Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

All reports of volcanic activity published by the Smithsonian since 1968 are available through a monthly table of contents or by searching for a specific volcano. Until 1975, reports were issued for individual volcanoes as information became available; these have been organized by month for convenience. Later publications were done in a monthly newsletter format. Links go to the profile page for each volcano with the Bulletin tab open.

Information is preliminary at time of publication and subject to change.

 Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 42, Number 03 (March 2017)

Managing Editor: Edward Venzke

Axial Seamount (Undersea Features)

Research cruise and new bathymetry reveals lava flows from the 2015 eruption

Barren Island (India)

Intermittent ash plumes and thermal anomalies continue from July 2014 through February 2017

Gamalama (Indonesia)

Weak explosion generates ash plumes during 3-4 August 2016

Kuchinoerabujima (Japan)

Explosions on 3 August 2014, 29-30 May 2015 (with pyroclastic flow), and 18-19 June 2015

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Large ash plume to 19.8 km on 31 July 2015; persistent thermal anomalies during 2014-2016

Pavlof (United States)

Ash plume to 11 km on 27 March 2016 that drifted 1,200 km NE; multiple smaller ash events through July 2016

Poas (Costa Rica)

Phreatic explosions from the crater lake in June-August 2016

Soputan (Indonesia)

Ash plumes to over 12 km altitude, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and Strombolian activity during January-February 2016

Axial Seamount (Undersea Features) — March 2017 Citation iconCite this Report

Axial Seamount

Undersea Features

45.95°N, 130°W; summit elev. -1410 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Research cruise and new bathymetry reveals lava flows from the 2015 eruption

The submarine Axial Seamount volcano is located about 470 km offshore of the Oregon coast. An eruption inferred to have started at 2230 on 23 April 2015 with an earthquake swarm (BGVN 40:03) was confirmed during a 14-29 August 2015 research cruise by the R/V Thompson. According to a personal communication on 23 June 2015 from Bill Chadwick (Oregon State University and NOAA), the length of the eruption is unknown, but it was "very likely days to weeks since the deflation lasted for about 10 days and the temperature signals lasted about a month."

The research cruise revealed new lava flows observed from bathymetric data and observations made during a remotely operated underwater vehicle ROV Jason dive. This eruption "produced the largest volume of erupted lava since monitoring and mapping began in the mid-1980's" (Chadwick and others, 2016). Two large lava flows from the N rift zone (8-16 km N of the summit caldera) were at most 127 m thick; some of the thicker areas had drained collapse features indicating molten interiors when emplaced. The ROV traversed the flows for about 2 km. New, thinner lava flows (figure 13) were also identified in the NE summit caldera and on the NE rim.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Collecting a fragment of lava from the 2015 eruption of Axial Seamount with an arm of the AUV. Credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI); from Phys.org (2016).

Three recently published papers, Chadwick and others (2016), Nooner and Chadwick (2016), and Wilcock and others (2016), detail the results of eruptive activity in 1998, 2011, and 2015, based on new data from a research cruise conducted after the 2015 eruption (figures 14 and 15). Scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) issued a new seafloor map (figure 16) of the area of Axial north of the one shown in figure 14, based on underwater surveys conducted in August 2016, uncovering a number of previously undocumented flows from the 2015 eruption (Phys.org, 2016). MBARI ran identical sets of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) survey lines across the entire Axial caldera in 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2016, and during the 2016 survey the AUV collected seafloor samples (figure 13).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Map of the summit caldera of Axial Seamount. Locations of mobile pressure recorders (MPR) benchmarks (white circles) and bottom pressure recorders (BPR) instruments (red and blue circles) are indicated. Numbers show vertical displacements in centimeters at each of the MPR benchmarks between 14 September 2013 and 25 August 2015, a period that included pre-eruption inflation, co-eruption deflation, and post-eruption inflation. Numbers in parentheses show subsidence in centimeters during deflation only, as measured by the BPRs. BPRs on the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Cabled Array (red dots) include tiltmeters. The map also shows locations of 2015 lava flows and eruptive fissures (white outlines and red lines, respectively) and 2011 lava flows and eruptive fissures (gray outlines and yellow lines, respectively). From Nooner and Chadwick (2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Map of 2015 lava flows (black outlines) and new fissures (red lines) in the summit caldera of Axila Seamount and on the north rift zone. Also shown are 2011 lava flows (gray outlines) and eruptive fissures (yellow lines) on the south rift zone. Lava samples collected by ROV are shown by dots, colored according to their MgO content. Dashed white outline indicates a magma reservoir from multichannel seismic results, with a dotted white line separating zones of high melt (south) from crystal mush (north). Canadian American Seamount (CASM) vent field and implanted benchmark AX-101 are labeled. From Chadwick and others (2016).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Part of the new map of Axial Seamount produced by MBARI researchers. Black outlines show lava flows from 2015 eruption. From Phys.org (2016).

According to Wilcock and others (2016), the earthquake rates increases from less than 500 per day to as many as about 2000 per day prior to the eruption on 24 April 2015, then decreased rapidly over the next month following the seismic crisis to a background level of 20 per day. During the eruption there were 600 earthquakes measured every hour, and the seafloor at Axial dropped suddenly by about 2.4 m.

Precise pressure sensors measure vertical movements of the seafloor that take place as the volcano gradually inflates (see figure 14). Deformation of the Axial volcano seafloor as measured by pressure sensors (figure 17) indicated gradual inflation followed by rapid deflation during the three most recent eruptions in 1998, 2011, and 2015.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Deformation time series at the Axial Seamount caldera center, showing change in seafloor elevation as a function of time from 1998 to about May 2016. Long-term time series of inflation and deflation at the center of the caldera to 19 May 2016. Purple open dots represent mobile pressure recorder measurements (error bars indicate 1 SD); blue curves show bottom pressure recorder data (drift-corrected after 2000). The relative depth of data before and after the 1998–2000 gap in measurements is unknown. From Nooner and Chadwick (2016).

References: Chadwick, W.W., Jr., Paduan, J.B., Clague, D.A., Dreyer, B.M., Merle, S.G., Bobbitt, A.M., Caress, D.W., Philip, B.T., Kelley, D.S., and Nooner, S.L., 2016 (15 December), Voluminous eruption from a zoned magma body after an increase in supply rate at Axial Seamount, Geophysical Research Letters, v. 43, issue 23, pp. 12,063-12,070; DOI: 10.1002/2016GL071327.

Nooner, S.L., and Chadwick, W.W., Jr., 2016 (16 December), Inflation-predictable behavior and co-eruption deformation at Axial Seamount, Science, v. 354, issue 6318, pp. 1399-1403; DOI: 10.1126/science.aah4666.

Phys.org, 2016 (15 Dec), MBARI's seafloor maps provide new information about 2015 eruption at Axial Seamount (URL: https://phys.org/news/2016-12-mbari-seafloor-eruption-axial-seamount.html).

Wilcock, W.S.D., Tolstoy, M., Waldhauser, F., Garcia, C., Tan, Y.J., Bohnenstiehl, D.R., Caplan-Auerbach, J., Dziak, R.P., Arnulf, A.F., and Mann, M.E., 2016 (16 Dec), Seismic constraints on caldera dynamics from the 2015 Axial Seamount eruption, Science, v. 354, issue 6318, pp. 1395-1399; DOI: 10.1126/science.aah5563.

