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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

Nishinoshima (Japan) Eruption ends in late August 2020; lengthy cooling from extensive lava flows and large crater

Nyiragongo (DR Congo) Strong thermal anomalies and gas emission from lava lake through November 2020

Kerinci (Indonesia) Intermittent ash plumes and gas-and-steam emissions during June-November 2020

Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) Gas-and-steam emissions with some re-suspended ash in November 2020

Suwanosejima (Japan) Explosion rate increases during July-December 2020, bomb ejected 1.3 km from crater on 28 December

Karangetang (Indonesia) Hot material on the NW flank in November 2020; intermittent crater thermal anomalies

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) Dome growth and ash emissions continue during July-December 2020

Ibu (Indonesia) Persistent daily ash emissions and thermal anomalies, July-December 2020

Etna (Italy) Strombolian explosions and ash plumes persist from multiple craters during August-November 2020

Copahue (Chile-Argentina) New eruption in June-October 2020 with crater incandescence, ash plumes, and local ashfall

Masaya (Nicaragua) Lava lake continues accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions during June-November 2020

Nevados de Chillan (Chile) Frequent explosions, a lava flow on the N flank, and lava dome growth during July-October 2020



Nishinoshima (Japan) — February 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Nishinoshima

Japan

27.247°N, 140.874°E; summit elev. 25 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption ends in late August 2020; lengthy cooling from extensive lava flows and large crater

Japan’s Nishinoshima volcano, located about 1,000 km S of Tokyo in the Ogasawara Arc, erupted above sea level in November 2013 after 40 years of dormancy. Activity lasted for two years followed by two brief eruptions in 2017 and 2018. The next eruption, from early December 2019 through August 2020, included ash plumes, incandescent ejecta, and lava flows; it produced a large pyroclastic cone with a wide summit crater and extensive lava flows that significantly enlarged the island. This report covers the end of the eruption and cooling during September 2020-January 2021. Information is provided primarily from Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) monthly reports and the Japan Coast Guard (JCG), which makes regular observation overflights.

Ash emissions were last reported on 27 August 2020. The very high levels of thermal energy from numerous lava flows, ash, and incandescent tephra that peaked during early July decreased significantly during August and September. Continued cooling of the fresh lava and the summit crater lasted into early January 2021 (figure 107). Monthly overflights and observations by scientists confirmed areas of steam emissions at the summit and on the flanks and discolored water around the island, but no eruptive activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. High levels of thermal activity at Nishinoshima during June and July 2020 resulted from extensive lava flows and explosions of incandescent tephra. Although the last ash emission was reported on 27 August 2020, cooling of new material lasted into early January 2021. The MIROVA log radiative power graph of thermal activity covers the year ending on 3 February 2021. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Thermal activity declined significantly at Nishinoshima during August 2020 (BGVN 45:09). Only two days had two MODVOLC alerts (11 and 30), and four other days (18, 20, 21, 29) had single alerts. During JCG overflights on 19 and 23 August there were no ash emissions or lava flows observed, although steam plumes rose over 2 km above the summit crater during both visits. The last ash emission was reported by the Tokyo VAAC on 27 August 2020. No eruptive activity was observed by JMA during an overflight on 5 September, but steam plumes were rising from the summit crater (figure 108). No significant changes were observed in the shape of the pyroclastic cone or the coastline. Yellowish brown discolored water appeared around the western half of the island, and high temperature was still measured on the inner wall of the crater. Faint traces of SO2 plumes were present in satellite images in early September; the last plume identified was on 18 September. Six days with single MODVOLC alerts were recorded during 3-19 September, and the final thermal alert appeared on 1 October 2020.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. No eruptive activity was observed during a JMA overflight of Nishinoshima on 5 September 2020, but steam rose from numerous places within the enlarged summit crater (inset). Courtesy of JMA and JCG (Monthly report of activity at Nishinoshima, September 2020).

Steam plumes and high temperatures were noted at the summit crater on 28 October, and brown discolored water was present around the S coast of the island (figure 109), but there were no other signs of volcanic activity. Observations from the sea conducted on 2 November 2020 by researchers aboard the Maritime Meteorological Observatory marine weather observation ship "Ryofu Maru" confirmed there was no ongoing eruptive activity. In addition to steam plumes at the summit, they also noted steam rising from multiple cracks on the cooling surface of the lava flow area on the N side of the pyroclastic cone (figure 110). Only steam plumes from inside the summit crater were observed during an overflight on 24 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. On a JCG overflight above Nishinoshima on 28 October 2020 there were no signs of eruptive activity; steam plumes were present in the summit crater and brown discolored water was visible around the S coast of the island. Courtesy of JMA and JCG (Monthly report of activity at Nishinoshima, October 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. Observations of Nishinoshima by staff aboard the Maritime Meteorological Observatory ship "Ryofu Maru" on 2 November 2020 showed a steam plume rising from the lava flow area on the N side of the pyroclastic cone (arrow) and minor steam above the cone. Courtesy of JMA (Monthly report of activity at Nishinoshima, November 2020).

JMA reduced the warning area around the crater on 18 December 2020 from 2.5 to 1.5 km due to decreased activity. On 7 December a steam plume rose from the inner wall of the summit crater and thermal imaging indicated the area was still hot. Brown discolored water was observed on the SE and SW coasts. Researchers aboard a ship from the Earthquake Research Institute at the University of Tokyo and the Marine Research and Development Organization reported continued steam plumes in the summit crater, around the lava flows on the N flank, and along the S coast during 15-29 December (figure 111). Steam plumes and elevated temperatures were still measured inside the summit crater during an overflight by the Japan Coast Guard on 25 January 2021, and discolored water persisted on the SE and SW coasts; there was no evidence of eruptive activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. Observations of Nishinoshima from the sea by researchers from the Earthquake Research Institute (University of Tokyo) and the Marine Research and Development Organization, which took place from 15-29 December 2020, showed fumarolic acitivity not only inside the summit crater, but also in the lava flow area on the N side of the pyroclastic cone (left, 20 December) and in places along the southern coast (right, 23 December). (Monthly report of activity at Nishinoshima, December 2020).

Geologic Background. The small island of Nishinoshima was enlarged when several new islands coalesced during an eruption in 1973-74. Another eruption that began offshore in 2013 completely covered the previous exposed surface and enlarged the island again. Water discoloration has been observed on several occasions since. The island is the summit of a massive submarine volcano that has prominent satellitic peaks to the S, W, and NE. The summit of the southern cone rises to within 214 m of the sea surface 9 km SSE.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Japan Coast Guard (JCG) Volcano Database, Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department, 3-1-1, Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8932, Japan (URL: http://www.kaiho.mlit.go.jp/info/kouhou/h29/index.html); Volcano Research Center (VRC-ERI), Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan (URL: http://www.eri.u-tokyo.ac.jp/topics/ASAMA2004/index-e.html); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); NASA 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/).


Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strong thermal anomalies and gas emission from lava lake through November 2020

Nyiragongo is a stratovolcano in the DR Congo with a deep summit crater containing a lava lake and a small active cone. During June 2018-May 2020, the volcano exhibited strong thermal signals primarily due to the lava lake, along with incandescence, seismicity, and gas-and-steam plumes (BGVN 44:05, 44:12, 45:06). The volcano is monitored by the Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG). This report summarizes activity during June-November 2020, based on satellite data.

Infrared MODIS satellite data showed almost daily strong thermal activity during June-November 2020 from MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), consistent with a large lava lake. Numerous hotspots were also identified every month by MODVOLC. Although clouds frequently obscured the view from space, a clear Sentinel-2 image in early June showed a gas-and-steam plume as well as a strong thermal anomaly (figure 76).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of Nyiragongo on 1 June 2020. A gas-and-steam is visible in the natural color image (bands 4, 3, 2) rising from a pit in the center of the crater (left), while the false color image (bands 12, 11, 4) reveals a strong thermal signal from a lava lake (right). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During the first half of June 2020, OVG reported that SO2 levels had decreased compared to levels in May (7,000 tons/day); during the second half of June the SO2 flux began to increase again. High levels of sulfur dioxide were recorded almost every day in the region above or near the volcano by the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) aboard the Copernicus Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite (figure 77). According to OVG, SO2 flux ranged from 819-5,819 tons/day during June. The number of days with a high SO2 flux decreased somewhat in July and August, with high levels recorded during about half of the days. The volume of SO2 emissions slightly increased in early July, based on data from the DOAS station in Rusayo, measuring 6,787 tons/day on 8 July (the highest value reported during this reporting period), and then declined to 509 tons/day by 20 July. The SO2 flux continued to gradually decline, with high values of 5,153 tons/day in August and 4,468 tons/day in September. The number of days with high SO2 decreased further in September and October but returned to about half of the days in November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. TROPOMI image of SO2 plume on 27 June 2020 in the Nyiragongo-Nyamulagira area. The plume drifted SSE. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

During 12-13 July a multidisciplinary team of OVG scientists visited the volcano to take measurements of the crater using a TCRM1102 Plus2 laser. They noted that the crater had expanded by 47.3 mm in the SW area, due to the rise in the lava lake level since early 2020. The OVG team took photos of the small cone in the lava lake that has been active since 2014, recently characterized by white gas-and-steam emissions (figure 78). OVG noted that the active lava lake had subsided roughly 20 m (figure78).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Photos (color corrected) of the crater at Nyiragongo showing the small active cone generating gas-and-steam emissions (left) and the active lava lake also characterized by white gas-and-steam emissions on 12 July 2020 (right). Courtesy of OVG (Rapport OVG Juillet 2020).

Geologic Background. One of Africa's most notable volcanoes, Nyiragongo contained a lava lake in its deep summit crater that was active for half a century before draining catastrophically through its outer flanks in 1977. The steep slopes of a stratovolcano contrast to the low profile of its neighboring shield volcano, Nyamuragira. Benches in the steep-walled, 1.2-km-wide summit crater mark levels of former lava lakes, which have been observed since the late-19th century. Two older stratovolcanoes, Baruta and Shaheru, are partially overlapped by Nyiragongo on the north and south. About 100 parasitic cones are located primarily along radial fissures south of Shaheru, east of the summit, and along a NE-SW zone extending as far as Lake Kivu. Many cones are buried by voluminous lava flows that extend long distances down the flanks, which is characterized by the eruption of foiditic rocks. The extremely fluid 1977 lava flows caused many fatalities, as did lava flows that inundated portions of the major city of Goma in January 2002.

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; 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); NASA 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/).


Kerinci (Indonesia) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

1.697°S, 101.264°E; summit elev. 3800 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash plumes and gas-and-steam emissions during June-November 2020

Kerinci, located in Sumatra, Indonesia, has had numerous explosive eruptions since 1838, with more recent activity characterized by gas-and-steam and ash plumes. The current eruptive episode began in April 2018 and has recently consisted of intermittent brown ash emissions and white gas-and-steam emissions (BGVN 45:07); similar activity continued from June through November 2020. Information primarily comes from the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM, or the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation), MAGMA Indonesia, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and satellite data.

Activity has been characterized by dominantly white and brown gas-and-steam emissions and occasional ash plumes, according to PVMBG. Near daily gas-and-steam emissions were observed rising 50-6,400 m above the crater throughout the reporting period: beginning in late July and continuing intermittently though November. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed frequent brown emissions rising above the summit crater at varying intensities and drifting in different directions from July to November (figure 21).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of brown emissions at Kerinci from July through November 2020 drifting in multiple directions. On 27 July (top left) the brown emissions drifted SW. On 31 August (top right) the brown emissions drifted W. On 2 September (bottom left) slightly weaker brown emissions drifting W. On 4 November (bottom right) weak brown emissions mostly remained within the crater, some of which drifted E. Images using “Natural Color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During June through July the only activity reported by PVMBG consisted of white gas-and-steam emissions and brown emissions. On 4 June white gas-and-steam emissions rose to a maximum height of 6.4 km above the crater. White-and-brown emissions rose to a maximum height of 700 m above the crater on 2 June and 28 July.

Continuous white-and-brown gas-and-steam emissions were reported in August that rose 50-1,000 m above the crater. The number of ash plumes reported during this month increased compared to the previous months. In a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) issued on 7 August at 1024, PVMBG reported an ash plume that rose 600 m above the crater and drifted E, SE, and NE. In addition, the Darwin VAAC released two notices that described continuous minor ash emissions rising to 4.3 km altitude and drifting E and NE. On 9 August an ash plume rose 600 m above the crater and drifted ENE at 1140. An ash plume was observed rising to a maximum of 1 km above the crater, drifting E, SE, and NE on 12 August at 1602, according to a PVMBG VONA and Darwin VAAC advisory. The following day, brown emissions rose to a maximum of 1 km above the crater and were accompanied by a 600-m-high ash plume that drifted ENE at 1225. Ground observers on 15 August reported an eruption column that rose to 4.6 km altitude; PVMBG described brown ash emissions up to 800 m above the crater drifting NW at 0731 (figure 22). During 20-21 August pilots reported an ash plume rising 150-770 m above the crater drifting NE and SW, respectively.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Webcam image of an ash plume rising above Kerinci on 15 August 2020. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

Activity in September had decreased slightly compared to the previous month, characterized by only white-and-brown gas-and-steam emissions that rose 50-300 m above the crater; solely brown emissions were observed on 30 September and rose 50-100 m above the crater. This low level of activity persisted into October, with white gas-and-steam emissions to 50-200 m above the crater and brown emissions rising 50-300 m above the crater. On 16 October PVMBG released a VONA at 0340 that reported an ash plume rising 687 m above the crater and drifting NE. On 17 October white, brown, and black ash plumes that rose 100-800 m above the crater drifted NE according to both PVMBG and a Darwin VAAC advisory (figure 23). During 18-19 October white, brown, and black ash emissions rose up to 400 m above the crater and drifted NE and E.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Webcam image of a brown ash emission from Kerinci on 17 October 2020. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

Geologic Background. Gunung Kerinci in central Sumatra forms Indonesia's highest volcano and is one of the most active in Sumatra. It is capped by an unvegetated young summit cone that was constructed NE of an older crater remnant. There is a deep 600-m-wide summit crater often partially filled by a small crater lake that lies on the NE crater floor, opposite the SW-rim summit. The massive 13 x 25 km wide volcano towers 2400-3300 m above surrounding plains and is elongated in a N-S direction. Frequently active, Kerinci has been the source of numerous moderate explosive eruptions since its first recorded eruption in 1838.

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/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Whakaari/White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Gas-and-steam emissions with some re-suspended ash in November 2020

Whakaari/White Island, located in the Bay of Plenty 50 km offshore of North Island, has been New Zealand’s most active volcano since 1976. Activity has been previously characterized by phreatic activity, explosions, and ash emissions (BGVN 42:05). The most recent eruption occurred on 9 December 2019, which consisted of an explosion that generated an ash plume and pyroclastic surge that affected the entire crater area, resulting in 21 fatalities and many injuries (BGVN 45:02). This report updates information from February through November 2020, which includes dominantly gas-and-steam emissions along with elevated surface temperatures, using reports from the New Zealand GeoNet Project, the Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and satellite data.

Activity at Whakaari/White Island has declined and has been dominated by white gas-and-steam emissions during the reporting period; no explosive eruptive activity has been detected since 9 December 2019. During February through 22 June, the Volcanic Activity Level (VAL) remained at a 2 (moderate to heightened volcanic unrest) and the Aviation Color Code was Yellow. GeoNet reported that satellite data showed some subsidence along the W wall of the Main Crater and near the 1914 landslide scarp, though the rate had reduced compared to previous months. Thermal infrared data indicated that the fumarolic gases and five lobes of lava that were first observed in early January 2020 in the Main Crater were 550-570°C on 4 February and 660°C on 19 February. A small pond of water had begun to form in the vent area and exhibited small-scale gas-and-steam-driven water jetting, similar to the activity during September-December 2019. Gas data showed a steady decline in SO2 and CO2 levels, though overall they were still slightly elevated.

Similar activity was reported in March and April; the temperatures of the fumaroles and lava in the Main Crater were 746°C on 10 March, the highest recorded temperature to date. SO2 and CO2 gas emissions remained elevated, though had overall decreased since December 2019. Small-scale water jetting continued to be observed in the vent area. During April, public reports mentioned heightened gas-and-steam activity, but no eruptions were detected. A GeoNet report issued on 16 April stated that high temperatures were apparent in the vent area at night.

Whakaari remained at an elevated state of unrest during May, consisting of dominantly gas-and-steam emissions. Monitoring flights noted that SO2 and CO2 emissions had increased briefly during 20-27 May. On 20 May, the lava lobes remained hot, with temperatures around 500°C; a nighttime glow from the gas emissions surrounding the lava was visible in webcam images. Tremor levels remained low with occasional slightly elevated episodes, which included some shallow-source volcanic earthquakes. Satellite-based measurements recorded several centimeters of subsidence in the ground around the active vent area since December 2019. During a gas observation flight on 28 May there was a short-lived gas pulse, accompanied by an increase in SO2 and CO2 emissions, and minor inflation in the vent area (figure 96).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. Photo of a strong gas-and-steam plume rising above Whakaari/White Island on 28 May 2020. Courtesy of GeoNet.

An observation flight made on 3 June reported a decline in gas flux compared to the measurements made on 28 May. Thermal infrared images taken during the flight showed that the lava lobes were still hot, at 450°C, and continued to generate incandescence that was visible at night in webcams. On 16 June the VAL was lowered to 1 (minor volcanic unrest) and on 22 June the Aviation Color Code had decreased to Green.

Minor volcanic unrest continued in July; the level of volcanic tremors has remained generally low, with the exception of two short bursts of moderate volcanic tremors in at the beginning of the month. Temperatures in the active vents remained high (540°C) and volcanic gases persisted at moderate rate, similar to those measured since May, according to an observation flight made during the week of 30 July. Subsidence continued to be observed in the active vent area, as well as along the main crater wall, S and W of the active vents. Recent rainfall has created small ponds of water on the crater floor, though they did not infiltrate the vent areas.

Gas-and-steam emissions persisted during August through October at relatively high rates (figures 97 and 98). A short episode of moderate volcanic tremor was detected in early August, but otherwise seismicity remained low. Updated temperatures of the active vent area were 440°C on 15 September, which had decreased 100°C since July. Rain continued to collect at the crater floor, forming a small lake; minor areas of gas-and-steam emissions can be seen in this lake. Ongoing subsidence was observed on the Main Crater wall and S and W of the 2019 active vents.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Photo of an observation flight over Whakaari/White Island on 8 September 2020 showing white gas-and-steam emissions from the vent area. Photo courtesy of Brad Scott, GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. Image of Whakaari/White Island from Whakatane in the North Island of New Zealand showing a white gas-and-steam plume on 26 October 2020. Courtesy of GeoNet.

Activity during November was primarily characterized by persistent, moderate-to-large gas-and-steam plumes that drifted downwind for several kilometers but did not reach the mainland. The SO2 flux was 618 tons/day and the CO2 flux was 2,390 tons/day. New observations on 11 November noted some occasional ash deposits on the webcams in conjunction with mainland reports of a darker than usual plume (figure 99). Satellite images provided by MetService, courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency, confirmed the ash emission, but later images showed little to no apparent ash; GNS confirmed that no eruptive activity had occurred. Initial analyses indicated that the ash originated from loose material around the vent was being entrained into the gas-and-steam plumes. Observations from an overflight on 12 November showed that there was no substantial change in the location and size of the active vents; rainfall continued to collect on the floor of the 1978/90 Crater, reforming the shallow lake. A small sequence of earthquakes was detected close to the volcano with several episodes of slightly increased volcanic tremors.

During 12-14 November the Wellington VAAC issued multiple advisories noting gas, steam, and ash plumes that rose to 1.5-1.8 km altitude and drifted E and SE, based on satellite data, reports from pilots, and reports from GeoNet. As a result, the VAL was increased to 2 and the Aviation Color Code was raised to Yellow. Scientists on another observation flight on 16 November reported that small amounts of ash continued to be present in gas-and-steam emissions, though laboratory analyses showed that this ash was resuspended material and not from new eruptive or magmatic activity. The SO2 and CO2 flux remained above background levels but were slightly lower than the previous week’s measurements: 710 tons/day and 1,937 tons/day. Seismicity was similar to the previous week, characterized by a sequence of small earthquakes, a larger than normal volcanic earthquake located near the volcano, and ongoing low-level volcanic tremors. During 16-17 November plumes with resuspended ash were observed rising to 460 m altitude, drifting E and NE, according to a VAAC advisory (figure 99). During 20-24 November gas-and-steam emissions that contained a minor amount of resuspended ash rose to 1.2 km altitude and drifted in multiple directions, based on webcam and satellite images and information from GeoNet.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. Left: Photo of a gas observation flight over Whakaari/White Island on 11 November 2020 showing some dark particles in the gas-and-steam plumes, which were deposited on some webcams. Photo has been color corrected and straightened. Courtesy of GeoNet. Right: Photo showing gas, steam, and ash emissions rising above the 2019 Main Crater area on 16 November 2020. Courtesy of GNS Science (17 November 2020 report).

