Logo link to homepage

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

Ambrym (Vanuatu) Fissure eruption in mid-December 2018 produces fountaining and lava flows; no activity evident in caldera after 17 December

Fournaise, Piton de la (France) One-day eruptive events in April and July; 5-week eruption 27 April-1 June 2018

Negra, Sierra (Ecuador) Fissure opens on NNE caldera rim 26 June 2018, NW-flank lava flows reach the sea

Great Sitkin (United States) Small phreatic explosions in June and August 2018; ash deposit on snow near summit

Alaid (Russia) Small ash plume reported on 21 August 2018

Aira (Japan) Activity increased at Minamidake and decreased at Showa crater in early 2018

Suwanosejima (Japan) Intermittent ash emission continues from January through June 2018

Etna (Italy) Degassing continues, accompanied by intermittent ash emissions and small Strombolian explosions in June and July 2018

Stromboli (Italy) Continued Strombolian activity from five active summit vents through March-June 2018

Agung (Indonesia) Ash explosions and lava dome effusion continue during January-July 2018

Fernandina (Ecuador) Brief eruptive episode 16-22 June 2018, lava flows down N flank into the ocean

Fuego (Guatemala) Pyroclastic flows on 3 June 2018 cause at least 110 fatalities, 197 missing, and extensive damage; ongoing ash explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars



Ambrym (Vanuatu) — January 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambrym

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fissure eruption in mid-December 2018 produces fountaining and lava flows; no activity evident in caldera after 17 December

Ambrym is a shield volcano in the Vanuatu archipelago with a 12-km-wide summit caldera containing the persistently active Benbow and Marum craters. These craters are home to multiple active vents that produce episodic lava lakes, explosions, lava flows, ash, and gas emissions. Occasional fissure eruptions occur outside of these main craters. This report covers July to December 2018 and summarizes reports by the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department (VMGD), the Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and multiple sources of satellite data.

As of the beginning of the reporting period, the hazard status at Ambrym had remained at Volcanic Alert Level 2 ("Major unrest") since 7 December 2017. Monthly VMGD activity reports describe the continued activity within the two main craters, consisting of multiple lava lakes, sustained substantial degassing and steam emission, and seismic unrest. Frequent thermal anomalies were detected throughout the reporting period (figure 42). The danger areas were confined to the Permanent Exclusion Zone within a 1 km radius of Benbow crater, and the Permanent Exclusion Zone and Danger Zone A within about a 2.7 km radius of Marum crater (including Maben-Mbwelesu, Niri-Mbwelesu and Mbwelesu, see BGVN 43:07, figure 38).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Plot of MODIS thermal infrared data analyzed by MIROVA showing the log radiative power of thermal anomalies at Ambrym for the year ending on 1 February 2019. After the December 2018 eruption no further thermal anomalies were noted for the reporting period. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Observations and seismic data analysis by VMGD confirmed the onset of a small-scale intra-caldera fissure eruption at 0600 local time on 15 December. This new fissure produced lava fountains and lava flows with ash and gas plumes (figure 43). Footage of the eruption by John Tasso shows the fissure eruption to the SE of Marum crater producing lava fountaining. A Sentinel-2 satellite image shows a white eruption plume and two new lava flow lobes (figure 44); the actual fissure vent was hidden by the plume. The northernmost lava flow filled in the 500 x 900 m Lewolembwi crater and a smaller lobe continued to flow towards the E (figure 44). Due to this elevated activity, the Volcanic Alert Level was raised to 3 ("Minor eruption"), with the danger zones increased to a 2 km radius around Benbow crater and a 4 km radius around Marum crater. VMGD warned of additional risk within 3 km of eruptive fissures in the SE caldera area.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Image of the fissure eruption producing lava fountaining at Ambrym volcano, taken from a video recorded by John Tasso on 16 December 2018.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Satellite imagery showing the Ambrym caldera area in November-December 2018. Top: True color Landsat-8 satellite image acquired on 13 December 2018 showing the area prior to the fissure eruption. Bottom: False-color infrared Sentinel-2 composite image (bands 12, 11, and 4) showing the multiple active vents and lava lakes within Marum and Benbow craters (top third of the image, acquired on 25 November 2018), and the eruption plume and the bright orange/red lava flow fronts in the bottom of the image (acquired on 15 December 2018); the fissure is obscured by the plume. Courtesy of Sentinel-Hub Playground.

Through 16-17 December, ash and gas emission continued from Benbow and Marum craters (figures 45 and 46), accompanied by ongoing localized seismicity; earthquakes with a magnitude greater than five were felt on neighboring islands. The Wellington VAAC issued ash advisories on 16 and 17 December noting maximum cloud altitudes of approximately 8 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Ash emission from Ambrym volcano at 1600 on 16 December 2018. Webcam image courtesy of, and annotated by, VMGD.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Elevated atmospheric SO2 emissions from Ambrym on 17 December 2018 with a total measured mass of 23.383 kt in this scene. The units on the scale bar reflect SO2 in terms of Dobson Units (DU). Courtesy of the NASA Goddard Flight Center Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory.

From 14 to 26 December, the National Volcano Monitoring Network detected over 4,500 earthquakes related to the eruptive activity, but locally felt seismicity decreased. Analysis of satellite imagery confirmed surface deformation associated with the increase in activity. Media reports from Radio New Zealand indicated that seismic activity during December resulted in ground rupture and damage to homes on the island and residents were moved to evacuation centers.

During the reporting period, thermal anomalies were frequently detected by the MODIS satellite instruments and subsequently analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm, reflecting the lava lake activity in Benbow and Marum craters, as well additional thermal anomalies during the December 2018 fissure eruption and subsequent lava flows to the SE of the main crater area (figures 47 and 48).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. MODVOLC Thermal Alert System from July through December 2018 showing the two active craters of Ambrym, Benbow and Marum, and the December 2018 fissure eruption. Red areas indicate approximate locations of Thermal Anomaly detections along with the number of detections. Courtesy of HIGP - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. MODVOLC thermal alerts detected over Ambrym volcano during July 2018 through December 2018 showing hot spots located at Benbow and Marum craters and the December 2018 fissure eruption. Courtesy of HIGP - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

As of 7 January 2019, Ambrym remains on Alert Level 3 with continued seismic activity. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system has not detected any recent thermal anomalies, indicating the end of the fissure eruption and a reduction in activity at the main craters.

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

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); 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/); Radio New Zealand, 155 The Terrace, Wellington 6011, New Zealand (URL: https://www.radionz.co.nz/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); John Tasso, Vanuatu Island Experience, Port Vatu, West Ambrym, Vanuatu (URL: http://vanuatuislandexperience.com/).


Piton de la Fournaise (France) — September 2018 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)


One-day eruptive events in April and July; 5-week eruption 27 April-1 June 2018

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. The most recent episode occurred during 14 July-28 August 2017 with a 450-m-long fissure on the S flank inside the Enclos Fouqué caldera about 850 m W of Château Fort. Three eruptive episodes occurred during March-August 2018, the period covered in this report; two lasted for one day each on the N flank in April and July, and one lasting from late April through May located on the S flank. Information is provided primarily by the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF) as well as satellite instruments.

The first of three eruptive events during March-August 2018 occurred during 3-4 April and was a 1-km-long fissure that opened in seven segments with two eruptive vents. It was located on the N flank of the central cone, just S of the Nez Coupé de Sainte Rose on the rim of the caldera. A longer lasting eruptive event began on 27 April and was located in the cratère Rivals area on the S flank of the central cone. The main fissure had three eruptive vents initially, only one of which produced lava that flowed in tunnels away from the site toward the S rim of the Enclos Fouqué caldera. The longest flow reached 3 km in length and set fires at the base of the rampart rim of the caldera. Flow activity gradually decreased throughout May, and seismic tremor ceased, indicating the end of the event, on 1 June 2018. A third, brief event on 13 July 2018 produced four fissures with 20-m-high incandescent lava and aa flows that traveled several hundred meters across the NNW flank of the central cone, covering a large section of the most popular hiking trail to the summit. The event only lasted for about 18 hours but caused significant geomorphologic change as the first flow activity in that area in several hundred years.

The MIROVA plot of thermal energy from 6 February-1 September 2018 clearly shows two of the three eruptive events that took place during that period. The 27 April to 1 June event produced an initial very strong thermal signature that decreased throughout May. Cooling after the flow ceased continued for most of June. The one-day eruptive event on 13 July was also recorded, but the similarly brief event on 3-4 April was not captured in the thermal data (figure 126).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 126. The MIROVA plot of thermal energy from Piton de La Fournaise from 6 February-1 September 2018 clearly shows two of the three eruptive events that took place during that period. The longest event, from 27 April to 1 June produced an initial very strong thermal signature that decreased throughout May. Cooling after the flow ceased continued for most of June. A brief one-day eruptive event on 13 July was also recorded. A similarly brief event on 3-4 April was not recorded. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Eruptive event of 3-4 April 2018. Minor inflation and seismicity were intermittent from the end of August 2017 when the last eruptive episode ended. Significant seismic activity around the summit resumed on 23 March 2018 and accelerated through the end of the month. Inflation continued throughout March as well. A change of composition was detected in the summit fumaroles on 23 March 2018; the fluids were enriched in CO2 and SO2. Beginning on 3 April around 0550 local time, OVPF reported a seismic swarm and deformation consistent with magma rising towards the surface. Seismic tremor began around 1040 in an area on the N flank near the Nez Coupé de Sainte Rose. The tremor intensity continued to increase throughout the day; OVPF visually confirmed the eruption around 1150 in the morning on the upper part of the N flank (figure 127).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 127. The eruptive site at Piton de la Fournaise on 3 April 2018 on the N flank near the Nez Coupé de Sainte Rose. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du 03 avril 2018 à 16h30 heure locale).

A helicopter overflight in mid-afternoon revealed a 1-km-long fissure that had opened in seven distinct segments; lava fountains emerged from two of the segments. The last active segment was just below the rampart of the Nez Coupé de Sainte Rose (figure 128). Both seismic and surface eruptive activity stopped abruptly the following day at 0400.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 128. The brief eruption of 3-4 April 2018 was located on the N flank of the central crater near the Nez Coupé de Sainte Rose, a point on the rampart rim of the Enclos. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du 03 avril 2018 à 16h30 heure locale).

Eruptive event of 27 April-1 June 2018. OVPF reported 2.5 cm of inflation in the 15 days after the 3-4 April eruption. Seismic activity resumed at the base of the summit area on 21 April, and a new seismic swarm began at 2015 local time on 27 April. This was followed three hours later by tremor activity indicating the beginning of a new eruptive event from fissures that opened on the S flank in the area of cratère Rivals (figure 129). Four fissures opened; one on each side of the crater and one cutting across it were initially active, but activity moved the next morning to a fourth fissure just downstream from Rivals crater and extended for less than 300 m. Fountains of lava rose to 30 m during a morning overflight on 28 April. Several streams of lava quickly coalesced into a single flow heading S towards the rampart at the rim of the Enclos Fouqué (figure 130). By 0830 on 28 April the flow was less than 300 m from the rim and had destroyed an OVPF seismic station and a GPS station. The OMI instrument on the Aura satellite recorded a significant SO2 plume from the event on 28 April (figure 131).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 129. A fissure extended about 300 m S from the Rivals crater on the S flank of the cone at Piton de la Fournaise on 28 April 2018 where a new eruptive event began the previous evening. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du samedi 28 avril 2018 à 10h00 heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 130. The flow from the new fissure near Rival crater at Piton de la Fournaise had flowed to within 300 m of the Enclos Fouqué caldera rim by 0830 on 28 April 2018. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du samedi 28 avril 2018 à 10h00 heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 131. An SO2 plume of 9.51 Dobson Units (DU) drifted NW from Reunion Island on 28 April 2018 where Piton de la Fournaise began a new eruptive episode the previous evening. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Tremor activity decreased throughout the day on 28 April while the flow continued. The surface flow rate was measured initially at 8-15 m3 per second; it had slowed to 3-7 m3 per second by late that afternoon. Three active vents were observed on the morning of 29 April that continued the next day with fountains rising about 15 m (figure 132). A small cone (less than 5 m high) had grown around the southernmost vent and the larger middle vent contained a small lava lake. Visible lava was flowing only from the middle vent. The flow consisted of three branches; the two spreading to the E were less than 150 m long while the third flow traveled W past the E Cassian crater and had reached 1.2 km in length by 1020 on 30 April. On 30 April OVPF observed a flow from the previous day that had traveled 2.6 km, reaching the foot of the S edge of the l'Enclos Fouqué rampart.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 132. Lava flowed from three active vents near the Rival crater at Piton de la Fournaise on 30 April 2018. A small cone (less than 5 m high) had grown around the southernmost vent (bottom center) and the larger middle vent contained a small lava lake. Lava was actively flowing from only the middle vent. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du lundi 30 avril 2018 à 16h00 heure locale).

OVPF noted on 2 May 2018 that the intensity of volcanic tremor remained stable, slight deflation was measured, and the surface flow rate was estimated from satellite data at 1-3 m3 per second. Field observations during the afternoon of 3 May indicated that most activity was occurring from the central vent which had grown into a small pyroclastic cone with incandescent ejecta and gas emissions (figure 133). A well-developed lava tunnel had a number of roof breakouts.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 133. The eruptive site at Piton de la Fournaise on 3 May 2018 had two main vents, the larger pyroclastic cone produced incandescent ejecta and dense gas plumes. Courtesy of OVPF (©IPGP/OVPF) (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 4 mai 2018 à 15h00 heure locale).

Field reconnaissance during 6-7 May confirmed that most of the activity was concentrated at the central cone with incandescent ejecta rising less than 10 m from the top, and the only source of lava was enclosed in a tunnel. The front of the flow was still active with numerous fires reported at the base of the rampart at the rim of the Enclos Fouqué. The farthest upstream cone was still active, but weak with only occasional bursts of incandescent ejecta. By 10 May the intensity of the volcanic tremor had stabilized at a low level. Two cones remained active, the upstream cone had incandescent ejections rising 10-20 m high. Lava was contained in tunnels near the cones but was exposed below the Piton de Bert (figure 134). The frontal lobe of the flow was located 3 km from the eruptive site, downstream of Piton de Bert (figure 135) at the base of the rampart rim of the Enclos. Numerous fires continued at the base of the rampart due to fresh flows (figure 136).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 134. Lava flows were visible on the slope break below Piton de Bert at Piton de la Fournaise on 10 May 2018. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 10 mai 2018 à 18h30 heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 135. By 10 May 2018, the front of the flow from the 27 April eruptive event at Piton de la Fournaise was located 3 km from the eruptive site downstream from Piton de Bert. Courtesy of OVPF and Google Earth (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 10 mai 2018 à 18h30 heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 136. Fires started by active lava flows affected the base of the rampart rim of the Enclos at Piton de la Fournaise on 10 May 2018. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 10 mai 2018 à 18h30 heure locale).

A minor spike in seismicity was recorded on 15 May 2018; at the same time inflation resumed underneath the caldera. The smaller, farthest upstream cone was the most active on 16 May, with 20-30 m high ejecta. A webcam view on 24 May showed that the vent on the larger pyroclastic cone was nearly closed, and that flow activity was largely contained in tunnels. Field observations that day also confirmed the overall decrease in activity; only a single incandescent zone in the lava field near the vent was observed at nightfall, although persistent degassing continued (figure 137).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 137. By 24 May 2018, activity at Piton de la Fournaise from the eruptive episode that began on 27 April had diminished significantly as seen in this view of the eruptive site near the Rival crater. Photo courtesy of Cité du Volcan and OVPF (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 25 mai 2018 à 15h00 heure locale).

An overflight on 29 May confirmed the decreasing flow activity and continued inflation. Only rare tongues of lava could be observed in the flow field. The flow front had not progressed eastward for the previous 15 days. The main cone remained open at the top with a small eruptive vent less than 5 m in diameter. Small collapses and slumps were visible on the outer flanks of the cone (figure 138). The height of the main cone was estimated at 22-25 m on 31 May and the second vent was observed to be completely closed off. OVPF reported the end of the eruption at 1430 on 1 June 2018 based on the cessation of seismic tremor (figure 139). The MODVOLC thermal alert system recorded multiple thermal alerts from 27 April through 29 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 138. The main cone of the eruptive event at Piton de la Fournaise remained open at the top with a small eruptive vent less than 5 m in diameter on 29 May 2018 that produced abundant steam and gas. Small collapses and slumps were visible on the outer flanks of the cone. N is to the upper left of image. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP ) (Bulletin d'activité du mercredi 30 mai 2018 à 15h30 heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 139. The evolution of the RSAM signal (indicator of the volcanic tremor and the intensity of the eruption) at Piton de l aFournaise between 27 April 2018 at 2000 and 1430 on 1 June at the seismic station of BOR, located at the summit of the central cone. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin exceptionnel du vendredi 1 juin 2018 à 15h00 heure locale).

Eruptive event of 13 July 2018. Throughout June 2018, very little activity was reported; only 23 shallow seismic events were recorded during the month and no significant deformation was measured by the OVPF deformation network. OVPF reported that inflation resumed around 1 July. A sharp increase in seismicity was observed beginning at 2340 local time on 12 July followed by a seismic swarm and rapid deformation around midnight. Tremor activity was recorded beginning about 0330 on 13 July and located on the N flank. The first images of the eruption were visible in a webcam at around 0430. Four eruptive fissures were observed in an overflight that morning around 0800 that opened over a 500-m-long zone, spreading from upstream of la Chapelle de Rosemont towards Formica Leo. Incandescent ejecta rose less than 20 m and the aa lava had flowed about 200 m from the fissures (figures 140 and 142). The lava flow propagation rate was estimated at about 6 m per minute during the first hour of activity. Thereafter, the rate continued to decrease to less than 1 m per minute at the end of the eruption. After a progressive decrease of tremor, and about 3 hours of "gas flushes" that are typically observed at the end of Piton de la Fournaise eruptions (according to OVPF), the eruption stopped on 13 July at 2200 local time. Both MIROVA and MODVOLC recorded thermal anomalies from the brief one-day event (figure 126).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 140. A new eruption at Piton de la Fournaise on 13 July 2018 lasted only a single day and produced a 500-m-long zone with four fissure vents located on the N flank of the cone near la Chapelle de Rosemont and flowing towards Formica Leo. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 13 juillet 2018 à 10h30 heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 141. Four fissure vents on the N flank of the central cone near la Chapelle de Rosemont produced ejecta and lava flows for about 18 hours on 13 July 2018 at Piton de la Fournaise. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 13 juillet 2018 à 10h30 heure locale).

The 13 July 2018 eruption lasted about 18 hours and produced about 0.3 million m3 of lava. Lava flows covered more than 400 m of the popular hiking trail leading to the summit (figure 142 and 143) and almost completely filled the Chapelle de Rosemont (figure 144), an old vent and a characteristic feature within the Enclos Fouqué landscape that was first described in reports of the early volcano expeditions at the end of the 18th century. This area of the volcano on the NNW flank had not experienced active eruptive events for at least the past 400 years. Despite the low volume of lava emitted and its short duration, this event significantly changed the geomorphology of the area, which was quite well known and popular with visitors. Inflation resumed after the eruptive event of 13 July and a brief pulse of seismic activity was reported by OVPF on 26 July. They noted on 13 August that after about a month of inflation, seismicity and inflation both ceased.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 142. The brief 13 July 2018 eruptive event covered an area on the NNW flank of the central cone that had not had active flow activity for at least 400 years. Photo taken midday on 13 July 2018. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (July 2018 Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 143. The area of the lava flows covered during the 13 July 2018 eruption are shown in white, the fissures are shown in red, and the popular hiking trail to the summit is shown in yellow. Over 400 m of the trail was covered with fresh flows. The fissures were located on the NNW flank in the area of the Chapelle de Rosemont, an old vent. The base map was produced by OVPF using aerial and ground-based photographs that were processed by means of stereophotogrammetry. Courtesy of OVPF (July 2018 Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 144. Fresh, dark lava covers the Chapelle de Rosemont on 14 July 2018 after a one-day eruption at Piton de la Fournaise the previous day. The area was first described by explorers in the 18th century and had not seen recent flow activity. Courtesy of OVPF (© OVPF/IPGP) (July 2018 Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise).

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 (OVPF), 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/fr); 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/); 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/).


Sierra Negra (Ecuador) — September 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Sierra Negra

Ecuador

0.83°S, 91.17°W; summit elev. 1124 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fissure opens on NNE caldera rim 26 June 2018, NW-flank lava flows reach the sea

Sierra Negra shield volcano on the Galápagos Island of Isabela has erupted six times since 1948, most recently in 2005. The eruptions of 2005, 1979, 1963, and 1953 were located in the area known as 'Volcán Chico' near the NNE rim of the summit caldera, which extends about 9 km E-W and 7 km N-S (figure 12). The lava flows generated in these eruptions were directed mainly towards the N and NE flanks of Sierra Negra, in some cases reaching Elizabeth Bay to the N and in others filling the interior of the caldera (figure 13). A new effusive eruption that occurred from 26 June through August 2018 is covered in this report with information provided primarily by Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN). Additional information comes from the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and several sources of satellite information.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Sierra Negra is located on the southern part of Isabela Island in the Galápagos National Park, Ecuador. Courtesy of IG (Informe Especial Nº 2, Volcán Sierra Negra- Islas Galápagos: Descripción del estado de agitación interna y posibles escenarios eruptivos, 12 January 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. The Sierra Negra caldera with the locations of GPS stations and the fissures, vents, and flows from the 2005 eruption. From Geist et al. (2005), courtesy of IG (Informe Especial Nº 2, Volcán Sierra Negra- Islas Galápagos: Descripción del estado de agitación interna y posibles escenarios eruptivos, 12 January 2018).

Beginning in 2017, the Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School (IGEPN) installed a surveillance network of six broadband seismic stations for the Galápagos volcanoes. One station is located on the NE edge of the Sierra Negra caldera and another on the SE flank. After 12 years of little activity, an increase in seismicity beneath and around the caldera became evident by July 2017 (figure 14). On 19 October 2017 (local time) the seismic monitors detected a 16-km-deep M 3.8 earthquake with an epicenter on the NE border of the caldera in the vicinity of Volcán Chico. Four additional similar earthquakes occurred within the next hour. Another earthquake of similar size occurred on 22 October; between 15 and 16 November, three earthquakes with M 3.0 or greater were recorded. The frequency of seismic activity increased significantly in December 2017, with over 550 events recorded during the first three weeks of December 2017; at least three had magnitudes greater than 3. GPS receivers showed uplift of the caldera floor of 80 cm between 2013 and 2017. InSAR interferometry data indicated substantial inflation of the caldera floor of about 70 cm between December 2016 and late November 2017, reaching a level higher than that which preceded the eruption of 2005 (figure 15).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. The number of daily seismic events at Sierra Negra between 13 May 2015 and 23 November 2017 show a distinct increase in activity by July 2017. The colors represent different types of earthquakes; red is VT or volcanotectonic, orange is LP or Long Period, and blue is HB or Hybrid. Courtesy of IG (Informe Especial Sierra Negra N.- 2, Actividad reciente del volcán Sierra Negra – Isla Isabela, 23 November 2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Inflation of the caldera floor at Sierra Negra between December 2016 and November 2017 exceeded 70 cm. The left graph shows the displacement plotted in centimeters versus time, and the right image is the spatial deformation from the InSAR data showing inflation at the caldera (center) and on the SW coast of Isla Isabela. Figures courtesy of Falk Amelung (RSMAS) and IG (Informe Especial Sierra Negra N.- 2, Actividad reciente del volcán Sierra Negra – Isla Isabela, 23 November 2017).

By early January 2018, inflation over the preceding 12 months was close to 1 m, with a total inflation exceeding that prior to the 2005 eruption. Seismic activity, focused on two fracture zones trending NE-SW across the summit caldera, continued to increase until 26 June 2018 when a fissure opened near Volcán Chico on the NNE caldera rim. Over the next 24 hours four fissures opened on the N rim and the NW flank. Three of the fissures were active only for this period, but the fourth, on the NW flank about 7 km below the caldera rim, continued to effuse lava for all of July and most of August 2018. Lava flows reached the sea in early July. Several pulses of increased effusive activity corresponded with increased seismic, thermal, and gas-emission activity recorded by both ground-based and satellite instrumentation. By the last week of August active flows were no longer observed, although the cooling flows continued to emit thermal signals for several weeks.

Activity during January-early June 2018. Elevated seismicity continued into 2018 with a M 3.8 event recorded on 6 January 2018 that was felt by tourists, guides, and Galápagos National Park officials. Tens of additional smaller events continued throughout the month, reaching more than 100 seismic events per day a few times; the earthquakes were located below the caldera at a depth of less than 8 km. A M 4.1 event on 10 January was located at a depth of 7 km. By 12 January, the total inflation of the caldera since the beginning of 2017 was 98 cm (figure 16).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Seismicity and deformation at Sierra Negra between 13 May 2015 and 28 December 2017. The orange line represents the cumulative VT earthquakes, and the blue points record the inflation in cm of the floor accumulated since the beginning of 2015. A change in slope of both curves is evident at the end of 2017 indicating the rate of increase of inflation and seismicity. Courtesy of IG (Informe Especial Nº 2, Volcán Sierra Negra- Islas Galápagos: Descripción del estado de agitación interna y posibles escenarios eruptivos, 12 January 2018).

