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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

Ibu (Indonesia) Frequent ash plumes and small lava flows in the crater through December 2019

Lateiki (Tonga) Eruption 13-22 October 2019 creates new island, which disappears by mid-January 2020

Aira (Japan) Ongoing explosions with ejecta and ash plumes, along with summit incandescence, during July-December 2019

Suwanosejima (Japan) Explosions, ash emissions, and summit incandescence in July-December 2019

Barren Island (India) Thermal anomalies and small ash plumes during February-April 2019 and September 2019-January 2020

Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) Explosion producing an ash plume and pyroclastic surge resulted in fatalities and injuries on 9 December 2019

Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) Frequent gas and some ash emissions during May-December 2019 with some hot avalanches

Nyiragongo (DR Congo) Lava lake persists during June-November 2019

Ebeko (Russia) Frequent moderate explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall continue through November 2019

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) Intermittent ash plumes with significant gas and steam emissions during January 2016-December 2017

Sabancaya (Peru) Explosions, ash and SO2 plumes, thermal anomalies, and lava dome growth during June-November 2019

Karangetang (Indonesia) Lava flows, strong thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam emissions, and ash plumes during May-November 2019



Ibu (Indonesia) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Ibu

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent ash plumes and small lava flows in the crater through December 2019

Heightened continuing activity at Ibu since March 2018 has been dominated by frequent ash explosions with weak ash plumes, and numerous thermal anomalies reflecting one or more weak lava flows (BGVN 43:05, 43:12, and 44:07). This report summarizes activity through December 2019, and is based on data from the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and various satellites.

Typical ash plumes during the reporting period of July-December 2019 rose 800 m above the crater, with the highest reported to 1.4 km in early October (table 5). They were usually noted a few times each month. According to MAGMA Indonesia, explosive activity caused the Aviation Color Code to be raised to ORANGE (second highest of four) on 14, 22, and 31 August, 4 and 30 September, and 15 and 20 October.

Table 5. Ash plumes and other volcanic activity reported at Ibu during December 2018-December 2019. Plume heights are reported above the crater rim. Data courtesy of PVMBG and Darwin VAAC.

Date Time Ash Plume Height Plume Drift Remarks
11 Dec 2018 -- 500 m -- Weather clouds prevented views in satellite data.
12 Jan 2019 1712 800 m S --
13 Jan 2019 0801 800 m S --
05-12 Feb 2019 -- 200-800 m E, S, W Weather conditions occasionally prevented observations.
25-26 Feb 2019 -- 1.1-1.7 km NE, ENE Thermal anomaly.
28 Feb 2019 -- 800 m N --
18 Mar 2019 -- 1.1 km E Plume drifted about 17 km NE.
23 Mar 2019 -- 1.1 km E --
28 Mar 2019 -- 800 m SE --
10 Apr 2019 -- 800 m N --
15-16 Apr 2019 -- 1.1 km N, NE --
18 Apr 2019 -- 800 m E --
07 May 2019 -- 1.1 km ESE --
08 May 2019 -- 1.1 km ESE --
09 May 2019 1821 600 m S Seismicity characterized by explosions, tremor, and rock avalanches.
10 May 2019 -- 500 m ESE --
14 May 2019 1846 800 m N --
14-16, 18-19 May 2019 -- 0.8-1.7 km NW, N, ENE --
23-24 May 2019 -- 1.1-1.4 km SE --
31 May 2019 -- 800 m W --
02 Jun 2019 -- 1.7 km W --
21 Jun 2019 -- 500 m N, NE --
24-25 Jun 2019 -- 0.2-1.1 km SE, ESE --
06 Jul 2019 -- 800 m N Intermittent thermal anomaly.
15 Jul 2019 -- 800 m NE --
07-12 Aug 2019 -- 200-800 m -- Plumes were white-to-gray.
14 Aug 2019 1107 800 m N Seismicity characterized by explosions and rock avalanches.
22 Aug 2019 0704 800 m W Seismicity characterized by explosions and rock avalanches.
31 Aug 2019 1847 800 m N Seismicity characterized by explosions and rock avalanches.
04 Sep 2019 0936 300 m S --
28 Sep 2019 -- 500-800 m WNW --
30 Sep 2019 1806 800 m N --
06-07 Oct 2019 -- 0.8-1.4 km S, N --
15 Oct 2019 0707 400 m S --
20 Oct 2019 0829 400 m W --
01-05 Nov 2019 -- 200-800 m E, N Plumes were white-and-gray.
20-21, 23-25 Nov 2019 -- 500-800 m Multiple Thermal anomaly on 21 Nov.
03 Dec 2019 -- 800 m NE Thermal anomaly.
26 Dec 2019 -- 800 m S Discrete ash puffs in satellite imagery.

Thermal anomalies were sometimes noted by PVMBG, and were also frequently obvious in infrared satellite imagery suggesting lava flows and multiple active vents, as seen on 22 November 2019 (figure 19). Thermal anomalies using MODIS satellite instruments processed by the MODVOLC algorithm were recorded 2-4 days every month from July to December 2019. In contrast, the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected numerous hotspots on most days (figure 20).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Example of thermal activity in the Ibu crater on 22 November 2019, along with a plume drifting SE. One or more vents in the crater are producing small lava flows, an observation common throughout the reporting period. Sentinel-2 false color (urban) images (bands 12, 11, 4), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Thermal anomalies recorded at Ibu by the MIROVA system using MODIS infrared satellite data for the year 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

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


Lateiki (Tonga) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Lateiki

Tonga

19.18°S, 174.87°W; summit elev. 43 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption 13-22 October 2019 creates new island, which disappears by mid-January 2020

Lateiki (Metis Shoal) is one of several submarine and island volcanoes on the W side of the Tonga trench in the South Pacific. It has produced ephemeral islands multiple times since the first confirmed activity in the mid-19th century. Two eruptions, in 1967 and 1979, produced islands that survived for a few months before eroding beneath the surface. An eruption in 1995 produced a larger island that persisted, possibly until a new eruption in mid-October 2019 destroyed it and built a new short-lived island. Information was provided by the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, and from satellite information and news sources.

Review of eruptions during 1967-1995. The first reported 20th century eruption at this location was observed by sailors beginning on 12 December 1967 (CSLP 02-67); incandescent ejecta rose several hundred meters into the air and "steam and smoke" rose at least 1,000 m from the ocean surface. The eruption created a small island that was reported to be a few tens of meters high, and a few thousand meters in length and width. Eruptive activity appeared to end in early January 1968, and the island quickly eroded beneath the surface by the end of February (figure 6). When observed in April 1968 the island was gone, with only plumes of yellowish water in the area of the former island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Waves break over Lateiki on 19 February 1968, more than a month after the end of a submarine eruption that began in December 1967 and produced a short-lived island. Photo by Charles Lundquist, 1968 (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory).

A large steam plume and ejecta were observed on 19 June 1979, along with a "growing area of tephra" around the site with a diameter of 16 km by the end of June (SEAN 04:06). Geologists visited the site in mid-July and at that time the island was about 300 m long, 120 m wide, and 15 m high, composed of tephra ranging in size from ash to large bombs (SEAN 04:07); ash emissions were still occurring from the E side of the island. It was determined that the new island was located about 1 km E of the 1967-68 island. By early October 1979 the island had nearly disappeared beneath the ocean surface.

A new eruption was first observed on 6 June 1995. A new island appeared above the waves as a growing lava dome on 12 June (BGVN 20:06). Numerous ash plumes rose hundreds of meters and dissipated downwind. By late June an elliptical dome, about 300 x 250 m in size and 50 m high, had stopped growing. The new island it formed was composed of hardened lava and not the tuff cones of earlier islands (figure 7) according to visitors to the island; pumice was not observed. An overflight of the area in December 2006 showed that an island was still present (figure 8), possibly from the June 1995 eruption. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery confirming the presence of Lateiki Island and discolored water was clearly recorded multiple times between 2015 and 2019. This suggests that the island created in 1995 could have lasted for more than 20 years (figure 9).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. An aerial view during the 1995 eruption of Lateiki forming a lava dome. Courtesy of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Lateiki Island as seen on 7 December 2006; possibly part of the island that formed in 1995. Courtesy of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery confirmed the existence of an island present from 2015 through 2019 with little changes to its shape. This suggests that the island created in 1995 could have lasted for more than 20 years. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

New eruption in October 2019. The Kingdom of Tonga reported a new eruption at Lateiki on 13 October 2019, first noted by a ship at 0800 on 14 October. NASA satellite imagery confirmed the eruption taking place that day (figure 10). The following morning a pilot from Real Tonga Airlines photographed the steam plume and reported a plume height of 4.6-5.2 km altitude (figure 11). The Wellington VAAC issued an aviation advisory report noting the pilot's observation of steam, but no ash plume was visible in satellite imagery. They issued a second report on 22 October of a similar steam plume reported by a pilot at 3.7 km altitude. The MODVOLC thermal alert system recorded three thermal alerts from Lateiki, one each on 18, 20, and 22 October 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. NASA's Worldview Aqua/MODIS satellite imagery taken on 14 October 2019 over the Ha'apai and Vava'u region of Tonga showing the new eruption at Lateiki. Neiafu, Vava'u, is at the top right and Tofua and Kao islands are at the bottom left. The inset shows a closeup of Late Island at the top right and a white steam plume rising from Lateiki. Courtesy of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga and NASA Worldview.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Real Tonga Airline's Captain Samuela Folaumoetu'I photographed a large steam plume rising from Lateiki on the morning of 15 October 2019. Courtesy of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga.

The first satellite image of the eruption on 15 October 2019 showed activity over a large area, much bigger than the preexisting island that was visible on 10 October (figure 12). Although the eruption produced a steam plume that drifted several tens of kilometers SW and strong incandescent activity, no ash plume was visible, similar to reports of dense steam with little ash during the 1968 and 1979 eruptions (figure 13). Strong incandescence and a dense steam plume were still present on 20 October (figure 14).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. The first satellite image of the eruption of Lateiki on 15 October 2019 showed activity over a large area, much bigger than the preexisting island that was visible on 10 October (inset). The two images are the same scale; the island was about 100 m in diameter before the eruption. Image uses Natural Color Rendering (bands 4, 3, 2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. The steam plume from Lateiki on 15 October 2019 drifted more than 20 km SE from the volcano. A strong thermal anomaly from incandescent activity was present in the atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a) closeup of the same image (inset). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. A dense plume of steam drifted NW from Lateiki on 20 October 2019, and a strong thermal signal (inset) indicated ongoing explosive activity. Courtesy of Annamaria Luongo and Sentinel Hub Playground.

A clear satellite image on 30 October 2019 revealed an island estimated to be about 100 m wide and 400 m long, according to geologist Taaniela Kula of the Tonga Geological Service of the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources as reported by a local news source (Matangitonga). There was no obvious fumarolic steam activity from the surface, but a plume of greenish brown seawater swirled away from the island towards the NE (figure 15). In a comparison of the location of the old Lateiki island with the new one in satellite images, it was clear that the new island was located as far as 250 m to the NW (figure 16) on 30 October. Over the course of the next few weeks, the island's size decreased significantly; by 19 November, it was perhaps one-quarter the size it had been at the end of October. Lateiki Island continued to diminish during December 2019 and January 2020, and by mid-month only traces of discolored sea water were visible beneath the waves over the eruption site (figure 17).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. The new Lateiki Island was clearly visible on 30 October 2019 (top left), as was greenish-blue discoloration in the surrounding waters. It was estimated to be about 100 m wide and 400 m long that day. Its size decreased significantly over subsequent weeks; ten days later (top right) it was about half the size and two weeks later, on 14 November 2019 (bottom left), it was about one-third its original size. By 19 November (bottom right) only a fraction of the island remained. Greenish discolored water continued to be visible around the volcano. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. The location of the new Lateiki Island (Metis Shoal), shown here on 30 October 2019 in red, was a few hundred meters to the NW of the old position recorded on 5 September 2019 (in white). Courtesy of Annamaria Luongo and Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Lateiki Island disappeared beneath the waves in early January 2020, though plumes of discolored water continued to be observed later in the month. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Lateiki, previously known as Metis Shoal, is a submarine volcano midway between the islands of Kao and Late that has produced a series of ephemeral islands since the first confirmed activity in the mid-19th century. An island, perhaps not in eruption, was reported in 1781 and subsequently eroded away. During periods of inactivity following 20th-century eruptions, waves have been observed to break on rocky reefs or sandy banks with depths of 10 m or less. Dacitic tuff cones formed during the first 20th-century eruptions in 1967 and 1979 were soon eroded beneath the ocean surface. An eruption in 1995 produced an island with a diameter of 280 m and a height of 43 m following growth of a lava dome above the surface.

Information Contacts: Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, PO Box 5, Nuku'alofa, Tonga (URL: http://www.gov.to/ ); Royal New Zealand Air Force (URL: http://www.airforce.mil.nz/); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Annamaria Luongo, Brussels, Belgium (Twitter: @annamaria_84, URL: https://twitter.com/annamaria_84 ); Taaniela Kula, Tonga Geological Service, Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources; Matangi Tonga Online (URL: https://matangitonga.to/2019/11/06/eruption-lateiki).


Aira (Japan) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing explosions with ejecta and ash plumes, along with summit incandescence, during July-December 2019

Sakurajima is a highly active stratovolcano situated in the Aira caldera in southern Kyushu, Japan. Common volcanism for this recent eruptive episode since March 2017 includes frequent explosions, ash plumes, and scattered ejecta. Much of this activity has been focused in the Minamidake crater since 1955; the Showa crater on the E flank has had intermittent activity since 2006. This report updates activity during July through December 2019 with the primary source information from monthly reports by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and various satellite data.

During July to December 2019, explosive eruptions and ash plumes were reported multiple times per week by JMA. November was the most active, with 137 eruptive events, seven of which were explosive while August was the least active with no eruptive events recorded (table 22). Ash plumes rose between 800 m to 5.5 km above the crater rim during this reporting period. Large blocks of incandescent ejecta traveled as far as 1.7 km from the Minamidake crater during explosions in September through December. The Kagoshima Regional Meteorological Observatory (11 km WSW) reported monthly amounts of ashfall during each month, with a high of 143 g/m2 during October. Occasionally at night throughout this reporting period, crater incandescence was observed with a highly sensitive surveillance camera. All explosive activity originated from the Minamidake crater; the adjacent Showa crater produced mild thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam plumes.

Table 22. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Sakurajima's Minamidake crater in the Aira caldera, July through December 2019. The number of events that were explosive in nature are in parentheses. No events were recorded at the Showa crater during this time. Ashfall is measured at the Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory (KLMO), 10 km W of Showa crater. Data courtesy of JMA (July to December 2019 monthly reports).

Month Ash emissions (explosive) Max plume height above crater Max ejecta distance from crater Total amount of ashfall (g/m2)
Jul 2019 9 (5) 3.8 km 1.1 km --
Aug 2019 -- 800 m -- 2
Sep 2019 32 (11) 3.4 km 1.7 km 115
Oct 2019 62 (41) 3.0 km 1.7 km 143
Nov 2019 137 (77) 5.5 km 1.7 km 69
Dec 2019 71 (49) 3.3 km 1.7 km 54

An explosion that occurred at 1044 on 4 July 2019 produced an ash plume that rose up to 3.2 km above the Minamidake crater rim and ejected material 1.1 km from the vent. Field surveys conducted on 17 and 23 July measured SO2 emissions that were 1,200-1,800 tons/day. Additional explosions between 19-22 July generated smaller plumes that rose to 1.5 km above the crater and ejected material 1.1 km away. On 28 July explosions at 1725 and 1754 produced ash plumes 3.5-3.8 km above the crater rim, which resulted in ashfall in areas N and E of Sakurajima (figure 86), including Kirishima City (20 km NE), Kagoshima Prefecture (30 km SE), Yusui Town (40 km N), and parts of the Kumamoto Prefecture (140 km NE).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Photo of the Sakurajima explosion at 1725 on 28 July 2019 resulting in an ash plume rising 3.8 km above the crater (left). An on-site field survey on 29 July observed ashfall on roads and vegetation on the N side of the island (right). Photo by Moto Higashi-gun (left), courtesy of JMA (July 2019 report).