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows a total of eleven low-power thermal anomalies during January to late March 2020; a single weak thermal anomaly was detected in early July (figure 100). The elevated surface temperatures during February-May 2020 were detected in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images in the Main Crater area, occasionally accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions (figure 101). Persistent white gas-and-steam emissions rising above the Main Crater area were observed in satellite imagery on clear weather days and drifting in multiple directions (figure 102). The small lake that had formed due to rainfall was also visible to the E of the active vents.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. Low-power, infrequent thermal activity at Whakaari/White Island was detected during January through late March 2020, as reflected in the MIROVA data (Log Radiative Power). A single thermal anomaly was shown in early July. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images in the Main Crater area of Whakaari/White Island show residual elevated temperatures from the December 2019 eruption, accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions and drifting in different directions during February-May 2020. Images using “Atmospheric penetration” rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. Sentinel-2 images showing persistent white gas-and-steam plumes rising from Main Crater area of Whakaari/White Island during March-November 2020 and drifting in multiple directions. A small pond of water (light blue-green) is visible in the vent area to the E of the plumes. On 11 November (bottom right), the color of the plume is gray and contains a small amount of ash. Images using “Natural color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The uninhabited Whakaari/White Island is the 2 x 2.4 km emergent summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 50 km offshore of North Island. The island consists of two overlapping andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcanoes. The SE side of the crater is open at sea level, with the recent activity centered about 1 km from the shore close to the rear crater wall. Volckner Rocks, sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NW. Descriptions of volcanism since 1826 have included intermittent moderate phreatic, phreatomagmatic, and Strombolian eruptions; activity there also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. The formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries caused rapid changes in crater floor topography. Collapse of the crater wall in 1914 produced a debris avalanche that buried buildings and workers at a sulfur-mining project. Explosive activity in December 2019 took place while tourists were present, resulting in many fatalities. The official government name Whakaari/White Island is a combination of the full Maori name of Te Puia o Whakaari ("The Dramatic Volcano") and White Island (referencing the constant steam plume) given by Captain James Cook in 1769.

Information Contacts: 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/); GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/); Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd (MetService), PO Box 722, Wellington, New Zealand (URL: http://www.metservice.com/vaac/, http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/OTH/NZ/messages.html); 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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Brad Scott, GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: https://twitter.com/Eruptn).


Suwanosejima (Japan) — January 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

29.638°N, 129.714°E; summit elev. 796 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosion rate increases during July-December 2020, bomb ejected 1.3 km from crater on 28 December

Suwanosejima, an andesitic stratovolcano in Japan's northern Ryukyu Islands, was intermittently active for much of the 20th century, producing ash plumes, Strombolian explosions, and ashfall. Continuous activity since October 2004 has included intermittent explosions which generate ash plumes that rise hundreds of meters above the summit to altitudes between 1 and 3 km. Incandescence is often observed at night and ejecta periodically reaches over a kilometer from the summit. Ashfall is usually noted several times each month in the nearby community on the SW flank of the island. Ongoing activity for the second half of 2020, which includes significantly increased activity in December, is covered in this report with information provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and several sources of satellite data.

A steady increase in activity was reported during July-December 2020. The number of explosions recorded increased each month from only six during July to 460 during December. The energy of the explosions increased as well; ejecta was reported 600 m from the crater during August, but a large bomb reached 1.3 km from the crater at the end of December. After an increased period of explosions late in December, JMA raised the Alert Level from 2 to 3 on a 5-level scale. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity indicated intermittent anomalies from July through December 2020, with a pulse of activity in the second half of December (figure 48).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. MIROVA thermal activity for Suwanosejima for the period from 3 February through December 2020 shows pulses of activity in February and April, with intermittent anomalies until another period of frequent stronger activity in December. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Six explosions were recorded during July 2020, compared with only one during June. According to JMA, the tallest plume rose 2,000 m above the crater rim. Incandescent ejecta was occasionally observed at night. The Tokyo VAAC reported a number of ash plumes that rose to 1.2-2.7 km altitude and drifted NW and W during the second half of the month (figure 49). Activity increased during August 2020 when thirteen explosions were reported. The Tokyo VAAC reported a few ash plumes during 1-6 August that rose to 1.8-2.4 km altitude and drifted NW; a larger pulse of activity during 18-22 August produced plumes that rose to altitudes ranging from 1.8 to over 2.7 km. Ashfall was reported on 19 and 20 August in the village located 4 km SSW of the crater; incandescence was visible at the summit and ash plumes drifted SW in satellite imagery on 19 August (figure 50). A MODVOLC thermal alert was issued on 19 August. On 21 August a large bomb was ejected 600 m from the Otake crater in an explosion early in the day; later that afternoon, an ash plume rose to more than 2,000 m above the crater rim. During 19-22 August, SO2 emissions were recorded each day by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite (figure 51).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. An ash emission at Suwanosejima rose to 2.7 km altitude and drifted NW on 27 July 2020. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material on Suwanosejima, July 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Ash drifted SW from the summit crater of Suwanosejima on 19 August 2020 and a bright thermal anomaly was present at the summit. Residents of the village 4 km SW reported ashfall that day and the next. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. A period of increased activity at Suwanosejima during 19-22 August 2020 produced SO2 emissions that were measured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite. Nishinoshima, was also producing significant SO2 at the same time. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Thirteen explosions were recorded during September 2020, with the highest ash plumes reaching 2,000 m above the crater rim, and bombs falling 400 m from the crater. Ashfall was recorded on 20 September in the community located 4 km SSW. The Tokyo VAAC reported intermittent ash plumes during the month that rose to 1.2-2.1 km altitude and drifted in several directions. Incandescence was frequently observed at night (figure 52). Explosive activity increased during October with 22 explosions recorded. Ash plumes rose over 2,000 m above the crater rim, and bombs reached 700 m from the crater. Steam plumes rose 2,300 m above the crater rim. Ashfall and loud noises were confirmed several times between 2 and 14 October in the nearby village. A MODVOLC thermal alert was issued on 6 October. The Tokyo VAAC reported multiple ash plumes throughout the month; they usually rose to 1.5-2.1 km altitude and drifted in many directions. The plume on 28 October rose to over 2.7 km altitude and was stationary.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Incandescence at night and ash emissions were observed multiple times at Suwanosejima during September and October 2020 including on 21 and 26 September (top) and 29 October 2020. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material on Suwanosejima, September and October 2020).

Frequent explosions occurred during November 2020, with a sharp increase in the number of explosions to 105 events compared with October. Ash plumes rose to 1,800 m above the crater rim and bombs were ejected 700 m. Occasional ashfall and loud noises were reported from the nearby community throughout the month. Scientists measured no specific changes to the surface temperature around the volcano during an overflight early on 5 November compared with the previous year. At 0818 on 5 November a small ash explosion at the summit crater was photographed by the crew during an observation flight (figure 53). On 12 and 13 November, incandescent ejecta fell 600 m from the crater and ash emissions rose 1,500 m above the crater rim (figure 54).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. A minor explosion produced a small ash plume at Suwanosejima during an overflight by JMA on the morning of 5 November 2020. The thermal activity was concentrated at the base of the explosion (inset). Image taken from off the E coast. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material on Suwanosejima, November 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. On 12 and 13 November 2020 incandescent ejecta from Suwanosejima reached 600 m from the crater (top) and ash emissions rose 1,500 m above the crater rim (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material on Suwanosejima, November 2020).

During December 2020 there were 460 explosions reported, a significant increase from the previous months. Ash plumes reached 1,800 m above the summit. Three MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 25 December and two were issued the next day. The number of explosions increased substantially at the Otake crater between 21 and 29 December, and early on 28 December a large bomb was ejected to 1.3 km SE of the crater (figure 55). A second explosion a few hours later ejected another bomb 1.1 km SE. An overflight later that day confirmed the explosion, and ash emissions were still visible (figure 56), although cloudy weather prevented views of the crater. Ashfall was noted and loud sounds heard in the nearby village. A summary graph of observations throughout 2020 indicated that activity was high from January through May, quieter during June, and then increased again from July through the end of the year (figure 57).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Early on 28 December 2020 a large explosion at Suwanosejima sent a volcanic bomb 1.3 km SE from the summit (bright spot on left flank in large photo). Thermal imaging taken the same day showed the heat at the eruption site and multiple fragments of warm ejecta scattered around the crater area (inset). Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material on Suwanosejima, December 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Ash emissions were still visible midday on 28 December 2020 at Suwanosejima during a helicopter overflight by the 10th Regional Coast Guard. Image taken from the SW flank of the volcano. Two large explosions earlier in the day had sent ejecta more than a kilometer from the crater. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material on Suwanosejima, December 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Activity summary for Suwanosejima for January-December 2020 when 764 explosions were recorded. Black bars represent the height of steam, gas, or ash plumes in meters above the crater rim, gray volcano icons represent explosions, usually accompanied by an ash plume, red icons represent large explosions with ash plumes, orange diamonds indicate incandescence observed in webcams. Courtesy of JMA (Suwanosejima volcanic activity annual report, 2020).

Geologic Background. The 8-km-long, spindle-shaped island of Suwanosejima in the northern Ryukyu Islands consists of an andesitic stratovolcano with two historically active summit craters. The summit is truncated by a large breached crater extending to the sea on the east flank that was formed by edifice collapse. Suwanosejima, one of Japan's most frequently active volcanoes, was in a state of intermittent strombolian activity from Otake, the NE summit crater, that began in 1949 and lasted until 1996, after which periods of inactivity lengthened. The largest historical eruption took place in 1813-14, when thick scoria deposits blanketed residential areas, and the SW crater produced two lava flows that reached the western coast. At the end of the eruption the summit of Otake collapsed forming a large debris avalanche and creating the horseshoe-shaped Sakuchi caldera, which extends to the eastern coast. The island remained uninhabited for about 70 years after the 1813-1814 eruption. Lava flows reached the eastern coast of the island in 1884. Only about 50 people live on the island.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); 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); NASA 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/).


Karangetang (Indonesia) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

2.781°N, 125.407°E; summit elev. 1797 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Hot material on the NW flank in November 2020; intermittent crater thermal anomalies

Karangetang (also known as Api Siau) is located on the island of Siau in the Sitaro Regency, North Sulawesi, Indonesia and consists of two active summit craters: a N crater (Kawah Dua) and a S crater (Kawah Utama, also referred to as the “Main Crater”). More than 50 eruptions have been observed since 1675. The current eruption began in November 2018 and has recently been characterized by frequent incandescent block avalanches, thermal anomalies in the crater, and gas-and-steam plumes (BGVN 45:06). This report covers activity from June through November 2020, which includes dominantly crater anomalies, few ash plumes, and gas-and-steam emissions. Information primarily comes from the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM, or the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation), MAGMA Indonesia, and various satellite data.

Activity decreased significantly after mid-January 2020 and has been characterized by dominantly gas-and-steam emissions and occasional ash plumes, according to PVMBG. Daily gas-and-steam emissions were observed rising 25-600 m above the Main Crater (S crater) during the reporting period and intermittent emissions rising 25-300 m above Kawah Dua (N crater).

The only activity reported by PVMBG in June, August, and October was daily gas-and-steam emissions above the Main Crater and Kawah Dua (figure 47). MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows intermittent low-power thermal anomalies during June through late July, which includes a slight increase in power during late July (figure 48). During 14-15 July strong rumbling from Kawah Dua was accompanied by white-gray emissions that rose 150-200 m above the crater. Crater incandescence was observed up to 10 m above the crater. According to webcam imagery from MAGMA Indonesia, intermittent incandescence was observed at night from both craters through 25 July. In a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) issued on 5 September, PVMBG reported an ash plume that rose 800 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Webcam image of gas-and-steam plumes rising above the two summit craters at Karangetang on 16 June 2020. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Intermittent low-power thermal anomalies at Karangetang were reported during June through July 2020 with a slight increase in power in late July, according to the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power). No thermal activity was detected during August to late October; in mid-November a short episode of increased activity occurred. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Thermal activity increased briefly during mid-November when hot material was reported extending 500-1,000 m NW of the Main Crater, accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions rising 200 m above the crater. Corresponding detection of MODIS thermal anomalies was seen in MIROVA graphs (see figure 48), and the MODVOLC system showed alerts on 13 and 15 November. On 16 November blue emissions were observed above the Main Crater drifting W. Sentinel-2 thermal images showed elevated temperatures in both summit craters throughout the reporting period, accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions and movement of hot material on the NW flank on 19 November (figure 49). White gas-and-steam emissions rose to a maximum height of 300 m above Kawah Dua on 22 November and 600 m above the Main Crater on 28 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Persistent thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) at Karangetang were detected in both summit craters using Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery during June through November 2020. Gas-and-steam emissions were also occasionally detected in both craters as seen on 17 June (top left) and 20 September (bottom left) 2020. On 19 November (bottom right) the Main Crater (S) showed a hot thermal signature extending NW. Images using “Atmospheric penetration” rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Karangetang (Api Siau) volcano lies at the northern end of the island of Siau, about 125 km NNE of the NE-most point of Sulawesi island. The stratovolcano contains five summit craters along a N-S line. It is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, with more than 40 eruptions recorded since 1675 and many additional small eruptions that were not documented in the historical record (Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World: Neumann van Padang, 1951). Twentieth-century eruptions have included frequent explosive activity sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows and lahars. Lava dome growth has occurred in the summit craters; collapse of lava flow fronts have produced pyroclastic flows.

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/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); 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).


Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — January 2021 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)


Dome growth and ash emissions continue during July-December 2020

Colombia’s broad, glacier-capped Nevado del Ruiz has an eruption history documented back 8,600 years, including documented observations since 1570. Ruiz remained quiet for 20 years after the deadly September 1985-July 1991 eruption until a period of explosive activity from February 2012 into 2013. Renewed activity beginning in November 2014 included ash and gas-and-steam plumes, ashfall, and the appearance of a slowly growing lava dome inside the Arenas crater in August 2015. Additional information has caused a revision to earlier reporting that eruptive activity ended in May 2017 and began again that December (BGVN 44:12); activity appears to have continued throughout 2017 with intermittent ash emissions and thermal evidence of dome growth. Periods of increased thermal activity alternated with periods of increased explosive activity during 2018-2019 and into 2020; SO2 emissions persisted at significant levels. The lava dome has continued to grow through 2020. This report covers ongoing activity from July-December 2020 using information from reports by the Servicio Geologico Colombiano (SGC) and the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales, the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) notices, and various sources of satellite data.

Gas and ash emissions continued throughout July-December 2020; they generally rose to 5.8-6.1 km altitude with the highest reported plume at 6.7 km altitude on 7 December. SGC interpreted repeated episodes of “drumbeat seismicity” as an indication of continued dome growth throughout the period. Satellite thermal anomalies also suggested that dome growth continued. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity suggests that the dome was quiet in July and early August, but small pulses of thermal energy were recorded every few weeks for the remainder of 2020 (figure 115). Plots of the cumulative number and magnitude of seismic events at Nevado del Ruiz between January 2010 and November 2020 show a stable trend with periodic sharp increases in activity or magnitude throughout that time. SGC has adjusted the warning levels over time according to changes in the slope of the curves (figure 116).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 115. Thermal energy shown in the MIROVA graph of log radiative power at Nevado del Ruiz from 3 February 2020 through the end of the year indicates that higher levels of thermal energy lasted through April 2020; a quieter period from late May-early August was followed by low-level persistent anomalies through the end of the year. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 116. Changes in seismic frequency and energy at Nevado del Ruiz have been monitored by SGC for many years. Left: the cumulative number of daily VT, LP-VLP, TR, and HB seismic events, recorded between 1 January 2010 and 30 November 2020. The arrows highlight the days with the highest number of seismic events; the number and type of event is shown under the date. Right: The cumulative VT and HB seismic energy recorded between 1 January 2010 and 30 November 2020. The arrows highlight the days with the highest energy; the local magnitude of the event is shown below the date. SGC has adjusted the warning levels over time (bar across the bottom of each graph) according to changes in the slope of the curves. Courtesy of SGC (INFORME TÉCNICO – OPERATIVO DE LA ACTIVIDAD VOLCÁNICA, SEGMENTO VOLCÁNICO NORTE DE COLOMBIA – NOVIEMBRE DE 2020).

Activity during July-December 2020. Seismic energy increased during July compared to June 2020 with events localized around the Arenas crater. The depth of the seismicity varied from 0.3-7.8 km. Some of these signals were associated with small emissions of gas and ash, which were confirmed through webcams and by reports from officials of the Los Nevados National Natural Park (NNNP). The Washington VAAC reported a possible ash emission on 8 July that rose to 6.1 km altitude and drifted NW. On 21 July a webcam image showed an ash emission that rose to the same altitude and drifted W; it was seen in satellite imagery possibly extending 35 km from the summit but was difficult to confirm due to weather clouds. Short- to moderate-duration (less than 40 minutes) episodes of drumbeat seismicity were recorded on 5, 13, 17, and 21 July. SCG interprets this type of seismic activity as related to the growth of the Arenas crater lava dome. Primarily WNW drifting plumes of steam and SO2 were observed in the webcams daily. The gas was occasionally incandescent at night. The tallest plume of gas and ash reached 1,000 m above the crater rim on 30 July and was associated with a low-energy tremor pulse; it produced ashfall in parts of Manizales and nearby communities (figure 117).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 117. Images captured by a traditional camera (top) and a thermal camera (bottom) at Nevado del Ruiz showed a small ash emission in the early morning of 30 July 2020. Ashfall was reported in Manizales. The cameras are located 3.7 km W of the Arenas crater. Courtesy of SGC (Emisión de ceniza Volcan Nevado del Ruiz Julio 30 de 2020).

Seismicity increased in August 2020 with respect to July. Some of the LP and TR (tremor) seismicity was associated with small emissions of gas and ash, confirmed by web cameras, park personnel, and the Washington VAAC. The Washington VAAC received a report from the Bogota MWO of an ash emission on 1 August that rose to 6.1 km altitude and drifted NW; it was not visible in satellite imagery. Various episodes of short duration drumbeat seismicity were recorded during the month. The tallest steam and gas plume reached 1,800 m above the rim on 31 August. Despite the fact that in August the meteorological conditions made it difficult to monitor the surface activity of the volcano, three ash emissions were confirmed by SGC.

Seismicity decreased during September 2020 with respect to August. Some of the LP and TR (tremor) seismicity was associated with small emissions of gas and ash, confirmed by web cameras, park personnel and the Washington VAAC. The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission on 16 September that rose to 6.1 km altitude and drifted NW. A minor ash emission on 20 September drifted W from the summit at 5.8 km altitude. A possible emission on 23 September drifted NW at 6.1 km altitude for a brief period before dissipating. Two emissions were reported drifting WNW of the summit on 26 September at 5.8 and 5.5 km altitude. Continuous volcanic tremors were registered throughout September, with the higher energy activity during the second half of the month. One episode of drumbeat seismicity on 15 September lasted for 38 minutes and consisted of 25 very low energy earthquakes. Steam and gas plumes reached 1,800 m above the crater rim during 17-28 September (figure 118). Five emissions of ash were confirmed by the webcams and park officials during the month, in spite of difficult meteorological conditions; three of them occurred between 15 and 20 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 118. A dense plume of steam rose from Nevado del Ruiz in the morning of 17 September 2020. Courtesy of Gonzalo.

Seismicity increased during October with respect to September. A few of the LP and tremor seismic events were associated with small emissions of gas and ash, confirmed by web cameras, park personnel, and the Washington VAAC. The Washington VAAC issued advisories of possible ash emissions on 2, 6, 9, 11, 15, 17, 18, and 21 October. The plumes rose to 5.6-6.4 km altitude and drifted primarily W and NW. Steam plumes were visible most days of the month (figure 119). Only a few were visible in satellite data, but most were visible in the webcams. Several episodes of drumbeat seismicity were recorded on 13, 22-25, and 27 October, which were characterized by being of short duration and consisting of very low energy earthquakes. The tallest plume during the month rose about 2 km above the crater rim on 18 October. Ash emissions were recorded eight times during the month by SGC.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 119. A steam plume mixed with possible ash drifted SE from Nevado del Ruiz on 7 October 2020. Courtesy of vlucho666.

