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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.


Recently Published Bulletin Reports

Semisopochnoi (United States) Small explosions detected between 16 July and 24 August 2019

Krakatau (Indonesia) Repeated Surtseyan explosions with ash and steam during February-July 2019

Tengger Caldera (Indonesia) Ash emissions on 19 and 28 July 2019; lahar on the SW flank of Bromo

Unnamed (Tonga) Submarine eruption in early August creates pumice rafts that drifted west to Fiji

Popocatepetl (Mexico) Frequent explosions continue during March-August 2019

Semeru (Indonesia) Intermittent activity continues during March-August 2019; ash plumes and thermal anomalies

Saunders (United Kingdom) Intermittent activity most months, October 2018-June 2019; photographs during February and May 2019

Pacaya (Guatemala) Lava flows and Strombolian explosions continued during February-July 2019

Colima (Mexico) Renewed volcanism after two years of quiet; explosion on 11 May 2019

Masaya (Nicaragua) Lava lake activity declined during March-July 2019

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Occasional weak phreatic explosions during March-July 2019

Aira (Japan) Explosions with ejecta and ash plumes continue weekly during January-June 2019



Semisopochnoi (United States) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Semisopochnoi

United States

51.93°N, 179.58°E; summit elev. 1221 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small explosions detected between 16 July and 24 August 2019

The remote island of Semisopochnoi in the western Aleutians is dominated by a caldera measuring 8 km in diameter that contains a small lake (Fenner Lake) and a number of post-caldera cones and craters. A small (100 m diameter) crater lake in the N cone of Semisopochnoi's Cerberus three-cone cluster has persisted since January 2019. An eruption at Sugarloaf Peak in 1987 included an ash plume (SEAN 12:04). Activity during September-October 2018 included increased seismicity and small explosions (BGVN 44:02). The primary source of information for this reporting period of July-August 2019 comes from the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), when there were two low-level eruptions.

Seismicity rose above background levels on 5 July 2019. AVO reported that data from local seismic and infrasound sensors likely detected a small explosion on 16 July. A strong tremor on 17 July generated airwaves that were detected on an infrasound array 260 km E on Adak Island. In addition to this, a small plume extended 18 km WSW from the Cerberus vent, but no ash signals were detected in satellite data. Seismicity decreased abruptly on 18 July after a short-lived eruption. Seismicity increased slightly on 23 July and remained elevated through August.

On 24 July 2019 AVO reported that satellite data showed that the crater lake was gone and a new, shallow inner crater measuring 80 m in diameter had formed on the crater floor, though no lava was identified. Satellite imagery indicated that the crater of the Cerberus N cone had been replaced by a smooth, featureless area of either tephra or water at a level several meters below the previous floor. Satellite imagery detected faint steam plumes rising to 5-10 km altitude and minor SO2 emissions on 27 July. Satellite data showed a steam plume rising from Semisopochnoi on 18 August and SO2 emissions on 21-22 August. Ground-coupled airwaves identified in seismic data on 23-24 August was indicative of additional explosive activity.

Geologic Background. Semisopochnoi, the largest subaerial volcano of the western Aleutians, is 20 km wide at sea level and contains an 8-km-wide caldera. It formed as a result of collapse of a low-angle, dominantly basaltic volcano following the eruption of a large volume of dacitic pumice. The high point of the island is 1221-m-high Anvil Peak, a double-peaked late-Pleistocene cone that forms much of the island's northern part. The three-peaked 774-m-high Mount Cerberus volcano was constructed during the Holocene within the caldera. Each of the peaks contains a summit crater; lava flows on the northern flank of Cerberus appear younger than those on the southern side. Other post-caldera volcanoes include the symmetrical 855-m-high Sugarloaf Peak SSE of the caldera and Lakeshore Cone, a small cinder cone at the edge of Fenner Lake in the NE part of the caldera. Most documented historical eruptions have originated from Cerberus, although Coats (1950) considered that both Sugarloaf and Lakeshore Cone within the caldera could have been active during historical time.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667 USA (URL: https://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://dggs.alaska.gov/).


Krakatau (Indonesia) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

6.102°S, 105.423°E; summit elev. 813 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Repeated Surtseyan explosions with ash and steam during February-July 2019

Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, Indonesia experienced a major caldera collapse around 535 CE; it formed a 7-km-wide caldera ringed by three islands. Remnants of this volcano joined to create the pre-1883 Krakatau Island which collapsed during the major 1883 eruption. Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau), constructed beginning in late 1927 within the 1883 caldera (BGVN 44:03, figure 56), was the site of over 40 smaller episodes until 22 December 2018 when a large explosion and tsunami destroyed most of the 338-m-high edifice (BGVN 44:03). Subsequent activity from February-July 2019 is covered in this report with information provided by the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, referred to as Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG). Aviation reports are provided by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and photographs from several social media sources.

The cyclical nature of the growth and destruction of Krakatau was made apparent again in the explosive events of 22 December 2018-6 January 2019, when much of the island of Anak Krakatau was destroyed in a series of events that included a deadly tsunami from a flank collapse, a Vulcanian explosion, and several days of Surtseyan phreatomagmatic activity (figure 83) (Gouhier and Paris, 2019). Due to the location of the volcano in the middle of Sunda Strait, surrounded by coastal communities, damage from the tsunami was once again significant; over 400 fatalities and 30,000 injuries were reported along with damage to thousands of homes, businesses, and boats (figure 84) (BGVN 44:03). After a small explosion on 8 January 2019, the volcano remained quiet until 14 February when a new seismic event was recorded. Intermittent explosions increased in frequency and continued through July 2019; images of Surtseyan explosions with ejecta and steam rising a few hundred meters were occasionally captured by authorities patrolling the Krakatau Islands Nature Preserve and Marine Nature Reserve (KPHK), and by a newly installed webcam.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. The dramatic morphologic changes of Anak Krakatau before and after the explosive events of 22 December 2019-6 January 2019 were apparent in these Planet Labs, Inc. images published by the BBC. Left: Planet Lab's Dove satellite captured this clear image of the 338-m-high cone with a summit crater on 17 December 2018. Center: The skies cleared enough on 30 December to reveal the new crater in place of the former cone after the explosions and tsunami of 22-23 December, and multiple subsequent explosions. Right: Surtseyan explosions continued daily through 6 January; Planet Labs captured this event on 2 January 2019. Courtesy of BBC and Planet Labs, Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. The location of Anak Krakatau in the middle of Sunda Strait surrounded by populated coastal communities (left) places great risk on those communities from explosive events and tsunamis at the volcano, such as what occurred during the 22 December 2018-6 January 2019 destruction of Anak Krakatau. The village of Tanjung in South Lampung (right) was especially hard hit. Map courtesy of BBC News, and photo courtesy of Daily Mail.

Three explosions were reported on 14, 18, and 23 February. No ash plume was observed on 14 February. The event on 18 February produced a dense gray ash plume that rose 720 m and drifted SSW. On 23 February the plume was white and rose 500 m, drifting ENE. During most days, no emissions were observed; occasional plumes of steam rose 50-100 m above the crater. Authorities visited the island on 15 February and observed the new crater lake and ash-covered flank of the remnant cone (figure 85 and 86).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. The denuded slope and new crater at Anak Krakatau on 15 February 2019. Bright orange discoloration of the water on the W side of the volcano is from recent iron-rich discharge. The new summit was measured at 155 m high. Verlaten Island is in the background. Courtesy of Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. The new crater at Anak Krakatau on 15 February 2019. Fumarolic activity is visible in the narrow strip between the crater and the bay; bright orange discoloration of the water on the W side of the volcano is from recent iron-rich discharge. Courtesy of Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB.

Activity increased during March 2019 with 14 seismic events recorded. Four events on 14 March were reported, with durations ranging from 30 seconds to 4 minutes; neither ash nor steam plumes were reported from these events. Events on 16, 17, and 18 March produced N-drifting white steam plumes that were reported at altitudes of 1.2 km, 650 m, and 350 m, respectively (figure 87). Multiple additional explosions were reported on 24, 30, and 31 March; dense white plumes drifted NE on 30 and 31 March. Nearby rangers for the KPHK who witnessed the explosions on 30 March reported material rising 500-1,000 m above the crater (figure 88). The duration of the seismic events associated with the explosions ranged from 40 seconds to 5 minutes during the second half of March. PVMBG lowered the Alert Level from III to II on 25 March, noting that while explosions continued, the intensity and frequency had decreased; none of the explosions were heard at the Pasauran-Banten (SE) or Kalianda-Lampung (NE) stations that were each about 50 km away.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. An eruption at Krakatau on 18 March 2019 produced a steam plume that rose several hundred meters, barely visible from a community across the strait. Courtesy of Oystein Anderson and PVMBG.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. White steam and dark ejecta were observed at Anak Krakatau during an explosion on 30 March 2019 by the local patrol team from BKSDA Bengkulu-Ministry of LHK, which manages the Krakatau Islands Nature Preserve and Marine Nature Reserve. Courtesy of Krakatau Islands KPHK.

Although the number of reported seismic events increased significantly during April and May 2019, with 22 VONA's issued during April and 41 during May, only a single event had witnessed evidence of ejecta on 3 April (figure 89). The KPHK patrol that monitors conditions on the islands observed the first plant life returning on Sertung Island (5 km W of Anak Krakatau) on 5 April 2019, emerging through the several centimeters of fresh ash from the explosions and tsunami in late December and early January (figure 90). A 200-m-high steam plume was observed on 14 April, and plumes drifted NE and E on 27 and 29 April.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Rangers for KPHK photographed a Surtseyan explosion with tephra and steam at Anak Krakatau on 3 April 2019. Courtesy of Krakatau Islands KPHK.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. A new plant on nearby Sertung Island emerges on 5 April 2019 through several centimeters of fresh ash from the Anak Krakatau explosions of December 2018 and January 2019. Courtesy of Krakatau Islands KPHK.

Members of an expedition to the island on 4 May 2019 photographed the still-steaming lake inside the new crater and the eroding ash-covered slopes (figure 91). Only the explosions on 10 and 17 May produced visible steam plumes that month, to 300-350 m high. By 15 May 2019 a new station had been installed at Anak Krakatau by PVMBG (figure 92). Four separate seismic events were recorded that day. Fog covered the island on a daily basis, and very few visible steam plumes were reported throughout April and May. The durations of the explosion events ranged from 30 seconds to 13 minutes (on 10 May); most of the events lasted for 1-2 minutes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Members of an expedition photographed the water-filled crater and ash-laden slopes of Anak Krakatau on 4 May 2019. Top image is looking S with Rakata island in the background, bottom image is looking W from the flank of the cone remnant. Photo by Galih Jati, courtesy of Volcano Discovery.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. By 15 May 2019 a new seismic station had been installed at Anak Krakatau by PVMBG. Four separate seismic events were recorded on 15 May 2019. Courtesy of Krakatau Islands KPHK.

Nine explosive events were reported during June 2019, but none produced visible steam or ash plumes until 25 June when a PVMBG webcam placed on Anak Krakatau captured a video of a Surtseyan event that lasted for about one minute. Dark gray ejecta shot tens of meters into the air over the lake, accompanied by billowing steam plumes which soon engulfed the webcam (figure 93). The other explosive events during March-July were likely similar, but frequent fog and the short-lived nature of the events made visual evidence scarce from webcams located 50 km away. During July there were 21 VONAs issued reporting similar seismic events that lasted from 30 seconds to 5 minutes; no plumes or sounds were seen or heard.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. Dark gray ejecta and billowing steam plumes were captured by a newly installed PVMBG webcam during an explosion at Anak Krakatau on 25 June 2019. The water-laden ash rose tens of meters and scattered ejecta around the island. See Information Contacts for a link to the video. Courtesy of Devy Kamil Syahbana and PVMBG.

Satellite imagery provided solid evidence that activity at Anak Krakatau during February-July 2019 included underwater venting. Dark orange submarine plumes were visible drifting away from the SW flank of the volcano near the new crater multiple times each month (figure 94). The patterns of the plumes varied in size and intensity, suggesting repeated injections of material into the water. The thermal activity showed a marked decline from the period prior to the large explosions and tsunami on 22-23 December 2018. Very little thermal activity was reported during January-March 2019, it increased moderately during April-July 2019 (figure 95).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Dark orange plumes were visible in the seawater around Anak Krakatau during February-July 2019, strongly suggesting submarine discharges from the volcano. Top left: On 2 February 2019 the plume was discharging to the SW and visible in the water for nearly 10 km. Top center and right: on 29 March and 3 April the brightest areas of discharge were off the immediate SW flank; the plumes were drifting both NW and SE around the island. By 28 May (bottom left) the discharge was concentrated close to the SW flank with multiple underwater plumes suggesting several emission points. The only satellite image evidence suggesting a subaerial eruption appeared on 9 June (bottom center) when a dense steam plume rising and possible ejecta in the crater were visible. By 27 July (bottom right), discharge was still visible from the underwater vents on the SW flank, and the gradual filling in of the embayment on the W flank, when compared with the 2 February image, was clear. The island is about 2 km in diameter. Sentinel-2 satellite images with natural color rendering (bands 4,3,2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Thermal activity dropped abruptly at Anak Krakatau after the major flank collapse, explosions, and tsunami on 22-23 December 2018; it remained quiet through March and increased modestly during April-July 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

References: Gouhier, M, and Paris, R, 2019, SO2 and tephra emissions during the December 22, 2018 Anak Krakatau flank-collapse eruption, Volcanica 2(2): 91-103. doi: 10.30909/vol.02.02.91103.

Geologic Background. The renowned volcano Krakatau (frequently misstated as Krakatoa) lies in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. Collapse of the ancestral Krakatau edifice, perhaps in 416 or 535 CE, formed a 7-km-wide caldera. Remnants of this ancestral volcano are preserved in Verlaten and Lang Islands; subsequently Rakata, Danan, and Perbuwatan volcanoes were formed, coalescing to create the pre-1883 Krakatau Island. Caldera collapse during the catastrophic 1883 eruption destroyed Danan and Perbuwatan, and left only a remnant of Rakata. This eruption, the 2nd largest in Indonesia during historical time, caused more than 36,000 fatalities, most as a result of devastating tsunamis that swept the adjacent coastlines of Sumatra and Java. Pyroclastic surges traveled 40 km across the Sunda Strait and reached the Sumatra coast. After a quiescence of less than a half century, the post-collapse cone of Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau) was constructed within the 1883 caldera at a point between the former cones of Danan and Perbuwatan. Anak Krakatau has been the site of frequent eruptions since 1927.

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/); Krakatau Islands KPHK, Conservation Area Region III Lampung, BKSDA Bengkulu-Ministry of LHK, (URL: https://www.instagram.com/krakatau_ca_cal); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); 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/); BBC News, (URL: https://www.bbc.com, article at https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46743362); Planet Labs Inc. (URL: http://www.planet.com/); Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB (Twitter: @Sutopo_PN, URL: https://twitter.com/Sutopo_PN, image at https://twitter.com/Sutopo_PN/status/1101007655290589185/photo/1); Øystein Lund Andersen? (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: http://www.oysteinlundandersen.com, image at https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse/status/1107479025126039552/photo/1); Tom Pfeiffer, Volcano Discovery (URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/), images at https://www.volcanodiscovery.com/krakatau/news/80657/Krakatau-volcano-Indonesia-activity-update-and-field-report-increasing-unrest.html; Devy Kamil Syahbana, Volcanologist, Bandung, Indonesia, (URL: https://twitter.com/_elangtimur, video at https://twitter.com/_elangtimur/status/1143372011177033728); The Daily Mail (URL: https://www.dailymail.co.uk, article at https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6910895/FORTY-volcanoes-world-potential-Anak-Krakatoa-eruptions.html) published 11 April 2019.


Tengger Caldera (Indonesia) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Tengger Caldera

Indonesia

7.942°S, 112.95°E; summit elev. 2329 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash emissions on 19 and 28 July 2019; lahar on the SW flank of Bromo

The Mount Bromo pyroclastic cone within the Tengger Caldera erupts frequently, typically producing gas-and-steam plumes, ash plumes, and explosions (BGVN 44:05). Information compiled for the reporting period of May-July 2019 is from the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM) and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC).

The eruptive activity at Tengger Caldera that began in mid-February continued through late July 2019, including white-and-brown ash plumes, ash emissions, and tremors. During the months of May through June 2019, white plumes rose between 50 to 600 m above the summit. Satellite imagery captured a small gas-and-steam plume from Bromo on 5 June (figure 18). Low-frequency tremors were recorded by a seismograph from May through July 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Sentinel-2 satellite image showing a small gas-and-steam plume rising from the Bromo cone (center) in the Tengger Caldera on 5 June 2019. Thermal (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

According to PVMBG and a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA), an ash eruption occurred on 19 July 2019; however, no ash column was observed due to weather conditions. A seismograph recorded five earthquakes and three shallow volcanic tremors the same day. In addition, rainfall triggered a lahar on the SW flank of Bromo.

On 28 July the Darwin VAAC reported that ash plumes originating from Bromo rose to a maximum altitude of about 3.9 km and drifted NW from the summit, based on webcam images and pilot reports. PVMBG reported that lower altitude ash plumes (2.4 km) on the same day were also recorded by webcam images, satellite imagery (Himawari-8), and weather models.

Geologic Background. The 16-km-wide Tengger caldera is located at the northern end of a volcanic massif extending from Semeru volcano. The massive volcanic complex dates back to about 820,000 years ago and consists of five overlapping stratovolcanoes, each truncated by a caldera. Lava domes, pyroclastic cones, and a maar occupy the flanks of the massif. The Ngadisari caldera at the NE end of the complex formed about 150,000 years ago and is now drained through the Sapikerep valley. The most recent of the calderas is the 9 x 10 km wide Sandsea caldera at the SW end of the complex, which formed incrementally during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene. An overlapping cluster of post-caldera cones was constructed on the floor of the Sandsea caldera within the past several thousand years. The youngest of these is Bromo, one of Java's most active and most frequently visited volcanoes.

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/); 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/).


Unnamed (Tonga) — November 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Unnamed

Tonga

18.325°S, 174.365°W; summit elev. -40 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Submarine eruption in early August creates pumice rafts that drifted west to Fiji

Large areas of floating pumice, termed rafts, were encountered by sailors in the northern Tonga region approximately 80 km NW of Vava'u starting around 9 August 2019; the pumice reached the western islands of Fiji by 9 October (figure 7). Pumice rafts are floating masses of individual clasts ranging from millimeters to meters in diameter. The pumice clasts form when silicic magma is degassing, forming bubbles as it rises to the surface, which then rapidly cools to form solid rock. The isolated vesicles formed by the bubbles provide buoyancy to the rock and in turn, the entire pumice raft. These rafts are spread and carried by currents across the ocean; rafts originating in the Tonga area can eventually reach Australia. This report summarizes the pumice raft eruption from early August 2019 using witness accounts and satellite images (acquisition dates are given in UTC). Pending further research, the presumed source is the unnamed Tongan seamount (volcano number 243091) about 45 km NW of Vava'u, the origin of an earlier pumice raft produced during an eruption in 2001.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. The path of the pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount from 9 August to 9 October 2019 based on eye-witness accounts and satellite data discussed below, as well as additional Aqua/MODIS satellite images from NASA Worldview. Blue Marble MODIS/NASA Earth Observatory base map courtesy of NASA Worldview.

