Report on Telica (Nicaragua) — May 2009

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 34, no. 5 (May 2009)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Telica (Nicaragua) Intermittent ash explosions and incandescence during 2000-2002

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2009. Report on Telica (Nicaragua). In: Wunderman, R (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 34:5. Smithsonian Institution.

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12.606°N, 86.84°W; summit elev. 1036 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Explosions occurred at Telica during January and through February 2000, after which the activity began to gradually decline (BGVN 25:03 and 25:09). Intermittent ash explosions and crater incandescence were seen through 2002, along with high levels of seismicity related to degassing and constant low tremor. The Geophysics Department of the Nicaraguan Territorial Studies Institute (INETER) monitors activity; visits to the crater described below are by INETER staff unless otherwise noted. Many observations were also made by a local resident who maintains the local seismic station.

Activity during 2000. Tremor remained constant during April-June 2000, with no ash emissions. Visiting geologists reported incandescence in the crater on 5 July 2000. INETER workers who reached the crater on 14 July heard a noise like an airplane turbine coming from the crater and saw glow. They also noted that there had been a widening of the crater due to wall collapses, and an increase in its depth, although the crater floor could not bee seen. On 8 August a crater visit revealed strong fumarolic activity, and sounds resembling gun detonations from the bottom of a new opening.

Residents living near the crater reported on 6 September that ash explosions occurred during the evening and plumes drifted NE. Unfortunately INETER technicians found no traces of ash on 12 September, following rainfall. Small landslides inside the crater were observed. A characteristic strong smell of sulfur was detected in the crater area. Due to the change in wind direction that occurs during September and October, gases and acid rain affected areas to the N, NE, and E. Intense rainfall caused a mudflow down a W-flank drainage.

In the visit on 27 October there was no exhalation of gases, but landslides along the south wall sent material onto the crater floor. Crater visits on 5 and 22 November showed abundant gas output. Jet-like sounds came from fumaroles on the NE wall. Gas emissions were low during December. There were minor landslides in the crater, heard in the last days of November and beginning of December.

Activity during 2001. On the afternoon of 17 January 2001 there were rumbles and a plume of ash and gases 200 m high. On 19 January a visit to the crater found ashfall, to a depth of 1 mm, deposited within a radius of 500 m. The vicinity of the seismic station and SW from the crater had been affected by acid rain. On 22 January visiting scientists observed another small explosion. Activity was low during field visits on 20 and 26 February.

A visit on 3 and 16 March found variable levels of gas emissions. Incandescence was observed within the new crater early on 21 March along with increased output gases. Shortly thereafter a loud explosion was heard, followed by a dark plume about 30 m high and increased glow, but no ashfall. Activity remained low in April.

INETER staff visited the volcano on 6 June and heard a strong jet-like sound, but fumarolic emissions were not abundant. Another visit on the night of 26 June revealed incandescence and landslides inside the crater. Visits to the volcano were made on 13, 16, and 25 July, but no volcanic activity was noted. On 15 July the Civil Defense in Leon informed INETER of sporadic gray ash columns that began the previous day. A local resident reported hearing an explosion at 0315 on 14 July, and saw five emissions of gas-and-ash later that day. This activity lasted until 15 July.

A visit on 15 September revealed little gas emission from the crater, but explosion noises were heard. On 25 October Civil Defense Leon was informed by several farmers that between approximately 0600 and 1000 local time they had observed a column of ash that drifted NW. INETER staff working in the area that day observed strong ash accompanied by expulsion of gas. Rumbling noises and explosions continued until 1430. On 22 November a visitor observed no change in the volcano. Minor ashfall was reported on the morning of 18 December, and the next day explosions were heard coming from the crater.

Activity during 2002. On 17 January 2002 visitors observed strong gas fumes. Observations on 7 March indicated that the crater was wider and deeper than in February. On a 10 July visit there were abundant gas emissions from the crater, a strong smell of sulfur, jet sounds, and noises of breaking rocks. Gas emissions were abundant on 23 August, with columns up to 300 m high, but no landslides, noises, sulfur odor, or incandescence was noted. Rockslides on the N wall of the crater and sulfur odors, along with typical fumarolic activity, were seen during September.

Visitors on 17 October reported abundant gas emissions and strong sulfur odors; noises similar to the movement of waves came from the crater bottom, and some incandescent points were seen. From 7 to 11 October large quantities of gases blew SE, damaging vegetation. Landslides were observed SW of the old crater. Fumarole temperatures were the highest recorded since 1999. Incandescence inside the crater was also observed over several days. Webcam observations in November and December showed intermittent small gas emissions.

Geologic Background. Telica, one of Nicaragua's most active volcanoes, has erupted frequently since the beginning of the Spanish era. This volcano group consists of several interlocking cones and vents with a general NW alignment. Sixteenth-century eruptions were reported at symmetrical Santa Clara volcano at the SW end of the group. However, its eroded and breached crater has been covered by forests throughout historical time, and these eruptions may have originated from Telica, whose upper slopes in contrast are unvegetated. The steep-sided cone of Telica is truncated by a 700-m-wide double crater; the southern crater, the source of recent eruptions, is 120 m deep. El Liston, immediately E, has several nested craters. The fumaroles and boiling mudpots of Hervideros de San Jacinto, SE of Telica, form a prominent geothermal area frequented by tourists, and geothermal exploration has occurred nearby.

Information Contacts: Dirección General de Geofísica, Instituto Nicarag?ense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua (URL: