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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

All reports of volcanic activity published by the Smithsonian since 1968 are available through a monthly table of contents or by searching for a specific volcano. Until 1975, reports were issued for individual volcanoes as information became available; these have been organized by month for convenience. Later publications were done in a monthly newsletter format. Links go to the profile page for each volcano with the Bulletin tab open.

Information is preliminary at time of publication and subject to change.


Recently Published Bulletin Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Suwanosejima (Japan) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small ash plumes continued during January through June 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Great Sitkin

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small steam explosions in early June 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ibu (Indonesia) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ibu

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ebeko (Russia) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ebeko

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).


Klyuchevskoy (Russia) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Klyuchevskoy

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).


Yasur (Vanuatu) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Yasur

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); The Captain Cook Society (URL: https://www.captaincooksociety.com/home/detail/225-years-ago-july-september-1774); Royal Museums Greenwich (URL: https://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/13383.html); Wikimedia Commons, (URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Landing_at_Tana_one_of_the_New_Hebrides,_by_William_Hodges.jpg); Nick Page, Australia,Flickr: (URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/152585166@N08/).


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

Bagana

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Emily Stanford (Twitter: https://twitter.com/NerdyBatLady, image posted at https://twitter.com/NerdyBatLady/status/1098052063009792001/photo/1).


Ambae (Vanuatu) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambae

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Declining thermal activity and no explosions during February-May 2019

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

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

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

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

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


Sangay (Ecuador) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Sangay

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Kadovar

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Tico Liu, Hong Kong (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tico.liu. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155389178192793&set=pcb.10155389178372793&type=3&theater); Shari Kalt (Instagram user LuxuryTravelAdvisor: https://www.instagram.com/luxurytraveladviser/, https://www.instagram.com/p/BkhalnuHu2j/); Coral Expeditions, Australia (URL: https://www.coralexpeditions.com/, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/coralexpeditions); Philip Stern (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sternph, https://www.facebook.com/sternph/posts/2167501866616908); Brad Scott, GNS Science Volcanologist at GNS Science, New Zealand (Twitter: https://twitter.com/Eruptn); Chaiyasit Saengsirirak, Bangkok, Thailand (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chaiyasit.saengsirirak, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2197513186969355).


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

Sarychev Peak

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Brief ash emission reported on 16 May 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, (FEB RAS IMGG), 693 022 Russia, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, ul. Science 1B (URL: http://imgg.ru/ru); Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team (SVERT), Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Science, Nauki st., 1B, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, 693022 (URL: http://www.imgg.ru/en/, http://www.imgg.ru/ru/svert/reports); Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


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

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Goma, North Kivu, DR Congo (URL: https://www.facebook.com/Observatoire-Volcanologique-de-Goma-OVG-180016145663568/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 23, Number 07 (July 1998)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Arenal (Costa Rica)

Less vigorous eruptions but lava still escaping during July

Batur (Indonesia)

Continuous mild eruptive activity during first week of July

Fournaise, Piton de la (France)

New lava flow traverses 12 km across the E flank

Iwatesan (Japan)

Monthly seismicity increases; volcanic history

Karangetang (Indonesia)

Incandescent material ejected in early July

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Gas and ash emissions relatively quiet during May and June

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Mild activity; a few weak ash emissions in June

Merapi (Indonesia)

Increasing activity culminates in mid-July pyroclastic flows

Papandayan (Indonesia)

Minor phreatic explosions eject mud and gas on 23 June

Poas (Costa Rica)

Noisy degassing continues

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

Ongoing exhalations; mid-August earthquake and 4-5 km ash plume

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Increase in Vulcanian activity during last week of June

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Relatively large pyroclastic flows on 3 July; ash venting

St. Helens (United States)

Earthquakes, but CO2 flux returns to normal

Turrialba (Costa Rica)

Not erupting; seismicity and fumarolic condensate chemistry



Arenal (Costa Rica) — July 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Arenal

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Less vigorous eruptions but lava still escaping during July

Compared to recent months, during July both the number of eruptions and the quantity of material emitted decreased. The lava flow extruded in mid-June descended the NE flank and its front reached 800 m elevation. The lava flow branched at about 1,100 m elevation, forming a NW-trending arm who's front reached 850 m elevation.

Downwind rain samples collected during the dry season (January-April) often were both more acidic and higher in measured anions than those collected in the wetter intervals (figure 86). Although the seismic station was plagued by 10 days with transmission problems, during July the station registered 229 eruptions and 120 hours of tremor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Rainwater sampled downwind of Arenal, 9 January 1997 through 28 July 1998. Samples collected at station Cárava; error on the pH values was estimated at ± 0.05. Courtesy of OVSICORI-LAQAT.

Geologic Background. Conical Volcán Arenal is the youngest stratovolcano in Costa Rica and one of its most active. The 1670-m-high andesitic volcano towers above the eastern shores of Lake Arenal, which has been enlarged by a hydroelectric project. Arenal lies along a volcanic chain that has migrated to the NW from the late-Pleistocene Los Perdidos lava domes through the Pleistocene-to-Holocene Chato volcano, which contains a 500-m-wide, lake-filled summit crater. The earliest known eruptions of Arenal took place about 7000 years ago, and it was active concurrently with Cerro Chato until the activity of Chato ended about 3500 years ago. Growth of Arenal has been characterized by periodic major explosive eruptions at several-hundred-year intervals and periods of lava effusion that armor the cone. An eruptive period that began with a major explosive eruption in 1968 ended in December 2010; continuous explosive activity accompanied by slow lava effusion and the occasional emission of pyroclastic flows characterized the eruption from vents at the summit and on the upper western flank.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, V. Barboza, M. Martinez, E. Duarte, R. Van der Laat, E. Hernández, and T. Marino, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica.


Batur (Indonesia) — July 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Batur

Indonesia

8.242°S, 115.375°E; summit elev. 1717 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuous mild eruptive activity during first week of July

During the first week of July, Batur continuously emitted a gray plume 25-300 m above the crater. Observers saw incandescent material frequently ejected. Two episodes of tremor with amplitudes of 0.3-24 mm were recorded.