Geologic Background. Axial Seamount rises 700 m above the mean level of the central Juan de Fuca Ridge crest about 480 km W of Cannon Beach, Oregon, to within about 1400 m of the sea surface. It is the most magmatically robust and seismically active site on the Juan de Fuca Ridge between the Blanco Fracture Zone and the Cobb offset. The summit is marked by an unusual rectangular-shaped caldera (3 x 8 km) that lies between two rift zones and is estimated to have formed about 31,000 years ago. The caldera is breached to the SE and is defined on three sides by boundary faults of up to 150 m relief. Hydrothermal vents with biological communities are located near the caldera fault and along the rift zones. Hydrothermal venting was discovered north of the caldera in 1983. Detailed mapping and sampling efforts have identified more than 50 lava flows emplaced since about 410 CE (Clague et al., 2013). Eruptions producing fissure-fed lava flows that buried previously installed seafloor instrumentation were detected seismically and geodetically in 1998 and 2011, and confirmed shortly after each eruption during submersible dives.

Information Contacts: William Chadwick, Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies (CIMRS), Oregon State University, and NOAA/PMEL Earth-Ocean Interactions Program, Hatfield Marine Science Center, 2115 S.E. OSU Dr., Newport, OR 97365, USA (URL: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/eoi/).

Barren Island (India) — March 2017 Citation iconCite this Report

Barren Island


12.278°N, 93.858°E; summit elev. 354 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Intermittent ash plumes and thermal anomalies continue from July 2014 through February 2017

The eruptive activity at Barren Island that began in October 2013 continued through at least mid-June 2014 (BGVN 39:07). Another eruptive cycle began in March 2015 and continued through 28 February 2016, based on MODIS/MODVOLC thermal anomalies. However, MIROVA hotspots were regular through mid-May 2016, and then sporadic throughout the rest of 2016. The next clear episode began on 15 January 2017 and continued through at least February 2017. Scientists aboard a research ship observed explosions, fire fountains, and lava flows in January 2017.

Activity during October 2013-June 2014. Evidence of renewed activity in the form of lava flows was seen in MODVOLC thermal anomaly data beginning on 12 October 2013. Thermal alert pixels were frequent through 12 February 2014, followed by single anomalies on 12 March and 20 April 2014. Ash plumes were also observed during January-April 2014. Thermal infrared MODIS data processed by the MIROVA system revealed frequent anomalies in April through early May 2014, and in late May to early June; another anomaly was seen in mid-June 2014.

Activity during July 2014-June 2015. No thermal anomalies were seen in MIROVA data for at least five weeks (figure 24), between early June and late July 2014, and then continuing intermittently through the first half of March 2015. The only reported plumes during this time were in the week of 3-9 September 2014 and 22-28 April 2015, but in each case as could not be identified in satellite imagery.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Thermal anomaly MIROVA radiative power data from Barren Island during 7 June 2014-6 June 2015. A weak mid-June 2014 anomaly is followed by intermittent weak activity during late July 2014 through mid-March 2015. A strong period of thermal anomalies in March and April 2015 decreased in intensity but continued into early June 2015. Courtesy of MIROVA.

A strong thermal signature resumed on 17 March 2015 (figure 24) and continued for about three weeks before decreasing in intensity. Lower-level thermal activity continued through the first half of June. Thermal anomalies seen in MODVOLC data also resumed on 17 March, and were frequent through 12 June. Eruptions of ash were observed during 5-7 and 12-13 June 2015, with plumes rising to an altitude of 2-3 km and drifting up to 55 km downwind (table 5).

Table 5. Ash plumes at Barren Island, June 2015-February 2016. Legend: Satellite=analysis of satellite images, wind=wind data. Data provided by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre.

Date Max. Altitude (km) Drift Basis of report
2015 Jun 5-7 2.4-3 35-45 km NE, E Satellite, wind
2015 Jun 12-13 2.1 25-55 km NE Pilot, satellite, wind
2015 Aug 19 1.5 55 km E Satellite, wind
2015 Sep 22 1.8 45 km E Satellite, wind
2015 Oct 8-9 1.5-2.1 75-100 km NE Satellite, wind
2016 Jan 3-4 1.5 85 km SW Satellite, wind
2016 Jan 31-Feb 2 1.5 165 km SW Satellite, wind
2016 Feb 14-15 1.5 Over 45 km W Satellite, wind

Activity during July 2015-May 2016. Thermal activity paused again for approximately a month in the second half of June and first half of July 2015. Regular thermal anomalies in MODVOLC data stopped after 12 June and resumed on 16 July. Episodic clusters of anomalies with gaps of 1-3 weeks continued until 28 February 2016. Although MODVOLC data did not show thermal anomalies after February 2016, MIROVA data showed ongoing activity until approximately 17 May (figure 25).

A few ash plumes were seen during this period, on 19 August, 22 September, and 8-9 October 2015 (table 5). There were no reported plumes in November or December 2015, but were seen once again in January and February 2016. Plumes typically rose to an altitude of 1.5-2 km and drifted 45-100 km downwind; the longest plume extended 1665 km SW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Thermal anomaly MIROVA log radiative power data from Barren Island during 21 February 2016-20 February 2017. Regular activity is evident from late February through mid-May 2016. After a gap of about two months, there are only infrequent anomalies through mid-January 2017, after which another episode of frequent anomalies began. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during June 2016-February 2017. Eruptive activity apparently stopped around 16-17 May 2016 for at least seven weeks. MODIS thermal data captured by MIROVA showed a few anomalies (less than 20) from the second half of July through the first half of December 2016 (figure 25). Considering the remote location and rare direct observations at this island volcano, it is possible that the anomalies represent intermittent lava emissions. Regular thermal anomalies were recorded by both MIROVA and MODVOLC beginning on 15 January that were continuing at the end of February 2017.

The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), part of the Indian Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), reported activity on 23 January 2017. Scientists aboard a research vessel were collecting sea floor samples when they observed a sudden ash emission. The team moved closer, about 1.6 km from the volcano, and noted small eruptive episodes lasting 5-10 minutes. Ash emissions were visible in the daytime, and lava fountains feeding lava flows on the flanks were visible at night. The team revisited the volcano on 26 January and observed similar activity over four hours. They sampled sediments and water in the vicinity of the eruption and recovered volcanic ejecta.

Geologic Background. Barren Island, a possession of India in the Andaman Sea about 135 km NE of Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, is the only historically active volcano along the N-S-trending volcanic arc extending between Sumatra and Burma (Myanmar). The 354-m-high island is the emergent summit of a volcano that rises from a depth of about 2250 m. The small, uninhabited 3-km-wide island contains a roughly 2-km-wide caldera with walls 250-350 m high. The caldera, which is open to the sea on the west, was created during a major explosive eruption in the late Pleistocene that produced pyroclastic-flow and -surge deposits. Historical eruptions have changed the morphology of the pyroclastic cone in the center of the caldera, and lava flows that fill much of the caldera floor have reached the sea along the western coast.

Information Contacts: Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi, India (URL: http://www.nio.org/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).

Gamalama (Indonesia) — March 2017 Citation iconCite this Report



0.8°N, 127.33°E; summit elev. 1715 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Weak explosion generates ash plumes during 3-4 August 2016

Intermittent weak explosions at Gamalama resulting in ash plumes have occurred for many decades, most recently in September 2012, December 2014, and July-September 2015 (BGVN 40:12). This report covers activity between 1 December 2015 and February 2017. Data were primarily drawn from reports issued by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation) and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC).

During 1 January-6 March 2016, PVMBG noted that seismicity fluctuated but decreased overall; shallow volcanic earthquakes and signals indicating emissions appeared on 3 March and a series of deep volcanic earthquakes were detected on 6 March. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and visitors and residents were warned not to approach the crater within a 1.5-km radius.

PVMBG reported that, at 0628 on 3 August 2016, a weak explosion generated an ash plume that rose 500-600 m above the crater and drifted SE and S. Ash emissions decreased at 0655. Consistent with this, the Darwin VAAC, based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind model data, and information from PVMBG, reported that ash plumes reached a maximum altitude of 2.7 km (summit elevation is 1.7 km) and drifted S, SE, E, and NE. Ashfall was reported in areas on the SSE flank, including the Ake Huda area.

