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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

Krakatau (Indonesia) Tephra and steam explosions in the crater lake; explosions in December 2019 build a tephra cone

Mayotte (France) Seismicity and deformation, with submarine E-flank volcanism starting in July 2018

Fernandina (Ecuador) Fissure eruption produced lava flows during 12-13 January 2020

Masaya (Nicaragua) Lava lake persists with lower temperatures during August 2019-January 2020

Reventador (Ecuador) Nearly daily ash emissions and frequent incandescent block avalanches August 2019-January 2020

Pacaya (Guatemala) Continuous explosions, small cone, and lava flows during August 2019-January 2020

Kikai (Japan) Single explosion with steam and minor ash, 2 November 2019

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) Intermittent ash, gas-and-steam, and SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies during January 2018-December 2019

Erebus (Antarctica) Lava lakes persist through 2019

Sangay (Ecuador) Continuing ash emissions, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars through December 2019

Shishaldin (United States) Multiple lava flows, pyroclastic flows, lahars, and ashfall events during October 2019 through January 2020

Sangeang Api (Indonesia) Ash emissions and lava flow extrusion continue during May 2019 through January 2020



Krakatau (Indonesia) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

6.102°S, 105.423°E; summit elev. 155 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Tephra and steam explosions in the crater lake; explosions in December 2019 build a tephra cone

Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait between Indonesia’s Java and Sumatra Islands experienced a major caldera collapse around 535 CE; it formed a 7-km-wide caldera ringed by three islands. Remnants of this volcano joined to create the pre-1883 Krakatau Island which collapsed during the major 1883 eruption. Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau), constructed beginning in late 1927 within the 1883 caldera (BGVN 44:03, figure 56), was the site of over 40 eruptive episodes until 22 December 2018 when a large explosion and flank collapse destroyed most of the 338-m-high edifice and generated a deadly tsunami (BGVN 44:03). The near-sea level crater lake inside the remnant of Anak Krakatau was the site of numerous small steam and tephra explosions from February (BGVN 44:08) through November 2019. A larger explosion in December 2019 produced the beginnings of a new cone above the surface of crater lake. Activity from August 2019 through January 2020 is covered in this report with information provided by the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, referred to as Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG). Aviation reports are provided by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and photographs are from the PVMBG webcam and visitors to the island.

Explosions were reported on more than ten days each month from August to October 2019. They were recorded based on seismicity, but webcam images also showed black tephra and steam being ejected from the crater lake to heights up to 450 m. Activity decreased significantly after the middle of November, although smaller explosions were witnessed by visitors to the island. After a period of relative quiet, a larger series of explosions at the end of December produced ash plumes that rose up to 3 km above the crater; the crater lake was largely filled with tephra after these explosions. Thermal activity persisted throughout the period of August 2019-January 2020. The wattage of Radiative Power increased from August through mid-October, and then decreased through January 2020 (figure 96).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. Thermal activity persisted at Anak Krakatau from 20 March 2019-January 2020. The wattage of Radiative Power increased from August through mid-October, and then decreased through January 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during August-November 2019. The new profile of Anak Krakatau rose to about 155 m elevation as of August 2019, almost 100 m less than prior to the December 2018 explosions and flank collapse (figure 97). Smaller explosions continued during August 2019 and were reported by PVMBG in 12 different VONAs (Volcano Observatory Notice to Aviation) on days 1, 3, 6, 17, 19, 22, 23, 25, and 28. Most of the explosions lasted for less than two minutes, according to the seismic data. PVMBG reported steam plumes of 25-50 m height above the sea-level crater on 20 and 21 August. They reported a visible ash cloud on 22 August; it rose to an altitude of 457 m and drifted NNE according to the VONA. In their daily update, they noted that the eruption plume of 250-400 m on 22 August was white, gray, and black. The Darwin VAAC reported that the ash plume was discernable on HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery for a short period of time. PVMBG noted ten eruptions on 24 August with white, gray, and black ejecta rising 100-300 m. A webcam installed at month’s end provided evidence of diffuse steam plumes rising 25-150 m above the crater during 28-31 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Only one tree survived on the once tree-covered spit off the NE end of Sertung Island after the December 2018 tsunami from Anak Krakatau covered it with ash and debris. The elevation of Anak Krakatau (center) was about 155 m on 8 August 2019, almost 100 m less than before the explosions and flank collapse. Panjang Island is on the left, and 746-m-high Rakata, the remnant of the 1883 volcanic island, is behind Anak Krakatau on the right. Courtesy of Amber Madden-Nadeau.

VONAs were issued for explosions on 1-3, 11, 13, 17, 18, 21, 24-27 and 29 September 2019. The explosion on 2 September produced a steam plume that rose 350 m, and dense black ash and ejecta which rose 200 m from the crater and drifted N. Gray and white tephra and steam rose 450 m on 13 and 17 September; ejecta was black and gray and rose 200 m on 21 September (figure 98). During 24-27 and 29 September tephra rose at least 200 m each day; some days it was mostly white with gray, other days it was primarily gray and black. All of the ejecta plumes drifted N. On days without explosions, the webcam recorded steam plumes rising 50-150 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. Explosions of steam and dark ejecta were captured by the webcam on Anak Krakatau on 21 (left) and 26 (right) September 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia and PVMBG.

Explosions were reported daily during 12-14, 16-20, 25-27, and 29 October (figure 99). PVMBG reported eight explosions on 19 October and seven explosions the next day. Most explosions produced gray and black tephra that rose 200 m from the crater and drifted N. On many of the days an ash plume also rose 350 m from the crater and drifted N. The seismic events that accompanied the explosions varied in duration from 45 to 1,232 seconds (about 20 minutes). The Darwin VAAC reported the 12 October eruption as visible briefly in satellite imagery before dissipating near the volcano. The first of four explosions on 26 October also appeared in visible satellite imagery moving NNW for a short time. The webcam recorded diffuse steam plumes rising 25-150 m above the crater on most days during the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. A number of explosions at Anak Krakatau were captured by the webcam and visitors near the island during October 2019, shown here on the 12th, 14th, 17th, and 29th. Black and gray ejecta and steam plumes jetted several hundred meters high from the crater lake during the explosions. Webcam images courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia, with 12 October 2019 (top left) via VolcanoYT. Bottom left photo on 17 October courtesy of Christoph Sator.

Five VONAs were issued for explosions during 5-7 November, and one on 13 November 2019. The three explosions on 5 November produced 200-m-high plumes of steam and gray and black ejecta and ash plumes that rose 200, 450, and 550 m respectively; they all drifted N (figure 100). The Darwin VAAC reported ash drifting N in visible imagery for a brief period also. A 350-m-high ash plume accompanied 200-m-high ejecta on 6 November. Tephra rose 150-300 m from the crater during a 43 second explosion on 7 November. The explosion reported by PVMBG on 13 November produced black tephra and white steam 200 m high that drifted N. For the remainder of the month, when not obscured by fog, steam plumes rose daily 25-150 m from the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. PVMBG’s KAWAH webcam captured an explosion with steam and dark ejecta from the crater lake at Anak Krakatau on 5 November 2019. Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia.

A joint expedition with PVMBG and the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) installed geophysical equipment on Anak Krakatau and Rakata during 12 and 13 November 2019 (figure 101). Visitors to the island during 19-23 and 22-24 November recorded the short-lived landscape and continuing small explosions of steam and black tephra from the crater lake (figures 102 and 103).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. A joint expedition to Anak Krakatau with PVMBG and the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) installed geophysical equipment on Anak Krakatau and Rakata (background, left) during 12 and 13 November 2019. Images of the crater lake from the same spot (left) in December and January show the changes at the island (figure 108). Monitoring equipment installed near the shore sits over the many layers of ash and tephra that make up the island (right). Courtesy of Anna Perttu.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 102.The crater lake at Anak Krakatau during a 19-23 November 2019 visit was the site of continued explosions with jets of steam and tephra that rose as high as 30 m. Courtesy of Andrey Nikiforov and Volcano Discovery, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. The landscape of Anak Krakatau recorded the rapidly evolving sequence of volcanic events during November 2019. Fresh ash covered recent lava near the shoreline on 22 November 2019 (top left). Large blocks of gray tephra (composed of other tephra fragments) were surrounded by reddish brown smaller fragments in the area between the crater and the ocean on 23 November 2019 (top right). Explosions of steam and black tephra rose tens of meters from the crater lake on 23 November 2019 (bottom). Courtesy of and copyright by Pascal Blondé.

Activity during December 2019-January 2020. Very little activity was recorded for most of December 2019. The webcam captured daily images of diffuse steam plumes rising 25-50 m above the crater which occasionally rose to 150 m. A new explosion on 28 December produced black and gray ejecta 200 m high that drifted N; the explosion was similar to those reported during August-November. A new series of explosions from 30 December 2019 to 1 January 2020 produced ash plumes which rose significantly higher than the previous explosions, reaching 2.4-3.0 km altitude and drifting S, E, and SE according to PVMBG (figure 104). They were initially visible in satellite imagery and reported drifting SW by the Darwin VAAC. By 31 December meteorological clouds prevented observation of the ash plume but a hotspot remained visible for part of that day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 104.The KAWAH webcam at Anak Krakatau captured this image of incandescent ejecta exploding from the crater lake on 30 December 2019 near the start of a new sequence of large explosions. Courtesy of PVMBG and Alex Bogár.

The explosions on 30 and 31 December 2019 were captured in satellite imagery (figure 105) and appeared to indicate that the crater lake was largely destroyed and filled with tephra from a new growing cone, according to Simon Carn. This was confirmed in both satellite imagery and ground-based photography in early January (figures 106 and 107).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Satellite imagery of the explosions at Anak Krakatau on 30 and 31 December 2019 showed dense steam rising from the crater (left) and a thermal anomaly visible through moderate cloud cover (right). Left image courtesy of Simon Carn, and copyright by Planet Labs, Inc. Right image uses Atmospheric Penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8a) to show the thermal anomaly at the base of the steam plume, courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Sentinel-2 images of Anak Krakatau before (left, 21 December 2019) and after (right, 13 January 2020) explosions on 30 and 31 December 2019 show the filling in of the crater lake with new volcanic material. Natural color rendering based on bands 4,3, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. The crater lake at Anak Krakatau changed significantly between the first week of December 2019 (left) and 8 January 2020 (right) after explosions on 30 and 31 December 2019. Compare with figure 101, taken from the same location in mid-November 2019. Left image courtesy of Piotr Smieszek. Right image courtesy of Peter Rendezvous.

Steam plumes rose 50-200 m above the crater during the first week of January 2020. An explosion on 7 January produced dense gray ash that rose 200 m from the crater and drifted E. Steam plume heights varied during the second week, with some plumes reaching 300 m above the crater. Multiple explosions on 15 January produced dense, gray and black ejecta that rose 150 m. Fog obscured the crater for most of the second half of the month; for a brief period, diffuse steam plumes were observed 25-1,000 m above the crater.

General Reference: Perttu A, Caudron C, Assink J D, Metz D, Tailpied D, Perttu B, Hibert C, Nurfiani D, Pilger C, Muzli M, Fee D, Andersen O L, Taisne B, 2020, Reconstruction of the 2018 tsunamigenic flank collapse and eruptive activity at Anak Krakatau based on eyewitness reports, seismo-acoustic and satellite observations, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 541:116268. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116268.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Amber Madden-Nadeau, Oxford University (URL: https://www.earth.ox.ac.uk/people/amber-madden-nadeau/, https://twitter.com/AMaddenNadeau/status/1159458288406151169); Anna Perttu, Earth Observatory of Singapore (URL: https://earthobservatory.sg/people/anna-perttu); Simon Carn, Michigan Tech University (URL: https://www.mtu.edu/geo/department/faculty/carn/; https://twitter.com/simoncarn/status/1211793124089044994); VolcanoYT, Indonesia (URL: https://volcanoyt.com/, https://twitter.com/VolcanoYTz/status/1182882409445904386/photo/1; Christoph Sator (URL: https://twitter.com/ChristophSator/status/1184713192670281728/photo/1); Tom Pfeiffer, Volcano Discovery (URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/); Pascal Blondé, France (URL: https://pascal-blonde.info/portefolio-krakatau/, https://twitter.com/rajo_ameh/status/1199219837265960960); Alex Bogár, Budapest (URL: https://twitter.com/AlexEtna/status/1211396913699991557); Piotr (Piter) Smieszek, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia (URL: http://www.lombok.pl/, https://twitter.com/piotr_smieszek/status/1204545970962231296); Peter Rendezvous (URL: https://www.facebook.com/peter.rendezvous ); Wulkany swiata, Poland (URL: http://wulkanyswiata.blogspot.com/, https://twitter.com/Wulkany1/status/1214841708862693376).


Mayotte (France) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Mayotte

France

12.83°S, 45.17°E; summit elev. 660 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity and deformation, with submarine E-flank volcanism starting in July 2018

Mayotte is a volcanic island in the Comoros archipelago between the eastern coast of Africa and the northern tip of Madagascar. A chain of basaltic volcanism began 10-20 million years ago and migrating W, making up four principal volcanic islands, according to the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) and Cesca et al. (2020). Before May 2010, only two seismic events had been felt by the nearby community within recent decades. New activity since May 2018 consists of dominantly seismic events and lava effusion. The primary source of information for this report through February 2020 comes from semi-monthly reports from the Réseau de Surveillance Volcanologique et Sismologique de Mayotte (REVOSIMA), a cooperative program between the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), the Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), and the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF-IPGP); Lemoine et al. (2019), the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), and the Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER).

Seismicity was the dominant type of activity recorded in association with a new submarine eruption. On 10 May 2018, the first seismic event occurred at 0814, detected by the YTMZ accelerometer from the French RAP Network, according to BRGM and Lemoine et al. (2019). Seismicity continued to increase during 13-15 May 2018, with the strongest recorded event for the Comoros area occurring on 15 May at 1848 and two more events on 20-21 May (figure 1). At the time, no surface effusion were directly observed; however, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) instruments were deployed to monitor any ground motion (Lemoine et al. 2019).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. A graph showing the number of daily seismic events greater than M 3.5 occurring offshore of Mayotte from 10 May 2018 through 15 February 2020. Seismicity significantly decreased in July 2018, but continued intermittently through February 2020, with relatively higher seismicity recorded in late August and mid-September 2018. Courtesy of IPGP and REVOSIMA.

Seismicity decreased dramatically after June 2018, with two spikes in August and September (see figure 1). Much of this seismicity occurred offshore 50 km E of Mayotte Island (figure 2). The École Normale Supérieure, the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF-IPGP), and the REVOSIMA August 2019 bulletin reported that measurements from the GNSS stations and Teria GPS network data indicated eastward surface deformation and subsidence beginning in July 2018. Based on this ground deformation data Lemoine et al. (2019) determined that the eruptive phase began fifty days after the initial seismic events occurred, on 3 July 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Maps of seismic activity offshore near Mayotte during May 2019. Seismic swarms occurred E of Mayotte Island (top) and continued in multiple phases through October 2019. New lava effusions were observed 50 km E of Petite Terre (bottom). Bottom image has been modified with annotations; courtesy of IPGP, BRGM, IFREMER, CNRS, and University of Paris.

Between 2 and 18 May 2019, an oceanographic campaign (MAYOBS 1) discovered a new submarine eruption site 50 km E from the island of Mayotte (figure 2). The director of IPGP, Marc Chaussidon, stated in an interview with Science Magazine that multibeam sonar waves were used to determine the elevation (800 m) and diameter (5 km) of the new submarine cone (figure 3). In addition, this multibeam sonar image showed fluid plumes within the water column rising from the center and flanks of the structure. According to REVOSIMA, these plumes rose to 1 km above the summit of the cone but did not breach the ocean surface. The seafloor image (figure 3) also indicated that as much as 5 km3 of magma erupted onto the seafloor from this new edifice during May 2019, according to Science Magazine.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Seafloor image of the submarine vent offshore of Mayotte created with multibeam sonar from 2 to 18 May 2019. The red line is the outline of the volcanic cone located at approximately 3.5 km depth. The blue-green color rising from the peak of the red outline represents fluid plumes within the water column. Courtesy of IPGP.

On 17 May 2019, a second oceanographic campaign (MAYOBS 2) discovered new lava flows located 5 km S of the new eruptive site. BRGM reported that in June a new lava flow had been identified on the W flank of the cone measuring 150 m thick with an estimated volume of 0.3 km3 (figure 4). According to REVOSIMA, the presence of multiple new lava flows would suggest multiple effusion points. Over a period of 11 months (July 2018-June 2019) the rate of lava effusion was at least 150-200 m3/s; between 18 May to 17 June 2019, 0.2 km3 of lava was produced, and from 17 June to 30 July 2019, 0.3 km3 of lava was produced. The MAYOBS 4 (19 July 2019-4 August 2019) and SHOM (20-21 August 2019) missions revealed a new lava flow formed between 31 July and 20 August to the NW of the eruptive site with a volume of 0.08 km3 and covering 3.25 km2.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Bathymetric map showing the location of the new lava flow on the W flank of the submarine cone offshore to the E of Mayotte Island. The MAYOBS 2 campaign was launched in June 2019 (left) and MAYOBS 4 was launched in late July 2019 (right). Courtesy of BRGM.

During the MAYOBS 4 campaign in late July 2019, scientists dredged the NE flank of the cone for samples and took photographs of the newly erupted lava (figure 5). Two dives found the presence of pillow lavas. When samples were brought up to the surface, they exploded due to the large amount of gas and rapid decompression.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Photographs taken using the submersible interactive camera system (SCAMPI) of newly formed pillow lavas (top) and a vesicular sample (bottom) dredged near the new submarine eruptive site at Mayotte in late July 2019. Courtesy of BRGM.

During April-May 2019 the rate of ground deformation slowed. Deflation was also observed up to 90 km E of Mayotte in late October 2019 and consistently between August 2019 and February 2020. Seismicity continued intermittently through February 2020 offshore E of Mayotte Island, though the number of detected events started to decrease in July 2018 (see figure 1). Though seismicity and deformation continued, the most recent observation of new lava flows occurred during the MAYOBS 4 and SHOM campaigns on 20 August 2019, as reported in REVOSIMA bulletins.