The first sighting of pumice was around 1430 on 9 August NW of Vava'u in Tonga (18° 22.068' S, 174° 50.800' W), when Shannon Lenz and Tom Whitehead on board SV Finely Finished initially encountered isolated rocks and smaller streaks of pumice clasts. The area covered by rock increasing to a raft with an estimated thickness of at least 15 cm that extended to the horizon in different directions, and which took 6-8 hours to cross (figure 8). There was no sulfur smell and the sound was described as a "cement mixer, especially below deck." There was also no plume or incandescence observed. Their video, posted to YouTube on 17 August, showed a thin surface layer of cohesive interconnected irregular streaks of pumice with the ocean surface still visible between them. Later footage showed a continuous, undulating mass of pumice entirely covering the ocean surface. Larger clasts are visible scattered throughout the raft. The pumice raft was visible in satellite imagery on this day NW of Late Island (figure 9). By 11 August the raft had evolved into a largely linear feature with smaller rafts to the SW (figure 10). Approximately four hours later, about 15 km to the WSW, Rachel Mackie encountered the pumice. Initially the pumice was "ribbons several hundred meters long and up to 20m wide. It was quite fine and like a slick across the surface of the water." By 2130 they were surrounded by the pumice, and around 25 km away the smell of sulfur was noted.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. The pumice raft from the unnamed Tongan seamount on 9 August 2019 taken by Shannon Lenz and Tom Whitehead on board SV Finely Finished. The photos show the pumice raft extending to the horizon in different directions. Scattered larger clasts protrude from the relatively smooth surface that entirely obscures the ocean surface. Courtesy of Shannon Lenz and Tom Whitehead via noonsite.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. The pumice raft from the unnamed Tongan seamount on 9 August 2019 (UTC) can be seen NW of Late Island of Tonga in this Aqua/MODIS satellite image. The dashed white line encompasses the visible pumice. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Courtesy of NASA WorldView.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. The Sentinel-2 satellite first imaged the pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount on 11 August 2019 (UTC). This image indicates the pumice distribution with the main raft towards the W and the easternmost area of pumice approximately 45 km away. The eastern tip of the pumice area is located approximately 30 km WNW of Lake islands in Tonga. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) Sentinel-2 satellite image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Michael and Larissa Hoult aboard the catamaran ROAM encountered the raft on 15 August (figure 11). They initially saw isolated clasts ranging from marble to tennis ball size (15-70 mm) at 18° 46′S, 174° 55'W. At around 0700 UTC (1900 local time) they noted the smell of sulfur at 18° 55′S, 175° 21′W, and by 0800 UTC they were immersed in the raft with visible clasts ranging from marble to basketball (25 cm) sizes. At this point the raft was entirely obscuring the ocean surface. On 16 and 21 August the pumice continued to disperse and drift NW (figures 12 and 13). On 20 August Scott Bryan calculated an average drift rate of around 13 km/day, with the pumice on this date about 164 km W of the unnamed seamount.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Images of pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount encountered by Michael and Larissa Hoult aboard the catamaran Roam on 15 August. Left: Larissa takes photographs with scale of pumice clasts; top right: a closeup of a pumice clast showing the vesicle network preserving the degassing structures of the magma; bottom left: Michael holding several larger pumice clasts. The location of their encounter with the pumice is shown in figure 7. Courtesy of SailSurfROAM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. The pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount (volcano number 243091) on 16 August 2019 UTC. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) Sentinel-2 satellite image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. On 21 August 2019 (UTC) the pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount (volcano number 243091) had drifted at least 120 km WNW of Late Island in Tonga. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) Sentinel-2 satellite image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

An online article published by Brad Scott at GeoNet on 9 September reported the preliminary size of the raft to be 60 km2, significantly smaller than the 2012 Havre seamount pumice raft that was 400 km2. Satellite identification of pumice-covered areas by GNS scientists showed the material moving SSW through 14 August (figure 14).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. A compilation of mapped pumice raft extents from 9 August (red line) through to 14 August (dark blue) from Suomi NPP, Terra, Aqua, and Sentinel-2 satellite images. The progression of the pumice raft is towards the SW. Courtesy of Salman Ashraf, GNS Science.

On 5 September the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) issued a notice to mariners stating that the pumice was sighted in the vicinity of Lakeba, Oneata, and Aiwa Islands and was moving to the W. On 6 September a Planet Labs satellite image shows pumice encompassing the Fijian island of Lakeba over 450 km W of the Tongan islands (figure 15). The pumice entered the lagoon within the barrier reef and drifted around the island to continue towards the W. The pumice was imaged by the Landsat 8 satellite on 26 September as it moved through the Fijian islands, approximately 760 km away from its source (figure 16). The pumice is segmented into numerous smaller rafts of varying sizes that stretch over at least 140 km. On 12 September the Fiji Sun reported that the pumice had reached some of the Lau islands and was thick enough near the shore for people to stand on it.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Planet Labs satellite images show Lakeba Island to the E of the larger Viti Levu Island in the Fiji archipelago. The top image shows the island on 7 July 2019 prior to the pumice raft from the unnamed Tongan seamount. The bottom image shows pumice on the sea surface almost entirely encompassing the island on 6 September. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Courtesy of Planet Labs.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Landsat 8 satellite images show the visible extent of the unnamed seamount pumice on 26 September 2019 (UTC), up to approximately 760 km from the Tongan islands. The pumice seen here extends over a distance of 140 km. The top image shows the locations of the other three images in the white boxes, with a, b, and c indicating the locations. White arrows point to examples of the light brown pumice rafts in these images, seen through light cloud cover. The island in the lower right is Koro Island, the island to the lower left is Viti Levu, and the island to the top right is Vanua Levu. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Landsat 8 true color-pansharpened satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub.

Pumice had reached the Yasawa islands in western Fiji by 29 September and was beginning to fill the eastern bays (figure 17). By 9 October bays had been filled out to 500-600 m from the shore, and pumice had also passed through the islands to continue towards the W (figure 18). At this point the pumice beyond the islands had broken up into linear segments that continued towards the NW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. These Sentinel-2 satellite images show the pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount drifting towards the Yasawa islands of Fiji. The 24 September 2019 (UTC) image shows the beaches without the pumice, the 29 September image shows pumice drifting westward towards the islands, and the 9 October image shows the bays partly filled with pumice out to a maximum of 500-600 m from the shore. These islands are approximately 850 km from the Tongan islands. The Yasawa islands coastline impacted by the pumice shown in these images stretches approximately 48 km. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. This Sentinel-2 satellite image acquired on 9 October 2019 (UTC) shows expanses of pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount that passed through the Yasawa islands of Fiji and was continuing NWW, seen in the center of the image. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub.

Geologic Background. A submarine volcano along the Tofua volcanic arc was first observed in September 2001. The newly discovered volcano lies NW of the island of Vava'u about 35 km S of Fonualei and 60 km NE of Late volcano. The site of the eruption is along a NNE-SSW-trending submarine plateau with an approximate bathymetric depth of 300 m. T-phase waves were recorded on 27-28 September 2001, and on the 27th local fishermen observed an ash-rich eruption column that rose above the sea surface. No eruptive activity was reported after the 28th, but water discoloration was documented during the following month. In early November rafts and strandings of dacitic pumice were reported along the coast of Kadavu and Viti Levu in the Fiji Islands. The depth of the summit of the submarine cone following the eruption determined to be 40 m during a 2007 survey; the crater of the 2001 eruption was breached to the E.

Information Contacts: GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/); Salman Ashraf, GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/, https://www.geonet.org.nz/news/8RnSKdhaWOEABBIh0bHDj); Brad Scott, New Zealand GeoNet Project, a collaboration between the Earthquake Commission and GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz/, https://www.geonet.org.nz/news/8RnSKdhaWOEABBIh0bHDj); Scott Bryan, School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences, Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, R Block Level 2, 204, Gardens Point (URL: https://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/scott.bryan); Shannon Lenz and Tom Whitehead, SV Finely Finished (URL: https://www.noonsite.com/news/south-pacific-tonga-to-fiji-navigation-alert-dangerous-slick-of-volcanic-rubble/, YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEsHLSFFQhQ); Michael and Larissa Hoult, Sail Surf ROAM (URL: https://www.facebook.com/sailsurfroam/); Rachel Mackie, OLIVE (URL: http://www.oliveocean.com/, https://www.facebook.com/rachel.mackie.718); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Fiji Sun (URL: https://fijisun.com.fj/2019/09/12/pumice-menace-hits-parts-of-lau-group/).


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent explosions continue during March-August 2019

The current eruptive period of Popocatépetl began on 9 January 2005 and it has since been producing frequent explosions accompanied by ash plumes, gas emissions, and ballistic ejecta that can impact several kilometers away from the crater, as well as dome growth and destruction. This activity continued through March-August 2019 with an increase in volcano alert level during 28 March-6 May. This report summarizes activity during this period and is based on information from Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and various webcam and remote sensing data.

An overflight on 28 February confirmed that dome 82, which was first observed on 14 February, was still present and was 200 m in diameter. During March there were 3,291 observed low-intensity emissions, and 33 larger explosions that produced ash plumes to a maximum height of 5 km, accompanied by near-continuous emission of water vapor and volcanic gases. Explosions ejected blocks that fell on the flanks out to 1.2-2 km on 1, 10, 13, 17, 26, 27, and 29 March. The events on the 17th and 27th resulted in vegetation fires. Frequent sulfur dioxide (SO2) plumes were detected by TropOMI (figure 130). An overflight on 7 March showed intense degassing and an ash plume at 1142, preventing visibility into the crater (figure 131). On 13 March Strombolian activity was observed for approximately 15 minutes at 0500, accompanied by incandescent ejecta that deposited mainly on the ESE flank.

An overflight on 15 March was taken by CENAPRED and UNAM personnel to observe changes to the crater after explosions on the 13th and 14th. They reported that dome 82 had been destroyed and the crater maintained its previous dimensions of 300 m in diameter and 130 m deep. An explosion on the 27th ejected incandescent rocks out to 2 km from the crater and produced a 3-km-high ash plume that dispersed to the NE. Ashfall was reported in Santa Cruz, Atlixco, San Pedro, San Andrés, Santa Isabel Cholula, San Pedro Benito Juárez, and in the municipalities of Puebla, Hueyapan, Tetela del Volcán, and Morelos.

On 28 March an explosion at 0650 generated a 2.5-km-high ash plume and ejecta out to 1 km from the crater, and a 130-minute-long event produced gas and ah plumes (figure 132). On this day the volcano alert level was increased from Yellow Phase 2 to Yellow Phase 3. On the 29th an ash plume rose to 3 km and was accompanied by ejecta that reached 2 km away from the crater. Later that day a 20-minute-long event produced ash and gas. During a surveillance flight on 30 March a view into the crater showed no dome present, and the crater size had increased to 350 m in width and 250-300 m in depth after recent explosions (figure 131). On this day Strombolian activity was also observed lasting for 14 minutes, producing an ash plume to 800 m and ejecta out to 300 m from the crater. Incandescence at the crater was often seen during nighttime throughout the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 130. Significant SO2 plumes at Popocatépetl detected by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite during 3-11 March 2019. SO2 plumes are frequently observed and these images show examples of plume drift directions on 3 March 2019 (top left), 6 March 2019 (top right), 7 March 2019 (bottom left), and 11 March 2019 (bottom right). Date, time, and measurements are provided at the top of each image. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 131. Activity at Popocatépetl and views of the crater during surveillance flights in March 2019. The top images show an ash plume (left) and a gas-and-steam plume (right) on 7 March. On 30 March (bottom left and right) no lava dome was observed in the crater, which was measured to be 350 m in diameter and 250-300 m deep. Courtesy of CENAPRED and Geophysics Institute of UNAM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 132. Explosive activity at Popocatépetl on 28 March 2019 producing ash plumes (top and bottom left) and ejecting incandescent ejecta out to 2 km from the crater at 1948. Courtesy of Carlos Sanchez/AFP (top), CENAPRED (bottom left and right), and Webcams de Mexico (bottom left).

There was a decrease in events during the next two months with 1,119 recorded low-intensity emissions and no larger ash explosions throughout April, followed by 1,210 low-intensity emissions and seven larger ash explosions through May (figure 133). Water vapor and volcanic gas emissions were frequently observed through this time and incandescence was observed some nights. A surveillance overflight on 26 April noted no new dome within the crater. On 6 May the alert level was lowered back to Yellow Phase 2. Another overflight on 9 May showed no change in the crater. An explosion at 1910 on 22 May produced an ash plume to 3.5 km above the crater with ashfall reported in Ozumba, Temamatla, Atlautla, Cocotitlán, Ayapango, Ecatzingo, Tenango del Aire and Tepetlixpa.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 133. Graph showing the number of daily ash explosions and low-intensity emissions at Popocatépetl during March-August 2019. There was a decrease in the number of events during April and March, with an increase from March onwards. Data courtesy of CENAPRED.

Through the month of June there were 2,820 low-intensity emissions and 21 larger ash explosions recorded. Gas emissions were observed throughout the month. Two explosions on 3 June produced ash plumes up to 3.5 and 2.8 km, with ejecta out to 2 km S during the first explosion. On 11 June an explosion produced an ash plume to 1 km above the crater and ballistic ejecta out to 1 km E. Observers on a surveillance overflight on the 12th reported no changes within the crater

Explosions with estimated plume heights of 5 km occurred on the 14th and 15th, with the latter producing ashfall in the municipalities of San Pablo del Monte, Tenancingo, Papantla, San Cosme Mazatencocho, San Luis Teolocholco, Acuamanala, Nativitas, Tepetitla, Santa Apolonia Teacalco, Santa Isabel Tetlatlahuaca, and Huamantla, in the state of Tlaxcala, as well as in Nealtican, San Nicolás de los Ranchos, Calpan, San Pedro Cholula, Juan C. Bonilla, Coronango, Atoyatempan, and Coatzingo, in the state of Puebla.

On 17 June an explosion produced an ash plume that reached 8 km above the crater and dispersed towards the SW. An ash plume rising 2.5 km high was accompanied by incandescent ejecta impacting a short distance from the crater on the 21st, and another ash plume reached 2.5 km on the 22nd. Explosions on 26, 29, and 30 June resulted in ash plumes reaching 1.5 km above the crater and ballistic ejecta impacting on the flanks out to 1 km.

For the month of July there was an increased total of 5,637 recorded low-intensity emissions, and 173 larger ash explosions (figure 134). On 8 July an explosion produced ballistic ejecta out to 1.5 km and an ash plume up to 1 km above the crater. An ash plume up to 2.6 km was produced on the 12th. On 19 July a surveillance overflight observed a new dome (dome 83) with a diameter of 70 m and a thickness of 15 m (figure 135). Explosions on 20 July produced ashfall, and minor explosions that ejected incandescent ballistics onto the slopes. An event on the 24th produced an ash plume that reached 1.2 km, and ash plumes the following day reached 1 km. An overflight on 27 July confirmed that these explosions destroyed dome 83, and the crater dimensions remained the same (figure 136). The following day, ash plumes reached up to 1.6 km above the crater, and up to 2 km on the 29th. Minor ashfall was reported in the municipality of Ozumba on 30 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 134. Examples of ash plumes at Popocatépetl on 1 July (top left), 18 July (top right and bottom left), and 30 July (bottom right) 2019. In the night time image taken on 18 July hot rocks are visible on the flank. Webcam images courtesy of CENAPRED and Webcams de Mexico.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 135. A surveillance overflight at Popocatépetl on 19 July 2019 confirmed a new dome, dome number 83, with a width of 70 m and a thickness of 15 m. Courtesy of CENAPRED and Geophysics Institute of UNAM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 136. Photos of the summit crater of Popocatépetl taken during a surveillance flight on 27 July 2019 confirmed that the 83rd lava dome was destroyed by recent explosions and the crater maintained the same dimensions as previously measured. Courtesy of CENAPRED and Geophysics Institute of UNAM.

Throughout August the number of recorded events was higher than previous months, with 5,091 low-intensity emissions and 204 larger ash explosions (figure 137). Two explosions generated ash plumes and incandescent ejecta on 2 August, the first with a plume up to 1.5 km with ejecta impacting the slopes, and the second with an 800 m plume and ejecta landing back in the crater. Ashfall from the events was reported in in the municipalities of Tenango del Aire, Ayapango and Amecameca. On the 14th ashfall was reported in Juchitepec, Ayapango, and Ozumba. Explosions on 16 August produced ash plumes up to 2 km that dispersed to the WSW. Over the following two days ash plumes reached 1.2 km and resulted in ashfall in Cuernavaca, Tepoztlán, Tlalnepantla, Morelos, Ozumba, and Ecatzingo. Over 30-31 August ash plumes reached between 1-2 km above the crater and ashfall was reported in Amecameca, Atlautla, Ozumba, and Tlalmanalco. Incandescence was sometimes observed at the crater through the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 137. Ash plumes at Popocatépetl on 7 August (top) and 26 August 2019 (bottom). Courtesy of CENAPRED and Webcams de Mexico.

The MODVOLC algorithm for MODIS thermal anomalies registered thermal alerts through this period, with 22 in March, three in May, five in July, and one in August. The MIROVA system showed that the frequency of thermal anomalies at Popocatépetl was higher in March, sporadic in April and May, low in June, and had increased again in July and August (figure 138). Elevated temperatures were frequently visible in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite data when clouds and plumes were not covering the crater (figure 139).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 138. Thermal activity at Popocatépetl detected by the MIROVA system showed frequent anomalies in March, intermittent anomalies through April-May, low activity in June, and an increase in July-August 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 139. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images frequently showed elevated temperatures in the crater of Popocatépetl during March-August 2019, as seen in this representative image from 7 May 2019. Sentinel2- atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) scene courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Volcán Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, rises 70 km SE of Mexico City to form North America's 2nd-highest volcano. The glacier-clad stratovolcano contains a steep-walled, 400 x 600 m wide crater. The generally symmetrical volcano is modified by the sharp-peaked Ventorrillo on the NW, a remnant of an earlier volcano. At least three previous major cones were destroyed by gravitational failure during the Pleistocene, producing massive debris-avalanche deposits covering broad areas to the south. The modern volcano was constructed south of the late-Pleistocene to Holocene El Fraile cone. Three major Plinian eruptions, the most recent of which took place about 800 CE, have occurred since the mid-Holocene, accompanied by pyroclastic flows and voluminous lahars that swept basins below the volcano. Frequent historical eruptions, first recorded in Aztec codices, have occurred since Pre-Columbian time.

Information Contacts: Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED), Av. Delfín Madrigal No.665. Coyoacan, México D.F. 04360, México (URL: http://www.cenapred.unam.mx/); Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), University City, 04510 Mexico City, Mexico (URL: https://www.unam.mx/); 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/); 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/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://SO2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Webcams de Mexico (URL: http://www.webcamsdemexico.com/); Agence France-Presse (URL: http://www.afp.com/).


