA (January to June 2019 monthly reports).

Month Ash emissions (explosive) Max. plume height above crater Max. ejecta distance from crater
Jan 2019 8 (6) 2.1 km 1.1 km
Feb 2019 15 (11) 2.3 km 1.7 km
Mar 2019 29 (12) 3.5 km 1.3 km
Apr 2019 10 (5) 2.2 km 1.7 km
May 2019 15 (9) 2.9 km 1.3 km
Jun 2019 5 (2) 2.2 km 1.3 km

There were eight eruptive events reported by JMA during January 2019 at the Minamidake summit crater of Sakurajima. They occurred on 3, 6, 7, 9, 17, and 19 January (figure 76). Ash plume heights ranged from 600 to 2,100 m above the summit. The largest explosion, on 9 January, generated an ash plume that rose 2,100 m above the summit crater and drifted E. In addition, incandescent ejecta was sent 800-1,100 m from the summit. Incandescence was visible at the summit on most clear nights. During an overflight on 18 January no significant changes were noted at the crater (figure 77). Infrared thermal imaging done on 29 January indicated a weak thermal anomaly in the vicinity of the Showa crater on the SE side of Minamidake crater. The Kagoshima Regional Meteorological Observatory (KRMO) (11 km WSW) recorded ashfall there during four days of the month. Satellite imagery indicated thermal anomalies inside Minamidake on 7 and 27 January (figure 77).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Incandescent ejecta and ash emissions characterized activity from Sakurajima volcano at Aira during January 2019. Left: A webcam image showed incandescent ejecta on the flanks on 9 January 2019, courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, January 2019). Right: An ash plume rose hundreds of meters above the summit, likely also on 9 January, posted on 10 January 2019, courtesy of Mike Day.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. The summit of Sakurajima consists of the larger Minamidake crater and the smaller Showa crater on the E flank. Left: The Minamidake crater at the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 18 January 2019 seen in an overflight courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, March 2019). Right: Two areas of thermal anomaly were visible in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 27 January 2019. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity increased during February 2019, with 15 eruptive events reported on days 1, 3, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 17, 22, 24, and 27. Ash plume heights ranged from 600-2,300 m above the summit, and ejecta was reported 300 to 1,700 m from the crater in various events (figure 78). KRMO reported two days of ashfall during February. Satellite imagery identified thermal anomalies at the crater on 6 and 26 February, and ash plumes on 21 and 26 February (figure 79).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. An explosion from Sakurajima at Aira on 7 February 2019 sent ejecta up to 1,700 m from the Minamidake summit crater. Courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, February 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Thermal anomalies and ash emissions were captured in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 6, 21, and 26 February 2019 originating from Sakurajima volcano at Aira. Top: Thermal anomalies within the summit crater were visible underneath steam and ash plumes on 6 and 26 February (closeup of bottom right photo). Bottom: Ash emissions on 21 and 26 February drifted SE from the volcano. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The number of eruptive events continued to increase during March 2019; there were 29 events reported on numerous days (figures 80 and 81). An explosion on 14 March produced an ash plume that rose 3,500 m above the summit and drifted E. It also produced ejecta that landed 800-1,100 m from the crater. During an overflight on 26 March a fumarole was the only activity in Showa crater. KRMO reported 14 days of ashfall during the month. Satellite imagery identified an ash plume on 13 March and a thermal anomaly on 18 March (figure 82).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. A large ash emission from Sakurajima volcano at Aira was photographed by a tourist on the W flank and posted on 1 March 2019. Courtesy of Kratü.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. An ash plume from Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 18 March 2019 produced enough ashfall to disrupt the trains in the nearby city of Kagoshima according to the photographer. Image taken from about 20 km away. Courtesy of Tim Board.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. An ash plume drifted SE from the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 13 March (left) and a thermal anomaly was visible inside the Minamidake crater on 18 March 2019 (right). "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

A decline in activity to only ten eruptive events on days 7, 13, 17, 22, and 25 was reported by JMA for April 2019. An explosion on 7 April sent ejecta up to 1,700 m from the crater. Another explosion on 13 April produced an ash plume that rose 2,200 m above the summit. Most of the eruptive events at Sakurajima last for less than 30 minutes; on 22 April two events lasted for almost an hour each producing ash plumes that rose 1,400 m above the summit. Ashfall at KRMO was reported during seven days in April. Two distinct thermal anomalies were visible inside the Minamidake crater on both 12 and 27 April (figure 83).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Two thermal anomalies were present inside Minamidake crater at the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 12 (left) and 27 (right) April 2019. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

There were 15 eruptive events during May 2019. An event that lasted for two hours on 12 May produced an ash plume that rose 2,900 m from the summit and drifted NE (figure 84). The Meteorological Observatory reported 14 days with ashfall during the month. Two thermal anomalies were present in satellite imagery in the Minamidake crater on both 17 and 22 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. An ash plume rose 2,900 m above the summit of Sakurajima at Aira on 12 May 2019 (left); incandescent ejecta went 1,300 m from the summit crater on 13 May. Courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, May 2019).

During June 2019 five eruptive events were reported, on 11, 13, and 24 June; the event on 11 June lasted for almost two hours, sent ash 2,200 m above the summit, and produced ejecta that landed up to 1,100 m from the crater (figure 85). Five days of ashfall were reported by KRMO.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A large ash plume on 11 June 2019 rose 2,200 m above the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira. Courtesy of Aone Wakatsuki.

Geologic Background. The Aira caldera in the northern half of Kagoshima Bay contains the post-caldera Sakurajima volcano, one of Japan's most active. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow accompanied formation of the 17 x 23 km caldera about 22,000 years ago. The smaller Wakamiko caldera was formed during the early Holocene in the NE corner of the Aira caldera, along with several post-caldera cones. The construction of Sakurajima began about 13,000 years ago on the southern rim of Aira caldera and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kitadake summit cone ended about 4850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minamidake. Frequent historical eruptions, recorded since the 8th century, have deposited ash on Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largest cities, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76.

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); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Mike Day, Minnesota, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/MikeDaySMM, photo at https://twitter.com/MikeDaySMM/status/1083489400451989505/photo/1); Kratü, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/TalesOfKratue, photo at https://twitter.com/TalesOfKratue/status/1101469595414589441/photo/1); Tim Board, Japan, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/Hawkworld_, photo at https://twitter.com/Hawkworld_/status/1107789108754038789); Aone Wakatsuke, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/AoneWakatsuki, photo at https://twitter.com/AoneWakatsuki/status/1138420031258210305/photo/3).

Agung (Indonesia) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Continued explosions with ash plumes and incandescent ejecta, February-May 2019

After a large, deadly explosive and effusive eruption during 1963-64, Indonesia's Mount Agung on Bali remained quiet until a new eruption began in November 2017 (BGVN 43:01). Lava emerged into the summit crater at the end of November and intermittent ash plumes rose as high as 3 km above the summit through the end of the year. Activity continued throughout 2018 with explosions that produced ash plumes rising multiple kilometers above the summit, and the slow effusion of the lava within the summit crater (BGVN 43:08, 44:02). Information about the ongoing eruptive episode comes from Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), also known as the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and multiple sources of satellite data. This report covers the ongoing eruption from February through May 2019.

Intermittent but increasingly frequent and intense explosions with ash emissions and incandescent ejecta characterized activity at Agung during February through May 2019. During February, explosions were reported three times; events on seven days in March were documented with ash plumes and ashfall in surrounding villages. Five significant events occurred during April; two involved incandescent ejecta that traveled several kilometers from the summit, and ashfall tens of kilometers from the volcano. Most of the five significant events reported in May involved incandescent ejecta and ashfall in adjacent villages; air traffic was disrupted during the 24 May event. Ash plumes in May reached altitudes over 7 km multiple times. Thermal activity increased steadily during the period, according to both the MIROVA project (figure 44) and MODVOLC thermal alert data. MAGMA Indonesia reported at the end of May 2019 that the volume of lava within the summit crater remained at about 25 million m3; satellite information indicated continued thermal activity within the crater. Alert Level III (of four levels) remained in effect throughout the period with a 4 km exclusion radius around the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Thermal activity at Agung from 4 September 2018 through May 2019 was variable. The increasing frequency and intensity of thermal events was apparent from February-May. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Steam plumes rose 30-300 m high daily during February 2019. The Agung Volcano Observatory (AVO) and PVMBG issued a VONA on 7 February (UTC) reporting an ash plume, although it was not visible due to meteoric cloud cover. Incandescence, however, was observed at the summit from webcams in both Rendang and Karangasem City (16 km SE). The seismic event associated with the explosion lasted for 97 seconds. A similar event on 13 February was also obscured by clouds but produced a seismic event that lasted for 3 minutes and 40 seconds, and ashfall was reported in the village of Bugbug, about 20 km SE. On 22 February a gray ash plume rose 700 m from the summit during a seismic event that lasted for 6 minutes and 20 seconds (figure 45). The Darwin VAAC reported the plume visible in satellite imagery moving W at 4.3 km altitude. It dissipated after a few hours, but a hotspot remained visible about 10 hours later.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. An ash plume rose from the summit of Agung on 22 February 2019, viewed from the Besakih temple, 7 km SW of the summit. Courtesy of PunapiBali.

Persistent steam plumes rose 50-500 m from the summit during March 2019. An explosion on 4 March was recorded for just under three minutes and produced ashfall in Besakih (7 km SW); no ash plume was observed due to fog. A short-lived ash plume rose to 3.7 km altitude and drifted SE on 8 March (UTC) 2019. The seismic event lasted for just under 4 minutes. Ash emissions were reported on 15 and 17 March to 4.3 and 3.7 km altitude, respectively, drifting W (figure 46). Ashfall from the 15 March event spread NNW and was reported in the villages of Kubu (6 km N), Tianyar (14 km NNW), Ban, Kadundung, and Sukadana. MAGMA Indonesia noted that two explosions on the morning of 17 March (local time) produced gray plumes; the first sent a plume to 500 m above the summit drifting E and lasted for about 40 seconds, while the second plume a few hours later rose 600 m above the crater and lasted for 1 minute and 16 seconds. On 18 March an ash plume rose 1 km and drifted W and NW. An event on 20 March was measured only seismically by PVMBG because fog prevented observations. An eruption on 28 March produced an ash plume 2 km high that drifted W and NW. The seismic signal for this event lasted for about two and a half minutes. The Darwin VAAC reported the ash plume at 5.5 km altitude, dissipating quickly to the NW. No ash was visible four hours later, but a thermal anomaly remained at the summit (figure 47). Ashfall was reported in nearby villages.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Ash plumes from Agung on 15 (left) and 17 (right) March 2019 resulted in ashfall in communities 10-20 km from the volcano. Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia (Information on G. Agung Eruption, 15 March 2019 and Gunung Agung Eruption Press Release March 17, 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. A thermal anomaly was visible through thick cloud cover at the summit of Agung on 29 March 2019 less than 24 hours after a gray ash plume was reported 2,000 m above the summit. "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The first explosion of April 2019 occurred on the 3rd (UTC); PVMBG reported the dense gray ash plume 2 km above the summit drifting W. A few hours later the Darwin VAAC raised the altitude to 6.1 km based on infrared temperatures in satellite imagery. The seismic signal lasted for three and a half minutes and the explosion was heard at the PGA Post in Rendang (12 km SW). Incandescent material fell within a radius of 2-3 km, mainly on the S flank (figure 48). Ashfall was reported in the villages of Telungbuana, Badeg, Besakih, Pempatan, Teges, and Puregai on the W and S flanks (figure 49). An explosion on 11 April also produced a dense gray ash plume that rose 2 km above the summit and drifted W. A hotspot remained about six hours later after the ash dissipated.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Incandescent ejecta appeared on the flanks of Agung after an eruption on 4 April 2019 (local time) as viewed from the observation post in Rendang (8 km SW). Courtesy of Jamie Sincioco.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Ashfall in a nearby town dusted mustard plants on 4 April 2019 from an explosion at Agung the previous day. Courtesy of Pantau.com (Photo: Antara / Nyoman Hendra).

PVMBG reported an eruption visible in the webcam early on 21 April (local time) that rose to 5.5 km altitude and drifted SW. The ash spread W and S and ash fell around Besakih (7 km SW), Rendang (8 km SW), Klungkung (25 km S), Gianyar (20 km WSW), Bangli (17 km WNW), Tabanan (50 km WSW), and at the Ngurah Rai-Denpasar Airport (60 km SW). About 15 hours later a new explosion produced a dense gray ash plume that rose to 3 km above the summit and produced incandescent ejecta in all directions as far as 3 km away (figure 50). The ash spread to the S and ashfall was reported in Besakih, Rendang, Sebudi (6 km SW), and Selat (12 km SSW). Both of the explosions were heard in Rendang and Batulompeh. The incandescent ejecta from the explosions remained within the 4-km exclusion zone. A satellite image on 23 April showed multiple thermal anomalies within the summit crater (figure 51). A dense gray plume drifted E from Agung on 29 April (30 April local time) at 4.6 km altitude. It was initially reported by ground observers, but was also visible in multispectral satellite imagery for about six hours before dissipating.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. An explosion at Agung on 21 April 2019 sent incandescent eject 3,000 m from the summit. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia (Gunung Agung Eruption Press Release April 21, 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Multiple thermal anomalies were still present within the summit crater of Agung on 23 April 2019 after two substantial explosions produced ash and incandescent ejecta around the summit two days earlier. "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

PVMBG reported an eruption on 3 May 2019 that was recorded on a seismogram with a signal that lasted for about a minute. Satellite imagery reported by the Darwin VAAC showed a growing hotspot and possible ash near the summit at 4.3 km altitude moving NE. A few days later, on 6 May, a gray ash plume rose to 5.2 km altitude and drifted slowly W before dissipating; it was accompanied by a seismic signal that lasted for about two minutes. Explosions on 12 and 18 May produced significant amounts of incandescent ejecta (figure 52). The seismic signal for the 12 May event lasted for about two minutes; no plume was observed due to fog, but incandescent ejecta was visible on the flanks and the explosion was heard at Rendang. The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume from the explosion on 17 May (18 May local time) at 6.1 km altitude in satellite imagery moving E. They revised the altitude a short while later to 7.6 km based on IR temperature and movement; the plume drifted N, NE, and E in light and variable winds. A few hours after that it was moving NE at 7.6 km altitude and SE at 5.5 km altitude; this lasted for about 12 hours until it dissipated. Ashfall was reported in villages downwind including Cutcut, Tongtongan, Bonyoh (20 km WNW), and Temakung.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Explosions on 12 (left) and 18 (right) May (local time) 2019 produced substantial ejecta on the flanks of Agung visible from a distance of 10 km or more in PVMBG webcams. The ash plume from the 18 May event resulted in ashfall in numerous communities downwind. Courtesy of PVMBG (Information Eruption G. Agung, May 13, 2019, Information Eruption G. Agung, May 18, 2019).

