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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

Etna (Italy) Lava flows from NSEC scoria cone and SE flank fissure in December 2018; ash emissions through March 2019

Manam (Papua New Guinea) Ash plumes reaching 15 km altitude in August and December 2018

Merapi (Indonesia) Dome appears at summit on 12 August 2018; grows to 447,000 m3 by late March 2019

Bagana (Papua New Guinea) Intermittent ash plumes; thermal anomalies continue through January 2019

Fuego (Guatemala) Frequent explosive activity with ash plumes, avalanches, lava flows, and lahars from July 2018 through March 2019

Stromboli (Italy) Constant explosions from both crater areas during November 2018-February 2019

Krakatau (Indonesia) Ash plumes, ballistic ejecta, and lava extrusion during October-December; partial collapse and tsunami in late December; Surtseyan activity in December-January 2019

Santa Maria (Guatemala) Daily explosions cause steam-and-ash plumes and block avalanches, November 2018-February 2019

Masaya (Nicaragua) Lava lake persists with decreased thermal output, November 2018-February 2019

Reventador (Ecuador) Multiple daily explosions with ash plumes and incandescent blocks rolling down the flanks, October 2018-January 2019

Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) Weak explosions and ash plumes beginning 21 October 2018

Kerinci (Indonesia) A persistent gas-and-steam plume and intermittent ash plumes occurred from July 2018 through January 2019



Etna (Italy) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava flows from NSEC scoria cone and SE flank fissure in December 2018; ash emissions through March 2019

Italy's Mount Etna on the island of Sicily has had historically recorded eruptions for the past 3,500 years and has been erupting continuously since September 2013 through at least March 2019. Lava flows, explosive eruptions with ash plumes, and Strombolian lava fountains commonly occur from its summit areas that include the Northeast Crater (NEC), the Voragine-Bocca Nuova (or Central) complex (VOR-BN), the Southeast Crater (SEC, formed in 1978), and the New Southeast Crater (NSEC, formed in 2011). A new crater, referred to as the "cono della sella" (saddle cone), emerged during early 2017 in the area between SEC and NSEC and has become the highest part of the SEC-NSEC complex. After several months of low-level activity in early 2018, increases in Strombolian activity at several vents began in mid-July (BGVN 43:08). This was followed by new lava flows emerging from the saddle cone and the E vent of the NSEC complex in late August and discontinuous Strombolian activity and intermittent ash emissions through November 2018 (BGVN 43:12). An eruption from a new fissure produced a lava flow into the Valle del Bove in late December 2018 and is covered in this report along with activity through March 2019 that included frequent ash emissions. Information is provided primarily by the Osservatorio Etneo (OE), part of the Catania Branch of Italy's Istituo Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologica (INGV).

For the first three weeks of December 2018, Strombolian activity and ash emissions continued from the summit vents. A series of small flows from multiple vents near the scoria cone inside NSEC formed a small flow field on the E flank mid-month. A lateral eruption from a fissure on the SE flank of NSEC opened on 24 December and produced a series of flows that traveled E into the Valle del Bove for three days. Sporadic ash emissions, some with dense plumes and significant SO2 emissions, were typical throughout January and February 2019. Activity declined significantly during March 2019 to minor ash emissions and ongoing outgassing from the summit vents. The MIROVA plot of thermal energy recorded the increased heat from the lava flows during December 2018, along with minor pulses from the ash emissions and Strombolian activity in January and February (figure 240).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 240. The Etna MIROVA thermal anomaly data for 5 July 2018 through March 2019 showed a spike in thermal activity from lava flows and increased Strombolian activity in late August and during December 2018. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during December 2018. Strombolian activity, with modest ash emissions, continued from the Bocca Nuova, NSEC, and NEC during the first three weeks of December. Lava flowed from the scoria cone located within the E vent of NSEC and was associated with incandescent blocks rolling down the E flank of NSEC. Variable Strombolian activity at the scoria cone beginning on 4 December produced continuous overlapping small flows from several vents near the scoria cone for two weeks (figure 241). Intermittent explosions lasted 5-10 minutes with similar length pauses; activity increased on 16 December with near-continuous lava effusion. Several small flows traveled NE, E, and SE down the E flank of NSEC during the second and third weeks of the month (figure 242). A few flows reached the base of the cone at 2,900 m elevation and were almost a kilometer in length. Small collapses of portions of the lava field also produced minor plumes of ash.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 241. Map of the summit crater area at Etna (DEM 2014). Black hatch lines outline the edge of the summit craters: BN = Bocca Nuova, with the north-western depression (BN-1) and the south-eastern depression (BN-2); VOR = Voragine; NEC = Northeast Crater; SEC = Southeast Crater; NSEC = New Southeast Crater. Yellow circles are degassing vents, and red circles are vents with Strombolian activity and/or ash emissions. The cooling lava field from the E vent scoria cone at NSEC is shown in yellow; the red flows were active on 17 December 2018. Courtesy of INGV (Report 51/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 10/12/2018 - 16/12/2018, data emissione 18/12/2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 242. The scoria cone inside the E vent of NSEC at Etna produced multiple small lava flows and Strombolian explosions for most of the first half of December 2018. (a) Strombolian activity at the scoria cone inside the E vent of the New Southeast Crater, seen from Milo (on Etna's eastern slope) on 11 December 2018. (b) Summit area of Etna seen from the south on 11 December 2018. (c) Eastern flank of the New South-East Crater seen from Fornazzo (eastern slope of Etna), with Strombolian activity and lava flows on 16 December 2018. (d) Active lava flows seen from Zafferana (eastern slope of Etna) on 16 December 2018. Courtesy of INGV (Report 51/2018, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 10/12/2018 - 16/12/2018, data emissione 18/12/2018).

A lateral eruption and intense seismic swarm began on 24 December 2018 from a nearly 2-km-long fissure trending NNW-SSE on the SE flank of NSEC; it produced a flow into the Valle del Bove and covered about 1 km2 (figures 243). The other summit craters produced intense Strombolian activity and abundant ash emissions during 24-27 December. Beginning around 0800 local time on 24 December, degassing intensity from the summit craters increased significantly. In the following hours, intermittent reddish-gray ash emissions rose from Bocca Nuova and NEC becoming continuous by late morning. Shortly after noon, an eruptive fissure opened up at the southeastern base of NSEC, releasing intense Strombolian activity which rapidly formed a dense plume of dark ash. A second smaller fissure located between NSEC and NEC also opened at the same time and produced weaker Strombolian activity that lasted a few tens of minutes. Over the following two hours, the main fissure spread SE, crossing over the western edge of the Valle del Bove and reaching down to 2,400 m elevation. Continuous Strombolian activity of variable intensity occurred at NEC and Bocca Nuova. The ash cloud created by the multiple eruptive vents generated a dense plume that drifted SE, producing ashfall mainly in the area around Zafferana Etnea and Santa Venerina (figure 244).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 243. Preliminary map of the lava flows and scoria cones at Etna active during the eruption of 24-27 December 2018. The topographic base used was provided by TECNOLAB of the INGV Catania Section Observatory Etneo, Laboratory for Technological Advances in Volcano Geophysics. The abbreviations at the top left identify the various summit craters (NEC = North-East Crater, VOR = Voragine, BN = Bocca Nuova, SEC = South-East Crater, NSEC = New South-East Crater). Courtesy of INGV (Report 01/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 24/12/2018 - 30/12/2018, data emissione 01/01/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 244. Eruptive activity from the fissure at Etna that opened on 24 December 2018 included multiple flows, Strombolian explosions, and a significant ash plume that caused ashfall in nearby communities. Top left: The eruptive fissure opened near the edge of the western wall of the Valle del Bove. Top right: An ash and steam plume produced by the opening of the fissure, taken from the south. Bottom left: Ash fall on a sidewalk in Zafferana Etnea. Bottom right: Multiple lava flows were fed by an eruptive fissure that opened along the western wall of the Valle del Bove. Images taken on 24 December by B. Behncke. Courtesy of INGV (25 dicembre 2018, Redazione INGV Vulcani, L'eruzione laterale etnea iniziata il 24 dicembre 2018).

As the fissure opened it fed several flows that descended the W face of the Valle del Bove (figure 245), past Serra Giannicola Grande, merged into a single flow at the base of the wall, and continued E across the valley floor. Ash emissions decreased significantly from Bocca Nuova and NEC after 1430 on 24 December. By 1800 the fissure was active mainly at the lower end where it continued to feed the flow in the Valle del Bove with strong Strombolian activity and abundant ash emissions. Around 1830 intense Strombolian activity resumed at Bocca Nuova along with abundant ash emissions which gradually decreased overnight. Effusive activity from the fissure continued through 26 December when it decreased significantly; new lava feeding the flow ended on 27 December, but the flow front continued to move slowly (figure 246). Degassing continued at Bocca Nuova, forming a dilute ash plume that drifted hundreds of km S before dissipating. A persistent SO2 plume was measured with satellite instruments drifting SSE during 25-30 December while the eruptive fissure was active (figure 247).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 245. Visual and thermal images of the 24-27 December 2018 fissure vent at Etna taken on 26 December 2018. (a) The eruptive fissure (yellow arrows) opened on 24 December 2018 along the W wall of the Valle del Bove and sent fresh lava down the wall (black areas), the yellow dashed rectangles indicate the areas shown with thermal images in c and d. (b) The crew that carried out the overflight on 26 December, using the helicopter of the 2nd Coast Guard Air Force in Catania. (c) and (d) are thermal camera images of the eruptive fissure that highlight the flows moving down the W wall of Valle del Bove. Visible image photo by Marco Neri. Thermal images by Stefano Branca. Courtesy of INGV (Report 01/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 24/12/2018 - 30/12/2018, data emissione 01/01/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 246. The flow from the fissure eruption at Etna traveled past Serra Giannicola Grande and E into the Valle del Bove during 24-27 December 2018. By the time of this image at 1600 on 27 December, the lava flows were no longer being fed with new material and were almost stationary within the Valle del Bove. Photo by Marco Neri, courtesy of INGV (Report 01/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 24/12/2018 - 30/12/2018, data emissione 01/01/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 247. The OMPS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite measured significant SO2 plumes from Etna during the December eruptive episode, shown here by data on (clockwise from top left) 25, 27, 29, and 30 December 2018. The SO2 plumes on these days all drifted SSE from Etna. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

A significant increase in the release of seismic strain and frequency of earthquakes began around 0830 on 24 December 2018. Around 300 events occurred during the first three hours of increased seismicity which continued throughout the week, with over 2,000 events recorded in different areas around Etna. The initial swarm was located in the summit area near the fissure with events located 0-3 km below sea level; subsequent seismicity was located in the Valle del Bove and included multiple earthquakes with magnitudes greater than M 4.0. The E and SW slopes of the volcano were also affected by seismic events. The largest earthquake (M 4.8) was recorded on 26 December at 0319 local time, located about 1 km below sea level between the towns of Fleri and Pennisi on the Faglia Fiandaca fault. It was widely felt in many urban centers and caused damage in some areas. INGV noted that it was likely not generated by movement of magmatic material in the epicentral area.

Activity during January 2019. No lava flow activity was reported in January, but sporadic ash emissions and weak Strombolian activity persisted at NEC and Bocca Nuova (figure 248); occasional nighttime incandescent bursts were seen from Voragine. During one of these ash-emission episodes, on the evening of 18 January, fine ashfall was reported on the SE flank in the towns of Zafferana Etnea and Santa Venerina. Slight increases in volcanic tremor amplitude accompanied incandescent flashes from Voragine crater on the evenings of 16 and 18 January and in the early morning of 21 January (figure 249). On 19 January gas emissions and explosions were reported from a new vent near the NE edge of VOR, about 40 m NW from the 7 August 2016 vent (figure 250).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 248. Strong degassing from the summit craters at Etna was accompanied by ash emissions from NEC on 16 (a) and 19 January 2019 (b). The images were taken with the high-resolution webcam at Monte Cagliato (located E of Etna). Courtesy of INGV (Report 04/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 14/01/2019 - 20/01/2019, data emissione 22/01/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 249. Episodes of strong incandescence appeared at Etna's Voragine crater at 1710 UTC on 16 January (a), at 1143 UTC on 18 January (b), and at 0307 on 21 January (c). Photo (a) was taken from Tremestieri Etneo (south side of Etna), (b) and (c) were recorded by the high resolution camera in Monte Cagliato (eastern slope of Etna). Courtesy of INGV (Report 04/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 14/01/2019 - 20/01/2019, data emissione 22/01/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 250. A newly opened vent under the NE rim of the Voragine crater at Etna was observed on 19 January 2019. Behind it on the right, about 40 m SE, is the 7 August 2016 vent. Video taken by Prof. Carmelo Ferlito, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences of the University of Catania. Courtesy of INGV (Report 04/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 14/01/2019 - 20/01/2019, data emissione 22/01/2019).

Newly available higher resolution SO2 data from the TROPOMI Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument on board the Copernicus Sentinel-5 Precursor (S5P) satellite showed persistent SO2 plumes from Etna that drifted significant distances in multiple directions before dissipating for much of the month. The strongest plumes were recorded during 16-22 January 2019 (figure 251).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 251. Sulfur dioxide plumes were recorded from Etna during most days in January 2019 from the TROPOMI Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument on the Copernicus S5P satellite. The densest plumes were recorded during 16-22 January; plumes from 18, 19, 20 and 21 January 2019 are shown here. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Ash emissions intensified during the last week of January. During the morning of 23 January 2019 a dense ash plume drifted ENE from NEC, producing ashfall on the E flank of the volcano as far as the coast, including in Giarre (figure 252). Discontinuous ash emissions were reported from Bocca Nuova on 25 January; the following morning ash emissions intensified again from NEC and drifted S, producing ashfall in the S flank as far as Catania (figure 253). Emissions persisted until sometime during the night of 26-27 January. The ashfall from 22-23 and 26 January were analyzed by INGV personnel; the components were 95-97% lithic fragments and crystals with only 3-5% juvenile material. An ash plume from Bocca Nuova on 28 January drifted E and produced ashfall in the Valle del Bove. Ash emission decreased from Bocca Nuova on 29-30 January; only dilute ash was observed from NEC during the last few days of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 252. Dense ash emissions during the morning of 23 January 2019 at Etna were observed (a) from the Catania camera CUAD (ECV), (b) from the Catania CUAD high resolution camera (ECVH), (c) from the area stop at Linera on the A18 Messina-Catania motorway (photo B. Behncke), and (d) from the hamlet of Pisano, near Zafferana Etnea, on the SE slope of the volcano (photo B. Behncke). Courtesy of INGV (Report 05/2019; ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 21/01/2019 - 27/01/2019, data emissione 29/01/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 253. Ash emissions covered the snow on the S flank of Etna on 26 January 2019. Photo was taken from the SS 121 at the Adrano junction, on the SW flank of the volcano. Photo by R. Corsaro, courtesy of INGV (Report 05/2019; ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 21/01/2019 - 27/01/2019 ,data emissione 29/01/2019).

Activity during February 2019. Typical degassing and discontinuous explosive activity from the summit characterized Etna during February. An explosion was observed at NEC at 0230 UTC on 2 February which initially produced a dense ash plume that drifted NE, producing ashfall in the summit area and the Piano Provenzana. Ash emission decreased throughout the day. Repeated ash emissions were visible beginning in the afternoon of 6 February from NEC after several days of cloudy weather. Continuous ash emissions were observed overnight on 7-8 February, producing a dilute plume that drifted S then SE. A similar dilute ash emission was observed on 9 February; the plume drifted SW. Analysis of the ash by INGV indicated a similar composition to the samples measured two weeks prior. Webcams captured numerous pulsating ash emissions from NEC in mid-February, many of which produced substantial SO2 plumes (figure 254). Emissions increased in intensity and frequency and were nearly continuous during most of the third week, with plumes drifting W, S, and SE resulting in ashfall in those directions, and also led to temporary air space closures in Catania and Comiso (figures 255 and 256). Also during the third week, Strombolian activity took place at BN-1, while pulsating degassing was observed at BN-2. Incandescent degassing continued at the vent located on the N edge of Voragine. Irregular ash emissions that rapidly dispersed near the summit were produced by BN on 26 and 27 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 254. Substantial SO2 plumes accompanied ash emissions from Etna during many days in February 2019. The largest plumes were captured with the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite on 19, 20, 21, and 22 February. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 255. Ash emission from Etna's North-East Crater (NEC) on the morning of 18 February 2019 was captured by the INGV-OE webcam in Milo. The different colored lines roughly indicate the topographic profiles observable from that position of the various summit craters of Etna: NSEC = New South-East Crater; BN = Bocca Nuova; VOR = Voragine. Courtesy of INGV (Report 09/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 18/02/2019 - 24/02/2019, data emissione 26/02/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 256. An ash emission drifted W from Etna's NEC on 19 February 2019 as viewed from Tremestieri Etneo, located 20 km S of the volcano. Photo by Boris Behncke, courtesy of INGV-OE (Report 09/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 18/02/2019 - 24/02/2019, data emissione 26/02/2019).

Activity during March 2019. Discontinuous and moderate outgassing characterized activity at all the summit vents of Etna throughout March 2018 after an ash plume from Bocca Nuova on 2 March reached 4 km above the crater. The ash plume was accompanied by seismic activity that INGV concluded was likely related to an intra-crater collapse. The discontinuous degassing was interrupted on 16 March by a single small emission of brown ash from Bocca Nuova which rapidly dissipated (figure 257). During a site visit on 30 March, INGV personnel noted pulsating degassing with apparent temperatures above 250°C from the new vent formed in mid-January at the E rim of Voragine (figure 258). At NEC, low-temperature pulsating degassing was occurring at the vent at the bottom of the crater and from fumaroles along the inner walls (figure 259).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 257. A small ash emission from the BN crater on 16 March 2019 was recorded by the high-resolution webcams in Monte Cagliato, on the eastern slope of Etna (a) and in Bronte, on the west side (b). Courtesy of INGV (Report 12/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 11/03/2019 - 17/03/2019, data emissione 19/03/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 258. Degassing continued at the vents along the E edge of Voragine crater at Etna on 30 March 2019, producing temperatures in excess of 250°C. In the background is the NE Crater (NEC) whose southern edge was affected by modest collapses in March 2019. Courtesy of INGV (Report 14/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 25/03/2019 - 31/03/2019, data emissione 02/04/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 259. Degassing continued from the vents located on the bottom of the NE Crater at Etna on 30 March 2019 as seen from the eastern edge with visual and thermal images. Courtesy of INGV (Report 14/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 25/03/2019 - 31/03/2019, (data emissione 02/04/2019).

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

Information Contacts: Sezione di Catania - Osservatorio Etneo, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/it/ ); Blog INGVvulcani, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV); (URL: http://ingvvulcani.wordpress.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/); 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/).


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — February 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Manam

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes reaching 15 km altitude in August and December 2018

Manam is a basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano that lies 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea; it has a 400-year history of recorded evidence for recurring low-level ash plumes, occasional Strombolian activity, lava flows, pyroclastic avalanches, and large ash plumes. Activity during 2017 included a strong surge in thermal anomalies beginning in mid-February that lasted through mid-June; low levels of intermittent thermal activity continued for the rest of the year (BGVN 43:03). Activity during 2018, discussed below, included two ash explosions that rose higher than 15 km altitude, in August and December, resulting in significant ashfall and evacuations of several villages. Information about Manam is primarily provided by Papua New Guinea's Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), part of the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM). This information is supplemented with aviation alerts from the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). MODIS thermal anomaly satellite data is recorded by the University of Hawai'i's MODVOLC thermal alert recording system, and the Italian MIROVA project; sulfur dioxide monitoring is done by instruments on satellites managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Satellite imagery provided by the Sentinel Hub Playground is also a valuable resource for information about this remote location.

Satellite imagery confirmed thermal activity in December 2017, February-April 2018, and June-December 2018. Explosive activity with ash plumes was reported in June, August-October, and December 2018. Ash plumes from explosions in late August and early December rose to over 15 km altitude and caused heavy ashfall on the island. Lava flows were reported in late August, late September to early October, and December; a pyroclastic flow on the NE flank occurred during the late August explosive episode. MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued during the same periods when lava flows were reported on the NE flank. The MIROVA Log Radiative Power graph for 2018 showed intermittent pulses of thermal activity throughout the year; levels of increased activity were apparent in late December 2017-early January 2018, mid-May, August, late September-early October, and early December 2018 (figure 42). Many of these thermal events could be confirmed with either satellite or ground-based information.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. The MIROVA Log Radiative Power graph for Manam during 2018 showed intermittent pulses of thermal activity throughout the year, many of which could be confirmed with satellite imagery or ground observations. Levels of increased activity were apparent in late December 2017-early January 2018, mid-May, August, late September to early October, and the first half of December 2018. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during December 2017-July 2018. Both Sentinel-2 satellite imagery, and MIROVA data thermal evidence, indicated continued thermal activity at both of Manam's summit craters (Main and Southern) during December 2017-April 2018. Satellite imagery on 11, 26, and 31 December showed two thermal hotspots on each date, with a gas plume drifting E on 26 December 2017. One strong thermal anomaly was visible in satellite imagery on 19 February 2018 along with a SE-drifting gas plume (figure 43). A single anomaly was visible through atmospheric clouds on 1 March 2017 with a thin gas plume drifting NNE. On 10 April two hotspots were clearly visible, the one at Southern Crater was larger than the one at Main Crater, both with ESE drifting gas plumes. Though there was diffuse atmospheric cloud cover on 15 April, both anomalies were visible with SW-drifting gas plumes. On 25 April clouds covered the likely thermal anomalies, but a dense gas plume drifted N from the summit (figure 44).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 images (bands 12, 14, 2) of Manam on 11, 26, and 31 December 2017 and 19 February 2018 all showed evidence of either one or two thermal anomalies at the summit craters and gas plumes drifting in multiple directions. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Thermal anomalies and/or gas plumes were visible at Manam's Main and Southern Craters on 1 March and 10, 15, and 25 April 2018 in Sentinel-2 imagery (bands 12, 14, 2), confirming continued activity at the volcano. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Although no satellite images confirmed thermal activity in May 2018, several anomalies were recorded by the MIROVA project (figure 42). Sentinel-2 imagery on 9 June confirmed two hotspots at the summit with Southern Crater's signal larger than the weak Main Crater signal; the first VAAC report of 2018 was issued on 10 June based on a pilot report of ash at 1.8 km altitude, but it did not appear in satellite imagery. Two thermal anomalies were both more clearly visible on 29 July, with NNE drifting gas plumes (figure 45).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Two thermal anomalies with steam and gas plumes were visible in Sentinel-2 imagery (bands 12,4, 2) at the summit of Manam on 9 June and 29 July 2018. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during August 2018.Thermal activity began increasing in early August 2018, as seen in the MIROVA data, but satellite imagery also indicated a growing hotspot at Main Crater on 13 August. The thermal source appeared to be some type of incandescent flow on the upper NE flank that was visible in 23 August imagery along with the second anomaly at Southern Crater (figure 46).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Growing hotspots were visible at the summit of Manam in Sentinel-2 imagery (bands 12,4, 2) on 13 August 2018 compared with the June and July imagery (figure 45). By 23 August a much larger thermal anomaly was visible beneath cloud cover originating from Main Crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) issued an information bulletin early on 25 August indicating a new eruption from Main Crater (figure 47). Residents on the island reported increased activity around 0500 local time. The Darwin VAAC also issued a report a few hours later (24 August 2019 UTC) where they increased the Aviation Color code to Red, and indicated a high-impact eruption with an ash plume visible in satellite imagery that rose to 15.2 km altitude and drifted WSW after initially moving N (figure 48). Reports received at RVO indicated that ash, scoria, and mud fell in areas between the communities of Dangale on the NNE and Jogari on the SW part of the island. They also indicated that the most affected areas were Baliau and Kuluguma where wet, heavy, ashfall broke tree branches and reduced visibility (figure 49). A lava flow was observed in the NE valley slowly moving downhill, and there was evidence of a pyroclastic flow that reached the ocean in the same valley (figure 50).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. A large explosion at Manam on 25 August 2018 (local time) produced an ash plume that rose to over 15 km altitude. Islanders reported that ash and other debris from the eruption was so thick that sunlight was totally blocked for hours. Photo taken from the New Guinea mainland by members of the Police force. Courtesy of Scott Waide.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. A substantial ash plume from an explosion at Manam on 25 August 2018 (local time) rose to 15.2 km altitude and drifted WSW for about five hours. Photo by Sean Richards, courtesy of Scott Waide.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Vegetation on Manam was covered and damaged by heavy, wet, ash after an explosion on 25 August 2018. Photo by Anisah Isimel, courtesy of Scott Waide.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. A fresh lava flow was visible in the major drainage on the NE flank at Manam a few days after a large explosion on 25 August 2018. Pyroclastic flows scorched trees and left behind debris. Posted online on 28 August 2018 by journalist Scott Waide from an article by journalist Martha Louis, EMTV.

