Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — 30 March-5 April 2016
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 30 March-5 April 2016
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2016. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 30 March-5 April 2016. 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 30 March-3 April cloud cover prevented visual observations of Caliente cone, part of Santa María's Santiaguito lava-dome complex, though sounds of small avalanches were noted. At 1000 on 3 April INSIVUMEH issued a special report stating that a strong explosion occurred, and pyroclastic flows descended the E and SE flanks. Parts of the E and W crater rim collapsed, and a mushroom-shaped ash cloud rose 4 km and drifted 30 km S, SW, W, and NW. During 4-5 April white plumes drifted SW and SE, and weak avalanches traveled short distances.
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.