The initial explosion on 18 May was captured by a webcam at a nearby resort and sent incandescent ejecta hundreds of meters down the NE flank within 20 seconds (figure 53). Satellite imagery on 3, 8, 13, and 18 May indicated multiple thermal anomalies growing stronger at the summit. All of the images were captured within 24 hours of an explosive event reported by PVMBG (figure 54).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. The 18 May 2019 explosion at Agung produced an ash plume that rose to over 7 km altitude and large bombs of incandescent material that traveled hundreds of meters down the NE flank within the first 20 seconds of the explosion. Images taken from a private webcam located 12 km NE. Courtesy of Volcanoverse, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. Satellite images from 3, 8, 13, and 18 May 2019 at Agung showed persistent and increasing thermal anomalies within the summit crater. All images were captured within 24 hours of explosions reported by PVMBG. "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

PVMBG issued a VONA on 24 May 2019 reporting a new ash emission. They indicated that incandescent fragments were ejected 2.5-3 km in all directions from the summit, and the seismic signal lasted for four and a half minutes (figure 55). A dense gray ash plume was observed from Tulamben on the NE flank rising 2 km above the summit. Satellite imagery indicated that the plume drifted SW and ashfall was reported in the villages of Besakih, Pempatan, Menanga, Sebudi, Muncan, Amerta Bhuana, Nongan, Rendang, and at the Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpassar. Additionally, ashfall was reported in the districts of Tembuku, Bangli, and Susut (20 km SW). The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery at 4.6 km altitude along with a thermal anomaly and incandescent lava visible in webcam imagery. The remains of the ash plume were about 170 km S of the airport in Denpasar (60 km SW) and had nearly dissipated 18 hours after the event. According to a news article several flights to and from Australia were cancelled or diverted, though the International Gusti Ngurah Rai (IGNR) airport was not closed. On 31 May another large explosion produced the largest ash plume of the report period, rising more than 2 km above the summit (figure 56). The Darwin VAAC reported its altitude as 8.2 km drifting ESE visible in satellite data. It split into two plumes, one drifted E at 8.2 km and the other ESE at 6.1 km altitude, dissipating after about 20 hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. A large explosion at Agung on 24 May 2019 produced incandescent ejecta that covered all the flanks and dispersed ash to many communities to the SW. Courtesy of PVMBG (Gunung Agung Eruption Press Release 24 May 2019 20:38 WIB, Kasbani, Ir., M.Sc.).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. An explosion at Agung on 31 May 2019 sent an ash plume to 8.2 km altitude, the highest for the report period. Courtesy of Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); The Jakarta Post, Mount Agung eruption disrupts Australian flights, (URL: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/05/25/mount-agung-eruption-disrupts-australian-flights.html); PunapiBali (URL: http://punapibali.com/, Twitter: https://twitter.com/punapibali, image at https://twitter.com/punapibali/status/1098869352588288000/photo/1); Jamie S. Sincioco, Phillipines (URL: Twitter: https://twitter.com/jaimessincioco. Image at https://twitter.com/jaimessincioco/status/1113765842557104130/photo/1); Pantau.com (URL: https://www.pantau.com/berita/erupsi-gunung-agung-sebagian-wilayah-bali-terpapar-hujan-abu?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter); Volcanoverse (URL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi3T_esus8Sr9I-3W5teVQQ); Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB (Twitter: @Sutopo_PN, URL: https://twitter.com/Sutopo_PN ).

Kerinci (Indonesia) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Intermittent explosions with ash plumes, February-May 2019

Frequently active, Indonesia's Mount Kerinci on Sumatra has been the source of numerous moderate explosive eruptions since its first recorded eruption in 1838. Intermittent explosions with ash plumes, usually multiple times per month, have characterized activity since April 2018. Similar activity continued during February-May 2019, the period covered in this report with information provided primarily by the Indonesian volcano monitoring agency, Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), MAGMA Indonesia, notices from the Darwin Volcano Ash Advisory Center (Darwin VAAC), and satellite data. PVMBG has maintained an Alert Level II (of 4) at Kerinci for several years.

On 13 February 2019 the Kerinci Volcano Observatory (KVO), part of PVMBG, noted a brownish-white ash emission that was drifting NE about 400 m above the summit. The seismicity during the event was dominated by continuous volcanic tremor. A brown ash emission was reported on 7 March 2019 that rose to 3.9 km altitude and drifted NE. Ash also drifted 1,300 m down the SE flank. Another ash plume the next morning drifted W at 4.5 km altitude, according to KVO. On 10, 11, and 13 March KVO reported brown ash plumes drifting NE from the summit at about 4.0-4.3 km altitude. The Darwin VAAC observed continuous ash emissions in satellite imagery on 15 March drifting W at 4.3 m altitude that dissipated after about 3 hours (figure 10). A gray ash emission was reported on 19 March about 600 m above the summit drifting NE; local news media noted that residents of Kayo Aro reported emissions on both 18 and 19 March (figure 11). An ash emission appeared in satellite imagery on 25 March (figure 10). On 30 March the observatory reported two ash plumes; a brown emission at 0351 UTC and a gray emission at 0746 UTC that both drifted NE at about 4.4 km altitude and dissipated within a few hours. PVMBG reported another gray ash plume the following day at a similar altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of Kerinci from 15 (left) and 25 (right) March 2019 showed evidence of ash plumes rising from the summit. Kerinci's summit crater is about 500 m wide. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Dense ash plumes from Kerinci were reported by local news media on 18 and 19 March 2019. Courtesy of Nusana Jambi.

Activity continued during April with a brown ash emission reported on 3 April by several different agencies; the Darwin VAAC and PVMBG daily reports noted that the plume was about 500 m above the summit (4.3 km altitude) drifting NE. KVO observed two brown ash emissions on 13 April (UTC) that rose to 4.2 km altitude and drifted NE. Satellite imagery showed minor ash emissions from the summit on 14 April; steam plumes 100-500 m above the summit characterized activity for the remainder of April (figure 12).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. A dilute ash emission rose from the summit of Kerinci on 14 April 2019 (left); only steam emissions were present on a clear 29 April in Sentinel-2 imagery (right). "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Ashfall on the NE and S flanks within 7 km of the volcano was reported on 2 May 2019. According to a news article, at least five villages were affected late on 2 May, including Tanjung Bungo, Sangir, Sangir Tengah, Sungai Rumpun, and Bendung Air (figures 13 and 14). The smell of sulfur was apparent in the villages. Brown ash emissions were observed on 3 and 4 May that rose to 4.6 and 4.1 km altitude and drifted SE. The Darwin VAAC reported an emission on 5 May, based on a pilot report, that rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted NE for about an hour before dissipating. A brown ash emission on 10 May rose 700 m above the summit and drifted SE. Satellite imagery captured ash emissions from the summit on 14 and 24 May (figure 15). For the remainder of the month, 300-700-m-high dense steam plumes were noted daily until PVMBG reported white and brown plumes on 26 and 27 May rising 500-1,000 m above the summit. Although thermal anomalies were not reported during the period, persistent weak SO2 emissions were identified in TROPOMI instrument satellite data multiple times per month (figure 16).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Ashfall was reported from five villages on the flanks of Kerinci on 2 May 2019. Courtesy of Uzone.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. An ash plume at Kerinci rose hundreds of meters on 2 May 2019; ashfall was reported in several nearby villages. Courtesy of Kerinci Time.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Ash emissions from Kerinci were captured in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 14 (left) and 24 (right) May 2019. The summit crater is about 500 m wide. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Weak SO2 anomalies from Kerinci emissions were captured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite multiple times each month from February to May 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Nuansa Jambi, Informasi Utama Jambi: (URL: https://nuansajambi.com/2019/03/20/gunung-kerinci-semburkan-asap-tebal/); Kerinci Time (URL: https://kerincitime.co.id/gunung-kerinci-semburkan-abu-vulkanik.html); Uzone.id (URL: https://news.uzone.id/gunung-kerinci-erupsi-5-desa-tertutup-abu-tebal).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 39, Number 05 (May 2014)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Kilauea (United States)

During 2013, a summit lava lake and lava flows on slopes and into ocean

Nabro (Eritrea)

Thermal alerts ended mid-2012; revised 2011 plume heights; uplift mechanisms debated

Pacaya (Guatemala)

Sudden, bomb-laden explosions of 27-28 May 2010; extra-crater lava flows

Kilauea (United States) — May 2014 Citation iconCite this Report


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During 2013, a summit lava lake and lava flows on slopes and into ocean

This report summarizes observations and monitoring data from Kilauea during January-December 2013; activity during 2010-12 was covered in BGVN 38:05. The primary reporting source was the U.S. Geological Survey-Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) which provided monitoring and communication resources for the Hawaiian volcanoes, namely Kilauea, Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, and Lo`ihi.

2013 Overview. During 2013, Kilauea's summit lava lake persisted , and lava flows erupted from Pu'u 'O'o. Two minor ocean entries were visible during the year until mid-July; both were branches of the Peace Day flow while, later in the year, two lava flows (Kahauale'a 1 and Kahauale'a 2) extended N-NE from Pu'u 'O'o. Both lava flows crossed into the nearby forest, causing fires and significant smoke along their margins. Petrology of the summit tephra and East Rift Zone (ERZ) did not show significant changes during the year. SO2 emissions from both, the summit and the active ERZ were closely monitored by HVO and those observations led to new innovations in quantifying the flux. HVO reported that SO2 and also CO2 fluxes were relatively low but still above safe levels as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flank deformation and seismic monitoring determined that, although variable conditions were detected, very little accumulated change had occurred at Kilauea.

Due to the Federal shutdown during 1-16 October 2013, HVO focused on only the most critical operations. Activities that were not directly related to critical operations were postponed, including research and outreach.

One such outreach opportunity that became curtailed was the first Great ShakeOut for Hawai`i which took place on 17 October 2013 and included almost 16,000 participants across all of the islands. This was a large-scale earthquake drill that followed in the tradition of The Great Southern California ShakeOut, which took place in 2008. HVO partnered with the State and County Civil Defense, Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), University of Hawai`i (UH-Hilo), American Red Cross, and FEMA. HVO staff generated a significant amount of information for the media including several press releases and web content; they also attended preparedness fairs and gave public talks.

Persistent thermal anomalies during 2013. More than 200 alerts per month were released by the MODVOLC program during 2013 for the Big Island of Hawai`i (figure 211). These alerts came from sites around the island that exhibited elevated radiance and were dominated by Pu'u 'O'o and the Kilauea summit. One exceptional thermal anomaly was a site along the Mamalahoa Highway (Highway 190) in the NW sector of the island. News sources reported that, during 25-26 November 2013, a significant brushfire burned 300 acres in South Kohala. The burn site was near the highway mile marker 14 and caused segments of the highway to close while emergency crews contained the fire.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 211. More than 200 thermal alerts were posted each month in 2013 by the MODVOLC program for the island of Hawai`i. This image captures the thermal alerts registered during January-December 2013. Note the concentration of red-to-yellow thermal alert pixels at the summit of Kilauea and at the Pu'u 'O'o vent along the E rift that also reached the sea. The anomalous pixel located N of Hualalai (green box) was attributed to a fire that burned near Highway 190 during 25-26 November 2013. Courtesy of MODVOLC.

Summit lava lake activity. "Now in its sixth year, the current summit eruption harks back to the persistent lava lake in Halema`uma`u during the 1800s and early 1900s, suggesting that it has the potential to last for many years" (Patrick and others, 2013). Based on Hawai`i's written record, one earlier summit lava lake occupied Halema`uma`u during 1823-1924.

During 2013, the summit lava lake within the Overlook crater, a nested crater within Halema`uma`u, fluctuated in height, by tens of meters, resulting in perched lava deposits (bathtub rings) and collapse of the crater walls. The crater englarged slightly as a result.

Also, observers frequently noted nighttime incandescence (figure 212). Local webcameras (infrared and visible-light) captured images of the lava lake from the Halema`uma`u Overlook site as well as from the highest point of the HVO facility.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 212. During 2008-2013, an active lava lake resided within the Overlook crater, a feature within Halema`uma`u crater at Kilauea's summit. A) This shaded relief map indicates where HVO installed a thermal camera (HT cam) to view the entire surface of the lava lake. HVO and the summit tiltmeter (UWE) are 1.9-2.0 km from the lava lake. B) This oblique view is an aerial photo of the SE crater rim of Halema`uma`u. Modified from Patrick and others (2014).

The HT infrared camera occasionally documented crater rim collapse events in 2013. These events were relatively small-sized and tended to occur more frequently when the lava lake level was relatively deep within the Overlook crater (for example, a small collapse occurred when the lava lake was at a depth of ~75 m during 25-26 July 2013). When the lava lake was high, however, the interior walls were subjected to heating and cracking and HVO scientists concluded that collapse events could be triggered during these conditions as well. One collapse event, on 15 November 2013, was likely triggered by slumping due to heavy rain; several Park Rangers observed the event and the collapse was heard by an HVO scientist standing at the Jaggar Overlook (the same location shared with HVO on the crater rim).