Geologic Background. The historically active Batur is located at the center of two concentric calderas NW of Agung volcano. The outer 10 x 13.5 km wide caldera was formed during eruption of the Bali (or Ubud) Ignimbrite about 29,300 years ago and now contains a caldera lake on its SE side, opposite the satellitic Gunung Abang cone, the topographic high of the complex. The inner 6.4 x 9.4 km wide caldera was formed about 20,150 years ago during eruption of the Gunungkawi Ignimbrite. The SE wall of the inner caldera lies beneath Lake Batur; Batur cone has been constructed within the inner caldera to a height above the outer caldera rim. The Batur stratovolcano has produced vents over much of the inner caldera, but a NE-SW fissure system has localized the Batur I, II, and III craters along the summit ridge. Historical eruptions have been characterized by mild-to-moderate explosive activity sometimes accompanied by lava emission. Basaltic lava flows from both summit and flank vents have reached the caldera floor and the shores of Lake Batur in historical time.

Information Contacts: Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Diponegoro No.57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/).


Piton de la Fournaise (France) — July 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Piton de la Fournaise

France

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New lava flow traverses 12 km across the E flank

The eruption that began in March (BGVN 23:03) continued in August. A new lava flow crossed the Plaine des Osmondes and went down the E flank towards the sea. As of 31 July its front had reached 250 m from the new national road. By 3 August it had slowly progressed to within 100 m of the road. On 4 August the front moved forward suddenly; within a few hours it had crossed the old national road and stopped ~3 m in front of the new national road. No new movement of the lava flow was observed during the next week. The flow had reached a total length of 12 km. Some small but new lava flows were visible in the upper part of the Grand Brûlé. Tremor episodes had diminished in the past few months, but beginning on 6 August there was a sudden tenfold increase over levels of the preceding weeks. The increased activity persisted the following week.

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

Information Contacts: Thomas Staudacher, Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF), 14 RN3, le 27Km, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France.


Iwatesan (Japan) — July 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Iwatesan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Monthly seismicity increases; volcanic history

A pattern of high seismicity but low deformation that began at Iwate in March (BGVN 23:04) continued through June and July. The following also discusses Iwate's history (as reported to JMA and Tohoku University), and details of recent hazards.

Seismicity. According to reports issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), monthly totals of volcanic earthquake events recorded at the Matsukawa observation site of Tohoku University increased progressively: 424 in March, 764 in April, 1,283 in May, and 1,806 in June. Seismicity during 1-17 July totalled 1,116 events (figure 2).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Numbers of earthquakes and tremors at Iwate recorded at the Matsukawa observation site at Tohoku University, 1-17 July 1998. Data courtesy of JMA.

Low-frequency earthquakes occurred at 2124 on 23 June, and 0915 and 1037 on 24 June. A few minutes of volcanic tremor was observed at 0519 and 0701 on 24 June, and at 0754 on 25 June. Earthquake swarms below Nishi-Iwate continued to increase. (The place names Nishi- and Higashi-Iwate refer to West- and East-Iwate, respectively.) Further tremor took place at 1005 and 1642 on 27 June, and 1741 and 1759 on 28 June. Sixteen low-frequency earthquakes took place between the latter two events. Researchers at Tohoku University located these earthquakes at ~2 km SE of the summit of Higashi-Iwate at a depth of 8 km below sea level. This was close to where GPS surveys found a pressure source for crustal deformation. A swarm of low-frequency earthquake and tremor events occurred here in 1995, and it is just S of the craters of the 1732 (Yakebashiri) lava flow. Epicenters of high-frequency earthquakes were also located beneath Nishi-Iwate.

On the morning of 10 July, felt earthquakes occurred W of Iwate Volcano. Four minutes of large-amplitude tremor began at 0829 followed by a volcanic earthquake of M 2.5 at 0831. No surface phenomena were reported. Epicenters for seven earthquakes that morning were located at 3-5 km depth about 5 km west of Nishi-Iwate.

Epicenters of volcanic earthquake swarms under Nishi-Iwate migrated gradually to the W during May-June. New events occurred to the W of the swarms in July. Recent GPS measurements indicated that the source of deformation was located W of Iwate, in an area where no activity had occurred during the past 30,000 years. Although the degree of movement at stations remote from the volcano had become smaller since May, movement at stations closer to the volcano continued. Researchers believe that the source of deformation approached the surface, but they did not determine its depth.

Deformation surveys. Strain and tiltmeters at observation sites recorded little change since March. According to a field survey during 16-18 June, a fumarolic area in Nishi-Iwate seems to have been more active recently, since the fumarole temperature had increased. GPS surveys showed a steady and continuous lengthening between S and N sites of the volcano: a baseline of 9 km underwent a 5-cm extension in the last 5 months. Based on these results, volcanologists suspected a W-E dike intrusion at around 10 km below the summit of Higashi-Iwate, as opposed to just below Nishi-Iwate as indicated by earthquake swarms.

A geodetic measurement team from five Japanese national universities started a leveling survey at the E and S bases of Iwate Volcano on 17 July. The survey lines cover 19 km N-S and 15 km E-W.

History. Based on his recent field survey, Nobuo Doi, a geologist with Geothermal Engineering Co. Ltd., summarized Iwate's eruptive history. He concluded that Iwate began ~700,000 years ago. After the formation of a large cone (Nishi-Iwate), the eruption center migrated eastwards to Higashi-Iwate. Iwate collapsed to form debris avalanches seven times in the past 230,000 years; the most recent collapse took place sometime during the interval 915-1686 CE.

During a large collapse ~6,000 years ago, a mass of debris rushed NE but subsequent topographic constraints redirected debris SSE. The debris followed the Kitakami River reaching the present site of Morioka City (population 235,000). The episode left a large scar open to the NE on Higashi-Iwate's summit.

The present peak of Higashi-Iwate grew within this scar but it left part of the scar visible on its W side. During the last 6,000 years, magmatic eruptions occurred frequently; scoria eruptions have occurred more than 11 times. Lavas and pyroclastics younger than 6,000 years occur in the NE sector of Higashi-Iwate.

The 1686-87 CE eruption started with a pyroclastic surge; this was followed by scoria emission, a mudflow, a second pyroclastic surge, and it ended with a phreatic phase. In 1732, basaltic andesite lava flowed 2.5 km. Small explosions took place during 1934-35.