Semeru (Indonesia) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Semeru

Indonesia

8.108°S, 112.922°E; summit elev. 3657 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent activity continues during March-August 2019; ash plumes and thermal anomalies

The ongoing eruption at Semeru weakened in intensity during 2018, with occasional ash plumes and thermal anomalies (BGVN 44:04); this reduced but ongoing level of activity continued through August 2019. The volcano is monitored by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM) and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC). The current report summarizes activity from 1 March to 31 August 2019. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale from 1-4); the public was warned to stay 1 km away from the active crater and 4 km away on the SSE flank.

Based on analysis of satellite images, the Darwin VAAC reported that ash plumes rose to an altitude of 4-4.3 km on 19 April, 20 June, 10 July, and 13 July, drifting in various directions. In addition, PVMBG reported that at 0830 on 26 June an explosion produced an ash plume that rose around 600 m above the summit and drifted SW. A news article (Tempo.com) dated 12 August cited PVMBG as stating that the volcano had erupted 17 times since 8 August.

During March-August 2019 thermal anomalies were detected with the MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm only on 5 July and 22 August. No explosions were recorded on those two days. Scattered thermal anomalies within 5 km of the volcano were detected by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system, also based on analysis of MODIS data: one at the end of March and 3-6 hotspots over the following months, almost all of low radiative power. Satellite imagery intermittently showed thermal activity in the Jonggring-Seloko crater (figure 37), sometimes with material moving down the SE-flank ravine.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Sentinel-2 satellite images showing the persistent elevated thermal anomaly in the Jonggring-Seloko crater of Semeru were common through August 2019, as seen in this view on 20 July. Hot material could sometimes be identified in the SE-flank ravine. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Semeru, the highest volcano on Java, and one of its most active, lies at the southern end of a volcanic massif extending north to the Tengger caldera. The steep-sided volcano, also referred to as Mahameru (Great Mountain), rises above coastal plains to the south. Gunung Semeru was constructed south of the overlapping Ajek-ajek and Jambangan calderas. A line of lake-filled maars was constructed along a N-S trend cutting through the summit, and cinder cones and lava domes occupy the eastern and NE flanks. Summit topography is complicated by the shifting of craters from NW to SE. Frequent 19th and 20th century eruptions were dominated by small-to-moderate explosions from the summit crater, with occasional lava flows and larger explosive eruptions accompanied by pyroclastic flows that have reached the lower flanks of the volcano.

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/); 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/); 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/); 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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Tempo.com (URL: https://www.tempo.com/).


Saunders (United Kingdom) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Saunders

United Kingdom

57.8°S, 26.483°W; summit elev. 843 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent activity most months, October 2018-June 2019; photographs during February and May 2019

Historical observations of eruptive activity from the glacier-covered Mount Michael stratovolcano on Saunders Island in the South Sandwich Islands were not recorded until the early 19th century at this remote site in the southernmost Atlantic Ocean, and remain extremely rare. With the advent of satellite observation technology, indications of more frequent eruptive activity have become apparent. Vapor emission is frequently reported from the summit crater, and AVHRR and MODIS satellite imagery has revealed evidence for lava lake activity in the summit crater (Lachlan-Cope and others, 2001). Limited thermal anomaly data and satellite imagery indicated at least intermittent activity during May 2000-November 2013, and from November 2014 through April 2018 (Gray and others, 2019). Ongoing observations, including photographs from two site visits in February and May 2019 suggest continued activity at the summit during most months through May 2019, the period covered in this report. Information, in addition to on-site photographs, comes from MIROVA thermal anomaly data, NASA SO2 instruments, and Sentinel-2 and Landsat satellite imagery.

Near-constant cloud coverage for much of the year makes satellite data intermittent and creates difficulty in interpreting the ongoing nature of the activity. Gray and others (2019) concluded recently after a detailed study of shortwave and infrared satellite images that there was continued evidence for the previously identified lava lake on Mount Michael since January 1989. MIROVA thermal anomaly data suggest intermittent pulses of thermal energy in September, November, and December 2018, and April 2019 (figure 17). Satellite imagery confirmed some type of activity, either a dense steam plume, evidence of ash, or a thermal anomaly, each month during December 2018-March 2019. Sulfur dioxide anomalies were recorded in January, February, and March 2019. Photographic evidence of fresh ash was captured in February 2019, and images from May 2019 showed dense steam rising from the summit crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. MIROVA thermal anomaly data from 19 September 2018 through June 2019 showed sporadic, low-level pulses of thermal energy in late September, November, and December 2018, and April 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

After satellite imagery and thermal anomaly data in late September 2018 showed evidence for eruptive activity (BGVN 43:10, figure 16), a single thermal anomaly in MIROVA data was recorded in mid-November 2018 (figure 17). A rare, clear Sentinel-2 image on 2 December revealed a dense steam plume over the active summit crater; the steam obscured the presence of any possible thermal anomalies beneath (figure 18).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Sentinel-2 images of Mount Michael on Saunders Island on 2 December 2018 revealed a dense steam plume over the summit crater that was difficult to distinguish from the surrounding snow in Natural Color rendering (bands 4,3,2) (left), but was clearly visible in Atmospheric Penetration rendering (bands 12,11, 8a) (right). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Clear evidence of recent activity appeared on 1 January 2019 with both a thermal anomaly at the summit crater and a streak of ash on the snow (figure 19). Steam was also present within the summit crater. A distinct SO2 anomaly appeared in data from the TROPOMI instrument on 14 January (figure 20).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. A thermal anomaly and dense steam were recorded at the summit of Mount Michael on Saunders Island on 1 January 2019 in Sentinel-2 Satellite imagery with Atmospheric Penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a) (left). The same image shown with Natural Color rendering (bands 4,3,2) (right) shows a recent streak of brown particulates drifting SE from the summit crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. A distinct SO2 plume was recorded drifting NW from Saunders Island by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5-P satellite on 14 January 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Multiple sources of satellite data and sea-based visual observation confirmed activity during February 2019. SO2 emissions were recorded with the TROPOMI instrument on 10, 11, 15, and 16 February (figure 21). A Landsat image from 10 February showed a dense steam plume drifting NW from the summit crater, with the dark rim of the summit crater well exposed (figure 22). Sentinel-2 images in natural color and atmospheric penetration renderings identified a dense steam plume drifting S and a thermal anomaly within the summit crater on 15 February (figure 23). An expedition to the South Sandwich Islands between 15 February and 8 March 2019 sponsored by the UK government sailed by Saunders in late February and observed a stream of ash on the NNE flank beneath the cloud cover (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Faint but distinct SO2 plumes were recorded drifting away from Saunders Island in various directions on 10, 11, 15, and 16 February 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. The dark summit crater of Mount Michael on Saunders Island was visible in Landsat imagery on 10 February 2019. A dense steam plume drifted NW and cast a dark shadow on the underlying cloud cover. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. At the summit of Mount Michael on Saunders Island, Sentinel-2 images in Natural Color (bands 4,3,2) (left) and Atmospheric Penetration (bands 12, 11, 8a) (right) renderings identified a dense steam plume drifting S and a thermal anomaly within the summit crater on 15 February 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Recent ash covered the NNE flank of Mount Michael on Saunders Island in late February 2019 when observed by an expedition to the South Sandwich Islands sponsored by the UK government. Courtesy of Chris Darby.

Faint SO2 emissions were recorded twice during March 2019 (figure 25), and a dense steam plume near the summit crater was visible in Landsat imagery on 23 March (figure 26). Two thermal anomalies were captured in the MIROVA data during April 2019 (figure 17).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Faint SO2 plumes were recorded on 1 and 11 March 2019 emerging from Saunders Island. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. A dense steam plume drifted E from the summit crater of Mount Michael at Saunders Island on 25 March 2019. Landsat-8 image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

A volcano-related research project "SSIVOLC" explored the South Sandwich Islands volcanoes during 15 April-31 May 2019. A major aim of SSIVOLC was to collect photogrammetric data of the glacier-covered Mount Michael (Derrien and others, 2019). A number of still images were acquired on 17 and 22 May 2019 showing various features of the island (figures 27-30). The researchers visually observed brief, recurrent, and very weak glow at the summit of Mount Michael after dark on 17 May, which they interpreted as reflecting light from an active lava lake within the summit crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. The steep slopes of an older eroded crater on the E end of Saunders island in the 'Ashen Hills' shows layers of volcanic deposits dipping away from the open half crater. In the background, steam and gas flow out of the summit crater of Mount Michael and drift down the far slope. Drone image PA-IS-03 taken during 17-22 May 2019, courtesy of Derrien and others (2019) used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. A dense steam plume drifts away from the summit of Mount Michael on Saunders Island in this drone image taken during 17-22 May 2019. The older summit crater is to the left of the dark patch in the middle of the summit. North is to the right. Image SU-3 courtesy of Derrien and others (2019) used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. This close-up image of the summit of Mount Michael on Saunders Island shows steam plumes billowing from the summit crater, and large crevasses in the glacier covered flank, taken during 17-22 May 2019. The old crater is to the left. Image TL-SU-1 courtesy of Derrien and others (2019) used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. A dense plume of steam rises from the summit crater of Mount Michael on Saunders Island and drifts over mounds of frozen material during 17-22 May 2019. The older crater is to the left, and part of the Ashen Hills is in the foreground. Image TL-SU-2 courtesy of Derrien and others (2019) used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License.

References: Lachlan-Cope T, Smellie J L, Ladkin R, 2001. Discovery of a recurrent lava lake on Saunders Island (South Sandwich Islands) using AVHRR imagery. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 112: 105-116.

Gray D M, Burton-Johnson A, Fretwell P T, 2019. Evidence for a lava lake on Mt. Michael volcano, Saunders Island (South Sandwich Islands) from Landsat, Sentinel-2 and ASTER satellite imagery. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 379:60-71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.volgeores.2019.05.002.

Derrien A, Richter N, Meschede M, Walter T, 2019. Optical DSLR camera- and UAV footage of the remote Mount Michael Volcano, Saunders Island (South Sandwich Islands), acquired in May 2019. GFZ Data Services. http://doi.org/10.5880/GFZ.2.1..2019.003

Geologic Background. Saunders Island is a volcanic structure consisting of a large central edifice intersected by two seamount chains, as shown by bathymetric mapping (Leat et al., 2013). The young constructional Mount Michael stratovolcano dominates the glacier-covered island, while two submarine plateaus, Harpers Bank and Saunders Bank, extend north. The symmetrical Michael has a 500-m-wide summit crater and a remnant of a somma rim to the SE. Tephra layers visible in ice cliffs surrounding the island are evidence of recent eruptions. Ash clouds were reported from the summit crater in 1819, and an effusive eruption was inferred to have occurred from a N-flank fissure around the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. A low ice-free lava platform, Blackstone Plain, is located on the north coast, surrounding a group of former sea stacks. A cluster of parasitic cones on the SE flank, the Ashen Hills, appear to have been modified since 1820 (LeMasurier and Thomson, 1990). Analysis of satellite imagery available since 1989 (Gray et al., 2019; MODVOLC) suggests frequent eruptive activity (when weatehr conditions allow), volcanic clouds, steam plumes, and thermal anomalies indicative of a persistent, or at least frequently active, lava lake in the summit crater. Due to this observational bias, there has been a presumption when defining eruptive periods that activity has been ongoing unless there is no evidence for at least 10 months.

Information Contacts: 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/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Chris Darby (URL: https://twitter.com/ChrisDDarby, image at https://twitter.com/ChrisDDarby/status/1100686838568812544).


Pacaya (Guatemala) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava flows and Strombolian explosions continued during February-July 2019

Pacaya is one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala, with activity largely consisting of frequent lava flows and Strombolian activity at the Mackenney crater. This report summarizes continued activity during February through July 2019 based on reports by Guatemala's Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH) and Sistema de la Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), visiting scientists, and satellite data.

At the beginning of February activity included Strombolian explosions ejecting material up to 5 to 30 m above the Mackenney crater and a degassing plume up to 300 m. Multiple lava flows were observed throughout the month on the N, NW, and W flanks, reaching 350 m from the crater and resulting in avalanches from the flow fronts. Strombolian activity continued with sporadic to continuous explosions ejecting material 5-75 m above the Mackenney crater. Degassing produced plumes up to 300 m above the crater, and incandescence from the crater and lava flows were seen at night. Daniel Sturgess of Bristol University observed activity on the 24th, noting a 70-m-long lava flow with individual blocks from the front of the flow rolling down the flanks (figure 108). He reported that mild Strombolian explosions occurred every 10-20 minutes and ejected blocks, up to approximately 4 m in diameter, as high as 5-30 m above the crater and towards the northern flank.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. An active lava flow on the NW flank of Pacaya on 24 February 2019 with incandescence visible in lower light conditions. Courtesy of Daniel Sturgess, University of Bristol.

Similar activity continued through March with multiple lava flows reaching a maximum of 200 m N and NW, and avalanches descending from the flow fronts. Ongoing Strombolian explosions expelled material up to 75 m above the Mackenney crater. Degassing produced a white-blue plume to a maximum of 900 m above the crater (figure 109) and incandescence was noted some nights.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. A degassing plume at Pacaya reaching 350 m above the crater and dispersing to the S on 19 March 2019. Courtesy of CONRED.

During April lava flows continued on the N and NW flanks, reaching a maximum length of 300 m, with avalanches forming from the flow fronts. Degassing formed plumes up to 600 m above the crater that dispersed with various wind directions. Strombolian activity continued with explosions ejecting material up to 40 m above the crater. On the 2nd and 3rd weak rumbles were heard at distances of 4-5 km. Similar activity continued through May with lava flows reaching 300 m to the N, degassing producing plumes up to 600 m above the crater, and Strombolian explosions ejecting material up to 15 m above the crater.

Lava flows continued out to 300 m in length to the N and NW during June (figures 110 and 111). Strombolian activity ejected material up to 30 m above the crater and degassing resulted in plumes that reached 300 m. During July there were multiple active lava flows that reached a maximum of 300 m in length on the N and NW flanks (figure 112). Avalanches generated by the collapse of material at the front of the lava flows were accompanied by explosions ejecting material up to 30 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. An active lava flow on Pacaya on 9 June 2019 with incandescent blocks rolling down the flank from the flow front. Courtesy of Paul Wallace, University of Liverpool.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. Activity at Pacaya on 22 June 2019 with a degassing plume dispersed to the W and a 300-m-long lava flow. Photos by Miguel Morales, courtesy of CONRED.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. Two lava flows were active to the N and NW at Pacaya on 20 July 2019. Photos courtesy of CONRED.

During February through July multiple lava flows and crater activity were detected in Sentinel-2 satellite thermal images (figures 113 and 114) and relatively constant thermal energy was detected by the MIROVA system with a slight decrease in the energy and frequency of anomalies during June (figure 115). The thermal anomalies detected by the MODVOLC system for each month from February through July spanned 6-30, with six during June and 30 during April.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 113. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya show lava flows to the N and NW during February through April 2019. There was a reduction in visible activity in early March. False color (urban) satellite images (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 114. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya showing lava flow and hot avalanche activity during June and July 2019. False color (urban) satellite images (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 115. MIROVA log radiative power plot of MODIS thermal infrared at Pacaya during October 2018 through July 2019. Detected thermal energy is relatively stable with a decrease through June and subsequent increase during July. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. 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: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), Av. Hincapié 21-72, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://conred.gob.gt/www/index.php); 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/); 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/); Daniel Sturgess, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, United Kingdom (URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/earthsciences/); Paul Wallace, Department of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences, University of Liverpool, 4 Brownlow Street, Liverpool L69 3GP, United Kingdom (URL: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/environmental-sciences/staff/paul-wallace/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Colima (Mexico) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Colima

Mexico

19.514°N, 103.62°W; summit elev. 3850 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Renewed volcanism after two years of quiet; explosion on 11 May 2019

Frequent historical eruptions at Volcán de Colima date back to the 16th century and include explosive activity, lava flows, and large debris avalanches. The most recent eruptive episode began in January 2013 and continued through March 2017. Previous reports have covered activity involving ash plumes with extensive ashfall, lava flows, lahars, and pyroclastic flows (BGVN 41:01 and 42:08). In late April 2019, increased seismicity related to volcanic activity began again. This report covers activity through July 2019. The primary source of information was the Centro Universitario de Estudios e Investigaciones de Vulcanologia, Universidad de Colima (CUEIV-UdC).

On 11 May 2019, CUEIV-UdC reported an explosion that was recorded by several monitoring stations. A thermal camera located south of Colima captured thermal anomalies associated with the explosion as well as intermittent degassing, which mainly consisted of water vapor (figure 131). A report from the Unidad Estatal de Protección Civil de Colima (UEPCC), and seismic and infrasound network data from CUEIV-UdC, recorded about 60 high-frequency events, 16 landslides, and 14 low-magnitude explosions occurring on the NE side of the crater during 11-24 May. Drone imagery showed fumarolic activity occurring on the inner wall of this crater on 22 May (figure 132).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 131. Gas emissions from Colima during the 11 May 2019 eruption as seen from the Naranjal station. Courtesy of CUEIV-UdC (Boletin Seminal de la Actividad del Volcan de Colima 17 mayo 2019 no 121).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 132. A drone photo showing fumarolic activity occurring within the NE wall of the crater at Colima on 22 May 2019. Courtesy of CUEIV-UdC (Boletin Seminal de la Actividad del Volcan de Colima 24 mayo 2019 no 122).

Small explosions and gas-and-steam emissions continued intermittently through mid-July 2019 concentrated on the NE side of the crater. An overflight on 9 July 2019 revealed that subsidence from the consistent activity slightly increased the diameter of the vent; other areas within the crater also showed evidence of subsidence and some collapsed material on the outer W wall (figure 133). During the weeks of 19 and 26 July 2019, monitoring cameras and seismic data recorded eight lahars.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 133. A drone photo of the crater at Colima on 8 July 2019 shows continuing fumarolic activity and evidence of a collapsed wall on the W exterior side. Courtesy of CUEIV-UdC (Boletin Seminal de la Actividad del Volcan de Colima 12 julio 2019 no 129).

Geologic Background. The Colima volcanic complex is the most prominent volcanic center of the western Mexican Volcanic Belt. It consists of two southward-younging volcanoes, Nevado de Colima (the 4320 m high point of the complex) on the north and the 3850-m-high historically active Volcán de Colima at the south. A group of cinder cones of late-Pleistocene age is located on the floor of the Colima graben west and east of the Colima complex. Volcán de Colima (also known as Volcán Fuego) is a youthful stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera, breached to the south, that has been the source of large debris avalanches. Major slope failures have occurred repeatedly from both the Nevado and Colima cones, and have produced a thick apron of debris-avalanche deposits on three sides of the complex. Frequent historical eruptions date back to the 16th century. Occasional major explosive eruptions (most recently in 1913) have destroyed the summit and left a deep, steep-sided crater that was slowly refilled and then overtopped by lava dome growth.

Information Contacts: Centro Universitario de Estudios e Investigaciones de Vulcanologia, Universidad de Colima (CUEIV-UdC), Colima, Col. 28045, Mexico; Centro Universitario de Estudios Vulcanologicos y Facultad de Ciencias de la Universidad de Colima, Avenida Universidad 333, Colima, Col. 28045, Mexico (URL: http://portal.ucol.mx/cueiv/); Unidad Estatal de Protección Civil, Colima, Roberto Esperón No. 1170 Col. de los Trabajadores, C.P. 28020, Mexico (URL: http://www.proteccioncivil.col.gob.mx/).


