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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

Fuego (Guatemala) Ongoing ash plume explosions and block avalanches, April-September 2019

Erta Ale (Ethiopia) Continued summit activity and lava flow outbreaks during April-October 2019

Karymsky (Russia) Moderate explosive activity with ash plumes through 24 September 2019

Shishaldin (United States) Active lava lake and spattering on 23 July 2019; minor explosions and lava fountaining on 17 August

Klyuchevskoy (Russia) Ongoing weak thermal anomalies during July-September 2019, but no ash plumes after 1 August

Heard (Australia) Ongoing thermal anomalies at the summit crater during April-September 2019

Dukono (Indonesia) Eruption with frequent ash plumes continues through September 2019

Poas (Costa Rica) Occasional phreatic explosions continue through September 2019

Etna (Italy) Five lava flows and numerous ash plumes and Strombolian explosions, April-September 2019

Ubinas (Peru) Intermittent ash explosions in June-August 2019

Santa Maria (Guatemala) Persistent explosions with local ashfall, March-August 2019; frequent lahars during June; increased explosions in early July

Stromboli (Italy) Major explosions on 3 July and 28 August 2019; hiker killed by ejecta



Fuego (Guatemala) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Fuego

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing ash plume explosions and block avalanches, April-September 2019

Guatemala's Volcán de Fuego was continuously active through September 2019; it has been erupting vigorously since 2002 with historical observations of eruptions dating back to 1531. These eruptions have resulted in major ashfalls, pyroclastic flows, lava flows, and damaging lahars. Large explosions with hundreds of fatalities occurred during 3-5 June 2018; after a brief pause, significant activity resumed and continued during April-September 2019, the period covered in this report. Reports are provided by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH) and the National Office of Disaster Management (CONRED); aviation alerts of ash plumes are issued by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). Satellite data from NASA and other sources provide valuable information about heat flow and gas emissions.

Daily activity continued at a high level throughout April-September 2019 (table 19) with multiple ash explosions every hour, incandescent ejecta reaching hundreds of meters above the summit sending block avalanches down multiple ravines, and ash falling on communities on the SW flank and beyond. During April and part of May a lava flow was also active in the Seca ravine. Although explosive activity remained at a high level throughout the period, thermal activity began a decline in May that continued through September, noticeable in both the MIROVA radiative power data (figure 117), and monthly images of MODVOLC thermal alerts (figure 118).

Table 19. Activity summary by month for Fuego with information compiled from INSIVUMEH daily reports.

Month Fumarole Color, Height (m), Direction Ash Explosions per hour Ash Plume Heights (km) Ash Plume Distance (km) and Direction Incandescent Ejecta Height (m) Ravines affected by avalanche blocks Sounds and Vibrations Villages Reporting ashfall Lava Flow activity
Apr 2019 Gray and White, 4,100-4,500, W-SW 10-25 4.3-5.0 10-25, W-SW-E-N 100-450 Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas and Honda Weak to moderate rumbles, shock waves rattled roofs, train engine noises every 5-20 minutes Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Santa Sofía, El Porvenir, Los Yucales, Finca Palo Verde, Sangre de Cristo, San Pedro Yepocapa, La Rochela, Ceilán, El Rodeo, Alotenango, Ciudad Vieja, Osuna Active flow in Seca ravine, 200-800 m long
May 2019 Gray and White, 4,200-4,500, W-SW-S 12-26 4.5-4.9 10-30, W-SW-S-SE 200-450 Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, Trinidad, El Jute, Las Lajas and Honda Weak to moderate rumbles, shock waves rattled roofs, train engine noises at regular intervals Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Santa Sofía, El Porvenir, Los Yucales, Finca Palo Verde, Sangre de Cristo, San Pedro Yepocapa, Ceilán, La Rochela Active flow in Seca ravine, 300-1,000 m
Jun 2019 White, 4,100-4,500, E-SE-N-W-SW 10-24 4.4-4.8 10-30, W-SW-NW-N-E-SE 200-450 Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, Trinidad, El Jute, Las Lajas and Honda Weak to moderate rumbles, shock waves rattled roofs, train engine noises every 5-10 minutes Sangre de Cristo, Yepocapa, Morelia, Santa Sofía, Panimache I and II, El Porvenir, Finca Palo Verde, La Rochela, Ceilán, Alotenango, San Miguel Dueñas --
Jul 2019 White, 4,100-4,500, W-SW 8-25 4.3-4.8 10-25, W-SW 150-450 Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, Trinidad, El Jute, Las Lajas and Honda Weak to moderate rumbles, shock waves rattled roofs, train engine noises every 5-15 minutes Morelia, Santa Sofía, El Porvenir, Finca Palo Verde, San Pedro Yepocapa, Panimaché I y II, Sangre de Cristo, La Rochela, Ceilán --
Aug 2019 White, 4,100-4,500, W-SW 10-23 4.4-4.8 10-25 W-SW 200-400 Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, Trinidad, El Jute, Las Lajas y Honda Weak to moderate rumbles, shock waves rattle windows; train engine noises every 3-13 minutes Morelia, Santa Sofía, El Porvenir, Finca Palo Verde, San Pedro Yepocapa, Panimaché I y II, Sangre de Cristo, and others Flow in Seca ravine, 13 Aug 75-100 m
Sep 2019 White, 4,100-4,400, W-SW 5-22 4.4-4.8 10-20 W-SW 200-400 Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, Trinidad, El Jute, Las Lajas and Honda Weak to moderate rumbles, shock waves rattled roofs, train engine noises every 3-10 minutes Panimaché I, Panimache II villages,Morelia, Santa Sofía, Palo Verde estate, San Pedro Yepocapa, Sangre de Cristo, El Porvenir, La Rochela villages and Ceylon --
Figure (see Caption) Figure 117. Thermal activity at Fuego increased steadily from January through April 2019, and then began a gradual decline through September as seen in this MIROVA graph of Radiative Power. The active lava flow in the Seca Ravine in April and early May likely contributed to the higher heat values during that time. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 118. A steady decline in thermal activity at Fuego is apparent in the MODVOLC thermal alert images for April-September 2019. During April and early May a lava flow was active in the Seca ravine that extended as far as 1,000 m from the summit. Courtesy of MODVOLC.

Activity increased at the very end of March 2019. The rate of explosions increased to 14-32 events per hour by 31 March; ash plumes rose to 5 km altitude and resulted in ashfall in numerous nearby communities. An early morning lava flow that day reached 800 m down the Seca ravine. Continuous white and gray fumarolic plumes reached 4.1 to 4.4 km altitude during April 2019 and drifted generally W and SW. There were about 15-20 ash-bearing explosions per hour; the highest rate of 25 per hour occurred on 10 April. Plume altitudes were below 4.8 km for most of the month; on 28 and 29 April they rose to 5.0 and 4.9 km. For most of the month they drifted W and SW; the wind direction changed to the E during 10-16 April. Most days of the month ashfall was reported in the communities of Panimaché I y II, Morelia, Santa Sofía, Finca Palo Verde, San Pedro Yepocapa, Sangre de Cristo and El Porvenir on the W and SW flank. During 10-13 April when the wind direction changed to easterly, communities to the NE, E and SE of Alotenango, Ciudad Vieja, La Reunión, La Rochela, El Rodeo, Osuna, Ceilán and others on the N and E flanks were affected by ashfall. The Washington VAAC issued multiple daily advisories on 18 days in April, identifying short-lived ash plumes drifting with the prevailing winds.

Incandescent ejecta rose 200-300 m above the summit on most days (figure 119). During 23-25 April, ejecta rose 300-450 m above the summit. Six ravines were affected by the incandescent avalanche blocks nearly every day: the Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, and Honda. The explosions caused rumbles, shock waves that rattled roofs, and sounds similar to a train locomotive at intervals of 5-20 minutes in nearby communities throughout the month. A lava flow was present in the Seca (Santa Teresa) ravine for most of the month; its length varied from 200 to 800 m. Special reports of lahars were issued seven times during April. On 4 April a moderate lahar descended the Seca ravine carrying centimeter- to meter-sized blocks, tree trunks and branches. During 9-11 April nine lahars were recorded in the Las Lajas, El Jute, Seca, Rio Mineral, Taniluya, and Ceniza ravines. The largest flows were 20 m wide and 3 m deep carrying blocks and debris up to 3 m in diameter; they were warm and thick with a strong sulfurous odor. Two more lahars were reported on 18 April in the Taniluya and Ceniza ravines carrying 1-2 m sized blocks in a warm, sulfurous flow.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 119. Incandescent ejecta rose several hundred meters above the summit of Fuego on 30 April 2019 and sent large blocks down multiple ravines, typical activity for the entire month. Courtesy of CONRED (Boletín Informativo No. 1242019, martes, 30 de abril 2019, VOLCÁN DE FUEGO BAJO CONSTANTE MONITOREO).

During May 2019, primarily white fumaroles rose to 4.2-4.5 km altitude and drifted W, SW, and S; gray fumaroles were reported only during the first few days of the month. Generally, 15-20 ash explosions per hour occurred; the maximum was 26 on 17 May. Ash plume heights ranged from 4.5-4.8 km altitude nearly every day, drifting 10-25 km primarily W, SW, and S throughout the month, except for 6-8 May when plumes drifted NW and 18-19 May when wind directions changed and sent ash S and SE. Plumes drifted 25-30 km SE, S, and SW on 19 May. Ashfall was reported daily from communities on the W flank including Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Santa Sofía, El Porvenir, Los Yucales, Finca Palo Verde, Sangre de Cristo, and San Pedro Yepocapa, among others, and also from the E side including Ceilán and La Rochela when the wind direction changed. The Washington VAAC issued multiple daily ash advisories on 19 days during May.

Incandescent Strombolian activity continued sending ejecta 200-300 m above the summit during the first half of the month and 300-450 m high during the latter half (figure 120). Seven major ravines, the Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, Trinidad, El Jute, Las Lajas, and Honda were affected by block avalanches throughout the month. Intermittent explosions caused rumbles, shock waves that rattled roofs, and sounds similar to a train locomotive at frequent intervals on most days. The lava flow in the Seca ravine advanced from 300 m length on 2 May to 1,000 m long on 9 May. It was reported as being 500 m long on 18 May but was not active after that date. Numerous lahars descended multiple ravines in May. INSIVUMEH issued nine special reports of lahar activity on 3, 14, 16, 20, 23, and 27-29 May. They affected the Las Lajas, Ceniza, El Jute, El Mineral, and Seca ravines. The thick, pasty flows contained blocks of various sizes up to 3 m in diameter along with tree trunks and branches. Several were warm with a sulfurous smell (figure 121). SO2 emissions remained low throughout April-September with only minor emissions recorded in satellite data on 1 April and 9 May 2019 (figure 122).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 120. Incandescent ejecta at Fuego was captured on 27 May 2019 under a starry night sky by photographer Diego Rizzo in a 25-second exposure. Block avalanches are seen descending several ravines. NASA used the photo as an Astronomy Photo of the day and noted that the central plane of the Milky Way galaxy runs diagonally from the upper left, with a fleeting meteor just below, and the trail of a satellite to the upper right. The planet Jupiter also appears toward the upper left, with the bright star Antares just to its right. Much of the land and the sky were captured together in a single 25-second exposure taken in mid-April from the side of Acatenango volcano; the meteor was captured in a similar frame taken about 30 minutes earlier and added to this image digitally. Courtesy of NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day, copyright by Diego Rizzo.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 121. Lahars were reported at Fuego nine separate times during May 2019. A steaming lahar descends a ravine at Fuego on 11 May 2019 (top). The Santa Teresa Canyon was clogged with debris from numerous past lahars on 22 May 2019. INSIVUMEH monitors the ravines continuously during the rainy season. Courtesy of CONRED (Boletín Informativo No. 1382019, sábado, 11 de mayo 2019, LLUVIAS GENERAN DESCENSO DE LAHARES EN EL VOLCÁN DE FUEGO and Boletín Informativo No. 1562019, miércoles, 22 de mayo 2019, SE REGISTRA DESCENSO DE LAHARES MODERADOS EN EL VOLCÁN DE FUEGO).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 122. Weak SO2 emissions were recorded from Fuego on 1 April and 9 May 2019 by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5P satellite. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

The fumarolic plumes were only white during June 2019, rising to 4.1-4.5 km altitude daily, drifting W or SW except during the first days of the month when variable winds sent the steam N, E, and SE. Explosions with ash took place 15-20 times per hour on most days with plumes rising to 4.5-4.8 km altitude and drifting primarily W or SW except for the first days of the month (figure 123). On most days, ash plumes drifted 15-20 km W and SW, except during 2-7 June when winds sent ash E, SE, N, and NW. Ashfall was reported virtually every day in Sangre de Cristo, Yepocapa, Morelia, Santa Sofía, and Panimache I and II. In addition, the communities of El Porvenir, Los Yucales, and Finca Palo Verde reported ashfall several days each week. During 2, 4, and 7 June, the N and SE winds caused ash to fall in Alotenango and San Miguel Dueñas. The Washington VAAC issued ash advisories on 15 days during June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 123. Emissions of both steam and ash rose from Fuego on 11 June 2019. Courtesy of Paul A. Wallace, University of Liverpool.

The height of the Strombolian ejecta varied from 200-300 m above the summit on many days in June , but also was sometimes stronger, rising 300-450 m. While block avalanches were reported in all seven barrancas (ravines) more than once (Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, Trinidad, El Jute, Las Lajas and Honda), on all days they were reported in the Seca, Taniluya, Ceniza, and Trinidad. Weak to moderate rumbles and shock waves rattled roofs every day, and train engine noises were heard every 5-10 minutes. Seven special reports of lahars were issued on days 2, 11, 21-23, and 30. They affected the Las Lajas, El Jute, Seca, El Mineral, and Ceniza ravines with thick, pasty flows containing blocks 1-3 m in size, shaking the ground as they flowed downstream.

During July 2019, white steam plumes rose daily from the summit of Fuego to an altitude of 4.1-4.3 km and drifted W and SW; higher plumes on 30 and 31 July rose to 4.5 km altitude. Fifteen to twenty ash explosions per hour were typical throughout the month and produced ash plumes that rose to 4.3-4.8 km altitude and drifted SW and W for 10-25 km before dissipating (figure 124). Near-daily ashfall was reported in Morelia, Santa Sofía, El Porvenir, Finca Palo Verde, San Pedro Yepocapa, Panimaché I y II, and Sangre de Cristo; La Rochela and Ceilán also reported ash on 4 and 6 July. Incandescent ejecta height varied from 150-450 m above the summit from day to day, sending block avalanches down all seven ravines on many days. Weak to moderate rumbles and shock waves rattled roofs every day, and train engine noises were heard every 5-15 minutes. On 19 July noises and vibrations were heard and felt 25 km away. Only one lahar was reported on 12 July in the Las Lajas ravine. It was warm, with a sulfurous odor, and carried volcanic ash, sand, and blocks 1-3 m in diameter that shook the ground as they flowed downstream. The Washington VAAC issued ash advisories on 13 days during July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 124. Steam-and-ash plumes rose from Fuego on 12 July 2019 in this image taken at dawn from Villa Flores San Miguel Petapa. Courtesy of Alex Cruz (cropped and color adjusted from original).

White steam plumes continued during August 2019, rising to an altitude of 4.1-4.5 km and drifting W and SW daily. Ash-bearing explosions continued also at a rate of about 15-20 per hour throughout the month, rising most days to between 4.5 and 4.7 km altitude. They drifted 15-20 km W or SW nearly every day before dissipating. Every day during the month, ashfall was reported in Morelia, Santa Sofía, El Porvenir, Finca Palo Verde, San Pedro Yepocapa, Panimaché I y II, Sangre de Cristo, and other communities on the SW flank. The Washington VAAC reported ash plumes at Fuego on 15 days during August (figure 125).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 125. An ash emission at Fuego was recorded on 22 August 2019. Courtesy of William Chigna.

Incandescent ejecta also rose every day during August 2019 to 200-300 m above the summit, a few days were reported to 350-400 m. Every day, block avalanches descended the Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, and Trinidad ravines; most days blocks also traveled down the Las Lajas and Honda ravines, and many days they were also reported in the El Jute ravine (figure 126). Every 5-10 minutes, every day, weak and moderate rumbles sounding like a train engine shook buildings and rattled roofs in the nearby villages. On 13 August a small lava flow, 75-100 m long, was reported in the Seca ravine. Six lahars were reported on 3 August. They occurred in the Santa Teresa, Mineral, Ceniza, El Jute, and Las Lajas ravines. The thick pasty flows carried blocks 1-2 m in diameter, tree trunks and branches, and disrupted the roads between Siquinala and San Andres Osuna and El rodeo and El Zapote. The next day two more occurred in the Seca and Mineral drainages. From 17-20 August, six more lahars occurred, most in the Las Lajas drainage, but also in the Seca, Mineral and Ceniza ravines.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 126. Incandescent blocks traveled down several ravines at Fuego on 2 August 2019. Courtesy of Publinews Guatamala.

There were no changes in the steam fumaroles during September 2019; plumes seldom rose over 4.3 km altitude and continued drifting W and SW. The ash explosion rate decreased somewhat and rates of 5-10 per hour were typical on many days. Ash plume heights remained constant around 4.5-4.7 km altitude most days, also drifting W and SW 15-20 km before dissipating (figure 127). While ashfall was reported daily in Panimaché I, Morelia, Santa Sofía, Porvenir, Palo Verde, Yepocapa and other communities on the SW flank for the first half of the month, it grew more intermittent during the second half of September. South-directed winds deposited ash on La Rochela villages and Ceylon on 25 September. The Washington VAAC issued aviation ash advisories on 11 days during the month. Strombolian ejecta mostly rose 200-300 m above the summit; occasionally it reached 300-400 m. On most days, block avalanches descended the Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, Trinidad, and Las Lajas ravines; occasionally they were reported in the El Jute and Honda ravines as well. Every day, rumbles and shock waves shook roofs in nearby villages every 5-10 minutes. Lahars were reported twice, on 2 ad 9 September, in the Seca and Rio Mineral drainages both days, dragging branches, tree trunks and blocks up to 2 m in diameter.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 127. An ash plume drifts from the summit of Fuego on 16 September 2019, seen from the La Reunion webcam. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán de Fuego (1402-09), Semana del 14 al 20 de septiembre de 2,019).

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/ ); 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/); Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), Av. Hincapié 21-72, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://conred.gob.gt/www/index.php); NASA Astronomy Picture of the day (URL: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190527.html); 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/); Paul A. Wallace, Lecturer in Geology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool England (URL: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/environmental-sciences/staff/paul-wallace/, Twitter: @Paul_A_Wallace, URL: https://twitter.com/Paul_A_Wallace/status/1138527752963993600); Alex Cruz, Photojournalist, Guatemala (Twitter: @ACruz_elP, URL: https://twitter.com/ACruz_elP/status/1149690904023691264/photo/1); William Chigna, Guatemala (Twitter: @William_Chigna, URL: https://twitter.com/William_Chigna/status/1164575009966370816); Publinews Guatemala, (Twitter: @PublinewsGT, URL: https://twitter.com/PublinewsGT/status/1157288917365903360).


Erta Ale (Ethiopia) — November 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Erta Ale

Ethiopia

13.6°N, 40.67°E; summit elev. 613 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued summit activity and lava flow outbreaks during April-October 2019

Erta Ale, located in Ethiopia, contains multiple active pit craters both within the summit and the southeast calderas. On 17 January 2017 the active lava lake displayed intense spattering, fountaining, and rim overflows with lava flows that traveled as far as 1 km, forming a lava flow field. During April 2018 through March 2019 minor activity continued in both the summit and southeast calderas, and along the active lava flow to the E (BGVN 44:04). This report updates volcanism from April through October 2019. Information primarily comes from infrared satellite images and MODIS data.

Continued lava flow breakouts occurred from April through October 2019. On 4 May 2019 a lava flow outbreak was observed in satellite imagery NE of the summit caldera (figure 92). This outbreak continued to appear in clear-weather thermal satellite images through 13 June when it was seen south of its original location (figure 93). Faint incandescence is observed at the summit caldera between June and October 2019, though it is more pronounced in the months of August through October. On 28 June a second smaller lava flow outbreak occurred within 3.8 km of the summit location. The two lava flow outbreaks remained active at least through 18 June. The distal NE lava flow does not appear in very similar images from 17 August or 16 September 2019, but three proximal thermal anomalies are seen in the southeastern caldera within 4 km of the summit. The thermal anomalies remained within 5 km through October 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery of Erta Ale volcanism on 4 May 2019 with thermal anomalies observed to the northeast of the summit caldera (bright orange). White plumes are seen rising from the summit with faint incandescence. Sentinel-2 satellite images with "False Color (Urban)" (bands 12, 11, 4) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery of Erta Ale volcanism between 8 June and 21 October 2019. Lava flow outbreaks initially occur in the distal NE part of the lava flow, which then migrates slightly south. A second lava flow outbreak is seen less than 5 km of the summit caldera. Faint incandescence is seen at the summit caldera in each of these images. Sentinel-2 satellite images with "False Color (Urban)" (bands 12, 11, 4) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed consistently high-power thermal anomalies during this reporting period (figure 94). Through July 2019 these thermal anomalies were detected at distances greater than 5 km from the summit. In early August 2019 there was an abrupt decrease in the distance that continued through late October 2019 (figure 94); this likely indicates when the distal NE outbreak ended and lava emissions from the closer SE locations increased (see satellite images in figure 93). The distance changes of MODIS thermal anomalies from the summit seen in MIROVA are corroborated by MODVOLC data, which show no distal NE thermal alert pixels after July 2019 (figure 95).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Two time-series plots of thermal anomalies from Erta Ale for the year ending on 24 October 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system. The top plot (A) shows that the thermal anomalies were consistently strong (measured in log radiative power) and occurred frequently. The lower plot (B) shows these anomalies as function of distance from the summit, including a sudden decrease in the distance (measured in kilometers) in early August 2019 that reflects a change in lava flow outbreak location. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Locations of the thermal alerts at Erta Ale during November 2018-July 2019 (top) and August-October 2019 (bottom) identified by the MODVOLC system. A majority of the proximal (less than 5 km from the summit) thermal anomalies are found within the southeastern calderas while the distal (beyond 5 km) anomalies are northeast of the summit. Note that the distal NE anomalies are not present after July 2019. Two thermal alerts mark the location of the summit caldera (bottom map). Data courtesy of HIGP-MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

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

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


Karymsky (Russia) — November 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Karymsky

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Moderate explosive activity with ash plumes through 24 September 2019

Eruptive activity at Karymsky has been frequent since 1996, with moderate ash explosions, gas-and-steam emissions, and thermal anomalies. The latest eruptive period began in mid-February 2019 (BGVN 44:05) when explosions resumed after more than four months of quiet, producing an ash plume that extended 55 km downwind. Intermittent explosive activity continued until 24 September 2019. The volcano is monitored by the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT).

