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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

Aira (Japan) Ongoing explosions with ejecta and ash plumes, along with summit incandescence, during July-December 2019

Suwanosejima (Japan) Explosions, ash emissions, and summit incandescence in July-December 2019

Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) Explosion producing an ash plume and pyroclastic surge resulted in fatalities and injuries on 9 December 2019

Barren Island (India) Thermal anomalies and small ash plumes during February-April 2019 and September 2019-January 2020

Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) Frequent gas and some ash emissions during May-December 2019 with some hot avalanches

Nyiragongo (DR Congo) Lava lake persists during June-November 2019

Ebeko (Russia) Frequent moderate explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall continue through November 2019

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) Intermittent ash plumes with significant gas and steam emissions during January 2016-December 2017

Sabancaya (Peru) Explosions, ash and SO2 plumes, thermal anomalies, and lava dome growth during June-November 2019

Karangetang (Indonesia) Lava flows, strong thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam emissions, and ash plumes during May-November 2019

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) New vent, lava fountaining, lava flow, and ash plumes in late September-October 2019

Nyamuragira (DR Congo) Strong thermal anomalies and fumaroles within the summit crater during June-November 2019



Aira (Japan) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing explosions with ejecta and ash plumes, along with summit incandescence, during July-December 2019

Sakurajima is a highly active stratovolcano situated in the Aira caldera in southern Kyushu, Japan. Common volcanism for this recent eruptive episode since March 2017 includes frequent explosions, ash plumes, and scattered ejecta. Much of this activity has been focused in the Minamidake crater since 1955; the Showa crater on the E flank has had intermittent activity since 2006. This report updates activity during July through December 2019 with the primary source information from monthly reports by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and various satellite data.

During July to December 2019, explosive eruptions and ash plumes were reported multiple times per week by JMA. November was the most active, with 137 eruptive events, seven of which were explosive while August was the least active with no eruptive events recorded (table 22). Ash plumes rose between 800 m to 5.5 km above the crater rim during this reporting period. Large blocks of incandescent ejecta traveled as far as 1.7 km from the Minamidake crater during explosions in September through December. The Kagoshima Regional Meteorological Observatory (11 km WSW) reported monthly amounts of ashfall during each month, with a high of 143 g/m2 during October. Occasionally at night throughout this reporting period, crater incandescence was observed with a highly sensitive surveillance camera. All explosive activity originated from the Minamidake crater; the adjacent Showa crater produced mild thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam plumes.

Table 22. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Sakurajima's Minamidake crater in the Aira caldera, July through December 2019. The number of events that were explosive in nature are in parentheses. No events were recorded at the Showa crater during this time. Ashfall is measured at the Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory (KLMO), 10 km W of Showa crater. Data courtesy of JMA (July to December 2019 monthly reports).

Month Ash emissions (explosive) Max plume height above crater Max ejecta distance from crater Total amount of ashfall (g/m2)
Jul 2019 9 (5) 3.8 km 1.1 km --
Aug 2019 -- 800 m -- 2
Sep 2019 32 (11) 3.4 km 1.7 km 115
Oct 2019 62 (41) 3.0 km 1.7 km 143
Nov 2019 137 (77) 5.5 km 1.7 km 69
Dec 2019 71 (49) 3.3 km 1.7 km 54

An explosion that occurred at 1044 on 4 July 2019 produced an ash plume that rose up to 3.2 km above the Minamidake crater rim and ejected material 1.1 km from the vent. Field surveys conducted on 17 and 23 July measured SO2 emissions that were 1,200-1,800 tons/day. Additional explosions between 19-22 July generated smaller plumes that rose to 1.5 km above the crater and ejected material 1.1 km away. On 28 July explosions at 1725 and 1754 produced ash plumes 3.5-3.8 km above the crater rim, which resulted in ashfall in areas N and E of Sakurajima (figure 86), including Kirishima City (20 km NE), Kagoshima Prefecture (30 km SE), Yusui Town (40 km N), and parts of the Kumamoto Prefecture (140 km NE).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Photo of the Sakurajima explosion at 1725 on 28 July 2019 resulting in an ash plume rising 3.8 km above the crater (left). An on-site field survey on 29 July observed ashfall on roads and vegetation on the N side of the island (right). Photo by Moto Higashi-gun (left), courtesy of JMA (July 2019 report).

The month of August 2019 showed the least activity and consisted of mainly small eruptive events occurring up to 800 m above the crater; summit incandescence was observed with a highly sensitive surveillance camera. SO2 emissions were measured on 8 and 13 August with 1,000-2,000 tons/day, which was slightly greater than the previous month. An extensometer at the Arimura Observation Tunnel and an inclinometer at the Amida River recorded slight inflation on 29 August, but continuous GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) observations showed no significant changes.

In September 2019 there were 32 eruptive events recorded, of which 11 were explosions, more than the previous two months. Seismicity also increased during this month. An extensometer and inclinometer recorded inflation at the Minamidake crater on 9 September, which stopped after the eruptive events. On 16 September, an eruption at 0746 produced an ash plume that rose 2.8 km above the crater rim and drifted SW; a series of eruptive events followed from 0830-1110 (figure 87). Explosions on 18 and 20 September produced ash plumes that rose 3.4 km above the crater rim and ejecting material as far as 1.7 km from the summit crater on the 18th and 700 m on the 20th. Field surveys measured an increased amount of SO2 emissions ranging from 1,100 to 2,300 tons/day during September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Webcam image of an ash plume rising 2.8 km from the Minamidake crater at Sakurajima on 16 September 2019. Courtesy of Weathernews Inc.

Seismicity, SO2 emissions, and the number of eruptions continued to increase in October 2019, 41 of which were explosive. Field surveys conducted on 1, 11, and 15 October reported that SO2 emissions were 2,000-2,800 tons/day. An explosion at 0050 on 12 October produced an ash plume that traveled 1.7 km from the Minamidake crater. Explosions between 16 and 19 October produced an ash plume that rose up to 3 km above the crater rim (figure 88). The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force 1st Air group observed gas-and-steam plumes rising from both the Minamidake and Showa craters on 25 October. The inflation reported from 16 September began to slow in late October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Photos taken from the E side of Sakurajima showing gas-and-steam emissions with some amount of ash rising from the volcano on 16 October 2019 after an explosion around 1200 that day (top). At night, summit incandescence is observed (bottom). Courtesy of Bradley Pitcher, Vanderbilt University.

November 2019 was the most active month during this reporting period with increased seismicity, SO2 emissions, and 137 eruptive events, 77 of which were explosive. GNSS observations indicated that inflation began to slow during this month. On 8 November, an explosion at 1724 produced an ash plume up to a maximum of 5.5 km above the crater rim and drifted E. This explosion ejected large blocks as far as 500-800 m away from the crater (figure 89). The last time plumes rose above 5 km from the vents occurred on 26 July 2016 at the Showa crater and on 7 October 2000 at the Minamidake crater. Field surveys on 8, 21, and 29 November measured increased SO2 emissions ranging from 2,600 to 3,600 tons/day. Eruptions between 13-19 November produced ash plumes that rose up to 3.6 km above the crater and ejected large blocks up 1.7 km away. An onsite survey on 29 November used infrared thermal imaging equipment to observe incandescence and geothermal areas near the Showa crater and the SE flank of Minamidake (figure 90).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Photos of an ash plume rising 5.5 km above Sakurajima on 8 November 2019 and drifting E. Photo by Moto Higashi-gun (top left), courtesy of JMA (November 2019 report) and the Geoscientific Network of Chile.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Webcam image of nighttime incandescence and gas-and-steam emissions with some amount of ash at Sakurajima on 29 November 2019. Courtesy of JMA (November 2019 report).

Volcanism, which included seismicity, SO2 emissions, and eruptive events, decreased during December 2019. Explosions during 4-10 December produced ash plumes that rose up to 2.6 km above the crater rim and ejected material up to 1.7 km away. Field surveys conducted on 6, 16, and 23 December measured SO2 emissions around 1,000-3,000 tons/day. On 24 December, an explosion produced an ash plume that rose to 3.3 km above the crater rim, this high for this month.

Sentinel-2 natural color satellite imagery showed dense ash plumes in late August 2019, early November, and through December (figure 91). These plumes drifted in different directions and rose to a maximum 5.5 km above the crater rim on 8 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Natural color Sentinel-2 satellite images of Sakurajima within the Aira caldera from late August through December 2019 showed dense ash plumes rising from the Minamidake crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed intermittent thermal anomalies beginning in mid-August to early September 2019 after a nearly two-month hiatus (figure 92). Activity increased by early November and continued through December. Three Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images between late July and early October showed distinct thermal hotspots within the Minamidake crater, in addition to faint gas-and-steam emissions in July and September (figure 93).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. Thermal anomalies at Sakurajima during January-December 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) started up in mid-August to early September after a two-month break and continued through December. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing small thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam emissions (left and middle) at Sakurajima within the Minamidake crater between late July and early October 2019. All images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Weathernews Inc. (Twitter: @wni_jp, https://twitter.com/wni_jp, URL: https://weathernews.jp/s/topics/201608/210085/, photo posted at https://twitter.com/wni_jp/status/1173382407216652289); Bradley Pitcher, Vanderbilt University, Nashville. TN, USA (URL: https://bradpitcher.weebly.com/, Twitter: @TieDyeSciGuy, photo posted at https://twitter.com/TieDyeSciGuy/status/1185191225101471744); Geoscientific Network of Chile (Twitter: @RedGeoChile, https://twitter.com/RedGeoChile, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RedGeoChile/, photo posted at https://twitter.com/RedGeoChile/status/1192921768186515456).


