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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

Pacaya (Guatemala) Strombolian explosions, multiple lava flows, and the formation of a small cone during February-July 2020

Sangeang Api (Indonesia) Two ash plumes and small thermal anomalies during February-June 2020

Stromboli (Italy) Strombolian explosions persist at both summit craters during January-April 2020

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) Lava dome confirmed inside Arenas crater; intermittent thermal anomalies and ash emissions, January-June 2020

Asosan (Japan) Daily ash emissions continue through mid-June 2020 when activity decreases

Aira (Japan) Near-daily explosions with ash plumes continue, large block ejected 3 km from Minamidake crater on 4 June 2020

Nevados de Chillan (Chile) Explosions and pyroclastic flows continue; new dome emerges from Nicanor crater in June 2020

Kerinci (Indonesia) Intermittent ash emissions during January-early May 2020

Tinakula (Solomon Islands) Intermittent small thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam plumes during January-June 2020

Ibu (Indonesia) Frequent ash emissions and summit incandescence; Strombolian explosions in March 2020

Suwanosejima (Japan) Frequent explosions, ash plumes, and summit incandescence in January-June 2020

Bagana (Papua New Guinea) Ash plumes during 29 February-2 March and 1 May 2020



Pacaya (Guatemala) — August 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strombolian explosions, multiple lava flows, and the formation of a small cone during February-July 2020

Pacaya, located in Guatemala, is a highly active volcano that has previously produced continuous Strombolian explosions, multiple lava flows, and the formation of a small cone within the crater due to the constant deposition of ejected material (BGVN 45:02). This reporting period updates information from February through July 2020 consisting of similar activity that dominantly originates from the Mackenney crater. Information primarily comes from reports by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH) in Guatemala and various satellite data.

Strombolian explosions were recorded consistently throughout this reporting period. During February 2020, explosions ejected incandescent material 100 m above the Mackenney crater. At night and during the early morning the explosions were accompanied by incandescence from lava flows. Multiple lava flows were active during most of February, traveling primarily down the SW and NW flanks and reaching 500 m on 25 February. On 5 February the lava flow on the SW flank divided into three flows measuring 200, 150, and 100 m. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam emissions rose up to 2.7 km altitude on 11 and 14 February and drifted in multiple directions. On 16 February Matthew Watson utilized UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) to take detailed, close up photos of Pacaya and report that there were five active vents at the summit exhibiting lava flows from the summit, gas-and-steam emissions, and small Strombolian explosions (figure 122).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 122. Drone image of active summit vents at Pacaya on 16 February 2020 with incandescence and white gas-and-steam emissions. Courtesy of Matthew Watson, University of Bristol, posted on 17 February 2020.

Activity remained consistent during March with Strombolian explosions ejecting material 100 m above the crater accompanied by occasional incandescence and white and occasionally blue gas-and-steam emissions drifting in multiple directions. Multiple lava flows were detected on the NW and W flanks reaching as far as 400 m on 9-10 March.

In April, frequent Strombolian explosions were accompanied by active lava flows moving dominantly down the SW flank and white gas-and-steam emissions. These repeated explosions ejected material up to 100 m above the crater and then deposited it within the Mackenney crater, forming a small cone. On 27 April seismicity increased at 2140 due to a lava flow moving SW as far as 400 m (figure 123); there were also six strong explosions and a fissure opened on the NW flank in front of the Los Llanos Village, allowing gas-and-steam to rise.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 123. Infrared image of Pacaya on 28 April 2020, showing a lava flow approximately 500 m long and moving down the S flank on the day after seismicity increased and six strong explosions were detected. Courtesy of ISIVUMEH (Reporte Volcán de Pacaya July 2020).

During May, Strombolian explosions continued to eject incandescent material up to 100 m above the Mackenney crater, accompanied by active lava flows on 1-2, 17-18, 22, 25-26, and 29-30 May down the SE, SW, NW, and NE flanks up to 700 m on 30 May. White gas-and-steam emissions continued to be observed up to 100 m above the crater drifting in multiple directions. Between the end of May and mid-June, the plateau between the Mackenney cone and the Cerro Chiquito had become inundated with lava flows (figure 124).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 124. Aerial views of the lava flows at Pacaya to the NW during a) 18 September 2019 and b) 16 June 2020 showing the lava flow advancement toward the Cerro Chiquito. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Volcán de Pacaya July 2020).

Lava flows extended 700 m on 8 June down multiple flanks. On 9 June, a lava flow traveled N and NW 500 m and originating from a vent on the N flank about 100 m below the Mackenney crater. Active lava flows continued to originate from this vent through at least 19 June while white gas-and-steam emissions were observed rising 300 m above the crater. At night and during the early mornings of 24 and 29 June Strombolian explosions were observed ejecting incandescent material up to 200 m above the crater (figure 125). These explosions continued to destroy and then rebuild the small cone within the Mackenney crater with fresh ejecta. Active lava flows on the SW flank were mostly 100-600 m long but had advanced to 2 km by 30 June.

On 10 July a 1.2 km lava flow divided in two which moved on the NE and N flanks. On 11 July, another 800 m lava flow divided in two, on the N and NE flanks (figure 126). On 14 and 19 July, INSIVUMEH registered constant seismic tremors and stated they were associated with the lava flows. No active lava flows were observed on 18-19 July, though some may have continued to advance on the SW, NW, N, and NE flanks. On 20 July, lava emerged from a vent at the NW base of the Mackenney cone near Cerro Chino, extending SE. Strombolian explosions ejected incandescent material up to 200 m above the crater on 22 July, accompanied by active incandescent lava flows on the SW, N, NW, NE, and W flanks. Three lava flows on the NW flank were observed on 22-24 July originating from the base of the Mackenney cone. Explosive activity during 22 July vibrated the windows and roofs of the houses in the villages of San Francisco de Sales, El Patrocinio, El Rodeo, and others located 4 km from the volcano. The lava flow activity had decreased by 25 July, but remnants of the lava flow on the NW flank persisted with weak incandescence observed at night, which was no longer observed by 26 July. Strombolian explosions continued to be detected through the rest of the month, accompanied by frequent white gas-and-steam emissions that extended up to 2 km from the volcano; no active lava flows were observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 125. Photos of Pacaya on 11 July 2020 showing Strombolian explosions and lava flows moving down the N and NE flanks. Courtesy of William Chigna, CONRED, posted on 12 July 2020.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 126. Infrared image of Pacaya on 20 July 2020 showing a hot lava flow accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (BEPAC 47 Julio 2020-22).

During February through July 2020, multiple lava flows and thermal anomalies within the Mackenney crater were detected in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (figure 127). These lava flows were observed moving down multiple flanks and were occasionally accompanied by white gas-and-steam emissions. Thermal anomalies were also recorded by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system during 10 August through July 2020 within 5 km of the crater summit (figure 128). There were a few breaks in thermal activity from early to mid-March, late April, early May, and early June; however, each of these gaps were followed by a pulse of strong and frequent thermal anomalies. According to the MODVOLC algorithm, 77 thermal alerts were recorded within the summit crater during February through July 2020.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 127. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya showing thermal activity (bright yellow-orange) primarily as lava flows originating from the summit crater during February to July 2020 frequently accompanied by white gas-and-steam emissions. All images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 128. The MIROVA thermal activity graph (Log Radiative Power) at Pacaya during 10 August to July 2020 shows strong, frequent thermal anomalies through late July with brief gaps in activity during early to mid-March, late April, early May, and early June. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. Eruptions from Pacaya, one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes, are frequently visible from Guatemala City, the nation's capital. This complex basaltic volcano was constructed just outside the southern topographic rim of the 14 x 16 km Pleistocene Amatitlán caldera. A cluster of dacitic lava domes occupies the southern caldera floor. The post-caldera Pacaya massif includes the ancestral Pacaya Viejo and Cerro Grande stratovolcanoes and the currently active Mackenney stratovolcano. Collapse of Pacaya Viejo between 600 and 1500 years ago produced a debris-avalanche deposit that extends 25 km onto the Pacific coastal plain and left an arcuate somma rim inside which the modern Pacaya volcano (Mackenney cone) grew. A subsidiary crater, Cerro Chino, was constructed on the NW somma rim and was last active in the 19th century. During the past several decades, activity has consisted of frequent strombolian eruptions with intermittent lava flow extrusion that has partially filled in the caldera moat and armored the flanks of Mackenney cone, punctuated by occasional larger explosive eruptions that partially destroy the summit of the growing young stratovolcano.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); 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); Matthew Watson, School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol (Twitter: @Matthew__Watson, https://twitter.com/Matthew__Watson); William Chigna, CONRED (URL: https://twitter.com/william_chigna).


Sangeang Api (Indonesia) — August 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Sangeang Api

Indonesia

8.2°S, 119.07°E; summit elev. 1912 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Two ash plumes and small thermal anomalies during February-June 2020

Sangeang Api is a 13-km-wide island located off the NE coast of Sumbawa Island, part of Indonesia's Lesser Sunda Islands. Documentation of historical eruptions date back to 1512. The most recent eruptive episode began in July 2017 and included frequent Strombolian explosions, ash plumes, and block avalanches. The previous report (BGVN 45:02) described activity consisting of a new lava flow originating from the active Doro Api summit crater, short-lived explosions, and ash-and-gas emissions. This report updates information during February through July 2020 using information from the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reports, Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, or CVGHM) reports, and various satellite data.

Volcanism during this reporting period was relatively low compared to the previous reports (BGVN 44:05 and BGVN 45:02). A Darwin VAAC notice reported an ash plume rose 2.1 km altitude and drifted E on 10 May 2020. Another ash plume rose to a maximum of 3 km altitude drifting NE on 10 June, as seen in HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery.

The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data detected a total of 12 low power thermal anomalies within 5 km from the summit during February through May 2020 (figure 42). No thermal anomalies were recorded during June and July according to the MIROVA graph. Though the MODVOLC algorithm did not detect any thermal signatures between February to July, many small thermal hotspots within the summit crater could be seen in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (figure 43).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Thermal anomalies at Sangeang Api from 10 August 2019 through July 2020 recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were infrequent and low power during February through May 2020. No thermal anomalies were detected during June and July. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery using “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering showed small thermal hotspots (orange-yellow) at the summit of Sangeang Api during February through June 2020. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Sangeang Api volcano, one of the most active in the Lesser Sunda Islands, forms a small 13-km-wide island off the NE coast of Sumbawa Island. Two large trachybasaltic-to-tranchyandesitic volcanic cones, Doro Api and Doro Mantoi, were constructed in the center and on the eastern rim, respectively, of an older, largely obscured caldera. Flank vents occur on the south side of Doro Mantoi and near the northern coast. Intermittent historical eruptions have been recorded since 1512, most of them during in the 20th century.

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


Stromboli (Italy) — August 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strombolian explosions persist at both summit craters during January-April 2020

Stromboli is a stratovolcano located in the northeastern-most part of the Aeolian Islands composed of two active summit vents: the Northern (N) Crater and the Central-South (CS) Crater that are situated at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a large scarp that runs from the summit down the NW side of the volcano. The ongoing eruption began in 1934 and has been characterized by regular Strombolian explosions in both summit craters, ash plumes, and occasional lava flows (BGVN 45:08). This report updates activity from January to April 2020 with information primarily from daily and weekly reports by Italy's Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) and various satellite data.

Activity was consistent during this reporting period. Explosion rates ranged from 1-20 per hour and were of variable intensity, producing material that rose from less than 80 to over 250 m above the vents (table 8). Strombolian explosions were often accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions, spattering, and lava flows which has resulted in fallout deposited on the Sciara del Fuoco and incandescent blocks rolling toward the coast up to a few hundred meters down the slopes of the volcano. According to INGV, the average SO2 emissions measured 300-650 tons/day.

Table 8. Summary of activity at Stromboli during January-April 2020. Low-intensity activity indicates ejecta rising less than 80 m, medium-intensity is ejecta rising less than 150 m, and high-intensity is ejecta rising over 200 m above the vent. Data courtesy of INGV.

Month Activity
Jan 2020 Strombolian activity and degassing continued with some spattering. Explosion rates varied from 2-20 per hour. Ejected material rose 80-150 m above the N crater and 150-200 m above the CS crater. A small cone is growing on the S1 crater and has produced some explosions and ejected coarse material mixed with fine ash. The average SO2 emissions measured 300 tons/day.
Feb 2020 Strombolian activity and degassing continued. Explosion rates varied from 2-14 per hour. Ejected material rose 80-200 m above the N crater and 80-250 m above the CS crater. The average SO2 emissions measured 300 tons/day.
Mar 2020 Strombolian activity and degassing continued with discontinuous spattering. Explosion rates varied from 1-16 per hour. Ejected material rose 80-150 m above the N crater and 150-250 m above the CS crater. Intense spattering was observed in the N crater. The average SO2 emissions measured 300-650 tons/day.
Apr 2020 Strombolian activity and degassing continued with spattering. Explosion rates varied from 1-17 per hour. Ejected material rose 80-150 m above the N crater and 150-250 m above the CS crater. Spattering was observed in the N crater. The average SO2 emissions measured 300-650 tons/day.

During January 2020, explosive activity mainly originated from three vents in the N crater and at least three vents in the CS crater. Ejecta from numerous Strombolian explosions covered the slopes on the upper Sciara del Fuoco, some of which rolled hundreds of meters down toward the coast. Explosion rates varied from 2-12 per hour in the N crater and 9-14 per hour in the CS crater; ejected material rose 80-200 m above the craters. According to INGV, a small cone growing in the S1 crater produced some explosions that ejected coarse material mixed with fine ash. On 18 and 19 January a lava flow was observed, both of which originated in the N crater. In addition, two explosions were detected in the N crater that was associated with two landslide events.

Explosive activity in February primarily originated from 2-3 eruptive vents in the N crater and at least three vents in the CS crater (figure 177). The Strombolian explosions ejected material 80-250 m above the craters, some of which fell onto the upper part of the Sciara. Explosion rates varied from 3-12 per hour in the N crater and 2-14 per hour in the CS crater (figure 178). On 3 February a short-lived lava flow was reported in the N crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 177. A drone image showed spattering accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions at Stromboli rising above the N crater on 15 February 2020. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. No. 08/2020, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 10/02/2020 - 16/02/2020, data emissione 18/02/2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 178. a) Strombolian explosions during the week of 17-23 February 2020 in the N1 crater of Stromboli were seen from Pizzo Sopra La Fossa. b) Spattering at Stromboli accompanied by white gas-and-steam emissions was detected in the N1 and S2 craters during the week of 17-23 February 2020. c) Spattering at Stromboli accompanied by a dense ash plume was seen in the N1 and S2 craters during the week of 17-23 February 2020. All photos by F. Ciancitto, courtesy of INGV (Rep. No. 09/2020, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 17/02/2020 - 23/02/2020, data emissione 25/02/2020).