Masaya (Nicaragua) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

11.984°N, 86.161°W; summit elev. 635 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake activity declined during March-July 2019

Masaya, in Nicaragua, contains a lava lake found in the Santiago Crater which has remained active since its return in December 2015 (BGVN 41:08). In addition to this lava lake, previous volcanism included explosive eruptions, lava flows, and gas emissions. Activity generally decreased during March-July 2019, including the number and frequency of thermal anomalies, lava lake levels, and gas emissions. The primary source of information for this report comes from the Instituto Nicareguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER).

On 21 July 2019 a small explosion in the Santiago Crater resulted in some gas emissions and an ash cloud drifting WNW. In addition to the active lava lake (figure 77), monthly reports from INETER noted that thermal activity and gas emissions (figure 78) were decreasing.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Active lava lake visible in the Santiago Crater at Masaya on 27 June 2019. Photo by Sheila DeForest (Creative Commons BY-SA license).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Gas emissions coming from the Santiago Crater at Masaya on 29 June 2019. Photo by Sheila DeForest (Creative Commons BY-SA license).

On 15 May and 22 July 2019, INETER scientists used a FLIR SC620 thermal infrared camera to measure temperatures of fumaroles on the Santiago Crater. In May 2019 the temperature of fumaroles had decreased by 48°C since the previous month. Between May and July 2019 fumarole temperatures continued to decline; temperatures ranged from 90° to 136°C (figure 79). Compared to May 2019 these temperatures are 3°C lower. INETER reports that the level of the lava lake has been slowly dropping during this reporting period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. FLIR (forward-looking infrared) and visible images of the Santiago Crater at Masaya showing fumarole temperatures ranging from 90° to 136°C. The scale in the center shows the range of temperatures in the FLIR image. Courtesy of INETER (March 2019 report).

According to MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) data from MODIS satellite instruments, frequent thermal anomalies were recorded from mid-March through early May 2019, with little to no activity from mid-May to July 2019 (figure 80). Sentinel-2 thermal images show high temperatures in the active lava lake on 10 March 2019 (figure 81). Thermal energy detected by the MODVOLC algorithm showed 14 hotspot pixels with the most number of hotspots (7) occurring in March 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Thermal anomalies were relatively constant at Masaya from early September 2018 through early May 2019 and then abruptly decreased until mid-June 2019 as recorded by MIROVA. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image showing a detected heat signature from the active lava lake at Masaya on 10 March 2019. The lava lake is visible (bright yellow-orange). Approximate diameter of the crater containing the lava lake is 500 m. Thermal (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Masaya is one of Nicaragua's most unusual and most active volcanoes. It lies within the massive Pleistocene Las Sierras pyroclastic shield volcano and is 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 twin volcanoes of Nindirí and Masaya, the source of historical 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 6500 years ago. Historical lava flows cover much of the caldera floor and have confined a lake to the far eastern end of the caldera. A lava flow from the 1670 eruption overtopped the north caldera rim. Masaya has been frequently active since the time of the Spanish Conquistadors, when an active lava lake prompted attempts to extract the volcano's molten "gold." Periods of long-term vigorous gas emission at roughly quarter-century intervals cause health hazards and crop damage.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua (URL: http://www.ineter.gob.ni/); 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/); 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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Sheila DeForest (URL: https://www.facebook.com/sheila.deforest).


Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

10.83°N, 85.324°W; summit elev. 1916 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Occasional weak phreatic explosions during March-July 2019

The acid lake of Rincón de la Vieja's active crater has generated intermittent weak phreatic explosions regularly since 2011, continuing during the past year through at least August 2019. The volcano is monitored by the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), and the information below comes from its weekly bulletins between 4 March and 2 September 2019. Clouds often prevented webcam and satellite views. The current report describes activity from March through July 2019.

OVSICORI-UNA reported that weak events occurred on 19 March at 1851 and on 29 March 2019 at 2043. A two-minute-long phreatic explosion on 1 April at 0802 produced a plume that rose 600 m above the crater rim. Continuous emissions were visible during 3-4 April, rising 200 m above the crater rim. On 3 April, at 1437, a small explosion was detected. An explosion on 10 April at 0617 produced a gas-and-steam plume that rose 1 km above the crater rim and drifted SE. On 12 April at 0643, a plume rose 500 m. Another event took place at 0700 on 13 April, although poor weather conditions prevented visual observations. On 14 April, OVSICORI-UNA noted that aerial photographs showed a milky-gray acid lake at a relatively low water level with convection cells of several tens meters of diameter in the center and eastern parts of the lake.

According to an OVSICORI-UNA bulletin, a small phreatic explosion occurred on 1 May. Another explosion on 11 May at 0720 produced a white gas-and-steam plume that rose 600 m above the crater rim. Phreatic explosions were recorded on 14 May at 1703 and on 17 May at 0357, though dense fog prevented visual confirmation of both events with webcams. On 15 May a local observer noted a diffuse plume of steam and gas, material rising from the crater, and photographed milky-gray deposits on the N part of the crater rim ejected from the event the day before. A major explosion occurred on 24 May.

OVSICORI-UNA recorded a significant phreatic 10-minute-long explosion that began on 11 June at 0343, but plumes were not visible due to weather conditions. No further phreatic events were reported in July.

Seismic activity was very low during the reporting period, and there was no significant deformation. Short tremors were frequent toward the end of April, but were only periodic in May and June; tremor almost disappeared in July. A few long-period earthquakes were recorded, and volcano-tectonic earthquakes were even less frequent.

Geologic Background. Rincón de la Vieja, the largest volcano in NW Costa Rica, is a remote volcanic complex in the Guanacaste Range. The volcano consists of an elongated, arcuate NW-SE-trending ridge that was constructed within the 15-km-wide early Pleistocene Guachipelín caldera, whose rim is exposed on the south side. Sometimes known as the "Colossus of Guanacaste," it has an estimated volume of 130 km3 and contains at least nine major eruptive centers. Activity has migrated to the SE, where the youngest-looking craters are located. The twin cone of 1916-m-high Santa María volcano, the highest peak of the complex, is located at the eastern end of a smaller, 5-km-wide caldera and has a 500-m-wide crater. A plinian eruption producing the 0.25 km3 Río Blanca tephra about 3500 years ago was the last major magmatic eruption. All subsequent eruptions, including numerous historical eruptions possibly dating back to the 16th century, have been from the prominent active crater containing a 500-m-wide acid lake located ENE of Von Seebach crater.

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/, https://www.facebook.com/OVSICORI/).


Aira (Japan) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

31.593°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions with ejecta and ash plumes continue weekly during January-June 2019

Sakurajima rises from Kagoshima Bay, which fills the Aira Caldera near the southern tip of Japan's Kyushu Island. Frequent explosive and occasional effusive activity has been ongoing for centuries. The Minamidake summit cone has been the location of persistent activity since 1955; the Showa crater on its E flank has also been intermittently active since 2006. Numerous explosions and ash-bearing emissions have been occurring each month at either Minamidake or Showa crater since the latest eruptive episode began in late March 2017. This report covers ongoing activity from January through June 2019; the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) provides regular reports on activity, and the Tokyo VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center) issues tens of reports each month about the frequent ash plumes.

From January to June 2019, ash plumes and explosions were usually reported multiple times each week. The quietest month was June with only five eruptive events; the most active was March with 29 (table 21). Ash plumes rose from a few hundred meters to 3,500 m above the summit during the period. Large blocks of incandescent ejecta traveled as far as 1,700 m from the Minamidake crater during explosions in February and April. All the activity originated in the Minamidake crater; the adjacent Showa crater only had a mild thermal anomaly and fumarole throughout the period. Satellite imagery identified thermal anomalies inside the Minamidake crater several times each month.

Table 21. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Sakurajima's Minamidake crater in Aira caldera, January-June 2019. The number of events that were explosive in nature are in parentheses. No events were recorded at the Showa crater during this time. Data courtesy of JMA (January to June 2019 monthly reports).

Month Ash emissions (explosive) Max. plume height above crater Max. ejecta distance from crater
Jan 2019 8 (6) 2.1 km 1.1 km
Feb 2019 15 (11) 2.3 km 1.7 km
Mar 2019 29 (12) 3.5 km 1.3 km
Apr 2019 10 (5) 2.2 km 1.7 km
May 2019 15 (9) 2.9 km 1.3 km
Jun 2019 5 (2) 2.2 km 1.3 km

There were eight eruptive events reported by JMA during January 2019 at the Minamidake summit crater of Sakurajima. They occurred on 3, 6, 7, 9, 17, and 19 January (figure 76). Ash plume heights ranged from 600 to 2,100 m above the summit. The largest explosion, on 9 January, generated an ash plume that rose 2,100 m above the summit crater and drifted E. In addition, incandescent ejecta was sent 800-1,100 m from the summit. Incandescence was visible at the summit on most clear nights. During an overflight on 18 January no significant changes were noted at the crater (figure 77). Infrared thermal imaging done on 29 January indicated a weak thermal anomaly in the vicinity of the Showa crater on the SE side of Minamidake crater. The Kagoshima Regional Meteorological Observatory (KRMO) (11 km WSW) recorded ashfall there during four days of the month. Satellite imagery indicated thermal anomalies inside Minamidake on 7 and 27 January (figure 77).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Incandescent ejecta and ash emissions characterized activity from Sakurajima volcano at Aira during January 2019. Left: A webcam image showed incandescent ejecta on the flanks on 9 January 2019, courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, January 2019). Right: An ash plume rose hundreds of meters above the summit, likely also on 9 January, posted on 10 January 2019, courtesy of Mike Day.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. The summit of Sakurajima consists of the larger Minamidake crater and the smaller Showa crater on the E flank. Left: The Minamidake crater at the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 18 January 2019 seen in an overflight courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, March 2019). Right: Two areas of thermal anomaly were visible in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 27 January 2019. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity increased during February 2019, with 15 eruptive events reported on days 1, 3, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 17, 22, 24, and 27. Ash plume heights ranged from 600-2,300 m above the summit, and ejecta was reported 300 to 1,700 m from the crater in various events (figure 78). KRMO reported two days of ashfall during February. Satellite imagery identified thermal anomalies at the crater on 6 and 26 February, and ash plumes on 21 and 26 February (figure 79).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. An explosion from Sakurajima at Aira on 7 February 2019 sent ejecta up to 1,700 m from the Minamidake summit crater. Courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, February 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Thermal anomalies and ash emissions were captured in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 6, 21, and 26 February 2019 originating from Sakurajima volcano at Aira. Top: Thermal anomalies within the summit crater were visible underneath steam and ash plumes on 6 and 26 February (closeup of bottom right photo). Bottom: Ash emissions on 21 and 26 February drifted SE from the volcano. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The number of eruptive events continued to increase during March 2019; there were 29 events reported on numerous days (figures 80 and 81). An explosion on 14 March produced an ash plume that rose 3,500 m above the summit and drifted E. It also produced ejecta that landed 800-1,100 m from the crater. During an overflight on 26 March a fumarole was the only activity in Showa crater. KRMO reported 14 days of ashfall during the month. Satellite imagery identified an ash plume on 13 March and a thermal anomaly on 18 March (figure 82).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. A large ash emission from Sakurajima volcano at Aira was photographed by a tourist on the W flank and posted on 1 March 2019. Courtesy of Kratü.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. An ash plume from Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 18 March 2019 produced enough ashfall to disrupt the trains in the nearby city of Kagoshima according to the photographer. Image taken from about 20 km away. Courtesy of Tim Board.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. An ash plume drifted SE from the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 13 March (left) and a thermal anomaly was visible inside the Minamidake crater on 18 March 2019 (right). "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

A decline in activity to only ten eruptive events on days 7, 13, 17, 22, and 25 was reported by JMA for April 2019. An explosion on 7 April sent ejecta up to 1,700 m from the crater. Another explosion on 13 April produced an ash plume that rose 2,200 m above the summit. Most of the eruptive events at Sakurajima last for less than 30 minutes; on 22 April two events lasted for almost an hour each producing ash plumes that rose 1,400 m above the summit. Ashfall at KRMO was reported during seven days in April. Two distinct thermal anomalies were visible inside the Minamidake crater on both 12 and 27 April (figure 83).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Two thermal anomalies were present inside Minamidake crater at the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 12 (left) and 27 (right) April 2019. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

There were 15 eruptive events during May 2019. An event that lasted for two hours on 12 May produced an ash plume that rose 2,900 m from the summit and drifted NE (figure 84). The Meteorological Observatory reported 14 days with ashfall during the month. Two thermal anomalies were present in satellite imagery in the Minamidake crater on both 17 and 22 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. An ash plume rose 2,900 m above the summit of Sakurajima at Aira on 12 May 2019 (left); incandescent ejecta went 1,300 m from the summit crater on 13 May. Courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, May 2019).

During June 2019 five eruptive events were reported, on 11, 13, and 24 June; the event on 11 June lasted for almost two hours, sent ash 2,200 m above the summit, and produced ejecta that landed up to 1,100 m from the crater (figure 85). Five days of ashfall were reported by KRMO.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A large ash plume on 11 June 2019 rose 2,200 m above the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira. Courtesy of Aone Wakatsuki.

Geologic Background. The Aira caldera in the northern half of Kagoshima Bay contains the post-caldera Sakurajima volcano, one of Japan's most active. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow accompanied formation of the 17 x 23 km caldera about 22,000 years ago. The smaller Wakamiko caldera was formed during the early Holocene in the NE corner of the Aira caldera, along with several post-caldera cones. The construction of Sakurajima began about 13,000 years ago on the southern rim of Aira caldera and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kitadake summit cone ended about 4850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minamidake. Frequent historical eruptions, recorded since the 8th century, have deposited ash on Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largest cities, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76.

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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Mike Day, Minnesota, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/MikeDaySMM, photo at https://twitter.com/MikeDaySMM/status/1083489400451989505/photo/1); Kratü, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/TalesOfKratue, photo at https://twitter.com/TalesOfKratue/status/1101469595414589441/photo/1); Tim Board, Japan, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/Hawkworld_, photo at https://twitter.com/Hawkworld_/status/1107789108754038789); Aone Wakatsuke, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/AoneWakatsuki, photo at https://twitter.com/AoneWakatsuki/status/1138420031258210305/photo/3).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 15, Number 11 (November 1990)

Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland

Aira (Japan)

Windows broken by tephra from strong explosions

Akan (Japan)

Fewer earthquakes but vigorous steam emission continues

Ambrym (Vanuatu)

Block and ash ejection; 1989 lava lake gone

Apaneca Range (El Salvador)

October explosion deaths rise to 26; new crater described

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Strombolian activity and lava production; seismicity dominated by E-W motion

Asamayama (Japan)

Seismicity declines

Asosan (Japan)

Tephra ejection resumes

Chichon, El (Mexico)

Thermal activity continues; no seismicity or dome growth

Izu-Oshima (Japan)

Steam emission continues but seismicity declines

Kilauea (United States)

E rift lava continues to flow into sea; earthquake swarm

Kusatsu-Shiranesan (Japan)

Strong seismicity continues but no surface changes

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Ash emission and glow

Lengai, Ol Doinyo (Tanzania)

Continued lava production from several summit crater vents

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Seismicity drops sharply; gas emission

Oku Volcanic Field (Cameroon)

Working group assessment; temperature, ion concentration, and gas pressure increase

Pacaya (Guatemala)

Increased Strombolian activity and seismicity; aa lava

Poas (Costa Rica)

Continued fumarolic activity

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Seismicity remains weak; deformation unchanged

Redoubt (United States)

Small steam and ash emissions; slowly declining seismicity

Ruiz, Nevado del (Colombia)

Minor ash emission; seismicity; SO2 flux declines

Santa Maria (Guatemala)

Explosions and pyroclastic flows; four killed in July blast; lava flow; lahars to 50 km

St. Helens (United States)

Small explosion from lava dome

Stromboli (Italy)

Vigorous tephra ejection and lava fountaining from summit vents

Unzendake (Japan)

Small gas/ash eruption from two new vents; continued seismicity

Yasur (Vanuatu)

Incandescent tephra ejection; small lava lakes; strong SO2 emission



Aira (Japan) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

31.593°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Windows broken by tephra from strong explosions

Explosions . . . on 30 November at 0830 and 1504 . . . occurred after 57 days of quiescence. The ash plume from the morning explosion was the highest of the month, rising more than 4,000 m. Strong winds carried substantial quantities of ejecta southward. Lapilli/block fall 3 km S of the crater (at Arimura) broke four house windowpanes and 13 car windshields. Weather clouds obscured the plume from the afternoon explosion, but tephra was again blown southward by strong winds, breaking five more house windowpanes and seven car windshields at Arimura, and two car windshields at Tarumizu City, 8 km SE of the crater. The year's previous damage from Sakura-jima's explosions was on 1 May (windows broken by an air shock) and 28 August (two car windshields broken by lapilli). At total of 107 grams/m2 of ash were deposited [at the KLMO], down slightly from . . . October.

Geologic Background. The Aira caldera in the northern half of Kagoshima Bay contains the post-caldera Sakurajima volcano, one of Japan's most active. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow accompanied formation of the 17 x 23 km caldera about 22,000 years ago. The smaller Wakamiko caldera was formed during the early Holocene in the NE corner of the Aira caldera, along with several post-caldera cones. The construction of Sakurajima began about 13,000 years ago on the southern rim of Aira caldera and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kitadake summit cone ended about 4850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minamidake. Frequent historical eruptions, recorded since the 8th century, have deposited ash on Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largest cities, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76.

Information Contacts: JMA.


Akan (Japan) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Akan

Japan

43.384°N, 144.013°E; summit elev. 1499 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fewer earthquakes but vigorous steam emission continues

A total of 158 recorded earthquakes in November represented a decline from 202 the previous month. Steam emission appeared unchanged, with plumes reaching 400 m height. Seismic activity was at similar levels in early December.

Geologic Background. Akan is a 13 x 24 km caldera located immediately SW of Kussharo caldera. The elongated, irregular outline of the caldera rim reflects its incremental formation during major explosive eruptions from the early to mid-Pleistocene. Growth of four post-caldera stratovolcanoes, three at the SW end of the caldera and the other at the NE side, has restricted the size of the caldera lake. Conical Oakandake was frequently active during the Holocene. The 1-km-wide Nakamachineshiri crater of Meakandake was formed during a major pumice-and-scoria eruption about 13,500 years ago. Within the Akan volcanic complex, only the Meakandake group, east of Lake Akan, has been historically active, producing mild phreatic eruptions since the beginning of the 19th century. Meakandake is composed of nine overlapping cones. The main cone of Meakandake proper has a triple crater at its summit. Historical eruptions at Meakandake have consisted of minor phreatic explosions, but four major magmatic eruptions including pyroclastic flows have occurred during the Holocene.

Information Contacts: JMA.


Ambrym (Vanuatu) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambrym

Vanuatu

16.25°S, 168.12°E; summit elev. 1334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Block and ash ejection; 1989 lava lake gone

The Vanuatu arc was visited by an ORSTOM mission 5-18 September. The following is modified from their report in the LAVE Bulletin.