A crust of lava had formed an inner rim within the Overlook crater and, on 25 July at 2033, a portion of that rim collapsed into the lava lake (figure 213). The main event was followed by smaller collapses of the deep inner ledge during the following day. Based on webcamera images, explosive events were not triggered by the collapse. HVO reported that, since the formation of the lava lake (March 2008), the largest gas-and-ash emissions from the summit were triggered by gravitational collapses along the crater rim; when rockfalls hit the convecting lava's surface, violent gas release could occur.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 213. These two thermal images were taken before (25 July 2013) and after (30 July 2013) the collapse of the inner rim of Kilauea's Overlook crater. The inner rim had been constructed during high lake levels in October 2012 (~22 m below the Halema`uma`u crater floor). The webcam (HT cam) was located on rim of Halema`uma`u crater and it captured a new image every ~15 minutes; the temperature scale is in degrees Celsius up to a maximum of 500°C and it automatically scaled based on the maximum and minimum temperatures within the frame. At the time of these photos, the surface of the lava lake was ~75 m below the Overlook crater rim. Courtesy of HVO.

According to HVO, the lava lake level within the Overlook crater generally fluctuated 30-60 m below the rim during 2013. A laser rangefinder was used to obtain regular measurements during the year. Lava was closest to the rim and flooded part of the inner ledge of the crater in January 2013 (an event that also occurred in October 2012). Lava at the flooded lake's margin chilled and reinforced the bathtub-like ring that persisted above the active lava surface (note the "inner rim" in figure 213). In daily online reports, HVO noted: "The lake level responds to summit tilt changes with the lake generally receding during deflation and rising during inflation."

Starting in 2009, HVO scientists noted rise/fall events and determined that the pattern began with decreasing tremor from the summit at a time when lava rose within the lake, spattering would decrease or completely stop, and summit tilt would also decrease. "After a period of minutes to hours, the lava will abruptly drain back to its previous level amidst resumed vigorous spattering, seismic tremor amplitude will increase for a short time (a seismic tremor burst) before resuming background levels, and summit tilt will return to its previous level. Gas emissions decrease significantly during the high lava stand (the plume gets wispy), and resume during its draining phase. Taken together, the geophysical characteristics suggest that, during the high lava stand, lava is puffed up with gas trapped under the lava lake crust."

During 2013, explosive events at the summit rarely occurred; intermittent spattering and degassing dominated summit activity. The plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of ash, spatter, and Pele's hair onto nearby areas, particularly downwind of the crater (figure 214). The Overlook crater diameter was 35 m in March 2008 and, by the end of 2013, the dimensions had increased to 160 x 215 m. The size increase followed minor explosions and rockfalls from the interior crater walls.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 214. Pele's hair (fine strands of natural glass) continued to accumulate downwind of Kilauea's active summit crater. A) This photograph from 3 May 2012 was taken looking along the curb of the Halema`uma`u parking lot (closed to the public since the onset of summit activity in 2008), and shows a mat of Pele's hair accumulated on the windward side of the parking curb. Courtesy of Matthew Patrick, USGS. B) On 9 December 2013, a continuous carpet of Pele's hair was observed shining like gold near the Halema`uma`u Overlook trail next to the parking lot. Courtesy of Ben Gaddis, USGS.

Kilauea's Overlook crater lava lake produced a small explosion during 2148-2149 on 23 August 2013 (figure 215). A portion of the overhanging SE crater rim collapsed and struck the surface of the lava lake. The debris had fallen into an area where nearly persistent spattering had previously been observed. The ensuing explosion generated a plume containing ash, lapilli, bombs (up to 34 cm in diameter), and lithics (ash, lapilli, and blocks up to 10 cm in diameter). The plume deposited material across the Overlook area. The level of the lava lake had been measured as ~38 m below the rim of Halema`uma`u crater earlier that day. Normal conditions prevailed after visibility returned within the camera's field of view at ~2149.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 215. Images captured between 2148 and 2149 on 23 August 2013 by the HT camera (see figure 212 for location) during a small explosion from Kilauea's lava lake. The thermal images A-D highlight the incandescence that persisted from the lake's surface as well as the hot spatter and debris that exploded after a portion of the inner crater rim fell into the lava lake. Courtesy of HVO.

Pu'u 'O'o and East Rift Zone lava flows. The Pu'u 'O'o eruption consisted of three lava flows during 2013: the Peace Day, Kahauale'a, and Kahauale'a 2 flows (figure 216). The Kahauale'a flows were unique in that they traveled N of the rift zone, unlike the numerous other lava flows that have spread generally toward the ocean (including the Peace Day flow) (figure 217). This activity was considered the continuation of Episode 61, which began on 20 August 2011 and continued through the end of this reporting period (December 2013).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 216. The "spillway"—Pu`u `O`o's eastern flank—has been buried by flows fed mostly from a spatter cone on the NE side of the crater floor. Most of the dark-colored lava in the foreground is new lava that has resurfaced the spillway during the past year. The fume to the left is the trace of the Peace Day tube which carried lava to the coast and had been covered by lava flows from the crater . The tube carrying lava to the NE is inconspicuous, but extends toward the lower right side of the photo. Photo taken on 25 February 2013. Courtesy of HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 217. Geologic map of Kilauea's East Rift Zone and lava flows from the active vent, Pu`u `O`o. The distribution of lava flows emplaced during 2013 is shaded red (bright red, pink, and red-orange). The yellow lines extending from Pu`u `O`o represent the general path of lava tubes that directed the flows Peace Day, Kahauale'a 1, and Kahauale'a 2. Changes to the surface area of the Kahauale'a 2 and Peace Day flows are shaded bright red, corresponding to activity during 19 September-26 December and 19 September-2 November 2013 respectively. Note that Kahauale'a 1 was active during 19 January-17 April 2013. Courtesy of HVO.

The morphology of Pu'u 'O'o crater was relatively stable through 2013. The crater remained very shallow and at or near the level of the original E spillway rim (figure 216). There were four spatter cones, all consistently active and often exhibiting incandescent openings at their tops (figure 218). These cones also emitted gas-jetting sounds and occasional, effusive spattering. The main center of activity through the year was the NE spatter cone. This cone often hosted a small lava pond and served as the vent for the Kahauale'a and Kahauale'a 2 flows.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 218. A small lava lake, several meters in diameter, had persisted for nearly a year on the NE side of the Pu`u `O`o crater. The lake was perched several meters above the surrounding crater floor (seen behind the topographic high, shrouded in steam). The feature was near the top of a mound of lava composed of spatter cones and lava lake overflows. Flows from the lake and other nearby spatter cones had inundated the E rim of Pu`u `O`o's crater, which would normally be visible in the background just behind the area seen here. Photo taken on 31 January 2013. Courtesy of HVO.

In late 2012, Pu'u 'O'o crater was slowly infilling, and by the beginning of 2013, lava from the NE spatter cone reached the E spillway rim. A dramatic inflation event in mid-January triggered numerous overflows from the NE spatter cone, and the SE cone spread more lava across the crater floor but also sent flows over the E spillway. On 19 January, an overflow from the NE spatter cone sent lava down the E spillway in what would become the Kahauale'a flow. Over the next month, overflows from the cone covered much of the E spillway. Inflation in late April correlated with abundant venting and more overflows from four cones on the crater floor, with some spilling out toward the E, adding to the recent flows mantling the upper E flank of Pu'u 'O'o (figure 219). After the Kahauale'a flow eventually stalled in April, overflows in early May from the NE spatter cone fed a new flow, following the same course; this became the Kahauale'a 2 flow. Small overflows occurred sporadically from the cones through the remainder of the year, with larger events in mid-August and mid-November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 219. This thermal image of Pu`u `O`o was captured on 27 November 2013. The SE and NE spatter cones had produced small flows that extended out of the crater, shown clearly here by their warm temperatures. The vent for the Kahauale`a 2 flow is at the NE spatter cone, and the lava tube supplying the Kahauale`a 2 flow is obvious as the line of elevated temperatures extending to the lower right corner of the image. The distance between the black scarps is ~ 300 m. Courtesy of HVO.

Coastal plain lava flows and ocean entries. The Peace Day flow (episode 61b) began on 21 September 2011, and it was active for much of 2013 before ceasing in November 2013. This lava flow reached the sea and generated scattered, branching flows (breakouts) on the coastal plain, as well as several isolated breakouts above the pali (fault scarp).

The ocean entry consisted of two main entry points during 2013, with an E entry at Kupapa`u (just E of the Park boundary) and a smaller, weaker entry immediately to its W (within the Park). These entry points were not vigorous; there were little-to-no-observed littoral explosions; a delta formed that extended several meters out from the sea cliff (figure 220 A).The view from the E margin of the Peace Day flow field on the sea cliff was relatively good, and the ocean entry provided a destination for guide services (not all sanctioned) operating out of Kalapana (numerous, possibly over 100 tourists made the hour-long walk out to the site each evening). As activity on the coastal plain declined in the summer, the W entry shut down in mid-July; the E entry ceased on 21 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 220. Thermal images have helped HVO geologists map Kilauea's lava tube system. (A) This thermal image from 27 June 2013 shows Kilauea's E ocean entry (spanning ~ 1 km along the shore) at Kupapa`u Point. Just inland from the entry point a patch of slightly warmer temperatures indicates an area of recent small breakouts. Inland from this warm patch you can see a narrow line of elevated temperatures that traces the path of the lava tube beneath the surface that is supplying lava to this ocean entry. Two plumes of higher temperature water (~50°C in areas close to the ocean entries) spread out from the entry point. Courtesy of HVO. (B) This image shows the Peace Day lava tube coming down the pali in Royal Gardens subdivision on 24 May 2013. The lava tube parallels Ali`i avenue (see figure 217 for the location of Royal Gardens), shown by the straight line of warm temperatures that represent asphalt heated in the sun. This tube feeds lava to the ocean entry and breakouts on the coastal plain. There is no active lava on the surface in this image - the warm surface temperatures are due to heating by the underlying lava tube. Courtesy of HVO.

Most of the Peace Day flow activity during 2013 was constrained to the coastal plain. From January through August, the coastal plain featured episodic of breakouts near the base of the pali in Royal Gardens. Those branches from the main flow slowly migrated toward the ocean before halting on the coastal plain (figure 220 B). Eventually, another breakout occurred at the base of the pali and sent out another flow that presumably drained supply from the previous flow. The new flow reached the location of the stagnating previous flow, and the flows became an indistinguishable mix of small, scattered breakouts in the middle of the coastal plain (figure 221). Minor, scattered breakouts were common on the coastal plain during January-August. Activity levels declined by August, the ocean entry diminished, and the last coastal plain flows ended around 8 September. With no ocean entry or surface flows, the coastal plain (and Kalapana-based lava tourism) became quiet again.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 221. Lava flows from Pu'u 'O'o consisted of only a few scattered breakouts near the shoreline on 18 January 2013, with most of the activity focused on the coastal plain closer to the base of the pali. This pahoehoe lobe (~1 m wide) was active near the E margin of the Peace Day flow field just a few hundred meters from the coastline. Courtesy of HVO.

Lava flow activity above the pali. From mid-January to the end of May 2013, a large amount of lava escaped the Peace Day tube to create a divergent flow above Royal Gardens. It did not advance very far until April, when it crept slowly downslope into the upper reaches of Royal Gardens. This breakout flow ceased on 30 May. As the coastal plain breakouts progressively decreased during September, two small flows appeared above the pali, presumably resulting from the abandonment of the lower Peace Day lava tube. The smaller of the two breakouts was at the top of Royal Gardens, about 6 km from Pu'u 'O'o, and appeared to start between 7 and 14 September but was inactive by mid-October (timing was determined in large part by satellite images as opposed to direct observation). This small breakout flow was visible from the Kalapana lava-viewing area.

The larger of the two breakouts began around 5 September and was about 3 km SE of Pu'u 'O'o, advancing a little over a kilometer before stalling. This breakout was active until 7 November, when it and the rest of the Peace Day flow stalled. This wasn't the end, however, and the Peace Day flow gasped a final breath when a very small, brief breakout occurred on the upper Peace Day lava tube, near Pu'u Halulu, on 15 November. It was probably active for only minutes or hours and marked the end of the Peace Day flow.

The Kahauale'a flow (episode 61c) began as an overflow from the NE spatter cone on 19 January 2013, occurring simultaneously as Kilauea inflated. It advanced down the NE flank of Pu'u 'O'o, N of the Peace Day tube, until it hit flat topography N of the cone where it developed a lava tube and covered early Pu'u 'O'o 'a'a flows. The flow consisted of scattered pahoehoe lobes, and these migrated slowly (~50 m/day) E toward Kahauale'a cone, reaching it in mid-February (figure 222). From there, it followed the N margin of an earlier flow emplaced during the episode 58 flow. The path of this new flow abutted the steep northern slope of the 2007-2008 perched lava channel. This confinement led to a narrowing of the advancing flow front, resulting in increased advance rates (>100 m/day) in early March. As the front passed the perched channel, it became less confined, and advance rates dropped to under 50 m/day. By the first week of April, the flow had reached 4.9 km from the vent on Pu'u 'O'o but ceased on 17 April during a deflation-inflation (DI) event (see figure 199 in Bulletin 38:02 where DI events are illustrated). Due to infrequent overflights by HVO scientists during 2013 (resulting from budget cuts), staff relied heavily on satellite images--particularly EO-1 Advanced Land Imager images--to track the advance of the flow.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 222. Kahauale`a Cone, a local topographic high several hundred meters long, has long been a small oasis of vegetation in the midst of Pu`u `O`o lava. This photo from 19 March 2013 shows new lava from the active Kahauale`a flow surrounding the cone, which has also partly burned. Vent structures (such as episode 58, active from 2007 to 2011), are in the background just behind Kahauale`a. Pu`u `O`o is out of sight to the right. Courtesy of HVO.

HVO noted that the Kahauale'a flow was unusual in that the most recent flows from Pu'u 'O'o traveled S toward the ocean, providing minimal threat to residential areas. The Kahauale'a flow, however, was directed N of the rift zone, along a NE trend. This put the flow on a downslope trajectory that could have threatened residential areas of including Ainaloa and Paradise Park. HVO and Hawai'i County Civil Defense increased their communications through that time period but just a few weeks later, in mid-April, an abrupt change in magma supply occurred at Pu'u 'O'o and the flow ceased.