Ongoing explosive activity continued into March, originating from three eruptive vents in the N crater and at least three vents in the CS crater. Ejected lapilli and bombs rose 80-250 m above the craters resulting in fallout covering the slopes in the upper Sciara del Fuoco with blocks rolling down the slopes toward the coast and explosions varied from 4-13 per hour in the N crater and 1-16 per hour in the CS crater. Discontinuous spattering was observed during 9-19 March. On 19 March, intense spattering was observed in the N crater, which produced a lava flow that stretched along the upper part of the Sciara for a few hundred meters. Another lava flow was detected in the N crater on 28 March for about 4 hours into 29 March, which resulted in incandescent blocks breaking off the front of the flow and rolling down the slope of the volcano. On 30 March a lava flow originated from the N crater and remained active until the next day on 31 March. Landslides accompanied by incandescent blocks rolling down the Sciara del Fuoco were also observed.

Strombolian activity accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions continued into April, primarily produced in 3-4 eruptive vents in the N crater and 2-3 vents in the CS crater. Ejected material from these explosions rose 80-250 m above the craters, resulting in fallout products covering the slopes on the Sciara and blocks rolling down the slopes. Explosions varied from 4-15 per hour in the N crater and 1-10 per hour in the CS crater. On 1 April a thermal anomaly was detected in satellite imagery accompanied by gas-and-steam and ash emissions downstream of the Sciara del Fuoco. A lava flow was observed on 15 April in the N crater accompanied by gas-and-steam and ash emissions; at the front of the flow incandescent blocks detached and rolled down the Sciara (figure 179). This flow continued until 16 April, ending by 0956; a thermal anomaly persisted downslope from the lava flow. Spatter was ejected tens of meters from the vent. Another lava flow was detected on 19 April in the N crater, followed by detached blocks from the front of the flow rolling down the slopes. Spattering continued during 20-21 April.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 179. A webcam image of an ash plume accompanied by blocks ejected from Stromboli on 15 April 2020 rolling down the Sciara del Fuoco. Courtesy of INGV via Facebook posted on 15 April 2020.

Moderate thermal activity occurred frequently during 16 October to April 2020 as recorded in the MIROVA Log Radiative Power graph using MODIS infrared satellite information (figure 180). The MODVOLC thermal alerts recorded a total of 14 thermal signatures over the course of nine different days between late February and mid-April. Many of these thermal signatures were captured as hotspots in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery in both summit craters (figure 181).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 180. Low to moderate thermal activity at Stromboli occurred frequently during 16 October-April 2020 as shown in the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power). Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 181. Thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) at Stromboli were observed in thermal satellite imagery from both of the summit vents throughout January-April 2020. Images with Atmospheric Penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/en/, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ingvvulcani/); 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) — August 2020 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)


Lava dome confirmed inside Arenas crater; intermittent thermal anomalies and ash emissions, January-June 2020

Columbia’s broad, glacier-capped Nevado del Ruiz has an eruption history documented back 8,600 years, and historical observations since 1570. It’s profound notoriety stems from an eruption on 13 November 1985 that produced an ash plume and pyroclastic flows onto the glacier, triggering large lahars that washed down 11 valleys, inundating most severely the towns of Armero (46 km W) and Chinchiná (34 km E) where approximately 25,000 residents were killed. It remains the second deadliest volcanic eruption of the 20th century after Mt. Pelee killed 28,000 in 1902. Ruiz remained quiet for 20 years after the September 1985-July 1991 eruption until a new explosive event occurred in February 2012; a series of explosive events lasted into 2013. Renewed activity beginning in November 2014 included ash and gas-and-steam plumes, ashfall, and the appearance of a lava dome inside the Arenas crater in August 2015 which has regularly displayed thermal anomalies through 2019. This report covers ongoing activity from January-June 2020 using information primarily 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 at Nevado del Ruiz throughout January-June 2020; they generally rose to 5.8-6.1 km altitude with the highest reported plume at 7 km altitude during early March. SGC confirmed the presence of the growing lava dome inside Arenas crater during an overflight in January; infrared satellite imagery indicated a continued heat source from the dome through April. SGC interpreted repeated episodes of ‘drumbeat seismicity’ as an indication of continued dome growth throughout the period. Small- to moderate-density sulfur dioxide emissions were measured daily with satellite instruments. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity indicated a heat source consistent with a growing dome from January through April (figure 102).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity at Nevado del Ruiz from 2 July 2019 through June 2020 indicated persistent thermal anomalies from mid-November 2019-April 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during January-March 2020. During January 2020 some of the frequent tremor seismic events were associated with gas and ash emissions, and several episodes of “drumbeat” seismicity were recorded; they have been related by SGC to the growth of the lava dome on the floor of the Arenas crater. An overflight on 10 January, with the support of the Columbian Air Force, confirmed the presence of the dome which was first proposed in August 2015 (BGVN 42:06) (figure 103). The Arenas crater had dimensions of 900 x 980 m elongate to the SW-NE and was about 300 m deep (figure 104). The dome inside the crater was estimated to be 173 m in diameter and 60 m high with an approximate volume of 1,500,000 m3 (figures 105 and 106). In addition to the dome, the scientists also noted ash deposits on the summit ice cap (figure 107). The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume on 19 January that rose to 5.5 km altitude and drifted SW, dissipating quickly. On 30 January they reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery extending 15 km NW from the summit at 5.8 km altitude. A single MODVOLC alert was issued on 15 January and data from the VIIRS satellite instrument reported thermal anomalies inside the summit crater on 14 days of the month. Sulfur dioxide plumes with DU values greater than 2 were recorded by the TROPOMI satellite instrument daily during the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. SGC confirmed the presence of a lava dome inside the Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz on 10 January 2020. The dome is shown in brown, and zones of fumarolic activity are labelled around the dome. Courtesy of SGC (El Nuevo Domo de Lava del Volcán Nevado del Ruiz y la Geomorfología Actual del Cráter Arenas 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. A view of the Arenas crater at the summit of Nevado del Ruiz on 10 January 2020 (left) is compared with a view from 2010 (right). They were both taken during overflights supported by the Colombian Air Force (FAC). Ash deposits on the ice fields are visible in both images. Fumarolic activity rises from the inner walls of the crater in January 2020. Courtesy of SGC (El Nuevo Domo de Lava del Volcán Nevado del Ruiz y la Geomorfología Actual del Cráter Arenas 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. The dome inside the Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz appeared dark against the crater rim and ash-covered ice field on 10 January 2020. Features observed include (A) the edge of the Arenas crater, (B) a secondary crater 150 m in diameter located to the west, (C) interior cornices, (D) the lava dome, (E) a depression in the center of the dome caused by possible subsidence and cooling of the lava, (F) a source of gas and ash emission with a diameter of approximately 15 m (secondary crater), and (G, H, and I) several sources of gas emission located around the crater. Courtesy of SGC (El Nuevo Domo de Lava del Volcán Nevado del Ruiz y la Geomorfología Actual del Cráter Arenas 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Images of the summit of Nevado del Ruiz captured by the PlanetScope satellite system on 14 March 2018 (A) and 10 January 2020 (B) show the lava dome at the bottom of Arenas crater. Courtesy Planet Lab Inc. and SGC (El Nuevo Domo de Lava del Volcán Nevado del Ruiz y la Geomorfología Actual del Cráter Arenas 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. Ash covered the snow and ice field around the Arenas crater at the summit of Nevado del Ruiz on 10 January 2020. The lava dome is the dark area on the right. Courtesy of SGC (posted on Twitter @sgcol).

The Washington VAAC reported multiple ash plumes during February 2020. On 4 February an ash plume was observed in satellite imagery drifting 35 km W from the summit at 5.8 km altitude. The following day a plume rose to 6.1 km altitude and extended 37 km W from the summit before dissipating by the end of the day (figure 108). On 6 February an ash cloud was observed in satellite imagery centered 45 km W of the summit at 5.8 km altitude. Although it had dissipated by midday, a hotspot remained in shortwave imagery until the evening. Late in the day another plume rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted W. Diffuse ash was seen in satellite imagery on 13 February fanning towards the W at 5.8 km altitude. On 18 February at 1720 UTC the Bogota Meteorological Weather Office (MWO) reported an ash emission drifting NW at 5.8 km altitude; a second plume was reported a few hours later at the same altitude. Intermittent emissions continued the next day at 5.8-6.1 km altitude that reached as far as 50 km NW before dissipating. A plume on 21 February rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted W (figure 109). Occasional emissions on 25 February at the same altitude reached 25 km SW of the summit before dissipating. A discrete ash emission around 1550 UTC on 26 February rose to 6.1 km altitude and drifted W. Two similar plumes were reported the next day. On 28 and 29 February plumes rose to 5.8 km altitude and drifted W.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. Emissions rose from the Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz on 5 February 2020. The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume that day that rose to 6.1 km altitude and drifted 37 km W before dissipating. Courtesy of Camilo Cupitre.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. Emissions rose from the Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz around 0600 on 21 February 2020. The Washington VAAC reported ash emissions that day that rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted W. Courtesy of Manuel MR.

SGC reported several episodes of drumbeat type seismicity on 2, 8, 9, and 27 February which they attributed to effusion related to the growing lava dome in the summit crater. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed ring-shaped thermal anomalies characteristic of dome growth within Arenas crater several times during January and February (figure 110). The VIIRS satellite instrument recorded thermal anomalies on twelve days during February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. Persistent thermal anomalies from Sentinel-2 satellite imagery during January and February 2020 suggested that the lava dome inside Nevado del Ruiz’s Arenas crater was still actively growing. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

On 4, 14, and 19 March 2020 thermal anomalies were visible in Sentinel-2 satellite data from within the Arenas crater. Thermal anomalies were recorded by the VIIRS satellite instrument on eight days during the month. Several episodes of drumbeat seismicity were recorded during the first half of the month and on 30-31 March. Distinct SO2 plumes with DU values greater than 2 were recorded by the TROPOMI satellite instrument daily throughout February and March (figure 111). The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission on 1 March that rose to 5.8 km altitude and drifted NW; it was centered 15 km from the summit when detected in satellite imagery. The next day a plume was seen in satellite imagery moving SW at 7.0 km altitude, extending nearly 40 km from the summit. Additional ash emissions were reported on 4, 14, 15, 21, 28, 29, and 31 March; the plumes rose to 5.8-6.7 km altitude and drifted generally W, some reaching 45 km from the summit before dissipating.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. Distinct SO2 plumes with Dobson values (DU) greater than 2 were recorded by the TROPOMI satellite instrument daily during February and March 2020. Ecuador’s Sangay produced smaller but distinct plumes most of the time as well. Dates are shown at the top of each image. Courtesy of NASA’s Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Activity during April-June 2020. The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission that rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted W on 1 April 2020. On 2 April, emission plumes were visible from the community of Tena in the Cundinamarca municipality which is located 100 km ESE (figure 112). The unusually clear skies were attributed to the reduction in air pollution in nearby Bogota resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic quarantine. On 4 April the Bogota MWO reported an emission drifting SW at 5.8 km altitude. An ash plume on 8 April rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted W. On 25 April the last reported ash plume from the Washington VAAC for the period rose to 6.1 km altitude and was observed in satellite imagery moving W at 30 km from the summit; after that, only steam and gas emissions were observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. On the evening of 2 April 2020, emission plumes from Nevado del Ruiz were visible from Santa Bárbara village in Tena, Cundinamarca municipality which is located 100 km ESE. The unusually clear skies were attributed to the reduction in air pollution in the nearby city of Bogota resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic quarantine. Photo by Williama Garcia, courtesy of Semana Sostenible (3 April 2020).

Distinct SO2 plumes with DU values greater than 2 were recorded by the TROPOMI satellite instrument daily throughout the month. On 13 April, a Sentinel-2 thermal image showed a hot spot inside the Arenas crater largely obscured by steam and clouds. Cloudy images through May and June prevented observation of additional thermal anomalies in satellite imagery, but the VIIRS thermal data indicated anomalies on 3, 4, and 26 April. SGC reported low-energy episodes of drumbeat seismicity on 4, 9, 10, 12, 15, 16, 20, and 23 April which they interpreted as related to growth of the lava dome inside the Arenas crater. The seismic events were located 1.5-2.0 km below the floor of the crater.

Small emissions of ash and gas were reported by SGC during May 2020 and the first half of June, with the primary drift direction being NW. Gas and steam plumes rose 560-1,400 m above the summit during May and June (figure 113). Drumbeat seismicity was reported a few times each month. Sulfur dioxide emissions continued daily; increased SO2 activity was recorded during 10-13 June (figure 114).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 113. Gas and steam plumes rose 560-1,400 m above the summit of Nevado del Ruiz during May and June 2020, including in the early morning of 11 June. Courtesy of Carlos-Enrique Ruiz.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 114. Increased SO2 activity during 10-13 June 2020 at Nevado del Ruiz was recorded by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite. Sangay also emitted SO2 on those days. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

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: El Servicio Geológico Colombiano (SGC), Diagonal 53 No. 34-53 - Bogotá D.C., Colombia (URL: https://www.sgc.gov.co/volcanes, https://twitter.com/sgcol); 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/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.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/); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Camilo Cupitre (URL: https://twitter.com/Ccupitre/status/1225207439701704709); Manuel MR (URL: https://twitter.com/ElPlanetaManuel/status/1230837262088384512); Semana Sostenible (URL: https://sostenibilidad.semana.com/actualidad/articulo/fumarola-del-nevado-del-ruiz-fue-captada-desde-tena-cundinamarca/49597); Carlos-Enrique Ruiz (URL: https://twitter.com/Aleph43/status/1271800027841794049).


Asosan (Japan) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Daily ash emissions continue through mid-June 2020 when activity decreases

Japan's 24-km-wide Asosan caldera on the island of Kyushu has been active throughout the Holocene. Nakadake has been the most active of 17 central cones for 2,000 years; all historical activity is from Nakadake Crater 1. The largest ash plume in 20 years occurred on 8 October 2016. Asosan remained quiet until renewed activity from Crater 1 began in mid-April 2019; explosions with ash plumes continued through the first half of 2020 and are covered in this report. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) provides monthly reports of activity; the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) issues aviation alerts reporting on possible ash plumes, and Sentinel-2 satellite images provide data on ash emissions and thermal activity.

The Tokyo VAAC issued multiple daily reports of ash plumes from Nakadake Crater 1 from 1 January-14 June 2020. They were commonly at 1.8-2.1 km altitude, and often drifted E or S. JMA reported that ashfall continued downwind from the ash plumes until mid-June; seismic activity was relatively high during January and February and decreased steadily after that time. The measured SO2 emissions ranged from 1,000-4,900 tons per day through mid-June and dropped to 500 tons per day during the second half of June. Intermittent thermal activity was recorded at the crater through mid-May.

