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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

Klyuchevskoy (Russia) Renewed activity in October 2020 with explosions, lava flows, and ash plumes

Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) Occasional ash and gas-and-steam plumes along with summit thermal anomalies

Tinakula (Solomon Islands) Intermittent gas-and-steam plumes and weak thermal anomalies during July-December 2020

Erebus (Antarctica) Fewer thermal anomalies during 2020 compared to recent years

Aira (Japan) Intermittent explosions continue during July through December 2020

Nishinoshima (Japan) Eruption ends in late August 2020; lengthy cooling from extensive lava flows and large crater

Nyiragongo (DR Congo) Strong thermal anomalies and gas emission from lava lake through November 2020

Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) Gas-and-steam emissions with some re-suspended ash in November 2020

Kerinci (Indonesia) Intermittent ash plumes and gas-and-steam emissions during June-November 2020

Suwanosejima (Japan) Explosion rate increases during July-December 2020, bomb ejected 1.3 km from crater on 28 December

Karangetang (Indonesia) Hot material on the NW flank in November 2020; intermittent crater thermal anomalies

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) Dome growth and ash emissions continue during July-December 2020



Klyuchevskoy (Russia) — January 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Klyuchevskoy

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Renewed activity in October 2020 with explosions, lava flows, and ash plumes

Klyuchevskoy, located in northern Kamchatka, has had historical eruptions dating back 3,000 years characterized by major explosive and effusive eruptions from the flank craters. The current eruption began in April 2019 and has recently consisted of Strombolian activity, ash plumes, and an active lava flow descending the SE flank (BGVN 45:09). This report covers September-December 2020 and describes similar activity of Strombolian explosions, ash plumes, and active lava flows beginning in early October. Information primarily comes from weekly and daily reports from the Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT), the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory (VAAC), and satellite data.

Activity from July through September was relatively low, with no thermal activity detected during August-September. On 2 October renewed Strombolian explosions began at 1003, ejecting ash 300-400 m above the summit and producing gas-and-steam plumes with some ash that drifted down the E flank (figure 48). That night, crater incandescence was visible. On 5 October KVERT reported that a lava flow began to effuse along the Apakhonchich chute at 0100. During 7-8 October activity intensified and was characterized by strong explosions, collapses of the sides of the drainage, strong thermal anomalies, and ash plumes that extended over 200 km SE from the crater; the lava flow remained active and continued to descend the SE flank. A Tokyo VAAC advisory issued on 7 October reported that an ash plume rose to 8.8 km altitude and drifted E and SE; during 8-9 October ash plumes rose to 5.5 km altitude and drifted as far as 270 km SE. A strong, bright, thermal anomaly was observed daily in satellite imagery, which represented the new lava flow. Strombolian explosions continued throughout the month, accompanied by gas-and-steam plumes containing some ash and an active lava flow advancing down the Apakhonchich chute on the SE flank (figure 49).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Photos of a gray ash plume (left) and the beginning of the lava flow (right), represented as summit crater incandescence at Klyuchevskoy on 2 October 2020 at 1030 and 2100, respectively. Photos by Y. Demyanchuk; courtesy of Volkstat.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Photo of Strombolian explosions at the summit of Klyuchevskoy accompanied by ash emissions and a lava flow advancing down the SE-flank Apakhonchich chute on 25 October 2020. Photo by Y. Demyanchuk (color corrected); courtesy of Volkstat.

Similar activity continued to be reported in November, consisting of Strombolian explosions, ash plumes, and a lava flow advancing down the SE flank. A bright thermal anomaly was observed in thermal satellite imagery each day during the month. During 16-19 November explosions recorded in satellite and video data showed ash plumes rising to 7.5 km altitude and drifting as far as 108 km to the NE, E, SE, and S (figure 50). On 19 November an ash cloud 65 x 70 km in size drifted 50 km SE, according to a KVERT VONA (Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation). During 26-30 November video and satellite data showed that gas-and-steam plumes containing some ash rose to 7 km altitude and extended as far as 300 km NW and E, accompanied by persistent moderate explosive-effusive activity (figure 51).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Photo of the Strombolian and Vulcanian explosions at Klyuchevskoy on 18 November 2020 which produced a dense gray ash plume. Photo by Yu. Demyanchuk, IVS FEB RAS, KVERT
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Photo of the summit of Klyuchevskoy (right foreground) showing incandescent Strombolian explosions, the lava flow descending the Apakhonchich chute on the SE flank, and a gray ash plume on 29 November 2020. Kamen volcano is the cone at back left. Photo by Y. Demyanchuk (color corrected); courtesy of Volkstat.

Moderate explosive-effusive activity continued through December; a strong daily thermal anomaly was visible in satellite images. During 2-3 December gas-and-steam plumes containing some ash rose to 7 km altitude and extended 300 km NW and E. Intermittent gas-and-ash plumes continued through the month. On 7 December KVERT reported that a new lava flow began to advance down the Kozyrevsky chute on the S flank, while the flow on the SE flank continued. Strombolian explosions in the crater ejected incandescent material up to 300 m above the crater on 8 December while hot material was deposited and traveled 350 m below the crater. A cinder cone was observed growing in the summit crater and measured 75 m tall.

Strombolian and Vulcanian activity continued during 11-25 December, accompanied by the lava flow on the S flank; according to Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images, the effusion on the SE flank had stopped around 13 December and had begun to cool. The lava flow in the Kozyrevsky chute spalled off incandescent material that continued to travel an additional 350 m. Gas-and-steam plumes that contained some ash rose to 6 km altitude and drifted up to 350 km generally E. On 24 December the Kamchatka Volcanological Station field team visited Klyuchevskoy to do work on the field stations. The scientists observed explosions that ejected incandescent material 300 m above the crater and the S-flank lava flow (figure 52). On 28 December KVERT reported that the moderate explosive-effusive eruption continued, but the intensity of the explosions had significantly decreased. The lava flow on the S flank continued to effuse, but its flow rate had already decreased.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Photos of a dense ash plume (left) and a color corrected photo of the lava flow advancing on the S flank (right) of Klyuchevskoy on 24 December 2020, accompanied by incandescent Strombolian explosions and a gray ash plume. Photos by Y. Demyanchuk; courtesy of Volkstat.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows frequent and strong thermal activity beginning in early October and continuing through December 2020, which is represented by the active lava flows reported in the summit crater (figure 53). According to the MODVOLC thermal algorithm, a total of 615 thermal alerts were detected at or near the summit crater from 1 October to 31 December; none were reported in September. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery frequently showed the progression of the active lava flows as a strong thermal anomaly descending the SE flank during October through late November and the SW flank during December, sometimes even through weather clouds (figure 54). The thermal anomalies were commonly accompanied by a gas-and-steam plume that drifted mainly E and NE. A total of 164 VAAC advisories were issued from 2 October through 31 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Strong and frequent thermal anomalies were detected in early October at Klyuchevskoy and continued through December 2020, as recorded by the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power). Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing the progression of two lava flows (bright yellow-orange) originating from the summit crater at Klyuchevskoy from 4 October through December 2020. Crater incandescence was visible on 4 October (top left), which marked the beginning of the lava flow. By 31 October (top right) the active flow had traveled down the Apakhonchich chute on the SE flank, accompanied by a gas-and-steam plume that drifted NE. On 10 November (bottom left) the lava flow continued down the SE flank; the darker black color represents parts of the lava flow that began to cool. The gas-and-steam plume drifted E from the summit. On 25 December (bottom right) a new lava flow was observed descending the SW flank, also accompanied by a strong gas-and-steam plume. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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/); Kamchatka Volcanological Station, Klyuchi, Kamchatka Krai, Russia (URL: http://volkstat.ru/); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); 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).


Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) — January 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Kadovar

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Occasional ash and gas-and-steam plumes along with summit thermal anomalies

Kadovar is located in the Bismark Sea offshore from the mainland of Papua New Guinea about 25 km NNE from the mouth of the Sepik River. Its first confirmed eruption began in early January 2018, characterized by ash plumes and a lava extrusion that resulted in the evacuation of around 600 residents from the N side of the island (BGVN 43:03). Activity has recently consisted of intermittent ash plumes, gas-and-steam plumes, and thermal anomalies (BGVN 45:07). Similar activity continued during this reporting period of July-December 2020 using information from the Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

RVO issued an information bulletin on 15 July reporting minor eruptive activity during 1-5 July with moderate light-gray ash emissions rising a few hundred meters above the Main Crater. On 5 July activity intensified; explosions recorded at 1652 and 1815 generated a dense dark gray ash plume that rose 1 km above the crater and drifted W. Activity subsided that day, though fluctuating summit crater incandescence was visible at night. Activity increased again during 8-10 July, characterized by explosions detected on 8 July at 2045, on 9 July at 1145 and 1400, and on 10 July at 0950 and 1125, each of which produced a dark gray ash plume that rose 1 km above the crater. According to Darwin VAAC advisories issued on 10, 16, and 30 July ash plumes were observed rising to 1.5-1.8 km altitude and drifting NW.

Gas-and-steam emissions and occasional ash plumes were observed in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on clear weather days during August through December (figure 56). Ash plumes rose to 1.2 and 1.5 km altitude on 3 and 16 August, respectively, and drifted NW, according to Darwin VAAC advisories. On 26 August an ash plume rose to 2.1 km altitude and drifted WNW before dissipating within 1-2 hours. Similar activity was reported during September-November, according to several Darwin VAAC reports; ash plumes rose to 0.9-2.1 km altitude and drifted mainly NW. VAAC notices were issued on 12 and 22 September, 4, 7-8, and 18 October, and 18 November. A single MODVOLC alert was issued on 27 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Sentinel-2 satellite data showing a consistent gas-and-steam plume originating from the summit of Kadovar during August-December 2020 and drifting NW. On 21 September (top right) a gray plume was seen drifting several kilometers from the island to the NW. Images with “Natural color” (bands 4, 3, 2) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows intermittent low-power anomalies during July through December 2020 (figure 57). Some of this thermal activity in the summit crater was observed in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery, accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions that drifted primarily NW (figure 58).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Intermittent low-power thermal anomalies at Kadovar were detected in the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power) during July through December 2020. The island location is mislocated in the MIROVA system by about 5.5 km SE due to older mis-registered imagery; the anomalies are all on the island. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Sentinel-2 satellite data showing thermal anomalies at the summit of Kadovar on 23 July (top left), 7 August (top right), 1 September (bottom left), and 21 September (bottom right) 2020, occasionally accompanied by a gas-and-steam plume drifting dominantly NW. Two thermal anomalies were visible on the E rim of the summit crater on 23 July (top left) and 7 August (top right). Images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The 2-km-wide island of Kadovar is the emergent summit of a Bismarck Sea stratovolcano of Holocene age. It is part of the Schouten Islands, and lies off the coast of New Guinea, about 25 km N of the mouth of the Sepik River. Prior to an eruption that began in 2018, a lava dome formed the high point of the andesitic volcano, filling an arcuate landslide scarp open to the south; submarine debris-avalanche deposits occur in that direction. Thick lava flows with columnar jointing forms low cliffs along the coast. The youthful island lacks fringing or offshore reefs. A period of heightened thermal phenomena took place in 1976. An eruption began in January 2018 that included lava effusion from vents at the summit and at the E coast.

Information Contacts: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Tinakula (Solomon Islands) — January 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Tinakula

Solomon Islands

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent gas-and-steam plumes and weak thermal anomalies during July-December 2020

Tinakula is located 100 km NE of the Solomon Trench at the N end of the Santa Cruz. The current eruption began in December 2018 and has recently been characterized by intermittent small thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam plumes (BGVN 45:07), which continued into the current reporting period of July-December 2020. Information primarily comes from various satellite data, as ground observations are rarely available.

Infrared MODIS satellite data processed by MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) showed a total of ten low-power thermal anomalies during July through December; one anomaly was detected in early July, two in late August, three in November, and four in December (figure 44). A single MODVOLC alert was issued on 16 December, which was visible in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery on 17 December (figure 45). Though clouds often obscured the view of the summit crater, Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed intermittent dense gas-and-steam plumes rising from the summit that drifted in different directions (figure 45).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Low-power thermal anomalies at Tinakula were detected intermittently during April-December 2020 by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power). Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery shows ongoing gas-and-steam plumes rising from Tinakula during July-December 2020. A small thermal anomaly (bright yellow-orange) is visible on 17 December (bottom right) using “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8a) rendering. All other images using “Natural color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

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


Erebus (Antarctica) — January 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Erebus

Antarctica

77.53°S, 167.17°E; summit elev. 3794 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fewer thermal anomalies during 2020 compared to recent years

Erebus, located on Ross Island, Antarctica, and overlooking the McMurdo research station, is the southernmost active volcano in the world. The stratovolcano, which frequently has active lava lakes in its 250-m wide summit crater, is primarily monitored by satellite.

Thermal activity during 2020 was at lower levels than in recent years. The total number of thermal pixels, as recorded by MODIS thermal emission instruments aboard NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites, was 76 (table 6), similar to low totals recorded in 2000 and 2015.

Table 6. Number of monthly MODIS-MODVOLC thermal alert pixels recorded at Erebus during 2017-2020. See BGVN 42:06 for data from 2000 through 2016. The table was compiled using data provided by the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec SUM
2017 0 21 9 0 0 1 11 61 76 52 0 3 234
2018 0 21 58 182 55 17 137 172 103 29 0 0 774
2019 2 21 162 151 55 56 75 53 29 19 1 0 624
2020 0 2 16 18 4 4 1 3 18 3 1 6 76

Sentinel-2 satellite images showed two lava lakes, with one diminishing in size during the year (figure 29). Occasionally a gas plume could be observed. The volcano was frequently covered by atmospheric clouds on days when the satellite passed over.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Infrared Sentinel-2 thermal images of the summit crater area of Erebus in 2020. Left: Image on 28 February 2020 showing two lava lakes in the summit crater. Right: Image on 4 October 2020 showing a single primary lake, with a much diminished second lake immediately SW. The main crater is 500 x 600 m wide. Both images are using the Atmospheric Penetration filter (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Mount Erebus, the world's southernmost historically active volcano, overlooks the McMurdo research station on Ross Island. It is the largest of three major volcanoes forming the crudely triangular Ross Island. The summit of the dominantly phonolitic volcano has been modified by one or two generations of caldera formation. A summit plateau at about 3,200 m elevation marks the rim of the youngest caldera, which formed during the late-Pleistocene and within which the modern cone was constructed. An elliptical 500 x 600 m wide, 110-m-deep crater truncates the summit and contains an active lava lake within a 250-m-wide, 100-m-deep inner crater; other lava lakes are sometimes present. The glacier-covered volcano was erupting when first sighted by Captain James Ross in 1841. Continuous lava-lake activity with minor explosions, punctuated by occasional larger Strombolian explosions that eject bombs onto the crater rim, has been documented since 1972, but has probably been occurring for much of the volcano's recent history.

Information Contacts: 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).


Aira (Japan) — January 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent explosions continue during July through December 2020

Sakurajima is the active volcano within the Aira Caldera in Kyushu, Japan. With several craters historically active, the current activity is concentrated in the Minamidake summit crater. Activity usually consists of small explosions producing ashfall and ballistic ejecta, with occasional pyroclastic flows and lahars. The current eruption has been ongoing since 25 March 2017, but activity has been frequent over the past few hundred years. This bulletin summarizes activity that occurred during July through December 2020 and is largely based on reports by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and satellite data. The Alert Level remains at 3 on a 5-level scale. There was no activity at the Showa crater in 2020.

The number of recorded explosive and ash eruptions for 2020 at the Minamidake crater were 221 and 432, respectively (228 and 393 the previous year). Activity declined in July and remained low through the end of December. There was ash reported on 79 days of the year, most frequently in January, and only 26 of those days during August-December (table 24 and figure 104). The largest ash plumes during this time reached 5 km at 0538 on 9 August, 3 km at 1959 on 17 December, and 3.5 km at 1614 on 29 December. The decline in events was reflected in thermal data, with a decline in energy detected during June through October (figure 105). Recorded SO2 was generally high in the first half of the year then began to decrease from April to around 1,000 tons/day until around late May. Emissions increased after August and were extremely high in October. There were no notable changes in the geothermal areas around the craters.

Table 24. Number of monthly total eruptions, explosive eruptions, days of ashfall, and ashfall amounts from Sakurajima's Minamidake crater at Aira during 2020. Note that smaller events that did not reach the threshold of explosions or eruptions also occurred. Ashfall was measured at Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory; ash weights are rounded down to the nearest 0.5 g/m2 and zero values indicate that less than this amount was recorded. Data courtesy of JMA.

MonthExplosive EruptionsAsh EruptionsDays of AshfallAshfall Amount (g/m2)
Jan 2020 65 104 12 75
Feb 2020 67 129 14 21
Mar 2020 10 26 8 3
Apr 2020 14 51 2 0
May 2020 24 51 8 19
Jun 2020 16 28 9 71
Jul 2020 0 0 0 0
Aug 2020 1 1 1 0
Sep 2020 0 7 4 2
Oct 2020 0 2 6 2
Nov 2020 6 8 11 5
Dec 2020 18 25 4 14
Total 2020 221 432 79 212
Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. The total calculated observed ash erupted from Aira's Sakurajima volcano. Top: Annual values from January 1980 to November 2020. Bottom: the monthly values during January 2009 through November 2020. Courtesy of JMA (January 2021 Sakurajima monthly report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Thermal data detected at Aira's Sakurajima volcano during February through December 2020 by the MIROVA thermal detection system that uses MODIS satellite middle infrared data. There was a decline in activity during June-September, with energy emitted in November-December remaining lower than earlier in the year. Courtesy of MIROVA.