During November 2020, the number of seismic events decreased relative to October, but the amount of energy released increased. Some of the seismicity was associated with small emissions of gas and ash, confirmed by webcams around the volcano. The Washington VAAC reported ash emissions on 22 and 30 November; the 22 November event was faintly visible in satellite images and was also associated with an LP seismic event. They rose to 5.8-6.1 km altitude and drifted W. Various episodes of drumbeat seismicity registered during November were short- to moderate-duration, very low energy, and consisted of seismicity associated with rock fracturing (VT). Multiple steam plumes were visible from communities tens of kilometers away (figure 120).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 120. Multiple dense steam plumes were photographed from communities around Nevado del Ruiz during November 2020, including on 18 (top) and 20 (bottom) November. Top image courtesy of Jose Fdo Cuartas, bottom image courtesy of Efigas Oficial.

Seismic activity increased in December 2020 relative to November. It was characterized by continuous volcanic tremor, tremor pulses, long-period (LP) and very long-period (VLP) earthquakes. Some of these signals were associated with gas and ash emissions, one confirmed through the webcams. The Washington VAAC reported ash emissions on 5 and 7 December. The first rose to 5.8 km altitude and drifted NW. The second rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted W. A single discrete cloud was observed 35 km W of the summit; it dissipated within six hours. Drumbeat seismic activity increased as well in December; the episode on 3 December was the most significant. Steam and gas emissions continued throughout the month; a plume of gas and ash reached 1,700 m above the summit on 20 December, and drifted NW.

Sentinel-2 satellite data showed at least one thermal anomaly inside the Arenas crater each month during August-December 2020, corroborating the seismic evidence that the dome continued to grow throughout the period (figure 121). Sulfur dioxide emissions were persistent, with many days every month recording DU values greater than two with the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5-P satellite (figure 122).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 121. Thermal anomalies at Nevado del Ruiz were recorded at least once each month during August-December 2020 suggesting continued growth of the dome within the Arenas crater at the summit. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 122. Sulfur dioxide emissions were persistent at Nevado del Ruiz during August-December 2020, with many days every month recording DU values greater than two with the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5-P satellite. Ecuador’s Sangay had even larger SO2 emissions throughout the period. Dates are at the top of each image. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Additional reports of activity during 2017. Activity appears to have continued during June-December 2017. Ash emissions were reported by the Bogota Meteorological Weather Office (MWO) on 13 May, and by SGC on 28 May. During June, some of the recorded seismic events were associated with minor emissions of ash; these were confirmed by webcams and by field reports from both the staff of SGC and the Los Nevados National Natural Park (PNNN). Ash emissions were confirmed in webcams by park officials on 3, 16, and 17 June. Gas emissions from the Arenas crater during July 2017 averaged 426 m above the crater rim, generally lower than during June. The emissions were mostly steam with small amounts of SO2. Emissions were similar during August, with most steam and gas plumes drifting NW. No ash emissions were reported during July or August.

SGC reported steam and gas plumes during September that rose as high as 1,650 m above the crater rim and drifted NW. On 21 September the Washington VAAC received a report of an ash plume that rose to 6.4 km altitude and drifted NNW, although it was not visible in satellite imagery. Another ash emission rising to 6.7 km altitude was reported on 7 October; weather clouds prevented satellite observation. An episode of drumbeat seismicity was recorded on 9 October, the first since April 2017. While SGC did not explicitly mention ash emissions during October, several of the webcam images included in their report show plumes described as containing ash and gas (figure 123).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 123. Plumes of steam, gas, and ash rose from Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz most days during October 2017. Photographs were captured by the webcams installed in the Azufrado Canyon and Cerro Gualí areas. Courtesy of SGC (INFORME DE ACTIVIDAD VOLCANICA SEGMENTO NORTE DE COLOMBIA, OCTUBRE DE 2017).

The Washington VAAC received a report from the Bogota MWO of an ash emission that rose to 6.1 km altitude and drifted NE on 8 November 2017. A faint plume was visible in satellite imagery extending 15 km NE from the summit. SGC reported that plumes rose as high as 2,150 m above the rim of Arenas crater during November. The plumes were mostly steam, with minor amounts of SO2. A diffuse plume of ash was photographed in a webcam on 24 November. SGC did not report any ash emissions during December 2017, but the Washington VAAC reported “a thin veil of volcanic ash and gases” visible in satellite imagery and webcams on 18 December that dissipated within a few hours. In addition to the multiple reports of ash emissions between May and December 2017, Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery recorded at least one image each month during June-December showing a thermal anomaly at the summit consistent with the slowly growing dome first reported in August 2015 (figure 124).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 124. Thermal anomalies from the growing dome inside Arenas crater at the summit of Nevado del Ruiz appeared at least once each month from June-December 2017. A strong anomaly was slightly obscured by clouds on 3 June (top left). On 2 August, a steam plume obscured most of the crater, but a small thermal anomaly is visible in its SE quadrant (top right). Strong anomalies on 30 November and 20 December (bottom) have a ring-like form suggestive of a growing dome. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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: 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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); 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/); Gonzalo (URL: https://twitter.com/chaloc22/status/1306581929651843076); Jose Fdo Cuartas (URL: https://twitter.com/JoseFCuartas/status/1329212975434096640); Vlucho666 (URL: https://twitter.com/vlucho666/status/1313791959954268161); Efigas Oficial (URL: https://twitter.com/efigas_oficial/status/1329780287920873472).


Ibu (Indonesia) — January 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Ibu

Indonesia

1.488°N, 127.63°E; summit elev. 1325 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Persistent daily ash emissions and thermal anomalies, July-December 2020

Mount Ibu is an active stratovolcano located along the NW coast of Halmahera Island in Indonesia. After a two-day eruption in 1911, Ibu was quiet until 1998-1999 when explosions produced ash emissions, a lava flow and dome growth began inside the summit crater. Although possible dome growth occurred in 2001 and 2004, little activity was reported until ash emissions began in April 2008. These were followed by thermal anomalies beginning the next month; ash emissions and dome growth have continued for 12 years and the dome now fills the summit crater (BGVN 45:07). Activity continued throughout 2020, consisting of frequent white-and-gray emissions, ash explosions, ash plumes, and small lava flows. This report updates activity through December 2020, using data from the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and various satellite instruments.

Activity throughout July-December 2020 was very consistent and similar to activity reported earlier in the year. Tens of daily explosions produced white and gray ash emissions that rose 200-800 m above the summit (figure 25). Occasional larger explosions were reported in VONAs and VAAC notices. The MIROVA graph of log radiative power for the period shows consistent thermal anomalies the entire time (figure 26). Satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 identified thermal anomalies inside the summit crater every month, usually a larger central one and a smaller one to the NW, suggesting continued dome growth and lava flow activity (figure 27).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Between 60 and 90 explosions occurred most days at Ibu during 1 July-31 December 2020. White and gray plumes rose 200-800 m above the summit crater every day. Data courtesy of PVMBG daily reports.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. The MIROVA graph of Log Radiative Power at Ibu from 3 February through December 2020 indicated a constant ongoing heat source from the summit of the crater. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Thermal anomalies persisted at the summit of Ibu throughout July-December 2020. One central anomaly was usual accompanied by a smaller one slightly NW of the central spot. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11a, and 8), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The Darwin VAAC observed multiple minor ash emissions in satellite imagery drifting W on 6 July 2020 at 1.8 km altitude. A series of discrete puffs of ash were observed on 15 July also at 1.8 km altitude drifting W. Ongoing minor emissions were discernible on visible and RGB imagery at 2.1 km altitude drifting W on 20 July. On 30 July ash plumes rose to 1.8 km altitude drifted NW and a hotspot was present at the summit. A single MODVOLC alert was issued on 8 July. Single MODVOLC alerts were also issued on 11, 18, and 27 August 2020. PVMBG issued a VONA on 5 August, reporting an ash cloud that rose to 1.8 km altitude and drifted N (figure 28). The Darwin VAAC reported an ash emission later that day that rose to 4.3 km altitude and drifted NW for several hours before dissipating. Multiple discrete emissions were identified in satellite imagery drifting N at 2.1 km altitude on 11 August; they dissipated quickly. During 22-25 August intermittent ash emissions rose to 1.5-1.8 km altitude and drifted NW and W. Minor continuous emissions were again reported on 28 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Ash plumes rose from the summit of Ibu many days during July and August 2020, including on 8 July (top) and 5 August (bottom). Courtesy of PVMBG.

Many ash emissions during September and October 2020 were not accompanied by VONAs or VAAC advisories (figure 29). PVMBG issued a VONA on 20 September for an ash emission that rose to 1.5 km altitude and drifted N. Continuous discrete ash emissions over several days drifted SW to NW during 25-29 September at 1.8-2.1 km altitude, as reported in multiple VONAs and VAAC advisories. Single MODVOLC alerts were issued on 26 and 30 September. The Darwin VAAC issued an ash advisory on 8 October for intermittent ash emissions rising to 2.1 km altitude and drifting NW. A single MODVOLC alert was issued the next day. On 20 October ash emissions again rose to 2.1 km altitude and drifted NE.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Ash emissions at Ibu were photographed in webcams on 6 September (left) and 12 October (right) 2020. Courtesy of PVMBG.

The Darwin VAAC reported intermittent ash emissions to 1.8 km altitude during 3-5, 12-13, 18-19, and 22 November 2020 that drifted SSW for several hours before dissipating. PVMBG also issued a VONA for an ash cloud on 27 November that rose to 2.1 km altitude and drifted W. They reported faint rumbling at the PGA Ibu station on 10 November and loud rumbling on 16 and 18 November. During December, minor ash emissions rose to 1.8-2.1 km altitude and drifted E on 4 and 6 December, SW on 11 December, and SE on 12-13 December. PVMBG issued a VONA on 19 December for a white to gray ash cloud drifting N at 1.7 km altitude. Single MODVOLC alerts were issued on 10, 13, and 22 December. Numerous ash emissions were captured by the webcams (figure 30).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Ash emissions at Ibu were recorded in webcams on 17 November (top) and 5 December (bottom) 2020. Courtesy of PVMBG.

Geologic Background. The truncated summit of Gunung Ibu stratovolcano along the NW coast of Halmahera Island has large nested summit craters. The inner crater, 1 km wide and 400 m deep, contained several small crater lakes through much of historical time. The outer crater, 1.2 km wide, is breached on the north side, creating a steep-walled valley. A large parasitic cone is located ENE of the summit. A smaller one to the WSW has fed a lava flow down the W flank. A group of maars is located below the N and W flanks. Only a few eruptions have been recorded in historical time, the first a small explosive eruption from the summit crater in 1911. An eruption producing a lava dome that eventually covered much of the floor of the inner summit crater began in December 1998.

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/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Etna (Italy) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3320 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strombolian explosions and ash plumes persist from multiple craters during August-November 2020

Etna, on the island of Sicily, Italy, and has had documented eruptions dating back 3,500 years. Its most recent eruptive period began in September 2013 and has continued through November 2020, characterized by frequent Strombolian explosions, effusive activity, and ash plumes. Activity has commonly originated from the summit areas, including the Northeast Crater (NEC), the Voragine-Bocca Nuova (or Central) complex (VOR-BN), the Southeast Crater (SEC, formed in 1978), and the New Southeast Crater (NSEC, formed in 2011). The newest crater, referred to as the "cono della sella" (saddle cone), emerged during early 2017 in the area between SEC and NSEC. This report from August through November 2020 updates activity consisting of frequent Strombolian explosions, ash plumes, summit crater incandescence, degassing, and some ashfall based on information primarily from weekly reports by the Osservatorio Etneo (OE), part of the Catania Branch of Italy's Istituo Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologica (INGV).

Summary of activity during August-November 2020. Intra-crater Strombolian explosions that varied in frequency and intensity throughout the reporting period, and the accompanying ash emissions that rose to a maximum altitude of 4.5 km, primarily originated from the Northeast Crater (NEC), the New Southeast Crater (NSEC), and intermittently from the Voragine Crater (VOR). Degassing of variable intensity typically occurred at the VOR and the Bocca Nuova (BN) Crater. At night, occasional summit crater incandescence was visible in webcam images, accompanied by explosions and gas-and-ash emissions. On 14 August strong Strombolian explosions produced an ash plume that rose to 4.5 km altitude and drifted SE, resulting in ashfall between Pedara, Trecastagni, and Viagrande. INGV reported that the central pit crater at the bottom of BN continued to widen, and on 9 September scientists observed that a new pit crater had formed NW of the central depression and was widening due to crater wall collapses. During late October to 1 November, INGV reported that small lava flows originated from scoria cones in the NEC and were visible from the edge of the crater but did not spill over.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows frequent thermal activity of varying strength throughout the reporting period (figure 308). In late October, the frequency of the thermal anomalies increased, and continued through November. According to the MODVOLC thermal algorithm, a total of 31 alerts were detected in the summit craters during August through November; thermal anomalies were reported for five days in August, four days in September, four days in October, and eight days in November. Frequent Strombolian activity contributed to distinct SO2 plumes that drifted in multiple directions (figure 309).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 308. Strong and frequent thermal activity at Etna was detected during August through November 2020, as reflected in the MIROVA data (Log Radiative Power). Beginning in late October, the frequency of the thermal anomalies increased compared to the previous months. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 309. Distinct SO2 plumes from Etna were detected on multiple days during August to November 2020 due to frequent Strombolian explosions, including 29 August (top left), 8 September (top right), 1 October (bottom left), and 11 November (bottom right) 2020. SO2 plumes were observed drifting in multiple directions. Captured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5P satellite, courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Activity during August-September 2020. During August, INGV reported intra-crater Strombolian explosions in the NEC, VOR, and NSEC (including the cono della sella) craters, which produced discontinuous ash emissions rising above each crater (figure 310). Gas-and-steam emissions were the dominant activity in the BN crater. INGV noted that the central pit crater on the floor of BN had been gradually widening since April. On 2 August a slight increase in explosivity resulted in minor ashfall in Trecastagni and Acicastello. Explosive activity occasionally ejected material above the crater rim up to several tens of meters. On the morning of 7 August incandescent Strombolian activity was visible in the NSEC (figure 311). During the evening of 10-11 August surveillance cameras showed the explosions ejecting incandescent material on the surrounding flanks. On 14 August intense Strombolian activity in the saddle cone of the NSEC produced an ash plume that rose to 4-4.5 km altitude and drifted SE, resulting in ashfall between Pedara, Trecastagni, and Viagrande. By the evening activity had sharply declined, according to a VONA (Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation) report, though sporadic ash emissions continued. A new series of ash emissions associated with explosions of varying intensity began on 15 August in the NSEC. A resulting ash plume rose to 4-4.5 km altitude and drifted ESE. On 17 August gas-and-steam emissions were seen rising above the VOR crater, accompanied by persistent Strombolian explosions. Between the afternoon and early morning of 20-21 August surveillance cameras showed an increased intensity and frequency of ash emissions above the NSEC and NEC that rose to 4-4.5 km altitude and drifted SSE. INGV-OE scientists reported minor ashfall in Trecastagni, Viagrande, and Catania. During 24-30 August ground observers reported that the intra-crater explosions in the NEC originated from two explosive vents; the BN crater exhibited gas-and-steam emissions from the central pit crater, which continued to widen. During 25-26 August explosive activity increased at the NSEC with ash emissions rising to 4.5 km and drifting SSE, which resulted in modest ashfall in Catania, Viagrande, and Trecastagni; by morning, the volume of ash emissions had decreased, though explosions persisted. During 28-29 August discontinuous and modest ash emissions originating from the NSEC rose 4.5 km altitude drifting E and ENE but did not result in ashfall. Emissions had stopped by 1747 on 29 August, though intense gas-and-steam emissions continued, occasionally accompanied by mild explosive activity (figure 312).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 310. An ash plume accompanied Strombolian explosions at Etna on 3 August (top left) and 4 August (top right) and as seen from the Montagnola (EMOV) thermal camera in the NSEC. Continuous Strombolian activity and summit crater incandescence was observed on 7 August (bottom left); an ash plume was visible in the Monte Cagliato surveillance camera during the day on 9 August (bottom right). Courtesy of INGV (Report 33/2020, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 03/08/2020 – 09/08/2020, data emissione 11/08/2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 311. Strombolian explosions and summit crater incandescence was observed at Etna’s New Southeast Crater (NSEC “cono della sella”) during the early morning of 7 August 2020 seen from Tremestieri Etneo. Photo by Boris Behncke, INGV.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 312. Photo of the S edge of the Bocca Nuova Crater at Etna on 29 August 2020 showing degassing in the pit crater. The main scoria cone within the Voragine Crater is visible in the background. Courtesy of INGV (Report 36/2020, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 24/08/2020 – 30/08/2020, data emissione 01/09/2020).

Strombolian activity of varying intensity continued in the NSEC and NEC during September, producing sporadic ash emissions (figure 313). The BN and VOR craters were characterized by gas-and-steam emissions. Explosions in the NSEC ejected coarse pyroclastic material above the crater rim several tens of meters, some of which were deposited on the S flank, and accompanied by sporadic ash emissions; these explosions continued to widen the depression in the saddle cone of the NSEC. Intermittent nighttime crater incandescence was observed in the NSEC. Sporadic and weak ash emissions were observed in the VOR. On 9 September INGV scientists reported intense degassing from the center pit crater in the BN. To the NW of this center depression, a new pit crater had formed and began to widen due to the collapse of the crater walls (figure 314). On 26 September explosions in the NSEC produced an ash plume that rose to 4 km altitude and drifted E, though no ashfall was reported.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 313. Webcam image showing explosions in the New Southeast Crater and resulting ash emissions on 1 September 2020. Courtesy of INGV (Report 37/2020, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 31/08/2020 – 06/09/2020, data emissione 08/09/2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 314. Photos of the bottom of the W edge of the Bocca Nuova Crater at Etna on 9 September 2020. Gas-and-steam emissions are visible rising above the pit crater in the background. In the foreground a new pit crater had formed to the NW of the central pit crater (yellow dotted line). Photo was taken from the S edge of the BN crater. Courtesy of INGV (Report 38/2020, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 07/09/2020 – 13/09/2020, data emissione 15/09/2020).

Activity during October-November 2020. Similar variable Strombolian activity continued into October in the NSEC (cono della sella) and NEC; isolated and weak ash emissions were visible in the VOR crater and gas-and-steam emissions continued in both the VOR and BN craters. On 1 October an increase in explosive activity in the NSEC occurred around 0800, which produced an ash plume rising to 4.5 km altitude, drifting E. Ash emissions on 3 October were mostly confined to the summit crater, but some drifted toward the Valle del Bove. On 7 October Strombolian explosions in the NSEC generated an ash plume that rose to 4.5 km altitude drifting E and ESE. INGV personnel reported ashfall as a result in the Citelli Refuge. On 9 October drone observations showed at least three active scoria cones on the floor of the NEC with diameters of 30-40 m and heights of 10 m; a fourth vent was later reported in November (figure 315). INGV reported that activity characterized by Strombolian explosions and spatter was fed by these vents, accompanied by intense intra-crater fumarolic activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 315. Map of the summit craters of Etna showing the active vents and the area of cooled lava flows (light green) updated on 9 October 2020. The base is modified from a 2014 DEM created by Laboratorio di Aerogeofisica-Sezione Roma 2. The hatch marks indicate the crater rims: BN = Bocca Nuova; VOR = Voragine; NEC = North East Crater; SEC = South East Crater; NSEC = New South East Crater. Red circles indicate areas with ash emissions and/or Strombolian activity, yellow circles indicate steam and/or gas emissions only. Courtesy of INGV (Report 44/2020, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 19/10/2020 – 25/10/2020, data emissione 27/10/2020).