Explosive activity during January-June 2020. Ash plumes rose up to 1.1 km above the crater rim at Nakadake Crater 1 during January 2020 (figure 70). Ashfall was confirmed downwind of an explosion on 7 January. During February, ash plumes rose up to 1.7 km above the crater, and ashfall was again reported downwind. The crater camera provided by the Aso Volcano Museum occasionally observed incandescence at the floor of the crater during both months. Incandescence was also occasionally observed with the Kusasenri webcam (3 km W) and was seen on 20 February from a webcam in Minamiaso village (8 km SW).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. Ash plumes rose up to 1.1 km above the Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan during January 2020 (left) and up to 1.7 km above the crater during February 2020 (right) as seen in these images from the Kusasenri webcam. Ashfall was reported downwind multiple times. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material for Mt. Aso, January and February 2020).

During March 2020, ash plumes rose as high as 1.3 km. Ashfall was reported on 9 March in Ichinomiyamachi, Aso City (figure 71). In field surveys conducted on the 18th and 25th, there was no visible water inside the crater, and high-temperature grayish-white plumes were observed. The temperature at the base of the plume was measured at 300°C (figure 72).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Ashfall from Asosan appeared on 9 March 2020 in Ichinomiyamachi, Aso City around 10 km N. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material for Mt. Aso, March 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. During a field survey of Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan on 25 March 2020, JMA staff observed a gray ash plume rising from the crater floor (left). The maximum temperature of the ash plume was measured at about 300°C with an infrared thermal imaging device (right). Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material for Mt. Aso, March 2020).

Occasional incandescence was observed at the bottom of the crater during April and May 2020; ash plumes rose 1.1 km above the crater on most days in April and were slightly higher, rising to 1.8 km during May, although activity was more intermittent (figure 73). A brief increase in SO2 activity was reported by JMA during field surveys on 7 and 8 May; satellite data captured small plumes of SO2 on 1 and 6 May (figure 74). A brief increase in tremor amplitude was reported by JMA on 16 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Although activity at Asosan’s Nakadake Crater 1 was more intermittent during April and May 2020 than earlier in the year, ash plumes were still reported most days and incandescence was seen at the bottom of the crater multiple times until 15 May. Left image taken 11 May 2020 from the Kusachiri webcam; right image taken from the crater webcam on 10 May provided by the Aso Volcano Museum. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material for Mt. Aso, May 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. The TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite detected small but distinct SO2 plumes from Asosan on 1 and 6 May 2020. Additional small plumes are visible from Aira caldera’s Sakurajima volcano. Courtesy of NASA’s Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

The last report of ash emissions at Nakadake Crater 1 from the Tokyo VAAC was on 14 June 2020. JMA also reported that no eruption was observed after mid-June. On 8 June they reported an ash plume that rose 1.4 km above the crater. During a field survey on 16 June, only steam was observed at the crater; the plume rose about 100 m (figure 75). In addition, a small plume of steam rose from a fumarole on the S crater wall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. A steam plume rose about 100 m from the floor of Nakadake Crater 1 on 16 June 2020. A small steam plume was also observed by the S crater wall. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material for Mt. Aso, June 2020).

Thermal activity during January-June 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite data indicated thermal anomalies present at Nakadake Crater 1 on 2 January, 6 and 21 February, 16 April, and 11 May (figure 76). In addition, thermal anomalies from agricultural fires appeared in satellite images on 11 February, 7 and 17 March (figure 77). The fires were around 5 km from the crater, thus they appear on the MIROVA thermal anomaly graph in black, but are likely unrelated to volcanic activity (figure 78). No thermal anomalies were recorded in satellite data from the Nakadake Crater 1 after 11 May, and none appeared in the MIROVA data as well.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Thermal anomalies appeared at Asosan’s Nakadake Crater 1 on 2 January, 6 and 21 February, 16 April and 11 May 2020. On 2 January a small ash plume drifted SSE from the crater (left). On 6 February a dense ash plume drifted S from the crater (center). Only a small steam plume was visible above the crater on 21 February (right). Images use Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Thermal anomalies from agricultural fires located about 5 km from the crater appeared in satellite images on 11 February, and 7 and 17 March 2020. Although a dense ash plume drifted SSE from the crater on 11 February (left), no thermal anomalies appear at the crater on these dates. Images use Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. The MIROVA project plot of Log Radiative Power at Asosan from 29 June 2019 through June 2020 shows only a few small thermal alerts within 5 km of the summit crater during January-June 2020, and a spike in activity during February and March located around 5 km away. These data correlate well with the Sentinel-2 satellite data that show intermittent thermal anomalies at the summit throughout January-May and agricultural fires located several kilometers from the crater during February and March. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

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


Aira (Japan) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Near-daily explosions with ash plumes continue, large block ejected 3 km from Minamidake crater on 4 June 2020

Sakurajima rises from Kagoshima Bay, which fills the Aira Caldera near the southern tip of Japan's Kyushu Island. Frequent explosive and occasional effusive activity has been ongoing for centuries. The Minamidake summit cone has been the location of persistent activity since 1955; the adjacent Showa crater on its E flank has also been intermittently active since 2006. Numerous explosions and ash-bearing emissions have been occurring each month at either Minamidake or Showa crater since the latest eruptive episode began in late March 2017. This report covers ongoing activity at Minamidake from January through June 2020; the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) provides regular reports on activity, and the Tokyo VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center) issues tens of reports each month about the frequent ash plumes.

Activity continued during January-June 2020 at Minamidake crater with tens of explosions each month. The Tokyo VAAC issued multiple daily reports of ash emissions during January and February. Less activity occurred during the first half of March but picked up again with multiple daily reports from mid-March through mid-April. Emissions were more intermittent but continued through early June, when activity decreased significantly. JMA reported explosions with ash plumes rising 2.5-4.2 km above the summit, and ejecta traveling generally up to 1,700 m from the crater, although a big explosion in early June send a large block of tephra 3 km from the crater (table 23). Thermal anomalies were visible in satellite imagery on a few days most months and were persistent in the MIROVA thermal anomaly data from November 2019 through early June 2020 (figure 94). Incandescence was often visible at night in the webcams through early June; the Showa crater remained quiet throughout the period.

Table 23. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Sakurajima's Minamidake crater within the Aira Caldera, January through June 2020. The number of events that were explosive in nature are in parentheses. No events were recorded at the Showa crater during this time. Ashfall is measured at the Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory (KLMO), 10 km W of Showa crater. Data courtesy of JMA (January to June 2020 monthly reports).

Month Ash emissions (explosive) Max plume height above crater Max ejecta distance from crater Total amount of ashfall (g/m2) Total ashfall previous month
Jan 2020 104 (65) 2.5 km 1,700 m 75 (12 days) 280,000 tons
Feb 2020 129 (67) 2.6 km 1,800 m 21 (14 days) 230,000 tons
Mar 2020 26 (10) 3.0 km 1,700 m 3 (8 days) 360,000 tons
Apr 2020 51 (14) 3.8 km 1,700 m less than 0.5 (2 days) 160,000 tons
May 2020 51 (24) 4.2 km 1,300 m 19 (8 days) 280,000 tons
Jun 2020 28 (16) 3.7 km 3,000 m 71 (9 days) 150,000 tons
Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Persistent thermal anomalies were recorded in the MIROVA thermal energy data for the period from 2 July 2019 through June 2020. Thermal activity increased in October 2019 and remained steady through May 2020, decreasing abruptly at the beginning of June. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Explosions continued at Minamidake crater during January 2020 with 65 ash plumes reported. The highest ash plume rose 2.5 km above the crater on 30 January, and incandescent ejecta reached up to 1,700 m from the Minamidake crater on 22 and 29 January (figure 95). Slight inflation of the volcano since September 2019 continued to be measured with inclinometers and extensometers on Sakurajima Island. Field surveys conducted on 15, 20, and 31 January measured the amount of sulfur dioxide gas released as very high at 3,400-4,700 tons per day, as compared with 1,000-3,000 tons in December 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. An explosion at the Minamidake summit crater of Aira’s Sakurajima volcano on 29 January 2020 produced an ash plume that rose 2.5 km above the crater rim and drifted SE (left). On 22 January incandescent ejecta reached 1,700 m from the summit during explosive events. Courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, January 2020).

About the same number of explosions produced ash plumes during February 2020 (67) as in January (65) (figure 96). On 10 February a large block was ejected 1,800 m from the crater, the first to reach that far since 5 February 2016. The tallest plume, on 26 February rose 2.6 km above the crater. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery indicated two distinct thermal anomalies within the Minamidake crater on both 1 and 6 February (figure 97). Activity diminished during March 2020 with only 10 explosions out of 26 eruptive events. On 21 March a large bomb reached 1,700 m from the crater. The tallest ash plume rose 3 km above the crater on 17 March. Scientists noted during an overflight on 16 March that a small steam plume was rising from the inner wall on the south side of the Showa crater; a larger steam plume rose to 300 m above the Minamidake crater and drifted S (figure 98). Sulfur dioxide emissions were similar in February (1,900 to 3,100 tons) and March (1,300 to 3,400 tons per day).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. An ash plume rose from the Minamidake crater at the summit of Aira’s Sakurajima volcano on 6 February 2020 at 1752 local time, as seen looking S from the Kitadake crater. Courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, February 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery revealed two distinct thermal anomalies within the Minamidake crater at Aira’s Sakurajima volcano on 1 and 6 February 2020. Images use Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. During an overflight of Aira’s Sakurajima volcano on 16 March 2020, JMA captured this view to the SW of the Kitadake crater on the right, the steam-covered Minamidake crater in the center, and the smaller Showa crater on the left adjacent to Minamidake. Courtesy of JMA and the Maritime Self-Defense Force 1st Air Group P-1 (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, March 2020).

During April 2020, ejecta again reached as far as 1,700 m from the crater; 14 explosions were identified from the 51 reported eruptive events, an increase from March. The tallest plume, on 4 April, rose 3.8 km above the crater (figure 99). The same number of eruptive events occurred during May 2020, but 24 were explosive in nature. A large plume on 9 May rose to 4.2 km above the rim of Minamidake crater, the tallest of the period (figure 100). On 20 May, incandescent ejecta reached 1,300 m from the summit. Sulfur dioxide emissions during April (1,700-2,100 tons per day) and May (1,200-2,700 tons per day) were slightly lower than previous months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. A large ash plume at Aira’s Sakurajima volcano rose from Minamidake crater at 1621 on 4 April 2020. The plume rose to 3.8 km above the crater and drifted SE. Courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, April 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. Activity continued at Aira’s Sakurajima volcano during May 2020. A large plume rose to 4.2 km above the summit and drifted N in the early morning of 9 May (left). The Kaigata webcam located at the Osumi River National Highway Office captured abundant incandescent ejecta reaching 1,300 m from the crater during the evening of 20 May. Courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, May 2020).

A major explosion on 4 June 2020 produced 137 Pa of air vibration at the Seto 2 observation point on Sakurajima Island. It was the first time that air vibrations exceeding 100 Pa have been observed at the Seto 2 station since the 21 May 2015 explosion at the Showa crater. The ash plume associated with the explosion rose 1.5 km above the crater rim. During an 8 June field survey conducted in Higashisakurajima-cho, Kagoshima City, a large impact crater believed to be associated with this explosion was located near the coast 3 km SSW from Minamidake. The crater formed by the ejected block was about 6 m in diameter and 2 m deep (figure 101); fragments found nearby were 10-20 cm in diameter (figure 102). A nearby roof was also damaged by the blocks. Smaller bombs were found in Kurokami-cho, Kagoshima City, around 4- 5 km E of Minamidake on 5 June; the largest fragment was 5 cm in diameter. Multiple ash plumes rose to 3 km or more above the summit during the first ten days of June; explosions on 4 and 5 June reached 3.7 km above the crater (figure 103). Larger than normal inflation and deflation before and after the explosions was recorded during early June in the inclinometers and extensometers located on the island. Incandescence at the summit was observed at night through the first half of June. The Tokyo VAAC issued multiple daily ash advisories during 1-10 June after which activity declined abruptly. Two brief explosions on 23 June and one on 28 June were the only two additional ash explosions reported in June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. A large crater measuring 6 m wide and 2 m deep was discovered 3 km from the Minamidake crater in Higashisakurajima, part of Kagoshima City, on 8 June 2020. It was believed to be from the impact of a large block ejected during the 4 June explosion at Aira’s Sakurajima volcano. Photo courtesy of Kagoshima City and JMA (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, June 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. Fragments 10-30 cm in diameter from a large bomb that traveled 3 km from Minamidake crater on Sakurajima were found a few days after the 4 June 2020 explosion at Aira. Courtesy of JMA, photo courtesy of Kagoshima City (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, June 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. An ash plume rose 3.7 km above the Minamidake crater at Aira’s Sakurajima volcano on 5 June 2020 and was recorded in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery. Image uses Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub playground.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 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/); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Nevados de Chillan (Chile) — July 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)


Explosions and pyroclastic flows continue; new dome emerges from Nicanor crater in June 2020

Nevados de Chillán is a complex of late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcanoes in the Chilean Central Andes. An eruption started with a phreatic explosion and ash emission on 8 January 2016 from a new crater (Nicanor) on the E flank of the Nuevo crater, itself on the NW flank of the large Volcán Viejo stratovolcano. Strombolian explosions and ash emissions continued throughout 2016 and 2017; a lava dome within the Nicanor crater was confirmed in early January 2018. Explosions and pyroclastic flows continued during 2018 and 2019, with several lava flows appearing in late 2019. This report covers continuing activity from January-June 2020 when ongoing explosive events produced ash plumes, pyroclastic flows, and the growth of new dome inside the crater. Information for this report is provided primarily by Chile's Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN)-Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), and by the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Explosions with ash plumes rising up to three kilometers above the summit area were intermittent from late January through early June 2020. Some of the larger explosions produced pyroclastic flows that traveled down multiple flanks. Thermal anomalies within the Nicanor crater were recorded in satellite data several times each month from February through June. A reduction in overall activity led SERNAGEOMIN to lower the Alert Level from Orange to Yellow (on a 4-level, Green-Yellow-Orange-Red scale) during the first week of March, although tens of explosions with ash plumes were still recorded during March and April. Explosive activity diminished in early June and SERNAGEOMIN reported the growth of a new dome inside the Nicanor crater. By the end of June, a new flow had extended about 100 m down the N flank. Thermal activity recorded by the MIROVA project showed a drop in thermal energy in mid-December 2019 after the lava flows of September-November stopped advancing. A decrease in activity in January and February 2020 was followed by an increase in thermal and explosive activity in March and April. Renewed thermal activity from the growth of a new dome inside the Nicanor crater was recorded beginning in mid-June (figure 52).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. MIROVA thermal anomaly data for Nevados de Chillan from 8 September 2019 through June 2020 showed a drop in thermal activity in mid-December 2019 after the lava flows of September-November stopped advancing. A decrease in activity in January and February 2020 was followed by an increase in explosive activity in March and April. Renewed thermal activity from the growth of a new dome inside the Nicanor crater was recorded beginning in mid-June. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Weak gas emissions were reported daily during January 2020 until a series of explosions began on the 21st. The first explosion rose 100 m above the active crater; the following day, the highest explosion rose 1.6 km above the crater. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported pulse emissions visible in satellite imagery on 21 and 24 January that rose to 3.9-4.3 km altitude and drifted SE and NE, respectively. Intermittent explosions continued through 26 January. Incandescent ejecta was observed during the night of 28-29 January. The VAAC reported an isolated emission on 29 January that rose to 5.2 km altitude and drifted E. A larger explosion on 30 January produced an ash plume that SERNAGEOMIN reported at 3.4 km above the crater (figure 53). It produced pyroclastic flows that traveled down ravines on the NNE and SE flanks. The Washington VAAC reported on behalf of the Buenos Aires VAAC that an emission was observed in satellite imagery on 30 January that rose to 4.9 km altitude and was moving rapidly E, reaching 15 km from the summit at midday. The altitude of the ash plume was revised two hours later to 7.3 km, drifting NNE and rapidly dissipating. Satellite images identified two areas of thermal anomalies within the Nicanor crater that day. One was the same emission center (CE4) identified in November 2019, and the second was a new emission center (CE5) located 60 m NW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. A significant explosion and ash plume from the Nicanor crater at Nevados de Chillan on 30 January 2020 produced an ash plume reported at 7.3 km altitude. The left image was taken within one minute of the initial explosion. Images posted by Twitter accounts #EmergenciasÑuble (left) and T13 (right); original photographers unknown.