IG reported 14 seismic events with magnitudes ranging from 3.0-4.6 between 1 January and 19 March 2018. A M 4.4 event on 18 January was located less than 1 km below the surface with an epicenter on the S rim of the caldera. A M 4.1 event on 27 February was also located less than 1 km below the surface. A M 4.6 event on 14 March was the largest to date at Sierra Negra and was located only 0.3 km below the surface. Measurements of CO2, SO2, and H2S made at the Azufral fumarole field (figure 17) on the W rim of the caldera in early February did not have values significantly different compared to May 2014 and September 2017. With the continued increase in frequency and magnitude of shallow seismic activity, IG noted the increased risk of renewed eruptive activity, and noted that most of the active flows of the last 1,000 years were located on the N flank (figure 18).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. A fumarole field near Azufral on the W rim of the Sierra Negra caldera on 6 February 2018 remained unchanged after several months of increased seismicity in the area. Photo by M. Almeida, courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sierra Negra (Islas Galápagos) -2018 - Nº 3, Actualizado del estado de agitación interna y posibles escenarios eruptivos, 19 March 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Simplified geologic map of Sierra Negra with lava flows colored as a function of relative age (modified from Reynolds et al., 1995), courtesy of IG (Informe Especial del Volcán Sierra Negra (Islas Galápagos) -2018 - Nº 3, Actualizado del estado de agitación interna y posibles escenarios eruptivos, 19 March 2018).

Increases in seismicity continued into early June. IG noted that on 25 May 2018, 104 seismic events were recorded, the largest number in a single day since 2015. A M 4.8 event on 8 June was accompanied by over 40 other smaller earthquakes. The earthquake epicenters were mainly located on the edges of the crater in two NE-SW trending lineaments; the first covered the N and W edges of the crater and the second trended from the NE edge to the S edge. Deformation data indicated the largest displacements were at the caldera's center, compared with lower levels of deformation outside of the caldera.

Eruption of 26 June-late August 2018. IG reported an increase in seismicity and a M 4.2 earthquake on 22 June 2018. A larger M 5.3 earthquake was detected at 0315 on 26 June, 5.3 km below the caldera. The event was felt strongly on the upper flanks and in Puerto Villamil (23 km SE). About 8 hours later, at 1117, an earthquake swarm characterized by events located at 3-5 km depth was recorded. A M 4.2 earthquake took place at 1338 and was followed by increasing amplitudes of seismic and infrasound signals. Parque Nacional Galápagos staff then reported noises described as bellows coming from the Volcán Chico fissure vent, which, coupled with the seismicity and infrasound data, suggested the start of an eruption. About 20 minutes later IG described a thermal anomaly identified in satellite images in the N area of the caldera near Volcán Chico and Park staff observed lava flowing towards the crater's interior as well as towards the N flank in the direction of Elizabeth Bay (figure 19).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Lava flows descended from the N flank of Sierra Negra to Elizabeth Bay on 26 June 2018 from four distinct fissure vents (numbered). Fissure 1 was located near Volcan Chico on the caldera rim, and fissures 2, 3, and 4 were located on the N flank. Details of the fissures are discussed later in the report. Video of the flow was captured by Nature Galápagos. Photo courtesy of AFP and BBC News, annotated and reprinted by IG (Informe Especial N° 16 – 2018, Volcán Sierra Negra, Islas Galápagos, Actualización de la Actividad Eruptiva, Quito, 23 de Julio del 2018).

The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery late on 26 June at 10.6 km altitude drifting SW. By the following morning, a plume of ash mixed with SO2 was drifting W at 8.2 km altitude. IG reported a new ash emission late on 27 June drifting NW at 6.1 km altitude. A substantial SO2 plume emerged on 27 June and was recorded by the OMI and OMPS satellite-based instruments drifting SW that day and the next (figure 20). The MODVOLC thermal alert system confirmed the beginning of the eruption with over 100 alert pixels recorded on 27 June and over 50 the following day. The MIROVA system recorded an abrupt, very high thermal signal beginning on 26 June (figure 21). Seismic and acoustic data indicated a gradual decrease of activity after the initial outburst, but effusive lava flows continued on 27 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. A large plume of SO2 was emitted from Sierra Negra on 27 June 2018 at the beginning of the latest eruptive episode. It drifted SW the following day, as seen in these images captured by the OMPS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. The MIROVA project graph of thermal energy at Sierra Negra from 31 January 2018 through September 2108 shows the start of the lava flows on 27 June 2018 (UTC). Pulses of high thermal energy continued through late August when flow activity ceased; cooling of the flows continued into September 2018. Courtesy of MIROVA.

During 27 and 28 June, IG scientists were able to make a site visit to capture thermal, photographic, and physical evidence of the new lava flows (figure 22). A composite thermal image showed the extent of flows that traveled down the N flank as well as into the caldera (figure 23). A temperature of 580°C was measured near the eruptive fissure, and the surface temperatures averaged about 60°C, although some flows were measured as high as 200°C. The temperature inside a fracture on a lava flow was measured at 975°C (figure 24). Pelée hair and "spatter" bombs were visible around the eruptive fissures.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. The lava flows of 26 June 2018 at Sierra Negra emerged from a fissure on the N flank of the caldera rim and other fissures on the N flank and flowed N. N is to the right. Photo by Benjamin Bernard, courtesy of IG (Volcán Sierra Negra, Informe de campo 27-28 junio2018, Termografía, Cartografía, y muestreo de los nuevos flujos de lava, sector de Volcán Chico).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Composite thermal images of the new lava flows at Sierra Negra taken on 27 June 2018 reveal the flows that emerged from the Volcán Chico fissure zone; most flows traveled N down the flank, a few (on the left) traveled down into the caldera. Images by Silvia Vallejo, courtesy of IGEPN (Volcán Sierra Negra, Informe de campo 27-28 junio2018, Termografía, Cartografía, y muestreo de los nuevos flujos de lava, sector de Volcán Chico).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. The temperature of incandescent lava within a fresh flow at Sierra Negra was measured at 975°C on 27 June 2018. Left image by Francisco Vásconez; thermal image by Silvia Vallejo, courtesy of IGEPN (Volcán Sierra Negra, Informe de campo 27-28 junio2018, Termografía, Cartografía, y muestreo de los nuevos flujos de lava, sector de Volcán Chico).

Pahoehoe and aa flows along with lava tunnels were visible in drone images. The visible fissures were slightly arcuate and aligned in a general ENE direction, similar to the fissures of 1979 and 2005 in the vicinity of Volcán Chico. The largest flow was more than 150 m long; they reached up to 130 m wide in the flat areas, but only between 25 and 35 m wide where they were channeled on the steeper slope. In the flatter areas they had characteristics of pahoehoe with a smooth surface, a sometimes rounded texture and lava tunnels (figure 25), while in the channelized areas with a steeper slope they had a rougher surface and were characterized as aa (figure 26). The flows averaged 0.5-1 m thick and in several places the lava filled fissures or previous depressions. The samples of pahoehoe that were collected were all aphanitic with no crystals, strongly iridescent, and vesiculated with fluid textures that indicated a high gas content and low viscosity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Pahoehoe flows, spatter, and a collapsing lava tunnel were visible near fissure 1 (above 'Spatter') at Sierra Negra when imaged by a drone during a field visit on 27-28 June 2018 shortly after the new eruptive episode began. This image covers the area near the top center of the image in figure 22 close to the fissure. Photos were taken by a drone flying 60 m above the flows by Benjamin Bernard, courtesy IGEPN (Volcán Sierra Negra, Informe de campo 27-28 junio2018, Termografía, Cartografía, y muestreo de los nuevos flujos de lava, sector de Volcán Chico).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Aa flows formed as lava traveled down the steeper parts of the N flank of Sierra Negra on 26 June 2018, seen in this drone image taken during a field visit on 27-28 June. This image general location can be seen in the bottom right area in figure 22. Photos were taken by a drone flying 60 m above the flows by Benjamin Bernard, courtesy IGEPN (Volcán Sierra Negra, Informe de campo 27-28 junio2018, Termografía, Cartografía, y muestreo de los nuevos flujos de lava, sector de Volcán Chico).

A small seismic event followed by several hours of tremor was recorded at 1552 on 1 July; a short while later National Park staff observed active lava flows on the NW flank. On 4 July, IG reported a M 5.2 earthquake that was 5 km deep; it was followed by 68 smaller seismic events. On 7 July seismic tremor activity indicating another pulse of magmatic activity was recorded by a station on the NE edge of the caldera at 1700. At the same time, satellite data showed an increase in the intensity of the thermal anomaly on the NW flank; Parque Nacional Galápagos staff confirmed strong visible incandescence in an area near the beach. Tremor activity continued on 8 July, although the amplitude gradually decreased.

The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery on 2 July at 6.1 km altitude drifting SW. Later in the day a concentrated plume interpreted to be primarily steam and gas extended about 260 km SW. On 8 July ash could be seen moving both W and SW in satellite imagery at 2.7-3.0 km altitude. Later that day ash was visible extending about 115 km SW from the summit and other gases extended 370 km W. That evening the ash plume extended about 190 km SW at 3.7 km altitude. Gas-and-ash plumes were observed continuously drifting SW for the next three days (9-11 July) at 3.7 km altitude to a distance of about 80 km. On 13 July, two areas of ash and gas were seen in satellite imagery moving 25 km NW from the summit and up to 45 km SW at altitudes of 3.9 and 2.4 km respectively. A low-level ash plume on 16 July extended 30 km SW from the summit at 2.4 km altitude; incandescence was also visible in the webcam. The next day ash and gas emissions extended about 120 km SW at a similar altitude. Ongoing steam, gas, and ash emissions were seen in satellite imagery and in the webcam extending 110 km NW from the summit on 19 July at 3.4 km altitude. The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume on 30 July that rose to 3.4 km altitude and drifted SW. Strong SO2 emissions were recorded by both the OMPS and OMI satellite instruments throughout July 2018 (figure 27).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. SO2 plumes from Sierra Negra exceeded 2 Dobson Units (DU) nearly every day during July 2018. Data gathered by the OMPS satellite instrument showed a large plume drifting SW on 2 July (top left), and a more narrow stream of SO2 drifting SW on 3 July (top right). The OMI satellite instrument captured large W-drifting plumes on 12 (bottom left) and 14 (bottom right) July. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

In a report issued by IGEPN covering activity through 23 July 2018, they noted that at least four fissures had initially opened on 26 June at the start of the eruption (see numbers in figure 19 at the beginning of this report, and figure 31 at the end). Fissure 1, the longest at 4 km, was located at the edge of the caldera in the area of Volcán Chico; lava flows from this fissure traveled 7 km down the flanks, and over 1 km within the interior of the caldera. NW-flank fissures 2, 3, and 4 were much smaller (about 250 m long). Fissures 1-3 were active only until 27 June; fissure 4 continued to be active throughout July. Lava from this fissure reached the ocean on 6 July.

Gas and possible volcanic ash extended 35 km SW of the summit on 4 August at 1.5 km altitude; this was the last report of an ash plume by the Washington VAAC for the eruption. Daily reports from IGEPN indicated that nightly incandescence from advancing flows continued into August. Occasional low-level steam and gas plumes were also visible. Pulses of lava effusion on 4 and 9 August were accompanied by major episodes of seismic tremor activity and substantial SO2 plumes (figure 28). On 15 August satellite images showed lava from fissure 4 continuing to enter the ocean. The area where the lavas entered the sea were far from any human population or agricultural activities and only accessible by boats.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. At Sierra Negra, large SO2 plumes were recorded by the OMPS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite at the same time that an increase in seismic activity and effusion were noted on both 4 (left) and 9 (right) August 2018. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Throughout the ongoing eruption, pulses of thermal activity detected by MODIS infrared satellite sensors correlated with increases in seismic activity and observed flow activity. The MIROVA plot showed a high level of heat flow from the onset of the eruption on 26 June gradually decreasing in intensity through mid-August (figure 21). This was followed by a significant drop in heat flow and gradual cooling thereafter. After the initial fissure activity near the crater rim on 26-27 June, all subsequent activity was concentrated farther down the N flank at fissure 4 and is reflected in the number of pixels concentrated in that area of the MODVOLC plot of thermal alerts from June-September 2018 (figure 29).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. MODVOLC thermal alert locations corresponded to the locations of the observed flow activity at Sierra Negra, showing the sustained thermal activity from the mid-flank fissure 4 that lasted from late June through mid-September 2018. Courtesy of HIGP - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System .

The number of seismic events recorded during the eruptive episode had increased between 26 June and 30 July 2018 to an average of 265 per day. The peak was recorded on 29 June with 940 earthquakes. Between 31 July and 23 August, the average number was 121 per day, still higher than the level of 38 per day prior to the beginning of the eruption on 26 June. IG reported a continuous decline in activity during the last two weeks of August 2018. After the initial burst of effusive activity during 26-27 June, five additional pulses of increased thermal, seismic, and gas-emission activity were observed in multiple sources of data on 1-2, 7-8, and 31 July, and 4 and 9 August (figure 30).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Multiple parameters of data from the eruption of Sierra Negra from 21 June to 30 August 2018. The dashed green line marks the start of the eruption, while the pale green vertical bars indicate the different eruptive pulses recorded throughout the eruption. a) Seismic energy data (RSAM) recorded by station VCH1, in a window between 1-8 Hz (location shown in figure 31); b) Time series of degassing of SO2 recorded by the OMI and OMPS satellites instruments; c) thermal anomalies recorded by MODVOLC. Courtesy of IGEPN (Informe Especial N°18 – 2018, Volcán Sierra Negra, Islas Galápagos, "Terminación de episodio ruptive actual", Quito, 31 de Agosto del 2018), also published in Vasconez et al (2018).

In a summary report on 31 August 2018, IG reported that the eruption was divided into two main phases. The first and most energetic phase lasted one day (26 June) and was characterized by the opening of five fissures (table 2) located on the rim and N and NW flanks, and creation of lava flows that traveled as far as 7 km from the vents (figure 31). Lava was only active from all five fissures during the first day of the eruption, covering an area greater than 17 km2. During the rest of the eruption from 27 June-23 August, about 13 km2 of lava was produced from fissure 4, with lava reaching the sea on 6 July and expanding the coastline by 1.5 km2. Detailed descriptions of the fissures provided by IGEPN are given in the following section. By 25 August the lava flows covered an area of 30.6 square kilometers. Activity continued to decline the last week of August with decreased seismicity, gas emission, and no surficial activity visible.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Map of the 26 June-August 2018 eruption of Sierra Negra volcano. The eruptive fissures are numbers and shown in yellow and described in detail in the next section. The coastline with Elizabeth Bay is shown in blue, and the lava flows appear in red. The green points include GPS and seismic stations, the epicenter of the earthquake of 5.3 MLV on 26 June, El Cura (control station of the Galápagos National Park) and the panoramic vista visited by tourists. Courtesy of IGEPN (Informe Especial N°18 – 2018, Volcán Sierra Negra, Islas Galápagos, "Terminación de episodio ruptive actual", Quito, 31 de Agosto del 2018), also published in Vasconez et al (2018).

Table 2. Descriptions of the five fissures active during the June-August 2018 eruption of Sierra Negra (see figure 31 for locations). Courtesy of IGEPN (Informe Especial N°18 – 2018, Volcán Sierra Negra, Islas Galápagos, "Terminación de episodio ruptive actual", Quito, 31 de Agosto del 2018)

Feature Location Description
Fissure 1 Edge of the caldera in the Volcán Chico area, trending WNW, tangential to the edge of the caldera. Four kilometers in length with lava flows that moved toward both the interior of the caldera and down the flank from the beginning of the eruption until 27 June, covering an area of 14.6 km2. The flows deposited outside the crater traveled 7 km downhill, without reaching the sea, while those inside it reached a maximum distance of 1.1 km.
Fissure 2 NW of the caldera about 3 km below its edge of the caldera at an elevation of 700 m. Approximately 250 m long and produced 4-km-long lava flows from the beginning of the eruption until 27 June, covering an area of 2.2 km2; its lava did not reach the sea.
Fissure 3 WNW of the caldera about 4 km below its edge at an elevation of 550 m. Approximately 250 m long and active from the beginning of the eruption until 27 June, emitting lava flows that covered an area of about 0.4 km2. The lava flows had a length of about 2 km and did not reach the sea.
Fissure 4 NW flank at an elevation of 100 m between 7 and 8 km below the rim of the caldera. Continuously emitting lava flows throughout the eruption. It was located on the On 6 July the lava flows from this fissure reached the ocean and modified the coastline of Isla Isabela by 1.5 km2. By 25 August when active flow ceased, its lavas had covered an area of approximately 13.3 km2.
Fissure 5 Western flank at an elevation of 840 m, 1.5 km downhill from the inner edge of the caldera. Length of 170 m and covered 0.026 km2.

References: Davidge L, Ebinger C, Ruiz M, Tepp G, Amelung F, Geist D, Cote D, Anzieta J, 2017, Seismicity patterns during a period of inflation at Sierra Negra volcano, Galápagos Ocean Island Chain. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 462. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2016.12.021.

Geist D, Naumann T R, Standish J J, Kurz M D, Harpp K S, White W M , Fornari D, 2005, Wolf Volcano, Galapagos Archipelago: Melting and magmatic evolution at the margins of a mantle plume. Journal of Petrology 46:2197-2224.

Vasconez F, Ramón P, Hernandez S, Hidalgo S, Bernard B, Ruiz M, Alvarado A., La Femina P, Ruiz G, 2018, The different characteristics of the recent eruptions of Fernandina and Sierra Negra volcanoes (Galápagos, Ecuador), Volcanica 1(2): 127-133. DOI: 10.30909/vol.01.02.127133.

Geologic Background. The broad shield volcano of Sierra Negra at the southern end of Isabela Island contains a shallow 7 x 10.5 km caldera that is the largest in the Galápagos Islands. Flank vents abound, including cinder cones and spatter cones concentrated along an ENE-trending rift system and tuff cones along the coast and forming offshore islands. The 1124-m-high volcano is elongated in a NE direction. Although it is the largest of the five major Isabela volcanoes, it has the flattest slopes, averaging less than 5 degrees and diminishing to 2 degrees near the coast. A sinuous 14-km-long, N-S-trending ridge occupies the west part of the caldera floor, which lies only about 100 m below its rim. Volcán de Azufre, the largest fumarolic area in the Galápagos Islands, lies within a graben between this ridge and the west caldera wall. Lava flows from a major eruption in 1979 extend all the way to the north coast from circumferential fissure vents on the upper northern flank. Sierra Negra, along with Cerro Azul and Volcán Wolf, is one of the most active of Isabela Island volcanoes.

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: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); 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/); Nature Galápagos (Twitter: @natureGalápagos, https://twitter.com/natureGalápagos).


Great Sitkin (United States) — September 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Great Sitkin

United States

52.076°N, 176.13°W; summit elev. 1740 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small phreatic explosions in June and August 2018; ash deposit on snow near summit

Episodic recent and historic volcanic activity has been reported at Great Sitkin, located about 40 km NE of the community of Adak in the Aleutian Islands. Prior to the recent 2018 activity, the last confirmed eruption in 1974 produced at least one ash cloud that likely exceeded an altitude of 3 km (figures 1 and 2). This eruption extruded a lava dome that partially destroyed an existing dome from a 1945 eruption. Most recently, a small steam explosion was reported on 10 June 2018. In response, the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) raised the Aviation Color Code (ACC) to Yellow (Advisory) from the previous Green (Normal).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Eruption of Great Sitkin volcano in 1974. Photo taken from Adak Island, Alaska, located 40 km SW of the volcano. Photographer/Creator: Paul W. Roberts; courtesy of AVO/USGS (color corrected).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Worldview-3 satellite image of Great Sitkin on 21 November 2017 showing the crater, areas of 1974 and 1945 lava flows, and steam (indicated by the red arrow) from the reported seismic swarm and steam event ending in 2017. Photographer/Creator: Chris Waytomas; image courtesy of AVO/USGS.

AVO had previously reported that a seismic swarm had been detected beginning in late July 2016 and continuing through December 2017. Steam from the crater was also observed during this time period, in late November 2017 (figure 2). The seismicity was characterized by earthquakes typically less than magnitude 1.0 and at depths from near the summit to 30 km below sea level. Most earthquakes were in one of two clusters, beneath the volcano's summit or just offshore the NW coast of the island. Possible explosion signals were observed in seismic data on 10 January and 21 July 2017, but no confirmed emissions were observed locally or detected in infrasound data or satellite imagery.

The most recent eruption at Great Sitkin produced a small steam explosion which was detected in seismic data at 1139 local time on 10 June 2018 (figure 3). The explosion was followed by seismic activity which began diminishing after 24 hours, and by 15-16 June had returned to background levels.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. View of Great Sitkin steaming on 10 July 2018. Photographed from Adak Island, Alaska, approximately 40 km SW. Photo by Alain Beauparlant; image courtesy of AVO/USGS (color corrected).

Due to heavy cloud cover on 10 June 2018, satellite views were obscured. Subsequent satellite data collected on 11 June showed an ash deposit on the surface of the snow extending to about 2 km SW from a vent in the summit crater (figure 4). Minor changes in the vicinity of the summit crater were observed from satellite data, including possible fumaroles north of the main crater. On 17 June an aerial photograph showed minor steaming at the vent (figure 5).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Satellite view of the Great Sitkin crater at 2300 UTC on 11 June 2018 showing an ash deposit extending for about 2 km to the SW. Ash was likely deposited during the brief explosion on 10 June 2018. Minor steaming from a vent through the 1974 lava flow is also visible in this image. View is from the southwest. Photographer/Creator: David Schneider; image courtesy of AVO/USGS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Aerial photo showing minor steaming at the summit of Great Sitkin, 17 June 2018. A small ash deposit extends SW from the vent. Photographer: Alaska Airlines Captain Dave Clum; image courtesy of AVO/USGS.

Another small phreatic explosion was observed in seismic data at 1105 local time on 11 August. Small local earthquakes preceded the event but were not recorded following the explosion. The event is similar to three other phreatic explosions that have occurred over the past 2 years.

Geologic Background. The Great Sitkin volcano forms much of the northern side of Great Sitkin Island. A younger parasitic volcano capped by a small, 0.8 x 1.2 km ice-filled summit caldera was constructed within a large late-Pleistocene or early Holocene scarp formed by massive edifice failure that truncated an ancestral volcano and produced a submarine debris avalanche. Deposits from this and an older debris avalanche from a source to the south cover a broad area of the ocean floor north of the volcano. The summit lies along the eastern rim of the younger collapse scarp. Deposits from an earlier caldera-forming eruption of unknown age cover the flanks of the island to a depth up to 6 m. The small younger caldera was partially filled by lava domes emplaced in 1945 and 1974, and five small older flank lava domes, two of which lie on the coastline, were constructed along northwest- and NNW-trending lines. Hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles occur near the head of Big Fox Creek, south of the volcano. Historical eruptions have been recorded since the late-19th century.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667 USA (URL: https://avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://dggs.alaska.gov/).


Alaid (Russia) — September 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Alaid

Russia

50.861°N, 155.565°E; summit elev. 2285 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small ash plume reported on 21 August 2018

Sporadic ash and gas-and-ash plumes and strong thermal anomalies were reported from Alaid, in Russia's Kurile Islands, between 29 September 2015 and 30 September 2016 (figure 8). The Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), which monitors the volcano, interpreted the thermal anomalies as Strombolian activity and a lava flow (BGVN 42:04). The current report summarizes activity during October 2016 through August 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Aerial photo of the Alaid summit area on 28 April 2016, with fresh lava filling the crater, a cinder cone in the southern part of the crater, and a lava flow on the SW flank. Photo by L. Fugura; courtesy of IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

According to KVERT weekly reports, the Aviation Color Code for Alaid was Green (Volcano is in normal, non-eruptive state) throughout the reporting period. The only reported activity was from the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, which reported that on 21 August 2018, an ash plume identified in Himawari-8 satellite images rose to an altitude of 2.7 km (about 500 m above the summit) and drifted SE. The plume was clearly visible on imagery starting at 0830 Japan Standard Time (UTC + 9 hours), and remained noticeable for at least 4 hours. There were no other satellite or ground-based observations of this activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Himawari-8 satellite image from 21 August 2018 at 1030 JST (UTC + 9 hours) showing a small ash plume drifting SE from Alaid towards Paramushir Island. Alaid is the small island NW of the larger Paramushi Island and directly W of the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Courtesy of Himawari-8 Real-time Web.

Geologic Background. The highest and northernmost volcano of the Kuril Islands, 2285-m-high Alaid is a symmetrical stratovolcano when viewed from the north, but has a 1.5-km-wide summit crater that is breached widely to the south. Alaid is the northernmost of a chain of volcanoes constructed west of the main Kuril archipelago. Numerous pyroclastic cones dot the lower flanks of this basaltic to basaltic-andesite volcano, particularly on the NW and SE sides, including an offshore cone formed during the 1933-34 eruption. Strong explosive eruptions have occurred from the summit crater beginning in the 18th century. Reports of eruptions in 1770, 1789, 1821, 1829, 1843, 1848, and 1858 were considered incorrect by Gorshkov (1970). Explosive eruptions in 1790 and 1981 were among the largest in the Kuril Islands during historical time.

Information Contacts: Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); 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/); Himawari-8 Real-time Web, developed by the NICT Science Cloud project in NICT (National Institute of Information and Communications Technology), Japan, in collaboration with JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency) and CEReS (Center of Environmental Remote Sensing, Chiba University) (URL: https://himawari8.nict.go.jp/).


Aira (Japan) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Activity increased at Minamidake and decreased at Showa crater in early 2018

Sakurajima is a persistently active volcano within the Aira caldera in Kyushu, Japan. The two currently active summit craters are Showa and Minamidake, both of which produce intermittent ash plumes and occasional pyroclastic flows. This report summarizes the activity from January through June 2018 as described in reports issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

The volcano remains on Alert Level 3 (out of five). A change in activity occurred in late 2017 to early 2018, with a reduction in activity at the Showa crater and a significant increase in activity at the Minamidake crater (table 19 and figure 63). During January through June 2018 a total of 260 explosions were recorded at Minamidake (135 of these were explosive), and four at Showa. Pyroclastic flows were produced on 1 April from Showa crater that travelled 800 m, and a flow reached 1,300 m from Minamidake crater on 16 June. Periodic incandescence was visible at the summit throughout the reporting period.

Table 19. Eruptive events and pyroclastic flows recorded at the active craters of Sakurajima volcano in Aira caldera. The number of events that were explosive in nature are in parentheses. Data courtesy of JMA (January to June 2018 monthly reports).