During 12-18 October surveillance cameras captured incandescence in the NEC and pyroclastic material seen during more intense explosions. During the week of 19-25 October several thermal anomalies were detected on the NEC and BN crater floor. Particularly at night, thermal and surveillance cameras observed incandescent ejecta rising above the NSEC (figure 316). On 23 October a helicopter overflight along the W side of Etna showed continued explosions at the NSEC, which produced both ash emissions and incandescent shreds of lava. An associated ash plume rose to 4.5 km altitude and drifted SSE. Sporadic ash emissions were also observed in the BN crater (figure 316). During 26 October to 1 November occasional Strombolian activity resumed in the VOR which ejected material over the crater rim. The BN crater activity was characterized by small intra-crater collapses and consequent ash emissions. In the NEC, similar explosive activity persisted with the addition of small lava flows from the scoria cones, which were visible from the crater edge, though activity remained confined to the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 316. Photos showing Strombolian activity at the New Southeast Crater at Etna on 25 October 2020 (top left); ash emissions were observed during 22 October 2020 (top right). Ash emissions rose above the Bocca Nuova Crater on 22 October (bottom left) and weak ash emissions were seen above the Voragine Crater on 22 October (bottom right). Courtesy of INGV (Report 44/2020, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 19/10/2020 – 25/10/2020, data emissione 27/10/2020).

Activity in November continued with variable Strombolian explosions accompanied by discontinuous ash emissions from the NSEC, NEC, and BN. During more intense explosions, ejecta reached several tens of meters above the crater, sometimes falling just outside the crater rim. Intensive degassing in the BN crater revealed occasional reddish ash in the new W pit crater that formed in September. The central pit crater was primarily characterized by intense gas-and-steam emissions and intra-crater wall collapses. Four vents were observed on the bottom of the NEC during 2-8 November, though only three of them produced Strombolian explosions, the fourth was quiet. On 5 November Strombolian explosions in BN originated from the W pit crater; coarser material was ejected above the pit crater rim. By 12 November Strombolian activity had decreased, explosions in the BN had deposited material on the S flank. Out of the three active NEC scoria cones, only one was continuously exploding, the second had discontinuous explosions, and the third was primarily emitting gas-and-steam. On 15 November faint ash emissions from the E side of the NSEC were observed (figure 317). On 20 November sporadic explosive activity continued from the NSEC and BN, the former of which occasionally ejected material above the crater rim (figure 318).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 317. Webcam images of the New Southeast Crater at Etna on 14 (left) and 15 (right) November 2020 showing Strombolian activity in the cono della sella (left) and the E vent shown by the black arrow (right). Images were taken by the Montagnola webcam. Courtesy of INGV (Report 47/2020, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 09/11/2020 – 15/11/2020, data emissione 17/11/2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 318. Drone image of the New Southeast Crater at Etna on 21 November 2020 showing an ash plume rising above the inner crater rim (black line). Fallout is visible within the crater rim (small red circles). Courtesy of INGV (Report 48/2020, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 16/11/2020 – 21/11/2020, data emissione 24/11/2020).

Geologic Background. Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily's second largest city, has one of the world's longest documented records of historical volcanism, dating back to 1500 BCE. Historical lava flows of basaltic composition cover much of the surface of this massive volcano, whose edifice is the highest and most voluminous in Italy. The Mongibello stratovolcano, truncated by several small calderas, was constructed during the late Pleistocene and Holocene over an older shield volcano. The most prominent morphological feature of Etna is the Valle del Bove, a 5 x 10 km horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the east. Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur, sometimes simultaneously. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more summit craters. Flank vents, typically with higher effusion rates, are less frequently active and originate from fissures that open progressively downward from near the summit (usually accompanied by Strombolian eruptions at the upper end). Cinder cones are commonly constructed over the vents of lower-flank lava flows. Lava flows extend to the foot of the volcano on all sides and have reached the sea over a broad area on the SE flank.

Information Contacts: Sezione di Catania - Osservatorio Etneo, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/it/); 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/); Boris Behncke, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: https://twitter.com/etnaboris).


Copahue (Chile-Argentina) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Copahue

Chile-Argentina

37.856°S, 71.183°W; summit elev. 2953 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New eruption in June-October 2020 with crater incandescence, ash plumes, and local ashfall

Copahue is an elongated composite cone located along the Chile-Argentina border. The E summit crater consists of an acidic 300-m-wide crater lake which is characterized by intense fumarolic activity. Previous activity consisted of continuous gas-and-ash emissions during early November 2019, accompanied by nighttime incandescence, minor SO2 plumes, and the reappearance of the lake in the El Agrio crater during early December 2019 (BGVN 45:03). This report, covering March-November 2020, describes an eruption with gas-and-ash plumes from mid-June through late October, accompanied by thermal anomalies visible in satellite imagery and small SO2 plumes. Primary information for this report comes from the Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN) Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

Activity during March-May 2020 was relatively low and consisted primarily of seismicity, sulfur dioxide emissions, and occasional white gas-and-steam emissions rising 300-900 m above the El Agrio crater. On 20 March a series of volcano-tectonic seismic events were detected SSW of the volcano; satellite images showed a decrease in the size of the crater lake. SO2 emissions had daily averages of 487-636 tons, with the highest value reaching 1,884 tons/day on 16 May. During April slight subsidence was reported in the crater, occurring at a maximum rate of 0.3 cm/month.

Activity during most of June and July consisted of occasional white gas-and-steam emissions rising 350-500 m above the El Agrio crater and SO2 emissions averaging 592-1,950 tons/day; a high value of 1,897 tons/day was reported on 13 June. However, on 16 June a period of increased seismicity was accompanied by crater incandescence and gas emissions containing some ash. SO2 plumes increased slightly in July with values of 2,100 and 1,713 tons/day on 2 and 4 July, respectively. Another ash plume was observed by local residents on 16 July, accompanied by elevated seismicity and SO2 emissions of 4,684 tons/day. On 20 July residents of La Araucanía described an odor that indicated hydrogen sulfide gas emissions. A photo on 23 July showed an ash plume rising above the crater (figure 55).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Photo of a gas-and-ash plume rising from Copahue on 23 July 2020. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, taken from Caviahue, Argentina.

Beginning in early August, and continuing through September 2020, the Sentinel-2 MODIS Thermal Volcanic Activity graph provided by the MIROVA system identified a small cluster of thermal anomalies in the summit area (figure 56). Thermal anomalies during this time were also captured in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery, showing a persistent hotspot of varying strength in the summit crater (figure 57). This thermal activity was accompanied by small sulfur dioxide plumes identified by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite, which exceeded two Dobson Units (DU). Distinct SO2 emissions greater than two DUs were detected on 6, 11, 21, 22, and 29 August, 1 and 6 September, and 4 and 15 October (figure 58).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. A small cluster of thermal anomalies were detected in the summit area of Copahue (red dots) during early August through September 2020 as recorded by the Sentinel-2 MODIS Thermal Volcanic Activity data (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed a thermal anomaly (bright yellow-orange) at Copahue during August-October 2020. Images using “Atmospheric penetration” rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Small SO2 plumes were recorded at Copahue during August-October 2020. Top row: 11 August and 1 September 2020. Bottom row: 6 September and 15 October 2020. Courtesy of the NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

During August, approximately 133 explosive events were detected, in addition to the gas-and-steam and SO2 emissions (figure 59). On 3 August pulses of ash emissions were reported by SERNAGEOMIN, which resulted in a 2.2-km-long tephra deposit estimated to have a volume of 1 km3. Gray gas-and-ash emissions were observed on 6 August, followed by a thermal anomaly detected in satellite imagery beginning on 8 August. Sulfur dioxide emissions were elevated compared to previous months, measuring an average of 2,641 tons/day with high values of 4,498 tons/day on 12 August that increased to 4,627 tons/day by 27 August. During 16-31 August webcams recorded gas-and-ash plumes rising as high as 1.7 km altitude and were sometimes accompanied by nighttime crater incandescence. Plumes drifted in multiple directions as far as 4.3 km N, 9 km NE, 8 km E, 4 km SE, 4 km SW, 9 km W, and 4.4 km NW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Photo of a white gas-and-steam plume rising from Copahue on 12 August 2020. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, taken from Caviahue, Argentina.

Elevated activity continued into September with 2-10 explosive events detected during the month; during 1-15 September webcams recorded gas-and-ash plumes rising to 1.1 km altitude, drifting 6-15 km SW and SE, which were sometimes accompanied by nighttime crater incandescence (figure 60). On 7 September a Buenos Aires VAAC advisory reported an ash plume rising to 3.7 km altitude drifting SE. On 11 September a webcam showed a weak gas emission, possibly containing some ash. Three episodes of gas-and-steam plumes were reported, rising 100-1,040 m above the crater, sometimes accompanied by incandescence. SO2 emissions were in the 1,499-1,714 tons/day range, with a high value of 4,522 tons/day on 28 September. SERNAGEOMIN reported repetitive explosions in the acid lake area alongside fumarolic activity, ejecting some material 1.7 km N, 1.2 km SE, and 4 km E of the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Photos of gas-and-steam plumes rising from Copahue on 6 September (top) and 28 September (bottom) 2020. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, taken from Caviahue, Argentina.

Persistent activity in October consisted of gas-and-steam plumes, ash emissions, and SO2 emissions. The gas-and-steam plumes rose 1.4 km above the crater, occasionally accompanied by nighttime incandescence. On 5 October the SO2 emissions were at a high value of 3,824 tons/day. During 12-15 October ash emissions resulted in a wide distribution of ashfall that reached 6.8 km NE, 7 km SE, and 6.7 km SW (figure 61). A pilot reported an ash plume rose to 3.7 km altitude drifting SE, according to a VAAC advisory, though the plume was not visible in satellite data. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery recorded strong gas-and-ash plumes during August-October, drifting generally S and E, which resulted in ash deposits on the nearby flanks (figure 62). Continued emissions had covered all of the flanks with ash by late October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. Photos of a gas-and-ash plume rising from Copahue on 13 October (top) and 15 October (bottom) 2020. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, taken from Caviahue, Argentina.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. Sentinel-2 images showing ash gas-and-ash plumes rising from Copahue during August-October 2020, resulting in some ashfall in the nearby areas. The ash plume on 31 August (top left) is drifting S with ashfall observed on the N and S flanks. The ash plume on 7 September (top right) is drifting SE with ashfall on the E and S flanks. The ash plume on 27 September (bottom left) is drifting E and N with ashfall on the NE flanks. The ash plume on 20 October (bottom right) is drifting S with ashfall on all the flanks due to continued activity. Images using “Natural color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Similar activity during November decreased, primarily characterized by gas-and-steam plumes and SO2 emissions. White gas-and-steam emissions, possibly with some ash content, were observed with a webcam on 9 and 12 November, accompanied by low but continuous seismicity. During 11-12 November SO2 emissions were at a high value of 904 tons/day. A white gas-and-steam plume was observed on 15 November rising 760 m above the crater; typical degassing rose 200-300 m above the crater, according to SERNAGEOMIN. The daily average of SO2 emissions ranged 366-582 tons.

Geologic Background. Volcán Copahue is an elongated composite cone constructed along the Chile-Argentina border within the 6.5 x 8.5 km wide Trapa-Trapa caldera that formed between 0.6 and 0.4 million years ago near the NW margin of the 20 x 15 km Pliocene Caviahue (Del Agrio) caldera. The eastern summit crater, part of a 2-km-long, ENE-WSW line of nine craters, contains a briny, acidic 300-m-wide crater lake (also referred to as El Agrio or Del Agrio) and displays intense fumarolic activity. Acidic hot springs occur below the eastern outlet of the crater lake, contributing to the acidity of the Río Agrio, and another geothermal zone is located within Caviahue caldera about 7 km NE of the summit. Infrequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions from the crater lake have ejected pyroclastic rocks and chilled liquid sulfur fragments.

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN), Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Avda Sta María No. 0104, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/); 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); Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue, Caviahue, Argentina (URL: https://twitter.com/valecaviahue, Twitter: @valecaviahue).


Masaya (Nicaragua) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

11.985°N, 86.165°W; summit elev. 594 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake continues accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions during June-November 2020

Masaya, located in Nicaragua, includes the Nindirí, San Pedro, and San Juan craters, as well as the currently active Santiago crater. The Santiago crater has contained an active lava lake since December 2015 (BGVN 41:08), and often produces gas-and-steam emissions. Similar activity is described in this report which updates information from June through November 2020 using reports from the Instituto Nicareguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER) and various satellite data.

Volcanism at Masaya has been relatively quiet and primarily characterized by an active lava lake and gas-and-steam emissions. From January to November 2020 there were 8,551 seismic events recorded. A majority of these events were described as low-frequency earthquakes, though a few were classified as volcano-tectonic. MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed few low-power thermal anomalies during June through November (figure 87). A small cluster of low-power thermal activity was detected in July and consisted of seven thermal anomalies out of a total of thirteen thermal anomalies recorded during the reporting period. Thermal activity was also observed in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery, which showed a constant thermal anomaly in the Santiago crater at the lava lake during July through October, occasionally accompanied by a gas-and-steam plume (figure 88). Small and intermittent sulfur dioxide emissions appeared in satellite data during each month of the reporting period, excluding July, some of which exceeded two Dobson Units (DU) (figure 89). On 6 July, 11 and 13 August, 7 September, during October, and 9 and 13 November, INETER scientists took SO2 measurements by making several transects using a mobile DOAS spectrometer that sampled for gases downwind of the volcano. Average values during these months were 1,202 tons/day (t/d), 1,383 t/d, 2,089 t/d, 950 t/d, and 819 t/d, respectively, with the highest average reported in September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Few thermal anomalies were detected at Masaya between June and November 2020 with a small cluster of thermal activity in July. A total of thirteen low-power thermal anomalies were shown on the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power) during the reporting period. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed the active lava lake at the summit crater of Masaya during July through October 2020, occasionally accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions, as seen on 27 July (top left) and 30 September (bottom left). Images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Intermittent sulfur dioxide emissions were captured from Masaya during June through November 2020 by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite. These images show SO2 emissions reaching up to 2 Dobson Units (DU). Top left: 9 June 2020. Top right: 23 August 2020. Bottom left: 7 September 2020. Bottom right: 15 November 2020. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

During June and July persistent gas-and-steam emissions were reported rising above the open lava lake in the Santiago crater (figure 90). On 20 June INETER scientists measured the gases on the S side, inside the Nindirí crater (SW side), and La Cruz (NW side). A perceptible gas-and-steam plume was noted rising above the Nindirí crater and drifting W. Crater wall collapses were observed on the E wall of the Santiago crater; the lava lake remained, but the level of the lake had decreased compared to previous months. During July, thermal measurements were taken of the fumaroles and near the lava lake using a FLIR SC620 thermal camera. INETER reported that the temperature measured 576°C, which had significantly increased from 163°C noted in the previous month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Images of the lava lake at Masaya during June 2020, accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions (left) and a gas-and-steam plume rising above the Santiago crater (right). Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismológico, Vulcanológico y Geológico Junio, 2020).

Small crater wall collapses were detected on the NW and E wall of the Santiago crater, accompanied by abundant gas-and-steam emissions during August (figure 91). On 7 August thermal measurements were taken of the fumaroles and near the lava lake, which showed another temperature increase to 771°C. Continuous collapse of the crater walls began to excavate depressions in the crater floor and along the walls. Similar activity was observed in September with abundant gas-and-steam emissions in the Santiago crater, as well as collapses of the E wall (figure 91). Temperature measurements taken during this month had decreased slightly compared to August, to 688°C.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Photos of the Santiago crater at Masaya during August (left) and September (right) 2020 showing a) an internal collapse on the N wall of the crater floor; b) an internal collapse on the S wall of the crater floor, forming a depression; c) newly excavated crater floor due to wall collapses; and d) an internal collapse on the S wall. In September a significant amount of gas-and-steam emissions originating from the N side of the crater were observed compared to the previous months. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismológico, Vulcanológico y Geológico Agosto and Septiembre, 2020).

Activity in October and November remained consistent with continued wall collapses in the Santiago crater, particularly on the S and E wall, due to fractures in the rocks and erosion, accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. INETER reported that the level of the lava lake had decreased due to continuous internal wall collapses, which had caused some obstruction in the lava lake and allowed for material to accumulate within the crater. On 9 October thermal measurements were taken of the fumaroles and near the lava lake using a FLIR SC620 thermal camera (figure 92). The temperature had increased again compared to September, to 823°C. By 26 November, the temperature had decreased slightly to 800°C, though activity remained similar.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. Thermal measurements of the active lava lake and fumaroles taken in the Santiago crater at Masaya on 1 October 2020 with a FLIR SC620 thermal camera. Temperatures reached up to 823°C. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismológico, Vulcanológico y Geológico Octubre, 2020).

Geologic Background. Masaya is one of Nicaragua's most unusual and most active volcanoes. It lies within the massive Pleistocene Las Sierras caldera and is itself a broad, 6 x 11 km basaltic caldera with steep-sided walls up to 300 m high. The caldera is filled on its NW end by more than a dozen vents that erupted along a circular, 4-km-diameter fracture system. The Nindirí and Masaya cones, 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 6,500 years ago. Historical lava flows cover much of the caldera floor and there is a lake at the far eastern end. A lava flow from the 1670 eruption overtopped the north caldera rim. 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 have caused 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/); NASA 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).


Nevados de Chillan (Chile) — November 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Nevados de Chillan

Chile

36.868°S, 71.378°W; summit elev. 3180 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent explosions, a lava flow on the N flank, and lava dome growth during July-October 2020

Nevados de Chillán, located in the Chilean Central Andes, is a volcanic complex composed of late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcanoes. On 8 January 2016 an explosion created the Nicanor Crater on the NW flank of Volcán Viejo. Recent activity consists of explosions, ash plumes, pyroclastic flows, and a new lava dome in the Nicanor Crater (BGVN 45:07). This report covers July through October 2020; activity is characterized by frequent explosions, ash plumes, a lava flow on the N flank, and continued lava dome growth. The primary source of information comes from the Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN)-Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and satellite data.

Since 27 June webcams have showed an active lava flow that originated from the Nicanor Crater and descended the N flank. Activity during July consisted of 210-473 volcano-tectonic seismic events and 565-614 explosive events. Ash plumes rising 1.1-1.2 km above the crater and were accompanied by day and nighttime incandescence on the E edge of the Nicanor Crater. Due to these explosions, SERNAGEOMIN reported that tephra and other pyroclastic deposits were deposited within 400 m to the E of the crater. On 1 July a Buenos Aires VAAC advisory reported that a webcam showed ash emissions rising to 4.3 km altitude. Continuous explosions the next day produced ash plumes that rose 500 m above the crater. During 1-2 July the active lava flow had reached 40 m long and descended at a rate of 0.2 m3 per second. On 6 July an explosion at 0837 generated a gas-and-ash plume that rose 1.2 km above the crater and drifted SE; sporadic ash emissions were also observed on 7 July, according to a VAAC advisory. SERNAGEOMIN webcams showed that the lava flow that began on 27 June continued down the N flank, while a new lobe 55-194 m long moved toward the NE flank of Nicanor Crater. Gas plumes were also observed rising above the active crater, as noted on 20 July (figure 63). On 29 July weak ash emissions rose 3.9 km altitude and drifted SE, according to a VAAC report. During that day, the volume of the lava dome measured 400,000 m3 and grew at a rate of 0.1 m3 per second. Throughout the month, the lava flow continued to descend the N flank of the Nicanor Crater, reaching 520 m at a rate of 0.7-0.6 m per hour. Some unconsolidated blocks up to a meter in size detached from the front of the flow and moved up to 240 m. Sulfur dioxide emissions during the month averaged 823 tons/day with a high value of 1,815 tons/day reported on 29 July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. A white gas-and-steam plume was observed at Nevados de Chillán on 20 July 2020. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN webcam, posted by Volcanology Chile.

