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Report on Pacaya (Guatemala) — August 1977


Natural Science Event Bulletin, vol. 2, no. 8 (August 1977)
Managing Editor: David Squires.

Pacaya (Guatemala) Ash eruptions on 19-20 and 27 August

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1977. Report on Pacaya (Guatemala) (Squires, D., ed.). Natural Science Event Bulletin, 2:8. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.NSEB197708-342110



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

After a month of increasing steam emission, a 1-day series of ash eruptions occurred on 27 August from MacKenney Crater, the active vent of the 1965-75 eruption. Although the eruptions were conspicuous, the amount of ash ejected was not large, and was carried W by the wind. Small eruptions were also reported 19 August (black ash) and 20 August, accompanied by a strong sulfur odor near the volcano.

Geological Summary. 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.

Information Contacts: S. Bonis, IGN; R. Stoiber, Dartmouth College; P. Newton, Antigua.