References: Cesca S, Heimann S, Letort J, Razafindrakoto H N T, Dahm T, Cotton F, 2020. Seismic catalogues of the 2018-2019 volcano-seismic crisis offshore Mayotte, Comoro Islands. Nat. Geosci. 13, 87-93. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-019-0505-5.

Lemoine A, Bertil D, Roulle A, Briole P, 2019. The volcano-tectonic crisis of 2018 east of Mayotte, Comoros islands. Preprint submitted to EarthArXiv, 28 February 2019. https://doi.org/10.31223/osf.io/d46xj.

Geologic Background. Mayotte, located in the Mozambique Channel between the northern tip of Madagascar and the eastern coast of Africa, consists two main volcanic islands, Grande Terre and Petite Terre, and roughly twenty islets within a barrier-reef lagoon complex (Zinke et al., 2005; Pelleter et al., 2014). Volcanism began roughly 15-10 million years ago (Pelleter et al., 2014; Nougier et al., 1986), and has included basaltic lava flows, nephelinite, tephrite, phonolitic domes, and pyroclastic deposits (Nehlig et al., 2013). Lavas on the NE were active from about 4.7 to 1.4 million years and on the south from about 7.7 to 2.7 million years. Mafic activity resumed on the north from about 2.9 to 1.2 million years and on the south from about 2 to 1.5 million years. Several pumice layers found in cores on the barrier reef-lagoon complex indicate that volcanism likely occurred less than 7,000 years ago (Zinke et al., 2003). More recent activity that began in May 2018 consisted of seismicity and ground deformation occurring offshore E of Mayotte Island (Lemoine et al., 2019). One year later, in May 2019, a new subaqueous edifice and associated lava flows were observed 50 km E of Petite Terre during an oceanographic campaign.

Information Contacts: Réseau de Surveillance Volcanologique et Sismologique de Mayotte (REVOSIMA), a cooperative program of a) Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), b) Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), c) Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF-IPGP); (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr/reseau-de-surveillance-volcanologique-sismologique-de-mayotte); Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 14 route nationale 3, 27 ème km, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr); Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), 3 avenue Claude-Guillemin, BP 36009, 45060 Orléans Cedex 2, France (URL: https://www.brgm.fr/); Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), 1625 route de Sainte-Anne, CS 10070, 29280 Plouzané, France (URL: https://wwz.ifremer.fr/); Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), 3 rue Michel-Ange, 75016 Paris, France (URL: http://www.cnrs.fr/); École Normale Supérieure, 45 rue d'Ulm, F-75230 Paris Cedex 05, France (URL: https://www.ens.psl.eu/); Université de Paris, 85 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris, France (URL: https://u-paris.fr/en/498-2/); Roland Pease, Science Magazine (URL: https://science.sciencemag.org/, article at https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/ship-spies-largest-underwater-eruption-ever) published 21 May 2019.


Fernandina (Ecuador) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Fernandina

Ecuador

0.37°S, 91.55°W; summit elev. 1476 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fissure eruption produced lava flows during 12-13 January 2020

Fernandina is a volcanic island in the Galapagos islands, around 1,000 km W from the coast of mainland Ecuador. It has produced nearly 30 recorded eruptions since 1800, with the most recent events having occurred along radial or circumferential fissures around the summit crater. The most recent previous eruption, starting on 16 June 2018, lasted two days and produced lava flows from a radial fissure on the northern flank. Monitoring and scientific reports come from the Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN).

A report from IG-EPN on 12 January 2020 stated that there had been an increase in seismicity and deformation occurring during the previous weeks. On the day of the report, 11 seismic events had occurred, with the largest magnitude of 4.7 at a depth of 5 km. Shortly before 1810 that day a circumferential fissure formed below the eastern rim of the La Cumbre crater, at about 1.3-1.4 km elevation, and produced lava flows down the flank (figure 39). A rapid-onset seismic swarm reached maximum intensity at 1650 on 12 January (figure 40); a second increase in seismicity indicating the start of the eruption began around 70 minutes later (1800). A hotspot was observed in NOAA / CIMSS data between 1800 and 1810, and a gas plume rising up to 2 km above the fissure dispersed W to NW. The eruption lasted 9 hours, until about 0300 on 13 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Lava flows erupting from a circumferential fissure on the eastern flank of Fernandina on 12 January 2020. Photos courtesy of Parque Nacional Galápagos.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Graph showing the Root-Mean-Square (RMS) amplitude of the seismic signals from the FER-1 station at Fernandina on 12-13 January 2020. The graph shows the increase in seismicity leading to the eruption on the 12th (left star), a decrease in the seismicity, and then another increase during the event (right star). Courtesy of S. Hernandez, IG-EPN (Report on 13 January 2020).

A report issued at 1159 local time on 13 January 2020 described a rapid decrease in seismicity, gas emissions, and thermal anomalies, indicating a rapid decline in eruptive activity similar to previous events in 2017 and 2018. An overflight that day confirmed that the eruption had ended, after lava flows had extended around 500 m from the crater and covered an area of 3.8 km2 (figures 41 and 42). Seismicity continued on the 14th, with small volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes occurring less than 500 m below the surface. Periodic seismicity was recorded through 13-15 January, though there was an increase in seismicity during 17-22 January with deformation also detected (figure 43). No volcanic activity followed, and no additional gas or thermal anomalies were detected.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. The lava flow extents at Fernandina of the previous two eruptions (4-7 September 2017 and 16-21 June 2018) and the 12-13 January 2020 eruption as detected by FIRMS thermal anomalies. Thermal data courtesy of NASA; figure prepared by F. Vásconez, IG-EPN (Report on 13 January 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. This fissure vent that formed on the E flank of Fernandina on 12 January 2020 produced several lava flows. A weak gas plume was still rising when this photo was taken the next day, but the eruption had ceased. Courtesy of Parque Nacional Galápagos.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Soil displacement map for Fernandina during 10 and 16 January 2020, with the deformation generated by the 12 January eruption shown. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Report on 23 January 2020).

Geologic Background. Fernandina, the most active of Galápagos volcanoes and the one closest to the Galápagos mantle plume, is a basaltic shield volcano with a deep 5 x 6.5 km summit caldera. The volcano displays the classic "overturned soup bowl" profile of Galápagos shield volcanoes. Its caldera is elongated in a NW-SE direction and formed during several episodes of collapse. Circumferential fissures surround the caldera and were instrumental in growth of the volcano. Reporting has been poor in this uninhabited western end of the archipelago, and even a 1981 eruption was not witnessed at the time. In 1968 the caldera floor dropped 350 m following a major explosive eruption. Subsequent eruptions, mostly from vents located on or near the caldera boundary faults, have produced lava flows inside the caldera as well as those in 1995 that reached the coast from a SW-flank vent. Collapse of a nearly 1 km3 section of the east caldera wall during an eruption in 1988 produced a debris-avalanche deposit that covered much of the caldera floor and absorbed the caldera lake.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos (DPNG), Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador (URL: http://www.galapagos.gob.ec/).


Masaya (Nicaragua) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake persists with lower temperatures during August 2019-January 2020

Masaya is a basaltic caldera located in Nicaragua and contains the Nindirí, San Pedro, San Juan, and Santiago craters. The currently active Santiago crater hosts a lava lake, which has remained active since December 2015 (BGVN 41:08). The primary source of information for this August 2019-January 2020 report comes from the Instituto Nicareguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER) and satellite -based imagery and thermal data.

On 16 August, 13 September, and 11 November 2019, INETER took SO2 measurements by making a transect using a mobile DOAS spectrometer that sampled for gases downwind of the volcano. Average values during these months were 2,095 tons/day, 1,416 tons/day, and 1,037 tons/day, respectively. August had the highest SO2 measurements while those during September and November were more typical values.

Satellite imagery showed a constant thermal anomaly in the Santiago crater at the lava lake during August 2019 through January 2020 (figure 82). According to a news report, ash was expelled from Masaya on 15 October 2019, resulting in minor ashfall in Colonia 4 de Mayo (6 km NW). On 21 November thermal measurements were taken at the fumaroles and near the lava lake using a FLIR SC620 thermal camera (figure 83). The temperature measured 287°C, which was 53° cooler than the last time thermal temperatures were taken in May 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed the consistent presence of an active lava lake within the Santiago crater at Masaya during August 2019 through January 2020. Images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Thermal measurements taken at Masaya on 21 November 2019 with a FLIR SC620 thermal camera that recorded a temperature of 287°C. Courtesy of INETER (Boletin Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua, Noviembre, 2019).

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed intermittent low-power thermal anomalies compared to the higher-power ones before May 2019 (figure 84). The thermal anomalies were detected during August 2019 through January 2020 after a brief hiatus from early may to mid-June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Thermal anomalies occurred intermittently at Masaya during 21 February 2019 through January 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua (URL: http://www.ineter.gob.ni/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); La Jornada (URL: https://www.lajornadanet.com/, article at https://www.lajornadanet.com/index.php/2019/10/16/volcan-masaya-expulsa-cenizas/#.Xl6f8ahKjct).


Reventador (Ecuador) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Reventador

Ecuador

0.077°S, 77.656°W; summit elev. 3562 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Nearly daily ash emissions and frequent incandescent block avalanches August 2019-January 2020

Reventador is an andesitic stratovolcano located in the Cordillera Real, Ecuador. Historical eruptions date back to the 16th century, consisting of lava flows and explosive events. The current eruptive activity has been ongoing since 2008 with previous activity including daily explosions with ash emissions, and incandescent block avalanches (BGVN 44:08). This report covers volcanism from August 2019 through January 2020 using information primarily from the Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), the Washington Volcano Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various infrared satellite data.

During August 2019 to January 2020, IG-EPN reported almost daily explosive eruptions and ash plumes. September had the highest average of explosive eruptions while January 2020 had the lowest (table 11). Ash plumes rose between a maximum of 1.2 to 2.5 km above the crater during this reporting period with the highest plume height recorded in December. The largest amount of SO2 gases produced was during the month of October with 502 tons/day. Frequently at night during this reporting period, crater incandescence was observed and was occasionally accompanied by incandescent block avalanches traveling as far as 900 m downslope from the summit of the volcano.

Table 11. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Reventador from August 2019 through January 2020. Data courtesy of IG-EPN (August to January 2020 daily reports).

Month Average Number of Explosions Max plume height above the crater Max SO2
Aug 2019 26 1.6 km --
Sep 2019 32 1.7 km 428 tons/day
Oct 2019 29 1.3 km 502 tons/day
Nov 2019 25 1.2 km 432 tons/day
Dec 2019 25 2.5 km 331 tons/day
Jan 2020 12 1.7 km --

During the month of August 2019, between 11 and 45 explosions were recorded every day, frequently accompanied by gas-and-steam and ash emissions (figure 119); plumes rose more than 1 km above the crater on nine days. On 20 August the ash plume rose to a maximum 1.6 km above the crater. Summit incandescence was seen at night beginning on 10 August, continuing frequently throughout the rest of the reporting period. Incandescent block avalanches were reported intermittently beginning that same night through 26 January 2020, ejecting material between 300 to 900 m below the summit and moving on all sides of the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 119. An ash plume rising from the summit of Reventador on 1 August 2019. Courtesy of Radio La Voz del Santuario.

Throughout most of September 2019 gas-and-steam and ash emissions were observed almost daily, with plumes rising more than 1 km above the crater on 15 days, according to IG-EPN. On 30 September, the ash plume rose to a high of 1.7 km above the crater. Each day, between 18 and 72 explosions were reported, with the latter occurring on 19 September. At night, crater incandescence was commonly observed, sometimes accompanied by incandescent material rolling down every flank.

Elevated seismicity was reported during 8-15 October 2019 and almost daily gas-and-steam and ash emissions were present, ranging up to 1.3 km above the summit. Every day during this month, between 13 and 54 explosions were documented and crater incandescence was commonly observed at night. During November 2019, gas-and-steam and ash emissions rose greater than 1 km above the crater except for 10 days; no emissions were reported on 29 November. Daily explosions ranged up to 42, occasionally accompanied by crater incandescence and incandescent ejecta.

Washington VAAC notices were issued almost daily during December 2019, reporting ash plumes between 4.6 and 6 km altitude throughout the month and drifting in multiple directions. Each day produced 5-52 explosions, many of which were accompanied by incandescent blocks rolling down all sides of the volcano up to 900 m below the summit. IG-EPN reported on 11 December that a gas-and-steam and ash emission column rose to a maximum height of 2.5 km above the crater, drifting SW as was observed by satellite images and reported by the Washington VAAC.

Volcanism in January 2020 was relatively low compared to the other months of this reporting period. Explosions continued on a nearly daily basis early in the month, ranging from 20 to 51. During 5-7 January incandescent material ejected from the summit vent moved as block avalanches downslope and multiple gas-and-steam and ash plumes were produced (figures 120, 121, and 122). After 9 January the number of explosions decreased to 0-16 per day. Ash plumes rose between 4.6 and 5.8 km altitude, according to the Washington VAAC.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 120. Night footage of activity on 5 (top) and 6 (bottom) January 2020 at the summit of Reventador, producing a dense, dark gray ash plume and ejecting incandescent material down multiple sides of the volcano. This activity is not uncommon during this reporting period. Courtesy of Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 121. An explosion at Reventador on 7 January 2020, which produced a dense gray ash plume. Courtesy of Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 122. Night footage of the evolution of an eruption on 7 January 2020 at the summit of Reventador, which produced an ash plume and ejected incandescent material down multiple sides of the volcano. Courtesy of Martin Rietze, used with permission.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed frequent and strong thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit during 21 February 2019 through January 2020 (figure 123). In comparison, the MODVOLC algorithm reported 24 thermal alerts between August 2019 and January 2020 near the summit. Some thermal anomalies can be seen in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery throughout this reporting period, even with the presence of meteorological clouds (figure 124). These thermal anomalies were accompanied by persistent gas-and-steam and ash plumes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 123. Thermal anomalies at Reventador persisted during 21 February 2019 through January 2020 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power). Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 124. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Reventador from August 2019 to January 2020 showing a thermal hotspot in the central summit crater summit. In the image on 7 January 2020, the thermal anomaly is accompanied by an ash plume. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Reventador is the most frequently active of a chain of Ecuadorian volcanoes in the Cordillera Real, well east of the principal volcanic axis. The forested, dominantly andesitic Volcán El Reventador stratovolcano rises to 3562 m above the jungles of the western Amazon basin. A 4-km-wide caldera widely breached to the east was formed by edifice collapse and is partially filled by a young, unvegetated stratovolcano that rises about 1300 m above the caldera floor to a height comparable to the caldera rim. It has been the source of numerous lava flows as well as explosive eruptions that were visible from Quito in historical time. Frequent lahars in this region of heavy rainfall have constructed a debris plain on the eastern floor of the caldera. The largest historical eruption took place in 2002, producing a 17-km-high eruption column, pyroclastic flows that traveled up to 8 km, and lava flows from summit and flank vents.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); 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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Radio La Voz del Santuario (URL: https://www.facebook.com/Radio-La-Voz-del-Santuario-126394484061111/, posted at: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2630739100293291&id=126394484061111); Martin Rietze, Taubenstr. 1, D-82223 Eichenau, Germany (URL: https://mrietze.com/, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5LzAA_nyNWEUfpcUFOCpJw/videos).


Pacaya (Guatemala) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuous explosions, small cone, and lava flows during August 2019-January 2020

Pacaya is a highly active basaltic volcano located in Guatemala with volcanism consisting of frequent lava flows and Strombolian explosions originating in the Mackenney crater. The previous report summarizes volcanism that included multiple lava flows, Strombolian activity, avalanches, and gas-and-steam emissions (BGVN 44:08), all of which continue through this reporting period of August 2019 to January 2020. The primary source of information comes from reports by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH) in Guatemala and various satellite data.

Strombolian explosions occurred consistently throughout this reporting period. During the month of August 2019, explosions ejected material up to 30 m above the Mackenney crater. These explosions deposited material that contributed to the formation of a small cone on the NW flank of the Mackenney crater. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes rose up to 600 m above the crater drifting S and W. Multiple incandescent lava flows were observed traveling down the N and NW flanks, measuring up to 400 m long. Small to moderate avalanches were generated at the front of the lava flows, including incandescent blocks that measured up to 1 m in diameter. Occasionally incandescence was observed at night from the Mackenney crater.

In September 2019 seismicity was elevated compared to the previous month, registering a maximum of 8,000 RSAM (Realtime Seismic Amplitude Measurement) units. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes that rose up to 1 km above the crater drifted generally S as far as 3 km from the crater. Strombolian explosions continued, ejecting material up to 100 m above the crater rim. At night and during the early morning, crater incandescence was observed. Incandescent lava flows traveled as much as 600 m down the N and NW flanks toward the Cerro Chino crater (figure 116). On 21 September two lava flows descended the SW flank. Constant avalanches with incandescent blocks measuring 1 m in diameter occurred from the front of many of these lava flows.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 116. Webcam image of Pacaya on 25 September 2019 showing thermal signatures and the point of emission on the NNW flank at night using Landsat 8 (Nocturnal) imagery (left) and a daytime image showing the location of these lava effusions (right) along with gas-and-steam emissions from the active crater. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

Weak explosions continued through October 2019, ejecting material up to 75 m above the crater and building a small cone within the crater. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes rose 400-800 m above the crater, drifting W and NW and extending up to 4 km from the crater during the week of 26 October-1 November. Lava flows measuring up to 250 m long, originating from the Mackenney crater were descending the N and NW flanks (figure 117). Avalanches carrying large blocks 1 m in diameter commonly occurred at the front of these lava flows.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 117. Photo of lava flows traveling down the flanks of Pacaya taken between 28 September 2019 and 4 October. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (28 September 2019 to 4 October Weekly Report).

Continuing Strombolian explosions in November 2019 ejected material 15-75 m above the crater, which then contributed to the formation of the new cone. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes rose 100-600 m above the crater drifting in different directions and extending up to 2 km. Multiple lava flows from the Mackenney crater moving down all sides of the volcano continued, measuring 50-700 m long. Avalanches were generated at the front of the lava flows, often moving blocks as large as 1 m in diameter. The number of lava flows decreased during 2-8 November and the following week of 9-15 November no lava flows were observed, according to INSIVUMEH. During the week of 16-22 November, a small collapse occurred in the Mackenney crater and explosive activity increased during 16, 18, and 20 November, reaching RSAM units of 4,500. At night and early morning in late November crater incandescence was visible. On 24 November two lava flows descended the NW flank toward the Cerro Chino crater, measuring 100 m long.