During August SERNAGEOMIN reported 68-75 volcano-tectonic seismic events and 497-578 explosive events, the latter of which ejected material as far as 300 m E and NE from Nicanor Crater. Associated ash plumes rose 800-980 m above the crater and were accompanied by day and nighttime crater incandescence. The lava dome continued to grow during the month, reaching a thickness of 41 m, according to SERNAGEOMIN. SO2 emissions were an average value of 134-205 tons/day with a high value of 245 tons/day reported on 3 August. On 15 August a VAAC advisory reported weak and sporadic gas-and-ash emissions at the summit; on 20 August a hotspot was detected in satellite imagery, though an ash plume was not observed. The active lava flow on the N flank extended 490-495 m and moved at a rate of 0.07-0.06 m per hour. On 31 August a webcam showed an ash plume rising above the volcano, accompanied by the advancing lava flow on the N flank (figure 64).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. An explosion at Nevados de Chillán produced an ash plume on 31 August 2020. A lava flow accompanies the ash plume on the N flank. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

Similar activity continued into September, with 45-48 volcano-tectonic and 591-621 explosive events. Ash plumes rose to 1.5 km above the crater and were accompanied by day and nighttime incandescence on the E edge of Nicanor Crater. During 1-15 September explosions at the lava dome produced ash plumes that rose to less than 1.5 km altitude, resulting in ashfall within 300 m E and NE of the crater; ejecta from larger explosions was also observed to the ESE. Satellite images showed partial destruction of the lava dome as well as loss of some material due to successive explosions at the beginning of the month. Overall, the dome continued to increase in size, reaching a volume of 180,000 m3 and a thickness of 45 m since August (41 m). The lava dome measured 93 m NW-SE and 104 m SW-NE. By 15 September the 500-m-long lava flow had descended the NNE flank and continued to advance at a rate of 1.7 m per hour. The W levee of the flow channel had ruptured, which caused the toe of the lava flow to thicken. On 20 September ash emissions rose to 3.7 km altitude and drifted NE and ENE, according to a VAAC advisory. On 22 September gas emissions, weak and sporadic ash emissions, and occasional explosions accompanied the lava flow. Through the remainder of the month, the lava flow persisted, measuring 615 m, and advancing at a rate of 0.4 m per hour; its volume was 487,000 m3 (figure 65). SO2 emissions were an average value of 111-358 tons/day with a high value of 503 tons/day reported on 22 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. Photo (color corrected) of the incandescent lava flow at night descending the NNE flank of Nevados de Chillán on 21 September 2020. Photo by Jose Fauna, courtesy of Volcanology Chile.

During October there were 34-61 volcano-tectonic seismic events reported, as well as 607-644 explosive events, seven of which generated ash plumes that rose 1-1.5 km above the crater. Day and nighttime incandescence in the E edge of Nicanor Crater remained. Ash deposits associated with the explosive activity were distributed to the E and NE as far as 300 m from the crater; denser pyroclastic deposits from stronger explosions were located to the N and NE. The lava flow on the N slope persisted, extending 614-683 m from the crater rim at a rate of 0.1-0.82 m per hour with a width of 80.2 m near the crater rim and up to 112.8 m near the toe. The lava dome also continued to grow since it was last measured in September; it was 115 m wide at the base by 107 m high. SO2 emissions were an average value of 167-355 tons/day with a high value of 588 tons/day reported on 26 October. On 29 October an ash plume was detected in satellite imagery and rose to 3.7 km altitude and drifted W, according to a VAAC advisory (figure 66). SERNAGEOMIN reported that a 25-m-diameter subcrater had formed on the E inner edge of Nicanor Crater at the top of the lava dome. On 30 October, intermittent gas-and-ash emissions were visible at the summit in satellite imagery, rising to 3.9 km altitude and drifting SE.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Webcam image of an explosion at Nevados de Chillán on 29 October 2020 that produced an ash plume that rose 360 m above the crater and drifted SW. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows frequent low-power thermal activity beginning in early June and continuing through October 2020 due to frequent explosions, the continued lava dome growth in Nicanor Crater, and the lava flow that descended the N flank (figure 67). On clear weather days, two thermal anomalies in the summit craters are observed in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery; one represents the growing lava dome and the other is the lava flow on the N flank (figure 68). On 25 September an ash plume was observed drifting S.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. Frequent low-power thermal activity at Nevados de Chillán continued during July through October 2020, according to the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power). Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed a persistent thermal anomaly (bright yellow-orange) in the summit crater of Nevados de Chillán during July through October 2020. On 29 July (top left), a third faint thermal anomaly was detected on the N flank, indicating a lava flow. On 25 September (bottom left) an ash plume was visible drifting S. Images using “Atmospheric penetration” rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The compound volcano of Nevados de Chillán is one of the most active of the Central Andes. Three late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcanoes were constructed along a NNW-SSE line within three nested Pleistocene calderas, which produced ignimbrite sheets extending more than 100 km into the Central Depression of Chile. The largest stratovolcano, dominantly andesitic, Cerro Blanco (Volcán Nevado), is located at the NW end of the group. Volcán Viejo (Volcán Chillán), which was the main active vent during the 17th-19th centuries, occupies the SE end. The new Volcán Nuevo lava-dome complex formed between 1906 and 1945 between the two volcanoes and grew to exceed Volcán Viejo in elevation. The Volcán Arrau dome complex was constructed SE of Volcán Nuevo between 1973 and 1986 and eventually exceeded its height.

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN), Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Avda Sta María No. 0104, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/); Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Servicio Meteorológico Nacional-Fuerza Aérea Argentina, 25 de mayo 658, Buenos Aires, Argentina (URL: http://www.smn.gov.ar/vaac/buenosaires/inicio.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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Volcanology Chile (URL: https://twitter.com/volcanologiachl); Jose Fauna, Caracol sector, San Fabián de Alicom, Chile (URL: https://twitter.com/josefauna).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 16, Number 08 (August 1991)

Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland

Aira (Japan)

Explosions continue

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Explosions and seismicity decline; lava flows

Arjuno-Welirang (Indonesia)

White plume from Welirang summit

Barren Island (India)

Basaltic andesite lava from flank vent reaches sea

Colima (Mexico)

Fumarole temperatures increase

Dukono (Indonesia)

Explosions and glow; ashfall to coast; small lahars

Galeras (Colombia)

Explosions eject incandescent tephra; increased seismicity and deformation

Gamalama (Indonesia)

Explosions eject white clouds

Hudson, Cerro (Chile)

Basaltic fissure eruption preceded andesitic paroxysmal phase; strong winds rework major ash deposits

Irazu (Costa Rica)

New fumaroles but seismicity declines

Karangetang (Indonesia)

Explosive activity and glow

Karthala (Comoros)

Details of seismicity and deformation associated with the 11 July eruption

Kilauea (United States)

Continued lava flow into sea; lava pond overflows; magma intrusion

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Ash clouds; incandescent tephra; lava flows in crater

Lengai, Ol Doinyo (Tanzania)

Carbonatite lava production continues on crater floor

Lokon-Empung (Indonesia)

Incandescent tephra cause fires that burn plantations

Malindang (Philippines)

False report of eruption

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Occasional ash emission; lava dome

Marchena (Ecuador)

First historical eruption

Pinatubo (Philippines)

Secondary pyroclastic flows feed large ash columns; frequent mudflows; fewer explosions

Poas (Costa Rica)

Crater lake rises, covering fumaroles; low-frequency seismicity

Raung (Indonesia)

Dense plumes

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica)

Explosions eject ash and blocks

Ruapehu (New Zealand)

Lake temperature rises; possible minor eruptions

Ruiz, Nevado del (Colombia)

Seismicity, deformation, and gas emission remain unchanged

Santa Maria (Guatemala)

Continued explosions and block lava production

Stromboli (Italy)

Continued moderate explosive activity; gas data

Unzendake (Japan)

Continued lava dome extrusion and pyroclastic flows

Villarrica (Chile)

Weak explosions

Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand)

Tephra emission; shock waves in crater



Aira (Japan) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions continue

Nineteen explosions occurred . . . in August . . . . Ejecta from an explosion on 5 August at 1057 cracked the windshield of an airliner in flight. A car windshield was cracked by tephra from an explosion at 1249 the same day and another was broken on 20 August at 0851, both on Sakura-jima Island, 3 km from the crater. The month's highest ash cloud rose 4,000 m. A total of 583 g/m2 of ash was deposited [at KLMO]; a change in the usual wind direction had carried ash away from this site in July. Typical volcanic earthquake swarms were recorded on 3, 15, 16, and 29 August.

Similar activity continued through mid-September, adding 15 explosions as of the 14th . . . . The highest September ash cloud reached 1,800 m height.

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.


Arenal (Costa Rica) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Arenal

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions and seismicity decline; lava flows

An average of 3 explosions/day was recorded in August . . . . Seismicity also decreased, to a daily average of 20 earthquakes (figure 40). Fumarolic activity continued from the active crater, and lava flows continued to travel down the W and SW flanks of the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Daily number of earthquakes at Arenal, August 1991. Courtesy of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

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: R. Barquero and G. Soto, ICE; Mario Fernández, Hector Flores, and Sergio Paniagua, Sección de Sismología y Vulcanología, Escuela de Geología, Univ de Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica.


Arjuno-Welirang (Indonesia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Arjuno-Welirang

Indonesia

7.733°S, 112.575°E; summit elev. 3339 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


White plume from Welirang summit

A plume from the summit area of Welirang . . . was photographed by Space Shuttle astronauts on 13 September at [1535] (photo no. S48-151-064) (figure 1). The dense portion of the apparently ash-poor plume extended roughly 50 km N and more diffuse material continued for another 65 km. The summit area was white and apparently de-vegetated. A plume was observed again on direct video downlink from the spacecraft on [17] September at [1306]. No ground reports were available at press time.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Space Shuttle photograph showing a steam plume from Welirang (just east of the central cloud mass). Also, the lack of vegetation at the peak indicates volcanic activity. Volcanoes on Java form an E-W line of peaks the length of the island; five are in this image. NASA Photo ID: STS048-151-064, 13 September 1991.

Geologic Background. The Arjuno and Welirang volcanoes anchor the SE and NW ends, respectively, of a 6-km-long line of volcanic cones and craters. The Arjuno-Welirang complex overlies two older volcanoes, Gunung Ringgit to the east and Gunung Linting to the south. The summit areas of both volcanoes are unvegetated. Additional pyroclastic cones are located on the north flank of Gunung Welirang and along an E-W line cutting across the southern side of Gunung Arjuno that extends to the lower SE flank. Fumarolic areas with sulfur deposition occur at several locations on Welirang.

Information Contacts: C. Evans and D. Helms, NASA-SSEOP.


Barren Island (India) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Barren Island

India

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Basaltic andesite lava from flank vent reaches sea

Lava production continued from the subsidiary vent on the NE face of the volcanic cone, 80 m below the main crater, during a visit on 26 June. Incandescent material was ejected in a pulsating fountain, to [80] m height, more intensely than during the previous visit on 16 May. Satellite monitoring had indicated a temperature of 1,100°C around the vent on 6 May. A dark plume rose 300-400 m from the crater of a large spatter cone that had formed at the eruptive vent. The main crater remained quiet. The lava flow observed in May had bifurcated, with one branch extending along the NW and W valleys, and a new branch extending S. By 26 June, lava had reached the sea at the boat landing near the NW corner of the island (~1.2 km from the vent); during the 16 May fieldwork, the lava front was still 200 m from shore. Vigorous boiling and thick jets of steam were observed for 100 m along the shore. Studies of water near the shore indicated a considerable decrease in pH, and visibility dropped to <10 cm (Srinivas, 1991). Nearby coral was destroyed.

The following is from a GSI report on lava chemistry and petrography. "Thirteen chemical analyses on samples of recent lava collected on 16 May indentify the rocks as basaltic andesites (table 1). They are porphyritic with phenocrysts of plagioclase (dominant; some grains show labradorite composition), with minor clinopyroxene (augite) and forsteritic olivine, set in a fluidal [intersertal] groundmass of brown glass, plagioclase microlites, and Fe-Ti oxides. The amount of mafic phenocrysts is relatively low. The average ratio between phenocryst and groundmass components is around 0.44. The volumetric composition of the phenocrysts indicates: 72% plagioclase, 17% clinopyroxene, and 11% olivine; while the groundmass consists of 43% plagioclase microlites, 37% glass, and 20% Fe-Ti oxides. The amount of glass in the groundmass is highly variable, exceeding 70% in some sections. There is a complete lack of amphibole grains, in both the phenocrysts and [in] the groundmass."

Table 1. Range and average compositions from 13 chemical analyses of recent lava erupted from Barren Island, collected 16 May 1991. Courtesy of the GSI.

Element Range (%) Average (%)
SiO2 54.96-56.33 55.64
TiO2 1.13-1.18 1.15
Al2O3 17.66-18.62 18.20
Fe2O3 5.39-9.44 6.32
FeO 0.36-4.23 2.36
MnO 0.18-0.19 0.185
MgO 3.29-3.59 3.39
CaO 7.52-7.93 7.79
Na2O 1.75-2.19 2.01
K2O 0.58-0.79 0.69
P2O5 0.14-0.18 0.16
L.O.I. 0.16-0.48 0.31

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

Information Contacts: Director General, GSI; S. Acharya, SANE.


Colima (Mexico) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Colima

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumarole temperatures increase

"Five high-temperature fumaroles on the SW rim of the summit lava dome have been monitored continuously since May. These fumaroles are ~75 m W of the site of the March-May lava extrusion and occur along fractures radial to the dome. Temperatures were measured at 20-minute intervals and radio-telemetered to the Science Center in the city of Colima. Temperatures at two of the fumaroles have increased at a steady rate between May and August (figure 16). Mean late-August temperatures were 506 and 386°C, increases of 66 and 43°C, respectively, since May. Mean temperatures in three other fumaroles have changed <10°C during the same period. Throughout the sampling period, all fumaroles exhibited marked diurnal temperature variation, on the order of 30-80°C/day. The rainy season, which began in mid-June and has continued through August, has had little effect on fumarole temperatures other than occasional low readings during rainstorms."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. May-August 1991 temperatures at two fumaroles on the SW rim of Colima's summit lava dome, about 75 m W of the site of March-May lava extrusion. Measurements, at 20-minute intervals, were radio-telemetered to the Science Center, city of Colima. Courtesy of C. Connor.

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 high point of the complex) on the north and the historically active Volcán de Colima at the south. A group of late-Pleistocene cinder cones is located on the floor of the Colima graben west and east of the 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, producing thick debris-avalanche deposits on three sides of the complex. Frequent historical eruptions date back to the 16th century. Occasional major explosive eruptions have destroyed the summit (most recently in 1913) and left a deep, steep-sided crater that was slowly refilled and then overtopped by lava dome growth.

Information Contacts: C. Connor, FIU, Miami.


Dukono (Indonesia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Dukono

Indonesia

1.693°N, 127.894°E; summit elev. 1229 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions and glow; ashfall to coast; small lahars

People living near the volcano reported that a new eruption began during the night of 8-9 June, after nine years of relative quiet. At the onset of the eruption, residents were awakened by rumblings and a red glow from the volcano, which has since remained active. Ashfalls have occurred regularly in coastal towns 15 km NNW to 15 km ENE of the summit (Galela, Mamoya, and Tobelo). When visited by a geologist on 23-28 June, small to moderate explosions occurred every 4-5 minutes, sometimes accompanied by noise and night glow. Small lahars occurred in rivers draining the volcano.

Space Shuttle astronauts photographed an apparently ash-rich plume extending ~30 km from the summit to slightly beyond the coast on 15 September at 2156 (photos STS048-110-34 & 35). The entire summit area appeared ash-covered.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Photograph of Dukono taken from the Space Shuttle, 2156 on 15 September 1991. The summit area appears to be covered with ash, and the plume extends ~30 km W from the summit. Courtesy of NASA-SSEOP; photo STS048-110-35.

Geologic Background. Reports from this remote volcano in northernmost Halmahera are rare, but Dukono has been one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. More-or-less continuous explosive eruptions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, occurred from 1933 until at least the mid-1990s, when routine observations were curtailed. During a major eruption in 1550, a lava flow filled in the strait between Halmahera and the north-flank cone of Gunung Mamuya. This complex volcano presents a broad, low profile with multiple summit peaks and overlapping craters. Malupang Wariang, 1 km SW of the summit crater complex, contains a 700 x 570 m crater that has also been active during historical time.

Information Contacts: V. Clavel and P. Vetsch, SVG, Switzerland; C. Evans, NASA-SSEOP.


Galeras (Colombia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Galeras

Colombia

1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions eject incandescent tephra; increased seismicity and deformation

Seismic activity increased significantly in August, reaching the highest number of events (>150/day), the greatest reduced displacement (>800 cm2), and the highest released energy (~5.0 x 108 ergs; see figure 52) by long-period events since monitoring began in February 1989. Explosions and continuous ash emission from the crater were accompanied by periodic ejections of incandescent blocks up to tens of centimeters in diameter. Incandescence was visible within the crater at dispersed sites. Although weather conditions impeded direct observations, it was possible to confirm that many of the long-period earthquakes and tremor episodes had associated surface activity. SO2 flux was low, ranging from 7 to ~370 t/d.

Substantial deformation changes were measured by the electronic tiltmeter [at Crater Station], with a resultant vector of 231 µrad of inflation (118° azimuth) in the 2 weeks ending 14 August. Lower levels of deformation, 3.7 µrad at 183° azimuth, were measured [at Peladitos Station].

Geologic Background. Galeras, a stratovolcano with a large breached caldera located immediately west of the city of Pasto, is one of Colombia's most frequently active volcanoes. The dominantly andesitic complex has been active for more than 1 million years, and two major caldera collapse eruptions took place during the late Pleistocene. Long-term extensive hydrothermal alteration has contributed to large-scale edifice collapse on at least three occasions, producing debris avalanches that swept to the west and left a large horseshoe-shaped caldera inside which the modern cone has been constructed. Major explosive eruptions since the mid-Holocene have produced widespread tephra deposits and pyroclastic flows that swept all but the southern flanks. A central cone slightly lower than the caldera rim has been the site of numerous small-to-moderate historical eruptions since the time of the Spanish conquistadors.

Information Contacts: INGEOMINAS-OVP.


Gamalama (Indonesia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Gamalama

Indonesia

0.8°N, 127.33°E; summit elev. 1715 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions eject white clouds

Two strong explosions were seen from Ternate, 6 km ESE of the summit, on 15 June, ejecting mainly white clouds. A 20 June climb revealed only white vapor filling the summit crater.

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

Information Contacts: V. Clavel and P. Vetsch, SVG, Switzerland.


Cerro Hudson (Chile) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Cerro Hudson

Chile

45.9°S, 72.97°W; summit elev. 1905 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Basaltic fissure eruption preceded andesitic paroxysmal phase; strong winds rework major ash deposits

In one of the largest eruptions of the century, Hudson's mid-August paroxysm produced an eruption cloud 18 km high and deposited ash up to 1,000 km SE. Estimates of tephra volume range between 2 and 6 km3; >1 km3 was deposited in Chile, around 2 km3 in Argentina, and 2 km3 may have fallen in the Atlantic Ocean or been lost to the atmosphere. Satellite data showed that the eruption produced a large SO2-rich cloud, estimated to contain 1.5 megatons of SO2 on 16 August, that was transported twice around the globe in 2 weeks.

The following is from a report by Norman Banks. "The eruption produced 1 to 2+ km3 (dense rock equivalent) of magma. The initial 8-9 August eruption (beginning about 1820 on 8 August) was from a basaltic (50% SiO2) dike through a fissure 4 km long, trending through the NW rim of the 10 x 7 km, ice-filled caldera. The basalt erupted both as a lava fountain and phreatomagmatically, producing a tephra column 12 km high, scoria flows that covered 10 km2 of the western caldera floor and an unknown area outside of the caldera, a 4-km-long lava flow over the WNW flank's Huemules glacier, long-lived (12 hours) floods down the Río Sorpresa (WSW flank) and Río Huemules valleys, and a rather low-volume tephra-fall deposit N of the volcano. This ash had a moderate level (100-300 ppm dry weight) of soluble fluorine that was quickly reduced to 2-10 ppm by heavy rains during the next 2 weeks. Grass growing through this deposit has a fluorine content of about 30 ppm.

"The andesitic eruption of 12-15 August may have been due to secondary boiling triggered by intrusion of the 8 August basalt, or other basaltic dikes into the andesitic magma body under the caldera; bombs and lapilli of pumiceous andesite (60% SiO2) mixed with chilled basalt are common in the tephra-fall deposits. The 3-day andesitic eruption produced a strong Plinian column that ejected pyroclastic material into a very strong SE-directed stratospheric wind (185 km/hr) that kept the plume narrow even 700 km from the volcano. Pumiceous ballistic bombs 1 m in diameter were found 10 km from the vent, where tephra-fall deposits were >2.5 m thick. The 10-cm isopach reached just SE of Chile Chico (120 km SE of the vent) and 1-2 cm of ash was deposited at Argentina's coast (figure 5). [As many as 13 distinct layers of ash were deposited in some locations.] Fortunately, pyroclastic flows did not spill onto the outer snow-covered flanks during this episode, and no additional mudflows were reported. Shortly after the 12-15 August eruption, however, secondary water-and-pumice flows formed on the volcano's flanks during daily melting of the snow. Because most of the thick deposits on the steep mountainous terrain SE of the volcano are on and interleaved with snow, downslope movement and associated hydrological problems for the downstream valleys are certain to accelerate as the summer melting and rains begin. The andesitic ash in Chile had low amounts of soluble fluorine (<20 ppm), and grass covered by or growing through the ash deposits has a relatively low fluorine content. Analysis of fine fractions of the Chilean deposits suggest that downwind (Argentinean) fluorine values will not be significantly higher."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Preliminary isopach map of the 12-15 August 1991 tephra-fall deposits from Hudson. Prepared by N. Banks, H. Moreno, H. Corbella, M. Haller, and H. Ostera.