Inflation at Pu'u 'O'o produced another overflow from the NE spatter cone, which started on 6 May. This became the Kahauale'a 2 flow (episode 61d) and was directed slightly more to the N by the original Kahauale'a flow, reaching the forest boundary ~2 km NW of Pu'u 'O'o in early June. These flows invaded the forest a short distance and created steady forest fires. During July, the flow front took a more northeasterly course, following the N margin of the original Kahauale'a flow (figure 223). Its advance slowed during late July to mid-August, but during September the advance increased when the flow entered the previously mentioned narrow channel along the episode 58 perched lava channel.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 223. (top) A photo taken looking W from a helicopter on 19 September 2013 of the burning forest due to Kilauea's Kahauale`a 2 flow (approximately 7 km long). This lava flow extended from Kilauea's Pu'u 'O'o NE vent. Active breakouts on the Kahauale`a 2 were scattered over a broad area. Here, a breakout near the edge of the forest engulfed trees and burned dead foliage. Courtesy of HVO. (bottom) The flow front of the Kahauale`a 2 flow cut a narrow swath through forest NE of Pu`u `O`o. The narrow lobe at the front was inactive at the time of this photo on 27 November 2013, with the main area of surface flows about 2 km behind the end of this lobe. Some of these surface flows slowly expanded N into the forest, igniting fires. Pu`u `O`o is in the upper left, ~7 km SW. Courtesy of HVO.

By mid-October, Kahauale'a 2's narrow flow front had reached the distant forest boundary and surpassed the length of the original Kahauale'a flow. A narrow finger of lava forming the flow front advanced into the forest in mid-November, reaching just over 7 km distance from Pu'u 'O'o, before stalling soon after 20 November. Behind the flow front, branching flows began to migrate along a more northerly direction into the forest, triggering more fires. This area of breakouts soon turned NE, paralleling the narrow finger that had stalled in late November. By 26 December, the active flow front was 6.3 km NE of the vent and persisted into the New Year.

Petrology of the summit (Halema`uma`u) and rift (Pu`u `O`o) lavas. From 2013 to 2014, the juvenile component of Kilauea's summit tephra remained essentially as it had during 2008-2013. The overall temporal variation of summit lava mimicked the MgO systematics of ERZ lava for the 2008-2014 interval, with summit glass compositions overlapping those of contemporaneous bulk ERZ lava but erupting 20° to 25°C hotter than at Pu'u 'O'o. There were no changes in trace-element signatures, which matched those of the East Rift Zone (ERZ) lava. Halema'uma'u vent tephra remained sparsely olivine and spinel phyric with ~2 volume percent of 100-300 μm, subhedral to euhedral olivine phenocrysts (typically with melt inclusions). Olivine in summit glasses was consistently complemented by >0.05 volume percent of chromian-spinel microphenocrysts.

2013 Pu'u 'O'o lava also did not show any significant petrologic changes. It contained a five-phase assemblage: olivine(-spinel)-augite-plagioclase-liquid. The assemblage was interpreted as the result of simultaneous growth and dissolution of phenocrysts, reflecting the modeled values for cooling, fractionation, and mixing in the shallow edifice prior to eruption. This multi-phyric condition (see figure 224 for photomicrograph examples from previous years), which had persisted in the steady-state ERZ lava for most of the last ~15 years, attested to a stable shallow magmatic condition perpetuated by near-continuous recharge and eruption.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 224. Two photomicrographs of Pu'u 'O'o thin sections sampled by HVO scientists from vent (a) and lava tube activity (b) during 1996-1998 (100 μm = 0.1 mm). Both show glass containing olivine phenocrysts with melt inclusions and opaque microphenocrysts of spinel. Image B shows an olivine phenocryst and spinel microphenocrysts in glass with round vesicles (one is located behind "b"). Modified from Roeder and others (2003).

SO2 emission rates. During 2013, HVO reported notable advances in measuring the dense, opaque summit SO2 plume. It was significant to note that the summit SO2 emission rates measured since 2008 represented a minimum constraint on emissions, whereas by the end of 2013 it was possible to determine a more accurate estimate of the amount of gas emitted from the Overlook crater. Because traditional gas measuring techniques are subject to multiple scattering effects from incoming radiation that can contribute to significant errors in the calculated SO2 emission rates, HVO scientists were pursued various approaches to achieve a more accurate emission rate.

HVO scientists addressed the issue of underestimation due to scattered light in two ways: (1) minimize and/or model the effects of scattering on the retrieved results and (2) measure farther away from the emission source where the plume is more dispersed and not as optically thick.

Using HVO's old metric for evaluating SO2 summit emissions, the total SO2 released in 2013 was first calculated as 266,000 metric tons. They had long recognized these value as among those that had persistently understated the true mass of SO2. To account for the summit emission rate underestimation, they used an initial preliminary correction. It was based on early Simulated Radiative Transfer- Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (SRT-DOAS) values. This refinement increased the summit's traditional estimate 3-fold, yielding a summit total SO2 amount of ~800,000 metric tons for the year 2013.

HVO further reported a preliminary calculation of Kilauea's 2013 summit emissions using their available Flyspec array data yielded ~1.0 x 106 metric tons for 2013. This was judged more accurate value for the total summit SO2 release.

East rift zone (ERZ) emissions for 2013 continued at the low level recorded since mid-2012. Early in the year, SO2 emissions increased coincident with the occurrence of the Kahauale'a lava flow, but emissions stabilized several months later and continued at a low level for the balance of the year. Rift emissions were consistently less than those at the summit for 2013 totaled ~113,000 metric tons (using the refined methods mentioned above). This was ~20% less than reported in 2012, and the lowest amount recorded since the ERZ eruption began in 1983. The low SO2 emissions from the ERZ were at least partially due to degassing at the summit.

Summit CO2 emission rates. During 2013, CO2 emission rates remained at the relatively low level measured since approximately 2009 (figure 225). The continued absence of a strong CO2 signature in 2013 confirmed that the current summit activity reflects shallow reservoir processes rather than deeper ones. All CO2 measurements in 2013 were made with the Licor LI-6252 gas analyzer.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 225. Daily average CO2 emissions from the summit of Kilauea, as measured under trade-wind conditions, during 2003-2013. The vertical bars represent standard deviations of all traverses on a single day. The cyan symbols show CO2, calculated using filtered data to more confidently bracket CO2 emission rates. The black squares are raw CO2 area-count averages; these values provide a measure of CO2 independently of the C/S ratio and SO2 emission rates by accounting for the area traversed through the plume and integrating that area by gas concentration magnitudes (this method also takes into account the plume direction and speed). CO2 values were calculated without any correction to underestimated SO2 emission rates. Courtesy of HVO.

Quantifying summit and rift plume characteristics. In addition to emission-rate studies, HVO continued to monitor the summit and rift plumes using a variety of techniques, including multi-species sensor-based time-series measurements and open-path FTIR. In 2013, FTIR measurements of the summit plume reconfirmed the shallow nature of the degassing source, with plume chemistry characterized by low CO2, high SO2, high H2O, and significant HCl and HF (table 10). Measurements of the summit and rift plumes yielded similar chemistry, suggesting a common source for these gases. Also reconfirmed in 2013 were the previously observed short-term changes in gas chemistry correlating with behavior in Overlook crater.

Table 10. The composition of Kilauea's summit plume for 2013 reported in moles and mole%. Courtesy of HVO.

Gas species moles mole%
H2O 1,117.98 88.23
SO2 81.46 6.43
CO2 64.69 5.11
HCl 1 0.08
HF 1.17 0.09
CO 0.84 0.07
total moles 1,267.14 100

Gas hazards. In 2013, the maximum ambient concentration of SO2 measured near the summit along Crater Rim Drive during traverses made with a car was 150 ppm, a value well above the IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health) threshold. Concentrations measured inside the vehicle reached a maximum of 12 ppm. The inside-car levels were measured with all air-handling turned off, the operating conditions that minimize SO2 penetration into the vehicle. Fumarole sampling at the two locations on the rim of Halema'uma'u were subsequently paused during 2013 while shifting to alternative, less-hazardous measurement techniques.

HVO continued to operate the low-resolution SO2 sensor and rain collector network on Kapapala Ranch in 2013 (within 23 km SW of the summit). In general, maximum SO2 concentrations on the Ranch in 2013 were lower than in 2012. During the early years of the activity at the Overlook vent, the Ranch's livestock exhibited runny eyes, respiratory issues, weight loss, and tooth mottling and degradation (possibly indicating fluorosis). Additionally, fences and other metal infrastructure on the ranch had been deteriorating more rapidly than before the summit eruption began. New data showed SO2 one-minute values for 2013 (a single, one-second measurement per minute) up to 4 ppm. Hazard monitoring and communication with the ranch operators, veterinarians, and public health officials remained ongoing.

Ambient SO2 concentrations measured downwind of Halema'uma'u continued to reach very high levels (~150 ppm) along Crater Rim Drive near the Halema'uma'u parking lot, warranting continued caution along Crater Rim Drive in 2013. HVO scientists maintained communications with community groups and county, state, and federal agencies in order to relay the changing gas-hazard conditions associated with Kilauea's ongoing eruptions.

In 2013, the National Park Service's (NPS) ambient air quality stations located at HVO and behind the Kilauea Visitor Center continued to record periods of hazardous air quality resulting from the ongoing eruptions. The National Park continued to close the highly impacted areas of the park during poor air-quality episodes. Closing of park locations, including Kilauea Visitor Center and Jaggar Museum, were based on the following criteria: a Visitor Center is closed when SO2 concentrations exceed 1 ppm for 6 consecutive 15-minute periods (1.5 hrs), 3 ppm for 3 consecutive 15-minute averages (45 minutes), or 5 ppm for one 15-minute average. NPS high-resolution SO2 analyzers located at the visitor centers operated in the extended 0-10 ppm range.

Flank deformation. The variable-rate inflation of Kilauea that has been ongoing since 2010 continued through 2013. There were periods of slight deflation in March-May, late May, July-August, and September and November. The saw-tooth pattern created by the alternating inflation and deflation is most obvious in the distance change across the Halema'uma'u crater, but can also be seen in the tilt record at summit tiltmeters, such as at station UWE and subtly in the vertical changes at summit GPS sites (figure 226).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 226. (A) Radial tilt measured by borehole instruments at the summit (UWE) and at Pu'u 'O'o (POC) in 2013. Positive change indicating tilt away from the most common magmatic sources, usually indicating inflation, and negative change indicating tilt towards those sources, usually indicating deflation. (B) Changes in distance across Halema'uma'u (UWEV-CRIM) and elevation of GPS stations (HOVL V and OUTL V) from July 2012 through July 2013. Courtesy of HVO.

During 2013, there was a total of almost 10 cm of extension on the approximately 3.5-km baseline between UWEV and CRIM (figure 226 B) and about 10 microradians of inflationary tilt at UWE (figure 226 A). There was very little accumulated vertical change at the summit GPS sites over the year, however. This was also reflected in the lack of appreciable line-of-sight displacement in the interferograms from INSAR spanning 2013. There were 65 deflation-inflation (DI) events in 2013, similar to the rate of occurrence observed since the opening of the summit vent in 2008. Most of these were only weakly detected by the POC tiltmeter at Pu'u 'O'o.

At Pu'u 'O'o, the GPS site on the N rim (PUOC), recorded a fairly steady, slow rate of N-NW motion in 2013, with a slight acceleration in late April-early May. The direction of motion is usually indicative of inflation, but there was no appreciable uplift at the site. There was a net tilt of about 20 microradians to the NW at POC on the N flank, also usually indicative of inflation.

The pattern and velocity of GPS sites on the S flank of Kilauea in 2013 were similar to the patterns and rates that have been observed in the recent past during times free of slow-slip events and ERZ intrusions.

Deformation monitoring equipment. Two continuous GPS sites (LEIA and SPIL) were lost to lava flows from Pu'u 'O'o in early 2013. After a data outage at the Malama Ki (MKI) tilt site on the lower ERZ in April, HVO discovered that thieves had dismantled the gate to the security enclosure and stolen everything except the actual tiltmeter. This had been part of a string of thefts at this site, forcing HVO to eventually abandon it. This was an unfortunate loss to the monitoring network, especially because the only other tiltmeter station on the lower ERZ, near Heiheiahulu (HEI) had also been stolen late during the previous year. In July, HVO installed a new tiltmeter in a less accessible location a few kilometers NW of Heiheiahulu.

Seismicity. In 2013, HVO's seismic network consisted of 57 real-time continuous stations (25 broadband, 21 strong-motion, 7 three-component short-period, and 25 vertical-component short-period instruments) (figure 227). The network coverage was most dense on and around Kilauea. In 2013, HVO upgraded of the seismic network which involved installing the digital stations NAHU (to replace the analog station ESR) and TOUO (to replace analog station KII). They also established three arrays of infrasound sensors in order to better track acoustical waves in the air (infrasound) associated with volcanic processes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 227. (top) Authoritative region of HVO (black line). Red triangles represent permanent, continuous seismic stations and Netquakes instruments, a new type of digital seismograph that transmits data to USGS via the internet after an earthquake. Stations from the National Strong-Motion Program (NSMP) are excluded here because their high triggering threshold means that they produce data for only a handful of earthquakes a year. (bottom) Map showing both HVO stations (red triangles) and Netquakes (blue triangles). Two boxes indicate regions of special interest for seismic monitoring. Netquakes instruments enable the USGS to achieve a "denser and more uniform spacing of seismographs in select urban areas. … The instruments are designed to be installed in private homes, businesses, public buildings and schools" (USGS, 2013a). Courtesy of HVO.

Seismic activity at Kilauea was generally low in 2013 compared to that of other time periods since the 2008 start of the summit eruption (figure 228). Tremor was a ubiquitous feature of the seismicity near the summit, with discrete very-long-period (VLP) and long-period (LP) events occurring sporadically. Tremor amplitudes appeared to modulate in conjunction with the presence or absence of spattering in the lava lake within Halema'uma'u. In general, increased seismicity in the S caldera and upper ERZ were coincident with rapid increased lava lake level and tilt. None of these swarms were remarkable in number or size compared to previous swarms, especially those in 2011 and 2012.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 228. (A) January-December 2013 earthquake locations, Hawai'i Island, 0-60 km deep, M ≥ 3.0. Earthquake colors are based on depth. The symbol size of the earthquake is based on the preferred magnitude. All plotted earthquakes have been reviewed by an analyst. (B) January-December 2013 earthquake locations, Hawai'i Island, 0-5.0 km deep (shallow), M ≥ 2.0. Earthquake colors are based on time. Symbol sizes are based on the magnitude. Plotted events include both reviewed and automatically determined locations that have horizontal errors < 2 km and vertical errors < 4 km. Courtesy of HVO.

New interactive earthquake webpage launched. In October 2013, HVO launched a new interactive earthquake webpage, informally called Volcweb (USGS, 2013b). The new website used several new technologies that provided a better user-experience and a better compatibility with mobile devices. In addition to providing earthquake location information, the site also creates cross-sections, time-depth plots, cumulative number of earthquake plots, and cumulative magnitude plots for data up to a year old. Webicorders for all stations were available (updated every 10 minutes). The rollout of this website allowed HVO to retire the old "Recent Earthquakes" page.

References. Patrick, M., Orr, T., Sutton, A.J., Elias, T., and Swanson, D., 2013, The first five years of Kilauea's summit eruption in Halema'uma'u crater, 2008-2013. Hawai`i National Park, HI: U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Fact Sheet 2013-3116.

Patrick, M.R., Orr, T., Antolik, L., Lee, L., and Kamibayashi, K., 2014, Continuous monitoring of Hawaiian volcanoes with thermal cameras, Journal of Applied Volcanology, 3:1.

Roeder, P.L., Thornber, C., Poustovetov, A., and Grant, A., 2003, Morphology and composition of spinel in Pu'u 'O'o lava (1996-1998), Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 123, 245-265.

USGS, 2013a (January). Earthquake Hazards Program, Netquakes: Map of Instruments. Retrieved from http://earthquake.usgs.gov/monitoring/netquakes/map/.

USGS, 2013b (December). Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Recent Earthquakes in Hawaii. Retrieved from http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/earthquakes/new.

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: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/); Hawai`i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) 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/); Hawaii 24/7 (URL: http://www.hawaii247.com); Great ShakeOut (URL: http://shakeout.org/hawaii/); and West Hawaii Today (URL: http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/).

Nabro (Eritrea) — May 2014 Citation iconCite this Report



13.37°N, 41.7°E; summit elev. 2218 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Thermal alerts ended mid-2012; revised 2011 plume heights; uplift mechanisms debated

This report shows satellite thermal alerts from the MODVOLC system showing that they continued for 7 months after the end of coverage in our one report on Nabro's June 2011 eruption (BGVN 36:09), with the last alert occurring on 3 June 2012.

What has emerged regarding the 2011 Nabro eruption since our one previous report is a much more detailed eruptive timeline and some substantially taller plume-height estimates. These new and more carefully assessed details came out in at least eight papers and three technical comments (see References below).

The initial Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Center estimates cited in BGVN 36:09 were made in the time-limited operational setting that identifies volcanic ash for aviation safety. Those altitude estimates, which included maximum plume heights on 13 June 2011 in the range of 9.1-13.7 km altitude, have since been reassessed using an array of satellite and ground-based instruments and processing strategies. The revised heights in the subsequent papers often determined plume altitudes above the 16-18 km tropopause and into the stratosphere. Absent in our earlier report but well documented in the papers was evidence of a 16 June 2011 eruptive pulse.

Overall, Nabro erupted a total SO2 mass of at ~1.5 Tg (Clarisse and others, 2012), making the eruption the largest SO2 emitter of the 2002-2012 interval (Bourassa and others, 2013). The various papers and the technical comments have also framed debate on how and when Nabro's plume entered stratosphere.

Thermal alerts. This report does not contain any new in situ observations at Nabro. Table 1 shows MODVOLC thermal alerts during November 2011 and into 2012 on the basis of the number of days with alerts in these months. Those alerts stem from observations made with the MODIS instrument that flies on the Terra and Aqua satellites. Our previous report discussed alerts as late as 5 November 2011, but additional alerts were issued later in the month. For this table, January 2012 was the month with the largest number of days with alerts, 15 days. As of late 2014, the last posted alert was issued on 3 June 2012.

Table 1. MODVOLC thermal alerts recorded for Nabro from November 2012 through September 2014. Courtesy of MODVOLC.

Month Number of days with alerts
November 2011 11
December 2011 08
January 2012 15
February 2012 12
March 2012 07
April 2012 11
May 2012 11
June 2012 01

Although the earlier alerts may signify ongoing eruption, some of the later alerts could stem from ongoing post-eruptive thermal radiance from potentially thick lava flows. Absence of alerts could be the result of clouds masking the volcano, although that is unlikely significant in the terminal alert registered in June 2012. It also bears noting that the alerts are at a fairly high threshold.

References. Bourassa, AE, Robock, A, Randel, WJ, Deshler, T, Rieger, LA, Lloyd, ND, Llewellyn, EJ, and Degenstein, DA, 2012, Large Volcanic Aerosol Load in the Stratosphere Linked to Asian Monsoon Transport. Science 337 (6090):78-81. DOI: 10.1126/science.1219371.

Bourassa, AE, Robock, A, Randel, WJ, Deshler, T, Rieger, LA, Lloyd, ND, Llewellyn, EJ, and Degenstein, DA, 2013, Response to Comments on "Large volcanic aerosol load in the stratosphere linked to Asian Monsoon transport. Science, 339 (6120), 647, DOI: 10.1126/science.1227961.

Clarisse, L., P.-F. Coheur, N. Theys, D. Hurtmans, and C. Clerbaux, 2014, The 2011 Nabro eruption, a SO2 plume height analysis using IASI measurements, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 3095-3111,DOI:10.5194/acp-14-3095-2014.

Clarisse, L., Hurtmans, D., Clerbaux, C., Hadji-Lazaro, J., Ngadi, Y., & Coheur, P. F., 2012, Retrieval of sulphur dioxide from the infrared atmospheric sounding interferometer (IASI). Atmospheric Measurement Techniques Discussions, 4, 7241-7275 [13 March 2012; revised from 2011 version] www.atmos-meas-tech.net/5/581/2012/; DOI:10.5194/amt-5-581-2012.

Fairlie, T. D., Vernier, J.-P., Natarajan, M., and Bedka, K. M., 2014, Dispersion of the Nabro volcanic plume and its relation to the Asian summer monsoon, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 7045-7057, DOI:10.5194/acp-14-7045-2014, 2014.

Fromm, M, Nedoluha, G, and Charvat, Z, 2013, Comment on "Large Volcanic Aerosol Load in the Stratosphere Linked to Asian Monsoon Transport." Science 339 (6120). DOI: 10.1126/science.1228605.

Fromm, M, Kablick, G (III), Nedoluha1, G., Carboni, E., Grainger, R., Campbell, J, and Lewis, J., 2014, Correcting the record of volcanic stratospheric aerosol impact: Nabro and Sarychev Peak, Journal of Geophysical Research. Atmospheres. [Early, online version, accessed August 2014] DOI: 10.1002/2014JD021507

Pan, LL, and Munchak, LA, 2011, Relationship of cloud top to the tropopause and jet structure from CALIPSO data. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (1984-2012) 116.D12 (2011).

Penning de Vries, M. J. M., Dörner, S., Pukite, J., Hörmann, C., Fromm, M. D., & Wagner, T. (2014). Characterisation of a stratospheric sulfate plume from the Nabro volcano using a combination of passive satellite measurements in nadir and limb geometry. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 14(15), 8149-8163.

Theys, N., Campion, R., Clarisse, L., Brenot, H., van Gent, J., Dils, B., Corradini, S., Merucci, L., Coheur, P.-F., Van Roozendael, M., Hurtmans, D., Clerbaux, C., Tait, S., and Ferrucci, F.: Volcanic SO2 fluxes derived from satellite data: a survey using OMI, GOME-2, IASI and MODIS, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 5945-5968, doi:10.5194/acp-13-5945-2013, 2013.

Vernier, JP, Thomason, LW, Fairlie, TD, Minnis, P., Palikonda, R, and Bedka, K M, 2013. Comment on "Large Volcanic Aerosol Load in the Stratosphere Linked to Asian Monsoon Transport." Science 339 (6120). DOI: 10.1126/science.1227817.

Geologic Background. The Nabro stratovolcano is the highest volcano in the Danakil depression of northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, at the SE end of the Danakil Alps. Nabro, along with Mallahle, Asavyo, and Sork Ale volcanoes, collectively comprise the Bidu volcanic complex SW of Dubbi volcano. This complex stratovolcano constructed primarily of trachytic lava flows and pyroclastics, is truncated by nested calderas 8 and 5 km in diameter. The larger caldera is widely breached to the SW. Rhyolitic obsidian domes and basaltic lava flows were erupted inside the caldera and on its flanks. Some very recent lava flows were erupted from NNW-trending fissures transverse to the trend of the volcanic range.

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 (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); and Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) (URL: http://www.meteo.fr/vaac/).

Pacaya (Guatemala) — May 2014 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Sudden, bomb-laden explosions of 27-28 May 2010; extra-crater lava flows

Pacaya, which in recent years has consistently erupted olivine-bearing high alumina basaltic lavas, erupted with remarkable violence on both 27 and 28 May 2010 with an explosion on the 27th lasting ~45 minutes. This was followed by a smaller explosion the next day that generated a plume assessed from satellite and meteorological data as reaching 13 km altitude. In this report we describe those events as explosions in order to distinguish them from the ongoing, decades-long, and often effusive eruption generally seen at Pacaya. The terms 'explosion' and 'explosive' appear warranted given such factors as the suddenness of escalation, the ~13 km plume altitude (~10 km over the summit when measured during the weaker explosion on the 28th, the density of projectiles, and the scale of the tephra fall. The term explosion seems consistent with common practice (Sparks, 1986; Fiske and others, 2009).

The following report emphasizes Pacaya's behavior in 2010, including the 27 and 28 May explosions and impacts continuing into early June 2010. Our last report (BGVN 34:12) discussed behavior into mid-January 2010. Some of the reporting came from reports of Guatemalan agencies (eg. INSIVUMEH and CONRED, acronyms spelled out in the Information contacts section at bottom), newspapers (eg. Prense Libra, 2010a, b), videos and photos, and cited manuscripts and papers. It especially benefited from a draft manuscript prepared by Rüdiger Escobar Wolf (REW, 2014) and graciously provided to Bulletin editors. REW also provided reviews, insights, and numerous tailored graphics but bears no responsibility for possible errors induced by Bulletin editors.

The explosions were preceded months to weeks earlier by extra-crater venting of lava flows on the E and SE flanks. The lava flows covered substantial areas after emerging effusively at two widely spaced vents in atypical extra-crater or crater-margin locations.

Subsections address the following topics: (1) the Guatemalan hazard agency CONRED's reports, (2) a sample of available video and photo documentation of Pacaya's behavior, (3) events prior to the 27 May explosion, (4) the explosions and some of the impacts, (5) the seismic record showing the pattern of escalation around the time of the explosions, (6) a brief summary of the critical initial aviation reports, and (7) a geotechnical slope stability study that suggests gravitational instability at Pacaya, particularly owing to the cone's magma pressure and seismic loading.

Pacaya , which has a record of eruptions dating back over 1,600 years, has been erupting the majority of the time since 1961, often emitting rough-surfaced lavas but also occasionally discharging explosions. The centerpiece of the National Park of the same name, it is the most often climbed volcano in Guatemala. There have been 69 prior Smithsonian-published reports describing behavior from 1969 to early January 2010 (CSLP 03-70 to BGVN 34:12). REW (2013) ranked the 27 May explosions as sub-plinean and the associated lava emissions as the largest since similar events in 1961.

Figure 42 shows two simplified regional maps of Guatemala and neighboring countries including Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. (Top) A map showing Pacaya's location in Central America. (Bottom) A map emphasizing Pacaya's location with respect to the central portion of Guatemala City (red square labeled 'Guatemala'). The larger combined urban area associated with that Capital city stretches well beyond the square symbol and contains ~3.5 million residents. AmatitlÁn was heavily damaged by Pacaya's May 2010 ashfall and the knock-on effects of Tropical Storm Agnes that arrived two days later. Top map taken from Morgan and others (2012); bottom map revised from a base map found online at Ezilon Maps.

The larger tephra blanket spread N, covering an area of more than 1,000 km2 including the bulk of the Guatemala City metropolitan area, the largest city in Central America, population ~3.5 million. The City's center lies ~25 km NNE of Pacaya's summit but a 5-km-wide strip of urban and suburban development now stretches from its older core (red square, figure 42)to ~9 km N of the summit. The tephra shut down La Aurora, the county's primary international airport and among the region's busiest, for 5 consecutive days.

The 27 May 2010 explosion destroyed or damaged nearly 800 houses in nearby communities, forcing ~2,000 residents to evacuate and injuring 59 people. A high density of ballistics fell on nearby hamlets and villages, particularly those 2.5-3.5 km N of the MacKenny cone (El Cedro, San Francisco de Sales, and Calderas). The ballistics had sufficient mass and velocity to puncture roofs with a density on the order of one puncture per square meter in some places. Many more smaller ballistics bent but did not penetrate the corrugated sheet metal roofs common in many of the region's dwellings. Some of the ballistics were sufficiently hot to start fires.

Ash caused widespread damage locally, and up to ~8 cm of ash fell on parts of metropolitan Guatemala City, the nation's capital, centered ~35 km NNW of Pacaya. Up to 20 cm of tephra accumulated at and near Pacaya. According to available census data, the population within 10 km of Pacaya was 57,000 (John Ewert, USGS-CVO, personal communication).

Accounts from Guatemalan meteorological stations reported that detectable ash from the 2010 explosions fell as far away as the Caribbean coast. Brianna Hetland was both a graduate student in volcanology and a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala during 2010-2012. Hetland noted in a message that she had spoken with another Volunteer who said ash had blanketed his neighborhood near Coban (in Samac, Alta Verapaz) ~180 m N of Pacaya (figure 42, bottom). Hetland documented post-eruptive conditions at Pacaya, composed a blog on the impact and clean up, and gave a talk on those aspects as well as multifaceted monitoring conducted by fellow students and faculty at Michigan Technological University (Hetland, 2012a, b; Walikainen, 2010).

