Activity for the week of 16 January-22 January 2002
The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report is a cooperative project between the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program. Updated by 2300 UTC every Wednesday, notices of volcanic activity posted on these pages are preliminary and subject to change as events are studied in more detail. This is not a comprehensive list of all of Earth's volcanoes erupting during the week, but rather a summary of activity at volcanoes that meet criteria discussed in detail in the "Criteria and Disclaimers" section. Carefully reviewed, detailed reports on various volcanoes are published monthly in the Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network.
New Activity / Unrest
| DR Congo
| 1.52°S, 29.25°E
| Elevation 3470 m
According to reports from news and government agencies, the eruption at Nyiragongo that began on 17 January appeared to have stopped by 21 January. During the eruption lava flowed from fissures on the volcano's S and E flanks, moving towards the S. Lava flows cut directly through the city of Goma (~10 km S of the volcano) and continued onward to enter Lake Kivu. A 100-m-wide delta formed where lava entered the lake. Various reports estimated that lava flows had destroyed 25-75% of the city including ~10,000 homes. The buildings at the Goma airport remained intact, but lava covered ~80% of the airstrip rendering the airport inoperable.
Residents of Goma were evacuated after the eruption was underway. Reports of the number of deaths and injuries vary; most reports state ~45 people died, possibly as a result of remaining in their homes which burned or collapsed. In addition, 50-100 people were killed when hot lava caused gas station tanks to explode at 0830 on 21 January. A total of ~400 people suffered from injuries including burns. Beginning around 19 January many Goma residents returned to the city; field reports from USAID/OFDA staff stated that on the morning of the 20th more than 15,000 people per hour returned, while only 3,000 people per hour fled the city. By the 21st there were ~12,000 homeless families in Goma.
Press accounts indicated that volcanologists tentatively suggested that Nyiragongo's volcanism was due to seismicity producing fissures up to several km in length along the E African rift, allowing magma to reach the surface. After observing the volcano on 21 January volcanologists stated, "The current phase of the active eruption is finished. The volcano is quiet." Although no new lava flows were threatening the city, some scientists feared that lava entering the lake or seismic activity could perturb the lake sufficiently to release significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane gas lying at the bottom of the lake. On the other hand, news interviews quoted Jaques Durieux, a French volcanologist working with the UN, as saying, "There is no reason for the methane and carbon dioxide to rise to the surface."
According to Bruce Presgrave of the USGS, National Earthquake Information Center there have been an unusual number of tectonic earthquakes in the Goma-Nyiragongo region since ~9 hours after Nyiragongo's alleged initial lava flows at 0500 local time on 17 January. The sequence included ~100 earthquakes of M 3.5 or larger. The largest earthquake to date was M 5; it struck around 1.76°S, 29.08°E at 0014 on 20 January. According to news reports, several earthquakes were of sufficient magnitude to have been felt in the Goma region.
As of 22 January, no new lava flows had been reported, although lava slowly flowed into Lake Kivu and seismic activity continued. In addition, analysis of lake chemistry found the city's main water supply had remained potable.
Sources: US Agency for International Development / Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, US Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program, ReliefWeb, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Piton de la Fournaise
| Reunion Island (France)
| 21.244°S, 55.708°E
| Elevation 2632 m
After 12 days of activity the eruption that began at Piton de la Fournaise on 5 January ended on 16 January. The eruption's end was marked by a sudden, large decrease in lava emission at 1610 and the termination of eruption tremor at 1910. After the eruption ended a large number of long-period earthquakes were recorded below the summit and Plaine des Osmondes, indicating the continued presence of magma beneath the NE rift zone.
Source: Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF)
| Central Kamchatka (Russia)
| 56.653°N, 161.36°E
| Elevation 3283 m
On 17 January, increased seismic energy release prompted KVERT to increase the Color Concern Code at Shiveluch to Orange ("volcano is in eruption or eruption may occur at any time") from Yellow ("volcano is restless"). During 11-18 January the total number of earthquakes within Shiveluch's edifice decreased, but the energy of individual earthquakes increased (up to ~M 3). In addition, weak, shallow seismic signals (possible collapses and avalanches) were registered. Seismic data indicated the occurrence of more intense possible gas-and-ash explosions than occurred during previous weeks. During 13-14 and 15-16 January, gas-and-steam plumes rose 1-1.5 km above the lava dome. On 14 January, a plume extended more than 10 km SE, and rock avalanches were visible continuously rolling down the dome. Thermal anomalies were visible on satellite imagery, but ash was not.
Source: Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT)
| Sicily (Italy)
| 37.748°N, 14.999°E
| Elevation 3295 m
In mid-January, increased gas emissions occurred at Southeast Crater, and increased gas-and-ash emissions occurred at Bocca Nuova crater. Very small amounts of ash fell on the E side of the volcano, as far as the town of Acireale, ~20 km SE of the volcano. No incandescent ejections were visible at night.
Source: Italy's Volcanoes
| Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)
| 54.049°N, 159.443°E
| Elevation 1513 m
During 11-14 January seismic activity at Karymsky was above background levels, with ~200 weak, shallow, local earthquakes occurring per day. Several of the shallow earthquakes indicated possible gas-and-ash explosions. Due to problems with the seismic station, beginning on 15 January, no Concern Color Code was assigned to the volcano. The last assigned Color Concern Code (on 14 January) was Yellow ("volcano is restless").
Source: Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT)
| Solomon Islands
| 8.991°S, 157.979°E
| Elevation -20 m
During 27 November-13 December explosive eruptions occurred daily at Kavachi. During the next observation period (on 13 January), volcanic debris and gas bubbles were seen upwelling from the submarine volcano. The latter activity was more vigorous than similar activity seen in December 2001, and it was accompanied by frequent loud noises.