Ash plumes were reported during the second half of February and the first half of March 2019 (BGVN 44:05). During May-September 2019 similar activity continued, with ash plumes being generated at least every few days (table 12). Though not included in the weekly KVERT report as notable events, obvious ash plumes were also seen in Sentinel-2 imagery on 22 July and photographed from an aircraft on 23 July. Volcanologists doing fieldwork on 14 August observed an ash plume rising to 5 km altitude (figure 44). A week later, during 20-22 August, explosions generated ash plumes as high as 6 km altitude that were visible in satellite imagery (figure 45). Although not noted in KVERT reports, a photo from 9 September showed a plume blowing downwind directly from the summit crater (figure 46). No significant ash plumes were reported by KVERT after 24 August, but the last ash explosion was recorded on 24 September.

Table 12. Notable ash plumes reported from Karymsky during May-October 2019. All dates are in UTC. Courtesy of KVERT.

Date Observations
06-07 May 2019 Gas-and-steam plume containing ash rose to 2-2.2 km in altitude and drifted 105 km SE and SW.
21 May 2019 Ash plume drifted 9 km SW.
24 May 2019 Ash plume identified in satellite images drifted 45 km NE.
13-17 Jul 2019 Ash plumes drifted 60 km in multiple directions.
25 Jul 2019 Ash plume drifted 134 km SE.
26 Jul 2019 Ash plume drifted 60 km SE.
03-05 Aug 2019 Ash plumes drifted 180 km SE and NW.
06 Aug 2019 Ash plume rose 2-2.5 km in altitude and drifted about 17 km NW.
14 Aug 2019 Volcanologists observed explosions and ash plumes that rose to 5 km altitude. Satellite images showed ash plumes drifting E and SSE that same day.
20-22 Aug 2019 Ash plumes visible in satellite images drifted 500 km SW. Explosions on 21 August produced ash plumes to 6 km altitude.
23-24 Aug 2019 Ash plumes drifted 51 km SE.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Aerial photo showing an ash plume rising to 5 km altitude from Karymsky 14 August 2019. Photo by D. Melnikov; courtesy of IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Satellite image from Sentinel-2 (natural color) of an ash plume at Karymsky on 21 August 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Photo showing explosive activity at Karymsky at 1920 UTC on 9 September 2019. Photo by A. Manevich; courtesy of IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

During May-October 2019, thermal anomalies were detected with the MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm only on 25 July (2 pixels) and 21 August (10 pixels). Consistent with both observations, KVERT noted ash explosions on those dates. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) volcano hotspot detection system, also based on analysis of MODIS data, detected numerous hotspots in May, none in June, 3 in July, 5 in August, and none in September or October. KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly was visible in satellite images on most, if not all, days when not obscured by clouds.

The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale) until 3 October, when KVERT reduced it to Yellow, after which moderate gas-and-steam activity continued.

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

Information Contacts: 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/); Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/); 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).


Shishaldin (United States) — October 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Shishaldin

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Active lava lake and spattering on 23 July 2019; minor explosions and lava fountaining on 17 August

Recent activity at Shishaldin, located on Unimak Island within the Aleutian Islands, has included a lava eruption in the summit crater, thermal anomalies, elevated seismicity, and gas-and-steam and ash plumes (BGVN 41:11). This report describes minor gas-and-steam emissions, increased seismicity, thermal anomalies, lava fountaining accompanied by minor explosive activity, and a spatter cone. The primary source of information is the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO). This report updates activity through September 2019.

Volcanism was relatively low between March 2016 and early July 2019; increased seismicity and steam emissions were detected in December 2017, but the activity declined in February 2018. Elevated seismicity and some thermal anomalies accompanied by incandescence observed in satellite imagery (when not obscured by clouds) returned in mid-July 2019 (figure 12).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Summary graphic of MODVOLC thermal alerts measured over Shishaldin during July-September 2019. Courtesy of HIGP - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

Elevated surface temperatures and low-level seismic tremors remained elevated through September 2019 (figure 13). Field crews reported an active lava lake and minor spattering within the summit crater on 23 July 2019 (figures 14 and 15). Satellite imagery showed the presence of a small spatter cone and some lava flows within the summit crater on 28 July. A small steam plume was observed in satellite imagery and webcam images on 29 July, 20 August, and 30 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of Shishaldin showing detected thermal anomalies between the months of July and September 2019. Top left: Satellite image on 19 July showing a gas-and-steam plume. Top center: On 29 July a thermal anomaly is detected in the summit crater. Top right: On 28 August, the thermal anomaly is still present. Bottom left: On 7 September, the thermal anomaly continues. Bottom right: On 24 September, the power of the thermal anomaly significantly decreases. Atmospheric penetration satellite image (bands 12, 11, 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Photo of surface lava within the summit crater at Shishaldin taken on 23 July 2019. Photo by David Fee (color corrected); courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Photo of lava and a slightly growing spatter cone within the summit crater at Shishaldin taken on 23 July 2019. Photo by Dane Ketner (color corrected); courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO).

On 17 August 2019, a video taken by NOAA during an overflight showed repetitive minor explosive activity and low-level lava fountaining within the summit crater. This activity may have continued through 24 September, according to AVO. The spatter cone grew slightly in August and September, partially filling the summit crater. Accompanying lava flows also grew slightly during this time.

Satellite data from 3 September showed SO2 emissions and elevated surface temperatures. Satellite imagery and tiltmeter data recorded a collapse and slumping of the summit crater floor, which may have occurred on 19 September. In the last few weeks of September, seismicity and surface temperatures decreased to slightly above background levels.

According to MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) data from MODIS satellite instruments, more frequent thermal anomalies were detected in mid-July 2019 and remained elevated through early September (figure 16).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Thermal anomalies increased at Shishaldin from mid-July 2019 through early September and then abruptly stopped as recorded by MIROVA (log radiative power). Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

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


Klyuchevskoy (Russia) — October 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Klyuchevskoy

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing weak thermal anomalies during July-September 2019, but no ash plumes after 1 August

During September 2018 through June 2019, activity at Klyuchevskoy was characterized by weak thermal anomalies and moderate Strombolian-type explosions. Ash emissions were only reported on 1-2 July and 1 August during the period of July-September 2019. The volcano is monitored by the Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) and is the primary source of information.

According to KVERT, moderate activity continued from July through at least the middle of September, with gas-and-steam emissions. At the beginning of July, KVERT reported incandescence in the crater. During 1-2 July, ash plumes drifted as far as 85 km E and SE. Ash plumes were visible blowing E in Sentinel-2 images on 17 and 19 July (figure 32); steam plumes were evident on some other days. KVERT reported that an ash emission was seen in webcam images on 1 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. An ash plume can be seen blowing E from the summit crater of Klyuchevskoy in this Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) satellite image from 17 July 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

No thermal anomalies were detected with the MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) volcano hotspot detection system, also based on analysis of MODIS data, detected no thermal anomalies in June, four scattered ones in July, and only one in August, all low power. According to KVERT, a weak thermal anomaly was detected throughout the reporting period, at least through mid-September, except for the numerous days when the volcano was obscured by clouds; the temperature of the anomalies had steadily decreased with time.

Instruments aboard NASA satellites detected high levels of sulfur dioxide near or directly above the volcano every day during the first week of July and on 12 July, but not on other days during the reporting period. However, the origin for the high levels may, at least in part, have been due to other active volcanoes in the area.

At the beginning of July, the Aviation Color Code (ACC) remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale). Because of decreased activity, KVERT lowered the ACC to Yellow on 30 August and to Green (the lowest on the scale) on 24 September.

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


Heard (Australia) — October 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Heard

Australia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing thermal anomalies at the summit crater during April-September 2019

Heard Island, in the Southern Indian Ocean, is about 4,000 km from its closest point to Australia and about 1,500 km from the closest point in Antarctica. Because of the island's remoteness, monitoring is primarily accomplished by satellites. The Big Ben volcano has been active intermittently since 1910, if not before (BGVN 42:10), and thermal anomalies have been observed every month since June 2018 (BGVN 43:10, 44:04). The current reporting period is from April to September 2019.

During April-September 2019, only one thermal anomaly was detected with the MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm, and that was on 10 June (2 pixels). The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) volcano hotspot detection system, also based on analysis of MODIS data, detected a few scattered thermal alerts in late May-early June and three in September; most were between 1-2 km of the summit and of low to moderate power.

The island is usually covered by heavy clouds, obscuring satellite views. However, Sentinel-2 satellite imagery detected cloud-obscured thermal anomalies during the reporting period, most likely due to a persistent lava lake and possibly lava flows (BGVN 41:08).

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

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


Dukono (Indonesia) — October 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Dukono

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption with frequent ash plumes continues through September 2019

The eruption at Dukono, ongoing since 1933, is typified by frequent ash explosions and ash plumes (BGVN 43:04). This activity continued through at least September 2019. The data below were primarily provided by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), also known as the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC).

According to PVMBG, during April-September 2019 the volcano continued to generate ash plumes almost every day that rose to altitudes of 1.5-3 km (table 20, figure 12). Ashfall was reported on 8 August at the Galela Airport, Maluku Utara, 17 km NW. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the 2-km exclusion zone remained in effect.

Table 20. Monthly summary of reported ash plumes from Dukono for April-September 2019. The direction of drift for the ash plume through each month was highly variable, but did not extend for any notable distances during this reporting period. Data courtesy of the Darwin VAAC and PVMBG.

Month Plume Altitude (km) Notable Plume Drift
Apr 2019 1.5-2.4 --
May 2019 1.5-3 --
Jun 2019 1.8-2.4 --
Jul 2019 1.5-2.1 --
Aug 2019 1.8-2.1 --
Sep 2019 1.5-2.1 --
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Satellite image from Sentinel-2 (natural color) of an ash plume at Dukono on 4 August 2019, with the plume blowing almost straight up. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Instruments aboard NASA satellites detected high levels of sulfur dioxide near or directly above the volcano on 11, 20-22 April; 17, 22, and 27 May; 15-18 August; and 23-24 and 29 September. However, the cause of the high levels may, at least in part, have been due to other active volcanoes in the area.

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

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


Poas (Costa Rica) — October 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Poas

Costa Rica

10.2°N, 84.233°W; summit elev. 2708 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Occasional phreatic explosions continue through September 2019

Activity at Poás is characterized by weak phreatic explosions and gas-and-ash-emissions, with a hot acid lake that occasionally disappears (BGVN 44:05). During the current reporting period of May-September 2019, this weak activity continued. The volcano is monitored by the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), and most of the material below comes from their weekly bulletins (Boletin Semanal Vulcanologia).

According to OVSICORI-UNA, a period of continuous emissions occurred during 30 April-1 May with plumes rising 300 m above the crater rim and drifting SW. Ash emissions were visible for a few hours on 30 April, and incandescence was visible at night. OVSICORI-UNA did not report any additional phreatic explosions in May until daily phreatic, geyser-type explosions were observed between 29 May and 1 June, which reached approximately 100 m above the vent. A phreatic explosion on 10 June reached approximately 20-30 m in height, and frequent small phreatic explosions (heights below 20 m) were reported through 16 June.

OVSICORI-UNA reported that on 12 June small geyser-like explosions ejected material less than 50 m high at a rate of about once per hour. At 0604 on 18 June an explosion that lasted about six minutes produced a plume of unknown height. Residents reportedly heard several loud noises during 0610-0615 and observed a plume rising from the crater. Ash fell in Cajón (12 km SW), San Luis de Grecia (11 km SW), Los Ángeles, San Miguel de Grecia (11 km SW), San Isidro (28 km SE), and San Roque (23 km SSE). Whitish ash deposits surrounding the crater, especially on the W and S sectors, were visible in webcam images. On 21 June frequent small phreatic explosions from vent A (Boca Roja) were visible during good viewing conditions ejecting material less than 10 m high.

No additional phreatic activity was reported by OVSICORI-UNA during rest of June or July. The small crater lake was still present on 5 July when visible in satellite imagery and as seen by visitors (figure 130), During the first part of August geyser-like explosions occurred on several days, and reached a maximum height of 50 m. This activity culminated on 17 August with about 30 explosions/day from the vent (Boca Roja). At least one event at 0650 on that day generated a 1-km-high plume of steam, gas, and fine particles. By 26 August, the geyser-type activity had ceased. Geyser-type phreatic explosions resumed on 12 September, reaching a maximum height of 30 m. The number of explosions increased up to 10-15 events/hour and then became continuous for a short time. A phreatic explosion occurred on 22 September at 2059 that generated a plume that rose 3 km above the crater rim and drifted NE. During 22-23 September explosions generated plumes that rose 1 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 130. View of the Poás crater on 5 July 2019. The volcano is surrounded by cloud-cover, and there is some steam rising from the crater lake. Photo by Sheila DeForest (Creative Commons BY-SA license).

According to OVSICORI-UNA, during 16-26 September sulfur dioxide emissions drifted W and NE, causing a sulfur odor in Alajuela, Heredia, San José, and Cartago. Acidic rain was recorded at an official's house in the Poás Volcano National Park (PNVP) on 23 September and at the Universidad Nacional Costa Rica (UNA) in Heredia (23 km SE) on 26 September. On 30 September, at 0540, a 5-minute long phreatic explosion ejected sediment, and produced a plume that rose 2 km above the crater rim and drifted SW. Ashfall and a sulfur odor was reported in Trojas de Sarchi (10 km SW) and Grecia (16 km SSW). Officials closed the PNVP because of the eruption and ongoing elevated seismicity; the park remained closed the next day.

During the first week of August, strong evaporation had reduced the intracrater lake significantly, and by mid-September, the lake had disappeared. At the end of September, however, some water had begun to accumulate again.

General monitoring data. During April and May, OVSICORI-UNA took few gas measurements due to an unfavorable wind direction. An SO2 measurement during the first part of June was between 100 and 200 t/d. Flux remained low through July, with low SO2/CO2 ratios, and high H2S/SO2 ratios, which OVSICORI-UNA stated were consistent with water infiltration. At the end of July, SO2 concentrations significantly increased to 300-800 t/d, with H2S disappearing and the CO2/SO2 ratio declining, with some fluctuations. Levels remained high through most of August, but had decreased to about 300 t/d by the end of the month. They rose again in September, with fluctuations, and on 29 September were measured at about 1,000 t/d before falling to between 300-400 t/d.

According to OVSICORI-UNA weekly reports, seismicity was relatively low during the reporting period, with a few VTs and LPs and normal background tremor. No significant deformation occurred, except for some deflation in June and July.

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: Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Sheila DeForest (URL: https://www.facebook.com/sheila.deforest).


Etna (Italy) — October 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Five lava flows and numerous ash plumes and Strombolian explosions, April-September 2019

Italy's Mount Etna on the island of Sicily has had historically recorded eruptions for the past 3,500 years and has been erupting continuously since September 2013 through at least September 2019. Lava flows, explosive eruptions with ash plumes, and Strombolian lava fountains commonly occur from its summit areas that include the Northeast Crater (NEC), the Voragine-Bocca Nuova (or Central) complex (VOR-BN), the Southeast Crater (SEC, formed in 1978), and the New Southeast Crater (NSEC, formed in 2011). The newest crater, referred to as the "cono della sella" (saddle cone), emerged during early 2017 in the area between SEC and NSEC. Varying activity that included several lava flows, Strombolian activity, and numerous ash plumes from most of the active summit vents and several flank fissures occurred during April-September 2019, the period covered in this report, with information provided primarily by the Osservatorio Etneo (OE), part of the Catania Branch of Italy's Istituo Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologica (INGV).

Degassing of variable intensity was typical activity from all the vents at Etna during much of April 2019. Intermittent ash emission and Strombolian activity occurred at Bocca Nuova, especially during the last week. Minor ash emissions were reported from NEC and NSEC the last week as well. Most of the activity at the summit during May 2019 was focused around the New South East Crater (NSEC); repeated Strombolian activity was witnessed from the E vent near the summit throughout the month. Beginning on 30 May, two fissures opened on the N and SE flanks of NSEC and produced lava flows that traveled E and SE across the W wall of the Valle del Bove. The flows ceased during the first week of June; activity for the rest of that month consisted of intermittent explosions with small ash plumes from Voragine and Bocca Nuova. Discontinuous Strombolian explosions and isolated ash emissions from NEC, NSEC, and Bocca Nuova characterized activity during the first half of July 2019; the explosions intensified at NSEC later in the month. A lava flow emerged from the lower NE flank of NSEC on 18 July that lasted for several days. Explosions produced substantial ash plumes from the NSEC summit crater, causing ashfall nearby, and a new flow emerged from a fissure on the S flank of NSEC on 27 July.

Explosions with intermittent ash emissions during August 2019 were focused primarily on the North East Crater (NEC), with occasional ash emissions from Bocca Nuova. These continued into early September. Activity increased to include Strombolian explosions with the ash emissions at NEC, Bocca Nuova, and Voragine where a scoria cone formed deep within the crater from continued Strombolian activity. A lava flow emerged from the base of the scoria cone on 18 September and was active for about four days, sending branches of lava into multiple areas of the adjacent Bocca Nuova crater. Ash emissions at NEC continued during the end of the month. The multiple episodes of varying activity during the period were reflected in the MIROVA thermal energy data; spikes of thermal activity that corresponded to periods of lava effusion were apparent late May-early June, multiple times in July, and during the second half of September (figure 260).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 260. The multiple episodes of varying activity at Etna from 11 December 2018 through September 2019 were reflected in the MIROVA thermal energy data; spikes of thermal activity were apparent in late April, late May-early June, multiple times in July, and during the second half of September. The largest energy spikes correlated with lava flows. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during April-May 2019. During a site visit to the summit on 1 April scientists from INGV noted weak degassing from both pit craters, BN-1 and BN-2, within Bocca Nuova (BN); the Voragine (VOR) and North East Crater (NEC) were emitting abundant steam and gas emissions. The New Southeast Crater (NSEC) also had significant fumarolic activity concentrated primarily on the crater rim along with gas plumes visible from both the E vent and the 24 December 2018 flank fissure (figure 261). A brief episode of ash emission was observed from BN on the morning of 8 April. Persistent pulsating flashes of incandescence were noted at the E vent of NSEC during the second week. A new vent was observed in the inner wall of the Voragine crater during an inspection on 19 April, located immediately below the vent which formed on 12 January 2019 (figure 262). During the last week of April there were ten episodes of ash emission from BN, two from NEC, and one produced by the E vent at NSEC. Strombolian activity was observed on the morning of 28 April at BN-1, and persistent incandescence was visible from the E vent of NSEC. Early on 30 April both BN-1 and BN-2 were producing explosions every few seconds. Coarse ejecta (lapilli and bombs) rose higher than the crater rim; most fell back within the crater, but some material was observed on the rim the following day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 261. During a site visit to the summit of Etna on 1 April 2019 scientists from INGV noted weak degassing from both pit craters, BN-1 and BN-2, within Bocca Nuova (BN); Voragine (VOR) and North East Crater (NEC) were emitting abundant steam and gas emissions, and the New Southeast Crater (NSEC) also had significant fumarolic activity concentrated primarily on the crater rim along with gas plumes visible from both the E vent (bocca orientale) and the 24 December 2018 flank fissure. Courtesy of INGV, photos by Laboratorio di Cartografia FlyeEye Team (Report 15/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 01/04/2019 - 07/04/2019, data emissione 09/04/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 262. A new vent was observed at the W rim of Etna's Voragine crater on 19 April 2019. INGV scientists concluded that it likely formed during 17-18 April. It was located immediately below a pit crater that opened on 12 January 2019. Inset shows thermal image of the vents. Courtesy of INGV (Report 17/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 15/04/2019 - 21/04/2019, data emissione 24/04/2019).

Activity at the summit during May 2019 was focused around the New South East Crater (NSEC). Discontinuous Strombolian activity was observed at the E vent of NSEC early on 2 May accompanied by ash emissions from the summit vent that rose about 1,000 m (figure 263). Explosion frequency increased beginning on 5 May with weak and discontinuous ash emissions reported from the NSEC summit for the next several days; ash emissions were also observed from the Saddle vent and the NSEC E vent during 6-8 May. In addition to ash emissions and Strombolian activity continuing from both the summit and E vents at NSEC during the third and fourth weeks, overnight on 17-18 May several larger Strombolian explosions sent pyroclastic ejecta tens of meters above the crater rim (figure 264). The explosion intervals ranged from a few minutes to a few hours. The new vent that had formed at Voragine in mid-April coalesced with the 12 January vent during the second week of May; dilute ash was observed from the BN-1 vent on 23 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 263. Strombolian activity at the E vent of NSEC at Etna was accompanied by ash emission on 2 May 2019. Left image is from the thermal camera at La Montagnola and the right image is from Tremestieri Etneo, taken by B. Behncke. Coutesy of INGV (Report 19/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 29/04/2019 - 05/05/2019, data emissione 07/05/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 264. Strombolian activity sent ejecta from a vent at Etna's NSEC crater on 14 May 2019 (a) and was captured by the Monte Cagliato thermal camera. Ash emission from the same vent was also visible that day (b) and on 17 May (c). Strombolian explosions from the E Vent of NSEC on 17 May (d) were captured by the EMOH (Montagnola) webcam. Courtesy of INGV (Report 21/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 13/05/2019 - 19/05/2019, data emissione 21/05/2019).

