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Report on Masaya (Nicaragua) — November 1985


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 10, no. 11 (November 1985)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Masaya (Nicaragua) Gas column heights in 1985

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1985. Report on Masaya (Nicaragua) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 10:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198511-344100



11.9844°N, 86.1688°W; summit elev. 594 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Heights of the gas column above the rim of Santiago Crater (485 m above sea level) were measured on three occasions in 1985: 22 January (48 m), 17 June (78 m), and 21 October (78 m).

On 3 December, during re-entry from mission 61-B, Space Shuttle pilot Brian O'Connor took three 35-mm photographs (nos. 61B-12-020, 021, and 022) of Masaya. These showed a large white plume extending at least 25 km due W toward the Pacific Ocean.

Further Reference. Stoiber, R.E., Williams, S.N., and Huebert, B.J., 1986, Sulfur and Halogen Gases at Masaya Caldera Complex, Nicaragua: Total Flux and Variations with Time; JGR, v. 91, no. B12, p. 12215-12232.

Geological Summary. Masaya volcano in Nicaragua has erupted frequently since the time of the Spanish Conquistadors, when an active lava lake prompted attempts to extract the volcano's molten "gold" until it was found to be basalt rock upon cooling. It lies within the massive Pleistocene Las Sierras caldera and is itself a broad, 6 x 11 km basaltic caldera with steep-sided walls up to 300 m high. The caldera is filled on its NW end by more than a dozen vents that erupted along a circular, 4-km-diameter fracture system. The NindirĂ­ and Masaya cones, the source of observed eruptions, were constructed at the southern end of the fracture system and contain multiple summit craters, including the currently active Santiago crater. A major basaltic Plinian tephra erupted from Masaya about 6,500 years ago. Recent lava flows cover much of the caldera floor and there is a lake at the far eastern end. A lava flow from the 1670 eruption overtopped the north caldera rim. Periods of long-term vigorous gas emission at roughly quarter-century intervals have caused health hazards and crop damage.

Information Contacts: D. Fajardo B., INETER; C. Wood, M. Helfert, NASA, Houston.