Thick puffs of ash rose several hundred meters, and scattered blocks were ejected, from a vent 200 m below the rim of Niri Tamo, which formed adjacent to Mbuelesu crater in 1989 (14:10). The approach to the crater was sprinkled with blocks 10 cm to 1 m in diameter. One block, 2 m in diameter, was located near a possible new crater (Niri Taten) that was S of Mbuelesu, near the source of the 1988 lava flows and [~500 m] from Niri Tamo. A zone of intense degassing, with temperatures of at least 625°C, occurred within Niri Taten. Mbuelesu appeared more elongate to the NE than represented on 1989 maps and no longer contained a lava lake. One vent, sounding like a reactor, violently emitted ash, gas, lava blocks, and fragments. The plume rose vertically at 30 m/s, and projectiles frequently landed beyond the rim of the crater. Benbow crater emitted a strong bluish plume, suggesting a significant SO2 content.

Further Reference. Eissen, J.P., Monzier, M., Robin, C., Picard, C., and Douglas, C., 1990, Report on the volcanological field work on Ambrym and Tanna Islands (Vanuatu) from 2 to 25 September 1990: Rapport Missions Sci Terre Geologie-Geophysique – ORSTOM (Noumea), no. 22, p. 1-22.

Geologic Background. Ambrym, a large basaltic volcano with a 12-km-wide caldera, is one of the most active volcanoes of the New Hebrides arc. A thick, almost exclusively pyroclastic sequence, initially dacitic, then basaltic, overlies lava flows of a pre-caldera shield volcano. The caldera was formed during a major plinian eruption with dacitic pyroclastic flows about 1900 years ago. Post-caldera eruptions, primarily from Marum and Benbow cones, have partially filled the caldera floor and produced lava flows that ponded on the caldera floor or overflowed through gaps in the caldera rim. Post-caldera eruptions have also formed a series of scoria cones and maars along a fissure system oriented ENE-WSW. Eruptions have apparently occurred almost yearly during historical time from cones within the caldera or from flank vents. However, from 1850 to 1950, reporting was mostly limited to extra-caldera eruptions that would have affected local populations.

Information Contacts: M. Lardy, ORSTOM, New Caledonia; B. Marty, CNRS, France; LAVE.


Apaneca Range (El Salvador) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Apaneca Range

El Salvador

13.891°N, 89.786°W; summit elev. 2036 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


October explosion deaths rise to 26; new crater described

The 13 October blast of steam and mud roared continuously (like a geyser) for 10-20 minutes, decreasing in intensity following the initial explosion (reported by a survivor to be around 20 seconds long). No seismic signals were recorded before or during the event by seismometers 4 and 30 km away. A portable seismometer, operated for a few days following the blast, also recorded no signals.

The 30-m-diameter, 15-m-deep crater produced by the blast was partially filled by a continuously boiling muddy lake during a 27 October visit. A sulfurous "rotten egg" smell was noted. Prior to the blast, the site was an area of steaming ground, with two small hot springs (1-2 m across) and 1 mudpot (1 m across) much smaller than the present crater.

The blast was laterally oblique to the N and its effects abruptly ended at a maximum of 130 m. Damage included downed trees and limbs, collapsed walls of buildings, and missing roofs. The massive, non-sorted deposits were clay-rich and composed of light-colored highly altered rock fragments. Deposits were thickest to the N where they ranged from 1 m on the crater rim to 30 cm at 20 m from the rim. The death toll increased to 26 after 13 people died in hospitals.

Geologic Background. The Apaneca Range (also known as the Cuyanausul Range) consists of an elongated group of basaltic-to-andesitic Pleistocene and Holocene stratovolcanoes in western El Salvador between the Santa Ana complex and the Guatemala border. The 5 x 3.5 km wide Pleistocene dacitic-rhyolitic Concepción de Ataco caldera lies at the W end of the complex, along with post-caldera late-Pleistocene to Holocene andesitic-dacitic lava domes. The post-caldera cones of Cerro el Aguila (the highest peak of the complex) and Cerro los Naranjos at the E end of the chain were mapped as Holocene by Weber and Weisemann (1978). Young craters on basaltic Laguna Verde stratovolcano may also have been active during the Holocene. Numerous fumarole fields are located on the N flank of the range, and the Ahuachapán geothermal field has been producing since 1975. Several small hydrothermal explosions have occurred in historical time, including one in October 1990 at the Agua Shuca thermal area in which 26 people were killed.

Information Contacts: C. Dan Miller, USGS.


Arenal (Costa Rica) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Arenal

Costa Rica

10.463°N, 84.703°W; summit elev. 1670 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strombolian activity and lava production; seismicity dominated by E-W motion

Strombolian activity, with small explosions, lava extrusion, and voluminous gas emission, continued during November. The following is a report by W. Melson.

"The volcano was continuously monitored, seismically and by direct observations from the Arenal Observatory 24-27 November. During this period, lava flow emission was continuous down the S and SW slopes, none reaching farther than 300 m below the summit (~1,300 m elevation). The volcano was usually obscured by clouds, but changing rates of flow advance were evidenced by the frequency of audible and sometimes visible avalanches that ranged from ~1-20/hour from the lava fronts on the oversteepened near-crater slopes. We did not determine whether flows were simultaneously active on the N and NW slopes. No significant pyroclastic events, such as explosions, occurred during this interval.

"Seismicity was marked by frequent intervals of intense harmonic tremor. Digital seismic recordings (figure 34) using a 3-component Mark L-4 3D geophone revealed the dominance of E-W horizontal motions, typically at 1-2 Hz, accompanied by very little vertical motion, and sometimes completely without vertical motion. The motion may reflect sub-horizontal flow of the viscous andesitic magma in an E-W subvolcanic conduit."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Three-component seismogram of harmonic tremor at Arenal, November 1990. Courtesy of W. Melson.

Geologic Background. Conical Volcán Arenal is the youngest stratovolcano in Costa Rica and one of its most active. The 1670-m-high andesitic volcano towers above the eastern shores of Lake Arenal, which has been enlarged by a hydroelectric project. Arenal lies along a volcanic chain that has migrated to the NW from the late-Pleistocene Los Perdidos lava domes through the Pleistocene-to-Holocene Chato volcano, which contains a 500-m-wide, lake-filled summit crater. The earliest known eruptions of Arenal took place about 7000 years ago, and it was active concurrently with Cerro Chato until the activity of Chato ended about 3500 years ago. Growth of Arenal has been characterized by periodic major explosive eruptions at several-hundred-year intervals and periods of lava effusion that armor the cone. An eruptive period that began with a major explosive eruption in 1968 ended in December 2010; continuous explosive activity accompanied by slow lava effusion and the occasional emission of pyroclastic flows characterized the eruption from vents at the summit and on the upper western flank.

Information Contacts: W. Melson, SI:G. Soto and R. Barquero, ICE.


Asamayama (Japan) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Asamayama

Japan

36.406°N, 138.523°E; summit elev. 2568 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity declines

The strong seismicity . . . has declined since late October. Only 27 earthquakes and one tremor episode were recorded in November, compared to 105 and 31 respectively in October. Similar activity was noted in early December.

Geologic Background. Asamayama, Honshu's most active volcano, overlooks the resort town of Karuizawa, 140 km NW of Tokyo. The volcano is located at the junction of the Izu-Marianas and NE Japan volcanic arcs. The modern Maekake cone forms the summit and is situated east of the horseshoe-shaped remnant of an older andesitic volcano, Kurofuyama, which was destroyed by a late-Pleistocene landslide about 20,000 years before present (BP). Growth of a dacitic shield volcano was accompanied by pumiceous pyroclastic flows, the largest of which occurred about 14,000-11,000 BP, and by growth of the Ko-Asama-yama lava dome on the east flank. Maekake, capped by the Kamayama pyroclastic cone that forms the present summit, is probably only a few thousand years old and has an historical record dating back at least to the 11th century CE. Maekake has had several major plinian eruptions, the last two of which occurred in 1108 (Asamayama's largest Holocene eruption) and 1783 CE.

Information Contacts: JMA.


Asosan (Japan) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

32.884°N, 131.104°E; summit elev. 1592 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Tephra ejection resumes

Crater 1, active July 1989-June 1990 (table 6), weakly emitted ash on 12, 18-19, and 25-29 November; white steam was emitted steadily on other days. The highest plume observed in November reached 1,000 m above the crater. Ash had last been emitted on 17 September. The area within 1 km of the crater, which had reopened to tourists on 15 October, was closed on 12 November and remained closed in early December.

Table 6. Brief chronology of activity at Aso, January-14 December, 1990.

Date Activity
Jan 1990 Eruption continuing (since July 1989).
07 Feb 1990 Eruption ceased.
Mar 1990 Quiet, but white steaming continued.
20 Apr 1990 Eruption resumed.
May-Jun 1990 Frequent strong eruptions.
Jul-Aug 1990 Quiet, with occasional weak ash emissions.
Sep 1990 Occasional ash emissions; vent 901 opened.
Oct 1990 Quiet; white steam; tremor increased toward month's end.
Nov 1990 Ash emissions and glow resumed at mid-month. Stronger tremor continued through the month.
13 Nov 1990 Glow resumed on crater floor.
17 Nov 1990 Scoria ejection resumed.
24 Nov 1990 Vent 902 had opened; 811°C temperature measured.
04 Dec 1990 Eruption at 0410 ejected 1,200-m ash cloud.
06 Dec 1990 Eruption; vent 903 had opened.
07 Dec 1990 Eruption.
08 Dec 1990 Eruption.
13 Dec 1990 Eruption.

Glow from many points on the crater floor was observed during a night visit on 13 November, the first crater glow seen since June. Glow remained visible through early December. During 17 November fieldwork, incandescent scoria was being ejected to 30 m height from a small vent on the crater floor. Scoria ejection had last been observed in June. By the 24 November crater visit, a vent 10 m across had developed on the crater floor and was ejecting blocks to 5 m height. The vent was named 902, the second new vent of 1990 . . . . An infrared thermometer detected a maximum temperature of 811°C in the vent.

Ash emission became frequent in early December. An eruption on 4 December at 1410 ejected a 1200-m ash cloud, December's highest (as of the 14th), and similar activity occurred on 6, 7, 8, and 13 December. Vigorous ash emissions had last occurred in June. Ejections of blocks and scoria were also more frequent and higher (to 150 m) in early December. A visit on 6 December revealed that a new vent . . . had opened near 902.

The amplitude and number of volcanic tremor episodes has gradually increased since October and remained high through November (figure 18).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Daily number of tremor events at Aso, January-8 December 1990. Longer arrows at top of figure mark eruptions, shorter arrows indicate weaker ash emissions. Courtesy of JMA.

Geologic Background. The 24-km-wide Asosan caldera was formed during four major explosive eruptions from 300,000 to 90,000 years ago. These produced voluminous pyroclastic flows that covered much of Kyushu. The last of these, the Aso-4 eruption, produced more than 600 km3 of airfall tephra and pyroclastic-flow deposits. A group of 17 central cones was constructed in the middle of the caldera, one of which, Nakadake, is one of Japan's most active volcanoes. It was the location of Japan's first documented historical eruption in 553 CE. The Nakadake complex has remained active throughout the Holocene. Several other cones have been active during the Holocene, including the Kometsuka scoria cone as recently as about 210 CE. Historical eruptions have largely consisted of basaltic to basaltic-andesite ash emission with periodic strombolian and phreatomagmatic activity. The summit crater of Nakadake is accessible by toll road and cable car, and is one of Kyushu's most popular tourist destinations.

Information Contacts: JMA.


El Chichon (Mexico) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

El Chichon

Mexico

17.36°N, 93.228°W; summit elev. 1150 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal activity continues; no seismicity or dome growth

"Recent reports of increased activity at El Chichón motivated a visit to the region. Analysis of records from nearby seismic stations (the nearest at Ostoacán, 115 km NW) showed no increased seismicity. A helicopter flight over the volcano on 10 November allowed observation of hydrothermal activity that had increased from last year's levels. The crater lake, which in the last few years had shrunk to a small pond, had recovered to the level of November 1982, and hydrothermal activity was similar to that observed in January 1983 (as described in Casadevall and others, 1984). The greenish-yellow lake now covers most of the crater floor, and numerous small fumaroles release steam through and around it. This activity is probably a result of the increased rainfall that reached 3,829 mm in the area January-October, compared to 3,219 mm measured during the same period last year. This increase was particularly high in October 1990, when 1,069 mm of rain was reported, compared to 701 mm measured in October 1989. As expected, no evidence of the start of a dome growth episode has been detected."

Reference. Casadevall, T., de la Cruz-Reyna, S., Rose, W.I., Bagley, S., Finnegan, D.L., and Zoller, W.H., 1984, Crater lake and post-eruption hydrothermal activity, El Chichón Volcano, México: JVGR, v. 23, p. 169-191.

Geologic Background. El Chichón is a small, but powerful trachyandesitic tuff cone and lava dome complex that occupies an isolated part of the Chiapas region in SE México far from other Holocene volcanoes. Prior to 1982, this relatively unknown volcano was heavily forested and of no greater height than adjacent nonvolcanic peaks. The largest dome, the former summit of the volcano, was constructed within a 1.6 x 2 km summit crater created about 220,000 years ago. Two other large craters are located on the SW and SE flanks; a lava dome fills the SW crater, and an older dome is located on the NW flank. More than ten large explosive eruptions have occurred since the mid-Holocene. The powerful 1982 explosive eruptions of high-sulfur, anhydrite-bearing magma destroyed the summit lava dome and were accompanied by pyroclastic flows and surges that devastated an area extending about 8 km around the volcano. The eruptions created a new 1-km-wide, 300-m-deep crater that now contains an acidic crater lake.

Information Contacts: S. de la Cruz-Reyna, UNAM.; Romeo León Vidal, CFE, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, México.


Izu-Oshima (Japan) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Izu-Oshima

Japan

34.724°N, 139.394°E; summit elev. 758 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Steam emission continues but seismicity declines

Seismicity declined rapidly after . . . 4 October (figure 22). No additional eruptions had occurred as of early December. Steam emission continued steadily through November, with the plume reaching 1,300 m above the crater. A series of 10 microearthquakes, centered in the E part of Oshima Island 3 km E of the summit (Mihara-yama) cone occurred 7-10 November, the first seismicity there since 21 November 1987. Seismicity at the summit continued unchanged through November at relatively low levels. A seismometer near the summit recorded 160 earthquakes during November, down from 633 in October. Seismicity and steam emission remained similar in early December. No tremor has been recorded since late April.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Daily number of earthquakes at Oshima, April-November 1990. The small 4 October eruption (arrow) was accompanied by high seismicity. Most of the earthquakes were centered on the summit (Mihara-yama) cone. Courtesy of JMA.

Geologic Background. Izu-Oshima volcano in Sagami Bay, east of the Izu Peninsula, is the northernmost of the Izu Islands. The broad, low stratovolcano forms an 11 x 13 km island and was constructed over the remnants of three dissected stratovolcanoes. It is capped by a 4-km-wide caldera with a central cone, Miharayama, that has been the site of numerous historical eruptions. More than 40 cones are located within the caldera and along two parallel rift zones trending NNW-SSE. Although it is a dominantly basaltic volcano, strong explosive activity has occurred at intervals of 100-150 years throughout the past few thousand years. Historical activity dates back to the 7th century CE. A major eruption in 1986 produced spectacular lava fountains up to 1600 m height and a 16-km-high eruption column; more than 12,000 people were evacuated from the island.

Information Contacts: JMA.


Kilauea (United States) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


E rift lava continues to flow into sea; earthquake swarm

Lava . . . continued to flow into the ocean through November. Coastal activity was generally most vigorous on the W side of the flow field (near Wahaula) . . . . Lava feeding the W ocean entry was enclosed in tubes at the beginning of the month, but by 5 November, lava had broken out at ~50 m elevation and the flow volumes at the coast had declined. Lava re-entered the sea near Wahaula on 8 November and entries were dispersed along a 700-m front by the 11th. During the following weeks, several breakouts were active behind the flow front, but lava continued to enter the ocean, and at least three of the entries were explosive late in the month.

On the E side of the flow field (figure 74), small amounts of lava entered the ocean (at Hakuma Point), but breakouts from the tube system were frequent at low elevations (in the Kalapana area). On 10 November, lava destroyed a home (at the base of the Hakuma Horst). A second, slow-moving flow advanced to within 30 m of the four remaining houses in upper Kalapana Gardens, but did not reach them. Lava outbreaks overran new land in the Kalapana area in mid and late November, covering parts of the old coast highway and cutting off a temporary access road built over the lava in September, but did not destroy any additional houses.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. The extent of flows on the E side of the lava field as of 22 November 1990.

Harmonic tremor near Kupaianaha and Pu`u `O`o vents continued through November, but at low levels. An earthquake swarm centered ~5 km W of the caldera occurred between 11 and 13 November. Activity spread over a 5-km-long region at the E end of the Kaoiki fault zone. Over 200 swarm events with magnitudes of up to 3.3 were located during the 3-day period. Hypocentral depths ranged from very close to the surface to 12 km. HVO's preliminary locations suggest that the deeper earthquakes clustered at the E end of the active zone, with shallower events more concentrated to the W. Activity returned to normal regional levels of ~20-30 events/day by 15 November.

Geologic Background. Kilauea, which overlaps the E flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano, has been Hawaii's most active volcano during historical time. Eruptions are prominent in Polynesian legends; written documentation extending back to only 1820 records frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions that were interspersed with periods of long-term lava lake activity that lasted until 1924 at Halemaumau crater, within the summit caldera. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1500 years ago and during the 18th century; eruptions have also originated from the lengthy East and SW rift zones, which extend to the sea on both sides of the volcano. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1100 years old; 70% of the volcano's surface is younger than 600 years. A long-term eruption from the East rift zone that began in 1983 has produced lava flows covering more than 100 km2, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.

Information Contacts: T. Moulds, P. Okubo, and C. Heliker, HVO.


Kusatsu-Shiranesan (Japan) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Kusatsu-Shiranesan

Japan

36.618°N, 138.528°E; summit elev. 2165 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strong seismicity continues but no surface changes

Seismicity has remained at high levels since February (figure 4). During November, 117 earthquakes and 27 volcanic tremor episodes were recorded . . . . Seismicity remained similar in early December. No changes in surface activity were observed.

Geologic Background. The Kusatsu-Shiranesan complex, located immediately north of Asama volcano, consists of a series of overlapping pyroclastic cones and three crater lakes. The andesitic-to-dacitic volcano was formed in three eruptive stages beginning in the early to mid-Pleistocene. The Pleistocene Oshi pyroclastic flow produced extensive welded tuffs and non-welded pumice that covers much of the E, S, and SW flanks. The latest eruptive stage began about 14,000 years ago. Historical eruptions have consisted of phreatic explosions from the acidic crater lakes or their margins. Fumaroles and hot springs that dot the flanks have strongly acidified many rivers draining from the volcano. The crater was the site of active sulfur mining for many years during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Information Contacts: JMA.


