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Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — February 1982

Santa Maria

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 7, no. 2 (February 1982)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Santa Maria (Guatemala) Block lava flow; explosions continue

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1982. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 7:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198202-342030

Santa Maria


14.757°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"Santiaguito was observed on 10 and 11 February during excellent weather conditions. A group of scientists climbed the volcano on 10 February in an attempt to sample gases at Caliente Vent (at the E end of the dome). All activity was from Caliente Vent. The tuff ring surrounding the vent was breached to the S and a block lava flow was actively descending a 25° slope, terminating after 300 m in an active scree flow. Avalanching occurred several times per hour.

"Ash eruptions occurred at 1- to 2-hour intervals from Caliente Vent. These reached altitudes of 3.5 km, 1 km above the vent. Fine light brown ash fallouts resulted and the top of the dome had a thick ash mantle, which made walking much easier than in previous years. Some of these eruptions lasted 15 minutes, most only 2-5 minutes. High-frequency noise similar to jet engines pulsated and changed frequency during the eruptions. All of the activity was similar to previous observations. The ash eruptions were identical to those seen consistently since 1975. The block lava flow represented a low rate of lava extrusion, which has been occurring for at least the past 2 years."

Geological Summary. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa MarĂ­a volcano is part of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rise above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The sharp-topped, conical profile 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 vents, with activity progressing W towards the most recent, Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Information Contacts: W. Rose, Jr., Michigan Tech. Univ.; T. Casadevall, USGS; W. Zoller, Univ. of Maryland.