At Nishi-Iwate more than four phreatic eruptions have occurred in the past 7,500 years. The latest eruption here was phreatic and took place at O-Jigokudani ("large valley of hell") in 1919; an associated mudflow descended NNW.

Hazards. Authorities in two towns and villages near Iwate closed the mountain to climbers on 26 June because of the likelihood of phreatic explosions at Nishi-Iwate.

According to a local newspaper (Iwate Nippo), a new hazard map was expected to be ready for distribution on 22 July, incorporating aspects of volcanology, disaster-protection, and Sabo engineering. The scenario assumes a phreatic eruption on the W side, perhaps as large as one at Nishi-Iwate that occurred 3,200 years ago. The presumed disaster areas would be subjected to both ashfalls and lahars. A theoretical 10-cm-thick ash deposit would occur in resort areas N and S of the volcano extending to 5 km from the possible eruption site, but the researchers postulated a lack of serious damage to buildings.

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

Information Contacts: Nishide Noritake, Volcanological Division, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/); Volcano Research Center, Earthquake Research Institute (ERI), University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan; Nobuo Doi, Geothermal Engineering Co. Ltd., Japan.


Karangetang (Indonesia) — July 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Incandescent material ejected in early July

During early July observers noted incandescent materials at night. They also saw a plume emitted from the main crater rising to 25-50 m in height. Around this time, seismic events occurred less often compared to previous weeks.

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

Information Contacts: Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Diponegoro No.57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/).


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — July 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Langila

Papua New Guinea

5.525°S, 148.42°E; summit elev. 1330 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Gas and ash emissions relatively quiet during May and June

Langila remained comparatively quiet during May and June. Direct radio communication to RVO had been a persistent problem, but reports were relayed by ships operating in the area.

Crater 2 continued weak-to-moderate emissions of white vapor during both months. During 9, 13, 17, and 19-21 May a blue vapor accompanied the usual white vapor. Occasional gray ash emissions were observed on 10 May, and 16, 22-24, 27, 29-30 June. Weak glow from the crater was seen on the nights of 2 and 3 May, and 16 and 29 June.

Crater 3 only released weak white fumarolic vapors. The seismograph remained non-operational during May and June.

Geologic Background. Langila, one of the most active volcanoes of New Britain, consists of a group of four small overlapping composite basaltic-andesitic cones on the lower eastern flank of the extinct Talawe volcano. Talawe is the highest volcano in the Cape Gloucester area of NW New Britain. A rectangular, 2.5-km-long crater is breached widely to the SE; Langila volcano was constructed NE of the breached crater of Talawe. An extensive lava field reaches the coast on the north and NE sides of Langila. Frequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded since the 19th century from three active craters at the summit of Langila. The youngest and smallest crater (no. 3 crater) was formed in 1960 and has a diameter of 150 m.

Information Contacts: Ben Talai, RVO.


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — July 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)


Mild activity; a few weak ash emissions in June

Mild activity prevailed at Manam in June. Both Main and South craters continued to emit weak-to-moderately thick white vapor throughout the month. However, Southern Crater's emission was briefly punctuated by a weak projection of ash at 1900 on 26 June that rose 600 m above the summit. Main Crater also showed glimpses of increased activity with weak emissions of ash on 29 and 30 June. No glow was visible at night from either crater.

Seismicity remained low: 820-1,400 daily low-frequency events of very low amplitudes. The water-tube tiltmeters at Tabele Observatory (4 km SW of the summit) showed an inflation of 1 µrad during 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, RVO.


Merapi (Indonesia) — July 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Merapi

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increasing activity culminates in mid-July pyroclastic flows

Seismic activity and avalanches increased significantly at Merapi beginning in June, and reached a climax in mid-July. According to Xinhua News Agency reports, pyroclastic flows and ashfall near populated areas caused concern among Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI) scientists and civil authorities; evacuations were considered. VSI ranks alert status as follows, in increasing level of concern: Normal, Waspada, Siap, and Awas.

Increasing eruptive activity during the last week of June prompted officials to increase the alert level to Waspada on 2 July. As activity progressed to more dangerous levels, the alert status increased to Siaga at 0500 on 8 July, eventually reaching Awas at 0438 on 11 July, before returning to Siaga at 1200 on 12 July. A solfatara plume was observed during late June and early July; gases escaped with varying pressure to form a thin (or sometimes thick) white cloud attaining maximum heights of 1,400 m above the summit in the first week of July, and 2,000 m by 11 July. Avalanches extending as long as 1.5 km coursed through the upper portions of the Senowo river, and others were seen in the Lamat, Krasak/Bebeng and Boyong rivers (figure 18). Glowing at the summit resumed in late June. During the reporting interval seismic activity showed a significant increase; specifically, the number of shallow volcanic (B-type), multi-phase (MP), low-frequency (LF), and rockfall events increased sharply (table 9).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Contour map of Merapi's southern segment indicating locations referred to in the text. Courtesy of Merapi Volcano Observatory.

Table 9. The number of daily seismic events of various types at Merapi as recorded from mid-June to mid-July 1998. Data courtesy of VSI's Merapi Volcano Observatory.

Dates B-type Low-frequency Multiphase Rockfalls Tremor Tectonic
15 Jun-21 Jun 1998 4 -- 33 5 -- 4
22 Jun-28 Jun 1998 3 -- 45 15 -- 3
29 Jun-06 Jul 1998 47 3 925 142 -- 5
07 Jul-12 Jul 1998 21 1 2029 613 -- 2
17 Jul-21 Jul 1998 19 2 605 860 2 1

The amount of measured deformation also increased (although the summit tiltmeter station was rendered inoperative after 8 July). Explosions on 11 July could be heard as far away as 20 km S in the city of Yogyakarta. VSI noted, "lava was seen ejecting from the crater." In addition, and presumably with undue exaggeration, Xinhua news reporters claimed that some areas near the volcano were under 1.5 m of ash that blanketed crops and plantations.

On 19 July, Babadan Observatory located 4 km W of the summit reported three 'guguran' (pyroclastic flows resulting from dome collapse in the crater). These occurred between midnight and 0600, some reaching as far as 2,500 m down the Lamat River. VSI also noted a "thick white solfataric ash plume"; it stood 50 m in height and was observed from Kaliurang beginning at 0545. Pyroclastic flows during the remaining morning ran 5,000 m down the Lamat River valley, and an eruptive column rose up to 4,500 m above the summit. Between 0600 and 1313, seismic stations recorded 347 multiphase (MP) events. Tremor occurred between 1325 and 1503 and was accompanied by five pyroclastic flows that reached 2,000-5,000 m from the summit. At 1330 VSI ordered workers on the W sector of the volcano to leave the area. At 1501 Merapi erupted violently; several pyroclastic flows traveled 5,500 m down Lamat River and an eruptive column rose up to 6,000 m above the summit by 1507. At about 1615 ash showered the W side of the volcano, accumulating up to 2 mm in Muntilan. Ash also fell in Purworejo (42 km W of Yogyakarta) and Temanggung (35 km NW of the crater). Shallow volcanic earthquakes at 1625 were followed by small tremor. As many as 25 pyroclastic flows continued until 1800, some causing ash showers in nearby villages. There were B-type events (16), MP events ( 399 ), pyroclastic flows (119), and some glowing rockfalls throughout the afternoon.

Activity had subsided by 21 June, although fog obscured the summit area. Thick white ash rose to 460 m. Glowing rockfalls sometimes ran 1,250 m down the Lamat River valley.

This hazardous stratovolcano is located 70 km SE of Dieng and immediately N of Yogyakarta, a city of half a million people. In 32 of its 67 historical eruptions, nuées ardentes took place-more than known at any other volcano in the world-and 11 of them have caused fatalities. The volcano is carefully watched by several VSI observatories and heavily monitored instrumentally.

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

Information Contacts: Mas Atje Purbawinata, Director, Merapi Volcano Observatory, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Cendana 15 Yogyakarta 55166 (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Xinhua News Agency, 5 Sharp Street West, Wanchai, Hong Kong.


Papandayan (Indonesia) — July 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Papandayan

Indonesia

7.32°S, 107.73°E; summit elev. 2665 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Minor phreatic explosions eject mud and gas on 23 June

The normal seismic activity of about ten events per day increased significantly after 20 June. Deep and shallow seismic events with large amplitudes were recorded during the last week of June and first few days of July. The increase also included events with low amplitude and long duration corresponding to gas emission from Emas Crater. Small phreatic explosions ejected gas and mud from fumarolic vents on 23 June, lofting material up to 5 m above the crater. A white plume under moderate pressure reached heights of 10-100 m in the first week of July. After 20 June there was an increased amount of A-type seismicity, but B-type, tectonic, and emission earthquakes changed little or decreased (table 1). Tremors and felt shocks began to be recorded at this time.

Table 1. Daily seismic events at Papandayan in late June and early July 1998. Data courtesy of VSI.

Date Volcanic A Volcanic B Tectonic Emission Tremor Felt Shock
22 Jun-29 Jun 1998 26 80 36 162 -- --
30 Jun-05 Jul 1998 83 39 39 15 11 1

The Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI) installed four telemetric seismographs and eight temporary data-loggers around Papandayan. On 3 July they installed an infrasonic microphone on the crater to monitor the eruption.

Geologic Background. Papandayan is a complex stratovolcano with four large summit craters, the youngest of which was breached to the NE by collapse during a brief eruption in 1772 and contains active fumarole fields. The broad 1.1-km-wide, flat-floored Alun-Alun crater truncates the summit of Papandayan, and Gunung Puntang to the north gives a twin-peaked appearance. Several episodes of collapse have created an irregular profile and produced debris avalanches that have impacted lowland areas. A sulfur-encrusted fumarole field occupies historically active Kawah Mas ("Golden Crater"). After its first historical eruption in 1772, in which collapse of the NE flank produced a catastrophic debris avalanche that destroyed 40 villages and killed nearly 3000 people, only small phreatic eruptions had occurred prior to an explosive eruption that began in November 2002.

Information Contacts: Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Diponegoro No.57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/).


Poas (Costa Rica) — July 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Poas

Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Noisy degassing continues

During July, the turquoise-green crater lake at Poás had a temperature of 34°C. This temperature is close to those of the recent past, although during 1993-98 the lake's temperature varied significantly, from 25°C to 70°C. Between February and July 1998 the crater lake's surface dropped 1.6 m. As late as 30 July the lake's volume was 1.3 x 106 m3. Gases noisily escaping from the pyroclastic cone (the dominant fumarolic area), formed columns reaching 500 and 600 m in height. Fumaroles on the S flank had measured temperatures of 92°C; those on the N terrace, 93°C; and those on the lake's S and SW shores, up to 94°C.

Changes in pH, Cl, and SO4 have been measured during the past 5 years. During 1993-94 the active crater lake's pH values were near 0; during 1996 they shifted upwards, and since then pH values have remained between 1 and 2. As recently as July 1998, the trends in pH, Cl, and SO4 have remained relatively consistent and followed the moderately constrained paths established during the past several years.

Since last reported on (BGVN 23:03), seismicity decreased several-fold. February established the monthly high for 1998 for both low- and medium-frequency earthquakes (2,718 and 75 events, respectively) and tremor duration (55 hours). During June and July, respectively, low-frequency earthquakes occurred 704 and 861 times; medium-frequency earthquakes took place seven times and one time; and tremor lasted for 2 and 3.5 hours.

Geologic Background. The broad, well-vegetated edifice of Poás, one of the most active volcanoes of Costa Rica, contains three craters along a N-S line. The frequently visited multi-hued summit crater lakes of the basaltic-to-dacitic volcano, which is one of Costa Rica's most prominent natural landmarks, are easily accessible by vehicle from the nearby capital city of San José. A N-S-trending fissure cutting the 2708-m-high complex stratovolcano extends to the lower northern flank, where it has produced the Congo stratovolcano and several lake-filled maars. The southernmost of the two summit crater lakes, Botos, is cold and clear and last erupted about 7500 years ago. The more prominent geothermally heated northern lake, Laguna Caliente, is one of the world's most acidic natural lakes, with a pH of near zero. It has been the site of frequent phreatic and phreatomagmatic eruptions since the first historical eruption was reported in 1828. Eruptions often include geyser-like ejections of crater-lake water.

