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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

Tengger Caldera (Indonesia) Ash emissions on 19 and 28 July 2019; lahar on the SW flank of Bromo

Unnamed (Tonga) Submarine eruption in early August creates pumice rafts that drifted west to Fiji

Popocatepetl (Mexico) Frequent explosions continue during March-August 2019

Semeru (Indonesia) Intermittent activity continues during March-August 2019; ash plumes and thermal anomalies

Saunders (United Kingdom) Intermittent activity most months, October 2018-June 2019; photographs during February and May 2019

Pacaya (Guatemala) Lava flows and Strombolian explosions continued during February-July 2019

Colima (Mexico) Renewed volcanism after two years of quiet; explosion on 11 May 2019

Masaya (Nicaragua) Lava lake activity declined during March-July 2019

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Occasional weak phreatic explosions during March-July 2019

Aira (Japan) Explosions with ejecta and ash plumes continue weekly during January-June 2019

Agung (Indonesia) Continued explosions with ash plumes and incandescent ejecta, February-May 2019

Kerinci (Indonesia) Intermittent explosions with ash plumes, February-May 2019



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

Tengger Caldera

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash emissions on 19 and 28 July 2019; lahar on the SW flank of Bromo

The Mount Bromo pyroclastic cone within the Tengger Caldera erupts frequently, typically producing gas-and-steam plumes, ash plumes, and explosions (BGVN 44:05). Information compiled for the reporting period of May-July 2019 is from the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM) and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC).

The eruptive activity at Tengger Caldera that began in mid-February continued through late July 2019, including white-and-brown ash plumes, ash emissions, and tremors. During the months of May through June 2019, white plumes rose between 50 to 600 m above the summit. Satellite imagery captured a small gas-and-steam plume from Bromo on 5 June (figure 18). Low-frequency tremors were recorded by a seismograph from May through July 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Sentinel-2 satellite image showing a small gas-and-steam plume rising from the Bromo cone (center) in the Tengger Caldera on 5 June 2019. Thermal (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

According to PVMBG and a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA), an ash eruption occurred on 19 July 2019; however, no ash column was observed due to weather conditions. A seismograph recorded five earthquakes and three shallow volcanic tremors the same day. In addition, rainfall triggered a lahar on the SW flank of Bromo.

On 28 July the Darwin VAAC reported that ash plumes originating from Bromo rose to a maximum altitude of about 3.9 km and drifted NW from the summit, based on webcam images and pilot reports. PVMBG reported that lower altitude ash plumes (2.4 km) on the same day were also recorded by webcam images, satellite imagery (Himawari-8), and weather models.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/).


Unnamed (Tonga) — November 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Unnamed

Tonga

18.325°S, 174.365°W; summit elev. -40 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Submarine eruption in early August creates pumice rafts that drifted west to Fiji

Large areas of floating pumice, termed rafts, were encountered by sailors in the northern Tonga region approximately 80 km NW of Vava'u starting around 9 August 2019; the pumice reached the western islands of Fiji by 9 October (figure 7). Pumice rafts are floating masses of individual clasts ranging from millimeters to meters in diameter. The pumice clasts form when silicic magma is degassing, forming bubbles as it rises to the surface, which then rapidly cools to form solid rock. The isolated vesicles formed by the bubbles provide buoyancy to the rock and in turn, the entire pumice raft. These rafts are spread and carried by currents across the ocean; rafts originating in the Tonga area can eventually reach Australia. This report summarizes the pumice raft eruption from early August 2019 using witness accounts and satellite images (acquisition dates are given in UTC). Pending further research, the presumed source is the unnamed Tongan seamount (volcano number 243091) about 45 km NW of Vava'u, the origin of an earlier pumice raft produced during an eruption in 2001.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. The path of the pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount from 9 August to 9 October 2019 based on eye-witness accounts and satellite data discussed below, as well as additional Aqua/MODIS satellite images from NASA Worldview. Blue Marble MODIS/NASA Earth Observatory base map courtesy of NASA Worldview.

The first sighting of pumice was around 1430 on 9 August NW of Vava'u in Tonga (18° 22.068' S, 174° 50.800' W), when Shannon Lenz and Tom Whitehead on board SV Finely Finished initially encountered isolated rocks and smaller streaks of pumice clasts. The area covered by rock increasing to a raft with an estimated thickness of at least 15 cm that extended to the horizon in different directions, and which took 6-8 hours to cross (figure 8). There was no sulfur smell and the sound was described as a "cement mixer, especially below deck." There was also no plume or incandescence observed. Their video, posted to YouTube on 17 August, showed a thin surface layer of cohesive interconnected irregular streaks of pumice with the ocean surface still visible between them. Later footage showed a continuous, undulating mass of pumice entirely covering the ocean surface. Larger clasts are visible scattered throughout the raft. The pumice raft was visible in satellite imagery on this day NW of Late Island (figure 9). By 11 August the raft had evolved into a largely linear feature with smaller rafts to the SW (figure 10). Approximately four hours later, about 15 km to the WSW, Rachel Mackie encountered the pumice. Initially the pumice was "ribbons several hundred meters long and up to 20m wide. It was quite fine and like a slick across the surface of the water." By 2130 they were surrounded by the pumice, and around 25 km away the smell of sulfur was noted.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. The pumice raft from the unnamed Tongan seamount on 9 August 2019 taken by Shannon Lenz and Tom Whitehead on board SV Finely Finished. The photos show the pumice raft extending to the horizon in different directions. Scattered larger clasts protrude from the relatively smooth surface that entirely obscures the ocean surface. Courtesy of Shannon Lenz and Tom Whitehead via noonsite.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. The pumice raft from the unnamed Tongan seamount on 9 August 2019 (UTC) can be seen NW of Late Island of Tonga in this Aqua/MODIS satellite image. The dashed white line encompasses the visible pumice. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Courtesy of NASA WorldView.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. The Sentinel-2 satellite first imaged the pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount on 11 August 2019 (UTC). This image indicates the pumice distribution with the main raft towards the W and the easternmost area of pumice approximately 45 km away. The eastern tip of the pumice area is located approximately 30 km WNW of Lake islands in Tonga. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) Sentinel-2 satellite image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Michael and Larissa Hoult aboard the catamaran ROAM encountered the raft on 15 August (figure 11). They initially saw isolated clasts ranging from marble to tennis ball size (15-70 mm) at 18° 46′S, 174° 55'W. At around 0700 UTC (1900 local time) they noted the smell of sulfur at 18° 55′S, 175° 21′W, and by 0800 UTC they were immersed in the raft with visible clasts ranging from marble to basketball (25 cm) sizes. At this point the raft was entirely obscuring the ocean surface. On 16 and 21 August the pumice continued to disperse and drift NW (figures 12 and 13). On 20 August Scott Bryan calculated an average drift rate of around 13 km/day, with the pumice on this date about 164 km W of the unnamed seamount.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Images of pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount encountered by Michael and Larissa Hoult aboard the catamaran Roam on 15 August. Left: Larissa takes photographs with scale of pumice clasts; top right: a closeup of a pumice clast showing the vesicle network preserving the degassing structures of the magma; bottom left: Michael holding several larger pumice clasts. The location of their encounter with the pumice is shown in figure 7. Courtesy of SailSurfROAM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. The pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount (volcano number 243091) on 16 August 2019 UTC. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) Sentinel-2 satellite image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. On 21 August 2019 (UTC) the pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount (volcano number 243091) had drifted at least 120 km WNW of Late Island in Tonga. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) Sentinel-2 satellite image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

An online article published by Brad Scott at GeoNet on 9 September reported the preliminary size of the raft to be 60 km2, significantly smaller than the 2012 Havre seamount pumice raft that was 400 km2. Satellite identification of pumice-covered areas by GNS scientists showed the material moving SSW through 14 August (figure 14).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. A compilation of mapped pumice raft extents from 9 August (red line) through to 14 August (dark blue) from Suomi NPP, Terra, Aqua, and Sentinel-2 satellite images. The progression of the pumice raft is towards the SW. Courtesy of Salman Ashraf, GNS Science.

On 5 September the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) issued a notice to mariners stating that the pumice was sighted in the vicinity of Lakeba, Oneata, and Aiwa Islands and was moving to the W. On 6 September a Planet Labs satellite image shows pumice encompassing the Fijian island of Lakeba over 450 km W of the Tongan islands (figure 15). The pumice entered the lagoon within the barrier reef and drifted around the island to continue towards the W. The pumice was imaged by the Landsat 8 satellite on 26 September as it moved through the Fijian islands, approximately 760 km away from its source (figure 16). The pumice is segmented into numerous smaller rafts of varying sizes that stretch over at least 140 km. On 12 September the Fiji Sun reported that the pumice had reached some of the Lau islands and was thick enough near the shore for people to stand on it.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Planet Labs satellite images show Lakeba Island to the E of the larger Viti Levu Island in the Fiji archipelago. The top image shows the island on 7 July 2019 prior to the pumice raft from the unnamed Tongan seamount. The bottom image shows pumice on the sea surface almost entirely encompassing the island on 6 September. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Courtesy of Planet Labs.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Landsat 8 satellite images show the visible extent of the unnamed seamount pumice on 26 September 2019 (UTC), up to approximately 760 km from the Tongan islands. The pumice seen here extends over a distance of 140 km. The top image shows the locations of the other three images in the white boxes, with a, b, and c indicating the locations. White arrows point to examples of the light brown pumice rafts in these images, seen through light cloud cover. The island in the lower right is Koro Island, the island to the lower left is Viti Levu, and the island to the top right is Vanua Levu. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Landsat 8 true color-pansharpened satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub.

Pumice had reached the Yasawa islands in western Fiji by 29 September and was beginning to fill the eastern bays (figure 17). By 9 October bays had been filled out to 500-600 m from the shore, and pumice had also passed through the islands to continue towards the W (figure 18). At this point the pumice beyond the islands had broken up into linear segments that continued towards the NW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. These Sentinel-2 satellite images show the pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount drifting towards the Yasawa islands of Fiji. The 24 September 2019 (UTC) image shows the beaches without the pumice, the 29 September image shows pumice drifting westward towards the islands, and the 9 October image shows the bays partly filled with pumice out to a maximum of 500-600 m from the shore. These islands are approximately 850 km from the Tongan islands. The Yasawa islands coastline impacted by the pumice shown in these images stretches approximately 48 km. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. This Sentinel-2 satellite image acquired on 9 October 2019 (UTC) shows expanses of pumice from the unnamed Tongan seamount that passed through the Yasawa islands of Fiji and was continuing NWW, seen in the center of the image. The location of the pumice in this image is shown in figure 7. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub.

Geologic Background. A submarine volcano along the Tofua volcanic arc was first observed in September 2001. The newly discovered volcano lies NW of the island of Vava'u about 35 km S of Fonualei and 60 km NE of Late volcano. The site of the eruption is along a NNE-SSW-trending submarine plateau with an approximate bathymetric depth of 300 m. T-phase waves were recorded on 27-28 September 2001, and on the 27th local fishermen observed an ash-rich eruption column that rose above the sea surface. No eruptive activity was reported after the 28th, but water discoloration was documented during the following month. In early November rafts and strandings of dacitic pumice were reported along the coast of Kadavu and Viti Levu in the Fiji Islands. The depth of the summit of the submarine cone following the eruption determined to be 40 m during a 2007 survey; the crater of the 2001 eruption was breached to the E.

Information Contacts: GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/); Salman Ashraf, GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/, https://www.geonet.org.nz/news/8RnSKdhaWOEABBIh0bHDj); Brad Scott, New Zealand GeoNet Project, a collaboration between the Earthquake Commission and GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz/, https://www.geonet.org.nz/news/8RnSKdhaWOEABBIh0bHDj); Scott Bryan, School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences, Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, R Block Level 2, 204, Gardens Point (URL: https://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/scott.bryan); Shannon Lenz and Tom Whitehead, SV Finely Finished (URL: https://www.noonsite.com/news/south-pacific-tonga-to-fiji-navigation-alert-dangerous-slick-of-volcanic-rubble/, YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEsHLSFFQhQ); Michael and Larissa Hoult, Sail Surf ROAM (URL: https://www.facebook.com/sailsurfroam/); Rachel Mackie, OLIVE (URL: http://www.oliveocean.com/, https://www.facebook.com/rachel.mackie.718); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Fiji Sun (URL: https://fijisun.com.fj/2019/09/12/pumice-menace-hits-parts-of-lau-group/).


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent explosions continue during March-August 2019

The current eruptive period of Popocatépetl began on 9 January 2005 and it has since been producing frequent explosions accompanied by ash plumes, gas emissions, and ballistic ejecta that can impact several kilometers away from the crater, as well as dome growth and destruction. This activity continued through March-August 2019 with an increase in volcano alert level during 28 March-6 May. This report summarizes activity during this period and is based on information from Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and various webcam and remote sensing data.

An overflight on 28 February confirmed that dome 82, which was first observed on 14 February, was still present and was 200 m in diameter. During March there were 3,291 observed low-intensity emissions, and 33 larger explosions that produced ash plumes to a maximum height of 5 km, accompanied by near-continuous emission of water vapor and volcanic gases. Explosions ejected blocks that fell on the flanks out to 1.2-2 km on 1, 10, 13, 17, 26, 27, and 29 March. The events on the 17th and 27th resulted in vegetation fires. Frequent sulfur dioxide (SO2) plumes were detected by TropOMI (figure 130). An overflight on 7 March showed intense degassing and an ash plume at 1142, preventing visibility into the crater (figure 131). On 13 March Strombolian activity was observed for approximately 15 minutes at 0500, accompanied by incandescent ejecta that deposited mainly on the ESE flank.

An overflight on 15 March was taken by CENAPRED and UNAM personnel to observe changes to the crater after explosions on the 13th and 14th. They reported that dome 82 had been destroyed and the crater maintained its previous dimensions of 300 m in diameter and 130 m deep. An explosion on the 27th ejected incandescent rocks out to 2 km from the crater and produced a 3-km-high ash plume that dispersed to the NE. Ashfall was reported in Santa Cruz, Atlixco, San Pedro, San Andrés, Santa Isabel Cholula, San Pedro Benito Juárez, and in the municipalities of Puebla, Hueyapan, Tetela del Volcán, and Morelos.