Suwanosejima (Japan) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

29.638°N, 129.714°E; summit elev. 796 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions, ash emissions, and summit incandescence in July-December 2019

Suwanosejima, located south of Japan in the northern Ryukyu Islands, is an active andesitic stratovolcano that has had continuous activity since October 2004, typically producing ash plumes and Strombolian explosions. Much of this activity is focused within the Otake crater. This report updates information during July through December 2019 using monthly reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

White gas-and-steam plumes rose from Suwanosejima on 26 July 2019, 30-31 August, 1-6, 10, and 20-27 September, reaching a maximum altitude of 2.4 km on 10 September, according to Tokyo VAAC advisories. Intermittent gray-white plumes were observed rising from the summit during October through December (figure 40).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Surveillance camera images of white gas-and-steam emissions rising from Suwanosejima on 10 December 2019 (left) and up to 1.8 km above the crater rim on 28 December (right). At night, summit incandescence was also observed on 10 December. Courtesy of JMA.

An explosion that occurred at 2331 on 1 August 2019 ejected material 400 m from the crater while other eruptions on 3-6 and 26 August produced ash plumes that rose up to a maximum altitude of 2.1 km and drifted generally NW according to the Tokyo VAAC report. JMA reported eruptions and summit incandescence in September accompanied by white gas-and-steam plumes, but no explosions were noted. Eruptions on 19 and 29 October produced ash plumes that rose 300 and 800 m above the crater rim, resulting in ashfall in Toshima (4 km SW), according to the Toshima Village Office, Suwanosejima Branch Office. Another eruption on 30 October produced a similar gray-white plume rising 800 m above the crater rim but did not result in ashfall. Similar activity continued in November with eruptions on 5-7 and 13-15 November producing grayish-white plumes rising 900 m and 1.5 km above the crater rim and frequent crater incandescence. Ashfall was reported in Toshima Village on 19 and 20 November; the 20 November eruption ejected material 200 m from the Otake crater.

Field surveys on 14 and 18 December using an infrared thermal imaging system to the E of Suwanose Island showed hotspots around the Otake crater, on the N slope of the crater, and on the upper part of the E coastline. GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) observations on 15 and 17 December showed a slight change in the baseline length. After 2122 on 25-26 and 31 December, 23 eruptions, nine of which were explosive were reported, producing gray-white plumes that rose 800-1,800 m above the crater rim and ejected material up to 600 m from the Otake crater. JMA reported volcanic tremors occurred intermittently throughout this reporting period.

Incandescence at the summit crater was occasionally visible at night during July through December 2019, as recorded by webcam images and reported by JMA (figure 41). MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed weak thermal anomalies that occurred dominantly in November with little to no activity recorded between July and October (figure 42). Two Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images in early November and late December showed thermal hotspots within the summit crater (figure 43).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Surveillance camera image of summit incandescence at Suwanosejima on 31 October 2019. Courtesy of JMA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Weak thermal anomalies at Suwanosejima during January-December 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) dominantly occurred in mid-March, late May to mid-June, and November, with two hotspots detected in late September and late December. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing small thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) within the Otake crater at Suwanosejima on 8 November 2019 (left) and faintly on 23 December 2019 behind clouds (right). Both images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The 8-km-long, spindle-shaped island of Suwanosejima in the northern Ryukyu Islands consists of an andesitic stratovolcano with two historically active summit craters. The summit of the volcano is truncated by a large breached crater extending to the sea on the east flank that was formed by edifice collapse. Suwanosejima, one of Japan's most frequently active volcanoes, was in a state of intermittent strombolian activity from Otake, the NE summit crater, that began in 1949 and lasted until 1996, after which periods of inactivity lengthened. The largest historical eruption took place in 1813-14, when thick scoria deposits blanketed residential areas, and the SW crater produced two lava flows that reached the western coast. At the end of the eruption the summit of Otake collapsed forming a large debris avalanche and creating the horseshoe-shaped Sakuchi caldera, which extends to the eastern coast. The island remained uninhabited for about 70 years after the 1813-1814 eruption. Lava flows reached the eastern coast of the island in 1884. Only about 50 people live on the island.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.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/); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Whakaari/White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosion producing an ash plume and pyroclastic surge resulted in fatalities and injuries on 9 December 2019

Whakaari/White Island has been New Zealand's most active volcano since 1976. Located 48 km offshore, the volcano is a popular tourism destination with tours leaving the town of Whakatane with approximately 17,500 people visiting the island in 2018. Ten lives were lost in 1914 when part of the crater wall collapsed, impacting sulfur miners. More recently, a brief explosion at 1411 on 9 December 2019 produced an ash plume and pyroclastic surge that impacted the entire crater area. With 47 people on the island at the time, the death toll stood at 21 on 3 February 2019. At that time more patients were still in hospitals within New Zealand or their home countries.

The island is the summit of a large underwater volcano, with around 70% of the edifice below the ocean and rising around 900 m above sea level (figure 70). A broad crater opens to the ocean to the SE, with steep crater walls and an active Main Crater area to the NW rear of the crater floor (figure 71). Although the island is privately owned, GeoNet continuously monitors activity both remotely and with visits to the volcano. This Bulletin covers activity from May 2017 through December 2019 and is based on reports by GeoNet, the New Zealand Civil Defence Bay of Plenty Emergency Management Group, satellite data, and footage taken by visitors to the island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. The top of the Whakaari/White Island edifice forms the island in the Bay of Plenty area, New Zealand, while 70% of the volcano is below sea level. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. This photo from 2004 shows the Main Crater area of Whakaari/White Island with the vent area indicated. The crater is an amphitheater shape with the crater floor distance between the vent and the ocean entry being about 700 m. The sediment plume begins at the area where tour boats dock at the island. Photo by Karen Britten, graphic by Danielle Charlton at University of Auckland; courtesy of GeoNet (11 December 2019 report).

Nearly continuous activity occurred from December 1975 to September 2000, including the formation of collapse and explosion craters producing ash emissions and explosions that impacted all of the Main Crater area. More recently, it has been in a state of elevated unrest since 2011. Renewed activity commenced with an explosive eruption on 5 August 2012 that was followed by the extrusion of a lava dome and ongoing phreatic explosions and minor ash emissions through March 2013. An ash cone was seen on 4 March 2013, and over the next few months the crater lake reformed. Further significant explosions took place on 20 August and 4, 8, and 11 October 2013. A landslide occurred in November 2015 with material descending into the lake. More recent activity on 27 April 2016 produced a short-lived eruption that deposited material across the crater floor and walls. A short period of ash emission later that year, on 13 September 2016, originated from a vent on the recent lava dome. Explosive eruptions occur with little to no warning.

Since 19 September 2016 the Volcanic Alert Level (VAL) was set to 1 (minor volcanic unrest) (figure 72). During early 2017 background activity in the crater continued, including active fumaroles emitting volcanic gases and steam from the active geothermal system, boiling springs, volcanic tremor, and deformation. By April 2017 a new crater lake had begun to form, the first since the April 2016 explosion when the lake floor was excavated an additional 13 m. Before this, there were areas where water ponded in depressions within the Main Crater but no stable lake.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. The New Zealand Volcanic Alert Level system up to date in February 2020. Courtesy of GeoNet.

Activity from mid-2017 through 2018. In July-August 2017 GeoNet scientists carried out the first fieldwork at the crater area since late 2015 to sample the new crater lake and gas emissions. The crater lake was significantly cooler than the past lakes at 20°C, compared to 30-70°C that was typical previously. Chemical analysis of water samples collected in July showed the lowest concentrations of most "volcanic elements" in the lake for the past 10-15 years due to the reduced volcanic gases entering the lake. The acidity remained similar to that of battery acid. Gas emissions from the 2012 dome were 114°C, which were over 450°C in 2012 and 330°C in 2016. Fumarole 0 also had a reduced temperature of 152°C, reduced from over 190°C in late 2016 (figure 73). The observations and measurements indicated a decline in unrest. Further visits in December 2017 noted relatively low-level unrest including 149°C gas emissions from fumarole 0, a small crater lake, and loud gas vents nearby (figures 74 and 75). By 27 November the lake had risen to 10 m below overflow. Analysis of water samples led to an estimate of 75% of the lake water resulting from condensing steam vents below the lake and the rest from rainfall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. A GeoNet scientists conducting field work near Fumarole 0, an accessible gas vent on Whakaari/White Island in August 2017. Courtesy of GeoNet (23 August 2017 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. GeoNet scientists sample gas emissions from vents on the 2012 Whakaari/White Island dome. The red circle in the left image indicates the location of the scientists. Courtesy of GeoNet (23 August 2017 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Active fumaroles and vents in the Main Crater of Whakaari/White Island including Fumarole 0 (top left). The crater lake formed in mid-2017 and gas emissions rise from surrounding vents (right). Courtesy of GeoNet (22 December 2017 report).

Routine fieldwork by GeoNet monitoring teams in early March 2018 showed continued low-level unrest and no apparent changes after a recent nearby earthquake swarm. The most notable change was the increase in the crater lake size, likely a response from recent high rainfall (figure 76). The water remained a relatively cool 27°C. Temperatures continued to decline at the 2012 dome vent (128°C) and Fumarole 0 (138°C). Spring and stream flow had also declined. Deformation was observed towards the Active Crater of 2-5 mm per month and seismicity remained low. The increase in lake level drowned gas vents along the lake shore resulting in geyser-like activity (figure 77). GeoNet warned that a new eruption could occur at any time, often without any useful warning.