The month of August 2019 showed the least activity and consisted of mainly small eruptive events occurring up to 800 m above the crater; summit incandescence was observed with a highly sensitive surveillance camera. SO2 emissions were measured on 8 and 13 August with 1,000-2,000 tons/day, which was slightly greater than the previous month. An extensometer at the Arimura Observation Tunnel and an inclinometer at the Amida River recorded slight inflation on 29 August, but continuous GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) observations showed no significant changes.

In September 2019 there were 32 eruptive events recorded, of which 11 were explosions, more than the previous two months. Seismicity also increased during this month. An extensometer and inclinometer recorded inflation at the Minamidake crater on 9 September, which stopped after the eruptive events. On 16 September, an eruption at 0746 produced an ash plume that rose 2.8 km above the crater rim and drifted SW; a series of eruptive events followed from 0830-1110 (figure 87). Explosions on 18 and 20 September produced ash plumes that rose 3.4 km above the crater rim and ejecting material as far as 1.7 km from the summit crater on the 18th and 700 m on the 20th. Field surveys measured an increased amount of SO2 emissions ranging from 1,100 to 2,300 tons/day during September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Webcam image of an ash plume rising 2.8 km from the Minamidake crater at Sakurajima on 16 September 2019. Courtesy of Weathernews Inc.

Seismicity, SO2 emissions, and the number of eruptions continued to increase in October 2019, 41 of which were explosive. Field surveys conducted on 1, 11, and 15 October reported that SO2 emissions were 2,000-2,800 tons/day. An explosion at 0050 on 12 October produced an ash plume that traveled 1.7 km from the Minamidake crater. Explosions between 16 and 19 October produced an ash plume that rose up to 3 km above the crater rim (figure 88). The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force 1st Air group observed gas-and-steam plumes rising from both the Minamidake and Showa craters on 25 October. The inflation reported from 16 September began to slow in late October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Photos taken from the E side of Sakurajima showing gas-and-steam emissions with some amount of ash rising from the volcano on 16 October 2019 after an explosion around 1200 that day (top). At night, summit incandescence is observed (bottom). Courtesy of Bradley Pitcher, Vanderbilt University.

November 2019 was the most active month during this reporting period with increased seismicity, SO2 emissions, and 137 eruptive events, 77 of which were explosive. GNSS observations indicated that inflation began to slow during this month. On 8 November, an explosion at 1724 produced an ash plume up to a maximum of 5.5 km above the crater rim and drifted E. This explosion ejected large blocks as far as 500-800 m away from the crater (figure 89). The last time plumes rose above 5 km from the vents occurred on 26 July 2016 at the Showa crater and on 7 October 2000 at the Minamidake crater. Field surveys on 8, 21, and 29 November measured increased SO2 emissions ranging from 2,600 to 3,600 tons/day. Eruptions between 13-19 November produced ash plumes that rose up to 3.6 km above the crater and ejected large blocks up 1.7 km away. An onsite survey on 29 November used infrared thermal imaging equipment to observe incandescence and geothermal areas near the Showa crater and the SE flank of Minamidake (figure 90).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Photos of an ash plume rising 5.5 km above Sakurajima on 8 November 2019 and drifting E. Photo by Moto Higashi-gun (top left), courtesy of JMA (November 2019 report) and the Geoscientific Network of Chile.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Webcam image of nighttime incandescence and gas-and-steam emissions with some amount of ash at Sakurajima on 29 November 2019. Courtesy of JMA (November 2019 report).

Volcanism, which included seismicity, SO2 emissions, and eruptive events, decreased during December 2019. Explosions during 4-10 December produced ash plumes that rose up to 2.6 km above the crater rim and ejected material up to 1.7 km away. Field surveys conducted on 6, 16, and 23 December measured SO2 emissions around 1,000-3,000 tons/day. On 24 December, an explosion produced an ash plume that rose to 3.3 km above the crater rim, this high for this month.

Sentinel-2 natural color satellite imagery showed dense ash plumes in late August 2019, early November, and through December (figure 91). These plumes drifted in different directions and rose to a maximum 5.5 km above the crater rim on 8 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Natural color Sentinel-2 satellite images of Sakurajima within the Aira caldera from late August through December 2019 showed dense ash plumes rising from the Minamidake crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed intermittent thermal anomalies beginning in mid-August to early September 2019 after a nearly two-month hiatus (figure 92). Activity increased by early November and continued through December. Three Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images between late July and early October showed distinct thermal hotspots within the Minamidake crater, in addition to faint gas-and-steam emissions in July and September (figure 93).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. Thermal anomalies at Sakurajima during January-December 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) started up in mid-August to early September after a two-month break and continued through December. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing small thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam emissions (left and middle) at Sakurajima within the Minamidake crater between late July and early October 2019. All images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Weathernews Inc. (Twitter: @wni_jp, https://twitter.com/wni_jp, URL: https://weathernews.jp/s/topics/201608/210085/, photo posted at https://twitter.com/wni_jp/status/1173382407216652289); Bradley Pitcher, Vanderbilt University, Nashville. TN, USA (URL: https://bradpitcher.weebly.com/, Twitter: @TieDyeSciGuy, photo posted at https://twitter.com/TieDyeSciGuy/status/1185191225101471744); Geoscientific Network of Chile (Twitter: @RedGeoChile, https://twitter.com/RedGeoChile, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RedGeoChile/, photo posted at https://twitter.com/RedGeoChile/status/1192921768186515456).


Suwanosejima (Japan) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions, ash emissions, and summit incandescence in July-December 2019

Suwanosejima, located south of Japan in the northern Ryukyu Islands, is an active andesitic stratovolcano that has had continuous activity since October 2004, typically producing ash plumes and Strombolian explosions. Much of this activity is focused within the Otake crater. This report updates information during July through December 2019 using monthly reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

White gas-and-steam plumes rose from Suwanosejima on 26 July 2019, 30-31 August, 1-6, 10, and 20-27 September, reaching a maximum altitude of 2.4 km on 10 September, according to Tokyo VAAC advisories. Intermittent gray-white plumes were observed rising from the summit during October through December (figure 40).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Surveillance camera images of white gas-and-steam emissions rising from Suwanosejima on 10 December 2019 (left) and up to 1.8 km above the crater rim on 28 December (right). At night, summit incandescence was also observed on 10 December. Courtesy of JMA.

An explosion that occurred at 2331 on 1 August 2019 ejected material 400 m from the crater while other eruptions on 3-6 and 26 August produced ash plumes that rose up to a maximum altitude of 2.1 km and drifted generally NW according to the Tokyo VAAC report. JMA reported eruptions and summit incandescence in September accompanied by white gas-and-steam plumes, but no explosions were noted. Eruptions on 19 and 29 October produced ash plumes that rose 300 and 800 m above the crater rim, resulting in ashfall in Toshima (4 km SW), according to the Toshima Village Office, Suwanosejima Branch Office. Another eruption on 30 October produced a similar gray-white plume rising 800 m above the crater rim but did not result in ashfall. Similar activity continued in November with eruptions on 5-7 and 13-15 November producing grayish-white plumes rising 900 m and 1.5 km above the crater rim and frequent crater incandescence. Ashfall was reported in Toshima Village on 19 and 20 November; the 20 November eruption ejected material 200 m from the Otake crater.

Field surveys on 14 and 18 December using an infrared thermal imaging system to the E of Suwanose Island showed hotspots around the Otake crater, on the N slope of the crater, and on the upper part of the E coastline. GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) observations on 15 and 17 December showed a slight change in the baseline length. After 2122 on 25-26 and 31 December, 23 eruptions, nine of which were explosive were reported, producing gray-white plumes that rose 800-1,800 m above the crater rim and ejected material up to 600 m from the Otake crater. JMA reported volcanic tremors occurred intermittently throughout this reporting period.

Incandescence at the summit crater was occasionally visible at night during July through December 2019, as recorded by webcam images and reported by JMA (figure 41). MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed weak thermal anomalies that occurred dominantly in November with little to no activity recorded between July and October (figure 42). Two Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images in early November and late December showed thermal hotspots within the summit crater (figure 43).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Surveillance camera image of summit incandescence at Suwanosejima on 31 October 2019. Courtesy of JMA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Weak thermal anomalies at Suwanosejima during January-December 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) dominantly occurred in mid-March, late May to mid-June, and November, with two hotspots detected in late September and late December. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing small thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) within the Otake crater at Suwanosejima on 8 November 2019 (left) and faintly on 23 December 2019 behind clouds (right). Both images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Barren Island (India) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Barren Island

India

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal anomalies and small ash plumes during February-April 2019 and September 2019-January 2020

Barren Island is a remote stratovolcano located east of India in the Andaman Islands. Its most recent eruptive episode began in September 2018 and has included lava flows, explosions, ash plumes, and lava fountaining (BGVN 44:02). This report updates information from February 2019 through January 2020 using various satellite data as a primary source of information.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed intermittent thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit from mid-February 2019 through January 2020 (figure 41). There was a period of relatively low to no discernible activity between May to September 2019. The MODVOLC algorithm for MODIS thermal anomalies in comparison with Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery and Suomi NPP/VIIRS sensor data, registered elevated temperatures during late February 2019, early March, sparsely in April, late October, sparsely in November, early December, and intermittently in January 2020 (figure 42). Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery shows these thermal hotspots differing in strength from late February to late January 2020 (figure 43). The thermal anomalies in these satellite images are occasionally accompanied by ash plumes (25 February 2019, 23 October 2019, and 21 January 2020) and gas-and-steam emissions (26 April 2019).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Intermittent thermal anomalies at Barren Island for 20 February 2019 through January 2020 occurred dominantly between late March to late April 2019 and late September 2019 through January 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Timeline summary of observed activity at Barren Island from February 2019 through January 2020. For Sentinel-2, MODVOLC, and VIIRS data, the dates indicated are when thermal anomalies were detected. White areas indicated no activity was observed, which may also be due to meteoric clouds. Data courtesy of Darwin VAAC, Sentinel Hub Playground, HIGP, and NASA Worldview using the "Fire and Thermal Anomalies" layer.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 thermal images show ash plumes, gas-and-steam emissions, and thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) at Barren Island during February 2019-January 2020. The strongest thermal signature was observed on 23 October while the weakest one is observed on 26 January. Sentinel-2 False color (bands 12, 11, 4) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported ash plumes rising from the summit on 7, 14, and 16 March 2019. The maximum altitude of the ash plume occurred on 7 March, rising 1.8 km altitude, drifting W and NW and 1.2 km altitude, drifting E and ESE, based on observations from Himawari-8. The VAAC reports for 14 and 16 March reported the ash plumes rising 0.9 km and 1.2 km altitude, respectively drifting W and W.

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

Information Contacts: 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/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/).


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

Whakaari/White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosion producing an ash plume and pyroclastic surge resulted in fatalities and injuries on 9 December 2019

Whakaari/White Island has been New Zealand's most active volcano since 1976. Located 48 km offshore, the volcano is a popular tourism destination with tours leaving the town of Whakatane with approximately 17,500 people visiting the island in 2018. Ten lives were lost in 1914 when part of the crater wall collapsed, impacting sulfur miners. More recently, a brief explosion at 1411 on 9 December 2019 produced an ash plume and pyroclastic surge that impacted the entire crater area. With 47 people on the island at the time, the death toll stood at 21 on 3 February 2019. At that time more patients were still in hospitals within New Zealand or their home countries.

The island is the summit of a large underwater volcano, with around 70% of the edifice below the ocean and rising around 900 m above sea level (figure 70). A broad crater opens to the ocean to the SE, with steep crater walls and an active Main Crater area to the NW rear of the crater floor (figure 71). Although the island is privately owned, GeoNet continuously monitors activity both remotely and with visits to the volcano. This Bulletin covers activity from May 2017 through December 2019 and is based on reports by GeoNet, the New Zealand Civil Defence Bay of Plenty Emergency Management Group, satellite data, and footage taken by visitors to the island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. The top of the Whakaari/White Island edifice forms the island in the Bay of Plenty area, New Zealand, while 70% of the volcano is below sea level. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. This photo from 2004 shows the Main Crater area of Whakaari/White Island with the vent area indicated. The crater is an amphitheater shape with the crater floor distance between the vent and the ocean entry being about 700 m. The sediment plume begins at the area where tour boats dock at the island. Photo by Karen Britten, graphic by Danielle Charlton at University of Auckland; courtesy of GeoNet (11 December 2019 report).

Nearly continuous activity occurred from December 1975 to September 2000, including the formation of collapse and explosion craters producing ash emissions and explosions that impacted all of the Main Crater area. More recently, it has been in a state of elevated unrest since 2011. Renewed activity commenced with an explosive eruption on 5 August 2012 that was followed by the extrusion of a lava dome and ongoing phreatic explosions and minor ash emissions through March 2013. An ash cone was seen on 4 March 2013, and over the next few months the crater lake reformed. Further significant explosions took place on 20 August and 4, 8, and 11 October 2013. A landslide occurred in November 2015 with material descending into the lake. More recent activity on 27 April 2016 produced a short-lived eruption that deposited material across the crater floor and walls. A short period of ash emission later that year, on 13 September 2016, originated from a vent on the recent lava dome. Explosive eruptions occur with little to no warning.

Since 19 September 2016 the Volcanic Alert Level (VAL) was set to 1 (minor volcanic unrest) (figure 72). During early 2017 background activity in the crater continued, including active fumaroles emitting volcanic gases and steam from the active geothermal system, boiling springs, volcanic tremor, and deformation. By April 2017 a new crater lake had begun to form, the first since the April 2016 explosion when the lake floor was excavated an additional 13 m. Before this, there were areas where water ponded in depressions within the Main Crater but no stable lake.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. The New Zealand Volcanic Alert Level system up to date in February 2020. Courtesy of GeoNet.

Activity from mid-2017 through 2018. In July-August 2017 GeoNet scientists carried out the first fieldwork at the crater area since late 2015 to sample the new crater lake and gas emissions. The crater lake was significantly cooler than the past lakes at 20°C, compared to 30-70°C that was typical previously. Chemical analysis of water samples collected in July showed the lowest concentrations of most "volcanic elements" in the lake for the past 10-15 years due to the reduced volcanic gases entering the lake. The acidity remained similar to that of battery acid. Gas emissions from the 2012 dome were 114°C, which were over 450°C in 2012 and 330°C in 2016. Fumarole 0 also had a reduced temperature of 152°C, reduced from over 190°C in late 2016 (figure 73). The observations and measurements indicated a decline in unrest. Further visits in December 2017 noted relatively low-level unrest including 149°C gas emissions from fumarole 0, a small crater lake, and loud gas vents nearby (figures 74 and 75). By 27 November the lake had risen to 10 m below overflow. Analysis of water samples led to an estimate of 75% of the lake water resulting from condensing steam vents below the lake and the rest from rainfall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. A GeoNet scientists conducting field work near Fumarole 0, an accessible gas vent on Whakaari/White Island in August 2017. Courtesy of GeoNet (23 August 2017 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. GeoNet scientists sample gas emissions from vents on the 2012 Whakaari/White Island dome. The red circle in the left image indicates the location of the scientists. Courtesy of GeoNet (23 August 2017 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Active fumaroles and vents in the Main Crater of Whakaari/White Island including Fumarole 0 (top left). The crater lake formed in mid-2017 and gas emissions rise from surrounding vents (right). Courtesy of GeoNet (22 December 2017 report).

Routine fieldwork by GeoNet monitoring teams in early March 2018 showed continued low-level unrest and no apparent changes after a recent nearby earthquake swarm. The most notable change was the increase in the crater lake size, likely a response from recent high rainfall (figure 76). The water remained a relatively cool 27°C. Temperatures continued to decline at the 2012 dome vent (128°C) and Fumarole 0 (138°C). Spring and stream flow had also declined. Deformation was observed towards the Active Crater of 2-5 mm per month and seismicity remained low. The increase in lake level drowned gas vents along the lake shore resulting in geyser-like activity (figure 77). GeoNet warned that a new eruption could occur at any time, often without any useful warning.