A news account (Jakarta Globe) stated that the Babullah Airport in Ternate, North Maluku, was closed for a day while volcanic ash was cleared from the runway (about 6 km ENE of the volcano). On 5 August PVMBG noted that seismicity continued to be elevated, although inclement weather prevented visual observations.

Geologic Background. Gamalama is a near-conical stratovolcano that comprises the entire island of Ternate off the western coast of Halmahera, and is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. The island was a major regional center in the Portuguese and Dutch spice trade for several centuries, which contributed to the thorough documentation of Gamalama's historical activity. Three cones, progressively younger to the north, form the summit. Several maars and vents define a rift zone, parallel to the Halmahera island arc, that cuts the volcano. Eruptions, recorded frequently since the 16th century, typically originated from the summit craters, although flank eruptions have occurred in 1763, 1770, 1775, and 1962-63.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL:http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Jakarta Globe (URL: http://jakartaglobe.id/).

Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) — March 2017 Citation iconCite this Report



30.443°N, 130.217°E; summit elev. 657 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Explosions on 3 August 2014, 29-30 May 2015 (with pyroclastic flow), and 18-19 June 2015

Intermittent ash explosions during the last century have characterized activity at Japan's Kuchinoerabujima volcano, located at the northern end of the Ryukyu Islands approximately 260 km S of Nagasaki, Japan. Brief periods of higher seismicity had been detected in the last approximately 30 years, although no explosions had been recorded since 1980 (BGVN 35:11 and 38:01). A new explosion occurred on 3 August 2014, and activity remained elevated through June 2015. Information on the latest activity is provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) monthly reports and aviation alerts are from the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

A modest explosion from Shindake crater on 3 August 2014 caused JMA to increase the Alert Level at the volcano. Activity decreased shortly after the explosion, and only steam plumes, fumarolic activity, and occasional incandescence were observed for the next nine months. A large explosion on 29 May 2015 generated a gray-black ash plume that rose to over 9 km altitude and sent pyroclastic flows down the flanks; JMA increased the Alert Level and ordered evacuation of local residents. Activity declined after a few days, and Shindake remained quiet until a smaller explosion on 18 June 2015. The ash plume did not exceed 1 km, but ashfall was reported in towns on neighboring islands and in areas up to 80 km E. Two additional smaller explosions were reported on 18 and 19 June. Seismicity decreased significantly after the 19 June explosion, but SO2 emissions remained elevated until October 2015. The JMA did not lower the Alert Level until June 2016.

Activity during August 2014-February 2015. JMA reported an eruption from the vicinity of Shindake crater around noon local time on 3 August 2014, with a gray plume rising more than 800 m above the crater rim. This led to an increase in the Alert Level from 1 (Normal) to 3 (Do not approach the volcano) on a 5-level scale. An overflight confirmed traces of ash on the W flank. The Tokyo VAAC reported that the plume rose to an altitude greater than 1.5 km and drifted N. On 5 August, seismicity decreased, and views from a remote web camera showed a white plume rising 50 m above the crater rim. For the rest of August, seismicity remained low and steam plumes rose 50 to 800 m above the crater.

During September 2014, white plumes were generally observed 200-800 m above the crater when visibility was not obscured by weather; seismicity remained low. Scientists conducting a field survey on 12 September found SO2 emissions at 300 metric tons per day (t/d), higher than the background value of 60 t/d measured on 21 May 2014. Occasional earthquakes were recorded in October 2014, and the volume of gas emissions remained relatively high compared with before the August eruption; steam-and-gas plumes rose to 600 m above the crater rim. During field surveys on 7 and 8 October scientists measured SO2 emissions of 500 t/d. Gas emissions rose from within the Shindake crater, around a thermally anomalous fissure at the W edge of the crater, as well as from a new fumarole on the SW flank of the crater. In November, plumes continued to rise as high as 1,000 m above the crater. In another survey on 9 December 2014, scientists found that SO2 levels had increased to 1,700 t/d.

Emissions of SO2 remained high during the second half of January 2015, ranging from 1,100 to 3,100 t/d. A M 2.2 seismic event located 5 km beneath the island was recorded on 24 January. Observations made during field surveys in February confirmed continued steam emissions, and thermal anomalies from the W crater rim fissure and the new fissure on the SW flank. SO2 emissions decreased slightly from January levels to a range of 400 to 2,700 t/d in February, and steam plumes continued to rise 400-700 m above the crater.

Activity during March-June 2015. Incandescence at night was first recorded at the Shindake Crater from 24 to 31 March 2015 with a high-sensitivity camera. Aerial observation on 25 March by JMA and JCG (Japan Coast Guard) indicated a temperature rise and continued fumarolic activity around the thermal anomaly W of the crater rim. SO2 emissions remained high in March (1,000 to 3,700 t/d) and April (900 to 2,600 t/d), and steam plumes rose to 1 km above the crater. Incandescence was occasionally observed at night during April and again during 18-22 May; fumarolic activity continued along with a rise in temperature at the W and SW fissures. Steam plumes were observed rising to 600 m above the crater in May.

According to JMA, at 0959 local time on 29 May 2015, a large explosive phreatomagmatic eruption generated a gray-black ash plume that rose to over 9 km altitude and drifted ESE (figure 5). The plume was reported by the Tokyo VAAC to be at 10.9 km altitude about an hour after the eruption. The largest of several pyroclastic flows descended NW from the SW side of the crater in the Mukaehama district and reached the coast. Based on these events, JMA raised the Volcanic Alert Level to 5 (Evacuate). Aerial observation conducted on the same day (in collaboration with the Kyushu Regional Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) revealed additional pyroclastic flows moving in nearly all directions from the Shindake crater (figure 6) including flows reaching halfway down the mountain to the SW and SE of the crater. Seismicity increased immediately after the eruption, but had decreased by midday.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Ash plume from Kuchinoerabujima's Shindake Crater during an explosion on 29 May 2015. The plume height was reported by the Tokyo VAAC as 10.9 km altitude. Photo taken from the neighboring island of Yakushima by Itaru Takaku. Courtesy of Kyodo News and The Japan Times.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Google Earth imagery dated 5 June 2015, one week after a large explosion which generated several pyroclastic flows around the summit crater at Kuchinoerabujima. Note the brown areas extending in most directions away from the summit crater (beneath the white clouds), all the way to the coast on the NW and W flanks that are the result of the pyroclastic flows that occurred on 29 May 2015. Courtesy of Google Earth.

According to a news article (The Japan Times), all residents and visitors (141 people) were safely evacuated by a ferry, coast guard ship, and helicopter to neighboring Yakushima Island (25 km SE). A resident of Yakushima reported that ash reached the island. Later that day, ash plumes rose 200 m and drifted SW.

Ash plumes continued the next day, 30 May, rising only 1.2 km. A field team observed discolored trees on the SE and SW flanks, and fallen trees near the coast on the NW flank. Cloud cover prevented views of the eruption area, but the team was able to confirm continued fumarolic activity and incandescence in the W part of the crater. Seismicity continued at low levels, and during the first week of June white plumes rose 100-400 m above the crater rim.

Another smaller eruption on 18 June 2015 caused lapilli and ash to fall on the E side of the island. Ash was reported in Yakushima Town (44 km ESE on Yakushima Island), Nishinoomote City (80 km NE on Tanegashima Island), and Nakatane Town (72 km E on Tanegashima). Small eruptions also occurred at 1631 on 18 June and at 0943 on 19 June. Tokyo VAAC reported the larger 18 June eruption, but plume heights were below 1 km, and not observed on satellite. Aerial observations on 20 June by JMA revealed no traces of new pyroclastic-flow deposits around the crater or on the flanks.