Month No. of ash emissions at Showa crater No. of ash emissions at Minamidake crater Pyroclastic flows
Jan 2018 1 12 (4) --
Feb 2018 0 7 (3) --
Mar 2018 0 44 (17) --
Apr 2018 3 66 (50) 800 m E from Showa.
May 2018 0 96 (48) --
Jun 2018 0 35 (13) 1,300 m SW from Minamidake.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. The number of monthly explosions at Minamidake (upper) and Showa (lower) craters of Sakurajima, Aira caldera. The first half of 2018 has seen a dramatic increase in activity at Minamidake, and a decrease in activity at Showa crater. Grey bars indicate eruptions and red bars specify explosive eruptions. Note that the scale on the two graphs are different. Courtesy of JMA (June 2018 monthly report).

In January 2018, one ash emission occurred at Showa crater and twelve occurred at Minamidake, with four of these classified as explosive eruptions. The largest ash plume reached 2,500 m above the crater on the 18th and two explosions ejected material out to a maximum of 700-800 m from the craters. Through February, three of seven ash emissions at Minamidake were explosive. The largest ash plume occurred on the 19th and reached 1,500 m above the crater. On the 27th, the crater ejected material out to 700 m from the crater.

Through March, 44 ash emissions occurred with 17 of these classified as explosive events. The largest ash plume was produced on the 26th and reached 3,400 m above the crater. An explosive eruption on 10 March ejected material out to 1,300 m from the crater. During April, Minamidake produced 66 ash emission; 50 of these were explosive (figure 64). Showa produced three events in total and an event on 1 April produced a pyroclastic flow that traveled 800 m to the E (figure 65).The largest ash plume was from Minamidake that reached 3,400 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. True color Sentinel-2 satellite image of an ash plume at Sakurajima, Aira caldera, at 1056 on 12 April. The Tokyo VAAC reported that the plume that reached an altitude of 2.4 km. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. Eruption of the Sakurajima Showa crater (within the Aira caldera) at 1611 on 1 April. The ash plume rose to 1,700 m above the crater and the pyroclastic flow (circled) travelled 800 m to the east. Image taken by the Kaigata webcam, courtesy of JMA (April 2018 monthly report).

Elevated activity continued at Minamidake through May, with 96 ash emissions (48 explosive), and the highest reported ash plume reaching 3,200 m above the crater on the 24th. An explosion on 5 May scattered ejecta out to 1,300 m from the crater. Activity was reduced in June with 35 ash emissions (13 explosive) from Minamidake, with an explosive event on the 16th producing an ash plume to 4,700 m above the crater and a pyroclastic flow out to 1,300 m (figure 66). This event deposited ash on nearby communities.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Eruption at the Sakurajima Minamidake crater (at Aira caldera) at 1607 on 16 June. The ash plume rose to 4,700 m above the crater and the pyroclastic flow (circled) traveled 1,300 m. Image captured by the Kaigata surveillance camera, courtesy of JMA (June 2018 monthly report).

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

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


Suwanosejima (Japan) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash emission continues from January through June 2018

Suwanosejima volcano is located in the northern Ryukyu Islands in the south of Japan and has been on Alert Level 2 since December 2007. This report is a summary of activity for the period January to June 2018 and is based on information from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) along with Tokyo VAAC notices.

During the reporting period, the active Ontake crater produced intermittent explosions that scattered ejecta around the crater and ash plumes to an altitude of 1.5-3 km. Ashfall was reported in a village 4 km away on 10 days during January-May 2018 (table 14). Incandescence was visible at night using monitoring equipment. Ash plumes were noted by the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) throughout the reporting period (figure 32, table 15).

Table 14. Reported explosion information for Suwanosejima recorded in JMA monthly reports.

Month No. of explosions Max plume height (m above crater) Dates of ashfall in village 4 km SSW No. of seismic events Other daily activity detail
Jan 2018 0 1,100 27, 31 97 Incandescence at night.
Feb 2018 1 1,100 2, 3 100 Incandescence at night.
Mar 2018 9 2,200 25, 29 251 Incandescence at night. Ejecta scattered around the crater.
Apr 2018 8 2,000 18, 28, 29 62 Incandescence at night.
May 2018 2 1,100 14 90 Incandescence at night. Ejecta scattered around the crater.
Jun 2018 -- 900 -- 275 Incandescence at night.

Table 15. Number of Volcanic Ash Advisories, explosion dates, and plume heights for activity at Suwanosejima. The numbers in parentheses indicate the number of events on that date; the VAACs issued column does not include advisories that note a continued episode. Drift directions were highly variable. Data courtesy of Tokyo VAAC.

Month VAAs issued VAA dates Plume heights
Jan 2018 1 15 1.8 km
Feb 2018 1 2 1.2 km
Mar 2018 22 17, 22(3), 23, 25(2), 26(5), 27(5), 28(3), 29(2) 1.2-3.6 km
Apr 2018 16 1, 2, 3, 4(4), 5(2), 8, 11, 24, 27, 28(2) 1.2-2.4 km
May 2018 3 1, 4, 15 1-1.8 km
Jun 2018 1 1 --
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. An ash plume at Suwanosejima reached 1 km above the crater on 3 February 2018. Image captured by the Kyanpuba webcam, courtesy of JMA (February 2018 monthly report).

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


Etna (Italy) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Degassing continues, accompanied by intermittent ash emissions and small Strombolian explosions in June and July 2018

Etna is the tallest active volcano in continental Europe with persistent activity at multiple summit craters and vents. The active craters are Bocca Nuova and Voragine within the Central Crater, the Northeast Crater, Southeast Crater, and the New Southeast Crater (figure 217). This report summarizes activity from April to July 2018 and is based on reports by the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 217. The active summit craters of Etna volcano: the Bocca Nuova and Voragine craters that occupy the older Central Crater, the Northeast Crater (Cratere di Nord-Est), Southeast Crater (Cratere di Sud-Est), and the New Southeast Crater (Nuovo Cratere di Sud-Est). The years given in parentheses indicate when the craters formed. Photo by Marco Neri, courtesy of INGV (19 July 2018 blog).

Activity through April was characterized by degassing at the summit craters (figure 218), with modest ash emissions from the New Southeast Crater and Northeast Crater in the first week, and occasional small ash emissions at the end of the month. Reduced activity dominated by degassing continued into May with modest ash emission from the Southeast and Northeast craters during the second week, and isolated ash emissions from the Northeast Crater in the second half of the month continuing into June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 218. Degassing at the Bocca Nuova crater at the summit of Etna in late April. The top image is a photograph of the crater with the location of the bottom image, which is a thermal image showing the degassing and temperature at the vent reaching over 400°C. Courtesy of INGV (Weekly report No. 18/2018 for 24 to 30 April 2018, issued on 2 May 2018).

Throughout June the activity consisted of degassing at the summit craters with isolated diffuse ash emission from Northeast Crater (figure 219). This continued through to July until low-energy Strombolian activity commenced in the Bocca Nuova (from two vents) and Northeast craters (figures 220 and 221). The Strombolian explosions were small, lasting up to several tens of seconds, and were sometimes accompanied by red-brown ash emission. The ejected material was confined to within the craters. More energetic bursts were visible from the INGV surveillance camera located in Milo.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 219. Photos of isolated dilute red-brown ash emissions from the Etna Northeast Crater on the 6 and 8 June. Courtesy of INGV (Report No. 24/2018 for the period 4 to 10 June 2018, issued on 12 June 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 220. A sequence of thermal infrared images of a Strombolian explosion at the Etna Bocca Nuova crater on 17 July 2018. Two vents are active (A and B), with vent B ejecting lava up to a few tens of meters above the vent. The color scale on the right of the images indicates the temperature in Celsius. Images taken by Giuseppe Salerno, courtesy of INGV (24 July 2018 INGV blog).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 221. Photos of Strombolian explosions at the base of the Etna Northeast Crater on 20 and 21 July 2018. The explosions occur when gas pockets burst and eject incandescent fluid lava above the vent. Photo by Michele Mammino, courtesy of INGV (24 July 2018 blog).

Geologic Background. Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily's second largest city, has one of the world's longest documented records of historical volcanism, dating back to 1500 BCE. Historical lava flows of basaltic composition cover much of the surface of this massive volcano, whose edifice is the highest and most voluminous in Italy. The Mongibello stratovolcano, truncated by several small calderas, was constructed during the late Pleistocene and Holocene over an older shield volcano. The most prominent morphological feature of Etna is the Valle del Bove, a 5 x 10 km horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the east. Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur, sometimes simultaneously. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more summit craters. Flank vents, typically with higher effusion rates, are less frequently active and originate from fissures that open progressively downward from near the summit (usually accompanied by Strombolian eruptions at the upper end). Cinder cones are commonly constructed over the vents of lower-flank lava flows. Lava flows extend to the foot of the volcano on all sides and have reached the sea over a broad area on the SE flank.

Information Contacts: Sezione di Catania - Osservatorio Etneo, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/it/); Blog INGVvulcani, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) (URL: http://ingvvulcani.wordpress.com).


Stromboli (Italy) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued Strombolian activity from five active summit vents through March-June 2018

Stromboli is a persistently active volcano in the Aeolian Islands, Italy, with confirmed historical eruptions going back over about 2,000 years. The active summit craters on the crater terrace are situated above the Sciara del Fuoco, a steep talus slope on the NW side of the island that leads to the Tyrrhenian Sea below. The NE crater (Area N) includes the active N1 and N2 vents, while the Central and SW craters (Area CS) contains the C, S1, and S2 vents (figures 125 and 126).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 125. False color thermal Sentinel-2 satellite image of Stromboli volcano with the locations of the Sciara del Fuoco and the active craters and vents. Four of the active vents are visible in this image as bright yellow-orange areas. Image acquired on 27 June 2018 and processed using bands 12, 11, 4. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 126. Thermal image of the Stromboli crater terrace area showing the N (area N), and the central and S (area CS) craters with the active vents. Image taken by the Pizzo webcam, courtesy of INGV (report number 11/2018 for the period 5 to 11 March, released on 13 March 2018).

Typical activity comprises degassing and multiple explosions per hour that range from tens of seconds to a few minutes, known as Strombolian activity, which is named after this particular volcano (figure 127). The activity usually consists of low-intensity explosions that eject material (ash, lapilli, and blocks) up to 80 m above the crater and medium-low intensity explosions that eject material up to 120 m above the crater. This report describes the activity at Stromboli through March to June 2018 and summarizes reports published by the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 127. The daily frequency of explosions per hour produced by all the active vents at Stromboli during the period 1 January to 2 July 2018. Red indicates explosions within the N crater, green indicates activity at the central-S craters, and blue indicates the number of total events. Courtesy of INGV (report number 27/2018 for the period 25 June to 7 July, released on 3 July 2018).

Characteristic Strombolian activity occurred throughout March, typically consisting of 5-11 events per hour that ejected material up to 120 m above the craters. High-energy explosive events occurred on 7 and 18 March, both lasting around 40 seconds and ejecting material to a height of 400 m (figures 128 and 129).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 128. A high-energy explosive event on 7 March 2018 at the N2 vent of Stromboli. Top images (frames a to c) are thermal images, with the corresponding visible images across the bottom (frames d to f). Images were taken by the Pizzo webcams, courtesy of INGV (report number 11/2018 for the period 5 to 11 March, released on 13 March 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 129. Thermal infrared images of the high-energy explosive event on 18 March 2018 at Stromboli. The images show approximately 40 seconds of the explosive sequence recorded by the Pizzo webcam, courtesy of INGV (report number 12/2018 for the period 12 to 18 March, released on 20 March 2018).

Typical Strombolian activity continued through April with 6-12 explosive events per hour, with two high-energy explosive events on 24 and 26 April that lasted nine and three minutes, respectively. Both events ejected material across the Sciara del Fuoco, producing ash plumes and lava fountaining (figure 130). Low to medium-low intensity activity continued through May and June, with explosions per hour in the range of 3-15 and 6-13, respectively.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 130. INGV noted an intense explosive sequence on 26 April 2018 at Stromboli. Top images (frames A to C) show the thermal signature of the explosion; bottom images (frames G to I) are the corresponding visible images. The sequence produced abundant ash, incandescent material, lava fountaining, and ejected large blocks to a height of 250 m above the vent that then fell around the crater and on the Sciara del Fuoco. Courtesy of the INGV (Blog INGVvulcani entry for 16 July 2018).

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

Information Contacts: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/en/); Blog INGVvulcani, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) (URL: https://ingvvulcani.wordpress.com/2018/07/16/stromboli-e-le-sue-esplosioni/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Agung (Indonesia) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Agung

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash explosions and lava dome effusion continue during January-July 2018

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

Intermittent explosions with ash plumes were reported at Agung several times during January 2018, including Strombolian activity on 19 January. Activity decreased significantly by the end of the month; only one explosion with ash was reported during February. Two ash plumes were reported in March and three were reported each month during April and May. A more substantial explosion in mid-June produced an ash plume that rose to 7 km altitude. A series of deep-seated earthquakes during the third week of June was followed by large explosions and new effusions of lava inside the summit crater beginning on 28 June. A strong thermal signal also appeared on 28 June that gradually diminished during July. Intermittent plumes of steam and ash recurred daily until 19 July; plume heights rose up to 3 km above the summit on several occasions. Strombolian explosions on 2 and 8 July sent ejecta as far as 2 km from the summit. Explosive activity became more intermittent during the last two weeks of the month; the last reported explosion was on 27 July.

Activity during January-May 2018. During most days of January 2018 when fog was not obscuring the summit, PVMGB reported plumes of steam and minor ash rising about 500 m above the summit. In addition, intermittent explosions produced higher, denser ash plumes that rose 1,000-2,500 m above the summit several times. Ash plumes on 1 and 2 January rose to 1,000 and 1,500 m above the summit; incandescence was observed at the summit on both nights, and trace ashfall was reported at the Rendang Post on 2 January. The Darwin VAAC reported the ash plume on 1 January at 6.1 km altitude moving SW. A single MODVOLC thermal alert was recorded on 4 January. On 5 January PVMGB lowered the evacuation radius from 10 to 6 km, permitting the return of thousands of displaced people to their homes. Approximately 17,000 people in seven villages within 6 km of Agung were still under evacuation orders from the events of late 2017.

The Agung Volcano Observatory issued VONA's (Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation) on 4, 8, 9, 11, 15, 17, 19, 23, 24, and 30 January relating to the larger explosions and ash plumes. On 11 January, an ash plume rose to 2,500 m above the summit and drifted N and NE (figure 29). Another 2,500-m-high ash plume on 19 January was accompanied by Strombolian activity at the summit for several hours, and incandescent ejecta that traveled 1,000 m from the crater. Ashfall was later reported in Tulamben village in the Kubu district (9 km NE) and in Purwekerti village in the Abang district (14 km ENE). Visual monitoring using drones carried out on 22 January showed that the volume of the lava dome was relatively unchanged at around 20 million m3. The summit was obscured by fog for the last week of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. An eruption at Agung on 11 January 2018 sent an ash plume to 2,500 m above the summit. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia and PVMBG (Erupsi Gunung Agung 11 Januari 2018 17:54 WITA).

Activity decreased noticeably in late January and February. Steam and minor ash plumes rose only 50-800 m above the summit for most of the month. As a result of the decrease in activity, PVMBG lowered the Alert Level from Level IV to Level III (on a four-level scale) on 10 February 2018. The radius of evacuation was also lowered from 6 to 4 km. A single explosion on 14 February sent an ash plume to 1,500 m above the summit.

For most of March 2018, steam plumes rose less than 400 m above the summit. VONA's were issued by the Agung Volcano Observatory for ash plumes twice, on 12 March (local time) when a plume rose 800 m above the summit and drifted E, and on 26 March when the ash plume rose to 500 m and drifted NW. During much of April 2018, steam plumes rose less than 300 m above the summit; weather obscured views of the summit for most of the last week of the month. AVO issued VONA's for ash plumes on 6, 11 and 30 April; the plumes on 6 and 11 April rose 500 m and drifted W and SW respectively. The Darwin VAAC reported a series of four short-lived explosions with ash plumes on 11 April; they each dissipated within a few hours. PVMBG reported another explosion on 15 April that produced an ash plume that also rose 500 m. The plume on 30 April rose 1,500 m and drifted SW.

Similar activity persisted throughout May 2018. Steam plumes generally rose 50-100 m above the summit crater each day. In addition, explosions were reported on 9, 19, and 29 May. PVMBG reported that no ash plume was observed on 9 May, due to fog obscuring the summit, but the ash plume on 19 May rose to 1,000 m above the summit and drifted SE, and the ash plume on 29 May rose 500 m and drifted SW.

Activity during June and July 2018. The volcano was covered in fog for much of the first two weeks of June. A short-lived explosion on 10 June 2018 was reported by PVMBG, but meteoric clouds obscured the summit. The Darwin VAAC noted the plume in a satellite image drifting W at about 4.6 km altitude. An explosion on 13 June produced an ash plume that rose 2,000 m above the summit and drifted WSW (figure 30). Another explosion was recorded on 15 June, but the summit was obscured, and no ash cloud was visible to ground observers. However, the Darwin VAAC reported the plume visible in satellite imagery at 7 km altitude (about 4 km above the summit) drifting SW and S for most of the day before dissipating. Ashfall was reported about 7 km W in the village of Puregai. PVMBG reported white and gray emissions on 17 June that rose 500 m.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. An ash plume at Agung on 13 June 2018 rose about 2,000 m above the summit and drifted WSW. View is looking N. Courtesy of PVMBG (Information on G. Agung Eruption, 13 June 2018).

An explosion during the evening (local time) of 27 June 2018 produced an ash plume that rose 2,000 m from the summit and drifted W. Another explosion the following morning produced a sustained ash cloud that lasted for several hours and again caused ashfall around the village of Puregai. It rose to about 2,000 m above the summit and drifted W and SW (figure 31).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. A sustained ash eruption began early on 28 June 2018 at Agung (top) and lasted well into the afternoon (bottom). Photo from a PBVBG webcam, posted on Twitter by Sutopo Purwo Nugroho‏ (BNPB).

PVMBG noted in late June that inflation of 5 mm had occurred since 13 May 2018. They reported that the ash plumes on 28 June caused some airlines to cancel flights to Bali, and ashfall was reported in several villages in Bangli and areas to the W and SW the following day (figure 32). The International Gusti Ngurah Rai (IGNR) airport (60 km SW) in Denpasar, the Blimbing Sari Airport (128 km W) in Banyuwangi, and the Noto Hadinegoro Airport (200 km W) in Jember closed for portions of the day on 29 June (ANTARA News).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Settlement and plantation areas were coated with ash from Mount Agung in Pemuteran Village (10 km W) on 29 June 2018. Courtesy of Tempo.com and ANTARA/Nyoman Budhiana.

Incandescence overnight on 28-29 June indicated fresh effusions of lava at the summit; they were accompanied by ash emissions that rose 1,500-2,500 m. Thermal satellite images recorded on 29 June indicated significant hotspots within the crater with thermal energy reaching 819 Megawatts; this was the largest amount of thermal energy recorded during the 2017-2018 activity, significantly higher than the maximum recorded of 97 Megawatts reached at the end of November 2017. The MIROVA data clearly reflected the sudden surge of thermal energy into the summit crater at the end of June (figure 33).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. A large spike in thermal energy beginning on 28 June 2018 signaled a new surge of lava into the summit crater at Agung. This MIROVA plot of Log Radiative Power showed pulses of activity in early January, May, and early June, followed by the much larger surge of heat in late June that tapered off throughout July. Inset shows the nighttime incandescence on 28 June 2018 that resulted from the new effusion of lava. Photo taken at the PGMBG Webcam in Batu Lompeh (15 km N). Graph courtesy of MIROVA, photo courtesy of PVMBG (Press Release of Mount Agung's Latest Activities, June 29 to 3:00 p.m.)

The Darwin VAAC reported continuous emissions of ash beginning on 28 June that drifted to the W for over 24 hours. The height was initially reported by ground observers at 3.7 km altitude but was raised to 7 km altitude a few hours later, based on satellite imagery and pilot reports. By late that day, an upper plume (at 7 km) drifted SW and a second plume drifted W at 5.5 km altitude. By late on 29 June the continuous ash plume was drifting NW at 4.9 km altitude; it finally dissipated early on 30 June. In addition to large ash plumes and a major thermal anomaly, a substantial SO2 plume also emerged from Agung on 28-29 June 2018. The plume drifted W over Java and then dispersed to the NW over the next 24 hours (figure 34). A lingering, smaller plume was still visible two days later.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. A substantial SO2 plume was released from Agung during 28-29 June 2018 and captured by both the OMPS instrument on the Suomi satellite (upper images) and the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite (lower images). The plume first appeared on 28 June (top left) and was much larger the next day (top right). By 30 June it was dissipating over Java to the W and N (bottom left). A smaller plume drifted SW two days later (bottom right). Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

A series of discrete eruptions lasting from late on 30 June through 2 July 2018 produced ash plumes that rose from 3.7 to 5.5 km altitude and drifted NW and W, according to the Darwin VAAC. Effusive activity continued to increase during the first week of July 2018 with the continued growth of the lava dome in the summit crater. PVMBG reported an additional volume of lava of 4 million m3 erupted from 28 June through the middle of July bringing the size of the dome to about 27 million m3. The frequency of explosions peaked on 2 July when Strombolian activity sent incandescent ejecta 2 km from the summit in all directions (figure 35).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. The eruption of Mount Agung on 2 July 2017 produced Strombolian activity and incandescent ejecta that traveled 2 km from the summit crater in all directions. Courtesy of ANTARA News/HO/BMKG.

Several VONA's issued during 2-3 July reported multiple explosions that sent ash plumes 700-2,000 m above the summit. Eighteen explosions were reported by PVMBG between 1 and 8 July. The Darwin VAAC noted a substantial explosion early on 2 July that produced a plume that rose to 7.6 km altitude and drifted W. The remains of the ash plume were discernable in satellite imagery about 250 km W of Agung by the end of the day. The ash plume on 4 July rose 2,500 m above the summit (figure 36).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. An explosion at Agung on 4 July 2018 produced an ash plume that rose 2,500 m above the summit, according to PVMBG. Courtesy of PVMBG (Information on G. Agung Eruption, July 4, 2018).

Strombolian activity was reported again on 8 July 2018 (figure 37). The Darwin VAAC reported intermittent explosions every day from 3-19 July, with ash plumes rising to altitudes from 3.7 to 6.7 km. Additional explosions were reported on 21, 24, 25, and 27 July (figure 38); ash plumes rose 700-2,000 m and drifted W or SE. MODVOLC thermal alerts resumed on 27 June, and multiple daily alerts persisted on most days through the end of July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Strombolian activity at Agung recurred for the third time in 2018 on 8 July 2018. Courtesy of PVMBG (Agung Strombolian Eruption Today July 8, 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. A dense ash plume rose about 2,000 m above Mount Agung on 27 July 2018 at 1406 local time. Courtesy of PVMBG (Information on G. Agung Eruption, 27 July 2018).

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); 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/); 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/); Sutopo Purwo Nugroho?, BNPB, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/Sutopo_PN); TEMPO.CO, Tempo Building, Jl. Palmerah Barat No. 8, South Jakarta 12210, Indonesia (URL: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1102118/pvmbg-energi-thermal-erupsi-gunung-agung-kali-ini-paling-besar); ANTARANEWS.com, ANTARA guesthouse lt 19, Jalan Merdeka Selatan No. 17, Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia, (URL: https://en.antaranews.com).


Fernandina (Ecuador) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Fernandina

Ecuador

0.37°S, 91.55°W; summit elev. 1476 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Brief eruptive episode 16-22 June 2018, lava flows down N flank into the ocean

Eruptions at Fernandina Island in the Galapagos often occur from vents located around the caldera rim along boundary faults and fissures, and occasionally from side vents on the flank. The last eruption in September 2017 lasted for about one week and originated from a fissure at the SW rim of the caldera. A new eruption in June 2018 lasted for less than a week and originated from a fissure on the N flank of the volcano. Information about the latest eruption was provided by Ecuador's Institudo Geofisica, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), the Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos (PNG), the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and several sources of satellite data.

A seismic swarm on 16 June 2018 preceded a brief eruptive episode at Fernandina that lasted from 16 to 22 June. Lava erupted from a radial fissure and quickly flowed to the sea down the N flank. Emissions were primarily gas with low ash content and included substantial SO2. After two days of activity, seismicity returned to background levels on 18 June. Park Officials reported only cooling flows and lava no longer entering the sea by 21 June 2018.

Eruption of June 2018. The first evidence of a new eruptive event at Fernandina began as a seismic swarm on 16 June 2018. The largest event (M 4.1) was located 4 km off the NE flank of the island. An active eruption was confirmed a few hours later by guides on a passing boat and by satellite images which indicated a thermal anomaly on the N flank. The eruption consisted of a lava flow on the NNE flank and a gas plume that rose 2-3 km and drifted SW (figure 32). The lava flow quickly reached the ocean, generating steam and gas explosions that were visible from Canal Bolívar, the narrow channel on the NE side of Isla Fernandina that separates it from Isla Isabela (figure 33).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Lava from a new eruption at Fernandina flowed quickly down the N flank of the island to the ocean on 16 June 2018, according to Parque Nacional Galapagos officials. Courtesy of Parque Nacional Galapagos.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Explosions produced large plumes of steam as lava reached the ocean on the N flank of Fernandina on 16 June 2018. Courtesy of Parque Nacional Galapagos.