During July "very small" explosions were observed on the 1st, 2nd, and 8th, with the last explosion producing a plume up to 600 m above the crater. These events didn't generate enough of an ash plume to be counted as either a quiet or explosive eruption, leaving no eruptions reported during July. No incandescence was observed at the crater since 3 June. Field surveys on 2, 13, and 21 July detected 600 to 1,300 tons of SO2 per day.

An explosion occurred at 0538 on 9 August, producing an ash plume to 5 km above the crater, dispersing NE (figure 106). This was the largest explosion observed through the Sakurajima surveillance camera since 8 November 2019. Ashfall was reported in Kagoshima City, Aira City, Kirishima City, Yusui Town, and parts of Miyazaki and Kumamoto Prefectures. Ashfall measured to be 300 g/m2 in Shirahama on Sakurajima island (figure 106). No ballistic ejecta were observed due to clouds at the summit, but very small explosions were occasionally observed afterwards.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. An explosion at Aira's Sakurajima volcano at 0538 on 9 August 2020 (top, taken from the Ushine surveillance camera in Kagoshima) produced ashfall in Shirahama on Sakurajima (bottom). The plume contains a white steam-rich portion on the left, and a darker relatively ash-rich portion on the right. Images courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima August 2020 monthly report).

A small lake or pond in the eastern Minamidake crater was first observed in PlanetScope satellite imagery on 1 August (through light cloud cover) and intermittently observed when the summit was clear through to the 22nd (figure 107). The summit is obscured by cloud cover in many images before this date. An observation flight on 14 August confirmed weak gas emission from the inner southern wall of the Showa crater, and a 200-m-high gas plume rose from the Minamidake crater, dispersing SE (figure 108). Thermal imaging showed elevated temperatures within the crater. SO2 measurements were conducted during field surveys on the 3rd, 13th, 24th and 31st, with amounts similar to July at 600 to 1,400 tons per day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. A crater lake is visible in the eastern part of the Minamidake summit crater at Aira's Sakurajima volcano on 5, 18, and 22 August 2020. Four-band PlanetScope satellite images courtesy of Planet Labs.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. Gas emissions from the Minamidake and Showa craters at Sakurajima in the Aira caldera on 14 August 2020. Photos taken from the from Kagoshima Prefecture disaster prevention helicopter at 1510-1513. Courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima August monthly report).

Activity continued at Minamidake crater throughout September with seven observed eruptions sending plumes up to 1.7 km above the crater, and additional smaller events (figure 109). An ash plume reached 1 km at 0810 on the 15th. Ashfall was reported on four days through the month with a total of 2 g/m2 measured. Incandescence was observed in nighttime surveillance cameras from the 9-10th for the first time since 2 June, then continued through the month. There was an increase in detected SO2, with measurements on the 11th and 25th ranging from 1,300 to 2,000 tons per day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. Examples of activity at Aira's Sakurajima volcano on 4, 10, and 14 September 2020. The images show an ash plume reaching 1.7 km above the crater (top left), a gas-and-steam plume (bottom left), and incandescence at night visible in a gas-and steam plume (right). Images courtesy of JMA (September 2020 Sakurajima monthly report).

During October two eruptions and occasional smaller events occurred at the Minamidake crater and there were six days where ashfall occurred at the Kagoshima Local Meteorology Observatory (including remobilized ash). An ash plume rose to 1.7 km above the crater at 1635 on the 3rd and 1 km on the 30th. Incandescence was observed at night through the month (figure 110). Gas surveys on the 20th, 21st, 23rd, and 26th recorded 2,200-6,600 tons of SO2 per day, which are high to very high levels and a large increase compared to previous months. An observation flight on the 13th confirmed lava in the bottom of the Minamidake crater (figure 111). Gas emissions were rising to 300 m above the Minamidake crater, but no emissions were observed at the Showa crater (figure 112).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. Gas emissions and incandescence seen above the Sakurajima Minamidake crater at Aira on 10 and 23 October 2020. Courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima October 2020 monthly report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. Lava was observed on the floor of the Minamidake summit crater at Aira's Sakurajima volcano on 13 October 2020, indicated by the yellow dashed line. Courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima October 2020 monthly report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. An observation flight on 13 October 2020 noted gas emissions up to 300 m above the Minamidake crater at Sakurajima, but no emissions from the Showa crater. Courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima October 2020 monthly report).

Eight ash eruptions and six explosive eruptions occurred during November as well as additional very small events. At 1551 on the 3rd an ash plume reached 1.8 km above the crater and an event at 1335 on the 10th produced large ballistic ejecta out to 600-900 m from the crater (figure 113). Ashfall was reported on 11 days this month (including remobilized ash). Incandescence was observed at night and elevated temperatures in the Minamidake crater were detected by satellites (figure 114). Detected SO2 was lower this month, with amounts ranging between 1,300 and 2,200 on the 9th, 18th and 24th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 113. Ash plumes at Aira's Sakurajima volcano rise from the Minamidake crater in November 2020. Left: an ash plume rose to 1.8 km above the crater at 1551 on the 3rd and drifted SE. on 3 (left) and 10 (right) November 2020. Right: An explosion at 1335 on the 10th produced an ash plume to 1.6 km above the crater and ballistic ejecta out to 600-900 m, with one projectile indicated by the red arrow. Courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima November 2020 monthly report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 114. An ash plume drifts SE from the Minamidake crater at Aira's Sakurajima volcano on 8 November 2020. This thermal image also shows elevated temperatures in the crater. Sentinel-2 False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During December there were 25 ash eruptions and 18 explosive eruptions recorded, with large ballistic ejecta reaching 1.3-1.7 km from the crater (figure 115). An explosion on the 2nd sent an ash plume up to 1 km above the crater and ballistic ejecta out to 1-1.3 km, and an event at 0404 on the 12th produced incandescent ballistic ejecta reached out to 1.3-1.7 km from the crater. At 1959 on 17 December an explosion generated an ash plume up to 3 km above the crater and ejecta out to 1.3-1.7 km. A photograph that day showed an ash plume with volcanic lightning and incandescent ejecta impacting around the crater (figure 116). On the 18th an ash plume reached 1.8 km and ejecta impacted out to 1-1.3 km. An event at 1614 on the 29th produced an ash plume reaching 3.5 km above the crater. Elevated temperatures within the Minamidake crater and plumes were observed intermittently in satellite data through the month (figure 117). This month there were four days where ashfall was recorded with a total of 14 g/m2. Incandescence continued to be observed at night through the month. High levels of gas emission continued, with field surveys on 2nd, 7th, 16th and 21st recording values ranging from 1,500 to 2,900 tons per day at the Observatory located 11 km SW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 115. Explosions at Aira's Sakurajima volcano from the Minamidake summit crater in December 2020. Top: An explosion recorded at 0404 on the 12th produced incandescent ballistic ejecta out to 1.3-1.7 km from the crater, with an example indicated in the red circle. Bottom: An explosion at 1614 on the 29th produced an ash plume up to 3.5 km above the crater, and ballistic ejecta out to 1.3-1.7 km. Courtesy of JMA (top, from Sakurajima December 2020 monthly report) and Volcano Time Lapse (bottom).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 116. An explosion from Sakurajima's Minamidake crater at Aira produced an ash plume with volcanic lightning on 17 December 2020. Photograph taken from Tarumizu city, courtesy of Kyodo/via Reuters.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 117. Activity at Aira's Sakurajima volcano during December 2020. Top: Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image showing a diffuse gas-and-steam plume dispersing to the SE with elevated temperatures within the Minamidake summit crater on the 22nd. PlanetScope satellite image showing an ash plume dispersing between the N and E on the 26th. Sentinel-2 False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground. PlanetScope satellite image courtesy of Planet Labs.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Kyodo/via REUTERS, "Photos of the Week" (URL: https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/photos-of-the-week-idUSRTX8HYLR); Volcano Time-Lapse, YouTube (URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTgd152oGVo).


Nishinoshima (Japan) — February 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Nishinoshima

Japan

27.247°N, 140.874°E; summit elev. 25 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption ends in late August 2020; lengthy cooling from extensive lava flows and large crater

Japan’s Nishinoshima volcano, located about 1,000 km S of Tokyo in the Ogasawara Arc, erupted above sea level in November 2013 after 40 years of dormancy. Activity lasted for two years followed by two brief eruptions in 2017 and 2018. The next eruption, from early December 2019 through August 2020, included ash plumes, incandescent ejecta, and lava flows; it produced a large pyroclastic cone with a wide summit crater and extensive lava flows that significantly enlarged the island. This report covers the end of the eruption and cooling during September 2020-January 2021. Information is provided primarily from Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) monthly reports and the Japan Coast Guard (JCG), which makes regular observation overflights.

Ash emissions were last reported on 27 August 2020. The very high levels of thermal energy from numerous lava flows, ash, and incandescent tephra that peaked during early July decreased significantly during August and September. Continued cooling of the fresh lava and the summit crater lasted into early January 2021 (figure 107). Monthly overflights and observations by scientists confirmed areas of steam emissions at the summit and on the flanks and discolored water around the island, but no eruptive activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. High levels of thermal activity at Nishinoshima during June and July 2020 resulted from extensive lava flows and explosions of incandescent tephra. Although the last ash emission was reported on 27 August 2020, cooling of new material lasted into early January 2021. The MIROVA log radiative power graph of thermal activity covers the year ending on 3 February 2021. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Thermal activity declined significantly at Nishinoshima during August 2020 (BGVN 45:09). Only two days had two MODVOLC alerts (11 and 30), and four other days (18, 20, 21, 29) had single alerts. During JCG overflights on 19 and 23 August there were no ash emissions or lava flows observed, although steam plumes rose over 2 km above the summit crater during both visits. The last ash emission was reported by the Tokyo VAAC on 27 August 2020. No eruptive activity was observed by JMA during an overflight on 5 September, but steam plumes were rising from the summit crater (figure 108). No significant changes were observed in the shape of the pyroclastic cone or the coastline. Yellowish brown discolored water appeared around the western half of the island, and high temperature was still measured on the inner wall of the crater. Faint traces of SO2 plumes were present in satellite images in early September; the last plume identified was on 18 September. Six days with single MODVOLC alerts were recorded during 3-19 September, and the final thermal alert appeared on 1 October 2020.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. No eruptive activity was observed during a JMA overflight of Nishinoshima on 5 September 2020, but steam rose from numerous places within the enlarged summit crater (inset). Courtesy of JMA and JCG (Monthly report of activity at Nishinoshima, September 2020).

Steam plumes and high temperatures were noted at the summit crater on 28 October, and brown discolored water was present around the S coast of the island (figure 109), but there were no other signs of volcanic activity. Observations from the sea conducted on 2 November 2020 by researchers aboard the Maritime Meteorological Observatory marine weather observation ship "Ryofu Maru" confirmed there was no ongoing eruptive activity. In addition to steam plumes at the summit, they also noted steam rising from multiple cracks on the cooling surface of the lava flow area on the N side of the pyroclastic cone (figure 110). Only steam plumes from inside the summit crater were observed during an overflight on 24 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. On a JCG overflight above Nishinoshima on 28 October 2020 there were no signs of eruptive activity; steam plumes were present in the summit crater and brown discolored water was visible around the S coast of the island. Courtesy of JMA and JCG (Monthly report of activity at Nishinoshima, October 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. Observations of Nishinoshima by staff aboard the Maritime Meteorological Observatory ship "Ryofu Maru" on 2 November 2020 showed a steam plume rising from the lava flow area on the N side of the pyroclastic cone (arrow) and minor steam above the cone. Courtesy of JMA (Monthly report of activity at Nishinoshima, November 2020).

JMA reduced the warning area around the crater on 18 December 2020 from 2.5 to 1.5 km due to decreased activity. On 7 December a steam plume rose from the inner wall of the summit crater and thermal imaging indicated the area was still hot. Brown discolored water was observed on the SE and SW coasts. Researchers aboard a ship from the Earthquake Research Institute at the University of Tokyo and the Marine Research and Development Organization reported continued steam plumes in the summit crater, around the lava flows on the N flank, and along the S coast during 15-29 December (figure 111). Steam plumes and elevated temperatures were still measured inside the summit crater during an overflight by the Japan Coast Guard on 25 January 2021, and discolored water persisted on the SE and SW coasts; there was no evidence of eruptive activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. Observations of Nishinoshima from the sea by researchers from the Earthquake Research Institute (University of Tokyo) and the Marine Research and Development Organization, which took place from 15-29 December 2020, showed fumarolic acitivity not only inside the summit crater, but also in the lava flow area on the N side of the pyroclastic cone (left, 20 December) and in places along the southern coast (right, 23 December). (Monthly report of activity at Nishinoshima, December 2020).

Geologic Background. The small island of Nishinoshima was enlarged when several new islands coalesced during an eruption in 1973-74. Another eruption that began offshore in 2013 completely covered the previous exposed surface and enlarged the island again. Water discoloration has been observed on several occasions since. The island is the summit of a massive submarine volcano that has prominent satellitic peaks to the S, W, and NE. The summit of the southern cone rises to within 214 m of the sea surface 9 km SSE.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Japan Coast Guard (JCG) Volcano Database, Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department, 3-1-1, Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8932, Japan (URL: http://www.kaiho.mlit.go.jp/info/kouhou/h29/index.html); Volcano Research Center (VRC-ERI), Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan (URL: http://www.eri.u-tokyo.ac.jp/topics/ASAMA2004/index-e.html); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); NASA 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/).


Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strong thermal anomalies and gas emission from lava lake through November 2020

Nyiragongo is a stratovolcano in the DR Congo with a deep summit crater containing a lava lake and a small active cone. During June 2018-May 2020, the volcano exhibited strong thermal signals primarily due to the lava lake, along with incandescence, seismicity, and gas-and-steam plumes (BGVN 44:05, 44:12, 45:06). The volcano is monitored by the Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG). This report summarizes activity during June-November 2020, based on satellite data.

Infrared MODIS satellite data showed almost daily strong thermal activity during June-November 2020 from MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), consistent with a large lava lake. Numerous hotspots were also identified every month by MODVOLC. Although clouds frequently obscured the view from space, a clear Sentinel-2 image in early June showed a gas-and-steam plume as well as a strong thermal anomaly (figure 76).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of Nyiragongo on 1 June 2020. A gas-and-steam is visible in the natural color image (bands 4, 3, 2) rising from a pit in the center of the crater (left), while the false color image (bands 12, 11, 4) reveals a strong thermal signal from a lava lake (right). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During the first half of June 2020, OVG reported that SO2 levels had decreased compared to levels in May (7,000 tons/day); during the second half of June the SO2 flux began to increase again. High levels of sulfur dioxide were recorded almost every day in the region above or near the volcano by the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) aboard the Copernicus Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite (figure 77). According to OVG, SO2 flux ranged from 819-5,819 tons/day during June. The number of days with a high SO2 flux decreased somewhat in July and August, with high levels recorded during about half of the days. The volume of SO2 emissions slightly increased in early July, based on data from the DOAS station in Rusayo, measuring 6,787 tons/day on 8 July (the highest value reported during this reporting period), and then declined to 509 tons/day by 20 July. The SO2 flux continued to gradually decline, with high values of 5,153 tons/day in August and 4,468 tons/day in September. The number of days with high SO2 decreased further in September and October but returned to about half of the days in November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. TROPOMI image of SO2 plume on 27 June 2020 in the Nyiragongo-Nyamulagira area. The plume drifted SSE. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

During 12-13 July a multidisciplinary team of OVG scientists visited the volcano to take measurements of the crater using a TCRM1102 Plus2 laser. They noted that the crater had expanded by 47.3 mm in the SW area, due to the rise in the lava lake level since early 2020. The OVG team took photos of the small cone in the lava lake that has been active since 2014, recently characterized by white gas-and-steam emissions (figure 78). OVG noted that the active lava lake had subsided roughly 20 m (figure78).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Photos (color corrected) of the crater at Nyiragongo showing the small active cone generating gas-and-steam emissions (left) and the active lava lake also characterized by white gas-and-steam emissions on 12 July 2020 (right). Courtesy of OVG (Rapport OVG Juillet 2020).

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

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; 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); NASA 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/).


Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Whakaari/White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Gas-and-steam emissions with some re-suspended ash in November 2020

Whakaari/White Island, located in the Bay of Plenty 50 km offshore of North Island, has been New Zealand’s most active volcano since 1976. Activity has been previously characterized by phreatic activity, explosions, and ash emissions (BGVN 42:05). The most recent eruption occurred on 9 December 2019, which consisted of an explosion that generated an ash plume and pyroclastic surge that affected the entire crater area, resulting in 21 fatalities and many injuries (BGVN 45:02). This report updates information from February through November 2020, which includes dominantly gas-and-steam emissions along with elevated surface temperatures, using reports from the New Zealand GeoNet Project, the Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and satellite data.

