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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

Suwanosejima (Japan) Small ash plumes continued during January through June 2019

Great Sitkin (United States) Small steam explosions in early June 2019

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

Ebeko (Russia) Continuing frequent moderate explosions though May 2019; ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk

Klyuchevskoy (Russia) Weak thermal anomalies and moderate Strombolian-type eruptions in September 2018-June 2019

Yasur (Vanuatu) Strong thermal activity with incandescent ejecta continues, February-May 2019

Bagana (Papua New Guinea) Infrequent thermal anomalies, no ash emissions, February-May 2019

Ambae (Vanuatu) Declining thermal activity and no explosions during February-May 2019

Sangay (Ecuador) Explosion on 26 March 2019; activity from 10 May through June produced ash plumes, lava flows, and pyroclastic flows

Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) Ash emissions and thermal anomalies during October 2018-April 2019; lava emissions at the E flank coast and summit area

Sarychev Peak (Russia) Brief ash emission reported on 16 May 2019

Nyiragongo (DR Congo) Lava lake remains active through May 2019; three new vents around the secondary cone



Suwanosejima (Japan) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small ash plumes continued during January through June 2019

Suwanosejima is an active volcanic island south of Japan in the Ryuku islands with recent activity centered at Otake crater. The current eruption began in October 2004 and activity has mostly consisted of small ash plumes, ballistic ejecta, and visible incandescence at night. This report summarizes activity during January through June 2019 and is based on reports by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), and various satellite data.

Thermal activity recorded by the MIROVA system was low through January and February after a decline in November (figure 36), shown in Sentined-2 thermal infrared imagery as originating at a vent in the Otake crater (figure 37). During January an explosive event was observed at 1727 on the 3rd, producing a gray plume that rose 600 m above the crater. A white gas-and-steam plume rose to 1.5 km above the crater and nighttime incandescence was observed throughout the month. Reduced activity continued through February with no reported explosive eruptions and light gray plumes up to 900 m above the crater. Incandescence continued to be recorded at night using a sensitive surveillance camera.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. MIROVA log radiative power plot of MODIS thermal infrared data at Suwanosejima during September 2018 through June 2019. There was reduced activity in 2019 with periods of more frequent anomalies during March and June. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. A Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image shows Suwanosejima with the active Otake crater in the center with elevated temperatures shown as bright orange/yellow. There is a light area next to the vent that may be a gas plume. False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

There was an increase in thermal energy detected by the MIROVA system in mid-March and there was a MODVOLC thermal alert on the 15th. Occasional small explosions occurred but no larger explosive events were recorded. A white plume was noted on the 27th rising to 900 m above the crater and an event at 1048 on the 30th produced a light-gray plume that rose to 800 m. Incandescence was only observed using a sensitive camera at night (figure 38).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Incandescence from the Suwanosejima Otake crater reflecting in clouds above the volcano. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity of Suwanosejima March 2019).

No explosive events were observed through April. A white gas-and-steam plume rose to 1,200 m above the crater on the 19th and incandescence continued intermittently. Minor explosions were recorded on 5, 30, and 31 May, but no larger explosive events were observed during the month. The event on the 30th produced ash plume that reached 1.1 km above the crater. Similar activity continued through June with one explosive event occurring on the 2nd. Overall, there was a reduction in the number of ash plumes erupted during this period compared to previous months (figure 39).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Observed activity at Suwanosejima for the year ending in July 2019. The black vertical bars represent steam, gas, or ash plume heights (scale in meters on the left axis), yellow diamonds represent incandescence observed in webcams, gray volcano symbols along the top are explosions accompanied by ash plumes, red volcano symbols represent large explosions with ash plumes. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity of Suwanosejima June 2019).

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Great Sitkin (United States) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Great Sitkin

United States

52.076°N, 176.13°W; summit elev. 1740 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small steam explosions in early June 2019

The Great Sitkin volcano is located about 40 km NE of Adak Island in the Aleutian Islands and has had a few short-lived eruptions over the past 100 years. Prior to the latest activity in early June 2019 described below, small phreatic explosions occurred in June and August 2018 (BGVN 43:09). An eruption in 1974 produced a lava dome in the center of the crater. The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) is the primary source of information for this September 2018-June 2019 reporting period.

Low-level unrest occurred from September 2018 through February 2019 with slightly elevated seismic activity (figure 6). Small explosions were seismically detected by AVO on 30 October, 5 and 16 November, and 11 December 2018, but they were not seen in regional infrasound data and satellite data did not show an ash cloud.

On 1, 7, and 9 June 2019, AVO reported small steam explosions as well as slightly elevated seismic activity. Steam plumes and surficial evidence of an explosion were not observed during these events. On 18 June 2019 weakly elevated surface temperatures were recorded, field crews working on Adak observed some steam emissions, and a gas flight was conducted. Elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide detected above the lava dome were likely associated with the steam explosions earlier in the month (figures 7 and 8). From 23 June through the end of the month seismicity began to decline back to background levels.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. A steam plume was seen at the summit of Great Sitkin on 7 December 2018. Photo by Andy Lewis and Bob Boyd; courtesy of AVO/USGS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Some degassing was observed on the southern flank of the Great Sitkin during an overflight on 18 June 2019. Photo by Laura Clor; image courtesy of AVO/USGS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. View of Great Sitkin with white plumes rising from the summit on 20 June 2019. Photo by Laura Clor, courtesy of AVO/USGS.

Geologic Background. The Great Sitkin volcano forms much of the northern side of Great Sitkin Island. A younger parasitic volcano capped by a small, 0.8 x 1.2 km ice-filled summit caldera was constructed within a large late-Pleistocene or early Holocene scarp formed by massive edifice failure that truncated an ancestral volcano and produced a submarine debris avalanche. Deposits from this and an older debris avalanche from a source to the south cover a broad area of the ocean floor north of the volcano. The summit lies along the eastern rim of the younger collapse scarp. Deposits from an earlier caldera-forming eruption of unknown age cover the flanks of the island to a depth up to 6 m. The small younger caldera was partially filled by lava domes emplaced in 1945 and 1974, and five small older flank lava domes, two of which lie on the coastline, were constructed along northwest- and NNW-trending lines. Hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles occur near the head of Big Fox Creek, south of the volcano. Historical eruptions have been recorded since the late-19th century.

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


Ibu (Indonesia) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ibu

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

Ibu volcano on Halmahera island in Indonesia began the current eruption episode on 5 April 2008. Since then, activity has largely consisted of small ash plumes with less frequent lava flows, lava dome growth, avalanches, and larger ash plumes up to 5.5 km above the crater. This report summarizes activity during December 2018 through June 2019 and is based on Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) reports by MAGMA Indonesia, reports by Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG) and Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), and various satellite data.

During December PVMBG reported ash plumes ranging from 200 to 800 m above the crater. There were 11 MODVOLC thermal alerts that registered during 1-12 December. An explosion on 12 January 2019 produced an ash plume that reached 800 m above the crater and dispersed to the S (figure 15). A report released for this event by Sutopo at BNPB said that Ibu had erupted almost every day over the past three months; an example given was of activity on 10 January consisting of 80 explosions. There were four MODVOLC thermal alerts through the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. An eruption at Ibu at 1712 on 21 January 2019 produced an ash plume that rose to 800 m above the crater. Courtesy of BNPB (color adjusted).

Throughout February explosions frequently produced ash plumes as high as 800 m above the crater, and nine MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued. Daily reports showed variable plume heights of 200-800 m most days throughout the month. Wind directions varied and dispersed the plumes in all directions. A VONA released at 1850 on 6 February reported an ash plume that rose to 1,925 m altitude (around 600 m above the summit) and dispersed S. Activity continued through March with the Darwin VAAC and PVMBG reporting explosions producing ash plumes to heights of 200-800 m above the crater and dispersing in various directions. There were ten MODVOLC alerts through the month.

Similar activity continued through April, May, and June, with ash plumes reaching 200-800 m above the crater. There were 12, 6, and 15 MODVOLC Alerts in April, May, and June, respectively.

Planet Scope satellite images show activity at a two vents near the center of the crater that were producing small lava flows from February through June (figure 16). Thermal anomalies were frequent during December 2018 through June 2019 across MODVOLC, MIROVA, and Sentinel-2 infrared data (figures 17 and 18). Sentinel-2 data showed minor variation in the location of thermal anomalies within the crater, possibly indicating lava flow activity, and MIROVA data showed relatively constant activity with a few reductions in thermal activity during January and February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Planet Scope natural color satellite images showing activity in the Ibu crater during January through June 2019, with white arrows indicating sites of activity. One vent is visible in the 21 February image, and a 330-m-long (from the far side of the vent) lava flow with flow ridges had developed by 24 March. A second vent was active by 12 May with a new lava flow reaching a maximum length of 520 m. Activity was centered back at the previous vent by 23-27 June. Natural color Planet Scope Imagery, copyright 2019 Planet Labs, Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Examples of thermal activity in the Ibu crater during January through May 2019. These Sentinel-2 satellite images show variations in hot areas in the crater due to a vent producing a small lava flow. Sentinel-2 false color (urban) images (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. MIROVA log radiative power plot of MODIS thermal infrared at Ibu from September 2018 through June 2019. The registered energy was relatively stable through December, with breaks in January and February. Regular thermal anomalies continued with slight variation through to the end of June. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38, East Jakarta 13120, Indonesia (URL: http://www.bnpb.go.id/); 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/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/).


Ebeko (Russia) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ebeko

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuing frequent moderate explosions though May 2019; ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk

The Ebeko volcano, located on the northern end of the Paramushir Island in the Kuril Islands, consists of many craters, lakes, and thermal features and has been frequently erupting since late February 2017. Typical activity includes ash plumes, explosive eruptions, and gas-and-steam activity. The previous report through November 2018 (BGVN 43:12) described frequent ash explosions that sometimes caused ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk (7 km E). The primary source of information is the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT). This report updates the volcanic activity at Ebeko for December 2018 through May 2019.

Frequent moderate explosive activity continued after November 2018. Volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk observed explosions sending up ash, which drifted N, NE, and E, resulting in ash falls on Severo-Kurilsk on 28 different days between December 2018 and March 2019. On 25 December 2018 an explosion sent ash up to a maximum altitude of 4.5 km and then drifted N for about 5 km. Explosions occurring on 8-10 March 2019 sent ash up to an altitude of 4 km, resulting in ashfall on Severo-Kurilsk on 9-10 March 2019. An ash plume from these explosions rose to a height of 2.5 km and drifted to a maximum distance of 30 km ENE.

Satellite data analyzed by KVERT registered 12 thermal anomalies from December 2018 through May 2019. According to satellite data analyzed by MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), only one thermal anomaly was recorded from December 2018-May 2019, and no hotspot pixels were recognized using satellite thermal data from the MODVOLC algorithm.

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

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); 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/).


Klyuchevskoy (Russia) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Klyuchevskoy

Russia

56.056°N, 160.642°E; summit elev. 4754 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak thermal anomalies and moderate Strombolian-type eruptions in September 2018-June 2019

Klyuchevskoy has had alternating eruptive and less active periods since August 2015. Activity has included lava flows, a growing cinder cone, thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam plumes, and ash explosions. Though some eruptions occur near the summit crater, major explosive and effusive eruptions have also occurred from flank craters (BGVN 42:04 and 43:05). Intermittent moderate gas-and-steam and ash emissions were previously reported from mid-February to mid-August 2018. The Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT) is the primary source of information for this September 2018-June 2019 reporting period.

