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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

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

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


Recently Published Bulletin Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Erebus (Antarctica) Lava lakes persist through 2017 and 2018

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



Stromboli (Italy) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

Nearly constant fountains of lava at Stromboli have served as a natural beacon in the Tyrrhenian Sea for at least 2,000 years. Eruptive activity at the summit consistently occurs from multiple vents at both a north crater area (N Area) and a southern crater group (CS Area) on the Terrazza Craterica at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a large scarp that runs from the summit down the NW side of the island. Thermal and visual cameras that monitor activity at the vents are located on the nearby Pizzo Sopra La Fossa, above the Terrazza Craterica, and at a location closer to the summit craters.

Eruptive activity from November 2018 to February 2019 was consistent in terms of explosion intensities and rates from both crater areas at the summit, and similar to activity of the past few years (table 5). In the North Crater area, both vents N1 and N2 emitted a mixture of coarse (lapilli and bombs) and fine (ash) ejecta; most explosions rose less than 80 m above the vents, some reached 150 m. Average explosion rates ranged from 4 to 21 per hour. In the CS crater area continuous degassing and occasional intense spattering were typical at vent C, vent S1 was a low-intensity incandescent jet throughout the period. Explosions from vent S2 produced 80-150 m high ejecta of ash, lapilli and bombs at average rates of 3-16 per hour. Thermal activity at Stromboli was actually higher during November 2018-February 2019 than it had been in previous months as recorded in the MIROVA Log Radiative Power data from MODIS infrared satellite information (figure 139).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy, (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/en/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).


Krakatau (Indonesia) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Masaya (Nicaragua) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Santa Maria (Guatemala) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Santa Maria

Guatemala

14.757°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

The dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex on the W flank of Guatemala's Santa María volcano has been growing and actively erupting since 1922. The youngest of the four vents in the complex, Caliente, has been erupting with ash explosions, pyroclastic, and lava flows for more than 40 years. A lava dome that appeared within the summit crater of Caliente in October 2016 has continued to grow, producing frequent block avalanches down the flanks. Daily explosions of steam and ash also continued during November 2018-February 2019, the period covered in this report, with information primarily from Guatemala's INSIVUMEH (Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meterologia e Hidrologia) and the Washington VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center).

Activity at Santa Maria continued with little variation from previous months during November 2018-February 2019. Plumes of steam with minor magmatic gases rose continuously from the Caliente crater 100-500 m above the summit, generally drifting SW or SE before dissipating. In addition, daily explosions with varying amounts of ash rose to altitudes of around 2.8-3.5 km and usually extended 20-30 km before dissipating. Most of the plumes drifted SW or SE; minor ashfall occurred in the adjacent hills almost daily and was reported at the fincas located within 15 km in those directions several times each month. Continued growth of the Caliente lava dome resulted in daily block avalanches descending its flanks. The MIROVA plot of thermal energy during this time shows a consistent level of heat flow with minor variations throughout the period (figure 89).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geologic Background. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that is cut on the SW flank by a 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned Plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four westward-younging vents, the most recent of which is Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).


Reventador (Ecuador) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Reventador

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

The andesitic Volcán El Reventador lies well east of the main volcanic axis of the Cordillera Real in Ecuador and has historical eruptions with numerous lava flows and explosive events going back to the 16th century. The eruption in November 2002 generated a 17-km-high eruption cloud, pyroclastic flows that traveled 8 km, and several lava flows. Eruptive activity has been continuous since 2008. Daily explosions with ash emissions and ejecta of incandescent blocks rolling hundreds of meters down the flanks have been typical for many years. Activity continued during October 2018-January 2019, the period covered in this report, with information provided by Ecuador's Instituto Geofisico (IG-EPN), the Washington Volcano Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and infrared satellite data.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geologic Background. Reventador is the most frequently active of a chain of Ecuadorian volcanoes in the Cordillera Real, well east of the principal volcanic axis. The forested, dominantly andesitic Volcán El Reventador stratovolcano rises to 3562 m above the jungles of the western Amazon basin. A 4-km-wide caldera widely breached to the east was formed by edifice collapse and is partially filled by a young, unvegetated stratovolcano that rises about 1300 m above the caldera floor to a height comparable to the caldera rim. It has been the source of numerous lava flows as well as explosive eruptions that were visible from Quito in historical time. Frequent lahars in this region of heavy rainfall have constructed a debris plain on the eastern floor of the caldera. The largest historical eruption took place in 2002, producing a 17-km-high eruption column, pyroclastic flows that traveled up to 8 km, and lava flows from summit and flank vents.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).


Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kuchinoerabujima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak explosions and ash plumes beginning 21 October 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kerinci (Indonesia) — February 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Yasur (Vanuatu) — February 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Yasur

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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


Ambae (Vanuatu) — February 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambae

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd (MetService), PO Box 722, Wellington, New Zealand (URL: http://www.metservice.com/vaac/, http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/OTH/NZ/messages.html); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Himawari-8 Real-time Web, developed by the NICT Science Cloud project in NICT (National Institute of Information and Communications Technology), Japan, in collaboration with JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency) and CEReS (Center of Environmental Remote Sensing, Chiba University) (URL: https://himawari8.nict.go.jp/); Vanuatu Red Cross Society (URL: https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuRedCross); William A. Brooks and Ronald L. Holle, Vaisala Inc., Tucson, Arizona, and Chris Vagasky, Vaisala Inc., Louisville, Colorado (URL: https://www.vaisala.com/); Michael Rowe, The University of Auckland, 23 Symonds Street, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand (URL: https://unidirectory.auckland.ac.nz/profile/michael-rowe); Radio New Zealand, 155 The Terrace, Wellington 6011, New Zealand (URL: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/359231/vanuatu-provincial-capital-moves-due-to-volcano); Vanuatu Daily Post (URL: http://dailypost.vu/).


Agung (Indonesia) — February 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Agung

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38, East Jakarta 13120, Indonesia (URL: http://www.bnpb.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Erebus (Antarctica) — January 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Erebus

Antarctica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lakes persist through 2017 and 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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


Villarrica (Chile) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Villarrica

Chile

39.42°S, 71.93°W; summit elev. 2847 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geologic Background. Glacier-clad Villarrica, one of Chile's most active volcanoes, rises above the lake and town of the same name. It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain. A 6-km-wide caldera formed during the late Pleistocene. A 2-km-wide caldera that formed about 3500 years ago is located at the base of the presently active, dominantly basaltic to basaltic-andesitic cone at the NW margin of the Pleistocene caldera. More than 30 scoria cones and fissure vents dot the flanks. Plinian eruptions and pyroclastic flows that have extended up to 20 km from the volcano were produced during the Holocene. Lava flows up to 18 km long have issued from summit and flank vents. Historical eruptions, documented since 1558, have consisted largely of mild-to-moderate explosive activity with occasional lava effusion. Glaciers cover 40 km2 of the volcano, and lahars have damaged towns on its flanks.

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN), Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Avda Sta María No. 0104, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/); Proyecto Observación Villarrica Internet (POVI) (URL: http://www.povi.cl/).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 42, Number 07 (July 2017)

Managing Editor: Edward Venzke

Erta Ale (Ethiopia)

Persistent lava lake; crater rim overflows; new fissure eruption begins in January 2017

Fournaise, Piton de la (France)

Intermittent effusive episodes during February-October 2015; May and September 2016; and February 2017

Kambalny (Russia)

First major eruption in over 600 years consists of large ash explosions during March-April 2017

Lascar (Chile)

Thermal anomaly persists until April 2017

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

Ash plumes several times weekly, multiple episodes of dome growth and destruction, and high SO2 flux during January 2015-June 2016.

Reventador (Ecuador)

Lava flow emerges from summit cone, January 2016; continued explosions, pyroclastic flows, and ash emissions

San Miguel (El Salvador)

Six small ash emission events during January 2015-June 2017

Santa Maria (Guatemala)

Continuous ash emissions, pyroclastic flows and lahars; new lava dome visible at Caliente dome, October 2016

Stromboli (Italy)

Persistent low- and moderate-level explosive activity during 2015 and 2016

Yasur (Vanuatu)

Strong explosions reported through mid-June 2017, with ongoing thermal anomalies



Erta Ale (Ethiopia) — July 2017 Citation iconCite this Report

Erta Ale

Ethiopia

13.6°N, 40.67°E; summit elev. 613 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Persistent lava lake; crater rim overflows; new fissure eruption begins in January 2017

Ethiopia's Erta Ale basaltic shield volcano has had an active lava lake since the mid 1960s, and possibly much earlier. The first confirmed historical observations were in 1906. Two active craters (Northern and Southern) within a larger oval-shaped caldera exhibit periodic fountaining of lava causing lava lake overflows; this creates spectacular incandescence as the pahoehoe lava flows into the larger caldera around the craters and occasionally beyond. Lava flows in the South Pit crater overflowed its rim in November 2010 (BGVN 36:06). This report discusses activity from 2011 through June 2017, including the South Pit crater overflows in January and November 2016, and a new fissure eruption on the SE flank that began in January 2017 and was continuing in June 2017. Information comes from satellite thermal and visual data (NASA Earth Observatory, MODIS), and photographs from expeditions (primarily from Volcano Discovery) that regularly visit this remote site.

The lava lake at the South Pit crater in the summit caldera remained active, with the lake level falling and rising to within a few meters of the rim, during 2011-2015. Intermittent lava flows were reported from the North Pit Crater as well during this time. Activity increased late in 2015, and the first overflows of the South Pit crater rim since late 2010 occurred in mid-January 2016. It overflowed again in November 2016, and covered a significant area of the surrounding caldera floor with pahoehoe. By late December, effusive activity was reported from both craters. Flow intensity and volume increased dramatically for several days beginning on 17 January 2017, followed by ash emissions and crater collapses on 20-21 January. A new fissure eruption on the SE flank about 4 km from the caldera appeared on 21 January 2017, and sent lava flows several kilometers to the NE and the SW. Activity at the fissure vent increased during subsequent months, and by June 2017 a substantial new lava field that contained at least one new lava lake and flows more than 1,500 m long covered the area. Effusive activity had also resumed at both craters in the summit caldera.

Activity during November 2011-December 2016. Visitors in November 2011 confirmed the continued presence of the lava lake (figure 32) at the South Pit crater in the summit caldera. On 16 January 2012, an attack by Eritrean rebels on tourists camping at the S crater rim left at least five European tourists dead and seven others wounded; four Europeans and their Ethiopian guides were also abducted, according to Volcano Discovery reports. News reported through Volcano Discovery suggested that the abducted tourists were released in March 2012.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. The active lava lake at Erta Ale's South pit crater during November 2011. Photo by Reinhard Radke, courtesy of Volcano Discovery.

Visitors in January 2013 reported that the lava lake in the North Pit crater was active and about 10 m below the rim. Intermittent lava flows were observed from a hornito in the South Pit crater and were continuing to fill the crater floor. Members of an expedition in December 2013 observed that the active lava lake at the South Pit crater had risen considerably during previous months (figure 33). An expedition in February 2015 also documented continued lava fountaining (figure 34) at the South Pit crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. The active lava lake at the South Pit crater of Erta Ale in December 2013. Photo copyright by Dominique Voegtli, courtesy of Volcano Discovery, used by permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. The active lava lake at the South Pit crater at Erta Ale in February 2015. Upper image: lava fountaining up over the lake surface. Lower image: night time glow of lava seeping up through cracks in the lake surface. Photos by Dietmar Berendes, courtesy of Volcano Discovery.

During 19-21 November 2015, visitors on an expedition to Erta Ale observed significant changes in the lava lake level at the South Pit crater. On the morning of 19 November (figure 35) the lake surface was 2-3 m below the rim. A local guide reported that the lake had been very active during the previous weeks, rising to levels near overflowing similar to the event in late 2010. A second terrace of freshly cooled pahoehoe was visible less than 1 m below the rim, indicating the most recent maximum height of the lake. On 19 November, the lake rose to within 30 cm of the terrace rim, with occasional lava fountains splashing onto the terrace (figure 36), and Pele's hair forming continuously. The level had dropped several meters by the next morning. During 20 and 21 November, the activity was characterized by large, periodic "exploding bubbles" from the center of the lake creating waves across the surface; minor Strombolian activity and fountaining occurred around the edges. The lake level generally fluctuated between 0.5 and 1 m below the second terrace. On the evening of 21 November, the level rose rapidly from five to three meters below the second terrace; lava rapidly seeped out of the cracks in the cooling surface, overflowing onto the thin crust.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. The lava lake at the South Pit crater of Erta Ale on the morning of 19 November 2015. The lake level was higher than it was in February 2015 (figure 34). Photo by Ingrid, courtesy of Volcano Discovery.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Fountains from the lake at the South Pit crater of Erta Ale splatter lava onto the crater rim on 19 November 2015. Photo by Ingrid, courtesy of Volcano Discovery.

Volcano Discovery reported that the lava overflowed the rim of the South Pit crater during the night of 15-16 January 2016, and covered the rim with a fresh crust of pahoehoe. An expedition leader reported that during 12-15 February 2016, the lake level had dropped 5-7 m. A visitor to the crater in April 2016 photographed the lake level several meters below the rim with active fountaining lava (figure 37).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. The boiling lava lake at the Sout Pit crater of Erta Ale on 3 April 2016. Photo by V, courtesy of Flickr.

The southern pit crater began overflowing again at the beginning of November 2016, and covered significant parts of the surrounding caldera floor (figures 38 and 39). The overflow was observed at mid-day on 14 November by visitors from the Societe de Volcanologie Geneve (SVG).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. The South Pit crater of Erta Ale began overflowing the rim in early November 2016. An expedition during the second half of November witnessed lava overflowing its newly constructed containment ring a number of times each day. Upper image: the perched lava lake sits above the recent flows. Lower Image: a closeup of the fresh pahoehoe flows that covered Erta Ale´s caldera floor from the overflow. Photos by Hans en Jooske, courtesy of Volcano Discovery.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. The summit caldera of Erta Ale around the South Pit crater before and after the overflows of November 2016. Upper image: The South Pit Crater in November 2015 is surrounded by the lava flows from the 2010 overflow. Photo by Ingrid Smet. Lower image: A large volume of fresh pahoehoe from November 2016 covers the older flows. The active lake is center-left in the background with a gas plume. Views are from different places along the caldera rim. Photo by Hans en Jooske, courtesy of Volcano Discovery.

By late December 2016, effusive activity was reported from both the North and South Pit craters, including activity at the South Pit crater overflowing beyond the surrounding summit caldera. An expedition during 29 December 2016-1 January 2017 observed changing activity from both craters inside the summit caldera (figure 40). During 29-31 December, the lake level at the South Pit crater fluctuated between 0.5 and 1 m below the rim. During this time lava fountains 2-3 m high were frequent along the South Pit crater rim, but it did not overflow. The caldera floor around the crater was covered with 2-3 m of fresh pahoehoe, over an area about 150 m in diameter. Activity at the North Pit crater had formed three hornitos, one of which was emitting lava.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Erta Ale's lava lake at the South Pit crater on 29 December 2016. Photo by Jens Wolfram Erben, courtesy of Volcano Discovery.