When the weather permitted, low-altitude mostly white degassing was seen during February 2020, often with traces of fine-grained particulate material. Incandescence at the crater was observed overnight during 4-5 February. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported an emission on 14 February visible in the webcam. The next day, an emission was visible in satellite imagery at 3.9 km altitude that drifted E. Episodes of pulsating white and gray plumes were first observed by SERNAGEOMIN beginning on 18 February and continued through 25 February (figure 54). The Buenos Aires VAAC reported pulses of ash emissions moving SE on 18 February at 4.3 km altitude. Ash drifted E the next day at 3.9 km altitude and a faint plume was briefly observed on 20 February drifting N at 3.7 km altitude before dissipating. Sporadic pulses of ash moved SE from the volcano on 22 February at 4.3 km altitude, briefly observed in satellite imagery before dissipating. Thermal anomalies were visible from the Nicanor crater in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 23 and 28 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. An ash emission at Nevados de Chillan on 18 February 2020 was captured in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery drifting SE (left). Thermal anomalies within the Nicanor crater were measured on 23 (right) and 28 February. Images use Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Only low-altitude degassing of mostly steam was reported for the first half of March 2020. When SERNAGEOMIN lowered the Alert Level from Orange to Yellow on 5 March, they reduced the affected area from 5 km NE and 3 km SW of the crater to a radius of 2 km around the active crater. Thermal anomalies were recorded at the Nicanor crater in Sentinel-2 imagery on 4, 9, 11, 16, and 19 March (figure 55). A new series of explosions began on 19 March; 44 events were recorded during the second half of the month (figure 56). Webcams captured multiple explosions with dense ash plumes; on 25 and 30 March the plumes rose more than 2 km above the crater. Fine-grained ashfall occurred in Las Trancas (10 km SW) on 25 March. Pyroclastic flows on 25 and 30 March traveled 300 m NE, SE, and SW from the crater. Incandescence was observed at night multiple times after 20 March. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported several discrete pulses of ash that rose to 4.3 km altitude and drifted SE on 20 and 21 March, SW on 25 March, and SE on 29 and 30 March. Another ash emission rose to 5.5 km altitude later on 30 March and drifted SE.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Sentinel-2 Satellite imagery of Nevados de Chillan during March 2020 showed thermal anomalies on five different dates at the Nicanor crater, including on 9, 11, and 16 March. A second thermal anomaly of unknown origin was also visible on 11 March about 2 km SW of the crater (center). Images use Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Forty-four explosive events were recorded at Nevados de Chillan during the second half of March 2020 including on 19 March. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN webcams and chillanonlinenoticia.

In their semi-monthly reports for April 2020, SERNAGEOMIN reported 94 explosive events during the first half of the month and 49 during the second half; many produced dense ash plumes. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported frequent intermittent ash emissions during 1-13 April reaching altitudes of 3.7-4.3 km (figure 57). They reported the plume on 8 April visible in satellite imagery at 7.3 km altitude drifting SE. An emission on 13 April was also visible in satellite imagery at 6.1 km altitude drifting NE.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery captured a strong thermal anomaly and an ash plume drifting SE from Nevados de Chillan on 10 April 2020. Image uses Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During the second half of April 2020, SERNAGEOMIN reported that only one plume exceeded 2 km in height; on 21 April, it rose to 2.4 km above the crater (figure 58). The Buenos Aires VAAC reported isolated pulses of ash on 18, 26, 28, and 30 April. During the second half of April SERNAGEOMIN also reported that a pyroclastic flow traveled about 1,200 m from the crater rim down the SE flank. The ash from the pyroclastic flow drifted SE and S as far as 3.5 km. Satellite images showed continued activity from multiple emission centers around the crater. Pronounced scarps were noted on the internal walls of the crater, attributed to the deepening of the crater from explosive activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Tens of explosions were reported at Nevados de Chillan during the second half of April 2020 that produced dense ash plumes. The plume on 21 April rose 2.4 km above the Nicanor crater. Photo by Josefa Carrasco Acuña from San Fabián de Alico; posted by Noticias Valpo Express.

Intermittent explosive activity continued during May 2020. The plumes contained abundant particulate material and were accompanied by periodic pyroclastic flows and incandescent ejecta around the active crater, especially visible at night. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported several sporadic weak ash emissions during the first week of May that rose to 3.7-5.2 km altitude and drifted NE. SERNAGEOMIN reported that only one explosion produced an ash emission that rose more than two km above the crater during the first two weeks of the month; on 6 May it rose to 2.5 km above the crater and drifted NE. They also observed pyroclastic flows on the E and SE flanks that day. Additional pyroclastic flows traveled 450 m down the S flank during the first half of the month, and similar deposits were observed to the N and NE. Satellite observations showed various emission points along the NW-trending lineament at the summit and multiple erosion scarps. Major erosion was noted at the NE rim of the crater along with an increase in degassing around the rim.

During the second half of May 2020 most of the ash plumes rose less than 2 km above the crater; a plume from one explosion on 22 May rose 2.2 km above the crater; the Buenos Aires VAAC reported the plume at 5.5 km altitude drifting NW (figure 59). Continuing pyroclastic emissions deposited material as far as 1.5 km from the crater rim on the NNW flank. There were also multiple pyroclastic deposits up to 500 m from the crater directed N and NE during the period. SERNAGEOMIN reported an increase in steam degassing between Nuevo-Nicanor and Nicanor-Arrau craters.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Explosions produced dense ash plumes and pyroclastic flows at Nevados de Chillan multiple times during May 2020 including on 22 May. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

Webcam images during the first two weeks of June 2020 indicated multiple incandescent explosions. On 3 and 4 June plumes from explosions reached heights of over 1.25 km above the crater; the Buenos Aires VAAC reported them drifting NW at 3.9 km altitude. Incandescent ejecta on 6 June rose 760 m above the vent and drifted NE. In addition, pyroclastic flows were distributed on the N, NW, E and SE flanks. Significant daytime and nighttime incandescence was reported on 6, 9, and 10 June (figure 60). The VAAC reported emission pulses on 6 and 9 June drifting E and SE at 4.3 km altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Multiple ash plumes with incandescence were reported at Nevados de Chillan during the first ten days of June 2020 including on 6 June, after which explosive activity decreased significantly. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIIN and Sismo Alerta Mexicana.

SERNAGEOMIN reported that beginning on the afternoon of 9 June 2020 a tremor-type seismic signal was first recorded, associated with continuous emission of gas and dark gray ash that drifted SE (figure 61). A little over an hour later another tremor signal began that lasted for about four hours, followed by smaller discrete explosions. A hybrid-type earthquake in the early morning of 10 June was followed by a series of explosions that ejected gas and particulate matter from the active crater. The vent where the emissions occurred was located within the Nicanor crater close to the Arrau crater; it had been degassing since 30 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. A tremor-type seismic signal was first recorded on the afternoon of 9 June 2020 at Nevados de Chillan. It was associated with the continuous emission of gas and dark gray ash that drifted SE, and incandescent ejecta visible after dark. View is to the S, courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN webcam, posted by Volcanology Chile.

After the explosions on the afternoon of 9 June, a number of other nearby vents became active. In particular, the vent located between the Nuevo and Nicanor craters began emitting material for the first time during this eruptive cycle. The explosion also generated pyroclastic flows that traveled less than 50 m in multiple directions away from the vent. Abundant incandescent material was reported during the explosion early on 10 June. Deformation measurements showed inflation over the previous 12 days.

SERNAGEOMIN identified a surface feature in satellite imagery on 11 June 2020 that they interpreted as a new effusive lava dome. It was elliptical with dimensions of about 85 x 120 m. In addition to a thermal anomaly attributed to the dome, they noted three other thermal anomalies between the Nuevo, Arrau, and Nicanor craters. They reported that within four days the base of the active crater was filled with effusive material. Seismometers recorded tremor activity after 11 June that was interpreted as associated with lava effusion. Incandescent emissions were visible at night around the active crater. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery recorded a bright thermal anomaly inside the Nicanor crater on 14 June (figure 62).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. A bright thermal anomaly was recorded inside the Nicanor crater at Nevados de Chillan on 14 June 2020. SERNAGEOMIN scientists attributed it to the growth of a new lava dome within the crater. Image uses Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

A special report from SERNAGEOMIN on 24 June 2020 noted that vertical inflation had increased during the previous few weeks. After 20 June the inflation rate reached 2.49 cm/month, which was considered high. The accumulated inflation measured since July 2019 was 22.5 cm. Satellite imagery continued to show the growth of the dome, and SERNAGEOMIN scientists estimated that it reached the E edge of the Nicanor crater on 23 June. Based on these images, they estimated an eruptive rate of 0.1-0.3 m3/s, about two orders of magnitude faster than the Gil-Cruz dome that emerged between December 2018 and early 2019.

Webcams revealed continued low-level explosive activity and incandescence visible both during the day and at night. By the end of June, webcams recorded a lava flow that extended 94 m down the N flank from the Nicanor crater and continued to advance. Small explosions with abundant pyroclastic debris produced recurring incandescence at night. Satellite infrared imagery indicated thermal radiance from effusive material that covered an area of 37,000 m2, largely filling the crater. DEM analysis suggested that the size of the crater had tripled in volume since December 2019 due largely to erosion from explosive activity since May 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed a bright thermal anomaly inside the crater on 27 June.

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/, https://twitter.com/Sernageomin); 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/); 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); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); #EmergenciasÑuble (URL: https://twitter.com/urgenciasnuble/status/1222943399185207296); T13, Channel 13 Press Department (URL: https://twitter.com/T13/status/1222951071443771394); Chillanonlinenoticia (URL: https://twitter.com/ChillanOnline/status/1240754211932995595); Noticias Valpo Express (URL: https://twitter.com/NoticiasValpoEx/status/1252715033131388928); Sismo Alerta Mexicana (URL: https://twitter.com/Sismoalertamex/status/1269351579095691265); Volcanology Chile (URL: https://twitter.com/volcanologiachl/status/1270548008191643651).


Kerinci (Indonesia) — July 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 emissions during January-early May 2020

Kerinci is a stratovolcano located in Sumatra, Indonesia that has been characterized by explosive eruptions with ash plumes and gas-and-steam emissions. The most recent eruptive episode began in April 2018 which has included intermittent explosions and ash plumes. The previous report (BGVN 44:12) described more recent activity consisting of intermittent gas-and-steam and ash plumes which occurred during June through early November 2019. This volcanism continued through May 2020, though little to no activity was reported during December 2019. The primary source of information for this report comes from Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM) and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC).

Activity during December 2019 consisted of white gas-and-steam emissions rising 100-500 m above the summit. White and brown emissions continued intermittently through May 2020, rising to a maximum altitude of 1 km above the summit on 14 April. During 3-6 and 8-9 January 2020, the Darwin VAAC and PVMBG issued notices reporting brown volcanic ash rising 150-600 m above the summit drifting S and ESE (figure 19). PVMBG published a VONA notice on 24 January at 0828 reporting ash rising 400 m above the summit. Brown emissions continued intermittently throughout the reporting period. On 1 February, volcanic ash was observed rising 300-960 m above the summit and drifting NE; PVMBG reported continuing brown emissions during 1-3 February. During 16-17 February, two VONA notices reported that brown ash plumes rose 150-400 m above the summit and drifted SW accompanied by consistent white gas-and-steam emissions (figure 20).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Brown ash plume rose 500-600 m above Kerinci on 4 January 2020. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia via Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. White gas-and-steam emissions rose 400 m above Kerinci on 19 February 2020. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia via Øystein Lund Andersen.

During 1-16 and 25-26 March 2020 brown ash emissions were frequently observed rising 100-500 m above the summit drifting in multiple directions. During 6-8 and 10-15, April brown ash emissions were reported 50-1,000 m above the summit. The most recent Darwin VAAC and VONA notices were published on 14 April, reporting volcanic ash rising 400 and 600 m above the summit, respectively; however, PVMBG reported brown emissions rising up to 1,000 m. By 25-27 April brown ash emissions rose 50-300 m above the summit. Intermittent white gas-and-steam emissions continued through May. The last brown emissions seen in May were reported on the 7th rising 50-100 m above the summit.

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/); 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/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Øystein Lund Andersen (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: http://www.oysteinlundandersen.com, images at https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse/status/1213658331564269569/photo/1 and https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse/status/1230419965209018369/photo/1).