Activity at Whakaari/White Island has declined and has been dominated by white gas-and-steam emissions during the reporting period; no explosive eruptive activity has been detected since 9 December 2019. During February through 22 June, the Volcanic Activity Level (VAL) remained at a 2 (moderate to heightened volcanic unrest) and the Aviation Color Code was Yellow. GeoNet reported that satellite data showed some subsidence along the W wall of the Main Crater and near the 1914 landslide scarp, though the rate had reduced compared to previous months. Thermal infrared data indicated that the fumarolic gases and five lobes of lava that were first observed in early January 2020 in the Main Crater were 550-570°C on 4 February and 660°C on 19 February. A small pond of water had begun to form in the vent area and exhibited small-scale gas-and-steam-driven water jetting, similar to the activity during September-December 2019. Gas data showed a steady decline in SO2 and CO2 levels, though overall they were still slightly elevated.

Similar activity was reported in March and April; the temperatures of the fumaroles and lava in the Main Crater were 746°C on 10 March, the highest recorded temperature to date. SO2 and CO2 gas emissions remained elevated, though had overall decreased since December 2019. Small-scale water jetting continued to be observed in the vent area. During April, public reports mentioned heightened gas-and-steam activity, but no eruptions were detected. A GeoNet report issued on 16 April stated that high temperatures were apparent in the vent area at night.

Whakaari remained at an elevated state of unrest during May, consisting of dominantly gas-and-steam emissions. Monitoring flights noted that SO2 and CO2 emissions had increased briefly during 20-27 May. On 20 May, the lava lobes remained hot, with temperatures around 500°C; a nighttime glow from the gas emissions surrounding the lava was visible in webcam images. Tremor levels remained low with occasional slightly elevated episodes, which included some shallow-source volcanic earthquakes. Satellite-based measurements recorded several centimeters of subsidence in the ground around the active vent area since December 2019. During a gas observation flight on 28 May there was a short-lived gas pulse, accompanied by an increase in SO2 and CO2 emissions, and minor inflation in the vent area (figure 96).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. Photo of a strong gas-and-steam plume rising above Whakaari/White Island on 28 May 2020. Courtesy of GeoNet.

An observation flight made on 3 June reported a decline in gas flux compared to the measurements made on 28 May. Thermal infrared images taken during the flight showed that the lava lobes were still hot, at 450°C, and continued to generate incandescence that was visible at night in webcams. On 16 June the VAL was lowered to 1 (minor volcanic unrest) and on 22 June the Aviation Color Code had decreased to Green.

Minor volcanic unrest continued in July; the level of volcanic tremors has remained generally low, with the exception of two short bursts of moderate volcanic tremors in at the beginning of the month. Temperatures in the active vents remained high (540°C) and volcanic gases persisted at moderate rate, similar to those measured since May, according to an observation flight made during the week of 30 July. Subsidence continued to be observed in the active vent area, as well as along the main crater wall, S and W of the active vents. Recent rainfall has created small ponds of water on the crater floor, though they did not infiltrate the vent areas.

Gas-and-steam emissions persisted during August through October at relatively high rates (figures 97 and 98). A short episode of moderate volcanic tremor was detected in early August, but otherwise seismicity remained low. Updated temperatures of the active vent area were 440°C on 15 September, which had decreased 100°C since July. Rain continued to collect at the crater floor, forming a small lake; minor areas of gas-and-steam emissions can be seen in this lake. Ongoing subsidence was observed on the Main Crater wall and S and W of the 2019 active vents.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Photo of an observation flight over Whakaari/White Island on 8 September 2020 showing white gas-and-steam emissions from the vent area. Photo courtesy of Brad Scott, GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. Image of Whakaari/White Island from Whakatane in the North Island of New Zealand showing a white gas-and-steam plume on 26 October 2020. Courtesy of GeoNet.

Activity during November was primarily characterized by persistent, moderate-to-large gas-and-steam plumes that drifted downwind for several kilometers but did not reach the mainland. The SO2 flux was 618 tons/day and the CO2 flux was 2,390 tons/day. New observations on 11 November noted some occasional ash deposits on the webcams in conjunction with mainland reports of a darker than usual plume (figure 99). Satellite images provided by MetService, courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency, confirmed the ash emission, but later images showed little to no apparent ash; GNS confirmed that no eruptive activity had occurred. Initial analyses indicated that the ash originated from loose material around the vent was being entrained into the gas-and-steam plumes. Observations from an overflight on 12 November showed that there was no substantial change in the location and size of the active vents; rainfall continued to collect on the floor of the 1978/90 Crater, reforming the shallow lake. A small sequence of earthquakes was detected close to the volcano with several episodes of slightly increased volcanic tremors.

During 12-14 November the Wellington VAAC issued multiple advisories noting gas, steam, and ash plumes that rose to 1.5-1.8 km altitude and drifted E and SE, based on satellite data, reports from pilots, and reports from GeoNet. As a result, the VAL was increased to 2 and the Aviation Color Code was raised to Yellow. Scientists on another observation flight on 16 November reported that small amounts of ash continued to be present in gas-and-steam emissions, though laboratory analyses showed that this ash was resuspended material and not from new eruptive or magmatic activity. The SO2 and CO2 flux remained above background levels but were slightly lower than the previous week’s measurements: 710 tons/day and 1,937 tons/day. Seismicity was similar to the previous week, characterized by a sequence of small earthquakes, a larger than normal volcanic earthquake located near the volcano, and ongoing low-level volcanic tremors. During 16-17 November plumes with resuspended ash were observed rising to 460 m altitude, drifting E and NE, according to a VAAC advisory (figure 99). During 20-24 November gas-and-steam emissions that contained a minor amount of resuspended ash rose to 1.2 km altitude and drifted in multiple directions, based on webcam and satellite images and information from GeoNet.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. Left: Photo of a gas observation flight over Whakaari/White Island on 11 November 2020 showing some dark particles in the gas-and-steam plumes, which were deposited on some webcams. Photo has been color corrected and straightened. Courtesy of GeoNet. Right: Photo showing gas, steam, and ash emissions rising above the 2019 Main Crater area on 16 November 2020. Courtesy of GNS Science (17 November 2020 report).

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows a total of eleven low-power thermal anomalies during January to late March 2020; a single weak thermal anomaly was detected in early July (figure 100). The elevated surface temperatures during February-May 2020 were detected in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images in the Main Crater area, occasionally accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions (figure 101). Persistent white gas-and-steam emissions rising above the Main Crater area were observed in satellite imagery on clear weather days and drifting in multiple directions (figure 102). The small lake that had formed due to rainfall was also visible to the E of the active vents.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. Low-power, infrequent thermal activity at Whakaari/White Island was detected during January through late March 2020, as reflected in the MIROVA data (Log Radiative Power). A single thermal anomaly was shown in early July. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images in the Main Crater area of Whakaari/White Island show residual elevated temperatures from the December 2019 eruption, accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions and drifting in different directions during February-May 2020. Images using “Atmospheric penetration” rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. Sentinel-2 images showing persistent white gas-and-steam plumes rising from Main Crater area of Whakaari/White Island during March-November 2020 and drifting in multiple directions. A small pond of water (light blue-green) is visible in the vent area to the E of the plumes. On 11 November (bottom right), the color of the plume is gray and contains a small amount of ash. Images using “Natural color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The uninhabited Whakaari/White Island is the 2 x 2.4 km emergent summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 50 km offshore of North Island. The island consists of two overlapping andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcanoes. The SE side of the crater is open at sea level, with the recent activity centered about 1 km from the shore close to the rear crater wall. Volckner Rocks, sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NW. Descriptions of volcanism since 1826 have included intermittent moderate phreatic, phreatomagmatic, and Strombolian eruptions; activity there also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. The formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries caused rapid changes in crater floor topography. Collapse of the crater wall in 1914 produced a debris avalanche that buried buildings and workers at a sulfur-mining project. Explosive activity in December 2019 took place while tourists were present, resulting in many fatalities. The official government name Whakaari/White Island is a combination of the full Maori name of Te Puia o Whakaari ("The Dramatic Volcano") and White Island (referencing the constant steam plume) given by Captain James Cook in 1769.

Information Contacts: New Zealand GeoNet Project, a collaboration between the Earthquake Commission and GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz/); GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/); Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd (MetService), PO Box 722, Wellington, New Zealand (URL: http://www.metservice.com/vaac/, http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/OTH/NZ/messages.html); 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); Brad Scott, GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: https://twitter.com/Eruptn).


Kerinci (Indonesia) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash plumes and gas-and-steam emissions during June-November 2020

Kerinci, located in Sumatra, Indonesia, has had numerous explosive eruptions since 1838, with more recent activity characterized by gas-and-steam and ash plumes. The current eruptive episode began in April 2018 and has recently consisted of intermittent brown ash emissions and white gas-and-steam emissions (BGVN 45:07); similar activity continued from June through November 2020. Information primarily comes from the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM, or the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation), MAGMA Indonesia, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and satellite data.

Activity has been characterized by dominantly white and brown gas-and-steam emissions and occasional ash plumes, according to PVMBG. Near daily gas-and-steam emissions were observed rising 50-6,400 m above the crater throughout the reporting period: beginning in late July and continuing intermittently though November. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed frequent brown emissions rising above the summit crater at varying intensities and drifting in different directions from July to November (figure 21).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of brown emissions at Kerinci from July through November 2020 drifting in multiple directions. On 27 July (top left) the brown emissions drifted SW. On 31 August (top right) the brown emissions drifted W. On 2 September (bottom left) slightly weaker brown emissions drifting W. On 4 November (bottom right) weak brown emissions mostly remained within the crater, some of which drifted E. Images using “Natural Color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During June through July the only activity reported by PVMBG consisted of white gas-and-steam emissions and brown emissions. On 4 June white gas-and-steam emissions rose to a maximum height of 6.4 km above the crater. White-and-brown emissions rose to a maximum height of 700 m above the crater on 2 June and 28 July.

Continuous white-and-brown gas-and-steam emissions were reported in August that rose 50-1,000 m above the crater. The number of ash plumes reported during this month increased compared to the previous months. In a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) issued on 7 August at 1024, PVMBG reported an ash plume that rose 600 m above the crater and drifted E, SE, and NE. In addition, the Darwin VAAC released two notices that described continuous minor ash emissions rising to 4.3 km altitude and drifting E and NE. On 9 August an ash plume rose 600 m above the crater and drifted ENE at 1140. An ash plume was observed rising to a maximum of 1 km above the crater, drifting E, SE, and NE on 12 August at 1602, according to a PVMBG VONA and Darwin VAAC advisory. The following day, brown emissions rose to a maximum of 1 km above the crater and were accompanied by a 600-m-high ash plume that drifted ENE at 1225. Ground observers on 15 August reported an eruption column that rose to 4.6 km altitude; PVMBG described brown ash emissions up to 800 m above the crater drifting NW at 0731 (figure 22). During 20-21 August pilots reported an ash plume rising 150-770 m above the crater drifting NE and SW, respectively.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Webcam image of an ash plume rising above Kerinci on 15 August 2020. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

Activity in September had decreased slightly compared to the previous month, characterized by only white-and-brown gas-and-steam emissions that rose 50-300 m above the crater; solely brown emissions were observed on 30 September and rose 50-100 m above the crater. This low level of activity persisted into October, with white gas-and-steam emissions to 50-200 m above the crater and brown emissions rising 50-300 m above the crater. On 16 October PVMBG released a VONA at 0340 that reported an ash plume rising 687 m above the crater and drifting NE. On 17 October white, brown, and black ash plumes that rose 100-800 m above the crater drifted NE according to both PVMBG and a Darwin VAAC advisory (figure 23). During 18-19 October white, brown, and black ash emissions rose up to 400 m above the crater and drifted NE and E.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Webcam image of a brown ash emission from Kerinci on 17 October 2020. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Suwanosejima (Japan) — January 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosion rate increases during July-December 2020, bomb ejected 1.3 km from crater on 28 December

Suwanosejima, an andesitic stratovolcano in Japan's northern Ryukyu Islands, was intermittently active for much of the 20th century, producing ash plumes, Strombolian explosions, and ashfall. Continuous activity since October 2004 has included intermittent explosions which generate ash plumes that rise hundreds of meters above the summit to altitudes between 1 and 3 km. Incandescence is often observed at night and ejecta periodically reaches over a kilometer from the summit. Ashfall is usually noted several times each month in the nearby community on the SW flank of the island. Ongoing activity for the second half of 2020, which includes significantly increased activity in December, is covered in this report with information provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and several sources of satellite data.

A steady increase in activity was reported during July-December 2020. The number of explosions recorded increased each month from only six during July to 460 during December. The energy of the explosions increased as well; ejecta was reported 600 m from the crater during August, but a large bomb reached 1.3 km from the crater at the end of December. After an increased period of explosions late in December, JMA raised the Alert Level from 2 to 3 on a 5-level scale. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity indicated intermittent anomalies from July through December 2020, with a pulse of activity in the second half of December (figure 48).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. MIROVA thermal activity for Suwanosejima for the period from 3 February through December 2020 shows pulses of activity in February and April, with intermittent anomalies until another period of frequent stronger activity in December. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Six explosions were recorded during July 2020, compared with only one during June. According to JMA, the tallest plume rose 2,000 m above the crater rim. Incandescent ejecta was occasionally observed at night. The Tokyo VAAC reported a number of ash plumes that rose to 1.2-2.7 km altitude and drifted NW and W during the second half of the month (figure 49). Activity increased during August 2020 when thirteen explosions were reported. The Tokyo VAAC reported a few ash plumes during 1-6 August that rose to 1.8-2.4 km altitude and drifted NW; a larger pulse of activity during 18-22 August produced plumes that rose to altitudes ranging from 1.8 to over 2.7 km. Ashfall was reported on 19 and 20 August in the village located 4 km SSW of the crater; incandescence was visible at the summit and ash plumes drifted SW in satellite imagery on 19 August (figure 50). A MODVOLC thermal alert was issued on 19 August. On 21 August a large bomb was ejected 600 m from the Otake crater in an explosion early in the day; later that afternoon, an ash plume rose to more than 2,000 m above the crater rim. During 19-22 August, SO2 emissions were recorded each day by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite (figure 51).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. An ash emission at Suwanosejima rose to 2.7 km altitude and drifted NW on 27 July 2020. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material on Suwanosejima, July 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Ash drifted SW from the summit crater of Suwanosejima on 19 August 2020 and a bright thermal anomaly was present at the summit. Residents of the village 4 km SW reported ashfall that day and the next. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. A period of increased activity at Suwanosejima during 19-22 August 2020 produced SO2 emissions that were measured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite. Nishinoshima, was also producing significant SO2 at the same time. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Thirteen explosions were recorded during September 2020, with the highest ash plumes reaching 2,000 m above the crater rim, and bombs falling 400 m from the crater. Ashfall was recorded on 20 September in the community located 4 km SSW. The Tokyo VAAC reported intermittent ash plumes during the month that rose to 1.2-2.1 km altitude and drifted in several directions. Incandescence was frequently observed at night (figure 52). Explosive activity increased during October with 22 explosions recorded. Ash plumes rose over 2,000 m above the crater rim, and bombs reached 700 m from the crater. Steam plumes rose 2,300 m above the crater rim. Ashfall and loud noises were confirmed several times between 2 and 14 October in the nearby village. A MODVOLC thermal alert was issued on 6 October. The Tokyo VAAC reported multiple ash plumes throughout the month; they usually rose to 1.5-2.1 km altitude and drifted in many directions. The plume on 28 October rose to over 2.7 km altitude and was stationary.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Incandescence at night and ash emissions were observed multiple times at Suwanosejima during September and October 2020 including on 21 and 26 September (top) and 29 October 2020. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material on Suwanosejima, September and October 2020).

Frequent explosions occurred during November 2020, with a sharp increase in the number of explosions to 105 events compared with October. Ash plumes rose to 1,800 m above the crater rim and bombs were ejected 700 m. Occasional ashfall and loud noises were reported from the nearby community throughout the month. Scientists measured no specific changes to the surface temperature around the volcano during an overflight early on 5 November compared with the previous year. At 0818 on 5 November a small ash explosion at the summit crater was photographed by the crew during an observation flight (figure 53). On 12 and 13 November, incandescent ejecta fell 600 m from the crater and ash emissions rose 1,500 m above the crater rim (figure 54).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. A minor explosion produced a small ash plume at Suwanosejima during an overflight by JMA on the morning of 5 November 2020. The thermal activity was concentrated at the base of the explosion (inset). Image taken from off the E coast. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material on Suwanosejima, November 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. On 12 and 13 November 2020 incandescent ejecta from Suwanosejima reached 600 m from the crater (top) and ash emissions rose 1,500 m above the crater rim (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material on Suwanosejima, November 2020).

