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Report on Pacaya (Guatemala) — February 1991


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 16, no. 2 (February 1991)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Pacaya (Guatemala) Strombolian eruptions and small lava flows; little SO2 emission

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1991. Report on Pacaya (Guatemala) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 16:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199102-342110



14.382°N, 90.601°W; summit elev. 2569 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Strombolian eruptions occurred every 1-3 minutes and small lava flows were active during 3 hours of fieldwork on the morning of 6 February and a 10 February overflight by INSIVUMEH and Michigan Technological Univ volcanologists. Similar conditions had been reported on 5 January (15:12). The lava flows emerged from a S flank vent about 100 m below the summit of MacKenney Cone. Substantial growth during the past year had built MacKenney Cone to several tens of meters above the pre-1965 summit crater.

SO2 emissions (determined by COSPEC from neighboring Cerro Chino cone) averaged 23 ± 11 t/d on 6 February, with a range of 4-60 t/d. The previous measurements, on 17 February 1990, yielded a mean of 30 ± 28 t/d and a range of 3-131 t/d (15:03).

Geological Summary. Eruptions from Pacaya 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 older Pacaya Viejo and Cerro Grande stratovolcanoes and the currently active Mackenney stratovolcano. Collapse of Pacaya Viejo between 600 and 1,500 years ago produced a debris-avalanche deposit that extends 25 km onto the Pacific coastal plain and left an arcuate scarp inside which the modern Pacaya volcano (Mackenney cone) grew. The NW-flank Cerro Chino crater 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 covered the flanks of Mackenney cone, punctuated by occasional larger explosive eruptions that partially destroy the summit.

Information Contacts: Rodolfo Morales and Gustavo Chigna, Sección de Vulcanología, INSIVUMEH; W.I. Rose, Robert Andres, and Kimberly Kogler, Michigan Technological Univ.