In mid-April 2018 visitors reported loud sounds from the crater area as a result of the rising lake level drowning vents on the 2012 dome (in the western side of the crater) and resulting in steam-driven activity. There was no notable change in volcanic activity. The sounds stopped by July 2018 as the geothermal system adjusted to the rising water, up to 17 m below overfill and filling at a rate of about 2,000 m3 per day, rising towards more active vents (figure 78). A gas monitoring flight taken on 12 September showed a steaming lake surrounded by active fumaroles along the crater wall (figure 79).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. The increase in the Whakaari/White Island crater lake size in early March 2018 with gas plumes rising from vents on the other side. Courtesy of GeoNet (19 March 2018 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. The increasing crater lake level at Whakaari/White Island produced geyser-like activity on the lake shore in March 2018. Courtesy of Brad Scott, GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Stills taken from a drone video of the Whakaari/White Island Main Crater lake and active vents producing gas emissions. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Photos taken during a gas monitoring flight with GNS Science at Whakaari/White Island show gas and steam emissions, and a steaming crater lake on 12 September 2018. Note the people for scale on the lower-right crater rim in the bottom photograph. Copyright of Ben Clarke, University of Leicester, used with permission.

Activity during April to early December 2019. A GeoNet volcanic alert bulletin in April 2019 reported that steady low-level unrest continued. The level of the lake had been declining since late January and was back down to 13 m below overflow (figure 80). The water temperature had increased to over 60°C due to the fumarole activity below the lake. Fumarole 0 remained steady at around 120-130°C. During May-June a seismic swarm was reported offshore, unrelated to volcanic activity but increasing the risk of landslides within the crater due to the shallow locations.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Planet Labs satellite images from March 2018 to April 2019 show fluctuations in the Whakaari/White Island crater lake level. Image copyright 2019 Planet Labs, Inc.

On 26 June the VAL was raised to level 2 (moderate to heightened volcanic unrest) due to increased SO2 flux rising to historically high levels. An overflight that day detected 1,886 tons/day, nearly three times the previous values of May 2019, the highest recorded value since 2013, and the second highest since measurements began in 2003. The VAL was subsequently lowered on 1 July due to a reduction in detected SO2 emissions of 880 tons/day on 28 June and 693 tons/day on 29 June.

GeoNet reported on 26 September that there was an increase in steam-driven activity within the active crater over the past three weeks. This included small geyser-like explosions of mud and steam with material reaching about 10 m above the lake. This was not attributed to an increase in volcanic activity, but to the crater lake level rising since early August.

On 30 October an increase in background activity was reported. An increasing trend in SO2 gas emissions and volcanic tremor had been ongoing for several months and had reached the highest levels since 2016. This indicated to GeoNet that Whakaari/White Island might be entering a period where eruptive activity was more likely. There were no significant changes in other monitoring parameters at this time and fumarole activity continued (figure 81).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. A webcam image taken at 1030 on 30 October 2019 from the crater rim shows the Whakaari/White Island crater lake to the right of the amphitheater-shaped crater and gas-and-steam plumes from active fumaroles. Courtesy of GeoNet.

On 18 November the VAL was raised to level 2 and the Aviation Colour Code was raised to Yellow due to further increase in SO2 emissions and volcanic tremor. Other monitoring parameters showed no significant changes. On 25 November GeoNet reported that moderate volcanic unrest continued but with no new changes. Gas emissions remained high and gas-driven ejecta regularly jetting material a few meters into the air above fumaroles in the crater lake (figure 82).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. A webcam image from the Whakaari/White Island crater rim shows gas-driven ejecta rising above a fumarole within the crater lake on 22 November 2019. Courtesy of GeoNet.

GeoNet reported on 3 December that moderate volcanic unrest continued, with increased but variable explosive gas and steam-driven jetting, with stronger events ejecting mud 20-30 m into the air and depositing mud around the vent area. Gas emissions and volcanic tremor remained elevated and occasional gas smells were reported on the North Island mainland depending on wind direction. The crater lake water level remained unchanged. Monitoring parameters were similar to those observed in 2011-2016 and remained within the expected range for moderate volcanic unrest.

Eruption on 9 December 2019. A short-lived eruption occurred at 1411 on 9 December 2019, generating a steam-and-ash plume to 3.6 km and covering the entire crater floor area with ash. Video taken by tourists on a nearby boat showed an eruption plume composed of a white steam-rich portion, and a black ash-rich ejecta (figure 83). A pyroclastic surge moved laterally across the crater floor and up the inner crater walls. Photos taken soon after the eruption showed sulfur-rich deposits across the crater floor and crater walls, and a helicopter that had been damaged and blown off the landing pad (figure 84). This activity caused the VAL to be raised to 4 (moderate volcanic eruption) and the Aviation Colour Code being raised to Orange.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. The beginning of the Whakaari/White Island 9 December 2019 eruption viewed from a boat that left the island about 20-30 minutes prior. Top: the steam-rich eruption plume rising above the volcano and a pyroclastic surge beginning to rise over the crater rim. Bottom: the expanded steam-and-ash plume of the pyroclastic surge that flowed over the crater floor to the ocean. Copyright of Michael Schade, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. This photo of Whakaari/White Island taken after the 9 December 2019 eruption at around 1424 shows ash and sediment coating the crater floor and walls. The helicopter in this image was blown off the landing pad and damaged during the eruption. Copyright of Michael Schade, used with permission.

A steam plume was visible in a webcam image taken at 1430 from Whakatane, 21 minutes after the explosion (figure 85). Subsequent explosions occurred at 1630 and 1749. Search-and-Rescue teams reached the island after the eruption and noted a very strong sulfur smell that was experienced through respirators. They experienced severe stinging of any exposed skin that came in contact with the gas, and were left with sensitive skin and eyes, and sore throats. Later in the afternoon the gas-and-steam plume continued and a sediment plume was dispersing from the island (figure 86). The VAL was lowered to level 3 (minor volcanic eruption) at 1625 that day; the Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A view of Whakaari/White Island from Whakatane in the North Island of New Zealand. Left: there is no plume visible at 1410 on 9 December 2019, one minute before the eruption. Right: A gas-and-steam plume is visible 21 minutes after the eruption. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. A gas-and-steam plume rises from Whakaari/White Island on the afternoon of 9 December 2019 as rescue teams visit the island. A sediment plume in the ocean is dispersing from the island. Courtesy of Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

During or immediately after the eruption an unstable portion of the SW inner crater wall, composed of 1914 landslide material, collapsed and was identified in satellite radar imagery acquired after the eruption. The material slid into the crater lake area and left a 12-m-high scarp. Movement in this area continued into early January.

Activity from late 2019 into early 2020. A significant increase in volcanic tremor began at around 0400 on 11 December (figure 87). The increase was accompanied by vigorous steaming and ejections of mud in several of the new vents. By the afternoon the tremor was at the highest level seen since the 2016 eruption, and monitoring data indicated that shallow magma was driving the increased unrest.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. This RSAM (Real-Time Seismic Amplitude) time series plot represents the energy produced at Whakaari/White Island from 11 November to 11 December 2019 with the Volcanic Activity Levels and the 9 December eruption indicated. The plot shows the sharp increase in seismic energy during 11 December. Courtesy of GeoNet (11 December 2019 report).

The VAL was lowered to 2 on the morning of 12 December to reflect moderate to heightened unrest as no further explosive activity had occurred since the event on the 9th. Volcanic tremor was occurring at very high levels by the time a bulletin was released at 1025 that day. Gas emissions increased since 10 January, steam and mud jetting continued, and the situation was interpreted to be highly volatile. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange. Risk assessment maps released that day show the high-risk areas as monitoring parameters continued to show an increased likelihood of another eruption (figure 88).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Risk assessment maps of Whakaari/White Island show the increase in high-risk areas from 2 December to 12 December 2019. Courtesy of GeoNet (12 December 2019 report).

The volcanic activity bulletin for 13 December reported that volcanic tremor remained high, but had declined overnight. Vigorous steam and mud jetting continuing at the vent area. Brief ash emission was observed in the evening with ashfall restricted to the vent area. The 14 January bulletin reported that volcanic tremor had declined significantly over night, and nighttime webcam images showed a glow in the vent area due to high heat flow.

Aerial observations on 14 and 15 December revealed steam and gas emissions continuing from at least three open vents within a 100 m2 area (figure 89). One vent near the back of the crater area was emitting transparent, high-temperature gas that indicated that magma was near the surface, and produced a glow registered by low-light cameras (figure 90). The gas emissions had a blue tinge that indicated high SO2 content. The area that once contained the crater lake, 16 m below overflow before the eruption, was filled with debris and small isolated ponds mostly from rainfall, with different colors due to the water reacting with the eruption deposits. The gas-and-steam plume was white near the volcano but changed to a gray-brown color as it cooled and moved downwind due to the gas content (figure 91). On 15 December the tremor remained at low levels (figure 92).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. The Main Crater area of Whakaari/White Island showing the active vent area and gas-and-steam emissions on 15 December 2019. Gas emissions were high within the circled area. Before the eruption a few days earlier this area was partially filled by the crater lake. Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. A low-light nighttime camera at Whakaari/White Island imaged "a glow" at a vent within the active crater area on 13 December 2019. This glow is due to high-temperature gas emissions and light from external sources like the moon. Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. A gas-and-steam plume at Whakaari/White Island on 15 December 2019 is white near the crater and changes to a grey-brown color downwind due to the gas content. Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. The Whakaari/White Island seismic drum plot showing the difference in activity from 12 December (top) to 15 December (bottom). Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).