In mid-April 2018 visitors reported loud sounds from the crater area as a result of the rising lake level drowning vents on the 2012 dome (in the western side of the crater) and resulting in steam-driven activity. There was no notable change in volcanic activity. The sounds stopped by July 2018 as the geothermal system adjusted to the rising water, up to 17 m below overfill and filling at a rate of about 2,000 m3 per day, rising towards more active vents (figure 78). A gas monitoring flight taken on 12 September showed a steaming lake surrounded by active fumaroles along the crater wall (figure 79).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. The increase in the Whakaari/White Island crater lake size in early March 2018 with gas plumes rising from vents on the other side. Courtesy of GeoNet (19 March 2018 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. The increasing crater lake level at Whakaari/White Island produced geyser-like activity on the lake shore in March 2018. Courtesy of Brad Scott, GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Stills taken from a drone video of the Whakaari/White Island Main Crater lake and active vents producing gas emissions. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Photos taken during a gas monitoring flight with GNS Science at Whakaari/White Island show gas and steam emissions, and a steaming crater lake on 12 September 2018. Note the people for scale on the lower-right crater rim in the bottom photograph. Copyright of Ben Clarke, University of Leicester, used with permission.

Activity during April to early December 2019. A GeoNet volcanic alert bulletin in April 2019 reported that steady low-level unrest continued. The level of the lake had been declining since late January and was back down to 13 m below overflow (figure 80). The water temperature had increased to over 60°C due to the fumarole activity below the lake. Fumarole 0 remained steady at around 120-130°C. During May-June a seismic swarm was reported offshore, unrelated to volcanic activity but increasing the risk of landslides within the crater due to the shallow locations.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Planet Labs satellite images from March 2018 to April 2019 show fluctuations in the Whakaari/White Island crater lake level. Image copyright 2019 Planet Labs, Inc.

On 26 June the VAL was raised to level 2 (moderate to heightened volcanic unrest) due to increased SO2 flux rising to historically high levels. An overflight that day detected 1,886 tons/day, nearly three times the previous values of May 2019, the highest recorded value since 2013, and the second highest since measurements began in 2003. The VAL was subsequently lowered on 1 July due to a reduction in detected SO2 emissions of 880 tons/day on 28 June and 693 tons/day on 29 June.

GeoNet reported on 26 September that there was an increase in steam-driven activity within the active crater over the past three weeks. This included small geyser-like explosions of mud and steam with material reaching about 10 m above the lake. This was not attributed to an increase in volcanic activity, but to the crater lake level rising since early August.

On 30 October an increase in background activity was reported. An increasing trend in SO2 gas emissions and volcanic tremor had been ongoing for several months and had reached the highest levels since 2016. This indicated to GeoNet that Whakaari/White Island might be entering a period where eruptive activity was more likely. There were no significant changes in other monitoring parameters at this time and fumarole activity continued (figure 81).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. A webcam image taken at 1030 on 30 October 2019 from the crater rim shows the Whakaari/White Island crater lake to the right of the amphitheater-shaped crater and gas-and-steam plumes from active fumaroles. Courtesy of GeoNet.

On 18 November the VAL was raised to level 2 and the Aviation Colour Code was raised to Yellow due to further increase in SO2 emissions and volcanic tremor. Other monitoring parameters showed no significant changes. On 25 November GeoNet reported that moderate volcanic unrest continued but with no new changes. Gas emissions remained high and gas-driven ejecta regularly jetting material a few meters into the air above fumaroles in the crater lake (figure 82).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. A webcam image from the Whakaari/White Island crater rim shows gas-driven ejecta rising above a fumarole within the crater lake on 22 November 2019. Courtesy of GeoNet.

GeoNet reported on 3 December that moderate volcanic unrest continued, with increased but variable explosive gas and steam-driven jetting, with stronger events ejecting mud 20-30 m into the air and depositing mud around the vent area. Gas emissions and volcanic tremor remained elevated and occasional gas smells were reported on the North Island mainland depending on wind direction. The crater lake water level remained unchanged. Monitoring parameters were similar to those observed in 2011-2016 and remained within the expected range for moderate volcanic unrest.

Eruption on 9 December 2019. A short-lived eruption occurred at 1411 on 9 December 2019, generating a steam-and-ash plume to 3.6 km and covering the entire crater floor area with ash. Video taken by tourists on a nearby boat showed an eruption plume composed of a white steam-rich portion, and a black ash-rich ejecta (figure 83). A pyroclastic surge moved laterally across the crater floor and up the inner crater walls. Photos taken soon after the eruption showed sulfur-rich deposits across the crater floor and crater walls, and a helicopter that had been damaged and blown off the landing pad (figure 84). This activity caused the VAL to be raised to 4 (moderate volcanic eruption) and the Aviation Colour Code being raised to Orange.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. The beginning of the Whakaari/White Island 9 December 2019 eruption viewed from a boat that left the island about 20-30 minutes prior. Top: the steam-rich eruption plume rising above the volcano and a pyroclastic surge beginning to rise over the crater rim. Bottom: the expanded steam-and-ash plume of the pyroclastic surge that flowed over the crater floor to the ocean. Copyright of Michael Schade, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. This photo of Whakaari/White Island taken after the 9 December 2019 eruption at around 1424 shows ash and sediment coating the crater floor and walls. The helicopter in this image was blown off the landing pad and damaged during the eruption. Copyright of Michael Schade, used with permission.

A steam plume was visible in a webcam image taken at 1430 from Whakatane, 21 minutes after the explosion (figure 85). Subsequent explosions occurred at 1630 and 1749. Search-and-Rescue teams reached the island after the eruption and noted a very strong sulfur smell that was experienced through respirators. They experienced severe stinging of any exposed skin that came in contact with the gas, and were left with sensitive skin and eyes, and sore throats. Later in the afternoon the gas-and-steam plume continued and a sediment plume was dispersing from the island (figure 86). The VAL was lowered to level 3 (minor volcanic eruption) at 1625 that day; the Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A view of Whakaari/White Island from Whakatane in the North Island of New Zealand. Left: there is no plume visible at 1410 on 9 December 2019, one minute before the eruption. Right: A gas-and-steam plume is visible 21 minutes after the eruption. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. A gas-and-steam plume rises from Whakaari/White Island on the afternoon of 9 December 2019 as rescue teams visit the island. A sediment plume in the ocean is dispersing from the island. Courtesy of Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

During or immediately after the eruption an unstable portion of the SW inner crater wall, composed of 1914 landslide material, collapsed and was identified in satellite radar imagery acquired after the eruption. The material slid into the crater lake area and left a 12-m-high scarp. Movement in this area continued into early January.

Activity from late 2019 into early 2020. A significant increase in volcanic tremor began at around 0400 on 11 December (figure 87). The increase was accompanied by vigorous steaming and ejections of mud in several of the new vents. By the afternoon the tremor was at the highest level seen since the 2016 eruption, and monitoring data indicated that shallow magma was driving the increased unrest.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. This RSAM (Real-Time Seismic Amplitude) time series plot represents the energy produced at Whakaari/White Island from 11 November to 11 December 2019 with the Volcanic Activity Levels and the 9 December eruption indicated. The plot shows the sharp increase in seismic energy during 11 December. Courtesy of GeoNet (11 December 2019 report).

The VAL was lowered to 2 on the morning of 12 December to reflect moderate to heightened unrest as no further explosive activity had occurred since the event on the 9th. Volcanic tremor was occurring at very high levels by the time a bulletin was released at 1025 that day. Gas emissions increased since 10 January, steam and mud jetting continued, and the situation was interpreted to be highly volatile. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange. Risk assessment maps released that day show the high-risk areas as monitoring parameters continued to show an increased likelihood of another eruption (figure 88).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Risk assessment maps of Whakaari/White Island show the increase in high-risk areas from 2 December to 12 December 2019. Courtesy of GeoNet (12 December 2019 report).

The volcanic activity bulletin for 13 December reported that volcanic tremor remained high, but had declined overnight. Vigorous steam and mud jetting continuing at the vent area. Brief ash emission was observed in the evening with ashfall restricted to the vent area. The 14 January bulletin reported that volcanic tremor had declined significantly over night, and nighttime webcam images showed a glow in the vent area due to high heat flow.

Aerial observations on 14 and 15 December revealed steam and gas emissions continuing from at least three open vents within a 100 m2 area (figure 89). One vent near the back of the crater area was emitting transparent, high-temperature gas that indicated that magma was near the surface, and produced a glow registered by low-light cameras (figure 90). The gas emissions had a blue tinge that indicated high SO2 content. The area that once contained the crater lake, 16 m below overflow before the eruption, was filled with debris and small isolated ponds mostly from rainfall, with different colors due to the water reacting with the eruption deposits. The gas-and-steam plume was white near the volcano but changed to a gray-brown color as it cooled and moved downwind due to the gas content (figure 91). On 15 December the tremor remained at low levels (figure 92).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. The Main Crater area of Whakaari/White Island showing the active vent area and gas-and-steam emissions on 15 December 2019. Gas emissions were high within the circled area. Before the eruption a few days earlier this area was partially filled by the crater lake. Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. A low-light nighttime camera at Whakaari/White Island imaged "a glow" at a vent within the active crater area on 13 December 2019. This glow is due to high-temperature gas emissions and light from external sources like the moon. Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. A gas-and-steam plume at Whakaari/White Island on 15 December 2019 is white near the crater and changes to a grey-brown color downwind due to the gas content. Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. The Whakaari/White Island seismic drum plot showing the difference in activity from 12 December (top) to 15 December (bottom). Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).

On 19 December tremor remained low (figure 93) and gas and steam emission continued. Overflight observations confirmed open vents with one producing temperatures over 650°C (figure 94). SO2 emissions remained high at around 15 kg/s, slightly lower than the 20 kg/s detected on 12 December. Small amounts of ash were produced on 23 and 26 December due to material entering the vents during erosion.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. This RSAM (Real-Time Seismic Amplitude) time series plot represents the energy produced at Whakaari/White Island from 1 November to mid-December 2019. The Volcanic Alert Levels and the 9 December eruption are indicated. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. A photograph and thermal infrared image of the Whakaari/White Island crater area on 19 December 2019. The thermal imaging registered temperatures up to 650°C at a vent emitting steam and gas. Courtesy of GeoNet.

The Aviation Colour Code was reduced to Yellow on 6 January 2020 and the VAL remained at 2. Strong gas and steam emissions continued from the vent area through early January and the glow persisted in nighttime webcam images. Short-lived episodes of volcanic tremor were recorded between 8-10 January and were accompanied by minor explosions. A 15 January bulletin reported that the temperature at the vent area remained very hot, up to 440°C, and SO2 emissions were within normal post-eruption levels.

High temperatures were detected within the vent area in Sentinel-2 thermal data on 6 and 16 January (figure 95). Lava extrusion was confirmed within the 9 December vents on 20 January. Airborne SO2 measurements on that day recorded continued high levels and the vent temperature was over 400°C. Observations on 4 February showed that no new lava extrusion had occurred, and gas fluxes were lower than two weeks ago, but still elevated. The temperatures measured in the crater were 550-570°C and no further changes to the area were observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Sentinel-2 thermal infrared satellite images show elevated temperatures in the 9 December 2019 vent area on Whakaari/White Island. False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: New Zealand GeoNet Project, a collaboration between the Earthquake Commission and GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz/); GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/); Bay of Plenty Emergency Management Group Civil Defense, New Zealand (URL: http://www.bopcivildefence.govt.nz/); Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, Auckland, New Zealand (URL: https://www.rescuehelicopter.org.nz/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Ben Clarke, The University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH, United Kingdom (URL: https://le.ac.uk/geology, Twitter: https://twitter.com/PyroclasticBen); Michael Schade, San Francisco, USA (URL: https://twitter.com/sch).


Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kadovar

Papua New Guinea

3.608°S, 144.588°E; summit elev. 365 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent gas and some ash emissions during May-December 2019 with some hot avalanches

Kadovar is an island volcano north of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Manam. The first confirmed historical activity began in January 2018 and resulted in the evacuation of residents from the island. Eruptive activity through 2018 changed the morphology of the SE side of the island and activity continued through 2019 (figure 36). This report summarizes activity from May through December 2019 and is based largely on various satellite data, tourist reports, and Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reports.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. The morphological changes to Kadovar from 2017 to June 2019. Top: the vegetated island has a horseshoe-shaped crater that opens towards the SE; the population of the island was around 600 people at this time. Middle: by May 2018 the eruption was well underway with an active summit crater and an active dome off the east flank. Much of the vegetation has been killed and ashfall covers a lot of the island. Bottom: the bay below the SE flank has filled in with volcanic debris. The E-flank coastal dome is no longer active, but activity continues at the summit. PlanetScope satellite images copyright Planet Labs 2019.

Since this eruptive episode began a large part of the island has been deforested and has undergone erosion (figure 37). Activity in early 2019 included regular gas and steam emissions, ash plumes, and thermal anomalies at the summit (BGVN 44:05). On 15 May an ash plume originated from two vents at the summit area and dispersed to the east. A MODVOLC thermal alert was also issued on this day, and again on 17 May. Elevated temperatures were detected in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite data on 20, 21, and 30 May (figure 38), with accompanying gas-and-steam plumes dispersing to the NNW and NW. On 30 May the area of elevated temperature extended to the SE shoreline, indicating an avalanche of hot material reaching the water.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. The southern flank of Kadovar seen here on 13 November 2019 had been deforested by eruptive activity and erosion had produced gullies down the flanks. Copyrighted photo by Chrissie Goldrick, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images show elevated temperatures at the summit area, and down to the coast in the top image. Gas-and-steam plumes are visible dispersing towards the NW. Sentinel-2 false color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel-Hub Playground.

Throughout June cloud-free Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed elevated temperatures at the summit area and extending down the upper SE flank (figure 38). Gas-and-steam plumes were persistent in every Sentinel-2 and NASA Suomi NPP / VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) image. MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 4 and 9 June. Similar activity continued through July with gas-and-steam emissions visible in every cloud-free satellite image. Thermal anomalies appeared weaker in late-July but remained at the summit area. An ash plume was imaged on 17 July by Landsat 8 with a gas-and-ash plume dispersing to the west (figure 39). Thermal anomalies continued through August with a MODVOLC thermal alert issued on the 14th. Gas emissions also continued and a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) was issued on the 19th reporting an ash plume to an altitude of 1.5 km and drifting NW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. An ash plume rising above Kadovar and a gas plume dispersing to the NW on 17 July 2019. Truecolor pansharpened Landsat 8 satellite image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

An elongate area extending from the summit area to the E-flank coastal dome appears lighter in color in a 7 September Sentinel-2 natural color satellite image, and as a higher temperature area in the correlating thermal bands, indicating a hot avalanche deposit. These observations along with the previous avalanche, persistent elevated summit temperatures, and persistent gas and steam emissions from varying vent locations (figure 40) suggests that the summit dome has remained active through 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Sentinel-2 visible and thermal satellite images acquired on 7 September 2019 show fresh deposits down the east flank of Kadovar. They appear as a lighter colored area in visible, and show as a hot area (orange) in thermal data. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) and false color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel-Hub Playground.

Thermal anomalies and emissions continued through to the end of 2019 (figure 41). A tour group witnessed an explosion producing an ash plume at around 1800 on 13 November (figure 42). While the ash plume erupted near-vertically above the island, a more diffuse gas plume rose from multiple vents on the summit dome and dispersed at a lower altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. The summit area of Kadovar emitting gas-and-steam plumes in August, September, and November 2019. The plumes are persistent in satellite images throughout May through December and there is variation in the number and locations of the source vents. PlanetScope satellite images copyright Planet Labs 2019.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. An ash plume and a lower gas plume rise during an eruption of Kadovar on 13 November 2019. The summit lava dome is visibly degassing to produce the white gas plume. Copyrighted photos by Chrissie Goldrick, used with permission.

While gas plumes were visible throughout May-December 2019 (figure 43), SO2 plumes were difficult to detect in NASA SO2 images due to the activity of nearby Manam volcano. The MIROVA thermal detection system shows continued elevated temperatures through to early December, with an increase during May-June (figure 44). Sentinel-2 thermal images showed elevated temperatures through to the end of December but at a lower intensity than previous months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. This photo of the southeast side Kadovar on 13 November 2019 shows a persistent low-level gas plume blowing towards the left and a more vigorous plume is visible near the crater. This is an example of the persistent plume visible in satellite imagery throughout July-December 2019. Copyrighted photo by Chrissie Goldrick, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. The MIROVA plot of radiative power at Kadovar shows thermal anomalies throughout 2019 with some variations in frequency. Note that while the black lines indicate that the thermal anomalies are greater than 5 km from the vent, the designated summit location is inaccurate so these are actually a the summit crater and on the E flank. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. The 2-km-wide island of Kadovar is the emergent summit of a Bismarck Sea stratovolcano of Holocene age. It is part of the Schouten Islands, and lies off the coast of New Guinea, about 25 km N of the mouth of the Sepik River. Prior to an eruption that began in 2018, a lava dome formed the high point of the andesitic volcano, filling an arcuate landslide scarp open to the south; submarine debris-avalanche deposits occur in that direction. Thick lava flows with columnar jointing forms low cliffs along the coast. The youthful island lacks fringing or offshore reefs. A period of heightened thermal phenomena took place in 1976. An eruption began in January 2018 that included lava effusion from vents at the summit and at the E coast.

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/); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov); Chrissie Goldrick, Australian Geographic, Level 7, 54 Park Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia (URL: https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/).


Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake persists during June-November 2019

Nyiragongo is a stratovolcano with a 1.2 km-wide summit crater containing an active lava lake that has been present since at least 1971. It is located the Virunga Volcanic Province (VVP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, part of the western branch of the East African Rift System. Typical volcanism includes strong and frequent thermal anomalies, primarily due to the lava lake, incandescence, gas-and-steam plumes, and seismicity. This report updates activity during June through November 2019 with the primary source information from monthly reports by the Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG) and satellite data.

In the July 2019 monthly report, OVG stated that the lava lake level had dropped during the month, with incandescence only visible at night (figure 68). In addition, the small eruptive cone within the crater, which has been active since 2014, decreased in activity during this timeframe. A MONUSCO (United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) helicopter overflight took photos of the lava lake and observed that the level had begun to rise on 27 July. Seismicity was relatively moderate throughout this reporting period; however, on 9-16 July and 21 August strong seismic swarms were recorded.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Webcam images of Nyiragongo on 20 July 2019 where incandescence is not visible during the day (left) but is observed at night (right). Incandescence is accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Courtesy of OVG.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data continued to show frequent and strong thermal anomalies within 5 km of the crater summit through November 2019 (figure 69). Similarly, the MODVOLC algorithm reported almost daily thermal hotspots (more than 600) within the summit crater between June 2019 through November. These data are corroborated with Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery and a photo from OVG on 19 December 2019 showing the active lava lake (figures 70 and 71).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Thermal anomalies at Nyiragongo from 3 January through November 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were frequent and strong. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (bands 12, 11, 8A) showed ongoing thermal activity (bright yellow-orange) at Nyiragongo during June through November 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Photo of the active lava lake in the summit crater at Nyiragongo on 19 December 2019. Incandescence is accompanied by a gas-and-steam plume. Courtesy of OVG via Charles Balagizi.

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

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Charles Balagizi (Twitter: @CharlesBalagizi, https://twitter.com/CharlesBalagizi).


Ebeko (Russia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ebeko

Russia

50.686°N, 156.014°E; summit elev. 1103 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent moderate explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall continue through November 2019

Activity at Ebeko includes frequent explosions that have generated ash plumes reaching altitudes of 1.5-6 km over the last several years, with the higher altitudes occurring since mid-2018 (BGVN 43:03, 43:06, 43:12, 44:07). Ash frequently falls in Severo-Kurilsk (7 km ESE), which is monitored by the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT). This activity continued during June through November 2019; the Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale).

Explosive activity during December 2018 through November 2019 often sent ash plumes to altitudes between 2.2 to 4.5 km, or heights of 1.1 to 3.4 km above the crater (table 8). Eruptions since 1967 have originated from the northern crater of the summit area (figure 20). Webcams occasionally captured ash explosions, as seen on 27 July 2019(figure 21). KVERT often reported the presence of thermal anomalies; particularly on 23 September 2019, a Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image showed a strong thermal signature at the crater summit accompanied by an ash plume (figure 22). Ashfall is relatively frequent in Severo-Kurilsk (7 km ESE) and can drift in different direction based on the wind pattern, which can be seen in satellite imagery on 30 October 2019 deposited NE and SE from the crater(figure 23).

Table 8. Summary of activity at Ebeko, December 2018-November 2019. S-K is Severo-Kurilsk (7 km ESE of the volcano). TA is thermal anomaly in satellite images. Data courtesy of KVERT.

Date Plume Altitude (km) Plume Distance Plume Directions Other Observations
30 Nov-07 Dec 2018 3.6 -- E Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 1, 4 Dec.
07-14 Dec 2018 3.5 -- E Explosions.
25 Jan-01 Feb 2019 2.3 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 27 Jan.
02-08 Feb 2019 2.3 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 4 Feb.
08-15 Feb 2019 2.5 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 11 Feb.
15-22 Feb 2019 3.6 -- -- Explosions.
22-26 Feb 2019 2.5 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 23-26 Feb.
01-02, 05 Mar 2019 -- -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 1, 5 Mar.
08-10 Mar 2019 4 30 km ENE Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 9-10 Mar.
15-19, 21 Mar 2019 4.5 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 15-16, 21 Mar.
22, 24-25, 27-28 Mar 2019 4.2 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 24-25, 27 Mar.
29-31 Mar, 01, 04 Apr 2019 3.2 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 31 Mar. TA on 31 Mar.
09 Apr 2019 2.2 -- -- Explosions.
12-15 Apr 2019 3.2 -- -- Explosions. TA on 13 Apr.
21-22, 24 Apr 2019 -- -- -- Explosions.
26 Apr-03 May 2019 3 -- -- Explosions.
04, 06-07 May 2019 3.5 -- -- Explosions. TA on 6 May.
12-13 May 2019 2.5 -- -- Explosions. TA 12-13 May.
16-20 May 2019 2.5 -- -- Explosions. TA on 16-17 May.
25-28 May 2019 3 -- -- Explosions. TA on 27-28 May.
03 Jun 2019 3 -- E Explosions.
12 Jun 2019 -- -- -- TA.
14-15 Jun 2019 2.5 -- NW, NE Explosions.
21-28 Jun 2019 -- -- -- TA on 23 June.
28 Jun-05 Jul 2019 4.5 -- Multiple Explosions. TA on 29 Jun, 1 Jul.
05-12 Jul 2019 3.5 -- S Explosions. TA on 11 Jul.
15-16 Jul 2019 2 -- S, SE Explosions. TA on 13-16, 18 Jul.
20-26 Jul 2019 4 -- Multiple Explosions. TA on 18, 20, 25 Jul
25-26, 29 Jul, 01 Aug 2019 2.5 -- Multiple Explosions.
02, 04 Aug 2019 3 -- SE Explosions. TA on 2, 4 Aug.
10-16 Aug 2019 3 -- SE Explosions. TA on 10, 12 Aug.
17-23 Aug 2019 3 -- SE Explosions. TA on 16 Aug.
23, 27-28 Aug 2019 3 -- E Explosions. TA on 23 Aug.
30-31 Aug, 03-05 Sep 2019 3 -- E, SE Explosions on 30 Aug, 3-5 Sep. TA on 30-31 Aug.
07-13 Sep 2019 3 -- S, SE, N Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 6 Sep. TA on 8 Sep.
13-15, 18 Sep 2019 2.5 -- E Explosions. TA on 15 Sep.
22-23 Sep 2019 3 -- E, NE Explosions. Ashfall in S-K.
27 Sep-04 Oct 2019 4 -- SE, E, NE Explosions.
07-08, 10 Oct 2019 2.5 -- E, NE Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 4-5 Oct. Weak TA on 8 Oct.
11-18 Oct 2019 4 -- NE Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 15 Oct. Weak TA on 12 Oct.
18, 20-21, 23 Oct 2019 3 -- N, E, SE Explosions. Weak TA on 20 Oct.
25-26, 29-30 Oct 2019 2.5 -- E, NE Explosions. Weak TA on 29 Oct.
02-06 Nov 2019 3 -- N, E, SE Explosions.
11-12, 14 Nov 2019 3 -- E, NE Explosions.
15-17, 20 Nov 2019 3 -- SE, NE Explosions.
22-23, 28 Nov 2019 2.5 -- SE, E Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 23 Nov.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Satellite image showing the summit crater complex at Ebeko, July 2019. Monthly mosaic image for July 2019, copyright 2019 Planet Labs, Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Webcam photo of an explosion and ash plume at Ebeko on 27 July 2019. Videodata by IMGG FEB RAS and KB GS RAS (color adjusted and cropped); courtesy of Institute of Volcanology and Seismology FEB RAS, KVERT.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Satellite images showing an ash explosion from Ebeko on 23 September 2019. Top image is in natural color (bands 4, 3, 2). Bottom image is using "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A) to show a thermal anomaly in the northern crater visible around the rising plume. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. A satellite image of Ebeko from Sentinel-2 (LC1 natural color, bands 4, 3, 2) on 30 October 2019 showing previous ashfall deposits on the snow going in multiple directions. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data detected four low-power thermal anomalies during the second half of July, and one each in the months of June, August, and October; no activity was recorded in September or November MODVOLC thermal alerts observed only one thermal anomaly between June through November 2019.

Geologic Background. The flat-topped summit of the central cone of Ebeko volcano, one of the most active in the Kuril Islands, occupies the northern end of Paramushir Island. Three summit craters located along a SSW-NNE line form Ebeko volcano proper, at the northern end of a complex of five volcanic cones. Blocky lava flows extend west from Ebeko and SE from the neighboring Nezametnyi cone. The eastern part of the southern crater contains strong solfataras and a large boiling spring. The central crater is filled by a lake about 20 m deep whose shores are lined with steaming solfataras; the northern crater lies across a narrow, low barrier from the central crater and contains a small, cold crescentic lake. Historical activity, recorded since the late-18th century, has been restricted to small-to-moderate explosive eruptions from the summit craters. Intense fumarolic activity occurs in the summit craters, on the outer flanks of the cone, and in lateral explosion craters.

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); 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/).


Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — December 2019 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 plumes with significant gas and steam emissions during January 2016-December 2017

Nevado del Ruiz is a glaciated volcano in Colombia (figure 86). It is known for the 13 November 1985 eruption that produced an ash plume and associated pyroclastic flows onto the glacier, triggering a lahar that approximately 25,000 people in the towns of Armero (46 km west) and Chinchiná (34 km east). Since 1985 activity has intermittently occurred at the Arenas crater. The eruption that began on 18 November 2014 included ash plumes dominantly dispersed to the NW of Arenas crater (BGVN 42:06). This bulletin summarizes activity during January 2016 through December 2017 and is based on reports by Servicio Geologico Colombiano and Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales, Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) notices, and satellite data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. A satellite image of Nevado del Ruiz showing the location of the active Arenas crater. September 2019 Monthly Mosaic image copyright Planet Labs 2019.

Activity during 2016. Throughout January 2016 ash and steam plumes were observed reaching up to a few kilometers. Significant water vapor and volcanic gases, especially SO2, were detected throughout the month. Thermal anomalies were detected in the crater on the 27th and 31st. Significant water vapor and volcanic gas plumes, in particular SO2, were frequently detected by the SCAN DOAS (Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy) station and satellite data (figure 87). A M3.2 earthquake was felt in the area on 18 January. Similar activity continued through February with notable ash plumes up to 1 km, and a M3.6 earthquake was felt on the 6th. Ash and gas-and-steam plumes were reported throughout March with a maximum of 3.5 km on the 31st (figure 88). Significant water vapor and gas plumes continued from the Arenas crater throughout the month, and a thermal anomaly was noted on the 28th. An increase in seismicity was reported on the 29th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Examples of SO2 plumes from Nevado del Ruiz detected by the Aura/OMI instrument on 10, 26, and 31 January 2019. Courtesy of Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Ash plumes at Nevado del Ruiz during March. Webcam images courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano, various 2016 reports.

The activity continued into April with a M 3.0 earthquake felt by nearby inhabitants on the 8th, an increase in seismicity reported in the week of 12-18, and another significant increase on the 28th with earthquakes felt around Manizales. Thermal anomalies were noted during 12-18 April with the largest on the 16th. Ash plumes continued through the month as well as significant steam-and-gas plumes. Ashfall was reported in Murillo on the 29th.

The elevated activity continued through May with significant steam plumes up to 1.7 km above the crater during the week of 10-16. Thermal anomalies were reported on the 11th and 12th. Steam, gas, and ash plumes reached 2.5 km above the crater and dispersed to the W and NW. Ashfall was reported in La Florida on the 20th (figure 89) and multiple ash plumes on the 22nd reached 2.5 km and resulted in the closure of the La Nubia airport in Manizales. Ash and gas-and-steam emission continued during June (figure 90).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Ash plumes at Nevado del Ruiz on 17, 18, and 20 May 2016 with fine ash deposited on a car in La Florida, Manizales on the 20th. Webcams located in the NE Guali sector of the volcano, courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano 20 May 2016 report.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Examples of gas-and-steam and ash plumes at Nevado del Ruiz during June and July 2016. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano (7 July 2016 report).

Similar activity was reported in July with gas-and-steam and ash plumes often dispersing to the NW and W. Ashfall was reported to the NW on 16 July (figure 91). Drumbeat seismicity was detected on 13, 15, 16, and 17 July, with two hours on the 16th being the longest duration episode do far. Drumbeat seismicity was noted by SGC as indicating dome growth. Significant water vapor and gas emissions continued through August. Ash plumes were reported through the month with plumes up to 1.3 km above the crater on 28 and 2.3 km on 29. Similar activity was reported through September as well as a thermal anomaly and ash deposition apparent in satellite data (figure 92). Drumbeat seismicity was noted again on the 17th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. The location of ashfall resulting from an explosion at Nevado del Ruiz on 16 July 2016 and a sample of the ash under a microscope. The ash is composed of lithics, plagioclase and pyroxene crystals, and minor volcanic glass. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano (16 July 2016 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. This Sentinel-2 thermal infrared satellite image shows elevated temperatures in the Nevado del Ruiz Arenas crater (yellow and orange) on 16 September 2016. Ash deposits are also visible to the NW of the crater. In this image blue is snow and ice. False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During the week of 4-10 October it was noted that activity consisting of regular ash plumes had been ongoing for 22 months. Ash plumes continued with reported plumes reaching 2.5 above the crater throughout October (figure 93), accompanied by significant steam and water vapor emissions. A M 4.4 earthquake was felt nearby on the 7th. Similar activity continued through November and December 2016 with plumes consisting of gas and steam, and sometimes ash reaching 2 km above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. An ash plume rising above Nevado del Ruiz on 27 October 2016. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano.

Activity during 2017. Significant steam and gas emissions, especially SO2, continued into early 2017. Ash plumes detected through seismicity were confirmed in webcam images and through local reports; the plumes reached a maximum height of 2.5 km above the volcano on the 6th (figure 94). Drumbeat seismicity was recorded during 3-9, and on 22 January. Inflation was detected early in the month and several thermal anomalies were noted.

Intermittent deformation continued into February. Significant steam-and-gas emissions continued with intermittent ash plumes reaching 1.5-2 km above the volcano. Thermal anomalies were noted throughout the month and there was a significant increase in seismicity during 23-26 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Ash plumes at Nevado del Ruiz on 6 January 2017. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano.

Thermal anomalies continued to be detected through March. Ash plumes continued to be observed and recorded in seismicity and maximum heights of 2 km above the volcano were noted. Deflation continued after the intermittent inflation the previous month. On 10-11 April a period of short-duration and very low-energy drumbeat seismicity was recorded. Significant gas and steam emission continued through April with intermittent ash plumes reaching 1.5 km above the volcano. Thermal anomalies were detected early in the month.

Unrest continued through May with elevated seismicity, significant steam-and-gas emissions, and ash plumes reaching 1.7 km above the crater. Five episodes of drumbeat seismicity were recorded on 29 May and intermittent deformation continued. There were no available reports for June and July.

Variable seismicity was recorded during August and deflation was measured in the first week. Gas-and-steam plumes were observed rising to 850 m above the crater on the 3rd, and 450 m later in the month. A thermal anomaly was noted on the 14th. There were no available reports for September through December.

On 18 December 2017 the Washington VAAC issued an advisory for an ash plume to 6 km that was moving west and dispersing. The plume was described as a "thin veil of volcanic ash and gasses" that was seen in visible satellite imagery, NOAA/CIMSS, and supported by webcam imagery.

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); Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales (URL: https://www.facebook.com/ovsmanizales); 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); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Sabancaya (Peru) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Sabancaya

Peru

15.787°S, 71.857°W; summit elev. 5960 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions, ash and SO2 plumes, thermal anomalies, and lava dome growth during June-November 2019

Sabancaya is an andesitic stratovolcano located in Peru. The most recent eruptive episode began in early November 2016, which is characterized by gas-and-steam and ash emissions, seismicity, and explosive events (BGVN 44:06). The ash plumes are dispersed by wind with a typical radius of 30 km, which occasionally results in ashfall. Current volcanism includes high seismicity, gas-and-steam emissions, ash and SO2 plumes, numerous thermal anomalies, and explosive events. This report updates information from June through November 2019 using information primarily from the Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP) and Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico) (OVI-INGEMMET).

Table 5. Summary of eruptive activity at Sabancaya during June-November 2019 based on IGP weekly reports, the Buenos Aires VAAC advisories, the HIGP MODVOLC hotspot monitoring algorithm, and Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data.

Month Avg. Daily Explosions by week Max plume Heights (km above crater) Plume drift MODVOLC Alerts Min Days with SO2 over 2 DU
Jun 2019 12, 13, 16, 17 2.6-3.8 30 km S, SW, E, SE, NW, NE 15 20
Jul 2019 23, 22, 16, 13 2.3-3.7 E, SE, S, NE 7 25
Aug 2019 12, 30, 25, 26 2-4.5 30 km NW, W S, NE, SE, SW 7 25
Sep 2019 29, 32, 24, 15 1.5-2.5 S, SE, E, W, NW, SW 14 26
Oct 2019 32, 36, 44, 48, 28 2.5-3.5 S, SE, SW, W 11 25
Nov 2019 58, 50, 47, 17 2-4 W, SW, S, NE, E 13 22

Explosions, ash emissions, thermal signatures, and high concentrations of SO2 were reported each week during June-November 2019 by IGP, the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), HIGP MODVOLC, and Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data (table 5). Thermal anomalies were visible in the summit crater, even in the presence of meteoric clouds and ash plumes were occasionally visible rising from the summit in clear weather (figure 68). The maximum plume height reached 4.5 km above the crater drifting NW, W, and S the week of 29 July-4 August, according to IGP who used surveillance cameras to visually monitor the plume (figure 69). This ash plume had a radius of 30 km, which resulted in ashfall in Colca (NW) and Huambo (W). On 27 July the SO2 levels reached a high of 12,814 tons/day, according to INGEMMET. An average of 58 daily explosions occurred in early November, which is the largest average of this reporting period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery detected ash plumes, gas-and-steam emissions, and multiple thermal signatures (bright yellow-orange) in the crater at Sabancaya during June-November 2019. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. A webcam image of an ash plume rising from Sabancaya on 1 August 2019 at least 4 km above the crater. Courtesy of IGP.

Seismicity was also particularly high between August and September 2019, according to INGEMMET. On 14 August, roughly 850 earthquakes were detected. There were 280 earthquakes reported on 15 September, located 6 km NE of the crater. Both seismic events were characterized as seismic swarms. Seismicity decreased afterward but continued through the reporting period.

In February 2017, a lava dome was established inside the crater. Since then, it has been growing slowly, filling the N area of the crater and producing thermal anomalies. On 26 October 2019, OVI-INGEMMET conducted a drone overflight and captured video of the lava dome (figure 70). According to IGP, this lava dome is approximately 4.6 million cubic meters with a growth rate of 0.05 m3/s.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. Drone images of the lava dome and degassing inside the crater at Sabancaya on 26 (top) and 27 (bottom) October 2019. Courtesy of INGEMMET (Informe Ténico No A6969).

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows strong, consistent thermal anomalies occurring all throughout June through November 2019 (figure 71). In conjunction with these thermal anomalies, the October 2019 special issue report by INGEMMET showed new hotspots forming along the crater rim in July 2018 and August 2019 (figure 72).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Thermal anomalies at Sabancaya for 3 January through November 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were frequent, strong, and consistent. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. Thermal hotspots on the NW section of the crater at Sabancaya using MIROVA images. These images show the progression of the formation of at least two new hotspots between February 2017 to August 2019. Courtesy of INGEMMET, Informe Técnico No A6969.

Sulfur dioxide emissions also persisted at significant levels from June through November 2019, as detected by Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data (figure 73). The satellite measurements of the SO2 emissions exceeded 2 DU (Dobson Units) at least 20 days each month during this time. These SO2 plumes sometimes occurred for multiple consecutive days (figure 74).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Consistent, large SO2 plumes from Sabancaya were seen in TROPOMI instrument satellite data throughout June-November 2019, many of which drifted in different directions based on the prevailing winds. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Persistent SO2 plumes from Sabancaya appeared daily during 13-16 September 2019 in the TROPOMI instrument satellite data. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Geologic Background. Sabancaya, located in the saddle NE of Ampato and SE of Hualca Hualca volcanoes, is the youngest of these volcanic centers and the only one to have erupted in historical time. The oldest of the three, Nevado Hualca Hualca, is of probable late-Pliocene to early Pleistocene age. The name Sabancaya (meaning "tongue of fire" in the Quechua language) first appeared in records in 1595 CE, suggesting activity prior to that date. Holocene activity has consisted of Plinian eruptions followed by emission of voluminous andesitic and dacitic lava flows, which form an extensive apron around the volcano on all sides but the south. Records of historical eruptions date back to 1750.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP), Calle Badajoz N° 169 Urb. Mayorazgo IV Etapa, Ate, Lima 15012, Perú (URL: https://www.gob.pe/igp); Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico), Barrio Magisterial Nro. 2 B-16 Umacollo - Yanahuara Arequipa, Peru (URL: http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://SO2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Servicio Meteorológico Nacional-Fuerza Aérea Argentina, 25 de mayo 658, Buenos Aires, Argentina (URL: http://www.smn.gov.ar/vaac/buenosaires/inicio.php); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Karangetang (Indonesia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava flows, strong thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam emissions, and ash plumes during May-November 2019

Karangetang (also known as Api Siau), located on the island of Siau in the Sitaro Regency, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, has experienced more than 40 recorded eruptions since 1675 in addition to many smaller undocumented eruptions. In early February 2019, a lava flow originated from the N crater (Kawah Dua) traveling NNW and reaching a distance over 3 km. Recent monitoring showed a lava flow from the S crater (Kawah Utama, also considered the "Main Crater") traveling toward the Kahetang and Batuawang River drainages on 15 April 2019. Gas-and-steam emissions, ash plumes, moderate seismicity, and thermal anomalies including lava flow activity define this current reporting period for May through November 2019. The primary source of information for this report comes from daily and weekly reports by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM, or the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and satellite data.

PVMBG reported that white gas-and-steam emissions were visible rising above both craters consistently between May through November 2019 (figures 30 and 31). The maximum altitude for these emissions was 400 m above the Dua Crater on 27 May and 700 m above the Main Crater on 12 June. Throughout the reporting period PVMBG noted that moderate seismicity occurred, which included both shallow and deep volcanic earthquakes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. A Sentinel-2 image of Karangetang showing two active craters producing gas-and-steam emissions with a small amount of ash on 7 August 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Webcam images of gas-and-steam emissions rising from the summit of Karangetang on 14 (top) and 25 (bottom) October 2019. Courtesy of PVMBG via Øystein Lund Andersen.

Activity was relatively low between May and June 2019, consisting mostly of gas-and-steam emissions. On 26-27 May 2019 crater incandescence was observed above the Main Crater; white gas-and-steam emissions were rising from both craters (figures 32 and 33). At 1858 on 20 July, incandescent avalanches of material originating from the Main Crater traveled as far as 1 km W toward the Pangi and Kinali River drainages. By 22 July the incandescent material had traveled another 500 m in the same direction as well as 1 km in the direction of the Nanitu and Beha River drainages. According to a Darwin VAAC report, discreet, intermittent ash eruptions on 30 July resulted in plumes drifting W at 7.6 km altitude and SE at 3 km, as observed in HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Photograph of summit crater incandescence at Karangetang on 12 May 2019. Courtesy of Dominik Derek.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Photograph of both summit crater incandescence at Karangetang on 12 May 2019 accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Courtesy of Dominik Derek.

On 5 August 2019 a minor eruption produced an ash cloud that rose 3 km and drifted E. PVMBG reported in the weekly report for 5-11 August that an incandescent lava flow from the Main Crater was traveling W and SW on the slopes of Karangetang and producing incandescent avalanches (figure 34). During 12 August through 1 September lava continued to effuse from both the Main and Dua craters. Avalanches of material traveled as far as 1.5 km SW toward the Nanitu and Pangi River drainages, 1.4-2 km to the W of Pangi, and 1.8 km down the Sense River drainage. Lava fountaining was observed occurring up to 10 m above the summit on 14-20 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Photograph of summit crater incandescence and a lava flow from Karangetang on 7 August 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

PVMBG reported that during 2-22 September lava continued to effuse from both craters, traveling SW toward the Nanitu, Pangi, and Sense River drainages as far as 1.5 km. On 24 September the lava flow occasionally traveled 0.8-1.5 km toward the West Beha River drainage. The lava flow from the Main Crater continued through at least the end of November, moving SW and W as far as 1.5 km toward the Nanitu, Pangi, and Sense River drainages. In late October and onwards, incandescence from both summit craters was observed at night. The lava flow often traveled as far as 1 km toward the Batang and East Beha River drainage on 12 November, the West Beha River drainage on 15, 22, 24, and 29 November, and the Batang and West Beha River drainages on 25-27 November (figure 35). On 30 November a Strombolian eruption occurred in the Main Crater accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions rising 100 m above the Main Crater and 50 m above the Dua Crater. Lava flows traveled SW and W toward the Nanitu, Sense, and Pangi River drainages as far as 1.5 km, the West Beha and Batang River drainages as far as 1 km, and occasionally the Batu Awang and Kahetang River drainages as far as 2 km. Lava fountaining was reported occurring 10-25 m above the Main Crater and 10 m above the Dua Crater on 6, 8-12, 15, 21-30 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Webcam image of gas-and-steam emissions rising from the summit of Karangetang accompanied by incandescence and lava flows at night on 27 November 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia via Øystein Lund Andersen.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed consistent and strong thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit craters from late July through November 2019 (figure 36). Satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 corroborated this data, showing strong thermal anomalies and lava flows originating from both craters during this same timeframe (figure 37). In addition to these lava flows, satellite imagery also captured intermittent gas-and-steam emissions from May through November (figure 38). MODVOLC thermal alerts registered 165 thermal hotspots near Karangetang's summit between May and November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Frequent and strong thermal anomalies at Karangetang between 3 January through November 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) began in late July and were recorded within 5 km of the summit craters. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (bands 12, 11, 8A) confirmed ongoing thermal activity (bright orange) at Karangetang from July into November 2019. The lava flows traveled dominantly in the W direction from the Main Crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showing gas-and-steam emissions with a small amount of ash (middle and right) rising from both craters of Karangetang during May through November 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data detected multiple sulfur dioxide plumes between May and November 2019 (figure 39). These emissions occasionally exceeded 2 Dobson Units (DU) and drifted in different directions based on the dominant wind pattern.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. SO2 emissions from Karangetang (indicated by the red box) were seen in TROPOMI instrument satellite data during May through November 2019, many of which drifted in different directions based on the prevailing winds. Top left: 27 May 2019. Top middle: 26 July 2019. Top right: 17 August 2019. Bottom left: 27 September 2019. Bottom middle: 3 October 2019. Bottom right: 21 November 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://SO2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Øystein Lund Andersen (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: https://www.oysteinlundandersen.com); Dominik Derek (URL: https://www.facebook.com/07dominikderek/).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 20, Number 08 (August 1995)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Aira (Japan)

Explosive activity 23-25 August, dense ash cloud closes a highway

Akan (Japan)

Increased seismicity

Ambae (Vanuatu)

Crater lake exhibits convection cells and steaming as level drops

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Ongoing eruptions; high earthquake and tremor counts

Asosan (Japan)

Continued mud and water ejections; increasing tremor episodes

Bagana (Papua New Guinea)

Vapor emissions produce SO2-rich plume 15-20 km long

Balbi (Papua New Guinea)

Profuse steaming from the summit amphitheater

Etna (Italy)

Magmatic activity resumes in Bocca Nuova and Northeast craters

Fernandina (Ecuador)

Now-cooling lava and the eruption's impact on plants and animals

Izu-Tobu (Japan)

Earthquake swarm offshore SE of Ito City

Kanaga (United States)

Minor steaming from the summit area

Kirishimayama (Japan)

Seismicity increased in late August

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Intermittent Vulcanian explosions and weaker ash-and-vapor emissions

Loloru (Papua New Guinea)

Weak to moderate steaming, but sublimate deposits in possible decline

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Low to moderate degassing; no deformation

Mayon (Philippines)

Crater glow and steam emissions

Moyorodake [Medvezhia] (Japan - administered by Russia)

Measurements of SO2 in Kudriavy plume

Ontakesan (Japan)

Small tremors in late August

Poas (Costa Rica)

Elevated seismicity and continued fumarolic activity within the N crater

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Intracaldera cones quiet, but nearby earthquake triggers local seismicity

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Two additional vents open in late August; steam-and-ash emissions

Stromboli (Italy)

Seismicity generally low from mid-June to mid-September

Tokachidake (Japan)

Tremor event and increased seismicity

Veniaminof (United States)

Small steam plumes and hot spots on satellite images

Yasur (Vanuatu)

Frequent bomb ejections continue; increased activity during 1994



Aira (Japan) — August 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 activity 23-25 August, dense ash cloud closes a highway

During 1995, the geophysical system described below registered Sakura-jima's 126th explosion on 23 August. During 23-25 August, 28 explosions were recorded. The total through August of 153 explosions is relatively small compared to 1960, 1974, 1983, and 1985, years when over 400 explosions took place. During August no measurable ash fell at Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory, 10 km W of the crater. On the other hand, ash-bearing explosions were of sufficient size to send a dense ash cloud NW of the volcano that dropped ash in N Kyushu and closed a highway for an unspecified duration. The highest plume of the month vented on 30 August and rose to 3 km above the crater rim. Station B (2.3 km NE of Minami-dake crater) registered 671 earthquakes and 378 tremor events.

Geophysical determination of explosions. The monthly tally of "explosions" (sometimes also called "explosive eruptions") at Sakura-jima has a geophysical definition, with its origins closely linked to aircraft safety. The volcano sits ~25 km from the busy Kagoshima International Airport and generates frequent Vulcanian explosive eruptions (BGVN 19:11). A video camera monitors the volcano and a real-time image is transmitted to air traffic control. In order to alert aviation dispatchers and pilots of potential hazards regardless of the time of day or the weather, scientists devised a system to rapidly classify the volcano's seismic and acoustic signals (Onodera and Kamo, 1994). This geophysical system has been linked to the Japan Airlines office at Kagoshima Airport since March 1991.

When the amplitudes of incoming seismic signals rise above an established threshold (table 12) their dominant frequency is computed. The above-threshold signals also have an associated air-shock wave that is received at an "infrasonic" microphone with a 0.02-100 Hz detection range. For reference, the low-frequency range of the human ear stops at around 16 Hz. Once the infrasonic air-shock wave is received, the system measures its amplitude and computes its spectrum. The combination of seismic and air-shock amplitudes and spectra allow the events to be classified into "non-eruption," "eruption," or "explosion." categories (table 2).

Table 12. (above) Definition of "explosion" at Sakura-jima, a geophysical characterization of explosive, bomb- and ash-bearing eruptions. (below) Recognized volcanic earthquakes at Sakura-jima, showing the maximum values registered for explosion earthquakes and corresponding air-shock waves (after Onodera and Kamo, 1994).

Criteria for Definition of Explosion at Sakura-jima (~90% accurate when compared to visual observations)
1. Maximum amplitude of explosion earthquake >= 10 microns (0.1 x 10-3 cm/sec).
2. Amplitude of infrasonic air shock >= 0.1 mbars at a site 2.7 km NW of summit crater.
3. Spectral analysis of received infrasonic air-shock discriminates between the categories "non-eruption" (> 5 Hz), "eruption" (2- 5 Hz), and "explosion" (<2 Hz).
Volcanic earthquake type Dominant frequency range Comment
A-type >8 Hz Similar to tectonic earthquakes; devoid of infrasonic air-shocks and not accompanied by eruptive activity.
B-type <5 Hz Includes both BL (1-3 Hz, max. amplitudes <7 x 10-3 cm/sec, reduced displacement <60 cm2 and <1 mb) and BH (5-8 Hz); the former often affiliated with bomb- and ash-bearing eruptions; the latter not affiliated with eruptive activity.
C-type -- Harmonic wave trains, "volcanic tremor"
D'-type -- Non-harmonic tremor; max. amplitudes <7 x 10-3 cm/sec, reduced displacement <60 cm2 and <1 mb; often affiliated with bomb- and ash-bearing eruptions.
Explosion -- Accompanied by strong air-shock waves, and bomb- and ash-bearing. Maximum amplitudes range from 3 x 10-3 to 3 x 10-2 cm/s for the earthquakes (reduced displacements of 50-500 cm2) and 0.1 to 5 mb for the infrasonic air-shock waves.

Although passing typhoons can trigger inappropriate warnings or false alarms, and small-magnitude eruptions may be missed, the number of explosions correlates well with the measured deposition of fresh volcanic ash. The system has been effective at reducing aviation risks. A future goal is to use "explosion" category to automatically trigger the calculation of volcanic ash diffusion based on meteorological data. This program would thus automatically estimate the likely trajectory of ash discharged from the volcano.

References. Onodera, S., Iguchi, M., and Ishihara, K., 1994, Recent advances in Japan, volcano monitoring system of Japan Airlines at Kagoshima Airport: 9th Annual International Oceanic Airspace Conference, 9 November 1994.

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; Saburo Onodera, Director of Meteorology, Flight Operations, Japan Airlines, 3-3-2 Haneda Airport, Tokyo 144, Japan; Kosuke Kamo, Masato Iguchi, and Kazuhiro Ishihara, Sakurajima Volcano Observatory (SVO), Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Sakurajima-cho, Kagoshima 89114, Japan.


Akan (Japan) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Akan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased seismicity

Seismicity increased after 15 August. On 18 August, 127 events were recorded 2.3 km from Ponmachineshiri Crater on Me-Akan volcano. The total number of earthquakes in August was 363. High seismicity was previously reported in March-April 1993.

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

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


Ambae (Vanuatu) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambae

Vanuatu

15.389°S, 167.835°E; summit elev. 1496 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Crater lake exhibits convection cells and steaming as level drops

A pyroclastic explosion on the morning of 3 March 1995 generated a vapor-and-ash column ~3 km high (BGVN 20:02). Preliminary analysis of the resulting deposit did not reveal any juvenile material. On the morning of 5 March, a vapor plume rose ~500 m. It is possible that vapor plumes were emitted over several days, but were not observed at other times because of the thick clouds that usually hide the summit area. The center of activity on 3 March was between two small islands in Lake Voui (figures 4 and 5). Because of poor weather conditions, ORSTOM scientists were unable to observe the lake at close range until 13 March. Aerial photos taken on 20 March (figure 6) show the thermal contrast between Lake Manaro Lakua, formed by the accumulation of water in a low-lying area of the caldera, and Lake Voui, which fills the active crater. Convection cells, ~300-400 m in diameter, could be discerned within Lake Voui.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Sketch of the Aoba summit area, 3 March 1995, showing a very thick dense plume rising from Lake Voui. Based on images taken during an overflight by Vanair pilot Capt. Norman Samson; courtesy of ORSTOM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Map of the Aoba summit area (after an IGN map) showing the lakes and landing site of the helicopter on 27 June 1995. Courtesy of ORSTOM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Photograph of the Aoba summit looking approximately SE, showing the steaming Lake Voui in the active crater (foreground) and Lake Manaro Lakua (background), on 20 March 1995. Convection cells ~300-400 m in diameter can be seen in Lake Voui. Courtesy of ORSTOM.

A drop in the level of Lake Voui that began on 6 March (BGVN 20:02) was visible in photographs taken on 20 March. During another overflight on 6 April, the level of the crater lake had dropped by ~2 m. By the time of a 27 June landing on the NW island in Lake Voui (figure 5), the lake level had dropped ~5 m below the maximum, as determined by recent vegetation. Water temperatures measured around the most accessible parts of the island averaged 38-40°C, with highs of 63-67°C. The strongly acidic (pH 2.3) emerald-green lake was mostly obscured by clouds, but vapor emissions were visible between the island and the NW edge of the crater. A small island seen on 6 April in the N part of the lake had enlarged noticeably because of the drop in water level. The topography of the islands is steep towards the center of the lake and gentle towards crater edge. All of the trees on the island were dead, but other vegetation was beginning to reappear. Some blocks of dried mud (40-50 cm in diameter) ejected during the phreatic explosion at the beginning of March were still visible. Sulfur deposits were noted, and gas bubbles were coming from numerous fissures at the edge of the island.

A bathymetric survey of Lake Voui has never been done, but ORSTOM estimates that it has a volume of 50 million cubic meters. Although activity has declined in recent months, ORSTOM will maintain the current low-level alert status until approximately the end of November.

Geologic Background. The island of Ambae, also known as Aoba, is a massive 2500 km3 basaltic shield that is the most voluminous volcano of the New Hebrides archipelago. A pronounced NE-SW-trending rift zone dotted with scoria cones gives the 16 x 38 km island an elongated form. A broad pyroclastic cone containing three crater lakes (Manaro Ngoru, Voui, and Manaro Lakua) is located at the summit within the youngest of at least two nested calderas, the largest of which is 6 km in diameter. That large central edifice is also called Manaro Voui or Lombenben volcano. Post-caldera explosive eruptions formed the summit craters about 360 years ago. A tuff cone was constructed within Lake Voui (or Vui) about 60 years later. The latest known flank eruption, about 300 years ago, destroyed the population of the Nduindui area near the western coast.

Information Contacts: M. Lardy, D. Douglas, P. Wiart, and K. Kalkaua, Centre ORSTOM, Port Vila, Vanuatu, and Bureau des Desastres Nationaux, P.M.B. 014, Port Vila, Vanuatu; M. Regnier and S. Temakon, ORSTOM et Departement des Mines et de la Geologie et des Ressources en Eaux, Port Vila, Vanuatu; Chief N. Tahi, Village de Nambangahake (Ndui-Ndui) Aoba, Vanuatu; C. Robin and M. Monzier, Centre ORSTOM, Quito, EcuadorJ-P.Eissen, Centre ORSTOM de Brest, France; J-P. Metaxian, Universite de Savoie.


Arenal (Costa Rica) — August 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)


Ongoing eruptions; high earthquake and tremor counts

In August, Crater C continued its regular emission of gases, lava, and sporadic Strombolian eruptions; in addition, there were occasional lava avalanches. Lava that began to be emitted in May 1995 followed a course toward the SW and flowed down as far as 720 m elevation. Lava emitted a month earlier branched into two arms at ~1,300 m elevation. Explosions sent columns to 1 km above the active vent. These columns were typically blown to the NW, W, and SW; however, some minor local ashfalls also took place on the N and NE as well.

During August, OVSICORI-UNA reported comparative highs in both the number of seismic events (925) and the duration of tremor (348 hours). No seismic data are currently available for July 1995. Comparing the available record starting in January 1994, greater numbers of seismic events took place only in February and March 1994 (956 and 1,011 events) and in June 1995 (1,027 events). For the same interval, tremor prevailed longer only in May and June 1995 (419 and 402 hours, respectively).

A May explosion of >1.2 minutes duration and a plot of the available 1994-95 seismic record were both discussed in BGVN 20:04. The volcano's first chronicled eruption occurred in 1968 and many basaltic andesite discharges have followed since then.

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. Fernandez, E. Duarte, R. Saenz, W. Jimenez, and V. Barboza, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica.


Asosan (Japan) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued mud and water ejections; increasing tremor episodes

The bottom of Naka-dake Crater 1 remained covered with a pool of hot water throughout August. The central part of the lake was gray, changing to grayish white or green near the margins. Mud and water ejections were frequently observed; the highest rose 10 m. Isolated tremors increased late in the month (recorded 800 m W of the crater). Isolated tremor events totalled 2,613 during August, and five earthquakes were detected. Tremor events continued increasing in early September; by the 10th there had been >2,000 counted.

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


Bagana (Papua New Guinea) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Bagana

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Vapor emissions produce SO2-rich plume 15-20 km long

Although one of Melanesia's youngest and most active volcanoes, reports on Bagana are infrequent. Bagana sits along Bougainville's axial highlands ~140 km NW of the 16 August, M 7.8 earthquake's epicenter. Following the earthquake, a report from the Buka Passage Administration Office described a change in activity. Specifically, the report mentioned "black thick clouds coming out of the volcano" and stated that "lava had fallen along the SW coastline." The report included a request for RVO to carry out an inspection. As a result, Chris McKee (RVO) flew around the volcano on 22 August.

McKee noted moderate-to-strong vapor emissions forming a 15-20 km long plume. While the plume looked white near Bagana's summit, downwind a prevailing brown color suggested high SO2 concentrations in the emissions. No ash was noted in the plume. The summit, a region occupied by a blocky lava dome, fed the plume from numerous sources. There was no appreciable force in the emissions and the plume rose only slightly above the summit.

A lava flow that has been active for several years was observed on the volcano's SW flank. In late August the flow's front was estimated to have reached 580 m elevation. In overview, conditions at the volcano appeared stable. There was no indication of recent explosive activity.

Although reports documenting activity have been absent since early 1991, reported Bagana eruptions in the interval 1972-87 described activity that included long-term lava effusion and slow dome growth, coupled with moderate explosive activity ending with dome destruction. After destruction there was a return to dome growth and lava flows.

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

Information Contacts: Patrice de Saint-Ours and Ben Talai, RVO.


Balbi (Papua New Guinea) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Balbi

Papua New Guinea

5.92°S, 154.98°E; summit elev. 2715 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Profuse steaming from the summit amphitheater

Aerial inspection was carried out on 22 August, after the 16 August, M 7.8 earthquake that struck 100 km to the W. The inspection revealed profuse white vapor coming from large-output fumaroles in the main fumarole field of the stratovolcano's summit amphitheater. In contrast, emissions at Crater B were moderate and from diffused sources.

Recent landslides were noted in two of the summit craters. The more extensive slides were on the W wall of Crater B. These landslides were thought to have been caused by shaking during the 16 August earthquake.

In general, the visible activity at Balbi appeared to be similar to that observed during previous inspections in the late 1980's. However, emissions may have been more voluminous in 1995.

Balbi marks the highest point on Bougainville Island, forming a summit composed of coalesced cones and lava domes and hosting a large solfatera field. Interviews with local inhabitants suggested that Balbi's last eruption took the lives of a number of people in about 1800-1850.

Geologic Background. The large Balbi stratovolcano forms the highest point on Bougainville Island. The summit of the complex andesitic volcano is part of a large number of coalesced cones and lava domes. Five well-preserved craters occupy a NW-SE-trending ridge north of the summit cone, which also contains a crater. Three large valleys with steep headwalls dissect the flanks. The age of the most recent eruption is not known precisely. An oral tradition of a major eruption during the 19th century is now thought to be in error, but could refer to minor eruptive activity from this relatively youthful-looking volcano. Fumaroles are located within 600-m-wide Crater B and on its W flank.

Information Contacts: Patrice de Saint-Ours and Ben Talai, RVO.


Etna (Italy) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3295 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Magmatic activity resumes in Bocca Nuova and Northeast craters

Strombolian activity resumed at Bocca Nuova vent on 30 July and in Northeast Crater on 2 August. Etna's last magmatic activity within its summit craters stopped 3 years and 7 months earlier, two days after the beginning of the 1991-93 flank lava flow eruption (BGVN 16:12). During that 15-month-long eruption and the following 28 months, the four summit craters exhibited continuous steam emission with frequent non-juvenile ash puffs, several collapses, and some strong phreatic explosions from Northeast Crater and Bocca Nuova. No morphological changes were observed in August at either Voragine or Southeast craters, where gas and steam emissions continued as in previous months.

On 30 July the first red spatters were observed inside Bocca Nuova, but bad weather prevented an evaluation of the intensity of this new magmatic activity. Observations the next day revealed that the vent was located in a new pit crater (20-30 m wide and ~50 m deep) on the N part of the crater floor. That part of the crater floor collapsed in June 1994, and probably dropped again in June 1995 when some phreatic explosions occurred (BGVN 20:06). The vent was a few meters across, and magma was sometimes visible during pulsed degassing episodes frequently interrupted by mild Strombolian explosions. The most energetic events were lava jets lasting 15-20 seconds that threw large spatters 120-130 m above the vent to the crater rim. The activity climaxed on 2 and 3 August when lava jets frequently rose up to a few tens of meters above the crater rim. Strombolian activity stopped abruptly on the night of 4 August, leaving a thick tongue of lava on the pit floor. During the Strombolian phase no spatter fell beyond the crater rim; most fell close to the vent inside the inner pit. In the days following 4 August, several ash emissions were observed at Bocca Nuova, which gradually resumed its quiet degassing. No further activity at Bocca Nuova was observed through the end of August.

Until 2 August, no lava emissions had been observed from Northeast Crater since September 1986 (SEAN 11:09); only scoria was ejected on 13 May 1991 (BGVN 16:07). Strombolian explosions during 2-3 August issued from a small vent in the lowest part of the crater, ~150 m below the crater rim. Almost continuous spatter ejections never reached the crater rim. During 3 August the activity gradually changed to puffs of black ash that continued in the following days. After ash emissions decreased, three incandescent degassing points on the crater floor were seen for several days. On 18 August, Strombolian activity resumed and during the night some incandescent bombs rose above the crater rim. Ash emission the following days prevented observations inside the crater, but no blasts were heard. On 29 August, another 1-day phase of Strombolian activity was followed the next day by ash emissions that marked the end of this eruptive episode.

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

Information Contacts: Mauro Coltelli, CNR Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy.


Fernandina (Ecuador) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Fernandina

Ecuador

0.37°S, 91.55°W; summit elev. 1476 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Now-cooling lava and the eruption's impact on plants and animals

Godfrey Merlen was granted permission by the Galapagos National Park Service to make a post-eruption visit to Fernandina. The recent eruption ceased on about 8 April 1995 (BGVN 20:05). Merlen looked at the eruptions impact on plants and animals, and viewed the newly formed lava fields and cone in the absence of the acrid gases and heat present during the eruption.

Merlin arrived at Cape Hammond on 26 July (figure 3) and climbed for 2 hours along a well-known route to the kipuka adjacent the cone. From this point, he approached the cone itself. He noted Jasminocereus cactus, which form a distinctive part of the flora in the area, and, which were partially scalded within several hundred meters of the lava. Surprisingly, they were heavy with fruit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Sketch map showing newly recognized lava flows and the location of kipukas, including the one termed "Iguana Hill" (IH). Scale is approximate.

The cone was approached from the SW. Large blocks of new lava formed the base of the cone, and below them the old lavas were totally covered with a scoria layer. Poking through this layer were a number of Opuntia cactus. Many had been badly burnt by the heat, but they had undergone strong regrowth, and some had up to 9 or 10 new pads. A few flowers were also present.

He ascended the cone (figure 3) easily, due to its firm surface composed of congealed spatter. From the rim he observed that the lava lake had drained, leaving a reddish rubble in the bottom of the crater. A visible entrance to a lava tunnel on the crater's W side probably served as a lava exit route. Circumferential fissures had developed in many areas around the rim, leading to inward collapses. On the N side of the cone's rim, hot spots disclosed by shimmering, heated air indicated that they were still too hot to approach closely.

