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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

Tinakula (Solomon Islands) Thermal anomalies in satellite data December 2018-June 2019; ship visit January 2019

Piton de la Fournaise (France) Eruptive episodes in February-March and June 2019; multiple fissures and lava flows

Semeru (Indonesia) Decreased activity after October 2018

Heard (Australia) Thermal hotspots continue during October 2018-March 2019 at the summit and on the upper flanks

Dukono (Indonesia) Numerous ash explosions from October 2018 through March 2019

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Occasional weak phreatic explosions continue through February 2019

Turrialba (Costa Rica) Frequent passive ash emissions continue through February 2019

San Cristobal (Nicaragua) Weak ash explosions in January and March 2019

Semisopochnoi (United States) Minor ash explosions during September and October 2018

Asosan (Japan) Multiple brief ash emission events during April and May 2019; minor ashfall in adjacent villages

Nyamuragira (DR Congo) Lava lake reappears in central crater in April 2018; activity tapers off during April 2019

Tengger Caldera (Indonesia) New explosions with ash plumes from Bromo Cone mid-February-April 2019



Tinakula (Solomon Islands) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Tinakula

Solomon Islands

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal anomalies in satellite data December 2018-June 2019; ship visit January 2019

Remote Tinakula lies 100 km NE of the Solomon Trench at the N end of the Santa Cruz Islands, which are part of the country of the Solomon Islands located 400 km to the W. It has been uninhabited since an eruption with lava flows and ash explosions in 1971 when the small population was evacuated (CSLP 87-71). The nearest communities live on Te Motu (Trevanion) Island (about 30 km S), Nupani (40 km N), and the Reef Islands (60 km E); residents occasionally report noises from explosions at Tinakula. Ashfall from larger explosions has historically reached these islands. The most recent eruptive episode was a large ash explosion and substantial SO2 plume during 21-26 October 2017; satellite imagery suggested that a flow of some type traveled down the scarp on the W flank. Renewed thermal activity that was recognized in satellite imagery beginning in December 2018 continued intermittently through June 2019 and is covered in this report. Satellite imagery and thermal data are the primary sources of information for this volcano. It is occasionally visited by members of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) of the Solomon Islands Government, tourists, and research vessels who are able to capture ground-based information.

Satellite images from December 2018 to February 2019 show thermal anomalies at the summit vent. Excellent ship-based photographs of the island on 24-25 January 2019 provided by a crewmember from the R/V Petrel identify numerous volcanic features and show a steam-and-gas plume at the vent. Satellite images from April and May 2019 show thermal anomalies at both the summit vent and along the W flank scarp suggesting flow activity during that time.

A stream of incandescence on the NW flank of Tinakula in a Sentinel 2 satellite image on 24 October 2017 confirmed that some type of high-temperature flow accompanied the explosions and eruptive activity of 21-25 October 2017 (BGVN 43:02). Satellite imagery during most of 2018 recorded steam plumes drifting in several directions from the summit, but no thermal activity (figure 24). There was no further evidence of activity in satellite visible or thermal data until almost exactly one year later when the MIROVA project recorded two thermal alerts in the third week of October 2018 (figure 25). Satellite images from that week were cloudy and did not confirm any surface activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of Tinakula provides valuable information about activity at this remote volcano in the South Pacific. A large explosion with ash plumes and flows occurred during 21-26 October 2017. Top left: a strong E-W linear thermal anomaly suggesting a flow event from the summit was evident on the NW flank on 24 October 2017. Top right: a small steam plume rose from the summit vent on a cloudless 11 February 2018. Bottom left: a dense steam plume drifted SE from the summit vent on 4 September 2018. Bottom right: clouds and dense steam obscure the summit on 24 October 2018, about the same time that MIROVA reported a thermal anomaly. Top left image uses bands 12, 11, 8A, others use 12, 4, 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. The MIROVA project recorded the first thermal anomaly in a year from Tinakula during the third week of October 2018. Courtesy of MIROVA.

The first satellite imagery confirming renewed thermal activity appeared on 8 December 2018, around the same time as a small MIROVA anomaly. After that, several images during January and February 2019 confirmed moderately strong thermal activity at the summit (figure 26). Whether the anomalies were the result of active lava effusion or strong incandescent gases from the summit vent is uncertain.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Thermal anomalies at the summit vent of Tinakula were recorded six times between early December 2018 and early February 2019 with Sentinel-2 satellite images. Top row: 8 December 2018 and 2 January 2019. Middle row: 12 (anomaly is just below date) and 27 January 2019. Bottom row: 1 and 6 February 2019. All images are bands 12, 4, 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Visual confirmation of activity at Tinakula is rare, but the research vessel R/V Petrel sailed past the volcano on 24 and 25 January 2019 and a crewmember provided detailed images of the W flank and vent area. The summit vent is located at the top of a W facing scarp, and steam is frequently observed rising from the vent (figures 27). Recent flows and volcaniclastic deposits were visible in the ravine on the W flank (figures 28 and 29). Fresh-looking lava was also visible near the summit vent on top of older deposits (figure 30). Eroded volcaniclastic deposits near the base of the scarp on the W flank were visible on top of older veined and layered volcanic rocks (figure 31). Crewmembers on the vessel R/V Petrel could clearly see an incandescent glow from the summit crater at night (figure 32).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. A view from the SW of the W flank of Tinakula on 24-25 January 2019. The summit vent is at the top of a W facing scarp, the steam plume drifted E. Used with permission from Paul G Allen's Vulcan Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. The W flank of Tinakula as seen from the W on 24-25 January 2019. The steam plume drifted E. Recent flows and volcaniclastic deposits appeared dark in the steep ravine on the W face (left side). Used with permission from Paul G Allen's Vulcan Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Steam and gas rose from the summit vent at Tinakula on 24-25 January 2019. Recent lava deposits are visible in front of the plume and in the ravine on the left (the W flank). Used with permission from Paul G Allen's Vulcan Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. The edge of the summit vent of Tinakula on 24-25 January 2019 had recent lava on older deposits; steam and gas is rising from the vent in the background. Used with permission from Paul G Allen's Vulcan Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. The W flank of Tinakula on 24-25 January 2019. Eroded volcaniclastic deposits overlie older veined and layered volcanic rocks. Used with permission from Paul G Allen's Vulcan Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Incandescence was clearly visible from the summit vent at Tinakula on 24-25 January 2019. Used with permission from Paul G Allen's Vulcan Inc.

During April and May 2019, both the MIROVA project and MODVOLC measured a number of thermal anomalies (figure 33) using MODIS satellite data. MODVOLC alerts were issued on 4 and 20 April, and 11, 18, and 27 May. Sentinel-2 satellite images during the period confirmed that a flow on the W flank was a likely source of the thermal energy in addition to the summit vent (figure 34). Thermal anomalies appeared again at the end of June in MIROVA data, but no satellite images showed anomalies at that time.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. The number and intensity of MIROVA thermal anomalies increased at Tinakula during April and May 2019. After a short pause, they returned at the end of June. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Sentinel-2 satellite images captured thermal anomalies at the summit and on the W flank of Tinakula during April and May 2019 suggesting the presence of an incandescent flow down the W scarp. Top row: 7 and 22 April 2019 (bands 12, 8, 4). Bottom row: 27 April and 12 May 2019 (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

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


Piton de la Fournaise (France) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Piton de la Fournaise

France

21.244°S, 55.708°E; summit elev. 2632 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruptive episodes in February-March and June 2019; multiple fissures and lava flows

Short pulses of intermittent eruptive activity have characterized Piton de la Fournaise, the large basaltic shield volcano on La Réunion Island in the western Indian Ocean, for several thousand years. For the last 20 years, frequent effusive basaltic eruptions have occurred on average twice per year. The activity is characterized by lava fountains and lava flows, and occasional explosive eruptions that shower blocks over the summit area and produce ash plumes. Almost all of the recent activity has occurred within the Enclos Fouqué caldera, although past eruptions in 1977, 1986, and 1998 have occurred at vents outside of the caldera. Four separate eruptive episodes were reported during 2018; from 3-4 April, 27 April-1 June, 13 July, and 15 September-1 November (BGVN 43:12, 43:09). Two episodes from 2019 during February-March and June are covered in this report, with information provided primarily by the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF) as well as satellite instruments.

Piton de la Fournaise experienced two eruptions during November 2018-June 2019. The first lasted from 18 February to 10 March 2019, and the second episode was 11-13 June. The episode in February-March started consisted of multiple fissures opening on the E flank of the Dolomieu crater on 18 February with lava flows that traveled several hundred meters. After a brief pause, one new fissure opened nearby on 19 February and produced up to 3 million m3 of lava in a little over four days. Although the flow rate then declined, the eruption continued until 10 March. During the last three days, 7-10 March, two new fissures opened nearby and produced large volumes of lava, bringing the total eruptive volume to about 14.5 million m3. After little activity during April and May, a small eruption occurred on the SSE outer slope of Dolomieu crater that lasted for about 48 hours on 11-13 June; multiple small flows traveled about 1,000 m down the steep flank before ceasing. The MIROVA thermal anomaly graph of log radiative power clearly showed the abruptness of the beginning and ends of the last three eruptive episodes at Piton de la Fournaise from August 2018 through June 2019 (figure 165).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 165. The MIROVA graph of thermal energy from Piton de la Fournaise from 30 July 2018 through June 2019 shows the last three eruptive episodes at the volcano. From 15 September through 1 November 2018 fissures and flows were active on the SW flank of Dolomieu crater near Rivals crater (BGVN 43:12). Fissures opened on the E flank of the crater on 18 February 2019, and after a brief pause resumed on 19 February at the foot of Piton Madoré. Lava flows remained active until 10 March 2019. A short episode of lava effusion occurred on 11-12 June 2019 on the SSE outer slope of Dolomieu crater. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during November 2018-March 2019. Following the end of the 15 September-1 November 2018 eruption, seismic activity immediately below the summit remained low (with only 20 shallow and two deep earthquakes during November). The inflationary signal recorded since the beginning of September stopped, and the OVPF deformation networks did not record any significant deformation. There were 35 shallow earthquakes (0-2 km depth) below the summit crater during December, and one deep earthquake. Only 12 shallow earthquakes and one deep earthquake (greater than 2 km below the surface) were reported in January.

OVPF reported an increase in CO2 concentrations beginning in December 2018, and noted the beginning of inflation on 13 February 2019. A seismic swarm of 379 earthquakes accompanied by minor but rapid deformation (less than 1 cm) was reported on 16 February 2019. A new seismic swarm of 208 earthquakes began early on 18 February with a much larger ground deformation (10 cm of elongation of the summit zone). A volcanic tremor indicative of the arrival of magma near the surface began at 0948 that morning. Webcams indicated that eruptive fissures had opened in the NE part of the Enclos Fouqué caldera. The onset of the eruption was marked by a sudden drop in CO2 flux which then stabilized. The eruptive sites were confirmed visually around 1130. Three fissures with actively flowing lava opened on the E flank of Dolomieu Crater; the fountains of lava were less than 30 m high. The front of the longest flow had reached 1,900 m elevation after one hour. The eruption lasted a little over 12 hours and was over by 2200 that evening; it covered about 150-200 m of the hiking trail to the summit.

Seismicity remained high after the event ended, and at 1500 on 19 February 2019 another seismic swarm of 511 deep earthquakes located under the E flank at about 2.5 km depth occurred. It was not accompanied by a significant amount of deformation. At 1710 tremor signals appeared on the observatory seismographs and the first gas plumes and lava ejection were observed at 1750 and 1912, respectively. During an overflight the next day (20 February), OVPF team members observed the new eruptive site at an elevation of 1,800 m at the foot of Piton Madoré. One fissure and one fountain were active at 0620 on 20 February and the flow front was at 1,300 m elevation (figure 166). During the night of 20-21 February the flow front crossed over the "Grandes Pentes" area in the eastern half of the Enclos Fouque (figure 167).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 166. The eruption which began on 19 February 2019 on the E flank of Dolomieu crater at Piton de la Fournaise produced a lava fountain and flow which traveled down at least 500 m of elevation by the next morning when this photo was taken at 0620 local time. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du mercredi 20 février 2019 à 11h00, Heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 167. The active fissure at Piton de la Fournaise was producing lava fountains and an active flow during the evening of 20 February 2019. Overnight the flow crossed over the "Grandes Pentes" area of the caldera. Photo courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 21 février 2019 à 14H00, Heure locale).

OVPF reported on 22 February 2019 that 22 shallow earthquakes had been reported since the eruption began on 19 February. Surface flow rates estimated from satellite data, via the HOTVOLC system (OPGC - University of Auvergne), were between 2.5 and 15 m3/s. The quantity of lava emitted between 19 and 22 February was between 1 and 3 million m3. OVPF observed the growth of an eruptive cone that was filled with a small lava lake producing ejecta during a morning overflight on 22 February. A channelized flow moved downstream from the cone and split into two lobes about 1 km from (and 200 m below) the cone (figure 168). The split in the flow occurred near the Guyanin crater. The N flowing lobe, about 50 m wide, had an actively flowing front located at 1,320 m elevation; the incandescent flow was travelling over a recent flow (likely from the previous night). The S-flowing lobe spread to 200 m wide and split into two tongues 300 m SE of Guyanin crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 168. During an overflight on the morning of 22 February 2019 scientists from OVPF observed a growing spatter cone with a small lava lake at Piton de la Fournaise. A channelized flow moved downstream from the fissure and split into two flows. Photo courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 22 février 2019 à 13h30, Heure locale).

Incandescent ejecta from the cone was captured in a webcam image overnight on 22-23 February 2019 (figure 169). The rate of advance of the flow slowed significantly by 24 February, but the intensity of the eruptive tremor remained relatively constant. Mapping of the lava flow on 28 February carried out by the OI2 platform (OPGC - University Clermont Auvergne) from satellite data confirmed the slow progress of the flow after 24 February (300 m in 5 days) (figure 170). The flow front was located at 1,200 m elevation, and only the N arm was active; the lava had traveled about 2.2 km from the vent by 28 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 169. Incandescent ejecta from the eruptive cone at Piton de la Fournaise was captured in the webcam in the early hours of 23 February 2019. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du samedi 23 février 2019 à 13h30, Heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 170. Contours of the lava flows at Piton de la Fournaise from 18-28 February 2019 were determined from satellite data by the OI2 platform (Université Clermont Auvergne), dated 18 (red) and 19 (blue) February (top image); 20 (green), 21 (red), 22 (blue), 27 (turquoise), and 28 (pink) February (bottom image). Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP. Top: Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 22 février 2019 à 13h30 (Heure locale); bottom: Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 28 février 2019 à 16h30 (Heure locale).

Between 28 February and 1 March 2019 a third lobe of lava appeared flowing NE from the vent on the N side of the new flow area; it split into two lobes sometime on 1 March. Very little new lava was recorded on the other lobes. By 4 March the flow rate estimated by satellite data was about 7.5 m3/s. During a site visit on the morning of 5 March OVPF scientists sampled the N lobe of the flow and bombs and tephra near the cone, and acquired infrared and visible images. They noted the continued growth of the cone which still had an open vent at the summit and a base 100 m in diameter. It was 25 m high with a 50-m-wide eruptive vent at the top (figure 171). High-temperature gas emissions and strong Strombolian activity issued from the vent. Steam emissions were present around the base of the cone, suggesting the presence of lava tunnels. A single lobe of lava flowed N from the cone.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 171. The eruptive cone at Piton de la Fournaise on 5 March 2019 had a 100-m-diameter base, 25 m of vertical height, and 50-m-wide vent at the summit. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP, (Bulletin d'activité du mardi 5 mars 2019 à 17h30, Heure locale).

A new fissure that opened about 150 m from the main vent on the NW flank of Piton Madoré was first observed on the morning of 6 March (figure 172); OVPF concluded that it had opened late on 5 March. A small cone was forming and a new flow traveled N from the main eruptive site. At least six new emission points were noted the following morning (7 March) around the Piton Madoré. Poor weather prevented confirmation by aerial reconnaissance that day, but in a site visit on 8 March OVPF scientists determined that the new fissure from 5 March remained active; a small cone about 10 m high had two flow lobes on the W and N sides (figure 173). A fissure that opened on 7 March was located 300 m S of the 19 February vent and oriented E-W. It was very active on the morning of 8 March with two 50-m-high lava fountains (figure 174). Samples collected by OVPF indicated that the vents of 5 and 7 March produced lava of different compositions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 172. A new fissure that opened about 150 m from the main vent on the NW flank of Piton Madoré at Piton de la Fournaise was first observed on the morning of 6 March 2019; OVPF concluded that it had opened late on 5 March. A small cone was forming on the flank of an old one and a new flow traveled N from the main eruptive site. Courtesy of OVPF/IPGP, copyright by Helicopter Coral (Bulletin d'activité du jeudi 7 mars 2019 à 15h00 Heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 173. The 5 March 2019 fissure at Piton de la Fournaise on the NW flank of Piton Madoré still had two active flow lobes emerging from it and heading N and W on 8 March 2019. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory, March 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 174. A fissure that opened on 7 March 2019 at Piton de la Fournaise was located 300 m S of the 19 February vent and oriented E-W. It was very active on the morning of 8 March 2019 with two 50-m-high lava fountains. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory, March 2019).