On 28 March an explosion at 0650 generated a 2.5-km-high ash plume and ejecta out to 1 km from the crater, and a 130-minute-long event produced gas and ah plumes (figure 132). On this day the volcano alert level was increased from Yellow Phase 2 to Yellow Phase 3. On the 29th an ash plume rose to 3 km and was accompanied by ejecta that reached 2 km away from the crater. Later that day a 20-minute-long event produced ash and gas. During a surveillance flight on 30 March a view into the crater showed no dome present, and the crater size had increased to 350 m in width and 250-300 m in depth after recent explosions (figure 131). On this day Strombolian activity was also observed lasting for 14 minutes, producing an ash plume to 800 m and ejecta out to 300 m from the crater. Incandescence at the crater was often seen during nighttime throughout the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 130. Significant SO2 plumes at Popocatépetl detected by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite during 3-11 March 2019. SO2 plumes are frequently observed and these images show examples of plume drift directions on 3 March 2019 (top left), 6 March 2019 (top right), 7 March 2019 (bottom left), and 11 March 2019 (bottom right). Date, time, and measurements are provided at the top of each image. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 131. Activity at Popocatépetl and views of the crater during surveillance flights in March 2019. The top images show an ash plume (left) and a gas-and-steam plume (right) on 7 March. On 30 March (bottom left and right) no lava dome was observed in the crater, which was measured to be 350 m in diameter and 250-300 m deep. Courtesy of CENAPRED and Geophysics Institute of UNAM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 132. Explosive activity at Popocatépetl on 28 March 2019 producing ash plumes (top and bottom left) and ejecting incandescent ejecta out to 2 km from the crater at 1948. Courtesy of Carlos Sanchez/AFP (top), CENAPRED (bottom left and right), and Webcams de Mexico (bottom left).

There was a decrease in events during the next two months with 1,119 recorded low-intensity emissions and no larger ash explosions throughout April, followed by 1,210 low-intensity emissions and seven larger ash explosions through May (figure 133). Water vapor and volcanic gas emissions were frequently observed through this time and incandescence was observed some nights. A surveillance overflight on 26 April noted no new dome within the crater. On 6 May the alert level was lowered back to Yellow Phase 2. Another overflight on 9 May showed no change in the crater. An explosion at 1910 on 22 May produced an ash plume to 3.5 km above the crater with ashfall reported in Ozumba, Temamatla, Atlautla, Cocotitlán, Ayapango, Ecatzingo, Tenango del Aire and Tepetlixpa.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 133. Graph showing the number of daily ash explosions and low-intensity emissions at Popocatépetl during March-August 2019. There was a decrease in the number of events during April and March, with an increase from March onwards. Data courtesy of CENAPRED.

Through the month of June there were 2,820 low-intensity emissions and 21 larger ash explosions recorded. Gas emissions were observed throughout the month. Two explosions on 3 June produced ash plumes up to 3.5 and 2.8 km, with ejecta out to 2 km S during the first explosion. On 11 June an explosion produced an ash plume to 1 km above the crater and ballistic ejecta out to 1 km E. Observers on a surveillance overflight on the 12th reported no changes within the crater

Explosions with estimated plume heights of 5 km occurred on the 14th and 15th, with the latter producing ashfall in the municipalities of San Pablo del Monte, Tenancingo, Papantla, San Cosme Mazatencocho, San Luis Teolocholco, Acuamanala, Nativitas, Tepetitla, Santa Apolonia Teacalco, Santa Isabel Tetlatlahuaca, and Huamantla, in the state of Tlaxcala, as well as in Nealtican, San Nicolás de los Ranchos, Calpan, San Pedro Cholula, Juan C. Bonilla, Coronango, Atoyatempan, and Coatzingo, in the state of Puebla.

On 17 June an explosion produced an ash plume that reached 8 km above the crater and dispersed towards the SW. An ash plume rising 2.5 km high was accompanied by incandescent ejecta impacting a short distance from the crater on the 21st, and another ash plume reached 2.5 km on the 22nd. Explosions on 26, 29, and 30 June resulted in ash plumes reaching 1.5 km above the crater and ballistic ejecta impacting on the flanks out to 1 km.

For the month of July there was an increased total of 5,637 recorded low-intensity emissions, and 173 larger ash explosions (figure 134). On 8 July an explosion produced ballistic ejecta out to 1.5 km and an ash plume up to 1 km above the crater. An ash plume up to 2.6 km was produced on the 12th. On 19 July a surveillance overflight observed a new dome (dome 83) with a diameter of 70 m and a thickness of 15 m (figure 135). Explosions on 20 July produced ashfall, and minor explosions that ejected incandescent ballistics onto the slopes. An event on the 24th produced an ash plume that reached 1.2 km, and ash plumes the following day reached 1 km. An overflight on 27 July confirmed that these explosions destroyed dome 83, and the crater dimensions remained the same (figure 136). The following day, ash plumes reached up to 1.6 km above the crater, and up to 2 km on the 29th. Minor ashfall was reported in the municipality of Ozumba on 30 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 134. Examples of ash plumes at Popocatépetl on 1 July (top left), 18 July (top right and bottom left), and 30 July (bottom right) 2019. In the night time image taken on 18 July hot rocks are visible on the flank. Webcam images courtesy of CENAPRED and Webcams de Mexico.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 135. A surveillance overflight at Popocatépetl on 19 July 2019 confirmed a new dome, dome number 83, with a width of 70 m and a thickness of 15 m. Courtesy of CENAPRED and Geophysics Institute of UNAM.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 136. Photos of the summit crater of Popocatépetl taken during a surveillance flight on 27 July 2019 confirmed that the 83rd lava dome was destroyed by recent explosions and the crater maintained the same dimensions as previously measured. Courtesy of CENAPRED and Geophysics Institute of UNAM.

Throughout August the number of recorded events was higher than previous months, with 5,091 low-intensity emissions and 204 larger ash explosions (figure 137). Two explosions generated ash plumes and incandescent ejecta on 2 August, the first with a plume up to 1.5 km with ejecta impacting the slopes, and the second with an 800 m plume and ejecta landing back in the crater. Ashfall from the events was reported in in the municipalities of Tenango del Aire, Ayapango and Amecameca. On the 14th ashfall was reported in Juchitepec, Ayapango, and Ozumba. Explosions on 16 August produced ash plumes up to 2 km that dispersed to the WSW. Over the following two days ash plumes reached 1.2 km and resulted in ashfall in Cuernavaca, Tepoztlán, Tlalnepantla, Morelos, Ozumba, and Ecatzingo. Over 30-31 August ash plumes reached between 1-2 km above the crater and ashfall was reported in Amecameca, Atlautla, Ozumba, and Tlalmanalco. Incandescence was sometimes observed at the crater through the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 137. Ash plumes at Popocatépetl on 7 August (top) and 26 August 2019 (bottom). Courtesy of CENAPRED and Webcams de Mexico.

The MODVOLC algorithm for MODIS thermal anomalies registered thermal alerts through this period, with 22 in March, three in May, five in July, and one in August. The MIROVA system showed that the frequency of thermal anomalies at Popocatépetl was higher in March, sporadic in April and May, low in June, and had increased again in July and August (figure 138). Elevated temperatures were frequently visible in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite data when clouds and plumes were not covering the crater (figure 139).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 138. Thermal activity at Popocatépetl detected by the MIROVA system showed frequent anomalies in March, intermittent anomalies through April-May, low activity in June, and an increase in July-August 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 139. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images frequently showed elevated temperatures in the crater of Popocatépetl during March-August 2019, as seen in this representative image from 7 May 2019. Sentinel2- atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) scene courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED), Av. Delfín Madrigal No.665. Coyoacan, México D.F. 04360, México (URL: http://www.cenapred.unam.mx/); Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), University City, 04510 Mexico City, Mexico (URL: https://www.unam.mx/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://SO2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Webcams de Mexico (URL: http://www.webcamsdemexico.com/); Agence France-Presse (URL: http://www.afp.com/).


Semeru (Indonesia) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Semeru

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent activity continues during March-August 2019; ash plumes and thermal anomalies

The ongoing eruption at Semeru weakened in intensity during 2018, with occasional ash plumes and thermal anomalies (BGVN 44:04); this reduced but ongoing level of activity continued through August 2019. The volcano is monitored by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM) and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC). The current report summarizes activity from 1 March to 31 August 2019. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale from 1-4); the public was warned to stay 1 km away from the active crater and 4 km away on the SSE flank.

Based on analysis of satellite images, the Darwin VAAC reported that ash plumes rose to an altitude of 4-4.3 km on 19 April, 20 June, 10 July, and 13 July, drifting in various directions. In addition, PVMBG reported that at 0830 on 26 June an explosion produced an ash plume that rose around 600 m above the summit and drifted SW. A news article (Tempo.com) dated 12 August cited PVMBG as stating that the volcano had erupted 17 times since 8 August.

During March-August 2019 thermal anomalies were detected with the MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm only on 5 July and 22 August. No explosions were recorded on those two days. Scattered thermal anomalies within 5 km of the volcano were detected by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system, also based on analysis of MODIS data: one at the end of March and 3-6 hotspots over the following months, almost all of low radiative power. Satellite imagery intermittently showed thermal activity in the Jonggring-Seloko crater (figure 37), sometimes with material moving down the SE-flank ravine.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Sentinel-2 satellite images showing the persistent elevated thermal anomaly in the Jonggring-Seloko crater of Semeru were common through August 2019, as seen in this view on 20 July. Hot material could sometimes be identified in the SE-flank ravine. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

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


Saunders (United Kingdom) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Saunders

United Kingdom

57.8°S, 26.483°W; summit elev. 843 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent activity most months, October 2018-June 2019; photographs during February and May 2019

Historical observations of eruptive activity from the glacier-covered Mount Michael stratovolcano on Saunders Island in the South Sandwich Islands were not recorded until the early 19th century at this remote site in the southernmost Atlantic Ocean, and remain extremely rare. With the advent of satellite observation technology, indications of more frequent eruptive activity have become apparent. Vapor emission is frequently reported from the summit crater, and AVHRR and MODIS satellite imagery has revealed evidence for lava lake activity in the summit crater (Lachlan-Cope and others, 2001). Limited thermal anomaly data and satellite imagery indicated at least intermittent activity during May 2000-November 2013, and from November 2014 through April 2018 (Gray and others, 2019). Ongoing observations, including photographs from two site visits in February and May 2019 suggest continued activity at the summit during most months through May 2019, the period covered in this report. Information, in addition to on-site photographs, comes from MIROVA thermal anomaly data, NASA SO2 instruments, and Sentinel-2 and Landsat satellite imagery.

Near-constant cloud coverage for much of the year makes satellite data intermittent and creates difficulty in interpreting the ongoing nature of the activity. Gray and others (2019) concluded recently after a detailed study of shortwave and infrared satellite images that there was continued evidence for the previously identified lava lake on Mount Michael since January 1989. MIROVA thermal anomaly data suggest intermittent pulses of thermal energy in September, November, and December 2018, and April 2019 (figure 17). Satellite imagery confirmed some type of activity, either a dense steam plume, evidence of ash, or a thermal anomaly, each month during December 2018-March 2019. Sulfur dioxide anomalies were recorded in January, February, and March 2019. Photographic evidence of fresh ash was captured in February 2019, and images from May 2019 showed dense steam rising from the summit crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. MIROVA thermal anomaly data from 19 September 2018 through June 2019 showed sporadic, low-level pulses of thermal energy in late September, November, and December 2018, and April 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

After satellite imagery and thermal anomaly data in late September 2018 showed evidence for eruptive activity (BGVN 43:10, figure 16), a single thermal anomaly in MIROVA data was recorded in mid-November 2018 (figure 17). A rare, clear Sentinel-2 image on 2 December revealed a dense steam plume over the active summit crater; the steam obscured the presence of any possible thermal anomalies beneath (figure 18).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Sentinel-2 images of Mount Michael on Saunders Island on 2 December 2018 revealed a dense steam plume over the summit crater that was difficult to distinguish from the surrounding snow in Natural Color rendering (bands 4,3,2) (left), but was clearly visible in Atmospheric Penetration rendering (bands 12,11, 8a) (right). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Clear evidence of recent activity appeared on 1 January 2019 with both a thermal anomaly at the summit crater and a streak of ash on the snow (figure 19). Steam was also present within the summit crater. A distinct SO2 anomaly appeared in data from the TROPOMI instrument on 14 January (figure 20).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. A thermal anomaly and dense steam were recorded at the summit of Mount Michael on Saunders Island on 1 January 2019 in Sentinel-2 Satellite imagery with Atmospheric Penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a) (left). The same image shown with Natural Color rendering (bands 4,3,2) (right) shows a recent streak of brown particulates drifting SE from the summit crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. A distinct SO2 plume was recorded drifting NW from Saunders Island by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5-P satellite on 14 January 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Multiple sources of satellite data and sea-based visual observation confirmed activity during February 2019. SO2 emissions were recorded with the TROPOMI instrument on 10, 11, 15, and 16 February (figure 21). A Landsat image from 10 February showed a dense steam plume drifting NW from the summit crater, with the dark rim of the summit crater well exposed (figure 22). Sentinel-2 images in natural color and atmospheric penetration renderings identified a dense steam plume drifting S and a thermal anomaly within the summit crater on 15 February (figure 23). An expedition to the South Sandwich Islands between 15 February and 8 March 2019 sponsored by the UK government sailed by Saunders in late February and observed a stream of ash on the NNE flank beneath the cloud cover (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Faint but distinct SO2 plumes were recorded drifting away from Saunders Island in various directions on 10, 11, 15, and 16 February 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. The dark summit crater of Mount Michael on Saunders Island was visible in Landsat imagery on 10 February 2019. A dense steam plume drifted NW and cast a dark shadow on the underlying cloud cover. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. At the summit of Mount Michael on Saunders Island, Sentinel-2 images in Natural Color (bands 4,3,2) (left) and Atmospheric Penetration (bands 12, 11, 8a) (right) renderings identified a dense steam plume drifting S and a thermal anomaly within the summit crater on 15 February 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Recent ash covered the NNE flank of Mount Michael on Saunders Island in late February 2019 when observed by an expedition to the South Sandwich Islands sponsored by the UK government. Courtesy of Chris Darby.

Faint SO2 emissions were recorded twice during March 2019 (figure 25), and a dense steam plume near the summit crater was visible in Landsat imagery on 23 March (figure 26). Two thermal anomalies were captured in the MIROVA data during April 2019 (figure 17).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Faint SO2 plumes were recorded on 1 and 11 March 2019 emerging from Saunders Island. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. A dense steam plume drifted E from the summit crater of Mount Michael at Saunders Island on 25 March 2019. Landsat-8 image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

A volcano-related research project "SSIVOLC" explored the South Sandwich Islands volcanoes during 15 April-31 May 2019. A major aim of SSIVOLC was to collect photogrammetric data of the glacier-covered Mount Michael (Derrien and others, 2019). A number of still images were acquired on 17 and 22 May 2019 showing various features of the island (figures 27-30). The researchers visually observed brief, recurrent, and very weak glow at the summit of Mount Michael after dark on 17 May, which they interpreted as reflecting light from an active lava lake within the summit crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. The steep slopes of an older eroded crater on the E end of Saunders island in the 'Ashen Hills' shows layers of volcanic deposits dipping away from the open half crater. In the background, steam and gas flow out of the summit crater of Mount Michael and drift down the far slope. Drone image PA-IS-03 taken during 17-22 May 2019, courtesy of Derrien and others (2019) used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. A dense steam plume drifts away from the summit of Mount Michael on Saunders Island in this drone image taken during 17-22 May 2019. The older summit crater is to the left of the dark patch in the middle of the summit. North is to the right. Image SU-3 courtesy of Derrien and others (2019) used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. This close-up image of the summit of Mount Michael on Saunders Island shows steam plumes billowing from the summit crater, and large crevasses in the glacier covered flank, taken during 17-22 May 2019. The old crater is to the left. Image TL-SU-1 courtesy of Derrien and others (2019) used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. A dense plume of steam rises from the summit crater of Mount Michael on Saunders Island and drifts over mounds of frozen material during 17-22 May 2019. The older crater is to the left, and part of the Ashen Hills is in the foreground. Image TL-SU-2 courtesy of Derrien and others (2019) used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License.

References: Lachlan-Cope T, Smellie J L, Ladkin R, 2001. Discovery of a recurrent lava lake on Saunders Island (South Sandwich Islands) using AVHRR imagery. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 112: 105-116.

Gray D M, Burton-Johnson A, Fretwell P T, 2019. Evidence for a lava lake on Mt. Michael volcano, Saunders Island (South Sandwich Islands) from Landsat, Sentinel-2 and ASTER satellite imagery. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 379:60-71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.volgeores.2019.05.002.

Derrien A, Richter N, Meschede M, Walter T, 2019. Optical DSLR camera- and UAV footage of the remote Mount Michael Volcano, Saunders Island (South Sandwich Islands), acquired in May 2019. GFZ Data Services. http://doi.org/10.5880/GFZ.2.1..2019.003

Geologic Background. Saunders Island is a volcanic structure consisting of a large central edifice intersected by two seamount chains, as shown by bathymetric mapping (Leat et al., 2013). The young constructional Mount Michael stratovolcano dominates the glacier-covered island, while two submarine plateaus, Harpers Bank and Saunders Bank, extend north. The symmetrical Michael has a 500-m-wide summit crater and a remnant of a somma rim to the SE. Tephra layers visible in ice cliffs surrounding the island are evidence of recent eruptions. Ash clouds were reported from the summit crater in 1819, and an effusive eruption was inferred to have occurred from a N-flank fissure around the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. A low ice-free lava platform, Blackstone Plain, is located on the north coast, surrounding a group of former sea stacks. A cluster of parasitic cones on the SE flank, the Ashen Hills, appear to have been modified since 1820 (LeMasurier and Thomson, 1990). Vapor emission is frequently reported from the summit crater. Recent AVHRR and MODIS satellite imagery has revealed evidence for lava lake activity in the summit crater.

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/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Chris Darby (URL: https://twitter.com/ChrisDDarby, image at https://twitter.com/ChrisDDarby/status/1100686838568812544).


Pacaya (Guatemala) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava flows and Strombolian explosions continued during February-July 2019

Pacaya is one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala, with activity largely consisting of frequent lava flows and Strombolian activity at the Mackenney crater. This report summarizes continued activity during February through July 2019 based on reports by Guatemala's Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH) and Sistema de la Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), visiting scientists, and satellite data.

At the beginning of February activity included Strombolian explosions ejecting material up to 5 to 30 m above the Mackenney crater and a degassing plume up to 300 m. Multiple lava flows were observed throughout the month on the N, NW, and W flanks, reaching 350 m from the crater and resulting in avalanches from the flow fronts. Strombolian activity continued with sporadic to continuous explosions ejecting material 5-75 m above the Mackenney crater. Degassing produced plumes up to 300 m above the crater, and incandescence from the crater and lava flows were seen at night. Daniel Sturgess of Bristol University observed activity on the 24th, noting a 70-m-long lava flow with individual blocks from the front of the flow rolling down the flanks (figure 108). He reported that mild Strombolian explosions occurred every 10-20 minutes and ejected blocks, up to approximately 4 m in diameter, as high as 5-30 m above the crater and towards the northern flank.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. An active lava flow on the NW flank of Pacaya on 24 February 2019 with incandescence visible in lower light conditions. Courtesy of Daniel Sturgess, University of Bristol.

Similar activity continued through March with multiple lava flows reaching a maximum of 200 m N and NW, and avalanches descending from the flow fronts. Ongoing Strombolian explosions expelled material up to 75 m above the Mackenney crater. Degassing produced a white-blue plume to a maximum of 900 m above the crater (figure 109) and incandescence was noted some nights.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. A degassing plume at Pacaya reaching 350 m above the crater and dispersing to the S on 19 March 2019. Courtesy of CONRED.

During April lava flows continued on the N and NW flanks, reaching a maximum length of 300 m, with avalanches forming from the flow fronts. Degassing formed plumes up to 600 m above the crater that dispersed with various wind directions. Strombolian activity continued with explosions ejecting material up to 40 m above the crater. On the 2nd and 3rd weak rumbles were heard at distances of 4-5 km. Similar activity continued through May with lava flows reaching 300 m to the N, degassing producing plumes up to 600 m above the crater, and Strombolian explosions ejecting material up to 15 m above the crater.

Lava flows continued out to 300 m in length to the N and NW during June (figures 110 and 111). Strombolian activity ejected material up to 30 m above the crater and degassing resulted in plumes that reached 300 m. During July there were multiple active lava flows that reached a maximum of 300 m in length on the N and NW flanks (figure 112). Avalanches generated by the collapse of material at the front of the lava flows were accompanied by explosions ejecting material up to 30 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. An active lava flow on Pacaya on 9 June 2019 with incandescent blocks rolling down the flank from the flow front. Courtesy of Paul Wallace, University of Liverpool.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. Activity at Pacaya on 22 June 2019 with a degassing plume dispersed to the W and a 300-m-long lava flow. Photos by Miguel Morales, courtesy of CONRED.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. Two lava flows were active to the N and NW at Pacaya on 20 July 2019. Photos courtesy of CONRED.

During February through July multiple lava flows and crater activity were detected in Sentinel-2 satellite thermal images (figures 113 and 114) and relatively constant thermal energy was detected by the MIROVA system with a slight decrease in the energy and frequency of anomalies during June (figure 115). The thermal anomalies detected by the MODVOLC system for each month from February through July spanned 6-30, with six during June and 30 during April.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 113. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya show lava flows to the N and NW during February through April 2019. There was a reduction in visible activity in early March. False color (urban) satellite images (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 114. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya showing lava flow and hot avalanche activity during June and July 2019. False color (urban) satellite images (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 115. MIROVA log radiative power plot of MODIS thermal infrared at Pacaya during October 2018 through July 2019. Detected thermal energy is relatively stable with a decrease through June and subsequent increase during July. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), Av. Hincapié 21-72, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://conred.gob.gt/www/index.php); 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/); Daniel Sturgess, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, United Kingdom (URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/earthsciences/); Paul Wallace, Department of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences, University of Liverpool, 4 Brownlow Street, Liverpool L69 3GP, United Kingdom (URL: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/environmental-sciences/staff/paul-wallace/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Colima (Mexico) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Colima

Mexico

19.514°N, 103.62°W; summit elev. 3850 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Renewed volcanism after two years of quiet; explosion on 11 May 2019

Frequent historical eruptions at Volcán de Colima date back to the 16th century and include explosive activity, lava flows, and large debris avalanches. The most recent eruptive episode began in January 2013 and continued through March 2017. Previous reports have covered activity involving ash plumes with extensive ashfall, lava flows, lahars, and pyroclastic flows (BGVN 41:01 and 42:08). In late April 2019, increased seismicity related to volcanic activity began again. This report covers activity through July 2019. The primary source of information was the Centro Universitario de Estudios e Investigaciones de Vulcanologia, Universidad de Colima (CUEIV-UdC).

On 11 May 2019, CUEIV-UdC reported an explosion that was recorded by several monitoring stations. A thermal camera located south of Colima captured thermal anomalies associated with the explosion as well as intermittent degassing, which mainly consisted of water vapor (figure 131). A report from the Unidad Estatal de Protección Civil de Colima (UEPCC), and seismic and infrasound network data from CUEIV-UdC, recorded about 60 high-frequency events, 16 landslides, and 14 low-magnitude explosions occurring on the NE side of the crater during 11-24 May. Drone imagery showed fumarolic activity occurring on the inner wall of this crater on 22 May (figure 132).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 131. Gas emissions from Colima during the 11 May 2019 eruption as seen from the Naranjal station. Courtesy of CUEIV-UdC (Boletin Seminal de la Actividad del Volcan de Colima 17 mayo 2019 no 121).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 132. A drone photo showing fumarolic activity occurring within the NE wall of the crater at Colima on 22 May 2019. Courtesy of CUEIV-UdC (Boletin Seminal de la Actividad del Volcan de Colima 24 mayo 2019 no 122).

Small explosions and gas-and-steam emissions continued intermittently through mid-July 2019 concentrated on the NE side of the crater. An overflight on 9 July 2019 revealed that subsidence from the consistent activity slightly increased the diameter of the vent; other areas within the crater also showed evidence of subsidence and some collapsed material on the outer W wall (figure 133). During the weeks of 19 and 26 July 2019, monitoring cameras and seismic data recorded eight lahars.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 133. A drone photo of the crater at Colima on 8 July 2019 shows continuing fumarolic activity and evidence of a collapsed wall on the W exterior side. Courtesy of CUEIV-UdC (Boletin Seminal de la Actividad del Volcan de Colima 12 julio 2019 no 129).

Geologic Background. The Colima volcanic complex is the most prominent volcanic center of the western Mexican Volcanic Belt. It consists of two southward-younging volcanoes, Nevado de Colima (the 4320 m high point of the complex) on the north and the 3850-m-high historically active Volcán de Colima at the south. A group of cinder cones of late-Pleistocene age is located on the floor of the Colima graben west and east of the Colima complex. Volcán de Colima (also known as Volcán Fuego) is a youthful stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera, breached to the south, that has been the source of large debris avalanches. Major slope failures have occurred repeatedly from both the Nevado and Colima cones, and have produced a thick apron of debris-avalanche deposits on three sides of the complex. Frequent historical eruptions date back to the 16th century. Occasional major explosive eruptions (most recently in 1913) have destroyed the summit and left a deep, steep-sided crater that was slowly refilled and then overtopped by lava dome growth.

Information Contacts: Centro Universitario de Estudios e Investigaciones de Vulcanologia, Universidad de Colima (CUEIV-UdC), Colima, Col. 28045, Mexico; Centro Universitario de Estudios Vulcanologicos y Facultad de Ciencias de la Universidad de Colima, Avenida Universidad 333, Colima, Col. 28045, Mexico (URL: http://portal.ucol.mx/cueiv/); Unidad Estatal de Protección Civil, Colima, Roberto Esperón No. 1170 Col. de los Trabajadores, C.P. 28020, Mexico (URL: http://www.proteccioncivil.col.gob.mx/).


Masaya (Nicaragua) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake activity declined during March-July 2019

Masaya, in Nicaragua, contains a lava lake found in the Santiago Crater which has remained active since its return in December 2015 (BGVN 41:08). In addition to this lava lake, previous volcanism included explosive eruptions, lava flows, and gas emissions. Activity generally decreased during March-July 2019, including the number and frequency of thermal anomalies, lava lake levels, and gas emissions. The primary source of information for this report comes from the Instituto Nicareguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER).

On 21 July 2019 a small explosion in the Santiago Crater resulted in some gas emissions and an ash cloud drifting WNW. In addition to the active lava lake (figure 77), monthly reports from INETER noted that thermal activity and gas emissions (figure 78) were decreasing.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Active lava lake visible in the Santiago Crater at Masaya on 27 June 2019. Photo by Sheila DeForest (Creative Commons BY-SA license).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Gas emissions coming from the Santiago Crater at Masaya on 29 June 2019. Photo by Sheila DeForest (Creative Commons BY-SA license).

On 15 May and 22 July 2019, INETER scientists used a FLIR SC620 thermal infrared camera to measure temperatures of fumaroles on the Santiago Crater. In May 2019 the temperature of fumaroles had decreased by 48°C since the previous month. Between May and July 2019 fumarole temperatures continued to decline; temperatures ranged from 90° to 136°C (figure 79). Compared to May 2019 these temperatures are 3°C lower. INETER reports that the level of the lava lake has been slowly dropping during this reporting period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. FLIR (forward-looking infrared) and visible images of the Santiago Crater at Masaya showing fumarole temperatures ranging from 90° to 136°C. The scale in the center shows the range of temperatures in the FLIR image. Courtesy of INETER (March 2019 report).

According to MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) data from MODIS satellite instruments, frequent thermal anomalies were recorded from mid-March through early May 2019, with little to no activity from mid-May to July 2019 (figure 80). Sentinel-2 thermal images show high temperatures in the active lava lake on 10 March 2019 (figure 81). Thermal energy detected by the MODVOLC algorithm showed 14 hotspot pixels with the most number of hotspots (7) occurring in March 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Thermal anomalies were relatively constant at Masaya from early September 2018 through early May 2019 and then abruptly decreased until mid-June 2019 as recorded by MIROVA. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image showing a detected heat signature from the active lava lake at Masaya on 10 March 2019. The lava lake is visible (bright yellow-orange). Approximate diameter of the crater containing the lava lake is 500 m. Thermal (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

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


Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Occasional weak phreatic explosions during March-July 2019

The acid lake of Rincón de la Vieja's active crater has generated intermittent weak phreatic explosions regularly since 2011, continuing during the past year through at least August 2019. The volcano is monitored by the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), and the information below comes from its weekly bulletins between 4 March and 2 September 2019. Clouds often prevented webcam and satellite views. The current report describes activity from March through July 2019.

OVSICORI-UNA reported that weak events occurred on 19 March at 1851 and on 29 March 2019 at 2043. A two-minute-long phreatic explosion on 1 April at 0802 produced a plume that rose 600 m above the crater rim. Continuous emissions were visible during 3-4 April, rising 200 m above the crater rim. On 3 April, at 1437, a small explosion was detected. An explosion on 10 April at 0617 produced a gas-and-steam plume that rose 1 km above the crater rim and drifted SE. On 12 April at 0643, a plume rose 500 m. Another event took place at 0700 on 13 April, although poor weather conditions prevented visual observations. On 14 April, OVSICORI-UNA noted that aerial photographs showed a milky-gray acid lake at a relatively low water level with convection cells of several tens meters of diameter in the center and eastern parts of the lake.

According to an OVSICORI-UNA bulletin, a small phreatic explosion occurred on 1 May. Another explosion on 11 May at 0720 produced a white gas-and-steam plume that rose 600 m above the crater rim. Phreatic explosions were recorded on 14 May at 1703 and on 17 May at 0357, though dense fog prevented visual confirmation of both events with webcams. On 15 May a local observer noted a diffuse plume of steam and gas, material rising from the crater, and photographed milky-gray deposits on the N part of the crater rim ejected from the event the day before. A major explosion occurred on 24 May.

OVSICORI-UNA recorded a significant phreatic 10-minute-long explosion that began on 11 June at 0343, but plumes were not visible due to weather conditions. No further phreatic events were reported in July.

Seismic activity was very low during the reporting period, and there was no significant deformation. Short tremors were frequent toward the end of April, but were only periodic in May and June; tremor almost disappeared in July. A few long-period earthquakes were recorded, and volcano-tectonic earthquakes were even less frequent.

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

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


Aira (Japan) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions with ejecta and ash plumes continue weekly during January-June 2019

Sakurajima rises from Kagoshima Bay, which fills the Aira Caldera near the southern tip of Japan's Kyushu Island. Frequent explosive and occasional effusive activity has been ongoing for centuries. The Minamidake summit cone has been the location of persistent activity since 1955; the Showa crater on its E flank has also been intermittently active since 2006. Numerous explosions and ash-bearing emissions have been occurring each month at either Minamidake or Showa crater since the latest eruptive episode began in late March 2017. This report covers ongoing activity from January through June 2019; the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) provides regular reports on activity, and the Tokyo VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center) issues tens of reports each month about the frequent ash plumes.

From January to June 2019, ash plumes and explosions were usually reported multiple times each week. The quietest month was June with only five eruptive events; the most active was March with 29 (table 21). Ash plumes rose from a few hundred meters to 3,500 m above the summit during the period. Large blocks of incandescent ejecta traveled as far as 1,700 m from the Minamidake crater during explosions in February and April. All the activity originated in the Minamidake crater; the adjacent Showa crater only had a mild thermal anomaly and fumarole throughout the period. Satellite imagery identified thermal anomalies inside the Minamidake crater several times each month.

Table 21. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Sakurajima's Minamidake crater in Aira caldera, January-June 2019. The number of events that were explosive in nature are in parentheses. No events were recorded at the Showa crater during this time. Data courtesy of JMA (January to June 2019 monthly reports).

Month Ash emissions (explosive) Max. plume height above crater Max. ejecta distance from crater
Jan 2019 8 (6) 2.1 km 1.1 km
Feb 2019 15 (11) 2.3 km 1.7 km
Mar 2019 29 (12) 3.5 km 1.3 km
Apr 2019 10 (5) 2.2 km 1.7 km
May 2019 15 (9) 2.9 km 1.3 km
Jun 2019 5 (2) 2.2 km 1.3 km

There were eight eruptive events reported by JMA during January 2019 at the Minamidake summit crater of Sakurajima. They occurred on 3, 6, 7, 9, 17, and 19 January (figure 76). Ash plume heights ranged from 600 to 2,100 m above the summit. The largest explosion, on 9 January, generated an ash plume that rose 2,100 m above the summit crater and drifted E. In addition, incandescent ejecta was sent 800-1,100 m from the summit. Incandescence was visible at the summit on most clear nights. During an overflight on 18 January no significant changes were noted at the crater (figure 77). Infrared thermal imaging done on 29 January indicated a weak thermal anomaly in the vicinity of the Showa crater on the SE side of Minamidake crater. The Kagoshima Regional Meteorological Observatory (KRMO) (11 km WSW) recorded ashfall there during four days of the month. Satellite imagery indicated thermal anomalies inside Minamidake on 7 and 27 January (figure 77).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Incandescent ejecta and ash emissions characterized activity from Sakurajima volcano at Aira during January 2019. Left: A webcam image showed incandescent ejecta on the flanks on 9 January 2019, courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, January 2019). Right: An ash plume rose hundreds of meters above the summit, likely also on 9 January, posted on 10 January 2019, courtesy of Mike Day.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. The summit of Sakurajima consists of the larger Minamidake crater and the smaller Showa crater on the E flank. Left: The Minamidake crater at the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 18 January 2019 seen in an overflight courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, March 2019). Right: Two areas of thermal anomaly were visible in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 27 January 2019. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity increased during February 2019, with 15 eruptive events reported on days 1, 3, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 17, 22, 24, and 27. Ash plume heights ranged from 600-2,300 m above the summit, and ejecta was reported 300 to 1,700 m from the crater in various events (figure 78). KRMO reported two days of ashfall during February. Satellite imagery identified thermal anomalies at the crater on 6 and 26 February, and ash plumes on 21 and 26 February (figure 79).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. An explosion from Sakurajima at Aira on 7 February 2019 sent ejecta up to 1,700 m from the Minamidake summit crater. Courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, February 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Thermal anomalies and ash emissions were captured in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 6, 21, and 26 February 2019 originating from Sakurajima volcano at Aira. Top: Thermal anomalies within the summit crater were visible underneath steam and ash plumes on 6 and 26 February (closeup of bottom right photo). Bottom: Ash emissions on 21 and 26 February drifted SE from the volcano. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The number of eruptive events continued to increase during March 2019; there were 29 events reported on numerous days (figures 80 and 81). An explosion on 14 March produced an ash plume that rose 3,500 m above the summit and drifted E. It also produced ejecta that landed 800-1,100 m from the crater. During an overflight on 26 March a fumarole was the only activity in Showa crater. KRMO reported 14 days of ashfall during the month. Satellite imagery identified an ash plume on 13 March and a thermal anomaly on 18 March (figure 82).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. A large ash emission from Sakurajima volcano at Aira was photographed by a tourist on the W flank and posted on 1 March 2019. Courtesy of Kratü.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. An ash plume from Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 18 March 2019 produced enough ashfall to disrupt the trains in the nearby city of Kagoshima according to the photographer. Image taken from about 20 km away. Courtesy of Tim Board.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. An ash plume drifted SE from the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 13 March (left) and a thermal anomaly was visible inside the Minamidake crater on 18 March 2019 (right). "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

A decline in activity to only ten eruptive events on days 7, 13, 17, 22, and 25 was reported by JMA for April 2019. An explosion on 7 April sent ejecta up to 1,700 m from the crater. Another explosion on 13 April produced an ash plume that rose 2,200 m above the summit. Most of the eruptive events at Sakurajima last for less than 30 minutes; on 22 April two events lasted for almost an hour each producing ash plumes that rose 1,400 m above the summit. Ashfall at KRMO was reported during seven days in April. Two distinct thermal anomalies were visible inside the Minamidake crater on both 12 and 27 April (figure 83).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Two thermal anomalies were present inside Minamidake crater at the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira on 12 (left) and 27 (right) April 2019. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, and 2) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

There were 15 eruptive events during May 2019. An event that lasted for two hours on 12 May produced an ash plume that rose 2,900 m from the summit and drifted NE (figure 84). The Meteorological Observatory reported 14 days with ashfall during the month. Two thermal anomalies were present in satellite imagery in the Minamidake crater on both 17 and 22 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. An ash plume rose 2,900 m above the summit of Sakurajima at Aira on 12 May 2019 (left); incandescent ejecta went 1,300 m from the summit crater on 13 May. Courtesy of JMA (Explanation of volcanic activity in Sakurajima, May 2019).

During June 2019 five eruptive events were reported, on 11, 13, and 24 June; the event on 11 June lasted for almost two hours, sent ash 2,200 m above the summit, and produced ejecta that landed up to 1,100 m from the crater (figure 85). Five days of ashfall were reported by KRMO.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A large ash plume on 11 June 2019 rose 2,200 m above the summit of Sakurajima volcano at Aira. Courtesy of Aone Wakatsuki.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Mike Day, Minnesota, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/MikeDaySMM, photo at https://twitter.com/MikeDaySMM/status/1083489400451989505/photo/1); Kratü, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/TalesOfKratue, photo at https://twitter.com/TalesOfKratue/status/1101469595414589441/photo/1); Tim Board, Japan, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/Hawkworld_, photo at https://twitter.com/Hawkworld_/status/1107789108754038789); Aone Wakatsuke, Twitter (URL: https://twitter.com/AoneWakatsuki, photo at https://twitter.com/AoneWakatsuki/status/1138420031258210305/photo/3).


Agung (Indonesia) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Agung

Indonesia

8.343°S, 115.508°E; summit elev. 2997 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued explosions with ash plumes and incandescent ejecta, February-May 2019

After a large, deadly explosive and effusive eruption during 1963-64, Indonesia's Mount Agung on Bali remained quiet until a new eruption began in November 2017 (BGVN 43:01). Lava emerged into the summit crater at the end of November and intermittent ash plumes rose as high as 3 km above the summit through the end of the year. Activity continued throughout 2018 with explosions that produced ash plumes rising multiple kilometers above the summit, and the slow effusion of the lava within the summit crater (BGVN 43:08, 44:02). Information about the ongoing eruptive episode comes from Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), also known as the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and multiple sources of satellite data. This report covers the ongoing eruption from February through May 2019.

Intermittent but increasingly frequent and intense explosions with ash emissions and incandescent ejecta characterized activity at Agung during February through May 2019. During February, explosions were reported three times; events on seven days in March were documented with ash plumes and ashfall in surrounding villages. Five significant events occurred during April; two involved incandescent ejecta that traveled several kilometers from the summit, and ashfall tens of kilometers from the volcano. Most of the five significant events reported in May involved incandescent ejecta and ashfall in adjacent villages; air traffic was disrupted during the 24 May event. Ash plumes in May reached altitudes over 7 km multiple times. Thermal activity increased steadily during the period, according to both the MIROVA project (figure 44) and MODVOLC thermal alert data. MAGMA Indonesia reported at the end of May 2019 that the volume of lava within the summit crater remained at about 25 million m3; satellite information indicated continued thermal activity within the crater. Alert Level III (of four levels) remained in effect throughout the period with a 4 km exclusion radius around the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Thermal activity at Agung from 4 September 2018 through May 2019 was variable. The increasing frequency and intensity of thermal events was apparent from February-May. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Steam plumes rose 30-300 m high daily during February 2019. The Agung Volcano Observatory (AVO) and PVMBG issued a VONA on 7 February (UTC) reporting an ash plume, although it was not visible due to meteoric cloud cover. Incandescence, however, was observed at the summit from webcams in both Rendang and Karangasem City (16 km SE). The seismic event associated with the explosion lasted for 97 seconds. A similar event on 13 February was also obscured by clouds but produced a seismic event that lasted for 3 minutes and 40 seconds, and ashfall was reported in the village of Bugbug, about 20 km SE. On 22 February a gray ash plume rose 700 m from the summit during a seismic event that lasted for 6 minutes and 20 seconds (figure 45). The Darwin VAAC reported the plume visible in satellite imagery moving W at 4.3 km altitude. It dissipated after a few hours, but a hotspot remained visible about 10 hours later.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. An ash plume rose from the summit of Agung on 22 February 2019, viewed from the Besakih temple, 7 km SW of the summit. Courtesy of PunapiBali.

Persistent steam plumes rose 50-500 m from the summit during March 2019. An explosion on 4 March was recorded for just under three minutes and produced ashfall in Besakih (7 km SW); no ash plume was observed due to fog. A short-lived ash plume rose to 3.7 km altitude and drifted SE on 8 March (UTC) 2019. The seismic event lasted for just under 4 minutes. Ash emissions were reported on 15 and 17 March to 4.3 and 3.7 km altitude, respectively, drifting W (figure 46). Ashfall from the 15 March event spread NNW and was reported in the villages of Kubu (6 km N), Tianyar (14 km NNW), Ban, Kadundung, and Sukadana. MAGMA Indonesia noted that two explosions on the morning of 17 March (local time) produced gray plumes; the first sent a plume to 500 m above the summit drifting E and lasted for about 40 seconds, while the second plume a few hours later rose 600 m above the crater and lasted for 1 minute and 16 seconds. On 18 March an ash plume rose 1 km and drifted W and NW. An event on 20 March was measured only seismically by PVMBG because fog prevented observations. An eruption on 28 March produced an ash plume 2 km high that drifted W and NW. The seismic signal for this event lasted for about two and a half minutes. The Darwin VAAC reported the ash plume at 5.5 km altitude, dissipating quickly to the NW. No ash was visible four hours later, but a thermal anomaly remained at the summit (figure 47). Ashfall was reported in nearby villages.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Ash plumes from Agung on 15 (left) and 17 (right) March 2019 resulted in ashfall in communities 10-20 km from the volcano. Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia (Information on G. Agung Eruption, 15 March 2019 and Gunung Agung Eruption Press Release March 17, 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. A thermal anomaly was visible through thick cloud cover at the summit of Agung on 29 March 2019 less than 24 hours after a gray ash plume was reported 2,000 m above the summit. "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The first explosion of April 2019 occurred on the 3rd (UTC); PVMBG reported the dense gray ash plume 2 km above the summit drifting W. A few hours later the Darwin VAAC raised the altitude to 6.1 km based on infrared temperatures in satellite imagery. The seismic signal lasted for three and a half minutes and the explosion was heard at the PGA Post in Rendang (12 km SW). Incandescent material fell within a radius of 2-3 km, mainly on the S flank (figure 48). Ashfall was reported in the villages of Telungbuana, Badeg, Besakih, Pempatan, Teges, and Puregai on the W and S flanks (figure 49). An explosion on 11 April also produced a dense gray ash plume that rose 2 km above the summit and drifted W. A hotspot remained about six hours later after the ash dissipated.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Incandescent ejecta appeared on the flanks of Agung after an eruption on 4 April 2019 (local time) as viewed from the observation post in Rendang (8 km SW). Courtesy of Jamie Sincioco.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Ashfall in a nearby town dusted mustard plants on 4 April 2019 from an explosion at Agung the previous day. Courtesy of Pantau.com (Photo: Antara / Nyoman Hendra).

PVMBG reported an eruption visible in the webcam early on 21 April (local time) that rose to 5.5 km altitude and drifted SW. The ash spread W and S and ash fell around Besakih (7 km SW), Rendang (8 km SW), Klungkung (25 km S), Gianyar (20 km WSW), Bangli (17 km WNW), Tabanan (50 km WSW), and at the Ngurah Rai-Denpasar Airport (60 km SW). About 15 hours later a new explosion produced a dense gray ash plume that rose to 3 km above the summit and produced incandescent ejecta in all directions as far as 3 km away (figure 50). The ash spread to the S and ashfall was reported in Besakih, Rendang, Sebudi (6 km SW), and Selat (12 km SSW). Both of the explosions were heard in Rendang and Batulompeh. The incandescent ejecta from the explosions remained within the 4-km exclusion zone. A satellite image on 23 April showed multiple thermal anomalies within the summit crater (figure 51). A dense gray plume drifted E from Agung on 29 April (30 April local time) at 4.6 km altitude. It was initially reported by ground observers, but was also visible in multispectral satellite imagery for about six hours before dissipating.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. An explosion at Agung on 21 April 2019 sent incandescent eject 3,000 m from the summit. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia (Gunung Agung Eruption Press Release April 21, 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Multiple thermal anomalies were still present within the summit crater of Agung on 23 April 2019 after two substantial explosions produced ash and incandescent ejecta around the summit two days earlier. "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

PVMBG reported an eruption on 3 May 2019 that was recorded on a seismogram with a signal that lasted for about a minute. Satellite imagery reported by the Darwin VAAC showed a growing hotspot and possible ash near the summit at 4.3 km altitude moving NE. A few days later, on 6 May, a gray ash plume rose to 5.2 km altitude and drifted slowly W before dissipating; it was accompanied by a seismic signal that lasted for about two minutes. Explosions on 12 and 18 May produced significant amounts of incandescent ejecta (figure 52). The seismic signal for the 12 May event lasted for about two minutes; no plume was observed due to fog, but incandescent ejecta was visible on the flanks and the explosion was heard at Rendang. The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume from the explosion on 17 May (18 May local time) at 6.1 km altitude in satellite imagery moving E. They revised the altitude a short while later to 7.6 km based on IR temperature and movement; the plume drifted N, NE, and E in light and variable winds. A few hours after that it was moving NE at 7.6 km altitude and SE at 5.5 km altitude; this lasted for about 12 hours until it dissipated. Ashfall was reported in villages downwind including Cutcut, Tongtongan, Bonyoh (20 km WNW), and Temakung.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Explosions on 12 (left) and 18 (right) May (local time) 2019 produced substantial ejecta on the flanks of Agung visible from a distance of 10 km or more in PVMBG webcams. The ash plume from the 18 May event resulted in ashfall in numerous communities downwind. Courtesy of PVMBG (Information Eruption G. Agung, May 13, 2019, Information Eruption G. Agung, May 18, 2019).

The initial explosion on 18 May was captured by a webcam at a nearby resort and sent incandescent ejecta hundreds of meters down the NE flank within 20 seconds (figure 53). Satellite imagery on 3, 8, 13, and 18 May indicated multiple thermal anomalies growing stronger at the summit. All of the images were captured within 24 hours of an explosive event reported by PVMBG (figure 54).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. The 18 May 2019 explosion at Agung produced an ash plume that rose to over 7 km altitude and large bombs of incandescent material that traveled hundreds of meters down the NE flank within the first 20 seconds of the explosion. Images taken from a private webcam located 12 km NE. Courtesy of Volcanoverse, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. Satellite images from 3, 8, 13, and 18 May 2019 at Agung showed persistent and increasing thermal anomalies within the summit crater. All images were captured within 24 hours of explosions reported by PVMBG. "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

PVMBG issued a VONA on 24 May 2019 reporting a new ash emission. They indicated that incandescent fragments were ejected 2.5-3 km in all directions from the summit, and the seismic signal lasted for four and a half minutes (figure 55). A dense gray ash plume was observed from Tulamben on the NE flank rising 2 km above the summit. Satellite imagery indicated that the plume drifted SW and ashfall was reported in the villages of Besakih, Pempatan, Menanga, Sebudi, Muncan, Amerta Bhuana, Nongan, Rendang, and at the Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpassar. Additionally, ashfall was reported in the districts of Tembuku, Bangli, and Susut (20 km SW). The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery at 4.6 km altitude along with a thermal anomaly and incandescent lava visible in webcam imagery. The remains of the ash plume were about 170 km S of the airport in Denpasar (60 km SW) and had nearly dissipated 18 hours after the event. According to a news article several flights to and from Australia were cancelled or diverted, though the International Gusti Ngurah Rai (IGNR) airport was not closed. On 31 May another large explosion produced the largest ash plume of the report period, rising more than 2 km above the summit (figure 56). The Darwin VAAC reported its altitude as 8.2 km drifting ESE visible in satellite data. It split into two plumes, one drifted E at 8.2 km and the other ESE at 6.1 km altitude, dissipating after about 20 hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. A large explosion at Agung on 24 May 2019 produced incandescent ejecta that covered all the flanks and dispersed ash to many communities to the SW. Courtesy of PVMBG (Gunung Agung Eruption Press Release 24 May 2019 20:38 WIB, Kasbani, Ir., M.Sc.).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. An explosion at Agung on 31 May 2019 sent an ash plume to 8.2 km altitude, the highest for the report period. Courtesy of Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB.

Geologic Background. Symmetrical Agung stratovolcano, Bali's highest and most sacred mountain, towers over the eastern end of the island. The volcano, whose name means "Paramount," rises above the SE caldera rim of neighboring Batur volcano, and the northern and southern flanks extend to the coast. The summit area extends 1.5 km E-W, with the high point on the W and a steep-walled 800-m-wide crater on the E. The Pawon cone is located low on the SE flank. Only a few eruptions dating back to the early 19th century have been recorded in historical time. The 1963-64 eruption, one of the largest in the 20th century, produced voluminous ashfall along with devastating pyroclastic flows and lahars that caused extensive damage and many fatalities.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); 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); The Jakarta Post, Mount Agung eruption disrupts Australian flights, (URL: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/05/25/mount-agung-eruption-disrupts-australian-flights.html); PunapiBali (URL: http://punapibali.com/, Twitter: https://twitter.com/punapibali, image at https://twitter.com/punapibali/status/1098869352588288000/photo/1); Jamie S. Sincioco, Phillipines (URL: Twitter: https://twitter.com/jaimessincioco. Image at https://twitter.com/jaimessincioco/status/1113765842557104130/photo/1); Pantau.com (URL: https://www.pantau.com/berita/erupsi-gunung-agung-sebagian-wilayah-bali-terpapar-hujan-abu?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter); Volcanoverse (URL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi3T_esus8Sr9I-3W5teVQQ); Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB (Twitter: @Sutopo_PN, URL: https://twitter.com/Sutopo_PN ).


Kerinci (Indonesia) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent explosions with ash plumes, February-May 2019

Frequently active, Indonesia's Mount Kerinci on Sumatra has been the source of numerous moderate explosive eruptions since its first recorded eruption in 1838. Intermittent explosions with ash plumes, usually multiple times per month, have characterized activity since April 2018. Similar activity continued during February-May 2019, the period covered in this report with information provided primarily by the Indonesian volcano monitoring agency, Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), MAGMA Indonesia, notices from the Darwin Volcano Ash Advisory Center (Darwin VAAC), and satellite data. PVMBG has maintained an Alert Level II (of 4) at Kerinci for several years.

On 13 February 2019 the Kerinci Volcano Observatory (KVO), part of PVMBG, noted a brownish-white ash emission that was drifting NE about 400 m above the summit. The seismicity during the event was dominated by continuous volcanic tremor. A brown ash emission was reported on 7 March 2019 that rose to 3.9 km altitude and drifted NE. Ash also drifted 1,300 m down the SE flank. Another ash plume the next morning drifted W at 4.5 km altitude, according to KVO. On 10, 11, and 13 March KVO reported brown ash plumes drifting NE from the summit at about 4.0-4.3 km altitude. The Darwin VAAC observed continuous ash emissions in satellite imagery on 15 March drifting W at 4.3 m altitude that dissipated after about 3 hours (figure 10). A gray ash emission was reported on 19 March about 600 m above the summit drifting NE; local news media noted that residents of Kayo Aro reported emissions on both 18 and 19 March (figure 11). An ash emission appeared in satellite imagery on 25 March (figure 10). On 30 March the observatory reported two ash plumes; a brown emission at 0351 UTC and a gray emission at 0746 UTC that both drifted NE at about 4.4 km altitude and dissipated within a few hours. PVMBG reported another gray ash plume the following day at a similar altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of Kerinci from 15 (left) and 25 (right) March 2019 showed evidence of ash plumes rising from the summit. Kerinci's summit crater is about 500 m wide. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Dense ash plumes from Kerinci were reported by local news media on 18 and 19 March 2019. Courtesy of Nusana Jambi.

Activity continued during April with a brown ash emission reported on 3 April by several different agencies; the Darwin VAAC and PVMBG daily reports noted that the plume was about 500 m above the summit (4.3 km altitude) drifting NE. KVO observed two brown ash emissions on 13 April (UTC) that rose to 4.2 km altitude and drifted NE. Satellite imagery showed minor ash emissions from the summit on 14 April; steam plumes 100-500 m above the summit characterized activity for the remainder of April (figure 12).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. A dilute ash emission rose from the summit of Kerinci on 14 April 2019 (left); only steam emissions were present on a clear 29 April in Sentinel-2 imagery (right). "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Ashfall on the NE and S flanks within 7 km of the volcano was reported on 2 May 2019. According to a news article, at least five villages were affected late on 2 May, including Tanjung Bungo, Sangir, Sangir Tengah, Sungai Rumpun, and Bendung Air (figures 13 and 14). The smell of sulfur was apparent in the villages. Brown ash emissions were observed on 3 and 4 May that rose to 4.6 and 4.1 km altitude and drifted SE. The Darwin VAAC reported an emission on 5 May, based on a pilot report, that rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted NE for about an hour before dissipating. A brown ash emission on 10 May rose 700 m above the summit and drifted SE. Satellite imagery captured ash emissions from the summit on 14 and 24 May (figure 15). For the remainder of the month, 300-700-m-high dense steam plumes were noted daily until PVMBG reported white and brown plumes on 26 and 27 May rising 500-1,000 m above the summit. Although thermal anomalies were not reported during the period, persistent weak SO2 emissions were identified in TROPOMI instrument satellite data multiple times per month (figure 16).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Ashfall was reported from five villages on the flanks of Kerinci on 2 May 2019. Courtesy of Uzone.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. An ash plume at Kerinci rose hundreds of meters on 2 May 2019; ashfall was reported in several nearby villages. Courtesy of Kerinci Time.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Ash emissions from Kerinci were captured in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 14 (left) and 24 (right) May 2019. The summit crater is about 500 m wide. "Geology" rendering (bands 12, 4, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Weak SO2 anomalies from Kerinci emissions were captured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite multiple times each month from February to May 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); 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/); Nuansa Jambi, Informasi Utama Jambi: (URL: https://nuansajambi.com/2019/03/20/gunung-kerinci-semburkan-asap-tebal/); Kerinci Time (URL: https://kerincitime.co.id/gunung-kerinci-semburkan-abu-vulkanik.html); Uzone.id (URL: https://news.uzone.id/gunung-kerinci-erupsi-5-desa-tertutup-abu-tebal).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 23, Number 05 (May 1998)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Bezymianny (Russia)

Slowly growing hot spot seen on satellite image

Deception Island (Antarctica)

Stable conditions, 35 hours of tremor

Galeras (Colombia)

Continuing seismicity includes tornillo events

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Short-lived Vulcanian episode unsettles month of mild activity

Pacaya (Guatemala)

May eruption shrouds capital in ash, harms crops, and spreads NW

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

Moderate activity continues, smoke hinders observation

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Tripling of volcanic events; ash plumes

Sabancaya (Peru)

Summit activity, ice observed on visit in May

Sheveluch (Russia)

Satellite imagery detects large ash plume

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Low activity; deformation and volume measurements

St. Helens (United States)

Sudden rise in earthquake activity in May

Ukinrek Maars (United States)

Earthquake swarm decreases in rate and intensity



Bezymianny (Russia) — May 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Bezymianny

Russia

55.972°N, 160.595°E; summit elev. 2882 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Slowly growing hot spot seen on satellite image

During 28-30 May, a fumarolic plume was seen rising to 50-300 m above the volcano and moving 5 km E. Visual observations made on 28 May indicated color changes in the fumarolic plume suggesting an increase in gas emission.

Satellite images of Bezymianny made during 1-10 June, when not obscured by clouds, indicated a persistent and slowly growing hot-spot more than 5 km2 in size. This thermal anomaly persisted until late June. It was similar to that observed shortly before the 5 December 1997 eruption (BGVN 22:11), which sent a short-lived eruption plume to over 9 km above sea level. It likely indicates that the summit lava dome is growing again and may be subject to a sudden partial collapse similar to the 5 December event. KVERT changed the level of concern color code to yellow-alert and will monitor the situation closely.

Seismicity during 1-10 June was at background levels. No seismicity was reported during the next three weeks. Fumarolic plumes were seen rising 100 to 800 m and moving up to 10 km to the SE and S during 9-11, 17, and 19-21 June.

Geologic Background. Prior to its noted 1955-56 eruption, Bezymianny had been considered extinct. The modern volcano, much smaller in size than its massive neighbors Kamen and Kliuchevskoi, was formed about 4700 years ago over a late-Pleistocene lava-dome complex and an ancestral edifice built about 11,000-7000 years ago. Three periods of intensified activity have occurred during the past 3000 years. The latest period, which was preceded by a 1000-year quiescence, began with the dramatic 1955-56 eruption. This eruption, similar to that of St. Helens in 1980, produced a large horseshoe-shaped crater that was formed by collapse of the summit and an associated lateral blast. Subsequent episodic but ongoing lava-dome growth, accompanied by intermittent explosive activity and pyroclastic flows, has largely filled the 1956 crater.

Information Contacts: Olga Chubarova and Vladimir Kirianov, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia; Tom Miller, Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667, USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA.


Deception Island (Antarctica) — May 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Deception Island

Antarctica

63.001°S, 60.652°W; summit elev. 602 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Stable conditions, 35 hours of tremor

A Deception Volcano Observatory team has visited the island every austral summer since 1986. In comparison with measurements made during 1996-1997, the temperatures of fumaroles and hot soils generally remained stable: 96-98°C in Fumarole Bay, 64°C in Whaler's Bay, 43°C in Telefon Bay, and 60°C in Pendulum Cove. At Murature Point an increase of more than 20°C produced greater bubbling under the sea, and a large quantity of dead (boiled) krill at the shoreline.

Fumarolic gases were mainly composed of CO2 and H2S, similar to previous years. SO2 was not detected.

Seismicity was monitored with a digital seismic array having 16-bit dynamic range. The array included 6 vertical-component geophones (Mark L25B) located near the Spanish Antarctic Station Gabriel de Castilla (figure 12). Figure 13 shows seismic data collected from 18 December 1997 to 24 February 1998. A significant component of the seismicity was volcanic tremor of a few minutes to several hours duration totaling 35 hours over the reporting period. Also recorded were 72 hybrid events, 291 long-period events, 12 short-period events, and some regional events generated at 30-100 km distance. Recorded seismicity during this period was greater in both energy and number than in previous years.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Map of Deception Island, showing fumaroles (*) and hot soils (~) in 1998. Courtesy of C. Risso.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Seismicity at Deception Island, December 1997-February 1998. Courtesy of R. Abella.

Geologic Background. Ring-shaped Deception Island, one of Antarctica's most well known volcanoes, contains a 7-km-wide caldera flooded by the sea. Deception Island is located at the SW end of the Shetland Islands, NE of Graham Land Peninsula, and was constructed along the axis of the Bransfield Rift spreading center. A narrow passageway named Neptunes Bellows provides entrance to a natural harbor that was utilized as an Antarctic whaling station. Numerous vents located along ring fractures circling the low, 14-km-wide island have been active during historical time. Maars line the shores of 190-m-deep Port Foster, the caldera bay. Among the largest of these maars is 1-km-wide Whalers Bay, at the entrance to the harbor. Eruptions from Deception Island during the past 8700 years have been dated from ash layers in lake sediments on the Antarctic Peninsula and neighboring islands.

Information Contacts: C. Risso, Observatorio Volcanológico Decepción, Instituto Antártico Argentino-UBA, Cerrito 1248 (1010) Buenos Aires, Argentina; A. García, R. Abella, and J. Peña, Dpto. Volcanologia, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales-CSIS, José Guiterrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid-Spain; E. Vélez, Instituto de Astronomía y Geodesia-CSIS, Madrid-Spain; F. Navarro, Escuela Superior de Ingenieros de Telecomunicaciones-U.P.M., Madrid, Spain.


Galeras (Colombia) — May 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Galeras

Colombia

1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuing seismicity includes tornillo events

Seismicity continued at low levels around Galeras during March and April. Over this period 92 volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes were located; of these, 53 were in the area called the North Source (dashed box in figure 88). On 16 March at 2124 (GMT) a VT event with a coda magnitude of 2.2 was felt in Pasto City and other towns in the area. The event was centered in the North Source 2 km N of the crater at a depth of 5 km below the summit. The most energetic VT event outside of the North Source occurred on 29 April. That event struck SW of the crater with a coda magnitude of 2.1 and a depth of 6.5 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Epicenters of volcano-tectonic earthquakes surrounding Galeras that took place during March -April 1998. The North Source is outlined by the dashed box. Courtesy OVP-INGEOMINAS.

Another aspect of seismicity during March and April was the continuation of Long Period (LP) events called Tornillos. Tornillo events characteristically have quasi-monochromatic wave-forms with slowly decaying coda values and hence leave a seismic record that looks like the threads of a screw. A record 38 such events have been recorded since November 1997 (BGVN 22:09 and 22:12). The last Tornillo was recorded 10 April.

On 19 April an event similar to spasmodic tremor was recorded. The cause was mud flow along the Azufral River, which runs west from the summit, resulting from heavy rain on volcanic deposits. The event lasted for about 1 hour.

Two electronic tiltmeters, located at the summit and on the E flank (figure 89), remained stable with minimum fluctuations during the period. Fumarole temperature, hot springs pH, radon, and gas-emission measurements showed no significant changes with respect to previous months. The Galeras Seismological Network monitors the volcano with five short-period and two broad-band telemeters, which are part of a cooperative project between OVP-INGEOMINAS (see below) and the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Galeras Volcano Vilgilance Network: monitoring equipment within 5 km of the summit. Courtesy OVP-INGEOMINAS.

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

Information Contacts: Pablo Chamorro and Diego Gomez Martinez, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Pasto (OVP), INGEOMINAS, Carrera 31, No. 18-07 Parque Infantil, PO Box 1795, Pasto, Colombia (URL: https://www2.sgc.gov.co/volcanes/index.html).


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — May 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Manam

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Short-lived Vulcanian episode unsettles month of mild activity

Mild activity from Manam's two summit craters continued throughout May. Emissions at both Southern and Main craters chiefly consisted of white vapors released at weak to moderately high rates.

An hour-long Vulcanian episode occurred on 21 May. At 1300 a single large explosion at Southern crater produced a gray-brown ash cloud that rose ~ 500 m above the crater, followed by occasional gray ash emissions at 3-5 minute intervals. The ash clouds drifted to the SE of the island leaving a fine ashfall in its wake. There was no visible glow at night.

Seismicity remained at low levels. From 1,100 to 1,400 low-frequency events of very low amplitudes were recorded daily. The water-tube tiltmeter at Tabele Observatory, 4 km SW of the summit, showed an inflation of 2 µrad prior to the Vulcanian phase of 21 May, which remained to the end the month.

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

Information Contacts: Ben Talai and H. Patia, RVO.


Pacaya (Guatemala) — May 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


May eruption shrouds capital in ash, harms crops, and spreads NW

Pacaya erupted unusually vigorously on 20 May. As a result, ash falling in the adjacent highlands damaged crops; ash falling to the N choked the capital and its international airport; and ash located at about 10 km altitude entered the Gulf of Mexico and joined smoke from widespread forest fires. An airplane on final approach to landing at the Guatemala City airport hit ejecta, sustaining damage but landing without incident.

The outburst's greatest intensity occurred during the hours 1205-1900. For 30 hours prior to this outburst, relative quiet prevailed with the volcano generally emitting ash-bearing explosions of brown to coffee-brown color and very little incandescent lava. Beginning around 0930, explosions became continuous, and they proceeded to squirt and splatter abundant lava E and N of the active crater (MacKenney Crater).

An initial, higher-intensity phase began before noon, sending a gray ash column 800 m high. Such columns later reached roughly 1.5-2.0 km above the crater. The eruption was described in Spanish in a series of INSIVUMEH reports. Their update at 1400 on 20 May stated that ash with grain sizes up to 3-7 mm fell on Guatemala City (the capital), the center of which lies 30 km N of Pacaya. An update at 1700 told of 2.5 mm of ash at the international airport (La Aurora, ~23 km N of Pacaya) but eruptive plumes at the volcano had dropped to 200-300 m in height. The ash at the airport was described as 0.5-1.5 mm across and dark in color. About 1 mm of ash fell in part of the capital.

Although ash fell in the capital mainly during 1100-1700 on 20 May, the amount falling diminished around 1530, allowing the atmosphere to clear substantially. At 1700, Pacaya sent ash plumes 200-300 m above the summit, more typical of normal behavior at the volcano. At about 2000, the wind carried only very small particles toward the capital. Still, local vegetation tenuously held residual ash that could easily become wind blown. In response to the diminished eruptive vigor, at 2100 on 20 May the alert status was lowered from red to orange.

During the eruption, five lava flows or lobes formed, three oriented towards Cerro Chino. One of these reached 1.5 km in length and ~300-400 m in width. The two other flows proceeded down the N and S flanks for ~600 m. No lavas reached cultivated or populated areas. The eruption disrupted the crater sending blocks 2.5 m in diameter up to 1 km downslope (to "la meseta"). Ash thicknesses of 20-30 cm were reported in villages approximately 2-4 km from the volcano (including San Francisco de Sales, Calderas, Mesillas Altas, and El Bejucal).

Verbal conversations with INSIVUMEH's Eddie Sanchez indicated that ash fell on Guatemala City during 1100-1700 on 20 May. Also, volcanic bombs with masses up to 7 kg landed near Pacaya's summit (on Cerro Chino). They also learned that lapilli fell in a village a few kilometers away on Pacaya's flanks (San Francisco de Sales). Otoniel Mat¡as said the 20 May event prompted 252 people to evacuate local settlements. Authorities had several cautions for people in areas of ash fall: 1) drive at speeds below 30 km/hour; 2) avoid the use of their vehicle's windshield wipers because the ash would scratch glass; and 3) cover cisterns even though the ash was non-toxic.

Seismicity during the event on 20 May left records with amplitudes of 5-17 mm peak-to-peak and maintained RSAM values of 870 counts over 10-minute intervals.

The INSIVUMEH report at 1000 on 21 May described a substantial decrease in eruptive vigor but explosions still sent gray, ash-bearing plumes to ~800 m above the summit. A N wind with speeds of 12-17 km/hour carried ash to El Chupadero and El Caracol, spots located 2-2.5 km from the crater. This same morning, the longest lava flow had reached 1.1 km in length.

Other consequences. The previously mentioned aircraft was a commercial jet that was on final approach to the airport when it entered an ash cloud. A few seconds prior to landing, a Pacaya discharge burst forth propelling rocks into the air. Impact with these rocks damaged the pilot's forward windows (captain and first officer) but the landing was completed without further complications. Repairs and inspection were carried out over a 3-day interval; both the airline's technicians and a manufacturer's representative inspected the plane and found the engines undamaged.

At the airport, ash was removed by mechanical means (and to some extent thanks to rainfall) on 21, 22, and 23 May, returning to full service on Sunday 24 May. Rainfall during 22-24 May was never heavy but it apparently did much to wash the ash away. Not surprisingly, the ash clogged storm drains in the capital forcing crews to clean much of the 3-4 million tons of ash mechanically.

A news report in La Nación stated the National Coffee Association computed that the 20 May eruption caused "some $75 million in losses in the coffee harvest." This was the third time in recent history that Guatemala City had been ash choked: the two previous times, 1932 and 1974 were due to eruptions at Fuego, a stratovolcano that sits along the volcanic front roughly 30 km W of Pacaya.

Later activity. Other outbursts occurred during June. One on 14 June was somewhat weaker than the 20 May event; nevertheless it disrupted the crater's geometry and formed a distinct spatter cone. This outburst took place at 1045, exhaling for 10 minutes in conditions of little or no wind, sending brightly incandescent material to 1 km. The material fell harmlessly back on the crater area.

This type of comparatively short eruptive interval had been rare at Pacaya until recently; previous pulses were typically weaker and continued longer, often for 2-7 hours. The short blasts seen recently were thought to be related to water saturation of the ground associated with a wet rainy season; presumably, more groundwater has been driven toward the magma. The situation became difficult from a civil-defense policy perspective since these short, forceful pulses were typically unpredictable and could create conditions requiring rapid response in flank settlements.

Aviation reports. The NOAA/NESDIS Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB) produced tens of reports on Pacaya's mid-May and early June eruptions. For many of their reports before and well after the 20 May eruption, GOES-8 infrared, and multi spectral imagery did not indicate an ash plume, but channel 2 data often revealed a small hot spot. In accord with the rather sudden emergence of the eruption, no ash was detected during clear weather on GOES-8 visible, infrared, or multi spectral imagery through 1645 GMT on 20 May.

Hours later SAB reported a substantial ash cloud; it appeared in GOES-8 imagery taken at 1900 GMT on 20 May (table 2, first entry). Their same report noted that a sounding from Belize (station 78583) had yielded an estimated plume height of about 9-11 km altitude. The cloud extended 140 km NNE from the summit, reached a width of 46 km, and advanced NNE at about 120 km/hour. Table 2 shows a sample of some noteworthy reports posted during portions of 20-22 May.

Table 2. Several of the reports on Pacaya and its ash clouds during parts of 20-22 May put out by the NOAA/NESDIS Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB). Stated times are GMT. Courtesy of SAB.

Report Date Report Time (GMT) Report Number Observations
20 May 1998 2125 98-018 Ash cloud of dimensions and velocity discussed in text (extending to the point 16°N, 90°W).
21 May 1998 0330 98-019 The plume extended NE across Central America and into W Gulf of Mexico (from 19°N, 88°W to 21°N, 86°W ) and was 55 km wide. Plume height was about 9-12 km.
21 May 1998 0915 98-020 GOES-8 multi spectral imagery did not show any plume from the earlier eruption at 1900 GMT on May 20. The plume moved NW across Central America into the W Caribbean and dissipated as it approached W Cuba.
21 May 1998 1535 98-021 Surface observations at 1500 GMT indicated Pacaya in eruption. No plume visible on GOES-8.
21 May 1998 1745 98-022 Pacaya erupted through 1700. Although ash moved NE at about 50 knots, newly erupted ash was not discerned on GOES-8 imagery. As best as could be determined, the SIGMET issued earlier by Santo Domingo for ash to 10.4 km spread over large portions of the N Carribean was the result of ash resulting from the 1900 GMT 20 May Pacaya eruption. GOES-8 satellite imagery through 1645 GMT failed to reveal discernible ash in the Caribbean but the presence of thin diffuse ash could not be discounted.
22 May 1998 0530 98-023 Surface observations indicated an eruption from 1500 GMT on 21 May to 0530 GMT on 22 May with uncertain amounts of ash ejecting. Highly different wind velocities at different altitudes. Weather clouds obscured the satellite view of the eruption.
22 May 1998 1430 98-026 Surface observations repeatedly indicated that the eruption continued on 22 May during 0530-1300 GMT but no surface observations were reported during 0900-1200 GMT. Pilot reports around indicated ash near 9.1 km in the central Gulf of Mexico (near 24.3°N, 86.8°W). At some time during 1400-1430 GMT one pilot reported descending to an altitude of 8.2 km from 8.8 km to avoid volcanic ash. Another pilot reported no problem while flying at 10 km in the same area. At some time during 1415-1430 GMT a pilot located over 23.5°N, 86.8 observed a gray layer and smoky smell while flying at 8.8 km altitude. The pilot could not distinguish between volcanic ash and smoke. A velocity for ash moving over the central Gulf of Mexico was estimated based on upper air data from Key West, Florida: 55-65 km/hour directed ENE.

Fires, El Nino, and smoky atmospheric conditions. During May and early June INSIVUMEH reported intervals of heavy rains and fog around Pacaya. Satellite data, now available on the web (SSEC, 1998 ), also revealed intervals of cloud cover. Despite this rain at Pacaya, thousands of fires remained burning throughout the region, ~40% of them located in the Petén, an area hundreds of kilometers to the N. These fires and associated atmospheric conditions warrant further discussion as they link to both public safety and the interest in understanding the Pacaya's contribution to the atmosphere.

According to news reports, smoke from forest fires burning out of control added to the airborne ash from 300-m-tall eruption columns during 15-18 May had caused breathing problems as far away as Houston, Texas. In addition, at least one news report said that reduced visibility had made airplane landing possible only through the use of instrument guidance in Guatemala City; Honduras was forced to close its two largest airports.

What follows came from a report by the U.S. Agency for International Development (21 May 1998). The report noted that since January, more than 10,650 fires have burned some 1,200 square miles [3,108 km2] in Mexico, an area nearly the size of the state of Rhode Island. As of 21 May, approximately 277 wildfires still raged throughout Guatemala.