A fissure opened at the base of the N flank of NSEC shortly after midnight on 30 May 2019 at an elevation of about 3,150 m (figure 265). It produced mild explosive activity and a lava flow that spread towards the W wall of the Valle del Bove. By 0800 UTC the flow had reached an elevation of 2,050 m. A second fissure opened at 0335 the same morning at the base of the SE flank of NSEC at an elevation of 3,050 m. The lava flowed along the W wall of the Valle del Bove towards Serra Giannicola Grande and had reached an elevation of 2,260 m by 0815. Strong winds dispersed ash emissions from the fissures to the NE for much of the day; ashfall occurred in Linguaglossa (figure 266). The Toulouse VAAC reported an ash plume drifting ENE at 3.9 km altitude on 30 May. Samples of the ash that were collected and analyzed were shown to be about 70% lithic clasts, 25% crystals, and about 5% juvenile material. It became clear the next day that two vents along the SE-flank fissure initially produced separate flows that coalesced into a single flow which expanded along the W wall of Valle del Bove. By 0830 on 31 May that flow had reached an elevation of 1,700 m at the base of Serra Giannicola Grande. The fissure at the base of the N flank continued to propagate along the W wall of Valle del Bove also, and had reached an elevation of 2,050 near Monte Simone by 1030 on 31 May (figure 267). When the new eruptive activity began on 29 May, inclinometers measured slight but prolonged deflation of the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 265. Two fissures opened at Etna during the early morning of 30 May 2019. One started from the base of the N flank of the NSEC/SEC complex and flowed E towards the Valle del Bove, and a second fissure with two vents opened on the SE flank of NSEC and flowed SE towards Serra Giannicola Grande. Mapping of the lava flows were done with drones, using the Sentinel 2 satellite images of 30 May and thermal images from 2 June taken at the Schiena dell'Asino. Courtesy of INGV (Report 23/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 27/05/2019 - 02/06/2019, data emissione 04/06/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 266. Lava flows broke out at Etna on both the N and SE flanks of NSEC on 30 May 2019. Ash emissions were also produced from the fissures. The northern flank fissure is seen from the (a) Monte Cagliato thermal camera (EMCT) and (b) the Montagnola high definition camera (EMOH). The fissure on the SE flank was seen from the Montagnola thermal (c) and high definition (d) (EMOH) webcams. Ash emissions and lava flows were visible on the flank (e) and ashfall was recorded in Linguaglossa (f). Courtesy of INGV (Report 23/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 27/05/2019 - 02/06/2019, data emissione 04/06/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 267. Images of the active lava flows at Etna on 31 May 2019 indicated the extent of the flow activity. Lava was flowing from two vents along a fissure on the SE flank (a and b, drone images courtesy of the FlyEye Team OE). The thermal image of the flow (c) is from Schiena dell'Asi, the visible photo (d) is also taken from Schiena dell'Asi by L. Lodato. The thermal (e) and visual (f) images of the active lava fields were taken from the Monte Cagliato (EMCT) thermal webcam and the Monte Cagliato (EMCH) high definition webcam. Courtesy of INGV (Report 23/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 27/05/2019 - 02/06/2019, data emissione 04/06/2019).

Activity during June-July 2019. The flow from the N flank of NSEC ceased advancing on 1 June 2019, but the active spattering continued from the fissure on the SE flank for a few more days. The SE-flank flow had reached 1,700 m elevation in the Valle del Bove by the afternoon of 2 June (figure 268). The intensity and frequency of the explosions decreased over the next few days, with the active flow front receding back towards the vent until it stopped moving on 6 June. The NE rim of the summit cone at NSEC appeared lowered by several meters after the eruption ceased. The lava flows and explosions of 30 May-2 June produced persistent SO2 emissions that drifted E and N for over 800 km (figure 269).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 268. During the morning of 1 June 2019 Strombolian and effusive activity at Etna continued from the fissure on the SE flank of NSEC (a and b, photos by M. Neri). By the evening of 1 June there was only one remaining arm of the flow that was active (c) as seen in the Monte Cagliato (EMCT) thermal webcam. The following evening, 2 June, another thermal image(d, photo by S. Scollo) showed the remaining active arm. Courtesy of INGV (Report 23/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 27/05/2019 - 02/06/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 269. Active lava flows and Strombolian activity at Etna during 30 May-2 June 2019 contributed to significant SO2 plumes that drifted E and NE from the volcano during this time, extending as far as 800 km from the source. Captured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5P satellite, courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Activity for the rest of June 2019 moved to the other craters, mainly Voragine, after the flows ceased at NSEC. On the morning of 6 June there were sporadic ash emissions from NEC that quickly dissipated. A small ash plume appeared from Bocca Nuova (BN) on 11 June. An explosive sequence that began on 13 June from the crater floor of Voragine continued intermittently through the third week of the month (figure 270) and produced several small ash plumes. A new vent opened on the crater floor and produced a small ash plume; ejecta also landed on the crater rim several times. On 22 June small, discontinuous ash emissions were produced from BN-1; they dispersed rapidly, but intermittent explosions continued during the following week. By the end of the month, only BN was exhibiting activity other than degassing; incandescence from the crater was seen during the night of 24 June and three isolated ash emissions were seen in the webcams on 26 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 270. An ash plume at Etna rose from the Voragine crater on 15 June 2019 during a series of intermittent explosions. Image taken from the Torre del Filosofo by M. Coltelli. Courtesy of INGV (Report 25/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 10/06/2019 - 16/06/2019, data emissione 18/06/2019).

Discontinuous Strombolian explosions and isolated ash emissions characterized activity during the first half of July 2019. Pulsating degassing from NEC produced ash emissions on 2 and 3 July (figure 271), and incandescence on 4 and 5 July. Intense degassing was observed at NSEC during 1-5 July, this turned into isolated ash emissions and Strombolian activity on 5 and 6 July from the E vent with explosions occurring every 1-5 minutes; the ejecta landed on the upper E flank. Dilute ash emissions were observed from Bocca Nuova on 6 July. NEC produced two major ash emissions on the evening of 8 July and the late morning of 13 July. The ash plumes quickly dispersed in the summit area. Strombolian activity at the E vent of NSEC was witnessed on 14 July. Explosive activity at Bocca Nuova remained deep within the crater during mid-July. Steam produced by the 13 June 2019 vent on the floor of Voragine occasionally contained dilute ash. During 15-17 July sporadic explosions were observed at NSEC accompanied by small puffs of ash that rapidly dispersed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 271. Surveillance cameras at Etna captured images of explosions with ash emissions from NEC on 2 (top) and 3 (bottom) July 2019. The left images are from Montagnola and the right images are from Monte Cagliato. Courtesy of INGV (Report 28/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 01/07/2019 - 07/07/2019, data emissione 09/07/2019).

Beginning early on 18 July, Strombolian activity increased at NSEC from an explosion every 1-2 minutes to multiple explosions per minute in the following hours. Continuous activity during the evening decreased sharply around 2200. About an hour later visual and thermal surveillance cameras on Monte Cagliato recorded the opening of a vent on the lower NE flank of NSEC; lava slowly advanced from the vent towards Valle del Leone (figures 272 and 273). Explosive activity resumed at the NSEC summit a few hours later, accompanied by occasional ash emissions from NEC and Bocca Nuova. Explosions tapered off briefly by noon on 19 July, but a sudden increase in explosive activity during the afternoon of 19 July produced Strombolian activity and sporadic ash emissions from three vents inside the NSEC crater. Ashfall was reported that evening in communities on the S flank of Etna. The Toulouse VAAC reported significant ash above the summit at 3.7 km altitude. Activity declined again later that evening at NSEC, but abundant ash emission began at NEC that lasted until the morning of 20 July. A new phase of explosive activity began at NSEC around 0700 on 20 July with an ash plume and an increase in lava emission from the vent on the NE flank (figure 274). By the evening of 20 July only a small amount of material was feeding the lava flow; the farthest advanced fronts were at an elevation around 2,150 m, above Monte Simone. A few small ash emissions were observed at Bocca Nuova on 21 July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 272. Map of the summit craters of Etna showing the active vents and the lava flow of 19-21 July 2019. The base is modified from a 2014 DEM created by Laboratorio di Aerogeofisica-Sezione Roma 2. Black hatch marks indicate the crater rims: BN = Bocca Nuova, with NW BN-1 and SE BN-2; VOR = Voragine; NEC = North East Crater; SEC = South East Crater; NSEC = New South East Crater. Red circles indicate areas with ash emissions and/or Strombolian activity, yellow circles indicate steam and/or gas emissions only. Courtesy of INGV (Report 30/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 15/07/2019 - 21/07/2019, data emissione 23/07/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 273. Activity at Etna on 18 and 19 July 2019 included a new lava flow from a vent on the NE flank of NSEC and Strombolian activity at the NSEC summit vent. (a) Start of the flow from a vent on the NE flank of NSEC seen from the high-resolution camera at Monte Cagliato (EMCH) at 2307 UTC on 18 July. (b) Strombolian activity at the NSEC and glow of the new lava flow on the right seen from Tremestieri Etneo, 2347 that evening. (c) A new advancing lava flow and brown ash emission from NEC seen from the EMCH camera, 0338 on 19 July; (d) lava flow seen from the thermal camera at Monte Cagliato, 0700 on 19 July. Courtesy of INGV (Report 30/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 15/07/2019 - 21/07/2019, data emissione 23/07/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 274. Activity at Etna on 20 July 2019 included (a) ash emission from both NSEC and NEC craters at 0402 seen from Tremestieri Etneo, (b) ash from NSEC and the active flow on the SE flank at 0608 seen from the Monte Cagliato high-resolution camera, (c) ash emission from NSEC at 0700 seen by Tremesteieri Etneo, and (d) explosive activity at NSEC and the lava flow on the W wall of the Valle del Bove at 0700 seen from the Monte Cagliato thermal camera. Courtesy of INGV (Report 30/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 15/07/2019 - 21/07/2019, data emissione 23/07/2019).

Visible and thermal images taken on 24 July 2019 indicated only degassing at BN-1 and BN-2, and limited degassing from low-temperature fumaroles from the multiple vents at VOR (figure 275). After a few days of quiet, NSEC resumed discontinuous ash emissions on 25 July. A sudden increase in the amplitude of volcanic tremor was noted early on 27 July, which was followed a few hours later by the opening of a new eruptive fissure on the S flank of NSEC (figure 276). Explosive activity intensified and produced a dense ash-rich plume that dispersed to the E at an estimated altitude of 4.5-5 km. A thin layer of ash was reported in Giarre, Riposto, and Torre Archirafi. A lava flow emerged from the S portion of the fissure and expanded SW and S. By 1135 the most advanced front had reached and passed the N side of the base of the Barbagallo Mountians at an elevation of about 2,850 m. It continued to spread down into the area between Monte Frumento Supino and the pyroclastic cones of 2002-2003 (figure 277). A series of particularly strong explosions occurred from NSEC around midday, producing an ash plume that rose to 7.5 km altitude. By this time the most advanced lava fronts were located at an elevation of about 2,600 m, but they were rapidly advancing SSW towards Monte Nero, surrounding Monte Frumento Supino from the W. Explosive activity decreased significantly early in the morning on 28 July; flow activity also slowed around the same time. Occasional puffs of reddish-brown ash were noted from NEC during the morning as well. The explosions and the lava effusion ceased on the evening of 28 July. An isolated ash emission from Bocca Nuova in the early hours of 31 July was the last activity reported in July. A substantial SO2 plume (6.59 DU) from the explosions on 27 July had drifted to the E coast of the Adriatic Sea by midday on 28 July and was detected in satellite instruments.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 275. Degassing was the only activity occurring at the multiple vents at Etna's Voragine crater on 24 July 2019. The joined pit crater from the 12 January and 18 April 2019 vents is at the upper left; the newest vent formed 16 June 2019 is at lower left and appears cool in the thermal image inset a. Photo and annotations by S. Branca. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. N° 31/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 22/07/2019 - 28/07/2019, data emissione 30/07/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 276. A new eruptive fissure at Etna opened on the S flank of NSEC on 27 July 2019 (line of red circles). The base map is modified from a 2014 DEM created by Laboratorio di Aerogeofisica-Sezione Roma 2. Black hatch marks indicate the crater rims: BN=Bocca Nuova, with NW BN-1 and SE BN-2; VOR = Voragine; NEC = North East Crater; SEC = South East Crater; NSEC = New South East Crater. Red circles indicate areas with ash emissions and/or Strombolian activity, yellow circles indicate steam and/or gas emissions only. Courtesy of INGV (Report 31/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 22/07/2019 - 28/07/2019, data emissione 30/07/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 277. Lava flows and substantial ash emissions were reported at Etna on 27 July 2019. The lava flow at 1216 was located at about 2,600 m elevation (a). A thermal image of the S flank of NSEC showed the extent of the flow activity (b). A large ash plume formed after several explosions at NSEC at 1221 (c). Thermal images of the emissions were captured by the Montagnola (EMOT) webcam and by an INGV operator (d, e). Photos by S. Branca (a), B. Behncke (c), and E. Pecora (b, e). Courtesy of INGV (Report 31/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 22/07/2019 - 28/07/2019, data emissione 30/07/2019).

Activity during August-September 2019. Activity during August 2019 was focused primarily on the North East Crater (NEC), with occasional ash emissions from Bocca Nuova. The plumes were occasionally dense and dark brown from NEC. Weak emissions of dilute ash from NEC quickly dispersed on the morning of 4 August, followed by more intermittent ash emissions during 6-10 August; a few had significant concentrations of ash that drifted SE. Part of the N rim of NEC collapsed during the explosions of early August (figure 278). During a site inspection to the summit by INGV personnel on 16 August, continuous degassing at Bocca Nuova was interrupted every 10-15 minutes by explosions, but no ejecta was noted. Discontinuous emissions from NEC formed small ash plumes that rose a few hundred meters and remained in the summit area (figure 279). Thermal surveys that day indicated high temperatures of about 800°C along a 10-m-fracture zone on the northern rim of VOR. Ash emissions from NEC were persistent through 20 August when they decreased significantly; a few explosions had dilute ash emissions from Bocca Nuova that day and the next (figure 280). Sulfur dioxide emissions were notable during 19-22 August, drifting S and W hundreds of kilometers before dissipating. Isolated and dilute ash from NEC early on 28 August was interpreted by INGV as resulting from collapses along the inner crater walls. During site inspections on 27, 28, and 30 August, deep explosions from Bocca Nuova were heard, and degassing was observed at all of the summit vents.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 278. Part of the N rim of the NEC crater at Etna collapsed during explosions in early August 2019. In this image from 10 August 2019 the collapsed N wall is shown by white arrows, the old crater rim is the dashed yellow line, and the new rim is the solid yellow line. Photo by Michele Mammino, courtesy of INGV (Report 33/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 05/08/2019 - 11/08/2019, data emissione 13/08/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 279. Discontinuous emissions at Etna on 16 August 2019 from the NEC crater formed small ash plumes that rose a few hundred meters and remained in the summit area (a). Smaller ash plumes remained within the crater (b and c). Courtesy of INGV (Report 34/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 12/08/2019 - 18/08/2019, data emissione 20/08/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 280. In the foreground weak degassing occurs on 21 August 2019 at Etna's BN-2 vent inside Bocca Nuova while a small ash plume in the background rises from NEC. Photo by F. Ciancitto, courtesy of INGV (Report 35/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 19/08/2019 - 25/08/2019, data emissione 27/08/2019).

Activity during September 2019 began with discontinuous and dilute ash emissions from NEC and Bocca Nuova, as well as episodes of Strombolian activity at both vents. This was followed by increased Strombolian activity, ash emissions, and a lava flow at Voragine. Isolated ash emissions occurred at NEC and VOR on 4 and 5 September. Sporadic deep explosions were heard from BN-1 during a site inspection on 7 September. Overnight during 7-8 September the visual webcams recorded incandescence at NEC and pyroclastic ejecta observed outside the crater rim that coincided with increased tremor activity. A more intense episode of Strombolian activity began the following evening at NEC. Activity was continuous from 1800 on 9 September to 0500 on 10 September, and produced dilute ash emissions that quickly dispersed (figure 281). Slight ashfall was reported in Piedimonte Etneo, Giarre-Riposto, and Rifugio Citelli. Continuous puffs of dilute ash were observed beginning at dawn on 11 September with sporadic ejecta again landing outside the crater rim. Significant SO2 plumes were measured by satellite instruments on 10 and 11 September (figure 282).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 281. Activity at Etna overnight during 9-10 September 2019 included Strombolian activity and dilute ash emissions from NEC that were observed from webcams on the S, W, and E flanks. Courtesy of INGV (Report 38/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 09/09/2019 - 15/09/2019, data emissione 17/09/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 282. Significant SO2 plumes from Etna were detected on 10 and 11 September 2019. Increased Strombolian activity was reported by INGV from the NEC crater during 9-11 September. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Center.

In addition to the Strombolian activity at NEC on 12 September, ash emissions began that morning at VOR. They increased in frequency and then transitioned to near-continuous Strombolian activity that produced ejecta which landed in the base of the adjacent Bocca Nuova crater. The explosions from the Strombolian activity were felt in Zafferana Etnea, Aci S. Antonio, Pedara, and neighboring areas. On 13 September the webcams observed multiple periods of continuous ash emissions from NEC and short, intense pulses of ash from VOR that accompanied Strombolian activity; coarse ejecta rose 20 m above and landed outside of the crater rim, producing impact craters on the W side of the summit between VOR and BN. The vent that sourced the Strombolian activity was located in the deepest part of the Voragine crater. By 15 September, continued ejecta had formed a scoria cone around the vent inside VOR (figure 283).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 283. On 13 September 2019 Strombolian activity at Etna's NEC and VOR craters increased (a). INGV personnel observed an ash emission from NEC (b), a Strombolian explosion with ejecta from VOR (c), and impact craters from the ejecta around the rim (d). The continued activity at VOR produced a scoria cone inside the crater that grew noticeably between 13 (e) and 15 (f) September. Photos (a) and (e) courtesy of L. D'Agata, photo (f) by B. Behncke. Courtesy of INGV (Report 38/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 09/09/2019 - 15/09/2019, data emissione 17/09/2019).

Explosive activity inside VOR increased on the afternoon of 18 September 2019. Pyroclastic ejecta and ash erupted from several vents and reached heights of several tens of meters. A lava flow emerged from the W base of the scoria cone and headed S, advancing several hundred meters (figure 284). It then flowed over the saddle that divides VOR and BN, split into two branches, and entered Bocca Nuova. One stream poured into BN-1, and another stopped near the edge of the BN-2 pit crater. By 22 September the flow was cooling, but strong Strombolian activity continued inside Voragine. NEC was characterized by large-scale ash emissions during the end of September, including one in the morning of 27 September that sent a plume over the S flank of Etna before dissipating (figure 285). Strombolian activity continued within Bocca Nuova during the last week of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 284. Significant Strombolian and lava flow activity at Etna affected the Voragine crater on 18 and 19 September 2019. Visible and thermal images of the scoria cone (cono scorie) and lava flow (colata) inside Etna's large Voragine crater on 19 September 2019 (top) were taken from the southern edge of BN. Photo by F. Ciancitto. The bottom images were taken from the SW rim of BN on 18 September (left) by M. Tomasello and (right) 19 September by INGV personnel. Courtesy of INGV (Report 39/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 16/09/2019 - 22/09/2019, data emissione 24/09/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 285. An ash emission from Etna's NEC crater early on 27 September 2019 sent a plume drifting S before dissipating. It was captured by both the high-definition webcam of Bronte (EBVH, left) and the Milo (EMV) webcam. Courtesy of INGV (Report 40/2019, ETNA, Bollettino Settimanale, 23/09/2019 - 29/09/2019, data emissione 01/10/2019).

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

Information Contacts: Sezione di Catania - Osservatorio Etneo, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/it/ ); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Météo-France, 42 Avenue Gaspard Coriolis, F-31057 Toulouse cedex, France (URL: http://www.meteo.fr/aeroweb/info/vaac/).


Ubinas (Peru) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ubinas

Peru

16.355°S, 70.903°W; summit elev. 5672 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash explosions in June-August 2019

Prior to renewed activity in June 2019, the most recent eruptive episode at Ubinas occurred between 13 September 2016 and 2 March 2017, with ash explosions that generated plumes that rose up to 1.5-2 km above the summit crater (BGVN 42:10). The volcano remained relatively quiet between April 2017 and May 2019. This report discusses an eruption that began in June 2019 and continued through at least August 2019. Most of the Information was provided by the Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP), Observatoria Vulcanologico del Sur (IGP-OVS), the Observatorio Volcanológico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico) (OVI-INGEMMET), and the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Activity during June 2019. According to IGP, seismic activity increased suddenly on 18 June 2019 with signals indicating rock fracturing. During 21-24 June, signals indicating fluid movement emerged and, beginning at 0700 on 24 June, webcams recorded ash, gas, and steam plumes rising from the crater. Plumes were visible in satellite images rising to an altitude of 6.1 km and drifting N, NE, and E.

IGP and INGEMMET reported that seismic activity remained elevated during 24-30 June; volcano-tectonic (VT) events averaged 200 per day and signals indicating fluid movement averaged 38 events per day. Emissions of gas, water vapor, and ash rose from the crater and drifted N and NE, based on webcam views and corroborated with satellite data. According to a news article, a plume rose 400 m above the crater rim and drifted 10 km NE. Weather clouds often obscured views of the volcano, but an ash plume was visible in satellite imagery on 24 June 2019 (figure 49). On 27 June the Alert Level was raised to Yellow (second lowest on a 4-level scale).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Sentinel-2 satellite image in natural color showing an ash plume blowing north from Ubinas on 24 June 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during July 2019. IGP reported that seismic activity remained elevated during 1-15 July; VT events averaged 279 per day and long-period (LP) events (indicating fluid movement) averaged 116 events per day. Minor bluish emissions (magmatic gas) rose from the crater. Infrared imagery obtained by Sentinel-2 first showed a hotspot in the summit crater on 4 July.

According to IGP, during 17-19 July, gas-and-ash emissions occasionally rose from Ubinas's summit crater and drifted N, E, and SE. Beginning at 0227 on 19 July, as many as three explosions (two were recorded at 0227 and 0235) generated ash plumes that rose to 5.8 km above the crater rim. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported that, based on satellite images, ash plumes rose to an altitude as high as 12 km. The Alert Level was raised to Orange and the public were warned to stay beyond a 15-km radius. Ash plumes drifted as far as 250 km E and SE, reaching Bolivia. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind, including the towns of Ubinas (6.5 km SSE), Escacha, Anascapa (11 km SE), Tonohaya (7 km SSE), Sacohaya, San Miguel (10 km SE), Huarina, and Matalaque, causing some families to evacuate. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported that during 20-23 July ash plumes rose to an altitude of 7.3-9.5 km and drifted E, ESE, and SE.

IGP reported that activity remained elevated after the 19 July explosions. A total of 1,522 earthquakes, all with magnitudes under 2.2, were recorded during 20-24 July. Explosions were detected at 0718 and 2325 on 22 July, the last ones until 3 September. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported that an ash plume rising to an altitude of 9.4 km. and drifting SE was identified in satellite data at 0040 on 22 July (figure 50). Continuous steam-and-gas emissions with sporadic pulses of ash were visible in webcam views during the rest of the day. Ash emissions near the summit crater were periodically visible on 24 July though often partially hidden by weather clouds. Ash plumes were visible in satellite images rising to an altitude of 7 km. Diffuse ash emissions near the crater were visible on 25 July, and a thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images. During 26-28 July, there were 503 people evacuated from areas affected by ashfall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Image of ash streaming from the summit of Ubinas on 22 July 2019 captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite. Courtesy of NASA's Earth Observatory (Joshua Stevens and Kathryn Hansen).