There was a strong increase in the eruptive tremor intensity on 7 March, related to the opening of the two new fissures on 5 and 7 March (figure 175). As a result, the surface flow estimates made from satellite data increased significantly to high values greater than 50 m3/s, with the average values on 7-8 March of around 20-25 m3/s. The increased flow rates resulted in the flows traveling much greater distances. By the morning of 9 March the active flow had reached 650-700 m above sea level. The flow front had traveled about 1 km in 24 hours. Strong seismicity had been increasing under the summit zone for the previous 48 hours. After a phase of very strong surface activity observed overnight on 9-10 March that included lava fountains 50-100 m high (figure 176), surface activity ceased around 0630 on 10 March, and seismic activity decreased significantly. OVPF noted that sudden increases in seismicity and flow rates near the end of an eruption have occurred at about half of the eruptions at Piton de la Fournaise in recent years. Lava volumes emitted on the surface between 18 February and 10 March 2019 were estimated at about 14.5 million m3 (figure 177).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 175. An infrared view of the eruptive site on the E flank of Dolomieu crater at Piton de la Fournaise on 8 March 2019 clearly showed the original fissure from 19 February (bottom right of center), the fissure on Piton Madore that opened on 5 March (right) and the fissures that opened on 7 March (upper, right of center). The combined activity produced significant thermal and seismic activity at the volcano. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF/IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du vendredi 8 mars 2019 à 17h00, Heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 176. Lava fountains 50-100 m high were the result of very strong surface activity observed overnight on 9-10 March 2019 at Piton de la Fournaise. Surface activity ceased around 0630 on 10 March, and seismic activity decreased significantly. Photo taken on 9 March 2019 around midnight from the RN2. Courtesy of OVPF/IPGP, copyright by A. Finizola LGSR/IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du dimanche 10 mars 2019 à 19h30 Heure locale).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 177. A sudden increase in the flow rate at the end of the 18 February-10 March 2019 eruption at Piton de la Fournaise was recorded by researchers at the Université Clermont Auvergne. OVPF noted this was typical of about half of the eruptions at Piton de la Fournaise. Courtesy of OVPF/IPGP, copyright by HOTVOLC, Université Clermont Auvergne (OVPF Monthly bulletin of the Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory, March 2019).

Significant SO2 plumes were captured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5-P satellite throughout the 18 February-10 March eruption (figure 178). After the surface eruption ceased, shallow seismicity continued at a lower rate of about 12 earthquakes per day. The end of the eruption (7-10 March) was accompanied by a marked deflation, interpreted by OVPF as the rapid emptying of the magma reservoir. Following the end of the eruption, inflation resumed for the rest of March but then ceased. Seismicity continued at a lower level during April with an average of six shallow earthquakes per day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 178. Multiple days of high DU value SO2 plumes were recorded by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5-P satellite during the 18 February-10 March 2019 eruption at Piton de la Fournaise. Top row: during 18, 21, and 22 February SO2 plumes drifted SE. Middle row: during 23, 24, and 25 February the wind direction changed from SE through S to SW and left a curling trail of SO2. Bottom row: 5, 7, and 8 March showed an increase in SO2 emissions that corresponded with increased seismicity and lava flow output before the eruption ceased.

Activity during May-June 2019. OVPF reported slight inflation near the summit beginning in early May, and an increase in CO2 concentration in the soil near Plaine des Cafres and Plaine des Palmistes. Strong shallow seismicity reappeared on 27 May 2019 and recurred on 30 and 31 May. Two small seismic swarms were measured on 31 May in the early morning. A new seismic swarm beginning at 0603 on 11 June accompanied by rapid deformation suggested a new eruption was imminent. A tremor near the summit area was first noted at 0635 local time; the webcams indicated a plume of gas, but poor visibility prevented evidence of fresh lava. Around 0930 that morning OVPF confirmed that five fissures had opened on the outer SSE slope of Dolomieu crater at elevations ranging from 2480 to 2025 m (figure 179). The flow fronts were not visible due to weather. Lava fountains under 30 m in height and lava flows were present in the three lowest fissures. The flows traveled rapidly down the steep flank of the crater (figure 180).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 179. Around 0930 on the morning of 11 June 2019 OVPF confirmed that five fissures had opened on the outer SSE slope of Dolomieu crater at Piton de la Fournaise at elevations ranging from 2480 to 2025 m. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF-IPGP and Imazpress (Bulletin d'activité du mardi 11 juin 2019 à 11h00).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 180. Thermal imaging of the 11-12 June 2019 eruptive site at Piton de la Fournaise showed multiple streams of lava traveling rapidly down the steep flank from several fissures on 11 June 2019. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF-IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du mardi 11 juin 2019 à 11h00).

The intensity of the eruptive tremor decreased throughout the day, and by 1530 only the lowest elevation fissure was still active (figure 181). The next afternoon (12 June) images in the OVPF webcam located in Piton des Cascades indicated the flow front was at about 1,200-1,300 m elevation. Seismographs indicated that the eruption stopped around 1200 on 13 June. Poor weather obscured visibility of the flow activity. Seismic activity decreased following the eruption, but appeared to increase again beginning on 21 June, with 10 events detected on 30 June. SO2 plumes were recorded in satellite data on 11 and 12 June 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 181. The intensity of the eruptive activity at Piton de la Fournaise on 11 June 2019 decreased throughout the day, and by 1530 only the lowest elevation fissure was still active. Courtesy of and copyright by OVPF-IPGP (Bulletin d'activité du mardi 11 juin 2019 à 17h45 Heure locale).

Geologic Background. The massive Piton de la Fournaise basaltic shield volcano on the French island of Réunion in the western Indian Ocean is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Much of its more than 530,000-year history overlapped with eruptions of the deeply dissected Piton des Neiges shield volcano to the NW. Three calderas formed at about 250,000, 65,000, and less than 5000 years ago by progressive eastward slumping of the volcano. Numerous pyroclastic cones dot the floor of the calderas and their outer flanks. Most historical eruptions have originated from the summit and flanks of Dolomieu, a 400-m-high lava shield that has grown within the youngest caldera, which is 8 km wide and breached to below sea level on the eastern side. More than 150 eruptions, most of which have produced fluid basaltic lava flows, have occurred since the 17th century. Only six eruptions, in 1708, 1774, 1776, 1800, 1977, and 1986, have originated from fissures on the outer flanks of the caldera. The Piton de la Fournaise Volcano Observatory, one of several operated by the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, monitors this very active volcano.

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 14 route nationale 3, 27 ème km, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr); 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/).


Semeru (Indonesia) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Semeru

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Decreased activity after October 2018

The ongoing eruption at Semeru has been characterized by numerous ash explosions and thermal anomalies, but activity apparently diminished in 2018 (BGVN 43:01 and 43:09); this decreased activity continued through at least February 2019. The current report summarizes activity from 24 August 2018 to 28 February 2019.

The Indonesian volcano monitoring agency, Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), reported ongoing daily seismicity, dominated by explosion earthquakes and emission-related events from late November through February (figure 35). Ash plumes resulting in aviation advisories by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) were reported on 4, 6-7, and 19 September, and 12 October 2018. The next significant ash plume reported by the VAAC wasn't until 24 February 2019 (table 23).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Seismicity recorded at Semeru during 28 November 2018-26 February 2019. Plot shows explosion earthquakes ('Letusan'), emission-related events ('Hembusan'), felt earthquakes ('Gempa Terasa'), local tectonic events ('Tektonic Lokal'), and distant tectonic events ('Tektonic Jauh'). Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia.

Table 23. Summary of ash plumes at Semeru during 25 August 2018 through February 2019. The summit is at 3,657 m elevation. Data courtesy of Darwin VAAC.

Date Plume altitude (km) Plume drift Remarks
04 Sep 2018 4.3 W --
06-07 Sep 2018 4.3 SW --
19 Sep 2018 4 SSW Possible ash-and-steam plume.
12 Oct 2018 4.5 W Discrete eruption.
24 Feb 2019 4.3 W Discrete volcanic ash eruption.

Thermal anomalies using MODIS satellite instruments processed by the MODVOLC algorithm were only recorded on 26, 28, and 30 August 2018, and 22 and 31 October 2018. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected numerous hotspots within 5 km of the volcano during August and early September, with a significant decrease in frequency through October (figure 36); only a few scattered hotspots were recorded from November 2018 through February 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. MIROVA plot of thermal anomalies (Log Radiative Power) at Semeru during July 2018-February 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

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


Heard (Australia) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Heard

Australia

53.106°S, 73.513°E; summit elev. 2745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal hotspots continue during October 2018-March 2019 at the summit and on the upper flanks

Heard Island, in the Southern Indian Ocean, includes the large Big Ben stratovolcano and the smaller, apparently inactive, Mt. Dixon. Because of the island's remoteness, satellites are the primary monitoring tool. Big Ben has been active intermittently since 1910, and was active during October 2017-September 2018 (BGVN 43:10). Activity continued during October 2018-March 2019.

Satellite photos using Sentinel Hub showed hotspots every month between October 2018 and March 2019. Because the area was frequently covered by a heavy cloud layer, most of the hotspot signals were partially obscured. Though thermal anomalies are usually seen at summit vents, on 18 October 2018 an anomaly was present about 300 m down the E flank. Similarly, on 1 January 2019, a weak anomaly beginning about 200 m down the NW flank was about 300 m long (figure 40).

The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected three hotspots, two in October and one in early November 2018, all of low radiative power. There were no MODVOLC alert pixels during this period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Sentinel-2 L1C image of Heard Island's Big Ben volcano on 1 January 2019 one summit hotspot and an elongated thermal anomaly to the NW. Scale bar (bottom right) is 200 m. The photo was taken in atmospheric penetration view (bands 12, 11, and 8A), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Heard Island on the Kerguelen Plateau in the southern Indian Ocean consists primarily of the emergent portion of two volcanic structures. The large glacier-covered composite basaltic-to-trachytic cone of Big Ben comprises most of the island, and the smaller Mt. Dixon volcano lies at the NW tip of the island across a narrow isthmus. Little is known about the structure of Big Ben volcano because of its extensive ice cover. The historically active Mawson Peak forms the island's 2745-m high point and lies within a 5-6 km wide caldera breached to the SW side of Big Ben. Small satellitic scoria cones are mostly located on the northern coast. Several subglacial eruptions have been reported in historical time at this isolated volcano, but observations are infrequent and additional activity may have occurred.

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


Dukono (Indonesia) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Dukono

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Numerous ash explosions from October 2018 through March 2019

The eruption at Dukono that began in 1933 has showered the area with ash from frequent explosions (BGVN 43:04, 43:12). The Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), also known as the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), is responsible for monitoring this volcano.

This long-term pattern of intermittent ash explosions continued during October 2018-March 2019, with ash plumes rising to between 1.5 and 2.7 km altitude, or about 300-1,500 m above the summit (table 19). Although meteorological clouds often obscured views, satellite imagery captured typical ash plumes on 28 September 2018 (figure 10) and 5 February 2019 (figure 11). Instruments aboard NASA satellites (TROPOMI and OMPS) detected high levels of sulfur dioxide near or directly above the volcano on multiple days during January-March 2019. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and visitors were warned to remain outside of the 2-km exclusion zone.

Table 19. Monthly summary of reported ash plumes from Dukono for October 2018-March 2019. The direction of drift for the ash plume through each month was highly variable. Data courtesy of the Darwin VAAC and PVMBG.

Month Plume Altitude (km) Notable Plume Drift
Oct 2018 1.5-2.1 --
Nov 2018 1.5-2.1 --
Dec 2018 1.5-2.4 --
Jan 2019 1.8-2.1 --
Feb 2019 1.8-2.7 --
Mar 2019 1.5-2.4 --
Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Satellite image from Sentinel-2 (LC1 natural color) of an ash plume at Dukono on 28 September 2018 with the plume blowing towards the NE. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Satellite image from Sentinel-2 (LC1 natural color) of an ash plume at Dukono on 5 February 2019, with the plume blowing SW. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — April 2019 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)


Occasional weak phreatic explosions continue through February 2019

Intermittent small phreatic explosions from the acid lake of Rincón de la Vieja's active crater has most recently occurred since 2011 (BGVN 42:08, 43:03, and 43:09). This activity continued through at least February 2019. The volcano is monitored by the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), and the information below comes from its weekly bulletins between 18 August 2018 and 28 February 2019. Weather conditions often prevented webcam views and estimates of plume heights. The volcano was in Activity Level 3 throughout the reporting period (volcano erupting, steady state).

According to OVSICORI-UNA, two distinct, 2-minute-long explosions occurred on 31 August 2018 beginning at 0434 and 1305. Several hours after the eruption tremor became continuous but low-frequency long-period (LP) earthquakes ceased. OVSICORI-UNA reported a gas emission late on 7 September. An unconfirmed small phreatic explosion occurred on 11 September at 0634, and another on 17 September at 1014. The seismic record showed continuous background tremor and very sporadic LP earthquakes.

Intermittent background tremor was recorded during the first half of October, along with a few emissions and phreatic explosions. Deformation measurements during October showed a contraction between the N and S of the volcano, with subsidence. On 17 October there was another phreatic explosion, and thereafter tremor disappeared and seismicity decreased. On 23 and 27 October seismic stations signaled additional possible phreatic explosions.

OVSICORI-UNA reported that a series of explosions began at 1945 on 4 November and consisted of at least three 2-minute-long episodes. The next day at 1511 a plume of water vapor and diffuse gas, recorded by a webcam and visible to residents to the N, rose about 100 m above the crater rim and drifted W. On 9 November a 2-minute-long explosion began at 1703. Another explosion on 27 November at 0237 produced a plume of water vapor and gas that rose 600 m above the crater rim and drifted SW. A short 1-minute explosion began at 1054 on 3 December.

Based on OVSICORI-UNA weekly bulletins, activity remained stable in January 2019 with small-amplitude phreatic explosions on 11, 12, and 14 January. More energetic phreatomagmatic explosions on 17 and 20 January produced lahars. Several small-amplitude explosions were detected at the end of the month. During January, a few LPs, no VTs, and intermittent tremor were recorded.

OVSICORI-UNA reported that two small-scale explosions occurred on 1 February, along with possible events at 1906 and 1950 on 5 February and at 0120 on 6 February. An event at 0000 on 6 February was also recorded; the report noted that poor weather conditions prevented visual observations of the crater. On 16 and 17 February strong degassing was observed. No LPs were recorded, but two significant VTs were detected on 17 and 22 February near or under the crater.

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: Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/).


Turrialba (Costa Rica) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Turrialba

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent passive ash emissions continue through February 2019

This report summarizes activity at Turrialba during September 2018-February 2019. During this period there was similar activity as described earlier in 2018 (BGVN 43:09), with occasional ash explosions and numerous, sometimes continuous, periods of gas-and-ash emissions (table 8). Data were provided by the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA).

Table 8. Ash emissions at Turrialba, September 2018-February 2019. Cloudy weather sometimes obscured observations. Maximum plume height is above the crater rim. Information courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Date Time Max plume height Plume drift Remarks
27 Aug-05 Sep 2018 -- 100 m SW, W Continuous gas-and-ash emissions.
06 Sep 2018 -- -- -- Mostly gas, punctuated by small sporadic ash plumes.
10 Sep 2018 1210 300 m NW --
01-13 Sep 2018 -- -- -- Continuous gas-and-ash emissions.
17-18 Sep 2018 -- 300 m SW, NW --
27 Sep 2018 0915 200 m NW --
30 Sep-01 Oct 2018 -- 500 m NW, NE --
03 Oct 2018 -- -- -- Incandescence.
08 Oct 2018 0800 500 m N --
10-16 Oct 2018 -- 1,000 m Various Intermittent emissions; some explosions, including an energetic one on 14 Oct at 1712. Clouds prevented estimate of plume height.
17-23 Oct 2018 -- 200-500 m E, NW, SW Periodic gas-and-ash emissions. Frequent Strombolian events since 5 Oct.
25-30 Oct 2018 -- -- -- Periodic ash emissions when weather conditions allowed observations.
26 Oct 2018 0134 500 m NE Ashfall in neighborhoods of Coronado (San José, 35 km WSW) and San Isidro de Heredia (Heredia, 38 km W).
29 Oct 2018 0231 500 m NW --
30 Oct 2018 1406 500 m W --
24 Oct-01 Nov 2018 -- 500 m -- Continuous emissions.
01-06 Nov 2018 0530-0640 500 m SW --
02 Nov 2018 1523, 1703 500 m -- --
03 Nov 2018 0109 500 m -- Short (2-3 minutes) duration events. Ashfall reported in Coronado.
05 Nov 2018 0620 600 m NW --
06-11 Nov 2018 -- 500 m -- Low-level, continuous gas-and-ash emissions occasionally punctuated by energetic explosions that sent plumes as high as 500 m and caused ashfall in several areas downwind, including Cascajal de Coronado, Desamparados (35 km WSW), San Antonio, Guadalupe (32 km WSW), Sabanilla, San Pedro Montes de Oca, Moravia (31 km WSW), Heredia, and Coronado (San José, 35 km WSW). Weather prevented observations on 12 Nov.
13-19 Nov 2018 -- -- -- Periodic, passive ash emissions visible in webcam images or during cloudy conditions inferred from the seismic data.
22 Nov 2018 0710 100 m W --
23 Nov 2018 -- -- -- Frequent pulses of ash.
23-25 Nov 2018 -- 500 m -- Occasional Strombolian explosions ejected lava bombs deposited near the crater; residents of Cascajal de Coronado reported hearing several booming sounds.
26-27 Nov 2018 -- -- -- Passive emissions with small quantities of ash visible. Minor ashfall in San Jose (Cascajal de Coronado and Dulce Nombre), San Pedro Montes de Oca, and neighborhoods of Heredia.
28 Nov-03 Dec 2018 -- 500 m N, NW, SW Ashfall in Santo Domingo (36 km WSW) on 2 Dec.
05 Dec 2018 -- -- -- Minor emission.
06 Dec 2018 -- -- S Emission.
08 Dec 2018 0749 500 m NW --
09 Dec 2018 -- 1,000 m -- Ashfall in areas of Valle Central.
10 Dec 2018 -- -- -- Emissions periodically observed during periods of clear viewing. Ashfall in Moravia (31 km WSW) and Santa Ana, and residents of Heredia noted a sulfur odor.
11-12 Dec 2018 -- 500 m NW, SW The Tico Times stated some flights were delayed at San Jose airport, 67 km away.
13 Dec 2018 -- -- -- Pulsing ash emissions; ashfall in Guadalupe (32 km WSW) and Valle Central.
14-16 Dec 2018 -- -- W, SW Emissions with diffuse amounts of ash.
05-06 Jan 2019 0815 -- -- Increased after midnight on 6 Jan.
28 Jan-04 Feb 2019 -- -- -- Minor, sporadic ash emissions rose to low heights during most days.
01 Feb 2019 0640 1,500 m NW --
08 Feb 2019 0540 200 m -- Sporadic ash emissions for more than one hour.
11 Feb 2019 -- -- -- Very small ash emission.
13-15 Feb 2019 200-300 m NW, W, SW Almost continuous gas emissions with minor ash content.
15 Feb 2019 1330 1,000 m W --
18 Feb 2019 1310 500 m W --
21 Feb 2019 -- 300 m NW Frequent ash pulses.
22-24 Feb 2019 -- 300 m NW, SW Frequent ash emissions of variable intensity and duration. On 22 Feb ash fell in Santa Cruz (31 km WSW) and Santa Ana, and a sulfur odor was evident in Moravia.
28 Feb 2019 1050 500 m SW Ash pulses.

According to OVSICORI-UNA's annual summary for 2018, a slow decline in activity occurred after the volcano reached its highest emission rate during 2016. Activity during 2018 was consistent with an open system, generating frequent passive ash emissions. The volcano emitted ash on 58% of the days during the year. Some explosions were large enough to eject ballistics more than 400 m around the crater. Typical activity can be seen in a photo from 11 September 2018 (figure 50) and satellite imagery on 7 November 2018 (figure 51).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Photo of an ash explosion at Turrialba taken on 11 September 2018. Courtesy of Red Sismologica Nacional (RSN: UCR-ICE), Universidad de Costa Rica.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Sentinel-2 satellite image of an ash emission from Turrialba on 7 November 2018, taken in natural color (gamma adjusted). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During January into early February 2019, passive ash emissions continued irregularly and with less intensity and duration. Emissions sometimes lacked ash. In their report of 4 February 2019, OVSICORI-UNA indicated that passive ash emissions were weak and slow. For the rest of February, they characterized ash emissions as frequent, but of low intensity.

Seismic activity. On 1 November 2018 OVSICORI-UNA reported that seismicity remained high, and involved low-amplitude banded volcanic tremor along with long-period (LP) and volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes. In late January-early February 2019, OVSICORI-UNA reported that seismicity remained relatively stable, although a small increase was associated with the hydrothermal system. VT earthquakes were absent, and tremors had decreased in both energy and duration. The number of low-frequency LP volcanic earthquakes remained stable, although they had decreasing amplitudes. No explosions were documented, and emissions were weak and had short durations and very dilute ash content.

Thermal anomalies. No thermal anomalies were recorded during the reporting period using MODIS satellite instruments processed by MODVOLC algorithm. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected five scattered hotspots during September-October 2018, none during November-December 2018, and two during January-February 2019. All were within 2 km of the volcano and of low radiative power.

Gas measurements. Significant sulfur dioxide levels near the volcano were recorded by NASA's satellite-borne ozone instruments only on 29 September 2018 (both NPP/OMPS and Aura/OMI instruments) and on 11 February 2019 (Sentinel 5P/TROPOMI instrument). OVSICORI-UNA's gas measuring instruments were compromised in September 2018 through January 2019 due to vandalism. In early February, however, they detected hydrogen sulfide for the first time since 2016.

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

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/); Red Sismologica Nacional (RSN) a collaboration between a) the Sección de Sismología, Vulcanología y Exploración Geofísica de la Escuela Centroamericana de Geología de la Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR), and b) the Área de Amenazas y Auscultación Sismológica y Volcánica del Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Costa Rica (URL: https://rsn.ucr.ac.cr/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://hotspot.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/); 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/); Costa Rica Star (URL: https://news.co.cr); The Tico Times (URL: https://ticotimes.net).


San Cristobal (Nicaragua) — April 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

San Cristobal

Nicaragua

12.702°N, 87.004°W; summit elev. 1745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak ash explosions in January and March 2019

San Cristóbal has produced occasional weak explosions since 1999, with intermittent gas-and-ash emissions. The only reported explosion during the first half of 2018 was on 22 April, the first since November 2017 (BGVN 43:03). The current report covers activity between 1 August 2018 and 1 May 2019. The volcano is monitored by the Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER).

According to INETER, a series of explosions occurred on 9 January 2019 that lasted several hours. INETER stated that one explosion occurred at 1643; the Washington VAAC's first advisory stated that an explosion occurred at 1145 (local time). The weak explosions, which occurred after a period of heightened seismic activity, generated an ash plume that reached 200 m above the edge of the crater and drifted W. The Washington VAAC reported volcanic ash plumes on 10-11 January extending about 92 km SW, and on 24-25 January extending about 185 km WSW. A low-energy explosion was detected by the seismic network at 1550 on 4 March 2019. The event produced a gas-and-ash plume that rose 400 m above the crater rim and drifted SW.

Monitoring data reported by INETER (table 6) showed elevated levels of seismicity during October 2018 through January 2019. Sulfur dioxide was also measured at higher levels in January 2019.

Table 6. Monthly sulfur dioxide measurements and seismicity reported at San Cristóbal during August 2018-March 2019. "Most" indicates that type of seismicity was dominant that month. Data courtesy of INETER.

Month Average SO2 Total earthquakes Degassing-type earthquakes Volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes
Aug 2018 461 t/d 6,464 6,147 251
Sep 2018 893 t/d 9,659 9,586 73
Oct 2018 269 t/d 11,698 3,509 8,189
Nov 2018 -- 19,593 19,586 7
Dec 2018 -- 30,901 -- Most
Jan 2019 1,286 t/d 11,504 Most Very few
Feb 2019 695 t/d 3,470 Most Very few
Mar 2019 -- 3,882 Most Very few

Geologic Background. The San Cristóbal volcanic complex, consisting of five principal volcanic edifices, forms the NW end of the Marrabios Range. The symmetrical 1745-m-high youngest cone, named San Cristóbal (also known as El Viejo), is Nicaragua's highest volcano and is capped by a 500 x 600 m wide crater. El Chonco, with several flank lava domes, is located 4 km W of San Cristóbal; it and the eroded Moyotepe volcano, 4 km NE of San Cristóbal, are of Pleistocene age. Volcán Casita, containing an elongated summit crater, lies immediately east of San Cristóbal and was the site of a catastrophic landslide and lahar in 1998. The Plio-Pleistocene La Pelona caldera is located at the eastern end of the complex. Historical eruptions from San Cristóbal, consisting of small-to-moderate explosive activity, have been reported since the 16th century. Some other 16th-century eruptions attributed to Casita volcano are uncertain and may pertain to other Marrabios Range volcanoes.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua (URL: http://webserver2.ineter.gob.ni/vol/dep-vol.html); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html).


Semisopochnoi (United States) — February 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Semisopochnoi

United States

51.93°N, 179.58°E; summit elev. 1221 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Minor ash explosions during September and October 2018

The remote Semisopochnoi comprises the uninhabited volcanic island of the same name, ~20 km in diameter, in the Rat Islands group of the western Aleutians (figure 1). Plumes had been reported several times in the 18th and 19th centuries, and most recently observed in April 1987 from Sugarloaf Peak (SEAN 12:04). The volcano is dominated by an 8-km diameter caldera that contains a small lake (Fenner Lake) and a number of post-caldera cones and craters. Monitoring is done by the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) using an on-island seismic network along with satellite observations and lightning sensors. An infrasound array on Adak Island, about 200 km E, may detect explosive emissions with a 13 minute delay if atmospheric conditions permit.

On 16 September 2018 increased seismicity was detected at 0831, prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Color Code (ACC) to Yellow and Volcano Alert Level (VAL) to Advisory. Retrospective analysis of satellite data acquired on 10 September revealed small ash deposits on the N flank of Mount Cerberus, possibly associated with two bursts of tremor recorded on 8 September (figure 5). This new information, coupled with intensifying seismicity and a strong tremor signal recorded at 1249 on 17 September, resulted in AVO raising the ACC to Orange and the VAL to Watch. Seismicity remained elevated on 18 September with nearly constant tremor recorded by local sensors. At the same time, no ash emissions were observed in cloudy satellite images and no eruptive activity was recorded on regional pressure sensors at Adak.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Minor ash deposits can be seen on the south and west flanks of the N cone of Mount Cerberus, Semisopochnoi Island, in this ESA Sentinel-2 image from 1200 on 10 September 2018. Also note probable minor steam emissions obscuring the crater of the N cone. Image courtesy of AVO.

During 19-25 September 2018 seismicity remained elevated, alternating between periods of continuous and intermittent bursts of tremor. Tremor bursts at 1319 on 21 September and at 1034 on 22 September produced airwaves detected on a regional infrasound array on Adak Island; no ash emissions were identified above the low cloud deck in satellite data, and the infrasound detections likely reflected an atmospheric change instead of volcanic activity.

Seismicity remained elevated during 3-9 October 2018, with intermittent bursts of tremor. No volcanic activity was detected in infrasound or satellite data. On 11 October satellite data indicated partial erosion of a tephra cone in the crater of Cerberus's N cone. A crater lake about 90 m in diameter filled the vent. The data also suggested that the vent had not erupted since 1 October. Seismicity remained elevated and above background levels. The next day AVO lowered the Aviation Color Code to Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level to Advisory, noting the recent satellite data results and lack of tremor recorded during the previous week. AVO reported that unrest continued during 11-24 October.

An eruptive event began at 2047 on 25 October 2018, identified based on seismic data; strong volcanic tremor lasted about 20 minutes and was followed by 40 minutes of weak tremor pulses. A weak infrasound signal was detected by instruments on Adak Island. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale) and Volcano Alert Level was raised to Watch (the second highest level on a four-level scale). A dense meteorological cloud deck prevented observations below 3 km, but a diffuse cloud was observed in satellite data rising briefly above the cloud deck, though it was unclear if it was related to eruptive activity. Tremor ended after the event, and seismicity returned to low levels.

Small explosions were detected by the seismic network at 2110 and 2246 on 26 October 2018, and 0057 and 0603 on 27 October. No ash clouds were identified in satellite data, but the volcano was obscured by high meteorological clouds. Additional small explosions were detected in seismic and infrasound data during 28-29 October; no ash clouds were observed in partly-cloudy-to-cloudy satellite images.

AVO reported on 31 October 2018 that unrest continued. Two small explosions were detected, one just before 0400 and the other around 1000. Satellite views were obscured by clouds at the time, and no ash clouds were observed. Unrest continued through 1 November, at which time the satellite link and the seismic line failed. On 21 November the ACC was lowered to Yellow and the VAL was lowered to Advisory.

Geologic Background. Semisopochnoi, the largest subaerial volcano of the western Aleutians, is 20 km wide at sea level and contains an 8-km-wide caldera. It formed as a result of collapse of a low-angle, dominantly basaltic volcano following the eruption of a large volume of dacitic pumice. The high point of the island is 1221-m-high Anvil Peak, a double-peaked late-Pleistocene cone that forms much of the island's northern part. The three-peaked 774-m-high Mount Cerberus volcano was constructed during the Holocene within the caldera. Each of the peaks contains a summit crater; lava flows on the northern flank of Cerberus appear younger than those on the southern side. Other post-caldera volcanoes include the symmetrical 855-m-high Sugarloaf Peak SSE of the caldera and Lakeshore Cone, a small cinder cone at the edge of Fenner Lake in the NE part of the caldera. Most documented historical eruptions have originated from Cerberus, although Coats (1950) considered that both Sugarloaf and Lakeshore Cone within the caldera could have been active during historical time.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667 USA (URL: https://avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://dggs.alaska.gov/).


Asosan (Japan) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Multiple brief ash emission events during April and May 2019; minor ashfall in adjacent villages

Japan's 24-km-wide Asosan caldera on the island of Kyushu has been active throughout the Holocene. Nakadake has been the most active of 17 central cones within the caldera for 2,000 years. Historical eruptions have been primarily basaltic to basaltic-andesitic ash eruptions, with periodic Strombolian activity, all from Nakadake Crater 1. The most recent major eruptive episode began in late November 2014 and continued through 1 May 2016. Another eruption, with the largest ash plume in 20 years, occurred on 8 October 2016. Asosan remained quiet until renewed activity from Crater 1 began in mid-April 2019; it is covered in this report, through the end of June 2019. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) provides monthly reports of activity; the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) issues aviation alerts reporting on possible ash plumes.

Asosan remained quiet during 2017 and 2018 with steam plumes rising a few hundred meters from Crater 1 and low levels of SO2 emissions; a warm acidic lake was present within the crater. Fumarolic activity from two areas on the S and SW wall of the crater rim generated occasional thermal anomalies in satellite data and incandescence at night. A brief period of increased seismicity was reported in mid-March 2019. An increase in seismic amplitude on 14 April 2019 preceded a small explosion on 16 April; it produced an ash plume which rose 200 m above the crater rim and drifted NW. It was followed by additional small explosions on 19 April. A new explosion on 3 May produced minor ashfall in adjacent communities; ash emissions were reported multiple times during May with plumes reaching 1,400 m above the crater rim. No additional ash emissions were reported in June.

Activity during 2017 and 2018. JMA reported that no eruptions occurred during 2017. Amplitudes of volcanic tremor increased somewhat during March but were generally low for the rest of the year. The earthquake hypocenters were mostly located near the active crater at around sea level. SO2 emissions were slightly less than 1,000 tons per day (t/d) from January through April; for the rest of the year they ranged from 600 to 2,500 t/d. The Alert Level had been lowered from 2 to 1 on 7 February 2017 where it remained throughout the year. Steam plumes generally rose no more than 600 m above the active crater rim (figure 42). JMA noted that from January to June they often observed crater incandescence at night with a high-sensitivity surveillance camera; Sentinel-2 satellite images also captured thermal anomalies a few times (figure 43). The green lake inside the crater persisted throughout the year with water temperatures of 50-60°C. Two fumaroles were present with high-temperature gas emissions on the SW and S crater walls. Temperatures at the S crater wall were over 600°C from February to May; they decreased to 320-560°C during the rest of the year (figure 44). Sulfur deposits were visible around the SW crater wall fumarole during July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Steam plumes that rose around 600 m above Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan were typical activity throughout 2017. Images taken with JMA webcam on 9 June (top left), 22 August (top right), 12 November (bottom left), and 20 December (bottom right) 2017. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 images captured thermal anomalies at the S rim of the green lake at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 on 16 February (left) and 27 May 2017 (right). JMA reported that incandescence was occasionally visible during the night from January-June from the same area. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. High-temperature gas and steam from fumaroles on the S wall of the Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan on 24 August (top) and 17 November 2017 (bottom) were persistent all year, with temperatures ranging from 300 to over 600°C. The green lake inside the crater persisted throughout the year as well with water temperatures of 50-60°C. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).

The Alert Level did not change at Asosan during 2018, and no eruptions were reported. Sulfur dioxide emissions fluctuated between 400 and 1,800 t/d throughout the year. Steam plumes generally rose less than 500 m above the active crater (figure 45); incandescence was observed at night during May-October and sometimes observed in satellite imagery as thermal anomalies (figure 46). The temperature of the green lake inside the crater ranged from 58 to 75°C throughout the year. The thermal anomaly on the S wall of the crater was consistently in the 300-500°C range, and had a high temperature in April of 580°C; in December the high temperature had risen to 738°C (figure 47). A brief increase in the number of isolated tremors occurred during March, with 1,044 reported on 4 March, exceeding the previous maximum of 1,000 on 27 October 2014. Seismicity also increased briefly during June, with more than 400 events reported each day on 8, 18, and 20 June. The Minami Aso village Yoshioka fumarole zone, located about 5 km W of Nakadake Crater 1, continued to produce modest steam plumes throughout 2017 and 2018 (figure 48).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Typical steam plumes at Asosan during 2018 rose around 500 m above the Nakadake Crater 1. Images are from 4 March (top left), 22 July (top right), 17 August (lower left), and 13 September 2018 (lower right). Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Nighttime incandescence was reported by JMA during May-October 2018 from the S rim of Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan; Sentinel-2 satellite images (bands 12, 4, 2) captured thermal anomalies from the same area numerous times during 2018 including on 16 June (top left), 26 July and 19 September (middle row), and 18 and 23 November (bottom row). JMA photographed incandescence at night on 17 July 2018 at the S fumarole area (top right). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground and JMA (Aso volcano Monthly Report for July 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. The "Green Tea Pond" inside Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan had temperatures that ranged from 58 to 75°C during 2018 (top row, 26 March 2018); the thermal anomaly on the S wall of the crater consistently had temperatures measured in the 300-500°C range and the SW fumarole area had somewhat lower temperatures (bottom row, 22 June 2018). Courtesy of JMA (monthly Asosan reports for March, May, and June 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. The Minami Aso village Yoshioka fumarole zone, located about 5 km W of Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan, continued to produce modest steam plumes throughout 2017 and 2018. It is shown here on 20 December 2017 (top) and 12 March 2018 (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (December 2017 and March 2018 monthly volcano reports).

Activity during 2019. Steam plumes rose to 800 m above the crater rim during January 2019. Overall activity increased slightly during February; SO2 emissions peaked at 2,200 t/d early in the month; they ranged from 800 to 1,800 t/d for most of the month. The amplitude of volcanic tremor also increased slightly during February. A further increase in tremor amplitude on 11 March 2019 prompted JMA to raise the Alert Level from 1 to 2 the following morning. Volcanic tremor amplitude decreased on 15 March; JMA determined that activity had decreased, and the Alert Level was lowered back to 1 on 29 March 2019. The amount of water in the crater decreased significantly between 27 February and 20 March, exposing part of the crater floor.

The surface temperature of the lake rose during the first part of 2019; it was 78°C in February and 84°C in March. Steam plumes rose to 1,200 m above the crater rim during March and April. SO2 emissions rose to 4,500 t/d on 12 March but dropped to a lower range of 1,300-2,400 for the rest of the month. Another surge in SO2 emissions on 12 April 2019 to 3,600 t/d prompted a special report from JMA the following day. SO2 emissions varied from about 1,700 to 4,100 t/d during the month; values remained high during the second half of the month. JMA noted that the color of the water in the lake inside Nakadake Crater 1 changed from green to gray after 4 April. Fountains of muddy water were periodically observed; they reached 15 m high on 9 April. The temperatures of both the lake (82°C) and around the two fumarole areas (S area about 530°C, SW area about 310°C) remained constant during April and similar to March.

A large increase in the amplitude of volcanic tremor early on 14 April 2019 prompted JMA to raise the Alert Level from 1 to 2 later in the day. The epicenters of the earthquakes were very shallow, located within 1 km beneath the crater. A small eruption occurred at 1828 on 16 April at Nakadake Crater 1; it produced a gray and white plume that rose 200 m above the crater rim and was the first eruption since 8 October 2016 (figure 49). Incandescence was observed inside the crater on 3 and 17 April. The amplitude of seismic tremors decreased on 18 April. Three very small eruptions on 19 April produced ash and steam plumes that rose 500 m above the crater rim. During a site visit that day JMA measured a high-temperature area that produced incandescence from the bottom of the crater at night (figure 50).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. The first eruption since October 2016 at Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan on 16 April 2019 sent an ash plume 200 m above the crater rim (top). Incandescent gas appeared on the crater floor the next day (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, April 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Three small explosions on 19 April 2019 at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 produced small ash emissions that rose 500 m above the crater rim (top). A strong thermal signal also appeared from the bottom of the crater. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, April 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).

A new eruption began at 1540 on 3 May that lasted until 0620 on 5 May (figure 51). Initially the ash plume rose 600 m above the crater rim, but a few hours later the volume of ash increased, and the plume reached 2 km above the crater rim for a brief period. Incandescence was visible from the webcam. The Tokyo VAAC reported the ash plume at 3 km altitude drifting SE on 3 May. Later in the day it rose to 3.7 km altitude and drifted SW. During a field survey the following day (4 May) JMA reported a steam and ash plume rising from the center of the active crater. The infrared thermal imaging camera recorded the temperature of the plume at about 500°C (figure 52).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. An explosion at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 on 3 May 2019 produced an ash plume that reached 2 km above the crater rim (top) and incandescence visible from the webcam (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, April 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. During a site visit on 4 May 2019, staff from JMA witnessed an ash and steam plume rising from the bottom of Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan (top). The infrared thermal imaging camera recorded the temperature of the plume at about 500°C (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, May 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).

Ash fell on the S flank, and a small amount of ashfall on 4 May was confirmed by evidence on a car windshield in Takamori Town (6 km S), Kumamoto Prefecture (figure 53). Ashfall was also reported in Takamori-machi, Minami Aso village (9 km SW), and part of Yamato-cho (25 km SW), also in the Kumamoto Prefecture. SO2 emissions were measured as high as 4,000 t/d on 4 May. Additional explosions with ash plumes were reported from Asosan on 9, 12-16, 29, and 31 May; the plumes rose from 200 to 1,400 m above the crater rim but were not visible in satellite imagery. The TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5 satellite captured SO2 plumes on 3 and 26 May 2019 (figure 54).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Ashfall was reported on 4 May 2019 in Takamori Town, Kumamoto Prefecture, from the eruption at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 on 3 May 2019. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, May 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. Plumes of SO2 from Asosan were recorded by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite on 3 (left) and 26 (right) May 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Steam plumes rose to 1,700 m above the crater rim during June 2019 (figure 55). During field visits on 6 and 25 June diffuse ash emissions were observed rising from the center of the active crater, but they did not extend significantly above the crater rim (figure 56). The maximum temperature of the plume was measured at about 340°C with a thermal imaging camera. Almost all of the water in the crater bottom had evaporated since early May; incandescence continued to be observed within the crater at night with the high-resolution webcam (figure 57).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Steam plumes rose to 1,700 m above the crater rim at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 on 10 June 2019. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, June 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Plumes of gas and minor ash were visible at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 during site visits by JMA on 6 (left) and 25 (right) June 2019. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, June 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Incandescent gas was visible from the vent at Asosan's Nakadake Crater 1 on 18 (left) and 25 (right) June 2019. Courtesy of JMA (Aso volcano monthly activity reports, June 2019, Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, Regional volcano monitoring and warning center).

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).


Nyamuragira (DR Congo) — May 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyamuragira

DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E; summit elev. 3058 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake reappears in central crater in April 2018; activity tapers off during April 2019

The Virunga Volcanic Province (VVP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is part of the western branch of the East African Rift System. Nyamuragira (or Nyamulagira), a high-potassium basaltic shield volcano on the W edge of VVP, includes a lava field that covers over 1,100 km2 and contains more than 100 flank cones in addition to a large central crater (see figure 63, BGVN 42:06). A lava lake that had been active for many years emptied from the central crater in 1938. Numerous flank eruptions were observed after that time, the most recent during November 2011-March 2012 on the NE flank. This was followed by a period of degassing with unusually SO2-rich plumes from April 2012 through April 2014 (BGVN 42:06). The lava lake reappeared during July 2014-April 2016 and November 2016-May 2017, producing a strong thermal signature. After a year of quiet, a new lava lake appeared in April 2018, reported below (through May 2019) with information provided by the Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), MONUSCO (the United Nations Organization working in the area), and satellite data and imagery from multiple sources.

Fresh lava reappeared inside the summit crater in mid-April 2018 from a lava lake and adjacent spatter cone. Satellite imagery and very limited ground-based observations suggested that intermittent pulses of activity from both sources produced significant lava flows within the summit crater through April 2019 when the strength of the thermal signal declined significantly. Images from May 2019 showed a smaller but persistent thermal anomaly within the crater.

Activity from October 2017-May 2019. Indications of thermal activity tapered off in May 2017 (BGVN 42:11). On 20 October 2017 OVG released a communication stating that a brief episode of unspecified activity occurred on 17 and 18 October, but the volcano returned to lower activity levels on 20 October. There was no evidence of thermal activity during the month. The volcano remained quiet with no reports of thermal activity until April 2018 (figure 73).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Sentinel-2 satellite images (bands 12, 4, 2) indicated no thermal activity at Nyamuragira on 19 November (top left), 14 December 2017 (top right) and 18 January 2018 (bottom). However, Nyiragongo (about 13 km SE) had an active lava lake with a gas plume drifting SW on 18 January 2018 (bottom right). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

OVG reported the new lava emissions beginning on 14 April 2018 as appearing from both the lava lake and a small adjacent spatter cone (figure 74). The first satellite image showing thermal activity at the summit appeared on 18 April 2018 (figure 75) and coincided with the abrupt beginning of strong MIROVA thermal signals (figure 76). MODVOLC thermal alerts also first appeared on 18 April 2018. An image of the active crater taken on 9 May 2018 showed the lake filled with fresh lava and two adjacent incandescent spatter cones (figure 77).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Fresh lava reappeared at Nyamuragira's crater during April 2018 from the lava lake (left) and the adjacent small spatter cone (right). Courtesy of OVG (Republique Democratique du Congo, Ministere de la Recherche Scientifique, Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma, Direction Generale Goma, Rapport Avril 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. The first satellite image (bands 12, 4, 2) indicating renewed thermal activity at the Nyamuragira crater appeared on 18 April 2018; the signal remained strong a few weeks later on 3 May 2018. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. A strong thermal signal appeared in the MIROVA graph of Log Radiative Power on 18 April 2018 for Nyamuragira, indicating a return of the lava lake at the summit crater. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Fresh lava filled the lake inside the crater at Nyamuragira on 9 May 2018. Two spatter cones were incandescent with gas emissions. Courtesy of OVG (Republique Democratique du Congo, Ministere de la Recherche Scientifique, Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma, Direction Generale Goma, Rapport Mai 2018).

Satellite images confirmed that ongoing activity from the lava lake remained strong during June -September 2018 (figure 78). A mission to Nyamuragira was carried out by helicopter provided by MONUSCO on 20 July 2018; lava lake activity was observed along with gas emissions from the small spatter cone (figure 79). OVG reported increased volcanic seismicity during 1-3 and 10-17 September 2018, and also during October, located in the crater area, mostly at depths of 0-5 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Sentinel-2 satellite images (bands 12, 4, 2) confirmed that ongoing activity from the lava lake at Nyamuragira remained strong during June-September 2018, likely covering the crater floor with a significant amount of fresh lava. Image are from 12 June (top left), 7 July (top right), 17 July (middle left), 22 July (middle right), 11 August (bottom left), and 20 September (bottom right). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. The crater at Nyamuragira on 20 July 2018 had an active lava lake and adjacent incandescent spatter cone with gas emissions. Courtesy of OVG (Republique Democratique du Congo, Ministere de la Recherche Scientifique, Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma, Direction Generale Goma, Rapport Juillet 2018).

Personnel from OVG and MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in DR Congo) made site visits on 11 October and 2 November 2018 and concluded that the level of the active lava lake had increased during that time (figure 80). On 2 November OVG measured the height from the base of the active cone to the W rim of the crater as 58 m (figure 81).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. OVG scientists reported a rise in the lake level between site visits to the Nyamuragira crater on 11 October (top) and 2 November 2018 (bottom). Top image courtesy of MONUSCO and Culture Vulcan, bottom image courtesy of OVG (Republique Democratique du Congo, Ministere de la Recherche Scientifique, Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma, Direction Generale Goma, Rapport Octobre 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. On 2 November 2018 scientists from OVG measured the height from the base of the active cone to the W rim of the crater as 58 m. Courtesy of OVG (Republique Democratique du Congo, Ministere de la Recherche Scientifique, Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma, Direction Generale Goma, Rapport Octobre 2018).

Seismicity remained high during November 2018 but decreased significantly during December. Instrument and access issues in January 2019 prevented accurate assessment of seismicity for the month. The lava lake remained active with periodic surges of thermal activity during November 2018-March 2019 (figure 82). Multiple images show incandescence in multiple places within the crater, suggesting significant fresh overflowing lava.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. The active lava lake at Nyamuragira produced strong thermal signals from November 2018 through March 2019 that were recorded in Sentinel-2 satellite images (bands 12, 4, 2). Several images suggest fresh lava cooling around the rim of the crater in addition to the active lake. A relatively cloud-free day on 19 November 2018 (top left) revealed no clear thermal signal, but a strong signal was recorded on 29 November (top right) despite significant cloud cover. Images from 13 and 28 January 2019 (second row) both showed evidence of incandescent lava in multiple places within the crater. The thermal signal was smaller and focused on the center of the crater on 12 and 27 February 2019 (third row). Images taken on 9 and 19 March 2019 clearly showed incandescent material at the center of the crater and around the rim (bottom row). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

On 12 April 2019 a Ukrainian Aviation Unit supported by MONUSCO provided support for scientists visiting the crater for observations and seismic analysis. Satellite data confirmed ongoing thermal activity into May, although the strength of the signal appeared to decrease (figure 83). MODVOLC thermal alerts ceased after 8 April, and the MIROVA thermal data also confirmed a decrease in the strength of the thermal signal during April 2019 (figure 84).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Sentinel-2 satellite data (bands 12, 4, 2) confirmed ongoing thermal activity at Nyamuragira into May 2019. The thermal anomalies on 18 April (left) and 3 May (right) 2019 were smaller than those recorded during previous months. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity (log radiative power) at Nyamuragira from 16 July 2018 through April 2019 showed near-constant levels of high activity through April 2019 when it declined. This corresponded well with satellite and ground-based observations. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. Africa's most active volcano, Nyamuragira, is a massive high-potassium basaltic shield about 25 km N of Lake Kivu. Also known as Nyamulagira, it has generated extensive lava flows that cover 1500 km2 of the western branch of the East African Rift. The broad low-angle shield volcano contrasts dramatically with the adjacent steep-sided Nyiragongo to the SW. The summit is truncated by a small 2 x 2.3 km caldera that has walls up to about 100 m high. Historical eruptions have occurred within the summit caldera, as well as from the numerous fissures and cinder cones on the flanks. A lava lake in the summit crater, active since at least 1921, drained in 1938, at the time of a major flank eruption. Historical lava flows extend down the flanks more than 30 km from the summit, reaching as far as Lake Kivu.

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; Katcho Karume, Director; 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/); 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/); MONUSCO, United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (URL: https://monusco.unmissions.org/en/, Twitter: @MONUSCO); Cultur Volcan, Journal d'un volcanophile (URL: https://laculturevolcan.blogspot.com), Twitter: @CultureVolcan).


Tengger Caldera (Indonesia) — May 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Tengger Caldera

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New explosions with ash plumes from Bromo Cone mid-February-April 2019

The 16-km-wide Tengger Caldera in East Java, Indonesia is a massive volcanic complex with numerous overlapping stratovolcanos (figure 11). Mount Bromo is a pyroclastic cone that lies within the large Sandsea Caldera at the northern end of the complex (figure 12) and has erupted more than 20 times during each of the last two centuries. It is part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve) and is frequently visited by tourists. The last eruption from November 2015 to November 2016 produced hundreds of ash plumes that rose as high as 4 km altitude; some of them drifted for hundreds of kilometers before dissipating and briefly disrupted air traffic. Only steam and gas plumes were observed at Mount Bromo from December 2016 to February 2018 when a new series of explosions with ash plumes began; they are covered in this report with information provided by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM) and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC). Copyrighted ground and drone-based images from Øystein Lund Andersen have been used with permission of the photographer.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. The Tengger Caldera viewed from the north Mount Bromo issuing steam in the foreground and Semeru volcano in the background on 30 September 2018. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Aerial view of the Bromo Cone in Tengger Caldera seen from the west on 30 September 2018. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen, used with permission.

PVMBG lowered the Alert Level at Bromo on 21 October 2016 from III to II near the end of an eruptive episode lasting nearly a year. The last VAAC report was issued on 12 November 2016 (BGVN 41:12) noting that the last ash emission had been observed the previous day drifting NW at 3 km altitude. Throughout 2017 and 2018 Bromo remained at Alert Level II, with no unusual activity described by PVMBG. During 1-2 September 2018, a wildfire in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park burned 65 hectares of savannah (figure 13); the fire produced 12 MODVOLC thermal alerts around the Tengger Caldera rim. No reports of increased volcanic activity were issued by PVMBG during the period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. A wall of fire in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park savanna during 1-2 September 2018 produced thermal alerts that were not related to volcanic activity at the Bromo Cone in Tengger Caldera. Image courtesy of the park authority, reported by Mongabay. MODVOLC thermal alerts courtesy of Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP).

After slightly more than two years of little activity other than gas and steam plumes, ash emissions resumed from the Bromo Cone on 18 February 2019. After a brief pause, a new explosion on 10 March marked the beginning of a series of near-daily ash emissions that lasted for the rest of March, producing ash plumes that rose to altitudes ranging from 3.0 to 5.2 km and drifted in many different directions. A new series of ash emissions began on 6 April, rising to 3 km and also drifting in multiple directions. Ash emission density decreased during the month; plumes were only rising a few hundred meters above the summit by the end of April and consisted of mostly steam and moderate amounts of ash.

Activity during February-April 2019. PVMBG reported that at 0600 on 18 February 2019 an eruption at Tengger Caldera's Bromo Cone generated a dense white-and-brown ash plume that rose 600 m and drifted WSW. The plume was not visible in satellite imagery, according to the Darwin VAAC. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4). After a few weeks of quiet a new explosion on 10 March (local time) produced a white, brown, and gray ash plume that rose 600 m above the summit; the plume was visible in satellite imagery extending SW. Increased tremor amplitude was also reported on 10 March. A new emission the next morning produced similar ash plumes that drifted S, SW, and W at 3 km altitude. On the morning of 12 March (local time) a continuous ash plume was observed in satellite imagery at 3.4 km altitude drifting SW. The plume drifted counterclockwise towards the S, E, and NE throughout the day and continued to drift NE and SE on 13 March. The altitude of the plume was reported at 4.3 km later that day based on a pilot report.

Continuous brown, gray, and black ash emissions were reported by PVMBG during 14-19 March at altitudes ranging from 3 to 3.9 km; they drifted generally NE to NW. Ashfall was noted around the crater and downwind a short distance. The Darwin VAAC reported continuous ash emissions to 5.2 km altitude drifting SE on 20 March. It was initially reported by a pilot and partially discernable in satellite imagery before dissipating. Ongoing ash emissions of variable densities and colors ranging from white to black were intermittently visible in satellite imagery and confirmed in webcam and ground reports at around 3.0 km altitude during 21-25 March (figures 14-17). Ashfall impacted the closest villages to Bromo, including Cemara Lawang (30 km NW), which was covered by a thin layer of ash. A few trees in the area were toppled over by the weight of the ash. The plume altitude increased slightly on 26 March to 3.7-3.9 km, drifting N and NE. The higher altitude plume dissipated early on 28 March, but ash emissions continued at 3.0 km for the rest of the day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Ash drifted NNE from the Bromo Cone in Tengger Caldera on 23 March 2019. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen (drone image), used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Ash drifted N from the Bromo Cone in Tengger Caldera on 23 March 2019. The Batok Cone is on the right, Segera Wedi is behind Bromo, and Semeru is in the far background. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. A few trees toppled from ashfall in the vicinity of the Bromo Cone in Tengger Caldera on 24 March 2019. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Ash plumes from the Bromo Cone in Tengger Caldera on 24 March 2019 caused ashfall in communities as far as 30 km away. View is from the floor of the Sandsea Caldera. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen, used with permission.

After just a few days of quiet, new ash emissions rising to 3.0 km altitude and drifting SE were reported by both PVMBG (from the webcam) and the Darwin VAAC on 6 April 2019. By the next day the continuous ash emissions were drifting N, then E during 8-10 April, and S during 11 and 12 April. A new emission seen in the webcam was reported by the Darwin VAAC on 15 April (UTC) that rose to 3.0 km and drifted W. Ash plumes were intermittently visible in either webcam or satellite imagery until 17 April rising 500-1,000 m above the crater; from 19-25 April only steam plumes were reported rising 300-500 m above the summit. A minor ash emission was reported from the webcam on 26 April that rose to 3.0 km altitude and drifted NE for a few hours before dissipating. PVMBG reported medium density white to gray ash plumes that rose 400-600 m above the crater for the remainder of the month.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Øystein Lund Andersen (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: http://www.oysteinlundandersen.com); Mongabay, URL: https://news.mongabay.com/2018/09/fires-tear-through-east-java-park-threatening-leopard-habitat/.

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 21, Number 03 (March 1996)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Aira (Japan)

Frequent explosive ash eruptions continue

Akademia Nauk (Russia)

More details about the early January eruptions

Akutan (United States)

Seismicity declines with no eruption after two earthquake swarms

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Continued eruptions and recently updated map of lava flows

Avachinsky (Russia)

Increased seismicity and a higher steam plume

Etna (Italy)

Intermittent ash emissions and Strombolian activity from two summit craters

Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba (Japan)

Emission of colored water and long discolored aqueous plumes

Hokkaido-Komagatake (Japan)

Additional information about the 5 March eruption

Irazu (Costa Rica)

Infrequent microseisms in February and March

Iwatesan (Japan)

Volcanic tremor registered again on 4 March

Karymsky (Russia)

More details about the early January eruptions

Kilauea (United States)

Heightened activity on 1-4 February followed by 10-day pause; bench construction

Kuchinoerabujima (Japan)

Increasing number of earthquakes since January

Kujusan (Japan)

Increased seismicity in late March, but plume remains ash-free

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Vulcanian explosions continue

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Inaudible, weak-to-moderate steaming from two craters

Oshima-Oshima (Japan)

Earthquakes and tremor detected

Pinatubo (Philippines)

Rainfall during October-November 1995 typhoons generates floods and lahars

Poas (Costa Rica)

Seismicity decreased roughly 10-fold since October 1995

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

Continued ash emissions; new lava dome and lava flows in summit crater

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

December-March ash deposits now 10-cm thick; seismicity continues

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica)

Mild seismicity continues in February

Sangay (Ecuador)

Phreatic explosions, blue gas plumes, crater glow, and dome rockfalls

Socorro (Mexico)

Slight temperature increases at most summit fumaroles and hot springs

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Escalating dome growth spawns pyroclastic flows and another evacuation

Suwanosejima (Japan)

Weak ash eruptions in early March cause ashfalls

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea)

Still emitting low to moderate amounts of steam

Unzendake (Japan)

Tremor associated with minor tilt changes



Aira (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent explosive ash eruptions continue

Minor activity continued at Minami-dake until mid-March, although the highest ash plume of the month rose 2,100 m above the crater on the 6th. Twelve explosive eruptions occurred on 18 March. Overall during March there were 88 eruptions, 69 of which were explosive. The monthly total ashfall measured 10 km W of the crater was 22 g/m2. Seismicity recorded 2.3 km NW of the crater during March consisted of 970 earthquakes and 773 tremors.

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.


Akademia Nauk (Russia) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Akademia Nauk

Russia

53.98°N, 159.45°E; summit elev. 1180 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


More details about the early January eruptions

According to the Institute of Volcanology (IV), the eruption on 2 January (BGVN 21:01) began around 0800. This activity was preceded by an upsurge in seismicity that started in April 1995. At 1926 on 31 December 1995, a M 5.8 earthquake occurred in the Kronotsky gulf, 50-60 km NE of the volcano. On 1 January at 2057 an earthquake of M 5.2 in the Karymsky region was followed at 2157 by a M 6.9 event centered ~25 km S of the volcano. During the next day there were more than 10 aftershocks of M >= 5.0. On 2 January at 1540, a group of IV volcanologists arrived by helicopter. Eruptive centers were observed near the summit and 5-6 km S in Karymsky Lake (maximum depth 115 m), which fills the Akademii Nauk caldera.

The eruption began with formation of a vent with a diameter of 20-30 m, located 50 m below the summit. Violent emissions of ash-rich gas jets rose to 1 km from another vent on the SW slope. Steam-and-gas jets, occasionally with black-colored matter, were also ejected to several hundred meters from beneath the surface of Karymsky Lake. The presumed eruptive center was 100-200 m from the shore in the NW sector of the lake. Turbulent steam-and-gas plumes rose 5-6 km above the surface from a 200-m-diameter area. Ice covering the lake had completely melted.

On 3 January the near-summit vent increased in size to 50 m in diameter. Gas and steam blasts alternated with ash ejections from the two simultaneously active vents on the volcano. Ash was usually ejected from the upper vent, and a white-colored plume was emitted from the lower vent. Ash ejections lasted 2-3 minutes, and gas blasts lasted 1.5-2 minutes. An ash-and-gas column rose 1-1.2 km and was blown E and SE by the wind. The surface of Karymsky Lake steamed intensely, sending clouds 800-1,000 m above the lake. Areas of green water were visible through breaks in the clouds, and a newly-formed black beach was seen. In the N and NE sector of the lake a narrow spit, beginning from the source of the Karymsky river and extending 250-300 m to the center of the lake, had formed. The water level in the lake had dropped a few meters. The upper reaches of the river had dried up, but on 2 January waves from the submarine eruption (up to 10 m high or more) overflowed the N shore, flooding a wide valley 1.5 km below the source. During a surveillance flight on 4 January, large areas of the valley were covered by black mud. The beach contained three fumarolic vents along the NE-trending fault zone. Within a radius of 500-800 m of the source of the Karymsky River, the surrounding snow-covered hills contained thousands of holes with diameters ranging from 10 cm to 1.5-2 m formed by lithic blocks ejected from the lake. The water level of the lake continued to fall because of intense evaporation.

Light-gray dacitic ash covered an area of about 150-200 km2. At a distance of 8 km from the volcano fractions ranging from 0.16 to 0.06 mm dominated. Estimates made by S.A. Fedotov indicated that on 2 and 3 January the ash ejection rate from the summit crater reached 3-4 tons/second.

Routine observations from 2 January through 11 February showed that the climactic phase of the subaqueous eruption continued for no more than 12-15 hours. That eruption consisted of frequent explosions during which a vapor-gas mixture with lithic material was ejected to the surface. In the N sector of the lake at the shore W of the Karymsky River, damaged trees provided evidence of two eruptive sources 500-600 m from each other. This zone contained the main concentration of bomb material ejected from the lake. A portion of the shoreline (150-200 m long and 5-15 m wide) E of the river sank several meters into the lake. The main eruption center was 500 m from the shore, but smaller peripheral centers were also observed. As a result of the eruption, in the NNW sector of the lake, a beach in the form of a wide 0.4 km2 cape was produced, as well as a narrow spit extending SE from the old shore. The length of the new shoreline was 2.4 km, and a large shoal was observed around the new peninsula. According to the preliminary estimates, the ejected deposits in the lake are at least 1 km2 in area and 5-10 x 106 m3 in volume.

Thermal springs that discharge at the S shore of Karymsky Lake were destroyed by ejecta from this eruption, and several new mud pots were formed; chemical composition of the solutions was unchanged. Near the center of the new beach, composed of sand-gravel and bomb material, a chain of five explosive vents with diameters from 1.5 to 30 m was observed. At the N end was a thermal site with a diameter of ~50 m that exhibited intense vapor emission and was covered by sublimates; visiting scientists detected a hydrogen sulfide odor. A dry funnel with a diameter of ~3 m and high gas emission at a temperature of 97°C was in the center of this site. Other explosion funnels had water at a depth of 1.2-1.5 m with temperatures from 33 to 70°C. The three funnels closest to the lake and on the opposite shore had gas emissions with temperatures of 97-98°C.

On 4 January run-off from the lake ceased owing to damming by ejected material. Analyses of water samples from the lake, river, and various hot springs in the area indicated that there had been chemical contributions to the lake water by an underlying magma body.

Geologic Background. The scenic lake-filled Akademia Nauk caldera is one of three volcanoes constructed within the mid-Pleistocene, 15-km-wide Polovinka caldera. Beliankin stratovolcano, in the SW part of Polovinka caldera, is eroded, but has been active in postglacial time (Sviatlovsky, 1959). Two nested calderas, 5 x 4 km Odnoboky and 3 x 5 km Akademia Nauk (also known as Karymsky Lake or Academii Nauk), were formed during the late Pleistocene, the latter about 30,000 years ago. Eruptive products varied from initial basaltic-andesite lava flows to late-stage rhyodacitic lava domes. Two maars, Akademia Nauk and Karymsky, subsequently formed at the southern and northern margins of the caldera lake, respectively. The northern maar, Karymsky, erupted about 6500 radiocarbon years ago and formed a small bay. The first historical eruption from Akademia Nauk did not take place until January 2, 1996, when a brief, day-long explosive eruption of unusual basaltic and rhyolitic composition occurred from vents beneath the NNW part of the caldera lake near Karymsky maar.

Information Contacts: G.A. Karpov, Ya.D. Muravyev, R.A. Shuvalov, S.M. Fazlullin, and V.N. Chebrov, Institute of Volcanology, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia.


Akutan (United States) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Akutan

United States

54.134°N, 165.986°W; summit elev. 1303 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity declines with no eruption after two earthquake swarms

Intense seismicity was felt by Akutan residents beginning on the evening of 10 March and through the next day (BGVN 21:02). Students in Akutan (13 km E of the summit; figure 1) carefully counted the frequency and intensity of the earthquakes during the day on 11 March. The resulting information was the first quantitative dataset about the earthquakes and suggested that this was an earthquake swarm rather than a classic mainshock-aftershock sequence. The strongest shocks rattled small objects on tables and caused some cabinet doors to open; ground shaking was continuous. The largest of the earthquakes had a magnitude of about 5.1, and there were several of M 4-5, most of them were probably in the M 2.5 to 4 range. There were no operating seismometers on Akutan Island at the onset of seismic unrest; the nearest seismometer was at Sand Point, ~380 km NE. The intense seismic activity began subsiding at about 1700 on 11 March but remained at a level substantially above normal. Seismicity continued through most of that night with many events strongly felt in Akutan. Seismicity declined on 12 March, and late that day a seismologist from the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) who reached Akutan with a seismometer and a portable recording system determined that the earthquakes were volcano-tectonic.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Terrain-corrected synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image showing Akutan and Makushin volcanoes in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. Courtesy of the Alaska SAR Facility; data copyright European Space Agency.

At about 1700 on 13 March, felt-earthquakes began occurring at a rate of greater than 1/minute, a higher rate than on 11 March. Damage associated with these earthquakes included objects tumbling off shelves, and ground shaking was again continuous. The strongest of these events were felt as far away as Dutch Harbor/Unalaska 50 km SW of Akutan. The number of earthquakes recorded in Akutan was over 800/day during the intense earthquake swarm on 13-14 March. A slight decrease in the rate of activity occurred at about 0500 on 14 March, but felt earthquakes still occurred every 2-3 minutes. There were a few earthquakes with M >= 5, and more between 4 and 5. This swarm began subsiding about 18 hours after onset. Because of the continued high seismicity AVO initiated use of a Level of Concern Color Code system and designated the current level to be Orange on 14 March, indicating an eruption was possible at any time within the next few days. On the night of 14 March, AVO's seismologist in Akutan reported 4-5 felt events.

On 15 March the rate and intensity of recorded earthquakes, although much lower than earlier in the week, remained well above background. At about 1700, a geologist flying into Akutan glimpsed a part of the N flank and summit area through broken clouds, but observed no evidence of eruptive activity. AVO scientists in Akutan felt only a few earthquakes that night. The number of earthquakes recorded on 16 March was much lower than during the swarms of 11 and 13 March. However, the rate and intensity of earthquake activity remained well above background. The weather continued to be poor, hampering visual observations. The number of daily earthquakes remained about the same through 19 March. Scientists in Akutan reported feeling only a few earthquakes each of those nights.

The Level of Concern Color Code was downgraded to Yellow on 20 March based on decreasing seismicity over the previous six days to 60-80 events/day. The Yellow code indicates that the threat of imminent eruption has declined, and the possibility that the volcano will return to quiet over a period of weeks without eruption has increased. An airline passenger reported seeing the snow-filled summit crater, with very slight normal wisps of steam from the central cinder cone, and no evidence of eruptive activity. The level of seismicity remained above background, and several earthquakes each day were felt in Akutan.

By 22 March a total of five seismic stations in four locations had been installed and all data were being sent to the Fairbanks and Anchorage laboratories in real time. Maximum separation of the stations was ~9 km. Four of the stations were located around Akutan Harbor, and the fifth was on the E slopes of the volcano about midway between the village of Akutan and the summit. The seismic array will remain in its present geometry until additional stations can be placed by helicopter this summer. By 24 March all AVO personnel had left, and around-the-clock monitoring using the new seismic stations was being conducted from AVO.

The number of earthquakes continued during 21-25 March at a rate of ~60-80/day, decreased slightly by 27 March to ~40-60/day, and remained at that level through 29 March. As of 5 April seismicity continued to slowly diminish. Earthquakes were distributed widely beneath the E half of the island with a cluster, shallower than 10 km, located ~8-10 km due E of the summit cinder cone and ~5 km W of the village of Akutan. The rate of seismicity during 6-12 April was about half that of the previous week, with ~10-20 earthquakes/day, most too small to be felt by local residents. Seismicity decreased again by half during 13-19 April, to ~5-10 small earthquakes/day.

Geologic Background. One of the most active volcanoes of the Aleutian arc, Akutan contains 2-km-wide caldera with an active intracaldera cone. An older, largely buried caldera was formed during the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Two volcanic centers are located on the NW flank. Lava Peak is of Pleistocene age, and a cinder cone lower on the flank produced a lava flow in 1852 that extended the shoreline of the island and forms Lava Point. The 60-365 m deep younger caldera was formed during a major explosive eruption about 1600 years ago and contains at least three lakes. The currently active large cinder cone in the NE part of the caldera has been the source of frequent explosive eruptions with occasional lava effusion that blankets the caldera floor. A lava flow in 1978 traveled through a narrow breach in the north caldera rim almost to the coast. Fumaroles occur at the base of the caldera cinder cone, and hot springs are located NE of the caldera at the head of Hot Springs Bay valley and along the shores of Hot Springs Bay.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667, USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA; Alaska SAR Facility, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775 USA.


Arenal (Costa Rica) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Arenal

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued eruptions and recently updated map of lava flows

During February and March, Crater C continued to emit gas, lava, and sporadic Strombolian eruptions. For both months, OVSICORI-UNA reported that the intensity of explosive activity was slightly below that of January, however, columns still rose ~1 km. Prevailing winds blew towards the NW, W, and SW. Arenal continued to cause acidic rains and to eject volcanic bombs, blocks, and ash. The volcano's steep slopes and receding vegetation have led to gullying in unconsolidated material and cold avalanches down local drainages.

ICE reported the distribution of lava flows down Arenal's W slopes (figure 76). A flow active from May 1995 through early January 1996 ceased and a new one trending WNW began in late January, its downslope end reaching 1,200-m elevation in early March. Also, on the N flank in early March, some rolling blocks destroyed forest down to 1,150 m elevation. Deposits reminiscent of those from pyroclastic flows were found in late December at 950 m elevation.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Sketch map of Arenal area showing distribution of lavas as of March 1996. Courtesy of G. J. Soto.

ICE noted that December explosions were ~15-30 minutes apart; after mid-January the explosions were ~27 ± 21 minutes apart (1 sigma standard deviation); steam often vented in the N quadrant of Crater C. Nightime observers saw cyclic changes in the intensity of crater glow repeating every 39 ± 22 seconds; the changes were attributed to convection in the intra-crater lava pool. ICE also repeatedly measured ash deposition rates adjacent to the crater (table 13).

Table 13. Mass of Arenal's ash collected at a site 1.8 km W of the active vent. Courtesy of ICE.

Collection Interval Avg daily ashfall (grams/m2) Ash % 300+µ Ash % less than 300µ
24 Aug-26 Sep 1995 20.7 36 64
26 Sep-23 Oct 1995 1.1 0 100
23 Oct-22 Dec 1995 24.2 56 44
22 Dec-06 Mar 1996 32.9 50 50

OVSICORI-UNA reported the respective values of tremor duration and local seismicity during February and March: 386 and 261 hours and 758 and 624 events. Events of frequency below 3.5 Hz typically accompanied those eruptions that ejected pyroclastics.

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: Erick Fernández, Elicer Duarte, Vilma Barboza, Rodolfo Van der Laat, and Enrique Hernandez, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica; Gerardo J. Soto, Oficina de Sismolog¡a y Vulcanolog¡a, Departamento de Geolog¡a, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Apartado 10032-1000, San José, Costa Rica.


Avachinsky (Russia) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Avachinsky

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased seismicity and a higher steam plume

On 7 March the Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry (IVGG) reported a noteworthy increase in seismicity beneath Avachinsky and an increase in the height of the steam plume to ~100 m above the volcano. The steam plume suggested a possible increase in heat flux. The IVGG reported that the possibility of an eruption within the next few weeks to months has increased significantly. Elevated seismicity was previously reported in late 1993 and early 1994 (BGVN 19:01).

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

Information Contacts: Tom Miller, Alaska Volcano Observatory (URL: https://www.avo.alaska.edu/); Vladimir Kirianov, Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia.


Etna (Italy) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash emissions and Strombolian activity from two summit craters

Adverse weather conditions that prevented observation of the summit in late February (BGVN 21:02) continued throughout March. Ash puffs from Bocca Nuova crater (BN) were seen during some clear periods on 1 and 5 March, and on the morning of 6 March several black ash emissions were observed. Between 1200 and 1300 a sequence of ash puffs was produced from Northeast Crater (NEC). At 1530, another dense black ash puff was emitted from BN. At sunset the snow mantle was discontinuously covered by a thin ash layer. Ash emissions were again observed during some clearings on 7 March.

On 11 March around 2300 a one-hour long increase in tremor amplitude was recorded at the summit stations. During the afternoon of 12 March the weather improved and after sunset pulsating red glows were observed above NEC by the surveillance camera. Glow produced by the Strombolian activity after 1730 was almost continuous until changing to pulses at 1840 and disappearing at 2100. At the climax, red tracks of volcanic bombs were recognizable up to 150 m above the crater rim. The eruptive episode was marked by increased seismic tremor amplitude similar to that of the previous night.

On the morning of 14 March weather conditions became worse and the video link was interrupted. The video link was restored on 21 March and some minor ash emissions were observed. The observations by the video camera remained intermittent due to the poor weather. Around 2000 on 30 March a remarkable increase in low-frequency events and explosion earthquakes was recorded at all stations of the seismic network; poor weather prevented visual confirmation. The phenomena continued until 2100 on 31 March and during the daytime strong pulsing steam emissions, sometimes with ash, were observed at NEC and BN.

Strombolian activity that began the day after the eighth fire fountaining episode (9-10 February) continued in April, building several nested spatter and scoria cones on the NEC floor; these rose as high as the crater rim.

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

Information Contacts: Mauro Coltelli, CNR Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia (IIV), Piazza Roma 2, Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ingv.it/en/).


Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba (Japan) — March 1996 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)


Emission of colored water and long discolored aqueous plumes

Aviators from the Japan Marine Safety Agency (JMSA) began observing yellowish-green discoloration of seawater during 25-28 November 1995 (BGVN 20:11/12). Similar discoloration was seen on 12, 22, and 23 January 1996 (BGVN 21:01), and also on 26 January, as reported by the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Information from the Volcano Research Center revealed that JMSA observers once again noted yellowish brown discolored seawater in the area on 4 April. According to the reports, the colored area expanded like a belt up to ~3 km long. Strong emission of colored water was recognized from two points. Although white-colored suspension was observed on the surface, floating pumices were not recognized. Yellowish-green to yellowish-brown water observed on 12 April formed a plume ~4 km long and 200 m wide, including 3-4 spots from which colored-water was gushing out intermittently. No pumices were recognized.

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; 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); Hydrographic Department, Maritime Safety Agency, 3-1 Tsukiji, 5-Chome, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104, Japan.


Hokkaido-Komagatake (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Hokkaido-Komagatake

Japan

42.063°N, 140.677°E; summit elev. 1131 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Additional information about the 5 March eruption

Volcanic tremor was registered for six minutes starting at 1810 on 5 March by the JMA station 4.1 km WSW of the crater. During this activity, two main vents opened on and near the S side of Showa 4-nen (1929) crater. A line of vents extending ~200 m N-S formed on the S part of the crater floor. Strong eruptive activity was observed until 7 March and then decreased. Volcanic earthquakes had increased somewhat prior to the eruption, but seismicity remained low afterwards through mid-April.

Geologic Background. Much of the truncated Hokkaido-Komagatake andesitic volcano on the Oshima Peninsula of southern Hokkaido is Pleistocene in age. The sharp-topped summit lies at the western side of a large breached crater that formed as a result of edifice collapse in 1640 CE. Hummocky debris avalanche material occurs at the base of the volcano on three sides. Two late-Pleistocene and two Holocene Plinian eruptions occurred prior to the first historical eruption in 1640, which began a period of more frequent explosive activity. The 1640 eruption, one of the largest in Japan during historical time, deposited ash as far away as central Honshu and produced a debris avalanche that reached the sea. The resulting tsunami caused 700 fatalities. Three Plinian eruptions have occurred since 1640; in 1694, 1856, and 1929.

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


Irazu (Costa Rica) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Irazu

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Infrequent microseisms in February and March

During March, the dark-blue lake dropped 30 cm with respect to December 1995. Constant bubbling continued along the N, NW, W, and SE shores. The NW-flank site of the December 1994 eruption continued to emit low volumes of gas. During February and March seismic station IRZ2, 5 km SW of the crater, registered 31 and 19 microseisms, respectively. These events were only detected locally. Significant tilt was not detected over the deformation network.

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: Erick Fernández, Elicer Duarte, Vilma Barboza, Rodolfo Van der Laat, and Enrique Hernandez, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica; Gerardo J. Soto, Oficina de Sismología y Vulcanología, Departamento de Geología, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Apartado 10032-1000, San José, Costa Rica.


Iwatesan (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Iwatesan

Japan

39.853°N, 141.001°E; summit elev. 2038 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Volcanic tremor registered again on 4 March

Small-amplitude volcanic tremor was detected on 4 March. Tremor was last registered on three days in January 1996 (BGVN 21:02) and once in October 1995.

Geologic Background. Viewed from the east, Iwatesan volcano has a symmetrical profile that invites comparison with Fuji, but on the west an older cone is visible containing an oval-shaped, 1.8 x 3 km caldera. After the growth of Nishi-Iwate volcano beginning about 700,000 years ago, activity migrated eastward to form Higashi-Iwate volcano. Iwate has collapsed seven times during the past 230,000 years, most recently between 739 and 1615 CE. The dominantly basaltic summit cone of Higashi-Iwate volcano, Yakushidake, is truncated by a 500-m-wide crater. It rises well above and buries the eastern rim of the caldera, which is breached by a narrow gorge on the NW. A central cone containing a 500-m-wide crater partially filled by a lake is located in the center of the oval-shaped caldera. A young lava flow from Yakushidake descended into the caldera, and a fresh-looking lava flow from the 1732 eruption traveled down the NE flank.

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


Karymsky (Russia) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Karymsky

Russia

54.049°N, 159.443°E; summit elev. 1513 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


More details about the early January eruptions

According to the Institute of Volcanology (IV), the eruption on 2 January began around 0800. This activity was preceded by an upsurge in seismicity that started in April 1995. At 1926 on 31 December 1995, a M 5.8 earthquake occurred in the Kronotsky gulf, 50-60 km NE of the volcano. On 1 January at 2057 an earthquake of M 5.2 in the Karymsky region was followed at 2157 by a M 6.9 event centered ~25 km S of the volcano. During the next day there were more than 10 aftershocks of M >= 5.0. On 2 January at 1540, a group of IV volcanologists arrived by helicopter. Eruptive centers were observed near the summit and 5-6 km S in Karymsky Lake (maximum depth 115 m), which fills the Akademii Nauk caldera.

The eruption began with formation of a vent with a diameter of 20-30 m, located 50 m below the summit. Violent emissions of ash-rich gas jets rose to 1 km from another vent on the SW slope. Steam-and-gas jets, occasionally with black-colored matter, were also ejected to several hundred meters from beneath the surface of Karymsky Lake. The presumed eruptive center was 100-200 m from the shore in the NW sector of the lake. Turbulent steam-and-gas plumes rose 5-6 km above the surface from a 200-m-diameter area. Ice covering the lake had completely melted.

On 3 January the near-summit vent increased in size to 50 m in diameter. Gas and steam blasts alternated with ash ejections from the two simultaneously active vents on the volcano. Ash was usually ejected from the upper vent, and a white-colored plume was emitted from the lower vent. Ash ejections lasted 2-3 minutes, and gas blasts lasted 1.5-2 minutes. An ash-and-gas column rose 1-1.2 km and was blown E and SE by the wind. The surface of Karymsky Lake steamed intensely, sending clouds 800-1,000 m above the lake. Areas of green water were visible through breaks in the clouds, and a newly-formed black beach was seen. In the N and NE sector of the lake a narrow spit, beginning from the source of the Karymsky river and extending 250-300 m to the center of the lake, had formed. The water level in the lake had dropped a few meters. The upper reaches of the river had dried up, but on 2 January waves from the submarine eruption (up to 10 m high or more) overflowed the N shore, flooding a wide valley 1.5 km below the source. During a surveillance flight on 4 January, large areas of the valley were covered by black mud. The beach contained three fumarolic vents along the NE-trending fault zone. Within a radius of 500-800 m of the source of the Karymsky River, the surrounding snow-covered hills contained thousands of holes with diameters ranging from 10 cm to 1.5-2 m formed by lithic blocks ejected from the lake. The water level of the lake continued to fall because of intense evaporation.

Light-gray dacitic ash covered an area of about 150-200 km2. At a distance of 8 km from the volcano fractions ranging from 0.16 to 0.06 mm dominated. Estimates made by S.A. Fedotov indicated that on 2 and 3 January the ash ejection rate from the summit crater reached 3-4 tons/second.

Routine observations from 2 January through 11 February showed that the climactic phase of the subaqueous eruption continued for no more than 12-15 hours. That eruption consisted of frequent explosions during which a vapor-gas mixture with lithic material was ejected to the surface. In the N sector of the lake at the shore W of the Karymsky River, damaged trees provided evidence of two eruptive sources 500-600 m from each other. This zone contained the main concentration of bomb material ejected from the lake. A portion of the shoreline (150-200 m long and 5-15 m wide) E of the river sank several meters into the lake. The main eruption center was 500 m from the shore, but smaller peripheral centers were also observed. As a result of the eruption, in the NNW sector of the lake, a beach in the form of a wide 0.4 km2 cape was produced, as well as a narrow spit extending SE from the old shore. The length of the new shoreline was 2.4 km, and a large shoal was observed around the new peninsula. According to the preliminary estimates, the ejected deposits in the lake are at least 1 km2 in area and 5-10 x 106 m3 in volume.

Thermal springs that discharge at the S shore of Karymsky Lake were destroyed by ejecta from this eruption, and several new mud pots were formed; chemical composition of the solutions was unchanged. Near the center of the new beach, composed of sand-gravel and bomb material, a chain of five explosive vents with diameters from 1.5 to 30 m was observed. At the N end was a thermal site with a diameter of ~50 m that exhibited intense vapor emission and was covered by sublimates; visiting scientists detected a hydrogen sulfide odor. A dry funnel with a diameter of ~3 m and high gas emission at a temperature of 97°C was in the center of this site. Other explosion funnels had water at a depth of 1.2-1.5 m with temperatures from 33 to 70°C. The three funnels closest to the lake and on the opposite shore had gas emissions with temperatures of 97-98°C.

On 4 January run-off from the lake ceased owing to damming by ejected material. Analyses of water samples from the lake, river, and various hot springs in the area indicated that there had been chemical contributions to the lake water by an underlying magma body.

Geologic Background. Karymsky, the most active volcano of Kamchatka's eastern volcanic zone, is a symmetrical stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera that formed during the early Holocene. The caldera cuts the south side of the Pleistocene Dvor volcano and is located outside the north margin of the large mid-Pleistocene Polovinka caldera, which contains the smaller Akademia Nauk and Odnoboky calderas. Most seismicity preceding Karymsky eruptions originated beneath Akademia Nauk caldera, located immediately south. The caldera enclosing Karymsky formed about 7600-7700 radiocarbon years ago; construction of the stratovolcano began about 2000 years later. The latest eruptive period began about 500 years ago, following a 2300-year quiescence. Much of the cone is mantled by lava flows less than 200 years old. Historical eruptions have been vulcanian or vulcanian-strombolian with moderate explosive activity and occasional lava flows from the summit crater.

Information Contacts: G.A. Karpov, Ya.D. Muravyev, R.A. Shuvalov, S.M. Fazlullin, and V.N. Chebrov, Institute of Volcanology, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia.


Kilauea (United States) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Heightened activity on 1-4 February followed by 10-day pause; bench construction

Unusually heightened activity along Kilauea's East Rift zone on 1-4 February was followed by a pause that began on 4 February and ended at midnight on 14 February (BGVN 21:01). Tilt in the N-S direction increased roughly 3-fold; in the E-W direction, roughly 4-fold. Daily counts of shallow, summit SPC earthquake counts rose from around 10/day to 580/day.

During the 14-day pause, lava continued circulating inside the lava pond at Pu`u `O`o cone but no lava was seen flowing in downstream tubes. The lava pond rose to 60-70 m below the rim as the eruption restarted and lava re-entered the tubes around mid-day on 14 February.

Lava subsequently broke out of the tubes to reach the surface at numerous locations (including those at 750-, 720-, 700-, 450-, and 90-m elevations and on the coastal flats). About 31 hours later lava reached the ocean via the old tube system. Despite these numerous sites where lava had been escaping from tubes on 14-15 February, in the days following lava generally ceased reaching the surface and feeding lava flows. Lava did emerge at elevations of 60 to 100 m and on the coastal plain between Kamokuna and Kamoamoa (figure 99). The surface of the lava pond dropped by 19-21 February, possibly reaching 90 m below the rim. Still, on 23 February aa emerged at 270 m elevation. The same day, 23 February, explosive activity at the Kamokuna bench built a new littoral cone.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. New land and active entries in the Kamokuna area, March 1996. Index map shows the swath of 1992-96 lava flows. Courtesy of HVO.

As late as 9 March, flows confined to the area below Pulama Pali and the coast covered much of the S half of the Kamoamoa flow field but failed to reach either adjacent grasslands or the sea. During the early hours of 29 February the entire lower coastal bench, a roughly 30 x 100 m area, fell into the ocean. The event was recorded seismically at an instrument 10 km distant. Since then, freshly erupted lava began constructing a new coastal bench.

During the second half of February through early March, low-amplitude tremor in the East Rift continued; during 13-26 February and 12-25 March tremor amplitudes were ~3x background but showed fluctuations. During the February interval microearthquake counts were low beneath the summit and rift zones. Shallow, long-period microearthquake counts were high on 4-5 March and briefly again on 8 March. On 2, 5, 7, and 8 March there were four events > M 3.0 in the 7-33 km range. Deep tremor from the usual SW source was recorded in three episodes during 14-15 March: a total of 90 minutes on 14 March and 108 minutes on 15 March. Counts of shallow, long-period earthquakes increased during 19-23 March reaching a maximum daily total of 1,750.

On 24 March, 2 hours of elevated tremor (4-5x background) took place without accompanying shallow short-period earthquakes. That same day, the summit inflated rapidly for an hour and then deflated for several hours. The rate of inflation was similar to that of 1 February but the summit acquired only 3 µrads of tilt compared with the 15 µrads seen on 1 February. As the summit deflated on the afternoon of 24 March, the eruption site on the East Rift zone probably received a small magma surge resulting in moderate-sized breakouts in the early afternoon. The breakouts, which originated from the lava tube at the 820-, 750-, and near the 600-m elevations, produced small pahoehoe flows that were mostly stagnant by the next morning. On the night of the 24th, bright glow from Pu`u `O`o indicated turbulence in the lava pond. Except for these flows on 24 March, surface lavas mainly appeared below the base of Pulama Pali.

At the coast, spectacular explosions, some as high as 70 m, began on 19 March. Though diminishing thereafter, they persisted until at least 6 days. Observers saw lava bubble-bursts, lava fountains, and steam jets. These explosions built up five new littoral cones ~130 m W of the earlier Kamokuna entries inside the National Park (figure 99).

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: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), U.S. Geological Survey, PO Box 51, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718, USA.


Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Kuchinoerabujima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increasing number of earthquakes since January

According to the Sakura-jima Volcanological Observatory of Kyoto University, the number of earthquakes has increased around Shin-dake since January. The total number of earthquakes recorded was 32 in January, 40 in February, and 77 in March.

A group of young stratovolcanoes forms the E end of Kuchinoerabu-jima Island, midway between Suwanose-jima and Kyushu. Several villages on the 4 x 12 km island are located within a few kilometers of the active crater of Shin-dake and have suffered damage from historical eruptions. Shin-dake is the summit cone, and has been the site of all 13 eruptions known since 1840. The last eruption was a weak 30-minute explosion on 28 September 1980 that sent an ash plume 2-3 km high.

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 W 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 Shindake, formed after the NW side of Furudake was breached by an explosion. All historical eruptions have occurred from Shindake, although a lava flow from the S flank of Furudake that reached the coast has a very fresh morphology. Frequent explosive eruptions have taken place from Shindake 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), Volcanological Division, Seismological and Volcanological Department, 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan.


Kujusan (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Kujusan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased seismicity in late March, but plume remains ash-free

Seismicity increased during 24-27 March, and volcanic tremors were detected late in the month. The total number of earthquakes in March was 507. The height of the ash-free plume remained at 100-300 m for most of the month, with increases to 600 m on 12 and 27 March.

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.


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — March 1996 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)


Vulcanian explosions continue

Moderate explosive activity continued at Crater 2 during March, however, there was possibly a slight decline compared to last September. Intermittent Vulcanian explosions released ash clouds that rose several hundred meters above the crater. These explosions resulted in minor ashfalls to the volcano's SE. A weak but steady crater-glow was observed on a few nights. In accord with these observations, 6-30 daily explosion earthquakes registered at a station 4 km away. There was no visible activity from Crater 3.

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, RVO.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — March 1996 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)


Inaudible, weak-to-moderate steaming from two craters

When visible, South and Main Craters only gave off weak to moderate white vapor. There were no audible sounds from either crater and no sighting of glow at night. Seismic monitoring at Manam was absent during March. Measurements from the water tube tiltmeters at Tabele Observatory (4 km SW of the summit) indicated no deflation to slight deflation.

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, RVO.


Oshima-Oshima (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Oshima-Oshima

Japan

41.51°N, 139.367°E; summit elev. 732 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Earthquakes and tremor detected

Volcanic earthquakes and tremors were detected near the end of March by instruments maintained by Hokkaido University.

This small island 55 km W of Hokkaido in the Japan Sea consists of two coalescing volcanoes. An eruption in August 1741 produced heavy ashfall on the Hokkaido mainland. A violent explosion and landsliding from the Nishi-yama cone accompanied a large tectonic earthquake and a major tsunami that killed 1,475 people, most on the W coast of the Oshima Peninsula. Subsequent eruptions through early 1742 produced a new central cone and lava flows. Minor explosive activity was documented in 1759, 1786, and 1790.

Geologic Background. Oshima-Oshima, a small, 4-km-wide Japan Sea island 55 km west of the SW tip of Hokkaido, is the emergent summit of two coalescing basaltic-to-andesitic stratovolcanoes. Higashiyama, at the east end of the island, is cut by a 2-km-wide caldera covered on its west side by Nishiyama volcano. The western cone failed during an eruption in 1741, creating a large horseshoe-shaped caldera breached to the north that extends from the summit down to the sea floor at the base of the volcano and producing a mostly submarine debris avalanche that traveled 16 km. A tsunami associated with the collapse swept the coasts of Hokkaido, western Honshu, and Korea, and caused nearly 1500 fatalities. The 1741 eruption, the largest in historical time at Oshima-Oshima, concluded with the construction of a basaltic pyroclastic cone at the head of the breached caldera. No eruptions have occurred since the late-18th century.

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


Pinatubo (Philippines) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Pinatubo

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Rainfall during October-November 1995 typhoons generates floods and lahars

Intense and prolonged rainfall, associated with the passage of two typhoons on 1 October and 3 November 1995, triggered lahars and floods along the Pasig-Potrero River.

On 1 October 1995, Typhoon Mameng delivered 337 mm of rain on the Sacobia pyroclastic fan triggering five distinct and fairly continuous lahar episodes over a 14-hour period. The largest episode had an estimated peak discharge of 400 m3/sec at Mancatian, Porac. Within each episode were discrete peak readings that could be generated by several causes: variations in rainfall intensity and duration, bank caving, repeated damming and breaching along channel constrictions, as well as any combination of these. Flows were described as steaming at observation point Delta 5 (15.5 km from Pinatubo), but progressive dilution through the incorporation of older materials cooled the flows to ambient temperature by the time they reached Bacolor.

The Typhoon Mameng deposit can be distinguished from earlier lahar deposits by the abundance of pebble to boulder-size clasts rip-ups of older, pre-1991, eruption materials scoured from the channel. The Mameng deposit was provisionally classified in two distinct debris flow units: a gray pumiceous, pebbly sand unit (A), and a brown, lithic-rich, coarse gravel unit (B). Unit A occurs as small overbank deposits at Mancatian, and as laterally extensive coalescing lobes from San Antonio, Bacolor down to the Gapan-San Fernando-Ologampo (GSO) road. Its occurrence as an overbank facies at Mancatian suggests that this unit correlates to the above mentioned peak flow episode. Unit B corresponds to subsequent flows and waning episodes: it occurred as in-channel, gravel terrace deposits from Delta 5 observation point downstream to the GSO road, and from thereon as an overbank facies where it overlaid unit A.

A total area of 25 km2 was buried beneath 0.5 to 6 m thick of sediment. An estimated sediment volume of 50 x 106 was deposited during these events, with roughly 40% consisting of either old, pre-1991 eruption deposits or post-1991 eruption lahar materials.

On 3 November 1995, 150 mm of rain fell on Mount Pinatubo with the passage of Typhoon Rosing. Lahars observed at Delta 5 watch point were relatively cold hyperconcentrated flows, based on the absence of steaming. Estimated peak discharge was about 120 m3/sec. Based on flow sensor data from the Pasig-Potrero river, the peak flow was channel-confined down to the GSO road and lasted ~2.6 hours. It eroded ~30 m of the left bank along the Porac-Angels Road. Sediments were mostly clayey remobilized Mameng deposits.

Former flows had already filled the stretch of the channel at a point 2 km upstream of the GSO road down to the S portion of Bacolor. When the peak flow reached the channel-filling stage, it caused flows to bifurcate and incise a new channel (figure 34) ~50 m W of the typhoon Mameng channel. Average in-channel deposition was 2 m thick; average overflow deposition, ~0.3-m thick. Overflow units were observed along the banks of the previous channel along the GSO road and leveled to a recently emplaced steel bridge. Flows reached farther downstream causing flooding and siltation near Mesalipit and Tinajeros. The other channel backflowed following considerable aggradation along the GSO road. The new channel delivered muddy flows that induced flooding and siltation in the W portion of San Fernando, particularly in the Barangays of St. Nino and St. Lucia.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Map of the 1991-95 lahars at Pinatubo. Courtesy of PHIVOLCS.

Lahars have occurred during every rainy season since the eruption of 15 June 1991. Pinatubo's last reported lahars were triggered by the heavy rainfalls of July 1995, when 30 x 106 m3 of debris, deposited over a 12 km2 area, forced mass evacuation of Porac and Bacalor (BGVN 20:07).

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

Information Contacts: Raymundo S. Punongbayan, director, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), Department of Science and Technology, (DOST), 5th & 6th Floors Hizon Building, 29 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines.


Poas (Costa Rica) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Poas

Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity decreased roughly 10-fold since October 1995

During a February visit, the temperature of the turquoise-green crater lake was 26°C and its surface had risen 2 m with respect to its January level. Except that this lake-level rise had covered some active fumaroles, their behavior was similar to previous months. Fumaroles on the SE, S, and SW sides of the crater had temperatures of 93-95°C. One fumarole along the lake's W shore had migrated upward along a crack.

When visited during March, the lake appeared sky blue in color, its surface had dropped by 0.5 m compared to the previous month, and the water temperature was 30°C. Fumaroles, their gas emission rates, and temperatures were similar to previous months. A distance survey across the crater found that a 21 ppm/year expansion had occurred since mid-1995. At a spot adjacent to the lake, the survey found an 18 mm contraction since October 1995.

The pyroclastic cone, the major source of gas emission, discharged plumes 200-400 m high. Where accessible the temperatures of the emitted gases were around 94°C; gas emissions sounded like releases from a pressure valve, particularly those venting along the inaccessible N wall.

February and March seismicity consisted of a total 1,100 and 983 events, respectively, the majority being low frequency. This was a roughly 10-fold decrease since a peak in October 1995. Tremor duration was <10 hours, down from over 250 hours in November and December 1995.

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: Erick Fernández, Elicer Duarte, Vilma Barboza, Rodolfo Van der Laat, and Enrique Hernandez, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA); Gerardo J. Soto, Oficina de Sismología y Vulcanología, Departamento de Geología, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE).


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued ash emissions; new lava dome and lava flows in summit crater

A new eruption began early on 5 March with continuous tremor followed by small ash emissions (BGVN 21:02). Low-level ash emissions continued through 11 March with some larger events on 10 and 11 March. Those episodes generated plumes that extended SW over the Pacific Ocean.

After 11 March and through the 19th, the overall level of activity appeared to have reached a steady state. Fumarolic activity alternated with 4-6 short-duration ash emissions each day from the same vents as the 1994-95 episode. These emissions formed short-lived ash columns that were carried away by the wind. Light ashfalls were reported from several towns around the volcano, particularly to the E and S. Seismicity, as low-level tremor accompanied by minor A- and B-type volcanic earthquakes, also showed almost stationary patterns and energy release rates. No deformation was detected by the 3-tiltmeter network on the N flank.

Satellite imagery during this interval revealed intermittent plumes extending E at altitudes around 6-7 km. Late on 13 March the plume was visible as far as 340 km ESE of the summit at 5-7 km altitude; ashfall was reported in Puebla, 70 km E. Large plumes of very thin dispersed ash blowing E over the Gulf of Mexico were observed through 15 March, with denser plumes closer to the volcano. During 15-19 March, when observed on satellite imagery, plumes averaged ~20 km wide and 60 km long before they dissipated; altitudes were in the 5-7 km range.

Ash emission increased between 2000 on 19 March and 0300 on 20 March, when characteristic signals of eight emission events or 'puffs' were detected by the seismic monitoring network. Afterwards, the emission-event rate returned to the previous range of 4-6 events/day. This, combined with stronger winds towards the E, produced light ashfalls on towns in that direction. The 'puff' events were detected on top of a moderate level of volcanic seismicity, consisting of A- and B-type events and low-level tremor, as well as strong signals from Pacific-coast tectonic earthquakes unrelated to the volcanic activity.

On 21 March the ash emission rate remained stable. The next day, the puffs' frequency increased to ~9/day, but their size decreased. Average height of the ash plumes was ~500 m above the summit, and duration <5 minutes. This activity continued without significant changes until 25 March, when the rate of ash emissions reached 8 puffs between 1030 and 1230 before returning to a rate of 8-10/day. This condition prevailed until 28 March, when another increase in the level of activity was detected similar to that on 25 March. The ash puffs were easily recognized in the seismograms as 30-40 seconds of tremor followed by an impulsive signal, similar to seismic events in the 1994-95 episode. Although the release of seismic energy increased after 25 March, the levels never reached high values, and remained well below the energy level of 5 March. Seismicity decreased again in late March.

Plumes after 20 March continued to be visible on satellite imagery, and were interpreted based on wind data to generally have been below 7 km altitude, with some slightly higher. However, poor weather and low levels of activity limited the number of plumes identified. Aviation notices from Mexico City and observers at the Puebla airport through 4 April continued to report ash at low levels, usually within ~20-30 km of the summit, blowing in easterly directions.

On 29 March during a COSPEC flight, Lucio Cardenas, Juan Jose Ramirez, and Hugo Delgado observed a new lava dome with an area of 400 m2 on the E side of the crater floor along the rim of the inner crater (a lava dome destroyed during the 1920-27 eruption). This new lava dome was observed coming from a source outside that inner crater but flowing into the it. Another helicopter flight later that day confirmed that block-lava was flowing from a vent located between the vents opened on December 1994 and the 1919 craterlet near the center of the crater. This lava slowly flowed towards the craterlet. When the dome was checked again on 1 April lava had filled most of the inner crater (nearly 60 m deep) and increased its area to nearly 600 m2. Assuming that the lava started to flow towards the craterlet on 25 March, and that it had been almost filled by 1 April, a rough estimate of the lava extrusion rate is 5,000-6,000 m3/day.

The formation of this craterlet was described in detail by Dr. Atl, the painter-volcanologist who later studied the Parícutin eruption in detail. According to him, the bottom of the volcano crater was almost flat before 1919. That year, extruded lava formed a small dome ~35 m high and 60-70 m diameter in the base. That dome collapsed in 1923 forming the craterlet. The volume of the internal cone of the craterlet is estimated to be 40,000 m3.

A series of SO2 flux measurements was begun after January 1994 (BGVN 19:11 and 19:12). During 1995 measurements rose to nearly 8,000 metric tons/day (t/d) in March, but gradually decreased to 2,000 t/d in June. A persistent decrease in gas emissions starting in July reduced the SO2 flux to nearly 100 t/d by December 1995. During the 5 March 1996 event, renewed ash emissions coincided with SO2 fluxes of up to 15,000 t/d; by late March it was decreasing, but emission levels remained high (>5,000 t/d). Currently, the COSPEC measurements are carried out by the Instituto de Geofisica (National University of Mexico), sponsored by the Secretaria de Gobernacion (Ministry of the Interior) through CENAPRED (Disaster Prevention National Center) using an instrument borrowed from the University of Colima and a plane owned by the Mexican Navy.

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

Information Contacts: Servando De la Cruz-Reyna (CENAPRED and Instituto de Geofisica, UNAM); Roberto Quaas Weppen, Enrique Guevara Ortiz, Bertha López Najera, and Alicia Martinez Bringas, Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED), México D.F., México; Hugo Delgado Granados, Instituto de Geofisica, UNAM, Circuito Cientifico C.U., 04510 Mexico D.F., México; Jim Lynch, NOAA Synoptic Analysis Branch.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — March 1996 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)


December-March ash deposits now 10-cm thick; seismicity continues

During March the intra-caldera cone Tavurvur produced ash explosions at 2-5 minute intervals; these rose to ~400-1,500 m altitude and then generally drifted SE. As a result, over the last 4 months ~10 cm of ash accumulated on the abandoned village of Talwat (2 km SE of Tavurvur). Vulcan only produced weak fumarolic emissions.