Observations by PNG officials and visitors indicated that lava flows came from a radial fissure on the NNE flank, and produced gas plumes with low ash content that rose 2-3 km and drifted more than 250 km WNW (figures 34 and 35). The Washington VAAC detected an ash and gas plume in visible satellite imagery drifting W from the summit at 2.4 km altitude late in the day on 16 June, along with a significant thermal signature in infrared imagery. A second gas-and-ash plume at the same altitude drifted WNW the following day for a few hours before dissipating. After two days of intense eruptive activity, seismic tremor activity had declined significantly to background levels by noon on 18 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Incandescent lava flows from the eruption of Fernandina produced large plumes of water vapor as they reached the sea during the evening of 16 June 2018. Courtesy of Parque Nacional Galapagos.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Incandescent lava reached the sea during 16-18 June 2018 at Fernandina from a brief eruptive episode. The lava flowed down the N flank. Courtesy of CNH Tours, posted 20 June 2018.

‏A strong pulse of SO2 emissions that drifted W was recorded by satellite instruments on 17 and 18 June 2018 (figure 36). The MODVOLC thermal alert system also recorded a surge of over 100 thermal anomalies from infrared satellite imagery that lasted from 17 to 22 June. More than half of the anomalies appeared on 17 June. The alert pixels were all clustered on the N flank. The MIROVA system also record the spike in thermal activity on 17 June and indicated that the heat source was more than 5 km from the summit (figure 37).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. A strong pulse of SO2 issued from Fernandina on 17 June 2018 and was recorded by the OMPS instrument on the SUOMI NPP satellite. The plume drifted W and measured at about 27 Dobson Units (DU). Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. The MIROVA system log radiative power measurement for Fernandina showed a spike of thermal activity on 16-17 June 2018 that coincided with the fissure eruption that sent lava flows down the N flank of the volcano into the sea. The black bars indicate a heat source more than 5 km from the summit. The MODVOLC thermal alert system detected over 100 thermal alerts at Fernandina between 17 and 22 June 2018, concurring with observations of lava flows on the N flank of the volcano. Courtesy of MIROVA and MODVOLC.

By 21 June 2018 PNG officials reported that lava was no longer reaching the ocean, but steam from cooling flows was visible at the coastline and over the area of the new flows (figure 38).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. By 21 June 2018 active lava flows were no longer reaching the ocean at Fernandina, although steam from cooling lava was still visible near the coast and along the N flank. Courtesy of Parque Nacional Galapagos.

Geologic Background. Fernandina, the most active of Galápagos volcanoes and the one closest to the Galápagos mantle plume, is a basaltic shield volcano with a deep 5 x 6.5 km summit caldera. The volcano displays the classic "overturned soup bowl" profile of Galápagos shield volcanoes. Its caldera is elongated in a NW-SE direction and formed during several episodes of collapse. Circumferential fissures surround the caldera and were instrumental in growth of the volcano. Reporting has been poor in this uninhabited western end of the archipelago, and even a 1981 eruption was not witnessed at the time. In 1968 the caldera floor dropped 350 m following a major explosive eruption. Subsequent eruptions, mostly from vents located on or near the caldera boundary faults, have produced lava flows inside the caldera as well as those in 1995 that reached the coast from a SW-flank vent. Collapse of a nearly 1 km3 section of the east caldera wall during an eruption in 1988 produced a debris-avalanche deposit that covered much of the caldera floor and absorbed the caldera lake.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos (DPNG), Av. Charles Darwin y S/N, Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador (URL: http://www.galapagos.gob.ec/, Twitter: @parquegalapagos); 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/); Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours, Galapagos, (CNH Tours), 14 Kilbarry Crescent, Ottawa, Ontario, K1K 0G8, Canada (URL: https://www.cnhtours.com/, Twitter: @CNHtours).


Fuego (Guatemala) — August 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Fuego

Guatemala

14.473°N, 90.88°W; summit elev. 3763 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Pyroclastic flows on 3 June 2018 cause at least 110 fatalities, 197 missing, and extensive damage; ongoing ash explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars

Guatemala's Volcán de Fuego was continuously active throughout the first half of 2018; it has been erupting vigorously since 2002 with historical observations of eruptions dating back to 1531. These eruptions have resulted in major ashfalls, pyroclastic flows, lava flows, and damaging lahars. Large explosions with a significant number of fatalities occurred during 3-5 June 2018 and are covered in this report of activity from January-June 2018. Reports are provided by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH) and the National Office of Disaster Management (CONRED); aviation alerts of ash plumes are issued by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). Satellite data from NASA, NOAA, and other sources provide valuable information about heat flow and gas emissions. Numerous media outlets provided photographs of the eruptive activity.

Summary of activity, January-June 2018. The first eruptive event of 2018 occurred during 31 January-1 February and lasted for about 20 hours. It included pyroclastic flows, lava flows, incandescent ejecta, ash plumes that rose to 7 km altitude, and ashfall more than 60 km from the volcano. Four lava flows emerged during the event, and the longest traveled 1,500 m down the Seca ravine. Multiple daily explosions that generated ash plumes continued through May 2018. Ash plumes usually rose to 4.2-4.9 km altitude (400-1,200 m above the summit) and drifted up to about 15 km from the volcano in the prevailing wind directions. Ashfall was often reported from communities within 10 km of the summit, most commonly to the W and SW, but also occasionally to the N and NE. Incandescent ejecta rose up to 300 m above the summit during periods of increased activity; block avalanches of the incandescent material descended the major drainages on all flanks, often as far as the vegetated areas several hundred m below the summit.

The first lahar of the year was reported on 9 April; additional lahars occurred several times during May after rainy periods. They were generally 20-30 m wide and 1-2 m deep, carrying debris 1-2 m in diameter. A lava flow was active in the Ceniza ravine for the second half of May, moving up to 1,000 m from the summit during heightened activity on 22 May, and again on 2 June.

The second major eruptive event of 2018, and the largest and deadliest explosive activity in recent history at Fuego, began with a strong explosion on the morning of 3 June 2018. Multiple explosions throughout the day produced an ash plume that was observed in satellite data at 15.2 km altitude, and a strong SO2 plume that drifted N and NE. Numerous large pyroclastic flows generated by the explosions throughout the day descended multiple ravines around the flanks. The most heavily damaged communities were San Miguel Los Lotes and El Rodeo, 10 km SE of the summit at the base of Las Lajas ravine. Most infrastructure in the communities was buried in ash; there were 110 reported fatalities, and at least 197 people reported missing and presumed dead. Additional explosions two days later caused a brief halt in recovery efforts as more pyroclastic flows covered the same area.

Abundant rainfall that began on 6 June 2018 led to over 30 lahars throughout the rest of the month, inundating all of the major ravines and tributaries of the Rio Pantaleón and Rio Gobernador and causing additional infrastructure damage to bridges and roads. The lahars were often 30-40 m wide, 3 m deep, and carried volcanic blocks and debris up to 3 m in diameter. Explosive activity declined to background levels by the middle of June, but daily explosions with ash plumes and incandescent avalanche blocks continued for the remainder of the month, with continued reports of ashfall in communities within 15 km of the summit.

Activity during January-February 2018. During January 2018, plumes of steam rose to 4.3-4.5 km altitude, drifting primarily W, SW, and S. Activity included 3 to 8 explosions per hour that generated ash plumes, which rose to about 4.3-4.8 km altitude (figure 82). Explosions on 19 January increased to 7-13 per hour, and produced ash plumes that drifted more than 15 km W, SW, and S. Incandescent ejecta rose 100-300 m above the crater and traveled up to 400 m from the crater, in some cases reaching vegetated areas. The SW flank was the most affected by ashfall; it was reported in the communities of San Pedro Yepocapa, Escuintla, Sangre de Cristo, Finca Palo Verde, El Porvenir, Santa Sofía, Morelia, Paniché I and II, Rochela, and Ceilán. Block avalanches traveled down the Seca, Taniluyá, Cenizas and Las Lajas ravines. On 28 January, seismic station FG3 registered an increase in pulses of tremor activity. MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued during 17 days in January. The Washington VAAC issued multiple daily aviation alerts on 22 days of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. Moderate explosions produced a plume of ash at Fuego on 14 January 2018 that drifted W a few hundred meters above the summit, seen in this view from SW of the volcano. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe mensual de la actividad del Volcan de Fuego, Enero 2018).

The first major eruptive event of 2018 occurred during 31 January-1 February and lasted for about 20 hours. It included pyroclastic flows, lava flows, incandescent ejecta, ash plumes that rose to 7 km altitude, and ashfall more than 60 km W, SW, and NE from the volcano (figure 83). Explosive activity increased to 5-8 events per hour, incandescent material rose up to 300 m above the crater, and ejecta traveled 300 m.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. The first major eruptive event of 2018 at Fuego produced ash plumes, pyroclastic flows, lava flows and incandescent ejecta on 1 February. Photo taken from the N (adjacent Acatenango in the foreground) by Ruben Merida, courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de la Actividad del Volcan de Fuego, Febrero 2018).

The substantial ash plume produced from the event drifted tens of kilometers to the W and SW (figures 84 and 85). The SW flank was the area most affected by ashfall, where communities of San Pedro Yepocapa and Escuintla, Sangre de Cristo, Palo Verde, El Porvenir, Santa Sofia, Morelia, Paniché I and II are located. Ashfall also occurred 10-25 km NE in La Rochela, San Andrés Osuna, La Reina, Ciudad Vieja, Antigua Guatemala, and in the WSW part of Guatemala City.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. A dense ash plume drifts W and SW from Fuego on 1 February 2018. Image taken by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A closeup of Fuego (see box in figure 84) on 1 February 2018 shows an ash plume drifting W and fresh ash and pyroclastic flow deposits around the summit during the first major eruptive event of 2019. Image taken by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Four lava flows emerged during the eruptive event; a 1,500-m-long flow traveled down the Seca ravine, a 700-m-long flow traveled down the Ceniza ravine, and flows in Las Lajas and La Honda canyons traveled 800 m from the summit. Numerous pyroclastic flows also descended the Honda and Seca ravines, and smaller pyroclastic flows descended the Trinidad and Las Lajas ravines (figure 86).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Pyroclastic flows descended short distances down several ravines (barrancas) at Fuego on 1 February 2018. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de la Actividad del Volcan de Fuego, Febrero 2018).

La Honda ravine had not been affected by pyroclastic flows since 1974; they traveled 5.8 km down that ravine (figure 87), and 4.2 km down the Seca ravine. About 2,880 residents of Escuintla (20 km SE) and Alotenango (8 km E) were evacuated during these events. Significant concentrations of SO2 were detected on 1 February by the Ozone Mapper Profiler Suite (OMPS) on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP) satellite (figure 88).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Pyroclastic flow deposits covered several kilometers of barranca La Honda on 6 February 2018 from the events which occurred on 1 February. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe Mensual de la Actividad del Volcan de Fuego, Febrero 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Significant concentrations of SO2 drifted SW on 1 February from the eruptive event at Fuego; they were recorded by the Ozone Mapper Profiler Suite (OMPS) on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP) satellite. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Multiple daily explosions with ash plumes continued throughout the rest of February; plumes generally rose to 4.5-4.7 km altitude, and ashfall was reported in communities 10-20 km from the volcano in various directions. Block avalanches descended barrancas Seca, Taniluyá, and Ceniza on most days. Incandescence at night was visible up to 200 m above the crater. MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 8 days of the month, and the Washington VAAC issued multiple daily aviation alerts throughout the month.

Activity during March-May 2018. Constant activity continued during March and April 2018, without any major eruptive episodes. Continuous degassing, explosions with ash plumes (figure 89), incandescent ejecta, and daily block avalanches were reported. Steam plumes rose daily to 4.2-4.4 km altitude and usually drifted NW, W, SW, or S. Explosions averaged 4-9 per hour and produced ash plumes that rose to 4.3-4.8 km altitude drifting more than 20 km NW, W, SW, and S. Incandescent ejecta was measured up to 300 m above the crater and traveled a similar distance down the flanks. Block avalanches sent debris up to a kilometer down the major drainages most days. The MODVOLC system recorded thermal alerts during 20 days of March and 22 days of April. The communities most affected by near-daily ashfall, on the SW flank, included San Pedro Yepocapa and Escuintla, Sangre de Cristo, Palo Verde Estate, El Porvenir, Santa Sofia, Morelia, and Paniché I and II. The Washington VAAC issued multiple daily aviation alerts nearly every day during both months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. The ash plume on 13 April 2018 at Fuego was typical of the activity during March and April. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán de Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 07 al 13 de abril de 2,018).

On 9 April the first lahar of the year descended the Seca canyon and the El Mineral channel, tributaries of the Pantaleón River. It was 10 m wide and 1.5 m deep, carrying abundant debris. In special bulletins released on 14 and 16 April INSIVUMEH noted increased explosive activity occurring at a rate of up to 10 explosions per hour, with ash plumes that rose to 4.8 km altitude. This was followed by a report of a lava flow during the evening of 16 April that traveled 1,300 m down the Seca Ravine.

Activity during the first two weeks of May 2018 was similar in character to the previous two months. Steam plumes rose to 4.1-4.3 km altitude, ash plumes rose to 4.5-4.8 km altitude from explosions that occurred at a rate of 4-8 per hour and drifted SW and W, and ashfall was reported in San Pedro Yepocapa, Morelia, El Por-venir, Sangre de Cristo, Santa Sofía, Finca Palo Verde, Panimaché I y II and other nearby communities. Incandescent ejecta rose 150-300 m high and was thrown 50 m from the crater; shockwaves from the explosions were felt 20-25 km away.

A lahar 12 m wide and 1.5 m deep descended the Seca Ravine on 10 May, dragging tree trunks and volcanic blocks as large as 1.5 m in diameter. A 500-m-long lava flow was reported in the barranca Ceniza on the afternoon of 15 May. Explosions occurred at a rate of 5-7 per hour on 16 May, and ash plumes rose as high as 7.8 km altitude and drifted 20 km W and SW, causing ashfall in Panimaché and Morelia. A moderate-sized lahar traveled down the El Jute ravine on 16 May after rains the previous night. During the afternoons of 16, 17, and 18 May lahars flowed down the Seca ravine from the recent abundant rainfall; they were 20 m wide, 1-2 m deep, and carried tree trunks and blocks 1-2 m in diameter. They grew to 25-30 m wide as they reached the confluence with the Rio Pantaleón, and the odor of sulfur was reported.

A lava flow in the barranca Ceniza was active for a distance of 900 m on 17 May, 600 m on 18 May, and 150 m on 19 May. Occasional sounds were audible more than 30 km from Fuego on 20 May from the 6-8 explosions that occurred every hour. Incandescent pulses rose 250 m above the crater during the night. The lava flow was active again to 700-800 m down the Ceniza ravine on 21 May. Overall activity increased to 10-15 weak to moderate explosions per hour on 22 May. The ash plumes rose to 4.3-4.7 km altitude and drifted 15 km S. Incandescent ejecta rose 300 m above the crater and lava flowed 1,000 m down the Ceniza ravine. On 23 May pulses of incandescent material rose 200-350 m above the crater and generated block avalanches that traveled down the Seca, Ceniza, and Las Lajas ravines as far as the vegetated areas. The lava flow in the Ceniza ravine was active up to 800 m from the summit that day. Explosions had decreased to 5-7 per hour by 24 May; the lava flow was still active 800 m down the Ceniza on 25 May.

The Fuego Observatory reported lahars on 25 May in the Seca and Mineral ravines that were 35 m wide and 1.5 m deep carrying abundant volcanic material. They blocked access between the communities of Yepocapa and Morelia, Santa Sofia, and others on the SW flank. Weak explosions and incandescence continued during the last week of the month, with low-level ash plumes drifting generally S, although poor visibility obscured most observations. Ash advisory reports from the Washington VAAC were more intermittent during May than the previous few months, with reports issued on 13 days of the month. The MODVOLC system reported thermal alerts on 16 days during May. The MIROVA project Log Radiative Power plot for the first six months of 2018 showed constant levels of activity similar to that during 2017 (see figure 73, BGVN 43:02) through the beginning of June, with a spike during the eruptive episode of 31 January-1 February (figure 90). The thermal signal ceased abruptly after the explosive events of early June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. The MIROVA project Log Radiative Power plot for Fuego for the first six months of 2018 showed constant levels of activity similar to that during 2017 (see figure 73, BGVN 43:02) through the beginning of June, with a spike during the eruptive episode of 31 January-1 February. Thermal activity ceased abruptly after the explosive events of early June. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Fuego was characterized by ongoing moderate activity during the first two days of June. Steam plumes rose to 4.5 km altitude and drifted S, and 5-8 moderate explosions per hour produced ash plumes that rose to 4.6-4.8 km altitude and drifted 8-20 km S and SE. Moderate to strong shock waves from the explosions caused roofs to vibrate 15-20 km away on the S flank. Pulses of incandescent ejecta rose 100-200 m above the crater and created block avalanches that descended the Seca, Ceniza and Las Lajas ravines as far as the vegetated areas; fine-grained ash fell in Panamiche I. On 2 June lahars descended the Seca, Rio Mineral, Cenizas, Trinidad and Jute ravines, and a lava flow was reported moving 1,000 m down the Ceniza ravine.

Eruptive events of 3-5 June 2018. The second major eruptive event of 2018, and the deadliest in the recent history of Fuego, began with a strong explosion in the early morning of 3 June 2018. The ash plume rose rapidly to 6 km altitude and initially drifted W and SW. It generated large pyroclastic flows that traveled down the Seca, Santa Teresa, and Ceniza ravines and into the communities of Sangre de Cristo and San Pedro Yepocapa on the W flank. Strong explosions continued throughout the day and generated additional large pyroclastic flows in the Seca, Cenizas, Mineral, Taniluyá, Las Lajas, and Honda ravines with devastating consequences to numerous communities around the volcano (figures 91-94).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Large pyroclastic flows descended multiple flanks of Fuego on 3 June 2018 causing significant fatalities and extensive property damage in adjacent communities. View is from Alotenango, 8 km E of the summit. Photo Credit: Orlando Estrada/AFP/Getty, courtesy of The Express.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. A large pyroclastic flow on 3 June 2018 descended the Las Lajas ravine adjacent to La Reunión Golf Course, 7 km SE of the summit of Fuego. Courtesy of Matthew Watson, volcanologist.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. The pyroclastic flows at Fuego on 3 June 2018 descended multiple ravines and damaged or destroyed a number of roadways and bridges. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty, courtesy of The Express.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. After the pyroclastic flows at Fuego descended on 3 June 2018, the Las Lajas ravine adjacent to La Reunión Golf Course 7 km SE of the summit was filled with steaming ash and debris. Courtesy of GeoGis.

The Washington VAAC reported explosions later in the day that generated an ash plume that drifted NE at 9.1 km altitude and E at 15.2 km altitude. The Suomi NPP satellite captured an image of the ash plume rising above the cloud cover at 1300 local time (figure 95). Ashfall of tephra and lapilli was reported more than 25 km away in the village of La Soledad; in addition, the municipalities of Quisache (8 km NW), Acatenango (12 km NW), San Miguel Dueñas (10 km NE), Alotenango (8 km ENE), Antigua Guatemala (18 km NE), Chimaltenango (22 km N), and other areas NW and N of the volcano were impacted with ashfall. La Aurora airport in Guatemala City was closed for two days. In addition to the ash plume, a large plume of SO2 was recorded drifting N and E from the volcano at an altitude of 8 km shortly after the explosions were reported (figure 96).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. The ash plume from a large explosion at Fuego on 3 June 2018 rose above the cloud cover to over 15 km altitude and was imaged by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP at 1300 local time. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. A substantial plume of sulfur dioxide (SO2) was detected by the Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite (OMPS) on Suomi NPP satellite after the large eruption at Fuego on 3 June 2018. The image shows concentrations of sulfur dioxide in the middle troposphere at an altitude of 8 kilometers as detected by OMPS. Michigan Tech volcanologist Simon Carn noted that this appeared to be the "highest sulfur dioxide loading measured in a Fuego eruption in the satellite era." Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory and Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC).

The pyroclastic flows down the SE flank were especially devastating to the communities in their path, covering roofs and vehicles with ash and debris (figure 97-100) and killing scores of people. The communities of San Miguel Los Lotes about 9 km SE of the summit and El Rodeo (10 km SE), both in Escuintla Province, were severely damaged from the pyroclastic flows, with most of the fatalities and missing people reported from those communities.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. The pyroclastic flows that traveled down the SE flank of Fuego on 3 June 2018 were especially devastating to the communities in their path. This image taken two days later on 5 June shows how the low-lying areas around the ravine are buried in ash from the fast-moving pyroclastic flow, but the higher areas (like the golf course on the right) are relatively free of ash and debris (see figure 94). Courtesy of BBC and Getty Images.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. The pyroclastic flows from the eruption at Fuego on 3 June 2018 buried buildings up to 2 m deep in ash and debris in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes, Escuintla Province. Photo by Luis Echeverria/Reuters, courtesy of the Telegraph.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. Numerous vehicles were swept away in the pyroclastic flows that descended through the village of San Miguel Los Lotes, Escuintla on 3 June 2018 during the eruption at Fuego. This photo was taken on 5 June as rescue workers continued to search the town. Courtesy of Reuters and the Express.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. The pyroclastic flows that traveled through El Rodeo on 3 June 2018 from the large eruption at Fuego contained both fine-grained ash and large angular boulders of volcanic rocks. Rescue workers were forced to evacuate the town on 5 June as additional pyroclastic flows threatened the already devastated community. Courtesy of the Associated Press (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. Most of the village of El Rodeo, 10 km SE of the summit of Fuego, was buried by ash and debris from a pyroclastic flow on 3 June 2018. Rescue workers searched the village while heavy equipment repaired roadways on 5 June. Photo by Rodrigo Abd, courtesy of the Associated Press.

Explosions continued until early evening on 3 June, when pyroclastic flow activity finally diminished. The debris from the pyroclastic flows resulted in lahars descending the Pantaleón, Mineral, and other drainages, leading to the evacuations of the communities of Sangre de Cristo, Finca Palo Verde, Panimache and others that evening. Explosive activity returned to lower levels the following day with dense ash plumes rising to 4.5-4.6 km altitude from 5-7 weak explosions that occurred every hour. Abundant fine ash rose from the ravines filled with pyroclastic flow material from the previous day and drifted SW, W, NW, and N, affecting communities up to 25 km away in those directions. The Washington VAAC reported remnants of the ash plume drifting 300 km ENE on 4 June.

By 4 June, CONRED had increased the Alert Level to red for the communities of Escuintla (22 km SE), Alotenango (8 km E), Sacatepéquez, Yepocapa (8 km NW), Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa (22 km SW), and Chimaltenango, and opened 13 evacuation shelters in the area. CONRED initially reported on 5 June that 3,271 people were evacuated, 46 were injured and there were 70 known fatalities as a result of the pyroclastic flows and lahars on 3 June. A state of emergency was declared in all three of the provinces (Departments) of Escuintla, Sacatepéquez and Chimaltenango surrounding the volcano.

The number of block avalanches increased on 5 June as a result of 8-10 moderate explosions per hour; ash plumes and pyroclastic flow debris created persistent ash in the air around the volcano. The avalanches traveled 800-1,000 m down Las Lajas and Santa Teresa ravines. On 5 June, a pyroclastic flow descended the El Jute and Las Lajas ravines at 1410 local time. INSIVUMEH reported an increase in explosive activity a few hours later; dense ash plumes rose to 6 km altitude and drifted E and NE. Another pyroclastic flow descended the Las Lajas around 1928 local time that evening. These new pyroclastic flows led CONRAD to evacuate the additional communities of La Reyna, El Rodeo, Cañaveral I and IV, Hunnapu, Magnolia, and Sarita located on the Palín-Escuintla highway, and the highway itself was also closed (figure 102).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. Pyroclastic flows descended the flanks of Fuego on 5 June 2018, causing additional damage after the major eruption two days earlier. The view is from the community of El Rodeo, 10 km SE, heavily damaged at the beginning of the eruption. Photo Credits: Rodrigo Abd/AP/REX/Shutterstock, courtesy of the Associated Press.

Activity during 6-30 June 2018. Weak to moderate explosions continued at Fuego on 6 June with ash plumes rising to 4.7 km altitude and drifting W and SW. Significant rainfall in the area that afternoon around 1610 resulted in lahars descending the Seca and Mineral ravines, tributaries of the Rio Pantaleón. One lahar was 30-40 m wide and 4-5 m deep emanating warm sulfurous gases; it carried fine-grained material similar to cement, rocks and debris 2-3 m in diameter, and tree trunks. The communities around the mouths of the ravines and near the Pantaleón Bridge were most affected. New lahars about an hour later descended the Santa Teresa, Mineral and Taniluyá ravines, also tributaries of the Pantaleón River. These lahars were about 30 m wide, 2-3 m deep, and carried similar cement-like fine grained material down the Pantaleón along with blocks 2-3 m in diameter and tree trunks.

Seismic station FG3 recorded a pyroclastic flow descending Las Lajas and El Jute ravines at 2140 local time on 7 June. INSIVUMEH estimated that it produced an ash cloud that rose to 6 km altitude and drifted W and SW. INSIVUMEH issued five special bulletins on 8 June reporting numerous lahars and pyroclastic flows. Lahars descended Santa Teresa, Mineral, and Taniluyá ravines into the Pantaleón around 0240 local time; they were 30 m wide, 2-3 m deep, and carried 2-3-m-diameter blocks and tree trunks. Another surge of lahars registered on the seismogram about two hours later in the same ravines and also in the Ceniza, additionally affecting the Achiguate River. A pyroclastic flow descended Las Lajas ravine at 0820 in the morning, producing another 6-km-high ash cloud. Two more similar pyroclastic flows in the same area were recorded at the seismic station at 1945 and 2040 local time that evening.

During the afternoon of 9 June, lahars descended the Seca, Mineral, Niagara and Taniluyá, generating the largest lahar to date for the year in the Pantaleón River. It was 40 m wide and 5 m deep carrying abundant blocks up to 3 m in diameter and other debris down the W flank. Later that evening explosive activity continued at a rate of 4-7 per hour, dispersing ash plumes up to 15 km W and SW from the summit at an altitude of 4.2-4.4 km. The explosions were audible up to 10 km in all directions. The same ravines and also the Ceniza were affected by new lahars 35 m wide and 3 m deep the following afternoon as a result of the constant rains in the area. Rains continued on 11 June and resulted in strong lahars descending the Seca and Mineral ravines around 1415 local time with diameters of 35-40 m and depths of 3 m. Another strong lahar descended Las Lajas and el Jute ravines in the evening at 1750 local time; these had widths ranging from 35-55 m and depths up to 5 m.