On 19 December tremor remained low (figure 93) and gas and steam emission continued. Overflight observations confirmed open vents with one producing temperatures over 650°C (figure 94). SO2 emissions remained high at around 15 kg/s, slightly lower than the 20 kg/s detected on 12 December. Small amounts of ash were produced on 23 and 26 December due to material entering the vents during erosion.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. This RSAM (Real-Time Seismic Amplitude) time series plot represents the energy produced at Whakaari/White Island from 1 November to mid-December 2019. The Volcanic Alert Levels and the 9 December eruption are indicated. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. A photograph and thermal infrared image of the Whakaari/White Island crater area on 19 December 2019. The thermal imaging registered temperatures up to 650°C at a vent emitting steam and gas. Courtesy of GeoNet.

The Aviation Colour Code was reduced to Yellow on 6 January 2020 and the VAL remained at 2. Strong gas and steam emissions continued from the vent area through early January and the glow persisted in nighttime webcam images. Short-lived episodes of volcanic tremor were recorded between 8-10 January and were accompanied by minor explosions. A 15 January bulletin reported that the temperature at the vent area remained very hot, up to 440°C, and SO2 emissions were within normal post-eruption levels.

High temperatures were detected within the vent area in Sentinel-2 thermal data on 6 and 16 January (figure 95). Lava extrusion was confirmed within the 9 December vents on 20 January. Airborne SO2 measurements on that day recorded continued high levels and the vent temperature was over 400°C. Observations on 4 February showed that no new lava extrusion had occurred, and gas fluxes were lower than two weeks ago, but still elevated. The temperatures measured in the crater were 550-570°C and no further changes to the area were observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Sentinel-2 thermal infrared satellite images show elevated temperatures in the 9 December 2019 vent area on Whakaari/White Island. False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The uninhabited Whakaari/White Island is the 2 x 2.4 km emergent summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 50 km offshore of North Island. The island consists of two overlapping andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcanoes. The SE side of the crater is open at sea level, with the recent activity centered about 1 km from the shore close to the rear crater wall. Volckner Rocks, sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NW. Descriptions of volcanism since 1826 have included intermittent moderate phreatic, phreatomagmatic, and Strombolian eruptions; activity there also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. The formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries caused rapid changes in crater floor topography. Collapse of the crater wall in 1914 produced a debris avalanche that buried buildings and workers at a sulfur-mining project. Explosive activity in December 2019 took place while tourists were present, resulting in many fatalities. The official government name Whakaari/White Island is a combination of the full Maori name of Te Puia o Whakaari ("The Dramatic Volcano") and White Island (referencing the constant steam plume) given by Captain James Cook in 1769.

Information Contacts: New Zealand GeoNet Project, a collaboration between the Earthquake Commission and GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz/); GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/); Bay of Plenty Emergency Management Group Civil Defense, New Zealand (URL: http://www.bopcivildefence.govt.nz/); Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, Auckland, New Zealand (URL: https://www.rescuehelicopter.org.nz/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Ben Clarke, The University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH, United Kingdom (URL: https://le.ac.uk/geology, Twitter: https://twitter.com/PyroclasticBen); Michael Schade, San Francisco, USA (URL: https://twitter.com/sch).


Barren Island (India) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Barren Island

India

12.278°N, 93.858°E; summit elev. 354 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal anomalies and small ash plumes during February-April 2019 and September 2019-January 2020

Barren Island is a remote stratovolcano located east of India in the Andaman Islands. Its most recent eruptive episode began in September 2018 and has included lava flows, explosions, ash plumes, and lava fountaining (BGVN 44:02). This report updates information from February 2019 through January 2020 using various satellite data as a primary source of information.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed intermittent thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit from mid-February 2019 through January 2020 (figure 41). There was a period of relatively low to no discernible activity between May to September 2019. The MODVOLC algorithm for MODIS thermal anomalies in comparison with Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery and Suomi NPP/VIIRS sensor data, registered elevated temperatures during late February 2019, early March, sparsely in April, late October, sparsely in November, early December, and intermittently in January 2020 (figure 42). Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery shows these thermal hotspots differing in strength from late February to late January 2020 (figure 43). The thermal anomalies in these satellite images are occasionally accompanied by ash plumes (25 February 2019, 23 October 2019, and 21 January 2020) and gas-and-steam emissions (26 April 2019).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Intermittent thermal anomalies at Barren Island for 20 February 2019 through January 2020 occurred dominantly between late March to late April 2019 and late September 2019 through January 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Timeline summary of observed activity at Barren Island from February 2019 through January 2020. For Sentinel-2, MODVOLC, and VIIRS data, the dates indicated are when thermal anomalies were detected. White areas indicated no activity was observed, which may also be due to meteoric clouds. Data courtesy of Darwin VAAC, Sentinel Hub Playground, HIGP, and NASA Worldview using the "Fire and Thermal Anomalies" layer.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 thermal images show ash plumes, gas-and-steam emissions, and thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) at Barren Island during February 2019-January 2020. The strongest thermal signature was observed on 23 October while the weakest one is observed on 26 January. Sentinel-2 False color (bands 12, 11, 4) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported ash plumes rising from the summit on 7, 14, and 16 March 2019. The maximum altitude of the ash plume occurred on 7 March, rising 1.8 km altitude, drifting W and NW and 1.2 km altitude, drifting E and ESE, based on observations from Himawari-8. The VAAC reports for 14 and 16 March reported the ash plumes rising 0.9 km and 1.2 km altitude, respectively drifting W and W.

Geologic Background. Barren Island, a possession of India in the Andaman Sea about 135 km NE of Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, is the only historically active volcano along the N-S volcanic arc extending between Sumatra and Burma (Myanmar). It is the emergent summit of a volcano that rises from a depth of about 2250 m. The small, uninhabited 3-km-wide island contains a roughly 2-km-wide caldera with walls 250-350 m high. The caldera, which is open to the sea on the west, was created during a major explosive eruption in the late Pleistocene that produced pyroclastic-flow and -surge deposits. Historical eruptions have changed the morphology of the pyroclastic cone in the center of the caldera, and lava flows that fill much of the caldera floor have reached the sea along the western coast.

Information Contacts: MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); 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/); 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); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/).


Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kadovar

Papua New Guinea

3.608°S, 144.588°E; summit elev. 365 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent gas and some ash emissions during May-December 2019 with some hot avalanches

Kadovar is an island volcano north of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Manam. The first confirmed historical activity began in January 2018 and resulted in the evacuation of residents from the island. Eruptive activity through 2018 changed the morphology of the SE side of the island and activity continued through 2019 (figure 36). This report summarizes activity from May through December 2019 and is based largely on various satellite data, tourist reports, and Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reports.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. The morphological changes to Kadovar from 2017 to June 2019. Top: the vegetated island has a horseshoe-shaped crater that opens towards the SE; the population of the island was around 600 people at this time. Middle: by May 2018 the eruption was well underway with an active summit crater and an active dome off the east flank. Much of the vegetation has been killed and ashfall covers a lot of the island. Bottom: the bay below the SE flank has filled in with volcanic debris. The E-flank coastal dome is no longer active, but activity continues at the summit. PlanetScope satellite images copyright Planet Labs 2019.

Since this eruptive episode began a large part of the island has been deforested and has undergone erosion (figure 37). Activity in early 2019 included regular gas and steam emissions, ash plumes, and thermal anomalies at the summit (BGVN 44:05). On 15 May an ash plume originated from two vents at the summit area and dispersed to the east. A MODVOLC thermal alert was also issued on this day, and again on 17 May. Elevated temperatures were detected in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite data on 20, 21, and 30 May (figure 38), with accompanying gas-and-steam plumes dispersing to the NNW and NW. On 30 May the area of elevated temperature extended to the SE shoreline, indicating an avalanche of hot material reaching the water.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. The southern flank of Kadovar seen here on 13 November 2019 had been deforested by eruptive activity and erosion had produced gullies down the flanks. Copyrighted photo by Chrissie Goldrick, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images show elevated temperatures at the summit area, and down to the coast in the top image. Gas-and-steam plumes are visible dispersing towards the NW. Sentinel-2 false color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel-Hub Playground.

Throughout June cloud-free Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed elevated temperatures at the summit area and extending down the upper SE flank (figure 38). Gas-and-steam plumes were persistent in every Sentinel-2 and NASA Suomi NPP / VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) image. MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 4 and 9 June. Similar activity continued through July with gas-and-steam emissions visible in every cloud-free satellite image. Thermal anomalies appeared weaker in late-July but remained at the summit area. An ash plume was imaged on 17 July by Landsat 8 with a gas-and-ash plume dispersing to the west (figure 39). Thermal anomalies continued through August with a MODVOLC thermal alert issued on the 14th. Gas emissions also continued and a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) was issued on the 19th reporting an ash plume to an altitude of 1.5 km and drifting NW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. An ash plume rising above Kadovar and a gas plume dispersing to the NW on 17 July 2019. Truecolor pansharpened Landsat 8 satellite image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

An elongate area extending from the summit area to the E-flank coastal dome appears lighter in color in a 7 September Sentinel-2 natural color satellite image, and as a higher temperature area in the correlating thermal bands, indicating a hot avalanche deposit. These observations along with the previous avalanche, persistent elevated summit temperatures, and persistent gas and steam emissions from varying vent locations (figure 40) suggests that the summit dome has remained active through 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Sentinel-2 visible and thermal satellite images acquired on 7 September 2019 show fresh deposits down the east flank of Kadovar. They appear as a lighter colored area in visible, and show as a hot area (orange) in thermal data. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) and false color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel-Hub Playground.

