Report on Pacaya (Guatemala) — 26 February-4 March 2014
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 26 February-4 March 2014
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2014. Report on Pacaya (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 26 February-4 March 2014. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
14.382°N, 90.601°W; summit elev. 2569 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INSIVUMEH reported that during 27-28 February gas-and-vapor plumes from Pacaya rose 400-500 m above the crater. Ejected tephra drifted 600 m S and SW. INSIVUMEH and CONRED noted increased activity on 2 March; at 0515 Strombolian activity at Mackenney Crater ejected material as high as 800 m and lava flows descended the W flank. Explosions produced dense ash plumes that rose 2.5 km and drifted 15 km S, SW, and W. Ashfall was reported in El Rodeo (4 km WSW), Patrocinio (about 5 km W), and Francisco de Sales (5 km N). By the next day activity had decreased, but lava flows traveled as far as 1.3 km S. Ejected tephra again drifted 600 m S and SW.
Geologic Background. Eruptions from Pacaya, one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes, are frequently visible from Guatemala City, the nation's capital. This complex basaltic volcano was constructed just outside the southern topographic rim of the 14 x 16 km Pleistocene Amatitlán caldera. A cluster of dacitic lava domes occupies the southern caldera floor. The post-caldera Pacaya massif includes the ancestral Pacaya Viejo and Cerro Grande stratovolcanoes and the currently active Mackenney stratovolcano. Collapse of Pacaya Viejo between 600 and 1500 years ago produced a debris-avalanche deposit that extends 25 km onto the Pacific coastal plain and left an arcuate somma rim inside which the modern Pacaya volcano (Mackenney cone) grew. A subsidiary crater, Cerro Chino, was constructed on the NW somma rim and was last active in the 19th century. During the past several decades, activity has consisted of frequent strombolian eruptions with intermittent lava flow extrusion that has partially filled in the caldera moat and armored the flanks of Mackenney cone, punctuated by occasional larger explosive eruptions that partially destroy the summit of the growing young stratovolcano.