INSIVUMEH reported an increase in explosive activity beginning in the morning of 12 June 2018, producing ash plumes that rose up to 5 km altitude and drifted NE and N 15-25 km. This activity also produced a pyroclastic flow down the Seca ravine around 0730 local time with an ash cloud that rose about 6 km and drifted N and NE. That afternoon a strong lahar descended the Las Lajas ravine, carrying blocks 3 m in diameter in a hot, thick flow that was 35-45 m wide and up to 5 m deep. Since there were no longer distinct channels in the ravine, the material spread out in a wide fan flowing towards the area around El Rodeo. Additional smaller lahars descended the Ceniza and Mineral ravines later that afternoon. By 12 June 2018 CONRED reported that 110 fatalities had been confirmed, 197 additional people were missing, and over 12,500 people had been evacuated since the 3 June explosions began.

On 13 June, a small pyroclastic flow descended the Ceniza ravine around 0630. It was the last pyroclastic flow reported during June. Beginning with the first post-eruption lahars on 6 June, multiple lahars occurred every day during 8-18, 20-23, 26, and 30 June (table 18). The barrancas of Seca, Mineral, Santa Teresa, Taniluyá, Niagra, Ceniza, Las Lajas, El Jute, Rio El Gobernador, and Rio Pantaleón were all impacted by the lahars; they ranged in size from smaller flows that were 20 m wide and 2 m deep carrying blocks 1-3 m in diameter to the largest which were over 40 m wide, up to 5 m deep and carried blocks as large as 3 m in diameter. The flows were warm or hot, carrying tree trunks and other debris, and had strong sulfurous odors. Communities adjacent to the ravines could feel the vibrations of the flows as they passed. As many of the ravines were full of ash and rocks from the pyroclastic flows, new channels were formed and the flows spread out in fans as they descended, further threatening the communities around the flanks of the volcano.

Table 18. Lahars at Fuego were reported 33 separate times between 6 and 30 June 2018; many reports included multiple simultaneous lahars in drainages around all the flanks. Data courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

Date Local time Ravine(s) Width (m) Depth (m) Block Size (m)
06 Jun 2018 1610 Seca, Mineral 30-40 4-5 2-3
06 Jun 2018 1720 Santa Teresa, Mineral and Taniluyá 30 2-3 2-3
08 Jun 2018 0240 Santa Teresa, Mineral, and Taniluyá 30 2-3 2-3
08 Jun 2018 0450 Santa Teresa, Mineral, and Taniluyá, Ceniza -- -- 2-3
09 Jun 2018 1400 Seca, Mineral, Niagara and Taniluyá 40 5 3
10 Jun 2018 1515 Seca, Mineral, Niagara and Taniluyá, Ceniza 35 3 1
11 Jun 2018 1415 Seca and Mineral 35-40 3 3
11 Jun 2018 1750 Las Lajas and el Jute 35-55 3-5 3
12 Jun 2018 1330 Las Lajas 35-45 5 3
12 Jun 2018 1425 Ceniza, Mineral 20 2 1-3
13 Jun 2018 0110 Ceniza 25 2 1-3
13 Jun 2018 1350 Las Lajas 30-40 3 3
14 Jun 2018 0145 Santa Teresa and Mineral 20-25 2 3
14 Jun 2018 1445 Taniluyá, Ceniza, rio El Gobernador, Las Lajas 30-45 3 3
15 Jun 2018 1715 Seca, Mineral 30-35 3 3
15 Jun 2018 1725 Las Lajas 30-35 2 3
15 Jun 2018 1740 Taniluyá, Ceniza 20-25 2 3
16 Jun 2018 1445 Las Lajas 30-35 2 3
17 Jun 2018 1415 Las Lajas -- -- 3
17 Jun 2018 1440 Seca, Mineral 40 2 2
18 Jun 2018 1510 Seca, Mineral 25-30 3 3
18 Jun 2018 1600 Las Lajas 40-45 2 3
20 Jun 2018 0735 Las Lajas 35-45 2-3 3
20 Jun 2018 1230 Las Lajas 30-35 3 3
20 Jun 2018 1415 Seca, Mineral, Taniluyá, Ceniza 30-35 3 3
21 Jun 2018 1940 Las Lajas 30-35 3 3
22 Jun 2018 0030 Las Lajas -- -- 3
22 Jun 2018 1450 Las Lajas -- -- 2-3
22 Jun 2018 1535 Rio Pantaleón 40 3 3
23 Jun 2018 1740 El Jute, Las Lajas, San Miguel los Lotes area -- -- 3
26 Jun 2018 1412 El Jute, Las Lajas, San Miguel los Lotes area -- -- 3
26 Jun 2018 1455 Seca, Mineral, Niagra, Ceniza -- -- 2-3
30 Jun 2018 1435 Seca, Mineral -- -- 2-3

Explosions continued daily through the end of June 2018 at rates ranging from 4 to 9 explosions per hour, creating block avalanches that descended all the major ravines. Ash plumes rose to 4.2-4.9 km altitude (500-1,000 m above the summit) and drifted in multiple directions. On 18 and 22 June, fine-grained ashfall was reported in Panimache, Morelia, Sangre de Cristo, and Palo Verde. By 24 June, satellite imagery revealed that elevated heat was still discernable in several ravines that had been filled with pyroclastic flow debris earlier in the month (figure 103). Explosions on 27 and 28 June sent ash plumes W and ashfall was reported in Sangre de Cristo, Yepocapa, and communities a few km W of Fuego.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. Elevated thermal signals in drainages filled with pyroclastic flows were still apparent in satellite imagery at Fuego on 24 June 2018, three weeks after a major explosive event. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Geologic Background. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3763-m-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the north, Acatenango. Construction of Meseta dates back to about 230,000 years and continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Collapse of Meseta may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km onto the Pacific coastal plain. Growth of the modern Fuego volcano followed, continuing the southward migration of volcanism that began at Acatenango. In contrast to the mostly andesitic Acatenango, eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), Av. Hincapié 21-72, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://conred.gob.gt/www/index.php); 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 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/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); Associated Press (URL: https://apnews.com/); AFP/Getty, Agence France-Presse (URL: http://www.afp.com/); BBC News (URL: https://www.bbc.com/); The Telegraph (URL: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/); Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/); The Express (URL: https://www.express.co.uk); Matthew Watson, School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol, Twitter: @Matthew__Watson), (URL: https://twitter.com/Matthew__Watson); GeoGis, Twitter: @jlescriba, (URL: https://twitter.com/jlescriba).

Search Bulletin Archive by Publication Date

Select a month and year from the drop-downs and click "Show Issue" to have that issue displayed in this tab.

   

The default month and year is the latest issue available.

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 43, Number 02 (February 2018)

Managing Editor: Edward Venzke

Aira (Japan)

Explosions gradually decrease in frequency during 2015-2016

Ambae (Vanuatu)

New eruption begins in early September 2017, forcing evacuation of thousands

Ambrym (Vanuatu)

Elevated seismicity in early August 2017-early November 2017, lava lakes remain

Fernandina (Ecuador)

Brief fissure eruption sends lava flow down the SW flank in early September 2017

Fuego (Guatemala)

Seven eruptive episodes during July-December 2017

Sheveluch (Russia)

Ash explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lava dome growth continue through January 2018

Stromboli (Italy)

Moderate increase in thermal energy and explosion rate, April-August 2017

Tinakula (Solomon Islands)

Short-lived ash emission and large SO2 plume 21-26 October 2017; historical eruption accounts

Tungurahua (Ecuador)

Ash emissions, explosions, and pyroclastic flows 26 February-16 March 2016; no further activity through 2017

Yasur (Vanuatu)

Typical ongoing eruptive activity and thermal anomalies through January 2018



Aira (Japan) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions gradually decrease in frequency during 2015-2016

Sakurajima rises from Kagoshima Bay, which fills the Aira Caldera near the southern tip of Japan's Kyushu Island. Frequent explosive and occasional effusive activity has been ongoing for centuries. The Minamidake summit cone has been the location of persistent activity since 1955; the Showa crater on its E flank has been the most active site since 2006. Tens of explosions and ash-bearing emissions have been occurring monthly for the last several years and were continuous through October 2015. After a three-month break, activity resumed in February 2016 and lasted through August 2016. No further activity was reported through December 2016. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) provided regular reports on activity, and the Tokyo VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center) issued hundreds of reports about ash plumes during 2015-2016.

The number of explosive events at the Showa crater of Sakurajima increased from January-May 2015. During the period, ash emissions commonly rose 3,000 m above the crater rim, and a few exceeded 4,000 m; tephra was often ejected 1.3 km and as far as 1.8 km from the crater. Incandescence was observed every week; multiple MODVOLC thermal alerts were reported monthly from January-June 2015. The Tokyo VAAC issued 845 reports between 1 January and 14 October 2015. The number of monthly explosions decreased sharply during June-August. Tiltmeter and strainmeter data indicated continuing inflation through mid-August when the inflation rate increased significantly for a brief period. This was followed by deflation for the remainder of 2015. Pyroclastic flows were reported in March, April, and June. Minor emissions occurred at Minamidake crater in May, June, and August. Activity increased at both craters during September, with the first substantial explosion at Minamidake in almost a year. An emission from Showa on 2 November 2015 was noted in a JMA weekly report, but its composition was not described; the last confirmed ash emission of the year was on 14 October 2015.

After three months of quiet, a substantial explosion at Showa in early February 2016 marked the beginning of a new eruptive episode that continued through the end of July, after which explosive activity ceased at Showa for the remainder of the year (figure 49). Minor emissions were reported at Minamidake through August 2016. Pyroclastic flows occurred in April and June from explosions at the Showa crater. Inflation was measured again beginning in April 2016 and continued through December 2016.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Explosions from the Showa crater at Sakurajima, January 2013-December 2016. Data do not include activity at Minamidake crater, or passive (non-explosive) ash or steam emissions from Showa. After many years of multiple monthly explosions, activity decreased in September 2015. A smaller burst of activity occurred from February to July 2016. Data compiled from JMA reports.

Activity during January-May 2015. JMA reported 61 explosions from the Showa crater during January 2015, twice the number recorded in December 2014 (figure 50). Explosions on 4 and 30 January sent ejecta as far as 1.8 km from the crater. The maximum plume height reported by JMA was 4,000 m above the crater rim on 23 January. Lapilli up to 2 cm in diameter from recent explosions were found in Kurokami (3.5 km E) and Arimura (3 km S) during JMA field visits on 16 and 30 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. An ash emission at Sakurajima on 20 January 2015 was captured by a webcam in Kagoshima (10 km W). Courtesy of Volcano Discovery.

The number of explosions increased to 88 during February 2015, with events on 21 and 22 February sending tephra 1.8 km from the crater. Plumes rose as much as 3,500 m above the rim during the month. During a field survey on 4 March scientists observed ash deposits with fragments up to 2 cm in diameter, in an area 3 km S of Showa Crater. JMA reported that the largest number of explosions they have recorded in a month, 178, occurred at the crater in March. Numerous plumes rose 3,300 m above the crater. A small pyroclastic flow on 17 March traveled 600 m SE.

Seismicity below the island increased briefly between 31 March and 2 April 2015. An explosion on 17 April sent tephra 1.8 km from the crater rim. Two pyroclastic flows were reported on 18 and 28 April 2015; Showa crater had 112 explosions throughout the month. The pyroclastic flow on 28 April travelled 500 m down the SE flank. The highest ash plume rose 4,000 m on 24 April. JMA calculated that about 1.2 million tons of ash fell during April, the largest monthly amount recorded since 2006.

Several of the 169 explosions at the Showa crater during May 2015 produced ejecta that was deposited up to 1.8 km from the crater. Many explosions had plume heights exceeding 3,000 m. A small emission, rising 200 m, was observed from the Minamidaki crater on 12 May and was the first in several months. JMA scientists observed 2-cm-diameter tephra in the vicinity of Kurojin-cho, Kagoshima-shi on 14 May, likely from an explosion the previous day; significant ashfall covered the ground as well. The highest ash plume of the month rose 4,300 m above the Showa crater on 21 May 2015 (figures 51 and 52).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. An ash plume rose 4,300 m above Sakurajima on 21 May 2015, shown in this webcam image from Kagoshima. Courtesy of Volcano Discovery.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. A dense plume of ash drifted S and E from Sakurajima on 21 May 2015. This natural-color satellite image was taken by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Activity during June-December 2015. Five of the 64 explosions recorded during June produced ejecta that landed up to 1.3 km from the Showa Crater (figure 53). A 3,300-m-high ash plume on 1 June was the highest for the month. After three explosions on 4 June, a small pyroclastic flow traveled 400 m down the E flank. A second small event on 22 June at Minamidake produced a gray plume that rose 200 m.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Ash rose from Showa Crater at Sakurajima on 9 June 2015. Image taken by a drone managed by Naoto Yoshitome and Krishima Aerial Photography. Courtesy of Naoto Yoshitome, Twitter.

Activity decreased significantly beginning in July 2015, with 14 explosions reported from the Showa Crater, and declined further during August with only 5 explosions. A small explosion from the Minamidake crater on 16 July sent emissions likely containing ash (described as "non-white") to 200 m. A rapid increase in seismicity directly beneath Minamidake began on 15 August and lasted about 48 hours; along with tiltmeter and strainmeter observations of rapid inflation (figure 54), this led JMA to briefly raise the Alert Level from 3 (Do not approach the volcano) to 4 (Prepare to evacuate) an a scale of 1-5. They lowered it back to 3 on 1 September 2015. Only small explosions with tephra ejected up to 800 m were recorded during the rest of the August. Minor emissions occurred at Minamidake Crater on 30 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. An interference image of Sakurajima using PALSAR-2 high-resolution mode (3 m resolution) data comparing displacement between 4 January and 16 August 2015. The data showed a displacement toward the satellite (inflation) of about 16 cm maximum (within the white square), on the E side of the Minamidake summit crater. The synthetic aperture radar (PALSAR - 2) equipped with Daichi 2 (Land Observing Satellite No. 2 "Daichi 2" (ALOS- 2)) can measure the displacement of the ground surface (how much the ground moved) by taking the difference between two sets of observation data. Such an analysis method is called interference SAR analysis (or interferometry, InSAR). The color changes represent the differences in the two observations, a pattern of green to red to blue indicates movement of the surface towards the satellite (inflation); a pattern of green to blue to red indicates movement away from the satellite (deflation). Courtesy of JAXA (http://www.eorc.jaxa.jp/ALOS-2/img_up/jpal2_sakurajima_20150816-17.htm).

Incandescence at the Showa Crater was observed several times during September 2015; 46 explosive events were reported. The first significant explosions at the Minamidake summit crater since 7 November 2014 occurred on 13 and 28 September. The 28 September plume rose to 2,700 m above the crater rim. Tiltmeter data indicated no additional inflation since the rapid ground deformation of 15-16 August. The last explosive event of 2015 reported by JMA at the Showa crater was on 17 September and at the Minamidaki crater on 29 September.

The Tokyo VAAC reported an ash emission on 14 October 2015 that rose to 1.8 km and drifted SW. This was the last VAAC report until 5 February 2016. No explosions were recorded at the Showa crater in October, but minor ash emissions were reported on 14, 15, 21, 22, and 30 October. No activity was observed at Minamidake. Data from continuous GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) observations suggested that deflation began after the 15 August rapid inflation event.

A minor emission was reported by JMA from the Showa crater on 2 November 2015, the last emission reported for the year. After not having explosive activity since late September, JMA lowered the Alert Level to 2 (Do not approach the crater) on 25 November, reducing the exclusion area to 1 km around the two craters. Only steam plumes rising 50-200 m above the Showa crater and 50-600 m above the Minamidake crater were observed during December 2015.

Aerial observation on 2 December 2015 revealed 100-m-high steam plumes around the floor of the Showa crater. Thermal observations showed high heat flow around the edges and at the center of the crater floor, unchanged since the previous observation in August 2015; 200-m-high steam plumes around the Minamidake crater prevented observation of the crater floor.

Activity during 2016. No explosive activity was observed at Showa or Minamidake craters from October 2015 to 5 February 2016. JMA raised the Alert Level back to 3 after a substantial explosion on 5 February sent incandescent tephra up to 1.8 km from the Showa crater; lightning was observed in the ash cloud (figure 55). The Tokyo VAAC reported that an ash plume visible in satellite imagery was at 3 km altitude drifting SE. Multiple explosions continued from the Showa crater for the rest of February with ash plumes rising to 2.2 km above the crater, and tephra was frequently ejected 1.3 km from the crater. Four MODVOLC thermal alerts in February were the only alerts for 2016. At the Minamidake summit crater, minor emissions occurred on 8, 9, and 20 February with plumes rising 800 m above the crater rim.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Incandescent tephra explodes from Showa crater at Sakurajima on 5 February 2016 after three months of inactivity. Photo by Kyoto News/AP. Courtesy of the Washington Post.

Eight explosions at the Showa crater were reported by JMA, and six at the Minamidake summit crater during March 2016. Ash plumes at Minamidake on 4, 8, and 11 March rose 1,600-1,900 m above the crater rim; on 25 and 26 March they rose 2,000 m. Minor emissions were also noted on 14 and 15 March. Three explosions from the Showa Crater on 26 March sent ash plumes 2,700 m high (figure 56); tephra as large as 8 mm in diameter was found in areas 4 km E.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Multiple explosions on 26 March 2016 at Sakurajima sent tephra as large as 8 mm in diameter as far as 4 km from Minamidake crater. Image taken from a drone managed by Naoto Yoshidome. Courtesy of Naoto Yoshidome, Twitter.

Activity increased during April 2016 with 51 emission events that included 15 explosions at Showa, and JMA reported inflation again after several months of stability. Reports of falling tephra, 2 cm in diameter, came from a town 3 km S after explosions were witnessed during 1-3 April. On 1 April, an explosion at Minamidake summit crater produced an ash plume which rose 800 m above its crater rim; another on 3 April rose 1,700 m. Minor emissions also occurred at Minamidake on 5, 6, and 9 April. Explosions on 6 and 8 April at Showa sent ash plumes 3,500-3,700 m high and tephra 1.3 km. During the 8 April explosion at Showa, a small pyroclastic flow traveled 400 m down the E flank, the first since June 2015. A 2,200-m-high ash plume rose from Showa crater on 17 April. Minor emissions that rose 800 m were detected at Minamidake on 20 and 28 April. Two explosions occurred on 27 April at Showa, followed by additional explosions on 28, 29, and 30 April; the events generated ash plumes that rose 3,000 m. Pyroclastic flows were generated during the events of 28 and 30 April; they each flowed about 500 m, SE and E, respectively.

A large explosion at the Showa crater on 1 May sent an ash plume to 4,100 m above the crater rim (figure 57). It was the first time since 21 May 2015 that a plume rose higher than 4,000 m. At the Minamidake summit crater, ash emissions on 1 and 13 May rose 3,500 and 3,700 m, respectively, the first plumes at Minamidake over 3,000 m since October 2009. An explosion on 8 May at Showa sent an ash plume over 3,300 m above the crater rim, and tephra reached 1,300 m from the crater. Numerous ash emissions continued throughout the month, some with plumes rising to 3,500 m. The Tokyo VAAC issued 26 reports between 13 and 22 May. Activity diminished toward the end of the month, but minor inflation continued.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. An explosive eruption at Sakurajima's Showa Crater on 1 May 2016 sent an ash plume 4,100 m above the crater that drifted SE. It was the highest plume in the last year. Taken with the "Cattle Root" webcam, courtesy of JMA (May 2016 Monthly Sakurajima report).

Multiple ash emissions in early June 2016 produced plumes as high as 2,000 m above the Showa crater rim. An explosion on 3 June produced a pyroclastic flow that traveled 400 m SE, and tephra that was ejected 800 m from the crater. An emission at the Minamidake crater on 3 June rose 1,500m high. No further explosive activity was reported for June; only a minor emission from the Showa crater on 29 June. During the month, the Tokyo VAAC issued only six reports (during 2-3 June).

Two explosive events were recorded at Showa crater in July 2016. An explosion occurred on 2 July that produced a 1,200-m-high ash plume and sent large blocks 800 m from the crater. A substantial explosion on 26 July at Showa sent blocks 800 m from the crater, and produced an ash plume that rose 5,000 m. A minor amount of ashfall on the W and SW flanks of Sakurajima was observed, and ashfall was confirmed in a wide area from Kagoshima City (10 km W) to Hioki City (25 km NW). The Tokyo VAAC reported an ash plume drifting SW at 6.1 km altitude that day.

Minor emissions were observed at the Minamidake crater intermittently throughout August 2016, but no emissions or explosions were reported from Showa. The Tokyo VAAC reported a low-level ash plume on 22 August at 1.2 km altitude drifting 50 km SW (figure 58). This was the last VAAC report for 2016. Although there were no emissions or explosive activity reported from either crater during September-December 2016, inflation of the volcano continued, and thus the Alert Level remained at 3.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. An ash emission rose from Sakurajima's Minamidake crater on the morning of 22 August 2016. This was the last reported ash emission of 2016. Taken from the Tarumizu City MBC (Minaminihon Broadcasting Co., Ltd.) webcam no. 14, located about 14 km E. Courtesy of Minaminihon Broadcasting Co., Ltd. (http://www.mbc.co.jp/web-cam/).

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); 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/); Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) (URL: http://global.jaxa.jp/); Associated Press (URL: http://www.ap.org/); Tom Pfeiffer, Volcano Discovery (URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/ ); Naoto Yoshidome, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com); Minaminihon Broadcasting Co., Ltd (MBC). (http://www.mbc.co.jp/web-cam/).


Ambae (Vanuatu) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambae

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New eruption begins in early September 2017, forcing evacuation of thousands

Ambae (formerly called Aoba) is a large basaltic shield volcano in the New Hebrides arc that has generated periodic phreatic and pyroclastic explosions originating in the summit crater lakes Manaro Lakua and Voui during the last 25 years; the central edifice with the active summit craters is also commonly referred to as Lombenben, Manaro Voui, or simply the Manaro volcano. From late November 2005 to mid-February 2006 explosions from Lake Voui resulted in the formation of a pyroclastic cone in the lake. By late November 2006 the side of the cone was breached, and its central crater filled with lake water (figure 30, BGVN 31:12). The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) reported intermittent increases in degassing activity between 2006 and August 2017, and minor ash emissions during June-July 2011 and August 2016. An explosive eruption from a new pyroclastic cone in the lake began in mid-September 2017 and lasted through mid-November. This report summarizes activity between 2010 and the new eruption in September 2017 and provides details for the eruption through December 2017, with information provided primarily by the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory of VMGD, the Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and satellite data from several sources.

Local ashfall around the pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui during June-July 2011 and August 2016 were the only eruptive events between February 2006 and September 2017, although intermittent SO2 emissions were noted throughout the period. Renewed explosive activity was reported beginning on 6 September 2017. Lava was first observed on 22 September emerging from a vent at the summit of the pyroclastic cone. Ash plumes and fountaining lava persisted for a few weeks as the pyroclastic cone increased in size. Activity became more intermittent by mid-October, but explosions still produced ash plumes; the highest was reported at 9.1 km altitude. Pulses of thermal activity suggesting lava flows continued through early November. The last ash emission of the year was reported on 23 November 2017, after which only steam and gas were noted.

Activity during 2010-August 2017. After several years of quiet since early 2006, substantial gas plumes were observed beginning in December 2009 and the Volcanic Alert Level was raised to 1 (on a 0-5 scale). Plumes of gas emissions were observed during 6-11 April 2010, and steam emissions were photographed during 3-4 June 2010 (figure 32).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Steam plumes rose from the crater of the pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui at Ambae on 4 June 2010. Courtesy of Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) (Vanuatu Volcanic Activity Bulletin No. 1-Ambae activity, Monday, July 11th, 2011).

Sulfur dioxide emissions were often elevated, and plumes were identified multiple times with satellite instruments during 2011 (figure 33). Local ashfall around the crater of the pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui was reported after explosions and seismicity on 4 June 2011; additional explosions occurred on 10 July 2011. Compared to January 2010, the cone was significantly eroded when photographed on 12 July 2011.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. SO2 plumes from Ambae and Ambrym volcanoes during 2011. SO2 plumes drifted W from both Ambae (N) and Ambrym (S) on 19 April 2011 (left). The SO2 plume from Ambae is small but also distinct from the much larger plume from Ambrym on 30 October 2011 (right). It is often difficult to distinguish between the two sources of the SO2. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

While no ash emissions or explosions were reported during 2012 from Ambae, SO2 plumes were recorded by satellite instruments every month except June and August (figure 34). Villagers in Ambanga reported a "phase of minor activity" beginning in December 2012. Increased SO2 plumes were recorded in satellite data during December as well (figure 35). Nearby Ambrym often produces large SO2 plumes which obscure SO2 emissions from Ambae.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. SO2 plumes were recorded every month of 2012 except June and August. Plumes emerging from Ambae are often difficult to distinguish from larger plumes released from Ambrym, located 100 km S. Data from the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite on both 9 January and 5 April (top images) showed SO2 emissions from three volcanos in the New Hebrides arc; from N to S, Gaua, Ambae, and Ambrym. Plumes from both Ambae and Ambrym drifted SE on 21 September (lower left), and smaller plumes drifted W from both Ambrym and Ambae on 3 November (lower right). Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Increased gas emissions from Ambae were reported by nearby residents in Ambanga during December 2012. More frequent SO2 emissions were also recorded by the OMI satellite instrument including on 1 (top left), 12 (top right), 17 (bottom left), and 21 (bottom right) December 2012. Courtesy of NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center.