Activity during January-June 2017. Observations on 16 January 2017 at the North Pit crater showed remnants of two large hornitos surrounded by fresh lava flows (figure 41). During 16-20 January 2017, the lava lake at the South Pit crater underwent rapid and large variations, producing massive overflows and intense spattering. During the morning of 16 January the lake overflowed the W rim of the crater (figure 42); in the afternoon two lava rivers, reaching 500 m in length, appeared on the SW flank.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. The center of the less active North Pit crater of Erta Ale on 16 January 2017, with remnants of two large hornitos surrounded by fresh lava flows. This crater collapsed shortly after the expedition group left. Photo by Paul Reichert, courtesy of Volcano Discovery.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. A vigorous overflow of the western rim of Erta Ale's South Pit crater started at 1030 on 16 January 2017 and produced a flood of lava that flowed SW. It was reported by Ethiopian geologist Enku Mulugeta as traveling at several meters per second. Photo by Paul Reichert, courtesy of Volcano Discovery.

On 17 January around 1300, two overflows began on the South Pit crater rim. Two hours later, overflows appeared on the NE and N flank; lava was flowing over about 70% of the rim according to visitors (figure 43). They reported the speed of the lava flowing on the flank at 50-70 km per hour, covering about 1 km2 within the larger caldera. In the morning of 18 January, fresh, glowing lava covered the area around the South Pit crater 500-700 m in all directions (figure 44). Sporadic overflows occurred with lake levels fluctuating by 10-15 m for several days. During lower levels, Strombolian fountains reached 50-60 m above the lake.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. The lava lake at the South Pit crater of Erta Ale overflowing on all sides on 17 January 2017. Photo by Enku Mulugeta, courtesy of Volcano Discovery.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Lava flows on the SW side of the South Pit crater at Erta Ale had covered much of the western caldera floor by the afternoon of 17 January 2017, and invaded the larger, gently dipping southern part of the oval-shaped NW-SE trending caldera. View is to the S, with the SW rim of the Summit caldera on the right. Photo by Paul Reichert, courtesy of Volcano Discovery.

On the evening of 20 January, explosions of very large gas bubbles were observed by Oliver Grunewald and reported by Culture Volcan, causing lava to spatter up to 30 m high. Parts of both of the craters in the Summit caldera began to collapse. At the North Pit crater, a new 20 m deep oval-shaped pit crater 150 x 30 m formed during the next 24 hours. A collapse at the South Pit crater doubled its size. This activity was accompanied by ash emissions that reached 700-800 m above the crater.

Volcano Discovery reported news from eyewitness reports of a fissure eruption beginning on 21 January 2017. Two fissure eruptions were visible on the SE flank, 3 and 4 km SE of the South Pit crater lava lake, in satellite imagery taken on 26 January 2017 (figure 45). The higher vent was located at about 650 m elevation, and the lower one around 400 m. The fissures created three distinct lava fields, one to the NE reaching about 3 km length, a smaller one to the W (about 1 km), and one to the SSE about 2 km long. The surface area covered by the first two (on either side on the northernmost fissures) was estimated to be about 1.5 km² (1,500,000 m²), while the southern flow covered about 0.35 km² (350,000 m²). As a result of the sudden draining of the magma into the new fissure zone, the lava lake in the South Pit crater was reported to have dropped by 80-100 m. Additional satellite imagery taken before and after the fissure eruptions began reveal the locations of the new flows on 23 and 27 January 2017 (figure 46).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Infrared hot spots and gas plumes are clearly visible from Erta Ale on 26 January 2017. The new fissure eruptions 3-4 km SE of the South Pit crater were first reported on 21 January. This led to a large drop in lake level at the South Pit crater. This image was captured by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) sensor on Landsat 8 on 26 January 2017. It is a composite of natural color (OLI bands 4-3-2) and shortwave infrared (OLI band 7). Shortwave infrared light (SWIR) is invisible to the naked eye, but strong SWIR signals indicate increased temperatures. Infrared hot spots representing two distinct lava flows are visible. Plumes of volcanic gases and steam drift from lava lakes at both summit craters. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Satellite imagery showing changes in the lava flows from the flank eruption at Erta Ale during 16-27 January 2017. The flank eruption began on 21 January. On 16 January (top), the flank eruption has not yet begun. By 23 January (middle) the new lava flows and steam emissions are visible from several vents located 3-4 km SE of the South Pit crater. Additional new lava is visible in the lower center of the 27 January image (bottom). Images copyright by Planet Labs Inc., 3 m per pixel resolution, and used with permission under a Creative Common license.

After dropping about 100 m after the flank eruption began, the South Pit crater lake level rose again by mid-February to 40-50 m below its rim. By April 2017, activity still remained high; a new lava lake about 80 x 175 m in size had formed at the flank eruption site, and a growing lava field, about 1,500 m wide had reached 3.5 km NE of the original site. Geologists from Addis Abeba University who visited the site during 11-15 April 2017 noted two coalesced hornitos in the NE part of the South Pit crater, estimated to be 7 m high. The old lava lake was covered with cooled lava in a 200-m-diameter near-circular shape. Frequent surface collapse and lake-level changes occurred every 30 minutes, and lava fountains rose 25 m above the surface. The fresh lava surface around the crater rim had cooled enough to walk on it. The North Pit crater was still degassing, with several small hornitos growing in the center. The lake level at the new fissure (the SE Rift Zone) had dropped by about 10 m.

By early May 2017, the first lava lake at the SE Rift Zone had crusted over and a new lake was forming about 350 m E. A new breakout also started in early May, and was feeding a new flow field overlapping the previous one to the NE, more than 1,500 m long and over 500 m wide.

Satellite data. In addition to field observations of Erta Ale, valuable information is available from continuous satellite data. Thermal data from MODIS is processed by both the MIROVA and MODVOLC systems. The MIROVA thermal anomaly system recorded the high levels of heat flow and changes in location of the heat flow sources from late September 2015 through June 2017 (figure 47). The change in location and intensity of the heat flow in late January 2017 corresponds with the opening of the SE-flank fissure.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. MIROVA thermal anomalies at Erta Ale from late September 2015 through early July 2017. The thermal anomaly signature has been strong and variable since late September 2015. The large spike in intensity and change in location of activity in late January 2017 coincides with the opening of the SE flank fissure vents. The black lines indicate heat sources more than 5 km from the summit crater, and correspond to the new fissure zone SE of the summit caldera. Courtesy of MIROVA.

The MODVOLC thermal alert system managed by the University of Hawaii has captured persistent thermal alerts from Erta Ale for at least 10 years. When activity is moderate to high at the lava lakes in the pit craters, the signal is concentrated in those areas (figure 48). The reports of lava overflowing the south crater rim in January 2016 correspond to increased heat flow visible in the MODVOLC data. The dramatic changes in heat flow with the new fissure flows from the SE rift zone and subsequent new lava lake formation are apparent in MODVOLC images from January-May 2017 (figure 49).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Selected MODVOLC thermal alert images from 2015 and 2016 for Erta Ale showing variations in heat flow when activity is concentrated at the North and South Pit craters in the Summit caldera. The increase in January 2016 corresponds to lava overflows at the South Pit Crater. Courtesy of MODVOLC.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. The dramatic changes in heat flow with the new fissure flows from the SE rift zone and subsequent new lava lake formation are apparent in MODVOLC images from January-May 2017. On 20 January, only the Summit Caldera craters were active. On 27 January, a new lava lake was reported at the fissure on the SE flank. During the week of 17-24 February, lava flows were active at both the fissure and at the summit craters. By 29 April-5 May, the new SE Rift Zone is extending several kilometers to the NE. Courtesy of MODVOLC.

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

Information Contacts: NASA Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/); Tom Pfeiffer, Volcano Discovery (URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/); Robert Simon, Sr. Data Visualization Engineer, Planet Labs Inc. (URL: http://www.planet.com/); 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/); Societe de Volcanologie Geneve (SVG), Bulletin 161, January 2017.


Piton de la Fournaise (France) — July 2017 Citation iconCite this Report

Piton de la Fournaise

France

21.244°S, 55.708°E; summit elev. 2632 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent effusive episodes during February-October 2015; May and September 2016; and February 2017

Short pulses of intermittent eruptive activity have characterized Piton de la Fournaise, the large basaltic shield volcano on Reunion Island in the western Indian Ocean, for several thousand years. Recent eruptive episodes on 21 June 2014 and activity that started on 4 February 2015 have already been reported (BGVN 40:02). This report covers the remainder of the 2015 eruptive episode, and additional activity through May 2017. Information about Piton de la Fournaise is provided by the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF) and satellite instruments.

A one-day fissure eruption on the ESE side of the central cone of the summit caldera on 21 June 2014 created a 1.5-km-long flow. This was followed by seven months of quiet. There were four effusive eruption events during 2015. The 4-15 February event occurred on the W side of the Dolomieu summit cone and the lava flow traveled about 2.5 km S. Effusion during 17-30 May started outside and SE of the Dolomieu Crater and traveled 4 km before it ceased. The brief 30 July-2 August event erupted from a 1-km-long fissure in the NE part of the l'Enclos Fouqué caldera and produced dozens of lava fountains. During 24 August-31 October a more sustained eruption from a fissure on the S flank of Dolomieu Crater sent lava flows at least 3.5 km down the flank to the S. Piton de la Fournaise experienced two effusive episodes in 2016. The 26-27 May event caused lava fountains on the SE flank of Dolomieu Crater. During 11-18 September, several fissures opened in the N part of the l'Enclos Fouqué caldera and produced numerous lava fountains and a lava flow. An effusive event on the SE flank of the summit crater during 31 January-27 February 2017 sent lava through tubes and flowed several kilometers to the SE before subsiding.

Activity during June 2014 and February 2015. The one-day eruption on 21 June 2014 consisted of a fissure eruption that was entirely contained within the Enclos Fouqué (the summit caldera) on the ESE side of the central (Dolomieu) cone. A lava fountain at the fissure created a spatter rampart and two lava flows that traveled about 1.5 km to the SE (BGVN 40:02).

The next eruption began abruptly on 4 February 2015 at a fissure on the W side of the summit cone adjacent to Bory crater (see figure 87), and lava flowed generally S, reaching about 2.5 km in length by 8 February (figure 88). The MODVOLC thermal alert signal for this event was detected over 4-14 February, and indications of continuing activity ceased by 15 February. OVPF partially reopened access to the volcano on 21 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. The eruptive cone from the 4-15 February 2015 eruption at Piton de la Fournaise. Upper image: 6 February 2015; lower Image: 12 February 2015. Courtesy of OVPF (Bulletin d'acitivité du Piton de la Fournaise du 15 février 2015 à 9h00 Locale).

Activity during May 2015. A brief increase in seismic activity, continued deformation, and increased magmatic gas emissions occurred on 29 April, but no effusive activity took place. A 90-minute seismic swarm of 200 volcano-tectonic (VT) events followed by significant deformation at the summit crater preceded a new effusive eruption at 1345 on 17 May. The eruption started outside and SE of Dolomieu crater in the Castle crater area. Volcanologists noted lava fountains from three fissures, and two lava flows. A very large gas plume emitted during the first few hours of the eruption rose 3.6-4 km above the summit and drifted NW. The fissure furthest W stopped issuing lava fountains before midnight.

On 18 May only one fissure was active and the SSW-drifting gas plume was much smaller. Hydrogen sulfide emissions continued to be high, and carbon dioxide emissions increased. Lava fountains from a single vent along the second fissure, further E, rose 40-50 m. The lava flow had traveled 4 km, reaching an elevation of 1.1 km. On 19 May, scientists observed lava fountains 20-30 m high, and noted the lava flow which had traveled 750 m in the previous day, reaching 1 km elevation. Lava-flow rates estimated by satellite data fluctuated but showed an overall decrease from 24.2 m2/s on 17 May to 2.5 m2/s on 21 May. During 21-22 May observers reported large variations in activity, including increasing heights of the lava fountain (over 50 m high), collapsing parts of the newly formed cinder cone, and a new very fluid lava flow adjacent to the main flow.

During an overflight on 23 May scientists observed a large blue sulfur dioxide plume above the vent, lower lava fountains, a smaller vent in the cone, and the presence of a lava tube about 200 m downstream of the vent. During 24-25 May activity remained unchanged; low lava fountains and low-level lava flows persisted (figure 89). OVPF reported that the eruption continued through 30 May 2015 after which tremor was no longer detected. The MODVOLC thermal alerts for this event agreed well with the observations of the volcanologists. Strong multi-pixel alerts were issued daily from 17-30 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Eruptive cone at Piton de la Fournaise on 24 May 2015. Courtesy of OVPF (Observations des 24 et 25 mai 2015).

Activity during 30 July-2 August 2015. A brief spike in seismicity on 6 July was the only notable activity after 30 May prior to a new eruptive episode that began on 30 July with a sharp increase in seismicity, increased gas emissions, and deformation near the summit. A fissure eruption began the next day at 0920, preceded by 90 minutes of high seismicity and 80 minutes of major deformation; it was confirmed by a hiker and then by observation of a gas plume. The 1-km-long fissure opened in the NE part of the l'Enclos Fouqué caldera and produced dozens of lava fountains (figure 90). Based on satellite images and gas data, the flow rate was estimated to be 28 m2/s initially and then 11 m2/s later that day. A gas plume rose to altitudes of 3.2-3.5 km. By the evening there were only five fountains, and a lava flow had traveled as far E as Plaine des Osmondes (NE part of the caldera). According to an AP news article, lava fountains were 40 m high, forming 20-m-high cones on 31 July. At 1115 on 2 August tremor stopped after several hours of fluctuating intensity, indicating the end of effusive activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Fountains of lava erupt from a 1-km-long fissure that opened in the NE part of the l'Enclos Fouqué caldera at Piton de la Fournaise on 1 August 2015. AP Photo by Ben Curtis, courtesy of the Associated Press.

Activity during 24 August-November 2015. The government reopened access to the caldera on 20 August; this was very short-lived, however, as a new eruption began on 24 August that continued through November 2015. Sulfur dioxide gas emissions increased at 1600, and the seismic and deformation network indicated a magmatic intrusion beginning at 1711 (figure 91). Lava fountains were visible at 1850 from a fissure on the S flank of Dolomieu Crater, at about 2,000 m elevation, near Rivals Crater. The fissure propagated towards the top of Rivals, and at around 2115 a fissure opened to the NW, below Bory Crater. The lava-flow rate was 30-60 m2/s . By the next morning fountains at higher elevations ceased, and were only active from a 100-m-long section near Rivals crater. The lava flow rate had significantly decreased to 10 m2/s . Near the top of the active fissure, a small cone had formed 140 m E of the sign to Rivals crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. New lava flows at Piton de la Fournaise on the S flank of Dolomieu Crater, 24 August 2015. To create this image, OVPF superimposed a daytime image taken earlier the same day onto one showing the nighttime lava flows, which allows the location of the activity to be better identified. Images taken from the Piton de Bert webcam. Courtesy of OVPF (Localisation des coulees vers 21h00 le 24/08/2015).