The eruption ceased around 1030 local time and was followed by dense steam plumes rising from the summit. RVO reported the following day that six houses in Boakure village on the NE side of the island were buried by debris from the pyroclastic flow. The occupants of the houses had escaped earlier to nearby Abaria village and no casualties were reported. The OMI instrument on NASA's Aura satellite captured a significant SO2 plume drifting WSW a few hours after reports of the 25 August eruption (figure 51). The Darwin VAAC reported a possible ash eruption on 28 August that was drifting WNW at 3.4 km altitude for a brief period before dissipating. According to RVO, several mudflows were reported in areas between the NW and SW parts of the island after the 25 August 2018 eruption, triggered by the heavy rainfall that followed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. The OMI instrument on NASA's Aura satellite captured a significant SO2 plume drifting WSW from Manam a few hours after reports of the 25 August 2018 eruption. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Activity during September-November 2018. Satellite evidence during September 2018 confirmed the ongoing activity at the summit where a thermal anomaly was visible at Southern Crater on 7 September. On 12 September a gas plume drifted NW from the thermal anomaly at Southern crater while an incandescent lava flow was visible on the NE flank below Main Crater. (figure 52). RVO reported increased activity at Southern Crater during 20-24 September that included variable amounts of steam and gray to brown ash plumes. The Darwin VAAC reported a short-lived ash plume visible in satellite imagery on 23 September that rose to 8.5 km altitude and drifted NW. A small ash emission seen in visible imagery on 25 September rose to 2.4 km altitude and extended SE briefly before dissipating. Although partially obscured by clouds, the lava flow was still visible on the upper NE flank on 27 September (figure 52).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Satellite evidence (Sentinel-2, bands 12, 4, 2) during September 2018 at Manam confirmed the ongoing activity at the summit where a thermal anomaly was visible at Southern Crater on 7 September. On 12 September a gas plume drifted NW from Southern Crater while an incandescent flow traveled down the NE flank from Main Crater. Although partially obscured by clouds, the flow was still visible on the upper NE flank on 27 September. A nearly clear satellite image on 2 October showed incandescent lava reaching almost to the ocean in two lobes on the NE flank of the island. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub playground.

Continuous ash emissions from a new explosion were first reported based on satellite imagery by the Darwin VAAC on 30 September (UTC) at 4.3 km altitude extending SW, and also at 3.0 km altitude drifting W. The emissions at 4.3 km altitude dissipated the following day, but lower level emissions continued at 2.1 km altitude drifting NW through 3 October. On 1 October residents reported hearing continuous loud roaring, rumbling, and banging noises, and reports from Tabele on the SW side of the island indicated very bright incandescence at the summit area. The incandescence was also visible from the Bogia Government Station on the mainland. Small amounts of fine ash and scoria were reported at Jogari and surrounding villages to the N on 1 October. Field observations on 1 October confirmed the presence of a two-lobed lava flow into the NE valley. The smaller lobe traveled towards Kolang village on the N side of the valley and the larger lobe went to the S towards Boakure village. Both flows stopped before reaching inhabited areas. A nearly clear satellite image on 2 October showed the incandescent lava reaching almost to the ocean in the two lobes on the NE flank of the island (figure 52). An SO2 plume drifting SW from Manam was captured by the OMI instrument on the Aura satellite on 1 October 2018 (figure 53).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. The OMI instrument on NASA's Aura satellite captured an SO2 plume drifting SW from Manam on 1 October 2018. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

RVO reported that during 2-12 October Southern Crater produced variable amounts of brown, gray-brown and dark gray ash clouds that rose between a few hundred meters and a kilometer above the summit craters before drifting NW. The Darwin VAAC reported an ash emission to 10.4 km altitude on 5 October that extended 25 km W before dissipating within a few hours. Continuous emissions to 2.4 km altitude extending WNW began a few hours later and were intermittently visible in satellite imagery through 12 October. Incandescent lava was visible in satellite imagery on the NE flank on 12 October (figure 54). Activity decreased significantly during the rest of October and most of November 2018, with no ground reports, VAAC reports, or satellite imagery indicating thermal activity; only the MIROVA data showed low-level thermal anomalies (figure 42). A satellite image on 26 November 2018 indicated that thermal activity continued at one of the summit craters (figure 54).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. Incandescent lava was visible on the NE flank of Manam on 12 October 2018 in this Sentinel-2 satellite image (bands 12, 4, 2). A single hotspot appeared through meteoric clouds on 26 November. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during December 2018. The Darwin VAAC reported a minor ash emission on 6 December 2018 that rose to 5.2 km altitude and drifted SE for a few hours before dissipating. A much larger ash emission on 8 December was clearly observed in satellite imagery and reported by a pilot, as well as by ground and ocean-based observers. It was initially reported at 12.2 km altitude but rose to 15.2 km a few hours later, drifting E for about 10 hours before dissipating (figure 55). This was followed later in the day by an ongoing ash emission at 8.2 km altitude that drifted E before dissipating on 9 December. According to the UNHCR news organization Relief Web, the eruption started around 1300 local time on 8 December and lasted until about 1000 on 9 December. Based on reports from the ground, the eruption affected the NE part of the island. In particular, a lava flow affected Bokure (Bokuri) and Kolang (NE Manam). Communities in both localities were evacuated. The Loop PNG reported that RVO noted that the flow stopped before reaching Bokure. Ash and scoria fall was described as being moderate in downwind areas, including Warisi village on the SE side of the island. An SO2 plume was also identified by satellite instruments. Hotspots were visible from both craters on 11 December and from one of the craters on 16 December (figure 56).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. This image of an eruption at Manam on 8 December 2018 (local time) was likely taken from a Papua New Guinea government ship, and made available via Jhay Mawengu of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Sentinel-2 satellite images indicated thermal activity continuing as hotspots at the summit of Manam on 11 and 16 December 2018. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; 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); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://SO2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Scott Waide (URL: https://mylandmycountry.wordpress.com/2018/08/, Twitter: @Scott_Waide); Jhay Mawengu, Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (URL: https://www.facebook.com/mawengu.jeremy.7); Relief Web, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Resident Coordinator's Office, 380 Madison Avenue, 7th floor, New York, NY 10017-2528, USA (URL: https://reliefweb.int/); LOOP Pacific (URL: http://www.looppng.com/).


Merapi (Indonesia) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Merapi

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Dome appears at summit on 12 August 2018; grows to 447,000 m3 by late March 2019

Merapi volcano in central Java, Indonesia (figure 69), has a lengthy history of major eruptive episodes. Activity has included lava flows, pyroclastic flows, lahars, Plinian explosions with heavy ashfall, incandescent block avalanches, and dome growth and destruction. Fatalities from these events were reported in 1994, 2006, and during a major event in 2010 (BGVN 36:01) where hundreds were killed and hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated. Renewed phreatic explosions in May 2018 cancelled airline fights and generated significant SO2 plumes in the atmosphere. The volcano then remained quiet until an explosion on 11 August 2018 marked the beginning of the growth of a new lava dome. The period June 2018 through March 2019 is covered in this report with information provided primarily by Balai Penyelidikan dan Pengembangan Teknologi Kebencanaan Geologi (BPPTKG), the Center for Research and Development of Geological Disaster Technology, a branch of PVMBG, which monitors activity specifically at Merapi.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. A drone aerial photo of Merapi taken on 11 November 2018 shows the Gendol river drainage in the foreground and the upper part that is often referred to as Bebeng. Pyroclastic flows descended through this drainage in both 2006 and 2010. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.

The first sign of renewed activity at Merapi came with an explosion and the appearance of a lava dome at the summit on 12 August 2018. The growth rate of the dome fluctuated between August 2018 and January 2019, with a low rate of 1,000 m3/day in late September to a high of 6,200 m3/day in mid-October. By mid-December the dome was large enough to send block avalanches down the Kali Gendol ravine on the SSE flank. The rate of dome growth declined rapidly during January 2019, when most of the new lava moved down the ravine in numerous block avalanches. By late March 2019 the dome had reached 472,000 m3 in volume and block avalanches were occurring every few days.

After the eruptive events between 11 May and 1 June 2018, seismicity fluctuated at levels slightly above normal during June and July, with the highest levels recorded on 18 and 29 July. A VONA on 3 June reported a plume of steam that rose 800 m above the summit; for the rest of June the plume heights gradually decreased to a maximum of 400 m by the third week. During July steam plume heights varied from 30 to 350 m above the summit.

On 1 August 2018 an explosion was heard at the Babadan Post. An explosion on 11 August was heard by residents of Deles on the SE flank. Photos taken in a survey by drone the following day indicated the presence of new material in the middle of the 2010 dome fracture (figure 70). The presence of a new lava dome was confirmed with a site visit on 18 August 2018. The dome was 55 m long and 25 m wide, and about 5 m below the 2010 dome surface (figure 71). As of 23 August, the volume of the dome was 23,000 m3, growing at an average rate of 2,700 m3/day. By the end of the month the volume was estimated to be 54,000 m3 with a growth rate of 4,000 m3/day (figure 72). Throughout the month, persistent steam plumes rose 50-200 m above the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. The first sign of new dome growth at Merapi appeared in this drone photo taken on 12 August 2018. Courtesy of BPPTKG (Siaran Pers 18 Agustus 2018 Pukul 17:00 WIB, Press Release 18 August 2018, 1700 local time).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. The new dome at the summit of Merapi on 18 August 2018. Courtesy of BPPTKG (Siaran Pers 18 Agustus 2018 Pukul 17:00 WIB, Press Release 18 August 2018, 1700 local time).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. A comparison of the dome on 18 (top) and 28 (bottom) August 2018 at Merapi taken from the Puncak webcam on the N flank. By the end of August 2018, the dome size was about 54,000 m3. Courtesy of BPPTKG (posted via Twitter on 27 August 2018).

During September-November 2018 the summit dome grew at varying rates from 1,000 to 6,200 m3/day (table 22). At the beginning of September its volume was 54,000 m3; it had reached 329,000 m3 by the end of November (figure 73). Steam plumes in September rose from 100 to 450 m above the summit. They were lower in October, rising only 50-100 m high. During November they rose 100 to400 m above the summit. Intermittent seismic activity remained above background levels. By mid-November, the growth of the dome was clearly visible from the ground 4.5 km S of the summit (figure 74).

Table 22. The volume and growth rate of the lava dome at Merapi was measured weekly from late August 2018 through January 2019. Data courtesy of BPPTKG Merapi weekly reports.

Date Size (m3) Rate (m3 / day)
23 Aug 2018 23,000 2,700
30 Aug 2018 54,000 4,000
06 Sep 2018 82,000 3,900
13 Sep 2018 103,000 3,000
20 Sep 2018 122,000 3,000
27 Sep 2018 129,000 1,000
04 Oct 2018 135,000 1,000
11 Oct 2018 160,000 3,100
18 Oct 2018 201,000 6,200
21 Oct 2018 219,000 6,100
31 Oct 2018 248,000 2,900
07 Nov 2018 273,000 3,500
14 Nov 2018 290,000 2,400
21 Nov 2018 308,000 2,600
29 Nov 2018 329,000 2,500
06 Dec 2018 344,000 2,200
13 Dec 2018 359,000 2,200
19 Dec 2018 370,000 2,000
27 Dec 2018 389,000 2,300
03 Jan 2019 415,000 3,800
10 Jan 2019 439,000 3,400
16 Jan 2019 453,000 2,300
22 Jan 2019 461,000 1,300
29 Jan 2019 461,000 --
07 Feb 2019 461,000 --
14 Feb 2019 461,000 --
21 Feb 2019 466,000 --
05 Mar 2019 470,000 --
21 Mar 2019 472,000 --
Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Images from September-November 2018 show the growth of the lava dome at the summit of Merapi. In each pair the left image is from the Deles webcam, and the right image is from the Puncak webcam on the same date. Top: 26 September 2018, left growth lines show change from 8 to 27 September, from 18 to 26 September on right; Middle: 22 October 2018, both sets of growth lines are from 13 September to 22 October; Bottom: 22 November 2018, left growth lines are from mid-September to 21 November and right growth lines are 15 and 22 November. In each Puncak image the red outline at the center is the dome outline on 18 August 2018. Courtesy of BPPTKG, from weekly reports of Merapi activity, 21-27 September, 19-25 October, and 16-22 November 2018.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. A comparison of the crater area of Merapi on 2 June 2018 (left) and 11 November 2018 (right). The new dome is clearly visible in the later photo. The images were taken about 4.5 km S of the summit. Persistent gas emissions rose from both the new dome and around the summit crater. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.

The lava dome continued to grow during December 2018, producing steam plumes that rose 50-200 m. As the height of the dome increased, block avalanches began descending into the upper reaches of Kali Gendol ravine on the SSE flank. Avalanches on 16 and 19 December reached 300 m down the drainage; on 21 December a larger avalanche lasted for 129 seconds and traveled 1 km based on the duration of the seismic data (figure 75). By the end of December BPPTKG measured the volume of the dome as 389,000 m3.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Steam and gas from a recent block avalanche rose from the edge of the new dome at Merapi on 21 December 2018 (top). By the end of December BPPTKG measured the volume of the dome as 389,000 m3. Top image from BPPTKG press release of 21 December 2018; bottom images from the weekly Merapi Mountain activities report of 21-27 December. Courtesy of BPPTKG.

The rate of dome growth declined steadily during January 2019, and by the third week most of the lava extrusion was collapsing as block avalanches into the upper part of Kali Gendol, and dome growth had slowed. Steam plumes rose 50-450 m during the month. In spite of slowing growth, a comparison of the dome size between 11 November 2018 and 13 January 2019 indicated an increase in volume of over 150,000 m3 of material (figure 76). Incandescence at the dome and in the block avalanches was visible at night when the summit was clear (figures 77 and 78). Three block avalanches occurred during the evening of 29 January; the first traveled 1.4 km, the second 1.35 km, and the third 1.1 km down the ravine; each one lasted for about two minutes. By the end of January the size of the dome was reported by BPPTKG to be about 461,000 m3.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. A comparison of the dome growth at Merapi from 11 November 2018 to 13 January 2019 showed an increase in volume of over 150,000 m3 according to Indonesian authorities (BPPTKG), as well as the accumulation of debris as material fell down the ravine. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Incandescence appeared at the growing dome at the summit of Merapi late on 13 January 2019. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Incandescent blocks from the growing dome at Merapi traveled several hundred meters down Kali Gendol on 14 January 2019. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.

Numerous block avalanches were observed during February 2019 as almost all of the lava extrusion was moving down the slope. Multiple avalanches were reported on 7, 11, 18, 25, and 27 February, with traveling distances ranging from 200 to 2,000 m. Steam plumes did not rise more than 375 m during the month. By the end of February, the dome had only grown slightly to 466,000 m3. Seventeen block avalanches were reported during March 2019; they traveled distances ranging from 500 to 1,900 m down the Kali Gendol ravine. A drone measurement on 5 March determined the volume of the dome to be 470,000 m3; it was only 2,000 m3 larger when measured again on 21 March.

Geologic Background. Merapi, one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, lies in one of the world's most densely populated areas and dominates the landscape immediately north of the major city of Yogyakarta. It is the youngest and southernmost of a volcanic chain extending NNW to Ungaran volcano. Growth of Old Merapi during the Pleistocene ended with major edifice collapse perhaps about 2000 years ago, leaving a large arcuate scarp cutting the eroded older Batulawang volcano. Subsequently growth of the steep-sided Young Merapi edifice, its upper part unvegetated due to frequent eruptive activity, began SW of the earlier collapse scarp. Pyroclastic flows and lahars accompanying growth and collapse of the steep-sided active summit lava dome have devastated cultivated lands on the western-to-southern flanks and caused many fatalities during historical time.

Information Contacts: Balai Penyelidikan dan Pengembangan Teknologi Kebencanaan Geologi (BPPTKG), Center for Research and Development of Geological Disaster Technology (URL: http://merapi.bgl.esdm.go.id/, Twitter: @BPPTKG); 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/); Øystein Lund Andersen (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: https://www.oysteinlundandersen.com/).


Bagana (Papua New Guinea) — February 2019 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)


Intermittent ash plumes; thermal anomalies continue through January 2019

The relatively remote Bagana volcano, located on Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea, is poorly monitored and most of the available data is obtained by satellites (figure 30). The most recent eruptive phase began on or before early 2000 with intermittent ash plumes and detected thermal anomalies (BGVN 41:04, 41:07, 42:08, 43:05). The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) monitors satellite imagery for ash plumes that could impact aviation.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Sentinel-2 satellite image (natural color, bands 4, 3, 2) of Bagana on 28 May 2018. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Cloud cover obscured the volcano during much of the reporting period, but significant ash plumes were identified five times by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), in May, July, and December 2018 (table 6). Infrared satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 frequently showed thermal anomalies, both at the summit and caused by hot material moving down the flanks (figure 31).

Table 6. Summary of ash plumes from Bagana reported during May 2018 through January 2019. Courtesy of the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC).

Date Max Plume Altitude (km) Plume Drift
08 May 2018 2.1 W
11 May 2018 2.1 SW
22 Jul 2018 2.4 W
29-30 Jul 2018 1.8-2.1 SW
01 Dec 2018 3-6.1 SE
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Infrared satellite images from Sentinel-2 (atmospheric penetration, bands 12, 11, 8A) showing hot areas at the summit and on the flanks on 7 July (top left), 31 August (top right), 14 November (bottom left) and 14 December (bottom right) 2018. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) volcano hotspot detection system, recorded a large number of thermal alerts within 5 km of the summit throughout this reporting period (figure 32). Thermal alerts increased in number and intensity beginning mid-July 2018. This pattern is also consistent with the MODVOLC data (also based on MODIS satellite data). A total of 76 thermal anomaly pixels were recorded during the reporting period; of these, greater than 40 pixels were observed during July 2018 alone with 13 pixels reported in December 2018 (figure 33).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Thermal anomalies identified at Bagana by the MIROVA system (log radiative power) for the year ending 8 February 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Small sulfur dioxide (SO2) anomalies were detected by the AuraOMI instrument during this period, the highest being in the range of 1.5-1.8 Dobson Units (DU). Emissions in this range occurred during July 7, 21, and 28 July, and 3-5 and 19 December 2018.

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

Information Contacts: Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA, a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) – MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).


Fuego (Guatemala) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Fuego

Guatemala

14.473°N, 90.88°W; summit elev. 3763 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent explosive activity with ash plumes, avalanches, lava flows, and lahars from July 2018 through March 2019

Fuego is one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes, regularly producing ash plumes and incandescent ballistic ejecta, along with lava flows, avalanches, pyroclastic flows, and lahars down the ravines (barrancas) and rivers (figure 104). Frequent ash plumes have been recorded in recent years (figure 105). A major eruptive event occurred on 3-5 June that resulted in fatalities. Thermal data show an increase in activity from November 2018, that continued through the reporting period (figure 106). This report summarizes activity from July 2018 through March 2019 based on reports by Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH) and the National Office of Disaster Management (CONRED), Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), satellite data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. Map of Fuego showing the ravines, rivers, and communities. Map created in 2005 (see BGVN 30:08).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Ash plume altitudes from 1999 through 2019 for Fuego as reported by the Washington VAAC. The gray vertical lines represent paroxysmal eruptions. Courtesy of Rudiger Escobar Wolf, Michigan Technological University.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Log radiative power MIROVA plot of MODIS infrared data at Fuego for the year ending April 2019 showing increased activity since November 2018. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Gas emissions and avalanches characterized activity in early July 2018; an increase was reported on the 4th. Avalanches descended through the Cenizas, Las Lajas, and Santa Teresa ravines on the 6th. One explosion every two hours on 8 July produced ash plumes up to 4.3 km altitude (500 m above the crater) that dispersed towards the SW. Avalanches down the flanks accompanied this activity. On 10 July ash plumes rose to 4.2 and 5 km altitude dispersing to the SW, and ashfall was reported in Morelia and Panimache (figure 107). Avalanches continued on the 19-20 and 23-24 July and weak explosions on the 23-24 produced low ash plumes that dispersed to the N. Hot lahars containing blocks 2-3 m in diameter and tree trunks and branches were generated in the Taniluyá, Ceniza, El Jute, and Las Lajas ravines on 30 and 31 July, and 2 and 9 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. A moderate explosion produced an ash plume at Fuego on 10 July 2018. Photo courtesy of CONRED.

During August and September, weak to moderate explosions produced ash plumes that rose to 4.7 km altitude and incandescent material was ejected to 150 m above the crater, producing avalanches down the ravines. Additional hot lahars carrying boulders and tree branches occurred on 29 August-2 September and 21-27 September down the Honda (E), El Jute (SE), Las Lajas (SE), Cenizas (SSW), Taniluyá (SW), Seca (W), Santa Teresa (W), Niagara (W), Mineral, and Pantaleón (W) drainages.

An increase in activity occurred on 29 September with degassing pulses lasting 3-4 hours recorded and heard. Avalanches occurred on the flanks and weak-moderate explosions occurred at a rate of 10-15 per hour with ash plumes rising up to 4.7 km. Hot lahars traveled down the Seca, Santa Teresa, and Mineral ravines, transporting blocks up to 3 m in diameter along with tree trunks and branches. Similar lahars were generated in the Las Lajas ravine on 5, 8, and 9 October (figure 108). The lahars were hot and smelled of sulfur, and they carried blocks 1-3 m in diameter.

On 12 October activity increased and produced incandescent ejecta up to 100-200 m above the crater and out to 300 m away from the crater, avalanches in the ravines, and a lava flow with a length of 800-1,000 m, that had reached 1,500 m by the 13th. Ash plumes reached 4.8 km altitude and dispersed up to 12 km towards the S and SE. Explosions occurred at a rate of 8-10 per hour with shockwaves that were reported near the volcano. At 1640 a pyroclastic flow was generated down the Seca ravine (figure 109). Similar activity continued through the 13th, with ash plumes reaching 5 km and ashfall reported in communities including Panimache I, Morelia, Santa Sofia, Sangre de Cristo, El Porvenir, and Palo Verde Estate. This episode of increased activity continued for 32 hours. Lahars traveled down the Ceniza and Seca ravines, the Achiguate River, and the Mineral and Taniluyá ravines (both tributaries of the Pantaleón river). A 30-m-wide lahar with a depth of 2 m was reported on 16 October that carried blocks up to 2 m in diameter, tree trunks, and branches. More lahars descended the Las Lajas ravine on the 17-18, and 20 October. Explosions continued through to the end of October, with increased activity on 31 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. Seismograms and RSAM (Real-time Seismic Amplitude Measurement) graphs of activity at Fuego showing a change in signal indicative of lahars in the Las Lajas ravine on 8 and 9 October 2018 (red boxes and arrows). The change in seismic signal correlates with an increase in RSAM values. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. A pyroclastic flow at Fuego traveling down the Seca ravine on 12 October 2018. Courtesy of CONRED.

Frequent activity continued into November with elevated activity reported on the 2 and 4-6 November. On 6 November ash plumes rose to 4.8 km altitude and traveled 20 km W and SW resulted in ashfall on communities including Panimache, El Porvenir, Morelia, Santa Sofia, Sangre de Cristo, Palo Verde Estate, and San Pedro Yepocapa. Constant explosions ejected incandescent material to 300 m above the crater. A lava flow 1-1.2 km long observed in the Ceniza ravine generated avalanches from the front of the flow, which continued through the 9th.

Activity increased again on 17 November, initiating the fifth eruptive phase of 2018. There were 10-15 explosions recorded per hour along with ash plumes up to 4.7 km that dispersed 10-15 km to the W and SW. Incandescent material was ejected up to 200-300 m above the crater, and avalanches were generated. A new lava flow reached 800 m down the Ceniza ravine. Ashfall was reported in Panimaché I, Morelia, Santa Sofia, El Porvenir, Sangre de Cristo, Palo Verde Estate, Yepocapa, and other communities.