Post-eruption observations through June 2016. Emissions of SO2 remained elevated during June 2015 (800-1,700 t/d), and decreased somewhat in July to 500-700 t/d. They decreased further to 200-300 t/d in August. Increased seismicity was recorded briefly from 1-3 and 6-11 August. SO2 emissions continued to decline in September, except for a spike of 700 t/d on 10 September. Thermal infrared observations taken during a field survey in October 2015 indicated a decrease in temperature around the fissure W of the crater rim since the 29 May eruption. Emissions of SO2 remained below 300 t/d for the remainder of 2015 and no further activity was reported, although the Alert Level remained at 5. On 14 June 2016, JMA lowered the Alert Level to 3; seismic activity and SO2 flux values were below levels detected prior to the May-June 2015 eruption.

Geologic Background. A group of young stratovolcanoes forms the eastern end of the irregularly shaped island of Kuchinoerabujima in the northern Ryukyus, 15 km west of Yakushima. Furutake, Shintake, and Noike were erupted from south to north, respectively, to form a composite cone that is parallel to the trend of the Ryukyu Islands. The highest peak, Furutake, reaches only 657 m above sea level. The youngest cone, 640-m-high Shintake, was formed after the NW side of Furutake was breached by an explosion. All historical eruptions have occurred from Shintake, although a lava flow from the S flank of Furutake that reached the coast has a very fresh morphology. Frequent explosive eruptions have taken place from Shintake since 1840; the largest of these was in December 1933. Several villages on the 4 x 12 km island are located within a few kilometers of the active crater and have suffered damage from eruptions.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Google Earth (URL: https://www.google.com/earth/); The Japan Times (URL: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/29/national/volcano-erupts-isle-kagoshima-prompting-evacuation-order/.

Manam (Papua New Guinea) — March 2017 Citation iconCite this Report


Papua New Guinea

4.08°S, 145.037°E; summit elev. 1807 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Large ash plume to 19.8 km on 31 July 2015; persistent thermal anomalies during 2014-2016

The remote island of Manam, 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea is a basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano that has a 400-year history of recorded evidence for recurring low-level ash plumes and occasional Strombolian emissions, lava flows, pyroclastic avalanches, and large ash plumes. Pyroclastic flows and Strombolian activity during much of 2012 and 2013 were accompanied by numerous ash plumes rising a few kilometers above the summit (BGVN 38:06, 39:08). Activity between January 2014 and January 2017, described below, includes persistent thermal anomalies during most of this time, and a major ash plume rising to nearly 20 km altitude on 31 July 2015.

Monitoring is done by Papua New Guinea's Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), part of the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM). This information is supplemented with aviation alerts from the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). MODIS thermal anomaly satellite data is recorded by the University of Hawai'i's MODVOLC thermal alert recording system, and the Italian MIROVA system.

MIROVA thermal anomaly data suggests Manam was intermittently active from at least late June 2014 through the end of the year. A single ash plume was reported on 6 September and two more were observed on 21 and 22 December. The appearance of MODVOLC thermal anomalies in late January 2015 that grew more frequent through April indicated increasing activity along with sporadic low-level ash plumes in late February and late April. Persistent levels of thermal anomalies and ash plume reports continued in May through early July.

On 31 July 2015 at about 1130 local time a large explosion sent an ash plume to nearly 20 km altitude, spreading volcanic blocks and ash over a wide area, and injuring two people. A second substantial ash plume rose to 6.4 km on 8 August. This was followed by three more small plumes in August, one in September, and two in October 2015 (on 8 and 29) before the volcano quieted down for a few months.

Thermal anomalies were present at the end of January 2016, and an ash plume was observed on 4 March 2016. New thermal anomalies intensified until June and then tapered off in early July. Persistent but more intermittent thermal anomalies continued throughout the year and were ongoing as of early January 2017.

Activity during 2014. Numerous explosions during 2013 tapered off at the end of the year, with the last ash emissions reported on 15 December 2013. In January 2014, RSAM values were lower but still fluctuating above background levels. A report from RVO in early April noted that both summit craters remained quiet through March 2014, with no audible noises or incandescence visible at night. The seismicity remained within background levels of 160-180 RSAM and daily volcanic event counts ranged from 830 to 920. Tiltmeter data showed no significant short-term changes, but over the previous three months there was a gradual inflationary trend towards the summit area. The Alert Level was lowered to Stage 1.

A thermal anomaly appears at the very end of June 2014 in the first available MIROVA LRP data (figure 30). This is followed by additional thermal anomalies in August, October, and November. The Darwin VAAC reported a small ash plume on 6 September 2014 that rose to 2.1 km altitude (300 m above the summit) and drifted 37 km NW. It was visible on infrared satellite imagery for a few hours before dissipating. In their report for October 2014, RVO noted that Manam remained quiet for the month with no audible noises or incandescence; seismicity remained at low to moderate levels, and daily volcanic-event counts ranged between 860 and 920. They also observed that the long-term inflationary trend at the summit observed since the beginning of 2014 continued. Small amounts of white-gray ash drifting SE were reported by RVO on 21 and 22 December from the Southern Crater, with a plume height of only 200 m. They also noted continued E-W inflation.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. MIROVA Log VRP data for Manam from 22 June 2014 through 22 June 2015. Intermittent thermal anomalies are recorded at the end of June, early and late August, early October, and mid-November 2014. Thermal activity increased in frequency and intensity starting in the second half of January 2015. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during 2015. RVO noted incandescence from the Main Crater beginning on 19 January 2015, growing stronger during the last week of the month, matching observations in the MIROVA data (figure 30). A MODVOLC thermal alert pixel appeared on 23 January. Seismicity also changed after the middle of the month when RSAM values rose above 200 on 16 January and went as high as 500 on 31 January, after which they declined rapidly and remained low during February.

In February 2015, seismicity was characterized by small to moderate sub-continuous and continuous volcanic tremors. Increased incandescence was also evident from the Main Crater during February. RVO reported weak-to-bright steady incandescence during 7-10, 21, and 26 February. MODVOLC captured two thermal alert pixels on 8 February, and MIROVA reported an anomaly at the end of the first week and during the last week of the month. An ash plume was observed in satellite data by the Darwin VAAC on 24 February; the plume rose to 3 km altitude (1.2 km above the summit) and drifted 37 km W. RSAM values rising to 500 by 18 March led RVO to raise the Alert Level that day to Stage 2. Visual observations were difficult due to weather during much of the month, but MODVOLC reported thermal alert pixels on 19 and 26 March, and MIROVA captured several anomalies at the beginning of a period of increased frequency and intensity of thermal anomalies that lasted through mid-June (figure 30).

RVO reported that during April 2015 both craters released variable amounts of white vapor. Clearer skies revealed incandescence from the Southern Crater during nine nights of the month and seven times from the Main Crater. This is consistent with satellite thermal anomaly observations by MODVOLC on six different days, with four of them being multiple pixel alerts, and numerous anomalies captured by MIROVA. Two ash eruptions were reported by the Darwin VAAC on 27 and 30 April. The first low-level plume rose to 2.4 km and was observed in satellite imagery extending over 100 km to the W before dissipating on 28 April. The second plume was observed at the same altitude drifting 150 km NW. Seismicity remained high during April, still characterized by discreet small to moderate low-frequency earthquakes, and RSAM values ranged between 300 and 650, increasing during the month. Ground deformation GPS measurements at the end of April confirmed the continuing inflationary trend recorded by the electronic tiltmeters since the last measurements taken in May 2013 (figure 31).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Electronic tilt measurements at Manam between 26 February 2011 and 1 May 2015 show a continuing inflationary trend. Eruptions in August 2012 and January 2013 are shown by red arrows. Courtesy of RVO (Volcano Information Bulletin 01-042015, 4 May 2015).