Thermal anomalies and emissions continued through to the end of 2019 (figure 41). A tour group witnessed an explosion producing an ash plume at around 1800 on 13 November (figure 42). While the ash plume erupted near-vertically above the island, a more diffuse gas plume rose from multiple vents on the summit dome and dispersed at a lower altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. The summit area of Kadovar emitting gas-and-steam plumes in August, September, and November 2019. The plumes are persistent in satellite images throughout May through December and there is variation in the number and locations of the source vents. PlanetScope satellite images copyright Planet Labs 2019.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. An ash plume and a lower gas plume rise during an eruption of Kadovar on 13 November 2019. The summit lava dome is visibly degassing to produce the white gas plume. Copyrighted photos by Chrissie Goldrick, used with permission.

While gas plumes were visible throughout May-December 2019 (figure 43), SO2 plumes were difficult to detect in NASA SO2 images due to the activity of nearby Manam volcano. The MIROVA thermal detection system shows continued elevated temperatures through to early December, with an increase during May-June (figure 44). Sentinel-2 thermal images showed elevated temperatures through to the end of December but at a lower intensity than previous months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. This photo of the southeast side Kadovar on 13 November 2019 shows a persistent low-level gas plume blowing towards the left and a more vigorous plume is visible near the crater. This is an example of the persistent plume visible in satellite imagery throughout July-December 2019. Copyrighted photo by Chrissie Goldrick, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. The MIROVA plot of radiative power at Kadovar shows thermal anomalies throughout 2019 with some variations in frequency. Note that while the black lines indicate that the thermal anomalies are greater than 5 km from the vent, the designated summit location is inaccurate so these are actually a the summit crater and on the E flank. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. The 2-km-wide island of Kadovar is the emergent summit of a Bismarck Sea stratovolcano of Holocene age. It is part of the Schouten Islands, and lies off the coast of New Guinea, about 25 km N of the mouth of the Sepik River. Prior to an eruption that began in 2018, a lava dome formed the high point of the andesitic volcano, filling an arcuate landslide scarp open to the south; submarine debris-avalanche deposits occur in that direction. Thick lava flows with columnar jointing forms low cliffs along the coast. The youthful island lacks fringing or offshore reefs. A period of heightened thermal phenomena took place in 1976. An eruption began in January 2018 that included lava effusion from vents at the summit and at the E coast.

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/); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov); Chrissie Goldrick, Australian Geographic, Level 7, 54 Park Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia (URL: https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/).


Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake persists during June-November 2019

Nyiragongo is a stratovolcano with a 1.2 km-wide summit crater containing an active lava lake that has been present since at least 1971. It is located the Virunga Volcanic Province (VVP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, part of the western branch of the East African Rift System. Typical volcanism includes strong and frequent thermal anomalies, primarily due to the lava lake, incandescence, gas-and-steam plumes, and seismicity. This report updates activity during June through November 2019 with the primary source information from monthly reports by the Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG) and satellite data.

In the July 2019 monthly report, OVG stated that the lava lake level had dropped during the month, with incandescence only visible at night (figure 68). In addition, the small eruptive cone within the crater, which has been active since 2014, decreased in activity during this timeframe. A MONUSCO (United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) helicopter overflight took photos of the lava lake and observed that the level had begun to rise on 27 July. Seismicity was relatively moderate throughout this reporting period; however, on 9-16 July and 21 August strong seismic swarms were recorded.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Webcam images of Nyiragongo on 20 July 2019 where incandescence is not visible during the day (left) but is observed at night (right). Incandescence is accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Courtesy of OVG.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data continued to show frequent and strong thermal anomalies within 5 km of the crater summit through November 2019 (figure 69). Similarly, the MODVOLC algorithm reported almost daily thermal hotspots (more than 600) within the summit crater between June 2019 through November. These data are corroborated with Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery and a photo from OVG on 19 December 2019 showing the active lava lake (figures 70 and 71).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Thermal anomalies at Nyiragongo from 3 January through November 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were frequent and strong. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (bands 12, 11, 8A) showed ongoing thermal activity (bright yellow-orange) at Nyiragongo during June through November 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Photo of the active lava lake in the summit crater at Nyiragongo on 19 December 2019. Incandescence is accompanied by a gas-and-steam plume. Courtesy of OVG via Charles Balagizi.

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

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; 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); Charles Balagizi (Twitter: @CharlesBalagizi, https://twitter.com/CharlesBalagizi).


Ebeko (Russia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ebeko

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent moderate explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall continue through November 2019

Activity at Ebeko includes frequent explosions that have generated ash plumes reaching altitudes of 1.5-6 km over the last several years, with the higher altitudes occurring since mid-2018 (BGVN 43:03, 43:06, 43:12, 44:07). Ash frequently falls in Severo-Kurilsk (7 km ESE), which is monitored by the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT). This activity continued during June through November 2019; the Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale).

Explosive activity during December 2018 through November 2019 often sent ash plumes to altitudes between 2.2 to 4.5 km, or heights of 1.1 to 3.4 km above the crater (table 8). Eruptions since 1967 have originated from the northern crater of the summit area (figure 20). Webcams occasionally captured ash explosions, as seen on 27 July 2019(figure 21). KVERT often reported the presence of thermal anomalies; particularly on 23 September 2019, a Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image showed a strong thermal signature at the crater summit accompanied by an ash plume (figure 22). Ashfall is relatively frequent in Severo-Kurilsk (7 km ESE) and can drift in different direction based on the wind pattern, which can be seen in satellite imagery on 30 October 2019 deposited NE and SE from the crater(figure 23).

Table 8. Summary of activity at Ebeko, December 2018-November 2019. S-K is Severo-Kurilsk (7 km ESE of the volcano). TA is thermal anomaly in satellite images. Data courtesy of KVERT.

Date Plume Altitude (km) Plume Distance Plume Directions Other Observations
30 Nov-07 Dec 2018 3.6 -- E Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 1, 4 Dec.
07-14 Dec 2018 3.5 -- E Explosions.
25 Jan-01 Feb 2019 2.3 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 27 Jan.
02-08 Feb 2019 2.3 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 4 Feb.
08-15 Feb 2019 2.5 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 11 Feb.
15-22 Feb 2019 3.6 -- -- Explosions.
22-26 Feb 2019 2.5 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 23-26 Feb.
01-02, 05 Mar 2019 -- -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 1, 5 Mar.
08-10 Mar 2019 4 30 km ENE Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 9-10 Mar.
15-19, 21 Mar 2019 4.5 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 15-16, 21 Mar.
22, 24-25, 27-28 Mar 2019 4.2 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 24-25, 27 Mar.
29-31 Mar, 01, 04 Apr 2019 3.2 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 31 Mar. TA on 31 Mar.
09 Apr 2019 2.2 -- -- Explosions.
12-15 Apr 2019 3.2 -- -- Explosions. TA on 13 Apr.
21-22, 24 Apr 2019 -- -- -- Explosions.
26 Apr-03 May 2019 3 -- -- Explosions.
04, 06-07 May 2019 3.5 -- -- Explosions. TA on 6 May.
12-13 May 2019 2.5 -- -- Explosions. TA 12-13 May.
16-20 May 2019 2.5 -- -- Explosions. TA on 16-17 May.
25-28 May 2019 3 -- -- Explosions. TA on 27-28 May.
03 Jun 2019 3 -- E Explosions.
12 Jun 2019 -- -- -- TA.
14-15 Jun 2019 2.5 -- NW, NE Explosions.
21-28 Jun 2019 -- -- -- TA on 23 June.
28 Jun-05 Jul 2019 4.5 -- Multiple Explosions. TA on 29 Jun, 1 Jul.
05-12 Jul 2019 3.5 -- S Explosions. TA on 11 Jul.
15-16 Jul 2019 2 -- S, SE Explosions. TA on 13-16, 18 Jul.
20-26 Jul 2019 4 -- Multiple Explosions. TA on 18, 20, 25 Jul
25-26, 29 Jul, 01 Aug 2019 2.5 -- Multiple Explosions.
02, 04 Aug 2019 3 -- SE Explosions. TA on 2, 4 Aug.
10-16 Aug 2019 3 -- SE Explosions. TA on 10, 12 Aug.
17-23 Aug 2019 3 -- SE Explosions. TA on 16 Aug.
23, 27-28 Aug 2019 3 -- E Explosions. TA on 23 Aug.
30-31 Aug, 03-05 Sep 2019 3 -- E, SE Explosions on 30 Aug, 3-5 Sep. TA on 30-31 Aug.
07-13 Sep 2019 3 -- S, SE, N Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 6 Sep. TA on 8 Sep.
13-15, 18 Sep 2019 2.5 -- E Explosions. TA on 15 Sep.
22-23 Sep 2019 3 -- E, NE Explosions. Ashfall in S-K.
27 Sep-04 Oct 2019 4 -- SE, E, NE Explosions.
07-08, 10 Oct 2019 2.5 -- E, NE Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 4-5 Oct. Weak TA on 8 Oct.
11-18 Oct 2019 4 -- NE Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 15 Oct. Weak TA on 12 Oct.
18, 20-21, 23 Oct 2019 3 -- N, E, SE Explosions. Weak TA on 20 Oct.
25-26, 29-30 Oct 2019 2.5 -- E, NE Explosions. Weak TA on 29 Oct.
02-06 Nov 2019 3 -- N, E, SE Explosions.
11-12, 14 Nov 2019 3 -- E, NE Explosions.
15-17, 20 Nov 2019 3 -- SE, NE Explosions.
22-23, 28 Nov 2019 2.5 -- SE, E Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 23 Nov.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Satellite image showing the summit crater complex at Ebeko, July 2019. Monthly mosaic image for July 2019, copyright 2019 Planet Labs, Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Webcam photo of an explosion and ash plume at Ebeko on 27 July 2019. Videodata by IMGG FEB RAS and KB GS RAS (color adjusted and cropped); courtesy of Institute of Volcanology and Seismology FEB RAS, KVERT.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Satellite images showing an ash explosion from Ebeko on 23 September 2019. Top image is in natural color (bands 4, 3, 2). Bottom image is using "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A) to show a thermal anomaly in the northern crater visible around the rising plume. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. A satellite image of Ebeko from Sentinel-2 (LC1 natural color, bands 4, 3, 2) on 30 October 2019 showing previous ashfall deposits on the snow going in multiple directions. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data detected four low-power thermal anomalies during the second half of July, and one each in the months of June, August, and October; no activity was recorded in September or November MODVOLC thermal alerts observed only one thermal anomaly between June through November 2019.

