Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — December 1976

Natural Science Event Bulletin, vol. 1, no. 15 (December 1976)
Managing Editor: David Squires

Santa Maria (Guatemala) Ash eruptions continue at about 30-minute intervals

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1976. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala). In: Squires, D (ed.), Natural Science Event Bulletin, 1:15. Smithsonian Institution. http://dx.doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.NSEB197612-342030.

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Santa Maria

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Dartmouth College geologists visited Santa María in late November and early December. Ash eruptions, containing some incandescent material, occurred at intervals of 30 minutes or less from Caliente crater. The eruption clouds reached a maximum height of 1.5 km. Steam was emitted between ash eruptions. Considerable landsliding occurred from El Brujo Dome. The activity was comparable to that of July 1976, but there was less incandescence than in January 1976.

Geologic Background. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa MarĂ­a volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The 3772-m-high stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that is cut on the SW flank by a large, 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four westward-younging vents, the most recent of which is Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Information Contacts: Dept. of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College.