OVPF reported that the eruption fluctuated during the rest of August, causing variations in the height of the lava fountains and emissions. One vent remained active, and lava flows from it traveled at least as far as 3.5 km during 27-28 August. During an overflight the next day, scientists observed two growing cinder cones with lava lakes and lava fountains. An 'a'a lava flow was active, and a large gas plume rose 3 km.

Scientists conducting fieldwork during 31 August-1 September observed an active cone (20 m high) filled with a lava lake. Fluctuating lava fountains rose 15-20 m above the surface and gas bubbles exploded. Lava traveled through a 50-m-long lava tube and extended a distance of 1 km. During 1-2 September, seismicity increased and the lava flow grew to 2 km long (figure 92). Lava was observed in two separate side-by-side vents on 4 September (figure 93), and lava fountains were lower compared to recent days. Five small lava flows were visible near the foot of the cone; four were 30 m long and the fifth was 1 km long.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. Thermal measurements of an active lava flow on 3 September 2015 at Piton de la Fournaise. Courtesy of OVPF (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 4 septembre 2015 à 09h00).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. Side-by-side eruptive vents at Piton de la Fournaise on 4 September 2015. Courtesy of OVPF (Bulletin d'activité du samedi 5 septembre 2015 à 15h00).

The side-by-side vents remained active through 17 September, after which only one was active. Lava flows emerged from and were active beyond a 50-100 m lava tube; the largest lava flows were up to 1.5 km in length. During 22-23 September a new lava tube formed to the W of the lava field. By 24 September the active cone was 30 m high; lava fountains were lower and less frequently observed but lava flows continued to be active, traveling as far as 3 km S and E (figure 94). OVPF reported that seismicity at Piton de la Fournaise slowly increased during the last week of September, and deformation data showed a trend of deflation during the last few days of the month. During fieldwork on 27 September volcanologists noted continuous lava fountains. Small lava flows were active, though the fronts of the two larger ones were no longer advancing.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Map-view image showing lava flows created between 24 August and 28 September 2015 at Piton de la Fournaise. Contour extraction was performed using the coherence images (obtained in the interferogram production chain) produced by the OI2 observation service. Image courtesy of OVPF/IPGP and JL.Froger LMV/OPGC (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 2 septembre 2015 à 07h00).

During the first two weeks of October, the lava lake remained active; bursting gas bubbles ejected lava onto the edges of the 30-35-m-high cone. Pahoehoe lava flows issued from ephemeral vents on lava tubes, and in many instances hornitos were built at these vents. Lava was active as far as 2.5 km from the base of the cone and burned vegetation near the base of Piton de Bert. The lava-flow rate peaked at 11 m2/s during 1-4 October then returned to the previous rate of 5-10 m2/s. On 7 October lava flowed out of a breach in the cone. The evolution of the morphology of the eruptive vent changed from a fissure to a single cone between late August and early October (figure 95).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Evolution of the morphology of the eruptive cone at Piton de la Fournaise, 25 August-10 October 2015. Courtesy of OVPF (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 9 octobre 2015 à 19h00)

On 12 October there was a strong increase in tremor intensity, with values reaching or exceeding those detected during the first few hours of the eruption (24 August). Strain measurements showed continued deflation. A hornito SW of the cone ejected spatter during 13-14 October. Activity continued to increase on 16 and 17 October (figure 96). The cone continued to grow; the base was 100 m in diameter and it was about 40 m high. Parts of the cone rim continued to collapse, and a notch in the rim allowed for periodic lava-lake overflows. Increased SO2 flux created bubbles in the lava that caused ejection and spattering of large amounts of lava around the vent rim.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. Large amounts of lava spattered around the rim of the active vent at Piton de la Fournaise on 16 October 2015 (Bulletin d'activité du samedi 17 octobre 2015 à 08h00).

Tremor ceased abruptly on 19 October. Observers reported that a small explosion in the vent ejected spatter on 22 October, but lava flows were not observed. Lava fountains were visible from the main 24 August vent on 30 October for the last time (figure 97).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Lava fountains were observed for the last time in the early morning on 30 October 2015 from the vent of the 24 August 2015 eruption (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 30 octobre 2015 à 07h00).

OVPF reported that based on the change in seismic and lava flow activity, the effusive phase of the eruption beginning on 24 August had ended by 31 October 2015. They noted that during a few days before 11 November, the networks had recorded geophysical and geochemical signs of pressurization within the volcano. They also observed during aerial reconnaissance on 11 November persistent white fumarolic activity reflecting the high temperature of the lava field. Indications of inflation ceased at the end of November. MODVOLC thermal alerts became sporadic during November and ceased altogether on 2 December 2015 for more than five months.

MODVOLC thermal alerts for 2015. The MODVOLC thermal alerts captured for Piton de la Fournaise during 2015 show the differing locations of the four effusive eruptions (figure 98). The 4-14 February episode was located on the W side of the summit cone adjacent to Bory crater, in the W side of the Enclos Fouqué summit caldera. The 17-30 May episode extended farther E than that of the February event. A 1-km-long fissure opened in the NE part of the l'Enclos Fouqué caldera for the brief 31 July-1 August episode. Activity was concentrated on the S flank of the Dolomieu Crater during the lengthier 24 August-31 October effusive episode.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. MODVOLC thermal alerts for the four eruptive episodes of 2015 at Piton de la Fournaise. The 4-14 February activity was located on the W side of the summit cone adjacent to Bory crater, in the W side of the Enclos Fouqué summit caldera. The 17-30 May episode extended farther E than that of the February event. A 1-km-long fissure opened in the NE part of the l'Enclos Fouqué caldera during the 31 July-1 August. Activity was concentrated on the S flank of the Dolomieu Crater during the lengthier 24 August-31 October effusive period; only the first week of thermal activity is shown here. Courtesy of MODVOLC.

Sulfur Dioxide flux during 2015. Images captured by the OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument) on the Aura satellite showed significant SO2 plumes during three of the 2015 eruptive episodes, especially at the onset of the activity (figure 99). Dobson Unit (DU) values greater than 2 are shown as red pixels in the images. The largest plumes of SO2 captured during 2015 were after the effusive episodes had ended on 24 and 31 October 2015 (figure 100).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. Images of SO2 flux at Piton de la Fournaise during three of the eruptive episodes during 2015. Dobson Unit (DU) values greater than two are shown as red pixels. On 19 May 2015, the SO2 plume drifts W (top left). The plume captured on 31 July 2015 is drifting E (top right). The lower two images are the second day (25 August) and the last day (17 October) that effusive activity was reported by OVPF for that eruptive episode. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. Images of SO2 flux at Piton de la Fournaise on 24 and 31 October 2015. Courtesy of NASA GSFC. Top: The large, 7.88 DU plume drifts SE from Reunion Island on 24 October. Bottom: Another plume with 10.96 DU SO2 drifted W and N from the island on 31 October. Courtesy of NASA/GSFC.

Activity during 2016. Piton de la Fournaise experienced two effusive episodes in 2016, one occurred during 26-27 May, and the other during 11-18 September. The GPS networks detected evidence of inflation on 24 January 2016. This lasted until the second week of February when weak deflation was recorded. OVPF reported that CO2 gas emission, deformation, and seismicity began to slowly increase on 16 May, and then seismicity significantly increased at 1140 on 25 May. Tremor began at 0805 on 26 May, characteristic of an ongoing eruption, likely from a new fissure near Château Fort crater. Bad weather prevented visual observations of the area at first, though at 0900 ground observers confirmed a new eruption. Later that day scientists and reporters saw about six lava fountains (some were 40-50 m high) during brief aerial surveys and a cinder cone being built on a flat area at 1850 m elevation about 1-1.5 km SE of Castle Crater. On 27 May, tremor levels significantly dropped at 0845 and then ceased at 1100. Signals indicative of degassing continued. The lava fountains on 26 May were located on the SE flank of the main Dolomieu Crater south of the locations of both the May and August 2015 episodes (figure 101).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. The location of the highest elevation point of the 26 May 2016 effusive episode at Piton de la Fournaise is shown by the yellow pin (260515 should be 260516), as recorded that day by the Section Aerienne de la Gendarmerie (SAG, the French Air Force). In white and red, respectively, are the contours of the eruptions of May and August 2015 (Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 26 mai 2016 à 22h00).

Significant inflation continued after the 26-27 May eruption until mid-June (more than two centimeters between 27 May and 8 June) when it levelled off, and then began again in mid-July along with increased seismicity beginning on 13 July that lasted through the remainder of the month. OVPF reported that seismicity remained low during August. Gas emissions were also low and dominated by water vapor; CO2 emissions had been elevated during 21-27 July. Inflation had stopped in early August and slight deflation was detected through 2 September.

Seismicity increased on 10 September, and elevated levels of SO2 were detected at fumaroles. A seismic swarm occurred at 0735 on 11 September, characterized by several earthquakes per minute. Deformation suggested magma migrating to the surface. Volcanic tremor began at 0841, indicating the beginning of the eruption. Several fissures opened in the N part of the l'Enclos Fouqué caldera, between Puy Mi-côte and the July 2015 eruption site, and produced a dozen 15-30-m-high lava fountains distributed over several hundred meters. The eruption continued on the next day.

OVPF reported that volcanic tremor stabilized during 14-17 September. Field observations on 15 September revealed that the two volcanic cones that had formed on the lower part of the fissures had begun to coalesce (figure 102). Lava from the northernmost cone flowed N and NE, and by 0900 was active midway between Piton Partage and Nez Coupé de Sainte Rose. The height of the lava fountains grew in the afternoon, rising as high as 60 m, likely from activity ceasing at the southernmost cone and focusing at one main cone. On 16 September the main cone continued to build around a 50-m-high lava fountain; lava flows from this vent traveled NE. Tremor rose during the night on 17 September, and then fell sharply at 0418 on 18 September, indicating the end of surface activity. During 11-18 September, the erupted volume was an estimated 7 million cubic meters. By 26 September, earthquake frequency had decreased to less than five per day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. View of the eruptive site at Piton de la Fournaise on 15 September 2016 at 0930. The two cones are coalescing into one. Courtesy of OVPF/IPGP (copyright OVPF / IPGP; Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 15 septembre 2016 à 16h30).

Following the slight deflation observed during the eruption (11-18 September), inflation began again on 18 September, slowed significantly by 1 October and ceased by 6 October. Inflation resumed at the summit on 12 December, and increased summit seismicity was reported by OVPF on 22 December 2016.

Activity during January-May 2017. A return to background levels of seismicity (0-1 events per day) and a slowdown in inflation were reported on 9 January 2017. Inflation resumed on 22 January. This was interpreted by OVPF to represent the deep-seated magma supplies beginning to feed the surface reservoir about 1.5-2 km under the summit craters once again. Following a seismic swarm beginning at 1522 on 31 January, seismic tremor indicated that a new effusive eruption began at 1940 on 31 January.

Visual observations on 1 February confirmed that the active vent was located about 1 km SE of Château Fort and about 2.5 km ENE of Piton de Bert (figure 103). Lava fountains rose 20-50 m above the 10-m-high vent, and 'a'a lava flows branched and traveled 750 m (figure 104). Two other cracks had opened at the beginning of the eruption, but were no longer active. Tremor levels decreased in the early hours of the eruption; lava-fountain heights were variable (between 20-50 m).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. Topographic map showing the location of the 1 February 2017 eruption vent. Piton de Bert is located in the lower left (SW) corner at the caldera edge. The plot of the lava flows at 0830 is shown. Smaller red areas NW of flow are eruptive cracks that opened briefly at the beginning of the eruption. Base map courtesy of IGN, data courtesy of OVPF/IPGP (copyright OVPF / IPGP; Bulletin d'activité du mercredi 1 février 2017 à 17h00).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. The eruptive site at Piton de la Fournaise on 1 February 2017 at 0740. Courtesy of OVPF (copyright OVPF / IPGP; Bulletin d'activité du mercredi 1 février 2017 à 09h00).

On 2 February, two lava fountains at the vent were visible, and lava flows had traveled an additional 500 m E (figure 105). The vent was 128 m long and about 35 m high at the highest part. On 4 February OVPF noted that significant fluctuations of volcanic tremor were detected for more than 24 hours, with intensity levels reaching those observed at the onset of the eruption. Higher levels of seismicity continued through 7 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Thermal images of the Piton de la Fournaise eruptive site from 1 and 2 February 2017. Left and center are aerial views taken in on 2 February at 0845, and the right image is a ground view from 1 February at 1000. Courtesy of OVPF (copyright OVPF / IPGP; Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 2 février 2017 à 16h00).

OVPF reported that during 8-14 February volcanic tremor was high, with levels reaching those observed at the onset of the eruption on 31 January. The eruptive vent was perched on top of a cone that was 30-35 m high and 190 m wide at the base (figure 106). The lava level inside of the cone was low, or about half of cone's height, and incandescent material was ejected from the vent. Inflation stopped on 11 February. The lava flow reached its farthest extent on 10 February, almost 3 km SE of the vent (figures 107 and 108).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. The eruptive cone at Piton de la Fournaise on 10 February 2017 at 0850. The lava is exiting the cone from the side and then flowing SE. Courtesy of OVPF (copyright OVPF / IPGP; Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 10 février 2017 à 17h00).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. Approximate location of Piton de la Fournaise lava flows as of 10 February 2017 at 0850, interpreted from aerial photographs (IGN background map). Courtesy of OVPF (copyright OVPF / IPGP; Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 10 février 2017 à 17h00).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. The front of the lava flow at Piton de la Fournaise on 10 February at 0730. View is looking SE, see flow location on topographic map in figure 107. Courtesy of OVPF (copyright OVPF / IPGP; Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 10 février 2017 à 17h00).

Volcanic tremor fluctuated during 14-21 February. Observations made on the ground on 16 February by the observatory teams indicated that activity continued mainly in lava tubes. Only a few flows were visible a hundred meters downstream of the eruptive cone. A resumption of inflation was confirmed on 20 February.

During 25-26 February OVPF observers noted ejections of material from the active vent. A few skylights in the lava tubes were spotted. Late at night on 26 February tremor began to decline, and ceased at 1010 the next morning. Mid-day on 27 February observers confirmed that no material was being ejected from the vent, and that only white plumes were rising; gas emissions ceased at 1930. OVPF reported that the 28-day eruption at Piton de la Fournaise, beginning on 31 January and ending on 27 February, was estimated to have produced between 8 and 10 million cubic meters of lava. Although the eruption had ended on 27 February, inflation at the summit continued until about 7 March. It resumed at a low rate in mid-April, along with minor seismicity.

A new seismic swarm began at 1340 on 17 May and was accompanied by rapid deformation that suggested rising magma; volcanic tremor was recorded at 2010. The seismic and deformation activity was located in the NE part of l'Enclos Fouqué caldera. During an overflight at 1100 on 18 May scientists observed no surface activity at the base of the Nez Coupé de Sainte Rose rampart (on the N side of the volcano) nor outside of l'Enclos Fouqué caldera, and suggested that fractures opened but did not emit lava.