"During 1998, Mexico and the entire Central American region have been affected by drought exacerbated by El Nino conditions. The drought has aggravated the effects of slash and burn agricultural practices in forest and grassland areas, leaving thousands of fires burning out of control. Tropical forest, usually too humid to burn, has become extremely vulnerable to fire. In addition to making the land more arid and therefore more flammable, the droughts have eliminated the cleaning effect that rains usually have on the region's air. The ground cover burning may be the driest ever recorded in this century, which has resulted in large quantities of smoke being emitted into the atmosphere. The fires have burned more than one million acres [>4,050 km2] and severely affected visibility and air quality in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. In Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, an estimated 2,146 square miles [5,558 km2] have burned. The smoke from these fires also has entered the southern and Midwestern United States prompting local warnings for residents with respiratory conditions to limit their outdoor activities."

"According to NASA, more than 2,000 fires are currently raging in Guatemala. The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City reported on May 19 that the fires are intensifying and are threatening human populations. The "red alert" on air quality declared by the Government of Guatemala (GOG) on May 15 remains in effect. Air quality monitors report that total suspended particulate levels in Guatemala City averaged 600 milligrams per cubic meter during the first two weeks of May, three times the World Health Organization maximum level. Since then, air quality has worsened significantly. According to the Embassy, the GOG's Ministry of Health's local health centers have found significant increases in respiratory ailments. The Ministry of Health says that the most heavily affected areas are Petén, Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, and areas of Huehuetenango and Quiche. In Ixcan, 80% of the population are suffering from respiratory-related ailments, eye irritation, vomiting, and headaches, according to local community leaders."

References. SSEC, 1998, Real-time data, Volcano Watch (the world's ten most active volcanoes); Pacaya volcano, Guatemala: Graduate School, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC), 1225 West Dayton Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706 (URL: http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/data/volcano.html).

U.S. Agency for International Development, 21 May 1998, Fiscal Year (FY) 1998 Situation Report ##2, Mexico and Central America Fires [NAT-DSR:378][OFDA-02]: U.S. Agency for International Development, Bureau for Humanitarian Response (BHR), Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).

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: Eddie Sanchez and Otoniel Matías, Seccion Vulconologia, 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; NOAA/NESDIS Satellite Analysis Branch, Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA; La Nación, San José, Costa Rica; U.S. Agency for International Development, Bureau for Humanitarian Response (BHR), Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA); Tom Fox, Air Navigation Bureau, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), 999 University St., Montreal H3C 5H7, Canada (URL: https://www.icao.int/safety/airnavigation/); Tom Casadevall, U.S. Geological Survey, National Center, Reston, VA 20192.


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — May 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Moderate activity continues, smoke hinders observation

Activity at the start of April showed an increase over that of late March. Small emissions of gas, steam, and light ash along with rockfalls and short harmonic tremors were typical events at Popocatépetl throughout April and May. Smoke from forest fires, mist, and air pollution made direct observation of the volcano difficult for much of both months.

Although not shown as a located A-type event (table 12), on 1 April a gas-and-steam plume was observed rising 500 m above the crater and dispersing to the NE. At 1653 on 2 April seismometers and flow detectors sensed a disturbance that turned out to be a flow of water and debris traveling down NE-flank ravines. The flow was attributed to glacial runoff after days of intensely hot weather. The flow continued for hours and reached points 8 km downstream from the glacier. For 12 hours after this event seismic activity steadily decreased. Only small, short exhalations occurred until 0522 on 3 April when another A-type event occurred.

Table 12. Located A-type events reported at Popocatépetl, April-May 1998. The columns for distance and direction define epicenters with respect to the summit. Data courtesy of CENAPRED.

Date Local Time Magnitude Depth (km) Distance (km) Direction
30 Mar 1998 2122 2.2 4 7.1 SE
01 Apr 1998 0008 2.1 6.1 2 E
01 Apr 1998 1439 2.3 3.2 1.8 NE
02 Apr 1998 0522 2.8 9 2 N
10 Apr 1998 1250 2.1 5 7 SE
10 Apr 1998 1603 2.2 4.2 -- --
11 Apr 1998 1616 2.1 3.3 7 SE
12 Apr 1998 0322 2.4 6.6 8 SE
17 Apr 1998 1525 2.5 4.9 6.5 SE
23 Apr 1998 2116 2.1 5.2 2 E
04 May 1998 1042 2 6.4 0.5 NE
05 May 1998 0256 2.3 4.9 7 SE
25 May 1998 0128 2.2 6.9 6.9 NW
25 May 1998 0202 1.8 4.2 -- --
28 May 1998 0404 2.5 701 10 N

Activity remained low to moderate over the next week. At 0425 of 11 April there occurred a small harmonic tremor of 30-second duration. At 1632 the same day a medium-intensity exhalation was followed by 12 minutes of harmonic tremor. Other exhalations occurred that day at 1912 and 2321, and at 0235 the morning of 12 April, all of which were accompanied by small emissions of gas and steam.

At 1107 on 21 April a large exhalation took place that lasted 5 minutes and produced an ash column 4 km high. Although heavy clouds obstructed visibility, a video image of the ash column showed it clearly (figure 25). Incandescent fragments were ejected producing several grass fires on the upper slopes of the volcano. Vibration of windows in the city of Puebla was reported and some ash fell in both Cholula and La Paz. At 1453 the same day a similar exhalation occurred, but was smaller in magnitude and only 1 minute in duration. The last event possibly emitted ash, but this could not be confirmed because of limited visibility. Activity decreased slightly over the next few days, except for some A-type events. Bad weather engulfed the summit in cloud.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Picture taken at a Popocatépetl video monitor on 21 April showing emitted ash column. Courtesy of CENAPRED.

The broad-band seismometer recently installed at the Canario station (BGVN 22:10), located on the N flank at 4,300 m altitude 2 km from the crater, went out of operation 21 April probably because solar panels were damaged by ejected rocks. This is the second station damaged by volcanic activity this year (the first was the Espinera station, PFM2). Because of the danger of future explosions, an area within 4 km of the crater was deemed of high risk and restricted access.

On 24 April a large exhalation was recorded at 1257. It had a duration of three minutes and probably produced a small ash emission, which because of poor visibility could not be confirmed. At 1031 on 27 April another explosive exhalation occurred. The most intense phase lasted three minutes and was followed by high-frequency tremor that lasted an additional five minutes. It produced a 4-km-high ash column over the summit. Immediately afterwards the volcano returned to previous lower levels of activity. Mild ashfall was expected in the towns located to the E and NE of the volcano.

May began with a slight decrease in activity. Mist and clouds with occasional smoke persisted in obstructing visibility of the mountain. Activity increased slightly on 9 May and included seismic events at 0255 of 2.5 minutes duration, and at 0546 of two minutes duration, possibly due to small emissions of gas, steam, and ash. At 1205 an M 5.2 earthquake occurred on the coast of Guerrero and was recorded by all the stations monitoring the volcano. The event did not affect Popocatépetl.

Isolated low- to medium-intensity exhalations were recorded 10 May. The largest events occurred at 0744 (1.5 minutes duration) and at 0842 (one minute). Both events produced small emissions of gas and steam which rose to 1 km above the crater. Rockfalls were recorded on the N flank of the volcano. At 1322 a moderately large exhalation occurred, followed by four similar but smaller events during the next 5 minutes. Immediately after, one minute of low-frequency harmonic tremor of considerable amplitude was recorded followed by five minutes of high-frequency tremor.

Despite the limited visibility of the volcano at that time, an ash column with gas and steam could be observed rising several kilometers above the crater and was directed by low-speed winds to the NE. The appearance of the column was confirmed by observers viewing from a helicopter in the vicinity of the volcano. These events, due to their explosive nature, ejected solid and incandescent material from the crater over an area of 2-3 km radius. After the episode the volcano returned to previous levels of activity and remained stable for the rest of the day. No reports of damage or ashfall were received.

Beginning at 0426 of 11 May, a high-frequency tremor accompanied a gas-and-steam fumarole which ended with a moderate exhalation at 1505. The afternoon of 12 May at 1755 a column of gas and steam rose 2 km above the summit. The following day, emissions of gas and steam with slight amounts of fine ash generated puffs rising 500-1,000 m above the crater. At 1023 on 15 May three small exhalations mixed with harmonic tremors of low frequency occurred. Other tremor episodes lasting up to five minutes were recorded at 1030 and 1035. At 1043 a medium-intensity exhalation occurred which produced a puff of steam, gas and some light ash, dispersing to the NW. During the rest of the day several similar exhalations were recorded.

On 16 May at 1242 another strong M 5.2 earthquake located on the coast of Guerrero was recorded by all seismic stations at the volcano. This event did not produce any changes in the activity of Popocatépetl. At 1308 a small exhalation occurred accompanied by steam and followed by low-amplitude harmonic tremor lasting 6 minutes. Other short tremor episodes were recorded in the afternoon. During the next few weeks forest fires on the N flank of the volcano close to Tlamacas limited visibility.

The measured SO2 value on 30 March was 5,500 tons/day: on 27 April it was 10,600 tons/day. During the Holocene, Popocatépetl produced both effusive and pyroclastic activity. About 30 eruptions are known since 1345, although early documentation is poor. Most historical eruptions were apparently mild-to-moderate Vulcanian steam and ash emissions, with larger explosive eruptions in 1519 and possibly 1663. Activity in 1920-22 produced intermittent explosive eruptions and a small lava plug in the summit crater. Minor ash clouds were also reported in 1923-24, 1933, 1942-43, and 1947.

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

Information Contacts: Servando de la Cruz-Reyna, Roberto Meli, Roberto Quaas, G. Castelan, F. Castillo-Alanis, J.L. Delgollado, F. Galicia, A. Gómez, A.O. González, G. Juarez M., A. Martínez, A. Montalvo, L. Orozco, and E. Ramos, Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED), Av. Delfin Madrigal 665, Col. Pedregal de Santo Domingo, Coyoacán, CP 04360, México D.F., México.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — May 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Rabaul

Papua New Guinea

4.271°S, 152.203°E; summit elev. 688 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Tripling of volcanic events; ash plumes

During May, the intracaldera cone Tavurvur continued Vulcanian eruptive activity with minor fluctuations. In the first few days of the month there was a sharp increase, from 15 to 200 per day, in the number of low-frequency seismic events related to ash emissions. However, activity soon returned to more normal levels; between the 11th and 18th there were an average 20 events per day.

Most ash plumes contained relatively low to moderate amounts of ash and rose to less than 1,000 m above sea level. Throughout the first week ash plumes were blown to the SE and SW resulting in fine ashfall at the abandoned village of Talwat and in the Kokopo area. For the remainder of the month winds shifted between N and W resulting in ashfall in villages on the W of the caldera and in Rabaul town were it continued to be a nuisance to inhabitants. There were larger explosions with dark-gray ash clouds that rose to 1.5-3.0 km. From 9 May until the end of the month occasional explosions and roaring noises ranging in intensity from weak to loud accompanied the ash emissions. A weak glow was observed above the crater rim throughout the nights of 7 and 8 May, and incandescent lava fragments were ejected during explosions on the 7th.

Activity continued with minor fluctuations from 19 May to the end of the month. The seismic system recorded a total of 3,265 low-frequency volcanic events during May, a significant increase over the 1,064 recorded during April. Five high-frequency events originating outside the caldera were also recorded. Only two of these were located: one W of the caldera on 13 May, and another to the NE on 29 May.

Ground-deformation data showed that the slow on-going inflationary trend associated with the current phase of the eruption temporarily stabilized in early May only to resume again at the end of the month. These data may indicate that Vulcanian activity is likely to continue.

Geologic Background. The low-lying Rabaul caldera on the tip of the Gazelle Peninsula at the NE end of New Britain forms a broad sheltered harbor utilized by what was the island's largest city prior to a major eruption in 1994. The outer flanks of the 688-m-high asymmetrical pyroclastic shield volcano are formed by thick pyroclastic-flow deposits. The 8 x 14 km caldera is widely breached on the east, where its floor is flooded by Blanche Bay and was formed about 1400 years ago. An earlier caldera-forming eruption about 7100 years ago is now considered to have originated from Tavui caldera, offshore to the north. Three small stratovolcanoes lie outside the northern and NE caldera rims. Post-caldera eruptions built basaltic-to-dacitic pyroclastic cones on the caldera floor near the NE and western caldera walls. Several of these, including Vulcan cone, which was formed during a large eruption in 1878, have produced major explosive activity during historical time. A powerful explosive eruption in 1994 occurred simultaneously from Vulcan and Tavurvur volcanoes and forced the temporary abandonment of Rabaul city.

Information Contacts: Ben Talai and H. Patia, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Sabancaya (Peru) — May 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Sabancaya

Peru

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Summit activity, ice observed on visit in May

Sabancaya was observed by scientists of the National Air and Space Museum's Colca Valley Geohazard Project during a four-day visit (18-21 May) made in preparation for field work later in the year. Continuous fumarolic activity at the E side of the crater rim was observed during this visit. Seasonal snow patches were visible on the SE flank that were not present when the team made an aerial observation in July 1997 (BGVN 22:07).

On 18 May a seismic event was noted by observers traveling in a vehicle on the Pampa Lliullipampa, SE of the volcano. The disturbance produced a dust cloud that spanned the entire Ampato-Sabancaya-Hualca Hualca complex along its E slopes, a distance of 15 kilometers. A video camera recorded the disturbance at 1525 on 18 May. Roughly concurrently, scientists at the Instituto Geofísico in Arequipa detected a deep focus M 6 earthquake centered 250 km to the N near Ayacucho. Tremors occurred at this time in the pueblo of Cabana Conde located 15 kilometers NW of Hualca Hualca.

On 20 May A. Seimon of the University of Colorado ascended Sabancaya's SE flank and recorded a video of the fumarolic activity inside the crater rim, including the steady emission of gas from the crater floor (figure 8). He noticed ice along the route up the E flank. The ice lies beneath a layer of ash 5 to 10 cm thick, a depth that seemed sufficient to insulate it from higher surface temperatures. Ice was also observed filling a breach in the N side of the crater rim.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Video frame showing the inside of the S rim of Sabancaya's crater. The fumarole was continuous during the observation period (18-21 May). Snow-covered Nevado Ampato is visible beyond the crater rim. Courtesy of A. Seimon.

Sabancaya is the youngest of the three adjacent stratovolcanoes located 75 km NW of Arequipa. The volcano's 29 May 1990 eruption produced a plume reaching a maximum height of 7 km (BGVN 15:05). The plume traveled NE and carried fine ash that fell up to 20 km away. Extensive mudflows (not mudslides) had occurred in the area in the months after the Sabancaya eruptions that began in late May 1990. These mudflows resulted from fallen ash and the subsequent melting of snow and ice on Hualca Hualca (BGVN 16:05; v. 15, no. 5).

