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Report on Santa Ana (El Salvador) — 28 September-4 October 2005

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 28 September-4 October 2005
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2005. Report on Santa Ana (El Salvador). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 28 September-4 October 2005. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (28 September-4 October 2005)


Santa Ana

El Salvador

13.853°N, 89.63°W; summit elev. 2381 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


SNET reported that a sudden eruption at Santa Ana (also called Ilamatepec) on 1 October around 0820 produced an ash-and-gas plume to a height of ~10 km above the volcano (or 40,600 ft a.s.l.). According to the Washington VAAC, ash was visible on satellite imagery at a height of ~14 km (46,000 ft) a.s.l. Ash fell in towns W of the volcano, including in Naranjos, Nahuizalco, Juayúa, Ahuachapán, and La Hachadura. Volcanic blocks up to a meter in diameter fell as far as 2 km S of the volcano's crater. Lahar deposits were seen SE of the volcano. The Alert Level within a 4-km radius around the volcano's central crater was raised to Red, the highest level. According to news reports, two people were killed by landslides (possibly caused by heavy rain in the area) in the town of Palo Campana, and thousands of residents near the volcano were evacuated. As many as 1,400 hectares of crops were damaged by ash.

Prior to the eruption, significant changes in seismicity were not noted. On 3 October, after the eruption, seismicity fluctuated and small explosions occasionally occurred. Earthquakes associated with explosions were recorded. In addition, there was a decrease in the amount of sulfur dioxide emitted from the volcano. SNET noted that eruptive activity could continue at the volcano.

Geologic Background. Santa Ana, El Salvador's highest volcano, is a massive, dominantly andesitic-to-trachyandesitic stratovolcano that rises immediately W of Coatepeque caldera. Collapse of Santa Ana (also known as Ilamatepec) during the late Pleistocene produced a voluminous debris avalanche that swept into the Pacific Ocean, forming the Acajutla Peninsula. Reconstruction of the volcano subsequently filled most of the collapse scarp. The broad summit is cut by several crescentic craters, and a series of parasitic vents and cones have formed along a 20-km-long fissure system that extends from near the town of Chalchuapa NNW of the volcano to the San Marcelino and Cerro la Olla cinder cones on the SE flank. Historical activity, largely consisting of small-to-moderate explosive eruptions from both summit and flank vents, has been documented since the 16th century. The San Marcelino cinder cone on the SE flank produced a lava flow in 1722 that traveled 13 km E.

Sources: Associated Press, ReliefWeb, Reuters, Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales (SNET)