Steam emission, occasionally containing minor quantities of ash, declined rapidly following the eruption's end on 15 August.

Major reworking of ash deposits in Argentina by strong winds led to several false reports of renewed activity at Hudson. Ash was redistributed N to Comodoro Rivadavia (2 mm at 400 km E of Hudson) and was reported S to Río Gallegos (700 km SSE). In early September, GOES satellite images detected ash clouds, probably below 3 km, carried by ground-level winds at 55-65 km/hr; these clouds extended from near the volcano to over the Atlantic ocean. The densest part of the clouds appeared to be ~250 km SE of the volcano, about halfway to the Argentine coast. Poor visibility, down to a few hundred meters, was reported at Puerto Deseado and Puerto San Julián. Argentine officials have expressed concern over the >2 million sheep and 3,000 cattle in the affected region.

Geologic Background. The ice-filled, 10-km-wide caldera of the remote Cerro Hudson volcano was not recognized until its first 20th-century eruption in 1971. It is the southernmost volcano in the Chilean Andes related to subduction of the Nazca plate beneath the South American plate. The massive volcano covers an area of 300 km2. The compound caldera is drained through a breach on its NW rim, which has been the source of mudflows down the Río de Los Huemeles. Two cinder cones occur N of the volcano and others occupy the SW and SE flanks. This volcano has been the source of several major Holocene explosive eruptions. An eruption about 6700 years ago was one of the largest known in the southern Andes during the Holocene; another eruption about 3600 years ago also produced more than 10 km3 of tephra. An eruption in 1991 was Chile's second largest of the 20th century and formed a new 800-m-wide crater in the SW portion of the caldera.

Information Contacts: N. Banks, USGS; H. Moreno, Univ de Chile; J. Naranjo, SERNAGEOMIN; P. Bitschene, Patagonia Volcanism Program, Argentina; P. Maxwell, US Embassy, Buenos Aires; D. Helms, Lockheed, Houston; S. Doiron and G. Bluth, GSFC.


Irazu (Costa Rica) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Irazu

Costa Rica

9.979°N, 83.852°W; summit elev. 3432 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New fumaroles but seismicity declines

Fumarolic activity continued in August, mainly in a large zone of sulfur and chloride deposition in the N section of the crater, while a new zone of fumarolic activity appeared in the SSE part. The crater lake grew to cover almost the entire floor, >150 m in diameter. Seismicity, abnormally high since late May, continued to decrease in August (figure 4). During the second week in June, a new group of fumaroles appeared in the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Monthly number of earthquakes at Irazú, January-August 1991. Courtesy of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

Geologic Background. Irazú, one of Costa Rica's most active volcanoes, rises immediately E of the capital city of San José. The massive volcano covers an area of 500 km2 and is vegetated to within a few hundred meters of its broad flat-topped summit crater complex. At least 10 satellitic cones are located on its S flank. No lava flows have been identified since the eruption of the massive Cervantes lava flows from S-flank vents about 14,000 years ago, and all known Holocene eruptions have been explosive. The focus of eruptions at the summit crater complex has migrated to the W towards the historically active crater, which contains a small lake of variable size and color. Although eruptions may have occurred around the time of the Spanish conquest, the first well-documented historical eruption occurred in 1723, and frequent explosive eruptions have occurred since. Ashfall from the last major eruption during 1963-65 caused significant disruption to San José and surrounding areas.

Information Contacts: R. Barquero and G. Soto, ICE; Mario Fernández, Hector Flores, and Sergio Paniagua, Sección de Sismología y Vulcanología, Univ de Costa Rica.


Karangetang (Indonesia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

2.781°N, 125.407°E; summit elev. 1797 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosive activity and glow

Explosions were clearly visible from the coast (at Ulu Siau) during a visit 2-4 July. A diffuse, red, summit-area glow was continuously observed. Some small earthquakes were felt.

Geologic Background. Karangetang (Api Siau) volcano lies at the northern end of the island of Siau, about 125 km NNE of the NE-most point of Sulawesi island. The stratovolcano contains five summit craters along a N-S line. It is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, with more than 40 eruptions recorded since 1675 and many additional small eruptions that were not documented in the historical record (Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World: Neumann van Padang, 1951). Twentieth-century eruptions have included frequent explosive activity sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows and lahars. Lava dome growth has occurred in the summit craters; collapse of lava flow fronts have produced pyroclastic flows.

Information Contacts: V. Clavel and P. Vetsch, SVG, Switzerland.


Karthala (Comoros) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Karthala

Comoros

11.75°S, 43.38°E; summit elev. 2361 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Details of seismicity and deformation associated with the 11 July eruption

The bottom of the summit's Choungou-Chahalé crater, obscured by a cloud of white gas and vapor following the 11 July phreatic eruption, became visible in early August. A new explosion crater (~250 m in diameter) was observed in its SE section. Vigorous degassing occurred through the crater lake and from the wall of the new crater. The following, from Patrick Bachélery, supplements the report in 16:6.

Karthala's 11 July explosion followed an increase in seismicity from 3-5 events/month (June 1988 start of monitoring through early April 1991) to 3-10 events/day in May (figure 2). Earthquakes were centered beneath the crater, mostly at 0-2 km below sea level, with a few 10-20 km below sea level. On 4 May, a swarm of 161 earthquakes (M 0.5-2) was recorded during a 1-hour period beginning at 1609. The number of earthquakes increased to 30-50/day by the end of June, and all were at shallow depths. Deformation measurements showed summit inflation of ~20 µrad during this time; only weak changes in deformation had been measured between the network's installation (May 1987) and June 1989.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Daily number of earthquakes at Karthala, March-June (inset) and May-July 1991. Courtesy of P. Bachélery.

A notable change in seismicity occurred on 30 June at 1645. More than 500 earthquakes (long- and short-period) were recorded that day, as many on the next, and >1,500 daily 2-4 July (figure 2). The short-period events (M 0.5-3.1) were centered in a roughly N-S line below the S part of the summit caldera and the S flank of the volcano (figure 3). Felt shocks caused ~1,000 people to leave the lower part of the S flank.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Epicenter map of short-period earthquakes at Karthala during 30 June-4 July (open squares) and 5-10 July 1991 (filled squares). Courtesy of P. Bachélery.

Seismicity continued to increase from 4 July, with 4,000 earthquakes recorded daily by 10 July. A swarm of nearly continuous seismic events was recorded between 0040 and 0110 the next day. The 4-10 July seismicity was characterized by low-magnitude (mostly M <1, sometimes to M 3.4) short-period events located under the summit at 1-4 km depths, and less numerous deeper earthquakes at 4-8 km depth. Some long-period events with cigar-shaped waveform envelopes were also recorded. The center of seismicity shifted N, resulting in fewer felt shocks in the S part of the island, while several M 3 earthquakes were felt in Moroni (13 km NW of the crater).

Deformation measurements (dry-tilt) the morning of 10 July showed >120 µrad of inflation centered on Choungou-Chahalé and Choungou-Chagnoumeni (figure 4) craters since 28 June. That night, the eruption took place, but no eyewitness accounts are available. Seismicity reached its highest intensity during an 11-hour period that night [but see 16:6], dropping abruptly at 0335 on 11 July to ~100 recorded events/hour. About 1.5 hours later, a strong sulfur odor was detected in Moroni for ~2 hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Map showing Karthala's summit region and deposits from the 11 July 1991 explosion. Courtesy of P. Bachélery.

Later visits to the summit revealed that a sizeable phreatic explosion had occurred in Choungou-Chahalé crater. The southern 2/3 of the summit caldera were covered by blocks (up to 10 m3) and ash (figure 4), and the summit vegetation was completely removed from within the limits of the caldera. The crater bottom was hidden by gas and vapor clouds, obscuring the source of a "fountaining" sound heard two weeks after the 11 July explosion. Geologists later believed the sound to have been caused by the forceful arrival of water into the new crater, forming the crater lake.

Seismicity rapidly decreased after the explosion, although several earthquakes of M 3.0-3.5 were recorded through the end of July. In August, 20-40 events/day were recorded, the same level as in June.

Geologic Background. The southernmost and largest of the two shield volcanoes forming Grand Comore Island (also known as Ngazidja Island), Karthala contains a 3 x 4 km summit caldera generated by repeated collapse. Elongated rift zones extend to the NNW and SE from the summit of the Hawaiian-style basaltic shield, which has an asymmetrical profile that is steeper to the S. The lower SE rift zone forms the Massif du Badjini, a peninsula at the SE tip of the island. Historical eruptions have modified the morphology of the compound, irregular summit caldera. More than twenty eruptions have been recorded since the 19th century from the summit caldera and vents on the N and S flanks. Many lava flows have reached the sea on both sides of the island. An 1860 lava flow from the summit caldera traveled ~13 km to the NW, reaching the W coast to the N of the capital city of Moroni.

Information Contacts: P. Bachélery, Univ de la Réunion; D. Ben Ali and J-L. Klein, CNDRS, RFI des Comores; F. Desgrolard, Centre de Recherche Volcanologique, Clermont-Ferrand, France; J-L. Cheminée, J-P. Toutain, and J-C. Delmond, IPGP.


Kilauea (United States) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued lava flow into sea; lava pond overflows; magma intrusion

Lava . . . continued to enter the ocean at two main sites through August (figure 79). By the end of the month, numerous breakouts from the tube system had reduced the volume of lava reaching the sea. Flows produced by major breakouts at ~180 and 340 m (600 and 1,100 ft) elevation spread over the W third of the lava field. Most remained on older lava, but a few lobes reached the field's W edge and ignited small brush fires in the remnants of the Royal Gardens subdivision. One flow from the breakout at 180 m reached 20 m elevation in early August.

Since at least January, a small lava pond has been continuously active in the bottom of Pu`u `O`o crater, covering ~20% of the crater floor on its E side. By April, the pond was circular and surrounded by levees. During the evening of 27 August, bright glow was visible over Pu`u `O`o, and a nearby seismometer recorded frequent bursts of higher amplitude tremor lasting 1-3 minutes. Overflights the next morning revealed that the pond had overflowed its levees, covering the entire crater floor with several meters of active lava that had a thin, frequently overturning, crust. Lava periodically drained back to its former level, remaining confined within the original pond until the next overflow. Similar activity continued through the end of the month. Crater depth remained roughly 80 m.

Seismicity in August included the upper East rift zone's third intrusive swarm since December 1990. More than 200 shallow summit microearthquakes were registered between 1100 and 1200 on 21 August. Earthquake counts quickly declined during the next hour, but elevationated levels of seismicity . . . continued through the next day. The largest concentration of events appeared to be centered just SE of the caldera, and very few occurred beyond Hiiaka crater, 4.5 km from the caldera rim. Most of the month's seismicity in the summit/upper east rift area occurred during the swarm.

Earthquake epicenters since December 1990 (figure 80) have been concentrated in several clusters, the largest of which were associated with the period's three intrusive episodes. The three swarms occurred in different portions of what geophysicists infer to be the same shallow (<5 km deep) structure between the summit and the East rift zone, suggesting a significant role for the summit in the current East rift eruption. During the early December swarm earthquakes were located from the summit roughly 6 km downrift (to Pauahi crater). The largest concentration of events was in the SE part of the caldera, perhaps extending a short distance into the rift zone (toward the Chain of Craters). The March activity occurred away from the summit, with the majority of located events between Pauahi and Mauna Ulu, roughly 3 km farther downrift. Following the early December seismicity and a long-period summit swarm late in the month, seismicity increased between the summit and Hiiaka crater. The same segment of the uppermost East rift zone has consistently shown low levels of shallow seismicity throughout Kupaianaha vent's post-1986 eruptive activity. After the March swarm, seismic activity along this rift segment appears to have increased further, and the August swarm was largely confined to this area.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Plot of earthquake epicenters in Kilauea's summit, upper to middle East rift zone, and south flank areas, December 1990-11 September 1991. Some of the larger craters are labeled. The eruption's two currently active vents, Pu`u `O`o and Kupaianaha, are off the map ~3 and 6 km ENE of Napau Crater. Courtesy of HVO.

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. Mattox and P. Okubo, HVO.


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — August 1991 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 clouds; incandescent tephra; lava flows in crater

"In August, Crater 3 frequently erupted moderate to strong, pale grey-brown ash and vapour clouds accompanied by weak to loud detonations, roaring or rumbling. The eruptions occurred at intervals of several minutes to a few hours. The emission clouds rose as much as 500 m above the crater. Dull to bright red crater glow was observed on the nights of 7-9, 12, and 13 August.

"During an aerial inspection on the 14th, two active vents were observed in a mound of lava filling Crater 3. The vents were ~5-10 m in diameter, 40 m apart and aligned approximately N-S. The N vent was more active and was filled with incandescent lava. The S vent was clogged with dark lava. Both vents released blue vapour. Lava had flowed eastward to form a short (70 m) lobe in the E part of the crater. A longer (~150 m) lobe of lava was present on the NE flank of Cone 3. This lobe was fresh, having a dark surface, and its source appeared to be a tube within the E lobe. The NE-flank flow was first observed on 13 August, and appeared to be inactive then. However, some activity of this flow had been evident the previous night when prolonged incandescence in this area and some movement of incandescent material were observed. Two other very small lava lobes (both inactive) were observed on the NW flank of Cone 3.

"Throughout the month, Crater 2 (roughly 200 m E of Crater 3) almost continuously emitted moderate amounts of pale grey-brown ash and vapour. This activity was accompanied by nearly continuous low roaring sounds. Occasional stronger explosions took place. Dull glow over the crater was observed on the nights of 7-9, 13, 22, 24, and 27 August. A 30-minute period of strong explosive activity on the night of 13 August resulted in a large volume of incandescent lava fragments being ejected onto the NE flank of Cone 2. Incandescent lava-fragment ejections from Crater 2 were also seen on the night of 20 August. A brief aerial view of the interior of Crater 2 on 14 August indicated that it remains funnel-shaped, with several benches. Detailed observation was prevented, however, by emissions of ash and vapour.

"The ash plume from the combined emissions of the craters was usually directed in a sector between NNE and NW. Fine ashfalls were recorded in coastal areas (9 km distant) on 1, 2, 6, and 12 August.

"Seismicity remained at a moderate to high level throughout the month. It appeared that most of the stronger seismicity was associated with events at Crater 3. The daily number of explosion earthquakes recorded by the summit station fluctuated between 20 and 70, with the largest totals of 40-70 events on 16, 25, and 30-31 August. Meanwhile, the remote station (9 km distant) recorded 0-29 events/day. Numerous low-amplitude, short-duration, tremor-like signals were produced by weaker explosions. Several periods of harmonic tremor were recorded but the source was not determined."

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 E flank of the extinct Talawe volcano in the Cape Gloucester area of NW New Britain. A rectangular, 2.5-km-long crater is breached widely to the SE; Langila was constructed NE of the breached crater of Talawe. An extensive lava field reaches the coast on the N 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. The youngest and smallest crater (no. 3 crater) was formed in 1960 and has a diameter of 150 m.

Information Contacts: B. Talai, C. McKee, and P. de Saint-Ours, RVO.


Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — August 1991 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)


Carbonatite lava production continues on crater floor

Photographs taken . . . by D., M., and T. Peterson on 25 January showed few changes since late 1990. Lava flows of varying ages were evident on the crater floor, with the youngest (F25) extending N toward the crater wall from a hornito on the N flank of . . . T5/T9 (figure 22). Its dark brown color and clearly defined margins indicated that it may have been active during the Petersons' visit. Light gray-brown lava had spread from a source near vent T11, across the former saddle (M1M2) to the S wall of the crater, covering more than half of the floor of the former southern depression. Lava of similar age also covered much of the N part of the main crater.

M. Peterson returned . . . 29-30 March, and reported 10-15 minutes of lava production during the evening of the 30th from 2 or 3 vents on the N side of T5/T9, very close to the source of the freshest flow photographed on 25 January. A number of flows moved away from the vents, the longest advancing ~50 m. Flow widths averaged 1-2 m and thicknesses varied from 10 to 20 cm. Steam and sulfur fumes were issuing from several sources on the crater rim, walls, and floor. Older flows in the N part of the crater were dominantly pahoehoe but some aa lava was also observed. Flows entering the S depression were blocky and ~2/3 m thick.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. View SE across the crater floor of Ol Doinyo Lengai, 25 January 1991. A recent flow from vent T5/T9 is shown in black. Prepared by C. Nyamweru from a photo taken by the Peterson group.

Little fresh lava was evident on the dominantly pale gray to white crater floor during a visit by Benoit Wangermez on 6 May. A slightly darker flow covered most of the southern depression, showing that lava had advanced S since January from a source slightly NW of T11. Small flows around the base of T5/T9 (active in late March) did not look very young. One new light-colored zone (at M2) appeared to be a vent, currently inactive, that had formed since March.

When T. Peterson arrived at the crater rim on 28 June at about 1000, lava was flowing W from a new vent (T18) W of T5/T9. Activity had subsided 30 minutes later, and the level of lava in the vent had fallen 5 m. Heat was rising from older vents (T5/T9 and T14), while T11 had partially collapsed and looked like a "sulfur cave." Lava flows on the crater floor ranged from dark (fresh) to almost white.

A group led by Luigi Cantamessa climbed to the summit on 12 July. No effusive activity was evident, but black to grayish flows [were] perhaps 1-2 days old . . . . Fumarolic activity occurred from some small hornitos. Many fissures were seen; one extended E-W, parallel to the former saddle dividing the main and southern craters, and cut across the W rim, but was not visible on the volcano's outer flank.

Eruptive activity was very minor . . . on 9 August between 1000 and 1400. Hot, fresh, dark gray natrocarbonatite lava was found near the H6 vent complex (figure 23). Water poured on the lava boiled violently. The extent of other fresh lava flows was similar to that observed 4 days later (see below). A small hornito on the S side of H6 ejected 2-3-mm droplets of spatter. A frozen, but still fresh lava pool ~4 m in diameter was found ~2 m below the average elevation of M1's crater floor (a group of tourists and a local guide reported that vents H6 and M1 had been active 2 days earlier). Vent T5/T9 emitted hot colorless gas, while T11 exhaled SO2. Radial fissures on the W flank of the crater produced almost pure (>95%) CO2, with some SO2. Holes ~0.5-1 m across on the crater's W rim released hot, humid air with no detectable SO2 or CO2. These holes contained a variety of water-loving plants such as moss and algae. Gas compositions were measured with Dräger tubes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Sketch map of the crater floor of Ol Doinyo Lengai, 13 August 1991. Fresh lava is shown in black. Courtesy of Alain Catté.

Lava production from one vent complex was continuing during a summit climb by Alain Catté and others on 13 August. Irregular, weak, but clearly audible explosions occurred from the 4-5-m-high hornito complex H6, ejecting lava fragments horizontally to 10-15 m from two vents (E1 and E2). Weak effusive activity occurred from a site ([E4]) 5 m below the hornito complex. Young, chocolate-brown flows extended from its base in three directions atop older (>48 hours) whitish flows: ~10 m E; ~40 m NE; and > 100 m N, flowing around other small cones. Production of small flows accompanied vent E1's explosions from the initial observations at 0845 until its activity stopped at about 1000.

When clouds cleared at 1030, a very fluid lava flow 40-50 cm wide was emerging from neighboring vent E2. The flow quickly subdivided into many black lobes ~10 cm wide, with a consistency like lubricating oil. Within a few seconds, these formed channeled pahoehoe flows that turned to aa at their distal ends. Lava also formed tubes that carried it >100 m from the source. No lava temperatures were taken, but it was possible to place one's hand a few centimeters from an active flow, and to touch it after ~2 minutes of cooling. A cascade of lava ~10 cm wide began from a third vent (E3) on the hornito complex at about 1145. Vents E2 and E3 erupted simultaneously and showed parallel fluctuations in activity. Later . . . lava outflow from E2 occurred in a jet 2 m long.