During December 2019, much of the activity remained the same, with Strombolian explosions originating from two emission points in the Mackenney crater ejecting material 75-100 m above the crater; white and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes to 100-300 m above the crater drifted up to 1.5 km downwind to the S and SW. Lava flows descended the S and SW flanks reaching 250-600 m long (figure 118). On 29 December seismicity increased, reaching 5,000 RSAM units.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 118. Lava flows moving to the S and SW at Pacaya on 31 December 2019. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (28 December 2019 to 3 January 2020 Weekly Report).

Consistent Strombolian activity continued into January 2020 ejecting material 25-100 m above the crater. These explosions deposited material inside the Mackenney crater, contributing to the formation of a small cone. White and occasionally blue fumaroles consisting of mostly water vapor were observed drifting in different directions. At night, summit incandescence and lava flows were visible descending the N, NW, and S flanks with the flow on the NW flank traveling toward the Cerro Chino crater.

During August 2019 through January 2020, multiple lava flows and bright thermal anomalies (yellow-orange) within the crater were seen in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (figures 119 and 120). In addition, constant strong thermal anomalies were detected by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system during 21 February 2019 through January 2020 within 5 km of the summit (figure 121). A slight decrease in energy was seen from May to June and August to September. Energy increased again between November and December. According to the MODVOLC algorithm, 37 thermal alerts were recorded during August 2019 through January 2020.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 119. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya showing thermal activity (bright yellow-orange) during August 2019 to November. All images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 120. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya showing thermal activity (bright yellow-orange) during December 2019 through January 2020. All images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 121. The MIROVA thermal activity graph (log radiative power) at Pacaya during 21 February 2019 to January 2020 shows strong, frequent thermal anomalies through January with a slight decrease in energy between May 2019 to June 2019 and August 2019 to September 2019. 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).


Kikai (Japan) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kikai

Japan

30.793°N, 130.305°E; summit elev. 704 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Single explosion with steam and minor ash, 2 November 2019

The 19-km-wide submerged Kikai caldera at the N end of Japan’s Ryukyu Islands was the source of one of the world's largest Holocene eruptions about 6,300 years ago, producing large pyroclastic flows and abundant ashfall. During the last century, however, only intermittent minor ash emissions have characterized activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima island, the larger subaerial fragment of the Kikai caldera; several events have included limited ashfall in communities on nearby islands. The most recent event was a single day of explosions on 4 June 2013 that produced ash plumes and minor ashfall on the flank. A minor episode of increased seismicity and fumarolic activity was reported in late March 2018, but no ash emissions were reported. A new single-day event on 2 November 2019 is described here with information provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

JMA reduced the Alert Level to 1 on 27 April 2018 after a brief increase in seismicity during March 2018 (BGVN 45:05); no significant changes in volcanic activity were observed for the rest of the year. Steam plumes rose from the summit crater to heights around 1,000 m; the highest plume rose 1,800 m. Occasional nighttime incandescence was recorded by high-sensitivity surveillance cameras. SO2 measurements made during site visits in March, April, and May indicated amounts ranging from 300-1,500 tons per day, similar to values from 2017 (400-1,000 tons per day). Infrared imaging devices indicated thermal anomalies from fumarolic activity persisted on the N and W flanks during the three site visits. A field survey of the SW flank on 25 May 2018 confirmed that the crater edge had dropped several meters into the crater since a similar survey in April 2007. Scientists on a 19 December 2018 overflight had observed fumarolic activity.

There were no changes in activity through October 2019. Weak incandescence at night continued to be periodically recorded with the surveillance cameras (figure 9). A brief eruption on 2 November 2019 at 1735 local time produced a gray-white plume that rose slightly over 1,000 m above the Iodake crater rim (figure 10). As a result, JMA raised the Alert Level from 1 to 2. During an overflight the following day, a steam plume rose a few hundred meters above the summit, but no further activity was observed. No clear traces of volcanic ash or other ejecta were found around the summit (figure 11). Infrared imaging also showed no particular changes from previous measurements. Discolored seawater continued to be observed around the base of the island in several locations.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Incandescence at night on 25 October 2019 was observed at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) with the Iwanogami webcam. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 1st year of Reiwa [2019]).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. The Iwanogami webcam captured a brief gray-white ash and steam emission rising above the Iodake crater rim on Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 2 November 2019 at 1738 local time. The plume rose slightly over 1,000 m before dissipating. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 1st year of Reiwa [2019]).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. During an overflight of Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 3 November 2019 no traces of ash were seen from the previous day’s explosion; only steam plumes rose a few hundred meters above the summit, and discolored water was present in a few places around the shoreline. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 1st year of Reiwa [2019]).

For the remainder of November 2019, steam plumes rose up to 1,300 m above the summit, and nighttime incandescence was occasionally observed in the webcam. Seismic activity remained low and there were no additional changes noted through January 2020.

Geologic Background. Kikai is a mostly submerged, 19-km-wide caldera near the northern end of the Ryukyu Islands south of Kyushu. It was the source of one of the world's largest Holocene eruptions about 6,300 years ago when rhyolitic pyroclastic flows traveled across the sea for a total distance of 100 km to southern Kyushu, and ashfall reached the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The eruption devastated southern and central Kyushu, which remained uninhabited for several centuries. Post-caldera eruptions formed Iodake lava dome and Inamuradake scoria cone, as well as submarine lava domes. Historical eruptions have occurred at or near Satsuma-Iojima (also known as Tokara-Iojima), a small 3 x 6 km island forming part of the NW caldera rim. Showa-Iojima lava dome (also known as Iojima-Shinto), a small island 2 km E of Tokara-Iojima, was formed during submarine eruptions in 1934 and 1935. Mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have occurred during the past few decades from Iodake, a rhyolitic lava dome at the eastern end of Tokara-Iojima.

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


Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — January 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)


Intermittent ash, gas-and-steam, and SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies during January 2018-December 2019

Nevado del Ruiz is a glaciated stratovolcano located in Colombia. It is most known for the eruption on 13 November 1985 that produced an ash plume and pyroclastic flows onto the glacier, triggering a lahar and killing approximately 25,000 people in the towns of Armero (46 km W) and Chinchiná (34 km E). Since the September 1985-July 1991 eruption, volcanism has occurred dominantly at the Arenas crater, with eruptive periods during February 2012-July 2013 and November 2014-May 2017 (BGVN 42:06 and 44:12). The previous eruption included ash and gas-and-steam plumes, ashfall, and thermal anomalies through May 2017, after which no clear observations of ongoing activity were available until an ash plume was seen in satellite and webcam images on 18 December 2017. This report provides data and observations from January 2018 through December 2019 using information primarily from reports by the Servicio Geologico Colombiano and the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales, the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) notices, and various satellite data.

Summary of activity during December 2017-December 2019. Although data is incomplete, the current eruptive period is considered to have begun with the emission of an ash plume on 18 December 2017. The Washington VAAC issued an advisory that day for an ash plume to 6 km that was moving west and dispersing, further describing it as a "thin veil of volcanic ash and gasses" that was seen in visible satellite imagery, NOAA/CIMSS, and supported by webcam imagery.

Reports of significant ash plumes visible in satellite imagery were infrequent in 2018 and 2019, with a few notable pulses in July 2018, February-March 2019, and August-September 2019 (figure 95). Sentinel-2 thermal satellite data in comparison with Suomi NPP/VIIRS sensor data, and the MODVOLC algorithm for MODIS data registered infrared thermal hotspots intermittently throughout 2018 to 2019 with more frequent anomalies during January-March 2018, August 2018, October 2018-February 2019, and November-December 2019; observations during March-June of each year were low. Identification of SO2 emissions were frequent and consistent during all of 2018-2019 (figure 96).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Timeline summary of observed activity at Nevado del Ruiz from January 2018 through December 2019. VAAC reports typically indicate a significant ash plume. Satellite-based SO2 data is variable with respect to volume of emitted gas, but reflects a point source at the volcano. For Sentinel-2, MODVOLC, and VIIRS data, the dates indicated represents detected thermal anomalies. White areas indicate no activity was observed, which may also be due to meteoric clouds. Data courtesy of Washington VAAC, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Sentinel Hub Playground, HIGP, and NASA Worldview using the "Fire and Thermal Anomalies" layer.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. Examples of SO2 plumes from Nevado del Ruiz detected by the Aura/OMI instrument during 12 May (top left), 7 October (top middle), and 29 November 2018 (top right) and 9 January (bottom left), 30 March (bottom middle), and 6 October 2019 (bottom right). Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows weak thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit occurring dominantly between October 2018 through March 2019 (figure 97). Between April and October 2019, the number of thermal anomalies was low, registering eight during this time. The number of thermal signatures increased at the beginning of November 2019 and continued through the rest of 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Weak thermal anomalies at Nevado del Ruiz for 25 September 2018 through December 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (log radiative power) occurred mostly during December 2018 through March 2019. Activity was low during April to October 2019 with renewed signatures in November 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Seismicity that occurred during 2018-2019 was located mainly in the Arenas crater and consisted of low-frequency (LF) and very low-frequency (VLF) earthquakes and volcanic tremors, many of which were associated with minor gas-and-steam and ash emissions confirmed through webcams. The number of earthquakes reported by SGC fluctuated each week, but the energy remained relatively consistent. The highest magnitude earthquake that occurred during 2018 was on 26 October reaching 3.1 ML (local magnitude) and during 2019 the largest was 2.8 ML on 21 April.

Activity during 2018. Throughout 2018, gas-and-steam plumes, mostly composed of water vapor and sulfur dioxide frequently occurred, rising to a maximum of 2.2 km above the Arenas crater on 24 March. Weak thermal anomalies were seen intermittently in thermal satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 and NASA Worldview during 4 January through March and September to December (figure 98). Activity during March to April 2018 was relatively low and consisted dominantly of gas-and-steam emissions, low-energy seismicity, and intermittent thermal anomalies. Between 9 May and 5 August, no thermal signatures were detected.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery detected thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) within the Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz that were mostly visible during the beginning and last months of 2018. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Ash plumes were seen in GOES-EAST satellite imagery, through webcams, and by SGC personnel. The first ash plume of 2018 occurred on 21 April at 0800, six days after NASA Worldview detected a thermal anomaly within the Arenas crater. The plume rose 6 km altitude and drifted NW as seen in GOES-EAST satellite imagery and reported by the Washington VAAC. Weak gas-and-steam and ash emissions were confirmed by webcams on 22 July, associated with a volcanic tremor. On 11 August 2018, another ash plume was reported in a VAAC notice rising 6.7 km altitude drifting W. During the week of 21 August, SGC reported that seismicity in the Arenas crater was associated with minor gas-and-steam and ash emissions, as confirmed by webcams.

The number of ash plumes increased during September (figure 99), one of which reached a maximum altitude of 7.3 km on 2 September. On 5 September, a continuous volcanic tremor occurred and was accompanied by an ash plume rising 7 km altitude drifting W, according to a Washington VAAC report. Ashfall was observed during the week of 11 September in Manizales (30 km NW) and Villamaría (27 km NW). A new volcanic tremor occurred on 15 September and was accompanied by various ash emissions reaching 1.4 km above the crater and drifting NW as confirmed by PNNN, inhabitants within the vicinity of the volcano, and the Washington VAAC. Seismicity continuing into the weeks of 25 September and 2 October was also accompanied by ash emissions, rising to an altitude of 1.4 km above the crater on 22 September. The number of reported gas-and-steam and ash emissions decreased after September; ash emissions were reported by SGC on 19, 22, 26, and 31 October, 6, 9, and 17 November, and 14 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. Webcam images of gas-and-steam and ash plumes rising from Nevado del Ruiz during 2018. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano.

Activity during 2019. Gas-and-steam and ash emissions continued intermittently through 2019, with an increased number of ash emissions compared to the previous year. Infrared hotspots were detected in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery primarily during January-February 2019 and December 2019, often accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions (figure 100). An ash plume was seen in GOES-EAST satellite imagery on 2 January 2019, rising to an altitude of 5.8 km and drifting NW, according to a Washington VAAC report. On 7 January, ashfall in Manizales and Villamaría was observed. A thermal hotspot was detected in multispectral imagery, according to a Washington VAAC report on 29 January. Slight ground deformation was observed by GNSS and electronic inclinometers during the weeks of 29 January and 10 September. Volcanism was relatively low during February to March and consisted of mostly gas-and-steam emissions and rare ash plumes; these ash emissions were reported on 2 and 9 February and 16 March by the Washington VAAC rising between 5.8-6.7 km altitude. Gas-and-steam emission were detected on 6 and 17 February and 17 and 21 March.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery detected thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) mostly visible within the Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz during the last three months of 2019 and were accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The number of ash emissions detected in satellite imagery increased after March, occurring on 4, 7, 16, 17-19, and 23-26 April and 2 and 4-5 May. Ash plumes were detected on 27 June, 4, 7, 8, and 29 July, 1 August, and on 19, 29, and 30 September. Los Nevados National Natural Park (PNNN) personnel reported that the ash plume on 8 July was accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions and a continuous tremor occurring at 0722 (figure 101). These emissions rose 450 m above the crater and drifted W. On 29 September, a tremor associated with an ash plume occurred at 2353. The ash plume rose to a maximum altitude of 8.5 km drifted NW, resulting in ashfall confirmed by PNNN, GOES-EAST satellite imagery, and SGC personnel in the field.

Seismicity increased during the week of 1 October compared to the previous week, which was accompanied by several gas-and-steam and ash emissions rising 1 km altitude drifting NW observed by webcams, PNNN personnel, and GOES-EAST satellite imagery. An ash plume rising 7 km altitude drifting NW on 4 October resulted in fine ashfall in Manizales. Ash plumes rose to an altitude of 7.3 km drifting N on 5, 9, and 16 October and was seen in the GOES-EAST satellite according to Washington VAAC notices. Ash emissions were observed frequently during November; 11 Washington VAAC notices, the most for any month during 2019, reported emissions ranging 5.8 to 7 km altitude drifting in different directions. Gas-and-steam plumes rose to a maximum of 2.4 km above the crater during 14 and 30 November. The number of reported emissions decreased during December with one ash emission observed on 4 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. Webcam images of gas-and-steam and ash plumes rising from Nevado del Ruiz during 2019. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano.

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: Servicio Geologico Colombiano (SGC), Diagonal 53 No. 34-53 - Bogotá D.C., Colombia (URL: https://www2.sgc.gov.co/volcanes/index.html); 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); 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); 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/).


Erebus (Antarctica) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Erebus

Antarctica

77.53°S, 167.17°E; summit elev. 3794 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lakes persist through 2019

Erebus, the world's southernmost historically active volcano, overlooks the McMurdo research station on Antarctica's Ross Island, 35 km SSW. Because of the remoteness of the volcano, activity is primarily monitored using satellites (figure 27), including MODIS infrared detectors aboard the Aqua and Terra satellites and analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Satellite image of Erebus (on left) acquired on 19 October 2019 by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA's Terra satellite. The false-color combines visible and near-infrared wavelengths of light (ASTER bands 3, 2, 1). The area was just days away from constant 24-hour sunlight when this image was acquired, with the Sun angle low enough to cast a long shadow towards the west. The blue patches are areas clear of surface snow, exposing glacial ice. Nearby areas that appear smooth are the snow- and ice-topped waters of McMurdo Sound. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory: image by Joshua Stevens, using data from NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team; description by Kathryn Hansen.

Available since 2000, MODIS-MODVOLC data have shown a strong and nearly continuous thermal signal through 2019. A compilation of thermal alert pixels during 2017-2019 (table 5, continuing the table in BGVN 44:01) shows a wide range of detected activity in 2019, with a high of 162 in April. Infrared satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 identified one or two lava lakes during January-March and September-December 2019; a few of the images showed gas emissions, possibly from melted snow (figure 28).

Table 5. Number of monthly MODVOLC thermal alert pixels recorded at Erebus from 1 January 2017 to 31 December. Table compiled using data provided by the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec SUM
2017 0 21 9 0 0 1 11 61 76 52 0 3 234
2018 0 21 58 182 55 17 137 172 103 29 0 0 774
2019 2 21 162 151 55 56 75 53 29 19 1 0 624
Figure (see Caption) Figures 28. Sentinel-2 satellite image of Erebus in color infrared (bands 8, 4, 3) on 20 October 2019 showing two lava lakes in the summit crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Mount Erebus, the world's southernmost historically active volcano, overlooks the McMurdo research station on Ross Island. It is the largest of three major volcanoes forming the crudely triangular Ross Island. The summit of the dominantly phonolitic volcano has been modified by one or two generations of caldera formation. A summit plateau at about 3,200 m elevation marks the rim of the youngest caldera, which formed during the late-Pleistocene and within which the modern cone was constructed. An elliptical 500 x 600 m wide, 110-m-deep crater truncates the summit and contains an active lava lake within a 250-m-wide, 100-m-deep inner crater; other lava lakes are sometimes present. The glacier-covered volcano was erupting when first sighted by Captain James Ross in 1841. Continuous lava-lake activity with minor explosions, punctuated by occasional larger Strombolian explosions that eject bombs onto the crater rim, has been documented since 1972, but has probably been occurring for much of the volcano's recent history.

Information Contacts: Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); NASA Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/).


Sangay (Ecuador) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Sangay

Ecuador

2.005°S, 78.341°W; summit elev. 5286 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuing ash emissions, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars through December 2019

Frequent activity at Ecuador's Sangay has included pyroclastic flows, lava flows, ash plumes, and lahars since 1628. Its remoteness on the east side of the Andean crest has made ground observations difficult until recent times. The current eruption began in March 2019; this report covers ongoing activity from July through December 2019. Information is provided by Ecuador's Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), and a number of sources of remote data including the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), the Italian MIROVA Volcano HotSpot Detection System, and Sentinel-2 satellite imagery.