Source: The Wilderness Lodge
| Hawaiian Islands (USA)
| 19.421°N, 155.287°W
| Elevation 1222 m
Lava entered the ocean at multiple locations along the Kamoamoa entry, while the amount of lava entering the ocean at the E Kupapa`u entry was small. Surface lava flows were visible on both the upper portion of the flow field above the Pulama pali scarp and spreading out on the coastal flat. On 18 January at 0118 a 9.1-km-deep M-4.1 earthquake occurred about 4 km SSE of Pu`u `O`o. Generally, volcanic tremor remained moderate-to-strong at Pu`u `O`o for several days and the ongoing swarm of small long-period earthquakes continued at Kilauea's summit. Tiltmeters across the volcano showed no evidence of significant deformation.
Source: US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)
| Central Java (Indonesia)
| 7.54°S, 110.446°E
| Elevation 2910 m
During 14-20 January lava avalanches continued to travel down the flanks of Merapi, predominately SW toward the upstream portions of Sat and Bebeng rivers, and partly WSW to the Lamat and Senowo rivers. The maximum run-out distance was ~2.75 km. On 17 January, five small pyroclastic flows traveled 1.2 km to the upstream portions of the Sat and Bebeng rivers. Seismicity increased compared to the previous week and was dominated by 853 lava avalanches. Merapi remained at Alert Level 2 (on a scale of 1-4).
Source: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM)
| 19.023°N, 98.622°W
| Elevation 5393 m
During the week of 16-22 January, Popocatépetl emitted small clouds of steam, gas, and generally minor amounts of ash. In addition, episodes of harmonic tremor were recorded.
Source: Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED)
| 16.72°N, 62.18°W
| Elevation 915 m
During 11-18 January volcanic activity was slightly lower at Soufrière Hills compared to the previous week. Growth appeared to be concentrated on the lava dome's E flank, where intense rockfall activity and small pyroclastic flows continued. On 12 January a long-period earthquake was accompanied by an ash plume that rose to ~2.5 km above the dome. This event was followed by a series of pyroclastic flows that traveled down the Tar River Valley to the sea. A large steam plume was generated when the pyroclastic flows entered the sea. The steam plume and a dense ash cloud drifted W over the Plymouth, Richmond Hill, and Fox's Bay area. Minor mudflows occurred in the Belham Valley on the morning of 18 January.
Source: Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO)
| 1.467°S, 78.442°W
| Elevation 5023 m
During the week of 16-22 January several emissions of steam, gas, and small amounts of ash occurred at Tungurahua. The highest plumes visible on satellite imagery rose ~7.6 km a.s.l. on 16 and 22 January. During 15-16 January intense incandescence was visible in the crater. Seismicity consisted of long-period earthquakes and seismic signals associated with steam-and-ash emissions.
Sources: Instituto Geofísico-Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG), Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)
| 19.532°S, 169.447°E
| Elevation 361 m
Scientists were on alert for heightened volcanic activity at Yasur following a M 7.2 earthquake on 3 January at 0430 near Vanuatu. The earthquake produced landslides in Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila, and damaged buildings and bridges in the city, but there were no deaths or serious injuries. During 5 January to at least 16 January Yasur was active with ash falling on the population of Tanna Island, polluting water sources. The week of 6 January the Vanuatu government restricted access to the volcano's crater citing an increased risk of a large eruption since the 3 January earthquake. Authorities are prepared to evacuate residents from near the volcano if a large eruption occurs.
Criteria & Disclaimers
The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report does not necessarily include all volcanic activity that occurred on Earth during the week. More than a dozen volcanoes globally have displayed more-or-less continuous eruptive activity for decades or longer, and such routine activity is typically not reported here. Moreover, Earth's sea-floor volcanism is seldom reported even though in theory it represents the single most prolific source of erupted material. The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report summarizes volcanic activity that meets one or more of the following criteria:
- A volcano observatory raises or lowers the alert level at the volcano.
- A volcanic ash advisory has been released by a volcanic ash advisory center (VAAC) stating that an ash cloud has been produced from the volcano.
- A verifiable news report of new activity or a change in activity at the volcano has been issued.
- Observers have reported a significant change in volcanic activity. Such activity can include, but is not restricted to, pyroclastic flows, lahars, lava flows, dome collapse, or increased unrest.
Volcanoes are included in the "New Activity/Unrest" section of the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report if the activity occurs after at least 3 months of quiescence. Once a volcano is included in the "New Activity/Unrest" section, updates will remain in that section unless the activity continues for more than 1 month without escalating, after which time updates will be listed in the "Continuing Activity" section. Volcanoes are also included in the "New Activity/Unrest" section if the volcano is undergoing a period of relatively high unrest, or increasing unrest. This is commonly equal to Alert Level Orange on a scale of Green, Yellow, Orange, Red, where Red is the highest alert. Or alert level 3 on a scale of 1-4 or 1-5.
It is important to note that volcanic activity meeting one or more of these criteria may occur during the week, but may not be included in the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report because we did not receive a report.
1. The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report is intended to provide timely information about global volcanism on a weekly basis. Consequently, the report is generated rapidly by summarizing volcanic reports from various sources, with little time for fact checking. The accuracy of the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report is dependent upon the quality of the volcanic activity reports we receive. Reports published in the Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network are monthly, and more carefully reviewed, although all of the volcanoes discussed in the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report are not necessarily reported in the Bulletin. Because of our emphasis on rapid reporting on the web we have avoided diacritical marks. Reports are updated on the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report web page as they are received, therefore information may be included regarding events that occurred before the current report period.
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