At about noon, lava production resumed from the base of the hornito complex (at [E4]) bubbling out in a manner reminiscent of mud pots. It overflowed after ~45 minutes, gradually building a hornito that grew to 1 m height before activity ceased at about 1330. Above [E4], lava effusion from vent E3 stopped at 1230, emerging from a channel 2 m below in a violent, 3-m jet that reached the base of [E4], beginning to fill the area with lava. The outflow rate increased progressively, and lava had advanced 60 m W by the end of observations at about 1400. Lava production from the H6 complex had roughly quadrupled its size since . . . March.

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, St. Lawrence Univ; D. Peterson, M. Peterson, and T. Peterson, Arusha, Tanzania; B. Wangermez, Nairobi, Kenya; L. Cantamessa, Geo-decouverte, Switzerland; P. Vetsch, SVG, Switzerland; T. Dunai, R. Ragettli, K. Schenk-Wenger, and U. Ziegler, ETH Zürich, Switzerland; A. Catté, B. DeMarne, and P. Barois, LAVE.


Lokon-Empung (Indonesia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Lokon-Empung

Indonesia

1.358°N, 124.792°E; summit elev. 1580 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Incandescent tephra cause fires that burn plantations

The press reported that renewed activity on 19 September ejected a plume to ~700 m. Incandescent tephra fell 500 m from the crater, starting fires that burned plantations in seven villages. No casualties were reported. As of the next morning, the eruption was continuing and VSI observers were recording accompanying earthquakes. VSI advised local authorities that residents of nearby villages should remain on alert, but an evacuation was not ordered.

Geologic Background. The twin volcanoes Lokon and Empung, rising about 800 m above the plain of Tondano, are among the most active volcanoes of Sulawesi. Lokon, the higher of the two peaks (whose summits are only 2 km apart), has a flat, craterless top. The morphologically younger Empung volcano to the NE has a 400-m-wide, 150-m-deep crater that erupted last in the 18th century, but all subsequent eruptions have originated from Tompaluan, a 150 x 250 m wide double crater situated in the saddle between the two peaks. Historical eruptions have primarily produced small-to-moderate ash plumes that have occasionally damaged croplands and houses, but lava-dome growth and pyroclastic flows have also occurred. A ridge extending WNW from Lokon includes Tatawiran and Tetempangan peak, 3 km away.

Information Contacts: VSI; UPI.


Malindang (Philippines) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Malindang

Philippines

8.22°N, 123.63°E; summit elev. 2404 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


False report of eruption

Widely distributed reports of increased activity and up to 20,000 evacuees in mid-September proved false. Heavy cloud cover over the volcano and coincidental tectonic earthquakes prompted claims of an imminent eruption. PHIVOLCS scientists found no signs of activity, although they did locate a previously unknown geothermal area on a remote section of the volcano.

Geologic Background. The Pleistocene-to-Holocene Malindang stratovolcano, located on the western margin of Iligan Bay in north-central Mindanao, contains a small summit caldera. Legends record a large eruption from the 2404-m-high, dominantly basaltic-to-andesitic volcano in the past, although no historical eruptions are known (Salise et al., 1991). Reports of increased activity in 1991 at the time of tectonic earthquakes prompted widespread evacuations, but an eruption did not occur, although a previously unknown geothermal area was discovered.

Information Contacts: D. Sussman, Philippine Geothermal, Inc., Manila; Philippine Daily Inquirer and Manila Times, Manila; Reuters.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — August 1991 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)


Occasional ash emission; lava dome

"Main Crater produced weak emissions of white vapour with low ash content on 1, 2, and 3 August. Blue vapour was visible on 8, 11, and 12 August and only white vapour during the last week of the month. There were no audible noises and no night glow was seen.

"The emissions from Southern Crater consisted of tenuous white vapour with occasional grey-brown ash clouds resulting in fine ashfalls on parts of the island. Occasional weak deep roaring and rumbling noises were heard 2-14 August and a weak red glow was observed around the crater mouth on the night of 7 August. An aerial inspection was carried out on 13 August. Southern Crater was partly filled with vapour but Main Crater was clear. The floor of Main Crater was occupied by a solid plug or mound of lava, at a level ~20 m below the lower (NE) part of the crater rim. White mofettes were released by numerous fumaroles around the base and lower walls of the crater. The crater floor was mostly covered by debris from the crater walls, but in the central area, the lava plug was visible over an area ~5 m in diameter, and consisted of steaming lava surrounded by small blocks and scoriae ejected during a stronger degassing phase. During the aerial inspection, emissions from Southern Crater were low-energy, thermally buoyant clouds, released fairly regularly at ~15-minute intervals.

"Seismicity was at a moderate level and tilt measurements showed a deflation of ~1.5 µrad since mid-August."

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 basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks. These 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 observed eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE valley. Frequent 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: B. Talai, C. McKee, and P. de Saint-Ours, RVO.


Marchena (Ecuador) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Marchena

Ecuador

0.33°N, 90.47°W; summit elev. 343 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


First historical eruption

Marchena . . . started erupting on 25 September. The TOMS instrument aboard the Nimbus-7 satellite passed at about 1100 and sensed no SO2, but the next pass, at the same time on 26 September, mapped a 300-km plume to the SW with an SO2 content estimated to be close to 100 kt. High SO2 values immediately over the volcano indicated that the eruption was still vigorous at that time. On the following day the plume was nearly twice as long, but had almost vanished by the same time on 28 September. Weather satellite images during this period showed low cloud cover, but no conclusive indication of the volcanic plume. . . .

Geologic Background. The low shield volcano forming Marchena Island contains one of the largest calderas of the Galápagos Islands. The 6 x 7 km caldera and its outer flanks have been largely buried by a cluster of pyroclastic cones and associated lava flows. Its first historical eruption occurred in 1991. Other young lava flows, some of which may be only a few thousand, or even a few hundred years old, filled the caldera and flowed down its outer forested flanks, in some cases to the sea.

Information Contacts: A. Carrasco, Charles Darwin Research Station; S. Doiron, GSFC; SAB.


Pinatubo (Philippines) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Pinatubo

Philippines

15.13°N, 120.35°E; summit elev. 1486 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Secondary pyroclastic flows feed large ash columns; frequent mudflows; fewer explosions

Activity continued to decline through 15 September, with only three ash/steam emissions since about 25 August. Heavy monsoon rains triggered numerous mudflows and secondary explosions from the 15-16 June pyroclastic-flow deposits. Two large secondary pyroclastic flows occurred, producing associated ash clouds to 15 km height. The press reported continued fatalities from debris/mudflows and disease in evacuation camps, bringing the number of casualties attributed to the eruption to at least 740 by 20 September. Study of the June deposits has resulted in preliminary estimates of 7-11 km3 of material erupted.

5-11 August. Radar at Clark Air Base detected 13 ash/steam emissions rising to 4.5-13.5 km height; plumes were carried NE by the wind. Most RSAM peaks coincided with these emissions. The majority of seismicity was shallow (<=1 km depth), with magnitudes <1. Seven high-frequency earthquakes were felt at Clark Air Base.

12-18 August. Thirteen ash/steam emissions were detected, three with columns >15 km high (maximum 17.5 km). Wind carried the plumes ENE and NE, and ashfall was reported at Clark Air Base on 13 and 16 August. Ejection velocities ranged from about 300-900 m/min, similar to the ejection velocity on 25 June (estimated at about 450 m/min). A large secondary pyroclastic flow occurred sometime on 12-13 August, in the Marunot drainage on the NW flank. The flow was not observed, but satellite imagery was used to identify the deposits and estimate a deposit volume of 31 x 106 m3 (1.25 km2 areal coverage). The flow, ~10 km long, created a headwall scarp about 20 m high along a 240° arc in the primary pyroclastic-flow deposit source region. During aerial observations, the still-steaming secondary deposits could be differentiated from those of earlier pyroclastic flows by the absence of rills and dissected morphology.

Seismic energy release decreased notably from the previous week (figure 19), although the number of earthquakes remained about the same (102 recorded events/day compared to 95/day the week before). Several shocks were felt at Clark Air Base. RSAM peaks reflected high-frequency earthquakes generated by mudflows, and occasional long-period signals associated with ash/steam emissions from the caldera. Geologists suggested that small long-period events may also be related to secondary explosions from pyroclastic-flow deposits.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Accumulated RSAM energy at Pinatubo, 28 July-18 August 1991. Courtesy of PHIVOLCS.

19-25 August. Ash/steam emissions averaging ~9.8 km high (maximum 15 km) were detected eight times during the week. Ash was carried E. Some may have originated from secondary explosions at the E flank (Sacobia valley) pyroclastic-flow deposits. Seismicity consisted mostly of high-frequency earthquakes (M < 1.0) centered below the caldera or ~3 km NW, at 0-18 km depths (figure 20). Four events (M 2-4) were felt at Clark Air Base, with intensities to IV (adapted Rossi-Forel scale). RSAM peaks coincided with the larger high-frequency earthquakes, and long-period events were associated with ash/steam emissions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Epicenters of 648 earthquakes recorded near Pinatubo, 19-25 August 1991. Courtesy of PHIVOLCS.

26 August-1 September. Only two ash/steam emissions were detected; plume heights ranged from about 10 to 16 km. Light ashfall occurred to 40 km SE (San Fernando) during secondary explosions that produced columns to 16 km. Ash related to these events caused poor visibility (300 m) on the highway between San Fernando and Angeles (25 km E of the volcano). The number of felt shocks (M < 4.2) increased to 17, with intensities to V (adapted Rossi-Forel scale). Multiple peaks in RSAM plots were due to mudflows, while single peaks were caused by long-period events associated with the two ash/steam emissions.

2-8 September. One ash/steam emission was detected (2 September), producing a 9-km plume that was carried W (highest portion) and NE (lower portion). Secondary explosions, three of which were recorded as low-amplitude, low-frequency earthquakes, generated ash clouds 2-4.5 km high. Geologists proposed that the heavy ashfall and 15-km-high ash column observed at 1400 on 4 September (figure 21) were from a secondary pyroclastic flow, whose fresh deposits were discovered two days later. The absence of a long-period earthquake coincident with the ash cloud suggested that it had not been generated by caldera explosions. The secondary pyroclastic-flow deposits about 3 km SSW of the caldera (in the upper Marella drainage) were estimated to be 1-2 km wide, and 4-6 km long, with a headwall scarp 15-25 m high. The deposit appeared very recent and seemed water-saturated. It was not known whether the ash cloud was generated purely by convection, or by phreatic explosions resulting from an encounter with water on the river bed. A helicopter overflight of the caldera on 6 September revealed no evidence of activity during the prior several days. Steaming was observed along the margins of the caldera and a bluish lake was present. No evidence of a lava dome was found.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Visible and infrared image from the NOAA 11 polar-orbiting weather satellite on 4 September at about 1445, showing a large, 15-km-high ash cloud above Pinatubo believed to have been generated by a secondary pyroclastic flow. Courtesy of G. Stephens.

Recorded earthquakes averaged 88/day, similar to 89/day the previous week. The majority were of high-frequency, and geologists believed that they were caused by tectonic readjustments. Most of the few low-frequency signals coincided with observed secondary explosions. Seismicity remained shallow (about 38% at less than 2 km depth), centered beneath or NW of the caldera. Long-duration, high-frequency earthquakes corresponding to mudflows created peaks in RSAM plots. A magnitude 5.1 earthquake at 0627 on 5 September, centered ~17 km NNW (15.53°N, 120.31°E) at 10 km depth, was felt at Clark Air Base (intensity RF V).

On 4 September, due to the continued decrease in caldera activity, the volcanic alert was reduced from Level 5 (eruption in progress) to Level 3 (numerous magma-related earthquakes, fumaroles, and gas emission), and the danger zone radius was reduced from 20 to 10 km. The principal remaining hazards and their probable durations were identified (table 4).

Table 4. Principal hazards associated with Pinatubo following the 15-16 June 1991 eruption (as of 4 September 1991). Courtesy of PHIVOLCS.

Number Hazard Description Duration
1 Heavy rains may remobilize large volumes of loose pyroclastic materials on the upper slopes of Pinatubo, generating mudflows that will affect communities near drainage channels and in low-lying downstream areas. 2-5 years...for as long as large volumes of loose sediments on slopes are subjected to heavy rain.
2 Moderate to heavy rainstorms that do not generate mudflows will still transport extraordinarily large volumes of sediments to lowland areas. This sediment will fill up river-channel storage capacity, resulting in more frequent and severe floods in lowland areas. Years to decades.
3 Occasional phreatic explosions at the summit caldera can cause light to moderately heavy ashfall in downwind areas with possible damage to aircraft. Possible plume heights may vary from 5-20 km altitude. Months and possibly years, but probably lessening in intensity, heights attained, and recurrence with time.
4 Groundwater that percolates into the hot interiors of pyroclastic-flow deposits can cause steam explosions. Ejected ash and ballistic fragments can be hazardous to distances of hundreds of meters. Months to a year or more...until the interiors of pyroclastic flow deposits have sufficiently cooled.
5 As overall volcano-related seismicity decreases, earthquakes can still generate ground motions sufficiently strong to damage or destroy weak and/or unstable objects and structures. The distribution of these earthquakes probably will be broad and could cover the entire volcano and peripheral areas. Several months to a year.
6 Thick pyroclastic deposits may locally remobilize as secondary pyroclastic flows and threaten areas as much as 10km downslope. Earthquakes, heavy rainfall, and secondary explosions may serve as triggering factors. Weeks to months, dependng on the presence of metastable materials and the occurrence of triggering factors.

9-15 September. Although no ash/steam emissions were detected, ash clouds 2-10 km high were produced by secondary explosions. Vigorous steam emission was noted from the S side of the caldera, and the blue crater lake was still present during observations on 10 September. The average number of earthquakes decreased to 54 recorded daily, most centered ~2 km NW or 2 km S of the caldera, at <2 km and 5-10 km depths. The majority of events were M <2. RSAM and accumulated energy both showed decreases corresponding to the drop in seismicity. Multiple RSAM peaks coincided with mudflows, while single peaks were caused by moderate-sized earthquakes.

Debris flows. All of Pinatubo's major drainage systems experienced debris flows, ranging from mudflows to hyperconcentrated flows and floods. Numerous flows also occurred in more distant drainages in which significant quantities of tephra were deposited. To help alleviate hazards and to aid in studying debris-flow processes, rain gauges were installed, observation posts were set up at strategic locations along rivers, and cross sections were monitored at bridges. Timely warnings and evacuations considerably reduced the number of injuries and casualties. High rainfall (to > 30 cm/day) and still-hot pyroclastic-flow deposits generated numerous hot mudflows that deposited as much as several meters of material.

On the SE flank's Pasig-Potrero River, pyroclastic-flow deposits had formed a dam behind which a 1,000 x 600 m lake had formed. The lake drained on 7 September, causing muddy flash floods that reached 1.2 m high in about 5-10 minutes at Bacolar (35 km SE of the volcano). Press reports indicated that 800 homes were destroyed and seven people were confirmed dead. By 15 September, continued flooding and mudflows resulted in the deaths of 12 more people at Bacolar, where 45,000 of the 68,000 residents had fled.

News reports placed the death toll from the eruption, mud flows, and disease at more than 740 by 20 September [see also 16:9]. Of the fatalities in evacuation camps, an estimated 95% were Aeta tribesmen and 75% were children. The Aeta reportedly refused most medical assistance such as vaccinations.

Fieldwork on June eruptive products. Preliminary estimates have been calculated for pyroclastic-flow deposits and airfall tephra from the paroxysmal June eruptive activity. The bulk of the material erupted was found in pyroclastic flow deposits (5-7 km3); several drainage systems included more than 1 km3. An estimated 0.48 km3 of airfall tephra was deposited within the 15-cm isopach (table 5); the total volume of tephra-fall material erupted, including that deposited in the South China Sea or lost to the atmosphere, was believed to be between 2 and 4 km3. The total volume, therefore, is estimated as 7-11 km3 (roughly 3-5 km3 dense rock equivalent).

Table 5. Preliminary volume calculations (±10% error) of June 1991 eruptive products from Pinatubo. Total tephra deposit volume: 0.48 km3. Total pyroclastic-flow volume: 7.0 km3. Courtesy of PHIVOLCS.

Deposit Type Location Volume (km3)
Tephra 50 cm isopach 0.07
Tephra 40 cm isopach 0.03
Tephra 30 cm isopach 0.10
Tephra 25 cm isopach 0.01
Tephra 20 cm isopach 0.11
Tephra 15 cm isopach 0.16
 
Pyroclastic-flow O'Donnell drainage 1.0
Pyroclastic-flow Sacobia-Pasig-Abacan drainage 1.6
Pyroclastic-flow Marella drainage 1.3
Pyroclastic-flow Balin-Barquero-Maraunot-Bucao drainage 3.1

Geologic Background. Prior to 1991 Pinatubo volcano was a relatively unknown, heavily forested lava dome complex located 100 km NW of Manila with no records of historical eruptions. The 1991 eruption, one of the world's largest of the 20th century, ejected massive amounts of tephra and produced voluminous pyroclastic flows, forming a small, 2.5-km-wide summit caldera whose floor is now covered by a lake. Caldera formation lowered the height of the summit by more than 300 m. Although the eruption caused hundreds of fatalities and major damage with severe social and economic impact, successful monitoring efforts greatly reduced the number of fatalities. Widespread lahars that redistributed products of the 1991 eruption have continued to cause severe disruption. Previous major eruptive periods, interrupted by lengthy quiescent periods, have produced pyroclastic flows and lahars that were even more extensive than in 1991.

Information Contacts: R. Punongbayan, PHIVOLCS; K. Rodolfo, Pinatubo Lahar Hazards Taskforce, Univ of Illinois; W. Scott, USGS CVO; G. Stephens, NOAA/NESDIS; NEIC; AP; Reuters; UPI.


Poas (Costa Rica) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Poas

Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Crater lake rises, covering fumaroles; low-frequency seismicity

In August, the crater lake grew to cover all crater fumaroles, while fumarolic activity continued at levels considered "normal" for the volcano. The yearly total of recorded microearthquakes (almost all of low frequency) exceeded 32,500 by the end of the month (figure 40), a decrease from 1990.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Monthly number of earthquakes at Poás, January-August 1991. Courtesy of ICE.

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: R. Barquero and G. Soto, ICE; M. Fernández, H. Flores, and S. Paniagua, UCR.


Raung (Indonesia) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Raung

Indonesia

8.119°S, 114.056°E; summit elev. 3260 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Dense plumes

The crew of Qantas flight 41 (Sydney-Jakarta) observed a very dense black plume emerging intermittently from a flank vent on 10 September at 1508. The plume was drifting N at ~6 km altitude, well below the aircraft's altitude of nearly 12 km. A voluminous, dense, mostly white plume with small pulses of ash in its center was observed from a commercial flight two days later.

Geologic Background. Raung, one of Java's most active volcanoes, is a massive stratovolcano in easternmost Java that was constructed SW of the rim of Ijen caldera. The unvegetated summit is truncated by a dramatic steep-walled, 2-km-wide caldera that has been the site of frequent historical eruptions. A prehistoric collapse of Gunung Gadung on the W flank produced a large debris avalanche that traveled 79 km, reaching nearly to the Indian Ocean. Raung contains several centers constructed along a NE-SW line, with Gunung Suket and Gunung Gadung stratovolcanoes being located to the NE and W, respectively.

Information Contacts: ICAO; J. Post, SI.


Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — August 1991 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)


Explosions eject ash and blocks

After reports of strong sulfur odors, geologists visited the summit area on 28-30 August. A sulfurous odor was noted at Copelares on the S flank (1,400 m elevation), during the evening of 28 August. An explosion was heard at 0151 the next morning, followed several seconds later by the sound of falling material. Examination of 29 August records from a seismic station 6 km SW of the crater (RIN3) showed that a small earthquake occurred at 0148:47, then a larger earthquake sequence lasting 7.5 minutes began at 0151:40, coinciding with the first audible explosion. As the ascent continued later that morning, traces of fresh ash were observed beginning at about 1,500 m elevation. Large quantities of ash and blocks, ranging from 15 to 75 cm in diameter, were found deposited in the summit area. Impact craters reached 120 cm in diameter and 35 cm deep.

Bad weather obscured the view of the crater floor, but several explosions were heard, and the largest, at 0930, rained very wet ash on the scientists. Near the crater, the smell of sulfur was very strong, making breathing difficult and stinging the eyes. Nearby vegetation was partially or completely dead. Rain collected at Copelares had a pH of 4.1.