Seismicity increased again at 0400 on 18 May. The number of shallow (2 km depth) volcano-tectonic earthquakes progressively decreased over the next three days. During a field visit on 22 May scientists mapped the deformation associated with the 17 May event and measured displacements which did not exceed 35 cm. The 17-18 May activity resulted in two new zones of fumaroles that followed the trends seen in seismic and deformation data. Inflation stopped around mid-June, and seismicity was minimal for the remainder of the month.

MIROVA thermal data for 2016 and January-May 2017. Plots of thermal anomaly data by the MIROVA system correlated with the eruptive activity of 26-27 May 2016, 11-18 September 2016, and 31 January-27 February 2017 (figure 109). The thermal signatures of the September 2016 and February 2017 episodes show continued cooling of the new lava flows for several weeks after the effusive activity ceased.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. MIROVA data for Piton de la Fournaise from March 2016 through May 2017. The thermal signatures of the September 2016 and February 2017 events show continued cooling of the new lava flows for several weeks after the effusive activity ceased. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. The massive Piton de la Fournaise basaltic shield volcano on the French island of Réunion in the western Indian Ocean is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Much of its more than 530,000-year history overlapped with eruptions of the deeply dissected Piton des Neiges shield volcano to the NW. Three calderas formed at about 250,000, 65,000, and less than 5000 years ago by progressive eastward slumping of the volcano. Numerous pyroclastic cones dot the floor of the calderas and their outer flanks. Most historical eruptions have originated from the summit and flanks of Dolomieu, a 400-m-high lava shield that has grown within the youngest caldera, which is 8 km wide and breached to below sea level on the eastern side. More than 150 eruptions, most of which have produced fluid basaltic lava flows, have occurred since the 17th century. Only six eruptions, in 1708, 1774, 1776, 1800, 1977, and 1986, have originated from fissures on the outer flanks of the caldera. The Piton de la Fournaise Volcano Observatory, one of several operated by the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, monitors this very active volcano.

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 14 route nationale 3, 27 ème km, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Associated Press (URL: http://www.ap.org/); U.S. News (URL: https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2015/08/01/highly-active-volcano-erupts-on-reunion-amid-media-frenzy).


Kambalny (Russia) — July 2017 Citation iconCite this Report

Kambalny

Russia

51.306°N, 156.875°E; summit elev. 2116 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


First major eruption in over 600 years consists of large ash explosions during March-April 2017

The last major eruption at Kambalny volcano was around 1350, although younger undated tephra layers have been found; there are also five Holocene cinder cones on the W and SE flanks. According to the Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT), a new eruption began began at about 2120 UTC on 24 March 2017. Satellite data showed an initial ash plume at about 5-6 km altitude drifting about 35 km SW from the volcano.

Explosive activity was strong during 24-27 March, generating ash plumes up to 7 km high that drifted downwind as far as 2,000 km (table 1). Activity then decreased, with only minor ash emissions through 6 April, followed by ash plumes that drifted 50 and 170 km on 9 and 10 April, respectively. Only gas-and-steam plumes were reported after that time.

Table 1. Chronological details of the March-April 2017 eruption of Kambalny. Data from KVERT reports.

Date Time (UTC) Plume height (km) Drift (km) Other observations
24 Mar 2017 2250 5-6 35 SW Aviation Color Code Orange
25 Mar 2017 0053 5-6 100 SSW --
25 Mar 2017 0240 5-6 163 SSW --
25 Mar 2017 0409 5-7 255 SW --
25 Mar 2017 1250 5 550 SSW --
25 Mar 2017 1807 6 870 SSW --
25 Mar 2017 2250 5.5 930 S --
26 Mar 2017 0530 5 1,350 SSE --
26 Mar 2017 2131 3.5-4 670 SE --
27 Mar 2017 0041 5 830 SE --
27 Mar 2017 0347 4-4.5 425 SE --
27 Mar 2017 2119 4-5 51 W --
27-31 Mar 2017 -- 5-6 2,000 W to SE --
01 Apr 2017 -- -- 200 E, SE Quiet.
02-04 Apr 2017 -- 7 -- Minor ash emissions thru 6 Apr; satellite thermal anomaly 3-4 Apr.
09 Apr 2017 -- 7 50 NE --
10 Apr 2017 -- -- 170 SE --
12 Apr 2017 -- -- -- Gas-and-steam activity.
21-28 Apr 2017 -- -- -- Moderate activity.
05 May 2017 -- -- -- Aviation Color Code Yellow. Moderate gas-steam activity.
19 May 2017 -- -- -- Aviation Color Code Yellow Green. Only gas-steam activity during last month; explosive phase began 24 Mar, ended 10 Apr 2017.

On 25 March satellite imagery showed an ash plume stretching about 100 km SW of the Kamchatka Peninsula (figure 1). A dark stain is visible to the W of the plume, where ash has covered the snow. By 26 March ashfall had covered the ground on both sides of the volcano. The eruption was also observed on the ground by staff at the South Kamchatka Federal Wildlife Sanctuary (figure 2). The Ozone Monitoring Instrument on the Aura satellite observed an airborne plume of sulfur dioxide (SO2) trailing S of Kamchatka on 26 March 2017 (figure 3).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite captured a natural-color image of Kambalny and its plume on 25 March 2017, the day after it began to erupt (N to top of photo.) By 0134 UTC (1334 local time) that day, the plume stretched about 100 km SW. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory; image prepared by Jeff Schmatlz and Joshua Stevens using MODIS data from LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response, and caption by Pola Lem.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Eruption of Kambalny on 25 March 2017. Photo by Liana Varavskaya, South Kamchatka Federal Wildlife Sanctuary (URL: http://www.kronoki.ru/news/1187).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Sulfur dioxide in the 26 March 2017 plume from Kambalny eruption. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory; map by Joshua Stevens using data from the Aura OMI science team.

On 28 March 2017, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite acquired a natural-color image of an ash plume from Kambalny (figure 4), including a large area of ash-covered snow. When photographed by scientists on 12 April (figure 5), the entire edifice was covered by ash and there was a gas-and-steam plume rising from a crater fumarole.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Ash plume from Kambalny moving WNW on 28 March 2017. A large area of ash-covered snow is visible across the southern portion of the image. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory; image by Joshua Stevens using Landsat 8 OLI data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. A small gas-and-steam plume rises from a fumarole in the Kambalny crater on 12 April 2017. View is from the S. Photo by A. Sokorenko; courtesy of IVS FEB RAS.

Geologic Background. The southernmost major stratovolcano on the Kamchatka peninsula, Kambalny has a summit crater that is breached to the SE. Five Holocene cinder cones on the W and SE flanks have produced fresh-looking lava flows. Beginning about 6,300 radiocarbon years ago, a series of major collapses of the edifice produced at least three debris-avalanche deposits. The last major eruption took place about 600 years ago, although younger tephra layers have been found, and an eruption was reported in 1767. Active fumarolic areas are found on the flanks of the volcano, which is located south of the massive Pauzhetka volcano-tectonic depression.

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/); South Kamchatka Federal Wildlife Sanctuary, Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation, Kamchatka Territory 684000, Russia (URL: http://www.kronoki.ru/); NASA Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).


Lascar (Chile) — July 2017 Citation iconCite this Report

Lascar

Chile

23.37°S, 67.73°W; summit elev. 5592 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal anomaly persists until April 2017

The six overlapping summit craters of northern Chile's Lascar volcano have produced numerous lava flows down the NW flanks. Frequent small-to-moderate explosive eruptions since the mid-19th century, and infrequent larger eruptions, have produced ashfall hundreds of kilometers away. The largest historical eruption took place in 1993, producing pyroclastic flows to 8.5 km NW of the summit and ashfall in Buenos Aires. An explosion on 30 October 2015 produced an ash plume that rose 2.5 km above the 5.6 km high summit and drifted NE; this event also initiated a distinct thermal anomaly signal recorded by MIROVA that continued through June 2016 (BGVN 41:07). Continuous incandescence from the crater was seen for the next two months. The thermal anomaly did not begin to diminish until February 2017; details of activity through June 2017 are reported here with information primarily from Chile's Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería, (SERNAGEOMIN), and the Italian MIROVA project.

After the 30 October 2015 explosion, a persistent thermal anomaly appeared in the MIROVA data that maintained a near-constant level of activity through June 2016 (figure 49, BGVN 41:07). The MIROVA VRP (Volcanic Radiative Power) values remained steady with multiple weekly anomalies through January 2017 when they began to taper off in both frequency and intensity (figure 50). They were intermittent during February, persistent but at a lower level during March and into the first few days of April. A few anomalies appeared later in April, and one during mid-May 2017; there is no evidence to determine exactly when eruptive activity ended or the cause of the anomalies.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Thermal anomaly data from MIROVA (Log Radiative Power) at Lascar for the year ending on 12 June 2017. The thermal anomalies persisted at a steady rate and intensity from November 2015 (see figure 49, BGVN 41:07) through January 2017 when they began to decrease in both frequency and intensity, until they ceased in May 2017. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Throughout July 2016-June 2017, the local webcam showed persistent degassing of mostly steam plumes from the main crater, with plume heights ranging from 500-1,500 m above the summit (table 6). Although there were three pilot reports of ash emissions from Lascar on 22 and 25 September and 29 December 2016, in each case the Buenos Aires VAAC noted that there was no indication of volcanic ash in satellite images under clear skies; the webcam did show continuous emissions of steam and gas dissipating rapidly near the summit. Seismicity during this period varied from a low of three events during October 2016 to a high of 122 events during June 2017. Although there was an increase in the number of seismic events during April 2017, the total energy released remained low. Continuous incandescence at the crater was observed during October-December 2016.

Table 6. Seismic events, degassing information, and incandescence observed at Lascar from July 2016-June 2017. Information provided by SERNAGEOMIN monthly reports. Maximum height is meters above the 5,592 m elevation summit.

Month No of Seismic Events Degassing Maximum Height (m) Date of Maximum Height Incandescence Observed
Jul 2016 11 Steam 700 4 Jul --
Aug 2016 12 Steam 850 25 Aug --
Sep 2016 24 Steam 1,100 21 Sep --
Oct 2016 3 Steam 1,000 28 Oct Continuous
Nov 2016 7 Steam 1,500 4 Nov Continuous
Dec 2016 6 Steam 1,400 20 Dec Continuous
Jan 2017 13 Constant 800 6 Jan --
Feb 2017 36 Constant 650 19 Feb --
Mar 2017 19 Constant 600 5 Mar --
Apr 2017 112 Constant 600 29 Apr --
May 2017 97 Constant 560 8 May --
Jun 2017 122 Constant 500 1 Jun --

Geologic Background. Láscar is the most active volcano of the northern Chilean Andes. The andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcano contains six overlapping summit craters. Prominent lava flows descend its NW flanks. An older, higher stratovolcano 5 km E, Volcán Aguas Calientes, displays a well-developed summit crater and a probable Holocene lava flow near its summit (de Silva and Francis, 1991). Láscar consists of two major edifices; activity began at the eastern volcano and then shifted to the western cone. The largest eruption took place about 26,500 years ago, and following the eruption of the Tumbres scoria flow about 9000 years ago, activity shifted back to the eastern edifice, where three overlapping craters were formed. Frequent small-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the mid-19th century, along with periodic larger eruptions that produced ashfall hundreds of kilometers away. The largest historical eruption took place in 1993, producing pyroclastic flows to 8.5 km NW of the summit and ashfall in Buenos Aires.

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería, (SERNAGEOMIN), Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Avda Sta María No. 0104, Santiago, Chile ( URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/); 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/); Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Servicio Meteorológico Nacional-Fuerza Aérea Argentina, 25 de mayo 658, Buenos Aires, Argentina (URL: http://www.smn.gov.ar/vaac/buenosaires/inicio.php?lang=es).


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — July 2017 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes several times weekly, multiple episodes of dome growth and destruction, and high SO2 flux during January 2015-June 2016.

Frequent historical eruptions, first recorded in Aztec codices, have occurred since pre-Columbian time at México's Popocatépetl, the second highest volcano in North America. More recently, activity picked up in the mid-1990s after about 50 years of quiescence. The current eruption, which has been ongoing since January 2005, has included frequent ash plumes rising generally 1-4 km above the 5.4-km-elevation summit, and numerous episodes of lava-dome growth and destruction within the 500-m-wide summit caldera. Multiple ash emissions generally occur daily, with larger, more explosive events that generate ashfall in neighboring communities occurring several times each month. Information about Popocatépetl comes primarily from daily reports provided by México's Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED). Many ash emissions are also reported by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). Satellite visible and thermal imagery and SO2 data also provide important information about the character of the eruptive activity. Our last report covered activity through December 2014 (BGVN 40:02); this report covers 2015 and the first six months of 2016.

CENAPRED reported near-constant emissions of water vapor, gas, and minor ash during 2015 and January-June 2016. Ash plumes from larger explosions regularly occurred several times per day during the more active months, and a few times a week during the quieter months. Ashfall is sometimes reported within 40 km of the summit. The plumes generally rose to altitudes of 6.1-7.9 km, and occasionally higher. The prevailing winds most often sent the ash NE or E, but multi-direction plumes at different altitudes were also common. Incandescent tephra was ejected onto the flank within 1 km of the summit every month, and was reported 3.5 km from the summit after stronger activity on 3 April 2016. Sulfur dioxide emissions are persistent, with plumes drifting a hundred or more kilometers from the volcano observed regularly in satellite data. Two episodes of dome growth were reported in February and April 2015, and dome destruction was inferred during January 2016.

Activity during January-June 2015. During January 2015 CENAPRED reported at least 13 explosions with ash-bearing plumes, as well as near-constant emissions of water vapor and gas that sometimes contained ash. The ash plumes generally rose to 600-1,500 m above the summit crater (up to 6.9 km altitude) and drifted either E or NE. Incandescence from the crater was visible on most clear nights. The Washington VAAC issued two series of reports; ash emissions on 4 January were not observed in satellite imagery due to weather clouds, but the 17 January emission was observed via webcam and satellite images at 5.8 km altitude drifting E. There were 58 MODVOLC thermal alerts issued in January, all from the immediate vicinity of the summit crater; most days had multiple-pixel alerts. NASA's Global Sulfur Dioxide monitoring system captured nine days of SO2 emissions with values greater than two Dobson Units (DU), a measure of the molecular density of SO2 in the atmosphere. Values greater than 2 show as red pixels on the imagery created from the OMI on the Aura satellite (figure 69).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Sulfur dioxide plume from Popocatépetl on 15 January 2015 extending ENE from the summit over the Gulf of México. The gas is measured in Dobson Units (DU), the number of molecules in a square centimeter of the atmosphere. If you were to compress all of the sulfur dioxide in a column of the atmosphere into a flat layer at standard temperature and pressure (0° C and 1013.25 hPa), one Dobson Unit would be 0.01 millimeters thick and would contain 0.0285 grams of SO2 per square meter. The red pixels represent values >2 DU. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).