Site observations during 30 January-2 February 2013 confirmed continuing degassing at Lake Voui, and remnants of the old pyroclastic cone still visible in the lake. The Aura satellite instrument detected SO2 emissions a number of times throughout 2013-2016 (figure 36), and VMGD noted continuing unrest multiple times during 2015.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Selected SO2 emissions during 2013-2016 at Ambae. SO2 emissions drifted W from both Ambae (N) and Ambrym (S) on 13 February 2013 (top left). A rare image of an SO2 plume from Ambae with no plume from Ambrym was recorded on 5 May 2014 (top right). SO2 emissions were also distinct from each volcano on 10 November 2015 (bottom left) and 28 December 2016 (bottom right). Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

VMGD reported that during 18-19 August 2016 a steam plume was accompanied by a small ash emission in the caldera area. The Vanuatu Volcanic Alert Level (VVAL) was raised from 1 to 2 on 21 August 2016 and remained there for just over a year. Changing conditions were first reported by VMGD on 30 August 2017.

Activity during September-December 2017. The Alert Level was raised to 3 on 6 September 2017, indicating that a minor eruption was occurring. A week later VMGD reminded residents of the 3 km danger zone around the lake and added a 1 km exclusion zone within that area (figure 37). Explosive activity began building a new pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui, and ash plumes generated local ashfall on the island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. "Safety Map" showing hazard zones in the summit area of Ambae, consisting of a Danger Zone A (red oval line) around the summit caldera and a 1-km-radius Exclusion Zone around Manaro Voui. Courtesy of VMGD (Vanuatu Volcano Alert Bulletin No 10-Ambae Activity, Friday September 15th 2017).

On 22 September 2017, lava was observed at the surface by VMGD staff, there was a MODVOLC thermal alert, and a volcanic ash advisory was issued by the Wellington VAAC. The VAAC report estimated the ash plume observed in satellite data to be at an altitude of 3 km drifting E. On 23 September the VMGD stated that activity had continued to increase, prompting them to raise the VVAL to 4, indicating that a moderate eruption was taking place. They warned that ejecta and gas would affect an area within 6.5 km of Lake Voui, and many communities were at risk from various types of volcanic activity (figure 38). A dense plume of dark ash was photographed on 23 September by airplane travelers going to Ambae (figure 39).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Volcanic hazard map for Ambae. On 23 September 2017, VMGD raised the alert level to 4 and warned that ejecta and gas would likely affect an area within 6.5 km of Lake Voui (pink zone). Villages located in the gray and orange areas of the map could see ashfall and other hazards such as lahars and pyroclastic flows. The lighter area outlined with a dashed border indicates where villages would be more susceptible to ashfall and acid rain based on the general wind direction. Courtesy of VMGD (Vanuatu Volcano Alert Bulletin No. 11 - Ambae Activity, Saturday, September 23rd, 2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Ash emission photographed on 23 September 2017 from an airplane going to Ambae. Courtesy of Batik Bong Shem, Facebook.

Eruptive activity increased over the next few days. Larger explosions generated ash plumes that caused local ashfall. A photo taken on 24 September showed incandescent ejections and an ash plume rising from the pyroclastic cone (figure 40). The Wellington VAAC reported intermittent emissions that day at 2.4 km altitude drifting N, and again on 26 September at 2.1 km altitude drifting W. The New Zealand Defense Force conducted an overflight on 25 September 2017 and witnessed incandescence at the summit and lava flowing into the lake (figures 41, 42, and 43).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. An eruption from the pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui at Ambae on 24 September 2017. Courtesy of Yumi Toktok Stret News, Facebook.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) aerial survey on 25 September 2017 showed large columns of gas, ash, and volcanic rocks emerging from Lake Voui on Ambae. Courtesy of NZDF.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Lava flows into Lake Voui at Ambae, causing steam plumes. Incandescence is visible at the cone's summit through the clouds. The photo was likely taken on 25 or 26 September 2017. Posted by Geoff Reid NZ on Facebook on 2 October 2017.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Incandescent lava from the crater of the Lake Voui cone was photographed at Ambae on 25 September 2017. Image courtesy of Reuters, reported by BBC.

A 27 September a news article from ABC.net stated that about 8,000 residents had been evacuated from the northern and southern parts of the island to eastern and western areas. An overflight by the New Zealand Defence Force showed ongoing activity. Multiple MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued nearly every day from 22 September through 7 October.

Photographs and thermal infrared images taken by VMGD during observation flights on 30 September and 1 October 2017 showed explosions of tephra, and lava flowing from small vents into the lake (figures 44-48). The number of vents on the cone varied from 2 to 4 during the observation flights.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Aerial view of the pyroclastic cone that formed in Lake Voui during September in the Ambae summit caldera. The active lava-producing vents are near the center of the island. The blue steaming zone is a lava flow. The white steaming to the right is lava entering the lake. Photo taken on 30 September 2017. Courtesy of VMGB, posted on Facebook 2 October 2017.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. The pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui at the summit of Ambae had active steam, ash, and gas emissions, in addition to lava flowing into the lake, on 1 October 2017. Courtesy of VMGD.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Aerial view of the cone that formed in Lake Voui during September 2017 in the summit caldera of Ambae. The Manaro Lakua lake can be seen in the background. The active vents are near the center of the island. The white steaming zone at the far end of the island was caused by lava flows entering the lake. Photo taken on 1 October 2017. Courtesy of VMGB, posted on Facebook 2 October 2017.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Infrared aerial view of the volcanic cone that has formed in Lake Voui during September 2017 near the summit of Ambae Island. The active lava producing vents are the hottest areas near the center of the island (inwhite). The white streak in the foreground is a lava flow. The red areas in the foreground are areas where lava recently entered the lake. The caldera rim at the summit of Ambae is visible in the background. Photo taken on 1 October 2017. Courtesy of VMGB, posted on Facebook, 2 October 2017.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Closeup view of a lava flow from the cone entering into Lake Voui at Ambae on 1 October 2017. Courtesy of VMGB, posted on Facebook 2 October 2017.

On 6 October 2017, the VMBG noted that there was no evidence of the eruption escalating; the Alert Level was lowered to 3 and residents and tourists were reminded to stay outside of the Red Zone, defined as a 3 km radius around the active cone. The Wellington VAAC reported ash emissions on 9 October visible in satellite imagery spreading N of the island as high as 3.7 km altitude. They reported low-level (2.4-4.6 km) ash plumes daily through 15 October. A short-lived eruption on 13 October produced an ash plume clearly visible in satellite imagery that rose to 9.1 km altitude.

Webcam observations and seismic analysis reported on 13 October by VMGD indicated ongoing minor explosive activity and ash emission from vents on the cone in Lake Voui over the previous several days (figure 49). Lava had apparently ceased flowing to the lake. The local population from Ambae and neighboring islands could still hear some of the explosions, see volcanic ash and gas plumes, and see incandescence at night. Multiple MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 15 and 16 October, and again during 19-23 October. Wellington VAAC reports during 22-23 October indicated intermittent low-level ash plumes at 2.4-3.7 km altitude moving E.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. An ash plume rises over Ambae island on 12 October 2017 in this photo taken from Santo - Pekoa Airport 65 km W on Espiritu Santo Island. Photo by Steve Clegg, courtesy of VMGD (posted on their Facebook page).

A new surge of activity created multiple MODVOLC thermal alerts between 27 October and 1 November 2017. The Wellington VAAC reported an ash plume on 29 October at 6.1 km altitude drifting SE. The activity ceased, and the plume dissipated by the end of the day. VMGD reported on 31 October that seismic activity was ongoing, and explosions could be seen in webcam photos; incandescence and explosions were also heard and seen from neighboring islands at night.

Webcam photos from 5 and 6 November showed that ash emissions and incandescent explosions continued (figures 50 and 51). The Wellington VAAC reported an ash emission rising to 4.3 km altitude and drifting W on 5 November. By the next day the altitude of the ash plume had dropped to 2.1 km. This was followed late on 6 November by an ash emission reported at 3.9 km altitude extending 25 km W and SW of the volcano, which continued through the next day. Another emission on 8 November drifted W at 3 km altitude for several hours before dissipating. Fourteen MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 5 November, and two more the next day. A final alert on 9 November was the last for 2017.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Webcam images of Ambae indicate that ash emissions and incandescent explosions were continuing on 5 November 2017. Image taken from the Saratamata webcam located 22 km NE on the NE tip of Ambae Island. Courtesy of VMGD, posted on Facebook 5 November 2017.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Steam and ash emissions were visible from the Saratamata webcam (22 km NE) in the early morning of 6 November 2017. Courtesy of VMGD, posted on Facebook 5 November 2017 (UTC).

VGO reported on 8 November 2017 that the eruption had been continuing, and photos taken during the first week of the month confirmed that the pyroclastic cone in Lake Voui continued to grow in height and size, with frequent explosions and ash plumes. The Wellington VAAC reported a ground observation of an ongoing minor eruption on 21 November that produced an ash plume that rose to 1.8 km altitude. By the following day, the plume appeared to be mostly steam. A new eruption the next day (23 November) produced a plume estimated at 3.7 km altitude moving W. An ash emission later that day was estimated at 3 km altitude drifting N based on satellite imagery. It had dissipated by the following day, and there were no further VAAC reports issued during 2017.

By 7 December 2017, activity had decreased significantly, and emissions consisted of only steam and gas plumes; VMGD lowered the Alert Level from 3 to 2, and reduced the restricted area to within 2 km of the active vent in Lake Voui, noting that the eruption had ceased. The MIROVA plot of Log Radiative Power at Ambae (Aoba) correlates well with visual and thermal observations of activity between 23 September and early November 2017 (figure 52). Significant quantities of SO2 were released at Ambae during October-December 2017 (figure 53). SO2 emissions continued into December after the ash emissions ceased.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. The MIROVA plot of Log Radiative Power at Ambae (Aoba) for the year ending on 29 December 2017 correlates well with visual and thermal observations of activity between 23 September and early November 2017. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Significant quantities of SO2 were released from Ambae during October-December 2017. Variable wind directions seem to create complex patterns of SO2 plumes. Emissions on 23 and 28 October (top), 8, 13, and 17 November (middle row and bottom left) all show plumes that appear to be mostly sourced from Ambae, but some component of source from Ambrym is also likely. By 31 December 2017 (bottom right) SO2 emissions at Ambae were still significant even though no ash emissions had been reported for over a month. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department, Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd (MetService), PO Box 722, Wellington, New Zealand (URL: http://www.metservice.com/vaac/, http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/OTH/NZ/messages.html); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); New Zealand Defence Force (URL: http://www.nzdf.mil.nz/); BBC News (URL: http://www.bbc.com/news); ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/); Batik Bong Shem, Facebook (URL: https://www.facebook.com/batick.shem); Yumi Toktok Stret News, Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/ytsnews.today/); Geoff Reid NZ, Facebook (URL: https://www.facebook.com/GeoffReidNZ/).


Ambrym (Vanuatu) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambrym

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Elevated seismicity in early August 2017-early November 2017, lava lakes remain

Occasional weak eruptions and low-level ash emissions are typical of activity at Ambrym. The most recent ash emission was on 3 April 2017 (BGVN 42:05). The current report summarizes activity from late April through December 2017.

On 30 August 2017, the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) reported that "drastic changes" at Ambrym prompted an increase in the Alert Level from 2 to 3 (on a scale of 0-5). Areas deemed hazardous were near and around the active vents (Benbow, Maben-Mbwelesu, Niri-Mbwelesu and Mbwelesu), and in downwind areas prone to ashfall. According to a news report (Radio New Zealand), a representative of VMGD indicated that the Alert Level change was based on increased seismicity detected since the beginning of August, but which became more notable on 25 August.

According to VMGD, aerial observations on 24 and 30 September, and 1 and 6 October, combined with analysis of seismic data, confirmed that minor eruptive activity within the caldera was characterized by hot volcanic gas and steam emissions. Areas deemed hazardous were within a 2-km radius from Benbow Crater and a 3-km radius from Marum Crater.

A news report (The Vanuatu Independent) quoted an official from VMGD as stating that on 8 November 2017 at 0500, the Niri-Mbwelesu eruptive vent emitted a minor ash plume. On 7 December 2017, VGO lowered the Alert Level to 2, noting that activity had stabilized by the end of November and was characterized by gas-and-steam emissions. Seismicity had also declined. The report reminded the public to stay outside of the Permanent Danger Zone, defined as a 1-km radius from Benbow Crater and a 2.7-km radius from Marum Crater.

During the reporting period, thermal anomalies based on MODIS satellite instruments and analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm, continued to be numerous every month, possibly reflecting lava lakes in Benbow and Marum craters. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system also detected numerous hotspots every month within 5 km of the volcano.

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

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department, Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); Radio New Zealand (URL: https://www.radionz.co.nz); The Vanuatu Independent (URL: https://vanuatuindependent.com/); 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/); Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity (MIROVA), Mirova (collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence, Italy)(URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it).


Fernandina (Ecuador) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Fernandina

Ecuador

0.37°S, 91.55°W; summit elev. 1476 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Brief fissure eruption sends lava flow down the SW flank in early September 2017

Eruptions at Fernandina Island in the Galapagos often occur from vents located around the caldera rim along boundary faults and fissures, and occasionally from side vents on the flank. The last eruption in 2009 generated fountaining basaltic lava along several fissure vents. Lava flowed down the SW flank and entered the sea for a few weeks during April 2009. A new eruption began on 4 September 2017 after eight years of no surface activity, and lasted for about one week. Information about this new eruption was provided by Ecuador's Institudo Geofisica, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), the Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos (DPNG), the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and several sources of satellite data.

A brief fissure vent eruption began on 4 September 2017 at Fernandina, located at the SW rim of the caldera. Small amounts of ash were noted in the plume that rose 2.5 km, but most of the emission was steam and SO2. Vegetation fires were ignited on the SW flank, but lava did not reach the ocean. There was no sign of volcanic activity within the summit crater. A significant area with thermal anomalies was seen in infrared satellite data through 7 September.

Eruption of early September 2017. After eight years of little activity, Fernandina (La Cumbre) began a new eruptive phase on 4 September 2017, at approximately 1225 (Galápagos time) (figure 22). Inflation between March 2015 and September 2017 was 17 cm centered on the caldera; 5 cm of that inflation occurred in the last two months before the eruption (figure 23).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Fernandina began a new eruption on 4 September 2017. The initial plume was mostly steam, but contained significant SO2 and possibly minor ash. Photo by DPNG personnel, courtesy of IG-EPN (INFORME ESPECIAL VOLCÁN FERNANDINA N°1 – 2017, Lunes, 04 Septiembre 2017 16:49).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Interferogram image of Fernandina between 19 March 2015 and 4 September 2017 shows about 17 cm of inflation in the caldera. Each concentric band of colors within the caldera represents several centimeters of inflation. Created by Yu Zhou and Mike Stock, courtesy of IG-EPN (INFORME ESPECIAL DEL VOLCÁN FERNANDINA N°2 – 2017, Miércoles, 06 Septiembre 2017 17:16).

Seismic activity began with hybrid-type earthquakes (fractures with fluid movements) followed by Long Period (LP) earthquakes (fluid movements). The seismic network of the Geophysical Institute installed in the Galapagos began to detect activity at the volcano around 0955 on 4 September 2017. The beginning of the eruption was associated with a volcanic tremor that began at 1225. At 1428, an eruptive column was visible in satellite imagery, interpreted at an approximate height of 4,000 m above the crater, drifting WNW (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. This false-color satellite image of Fernandina on 4 September 2017 showed the eruption column drifting NW estimated at 4,000 m altitude. Source: http://goes.higp.hawaii.edu/cgi-bin/imageview?sitename=galapagos. Courtesy of IG-EPN (INFORME ESPECIAL VOLCÁN FERNANDINA N°1 – 2017, Lunes, 04 Septiembre 2017 16:49).

The Washington VAAC reported that satellite imagery indicated a lava eruption which produced a plume of steam and gas that rose to 2,400 m above sea level and extended about 60 km W of the summit. While initially no ash was reported in the plume, a few hours later a new VAAC report suggested that minor ash was possibly present, although it was most likely primarily SO2. Satellite data reported by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center showed SO2 emissions on 4-6 and 8 September (figure 25).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. SO2 emissions from Fernandina were identified with the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite and the OMPS instrument on Japan's Suomi satellite during 4-8 September 2017. Upper left: A small SO2 emission emerges very close in time to the first reported observation of the eruption on 4 September. Upper right: The low-resolution OMPS image clearly shows a large plume drifting W about 24 hours later. Lower left and right: SO2 is present NW of the Galapagos over the eastern Pacific on 6 and 8 September. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Thermal alerts indicative of fresh lava flows from the rim of the summit crater were first reported by MODVOLC on 4 September 2017 (UTC), and abundant through 7 September (figure 26). No thermal anomalies were recorded in MODVOLC data on 8 September. An additional group of alert pixels was recorded on 9 September, but it's not clear if they were caused by fresh lava flows or burning fires; a few more intermittent pixels were recorded through 20 September. The MIROVA system also captured a significant spike in heatflow at Fernandina during the same period (figure 27). Some of the anomalies measured by both systems were likely the result of the fires caused by the lava flows as well as the flows themselves.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Map showing the location of new lava flows at Fernandina during 4-7 September 2017 using MODVOLC thermal alerts. Fires may have caused some of the alert pixels. Courtesy of HIGP MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. MIROVA thermal anomalies show a spike in activity at Fernandina during the period of the September 2017 eruption in this graph of log radiative power for the year ending on 16 October 2017. The initial spike that was located more than 5 km from the summit confirms the lava flows were located on the crater rim and flank and not in the summit crater. Some anomalies may also be due to the fires caused by the lava flows. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Incandescence was first observed during the night of 4 September (figure 28). Lava flows apparently originated from a circumferential fissure near the fissure of the 2005 eruption on the SSW rim of the caldera. The lava flowed down the S and SW flanks but did not reach the sea. Active lava flows were observed during the night of 5 September (figure 29). The intensity of the eruption decreased significantly after about 48 hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Incandescence at Fernandina on 4 September 2017. Photo by Alex Medina, courtesy of IG-EPN (INFORME ESPECIAL DEL VOLCÁN FERNANDINA N°2 – 2017, Miércoles, 06 Septiembre 2017 17:16).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. A lava flow is visible on the SW flank of Fernandina on 5 September 2017. Photo by Alex Medina, courtesy of IG-EPN (INFORME ESPECIAL DEL VOLCÁN FERNANDINA N°2 – 2017, Miércoles, 06 Septiembre 2017 17:16).

A technical team from the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park (DPNG) made an aerial inspection using the seaplane Sea Wolf on 7 September 2017. They observed a radial fissure in the same area where the 2005 eruption occurred, and several lava flows. No recent volcanic activity or any landslides were seen inside the caldera. The lava flows had ceased movement, but there were isolated fires burning patches of vegetation surrounded by older lava flows (figures 30 and 31). The lava had traveled from the summit crater at about 1,200 m down to 500 m elevation. While lava was not observed flowing into the sea, coastal monitoring by the park rangers showed water vapor on the SW coast, so it was possible that lava had reached the ocean through subsurface lava tubes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Lava flows burn vegetation on Fernandina during the eruption of September 2017. Observers on a 7 September 2017 flyover by DPNG reported that the active flows had ceased, but vegetation was burning at four different sites. Courtesy of Directorate of the Galapagos National Park (DPNG) (11/09/2017– Sobrevuelo al volcán La Cumbre, en Galápagos).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Vegetation on Fernandina burns on 7 September 2017 after lava flows erupted beginning on 4 September 2017. There was no evidence of flowing lava during the overflight. Courtesy of the Galapagos Conservancy.

Geologic Background. Fernandina, the most active of Galápagos volcanoes and the one closest to the Galápagos mantle plume, is a basaltic shield volcano with a deep 5 x 6.5 km summit caldera. The volcano displays the classic "overturned soup bowl" profile of Galápagos shield volcanoes. Its caldera is elongated in a NW-SE direction and formed during several episodes of collapse. Circumferential fissures surround the caldera and were instrumental in growth of the volcano. Reporting has been poor in this uninhabited western end of the archipelago, and even a 1981 eruption was not witnessed at the time. In 1968 the caldera floor dropped 350 m following a major explosive eruption. Subsequent eruptions, mostly from vents located on or near the caldera boundary faults, have produced lava flows inside the caldera as well as those in 1995 that reached the coast from a SW-flank vent. Collapse of a nearly 1 km3 section of the east caldera wall during an eruption in 1988 produced a debris-avalanche deposit that covered much of the caldera floor and absorbed the caldera lake.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec ); Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos (DPNG), Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador (URL: http://www.galapagos.gob.ec/); 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/); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/index.html ); Galapagos Conservancy, (URL:https://www.galapagos.org).


Fuego (Guatemala) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Fuego

Guatemala

14.473°N, 90.88°W; summit elev. 3763 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seven eruptive episodes during July-December 2017

Guatemala's Volcán de Fuego was continuously active throughout 2017, and has been erupting vigorously since 2002; historical observations of eruptions date back to 1531. These eruptions have resulted in major ashfalls, pyroclastic flows, lava flows, and damaging lahars. Reports of activity are provided by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH), and aviation alerts of ash plumes are issued by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). Satellite data from NASA, NOAA, and other sources provide valuable information about heat flow and gas emissions.

Activity remained high at Fuego throughout July-December 2017. Background levels of activity included frequent explosions (4-6 per hour) with incandescent material rising 150 m above the summit and sending blocks 200 m down the flanks. Block avalanches commonly traveled down the major ravines for hundreds of meters. Ash plumes regularly rose 500-1,000 m above the summit (4.3-4.8 km altitude); ashfall affected communities SW of the summit within 15 km every week. During the multiple short-lived (48-hour or less) eruptive episodes, the hourly explosion rates increased significantly (6-12 per hour), and incandescent material often rose 300 m above the summit; one or more lava flows would also travel more than a kilometer down major ravines. Higher ash plumes (often rising to 5-6 km altitude) during the eruptive episodes sent ash plumes drifting hundreds of kilometers in various directions causing ashfall in cities tens of kilometers away in various directions. Pyroclastic flows often accompanied the eruptive episodes. Seven episodes were reported by INSIVUMEH during July-December 2017 (table 17); they are clearly discernible as periods of higher heat flow in the MIROVA thermal anomaly data (figure 73) as well.

Table 17. Eruptive episodes at Fuego during July-December 2017. Information provided primarily by INSIVUMEH. Some ash plume information is from the Washington VAAC.

Dates Episode Ash plume height Ash plume drift Ashfall areas Lava flow distances Lava flow drainages Pyroclastic flows
11-12 Jul 2017 6 5.1 km 35 km W 10-20 km WSW 2.3 km, 1.7 km Las Lajas, Santa Teresa --
07-08 Aug 2017 7 -- 20 km W 10-20 km W 1.5 km, 700 m Ceniza, Santa Teresa -- 
19-21 Aug 2017 8 6.1 km 75 km W, SW, WNW 20 km WSW 1.4 km, 1.2 km Ceniza, Santa Teresa (Seca) Santa Teresa
12-13 Sep 2017 9 4.6 km 65 km N 10-20 km WSW 1.3 km Seca (Santa Teresa) Seca (Santa Teresa)
27-28 Sep 2017 10 4.7 km 25 km W More than 30 km N, E 800 m, 500 m Seca, Las Lajas --
05-07 Nov 2017 11 4.8 km 25 km W, SW 8-12 km SW 1.2 km, 800 m Seca, Ceniza --
10-11 Dec 2017 12 5.0 km 20 km S, SW 20 km S, SW 1.5 km Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza --
Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. MIROVA thermal anomaly data for Fuego for 2017 shows the continuing activity that included intermittent pulses of high-heat-flow from twelve defined eruptive episodes shown by red arrows. Courtesy of MIROVA. Eruptive episodes defined by INSIVUMEH.

Activity during July 2017. Activity increased at Fuego during July 2017, compared with the previous month. INSIVUMEH reported that explosions per hour increased during 6-7 July from 4-7 to 7-10; a lava flow also traveled 1.5 km down Las Lajas ravine. Incandescent material was ejected 100-200 m above the crater rim and caused avalanches of material that traveled down the Ceniza (SSW), Taniluyá (SW), Santa Teresa (SW), and Trinidad (S) drainages (figure 74). Ash plumes during 7-9 July caused ashfall in Santa Sofía (12 km SW), Morelia (9 km SW), Panimaché I and II (8 km SW), El Porvenir (8 km ENE), Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW), and possibly San Pedro Yepocapa (8 km N).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Incandescent material was ejected over a hundred meters above the summit of Fuego and blocks of material traveled hundreds of meters down the flank on 9 July 2017. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH and OVFGO (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 08 al 14de julio 2017).

The Washington VAAC reported dense ash emissions seen in satellite data on 10 July extending WNW 60 km from the summit at 4.6 km altitude. They noted that ashfall was reported 10 km SW from the summit the following morning. The 6th eruptive episode of the year occurred on 11-12 July 2017. Explosions generated ash plumes that rose as high as 1.3 km above the crater and drifted 35 km W, and shock waves rattled nearby structures. Ash fell in areas to the SW. Two lava flows were fed by lava fountains 150-250 m high; one flow traveled 2.3 km down the Las Lajas drainage and another traveled 1.7 km down the Santa Teresa (SW) drainage. The increased activity levels lasted for about 31 hours, with tens of explosions. Weak-to-moderate explosions continued afterwards, generating ash plumes that rose 850 m and drifted 6 km W.