On 30 August, scientists visited Ríos Azul and Pénjamo, which flow down the N flank from the crater area. Both rivers were gray-white with suspended sediment, which was also visible, but in lower concentrations, in the Ríos Colorado and Blanco on the S and SE flanks.

[On 6 September, strong fumarolic activity (jet engine noise) was seen in the active crater. During explosive events of May-August 1991 the ejecta was mainly composed of gray mud (sulfide-rich), lithics, and bread-crust bombs (~10% by volume).]

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 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 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 3,500 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: J. Barquero and E. Fernández, OVSICORI; R. Barquero and G. Soto, ICE; Mario Fernández, Héctor Flores, and Sergio Paniagua, Univ. de Costa Rica.


Ruapehu (New Zealand) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Ruapehu

New Zealand

39.28°S, 175.57°E; summit elev. 2797 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lake temperature rises; possible minor eruptions

A brief period of strong heating in Crater Lake was accompanied by small volcanic earthquakes and possibly by minor eruptions. Continuously recorded lake temperature data showed a gradual decline to 16°C by mid-June, then little change until a sharp increase began about 1 July. Temperatures reached 24.4°C on the 18th before declining again to 13° by late August. A series of small volcanic earthquakes occurred 5-14 July, none exceeding M 1.8.

Severe winter weather limited observations near the time of the increased activity, although the lake appeared normal on 11 July. When briefly observed on 12 August, evidence of 1-2 m of surging was visible under fresh (about 10 August) snow around the lake margin. More detailed observations during fieldwork 27 and 29 August revealed dirty, ash-covered ice under fresh snow 1-2 m above lake level, and widening of the lake's outlet channel by previous strong outflow or surging. No clear patterns were evident in summit-area deformation data.

Geologic Background. Ruapehu, one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes, is a complex stratovolcano constructed during at least four cone-building episodes dating back to about 200,000 years ago. The dominantly andesitic 110 km3 volcanic massif is elongated in a NNE-SSW direction and surrounded by another 100 km3 ring plain of volcaniclastic debris, including the Murimoto debris-avalanche deposit on the NW flank. A series of subplinian eruptions took place between about 22,600 and 10,000 years ago, but pyroclastic flows have been infrequent. A single historically active vent, Crater Lake (Te Wai a-moe), is located in the broad summit region, but at least five other vents on the summit and flank have been active during the Holocene. Frequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have occurred in historical time from the Crater Lake vent, and tephra characteristics suggest that the crater lake may have formed as early as 3,000 years ago. Lahars produced by phreatic eruptions from the summit crater lake are a hazard to a ski area on the upper flanks and to lower river valleys.

Information Contacts: P. Otway, DSIR Wairakei.


Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — August 1991 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)


Seismicity, deformation, and gas emission remain unchanged

Seismicity remained at low levels in August, with earthquakes mainly W and N of the crater at 0-5 km depths. Tremor episodes were brief and of low energy. Deformation showed no significant changes. The monthly average SO2 flux was 1,135 t/d, similar to July.

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) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Santa Maria

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued explosions and block lava production

During a brief visit on 11 September, vertical explosions occurred hourly, producing plumes to about 1200 m height. The block lava flow erupting from the E summit of Caliente continued to flow down to the Río Nima II.

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: W.I. Rose, Michigan Technological Univ.


Stromboli (Italy) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued moderate explosive activity; gas data

Explosive activity was restricted to crater C1 (NE part of the summit area; figure 17) during 9 August fieldwork (by F. Iacop, Institute of Earth Sciences, Univ of Udine). C1's central cone ejected hot tephra at ~20-minute intervals, and as a result, it had grown more rapidly than the crater's other two active cones. Glow from two small radial fissures in crater C2 was clearly visible at night. Sustained noisy gas emissions occurred about once an hour. Volcano guides had reported that activity was concentrated in crater C3 (SW part of the summit area), but at its cone 1 only hot vapor emission was occurring, from two vents, on 9 August. Rare explosions, mostly ejecting tephra, took place at bocca 4. The average number of recorded earthquakes remained near the normal value of 6/hour in July, declining below that level in the month's last week (figure 18). Average tremor amplitude also remained relatively constant through the end of July, while large shocks nearly disappeared after a peak on 29 June (figure 19). [see 16:09 for 28-29 August observations].

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Active craters at Stromboli as seen from the somma, 6 September 1991. Crosses mark small vents active during the 6 September fieldwork. Courtesy of the Société Volcanologique Européenne.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Average number of explosion events/hour at Stromboli, 22 June-31 July 1991. The mean value for the period is shown. Courtesy of M. Riuscetti.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Number of seismometer-saturating events/day (lower curve) and average daily tremor amplitude (upper curve) at Stromboli, 22 June-31 July 1991. Courtesy of M. Riuscetti.

Moderate activity was observed in early September, with explosive episodes about every 15 minutes at crater C3 and roughly hourly at C1. Activity increased in the 3 hours of observations after 2300 on 6 September, with many moderate to strong explosions from the SW part of C3. Ejections of incandescent bombs and scoria sometimes lasted several minutes. Thick white vapor plumes rose from C2 and a small cone in its center, while blue SO2-rich plumes emerged from several other vents. Explosions from C1 were vigorous, ejecting glowing fragments and dark brown columns that rose 200 m above the crater. C3's smaller explosive bursts, consisting of tephra-poor incandescent gas jets, were usually preceded by comparatively brief periods of increasing, noisy gas puffs; larger explosions that ejected a higher proportion of tephra followed longer intervals, with fewer or no precursory gas puffs. Geologists attributed this pattern to intermittent closure (by cooling) of the lava-filled conduits to gas-bubble rise from the underlying magma body, allowing higher pressure to build at depth.

Airborne COSPEC measurements by an Italian-French cooperative program in May-July indicated a total SO2 flux somewhat lower than that measured by the same means in 1980 and 1984 (1,000 ± 200 t/d average; Allard and others, in press), consistent with the current moderate activity. Geologists concluded that combined with microprobe determination of the initial and residual sulfur content of Stromboli's lava, the SO2 flux data require the degassing of 0.1 km3/year (average) of magma, three orders of magnitude more than the co-erupted volume. Thus, gas output is essentially derived from magma stored within the volcano. To assess the amount of diffuse magmatic degassing through the volcanic pile, other than from the craters, infrared mass spectrometric profiling of CO2 concentrations in the ground began on 11 September. High CO2 levels (80-90%), associated with subsurface thermal anomalies, were found to characterize the Pizzo sopra La Fossa crater terrace (at the summit rim, SE of the active craters). Concentrations gradually decreased toward the rim of this former crater, and no CO2 anomaly was detected in outer areas to the S (down to the Vancori rampart).

Reference. Allard, P., Carbonelle, J., Le Bronec, J., Metrich, N., and Zetwoog, P., Volatile flux and magma degassing budget at Stromboli volcano: Geophysical Research Letters, in review.

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: M. Riuscetti, Univ di Udine; Patrick Allard, CNRS-CEA, France; J.C. Baubron, BRGM, France; H. Gaudru and Rolf Haubrichs, SVE, Switzerland; Yvonne Miller, Univ de Genève, Switzerland.


Unzendake (Japan) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Unzendake

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued lava dome extrusion and pyroclastic flows

Lava extrusion continued at Jigoku-ato crater through mid-September, generating destructive pyroclastic flows that advanced down two valleys. More than 12,000 people remained evacuated and no new casualties were reported.

A summit seismic swarm that began 11 August peaked 12-13 August (figure 29), then gradually declined through the 19th. Incandescent block ejection was seen between 0000 and 0200 on 12 August, followed by continuous ash emission through the day. The number of seismically detected pyroclastic flows from the lava dome decreased suddenly to a few events daily on 12 August. A new lava dome, first recognized from the air on 13 August, emerged W of the former dome, and began to produce pyroclastic flows on 25 August. Pyroclastic flows had previously traveled down the Mizunashi River valley but those from the new dome (C dome; see below) moved ENE down the Oshigatani Valley, which extends N of and parallel to the Mizunashi, then joins it several kilometers downstream. Some of the larger pyroclastic flows from the new dome advanced 3 km down the Oshigatani valley from late August through mid-September, and pyroclastic surges burned vegetation. The mayor of Shimabara city ordered the evacuation of about 500 people from an area (Senbongi) 3.5 km NE of the dome on 31 August. Frequent pyroclastic flows during the afternoon of 3 September included one of about 1 x 105 m3 volume that advanced down the Oshigatani Valley at 1611. The accompanying cloud rose about 1,500 m and ash fell to the N part of Shimabara city. Ashfalls from pyroclastic flow elutriation clouds disrupted traffic around Shimabara city throughout the following day; the cloud from a flow at 1311 was 2,500 m high.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Daily numbers of earthquakes (top), tremor episodes (middle), and pyroclastic-flow events (bottom) recorded at Unzen, 1 May-20 September 1991. Courtesy of JMA.

Another seismic swarm began beneath the crater on 6 September, and a pyroclastic flow that evening at 2121 advanced about 3.5 km down the Oshigatani Valley. Hypocenters and seismic wave characteristics were similar to those of mid-August, although the September swarm was more vigorous.

By 12 September, the lava dome had broken into numerous small blocks. Seismic activity declined through 14 September but increased again on the 15th. Seismometers near the summit began to record larger pyroclastic flows, with longer durations than any since 8 June, on 15 September at 1644 (150 seconds) followed by others at 1759 (120 seconds), 1842 (360 seconds), and the largest at 1854 (670 seconds). The latter moved down the Oshigatani valley, entered the Mizunashi valley, and continued to within 500 m of highway 57, a total of 5.5 km. The main body of the pyroclastic flow turned east into the Mizunashi valley, where it damaged 50 houses in Shimabara city, but the pyroclastic surge continued about 800 m southward, destroying 26 houses and 74 other buildings including those of a primary school (in Onokoba district, Fukae town). All of the affected area had previously been evacuated, so there were no casualties. The largest pyroclastic flow was associated with the collapse of a section of the new lava dome about 250 m wide, 300 m long, and 50 m thick, a volume exceeding 3 x 106 m3. This is about 20% of the total volume of lava domes erupted to date, and 3 times the volume of material removed by the 8 June pyroclastic flow. Two days later, a new lobe had grown to 100 x 200 m and 30 m high (0.3 x 106 m3/day), about twice the June-August extrusion rate (see below).

A total of 292 pyroclastic-flow events was recorded in August, down from 326 in July, but the more frequent episodes toward mid-September raised that month's total to 310 as of the 17th. September earthquake counts had reached 2075 through the 17th, up from 559 in August and 133 in July.

The following, from Setsuya Nakada, describes eruption products through early September.

The size and frequency of pyroclastic flows had decreased until July, and travel distances were almost always <2 km. However, collapse episodes from the E lava dome remained frequent and lava blocks had filled the narrow headwaters of the Mizunashi River, along which the 3 and 8 June pyroclastic flows had descended. As a result, cliffs along the valley disappeared, and valley-fill deposits (talus) became thick enough to act as a cushion to soften the shock of falling blocks. The E dome flowed southeastward on the valley-fill deposits. After the end of June, the horseshoe-shaped depression had filled with dome materials, and lava blocks began to fall northeastward onto the floor of Myoken caldera (figure 30). They filled the E end of the floor with talus, which overflowed the caldera rim at the end of July. Lava blocks then fell down the E and NE flanks as pyroclastic flows and their paths widened northeastward. Some reached the N bank of the Mizunashi River. The E margin of the E dome widened; because the NE slope under the dome was steeper than the SE slope, the northern half of the E dome migrated northeastward, while the southern half did not move and solidified. By the middle of August, the caldera rim NE of the dome had been eroded away by the falling lava blocks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Sketch map of Unzen's lava dome, 8 September 1991. Courtesy of Setsuya Nakada.

At the beginning of August, the ash-laden plume from the small vent at the northern base of the remnant W dome became stronger, and new lava was extruded on the western part of the E dome. On 5 August, many bubbles were observed coming from an old water-filled crater near the W dome. The small explosions that took place from the W dome on 12 August (see above) enlarged the vent to 20 m across and built a tuff cone around it. The E dome temporarily thickened for a few days prior to the new lava extrusion; the western part of the E dome, just above the former Jigoku-ato Crater, had swelled vertically. By the time new lava appeared 13 August, magma supply into the E dome had stopped, since the E dome did not lengthen and the surface of the dome did not move eastward (figure 31). It was difficult to accurately estimate the change in magma supply rate; talus and pyroclastic flows were deposited over an extensive area with irregular topography, which causes difficulties in calculating volumes of talus plus pyroclastic deposits.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Tracings of photographs from a fixed point about 4.4 km from Unzen's E lava dome, illustrating its growth 10 July-20 August 1991. Courtesy of Setsuya Nakada.

At the end of August, the new dome (central, or C dome) was 375 m long, 275 m wide, and 60-80 m high. The C dome grew eastward and northeastward, keeping a constant thickness. It covered the E dome and talus, plus a part of the old volcanic edifice, which was bulldozed by the growing dome from the former crater wall to the caldera rim. Talus also formed on the E dome. At the end of August, the volume of C dome was about 4 x 106 m3 and the total volume of the domes was about 12 x 106 m3. The resulting dome growth rate is about 0.15 x 106 m3/day for 8 June-28 August.

Lava blocks fell down the E and NE margins of C dome into the Oshigatani Valley, forming pyroclastic flows beginning 25 August. The upstream area of the valley was the source area for lahars on 30 June. The pyroclastic flows traveled a maximum distance of 3 km from the dome, and had associated ash-cloud surge and seared zones like those of 3 and 8 June (figure 32). Flows moving down the Oshigatani Valley changed course southeastward when they encountered a high point dividing the valley and a residential area. Ash-cloud surges climbed the barrier, burning or searing trees, but block-and-ash flows did not. The devastated area was widest for pyroclastic flows that took place within the first week. By mid-September, Oshigatani Valley had been almost filled by pyroclastic-flow deposits.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Map showing the distribution of pyroclastic flows from Unzen as of 9 September 1991. Deposits from lahars, which occurred mainly on 30 June, are omitted. Courtesy of Setsuya Nakada.

Average speeds of pyroclastic flows were estimated using travel distances observed by Ground Self-Defense Force radar and durations of tremor signals. The higher the average speed of a pyroclastic flow, the longer its travel distance: about 100 km/hour for flows reaching 3 km distance and 50 km/hour for flows 1 km long. The average speed of a pyroclastic flow at the end of August was estimated at 93 km/hour using the time lag between the start of the tremor signal and the time when the seismometer was broken by the flow.

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; S. Nakada, Kyushu Univ; M. Takahashi, SI; Yomiuri Shinbun, Tokyo.


Villarrica (Chile) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Villarrica

Chile

39.42°S, 71.93°W; summit elev. 2847 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak explosions

An increase in fumarolic activity and weak explosions were observed in the crater during August-September. On 26 August, water in a nearby river (Río Carmelito) was cloudy and the river level abnormally high. Four days later, on 30 August, small ash emissions and continuous explosions were observed from 1430 to 1500, followed by a strong explosion at 1506. A weak emission of gray ash and a white gas plume 1 km high were observed on 17 September. Seismicity was at normal levels for the volcano.

Geologic Background. Glacier-clad Villarrica, one of Chile's most active volcanoes, rises above the lake and town of the same name. It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain. A 6-km-wide caldera formed during the late Pleistocene. A 2-km-wide caldera that formed about 3500 years ago is located at the base of the presently active, dominantly basaltic to basaltic-andesitic cone at the NW margin of the Pleistocene caldera. More than 30 scoria cones and fissure vents dot the flanks. Plinian eruptions and pyroclastic flows that have extended up to 20 km from the volcano were produced during the Holocene. Lava flows up to 18 km long have issued from summit and flank vents. Historical eruptions, documented since 1558, have consisted largely of mild-to-moderate explosive activity with occasional lava effusion. Glaciers cover 40 km2 of the volcano, and lahars have damaged towns on its flanks.

Information Contacts: G. Fuentealba and P. Riffo, Univ de la Frontera.


Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) — August 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Whakaari/White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Tephra emission; shock waves in crater

Emission of gas/tephra columns from May 91 vent continued through August. During early-August helicopter overflights, R. Fleming noted flashes and strong low-frequency detonations as a hot, dilute eruption column rose from the vent. Crumbly white lithic blocks and lapilli with rare juvenile scoriae had been deposited nearby. Larger-than-normal plumes were often visible from the North Island coast, roughly 50 km away.

During fieldwork 28-29 August, a convoluting pink-brown column was emitted from May 91 vent. It contained very little ash and no evident incandescent material. Visible shock waves emerged from the vent every few seconds as "flashing arcs," lighting clouds above with a flickering glow like that from a poorly-functioning fluorescent tube. The strongest shock waves were manifested as an instantaneous displacement of the plume at the vent, and could be felt 150 m away. Some could be seen to bounce off the crater walls and travel back through the clouds. The shock waves did not seem to affect the rate of plume emission. The activity was accompanied by dull booming and sloshing noises, and occasional sharp detonations. The sloshing sounds were much like those heard in 1988 at Yasur (Vanuatu), where large gas bubbles were bursting through the surface of an active lava lake. Geologists noted that the activity at May 91 vent was consistent with similar gas-bubble discharge through a liquid magma column.

About 200 mm of coarse and fine ash had been deposited just N of May 91 vent since the previous fieldwork on 27 May. Little new ash was evident elsewhere on the main crater floor, but small (< 0.3 m) lithic blocks and their impact craters were found >200 m SE of the vent and to its W. Scarce, widely scattered scoria bombs, most 0.1-0.2 m across but some reaching 0.3 m, were found on top of the May ash, with only a light ash coating. The bombs seemed most abundant a few hundred meters SE-NE of the vent. They had highly vesiculated interiors of black glass with large pyroxene and plagioclase phenocrysts. Internal vesicles were up to 30 mm across, but decreased rapidly to sub-millimeter size toward the surface.

The pattern of deformation between late May and late August was similar to that of the previous 3 months. Strong subsidence at roughly double the previous rate continued to be centered SE of May 91 vent, while relative inflation persisted ~200 m farther SE. A new zone of inflation was measured E of Noisy Nellie fumarole (NE of May 91 vent). Minor deformation associated with activity at May 91 vent is unlikely to be detected, as the nearest part of the levelling network is 100 m away. Most fumarole temperatures had changed little since May, although values at Noisy Nellie had increased from 240 to 411°C.

The volcano had remained seismically quiet until mid-June, when B-type events became more common, continuing at rates of 2-7/day through the end of the month. Very weak volcanic tremor was sometimes visible on seismic records. A sequence of >45 tectonic earthquakes (to ML 3.7) occurred near White Island 1-2 July. A- and B-type events increased markedly on 7 July, accompanied by a small increase in background volcanic tremor amplitude. E-type eruption earthquakes were recorded on 1, 7, and 11 July. Seismicity had declined by 15 July, but a 3-day swarm of >200 A-type events began on 20 July. Significant volcanic tremor also resumed and continued through mid-August, increasing again 21-28 August. Tremor varied from a nearly pure 1.8 Hz signal to a complex pattern with spectral peaks to 8 Hz. A-type events did not occur daily in August, but often numbered 8-10/day. B-type events were very rare after 24 July. E-type eruption shocks were recorded on 14, 15, 19, 20, 23, 27, 29, and 30 August.

Geologic Background. The uninhabited Whakaari/White Island is the 2 x 2.4 km emergent summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 50 km offshore of North Island. The island consists of two overlapping andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcanoes. The SE side of the crater is open at sea level, with the recent activity centered about 1 km from the shore close to the rear crater wall. Volckner Rocks, sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NW. Descriptions of volcanism since 1826 have included intermittent moderate phreatic, phreatomagmatic, and Strombolian eruptions; activity there also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. The formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries caused rapid changes in crater floor topography. Collapse of the crater wall in 1914 produced a debris avalanche that buried buildings and workers at a sulfur-mining project. Explosive activity in December 2019 took place while tourists were present, resulting in many fatalities. The official government name Whakaari/White Island is a combination of the full Maori name of Te Puia o Whakaari ("The Dramatic Volcano") and White Island (referencing the constant steam plume) given by Captain James Cook in 1769.

Information Contacts: B. Houghton, I. Nairn, and B. Scott, DSIR Geology & Geophysics, Rotorua.

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  Obituaries

Misc 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 subject.

Additional Reports  False Reports