The eruption that began in March 2019 continued during July-December 2019 with activity focused on two eruptive centers at the summit, the Cráter Central and the Ñuñurco (southeast) vent. The Cráter Central produced explosive activity which generated small ash emissions that rose up to 3.2 km above the crater and were frequently directed towards the W and SW. Associated with these emissions in early November, ashfall was reported in Chimborazo province and elsewhere, and ejecta from explosions was deposited on all the upper flanks. At the Ñuñurcu vent, effusive activity resulted in an almost continuous emission of material down the SE flank. Small rockfalls and pyroclastic flows along the fronts and sides of the flows reached the basin and upper channel of the Volcán river which flows into the Upano river. These deposits were remobilized by rainfall and formed mud and debris flows (lahars) in the Volcán river, which caused damming at the confluence with the Upano river downstream. Increased thermal activity was recorded by the MIROVA system from mid-May 2019 through the end of the year, corresponding to the ongoing lava flow and explosive activity (figure 36).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Increased heat flow at Sangay was recorded beginning in mid-May 2019 and continued steadily through the end of the year as seen in this graph of Log Radiative Power produced by the MIROVA project. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during July-September 2019. Several ash emissions were reported by the Washington VAAC during the first part of July 2019. On 1 July a plume rose to 6.7 km altitude and extended 45 km WSW from the summit. During 3-4 July a plume rose 6.4 km and drifted WNW; it included occasional discrete emissions that extended approximately 35 km from summit. The VAAC recorded a bright hotspot in SWIR imagery on 4 July. On 11 July a 7.3-km-altitude ash plume detached from the summit and extended from immediately W of the summit S past Segu. Webcam and satellite imagery on 11 July demonstrated the continuing thermal activity of the lava flow on the SE flank and ash emissions drifting W (figure 37). On 29 July a plume rose to 7.6 km altitude and drifted 65 km WSW. Later in the day continuous emissions were drifting SW from the summit at 5.8 km altitude before dissipating. The first satellite images of 30 July showed a plume extending 110 km WSW from the summit at 7 km altitude. Activity decreased later in the day and the plume extended W about 45 km from the summit at 6.4 km altitude. Composite satellite imagery on 31 July showed almost constant ash emissions extending over 150 km W of the summit (figure 38).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. The local webcam at Sangay (left) and Sentinel satellite imagery (right, bands 12, 11, and 8A) both confirmed the high heat output from the active lava flow on the SE flank on 11 July 2019. The flow is about 2 km long. A plume of steam and ash also drifted W from the summit (right). Courtesy of IG-EPN (left) and Sentinel Hub Playground (right).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. An ash emission from Sangay on 29 July 2019 drifted tens of km WSW as seen in the webcam (left). Two days later on 31 July a small dark ash plume was visible above the dense cloud cover in Sentinel satellite imagery; the VAAC reported ash drifting W throughout the day. Courtesy of IG-EPN (left) and Sentinel Hub Playground (right).

During an overflight on 6 August 2019 scientists from IG-EPN observed ash emissions from the Cráter Central, and the lava flow continuing from the Vento Ñuñurco in a similar location to where it was in May 2019 (figure 39). Light-colored sediments filled much of the upper basin of the Volcán river. Thermal images of the area also showed that some of the deposits were elevated in temperature, even in the riverbed (figure 40).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. The E and SE flanks of Sangay showed continuing activity during August 2019 (right) that was similar to activity going on during May (left). In May, steam issued from the Cráter Central and a lava flow descended the SE flank from Vento Ñuñurco (photo by M. Almeida, IG-EPN). In August, diffuse ash and steam issued from the Crater Central, and a new flow descended from the same area of the Vento Ñuñurco seen in May (photo by P. Ramón , IG-EPN). Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 5, Quito, 13 de noviembre del 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. The upper Volcán River basin was filled with deposits of pyroclastic material associated with the most recent activity at Sangay when observed during an overflight on 6 August 2019 (left). Thermal analysis of the drainage indicated that several of the deposits were still hot, as was the active flow (right). Left photo by P. Ramón, thermal image by Silvia Vallejo; courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 5, Quito, 13 de noviembre del 2019).

Frequent ash emissions continued during August 2019. Diffuse ash was seen moving W from the summit at 5.8 km altitude on 1 August. Another short-lived plume was observed extending 15 km WSW the next day at 5.8-6.1 km altitude. Continuous ash emissions were visible in satellite imagery extending 35 km SW from the summit at 6.1 km altitude on 5 August. During the next two days, the emissions extended 45 km WSW and a prominent hot spot was visible through the meteoric clouds. The ash plume altitude rose to 6.7 km on 8 August and a larger ash emission extended more than 100 km WSW. A new emission the next day drifted 25-35 km W at 6.1 km altitude. A well-defined hotspot seen in shortwave imagery on 10 August accompanied an ash emission that extended 35 km WSW from the summit at 6.7 km altitude. On 12 August a plume drifted 65 km due W at 6.4 km altitude; emissions continued the next day in the same direction at 6.1 km altitude. An ash plume extended 100 km WNW of the summit at 5.8 km altitude on 18 August. A very bright hotspot was observed in infrared imagery the next day. The ash emissions continued to be visible in satellite imagery through 20 August.

An ash plume extending 10 km N from the summit on 25 August coincided with the appearance of a vivid hot spot, according to the Washington VAAC. The plume was initially reported at 7.6 km altitude and later in the day was at 6.7 km altitude. The leading edge of an ash emission reported on 31 August was 350 km W of the summit late that day moving at 5.8 km altitude, and over 950 km WSW before it dissipated on 1 September. Fewer ash emissions were reported during September 2019. The leading edge of a plume extended about 160 km W from the summit on 2 September at 7.6 km altitude; a second emission that day moved NE at 6.4 km altitude. On 4 September a small emission rose to 6.4 km altitude and drifted SW; on 9 September a plume was observed moving W at 5.5 km. A new emission on 19 September was seen in satellite imagery moving in many different directions (N, NE, E, and SE) at 6.7 km altitude. The lava flow on the SE flank produced a strong thermal signature that appeared unchanged from late August through late September (figure 41).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. The thermal signature from the lava flow on the SE flank of Sangay appeared unchanged from late August (top left) to late September 2019 (bottom right) in Sentinel-2 imagery (bands 12, 11, and 8A); an ash emission drifted in multiple directions on 19 September 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground and IG-EPN.

Activity during October-December 2019. Pulses of ash were reported during 1, 9-11, 14, 26, and 31 October 2019 by the Washington VAAC. On 1 October the plume rose to 5.8 km altitude and drifted NE. A narrow plume on 9 October extending 55 km NW corresponded with a bright hotspot at its source. Concentrated emissions the next day rose to 7.3 km altitude and extended over 200 km WNW. Later in the day on 10 October emissions were reported at 5.8 km drifting W. A substantial thermal anomaly and a constant plume of diffuse ash appeared in satellite imagery on 14 October at 6.1 km altitude drifting 15 km W. Diffuse emissions on 26 October appeared 35 km NW of the summit at 5.8 km altitude. The intensity of the thermal anomaly from the lava flow on the SE flank remained strong during the month, and emissions of steam and ash were also visible in satellite images (figure 42). In a site visit on 19 October 2019, IG-EPN scientists measured a recent lahar deposited near the confluence of the Volcán and Upano rivers. It was full of sand-sized particles and approximately 30 cm thick at the river’s edge (figure 43).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. The thermal anomaly from the lava flow on the SE flank of Sangay remained strong during October 2019, and both ash and steam emissions were seen in Sentinel-2 satellite images (bands 12, 11, and 8A). The lava flow is about 2 km long. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. A lahar deposit at the confluence of Río Volcán and Río Upano at Sangay was about 30 cm thick on 19 October 2019. Photograph by Francisco Vasconez, courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 5, Quito, 13 de noviembre del 2019).

Ash emissions during 10-26 November 2019 were reported daily by the Washington VAAC, each lasting for less than 24 hours before dissipating. The first report of ash detected in satellite imagery on 10 November indicated that the plume extended 25 km WSW at 6.7 km altitude. On the subsequent days, the plumes drifted in many different directions at altitudes of 5.8-7.3 km, usually around 6.4 km. The plumes generally drifted 25-45 km from the summit, although some were still visible over 100 km away, depending on weather conditions. The highest plume reached 7.3 km altitude on 18 November and drifted W. The plume on 26 November rose to 6.4 km altitude and was last seen 140 km SW of the summit before it dissipated. Pyroclastic flows were witnessed on 20 November 2019 (figure 44). The last plume of the month, on 29 November, rose to 6.4 km altitude and drifted 65 km W, dissipating quickly, and was accompanied by a very bright thermal anomaly.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Ash plumes from Sangay rose to 5.8 km altitude on 20 November 2019 and drifted 25 km NE before dissipating, according to the Washington VAAC. Pyroclastic flows appeared on the flank that day. Courtesy of Walter Calle C.

Ashfall was reported during November in the provinces of Chimborazo (Alao, 20 km NW, Cebadas, 35 km NW, and Guaguallá), Morona Santiago (Macas, 40 km SE), and Azuay (120 km SW). Samples of ash collected from two locations indicated that the amount of material was very small (less than10 g/m2) with a high content of extremely fine ash (between 40 and 60% ash less 63 μm in diameter). The larger fraction over 63 μm was mainly composed of juvenile magma (80%) and a small fraction of free crystals (10% plagioclase and pyroxenes), oxidized fragments (5%), and gray lithics (5%) (figure 45).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Photos from a binocular microscope of the greater than 63 μm fraction of ash from Sangay collected in Macas and at the SAGA station during November 2019. See text for details. Courtesy if IG (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 6, 4 de diciembre del 2019).

In a report issued in early December 2019 the IG-EPN noted that eruptive activity which increased in May 2019 was continuing (figure 46); a small amount of inflation was observed during November. Explosive activity continued at the Cráter Central with ash plumes reaching 2 km above the summit, and plumes drifting frequently towards the NE causing small amounts of ash to fall in the Chimborazo, Morona Santiago, and Azuay provinces. Effusive activity from the Ñuñurco vent produced almost continuous lava that flowed down the SE flank. Small pyroclastic flows around the margins of the lava flows reached the basin and the upper channel of the Volcán river, causing temporary dams that turned to mudflows during rain events.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. IG-EPN published this multi-parameter chart of activity of the Sangay volcano from May to 1 December 2019. a: seismic activity (number of events per day) detected at the PUYO station (source: IG-EPN); b: SO2 emissions (tons per day) detected by the Sentinel-5P satellite sensor (source: MOUNTS); c: height of ash clouds (m above crater level) detected by the GOES-16 satellite sensor (source: Washington VAAC); d: thermal emission power (megawatt) detected by the MODIS satellite sensor (source: MODVOLC) and estimated accumulated lava volume (million m3, dotted lines represent the error range). Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 6, 4 de diciembre del 2019).

During an overflight on 3 December 2019 a strong smell of sulfur was noted 1 km above the summit. The Ñuñurco vent continued to emit lava with a maximum apparent temperature of 100 to 210°C (figure 47). IG-EPN scientists concluded that approximately 58 ± 29 million m3 of lava had been emitted through 3 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Views of the SE flank of Sangay on 3 December 2019 with visible (left) and thermal (right) imagery. Photograph by C. Viracucha, thermal analysis by F. Naranjo; courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 6, 4 de diciembre del 2019).

Recurring lahars in the Río Volcán during the period occasionally reached the Rio Upano (figure 48). By late November, they had partially dammed the Upano river (figure 49). On 26 November 2019 when IG-EPN and Sangay National Park officials inspected the area, they recorded deposits more than 2 m thick at the confluence of the two rivers (figure 50). During an overflight the next day, additional deposits were identified along 16 km upstream. The total volume of the lahar deposits was estimated at 5 million m3 to date.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Inferred lahar deposits at Sangay along the Río Volcán from the foot of the volcano up to its confluence with Río Upano shown in red. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 6, 4 de diciembre del 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Lahar deposits at Sangay filled Río Volcán and dammed part of the confluence where it joins río Upano when photographed during an overflight on 26 November 2019. Photographs by Pedro Espín; courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 6, 4 de diciembre del 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Lahar deposits from Sangay exceeded 2 m in thickness at the confluence of the Upano and Volcán rivers on 26 November 2019. Photography by Pedro Espín; courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 6, 4 de diciembre del 2019).

Another extended period of ash emissions began on 4 December 2019 and continued daily through 19 December. The Washington VAAC reported that an ash plume was initially at 6.7 km altitude drifting S on 4 December. Continuous emissions were observed at 4.6 km altitude later in the day and were visible in satellite images located 25 km S at 5.8 km altitude that evening. The drift directions were initially mostly SW in early December, but migrated to mostly SE during 10-16 December, then back to SW. Plume altitudes ranged from 5.8 to 7.3 km and satellite images revealed ash as far as 160 km away; most plumes were visible to about 25 km before dissipating or disappearing into meteoric clouds. IG-EPN reported steam and gas emissions with small amounts of ash on 13 December that drifted SE (figure 51). Small block avalanches from the active flow were also observed on the SE flank. The next day, ash and gas emissions rose to 1,170 m above the summit and drifted NE while the lava flow appeared incandescent on the SE flank.

During the night of 14-15 December ashfall was reported in San Isidro in the Province of Morona Santiago (30 km SE). Ash plumes rose 870 m above the summit on 15 December and 1,470 m high the next day. Ashfall was reported in the Guasuntos (60 km SW) and Llagos (80 km SW) areas of the Chimborazo province on the morning of 16 December. The next day plumes drifted SE and SW, and minor ashfall was reported that night (16-17 December) in Macas (40 km SE), Morona Santiago province. Satellite images captured gas and ash emissions on 25 December, and ashfall was reported in Alausí (60 km SW) in the province of Chimborazo. An explosion on 29 December produced an ash plume that rose to 6.1 km and first drifted WNW then in an arc to the SW almost 185 km to the coast. Multiple plumes at 5.8-6.7 km drifted westerly for tens of kilometers that day and the next. Prominent thermal anomalies were noted in satellite imagery on 8, 15, 17, and 30 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Numerous explosions produced ash emissions from Sangay during 4-30 December 2019, shown here on days 13, 14, 16, and 25. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Diario del Estado del Volcán Sangay No. 2019-1, 13 Diciembre; No. 2019-2, 14 Diciembre; No. 2019-5, 17 Diciembre; No. 2019-13, 25 Diciembre 2019).

By late December 2019, the lahar deposits in Rio Volcán had backed up noticeably further into the Upano river from a month earlier (figure 52). Sulfur dioxide emissions were not recorded during July through August 2019, but small, pulsing plumes were captured in satellite images during September, October and November, gradually increasing in density. Several plumes were detected hundreds of kilometers from the volcano before dissipating; by December, larger, more frequent pulses of SO2 were measured during many days when ash emissions were reported (figure 53).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Lahar deposits from Sangay in the Rio Volcán (right) continued to dam up the Rio Upano into late December 2019. Compare with figure 49 taken one month earlier. Photo by WJ Hernandes, courtesy of Edgar Chulde, posted online 21 December 2019.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Sulfur dioxide emissions from Sangay were weak but persistent during September-November 2019 (top row), often drifting in narrow plumes with distinct pulses. During December, the density of the SO2 emissions increased noticeably (bottom row). Columbia’s Nevado del Ruiz was also producing plumes of SO2 at the same time. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Geologic Background. The isolated Sangay volcano, located east of the Andean crest, is the southernmost of Ecuador's volcanoes and its most active. The steep-sided, glacier-covered, dominantly andesitic volcano grew within horseshoe-shaped calderas of two previous edifices, which were destroyed by collapse to the east, producing large debris avalanches that reached the Amazonian lowlands. The modern edifice dates back to at least 14,000 years ago. It towers above the tropical jungle on the east side; on the other sides flat plains of ash have been sculpted by heavy rains into steep-walled canyons up to 600 m deep. The earliest report of a historical eruption was in 1628. More or less continuous eruptions were reported from 1728 until 1916, and again from 1934 to the present. The almost constant activity has caused frequent changes to the morphology of the summit crater complex.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Walter Calle C., Macas, Ecuador (Twitter: @walterc333; URL: https://twitter.com/walterc333/status/1197273200822046720); Edgar Chulde, Quito, Ecuador (Twitter: @EdgarChulde2; URL: https://twitter.com/EdgarChulde2/status/1208547471024173056).


Shishaldin (United States) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Shishaldin

United States

54.756°N, 163.97°W; summit elev. 2857 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Multiple lava flows, pyroclastic flows, lahars, and ashfall events during October 2019 through January 2020

Shishaldin is located near the center of Unimak Island in Alaska and has been frequently active in recent times. Activity includes steam plumes, ash plumes, lava flows, lava fountaining, pyroclastic flows, and lahars. The current eruption phase began on 23 July 2019 and through September included lava fountaining, explosions, and a lava lake in the summit crater. Continuing activity during October 2019 through January 2020 is described in this report based largely on Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) reports, photographs, and satellite data.

Minor steam emissions were observed on 30 September 2019, but no activity was observed through the following week. Activity at that time was slightly above background levels with the Volcano Alert Level at Advisory and the Aviation Color Code at Yellow (figure 17). In the first few days of October weak tremor continued but no eruptive activity was observed. Weakly elevated temperatures were noted in clear satellite images during 4-9 October and weak tremor continued. Elevated temperatures were recorded again on the 14th with low-level tremor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Alaska Volcano Observatory hazard status definitions for Aviation Color Codes and Volcanic Activity Alert Levels used for Shishaldin and other volcanoes in Alaska. Courtesy of AVO.