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, V. Barboza, M. Martinez, E. Duarte, R. Van der Laat, E. Hernández, and T. Marino, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA).


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — July 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing exhalations; mid-August earthquake and 4-5 km ash plume

During July 1998 Popocatépetl issued sporadic minor-to-moderate exhalations, steam plumes, and occasional minor ash. The daily log for July posted on the Internet by CENAPRED (see below) shows that activity was very similar to that reported for June (BGVN 23:06). That report also discussed the discovery of a defective calibration cell in a spectrometer used to measure SO2 at the volcano. Fortunately, the required corrections needed only to be made for low SO2 flux conditions. Although some of these uncorrected low fluxes may have been cited in previous Bulletin reports, the volcano has typically produced high SO2 fluxes.

Summary of daily activity during July. These observations and hazards were posted on the CENAPRED web site. Some of the original text has been edited.

1 July: Activity remained stable with a tendency to decrease. The number of exhalations decreased slightly; they were of low-to-moderate intensity and sometimes accompanied by steam and gases. In the morning a small plume blew SW. The recommended minimum approach distance was 4 km from the crater and the hazard status remained yellow.

2 July: Activity remained stable. The number of exhalations decreased; all of low to moderate intensity, some were accompanied by steam and gases.

3 July: Bad weather and clouds limited visibility.

4-5 July: Short exhalations of low-to-moderate intensity; some accompanied by steam and gases.

6 July: Except some isolated low intensity exhalations, the activity remained stable and at low levels. In the morning a small steam-and-gas plume blew SW.

7 July: Seismicity remained low and only small isolated exhalations were recorded. Small steam-and-gas plume.

8 July: Generally low activity. Seismic signals indicated that only a few, moderate exhalations took place. In the morning a gas and steam plume rose ~700 m above the crater and then dispersed .

9-11 July: Intense cloudiness and bad weather.

12 July: Low activity. Small and isolated exhalations, some accompanied by light steam-and-gas puffs. A small steam-and-gas plume was observed all day, blown W.

13 July: Activity increased slightly in the morning at 0931. A moderate exhalation produced a small but persistent ash emission directed to the W. Emissions and tremor continued until 0950.

14 July: Stable, low activity. Small gas plume blew W.

15 July: A few moderate exhalations were recorded seismically and were accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Some signals indicated rockfalls. In the morning only a small gas plume blew W .

16 July: Low seismicity and some fumarolic activity prevailed. Bad weather obstructed visibility.

17 July: Although cloudiness obscured the volcano most of the day, in the morning a steam-and-gas plume blew W.

18-21 July: In the morning on each day a dense steam-and-gas plume blew W.

22 July: Seismic signals revealed isolated, short exhalations; some contained ash. The latter was seen in the morning at 0743. The ash produced was light; it rose up to ~1 km above the summit and rapidly dispersed SW.

23-28 July: Seismic signals indicated isolated, short exhalations; some were accompanied by gas and steam. In the morning a dense steam plume blew W.

29-31 July: Activity remained stable and, in general, at low levels. Bad weather obstructed visibility.

Activity during 13-14 August. Servando De la Cruz-Reyna provided this description of a mid-August earthquake followed the next day by an eruptive outburst. At 1447 on 13 August a M 3.9 volcano-tectonic earthquake took place at a depth of ~12 km beneath the central part of the volcano (~6.5 km below sea level). During the earthquake, several tiltmeter stations recorded a step-like down-going displacement. Two smaller earthquakes occurred at various depths beneath the edifice that day. That night some low-amplitude, harmonic tremor signals were detected between 2200 and 2400; afterwards seismicity declined.

At 1850 on 14 August a moderate ash emission lasting about 15 minutes produced a column that rose to about 4-5 km over the summit. A low velocity wind (10 km/hour) distributed very light ash falls on some towns in the NW sector of the volcano about two hours later. On August 16, at 2149, a similar event produced a 2-3 km high column over the summit. The pattern of light ashfall repeated. Afterwards, Popocatepetl volcano returned to the previous low-level of activity prevailing since May 1998.

Technology versus rumors. Besides a rapidly growing web site and a broad network of seismic and tilt stations, CENAPRED has also adopted other innovative approaches. For example, a near real-time image of the N summit area is transmitted via microwave linkage and can be viewed on the CENAPRED web site at two resolutions. An infrared camera discloses thermal signatures of erupting plumes.

Still, despite these advances in monitoring technology and communication, during mid-1998 members of the lay public became increasingly concerned about rumors of doomsday scenarios involving Popocatépetl, some of which were broadcast via the media. In response, in June 1998 Roberto Meli, the Director General of CENAPRED, posted an informative note on their web site. He addressed the rumors and explained that there was an absence of scientific evidence for substantive changes in the volcano's behavior in the near future.

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-Reyna1,2, Roberto Quaas1,2 Carlos Valdés G.2, and Alicia Martinez Bringas1; 1Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED) Delfin Madrigal 665, Col. Pedregal de Santo Domingo,Coyoacan, 04360, México D.F. (URL: https://www.gob.mx/cenapred/); 2Instituto de Geofisica, UNAM, Coyoacán 04510, México D.F., México.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — July 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)


Increase in Vulcanian activity during last week of June

Low-level Vulcanian eruptive activity continued at Tavurvur in June but increased somewhat during the last week of the month. During the first three weeks of June the volcano emitted small pale-gray clouds with a low ash content that rose 600-1,000 m above sea level. These emissions were usually accompanied by weak (or sometimes loud) roaring and rumbling sounds and caused light ashfalls in all but the E areas of Rabaul Town. The activity was consistent during these weeks but was interrupted by two moderately loud explosions heard at 1943 on 5 June and at 0306 on 9 June. Both explosions produced thick dark-gray ash columns rising to 3,000 m above sea level accompanied by glowing lava fragments.

The style of eruption changed in the last week of June. Beginning on 24 June, ash emissions became very small in volume but were extended over longer intervals. This period of relative quiet was followed by four weak explosions on 25-26 June that produced ash columns rising to 1,500 m. This activity persisted: dense ash-producing explosions occurred at 0408 on 27 June, 0403 on 28 June, and at 0355 and 1825 on 30 June. Ash clouds resulting from the explosions rose to 3,000 m and glowing lava fragments showered the flanks and base of Tavurvur cone.

Seismic activity was low in June according to data recorded about 2 km from Tavurvur's summit (at station KPTH). During the month a total of 1,029 low-frequency events were recorded, a significant decrease compared to 3,265 in May. Most of these events were recorded during the first three weeks of the month with an average of ~46 per day. At the end of the month daily totals decreased to only two per day. On some days throughout June, periods of short-duration tremor were recorded. Only three high-frequency earthquakes were recorded, but they were too small to be located. The sequence of arrivals at the recording stations suggested the events occurred outside the caldera.

Ground deformation data showed that the recovery (inflationary) trend observed in late May continued through June. For June, an accumulation of ~6 µrads inflation was recorded by the Sulphur Creek water tube tiltmeter, located 3.5 km NW of Tavurvur.

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

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


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — July 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)


Relatively large pyroclastic flows on 3 July; ash venting

On 3 July, after several months of reduced activity, a 2.5-hour sequence of large pyroclastic flows took place at Soufriere Hills. Ash clouds reached heights of 9-12 km before drifting N and depositing fine ash over the inhabited part of the island. New deposits extended the Tar River delta significantly, adding ~0.25 km2 to its area, but not extending it seaward. Winds carried the cloud N, disturbing previously unaffected houses in the Long Ground area. The new materials were typical block-and-ash deposits, associated with fine surge deposits and ash-cloud deposits.

The 3 July pyroclastic flows marked the first major event at Soufriere Hills since dome growth ended in mid-March (BGVN 23:04). The dome had reached a volume of 120 x 106 m3 (the maximum observed throughout the eruption) and a summit height of 1,031 m. The minor pyroclastic flows of previous months (BGVN 23:04 and 23:05) were consistent with mechanical collapse of the very large and unstable dome and were therefore of no great significance. Given the duration of low levels of activity, it was conjectured that the current volcanic crisis might be waning, with important implications for the residents of the island and its administration. Because the 3 July pyroclastic flows apparently represented a re-escalation of activity, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) has examined the events and deposits to investigate their significance.

Precursor events. There were no obvious precursors to the eruption. However, possibly related factors included a felt earthquake at 1704 on 25 June centered under Barbuda, and a series of small-to-moderate pyroclastic flows commencing at 1229 on 30 June and lasting 30-40 minutes. It may be significant that the events of 3 July coincided with the passage of a tropical wave, a period of bad weather and heavy rain.

Observations. Abrupt onset of activity was detected by the MVO seismic network at 0302 on 3 July, so opportunities for visual observations were limited. During the first half hour, there were reports from several localities in the W and N of the island of 'stones' and ash falling. At 0400 NOAA satellites detected a large ash column reaching altitudes of 9-12 km moving ENE. As a result of wind shear, the lower part of the plume was blown NW, which resulted in significant ashfall over the N of the island. Light ashfall was also recorded on Nevis and St. Kitts.

At 0422 an observer at Jack Boy Hill reported pyroclastic flows descending the Tar River valley, with abundant lightning and with an ash cloud drifting and rising over the center of the island. Reporters on the W of the island recorded heavy ashfall in the Belham Valley (figure 41), at Salem, and at Woodlands. Thunder and lightning were observed at the front of the ash plume as it headed W over the sea. At 0450 pyroclastic flows were observed at the Tar River delta; the deposits were steaming strongly at 0518. Winds from the S deposited 0.5-1 mm of ash over the entire N end of the island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Map of the southern part of Montserrat indicating some areas referred to in the text. Courtesy of MVO.

Although residents reported falling 'stones,' examination of the deposits revealed no pumice clasts. A maximum 2-mm-thick layer of fine ash was recorded in Salem with lithics and crystals up to 3 mm in size from MVO to the S. Most of the ash fell as accretionary lapilli all over the island, reaching diameters of up to 4 mm. These large lapilli may account for the reports of 'stones'. Heavy rain following the event precluded detailed studies of the deposits.

A helicopter flight at 0700 confirmed that pyroclastic flows had reached the Tar River delta and entered the sea. In the upper Tar River valley, flows were channeled down its S side; lower down they spread out over both sides of the valley. The N slopes of Roche's Mountain and Perche's Estate were eroded and there were indications that small amounts of material, including some ballistics, had overtopped the ridge causing impact scars on steep slopes and starting small fires. Surges associated with the passage of the pyroclastic flow left significant deposits of fine ash in the area of the Tar River estate house, and for the first time since the onset of the crisis the southern parts of Long Ground village were affected. Trees and shrubs were scorched, but no houses caught fire, nor was there any evidence of high velocities associated with the surges. Surge deposits extended to about 400 m N of the Tar River delta.

Small rockfall deposits were observed on the White River flanks of the dome, but there was no activity in Tuitt's, Mosquito, or Tyer's ghauts. Ash continued to drift W during the morning. A smaller event at about 1407 produced a dark cloud about 3 km high, depositing further ash on the Woodlands, Salem, Old Towne, and Olveston areas, but not farther N. This may have been a weak explosion or a small pyroclastic flow. A further 1 mm of fine ash accumulated in the Woodlands and Salem areas.

An observation flight at 1500 on 3 July revealed a large scar on the SE flanks of the dome, with chutes leading down against the N scarp of Perche's mountain and the S edge of the Tar River valley. A large volume had been lost from the dome (later estimated visually to be 15% of total dome volume). The prominent 50-m-high spine at Galway's dome was not visible due to steam and ash in the summit region, but craggy peaks were observed on the S and NE rims of the scar left by the collapse event. There was no evidence of changes on the other flanks of the dome. Strong fumarolic activity was observed along a clearly defined NE-trending, linear fracture 50-100 m in length within the new scar. Several distinct vents along this fracture gave off white steam; one appeared to be tinged with yellow elemental sulfur. To the W of this a dark mass was intermittently visible through the steam: its dark color may have resulted from steam condensation.

An observation flight on 10 July in clear conditions showed that the collapse scar had the shape of an extremely steep sided, long canyon extending deep back into the dome: it was not possible to determine its westernmost limit, but it must have cut through most of the dome. There was no evidence of renewed dome growth.