The volcano was very active during February 2015. CENAPRED reported that their seismic network recorded several hundred low-intensity events that were accompanied by steam-and-gas-emissions and usually contained ash. Numerous explosions were attributed to lava-dome growth. Ash plumes rose 1-2 km above the crater, generally drifting NE. Ashfall was reported a number of times in communities up to 50 km away, and incandescence at the summit was observed on many nights.

On 11 February, ashfall was reported in the city of Puebla (~50 km to the E) and in the municipalities of Juan C. Bonilla (30 km ENE), Domingo Arenas (22 km NE), Huejotzingo (27 km NE), and at the airport to the E. On 15 February, explosions generated ashfall in Huejotzingo, Domingo Arenas, Salvador el Verde (30 km NNE), San Felipe Teotlalcingo (26 km NNE), and Puebla. Five explosions generated ash plumes on 18 February (figure 70). On 21 February, there were 22 small explosions, some of which ejected tephra 200 m onto the NE flank. A series of explosions on 24 February ejected incandescent material as far as 700 m onto the NE and SE flanks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. Ash explosion from Popocatépetl on 18 February 2015. Webcam image courtesy of CENAPRED.

Additional explosions (19) detected on 25 February resulted in ashfall 20-37 km to the NE in San Martín Texmelucan (35 km NE), San Matías Tlalancaleca (35 km NE), San Salvador el Verde (29 km NE), Santa Rita Tlahuapan (34 km NNE), Tlaltenango, Huejotzingo, San Miguel Xoxtla (37 km NE), Domingo Arenas, Santa María Atexcac (20 km NE), and the Puebla airport (30 km NE). Explosions on 26 February ejected incandescent tephra 700 m onto the N and NE flanks; ashfall was again noted in Domingo Arenas, San Martín Texmelucan, and Huejotzingo in the state of Puebla. The international airport in Huejotzingo suspended operations to clean up the ash. On 27 February explosions generated ash emissions and again ejected incandescent tephra 300 m onto the flanks. Ashfall was reported in Huejotzingo, Domingo Arenas, Tlaltenango, San Andrés Cholula (33 km E), and Puebla. Two separate series of explosions were detected on 28 February, and more incandescent tephra was ejected 300 m onto the flanks.

During an overflight on 17 February, volcanologists observed a dome at the bottom of the inner crater, which formed in July 2013 and extends 100 m below the floor of the main crater. They identified this as dome number 55; it was 150 in diameter. On a second overflight on 27 February, volcanologists observed that the dome had grown and was filling the bottom of the inner crater (figure 71). The dome was 250 m in diameter and at least 40 m high, putting the top about 60 m above the bottom of the main crater floor. The volume was an estimated 1.96 million cubic meters. They also witnessed a small ash explosion from the inner crater (figure 71).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. The summit crater with dome 55 at Popocatépetl on 27 February 2015. The dome at the bottom of the inner crater was estimated to be 250 m in diameter and at least 40 m high (upper). CENAPRED scientists witnessed a small ash explosion from the inner crater during the overflight (lower). Courtesy of CENAPRED.

The Washington VAAC issued reports of ash emissions on 3 February, and during 11-16 and 24-28 February. Ash plumes identified in satellite imagery rose to altitudes of 6.1-6.7 km during 11-13 February and drifted as far as 5 km NE. On 24 February, a plume was seen extending about 15 km ENE from the summit at 6.7 km altitude. The next day an ash plume was observed in satellite imagery at 9.1 km altitude extending NE about 12 km from the summit. Later that day (25 February) it extended 300 km NE at 6.7 km altitude, out over the Gulf of México, before it dissipated. Additional emissions on 25 February occurred about every 60-90 minutes and drifted 130 km ENE at 8.2 km altitude. These bursts of ash continued moving ENE and finally dissipated about 170 km from the volcano. Plumes observed on 27 and 28 February in multispectral satellite images rose to 7-7.9 km altitude. A small area of faint ash from the 27 February emission was visible in images in the Gulf of México about 390 ENE of the summit late on 28 February, while a new emission was visible extending NE about 25 km. Twenty-five MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued most days during February (except 12-17). The OMI instrument on the AURA satellite captured 14 days of SO2 emissions with DU>2.

Activity continued at a high rate during March 2015, again with hundreds of emission events with gas, steam, and small quantities of ash (figure 72). Larger quantities of ash from multiple-per-week explosions rose 1-3 km above the summit and drifted N or NE. Incandescent tephra was ejected 100-800 m onto the N, NE, and SE flanks at least four times. A series of explosions on 7 March led to ashfall reported in Ecatzingo (15 km SW). On 9 March ashfall was reported in Amecameca (20 km NW), Ecatzingo (15 km SW), and Tepextlipa from explosions the previous day. A four-hour series of explosions on 24 March produced steam, gas, and ash emissions that rose 3 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. Ash emission from Popocatépetl on 2 March 2015. Webcam image courtesy of CENAPRED.

The Washington VAAC reported ash emissions every day during 1-5, 7-10, 19-21, and 24-26 March. During the first week, the plumes rose 6.1-7.6 km altitude, drifted NE, N, and NW, and were usually visible for about 100 km from the summit before dissipating. On 8 March, two plumes drifted in opposite directions: one went 15 km ENE at 7 km altitude and one drifted 45 km W at 5.6 km altitude. During the second half of March, the plumes drifted generally NE, at altitudes of 6.1-7.3 km, tens of kilometers before dissipating. Only 11 MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued in March; SO2 data showed four days with DU>2, although SO2 plumes were visible in satellite data almost every day.

Hundreds of daily ash emissions were noted by CENAPRED during April 2015. Ash plumes generally drifted N or NE at 1-3 km above the summit crater, but occasionally they drifted W or SW. Incandescence was often noted at night. Incandescent tephra was ejected several hundred meters onto the flanks during 4-6 April, and again on 18 and 20 April. The only ashfall reported during the month was in Tetela and Ocuituco (both about 22 km SW) after ash-bearing explosions during 3-4 April.

During an overflight on 10 April (figure 73), scientists confirmed that a lava dome had been emplaced in the bottom of the crater between 24 March and 4 April. The lava dome was at least 250 m in diameter and 30 m high. The surface of the dome had concentric fractures and the central part was collapsed from deflation.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. During an overflight on 10 April 2015, CENAPRED scientists confirmed that a lava dome had been emplaced in the bottom of the inner summit crater at Popocatépetl between 24 March and 4 April. Courtesy of CENAPRED.

The Washington VAAC issued aviation alerts during 1, 3-8, 13, and 18-21 April. On 3 April volcanic ash was observed moving SE from the summit at 8.2 km altitude. The plume extended over 150 km before dissipating later in the day. Another plume the same day rose to 9.1 km altitude and drifted 55 km NE. During 4 and 5 April, ongoing emissions at various altitudes from 6.1 to 9.1 km drifted in multiple directions for tens of kilometers before dissipating. Most of the alerts were for brief, intermittent emissions that dissipated within 20 km of the summit after a few hours. On 7 April one ash cloud drifted 45 km SSE and another drifted 100 km SE, both at 7.6 km altitude. An ash emission on 13 April traveled around 260 km E at 7.3 km altitude before dissipating. The plumes observed during 18-21 April ranged from 6.7 to 9.7 km in altitude, and mostly drifted NE or E. There were 20 MODVOLC thermal alerts issued during April, scattered throughout the month. Most days during April had SO2 plumes with values >2 DU in the satellite data.

Ashfall was reported in San Pedro Benito Juárez (10-12 km SE), in the municipality of Atlixco Puebla on 2 May 2015, and in Ocuituco (24 km SW) on 22 May. On 26 May ashfall was reported in Tetela del Volcán (20 km SW) and slight ashfall was recorded in Amozoc, Puebla (60 km E) on 31 May. The ongoing explosions generated ash emissions that generally rose 0.5-2.5 km above the crater rim and sent plumes to the SW, SE, and E (figure 74). Nighttime crater incandescence was observed on most clear nights.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Ash emission at Popocatépetl on 30 May 2015. Webcam image courtesy of CENAPRED.

Although aviation alerts from the Washington VAAC were issued during 9 days of May (2, 10, 20-21, 25-26, 28, and 30-31), plumes were only visible in satellite images a few times. The highest plume was on 20 May, at 8.2 km altitude drifting SSW. The plume on 26 May was observed drifting NW at 6.1 km, extending 150 km from the summit. Only four MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued during 10, 19, 21 and 30 May, but strong SO2 plumes (>2 DU values) were recorded 12 times, with just as many days showing smaller-magnitude plumes.

Activity was much quieter at Popocatépetl during June 2015. Only six VAAC reports were issued (during 7-8, 12, and 21-22), and only two were identified in satellite images. The plume on 7 June rose to 8.2 km altitude and drifted SW. The larger plume on 12 June came from multiple small emissions; it rose to 6.1 km altitude and was last seen at 55 km SW of the summit before dissipating. There were seven MODVOLC thermal alerts on seven different days during June, and 17 different days with SO2 plumes with recorded values >2 Dobson Units.

Activity during July-December 2015. Multiple daily emissions, nighttime incandescence, and intermittent explosions continued during July 2015 (figure 75). Nine MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued, but they were concentrated during 6-8 and 26-31 July. The Washington VAAC issued alerts on 8, 10, and 11 July, and then during a second period from 24 to 28 July. The report on 8 July noted an ash emission at 7.6 km altitude extending 15 km SW from the summit. The report on 10 July noted that ashfall had been reported about 10 km NW of the summit, but cloudy skies prevented satellite observations. Reports issued during 24-28 July included satellite observations of emissions at 6.1 to 7.6 km altitude extending 25-45 km NE or W from the summit before dissipating. The SO2 emissions during July were visible nearly every day in the satellite data, with 16 days having values >2 DU.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Ash emission on 17 July 2015 from Popocatépetl. Webcam image courtesy of CENAPRED.

Sulfur dioxide emissions during August 2015 were also visible in satellite imagery nearly every day. Six days had values >2 DU. There were no Washington VAAC reports during August, but there were ten MODVOLC thermal alerts issued throughout the month.

The number of daily emissions during September 2015 were far fewer than during January-July 2015, although crater incandescence was still observed. The Washington VAAC only issued three reports, all during 19-20 September. They observed an ash emission on 19 September at 6.7 km altitude that extended 45 km WNW from the summit for a few hours before dissipating (figure 76). Ten MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued in September, and SO2 plumes were visible daily with values >2 DU on half the days of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Ash emission from Popocatépetl on 19 September 2015. Webcam image courtesy of CENAPRED.

Ash emissions increased again during October 2015. Ash-bearing plumes rose as high as 2 km above the crater. The Washington VAAC issued reports of ash plumes on 12 different days. An ash plume observed on 2 October at 7.6 km altitude extended 185 km SW before dissipating; another plume on 20 October was identified in satellite images at 8.5 km altitude drifting NW, and was visible from México City. Eighteen MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued throughout the month, and strong SO2 plumes were detected nearly every day in OMI satellite data.

Activity during November 2015 was similar to that during October. CENAPRED recorded tens of daily emissions of water vapor, gas, and minor amounts of ash. Explosions at regular intervals sent ash plumes 1-3 km above the summit, and incandescent material was deposited on the flanks within 1 km of the crater a number of times (figure 77). The Washington VAAC issued aviation alerts almost daily during 1-17 November, but none after that for the rest of the year. Most of the ash plumes reached 6.1-7.3 km altitude and drifted N, NE, SW, W, and S for a few tens of kilometers before dissipating. The plume on 7 November rose to 9.1 km and was visible as a dark feature above the weather clouds before it dissipated.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Incandescent material showers the flanks of Popocatépetl from an explosion during the early morning hours of 17 November 2015. Webcam image courtesy of CENAPRED.

While ash plume observations decreased during the second half of November and during December, MODVOLC thermal alerts increased in number. Thirty-three appeared during November, and 35 during December. Plumes of SO2 were persistently visible in Aura/OMI satellite data both months.

Activity during January-June 2016. A series of explosive events during 2-8 January 2016 resulted in 13 aviation alerts from the Washington VAAC. An ash plume first reported in satellite data early on 6 January was drifting E at 6.4 km altitude. By late the next day, VAAC reports indicated that the plume was still visible over 1,000 km E before it finally dissipated. A new series of explosive events began on 20 January (figure 78) and lasted through 26 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Ash explosion at Popocatépetl on 20 January 2016. Webcam image courtesy of CENAPRED.

CENAPRED reported that on 23 January 2016 an increase in activity was characterized by continuous gas-and-ash emissions, likely related to the destruction of a recently-formed lava dome. Later that night cameras recorded incandescent fragments ejected during periods of emissions. The constant steam-and-ash emissions drifted E and ENE for more than 48 hours at altitudes from 6.1 to 8.2 km. By 25 January, an ash plume was still visible over 900 km E. NASA Earth Observatory posted a satellite image of the plume around 1930 UTC (1330 local time) (figure 79). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center also captured an image of a strong SO2 plume drifting NE from Popocatépetl at the same time (figure 80). Twenty-six MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 15 days of January. Especially strong SO2 plumes were visible on 6, 7, 23, and 25 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Popocatépetl emits an ash plume on 25 January 2016 that extends over 300 km E over the Gulf of México. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this image at 1930. Image prepared by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response using VIIRS data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership. Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Defense. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. A strong SO2 plume drifting over 500 km NE from Popocatépetl was captured by the OMI instrument on the AURA satellite during 1918-2015 UTC on 25 January 2016. A visible infrared image was acquired within this same period (see figure 79). Courtesy of NASA GSFC.

Tens of daily emissions of water vapor, gas, and ash were reported during February 2016, along with multiple daily explosions generating ash plumes and occasionally sending tephra onto the flank. The Washington VAAC issued aviation alerts on twelve days during the month. They were discrete events that sent ash plumes generally E or SE at altitudes between 6 and 7 km, and generally dissipated within 6 hours, tens of kilometers from the summit. An ash plume reported on 15 February was still visible 500 km E of the summit before it dissipated. MODVOLC thermal alerts were reported on 10 days during the month, SO2 plumes were more intermittent and only exceeded 2 DU on four days.

The largest ash explosion events during March 2016 took place at the end of the month. On 27 March, an ash plume was spotted by the Washington VAAC extending about 100 km NE at 6.4 km altitude. Explosions on 29 March created an ash plume at 9.1 km altitude moving rapidly ESE (figure 81). Ashfall from the plume caused Puebla's airport to close from 2000 on 29 March to 0600 on 30 March. The plume fanned out and extended tens of kilometers to both the S and SE before dissipating. On 31 March an explosion produced an ash plume that rose 1.8 km and drifted ENE; incandescent fragments fell 1 km away on the ESE flank. Thermal alerts were issued by MODVOLC on 13 days of March, and SO2 plumes were visible about the same number of days, but values did not exceed 2 DU.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. An ash plume at Popocatépetl on 29 March 2016. Webcam image courtesy of CENAPRED.