New lava extrusion was observed on 13 October, prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Color Code to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level to Watch. Elevated surface temperatures were detected by satellite during the 13th and 17-20th, and a steam plume was observed on the 19th. A change from small explosions to continuous tremor that morning suggested a change in eruptive behavior. Low-level Strombolian activity was observed during 21-22 October, accompanied by a persistent steam plume. Lava had filled the crater by the 23rd and began to overflow at two places. One lava flow to the north reached a distance of 200 m on the 24th and melted snow to form a 2.9-km-long lahar down the N flank. The second smaller lava flow resulted in a 1-km-long lahar down the NE flank. Additional snowmelt was produced by spatter accumulating around the crater rim. By 25 October the northern flow reached 800 m, there was minor explosive activity with periodic lava fountaining, and lahar deposits reached 3 km to the NW with shorter lahars to the N and E (figure 18). Trace amounts of ashfall extended at least 8.5 km SE. There was a pause in activity on the 29th, but beginning at 1839 on the 31st seismic and infrasound monitoring detected multiple small explosions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. PlanetScope satellite images of Shishaldin on 3 and 29 October 2019 show the summit crater and N flank before and after emplacement of lava flows, lahars, and ashfall. Copyright PlanetLabs 2019.

Elevated activity continued through November with multiple lava flows on the northern flanks (figure 19). By 1 November the two lava flows had stalled after extending 1.8 km down the NW flank. Lahars had reached at least 4 km NW and trace amounts of ash were deposited on the north flank. Elevated seismicity on 2 November indicated that lava was likely flowing beyond the summit crater, supported by a local pilot observation. The next day an active lava flow moved 400 m down the NW flank while a smaller flow was active SE of the summit. Minor explosive activity and/or lava fountaining at the summit was indicated by incandescence during the night. Small explosions were recorded in seismic and infrasound data. On 5 November the longer lava flow had developed two lobes, reaching 1 km in length. The lahars had also increased in length, reaching 2 km on the N and S flanks. Incandescence continued and hot spatter was accumulating around the summit vent. Activity continued, other than a 10-hour pause on 4-5 November, and another pause on the 7th. The lava flow length had reached 1.3 km on the 8th and lahar deposits reached 5 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images show multiple lava flows (orange) on the upper northern flanks of Shishaldin between 1 November and 1 December 2019. Blue is snow and ice in these images, and partial cloud cover is visible in all of them. Sentinel-2 Urban rendering (bands 21, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

After variable levels of activity for a few days, there was a significant increase on 10-11 November with lava fountaining through the evening and night. This was accompanied by minor to moderate ash emissions up to around 3.7 km altitude and drifting northwards, and a significant increase in seismicity. Activity decreased again during the 11-12th while minor steam and ash emissions continued. On 14 November minor ash plumes were visible on the flanks, likely caused by the collapse of accumulated spatter. By 15 November a large network of debris flows consisting of snowmelt and fresh deposits extended 5.5 km NE and the collapse of spatter mounds continued. Ashfall from ash plumes reaching as high as 3.7 km altitude produced thin deposits to the NE, S, and SE. Activity paused during the 17-18th and resumed again on the 19th; intermittent clear views showed either a lava flow or lahar descending the SE flank. Activity sharply declined at 0340 on the 20th.

Seismicity began increasing again on 24 November and small explosions were detected on the 23rd. A small collapse of spatter that had accumulated at the summit occurred at 2330 on the 24th, producing a pyroclastic flow that reached 3 km in length down the NW flank. A new lava flow had also reached several hundred meters down the same flank. Variable but elevated activity continued over 27 November into early December, with a 1.5-km-long lava flow observed in satellite imagery acquired on the 1st. On 5 December minor steam or ash emissions were observed at the summit and on the north flank, and Strombolian explosions were detected. Activity from that day produced fresh ash deposits on the northern side of the volcano and a new lava flow extended 1.4 km down the NW flank. Three small explosions were detected on the 11th.

At 0710 on 12 December a 3-minute-long explosion produced an ash plume up to 6-7.6 km altitude that dispersed predominantly towards the W to NW and three lightning strokes were detected. Ash samples were collected on the SE flank by AVO field crews on 20 December and analysis showed variable crystal contents in a glassy matrix (figure 20). A new ash deposit was emplaced out to 10 km SE, and a 3.5-km-long pyroclastic flow had been emplaced to the north, containing blocks as large as 3 m in diameter. The pyroclastic flow was likely a result from collapse of the summit spatter cone and lava flows. A new narrow lava flow had reached 3 km to the NW and lahars continued out to the northern coast of Unimak island (figure 21). The incandescent lava flow was visible from Cold Bay on the evening of the 12th and a thick steam plume continued through the next day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. An example of a volcanic ash grain that was erupted at Shishaldin on 12 December 2019 and collected on the SE flank by the Alaska Volcano Observatory staff. This Scanning Electron Microscope images shows the different crystals represented by different colors: dark gray crystals are plagioclase, the light gray crystals are olivine, and the white ones are Fe-Ti oxides. The groundmass in this grain is nearly completely crystallized. Courtesy of AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. A WorldView-2 satellite image of Shishaldin with the summit vent and eruption deposits on 12 December 2019. The tephra deposit extends around 10 km SE, a new lava flow reaching 3 km NW with lahars continuing to the N coast of Unimak island. Pyroclastic flow deposits reach 3.5 km to the N and contain blocks as large as 3 m. Courtesy of Hannah Dietterich, AVO.

A new lava flow was reported by a pilot on the night of 16 December. Thermal satellite data showed that this flow reached 2 km to the NW. High-resolution radar satellite images over the 15-17th showed that the lava flow had advanced out to 2.5 km and had developed levees along the margins (figure 22). The lava channel was 5-15 m wide and was originating from a crater at the base of the summit scoria cone, which had been rebuilt since the collapse the previous week. Minor ash emissions drifted to the south on the 19tt and 20th (figure 23).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. TerraSAR-X radar satellite images of Shishaldin on 15 and 17 December 2019 show the new lava flow on the NW flank and growth of a scoria cone at the summit. The lava flow had reached around 2.5 km at this point and was 5-15 m wide with levees visible along the flow margins. Pyroclastic flow deposits from a scoria cone collapse event on 12 December are on the N flank. Figure courtesy of Simon Plank (German Aerospace Center, DLR) and Hannah Dietterich (AVO).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Geologist Janet Schaefer (AVO/DGGS) collects ash samples within ice and snow on the southern flanks of Shishaldin on 20 December 2019. A weak ash plume is rising from the summit crater. Photo courtesy of Wyatt Mayo, AVO.

On 21 December a new lava flow commenced, traveling down the northern slope and accompanied by minor ash emissions. Continued lava extrusion was indicated by thermal data on the 25th and two lava flows reaching 1.5 km and 100 m were observed in satellite data on the 26th, as well as ash deposits on the upper flanks (figure 24). Weak explosions were detected by the regional infrasound network the following day. A satellite image acquired on the 30th showed a thick steam plume obscuring the summit and snow cover on the flanks indicating a pause in ash emissions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. This 26 December 2019 WorldView-2 satellite image with a close-up of the Shishaldin summit area to the right shows a lava flow extending nearly 1.5 km down the NW flank and a smaller 100-m-long lava flow to the NE. Volcanic ash was deposited around the summit, coating snow and ice. Courtesy of Matt Loewen, AVO.

In early January satellite data indicated slow lava extrusion or cooling lava flows (or both) near the summit. On the morning of the 3rd an ash plume rose to 6-7 km altitude and drifted 120 km E to SE, producing minor amounts of volcanic lightning. Elevated surface temperatures the previous week indicated continued lava extrusion. A satellite image acquired on 3 January showed lava flows extending to 1.6 km NW, pyroclastic flows moving 2.6 km down the western and southern flanks, and ashfall on the flanks (figure 25).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. This WorldView-2 multispectral satellite image of Shishaldin, acquired on 3 January 2019, shows the lava flows reaching 1.6 km down the NW flank and an ash plume erupting from the summit dispersing to the SE. Ash deposits cover snow on the flanks. Courtesy of Hannah Dietterich, AVO.

On 7 January the most sustained explosive episode for this eruption period occurred. An ash plume rose to 7 km altitude at 0500 and drifted east to northeast then intensified reaching 7.6 km altitude with increased ash content, prompting an increase of the Aviation Color Code to Red and Volcano Alert Level to Warning. The plume traveled over 200 km to the E to NE (figure 26). Lava flows were produced on the northern flanks and trace amounts of ashfall was reported in communities to the NE, resulting in several flight cancellations. Thermal satellite images showed active lava flows extruding from the summit vent (figure 27). Seismicity significantly decreased around 1200 and the alert levels were lowered to Orange and Watch that evening. Through the following week no notable eruptive activity occurred. An intermittent steam plume was observed in webcam views.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. This Landsat 8 satellite image shows a detached ash plume drifts to the NE from an explosive eruption at Shishaldin on 7 January 2020. Courtesy of Chris Waythomas, AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. This 7 January 2019 Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image shows several lava flows on the NE and NW flanks of Shishaldin, as well as a steam plume from the summit dispersing to the NE. Blue is snow and ice in this false color image (bands 12, 11, 4). Courtesy of Sentinel-Hub playground.

Eruptive activity resumed on 18 January with lava flows traveling 2 km down the NE flank accompanied by a weak plume with possible ash content dispersing to the SW (figure 28). A steam plume was produced at the front of the lava flow and lahar deposits continued to the north (figures 29 to 32). Activity intensified from 0030 on the 19th, generating a more ash-rich plume that extended over 150 km E and SE and reached up to 6 km altitude; activity increased again at around 1500 with ash emissions reaching 9 km altitude. AVO increased the alert levels to Red/Warning. Lava flows traveled down the NE and N flanks producing meltwater lahars, accompanied by elevated seismicity (figures 33). Activity continued through the day and trace amounts of ashfall were reported in False Pass (figure 34). Activity declined to small explosions over the next few days and the alert levels were lowered to Orange/watch shortly after midnight. The next morning weak steam emissions were observed at the summit and there was a thin ash deposit across the entire area. Satellite data acquired on 23 January showed pyroclastic flow deposits and cooling lava flows on the northern flank, and meltwater reaching the northern coast (figure 35).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. This Worldview-3 multispectral near-infrared satellite image acquired on 18 January 2020 shows a lava flow down the NE flank of Shishaldin. A steam plume rises from the end of the flow and lahar deposits from snowmelt travel further north. Courtesy of Matt Loewen, AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Steam plumes from the summit of Shishaldin and from the lava flow down the NE flank on 18 January 2020. Lahar deposits extend from the lava flow front and towards the north. Photo courtesy of Matt Brekke, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. A lava flow traveling down the NE flank of Shishaldin on 18 January 2020, seen from Cold Bay. Photo courtesy of Aaron Merculief, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Two plumes rise from Shishaldin on 18 January 2020, one from the summit crater and the other from the lava flow descending the NE Flank. Photos courtesy of Woodsen Saunders, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. A low-altitude plume from Shishaldin on the evening of 18 January 2020, seen from King Cove. Photo courtesy of Savannah Yatchmeneff, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. This WorldView-2 near-infrared satellite image shows a lava flow reaching 1.8 km down the N flank and lahar deposits filling drainages out to the Bering Sea coast (not shown here) on 19 January 2020. Ash deposits coat snow to the NE and E. Courtesy of Matt Loewen, AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. An ash plume (top) and gas-and-steam plumes (bottom) at Shishaldin on 19 January 2020. Courtesy of Matt Brekke, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. A Landsat 8 thermal satellite image (band 11) acquired on 23 January 2019 showing hot lava flows and pyroclastic flow deposits on the flanks of Shishaldin and the meltwater flow path to the Bering Sea. Figure courtesy of Christ Waythomas, AVO.

Activity remained low in late January with some ash resuspension (due to winds) near the summit and continued elevated temperatures. Seismicity remained above background levels. Infrasound data indicated minor explosive activity during 22-23 January and small steam plumes were visible on 22, 23, and 26 January. MIROVA thermal data showed the rapid reduction in activity following activity in late-January (figure 36).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. MIROVA thermal data showing increased activity at Shishaldin during August-September, and an even higher thermal output during late-October 2019 to late January 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. The beautifully symmetrical Shishaldin is the highest and one of the most active volcanoes of the Aleutian Islands. The glacier-covered volcano is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes along an E-W line in the eastern half of Unimak Island. The Aleuts named the volcano Sisquk, meaning "mountain which points the way when I am lost." A steam plume often rises from its small summit crater. Constructed atop an older glacially dissected volcano, it is largely basaltic in composition. Remnants of an older ancestral volcano are exposed on the W and NE sides at 1,500-1,800 m elevation. There are over two dozen pyroclastic cones on its NW flank, which is blanketed by massive aa lava flows. Frequent explosive activity, primarily consisting of Strombolian ash eruptions from the small summit crater, but sometimes producing lava flows, has been recorded since the 18th century.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667 USA (URL: https://avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://dggs.alaska.gov/); Simon Plank, German Aerospace Center (DLR) German Remote Sensing Data Center, Geo-Risks and Civil Security, Oberpfaffenhofen, 82234 Weßling (URL: https://www.dlr.de/eoc/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-5242/8788_read-28554/sortby-lastname/); 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/); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Sangeang Api (Indonesia) — February 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)


Ash emissions and lava flow extrusion continue during May 2019 through January 2020

Sangeang Api is located in the eastern Sunda-Banda Arc in Indonesia, forming a small island in the Flores Strait, north of the eastern side of West Nusa Tenggara. It has been frequently active in recent times with documented eruptions spanning back to 1512. The edifice has two peaks – the active Doro Api cone and the inactive Doro Mantori within an older caldera (figure 37). The current activity is focused at the summit of the cone within a horseshoe-shaped crater at the summit of Doro Api. This bulletin summarizes activity during May 2019 through January 2020 and is based on Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reports, Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, or CVGHM) MAGMA Indonesia Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) reports, and various satellite data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. A PlanetScope satellite image of Sangeang Api with the active Doro Api and the inactive Doro Mantori cones indicated, and the channel SE of the active area that contains recent lava flows and other deposits. December 2019 monthly mosaic copyright of Planet Labs 2019.

Thermal anomalies were visible in Sentinel-2 satellite thermal images on 4 and 5 May with some ash and gas emission visible; bright pixels from the summit of the active cone extended to the SE towards the end of the month, indicating an active lava flow (figure 38). Multiple small emissions with increasing ash content reached 1.2-2.1 km altitude on 17 June. The emissions drifted W and WNW, and a thermal anomaly was also visible. On the 27th ash plumes rose to 2.1 km and drifted NW and the thermal anomaly persisted. One ash plume reached 2.4 km and drifted NW on the 29th, and steam emissions were ongoing. Satellite images showed two active lava flows in June, an upper and a lower flow, with several lobes descending the same channel and with lateral levees visible in satellite imagery (figure 39). The lava extrusion appeared to have ceased by late June with lower temperatures detected in Sentinel-2 thermal data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Sentinel-2 satellite thermal images of Sangeang Api on 20 May and 9 June 2019 show an active lava flow from the summit, traveling to the SE. False color (urban) image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. PlanetScope satellite images of Sangeang Api show new lava flows during June and July, with white arrows indicating the flow fronts. Copyright Planet Labs 2019.

During 4-5 July the Darwin VAAC reported ash plumes reaching 2.1-2.3 km altitude and drifting SW and W. Activity continued during 6-9 July with plumes up to 4.6 km drifting N, NW, and SW. Thermal anomalies were noted on the 4th and 8th. Plumes rose to 2.1-3 km during 10-16th, and to a maximum altitude of 4.6 km during 17-18 and 20-22. Similar activity was reported during 24-30 July with plumes reaching 2.4-3 km and dispersing NW, W, and SW. The upper lava flow had increased in length since 15 June (see figure 39).

During 31 July through 3 September ash plumes continued to reach 2.4-3 km altitude and disperse in multiple directions. Similar activity was reported throughout September. Thermal anomalies also persisted through July-September, with evidence of hot avalanches in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery on 23 August, and 9, 12, 22, and 27 September. Thermal anomalies suggested hot avalanches or lava flows during October (figure 40). During 26-28 October short-lived ash plumes were reported to 2.1-2.7 km above sea level and dissipated to the NW, WNW, and W. Short-lived explosions produced ash plumes up to 2.7-3.5 km altitude were noted during 30-31 October and 3-4 November 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Sentinel-2 satellite thermal images of Sangeang Api on 7 and 22 October 2019 show an area of elevated temperatures trending from the summit of the active cone down the SE flank. False color (urban) image rendering (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Discrete explosions produced ash plumes up to 2.7-3.5 km altitude during 3-4 November, and during the 6-12th the Darwin VAAC reported short-lived ash emissions reaching 3 km altitude. Thermal anomalies were visible in satellite images during 6-8 November. A VONA was released on 14 November for an ash plume that reached about 2 km altitude and dispersed to the west. During 14-19 November the Darwin VAAC reported short-lived ash plumes reaching 2.4 km that drifted NW and W. Additional ash plumes were observed reaching a maximum altitude of 2.4 km during 20-26 November. Thermal anomalies were detected during the 18-19th, and on the 27th.

Ash plumes were recorded reaching 2.4 km during 4-5, 7-9, 11-13, and 17-19 December, and up to 3 km during 25-28 December. There were no reports of activity in early to mid-January 2020 until the Darwin VAAC reported ash reaching 3 km on 23 January. A webcam image on 15 January showed a gas plume originating from the summit. Several fires were visible on the flanks during May 2019 through January 2020, and this is seen in the MIROVA log thermal plot with the thermal anomalies greater than 5 km away from the crater (figure 41).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. MIROVA log plot of radiative power indicates the persistent activity at Sangeang Api during April 2019 through March 2020. There was a slight decline in September-October 2019 and again in February 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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/); 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); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 20, Number 03 (March 1995)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Aira (Japan)

Explosive eruptions send plumes 3-4 km above the summit

Alcedo (Ecuador)

Two craters on the SW caldera wall linked to a 1993 eruption

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Eruptions and lava flows continue; ash deposition rate quantified

Asosan (Japan)

Mud ejection beyond the crater and an ash cloud to 1 km

Cameroon (Cameroon)

Seismicity in 1994 declines from 1993 levels

Fernandina (Ecuador)

Lava enters the sea at three locations; ejections from lava lake

Fogo (Cape Verde)

New eruption on 2 April generates lava flows within the caldera

Galeras (Colombia)

Earthquake on 4 March kills six people and precedes more felt earthquakes

Irazu (Costa Rica)

Lake rises one meter

Krakatau (Indonesia)

Explosions continue, sending ash plumes daily up to 500 m above the summit

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Moderate emissions and explosions from Crater 2

Lascar (Chile)

Small ash eruptions and increased height of gas plume

Long Valley (United States)

Summary of 1994 seismicity, deformation, and CO2 discharge

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Gentle vapor emissions, weak glow, and low-level seismicity

Martin (United States)

Large steam plumes, but no eruptive activity

Poas (Costa Rica)

Continued moderate seismicity, but no tremor; lake rise

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

Ash plumes; two SO2-flux measurements from January (1-4 kilotons/day)

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Mild explosive activity at Tavurvur

San Miguel (El Salvador)

Increased seismicity and minor ashfall near the crater

Semeru (Indonesia)

Ash eruptions, lava avalanches, and summit glow

Slamet (Indonesia)

Increased seismicity and gas emission

Tengger Caldera (Indonesia)

Eruption at Bromo causes ashfall 20 km away; gas emissions

Turrialba (Costa Rica)

Weak fumarolic activity

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea)

Continued moderate vapor emissions; SO2 data from October 1994



Aira (Japan) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosive eruptions send plumes 3-4 km above the summit

Explosive volcanism continued in February and March from Minami-dake crater but caused no damage. There were a total of 22 eruptions in February, including 12 explosive ones. Activity increased somewhat in March with 36 eruptions, 24 of which were explosive. The highest monthly ash plumes occurred on 11 February (3 km) and on 8 March (4 km). Ashfall measured 10 km W at the Kagoshima Meteorological Observatory (KMO) was 30 g/m2 in February. Although there were more eruptions, only 9 g/m2 of ash fell at KMO during March.