Multiple sources of satellite data confirmed that Manam was active during May 2015. MODVOLC thermal alert pixels were reported from MODIS data captured on 6 and 22 May; MIROVA thermal anomalies were frequent. Ash plumes were reported from visible satellite imagery by the Darwin VAAC on 13 May at 3 km altitude drifting 37 km NE; SO2 plumes were captured by NASA's OMI instrument on the Aura satellite on 2, 12, 13, and 20 May (figure 32).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. SO2 plumes captured by NASA's OMI instrument on the Aura satellite for Manam during May 2015. Clockwise from top left: 2 May, 12 May, 13 May, and 20 May. Missing data (gray stripes) are due to OMI row anomaly. Courtesy of NASA/GSFC.

During June and early July 2015 there were four series of Volcanic Ash advisory reports from the Darwin VAAC. The first, on 21 and 22 June, reported a 3-km-altitude ash plume that extended over 35 km N and NW. The second, from 28 to 30 June, had altitudes that started at 2.4 and rose to 3 km, and drifted 75 km NE. A third plume emerged late on 30 June and lasted through 1 July, drifting 130 km E at 2.4 km altitude. A fourth plume reported on 2 July was confirmed by RVO as only a steam plume with no ash, and was seen in satellite imagery drifting 45 km E at 2.4 km altitude. A single MODVOLC thermal alert pixel was recorded on 7 July.

RVO reported a significant eruption on 31 July 2015 from the Southern Crater beginning about 1130 local time. They observed that low roaring noises marked the onset of the explosion followed by continuous ejection of scoria until about 1330. Fist-sized volcanic debris was reported at Warisi village on the E side of the island. At Baliau on the N side, clasts were about 10-20 cm in diameter. Two people were reportedly knocked unconscious from the falling scoria. Strong emissions of dark gray ash clouds followed the ejection of scoria and continued into the early afternoon. By 1740 emissions consisted of light gray ash clouds. The news source One Papua New Guinea reported that fine ash began to fall over Bogia (25 km SW on the mainland) around 1245 local time.

The ash plume was initially observed in satellite imagery by the Darwin VAAC at 19.8 km altitude spreading out in all direction for 100 km. It was captured by the Japanese Himawari-8 satellite (figure 33); an animation of the imagery showing the eruption was provided by Miller et al. (2016). Four hours later, the plume was visible 370 km to the SW. A lower-altitude ash plume at 6.7 km was observed the next day extending over 100 km SW. A significant SO2 plume was partially captured by the Aura instrument on the OMI satellite the next day, and measured an SO2 mass of 3.206 kilotons.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Ash cloud from Manam captured with True Color imagery by the Himawari-8 satellite on 31 July 2015 at 1150 local time, showing ash dispersing in all directions shortly after the explosion. Data courtesy of JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency), annotated image courtesy of RAMMB/CIRA (http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/quarterly_reports/4qtr15/Media.htm). An animation of the imagery showing the eruption is provided by Miller et al. (2016).

The Darwin VAAC reported a new small ash plume on 6 August 2015 rising to 2.7 km drifting around 40 km to the NW, and another large ash plume on 8 August that initially rose to 6.4 km and drifted SSW. Pilots reported the ash at 5.8 km altitude about 90 km W of Kiunga Airport which is located 475 km SW of Manam. About 24 hours later, pilots reported another ash plume at 6 km altitude 150 km SE of the volcano. A hot spot was observed at the summit on 9 August; two MODVOLC thermal alert pixels appeared that day, and another one appeared on 15 August. A small plume was reported on 21 August, only rising to 2.1 km and drifting about 8 km ESE. This was followed two hours later by an ash plume observed 16 km NW at the same altitude, which continued to drift NW to 75 km before dissipating. Additional ash plumes were reported from 26-28 August rising to 2.4 km and drifting from 35 to 75 km, first NE, then N and NW; a small plume was reported on 31 August at 2.1 km drifting 75 km N before dissipating that day.

A single MODVOLC thermal alert pixel on 4 September was the last recorded in 2015. The next plume on 7 September was small, rising only to 2.1 km and drifting 75 km NW, briefly observed in one satellite before dissipating. It was a month until the next ash plume on 8 October 2015, when Darwin VAAC made a satellite observation of a plume at 1.8 km drifting 45 km NW. The last ash plume of 2015 was captured in satellite images on 29 October between 2.1 and 2.4 km altitude around 35 km NW.

Activity during 2016. The MIROVA data recorded thermal activity on about 29 January 2016 that increased in intensity and frequency in early March (figure 34). A small ash plume on 4 March rose to 3 km altitude and drifted about 90 km SE according to the Darwin VAAC. Increased thermal activity was recorded in MODVOLC thermal alert pixels and MIROVA data from early March through mid-July. There were no reports from the RVO during this time. The first MODVOLC alert was recorded on 7 March and they were persistent, almost every week, through the second week of July. On 13 July, an ash plume was observed by the Darwin VAAC in satellite imagery at 3 km altitude drifting 55 km W for a few hours before dissipating. After that, single-pixel MODVOLC thermal alerts were recorded on 20 September and 6 October. The MIROVA analysis of the MODIS data records a similar picture with a clear increase in the frequency and intensity of anomalies between early March and mid-July (figure 34); continuing pulses of thermal anomalies are present every month into January 2017.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Log Radiative Power from MODIS thermal anomaly data recorded by MIROVA for Manam between 19 January 2016 and 18 January 2017. The increased frequency and intensity of thermal anomalies between early March and mid-July agrees well with other indicators of volcanic activity. Additionally, the MIROVA data suggests continued intermittent activity through 18 January 2017. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Reference: Miller S D, Schmit T L, Seaman C J, Lindsey D T, Gunshor M M, Kohrs R A, Sumida Y, Hillger D, 2016, A Sight for Sore Eyes: The Return of True Color to Geostationary Satellites, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, vol. 97, no. 10. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-15-00154.1. Animated imagery of the 31 July 2015 eruption can be viewed at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/suppl/10.1175/BAMS-D-15-00154.1/suppl_file/10.1175_BAMS-D-15-00154.2.html .

Geologic Background. The 10-km-wide island of Manam, lying 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, is one of the country's most active volcanoes. Four large radial valleys extend from the unvegetated summit of the conical 1807-m-high basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks. These "avalanche valleys" channel lava flows and pyroclastic avalanches that have sometimes reached the coast. Five small satellitic centers are located near the island's shoreline on the northern, southern, and western sides. Two summit craters are present; both are active, although most historical eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE valley. Frequent historical eruptions, typically of mild-to-moderate scale, have been recorded since 1616. Occasional larger eruptions have produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached flat-lying coastal areas and entered the sea, sometimes impacting populated areas.

Information Contacts: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://hotspot.higp.hawaii.edu/, http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/index.html ); Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch (RAMMB) / Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA), NOAA/NESDIS, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1375, USA (URL: http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/); One Papua New Guinea (URL: http://www.onepng.com/2015/07/manam-volcano-erupts.html).

Pavlof (United States) — March 2017 Citation iconCite this Report


United States

55.417°N, 161.894°W; summit elev. 2493 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Ash plume to 11 km on 27 March 2016 that drifted 1,200 km NE; multiple smaller ash events through July 2016

Pavlof volcano, near the end of the Alaska Peninsula 970 km SW of Anchorage, frequently produces explosive eruptions from the summit vents and occasional lava flows. The largest confirmed historical eruption took place in 1911 when a fissure opened on the N flank; it has erupted more than 25 times since then. The last reported eruption in mid-November 2014 included lava fountaining from a vent just N of the summit, and flows of rock debris and ash descending the N flank, along with an ash plume that rose to around 9 km altitude and drifted 300 km NW. Pavlof was quiet in 2015, but then abruptly renewed activity in late March 2016. It is monitored primarily by the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) and the Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

A sudden vigorous eruption that began on 27 March 2016 lasted for about 20 hours, sending ash to 11 km altitude, producing a plume dispersed NE for 1,200 km, and a similarly large SO2 plume. The volcano was then quiet until a short-lived, smaller ash emission occurred in mid-May for eight days. Intermittent low-level ctivity picked up again from late June through late July 2016, characterized by minor emissions of dark-colored ash and steam rising to 4.5 km altitude. Fallout of ash was limited to the flanks of the volcano and the immediate area around Pavlof. The last report of ash emissions was on 30 July, although low-amplitude tremors and steam plumes persisted through August, and intermittent thermal anomalies from the summit continued through the end of 2016.

