Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — 17 December-23 December 2003

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 December-23 December 2003
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 December-23 December 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

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Santa Maria

Guatemala

14.756°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3772 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


During 18-22 December, weak-to-moderate explosions occurred at Santa Maria's Santiaguito lava-dome complex. The resultant plumes drifted mainly S and SE towards the Monte Claro, Monte Bello, La Florida, and El Faro fincas (ranches). Nearly constant avalanches of volcanic material traveled S and SW from the fronts of lava flows. Based on information from Retalhuleu airport, the Washington VAAC reported a minor emission from Santiaguito on 18 December. No ash was visible on satellite imagery.

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.

Sources: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia, e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH), Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)