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

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://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/).


Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Nevado del Ruiz

Colombia

4.892°N, 75.324°W; summit elev. 5279 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash plumes with significant gas and steam emissions during January 2016-December 2017

Nevado del Ruiz is a glaciated volcano in Colombia (figure 86). It is known for the 13 November 1985 eruption that produced an ash plume and associated pyroclastic flows onto the glacier, triggering a lahar that approximately 25,000 people in the towns of Armero (46 km west) and Chinchiná (34 km east). Since 1985 activity has intermittently occurred at the Arenas crater. The eruption that began on 18 November 2014 included ash plumes dominantly dispersed to the NW of Arenas crater (BGVN 42:06). This bulletin summarizes activity during January 2016 through December 2017 and is based on reports by Servicio Geologico Colombiano and Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales, Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) notices, and satellite data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. A satellite image of Nevado del Ruiz showing the location of the active Arenas crater. September 2019 Monthly Mosaic image copyright Planet Labs 2019.

Activity during 2016. Throughout January 2016 ash and steam plumes were observed reaching up to a few kilometers. Significant water vapor and volcanic gases, especially SO2, were detected throughout the month. Thermal anomalies were detected in the crater on the 27th and 31st. Significant water vapor and volcanic gas plumes, in particular SO2, were frequently detected by the SCAN DOAS (Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy) station and satellite data (figure 87). A M3.2 earthquake was felt in the area on 18 January. Similar activity continued through February with notable ash plumes up to 1 km, and a M3.6 earthquake was felt on the 6th. Ash and gas-and-steam plumes were reported throughout March with a maximum of 3.5 km on the 31st (figure 88). Significant water vapor and gas plumes continued from the Arenas crater throughout the month, and a thermal anomaly was noted on the 28th. An increase in seismicity was reported on the 29th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Examples of SO2 plumes from Nevado del Ruiz detected by the Aura/OMI instrument on 10, 26, and 31 January 2019. Courtesy of Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Ash plumes at Nevado del Ruiz during March. Webcam images courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano, various 2016 reports.

The activity continued into April with a M 3.0 earthquake felt by nearby inhabitants on the 8th, an increase in seismicity reported in the week of 12-18, and another significant increase on the 28th with earthquakes felt around Manizales. Thermal anomalies were noted during 12-18 April with the largest on the 16th. Ash plumes continued through the month as well as significant steam-and-gas plumes. Ashfall was reported in Murillo on the 29th.

The elevated activity continued through May with significant steam plumes up to 1.7 km above the crater during the week of 10-16. Thermal anomalies were reported on the 11th and 12th. Steam, gas, and ash plumes reached 2.5 km above the crater and dispersed to the W and NW. Ashfall was reported in La Florida on the 20th (figure 89) and multiple ash plumes on the 22nd reached 2.5 km and resulted in the closure of the La Nubia airport in Manizales. Ash and gas-and-steam emission continued during June (figure 90).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Ash plumes at Nevado del Ruiz on 17, 18, and 20 May 2016 with fine ash deposited on a car in La Florida, Manizales on the 20th. Webcams located in the NE Guali sector of the volcano, courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano 20 May 2016 report.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Examples of gas-and-steam and ash plumes at Nevado del Ruiz during June and July 2016. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano (7 July 2016 report).

Similar activity was reported in July with gas-and-steam and ash plumes often dispersing to the NW and W. Ashfall was reported to the NW on 16 July (figure 91). Drumbeat seismicity was detected on 13, 15, 16, and 17 July, with two hours on the 16th being the longest duration episode do far. Drumbeat seismicity was noted by SGC as indicating dome growth. Significant water vapor and gas emissions continued through August. Ash plumes were reported through the month with plumes up to 1.3 km above the crater on 28 and 2.3 km on 29. Similar activity was reported through September as well as a thermal anomaly and ash deposition apparent in satellite data (figure 92). Drumbeat seismicity was noted again on the 17th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. The location of ashfall resulting from an explosion at Nevado del Ruiz on 16 July 2016 and a sample of the ash under a microscope. The ash is composed of lithics, plagioclase and pyroxene crystals, and minor volcanic glass. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano (16 July 2016 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. This Sentinel-2 thermal infrared satellite image shows elevated temperatures in the Nevado del Ruiz Arenas crater (yellow and orange) on 16 September 2016. Ash deposits are also visible to the NW of the crater. In this image blue is snow and ice. False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During the week of 4-10 October it was noted that activity consisting of regular ash plumes had been ongoing for 22 months. Ash plumes continued with reported plumes reaching 2.5 above the crater throughout October (figure 93), accompanied by significant steam and water vapor emissions. A M 4.4 earthquake was felt nearby on the 7th. Similar activity continued through November and December 2016 with plumes consisting of gas and steam, and sometimes ash reaching 2 km above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. An ash plume rising above Nevado del Ruiz on 27 October 2016. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano.

Activity during 2017. Significant steam and gas emissions, especially SO2, continued into early 2017. Ash plumes detected through seismicity were confirmed in webcam images and through local reports; the plumes reached a maximum height of 2.5 km above the volcano on the 6th (figure 94). Drumbeat seismicity was recorded during 3-9, and on 22 January. Inflation was detected early in the month and several thermal anomalies were noted.

Intermittent deformation continued into February. Significant steam-and-gas emissions continued with intermittent ash plumes reaching 1.5-2 km above the volcano. Thermal anomalies were noted throughout the month and there was a significant increase in seismicity during 23-26 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Ash plumes at Nevado del Ruiz on 6 January 2017. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano.

Thermal anomalies continued to be detected through March. Ash plumes continued to be observed and recorded in seismicity and maximum heights of 2 km above the volcano were noted. Deflation continued after the intermittent inflation the previous month. On 10-11 April a period of short-duration and very low-energy drumbeat seismicity was recorded. Significant gas and steam emission continued through April with intermittent ash plumes reaching 1.5 km above the volcano. Thermal anomalies were detected early in the month.

Unrest continued through May with elevated seismicity, significant steam-and-gas emissions, and ash plumes reaching 1.7 km above the crater. Five episodes of drumbeat seismicity were recorded on 29 May and intermittent deformation continued. There were no available reports for June and July.

Variable seismicity was recorded during August and deflation was measured in the first week. Gas-and-steam plumes were observed rising to 850 m above the crater on the 3rd, and 450 m later in the month. A thermal anomaly was noted on the 14th. There were no available reports for September through December.

On 18 December 2017 the Washington VAAC issued an advisory for an ash plume to 6 km that was moving west and dispersing. The plume was described as a "thin veil of volcanic ash and gasses" that was seen in visible satellite imagery, NOAA/CIMSS, and supported by webcam imagery.

Geologic Background. Nevado del Ruiz is a broad, glacier-covered volcano in central Colombia that covers more than 200 km2. Three major edifices, composed of andesitic and dacitic lavas and andesitic pyroclastics, have been constructed since the beginning of the Pleistocene. The modern cone consists of a broad cluster of lava domes built within the caldera of an older edifice. The 1-km-wide, 240-m-deep Arenas crater occupies the summit. The prominent La Olleta pyroclastic cone located on the SW flank may also have been active in historical time. Steep headwalls of massive landslides cut the flanks. Melting of its summit icecap during historical eruptions, which date back to the 16th century, has resulted in devastating lahars, including one in 1985 that was South America's deadliest eruption.

Information Contacts: Servicio Geologico Colombiano (SGC), Diagonal 53 No. 34-53 - Bogotá D.C., Colombia (URL: https://www2.sgc.gov.co/volcanes/index.html); Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales (URL: https://www.facebook.com/ovsmanizales); 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); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Sabancaya (Peru) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Sabancaya

Peru

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions, ash and SO2 plumes, thermal anomalies, and lava dome growth during June-November 2019

Sabancaya is an andesitic stratovolcano located in Peru. The most recent eruptive episode began in early November 2016, which is characterized by gas-and-steam and ash emissions, seismicity, and explosive events (BGVN 44:06). The ash plumes are dispersed by wind with a typical radius of 30 km, which occasionally results in ashfall. Current volcanism includes high seismicity, gas-and-steam emissions, ash and SO2 plumes, numerous thermal anomalies, and explosive events. This report updates information from June through November 2019 using information primarily from the Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP) and Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico) (OVI-INGEMMET).