During December 2020 there were 460 explosions reported, a significant increase from the previous months. Ash plumes reached 1,800 m above the summit. Three MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 25 December and two were issued the next day. The number of explosions increased substantially at the Otake crater between 21 and 29 December, and early on 28 December a large bomb was ejected to 1.3 km SE of the crater (figure 55). A second explosion a few hours later ejected another bomb 1.1 km SE. An overflight later that day confirmed the explosion, and ash emissions were still visible (figure 56), although cloudy weather prevented views of the crater. Ashfall was noted and loud sounds heard in the nearby village. A summary graph of observations throughout 2020 indicated that activity was high from January through May, quieter during June, and then increased again from July through the end of the year (figure 57).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Early on 28 December 2020 a large explosion at Suwanosejima sent a volcanic bomb 1.3 km SE from the summit (bright spot on left flank in large photo). Thermal imaging taken the same day showed the heat at the eruption site and multiple fragments of warm ejecta scattered around the crater area (inset). Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material on Suwanosejima, December 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Ash emissions were still visible midday on 28 December 2020 at Suwanosejima during a helicopter overflight by the 10th Regional Coast Guard. Image taken from the SW flank of the volcano. Two large explosions earlier in the day had sent ejecta more than a kilometer from the crater. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material on Suwanosejima, December 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Activity summary for Suwanosejima for January-December 2020 when 764 explosions were recorded. Black bars represent the height of steam, gas, or ash plumes in meters above the crater rim, gray volcano icons represent explosions, usually accompanied by an ash plume, red icons represent large explosions with ash plumes, orange diamonds indicate incandescence observed in webcams. Courtesy of JMA (Suwanosejima volcanic activity annual report, 2020).

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); 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); NASA 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/).


Karangetang (Indonesia) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Hot material on the NW flank in November 2020; intermittent crater thermal anomalies

Karangetang (also known as Api Siau) is located on the island of Siau in the Sitaro Regency, North Sulawesi, Indonesia and consists of two active summit craters: a N crater (Kawah Dua) and a S crater (Kawah Utama, also referred to as the “Main Crater”). More than 50 eruptions have been observed since 1675. The current eruption began in November 2018 and has recently been characterized by frequent incandescent block avalanches, thermal anomalies in the crater, and gas-and-steam plumes (BGVN 45:06). This report covers activity from June through November 2020, which includes dominantly crater anomalies, few ash plumes, and gas-and-steam emissions. Information primarily comes from the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM, or the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation), MAGMA Indonesia, and various satellite data.

Activity decreased significantly after mid-January 2020 and has been characterized by dominantly gas-and-steam emissions and occasional ash plumes, according to PVMBG. Daily gas-and-steam emissions were observed rising 25-600 m above the Main Crater (S crater) during the reporting period and intermittent emissions rising 25-300 m above Kawah Dua (N crater).

The only activity reported by PVMBG in June, August, and October was daily gas-and-steam emissions above the Main Crater and Kawah Dua (figure 47). MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows intermittent low-power thermal anomalies during June through late July, which includes a slight increase in power during late July (figure 48). During 14-15 July strong rumbling from Kawah Dua was accompanied by white-gray emissions that rose 150-200 m above the crater. Crater incandescence was observed up to 10 m above the crater. According to webcam imagery from MAGMA Indonesia, intermittent incandescence was observed at night from both craters through 25 July. In a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) issued on 5 September, PVMBG reported an ash plume that rose 800 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Webcam image of gas-and-steam plumes rising above the two summit craters at Karangetang on 16 June 2020. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Intermittent low-power thermal anomalies at Karangetang were reported during June through July 2020 with a slight increase in power in late July, according to the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power). No thermal activity was detected during August to late October; in mid-November a short episode of increased activity occurred. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Thermal activity increased briefly during mid-November when hot material was reported extending 500-1,000 m NW of the Main Crater, accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions rising 200 m above the crater. Corresponding detection of MODIS thermal anomalies was seen in MIROVA graphs (see figure 48), and the MODVOLC system showed alerts on 13 and 15 November. On 16 November blue emissions were observed above the Main Crater drifting W. Sentinel-2 thermal images showed elevated temperatures in both summit craters throughout the reporting period, accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions and movement of hot material on the NW flank on 19 November (figure 49). White gas-and-steam emissions rose to a maximum height of 300 m above Kawah Dua on 22 November and 600 m above the Main Crater on 28 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Persistent thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) at Karangetang were detected in both summit craters using Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery during June through November 2020. Gas-and-steam emissions were also occasionally detected in both craters as seen on 17 June (top left) and 20 September (bottom left) 2020. On 19 November (bottom right) the Main Crater (S) showed a hot thermal signature extending NW. Images using “Atmospheric penetration” rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); 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).


Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — January 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Nevado del Ruiz

Colombia

4.892°N, 75.324°W; summit elev. 5279 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Dome growth and ash emissions continue during July-December 2020

Colombia’s broad, glacier-capped Nevado del Ruiz has an eruption history documented back 8,600 years, including documented observations since 1570. Ruiz remained quiet for 20 years after the deadly September 1985-July 1991 eruption until a period of explosive activity from February 2012 into 2013. Renewed activity beginning in November 2014 included ash and gas-and-steam plumes, ashfall, and the appearance of a slowly growing lava dome inside the Arenas crater in August 2015. Additional information has caused a revision to earlier reporting that eruptive activity ended in May 2017 and began again that December (BGVN 44:12); activity appears to have continued throughout 2017 with intermittent ash emissions and thermal evidence of dome growth. Periods of increased thermal activity alternated with periods of increased explosive activity during 2018-2019 and into 2020; SO2 emissions persisted at significant levels. The lava dome has continued to grow through 2020. This report covers ongoing activity from July-December 2020 using information from reports by the Servicio Geologico Colombiano (SGC) and the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales, the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) notices, and various sources of satellite data.

Gas and ash emissions continued throughout July-December 2020; they generally rose to 5.8-6.1 km altitude with the highest reported plume at 6.7 km altitude on 7 December. SGC interpreted repeated episodes of “drumbeat seismicity” as an indication of continued dome growth throughout the period. Satellite thermal anomalies also suggested that dome growth continued. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity suggests that the dome was quiet in July and early August, but small pulses of thermal energy were recorded every few weeks for the remainder of 2020 (figure 115). Plots of the cumulative number and magnitude of seismic events at Nevado del Ruiz between January 2010 and November 2020 show a stable trend with periodic sharp increases in activity or magnitude throughout that time. SGC has adjusted the warning levels over time according to changes in the slope of the curves (figure 116).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 115. Thermal energy shown in the MIROVA graph of log radiative power at Nevado del Ruiz from 3 February 2020 through the end of the year indicates that higher levels of thermal energy lasted through April 2020; a quieter period from late May-early August was followed by low-level persistent anomalies through the end of the year. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 116. Changes in seismic frequency and energy at Nevado del Ruiz have been monitored by SGC for many years. Left: the cumulative number of daily VT, LP-VLP, TR, and HB seismic events, recorded between 1 January 2010 and 30 November 2020. The arrows highlight the days with the highest number of seismic events; the number and type of event is shown under the date. Right: The cumulative VT and HB seismic energy recorded between 1 January 2010 and 30 November 2020. The arrows highlight the days with the highest energy; the local magnitude of the event is shown below the date. SGC has adjusted the warning levels over time (bar across the bottom of each graph) according to changes in the slope of the curves. Courtesy of SGC (INFORME TÉCNICO – OPERATIVO DE LA ACTIVIDAD VOLCÁNICA, SEGMENTO VOLCÁNICO NORTE DE COLOMBIA – NOVIEMBRE DE 2020).

Activity during July-December 2020. Seismic energy increased during July compared to June 2020 with events localized around the Arenas crater. The depth of the seismicity varied from 0.3-7.8 km. Some of these signals were associated with small emissions of gas and ash, which were confirmed through webcams and by reports from officials of the Los Nevados National Natural Park (NNNP). The Washington VAAC reported a possible ash emission on 8 July that rose to 6.1 km altitude and drifted NW. On 21 July a webcam image showed an ash emission that rose to the same altitude and drifted W; it was seen in satellite imagery possibly extending 35 km from the summit but was difficult to confirm due to weather clouds. Short- to moderate-duration (less than 40 minutes) episodes of drumbeat seismicity were recorded on 5, 13, 17, and 21 July. SCG interprets this type of seismic activity as related to the growth of the Arenas crater lava dome. Primarily WNW drifting plumes of steam and SO2 were observed in the webcams daily. The gas was occasionally incandescent at night. The tallest plume of gas and ash reached 1,000 m above the crater rim on 30 July and was associated with a low-energy tremor pulse; it produced ashfall in parts of Manizales and nearby communities (figure 117).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 117. Images captured by a traditional camera (top) and a thermal camera (bottom) at Nevado del Ruiz showed a small ash emission in the early morning of 30 July 2020. Ashfall was reported in Manizales. The cameras are located 3.7 km W of the Arenas crater. Courtesy of SGC (Emisión de ceniza Volcan Nevado del Ruiz Julio 30 de 2020).

Seismicity increased in August 2020 with respect to July. Some of the LP and TR (tremor) seismicity was associated with small emissions of gas and ash, confirmed by web cameras, park personnel, and the Washington VAAC. The Washington VAAC received a report from the Bogota MWO of an ash emission on 1 August that rose to 6.1 km altitude and drifted NW; it was not visible in satellite imagery. Various episodes of short duration drumbeat seismicity were recorded during the month. The tallest steam and gas plume reached 1,800 m above the rim on 31 August. Despite the fact that in August the meteorological conditions made it difficult to monitor the surface activity of the volcano, three ash emissions were confirmed by SGC.

Seismicity decreased during September 2020 with respect to August. Some of the LP and TR (tremor) seismicity was associated with small emissions of gas and ash, confirmed by web cameras, park personnel and the Washington VAAC. The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission on 16 September that rose to 6.1 km altitude and drifted NW. A minor ash emission on 20 September drifted W from the summit at 5.8 km altitude. A possible emission on 23 September drifted NW at 6.1 km altitude for a brief period before dissipating. Two emissions were reported drifting WNW of the summit on 26 September at 5.8 and 5.5 km altitude. Continuous volcanic tremors were registered throughout September, with the higher energy activity during the second half of the month. One episode of drumbeat seismicity on 15 September lasted for 38 minutes and consisted of 25 very low energy earthquakes. Steam and gas plumes reached 1,800 m above the crater rim during 17-28 September (figure 118). Five emissions of ash were confirmed by the webcams and park officials during the month, in spite of difficult meteorological conditions; three of them occurred between 15 and 20 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 118. A dense plume of steam rose from Nevado del Ruiz in the morning of 17 September 2020. Courtesy of Gonzalo.

Seismicity increased during October with respect to September. A few of the LP and tremor seismic events were associated with small emissions of gas and ash, confirmed by web cameras, park personnel, and the Washington VAAC. The Washington VAAC issued advisories of possible ash emissions on 2, 6, 9, 11, 15, 17, 18, and 21 October. The plumes rose to 5.6-6.4 km altitude and drifted primarily W and NW. Steam plumes were visible most days of the month (figure 119). Only a few were visible in satellite data, but most were visible in the webcams. Several episodes of drumbeat seismicity were recorded on 13, 22-25, and 27 October, which were characterized by being of short duration and consisting of very low energy earthquakes. The tallest plume during the month rose about 2 km above the crater rim on 18 October. Ash emissions were recorded eight times during the month by SGC.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 119. A steam plume mixed with possible ash drifted SE from Nevado del Ruiz on 7 October 2020. Courtesy of vlucho666.

During November 2020, the number of seismic events decreased relative to October, but the amount of energy released increased. Some of the seismicity was associated with small emissions of gas and ash, confirmed by webcams around the volcano. The Washington VAAC reported ash emissions on 22 and 30 November; the 22 November event was faintly visible in satellite images and was also associated with an LP seismic event. They rose to 5.8-6.1 km altitude and drifted W. Various episodes of drumbeat seismicity registered during November were short- to moderate-duration, very low energy, and consisted of seismicity associated with rock fracturing (VT). Multiple steam plumes were visible from communities tens of kilometers away (figure 120).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 120. Multiple dense steam plumes were photographed from communities around Nevado del Ruiz during November 2020, including on 18 (top) and 20 (bottom) November. Top image courtesy of Jose Fdo Cuartas, bottom image courtesy of Efigas Oficial.

Seismic activity increased in December 2020 relative to November. It was characterized by continuous volcanic tremor, tremor pulses, long-period (LP) and very long-period (VLP) earthquakes. Some of these signals were associated with gas and ash emissions, one confirmed through the webcams. The Washington VAAC reported ash emissions on 5 and 7 December. The first rose to 5.8 km altitude and drifted NW. The second rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted W. A single discrete cloud was observed 35 km W of the summit; it dissipated within six hours. Drumbeat seismic activity increased as well in December; the episode on 3 December was the most significant. Steam and gas emissions continued throughout the month; a plume of gas and ash reached 1,700 m above the summit on 20 December, and drifted NW.

Sentinel-2 satellite data showed at least one thermal anomaly inside the Arenas crater each month during August-December 2020, corroborating the seismic evidence that the dome continued to grow throughout the period (figure 121). Sulfur dioxide emissions were persistent, with many days every month recording DU values greater than two with the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5-P satellite (figure 122).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 121. Thermal anomalies at Nevado del Ruiz were recorded at least once each month during August-December 2020 suggesting continued growth of the dome within the Arenas crater at the summit. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 122. Sulfur dioxide emissions were persistent at Nevado del Ruiz during August-December 2020, with many days every month recording DU values greater than two with the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5-P satellite. Ecuador’s Sangay had even larger SO2 emissions throughout the period. Dates are at the top of each image. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Additional reports of activity during 2017. Activity appears to have continued during June-December 2017. Ash emissions were reported by the Bogota Meteorological Weather Office (MWO) on 13 May, and by SGC on 28 May. During June, some of the recorded seismic events were associated with minor emissions of ash; these were confirmed by webcams and by field reports from both the staff of SGC and the Los Nevados National Natural Park (PNNN). Ash emissions were confirmed in webcams by park officials on 3, 16, and 17 June. Gas emissions from the Arenas crater during July 2017 averaged 426 m above the crater rim, generally lower than during June. The emissions were mostly steam with small amounts of SO2. Emissions were similar during August, with most steam and gas plumes drifting NW. No ash emissions were reported during July or August.

SGC reported steam and gas plumes during September that rose as high as 1,650 m above the crater rim and drifted NW. On 21 September the Washington VAAC received a report of an ash plume that rose to 6.4 km altitude and drifted NNW, although it was not visible in satellite imagery. Another ash emission rising to 6.7 km altitude was reported on 7 October; weather clouds prevented satellite observation. An episode of drumbeat seismicity was recorded on 9 October, the first since April 2017. While SGC did not explicitly mention ash emissions during October, several of the webcam images included in their report show plumes described as containing ash and gas (figure 123).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 123. Plumes of steam, gas, and ash rose from Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz most days during October 2017. Photographs were captured by the webcams installed in the Azufrado Canyon and Cerro Gualí areas. Courtesy of SGC (INFORME DE ACTIVIDAD VOLCANICA SEGMENTO NORTE DE COLOMBIA, OCTUBRE DE 2017).

The Washington VAAC received a report from the Bogota MWO of an ash emission that rose to 6.1 km altitude and drifted NE on 8 November 2017. A faint plume was visible in satellite imagery extending 15 km NE from the summit. SGC reported that plumes rose as high as 2,150 m above the rim of Arenas crater during November. The plumes were mostly steam, with minor amounts of SO2. A diffuse plume of ash was photographed in a webcam on 24 November. SGC did not report any ash emissions during December 2017, but the Washington VAAC reported “a thin veil of volcanic ash and gases” visible in satellite imagery and webcams on 18 December that dissipated within a few hours. In addition to the multiple reports of ash emissions between May and December 2017, Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery recorded at least one image each month during June-December showing a thermal anomaly at the summit consistent with the slowly growing dome first reported in August 2015 (figure 124).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 124. Thermal anomalies from the growing dome inside Arenas crater at the summit of Nevado del Ruiz appeared at least once each month from June-December 2017. A strong anomaly was slightly obscured by clouds on 3 June (top left). On 2 August, a steam plume obscured most of the crater, but a small thermal anomaly is visible in its SE quadrant (top right). Strong anomalies on 30 November and 20 December (bottom) have a ring-like form suggestive of a growing dome. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Nevado del Ruiz is a broad, glacier-covered volcano in central Colombia that covers more than 200 km2. Three major edifices, composed of andesitic and dacitic lavas and andesitic pyroclastics, have been constructed since the beginning of the Pleistocene. The modern cone consists of a broad cluster of lava domes built within the caldera of an older edifice. The 1-km-wide, 240-m-deep Arenas crater occupies the summit. The prominent La Olleta pyroclastic cone located on the SW flank may also have been active in historical time. Steep headwalls of massive landslides cut the flanks. Melting of its summit icecap during historical eruptions, which date back to the 16th century, has resulted in devastating lahars, including one in 1985 that was South America's deadliest eruption.