Tinakula (Solomon Islands) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Tinakula

Solomon Islands

10.386°S, 165.804°E; summit elev. 796 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent small thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam plumes during January-June 2020

Tinakula is a remote stratovolcano located 100 km NE of the Solomon Trench at the N end of the Santa Cruz. In 1971, an eruption with lava flows and ash explosions caused the small population to evacuate the island. Volcanism has previously been characterized by an ash explosion in October 2017 and the most recent eruptive period that began in December 2018 with renewed thermal activity. Activity since then has consisted of intermittent thermal activity and dense gas-and-steam plumes (BGVN 45:01), which continues into the current reporting period. This report updates information from January-June 2020 using primary source information from various satellite data, as ground observations are rarely available.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed weak, intermittent, but ongoing thermal activity during January-June 2020 (figure 41). A small cluster of slightly stronger thermal signatures was detected in late February to early March, which is correlated to MODVOLC thermal alert data; four thermal hotspots were recorded on 20, 27, and 29 February and 1 March. However, observations using Sentinel-2 satellite imagery were often obscured by clouds. In addition to the weak thermal signatures, dense gas-and-steam plumes were observed in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery rising from the summit during this reporting period (figure 42).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Weak thermal anomalies at Tinakula from 26 June 2019 through June 2020 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were intermittent and clustered more strongly in late February to early March.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery shows ongoing gas-and-steam plumes rising from Tinakula during January through May 2020. Images with atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8a) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Three distinct thermal anomalies were observed in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery on 22 January, 11 April, and 6 May 2020, accompanied by some gas-and-steam emissions (figure 43). The hotspot on 22 January was slightly weaker than the other two days, and was seen on the W flank, compared to the other two that were observed in the summit crater. According to MODVOLC thermal alerts, a hotspot was recorded on 6 May, which corresponded to a Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image with a notable anomaly in the summit crater (figure 43). On 10 June no thermal anomaly was seen in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery due to the presence of clouds; however, what appeared to be a dense gas-and-steam plume was extending W from the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing a weak thermal activity (bright yellow-orange) on 22 January 2020 on the W flank of Tinakula (top) and slightly stronger thermal hotspots on 11 April (middle) and 6 May (bottom) in at the summit, which are accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Images with atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8a) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The small 3.5-km-wide island of Tinakula is the exposed summit of a massive stratovolcano at the NW end of the Santa Cruz islands. Similar to Stromboli, it has a breached summit crater that extends from the summit to below sea level. Landslides enlarged this scarp in 1965, creating an embayment on the NW coast. The satellitic cone of Mendana is located on the SE side. The dominantly andesitic volcano has frequently been observed in eruption since the era of Spanish exploration began in 1595. In about 1840, an explosive eruption apparently produced pyroclastic flows that swept all sides of the island, killing its inhabitants. Frequent historical eruptions have originated from a cone constructed within the large breached crater. These have left the upper flanks and the steep apron of lava flows and volcaniclastic debris within the breach unvegetated.

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/); 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).


Ibu (Indonesia) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Ibu

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent ash emissions and summit incandescence; Strombolian explosions in March 2020

Ibu is an active stratovolcano located along the NW coast of Halmahera Island in Indonesia. Volcanism has recently been characterized by frequent ash explosions, ash plumes, and small lava flows within the crater throughout 2019 (BGVN 45:01). Activity continues, consisting of frequent white-and-gray emissions, ash explosions, ash plumes, and lava flows. This report updates activity through June 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 satellites.

Volcanism during the entire reporting period dominantly consisted of white-and-gray emissions that rose 200-800 m above the summit drifting in multiple directions. The ash plume with the maximum altitude of 13.7 km altitude occurred on 16 May 2020. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery detected multiple smaller hotspots within the crater throughout the reporting period.

Continuous ash emissions were reported on 6 February rising to 2.1 km altitude drifting E, accompanied by a hotspot visible in infrared satellite imagery. On 16 February, a ground observer reported an eruption that produced an ash plume rising 800 m above the summit drifting W, according to a Darwin VAAC notice. Ash plumes continued through the month, drifting in multiple directions and rising up to 2.1 km altitude. During 8-10 March, video footage captured multiple Strombolian explosions that ejected incandescent material and produced ash plumes from the summit (figures 21 and 22). Occasionally volcanic lightning was observed within the ash column, as recorded in video footage by Martin Rietze. This event was also documented by a Darwin VAAC notice, which stated that multiple ash emissions rose 2.1 km altitude drifting SE. PVMBG published a VONA notice on 10 March at 1044 reporting ash plumes rising 400 m above the summit. PVMBG and Darwin VAAC notices described intermittent eruptions on 26, 28, and 29 March, all of which produced ash plumes rising 300-800 m above the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Strombolian explosions recorded at the crater summit of Ibu during 8-10 March 2020 ejected incandescent ejecta and a dense ash plume. Video footage copyright by Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Strombolian explosions recorded at the crater summit of Ibu during 8-10 March 2020 ejected incandescent ejecta and ash. Frequent volcanic lightning was also observed. Video footage copyright by Martin Rietze, used with permission.

A majority of days in April included white-and-gray emissions rising up to 800 m above the summit. A ground observer reported an eruption on 9 April, according to a Darwin VAAC report, and a hotspot was observed in HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery. Minor eruptions were reported intermittently during mid-April and early to mid-May. On 12 May at 1052 a VONA from PVMBG reported an ash plume 800-1,100 m above the summit. A large short-lived eruption on 16 May produced an ash plume that rose to a maximum of 13.7 km altitude and drifted S, according to the Darwin VAAC report. By June, volcanism consisted predominantly of white-and-gray emissions rising 800 m above the summit, with an ash eruption on 15 June. This eruptive event resulted in an ash plume that rose 1.8 km altitude drifting WNW and was accompanied by a hotspot detected in HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery, according to a Darwin VAAC notice.

The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected frequent hotspots during July 2019 through June 2020 (figure 23). In comparison, the MODVOLC thermal alerts recorded a total of 24 thermal signatures over the course of 19 different days between January and June. Many thermal signatures were captured as small thermal hotspots in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery within the crater (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Thermal anomalies recorded at Ibu from 2 July 2019 through June 2020 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were frequent and consistent in power. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (bands 12, 11, 8A) showed occasional thermal hotspots (bright orange) in the Ibu summit crater during January through June 2020. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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/); 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); Martin Rietze, Taubenstr. 1, D-82223 Eichenau, Germany (URL: https://mrietze.com/, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5LzAA_nyNWEUfpcUFOCpJw/videos, video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMkfT1e4HQQ).


Suwanosejima (Japan) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent explosions, ash plumes, and summit incandescence in January-June 2020

Suwanosejima is an active stratovolcano located in the northern Ryukyu Islands. Volcanism has previously been characterized by Strombolian explosions, ash plumes, and summit incandescence (BGVN 45:01), which continues to occur intermittently. A majority of this activity originates from vents within the large Otake summit crater. This report updates information during January through June 2020 using monthly reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

During 3-10 January 2020, 13 explosions were detected from the Otake crater rising to 1.4 km altitude; material was ejected as far as 600 m away and ashfall was reported in areas 4 km SSW, according to JMA. Occasional small eruptive events continued during 12-17 January, which resulted in ash plumes that rose 1 km above the crater rim and ashfall was again reported 4 km SSW. Crater incandescence was visible nightly during 17-24 January, while white plumes rose as high as 700 m above the crater rim.

Nightly incandescence during 7-29 February, and 1-6 March, was accompanied by intermittent explosions that produced ash plumes rising up to 1.2 km above the crater rim (figure 44); activity during early February resulted in ashfall 4 km SSW. On 19 February an eruption produced a gray-white ash plume that rose 1.6 km above the crater (figure 45), resulting in ashfall in Toshima village (4 km SSW), according to JMA. Explosive events during 23-24 February ejected blocks onto the flanks. Two explosions were recorded during 1-6 March, which sent ash plumes as high as 900-1,000 m above the crater rim and ejected large blocks 300 m from the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Surveillance camera images of summit incandescence at Suwanosejima on 29 January (top left), 21 (middle left) and 23 (top right) February, and 25 March (bottom left and right) 2020. Courtesy of JMA (Monthly bulletin reports 511, January, February, and March 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Surveillance camera images of which and white-and-gray gas-and-steam emissions rising from Suwanosejima on 5 January (top), 19 February (middle), and 24 March 2020 (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (Monthly bulletin reports 511, January, February, and March 2020).

Nightly incandescence continued to be visible during 13-31 March, 1-10 and 17-24 April, 1-8, 15-31 May, 1-5 and 12-30 June 2020; activity during the latter part of March was relatively low and consisted of few explosive events. In contrast, incandescence was frequently accompanied by explosions in April and May. On 28 April at 0432 an eruption produced an ash plume that rose 1.6 km above the crater rim and drifted SE and E, and ejected blocks as far as 800 m from the crater. The MODVOLC thermal alerts algorithm also detected four thermal signatures during this eruption within the summit crater. An explosion at 1214 on 29 April caused glass in windows to vibrate up to 4 km SSW away while ash emissions continued to be observed following the explosion the previous day, according to the Tokyo VAAC.

During 1-8 May explosions occurred twice a day, producing ash plumes that rose as high as 1 km above the crater rim and ejecting material 400 m from the crater. An explosion on 29 May at 0210 produced an off-white plume that rose as high as 500 m above the crater rim and ejected large blocks up to 200 m above the rim. On 5 June an explosion produced gray-white plumes rising 1 km above the crater. Small eruptive events continued in late June, producing ash plumes that rose as high as 900 m above the crater rim.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed relatively stronger thermal anomalies in late February and late April 2020 with an additional six weaker thermal anomalies detected in early January (2), early February (1), mid-April (2), and mid-May (1) (figure 46). Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery in late January through mid-April showed two distinct thermal hotspots within the summit crater (figure 47).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Prominent thermal anomalies at Suwanosejima during July-June 2020 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) occurred in late February and late April. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing small thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) from two locations within the Otake summit crater at Suwanosejima. Images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); 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).


Bagana (Papua New Guinea) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Bagana

Papua New Guinea

6.137°S, 155.196°E; summit elev. 1855 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes during 29 February-2 March and 1 May 2020

Bagana lies in a nearly inaccessible mountainous tropical rainforest area of Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea and is primarily monitored by satellite imagery of ash plumes and thermal anomalies. After a state of elevated activity that lasted through December 2018 (BGVN 43:05, 44:06, 44:12), the volcano entered a quieter period that persisted through at least May 2020. This report focuses on activity between December 2019 and May 2020.

Atmospheric clouds often obscured satellite views of the volcano during the reporting period. When the volcano could be observed, light-colored gas plumes were often observed (figure 43). Based on satellite and wind model data, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) reported that during 29 February-2 March ash plumes rose to an altitude of 1.8-2.1 km and drifted SW and N. On 1 May an ash plume rose to an altitude of 3 km and drifted NW and W. According to both Darwin VAAC volcanic ash advisories, the Aviation Color Code was Orange (second highest of four hazard levels).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 image of Bagana, showing a gas plume drifting SE on 13 March 2020, during a period when the Darwin VAAC had not reported any ash explosions (Natural Color rendering, bands 4, 3, 2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During the reporting period, the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) volcano hotspot detection system recorded only intermittent thermal anomalies, all of which were of low radiative power. Sulfur dioxide emissions detected by satellite-based instruments over this reporting period were at low levels.

Geologic Background. Bagana volcano, occupying a remote portion of central Bougainville Island, is one of Melanesia's youngest and most active volcanoes. This massive symmetrical cone was largely constructed by an accumulation of viscous andesitic lava flows. The entire edifice could have been constructed in about 300 years at its present rate of lava production. Eruptive activity is frequent and characterized by non-explosive effusion of viscous lava that maintains a small lava dome in the summit crater, although explosive activity occasionally producing pyroclastic flows also occurs. Lava flows form dramatic, freshly preserved tongue-shaped lobes up to 50 m thick with prominent levees that descend the flanks on all sides.

Information Contacts: Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); 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/).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 16, Number 12 (December 1991)

Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland

Aira (Japan)

More frequent explosions and stronger seismicity

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Vigorous lava production; pyroclastic flows; explosions eject large tephra

Avachinsky (Russia)

Lava dome filled crater during January 1991 eruption

Barren Island (India)

Secondary steam explosions from lava-flow front; minor fuming from crater

Etna (Italy)

Lava from SE-flank fissures covers about 5 km2; barrier constructed

Galeras (Colombia)

Vigorous SO2 emission; fumaroles to 400°C; seismicity declines

Hudson, Cerro (Chile)

Overflight reveals thick tephra and disruption of summit glaciers; many early-eruption lava flows

Irazu (Costa Rica)

Fumarolic activity; crater lake rises

Izu-Tobu (Japan)

Earthquake swarm

Kanlaon (Philippines)

Small ash emission

Kilauea (United States)

Small lava flows emerge from tube system; new lava covers Pu`u `O`o Crater floor

Kirishimayama (Japan)

Continued steaming and weak tremor

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Ash emission and glow

Loihi (United States)

Earthquake swarm

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Ash emission; incandescent lava fragments roll down flank valley

Merapi (Indonesia)

Hot material moves down flanks

Niigata-Yakeyama (Japan)

Increased steaming

Pacaya (Guatemala)

Stronger explosions; October lava extrusion continues

Pinatubo (Philippines)

Steaming continues but seismicity declines; lahar threat persists

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Seismicity declines slightly

Santa Maria (Guatemala)

Strong gas emission, frequent explosions, and block avalanches from lava dome

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea)

Vapor emission and seismicity

Unzendake (Japan)

Continued dome extrusion and pyroclastic flows; vigorous seismicity; more than 8,000 still evacuated

Westdahl (United States)

Tephra emission declines

Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand)

Bombs and gas from deep October vent; occasional stronger explosions; deflation



Aira (Japan) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


More frequent explosions and stronger seismicity

The number of explosions . . . increased . . . to 37 in December (figure 17), bringing the 1991 total to 295, the highest since 474 explosions were recorded in 1985. The December 1991 activity deposited 266 g/m2 of ash [at KLMO] . . . . An explosion at 1742 on 16 December produced the month's highest ash cloud, which rose more than 3 km above the crater. The air shock from an explosion on 5 December at 1246 broke a glass door; no other damage was reported. Similar eruptive activity continued through mid-January, adding 15 explosions by the 17th. Seismicity was more vigorous than usual during December. Swarms of volcanic earthquakes were recorded on 1, 3, 16, 17, 21-27, and 29 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Monthly number of explosions (top) and ash accumulation 10 km W of the crater (bottom) at Sakura-jima, 1980-1991. Courtesy of JMA.

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) — December 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)


Vigorous lava production; pyroclastic flows; explosions eject large tephra

The lava flow active in September-November on the SW flank was different from other recent flows, being long, voluminous, and having well-defined levees. By the end of November the flow had divided into three lobes, of which two were still active to nearly 850 m elevation. The surface of the third lobe was cold, but it continued to emit vapor. Some of the nearby vegetation appeared scorched, but not burned. The flow extended ~1 km from the vent by 1 December, but no longer appeared active. Seismicity was at normal levels in November, with a daily average of 20 events and a maximum of 30 (on 7 November). Tremor activity increased on 1-4, 18, 21, 24, and 28 November.

The following was prepared by a UNESCO Regional Volcano Monitoring Workshop, organized by OVSICORI.