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Langila

Papua New Guinea

5.525°S, 148.42°E; summit elev. 1330 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash emission and glow

"Activity remained at a low level in November . . . . Crater 3 emitted mainly weak to moderate white-grey ash and vapour clouds. However, stronger emissions on 12 and 25 November produced eruption columns ~200 m high and ashfalls ~10 km downwind. Weak deep explosions from Crater 3 were heard on 28 and 29 November. Emissions from Crater 2 consisted mainly of weak to moderate white and grey vapour and ash, and rarely, blue vapour. Steady weak glow was observed throughout the month. The only sound from this crater during November was a deep loud explosion on 28 November and rumbling noises on the 29th and 30th. Seismic activity was at a moderate level."

Geologic Background. Langila, one of the most active volcanoes of New Britain, consists of a group of four small overlapping composite basaltic-andesitic cones on the lower eastern flank of the extinct Talawe volcano. Talawe is the highest volcano in the Cape Gloucester area of NW New Britain. A rectangular, 2.5-km-long crater is breached widely to the SE; Langila volcano was constructed NE of the breached crater of Talawe. An extensive lava field reaches the coast on the north and NE sides of Langila. Frequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded since the 19th century from three active craters at the summit of Langila. The youngest and smallest crater (no. 3 crater) was formed in 1960 and has a diameter of 150 m.

Information Contacts: C. McKee and I. Itikarai, RVO.


Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Ol Doinyo Lengai

Tanzania

2.764°S, 35.914°E; summit elev. 2962 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued lava production from several summit crater vents

Oblique air photos taken by Steve Cunningham . . . on 7 September (figure 19), showed minor changes in crater activity since a 7-8 August crater visit. There was no sign of very fresh lava on T4/T7, . . . although the W end of the ridge was surrounded by fresh lava. A large dark-gray patch of lava extended from the top to near the base of the largest cone in the crater, T5/T9, suggesting recent spatter or minor overflow of lava from its summit vent. T15 . . . continued to erupt, as indicated by the presence of dark gray lava and a possible small fresh flow just N of it. Most of the crater floor was covered by older pale gray to white lava, including a large flow active 7-8 August (F18). Two new flows (F19 and F20 in figure 19) were visible, the longer extending 200 m across the crater floor and into the S depression. It was estimated that this flow was 1-2 days old at the time of the photograph.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Active crater at Ol Doinyo Lengai, 7 September 1990, looking NE. Shaded areas show fresh lava flows. Tracing of photo courtesy of C. Nyamweru.

Geologic Background. The symmetrical Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only volcano known to have erupted carbonatite tephras and lavas in historical time. The prominent stratovolcano, known to the Maasai as "The Mountain of God," rises abruptly above the broad plain south of Lake Natron in the Gregory Rift Valley. The cone-building stage ended about 15,000 years ago and was followed by periodic ejection of natrocarbonatitic and nephelinite tephra during the Holocene. Historical eruptions have consisted of smaller tephra ejections and emission of numerous natrocarbonatitic lava flows on the floor of the summit crater and occasionally down the upper flanks. The depth and morphology of the northern crater have changed dramatically during the course of historical eruptions, ranging from steep crater walls about 200 m deep in the mid-20th century to shallow platforms mostly filling the crater. Long-term lava effusion in the summit crater beginning in 1983 had by the turn of the century mostly filled the northern crater; by late 1998 lava had begun overflowing the crater rim.

Information Contacts: C. Nyamweru, Kenyatta Univ.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Manam

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity drops sharply; gas emission

"Activity remained at a low level in November. Both craters continued to release very weak to moderate emissions of thin white vapour. Additionally, thin blue vapour emissions were observed on two occasions from Main Crater, and brown ash emissions were reported once from Southern Crater. No noises or glow were reported from either crater. The daily total of volcanic earthquakes declined further from an average of ~150 at the end of October to <30 from mid-November to the end of the month. Amplitude of these events was very low."

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: C. McKee and I. Itikarai, RVO.


Oku Volcanic Field (Cameroon) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Oku Volcanic Field

Cameroon

6.25°N, 10.5°E; summit elev. 3011 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Working group assessment; temperature, ion concentration, and gas pressure increase

Research continues at Lake Nyos and on the broader problem of gas-charged lakes. Quoted material is from William Evans.

"The International Working Group on Crater Lakes (IWGCL) met 11-12 September in Nancy, France to discuss the hazards associated with Lake Nyos. Scientific teams from Cameroon, France, Germany, Japan, Nigeria, Switzerland, the UK, and USA attended the meeting, held at the 15th Colloquium on African Geology. The goal of the meeting was to prepare a document containing conclusions and recommendations regarding Lake Nyos that could be presented to the government of Cameroon. Each IWGCL member present could prevent the use of any statement in the document. At the conclusion of the meeting, there was unanimous agreement on the wording to be used. The following is a complete list of the conclusions and recommendations drawn up at the meeting."

Conclusions. 1) The 1986 gas disaster in Cameroon was caused by a massive release of CO2 from Lake Nyos. 2) Lake Nyos now contains ~300 x 106 m3 of CO2 and therefore remains dangerous. 3) This danger is increasing because CO2 is currently being added to Lake Nyos at a rate of at least 5 x 106 m3/year.

Recommendations. 1) Another gas disaster could occur at any time. Therefore the amount of CO2 in lake Nyos should be reduced as a matter of urgency. 2) Prior to controlled degassing, equipment should be installed for continuous monitoring of the stability of the lake. 3) Pipes should be installed to remove gas-rich water from the bottom of the lake. 4) Degassed water should be discharged outside the lake basin to avoid disturbing the natural stratification of the lake. 5) The rate of water extraction should not exceed the natural water recharge rate. Lowering the lake level would increase the risk of a gas release from beneath the lake. 6) Any system for gas extraction should be tested first at Lake Monoun. 7) The stability of the natural dam at the exit to Lake Nyos and the possibility of lowering the lake level should be further investigated. [A modified version of this document was published as Freeth and others, 1990].

"There is continued interest in the problems associated with Lake Nyos and its smaller analog, Lake Monoun. Cameroon, Nigeria, and several other countries maintain long-term research efforts. Scientists from the U.S. have made three field trips to Lake Nyos in . . . December 1989 and September and December 1990, to study the stability of the natural dam and the recharge rates of water and gas. The dam, which forms a spillway for the rainy season outflow, is 43 m wide at the top but is undercut several meters at its base. It maintains lake level at ~36 m above bedrock on the downstream side. The current rate of erosion due to water flow over and through the dam is unknown, but large-scale flooding and loss of life could occur when the structure ultimately fails. Dissolved salts and gases are transported into the lake by slightly thermal soda springs on the lake bottom at 210 m depth. Because of strong stratification of the water column, the incoming fluids are trapped in the deepest water layers. Studying the recharge process thus involves measuring temporal changes in bottom waters after the August 1986 gas burst when a partial mixing of the water column occurred. Near 200 m depth, water temperature has increased to 24.5°C, 1.0°C higher than in September 1986. Ionic strength has now risen from 0.015 to 0.024 at this depth. Total dissolved gas pressures, due mainly to CO2, have also increased. The highest pressure measured, 10.6 bar at 206 m depth, is almost 50% of the saturation pressure. When completely analyzed, these data will refine existing estimates of the various recharge rates."

Further References. Freeth, S., Kling, G., Kusakabe, M., Maley, J., Tchoua, F., and Tietze, K., 1990, Conclusions from Lake Nyos disaster: Nature, v. 348, no. 6298, p. 201.

LeGuern, F. and Sigvaldason, G., eds., 1989, The Lake Nyos event and natural CO2 degassing, I: JVGR, v. 39, nos. 2-3, p. 97-275 (15 papers); II: JVGR, v. 42, no. 4, p. 307-400 (10 papers).

Lockwood, J., Costa, J., Tuttle, M., Nni, J., and Tebor, S., 1988, The potential for catastrophic dam failure at Lake Nyos Maar, Cameroon: BV, v. 50, p. 340-349.

Nojiri, Y., Kusakabe, M., Hirabayashi, J., Sato, H., Sano, Y., Shinohara, H., Njine, T., and Tanyileke, G., 1990, Gas discharge at Lake Nyos: Nature, v. 346, no. 6282, p. 322-323.

Sano, Y., Kusakabe, M., Hirabayashi, J., Nojiri, Y., Shinohara, H., Njine, T., and Tanyileke, G., 1990, Helium and carbon fluxes in Lake Nyos, Cameroon: constraint on next gas burst: Earth & Planetary Science Letters, v. 99, p. 303-314.

Geologic Background. Numerous maars and basaltic cinder cones lie on or near the deeply dissected rhyolitic and trachytic Mount Oku massif along the Cameroon volcanic line. The Mount Oku stratovolcano is cut by a large caldera. The Oku volcanic field is noted for two crater lakes, Lake Nyos to the N and Lake Monoun to the S, that have produced catastrophic carbon-dioxide gas release events. The 15 August 1984, gas release at Lake Monoun was attributed to overturn of stratified lake water, triggered by an earthquake and landslide. The Lake Nyos event on 21 August 1986, caused at least 1,700 fatalities. The emission of ~1 km3 of magmatic carbon dioxide has been attributed either to overturn of stratified lake waters as a result of a non-volcanic process, or to phreatic explosions or injection of hot gas into the lake.

Information Contacts: (Conclusions and Recommendations document)M. Kusakabe, IWGCL, Japan; (Fieldwork)W. Evans, USGS; G. Kling, The Ecosystems Center, Woods Hole, MA; J. Lockwood, R. Schuster, and M. Tuttle, USGS.


Pacaya (Guatemala) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased Strombolian activity and seismicity; aa lava

Fieldwork was conducted at the volcano by a group from the Univ de Genève (mid October-4 November), and scientists from Michigan Technological Univ and Guatemala (25 November).

The following is modified from a Univ de Genève report. Strombolian activity increased during October, to >400 recorded explosions/day. Scientists visting the volcano observed explosions every 30 seconds to 5 minutes (17 and 21 October), and counted up to 17 explosions during a 15-minute period (28 October). The explosions ejected incandescent material to 10-50 m above the 25-m-tall cone in MacKenney crater, and were visible on clear nights from Guatemala City (25 km NNE). The number of seismic events (recorded by a joint INSIVUMEH-Univ de Genève digital seismic station) increased steadily, from 147 on 13 October to 457 on 20 October, and averaged over 450 daily during the following several days. Tremor was recorded during periods of closely spaced explosions (including the 28th), with 5 hours of continuous tremor recorded on the 20th. As of 4 November, two lava flows were moving down the N flank of the volcano, and explosive activity was unchanged.

The following report is by Michael Conway. "Vertical Strombolian eruptions (lasting from seconds to <1 minute) from the crater of MacKenney cone occurred every 3-5 minutes, hurled incandescent bombs (to 2 m in diameter) to 150 m above the vent, and were accompanied by a jet-like sound. Black eruption clouds, with the coxcomb geometry characteristic of phreatomagmatic blasts, were rarely observed, suggesting that the conduit is moderately well sealed from infiltrating meteoric waters. Low-temperature fumaroles (up to 100°C) were active on the E summit of MacKenney cone, and patches (areas of one to tens of m2) of yellow sublimates were common.

"An aa lava flow was being extruded from a pit crater (50 m long, 10-15 m wide, and 2-5 m deep) on the N flank of MacKenney cone, 40-65 m below the summit; opening of the pit crater may be related to an eruptive episode that occurred on 16 September. A lava channel, 5 m wide and 2-4 m deep, delivered lava to the low-lying area between MacKenney cone and Cerro Chino. The lava flux was variable and flow velocities ranged, roughly, from 1 to 6 km/hour. Collapse of the lava flow front was common (slopes of the cone are about 30°), exposing fresh lava and sending hot block avalanches down the channel. The latest stage of lava flow activity began on 3 November and has erupted two flow units, one of which was still active. Lava flows erupted since March have effectively armored the N-central flank of the cone. A result of continued construction of MacKenney cone is that, for the first time, the cone is visible from San Francisco de Salas (2.5 km downslope, to the N)."

Geologic Background. 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: Jean-Jacques Wagner, Thierry Basset, and Jean-Charles Gentile, Univ de Genève, Switzerland; Michael Conway, Michigan Technological Univ; Ricardo Mata, Guatemala City, Guatemala; E. Sánchez and Otoniel Matías, INSIVUMEH.


Poas (Costa Rica) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Poas

Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued fumarolic activity

Fumarolic activity continued during November, with the greatest activity concentrated in the SE and N parts of the yellow-green crater lake. Fumaroles created mud pots, and small sprays of mud and sulfur constructed cones within the lake. The temperature of the lake oscillated between 61 and 85°C (maximum 80°C in October), and lake level was relatively high due to heavy rainfall. Hot springs at the periphery of the lake had temperatures of 40°C, cold springs at the edge of the crater were 16°C, and fumaroles on the 1953-55 dome were 90°C.

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: G. Soto and R. Barquero, ICE.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Rabaul

Papua New Guinea

4.271°S, 152.203°E; summit elev. 688 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity remains weak; deformation unchanged

"Seismicity remained at a low level in November. The total number of caldera earthquakes increased slightly to 160, from 101 in October. All events were of small magnitude (ML <1). Of the three events that could be located, two were on the NW side and one was on the NE side of the caldera seismic zone. No significant changes were observed in ground deformation measurements."

Geologic Background. The low-lying Rabaul caldera on the tip of the Gazelle Peninsula at the NE end of New Britain forms a broad sheltered harbor utilized by what was the island's largest city prior to a major eruption in 1994. The outer flanks of the 688-m-high asymmetrical pyroclastic shield volcano are formed by thick pyroclastic-flow deposits. The 8 x 14 km caldera is widely breached on the east, where its floor is flooded by Blanche Bay and was formed about 1400 years ago. An earlier caldera-forming eruption about 7100 years ago is now considered to have originated from Tavui caldera, offshore to the north. Three small stratovolcanoes lie outside the northern and NE caldera rims. Post-caldera eruptions built basaltic-to-dacitic pyroclastic cones on the caldera floor near the NE and western caldera walls. Several of these, including Vulcan cone, which was formed during a large eruption in 1878, have produced major explosive activity during historical time. A powerful explosive eruption in 1994 occurred simultaneously from Vulcan and Tavurvur volcanoes and forced the temporary abandonment of Rabaul city.

Information Contacts: C. McKee and I. Itikarai, RVO.


Redoubt (United States) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Redoubt

United States

60.485°N, 152.742°W; summit elev. 3108 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small steam and ash emissions; slowly declining seismicity

The following report, from the AVO staff, covers the period 12 November-14 December. "No significant change in activity has been observed at Redoubt since the last report. Steam and ash emissions from the lava dome, detected seismically, continue at a rate of several/day. No reports of ash deposition on the flanks of the volcano have been received, suggesting that these phreatic events continue to be relatively minor. However, decreasing daylight hours and infrequent overflights have limited observations.

"Overall seismicity at Redoubt is at a low level, and continues to decline slowly. The automatic event detection system triggered on 246 events between 12 November and 14 December (about 8 events/day). These are mostly shallow B-type (low-frequency) events in the vicinity of the lava dome, although a few A-type (high-frequency) events daily continue at 4-10 km depth beneath the volcano. Shallow tremor associated with steam and ash emissions continues to be recorded several times/day, with typical durations ranging from 5 to 20 minutes; occasionally, periods of nearly continuous tremor may last several hours. These longer periods appear, in some cases, to be 'triggered' by one of the steam and ash events.

"AVO field crews observed the partly snow-covered lava dome on 14 December, and reported that it continued to steam vigorously, as did some of the pyroclastic flow deposits at the N base of the volcano. A minor amount of ash mantled the dome's surface. No significant ash deposits were seen elsewhere in the crater or on the volcano's flanks.

"COSPEC measurements have not been made at Redoubt since 8 November. Insufficient ultraviolet light precludes operation of the COSPEC until sometime in February."

Geologic Background. Redoubt is a glacier-covered stratovolcano with a breached summit crater in Lake Clark National Park about 170 km SW of Anchorage. Next to Mount Spurr, Redoubt has been the most active Holocene volcano in the upper Cook Inlet. The volcano was constructed beginning about 890,000 years ago over Mesozoic granitic rocks of the Alaska-Aleutian Range batholith. Collapse of the summit 13,000-10,500 years ago produced a major debris avalanche that reached Cook Inlet. Holocene activity has included the emplacement of a large debris avalanche and clay-rich lahars that dammed Lake Crescent on the south side and reached Cook Inlet about 3,500 years ago. Eruptions during the past few centuries have affected only the Drift River drainage on the north. Historical eruptions have originated from a vent at the north end of the 1.8-km-wide breached summit crater. The 1989-90 eruption had severe economic impact on the Cook Inlet region and affected air traffic far beyond the volcano.

Information Contacts: AVO Staff.


Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Nevado del Ruiz

Colombia

4.892°N, 75.324°W; summit elev. 5279 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Minor ash emission; seismicity; SO2 flux declines

Many small ash emissions occurred and high-frequency seismicity was at high levels during November. Hypocenters were located around the crater at shallow depths. Pulses of tremor occurred frequently, often associated with the ash emissions. Low-frequency seismicity was at low levels and there was no measured ground deformation. The SO2 flux continued to decrease, averaging 860 t/d.

Geologic Background. Nevado del Ruiz is a broad, glacier-covered volcano in central Colombia that covers more than 200 km2. Three major edifices, composed of andesitic and dacitic lavas and andesitic pyroclastics, have been constructed since the beginning of the Pleistocene. The modern cone consists of a broad cluster of lava domes built within the caldera of an older edifice. The 1-km-wide, 240-m-deep Arenas crater occupies the summit. The prominent La Olleta pyroclastic cone located on the SW flank may also have been active in historical time. Steep headwalls of massive landslides cut the flanks. Melting of its summit icecap during historical eruptions, which date back to the 16th century, has resulted in devastating lahars, including one in 1985 that was South America's deadliest eruption.

Information Contacts: C. Carvajal, INGEOMINAS, Manizales.


Santa Maria (Guatemala) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Santa Maria

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions and pyroclastic flows; four killed in July blast; lava flow; lahars to 50 km

"Interpretation of telemetered seismic data by volcanologists at INSIVUMEH indicates a general increase in volcanic activity (pyroclastic eruptions, rock avalanches, and lava flows) at Caliente vent from June 1988 through August 1990 (figure 15). Five periods of increased lava flow activity have been documented, the most recent beginning in July 1990 (BGVN 15:06) and continuing as of early December. The number of explosions ranges from about 5 to 90 daily, while rock avalanches are more abundant, with 100 to as many as 600/day. Explosions, rock avalanches, and lava flow flux at the dome were greatest from June through September 1988, 1989, and 1990, corresponding to the rainy season. Small decreases in explosions and avalanches were noted during mid-October through March 1988-89, 1989-90, and from October through November 1990, and are roughly correlative with the dry season in Guatemala, suggesting a link between eruptive and climatic patterns at Santiaguito.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Appoximate number of daily explosions (solid line) and rock avalanches (dashed line) recorded by seismic stations near Santiaguito, June 1988-23 November 1990. Five periods of relatively high lava flow flux are marked by horizontal arrows. Vertical arrows mark dates of major pyroclastic eruptions. [Courtesy of Otoniel Matías.]