Information Contacts: MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Gonzalo (URL: https://twitter.com/chaloc22/status/1306581929651843076); Jose Fdo Cuartas (URL: https://twitter.com/JoseFCuartas/status/1329212975434096640); Vlucho666 (URL: https://twitter.com/vlucho666/status/1313791959954268161); Efigas Oficial (URL: https://twitter.com/efigas_oficial/status/1329780287920873472).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 24, Number 02 (February 1999)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Ambrym (Vanuatu)

Benbow lava lake disappears in avalanche

Bezymianny (Russia)

Explosions on 25 February send gas-and-ash plume 5 km above the summit

Colima (Mexico)

Details of the 10 February explosion and fires lit by volcanic bombs

Etna (Italy)

Extensive lava flows discharging from a 4 February fissure on the SE flank

Galeras (Colombia)

Low seismicity; fumarole and tilt measurements

Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador)

Moderate seismicity and phreatic eruptions during January-February

Ibu (Indonesia)

Eruptions that began on 18 December 1998 continued in January 1999

Izalco (El Salvador)

Strong fumarolic activity around the summit crater

Krakatau (Indonesia)

Sporadic ash eruptions in February and March 1999

Lengai, Ol Doinyo (Tanzania)

Lava flows spilling over the crater rim in November 1998

Lopevi (Vanuatu)

Strombolian explosions beginning November 1998

Pacaya (Guatemala)

Explosive activity resumes; summary of activity 1987-98

Sheveluch (Russia)

Low-level seismicity and fumarolic plumes

Shishaldin (United States)

Steam plumes and thermal activity seen at summit

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Ash venting and numerous pyroclastic flows in December 1998 and January 1999

Tolbachik (Russia)

Gas-and-steam explosion; minor seismicity

Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand)

Minor ash-and-steam emissions continue



Ambrym (Vanuatu) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambrym

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Benbow lava lake disappears in avalanche

Ambrym Island was investigated by John Seach and Perry Judd during a climb into the caldera 1-8 January 1999. A lava lake in Benbow cone was present during 1-3 January but was covered by deposits from an avalanche that occurred overnight 4-5 January. Fumarolic and Strombolian activity was observed at other craters.

Activity at Benbow. Benbow crater was climbed from the S, after which observers lowered themselves using ropes 200 m down from the crater rim to a point where they could observe the crater interior. In the center of the crater, an active lava lake was seen 220 m below the observation point. The lava lake was ~40 m in diameter and constantly in motion. Large explosions caused lava fountains that reached 100 m high. Bombs glowed for up to one minute in daylight and radiated great heat. Bombs could be heard landing on the side of the pit where they caused glowing avalanches. At night a strong glow from the lava lake was visible in the sky over Benbow.

Elsewhere inside Benbow crater, Pele's hair covered the ground and fumaroles were active on the NE crater wall. Acid rain burned eyes and skin. Heavy rainfall caused many waterfalls to form inside the crater rim and a shallow brown pond formed on the floor of the first level.

During 4-5 January violent Strombolian explosions could be heard almost hourly. Each series of explosions lasted 5-10 minutes and produced dark ash columns above the crater. At some time during these explosions an avalanche on the W side of the lava lake crater completely covered the lava lake. No night glow was visible above the crater after the night of 5 January.

On 6 January Benbow crater was entered again. The wall collapse that covered the lava lake was confirmed visually. In the location of the former lava lake was a depression of rubble with two small, glowing vents nearby. The entire crater was clear of magmatic gases. Three violent Strombolian eruptions were viewed from the crater rim in the afternoon. Bombs were thrown 300 m into the air and dark ash clouds were emitted.

Activity at Niri Mbwelesu Taten. This small collapse pit continuously emitted white, brown, and blue vapors. Red deposits covered the crater walls. A small amount of yellow deposits covered the S wall. Fumarole temperatures were 66 to 69°C at a point 40 m SE of the pit. On 6-7 January numerous deep, loud degassings were heard from a distance of 4 km.

Activity at Niri Mbwelesu. Pungent, sulfurous-smelling white vapor was emitted from this crater. Periods of good visibility enabled views 200 m down from the crater rim, but the bottom could not be seen. Rockfalls were heard inside the crater.

Activity at Mbwelesu. Excellent visibility to the bottom of this crater enabled detailed observations of the lava lake. Night observations were also obtained. The lava lake was in constant motion and splashing lava out over the sides of the pit. The lake was at a lower level than during observations made three months earlier (BGVN 23:09). Large explosions sent lava fountains up to 100 m in height and threw lava onto the sides of the pit causing glowing avalanches. During one night observation a 20 x 5 m section of the crater wall broke off and fell into the lava lake. The 60-m-wide lake radiated heat that could be felt from the viewing area 380 m away. North of the lava lake was a circular vent 20 m in diameter that glowed brilliantly from magma inside and huffed out burning gasses every 20 seconds. Foul gas, smelling of rotten fish, was emitted from the crater. South of the lava lake was an elongated vent (40 x 10 m) that spattered lava every 5-10 seconds and sent showers of glowing orange lava spray 150 m high.

On the S side of Mbwelesu, fumarole temperatures averaged 43°C at 10 m from the crater edge. On the SE side, 40 m from the crater edge, fumaroles measured 57°C. On 4 January ashfall occurred on the S side of the caldera.

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 1,900 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 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, NSW, 2469, Australia.


Bezymianny (Russia) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Bezymianny

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions on 25 February send gas-and-ash plume 5 km above the summit

During February, seismic and volcanic activity at Bezymianny increased in intensity, causing the hazard status to be raised from Green to Yellow on 16 February and then to Orange on 25 February. The activity decreased on the 26th and the "Level of Concern Color Code" was reduced to Yellow. In the first two weeks of the month, numerous weak earthquakes were registered under the volcano, and fumarolic plumes rising up to a few hundred meters above the summit occurred frequently.

Starting on 15 February and continuing the following week, seismicity rose above background levels and 20-40 shallow earthquakes were registered every day. The hazard status was raised to Yellow. Fumarolic plumes continued to rise to a few hundred meters above the summit, and could be seen when not obscured by clouds. Satellite images during the week indicated a persistent thermal anomaly possibly caused by rock avalanches from the summit dome.

The hazard status was raised to Orange on 25 February after volcanic tremor began under the volcano and continued for ~6 hours. Two large explosions during that period each lasted several minutes and a gas-and-ash plume rose 5 km above the summit. Satellite images that morning showed an ash-rich plume heading SE. Over the next few days, using satellite imagery, the ash cloud was tracked for 1,500 km to the SE, but by early on the 27th the cloud had dissipated. Activity declined after the 25th and the hazard status was reduced to Yellow.

On 27-28 February the seismicity was above background levels. Low-level spasmodic tremor continued to be recorded. On the morning of 28 February a steam-and-gas plume rose 300 m. The volcano was obscured by clouds after 28 February.

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

Information Contacts: Olga Chubarova, 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.


Colima (Mexico) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Colima

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Details of the 10 February explosion and fires lit by volcanic bombs

The unusually large 10 February explosion was followed by collateral reports by (a) F. Núñez-Cornú, G. Réyes-Davila, and C. Suárez-Plascenia and (b) John B. Murray. In addition, this summary of the interval 26 February to 16 March benefitted from press releases from the Colima Volcano Observatory. These three sources are discussed in separate sections below.

Geophysical signature of the 10 February explosion. F. Núñez-Cornú, G. Réyes-Davila, and C. Suárez-Plascencia provided the following report.

"On 10 February at 0145 an explosive event occurred at Colima's summit dome; this generated a shock wave that broke windows and opened gates in the small town of Juan Barragan, 8.75 km SE of the summit. The sonic wave was also heard in the towns of Tonila, Quesería, San Marcos, Atenquique, El Fresnito, Ejido de Atenquique, and up to 28 km NE of the volcano at Ciudad Guzman.

"This was the biggest explosion reported for the volcano in the last 80 years; the resulting exhalation emitted both ash and lava blocks (bombs made up of both fresh and altered components). A substantial amount of incandescent tephra fell and started fires on both the volcano's upper slopes and on Nevado de Colima's S slopes; most of the fires were extinguished by snow and rain storms during the subsequent 48 hours.

"As summarized in table 8, a seismic event took place hours before the explosion, at 2231 of 9 February; it was followed by other volcanic and tremor signals at about 0100; some of these precursory events saturated the amplitude response of analog instruments at stations EZV4 (Somma) and EZV7 (Volcancito). Four additional large, post-eruptive seismic events also occurred. These strong events were observed clearly at farther stations EZV3 (Nevado, 5.8 km from the summit), and EZV2 (Cerro Grande, 25 km from the summit)."

Table 8. Noteworthy seismic events around the time of the 10 February 1999 explosion at two Colima seismic stations (EZV3 and EZV2); the earliest reading (on the top line) took place the night before the explosion. See text for station locations. Courtesy of F. Nunez-Cornu, G. Reyes-Davila, and C. Suarez-Plascencia.

Date Time EZV3 coda (sec) EZV3 amp max (mm) EZV2 coda (sec) EZV2 amp max (mm)
10 Feb 1999 2231 175 saturated 120 8
10 Feb 1999 0157 -- saturated 300 saturated
10 Feb 1999 0359 160 16 65 3
10 Feb 1999 0552 110 saturated 25 2
10 Feb 1999 0730 140 30 70 3
10 Feb 1999 1318 140 34 75 3

"Currently the Jalisco civil defense operates an observational base called Nevado located 900 m NW from the summit of Nevado de Colima.

"Since the end of November 1998, three seismic instruments (MarsLite with LE3d (1 Hz) sensors) were deployed to complement the RESCO network at the volcano. To improve spatial resolution the authors moved one of these instruments to El Playon on 11 February. On the way to El Playon we observed fires on the southern slopes of Nevado out to a maximum distance of 4.5 km from the volcano's summit.

"On the road at a spot 2.9 km NE of the summit and at 3,120 m elevation we found several impact craters. The first one contained an andesite block with dimensions of 0.37 x 0.44 x 0.43 m. Several small impacts occurred nearby. We found another impact pit near the road, 100 m away from the first site but at similar distance and direction from the summit. This pit measured 1.94 x 0.70 m on the surface and had a depth of 0.60 m. It contained a partially buried andesite block (identified as R3) that measured 0.60 x 0.41 x 0.70 m. The block's temperature was 40°C. The pit sat in a spot surrounded by 10- to 15-m-tall trees; their lack of visible damage suggested a near vertical angle of impact, which we estimated as 80-85°.

"At 70 m away from block R3 we found a volcanic bomb that struck the middle of the road. The bomb consisted of hydrothermally altered volcanic breccia (identified as R4, figure 34), which had shattered on the road over an area 1.73 x 1.64 m; the bomb failed to excavate a crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Impact crater R4, created by Colima's 10 February 1999 explosion. Courtesy of F. Nunez-Cornu, G. Reyes-Davila, and C. Suarez-Plascencia.

"In traveling across El Playon we observed dozens of impacts, but elected to stay the minimum time possible in order to reduce exposure to hazards. Most of the bombs seen and sampled consisted of either andesite resembling the new dome or hydrothermally altered andesite, perhaps from the 1987 crater wall. When visiting the same area on 26 February, we found the small and medium impact craters difficult to identify; most of the impacts below trees were covered by newly fallen leaves."

Leveling survey and field examination of the 10 February bombs. On 28 February, John B. Murray, assisted by members of the Colima fire department (Mitchell Ventura, Filiberto de la Mora, and Juan Carlos Martinez) measured two branches of a N-flank leveling traverse last surveyed in January 1997. The first branch, which was 740 m long, left the Playon vehicle track and followed the path up Volcancito passing through stations Porte de Colima (1.3 km from the volcano's summit) and Albergue (1.9 km from the summit). The movement measured since 1997 showed subsidence at stations nearest the volcano totaling 13 mm for the entire section. This was nearly double the subsidence measured during 1995-97, an interval without any lava emission. There was also 13 mm of subsidence seen during 1990-92, an interval which included lava emission (in 1991).

The second branch of the leveling traverse began at Albergue station and ended at Voltaire station, a spot 2.3 km from the summit. Compared to 1997, the Albergue station had subsided just over 8 mm relative to the Voltaire station. Little significant change occurred here during 1995-97 (1 mm rise) and 1990-92 (0.4 mm rise). During a 15-year interval (1982-97) these two stations subsided a total of only 6 mm, and thus looks like a small though significant change in movement. Most of the change (5.6 mm) was measured between two stations 160 m apart at a distance of 2 km from the summit. The possibility of a small error cannot be ruled out, although the movement does follow the same sense throughout this section of the leveling traverse.

The total subsidence between the farthest (2.3 km) and the nearest (1.3 km) station to the summit was 22 mm. This is rather larger than during the 1991 crisis, when the subsidence between the same two stations was 13 mm. Viewing this movement as deflation of a magma chamber (Murray, 1993), this may simply be a reflection of the rather larger output of the volcano in 1998-99 compared to 1991. However, equally tenable is the hypothesis that the movement is due to volcano spreading, or even to Colima's slow slipping down the southern flanks of the larger Nevado volcano, on whose southern slopes Colima is situated. Increases in the rate of subsidence were also observed following the Mexican earthquake of 1985, as well as during the 1991 crisis described above. Although the subsidence during 1997-99 is greater than previously measured, there is nothing in the measurements to suggest that the volcano is building up to a bigger eruption, or to distinguish between the Mogi deflation or downslope slipping models.

The distribution of volcanic bombs from the 10 February explosion was noted at sites along the leveling traverse. Table 9 lists the estimated average distance between impact craters at the various sites where measurements were made. Murray and co-worker identified fragments that varied in size between 10 and 70 cm in diameter, there being no noticeable trend in size between bombs found in the region 1.3 to 2.8 km from the summit. The largest bomb crater found had taken away one third of the road on the north edge of the 1869 lava flow near station Hector, a spot 2.1 km from the summit. This crater was at least 2 m in diameter. However, the numbers of impacts per unit area decreased as distance from the volcano increased.

There is also some evidence of directed blast in table 9, there being distinctly higher concentrations of bombs NNE of the volcano (station Esteban) than at similar distances NE (station C15). Bombs appeared to be of two distinct types: 1) solid, dark, fresh-looking andesitic rocks with high density and no sign of vesiculation, and 2) crumbly, light-colored, altered, vesicular, pumice-like ejecta with low density (guessed at around 1,000 kg/m3) There did not appear to be any predominance of one type or the other with distance from the volcano.

Table 9. Average spacing of N-flank bomb strikes that were found after Colima's 10 February 1999 explosion. Courtesy of John B. Murray.

Site Distance from summit Distance between impacts
Volcancito foot 1.4 km 3 m
Playon (Campsite) 1.7 km 5 m
Playon (Esteban station) 2.0 km 45 m
1869 flow edge (Fire Station) 2.1 km 20 m
Caldera Wall (C15 station) 2.1 km 45 m

A bomb found near the campsite, 1.75 km from the summit, left evidence of its trajectory as it had smashed a 10 cm branch of a tree just before landing. The bomb itself was of solid andesite, and had fractured into several pieces on landing, but it appeared to have had an original diameter of about 40 cm. It had made an impact crater ~1 m in diameter and 50 cm deep. Using the level as a horizontal marker, three measurements of the angle between the broken branch and the crater bottom gave 44 ± 3° from the horizontal.

Six fire sites were inspected and described; usually these were associated with a bomb, but not always. At first, these fire sites went unnoticed because they chiefly consumed low-growing vegetation, and in no case was a completely burned tree to be found. The view towards the volcano from the Playon was unaffected, as green bushes and trees were seen as usual.

For example, at fire site 3, located 2 km NNE of the summit (N side of road, just past bend near station Esteban) we found an isolated pumice bomb 20 cm across, but without burnt vegetation in contact. However, the bomb ignited grass clumps 2 and 3.5 m away; none of the grass between the bomb and the clumps had been affected.

Most fire sites were close to bombs, usually burning on the side away from the volcano. However, most were not in direct contact with the bomb in question, but centered around dry vegetation, particularly tall grass clumps, succulents, small bushes, and (occasionally) trees. The grass and succulents were not dead, but had fresh green shoots sprouting from the top. Presumably because of the high water content, only the dry, dead leaves at the base of the succulents were burned, but there were large areas where succulents were affected in this way, the adjacent vegetation being quite unaffected. There was often no obvious associated bomb in the vicinity. Similarly with grass clumps, there would be gaps of 2 or 3 m between burned clumps, from which the fire had apparently spread radially for a short distance before going out, with no sign of burning of the dry, low grass cover in between. However, not all bombs in the same area had the same effect. In some cases, the only sign of burning was directly beneath the bomb itself, where the grass was singed black but still fairly intact. Yet in places nearby, the landscape had clearly been very slowly burned over an extensive area 10 to 30 m wide, and in one case discussed below, it was still burning.

Murray goes on to comment: "The odd characteristics of these fire sites suggests the possibility of an abnormal ignition mechanism. It seems that ignition depended in many cases not on the proximity to the source of heat (bombs) but rather on the characteristics of the ignited vegetation. It was as if in certain (sometimes quite extensive) areas those low-growing plants below a certain water content, or containing appropriate oils would ignite, and the rest would not. This implies a very high air temperature close to the ground over areas in some cases tens of meters across. The most obvious source of these high temperatures would seem to be hot gas, usually emanating from bombs but not always so. Where associated with bombs, the isolated fire sites would always be on the side facing away from the summit. In other words, there is evidence that extensive degassing took place from bombs upon impact; and that there might also have been some local associated ground-hugging nuees of a weak and intermittent type."