The elevated activity continued through 18 November with 12-17 explosions per hour and a constant ash plume to 5 km altitude, dispersing to the W and SW for 20-25 km. Moderate avalanches traveled down the Ceniza, Taniluyá, and Seca ravines out to the vegetation line. Incandescent blocks were ejected up to 400 m above the crater. Ashfall was reported in communities including Panimaché I, Morelia, Santa Sofia, Sangre de Cristo, and Palo Verde Estate. Avalanches from the front of the lava flow traveled down the Taniluyá and Seca ravines.

Ash plumes rose to 7 km altitude on the 19th and dispersed 50-60 km towards the W, SW, and NE (figure 110). Incandescent ballistic ejecta reached 1 km above the crater and scattered to over 1 km from the crater (figure 111), with the explosions shaking houses over 15 km away to the W and SW, and avalanches moved down the Seca, Ceniza, Taniluyá, Las Lajas, and Honda ravines reaching the vegetation. Two new lava flows formed, extending to 300 m down the Seca and Santa Teresa ravines. Pyroclastic flows traveled down the Seca, Las Lajas, and Honda ravines. Ashfall due to the generation of pyroclastic flows was reported in Panimaché I and II, Santa Sofía, Sangre de Cristo, Palo Verde Estate, and in Alotenango and Antigua, Guatemala, to the NE. CONRED reported the evacuation of 3,925 people. INSIVUMEH reported that the eruption phase was over at 1800 on 19 November after 32 hours of increased activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. Eruption at Fuego on 19 November 2018 producing ash plumes and incandescent ejecta. Courtesy of European Pressphoto Agency via BBC News.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. Explosions at Fuego on 19 November 2018 generated ash plumes to 5.2 km altitude, incandescent blocks up to 1 km above the crater, and avalanches. Courtesy of CONRED.

Explosions continued through 20 November at a rate of 8-13 per hour, ejecting incandescent material up to 200 m above the crater and ash plumes to at least 4.6 km that drifted 20-25 km NW, W, and SW. Avalanches continued with some reaching the vegetation. Ashfall was reported in communities including Panimaché, El Porvenir, Morelia, Santa Sofia, Sangre de Cristo, Palo Verde Estate, and San Pedro Yepocapa.

Similar activity continued through to the end of November with explosions producing shockwaves felt out to 25 km; some explosions were heard in Guatemala City, 40 km ENE. Ash plumes rose to 5 km (figures 112 and 113) and dispersed 20 km W, S, and SW, and ash fell in communities including Panimaché, El Porvenir, Morelia, Santa Sofia, Sangre de Cristo, Palo Verde Estate, San Pedro Yepocapa, Alotenango, and San Miguel Dueñas. Explosions were recorded 10 to 18 per hour. Incandescent ejecta rose to 200 m above the crater and resulted in avalanches in the Las Lajas, Ceniza, El jute, Honda, Taniluyá, Trinidad, and Seca ravines with some reaching the vegetation line. Some avalanches entrained large blocks up to 3 m in diameter that produced ash plumes as they traveled down the ravines. Hot lahars were generated in the Seca, Santa Maria, and Mineral ravines, carrying blocks up to 3 m in diameter (figure 114).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. Explosions at Fuego generated ash plumes and caused avalanches in the Las Lajas, Trinidad, and Ceniza ravines on 22 November 2018. Courtesy of CONRED.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 113. Ash plume up to 5.5 km altitude at Fuego on 28 November 2018. Courtesy of CONRED.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 114. A lahar from Fuego traveling down the Mineral River in November 2018. Courtesy of CONRED.

During December white to light gray fumarolic plumes rose to a maximum height of 4.5 km. Ash plumes reached up to 5.2 km and dispersed to a maximum of 25 km S, SW, and W. There were 3-15 explosions recorded per hour with shockwaves, incandescent ejecta reaching 300 m above the crater, and avalanches down the Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, and Honda ravines. Ashfall was reported in communities including Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Santa Sofia, El Porvenir, Palo Verde Estate, Sangre de Cristo, Yepocapa, La Rochela, San Andrés Osuna, Ceylon, Alotenango, and San Pedro.

Similar activity continued through January 2019 with fumarolic plumes rising to a maximum of 4.4 km altitude, ash plumes reaching 4.8 km and dispersing over 15 km to the NE, WSW, and NW; 3-25 explosions per hour sent shockwaves and avalanches in multiple directions. Ashfall was reported in Panimaché, Morelia, Santa Sofia, Sangre de Cristo, Palo Verde Estate, and San Pedro Yepocapa. Also in Alotenango, La Reunion, and El Porvenir, Alotenango.

An increase in activity began on 21 January with moderate to strong explosions producing ash plumes up to 5 km altitude that dispersed 12 km W and SW. The explosions were heard over 15 km away and shook windows and roofs out to 12 km away. Avalanches were triggered in multiple ravines. On 22 January there were 15-25 recorded explosions per hour, each lasting 2-3 minutes and producing ash plumes to 4.8 km and incandescent ejecta up to 300 m above the crater (figure 115).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 115. An ash plume rising during an explosive event at Fuego on 22 January 2019. Courtesy of CONRED.

Frequent explosions continued during February through to late-March, with a range of 8-18 per hour, producing ash plumes rising to 4.8 km (figure 116), and dispersing out to 15 km in multiple directions. Incandescent ejecta rose to 350 m above the crater and resulted in avalanches down multiple ravines. Ashfall was reported in communities including El Rodeo, El Zapote, Ceylon, La Roche-la, Panimache, Morelia, Santa Sofia, Sangre de Cristo, San Miguel Dueñas, Ciudad Vieja, and Alotenango, Verde Estate, San Pedro Yepocapa, La Rochelle, and San Andrés Osuna.

On 22 March there was an increase in the number and energy of explosions with 15-20 per hour. Accompanying ash plumes rose to 5 km altitude and dispersed 25-30 km S, W, SW, E, and SE, depositing ash in La Rochela, Ceylon, Osuna, Las Palmas, Siquinalá, and Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa. Explosions were heard over 20 km from the volcano. Incandescent ejecta rose to 300 m above the crater and moderate to strong avalanches flowed down the Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas and Honda ravines. Explosions increased to 14-32 events per hour by 31 March, continuing to produce ash plumes up to 5 km and depositing ash on nearby communities and causing avalanches down the flanks. A new lava flow reached 800 m down the Seca ravine.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 116. Examples of small ash plumes at Fuego on 21 February and 12 March 2019. Courtesy of William Chigna, CONRED (top) and CONRED (bottom).

Geologic Background. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3763-m-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the north, Acatenango. Construction of Meseta dates back to about 230,000 years and continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Collapse of Meseta may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km onto the Pacific coastal plain. Growth of the modern Fuego volcano followed, continuing the southward migration of volcanism that began at Acatenango. In contrast to the mostly andesitic Acatenango, eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), Av. Hincapié 21-72, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://conred.gob.gt/www/index.php); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Rudiger Escobar Wolf, Michigan Technologicla University, 630 Dow Environmental Sciences, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931, USA (URL: https://www.mtu.edu/geo/department/staff/wolf.html); William Chigna, CONRED (URL: https://twitter.com/william_chigna); BBC News (URL: https://www.bbc.com; https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-46261168?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/c4n0j0d82l0t/guatemala-volcano&link_location=live-reporting-story); European Pressphoto Agency (URL: http://www.epa.eu/); Agence France-Presse (URL: http://www.afp.com/).


Stromboli (Italy) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Constant explosions from both crater areas during November 2018-February 2019

Nearly constant fountains of lava at Stromboli have served as a natural beacon in the Tyrrhenian Sea for at least 2,000 years. Eruptive activity at the summit consistently occurs from multiple vents at both a north crater area (N Area) and a southern crater group (CS Area) on the Terrazza Craterica at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a large scarp that runs from the summit down the NW side of the island. Thermal and visual cameras that monitor activity at the vents are located on the nearby Pizzo Sopra La Fossa, above the Terrazza Craterica, and at a location closer to the summit craters.

Eruptive activity from November 2018 to February 2019 was consistent in terms of explosion intensities and rates from both crater areas at the summit, and similar to activity of the past few years (table 5). In the North Crater area, both vents N1 and N2 emitted a mixture of coarse (lapilli and bombs) and fine (ash) ejecta; most explosions rose less than 80 m above the vents, some reached 150 m. Average explosion rates ranged from 4 to 21 per hour. In the CS crater area continuous degassing and occasional intense spattering were typical at vent C, vent S1 was a low-intensity incandescent jet throughout the period. Explosions from vent S2 produced 80-150 m high ejecta of ash, lapilli and bombs at average rates of 3-16 per hour. Thermal activity at Stromboli was actually higher during November 2018-February 2019 than it had been in previous months as recorded in the MIROVA Log Radiative Power data from MODIS infrared satellite information (figure 139).

Table 5. Summary of activity levels at Stromboli, November 2018-February 2019. Low intensity activity indicates ejecta rising less than 80 m and medium intensity is ejecta rising less than 150 m. Data courtesy of INGV.

Month N Area Activity CS Area Activity
Nov 2018 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2, lapilli and bombs mixed with ash, explosion rates of 6-16 per hour. Continuous degassing at C; intense spattering on 26 Nov. Low- to medium-intensity incandescent jetting at S1. Low- to medium-intensity explosions at S2 with a mix of coarse and fine ejecta and explosion rates of 3-18 per hour.
Dec 2018 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2, coarse and fine ejecta, explosion rates of 4-21 per hour. Three days of intense spattering at N2. Continuous degassing at C; intense spattering 1-2 Dec. Low- to medium-intensity incandescent jets at S1, low and medium-intensity explosions of coarse and fine material at S2. Average explosion raters were 10-18 per hour at the beginning of the month, 3-4 per hour during last week.
Jan 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at N1, coarse ejecta. Low- to medium-intensity and spattering at N2, coarse and fine ejecta. Explosion rates of 9-16 per hour. Continuous degassing and low-intensity explosions of coarse ejecta at C. Low-intensity incandescent jets at S1. Low- and medium-intensity explosions of coarse and fine ejecta at S2.
Feb 2019 Medium-intensity explosions with coarse ejecta at N1. Low-intensity explosions with fine ash at N2. Explosion rates of 4-11 per hour. Continuous degassing and low-intensity explosions with coarse and fine ejecta at C and S2. Low intensity incandescent jets at S1. Explosion rates of 2-13 per hour.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 139.Thermal activity at Stromboli increased during November 2018-February 2019 compared with the preceding several months as recorded in the MIROVA project log radiative power data taken from MODIS thermal satellite information. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity at the N area was very consistent during November 2018 (figure 140). Explosions of low-intensity (less than 80 m high) to medium-intensity (less than 150 m high) occurred at both the N1 and N2 vents and produced coarse material (lapilli and bombs) mixed with ash, at rates averaging 6-16 explosions per hour. In the SC area continuous degassing was reported from vent C with a brief period of intense spattering on 26 November. At vent S1 low- to medium-intensity incandescent jetting was reported. At vent S2, low- and medium-intensity explosive activity produced a mixture of coarse and fine (ash) material at a frequency of 3-18 events per hour.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 140. The Terrazza Craterica at Stromboli on 12 November 2018 as viewed by the thermal camera placed on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa, showing the two main crater areas and the active vents within each area that are discussed in the text. Heights above the crater terrace, as indicators of intensity of the explosions, are shown divided into three intervals of low (basso), medium (media), and high (alta). Courtesy of INGV (Report 46/2018, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale 05/11/2018 - 11/11/2018, data emissione 13/11/2018).

Similar activity continued during December at both crater areas, although there were brief periods of more intense activity. Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N area vents produced a mixture of coarse and fine-grained material at rates averaging 4-21 per hour. During 6-7 December ejecta from the N vents fell onto the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco and rolled down the gullies to the coast, producing tongues of debris (figure 141). An explosion at N1 on 12 December produced a change in the structure of the crater area. During 10-16 December the ejecta from the N area landed outside the crater on the Sciara del Fuoco. Intense spattering was observed from N2 on 18, 22, and 31 December. In the CS area, continuous degassing took place at vent C, along with a brief period of intense spattering on 1-2 December. Low to medium intensity incandescent jets persisted at S1 along with low-and medium-intensity explosions of coarse and fine-grained material at vent S2. Rates of explosion at the CS area were higher at the beginning of December (10-18 per hour) and lower during the last week of the month (3-4 per hour).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 141. Images from the Q 400 thermal camera at Stromboli taken on 6 December 2018 showed the accumulation of pyroclastic material in several gullies on the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco following an explosion at vent N2 at 1520 UTC. The images illustrate the rapid cooling of the pyroclastic material in the subsequent two hours. Courtesy of INGV (Report 50/2018, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 03/12/2018 - 09/12/2018, data emissione 11/12/2018).

Explosive intensity was low (ejecta less than 80 m high) at vent N1 at the beginning of January 2019 and increased to medium (ejecta less than 150 m high) during the second half of the month, producing coarse ejecta of lapilli and bombs. Intensity at vent N2 was low to medium throughout the month with both coarse- and fine-grained material ejected. Explosions from N2 sent large blocks onto the Sciara del Fuoco several times throughout the month and usually was accompanied by intense spattering. Explosion rates varied, with averages of 9 to 16 per hour, throughout the month in the N area. In the CS area continuous degassing occurred at vent C, and low-intensity explosions of coarse-grained material were reported during the second half of the month. Low-intensity incandescent jets at S1 along with low- and medium-intensity explosions of coarse and fine-grained material at S2 persisted throughout the month.

A helicopter overflight of Stromboli on 8 January 2019 allowed for detailed visual and thermal observations of activity and of the morphology of the vents at the summit (figure 142). Vent C had two small hornitos, and a small scoria cone was present in vent S1, while a larger crater was apparent at S2. In the N crater area vent N2 had a large scoria cone that faced the Sciara del Fuoco to the north; three narrow gullies were visible at the base of the cone (figure 143). Vent S1 was a large crater containing three small vents aligned in a NW-SE trend; INGV scientists concluded the vents formed as a result of the 12 December 2018 explosion. Thermal images showed relatively low temperatures at all fumaroles compared with earlier visits.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 142. Thermal images from Stromboli taken during the overflight of 8 January 2019 showed the morphological structure of the individual vents of the N and CS crater areas. Courtesy of INGV (Report 03/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 07/01/2019 - 13/01/2019, (data emissione 15/01/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 143. An image taken at Stromboli during the overflight of 8 January 2019 shows the morphological structure of the summit Terrazza Craterica with three gullies at the base of the scoria cone of vent N2. The top thermal image (inset a) shows that the fumaroles in the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco have low temperatures. Courtesy of INGV (Report 03/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 07/01/2019 - 13/01/2019, data emissione 15/01/2019).

Activity during February 2019 declined slightly from the previous few months. Explosions at vent N1 were of medium-intensity and produced coarse material (lapilli and bombs). At N2, low-intensity explosions produced fine ash. Average explosion rates in the N area ranged from 4-11 per hour. At the CS area, continuous degassing and low-intensity explosions produced coarse and fine-grained material from vents C and S2 while low-intensity incandescent jets were active at S1. The explosion rates at the CS area averaged 2-13 per hour.

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

Information Contacts: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy, (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/en/); 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/).


Krakatau (Indonesia) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes, ballistic ejecta, and lava extrusion during October-December; partial collapse and tsunami in late December; Surtseyan activity in December-January 2019

Krakatau volcano, between Java in Sumatra in the Sunda Straight of Indonesia, is known for its catastrophic collapse in 1883 that produce far-reaching pyroclastic flows, ashfall, and tsunami. The pre-1883 edifice had grown within an even older collapse caldera that formed around 535 CE, resulting in a 7-km-wide caldera and the three surrounding islands of Verlaten, Lang, and Rakata (figure 55). Eruptions that began in late December 1927 (figures 56 and 57) built the Anak Krakatau cone above sea level (Sudradjat, 1982; Simkin and Fiske, 1983). Frequent smaller eruptions since that time, over 40 short episodes consisting of ash plumes, incandescent blocks and bombs, and lava flows, constructed an island reaching 338 m elevation.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. The three islands of Verlaten, Lang, and Rakata formed during a collapse event around 535 CE. Another collapse event occurred in 1883, producing widespread ashfall, pyroclastic flows, and triggering a tsunami. Through many smaller eruptions since then, Anak Krakatau has since grown in the center of the caldera. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) satellite image acquired on 16 November 2018, courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Photo sequence (made from a film) at 6-second intervals from the early phase of activity on 24 January 1928 that built the active Anak Krakatau cone above the ocean surface. Plume height reached about 1 km. View is from about 4.5 km away at a beach on Verlaten Island looking SE towards Rakata Island in the right background. Photos by Charles E. Stehn (Netherlands Indies Volcanological Survey) from the E.G. Zies Collection, Smithsonian Institution.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Submarine explosions in January 1928 built the active Anak Krakatau cone above the ocean surface. View is from about 600 m away looking E towards Lang Island in the background. Photos by Charles E. Stehn (Netherlands Indies Volcanological Survey) from the E.G. Zies Collection, Smithsonian Institution.

Historically there has been a lot of confusion about the name and preferred spelling of this volcano. Some have incorrectly made a distinction between the pre-1883 edifice being called "Krakatoa" and then using "Krakatau" for the current volcano. Anak Krakatau is the name of the active cone, but the overall volcano name is simply Krakatau. Simkin and Fiske (1983) explained as follows: "Krakatau was the accepted spelling for the volcano in 1883 and remains the accepted spelling in modern Indonesia. In the original manuscript copy submitted to the printers of the 1888 Royal Society Report, now in the archives of the Royal Society, this spelling has been systematically changed by a neat red line through the final 'au' and the replacement 'oa' entered above; a late policy change that, from some of the archived correspondence, saddened several contributors to the volume."

After 15 months of quiescence Krakatau began a new eruption phase on 21 June 2018, characterized by ash plumes, ballistic ejecta, Strombolian activity, and lava flows. Ash plumes reached 4.9 km and a lava flow traveled down the SE flank and entered the ocean. This report summarizes the activity from October 2018 to January 2019 based on reports by Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), also known as the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), MAGMA Indonesia, the National Board for Disaster Management - Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), satellite data, and eye witness accounts.

Activity during October-21 December 2018. The eruption continued to eject incandescent ballistic ejecta, ash plumes, and lava flows in October through December 2018. On 22 December a partial collapse of Anak Krakatau began, dramatically changing the morphology of the island and triggering a deadly tsunami that impacted coastlines around the Sunda Straight. Following the collapse the vent was located below sea level and Surtseyan activity produced steam plumes, ash plumes, and volcanic lightning.

Sentinel-2 satellite images acquired through October show incandescence in the crater, lava flows on the SW flank, and incandescent material to the S to SE of the crater (figure 58). This correlates with eyewitness accounts of explosions ejecting incandescent ballistic ejecta, and Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) ash plume reports. The Darwin VAAC reported ash plumes to 1.5-2.4 km altitude that drifted in multiple directions during 17-19 October, but throughout most of October visual observations were limited due to fog. A video shared by Sutopo on 24 October shows ash emission and lava fountaining producing a lava flow that entered the ocean, resulting in a white plume. Video by Richard Roscoe of Photovolcanica shows explosions ejecting incandescent blocks onto the flanks and ash plumes accompanied by volcanic lightning on 25 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing lava flows, incandescent avalanche deposits, and incandescence in the crater of Anak Krakatau during October 2018. Courtesy of Sentinel-2 hub playground.

Throughout November frequent ash plumes rose to 0.3-1.3 km altitude, with explosion durations spanning 29-212 seconds (figure 59). Observations by Øystein Lund Andersen describe explosions ejecting incandescent material with ash plumes and some associated lightning on 17 November (figure 60).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Sentinel-2 satellite images showing ash plumes at Krakatau during 6-16 November 2018. Natural color (Bands 4, 3, 2) Sentinel-2 images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Krakatau erupting an ash plume and incandescent material on 17 November 2018. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.

During 1-21 December intermittent explosions lasting 46-776 seconds produced ash plumes that rose up to 1 km altitude. Thermal signatures were sporadically detected by various satellite thermal infrared sensors during this time. On 22 December ash plumes reached 0.3-1.5 km through the day and continuous tremor was recorded.

Activity and events during 22-28 December 2018. The following events during the evening of the 22nd were recorded by Øystein Lund Andersen, who was photographing the eruption from the Anyer-Carita area in Java, approximately 47 km from Anak Krakatau. Starting at 1429 local time, incandescence and ash plumes were observed and the eruption could be heard as intermittent 'cannon-fire' sounds, sometimes shaking walls and windows. An increase in intensity was noted at around 1700, when the ash column increased in height and was accompanied by volcanic lightning, and eruption sounds became more frequent (figure 61). A white steam plume began to rise from the shore of the southern flank. After sunset incandescent ballistic blocks were observed impacting the flanks, with activity intensity peaking around 1830 with louder eruption sounds and a higher steam plume from the ocean (figure 62).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. Ash plumes at Krakatau from 1429 to 1739 on 22 December 2018. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. Krakatau ejecting incandescent blocks and ash during 1823-1859 on 22 December 2018. The top and middle images show the steam plume at the shore of the southern flank. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.

PVMBG recorded an eruption at 2103. When viewed at 2105 by Øystein Lund Andersen, a dark plume across the area blocked observations of Anak Krakatau and any incandescence (figure 63). At 2127-2128 the first tsunami wave hit the shore and traveled approximately 15 m inland (matching the BNPB determined time of 2127). At approximately 2131 the sound of the ocean ceased and was soon replaced by a rumbling sound and the second, larger tsunami wave impacted the area and traveled further inland, where it reached significant depths and caused extensive damage (figures 64 and 65). After the tsunami, eruption activity remained high and the eruption was heard again during intervals from 0300 through to early afternoon.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. Krakatau is no longer visible at 2116 on 22 December 2018, minutes before the first tsunami wave arrived at west Java. A dark ash plume takes up much of the view. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. The second tsunami wave arriving at Anyer-Carita area of Java after the Krakatau collapse. This photo was taken at 2133 on 22 December 2018, courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. Photographs showing damage caused in the Anyer-Carita area of Java by the tsunami that was triggered by the partial collapse of Krakatau. From top to bottom, these images were taken approximately 40 m, 20 m, and 20 m from the shore on 23 December 2018. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.

Observations on 23 December reveal steam-rich ash plumes and base surge traveling along the water, indicative of the shallow-water Surtseyan eruption (figure 66). Ashfall was reported on the 26th in several regions including Cilegon, Anyer, and Serang. The first radar observations of Krakatau were on 24 December and showed a significant removal of material from the island (figure 67). At 0600 on the 27th the volcanic alert level was increased from II to III (on a scale of I-IV) and a VONA with Aviation Color Code Red reported an ash plume to approximately 7 km altitude that dispersed to the NE. When Anak Krakatau was visible, Surtseyan activity and plumes were observed through the end of December. On 28 December, plumes reached 200-3000 m. At 0418 the eruption paused and the first observation of the post-collapse edifice was made. The estimated removed volume (above sea level) was 150-180 million m3, leaving a remaining volume of 40-70 million m3. The summit of the pre-collapse cone was 338 m, while the highest point post-collapse was reduced to 110 m. Hundreds of thousands of lightning strokes were detected during 22-28 December with varying intensity (figure 68).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Steam-rich plumes and underlying dark ash plumes from Surtseyan activity at Krakatau on 23 December 2018. Photos by Instagram user @didikh017 at Grand Cava Susi Air, via Sutopo.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. ALOS-2 satellite radar images showing Krakatau on 20 August 2018 and 24 December 2018. The later image shows that a large part of the cone of Anak Krakatau had collapsed. Courtesy of Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) via Sutopo.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Lightning strokes during the eruption of Krakatau within a 20 km radius of the volcano for 30 minute intervals on 23, 25, 26, and 28 December 2018. Courtesy of Chris Vagasky.

Damage resulting from the 22 December tsunami. On the 29 December the damage reported by BNPB was 1,527 heavily damaged housing units, 70 with moderate damage, 181 with light damage, 78 damaged lodging and warung units, 434 damaged boats and ships and some damage to public facilities. Damage was recorded in the five regencies of Pandenglang, Serang, South Lampung, Pesawaran and Tanggamus. A BNPB report on 14 January gave the following figures: 437 fatalities, 10 people missing, 31,943 people injured, and 16,198 people evacuated (figure 69). The eruption and tsunami resulted in damage to the surrounding islands, with scouring on the Anak-Krakatau-facing slope of Rakata and damage to vegetation on Kecil island (figure 70 and 71).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. The impacts of the tsunami that was triggered by a partial collapse of Anak Krakatau from an update given on 14 January 2019. Translations are as follows. Korban Meninggal: victims; Korban hilang: missing; Korban luka-luka: injured; Mengungsi: evacuated. The color scale from green to red along the coastline indicates the breakdown of the human impacts by area. Courtesy of BNPB.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. Damage on Rakata Island from the Krakatau tsunami. This part of the island is facing Anak Krakatau and the scoured area was estimated to be 25 m high. Photographs taken on 10 January 2019 by James Reynolds.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Damage to vegetation on Kecil island to the East of Krakatau, from the Krakatau December 2018 eruption. Photographs taken on 10 January 2019 by James Reynolds.

Activity during January 2019. Surtseyan activity continued into January 2019. Øystein Lund Andersen observed the eruption on 4-5 January. Activity on 4 January was near-continuous. The photographs show black cock's-tail jets that rose a few hundred meters before collapsing (figure 72), accompanied by white lateral base surge that spread from the vent across the ocean (figure 73), and white steam plumes that were visible from Anyer-Carita, West Java. In the evening the ash-and-steam plume was much higher (figure 74). It was also noted that older pumice had washed ashore at this location and a coating of sulfur was present along the beach and some of the water surface. Activity decreased again on the 5th (figure 75) with a VONA reporting an ash plume to 1.5 km towards the WSW. SO2 plumes were dispersed to the NE, E, and S during this time (figure 76).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. Black ash plumes and white steam plumes from the Surtseyan eruption at Krakatau on 4 January 2019. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. An expanding base surge at Krakatau on 4 January 2019 at 0911. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Ash-and-steam plumes at Krakatau at 1702-2250 on 4 January 2018. Lightning is illuminating the plume in the bottom image. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Ash plumes at Krakatau on 5 January 2019 at 0935. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions produced by Krakatau and drifting to the NE, E, and SE on 3-6 January 2018. Dates and times of the periods represented are listed at the top of each image. Courtesy of the NASA Space Goddard Flight Center.

During 5-9 January intermittent explosions lasting 20 seconds to 13 minutes produced ash plumes rising up to 1.2 km and dispersing E. From 11 to 19 January white plumes were observed up to 500 m. Observations were prevented due to fog during 20-31 January. MIROVA thermal data show elevated thermal anomalies from July through January, with a decrease in energy in November through January (figure 77). The radiative power detected in December-January was the lowest since June 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Log radiative power MIROVA plot of MODIS thermal infrared data for June 2018-January 2019. The peaks in energy correlate with observed lava flows. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Morphological changes to Anak Krakatau. Images taken before and after the collapse event show changes in the shoreline, destruction of vegetation, and removal of the cone (figure 78). A TerraSAR-X image acquired on 29 January shows that in the location where the cone and active vent was, a bay had formed, opening to the W (figure 79). These changes are also visible in Sentinel-2 satellite images, with the open bay visible through light cloud cover on 29 December (figure 80).

By 9 January a rim had formed, closing off the bay to the ocean and forming a circular crater lake. Photos by James Reynolds on 11 January show a new crater rim to the W of the vent, which was filled with water (figure 81). Steam and/or gas emissions were emanating from the surface in that area. The southern lava delta surface was covered with tephra, and part of the lava delta had been removed, leaving a smooth coastline. By the time these images were taken there was already extensive erosion of the fresh deposits around the island. Fresh material extended the coast in places and filled in bays to produce a more even shoreline.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Krakatau on 5 August 2018 (top) and on 11 January 2019 showing the edifice after the collapse event. The two drone photographs show approximately the same area. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen (top) and James Reynolds (bottom).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. TerraSAR-X radar images showing the morphological changes to Krakatau with the changes outlined in the bottom right image as follows. Red: 30 August 2018 (upper left image); blue: 29 December 2018 (upper right image); yellow: 9 January 2019 (lower left image). Part of the southern lava delta was removed and material was added to the SE and NE to N shoreline. In the 29 December image the cone has collapsed and in its place is an open bay, which had been closed by a new rim by the 9 January. Courtesy of BNPB, JAXA Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Badan Informasi Geospasial (BIG).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Sentinel-2 satellite images showing the changing morphology of Krakatau. The SW section is where the cone previously sat and collapsed in December 2018. In the upper right image the cone and southern lava delta are gone and there are changes to the coastline of the entire island. Natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) Sentinel-2 satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. Drone footage of the Krakatau crater and new crater rim taken on 11 January 2019. The island is coated in fresh tephra from the eruption and the orange is discolored water due to the eruption. The land between the crater lake and the ocean built up since the collapse and the hot deposits are still producing steam/gas. Courtesy of James Reynolds.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. An aerial view of Krakatau with the new crater on 13 January 2019. Courtesy of BNPB.

References. Simkin, T., and Fiske, R.S., 1983, Krakatau 1883: the volcanic eruption and its effects: Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC, 464 p. ISBN 0-87474-841-0.

Sudradjat (Sumartadipura), A., 1982. The morphological development of Anak Krakatau Volcano, Sunda Straight. Geologi Indonesia, 9(1):1-11.

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

Information Contacts: 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/); Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB (Twitter: @Sutopo_PN, URL: https://twitter.com/Sutopo_PN ); Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI), 1 Kitasato, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0811, Japan. (URL: http://www.gsi.go.jp/ENGLISH/index.html); Badan Informasi Geospasial (BIG), Jl. Raya Jakarta - Bogor KM. 46 Cibinong 16911, Indonesia. (URL: http://www.big.go.id/atlas-administrasi/); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); JAXA | Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, 7-44-1 Jindaiji Higashi-machi, Chofu-shi, Tokyo 182-8522 (URL: https://global.jaxa.jp/); 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); Øystein Lund Andersen (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: https://www.oysteinlundandersen.com/krakatau-volcano-witnessing-the-eruption-tsunami-22december2018/); James Reynolds, Earth Uncut TV (Twitter: @EarthUncutTV, URL: https://www.earthuncut.tv/, YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLKYsEXfI0PGXeKYL1KV7qA); Chris Vagasky, Vaisala Inc., Louisville, Colorado (URL: https://www.vaisala.com/en?type=1, Twitter: @COweatherman, URL: https://twitter.com/COweatherman).


Santa Maria (Guatemala) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Santa Maria

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Daily explosions cause steam-and-ash plumes and block avalanches, November 2018-February 2019

The dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex on the W flank of Guatemala's Santa María volcano has been growing and actively erupting since 1922. The youngest of the four vents in the complex, Caliente, has been erupting with ash explosions, pyroclastic, and lava flows for more than 40 years. A lava dome that appeared within the summit crater of Caliente in October 2016 has continued to grow, producing frequent block avalanches down the flanks. Daily explosions of steam and ash also continued during November 2018-February 2019, the period covered in this report, with information primarily from Guatemala's INSIVUMEH (Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meterologia e Hidrologia) and the Washington VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center).

Activity at Santa Maria continued with little variation from previous months during November 2018-February 2019. Plumes of steam with minor magmatic gases rose continuously from the Caliente crater 100-500 m above the summit, generally drifting SW or SE before dissipating. In addition, daily explosions with varying amounts of ash rose to altitudes of around 2.8-3.5 km and usually extended 20-30 km before dissipating. Most of the plumes drifted SW or SE; minor ashfall occurred in the adjacent hills almost daily and was reported at the fincas located within 15 km in those directions several times each month. Continued growth of the Caliente lava dome resulted in daily block avalanches descending its flanks. The MIROVA plot of thermal energy during this time shows a consistent level of heat flow with minor variations throughout the period (figure 89).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Persistent thermal activity was recorded at Santa Maria from 6 June 2018 through February 2019 as seen in the MIROVA plot of thermal energy derived from satellite thermal data. Daily explosions produced ash plumes and block avalanches that were responsible for the continued heat flow at the volcano. Courtesy of MIROVA.

During November 2018 steam plumes rose to altitudes of 2.8-3.2 km from Caliente summit, usually drifting SW, sometimes SE. Several ash-bearing explosions were reported daily, rising to 3-3.2 km altitude and also drifting SW or SE. The highest plume reported by INSIVUMEH rose to 3.4 km on 25 November and drifted SW. The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission on 9 November that rose to 4.3 km altitude and drifted W; it dissipated within a few hours about 35 km from the summit. On 11 November another plume rose to 4.9 km altitude and drifted NW. INSIVUMEH issued a special report on 2 November noting an increase in block avalanches on the S and SE flanks, many of which traveled from the crater dome to the base of the volcano. Nearly constant avalanche blocks descended the SE flank of the dome and occasionally traveled down the other flanks as well throughout the month. They reached the bottom of the cone again on 29 November. Ashfall was reported around the flanks more than once every week and at Finca Florida on 12 November. Finca San Jose reported ashfall on 11, 13, and 23 November, and Parcelamiento Monte Claro reported ashfall on 15, 24, 25, and 27 November.

Constant degassing from the Caliente dome during December 2018 formed white plumes of mostly steam that rose to 2.6-3.0 km altitude during the month. Weak explosions averaging 9-13 per day produced gray ash plumes that rose to 2.8-3.4 km altitude. The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission on 4 December that extended 25 km SW of the summit at 3.0 km altitude and dissipated quickly. Small ash plumes were visible in satellite imagery a few kilometers WNW on 8, 12, 30, and 31 December at 4.3 km altitude; they each dissipated within a few hours. Ashfall was reported in Finca Monte Claro on 1 and 4 December, and in San Marcos Palajunoj on 26 and 30 December along with Loma Linda. On 28 December ashfall on the E flank affected the communities of Las Marías, Calahuache, and El Nuevo Palmar. Block avalanches occurred daily, sending large blocks to the base of the volcano that often stirred up small plumes of ash in the vicinity (figure 90).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Activity during December 2018 at Santa Maria included constant degassing of steam plumes, weak explosions with ash plumes, and block avalanches rolling down the flanks to the base of the cone. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito (1402-03), Diciembre 2018).

Multiple explosions daily during January 2019 produced steam-and-ash plumes (figure 91). Constant degassing rising 10-500 m emerged from the SSE part of the Caliente dome, and ashfall, mainly on the W and SW rim of the cone, was a daily feature. Seismic station STG-3 detected 10-18 explosions per day that produced ash plumes, which rose to between 2.7 and 3.5 km altitude. The Washington VAAC noted a faint ash emission in satellite imagery on 1 January that was about 25 km W of the summit at 4.3 km altitude. A new emission appeared at the same altitude on 4 January about 15 km NW of the summit. A low-density emission around midday on 5 January produced an ash plume that drifted NNE at 4.6 km altitude. Ash plumes drifted W at 4.3 km altitude on 11 and 14 January for short periods of time before dissipating.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Explosions during January produced numerous steam-and-ash plumes at the Santiaguito complex of Santa Maria. A moderate explosion on 31 January 2019 produced an ash plume that rose to about 3.1 km altitude (top). A thermal image and seismograph show another moderate explosion on 18 January 2019 that also rose nearly vertically from the summit of Caliente. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe mensual de actividad Volcanica enero 2019, Volcan Santiaguito).

Ash drifted mainly towards the W, SW, and S, causing ashfall in the villages of San Marcos Palajunoj, Loma Linda, Monte Bello, El Patrocinio, La Florida, El Faro, Patzulín and a few others several times during the month. The main places where daily ashfall was reported were near the complex, in the hilly crop areas of the El Faro and San José Patzulín farms (figure 92). Blocks up to 3 m in diameter reached the base of the complex, stirring up ash plumes that settled on the immediate flanks. Juvenile material continued to appear at the summit of the dome during January; the dome had risen above the edge of the crater created by the explosions of 2016. Changes in the size and shape of the dome between 23 November 2018 and 13 January 2019 showed the addition of material on the E and SE side of the dome, as well as a new effusive flow that travelled 200-300 m down the E flank (figure 93).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. Near-daily ashfall affected the coffee plants at the El Faro and San José Patzulín farms (left) at Santiaguito during January 2019. Large avalanche blocks descending the flanks, seen here on 23 January 2018, often stirred up smaller ash plumes that settled out next to the cone. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe mensual de actividad Volcanica enero 2019, Volcan Santiaguito).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. A comparison of the growth at the Caliente dome of the Santiaguito complex at Santa Maria between 23 November 2018 (top) and 13 January 2019 (bottom) shows the emergence of juvenile material and a 200-300 m long effusive flow that has moved slowly down the E flank. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe mensual de actividad Volcanica enero 2019, Volcan Santiaguito).

Persistent steam rising 50-150 m above the crater was typical during February 2019 and accompanied weak and moderate explosions that averaged 12 per day throughout the month. White and gray ash plumes from the explosions rose to 2.8-3.3 km altitude; daily block avalanches usually reached the base of the dome (figure 94). Ashfall occurred around the complex, mainly on the W, SW, and NE flanks on a daily basis, but communities farther away were affected as well. The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume on 7 February in visible satellite imagery moving SW from the summit at 4.9 km altitude. The next day a new ash plume was located about 20 km W of the summit, dissipating rapidly, at 4.3 km altitude. Ashfall drifting SW affected Palajuno Monte Claro on 5, 9, 15, and 16 February. Ash drifting E and SE affected Calaguache, Las Marías and surrounding farms on 14 and 17 February, and fine-grained ash drifting SE was reported at finca San José on 21 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Activity at the Caliente dome of the Santiaguito complex at Santa Maria included daily ash-and-steam explosions and block avalanches descending the sides of the dome in February 2019. A typical explosion on 2 February 2019 produced an ash plume that rose to about 3 km altitude and drifted SW (left). A block avalanche on 14 February descended the SE flank and stirred up small plumes of ash in the vicinity (right, top); the avalanche lasted for 88 seconds and registered with seismic frequencies between 3.46 and 7.64 Hz (right bottom). Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito (1402-03), Semana del 01 al 08 de febrero de 2019).

Geologic Background. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that is cut on the SW flank by a 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned Plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four westward-younging vents, the most recent of which is Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).


Masaya (Nicaragua) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake persists with decreased thermal output, November 2018-February 2019

Nicaragua's Volcan Masaya has an intermittent lava lake that has attracted visitors since the time of the Spanish Conquistadores; tephrochronology has dated eruptions back several thousand years. The unusual basaltic caldera has had historical explosive eruptions in addition to lava flows and an actively circulating lava lake. An explosion in 2012 ejected ash to several hundred meters above the volcano, bombs as large as 60 cm fell around the crater, and ash fell to a thickness of 2 mm in some areas of the park. The reemergence of the lava lake inside Santiago crater was reported in December 2015. By late March 2016 the lava lake had grown and intensified enough to generate a significant thermal anomaly signature which has varied in strength but continued at a moderate level into early 2019. Information for this report, which covers the period from November 2018 through February 2019, is provided by the Instituto Nicareguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER) and satellite -based imagery and thermal data.

The lava lake in Santiago Crater remained visible and active throughout November 2018 to February 2019 with little change from the previous few months (figure 70). Seismic amplitude RSAM values remained steady, oscillating between 10 and 40 RSAM units during the period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. A small area of the lava lake inside Santiago Crater at Masaya was visible from the rim on 25 November 2018 (left) and 17 January 2019 (right). Left image courtesy of INETER webcam; right image courtesy of Alun Ebenezer.

Every few months INETER carries out SO2 measurements by making a transect using a mobile DOAS spectrometer that samples for gases downwind of the volcano. Transects were done on 9-10 October 2018, 21-24 January 2019, and 18-21 February 2019 (figure 71). Average values during the October transect were 1,454 tons per day, in January they were 1,007 tons per day, and in February they averaged 1,318 tons per day, all within a typical range of values for the last several months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. INETER carries out periodic transects to measure SO2 from Masaya with a mobile DOAS spectrometer. Transects taken along the Ticuantepe-La Concepcion highway on 9-10 October 2018 (left) and 21-24 January 2019 (right) showed modest levels of SO2 emissions downwind of the summit. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua. Octubre 2018 and Enero 2019).

During a visit by INETER technicians in early November 2018, the lens of the Mirador 1 webcam, that had water inside it and had been damaged by gases, was cleaned and repaired. During 21-24 January 2019 INETER made a site visit with scientists from the University of Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany, to measure halogen species in gas plumes, and to test different sampling techniques for volcanic gases, including through spectroscopic observations with DOAS equipment, in-situ gas sampling (MultiGAS, denuders, alkaline traps), and using a Quadcopter UAV (drone) sampling system.

Periodic measurements of CO2 from the El Comalito crater have been taken by INETER for many years. The most recent observations on 19 February 2019 indicated an emission rate of 46 +/- 3 tons per day of CO2, only slightly higher than the average value over 16 measurements between 2008 and 2019 (figure 72).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. CO2 measurements taken at Masaya on 19 February 2019 were very close to the average value measured during 2008-2019. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua, Febrero 2019).

Satellite imagery (figure 73) and in-situ thermal measurements during November 2018-February 2019 indicated constant activity at the lava lake and no significant changes during the period. On 14 January 2019 temperatures were measured with the FLIR SC620 thermal camera, along with visual observations of the crater; abundant gas was noted, and no explosions from the lake were heard. The temperature at the lava lake was measured at 107°C, much cooler than the 340°C measured in September 2018 (figure 74).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery (geology, bands 12, 4, and 2) clearly indicated the presence of the active lava lake inside Santiago crater at Masaya during November 2018-February 2019. North is to the top, and the Santigo crater is just under 1 km in diameter for scale. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Thermal measurements were made at Masaya on 14 January 2019 with a FLIR SC620 thermal camera that indicated temperatures over 200°C cooler than similar measurements made in September 2018.

Thermal anomaly data from satellite instruments also confirmed moderate levels of ongoing thermal activity. The MIROVA project plot indicated activity throughout the period (figure 75), and a plot of the number of MODVOLC thermal alerts by month since the lava lake first appeared in December 2015 suggests constant activity at a reduced thermal output level from the higher values in early 2017 (figure 76).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Thermal anomalies remained constant at Masaya during November 2018-February 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA project. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. The number of MODVOLC thermal alerts each month at Masaya since the lava lake first reappeared in late 2015 reached its peak in early 2017 and declined to low but persistent levels by early 2018 where they have remained for a year. Data courtesy of MODVOLC.

Geologic Background. Masaya is one of Nicaragua's most unusual and most active volcanoes. It lies within the massive Pleistocene Las Sierras pyroclastic shield volcano and is a broad, 6 x 11 km basaltic caldera with steep-sided walls up to 300 m high. The caldera is filled on its NW end by more than a dozen vents that erupted along a circular, 4-km-diameter fracture system. The twin volcanoes of Nindirí and Masaya, the source of historical eruptions, were constructed at the southern end of the fracture system and contain multiple summit craters, including the currently active Santiago crater. A major basaltic Plinian tephra erupted from Masaya about 6500 years ago. Historical lava flows cover much of the caldera floor and have confined a lake to the far eastern end of the caldera. A lava flow from the 1670 eruption overtopped the north caldera rim. Masaya has been frequently active since the time of the Spanish Conquistadors, when an active lava lake prompted attempts to extract the volcano's molten "gold." Periods of long-term vigorous gas emission at roughly quarter-century intervals cause health hazards and crop damage.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua (URL: http://www.ineter.gob.ni/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Alun Ebenezer (Twitter: @AlunEbenezer, URL: https://twitter.com/AlunEbenezer).


Reventador (Ecuador) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Reventador

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Multiple daily explosions with ash plumes and incandescent blocks rolling down the flanks, October 2018-January 2019

The andesitic Volcán El Reventador lies well east of the main volcanic axis of the Cordillera Real in Ecuador and has historical eruptions with numerous lava flows and explosive events going back to the 16th century. The eruption in November 2002 generated a 17-km-high eruption cloud, pyroclastic flows that traveled 8 km, and several lava flows. Eruptive activity has been continuous since 2008. Daily explosions with ash emissions and ejecta of incandescent blocks rolling hundreds of meters down the flanks have been typical for many years. Activity continued during October 2018-January 2019, the period covered in this report, with information provided by Ecuador's Instituto Geofisico (IG-EPN), the Washington Volcano Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and infrared satellite data.

Multiple daily reports were issued from the Washington VAAC throughout the entire October 2018-January 2019 period. Plumes of ash and gas usually rose to altitudes of 4.3-6.1 km and drifted about 20 km in prevailing wind directions before either dissipating or being obscured by meteoric clouds. The average number of daily explosions reported by IG-EPN for the second half of 2018 was more than 20 per day (figure 104). The many explosions during the period originated from multiple vents within a large scarp that formed on the W flank in mid-April (BGVN 43:11, figure 95) (figure 105). Incandescent blocks were observed often in the IG webcams; they traveled 400-1,000 m down the flanks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. The number of daily seismic events at El Reventador for 2018 indicated high activity during the first and last thirds of the year; more than 20 explosions per day were recorded many times during October-December 2018, the period covered in this report. LP seismic events are shown in orange, seismic tremor in pink, and seismic explosions with ash are shown in green. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Anual del Volcán El Reventador – 2018, Quito, 29 de marzo del 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Images from IG's REBECA thermal camera showed the thermal activity from multiple different vents at different times during the year (see BGVN 43:11, figure 95 for vent locations). Courtesy if IG (Informe Anual del Volcán El Reventador – 2018, Quito, 29 de marzo del 2019).

Activity during October 2018-January 2019. During most days of October 2018 plumes of gas, steam, and ash rose over 1,000 m above the summit of Reventador, and most commonly drifted W or NW. Incandescence was observed on all nights that were not cloudy; incandescent blocks rolled 400-800 m down the flanks during half of the nights. During episodes of increased activity, ash plumes rose over 1,200 m (8, 10-11, 18-19 October) and incandescent blocks rolled down multiple flanks (figure 106).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Ash emissions rose over 1,000 m above the summit of Reventador numerous times during October 2018, and large incandescent blocks traveled hundreds of meters down multiple flanks. The IG-EPN COPETE webcam that captured these images is located on the S caldera rim. Courtesy of IG Daily Reports (Informe diario del estado del Volcan Reventador, numbers 2018-282, 292, 295, 297).

Similar activity continued during November. IG reported 17 days of the month with steam, gas, and ash emissions rising more than 1,000 m above the summit. The other days were either cloudy or had emissions rising between 500 and 1,000 m. Incandescent blocks were usually observed on the S or SE flanks, generally travelling 400-600 m down the flanks. The Washington VAAC reported a discrete ash plume at 6.1 km altitude drifting WNW about 35 km from the summit on 15 November. The next day, intermittent puffs were noted moving W, and a bright hotspot at the summit was visible in satellite imagery. During the most intense activity of the month, incandescent blocks traveled 800 m down all the flanks (17-19 November) and ash plumes rose over 1,200 m (23 November) (figure 107).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. Ash plumes rose over 1,000 m above the summit on 17 days during November 2018 at Reventador, and incandescent blocks traveled 400-800 m down the flanks on many nights. Courtesy of IG Daily Reports (Informe diario del estado del Volcan Reventador, numbers 2018-306, 314, 318, 324).

Steam, gas, and ash plumes rose over 1,200 m above the summit on 1 December. The next day, there were reports of ashfall in San Rafael and Hosteria El Hotelito, where they reported an ash layer about 1 mm thick was deposited on vehicles during the night. Ash emissions exceeded 1,200 m above the summit on 5 and 6 December as well. Incandescent blocks traveled 800 m down all the flanks on 11, 22, 24, and 26 December, and reached 900 m on 21 December. Ash emissions rising 500 to over 1,000 m above the summit were a daily occurrence, and incandescent blocks descended 500 m or more down the flanks most days during the second half of the month (figure 108).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. Ash plumes that rose 500 to over 1,000 m were a daily occurrence at Reventador during December 2018. Incandescent blocks traveled as far as 900 m down the flanks as well. Courtesy of IG Daily Reports (Informe diario del estado del Volcan Reventador, numbers 2018-340, 351, 353, 354, 358, 359).

During the first few days of January 2019 the ash and steam plumes did not rise over 800 m, and incandescent blocks were noted 300-500 m down the S flank. An increase in activity on 6 January sent ash-and-gas plumes over 1,000 m, drifting W, and incandescent blocks 1,000 m down many flanks. For multiple days in the middle of the month the volcano was completely obscured by clouds; only occasional observations of plumes of ash and steam were made, incandescence seen at night through the clouds confirmed ongoing activity. The Washington VAAC reported continuous ash emissions moving SE extending more than 100 km on 12 January. A significant explosion late on 20 January sent incandescent blocks 800 m down the S flank; although it was mostly cloudy for much of the second half of January, brief glimpses of ash plumes rising over 1,000 m and incandescent blocks traveling up to 800 m down numerous flanks were made almost daily (figure 109).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. Even during the numerous cloudy days of January 2019, evidence of ash emissions and significant explosions at Reventador was captured in the Copete webcam located on the S rim of the caldera. Courtesy of IG Daily Reports (Informe diario del estado del Volcan Reventador, number 2019-6, 21, 26, 27).

Visual evidence from the webcams supports significant thermal activity at Reventador. Atmospheric conditions are often cloudy and thus the thermal signature recorded by satellite instruments is frequently diminished. In spite of this, the MODVOLC thermal alert system recorded seven thermal alerts on three days in October, four alerts on two days in November, six alerts on two days in December and three alerts on three days in January 2019. In addition, the MIROVA system measured moderate levels of radiative power intermittently throughout the period; the most intense anomalies of 2018 were recorded on 15 October and 6 December (figure 110).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. Persistent thermal activity at Reventador was recorded by satellite instruments for the MIROVA system from 5 April 2018 through January 2019 in spite of frequent cloud cover over the volcano. The most intense anomalies of 2018 were recorded on 15 October and 6 December. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).


Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) — March 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kuchinoerabujima

Japan

30.443°N, 130.217°E; summit elev. 657 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak explosions and ash plumes beginning 21 October 2018

Activity at Kuchinoerabujima is exemplified by interim explosions and periods of high seismicity. A weak explosion occurred on 3 August 2014, the first since 1980, and was followed by several others during 29 May-19 June 2015 (BGVN 42:03). This report describes events through February 2019. Information is based on monthly and annual reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and advisories from the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). Activity has been limited to Kuchinoerabujima's Shindake Crater.

Activity during 2016-2018. According to JMA, between July 2016 and August 2018, the volcano was relatively quiet. Deflation had occurred since January 2016. On 18 April 2018 the Alert Level was lowered from 3 to 2 (on a scale of 1-5). A low-temperature thermal anomaly persisted near the W fracture in Shindake crater. During January-March 2018, both the number of volcanic earthquakes (generally numerous and typically shallow) and sulfur dioxide flux remained slightly above baselines levels in August 2014 (60-500 tons/day compared tp generally less than 100 tons/day in August 2014).

JMA reported that on 15 August 2018 a swarm of deep volcanic earthquakes was recorded, prompting an increase in the Alert Level to 4. The earthquake hypocenters were about 5 km deep, below the SW flanks of Shindake, and the maximum magnitude was 1.9. They occurred at about the same place as the swarm that occurred just before the May 2015 eruption. Sulfur dioxide emissions had increased since the beginning of August; they were 1,600, 1,000, and 1,200 tons/day on 11, 13, and 17 August, respectively. No surficial changes in gas emissions or thermal areas were observed during 16-20 August. On 29 August, JMA downgraded the Alert Level to 3, after no further SO2 flux increase had occurred in recent days and GNSS measurements had not changed.

A very weak explosion was recorded at 1831 on 21 October, with additional activity between 2110 on 21 October and 1350 on 22 October; plumes rose 200 m above the crater rim. During an overflight on 22 October, observers noted ash in the emissions, though no morphological changes to the crater nor ash deposits were seen. Based on satellite images and information from JMA, the Tokyo VAAC reported that during 24-28 October ash plumes rose to altitudes of 0.9-1.5 km and drifted in multiple directions. During a field observation on 28 October, JMA scientists did not observe any changes in the thermal anomalies at the crater.

JMA reported that during 31 October-5 November 2018, very small events released plumes that rose 500-1,200 m above the crater rim. On 6 November, crater incandescence began to be periodically visible. During 12-19 November, ash plumes rose as high as 1.2 km above the crater rim and, according to the Tokyo VAAC, drifted in multiple directions. Observers doing fieldwork on 14 and 15 November noted that thermal measurements in the crater had not changed. Intermittent explosions during 22-26 November generated plumes that rose as high as 2.1 km above the crater rim. During 28 November-3 December the plumes rose as high as 1.5 km above the rim.

JMA reported that at 1637 on 18 December an explosion produced an ash plume that rose 2 km and then disappeared into a weather cloud. The event ejected material that fell in the crater area, and generated a pyroclastic flow that traveled 1 km W and 500 m E of the crater. Another weak explosion occurred on 28 December, scattering large cinders up to 500 m from the crater.

The Tokyo VAAC did not issue any ash advisories for aviation until 21 October 2018, when it issued at least one report every day through 13 December. It also issued advisories on 18-20 and 28 December.

Activity during January-early February 2019. JMA reported that at 0919 local time on 17 January 2019 an explosion generated a pyroclastic flow that reached about 1.9 km NW and 1 km E of the crater. It was the strongest explosion since October 2018. In addition, "large cinders" fell about 1-1.8 km from the crater.

Tokyo VAAC ash advisories were issued on 1, 17, 20, and 29 January 2018. An explosion at 1713-1915 on 29 January produced an ash plume that rose 4 km above the crater rim and drifted E, along with a pyroclastic flow. Ash fell in parts of Yakushima. During 30 January-1 February and 3-5 February, white plumes rose as high as 600 m. On 2 February, an explosion at 1141-1300 generated a plume that rose 600 m. No additional activity during February was reported by JMA. The Alert Level remained at 3.

Geologic Background. A group of young stratovolcanoes forms the eastern end of the irregularly shaped island of Kuchinoerabujima in the northern Ryukyu Islands, 15 km west of Yakushima. The Furudake, Shindake, and Noikeyama cones were erupted from south to north, respectively, forming a composite cone with multiple craters. The youngest cone, centrally-located Shintake, formed after the NW side of Furutake was breached by an explosion. All historical eruptions have occurred from Shintake, although a lava flow from the S flank of Furutake that reached the coast has a very fresh morphology. Frequent explosive eruptions have taken place from Shintake since 1840; the largest of these was in December 1933. Several villages on the 4 x 12 km island are located within a few kilometers of the active crater and have suffered damage from eruptions.

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


Kerinci (Indonesia) — February 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


A persistent gas-and-steam plume and intermittent ash plumes occurred from July 2018 through January 2019

Kerinci is a frequently active volcano in Sumatra, Indonesia. Recent activity has consisted of intermittent explosions, ash, and gas-and-steam plumes. The volcano alert has been at Level II since 9 September 2007. This report summarizes activity during July 2018-January 2019 based on reports by The Indonesia volcano monitoring agency, Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), MAGMA Indonesia, notices from the Darwin Volcano Ash Advisory Center (Darwin VAAC), and satellite data.

Throughout this period dilute gas-and-steam plumes rising about 300 m above the summit were frequently observed and seismicity continued (figure 6). During July through January ash plumes were observed by the Darwin VAAC up to 4.3 km altitude and dispersed in multiple directions (table 7 and figure 7).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Graph showing seismic activity at Kerinci from November 2018 through February 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

Table 7. Summary of ash plumes (altitude and drift direction) for Kerinci during July 2018 through January 2019. The summit is at 3.5 km altitude. Data courtesy of the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) and MAGMA Indonesia.

Date Ash plume altitude (km) Ash plume drift direction
22 Jul 2018 4.3 SW
28-30 Sep 2018 4.3 SW, W
02 Oct 2018 4.3 SW, W
18-22 Oct 2018 4.3 N, W, WSW, SW
19 Jan 2019 4 E to SE
Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Dilute ash plumes at Kerinci during July 2018-January 2019. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Based on satellite data, a Darwin VAAC advisory reported an ash plume to 4.3 km altitude on 22 July that drifted to the SW and S. Only one day with elevated thermal emission was noted in Sentinel-2 satellite data for the entire reporting period, on 13 September 2018 (figure 8). No thermal signatures were detected by MODVOLC. On 28-29 September there was an ash plume observed to 500-600 m above the peak that dispersed to the W. Several VAAC reports on 2 and 18-22 October detected ash plumes that rose to 4.3 km altitude and drifted in different directions. On 19 January from 0734 to 1000 an ash plume rose to 200 m above the crater and dispersed to the E and SE (figure 9).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Small thermal anomaly at Kerinci volcano on 13 September 2018. False color (urban) image (band 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Small ash plume at Kerinci on 19 January 2018 that reached 200 m above the crater and traveled west. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 20, Number 11 (December 1995)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Aira (Japan)

Explosive eruptions continue to generate ash plumes

Akan (Japan)

Early November seismic swarm with two minutes of tremor

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Explosive activity increase from October; lava flows continue

Asosan (Japan)

Numerous isolated tremors

Barren Island (India)

Eruption apparently ends by late June, but aviation notice posted on 2 December

Erebus (Antarctica)

No significant activity from the active lava lake; gas measurements

Erta Ale (Ethiopia)

Lava lake still active with fountains as high as 15 m

Etna (Italy)

Six lava fountaining episodes from Northeast Crater

Fogo (Cape Verde)

Eruption of 2 April through 28 May covered over 6 square kilometers of land

Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba (Japan)

Discolored seawater

Galeras (Colombia)

Fumarolic and seismic activity continue at low levels

Irazu (Costa Rica)

Local seismicity detected

Kilauea (United States)

Surface lava flows, lava tubes, and ocean entries still active

Kujusan (Japan)

Seismically active with occasional lapilli and steam ejections

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Ongoing eruptions lead to detectable ashfalls 10-15 km away

Lengai, Ol Doinyo (Tanzania)

Minor lava flows and projectile emission in December

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Steam release with occasional minor ash and bombs

Monowai (New Zealand)

Earthquake swarm in late November detected acoustically

Negro, Cerro (Nicaragua)

Vigorous eruption produces a new cone, dome, lava flows, and large ash plumes

Niijima (Japan)

Seismic swarm on 4 December

Poas (Costa Rica)

Fumarolic and seismic activity

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Small ash-bearing emissions from Tavurvur

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica)

Additional details about the 6-10 November eruption

Shishaldin (United States)

Eruption sends ash plume above 10 km altitude

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Dome building, minor ash eruptions

St. Helens (United States)

Seismicity decreases without any explosive activity

Stromboli (Italy)

Low-level ash plumes and lava fountains during September-October

Suwanosejima (Japan)

Continued minor eruptive activity throughout much of 1995

Tokachidake (Japan)

Gradual increase in the number of seismic events

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea)

Modest degassing

Veniaminof (United States)

Minor steam and ash emissions in November

White Island (New Zealand)

Sub-crater divides collapse, but no eruptive activity



Aira (Japan) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosive eruptions continue to generate ash plumes

Minami-dake crater was active throughout November-December 1995. Eruption totals for November and December were 19 and 42, respectively. Of these, explosive eruptions for the same months numbered 14 and 36, respectively. The local seismic station recorded 453 earthquakes and 446 tremors during November and 467 earthquakes and 83 tremors during December. The highest monthly ash plumes took place on 30 November (2,300 m above the crater), and on 9 December (1,700 m). Ashfall measured 10 km W of the crater was as follows: November, 5 g/m2; and December, 18 g/m2.

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.


Akan (Japan) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Akan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Early November seismic swarm with two minutes of tremor

On 1 November there were 46 earthquakes recorded, and small amplitude volcanic tremor continued for ~2 minutes. High seismicity continued through the 5th with 18-28 events/day. The November earthquakes totaled 643.

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.


Arenal (Costa Rica) — December 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)


Explosive activity increase from October; lava flows continue

October plumes rose as high as 1 km above Crater C. During the second week of November explosive activity increased, growing both in terms of the number of outbursts and the overall quantity of tephra emitted. Blocks and bombs landed above 1,000 m elevation. Ash columns rose over 1 km and blew over the NW, W, and SW flanks. Windows vibrated in buildings 6.5 km E (La Fortuna).

A lava flow first emitted in July remained mobile; one arm reached 860 m and another reached 900 m elevation. A new flow began at the end of the month, venting from a point S of the vent for the previous month's flow, and moving SW. Re-established vegetation in the zone of lava flows continued to degrade due to acid rain.

For the frequency range below 3.5 Hz, there were 765 events during October and 444 seismic events during November (figure 74). These events chiefly occurred associated with Strombolian eruptions; some were of sufficient amplitude to reach station JTS, 30 km from the active crater. The largest number recorded in a single day was 40 (on 5 November). During October and November, 2.1-3.5 Hz tremor took place for about 232 and 238 hours, respectively (figure 74). On 15 and 17 November tremor prevailed for 21 and 20 hours, respectively.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Arenal seismicity and tremor for 1995 (recorded at station "VACR," 2.7 km NE of the main crater). Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

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) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Numerous isolated tremors

During November and December 1995 the floor of Naka-dake Crater 1 remained covered with hot water, yet there were few if any mud-and-water ejections. During November the number of isolated tremors reached 5,488; during December, 4,896. In addition, continuous tremor prevailed with amplitudes confined to 0.1-0.8 µm.

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.


Barren Island (India) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Barren Island

India

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption apparently ends by late June, but aviation notice posted on 2 December

Based on observations in late June 1995, the Indian Coast Guard reported on 1 July that explosive activity in the crater area had stopped, but gas emissions were still coming from the area near the coast. On 2 December an aviation Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was issued from the United Kingdom for increased activity at Barren Island. However, no eruptive activity was seen on GMS satellite imagery over the area.

Landsat TM images from January 1995 (20:04) showed activity from a subsidiary vent on the S slope of the central crater. Subsequent images from 24 February, 13, 14, and 30 March, and 15 April 1995 also revealed activity from the central crater. Some of the images showed a lava or debris flow present in the WNW channel leading towards the sea. A thermal infrared image on 13 March showed a large hot central vent, and at least two subsidiary vents on the S slope; the image also revealed a lava passageway and the cooler plume.

Further Reference. Haldar, D., Chakraborty, S.C., and Chakraborty, P.P., 1996, The 1995 eruption of the Barren Island volcano in the Andaman Sea: Records, Geological Survey of India, v. 129(3), p. 59-62.

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: D. Haldar, Director, GSI Eastern Region, Calcutta; J. Lynch, SAB.


Erebus (Antarctica) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Erebus

Antarctica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


No significant activity from the active lava lake; gas measurements

Significant collapse of the Inner Crater was occurring in late 1995, although the lava lake remained fairly constant in size at ~20 m diameter and generally in the same location. No significant eruptions have occurred from the lava lake over the last 5 years and no bombs have been observed on the crater rim. Magma composition has shown no change over the last 20 years. A recent volume of 12 papers (Kyle, 1994) summarizes some aspects of the volcanic activity and environmental effects of Erebus through the 1980's and early 1990's.

Passive degassing from the lake contributes a small plume and the SO2 content has usually been monitored in December by COSPEC (see Kyle and others, 1994 for COSPEC data up to 1991). Since 1991 the SO2 emissions have ranged between 40 and 70 Mg/day (megagrams/day is the SI unit equivalent to metric tons/day); bad weather limited measurements in December 1995. FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared) open-field spectrometry measurements in December confirmed the HCl/SO2 ratio of the emitted gases to be in agreement with measurements made by impregnated filters over the last 8 years. However, high CO levels significantly exceeded those of both HCl and SO2. Although CO2 in the plume has not been measured it is assumed to be high due to the alkalic nature of the magma. The high CO may be a function of the presumed high CO2 concentrations in the magma and its fairly low oxygen fugacity.

A network of eight seismic stations are operated as part of the Erebus Volcano Observatory by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Seven stations have 1-Hz vertical single-component instruments, and the eighth is a 1-Hz three-component station. The stations have radio telemetry links to McMurdo Station where a digital event detection system and several analog helirecorders record the data, which are automatically transferred daily via the Internet to New Mexico for analysis and archiving. Details about the seismic network and associated seismicity can be accessed on the WWW Erebus page (see below).

Magmatic eruptive activity has been continuous since the discovery of a anorthoclase phonolite lava lake in 1972 (Giggenbach and others, 1973). Activity has been relatively uniform over the last 15 years with the exception of two significant events. In 1984 there was a 3-4 month period of larger and more frequent Strombolian eruptions which ejected bombs >2 km from the summit crater. On 19 October 1993 two moderate phreatic eruptions blasted a new crater ~80 m in diameter on the Main Crater floor and ejected debris over the northern Main Crater rim. These are the first known phreatic eruptions at Erebus, and probably resulted from steam build-up associated with melting snow in the crater.

References. Giggenbach, W.F., Kyle, P.R., and Lyons, G., 1973, Present volcanic activity on Erebus, Ross Island, Antarctica: Geology, v. 1, p. 135-136.

Kyle, P.R., Sybeldon, L.M., McIntosh, W.C., Meeker, K., and Symonds, R., 1994, Sulfur dioxide emissions rates from Mount Erebus, Antarctica, in Kyle (1994), p. 69-82.

Kyle, P.R., ed., 1994, Volcanological and Environmental Studies of Erebus, Antarctica: Antarctic Research Series, American Geophysical Union, v. 66.

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

Information Contacts: Philip R. Kyle, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM 87801 USA.


Erta Ale (Ethiopia) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Erta Ale

Ethiopia

13.6°N, 40.67°E; summit elev. 613 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake still active with fountains as high as 15 m

Lava lakes have been present since 1967, and possibly 1906, although the N lava lake became inactive between 1988 and 1992. Recent ground observations were reported in September and November 1992. Observations have also been made using satellite imagery. New observations were made during 6-11 December 1995 by a team from Spele-Film and the Societe de Volcanologie Geneve while working for a French television network.

Only fumarolic activity was observed from the large crater (~300 m diameter) in the N part of the caldera. Fumaroles were concentrated SW of the pit within the crater, with some emissions coming from the inside wall and the slope of talus covering the pit floor. Almost all of the visible fumes came from the main pit, and seemed more abundant than in November 1992. A secondary pit crater with a diameter of ~15 m was seen in the SE part of the main pit.

Within the central part of the caldera, the S lava lake is located at the top of a small lava shield. The N and E flanks of this shield are partially covered by abundant lava flows originating from the N crater. The S flank of the shield is dominated by a large inactive cone. No fumes were visible, but the air near the pit-crater rim was very hot, frequently making it difficult to breathe without a mask. The diameter of the S pit-crater was ~140 m (based on a measured circumference of 446 +- 2 m), and the lake was 90 m below the W rim. The lava lake was similar in size and location to one observed in 1992, covering an area of ~60 x 100 m in the WSW part of the pit (figure 6). However, the level of the lake was believed to have risen ~5-6 m. Two slope breaks on the generally flat pit floor, not present in 1992, suggest that the entire floor may have subsided.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Sketch showing a cross-sectional view of the central pit-crater (S lava lake) at Erta Ale, December 1995. Courtesy of P. Vetsch.

Lava lake activity was characterized by intermittent fountaining from as many as four locations at a time. No regular pattern was noted, but fountaining was more frequent near the SW border of the lake, and the more intense fountains (5-15 m high), started near the center of the lake and migrated to the border. During the stronger fountaining phases, a large raft of cooled surface lava moved towards the lake center. The lava lake was generally more active than in 1992. Pele's hair was frequently seen above the fountains, and some rose on the hot air out of the pit.

Geologic Background. Erta Ale is an isolated basaltic shield that is the most active volcano in Ethiopia. The broad, 50-km-wide edifice rises more than 600 m from below sea level in the barren Danakil depression. Erta Ale is the namesake and most prominent feature of the Erta Ale Range. The volcano contains a 0.7 x 1.6 km, elliptical summit crater housing steep-sided pit craters. Another larger 1.8 x 3.1 km wide depression elongated parallel to the trend of the Erta Ale range is located SE of the summit and is bounded by curvilinear fault scarps on the SE side. Fresh-looking basaltic lava flows from these fissures have poured into the caldera and locally overflowed its rim. The summit caldera is renowned for one, or sometimes two long-term lava lakes that have been active since at least 1967, or possibly since 1906. Recent fissure eruptions have occurred on the N flank.

Information Contacts: P. Vetsch, Societe de Volcanologie Geneve, B.P. 298, CH-1225 Chene-bourg, Switzerland; L. Cantamessa, Geo-Decouverte, 65 rue de Lausanne, CH-1202 Geneva, Switzerland; G. Farve and C. Rufi, Spele-Film, Borex, Switzerland; C. Peter, 14 Haupstrasse, D-82547 Eurasburg, Germany.


Etna (Italy) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Six lava fountaining episodes from Northeast Crater

On 2 August 1995 explosive activity resumed at Northeast Crater (NEC) (BGVN 20:08). In August and September the activity was sporadic and low in intensity (BGVN 20:09), but after 2 October a vigorous Strombolian phase was observed (BGVN 20:10). Explosive activity occurred again during 19-22 October.

On 1 November there was vigorous spattering and bubbling of magma in a 15-m-wide pit on the NEC floor. Magma degassing formed large bubbles that burst, throwing spatter to the crater rim. In the following days the activity was discontinuous and less intense.

Lava fountaining episodes, 9-14 November. At 0014 on 9 November there was a sudden increase in volcanic tremor, but bad weather prevented summit observations. Between 0105 (at Trecastagni) and 0110 (at Catania, 30 km SSE) ash and lapilli fallout covered the SE flank (figure 61), eventually reaching as far as Siracusa, 75 km from the vent. The episode lasted only a few minutes and the material on the lower slope amounted to a few tens of grams per square meter, although rare dense lapilli broke some skylights and car windows. Fieldwork the next morning revealed that the NEC eruption produced a lava fountain followed by a strong phreatomagmatic blast. Part of the S rim collapsed inside the NEC and was later ejected. A welded spatter deposit several meters thick mantled the upper slope of the NEC cone and was overlain by a few centimeters of ash and lapilli. The bombs varied from 2-3 m close to the vent, to 25 cm at 2.5 km downwind. Several large accidental lithics (up to 1 m) occurred in the very proximal deposit. A large amount of spatter fell into the crater, raising its floor by several tens of meters. The crater appeared completely sealed, with wide red cracks on the crust of the spatter pile. The total volume of tephra from the 9 November eruption was ~1.5 x 106 m3.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. Map of the Etna area showing areas affected by ashfall on 9, 14, and 27 November, and 23 December 1995. Courtesy of IIV.

On 10 November a new lava fountain episode at NEC was observed from Catania around 0400-0530. Pulsating magma jets climbed up to 300 m above the crater rim; some were expelled up to 500 m. An ash-and-lapilli column ascended ~5,000 m and was blown SE. The spatter deposit was limited to the upper part of the volcano and in a narrow strip extending ~3 km SE; little ash fell on the middle slopes. The estimated volume of the pyroclastics was a few tens of thousands of cubic meters.

A third episode took place around 0600 on 14 November, and lasted ~3 hours. Between 0800 and 0900 the paroxysmal phase sent dense black ash columns through a white cloud covering the summit until they reached 5,000 m altitude. During the entire episode a non-continuous sustained eruptive column was observed and each ash puff contributed to a plume bent downwind that reached its buoyancy level at 6-7 km altitude. Ash and lapilli rained on the NE flank down to the coast (figure 61), leaving only a few grams of material per square meter on the middle and lower slopes. The proximal spatter deposits, mapped two days later, partially covered the previous ones on the cone and extended ~2 km NE in a band a few hundred meters wide. Lithic blocks and ash were less abundant than in deposits from the 9 November episode. The crater bottom was sealed by back-fallen welded spatter and was ~50 m below the crater rim, 100 m higher than before 9 November. The total volume of tephra from the 14 November eruptions was ~350,000 m3.

The volcano remained quiet after the 3rd episode. Within NEC, only a few large cracks on the welded spatter crust emitted fumes. Bocca Nuova crater showed a normal continuous degassing; Southeast and Voragine craters continued their steam emission.