From the rim one could look upslope and see the earliest flows from the eruption (figure 3). Though previously obscured by gases, it now seems clear that the flow farthest to the N was of significant extent, even though previously unseen. It had traveled a considerable distance past the cone and then turned N, filling in a low area well down toward the coast. Later, lava from the cone butted up against this flow, making a continuous field of new lava.

In descending from the cone's N side towards the "Iguana Hill" kipuka (figure 3), he crossed over the fresh new aa lava, but there were also some smooth patches and many small lava tubes on the surface. The track of the main lava tube could be followed by noting the white encrustations on the rocks. On approach to these encrustations extreme heat was felt. He assumed that a short distance below the surface there were partially liquid lavas that were still degassing. Away from these encrustations the surface of the lava was quite cool.

Although Iguana Hill was wreathed in acidic volcanic gases for many weeks during the eruption, Land Iguanas trapped there survived and four adults were seen. This hardly represents all the iguanas, as the dense scrub vegetation impeded investigation. Many of the plants on the Iguana Hill kipuka were putting out leaves. Zanthoxylum, Croton, and Cordia were all in full leaf, the former were a particularly noticeable bright green.

Blue "smoke" was still visible a little to the NE of Iguana Hill. There was also a little smoke in the low area behind the shoreline. The coast itself was volcanically quiet. Heavy southerly swells broke along a long, black beach that stood in front of the near-vertical sea cliff. This eruption changed conditions at the Cape Hammond landing little, if at all. Flightless cormorants were building nests and some had eggs. The pupping season for the fur seals and sea lion had begun.

A perspective sketch (figure 4) from a point several kilometers offshore shows that the lava flow that started high on the shoulder of the volcano lined up with the westernmost string of cones, including one cone on the coast. However, the new cone, the vent for much of this recently erupted lava, lies off this line to the S.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Sketch of Fernandina drawn from a point several kilometers offshore looking NE. The sketch shows the alignment of cones and some of the upper lava flows.

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: Godfrey Merlen, skipper of motor vessel "Ratty," Fundacion Charles Darwin Para Las Islas Galapagos, Estacion Cientifica Charles Darwin, Ecuador.


Izu-Tobu (Japan) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Izu-Tobu

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Earthquake swarm offshore SE of Ito City

An offshore micro-earthquake swarm began around 0700 on 11 September near Kawanazaki (figure 14). The number of events increased from 61 on 11 September to 125 the next day before decreasing to only 12 on 13 September. The largest event was M 2.6 at 1059 on the 12th. Volume strain meters detected contraction of 10-7. The last earthquake swarm was detected between 27 February and 9 March 1994; it consisted of 287 events, including a M 3.8 earthquake.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Epicenter map of events at Izu-Tobu during 11-13 September 1995. Different symbols indicate hypocenter depths: circles, 0-5 km; triangles, 5-10 km; squares, 10-15 km. Courtesy of JMA.

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

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


Kanaga (United States) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Kanaga

United States

51.923°N, 177.168°W; summit elev. 1307 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Minor steaming from the summit area

Clouds obscured the volcano during much of the second half of July, preventing ground and satellite observations. Observers on Adak got a brief view on 14 July and reported light steaming from the summit. On 20 July an AVO geologist on Adak viewed Kanaga for several hours. As has been reported intermittently by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) observers since last fall, fumaroles high on the E and SE flank steamed vigorously and a hazy plume of steam and possibly volcanic gas emanated from the summit crater and drifted a few kilometers downwind. In contrast to other mountain peaks of similar elevation, most of Kanaga was dark and snow-free. One snow patch just below the summit was mantled by debris. It is not known if material mantling the cone is the result of possible activity in late June or merely wind-reworking of material deposited during the extended 1994 eruption. Clouds again obscured Kanaga through the first half of August, but FWS personnel on Adak observed minor steaming from the summit crater during 12-25 August.

Geologic Background. Symmetrical Kanaga stratovolcano is situated within the Kanaton caldera at the northern tip of Kanaga Island. The caldera rim forms a 760-m-high arcuate ridge south and east of Kanaga; a lake occupies part of the SE caldera floor. The volume of subaerial dacitic tuff is smaller than would typically be associated with caldera collapse, and deposits of a massive submarine debris avalanche associated with edifice collapse extend nearly 30 km to the NNW. Several fresh lava flows from historical or late prehistorical time descend the flanks of Kanaga, in some cases to the sea. Historical eruptions, most of which are poorly documented, have been recorded since 1763. Kanaga is also noted petrologically for ultramafic inclusions within an outcrop of alkaline basalt SW of the volcano. Fumarolic activity occurs in a circular, 200-m-wide, 60-m-deep summit crater and produces vapor plumes sometimes seen on clear days from Adak, 50 km to the east.

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


Kirishimayama (Japan) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Kirishimayama

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity increased in late August

During 25-30 August there was an increase in seismicity near Shinmoe-dake; 126 earthquakes on the 26th were recorded 1.7 km SW. The maximum seismic amplitude of 3.2 µm occurred on the 30th. In total, 463 events were recorded in August.

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

Information Contacts: JMA.


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — August 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)


Intermittent Vulcanian explosions and weaker ash-and-vapor emissions

During August, intermittent Vulcanian explosions interspersed with weaker ash-and-vapor emissions continued at Crater 2. Larger explosions rose several hundred meters above the crater rim and resulted in ashfalls on the downwind (N-NW) side of the volcano. Observers heard low detonations to deep rumblings; on 4, 5, and 17 August they saw weak, steady crater glow. No activity was seen from Crater 3. The seismographs remained inoperative in August.

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: Patrice de Saint-Ours and Ben Talai, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Loloru (Papua New Guinea) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Loloru

Papua New Guinea

6.52°S, 155.62°E; summit elev. 1887 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak to moderate steaming, but sublimate deposits in possible decline

An aerial inspection took place after the 16 August, M 7.8 earthquake 200 km to the NW. Weak-to-moderate, white vapor emissions were observed from the main fumarole field in a valley on the N flank of the summit lava dome. Sublimate deposits in the valley appeared to be less extensive than when last inspected in 1989. The lake at Loloru's summit appeared normal. There was no discoloration of lake water and the level of water appeared to be unchanged.

Geologic Background. Loloru, the SE-most volcano on Bougainville Island, is the source of a broad ignimbrite apron that covers much of the southern part of the island. The summit consists of two nested calderas, and a forested andesitic lava dome that restricts a crescent-shaped lake to the eastern side of the younger caldera. The smooth flanks of the pyroclastic shield are dissected by radiating deep valleys. A pristine lava flow occurs on the SE flank. Loloru is constructed within the 10 x 15 km Pleistocene Laluai caldera. The topographically higher Taroka group of volcanoes to the NW and the Takuan group to the north also were constructed within the caldera and served to deflect the bulk of Loloru ignimbrites to the south. The most recent of several major Holocene explosive eruptions at Loloru took place about 3000 years ago.

Information Contacts: Patrice de Saint-Ours and Ben Talai, RVO.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — August 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)


Low to moderate degassing; no deformation

During August, Manam's summit craters were covered with atmospheric clouds, but when visible, they were simply emitting white vapor at low-to-moderate rates. There were no audible sounds from either crater and no sightings of crater glow. Tiltmeters (installed 4 km SW of the summit) registered little or no ground deformation.

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: Patrice de Saint-Ours and Ben Talai, RVO.


Mayon (Philippines) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Mayon

Philippines

13.257°N, 123.685°E; summit elev. 2462 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Crater glow and steam emissions

On the evening of 23 August, staff at the Lignon Hill Observatory in Legazpi observed moderate to intense glow from the crater of Mayon. Moderate steam emissions rising ~300 m above the summit preceded the observation of glow. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) increased the Alert Level to 2, indicating that volcanic activity had increased slightly. PHIVOLCS also recommended strict compliance with the 6-km-radius permanent danger zone, an area restricted to regular human activity, especially below the Bonga channel on the SE flank. The PHIVOLCS Quick Response Team was dispatched to augment monitoring staff at the Lignon Hill and Mayon Resthouse observatories.

The summit crater continued to exhibit glow on 25 August, with varying intensity, and there was moderate steam emission. COSPEC measurements of SO2 levels in the steam plume were ~630 metric tons/day (t/d), well above the 100-200 t/d measured during quiet periods. No unusual seismicity was detected. The last sighting of crater glow was on 2 September, although it was not until 12 September that SO2 measurements by COSPEC decreased to near background.

As of mid-September, the dominant seismicity consisted of occasional high-frequency volcanic earthquakes (<5 events/day); they were large enough to be located, and occurred within the E and N parts of the edifice. Observations of the crater area disclosed that some multi-phase events were due to large lava blocks detaching from the vent. The vent is open to the SE as a result of the 1993 explosions. A preliminary investigation of a water well in Malilipot (ENE of the summit) on 25 August revealed a slight decrease in water level, also an indicator of volcanic unrest. However, further measurements of water wells on the SE and S margins of lahar fans around Mayon, where most wells are located, did not show measurable or significant changes. PHIVOLCS therefore concluded that little ground deformation was taking place.

Geologic Background. Beautifully symmetrical Mayon, which rises above the Albay Gulf NW of Legazpi City, is the Philippines' most active volcano. The structurally simple edifice has steep upper slopes averaging 35-40 degrees that are capped by a small summit crater. Historical eruptions date back to 1616 and range from Strombolian to basaltic Plinian, with cyclical activity beginning with basaltic eruptions, followed by longer term andesitic lava flows. Eruptions occur predominately from the central conduit and have also produced lava flows that travel far down the flanks. Pyroclastic flows and mudflows have commonly swept down many of the approximately 40 ravines that radiate from the summit and have often devastated populated lowland areas. A violent eruption in 1814 killed more than 1,200 people and devastated several towns.

Information Contacts: Ernesto G. Corpuz, Chief of Volcano Monitoring Division, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), 5th & 6th Floors Hizon Building, 29 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines.


Moyorodake [Medvezhia] (Japan - administered by Russia) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Moyorodake [Medvezhia]

Japan - administered by Russia

45.389°N, 148.838°E; summit elev. 1124 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Measurements of SO2 in Kudriavy plume

The Kudriavy cone at Medvezhia has been the subject of great interest since Korzhinsky and others (1994) discovered a pure rhenium sulfide mineral in its high-temperature (535°C) fumaroles. Given the concentration of Re found in gas samples (2-10 ppb), the occurrence of ReS2 or Re2S3 (exact form still uncertain) requires enrichment of Re by eight orders of magnitude. During a 21 August-5 September visit, Stan Williams, Tobias Fisher, and Russian colleagues made COSPEC measurements of SO2 flux. Gas samples were also collected from crater fumaroles.

The COSPEC was operated from the base camp (150 m elevation) 2.7 km SE of the elongate ENE-WSW summit (990 m elevation), while the wind velocity was measured at the summit using a hand-held anemometer. The first measurements were made on 28 August in vertically oriented stationary mode with the wind blowing the wide gas plume directly over the camp. Wind velocity was measured at 3 m/s and the plume was estimated to be rising only 50 m above the summit before being blown downwind. The flux was found to be 100 +- 20 metric tons/day (t/d) for the three measurements possible before the wind shifted to the SW, making any measurements essentially oblique to the plume axis, and therefore of great uncertainty. An occasional strong odor of H2S was detected at the camp during measurements.

During a crater visits on 29 and 31 August, and during a helicopter flight downwind in the plume, there was always a strong odor of H2S. Under clear skies on 31 August the wind carried the plume SW, allowing stationary mode vertical and horizontal measurements. One specific goal of the research was to quantify the output of the isolated fumarole fields with different temperatures, which was possible for part of the day. Wind velocity was measured at 3 m/s and the SO2 flux was calculated to be only 30 +- 10 t/d.

Kudriavy has been consistently degassing passively at high temperatures since at least 1961, when it was first visited by Russian scientists; annual fieldwork began in 1989. No change in activity was noted during this visit. At the low levels at which Kudriavy was found to be degassing, a realistic SO2 norm may be 75 +- 50 t/d, with the oscillations potentially reflecting meteoric conditions. These low-pressure fumaroles, some with temperatures up to 950°C, produced hissing to roaring to deafening levels of noise. There was more noise and higher flux than at Momotombo (Nicaragua), where 950°C fumaroles were studied through the early to mid-1980s by U.S. and Russian collaboration.

Reference. Korzhinsky, M.A., Tkachenko, S.I., Shmulovich, K.I., Taran, Y.A., and Steinberg, G.S., 1994, Discovery of a pure rhenium mineral at Kudriavy volcano: Nature, v. 369, p. 51-52.

Geologic Background. The Moyorodake volcanic complex (also known as Medvezhia) occupies the NE end of Iturup (Etorofu) Island. Two overlapping calderas, 14 x 18 and 10 x 12 km in diameter, were formed during the Pleistocene. The caldera floor contains several lava domes, cinder cones and associated lava fields, and a small lake. Four small closely spaced stratovolcanoes were constructed along an E-W line on the eastern side of the complex. The easternmost and highest, Medvezhii, lies outside the western caldera, along the Pacific coast. Srednii, Tukap, and Kudriavy (Moyorodake) volcanoes lie immediately to the west. Historically active Moyorodake is younger than 2000 years; it and Tukap remain fumarolically active. The westernmost of the post-caldera cones, Menshoi Brat, is a large lava dome with flank scoria cones, one of which has produced a series of young lava flows up to 4.5 km long that reached Slavnoe Lake. Eruptions have been documented since the 18th century, although lava flows from cinder cones on the flanks of Menshoi Brat were also probably erupted within the past few centuries.

Information Contacts: Stanley N. Williams and Tobias P. Fischer, Geology Dept., Arizona State University, Tempe AZ 85287, USA; Kirill I. Shmulovich and Mikhail A. Korzhinsky, Inst. of Experimental Mineralogy, Russian Academy of Sciences, 142432 Chernogolovka, Moscow District, Russia; Genrikh S. Steinberg, Inst. of Volcanology & Geodynamic ANSRF, 693008 Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Box 18, Russia.


Ontakesan (Japan) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Ontakesan

Japan

35.893°N, 137.48°E; summit elev. 3067 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small tremors in late August

Small volcanic tremors were recorded in late August from a station 1.5 km SE of the summit.

Geologic Background. The massive Ontakesan stratovolcano, the second highest volcano in Japan, lies at the southern end of the Northern Japan Alps. Ascending this volcano is one of the major objects of religious pilgrimage in central Japan. It is constructed within a largely buried 4 x 5 km caldera and occupies the southern end of the Norikura volcanic zone, which extends northward to Yakedake volcano. The older volcanic complex consisted of at least four major stratovolcanoes constructed from about 680,000 to about 420,000 years ago, after which Ontakesan was inactive for more than 300,000 years. The broad, elongated summit of the younger edifice is cut by a series of small explosion craters along a NNE-trending line. Several phreatic eruptions post-date the roughly 7300-year-old Akahoya tephra from Kikai caldera. The first historical eruption took place in 1979 from fissures near the summit. A non-eruptive landslide in 1984 produced a debris avalanche and lahar that swept down valleys south and east of the volcano. Very minor phreatic activity caused a dusting of ash near the summit in 1991 and 2007. A significant phreatic explosion in September 2014, when a large number of hikers were at or near the summit, resulted in many fatalities.

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


Poas (Costa Rica) — August 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)


Elevated seismicity and continued fumarolic activity within the N crater

During August, the level of the sky blue lake within the N crater climbed 1.5 m with respect to its position in June. The lake's temperature was 37.5°C. Fumaroles on the W lake terrace generated gas columns <50 m high; those on the NW lakeshore continued their constant bubbling. The gases escaping from the pyroclastic cone had an 89°C temperature. Fumaroles on the S and SW crater walls had 94°C and 96°C temperatures and produced columns reaching over 50 m high. When the wind blew towards the S, Rangers at the park entry station smelled sulfur.

Poás was very active in terms of both moderate- to low-frequency earthquakes and tremor. There were 5,651 seismic events in August, predominantly low-frequency (table 6). Both medium- and high-frequency events prevailed when seismicity peaked on 25 August with 312 events.