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

Information Contacts: F. Engle, Center for Earth and Planetary Studies (CEPS), National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560 USA; A. Seimon, Department of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0260 USA; S.O. Brooks, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI USA 53706-1491.


Sheveluch (Russia) — May 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Sheveluch

Russia

56.653°N, 161.36°E; summit elev. 3283 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Satellite imagery detects large ash plume

A report of an ash plume 4 km above sea level extending 35 km from Shiveluch was received by the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) via the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and Anchorage VAAC early on 30 May. AVO analysis of various satellite images determined that the eruption began about 1739 on 29 May. A JMA satellite image taken at 1930 that day showed a small, narrow, well-defined ash plume detached from the vent, extending about 100 km downwind to the SSE. Satellite imagery analysis by AVO on the morning of 30 May showed the Shiveluch area clear with no volcanic activity. There was no ash detected in the area SSE of the volcano where the cloud diffused. Three pilot's reports from flights 9 km above sea level over the Shiveluch area on 30 May confirmed there was no ash cloud remaining in the region.

The ash plume did not act like an energetic, high-level eruption plume but rather a low-level short-lived eruption burst from the volcano. These types of eruption bursts are not uncommon from Shiveluch and are connected with the growing extrusive dome inside the crater. The level-of-concern color code was changed to yellow, but reverted to green on 1 June.

Seismicity was at background levels through most of June. During 11-15 June the system registered increased seismicity and volcanic tremor. On June 15 at 0247 it registered about 2 minutes of explosive activity. It was dark and the volcano was obscured by clouds when this explosive activity took place leaving researchers without visual information; they estimated plume height at 5 km.

On 31 May a gas-and-steam plume without ash rose 2 km above the volcano. During 9-11 June a fumarolic plume rose 100-500 m above the volcano, and during 17-19 a plume rose to 200-800 m. Clouds limited visibility throughout much of May.

Geologic Background. The high, isolated massif of Sheveluch volcano (also spelled Shiveluch) rises above the lowlands NNE of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group. The 1300 km3 volcano is one of Kamchatka's largest and most active volcanic structures. The summit of roughly 65,000-year-old Stary Shiveluch is truncated by a broad 9-km-wide late-Pleistocene caldera breached to the south. Many lava domes dot its outer flanks. The Molodoy Shiveluch lava dome complex was constructed during the Holocene within the large horseshoe-shaped caldera; Holocene lava dome extrusion also took place on the flanks of Stary Shiveluch. At least 60 large eruptions have occurred during the Holocene, making it the most vigorous andesitic volcano of the Kuril-Kamchatka arc. Widespread tephra layers from these eruptions have provided valuable time markers for dating volcanic events in Kamchatka. Frequent collapses of dome complexes, most recently in 1964, have produced debris avalanches whose deposits cover much of the floor of the breached caldera.

Information Contacts: Olga Chubarova and Vladimir Kirianov, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia; Tom Miller, Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667, USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA.


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — May 1998 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)


Low activity; deformation and volume measurements

The following condenses scientific reports from Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) for 12 April-10 May 1998.

Summary. Activity during the reporting period continued at low levels: there were no changes in dome morphology and only a few pyroclastic flows occurred. Seismicity was generally low, with occasional volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes being the predominant signals recorded by the seismic network. Rockfall activity was particularly low but showed an increase after heavy rains. Several mudflows were generated during the reporting period, most of them moving down Dyers River into the Belham River valley.

Visual observations. Fresh pyroclastic-flow deposits were seen along the N side of the Tar River Valley on 14 April. A small pyroclastic flow occurred during the morning of 19 April and was seen by the remote video camera at MVO as it traveled down the Tar River as far as the site of the Tar River Estate House. Another small pyroclastic flow coursed down the Tar River on the morning of 25 April, but could not be seen from MVO due to low clouds. Three more small pyroclastic flows traveled halfway down the Tar River Valley during 26 April and the morning of 27 April. All of these flows were believed to have originated on the steep upper flanks to the E of the old dome. Each event lasted 2 minutes and generated small ash clouds.

Rockfall activity was minor with small rockfalls occurring down the E and SW flanks. Some of these events are gradually carving deeper chutes on the Tar River side and S flank of the new Galway's dome. Minor rockfall activity also began near the top of the dome over Galway's wall and traveled down a chute on the S flank of Chances Peak.

During a brief clearing in the weather around the dome early on 6 May observers on a reconnaissance flight saw no evidence of new growth, suggesting a lack of significant extrusion since the growth of the summit spine around 10 March (BGVN 23:04). They did see moderate fumarolic activity coming from a point in the main chute on the upper E flank, and in several areas within the trench located between the scar of 26 December (BGVN 22:12) and the fresh growth within it. They also noted that the summit area appeared blanketed by over 5 m of tephra including both fine ash and blocks of glassy dome rock (up to 1 m diameter).

The temperatures of the pyroclastic flows deposited at Trant's during the 21 September collapse (BGVN 22:10) were measured on 28 April. A maximum temperature of 348°C was obtained at a depth of 2 m. They showed only very minor changes since they were last measured 2 weeks ago.

Seismicity. Over the reporting period, seismicity remained low. Volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquake activity continued to be dominate (table 28). VT earthquakes mainly occurred in groups too few in number to constitute swarms, but exceptions to this are shown in table 29, including a swarm of hybrids on 6 May. These were the first hybrids of high amplitude seen for many weeks, but were not followed by others of similar type.

Table 28. Earthquake counts at Soufriere Hills listed by type (based on signal character), 12 April-9 May 1998. These counts were of events that triggered the broadband network's event-recording system between 0000 and 0000 each day. The type "Dome RF" denotes a dome rockfall. The type "Long-period / Rockfall" signifies a Long-period earthquake followed by rockfall signal. "Hybrid / Rockfall" is a hybrid earthquake followed by rockfall signal. Courtesy of MVO.

Date Volcano-tectonic Hybrid Long-period Dome Rockfall Long-period / Rockfall Hybrid / Rockfall
12 Apr 1998 15 1 -- -- 10 --
13 Apr 1998 15 -- -- -- 6 --
14 Apr 1998 1 -- -- -- -- --
15 Apr 1998 2 1 -- -- -- --
16 Apr 1998 4 -- -- -- -- --
17 Apr 1998 4 -- -- -- -- --
18 Apr 1998 1 -- -- -- -- --
19 Apr 1998 5 -- -- 1 4 1
20 Apr 1998 14 -- -- 2 5 --
21 Apr 1998 8 1 -- -- 1 --
22 Apr 1998 -- -- -- -- 1 --
23 Apr 1998 -- -- -- -- 4 --
24 Apr 1998 1 -- -- 1 4 --
25 Apr 1998 3 1 -- -- 2 --
26 Apr 1998 17 -- -- 1 2 --
27 Apr 1998 7 -- -- -- 2 --
28 Apr 1998 8 -- -- -- 6 --
29 Apr 1998 2 -- -- -- -- --
30 Apr 1998 3 -- -- -- -- --
01 May 1998 7 -- -- -- -- --
02 May 1998 10 -- -- -- 3 --
03 May 1998 2 2 -- -- 7 --
04 May 1998 4 -- -- -- 4 --
05 May 1998 6 2 -- -- 3 --
06 May 1998 5 12 -- -- -- --
07 May 1998 6 -- -- -- -- --
08 May 1998 25 -- -- -- 2 --

Table 29. Swarms registered at Soufriere Hills during 12 April-10 May 1998. Courtesy of MVO.

Date Local Time Duration (minutes) Hybrid Long-period Volcano-tectonic
26 Apr 1998 2247 1.45 0 0 9
06 May 1998 0445 1.40 11 0 --
27 May 1998 2257 5.75 0 0 1
18 May 1998 0841 8.32 0 0 15

Epicenters were located on the E of the volcano at focal depths tightly clustered from 2.5 to 3.5 km below the summit. Fault-plane solutions were calculated using P-wave first-motions detected by the 7 broadband stations along with first motions from the Lee's Yard and Jack Boy Hill stations of the short-period network. The calculated fault-plane solutions are consistent with a strike-slip fault mechanism. The number of recorded rockfall signals was very low. However, in many cases there was a correlation between occurrence of the rockfalls and periods of heavy rainfall.

Ground deformation. With respect to the Harris GPS measuring station, the stations at Dagenham, Old Towne, Lookout Yard, and Windy Hill showed height increases of 5, 5.5, 6, and 4 cm respectively since December 1996. These values are preliminary, as the height component is the least well constrained by GPS. It was judged more likely that the reference at Harris was actually sinking. Height differences between Harris and sites on the E (Long Ground, Tar River and Perches) all showed continued slow movement to the NE of around 7 cm in the last year; Whites and Roches have moved slightly less and in different directions.

A survey from Windy Hill measured the distance to the N crater wall reflector and found it had shortened by only 1 cm since the middle of March. The line to Windy Hill from Harris is stable, as confirmed by repeated measurements since December 1997 that gave site positions lying within a box 3 mm by 7 mm. In contrast, the survey point at Brodericks had shown accelerated movement: 3 cm to the N between November 1997 and January 1998. This coincided with the period of rapid extrusion in the S area of the dome during December, 1997. Subsequently Brodericks appeared to stabilize in its new position.

A new permanent GPS site was installed in the South Soufriere Hills. Telemetry equipment used by the station was installed by the University of Puerto Rico on Antigua and in the Centre Hills.

Volume measurements. A new theodolite site known as Fergus Ridge was set up on the high ridge of the W flank of South Soufriere Hills, to the N of Fergus Mountain, overlooking the White River Valley. Measurements from this site triangulated with measurements from Perches Mountain were obtained on 16 April. In conjunction with the combined photo and GPS data collected on 6 April, a revised total dome volume was calculated to be 113 x 106 m3. This figure differed from the initial estimate of 120 x 106 m3; however, the revised figure incorporated a greater number of theodolite, photo, and GPS points that improved constraints on both the summit area and the new dome on the SW sector of the complex.

Environmental monitoring. Generally, low volcanic activity and the number of rain showers kept aerosol levels low through the reporting period. Extremely wet weather, 14-15 April, produced the lowest aerosol levels since the heavy ash fall at the beginning of February. Rain also prevented the ash produced by the small pyroclastic flow of 19 April from being transported N by wind to any of the sites that were being monitored.

The volcano's small ash output left inhabited N island areas comparatively ash free. Each disturbance of ash by moving vehicles seemed to help the wind and rain remove more ash.

The three pyroclastic flows that occurred on 26-27 April had no effect on the measured levels of airborne ash and dust. On 1 May observers saw a very small venting of ash escape at the top of the Tar River Valley. Scientists working in the SW of the island over the next few days noticed a strong smell of rotten eggs (hydrogen sulfide). Following the hybrid swarm on 6 May dust levels remained low, but aerosol levels doubled. Heavy rain two days later once more reduced levels. Aerosol levels continued low later in this period despite drier weather, except in Salem, an area likely affected by ash blown W from the pyroclastic flows.

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/).


St. Helens (United States) — May 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

St. Helens

United States

46.2°N, 122.18°W; summit elev. 2549 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Sudden rise in earthquake activity in May

The level of earthquake activity at Mount St. Helens had been gradually increasing over the past several months and accelerated during May. Rates of activity increased from an average of ~60 well-located events per month last winter to 165 events in May. Most of the recent earthquakes were very small with only three events larger than M 2. The largest earthquake was on 1 May with M 2.2. These earthquakes occurred in two clusters directly beneath the lava dome in the crater. One cluster was in the range of 2-5 km and the other 7-9 km below the dome. Very few events were located in the very shallow region of 0-2 km below the dome. None of the earthquakes were low-frequency volcanic events that typically occur as precursors to major eruptions.

This increased activity seems to be similar to that which occurred in 1995, although the activity of May 1998 was more energetic. The 1995 activity lasted for several months, had a maximum earthquake rate of 95 events per month, and resulted in no volcanic activity. A similar increase in earthquake activity in the St. Helens system occurred in 1989-91. However, at that time there were also a number of very shallow earthquakes accompanied by a series of sudden steam explosions. These explosions were small eruptions of steam and gas that ejected rocks and ash from cracks in the dome. Rocks were thrown up to 1 km from the dome, ash clouds reached altitudes up to 6 km, and a dusting of ash was deposited locally downwind. Some explosions melted snow in the crater and generated small lahars that flowed N onto the Pumice Plain.

Because increased earthquake activity within the deep St. Helens system may reflect increased pressure at depth, it is possible that the current seismicity may eventually lead to renewed volcanic activity. However, it is unlikely to do so without significant additional precursors.

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

Information Contacts: Cascades Volcano Observatory, U.S. Geological Survey, 5400 MacArthur Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98661 USA (URL: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/); Geophysics Program, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 USA (URL: http://www.geophys.washington.edu/SEIS/PNSN/HELENS/).


Ukinrek Maars (United States) — May 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Ukinrek Maars

United States

57.832°N, 156.51°W; summit elev. 91 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Earthquake swarm decreases in rate and intensity

During the last week of May, the anomalous seismic activity under SW Lake Becharof (BGVN 23:04) continued but at a decreased rate and intensity; magnitudes of 12 located earthquakes ranged from M 1.7 to 3.3. During 1-5 June, 20 earthquakes were located ranging from M 1.8 to 4.3. Activity decreased significantly during 6-12 June; only four earthquakes were located, all M > 3.0. Several overflights of the location by AVO scientists revealed no signs of volcanic activity or surface breakage. The area of seismicity was not monitored by real-time seismic instrumentation; however, a portable seismic instrument has recently been installed. AVO is in communication with local citizens and land managers who frequently overfly the area. There was no evidence of imminent hazard at the site.

Geologic Background. Ukinrek Maars are two explosion craters that were created in an area without previous volcanic activity during a 10-day-long phreatomagmatic eruption March-April 1977. The basaltic maars were erupted through glacial deposits in the Bering Sea lowlands 1.5 km south of Becharof Lake and 12 km west of Peulik volcano; their location is related to the regional Bruin Bay fault. The elliptical West Maar, which was the first to form, is 105 x 170 m wide and 35 m deep. The other maar, 600 m to the east, is 300 m wide and 70 m deep. Both maars are now filled by crater lakes; the eastern lake encircles a 49-m-high lava dome that was emplaced at the end of the eruption. Base surges were directed primarily to the NW. Juvenile material from the Ukinrek eruptions was of mantle-derived olivine basaltic composition. The dacitic Gas Rocks lava domes, of Quaternary age, are located on the shores of Becharof Lake, 3 km north of Ukinrek maars and were the site of a phreatic eruption about 2300 years ago.

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

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/).