Explosion on 28 February 1999. Murray also noted that "At 1715 on 28 February, while examining the distant bombs and impact craters 2.8 km NE of the summit on the forest road outside the caldera, we heard a distant, faint rushing sound coming from the summit, resembling a large rockfall or an aircraft. On looking up, a large whitish-grey convective cloud, like a cumulus cloud, could be seen rising from the summit and blowing in our direction. It had clearly started some time previously and was already stretching some distance towards us. A heavy rain of ash began nine minutes later, at 1724, ceasing at ~1731. The ashfall, which was sampled, sounded like large raindrops hitting the leaves in the nearby forest but on spreading out a sheet of paper on the ground, only sand-sized ash particles could be seen accumulating on it. At the end of the shower, there was one particle every centimeter approximately, the largest particle being ~ 2 mm across, and the smallest just under 0.5 mm. From the sound of the particles falling in the trees round about, it sounded as if much larger particles were involved in the shower, but none of these fell on the spread-out paper."

Official press releases. A 26 February update by the Colima Volcano Observatory stated that chemical analysis of Colima's water and ash had indicated insignificant risk to human health. At this time the established security limit was set at 10-10.5 km from the summit. Evacuated settlements included Yerbabuena, Causenta, Atenguillo, El Fresnal, La Cofradía, Juan Barragán, El Agostadero, Los Machos, El Alpizahue, El Saucillo, and El Borbollón. The local populations were advised to avoid a long list of drainages, as well as to hand-carry important documents, and to advise authorities of those requiring help in order to secure transport in case of more extensive evacuations. Meanwhile, during the previous 24 hours the monitored parameters indicated relative quiet, suggesting possible voluntary return to evacuated areas at noon on 2 March if these conditions persisted. The 5 March update noted degassing events during the previous 24 hours, the majority of these around 1400 on 5 March. The 16 March update mentioned the recent occurrence of both degassing and minor ash emissions.

Reference. Murray, J.B., 1993, Ground deformation at Colima Volcano, Mexico, 1982 to 1991: Geofisica Internacional, v. 32, no. 4, p. 659-669.

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 high point of the complex) on the north and the historically active Volcán de Colima at the south. A group of late-Pleistocene cinder cones is located on the floor of the Colima graben west and east of the 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, producing thick debris-avalanche deposits on three sides of the complex. Frequent historical eruptions date back to the 16th century. Occasional major explosive eruptions have destroyed the summit (most recently in 1913) and left a deep, steep-sided crater that was slowly refilled and then overtopped by lava dome growth.

Information Contacts: F. Nunez-Cornu1,4, G. Reyes-Davila2, and C. Suarez-Plascencia3,4; 1) Laboratoria Sismologia, University of Guadelajara, Guadelajara, Mexico; 2) RESCO, University of Colima, Colima, Mexico; 3) Department of Geology, University of Guadelajara, Guadelajara, Mexico; 4) U. Est. Proteccion Civil Jalisco; Colima Volcano Observatory, Universidad de Colima, Av. Gonzalo de Sandoval 444, Colima, Colima 28045, Mexico (URL: https://portal.ucol.mx/cueiv/); J.B. Murray, Department of Earth Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, England.


Etna (Italy) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3320 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Extensive lava flows discharging from a 4 February fissure on the SE flank

The following report summarizes activity observed at Etna from January through February 1999. Bocca Nuova exhibited minor explosive activity through early February, but Northeast Crater and Voragine were quiet. Southeast Crater had seven distinct eruptive episodes between 5 January and 4 February; the latest was accompanied by the opening of a new eruptive fissure at its southeastern base. The information for this report was compiled by Boris Behncke at the Istituto di Geologia e Geofisica, University of Catania (IGGUC), and posted on his internet web site. The compilation was based on personal summit visits, observations from Catania, and other sources cited in the text.

Activity at Southeast Crater (SEC) until 23 January. After one week of relative quiet, the sixteenth eruptive episode of SEC since 15 September occurred shortly before noon on 5 January; this was preceded by weak Strombolian activity that started around midnight. The paroxysmal phase was characterized by vigorous fountaining, and lava flowed towards the northeast while tephra was driven southwest by the strong wind. Loud detonations were audible in towns on the flanks of Etna.

Episode 17, during the night of 9-10 January, was preceded by mild Strombolian activity; the paroxysmal phase occurred shortly after midnight. Lava presumably flowed NE again and tephra fell NE; Fiumefreddo, ~8 km SW of Taormina, received a light showering of ash. Loud detonations during the final phase were audible over a wide area, and clear weather conditions permitted many in the Catania area to watch the spectacular display.

After the shortest repose interval observed since early in the current eruptive sequence in September, episode 18 took place on the morning of 13 January, between about 0630 and 0930. Visibiliby was hampered by clouds, but loud detonations were audible in a wide area around the volcano. Ash fell as far as Giarre, ~15 km E.

The next eruptive episode occurred on 18 January, shortly after 0800, and lasted ~ 45 minutes. Minor Strombolian and effusive activity had occurred earlier during the night. As in preceding episodes, the culminating phase was characterized by initial strong lava fountaining which gradually became more ash-rich, generating a dense eruption column. Due to calm conditions, the column rose several kilometers above the summit (3 km as estimated from Catania) and attained a spectacular mushroom shape visible in the morning sky from all around the volcano. At the SEC cone itself, the heavy fallout and rapid accumulation of pyroclastics led to frequent avalanches, especially on the steep eastern side. After 0830, dull explosion sounds were audible to as far as Catania, accompanying the rhythmic uprush of dark ash. The activity declined rapidly at 0845, but ash emissions became again more forceful after 0900 and continued sporadically for several hours, accompanied by sliding of hot pyroclastics from the steep E side of the cone. No information was available about lava flows although it is likely that they occurred, possibly on the NE side of SEC.

SEC erupted again after only two days and four hours of inactivity, shortly after noon on 20 January. Increased gas emission began at ~ 1215, and by 1240 a lava fountain appeared at the vent of the SE Crater cone. This fountain rapidly rose to a height of several hundred meters, and the column which rose above it became more and more ash-rich. Less than 15 minutes after the onset of the eruption there occurred the first slides of hot pyroclastics from the upper part of the cone, and five minutes later the whole cone and part of Etna's main summit cone were veiled by a black curtain of falling bombs and scoriae. By 1300, the vertical eruption column had risen several kilometers above Etna's summit. Ten minutes later the activity began to decline rapidly, and by 1315 the eruptive episode was essentially over, with only a few ash puffs being emitted during the following 30 minutes.

During a summit visit by Boris Behncke and Giovanni Sturiale (IGGUC) on 21 January, the crater was completely quiet, and only a few weak fumaroles played on the SW and E crater rims. The cone at SEC had grown higher than 3,250 m, about as high as the rim of the former Central Crater (filled by lavas and pyroclastics in the 1950's and 60's). While its flanks were steep and regular on most sides, obliterating any trace of the pre-1998 crater rim, a deep V-shaped notch was present in the northern crater rim through which lava had spilled onto the cone's flanks during recent eruptive episodes. These lavas had formed a fan-shaped lava field on the northeastern base of the cone, extending to the rim of Valle del Bove.

Behncke and Sturiale also investigated the pyroclastic deposits of the recent eruptive episodes which extended in relatively narrow fans from SEC in various directions. During the 18 and 20 January epidsodes, most fallout had occurred in a radius of <1 km from the cone, mainly on the SE side of the former Central Crater where 0.5-1 m of pyroclastics had accumulated since late 1998. Meter-sized bombs had fallen up to 500 m from SEC, creating spectacular impact craters. Among the most peculiar features of the recent eruptive products was a small lahar on the southwestern side of SEC which extended ~300 m from the base of its cone; this was probably produced during the 5 January episode. Records of lahars are relatively rare in the recent history of Etna, the most notable occurring in 1755.

On the morning of 23 January, SEC was the site of yet another eruptive episode that began at about 0630 and probably lasted less than one hour. Due to the absence of wind, an eruption column rose several kilometers above the summit then drifted slowly SE. In Catania, the ashfall was not dense, but people in the streets felt particles entering in the eyes; these particles were less than 1 mm in diameter and left a thin, discontinuous film on the ground. More serious effects were caused by the fallout in the upper southern parts of the mountain where skiing was rendered impossible by scoria on the snow. The repose period between this and the previous eruptive episode was two days and 18 hours.

There appears to have been no significant seismic or eruptive activity between 23 January and 4 February; the few clear views during that period revealed no morphological changes.

The January eruptive episodes continued to build the SEC cone, which has changed beyond recognition from its mid-1998 appearance. The large crater formed in 1990 at the summit of the SEC cone was completely filled, and a new, tall summit grew over it, burying any trace of the 1990 crater and much of the lava flows erupted from mid-1997 to late July 1998. After the 23 January episode the cone's new summit was at ~ 3,270 m elevation, almost 90 m higher than the highest point of the 1990 crater rim in 1997.

New eruptive fissure opens on 4 February. A new eruptive episode from SEC began at 1600, producing a spectacular eruption column visible from Catania and all around the mountain. Like previous episodes, this event was characterized by vigorous fire-fountaining, tephra emission, and lava, and was preceded by a gradual increase in gas emissions and then mild Strombolian activity. The activity began to culminate at around 1600 when a tall fountain jetted from the summit crater of the cone, and lava spilled through the breach in the N crater rim.

Sometime around 1630, the SE side of the cone fractured, and a new vent opened about halfway down the cone's flank, producing a tall lava fountain 250-350 m high and feeding a dense, ash-laden eruption column. An eruption column rose ~ 2-3 km above the summit before being driven SE, dropping fine ash on the flanks. Lava soon began to flow SE from this vent (figure 75). At about 1640, a row of incandescent spots appeared below the newly formed vent, indicating that a fissure had begun to propagate downslope from the base of the SEC cone. Vigorous lava fountaining and tephra emission from the new vent on the SE flank of SEC diminished rapidly shortly after 1700, but activity continued at the smaller vents on the fissure below that vent, at ~ 2,950 m elevation, and lava advanced rapidly towards the rim of Valle del Bove. At nightfall, both this lava flow and the lava erupted at the beginning of the episode onto the northern side of SEC were brightly incandescent and well visible from towns on the eastern side of the volcano, causing rumors of the opening of fractures on both sides of the cone. However, the northern flow soon stagnated and cooled, and no further lava emission occurred on that side for the remainder of February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Sketch map showing Etna's summit craters SEC, Voragine (V), and Bocca Nuova (BN). The approximate extent of lava flows emitted during the 4 February eruption are in medium gray and those following the 4 February eruption are in black. Flows erupted from 1971 to 1993 are shown in light gray. Courtesy of Boris Behncke.

On 5 February, lava had begun to spill into Valle del Bove, forming a cascade on its steep western wall. The flow advanced very slowly, and had not yet reached the valley floor (at ~2,000 m elevation) on the next day when the new eruptive fissure was visited by Behncke and Giuseppe Scarpinati (L'Association Volcanologique Européenne, LAVE). Mild explosive activity was building several hornitos in the upper part of the ~100-m-long, SE-trending fissure at the base of the SEC cone while lava was issuing from numerous vents along the whole length of the fissure, feeding several channellized flows and some minor a`a flows. The effusion rate was estimated at 5 m3/s or more, significantly higher than during previous mainly effusive eruptions near Etna's summit craters (mainly at NE Crater in the 1970's) and similar to the effusion rates of some of Etna's flank eruptions. Pahoehoe lava was abundant around the effusive vents. The cone of SEC was found to be fractured from its summit down to its base, but only the main 4 February vent appeared to have produced significant eruptive activity while only minor spatter and scoriae were found in the part of the fracture between that vent and the still-active fissure.

On 15 February, Behncke and Scarpinati again visited the eruptive fissure and observed its activity for about 4 hours. By that day the lava spilling into the Valle del Bove had reached ~ 2,000 m elevation. There was no sign that the activity was diminishing, and the effusion rate remained perhaps as high as 5 m3/s.

Lava continued to issue from a number of effusive vents on the active fissure, forming at least two main rivers and several smaller and short-lived flows. In the course of a few hours Behncke and Scarpinati saw some of the lesser flows cease and others reactivate, forming blocky a`a while the more vigorous and long-lived flows moved in well-defined channels and showed no significant flux variations. Numerous short lava tubes, well-developed flow channels, and secondary vents had formed. Most effusive activity occurred ~50-100 m downslope from the upper end of the fissure, but several vents were also higher upslope. In the uppermost part of the fissure, numerous hornitos had formed, most of them concentrated in three clusters, and this area had countless incandescent vents producing high-pressure gas emission accompanied by a persistent hissing noise. The largest hornitos formed thin, vertical spires up to 3 m high while others were small humps a few tens of centimeters high. There was little explosive activity; only one vent in the uppermost hornito cluster rarely ejected incandescent pyroclastics.

Similar activity continued through the end of February. Lava flowed into the Valle del Bove, forming numerous lobes that moved on top or adjacent to earlier flows, and the farthest flow fronts did not extend much beyond 2,000 m elevation, remaining above the Monti Centenari, a cluster of cones formed during the 1852-53 eruption on the floor of Valle del Bove. The flow field gradually widened to ~500 m on the rim, and flows were issuing from numerous ephemeral vents on the W slope of the Valle.

Activity at Bocca Nuova (BN), Voragine, and Northeast Crater (NEC). Little significant activity occurred at these craters during January-February 1999 except for a brief resurgence of activity at BN during the week preceding the 4 February SEC events. During the 21 January visit by Behncke and Sturiale, spattering and Strombolian activity occurred deep within the large crater in the southeastern part of BN, accompanied by dense gas emission.

The cone in the northwestern part of BN produced violent noisy explosions every few minutes which ejected fountains of bombs high above the crater rim; ejecta frequently fell outside the crater, mostly to the W but in a few cases also SW and S. Between the explosions, deep-seated minor activity occurred within the 50-80-m-wide crater of the cone. No effusive activity had taken place in BN since it was invaded by lava from Voragine on 22 July 1998.

Bright crater glow was visible above BN in the first nights of February, the first time in about five months. This glow persisted during the night of 3-4 February but was much weaker on the evening of 4 February, indicating a drop of the magma level, probably related to the opening of the eruptive fissure on the SE base of SEC earlier that day. During the following week, only infrequent weak glows were visible above BN and then vanished altogether.

Very little activity except profuse steaming was observed within the Voragine during the 21 January visit by Behncke and Sturiale, who were able to descend into this crater and arrived at the "diaframma," the septum that separates the Voragine from Bocca Nuova. The floor of the crater was very flat in its eastern part, while a cluster of four craters with low cones occupied its central-western portion. The central crater, ~50 m wide and 30 m deep, was completely quiet; on its W side a much shallower, ~20-m-wide crater contained a 2-m-wide degassing hole with overhanging walls on whose floor numerous incandescent spots could be seen. A small crater with a diameter of less than 20 m, and ~ 10 m deep, lay on the SE side of the central crater. The largest crater in the Voragine was in the SW part of the Voragine and was between 70 and 100 m wide and more than 50 m deep with very steep and unstable walls, so that its floor could not be seen. Eruptive activity occurred at depth; as could be judged from the noises this was similar to the activity observed in the southeastern BN vents on the same day. A fifth vent that was active in August and early September 1998 on the crest of the "diaframma" appeared to have collapsed into the large SW vent, and only a part of its cone remained standing.

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 Geofisica (IGGUC), Palazzo delle Scienze, Università di Catania, Corso Italia 55, 95129 Catania, Italy.


Galeras (Colombia) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Galeras

Colombia

1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Low seismicity; fumarole and tilt measurements

Seismicity remained low during January and February 1999. Volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes were common from two sources at depths of 0.2-18.8 km and had a coda magnitude range between -0.6 and 3. The first area was below the active cone, and the second was NNE of Galeras. The most significant VT event registered on 3 January at 0714 with a coda magnitude of 3, an epicenter ~14 km NNE of the volcano, and felt earthquakes in Pasto. Other types of VT events located toward the E flank have been called "trenes" (trains) because they are recorded consecutively, to make up packets of 2-5 events. They were small events, recorded at only four of the nine stations in the Galeras network. Those events had a depth range of 3.3-7.3 km and a coda magnitude range between -0.6 and 0.9.

Previous VT events at times have preceded seismic sequences, such as those during November-December 1993 and March 1995, as well as a small seismic sequence in July 1997. However, events have also been recorded in periods of no seismic sequences.

Quasi-monochromatic volcanic tremor episodes were recorded during 4-6 January. The maximum amplitudes were obtained on the E-W components of the broadband stations whereas the minimal amplitudes were recorded on the vertical components of those stations. The spectral frequencies show stable values with small variations of 0.5 Hz. Analysis of the tremor episodes suggested that the source directions of these events were toward the active cone of the volcano.

The electronic tiltmeter Peladitos, on the E flank of Galeras, showed stable behavior with small variations (<1 µrad) in both radial and tangential components. The Chorrillo and Huairatola portable tiltmeters showed stable behavior in the tangential components whereas the radial components continued a descending trend that began at the end of September 1998. Through 26 January, the cumulative decline in the Chorrillo radial component was ~35 µrad, and the Huairatola radial component decline was ~600 µrad.