On 2 April 2016 CENAPRED scientists conducted an overflight of the crater and observed the inner crater which was 325 m in diameter and 50 m deep (figure 82). The crater had previously been filled with a lava dome, destroyed in January, which had grown to an estimated volume of 2,000,000 cubic meters. Small landslides had occurred on the E wall of the inner crater. During 3 April, incandescent fragments were ejected as far as 3.5 km onto the E and SE flanks, generating fires in that part of the forest; authorities noted that the event was the largest explosion in three years. Ash fell in the towns of Juan C. Bonilla (32 km ENE) and Coronango (35 km ENE), both in the state of Puebla. The Washington VAAC reported numerous ash plumes during 1-9 April. The highest, on 1 April, was observed in satellite data at 9.7 km altitude, extending over 300 km NE over the Gulf of México. The other plumes were mostly observed between 6.4 and 8.5 km altitude, drifting E or NE.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. The inner crater at Popocatépetl on 2 April 2016. CENAPRED scientists estimated that it was 325 m in diameter and 50 m deep. The previous lava dome was destroyed during January 2016. Courtesy of CENAPRED.

Strombolian activity on 18 April ejected incandescent fragments 1.6 km onto the NE flank, and ash plumes rose 3 km above the crater and drifted ENE. Ashfall was reported in San Pedro Benito Juárez (12 km SE), San Nicolás de los Ranchos (15 km ENE), Tianguismanalco (17 km E), San Martín Texmelucan (35 km NNE), and Huejotzingo (27 km NE). According to a news article, the airport in Puebla closed again due to the ash plumes. Thermal alerts from MODVOLC were recorded on 13 days during the month, and SO2 plumes were visible in the Aura/OMI data almost every day.

Activity continued at slightly lower levels during May 2016 with VAAC reports issued on nine days. The ash plumes reported all dissipated quickly within a few tens of kilometers of the summit after drifting E at altitudes generally around 6.4 to 6.7 km. Single MODVOLC alerts were reported on only six days during the month, and except for a large SO2 plume on 3 May, small plumes were visible about 8 days of the month.

An increase in the number of daily explosions with ash emissions was reported by CENAPRED during June 2016. As many as six a day were reported during the second week of the month. An explosion on 12 June produced an ash plume that rose 2.5 km and drifted W (figure 83). Minor amounts of ash fell in Ozumba (18 km W). Aviation alerts were issued by the Washington VAAC on 13 days. Most of the ash plumes dissipated within six hours a few tens of kilometers from the summit due to high winds. The plumes rose to altitudes between 6.1 and 7.9 km, and drifted NE, W and SW. The ash plume reported on 23 June extended NE 16 km at 7.3 km altitude, and 26 km SW at 5.8 km altitude simultaneously. Thermal alerts from the MODVOLC system were reported on 1, 8, and 25 June. SO2 satellite data was only available for the second half of the month, and showed two days with significant SO2 plumes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Explosion with ash plume at Popocatépetl on 12 June 2016. Webcam image courtesy of CENAPRED.

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: https://www.gob.mx/cenapred/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); NASA Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).


Reventador (Ecuador) — July 2017 Citation iconCite this Report

Reventador

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava flow emerges from summit cone, January 2016; continued explosions, pyroclastic flows, and ash emissions

The andesitic Volcán El Reventador lies well east of the main volcanic axis of the Cordillera Real in Ecuador and has historical observations of eruptions with numerous lava flows and explosive events going back to the 16th century. The largest historical eruption took place in November 2002 and generated a 17-km-high eruption cloud, pyroclastic flows that traveled 8 km, and several lava flows. From June 2014-December 2015, monthly eruptive activity included ash plumes, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and ejected incandescent blocks (BGVN 42:06). Similar activity during January-April 2016 is described below with information provided by the Instituto Geofisico-Escuela Politecnicia Nacional (IG) of Ecuador, and the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Almost daily eruptive activity continued during January-April 2016. Steam and gas emissions, usually containing minor amounts of ash, were visible at the summit crater on most clear days rising 500-1,000 m above the 3.6-km-high summit. Explosions sent incandescent blocks 500-1,500 m down all flanks several times each month. Pyroclastic flows also traveled similar distances down the flanks a few times each month. A lava flow was observed descending the N flank of the summit cone on 28 January 2016.

Steam and gas emissions, usually with minor amounts of ash, rose daily from the summit crater during January 2016. Plumes generally rose 500-1,000 m and drifted NW or W. A pyroclastic flow descended 1,000 m down the NE flank on 5 January. Loud explosions were heard in the community of El Reventador (15 km E) on 6 and 7 January, and plumes were observed 1.5 km above the crater. The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission moving SW on 9 January at 4.6 km altitude; it extended 65 km SW before dissipating. The Guayaquil Meteorological Weather Office (MWO) reported an ash emission on 12 January at 6.7 km altitude, but extensive cloud cover prevented satellite observation.

The Washington VAAC observed emissions in satellite imagery moving 25 km NW on 15 and 16 January at about 4.9 km altitude. Technical crews performing maintenance on 15 January observed and documented several explosions with ash plumes that reached 2 km above the summit (about 5.5 km altitude) and observed a pyroclastic flow that moved 500 m down the N flank (figure 53). They also noted pyroclastic deposits that had been emplaced during recent weeks along the N flank. Small pyroclastic flows during the night of 18 January descended the flanks of the cone for 1,000 m. Additional explosions the next day sent blocks down the SW flank. On 21 January, incandescent blocks traveled 1,200 m down the W flank; on 27 January, they were observed 500 m below the summit crater. The Washington VAAC observed a hotpot in infrared imagery on 24 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Activity at Reventador on 15 January 2016 was documented by technicians working on monitoring equipment. Top: an ash column reached 1.5 to 2 km above the summit during the afternoon. Bottom: A pyroclastic flow traveled 500 m down the flank as seen in this thermal image. Top photo by J. Córdoba, courtesy of IG-EPN (Actualization de la Actividad eruptive del volcán Reventador Informe 2016-1).

On 28 January 2016, IG conducted an overflight and observed pulsing fumarolic activity producing plumes with low to moderate ash emissions drifting W. They noted pyroclastic flow deposits on all the flanks that did not go beyond the foot of the active cone. They also witnessed an active lava flow descending the N flank, emerging from a vent on the N side of the summit of the cone (figure 54). Thermal measurements were taken at the N vent (501°C ), the central vent (372.8°C), and the base of the flow (324.6°C) (figure 55). MODVOLC thermal alerts were reported on eight days during January (6, 9 (4), 14, 16 (3), 18 (3), 25 (2), 27 (3), 29, 31).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. A lava flow descends the N flank of the summit cone at Reventador on 28 January 2016 as seen during an overflight by IG. The lava is emerging from a vent on the N side of the summit 'Vento Norte,' distinct from the vent at the center of the summit 'Vento Central.' Photo by M Almeida, courtesy of IG-EPN (Resumen de las Observaciones efectuadas durante el vuelo efectuado el 28 de enero de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Closeup view of the 28 January 2016 lava flow at Reventador showing the temperature values from three different locations. The temperature at the central vent was 372.8°C, at the N vent from which the flow emerged it was 501°C, and 324.6°C at the base of the flow. The points of thermal measurement are shown in the corresponding photograph on the right. Minor gas emissions drifted W. Thermal image by P. Ramón, photograph by M. Almeida, courtesy of IG-EPN (Resumen de las Observaciones efectuadas durante el vuelo efectuado el 28 de enero de 2016).

Reventador was quieter during February 2016 than in January. Steam and gas emissions with minor ash were observed often, with emissions generally below 500 m above the crater. Incandescent blocks observed on 4 February were 1,000 m below the summit crater. The Washington VAAC reported ash emissions visible in satellite imagery on 5 February moving SSW, extending about 25 km at 4.3 km altitude (about 700 m above the summit crater); they also observed incandescence at the crater. Incandescence was again observed on 6 and 7 February; blocks traveled 700 m down the SW flank on 13 February. A diffuse, narrow plume of ash was drifting NW from the summit on 14 February at 4.6 km altitude. The Guayaquil MWO reported an ash plume at 6.1 km altitude moving W on 23 February, but weather clouds obscured views in satellite imagery. Although it was cloudy on 27 February, loud explosions were heard during the night. MODVOLC thermal alerts were reported on seven days of the month; 1 (3), 3 (5), 5 (4), 6, 14 (3), 19, and 26 (3).

Tourists visiting the Hostería el Reventador observed steam, gas, and ash emissions on 2 March 2016. On many clear days during March, emissions of steam with minor ash were observed rising 1 km above the summit crater, drifting NW, W or SW. Incandescence and pyroclastic flows were seen much more frequently than during February. A pyroclastic flow traveled down the SE flank on 5 March. Explosions that afternoon sent incandescent blocks 1,200 m down the E and SE flanks. This activity continued through 9 March with blocks traveling daily 500-1,000 m down the flanks. On 9 March, ash emissions rose to 1 km above the crater and drifted NW; morning explosions sent blocks 1,200 m down the flanks and a small pyroclastic flow was observed that night. Explosions with steam and ash rising 1 km above the summit were observed on 10 March. Incandescence at the summit, and blocks rolling up to 1,500 m down the flanks were observed on most clear nights during the second half of March. A pyroclastic flow on 20 March descended 2 km down the SW flank. Steam and ash were reported drifting W 1 km above the crater on 21 March.

The Guayaquil MWO reported ash emissions on 7 March to 4.9 km, but weather clouds prevented observations by the Washington VAAC. On 10 March, ash emissions were confirmed in satellite imagery at 6.1 km altitude drifting W. The MWO reported ash emissions at 6.4 km altitude on 15 March, but weather clouds again prevented satellite observation. Webcam images showed ash emissions on 18 March at 4.3 km altitude drifting NW. The next day, the Washington VAAC was able to observe emissions in both satellite imagery and the webcam drifting W at 5.5 km altitude. Possible emissions on 31 March were also obscured by weather clouds. MODVOLC thermal alerts were reported on 7 days during March; 6, 15 (2), 16 (2), 22 (4), 26 (4), 29, 31.

Explosions that sent incandescent blocks down the flanks were observed nine times during April 2016, on days 3, 4, 7, 9, 12, 19, 23, 25, and 26. They generally travelled 1,000 m or more down various flanks. They were observed 2,000 m down the SW flank after a large explosion on 23 April. Pyroclastic flows were observed three times. On 6 April they traveled 1,500 m down the NW flank; on 13 and 21 April they traveled 1,000 m down the E flank. Steam and gas emissions were observed on most clear days, and generally contained minor amounts of ash. The plumes usually rose 300 to 800 m above the summit and drifted W, but on 13 and 18 April they rose 2 km above the summit, according to INSIVUMEH.

The Washington VAAC reported a possible ash emission on 4 April drifting NW at 4.3 km altitude based on a brief emission witnessed from the webcam. Weather clouds prevented satellite imagery views. There were also reports of volcanic ash at 6.7 km altitude drifting SE on 12 April, but both the webcam and satellite imagery were obscured by clouds. Observers reported an ash plume moving NE at 5.5 km altitude the next day. Ash emissions were reported moving NW at 5.8 km altitude on 29 April, but weather clouds again obscured satellite imagery. MODVOLC thermal alerts were reported on 8 days of April: 3, 11 (2), 14 (2), 19 (2), 20, 25 (4), 26 (3), 30.

Geologic Background. Reventador is the most frequently active of a chain of Ecuadorian volcanoes in the Cordillera Real, well east of the principal volcanic axis. The forested, dominantly andesitic Volcán El Reventador stratovolcano rises to 3562 m above the jungles of the western Amazon basin. A 4-km-wide caldera widely breached to the east was formed by edifice collapse and is partially filled by a young, unvegetated stratovolcano that rises about 1300 m above the caldera floor to a height comparable to the caldera rim. It has been the source of numerous lava flows as well as explosive eruptions that were visible from Quito in historical time. Frequent lahars in this region of heavy rainfall have constructed a debris plain on the eastern floor of the caldera. The largest historical eruption took place in 2002, producing a 17-km-high eruption column, pyroclastic flows that traveled up to 8 km, and lava flows from summit and flank vents.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).


San Miguel (El Salvador) — July 2017 Citation iconCite this Report

San Miguel

El Salvador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Six small ash emission events during January 2015-June 2017

Volcán de San Miguel (Chaparrastique), in southern El Salvador, was active with several flank lava flows during the 17th-19th centuries, but recent activity has consisted of occasional ash eruptions from the summit crater. The beginning of the most recent eruption on 29 December 2013 resulted in a large ash plume that rose to 9.7 km altitude, and dispersed ash to many communities within 30 km of the volcano (BGVN 40:08). Intermittent ash plumes lasted through 28 July 2014. This report covers activity from January 2015 through June 2017, and describes six small ash emission events during this time. Information about San Miguel comes from the the Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN) of El Salvador, and the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Six ash-bearing explosions occurred at San Miguel between January 2015 and June 2017. Otherwise, minor seismicity and pulses of gas-and-steam emissions were the primary type of activity. The explosion on 26 January 2015 sent a plume 300 m above the crater, drifting SW. An explosion on 11 April 2015 resulted in an ash plume rising about 800 m above the crater that also drifted SW. Trace amounts of ash were emitted on 13 August 2015. The largest explosion of the period took place on 12 January 2016, when an ash plume drifting W caused ashfall as far as 25 km away, and the plume was ultimately visible as far as 300 km from the volcano. Incandescence was observed at the base of the 900-m-high eruptive column that appeared on 18 June 2016. Minor ash emissions were reported on 7 January 2017 drifting 130 km SW from San Miguel. Minor seismic swarms and steam-and-gas plumes were reported during February-June 2017.

Activity during 2015. After very little activity other than slightly elevated RSAM values since July 2014, a small ash-bearing explosion occurred on 26 January 2015 (figure 18). The ash plume rose about 300 m above the crater and drifted SW, dissipating quickly. Trace amounts of ash fell in the Piedra Azul area about 6 km SW of the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Gas-and-steam emissions at San Miguel on 26 January 2015, after an ash-bearing explosion that occurred earlier in the day. Courtesy of MARN (Informe Especial No. 8. Continúa constante emanación de gases del volcán Chaparrastique January 27, 2015 at 11:21 am).

Another emission lasting for 20 minutes on 22 February 2015 sent a column of gas 300 m above the crater that dispersed to the SSW; no ash was observed. Occasional pulses of gas were reported during March rising 200 m above the summit crater. An explosion on 11 April 2015 resulted in an ash plume rising about 800 m above the crater and drifting SW. Local observers reported a millimeter of ashfall in the areas of La Piedra, Morita, and San Jorge, less than 10 km to the SW.

Occasional small pulses of gas that rose to about 200 m above the crater were typical behavior during May-July (figure 19). On 13 August 2015, the webcam captured a gas plume emission that contained minor amounts of ash and rose 200-300 m above the crater. A millimeter of ashfall was reported in San Jorge, and near the communities of Moritas and Piedrita to the SW. No emissions were reported during September, and the small pulses of gas observed during October did not exceed 200 m above the summit crater. No anomalous activity was reported during November, and small discrete pulses of gas were the only activity reported for December 2015.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Diffuse degassing from the summit crater at San Miguel on 24 June 2015. Courtesy of MARN (Informe Mensual de Monitoreo Volcánico Junio, 2015).