After a short and intense eruption between 12 and 15 November 2014 (BGVN 40:04), activity decreased quickly to background levels. The AVO had reduced the Aviation Color Code (ACC) from Red (highest) to Orange on 16 November, and from Orange to Yellow on 25 November. Seismicity remained slightly above background levels until early January. On 15 January 2015 the AVO reduced the ACC to the lowest level of Green where it remained for over a year until it was changed abruptly to Red on 28 March 2016 at the start of a new eruption.

AVO reported that seismicity began to increase at 1553 on 27 March 2016, characterized by a quick onset of continuous tremor. An ash plume rose to an altitude of 6.1 km, and by 1618 was drifting N (figure 13). During the night, lava fountaining from the summit crater was observed by mariners, pilots, and residents of nearby Cold Bay (60 km SW).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Pavlof erupts, sending a plume of volcanic ash into the air on the evening of 27 March 2016 (AKDT) as photographed by a passenger on a plane travelling to Anchorage from Dutch Harbor. Courtesy of Colt Snapp.

On 28 March, tremor levels remained high; lightning in the ash plume was detected in the morning, and infrasound data from a sensor network in Dillingham (470 km NE) indicated sustained ash emissions. At 0700 a continuous ash plume was evident in satellite images drifting more than 650 km NE, and a MODIS image captured at midday revealed the extent and substantial thickness of the cloud (figure 14). A SIGMET (significant meteorological information notice) issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) Alaska Aviation Weather Unit indicated that the maximum ash-cloud altitude was approaching 11 km. Strongly elevated surface temperatures also suggested the presence of lava flows.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on a NASA satellite acquired this image of the ash plume from Pavlof at 1145 Alaska time (2145 UTC) on 28 March 2016 extending several hundred km to the NE. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

The energetic ash-producing phase of the eruption lasted from 1600 AKDT (00:00 UTC) on 27 March until about 1230 AKDT (20:30 UTC) on 28 March, and produced an ash cloud that stretched NE over Bristol Bay and interior Alaska for over 1,200 km. As a result, over 40 Alaska Airlines flights to and from Fairbanks, Alaska, were cancelled according to NBC News. Minor ashfall (0.8 to 6.3 mm or 1/32 to 1/4 in) was reported in the nearby community of Nelson Lagoon (80 km NW) and trace ashfall (less than 0.8 mm) was confirmed near Dillingham (470 km NE). A large SO2 plume also drifted NE from the volcano extending all the way across Alaska to Yukon Territory and British Columbia in Canada (figure 15).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. A large SO2 plume trails NE from Pavlof on 28 March 2016 after a substantial explosion sent an ash plume to nearly 12 km altitude. The ash cloud and the SO2 plume both extended for 1,200 km NE across interior Alaska. Courtesy of NASA/GSFC.

Seismicity and infrasound signals had decreased to low enough levels by 1230 on 28 March that the AVO lowered the Aviation Color Code to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level to Watch. However, seismic tremor remained above background levels. Ash emissions decreased through the night and were barely visible in a satellite image acquired at 0625 AKDT on 29 March. Remnant ash continued to drift over Bristol Bay and areas of interior Alaska. The webcam at Cold Bay recorded intermittent, low-level ash plumes rising as high as 4.6 km.

Thermal anomalies, measured by MODIS satellite sensors and analyzed by MODVOLC, appeared from 28 March (0025 UTC) through 29 March 2016 (1360 UTC), with 20 pixels recorded on 28 March. The MIROVA system also recorded an abrupt spike to 'Very High' thermal anomaly levels on 28 March, dropping slightly in the next two days (figure 16) and then disappearing a few days later. Low-power anomalies were detected on 2 and 6 April, and then ceased for several months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. MIROVA Log Radiative Power data for Pavlof between 28 December 2015 and 28 December 2016. Note the 'Very High' level spike in Log Radiative Power during 28-30 March 2016. Values dropped significantly in early April and then disappeared for several months. Low VRP values reappeared in late August and were intermittent for the remainder of 2016. AVO determined that the summit crater was enlarged as a result of the March 2016 explosion; the new crater geometry possibly allowed satellite sensors to more easily detect emissions of hot gases from the vent. Ongoing observations of moderately elevated surface temperatures between August and December 2016 likely reflect this change in the crater, and do not indicate new eruptive activity or rising magma, according to AVO scientists. Courtesy of MIROVA.

The AVO reported that the intensity of the eruption greatly decreased during 29-30 March, although The Canadian Press reported that ash from the eruption had caused flights in and out of Yellowknife and Regina, Canada, to be cancelled on those dates. Elevated surface temperatures identified in satellite data and visual observations of low-level, intermittent ash plumes were noted during brief breaks in poor weather conditions during these days. Airwave signals, indicative of small explosions at the summit, were recorded on 3 April, but tremors had ceased by the next day. On 6 April AVO noted no signs of ash emissions or lava effusion during the previous week, and seismicity was at low levels. Thermal anomalies at the summit were occasionally visible, though likely indicating cooling processes of previously erupted lava. AVO lowered the Aviation Color Code to Yellow and Volcano Alert Level to Advisory on 6 April. After two more weeks of no activity, the ACC was lowered to Green/Normal on 22 April 2016.

On 13 May 2016 the AVO raised the Aviation Color Code back to Orange as a result of increased seismicity typically associated with minor eruptive activity. Four minor ash eruptive episodes were inferred from seismic data between 13 and 16 May. On 14 May, local observers in Cold Bay reported ash emissions below 5 km in the vicinity of the volcano. According to the Anchorage VAAC, on 15 May a minor eruption was noted on the Cold Bay web camera, but volcanic ash was not visible in satellite data. Elevated surface temperatures were detected in satellite data on 15 May. Periods of elevated volcanic tremor and a small explosion associated with minor ash emissions was noted on 17 May; observers in Cold Bay and Sand Point (90 km E) reported ash emissions interspersed with steam emissions. The Anchorage VAAC noted that strong winds caused resuspension of volcanic ash on the lee side of Pavlof on 17 and 18 May. The AVO lowered the ACC to Yellow on 20 May and noted that all volcanic ash clouds produced during the 13-17 May event were below 4.5 km altitude, and that no lava effusion or fountaining was detected. Weak seismic tremor and small explosions were observed on 21 May, after which activity ceased. The AVO lowered the ACC to Green on 17 June.

Seismic activity increased again on 30 June for about a week, prompting the AVO to raise the ACC to Yellow on 1 July 2016; minor steam emissions were also observed in the web camera. AVO technicians installed a new web camera in the Black Hills area north of the volcano near the Bering Sea coast in early July. On 11 July, weakly elevated surface temperatures were observed at the summit in satellite imagery and a steam and gas cloud extended SW for about 80 km. Minor ash emissions reaching a few tens of meters above the summit were observed that afternoon extending a few kilometers to the SW. Small ash emissions were again observed on 18 July along with an increase in seismic tremor for about 48 hours.