Some of the impacts of the freshly fallen ash were amplified and other impacts were diminished by heavy rains and flooding due to Tropical Storm Agatha that struck the region 2 days later, with some areas receiving 0.9 m of rain. The floodwater run carried ash that dislodged debris, clogged drainage systems, left thick deposits on valley floors, and damaged many bridges. The scale of the combined disasters led to more analysis of hardships, mitigation, and economic impact than usual at many eruptions, as exemplified by the detailed assessments by Wardman and others (2012). Those authors visited in the aftermath from New Zealand in order to study impacts that might be analogous to hazards elsewhere. They found that one moderating impact of the rain was to cee crops, which were washed clean of ash and residual acids. The authors also found that that a prompt and efficient cleanup was initiated by the Capital municipality to remove tephra from the 2,100 km of roads in the Capital. An estimated 11,350,000 m3 of tephra was removed from the city's roads and rooftops.

Diminishing strombolian activity and lava flows in the crater area continued into at least late June 2010. By this time the emissions had become more like the generally effusive decades-long eruption, which was still ongoing when this was written in late 2014. In addition to the information here, Pacaya's discharge rates have been summarized for the years 2004-2010 on the basis of infrared satellite images (Morgan and others, 2013). As would be expected, a strong peak in radiance developed in late May 2010.

REW (2013) noted one death attributed to the explosion and tephra fall and 179 deaths attributed to the Tropical Storm. Two people died at Pacaya days prior to the explosion of 27 May 2010. Wardman and others (2013) mentioned two further deaths due to people cleaning tephra from roofs.

Geochemical analysis of material erupted on 27 and 28 May is not yet reported. As background, Matías and others (2012) describe Pacaya's recent lavas as all high-alumina basalts with SiO2 contents of 50-52.5 weight percent and MgO contents of 3-5 weight percent. Common phynocrysts (visible minerals) included plagioclase, olivine, and opaque minerals (Conway, 1995). There is a slight variation of CaO in this group of lavas, which suggests a phenocryst enrichment or depletion. The lava compositions have remained broadly similar since 1961, and for many previous lavas as well, although some more felsic compositions are represented at older flank eruptions (Eggers, 1971).

CONRED reports. Perspective on the disaster can be gained from the chronology and content of announcements issued by CONRED (the Guatemalan agency for disaster reduction; Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres, table 4). These will be referred to in text by "CONRED" followed by their bulletin number.

Table 4. A summary of key CONRED information bulletins issued relevant to Pacaya's May 2010 eruption (http://conred.gob.gt/). After Escobar Wolf (2012) in addition to a similar table by Wardman and others (2012). Not all bulletins are included in this table.

Date CONRED Bulletin Summary
10 Feb 2010 564 Called attention to lavas emitted on the E to S flanks.
17 May 2010 708 Recommended the National Park restrict access to the lava flows.
26 May 2010 726 Eruptive activity increased during the day, generating plumes of 1 km above the vent that dispersed fine tephra onto neighboring villages. Recommended closing access to Park. Warned air traffic authorities about risks to aviation.
27 May 2010 729 Began to mobilize staff to villages near volcano around 1500 on the 27th, to discuss and implement pre-emptive evacuation. Seven shelters were prepared in San Vicente Pacaya to accommodate refugees. When the paroxysmal phase of eruption started (after 1900), evacuation of villages to the W (El Rodeo and El Patrocinio) was already underway, however, tephra and ballistics were dispersed primarily to the N and the villages of El Cedro, San Francisco de Sales and Calderas were the most severely affected.
28 May 2010 731 Declared Red Alert. As of 1239 on the 28th over 1600 people had been evacuated from the villages of San Francisco de Sales, El Rodeo, El Patrocinio, El Cedro, Calderas, and Caracolito. They moved to San Vicente Pacaya.
Civil Aviation authorities closed La Aurora International Airport due to tephra fall. The Ministry of Education closed schools in Escuintla, Sacatepequez and Guatemala departments. Access to the National Park remained restricted.
The municipality-level response agency (with a similar name, COMRED, not CONRED) was activated in Villa Canales. It set up shelters in the municipal auditorium, a church, and the municipal hall.
Advised citizens on managing the tephra fall.
28 May 2010 734 Thus far the eruption had injured 59 people, killed 1, and prompted the evacuation of nearly 2000.
08 May 2010 735 In the afternoon at 1424 on the 28th, high eruptive vigor resumed and tephra again fell on Guatemala City, but in much smaller quantities than during the previous day.
29 May 2010 748 By this time, a total of 2635 people were in shelters due to the eruption; ~400 houses had been slightly damaged and 375, severely damaged.
27 May 2011 1673 One year later; a retrospective summary of civil defense responses to the eruption and the larger engulfing disaster, tropical storm Agatha.

Events prior to the energetic 27 May explosion. Figure 43 highlights Pacaya's vent locations (1961 to 2009 vents as green dots), including the two new E and SE flank vents that emitted lava flows (red areas). Changes in eruption behavior preceded the 27-28 May explosions by several months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Simplified geological map of Pacaya, based on cited references, INSIVUMEH mapping, and GOES satellite data. The key at right calls attention to features such as the collapse scarp forming the N and E of margin of the main crater and the lava flows of prehistoric age (Eggers, 1969, 1972; Bonis, 1993) through about mid-2010. Migrating vents mapped during 1961-2012 (Matías, 2010; Rose and others, 2012) appear as dark-green dots (many clustered on or near the MacKenney cone's summit). The red areas on the SE flank and E flank represent lava with the noted age constraints from REW's analysis of satellite data. The SE flank vent had emitted by mid-2010 a field of lava approaching the size of the 1961 Cachiajinas lava flow (purple). The latter flow both vented and advanced within Pacaya's collapse scarp. In contrast, the SE flank flow was the first in historical times to vent and flow outboard of the scarp. The cone residing on Pacaya's NW rim, Cerro Chino, enters discussion frequently in this report. Note the depression (notch or trough) here labeled "New fissure like structure." Map created and provided by REW.

From 2004 to around the end of 2009, Pacaya's eruptive intensity was often low. A clear sign of changes took place in February 2010 when lava flows emerged at vents on the S and SE flanks (table 4). These vents sit well outboard of the usual points of lava emission, which have in recent decades been limited to spots within the central crater, an area bounded by a large engulfing collapse scarp (a Somma rim; Eggers, 1969; figure 43). The two previously mentioned deaths occurred on 18 April when, according to the news, they were hit by a rock avalanched caused by an explosion. By 17 May, SE flank lava flows had reached 1.5 km long and the Park began restricting access (table 1). The scene on the SE flank appears in figure 44.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Pacaya's SE flank eruption as seen during the day on 27 May 2010. The ultimate distribution of lavas appears on the preliminary map by REW (2014). Image courtesy of Gustavo Chigna (INSIVUMEH).

Earlier on the 27th (prior to the explosion), INSIVUMEH volcanologist Gustavo Chigna looked out over the crater area and counted at least 16 distinct vents emitting lava. Chigna was surprised, and his comment was something like 'It looked like water gushing out of a sieve.' That scale of new extrusive sites helped alert authorities that the volcano's behavior had escalated well beyond the norm and led to restricting public access to Pacaya.

During the 5 years prior to the 27 May 2010 explosion, sporadic vent openings limited to the MacKenney cone and adjacent areas (particularly the N crater) extruded lava flows (green dots, figure 43). Many of the resulting lava flows were each only active for periods of days to months. INSIVUMEH sometimes reported multiple simultaneous lava flows from distinct vents on the cone, which occurred, for example, during April 2009. Most of the lava was confined to the main crater or portions downslope and W of the E-bounding collapse scarp. The case in 2005 illustrated that the topographic boundary associated with the NE segment of the collapse scarp had diminished in places to the point where lava flows could cross the scarp (BGVN 33:08).

Around January 2010, Gustavo Chigna (INSIVUMEH) indicted the end of mainly lower effusive activity ongoing since 2004. The new upsurge fed several lava flows from vents on Pacaya's main cone. In harmony with this comment, the video by Crossman (2009) indicates that on 24 December 2009 the volcano emitted considerable lava. Venting was effusive and at both the MacKenney cone's summit and base. Visible plumes were nearly absent.

Table 5 lists a small sample of available videos taken at Pacaya that aid in documenting its behavior. The table includes videos taken before, during, or shortly after the 27 May explosion, with the two pre-explosion videos capturing behavior relevant to this subsection. The videos from other parts of the table are discussed in appropriate sections below.

Table 5. Some photos and videos that advance understanding of Pacaya behavior during December 2009 to about 2 June 2010 (a week after the explosion). The cases presented are a sample, not an exhaustive list. Compiled by Bulletin editors.

Video (V) or Photo (P) and source Date acquired / Date posted if clearly stated)

Title; Content; URL

How cited in text of this report
V; Patrick R. Crossman 24 Dec 2009 / 24 Dec 2011 Title: 'Hiking the Pacaya volcano in Guatemala'
This video chronicles a group visiting Pacaya amid ongoing effusive volcanism in comparatively calm conditions and with people in many scenes. Some parts of the video depict a narrow (1- to 2-m wide), channelized, slowly moving lava flow. That flow appears to vent near the base of the MacKenney cone, devoid of visible plume, and traverses a region of low incline. The path of the molten flow is sinuous rather than linear. The visitors roast marshmallows in radiant heat from the flows. The video also cuts to scenes at the MacKenney cone's summit, where a larger flow several meters wide vents in a stable, effusive manner, also devoid of an associated plume.
Cited in text as Crossman, 2011
V & P; H. Paul Moon (Zen Violence Films, LLC) 01 April 2010 / 24 April. [Date confirmed with Moon and by comparison to his dated still photos] Title: 'Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala [1080p HD]'
Close up views showing copious lava flowing down the E flank from the new vent there. Accompanies GPS record of hiking track and still photos. Music accompanies the video. Dovetails with a Landsat image from about a week earlier, which also documents the E flank lavas. See text for more discussion.
Associated link shows GPS path on a satellite image.
Cited in text as Moon, 2010
V; RT news channel (original authorship not provided) -- / 28 May 2010 Title: 'Video of Guatemala Pacaya volcano eruption'
Compact, powerful strombolian explosions throwing molten ejecta vertically from multiple vents, or an elongate vent such as a fissure in Pacaya's crater (see photo below in figure 52).
Cited in text as RT News, 2010a
V; RT news channel (original authorship not provided) --/ 30 May 2010 Title: 'Raw video of damage caused by volcano eruptions in Guatemala and Ecuador'
The video shows, for Pacaya, images of advancing lava flows and some distant views of the volcano in daylight with a moderate plume above it. There are many scenes of damage, evacuation, and human impact, including ash-loaded corrugated metal roofs that buckled; ash on airliners; brigades of people sweeping and carting off ash from city streets and an airport runway; and children sheltering in a relief center.
Cited in text as RT News, 2010b
P; Boston.com 27-31 May / 2 June 2010 Title: 'A Rough Week for Guatemala' (in The Big Picture—News Stories in Photographs)
"In just the past seven days, residents of Guatemala and parts of neighboring Honduras and El Salvador have had to cope with a volcanic eruption and ash fall, a powerful tropical storm, the resulting floods and landslides, and a frightening sinkhole in Guatemala City that swallowed up a small building and an intersection. Pacaya volcano started erupting lava and rocks on May 27th, blanketing Guatemala City with ash, closing the airport, and killing one television reporter who was near the eruption. Two days later, as Guatemalans worked to clear the ash, Tropical Storm Agatha made landfall bringing heavy rains that washed away bridges, filled some villages with mud, and somehow triggered the giant sinkhole--the exact cause is still being studied. (34 photos total)."
(URL: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/06/a_rough_week_for_guatemala.html)
Cited in text as Boston.com, 2010
V; Tropical-rambler (clear authorship not provided) 31 May 2010 / 31 May 2010 Title: 'Erupción Volcán de Pacaya - Pacaya volcano Eruption'
Helicopter views of flight generally towards, and then at, Pacaya, which was still in eruption, with initial views showing Agua volcano and parts of Lake Amatitlán. Low weather clouds covered extensive areas. This video captured a decidedly non-vertical, denser black plume from Pacaya feeding a lighter, tan colored more massive plume that appears to drop ash as it is carried to tens of kilometers downwind (directed E-SE-S). Shots include those of Cerro Chino and antenna towers there, and widespread steaming on the MacKenney cone that coalesced into large steam clouds low over much of the central crater area.
Cited in text as Author unknown, 2010
V; Prensa Libre.com (wwprensalibrecom) About 2-3 June 2010/ 10 June 2010 Title: 'Espectacular erupción en el Pacaya'
(Narration by news reporter referring to explosion as 1 week ago, thus the 'About 2-3 June' date in the previous column.) According to REW, this video shows lavas emitted at the new SE flank vent. Remarkable images, some seemingly shot from helicopter and others from the ground, showing copious channelized lava flows moving rapidly downslope to the SE. At the vent area there are three small vents discharging spatter from coalescing cones with very steep sides. Their glowing summit craters gave off occasional eruptions as well as occasional puffs of gases, glowing spatter, and possibly flames. Some shots show incandescent lava flows several kilometers long. Rising plumes sometimes display toroidal motion, rotational behavior reminiscent of dust devils.
Cited in text as Prensa Libre, 2010

Figure 45 shows one of several Landsat views of the E flank in an infrared image acquired on 23 March 2010. It showed high thermal radiance in a narrow linear thermal anomaly headed E outboard of the usual eruptions confined to the crater. The E-flank area is devoid of vegetation, which rules out a local fire there, meaning that the anomaly was due to a lava flow. The number of clear (cloud-free) views of Pacaya available during March through June was limited. REW plotted this anomaly in a KMZ file format (red line, figure 46).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. A Landsat 7 thermal image of Pacaya on 23 March 2010 showing high heat flux as red. The small red area is on the MacKenney cone. The larger red area is a lava flow that had extended E. A site visit and video by Moon (2010) on 1 April (8 days later) confirmed lava flows on the order of 2-4 m wide. Black and marginal gray areas are older lava flows; green areas are vegetated with some cultivated or pasture land in shades of brown. This image contains artifacts in the form of gray diagonal stripes. The stripes are due to the failure of the Scan Line Corrector (SLC), which compensates for the satellite's forward motion. Courtesy of REW.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. A Google Earth view of the land surface looking radially outward (E) down Pacaya's E flank (N is to the left). The red line indicates the location of the lava flow axis from heat flux in Landsat images. The flow's source was at or very near the collapse scarp. The yellow line indicates the film crew's 1 April 2010 excursion route recorded with GPS as they approached the lava flow, filmed it at close range, and then headed back towards the trailhead (Moon, 2010). For scale, the lava flow is ~0.3 km long. Graphic files, analysis, and compilation created and provided by REW.