Activity during August 2019. IGP reported that during 13-19 August blue-colored gas plumes rose to heights of less than 1.5 km above the base of the crater. The number of seismic events was 1,716 (all under M 2.4), a decrease from the total recorded the previous week.

According to IGP, blue-colored gas plumes rose above the crater and eight thermal anomalies were recorded by the MIROVA system during 20-26 August. The number of seismic events was 1,736 (all under M 2.4), and there was an increase in the magnitude and number of hybrid and LP events. Around 1030 on 26 August an ash emission rose less than 2 km above the crater rim. Continuous ash emissions on 27 August were recorded by satellite and webcam images drifting S and SW.

IGP reported that during the week of 27 August, gas-and-water-vapor plumes rose to heights less than 1 km above the summit. The number of seismic events was 2,828 (all under M 2.3), with VT signals being the most numerous. There was a slight increase in the number of LP, hybrid, and VT events compared to the previous week. The Alert Level remained at Orange.

Thermal anomalies. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected a large concentration of anomalies between 19 July until almost the end of August 2019, all of which were of low radiative power (figure 51). Infrared satellite imagery (figure 52) also showed the strong thermal anomaly associated with the explosive activity on 19 July and then the continuing hot spot inside the crater through the end of August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Log radiative power MIROVA plot of MODIS thermal anomalies at Ubinas for the year ending on 4 October 2019. Thermal activity began in the second half of July. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Sentinel-2 satellite images (Atmospheric penetration rendering, bands 12, 11, 8A) showing thermal anomalies during the eruption on 19 July (left) and inside the summit crater on 29 July 2019 (right). A hot spot inside the crater persisted through the end of August. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. A small, 1.4-km-wide caldera cuts the top of Ubinas, Peru's most active volcano, giving it a truncated appearance. It is the northernmost of three young volcanoes located along a regional structural lineament about 50 km behind the main volcanic front of Perú. The growth and destruction of Ubinas I was followed by construction of Ubinas II beginning in the mid-Pleistocene. The upper slopes of the andesitic-to-rhyolitic Ubinas II stratovolcano are composed primarily of andesitic and trachyandesitic lava flows and steepen to nearly 45 degrees. The steep-walled, 150-m-deep summit caldera contains an ash cone with a 500-m-wide funnel-shaped vent that is 200 m deep. Debris-avalanche deposits from the collapse of the SE flank about 3700 years ago extend 10 km from the volcano. Widespread plinian pumice-fall deposits include one of Holocene age about 1000 years ago. Holocene lava flows are visible on the flanks, but historical activity, documented since the 16th century, has consisted of intermittent minor-to-moderate explosive eruptions.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP), Observatoria Vulcanologico del Sur (IGP-OVS), Arequipa Regional Office, Urb La Marina B-19, Cayma, Arequipa, Peru (URL: http://ovs.igp.gob.pe/); Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico), Barrio Magisterial Nro. 2 B-16 Umacollo - Yanahuara Arequipa (URL: http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe); Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Servicio Meteorológico Nacional-Fuerza Aérea Argentina, 25 de mayo 658, Buenos Aires, Argentina (URL: http://www.smn.gov.ar/vaac/buenosaires/inicio.php?lang=es); 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); Instituto Nacional de Defensa Civil Perú (INDECI) (URL: https://www.indeci.gob.pe/); Gobierno Regional de Moquegua (URL: http://www.regionmoquegua.gob.pe/web13/); La Republica (URL: https://larepublica.pe/); NASA Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/).


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

Santa Maria

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Persistent explosions with local ashfall, March-August 2019; frequent lahars during June; increased explosions in early July

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

Activity at Santa Maria continued with little variation from previous months during March-August 2019, except for a short-lived increase in the frequency and intensity of explosions during early July that produced minor pyroclastic flows. Plumes of steam with minor magmatic gases rose continuously from both the S rim of the Caliente crater and from the summit of the growing dome throughout the period. They usually rose 100-700 m above the summit, generally drifting W or SW, and occasionally SE, before dissipating. In addition, daily explosions with varying amounts of ash rose to altitudes of around 2.8-3.5 km and usually extended no more than 25 km before dissipating. Most of the plumes drifted SW or SE; minor ashfall occurred in the adjacent hills almost daily and was reported at the fincas located within 10 km in those directions several times each month. Continued growth of the Caliente lava dome resulted in daily block avalanches descending its flanks to the base of the dome. The MIROVA plot of thermal energy during this time shows a consistent level of heat from early December 2018 through April 2019, very little activity during May and June, and a short-lived spike in activity from late June through early July that coincides with the increase in explosion rate and intensity. Activity decreased later in July and into August (figure 95).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Thermal activity at Santa Maria from 8 December 2018 through August 2019 was similar to previous months. A noticeable decrease in activity occurred during May and early June 2019 with a short-lived spike during late June and early July that corresponded to an increase in explosion rate and intensity during that brief interval. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Explosive activity increased slightly during March 2019 to 474 events from 409 events during February, averaging about 15 per day; the majority of explosions were weak to moderate in strength. The moderate explosions generated small block avalanches daily that sent debris 300 m down the flanks of Caliente dome; the explosions contained low levels of ash and large quantities of steam. Daily activity consisted mostly of degassing around the southern rim of the crater and within the central dome, with plumes rising about 100 m from the S rim, and pulsating between 100-400 m above the central dome, usually white and sometimes blue with gases; steam plumes drifted as far as 10 km. The weak ash emissions resulted in ashfall close to the volcano, primarily to the W and SW in the mountainous areas of El Faro, Patzulín, La Florida, and Monte Bello farms. During mid-March, residents of the villages of Las Marías and El Viejo Palmar, located S of the dome, reported the smell of sulfur. The seismic station STG3 registered 8-23 explosions daily that produced ash plumes which rose to altitudes between 2.7 and 3.3 km altitude. Explosions from the S rim were usually steam rich, while reddish oxidized ash was more common from the NE edge of the growing dome in the summit crater (figure 96). The constant block avalanches were generated by viscous lava slowly emerging from the growing summit dome, and also from the explosive activity. On the steep S flank of Santa Maria, blocks up to 3 m in diameter often produce small plumes of ash and debris as they fall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. Mostly steam rose from the S rim of the Caliente dome at Santa Maria throughout March-August 2019. On 1 March 2019, oxidized reddish ash from the growing dome was also part of the emissions (left). The dome continued to grow, essentially filling the inside of the summit crater of Caliente. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (INFORME MENSUAL DE ACTIVIDAD VOLCÁNICA MARZO 2019, VOLCÁN SANTIAGUITO).

Late on 4 March 2019 an explosion was heard 10 km away that generated incandescence 100 m above the crater and block avalanches that descended to the base of the Caliente dome; it also resulted in ashfall around the perimeter of the volcano. Powerful block avalanches were reported in Santa María creek on 8 March. Ashfall was reported in the villages of San Marcos and Loma Linda Palajunoj on 14 March. Ash plumes on 18 March drifted W and caused ashfall in the villages of Santa María de Jesús and Calaguache. A small amount of ashfall was reported on 26 March around San Marcos Palajunoj. The Washington VAAC reported volcanic ash drifting W from the summit on 8 March at 4.6 km altitude. A small ash plume was visible in satellite imagery moving WSW on 11 March at 4.6 km altitude. On 20 March a plume was detected drifting SW at 3.9 km altitude for a short time before dissipating.

Explosion rates of 10-14 per day were typical for April 2019. Ash plumes rose to 2.7-3.2 km altitude. Block avalanches reached the base of the Caliente dome each day. Steam and gas plumes pulsated 100-400 m above the S rim of the crater (figure 97). Ashfall in the immediate vicinity of the volcano, generally on the W and SW flanks was also a daily feature. The Washington VAAC reported multiple small ash emissions on 2 April moving W and dissipating quickly at 4.9 km altitude. An ash plume from two emissions drifted WSW at 4.3 km altitude on 10 April, and on 22 April two small discrete emissions were observed in satellite images moving SE at 4.6 km altitude. Ashfall was reported on 13 and 14 April in the nearby mountains and areas around Finca San José to the SE. On 15 and 23 April, ash plumes drifted W and ashfall was reported in the area of San Marcos and Loma Lina Palajunoj.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Degassing from the Caliente dome at Santa Maria on 3 April (left, infrared image) and 13 April 2019 (right) produced steam-rich plumes with minor quantities of ash. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo:, Volcán Santiaguito, Semana del 30 de marzo al 05 de abril de 2019).

Constant degassing continued from the S rim of the crater during May 2019 while pulses of steam and gas rose 100-500 m from the dome at the center of the summit crater. Weak to moderate explosions continued at a rate of 8-12 per day. White and gray plumes of steam and ash rose 300-700 m above the crater daily. A moderate-size lahar on 16 May descended the Rio San Isisdro; it was 20 m wide and carried blocks 2 m in diameter. Ashfall was reported on the W flank around the area of San Marcos and Loma Lina Palajunoj on 21 and 24 May. INSIVIUMEH reported on 29 and 30 May that seismic station STG8 recorded moderate lahars descending the Rio San Isidro (a drainage to the Rio Tambor). The thick, pasty lahars transported blocks 1-3 m in diameter, branches, and tree trunks. They were 20 m wide and 1.5-2 m deep.

Weak to moderate explosions continued during June 2019 at a rate of 9-12 per day, producing plumes of ash and steam that rose 300-700 m above the Caliente crater. On 1 June explosions produced ashfall to the E over the areas of Calaguache, Las Marías and other nearby communities. Ash plumes commonly reached 3.0-3.3 km altitude and drifted W and SW, and block avalanches constantly descended the E and SE flanks from the dome at the top of Caliente. Ashfall was reported at the Santa María de Jesús community on 7 June. Ashfall to the W in San Marcos and Loma Linda Palajunoj was reported on 10, 15, 18, 20, and 22 June. Ashfall to the SE in Fincas Monte Claro and El Patrocinio was reported on 26 June. A few of the explosions on 28 June were heard up to 10 km away. On 29 June ash dispersed to the W again over the farms of San Marcos, Monte Claro, and El Patrocinio in the area of Palajunoj; the next day, ash was reported in Loma Linda and finca Monte Bello to the SW. The Washington VAAC reported ash emissions on 29 June that rose to 4.3 km and drifted W; two ash clouds were observed, one was 35 km from Santa Maria and the second drifted 55 km before dissipating.

With the onset of the rainy season, eight lahars were reported during June. The Rio Cabello de Ángel, a tributary of Río Nimá I (which flows into Rio Samalá) on the SE flank experienced lahars on 3, 5, 11, 12, 21, and 30 June (figure 98). The lahars were 15-20 m wide, 1-2 m deep, and carried branches, tree trunks and blocks 1-3 m in diameter. On 12 and 15 June, lahars descended the Río San Isidro on the SW flank. They were 1.5 m deep, 15-20 m wide and carried tree trunks and blocks up to 2 m in diameter.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. Activity at Santa Maria on 12 June 2019 included explosions with abundant ash and lahars. This lahar is in the Rio Nimá I, and started in the Rio Cabello de Ángel. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito, Semana del 08 al 14 de junio de 2019).

An increase in the frequency and intensity of seismic events was noted beginning on 28 June that lasted through 6 July 2019. Explosions occurred at a rate of 5-6 per hour, reaching 40-45 events per day instead of the 12-15 typical of previous months. Ash plumes rose to 3.5-3.8 km altitude and drifted W, SW, and S as far as 10 km, and ashfall was reported in San Marcos Palajunoj, Loma Linda villages, Monte Bello farms, El Faro, La Mosqueta, La Florida, and Monte Claro. Activity decreased after 7 July back to similar levels of the previous months. As a result of the increased activity during the first week of July, several small pyroclastic flows (also known as pyroclastic density currents or PDC's) were generated that traveled up to 1 km down the S, SE, and E flanks during 2-5 and 13 July, in addition to the constant block avalanches from the dome extrusion and explosions (figure 99). As activity levels decreased after 6 July, the ash plume heights lowered to 3.3 km altitude, while pulsating degassing continued from the summit dome, rising 100-500 m.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. An increase in explosive activity at Santa Maria during the first week of July 2019 resulted in several small pyroclastic flows descending the flanks, including one on 3 July 2019 (left). An ash emission on 19 July 2019 rose above the nearby summit of Santa Maria (right). Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (INFORME MENSUAL DE ACTIVIDAD VOLCÁNICA JULIO 2019, VOLCÁN SANTIAGUITO).

The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume on 2 July from a series of emissions that rose to 3.9 km altitude and drifted W. Satellite imagery on 4 July showed a puff of ash moving W from the summit at 4.3 km altitude. The next day an ash emission was observed in satellite imagery moving W at 4.9 km altitude. A plume on 11 July drifted W at 4.3 km for several hours before dissipating. Ashfall was reported on 2 July at the San Marcos farm and in the villages of Monte Claro and El Patrocinio in the Palajunoj area. On 4 and 6 July ash fell to the SW and W in San Marcos and Loma Linda Palajunoj. On 5 July there were reports of ashfall in Monte Claro and areas around San Marcos Palajunoj and some explosions were heard 5 km away. In Monte Claro to the SW ash fell on 7 July and sounds were heard 5 km away every three minutes. Incandescence was observed in the early morning on the SE and NE flanks of the dome. During 8 and 9 July, four to eight weak explosions per hour were noted and ash dispersed SW, especially over Monte Claro; pulsating degassing noises were heard every two minutes. Monte Bello and Loma Linda reported ashfall on 12, 16, 17, 19, and 20 July. On 15, 22, 26, and 29 July ash was reported in San Marcos and Loma Linda Palajunoj; 33 explosions occurred on 25 July. Two lahars were reported on 8 July. A strong one in the Rio San Isidro was more than 2 m deep, and 20-25 m wide with blocks as large as 3 m in diameter. A more moderate lahar affected Rio Cabello de Angel and was also 2 m deep. It was 15-20 m wide and had blocks 1-2 m in diameter.

Activity declined further during August 2019. Constant degassing continued from the S rim of the crater, but only occasional pulses of steam and gas rose from the central dome. Weak to moderate explosions occurred at a rate of 15-20 per day. White and gray plumes with small amounts of ash rose 300-800 m above the summit daily. Block avalanches descended to the base of the dome and sent fine ash particles down the SE and S flanks. Ashfall was common within 5 km of the summit, generally on the SW flank, near Monte Bello farm, Loma Linda village and San Marcos Palajunoj. Explosions rates decreased to 10-11 per day during the last week of the month. Degassing and ash plumes rose to 2.9-3.2 km altitude throughout the month.

On 1 August ash plumes drifted 10-15 km SW, causing ashfall in that direction. On 3 and 27 August ashfall occurred at Monte Claro and El Patrocinio in the Palajunoj area to the SW. On 7 and 31 August ashfall was reported in Monte Claro. San Marcos and Loma Linda Palajunoj reported ash on 11, 16, 19, and 23 August. On 21 August ashfall was reported to the SE around Finca San José. The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery on 10 August 2019 drifting W at 4.3 km altitude a few kilometers from the summit which dissipated quickly. On 27 August a plume was observed 25 km W of the summit at 3.9 km altitude, dissipating rapidly. On 3 August a moderate lahar descended the Rio Cabello de Ángel that was 1 m deep, 15 m wide and carried blocks up to 1 m in diameter along with branches and tree trunks. A large lahar on 20 August descended Río Cabello de Ángel; it was 2-3 m high, 15 m wide and carried blocks 1-2 m diameter, causing erosion along the flanks of the drainage (figure 100).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. A substantial lahar at Santa Maria on 20 August 2019 sent debris down the Río Cabello de Ángel in the vicinity of El Viejo Palmar (left), the spectrogram of the seismic signal lasted for 2 hours and 16 minutes (top right), and the seismograph was saturated with the lahar signal in red (bottom right). Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito, Semana del 17 al 23 de agosto de 2019).

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); 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/); 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).


Stromboli (Italy) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Major explosions on 3 July and 28 August 2019; hiker killed by ejecta

Near-constant fountains of lava at Stromboli have served as a natural beacon in the Tyrrhenian Sea for at least 2,000 years. Eruptive activity at the summit consistently occurs from multiple vents at both a north crater area (N area) and a southern crater group (CS area) on the Terrazza Craterica at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a large scarp that runs from the summit down the NW side of the volcano-island. Periodic lava flows emerge from the vents and flow down the scarp, sometimes reaching the sea; occasional large explosions produce ash plumes and pyroclastic flows. Thermal and visual cameras that monitor activity at the vents are located on the nearby Pizzo Sopra La Fossa, above the Terrazza Craterica, and at multiple locations on the flanks of the volcano. Detailed information for Stromboli is provided by Italy's Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) as well as other satellite sources of data; March-August 2019 is covered in this report.

Typical eruptive activity recorded at Stromboli by INGV during March-June 2019 was similar to activity of the past few years (table 6); two major explosions occurred in July and August with a fatality during the 3 July event. In the north crater area, both vents N1 and N2 emitted fine (ash) ejecta, occasionally mixed with coarser lapilli and bombs; most explosions rose less than 80 m above the vents, some reached 150 m. Average explosion rates ranged from 1 to 12 per hour. In the CS crater area continuous degassing and occasional intense spattering were typical at vent C, vent S1 was a low-intensity incandescent jet throughout the period. Explosions from vent S2 produced 80-150 m high ejecta of ash, lapilli, and bombs at average rates of 2-17 per hour.

After a high-energy explosion and lava flow on 25 June, a major explosion with an ash plume and pyroclastic flow occurred on 3 July 2019; ejecta was responsible for the death of a hiker lower down on the flank and destroyed monitoring equipment near the summit. After the explosion on 3 July, coarse ejecta and multiple lava flows and spatter cones emerged from the N area, and explosion rates increased to 4-19 per hour. At the CS area, lava flows emerged from all the vents and spatter cones formed. Explosion intensity ranged from low to very high with the finer ash ejecta rising over 250 m from the vents and causing ashfall in multiple places on the island. This was followed by about 7 weeks of heightened unrest and lava flows from multiple vents. A second major explosion with an ash plume and pyroclastic flow on 28 August reshaped the summit area yet again and scattered pyroclastic debris over the communities on the SW flank near the ocean.

Table 6. Summary of activity levels at Stromboli, March-August 2019. Low-intensity activity indicates ejecta rising less than 80 m, medium-intensity is ejecta rising less than 150 m, and high-intensity is ejecta rising over 200 m above the vent. Data courtesy of INGV.

Month North (N) Area Activity Central-South (CS) Area Activity
Mar 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2. Coarse-grained ejecta (lapilli and bombs) from N1, fine-grained ash mixed with coarse material from N2. Explosion rates of 3-12 per hour. Medium-intensity explosions from both S area vents, lapilli and bombs mixed with ash, 2-9 explosions per hour.
Apr 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2. Coarse-grained ejecta (lapilli and bombs) from N1, fine-grained ash from N2. Explosion rates of 5-12 per hour. Continuous degassing from C, low-intensity incandescent jets form S1, up to 4 emission points from S2, mostly fine-grained ejecta, 4-15 explosions per hour.
May 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2. Mostly fine-grained ejecta, occasionally mixed with coarser material. Explosion rates of 2-8 per hour. Continuous degassing from C, low-intensity incandescent jets form S1, low- to medium-intensity explosions from C, S1, and S2. Mostly fine-grained ejecta, occasionally mixed with coarser material. Explosion rates of 5-16 per hour.
June 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2. Mostly fine-grained ejecta, occasionally mixed with coarser material. Explosion rates of 1-12 per hour. Continuous degassing at C and sporadic short duration spattering events, low- to medium-intensity incandescent jets at S1, multiple emission points from S2. Ejecta of larger lapilli and bombs mixed with ash. Explosion rates of 2-17 per hour. High-energy explosion on 25 June.
Jul 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions at both N1 and N2. Coarse ejecta after major explosion on 3 July. Intermittent intense spattering. Explosions rates of 4-19 per hour. Lava flows from all vents. Major explosion and pyroclastic flow, 3 July, with fatality from falling ejecta. Lava flows from all vents. Continuous degassing and variable intensity explosions from low to very high (over 200 m). Coarse ejecta until 20 July; followed by mostly ash.
Aug 2019 Low- to medium-intensity explosions from the N area, coarse ejecta and occasional intense spattering. Explosion rates of 7-17 per hour. Lava flows. Low- to high-intensity explosions; ash ejecta over 200 m; ashfall during week 1 in S. Bartolo area, Scari, and Piscità. Major explosion on 28 August, with 4-km-high ash plume and pyroclastic flow; lava flows. Explosion rates of 4-16 per hour.

Thermal activity was low from March through early June 2019 as recorded in the MIROVA Log Radiative Power data from MODIS infrared satellite information. A sharp increase in thermal energy coincided with a large explosion and the emergence of numerous lava flows from the summit beginning in late June (figure 144). High heat-flow continued through the end of August and dropped back down at the beginning of September 2019 after the major 28 August explosion.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 144. Thermal activity at Stromboli was low and intermittent from 12 November 2018 through early June 2019, based on this MIROVA plot of thermal activity through August 2019. A spike in thermal energy in late June coincided with a major explosion on 3 July and the emergence of lava from the summit area. Heightened activity continued from 3 July through 28 August with multiple lava flows emerging from both crater areas. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during March-June 2019. Activity was low during March 2019. Low- to medium-intensity explosions occurred at both vents N1 and N2 in the north area. Ejecta was mostly coarse grained (lapilli and bombs) from N1 and fine-grained ash mixed with some coarse material from N2. Intense spattering activity was reported from N2 on 29 March. Explosion rates were reported at 5-12 per hour. At the CS area, medium-intensity explosions from both south area vents produced lapilli and bombs mixed with ash at a rate of 2-9 explosions per hour.

During a visit to the Terrazza Craterica on 2 April 2019, degassing was visible from vents N1, N2, C, and S2; activity continued at similar levels to March throughout the month. Low- and medium-intensity explosions with coarse ejecta, averaging 3-12 per hour, were typical at vent N1 while low-intensity explosions with fine-grained (ash) ejecta occurred at a similar rate from N2. Continuous degassing was observed at the C vent, and low-intensity incandescent jets were present at S1 throughout the month. Multiple emission points from S2 (as many as 4) produced low- to medium-intensity explosions at rates of 4-14 explosions per hour; the ejecta was mostly fine-grained mixed with some coarse material. Frequent explosions on 19 April produced abundant pyroclastic material in the summit area.

Low to medium levels of explosive activity at all of the vents continued during May 2019. Emissions consisted mostly of ash occasionally mixed with coarser material (lapilli and bombs). Rates of explosion were 2-8 per hour in the north area, and 5-16 per hour in the CS Area. Explosions of low-intensity continued from all the vents during the first part of June at rates averaging 2-12 per hour, although brief periods of high-frequency explosions (more than 21 events per hour) were reported during the week of 10 June. Strong degassing was observed from crater C during an inspection on 12 June (figure 145); by the third week, continuous degassing was interrupted at C by sporadic short-duration spattering events.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 145. The Terrazza Craterica as seen from the Pizzo sopra la Fossa (above, near the summit) at Stromboli on 12 June 2019. In red are the two craters (N1 and N2) of the N crater area, in green is the CS crater area with 2 vents (C1 and C2) in the central crater and S2, the largest and deepest crater in the CS area, also with at least two vents. S1 is hidden by the degassing of crater C. Photograph by Giuseppe Salerno, courtesy of INGV (Report 25/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 10/06/2019-16/06/2019).

Late on 25 June 2019, a high-energy explosion that lasted for 28 seconds affected vent C in the CS area. The ejecta covered a large part of the Terrazza Craterica, with abundant material landing in the Valle della Luna. An ash plume rose over 250 m after the explosion and drifted S. After that, explosion frequency varied from medium-high (17/hour) on 25 June to high (25/hour) on 28 June. On 29 June researchers inspected the summit and noted changes from the explosive events. Thermal imagery indicated that the magma level at N1 was almost at the crater rim. The magma level at N2 was lower and explosive activity was less intense. At vent C, near-constant Strombolian activity with sporadic, more intense explosions produced black ash around the enlarged vent. At vent S2, a pyroclastic cone at the center of the crater produced vertical jets of gas, lapilli, and bombs that exceeded 100 m in height (figure 146).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 146. A high-energy explosion at Stromboli late on 25 June 2019 affected vent C in the CS Area (top row). The ejecta covered a large part of the Terrazza Craterica. An ash plume rose over 250 m after the explosion and drifted S. On 29 June (bottom row) thermal imagery indicated that the magma level at N1 was almost at the crater rim. At vent C, near-constant Strombolian activity was interrupted with sporadic, more intense explosions. At vent S2, a pyroclastic cone at the center of the crater produced vertical jets of gas, lapilli, and bombs that exceeded 100 m in height. Photo 2f by L. Lodato, courtesy of INGV (Rep 27/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 24/06/2019-30/06/2019).

Activity during July 2019. A large explosion accompanied by lava and pyroclastic flows affected the summit and western flank of Stromboli on 3 July 2019. Around 1400 local time an explosion from the CS area generated a lava flow that spilled onto the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco. Just under an hour later several events took place: lava flows emerged from the C vent and headed E, from the N1 and N2 vents and flowed N towards Bastimento, and from vent S2 (figure 147). The emergence of the flows was followed a minute later by two lateral blasts from the CS area, and a major explosion that involved the entire Terrazza Craterica lasted for about one minute (figure 148). Within seconds, the pyroclastic debris had engulfed and destroyed the thermal camera located above the Terrazza Craterica on the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa and sent a plume of debris across the W flank of the island (figure 149). Two seismic stations were also destroyed in the event. The Toulouse VAAC reported a plume composed mostly of SO2 at 9.1 km altitude shortly after the explosion. They noted that ash was present in the vicinity of the volcano, but no significant ashfall was expected. INGV scientists observed the ash plume at 4 km above the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 147. A major eruptive event at Stromboli on 3 July 2019 began with an explosion from the CS area that generated a lava flow at 1359 (left). About 45 minutes later (at 1443:40), lava flows emerged from all of the summit vents (right), followed closely by a major explosion. Courtesy of INGV (Eruzione Stromboli. Comunicato straordinario del 4 luglio 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 148. A major explosion at Stromboli beginning at 1445 on 3 July 2019 was preceded by lava flows from all the summit vents in the previous 60 seconds (top row). This thermal camera (SPT) and other monitoring equipment on the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa above the vents were destroyed in the explosion (bottom row). Courtesy of INGV (Il parossismo dello Stromboli del 3 luglio 2019 e l'attività nei giorni successivi: il punto della situazione al 13 luglio 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 149. The monitoring equipment at Stromboli on the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa above the summit was destroyed in the major explosion of 3 July 2019 (left, photo by F. Ciancitto). Most of the W half of the island was affected by pyroclastic debris after the explosion, including the town of Ginostra (right). Courtesy of INGV (Report 28/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 01/07/2019 - 07/07/2019).

Two pyroclastic flows were produced as a result of the explosions; they traveled down the Sciara and across the water for about 1 km before collapsing into the sea (figure 150). A hiker from Sicily was killed in the eruption and a Brazilian friend who was with him was badly injured, according to a Sicilian news source, ANSA, and the New York Post. They were hit by flying ejecta while hiking in the Punta dei Corvi area, due W of the summit and slightly N of Ginostra, about 100 m above sea level according to INGV. Most of the ejecta from the explosion dispersed to the WSW of the summit. Fallout also ignited vegetation on the slopes which narrowly missed destroying structures in the town. Ejecta blocks and bombs tens of centimeters to meters in diameter were scattered over a large area around the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa and the Valle della Luna in the direction of Ginostra. Smaller material landed in Ginostra and was composed largely of blonde pumice, that floated in the bay (figure 151). The breccia front of the lava flows produced incandescent blocks that reached the coastline. High on the SE flank, the abundant spatter of hot pyroclastic ejecta coalesced into a flow that moved 200-300 m down the flank before cooling, crossing the path normally used by visitors to the summit (figure 152).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 150. At the time of the major explosion of Stromboli on 3 July 2019 people on a German ship located about 2 km off the northern coast captured several images of the event. (a) Two pyroclastic flows traveled down the Sciara del Fuoco and spread over the sea up to about 1 km from the coast. (b) The eruption column was observed rising several kilometers above the summit as debris descended the Sciara del Fuoco. (c) Fires on the NW flank were started by incandescent pyroclastic debris. The photos were taken by Egon Karcher and used with permission of the author by INGV. Courtesy of INGV (Il parossismo dello Stromboli del 3 luglio 2019 e l'attività nei giorni successivi: il punto della situazione al 13 luglio 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 151. Pumice filled the harbor on 4 July 2019 (left) and was still on roofs (right) on 7 July 2019 in the small port of Ginostra on the SW flank of Stromboli after the large explosion on 3 July 2019. Photos by Gianfilippo De Astis, courtesy of INGV (Il parossismo dello Stromboli del 3 luglio 2019 e l'attività nei giorni successivi: il punto della situazione al 13 luglio 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 152. A small lava flow high on the SE flank of Stromboli formed during the 3 July 2019 event from abundant spatter of hot pyroclastic ejecta that coalesced into a flow and moved 200-300 m down the flank before cooling, crossing the path normally used by visitors to the summit. Photo by Boris Behncke taken on 9 July 2019, courtesy of INGV (Il parossismo dello Stromboli del 3 luglio 2019 e l'attività nei giorni successivi: il punto della situazione al 13 luglio 2019).

INGV scientists inspected the summit on 4 and 5 July 2019 and noted that the rim of the Terrazza Craterica facing the Sciara del Fuoco in both the S and N areas had been destroyed, but the crater edge near the central area was not affected. In addition, the N area appeared significantly enlarged and deepened, forming a single crater where the former N1 and N2 vents had been located; an incandescent jet was active in the CS area (figure 153). Explosive activity declined significantly after the major explosions, although moderate overflows of lava continued from multiple vents, especially the CS area where the flows traveled about halfway down the southern part of the Sciara del Fuoco; lava also flowed E towards Rina Grande (about 0.5 km E of the summit). The main lava flows active between 3 and 4 July produced a small lava field along the Sciara del Fuoco which flowed down to an elevation of 210 m in four flows along the S edge of the scarp (figure 154). Additional block avalanches rolled to the coastline.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 153. The summit craters of Stromboli were significantly altered during the explosive event of 3 July 2019. The rim of the Terrazza Craterica facing the Sciara del Fuoco in both the CS and N areas was destroyed, but the crater edge near the CS area was not affected. In addition, the N area was significantly enlarged and deepened, forming a single crater where the former N1 and N2 vents had been located; an incandescent jet was active in the CS area. Courtesy of INGV (Report 28/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 01/07/2019 - 07/07/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 154. The main lava flows active between 3 and 4 July at Stromboli after the major explosion on 3 July 2019 produced a small lava field along the Sciara del Fuoco. Left: Aerial photo taken by Stefano Branca (INGV-OE) on 5 July; the yellow arrow shows a small overflow from the N crater area, the red arrow shows the largest overflow from the CS crater area. Right: Flows from the CS area traveled down to an elevation of 210 m in four flows along the S edge of the scarp. Additional block avalanches rolled to the coastline. Right photo by Francesco Ciancitto taken on 5 July 2019. Courtesy of INGV (Il parossismo dello Stromboli del 3 luglio 2019 e l'attività nei giorni successivi: il punto della situazione al 13 luglio 2019).

During the second week of July lava flows continued; on 8 July volcanologists reported two small lava flows from the CS area flowing towards the Sciara del Fuoco. A third flow was noted the following day. The farthest flow front was at about 500 m elevation on 10 July, and the flow at the center of the Sciara del Fuoco was at about 680 m. An overflow from the N area during the evening of 12 July produced two small flows that remained high on the N side of the scarp; lava continued flowing from the CS area into the next day. A new flow from the N area late on 14 July traveled down the N part of the scarp (figure 155).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 155. During the second week of July 2019 lava flows at Stromboli continued from both crater areas. Top left: Lava flows from the CS area flowed down the Sciara on 9 July while Strombolian activity continued at the summit, photo by P. Anghemo, mountain guide. Bottom left: A lava flow from the CS area at Stromboli is viewed from Punta dei Corvi during the night of 12-13 July 2019. Photo by Francesco Ciancitto. Right: The active flows on 10 July (in red) were much closer to the summit crater than they had been during 3-4 July (in yellow). Courtesy of INGV, top left and right photos published in Report 29/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 08/07/2019 - 14/07/2019; bottom left photo published in 'Il parossismo dello Stromboli del 3 luglio 2019 e l'attività nei giorni successivi: il punto della situazione al 13 luglio 2019'.

A new video station with a thermal camera was installed at Punta dei Corvi, a short distance N of Ginostra on the SW coast, during 17-20 July 2019. During the third week of July lava continued to flow from the CS crater area onto the southern part of the Sciara del Fuoco, but the active flow area remained on the upper part of the scarp; block avalanches continuously rolled down to the coastline (figure 156). During visits to the summit area on 26 July and 1 August activity at the Terrazza Craterica was observed by INGV scientists. There were at least six active vents in the N area, including a scoria cone and an intensely spattering hornito; the other vents were ejecting coarse material in jets of Strombolian activity. In the CS area, a large scoria cone was clearly visible from the Pizzo, with two active vents generating medium- to high-intensity explosions rich in volcanic ash mixed with coarse ejecta (figures 157 and 158). Some of the finer-grained material in the jets reached 200 m above the vents. A second smaller cone in the CS area faced the southernmost part of the Sciara del Fuoco and produced sporadic low-intensity "bubble explosions." Effusive activity decreased during the last week of July; the active lava front was located at about 600 m elevation. Blocks continued to roll down the scarp, mostly from the explosive activity, and were visible from Punta dei Corvi.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 156. Lava continued to flow from the CS area at Stromboli during the third week of July 2019, although the active flow area remained near the top of the scarp. Block avalanches continued to travel down the scarp. Image taken by di Francesco Ciancitto from Punta dei Corvi on 19 July 2019. Courtesy of INGV (Report 30/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 15/07/2019 - 21/07/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 157. Thermal and visible images of Terrazza Craterica at the summit of Stromboli from the Pizzo Sopra La Fossa on 1 August 2019 showed significant changes since the major explosion on 3 July 2019. A large scoria cone was present in the CS area (left) and at least six vents from multiple cones were active in the N area (right). The active lava flow 'Trabocco Lavico' emerged from the southernmost part of the CS area (far left). Courtesy if INGV (Report 32/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 29/07/2019 - 04/08/2019.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 158. At the summit of Stromboli on 1 August 2019 two active vents inside a large cone in the CS area generated medium- to high-intensity explosions rich in volcanic ash mixed with coarse ejecta (left). There were at least six active vents in the N area (right), including a scoria cone and an intensely spattering hornito; the other vents were ejecting coarse material in jets of Strombolian activity. Courtesy of INGV (Report 32/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 29/07/2019 - 04/08/2019).

Activity during August 2019. A small overflow of lava on 4 August 2019 from the N area lasted for about 20 minutes and formed a flow that went a few hundred meters down the Sciara del Fuoco. Observations made at the summit on 7 and 8 August 2019 indicated that nine vents were active in the N crater area, three of which had scoria cones built around them (figure 159). They all produced low- to medium-intensity Strombolian activity. In the CS area, a large scoria cone was visible from the summit that generated medium- to high-intensity explosions rich in volcanic ash, which sometimes rose more than 200 m above the vent. Lava overflowing from the CS area on 8 August was confined to the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco, at an elevation between 500 and 600 m (figure 160). Occasional block avalanches from the active lava fronts traveled down the scarp. Ashfall was reported in the S. Bartolo area, Scari, and Piscità during the first week of August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 159. Nine vents were active in the N crater area of Stromboli on 7 August 2019, three of which had scoria cones built around them. They all produced low- to medium-intensity Strombolian activity (top). In the CS area (bottom), a large scoria cone was visible from the summit that generated medium- to high-intensity explosions rich in volcanic ash, which sometimes rose more than 200 m above the vent. Visible images taken by S. Consoli, thermal images taken by S. Branca. Courtesy of INGV (Report 33/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 05/08/2019 - 11/08/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 160. Multiple Lava flows were still active on the Sciara del Fuoco at Stromboli on 7 August 2019. Top images by INGV personnel S Branca and S. Consoli, lower images by A. Di Pietro volcanological guide. Courtesy of INGV (Report 33/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 05/08/2019 - 11/08/2019).

Drone surveys on 13 and 14 August 2019 confirmed that sustained Strombolian activity continued both in the N area and the CS area. Lava flows continued from two vents in the CS area; they ceased briefly on 16 and 17 August but resumed on the 18th, with the lava fronts reaching 500-600 m elevation (figure 161). A fracture field located in the southern part of the Sciara del Fuoco was first identified in drone imagery on 9 July. Repeated surveys through mid-August indicated that about ten fractures were identifiable trending approximately N-S and ranged in length from 2.5 to 21 m; they did not change significantly during the period. An overflight on 23 August identified the main areas of activity at the summit. A NE-SW alignment of 13 vents within the N area was located along the crater edge that overlooks the Sciara del Fuoco. At the CS area, the large scoria cone had two active vents, there was a pit crater, and two smaller scoria cones. A 50-m-long lava tube emerged from one of the smaller lava cones and fed two small flows that emerged at the top of the Sciara del Fuoco (figure 162).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 161. Detail of a vent at Stromboli on 14 August 2019 located in the SW part of the Sciara del Fuoco at an elevation of 730 m. Flow is tens of meters long. Courtesy of INGV (COMUNICATO DI DETTAGLIO STROMBOLI del 20190816 ORE 17:05 LT).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 162. Thermal and visual imagery of the summit of Stromboli on 23 August 2019 revealed a NE-SW alignment of 13 vents within the N area located along the crater edge that overlooks the Sciara del Fuoco. At the CS area, the large scoria cone had two active vents (1 and 2), there was a pit crater (3), and two smaller scoria cones (4). A 50-m-long lava tube formed from one of the smaller lava cones (5) and fed two small flows that emerged at the top of the Sciara del Fuoco. Photos by L. Lodato and S. Branca, courtesy of INGV (Report 35/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 19/08/2019 - 25/08/2019).

INGV reported a strong explosion from the CS area at 1217 (local time) on 28 August 2019. Ejecta covered the Terrazza Craterica and sent debris rolling down the Sciara del Fuoco to the coastline. A strong seismic signal was recorded, and a large ash plume rose more than 2 km above the summit (figure 163). The Toulouse VAAC reported the ash plume at 3.7-4.6 km altitude, moving E and rapidly dissipating, shortly after the event. Once again, a pyroclastic flow traveled down the Sciara and several hundred meters out to sea (figures 164). The entire summit was covered with debris. The complex of small scoria cones within the N area that had formed since the 3 July explosion was destroyed; part of the N area crater rim was also destroyed allowing lava to flow down the Sciara where it reached the coastline by early evening.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 163. A major explosion at Stromboli on 28 August 2019 produced a high ash plume and a pyroclastic flow. The seismic trace from the STR4 station (top left) indicated a major event. The ash plume from the explosion was reported to be more than 2 km high (right). The thermal camera located at Stromboli's Punta dei Corvi on the southern edge of the Sciara del Fuoco captured both the pyroclastic flow and the ash plume produced in the explosion (bottom left). Seismogram and thermal image courtesy of INGV (INGVvulcani blog, 30 AGOSTO 2019INGVVULCANI, Nuovo parossismo a Stromboli, 28 agosto 2019). Photo by Teresa Grillo (University of Rome) Courtesy of AIV - Associazione Italiana di Vulcanologia.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 164. A pyroclastic flow at Stromboli traveled across the sea off the W flank for several hundred meters on 28 August 2019 after a major explosion at the summit. Photo by Alberto Lunardi, courtesy of INGV (5 SETTEMBRE 2019INGVVULCANI, Quando un flusso piroclastico scorre sul mare: esempi a Stromboli e altri vulcani).

At 1923 UTC on 29 August a lava flow was reported emerging from the N area onto the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco; it stopped at mid-elevation on the slope. About 90 minutes later, an explosive sequence from the CS area resulted in the fallout of pyroclastic debris around Ginostra. Shortly after midnight, a lava flow from the CS area traveled down the scarp and reached the coast by dawn, but the lava entry into the sea only lasted for a short time (figure 165).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 165. Lava flows continued for a few days after the major explosion of 28 August 2019 at Stromboli. Left: A lava flow emerged from the N crater area on 29 August 2019 and traveled a short distance down the Sciara del Fuoco. Incandescent blocks from the flow front reached the ocean. Photo by A. DiPietro. Right: A lava flow that emerged from the CS crater area around midnight on 30 August 2019 made it to the ocean around dawn, as seen from the N ridge of the Sciara del Fuoco at an altitude of 400 m. Photo by Alessandro La Spina. Both courtesy of INGV. Left image from 'COMUNICATO DI ATTIVITA' VULCANICA del 2019-08-29 22:20:06(UTC) – STROMBOLI', right image from INGVvulcani blog, 30 AGOSTO 2019 INGVVULCANI, 'Nuovo parossismo a Stromboli, 28 agosto 2019'.

An overflight on 30 August 2019 revealed that after the explosions of 28-29 August the N area had collapsed and now contained an explosive vent producing Strombolian activity and two smaller vents with low-intensity explosive activity. In the CS area, Strombolian activity occurred at a single large crater (figure 166). INGV reported an explosion frequency of about 32 events per hour during 31 August-1 September. The TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite captured small but distinct SO2 plumes from Stromboli during 28 August-1 September, even though they were challenging to distinguish from the larger signal originating at Etna (figure 167).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 166. A 30 August 2019 overflight of Stromboli revealed that after the explosions of 28-29 August the N area had collapsed and now contained a single explosive vent producing Strombolian activity and two smaller vents with low intensity explosive activity. In the CS area, a single large crater remained with moderate Strombolian activity. No new lava flows appeared on the Sciara del Fuoco, only cooling from the existing flows was evident. Courtesy of INGV (Report 35.6/2019, Stromboli, Daily Bulletin of 08/31/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 167. Small but distinct SO2 signals were recorded from Stromboli during 28 August through 1 September 2019; they were sometimes difficult to discern from the larger signal originating at nearby Etna. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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

Information Contacts: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy, (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/en/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); 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/); Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Météo-France, 42 Avenue Gaspard Coriolis, F-31057 Toulouse cedex, France (URL: http://www.meteo.fr/aeroweb/info/vaac/); AIV, Associazione Italiana di Vulcanologia (URL: https://www.facebook.com/aivulc/photos/a.459897477519939/1267357436773935; ANSA.it, (URL: http://www.ansa.it/sicilia/notizie/2019/07/03/-stromboli-esplosioni-da-cratere-turisti-in-mare); The New York Post, (URL: https://nypost.com/2019/07/03/dozens-of-people-dive-into-sea-to-escape-stromboli-volcano-eruption-in-italy/).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 23, Number 09 (September 1998)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Ambrym (Vanuatu)

Long-active lava lake continues to hold bubbling lava

Azul, Cerro (Ecuador)

Flank and caldera eruptions continue

Colima (Mexico)

Explosion on 6 July follows seven months of seismic unrest

Etna (Italy)

Summary of summit eruptive activity during August 1997-January 1998

Fournaise, Piton de la (France)

Activity ends with fissure eruptions outside the caldera

Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador)

Phreatic discharges and shallow, near-vent seismicity continue

Hokkaido-Komagatake (Japan)

Phreatic eruption spreads ash 25 October

Iwatesan (Japan)

Nearby M 6.2 earthquake on 3 September, but volcano still slumbering

Klyuchevskoy (Russia)

Explosions, ash 2-3 September raise concern to yellow alert

Lengai, Ol Doinyo (Tanzania)

New cones, vigorous activity since February

Masaya (Nicaragua)

Integrated scientific studies of the caldera area

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

Several episodes of ash emission during September

Sete Cidades (Portugal)

Seismic swarm on submarine flank

Sheveluch (Russia)

Ash explosions and pyroclastic flow during 3 September

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Continuing decrease in activity; hazards reassessed

Yasur (Vanuatu)

Ongoing eruption, felt earthquake, and fresh glass chemical analysis



Ambrym (Vanuatu) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambrym

Vanuatu

16.25°S, 168.12°E; summit elev. 1334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Long-active lava lake continues to hold bubbling lava

This long-active caldera was visited by John Seach during 4-7 September 1998. At Niri Mbwelesu Taten, a small collapse pit, strong degassing was observed as well as yellow sulfurous deposits on the NW wall. During the night, degassing was heard from a distance of 4 km and white vapor tinged with blue was constantly emitted from the pit.

Niri Mbelesu crater was constantly full of vapor resulting in poor visibility. But bubbling lava was heard and at night the clouds reflected a red glow from the crater.