On 28 July a low-intensity eruption with vigorous degassing produced a steam-rich plume and minor ash emissions. As a result, the AVO raised the ACC to Orange. The drifting steam and ash cloud was below 4.6 km above sea level and dissipated rapidly. The Anchorage VAAC reported steam and minor ash emissions continuing through 30 July.

A decline in activity led AVO to lower the ACC to Yellow on 4 August. Periods of low-amplitude tremor continued, but no plumes or thermal signals at the summit were detected. Elevated surface temperatures at the summit were observed in satellite data on 8 August, and a low-level but persistent steam plume was visible in web camera images on 11 August. A large steam plume was noted by observers in Sand Point on 15 August. Elevated surface temperatures were detected through cloud cover in satellite data on 20 and 25 August. Low-level unrest continued through the fall with persistent degassing from the summit and elevated surface temperatures detected in satellite data. A robust steam plume on 31 August reached 4.6 km, but there was no evidence of ash and it dissipated rapidly.

Several times during late September during clear views, webcam images showed a persistent steam plume from the summit crater. Elevated surface temperatures in the summit crater were observed in satellite images on 25, 28, and 29 September, and again during 4-6, 13-14, and 16 October. In early November, the AVO determined that the summit crater was larger and more centrally located than before, as a result of the March 2016 explosion. The new crater geometry possibly allowed satellite sensors to more easily detect emissions of hot gases from the vent. Ongoing observations of moderately elevated surface temperatures (figure 16) likely reflect this change in the crater, and do not indicate new eruptive activity or rising magma. Seismicity remained slightly above background levels through the end of 2016, and the ACC remained at Yellow.

Geologic Background. The most active volcano of the Aleutian arc, Pavlof is a 2519-m-high Holocene stratovolcano that was constructed along a line of vents extending NE from the Emmons Lake caldera. Pavlof and its twin volcano to the NE, 2142-m-high Pavlof Sister, form a dramatic pair of symmetrical, glacier-covered stratovolcanoes that tower above Pavlof and Volcano bays. A third cone, Little Pavlof, is a smaller volcano on the SW flank of Pavlof volcano, near the rim of Emmons Lake caldera. Unlike Pavlof Sister, Pavlof has been frequently active in historical time, typically producing Strombolian to Vulcanian explosive eruptions from the summit vents and occasional lava flows. The active vents lie near the summit on the north and east sides. The largest historical eruption took place in 1911, at the end of a 5-year-long eruptive episode, when a fissure opened on the N flank, ejecting large blocks and issuing lava flows.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667 USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/ ), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://www.dggs.alaska.gov/); Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Alaska Aviation Weather Unit, NWS NOAA US Dept of Commerce, 6930 Sand Lake Road, Anchorage, AK 99502-1845(URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/index.html); NASA Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/); Colt Snapp (https://twitter.com/colt_snapp/status/714345047173369856 ); The Canadian Press, via Vancouver Observer (URL: http://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/environment/flights-cancelled-and-out-regina-yellowknife-after-volcano-alaska); NBC News (URL: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/weather/pavlof-volcano-erupts-covering-400-miles-alaska-ash-n546956).

Poas (Costa Rica) — March 2017 Citation iconCite this Report


Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Phreatic explosions from the crater lake in June-August 2016

Poás is characterized by intermittent explosions from its hot crater lake. Several occurred in 2014 (BGVN 40:11). This report covers activity from 1 January 2015 through February 2017. There were no reports of activity during 2015 through May 2016. Phreatic eruptions were recorded between 5 June and 16 August 2016.

According to news articles (La Prensa Libre, Prensa Latina), phreatic explosions from the hot crater lake occurred multiple times in June 2016. Explosions at 0900 on 5 June, at 1854 on 13 June, and at 1952 on 14 June ejected water and steam many meters above the lake's surface. Three small explosions, lasting about five seconds each based on the seismic signals, occurred during 0600-0603 on 18 June and ejected water, steam, and debris no more than 50 m above the lake's surface. Phreatic explosions were also registered on 19 June.

According to the Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), a small phreatic explosion from the lake was recorded at 0819 on 25 July 2016. The explosion ejected material 50 m above the lake surface.

News accounts (Q Costa Rica, La Prensa Libre) reported that at 1409 local time on 16 August 2016 an explosion sent a column of gas to a height of 100 m above the crater; the activity lasted 2 minutes. An OVSICORI-UNA video of this explosion was posted in the news articles.

Geologic Background. The broad, well-vegetated edifice of Poás, one of the most active volcanoes of Costa Rica, contains three craters along a N-S line. The frequently visited multi-hued summit crater lakes of the basaltic-to-dacitic volcano, which is one of Costa Rica's most prominent natural landmarks, are easily accessible by vehicle from the nearby capital city of San José. A N-S-trending fissure cutting the 2708-m-high complex stratovolcano extends to the lower northern flank, where it has produced the Congo stratovolcano and several lake-filled maars. The southernmost of the two summit crater lakes, Botos, is cold and clear and last erupted about 7500 years ago. The more prominent geothermally heated northern lake, Laguna Caliente, is one of the world's most acidic natural lakes, with a pH of near zero. It has been the site of frequent phreatic and phreatomagmatic eruptions since the first historical eruption was reported in 1828. Eruptions often include geyser-like ejections of crater-lake water.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/); La Prensa Libre (URL: https://www.laprensalibre.cr/); Prensa Latina (URL: http://www.plenglish.com/); Q Costa Rica News (URL: http://qcostarica.com/).

Soputan (Indonesia) — March 2017 Citation iconCite this Report



1.112°N, 124.737°E; summit elev. 1785 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Ash plumes to over 12 km altitude, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and Strombolian activity during January-February 2016

Soputan stratovolcano on the northern tip of Indonesia's island of Sulawesi has had historically observed eruptions since the 18th century, possibly earlier. The locus of eruptions has included both the summit crater and a NE-flank vent that was active during 1906-1924. Since the 1980's, continuing lava-dome growth has been punctuated by ash explosions, lava flows, and Strombolian eruptions every few years. When these events last occurred between January and March 2015, they were accompanied by strong thermal anomalies and elevated seismicity which continued into early July 2015 (BGVN 41:05). This report covers the period from July 2015 through September 2016.

Increased seismicity in November 2015 signaled the beginning of a new eruptive episode, with explosions in January and February 2016. Soputan is monitored by PVMBG (Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi), Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB) which is the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency, and aviation alerts are managed by the Darwin VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center). Information is also provided by the University of Hawaii's MODVOLC Thermal Alert System and the MIROVA project, an Italian collaboration; both groups analyze the MODIS satellite data for thermal anomalies related to volcanoes.

Soputan erupted a significant ash plume to over 12 km altitude on 4 January 2016 after a few months of increasing seismicity. Lava flows, Strombolian eruptions, and a pyroclastic flow were observed the next day. Another large ash plume to 13 km altitude occurred on 14 January. A series of explosions beginning on 6 February resulted in more ash plumes, lava flows, and Strombolian eruptions for about 24 hours, after which activity decreased significantly. Several villages within 20 km reported ashfall from these events. The last reported activity was on 7 February 2016, although thermal anomaly data extended well into April. Seismicity had declined significantly by mid-April when the Alert Level was lowered.

Activity during July-November 2015. PVMBG lowered the Alert Level to II (second lowest on a four-level scale) on 3 July 2015, citing reduced harmonic tremor and stable RSAM (Real-time Seismic amplitude measurements) at background levels compared with the eruptive activity between January and March 2015. They did not issue another update until 3 November 2015.