Lava fountaining episodes, 22-27 November. Late on 22 November continuous glows were observed at NEC and some bangs were heard on the lower slopes. Beginning around midnight, two hours of fire fountaining and intense red glow was visible from Catania. The lava jets remained fairly low (~100 m above the crater rim) so the proximal spatter deposit mantled only the upper part of the cone, whereas the fine material fell on the SE flank as far as the coast. However, the total volume of the erupted material was limited to a few tens of thousand cubic meters, close to that of the second episode.

After the 22 November episode the vent was closed again by material that fell back into the crater. Three days later some bangs were heard at NEC and glow was observed during the night of 26-27 November. That morning seismic tremor rose suddenly and at 0715 an ash-and-lapilli column rose from the volcano. Cloud cover prevented direct observations. Ash and lapilli were carried by strong winds and fell on a narrow band of the N flank down to its foot (figure 61). Lapilli fallout ended around 1000, but the explosive activity continued for several hours. The thickness of the scoria-fall deposit varied from decimeters close to the vent to ~1 mm at 12 km away. The total tephra volume from this 5th eruptive episode was estimated at 0.4-0.5 x 106 m3.

Fieldwork two days later revealed that the proximal spatter deposits of the 22 and 26 November episodes were thinner than earlier ones. Lithic blocks were less abundant than in the 9 November deposits, but large ballistic scoriaceous bombs were found up to 500 m from the vent. The crater floor was completely sealed by fall-back spatter, but every 40-60 minutes a gas pocket broke the solid crust and a single lava bubble burst. These phenomena were observed for a few more days.

Activity during December. In the first half of December the summit craters were quiet, with continuous steam emissions, except for NEC, which had no open vent. A short explosive phase was reported on the night of 6 December. Poor weather conditions prevented observations until 16 December, when continuous Strombolian activity was seen at a small vent on the crater floor; a cone grew within a few days. The activity was characterized by the bursting of single magma bubbles alternating with degassing jets and spatter lasting from tens of seconds to a few minutes. This intense Strombolian activity continued for several days.

Around 1100 on 23 December strong bangs were heard from skiers on the upper slope. Very soon the bangs became frequent and black ash puffs were observed from NEC. Between 1215 and 1220 the first jet of magma rose above the crater rim, followed shortly by several pulses of magma jets and a large eruptive column. Between 1235 and 1305 the paroxysmal phase occurred, with jets of magma that rose 500-600 m (measured on the video record of the surveillance camera at La Montagnola, 2,700 m elevation on the S flank). Fragments from the top of the jets fed an eruptive column that reached 9.5 km altitude (6.2 km above the summit). Clear weather allowed observation of the column from many places on Sicily, as far as the city of Palermo 190 km away. Abundant ash and lapilli fell on a wide band of the NE flank down to the coast (figure 61). A brownish ash plume was emitted by Voragine during the entire paroxysmal phase of the eruption. Around 1330 the eruption quickly declined, but isolated explosions occurred until the evening. This episode was the most energetic among the six at NEC during November and December 1995.

The proximal deposit mantled the NEC cone with meters of welded spatter. In the W and E saddles between NEC and the Central Cone, spatter formed two thick lava flows a few hundred meters long. The E flow was still active during the night of 23-24 December; downslope movement of fluid material in the core produced continuous collapses of large incandescent blocks at the flow front. Crater modifications included the thick new scoria bank and widening and lowering of the S crater rim. Ballistic clasts had been thrown up to 600 m from the vent and landed as cow-pie bombs up to 2 m in diameter. The distal deposit from the eruptive column was made of scoriaceous bombs and lapilli up to 10-15 km from the vent, and from lapilli and a minor ash up to the shoreline, 22 km away. The bombs were very brittle, flat, and up to 30 cm in diameter at 6 km from the vent (observed while still in the air). The scoria-fall deposit formed a continuous band from the vent to the coast, damaging fruit plantations, vehicles, and buildings. The Messina-Catania freeway had to be cleared of a scoria deposit along a 4-km-long stretch. The deposit thickness along the dispersal axis was 6-7 cm at 6 km, 3-4 cm at 13 km, 3 cm at 16 km along the freeway, and 1-2 cm at 20 km near the coast. The estimated total volume of pyroclastics erupted on 23 December was ~3 x 106 m3.

On the days after 23 December eruption only a few blasts were heard from NEC, but on the nights of 27 and 28 December discontinuous glow was again seen, sometimes similar to those produced by mild Strombolian explosions. No further activity was reported at NEC or the other craters through the end of the year.

Tephra characteristics. Bombs and lapilli erupted during the November-December 1995 episodes are highly vesiculated and show glassy and smooth surfaces. Only in the volcanics erupted on 9 November are both vesicles and surfaces filled by reddish, fine-grained non-juvenile material. Juvenile ash consists of: 1) poorly vesiculated tachylitic (glassy) grains; 2) highly vesiculated clasts with glassy, smooth surfaces, and many Pele's hair and shards in the finer fraction; and 3) loose crystals covered in some cases by a thin film of glass.

Generally rounded grains with variable alteration form the non-juvenile fraction. In the ash fraction of all deposits, juvenile material is always the most abundant (60-100%), and preliminary investigation indicates that it increased with time. The juvenile fraction is ~60% of the 9 November ash, ~80% of the 14 November ash, and ~100% of the ash erupted during the following episodes (23 and 27 November, 23 December). The proportions of different juvenile components also changed during the eruptive sequence.

Scoria erupted during the November-December explosive episodes are, like most of Etna's historical volcanics, porphyritic hawaiites with phenocrysts of plagioclase, clinopyroxene, and olivine, and microphenocrysts of Ti-magnetite in a hyalopilitic groundmass. The scoria are more vesiculated and slightly less porphyritic than those erupted in October 1995. The chemical composition of November-December scoria is rather homogeneous even if the 9 and 14 November material is slightly more differentiated than those erupted after 23 November. Overall, the composition of the November-December volcanics is comparable to those of the Strombolian activity at NEC during the first half of October, and to the products erupted in the first days of the 1991-93 eruption.

Seismicity. Seismicity recorded by the permanent seismic network (12 stations; figure 62), during November-December 1995 was characterized by remarkable phases of increased volcanic tremor amplitude. Earthquake activity stayed at very low levels. A few tens of shocks took place and the only significant episode occurred on 24 December when a minor swarm (6 events; Mmax=3.2) was located near Mt. Maletto (NW slope of the volcano) at a depth of ~15 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. Map of Etna showing locations of seismic stations, tilt stations, and EDM networks maintained by the Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia as of December 1995. Courtesy of IIV.

Since the end of August 1995 volcanic tremor recorded at Pizzi Deneri (PDN: ~2 km from NEC, 2,820 m elevation) and Serra Pizzuta Calvarina (ESP: ~7 km from NEC, 1,590 m elevation) stations has shown an increasing trend. This pattern became more evident in late September, when some increases in tremor amplitude were recorded for durations ranging from tens of minutes to a few hours. The most relevant increases in tremor amplitude occurred on 22-23 September, 2, 3 and 21 October, 9, 10, 14, 22-23, and 27 November, and 23 December. This tremor amplitude pattern correlated with visually observed NEC eruptive activity.

The volcanic tremor spectral amplitude temporal pattern at PDN and ESP stations showed a clear amplitude increase. Spectral amplitude peaks were superimposed on the increased trend and corresponded to the episodes listed above. Dominant peaks in tremor spectra recorded at PDN and ESP stations showed a high-frequency (~3.5 Hz) trend coincident with the high tremor amplitude. Each amplitude increase showed similar characteristics.

Ground deformation. After the end of the 1991-93 eruption deformation was dominated by steady inflation, mostly affecting the W and NE slopes. Positive trends of areal dilatation, cumulating at ~14 ppm, were clearly apparent on the SW and NE flank EDM networks (figure 62) following the 1991-93 eruption, while the S network was characterized by a flat trend of areal dilatation for several years. Both the SW and NE networks followed comparable trends, only differing in the recent sharp positive gradient variation (10 ppm) shown by the latter between August and October.

The shallow bore-hole permanent tilt network (figure 62) indicated a progressive increase (starting by the second half of 1993) in the radial tilt component recorded at the stations on the W flank (MSC: 50 µrad) and on the N flank (MNR: 10 µrad), while the S slope showed no appreciable positive variation until July 1995. The eruptive activity resumed at the summit craters by late July-early August, and the renewed ejection of magma appeared to be strictly related in time to the positive variation of the radial tilt at SPC (~15 µrad) and the sharp increase of areal dilatation in the NE sector. Radial tilt at PDN was affected by a sharp negative variation (35 µrad) at almost the same time.

September EDM survey on the S flank. J. Moss noted that reoccupation of a different S-flank EDM network in September 1995 showed only minor line extension since eruptive activity resumed in August. Significant extensions of lines perpendicular to the Valle del Bove accompanied dike emplacement prior to the 1991-93 eruption. However, the July 1995 survey showed only minor changes since July 1994. Over 80% of the lines measured between those two surveys showed extension, suggesting a pattern of broad edifice inflation. The small strain rates suggest that no magma was intruded into this part of the S rift zone prior to September 1995.

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: M. Coltelli, M. Pompilio, E. Privitera, S. Spampinato, and S. Bonaccorso, CNR Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia (IIV), Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ingv.it/en/); Jane L. Moss, Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, Francis Close Hall, Swindon Road, Cheltenham GL50 4AZ, United Kingdom.


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

Fogo

Cape Verde

14.95°N, 24.35°W; summit elev. 2829 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption of 2 April through 28 May covered over 6 square kilometers of land

The eruption that began on 2 April (BGVN 20:04 and 20:05) ended on or about 28 May, according to V. Martins. New lava flows covered ~6.3 km2 of land. The total volume of lava extruded was ~60-100 x 106 m3, assuming lava flow thicknesses of ~9-15 m; the known range was from 1 to >20 m. Based on six major-element XRF analyses, the lava flow erupted during the first night (3 April) was determined to be a differentiated kaersutite-bearing phonotephrite (IUGS system), whereas later lava flows and spatter were more primitive tephrite basanite.

Fogo Island consists of a single massive volcano with an 8-km-wide caldera breached to the E. The central cone was apparently almost continuously active from the time of Portuguese settlement in 1500 A.D. until around 1760. The June-August 1951 eruption from caldera vents S and NW of the central cone began with ejection of pyroclastic material.

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

Information Contacts: Richard Moore, U.S. Geological Survey, Mail Stop 903, Federal Center Box 25046, Denver, CO 80225 USA; Frank Trusdell, U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718, USA; Veronica Carvalho Martins, U.S. Embassy, Rua Hoji Ya Henda 81, C.P. 201, Praia, Cape Verde; Arrigo Querido, INGRH Servicos Estudos Hidrologicos, C.P. 367, Praia, Cape Verde.


Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba (Japan) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba

Japan

24.285°N, 141.481°E; summit elev. -29 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Discolored seawater

An aviator flying over the waters of the southern Volcano Islands for Japan's Maritime Safety Agency reported seeing light-green seawater on 25, 27, and 28 November. Discolored seawater was last seen at this location in September 1993.

Geologic Background. Fukutoku-Oka-no-ba is a submarine volcano located 5 km NE of the pyramidal island of Minami-Ioto. Water discoloration is frequently observed from the volcano, and several ephemeral islands have formed in the 20th century. The first of these formed Shin-Ioto ("New Sulfur Island") in 1904, and the most recent island was formed in 1986. The volcano is part of an elongated edifice with two major topographic highs trending NNW-SSE, and is a trachyandesitic volcano geochemically similar to Ioto.

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


Galeras (Colombia) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Galeras

Colombia

1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumarolic and seismic activity continue at low levels

Volcanic activity remained low during November and December. No significant surface changes were detected during this period, in agreement with electronic tiltmeter measurements on the E flank. Gas emission was concentrated in the W part of the crater, and the El Paisita, Las Chavas, La Joya, and Las Deformes fumaroles remained active. During 2-22 November there were temperature increases at Las Deformes and Las Chavas of 28 and 14°C, respectively. Correlation spectrometer measurements of the SO2 flux remained low (<100 metric tons/day).

There were a few small seismic events associated with fluid movement in November, and sporadic seismicity associated with rock fracturing 2-4 km NNE of the active crater. During December, high-frequency seismicity consisted of small events (M <2.6) concentrated in the seismogenic region 6 km NE of the crater. Local residents felt events on 4 and 29 December that were M 2.5 and 2.6, respectively. The first of these events was centered in the NE region at 5 km depth, and the second at 7 km SW of the crater at 8 km depth. Only three small long-period events were recorded.

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

Information Contacts: Pablo Chamorro, INGEOMINAS - Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Pasto, A.A. 1795, San Juan de Pasto, Narino, Colombia (URL: https://www2.sgc.gov.co/volcanes/index.html).


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

Irazu

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Local seismicity detected

During October Irazú's seismic station (IRZ2), located 5 km SW of the active crater, registered 14 low-frequency events and an additional 19 microseisms that were only detected locally.

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

Information Contacts: E. Fernandez, E. Duarte, R. Saenz, W. Jimenez, and V. Barboza, OVSICORI-UNA.


Kilauea (United States) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Surface lava flows, lava tubes, and ocean entries still active

The East Rift Zone eruption continued in the last quarter of 1995 with lava erupting from the 780-m elevation flank vent next to the Pu`u `O`o cone (figure 98). The lava immediately entered subsurface tubes and traveled SE toward the coast, a distance of ~11 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. Map of recent lava flows from Kilauea's east rift zone, October 1995. Contours are in meters and the contour interval is approximately 150 m. Courtesy of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Activity during 10 October-6 November. Most surface flows broke out from the tubes on the steep slope of Pulama Pali and on the coastal plain. Some of these flows burned vegetation and extended the flow field at the base of Pulama Pali several hundred meters E. On the flats at the coast, surface flows occurred just upslope from the ocean entry at Kamokuna, and also 1 km farther W, near the old Kamoamoa campground. A major bench collapse at the Kamokuna entry on 16-17 October was accompanied by explosive activity that built two littoral cones.

A portion of the crater floor in the Pu`u `O`o cone collapsed, leaving a pit ~50 m in diameter that was partially filled by a large rockslide from the base of the W crater wall. The timing of the pit formation probably coincided with seismic events either on 19 and/or 29 October. The lava pond rose to ~75 m below the N spillway. On the upper slope above Pulama Pali, new skylights in the roof of the lava tubes continued to appear and crust over rapidly. Surface flows in this area and on the slope of Pulama Pali were small and infrequent. Most of the lava traveled via lava tubes to the coastal plain on the E side of the Kamoamoa flow field. Isolated breakouts occurred in the central part of the flow field, below Paliuli. The ocean entry at Kamokuna continued to produce a large acidic plume. Interaction between lava and seawater was occasionally explosive and formed two littoral cones on the bench.

Eruption tremor levels remained relatively low with amplitudes ~2x background. Long-period events from both shallow- and intermediate-depth sources continued at low-moderate rates. The number of short period microearthquakes was low beneath the summit and rift zones.

Activity during 7 November-4 December. A brief pause during the night of 10-11 November was immediately preceded by increased shallow seismic tremor and slight summit deflation. By the morning of 11 November lava was no longer entering the ocean at Kamokuna; however, activity at the eruption vent and the Pu`u `O`o cone had already resumed. During the afternoon, the lava pond was very active, its level fluctuating at least 10-15 m within 30 minutes, with spattering up to a height of 30 m. By the following day, lava was once again entering the ocean. Since this short pause, the lava pond has maintained a level ~75 m below the N rim. The floor of the large collapse pit was partially resurfaced by new lava flows after the pause.

Surface flows on the lower slope of Pulama pali and on the coastal plain continued to expand the Kamoamoa flow field E into forest and grasslands. At the shoreline, advancing pahoehoe flows filled the gap created by Kupaianaha eruptions in 1992, at the E edge of the current Kamoamoa flow field. These flows have produced a new ocean entry ~500 m E of the Kamokuna entry.

A large bench at the West Kamokuna entry collapsed on 23 November. Sustained explosive activity on 26 November built a new littoral cone (3-4 m high) on the bench. Lava was entering the ocean at 2-3 locations along a new East Kamokuna bench, located inside the W edge of the old Kupaianaha flow field. Breakouts from the relatively immature tube system were continuously active on the coastal plain near this entry. An older tube continued to feed isolated breakouts in the middle of the Kamoamoa flow field. The long-lived skylight at 735 m elevation finally crusted over in late November, leaving the tube system completely sealed off for the first 4 km from the vent. However, new skylights continued to appear and crust over near the top of Pulama Pali.

Eruption tremor was low and relatively steady, with a few isolated increases in amplitude in banded patterns. Shallow, long-period microearthquakes were slightly above average on 11, 12, and 16 November, with daily counts of nearly 100. Intermediate-depth, long-period counts were high on 2 and 3 December. Short-period summit and rift microearthquake counts were low.

Activity during 5 December-1 January. Small surface breakouts were observed high on Pulama Pali and on the coastal plain. The West Kamokuna entry occupied a large, mature bench; on 12 December, explosive activity at this entry built a new littoral cone. The East Kamokuna entry continued building a new bench. A pause in the eruption began at 1500 on 14 December and lasted until midnight on 15-16 December. The plume from the ocean entries stopped completely by 16 December. When the eruption resumed, lava again flowed through the existing tube system and reached the ocean at West Kamokuna bench on the afternoon of 17 December. The East Kamokuna entry was not reactivated after the pause.

Just prior to the 14-16 December pause, only a solid crust was visible where the Pu`u `O`o lava pond had been, at 80-90 m below the rim. By 19 December the lava pond had risen to ~68 m below the rim of the cone and was actively circulating. The pond level then subsided several meters and stabilized by 28 December. Surface flows occurred high on Pulama Pali, between 675 and 570 m elevation, and in the area from the 300-m elevation on Pulama Pali, down to the far eastern side of the flow field, to the coastal plain and ocean entry. Flows moved E into the grassland and brush near the base of Pulama Pali. A single ocean entry at West Kamokuna was active in late December, where a major collapse between 30 December and 1 January took out a section of the bench ~50-70 x 200-300 m in surface area, including several littoral cones. Explosive activity was observed at the ocean entry both before and after the collapse, but the most energetic and spectacular activity was reported on 1 January, immediately following the bench collapse. This activity included lava bubble burst and spatter and tephra ejections to heights estimated at 60 m. These explosions built a new littoral cone.

Eruption tremor levels remained low at ~2-3x the background. Shallow, long-period (LPC-A, 3-5 Hz) microearthquake counts were high on 5 December and again from 15-18 December. On the 15th and 16th, LPC-A counts were 200/day, gradually diminishing on the 17th and 18th. Shallow, long period (LPC-B, 1-3 Hz) microearthquakes were also high in number during 16-18 December, peaking on the 17th, with more than 150 events counted. Both types of LPC events are from a source 0-5 km in depth. They differ in frequency, suggesting a possible change in the condition of the source.

Shallow summit activity continued in the second half of December, with many hundreds of long-period (LPC-B, 0-3 Hz) events per day. The high counts peaked on 22 and 24 December with daily totals of 1,730 and 1,346, respectively. By 26 December, LPC-B counts appeared to be decreasing, while a slight increase of LPC-A was noted. The increase of shallow activity was coincident with the mid-December eruptive pause. Microearthquake counts were below average.

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

Information Contacts: Dave Clague, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI 96718, USA.


Kujusan (Japan) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Kujusan

Japan

33.086°N, 131.249°E; summit elev. 1791 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismically active with occasional lapilli and steam ejections

An aseismic phreatic eruption vented from the N flank (not E as previously reported) of Hosho dome on the evening of 11 October (BGVN 20:10). The eruption came from a 400-m-long E-W fissure that includes multiple sub-fissures and craters.

The Volcano Research Center (VRC) at the University of Tokyo reported that the estimated volume of tephra from the 11 October eruption was 22,000 m3. Violent steaming from the vents and craters along en-echelon cracks has reportedly continued since then. An image taken by the French SPOT-2 satellite on the morning of 13 October shows an ash plume extending SW.

JMA reported that on 12 and 13 November field observers saw steam vigorously escaping from Vent D. The steam carried volcanic lapilli up to 5 cm in diameter.

Another JMA field party witnessed a loud explosion on 13 December, but ejecta were not found. VRC reported that another phreatic eruption on the morning of 18 December produced ~20% of the tephra of the 11 October eruption. Associated tremor, local deflation, and earthquakes were noted. Small ash emissions continued until at least as late as the night of 13 January 1996. In material erupted since 20 December, clear juvenile rhyolite glass shards were recognized in the ash and comprised roughly 1% of its volume.

The highest plumes during November and December rose ~300 and 600 m above the vent. On 23 November, earthquakes increased and the daily total was 13; the monthly total was 69. During the most active days in December, the 2nd and 18th, daily totals were 22 and 29, respectively; the total for the month was 134.

Further Reference. Hiroki, H., and Tatsuro, C., 1995, Eruption of Iozan at Kuju volcano in October 1995: Journal of the Geological Society of Japan, v. 101, no. 12, p. 43-56.

Geologic Background. Kujusan is a complex of stratovolcanoes and lava domes lying NE of Aso caldera in north-central Kyushu. The group consists of 16 andesitic lava domes, five andesitic stratovolcanoes, and one basaltic cone. Activity dates back about 150,000 years. Six major andesitic-to-dacitic tephra deposits, many associated with the growth of lava domes, have been recorded during the Holocene. Eruptive activity has migrated systematically eastward during the past 5000 years. The latest magmatic activity occurred about 1600 years ago, when Kurodake lava dome at the E end of the complex was formed. The first reports of historical eruptions were in the 17th and 18th centuries, when phreatic or hydrothermal activity occurred. There are also many hot springs and hydrothermal fields. A fumarole on Hosho lava dome was the site of a sulfur mine for at least 500 years. Two geothermal power plants are in operation at Kuju.

Information Contacts: Volcanological Division, Seismological and Volcanological Department, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100 Japan; Volcano Research Center, Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113 Japan (URL: http://www.eri.u-tokyo.ac.jp/VRC/index_E.html); Geological Survey of Japan, 1-1-3 Higashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305 Japan (URL: http://www.aist.go.jp/ GSJ/dEG/sVOLC/kuju_E.html).


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — December 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)


Ongoing eruptions lead to detectable ashfalls 10-15 km away

Throughout November-December, Crater 2 continued to emit white-to-gray ash and vapor, with plumes rising up to several hundred meters above the crater. During November, ashfalls reached 10-15 km on the N-NW flank; these eruptions were accompanied by audible explosions and rumbling. The eruptions threw incandescent projectiles during the first half of both November and December, and steady crater glow took place on most November nights and on 9-11 December. Crater 3 remained quiet. The greatest December activity, during the 23rd through the 26th, had emissions similar to those in November, but plumes rose somewhat higher (up to 1 km above the crater) and ash fell 10-15 km SE and SW.

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: Ben Talai, H. Patia, D. Lolok, and C. McKee, RVO.


Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Ol Doinyo Lengai

Tanzania

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Minor lava flows and projectile emission in December

Summit visits by members of the Societe de Volcanologie Geneve during 15-19 December revealed low rates of intermittent effusive activity and some small explosions. Five episodes of lava emission were observed from hornito cluster T36 (BGVN20:10), each lasting

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Sketch map of part of the Ol Doinyo Lengai crater showing new features and lava flows, 15-19 December 1995. Modified from the January 1994 map in BGVN 19:04.

Almost continuous ejection of lava fragments occurred from a cinder cone T37 (~15-25 m high), and with less intensity from a hornito in a small collapse depression just W of T5/T9 (figure 37). A small lava pond, observed for ~3 hours on 16 December, inside the depression at the foot of the hornito exhibited splashing and small bubbles. Two major flank collapses of T37 released large quantities of very fast-moving (5-8 m/second) aa lava flows that were ~50 cm thick. The first flank failure, on 16 December, was a progressive event on the W side. However, the E-flank collapse on the 18th came without warning, quickly sending a lava flow NE between T5/T9 and F35, almost to the crater rim.

Fumarole temperature measurements were taken on the N crater rim, inside new cracks on the crater floor, and at the tops of T8 and T15. All temperatures were 70-80 degrees C.

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

Information Contacts: P. Vetsch, S. Haefli, and C. Peter, Societe de Volcanologie Geneve, B.P. 298, CH-1225 Chene-bourg, Switzerland.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — December 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)


Steam release with occasional minor ash and bombs

Throughout November, Manam's activity remained low and night glow from its craters was absent. On 8 December, weak projections of incandescent lava were seen, and steady glow took place on the nights of 9 and 10 December. During November and December, both summit craters chiefly released steam, but on 8, 17, and 19 November South Crater released wisps of blue vapor, and on 25 and 28 November it released gray ash. South Crater also made weak, low-frequency roaring sounds on 1 November. Except for 6-11 December, activity was low during most of the month.

Earthquakes increased at the end of October, but during November they took place at the moderate rate of 600-1,400/day. They remained moderate in December. In the first half of November a tiltmeter 4 km SW of the summit continued to register slight deflation followed during the latter half of the month by a 2 µrad inflation.

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: Ben Talai, H. Patia, D. Lolok, and C. McKee, RVO.


Monowai (New Zealand) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Monowai

New Zealand

25.887°S, 177.188°W; summit elev. -132 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Earthquake swarm in late November detected acoustically

During November, Reseau Sismique Polynesien (RSP) stations on the islands of Tahiti, Rangiroa, Tubuai, and Rikitea registered acoustic T-waves. The waves were associated with a seismic swarm centered >2,500 km E of these islands. The swarm was located at 25.92 S, 177.15 W, essentially the coordinates of the Monowai seamount.

The T-wave swarm consisted of four episodes. The first, at 1751 on 27 November, lasted for 20 minutes and included seven separate explosions and other strong events. The second, 1403 on 28 November lasted 4 minutes and included small-amplitude events. The third, at 1842 on 30 November, prevailed for 7 minutes and included moderate-amplitude events. Ten minutes later, the fourth episode included 25 distinct explosions and other strong events.

The character of the T-wave signals was consistent with volcanism. T-waves are sound waves with paths that propagate through the sea; on reaching land the energy travels at the higher speed of ordinary seismic waves. Compared to earthquake-generated T-waves, volcanically generated ones are impulsive and of comparatively short duration.

Recent activity includes a possible eruption in 1944, and about seven documented eruptions during 1977-90 (BGVN 16:03). The seamount lies midway between the Kermadec and Tonga Islands, ~1,400 km NE of New Zealand. The adjacent trench is significantly shallower (~4 km) compared to the Tonga and Kermadec trenches (9-11 km deep).

Geologic Background. Monowai, also known as Orion seamount, rises to within 100 m of the sea surface about halfway between the Kermadec and Tonga island groups. The volcano lies at the southern end of the Tonga Ridge and is slightly offset from the Kermadec volcanoes. Small parasitic cones occur on the N and W flanks of the basaltic submarine volcano, which rises from a depth of about 1500 m and was named for one of the New Zealand Navy bathymetric survey ships that documented its morphology. A large 8.5 x 11 km wide submarine caldera with a depth of more than 1500 m lies to the NNE. Numerous eruptions from Monowai have been detected from submarine acoustic signals since it was first recognized as a volcano in 1977. A shoal that had been reported in 1944 may have been a pumice raft or water disturbance due to degassing. Surface observations have included water discoloration, vigorous gas bubbling, and areas of upwelling water, sometimes accompanied by rumbling noises.

Information Contacts: Francois Schindele, Laboratoire de Geophysique, B.P. 640, Papeete, Tahiti.


Cerro Negro (Nicaragua) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Cerro Negro

Nicaragua

12.506°N, 86.702°W; summit elev. 728 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Vigorous eruption produces a new cone, dome, lava flows, and large ash plumes

A significant eruption in November-December followed almost six months of unrest and minor eruptive activity. During a crater visit on 13 November no precursors were observed, and on 18 November only background seismicity was recorded by the CNGN station (500 m E of the crater).

Early phase of activity, 19-22 November. Local residents first noticed explosions about the time of the onset of 30 minutes of mildly increasing seismicity detected by the CNGN station at 1145 on 19 November. Following a pause, seismicity continued to gain strength. Increasing activity was reported that afternoon by residents in Malpaisillo (~10 km N). Observations on the night of 19-20 November indicated mild Strombolian activity, with vertically directed ejecta, that was gradually increasing in strength. A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was issued the next day warning aviators of the volcanic activity.

Eruption tremor amplitude increased continuously and saturated the CNGN station (60 dB gain) at 0200 on the 21st. Tremor was detected on short-period seismic stations within a 30 km radius (at San Cristóbal and Momotombo volcanoes, and near the city of León). Energy release increased continuously and tremor could be felt over 1 km away, when sitting down, as a smooth rocking motion.

At 2000 on 21 November incandescent bombs were being thrown up to 300-400 m above the 1992 crater rim. Ash content was low compared with the 1992 and May-August 1995 activity, and bombs were often very large (meters across), which deformed and broke up in flight. Because of near-vertical trajectories, few bombs fell outside the crater. The new cone being built within the 1992 crater (figure 8) had a steep (>45 degrees) basal scarp, 2-5 m high, followed by a level bench and then a less steep slope (25 degrees) to its crater. Ejecta pulses maintained a frequency of 20/minute, but the size and duration of each pulse varied. From 0255 to 0310 on 22 November ejecta heights were <150 m but ash content and degassing were much higher, emitting dark clouds with each explosion. A thick, white lower plume appeared to be escaping from a new lava dome in the 1992 crater, 50 m W of the new cone (figure 8). By 0500 the eruption had regained previous intensity levels and exhibited near-constant fire-fountain-like activity, bombs were larger, and pulse frequency increased to 22/minute. The eruption continued at this level for over 4 hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Sketch of the crater at Cerro Negro, 0700 on 22 November 1995. Drawn from photographs taken by Pedro Perez; courtesy of INETER.

The new cone had almost reached the lip of the 1992 crater by 0700 on 22 November. At that time the lava dome emitted a small lava flow, 2-5 m wide and 50 m long, that followed the edge of the new cone towards the lowest part of the 1992 crater (figure 9). From 0930 to 1000 a series of explosions ejected material to the lower slopes of the new cone. Sand to gravel size ash fell W of the cone, but no large ejecta. Compared to the 1992 ejecta this material is highly vesicular with millimeter-size vesicles; olivine, pyroxene, and plagioclase are present, and some plagioclase crystals are 1 cm long. That evening the new cone overgrew the N rim of the 1992 crater and material began spilling towards Cerro La Mula. From 1900 to 2300 a tongue of lava spilled over the N rim of the 1992 crater. The front moved at <1 m/hour, but blocks constantly tumbled from the front down to the base of the main cone.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Sketch map of Cerro Negro showing active lava flows, 2000 on 23 November 1995. Drawn by B. Van Wyk de Vries; courtesy of INETER.

Lava flows beyond the crater, 23 November. After 1400 on 23 November dark gray pulses observed from 25 km away formed a plume that rose faster and higher than on previous days, attaining several kilometers altitude. Observations were made from the seismic station after 1500. During about 1515-1525 the plume became less ash-rich, ejecta became less frequent, and strong degassing pulses were heard. When regular pulses resumed, some bombs were ejected laterally onto the flanks of the main cone. Periodic heavy falls of 1-3 cm scoria were encountered by the scientists walking under the plume 1.5 km from the cone. Red glow was visible at 1730 over Cerro La Mula, and there was a smell of burning vegetation, suggesting an active lava flow. The lava tongue was observed at 1800 between Cerro La Mula and Cerro Negro (figure 9). Later named the La Mula flow, it was ~20 m wide and 5 m thick, and advancing at ~2 m/hour.

At 1830 a 20-m-wide lava stream moved down the N flank through a small breach at a rate of ~150 m/minute from the crater rim to the base of the cone. A lava field spreading out from the base of the cone had reached ~1 km from the crater by 2000, advancing 10-30 m/hour along two 300-m-wide fronts (figure 9). To the E of the flow the volcano flank appeared to be bulging and was irregular with large blocks jutting out that occasionally fell downslope, revealing incandescent lava. It appeared to the scientists that a slow-moving 20-m-thick blocky lava flow was moving to the crater rim and collapsing down the flank; however, the shape of the flank also suggested outward bulging. The blocky lava extended at least 200 m NE from the base of the cone.

Continuous and voluminous pulses at 2000 created a fountain that sent bombs at least 600 m above the crater. Ash clouds accompanied each pulse and occasional flames of burning gas reached 100-200 m above the crater. This activity had decreased by 2045, and by 2115 pulses of bombs appeared only every 30 seconds, although continual noise suggested smaller pulses.

Of the four GPS stations set up in the vicinity of the cone, by 23 November one had been destroyed by lava and another was too dangerous to approach. Measurements at the remaining stations were within the error of the equipment (2 cm at best). However, two fresh fault scarps radial to the cone were observed on the W side with 5 cm of displacement. Tremor energy increased continuously until 1200 on 23 November, after which it maintained a constant level.

Continuing activity, 25-26 November. The eruption plume was again clearly visible on 25 November from Managua as a diffuse gray column turning horizontal at ~2,000 m. At 0900 distinct pulses of dark gray ash rose from the crater and formed mushroom shapes before drifting W and being incorporated into the plume; ashfall was reported in León and Corinto. At times only massive bombs were thrown out, while at others strong explosions sent up dense ash clouds. Ash and highly vesicular scoria <5 cm in size fell continuously on the W base of the cone. Pulses of ash and bombs had a frequency of 20/minute, a characteristic periodicity in this eruption. Pulses were strong enough to maintain a constant fountain of bombs as high as 600 m, some of which were large and visibly red 5 km away; explosions were audible at this distance.

At 1100 on 25 November most bombs were still ejected vertically, but a significant number were exiting at low angles and falling low on the flanks. The new cone had grown to ~40 m across, and its top was ~30-50 m below the 1992 crater summit. Bombs fell mostly on the cone and rolled down to the base. The small breach where the 23 November lava flow exited was partly covered by a new blocky flow, which appeared to come straight N from the new cone, though no exit vent was visible. It may have been produced by accumulated, still liquid ejecta beginning to flow outwards, as seen on 22 November. The flow had advanced half way down the flank, covering another blocky flow. The dome in the crater had grown to ~100 m wide and 40 m high. Blocks were continually spalling off the dome, which also sustained a continuous rain of bombs from the new cone. Multiple small lava tongues originated from the dome. The crater dome was less pronounced on 26 November, and was blocky rather than spiny. The new cone had grown ~10 m overnight.

The two flows moving N on the 23rd had reached ~1-1.5 km from the volcano. The larger W lobe was ~400 m wide and 3-5 m thick at the front with a small lobe extending down the gully below Cerro La Mula, and another extending E into a depression in the old N lava field. The E lobe had extended into forest at the E side of the old N lava field. Over a three-hour period the flows advanced ~12 m. A low ash-covered area with a small old cinder cone separated the lobes. The sides of each flow were slowly (~1 m/hour) encroaching on this and thickening. The thick lava lobes below the dome were advancing, and many areas of the dome were glowing. The ~30-m-wide La Mula lava flow had advanced W ~500 m down a small valley and was moving at ~1 m/hour on 25 November; by 0600 on the 26th it had stopped. By 0645 the other lava fronts had advanced 20-50 m since the previous evening. The main W lobe had spread E and a large block in the middle of the flow had moved ~100 m.

Seismic tremor levels remained high through 26 November. Tremor was continuous and distinctly felt up to 1.5 km from the cone.

Satellite observations of the ash plume. Visible satellite imagery on 25 November indicated a possible low-level ash cloud at 1245 (figure 10). The height of the plume was estimated at 4,500 m altitude and was moving SW at ~30 km/hour. Another small low-level plume was seen on imagery at 0815 the next day at an estimated 2,750 m altitude and moving WSW at ~35 km/hour. Explosive activity increased on 1 December, when visible imagery at 1230 revealed a plume 18 km wide extending ~320 km W; it was estimated to be between 3,000 and 6,000 m altitude. By 0900 on 2 December, the plume extended at least 640 km W and was below 4,000 m.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Map showing ash plumes from Cerro Negro detected on visible satellite imagery on 25-26 November, and 1-2 December 1995. Courtesy of the Synoptic Analysis Branch, NOAA/NESDIS.

End of the eruption, early December. Explosive and effusive activity ended on 6 December. However, a lava flow was still moving N on 8 December. Isopach maps of the ashfall through 2 December (figure 11) were constructed by Markus Kesseler based on 85 GPS control points (precision +- 30 m). The 0.1 cm isopach encloses an area of ~200 km2. An estimated 12,000 people were affected by this eruption, about 6,000 of whom had been evacuated from 15 rural communities. Farmland was significantly damaged by ashfall and lava flows during the harvesting season; most of those affected were farmers and their families.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Isopach maps of ashfall from Cerro Negro, 19 November-2 December 1995. Isopachs within the 5.0 cm limit are at 10-cm intervals, up to 50 cm closest to the crater. The 2-5 June isopachs (BGVN 20:09) are shown for comparison. Courtesy of Markus Kesseler; base map courtesy of Brittain Hill.

Geologic Background. Central America's youngest volcano, Cerro Negro, was born in April 1850 and has since been one of the most active volcanoes in Nicaragua. Cerro Negro is the largest, southernmost, and most recent of a group of four youthful cinder cones constructed along a NNW-SSE-trending line in the central Marrabios Range 5 km NW of Las Pilas volcano. Strombolian-to-subplinian eruptions at Cerro Negro at intervals of a few years to several decades have constructed a roughly 250-m-high basaltic cone and an associated lava field that is constrained by topography to extend primarily to the NE and SW. Cone and crater morphology at Cerro Negro have varied significantly during its eruptive history. Although Cerro Negro lies in a relatively unpopulated area, its occasional heavy ashfalls have caused damage to crops and buildings in populated regions of the Nicaraguan depression.

Information Contacts: Wilfried Strauch, Virginia Tenorio, Rolf Schick, Helman Taleno, Leonel Urbina, Cristian Lugo, and Pedro Perez, Instituto Nicaraguense de Estudios Territorales, Managua, Nicaragua; Benjamin van Wyk de Vries, The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom; Markus Kesseler, Dept. of Mineralogy, Universite de Geneve, 13 rue des Maraichers, 1211 Geneve 4, Switzerland; Michael Conway and Brittain E. Hill, Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Rd., San Antonio, TX 78238 USA; Jim Lynch, NOAA/NESDIS Synoptic Analysis Branch (SAB) , Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA; Department of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations, Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.


Niijima (Japan) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Niijima

Japan

34.397°N, 139.27°E; summit elev. 432 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismic swarm on 4 December

On 4 December, many earthquakes occurred in and around the island, some of which were felt. The largest one was M 4.3.

Geologic Background. The elongated island of Niijima, SSW of Oshima, is 11 km long and only 2.5 km wide. It is comprised of eight low rhyolitic lava domes that are clustered in two groups at the northern and southern ends of the island, separated by a low, flat isthmus. The flat-topped domes give the island the appearance of two large plateaus bounded by steep cliffs. The Mukaiyama complex at the southern end of the island and Achiyama lava dome at the northern end were formed during Niijima's only historical eruptions in the 9th century CE. Shikineyama and Zinaito domes form small islands immediately to the SW and west, respectively, during earlier stages of volcanism. Earthquake swarms occurred during the 20th century.

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) — December 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)


Fumarolic and seismic activity

The surface of the sky-blue crater lake rose in November (20 cm higher than October); the lake's temperature was 26°C. A vigorous subaqueous fumarole appeared adjacent the lake's S shore. The W-terrace fumarole emitted yellow, sulfur-rich gases and particles; other fumaroles located on the NW-SW terrace emitted only low amounts of gases. Measured fumarole temperatures were in the range 94-96°C along the S and SE crater, an area that produced 100-m-tall gas columns. Gases escaping the pyroclastic cone had temperatures of 93°C.

During 1-22 November the local seismic station recorded 5,146 events (predominantly of low-frequency), significantly fewer than the number seen in the two previous months (figure 59).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Poás seismicity for January-November 1995 recorded at station POA2 (2.7 km SW of the active crater). Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

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) — December 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)


Small ash-bearing emissions from Tavurvur

Throughout most of November 1995 the two recently active centers remained quiet, with Tavurvur emitting only steam and Vulcan not emitting any visible vapor (figure 24). Then on 28 November, Tavurvur suddenly began erupting, creating a parasitic crater. Vulcan continued to remain quiet throughout December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Index map of Rabaul and detail of soil CO2 transect. Elevation contours given in meters; base map after Johnson (1995).

The volume of Tavurvur's faint blue vapor emissions seemed to increase in the weeks prior to 28 November. On the morning of the eruption an impressive white steam cloud stood several hundred meters above Tavurvur's summit. The new eruption, which was preceded by weak roaring sounds, started at about 1020, and initially consisted of forceful emissions of gas and dark ash at 2-6 minute intervals. Those emissions lacked explosion sounds; they rose 400-800 m above the crater rim and blew over a broad arc between the SE and SW, resulting in fine ashfall both onshore and over the sea. No ashfall reached Kokopo, 25 km SE. The next day, 29 November, two intervals of stronger emission took place (at 1200-1300 and 1415-1430), sending columns ~1 km above the summit.

An aerial inspection on 30 November revealed a new crater on the 1994-95 crater's SSE rim. Although the 1994-95 crater displayed no new activity, fumaroles were particularly active along its E walls. An old explosion crater along the base of Tavurvur's S flank, in which 6 people were killed in 1990 by inhalation of carbon dioxide, was releasing weak-to-moderate emissions of white vapor from its N to E walls. Directly downslope and immediately offshore of this explosion crater a spring had become considerably more active since the 1994 eruption; during the 30 November aerial inspection it was prominent, giving off a strong stream of rusty brown water. During November and December, ground deformation remained low.

Tavurvur discharged dark ash clouds in December, typically at 3-6 minute intervals, that rose 400-1,000 m above the summit. On 2 December two ash clouds rose to 1.5-2 km. The second brought intense lightning causing minor damage to home appliances in Rabaul Town (figure 24). On 5 December, a particularly loud explosion, heard 30-40 km away, accompanied the discharge of an ash cloud that rose to 1.2 km. Additional loud explosions accompanied dense ash clouds that rose to 1-1.2 km; these took place during December as follows: 11th (1 time), 13th (1), 14th (4), 18th (1), 23rd (1), 24th (1), and 29th (2). Moderate-sized clouds blew SE, and very fine ash occasionally fell both in Kokopo and, due to shifting winds, in Rabaul Town. On December nights, observers saw incandescent fragments and during the second half of the month they heard occasional deep roaring noises.

Seismicity. November seismicity generally remained low, but was punctuated by 11 high- and 42 low-frequency events. Eight of the high-frequency events were located. Five occurred within the caldera's seismically active elliptical fault zone, in the NE (1 event), W (1), and S (3) quadrants. Although one of the extra-caldera events was centered S of the caldera, two events were located immediately to the caldera's NE, an area where the bulk of the high-frequency earthquakes have occurred in the past few months. One of these two events, ML 3.0 on 24 November, produced a felt intensity of MM III at Rabaul Town.

Of the 42 low-frequency earthquakes during November, 17 came from around Tavurvur volcano. Two of these occurred in late October, and 9 others in November prior to the 28 November eruption. The last time such events appeared was during the eruptive activity in March 1995. The other 25 low-frequency earthquakes not centered around Tavurvur were more difficult to locate accurately due to emergent waveforms and fewer stations outside the caldera. Many may have originated immediately N of the caldera. On 10 November a low-frequency earthquake centered 7-8 km outside of the caldera was strong enough to trigger aftershocks.

During December, seismic instruments detected 30 high-frequency earthquakes, 684 low-frequency earthquakes, and 488 explosion events. Instruments also recorded occasional discontinuous non-harmonic tremors. About 70% of the high frequency earthquakes occurred during 4-6 December. The five located events had epicenters in either the S part of the caldera's seismically active zone (the largest one, M 2.7), NE of the caldera (two events), or within the caldera. All of the seismic explosions and most low-frequency earthquakes originated at Tavurvur; the 20 exceptions originated farther NW and took place at the end of the month.

Fumarole and soil sampling. During 21-27 November, rainwater, water from hot springs, and gases from subaerial and submarine fumaroles were sampled at 13 sites (table 3). Compared to Vulcan, fumaroles at Tavurur displayed relatively high temperature, low pH, and high conductivity. Hot springs sampled near the shore of Greet Harbor were slightly acidic and comparatively conductive. All samples were more acid than those assessed prior to the 1994 eruption episode.

Table 3. Summary of fumarole and hot spring sampling at Rabaul Caldera, 21-27 November 1995. Courtesy of RVO.

Location Number of samples/type Temp (deg C) pH Electrical conductivity (mS/cm)
Tavurvur 3/fumarole 202-98.9 1.21-3.53 0.327-10.4
Vulcan 1/fumarole 99.8 5.28 0.0758
Rabalanakaia 1/fumarole 99.3 3.20 0.444
Vulcan 1/hot spring 99.2 5.98 73.3
Greet Harbor shore 4/hot spring 62.6-84.8 5.89-6.66 52.9-53.8
Sulphur Creek 1/hot spring N.D. 6.21 4.29
Rabaul 1/rainwater N.D. 6.06 N.D.

A soil CO2 survey E of Simpson Harbor (figure 24) showed that CO2 concentrations varied widely, 0.4-20% (figure 25). As reported by Mori and McKee in 1987, the CO2 concentrations peaked along the seismically active fault zone (near the old airport), some distance from either Tavurvur or Vulcan. Other anomalously high concentrations were seen at the Matupit causeway and Sulphur Creek. Low concentrations were seen at other places, including Matupit Island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Soil CO2 concentrations at Rabaul Caldera along transect A-A'. Courtesy of RVO.

Isotopic analysis of six selected samples along the profile found that 13C ranged from -29.8 to -18.4 per mil suggesting chiefly biogenic contributions. A mixing process with a minor contribution of volcanogenic CO2 might also account for the wide range of ratios seen. High soil CO2 levels could be related to the effects of a higher thermal gradient along active fractures and faults.

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: Ben Talai, H. Patia, D. Lolok, and C. McKee, RVO; N. M. Perez and H. Wakita; University of Tokyo, Earth Chemistry, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113 Japan.


Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Additional details about the 6-10 November eruption

An eruption on 6 November 1995 followed increases in fumarolic activity and a several-month long increase in local earthquakes and tremor (figures 11 and 12). Park rangers who visited the summit at the start of October noted increased fumarolic activity and witnessed landslides down the main crater's walls. Strong sulfur smells were noted W-SW of the volcano on multiple occasions in the days prior to 6 November (figure 13).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Rincón de la Vieja's monthly totals for tremor and low-frequency seismicity, January-September 1995. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Rincón de la Vieja's seismicity, 1-13 November 1995. An eruption began on 6 November. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Map of NW Costa Rica showing key features associated with Rincón de la Vieja's 6 November 1995 eruption. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

The seismic receiver (RIN3) sits 5 km SW of the active crater. Although the OVSCICORI-UNA seismic system failed on 29 October (and possibly other times during the month), it functioned reliably again after the 31st. Low-frequency events gradually increased during 1-6 November (figure 12), followed by a modest decline. High-frequency events were only registered after 3 November. Tremor was absent prior to the 6 November eruption.

OVSCICORI reported that the first phase of the eruption consisted of vapor with subordinate ash in a discharge lasting 2 minutes. Later, vigorous fumarolic activity led to many hours of constant tremor. Only two more clear eruptions followed in the initial 17 hours of venting, but others followed in subsequent days. The eruption climaxed on the morning of the 8th, when columns reached 3.5 km altitude. Fine ash blew W and NW; larger blocks and tephra were confined to within ~1 km and the area of heavy ashfall reached ~5 km away (figure 13).

During some phases of the eruption, lahars flowed down the Azul and Penjamo rivers and an interfluvial ravine called the Quebrada Azumicrorada (figure 13). Upper reaches of these drainages sustained up to 6 m of erosion. Lahars on the 7th were cooler and more water-rich than those on the 8th. In addition to previously reported damage, on 8 November lahars shut down some communications systems.

At 0900 and 1130 on 8 November OVSICORI scientists visited the summit area and saw impact craters as large as 2 m in diameter; the craters were produced by 0.5-1.0 m diameter blocks, some of which were still warm to the touch. The scientists also saw ongoing phreatic eruptions escaping from a vent adjacent to the crater lake.

At 0411 on the 9th a shock wave was felt 25 km SE in the city of Liberia; the related outburst was seen from the N flank, where residents witnessed incandescent block ejections.

Amplitudes on the seismic recorders regularly peaked at over 30 mm on 6-9 November. The highest amplitudes, on 7-9 November, reached nearly 60 mm. Amplitudes decreased the morning of 9 November; following the eruption (10-14 November) amplitudes generally remained under 10 mm with infrequent spikes to ~20 mm and a few rare spikes to 30 mm. Tremor decreased by an order of magnitude on 10 November and it dropped to <1 hour/day on 13 November.

During fieldwork in early December, G. Soto (ICE) and G. Boudon (IPG) inspected the near-source region. For a radial distance of ~1 km from the crater they saw a deposit consisting of muddy ash, lapilli, and blocks. These reached 40 cm thick on the crater's southern outer rim at a point 150 m from the inner rim. The deposit's thickness and grain size decreased rapidly with distance, such that at 600 m SW of the crater the deposit was only 7 cm thick. The deposit's basal zone was enriched in fine grained, muddy-looking material, but throughout the deposit there occurred lustrous black juvenile clasts. Over ~1 km2 of the upper surface of the deposit, there lay a blanket consisting of (a) dense, quenched blocks, (b) breadcrust bombs with notably vesicular cores, and (c) some highly vesiculated fragments. On 8 December at points 5 and 8 km from the summit, the Penjama and Blanco rivers, respectively, still ran milky and were slightly acidic in taste. That same day, the scientists saw only fumarolic activity. Although scientists looked for a lake in the depths of the crater, they failed to gain a clear view there.

Reference. Boudon, G., Rancon J.-P., Kieffer, G., Soto, G.J., Traineau, H., and Rossignol, J.-C., 1995, Estilio eruptivo actual del Volcan Rincón de la Vieja: evidencias de las productos de las erupciones de 1966-70 y 1991-92: Rothschildia, 2 (2): 10-13, Area de conservacion de Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

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

Information Contacts: E. Fernandez, E. Duarte, R. Sáenz, W. Jimenez, and V. Barboza, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica; Georges Boudon, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 4, Place Jussieu, 75252, Paris Cedex 05, France.


Shishaldin (United States) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Shishaldin

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption sends ash plume above 10 km altitude

Based on satellite imagery and pilot reports received by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, an eruption began at 1830 on 23 December. Between 1830 and 2000 on 23 December, pilots reported an ash plume as high as 10.5 km altitude (35,000 feet); prevailing winds carried the plume primarily N and NW. Analysis of a satellite image from 1912 showed a possible small ash plume extending ~50 km NW. Possible very light ashfall was reported at approximately 0130 on 24 December in Cold Bay, 90 km NE; this ash would have been carried by westerly low-altitude winds.

Geologic Background. The beautifully symmetrical volcano of Shishaldin is the highest and one of the most active volcanoes of the Aleutian Islands. The 2857-m-high, glacier-covered volcano is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes along an E-W line in the eastern half of Unimak Island. The Aleuts named the volcano Sisquk, meaning "mountain which points the way when I am lost." A steady steam plume rises from its small summit crater. Constructed atop an older glacially dissected volcano, it is Holocene in age and largely basaltic in composition. Remnants of an older ancestral volcano are exposed on the west and NE sides at 1500-1800 m elevation. There are over two dozen pyroclastic cones on its NW flank, which is blanketed by massive aa lava flows. Frequent explosive activity, primarily consisting of strombolian ash eruptions from the small summit crater, but sometimes producing lava flows, has been recorded since the 18th century.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory.


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — December 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)


Dome building, minor ash eruptions

Although there was relative quiet during October (20:10), during the first 10 days of November three large phreatic eruptions occurred. Each of these eruptions blanketed Plymouth, 4.5 km W of the active vent, with ~2 mm of ash (table 2). Dome growth within the crater started on 16 November, the estimated date when juvenile material first reached the surface, and continued through at least December. Estimates of the dome's rate of growth from 16 November to 6 December were on the order of 0.5 m3/sec.

Table 2. Summary of the daily behavior of Soufriere Hills, 1 November through 11 December 1995. The table omits most geophysical and geodedic observations, however, "eruption signal" refers to seismically determined eruptions, and "mudflow signal" refers to seismically determined mudflows. Courtesy of MVO.

Date Events and Comments (local time)
01 Nov 1995 Ashfall (1129).
02 Nov 1995 Ashfall in Trails, Brodericks, and surrounding areas (0118). Explosions accompanied by light ashfall in Upper Gages and Chances Peak (1923).
03 Nov 1995 Mudflow (0254); Steam-and-ash emissions resulting in light ashfall in Parson's-Amersham and Plymouth (1122). Continued enlargement of Vent 1. Steam-and- ash emission (1122). No major changes in Castle Peak.
04 Nov 1995 Eruption signal (0247), no reported ashfall. Eruption signal; one eruption generated an ash plume reaching 2.5-km high; several millimeters of ash fell in Amersham-Plymouth and S of Plymouth (1725).
05 Nov 1995 Eruption signal (0139), no reported ashfall. Mudflow toward Fort Ghaut (0214). Minor eruption without visible ash or steam (1307). Eruption signal (2030).
06 Nov 1995 Minor mudflow (0410). Increase in the size of Vent 1. Ashfall, light (0347) in crater area and steam plume, 1.5-km high. Eruption signals (1044, 1809), no ashfall.
07 Nov 1995 Eruption signal (0123), no ashfall. Ashfall (0815). Eruption signals (2018, 2358).
08 Nov 1995 Eruption signal (0935).
09 Nov 1995 Ashfall, several millimeters accumulated in areas to the W and SW of the vent (Kinsale, Amersham, Plymouth, and Richmond) (0419).
10 Nov 1995 Eruption signals (0145, 0420, 1348). Plume of ash and steam (1535), 1.5-km high, blown SW.
11 Nov 1995 Mudflows in Gages-Fort Ghaut areas (0548, 0743). Eruption signal (0733), no ash emission.
12 Nov 1995 Eruption signal (0247), no ash emission. Steam emission from several new vents SW of main activity area. Old vent reopened S of Vent 1.
13 Nov 1995 Eruption signal (0600). Minor ash and steam (1603), blown N.
14 Nov 1995 Minor ash-and-steam emission (1610). Continued steam emissions from vents first observed on 12 November. Vent closest to Castle Peak greatly increased in size, surrounded by fresh ash.
15 Nov 1995 Minor ash-and-steam emission (0900-1000). Noise of breaking rocks, small landslides, venting heard from crater.
16 Nov 1995 Poor visibility but felt earthquakes, loud venting, rock-impact sounds, and light ashfall at Chances Peak (1500), with some drifting SW into the Broderick's area.
17 Nov 1995 Episodes of light ashfall in Amersham. Landslides had partially filled the Vent 1 crater. The September dome grew in height and extended toward Chance's Peak. Vigorous steaming at the two vents between Castle Peak and the dome.
18 Nov 1995 Occasional landslides at the edge of Vent 1.
23 Nov 1995 Noises heard from crater (rock breaking and small landslides). CO2 detected in the summit area for the first time.
24 Nov 1995 Noises heard from crater (as above).
26 Nov 1995 Confirmed emergence of a new spine adjacent to the September spine and close to Castle Peak.
28 Nov 1995 Sound of breaking rocks heard from crater.
29 Nov 1995 Sound of breaking rocks heard from crater.
30 Nov 1995 Confirmed lava dome within Vent 1.
01 Dec 1995 Dome slowly growing in Vent 1 crater; attendant ash emission and rock avalanches. A second area of dome growth identified NW of September spine. Two small ash clouds drifted towards Plymouth.
05 Dec 1995 Rapid increase in the size of and the number of cracks within the new (26 November) spine. Increased emission of steam and light ash of reddish color.
06 Dec 1995 Lava dome glowing, visible from the airport.
07 Dec 1995 Reddish ashfall (0929) accompanied a small explosion. Continued slow growth of lava dome.
08 Dec 1995 Lava dome had broken along cracks. Deformation continued in the area around the September and November domes. Ash cloud (1025).
09 Dec 1995 About 20 minutes of mudflow signal recorded at Gages seismic station (0434). Explosion with light ashfall (1419, 1520). Dome growth rate slowed.
10 Dec 1995 Mudflow signal recorded at Gages seismic station (2240).
11 Dec 1995 Rusty brown ash eruptions, ashfall W of crater (0910, 1455, 1530, 1604). No major dome growth detected. Steam emitted with variable intensity at a vent close to Castle Peak.

Small rockfalls from the flanks of the new, locally incandescent dome were witnessed on several occasions. During early December, debris from a larger rock avalanche was seen in the moat of English's Crater. As of early January, neither local avalanches nor material liberated during the failure of spines escaped the crater area. The limited mobility of the rock avalanches suggested they were not propelled by gas explosions with great overpressures. Although floods and dilute mudflows were distinguished seismically, no significant debris avalanches or pyroclastic flows occurred.

Heavy rainfall after 11 December may have triggered several small ash emissions, depositing red-brown ash on the upper W-flanks. The ash presumably consisted of non-juvenile material, from rock avalanches sloughing off the new dome, and some hot juvenile ejecta from small explosions vented in or around the new dome.

Although quantitative SO2 flux measurements were lacking, as of early December related damage to vegetation extended ~3 km downwind and 1.5 km laterally. Tree damage was severe on the upper W flank. Gases sampled at three of the established fumaroles (soufrieres) around the volcano showed no change in composition. Although gas and acid aerosol production had been at enhanced levels from mid-November to early December, air sampled in Plymouth during early December contained very little SO2.

Dome growth.Beginning on 30 November, good visibility allowed observers to watch a single dome develop from two smaller bodies (figure 6). One body was NW of the September cryptodome (an intrusion that produces a surficial bulging), and the other at Vent 1. The evolving dome had a rough blocky carapace that initially had some small (

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Topographic map of the crater area at Soufriere Hills showing pre-eruption morphology (thin lines) and new features (bold lines) as of 10 December 1995. Contour interval is 50 feet, values shown are feet x 100 (3.28 feet = 1 m); coordinates shown are UTM. CH indicates Chances Peak; CA indicates Castle Peak. Courtesy of MVO.

A prominent spine on the new dome's E side grew in height until 7 December when it began to collapse. The spine's maximum vertical growth rate was estimated to be 5-8 m/day. Further dome growth at a slower rate occurred until 9-10 December, and slower growth, or a possible halt, continued as late as 13 December. On 13 December a small, radial crack on the N side of the new dome emitted steam and ash for most of the day. At least two columns reached in excess of 500 m above the crater rim.

A new batch of extruded material reached the surface on 15 December. On the 17th, in addition to widespread incandescence radiating from the new dome, observers saw a new ~ 40-m-tall spine. Between the 17th and 20th the spine grew vertically at 7 m/day, and the adjacent dome also rose, but at a slightly slower rate. The spine's growth rate during some undisclosed intervals reached up to 20 m/day. On 17 December observers also saw a narrow crack in the dome within Vent 1 that emitted glowing ejecta. Many small ash releases sent columns up to ~1.1 km above the summit.

During the week ending 27 December, several spines grew 5-10 m/day then subsequently collapsed. One spine had grown to ~15 m higher than Castle Peak (summit elevation ~910 m) prior to failing late on 25 December.

Explosions on 21 December produced a mildly convecting ash cloud that rose ~1.5 km above the volcano. Ash fell to the N, reaching the N portion of the island. Although apparently phreatic events took place in early- to mid-November, this was the most vigorous explosion since then and it may have been driven magmatically. Steam production remained constant during 21-27 December, feeding a plume that sometimes carried small amounts of ash. From 28 December to 3 January there was relative quiet and slow dome growth. Only 3 m of dome growth took place during the week, and for a least a few days after about 1 January, the dome may have ceased growing.

Deformation. Data from two electronic tiltmeters showed no significant changes during the crisis. Despite their stability, around 10 November deformation in the upper part of the volcanic edifice was recorded by EDM and GPS measurements at Castle Peak Dome and Chances Peak. Four days of significant deformation were followed on 15 November by intense seismic activity (see below). These were followed on 17 and 18 November by an upward extension of the dome that formed in September. The dome also appeared to have extended slightly towards Chance's Peak. Although visibility was poor for the next 10 days, glimpses through steam and cloud cover suggested further doming and rock avalanching. These processes influenced a wide area on the NW side of Castle Peak Dome, including the edge of Vent 1.

From mid-November until about mid-December, the rate of deformation remained very low, with daily shortening on the order of a few millimeters along most lines, even those aimed at the presumably less stable upper flanks.

The EDM data for 10-12 December showed lengthening of the lines to Castle Peak—a deflation of the edifice. Around this time, a longer interval of GPS data also showed their lines had lengthened by >1 cm overall (with some shorter-term variability). This rate was equal to or greater than the average rate during the month of October. Late December deformation measurements using GPS and EDM techniques suggested either a return to slight inflation (14-20 December) or stability (21-27 December).

Seismicity. Montserrat seismic activity falls into four categories: 1) tremor, 2) long-period events, 3) volcano-tectonic earthquakes, and 4) regional earthquakes.

After 15 November, elevated seismicity prevailed with relatively few quiet periods. The pattern appeared very similar to that seen in late September associated with the formation of a cryptodome and possibly associated with the later extrusion of a spine. The elevated seismicity was inferred to be due to a high-level magmatic intrusion.

After 27 November there was a loss of discreet, locatable events. Low-amplitude tremor became intermixed with intervals of intense, low-amplitude, long-period events; these arrived at rates of up to 5/minute but were recorded only on the closest seismic station (MGAT, Upper Gages, figure 7). In early December tremor increased somewhat at other stations farther from the crater (MLGT, Long Ground, and MBCT, Bethel); at this time amplitudes of events at Gages also increased and the RSAM seismic index rose as high as it has been since 15 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Montserrat seismic stations and epicenters shown in map and cross-section views, 10 December 1995. The intersection of the two cross sections is indicated by an asterisk. Epicenters are shown with two symbols, indicating variations in data quality (square, A and B quality; cross, C and D quality). Stations MSAT and MPVF were off line; MVPZ and MSSZ were 3-component stations. Courtesy of MVO.

Until 9 December there were also small, frequent, long-period earthquakes. These were accompanied by low-to-variable amplitude tremor at the Gages station, but tremor disappeared from all other stations by 8 December. The number of locatable earthquakes dropped to 1-2/day, the lowest observed during this crisis. Located earthquakes were mostly volcano-tectonic and at slightly greater depths (0-5 km) than the long-period and hybrid-type earthquakes that had dominated since 24 November. High-amplitude, high-frequency tremor was recorded at station MGAT for several hours during 10-11 December; this was probably due to an increase in steam venting from several areas on Castle Peak.

The dome grew during the week ending on 13 December, with few accompanying earthquakes early on 6 December. In contrast, during 14-20 September there were 2-20 locatable earthquakes/day, many with epicenters along the N flanks at depths of 0-6 km. During the week ending on 20 December all stations registered earthquakes with emergent onsets and a dominant frequency of 2.2 Hz; these took place 5-15 times/day. Some of the earthquakes corresponded to small explosions. Heavy rains on 16-19 December triggered floods and dilute mudflows who's acoustic signals were detected by the seismic network.

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: MVO, Plymouth; Seismic Research Unit, UWI.


St. Helens (United States) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

St. Helens

United States

46.2°N, 122.18°W; summit elev. 2549 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity decreases without any explosive activity

During October-December there were no explosions or gas-and-ash emissions from the lava dome, and no explosion-like seismicity was detected. Surveys of the lava dome indicated that deformation rates have remained at background levels. No increase in deformation of the dome occurred as a consequence of the recent earthquake activity, but the NW side of the dome continued to move downward very slowly as it has since a series of small explosions between 1989 and 1991. Periods of intense rainfall in November generated several lahars from the crater. All of the lahars were detected by the USGS real-time acoustic-flow network and probably flowed into Spirit Lake. Such lahars are common during intense rainfall following the dry summer months.

The number of small-magnitude (M <1) earthquakes beneath the crater decreased slowly from nearly 100/month in September (BGVN 20:09) to ~25/month in December. Seismicity at the end of December was similar to the first 6 months of 1995. The gradual decrease in seismicity, combined with the lack of small explosions related to the September increase, has lowered the concern of scientists monitoring the volcano. Small dome explosions are still possible, but their likelihood is no greater early in 1995.

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

Information Contacts: Dan Dzurisin, Cascades Volcano Observatory, U.S. Geological Survey, 5400 MacArthur Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98661 USA (URL: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/); Steve Malone, Geophysics Program, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 USA (URL: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo/ home.html).


Stromboli (Italy) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Low-level ash plumes and lava fountains during September-October

In contrast to very intense activity seen in summer-autumn 1994, Boris Behncke noted that activity remained low from early 1995 through October. The low level of activity, also shown by seismic data acquired by the University of Udine (see recent Bulletins), was interpreted by some researchers as a possible precursor of a more powerful eruption in the near future, resulting in a warning and access restrictions in April-May.

Eruptions during August-October produced low lava fountains and ash plumes. Activity from vent 3/1 (figure 46) consisted of night glow and spatter ejections, at times throwing bombs outside the crater. Vent 1/1 had periods of vigorous lava fountaining, often dropping incandescent bombs on the Sciara del Fuoco, particularly in early September. During dry weather, a dense gas plume often formed a hazy layer at 850-900 m altitude that extended for tens of kilometers.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Map of the crater terrace at Stromboli, 19-20 September 1995, showing active vents. The map was produced using EDM and triangulation measurements. Vent numbering is consistent with sketch maps from April 1995 (BGVN 20:04). Courtesy of Andy Harris and Nicki Stevens.

During a 19-20 September visit by Andy Harris and Nicki Stevens, activity was observed from five vents (figure 47). A 4-m-diameter vent in the side of a hornito (1/4), had incandescent walls and an internal temperature of 940°C, as measured with a Minolta/Land Cyclops 152 infrared (0.8-1.1 µm) thermometer. Gas-jet eruptions from this vent sent incandescent gas and minor ejecta ~50 m high. Regular explosions from vents 1/2 and 3/2 ejected bombs and brown ash clouds up to ~100 m. Seven eruptions during a 90-minute period from vent 2/1 sent bombs to a height of ~50 m. No explosions were seen from vent 3/1, but it exhibited continuous night glow and apparently quietly ejected a few bombs to no more than 10 m above the crater rim.

Observations by Behncke on 28-29 September showed that craters 2 and 3 had not changed significantly since a visit on 20 April (BGVN 20:04). Vent 3/1 showed fluctuating glow at night but had no ejections. Vent 3/2 had very weak emissions of reddish ash every 5-20 minutes. Crater 1 had been largely filled with small spatter cones during the summer of 1994, but their destruction began with a powerful phreatic explosion on 5 March 1995 (BGVN 20:04). However, the twin cones (1/4 & 5) in vent area 1/3 remained. Neither of them had erupted after September/October 1994, but an incandescent vent (~10 m wide) at the SE base of the SW cone (1/4) had brief noisy gas explosions that emitted a diffuse incandescent gas cloud.

Vigorous eruptions observed by Behncke from vent 1/1 ejected black ash plumes that occasionally rose >100 m. After dark, incandescent ejections were seen, and loud roaring noises were audible. Reports by other observers in early October disclosed continuing low-level eruptions from vents 1/1 and 3/2 and incandescence from vents 1/3 and 3/1. In addition to the vents active in September, a vent behind the twin cones in Crater 1 and a vent in the NW part of Crater 3 were active when observed by Open University geologists on 15 and 30 October.

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: Boris Behncke and Giada Giuntoli, Department of Volcanology and Petrology, GEOMAR, Wischhofstr. 1-3, 24148 Kiel, Germany; Andy Harris, Department of Earth Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, United Kingdom; Nicki Stevens, ESSC, University of Reading, P.O. Box 227, Reading RG2 2AB, United Kingdom.


Suwanosejima (Japan) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued minor eruptive activity throughout much of 1995

Eruptive activity took place from March to June and from August to December 1995. Some ashfalls were observed at a village 4 km SSW of the crater. The two historically active summit craters and typically have Strombolian eruptions.

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


Tokachidake (Japan) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Tokachidake

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Gradual increase in the number of seismic events

During the second half of December, the number of earthquakes gradually increased, totalling 103 for the month. Consisting of a NE-SW aligned group of stratovolcanoes, Tokachi has a record that includes a partial cone collapse in 1925 that led to ~144 deaths and 5,000 homes destroyed.

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.


Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

Ulawun

Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Modest degassing

During October-December emissions generally consisted of moderate-to-high amounts of white vapor. Gray emissions were also reportedly observed on three days in October and a number of days in November. Seismic activity was very low in October-November and unreported for December.

Geologic Background. The symmetrical basaltic-to-andesitic Ulawun stratovolcano is the highest volcano of the Bismarck arc, and one of Papua New Guinea's most frequently active. The volcano, also known as the Father, rises above the north coast of the island of New Britain across a low saddle NE of Bamus volcano, the South Son. The upper 1000 m is unvegetated. A prominent E-W escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and E flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side, and a flank lava-flow complex lies to the south of this valley. Historical eruptions date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions were mildly explosive until 1967, but after 1970 several larger eruptions produced lava flows and basaltic pyroclastic flows, greatly modifying the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Ben Talai, H. Patia, D. Lolok, and C. McKee, RVO.


Veniaminof (United States) — December 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)


Minor steam and ash emissions in November

On 15 November, residents of Perryville, ~30 km S, heard rumblings and booms through the early evening. They also observed minor ash emission, as well as increased steaming. Minor steam and ash emission was again observed on 30 November. Veniaminof was obscured by clouds on satellite imagery of 15 November, and no hot spot was visible during the last week of the month. Low-level eruptive activity has been intermittent since July 1993 (BGVN 18:07).

Geologic Background. Massive Veniaminof volcano, one of the highest and largest volcanoes on the Alaska Peninsula, is truncated by a steep-walled, 8 x 11 km, glacier-filled caldera that formed around 3700 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.


White Island (New Zealand) — December 1995 Citation iconCite this Report

White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 321 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Sub-crater divides collapse, but no eruptive activity

The following summarizes observations between August and December 1995 made by pilot R. Fleming and IGNS scientists. No significant eruptive activity has occurred since minor ash emissions on 28-29 June (BGVN 20:07).

A new 30-m-diameter crater was noted on 12 August in the area of the May '91 embayment. It had destroyed a large fumarole and was ejecting mud at intervals of 2-5 seconds. By 3 October, Wade, TV1, and Princess craters were joined in a single lake, following the failure of their divides. On 13 November the rising lake level was encroaching on the area of fumaroles and hot ground. Several new fumarolic vents were noted 20-30 m above the lake level. No more crater changes were observed through 12 December. Very little seismicity was recorded: low-frequency tremor accompanied the formation of the 12 August vent. Seismicity revealed no evidence of eruptive activity since 28-29 June.

Ground deformation and magnetic surveys continued to record trends indicative of future eruptive activity. Inflation was localized in the Donald Mound area, in contrast with the earlier pattern of crater-wide inflation between November 1994 and July 1995. Inflation is occurring at a much greater rate than that observed before the 1976 eruption. Magnetic decreases under Donald Mound and on the NE side of the 1978/90 Crater Complex indicate shallow heating. Other indicators like heatflow and gas chemistry do not suggest an incipient eruption. Fumarole temperatures remain relatively low, and gas samples from fumaroles were richer in water than in the past, consistent with the rise of the water table. However, the influence of the rising water level and its possible masking effects remain uncertain.

Geologic Background. Uninhabited 2 x 2.4 km White Island, one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes, is the 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 summit crater appears to be breached to the SE, because the shoreline corresponds to the level of several notches in the SE crater wall. Volckner Rocks, four sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NNE. Intermittent moderate phreatomagmatic and strombolian eruptions have occurred throughout the short historical period beginning in 1826, but its activity also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. Formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries has produced 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.

Information Contacts: B.J. Scott, Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (IGNS), Private Bag 2000, Wairakei, New Zealand.

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.

View Atmospheric Effects Reports

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

View Special Announcements Reports

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


Central Chile and Argentina


Estero de Parraguirre


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

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

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

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



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

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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


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

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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