At Mbwelesu crater, an active elongated lava lake (~100 x 30 m) was observed. The larger explosions threw lava high into the air and onto the crater wall. To the east of the lava lake a smaller elongated vent contained lava. On the NW wall of the crater was a circular vent 20 m in diameter from which no lava was extruded.

Benbow crater was climbed from the S. The sound of bubbling lava was heard but not observed, and there was a very intense night glow.

Geologic Background. Ambrym, a large basaltic volcano with a 12-km-wide caldera, is one of the most active volcanoes of the New Hebrides arc. A thick, almost exclusively pyroclastic sequence, initially dacitic, then basaltic, overlies lava flows of a pre-caldera shield volcano. The caldera was formed during a major plinian eruption with dacitic pyroclastic flows about 1900 years ago. Post-caldera eruptions, primarily from Marum and Benbow cones, have partially filled the caldera floor and produced lava flows that ponded on the caldera floor or overflowed through gaps in the caldera rim. Post-caldera eruptions have also formed a series of scoria cones and maars along a fissure system oriented ENE-WSW. Eruptions have apparently occurred almost yearly during historical time from cones within the caldera or from flank vents. However, from 1850 to 1950, reporting was mostly limited to extra-caldera eruptions that would have affected local populations.

Information Contacts: John Seach, P.O. Box 16, Chatsworth Island, N.S.W. 2469, Australia.


Cerro Azul (Ecuador) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Cerro Azul

Ecuador

0.92°S, 91.408°W; summit elev. 1640 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Flank and caldera eruptions continue

This eruption began between 1229 and 1304 on 15 September (BGVN 23:08). The event was first recognized by University of Hawaii scientists monitoring thermal images from the GOES-8 geostationary satellite. A dominant plume reaching over 150 km SW developed between 1345 and 1545 on 15 September, and a minor plume trended NW carried by the prevailing surface winds. Overflights revealed two new vents in the summit caldera, and a flank fissure eruption 8 km SE of the caldera (figure 1).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Photograph of the S part of Isabela Island, taken from the Space Shuttle in 1983, showing the site of the September 1998 flank eruption. Puerto Villamil and the scientific station at Tomas de Berlanga (or Santo Tomas) are the only inhabited locations on the island. White zones over the island are clouds. Courtesy of the GOES Hotspot Monitoring System.

The first scientists reaching the volcano were from Ecuador's Instituto Geofísico-Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN) and ORSTOM. They described the flank eruption site as a SE-directed radial fissure, 400-500 m long, and between 680 and 630 m elevation. Lava fountaining (to ~200 m) built an elongate cinder cone 50 m high during the team's 19-25 September observations. The main cone was breeched on the E, issuing flows that traveled over 8 km E before turning S toward the sea. During the night of 24-25 September a break in the main cone fed a new flow to the SE. All were 3-5-m-thick aa flows, and the longest ended 2 km from the coast.

University of Idaho graduate student Rachel Ellisor arrived on the night of 22 September, and described additional details of the flank eruption, including a smaller cone (NW of the main cone) with low fountains feeding a flow moving more directly S toward the sea. This flow was sampled daily; its velocity ranged from 0.001 to 10-20 km/hour and its thickness was described as 2-3 m at the front but 10-12 m in the interior. Gas clouds billowed from the fissure's SE end, and fountains issued from the main vent.

Ellisor took a 1 October overflight and described the intracaldera flows. One issued from a small vent (20-30 m high) on the S bench and flowed NW onto the caldera floor, while a larger cone (~60 m high) on the W caldera floor fed flows eastward into the shallow lake. Intracaldera activity had ended by 1 October.

Returning to the flank eruption, Ellisor reported that three large cones (60-80 m high) had been built in a N-S orientation. The mid-September flows (to the E, then S) had stagnated on the coastal flats, and their thickness was estimated at 5-15 m (interior) to 1-3 m (fronts). Increased activity on 6 October fed new flows building a channel system directly S of the main fissure. Ellisor's most recent report was dated 13 October, but GOES-8 images showed a thermal anomaly continuing through 4 November, the eruption's 51st day.

During 19-25 September, scientists from IG-EPN and ORSTOM installed three digital and one analog seismic station between the coast and the active vent. The distance between end stations was 8.5 km. Seismic signals registered during the study were composed of permanent tremor with an amplitude of 20 µm/s (2.4 km from the vent) and with a dominant frequency of 1.6 Hz. No rock-fall or long-period events were registered. One station 4 km from the vent continued working after the group returned to Quito.

Geologic Background. Located at the SW tip of the J-shaped Isabela Island, Cerro Azul contains a steep-walled 4 x 5 km nested summit caldera complex that is one of the smallest diameter, but at 650 m one of the deepest in the Galápagos Islands. The shield volcano is the second highest of the archipelago. A conspicuous bench occupies the SW and west sides of the caldera, which formed during several episodes of collapse. Youthful lava flows cover much of the caldera floor, which has also contained ephemeral lakes. A prominent tuff cone located at the ENE side of the caldera is evidence of episodic hydrovolcanism. Numerous spatter cones dot the western flanks. Fresh-looking lava flows, many erupted from circumferential fissures, descend the NE and NW flanks. Historical eruptions date back only to 1932, but Cerro Azul has been one of the most active Galápagos volcanoes since that time. Solfataric activity continues within the caldera.

Information Contacts: P. Samaniego, F. Desmulier, J.P. Metaxian, M. Ruiz, and M. Vaca, Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, AP 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador; ORSTOM (L'Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération), AP 17-11-6596, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.ird.fr/); Rachel Ellisor and Dennis Geist, Dept. of Geology and Geological Engineering, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83843 USA (URL: https://www.uidaho.edu/sci/geology/); Peter Mouginis-Mark and Luke Flynn, GOES Hotspot Monitoring System, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawaii, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).


Colima (Mexico) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Colima

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosion on 6 July follows seven months of seismic unrest

After seven months of seismic unrest (small swarms, with durations lasting some few hours to as much as 90 hours), at 1858 on 6 July an explosion at the summit dome was similar in behavior and about half of the magnitude of an explosion in 1994.

A microbarograph 8 km SW of the summit at La Yerbabuena failed to register the explosion's shock wave, and the events were not noticed by residents of that settlement or La Becerrera (12 km SW of the summit), nor were these effects noticed by rangers at Rancho El Jabali (12 km SSW of the summit). Residents did report light rain and a bit of thunder and lightning at 1900, which may have helped conceal, or have been confused with, the sound of the explosion.

Seen through a microscope, plant leaves contained ash residue left after rainfall: mineral particles and hydrothermally altered rock fragments under 0.5 mm in diameter, often of light cream color, and similar to those collected at Yerbabuena after the 1994 explosion.

Melchor Ursua of the Civil Defense reported that at 1900 residents of Tonila (13.5 km SE of the summit) observed a small black mushroom cloud rise above the summit accompanied by the sound of thunder or explosion. At 2300 that day from La Yerbabuena, observers Navarro, Breton, and Santaana saw fumarolic gases blown around the W face of the volcano, but in the faint moonlight he failed to discern any glow or ash from the crater.

The last seismic crisis started around 2200 on 2 July 1998 and ended at 1858 on 6 July: a vigorous swarm of earthquakes, which according to Gabriel Reyes comprised ~1,000 events a day for the last 3 days. One event with coda magnitude (Mc) 3.5-4.0 gained registry at all network stations including those near the coast at Tecoman and Armeria; it was interpreted as related to the above-discussed explosion. The seismic quiet afterwards consisted of zero events in a pattern reminiscent of 1994 when quiet prevailed for about 12 hours.

Noteworthy swarms during 1997 occurred on 20 March, 16, 21, and 30 June, 28 November, and 5 December. Compared to the 1997 swarms, this one (2-6 July 1998) was the largest and most energetic.

During the latest swarm the volcano was only visible from 0800 to 1000. After 160 mm of rain had fallen at La Yerbabuena, a lahar swept downslope between 1400 and 1800 on 2 July, blocking passage across the Becerrera River valley 12.5 km SW of the summit.

During 1900-2000 on 7 July, the seismic station closest to the W flank (SOMA, 1.7 km NW from the summit) registered strong, continuous mass wasting and later, during 2200-2300, a relatively strong volcanic event. Seismic quiet returned later, but vigorous fumarolic emissions were blown W. An update on 28 October noted that for a few weeks after the explosion the volcano displayed unrest, including about 23 seismic swarms, each enduring for 2 to 6-8 hours. All the seismic information was provided by the Colima seismic network (RESCO). The last swarm occurred on 25 October and prevailed for 13 hours.

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

Information Contacts: Carlos Navarro Ochoa, Colima Volcano Observatory, Universidad de Colima, Ave. 25 de Julio 965, Colima 28045, Colima, México.


Etna (Italy) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Summary of summit eruptive activity during August 1997-January 1998

The following report summarizes activity observed at each of the four summit craters of Etna from August 1997 through 15 January 1998. Events through 8 January 1998 at Bocca Nuova, Southeast Crater, Northeast Crater, and Voragine are described below separately. A seismic crisis during 9-12 January was followed by a brief decrease in activity at all of the craters. Significant eruptive episodes after mid-January 1998 will be described in future issues.

Information for this report was compiled by Boris Behncke at the University of Catania and published on his internet web site. The compilation was based on personal visits to the summit, telescopic observations from Catania, monitoring of images posted on the internet from the camera maintained by the Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia (IIV), and other sources.

Visits to the summit craters in late September and early October 1997 revealed continuing vigorous activity from Bocca Nuova and Southeast Crater while more sporadic activity was occurring at the Voragine and Northeast Crater. This pattern continued through November and December. The overall activity on 8 January 1998 at Bocca Nuova, Northeast Crater, and Voragine was notably diminished; it was the lowest observed in six months.

Activity at Bocca Nuova. During late August, lava ejections from Bocca Nuova (BN) became significantly more vigorous. Both eruptive centers in this crater often ejected lava bombs outside the crater, with many falling on its S rim. Occasional explosions ejected bombs on the lower S flank of the central cone. The number of active vents in Bocca Nuova increased to seven on 28 August, but was down to five just two days later. The bombardment and explosions led to collapse on the E side of Bocca Nuova, lowering the septum between BN and Voragine (informally named "diaframma" among local volcanologists), and eroding the remains of a 1964 cone.

Visits to the summit in late September and early October revealed continuing activity. As of 14 October, Bocca Nuova's activity was gradually increasing, and the crater was being filled in. The northern of its two eruptive centers had a broad cone with a crater 50-100 m wide, which at times was completely filled with fountaining lava. Fountains often sent spatter and bombs high above the rim, and large ejecta fell outside the crater up to 100 m away. Bombs as large as 40 cm in diameter fell onto the area where the best views of the erupting cone in BN are obtained. Explosions in the SE eruptive center at times sent pyroclastic material all over the S flank of Etna's summit cone.

On 6 November the northern eruptive center was vigorously active. The cone at that site had grown to ~50 m below the NW crater rim. The SE eruptive center was much less violent than in previous months; on the crater wall above it a large overhanging hollow had been carved out by explosions. On the evening of 6 November, Strombolian explosions occurred at intervals of 1-5 seconds, with some jets rising up to 200 m above the cone's summit. An episode of spectacular lava fountaining from BN occurred on 25 November when huge bursts of incandescent bombs developed into a continuous fountain from the SE eruptive center. On 28 November the clouds over the mountain cleared, permitting the view of a huge vapor column rising almost vertically to about 1,500 m above the summit. This unusually large plume was due to an approaching cold front that led to increased condensation.

Explosive activity and gas emissions within BN accompanied a lava flow from Southeast Crater during 9-11 December. Intermittent activity on 12 December, stronger than during the previous 17 days, ejected high bursts of incandescent bombs from BN's southeastern vents. Activity through 15 December was very vigorous, and eruptions continued through 21 December. Glow was visible above BN's two eruptive centers on 26 December and over the E part of the crater on 31 December.

On the evening of 7 January, several jets of incandescent bombs rose over the SE crater lip, and a few bombs fell onto the remains of the 1964 cone. As of 8 January the large cone in the N part of the crater floor had partially collapsed, creating a crater ~150 m in diameter. Frequent rockfalls occurred within this crater. Subsidence of the cone and the adjacent crater floor had created a set of circumferential fractures several meters wide. The most recent activity at this eruptive center appears to have been the extrusion of a lava flow that covered the E and SE sides of the BN floor. The vents at the SE eruptive center were the site of weak Strombolian explosions every 10-15 minutes. Most, if not all, activity occurred from the lowermost vent in the SW part of the eruptive center. A complex cone around these vents had grown notably since the visit on 6 November 1997, with the rim of the highest vent being at about the same elevation as the N rim of Bocca Nuova. Large parts of the crater wall above the SE eruptive center had collapsed, probably before the most recent cone growth (all collapse debris was buried).

Activity at Southeast Crater. Strombolian and effusive activity continued from Southeast Crater (SEC), whose intracrater cone could be seen on 1 September through a gap in the NE crater rim from coastal areas to the E. During a visit on 30 August, lava fountains rose up to 150 m above the cone, and three vents were active. There had been significant infilling of the deep southern part of SEC since effusive activity shifted to the cone's NW flank sometime before 11 August. Before then, lava had repeatedly spilled onto the SE flank of the cone.

Visits to the summit craters in late September and early October revealed continuing vigorous activity. While effusive vents were active on the W base of the cone from 10 August to mid-September, lava again issued from E-flank vents in late September, causing renewed overflows onto the outer SW flank of the cone. By mid-October the cone within SEC had grown to about the height of the highest point on the crater rim. Explosive activity was the same as during previous months, and lava effusion continued from the flanks of the cone.

At dusk on 2 November there were continuous Strombolian bursts from SEC. A visit on 6 November revealed very weak and erratic Strombolian activity. For the first time in many months there was no lava effusion at SEC, although guides at Torre del Filosofo reported that a small lava flow had spilled over the low SE rim of the crater three days earlier. After sunset on 6 November, Strombolian bursts from SEC could be seen from Catania (Palazzo delle Scienze).

Telescope observations from the roof of the Palazzo delle Scienze in Catania on 3-4 December revealed vigorous Strombolian activity at SEC and significant growth of its central conelet, which stood much higher than the surrounding crater rims. Activity on the evening of 5 December was documented with the IIV camera until bad weather hid the summit. At dusk, activity at SEC increased, and strong explosions heralded lava emission to the NE side of the intracrater cone. A more significant lava flow was erupted from SEC on the late afternoon of 9 December, accompanied by vigorous explosive activity at the intracrater cone and within Bocca Nuova. The SEC lava flow overrode previous flows on the SE flank of the cone.

The 9 December lava flow was visible on 11 December, contrasting against freshly fallen snow. Seen from Palazzo delle Scienze, this flow extended much farther downslope than previous flows on the SE flank of the cone, but its front was still several hundred meters from the steep W flank of Valle del Bove. The flow had apparently stopped (no steam was visible at the contact of the lava with the snow). Two smaller lava lobes were erupted onto the SE flank of SEC's cone, about two-thirds of the way down the cone's flank. The active central cone appeared to have lost some height during the strong explosions; Strombolian activity was still vigorous and at times accompanied by weak ash emissions. Vigorous activity at SEC, with some large explosions, continued during 12-15 December, with lava flows spilling over the SE rim and some SE-flank lava extending far beyond the base of the cone. The new flow passed only about 600 meters NE from the Torre del Filosofo mountain hut, ~1 km from SEC. As of 17 December the lava flows erupted from SEC during the previous few days were still confined to the SE flank of the cone. None of the new flows had extended as far as those on 9 and 12-13 December. Over 20-21 December, nearly continuous explosive activity at the SEC intracrater cone sent lava onto its SE and SSE flanks. The cone regained the height lost after 5 December. A 22 December afternoon episode of vigorous lava fountaining as high as 200 m from SEC lasted about 1 hour. A lava flow erupted onto the SE flank of SEC appeared to be no longer than ~200 m.

Activity at SEC in late December and early January was spectacular. On 25 December, continuous Strombolian activity occurred from the central conelet and lava flowed down the SE flank to its base, covering previous flows. Three active lava flows were visible on the SE flank on the 26th. Sometime between early 29 and early 30 December, more lava flows spilled down the S flank of SEC, and a peculiar flow moved down on the SW flank, bifurcating on the lower slope. On the evening of the 30th, active flows were visible on the S flank while the SW flow only showed incandescence in its upper part. On the evening of 31 December, incandescent lava was visible on the lip of SEC in many places while active flows were descending on the S flank. On 7 January the SW flow was incandescent along its full length, with the W lobe extending to the base of the SEC cone.

On 8 January Southeast Crater gave off continuous Strombolian explosions from two vents at the summit of the intracrater cone and lava emission from its SE base. The summit of the cone was distinctly (~5-7 m) higher than the highest point ("Fortino") on the NE rim of SEC. Lateral growth of the cone was most significant in the N and NE parts of SEC where all lava flows and effusive vents active between July and September 1997 had been buried. The lava field surrounding the central cone had risen significantly, causing overflows on the E, SE, S, and SW sides. Only a segment of the NE crater rim stood a few meters above the lava fill; the W and NW part of the rim stood 20 m above the lava field and the cone's base. Three craters were present on the central cone, two of which were erupting. Activity would occur from one vent at any given time while the other was silent. The N vent ejected bombs and scoriae onto the N and NW crater rim and beyond. The S vent produced loud bangs and showered the E and SE flanks of the cone with pyroclastics. The effusive vent on the SE side of the cone had crusted over, and lava issued only on the SW rim of SEC where it overflowed, forming a narrow (1.5 m) flow with distinct lateral levees extending to the base of the SEC cone. The flow bypassed a cone formed in 1971 on its E side; when reaching the almost horizontal plain below the steep SW flank of SEC, it broadened and thickened notably and advanced slowly in the direction of the 1971 "Observatory cone." Within 3.5 hours on 8 January, the flow front advanced ~15 m through thick snow, forming an offshoot on the W side of the ~20-m-wide lava front. None of the other flows on the S flank of SEC showed any signs of movement or incandescence. The distance from the Torre del Filosofo mountain hut to the nearest flow front was ~1 km; the active flow did not threaten this structure.

Activity at Northeast Crater. During the second half of July Northeast Crater (NEC) occasionally ejected incandescent bombs from a deep pit in the central part of the crater; fine ash fell outside the pit. Visits to the summit craters in late September and early October revealed sporadic activity. NEC frequently emitted ash plumes during the first week of October, and on the evening of 10 October, incandescent ejections rose as high as 50 m above the crater rim. Strong gas emission was occurring from NEC on 11 December. NEC was essentially quiet on 8 January, with only light steam emissions from its central pit and some of the June-August 1996 vents in the SW part of the crater. Steam emission was more abundant, and at times pulsating, from a collapse pit in the S part of the crater. This pit was also the site of frequent avalanching and rockfalls that generated plumes of brown ash. No fresh magmatic products were found in the vicinity of the central and southern pits.

Activity at Voragine. A small cone began to form on the floor of Voragine in late July, and Strombolian activity was observed on 5 August. On 30 August, the cone was mildly steaming, and the surrounding deposit of black scoriae was partly covered by blocks that had collapsed from the septum between Voragine and Bocca Nuova. The first effusive activity from the Voragine in many years occurred in late September, forming a small lava field on the crater floor. Strombolian activity was weak on 28 September but very vigorous on 9 October; one day later it was again weak. The Voragine was explosively active from the central conelet on 6 November, and another weakly explosive vent had formed at the SW base of the diaframma between the Voragine from Bocca Nuova.

The cone in the central part of the Voragine was quiet on 8 January, with only slight emission of bluish gas. Its horseshoe-shaped crater was open to the SE; a small lava flow had issued from the open side of the cone. The vent on the SW side of the crater floor, which was first observed on 6 November 1997, had enlarged and was surrounded by a low half-cone leaning against the base of the diaframma. This vent produced weak explosions that mainly expulsed hot gas and a few pyroclasts. When viewed from the E rim of the Voragine, the conduit of this vent was seen to be inclined SW, diving below the diaframma.

Seismic crisis of 9-12 January 1998. The most intense seismic crisis during the current eruptive cycle occurred during 9-12 January and caused widespread media attention. From the afternoon of 9 January through 11 January about 200 earthquakes occurred in an area on the W and SW flanks of the volcano. The strongest shock (M 3.7) damaged a church in Biancavilla. No other damage or injuries were reported. Most epicenters were between Monte Nunziata and Monte Palestra, two ancient cones on the W flank. Seismicity diminished late on 10 January.

Strong ash emissions from BN on the morning of 11 January indicated further collapse in that crater, caused by earlier subsidence of the magmatic column. It is assumed that the magma intruded into a new fracture within the W side of the volcanic edifice. On 12 January ash emission from BN was almost continuous, but strong ash emissions also occurred from NEC. Activity at SEC continued with Strombolian bursts and emission of lava flows onto the SW, S, and SE flanks of the cone. The peculiar SW flow seemed to be waning; during the previous few days it had formed several minor lobes adjacent to the main one; the flow front seemed to have reached the base of the 1971 "Observatory cone."

Another seismic swarm occurred below the W flank on the afternoon of 12 January, with twelve earthquakes in 20 minutes, the strongest being M 3.1. Epicenters were closer to the summit craters than those of the preceding swarm, clustering 2-3 km E of Monte Palestra. Focal depths were ~4 km below sea level; no damage was reported. No significant change was noted in the eruptive activity at Southeast Crater, which had three active flows moving down its SW, S, and SE flanks.

Summit activity during 13-15 January 1998. Strombolian activity on the evening of 13 January at the intracrater cone in SEC was vigorous, while active lava was only visible near the crater rim in three places. A very faint glow reappeared at the SE eruptive center in BN. Strong ash emissions occurred from BN throughout the day. Seismic and eruptive activity were low on 14 January. The only visibly active crater was SEC, which was vigorous on the 13th but showed a marked diminution of activity towards midnight. At nightfall on 14 January SEC had very few and weak explosions, and there was no active lava flow on its outer flanks. No glow was visible above BN. This was the lowest level of activity observed in about a year. Seismic activity resumed late on 14 January with a series of about ten weak earthquakes below the W flank (Monte Palestra area) and several shocks beneath the SW slope, some 5 km above Biancavilla. Hypocenters were ~6 km below the surface on the W flank but much shallower on the SW flank. Activity at SEC dropped to very low levels: very few and weak explosions from the intracrater cone were observed on 14 January and no active lava was visible on the outer flanks of the crater.

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

Information Contacts: Boris Behncke, Istituto di Geologia e Geofisico, Palazzo delle Scienze, Università di Catania, Corso Italia 55, 95129 Catania, Italy.