MODVOLC thermal alert information from MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) satellite data indicated anomalies in the vicinity of Soputan twice in September and four times in October 2015, but the locations were far enough from the volcano to suggest that they were not related to volcanic activity. This is corroborated with the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) data from this same period which also recorded increases in Volcanic Radiative Power (VRP) in September and October. The locations indicated by MIROVA are mostly greater than 5 km from the summit, also suggesting a non-volcanic source (figure 12).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. MIROVA analysis of MODIS data for 6 September 2015 through 6 September 2016 for Soputan. Moderate to High values in September and October 2015 are noted in black, indicating sources more than 5 km from the volcano and likely not related to eruptive activity. Low values in blue between 6 September and mid-December are from an unknown source within 5 km of the summit. The spikes on 4-6 January 2016 and 6-8 February correspond to observed ash plumes, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and Strombolian eruptions reported by PVMBG. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Additional thermal anomaly signals in the MIROVA data from mid-September through early December 2015 appear to be sourced within 5 km of the summit (figure 12), but their origin is unknown. PVMBG makes no mention of active eruptions or ash plumes during this time. PVMBG maintained the Level II alert status and documented clear skies with diffuse white steam plumes rising between 20 and 200 m from the summit crater during the last half of October and November, unchanged since July. They noted, however, that the frequency of several types of earthquakes began a gradual increase in the middle of October.

Activity during January-September 2016. Elevated seismicity continued until 4 January 2016. Photos taken on 3 and 4 January showed an increase in the density of the white-to-light-gray emissions rising to 300 m above the summit (figure 13).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Emissions (white to light-gray) rise from Soputan on 3 January 2016, about 24 hours prior to a significant ash eruption (colors adjusted from original image). Courtesy of PVMBG (Soputan activity report through 4 January 2016).

Dense reddish-white emissions rose 300 m above the summit early in the day on 4 January. A thermal image taken that day indicated that lava was present at the summit; PVMBG raised the Alert Level to III. Seismic amplitude (RSAM) values had also increased sharply in the preceding 12 hours, and tilt measurement data indicated significant inflation of the volcano. BNPB reported an ash eruption at 2053 local time, with a plume rising 2 km from the summit and drifting SE, and incandescent lava flowing down the E flank. Minor ashfall was reported in Langowan (12 km NE) in the Minahasa District. The Darwin VAAC raised the Aviation Color Code (ACC) to Red at 2230 local time and reported an ash plume at 12.8 km altitude drifting west 30 minutes later. This was followed in the next 24 hours by two more plumes that rose to 10.6 km and drifted NW to NE (figure 14). Continuous emissions rising to about 3.7 km were observed until early 7 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Soputan eruption during the morning hours of 5 January 2016 (local time). Photograph location uncertain but likely taken in the vicinity of Ronoketang, about 12 km S. Courtesy of PVMBG.

A Strombolian phase early on 5 January lasted about 40 minutes and sent incandescent material 250 m high, according to BNPB. Sounds resembling thunder followed, and then a pyroclastic flow traveled 2.5 km down the ENE flank. An ash cloud rose 6.5 km above the summit crater rim (8.3 km altitude) and drifted W. Several villages in the districts of West Langowan (8 km E), Tompaso (11 km NE), and East Ratahan (14 km SE) reported ashfall.

MODVOLC thermal alert pixels likely associated with the eruption were reported during 6-8 January. A small cluster on 10 January located on the NE flank possibly indicated flowing or cooling lava. The Darwin VAAC reported another large ash plume on 14 January that rose to 13.7 km and drifted 45 km NE before dissipating.

A new series of explosions began on 6 February 2016. Ash plumes rose to 7 km altitude, later dropping to the range of 4.3-6 km, with continuous emissions drifting up to 75 km WSW through the next day. PVMBG reported lava flows on the N and E flanks; Strombolian explosions witnessed from the observation post in the village of Silian (about 10 km from the volcano) ejected material 300 m high. BNPB reported Strombolian activity on 7 February with ejected material as high as 1,000 m above the summit crater. Pyroclastic flows were also observed moving up to 2 km down the E flank. Seismic amplitudes remained high, indicating the active movement of magma within the volcano. Ashfall was reported in multiple districts including Pasan (5 km SSE), Tombatu (16 km SSW), Belang (17 km SSE), and Ratatotok (20 km S). The MODIS thermal anomaly data resulted in a very strong (32 pixel) MODVOLC thermal alert on 6 February. This corresponded with the Volcanic Radiative Power (VRP) spike presented in the MIROVA information for the same period (figure 12).

For the rest of February, only diffuse white steam plumes rose 75 m, except for a 700-m-high plume reported on 12 February by PVMBG; three MODVOLC thermal alert pixels were recorded on 11 and one on 13 February. Minor steam emissions rose to 100 m at the end of March, but the frequency of earthquakes associated with avalanches and low-frequency earthquakes were still elevated above background levels. The intensity of the avalanche-related earthquakes began to decline in the second week in April according to PVMBG. No incandescence was observed at the summit by the third week of April, and the decreasing frequency and amplitude of the earthquakes led PVMBG to lower the Alert Level to II on 21 April 2016. Between May and mid-September 2016, emissions from the volcano were characterized by white plumes of variable density ranging from 20 to 300 m above the crater and seismicity remained low (figure 15). The Alert Level remained at II.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Seismicity at Soputan from 1 January 2015 through 14 September 2016. Dates of eruptive events are shown with red bars. Vertical axis on all graphs is daily frequency. LETUSAN is eruption, vertical axis on the right is height in meters above summit of ash plume observed by PVMBG; HEMBUSAN is emission related seismicity; GUGURAN is seismicity associated with rock avalanches; VULKANIK DANGKAL are shallow volcanic earthquakes; VULKANIK DALAM are deep volcanic earthquakes; TECTONIK JAUH are remote tectonic earthquakes. Courtesy of PVMBG (Soputan Report of activity through 14 September 2016).

Geologic Background. The Soputan stratovolcano on the southern rim of the Quaternary Tondano caldera on the northern arm of Sulawesi Island is one of Sulawesi's most active volcanoes. The youthful, largely unvegetated volcano rises to 1784 m and is located SW of Riendengan-Sempu, which some workers have included with Soputan and Manimporok (3.5 km ESE) as a volcanic complex. It was constructed at the southern end of a SSW-NNE trending line of vents. During historical time the locus of eruptions has included both the summit crater and Aeseput, a prominent NE-flank vent that formed in 1906 and was the source of intermittent major lava flows until 1924.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38 East Jakarta 13120, (URL: http://www.bnpb.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).

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 Atmospheric Effects

The enormous aerosol cloud from the March-April 1982 eruption of Mexico's El Chichón persisted for years in the stratosphere, and led to the Atmospheric Effects section becoming a regular feature of the Bulletin. Descriptions of the initial dispersal of major eruption clouds remain with the individual eruption reports, but observations of long-term stratospheric aerosol loading will be found in this section.

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 Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

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 Additional Reports

Reports are sometimes published that are not related to a Holocene volcano. These might include observations of a Pleistocene volcano, earthquake swarms, or floating pumice. Reports are also sometimes published in which the source of the activity is unknown or the report is determined to be false. All of these types of additional reports are listed below by subregion and subject.


False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Africa (northeastern) and Red Sea

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Africa (eastern)

False Report of Elgon Eruption

Kermadec Islands

Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion

Tonga Islands

Floating Pumice (Tonga)

Fiji Islands

Floating Pumice (Fiji)

New Britain


Andaman Islands

False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions

Sangihe Islands

1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake

Kawio Barat


False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Southeast Asia

Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong

Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu

Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)

Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands

Mikura Seamount

Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source

Kuril Islands

Possible 1988 Eruption Plume



Aleutian Islands

Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


False Report of New Volcano




La Lorenza Mud Volcano



Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)

False Report of Submarine Volcanism

Central Chile and Argentina

Estero de Parraguirre

West Indies

Mid-Cayman Spreading Center

Atlantic Ocean (northern)

Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone

Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands

Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge

 Special Announcements

Special Announcement Reports