Multiple explosions continued generating ash plumes and block avalanches during 13-14 July. On 16 July, a 30-m-wide, 2-m-deep, hot lahar descended tributaries of the Pantaleón (W) drainage, carrying blocks more than 2 m in diameter, branches, and tree trunks. The lahars again overtook the road between communities on the SW flank, isolating the village of Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW) and the Palo Verde estate. The Washington VAAC estimated that the ash plumes released early on 16 July rose to 5.2 km altitude, and drifted SE from the summit. By afternoon they had risen to 5.8 km and were drifting SW, extending about 75 km. Explosions during 17-18 July produced dense ash plumes that drifted 15 km W and NW causing ashfall in Panimache, Morelia, and Santa Sofía. Satellite imagery on 19 July showed an ash plume extending 65 km WNW of the summit in a narrow band at 4.3 km altitude. Similar plumes were reported daily between 19-23 July at 4.3-4.9 km altitude drifting generally W up to about 50 km before dissipating (figure 75).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Ash emissions were reported almost daily from Fuego during July 2017. A small pulse of ash on 20 July was captured on the Panimaché I webcam (10 km SW) in this view looking NE in the early morning. Courtesy of OVFGO-INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 15 al 21 de julio 2017).

Activity during August 2017. MODVOLC thermal alerts that were issued on 28 and 30 July confirmed the continuing incandescent summit activity which produced block avalanches down the major drainages. Multiple daily alerts were also issued during 15 days of August. Coordinadora Nacional Para la Reduccion de Desastres (CONRED) reported increased activity on 4 August that included 300-m-high ejections of incandescent material and a lava flow that traveled 600 m down the Ceniza ravine. During 7-8 August two lava fountains rose 150 m high, prompting INSIVUMEH to announce the seventh effusive episode at Fuego in 2017. The fountains fed lava flows, 1.5 km and 700 m long, in the Ceniza and the Santa Teresa ravines (figure 76). Explosions (occurring at a rate of 6-8 per hour) produced ash plumes that drifted 20 km W, causing ashfall in Panimache, Morelia, Santa Sofía, El Porvenir, and Yepocapa. The Washington VAAC also noted increasing ash emissions on 7 August. Weather clouds prevented observations from satellite images on 7 and 8 August, but the VAAC reported a "" strong hotspot in infrared imagery on 8 August. Although the lava flow in the Ceniza drainage remained active, explosive activity decreased to an average of three explosions per hour the following week, with ash emissions rising to 4.4-4.6 km and drifting 10 or more km W and SW, bringing ashfall to communities on the W and SW flank.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. A lava flow at Fuego during eruptive episode 7 descends the SE flank on 7 August 2017. Courtesy of OVFGO-INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo:, Volcán Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 5 al 11 de agosto 2017).

Activity intensified again during 19-20 August, when constant explosions generated ash plumes that rose 2.3 km above the crater and drifted more than 50 km W and SW. INSIVUMEH reported that the eighth effusive episode at Fuego in 2017 began on 20 August and lasted for about 48 hours. Two lava fountains, each 300 m high, fed lava flows that traveled 1.4 km SSW down the Ceniza ravine and 1.2 km W down the Seca (Santa Teresa) ravine (figure 77). Incandescent block avalanches occurred throughout the crater. Pyroclastic flows (figure 78) were concentrated in the Santa Teresa ravine, possibly filling the drainage with deposits (similar to activity from 5 May) and increasing the chances for lahars. A bright hotspot was visible in satellite imagery from 19-21 August. Seismicity remained elevated through 21 August. During 21 August, the Washington VAAC reported the ash plume near 5.5 km altitude extending 75 km WNW. A remnant cloud of ash was detected in satellite imagery over 200 km WNW of the summit in extreme SE Mexico late on 21 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Incandescent explosions and block avalanches descend the SE flank of Fuego during eruptive episode 8, 19-21 August 2017 in this view from the Panimaché I webcam. Courtesy of OVGFO-INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán de Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 19 al 25 de agosto 2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. A pyroclastic flow descends the Santa Teresa ravine at Fuego during eruptive episode 8 on 21 August 2017 in this view from the Panimaché I webcam. Courtesy of OVGFO-INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán de Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 19 al 25 de agosto 2017).

INSIVUMEH reported that on 25 August multiple lahars descended the Pantaleón, Cenizas, El Jute, and Las Lajas drainages on Fuego's W, SSW, and SE flanks. The lahar in the Pantaleón river (fed by the Santa Teresa and El Mineral rivers) was 35 m wide, 2.5-3 m deep, and carried trees and blocks more than 2-3 m in diameter. The Cenizas lahar was about 25 m wide, 3 m deep, and carried blocks up to 2 m in diameter. The lahars in El Jute and Las Lajas drainages were 20 m wide, 1.5 m deep, and carried tree debris and blocks up to 2 m in diameter.

Explosions during 26-29 August generated ash plumes that rose as high as 950 m above the crater and drifted 7-12 km SW, W, and NW. The Washington VAAC reported near continuous emissions of ash on 28 August moving WSW and extending about 100 km at 4.6 km altitude, rising to 5.8 km altitude the following day. Incandescent material was ejected 100-200 m above the crater rim and caused avalanches of material around the crater area. Explosions were audible within a 20-km radius, and shock waves vibrated local structures. Ash fell in areas downwind including Panimache I and II, Morelia, Finca Palo verde, Sangre de Cristo, and El Porvenir. On 29 August, lahars 10 m wide and 1.5 m deep again descended the Santa Teresa and El Mineral drainages, carrying tree debris and blocks up to 2 m in diameter.

Activity during September 2017. Lahars were reported in the Santa Teresa and El Mineral drainages intermittently during September. Ash emissions continued to cause ashfall in communities within 10 km W and SW throughout the month. Continuous ejection of incandescent blocks rose 200-300 m above the crater and sent material 300 m down the flanks. The Washington VAAC reported a continuous plume of ash detected in satellite imagery and in the webcam extending about 95 km WSW on 8 September at 4.6 km altitude. INISVUMEH reported that the increase in activity during 8 September fed a lava flow that traveled 800 m down Barranca Seca.

The ninth eruptive episode of 2017 began late on 12 September and lasted about 35 hours (figure 79). Pyroclastic flows descended the Seca (Santa Teresa) ravine on the W flank, along with a lava flow that traveled 1.3 km during the episode. Ashfall was reported in Morelia, Palo Verde Estate, Sangre de Cristo, El Porvenir, Santa Sofía, and Panimaché I and II. The Washington VAAC reported that an ash plume extended about 65 km N from the summit on 13 September at 4.6 km altitude. After several days of weather clouds obscuring the satellite images, they reported a plume drifting W on 17 September extending 95 km from the summit. A hotspot intermittently appeared during 13-17 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Incandescent lava rises 200-300 m above the summit of Fuego, and a lava flow traveled down the Santa Theresa ravine on the W flank during eruptive episode 9 on 12 September 2017. View from Panimaché I webcam. Courtesy of OVFGO-INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán de Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 09 al 15 de septiembre 2017.

The Washington VAAC reported weak puffs of ash drifting N and quickly dissipating on 25 September, and another ash plume extending 15 km W on 28 September at 4.6 km. Hotspots were also observed both days in satellite images. INSIVUMEH reported eruptive episode 10 during 27-28 September, lasting about 40 hours. The ash plume generated during the episode drifted in multiple directions simultaneously (figure 80) and resulted in ashfall more than 30 km from the crater, primarily N and NE, in La Soledad (7 km N), Pastores (20 km NNE), San Miguel Dueñas (10 km NE) and Antigua Guatemala (20 km NE). The incandescent material reached 300 meters above the crater and fed two lava flows, the first went 300 m down the Seca Canyon, and the second traveled 500 m down Las Lajas Canyon.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. The ash plumes drift in multiple directions (W, NW, SW and S) from the summit of Fuego on 28 September 2017 during eruptive episode 10. Image taken in San Pedro Yepocapa, 8 km NW. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán de Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 23 al 29 de septiembre 2017).

Seven lahars were recorded during September in the main ravines of Fuego, on days 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 27, and 29, as a result of the unusually large amount of rainfall during the month (1,059 mm) (figure 81). The larger ones at the beginning of the month contained blocks up to 3 m in diameter, and many were warm enough to generate steam with strong odors of SO2. Several roads were damaged.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. High rainfall (1,059 mm) during September 2017 generated large lahars in the Seca, Mineral, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lahas, El Jute, and Honda ravines at Fuego, shown in purple. Many dirt roads (shown in red) were damaged. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (VOLCÁN DE FUEGO, INFORME MENSUAL, Septiembre 2017).

Activity during October 2017. Overall activity was quieter during October 2017. Background levels of activity included incandescent material rising up to 250 m above the summit and falling a similar distance down the flanks, and ash plumes rising to 4.4-5.0 km altitude and drifting more than 25 km W, NW, and E. Eight to twelve explosions per hour were not uncommon, although 4-6 per hour were more typical. A few of the block avalanches traveled 2 km down the flanks. The communities that experienced persistent ashfall were all located 10-20 km SW, and included Morelia, Palo Verde Farm, Sangre de Cristo, El Porvenir, Santa Sofía, and Panimaché I and II. Due to the wind conditions and increased activity during the first week of October, ashfall was also reported farther away in Guatemala City (40 km NE), Antigua Guatemala, Villa Nueva (30 km ENE) and San Miguel Petapa (35 km ENE). INSIVUMEH reported three increases in explosive activity during the month on 2, 3, and 5 October, but they did not develop into eruptive episodes.

Four lahars were reported on 1, 2, and 4 October in the Seca and Mineral drainages. They carried blocks of volcanic rocks and debris as large as 3 m in diameter and were 6-12 m wide and 1-2 m deep. The Washington VAAC reported a series of explosions on 4 October, after which ash emissions were seen in multispectral imagery at 5.2 km altitude drifting SW that reached as far as 75 km. They reported occasional puffs of ash on 15 October extending up to 95 km W of the summit. By 17 October, imagery showed continuous emissions with an ash plume extending 95 km SSW from the summit before dissipating. A possible ash plume was reported by the Washington VAAC on 31 October extending 45 km W from the summit at 4.3 km altitude.

Activity during November 2017. There were numerous periods of intermittent ash emissions during November. Continuous emissions often drifted 65-100 km or more SW or W at altitudes around 4.6-5.2 km during periods of activity. INSIVUMEH reported that during 2-3 November tremor at Fuego increased. Explosions during the first week averaged 5-8 per hour and ash plumes rose as high as 1.3 km above the crater. Incandescent material was ejected 300 m above the crater, causing avalanches that were confined to the crater. The 11th eruptive episode in 2017 began on 5 November and lasted for two days. Lava flowed 1-1.2 km W down the Seca drainage and 800 m SSW down the Ceniza drainage. Avalanches of material from the ends of the lava flows descended the flanks and reached vegetated areas.

Ashfall was reported in areas downwind in the communities 8-12 km SW including Morelia, Santa Sofia, Palo Verde Farm, and Panimaché I and II throughout the month. Shockwaves from explosions often rattled windows and roofs around the volcano. Avalanche blocks were reported in the Cenizas, Trinidad, Taniluyá and Seca canyons. Multiple VAAC reports were issued on 25 days of November, and multiple daily MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 20 days of the month. On 10 November the emissions extended about 275 km WSW from the summit. A lahar during the third week descended the Seca and el Mineral drainages.

Activity during December 2017. Explosions averaged 4-8 per hour during most of December sending incandescent material 200-250 m above the crater. INSIVUMEH reported that the 12th eruptive episode at Fuego in 2017 began on 10 December and, based on seismicity, lasted for about 36 hours. Ash plumes from moderate-to-strong explosions rose as high as 1.2 km above the crater rim and drifted 20 km S and SW. Lava flowed as far as 1.5 km W down the Seca (Santa Teresa), SW down the Taniluyá, and SSW down the Ceniza ravines. Ash fell many times in the communities of La Rochela, San Andrés Osuna, Morelia, and Panimaché I and II. On 12 December there was an average of 10 explosions per hour, generating avalanches in the Ceniza and Taniluyá drainages and ashfall in nearby areas. Ashfall was also reported in San Miguel Dueñas, Alotenango, and Ciudad Vieja (13.5 km NE) on 14 December.

Multiple MODVOLC thermal alerts appeared on 20 days during December, and the Washington VAAC issued 91 reports of continuous or intermittent ash plume activity. During eruptive episode 12 on 11 December, they reported an intense hot spot seen at the crater in satellite imagery despite meteoric cloud cover. For most of the second half of December, either continuous or intermittent ash emissions drifted 100-150 km WNW from the summit before dissipating. The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission on 20 December drifting WNW at 5.8 km altitude that extended over 300 km from the summit. A remnant of the plume was observed almost 450 km away late on 20 December before dissipating. Plumes were repeatedly observed over 200 km from the summit during 20-25 December.

Geologic Background. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3763-m-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the north, Acatenango. Construction of Meseta dates back to about 230,000 years and continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Collapse of Meseta may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km onto the Pacific coastal plain. Growth of the modern Fuego volcano followed, continuing the southward migration of volcanism that began at Acatenango. In contrast to the mostly andesitic Acatenango, eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.

Information Contacts: Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), Av. Hincapié 21-72, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://conred.gob.gt/www/index.php ); 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/ ); 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/).


Sheveluch (Russia) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Sheveluch

Russia

56.653°N, 161.36°E; summit elev. 3283 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lava dome growth continue through January 2018

An eruption at Sheveluch has been ongoing since 1999, and volcanic activity was previously described through August 2017 (BGVN 42:08). Ongoing activity consists of pyroclastic flows, explosions, and lava dome growth with a viscous lava flow in the N. Strong fumarole activity, ash explosions, hot avalanches and incandescence from the dome accompany this process. Explosions and ash flows were reported by Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) during the August 2017 through January 2018 period.

During this report period the Aviation Color Code (ACC) remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale), except for 10 January 2018 when it was briefly elevated to Red (highest level) and lowered back to Orange later the same day. Satellite infrared data also showed increased activity on this day. Ash plume altitudes ranged from a low of 5 km to a high of 11 km on 10 January 2018. The farthest lateral extent of the ash plume was reported at 990 km to the NE on 8 November 2017.

On 4 and 8 August 2017 large ash clouds reached altitudes of 6.5 km and approximately 10 km, respectively. Ashfall was reported in Klyuchi Village (50 km SW) on 8 August and drifted about 180 km E, NW, and NE during 12 and 15-16 August. On 7 September ash plumes rose to 8-10 km altitude and drifted NE, SE, and S; another ash plume was photographed on 8 September (figure 47). On 15-22 September ash plumes rose to 9-10 km altitude and drifted about 400 km NW, E, and SE. Explosions on 10 October generated ash plumes to 10 km altitude and drifted about 250 km N (figure 48). Plumes comprised of re-suspended ash drifted about 350 km SE on 12 October and about 230 km SE on 13 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Photo of an ash cloud from Sheveluch generated by an explosion on 8 September 2017. Photo by G. Teplitsky; courtesy of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology FEB RAS, KVERT.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Explosions from Sheveluch sent ash up to 10 km altitude on 10 October 2017. Photo from a webcam, courtesy of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology FEB RAS, KVERT.

Explosions on 2 and 8 November generated ash plumes that rose to an altitude of 8 km and drifted approximately 990 km NE. Weather prevented observations on the other days from 4-10, 12-17, and 19-24 November. A strong explosive event on 5 December generated ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 10.5 km and 5 km and drifted NE and E, respectively. Explosions on 26 December generated an ash plume that rose to an altitude of 8 km and drifted about 300 km NE.

On 10 January 2018 satellite images captured an ash cloud with a dimension of 192 x 132 km drifting 230 km NE from explosions rising to altitudes of 10-11 km. In response, KVERT raised the ACC to Red. Later that same day, satellite images showed the ash cloud expanded to 350 x 180 km in dimension and had drifted 400 km E; the ACC was lowered back to Orange. The 10 January explosions began at 1035 with resulting ash that drifted about 900 km E during 10-11 January.

Thermal anomalies. As reported by KVERT, satellite imagery continue to detect the existence of a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch. The anomaly was reported on 10-30 days every month from August 2017 through January 2018. Detections of the thermal anomaly were lower in certain months because cloudy conditions obscured satellite imagery. The MIROVA system detected numerous hotspots every month during August 2017-January 2018, most of which were about 5 km or less from the summit with mainly low to a few high power signatures in August, September 2017 and January 2018. Thermal anomalies based on MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm were detected in 11-12 August 2017 and 10 January 2018 corresponding to the explosive eruptions on those days.

Geologic Background. The high, isolated massif of Sheveluch volcano (also spelled Shiveluch) rises above the lowlands NNE of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group. The 1300 km3 volcano is one of Kamchatka's largest and most active volcanic structures. The summit of roughly 65,000-year-old Stary Shiveluch is truncated by a broad 9-km-wide late-Pleistocene caldera breached to the south. Many lava domes dot its outer flanks. The Molodoy Shiveluch lava dome complex was constructed during the Holocene within the large horseshoe-shaped caldera; Holocene lava dome extrusion also took place on the flanks of Stary Shiveluch. At least 60 large eruptions have occurred during the Holocene, making it the most vigorous andesitic volcano of the Kuril-Kamchatka arc. Widespread tephra layers from these eruptions have provided valuable time markers for dating volcanic events in Kamchatka. Frequent collapses of dome complexes, most recently in 1964, have produced debris avalanches whose deposits cover much of the floor of the breached caldera.

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far East Division, 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/); 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) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Moderate increase in thermal energy and explosion rate, April-August 2017

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. Eruptive activity at the summit consistently occurs from multiple vents at both a north crater area (N Area) and a southern crater group (S or CS Area) on the Terrazza Craterica at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a large scarp that runs from the summit down the NW side of the island (figures 102 and 103). Thermal and visual cameras placed on the nearby Pizzo Sopra La Fossa monitor activity at the Terrazza Craterica. Eruptive activity continued at low to moderate levels during 2015 and 2016, with intermittent periods of frequent explosions from both crater areas that sent ash, lapilli, and bombs across the Terrazza Craterica and onto the head of the Sciara del Fuoco (BGVN 42:07).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. A view of Stromboli looking SW with the Sciara del Fuoco on the NW flank on the right. Image taken during 10-12 June 2017. Copyrighted photo by Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. A view to the NW of the Terrazza Craterica from the summit of Stromboli shows the CS Area (left) and N Area (right) vents during 10-12 June 2017. Copyrighted photo by Martin Rietze, used with permission.

This report covers activity from January-October 2017. Activity similar to 2016 continued through March 2017 when an increase began in explosion rates. The increase peaked during June and then declined through August, returning to background levels in September (figures 104). Thermal energy increased beginning in early May and lasted through mid-August (figure 105). Multiple MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued for Stromboli between 4 May and 25 August 2017. Weekly reports of activity were provided by the Instituto Nazionale de Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione de Catania, which monitors the gas geochemistry, deformation, and seismology, as well as the surficial activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. Increased rates of explosive activity at Stromboli were recorded between early April and late August 2017, peaking during mid-June. Rates declined to background levels by early September. The green line represents the number of daily explosions from the S Area, the red line is the number of daily explosions from the N Area, and the blue line is the cumulative of the two areas. Graph includes activity from 28 March-30 October 2017. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 44/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 31/10/2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. After a lengthy period of low to intermittent thermal activity during 2015 and 2016, a distinct increase in thermal energy was recorded in satellite thermal imagery and is shown in the MIROVA system data for the year ending on 25 August 2017. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during January 2017 consisted of low to moderate intensity explosions from the southern crater area (S Area), and low intensity explosions at the northern crater area (N Area). Two vents in the S Area generated explosive activity. Modest explosions with ash and lapilli occurred regularly from the southernmost vent, and rare explosions were observed from the northernmost vent (figure 106). At the northern crater area (N Area) the southern vent was active, generating ash and lapilli that was ejected a few tens of meters from the vent. There were no explosions from the northern vent in the N Area.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Typical activity at Stromboli's Terrazza Craterica during January 2017 photographed from visible cameras on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa. Left: Explosions at the S Area on 23 January 2017 included moderate activity at the southern vent (yellow arrow) and low activity at the northern vent (white arrow). Right: The southern vent (green arrow) of the N Area showed moderate explosive activity on 17 January 2017. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 04/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 24/01/2017).

There were no notable changes in activity until the second week of February 2017 when explosive activity returned to the northern vent of the N Area. During the third week of February, a gradual increase in the rate and intensity of the explosions at both areas was observed which lasted throughout the rest of the month (figure 107). Coarse pyroclastic material was ejected onto the Terrazza Craterica and occasionally onto the Sciara del Fuoco. The stronger explosions generated modest plumes of dilute ash that quickly dissipated.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. Explosive activity at Stromboli during the third week of February 2017: A) The colored arrows indicate the active vents in the S and N Areas as seen by the visible camera of the Pizzo. B) Explosion at the northern vent (blue arrow) of the N area (visible camera). C) Explosion at the southern vent (yellow arrow) of the S area (visible camera). D-F) explosions from the N and S Areas taken by the 400 level Thermal camera. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 08/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 21/02/2017).

During the first week of March 2017, the most active vents were the southernmost vent of the S Area and the northernmost vent of the N Area. The strongest explosions from the northern vent of the N Area produced dilute ash emissions and pyroclastic ejecta that landed on the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco. By the third week of March, and through the end of the month, most of the activity had shifted to the vents in the N Area and diminished in the S Area. On 28 March, Etna Observatory personnel restored operations at both the infrared and visible cameras on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa which allowed for more detailed observations of the activity at the summit (figure 108).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. The Terrazza Craterica at Stromboli seen from the thermal camera on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa on 31 March 2017, showing active vents in the two crater areas (AREA N, AREA CS). The abbreviations and arrows indicate the names and locations of the active vents. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 14/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del, vulcano Stromboli del 04/04/2017).

Throughout April 2017, the N1 vent produced low (less than 80 m high) to medium (80-150 m) intensity explosions containing ash, lapilli, and bombs. The N2 vent showed sporadic low intensity explosive activity with occasional ash emissions until 20 April when more coarse (lapilli and bombs) material was ejected. Vent C showed continuous degassing throughout the month, and low intensity explosions began there during the third week of April, causing intense spattering on 29 April. The S1 vent showed sporadic and weak explosive activity of low intensity with the ejection of coarse material until the third week when activity ceased. Vent S2 showed explosive activity of medium-low intensity (less than 120 m high) of coarse material sometimes mixed with ash. Explosion rates were around 2-10 events per hour during the first half of the month, rising to 10-15 per hour for the second half of April.

In the N Area, the N1 and N2 vents continued with a similar level of activity throughout May 2017 (figure 109). Explosions of low to medium intensity sent coarse ejecta of lapilli and bombs up to 150 m high at N1 and 120 m high at N2. The rate of explosions in the N Area ranged from 4-12 per hour.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. The Terrazza Craterica at Stromboli seen from the thermal camera located on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa on 18 May 2017, showing active vents in the two crater areas (AREA N, AREA CS). The abbreviations and arrows indicate the names and locations of the active vents. The vents in the N Area exhibited similar levels of activity throughout the month. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 21/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 23/05/2017).

In the S Area, activity was more variable during May, and the rate of explosions ranged from 2-10 per hour. Vent C also continued with intense degassing and low-intensity explosions and spattering. On 13 May, two emission points were observed at vent C, one a few meters S of the other. Vent S1 showed no activity until late in the second week of May when low to moderate intensity explosions rose up to 150 m with coarse ejecta. During 14-15 May, a second vent opened a few meters north of S1, and simultaneous explosions from both S1 vents sent jets of gas and incandescent material into the air. Activity decreased to low intensity explosions (less than 80 m high) with ejecta during the third week, but then increased significantly during the last week of the month. Ejecta reached 200 m high from the S1 vents (figure 110). The southern S1 vent built a surrounding hornito and produced high and narrow jets of incandescent material, while the northern emission point produced more modest jets of gas and material. Vent S2 was quiet for most of May, producing only low-intensity explosions of coarse material sometimes mixed with ash for a few days near the beginning of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. The Terrazza Craterica at Stromboli seen from the thermal camera on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa on 29 May 2017, showing active vents in the two crater areas (AREA N, AREA CS). The abbreviations and arrows indicate the names and locations of the active vents. The S1 vent in the CS Area produced high intensity jets of incandescent material that rose 200 m during the last week of the month. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 22/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 30/05/2017).

An increase in activity during June 2017 was apparent at both the N and S Areas (figure 111). Video taken by drone and from the summit during 10-12 June shows periodic explosions with ash, lapilli, and bombs ejected around the Terrazza Craterica (See Information Contacts for link). Vent N1 was characterized by low to medium-high intensity explosive activity that ejected lapilli and bombs to 200 m and was sometimes accompanied by ash that drifted S over the island. N2 also showed variable activity which ranged from low to high intensity (ejecta rising over 200 m high) during the first week, and low to medium-high (ejecta rose to 150 m) for the rest of the month (figure 112). Numerous bombs and lapilli were deposited both inside and outside the crater rim. Intense spattering was reported at N2 on 11, 12, 18, 19, and 26 June. The explosion rate in the N Area was 9-18 per hour.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. Thermal activity increased during June 2017 at Stromboli. Simultaneous explosions from both the S (left) and N (right) Areas during 10-12 June 2017 were photographed from the summit. Copyrighted photo by Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. Increased thermal activity was apparent in the N Area of the Terrazza Craterica at Stromboli as seen from the thermal camera located on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa on 5 June 2017. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 23/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 06/06/2017).

In the CS Area, sporadic low-intensity explosions (less than 80 m high) characterized vent C, with modest spattering reported on 11, 12, 13, 26, 30 June 2017. Activity at S1 continued from two vents simultaneously with low to medium intensity explosive activity (figure 113 and 114). The vent at S2 reactivated briefly on 3 June after about a month of quiet with weak spattering activity but was not active again during the month. The CS Area was characterized by an explosion frequency of 1-10 per hour.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 113. Explosions of incandescent ejecta from the CS Area at Stromboli during 10-12 June 2017. Copyrighted photo by Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 114. Increased activity at the CS Area of Stromboli on 26 June 2017 was recorded by the thermal camera located on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa. Activity at S1 continued from two vents simultaneously with low to medium intensity explosive activity for most of the month. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 26/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 27/06/2017).

During July 2017, thermal activity at the vents remained moderate to high; explosions at the N1 vent sent lapilli and bombs, sometimes mixed with ash, to 200 m above the vent. At vent N2, lapilli and bombs were ejected outside the crater rim, sometimes rolling down the Sciara del Fuoco to the ocean. The hourly frequency of explosions ranged from 5-18. At S1, both vents exploded simultaneously with lapilli, bombs and occasional ash rising to 150 m numerous times.

Beginning in the afternoon of 26 July, an explosive sequence at the CS Area lasting about 90 seconds was recorded with the thermal and visible image cameras on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa (figure 115). It began with explosions from vents C and S1, followed by a second explosion at S2. More explosions from C and S1 sent debris to the SE and were followed by fountaining to about 50 m from the vents for about a minute. INGV personnel witnessed 10-cm-diameter bombs on the SW side of the Pizzo at about 850 m elevation during a 30 July site visit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 115. The explosive sequence of 26 July 2017 at Stromboli was recorded by the thermal and visible cameras located on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa. Details of the 90-second-long event are described in the text. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 31/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 01/08/2017).

A return to background activity during August consisted of explosions of varying intensity from low (less than 80 m) to medium-low (ejecta sometimes reached 120 m in height) at both the N and CS Area vents. Explosion frequency ranged from 2-11 per hour, decreasing significantly by the end of the month. Activity continued to diminish during September. Periodic spattering from vent C occurred. Only one vent was active in the CS Area during the month. A brief increase in intensity at vent N1 during 8-9 September sent ejecta over 150 m high. By the end of September, few explosions reached over 80 m in height. A brief episode of intense spattering at vent C on 24 September sent bombs and lapilli to 40 m above the vent. Explosion frequency averaged only 2-6 per hour by the end of September.

Continuous spattering, occasionally intense, from vent C continued during October. The vents in the N Area produced low to moderate intensity explosions, and one vent in the CS Area produced low intensity explosions. A strong explosive sequence in the CS Area lasted for about five minutes on 23 October 2017 (figure 116). The first explosion of the sequence came from vent C and lasted 30 seconds. It destroyed the hornito formed around the vent. About a minute later, two explosions occurred at the S1 vent, reaching about 120 m in height and dispersing to the SE. Another explosion at vent C about 3 minutes later sent ejecta 100 m high. The event ended with a series of small ash emissions that rose a few tens of meters. Low intensity activity continued from both areas through the end of October, with low explosion rates of around 2-6 per hour.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 116. An explosive sequence from the CS Area at Stromboli on 23 October 2017 lasted about five minutes. Ejecta from vents C and S1 rose 100-150 m above the vents and dispersed SE. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. 43/2017, Bollettino settimanale sul monitoraggio vulcanico, geochimico, delle deformazioni del suolo e sismico del vulcano Stromboli del 24/10/2017).

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

Information Contacts: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy, (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/en/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); 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/); Martin Rietze, Taubenstr. 1, D-82223 Eichenau, Germany (URL: https://mrietze.com/, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5LzAA_nyNWEUfpcUFOCpJw/videos, http://mrietze.com/web16/Stromb_Vesuv17.htm).


Tinakula (Solomon Islands) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Tinakula

Solomon Islands

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Short-lived ash emission and large SO2 plume 21-26 October 2017; historical eruption accounts

Remote Tinakula lies 100 km NE of the Solomon Trench at the N end of the Santa Cruz Islands, part of the country of the Solomon Islands, which generally lie 400 km to the W. It has been uninhabited since an eruption with lava flows and ash explosions in 1971 when the small population was evacuated (CSLP 87-71). The nearest inhabitants live on Te Motu (Trevanion) Island (about 30 km S), Nupani (40 km N), and the Reef Islands (60 km E); they occasionally report explosion noises from Tinakula. Ashfall from larger explosions has historically reached these islands. The last reported evidence of activity came from MODVOLC thermal alerts between August 2010 and October 2012, and observations of incandescent lava blocks rolling into the sea in May 2012. A new eruptive episode with a large ash explosion and substantial SO2 plume during 21-26 October 2017 is reported below, along with newly available historical newspaper accounts of earlier eruptions.

Reports of ash plumes are issued by the Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC); the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) of the Solomon Islands Government also issues situation reports when significant activity is reported. Satellite data from infrared, visual, and SO2 monitoring instruments are an important source of information for this remote volcano. News reports from local (and social) media are often the only sources of information for the smaller events. Recently identified 19th- and 20th-century newspaper accounts of eruptive activity witnessed by sailors passing nearby is a valuable new resource for previously unreported events.

Eruption of 21-26 October 2017. Reports of a substantial explosion with an ash plume from Tinakula appeared on social media and in the local press during 22-26 October 2017. Staff from the Lata Met Service Office approached the island by boat on 23 October to make direct observations (figures 17-19). A video clip from the Himawari8 Satellite showing the ash plume explosion was posted by Stephan Armbruster on Twitter on 22 October. The Solomon Islands NDMO issued a situation report on 26 October showing ashfall covering vegetation on the island. According to the NDMO, ashfall was concentrated on the island, although a small amount of ash drifted SE and was reported to briefly contaminate drinking water in several communities in the nearby Reef Islands (60 km ENE) . Ashfall was also reported on Fenualoa Island (50 km ENE) (Radio New Zealand). The eruption was categorized by NMDO as a VEI 3. A team of geologists from NDMO brought seismic monitoring equipment to Tinakula in early November, and measured a high frequency volcanic tremor on 5 November 2017.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. View from the SE of the eruption at Tinakula on 23 October 2017 during a site visit by staff from the Lata Office of the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service. Photo by Okano Gamara.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Ash and steam emissions rose from Tinakula on 23 October 2017 during a site visit by staff from the Lata Office of the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service. Photo by Okano Gamara.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Ash emission from Tinakula on 23 October 2017 during a site visit by staff from the Lata Office of the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service. Photo by Okano Gamara.

The Wellington VAAC first reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery shortly after midnight (UTC) on 21 October 2017. The plume was estimated to be at 4.6 km altitude and drifting N. About 90 minutes later they reported a second eruption with a much higher plume drifting SE at 10.7 km altitude using IR imagery cloud top temperatures to estimate the altitude. They reported ongoing ash emissions visible in satellite imagery drifting SE at 6.1 km altitude throughout the morning, dropping to 3 km altitude by the end of the day. The following day, 22 October, intermittent ash emissions were reported at 3.7 km altitude moving E. By that afternoon, they had dropped to 2.4 km, and had lowered to 1.8 km by late on 23 October. Ongoing low-level ash emission (2.1 km altitude) continued through 25 October; by early on 26 October, there was no further evidence of ongoing activity.

No MODVOLC thermal alerts were associated with this event, but there was a brief MIROVA signal from the MODIS infrared data during 20-23 October 2017 (figure 20). A major SO2 plume was released from Tinakula on 21 October, and a smaller one was recorded on 28 October as well (figure 21).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Moderate thermal signals were recorded from Tinakula on 20 and 23 October 2017 (top graph) by the MIROVA system that captures MODIS infrared satellite data. Another signal reported during the first week of March 2017 (bottom graph) could also have been an eruptive event, but no other corroborating evidence is available. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Major SO2 plumes from Tinakula and the Vanatu volcanoes of Ambae and Ambrym were released during October 2017. A substantial SO2 plume drifted in several directions from Tinakula on 21 October 2017 (left). Much smaller plumes are also visible from Ambae and Ambrym which are located farther south. On 28 October (right), a smaller SO2 plume was drifting SE from Tinakula while much larger plumes were apparent from Ambae and Ambrym. Data gathered by the OMI instrument on the Aura Satellite. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Summary of activity during 1971-2012. After the 1971 eruption, intermittent ash emissions, lava bombs, and pyroclastic flows were reported by geologists and sailors passing nearby in 1984, 1985, 1989-1990, 1995, and 1999. Infrared MODIS thermal data was first reported as MODVOLC thermal alerts beginning in 2000 and has provided satellite-based confirmation of thermal activity since then. Months with thermal activity included February 2000-May 2001, February 2006-November 2007, September-November 2008, August 2009, and January 2010-October 2012 (figure 22). No additional thermal alerts were issued through 2017. Since 2004, SO2 data has been gathered by satellite instruments and processed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; in February and April 2006 small SO2 plumes were recorded (figure 23).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Months with MODVOLC thermal alerts from MODIS infrared data for Tinakula, during January 2000-December 2017. The orange boxes indicate months where at least one MODVOLC thermal alert was issued; the number of alerts is indicated inside the square. Months highlighted in green represent contiguous periods of time of three months or greater with no recorded MODVOLC thermal alerts. Pale orange squares indicate months with no MODVOLC thermal alerts issued, but within a three-month buffer of an earlier thermal alert. Data courtesy of MODVOLC.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. SO2 emission data captured by the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite indicated small plumes from Tinakula (top center of images) on 12 and 14 February 2006 (top) and 21 and 23 April 2006 (bottom). Small plumes were also visible from Ambrym on 12 February, and from Ambae and Ambrym on 14 February and 21 and 23 April 2006. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Eruption reports during 1868-1932. Reports of eruptions at Tinakula between 1868 and 1932 have recently been found in 19th and 20th century newspaper accounts from Australia and New Zealand (table 6). The accounts describe incandescence, water discoloration of the sea, explosions, ash plumes, and lava flows extending from the summit to the ocean.

Table 6. Newly discovered historical newspaper accounts of volcanic activity from ships passing near Tinakula between 1868 and 1932. This is not a full eruptive history for the time period. Online links provided in the References section. Courtesy of Steve Hutcheon.

Date Account Reference
17 Oct 1868 Passed Volcano Island, one of the South (sic) Cruz group, on the 17th of October. It was then in active operation, vomiting forth immense volumes of fire and smoke. Note; Volcano Island is another name for Tinakula. The Age, Melbourne, 10 November 1868, page 2b; also in The Argus, Melbourne, 10 November 1868, page 4b
9 Oct 1869 On the 9th October sighted three low islands, also Volcano Island; the discharge from the latter was plainly visible. The Empire, Sydney, 27 October 1869, page 2a
29/30 Nov 1871 During the night, the active volcano, Tinakula, was passed. Large masses of red hot lava were emitted; and the sight is described as being very imposing and grand. The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 February 1872, page 6a
20 Jun 1887 When his vessel was off the Santa Cruz group Mount Tinakula became an active volcano. It broke out at 4 o'clock on the morning of June 20 and viewed from the ship's deck presented a most grand spectacle. The water for miles round was of a pea green color and had the appearance of being very shallow. The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, NSW, 20 July 1887, page 4f
~23 Aug 1910 Tinakula Island was found to be in an active state of eruption, and presented a fine sight. The ship Tambo departed Tarawa 19 August and arrived in Sydney on 31 August 1910. The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, NSW, 1 September 1910, page 7a
2/3 May 1932 The steamer passed within half a mile of the active volcano of Tinakula. It was at night, and the passengers obtained a remarkable view of the red hot lava streams flowing from the summit, which is 2000 ft. high, to the water's edge. Three eruptions occurred while the vessel was within view of the island, each preceded by an explosion which sounded like thunder. The New Zealand Herald, Auckland, NZ, 27 June 1932, page 6a; The Auckland Star, 10 September 1932 page 1h (Supplement)

References. The Age (Melbourne, Victoria) 10 November 1868, page 2b (URL: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article177002744).

The Empire (Sydney, NSW) 27 October 1869, page 2a, (URL: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60895166).

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW) 19 Februay 1872, page 6a (URL: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13252748).

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW) 1887 20 July, page 4f (URL: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article239817295).

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW) 1 September 1910, page 7a (URL: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article237993807; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15183461 ).

The New Zealand Herald (Auckland, NZ) 27 June 1932, page 6a (URL: https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZH19320627.2.19 ).

The Auckland Star (NZ) 10 September 1932, page 1h (Supplement) (URL: https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS19320910.2.180.6 ).

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

Information Contacts: National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Solomon Islands Government, Prince Philip Highway, Ranadi, Solomon Islands (URL: http://www.ndmo.gov.sb); Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd (MetService), PO Box 722, Wellington, New Zealand (URL: http://www.metservice.com/vaac/, http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/OTH/NZ/messages.html); 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: http://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/index.html ); Radio New Zealand (URL: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/342267/solomons-pm-calls-for-calm-in-communities-close-to-volcano); Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, SIBC Voice of the Nation, Honiara, Solomon Islands (URL: http://www.sibconline.com.sb/no-its-not-snow-in-the-solomons-its-ash-from-the-tinakula-volcano/); Andy Prata, AIRES Atmospheric Industrial Research and Environmental Solutions, Melbourne, Australia (URL: https://www.aires.space/, https://twitter.com/andyprata/status/922177129944625157); Gamara Okzman Bencarson, Facebook.


Tungurahua (Ecuador) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Tungurahua

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash emissions, explosions, and pyroclastic flows 26 February-16 March 2016; no further activity through 2017

Episodic eruptive activity at Ecuador's Tungurahua has persisted since November 2011. Periods of activity over several weeks that included ash plumes, Strombolian activity, pyroclastic flows, and lava flows were often followed by quiescence for a similar time span. This type of activity continued throughout 2015 (BGVN 42:08, 42:12); Strombolian activity, significant ash emissions, and SO2 plumes in mid-November 2015 marked the last significant activity for that year. The next episode began in late February 2016 and is discussed below with information provided by the Observatorio del Volcán Tungurahua (OVT) of the Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN) of Ecuador, aviation alerts from the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and other sources of satellite data.

The latest eruptive episode at Tungurahua lasted from 26 February-16 March 2016. Multiple explosions with ash plumes that rose 3-8 km were frequent. Incandescent blocks were ejected up to 1,500 m down most flanks. Pyroclastic flows affected many of the ravines, although no communities reported damage. Significant SO2 emissions were recorded by satellite data between 27 February-8 March. An inflationary trend was recorded from early March through late September 2016, after which a period of deflation began. Tungurahua had occasional seismic swarms after the eruption, but no reported surface activity for the remainder of 2016 and 2017.

IG reported an ash emission on 5 January 2016 that rose 2 km above the crater and drifted NE, causing minor ashfall in the Pondoa and Bilbao sectors. Otherwise, no volcanic activity was reported until a new episode began on 26 February 2016 with a seismic swarm followed by a series of explosions and ash plumes that rose 3-8 km above the crater (figures 96 and 97). Incandescent blocks were ejected up to a kilometer down the NW, W, and SW flanks (figure 98). Pyroclastic flows were also generated that descended through the gorges of Juive, La Hacienda, Mandur and Cusúa, reaching distances of 500-1,500 m (figure 99).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. An ash emission at Tungurahua observed from OVT on 26 February 2016. Courtesy of IG-EPN, (Explosion en el Volcan Tunguraha, No. 20 [1], Informe especial Tungurahia No. 1).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Ejecta traveled 1,000 m from the crater, an ash plume rose 2 km, and pyroclastic flows traveled down several drainages on the NW flank at Tungurahua on 26 February 2016 in this thermal image taken from the Mandur camera. Courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 836, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 23 de febrero al 01 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. Incandescent blocks descended 1,000 m down the NW, W, and SW flanks of Tungurahua on 26 February 2016, and explosions were audible at OVT. Photo by F. Vásconez, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 836, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 23 de febrero al 01 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. Pyroclastic flows descended the Mandur, La Hacienda and other ravines on the W flank of Tungurahua on 26 February 2016 as far as 1 km. Photo by F. Vásconez, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 836, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 23 de febrero al 01 de marzo de 2016).

Continuous emissions with low to moderate ash content drifted W and SW on 27 February. The communities most affected by ashfall were Choglontus, Cotaló, El Manzano, Palitahua, Bilbao, Pillate, Juive, Ambato, Tisaleo, Riobamba, and Quero. The ash was mostly fine-grained, except in the area near Pillate and Choglontus, where the grain size reached up to 3 mm and consisted of reddish, black, gray, and beige fragments (figure 100). On the morning of 1 March 2015, several pyroclastic flows were observed descending through the Juive, Mandur, Achupashal, La Hacienda, and Romero ravines; they traveled 1.5-1.7 km (figure 101).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. Coarse-grained ash fragments from Tungurahua collected in Ambato on 26 February 2016. Photo by Marco Montesdeoca (ECU911 Ambato), Courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (Explosion en el Volcan Tunguraha, No. 2, Informe especial Tungurahia No. 2, 26 de febrero del 2016 (16h45)).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. A pyroclastic flow descended 1.5 km down the Hacienda Ravine on 1 March 2016 at Tungurahua and was captured by the Mandur thermal camera. Courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 836, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 23 de febrero al 01 de marzo de 2016).

Ash emissions were constant throughout the first week in March (figures 102 and 103). During 1-5 March they drifted NW, SW and E, with ashfall reported in the towns of Pillate, Manzano, Choglontus, Palictahua and El Altar (figure 104). Incandescent blocks descended most of the flanks (figure 105). Beginning on 6 March, plumes drifted SW and S, with variable ash content. Pyroclastic flows along the W and NW flanks descended the Cusua, Juive, Mandur, Ashupashal, Romero, and Rhea drainages (figure 106), the farthest traveled went 2.2 km down the Ashupashal on 7 March. In addition to ash and other explosive debris, daily sulfur dioxide emissions were identified from 27 February-8 March 2016 by the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite (figure 107).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. Constant ash emissions rose at least 1 km above the summit of Tungurahua during the first week of March 2016. Photo take on 3 March 2016 by P. Espin. Courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 837, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 01 al 08 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. A dark ash plume formed a mushroom cloud over Tungurahua on 5 March 2016; it rose 2 km above the summit and drifted SW. Photo by E. Telenchana , courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 837, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 01 al 08 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. Ashfall in Choglontus on 6 March 2016 from Tungurahua. Photo by P. Espín, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 837, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 01 al 08 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Strombolian explosions send incandescent blocks down the flanks of Tungurahua on 6 March 2016. Photo by E. Gaunt, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 837, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 01 al 08 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Visual (upper) and thermal (lower) images of Tungurahua taken from Cotalo showing a pyroclastic flow extending down the Achupashal drainage on 6 March 2016. Photo by E. Gaunt, thermal image by M. Almeida, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 837, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 01 al 08 de marzo de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. Substantial SO2 emissions from Tungurahua were measured daily during 27 February-8 March 2016 by the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite. The plumes drifted 300 km or more W on 27 February, 1, 3, and 5 March. Columbia's Nevado del Riuz (upper plume in images) also produced SO2 emissions during this same period. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Beginning on 28 February, a strong inflationary trend (almost 3 cm) was observed in the GPS data at the Mazón (SW flank) station. Three inclinometers on the NW flank also indicated inflation during 28 February-4 March.

Episodic explosions on 8 March 2016 produced plumes with high ash contents that rose 6 km. Small pyroclastic flows descended the NW flank in the Mandur, Rea, Achupashal, and La Hacienda ravines. Sporadic emissions continued for most of the second week of March, with varying ash contents, reaching between 1.5 and 4 km above the crater and drifting to the SSW. Reports of ashfall were received in the sectors of Choglontús, Manzano, Pillate, El Altar, and Palitahua, and minor ashfall in Juive and Cusúa. Several ash plumes (figure 108) and a small pyroclastic flow were observed on 13 March 2016. The Manzano lookout reported loud noises on 14 March, and ashfall in the afternoon, but weather obscured views of emissions. Rainy weather on 16 March also obscured views, but Manzano, Chacauco, Cusúa, and Juive lookouts reported ashfall and explosions. There were no further reports from the observatory of ash emissions, ashfall, or explosions; only minor steam plumes were observed on clear days after 16 March 2016.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. An ash emission at Tungurahua on 13 March 2016 was the last photographed for the eruption. Photo by M. Córdova from OVT, courtesy of IG-EPN (INFORME No. 838, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 08 al 15 de marzo de 2016).

The Washington VAAC reported possible ash emissions on 31 March 2016, but information from OVT indicated no surface activity. Intense rain on 28 March generated a small lahar that descended through the La Pampa ravine. Significant rainfall on 2 April caused lahars to affect Vazcun, Juive, Pondoa, Bilbao, Achupashal, Chontapamba and Malpayacu drainages. Seismicity continued to decrease throughout April 2016. A small swarm of Long Period seismic events (LP's) occurred between 1 and 20 May that were associated with fluid movements. The Washington VAAC reported ash emissions on 3, 8, and 13 May, but OVT reported no surface activity during the entire month (figure 109).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. Clear skies on 31 May 2016 at Tungurahua revealed a snow-covered summit with no evidence of emissions. Photo by M. Córdova, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 849, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 24 al 31 de mayo del 2016).

In a Special Report released on 2 June 2016, IG-EPN noted a clear inflationary trend in data collected from two stations at Tungurahua since the end of the eruption in mid-March. The Retu inclinometer, located N of the crater, showed inflation on the radial axis of about 600 μrad (microradians), and about 200 μrad on the tangential axis. The same axis at the Mandur inclinometer (on the NW flank) had a smaller but distinct (~30 μrad) inflationary signal (figure 110).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. The pattern of deformation registered at the Retu (Refugio Tungurahua) and Mndr (Mandur) inclinometers from 14 February-30 May 2016 at Tungurahua. The gray area corresponds to the eruption of 26 February -16 March. An inflationary trend is apparent on both axes at the Retu instrument and on the tangential axis of the Mndr site. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial Volcán Tungurahua - N°6, 2 de Junio de 2016).

A Washington VAAC report on 1 June 2016 noted that the Guayaquil Meteorological Weather Office (MWO) reported an ash plume at Tungurahua, but OVT confirmed no surface activity. A very small lahar was recorded in the La Pampa ravine on 2 June. Although there were rains of varying intensity many days during June, they did not generate significant lahars, except one of medium size that occurred on 21 June in the Achupashal ravine. The Washington VAAC noted a report from the Guayaquil MWO of an ash emission on 5 July, but it was not detected in satellite imagery, and the OVT reported no surface activity. There was no surface activity reported by OVT from July to mid-September (figure 111), and internal seismicity remained very low. Occasional rainy periods generated muddy water in the ravines, but no significant lahars were reported.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. The summit of Tungurahua showed no sign of surface activity on 1 August 2016. Photo by Bernard J., courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 858, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 26 de julio al 02 de agosto de 2016).

A significant increase in the number of LP seismic events began on 12 September 2016, and a small seismic swarm was recorded on 18 September (figure 112). Small fumaroles were visible at the edges of the crater on 15 and 16 September (figure 113). At this same time, the inflationary trend that had been ongoing since the eruption earlier in the year switched to deflation as measured at the Retu inclinometer.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. The number of different types of seismic events and explosions recorded at Tungurahua between 1 January and 18 September 2016. The largest spike between 26 February and 16 March corresponds to the eruption of that period. Other episodes of seismicity were recorded during May and mid-September, but did not result in ash emissions or explosions. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial Volcán Tungurahua - N°7, 18 de Septiembre de 2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 113. Closeup images of the summit of Tungurahua on 15 (top) and 16 (bottom) September 2016 reveal minor fumarolic activity. Top: Steam rises from two snow free areas on 15 September (INFORME No. 865, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 13 al 20 de septiembre de 2016). Bottom: Fumarolic activity was also apparent in this telephoto image taken from OVT on 16 September. Photo by P. Ramón (Informe Especial Volcán Tungurahua - N°7, 18 de Septiembre de 2016). Courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN.

Another increase in LP seismicity and tremors occurred on 24 September, but there were no reports of surface activity other than minor steam fumaroles. Seismicity remained elevated through early October; a one-hour tremor event was reported on 1 October. Seismicity decreased gradually over the following two weeks. Low-energy steam and gas emissions from fumaroles located on the S and SW flanks were observed during a flyover on 7 October 2016. This corresponded to the warmest areas revealed in the thermal image of the summit (figure 114). with a TMA (maximum apparent temperature) of 47.9°C and 36.5°C.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 114. A thermal image of the summit of Tungurahua taken during a flyover on 7 October 2016 showed two areas on the crater rim with slightly elevated temperatures where fumarolic activity was occasionally observed. Image by P. Ramón, courtesy of OVT, IG-EPN (INFORME No. 868, SÍNTESIS SEMANAL DEL ESTADO DEL VOLCÁN TUNGURAHUA, Semana: Del 4 al 11 de octubre de 2016).

Re-suspended ash from high winds in mid-November 2016 caused several VAAC notices to be issued, but no new emissions were reported by OVT through the end of 2016.

Tungurahua remained quiet throughout 2017. A 90-minute seismic swarm on 8 January 2017 and a minor increase in seismicity in the second half of March were the only seismic events above background levels. There were no emissions except for occasional minor fumarolic activity around the crater rim. Periods of heavy rainfall occasionally produced muddy water in the ravines; the only lahars were reported during 5-6 January, late April and 15 November.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec ); 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/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html).


Yasur (Vanuatu) — February 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Yasur

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Typical ongoing eruptive activity and thermal anomalies through January 2018

Regular monitoring reports about Yasur from the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) indicated that the centuries-long eruptive activity continued from mid-June 2017 through January 2018. VMGD volcano bulletins on 21 July, 30 August, 29 September, 31 October, and 8 December 2017, and 30 January 2018, stated that major unrest was continuing, and the Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 0-4). Based on seismic data, explosions continued to be intense. Visitors were reminded of the closed 395-m-radius Permanent Exclusion Zone (figure 47) and that volcanic ash and gas could impact other areas near the volcano due to trade winds.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Oblique aerial photograph of Yasur with an overlay of designated hazard zones that may be closed depending on the level of eruptive activity. Courtesy of Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department.

During the reporting period thermal anomalies based on MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm were numerous every month. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system also detected numerous hotspots every month (figure 48).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Thermal anomalies detected in MODIS data by the MIROVA system (log radiative power) at Yasur for the year ending 23 February 2018. 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: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department, Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); Radio New Zealand (URL: https://www.radionz.co.nz); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).

Atmospheric Effects

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

View Atmospheric Effects Reports

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

View Special Announcements Reports

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


Central Chile and Argentina


Estero de Parraguirre


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

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

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

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



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

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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


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

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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