Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — 29 August-4 September 2012
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 29 August-4 September 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, 29 August-4 September 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 on 29 August fumarolic plumes from Santa María's Caliente dome rose 250-300 m and drifted SE. Small avalanches were active on the S part of the dome. Explosions on 3 September produced ash plumes that rose 200-800 m above Caliente dome and drifted W and SW. Four active lava flows generated block avalanches that traveled S down the Rio Nima I and Rio Nima II drainages. On 4 September hot lahars traveled S down the Rio Nima I and San Isidro drainages. The lahar in the San Isidro channel was 30 m wide and 2 m deep, emitted a sulfur odor, and carried blocks up to 1 m in diameter.
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.