Table 5. Summary of eruptive activity at Sabancaya during June-November 2019 based on IGP weekly reports, the Buenos Aires VAAC advisories, the HIGP MODVOLC hotspot monitoring algorithm, and Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data.

Month Avg. Daily Explosions by week Max plume Heights (km above crater) Plume drift MODVOLC Alerts Min Days with SO2 over 2 DU
Jun 2019 12, 13, 16, 17 2.6-3.8 30 km S, SW, E, SE, NW, NE 15 20
Jul 2019 23, 22, 16, 13 2.3-3.7 E, SE, S, NE 7 25
Aug 2019 12, 30, 25, 26 2-4.5 30 km NW, W S, NE, SE, SW 7 25
Sep 2019 29, 32, 24, 15 1.5-2.5 S, SE, E, W, NW, SW 14 26
Oct 2019 32, 36, 44, 48, 28 2.5-3.5 S, SE, SW, W 11 25
Nov 2019 58, 50, 47, 17 2-4 W, SW, S, NE, E 13 22

Explosions, ash emissions, thermal signatures, and high concentrations of SO2 were reported each week during June-November 2019 by IGP, the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), HIGP MODVOLC, and Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data (table 5). Thermal anomalies were visible in the summit crater, even in the presence of meteoric clouds and ash plumes were occasionally visible rising from the summit in clear weather (figure 68). The maximum plume height reached 4.5 km above the crater drifting NW, W, and S the week of 29 July-4 August, according to IGP who used surveillance cameras to visually monitor the plume (figure 69). This ash plume had a radius of 30 km, which resulted in ashfall in Colca (NW) and Huambo (W). On 27 July the SO2 levels reached a high of 12,814 tons/day, according to INGEMMET. An average of 58 daily explosions occurred in early November, which is the largest average of this reporting period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery detected ash plumes, gas-and-steam emissions, and multiple thermal signatures (bright yellow-orange) in the crater at Sabancaya during June-November 2019. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. A webcam image of an ash plume rising from Sabancaya on 1 August 2019 at least 4 km above the crater. Courtesy of IGP.

Seismicity was also particularly high between August and September 2019, according to INGEMMET. On 14 August, roughly 850 earthquakes were detected. There were 280 earthquakes reported on 15 September, located 6 km NE of the crater. Both seismic events were characterized as seismic swarms. Seismicity decreased afterward but continued through the reporting period.

In February 2017, a lava dome was established inside the crater. Since then, it has been growing slowly, filling the N area of the crater and producing thermal anomalies. On 26 October 2019, OVI-INGEMMET conducted a drone overflight and captured video of the lava dome (figure 70). According to IGP, this lava dome is approximately 4.6 million cubic meters with a growth rate of 0.05 m3/s.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. Drone images of the lava dome and degassing inside the crater at Sabancaya on 26 (top) and 27 (bottom) October 2019. Courtesy of INGEMMET (Informe Ténico No A6969).

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows strong, consistent thermal anomalies occurring all throughout June through November 2019 (figure 71). In conjunction with these thermal anomalies, the October 2019 special issue report by INGEMMET showed new hotspots forming along the crater rim in July 2018 and August 2019 (figure 72).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Thermal anomalies at Sabancaya for 3 January through November 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were frequent, strong, and consistent. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. Thermal hotspots on the NW section of the crater at Sabancaya using MIROVA images. These images show the progression of the formation of at least two new hotspots between February 2017 to August 2019. Courtesy of INGEMMET, Informe Técnico No A6969.

Sulfur dioxide emissions also persisted at significant levels from June through November 2019, as detected by Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data (figure 73). The satellite measurements of the SO2 emissions exceeded 2 DU (Dobson Units) at least 20 days each month during this time. These SO2 plumes sometimes occurred for multiple consecutive days (figure 74).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Consistent, large SO2 plumes from Sabancaya were seen in TROPOMI instrument satellite data throughout June-November 2019, many of which drifted in different directions based on the prevailing winds. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Persistent SO2 plumes from Sabancaya appeared daily during 13-16 September 2019 in the TROPOMI instrument satellite data. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP), Calle Badajoz N° 169 Urb. Mayorazgo IV Etapa, Ate, Lima 15012, Perú (URL: https://www.gob.pe/igp); Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico), Barrio Magisterial Nro. 2 B-16 Umacollo - Yanahuara Arequipa, Peru (URL: http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://SO2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); 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); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Karangetang (Indonesia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava flows, strong thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam emissions, and ash plumes during May-November 2019

Karangetang (also known as Api Siau), located on the island of Siau in the Sitaro Regency, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, has experienced more than 40 recorded eruptions since 1675 in addition to many smaller undocumented eruptions. In early February 2019, a lava flow originated from the N crater (Kawah Dua) traveling NNW and reaching a distance over 3 km. Recent monitoring showed a lava flow from the S crater (Kawah Utama, also considered the "Main Crater") traveling toward the Kahetang and Batuawang River drainages on 15 April 2019. Gas-and-steam emissions, ash plumes, moderate seismicity, and thermal anomalies including lava flow activity define this current reporting period for May through November 2019. The primary source of information for this report comes from daily and weekly reports by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM, or the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and satellite data.

PVMBG reported that white gas-and-steam emissions were visible rising above both craters consistently between May through November 2019 (figures 30 and 31). The maximum altitude for these emissions was 400 m above the Dua Crater on 27 May and 700 m above the Main Crater on 12 June. Throughout the reporting period PVMBG noted that moderate seismicity occurred, which included both shallow and deep volcanic earthquakes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. A Sentinel-2 image of Karangetang showing two active craters producing gas-and-steam emissions with a small amount of ash on 7 August 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Webcam images of gas-and-steam emissions rising from the summit of Karangetang on 14 (top) and 25 (bottom) October 2019. Courtesy of PVMBG via Øystein Lund Andersen.

Activity was relatively low between May and June 2019, consisting mostly of gas-and-steam emissions. On 26-27 May 2019 crater incandescence was observed above the Main Crater; white gas-and-steam emissions were rising from both craters (figures 32 and 33). At 1858 on 20 July, incandescent avalanches of material originating from the Main Crater traveled as far as 1 km W toward the Pangi and Kinali River drainages. By 22 July the incandescent material had traveled another 500 m in the same direction as well as 1 km in the direction of the Nanitu and Beha River drainages. According to a Darwin VAAC report, discreet, intermittent ash eruptions on 30 July resulted in plumes drifting W at 7.6 km altitude and SE at 3 km, as observed in HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Photograph of summit crater incandescence at Karangetang on 12 May 2019. Courtesy of Dominik Derek.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Photograph of both summit crater incandescence at Karangetang on 12 May 2019 accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Courtesy of Dominik Derek.

On 5 August 2019 a minor eruption produced an ash cloud that rose 3 km and drifted E. PVMBG reported in the weekly report for 5-11 August that an incandescent lava flow from the Main Crater was traveling W and SW on the slopes of Karangetang and producing incandescent avalanches (figure 34). During 12 August through 1 September lava continued to effuse from both the Main and Dua craters. Avalanches of material traveled as far as 1.5 km SW toward the Nanitu and Pangi River drainages, 1.4-2 km to the W of Pangi, and 1.8 km down the Sense River drainage. Lava fountaining was observed occurring up to 10 m above the summit on 14-20 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Photograph of summit crater incandescence and a lava flow from Karangetang on 7 August 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

PVMBG reported that during 2-22 September lava continued to effuse from both craters, traveling SW toward the Nanitu, Pangi, and Sense River drainages as far as 1.5 km. On 24 September the lava flow occasionally traveled 0.8-1.5 km toward the West Beha River drainage. The lava flow from the Main Crater continued through at least the end of November, moving SW and W as far as 1.5 km toward the Nanitu, Pangi, and Sense River drainages. In late October and onwards, incandescence from both summit craters was observed at night. The lava flow often traveled as far as 1 km toward the Batang and East Beha River drainage on 12 November, the West Beha River drainage on 15, 22, 24, and 29 November, and the Batang and West Beha River drainages on 25-27 November (figure 35). On 30 November a Strombolian eruption occurred in the Main Crater accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions rising 100 m above the Main Crater and 50 m above the Dua Crater. Lava flows traveled SW and W toward the Nanitu, Sense, and Pangi River drainages as far as 1.5 km, the West Beha and Batang River drainages as far as 1 km, and occasionally the Batu Awang and Kahetang River drainages as far as 2 km. Lava fountaining was reported occurring 10-25 m above the Main Crater and 10 m above the Dua Crater on 6, 8-12, 15, 21-30 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Webcam image of gas-and-steam emissions rising from the summit of Karangetang accompanied by incandescence and lava flows at night on 27 November 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia via Øystein Lund Andersen.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed consistent and strong thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit craters from late July through November 2019 (figure 36). Satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 corroborated this data, showing strong thermal anomalies and lava flows originating from both craters during this same timeframe (figure 37). In addition to these lava flows, satellite imagery also captured intermittent gas-and-steam emissions from May through November (figure 38). MODVOLC thermal alerts registered 165 thermal hotspots near Karangetang's summit between May and November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Frequent and strong thermal anomalies at Karangetang between 3 January through November 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) began in late July and were recorded within 5 km of the summit craters. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (bands 12, 11, 8A) confirmed ongoing thermal activity (bright orange) at Karangetang from July into November 2019. The lava flows traveled dominantly in the W direction from the Main Crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showing gas-and-steam emissions with a small amount of ash (middle and right) rising from both craters of Karangetang during May through November 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data detected multiple sulfur dioxide plumes between May and November 2019 (figure 39). These emissions occasionally exceeded 2 Dobson Units (DU) and drifted in different directions based on the dominant wind pattern.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. SO2 emissions from Karangetang (indicated by the red box) were seen in TROPOMI instrument satellite data during May through November 2019, many of which drifted in different directions based on the prevailing winds. Top left: 27 May 2019. Top middle: 26 July 2019. Top right: 17 August 2019. Bottom left: 27 September 2019. Bottom middle: 3 October 2019. Bottom right: 21 November 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Geologic Background. Karangetang (Api Siau) volcano lies at the northern end of the island of Siau, about 125 km NNE of the NE-most point of Sulawesi island. The stratovolcano contains five summit craters along a N-S line. It is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, with more than 40 eruptions recorded since 1675 and many additional small eruptions that were not documented in the historical record (Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World: Neumann van Padang, 1951). Twentieth-century eruptions have included frequent explosive activity sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows and lahars. Lava dome growth has occurred in the summit craters; collapse of lava flow fronts have produced pyroclastic flows.