In mid to late November, a new lava flow began to follow the well-defined levees of the older flow, reaching an elevation of 1,150 m by 7 December. During fieldwork on 1-10 December, two types of pyroclastic flows were observed. The first type, produced by landslides from the active vent during vigorous lava emission, was generally restricted to the area close to the vent, with only two reaching moderate size (on 5 December). One of three portable seismographs on the volcano recorded a low- to intermediate-frequency signal with a 160-second duration, produced by the larger of the two moderate-sized pyroclastic flows. The second type, produced by landslides from an active levee due to high rates of extrusion, was always very small.

On 3 December, 31 seismic events were recorded (the most during the period 2-10 December; figure 41). Of these, 20 corresponded to explosions characterized by the ejection of blocks, bombs, gas, and ash, and occasionally pyroclastic flows. The others corresponded to low-frequency degassing events, which were more common after 3 December. Tremor increased after 7 December, reaching a maximum of 12 hours on 9 December (figure 42).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Daily number of seismic events at Arenal, 2-10 December 1991. Courtesy of OVSICORI.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Hours of tremor/day at Arenal, 2-10 December 1991. Courtesy of OVSICORI.

Deformation studies were conducted 2-10 December. Dry-tilt measurements indicated 6-8 µrads of subsidence at 2.5-4 km from the summit, and EDM measurements suggested contractions of 6-12 ppm along radial lines on the W and S flanks. This study occurred during the later part of one of the periods of inflation that have been associated with increases in explosivity. Growth of the active crater's (C) rim, monitored by vertical angle measurements, has averaged 63 cm/month over the past 5 years, reaching a maximum elevation of 1,657 m (24 m higher than the old summit rim of crater D, active [roughly 500 years ago]).

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: G. Soto, R. Barquero, and M. Fernández, ICE; R. Van der Laat, OVSICORI.


Avachinsky (Russia) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Avachinsky

Russia

53.256°N, 158.836°E; summit elev. 2717 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava dome filled crater during January 1991 eruption

The following supplements the preliminary report in 15:12. The eruption lasted until 30 January 1991, filling the summit crater (400-500 m in diameter) with ~21 x 106 metric tons of lava (figure 1). Circumferential and radial fissures 6 m deep covered the surface of the lava dome. Lava overflowed the S rim, feeding a flow that advanced 1.5 km down the SSE flank and short flows on the SW flank. Numerous fumaroles developed around the dome's margins.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. View looking NW at the summit of Avachinsky, 11 October 1991. The summit crater (400-500 m in diameter) is filled with lava from the January 1991 eruption. Small lava flows at right extend down the SW flank. Photo taken by A. Ovsyannikov.

Geologic Background. Avachinsky, one of Kamchatka's most active volcanoes, rises above Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka's largest city. It began to form during the middle or late Pleistocene, and is flanked to the SE by the parasitic volcano Kozelsky, which has a large crater breached to the NE. A large horseshoe-shaped caldera, breached to the SW, was created when a major debris avalanche about 30,000-40,000 years ago buried an area of about 500 km2 to the south underlying the city of Petropavlovsk. Reconstruction of the volcano took place in two stages, the first of which began about 18,000 years before present (BP), and the second 7000 years BP. Most eruptive products have been explosive, with pyroclastic flows and hot lahars being directed primarily to the SW by the breached caldera, although relatively short lava flows have been emitted. The frequent historical eruptions have been similar in style and magnitude to previous Holocene eruptions.

Information Contacts: IVGG.


Barren Island (India) — December 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)


Secondary steam explosions from lava-flow front; minor fuming from crater

Members of SANE visited . . . in mid-Nov. Since July, the active cone had grown to ~320 m asl and its crater was estimated at 250-300 m in diameter [but see 17:1]. During the 2.5-hour visit, eleven secondary steam explosions occurred from the lava flow at the coast. Incandescent material was sometimes visible after waves struck the flow front. Some regrowth of scorched plants had occurred on the SW corner of the island, and birds had returned. Although no plume was evident from the ground in mid-Nov, three Indian Navy pilots observed fuming during a later overflight, and minor fuming from two vents was visible during fieldwork on 30 November.

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: S. Acharya, SANE; D. Shackelford, Fullerton, CA.


Etna (Italy) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava from SE-flank fissures covers about 5 km2; barrier constructed

The following, from R. Romano with additional information from J.C. Tanguy, supersedes the preliminary press report in 16:11. Information from Tanguy about the beginning of the eruption was collected thanks to G. Patanè, S. Imposa, R. Cristofolini, A. & O. Nicoloso, and G. Scarpinati.

A SE-flank fissure eruption began near the base of Southeast Crater early 14 December. Activity ended that day from the initial vents, but fissures propagated downslope where more vigorous lava production began the next morning. The eruption produced a substantial lava field and was continuing in mid-January.

After intense Strombolian activity at ... Bocca Nuova and Southeast Crater, eruptive fissures opened during the early morning of 14 December. These extended ~ 1 km SSE from the base of Southeast Crater (figure 42). Strong harmonic tremor was recorded between 0220 and 0420 by Univ di Catania seismometers. Ejection of lava fragments built modest cones and scoria ramparts along the fracture system, while small lava flows were extruded from some vents. More consistent lava production at the end of the fracture system fed a flow that advanced down the W wall of the Valle del Bove, branching into two lobes. These moved E, but did not exceed 1 km in length, reaching ~2,400 m altitude. When chief guide A. Nicoloso reached the area at about 0800, lava production had nearly stopped, although strong gas emission continued at Bocca Nuova and Southeast Crater. Activity from the fissures ceased completely during the morning. Another modest-sized eruptive fissure, oriented NE-SW, opened at the NE base of Southeast Crater, ejecting hot pyroclastic material.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Topographic map showing the 1989 and 1990 flows, and preliminary locations of the 1991-92 lava, eruptive fissures, and the barrier constructed in Val Calanna. The Piano del Trifoglietto is the broad plain covered by 1991-92 lava in the area of the "1991-92" label. Courtesy of R. Romano, T. Caltabiano, P. Carveni, and M.F. Grasso.

During the night, the NNW-SSE fissures that had been active the previous morning continued to propagate downslope. A second seismic crisis heralded the opening, at about 0245, of two sub-parallel eruptive fissures. These developed along a non-eruptive segment of the 1989 eruption's SE fracture, on the W wall of the Valle del Bove between roughly 2,400 and 2,200 m altitude, a total length of ~ 400 m. Strombolian activity began immediately along the new fissures and lava flowed E from the fissures' ends, extending ~ 1.5 km along the floor of the Valle del Bove by 0900 (observation by G. Scarpinati). The flows reached the base of the Valle del Bove during the afternoon, and advanced on the Piano del Trifoglietto, a plain at ~ 1,500 m altitude. That evening, at 2103, a strong shock was felt near Etna and to ~ 75 km SE (in the Siracusa area). Other isolated shocks and swarms of events with M <4 were recorded, particularly during the first few days of the eruption.

In the days that followed, Strombolian activity, sometimes intense, occurred from several points along the fissures, building small cones and scoria ramparts. Impressive phreatomagmatic explosions, accompanied by loud detonations, were clearly felt in towns at the foot of the volcano, especially during the eruption's first few days. The effusive activity created a system of lava flows, some with fronts hundreds of meters wide, which generally moved east, in the Piano del Trifoglietto.

By 20 December, lava had reached ~ 1,500 m altitude and superposition of lava flows began to be observed. During the evening of 23 December, a very wide lava front reached the Salto della Giumenta (at the head of the Val Calanna, ~ 4.5 km from the vent) and a few flows descended into it the next morning. Lava flows almost completely covered Val Calanna during the succeeding days, destroying orchards and drinking water facilities. On 2 January, a very wide flow front, ~ 10 m thick, had reached 950 m altitude (~ 5.5 km from the vent) and was advancing slowly. Construction began that day on a containment barrier along the E side of Val Calanna.

An extensive lava field had formed in the Piano del Trifoglietto, with individual lobes frequently superposing and combining. Overflows began from the N part of the lava field about 2 January, forming a separate flow around the N side of Monte Calanna on 5 January and rejoining the stagnant lava front in Val Calanna on the 7th. Flow fronts in Val Calanna had stopped by the morning of 9 January, while active superposed lobes were noted on the lava that had flowed N of Monte Calanna. The most advanced front was at ~ 1,100 m altitude and was tending to move E. The extensive (1-km-wide) main lava field fed numerous breakouts or ephemeral vents, from which modest flows advanced over earlier lava. The main lava channel, originating around 2,200 m altitude, was being vigorously fed and at times was tubed over.

By 14 January, Strombolian activity from the fissure vents had declined notably and explosions were no longer audible. Effusive activity was concentrated at a single vent, feeding a lava channel that subdivided into several flows at ~ 2,000 m altitude (at the base of the Valle del Bove's W wall). These moved onto the lava field formed earlier in the eruption but did not extend beyond 1,550 m altitude. The area covered by new lava had not grown since 9 January, but numerous ephemeral flows appeared on its surface. The containment barrier at the end of Val Calanna had not been tested as of 14 January, since the nearest flow had stopped ~150 m away (~6 km from the vent). As of 21 January the eruption was continuing, although apparently at a reduced rate.

Degassing from the summit craters has continued since the beginning of the eruption. Activity was sometimes intense, but ash was rarely mixed with the gas. Strombolian activity that was vigorous at times continued from various vents at the bottom of Bocca Nuova.

Romano noted that the activity has the characteristics of a classic "slow eruption" (Romano and Sturiale, 1982) and is very similar to the 1819 eruption that occurred in the same area of the Valle del Bove.

Preliminary estimates indicated that ~40 x 106 m3 of lava had been ejected as of 9 January, with an effusion rate of around 15-18 m3/s. Measurements of the effusion rate on 11 January yielded a value of around 9 m3/s from the lava channel at 2,000 m altitude.

Reference. Romano, R., and Sturiale, C., 1982, The historic eruptions of Mt. Etna (volcanological data): Memoirs of the Geological Society of Italy, v. 23, p. 75-97.

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: R. Romano and T. Caltabiano, IIV; P. Carveni and M. Grasso, Univ di Catania; J. Tanguy, Univ de Paris.


Galeras (Colombia) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Galeras

Colombia

1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Vigorous SO2 emission; fumaroles to 400°C; seismicity declines

December seismicity had decreased notably from October and November. The number and energy of long-period events showed an overall decline through the end of the month (figure 50). High-frequency earthquakes and tremor episodes were small and infrequent.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Daily number of high-frequency earthquakes (top), and tremor episodes (second from top), and the daily number (second from bottom) and energy release (bottom) of long-period events at Galeras, December 1991. Courtesy of INGEOMINAS.

Fumarole temperatures of 195-220°C at "Las Deformes", 405-411°C at the "Besolima" fissure (both down slightly from mid-1991), and 89°C at "la Calvache" (similar to previous values), were measured during visits to the summit cone on 11 and 12 December. The maximum SO2 flux detected during the month was 3,440 t/d (9 December; figure 51), higher than in recent months, but measurements on five other days in December did not yield rates exceeding 600 t/d.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. SO2 flux measured by COSPEC at Galeras, December 1991. The maximum value, on 9 December, was 3,440 t/d. Courtesy of INGEOMINAS.

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.


Cerro Hudson (Chile) — December 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)


Overflight reveals thick tephra and disruption of summit glaciers; many early-eruption lava flows

The following, from J. Naranjo, describes observations made during a 21 January helicopter overflight.

Strong winds produced a continuous dense gray dusty haze along valleys and over mountains SE of the volcano. Weak fumarolic activity was visible at several summit vents and a small rockfall (landslide) on the caldera's N inner wall exposed altered rocks.

The N part of the 8-9 August fissure vent (16:8), 1.5 km long, ~200 m wide, and 100 m deep, showed sparsely distributed steam fumes. An ice dome, still present in the 8-9 August steam crater, was surrounded by beige-colored water. No fumarolic activity was observed.

The caldera glacier and the 12-15 August crater were covered by tephra, including bombs and coarse lapilli, estimated to be >10 m thick. Tilted steps were observed along the partially collapsed and intensively cracked concentric fractures around the central crater. Within the crater, glacier fragments and ponds of green and pale-brown water were visible. Weak gas emission from fumaroles (during warm weather) produced an intense sulfur odor. Another circular depression, ~ 300 m in diameter, had formed ~ 3 km E of the 12-15 August crater. Concentric cracks also developed around it, without accompanying collapse.

Lava flows on the NW flank of the caldera extended 1-1.5 km down the Ventisquero Huemules glacier from the rim fissure. Small flows were 2-3 m wide and 0.5 m thick; larger ones were up to 15 m wide and 1 m thick. These aa-like flows had developed conspicuous levees and central channels with curved ridges. They were partially covered by black ash from the 8-9 August eruption and had a dark reddish-brown color. Huemules glacier was intensively cracked and partially covered by layered lahar deposits and ash along erosional channels. Various green ponds were distributed along the glacier.

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: J. Naranjo, SERNAGEOMIN, Santiago; P. Ippach, GEOMAR.


Irazu (Costa Rica) — December 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)


Fumarolic activity; crater lake rises

Fieldwork on 19 November showed continued fumarolic activity at the base of the main crater, with temperatures of 90°C, similar to those of previous months. The crater lake had an average temperature of 26.7°C, and a pH of 3.0 (compared to 3.5 in September). Water level had risen 40 cm since October, and the lake radius had grown 5 m. The color of the lake had changed, probably from sediment input. Many subaqueous fumaroles were observed. The summit station (ICR) recorded 36 microearthquakes during November, a decline from the high rates during seismic swarms several months earlier.

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: G. Soto, R. Barquero, and Mario Fernández, ICE.


Izu-Tobu (Japan) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Izu-Tobu

Japan

34.9°N, 139.098°E; summit elev. 1406 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Earthquake swarm

A seismic swarm, centered ~5 km E of the Izu Peninsula coast at 10-15 km depth, began on 25 December at about 1900 and continued until the 27th (figures 8 and 9). A seismometer (in Izo City) 10 km from the epicentral area recorded about 300 shocks, the largest, M 2.9, on 26 December at 0238 and 0417. Three were felt (at Ajiro Weather Station) 15 km NW of the epicentral area, in the early morning of 26 December. No surface changes were observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Daily number of recorded earthquakes in the vicinity of the [Izu-Tobu] volcano group, 1989-91. Seismicity associated with the July 1989 eruption saturated instruments. Courtesy of JMA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Epicenters of earthquakes recorded in the vicinity of the [Izu-Tobu] volcano group, 25-27 December 1991. Courtesy of JMA.

The December swarm was the first in the area since 20-23 August, when a similar hypocenter distribution was observed. Earthquake swarms have been frequent in the area since 1978, but seismicity has been relatively low since the July 1989 submarine eruption of nearby Teishi Kaikyu.