August can be compared to the 17 other months where data were available during 1994-95 (table 6). The number of low-frequency events was fourth largest in August 1995. The largest value for the 1994-1995 interval was 7,119 events (March 1994). Tremor in August 1995 took place for 9 hours; this compares with high values seen in April 1995 (11 hours) and June 1994 (307 hours).

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. Fernandez, E. Duarte, R. Saenz, W. Jimenez, and V. Barboza, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA).


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — August 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)


Intracaldera cones quiet, but nearby earthquake triggers local seismicity

Although Rabaul remained quiet in August, the region was subjected to a strong tectonic earthquake (Ms 7.8) followed by associated aftershocks. The earthquake struck on 16 August centered ~260 km SE of Rabaul. In Rabaul the earthquake struck at 2027 with a modified Mercalli (MM) intensity of V, causing some minor landslides and the collapse of a few buildings.

The earthquake triggered noteworthy responses at the caldera. On 16 August there were 24 high-frequency events, and, as late as 23 August, 3-9 additional events/day; in July there were 7 high-frequency earthquakes (M <1). On 22 August, one event was felt by residents. With an approximate magnitude of ML 2.8, this was the first felt caldera earthquake since the early phase of Rabaul's September 1994 eruption.

These high-frequency earthquakes occurred mostly in the NE part of the caldera (Namanula Hill area). In contrast, throughout the period of heightened seismicity the number of low-frequency earthquakes remained low, peaking on 30-31 August at 10 and 26 events, respectively. For comparison, during July low-frequency events occurred 11 times. The August low-frequency earthquakes appeared to originate from within or just outside the N caldera area.

During the first half of the month ground deformation remained below the measurable level. Following the Ms 7.8 earthquake, electronic and water-tube tiltmeters recorded offsets as large as 90 µrad. The offsets suggested subsidence in the central part of the caldera with the outer rim remaining stationary. As of 15 September, adequate elevation data were unavailable to confirm the pattern of offset seen in the deformation data.

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: Patrice de Saint-Ours and Ben Talai, RVO.


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Soufriere Hills

United Kingdom

16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Two additional vents open in late August; steam-and-ash emissions

Eruptive activity . . . began with a phreatic explosion on 18 July that caused ashfall around the island (20:6). Formation of a second vent in the summit crater on 28 July and increased steam-and-ash emissions prompted evacuations from communities near the summit (20:7). Activity was variable but generally low in early August, with small mudflows and continued steaming. Vent 1 reactivated on 11 August, and some earthquakes were centered beneath St. George's Hill, 3 km WNW of the summit. Relatively heavy cloud cover and bad weather prevented observations on many days in late August.

Moderate emissions continued from both vents through 19 August (20:7). An ash-and-steam eruption from Vent 1 at 1220 on 19 August was similar in size to the two previous events that caused ashfall in Plymouth. The eruption lasted for ~35 minutes, during which a 10-minute-long phase of more vigorous activity deposited ~1 mm of ash in areas NW of the vent. Ashfall along the road between Lees and Gages has caused reduced traction; police were advising motorists to drive slower on the slippery surface.

Another small phreatic episode at 1657 on 20 August produced minor ashfall. Since the disappearance of continuous tremor on 19 August, seismicity consisted of low-intensity spasmodic tremor and occasional small volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes attributed to very shallow activities under the summit area.

Formation of Vent 3 on 22 August. Seismicity generally increased in frequency and amplitude until the largest single phreatic eruption episode to date at 0803 on 21 August produced a column to a height of ~2 km. Ash blown down the W flank engulfed Plymouth within eight minutes, caused darkness for ~25 minutes, and deposited an estimated 2 mm of ash. An analysis of the new ash showed that it consisted only of old altered material. Other reported phenomenon were projectiles in the Long Ground area and a density current in Gages. Over 70 locatable VT earthquakes were recorded between noon on 20 August through noon the next day; most of these events occurred before the 21 August eruption and were very shallow.

Following a contingency plan, the volcano observatory was relocated to the Vue Pointe Hotel in Old Towne (~ 4.5 km N of Plymouth) at approximately 1600 on the 21st; by 1730 all of the seismic instruments were back on-line. Seismicity was less frequent and vigorous through noon on 22 August, with only four eruption signals of smaller intensity and duration than the previous episodes. Over 5,000 residents were evacuated from the capital city of Plymouth to camps on the N part of the island. Day use was permitted, but restricted. Government offices were also relocated.

Six phreatic eruptions occurred between noon on 22 August and noon the next day. The largest, at 1551 on 22 August, produced ashfall ~3-3.5 km to the SW. This event was followed by three long-period (LP) earthquakes (events associated with the movement of pressurized fluids). When the crater area was visited on the afternoon of 22 August it was discovered that a new vent (Vent 3) had opened along the inside of English's Crater rim. Only 24 earthquakes were located during 21-23 August, all very shallow. Seismicity was comparable or slightly lower during the next twenty-four hours. There were six episodes of increased gas venting, some of which were followed by small VT events. Fifteen earthquakes, including two LP events, were located beneath Soufriere Hills at depths ranging from near-surface to ~5 km.

Aerial reconnaissance on the afternoon of 24 August showed a NNW-SSE trending line of several small explosion craters in the summit crater, with Vent 1 at the N end and Vent 3 at the S; Vent 2 was offset to the SE. The rate of steam emission from Vent 2 was very low, while slightly more steam was being emitted from Vent 3. No gas emission was observed from Vent 1. Seismicity continued to be relatively low, with seven earthquakes distributed beneath St. George's Hill and Soufriere Hills at depths of 0-4 km. Three episodes of increased gas venting and 30 minutes of broadband tremor also occurred. A small mudflow originating from Gages Upper Soufriere during heavy rains on the afternoon of 24 August flowed through Fort Ghaut. Seismicity remained low until a swarm of VT earthquakes that lasted from 2157 on 25 August until 0230 the next day. Located earthquakes consisted of 22 VT events at depths of 0-5 km beneath the N flank. Five episodes of gas venting during 25-26 August had repose intervals of ~4 hours.

Formation of Vent 4 on 27 August. On 27 August there was one episode of broadband tremor that lasted ~20 minutes and a small mudflow in Fort Ghaut that began around 0820. From 26 to 28 August, fourteen small VT earthquakes were located beneath Soufriere Hills and St. Georges Hill at depths of <5 km. During this same period there were twelve episodes of increased gas venting. One episode at 1443 on 26 August ejected ash that could be seen from the Vue Pointe Hotel; other emissions caused light ashfall in the Tar River area. Observations on the morning of 28 August confirmed the presence of a fourth vent that had probably opened the day before. Located on the NNE flank of Castle Peak dome, it was vigorously emitting steam and ash through mid-day on 28 August; emissions from the other vents were low. Eight VT earthquakes were located beneath Soufriere Hills at depths of 0-4 km. Five episodes of increased gas venting occurred.

Vent 4 was still emitting mainly steam at a reduced rate on 29-30 August. Another nine episodes of increased gas venting were detected, and five small shallow earthquakes were located beneath and to the N of the Soufriere Hills during 29-30 August. Unusually good visibility allowed Castle Peak dome to be inspected at around 0900 on 30 August. Steam emissions from all vents were low and there was no ash. The main vent system (a linear chain of vents extending from Vent 1 on the NW margin of the dome SE to the S margin of the dome) had enlarged since 24 August. Mud or muddy water was locally present in the bottom of the main vent system. Several pools of standing water were located atop Castle Peak, and the moat pond on the NW side of the dome still existed. A recent mudflow from the W side of the dome southward down the Tar River had buried Vent 2, on the S side of the dome.

In terms of earthquake activity, the 24-hour period beginning at 1400 on 30 August was probably the most active since the 21 August phreatic eruption. Thirty-four shallow earthquakes were located WNW of Soufriere Hills. A few earthquakes were also located beneath Windy Hill (3.5 km NNW) and in the area between Windy Hill and Soufriere Hills. Seismicity decreased the next day, when only ten shallow earthquakes were located WNW of Soufriere Hills; two were also located beneath Windy Hill. In addition, four LP earthquakes occurred at shallow depths beneath the NW edge of Soufriere Hills. During these two days, thirteen episodes of increased gas venting were detected, but steam and ash emissions from all vents remained low.

Deformation and SO2 measurements. A review of the Brodrick's dry-tilt data completed on 23 August indicated that some deformation of the volcano may have occurred between January and 9 August, confirming that magma may be at a shallow depth (as suggested by the earthquake data). Tiltmeter readings in late August were generally within background noise levels; no tilt related to volcanism was observed. EDM reflectors were deployed on 30 August in Gages Upper Soufriere and on Castle Peak dome.

COSPEC gas measurements taken on the afternoon of 20 August indicated that the rate of SO2 emission was just above the detection level, ~50 metric tons/day (t/d). Additional measurements taken during favorable conditions on the next afternoon and morning of 22 August did not detect any SO2. This lack of SO2 was thought to be a result either of the system running out of gases or a sealing off of the fluid access path to the surface. A COSPEC flight on the afternoon of 23 August detected a slight trace of SO2 (~ 40 t/d) while a flight the next morning showed none. The flux rate on the morning of 26 August was ~50 t/d, and on 28 August was ~85 t/d. Further COSPEC measurements on 29, 30, and 31 August showed no detectable SO2.

Geologic Background. The complex, dominantly andesitic Soufrière Hills volcano occupies the southern half of the island of Montserrat. The summit area consists primarily of a series of lava domes emplaced along an ESE-trending zone. The volcano is flanked by Pleistocene complexes to the north and south. English's Crater, a 1-km-wide crater breached widely to the east by edifice collapse, was formed about 2000 years ago as a result of the youngest of several collapse events producing submarine debris-avalanche deposits. Block-and-ash flow and surge deposits associated with dome growth predominate in flank deposits, including those from an eruption that likely preceded the 1632 CE settlement of the island, allowing cultivation on recently devegetated land to near the summit. Non-eruptive seismic swarms occurred at 30-year intervals in the 20th century, but no historical eruptions were recorded until 1995. Long-term small-to-moderate ash eruptions beginning in that year were later accompanied by lava-dome growth and pyroclastic flows that forced evacuation of the southern half of the island and ultimately destroyed the capital city of Plymouth, causing major social and economic disruption.

Information Contacts: VDAP, USGS; Seismic Research Unit, UWI; Montserrat EOC.


Stromboli (Italy) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity generally low from mid-June to mid-September

The only significant tremor variations for the period 11 June-15 September 1995 were between 12 and 27 August, when intensity slowly increased (figure 45). The following four days were characterized by a rapid return of the intensity to the range observed throughout the first half of September. Noteworthy is the lack of a great number of saturating events compared to March-May 1995, including the 5 March explosion (BGVN 20:04 and 20:05). This means that explosive activity was either less energetic or shallower, with more energy released towards the air than into seismic waves. The total number of recorded events showed a rise and subsequent decrease from mid-June to mid-July, with two minima of 50-60 events/day and a maximum of almost 200 events/day recorded on 26 June. Another rise starting in mid-July reached values of 260-280 events on 28 August and 3 September, corresponding to the period of decreased tremor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Seismicity detected at Stromboli, 11 June-15 September 1995. Open bars show the number of recorded events/day, the solid bars those with ground velocities >100 µ/s (instrument saturation level). The line shows daily tremor energy computed by averaging hourly 60-second samples. The seismic station is located 300 m from the craters at 800 m elevation. Courtesy of Roberto Carniel.

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

Information Contacts: Roberto Carniel, Dipartimento di Georisorse e Territorio, via Cotonificio 114, I-33100 Udine, Italy.


Tokachidake (Japan) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Tokachidake

Japan

43.418°N, 142.686°E; summit elev. 2077 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Tremor event and increased seismicity

A volcanic tremor event and 20 seismic events were observed on 18 August at Station A, 4.5 km NNW of Crater 62-2. On 23 August another 19 events were recorded. In total, 77 earthquakes were detected in August. This period of increased seismicity began on 9 July.

Geologic Background. Tokachidake volcano consists of a group of dominantly andesitic stratovolcanoes and lava domes arranged on a NE-SW line above a plateau of welded Pleistocene tuffs in central Hokkaido. Numerous explosion craters and cinder cones are located on the upper flanks of the small stratovolcanoes, with the youngest Holocene centers located at the NW end of the chain. Frequent historical eruptions, consisting mostly of mild-to-moderate phreatic explosions, have been recorded since the mid-19th century. Two larger eruptions occurred in 1926 and 1962. Partial cone collapse of the western flank during the 1926 eruption produced a disastrous debris avalanche and mudflow.

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


Veniaminof (United States) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Veniaminof

United States

56.17°N, 159.38°W; summit elev. 2507 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small steam plumes and hot spots on satellite images

Clouds frequently obscured the volcano in July and August, preventing ground and satellite observations. Observers in Perryville (~30 km S of Veniaminof) got good views on 13 and 27 July, and reported light steaming on both days. On 28 July a weak hot spot centered on Veniaminof was noted on an AVHRR image. Perryville residents reported clear skies but no evidence of activity on the morning of 4 August, and AVHRR satellite images on 4 and 5 August showed no hot spot. Perryville residents saw a small steam plume on 9 August, a small steam plume and "smoke" during the week of 12-18 August, and a small steam plume again during 19-25 August. AVHRR satellite images on 14 and 21 August showed no hot spots. Another AVHRR image from late on 31 August showed a possible steam plume ~50 km long blowing NW of Veniaminof. The hot spot was ~15°C warmer than the surrounding features (probably ice and snow near the summit).

Geologic Background. Veniaminof, on the Alaska Peninsula, is truncated by a steep-walled, 8 x 11 km, glacier-filled caldera that formed around 3,700 years ago. The caldera rim is up to 520 m high on the north, is deeply notched on the west by Cone Glacier, and is covered by an ice sheet on the south. Post-caldera vents are located along a NW-SE zone bisecting the caldera that extends 55 km from near the Bering Sea coast, across the caldera, and down the Pacific flank. Historical eruptions probably all originated from the westernmost and most prominent of two intra-caldera cones, which rises about 300 m above the surrounding icefield. The other cone is larger, and has a summit crater or caldera that may reach 2.5 km in diameter, but is more subdued and barely rises above the glacier surface.

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


Yasur (Vanuatu) — August 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Yasur

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent bomb ejections continue; increased activity during 1994

During October 1993, a telemetered surveillance station registered variations in the seismicity at Yasur. The station is located 2 km from the crater on the ashflow plain (figure 3). Seismicity (detected at five stations) generally increased from October 1993 to January 1994, corresponding to renewed eruptive activity. Very strong activity from January 1994 to January 1995 (comparable to 1976-77) ejected bombs in a radius of ~400 m from the crater rim (figure 4). Ashfall measured at the surveillance station totaled ~12 cm during January-October 1994. Seismicity remained high throughout 1994, then declined after January 1995.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Photograph of an explosion at Yasur on 17 March 1994. The ARGOS-linked monitoring station is in the foreground. View is approximately to the W. Photo by M. Lardy, courtesy of ORSTOM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Sketch map of Yasur showing the area of volcanic bomb fallout during 1994. Courtesy of ORSTOM.

Because Yasur is very accessible, it has been promoted as a tourist destination, resulting in a greater number of visitors and greater risk of accidents. In mid-January 1994 and early February 1995, when activity began to decline, there were two accidents with three victims. In one incident, two visitors on the crater rim died when they were struck by a 15 kg bomb ejected from the vent. Although there is little danger when the volcano is having regular explosions at intervals of a few minutes to tens of minutes, the local authorities want to better inform visitors of the constant danger. In January 1994, ORSTOM began publishing a series of booklets to inform the general public of the volcanic risks. Risks discussed include bombs falling near the crater, modifications of the crater topography (raising of the floor, migration of the vent, etc.). In addition, the 200-m distance between the observation site and the active vents, and the very frequent bomb ejections at speeds of 100-300 m/second that have rendered approaching the crater rim dangerous.

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

Information Contacts: M. Lardy and D. Charley, Centre ORSTOM, Port Vila, Vanuatu, and Department des Mines et de la Geologie et des Ressources en Eaux; J. Tabbagh, Centre de Teleobservation Informatise des Volcans, Garchy, France; J-P. Eissen, Centre ORSTOM de Brest, France; C. Robin and M. Monzier, Centre ORSTOM, Quito, Ecuador.

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/).