Associated seismicity. Beginning at 1229 on 30 June signals indicating a moderate-sized pyroclastic flow lasted ~40 minutes. After this event daily rockfall signals increased from an average of 2/day for June (including 11 on 30 June) continuing with 13 and 8 signal on 1 and 2 July.

On 3 July another, much larger pyroclastic-flow signal started at 0302 and lasted ~2.5 hours. The maximum amplitude of this signal was attained immediately after the onset and lasted for 30 seconds. It was greater than that for the flow on 30 June and several times greater than the last big flows down the Tar River valley in May 1997 (BGVN 22:05).

Spectral analysis of the high amplitude signal at the onset suggests that it was not generated by an explosive event similar to those seen during August and September 1997 (BGVN 22:08). It has been suggested, however, that a phreatic explosion may have been involved.

Deposits. New block-and-ash deposits from the 3 July event covered the entire Tar River delta, and new surge deposits extended over the N of the valley into Long Ground (figure 42). Comparisons between aerial photos of the deposit taken on 24 June, 3, 4, and 6 July show a significant increase in area on the N and S of the delta, but no significant increase in the E. The N side of the delta may have extended by up to 250 m; the S side, by only 30-50 m. The maximum width of the delta (along its base) is now ~1.9 km, tapering to 1 km seaward, extending 700 m off shore. This indicates a total area for the delta of 1 km2, an increase of about 0.25 km2.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Diagramatic map showing the deposits produced by the 3 July 1998 dome collapse and some vertical sections of the delta. North is to the right; heavy solid line is pre-eruption shoreline. Stratigraphic abbreviations are as follows: "BAF," block-and-ash flow; "Accr. ash," the layer of ash rich in accretionary structures probably produced by a secondary explosion when the hot mobile material reached the sea; "Alter." (in section 5), the red alteration probably due to interaction with the sea; and "Ground surge," the often reverse-graded layer of very fine ash found at the base of the block-and-ash flow. The white area on the fan corresponded to old block-and-ash flow deposits. Courtesy of MVO.

An observation flight on 3 July showed intense white and brownish steaming on the N delta and much weaker white steaming on the S. A number of different lobes of various tones and textures were interpreted as successive pulses from different parts of the dome. Overall, the S area appeared light gray and the N appeared brownish.

Deposits along the beach lines of the delta were later visited. Dry material was extremely hot, steaming from small vents locally. The upper layers consisted of very fine grained, dusty surge deposits reaching up to ~0.5 m in thickness, lacking large clasts. This material was very mobile and small jets fountained when disturbed for sampling. Bubbling mud/ash vents up to 0.4 m in diameter were also distributed irregularly over the front of the delta. Underlying the fine surge deposits was a typical block-and-ash deposit of indeterminate thickness, with clasts typically of a few centimeters diameter, though some meter-sized boulders were visible on the surface of the deposit nearby.

Sampling carried out on the delta showed a prevalence of blocks from the dome, associated with a small proportion of pumices of varying density and vessiculation. A few blocks exhibiting bread-crust structure were found in the S delta. The differences in color seen from the air were conspicuous on the ground. The N part appears much finer than the S.

Hydrothermal alteration was observed in both areas. The top of the surge deposit showed some evidence of alteration, forming a slightly more resistant crust, perhaps as a result of steam from below. In the S this alteration crust is much harder. Part of this alteration is the result of a post-depositional process (as evidenced by yellow, white, and red staining on the surface); part may be due to pre-depositional processes, evidenced by individual discolored blocks of different size located on non-altered areas.

Exploratory sections made on 9 July through the delta deposit showed that the S area consists of a new block-and-ash flow deposit ~10 cm thick on top of deposits from an older block-and-ash flow. Close to the sea a significant layer of alteration (about 6 of 13 cm) is also evident in the deposit. The N of the delta shows a surge layer ~10 cm thick on top of the new block-and-ash flow deposit of up to 50 cm. Sections 1 and 2 (close to the original coast line) also hosted a layer of accretionary ash, probably due to secondary explosions when the flow reached the sea. This is consistent with the brownish steam seen to the N of the delta a few hours after the collapse. Section 2, the most complete section observed, shows the presence of a 15 cm thick layer of very fine ash at the base. The new deposits are probably thickest in the central part of the delta, but it was not possible to obtain thickness data there. Temperatures of the deposits were taken at several places (table 30).

Table 30. Temperature measurements in 3 July 1998 deposits at Soufriere Hills. Courtesy of MVO.

Measurement Date Time Delta Area Location Depth (cm) Temperature (°C)
06 Jul 1998 1445 Northern 5 m from deposit edge 4 100
06 Jul 1998 1445 Northern 5 m from deposit edge 50 300
06 Jul 1998 1445 Northern 6 m from edge, inside fluidized area 80 298
06 Jul 1998 1445 Northern 8 m from deposit edge 4 100
06 Jul 1998 1445 Northern 8 m from deposit edge 50 255
 
07 Jul 1998 1400 Northern 5 m from deposit edge 4 65
07 Jul 1998 1400 Northern 5 m from deposit edge 50 195
07 Jul 1998 1400 Northern 5 m from deposit edge 100 319
07 Jul 1998 1400 Northern 20 m from deposit edge 4 76
07 Jul 1998 1400 Northern 20 m from deposit edge 50 193
07 Jul 1998 1400 Northern 20 m from deposit edge 70 238
 
06 Jul 1998 1445 Southern 5 m from deposit edge 4 132
06 Jul 1998 1445 Southern 5 m from deposit edge 50 360
06 Jul 1998 1445 Southern 10 m from edge 4 120
06 Jul 1998 1445 Southern 10 m from edge 50 375
 
07 Jul 1998 1400 Southern 5 m from deposit edge 4 117
07 Jul 1998 1400 Southern 5 m from deposit edge 50 337
07 Jul 1998 1400 Southern 5 m from deposit edge 70 391
07 Jul 1998 1400 Southern 10 m from deposit edge 4 115
07 Jul 1998 1400 Southern 10 m from deposit edge 50 360
07 Jul 1998 1400 Southern 10 m from deposit edge 70 238

Subsequent events. The pyroclastic flows of 3 July were followed by heightened rock-fall and volcano-tectonic earthquakes until 1407, when there was further high-amplitude seismic signal. This time the signal lasted only 10 minutes and the maximum amplitude was similar to that of the flow on 30 June. Analysis of the most recent event shows that the first 30 seconds were dominated by a 2.4-Hz harmonic signal. This, combined with observations of the color and ascent rate of the ash cloud, suggested an explosive component, which produced a low, dark ash cloud that drifted NW depositing ash on Salem and Woodlands.