Piton de la Fournaise (France) — September 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)


Activity ends with fissure eruptions outside the caldera

The eruption that began in March (BGVN 23:03) diminished during August and September. Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF) considers the eruption ended. The most significant activity during the last two months took place outside the caldera.

A small fissure eruption began on 9 August north of the caldera. Lava issued from this fissure, which was located ~500 m from the caldera wall near Nez Coupé Sainte Rose (figure 49). The initial eruption lasted only 24 hours, but a second fissure eruption began 14 August in the same area closer to the caldera wall. No fountains were observed with the second fissure, although the lava was very fluid. Flows eventually measured 200-300 m wide and ~2 km long. They moved parallel to the caldera wall until 14 September when they stopped ~500 m above Trou Caron. Some of the lava reached the edge of the caldera and spilled over onto the Plaine des Osmondes through three separate rivulets. A flow that was moving towards the upper part of Bois Blanc (a village located on the east coast) stopped by 25 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Map of the NE quadrant of Piton de la Fournaise showing important craters and other features. The dark tone represents the caldera wall, the light-gray areas indicate the extent of lava flows dating from 1972. The medium-gray shows flows since March 1998. Courtesy of OVPF.

During September, some night incandescence due to the lava lake at Piton Kapor was seen. Only weak tremor was observed. Beginning 5 September some gas-piston events were recorded; these had likely taken place before, but had remained undetected during stronger episodes of tremor.

This eruption, including all tremor and degassing at Piton Kapor, ended 21 September, after 196 days of activity. It thus comprised the volcano's longest and one of it's most voluminous eruptions of this century.

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.


Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Guagua Pichincha

Ecuador

0.171°S, 78.598°W; summit elev. 4784 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Phreatic discharges and shallow, near-vent seismicity continue

The volcanic crisis near Quito (figure 10) continued with a series of phreatic discharges and an E-dipping zone of earthquakes that rose to within a few kilometers of the surface (figure 2). With potentially dramatic significance to Ecuador's Capital (1995 urban population, 1,270,000 residents; suburban, 258,000 residents), the eruption has spurred a strong educational response in both the regional press and on an official web site. These discourses have repeated noteworthy points: the volcano's last vigorous eruption was in 1660; its recurrence intervals have oscillated between about 400 and 600 years; its last major eruption took place 338 years ago; and its phreatic eruptions have repeated during the past 15 years. Phreatic eruptions began on on 7 August (BGVN 23:08); since then the Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN) has made available daily reports on activity during 30 September to 27 October, which we summarize here.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Simplified schematic showing Guagua Pichincha, Quito's urban areas (elongate zone with selected roads), and hazard designations associated with the volcano. Revised from a color hazard map on the IG-EPN website and keyed as follows: 1) Maximum danger (including major risks of hot volcanic flows, lahars, and ashfall - requiring total evacuation); 2) Minor danger (minor risk of ash clouds, hot volcanic flows, and lahars - areas immediately abandoned should an eruption be either imminent or large); 3) Lahar risk along drainage areas; and 4-6) graded risk of ashfalls. The bold arrows help identify the location of source vents and portray ejecta trajectories representative of those that might occur during an eruption. For more detail, see Hall and von Hillebrandt (1988). Courtesy of the Instituto Geofisico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional.

Activity and observations. The epicenters of located earthquakes during April-October 1988 generally clustered around the caldera (figure 11). This was particularly the case for volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes, which in cross-section view tended to lie underneath the caldera. The located long-period (LP) events generally propagated from greater depths and in cross-section view defined a broad E-dipping zone. Thus far in the crisis there has been an alternating pattern of seismicity and seismically detected explosions (figure 12). During late September through late October there were often 1-2 daily explosions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. (top) Located seismic events at Guagua Pichincha during April-October 1998 were mainly centered around the caldera. The abbreviations VT and LP refer to volcano-tectonic and long-period events. The LP events showed a tendency to lie farther outboard, on the volcano's E slopes. (bottom) A cross section showing hypocenters for the same seismic events, which reveals the E-dipping attitude of located events. Courtesy of the Instituto Geofisico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Histograms for Guagua Pichincha showing both the daily number of earthquakes, including (a) volcano tectonic (VT), (b) long-period (LP), (c) multiphase (MP), and (d) the daily number of seismically detected explosions. Courtesy of the Instituto Geofisico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional.

On 3 October observers confirmed the presence of new fumaroles on the dome's W edge; nearby, in the headwaters of the Rio Cristal, they noted a new fumarole field. A phreatic explosion was heard at 0400 on 5 October by residents of Lloa. The explosion was the thirty-first such event in the sequence initiated on 7 August. It ranked among the most energetic seen to this point of the crisis, comparable to those on 8 and 24 August, and 29 September. The 5 October explosion followed 50 minutes of tremor registered at station YANA (7 km NE of the crater; "C" on figure 13). Small seismic events continued until 0800 that day. This explosion left a fresh ash layer in the caldera that revealed a new vent near the older one but above it to the S.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Contour map (200-m interval) indicating noteworthy sites surrounding Guagua Pichincha, including the valley embracing Quito and some of the key W-slope rivers that drain the breached caldera and environs. The map indicates settlements of Nono and Lloa (darkened rectangles) and seismic stations installed and maintained by various groups (open rectangles). These stations are designated by the following call letters: A, FARH; B, NONO; C, YANA; D, PINO; E, QWR; F, TERV; G, GGP; H, (uncertain); J, TOAZ; K, PIEZ; L, JORG; and M, MGUL. Courtesy of the Instituto Geofisico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional.

The seismic swarm NE of the caldera (BGVN 23:08) continued; between June and early October there were 3,200 events; ~10 had a magnitude (MR) over 3.9. On 4 October instruments detected ~30 earthquakes, the strongest MR 3.5. A MR 3.6 earthquake struck this zone on 10 October and was felt locally in the settlements of Pomasqui and San Antonio.

Measured deformation was not detected for the interval 15 September-7 October. Although not plotted, tremor has occurred. For example, at 2214 on 7 October station PINO detected tremor for 19 minutes while station YANA registered it for 7 minutes. On 11 and 12 October tremor followed phreatic explosions and in the former case, prevailed for 20 minutes at stations near the crater.

Mass wasting on the SE flank ~11 km from the caldera (in Quito's San Roque sector) on 9 October covered an old school, part of a church, threatened several smaller structures, and blocked vehicular traffic. Roughly 20 people were evacuated.

On 12 October condensing gases escaping the dome at a fumarole called "La Locomotora" rose 200 m. Around this time the 1981 explosion crater also emitted a moderate flow of gray gases but new fractures or fumaroles were absent.

At 1621 on 14 October a phreatic explosion at the 1981 vent sent fine material over the NE part of the caldera and left a visible coating ~300 m up the caldera walls. The associated grayish-white plume formed a ~3-km-tall column. Clear weather enabled residents of Quito to see the plume. Geophysical instruments detected the event at widely scattered locations. COSPEC registered the first clear SO2 signal, a 300 ppm concentration in the plume. Guards at a local observation post smelled strong sulfur, particularly when gases from La Locomotra fumarole blew past.

An explosion at 0947 on 16 October sent a plume to ~2 km. Again, Quito residents saw the plume, but an explosion the next morning was shrouded from view by weather clouds. The latter explosion was considered moderate; it was associated with ~5 minutes of tremor centered around 1.2-Hz frequency and scientists working nearby (at station PINO) saw a gray-white cloud develop. A 17 October explosion was shrouded in clouds. The phreatic explosions on 14, 15, 16, and 17 October yielded respective reduced seismic displacements of 11, 4.2, 9.8, and 3.2 cm2.

A view into the caldera on the morning of 18 October disclosed relatively passive outgassing from the 1981 and 1988 explosion craters. La Locomotra and other fumaroles on the central dome had clearly increased their output, feeding a plume ~700 m high. Another moderate explosion on 25 October was followed by 3 hours of tremor.

A flight on the morning of 27 October revealed only modest degassing, a 300-m-high plume, and an SO2 concentration below the COSPEC's detection limit. Minard Hall also recognized that the 1981 crater and one formed in September 1998 had coalesced. The wall isolating them had apparently been weakened by repeated phreatic eruptions.

Risk mapping. The highest risk settlements include Lloa (figures 1 and 4) and Mindo. The latter lies on the river of the same name about 22 km NW of the caldera; it lies off of maps in this report but is depicted on the larger hazard map of Hall and von Hillebrandt (1988). One branch of the Mindo river's headwaters begin just N of the breach in the caldera (figure 4). Rivers draining the breached W-flank and nearby NW-flank (e.g. Rio Cristal and Rio Mindo) were assigned a higher category of risk for lahars than any lahar-risk zones on the E flanks (figure 1).

New fieldwork has been aimed at inspecting older lahar deposits in vicinity of the settlements of Mindo and Nono. Nono, on the NNE flank (figures 2 and 4), lies at mouth of a narrow N-S valley that cuts across much of the volcano's E to NNE flanks.

Partnerships. The following describes some of the civic and media efforts to communicate volcanic hazards. On 30 September Ecuador's president requested that a safety committee be formed (Comité Especial de Seguimento, CES). The committee was charged with integrating Civil Defense, the IG-EPN, and the City of Quito. In overcast conditions on 24 August a film crew from TeleAmazonas shot footage of an explosion plume not otherwise visible in Quito. These glimpses, and later examples of widely visible plumes, surely helped residents grasp the immediacy and some of the power of the eruption.

Authorities raised the hazard status to Yellow on 1 October. On 3 October a new video system started to monitor the inner crater. This advance was supported by "Ecuavista" in coordination with "911 of the City of Quito," the phone number for the City's communications base.

A 2 October announcement told of a downtown Quito information center implemented to release daily circulars at bearing official volcanological information. Thanks to a partnership between the information center and IBM of Ecuador, the former gained access to the internet, email, and a modern computing environment The radio station "Zaracay," which can be received widely, including the urban and Mindo areas, was also designated as a conduit for public announcements.

By 7 October the seismic network consisted of 12 stations with real-time data transmission. Collaborating scientific teams and monitoring equipment have come from both the U.S. Geological Survey as well as ORSTOM (the French Scientific Research Institute for Development through cooperation). Contingency plans have surfaced, dealing with the issue of transportation during the higher stages of alert (Orange and Red). Public announcements have broached the need to maintain the integrity of the municipal infrastrucure in the event of an eruption, including crews to clean ash (from roads, power lines, etc.).

Reference. Hall, Minard, and von Hillebrandt M., Christa G., 1988, Mapa de los peligros volcanicos poteciales asociados con el volcan Guagua Pichincha; Republica del Ecuador (1:50,000).

Geologic Background. Guagua Pichincha and the older Pleistocene Rucu Pichincha stratovolcanoes form a broad volcanic massif that rises immediately to the W of Ecuador's capital city, Quito. A lava dome is located at the head of a 6-km-wide breached caldera that formed during a late-Pleistocene slope failure ~50,000 years ago. Subsequent late-Pleistocene and Holocene eruptions from the central vent in the breached caldera consisted of explosive activity with pyroclastic flows accompanied by periodic growth and destruction of the central lava dome. One of Ecuador's most active volcanoes, it is the site of many minor eruptions since the beginning of the Spanish era. The largest historical eruption took place in 1660, when ash fell over a 1000 km radius, accumulating to 30 cm depth in Quito. Pyroclastic flows and surges also occurred, primarily to then W, and affected agricultural activity, causing great economic losses.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Apartado 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador; El Comercio newspaper, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.elcomercio.com); El Universo newspaper, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.eluniverso.com); La Hora newspaper, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.lahora.com); Volcanic Disaster Assistance Program, U.S. Geological Survey, 5400 MacArthur Blvd., Vancouver, Washington 98661 USA (URL: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo/); ORSTOM, A.P. 17-11-6596, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.ird.fr/).


Hokkaido-Komagatake (Japan) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Hokkaido-Komagatake

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Phreatic eruption spreads ash 25 October

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued an advisory and three observation reports concerning Hokkaido-Komaga-take volcano on 25 October following a small-scale phreatic eruption that began at 0912 the same day. Ash rose in a column to a height of ~1,200 m above the crater. The eruptive activity soon declined. There were no report of injuries or damage caused by the eruption, and no evacuation order was issued.

Volcanologists surveyed the activity from a helicopter the afternoon of 25 October (figure 2). They reported that the eruption originated from the same crater that opened during the 1929 eruption, which was also the site of the March 1996 eruption. Ash covered a significant area around and to the E of the crater. The scale of this eruption apparently was smaller than that of the March 1996 eruption.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. An aerial view of Komaga-take showing fuming activity from the 1929 Crater about 6 hours after the 25 October 1998 eruption. View is from the SE looking towards the Komanose Rim (back) and the Sawaradake Rim (back right). The 1942 Large Fissure (middle, diagonal) and the 1996 Southern Fissure Crater (middle center) can also be seen. Hyoutan Crater (front center) is adjacent to the 1929 Crater. Photograph by Bousai Heli; courtesy of Hiromu Okada, Usu Volcano Observatory.

Volcanic tremor lasting six minutes was associated with this eruption. In addition, five volcanic earthquakes were recorded in the 12 hours following the first eruption signs.

Komaga-take is located 30 km N of Hakodate City (population 320,000). The andesitic stratovolcano has a 2-km-wide horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the E. The volcano has generated large pyroclastic eruptions, including major historical eruptions in 1640, 1856, and 1929. In the 1640 eruption, debris from a partial summit collapse entered the sea resulting in a tsunami that killed 700 people. Although the 1929 eruption was one of the largest 20th-century eruptions in Japan, it may not have had clear geophysical precursors.

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

Information Contacts: J. Miyamura, Sapporo District, Japan Meteorological Agency, 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan; Hiromu Okada, Usu Volcano Observatory, Institute of Seismology and Volcanology, Hokkaido University, Sohbetsu-cho, Hokkaido 052-0103, Japan.


Iwatesan (Japan) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Iwatesan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Nearby M 6.2 earthquake on 3 September, but volcano still slumbering

A strong earthquake occurred 10 km SW of the summit of Iwate volcano at 1658 on 3 September. The Richter magnitude was 6.1 and the depth ~7 km. The mechanism was E-W compression on a reverse fault. A N-S-trending surface rupture appeared, despite the event's non-extreme magnitude. The aftershock area resulting from the earthquake differed from typical earthquakes on Iwate and the relationship between the earthquake and the volcano, if any, is not understood. This was the largest earthquake since August 1996 when a M 5.9 tremor struck.

A 3 September Reuters news article mentioned that a powerful earthquake took place, centered in the ski resort area of Shizukuishi, a mountainous region near Iwate volcano. The report claimed the epicenter was 5 km underground and police said that the event slightly injured at least nine people.

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: Yukio Hayakawa, Faculty of Education, Gunma University, Aramaki, Maebashi 371, Japan; Reuters Limited, 1700 Broadway, New York, NY 10019 USA (URL: http://www.reuters.com/).


Klyuchevskoy (Russia) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Klyuchevskoy

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions, ash 2-3 September raise concern to yellow alert

During 2-28 September, seismicity under the volcano was generally above background levels. Hypocenters were concentrated at two levels: near the summit crater and at depths of 25-30 km. Clouds often prevented observations.

On 2 September a fumarolic plume was observed during the daylight hours rising 50 m above the summit. Beginning at 2218 that day, a 33-minute series of explosive earthquakes was recorded, and at 2245 an ash explosion produced a plume that rose 4-5 km above the crater. On 3 September, scientists noticed that ash had been deposited in a 2-km-long zone on the NE slope. A plume of gas, with no ash content, rose 500 m above the volcano during 3-4 September, but had stopped by 5 September. Because of the increase in activity, the alert status was changed to Yellow, meaning more significant eruptions may occur.

No fumarolic plumes were seen during 8, 18, and 27 September, but plumes rising up to 100 m above the summit were seen during 13, 16, 17, 21, and 24 September. The alert color code returned to Green on 21 September, indicating normal activity.

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


Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Ol Doinyo Lengai

Tanzania

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New cones, vigorous activity since February

From February through August 1998, several visitors to the crater of Ol Doinyo Lengai produced photographs and descriptions of eruptive activity. The following are taken from a summary of those visits provided by Celia Nyamweru, including detailed observations of certain hornitos made by Fred Belton and Chris Weber during their visits in June and August.

Orientation. Figure 51 locates the prominent features in the crater based on a photograph taken on 23 February 1998. A similar sketch map based on a photograph taken in February 1997 from nearly the same perspective appeared in a previous report (BGVN 23:06). Among the conspicuous new features appearing in 1998 are three large hornitos labeled T45, T46, and T47. T45 was described in February 1998 as being "possibly a new cone," but it may have been active as early as December 1997; by August it had grown to a height of ~7 m and was the dominant landmark in the E of the crater. T46 is a broad, darkly colored feature near the T20/T44 cluster. T46 was erroneously identified as T47 in the last Bulletin report. T47 is a tall, very narrow cone with a pointed top. It is located in the south-central area of the crater near the site of T23, which has nearly vanished. The cone cluster known as "A" has completely disappeared beneath recent lava.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. View of the crater of Ol Doinyo Lengai looking N from the S crater wall as it appeared 23 February 1998. The oblique view has a variable scale: it is ~ 300 m from T47 to C, and ~ 100 m from T47 to both T37S and T26/T27. Courtesy of C. Nyamweru from a photo by J.S. Antonio.

General appearance. During a visit to the summit on 12 March, observers noted no major changes to the crater since 23 February. Pale-brown, brown, and gray lava of differing ages covered the floor (figure 52). Pahoehoe flow patterns were clear in some areas, particularly N and NE of T45. An open vent in the T23 area contained a bubbling lava pool and steam issued from various vents. T47 was described as a very tall cone with a vertical crack and sharp peak, making it easily distinguishable from other nearby cones.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Composite panoramic view to the SW from the E crater rim taken on 12 March. T45 is prominent in the foreground. The scale is oblique: it is ~ 150 m from T45 to T47 and ~ 100 m from T45 to T40. Courtesy of C. Nyamweru; photos by B.A. Gadiye.

An aerial photograph taken during May showed no important changes (figure 53). No steam or fresh lava was seen. The crater floor was covered with white or pale gray lava. A summit visit on 12 June revealed few changes (figure 54). No fresh lavas were seen, but recent flows of gray and brown lava were noticed, particularly in the area of T45 and from T37S in the direction of T24.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Aerial view of the Ol Doinyo Lengai crater looking to the SE in May 1998. Courtesy of C. Nyamweru; photo by B. Wangermez.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. Composite panoramic view of Ol Doinyo Lengai looking SW from the E crater rim (compare with figure 52) taken on 12 June. Courtesy of C. Nyamweru; photos by B.A. Gadiye.

There were no signs of fresh surface activity when observers arrived on 17 June. The entire crater floor was grayish white and mostly soft, and no new spatter was visible on any hornito. The lowest point on the crater rim, to the NW, was 30 cm above the crater floor. T47 was the tallest cone in the crater (~11 m) and was lightly steaming. A 150-m-long steaming fracture, rich in sulfur deposits, was oriented SW-NE; the fracture passed over the site of T41 and T42, both of which had disappeared.

During visits through the first week of August, the steaming fissure was no longer visible, but a new fissure of the same type had developed. This was oriented NW-SE with its SE end located near the base of T20. T37S had two small cones recently added to the S part of its summit and a small lava flow down its W flank. A few clots of lava were ejected from T44C around 1300 on 2 August; although no taller, it showed recently added lava cascades on its N flank. At 0615 on 7 August T44 splashed black liquid lava out of its 6-m-high peak.

T37N1. On 17 June, T37N1 was open to the SE and contained a lava platform consisting of a 2-m-diameter circular pit beneath a 5-m overhanging wall. The pit opened into a cave that was ~4 m deep. A small spatter cone, 4 m W and 2.5 m above the pit, was located on the shoulder of the overhanging wall. At 0630 on 18 June a vigorously sloshing pond of very gas-rich lava rose slowly inside the circular pit. Lava was also visible through the vent of the spatter cone. Within an hour the pond overflowed and the spatter cone began ejecting lava clots up to 2 m above the cone, eventually producing pahoehoe and aa flows that traveled ~100 m ESE. This activity continued until 1200. At 1815 on 19 June a 20-minute eruption resulted in an overflow of the pond. Continuous lava fountains rose up to 1 m above the spatter cone, covering the flows from the previous day. At 1600 on 20 June an eruption lasting more than 15 hours began with a high-volume pond overflow and explosions every 2 seconds from the spatter cone. By 2245 the explosions had stopped and an orange flame was seen at the cone's vent. Lava continued to pour from the pond all night. A tube-fed flow first traveled N, then curved E as a narrow strip ~80 m long containing a single tube, and finally spread out into a wide stacked flow-field that piled up against the E rim.

At 1800 on 5 August a lava lake was seen in the cave under the spatter cone, ~5 m below the rim. At 1930 the lake began to glow dull red in the darkness, revealing that the cave was much larger than it had first appeared. The entire T37N1 hornito was hollow with a lake slowly rising inside that flowed toward the SW and entered a westward-directed tube or cave. As the lake rose higher lava appeared on the crater floor at the W base of T37N1, flowing slowly along the bottom of an old tube. Within 10 minutes the lake rose up to vent level and began to slosh over the rim, but lava could no longer be seen on the crater floor. From 2000 to 2330 the lake overflowed numerous times and lava advanced to a point near the base of T5T9. Due to frequent fluctuations in lake level, no long tubes developed; instead the flows were short and thickly stacked.

Similar activity occurred in the early morning hours of 6 August; just before 0715 the lake was ~3 m below the rim of the spatter cone, which had been increased in height and reduced in diameter during the eruption. The open interior of T37N1 filled with lava to a depth of 2 m, completely burying the pit that had contained the overflowing lava pond in June. The T37N1 spatter cone, positioned on the W side of the new, higher lava platform, was taller and had a larger vent than in June. Foaming white to pale gray carbonatite lava splashed out and fed short lava flows a few meters long down the W slope. Its vent opened into a large cave, ~8 m deep. A recent tube-fed flow from the vent extended to the W crater wall. The vesiculation of the gas-rich lava was high. Activity stopped around 1100 causing a 4-m drop of the lava level.

T48. At 0800 on 18 June (while T37N1 was erupting) T48 produced lava fountains up to 3 m high for 10 minutes, forming short aa flows on its N side. Throughout the morning of 19 June it occasionally ejected solid lapilli along with loud puffs of steam. At 2335 that night it began exploding loudly every 2 seconds and produced lava fountains up to 7 m high. After less than 2 minutes of these explosions the fountains decreased in height to 3 m but increased in volume. Each explosion covered the NW half of T48 with a thick layer of spatter that glowed dull red.