Most of the radon stations showed stable behavior of the Rn-222 gas emission with changes <200 pCi/l. In contrast, the Meneses-1 station showed variations of ~ 3,300 pCi/l on an ascending trend; the Meneses-3 stations, ~2,700 pCi/l on a descending trend.

When the Alfa Deformes fumarole was measured in December 1998, it had a pH of 0.6. The next measurement, in May 1998, revealed a pH of 2.3, followed by a gradual decline to a value of 0.3 on 25 February. Measured fumarole temperatures generally remained stable, although the La Joya fumarole had increased to 181°C on 6 March from 148°C on 25 February. Scientists observed numerous fissures emitting gas during a summit visit, as well as cracks that could generate small landslides on the main cone.

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

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Pasto (OVSP), Carrera 31, 18-07 Parque Infantil, PO Box 1795, Pasto, Colombia (URL: https://www2.sgc.gov.co/volcanes/index.html).


Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Guagua Pichincha

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Moderate seismicity and phreatic eruptions during January-February

The Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN) monitors seismic events, crustal deformation, geochemistry, and records visual observations at Guagua Pichincha. This volcano consists of a 2-km-wide caldera, breached to the west, on whose floor lies a dome complex and the present explosion craters. The following report summarizes their daily observations from 1 January to 31 March 1999. During this period, a Yellow alert status persisted.

Bad weather often prevented or hindered visual observations. Guards at the refuge station and visiting scientists frequently reported noises and the strong smell of sulfur from the fumaroles. COSPEC data from 16 January and 13 March showed only background concentrations of SO2 from the fumaroles, following the maximum concentrations yet recorded (170 t/day) on 10 December. Ash-and-steam plumes from dome fumaroles, when visible, ranged from 100 to 800 m in height, while explosion plumes reached 3 km. The 1981 explosion crater had increased in diameter and almost absorbed the September 1998 crater.

People living along the Cristal river (W flank) confirmed the seismic detection of small debris flows and floods that were generated on 7 and 27 January, 2, 16, and 21 February, and 1 March, all related to intense rainfalls; these traveled down the Rio Cristal at least 10-15 km. Estimated volumes are between 0.3 and 1 x 10-6 m3 with estimated peak discharges of 100-250 m3/s.

Phreatic explosions covered the dome and the interior of the caldera with ash and rocks. A guard at the refuge station and Civil Defense personnel found 2-5 mm of new ash and new impact craters in the Terraza area following the explosions of 21 and 23 January. Analysis of the ash showed no juvenile material, suggesting that magma had not ascended. Ballistically ejected rock fragments up to 30 cm in diameter were found 1-1.5 km S and SE of the dome, the result of phreatic explosions in this time period.

Volcano-tectonic (VT), long-period (LP), and hybrid earthquakes, sometimes in multiples, occurred almost daily throughout January, February, and March. Phreatic explosions were frequent during that period, occurring on average once per day in February and March. Daily LP event counts varied between 1 and 40, but many days had few VT or LP events. Still, 24 VT events occurred on 28 February and 1 March. .High-frequency tremor episodes of a few minutes to as much as four hours (9 February) duration were recorded, but possible associated effects in at the caldera summit could not be confirmed due to bad weather. Some rockfalls in the caldera were heard by the refuge guards while tremor episodes were occurring.

On 9 February and 14 March instruments detected 16 and 70 tectonic earthquakes along the N part of the Quito fault. The largest events had magnitudes of 3.7 and 4.0, respectively. It had been speculated that these events represented sympathetic responses to stresses produced by the volcano's magma chamber. This idea came from an earlier observation of an "on-off scenario" where the presence earthquakes in the N Quito area correlated with little seismicity registering under the caldera, and vice versa.

Reduced displacement measurements (RDs) of phreatic explosions ranged from those too small to measure to several that were 20 cm2 or greater. Some of these larger RDs, such as those on 18 and 28 January, and 13, 19, and 28 February, were the largest since October 1998. The one on 28 February was the largest yet recorded. A summary of seismic events since August 1998 is presented in table 2.

Table 2. Monthly summaries of explosions and seismic events at Guagua Pichincha, August 1998-March 1999. Courtesy IG-EPN.

Month Phreatic Explosions Volcano-tectonic Long-period Hybrid
Aug 1998 8 23 18 29
Sep 1998 24 73 165 1,626
Oct 1998 25 49 191 1,448
Nov 1998 18 52 234 419
Dec 1998 7 59 94 166
Jan 1999 18 41 218 1,163
Feb 1999 28 60 190 2,099
Mar 1999 21 115 73 940

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.


Ibu (Indonesia) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Ibu

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruptions that began on 18 December 1998 continued in January 1999

Local residents first noticed thick gray ash emissions from the summit on 18 December 1998 (corrected from BGVN 24:01); this information reached the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI) Gamkonora volcano observatory on the 31st. On 2 January personnel from VSI who went to the island to take COSPEC measurements of the SO2 release observed a loud eruption that caused up to 3 mm of ashfall in and around Tugure Batu Village. The eruption lasted 35 minutes and generated a plume 1,000 m high. Another eruption observed on 5 January 1999 lasted for 60 minutes. Thunderclaps from the summit were heard on 16 January and a night glow from ejecta was evident above the summit area. Residents also reportedly saw lava at the crater rim. The seismometer from Gamkonora (an RTS PS-2) was installed ~2 km from the summit of Ibu on 3 February along with an ARGOS satellite system tiltmeter.

Field observations on 11 March revealed continuing eruptions and rumbling noises, but the larger eruptions (accompanied by booming and thick ash ejection) had decreased to a rate of one every 15-20 minutes. When observed on 2 February larger eruptions occurred every 5 minutes. Seismograph records are still dominated by explosion events; during 9-15 March there were 779 events, increased from 673 events the previous week.

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

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


Izalco (El Salvador) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Izalco

El Salvador

13.813°N, 89.633°W; summit elev. 1950 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strong fumarolic activity around the summit crater

During fieldwork on Santa Ana volcano in February, increased steaming was observed at the summit of Izalco relative to levels of previous years. Strong fumarolic activity occurred along the entire circumference of the 250-m-wide summit crater, with the exception of the NE side facing Cerro Verde. Activity was most vigorous at a vent on the N side of the crater floor, but was also strong along much of the inner rim of the crater and along its outer flanks. Steaming was observed over broad areas on the outer southern flanks to ~50 m below the rim, and on the W flank immediately N of a shoulder of the cone at ~1,800 m elevation, roughly 150 m below the summit. Activity had earlier been noticed to have increased in November 1998 following Hurricane Mitch. Most of the steaming was water vapor, and the increased activity was attributed to saturation of the still-warm cone by heavy rains accompanying the hurricane.

Geologic Background. Volcán de Izalco, El Salvador's youngest volcano, was born in in 1770 CE on the southern flank of Santa Ana volcano. Frequent strombolian eruptions from Izalco provided a night-time beacon for ships, causing the volcano to be known as El Faro, the "Lighthouse of the Pacific." During the two centuries prior to the cessation of activity in 1966, Izalco built a steep-sided, 650-m-high stratovolcano truncated by a 250-m-wide summit crater. Izalco has been one of the most frequently active volcanoes in North America, and its sparsely vegetated slopes contrast dramatically with neighboring forested volcanoes. Izalco's dominantly basaltic-andesite pyroclasts and lava flows are geochemically distinct from those of both Santa Ana and its fissure-controlled flank vents. Lava flows were mostly erupted from flank vents and deflected southward by the slopes of Santa Ana, traveling as far as about 7 km from the summit of Izalco.

Information Contacts: Carlos Pullinger, Calle Padres Aguilar 448, Colonia Escalon, San Salvador, El Salvador; Demetrio Escobar, Centro de Investigaciones Geotecnicas (CIG), Final Blvd. Venezuela y calle a La Chacra, Apdo. Postal 109, San Salvador, El Salvador; Lee Siebert and Paul Kimberly, Global Volcanism Program, Smithsonian Institution.


Krakatau (Indonesia) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

6.102°S, 105.423°E; summit elev. 155 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Sporadic ash eruptions in February and March 1999

Krakatau erupted on 5 February 1999 accompanied by thunderclaps and an ash plume that reached a height of ~1,000 m above the summit. The activity continued until 10 February with ash plumes reaching ~100-300 m above the summit. The continuing sporadic eruptions deposited small amounts of ash over most of the island; a deposit of ~0.3 mm was measured near the observatory. On 11 February, the glow of ejecta was observed reaching ~25 m above the summit and continued during the night.

Activity decreased early during the week of 9-15 March. Weak booming noises were heard twice on 9 and 10 March, but plumes were not observed. At the end of the week booming noises were rare, and a white-gray ash plume was seen on 14 March that rose 100-300 m above the summit. The current activity is a continuation of eruptions that began in 1992.

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

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


Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — February 1999 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)


Lava flows spilling over the crater rim in November 1998

The following report is based on photos taken between September and November 1998. Most of the photos were taken by local mountain guide Burra Ami Gadiye. Sketches and descriptions of the photos were provided by Celia Nyamweru of St. Lawrence University.

Lava from within the crater breached the rim, causing small lava flows down the outer crater wall; the breach on the NW probably occurred in late October, and the breach on the E began in early November. Small, narrow tongues of pahoehoe lava erupted continuously from vents around the upper slopes of cones T37S, T37N, and T40 (figure 55). Most of these flows moved E or NE, although a few moved W. The tops of T37S and T37N were built up into broad cones with jagged crowns. Some growth also occurred at T40. Little change was apparent on any of the other cones that were in existence in August (BGVN 23:10). In mid-November a new cone, which has been numbered T50, formed at the base of the SE wall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. View of Ol Doinyo Lengai looking N from the summit on 29 September 1998. Traced by Celia Nyamweru from a photo by B.A. Gadiye.

Activity during September and October. Narrow flows of pahoehoe lava emerged in late September from vents close to the summit of T37S and flowed E and W. The westward-flowing lava reached the center of the crater; the eastward-flowing lava reached the rim of T24 and the base of the crater wall. These flows were very dark in color suggesting they were still fluid or only very recently formed. The summit of T37S had a jagged profile (figure 56), replacing the broad dome seen in August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. View of Ol Doinyo Lengai looking NW from SE crater rim as seen on 29 September 1998. Traced by C. Nyamweru from photographs by B. A. Gadiye.

Small, narrow, very dark colored pahoehoe flows emerged in early October from vents close to the summits of T37S and T40 (figure 57). Behind T40 and to the right of T45, the T37 cluster showed some dark lava extending westwards from its summit past T47, the very tall narrow cone in front of the south wall. Cone T40 had fresh lava extending from the summit onto its lower slopes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Photograph of Ol Doinyo Lengai taken on 3 October 1998 of the view S from the N crater rim. Courtesy B.A. Gadiye.

In another photo on 7 October (figure 58), the top of T37S was dark brown, in striking contrast with the very pale brown lower slopes. Surrounding cones were pale brown. A large dark brown flow from a source between T45 and T37 extended around the eastern slope of T45. The flow showed no sign of whitening along the edges of the slabs, unlike the flow in front of it, and, therefore, might have been only a few hours old. The E crater wall was estimated to be 5 m high based on the appearance of a person in one photo. This was not an estimate of the lowest point on the crater wall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Photograph of Ol Doinyo Lengai taken on 7 October 1998 of the view SW from the E crater rim. Courtesy B.A. Gadiye.

Activity during November. In early November fresh, black, shiny, pahoehoe lava flowed from a vent between T45 and T37S. Gadiye noted the source of the flow as the cone T5T9. Only the very top of T5T9 remained visible, since the remainder was covered by 20 m of lava. Another lava flow originated from a vent on the S slope of T40 and flowed around the E side of this cone. According to Gadiye the crater had filled and lava was pouring over the NW rim. A few weeks later he took two photographs, noting that the lava was spilling over the crater rim on the E and had burned the grass on the slope. The lava in one of these photos (taken just outside the rim) consisted of brown and gray smooth pahoehoe flows that did not seem to be more than 10 to 20 cm thick. Judging from the pale color, it had probably undergone weathering during the weeks since it flowed.

Aerial photographs taken late in November showed several narrow tongues of very dark lava over an older surface of white and pale brown lava. These dark flows originated from the slopes of T37S and from the cluster of cones around T37N1. A narrow white streak that overflowed the rim on the NW side was probably recent lava. A few days later fresh pahoehoe flows effused from T37S and T37N and flowed E toward the crater wall and the remains of the rim of T24 (figure 59). In this area was a new cone near the base of the S wall: a low circular feature, just out of view in figure 59, which Gadiye described as "a new cone near the SE rim that is boiling and giving out a lot of steam." This has been designated T50. Lava was seen to be overflowing the NW rim. T37S had a very jagged appearance and there also seemed to have been considerable growth at T37N1, between T37S and T45. Some fresh pahoehoe, very dark over the white older flows, was also visible farther west on the crater floor, near the T44/T48/T49 cone cluster.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Photograph of Ol Doinyo Lengai taken on 24 November 1998 looking SW from the crater floor. Courtesy of B.A. Gadiye.

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/).


Lopevi (Vanuatu) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Lopevi

Vanuatu

16.507°S, 168.346°E; summit elev. 1413 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strombolian explosions beginning November 1998

During 1963-82 ash emissions, lava flows, lava fountains, and Strombolian explosions occurred intermittently at Lopevi. In 1968-69 activity mainly affected the SE flank (figure 1), where two lava flows from the summit reached the sea. The twenty-year pattern of activity ended with emission of a major plume that rose to 6,000 m on 24 October 1982 (SEAN 07:010).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. View of the SE flank of Lopevi volcano, looking toward the NW in May 1995. Paama Island, from which recent observations were made, and Ambrym Island, a currently active volcano, are in the background (to the N). Courtesy IRD; photo by P. Evin, IRD.

Since then, activity had been generally fumarolic. Eruptive activity resumed in July 1998. A series of Strombolian explosions in the main 1963 crater (just NW of the central crater) was observed during November 1998. On 29, 30, and 31 December 1998, Strombolian explosions and Vulcanian emissions were observed from the island of Paama every 4-5 minutes.

Sporadic eruptive activity observed between the end of December 1998 and March 1999 was confined to the 1963 crater on the NW flank (figure 2). The appearance of this large crater, at ~900 m elevation, ruined the perfect conic profile of Lopevi, a rare volcano of the archipelago without a caldera.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. View of the active crater on Lopevi's NW flank as seen in January 1999. Courtesy IRD; photo by J-M. Bore, IRD.

Lopevi, an island ~6 km in diameter, 1,450 m high, and 3,500 m above the seafloor, is one of the most active of the Vanuatu archipelago. The first written description came from Captain Cook, who in 1774 entered in his ship's log that the volcano was "seemingly without activity." Volcanic crises reported since 1863 appear to have occurred in cycles of ~15-20 years. In 1960, following a significant Plinian eruption from the NW flank, a series of pyroclastic flows, lava flows, Strombolian activity, and fumarolic emissions were observed during one month. In 1963, over a period of several months, large quantities of flowing lava and ash spread through ~ 1,000 ha in the NW part of the island.

Geologic Background. The small 7-km-wide conical island of Lopevi, known locally as Vanei Vollohulu, is one of Vanuatu's most active volcanoes. A small summit crater containing a cinder cone is breached to the NW and tops an older cone that is rimmed by the remnant of a larger crater. The basaltic-to-andesitic volcano has been active during historical time at both summit and flank vents, primarily along a NW-SE-trending fissure that cuts across the island, producing moderate explosive eruptions and lava flows that reached the coast. Historical eruptions at the 1413-m-high volcano date back to the mid-19th century. The island was evacuated following major eruptions in 1939 and 1960. The latter eruption, from a NW-flank fissure vent, produced a pyroclastic flow that swept to the sea and a lava flow that formed a new peninsula on the western coast.

Information Contacts: Michel Lardy, Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD), B.P. 76, Port Vila, Vanuatu; Douglas Charley and Roland Priam, Department of Geology, Mines and Water Resources, PMB 01, Port Vila, Vanuatu.


