Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — 31 July-6 August 2013
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 31 July-6 August 2013
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2013. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 31 July-6 August 2013. 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 an explosion from Santa María's Santiaguito lava-dome complex at 0529 on 1 August generated an ash plume that rose 150 m above the crater and drifted SW. Ashfall was reported in the ranches of Monte Claro (S) and La Florida (5 km S). A few avalanches from the lava dome traveled short distances. On 4 August a weak explosion at 0613 produced a white plume that rose 300 m and drifted SW. Minor amounts of ash fell in Monte Claro, El Rosario (45 km SW), and Palajunoj (S). Avalanches were generated by the lava flow on the S flank. Seven explosions were detected during 5-6 August; the explosions generated avalanches on the NE flank, and degassing, jet-engine, and rumbling sounds. The last explosion was followed by a weak pyroclastic flow that traveled S and a moderate one that traveled SW. White and gray plumes rose 500-800 m. Ashfall was reported in the Palajunoj area. Later that day on 6 August OVSAN reported that explosions were heard, and ash plumes that rose 500-800 m drifted W and SW.
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.