On 5 July there were three episodes of ash venting, which produced weak ash plumes to about 3 km that drifted W over Plymouth. The first two occurred at about 0330 and 0500 lasting about 30 minutes each. The third event at 1030 was observed from Salem and lasted 1.75 hours with new, dense pulses of dark gray ash every 5 minutes.

The following week, there continued to be elevated numbers of rock-fall signals, volcano-tectonic earthquakes, and intervals of tremor associated with ash venting from the scar left by the large collapse.

COSPEC observations. COSPEC observations resumed on 5 July. Although the long interval since the last observations (BGVN 22:10) makes comparisons difficult, SO2 emission rates were clearly elevated, measuring 1,500-3,000 metric tons/day between 5 and 11 July. Although the high flux after the event may have been due to the effects of scattering by fine dust and aerosols in the plume (increasing the effective optical-path length), fluxes one week after the collapse were still significantly higher than during comparable periods earlier in the eruption. This may indicate a change in the magmatic source of the gas, or a change in the degassing regime caused by the depressurizing of a large part of the dome and associated changes in the underlying hydrothermal system. Reports of strong H2S odors from the volcano over previous months may also be related to a cooler, wetter hydrothermal system.

Interpretations and conclusions. Because the dome had stopped growing in mid-March, and in the absence of any clear seismic or other precursors, the 3 July event was initially interpreted as a large mechanical dome collapse- not triggered by fresh dome growth. Given the continued low level of activity, this may still be the correct interpretation. Seismic records suggested a sudden initial collapse followed by continued erosion of the scar. This inference is supported by the very long, deep collapse scar, which extends across much of the dome. Although there are no close parallels from Montserrat itself, it is possible that the high- amplitude seismic signal at the onset of the event was due to a phreatic explosion.

There is little evidence to indicate renewed dome growth. The high SO2 fluxes are problematical in the absence of fluxes taken immediately prior to the collapse. There may have been a change in the hydrothermal system, which brought about the conditions leading to collapse.

The difference in temperature, texture, and color between the new deposits in N and S areas of the delta suggests that they have been affected by different processes: the N area was affected by block-and-ash flows and surges; the S area, only by block-and-ash flows. It is likely that the large area affected by surges on the N flanks of the valley, including parts of Long Ground village, was the result of S winds during the emplacement of the pyroclastic flows.

Acknowledgments. The following scientists contributed to these studies: Costanza Bonadonna and Rob Watts, Department of Geology, University of Bristol; Peter Francis, Department of Earth Sciences, Open University; Richard Luckett and Colin Walker, Montserrat Volcano Observatory; Gill Norton and K. Rowley, British Geological Survey; Richard Robertson, Seismic Research Unit, University of the West Indies.

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, West Indies (URL: http://www.mvo.ms/).


St. Helens (United States) — July 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)


Earthquakes, but CO2 flux returns to normal

The rate of earthquake activity, which accelerated markedly from May through mid-July, (BGVN 23:05 and 23:06) returned in August to a level similar to that of last winter. The number of well-located earthquakes in July was 445, compared to 318 in June, but most of the earthquakes that took place during July occurred during the first three weeks of the month. The average rate for the first two weeks of August was only about four well-located earthquakes per day. Several temporary increases in earthquake activity have occurred since the last dome-building eruption in October 1986. This recent episode was the most intense.

Airborne gas surveys revealed that magmatic carbon dioxide (CO2) decreased since June. However escaping CO2 was still measurable. The CO2 was probably being released from magma that entered the magma reservoir during the past few months. The reservoir's top was estimated to be about 7 km below the crater. Because CO2 is heavier than air, it can concentrate in surface depressions on the dome or crater floor, especially under calm conditions, and pose an asphyxiation hazard. Poorly ventilated cavities, such as caves in the mass of snow and ice behind the dome, could be hazardous.

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/).


Turrialba (Costa Rica) — July 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Turrialba

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Not erupting; seismicity and fumarolic condensate chemistry

During July, the main crater continued to weakly emit fumarolic gases with temperatures of 90°C. These escaped along the crater's NE, N, W, and S walls, and small landslides along the crater's N and S walls have partly covered the crater floor. Also, in the central crater, new points appeared on the N side where sulfur-rich gases gently escaped; gas temperatures measured 88°C.

Condensate chemistry and fumarole temperatures taken during 1992 through July 1998 appear on figure 4. Elevated SO4 was measured in condensate sampled on 22 April 1998 (figure 4). This coincided with the appearance of high-frequency earthquakes. Although the SO4 concentration declined in the next condensate sample (22 July), there were 68 high-frequency earthquakes from April through July (table 3).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Turrialba fumarolic temperature (top) and condensate chemistry (bottom) shown for the interval 14 January 1992 to 22 July 1998. The measured pH appears as a series of points; Cl and SO4 concentrations, as shaded and unshaded bars, respectively. Note that the horizontal scale ("Sample date") is non-linear and that the lower right-hand vertical axis (Cl and SO4 concentration) is broken into segments of dissimilar scale. Courtesy of OVSICORI-LAQAT (National University).

Table 3. Seismicity registered at Turrialba's seismic station VTU, January-July 1998. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Month High-frequency Low-frequency Microseisms
Jan 1998 0 0 53
Feb 1998 1 1 83
Mar 1998 3 2 96
Apr 1998 12 1 28
May 1998 15 4 99
Jun 1998 2 3 60
Jul 1998 36 4 61

During 1998 the seismic system (station VTU, 0.5 km NE of the active crater) registered fewer than either 100 microseisms a month or five low-frequency earthquakes a month (table 3). The growth in the number of high-frequency earthquakes was thought to be related to the above-mentioned appearance of the new fumaroles in the central crater. Microseisms were generally weak, with amplitudes below 10 mm.

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

Information Contacts: E. Fernández, V. Barboza, M. Martinez, E. Duarte, R. Van der Laat, E. Hernández, and T. Marino, Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica.

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/).