Seismicity fluctuated slightly during March, remaining at a level slightly lower than the peak reached in mid-February. Low-frequency earthquakes, events associated with Tavurvur ash emissions, took place 100-250 times/day (a total of 4,708 times during March). There were also five brief intervals where non-harmonic tremor took place. Only six high-frequency earthquakes occurred; some were kilometers outside the caldera to the NE in the area most seismically active since the 1994 eruption.

No significant ground deformation affected the caldera during the month. Overall, during the recent eruptive phase, the only observed ground deformation has been a slight (20 µrad) deflation at the tiltmeters nearest to Tavurvur.

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, Rabaul Volcano Observatory, P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — March 1996 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)


Mild seismicity continues in February

Several small-to-moderate eruptions took place in early November 1995 (BGVN 20:10 and 20:11/12). Mild seismicity continued after the eruption; during February seismic station RIN3, located 5 km SW of the active crater, registered seven microseisms (six low-frequency, one high-frequency). These microseisms were only detected locally.

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: Erick Fernández, Elicer Duarte, Vilma Barboza, Rodolfo Van der Laat, and Enrique Hernandez, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica; Gerardo J. Soto, Oficina de Sismolog¡a y Vulcanolog¡a, Departamento de Geolog¡a, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Apartado 10032-1000, San José, Costa Rica.


Sangay (Ecuador) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Sangay

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Phreatic explosions, blue gas plumes, crater glow, and dome rockfalls

From 24 November to 12 December 1995, the first detailed study of Sangay volcano (figures 1 and 2) was carried out by an Instituto Geofísico/ORSTOM team (Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Quito), with helicopter support from the Ecuadorian Army and the assistance of five local guides from Alao. During this time, activity was characterized by continuous fumarolic steaming, frequent phreatic explosions, occasional crater glow, and dome rockfalls. Previous reports from August 1976, August 1983, and June-August 1988 (SEAN 01:10, 08:07, and 13:08) identified four summit vents aligned WSW-ENE, which are here numbered from 1 to 4 going from W to E.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Present cone of Sangay in December 1995 viewed from the base camp 4.3 km SW. The recent pyroclastic-flow deposit on which the campsite is located is in the foreground, among the badlands corresponding to an older edifice. At the summit can be seen the W lava dome (Vent 1) and its now inactive lava tongues. Photo by M. Monzier, courtesy of ORSTOM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. View of the Sangay summit in December 1995 looking NE from the base camp showing the lava dome and associated lava flows from Vent 1. Behind this dome, a steam plume rises from the main crater (Vent 3). Photo by M. Monzier, courtesy of ORSTOM.

In 1976, Vent 1 consisted of a fracture from which lava was slowly issuing, but by August 1983 it had built a lava dome. This small dome was apparently more active in August 1988, and sent a lava flow 400 m down the W flank, where it split into two lobes. In late 1995 this dome was possibly still growing, and was the source of some fumarolic activity and many rockfalls, making the W and SW slopes of the cone dangerous to cross. Apparently there have been no new lava flows from this vent since August 1988. Vent 2, a small 15-m-diameter crater immediately ENE of Vent 1 has frequently been the site of explosive activity (1976 and 1983), but apparently was less active in 1988 and was quiet during the 1995 visit. The ENE crater (Vent 4) remained inactive but with occasional fumarolic activity.

Vent 3, at 80-100 m across, is the largest and deepest crater. In 1976 and 1983 only fumarolic activity was observed from this crater, but lava was reported in 1988. During the 1995 visit it was the site of frequent phreatic explosions, some separated by hours, others coming as often as every 26 minutes. Several explosions were followed by a rhythmic, pulsating roar that lasted for up to 50 oscillations. White vapor plumes, ejected with the audible explosions, rose several hundred meters above the summit. Light blue gas plumes and occasional red glow at night immediately above this crater implied the presence of lava. Frequent rockfalls from the upper S flank of the cone suggested that some lava may be escaping, breaking off, and rolling down the S slopes.

During the visit a portable MEQ-800 Sprengnether seismograph with a vertical, 1-Hz L4C geophone was operated at the La Playa base camp, 4.3 km SW of the main crater at 3,600 m elevation. A preliminary study of the smoked-paper seismograms showed three types of seismic signals, frequently associated with observed explosions in the crater (figures 3 and 4): tremor, long-period, and hybrid events. Tremor events had a monochromatic signature with a period of 1 second and lasted < 60 seconds. The long-period events had emergent arrivals and a constant period of ~0.7 seconds; they were often associated with observed explosions. Hybrid events began with a long-period event (0.7 seconds) and were followed by a signal similar to that of the tremor (1 second). Some hybrid events were associated with audible and observed explosions followed by a roar like pulsating, rhythmic exhalations. No local high-frequency events were detected.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Types of volcanic earthquakes at Sangay recorded by the seismic station 4.3 km SW in December 1995. Courtesy of ORSTOM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Volcanic seismicity recorded at Sangay, 26 November-10 December 1995. Courtesy of ORSTOM.

Recent lavas and pyroclastic-flow, debris-flow, and lahar deposits are ubiquitous around the cone and testify to Sangay's nearly continuous activity. The site of the La Playa camp (figure 5) is on an andesitic pyroclastic-flow deposit containing bombs up to 4 m in diameter which was emplaced between 1956 and 1965. An accident with two fatalities happened in August 1976 (SEAN 01:10). A previously unreported accident occurred in December 1993 when the main crater exploded just as two mountaineers looked over its rim. Both were blinded by the heat and fragment impacts and remained lost in the jungle on the cone's lower slopes until rescued three days later.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Preliminary geological/structural map of Sangay volcano based on fieldwork, aerial photographs, and 1:50,000 topographic maps from the Instituto Geografico Militar, Quito. Key: M = metamorphic formations; I, II, III = successive volcanic edifices; C1 and C2 = avalanche calderas; AD = avalanche deposits. Campsites are shown as black dots (La Playa = basecamp, Z = Zumbacocha and D = Duende are secondary camps).

In addition to the present cone (Sangay III), two previous edifices were identified and sampled, both of which had been destroyed by collapse. The remnant calderas are found on the E side of the present cone and are breached E toward the Amazon plain. Their probable avalanche deposits lie at the E foot of the cone. A preliminary geologic map of Sangay (figure 5) shows the three successive edifices and the two associated calderas. Edifice I is mainly built of lava, whereas edifices II and III contain both lava and pyroclastic deposits. The products of edifices I and II appear to be more varied in composition (greater differentiation) than those of Sangay III, where mafic andesites seem to predominate.

This isolated stratovolcano E of the Andean crest is one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes having been in frequent eruption for the past several centuries. The steep-sided glacier-covered volcano towers above the tropical jungle on the E side; on the other sides heavy rains have caused plains of ash to be sculpted into steep-walled canyons up to 600 m deep. The first historical eruption was reported in 1628, and more or less continuous eruptions took place from 1728 until 1916, and again from 1934 to the present.

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

Information Contacts: M. Monzier and C. Robin, ORSTOM, A.P. 17-11-6596, Quito, Ecuador; M. Hall, P. Mothes, and P. Samaniego, Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, A.P. 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador.


Socorro (Mexico) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Socorro

Mexico

18.78°N, 110.95°W; summit elev. 1050 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Slight temperature increases at most summit fumaroles and hot springs

Logistical support from the Méxican Navy enabled researchers to measure seven fumarole and hot spring temperatures on 2 February 1995 in the summit region of Socorro Island's Mount Everman. Previous measurements, taken on 5-12 February 1993, were made at the same sites. These sites, labeled A-G, are shown on sketch maps and tables in Siebe and others (1995) and BGVN 18:01. In this most recent series of measurements, all temperatures were 90°C, except site D, which was 74°C. The 1993 measurements were made in conjunction with a local submarine eruption that also produced T-wave signals. These new measurements showed a several-degree increase over many of those in 1993.

The 1993 eruption was seen at the ocean surface over the island's submarine W flanks; during this visit further signs of eruption were absent from the ocean's surface and from distant hydrophones. Unfortunately, local hydrophones on the S end of the island were not operational. Several hundred meters N of the summit, on North Dome, the visitors saw recently killed vegetation and dead trees on the margins of some hydrothermally active pits. They also noted soft warm ground, dead bracken, and newly established pits, suggesting reactivation. In other cases green trees grew in the pit walls. While the majority of the fumaroles appeared similar to those in 1993, the observers noted three 'mud volcanoes'; two were active and the third issued deep rumblings. A stream in the vicinity of the summit and North Dome had a temperature of 60°C and numerous 80°C springs were seen both along its bed and nearby.

Reference. Siebe, C., Komorowski, J-C., Navarro, C., McHone, J., Delgado, H., and Cortes, A., 1995, Submarine eruption near Socorro Island, Mexico: Geochemistry and scanning electron microscope studies of floating scoria and reticulite: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 68, p. 239-71.

Geologic Background. Socorro, the SE-most of the Revillagigedo Islands south of Baja California, is the summit of a massive, predominately submarine basaltic shield volcano capped by a largely buried, 4.5 x 3.8-km-wide summit caldera. A large tephra cone and lava dome complex, Cerro Evermann, forms the summit, and along with other cones and vents, fills much of the Pleistocene caldera. Rhyolitic lava domes have been constructed along flank rifts oriented to the N, W, and SE, and silicic lava flows from summit and flank vents have reached the coast and created an extremely irregular shoreline. Late-stage basaltic eruptions produced cones and flows near the coast. Only minor explosive activity, some of which is of uncertain validity, has occurred from flank vents in historical time dating back to the 19th century. In 1951 a brief phreatic eruption ejected blocks, and the gas column reached 1200 m altitude. A submarine eruption occurred during 1993-94 from a vent 3 km W of the island during which large scoriaceous blocks up to 5 m in size floated to the surface without associated explosive activity.

Information Contacts: Andrew M. Burton, OCEAN, Organizatión para la Conservación Estudio y Análisis de la Naturaleza, A.C., 22 de Diciembre No. 1, Col. Manuel Avila Camancho, Naucalpan, Edo. de México.


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — March 1996 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)


Escalating dome growth spawns pyroclastic flows and another evacuation

During March ash plumes continued to blow over the Capital and environs, and the rate of dome extrusion escalated. Later, on 3 April, explosions at the dome and pyroclastic flows down the Tar River prompted an evacuation of the southern part of the island.

Seismicity during March from both rockfalls and deeper sources continued in a manner consistent with dome growth. Tremor was repeatedly recorded at Gages station. Although there were exceptions, deformation mainly continued as a shortening of line lengths equivalent to ~1 mm/day (similar to trends seen since mid-November). The chief exception was on the W flank (Amersham to Chances Steps line), which on March 11 showed a surprising 3 cm lengthening since last measured on February 19. This is a reversal of the shortening that occurred from October to late December on this line.

Numerous rockfalls and avalanches from the dome in early March chiefly appeared on the dome's SW and NW sides. Next, they were repeatedly seen on the NW but some also started in the dome's central area (week 2). Rockfalls then shifted from the dome's NW margin to the E margin (week 3). Later rockfalls descended the NW, W, and E margins (week 4).

Rapidly growing spines continued to be common during much of March. They were noted on the dome's SW (weeks 1 and 2) and NW (week 4). On the NW, one spine achieved the greatest absolute height of any yet seen. It extruded rapidly, rising 10 m over an interval of about one day on 26-27 March. Over a 24-hour interval beginning at 1600 on 21 March, another spine's vertical growth measured ~7 m.

The dome's topography was mapped during week 2 from Farrell's lookout (on the WNW). The resulting map allowed workers to estimate the dome's mid-March volume as ~6.7 x 106 m3, a value comparable to previous, cruder estimates made in the field. It appeared that the dome's growth rate increased 7- to 10-fold in the last few months. Specifically, the late-November and December rate was ~0.2-0.3 m3/second whereas the March rate was closer to 2 m3/sec. On 3 and 12 March the growing dome's summit elevations were 845 and 875 m, a 30 m rise in ~9 days. Later, on 20 March, a visit to Gages Wall revealed that, even though this sector had few rockfalls around the time of the visit, the dome's talus apron had grown to within ~15 m of the wall's top.

During week 2, fine ash carried from some larger rock falls was deposited on the upper W flanks. On 17 March, viewers on Farrell's lookout were enveloped in a warm ash cloud following a rockfall that occurred without a noticeable explosive component. That same day an explosion may have helped drive an ash column to 2,300 m.

Other relatively large ash clouds appeared repeatedly during late March and early April. On 27 March there were ash clouds generated at 0642, 0700, 0848, and 1725. The 0642 event produced an ash column that reached a height of 2,000-2,300 m and blew W blanketing areas in vicinity of the Capital. The 0642 event accompanied a seismic signal comprised of seven pulses in a 14-minute interval; the 0700 event generated a smaller ash column accompanied by three seismic pulses. Except for these intervals of unusual seismicity and frequent signals from large rockfalls, seismicity during the 24-hour interval prior to the 27 March events had been generally quiet. Helicopter observations shortly after the 0700 event disclosed that ash had been channeled to the E down a drainage called the Hot River Ghaut. Hot ash had traveled for ~1 km from the dome, igniting dead trees along its path. Observers witnessed the 0848 event, but it was much smaller and areally restricted.

Several other plumes on 31 March led to a nearly one-hour interval late that day when unusually intense seismicity registered at all the stations. The seismicity was correlated with ash plumes that blew W. On 1 April a helicopter flight confirmed the largest block-and-ash flows yet seen. Although runout distances were similar to those seen on 27 March (on the order of 1 km from the base of the Castle Peak dome), those on 1 April entrained bigger blocks and had a more widely dispersed dilute component that burned a broader swath of trees and foliage around the Tar River Soufriere (~1 km NE of Castle Peak's summit).

Until a small explosive event at 0652 on 3 April, the majority of the airborne ash was thought to have come from rockfalls and avalanches off the dome. This explosion, and several other significant ones the same day, discharged from a fissure on the dome's E flank, a spot that also appeared as the source of recent rockfalls. At various times on 3 April, continuous ash emissions came from the crater area. The activity continued to build during the day, with many small explosive seismic signals and continuous tremor recorded at the closest seismic station on Chances Peak.

At 1518, a pyroclastic flow occurred in the Tar River area. It traveled ~1.9 km down this drainage and burned vegetation and set fire to sulfur at the Tar River Soufriere. It also extended 1.9 km down the Hot River Valley (to where the road crosses the river), stopping ~400 m upslope of the Tar River Estate house. Although no inhabited areas were affected by the pyroclastic flow, the settlement of Long Ground lies ~2 km NE of Castle Peak's summit. The flow generated an ash plume that rose to ~6,700 m. Much of the ash blew N in light and variable winds. Other pyroclastic flows occurred at 1808 and 1818. These events, some of which were captured on NASA GOES satellite images, prompted scientists to note the possibility of further explosive eruptions during the next few days and to urge residents to move to the island's N end. The 3 April evacuation continued through at least 30 April.

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: Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO), c/o Chief Minister's Office, PO Box 292, Plymouth, Montserrat (URL: http://www.mvo.ms/); NOAA/NESDIS Synoptic Analysis Branch (SAB), Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA.


Suwanosejima (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak ash eruptions in early March cause ashfalls

Weak ash eruptions were observed on 5 and 6 March; occasional ashfalls were reported on the island. Nine explosions were observed in 1995 and there were small eruptions during 10-13 January (BGVN 21:01). Activity has been high since 1950.

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.


Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — March 1996 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)


Still emitting low to moderate amounts of steam

As in previous months, during March Ulawun emitted weak to moderate volumes of white vapor. The seismograph did not operate.

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, RVO.


Unzendake (Japan) — March 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Unzendake

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Tremor associated with minor tilt changes

Volcanic tremor on 24 March was associated with minor tiltmeter changes. A pyroclastic flow on 10 February (BGVN 21:02) was the first in a year. Dome growth followed by collapses that generated pyroclastic flows was a common occurrence during the 1990-95 eruption.

Geologic Background. The massive Unzendake volcanic complex comprises much of the Shimabara Peninsula east of the city of Nagasaki. An E-W graben, 30-40 km long, extends across the peninsula. Three large stratovolcanoes with complex structures, Kinugasa on the north, Fugen-dake at the east-center, and Kusenbu on the south, form topographic highs on the broad peninsula. Fugendake and Mayuyama volcanoes in the east-central portion of the andesitic-to-dacitic volcanic complex have been active during the Holocene. The Mayuyama lava dome complex, located along the eastern coast west of Shimabara City, formed about 4000 years ago and was the source of a devastating 1792 CE debris avalanche and tsunami. Historical eruptive activity has been restricted to the summit and flanks of Fugendake. The latest activity during 1990-95 formed a lava dome at the summit, accompanied by pyroclastic flows that caused fatalities and damaged populated areas near Shimabara City.

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

Atmospheric Effects

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

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


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/).