Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — 15 August-21 August 2012
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 August-21 August 2012
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2012. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 August-21 August 2012. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
14.757°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3745 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INSIVUMEH reported that during 15-16 and 18-20 August explosions from Santa María's Santiaguito lava-dome complex produced ash plumes that rose 400-900 m above Caliente dome and drifted 10 km W and NW. Block avalanches originated from the fronts of multiple active flows. White gas plumes rose 200 m and drifted WNW and SW. During 18-20 August ashfall was reported in Monte Claro (S), El Rosario (45 km SW), Palajunoj (S), and surrounding areas. Sounds resembling avalanches were reported on 21 August, however weather conditions prevented visual observations.
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.