Activity during 2016. San Miguel began the year with what MARN described as a VEI 1 eruption of ash and gas on 12 January 2016 (figure 20). Periodic pulses of ash and gas lasting 3-5 minutes rose to less than 1,000 m above the crater and drifted WSW. Ashfall was reported from La Piedra, Moritas, La Placita, San Jorge, (all less than 10 km SW), San Rafael Oriente (10 km SW), Alegría (25 km NW) and Berlin in Usulután (21 km SW).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Ash eruption at San Miguel in the early morning of 12 January 2016. Image from the MARN webcam on the N side of the volcano. Courtesy of MARN (Informe Mensual de Monitoreo Volcánico Enero, 2016).

NASA Earth Observatory captured images of two pulses of ash from the 12 January eruption that show the changing direction of the plume (figure 21). The first image, taken at 1635 (UTC) shows the ash plume headed directly W. The second image, taken three hours later at 1935 shows the active plume drifting SW, with the earlier plume segment farther to the W over the Pacific Ocean. The Washington VAAC reported the ash emission at 2.4 km altitude (300 m above the summit crater) drifting WSW at 1745 (UTC). At that time, the denser part of the plume extended 45 km from the volcano and the diffuse, wispy plume extended 130 km WSW. By midday on 13 January, the Washington VAAC reported ongoing emissions and that the plume extended 300 km SW. The plume was no longer visible in satellite images by the end of the day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors on NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites acquired these natural-color images of ash streaming from San Miguel on 12 January 2016. Terra captured the upper image at 1035 local time (1635 UTC) which shows the ash plume drifting W; Aqua captured the lower image three hours later at 1335 local time (1935 UTC), and it shows the SW drift of the plume with the older remnant to the W over the Pacific Ocean. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Seismicity declined during 12-14 January 2016. On 15 January, local observers reported a millimeter of ash deposited in Las Cruces on the N flank. Gas emissions during 17-18 January were weak, only rising 150 m. At 0900 on 18 January, the emission plume became dark and drifted SW. By the next crater inspection on 19 February, MARN scientists noted only minor degassing from the summit crater.

Although a period of volcanic tremor occurred on 8 March 2016, only short pulses of gas were observed that did not rise more than 150 m above the crater. Another spike in seismicity occurred on 3 April, but no gas or ash emissions were observed. Otherwise, only minor pulses of gas issued from the crater during February through May. A seismic swarm indicating rock fracturing at depth on 31 May could have resulted in trace amounts of ash deposited within the crater, but cloudy weather prevented observations. A few pulses of gas were observed from the webcam other times during May.

Seismic activity increased significantly during the second week in June. An explosion in the early morning of 18 June 2016 lasted about 60 seconds, and sent an ash emission to about 900 m above the crater (figure 22). Incandescence was observed within the eruptive column, and the debris fell about 100 m down the N flank. Ashfall of less than half a millimeter was reported in the El Volcan area about 7 km NE of the crater. The volcanologist who examined the ash determined that it was juvenile material from a magmatic explosion. A continuous column of steam-and-gas issued from the crater until 29 June (figure 23). During this time, local observers and officials from the Civil Protection of San Jorge reported sulfur odors and slight acid rain damage to the vegetation in the La Morita, La Piedrita, La Ceiba, and LACAYO farms, located about 4 km W of the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. The pre-dawn eruption of 18 June 2016 at San Miguel photographed from the MARN webcam. The ash emission rose to about 900 m above the summit crater. Courtesy of MARN (Informe Mensual de Monitoreo Volcánico Junio, 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Gas plumes from San Miguel during the second half of June 2016 caused acid rain damage to vegetation W of the volcano. Upper image from the MARN webcam taken on 24 June 2016. The lower image was taken at 0800 on 27 June near Las Moritas, about 5 km WSW of the crater by Antonio Saravia. Courtesy of MARN (Informe Mensual de Monitoreo Volcánico Junio, 2016).

Seismic activity was slightly elevated during the first half of July 2016, but otherwise only small pulses of gas were observed from the crater. Low-level activity continued from the summit crater during August. On 29 August, however, a seismic signal indicative of a lahar was noted near the VSM (Santa Isabel) seismic station, but no damage was reported. Periodic pulses of gases were noted during September 2016. A 20-minute-long seismic signal on 5 September indicated another lahar passing near seismic station VSM, but no damage was reported. GPS measurements during September indicated deformation of a few millimeters on the N flank. No explosions were reported during October-December 2016, only small plumes of steam and gas were observed (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Steam-and-gas plumes blowing SW from San Miguel during December 2016. Image taken by the webcam located at the El Pacayal (Chinameca) volcano about 8 km S. Courtesy of MARN (Informe Mensual de Monitoreo Volcánico Diciembre, 2016).

Activity during January-June 2017. On 7 January 2017, the Washington VAAC reported minor volcanic ash emissions from San Miguel at 2.6 km altitude extending SW about 130 km from the summit. Mild degassing continued during February and March. A brief seismic swarm occurred on 17 April 2017, but no explosions of gas or ash were observed in the webcam. A strong gas plume rose 1.2 km above the crater rim on 27 April. Seismicity decreased during May. Other than small gas plumes, the only activity reported during June 2017 was a slight increase in seismicity beginning on 12 June and lasting to the end of the month.

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

Information Contacts: Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN), Km. 5½ Carretera a Nueva San Salvador, Avenida las Mercedes, San Salvador, El Salvador (URL: http://www.snet.gob.sv/ver/vulcanologia); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html).


Santa Maria (Guatemala) — July 2017 Citation iconCite this Report

Santa Maria

Guatemala

14.757°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuous ash emissions, pyroclastic flows and lahars; new lava dome visible at Caliente dome, October 2016

The dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex on the W flank of Guatemala's Santa María volcano has been growing since 1922. The youngest of the four vents in the complex, Caliente, has been actively erupting with ash explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lava flows for more than 40 years. Constant steam and magmatic gases during January-June 2016 were accompanied by some of the largest explosive events of the last few years in April and May. Ash plumes rose to over 5 km altitude and spread ash regularly over communities within 30 km (BGVN 41:09). Guatemala's INSIVUMEH (Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meterologia e Hidrologia) and the Washington VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center) provided regular updates on the continuing activity during the second half of 2016, and are the primary sources of information for this report.

Constant emission of both steam and magmatic gas were observed from the summit of Caliente dome throughout July-December 2016. Overall, eruptive activity decreased during this period compared with the previous six months. During July-September, INSIVUMEH reported 3-5 daily weak or moderate explosions with ash plumes that rose to 3.3-3.5 km altitude and dispersed ash over communities generally to the SW within 30 km. Stronger explosions took place 5-10 times each month from July-September. The ash plumes from these larger explosions usually rose to 5-5.5 km altitude. The highest plume was reported by the Washington VAAC at 6.1 km altitude during August. Ash plumes drifted more than 100 km from the volcano on several occasions, and ashfall was reported more than 50 km away more than once. These larger explosions also produced numerous pyroclastic flows that descended into the drainages on the SE, S, and SW flanks of Caliente dome. Heavy rains resulted in substantial lahars generated from the ash and debris several times each month.

INSIVUMEH observed the growth of a new lava dome inside the summit crater of Caliente beginning in October. By the end of the year, it had filled more than half of the summit crater with new material. During October, November, and the first part of December, the number of smaller explosions to around 3.5 km altitude increased to 25-35 daily events.

Activity during July-August 2016. Eruptive activity at the Santiaguito dome complex decreased from previous months during July 2016. Constant degassing from the Caliente dome, weak and moderate daily explosions, and ashfall in nearby (5-20 km) communities to the W and SW were typical. Steam and magmatic gases generally rose 300-400 m above the summit crater. Three or four weak to moderate explosions per day generally created diffuse ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 3.3-3.5 km. Ashfall from the smaller explosions generally affected the villages of San Marcos Palajunoj, Loma Linda, Monte Bello, and a few others located 10-20 km SW. Four stronger explosions on 1 (2), 3, and 10 July sent ash plumes to altitudes of 5-5.5 km (figure 48) and generated pyroclastic flows that descended the SW, S, and SE flanks (figure 49).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. A strong explosion with a mushroom-cloud-shaped ash plume rising to 5.5 km on 1 July 2016 at Santa María. View is from the NW. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Julio 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. A strong explosion with pyroclastic flows traveling down the SW, S, and SE flanks of Caliente dome at Santa María during July 2016. View is from the SE. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Julio 2016).

Ash from the larger explosions was reported at least once in Columba, about 20 km SW (figure 50), Malacatán (about 55 km NW), and also from the Chiapas regions of Mexico, 70 km W. The Washington VAAC reported a plume on 1 July at 5.2 km altitude with ash extending about 35 km WNW. On 10 July, they observed an ash plume in multispectral imagery moving NW about 45 km from the summit. They also observed a bright hotspot at the summit. On 11 July, they reported an ash plume at 6.4 km altitude extending over 80 km NW. Dissipating ash was visible in imagery about 275 km NW later in the day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Ash fall covered vehicles in Colomba, about 20 km SW, from one of the larger explosions at Santa María during July 2016. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Julio 2016).

A lahar descended the Cabello de Ángel river drainage on 3 July 2016 after a large explosion (figure 51). It was up to 30 m wide in places, and 1.5 m deep with blocks up to 1.5 m in diameter. The Cabello de Ángel flows into the Nimá I and Samala River drainages.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. A lahar descends the Nimá I drainage on 3 July 2016 at Santa María after a large explosion created a pyroclastic flow down the S flank. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Julio 2016).

Constant degassing of steam and bluish magmatic gases continued during August 2016, rising 100-400 m above the summit of Caliente dome. Three to five weak or moderate explosions occurred daily, sending ash plumes to altitudes of 3.3-3.5 km (800-1,000 m above the dome). The STG3 seismic station recorded nine larger explosions in August (4, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 28) that sent ash emissions to 4-5.5 km altitude, and generated pyroclastic flows that descended up to 2.5 km down the flanks (figure 52). The incandescent rock and ash descended the Nimá I, Nimá II, and San Isidro drainages on the SW, S, and SE flanks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Pyroclastic flows descend several drainages on the S, SW, and SE flanks of Caliente at Santa María during one of the large explosions of August 2016. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Agosto 2016).

Communities and fincas (farms) affected by ashfall from these explosions included San Marcos Palajunoj, Loma Linda, Monte Bello, San Felipe (15 km SSW), Mazatenango (25 km SSE), Retalhuleu (27 km SW), El Faro, La Florida (5 km S), Patzulin (SW flank), and El Patrocinio. Tephra particles as large as 8 mm were collected in Loma Linda (figure 53). A few of the explosions resulted in ashfall more than 50 km from the volcano, including into Mexico. The Washington VAAC reported ash plumes rising to 5.8 km on 1 August; they were later visible 175 km W of the Mexico coast, W of Tapachula, Mexico. Two emissions on 12 August were seen at 5.2 km altitude drifting W. Ongoing emissions were reported at 6.1 km altitude on 16 August moving WNW and extending about 80 km. The plume observed on 19 August was 65 km NW at 5.5 km altitude. A plume observed in multispectral imagery on 25 August was moving NW at 6.1 km altitude over 185 km from the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Lapilli fragments as large as 8 mm diameter were collected in Loma Linda on 16 August 2016 from an explosion at Santa María. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Agosto 2016).

Increased precipitation during August 2016 led to lahars on 8, 13, and 29 August 2016 that descended the Cabello de Ángel , Nimá I, and Samalá drainages. They ranged from 18 to 25 m wide and were 1.5 m deep containing blocks up to 1.5 m in diameter. Flooding was reported downstream near the Castillo Armas bridge on the Samalá River.

Activity during September 2016. Most of the steam and magmatic gases emitting daily from Caliente during September 2016 rose 100-400 m above the dome and generally drifted SW or W (figure 54). Small to moderate ash-bearing explosions occurred 3-5 times daily; ash plumes generally rose to 3.3-3.5 km altitude during these events. Several stronger explosions during September (1, 4, 11, 17, 19, 24, 25, 30) generated ash plumes that rose to 4.5 or 5 km altitude and drifted W, SW, S, SE and E. The Washington VAAC also reported an ash plume observed in multispectral imagery on 20 September at 5.2 km altitude drifting 45 km W. A few hours later, they reported two plumes, one at 4.6 km drifting 75 mi W, and a second at 5.2 km altitude moving WSW over 80 km from the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. A magmatic gas plume drifts W from the Caliente dome in this view from the summit of Santa María during September 2016. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Septiembre 2016).

Near-daily ashfall was reported from many of the communities 10-20 km SW including San Marcos Palajunoj, Loma Linda, Monte Bello, Santa María de Jesús, El Nuevo Palmar, and Las Marías (figure 55) during September 2016. Lapilli as large as 15 mm diameter was collected in the neighborhoods of San Marcos Palajunoj (figure 56).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Vegetation near Loma Linda was covered with ash almost daily from Santa María during September 2016. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Septiembre 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Lapilli from Santa María up to 15 mm in diameter fell in the village San Marcos Palajunoj during September 2016. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Septiembre 2016).

The larger explosions also resulted in pyroclastic flows that travelled 2.0-2.5 km down the SW, S, and SE flanks in the Nimá I, Nimá II, and San Isidro drainages. Areas of vegetation burned from the heat of the pyroclastic flows (figure 57).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Several areas of burned vegetation from the pyroclastic flows that descended the drainages on the SE flank of Caliente dome at Santa María during September 2016 are highlighted in yellow. The view is from the summit of Santa María looking S. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Septiembre 2016).

Lahars or heavy mudflows were recorded on ten days during September, primarily in the Cabello de Ángel and Nimá I drainages (figure 58). Channels of debris worked their way over the 2015 lava flows in the Nimá I drainage and continued downstream. The lahars were 13-20 m wide and 1.5 m high and carried clay, volcanic ash, and blocks up to 1.5 m in diameter.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. The active channels of the Cabello de Ángel and Nimá I drainages (in yellow) on the SE flank of the Caliente dome at Santa María hosted numerous pyroclastic flows and lahars. The many lahars of September 2016 traveled over parts of the channel covered by the 2015 lava flows in the Nimá I drainage. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Septiembre 2016).

The constant explosive activity at Caliente dome during 2016 enlarged the summit crater significantly between January and the end of September 2016. In January 2016, it was about 260 m wide and 20 m deep; by 21 September, it was 340 m wide and 175 m deep according to INSIVUMEH (figure 59).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. The summit crater at Santa María's Caliente dome enlarged substantially between 9 January (left) and 21 September (right) 2016 from numerous explosions. In January 2016, it was about 260 m wide and 20 m deep; by 21 September, it was 340 m wide and 175 m deep. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Septiembre 2016).