The new E flank (extra-crater) lava flow documented by Landsat on 23 March was the subject of a video by Moon (2010) taken on 1 April (table 4; see their excursion route on figure 46). The footage was shot during daylight hours at high resolution [1080p HD] and later processed to obtain vibrant red, orange, and yellow colors. The discharges were effusive and few visible emission clouds accompanied the lava flows seen in the video. A dark plume remained above the MacKenney cone's summit.

As seen in figures 47-50, the lava documented by Moon (2010) in photo and video was several meters wide and passing over irregular terrain. As seen from a distance (e.g. figure 47), some sectors of the flows channel stood well above the surrounding landscape. In the area visited, the lava remained confined behind jumbled but effective levees as it passed through and over the a'a' (rough textured) flow field.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. A 1 April 2010 photo of Pacaya's E flank lava flow seen in the distance as it descends across an a'a flow field. Courtesy of H. Paul Moon (see table 5).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Pacaya's E-flank lava flow on 1 April 2010 upon closer approach than previous f. After watching the video Moon (2010), REW commented that the flow looked like "a typical channel-levee aa flow developed on a steep slope." Courtesy of H. Paul Moon (see table 5).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49.. Pacaya's E-flank lava flow on 1 April 2010 upon closer approach than previous f. For scale, note exposed portion of ~1.4 m long hiking stick in right foreground. Courtesy of H. Paul Moon (see table 5).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. A still closer view of Pacaya's E-flank lava (taken from just a few meters away), which was moving swiftly. In his YouTube notes on his teams 1 April 2010 visit Moon commented that "the heat was so intense that I could only hold out for brief shots, needing to turn away regularly to avoid getting scorched." Courtesy of H. Paul Moon (see table 5).

Figure 51 maps the inferred E flank lava flow axis and SE flank fissures on an oblique Google Earth view.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. An oblique Google Earth view of Pacaya looking roughly WNW. At left in orange appear the upslope areas of the fissures that fed the SE flank lava flows. Farther NE (to the right) appear another set of fresh black lavas that reside on the upper E flank. The green line traces high heat emissions REW found in Landsat imagery from 23 March 2010, the same lava flow that had been the subject of Moon's video ~8 days later. Both sets of flows and vents were the first clearly documented to extend E of the collapse scarp in historical times. Analysis, compilation, and topographic files all provided by REW.

On 18 April 2010, according to a news report in the newspaper Prensa Libre, a Venezuelan tourist and her Guatemalan guide died on Pacaya. The news report stated the deceased were in the area of high risk when struck by material released from an explosion. Some of the other 14 people on the scene sustained injuries.

On 17 May 2010, observers saw abundant lava escaping from a new SE-flank vent (CONRED 708). A mound had formed at the vent area. The lava from this vent had by 17 May extended as far as 1.5 km. As seen on figure 43, the SE flank lava flows and their fissures ultimately fed lava flows trending roughly S for ~2.5 km then turning sharply (~90 degrees) to the W and extending in that direction another ~2.5 km.

CONRED 708 made a recommendation to the Pacaya National Park authority to restrict visitor access to the lava flows. The 17 May report noted that Pacaya's activity was considered to be relatively high, but it left out language suggesting a crisis at this point. According to the press, access to the volcano was restricted following the recommendation.

On 17 May, the newspaper Prensa Libre featured an undated night photo of the MacKenney cone taken from the N, presumably of this stage of Pacaya's eruption. It showed a dense spray of glowing material thrown from the MacKenney cone's summit and rising hundreds of meters. The cone's N rim contained a recently formed V-shaped notch (or trough). Out of that notch poured a broad lava flow. Several hundred meters down the MacKenney cone's N face, the broad flow split into two flows descending the cone's steep face on diverging paths. The notch in the cone stands out as a clear morphologic change associated with this time interval (~10 days prior to the 27 May explosion), and as will be seen below, it served as a conspicuous vent site for the fissure emissions documented during the explosions.

The day before the explosion, on 26 May, eruptive and seismic intensity both increased markedly. An eruptive plume reached 1 km above the vent and fine tephra fell on villages around the volcano (CONRED 726 on 26 May, table 4). CONRED recommended fully closing Pacaya National Park, and they warned aviation authorities of airborne ash near Pacaya. No call was yet made to evacuate residents living adjacent Pacaya.

Vigorous explosions starting 27 May 2010. Pacaya's eruptive vigor increased to the point of strong strombolian eruption, with the initial increase noted on the 27th in a morning report in Prensa Libre. More intense explosions occurred at around 1500 when observers noted explosions discharging about once per second and saw glowing material thrown ~1.5 km above the crater, and taller rising dark clouds carrying finer tephra that dispersed over nearby villages.

The exact start time of the intense 27 May explosion is variously reported, but available visual observations suggested to REW (2014) that it was during the interval 1800-1900. CONRED 729 indicated the climax (the explosion)began at 1900. Seismic data, discussed in a subsection below underwent the highest (RSAM) amplitudes during 1730-1830 local time on the 27th. Aviation reporting of satellite data on eruptive plumes, discussed in a subsection below, was initially ineffectual for the 27th owing to above-lying weather clouds.

What is clear is that the explosion late in the day on the 27th drove forth intense fire fountaining and vigorous ejection of tephra and ballistics.

Figure 52 shows a broad fire fountain frame taken from a Youtube video posted on 28 May—but it lacked an acquisition date (RT news channel, 2010a). REW interprets this video as taken during the major climax (explosion) during the night on the 27th. The eruption was clearly of fissure style at this point but the upper extent of the glowing material was possibly masked by ash clouds. Some of the textures within the glowing region are explained in the f caption and in the text below.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. A frame captured from a news video taken at night from Pacaya's NNW side documenting powerful curtain-style emissions (fire fountains) from the main crater area (which includes the MacKenney cone). The foreground consists of the dark silhouette of Cerro Chino (indicated on figure 43). Some of the tall antenna towers there appear as narrow vertical dark streaks backlit by the brighter orange fire fountains. Many of the towers and radio shacks on the ground near their bases were destroyed. Taken from RT news (see table 5 (RT News, 2010 (a)).

REW described the video source for figure 52 as taken looking at Cerro Chino (indicated on figure 43) from at or near the town of El Cedro, ~3 km to the NNW of the vent. The diffuse zones of near darkness in the midst of the fountains are rising ash clouds locally diminishing the glow. Thus it is clear from the dynamics seen on the video, that the glow of higher reaching clasts in the upper portions of this image could possibly be masked by dense ash plumes.

On the video, the orange streaks from glowing airborne pyroclasts track to points below that suggest emission from multiple vents or an elongate vent with continuous extent, rather than a single point source, a topic returned to below in the context of an elongate trough developed on the MacKenney cone. That said, REW points out that it is hard to get a good idea of the scale from this video and that videos taken from other locations seem to show a wider, and at times two different fountain jets. Available video and photographic data has thus far prohibited estimating the width of the fountain at this stage of the eruption. REW (2013) citing Hetland (personal communication) and CONRED 856 noted that associated with these emissions the major tephra fall began, and it soon spread tens of kilometers to the N.

Early in the explosion on the 27th (exact timing unknown), a news team from a national television station (Notisiete) endured a shower of ballistics. REW (2013) noted that they were in the vicinity of Cerro Chino at probably less than 1 km from the vent, the zone with critical infrastructure most impacted (figure 53). Although most of the news team survived, reporter Anibal Archila's death was apparently the result of direct impact from a large ballistic. His was the only icially confirmed death caused by the strong explosive phase. During a subsequent eruptive lull, a rescue team spent several dangerous hours in very close proximity to the vent, finding and rescuing missing people, and carrying out Archila's body.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. A truck parked directly N of the Pacaya's active crater at Cerro Chino as seen in the aftermath of the 27-28 May explosions. Courtesy of Gustavo Chigna (INSIVUMEH).

Ballistics in excess of 0.5 m on their long axis fell at Cerro Chino and elsewhere within ~1 km of the vent area (figure 54). Some bombs on the ground reached sizes of 80 x 50 cm (Hetland personal communication) but part of that extent may have been due to splattering on impact. Farther away, the sizes of ballistics generally diminished with distance from the source. At Cerro Chino ballistic impacts broke concrete roofs, started fires in the radio shacks, and toppled antenna towers (REW, 2014; Wardman and others, 2010).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. An example of a large bomb found in the near-source region. Courtesy of Gustavo Chigna (INSIVMEH).

When the intense phase started on the 27th, the evacuation of villages to the W (El Rodeo and El Patrocinio) was already underway. During the hours after the explosion's onset on the 27th, more than 2,100 people were evacuated from the proximal villages to the town of San Vicente Pacaya (5 km NNW)(see related scenes in RT news, 2010 (b), table 4).

The settlements El Cedro, San Francisco de Sales, and Calderas, towns 2.5-3.5 km to the N, endured both ash as well as a dense barrage of hot ballistic bombs (figure 55). Many of the bombs were below 20 cm in diameter. Some of the ballistics pierced the corrugated (sheet metal or fiber cement) roofing common in Latin America. In some cases the ballistics also ignited fires that consumed most of the combustible contents of the buildings. Some roofs collapsed or buckled due to the load of deposited tephra.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Two photos taken soon after Pacaya's 27-28 May eruptions illustrate the density of projectile penetrations through roofs of two large buildings in San Francisco de Sales (~3 km N of the MacKenney cone). Taken from REW (2013) with photo credit to Hetland.

The ballistics examined were of low density owing to vesicles larger than 1 mm in diameter. They contained sparse phenocrysts (often larger than 1 mm), most likely plagioclase (Hetland personal communication to REW and Hetland (2010).

REW (2013) noted that, from the observed damage to roofs in these villages, the density per unit area of impacts that pierced through the corrugated roofs averaged as high as on the order of 1 per square meter. Portions of the roofs in near-vent settlements also sustained many dents from bombs that delivered impacts with lower force. Although some communities were partially evacuated when many of the ballistics arrived, REW (2013) concluded that some residents remained within the communities and regions mostly affected.

Reports in Prensa Libre give insights into the scene of the evacuation and the barrage. Many of the residents evacuated on foot following narrow paths across the rugged rural terrain. Other residents remained behind in order to protect their belongings from theft. When the barrage came, those too close used whatever hard and resistant objects they could find to protect themselves, including hiding under furniture and using pots and pans to protect their heads. Some corroded metal roofs were weak prior to the eruption. Some people found refuge in buildings with heavier, concrete-slab roofs, which generally fared better.

Figure 56 shows an individual who clearly received medical attention, stitches, for a laceration on his forehead. According to REW (2013), Pacaya's 2010 ballistic barrage caused more injuries than any recent eruptions. That said, data remain scanty on injuries rates and kinds, resultant disabilities, accident location, etc., although Wardman and others (2012) compiled some statistics.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Ballistic projectiles presented the most direct hazard from the 2010 explosions at Pacaya. This photo was found on the Boston Globe photo news site Boston.com (table 5). Their caption read, "A man shows the stitches he received after being injured by volcanic rock on the slopes of the Pacaya Volcano on May 28, 2010. (REUTERS/Daniel LeClair)." Courtesy of Boston.com.

The AmatitlÁn geothermal plant, located ~3 km N of the MacKenney cone to the N of San Francisco de Sales received ~20 cm of mostly lapilli-sized tephra. As Wardman and others (2012) noted, "Ballistic bombs and blocks also bombarded the plant, causing extensive damage to the plant's roof and condenser fans. Fan blades were dented, bent and also suffered damage from abrasion. Minor denting of the intake and outlet pipe cladding was also reported however these impacts were superficial and did not require repair." A photo showed cladding bearing multiple closely spaced dents on the side of a large pipe; the largest dent, 20 cm across, had ruptured through the sheet metal.

Post-explosion assessment of the MacKenney cone shed new light on the form and significance of the previously mentioned notch across it (a linear NW-trending trough passing through the summit, figure 57).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. An annotated photo viewing the N side of the MacKenney cone in calm conditions at an unstated date following the May 2010 explosions. The prominent trough included a deep segment that had developed on the cone's lower slopes (labeled 'Possible crater'). During the 27-28 May 2010 eruption the trough appears to have served as an active fissure or series of vents emitting fountains (see figure 52 and related discussion). Courtesy of REW with photo credit to Gustavo Chigna.

The notch formed a prominent depression aligned both with the new SE-flank fissures and Cerro Chino cone on the outer NW crater rim. Portions of the RT video footage taken during vigorous stages of explosion suggests that at a paroxysmal stage of the explosion the trough served as an eruptive fissure emitting a vertically directed fountain as a curtain (table 5). REW (2013) also suggested that the eruptive fissure along the trough may have served as the vent for the ballistics that fell in previously mentioned settlements to the N.

The explosions broadest areal impact came from tephra fall. Figure 58 shows a close up of ash from a sample collected 22 km from the vent. Overall, the grain sizes ranged from sub-millimeter to centimeter size. An abundance of fine suspended particles in the air were not reported during or following the tephra fall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Close up view looking at Pacaya tephra clasts collected in Guatemala City ~22 km NNE of the source. The smallest increments on ruler are in millimeters; the size range of grains here were mostly below ~ 3 mm diameter but grains under 0.2 mm were scarce to absent. The clasts consisted of black to dark brown vitric (crystal poor) scoria. Taken from REW (2013), who cited R. Cabria (personal communication).

As noted in table 4, in the afternoon on the 28th, high eruptive vigor resumed and tephra again fell on Guatemala City (CONRED 735). The ash fall on this day was lighter than on the 27th. Here aviation data (discussed below) did record the plume via satellite. The Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) noted (in their 6th advisory) an eruption in the afternoon on the 28th reaching (based on comparison of plume movement to modeling of winds aloft) ~13 km altitude.