Geologic Background. The Izu-Tobu volcano group (Higashi-Izu volcano group) is scattered over a broad, plateau-like area of more than 400 km2 on the E side of the Izu Peninsula. Construction of several stratovolcanoes continued throughout much of the Pleistocene and overlapped with growth of smaller monogenetic volcanoes beginning about 300,000 years ago. About 70 subaerial monogenetic volcanoes formed during the last 140,000 years, and chemically similar submarine cones are located offshore. These volcanoes are located on a basement of late-Tertiary volcanic rocks and related sediments and on the flanks of three Quaternary stratovolcanoes: Amagi, Tenshi, and Usami. Some eruptive vents are controlled by fissure systems trending NW-SE or NE-SW. Thirteen eruptive episodes have been documented during the past 32,000 years. Kawagodaira maar produced pyroclastic flows during the largest Holocene eruption about 3000 years ago. The latest eruption occurred in 1989, when a small submarine crater was formed NE of Ito City.

Information Contacts: JMA.


Kanlaon (Philippines) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Kanlaon

Philippines

10.412°N, 123.132°E; summit elev. 2435 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small ash emission

Mild ash emission occurred from Canlaon on 8 January [1992] from 1405 to 1426. The light-gray ash clouds rose 600-800 m above the crater before drifting SW. Ashfall was confined to the upper flanks. During the ash emission, the seismograph at Canalon City Observatory recorded short-duration harmonic tremor with a maximum double amplitude of 10 mm, and 15 volcanic earthquakes. Seismic activity then gradually decreased; 8 volcanic earthquakes were recorded shortly after the eruption, but only two small volcanic events were detected between 1600 and 0600 the next morning. Steam emission also gradually decreased from voluminous (filling 80% of the crater) to moderate (40% of the crater filled). As of 12 January, activity was characterized by weak to moderate white vapor emission, with plume heights of 50->100 m and vapor filling 20-40% of the crater. Prevailing winds carried the plume SW and SSW.

Seismic activity had remained at background levels (<5 events/day) from 15 February 1991 through the day before the eruption, and pre-eruption steam emission varied from wispy to weak. Geologists believe that the eruption was triggered by ground water suddenly contacting hot rock beneath the summit crater.

A PHIVOLCS quick-response team left for Canlaon on 9 January. They issued no recommendation for evacuation, but advised residents of the area not to venture within the previously delineated danger zone (5 km radius) and to heed precautionary and safety measures.

Geologic Background. Kanlaon volcano (also spelled Canlaon), the most active of the central Philippines, forms the highest point on the island of Negros. The massive andesitic stratovolcano is dotted with fissure-controlled pyroclastic cones and craters, many of which are filled by lakes. The largest debris avalanche known in the Philippines traveled 33 km SW from Kanlaon. The summit contains a 2-km-wide, elongated northern caldera with a crater lake and a smaller, but higher, historically active vent, Lugud crater, to the south. Historical eruptions, recorded since 1866, have typically consisted of phreatic explosions of small-to-moderate size that produce minor ashfalls near the volcano.

Information Contacts: PHIVOLCS.


Kilauea (United States) — December 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)


Small lava flows emerge from tube system; new lava covers Pu`u `O`o Crater floor

Lava production . . . continued as of early January, but at a steadily declining rate (figure 84). December surface activity was limited to a continuation of the lava breakouts . . . from the main (Wahaula) tube at ~570 m (1,860 ft) elevation. The breakouts had initially produced viscous, spiny pahoehoe that accumulated near the tube, but a change to fluid pahoehoe at the beginning of December persisted for the rest of the month despite a continued decline in volume. The longest flows from this site reached ~500 m (1,660 ft) elevation during the first week in December, but later flows generally did not extend below 530 m (1,750 ft) asl.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Lava produced by Kilauea's Kupaianaha vent, 1986-91 (stippled) and by the episode-49 fissure vents, November 1991 (black). A star marks the site of December 1991 lava breakouts. Courtesy of HVO.

Lava production in the bottom of Pu`u `O`o crater was temporarily halted by collapse associated with the E-49 fissure eruption. Renewed activity in Pu`u `O`o was first observed on 4 December and increased through the month, although it was not as vigorous as in September and October. The former lava pond remained empty, but a former vent N of the pond and a new vent against the SW crater wall were sources of activity ranging from low-volume spattering to upwelling of crater-floor lava flows. Toward the end of December, flows from both vents were frequently observed cascading into the former lava pond. The crater floor, which had been covered with talus after dropping at least 20 m, was gradually resurfaced with fresh pahoehoe. By the end of the month, most of the rockfall rubble was covered and the crater floor was nearly flat.

Low-amplitude volcanic tremor continued in the East rift zone. After a modest swarm of long-period summit earthquakes at 5-13 km depth 7-17 December, increased shallow (<5 km deep) microearthquake activity was observed along the East rift zone ~2-5.5 km from the summit crater rim (between Puhimau and Pauahi craters). This segment of the East rift zone had persistently shown low levels of seismicity, but the number of events had greatly decreased after the onset of E-49. An increase in shallow, long-period summit events began the last week in December. Their number peaked 31 December-1 January, totaling nearly 400, then decreased later that week.

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: C. Heliker and P. Okubo, HVO.


Kirishimayama (Japan) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Kirishimayama

Japan

31.934°N, 130.862°E; summit elev. 1700 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued steaming and weak tremor

Seismicity remained at low levels through mid-January, but weak tremor continued to be recorded by a seismometer 1.7 km SW of the summit crater. Steam began to emerge from the crater on 24 November, and steady steam emission to 100-200 m height was continuing in mid-January.

Geologic Background. Kirishimayama is a large group of more than 20 Quaternary volcanoes located north of Kagoshima Bay. The late-Pleistocene to Holocene dominantly andesitic group consists of stratovolcanoes, pyroclastic cones, maars, and underlying shield volcanoes located over an area of 20 x 30 km. The larger stratovolcanoes are scattered throughout the field, with the centrally located Karakunidake being the highest. Onamiike and Miike, the two largest maars, are located SW of Karakunidake and at its far eastern end, respectively. Holocene eruptions have been concentrated along an E-W line of vents from Miike to Ohachi, and at Shinmoedake to the NE. Frequent small-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the 8th century.

Information Contacts: JMA.


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — December 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 emission and glow

"A decline in activity persisted throughout December. Crater 2 activity consisted of continuous emissions of white to grey (with occasional blue) vapours, accompanied by deep loud-to-low rumbling and explosion noises. Steady weak red glows were visible over the crater mouth during most nights. Crater 3 continued to gently and occasionally forcefully emit grey ash clouds, without any audible sounds. No night glows were observed. Despite the decline in observed surface activity, seismicity increased somewhat in December. The daily total of low-frequency events ranged from 4 to 52 . . . ."

Further Reference. Mori, J., Patia, H., McKee, C., Itikarai, I., Lowenstein, P., De Saint-Ours, P., and Talai, B., 1989, Seismicity associated with eruptive activity at Langila volcano, Papua New Guinea: JVGR, v. 38, p. 243-255.

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: D. Lolok and B. Talai, RVO.


Loihi (United States) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Loihi

United States

18.92°N, 155.27°W; summit elev. -975 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Earthquake swarm

An earthquake swarm centered near Loihi Seamount began with a sudden burst of events between 0200 and 0300 on 19 December 1991, with the most vigorous activity continuing through 1900 the next day. By late afternoon on 23 Dec, seismic stations on Hawaii were no longer detecting any activity in the Loihi area. Of the more than 400 recorded events, 16 exceeded M 3.0. Hypocenters were recomputed with the HYPOINVERSE program (figure 5). The swarm events were located beneath the steep E flank and appeared to be concentrated at 10-20 km depth, although recording geometry does not allow tight constraint of focal depths. Work is continuing to re-evaluate the velocity model and hypocentral estimates. No seismic instruments or hydrophones were functioning on or near the Loihi edifice during the swarm.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Hypocenters of swarm events near Loihi Seamount, 19-23 December 1991. Locations are from the HYPOINVERSE program. Courtesy of HVO.

A plot of 1986-90 events (figure 6) outlines Loihi's summit. The summit region was surveyed in 1986; an August/September 1991 SeaBeam resurvey from the NOAA ship Discoverer revealed no significant morphologic changes exceeding the 5-15 m resolution of the comparison technique.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Hypocenters of swarm events near Loihi Seamount, 1986-90, located using the HYPOINVERSE program. Courtesy of HVO.

Geologic Background. Loihi seamount, the youngest volcano of the Hawaiian chain, lies about 35 km off the SE coast of the island of Hawaii. Loihi (which is the Hawaiian word for "long") has an elongated morphology dominated by two curving rift zones extending north and south of the summit. The summit region contains a caldera about 3 x 4 km wide and is dotted with numerous lava cones, the highest of which is about 975 m below the sea surface. The summit platform includes two well-defined pit craters, sediment-free glassy lava, and low-temperature hydrothermal venting. An arcuate chain of small cones on the western edge of the summit extends north and south of the pit craters and merges into the crests prominent rift zones. Deep and shallow seismicity indicate a magmatic plumbing system distinct from that of Kilauea. During 1996 a new pit crater was formed at the summit, and lava flows were erupted. Continued volcanism is expected to eventually build a new island; time estimates for the summit to reach the sea surface range from roughly 10,000 to 100,000 years.

Information Contacts: P. Okubo, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory; W. Chadwick, Oregon State University; C. Fox, NOAA.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — December 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)


Ash emission; incandescent lava fragments roll down flank valley

"Activity . . . remained at a low level. Main Crater was inactive throughout December except for a very weak emission of white vapour on the 23rd. Southern Crater activity consisted mostly of weak white vapour emissions. A forceful ejection produced a thick, dark ash cloud that rose several hundred meters above the summit on 5 December from 1105 to 1120, accompanied by intermittent roaring and rumbling noises. Incandescent lava fragments were observed rolling down the SW valley, and there was light ashfall on the NW and SW sides of the island. Light ashfalls also occurred on 20 and 26 December. No night glow was visible above the summit during the month. The seismograph was not operational."

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: D. Lolok and B. Talai, RVO.


Merapi (Indonesia) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Merapi

Indonesia

7.54°S, 110.446°E; summit elev. 2910 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Hot material moves down flanks

The press reported that hot "lava" began moving down Merapi's flanks on 21 January at about midnight. There were unconfirmed descriptions of damage to plantations in one area, but officials reported no evacuations.

Geologic Background. Merapi, one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, lies in one of the world's most densely populated areas and dominates the landscape immediately north of the major city of Yogyakarta. It is the youngest and southernmost of a volcanic chain extending NNW to Ungaran volcano. Growth of Old Merapi during the Pleistocene ended with major edifice collapse perhaps about 2,000 years ago, leaving a large arcuate scarp cutting the eroded older Batulawang volcano. Subsequent growth of the steep-sided Young Merapi edifice, its upper part unvegetated due to frequent activity, began SW of the earlier collapse scarp. Pyroclastic flows and lahars accompanying growth and collapse of the steep-sided active summit lava dome have devastated cultivated lands on the western-to-southern flanks and caused many fatalities.

Information Contacts: UPI.


Niigata-Yakeyama (Japan) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Niigata-Yakeyama

Japan

36.921°N, 138.036°E; summit elev. 2400 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased steaming

Steaming from vents near the summit has increased slightly since October. A seismometer installed near the volcano on 20 December recorded only 1 weak earthquake by 16 January. Steam emission has continued since late April 1987 (figure 1), when a small ash ejection occurred. Larger plumes in April 1989 also included ash.

Geologic Background. Niigata-Yakeyama, one of several Japanese volcanoes named Yakeyama ("Burning Mountain"), is a very young andesitic-to-dacitic lava dome in Niigata prefecture in central Honshu, near the Japan Sea. The small volcano rises to 2400 m and was constructed on a base of Tertiary mountains 2000 m high beginning about 3100 years ago. Three major magmatic eruptions took place in historical time, producing pyroclastic flows and surges and lava flows that traveled mainly down the Hayakawa river valley to the north and NW. The first of these eruptions took place about 1000 years ago (in 887 and possibly 989 CE) and produced the Hayakawa pyroclastic flow, which traveled about 20 km to reach the Japan Sea, and the massive Mae-yama lava flow, which traveled about 6.5 km down the Hayakawa river valley. The summit lava dome was emplaced during the 1361 eruption, and the last magmatic eruption took place in 1773 CE. Eruptive activity since 1773 has consisted of relatively minor phreatic explosions from several radial fissures and explosion craters that cut the summit and flanks of the dome.

Information Contacts: JMA.


Pacaya (Guatemala) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Stronger explosions; October lava extrusion continues

During 1991, 14 eruptive episodes were documented at Pacaya, with the strongest in July and August (figure 9 and 16:7 & 9). Continuous gas emission, punctuated by occasional explosive activity, characterized the activity until 28 September, when explosions began to eject pyroclastic material to 25-35 m above the main crater. Weak to moderate explosions were more frequent in October. Extrusion of lava onto the SW flank began on 27 October, and this flow remained active as of early January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Number of seismically recorded explosions (dashed lines) and B-type events (solid lines) at Pacaya, 1991. Stars mark the strongest eruptive episodes. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

Strong explosions on 8 January ejected substantial amounts of pyroclastic material to 200-400 m height. The explosions destroyed part of the active crater, and were accompanied by acoustic waves that were heard and felt over a radius of 15 km. Seismic activity increased for 7 hours on 8 January, with 80-150 recorded explosions/hour accompanied by tremor of constant frequency and higher amplitude. Explosion shocks and tremor declined after the 8 January activity. INSIVUMEH's volcanology section notified the Emergency Committee and recommended that appropriate precautions be taken. Preparations were made to evacuate the 5,000 residents nearest the volcano, but activity declined and none were evacuated. Vigorous explosions resumed on 13 January.

Geologic Background. Eruptions from Pacaya, one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes, are frequently visible from Guatemala City, the nation's capital. This complex basaltic volcano was constructed just outside the southern topographic rim of the 14 x 16 km Pleistocene Amatitlán caldera. A cluster of dacitic lava domes occupies the southern caldera floor. The post-caldera Pacaya massif includes the ancestral Pacaya Viejo and Cerro Grande stratovolcanoes and the currently active Mackenney stratovolcano. Collapse of Pacaya Viejo between 600 and 1500 years ago produced a debris-avalanche deposit that extends 25 km onto the Pacific coastal plain and left an arcuate somma rim inside which the modern Pacaya volcano (Mackenney cone) grew. A subsidiary crater, Cerro Chino, was constructed on the NW somma rim and was last active in the 19th century. During the past several decades, activity has consisted of frequent strombolian eruptions with intermittent lava flow extrusion that has partially filled in the caldera moat and armored the flanks of Mackenney cone, punctuated by occasional larger explosive eruptions that partially destroy the summit of the growing young stratovolcano.