KVERT reported that moderate gas-and-steam activity, some of which contained a small amount of ash, and weak thermal anomalies occurred intermittently from the beginning of September 2018 through mid-April 2019. On 21-22 April 2019 webcam data showed a gas-and-steam plume extending about 160 km SE (figure 31). Moderate Strombolian-type volcanism began late April 2019 and continued intermittently through June 2019. On 11-12 June webcam data showed explosions that sent ash up to a maximum altitude of 6 km, with the resulting ash plume extending about 200 km WNW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Gas-and-steam plume containing some amount of ash rising from the summit of Klyuchevskoy on 22 April 2019. Photo by A. Klimova, courtesy of Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (IVS FEB RAS).

Thermal anomalies were noted by KVERT during two days in September 2018, six days in April 2019, eleven days in May 2019, and six days in June 2019. MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed infrequent weak thermal anomalies December 2018 through early May 2019.

Geologic Background. Klyuchevskoy (also spelled Kliuchevskoi) is Kamchatka's highest and most active volcano. Since its origin about 6000 years ago, the beautifully symmetrical, 4835-m-high basaltic stratovolcano has produced frequent moderate-volume explosive and effusive eruptions without major periods of inactivity. It rises above a saddle NE of sharp-peaked Kamen volcano and lies SE of the broad Ushkovsky massif. More than 100 flank eruptions have occurred during the past roughly 3000 years, with most lateral craters and cones occurring along radial fissures between the unconfined NE-to-SE flanks of the conical volcano between 500 m and 3600 m elevation. The morphology of the 700-m-wide summit crater has been frequently modified by historical eruptions, which have been recorded since the late-17th century. Historical eruptions have originated primarily from the summit crater, but have also included numerous major explosive and effusive eruptions from flank craters.

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); 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/).


Yasur (Vanuatu) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Yasur

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strong thermal activity with incandescent ejecta continues, February-May 2019

Yasur volcano on Tanna Island has been characterized by Strombolian activity with large incandescent bombs, frequent explosions, lava fountaining, and ash emissions for much of its known eruptive history. Melanesians from nearby islands are believed to have settled Tanna in about 400 BCE; it is now part of the nation of Vanuatu, independent since 1980. The Kwamera language (or Tannese) spoken on the SE coast of the island is thought to be the source of the name of the island. No known oral history describes volcanic activity; the first written English-language documentation of activity dates to 5 August 1774, when Captain James Cook saw "a great fire" on Tanna Island. Cook realized that it "was a Volcano which threw up vast quantities of fire and smoak and made a rumbling noise which was heard at a good distance" (The Captain Cook Society) (figure 51).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Incandescence, steam, and dark ash from Yasur fill the sky in this sketch representing Captain James Cook's landing in the 'Resolution' at Tanna Island on 5 August 1774. The form of the volcano is behind the ship, the incandescence is in the upper right next to the ship's masts. "Landing at Tanna" by William Hodges, 1775-1776, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. The Maritime Museum noted that this is one of a group of panel paintings produced by Hodges of encounters with islanders during the voyage, in which the European perception of each society at the time is portrayed. Image taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Based on numerous accounts from ships logs and other sources, volcanic activity has been continuous since that time. During periods of higher activity, multiple vents within the summit crater send ejecta 100 m or more above the crater rim, with large bombs occasionally landing hundreds of meters away. Continued activity during February-May 2019 is covered in this report with information provided by the Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) which monitors the volcano and satellite data; photographs from tourists also provide valuable information about this remote location.

VMGD has maintained Alert Level 2 at Yasur since October 2016, indicating that it is in a major state of unrest. There is a permanent exclusion zone within 395 m of the eruptive vents where access is prohibited due to multiple hazards, primarily from large incandescent bombs up to 4 m in diameter which have been ejected from the vents onto the crater rim in the past, resulting in fatalities (BGVN 20:08).

Satellite and ground based information all support high levels of thermal activity during February -May 2019. MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued 11 times in February, 27 times in March, and 20 times each in April and May. The MIROVA graph also indicated the ongoing consistently high levels of thermal energy throughout the period (figure 52). Plumes of SO2 emissions are common from Vanuatu's volcanoes; newer higher resolution data available beginning in 2019 reveal a persistent stream of SO2 from Yasur on a near-daily basis (figure 53).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. The MIROVA graph of thermal energy at Yasur from 3 September 2018 through May 2019 indicates the ongoing activity at the volcano. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. The SO2 plumes from Yasur were persistent during January-May 2019 when they were visible many days of each week throughout the period. Top left: On 12 January plumes were visible drifting E from both Ambrym (top) and Yasur (bottom). Top right: Plumes drifted W from three Vanuatu volcanoes on 7 February, Gaua (top), Ambrym (middle) and Yasur (bottom). Bottom left: On 12 March N drifting plumes could be seen from Ambae (top) and Yasur (bottom). On 27 April, only Yasur had an SO2 plume drifting W. Courtesy of Goddard Space Flight Center.

Satellite imagery confirmed that the heat sources from Yasur were vents within the summit crater of the pyroclastic cone. Both northern and southern vent areas were active. On 7 March 2019 the N vent area had a strong thermal signal. Ten days later, on 17 March, similar intensity thermal anomalies were present in both the N and S vent areas (figure 54). On 6 April the S vent area had a stronger signal, and gas emissions from both vents were drifting N (figure 55). Satellite imagery from 21 May 2019 indicated a strong thermal signal inside the crater in the area of the vents, and included a weaker signal clearly visible on the inside E crater rim. Strong Strombolian activity or spatter sending large incandescent bombs as far as the crater rim are a likely explanation for the signal (figure 56), underscoring the hazardous nature of approaching the crater rim.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. Strong thermal anomalies from the crater of Yasur's pyroclastic cone seen in satellite images confirmed the ongoing high level of activity. Left: 7 March 2019, a strong thermal anomaly from the N vent area, shown with "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2). Right: 17 March 2019, thermal anomalies at both the N and S vent areas, shown with "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). The crater is about 500 m in diameter. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Strong thermal anomalies (left) and gas emissions (right) at Yasur were captured with different bands in the same Sentinel-2 satellite image on 6 April 2019. Left: The thermal anomaly in the S vent area was stronger than in the N vent area, "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Right: Gas plumes drifted N from both vent areas, "Natural color" rendering (bands 4, 3, 2). The crater is about 500 m in diameter. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Thermal activity from the crater of Yasur on 21 May 2019 produced a strong thermal signal from the center of the crater and a weaker signal on the inside E crater rim, likely the result of hazardous incandescent bombs and ejecta, frequent products of the activity at Yasur. Left: "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Right: "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2). The crater is about 0.5 km in diameter. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Tourists visit Yasur on a regular basis. A former lake on the N side of Yasur has left ripples in the sand deposits over older volcanic rocks on the N side of the volcano (figure 57) since it drained in 2000 (BGVN 28:01). Visitors are allowed to approach the S rim of the crater where incandescence from both the N and S vents is usually visible (figure 58). Incandescent spatter from the convecting lava in the vents is highly dangerous and unpredictable and often covers the inner slopes of the rim as well as sending bombs outside the crater (figure 59).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. The pyroclastic cone of Yasur viewed from the north on 6 May 2019. Ripples in volcaniclastic sand in the foreground are remnants of a lake that was present on the N side of the volcano until a natural dam breached in 2000. Copyrighted photo by Nick Page, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Two glowing vents were visible from the south rim of Yasur on 6 May 2019. The S vent area is in the foreground, the N vent area is in the upper left. Copyrighted by Nick Page, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Incandescent spatter at Yasur on 6 May 2019 sent fragments of lava against the inside crater wall and onto the rim. The convecting lava in the vent can be seen in the lower foreground. Copyrighted photo by Nick Page, used with permission.

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

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); 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/); The Captain Cook Society (URL: https://www.captaincooksociety.com/home/detail/225-years-ago-july-september-1774); Royal Museums Greenwich (URL: https://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/13383.html); Wikimedia Commons, (URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Landing_at_Tana_one_of_the_New_Hebrides,_by_William_Hodges.jpg); Nick Page, Australia,Flickr: (URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/152585166@N08/).


Bagana (Papua New Guinea) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Bagana

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Infrequent thermal anomalies, no ash emissions, February-May 2019

With historical eruptions reported back to 1842, Papua New Guinea's Bagana volcano on the island of Bougainville has been characterized by viscous andesitic lava flows down the steep flanks of its cone, along with intermittent ash plumes and pyroclastic flows. Ongoing thermal anomalies and frequent ash plumes have been typical of activity during the current eruption since it began in early 2000. Activity declined significantly in December 2018 and remained low through May 2019, the period covered in this report (figure 33). Information for this report comes primarily from satellite images and thermal data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. The MIROVA plot of radiative power at Bagana from 1 September 2018 through May 2019 shows a marked decline in thermal activity during December 2018 after ash explosions and satellite observations of flows during the previous months. Courtesy of MIROVA.

The last ash emission at Bagana was reported on 1 December 2018 by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). A Sentinel-2 satellite image showed a linear thermal anomaly trending NW from the summit on 14 December (BGVN 50:01). On 8 January 2019, an image contained a dense steam plume drifting E and a very faint thermal anomaly on the N flank a few hundred meters from the summit. A more distinct thermal anomaly at the summit appeared on 22 February 2019 (figure 34). A visitor to the region photographed incandescence on the flank, likely from the volcano, at dawn around 19 February 2019 (figure 35).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery revealed thermal anomalies at Bagana in January and February 2019. Left: a very faint thermal anomaly was N of the summit at the edge of the E-drifting steam plume on 8 January 2019. Right: A thermal anomaly was located at the summit, at the base of the NE-drifting steam plume on 22 February 2019. Sentinel-2 satellite images with "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. A visitor near Bagana spotted incandescence on the flank at dawn, possibly from a lava flow. Posted online 19 February 2019. Courtesy of Emily Stanford.

Two faint thermal anomalies were visible at the summit in satellite imagery on 19 March; a single one appeared on 29 March 2019 (figure 36). No thermal anomalies were recorded in Sentinel-2 images during April or May, but steam plumes and gas emissions were visible through cloud cover on multiple occasions (figure 37).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Faint thermal anomalies at Bagana were recorded in satellite imagery twice during March 2019. Left: 19 March, two anomalies appear right of the date label. Right: 29 March, a small anomaly appears right of the date label. Sentinel-2 image rendered with "Atmospheric Penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Steam and gas emissions at Bagana were recorded in satellite imagery during April and May 2019. Left: A steam plume drifted NW from the summit on 23 April, visible through dense cloud cover. Right: A gas plume drifted SW from the summit on 18 May. Sentinel-2 image with "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: 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/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Emily Stanford (Twitter: https://twitter.com/NerdyBatLady, image posted at https://twitter.com/NerdyBatLady/status/1098052063009792001/photo/1).


Ambae (Vanuatu) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambae

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Declining thermal activity and no explosions during February-May 2019

Ambae (Aoba) is a large basaltic shield volcano in the New Hebrides arc, part of the multi-island country of Vanuatu. Its periodic phreatic and pyroclastic explosions originating in the summit crater lakes have been recorded since the 16th century. A pyroclastic cone appeared in Lake Voui during November 2005-February 2006 (BGVN 31:12, figure 30); an explosive eruption from a new pyroclastic cone in the lake began in mid-September 2017 (BGVN 43:02). Activity included high-altitude ash emissions (9.1 km), lava flows, and Strombolian activity. Intermittent pulses of ash emissions during the following months resulted in extensive ashfall and evacuations; multiple communities were affected by lahars. The most recent episode of the eruption from July to September 2018 (BGVN 44:02) resulted in 11-km-altitude ash plumes and the evacuation of the entire island due to heavy ashfall and lahars. This report covers activity from February to May 2019, with information provided by the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) and satellite data from multiple sources.

Activity diminished after the extensive eruptive phase of July-September 2018 when substantial ash plumes and ashfall resulted in evacuations. An explosion with an ash plume on 30 October 2018 was the last activity reported for 2018. Thermal alerts were reported by the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) MODVOLC thermal alerts system through January 2019, and the Log Radiative Power graph prepared by the MIROVA project showed decreasing thermal anomalies into June 2019 (figure 92). Satellite images recorded in April and May 2019 (figure 93) showed the configuration of the summit lakes to be little changed from the previous November except for the color (BGVN 44:02, figure 89). No ash emissions or SO2 plumes were reported during the period. VMGD noted that the volcano remained at Alert Level 2 through May 2019 with a 2-km-radius exclusion zone around the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. The MIROVA log radiative power plot for Ambae showed ongoing intermittent thermal anomalies from early September 2018 through May 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. Satellite imagery in April and May 2019 showed little change in the configuration of lakes at the summit of Ambae since November 2018 (see BGVN 44:02, figure 89). Left: 24 April 2019. Right: 29 May 2019. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery with "Natural Color" rendering (bands 4, 3, 2); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Sangay (Ecuador) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Sangay

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosion on 26 March 2019; activity from 10 May through June produced ash plumes, lava flows, and pyroclastic flows

Sangay is the southernmost active volcano in Ecuador, with confirmed historical eruptions going back to 1628. The previous eruption occurred during August and December and was characterized by ash plumes reaching 2,500 m above the crater. Lava flows and pyroclastic flows descended the eastern and southern flanks. This report summarizes activity during January through July 2019 and is based on reports by Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

After the December 2018 eruption there was a larger reduction in seismicity, down to one event per day. During January, February, and most of March there was no recorded activity and low seismicity until the Washington VAAC reported an ash plume at 0615 on 26 March. The ash plume rose to a height of around 1 km and dispersed to the SW as seen in GOES 16 satellite imagery as a dark plume within white meteorological clouds. There was no seismic data available due to technical problems with the station.

More persistent eruptive activity began on 10 May with thermal alerts (figure 30) and an ash plume at 0700 that dispersed to the W. An explosion was recorded at 1938 on 11 May, producing an ash plume and incandescent material down the flank (figure 31). Two M 2 earthquakes were detected between 3.5 and 9 km below the crater on 10 May, possibly corresponding to explosive activity. By 17 May there were two active eruptive centers, the central crater and the Ñuñurcu dome (figure 32).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. MIROVA log radiative power plot of MODIS thermal infrared at Sangay for the year ending June 2019. The plot shows the August to December 2018 eruption, a break in activity, and resumed activity in May 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. An explosion at Sangay on 10 May 2019 sent ballistic projectiles up to 650 m above the crater at a velocity of over 400 km/hour, an ash plume that rose to over 600 m, and incandescent blocks that traveled over 1.5 km from the crater at velocities of around 150 km/hour. Screenshots are from video by IG-EPN.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. A photograph of the southern flank of Sangay on 17 May 2019 with the corresponding thermal infrared image in the top right corner. The letters correspond to: a) a fissure to the W of the lava flow; b) an active lava flow from the Ñuñurcu dome; c) the central crater producing a volcanic gas plume; d) a pyroclastic flow deposit produced by collapsing material from the front of the lava flow. Prepared by M. Almeida; courtesy of IG-EPN (special report No. 3 – 2019).

Activity at the central crater by 21 May was characterized by sporadic explosive eruptions that ejected hot ballistic ejecta (blocks) with velocities over 400 km/hour; after landing on the flanks the blocks travelled out to 2.5 km from the crater. Ash plumes reached heights between 0.9-2.3 km above the crater and dispersed mainly to the W and NW; gas plumes also dispersed to the W. The Ñuñurcu dome is located around 190 m SSE of the central crater and by 21 May had produced a lava flow over 470 m long with a maximum width of 175 m and an estimated minimum volume of 300,000 to 600,000 m3. Small pyroclastic flows and rockfalls resulted from collapse of the lava flow front, depositing material over a broad area on the E-SE flanks (figure 33). One pyroclastic flow reached 340 m and covered an area of 14,300 m2. During the 17 May observation flight the lava flow surface reached 277°C.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. A view of the ESE flanks of Sangay on 17 May 2019. The area within the black dotted line is the main area of pyroclastic flow deposition from the Ñuñurco Dome. Photo by M. Almeida; courtesy of IG-EPN (special report No. 4 – 2019).

At the end of June activity was continuing at the central crater and Ñuñurco Dome. At least three lava flows had been generated from the dome down the SE flank and pyroclastic flows continued to form from the flow fronts (figure 34). Pyroclastic material had been washed into the Upano river and steam was observed in the Volcán River possibly due to the presence of hot rocks. Ash plumes continued through June reaching heights of 800 m above the crater (figure 35), but no ashfall had been reported in nearby communities.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Sentinel-2 natural color (left) and thermal (center) images (bands 12, 11, 4), and 1:50 000 scale maps (right) of Sangay with interpretation on the background of a 30 m numerical terrain model (WGS84; Zone 17S) (Prepared by B. Bernard). The dates from top to bottom are 17 May, 22 May, 27 May, 16 June, and 26 June 2019. Prepared by B. Bernard; courtesy IG-EPN (special report No. 4 – 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Plots giving the heights and dispersal direction of ash plumes at Sangay during May and June 2019. Top: Ash plume heights measures in meters above the crater. Bottom: A plot showing that the dominant dispersal direction of ash plumes is to the W during this time. Courtesy of IG-EPN (special report No. 4 – 2019).

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec); 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); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) — May 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kadovar

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash emissions and thermal anomalies during October 2018-April 2019; lava emissions at the E flank coast and summit area

Steeply-sloped Kadovar Island is located about 25 km NNE from the mouth of the Sepik River on the mainland of Papua New Guinea. The first confirmed historical eruption with ash plumes and lava extrusion began in early January 2018, resulting in the evacuation of around 600 residents from the N side of the approximately 1.4-km-diameter island (BGVN 43:03); continuing activity from October 2018 through April 2019 is covered in this report. Information was provided by the Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), satellite sources, and photos from visiting tourists.

Activity during March-September 2018. After the first recorded explosions with ash plumes in early January 2018, intermittent ash plumes continued through March 2018. A lava flow on the E flank extended outward from the island, extruding from a vent low on the E flank and forming a dome just offshore. The dome collapsed and regrew twice during February 2018; the growth rate slowed somewhat during March. A satellite image from 21 March 2018 was one of the first showing the new dome growing off the E flank with a thermal anomaly and sediment plumes in the water drifting N and E from the area. Thermal anomalies were visible at both the summit vent and the E-flank coastal dome in in April and May 2018, along with steam and gas rising from both locations (figure 19).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of Kadovar provided clear evidence of thermal activity at the new E-flank coastal dome during March-May 2018. Sediment plumes were visible drifting N and E in the water adjacent to the coastal dome. The summit crater also had a persistent steam plume and thermal anomaly in April and May 2018. Left: 21 March 2018. Middle 10 April 2018. Right: 15 May 2018. Images all shown with "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

A trip to Kadovar by tourists in mid-May 2018 provided close-up views of the dense steam plumes at the summit and the growing E-flank coastal dome (figures 20 and 21). The thermal anomaly was still strong at the E-flank coastal dome in a mid-June satellite image, but appeared diminished in late July. Intermittent puffs of steam rose from both the summit and the coastal dome in mid-June; the summit plume was much denser on 29 July (figure 22). Ash emissions were reported by the Darwin VAAC and photographed by tourists during June (figure 23) and September 2018 (BGVN 43:10), but thermal activity appeared to decline during that period (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. A tourist photographed Kadovar and posted it online on 19 May 2018. Steam plumes rose from both the summit and the E-flank coastal dome in this view taken from the SE. Courtesy of Tico Liu.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. A closeup view of the E-flank coastal dome at Kadovar posted online on 19 May 2018 showed steam rising from several places on the dome, and dead trees on the flank of the volcano from recent eruptive activity. Courtesy of Tico Liu.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. The thermal anomaly was still strong at the E-flank coastal dome of Kadovar in a 14 June 2018 satellite image (left), but appeared diminished on 29 July 2018 (right). Intermittent puffs of steam rose from both the summit and the coastal dome on 14 June; the summit plume was much denser on 29 July. Sentinel-2 images both show "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. An ash plume rose from the summit of Kadovar and drifted W while steam and gas rose from the E-flank coastal dome, posted online 27 June 2018. Courtesy of Shari Kalt.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Thermal activity at Kadovar for the year ending on 26 April 2019 was consistent from late April 2018 through mid-June 2018; a quiet period afterwards through late September ended with renewed and increased thermal activity beginning in October 2018. All distances are actually within 1 km of the summit of Kadovar, a DEM georeferencing error makes some locations appear further away. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Multiple satellite images during August and early September 2018 showed little or no sign of thermal activity at the E-flank coastal dome, with only intermittent steam plumes from the summit. A new steam plume on the eastern slope appeared in a 22 September 2018 image (figure 25). The Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) reported explosive activity on the afternoon of 21 September. Noises of explosions were accompanied by dark gray and brown ash clouds that rose several hundred meters above the summit crater and drifted NW. Local reports indicated that the activity continued through 26 September and ashfall was reported on Blupblup island during the period. Ground observers noted incandescence visible from both the summit and the E-flank coastal dome.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Steam plumes were seen in satellite images of Kadovar during August and early September 2018, but no thermal anomalies. Intermittent steam plumes rose from the summit vent on 28 August (left). A new dense steam plume originating mid-way down the E flank appeared on 22 September 2018 (right). Sentinel-2 images both show "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during October-December 2018. Evidence of both thermal and explosive activity reappeared in October 2018 (figure 24). The Darwin VAAC reported intermittent ash plumes rising to 2.7 km altitude and drifting W on 1 October 2018. Low-level continuous ash emissions rising less than a kilometer and drifting W were reported early on 3 October. A higher plume drifted WNW at 2.4 km altitude on 7 October. Intermittent discrete emissions of ash continued daily at that altitude through 16 October, drifting NW or W. Ash emissions drifting NW and thermal anomalies at the summit were visible in satellite imagery on 2 and 12 October (figure 26). A brief ash emission was reported on 21 October 2018 at 2.4 km altitude drifting NE for a few hours. Intermittent ash emissions also appeared on 29 October moving SE at 1.8 km altitude. For the following three days ash drifted SW, W, then NW at 2.1 km altitude, finally dissipating on 1 November; the thermal anomaly at the summit was large and intense in satellite images on 27 October and 1 November compared with previous images (figure 27).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Ash emissions drifting NW and thermal anomalies at the summit of Kadovar were visible in satellite imagery on 2 and 12 October 2018; no thermal activity was noted at the E-flank coastal dome. Sentinel-2 images both show "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Strong thermal anomalies at the summit of Kadovar on 27 October and 1 November 2018 were not concealed by the steam plumes drifting SW and NW from the summit. Sentinel-2 images both show "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

An ash explosion was photographed by tourists on a cruise ship on the afternoon of 6 November 2018 (figure 28). After the explosion, a dense steam plume rose from a large dome of lava near the summit at the top of the E flank (figure 29). Continuous ash emissions rising to 1.8 km altitude were reported by the Darwin VAAC beginning on 9 November 2018 moving WNW and lasting about 24 hours. A new ash plume clearly identifiable on satellite imagery appeared on 13 November at 2.4 km altitude moving E, again visible for about 24 hours. Another shipboard tourist photographed an ash plume on 18 November rising a few hundred meters above the summit (figure 30).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. An explosion at Kadovar photographed on the afternoon of 6 November 2018 sent a dense gray ash plume hundreds of meters above the summit drifting W; blocks of volcanic debris descended the flanks as well. View is from the S. Courtesy of Coral Expeditions, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Tourists on a cruise ship passed by Kadovar on 6 November 2018 and witnessed a steam plume drifting W from a large dome of lava near the summit at the top of the E flank after an ash explosion. Smaller steam plumes were visible in the middle and at the base of the E flank, but no activity was visible at the coastal dome off the E flank (lower right). View is from the SE. Courtesy of Coral Expeditions, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. An ash plume rose at dusk from the summit of Kadovar and was witnessed by a cruise ship tourist on 18 November 2018. View is from the E; the E-flank coastal dome is a lighter area in the lower foreground. Courtesy of Philip Stern.

Low-level ash emissions were reported briefly on 28 November at about 1 km altitude moving SE. Intermittent puffs of ash were seen drifting WSW on 2 and 3 December at about 1.2 km altitude. They were the last VAAC reports for 2018. Two thermal anomalies were visible at the summit in satellite imagery on 26 November, they grew larger and more intense through 16 December when multiple anomalies appeared at the summit and on the E flank (figure 31).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Multiple thermal anomalies near the summit of Kadovar grew larger and more intense between 26 November and 16 December 2018. Sentinel-2 images show "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during January-April 2019. Multiple thermal anomalies were still visible at the summit in satellite imagery on 5 January 2019 as regular puffs of steam drifted SE from the summit, leaving a long trail in the atmosphere (figure 32). Additional imagery on 10 and 30 January showed a single anomaly at the summit, even through dense meteorologic clouds. A short-lived ash emission rose to 2.4 km altitude on 11 January 2019 and drifted E; it dissipated the next day. Multiple minor intermittent discrete ash plumes extended WNW at 3.0 km altitude on 18 January; they dissipated within six hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Multiple thermal anomalies were visible in satellite imagery of Kadovar on 5 January 2019 as regular puffs of steam drifted SE from the summit. Sentinel-2 image shows "Geology" rendering using bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force released images of eruptive activity on 10 February 2019 (figure 33). Satellite imagery in February was largely obscured by weather; two thermal anomalies were barely visible through clouds at the summit on 14 February. The Darwin VAAC reported an ash emission at 1.8 km altitude drifting ESE on 16 February; a similar plume appeared on 21 February that also dissipated in just a few hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. The Royal New Zealand Air Force released images of an ash plume at Kadovar on 10 February 2019. Courtesy of Brad Scott.

Satellite imagery on 1 March 2019 confirmed a strong thermal anomaly from the summit and down the E flank almost to the coast. A month later on 5 April the anomaly was nearly as strong and a dense ash and steam plume drifted N from the summit (figure 34). A tourist witnessed a dense steam plume rising from the summit on 4 April (figure 35). Multiple discrete eruptions were observed in satellite imagery by the Darwin VAAC on 9 April at 1.2-1.5 km altitude drifting SE. The thermal anomaly at the summit persisted in satellite imagery taken on 15 April 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. A strong thermal anomaly appeared from the summit down the E flank of Kadovar on 1 March 2019 (left). A month later on 5 April the strong anomaly was still present beneath a dense plume of ash and steam (right). Sentinel-2 imagery shows "Geology" rendering with bands 12, 4, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. A dense steam plume is shown here rising from the summit area of Kadovar, posted online on 4 April 2019. View is from the N. Courtesy of Chaiyasit Saengsirirak.

Geologic Background. The 2-km-wide island of Kadovar is the emergent summit of a Bismarck Sea stratovolcano of Holocene age. Kadovar is part of the Schouten Islands, and lies off the coast of New Guinea, about 25 km N of the mouth of the Sepik River. The village of Gewai is perched on the crater rim. A 365-m-high lava dome forming the high point of the andesitic volcano fills an arcuate landslide scarp that is open to the south, and submarine debris-avalanche deposits occur in that direction. Thick lava flows with columnar jointing forms low cliffs along the coast. The youthful island lacks fringing or offshore reefs. No certain historical eruptions are known; the latest activity was a period of heightened thermal phenomena in 1976.

Information Contacts: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; 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/); Tico Liu, Hong Kong (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tico.liu. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155389178192793&set=pcb.10155389178372793&type=3&theater); Shari Kalt (Instagram user LuxuryTravelAdvisor: https://www.instagram.com/luxurytraveladviser/, https://www.instagram.com/p/BkhalnuHu2j/); Coral Expeditions, Australia (URL: https://www.coralexpeditions.com/, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/coralexpeditions); Philip Stern (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sternph, https://www.facebook.com/sternph/posts/2167501866616908); Brad Scott, GNS Science Volcanologist at GNS Science, New Zealand (Twitter: https://twitter.com/Eruptn); Chaiyasit Saengsirirak, Bangkok, Thailand (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chaiyasit.saengsirirak, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2197513186969355).


Sarychev Peak (Russia) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Sarychev Peak

Russia

48.092°N, 153.2°E; summit elev. 1496 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Brief ash emission reported on 16 May 2019

Located on Matua Island in the central Kurile Islands of Russia, Sarychev Peak has historical observations of eruptions dating back to 1765. Thermal activity in October 2017 (BGVN 43:11) was the first sign of renewed activity since a major eruption with ash plumes and pyroclastic flows in June 2009 (BGVN 34:06). The following month (November 2017) there was fresh dark material on the NW flank that appeared to be from a flow of some kind. After that, intermittent thermal anomalies were the only activity reported until explosions with ash plumes took place that lasted for about a week in mid-September 2018 (figure 24). Additional explosions in mid-October were the last reported for 2018. A single ash explosion in May 2019 was the only reported activity from November 2018 to May 2019, the period covered in this report. Information is provided by the Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team (SVERT) and the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), members of the Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (FEB RAS), and from satellite data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Multiple ash plumes were observed at Sarychev Peak during September 2018. Left: 13 September. Right: 18 September. Photos by S. A. Tatarenkov, courtesy of IMGG FEB RAS.

Satellite imagery in mid-September and early October 2018 showed gas emissions from the summit vent, and a weak thermal anomaly in October (figure 25). KVERT lowered the Aviation Color Code from Orange to Yellow on 1 November 2018, and SVERT released a VONA on 12 November 2018 lowering the Aviation Color Code from Yellow to Green after the ash emissions in October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Minor gas emissions were visible at Sarychev Peak in satellite imagery in mid-September and early October 2018; a possible weak thermal anomaly appeared in the summit vent in October. Top left: 13 September. Top right: 18 September. Bottom left: 8 October. Bottom right: 11 October. The 13 September image uses "Natural Color" rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) and the other images use "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2). Sentinel-2 satellite imagery courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Sentinel-2 satellite instruments in March, April, and May 2019 acquired images that showed dark streaks in the snow-covered peak radiating out from the summit vent in various directions. As the spring snows melted, more dark streaks appeared. It is unclear whether the streaks represent fresh ash, particulates from gas emissions in the snow, or concentrated material from earlier emissions that were exposed during the spring melting (figure 26). No further activity was reported until the Tokyo VAAC noted an eruption on 16 May 2019 that produced an ash plume which rose to 2.4 km altitude and drifted S. It was visible in satellite imagery for 3 or 4 hours before dissipating. SVERT reported the ash plume visible up to 50 km SE of the island. They also noted that weak thermal anomalies had been seen in satellite data on 10, 12, and 17 May 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Streaks of brown radiate outward from the summit vent at Sarychev Peak in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery taken during March-May 2019. The exact material and timing of deposition is unknown. Top left: 17 March. Top middle: 14 April. Top right: 19 April. Bottom left: 29 April, Bottom middle: 6 May. Bottom right: 26 May 2019. Sentinel-2 images with "Natural Color" rendering using bands 4,3, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Sarychev Peak, one of the most active volcanoes of the Kuril Islands, occupies the NW end of Matua Island in the central Kuriles. The andesitic central cone was constructed within a 3-3.5-km-wide caldera, whose rim is exposed only on the SW side. A dramatic 250-m-wide, very steep-walled crater with a jagged rim caps the volcano. The substantially higher SE rim forms the 1496 m high point of the island. Fresh-looking lava flows, prior to activity in 2009, had descended in all directions, often forming capes along the coast. Much of the lower-angle outer flanks of the volcano are overlain by pyroclastic-flow deposits. Eruptions have been recorded since the 1760s and include both quiet lava effusion and violent explosions. Large eruptions in 1946 and 2009 produced pyroclastic flows that reached the sea.

Information Contacts: Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, (FEB RAS IMGG), 693 022 Russia, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, ul. Science 1B (URL: http://imgg.ru/ru); Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team (SVERT), Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Science, Nauki st., 1B, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, 693022 (URL: http://www.imgg.ru/en/, http://www.imgg.ru/ru/svert/reports); Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); 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).


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

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake remains active through May 2019; three new vents around the secondary cone

Since at least 1971 scientists and tourists have observed a lava lake within the Nyiragongo summit crater. Lava flows have been a hazard in the past for the nearby city of Goma (15 km S). The previous report (BGVN 43:06) of activity between November 2017 and May 2018 described nearly daily record of thermal anomalies due to the active lava lake and lava fountaining, gas-and-steam plumes, and the opening of a new vent within the crater in February 2016. Monthly reports from the Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG) disseminate information regarding the volcano's activity. This report updates the activity during June 2018-May 2019.

OVG noted that the level of the lava lake changes frequently, and was lower when observed on October 2018, 12 April 2019, and 12 May 2019. According to data from the OVG, on 15 April 2019 the secondary cone that formed in February 2016 produced lava flows and ejecta. In addition, at least three other vents formed surrounding this secondary cone. During most of April 2019 the lava lake was still active; however, beginning on 12 April 2019, seismic and lava lake activity both declined.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data continues to show almost daily, strong thermal anomalies every month from June 2018 through 24 May 2019 (figure 66). Similarly, the MODVOLC algorithm reports a majority of the hotspot pixels (2,406) occurring within the lava lake at the summit crater (figure 67).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Thermal anomalies at Nyiragongo for June 2018 through 24 May 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were frequent and strong. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. Map showing the number of MODVOLC hotspot pixels at Nyiragongo from 1 June 2018 to 31 May 2019. Nyiragongo (2,423 pixels) is at the bottom center; Nyamuragira volcano (342 pixels) is about 13 km NW. Courtesy of HIGP-MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

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

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Goma, North Kivu, DR Congo (URL: https://www.facebook.com/Observatoire-Volcanologique-de-Goma-OVG-180016145663568/); 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/).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 21, Number 11 (November 1996)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Asamayama (Japan)

Seismic activity continues

Iwatesan (Japan)

Microearthquakes and tremor

Izu-Tobu (Japan)

Seismic activity increases in October

Karangetang (Indonesia)

October ash explosions and Strombolian eruptions

Kelut (Indonesia)

Crater lake temperature about 4°C above normal

Kerinci (Indonesia)

Seismic signals and some ash-bearing plumes

Kilauea (United States)

Eruptive activity continues; lava-bench collapses

Krakatau (Indonesia)

July and August lava flows; September and October ash explosions

Kujusan (Japan)

Ongoing seismicity

Lokon-Empung (Indonesia)

Low-level activity and shallow earthquakes

Momotombo (Nicaragua)

Seasonally varying fumarole temperatures

Monowai (New Zealand)

September T-waves from an interpreted eruption

Negro, Cerro (Nicaragua)

Fumarole temperatures decrease in November

Pacaya (Guatemala)

Eruption on 11 November drops over 3.5 cm of ash

Ruapehu (New Zealand)

Variable-intensity eruptions continue

Semeru (Indonesia)

A 2-km-long pyroclastic flow on 7 October; minor ashfall

Slamet (Indonesia)

A modest steam plume and seismic signals during September

Soputan (Indonesia)

Dome glow, lava flows, and concerns about rapid dome growth

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Cracks and landslides on SW wall cause major concern

White Island (New Zealand)

Inflating and heating trends cease and reverse



Asamayama (Japan) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Asamayama

Japan

36.406°N, 138.523°E; summit elev. 2568 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismic activity continues

Seismicity was high during September: The monthly total number of earthquakes at Station B, 2 km S from the summit, was 874. The daily total number of earthquakes was 30-50 with a maximum of 71 on 3 September. Seismicity decreased in October: the total number of earthquakes recorded at station B was 702.

An abrupt increase in seismicity took place on 10 November when 216 earthquakes were recorded. Activity decreased the next day and then increased on 27 November. The monthly total number of earthquakes was 769.

Geologic Background. Asamayama, Honshu's most active volcano, overlooks the resort town of Karuizawa, 140 km NW of Tokyo. The volcano is located at the junction of the Izu-Marianas and NE Japan volcanic arcs. The modern Maekake cone forms the summit and is situated east of the horseshoe-shaped remnant of an older andesitic volcano, Kurofuyama, which was destroyed by a late-Pleistocene landslide about 20,000 years before present (BP). Growth of a dacitic shield volcano was accompanied by pumiceous pyroclastic flows, the largest of which occurred about 14,000-11,000 BP, and by growth of the Ko-Asama-yama lava dome on the east flank. Maekake, capped by the Kamayama pyroclastic cone that forms the present summit, is probably only a few thousand years old and has an historical record dating back at least to the 11th century CE. Maekake has had several major plinian eruptions, the last two of which occurred in 1108 (Asamayama's largest Holocene eruption) and 1783 CE.

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


Iwatesan (Japan) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Iwatesan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Microearthquakes and tremor

On 11 September, 2 October, and 24 and 25 November, shallow volcanic microearthquakes were recorded below Iwate. On 12 September and 11 October small-amplitude volcanic tremors were observed.

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


Izu-Tobu (Japan) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Izu-Tobu

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismic activity increases in October

Seismicity increased during the night of 15 October and the Kamata seismic station in Ito City recorded 2,172 events on 16 October; a gradual decline in seismic activity then followed. The largest earthquake had M 4.1. There were five low-frequency earthquakes recorded between 18 and 20 October. The total number of earthquakes registered at Kamata station during October was 5,876. There were 218 earthquakes in November, 61 of them on 3 November.

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

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


Karangetang (Indonesia) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


October ash explosions and Strombolian eruptions

During October, Karengetang produced ash explosions and occasional Strombolian eruptions every day. These rose to several hundred meters above the crater rim. The eruptions resulted in pyroclastic materials accumulating on the summit, a situation that could lead to hazardous lahars in the rainy season.

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

Information Contacts: Wimpy S. Tjetjep, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia.


Kelut (Indonesia) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Kelut

Indonesia

7.93°S, 112.308°E; summit elev. 1731 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Crater lake temperature about 4°C above normal

Around September it was noted that the water temperature in this stratovolcano's crater lake increased from 45.6 to 47.0°C. This is several degrees warmer than the typical water temperature of 43.0°C. Thin white plumes escaped from several areas around the lake in association with the temperature increase. Volcanic earthquakes were absent in September.

Although relatively small and infrequently reported on . . . Kelut has produced some of Indonesia's most deadly eruptions. Multiple historical eruptions have had Volcano Explosivity Index values of 3 to 4. A 1586 eruption may have had a VEI of 5; an estimated 10,000 people died in lahars. There have been 10 fatal crater lake eruptions. Drainage tunnels to control the lake level have greatly reduced the destructive impact of recent eruptions. Kelut's 1000 AD eruption is the oldest historically recorded in Indonesia.

Geologic Background. The relatively inconspicuous Kelut stratovolcano contains a summit crater lake that has been the source of some of Indonesia's most deadly eruptions. A cluster of summit lava domes cut by numerous craters has given the summit a very irregular profile. Satellitic cones and lava domes are also located low on the E, W, and SSW flanks. Eruptive activity has in general migrated in a clockwise direction around the summit vent complex. More than 30 eruptions have been recorded from Gunung Kelut since 1000 CE. The ejection of water from the crater lake during the typically short but violent eruptions has created pyroclastic flows and lahars that have caused widespread fatalities and destruction. After more than 5000 people were killed during an eruption in 1919, an ambitious engineering project sought to drain the crater lake. This initial effort lowered the lake by more than 50 m, but the 1951 eruption deepened the crater by 70 m, leaving 50 million cubic meters of water after repair of the damaged drainage tunnels. After more than 200 deaths in the 1966 eruption, a new deeper tunnel was constructed, and the lake's volume before the 1990 eruption was only about 1 million cubic meters.

Information Contacts: Wimpy S. Tjetjep, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia.


Kerinci (Indonesia) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismic signals and some ash-bearing plumes

Seismic signals during August through 20 September (1- 10 mm amplitude) arrived at ~5-minute intervals. This behavior preceded ash-bearing emissions up to 800 m above the summit, ~4x higher than those normally seen. By the end of September, both the seismic signals and emissions dropped, the latter reaching ~600 m high.

Activity continued to decrease during October. White vapor was released from the crater and rose 800 m with occasional small explosions. During October seismic signals had a maximum amplitude of 7 mm.

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

Information Contacts: Wimpy S. Tjetjep, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia.


Kilauea (United States) — November 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)


Eruptive activity continues; lava-bench collapses

During October and November, eruptive activity along the east rift zone continued without significant change. Lava issued at a rate of 4.6 m3/second from a vent on the W flank of the Pu`u `O`o cinder cone, and flowed through a network of lava tubes for 10 km to the ocean entry at Lae`apuki (figure 102). The lava pond within Pu`u `O`o was 75-85 m below the crater rim during October and November, and was divided into two reservoirs that circulated, drained, and filled independently. The lava tubes were quite stable, and almost no surface flows were seen after the end of August. Large, billowing steam plumes, tinged with red at night, marked the main points of discharge, which lay near the central edge of a 100-m-wide lava bench. Mild explosive activity and splattering were sometimes observed when lava flowed into the surf. Small littoral cones, a few meters high, grew sporadically above the discharge points. Bench collapses occurred during the week of 2-8 November, and about a quarter of the bench slid into the sea.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. Map of recent lava flows from Kilauea's east rift zone, June-November 1996. Contours are in feet. Courtesy of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, USGS.

The current eruption began in January 1983 and has emitted >1 km3 of lava, which has destroyed 181 homes and the National Park visitor center.

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 (URL: http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/hvo/).


Krakatau (Indonesia) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


July and August lava flows; September and October ash explosions

Although a pilot report described a 3.7 km tall eruption column from Anak Krakatau on 29 September (BGVN 21:09), ash columns during that same month more typically reached only 800 m above the summit. During the bulk of September explosions took place at 5-minute to two-hour intervals; bombs up to 20 cm in diameter reached the N and NE coastlines, areas lying ~1-1.5 km from the vent. Lava flows during July-August reached the island's W coast and added to its size. Two vents emitted lava and Strombolian eruptions in the N part of the main crater.

During October, ash explosions occurred every minute, followed by rumbling sounds and lava fountains as high as 600 m above the crater. The main crater produced all the activity during October with the other two craters remaining quiet. There were no lava flows released to the surface during October. However, weak red glow was occasionally observed at night (from the Pasuaran observatory).

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

Information Contacts: Wimpy S. Tjetjep, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia.


Kujusan (Japan) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Kujusan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing seismicity

The monthly total of earthquakes was 254 for September, 270 for October, and 313 for November. The plume height usually remained at 200-400 m during September, but reached 700 m four times. During October and November the plume height was mostly at 100-300 m, but on 11 and 29 October it reached 600 m, and on 24 November it was 700 m high. On 28, 29, and 30 November, 15 small-amplitude volcanic tremors were observed. Prior to that, tremor was last detected on 29 March 1996.

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, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan.


Lokon-Empung (Indonesia) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Lokon-Empung

Indonesia

1.358°N, 124.792°E; summit elev. 1580 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Low-level activity and shallow earthquakes

During October, Tampoluan crater emitted white vapor up to 50-75 m high. Occasionally, strong sulfuric gases were smelled at the observatory an undisclosed distance away. Volcanic earthquakes tended to increase but activity remained at a low level.

Geologic Background. The twin volcanoes Lokon and Empung, rising about 800 m above the plain of Tondano, are among the most active volcanoes of Sulawesi. Lokon, the higher of the two peaks (whose summits are only 2 km apart), has a flat, craterless top. The morphologically younger Empung volcano to the NE has a 400-m-wide, 150-m-deep crater that erupted last in the 18th century, but all subsequent eruptions have originated from Tompaluan, a 150 x 250 m wide double crater situated in the saddle between the two peaks. Historical eruptions have primarily produced small-to-moderate ash plumes that have occasionally damaged croplands and houses, but lava-dome growth and pyroclastic flows have also occurred. A ridge extending WNW from Lokon includes Tatawiran and Tetempangan peak, 3 km away.

Information Contacts: Wimpy S. Tjetjep, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia.


Momotombo (Nicaragua) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Momotombo

Nicaragua

12.423°N, 86.539°W; summit elev. 1270 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seasonally varying fumarole temperatures

During summit area visits on 30 October and 29 November, measured fumarole temperatures ranged from 215 to 643°C and from 130 to 677°C, respectively (figure 5). Fumarole temperatures on 29 November were generally higher than those on 30 October but lower than those in April 1996 (BGVN 21:04). These fumarole temperature variations were mainly believed to be due to seasonal changes. An intense rainy season, especially in October, caused strong erosion of the crater, and might account for the lower fumarole temperatures measured on 30 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Sketch of the summit area of Momotombo showing fumarole temperatures on 30 October (top number) and 29 November 1996 (bottom number in parentheses). Areas of fumarolic activity are gray. View is towards the S; the crater is ~150 m wide. Courtesy of Alain Creusot.

Geologic Background. Momotombo is a young stratovolcano that rises prominently above the NW shore of Lake Managua, forming one of Nicaragua's most familiar landmarks. Momotombo began growing about 4500 years ago at the SE end of the Marrabios Range and consists of a somma from an older edifice that is surmounted by a symmetrical younger cone with a 150 x 250 m wide summit crater. Young lava flows extend down the NW flank into the 4-km-wide Monte Galán caldera. The youthful cone of Momotombito forms an island offshore in Lake Managua. Momotombo has a long record of Strombolian eruptions, punctuated by occasional stronger explosive activity. The latest eruption, in 1905, produced a lava flow that traveled from the summit to the lower NE base. A small black plume was seen above the crater after a 10 April 1996 earthquake, but later observations noted no significant changes in the crater. A major geothermal field is located on the south flank.

Information Contacts: Alain Creusot, Instituto Nicaraguense de Energía, Managua, Nicaragua.


Monowai (New Zealand) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Monowai

New Zealand

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


September T-waves from an interpreted eruption

Monowai generated intense acoustic T-waves during 20-22 September (figure 2). During these three days, the seismic stations on Tahiti and Gambiers islands recorded >100 acoustic T-waves. This acoustic crisis, which occurred from 0230 on 20 September to 1358 on 22 September, began with a short explosion of high intensity that was followed by an amplitude-modulated noise during the first hour. Short explosions were sometimes associated with high-energy noise puffs. The two strongest puffs of noise were recorded at 0318 on 21 September and at 0256 on 22 September. There was an intense period of acoustic waves registered between 1404 on 21 September and at 0456 on 22 September. The intensity of acoustic waves began to decline at 0456 on 22 September. The event was interpreted as an eruption.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Amplitude of acoustic waves recorded during 20-22 September (times shown are for signal origin at Monowai). Courtesy of Olivier Hyvernaud.

Monowai Seamount also had a T-wave swarm in November 1995 (BGVN 20:11/12). Other noteworthy recent activity at Monowai included a possible eruption in 1944, and about seven documented eruptions during 1977-90 (BGVN 16:03). The seamount lies midway between the Kermadec and Tonga Islands, ~1,400 km NE of New Zealand. The adjacent trench is significantly shallower (~4 km) compared to the Tonga and Kermadec trenches (9-11 km deep).

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

Information Contacts: Olivier Hyvernaud, B.P. 640, Laboratoire de Geophysique, Papeete, Tahiti.


Cerro Negro (Nicaragua) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Cerro Negro

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumarole temperatures decrease in November

On 27 November, a visit to the crater found that fumarole temperatures had generally decreased by 80- 100°C and the maximum temperature was only 630°C. From November 1995, when a significant eruption took place, to October 1996, fumarole temperatures were as high as 700°C.

Cerro Negro is a basaltic cinder cone that has erupted repeatedly since its birth in 1850. It is part of a group of four young cinder cones NW of Las Pilas volcano. Following a major explosive eruption in 1971, Cerro Negro was quiet until April 1992, when an eruption produced a Plinian column 7.5 km high, deposited ash in León (20 km WSW), and forced the evacuation of 28,000 people (BGVN 17:03 and 17:04). A significant eruption in November-December 1995 built a new cone, lava dome, and lava flows within the summit crater, sent lava flows down the N flank, and deposited ash over at least 200 km2 (BGVN 20:11/12).

Geologic Background. Nicaragua's youngest volcano, Cerro Negro, was created following an eruption that began in April 1850 about 2 km NW of the summit of Las Pilas volcano. It is the largest, southernmost, and most recent of a group of four youthful cinder cones constructed along a NNW-SSE-trending line in the central Marrabios Range. Strombolian-to-subplinian eruptions at intervals of a few years to several decades have constructed a roughly 250-m-high basaltic cone and an associated lava field constrained by topography to extend primarily NE and SW. Cone and crater morphology have varied significantly during its short eruptive history. Although it lies in a relatively unpopulated area, occasional heavy ashfalls have damaged crops and buildings.

Information Contacts: Alain Creusot, Instituto Nicaraguense de Energía, Managua, Nicaragua.


Pacaya (Guatemala) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption on 11 November drops over 3.5 cm of ash

INSIVUMEH reports further described volcanic activity in October (BGVN 21:09) and a more forceful eruption that began on 11 November. Seismic data were registered at a local, one-component station (exact location undisclosed).

Activity during October 1996. At about noon on 4 October the volcano produced a 20-minute- long eruption of pyroclastics that reached 100-150 m above the crater rim. Less sustained eruptions followed later that day.

A small phreatic eruption occurred the next day (between 1000 and 1330 on 5 October), throwing pyroclastics 300-400 m high and generating an ash-bearing column rising 600 m above MacKenney crater. After that, activity generally continued as smaller explosions. Specifically, these explosions occurred at intervals of 2-5 seconds, typically throwing incandescent material to 20-30 m; but at intervals of 1-3 minutes, more energetic explosions sent material to 150 m. In response to unbroken eruptions on the morning of 6 October, a sustained column developed that was 100 m tall.

On 7 October outbursts increased in vigor with incandescent discharges 70-150 m high and coffee-colored clouds blowing E. At the seismic station, strong harmonic tremor was recorded. As a result of these factors, an alert was given to authorities. On 8 October the tremor fluctuated in amplitude but continued and a sustained 15-minute eruption led to a column reaching 200 m above MacKenny crater. The vigor of eruptions dropped noticeably later on 8-9 October.

Between 2300 and 0200 on 10-11 October, a moderate Strombolian eruption took place (BGVN 21:09). Although previously unreported, pyroclastic flows during the eruption ran down Pacaya's N, E, and S flanks reaching the cone's base. Some forceful phases of the eruption sent ash to 700- and 800-m heights. Winds of 35 km/hour from the NNE, gusting to 45 km/hour, blew ash toward the towns of Esquintla, 25 km SW, and Puerto San Jose, 60 km SE. Fine ash was also detected as far away as the Salvadorian border, 120 km SSE. Tephra with grain sizes of 0.5-3 cm reached distances of 4-7 km from the source. Evacuees from the village of El Patrocinio (3.6 km W of the crater) returned on the afternoon of 11 October. That day seven hours of post-eruption tremor registered and a bluish white plume stood 30-70 m above the crater rim. The volcano was quiet between 12 and 13 October except for 30 microseisms with 3-7 second durations.

A swarm of microseisms during 0900-1900 on 14 October consisted of 70 events of 5-10 second duration. On 15-16 October the volcano was seismically quiet but on 17 October there was an 11-hour period when seven lava avalanches broke loose. These typically took 1-3 minutes to reach the base of the cone. Five more avalanches followed on 18 October, and others followed later as freshly erupted lava and debris moved downslope. On 19 and 20 October only sporadic microseisms registered (2-15 mm peak-to-peak with 5-15 second periods); these originated at 3-5 km depths beneath the cone. Various types of weak tremor reappeared again during 21-25 October with 3- to 15-minute durations.

During 19-25 October, except for the above-noted seismic events, there were no earthquakes registered; plumes were bluish to white, and rose to 300-350 m in height. Despite technical problems with the seismograph on 26 and 27 October, some microseisms were registered; on 28 October weak tremor occurred during the entire day and 5-15 type-B earthquakes took place each hour. Elevated but fluctuating seismicity continued through the end of October.

Vigorous blue-to-white columns poured out of the MacKenny crater on 26-28 October; these were carried by 25-35 km/hour N winds. Weak fumarolic emissions took place along the N segment of the cone's base. A steamy column rose to 100-150 m high and was blown S.

Activity during November 1996. After 2 November there were repeated explosions that sent puffs of steam 30-100 m above the MacKenny crater floor. Poor visibility kept observers from seeing whether pyroclastic material was ejected; however, during 1-7 November wide steam columns reached 300 m.

The week of 1-8 November included extensive intervals of weak tremor and other minor events; in the most extreme example, on 1 November, tremor was continuous. Other events included a series of type-A earthquakes that took place in an 18-hour interval on 3 November. This swarm consisted of 63 events at depths of 200-700 m. Type-B earthquakes were also common.

On 9 November tremor was relatively scarce, only about one hour in total duration, but on 10 November four hours of tremor took place. RSAM estimates made at 10-minute intervals were constant through 0900 on 11 November when the register reset.

Initial Strombolian explosive activity from MacKenny crater began at 0930 on 11 November. Although the crater was not visible, strong-to-moderate explosions could be heard 4 and 3 km away (at the villages of El Patrocinio and San Francisco de Sales, figure 18); these continued until 1142 when a 15-minute interval of stronger explosions began that included incandescent material thrown 70 m above the crater rim; at 1157 the explosions became more frequent (4-12 each minute) and stronger (throwing incandescent material ~100 m above the crater).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Isopach map of Pacaya's 11 November eruption. Courtesy of Otoniel Matías, INSIVUMEH.

During the course of the 11 November eruption lava progressively rose to the crater rim, and about midday, coincident with a sustained burst of incandescent ejections, lava spilled out over the WSW flank. The associated incandescent material rose ~100 m and a steam column rose to ~200 m. By 1330 the lava flow had reached 450 m in length traveling in a SW direction, and the column of incandescent material rose ~300 m.

At 1645 on 11 November the eruptive column rose dramatically, reaching at least 1.1 km tall. Falling ash was reported as far away as the town of Esquintla (figure 18). Meanwhile, the escaping lava flow reached 1 km in length and small tongues of lava 200-300 m in length fell from the breach in the crater. Incandescent avalanches moved down the cone's S flank and some reached as far as the base. A Red alert was recommended at midday on 11 November; evacuations followed at nearby villages. About 1900 on 11 November the lava flow reached the cone's SE base, a distance of ~2 km. About this time, large lapilli rained down on the fields and forests of the region damaging vegetation.

Figure 18 shows the isopach map resulting from these 11 November eruptions. Within the 35 mm isopach tephra ranged from 2 x 3 cm to 4 x 6 cm. Inside the <1 mm isopach there were only traces of ash. Small eruptions continued into December.

Pacaya lies 30 km S of Guatemala City, an urban center with a population of over 1.5 million people. The volcano's olivine-basaltic lavas have often flowed out of the collapsed SSW sector travelling away from most inhabited areas.

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

Information Contacts: Eddy Sanchez and Otoniel Matías, Seccion Vulcanologia, INSIVUMEH (Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia of the Ministerio de Communicaciones, Transporte y Obras Publicas), 7A Avenida 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala.


Ruapehu (New Zealand) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Ruapehu

New Zealand

39.28°S, 175.57°E; summit elev. 2797 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Variable-intensity eruptions continue

Variable-intensity eruptions continued during late July, August, and September after the last report (BGVN 21:06). The Alert Level between 22 July and 5 August remained at 3 (significant local eruption in progress). On 6 August the Alert Level was lowered to 2 (minor eruptive activity).

During 22-23 July, 2-7 discrete events were recorded every hour, and brown or light gray-brown plumes were observed. Pilot reports indicated that plumes reached heights of ~6 km. Minor ashfall was seen in downwind areas. Volcanic activity increased during 1500-2200 on 23 July, with moderate ash eruptions, explosive events, and volcanic tremor. The activity then declined, and only about one volcanic event was recorded each hour until 0600 on 24 July. After that time, tremor levels increased again, and moderate ash eruptions recommenced with some ash plumes rising to altitudes of 5,500-7,600 m. Minor ashfall was observed in Turangi (~35 km N) and Taupo (~70 km N). A COSPEC flight measured a SO2 flux rate of ~9,000 metric tons/day. From 1600 on 24 July to 0200 on 25 July, seismicity suggested 3-7 ash eruptions every hour. After then only weak ash eruptions took place. Detectable ashfall was reported from the Hastings-Naiper area on 25 July.

A ground observation at 0900 on 26 July found that an apparently ash-free gas column rose from the crater. This period of quiescence was ended by a moderate eruption at 1253, which sent an ash column to 9-10 km altitude and was accompanied by very emergent volcanic earthquakes. Ashfall was observed near the volcano. Beginning at 1653, seismicity increased again and discrete ash plumes formed. On 27 July, 3-4 periods of relatively strong seismicity suggested that the eruptive activity continued. There was a white gas plume from the N section of the crater, and weak ash emissions from the S vent of the main crater. Ashfall was observed at Whakapapa in the morning.

On the morning of 28 July, pilots reported weak eruptive plumes up to 4,600 m altitude. A significant local ashfall was reported on the N slope around 0900. On the morning of 29 July, ground observations indicated only a white steam-and-gas plume around the summit area. On 30 July, intermittent tremor increased to low-moderate levels at 0100, then returned to low levels at 0900. This increased tremor accompanied very small ash eruptions with plumes dispersed at low elevations by strong winds. Pilot reports suggested a small amount of ash in the eruption plumes. An ash-bearing plume was also observed from Whakapapa at 1120.

A moderate ash eruption took place at 1930 on 31 July, accompanied by the resumption of moderate-level intermittent tremor. Eruptions also occurred at 2200 on 31 July, and at 0300 and 0630 on 1 August. Strong N winds kept the plumes at low elevations and caused most ash to fall on the S slope of the volcano. Ashfall at the Turoa Skifield from the eruption at 0300 on 1 August resulted in its closing. Moderate gas emissions with intermittent ash eruptions were observed on 1 August. A helicopter inspection at 1100 revealed that the active pit crater in the S of the basin might be deepening as intermittent ash eruptions excavated the tip of the magma column. Jetting onsets of ash emissions ejected blocks vertically; most fell back into the vent. No incandescence could be detected at the base of the eruption column. All these features suggested that the active vent was deep.

Tremor was low after 1100 on 1 August, but elevated during 0100-0600 and 1600-1800 on 3 August, and during 0300-0600 on 4 August, indicating that some minor ash emissions might have taken place. Tremor increased to moderate levels between 2000 on 4 August and 0700 on 5 August and appeared to have accompanied ash emissions. Very light ashfall was observed at Napier on the night of 4 August, and on the Desert Road the next morning (at 1100). A discrete earthquake was recorded at 0604 on 5 August near the Dome station; it appeared similar to the earthquake that resulted from a landslide on 21 April (BGVN 21:04). However, Tranzrail staff reported no sign of a high river level after inspection of the gauge at 1030. Tremor increased to low- moderate levels during 1500-1800 on 5 August, then returned to background.

A minor enhancement of eruptive activity occurred on the evening on 1 September consisting of two short-lived periods. The first was accompanied by an ash eruption that was reported by pilots and personnel at Flight Control Services in Taupo. The eruption plume trailed downwind (E) about 90-100 km. From 2301 to 2330 the second seismic sequence occurred, and an eruption produced minor ashfall over the Turoa Skifield area.

Geologic Background. Ruapehu, one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes, is a complex stratovolcano constructed during at least four cone-building episodes dating back to about 200,000 years ago. The 110 km3 dominantly andesitic volcanic massif is elongated in a NNE-SSW direction and surrounded by another 100 km3 ring plain of volcaniclastic debris, including the Murimoto debris-avalanche deposit on the NW flank. A series of subplinian eruptions took place between about 22,600 and 10,000 years ago, but pyroclastic flows have been infrequent. A single historically active vent, Crater Lake, is located in the broad summit region, but at least five other vents on the summit and flank have been active during the Holocene. Frequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have occurred in historical time from the Crater Lake vent, and tephra characteristics suggest that the crater lake may have formed as early as 3000 years ago. Lahars produced by phreatic eruptions from the summit crater lake are a hazard to a ski area on the upper flanks and to lower river valleys.

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


Semeru (Indonesia) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Semeru

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


A 2-km-long pyroclastic flow on 7 October; minor ashfall

Ongoing pyroclastic flows associated with lava avalanches tended to be larger in October than September. On 7 October, one such pyroclastic flow ran down the Besuk Kembar river to a distance of ~2 km. At the end of October ash had accumulated to ~1 mm thick in villages around the volcano. Seismicity was dominated by explosions and avalanche earthquakes.

Semeru, the highest peak on Java, has frequent pyroclastic flows, lahars, and lava flows. Since 1967, many Vulcanian eruptions have accompanied lava dome extrusion.

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: Wimpy S. Tjetjep, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia.


Slamet (Indonesia) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Slamet

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


A modest steam plume and seismic signals during September

During September steam rose 150 m over the summit and seismic signals continued.

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

Information Contacts: Wimpy S. Tjetjep, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia.


Soputan (Indonesia) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

Soputan

Indonesia

1.112°N, 124.737°E; summit elev. 1785 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Dome glow, lava flows, and concerns about rapid dome growth

On 24 September observers saw glow from the lower part of Soputan's lava dome. Lava flows directed to the S and SW reached ~500 m long by 29 September. Tremor of 2-mm amplitude occurred continually around this time. If rapid dome growth continues, lava avalanches could threaten the Teluk Amurang plantation and village, located 5 and 9 km downslope, respectively.

Geologic Background. The Soputan stratovolcano on the southern rim of the Quaternary Tondano caldera on the northern arm of Sulawesi Island is one of Sulawesi's most active volcanoes. The youthful, largely unvegetated volcano is located SW of Riendengan-Sempu, which some workers have included with Soputan and Manimporok (3.5 km ESE) as a volcanic complex. It was constructed at the southern end of a SSW-NNE trending line of vents. During historical time the locus of eruptions has included both the summit crater and Aeseput, a prominent NE-flank vent that formed in 1906 and was the source of intermittent major lava flows until 1924.

Information Contacts: Wimpy S. Tjetjep, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia.


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — November 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)


Cracks and landslides on SW wall cause major concern

The following condenses the weekly Scientific Reports of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) for the period 2 November-8 December 1996.

Visual observations. At the beginning of November growth concentrated in the central W part of the 1 October dome, which lies in Englishs crater N and adjacent to Castle Peak, an ancestral dome. The new dome's height was measured at 880 m on 5 November; the same day a new spine was noted on its SW side. Rainfall and a lack of vegetation contributed to a 6 November landslide on the S flank of the crater, above Galway's Soufriere (figure 14). On 7 November incandescent material was seen on the top and N edge of the 1 October dome. The spine first seen on 2 November increased in height and partially collapsed by 9 November. On that day, large amounts of steam were observed over the dome complex especially in the S part at the contact with the Castle Peak dome; several small gullies from recent rockfalls were also seen on the N part of the 1 October dome.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Volcanic risk map of Montserrat, 1 October 1996. English's Crater contains Castle Peak (an old dome) and new domes from this eruption; Chances Peak is the high point on the crater rim, and other sections of the crater wall are named for adjacent geographic features (Galway's Wall, Farrells Wall, etc.). Modified from a map provided courtesy of the Montserrat Reporter.

Throughout the second week of the month there was intense steaming from the area around Castle Peak. On the ediface's SW side, heavy rains caused more rock slides on the SW face of Galway's Wall and its upper reaches appeared thin and unstable. On 14 November blocky light gray lava extruded on the dome's N flank, and on its S side it bulged.

On 17 November there were two rockfalls from the N side of the dome and the subsequent small pyroclastic flows were channeled down the canyon's E side. For the first time since the start of the 1 October dome growth, these rockfalls extended ~500 m from the dome, beyond the slope's break at the base of Castle Peak.

Late on 21 November, the new growth areas on the 1 October dome were clearly distinguishable as zones of continuous glow and occasional falls of glowing material mainly from the N and NE faces of the dome, and at times from the NW. Many of the rockfalls emanated from close to the top of the dome, just below several new small spines. On 22 November, the 1 October dome was seen clearly from the NW of the volcano for the first time. The dome was pale gray in color and blocky, in contrast with its scoriaceous, smoother, chocolate-brown appearance in October. Steam escaped at both the SW rim of the September 17-18 explosion scar, and to the W of the active dome.

On 23 November, several vertical cracks on Galway's Wall (SW section of the crater wall) appeared longer than before, extending down much of the face. The lava dome and talus had piled up behind this wall to a depth of ~120 m, with only ~30 m of wall remaining above it.

Growth during the last two weeks of November was predominantly in the N and SW sectors of the 1 October dome, resulting in flattening of the top of the dome into a broader plateau with no change in height. The volume of the 1 October dome was estimated as 4.47 x 106 m3 (dense rock equivalent: DRE) on 24 November and 4.65 x 106 m3 (DRE) by 1 December. This is equivalent to a mean extrusion rate of 47,500 m3/day, significantly less than the 86,250 m3/day estimated for the period 7-24 November. The active NE face of the dome fed two erosive chutes. About 180,000 m3 (DRE) of material was added to the developing talus fans associated with the new dome.

On 26 November, Galway's Wall showed signs of considerable weakening with a series of fractures visible on the wall surface, and talus from small rock avalanches on the inner and outer portions of the wall. The wall was largely composed of interbedded lithified talus and block-and-ash deposits from prehistoric eruptions, cross-cut by ~2-m-wide lateral sills and an anastomosing dike (~3 m wide). The base of the wall largely consisted of relatively thinly bedded tuffs dipping toward the center of English's Crater.

On the morning of 27 November, a large rockfall from Galway's Wall dislodged ~150,000 m3 of material. This avalanche traveled as far as the break in slope, ~300 m from the crest of the wall. Some small pyroclastic flows were also generated on 27 November; they reached a maximum runout of 800 m. Overnight on 27 November, heavy rainfall swept up old pyroclastic-flow material in the Tar River valley and landslide material in the White River and generated lahars. In the meantime, collapses from the 1 October dome caused small pyroclastic flows. Extremely limited dome growth took place in late November.

On 29 November a new series of NW-SE fractures dipping steeply E was observed on Galway's Wall. On 1 December two vertical fractures, trending ~60°, were seen E of Chances Peak near the intersection with Galway's Wall. These large fractures were >50 cm wide and extended at least a few meters below the surface of the wall.

Rockfall activity from Galway's Wall (both on the inner and outer walls) accelerated in association with an intense volcano-tectonic earthquake swarm from 30 November to 8 December. As a result, at least two more avalanches similar to that of 27 November occurred, along with many smaller events. Coarser rockfalls were associated with avalanching from the central portion of the wall.

Seismicity. A swarm of volcano-tectonic earthquakes on 1-2 November marked the most intense period of activity since dome growth began in November 1995 (BGVN 20:10); it was also the only swarm during the current activity with hypocenters deeper than 3 km. All the other earthquakes in the November swarms were <2 km beneath the crater. The week of 2-9 November was also dominated by a swarm of volcano-tectonic earthquakes (389 events). Another swarm (212 events) began on 9 November and lasted until 12 November. Shorter swarms of volcano-tectonic earthquakes occurred on 14 November (40 events), and on 19-20 November (53 events). Apart from these swarms, volcano-tectonic activity was limited to occasional single earthquakes during the rest of November.

The number of rockfall signals increased during 20-24 November, but the level of activity was still much lower than that in the months prior to the September 17-18 explosion. Rockfall activity returned to a low level by 26 November.

A strong inverse correlation between dome rockfalls and the shallow volcano-tectonic swarm activity was observed. Dome rockfalls were not completely absent during seismic swarms, but some may have been due to strong shaking of the unstable dome. On 28 November strong, continuous seismic signals were recorded at most stations in the seismic network. The signals were caused by pyroclastic flows in the Tar River Valley and debris flows along Tar River, White River, and Fort Ghaut.

A correlation between Galway's Wall landslides and seismic signals enabled retrospective identification of previous large landslides: the strong shaking caused by volcano tectonic events triggered landslides on Galway's Wall. Using this criterion, rock avalanches from the Galway's Wall were found to have occurred since at least as early as 24 October, but the largest of these by far occurred on 4 November. No landslides were recorded during the intense seismicity on 1 and 2 November.

The largest volcano-tectonic earthquake swarm recorded since [the start of the eruption] began on 30 November and ended abruptly on 8 December (figure 15). In that time, 1,671 earthquakes were recorded. Figure 14 shows data on the volcano-tectonic activity between 23 November and 8 December as well as the amplitudes of individual events at the Gages seismic station, which was closest to the activity. The plot of amplitude logarithm (proportional to the magnitude) shows that the size of the largest events slowly increased during this swarm. Some of the larger events (M ~3) were felt by residents of Weekes, the closest occupied area, on the NW side of St. Georges Hill (figure 14). A bimodal pattern to the magnitudes was observed, with small earthquakes (M ~1) dominating. During the increase of activity up until 5 December, the number of small earthquakes increased with time, while the number of large ones remained almost constant. This meant that the b-value of the earthquake distribution increased, although these earthquakes clearly did not follow a classical magnitude-frequency relationship.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Volcano-tectonic earthquake activity recorded by the broad-band seismic network at Soufriere Hills. Courtesy of MVO.

MVO scientists postulated that the volcano-tectonic earthquakes were caused by pressurized magma at shallow depths. When the magma outlet becomes periodically blocked, a slow down of the dome growth and reduction in rockfalls occur. In the meantime the high-pressure build-up causes rock fracturing around the magma body. If the magma behaves as a non-Newtonian fluid it requires a certain pressure to yield and flow. The correlation between Galway's Wall landslides and the volcano-tectonic swarms suggests that magma pressurization is increasing the stress on the base of the wall. The occurrence of deeper earthquakes at the start of this phase of activity (mid-October) and during the increased activity of 2 November, suggests that the current phase is a response to some deeper volcanic activity, possibly injection of fresh magma.

Ground deformation. EDM measurements made on the E triangle (Long Ground-White's-Castle Peak) between 4 and 8 November were consistent with the recently established shortening trend of ~6 mm/day. The shortening trend on the E triangle continued during the second week of the month, although its rate slowed to ~5 mm/day. Between 18 and 30 November, the lines shortened ~6 mm/day. The last measurement on 4 December showed 3.8 cm shortening over a four-day period, a significant rate increase.

The N triangle (Upper Farrell's-St. Georges Hill-Windy Hill) was measured on 5 November. The lines from Windy Hill and St Georges Hill to Upper Farrell's shortened by 3 mm and 8 mm, respectively, since these were last measured on 27 October. These lines are quite erratic, and show long-term trends of little or no change. The Galway's-Castle Peak line (S triangle) was remeasured on 2 December, following replacement of the EDM reflector on Chances Peak. A line shortening of 2.6 cm since 19 October was recorded, a rate higher than the previous trend on this line.

EDM measurements on the W flank of the volcano on 7 November showed that the line lengths between Upper and Lower Amersham (near Plymouth) shortened by 1 mm since November 1, whereas those between Lower Amersham and Chances Peak lengthened by 5 mm during the same period, without following any particular trend.

Deformation data suggested that movements are confined to the upper flanks and are thought to be due to loading of the upper part of the edifice by the new dome, and localized thermal expansion and pressurization of the magma conduit at shallow depths.

GPS measurements on 3, 6, 16, 23, 25, 26, and 27 November and 5 and 7 December indicated that all line lengths and station heights did not undergo major changes and remained within the 95% confidence level of their long-term means. Only radial lines to the Farrell's benchmark high on the N flank of the volcano showed signs of movement, although within formal errors.

A dome-volume survey was made on 7 November using GPS equipment and range-finding binoculars. The volume estimate was, within error, the same as that obtained from the previous survey on 23 October (BGVN 21:10).

Gas, ash, and rainwater measurements. COSPEC measurements were carried out on nine days in November (3, 5, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, and 19). All COSPEC measurements were made by running traverses beneath the plume along the W coast road. The average flux readings were 371, 155, 240, 227, 178, 243, 176, 363, and 250 metric tons/day, respectively. These values are similar to recent measurements, indicating that only low amounts of sulfur dioxide are emitted from the volcano during periods of dome growth. Daily fluctuations do not suggest any strong link between SO2 production and earthquake swarms. Analysis of SO2 diffusion tubes at five sites W of the volcano showed that the averaged concentrations of SO2 correlated with the COSPEC measurements.

Rainwater samples collected on 4 November from Upper Amersham, the site closest to the volcano, showed the lowest pH (3.3) recorded. Rainwater collected N and W of the volcano on 10 and 14 November showed continuation of the highly acidic rainfall, particularly W of the volcano. A sample from a pond in the upper Amersham area showed very high levels of chloride. Rainwater samples analyzed for the period 14 to 17 November had low pH values (3.0 to 3.6), with the exception of Weekes, which was neutral.

Hazard assessment. The alert level was raised from Amber to Orange early in the morning of 28 November because of the increased instability of Galway's Wall and fears that catastrophic collapse of the wall might cause a lateral blast. The risk map in effect during October (figure 14) was modified on 26 November because of the increased risk to St. Patricks and surrounding areas on the volcano's SW side. On 3 December, complete closure of zones A to D was recommended as a temporary measure, because the scientific team thought that a larger collapse was possible. Such an event would involve more of the S part of the crater wall, potentially causing major dome instability and pyroclastic flows in any direction. This change was formalized on 5 December with a temporary revision of the risk map, which included all of the S of the island, from Foxes Bay across to Spanish Point, within zone A/B.

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/); The Montserrat Reporter, Plymouth, Montserrat (URL: http://www.tiac.net/users/wcwdaj/reporter/reporter.htm).


White Island (New Zealand) — November 1996 Citation iconCite this Report

White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 321 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Inflating and heating trends cease and reverse

During 4-5 November, surveillance visits were made by scientists from the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (IGNS), Canterbury University, Otago University, Victoria University, Michigan Technology University, and California Institute of Technology.

Like monitoring results on 28 August (BGVN 21:09), these visits showed a continuation of the crater-wide deformation and heating reversal. This reversal suggested that a major long-term inflationary and heating pulse had peaked and that the probability of a significant eruption might be low in the short term.

Crater observations. A crater lake continued to occupy the floor of the 1978/90 Crater Complex (figure 24). Green coloration developed in the lake with blue-gray surface slicks. The coloration change from gray- brown to green in August-September suggested that there was less vigorous input into the lake with less or no convection. On 5 November, the water temperature of the lake was 58.2°C. A rapid fall of the lake level occurred, with the water level of the lake dropping 5-10 m during the week preceding the visit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Relative height changes at White Island between 28 August and 4 November 1996. Numbers beside circles are relative height changes at individual pegs (in millimeters). Heavy contours (in millimeters) show relative height changes; light contours (in meters) show topography. Courtesy of B.J. Scott, IGNS.

The steep margins of the 1978/90 Crater Complex continued to fall, and several fresh landslide scars were visible around the crater wall. Similar activity also occurred in Donald Duck Crater.

Fumarole activity near Donald Mound continued to change. Many areas previously holding mud pots or pools had dried out and contained low-pressure fumaroles; maximum temperatures had decreased from 311°C on 28 August to 268°C. In contrast, beginning in late September, Noisy Nellie was almost full of water and sometimes overflowed. Several fluid seeps also developed in Noisy Nellie along with substantial landsliding off the Main Crater wall.

Deformation. A leveling survey of the White Island network was made on 4 November, with some sections repeated on 5 November. This survey revealed a continuation of the reversal of the inflationary trend first observed on 28 August (BGVN 21:09). Subsidence was apparent across the Main Crater floor, increasing toward the 1978/90 Crater Complex and Donald Mound (figure 24). Compared with the inflation from 1992, the recent subsidence was quite small (figures 24 and 25).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Relative height changes (in meters) with time at pegs C, F, and O in the White Island crater. Courtesy of B.J. Scott, IGNS.

Magnetic survey. Magnetic changes between 16 May and 4 November were dominated by a positive anomaly over most of the N part of the Main Crater centered just E of Donald Mound. A less intense anomaly occurred S of the Main Crater. These features suggested shallow (50-100 m deep) cooling on the E side of Donald Mound, probably a broadening of the cooling trend observed between 12 December 1995 and 16 May 1996 (BGVN 21:09).

Another significant trend was the negative anomaly to the N of Donald Mound, which appeared to be a continuation of the trend seen in this area since late 1995. These magnetic decreases might be due to shallow (100 m deep?) heating on the E side of the 1978/90 Crater or possibly to chemical demagnetization.

The overall magnetic pattern appeared to be the reverse of the trend from late 1993 to early 1995. However, the earlier trend did not reverse in magnitude, and lower temperatures on the E side of Donald Mound did not necessarily mean that the total heat flow was reduced. The continuing collapses along the E edge of the 1978/90 Crater Complex probably diverted more heat flow, and high temperatures (above ~450°C for significant thermo-magnetic effects to occur) were no longer sustainable near the surface.

Geologic Background. Uninhabited 2 x 2.4 km White Island, one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes, is the emergent summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 50 km offshore of North Island. The island consists of two overlapping andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcanoes; the summit crater appears to be breached to the SE, because the shoreline corresponds to the level of several notches in the SE crater wall. Volckner Rocks, four sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NNE. Intermittent moderate phreatomagmatic and strombolian eruptions have occurred throughout the short historical period beginning in 1826, but its activity also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. Formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries has produced rapid changes in crater floor topography. Collapse of the crater wall in 1914 produced a debris avalanche that buried buildings and workers at a sulfur-mining project.

Information Contacts: B.J. Scott, Colin Wilson, B.F. Houghton, and I. Nairn, Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (IGNS), Private Bag 2000, Wairakei, New Zealand.

Atmospheric Effects

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

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/).