During 29 May and onwards the intensity of volcanic activity decreased, with only relatively small eruptive plumes that occasionally produced minor tephra fall in the communities surrounding the volcano (CONRED 742). CONRED 748 noted that by the 29th, a total of 2,635 people were in shelters due to the eruption, with close to 800 home either damaged or destroyed. In the following days the attention of the emergency managers shifted from the eruption to the Tropical Storm Agatha, which had much broader extent and impact.

In the Pacaya and Guatamala City region, and along drainages carrying ash-charged run, both disasters combined. Lake AmatitlÁn rose, inundating low lying parts of the town with a water-and-ash mix (see photo documentation of impacts at Boston.com). Figure 59 is a photo taken ~12 km downstream of the Lake's outlet.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. The Pacaya tephra fall combined with storm run from Agnes led to swollen rivers in a 'dual disaster.' Those rivers formed new deposits along their beds from large amounts of in-swept debris, in this case including large boulders, trees, and a badly battered vehicle in the foreground. This press photograph was taken on 30 May 2010 as the flood water dropped. The location was the municipality of Palin, which sits along the Michatoya river downstream of Lake AmatitlÁn and ~10 km W of Pacaya. Taken from Boston.com with credit to Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images.

Seismic record. INSIVUMEH and REW (2013) suggested a climax on the 27th starting shortly before 1800 local time and lasting ~40 minutes.

The seismic signal (figure 60, upper panel) contained a few scattered high amplitude events during the morning of 27 May 2010. Seismicity rose significantly about 1200 on the 27th, about doubling the RSAM values recorded during the previous 13 hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Seismicity recorded at Pacaya during the 2300 of 26 May through 1700 on 28 May (local times). The upper panel shows the seismic record and the lower panel shows the computed RSAM. Station PCG is a short-period seismometer located on Cerro Chino, ~1 km NW of Pacaya's summit on the MacKenney cone. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

The first of about 10 strong peaks (seen on both the upper and lower panels of figure 60) took place around 1230 on the 27th. Those peaks represented a large escalation in seismicity an approximate doubling of the RSAM values. The highest peak on the record took place during 1730 to 1830 on the 27th, a ~6-fold increase in RSAM over the background values acquired earlier on the 27th. During the middle part of the 1800-1900 interval there was a peculiar several-minute-long period with low seismicity conspicuous on the seismic record (upper panel). After that, a series of closely spaced peaks of generally decreasing amplitude followed and then seismicity decreased substantially, particularly around 2300-2400 on the 27th. A second escalation of broadly similar size to the earlier one came on the 28th peaking at 1100 and then dropping.

In a later analysis of seismicity, Mercado and others (2012 correlated waveforms for 5 months before and 9 months after the May 2010 eruption. They noted that "No correlation was found between the events of each day during the five-month period before the eruption, thus, establishing no relationship with the periods of correlation found after the eruption. The post-eruptive sources of seismicity discovered were not active before the eruptive event of May 27, 2010, and therefore these sources must be strictly post-eruptive in nature."

Aviation. Although there were 48 reports (Volcanic Ash Advisories, VAA's or simply 'advisories') issued by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) on Pacaya behavior during the interval 27 May to 26 June 2010, weather clouds frequently masked the plume from the key satellite observation platform, the GOES-13 satellite. Where satellite observations of the plume were scarce or lacking, most of the VAA's conveyed ground-based observations including media reports.

By the 3rd advisory, which was issued on the 28th, considerable ash had fallen at the International airport Aurora. There is some confusion as to the quantity of ash at the airport and over the region in general, but a photo on the 28th shows ash at the airport. Judging from ash load on the aircraft, the f walking just to the right of the aircraft, and adjacent tire tracks, the ash was on the order of ~1-cm thick (figure 61). This is in accord with INSIVUMEH's summary report that said 5-7 mm of ash had fallen during the entire explosive 27-28 May eruption at the airport. This is also in accord with REW (2014), which discusses the complexities of assessing tephra thicknesses in more detail, and presents a preliminary isopach map that shows the S fringes of the Guatemala City urban area with 10 cm of ash and many parts of the urban area farther N, including the airport, with on the order of 1 cm of ash.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. An American Airlines jet sits covered with ash from the Pacaya explosions at the International airport in Guatemala City on 28 May 2010. Runway cleanup took five days. The cleaning of the abrasive ash both destroyed the bituminous runway surface and all markings on it (Wardman and others, 2012). This photo was posted on the Boston Globe news website (Boston.com, see reference in table 5) with the credit to REUTERS/Daniel LeClair.

What follows is a summary of the advisories issued during 27 through 28 May (UTC).

The VAA's frequently refer to the NAM (North American Mesoscale Model), a numerical model for short-term weather forecasting and in this case wind-velocity estimation. The model is run 4 times a day with 12 km horizontal resolution and with 1 hour temporal resolution, providing finer detail than other operational forecast models. An example of a model with less detail is the model called GFS (Global Forecast System), which predicts weather for many regions of the world, and was sometimes also used by the VAAC analysts.

The VAAC issued their 1st VAA for Pacaya during 2010 on May 27 at 1140 UTC, citing as key information sources GFS winds and INSIVUMEH. Eruption details noted small brief ash emissions near the summit at 1115 UTC. The ash cloud was not identifiable from the GOES-13 satellite owing to rain. The ash cloud was inferred to have remained low and near the volcano. GFS wind data suggested that for such a low ash cloud at that time, wind-directed transport would carry a plume S-SW and would only be significant for ~20 km. The analyst noted that eruption as then dominantly lava emission.

The 2nd advisory came out 7 hours later at 1845 UTC on the 27th indicating volcanic ash and gases to ~3.5 km altitude (noting ICAO as an information source). Ash was again not identifiable from the GOES-13 satellite owing to clouds.

The 3rd advisory, noting 'ongoing emission of volcanic ash and gases,' came out at 1257 UTC on the 28th, again lacking clear satellite identification of ash owing to clouds, in this case citing a thick tropical depression. This advisory relied on both a wind model (NAM winds) and an aviation meteorological report (a METAR). The advisory further noted media reports of ash on runways as discussed in the context of figure 61.

The 4th advisory was issued at 1554 UTC on the 28th, noting "increasing emissions" at 1515 UTC with INSIVUMEH reporting ash rising to 3.7 km altitude (FL 120) and spreading up to 27 km NW. Again, owing to extensive weather clouds, ash was again not visible from GOES-13 satellite.

The 5th advisory was issued at 1710 UTC on the 28th, noting "ongoing emissions" recorded at 1645 UTC. Plume has now become visible in [GOES-13] imagery and extends about 15 NMI [Nautical miles, 27 km] to the NNE of the summit. Plume top was at 3.7 km altitude (FL 120).

The 6th advisory was issued at 1915 UTC on the 28th, noting a large eruption recorded at 1815 UTC: "Large eruption seen to FL420 [42,000 feet, ~13 km altitude] based on NAM sounding for the area. Forecast winds remain mostly westerly to northwesterly. Winds at the time of observation blew the plume E at ~18 km/hr.

The 7th advisory was issued at 1930 UTC on the 28th (the last one that day); it repeated information about the eruption seen in imagery around 1815. In this advisory the wind was moving NW at 27 km/hr.

Slope stability study. Schaefer and others (2013) evaluated slope stability at Pacaya and commented on the possible implications of the trough across the MacKenney cone (figure 57). They consider the trough noted above as an example of a recent, smaller-volume collapse.

Specifically, they studied the SW flank of the edifice and developed a geomechanical model based upon field observations and laboratory tests of intact rocks from Pacaya. Their study included analysis of slope stability using numerical techniques and consideration of forces from gravity, magmatic pressure, and seismic loading as triggering mechanisms for slope failure.

Given the cone's structural and seismo-tectonic setting, the likely magma pressures, and the history of past behavior, they suggested Pacaya lacked substantial gravitational stability.

References. Bonis, S., 1993, Mapa Geologico de Guatemala Escala 1:250,000. Hoja ND 15 - 8 - G, "Guatemala". First edition (map). IGN, Guatemala.

Conway, M., 1995, Construction patterns and timing of volcanism at the Cerro Quemado, Santa María, and Pacaya volcanoes, Guatemala. Ph. D. Dissertation. Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan. 152 pp.

Escobar Wolf, R, 2013 (Report in preparation, July 2013), The eruption of VolcÁn de Pacaya on May -June, 2010, Michigan Technological University, 31 pp.

Escobar-Wolf, R., & Tubman, S., in preparation, Compilation of historical and recent accounts of eruptions from volcan de Pacaya (XVI-IXX centuries).

Eggers, A., 1972, The geology and petrology of the AmatitlÁn quadrangle, Guatemala. Ph. D. Dissertation. Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. 221 pp.

Eggers, A., 1969, Mapa Geologico de Guatemala Escala 1:50,000. Hoja 2059 II G, " AmatitlÁn ". First edition (map). IGN, Guatemala.

Fiske, R. S., Rose, T. R., Swanson, D. A., Champion, D. E., & McGeehin, J. P., 2009, Kulanaokuaiki Tephra (ca. AD 400-1000): Newly recognized evidence for highly explosive eruptions at Kilauea Volcano, Hawai'i. Geological Society of America Bulletin, vol. 121, no. 5-6), pp. 712-728

Hetland, B., 2010a, Volcano Pacaya, Cleaning up the eruption of Pacaya, One roof at a time…; Online manuscript by Brianna "Adriana" Hetland, US Peace Corps Volunteer 2010-2012, (URL: http://www.geo.mtu.edu/~raman/Pacaya.Bri.pdf )

Hetland, B., 2010b, Erupción del VolcÁn de Pacaya 27 Mayo 2010; X Congreso Geológico de América Central, Antigua, Guatemala, November 10, 2010. [Power Point from talk at Geologic Conference; in Spanish] (URL: http://www.geo.mtu.edu/rs4hazards/conferencepresentations_files/conferenceshz.htm )

Kitamura S., and Matías O., 1995. Tephra stratigraphic approach to the eruptive history of Pacaya volcano, Guatemala. Science Reports-Tohoku University, Seventh Series: Geography. 45 (1): 1-41.

Matías Gómez, RO, Rose, WI, Palma, JL, Escobar-Wolf, R, 2012, Notes on a map of the 1961-2010 eruptions of VolcÁn de Pacaya, Guatemala. Geol Soc Am Digital Map Chart Series 10: 10 pp.

Matías , O., 2010, Volcanological map of the 1961 - 2009 eruption of Volcan de Pacaya, Guatemala. MS. Thesis. Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan. 57 pp.

Mercado, D, Waite, G, and Rodriguez, L, 2012, Analysis of seismic patterns before and after the May 27, 2010 eruption of Pacaya volcano, Guatemala, Cities on Volcanoes 7 (COV7), Abstract volume, IAVCEI meeting (19-23 November 2012, Colima, Mexico) (URL: http://www.citiesonvolcanoes7.com/vistaprevia2.php?idab=510)

Morgan, HA, Harris, AJL, and L. Gurioli, 2013, Lava discharge rate estimates from thermal infrared satellite data for Pacaya Volcano during 2004-2010, Jour.of Volcanology and Geoth. Res., Vol. 264, pp. 1-11, ISSN 0377-0273, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2013.07.008.

Prensa Libre, 2010 [19 April at 01:17 Nacionales]; Mueren tras explosion (URL: http://www.prensalibre.com/noticias/Mueren-explosion_0_246575377.html; http://tinyurl.com/2vvaj4j ) [in Spanish]

Prense Libre, 17 May 2010 [21:38 Nacionales], Restringen acceso al volcÁn de Pacaya (URL: http://www.prensalibre.com/noticias/Restringen-acceso-volcan-Pacaya_0_263373950.html; http://tinyurl.com/2wb8p9t) [in Spanish]

Prensa Libre, 27 May 2010 Aumenta actividad volcÁnica en el Pacaya (URL: http://www.prensalibre.com/noticias/volcan-pacaya-actividad-erupcion_0_269373197.html; http://tinyurl.com/246hohe)

Rose, W. I., Palma, J. L., Wolf, R. E., & Gomez, R. O. M., 2013, A 50 yr eruption of a basaltic composite cone: Pacaya, Guatemala. Geological Society of America Special Papers, 498, 1-21.

Schaefer, L. N., Oommen, T., Corazzato, C., Tibaldi, A., Escobar-Wolf, R., & Rose, W. I., 2013, An integrated field-numerical approach to assess slope stability hazards at volcanoes: the example of Pacaya, Guatemala. Bull Volcanol, 75, 720.

Sparks, R. S. J., 1986, The dimensions and dynamics of volcanic eruption columns. Bulletin of Volcanology, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 3-15.

Wardman, J., Sword-Daniels, V., Stewart, C., & Wilson, T. M., 2012, Impact assessment of the May 2010 eruption of Pacaya volcano, Guatemala (No. 2012/09). GNS Science (New Zealand)

Walikainen, Dennis, 2010 [June 4], Eyewitness to Disasters: Graduate Student Reports from Guatemala (URL: http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2010/june/eyewitness-disasters-graduate-student-reports-guatemala.html)

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

Information Contacts: Rüdiger Escobar Wolf, Department of Geological Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Tech University, Houghton, MI 49931; INSIVUMEH Seccion Vulcanologia (Institute National de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorolgia, e Hidrologia) 7a Avenida, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala; Gustavo Chigna,.INSIVUMEH; CONRED (Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres) Avenida Hincapié 21-72, Zona 13 Guatemala, Ciudad de Guatemala; and Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), NOAA Satellite Analysis Branch, NOAA NESDIS OSPO, E/SP, NCWCP, 5830 University Research Court, College Park, MD 20740 (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/).

Atmospheric Effects

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

Atmospheric Effects (1980-1989)  Atmospheric Effects (1995-2001)

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands

Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion

Tonga Islands

Floating Pumice (Tonga)

Fiji Islands

Floating Pumice (Fiji)

Andaman Islands

False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions

Sangihe Islands

1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake

Southeast Asia

Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong

Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu

Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)

Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands

Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source

Kuril Islands

Possible 1988 Eruption Plume

Aleutian Islands

Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


False Report of New Volcano




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-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


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


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


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



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



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/).