Information Contacts: Sección de Vulcanología, INSIVUMEH; Reuters.


Pinatubo (Philippines) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Pinatubo

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Steaming continues but seismicity declines; lahar threat persists

Seismic activity at Pinatubo has declined notably during the past few months. As of early January, seismicity was characterized by high-frequency earthquakes of small to moderate magnitude, perhaps related to adjustments along local faults or within the caldera area. The number of recorded volcanic earthquakes ranged from 10 to 17/day. The events were seldom felt. A six-station telemetered seismic network will continue to monitor the volcano. Ash emission from the caldera has not been observed for 4 months, and steaming has not intensified. Geologists noted the possibility of future dome growth.

Pinatubo's status was officially reduced to Alert Level 2 on 4 December. A danger zone with a radius of 10 km remains in effect because of the risk of secondary explosions from the still-hot pyroclastic materials. Lahars will continue to threaten low-lying areas susceptible to flooding, particularly those that have previously been affected.

Kelvin Rodolfo notes that several typhoons typically strike central Luzon Island annually, but none have passed near Pinatubo since the moderate storm (Yunya) during the eruption's paroxysmal phase. Yunya's center was only about 100 km ENE of the summit at 1100 on 15 June, causing wind shifts that brought significant ashfall to the area S of the volcano, where normal seasonal wind patterns would not have deposited ash. Beginning at about 0400 and continuing throughout the day, heavy rains associated with the leading edge of the storm triggered lahars, many of the debris-flow type, down all of Pinatubo's major valleys, destroying several bridges.

Rains carried by the NE trade winds were abnormally strong on Pinatubo's E side in June and July, generating frequent lahars on that flank. Lahars were rare on the W flank until the SW monsoonal rains, delayed for about 2 months, began in late July. Although >115 cm of monsoonal rain fell 12-26 August, a major typhoon can produce that much rain in 1-2 days. The 1991 lahars were primarily hyperconcentrated flows, whereas intense typhoon rain is more likely to generate debris flows. Most of the eruption debris remains in place.

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: PHIVOLCS; Kelvin Rodolfo, Univ of Illinois.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Rabaul

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity declines slightly

"There was a slight decrease in seismicity in December. The month's total number of caldera earthquakes was 146 . . . . The maximum daily count was 18, recorded on 2 November. Of the 146 earthquakes, only three (of ML >0.5) could be located, on the E, SE, and W parts of the caldera seismic zone respectively."

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

Information Contacts: D. Lolok and B. Talai, RVO.


Santa Maria (Guatemala) — December 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)


Strong gas emission, frequent explosions, and block avalanches from lava dome

During 3 hours of observation following a pre-dawn ascent of Santa María on 4 January, the dome was continuously active, dominantly on its ESE side at Caliente vent. Copious steam emission was continuous from many fumaroles on the E half of the dome, with concentrated emission accompanied by subdued, pulsating roaring from a 25-m-diameter crater at Caliente's summit.

Episodic violent phreatic explosions occurred at intervals of 7-25 minutes, ejecting billowing, cauliflower-shaped steam clouds to heights ranging from 800 to 2500 m above the dome. There was no relationship between repose intervals and the size of subsequent explosions. Each explosion was heralded by a loud roar, lasting 2-4 minutes, from steam jets on the floor or rim of Caliente. Small blocks were commonly ejected onto the E flank of the dome during the early phases of each explosion. Minor ash from dissipating clouds generally drifted SE, lightly dusting vegetation.

Sporadic spalling of large blocks (estimated <=2 m in size) from the dome's E and S flanks indicated that the Caliente lobe was growing by intrusion. One small avalanche of rubble produced an apparent small pyroclastic surge that reached the S foot of the dome. Seared vegetation to several hundred meters SE of the dome suggested that larger pyroclastic surges had recently occurred.

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: J.P. Lockwood, USGS; Sección de Vulcanología, INSIVUMEH.


Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Ulawun

Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Vapor emission and seismicity

"Ulawun remained in a non-erupting state, releasing only weak to moderate white vapour. A slight increase in seismicity occurred in December after waning temporarily at the beginning of October (BGVN 16:10). Seismic activity consisted of low-frequency earthquakes, with daily counts fluctuating between 10 and 182. High-frequency volcanic earthquakes were also recorded occasionally through the month. Ground deformation continued to show no significant change."

Geologic Background. The symmetrical basaltic-to-andesitic Ulawun stratovolcano is the highest volcano of the Bismarck arc, and one of Papua New Guinea's most frequently active. The volcano, also known as the Father, rises above the N coast of the island of New Britain across a low saddle NE of Bamus volcano, the South Son. The upper 1,000 m is unvegetated. A prominent E-W escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and E flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side, and a flank lava-flow complex lies to the south of this valley. Historical eruptions date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions were mildly explosive until 1967, but after 1970 several larger eruptions produced lava flows and basaltic pyroclastic flows, greatly modifying the summit crater.

Information Contacts: D. Lolok and B. Talai, RVO.


Unzendake (Japan) — December 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 dome extrusion and pyroclastic flows; vigorous seismicity; more than 8,000 still evacuated

The following is from Setsuya Nakada, with additional information from JMA.

Lava domes continued to grow through early January, with growth occurring both exogenously and endogenously (figures 35 and 36). Talus from the domes buried their SE slopes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Oblique view of the dome complex at Unzen, 7 January 1992. Extrusion of dome 6 began in early December. Courtesy of Setsuya Nakada.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Successive dome surfaces traced from photographs taken from a fixed point about 4.4 km N of the dome complex at Unzen, illustrating growth July-early September 1991 (top) and September 1991-early January 1992 (bottom). Courtesy of Setsuya Nakada.

Extrusion of a new lava dome (6) toward the SE began in early December. By late December, its initial 2-lobed petal structure had become poorly defined and its advance had nearly stopped, as lava blocks began falling directly from the head of the dome, eroding the southern margin of dome 4. On 7 January, dome 6 was about 370 m long, 180 m wide, and 80 m high. Collapsed dome material eroded and buried dome 2, which was no longer visible by mid-December.

Dome 5, emerging since 21 November at the head of dome 4, grew upward about 50 m in mid-December to become the highest of the six 1991 domes. Its peak, at about 1,360 m above sea level, had reached the height of the volcano's summit (Fugen-dake). A crack formed in the top of dome 5, roughly perpendicular to the NW-SE-trending graben that developed on the lava-supply vent and widened in late December.

Pyroclastic flows, generated mainly from dome 6, advanced as much as 2.5 km SE down the Mizunashi and Tansansui valleys. The number of seismically recorded pyroclastic-flow events increased from 149 in November to 395 in December, continuing at a rate of 10-20/day through mid-January (figure 37). Ash clouds generated by pyroclastic flows, reddish brown to dark brown early in the eruption, had become milky colored, and those from the largest flows reached 2 km height. Failure of dome portions as large as 104-105 m3 in volume seldom triggered pyroclastic flows, but remained simple rockfalls. This suggested to geologists a decline in the fragmentation force (and perhaps the auto-explosivity) of falling lava blocks, probably implying a decreased pore pressure.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Daily number of recorded earthquakes (top), with number (middle) and duration (bottom) of seismically recorded pyroclastic flows at Unzen, May 1991-early January 1992. Arrows represent the first appearance of domes 1-6. Courtesy of JMA.

Plumes from the NW margin of the former Jigoku-ato Crater had become weaker and less frequent by mid-December, and ash-laden columns were rare. White-bluish, sulfur-rich, acidic gas was discharged continuously from Jigoku-ato through cracks in dome 3. Strong steam-rich gas emission accompanied the bluish plumes, especially the day after heavy rains. The SO2 discharge rate from Jigoku-ato ranged from 50 to 350 metric tons/day (t/d), probably averaging about 200 t/d for June-December 1991. The Cl/SO4 ratio of water-soluble ash components increased from 0.5 in May to 10-15 in early August, then decreased to lower levels (analyses by the Kusatsu-Shirane Volcano Observatory, Tokyo Institute of Technology).

The seismic swarm that began beneath the dome on 24 October was continuing as of mid-January, becoming the longest and most vigorous since lava extrusion began in May. Earthquakes recorded in December totaled 4253, the highest monthly figure since activity began to increase in July 1990 (table 8 and figure 38).

Table 8. Monthly seismicity and number of seismically recorded pyroclastic flow events at Unzen, 1991. Courtesy of JMA.

Month Earthquakes Small tremor episodes Pyroclastic flows
Jan 1991 571 15 0
Feb 1991 937 139 0
Mar 1991 735 99 0
Apr 1991 727 176 0
May 1991 1957 696 143
Jun 1991 230 1509 492
Jul 1991 133 867 326
Aug 1991 559 1285 292
Sep 1991 2102 1237 521
Oct 1991 208 902 438
Nov 1991 3933 664 149
Dec 1991 4253 1331 395
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Daily number of recorded earthquakes at Unzen, 1989-early January 1992. The first two arrows mark phreatic eruptions on 17 November 1990 and 12 February 1991; the remaining six represent the first appearance of lava domes 1-6. Courtesy of JMA.

The evacuation zone has remained almost unchanged since September, with a total of 8,125 evacuees in December (5,526 from Shimabara city, 2,599 from Fukae town). Shimabara Railway traffic resumed on 27 December.

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: S. Nakada, Kyushu Univ; JMA.


Westdahl (United States) — December 1991 Citation iconCite this Report

Westdahl

United States

54.516°N, 164.65°W; summit elev. 1563 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Tephra emission declines

The eruption ... continued until 15 January when a significant decrease in activity was noted. Bad weather prevented further observations of the lava flow. Aircraft pilots reported steam and ash plumes to 3.7-7.0 km altitude on 16-20 December, and 4.9 km altitude on 21-23 December. Light ashfall was noted on 16, 25, and 26 December at False Pass, 90 km NE. Residents of False Pass reported hearing rumbling for several nights prior to 30 December. Analyses of ash samples (collected 9 and 25 December) indicated a basaltic andesite composition, with [54.7]% SiO2.

Steam clouds rose to 4.6-4.9 km altitude on 2 and 3 January. Ash clouds were again observed on 8 and 9 January, rising to 2.1-2.4 km altitude. Satellite images during the late afternoon on the 9th showed the plume extending about 150 km SE. A dark spot appeared in satellite images of the volcano for several days prior to 13 January, indicating high temperatures. A black ash cloud was reported to 4 km on 13 January.

The eruption was greatly diminished in intensity on 15 January. Observers noted a small amount of steam at ground level in the vicinity of the eruption site, but there was no sign of a vertical plume. That day, an elongate area of slightly elevated temperature on the volcano's NE flank was visible in a satellite image.

[A 23 January overflight provided the first clear view of the lava flow since 3 December. The flow appeared to have widened to cover 2-3 times its 3 December area, but its front had not advanced significantly.]

Geologic Background. Westdahl is a broad glacier-covered volcano occupying the SW end of Unimak Island. Two peaks protrude from the summit plateau, and a new crater formed in 1978 cuts the summit icecap. The volcano has a somewhat of a shield-like morphology and forms one of the largest volcanoes of the Aleutian Islands. The sharp-topped, conical Pogromni stratovolcano, 6 km N, rises several hundred meters higher than Westdahl, but is moderately glacially dissected and presumably older. Many satellitic cones of postglacial age are located along a NW-SE line cutting across the summit of Westdahl. Some of the historical eruptions attributed to the eroded Pogromni may have originated instead from Westdahl (Miller et al. 1998). The first historical eruption occurred in 1795. An 8-km-long fissure extending east from the summit produced explosive eruptions and lava flows in 1991.

Information Contacts: AVO.


Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) — December 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)


Bombs and gas from deep October vent; occasional stronger explosions; deflation

During 5-6 December fieldwork, the new crater (Wade; figure 15) formed in mid-October continuously emitted a large white ash-poor gas plume. Booming and roaring noises were continuous, with some louder explosions that had only an occasional, delayed correlation with pulses of increased plume emission. Bombs (>1 m long) were ejected in near-vertical trajectories but rarely reached above the crater rim. Some of the few that landed on the rim were visibly incandescent on 6 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Sketch map of White Island's 1978/91 crater complex and adjacent parts of the main crater floor, showing positions of vents as of 6 December 1991. Courtesy of DSIR.

The observations suggested to DSIR geologists that Wade Crater's conduit was relatively straight, extending down to the top of the magma body beneath White Island, perhaps at 300-400 m below sea level. Although most of the bombs produced by the resulting Strombolian activity did not escape the deep cylindrical conduit, occasional larger eruptions had scattered bombs (to 0.5 m across) over the main crater floor to 500 m from the vent. Comparison of 5-6 December photos with those taken 28 November revealed many new bombs, but all were ash-coated and did not appear to have been erupted in the last few days. A few altered lithic blocks (to 0.3 m across) occupied fresh impact craters > 200 m SE of the vent. The blocks were not coated with ash and were probably from recent explosions.

Since activity began at Wade Crater, almost 180 mm of tephra had been deposited ~100 m SE of the vent, and 55 mm had fallen at a site 100 m farther SE. Gray scoriaceous ash, lapilli, and bomb layers from the magma column alternated with red, thermally altered ash derived from reworked crater-fill sediments reamed out of the conduit. Major and trace element analyses at the Univ of Canterbury showed no significant changes between bombs collected on 29 August 1991 and samples collected in 1977 and 1979.

Fumarole discharge in the main crater remained at pressures and temperatures that were lower than normal. The highest fumarole temperature measured on 5 December was 353°C (at Noisy Nellie); the same vent was 411°C on 29 August.

Deformation data showed that deflation E of the active vent (in the Donald Mound area) had continued since the previous survey in late August, at similar rates. Subsidence had resumed in areas NE and SE of Donald Mound that had registered inflation in the August survey.

In the days following the 24 November explosion seismic data showed only a few A- and B-type events. Periods of intermittent low-amplitude low-frequency tremor were associated with a pair of E-type (explosion) shocks on 29 and 30 November; the eruption associated with the 30 November event was observed at 1006. The next day, another E-type event and observed eruption occurred at 1103. A gradual onset of medium-frequency tremor was noted ~2 hours later. No more E-type events were recorded through 9 December. A portable seismograph operated during the 6 December fieldwork recorded 2-3-second bursts of tremor-like vibration with frequencies of about 5 Hz during three of the stronger booming sounds from Wade Crater (at 1053, 1101, and 1148). However, similar tremor-like bursts were also recorded during the visit without accompanying loud booms.

Intermittent low-amplitude tremor began 4-6 December, strengthened 7-8 December, and reached high intensity on the 9th, when an eruption was next observed. A column rose to ~2,000 m at about 1440, apparently causing substantial ashfall on the island. Transmission of seismic data was intermittent on 9 December, and no data were available during the eruption.

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: I. Nairn and C. Wood, 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