"Beginning in April 1990, more than 20 powerful pyroclastic eruptions, similar in magnitude to the 19 July 1989 eruption, have occurred at Caliente vent (table 1). Direct observation of pyroclastic eruptions is often impossible because of weather conditions, but reports from four events indicate that they are characterized by large eruption columns rising 4-5.5 km above the vent, durations on the order of 7-15 minutes, and are heard as far away as Retalhuleu [25 km SSW]. Simultaneous collapse of a small plug dome atop Caliente generates pyroclastic flows and lateral blasts. Block and ash flows accompanied by ash cloud surges typically sweep 4-7 km down the Río Nimá II (figure 16); phreatic blasts in nearby drainages are common during violent mixing of hot pyroclastic flows with stream water. Repeated lateral blasts have devastated an area of 4 km2E of Caliente, stripped away or blown down all vegetation, and buried it in ash and lapilli-sized debris. On 19 July 1990, exactly 1 year after the onset of major pyroclastic eruptions at the dome, 4 hikers climbing along the E rim of Santa María's 1902 explosion crater, roughly 1 km E of the dome, were killed by a lateral blast. Tephra fallout (to 4 cm thick) blanketed the dome and surrounding area, and measurable airfall deposits (<1 cm thick) occurred as far away as San Martín, 20 km SW of the dome. Numerous smaller explosions accompanied major explosions at Caliente, and continuous explosive activity of up to 3 hours has been reported.

Table 1. Dates and intervals between major pyroclastic eruptions at Santiaguito Dome, July 1989-November 1990. Courtesy of Michael Conway.

Date Days since last pyroclastic eruption
18 Jul 1989 --
20 Apr 1990 --
22 Apr 1990 1
05 May 1990 12
08 May 1990 2
09 May 1990 0
03 Jun 1990 24
19 Jun 1990 5
13 Jul 1990 23
19 Jul 1990 5
29 Jul 1990 9
05 Aug 1990 6
18 Aug 1990 12
22 Aug 1990 3
26 Aug 1990 3
22 Sep 1990 26
04 Oct 1990 11
26 Oct 1990 21
14 Nov 1990 18
20 Nov 1990 5
23 Nov 1990 2
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Map of Santiaguito and environs showing zones affected by the 1929, 1973, and 1989-90 pyroclastic flows. The zones affected in 1989-90 are marked by vertical lines (devastation by lateral blasts), and diagonal lines (area affected by pyroclastic flows and ash cloud surges). The Santiaguito Observatory is marked by a star. Courtesy of Michael Conway.

"Periods between major explosions have been characterized by passive fuming of Caliente and by minor phreatomagmatic and possibly phreatic vertical explosions. On the morning of 28 November, from the 'Hotel de Magermann', NW of the dome, we observed a series of 15-20 small explosions; each was accompanied by a gray to white steam and ash column, rising 1.5-3 km above Caliente. Individual explosions were accompanied by a jet-like sound and lasted anywhere from a few seconds to 2-3 minutes. Passive fuming preceded and followed each blast.

"Since July, a viscous block lava flow, fed by a plug dome on Caliente, has advanced down the E side of the dome, and recently entered the headwater extension of the Río Nimá II system (figure 17). The flow is roughly 2 km long, 30-50 m wide, and 15-20 m high; a rough estimate of the average extrusion rate is 7,500 m3/day. Collapse of the lava flow front occurs frequently, and small-volume block-and-ash avalanches are common events. Merapi-type block and ash flows are less common and travel between 2 and 3 km down the Río Nimá II.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Simplified geologic map of Santiaguito Dome, 1922-November 1990. Streams near Santiaguito are approximately located. Unit dates, such as Rc (1922-90), represent periods of discontinuous activity at each vent. Patterned areas represent very recent activity: Rl - area of active laharic and stream deposition, and very high aggradation rates; Rd - area of recently initiated extensive mass wasting possibly indicating inflation of the El Monje vent and potential reactivation; Rc (v pattern) - active block lava flow on Caliente's summit, with very common (hourly) collapse of the broad toe resulting in hot rock avalanches; Rc (dotted pattern) - extent of the 1986-88 block lava flow from Caliente. Lava flows erupted since July 1990 are shown by diagonal and horizontal line patterns; the S-most unit, extending into the Río Nimá II drainage, was active as of 28 November. Courtesy of Michael Conway.

"Lahars originating at Santiaguito, common during the past rainy season, extended S down the Río Nimá II to its confluence with the Río Samala, and continued for up to 50 km from the dome (figure 18). Diversion of lahars from the Río Samala into the Río Ixpatz occurred as it has in every year since 1983. Hot lahars (temperatures to 45°C were measured 25 km S of the dome) were observed and occurred hours to days after a major pyroclastic eruption. A particularly large lahar on 16 September destroyed the pedestrian bridge at El Palmar, forcing people of the surrounding area to ford the river on foot - a particularly hazardous endeavor during the rainy season. Rapid aggradation from lahars and hyperconcentrated floods continues in the Río Nimá and Río Samala systems.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Sketch map of rivers and towns S of Santiaguito. Locations of drainages are approximate. Areas affected by pyroclastic flows, lahars, and hyperconcentrated floods are marked. Field studies during the 1990 rainy season indicate four zones with distinct hydraulic characteristics. [Courtesy of O. Matías.]

"In order to monitor activity better at Santiaguito, INSIVUMEH and Centro de Prevención de Desastres Naturales en América Central (CEPREDENAC) have constructed a permanent observatory at Finca El Faro, 7 km S of the dome (figure 16). The observatory opened in the second week of November and will be manned around-the-clock, by trained observers. Equipment at the observatory includes: a paired seismometer-seismograph, seismographs for two outlying seismometers; deformation and survey equipment; and hand-held radios and radio-telephone equipment. A key function of the observatory is to act as a training post for geoscientists, and at present 25 geoscientists from throughout Central America are receiving training in seismology, deformation, and volcanic hazards at Santiaguito." [The following originally appeared in BGVN 16:02] The building site was donated by the owners of Finca El Faro and construction costs were paid by the government of Sweden through CEPREDENAC. The facility has laboratory space and a small dormitory, and is intended as a base of operations for volcanologists to work with local scientists at Santiaguito (through INSIVUMEH and other agencies).

Geologic Background. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María 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: Otoniel Matías, INSIVUMEH; Michael Conway, Michigan Tech.


St. Helens (United States) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

St. Helens

United States

46.2°N, 122.18°W; summit elev. 2549 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small explosion from lava dome

A small explosion occurred from the lava dome on 20 December at 1259. The explosion was marked by a small seismic signal that decreased to low levels after several minutes, but continued for several hours. Airplane pilots reported a light gray plume to as much as 7.5 km altitude that was carried SSW by strong winds. A diffuse plume was first evident on satellite images at 1320, moving SSW at ~30 km/hour. By 1600, the plume could no longer be detected on satellite imagery. Light ashfall was reported to 15 km SW of the volcano. No mudflow or water flow event was detected.

Geologic Background. Prior to 1980, Mount St. Helens formed a conical, youthful volcano sometimes known as the Fuji-san of America. During the 1980 eruption the upper 400 m of the summit was removed by slope failure, leaving a 2 x 3.5 km horseshoe-shaped crater now partially filled by a lava dome. Mount St. Helens was formed during nine eruptive periods beginning about 40-50,000 years ago and has been the most active volcano in the Cascade Range during the Holocene. Prior to 2200 years ago, tephra, lava domes, and pyroclastic flows were erupted, forming the older St. Helens edifice, but few lava flows extended beyond the base of the volcano. The modern edifice was constructed during the last 2200 years, when the volcano produced basaltic as well as andesitic and dacitic products from summit and flank vents. Historical eruptions in the 19th century originated from the Goat Rocks area on the north flank, and were witnessed by early settlers.

Information Contacts: CVO; SAB.


Stromboli (Italy) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

38.789°N, 15.213°E; summit elev. 924 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Vigorous tephra ejection and lava fountaining from summit vents

Although the eruption was apparently somewhat less vigorous in late October, activity observed by Boris Behncke on 7-8 November was stronger than during his previous visits in September 1989 and March-April 1990. Vigorous gas emission fed a dense plume that obscured the vent area during the day, but visibility improved after sunset and a clear view of the craters was possible after 2000 on 7 November. Although vent morphology had changed somewhat, vent configuration was much the same as in April.

The main focus of activity was a cluster of at least four vents in C1 (at the NE end of the summit crater group) that were almost continuously erupting. Intense bomb and spatter ejection started at 1717 on 7 November and continued for at least 2 hours, with loud roaring like a jet aircraft. The strongest eruptions occurred from C1's easternmost vent (1), site of nearly continuous bomb ejections in early October. On 7 November, vent 1 ejected lava fountains to 100 m height, often followed within seconds by eruptions from vent 3, the southernmost vent in C1. Individual bursts of spatter, mostly from vent 3, were accompanied by loud explosions; gas had been emitted from this vent nearly once a second in early October. Between stronger bursts, very small lava fountains were continuously active within vents 2 and 3. Spatter was ejected to ~20 m height every 10-20 seconds from vent 3 and another vent to the NE. At 0100 on 8 November, fountains rose 40-50 m from the latter vent, and loud roaring was continuing. None of the vents produced ash plumes after 1800 on 7 November. The former vent at the NE end of C1 had apparently ceased erupting and may have been buried by the growing cone at vent 1, a prominent feature that had been too small to be visible from the summit in April.

Eruptive episodes from C3 (at the SW end of the summit crater group) occurred about twice an hour, producing lava fountains that rose as much as 100 m, and sometimes diffuse brown ash plumes and light tephra falls onto the summit platform. Most episodes consisted of several pulses of fountaining over a period of ~30 seconds. A strong eruptive episode at 1710 on 7 November was followed by bursts of spatter at intervals of 10-20 seconds until 1717. Another particularly violent burst at 2000 covered most of the crater area with glowing bombs and spatter. An area of 3 pits in C3 that had contained actively degassing lava in April was occupied by two small (<1 m diameter) vents that emitted low fountains of spatter. Much of C3 had been filled with recent pyroclastics.

Geologic Background. Spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions at this volcano have long attracted visitors to the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean." Stromboli, the NE-most of the Aeolian Islands, has lent its name to the frequent mild explosive activity that has characterized its eruptions throughout much of historical time. The small island is the emergent summit of a volcano that grew in two main eruptive cycles, the last of which formed the western portion of the island. The Neostromboli eruptive period took place between about 13,000 and 5,000 years ago. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a prominent horseshoe-shaped scarp formed about 5,000 years ago due to a series of slope failures that extend to below sea level. The modern volcano has been constructed within this scarp, which funnels pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows to the NW. Essentially continuous mild Strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded for more than a millennium.

Information Contacts: B. Behncke, Ruhr Univ, Germany.


Unzendake (Japan) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Unzendake

Japan

32.761°N, 130.299°E; summit elev. 1483 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small gas/ash eruption from two new vents; continued seismicity

The following supplements the preliminary report of 17 November activity in 15:10.

Ground and aerial surveys [after the eruption began] by JMA and Kyushu Univ revealed that steam plumes were being continuously erupted from two new craters ~650 m E of the summit (Fugen-dake). One was at the E end of Jigoku-ato crater, the other was 100 m S of Jigoku-ato at the E end of Tsukumo-jima crater; the older craters were larger than the new active vents. The steam plumes were about 300-400 m high, occasionally containing ash on 17-18 November; weak ashfall was noted downwind. No explosion sounds were heard and no clear shocks were recorded. The amplitude of continuous tremor gradually declined, and tremor faded away at around 1900. Steam emission from the vent at Jigoku-ato crater stopped on 18 November, but a steam plume continued to rise from the vent at Tsukumo-jima crater through early December, gradually declining to a few tens of meters in height (figure 7). No damage was reported but a ropeway and an area within 2 km of the active vents were closed to tourists on the morning of 17 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Estimated plume heights from Unzen, 17 November-10 December 1990. Courtesy of JMA.

Earthquakes and tremor episodes had begun in July, with the strongest burst of activity on 25-26 July, and continued at relatively high levels September-November (tables 2 and 3). Seismic activity was almost unchanged before and after the eruption, although seismicity was somewhat stronger in November than during the three previous months. Earthquake swarms occurred at the volcano on 5, 13, 20, and 23 November, contributing to the month's total of 843 recorded events, up from 549 in October and 248 in September. Eighteen shocks were felt in November [at UWS], compared to 15 in October and two in September. The distribution of earthquakes (figure 8) was unchanged from October; most were about 5 km W of the summit at shallow depth. Normal seismicity continued weakly in the Tachibana Bay area about 15 km W of the summit. Few tremor episodes were recorded in the first half of November, but tremor increased in the second half of the month to levels similar to active periods in previous months. Tremor episodes totaled 46 in November, down from 81 in October, while amplitudes were similar to those of previous months. Earthquakes declined in early December, and as of 14 December, no tremor episodes had been recorded since 27 November.

Table 2. Earthquake swarms at Unzen, 1990. Courtesy of JMA.

Date Recorded Earthquakes Felt Earthquakes
07 Jul-08 Jul 1990 35 2
24 Jul-25 Jul 1990 432 26
09 Aug-11 Aug 1990 108 3
17 Oct 1990 56 0
23 Oct 1990 112 8
31 Oct 1990 115 2
05 Nov-06 Nov 1990 87 0
13 Nov 1990 76 4
20 Nov 1990 134 11
23 Nov 1990 136 1

Table 3. Monthly number of earthquakes and tremor episodes at Unzen, 1990. December data are through the 14th. Courtesy of JMA.

Month Recorded Earthquakes Felt Events Tremor Episodes
Jan 1990 74 0 0
Feb 1990 53 1 0
Mar 1990 66 0 0
Apr 1990 162 1 0
May 1990 149 2 0
Jun 1990 208 1 0
Jul 1990 922 34 11
Aug 1990 345 6 56
Sep 1990 248 2 45
Oct 1990 549 15 81
Nov 1990 843 18 46
01-14 Dec 1990 140 2 0
Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Earthquake epicenters in the vicinity of Unzen, July-November 1990. Seismicity typically occurs in Tachibana Bay, but began W of the summit (Fugen-dake) in July. Dots near Fugen-dake mark the 17 November eruption vents. Courtesy of JMA.

Geologic Background. The massive Unzendake volcanic complex comprises much of the Shimabara Peninsula east of the city of Nagasaki. An E-W graben, 30-40 km long, extends across the peninsula. Three large stratovolcanoes with complex structures, Kinugasa on the north, Fugen-dake at the east-center, and Kusenbu on the south, form topographic highs on the broad peninsula. Fugendake and Mayuyama volcanoes in the east-central portion of the andesitic-to-dacitic volcanic complex have been active during the Holocene. The Mayuyama lava dome complex, located along the eastern coast west of Shimabara City, formed about 4000 years ago and was the source of a devastating 1792 CE debris avalanche and tsunami. Historical eruptive activity has been restricted to the summit and flanks of Fugendake. The latest activity during 1990-95 formed a lava dome at the summit, accompanied by pyroclastic flows that caused fatalities and damaged populated areas near Shimabara City.

Information Contacts: JMA.


Yasur (Vanuatu) — November 1990 Citation iconCite this Report

Yasur

Vanuatu

19.532°S, 169.447°E; summit elev. 361 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Incandescent tephra ejection; small lava lakes; strong SO2 emission

The Vanuatu arc was visited by an ORSTOM mission 5-18 September. The following is modified from their report in the LAVE Bulletin.

Volcanic activity, consisting of block and ash emissions, and bubbling lava lakes, seemed slightly decreased since visits during 1988. The configuration of the main crater and its three principal sub-craters (A,B,C; figure 1) remained relatively unchanged. The depth from the summit to the base of the crater was estimated at >350 m, placing activity at or below sea level.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Sketch map of Yasur showing the locations of the principal craters and sub-craters (from Nairn and others, 1988).

In sub-crater A, a new lava lake (~20-25 m in length) was visible; strong turbulence in the lake due to rising gas bubbles caused lava to move N-S. Explosions at other vents (notably one in the S part of sub-crater B) corresponded with increased intensity of lava lake activity. Two other vents in sub-crater A had explosions that ejected ash and incandescent blocks. The blocks had loud detonations on impact.

Projectiles and night glow were visible from a lava lake in sub-crater B, hidden from view by a ridge. Explosions were identified from at least three vents, with frequencies of 1 explosion/5 minutes to 1/hour. Sub-crater C was less active, occasionally emitting puffs of ash or gas following explosions in sub-crater B. There were no visible shock waves or ejecta being deposited outside of the crater, as there were in 1988, suggesting a decrease in the intensity of activity.

Concentrations of 5-10 ppm SO2 were measured in the plume, 1 ppm from the ash plain below the plume, and 0.5 ppm, 3 km from the volcano. The SO2 flux was estimated to be 1,200 ± 600 t/d, based on the measured concentrations and a visual estimate of the plume volume. This is greater than the flux usually registered at other volcanoes in the Vanuatu arc (100-600 t/d). During 1987-88, vegetation in areas downwind from the volcano was affected by gas, ash, and acid rain, causing damage to gardens and coffee plantings.

Reference. Nairn, I.A., Scott, B.J., and Giggenbach, W.F., 1988, Yasur volcano investigations, Vanuatu, Sept. 1988: New Zealand Geological Survey Report, no. G134, 74 p.

Further Reference. Eissen, J.P., Monzier, M., Robin, C., Picard, C., and Douglas, C., 1990, Report on the volcanological field work on Ambrym and Tanna Islands (Vanuatu) from 2 to 25 September 1990: Rapport Missions Sci Terre Geologie-Geophysique - ORSTOM (Noumea), no. 22, p. 1-22.

Geologic Background. Yasur, the best-known and most frequently visited of the Vanuatu volcanoes, has been in more-or-less continuous Strombolian and Vulcanian activity since Captain Cook observed ash eruptions in 1774. This style of activity may have continued for the past 800 years. Located at the SE tip of Tanna Island, this mostly unvegetated pyroclastic cone has a nearly circular, 400-m-wide summit crater. The active cone is largely contained within the small Yenkahe caldera, and is the youngest of a group of Holocene volcanic centers constructed over the down-dropped NE flank of the Pleistocene Tukosmeru volcano. The Yenkahe horst is located within the Siwi ring fracture, a 4-km-wide, horseshoe-shaped caldera associated with eruption of the andesitic Siwi pyroclastic sequence. Active tectonism along the Yenkahe horst accompanying eruptions has raised Port Resolution harbor more than 20 m during the past century.

Information Contacts: M. Lardy, ORSTOM, New Caledonia; B. Marty, CNRS, France; LAVE.

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.

Atmospheric Effects (1980-1989)  Atmospheric Effects (1995-2001)

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

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.