Activity during October-December 2016. INSIVUMEH reported that a new lava dome began growing inside the summit crater of Caliente on 1 October 2016. The number of weak to moderate ash-bearing explosions increased during October, but the overall amount of energy from the explosions decreased. The STG3 seismic station recorded 25-35 weak to moderate explosions per day and the ash plumes they created generally rose to 3.3-3.5 km altitude (figure 60). There were no strong explosions reported by INSIVUMEH. The Washington VAAC reported larger ash plumes at 5.5 km altitude on 3 and 4 October that drifted a few tens of kilometers SSW from the summit before dissipating. Ashfall from these plumes was reported in the villages of San Marcos Palajunoj, Loma Linda, Monte Bello, El Faro, Patzulin and others to the S and SW. Lahars up to 20 m wide descended the Cabello de Ángel drainage on 4, 27, and 28 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. An ash-bearing emission from the Caliente dome at Santa María on 5 October 2016 rises into the sunset glow. The plume rose to an altitude of about 3.5 km before drifting SW. View from the SE. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Octubre 2016).

The same eruptive pattern as October continued during November 2016 with 25-35 daily weak to moderate explosions that were responsible for ashfall in the villages to the SW, including Monte Claro, San José, and La Quinta and others. Steam and magmatic gasses continued to rise 100-500 m above the Caliente dome. A 15-m-wide lahar descended the Cabello de Ángel drainage on 9 November that was one meter deep, and carried material several kilometers down the Nimá and Samala drainages. The Washington VAAC reported some of the ash plumes visible up to 50 km from the dome. On 14 November, they noted two ash emissions at 4.6 km altitude. One was dissipating about 40 km SW while the second was within 15 km headed in the same direction. They also noted a small ash emission at 4.6 km altitude on 25 November drifting 20 km W.

Eruptive activity continued at a similar level during the first half of December 2016 with many weak and a few moderate explosions. During the second half of the month, the number of moderate explosions increased, but the overall number of explosions decreased. Twenty-five to thirty weak to moderate explosions per day were responsible for ash plumes rising to 3.0-3.5 km altitude. The Washington VAAC reported plumes on 24 and 30 December visible in satellite imagery at 4.6 km altitude drifting W. INSIVUMEH reported that the explosion on 30 December generated a pyroclastic flow that traveled for 2 km.

The growth of the new lava dome within the summit crater of Caliente first observed in October continued during November and December. By 18 December 2016 the new, growing dome had filled about two-thirds of the summit crater (figure 61). Heat flow at Caliente steadily declined during the second half of 2016, especially as compared with values during the first half of the year (see figure 47, BGVN (41:09). Only two MODVOLC thermal alerts were recorded after June 2016, on 29 July and 1 August. The MIROVA signal also showed a steady decrease in heat flow during this period (figure 62).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. Growth of the new lava dome at the summit crater of Caliente dome at Santa María during November and December 2016. The upper image was taken by Barbara Garcia during November 2016. The lower image is dated 18 December 2016. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de Actividad Volcánica, Noviembre and Diciembre 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. MIROVA graph of Log Radiative Power from Santa María from early June through December 2016 shows steadily declining heat flow. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that is cut on the SW flank by a 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned Plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four westward-younging vents, the most recent of which is Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).


Stromboli (Italy) — July 2017 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Persistent low- and moderate-level explosive activity during 2015 and 2016

Confirmed historical eruptions at Italy's Stromboli volcano go back 2,000 years as this island volcano in the Tyrrhenian Sea has been a natural beacon for eons with its near-constant fountains of lava. Explosive activity during 2014 generated numerous lava flows that traveled down the flanks, including several that reached the ocean during August (BGVN 42:01). The volcano was quieter during 2015 and 2016 as reported by the Instituto Nazionale de Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione de Catania, who monitors the gas geochemistry, deformation, and seismology, as well as the surficial activity at Stromboli. Their weekly reports are summarized briefly below. Eruptive activity at the summit consistently occurs from multiple vents at both a north crater area (N Area) and a southern crater group (S Area) on the Terrazza Craterica at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a large scarp that runs from the summit down the NW side of the island. Thermal and visual cameras placed on the nearby Pizzo Sopra La Fossa monitor activity at the Terrazza Craterica.

No reports were issued by INGV after a report of 16 October 2014. The last activity at Stromboli in 2014 captured remotely was a MODVOLC thermal alert on 8 November 2014. Low- to medium-intensity explosions from the active vent areas at the summit characterized activity throughout 2015 and 2016. Occasional bursts of higher-intensity activity sent ash, lapilli, and bombs across the Terrazza Craterica and onto the head of the Sciara del Fuoco.

Activity during 2015. While no thermal anomalies were identified in MODIS data during 2015 or 2016, the eruptive activity continued at low-to-moderate levels. Strombolian explosions were frequent from both crater areas during January 2015. Six explosions accompanied by abundant ash emissions erupted from the N Area on 12 and 13 January. In the S Area, vents also produced tephra containing lapilli and small bombs. A high-intensity burst from the S Area on 23 January contained ash and a few lapilli and bombs.

Intermittent explosive activity continued at both crater areas during February 2015. Medium-to-low intensity explosive activity during the first week characterized the N Area, with the ejection of bombs mixed with ash. Strombolian activity increased on 7 February. In the S Area, explosions were characterized by the ejection of fine ash with lesser coarse material (lapilli and bombs). An energetic explosive event took place at the S Area on 15 February (figure 92). It was the strongest event since the activity of August 2014, and was followed by several explosions over the following 12 hours that contained abundant tephra.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. The explosive sequence of 15 February 2015 at the S Area crater of Stromboli. Images captured by the thermal and visual cameras located on the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa span a two-minute interval that starts at 1109:08 on 15 February (A) and goes through 1110:52 (D). Image E is from the same moment as image D. Courtesy of INGV (Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 17/2/2015).

Low-intensity explosions characterized both the N and S Areas during March and early April 2015. Beginning on the afternoon of 15 April, the intensity and number of explosions increased significantly in the N Area for about 48 hours. Low- to medium-intensity explosions continued at both crater areas during May. On the evening of 11 May, and again during 13-15 May, a continuous glow was observed from the S Area caused by significant spattering activity. Strombolian activity was also noted from both crater areas on 20 and 21 May, and was more frequently observed during June 2015 (figure 93).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. Images from the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa visual camera show the increased Strombolian activity of June 2015 at Stromboli. On 11 June a double explosion of medium intensity from the two vents located in the S Area occurred just 10 seconds apart (top). The morphology of the terrace is visible in the lower left image, and the only explosion observed from the N Area was simultaneous with an explosion from the S Area (bottom right). Courtesy of INGV (Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 16/6/2015).

Members of an expedition to the summit on 1 July 2015 observed explosive activity from the S Area vents (figure 94). Activity continued at low-to-moderate levels during July. On 16 July, a strongly intense explosive sequence occurred at both crater areas (figure 95). The first explosion occurred in the S Area at 0103. A larger explosion a few seconds later produced a jet of bombs and lapilli that lasted for about 15 seconds and rose about 300 m into the air, depositing material across the Terrazza Craterica area and the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco. A third explosion, this time from the N Area, occurred about one minute later, ejecting bombs and lapilli 200 m into the air. Intense spattering continued from both crater areas for the next hour, after which activity resumed at lower levels.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Explosive activity from the S Area photographed from the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa at Stromboli on 1 July 2015. Photo by B. Behncke, courtesy of INGV (Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 7/7/2015).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. The explosive sequence of 16 July 2015 at Stromboli. A) the first explosion from the S Area; B) the second and strongest explosion from another S Area vent; C) bombs ejected across the Terrazza Craterica; D) maximum height of the eruptive column; E) the third explosion rises from the N Area; F) glowing bombs and lapilli are ejected during the third explosion. Courtesy of INGV (Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 21/7/2015).

Low-intensity explosions accompanied by weak and discontinuous spattering with ash, lapilli, and bombs characterized activity from both areas for most of August except for a short-lived (2-hour) vigorous explosive event at the S Area beginning around 2300 on 8 August 2015. Activity was more vigorous at the N Area from 23 August through the end of the month. Low- and medium-low intensity explosions were typical during September with only a few days of medium- to medium-high intensity explosive events. Activity during October was difficult for INGV to monitor due to difficulty with their equipment, but it appeared to continue at low-to-moderate levels.

A series of medium- and medium-high intensity events occurred during 7-9 November 2015 from the N Area and were captured by the thermal camera on the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa (figure 96). Two vents in the N Area produced strong explosions at the same time generating plumes with fine ash and lapilli that likely reached over 200 m above the Terrazza Craterica. Another strong explosion from the N Area occurred on 19 November, sending coarse ejecta onto the top of the Sciara del Fuoco.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. A strong explosion on 8 November 2015 from the N Area from 2053:26 to 2053:40 (14 seconds). Courtesy of INGV (Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 10/11/2015).

Explosions during 12 and 14 December ejected bombs and lapilli onto the Sciara del Fuoco. During an overflight on 16 December thermal imagery showed hot explosive material from the N Area deposited on the Sciara del Fuoco, and freshly erupted material surrounding the S Area as well.

Activity during 2016. During January 2016 windy and cloudy weather conditions and technical equipment problems made observations difficult for INGV, but activity was generally low to moderate at both crater areas. A strong Strombolian explosion from the N Area on 14 January was one of the larger events of the month, sending lapilli and bombs to the top of the Sciara del Fuoco. Numerous explosions from the N Area of medium-to-medium-high intensity were typical during February. Explosions at the S Area were generally low intensity. Clear weather on 15 February provided an excellent view of the two crater areas on the Terrazza Craterica (figure 97). A brief event on 21 February at the S Area caused weak spattering around the vent.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. The Terrazza Craterica at Stromboli as seen on a clear day from the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa on 15 February 2016, showing the two crater areas (AREA N, AREA S). Photo by F. Ciancitto, courtesy of INGV (Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 16/2/2016).

During March 2016, two vents were active in the S Area, and one in the N Area until 16 March, when a second vent began activity (figure 98). The typical frequency of events during low-level activity is 0-1 explosions per hour. Rarely, higher energy events will deposit material on the Sciara del Fuoco. After a month of low-intensity activity at both crater areas, there was a rapid intensification of explosive activity at the S Area at around 2130 on 28 April, which continued through 1 May (figure 99).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. The Terrazza Craterica as viewed from the thermal camera on the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa at Stromboli during 16 March 2016. In (A) and (B), the vents of the S Area (Area S) (1, 4) are active with occasional spattering from vent 3. In C), vent 2 of the N Area (Area N) is active; the arrow marks the new vent triggered on 16 March, in conjunction with an explosion from vent 2. Courtesy of INGV (Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 22/3/2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. The Terrazza Craterica as viewed from the visible camera on the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa at Stromboli during 29-30 April 2016. On 29 April (A), simultaneous explosive activity was observed at two vents in the S Area (yellow and white arrows) and one the N Area (red arrow). On 30 April (B), daylight illuminates the profile of the Terrazza Craterica and the position of the three vents shown in (A). Courtesy of INGV (Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 3/5/2016).

Generally low-level activity during most of May was interrupted during 6-11 May with persistent incandescence and pulsating spattering at the S Area vents. Occasional medium-to-high-intensity explosions from the S Area produced significant ash emissions during the second half of May, and often sent lapilli and bombs on to the Terrazza Craterica, and occasionally onto the Sciara del Fuoco.

Events with medium-to-high intensity levels continued at the S Area during June 2016, which resulted in ash emissions covering much of the Terrazza Craterica. Intensity increased in the N area by the third week of June. Two site inspections on 6 and 7 July by INGV provided details of the ongoing changes in morphology at the Terrazza Craterica (figure 100). At the N Area, they noted two distinct vents, while in the S area they observed a large crater depression with subvertical walls that had many deep vents on the S side. Episodic explosive activity from the N Area was accompanied by small ash plumes. In the S Area, landslides occurred along the southernmost wall, lasting for tens of seconds and producing small ash clouds.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. The Terrazza Craterica at Stromboli on the morning of 6 July 2016. The S Area (on the left) is a large crater depression with subvertical walls that has many deep vents on the S side; two distinct vents are visible from the N Area on the right. Photo by D. Andronico, courtesy of INGV (Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 12/7/2016).

During late July, persistent incandescence was visible at night from the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa coming from the northernmost vent of the S Area, which continued until 19 August. Activity diminished from this vent and appeared at the southernmost vent of the S Area on 20 August. Explosions of incandescent lava were observed about ten meters above the crater rim. Occasional high-intensity explosions from the N Area resulted in coarse ash emissions during August, especially during 27 and 28 August when two vents were active at the N area, sending bombs, lapilli, and ash onto the Sciara del Fuoco.

By the end of August activity was concentrated mostly in the N Area where two active vents ejected lapilli, bombs, and abundant ash in explosions that occurred at a rate of 2-3 per hour. On 29 September, a nighttime pulsating glow was observed from the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa visible camera emanating from the southernmost vent of the S area. Observations of the glow persisted until 6 October. INVG inferred the glow was related to deep explosive activity. Typical low-to-moderate activity during October included Strombolian activity several tens of meters above the crater rim and frequent ash emissions, primarily from the S Area.

During November and December 2016, low- and moderate-level activity continued, with persistent incandescence observed at northern vent of the S Area for most of December, and rare low-and-medium-intensity explosions observed at the N Area (figure 101).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. Typical activity during November and December 2016 at Stromboli is represented in images captured by the visible camera located on the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa on 6 and 7 November. A) the main vents active on the Terrazza Craterica. The yellow and white arrows point respectively to the southern and northern vents of the S Area; the green and red arrows point respectively to the southern and northern vents of the N Area. B) bomb-laden explosion from the southern vent (yellow arrow) of the S Area. C) an explosion from the southern vent (green arrow) of the N Area. D) the northern vent (red arrow) of the N Area explodes and sends a bomb outside the crater. Courtesy of INGV (Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 8/11/2016).

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

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


Yasur (Vanuatu) — July 2017 Citation iconCite this Report

Yasur

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strong explosions reported through mid-June 2017, with ongoing thermal anomalies

The almost continuous eruption at Yasur, possibly over the previous 800 years, remained active through October 2016 (BGVN 41:12). The Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory (VGO) has maintained the hazards status at Volcano Alert Level 2 (major unrest - danger around the crater rim and specific area, notable/large unrest, considerable possibility of eruption and also chance of flank eruption) through mid-June 2017.

Volcano Alert Bulletins posted by the VGO on 19 April, 22 May, and 22 June 2017 indicated ongoing strong explosive activity. Satellite-detected MODIS thermal anomalies identified by MODVOLC were numerous during the reporting period, with at least one every month except during November 2016. The MIROVA system also detected nearly continuous thermal anomalies during the year ending on 12 June 2017 (figure 46), though activity decreased in the last few months of 2016 and was somewhat more intermittent in the first half of 2017 compared to July-September 2016.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Thermal anomalies detected in MODIS data by the MIROVA system (log radiative power) at Yasur for the year ending 12 June 2017. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

Information Contacts: Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory, Department of Geology, Mines and Water Resources of Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/vmgd/, http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/vmgd/index.php/geohazards/volcano); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).

Atmospheric Effects

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

View Atmospheric Effects Reports

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

View Special Announcements Reports

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


Central Chile and Argentina


Estero de Parraguirre


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

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

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

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



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

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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


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

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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