Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — 11 May-17 May 2011
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 11 May-17 May 2011
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2011. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 11 May-17 May 2011. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
14.756°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3772 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INSIVUMEH reported that during 12-13 May explosions from Santa María's Santiaguito lava dome complex produced ash plumes that rose 900 m above Caliente dome and drifted SE, depositing fine ash in areas downwind. During 14-15 May explosions produced ash plumes that rose 2 km above Caliente dome. Pyroclastic flows descended the SW and E flanks. Rumbling noises and block avalanches were also noted. Ash was deposited on the E, S, SW, and W flanks including the communities of Loma Linda, San Marcos, and Palajunoj. During 16-17 May explosions produced ash plumes that rose 0.7-1 km above Caliente dome and drifted SW. A pyroclastic flow traveled E.
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 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.