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


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


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


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


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


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

08/1997 (BGVN 22:08) False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

False report of volcanism intended to exclude would-be gold miners

12/1997 (BGVN 22:12) False Report of Somalia Eruption

Press reports of Somalia's first historical eruption were likely in error

11/1999 (BGVN 24:11) False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

05/2003 (BGVN 28:05) Har-Togoo

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

False report of activity; confusion caused by burning dung in a lava tube



False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption (Philippines) — August 1997

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

7.975°N, 123.23°E; summit elev. 1510 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


False report of volcanism intended to exclude would-be gold miners

In discussing the week ending on 12 September, "Earthweek" (Newman, 1997) incorrectly claimed that a volcano named "Mount Pinukis" had erupted. Widely read in the US, the dramatic Earthweek report described terrified farmers and a black mushroom cloud that resembled a nuclear explosion. The mountain's location was given as "200 km E of Zamboanga City," a spot well into the sea. The purported eruption had received mention in a Manila Bulletin newspaper report nine days earlier, on 4 September. Their comparatively understated report said that a local police director had disclosed that residents had seen a dormant volcano showing signs of activity.

In response to these news reports Emmanuel Ramos of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) sent a reply on 17 September. PHIVOLCS staff had initially heard that there were some 12 alleged families who fled the mountain and sought shelter in the lowlands. A PHIVOLCS investigation team later found that the reported "families" were actually individuals seeking respite from some politically motivated harassment. The story seems to have stemmed from a local gold rush and an influential politician who wanted to use volcanism as a ploy to exclude residents. PHIVOLCS concluded that no volcanic activity had occurred. They also added that this finding disappointed local politicians but was much welcomed by the residents.

PHIVOLCS spelled the mountain's name as "Pinokis" and from their report it seems that it might be an inactive volcano. There is no known Holocene volcano with a similar name (Simkin and Siebert, 1994). No similar names (Pinokis, Pinukis, Pinakis, etc.) were found listed in the National Imagery and Mapping Agency GEOnet Names Server (http://geonames.nga.mil/gns/html/index.html), a searchable database of 3.3 million non-US geographic-feature names.

The Manila Bulletin report suggested that Pinokis resides on the Zamboanga Peninsula. The Peninsula lies on Mindanao Island's extreme W side where it bounds the Moro Gulf, an arm of the Celebes Sea. The mountainous Peninsula trends NNE-SSW and contains peaks with summit elevations near 1,300 m. Zamboanga City sits at the extreme end of the Peninsula and operates both a major seaport and an international airport.

[Later investigation found that Mt. Pinokis is located in the Lison Valley on the Zamboanga Peninsula, about 170 km NE of Zamboanga City and 30 km NW of Pagadian City. It is adjacent to the two peaks of the Susong Dalaga (Maiden's Breast) and near Mt. Sugarloaf.]

References. Newman, S., 1997, Earthweek, a diary of the planet (week ending 12 September): syndicated newspaper column (URL: http://www.earthweek.com/).

Manila Bulletin, 4 Sept. 1997, Dante's Peak (URL: http://www.mb.com.ph/).

Simkin, T., and Siebert, L., 1994, Volcanoes of the world, 2nd edition: Geoscience Press in association with the Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program, Tucson AZ, 368 p.

Information Contacts: Emmanuel G. Ramos, Deputy Director, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Department of Science and Technology, PHIVOLCS Building, C. P. Garcia Ave., University of the Philippines, Diliman campus, Quezon City, Philippines.


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Press reports of Somalia's first historical eruption were likely in error

Xinhua News Agency filed a news report on 27 February under the headline "Volcano erupts in Somalia" but the veracity of the story now appears doubtful. The report disclosed the volcano's location as on the W side of the Gedo region, an area along the Ethiopian border just NE of Kenya. The report had relied on the commissioner of the town of Bohol Garas (a settlement described as 40 km NE of the main Al-Itihad headquarters of Luq town) and some or all of the information was relayed by journalists through VHF radio. The report claimed the disaster "wounded six herdsmen" and "claimed the lives of 290 goats grazing near the mountain when the incident took place." Further descriptions included such statements as "the volcano which erupted two days ago [25 February] has melted down the rocks and sand and spread . . . ."

Giday WoldeGabriel returned from three weeks of geological fieldwork in SW Ethiopia, near the Kenyan border, on 25 August. During his time there he inquired of many people, including geologists, if they had heard of a Somalian eruption in the Gedo area; no one had heard of the event. WoldeGabriel stated that he felt the news report could have described an old mine or bomb exploding. Heavy fighting took place in the Gedo region during the Ethio-Somalian war of 1977. Somalia lacks an embassy in Washington DC; when asked during late August, Ayalaw Yiman, an Ethiopian embassy staff member in Washington DC also lacked any knowledge of a Somalian eruption.

A Somalian eruption would be significant since the closest known Holocene volcanoes occur in the central Ethiopian segment of the East African rift system S of Addis Ababa, ~500 km NW of the Gedo area. These Ethiopian rift volcanoes include volcanic fields, shield volcanoes, cinder cones, and stratovolcanoes.

Information Contacts: Xinhua News Agency, 5 Sharp Street West, Wanchai, Hong Kong; Giday WoldeGabriel, EES-1/MS D462, Geology-Geochemistry Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545; Ayalaw Yiman, Ethiopian Embassy, 2134 Kalorama Rd. NW, Washington DC 20008.


False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption (Turkey) — November 1999

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

Following the Ms 7.8 earthquake in Turkey on 17 August (BGVN 24:08) an Email message originating in Turkey was circulated, claiming that volcanic activity was observed coincident with the earthquake and suggesting a new (magmatic) volcano in the Sea of Marmara. For reasons outlined below, and in the absence of further evidence, editors of the Bulletin consider this a false report.

The report stated that fishermen near the village of Cinarcik, at the E end of the Sea of Marmara "saw the sea turned red with fireballs" shortly after the onset of the earthquake. They later found dead fish that appeared "fried." Their nets were "burned" while under water and contained samples of rocks alleged to look "magmatic."

No samples of the fish were preserved. A tectonic scientist in Istanbul speculated that hot water released by the earthquake from the many hot springs along the coast in that area may have killed some fish (although they would be boiled rather than fried).

The phenomenon called earthquake lights could explain the "fireballs" reportedly seen by the fishermen. Such effects have been reasonably established associated with large earthquakes, although their origin remains poorly understood. In addition to deformation-triggered piezoelectric effects, earthquake lights have sometimes been explained as due to the release of methane gas in areas of mass wasting (even under water). Omlin and others (1999), for example, found gas hydrate and methane releases associated with mud volcanoes in coastal submarine environments.

The astronomer and author Thomas Gold (Gold, 1998) has a website (Gold, 2000) where he presents a series of alleged quotes from witnesses of earthquakes. We include three such quotes here (along with Gold's dates, attributions, and other comments):

(A) Lima, 30 March 1828. "Water in the bay 'hissed as if hot iron was immersed in it,' bubbles and dead fish rose to the surface, and the anchor chain of HMS Volage was partially fused while lying in the mud on the bottom." (Attributed to Bagnold, 1829; the anchor chain is reported to be on display in the London Navy Museum.)

(B) Romania, 10 November 1940. ". . . a thick layer like a translucid gas above the surface of the soil . . . irregular gas fires . . . flames in rhythm with the movements of the soil . . . flashes like lightning from the floor to the summit of Mt Tampa . . . flames issuing from rocks, which crumbled, with flashes also issuing from non-wooded mountainsides." (Phrases used in eyewitness accounts collected by Demetrescu and Petrescu, 1941).

(C) Sungpan-Pingwu (China), 16, 22, and 23 August 1976. "From March of 1976, various large anomalies were observed over a broad region. . . . At the Wanchia commune of Chungching County, outbursts of natural gas from rock fissures ignited and were difficult to extinguish even by dumping dirt over the fissures. . . . Chu Chieh Cho, of the Provincial Seismological Bureau, related personally seeing a fireball 75 km from the epicenter on the night of 21 July while in the company of three professional seismologists."

Yalciner and others (1999) made a study of coastal areas along the Sea of Marmara after the Izmet earthquake. They found evidence for one or more tsunamis with maximum runups of 2.0-2.5 m. Preliminary modeling of the earthquake's response failed to reproduce the observed runups; the areas of maximum runup instead appeared to correspond most closely with several local mass-failure events. This observation together with the magnitude of the earthquake, and bottom soundings from marine geophysical teams, suggested mass wasting may have been fairly common on the floor of the Sea of Marmara.

Despite a wide range of poorly understood, dramatic processes associated with earthquakes (Izmet 1999 apparently included), there remains little evidence for volcanism around the time of the earthquake. The nearest Holocene volcano lies ~200 km SW of the report location. Neither Turkish geologists nor scientists from other countries in Turkey to study the 17 August earthquake reported any volcanism. The report said the fisherman found "magmatic" rocks; it is unlikely they would be familiar with this term.

The motivation and credibility of the report's originator, Erol Erkmen, are unknown. Certainly, the difficulty in translating from Turkish to English may have caused some problems in understanding. Erkmen is associated with a website devoted to reporting UFO activity in Turkey. Photographs of a "magmatic rock" sample were sent to the Bulletin, but they only showed dark rocks photographed devoid of a scale on a featureless background. The rocks shown did not appear to be vesicular or glassy. What was most significant to Bulletin editors was the report author's progressive reluctance to provide samples or encourage follow-up investigation with local scientists. Without the collaboration of trained scientists on the scene this report cannot be validated.

References. Omlin, A, Damm, E., Mienert, J., and Lukas, D., 1999, In-situ detection of methane releases adjacent to gas hydrate fields on the Norwegian margin: (Abstract) Fall AGU meeting 1999, Eos, American Geophysical Union.

Yalciner, A.C., Borrero, J., Kukano, U., Watts, P., Synolakis, C. E., and Imamura, F., 1999, Field survey of 1999 Izmit tsunami and modeling effort of new tsunami generation mechanism: (Abstract) Fall AGU meeting 1999, Eos, American Geophysical Union.

Gold, T., 1998, The deep hot biosphere: Springer Verlag, 256 p., ISBN: 0387985468.

Gold, T., 2000, Eye-witness accounts of several major earthquakes (URL: http://www.people.cornell.edu/ pages/tg21/eyewit.html).

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

48.831°N, 101.626°E; summit elev. 1675 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

In December 2002 information appeared in Mongolian and Russian newspapers and on national TV that a volcano in Central Mongolia, the Har-Togoo volcano, was producing white vapors and constant acoustic noise. Because of the potential hazard posed to two nearby settlements, mainly with regard to potential blocking of rivers, the Director of the Research Center of Astronomy and Geophysics of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Dr. Bekhtur, organized a scientific expedition to the volcano on 19-20 March 2003. The scientific team also included M. Ulziibat, seismologist from the same Research Center, M. Ganzorig, the Director of the Institute of Informatics, and A. Ivanov from the Institute of the Earth's Crust, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Geological setting. The Miocene Har-Togoo shield volcano is situated on top of a vast volcanic plateau (figure 1). The 5,000-year-old Khorog (Horog) cone in the Taryatu-Chulutu volcanic field is located 135 km SW and the Quaternary Urun-Dush cone in the Khanuy Gol (Hanuy Gol) volcanic field is 95 km ENE. Pliocene and Quaternary volcanic rocks are also abundant in the vicinity of the Holocene volcanoes (Devyatkin and Smelov, 1979; Logatchev and others, 1982). Analysis of seismic activity recorded by a network of seismic stations across Mongolia shows that earthquakes of magnitude 2-3.5 are scattered around the Har-Togoo volcano at a distance of 10-15 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Photograph of the Har-Togoo volcano viewed from west, March 2003. Courtesy of Alexei Ivanov.

Observations during March 2003. The name of the volcano in the Mongolian language means "black-pot" and through questioning of the local inhabitants, it was learned that there is a local myth that a dragon lived in the volcano. The local inhabitants also mentioned that marmots, previously abundant in the area, began to migrate westwards five years ago; they are now practically absent from the area.

Acoustic noise and venting of colorless warm gas from a small hole near the summit were noticed in October 2002 by local residents. In December 2002, while snow lay on the ground, the hole was clearly visible to local visitors, and a second hole could be seen a few meters away; it is unclear whether or not white vapors were noticed on this occasion. During the inspection in March 2003 a third hole was seen. The second hole is located within a 3 x 3 m outcrop of cinder and pumice (figure 2) whereas the first and the third holes are located within massive basalts. When close to the holes, constant noise resembled a rapid river heard from afar. The second hole was covered with plastic sheeting fixed at the margins, but the plastic was blown off within 2-3 seconds. Gas from the second hole was sampled in a mechanically pumped glass sampler. Analysis by gas chromatography, performed a week later at the Institute of the Earth's Crust, showed that nitrogen and atmospheric air were the major constituents.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Photograph of the second hole sampled at Har-Togoo, with hammer for scale, March 2003. Courtesy of Alexei Ivanov.

The temperature of the gas at the first, second, and third holes was +1.1, +1.4, and +2.7°C, respectively, while air temperature was -4.6 to -4.7°C (measured on 19 March 2003). Repeated measurements of the temperatures on the next day gave values of +1.1, +0.8, and -6.0°C at the first, second, and third holes, respectively. Air temperature was -9.4°C. To avoid bias due to direct heating from sunlight the measurements were performed under shadow. All measurements were done with Chechtemp2 digital thermometer with precision of ± 0.1°C and accuracy ± 0.3°C.

Inside the mouth of the first hole was 4-10-cm-thick ice with suspended gas bubbles (figure 5). The ice and snow were sampled in plastic bottles, melted, and tested for pH and Eh with digital meters. The pH-meter was calibrated by Horiba Ltd (Kyoto, Japan) standard solutions 4 and 7. Water from melted ice appeared to be slightly acidic (pH 6.52) in comparison to water of melted snow (pH 7.04). Both pH values were within neutral solution values. No prominent difference in Eh (108 and 117 for ice and snow, respectively) was revealed.

Two digital short-period three-component stations were installed on top of Har-Togoo, one 50 m from the degassing holes and one in a remote area on basement rocks, for monitoring during 19-20 March 2003. Every hour 1-3 microseismic events with magnitude <2 were recorded. All seismic events were virtually identical and resembled A-type volcano-tectonic earthquakes (figure 6). Arrival difference between S and P waves were around 0.06-0.3 seconds for the Har-Togoo station and 0.1-1.5 seconds for the remote station. Assuming that the Har-Togoo station was located in the epicentral zone, the events were located at ~1-3 km depth. Seismic episodes similar to volcanic tremors were also recorded (figure 3).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Examples of an A-type volcano-tectonic earthquake and volcanic tremor episodes recorded at the Har-Togoo station on 19 March 2003. Courtesy of Alexei Ivanov.

Conclusions. The abnormal thermal and seismic activities could be the result of either hydrothermal or volcanic processes. This activity could have started in the fall of 2002 when they were directly observed for the first time, or possibly up to five years earlier when marmots started migrating from the area. Further studies are planned to investigate the cause of the fumarolic and seismic activities.

At the end of a second visit in early July, gas venting had stopped, but seismicity was continuing. In August there will be a workshop on Russian-Mongolian cooperation between Institutions of the Russian and Mongolian Academies of Sciences (held in Ulan-Bator, Mongolia), where the work being done on this volcano will be presented.

References. Devyatkin, E.V. and Smelov, S.B., 1979, Position of basalts in sequence of Cenozoic sediments of Mongolia: Izvestiya USSR Academy of Sciences, geological series, no. 1, p. 16-29. (In Russian).

Logatchev, N.A., Devyatkin, E.V., Malaeva, E.M., and others, 1982, Cenozoic deposits of Taryat basin and Chulutu river valley (Central Hangai): Izvestiya USSR Academy of Sciences, geological series, no. 8, p. 76-86. (In Russian).

Geologic Background. The Miocene Har-Togoo shield volcano, also known as Togoo Tologoy, is situated on top of a vast volcanic plateau. The 5,000-year-old Khorog (Horog) cone in the Taryatu-Chulutu volcanic field is located 135 km SW and the Quaternary Urun-Dush cone in the Khanuy Gol (Hanuy Gol) volcanic field is 95 km ENE. Analysis of seismic activity recorded by a network of seismic stations across Mongolia shows that earthquakes of magnitude 2-3.5 are scattered around the Har-Togoo volcano at a distance of 10-15 km.

Information Contacts: Alexei V. Ivanov, Institute of the Earth Crust SB, Russian Academy of Sciences, Irkutsk, Russia; Bekhtur andM. Ulziibat, Research Center of Astronomy and Geophysics, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ulan-Bator, Mongolia; M. Ganzorig, Institute of Informatics MAS, Ulan-Bator, Mongolia.


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

1.136°N, 34.559°E; summit elev. 3885 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


False report of activity; confusion caused by burning dung in a lava tube

An eruption at Mount Elgon was mistakenly inferred when fumes escaped from this otherwise quiet volcano. The fumes were eventually traced to dung burning in a lava-tube cave. The cave is home to, or visited by, wildlife ranging from bats to elephants. Mt. Elgon (Ol Doinyo Ilgoon) is a stratovolcano on the SW margin of a 13 x 16 km caldera that straddles the Uganda-Kenya border 140 km NE of the N shore of Lake Victoria. No eruptions are known in the historical record or in the Holocene.

On 7 September 2004 the web site of the Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation reported that villagers sighted and smelled noxious fumes from a cave on the flank of Mt. Elgon during August 2005. The villagers' concerns were taken quite seriously by both nations, to the extent that evacuation of nearby villages was considered.

The Daily Nation article added that shortly after the villagers' reports, Moses Masibo, Kenya's Western Province geology officer visited the cave, confirmed the villagers observations, and added that the temperature in the cave was 170°C. He recommended that nearby villagers move to safer locations. Masibo and Silas Simiyu of KenGens geothermal department collected ashes from the cave for testing.

Gerald Ernst reported on 19 September 2004 that he spoke with two local geologists involved with the Elgon crisis from the Geology Department of the University of Nairobi (Jiromo campus): Professor Nyambok and Zacharia Kuria (the former is a senior scientist who was unable to go in the field; the latter is a junior scientist who visited the site). According to Ernst their interpretation is that somebody set fire to bat guano in one of the caves. The fire was intense and probably explains the vigorous fuming, high temperatures, and suffocated animals. The event was also accompanied by emissions of gases with an ammonia odor. Ernst noted that this was not surprising considering the high nitrogen content of guano—ammonia is highly toxic and can also explain the animal deaths. The intense fumes initially caused substantial panic in the area.

It was Ernst's understanding that the authorities ordered evacuations while awaiting a report from local scientists, but that people returned before the report reached the authorities. The fire presumably prompted the response of local authorities who then urged the University geologists to analyze the situation. By the time geologists arrived, the fuming had ceased, or nearly so. The residue left by the fire and other observations led them to conclude that nothing remotely related to a volcanic eruption had occurred.

However, the incident emphasized the problem due to lack of a seismic station to monitor tectonic activity related to a local triple junction associated with the rift valley or volcanic seismicity. In response, one seismic station was moved from S Kenya to the area of Mt. Elgon so that local seismicity can be monitored in the future.

Information Contacts: Gerald Ernst, Univ. of Ghent, Krijgslaan 281/S8, B-9000, Belgium; Chris Newhall, USGS, Univ. of Washington, Dept. of Earth & Space Sciences, Box 351310, Seattle, WA 98195-1310, USA; The Daily Nation (URL: http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/); Uganda Tourist Board (URL: http://www.visituganda.com/).