Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — August 1979
Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 4, no. 8 (August 1979)
Managing Editor: David Squires.
Santa Maria (Guatemala) Ash eruption; ashfall on Quetzaltenango
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 1979. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala). In: Squires, D (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 4:8. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN197908-342030.
14.757°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3745 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Press reports state that rumbling and seismic activity began at Santiaguito before dawn on 23 August, followed by a fallout of fine ash on Quetzaltenango (12 km NNE) and vicinity. At 1300, ash mixed with rain severely obscured visibility in the area and covered many sectors of Quetzaltenango with mud.
Geologic Background. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that is cut on the SW flank by a 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned Plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four 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: P. Newton, Antigua.