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/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://SO2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Øystein Lund Andersen (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: https://www.oysteinlundandersen.com); Dominik Derek (URL: https://www.facebook.com/07dominikderek/).


Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ulawun

Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New vent, lava fountaining, lava flow, and ash plumes in late September-October 2019

Ulawun is a basaltic-to-andesitic stratovolcano located in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, with typical activity consisting of seismicity, gas-and-steam plumes, and ash emissions. The most recent eruption began in late June 2019 involving ash and gas-and-steam emissions, increased seismicity, and a pyroclastic flow (BGVN 44:09). This report includes volcanism from September to October 2019 with primary source information from the Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC).

Activity remained low through 26 September 2019, mainly consisting of variable amounts of gas-and-steam emissions and low seismicity. Between 26 and 29 September RVO reported that the seismicity increased slightly and included low-level volcanic tremors and Real-Time Seismic Amplitude Measurement (RSAM) values in the 200-400 range on 19, 20, and 22 September. On 30 September small volcanic earthquakes began around 1000 and continued to increase in frequency; by 1220, they were characterized as a seismic swarm. The Darwin VAAC advisory noted that an ash plume rose to 4.6-6 km altitude, drifting SW and W, based on ground reports.

On 1 October 2019 the seismicity increased, reaching RSAM values up to 10,000 units between 0130 and 0200, according to RVO. These events preceded an eruption which originated from a new vent that opened on the SW flank at 700 m elevation, about three-quarters of the way down the flank from the summit. The eruption started between 0430 and 0500 and was defined by incandescence and lava fountaining to less than 100 m. In addition to lava fountaining, light- to dark-gray ash plumes were visible rising several kilometers above the vent and drifting NW and W (figure 21). On 2 October, as the lava fountaining continued, ash-and-steam plumes rose to variable heights between 2 and 5.2 km (figures 22 and 23), resulting in ashfall to the W in Navo. Seismicity remained high, with RSAM values passing 12,000. A lava flow also emerged during the night which traveled 1-2 km NW. The main summit crater produced white gas-and-steam emissions, but no incandescence or other signs of activity were observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Photographs of incandescence and lava fountaining from Ulawun during 1-2 October 2019. A) Lava fountains along with ash plumes that rose several kilometers above the vent. B) Incandescence and lava fountaining seen from offshore. Courtesy of Christopher Lagisa.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Photographs of an ash plume rising from Ulawun on 1 October 2019. In the right photo, lava fountaining is visible. Courtesy of Christopher Lagisa.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Photograph of lava fountaining and an ash plume rising from Ulawun on 1 October 2019. Courtesy of Joe Metto, WNB Provincial Disaster Office (RVO Report 2019100101).

Ash emissions began to decrease by 3 October 2019; satellite imagery and ground observations showed an ash cloud rising to 3 km altitude and drifting N, according to the Darwin VAAC report. RVO reported that the fissure eruption on the SW flank stopped on 4 October, but gas-and-steam emissions and weak incandescence were still visible. The lava flow slowed, advancing 3-5 m/day, while declining seismicity was reflected in RSAM values fluctuating around 1,000. RVO reported that between 23 and 31 October the main summit crater continued to produce variable amounts of white gas-and-steam emissions (figure 24) and that no incandescence was observed after 5 October. Gas-and-steam emissions were also observed around the new SW vent and along the lava flow. Seismicity remained low until 27-29 October; it increased again and peaked on 30 October, reaching an RSAM value of 1,700 before dropping and fluctuating around 1,200-1,500.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Webcam photo of a gas-and-steam plume rising from Ulawun on 30 October 2019. Courtesy of the Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO).

In addition to ash plumes, SO2 plumes were also detected between September and October 2019. Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI data showed SO2 plumes, some of which exceeded 2 Dobson Units (DU) drifting in different directions (figure 25). MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed strong, frequent thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit beginning in early October 2019 and throughout the rest of the month (figure 26). Only one thermal anomaly was detected in early December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI data showing a high concentration of SO2 plumes rising from Ulawun between late September-early October 2019. Top left: 11 September 2019. Top right: 1 October 2019. Bottom left: 2 October 2019. Bottom right: 3 October 2019. Courtesy of the NASA Space Goddard Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Frequent and strong thermal anomalies at Ulawun for February through December 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) began in early October and continued throughout the month. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity in November was relatively low, with only a variable amount of white gas-and-steam emissions visible and low (less than 200 RSAM units) seismicity with sporadic volcanic earthquakes. Between 9-22 December, a webcam showed intermittent white gas-and-steam emissions were observed at the main crater, accompanied by some incandescence at night. Some gas-and-steam emissions were also observed rising from the new SW vent along the lava flow.

Geologic Background. The symmetrical basaltic-to-andesitic Ulawun stratovolcano is the highest volcano of the Bismarck arc, and one of Papua New Guinea's most frequently active. The volcano, also known as the Father, rises above the N coast of the island of New Britain across a low saddle NE of Bamus volcano, the South Son. The upper 1,000 m is unvegetated. A prominent E-W escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and E flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side, and a flank lava-flow complex lies to the south of this valley. Historical eruptions date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions were mildly explosive until 1967, but after 1970 several larger eruptions produced lava flows and basaltic pyroclastic flows, greatly modifying the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; 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/); 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/); Christopher Lagisa, West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea (URL: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.lagisa, images posted at https://www.facebook.com/christopher.lagisa/posts/730662937360239 and https://www.facebook.com/christopher.lagisa/posts/730215604071639).


Nyamuragira (DR Congo) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyamuragira

DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E; summit elev. 3058 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strong thermal anomalies and fumaroles within the summit crater during June-November 2019

Nyamuragira (also known as Nyamulagira) is a high-potassium basaltic shield volcano located in the Virunga Volcanic Province (VVP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Previous volcanism consisted of the reappearance of a lava lake in the summit crater in mid-April 2018, lava emissions, and high seismicity (BGVN 44:05). Current activity includes strong thermal signatures, continued inner crater wall collapses, and continued moderate seismicity. The primary source of information for this June-November 2019 report comes from the Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG) and satellite data and imagery from multiple sources.

OVG reported in the July 2019 monthly that the inner crater wall collapses that were observed in May continued to occur. During this month, there was a sharp decrease in the lava lake level, and it is no longer visible. However, the report stated that lava fountaining was visible from a small cone within this crater, though its activity has also decreased since 2014. In late July, a thermal anomaly and fumaroles were observed originating from this cone (figure 85). Seismicity remained moderate throughout this reporting period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. Photograph showing the small active cone within the crater of Nyamuragira in late July 2019. Fumaroles are also observed within the crater originating from the small cone. Courtesy of Sergio Maguna.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows strong, frequent thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit between June through November (figure 86). The strength of these thermal anomalies noticeably decreases briefly in September. MODVOLC thermal alerts registered 54 thermal hotspots dominantly near the N area of the crater during June through November 2019. Satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 corroborated this data, showing strong thermal anomalies within the summit crater during this same timeframe (figure 87).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity (log radiative power) at Nyamuragira during 30 January through November 2019 shows strong, frequent thermal anomalies through November with a brief decrease in activity in late April-early May and early September. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (bands 12, 11, 8A) confirmed ongoing thermal activity at Nyamuragira into November 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Africa's most active volcano, Nyamuragira, is a massive high-potassium basaltic shield about 25 km N of Lake Kivu. Also known as Nyamulagira, it has generated extensive lava flows that cover 1500 km2 of the western branch of the East African Rift. The broad low-angle shield volcano contrasts dramatically with the adjacent steep-sided Nyiragongo to the SW. The summit is truncated by a small 2 x 2.3 km caldera that has walls up to about 100 m high. Historical eruptions have occurred within the summit caldera, as well as from the numerous fissures and cinder cones on the flanks. A lava lake in the summit crater, active since at least 1921, drained in 1938, at the time of a major flank eruption. Historical lava flows extend down the flanks more than 30 km from the summit, reaching as far as Lake Kivu.

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; 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/); Sergio Maguna (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sergio.maguna.9, images posted at https://www.facebook.com/sergio.maguna.9/posts/1267625096730837).

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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 Smet, 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 Smet, 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 part of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rise above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The sharp-topped, conical profile 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 vents, with activity progressing W towards the most recent, 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 took place between about 13,000 and 5,000 years ago. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a prominent horseshoe-shaped scarp formed about 5,000 years ago due to 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.

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


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/).