An earthquake swarm that started at 1600 on 23 February lasted 9 hours and consisted of 99 events registered at Station B, 2.3 km NE of Minami-dake crater. This episode caused the KMO to issue a Volcanic Advisory noting the restlessness of the volcano. Station B also registered 208.8 hours of volcanic tremor and a total of 424 volcanic earthquakes during February. Another earthquake swarm between 0000 on 26 March and 0300 on 28 March produced 2,041 earthquakes and 828 tremors, causing another two Volcanic Advisories. However, total amount of tremor in March (164.3 hours) was less than in February.

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: Volcanological Division, Seismological and Volcanological Department, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100 Japan.


Alcedo (Ecuador) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Alcedo

Ecuador

0.43°S, 91.12°W; summit elev. 1130 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Two craters on the SW caldera wall linked to a 1993 eruption

Alcedo . . . had two new craters when visited by Jonathan R. Green during 16-18 February 1994. According to him and Jim Stimac, who saw the craters in February 1995, the craters were located on the S wall of the caldera. At the same two points, Geist and others (1994) had previously mapped sulfur veneer and fumaroles in 1991. The points lie ~1.4 km W of El Geyser, a fumarole that lies within a similar crater and sits farther E along a common fault. . . . Geist confirmed that there were no craters in this vicinity when he made his map, and in addition Green clearly reported that these two craters were new.

Besides the opening of these new craters, Green (1994) described Alcedo activity during November-December 1993, and January 1994. This included local tremor, explosions, noises from one or more subterranean sources, and increased fumarolic activity. The larger crater was associated with adjacent deposits of ash, debris, and mud. The craters were also observed during a July 1994 helicopter flyover. A videotape made during the flyover (archived at Galápagos National Park Headquarters) documented vigorous steam plumes coming from both craters, similar to plumes seen by Green in February 1994. Green, who showed the craters on a sketch in his report, estimated that the larger crater was 75 x 100 m.

Although groups do occasionally visit, Alcedo is uninhabited and no one witnessed the eruption. Green's report stated: "Additional information from other guides places this activity later than mid-November 1993 and prior to the end of December 1993."

Later observations were made when J. Stimac and Fraser Goff sampled fumaroles . . . from 5 to 10 February 1995. At that time the larger new crater issued a vigorous steam plume from a small vent along one side; the smaller crater issued less steam. Stimac estimated that the elliptical larger crater had a diameter of 100-150 m, and a depth of 35-40 m. The smaller crater had a diameter of 10 m and a depth of 3 m.

Layered tephra, up to perhaps 2-m thick, lies at the crater margins and extends for several hundred meters, Stimac reported. Based on the observed deposits, and on crater morphology and location, visiting volcanologists concluded the craters were formed by hydrothermal explosions.

Geist and others (1994) point out that Alcedo is distinct from other Galápagos volcanoes (and many oceanic islands) in that it has erupted rhyolite and not just basalt as seen on all the adjacent islands.

References. Geist, D., Howard, K., Jellinek, A. M., and Rayder, S., 1994, The volcanic history of Volcán Alcedo, Galápagos Archipelago: A case study of rhyolitic oceanic volcanism: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 56, no. 4, Springer-Verlag, p. 243-260.

Green, J., 1994, Recent activity in Alcedo volcano, Isabela Island: Noticias de Galápagos, no. 54 (H. Snell, editor): The Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galápagos Islands (100 N. Washington St., Suite 311, Falls Church, VA 22046 USA), p. 11-13.

Geologic Background. Alcedo is one of the lowest and smallest of six shield volcanoes on Isabela Island. Much of the flanks and summit caldera are vegetated, but young lava flows are prominent on the N flank near the saddle with Darwin volcano. It is the only Galapagos volcano known to have erupted rhyolite as well as basalt, producing about 1 km3 of late-Pleistocene rhyolitic tephra and lava flows from several vents late in its history. Recent faulting has produced a moat around part of the 7-8 km caldera floor, which is elongated N-S and appears to be migrating to the south. Fewer circumferential fissures occur on Alcedo than on other western Galápagos volcanoes. An eruption attributed to Alcedo in 1954 (Richards, 1957) is more likely to have been from neighboring Sierra Negra (Simkin 1980, pers. comm.). Photo-geologic mapping by K.A. Howard (pers. comm.) revealed only one flow on 30 October 1960 photographs that does not appear on 30 May 1946 photos. That is near Cartago Bay, low on the SE flank, rather than the 610-m, NE-flank elevation listed for the 1954 eruption. An active hydrothermal system is located within the caldera.

Information Contacts: J. Green, Quito; D. Geist, University of Idaho; J. Stimac and F. Goff, LANL, Los Alamos.


Arenal (Costa Rica) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Arenal

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruptions and lava flows continue; ash deposition rate quantified

Crater C continued its ongoing emission of gases, lava flows, and sporadic Strombolian eruptions. The Strombolian eruptions remained similar to those of January, with ash columns reaching up to 1 km above the crater. These eruptions vibrated windows in the village of La Palma 4 km from the volcano. Falling bombs and blocks reached 1,000 m elev, ~660 m below the summit. Crater D continued fumarolic activity. Moderate low-frequency (<3 Hz) seismicity continued to decrease during March, but tremor duration remained high (figure 71).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Arenal low-frequency seismicity for 1994 and January-March 1995. Data courtesy of OVSICORI.

The record of ash deposition 1.8 km W of the vent (table 9) shows, in terms of total mass, that the deposition rate has increased since October 1994. Daily deposition after 3 March was 22.7 g/m2, compared to a daily average of only 7.6-8.2 g/m2 between 19 October 1994 and 3 March 1995.

Table 9. Ash collected 1.8 km W of Arenal's active vent. Courtesy of G. Soto, ICE.

Collection Interval Avg daily ashfall (grams/m2) Ash % 300+µ Ash % less than 300µ
19 Oct 94-23 Jan 1995 7.6 38.0 62.0
23 Jan 95-03 Mar 1995 8.2 54.7 45.3
03 Mar 95-30 Mar 1995 22.7 42.2 57.8

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: E. Fernández, V. Barboza, and J. Barquero, OVSICORI; G. Soto, ICE.


Asosan (Japan) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Mud ejection beyond the crater and an ash cloud to 1 km

Mud and water ejections continued during February from the shrinking pool of hot water in Naka-dake Crater 1. Similar ejections occurred on 13 and 17 March. The eruption on 17 March ejected mud and volcaniclastic materials within a 300-m radius, including some beyond the crater rim, and sent an ash cloud as high as 1 km above the crater rim. Large-amplitude tremor associated with the mud ejections was felt at the Aso Weather Station (AWS) on 14 and 19 February, and another nine times during March. An earthquake centered beneath the crater was also felt at AWS on 16 February.

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

Information Contacts: JMA.


Cameroon (Cameroon) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Cameroon

Cameroon

4.203°N, 9.17°E; summit elev. 4095 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity in 1994 declines from 1993 levels

Overall seismic activity was lower in 1994 (240 total events) compared to 1993 (840 events). Most of the 1993 activity was from beneath the SE flank. The monthly number of events was consistently below 30 after October 1993, until December 1994 (figure 1). During 10-12 December a swarm of >40 microearthquakes with a maximum magnitude of 2.5 was recorded at station KBC. Because that was the only operational station, the events could not be accurately located. However, based on the waveform and S-P intervals of ~7 seconds, they were interpreted to be from Mount Cameroon. As of the end of January 1995, seismicity below the SE flank had returned to the 1992 level of 9-12 events/month.

Geologic Background. Mount Cameroon, one of Africa's largest volcanoes, rises above the coast of west Cameroon. The massive steep-sided volcano of dominantly basaltic-to-trachybasaltic composition forms a volcanic horst constructed above a basement of Precambrian metamorphic rocks covered with Cretaceous to Quaternary sediments. More than 100 small cinder cones, often fissure-controlled parallel to the long axis of the 1400 km3 edifice, occur on the flanks and surrounding lowlands. A large satellitic peak, Etinde (also known as Little Cameroon), is located on the S flank near the coast. Historical activity was first observed in the 5th century BCE by the Carthaginian navigator Hannon. During historical time, moderate explosive and effusive eruptions have occurred from both summit and flank vents. A 1922 SW-flank eruption produced a lava flow that reached the Atlantic coast, and a lava flow from a 1999 south-flank eruption stopped only 200 m from the sea. Explosive activity from two vents on the upper SE flank was reported in May 2000.

Information Contacts: A. Bekoa and N. Nfomou, ARGV, Buea; Ekodeck G.E. and N. Metuk, IRGM, Yaounde; J. Fairhead, Univ of Leeds.


Fernandina (Ecuador) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Fernandina

Ecuador

0.37°S, 91.55°W; summit elev. 1476 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava enters the sea at three locations; ejections from lava lake

Fernandina continued to erupt in late March. While acting as a guide for a film crew, Godfrey Merlin made his third visit . . . and reported on 26 March concerning the 30 hours the group spent at the volcano.

Lava flowing into the sea was concentrated in three areas. Two areas were the same as two months earlier, and the third was ~400 m to the N. Most of the lava descended the near-vertical shoreline, a sea-cliff that was typically ~4-m high and being progressively undercut by wave action removing sand along its base. Flowing in channels of 0.5-1.5 m width, the lava often dripped into the ocean, although Merlin noted that the lava to the N had "the appearance of water cascading to the sea." Discolored water still surrounded the lava's ocean entries. The amount of lava flowing into the sea was difficult to judge, but at least one substantial fluctuation in flow volume was seen during their 30-hour visit.

The group reached shore at the Cape Hammond landing, an area rich in wildlife that could have been threatened if lava flows had continued to progress in that direction. They found that nearby flow fronts remained immobile since the previous visit . . . . Merlin suggested that the lava issuing from main vent (now a well-formed cone), was descending in old tubes to the shore. At night, no incandescence could be seen between the main vent and the sea. During the day, in the upper third of this interval, white vapor rose from the lava flows but otherwise there was little surface evidence of their freshness.

While hiking to the main vent they heard several explosions and saw molten lava "tossed above the rim of the cone every few seconds." Nevertheless, Merlin and Mr. Iwago of the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation (NGK) ascended the cone's base, which they described as built on "huge blocks of reddish-gray rock jumbled together" with intermediate spaces "filled with glassy scoria." Next, they descended into a shallow valley of scoria with extremely hot vents, some ringed by white deposits. They climbed the upper slopes of the spatter cone from the E, upwind side, and found that the cone held a "heaving, rolling, red sea of molten lava" that was ~30-40 m in diameter and 40 m below the cone's rim. Spatter was thrown ~70 m above the lava lake's surface. On the cone's W side, lava flowed over the rim and descended into a tube within the cone.

They found eight dead marine iguanas. Although their appearance ranged from unscorched to charred, the iguanas had each been "literally cooked on the surface of the lava." The group also noted that live iguanas continued to invade the still-hot surface. In contrast to earlier in the eruption, no dead fish were seen floating along the coast and accordingly the large number of sea birds that previously had come to feed on them were absent.

Geologic Background. Fernandina, the most active of Galápagos volcanoes and the one closest to the Galápagos mantle plume, is a basaltic shield volcano with a deep 5 x 6.5 km summit caldera. The volcano displays the classic "overturned soup bowl" profile of Galápagos shield volcanoes. Its caldera is elongated in a NW-SE direction and formed during several episodes of collapse. Circumferential fissures surround the caldera and were instrumental in growth of the volcano. Reporting has been poor in this uninhabited western end of the archipelago, and even a 1981 eruption was not witnessed at the time. In 1968 the caldera floor dropped 350 m following a major explosive eruption. Subsequent eruptions, mostly from vents located on or near the caldera boundary faults, have produced lava flows inside the caldera as well as those in 1995 that reached the coast from a SW-flank vent. Collapse of a nearly 1 km3 section of the east caldera wall during an eruption in 1988 produced a debris-avalanche deposit that covered much of the caldera floor and absorbed the caldera lake.

Information Contacts: G. Merlen, Estacion Cientifica Charles Darwin.


Fogo (Cape Verde) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Fogo

Cape Verde

14.95°N, 24.35°W; summit elev. 2829 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New eruption on 2 April generates lava flows within the caldera

A fissure eruption that began the night of 2-3 April produced lava flows from the base of the Pico cone, located within the 8-km-diameter Cha Caldera (figure 1). This cone, also called Fogo Peak, has a crater ~500 m in diameter and 180 m deep. Caldera residents felt weak intermittent earthquakes as early as 25 March. After 0100 on 2 April the earthquakes increased in frequency, and felt events occurred at 0700 and 1500. At about 2015 residents felt a stronger earthquake that caused dishes to fall from cupboard shelves and may have opened a 200-m-long crack on the flanks of the cone.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Topographic map of Fogo Island showing historical lava flows (shaded), current lava flows through 11 April (solid), and selected towns (hatched). Modified from Neumann van Padang and others (1967).

Residents in Sao Filipe, ~15 km WSW of the vent, noticed a red glow around 2300 on the night of 2 April, probably the beginning of the eruption. Other residents reported that eruptive vents on the flank of Pico opened at 0006 on 3 April. Initially there was a burst or jetting of gas followed by ejection of large blocks. This Strombolian activity was followed by a "curtain of fire" that fed a lava flow, which cut off the main road to Portela village by 0200 (figure 2). By 0500 on 3 April, fine dark ash had begun to fall in areas close to the volcano. Around the same time, an eruption cloud to a height of 2,500 m was formed. Witnesses told reporters that the volcano was "spewing out smoke and flames." The head of the Cape Verde Red Cross stated that high flames could be seen and that "a pall of black smoke was hanging over the island."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Map of Fogo caldera showing lava flows from the current eruption. Courtesy of João Gaspar, Universidade dos Açores.

During the night of 2-3 April, several residents evacuated to the N coast. Once ashfall began, more caldera residents and some people in the eastern villages of Corvo, Achada Grande, Relva, Tintiera, Cova Matinho, Cova Figueira, and Estância Roque also evacuated to the coastal towns of Mosteiros (~9 km N of the summit) or Sao Filipe. Police officials reported that all of the ~1,300 people living within the caldera had managed to get out on foot and had been accounted for by noon on 3 April.

Under the supervision of the National Defense Minister, a Crisis Cabinet was created by the Cape Verde Government. About 60 Cape Verde Army soldiers were sent to the island and an emergency communications system was installed. Food and medicine were provided, and evacuation centers (schools, private institutions, and tent camps) were established to hold up to 5,600 people. Official reports indicated that almost 1,000 persons were sheltered in the Army camps at Sao Filipe, Patim, Achada Furna, and Mosteiros. During the first days of the eruption local authorities, Cape Verde soldiers, and volunteers, helped caldera residents save their belongings. Nobody was killed, and only 20 people needed medical assistance during the evacuation, including children with respiratory problems. Although numbers are uncertain, as many as 5,000 people may have been displaced during this eruption. As of 16 April, Portela residents continued to remove belongings by foot.

Around noon on 3 April some teachers who had driven from Sao Filipe to Mosteiros told geologist Veronica Carvalho Martins (U.S. Embassy in Cape Verde) of sandy ashfall along the road on the E side of the island just below the caldera; they also reported sounds "like an old stove." During a flight W of the caldera soon afterwards, Martins observed a high mushroom-shaped ash column rising from the caldera. Martins later saw a long fissure vent with lava fountains feeding an already well-developed flow that was moving W across a road towards the caldera wall and curving N. A vent SE of the fissure exhibited continuous strong ejection of brownish pyroclastic material, while to the NW a smaller vent was intermittently ejecting similar material.

João Gaspar (Universidade dos Açores) and colleagues from Cape Verde (ISE and IICT) reported that on 3 April a thick cloud of dark ash and vapor 2,500-5,000 m high could be seen from Santiago Island, ~60 km ENE. Early that morning three small vents were observed inside the caldera along the SW part of a N30°E fissure that crossed the main road within the caldera (figure 2). Fine dark ash and small pahoehoe lavas were produced, and large plastic bombs (1-4 m in diameter) were projected distances of 500 m. That afternoon the fissure reached 2 km in length, and four new vents opened in its NE section. Activity increased during the night of 3-4 April with the emission of more lava flows, but decreased the following morning. One Cape Verde official said that the lava was moving at a speed of 60 m/hour. Gaspar reported that explosive activity was centered at the NE vents, but strong fumarolic activity continued along the main fissure. Lava fountains reached ~ 400 m high and a cloud of dark ash and gases rose 2,000 m. A scoria cone with a crater open to the SW formed and produced aa lava flows with thicknesses of 3-10 m measured at different fronts.