By August T48 had increased in height by at least 2 m and had produced many fresh flows extending in all directions. Aerial photographs taken by Benoit Wangermez on 1 August showed several fresh lava flows originating from vents in the approximate location of T48 and T49 extending to the NE and W crater rims. At 1300 on 2 August, low lava fountaining began from the summit vent and within an hour a lava stream was cascading down the nearly vertical SW flank of T48. Over the next 7 hours a large tube formed from the summit down the SW flank. Lava from this tube advanced past the N slope of T20 more than halfway to the WNW crater wall. Near the base of T48 the tube was ~60 cm in diameter and had several skylights from which lava often overflowed. The lava was gas-rich with a surface that appeared to be covered with gray foam.

The eruption continued all night but lava never reached the crater wall. At 0800 on 3 August a close inspection of the vertical lava tube revealed a small crack expelling hot air. Near 1000 the tube ruptured at that point, creating a powerful horizontal lava fountain that played on the N flank and base of nearby T44C. As the rupture progressed, other fountains directed at various angles of inclination developed, and eventually a flow began to form a second tube. The original tube was still full of flowing lava. By 1800 no lava was visible in the skylights. At 1930 a thin lava stream was spraying horizontally from the E side of T48's summit. At 0600 on 4 August T48 was inactive but at 0800 fountains developed on its upper east flank, creating pahoehoe and aa flows that reached the base of T40B. Similar activity continued until 2000. There was no further activity until 2330 on 5 August when a wide lava fountain sprayed horizontally for 20 minutes from just above a small ledge on the E flank, 2 m below the summit.

On 6 August at 1400 lava splashed out of two openings close to the peak of T48. Black, degassed, very liquid lava fed little lava flows reaching 8 m down the E slope. The activity stopped shortly after 1600.

T40. Sloshing lava was heard inside T40 during the entire June visit. During the night of June 19 a pahoehoe flow traveled ~10 m from a small vent in its base. Lava flowed into a cave under a low, broad hornito just NE of T40. This new lava flow was ~1 m thick. The cave had contained an impressive group of white lava stalactites. On 20 June a 3-m2 section of the SW flank collapsed into its interior.

On 2 August at 1000 occasional lava clots were being ejected from T40's summit, but this continued for only ~30 minutes. During the August visit T40 was noisily degassing. The collapse pit that formed on 20 June in the SW flank of T40 was no longer visible, having been filled in by lava. Recent flows extended a short distance SW and SE of T40, partially covering a low mound to the SE. A tall, narrow cone had very recently been formed on the summit of T40 and was the source of several very fresh aa flows extending to the base of T40.

T49. A small cone just NE of T49 extended toward the NW and grew in height between visits. Sloshing lava was frequently heard there. After several earthquakes during the night of 6 August, at 0408 on 7 August a loud explosion blew off the top and N side of T49. Rocks up to 1 m3 were thrown or rolled a few meters. A dark-red lava fountain ~15 m high continued until 0413 with a loud, jet-like noise. Pahoehoe lava with little viscosity (1-5 Pa s) splashed N of T49 and traveled NW. The flow was thin (10-20 cm) and stopped shortly after the end of the eruption. The amount of erupted lava was ~70-100 m3. Lava pearls up to 4 mm diameter and fine ash were blown over 200 m NW.

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

Information Contacts: Celia Nyamweru, Department of Anthropology, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617 USA (URL: http://blogs.stlawu.edu/lengai/); Fredrick A. Belton, 3555 Philsdale Ave., Memphis, TN 38111; Christoph Weber, Kruppstr 171, 42113 Wuppertal, Germany.


Masaya (Nicaragua) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Integrated scientific studies of the caldera area

Four teams of Canadian, British, and Nicaraguan volcanologists carried out studies of Masaya caldera during January-April and September 1998. The volcano was examined using correlation spectroscopy (COSPEC), microgravity, Open Path Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (OP-FTIR), and soil-gas studies.

Vent degassing appeared to have increased significantly. COSPEC measurements during February-April 1998 showed SO2 flux varying from 680 t/d to a maximum of 5,580 t/d. Measurements made during the previous year (January-March 1997) showed more stable fluxes of approximately 380 t/d. Measurements in September 1998 showed flux levels varying from 320 to 1,420 t/d.

OP-FTIR measured from the Plaza Oviedo overlooking the "Santiago" pit crater showed consistent SO2/HCl and HCl/HF volume ratios of 2 and 7, respectively. Using the COSPEC-derived SO2 flux, scientists inferred HCl fluxes of 340 to 2,790 t/d and HF fluxes of 97 to 797 t/d.

CO2 soil-gas measurements at the foot of the Comalito cinder cone increased from 23 to 31.3% between March 1997 and February 1998. Fumarole temperatures also increased from 70 to 84°C during February 1998.

Microgravity surveys during March 1997-February 1998 showed a slight increase in gravity immediately beneath the Santiago pit crater. They also showed evidence (increased noise recorded on the meter) of significant seismic activity around the Santiago crater. Similar measurements acquired in September 1998 indicated increased seismic activity throughout the caldera.

Temperatures at the active vent, measured using a Cyclops infrared camera, ranged between 170 and 400°C. The higher measurements occurred when incandescence of the vent walls was visible. In March, a small fumarole emitting low levels of gas appeared, ~15 m from the active vent.

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

Information Contacts: Glyn Williams-Jones, Dave Rothery, Hazel Rymer, Peter Francis, and Lisa Boardman, Department of Earth Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, United Kingdom; Alexandre Beaulieu, Dany Harvey, Pierre Delmelle, Katie St-Amand, and John Stix, Département de Géologie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7, Canada; Mike Burton, Clive Oppenheimer, and Matthew Watson, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Downing Place, Cambridge, CB2 3EN, United Kingdom (URL: http://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/); Hélène Gaonac'h, Département des sciences de la Terre, Université du Québec - Montréal, Montréal, Québec H3C 3P8, Canada; Martha Navarro and Wilfried Strauch, INETER, Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua; Benjamin van Wyk de Vries, Departement des Sciences de la Terre, Universite Blaise Pascal, 63038 Clermont-Ferrand, France.


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Several episodes of ash emission during September

Following a large ash exhalation on 8 September (BGVN 23:08), eruptive activity at Popocatépetl decreased in intensity and duration. CENEPRED reported a few moderate emissions during September that caused local ashfall.

Small-volume, discrete, short-duration emissions containing ash, sometimes accompanied by steam and gas, were recorded occasionally during the period 9-15 September. Brief episodes of harmonic tremor were also recorded. During the night of 14 September glow reflected from clouds over the crater was seen.

Moderate exhalations of steam, gas, and light ash took place during 16 September. Several brief episodes of high-frequency tremor were recorded that afternoon; the largest emissions occurred at 1546-1552, 1604, and 1611. Ashfall was reported at Amecameca, 20 km NW of the volcano. Despite bad weather that reduced visibility most of the day, a dense column of steam and gas was seen rising 700 m above the summit before being blown to the NW. Activity decreased to stable background levels on 17 September. A dense steam and gas cloud seen on the morning of 18 September dispersed to the NE; as the cloud gained altitude, its direction changed to the south. SO2 measurements showed significant increases following the 16 September explosion over levels earlier in the month.

Another moderate increase in eruptive activity began a few days later. A steam and gas column rising 1 km above the summit was observed during 20 September. Brief, moderately intense emissions of steam and gas, sometimes with light ash puffs, took place throughout the morning of 21 September. An explosion at 1148 that morning produced light ashfall in towns up to 20 km NW of Popocatépetl. A similar but less intense event occurred at 1543. Emissions decreased to relatively low levels until 1225 on 22 September when a moderate explosion lasting 7 minutes produced a steam, gas, and ash plume that rose 4 km above the summit. Visibility during 22 August was poor due to bad weather, but a large ash cloud near the crater was detected by Doppler radar. Ash was dispersed during the afternoon NW of the volcano, producing light ash falls in the suburban SE of metropolitan México City.

Following the explosion on 22 September, eruptive activity paused until a similar explosion occurred at 1829 on 23 September. This explosion lasted 6 minutes and produced a 3-km high column of steam, gas, and ash. Ash fall was reported in towns SW of the volcano. Eruptive activity soon decreased again, stabilizing at low levels of small, isolated emissions of steam and gas, typical of earlier in September. An exhalation at 1025 on 24 September was followed by 30 minutes of low-frequency harmonic tremor. An A-type earthquake of M 2.1 located 1.8 km E of the crater at a depth of 3.9 km was recorded at 2224 on 24 September, and another moderate exhalation lasting 7 minutes began at 2332.

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; 1 Centro 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/); and 2 Instituto de Geofisico, UNAM, Coyoacán 04510, México D.F., México.


Sete Cidades (Portugal) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Sete Cidades

Portugal

37.87°N, 25.78°W; summit elev. 856 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismic swarm on submarine flank

Since June 1998, increasing seismic activity in the vicinity of Sete Cidades volcano has resulted in occasional seismic swarms. On the night of 2-3 August about 120 events were registered in 3 hours. During that period, five earthquakes were felt along the W coast, the strongest with a magnitude of 3.1 reached a maximum intensity of V (MM) at Ginetes e Varzea. Similarly, on 2 September in Sao Miguel more than 120 events occurred beneath the sea floor over a period of about 4 hours near shore between Ponta da Ferraria and Mosteiros. One of the five felt earthquakes during this period also reached an intensity of V (MM). There were no reports of injury or damage from any of these events.

Geologic Background. Sete Cidades volcano at the western end of Sao Miguel Island contains a 5-km-wide summit caldera, occupied by two caldera lakes, that is one of the scenic highlights of the Azores. The steep-walled, 500-m-deep caldera was formed about 22,000 years ago, and at least 22 post-caldera eruptions have occurred. A large group of Pleistocene post-caldera trachytic lava domes, lava flows, and pyroclastic-flow deposits is found on the western-to-northern flanks. A nearly circular ring of six Holocene pyroclastic cones occupies the caldera floor. These have been the source of a dozen trachytic pumice-fall deposits erupted during the past 5000 years. Sete Cidades is one of the most active Azorean volcanoes. Historical eruptions date back to the 15th century and have occurred from within the caldera and from submarine vents off the west coast.

Information Contacts: João Luis Gaspar and Nicolau Wallenstein, Departamento de Geociencias, Centro de Vulcanologia, Universidade dos Açores, Rua Mae de Deus, 9500 - Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Açores, Portugal.


Sheveluch (Russia) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Sheveluch

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash explosions and pyroclastic flow during 3 September

Seismicity remained generally at background levels during 2-28 September. A plume on 2-3 September was seen rising 200 m above the volcano. At 1622 on 3 September, ash explosions produced a cloud that rose 5 km above the summit, and extended 100 km NNE. Pyroclastic flows moving SW were observed at this time. The explosion was also accompanied by a 9-minute series of shallow earthquakes and tremor. The level-of-concern color code remained Green. Observation was restricted by cloud during much of the month.

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

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


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — September 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)


Continuing decrease in activity; hazards reassessed

The following summarizes the Montserrat Volcano Observatory's (MVO) scientific reports for July and August, except information concerning the 3 July pyroclastic flows, which was reported in BGVN 23:07.

Summary. In the weeks following the 3 July pyroclastic flows, no fresh magma reached the surface; however, vesicular ballistic blocks were recovered from craters on Perches Mountain suggesting that there may have been a small Vulcanian explosion. SO2-flux levels declined steadily throughout July to an average of 1,000 metric tons/day (t/d). Vigorous steam-and-ash venting continued from the dome-collapse scar until the end of July. Activity in August was dominated by several small dome-collapse events and a period of enhanced steam-and-ash venting in the middle of the month. The dome-collapse events were caused by the gravitational collapse of weakened dome rock. The ash venting was intense one day but waned over following days to normal levels. MiniCOSPEC results showed a peak that coincided with the enhanced venting, but there was an overall decline from ~1,000 t/d at the beginning of the month to ~500 t/d at the end of the month.

Visual observations. Ash-and-steam venting immediately after the 3 July event was vigorous. Significant pulses of steam-and-ash continued for 2-3 weeks and fumarolic activity was evident on the S and N flanks of the dome.

A steep buttress overhanging the 3 July scar collapsed on 16 August generating pyroclastic flows that reached the Tar River delta. Large fragments of the buttress were left in the area of the scar's mouth. On 19 August fumarolic activity in the scar increased in intensity: fumaroles on the back wall and at the base of the scar discharged copious quantities of steam and ash in jets. The next day activity decreased in intensity and the fumaroles were generally issuing steam only. Some of the fumaroles were temporarily buried following a rockfall within the scar on 20 August. The fumarolic activity declined steadily, and by 22 August activity had declined to levels observed in the first week of August.

Mudflows continued to be a problem in July. Mudflow deposits built up beneath the Belham Bridge until there was a clearance of only about 30 cm.

Seismicity. After 5 July, seismicity returned to levels similar to the previous month, with the exception of a swarm of volcano-tectonic earthquakes on 25 July (figure 43). This swarm had no outward manifestation at the volcano and activity returned to low levels by the next day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Seismicity recorded at Soufriere Hills by type during July and August 1998. Data courtesy of MVO.

Seismicity during August was generally low. Activity was dominated by small volcano-tectonic earthquakes located ~3 km below the dome, with occasional rockfalls and pyroclastic-flow signals. On 13 August there were two episodes (at 0519 and 1455) of pyroclastic flow in the White River valley. These flows traveled 1.8 km from the dome and were caused by the collapse of weakened dome rock. Active fumaroles on the Galways side of the dome near Chances Peak undermined part of the dome. A scar immediately above the fumarolic area is believed to be the source of the pyroclastic flows. Each episode was followed by about an hour of continuous rockfall activity. On 19 August a rockfall signal was followed by tremor, which corresponded to vigorous ash venting. The signal lasted two days and varied in amplitude. At times of highest amplitude the tremor was nearly monochromatic at 4 Hz.

Ground deformation. Measurements from GPS survey sites on the flanks of the volcano and in the N of the island indicated widespread major reductions in movement during July. The Hermitage site indicated continued slow movement NE at rate of ~0.5 cm/month. The GPS site at Perches was destroyed in the 3 July event; ballistics were scattered over Perches Mountain and the GPS site was later found at the edge of a 3.4 m diameter impact crater. The rates of movement of sites in August were within the instrumental error. The GPS kit was used for one week by volcanologists from the University of Rhode Island who were conducting a bathymetric survey of the fans at the mouths of the Tar River and White Rivers valleys.

The EDM reflector on Peak B was measured from Windy Hill. The increase in distance of 5 cm during the period May-July may have been caused partially by release associated with the 3 July collapse. The line had shortened by 9 cm between 25 January and 13 May, but between May and August the distance lengthened by a total 8 cm (within 1 cm of its original length) possibly indicating a relaxation in the confining pressure.

Volume measurements. A kinematic GPS survey of the Tar River fan was completed in July. The total volume of the fan was estimated to be 22.1 x 106 m3. A previous survey in August 1997 gave a volume of 15.7 x 106 m3. Much of the increase resulted from the 3 July collapse, which extended the fan 350 m N, although a small part of the increase was due to the accumulation of pyroclastic-flow deposits during the September-October 1997 explosion sequence (BGVN 22:10 and 22:11). The E limit of the fan, defined by a steep shelf extending into the sea, was unchanged. A small deposit was left on the S side of the fan, although above the established shoreline there was only a thin layer of pyroclastic-flow deposits.

No volume measurements were made in August. Attempts to survey the 3 July collapse scar were foiled by deteriorating weather conditions and a lack of helicopter fuel.

Environmental monitoring. MiniCOSPEC observations recommenced on 5 July. In early July SO2 flux was generally between 1,000 and 2,500 metric tons/day (t/d). On 13 July SO2 flux measured 4,150 t/d, the highest ever recorded at Montserrat. Throughout the remainder of July there was a gradual decline in SO2 flux to an average of 1,000 t/d at the end of the month. The cause of the relatively high gas flux in the apparent absence of magmatic activity was being investigated, but may relate to perturbations in the hydrothermal system caused by the dome collapse on 3 July 1998.

MiniCOSPEC measurements in early August showed a consistent SO2 flux of ~500-1000 t/d. On 19 August levels rose to 1,400 t/d as a result of enhanced venting. Towards the end of the month poor weather limited the number of COSPEC measurements, but there appeared to be a slight decrease to an average of ~500 t/d. Throughout late August the wind direction was variable due to tropical storms in the area. On occasions when the wind blew to the N or NW a strong smell of sulfurous gases was detected in the inhabited area of Montserrat.

Sulfur dioxide diffusion tubes exposed between 29 June and 13 July clearly reflect the high emissions in early July (table 31). The Plymouth area in particular was subjected to very high concentrations of gas. In the second half of July SO2 concentrations in Plymouth were reduced by half. Populated areas N of the Belham River valley were, as usual, only subjected to very low SO2 levels in July. In August there was a general decline of SO2 in the atmosphere. An additional monitoring site in the N of the island was installed to assess SO2 during shifts in wind direction.

Table 31. Sulfur dioxide diffusion-tube results, 29 June-11 August 1998. Levels are in parts per billion (ppb). Courtesy of MVO.

Station 29 Jun-13 Jul 1998 13 Jul-27 Jul 1998 27 Jul-11 Aug 1998
Police HQ, Plymouth 207.9 116.5 131.5
St. George's Hill 22.05 8.55 9.55
Weekes 5.75 4.1 2.85
MVO south 4.3 3.85 --
Lawyers 2.2 0 3.8
Vue Pointe Hotel -- -- 3.25

Hazard assessment. A meeting was held 14-16 July at McChesney's Estate to assess the current hazards and risks associated with Soufriere Hills Volcano. The meeting brought together many of the senior scientists who have worked at MVO during the three-year volcanic crisis. Those who took part were Richie Robertson, Lloyd Lynch and John Shepherd from the Seismic Research Unit in Trinidad; Simon Young, Sue Loughlin, Tony Reedman, and Gill Norton from the British Geological Survey; and many other senior scientists from around the world including Steve Sparks from Bristol University, Peter Baxter from Cambridge University, Barry Voight from Penn State University, Joe Devine from Brown University, Peter Francis from the Open University, Keith Rowley, and Willy Aspinall. Richard Luckett and Richard Herd from MVO provided up-to-date information about the current status of Soufriere Hills volcano.

Discussion was held on various aspects of the activity over the previous six months, including the event on 3 July. Related issues, including the safety of Bramble airport, were also addressed. An assessment of the level of risk associated with the volcano was undertaken. A report was presented to the government of Montserrat and the U.K. on 29 July after which the findings were made public.

According to the report, MVO judged it likely that the volcano has entered a period of repose, with the probability of no further magmatic eruptions in the next 6 months set at about 95%. MVO was confident that renewed magma ascent and escalation to dangerous levels of activity could be identified, although they cautioned that escalation might take place in a very short period of time (e.g. a matter of hours). Most of the island was perceived to be under reduced risk, but areas S of the Belham River Valley remain vulnerable to serious volcanic hazards including pyroclastic flows related to the collapse of the dome, mud flows, and exposure to fine ash. Further dome collapses were deemed likely and could affect all flanks of the volcano, especially the Tar River, Gages Valley, Plymouth area, Galways, and the NE slopes. There is potential for a variety of events to take place, including steam explosions, mud flows, and ash falls, for many years to come but the risks will decline with time. Health risk analysis showed that if magmatic activity does not resume, the potential for harmful exposure to ash will be limited and the risk of developing silicosis will be low in Zones 1 to 3. The same would apply to Population Zone 4 north of the Belham Valley after a clean-up operation has been safely completed. A public education program on the health risks of ash was recommended, including guidance on protection measures during the clean up. Certain groups could be at risk from much higher exposure (e.g. outdoor workers and asthma sufferers) and there may be unknown long-term health risks to young children.

The Volcanic Executive Group (VEG), chaired by Governor Tony Abbott, met to consider the Scientific Review. A statement from the Governor's Office following the meeting rescinded the recommendation that residents leave the Central Zone. Also, there was no longer any objection to commercial organizations operating within the Central Zone. The clean up of Friths, Salem, and Old Towne, which commenced some weeks ago, was intensified. The VEG sought advice on how to ensure that the Zone will be cleaned so that children and those with respiratory problems will not be affected on reoccupation.

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/); Richard Aspin, Information & Education Unit, Emergency Dept., St Johns Village, Montserrat, Leeward Islands, West Indies.


Yasur (Vanuatu) — September 1998 Citation iconCite this Report

Yasur

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing eruption, felt earthquake, and fresh glass chemical analysis

On 9 September 1998, an earthquake was felt in a village 3 km from Yasur; simultaneously, loud explosions were heard from the volcano. When the summit was visited by John Seach during 10-11 September, five craters inside the main summit crater in the pyroclastic cone were found to be active. Crater A, large and on the S, displayed quiet explosions followed by brown ash emission. Other craters were quiet with only gas emissions. These included the smaller Crater B, in the center of the main crater; the larger Crater C, on the N; the small Crater D located W of Crater B; and Crater E, on the SW wall of the main crater.

During 4 hours of observation on 10 September, 51 explosions were observed from four craters: Crater A, 25 explosions; Crater B, 9; Crater C, 13; and Crater D, 4. Bombs thrown from Craters B, C, and D fell back into the vent or onto the crater wall. Some larger explosions, every 20-30 minutes, threw bombs 350 m high. During the night, bombs thrown onto the crater wall glowed for up to 6 minutes. The explosions and shaking were felt up to 3 km away.

A fresh bomb collected in August 1997 (BGVN 22:08) was recently analyzed by microprobe (table 1).

Table 1. Major element analysis of Yasur glass taken from an average of five analyses on fresh glass bomb collected in August 1997. All iron is shown as FeO. Microprobe analysis courtesy of Timothy O'Hearn; sample courtesy of Steve and Donna O'Meara, and Robert Benward.

Component Weight %
SiO2 58.61
TiO2 0.95
Al203 15.07
FeOt 8.68
MnO 0.25
MgO 2.49
CaO 5.44
Na2O 3.52
K2O 3.78
P2O5 0.66
Total 99.46

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: John Seach, P.O. Box 16, Chatsworth Island, N.S.W. 2469, Australia; Tim O'Hearn, Department of Mineral Sciences, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560-0119 USA.

Atmospheric Effects

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

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


Central Chile and Argentina


Estero de Parraguirre


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

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

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

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



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

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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


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

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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