Effusive activity remained intense on 4 April, but ejection of pyroclastic fragments had decreased significantly. Television pictures showed a lava "stream" coming from the fissure and, in the morning, a mantle of aa lava covering the central part of the caldera. Portuguese television and other press coverage on the evening of 5 April indicated that activity had decreased.

In the following days the lava flow reached the settlement of Boca de Fonte near the caldera wall ~2 km W of the eruption center, and by 9 April it had destroyed at least 5 houses (possibly 10), the main water reservoir, and several square kilometers of fertile land used to grow coffee, wine grapes, fruits, maize, tapioca, and beans. Reluctant farmers with cattle in the caldera were ordered to leave their homes or face arrest on 8 April. A TSF Radio correspondent reported on 9 April that the lava flow moving into Boca de Fonte was advancing at a rate of 10-14 m/hour, twice as fast as the day before. However, the flow slowed to 4-5 m/hour on the 10th. Weak tremor had been felt on the caldera floor since the start of the eruption. On 10 April the seismicity increased, and earthquakes with Mercalli intensities of III-IV occurred, probably due to obstruction of the main vent, where lava fountaining stopped briefly.

Richard Moore and Frank Trusdell (U.S. Geological Survey) arrived on 10 April to assess the volcanic hazards and advise the Government of Cape Verde. With the help of Martins, they installed a seismograph ~1 km S of the erupting vent. The seismograph recorded continuous tremor, indicative of the ongoing eruption, as well as microearthquakes (M

Gaspar noted that on 11 April two main lava rivers had velocities of 5-6 m/s near the vent. One lobe moved towards the W and fed the flow-front moving towards Portela and Bangaeira villages. The other more active lobe was directed SW into the Cova Tina depression. The USGS team observed relatively low-volume eruptions of gas-rich spatter slowly building a cone, and lava cascading rapidly down the W flank of Pico being directed W and SW by high levees. The N flow-front, near Portela, stagnated during 10-11 April. At 1830 on 11 April, advancing flows were confined to the S part of the caldera, where two small lobes were moving W at a rate of ~15-20 m/hour, travelling S of the flows erupted the previous week.

During the morning of 12 April eruptive activity consisted of Strombolian gas-rich spatter ejection; volumetric output remained relatively low. At 1549 activity changed to Hawaiian-type fire fountains that typically rose 100-120 m above the vent, slowly building a scoria cone 100 m high. A new lava flow that started on 12 April overrode the first flow, which had stagnated ~1 km SW of Portela. This flow quickly traveled 3 km from the vent in the general direction of Portela, but remained entirely on top of the first flow. All other lava flows were inactive at 1900 on 12 April. Preliminary estimates of erupted volume through 12 April ranged from 50 to 75 x 106 m3 of lava.

Although volumetric output remained low, Hawaiian-type fire fountains continued on 13 April and a flow confined to a 3-m-wide channel cascaded down the W flank of the new cone. That channel continued to feed a sluggish aa flow moving W then N. The cinder and spatter cone reached a height of 120 m. The overriding lava flow only moved N another 46 m; most of the additional lava was expended covering the first flow. The added mass on top of the first flow also caused it to spread laterally.

Activity on 14 April continued unabated, increasing the height of the new cone to 130 m. The E lobe of the second flow reactivated and moved 470 m N during 13-14 April. At 1900 on 14 April the second flow was within 235 m of the distal end of the first flow, and lateral spreading was occurring at the flow margins. At this time the distal portion of the first lobe showed signs of renewed movement, induced by pressure from the overriding aa flow. The thick aa flow continued to spread slowly W the next day; maximum lateral spreading S of Boca de Fonte was ~3 m. The new E lobe of the second flow advanced an additional 6 m and stopped. At 1700 on 15 April the most active part of the overriding flow was on its NW side. Much of the lava production apparently went towards thickening the central part of the flow, estimated to be 16 m thick. At 1800 on 15 April spatter fountains were ~100 m high and cinder was falling as far as 2 km S of the vent.

Activity remained generally constant on 16 April, with fire fountains typically rising 100-120 m; the scoria cone stood 140 m tall. Estimates of lava-channel dimensions and speeds through 16 April yielded an erupted lava volume of 2.5-8 x 106 m3/day. The flow-front became remobilized at 1535 on 16 April, and by 1700 had moved 38 m beyond and NE of the distal end of the first flow. At that time the lava front was ~534 m from the nearest house in Portela. A lava temperature of 1,056°C was measured with a thermocouple in a spiny aa breakout near the terminus of the flow. From a few hundred meters away, USGS geologists watched the roof of a small house burn; it was buried soon thereafter. There was also considerable lateral spreading of the flow S of Boca de Fonte on 16 April. In this area, the flow-front monitor lines showed westward movement of 19-26.5 m. At 1800 the flow was still active and 41-72 m E of the Portela access road. Thickness at the margins of the active flows ranged from 1 to 20 m. The greater thicknesses are a strong indication that a breakout of spiny pahoehoe or aa can be expected, advancing the flow.

Fogo Island (476 km2), with a population of ~33,000, consists of a single massive volcano with an 8-km-wide caldera breached to the E; the W rim rises 700 m above the caldera floor. The central cone in the caldera, the highest point in the Cape Verde Islands, was apparently almost continuously active from the time of Portuguese settlement in 1500 A.D. until around 1760. Later historical lava flows reached the E coast. The last eruption was during June-August 1951 from caldera vents S and NW of the central cone. That eruption, also preceded by earthquakes, began with ejection of pyroclastic material that formed Mt. Rendall and Mt. Orlando (figure 2).

Reference. Neumann van Padang, M., Richards, A.F., Machado, F., Bravo, T., Baker, P.E., and LeMaitre, R.W., 1967, Catalogue of active volcanoes of the world including solfatara fields, part XXI, Atlantic Ocean: Rome, IAVCEI, 128 p.

Geologic Background. The island of Fogo consists of a single massive stratovolcano that is the most prominent of the Cape Verde Islands. The roughly circular 25-km-wide island is truncated by a large 9-km-wide caldera that is breached to the east and has a headwall 1 km high. The caldera is located asymmetrically NE of the center of the island and was formed as a result of massive lateral collapse of the ancestral Monte Armarelo edifice. A very youthful steep-sided central cone, Pico, rises more than 1 km above the caldera floor to about 100 m above the caldera rim, forming the 2829 m high point of the island. Pico, which is capped by a 500-m-wide, 150-m-deep summit crater, was apparently in almost continuous activity from the time of Portuguese settlement in 1500 CE until around 1760. Later historical lava flows, some from vents on the caldera floor, reached the eastern coast below the breached caldera.

Information Contacts: J. Gaspar and N. Wallenstein, Universidad dos Açores; A. Mota Gomes, Instituto Superior de Educação de Cabo Verde (ISE), Cape Verde; F. Costa and E. Correia, Centro de Geografia do Instituto de Investigação Cientifica de Tropical (IICT), [Portugal]; R. Moore, USGS; F. Trusdell, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory; V. Carvalho Martins, U.S. Embassy, Cape Verde; UNDHA; Reuters; UPI; LUSA News Agency, RTP Internacional Television, Channel 1 Television, and TSF Radio, Lisbon.


Galeras (Colombia) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Galeras

Colombia

1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Earthquake on 4 March kills six people and precedes more felt earthquakes

According to INGEOMINAS, at 1823 on 4 March a M 4.7-4.8 earthquake struck Galeras's NE flank (figure 73). The USGS National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) reported the earthquake as M 4.5. The preliminary location for the event was provided by the Observatory's network (stations 0.9, 1.6, 2.1, 11.0, 5.0, 5.5 and 9.0 km from the active crater); the hypocenter (at 1.26°N, 77.33°W) was ~4 km NE of the active cone at 13 km depth. Signals from the earthquake saturated all of the stations in the local network; the earthquake itself was clearly felt in SW Colombia's in the E part of the Department of Nariño.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Isoseismal map of the 4 March earthquake near Galeras prepared using the European microseismic scale. Courtesy of INGEOMINAS.

During the 3 hours following the event there were 130 aftershocks, at least 11 felt, the majority with magnitudes between 2.6 and 3.6 (figures 74 and 75). Subsequent events tended to decrease in magnitude, but some were still felt near the epicenter. Two relatively strong aftershocks took place 6 days after the initial earthquake (at 0017 and 0632 on 10 March), M 4.1 and 3.8, setting off a second swarm of declining aftershocks (figure 75). During 4-31 March approximately 1,440 aftershocks took place from the same area (figures 74, 75, and 76). At least 67 aftershocks were felt; the last, at 0804 on 29 March, was M 2.1.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Histogram showing the number of seismic events/hour following the 4 March earthquake near Galeras. Courtesy of INGEOMINAS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Plot of earthquake magnitude with respect to time following the 4 March earthquake near Galeras. Calculated magnitude values (M) were based on a function of the earthquakes duration. The graphic includes only earthquakes whose amplitude is >=2.5 m/sec. This value was the minimum classification parameter at "Crater-2," a station 1.6 km S of the active crater. Courtesy of INGEOMINAS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Map showing seismicity near Galeras (top), and vertical N-S cross-section (bottom) showing the pattern of located earthquakes, 4-31 March. Courtesy of INGEOMINAS.

Large measured tilt coincided with the main shock. The maximum tilt changes were registered by electronic tiltmeters as 3 µrad, and by short leveling line vectors as 15 µrad. The tiltmeters returned to their previous levels almost immediately; the short leveling line vectors returned in a few days.

The epicentral area basically corresponded to the rural municipalities of Pasto . . . and other adjacent towns (figures 73 and 76), settlements with houses that were for the most part single-level and of rudimentary adobe construction. The houses were seriously affected and INGEOMINAS reported that some were ". . . damaged so badly as to be ready to collapse, also with caved-in roofs and loose tiles, that made living in them impossible and insecure. In the city of Pasto the constructions most affected were the antiquated structures . . . ." INGEOMINAS also related that: "In one neighborhood to the N of the city, the principal earthquake caused the loosening of blocks on a slope that fell on a nearby house, causing its destruction and killing 6 of its inhabitants. Other effects related to the main shock and its aftershocks were loud noises and small landslides on slopes near the wagon trails close to the epicentral region." NEIC reports stated that eight people were killed and four were injured. They mentioned that there were ~250 aftershocks, and that over 50 houses were damaged or destroyed, many by seismically triggered mudslides.

INGEOMINAS noted that previous seismic swarms had similar or adjacent epicenters. In both April and November 1993 swarms of M < 4.5 were felt in the same epicentral region, although the 4 March earthquake was itself larger and associated with more energetic, more numerous, and more frequent aftershocks. Soon after the earthquake, on 6, 11, and 19 March, the local seismic system around Galeras registered unusual, high-amplitude seismic events possibly associated with an explosive eruption. During these events signal amplitude grew for a few seconds, rapidly escalated, and then quickly decayed, the entire event lasting perhaps two minutes. The high-amplitude part of the event generally caused many of the stations in the local system to saturate. Associated with these high amplitude events, people located ~6-9 km from the volcano reported loud noises suggesting that an explosive eruption may have occurred. This hypothesis was unconfirmed due to poor visibility.

Other than these large earthquakes at Galeras, low- and high-frequency events and "butterfly" events remained low. The high- and low-frequency events were chiefly located at shallow depths (<3 km) near to, or just W of, the active cone. During the last days of March there were 12 "screw-type" events (<=3 events/day). The screw-type events had durations of up to 85 seconds and multiple constituent frequencies in the 1.5-7 Hz range. Screw-type events were registered before the majority of the 1992-1993 eruptive events and before some 1994-1995 degassing episodes.

As in previous months, the concentrations of SO2 obtained by mobile, ground-based correlation spectroscopy (COSPEC) remained <100 t/d. The volcano was clearly visible on various occasions, particularly at the beginning of the month, but the gas column was only visible a few times from the city of Pasto. At these times the column had heights under 300 m, and emission were coming from the W sector of the volcano. Sometimes, when the column was blown E, sulfurous odors were reported.

M. Calvache recently sent us color photographs showing Galeras's summit morphology in December 1991, March 1993, and March 1995. The December 1991 image was most suitable for black-and-white reproduction (figure 77).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Galeras's summit area viewed from the SE in December 1991. Deformes fumarole (left center) and the small elliptical El Pinta crater (right center on crater rim) are still present in 1995 (see sketch map in 20:2). CCourtesy 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, Pasto; NEIC.


Irazu (Costa Rica) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Irazu

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lake rises one meter

"Irazú remains calm [in February]. Fumarolic activity is still weak in the main crater and on the NW flanks. The lake in the main crater has a temperature between 18 and 23°C, and the water surface rose about 1 m with respect to the same date last year. The lake holds an estimated 430 million m3 of water. Acidity and temperature of hot springs surrounding the volcano remain unchanged."

On 17 April Soto added that "tectonic-like seismic events have been recorded in the vicinity of the volcano during 1995 (8 in January, 8 in February, 14 in March . . . )." The hypocenters were located within 20 km of the main crater. The biggest earthquake took place on 21 March, about 15 km from the main crater.

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, ICE.


Krakatau (Indonesia) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

6.102°S, 105.423°E; summit elev. 155 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions continue, sending ash plumes daily up to 500 m above the summit

Volcanic activity continued through January-March 1995, sending grayish white plumes 150-500 m above the summit. Sounds like thunder were sometimes heard at the VSI observatory . . . and glow was visible at night as high as 50 m above the summit. The daily number of explosions in January and early February fluctuated between 50 and 150 events. From mid-February to mid-March the average number of explosions increased to 150-200 events/day (figure 10).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Daily number of explosion earthquakes (bars) and height of the ash plume (line) at Krakatau, January-March 1995. Courtesy of VSI.

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

Information Contacts: W. Tjetjep, VSI.


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — March 1995 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)


Moderate emissions and explosions from Crater 2

"Monitoring was temporarily discontinued on 18 March. Until that time activity at Crater 2 was at a moderate level, similar to that observed in February, while Crater 3 showed a low level of activity. Emissions from Crater 2 were mostly white vapour, weak to moderate in volume. Occasionally grey ash clouds were emitted. Light ash fall took place around the crater. One loud explosion was heard on 8 March with weak explosions on the following two days and low rumbling sounds on the 16th. Steady weak night glow was observed on 16 and 17 March. Crater 3 released very thin to occasionally moderately thick white vapour. Thin blue vapour was observed on 1 and 7 March. There were no audible sounds and no night glows. Both seismographs remained inoperative throughout the month."

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

Information Contacts: B. Talai, RVO.


Lascar (Chile) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Lascar

Chile

23.37°S, 67.73°W; summit elev. 5592 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small ash eruptions and increased height of gas plume

Activity in February-March 1995. For the period 18 February to 10 March 1995 Lascar remained fairly active—frequently changing the altitude of its gas plume, producing small ash eruptions, and ejecting dense columns of water vapor (figure 24). The plume, which was typically pulsing, had a yellowish or brownish color. On 23 and 25 February underground booming noises ('retumbos') were heard 4 km from the volcano on both the N and NW flanks and at the village of Soncor, 25 km SW. On 24 February the plume's height above the crater suddenly increased from 200 m to 1,000 m (figure 24). This elevated "sustained" plume height marked the beginning of a series of small eruptions whose "transient" column heights are depicted by the arrow tips on figure 24. The sustained plume height initially remained comparatively high, reaching a maximum of 2 km above the volcano on 3 March; later, sustained plume height decreased gradually to ~500 m (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Estimated sustained plume and transient eruption-column heights above Lascar's crater for 18 February-10 March 1995. For the sustained plume heights, error bars increase in size with plume altitude due to problems of perspective. The transient eruption-column height is given by the arrow tips. Courtesy of S. Matthews and M. Gardeweg.

At 0800 on 26 February a small ash-bearing eruption was reported by the Carabineros from 35 km NW of the volcano in Toconao. A black column rose at least 200 m (probably higher) above the crater. Retumbos associated with this eruption were audible at the offices of MINSAL in Toconao. Three larger eruptions were observed on 7 March, between 0000 and 0100, by Elcira Araya at the MINSAL offices. In each case a dark column rose an estimated 3 km above the crater. Plumes from these columns blew NW over Toconao and many residents reported a strong sulfur smell. The type of activity described (retumbos and small ash-rich eruptions) has in the past preceded larger Vulcanian eruptions. It is thought likely that such a Vulcanian eruption will occur in the near future.

Recent crater collapse and eruptive activity. At least two eruptive events took place in late 1994, both producing columns 4-km high. In November, Luis Aracena, a tour guide from San Pedro de Atacama, climbed Lascar and noted that a portion of the S rim had collapsed into the crater. Fractures on the S side of the crater had enlarged with an increase in fumarolic activity. He also found that the central hole in the crater floor had deepened substantially. One of his photos revealed large new arcuate fractures along the base of the talus slope at the foot of the NE crater wall.

Volcanologists concluded that the crater floor had continued to subside, destabilizing the walls and inducing them to collapse. The crater is thus becoming deeper and wider. In addition, blockage of the gas jets in the base of the crater due to subsidence on ring fractures and rockfalls from the walls has led to periodic 'throat clearing' eruptions. The edifice was expected to become increasingly unstable so long as this activity continues. Thus, the Carabineros in Toconao began advising tourists not to climb the volcano due to the high risk of both small explosive eruptions and of additional collapse along the S rim (along the favored ascent route).

Geologic Background. Láscar is the most active volcano of the northern Chilean Andes. The andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcano contains six overlapping summit craters. Prominent lava flows descend its NW flanks. An older, higher stratovolcano 5 km E, Volcán Aguas Calientes, displays a well-developed summit crater and a probable Holocene lava flow near its summit (de Silva and Francis, 1991). Láscar consists of two major edifices; activity began at the eastern volcano and then shifted to the western cone. The largest eruption took place about 26,500 years ago, and following the eruption of the Tumbres scoria flow about 9000 years ago, activity shifted back to the eastern edifice, where three overlapping craters were formed. Frequent small-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the mid-19th century, along with periodic larger eruptions that produced ashfall hundreds of kilometers away. The largest historical eruption took place in 1993, producing pyroclastic flows to 8.5 km NW of the summit and ashfall in Buenos Aires.

Information Contacts: S. Matthews, Univ of Bristol; M. Gardeweg, SERNAGEOMIN, Santiago.


Long Valley (United States) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Long Valley

United States

37.7°N, 118.87°W; summit elev. 3390 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Summary of 1994 seismicity, deformation, and CO2 discharge

The following summarizes more detailed reports (Hill, 1995; Johnson and others, 1995; and Sorey and others, 1995) on caldera seismicity, deformation, and CO2 discharge at Mammoth Mountain during 1994.

Earthquake activity within the caldera gradually decreased through the first months of 1994, and activity thereafter remained moderate with a few exceptions. During the entire year there were only ten-twelve M ~3 earthquakes in the caldera, in comparison with 30 in 1993. The earthquakes continued to cluster in the caldera's S moat, and gradually moved northward. During 1994, earthquakes with M <2 took place beneath Mammoth Mountain at depths of 4-20 km.

Seismicity in the Sierra Nevada block, S of the caldera, persisted at a moderate level throughout the year and was concentrated in a broad band extending S from Mount Morrison to Red Slate Mountain. In the Chalfant Valley, E of the Long Valley Caldera and W of the White Mountains, over 20 M ~3 earthquakes occurred throughout 1994, with many smaller late M <2 aftershocks associated with the M 6.4 Chalfant Valley earthquake of 1986.

Swelling of Long Valley's resurgent dome continued at a steady rate of 2-3 ppm/year, resembling 1993 activity. Deformation measurements, using a two-color geodetic distance-meter (geodimeter), revealed steady extension rates to the N and E of a central survey site (CASA, figure 17) from mid-1991 through the end of 1994. To the W and SW of CASA, extension rates gradually decelerated beginning in mid-to-late 1993 and continuing through 1994.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Earthquake epicenters in the Long Valley region, 1994. Modified from Hill (1995).

Dead mature pine trees were found in four separate areas on the flanks of Mammoth Mountain during 1994. Reports of asphyxia among workers entering poorly ventilated parts of the tree kill areas and an area near the top of the Chair 3 ski lift were also recorded during 1994, and were correlated with high (10-90%) CO2 concentrations in the soils (Sorey and others, 1995). The area of tree mortality has expanded since 1989, when the first tree death was reported. Several explanations have been put forward, including: 1) dike intrusion during the intense earthquake swarm below Mammoth Mountain of April-December 1989; 2) ongoing shallow silicic magma intrusion; 3) ongoing input of basaltic magma from a deeper source associated with the long-period earthquakes that began in 1989; and 4) gas release from a volatile-rich vapor zone surrounding areas of previously emplaced igneous rocks.

References: Hill, David P., 1995, Long Valley Caldera Monitoring Report (Oct - Dec 1994): U.S. Geological Survey, Office of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Engineering, 345 Middlefield Rd. Menlo Park, CA 94025, 16 p.

Sorey, Mike, Evans, Bill, and Farrar, Chris, 1994, Gas composition and discharge rate at Mammoth Mountain, in Hill, 1995, Long Valley Caldera Monitoring Report (Oct - Dec 1994): U.S. Geological Survey, 2 p.

Geologic Background. The large 17 x 32 km Long Valley caldera east of the central Sierra Nevada Range formed as a result of the voluminous Bishop Tuff eruption about 760,000 years ago. Resurgent doming in the central part of the caldera occurred shortly afterwards, followed by rhyolitic eruptions from the caldera moat and the eruption of rhyodacite from outer ring fracture vents, ending about 50,000 years ago. During early resurgent doming the caldera was filled with a large lake that left strandlines on the caldera walls and the resurgent dome island; the lake eventually drained through the Owens River Gorge. The caldera remains thermally active, with many hot springs and fumaroles, and has had significant deformation, seismicity, and other unrest in recent years. The late-Pleistocene to Holocene Inyo Craters cut the NW topographic rim of the caldera, and along with Mammoth Mountain on the SW topographic rim, are west of the structural caldera and are chemically and tectonically distinct from the Long Valley magmatic system.

Information Contacts: D. Hill, USGS Menlo Park.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — March 1995 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)


Gentle vapor emissions, weak glow, and low-level seismicity

"South Crater released occasional gentle emissions of thin-to-thick white vapour during most of the month, but from 28-31 March the amount of vapour emissions decreased. Thin wispy blue vapour emissions were observed on the 31st. Weak steady glow was observed occasionally (on 3, 22-24, and 26-28 March). There were no audible sounds produced. Main Crater also released occasional gentle, thin-to-thick white vapour emissions. There were no night glows and no audible sounds. Seismicity fluctuated but was at a low level during most of the month. A decline in seismic activity occurred on 26 March and persisted for the remainder of the month."

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

Information Contacts: B. Talai, RVO.


Martin (United States) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Martin

United States

58.172°N, 155.361°W; summit elev. 1863 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Large steam plumes, but no eruptive activity

On 15 March, the U.S. National Weather Service received a report from the town of King Salmon of steam plumes rising 600-900 m over the general vicinity of Mount Martin volcano in Katmai National Park. No eruptive activity was detected during analysis of satellite imagery. The mostly ice-covered Mount Martin stratovolcano has a poorly documented record of minor historical eruptive activity. However, vigorous steam plumes from its summit crater are common.

Geologic Background. The mostly ice-covered Mount Martin stratovolcano lies at the SW end of the Katmai volcano cluster in Katmai National Park. The volcano was named for George C. Martin, the first person to visit and describe the area after the 1912 eruption. It is capped by a 300-m-wide summit crater, which is ice-free because of an almost-constant steam plume and contains a shallow acidic lake. The edifice overlies glaciated lava flows of the adjacent mid- to late-Pleistocene Alagoshak volcano on the WSW and was constructed entirely during the Holocene. Martin consists of a small fragmental cone that was the source of ten thick overlapping blocky dacitic lava flows, largely uneroded by glaciers, that descend 10 km to the NW, cover 31 km2, and form about 95% of the eruptive volume of the volcano. Two reports of historical eruptions that originated from uncertain sources were attributed by Muller et al. (1954) to Martin.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory.


Poas (Costa Rica) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Poas

Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued moderate seismicity, but no tremor; lake rise

During February the green-turquoise colored lake rose to its December 1994 level. The lake contained clouds of suspended sulfur, and had a temperature of 47°C. Lake evaporation caused minor steam clouds (columns <50 m tall); in the S part of the lake constant bubbling took place with sporadic gushing of water.

During February seismic station POA2 (located 2.7 km SW of the principal crater) registered 4,937 earthquakes (high, medium, and low-frequency events combined). This was the largest number of earthquakes since July 1994. It followed a low of 2,555 earthquakes in December 1994 and previous highs of ~7,000 earthquakes in March and April 1994. Although up to 200-300 hours of tremor took place during mid-1994, in February 1995 less than an hour of tremor was registered. Events of high frequency (above 3 Hz) took place 20 times, a comparatively high number for Poás.

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

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, V. Barboza, and J. Barquero, OVSICORI; G. Soto, ICE.


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes; two SO2-flux measurements from January (1-4 kilotons/day)

. . . SO2 flux was estimated twice during January using COSPEC. On 15 January scientists made airborne measurements but were unable to establish a GPS navigational fix for 2-3 hours and so made wind speed estimates from map positions and estimates by their pilot, Sergio Zambrano. On 28 January the plume was traversed by a van on a route between the Puebla airport and a junction N of Atlixco; wind speed was from pilot reports to the Puebla airport. Two 15-minute eruptions of dark ash were noted (at 0922 and 1015). Results of these SO2 flux measurements were as follows: 1) 15 January, 3,680 ± 300 tons/day; 2) 28 January, 2,000 ± 1,000 tons/day.

At 1000 on 27 January a light beige plume rose no more than 100-200 m above the crater rim and was visible downwind for about 100 km. In addition, sufficient ash fell on the Puebla airport during the night of 27 January to make the tarmac (airport surface) light in color and to visibly cover freshly washed planes.

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

Information Contacts: Stan Williams, Tobias Fisher, and Caitlin Gorman, Arizona State University, USA; Claus Siebe and Hugo Delgado, Instituto de Geofísica, UNAM, Coyoacan.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — March 1995 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)


Mild explosive activity at Tavurvur

"Explosions at Tavurvur were mostly mild with emission clouds rising slowly to ~1 km above the crater at intervals of ~5-15 minutes. Seismic activity was slightly elevated on 1-2 March, but then decreased sharply in accord with weaker visible activity. The activity remained low for 24 hours then started to increase at a steady rate until it peaked on the 6th. Activity decayed the following day, but then began a gradual recovery that continued until 14 March. The explosions continued at intervals of ~5-15 minutes with ash emissions lasting 2-5 minutes. On 15 March a slight increase in seismic activity occurred as indicated by larger and more frequent explosion earthquakes, although visible activity appeared unchanged. Seismicity peaked on the 19th and then declined slightly over a period of ~48 hours. During the next 10 days the activity showed minor fluctuations but on average there were ~6 events/hour. On 30 March at 0805 and 2034 two strong explosions occurred. Dense ash clouds rose ~3 km above the crater and the flanks of Tavurvur were showered with lava fragments. These explosions signified a dramatic change in the pattern of activity as the frequency of explosions dropped markedly. The intervals between explosions sometimes lasted several hours.

"Aerial inspections of Tavurvur and Vulcan were conducted on 6, 13, and 21 March. The active crater at Tavurvur was bowl-shaped. On two occasions (6 and 21 March) there appeared to be an ash-mantled lava mound on the floor of the crater. At the NW and SE edges of the mound were a number of small vents (~1-2 m wide). These vents were aligned roughly in two arcs, which might represent small fissures. Between eruptions some vents emitted blue vapour. When inspected on 14 March, three rubble-covered vent areas were noted on the S, E, and NE parts of the crater floor. Low ridges of ash separated these vents. Weak fumaroles were present on parts of Tavurvur's main crater, especially on the N Wall. Fumarolic activity was also noted on the 1994 lava flow.

"Apart from the seismic activity related to events at Tavurvur, which were basically low-frequency explosion earthquakes, overall seismic activity of Rabaul Caldera was very low. Only five well-located high-frequency earthquakes were recorded (compared to 4 in February and 28 in January). Three occurred outside the caldera and the other two were under Tavurvur. The electronic tiltmeter at Matupit Island continued to show a trend of slow deflation of the caldera.

"Vulcan continued to exhibit only weak fumarolic activity at the W base of the 1994 crater. Hot springs along the N shore yielded temperatures of ~100°C. Rabaul continued to be under a State of Emergency with access to severely affected areas being controlled because of the risk of mud flows and flooding. Since the eruption started in September 1994, only one death was reported related to flooding."

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: B. Talai, RVO.


San Miguel (El Salvador) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

San Miguel

El Salvador

13.434°N, 88.269°W; summit elev. 2130 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased seismicity and minor ashfall near the crater

New fumaroles were found near the central vent in early January, followed by an increase in seismic activity from an average of 20-30 events/day. On 8 February there were 52 recorded earthquakes. Seismicity increased to 73 events on 19 February, 100 on the 20th, and peaked at 267 on the 21st. This activity then declined on 22 February to an average of 76 events/day, a rate which continued through at least 24 March. Minor ashfall was reported on 23 March within ~100 m of the crater.

The Centro de Investigaciones Geotécnicas (CIG) concluded that this activity was no cause for alarm, but they would increase their monitoring efforts. The population at risk from an eruption with significant ashfall is a mix of urban and rural residents. The city of San Miguel (10 km NE) has a population of ~150,000, and the rural zone that would likely be affected has a population of ~100,000.

Geologic Background. The symmetrical cone of San Miguel volcano, one of the most active in El Salvador, rises from near sea level to form one of the country's most prominent landmarks. The unvegetated summit rises above slopes draped with coffee plantations. A broad, deep crater complex that has been frequently modified by historical eruptions (recorded since the early 16th century) caps the truncated summit, also known locally as Chaparrastique. Radial fissures on the flanks of the basaltic-andesitic volcano have fed a series of historical lava flows, including several erupted during the 17th-19th centuries that reached beyond the base of the volcano on the N, NE, and SE sides. The SE-flank flows are the largest and form broad, sparsely vegetated lava fields crossed by highways and a railroad skirting the base of the volcano. The location of flank vents has migrated higher on the edifice during historical time, and the most recent activity has consisted of minor ash eruptions from the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Jorge Alberto Rodríguez Deras, Director, Centro de Investigaciones Geotécnicas, San Salvador, El Salvador.


Semeru (Indonesia) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Semeru

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash eruptions, lava avalanches, and summit glow

Activity from the Jonggring Seloko summit crater continued in January and February 1995. Ash eruptions rose as high as 600 m above the summit. Lava avalanches increased in frequency during January and early February, and traveled down the Kembar River drainage to a distance of 750 m from the summit. Glow was sometimes observed 50-100 m above the summit. On the morning of 6 February three pyroclastic avalanches moved 800-1,000 m from the summit along the Kembar River before turning into the Kobokan River.

Tremor and volcanic earthquakes (both A- and B-type) were variable, with 20-110 events/day and 1-12 events/day, respectively (figure 5, top). Maximum tremor amplitude was 3-18 mm during the first week of January before increasing and peaking at 30 mm on the 8th. The daily number of explosions, recorded by a seismograph, showed an overall decline from 40-190 events/day in December to

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Tremor events and B-type volcanic earthquakes (top), and explosion and avalanche events detected by seismograph (bottom) at Semeru, December 1994-March 1995. Courtesy of VSI

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

Information Contacts: W. Tjetjep, VSI.


Slamet (Indonesia) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Slamet

Indonesia

7.242°S, 109.208°E; summit elev. 3428 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased seismicity and gas emission

Seismicity increased in January-February 1995. Continuous volcanic tremor (maximum amplitude 21 mm) was recorded during 14-19 January, followed by intermittent tremor (maximum amplitude 10 mm) until 26 January and during 6-10 February. Earthquakes associated with gas emissions were recorded at an average rate of 50 events/day in late January; by the end of February these had increased to 150 events/day (figure 06sla01f). No explosive activity was observed or detected.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Daily number of gas-emission earthquakes and tremor amplitude at Slamet, January-February 1995. Courtesy of VSI.

Geologic Background. Slamet, Java's second highest volcano at 3428 m and one of its most active, has a cluster of about three dozen cinder cones on its lower SE-NE flanks and a single cinder cone on the western flank. It is composed of two overlapping edifices, an older basaltic-andesite to andesitic volcano on the west and a younger basaltic to basaltic-andesite one on the east. Gunung Malang II cinder cone on the upper E flank on the younger edifice fed a lava flow that extends 6 km E. Four craters occur at the summit of Gunung Slamet, with activity migrating to the SW over time. Historical eruptions, recorded since the 18th century, have originated from a 150-m-deep, 450-m-wide, steep-walled crater at the western part of the summit and have consisted of explosive eruptions generally lasting a few days to a few weeks.

Information Contacts: W. Tjetjep, VSI.


Tengger Caldera (Indonesia) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Tengger Caldera

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption at Bromo causes ashfall 20 km away; gas emissions

An ash eruption from the active vent on the N side of Bromo crater at 0600 on 3 March produced a dark gray plume that rose 100-200 m above the crater rim. The plume extended >20 km S and SE, causing ashfall (0.5-2 mm thick) that covered ~10 km2 of cultivated land in and around the area of Sukapura (~20 km away). No injuries were reported as a result of this activity. Continuous weak-to-moderate gas emissions lasted through the end of March. COSPEC measurements showed that the SO2 flux was 6 t/d on 8 March. SO2 emission gradually increased to a peak of 22.8 t/d on the 18th before dropping again on 19-20 March (figure 1). Measurements during 27-31 March were again higher, 15-21 t/d.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. SO2 values measured by COSPEC (dots) and daily number of gas-emission tremor events (solid line) at Bromo (Tengger Caldera), March 1995. Courtesy of VSI.

Volcanic tremor events associated with the gas emissions (maximum amplitude 2-7 mm) were recorded continuously beginning on 9 March using PS-2 and Teledyne seismographs installed between 500 and 1,000 m from the active crater. The number of distinct earthquakes (maximum amplitude1,100 to ~400, and gradually decreased through the end of the month (figure 1). Three tectonic earthquakes were detected on 23 February, and one each on 24 and 28 February, and 28 March.

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

Information Contacts: W. Tjetjep, VSI.


Turrialba (Costa Rica) — March 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Turrialba

Costa Rica

10.025°N, 83.767°W; summit elev. 3340 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak fumarolic activity

"Weak fumarolic activity was witnessed in the SW and Central craters during an overflight in February." Previously described tilt measurements in 1994 (18:01) disclosed no changes above detection limits.

Geologic Background. Turrialba, the easternmost of Costa Rica's Holocene volcanoes, is a large vegetated basaltic-to-dacitic stratovolcano located across a broad saddle NE of Irazú volcano overlooking the city of Cartago. The massive edifice covers an area of 500 km2. Three well-defined craters occur at the upper SW end of a broad 800 x 2200 m summit depression that is breached to the NE. Most activity originated from the summit vent complex, but two pyroclastic cones are located on the SW flank. Five major explosive eruptions have occurred during the past 3500 years. A series of explosive eruptions during the 19th century were sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows. Fumarolic activity continues at the central and SW summit craters.

Information Contacts: G. Soto, ICE.


Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — March 1995 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)


Continued moderate vapor emissions; SO2 data from October 1994

Activity on most days during January-March remained at a low level, with only moderate or moderate-strong thick white vapor emissions. Seismicity was low during the first week of January, the first three weeks of February, and the first three weeks of March; the seismograph was not operational at other times.

On 6 October 1994 the stratovolcano was visited by Chris McKee and Rod Stewart (RVO), and Stan Williams and Steve Schaefer (ASU), because of reports that the gas plume was abnormally large. Williams suggested that the plume appeared larger in volume and visible extent than during his two other visits in 1983 and 1989. Airborne COSPEC measurements made in clear atmospheric conditions showed the SO2 flux to be 1,260 ± 100 t/d. Prior measurements in 1983 and 1989 were 71 and 120 t/d, respectively.

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: B. Talai, C. McKee, and R. Stewart, RVO; S. Williams and S. Schaefer, Arizona State University.

Atmospheric Effects

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

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

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

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

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



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

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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


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

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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