Pacaya (Guatemala) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosive activity resumes; summary of activity 1987-98

Explosive activity resumed on 2 January 1999 at Pacaya for the first time since the end of a major eruptive episode on 19 September 1998. Current activity has consisted of small explosions that ejected ash without incandescent material. Beginning on 8 January, the number of explosions increased from 100-200/day to more than 400/day, reaching a peak of ~ 550 on 21 January (figure 19). Explosion counts declined to ~200/day by the end of the month. Volcanologists from INSIVUMEH and the Smithsonian Institution observed frequent small ash eruptions during a 1 February visit. The explosions were not accompanied by detonations, and produced billowing gray-to-brown ash columns that rose ~100 m above the vent. They observed that two vents produced explosions; the largest explosions originated from the westernmost and lower of two vents in the breached crater. Intense fumarolic activity occurred from the inclined floor of the summit crater, its rim, and the outer flanks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Daily explosion counts at Pacaya during January 1999. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

Significant changes to the morphology of MacKenney cone had occurred since a strong explosive eruption on 18-19 September 1998. That eruption left a major breach 20-25 m wide that extended SW. By the time of the 1 February visit, erosion had widened the breach to 70-80 m. At its head, the breach had nearly vertical walls more than 50 m deep, and formed a gully that extended more than 1 km down to ~1,800 m elevation. The NE side of the crater was also notched, but not nearly as deeply. Fractures and down-dropped blocks of summit agglutinate material along the crater rim also showed this SW-NE orientation in line with the location of two flank vents active during September 1998. The breach gives MacKenney cone a twin-peaked appearance when viewed from the W flank (figure 20). The present form of the crater increases the possibility of future eruptive or collapse events being directed toward the W-flank village of El Patrocinio (figure 21).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. A prominent gully extends more than 1 km down the SW flank of Pacaya from the twin-peaked summit of MacKenney cone, 1 February 1999. The dark lava flow at the lower right was one of two emplaced from flank vents at the end of the 18-19 September 1998 eruption. Photograph courtesy of Lee Siebert.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Sketch map of Pacaya and nearby towns. Hachured arcuate line indicates the caldera rim. Contour interval 100 m; contour intervals around MacKenney crater are approximate. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

The accumulation of spatter and ejecta from the September 1998 explosions had built MacKenney cone to a height about 30-35 m above an older cone immediately SE of MacKenney crater. The older cone, the previous vantage point for observing explosive activity from Pacaya, had itself grown about 10 m in the past decade from the accumulation of ejecta from MacKenney crater. The height of MacKenney cone now exceeds that of Cerro Grande, a vegetated ~2,560-m-high prehistorical cone of Pacaya located 2 km NE of MacKenney.

September 1998 eruption. A major explosive and effusive eruption took place on 18-19 September (table 3). During the first 17 hours of the eruption, a 1.2-km-long lava flow descended WNW into the caldera moat and down the flank of the volcano to the Montanas las Granadillas area SW of Cerro Chino. From 1700-2200 an explosive eruption ejected ash columns to 5 km above the crater, producing ashfall to the SW and NNW. Fine ashfall caused the closing of the international airport in Guatemala City for 35 hours. About 1 m of volcanic bombs were deposited on the caldera rim. Pyroclastic avalanches of incandescent ejecta mantled the upper half of the cone. One 3-m-wide impact crater was formed at the base of the lava flow near El Patrocinio, and 1-m-wide impact craters were found as far as 5 km from the vent. During the final explosive phase, the SW rim of MacKenney crater collapsed, forming a debris avalanche that traveled 2 km down the SW flank to ~1,500 m elevation. Coarse blocks littered the surface of the deposit, whose light color contrasted with that of adjacent dark-colored lava flows.

Table 3. Summary of major eruptive events at Pacaya volcano from January 1987 to September 1998.

Date Description of Volcanic Activity
21 Jan 1987 Ash fell over areas of the villages of Amatitlan and Santa Elena Barillas. The villages of El Caracol and El Patrocinio were evacuated.
25 Jan 1987 10-15 cm of ash fell over El Caracol, El Rodeo, and in part over El Patrocinio.
14 Jun 1987 Lava flow reached 2.5 km SW; 600 people evacuated.
7-11 Mar 1989 Two lava flows threatened to reach El Patrocinio and El Rodeo. A third lava flow traveled 3 km on the W flank.
02 Apr 1990 A 4-hour-long eruption deposited 10 cm of ash in El Patrocinio and El Caracol.
15 Sep 1990 Moderate intensity eruption caused a moderate ash fall over El Patrocinio.
05 Mar 1991 Minor ashfall in El Caracol and El Patrocinio.
06, 14, 16 Jun 1991 Continuing eruptive activity destroyed the active crater (MacKenney).
08, 12, 14, 15 Jul 1991 Moderate intensity eruption; minor ashfall over El Caracol (3 km from the crater).
27 Jul 1991 An eruption caused a 26-cm-thick ash layer to be deposited over El Caracol and El Patrocinio, 1.5 cm in Escuintla, and a thin layer in Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa.
01 Aug 1991 A 3,000-m-high column caused ashfall over Barbarena and Cuilapa.
10 Jan 1993 Collapse in the active crater sent a glowing avalanche to the side of El Caracol. The post-collapse eruption column drifted toward Santa Lucia Barillas. The acidity of the ash damaged vegetation in the region.
21 Sep 1993 4-hour eruption caused a minor ashfall over El Caracol.
16 Mar 1994 Eruption lasted until midnight and had an incandescent lava fountain 300 m high. Most of the ash fell on the volcano's flanks.
15 Oct 1994 Phreatomagmatic explosion; acid ashfall damaged vegetation in Santa Elena Barillas and Los Llanos. Population was affected by pulmonary and respiratory problems.
07 Apr 1995 A lahar completely covered a house and killed a little girl in Los Rios. The inhabitants were evacuated as 25-35-cm-thick volcanic sand was deposited over the village. As a result of a hazard study, many villagers had been previously evacuated.
01-07 Jun 1995 A debris avalanche caused by collapse of the W crater rim destroyed a radio station and partially burned the vegetation of Cerro Chino in a 4-km2 area.
07 Jun 1995 Lahars moving as a dense, dough-like mass, cut roads and wiped away a bridge. Consequently many families in El Patrocinio and Los Rios were evacuated and later part of the population was relocated in La Colima.
17 Sep 1995 A 1-km-high column from a phreatomagmatic explosion deposited 3 cm of fine ash in Santa Elena Barillas and a fine veil of volcanic dust in Barbarena and near Cuilapa.
11 Oct 1996 At dawn the eruption produced a sustained lava fountain 500-700 m high and lava flows as long as 1.5 km on the SE flank. The 35 km/h wind with blasts at 45 km/h caused a fine ash fall as far as Puerto San Jose, 60 km to the S on the Pacific Ocean.
11 Nov 1996 A 9-hour-long eruption produced a 2-km long lava flow and deposited 7-12 cm of ash near El Caracol and Finca El Rabon. El Rodeo received a 2-3 cm thick blanket of ash. It was necessary to evacuate the population of El Caracol, El Rodeo, and some women and children of El Patrocinio.
20 May 1998 A 5-hour eruption produced a 4-km-high ash column. S wind caused ashfall in the capital City, Ciudad de Guatemala (2 mm in the N and 4 mm in the S areas of the city). La Aurora International airport was closed for three days. Incandescent bombs and hot blocks ignited trees in the mountainous areas of Cerro Grande, 2 km NNE of MacKenney crater. 254 people were evacuated from San Francisco de Sales, El Cedro, and El Pepinal. Two people were injured by falling scoriaceous bombs in S.F. de Sales.
14 Jun 1998 A moderate eruption began at 0600 and lasted until 1900. An incandescent lava fountain was oscillating between 150 and 400 m high. A large ash column (600-800 m high) was blown to the S and produced scoriaceous ashfall in El Caracol. There was no need to evacuate. Condensation of atmospheric humidity due to the heat fed a cloud that reached 1,500-1,700 m in height. The Unidad Coordinadora Deptal de Escuintla del Ministerio de Agricoltura, Ganaderia y Alimentacion reported the loss of Q70,000 (US $10,000) from partial destruction of coffee, corn, and bean crops, and for purchase of food for livestock. Aircraft reported ash at 5,500 m.
18 Jun 1998 A 10-minute explosion at 1045 caused the ejection of semi-incandescent blocks (>= 35 cm) over all the volcano flanks. Then, 20 minutes later, fine ash lightly fell over the city of San Vincente Pacaya.
18 Sep 1998 The main eruption had one effusive and one explosive phase. The first lasted 17 hours, producing a 1,200-m-long tongue of lava that emerged from the WNW rim of the active crater and then deviated to the Montanas las Granadillas area SW of Cerro Chino. The second phase occurred from 1700 to 2200 hours. It expelled an ash column that reached 5,000 m altitude and produced ash and lapilli fall to the SW and NNW.A very thin film of fine ash (~ 1 mm) caused the La Aurora International airport to be closed again for 35 hours, after which it reopened with restrictions. Three lava flows accompanied the explosive phase; the first one, 400 m long, went WNW and reached the base of the cone. There it joined the second flow (from the N flank). The third lava flow departed from the second flow and went to the S toward El Caracol. During the proximal explosive phase the SW rim of the MacKenney crater collapsed, causing a debris avalanche 2 km long, and a cloud of hot ash and gases that burned vegetation in the distal reaches.

Several lava flows accompanied the explosive activity (figure 22). The longest of these traveled ~4 km from a notch in the NE crater rim. The flow initially descended northward into the caldera moat where it was deflected by the caldera wall, flowed across the moat, and then down the SW flank to 1,760 m elevation before diverging around a small kipuka and scorching trees at its northern margin below Cerro Chino. Much of the caldera moat was covered by lava flows of the September eruption, and the prominent 1984 spatter cone low on the N flank was nearly buried.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Photograph of the lava flow (foreground) that descended from Pacaya's caldera moat down the W flank. This flow and the two dark lobes above it originated from MacKenney cone during the 18-19 September 1998 eruption. Light-colored tephra deposits between the flows mantle previous lava flows. Photograph taken on 1 February 1999. Courtesy of Paul Kimberly, SI.

At the end of the eruption, two small lava flows took place from flank vents on opposite sides of the cone. A vent on the upper NE flank at ~2,450 m elevation produced a short lava flow that reached the caldera moat. A vent on the lower SW flank at ~1,800 m elevation (figure 22) produced a short lava flow that divided into two lobes, one traveling to the SW and the other to the south.

Summary of 1987-1998 activity. Routine explosive activity characteristic of Pacaya occurred through much of the period from 1987 to the present but is not listed in table 3. Strong explosive eruptions in January 1987 and June 1991 destroyed the upper part of MacKenney cone, deepening and widening the crater, after which renewed eruptions reconstructed the cone. Major eruptions on 7 and 14 June 1995 destroyed the WNW side of the crater, leaving two notches at the summit. Debris from the 7 June collapse slammed into the caldera wall at Cerro Chino, 1 km NW of the summit, and produced a secondary hot cloud that swept over Cerro Chino, destroyed a radio antenna, and affected houses within 2 km of the active vent. The shockwave threw INSIVUMEH observer Pastor Alfaro down a slope, fracturing his leg. The 7 June event produced a 2.5-km-high plume. The second collapse on 14 June produced an avalanche that traveled SW toward El Rodeo and was accompanied by a 4-km-high plume. Lava flows subsequently traveled 2 km. Figure 23 shows RSAM plots for 1995-98.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Plot of seismic activity at Pacaya as represented by Real-time Seismic Amplitude Measurement (RSAM) counts during January 1995-December 1998. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

A strong explosive eruption on 20 May 1998 produced a 4-km-high ash column. Incandescent bombs burned trees on the SSW flank of Cerro Grande, 2 km N of the crater, and scoria fall damaged vegetation and crops. Two persons in the settlement of San Francisco de Sales, 2.5 km NE of the crater, were injured by falling scoria blocks. The ash plume was primarily blown to the NE, with a lesser plume to the SW (figure 24). Ash fell from 1300-1600 in the villages and towns within 5 km of the volcano. During 1400-1830 ash fell in the capital city of Guatemala, causing closure of the international airport. Ashfall covered an area of 800 km2, and had an estimated volume of ~2.3 x 106 m3. The eruption caused the evacuation of 254 residents from surrounding villages to the town of San Vicente de Pacaya. Lava flows during the 20 May eruption traveled down the N, W, and SW flanks and had a volume of 6.3 x 105 m3.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Isopachs of the 20 May 1998 explosive eruption from Pacaya volcano. Courtesy of Otoniel Matias, INSIVUMEH.

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

Information Contacts: Otoniel Matias, Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Ministerio de Communicaciones, Transporte y Obras Publicas, 7A Avenida 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala; Lee Siebert and Paul Kimberly, Global Volcanism Program, National Museum of Natural History, Room E-442, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC 20560-0119.


Sheveluch (Russia) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Sheveluch

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Low-level seismicity and fumarolic plumes

Seismicity under the volcano was about at background levels from December 1998 through February 1999. On 2 February a M 2 earthquake was located at 23 km depth. Weak volcanic tremor and small earthquakes were registered during the first half of February, and on 21 February a 6-minutes series of shallow earthquakes was detected. The Level of Concern Color Code remained Green.

The volcano was frequently obscured by clouds, making observations only intermittently possible. Fumarolic plumes rising 50-400 m were noted on 10 December, 8, 13-14, and 20 January, 6-7, 13, 16-18, and 22 February. Higher plumes, in the range of 700-800 m above the summit, were observed on 21 and 23 January, and 5 February. On 10 and 15 February fumarolic plumes rose 1,000 m.

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.


Shishaldin (United States) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Shishaldin

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Steam plumes and thermal activity seen at summit

During the first week of February, National Weather Service personnel in Cold Bay, 93 km ENE of Shishaldin, observed anomalous steaming. On 9 February a vigorous steam plume rose as high as 1,830 m above the vent and a long plume drifted downwind. Satellite imagery taken that day showed a thermal anomaly at the vent in addition to the steam plume. The steam activity decreased during the week, becoming only light puffs rising a few meters above the vent; however, the thermal anomaly at the vent persisted. A newly installed seismic net recorded slightly elevated seismicity beginning at the end of January.

The hazard status was raised to Yellow on 18 February due to the persistence of the thermal anomaly and the identification of low-level seismic tremor. Pilots and ground observers reported a large steam plume rising to 5,800 m on 18 February. No ash was detected on satellite imagery. Cloudy weather precluded ground observations for most of the following week.

Shishaldin volcano, located near the center of Unimak Island in the eastern Aleutian Islands, is a spectacular symmetrical cone with a basal diameter of approximately 16 km. A small summit crater typically emits a noticeable steam plume with occasional small amounts of ash. Shishaldin is one of the most active volcanoes in the Aleutian volcanic arc, situated near that part of the arc where the maximum rate of subduction occurs. It has erupted at least 27 times since 1775. Major explosive eruptions occurred in 1830 and 1932, and eight historical eruptions have produced lava flows. Steam and minor ash emission began in March 1986 and continued intermittently through mid-February, 1987. A poorly documented short-lived eruption of steam and ash, perhaps as high as 10 km, occurred in December 1995 (BGVN 21:01). Fresh ash was noted on the upper flanks and crater rim but no specific eruptive event was identified for the deposits.

Geologic Background. The beautifully symmetrical Shishaldin is the highest and one of the most active volcanoes of the Aleutian Islands. The 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 steam plume often rises from its small summit crater. Constructed atop an older glacially dissected volcano, it is largely basaltic in composition. Remnants of an older ancestral volcano are exposed on the W and NE sides at 1,500-1,800 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, 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) — February 1999 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)


Ash venting and numerous pyroclastic flows in December 1998 and January 1999

Several small dome collapses, some that were initially explosive, generated pyroclastic flows in December. Episodes of ash venting occurred almost daily and seismicity was dominated by volcano-tectonic earthquakes and rockfalls. The number of volcano-tectonic earthquakes declined toward the end of December but the number of long-period signals, corresponding to ash venting, increased slightly. Some explosive eruptions during early- to mid-January generated substantial ash clouds. Brief episodes of ash venting, correlating with seismic tremor, became shorter and weaker toward the end of January. Small-volume pyroclastic flows were generated by dome collapse, but some flows may have been generated by fountain collapse during small explosive eruptions. The average SO2 flux was elevated throughout December and January. Eastward movement of the Long Ground and Tar River GPS sites continued.

Visual observations.Daily periods of volcanic tremor during December coincided with steam-and-ash venting. On 8 December mudflows occurred all around the volcano.

A pyroclastic flow generated by dome collapse on 14 December reached the sea at the Tar River delta. Deposits were fluidized, fine-grained material with very few blocks. A large ash cloud was generated that rose rapidly to ~6,100 m. Ash fell W and NW of the volcano, attaining a thickness of 2 mm in Salem and containing accretionary lapilli up to 2 mm in diameter. On 19 December a pyroclastic flow reached the Tar River delta in less than five minutes. Powerful black jets of ash and rock burst from the dome at the onset of the event but it is unclear if this explosive activity preceded or followed the dome collapse. The small deposit was almost entirely confined to the incised channel in the Tar River valley on top of the 14 December deposits. On 21 December, at the onset of a sudden large seismic signal, dense black jets of ash and vigorously convecting ash clouds escaped from the main vent in the 3 July scar. Ballistic blocks rose 80 m above the vent. Very vigorous ash venting continued for more than 30 minutes after the initial explosion. A minor dome collapse on 27 December resulted in a small-volume pyroclastic flow reaching the Tar River delta. Poor visibility hampered observations, but a significant ash cloud was generated.

Minor ash venting took place on 1 and 5 January. At 0358 on 7 January, a large long-period seismic signal immediately preceded a 30-minute episode of tremor (usually associated with vigorous ash venting). Later the same day, a small dome collapse generated a pyroclastic flow that traveled half-way down the Tar River valley and a low-level ash cloud that moved W over Plymouth. On 13 January an explosive event generated an ash cloud to 6,100 m and a pyroclastic flow. The onset of the seismic signal had a long-period component, and a pressure wave was recorded at Long Ground. A booming sound was reported by many. The pyroclastic-flow deposit in the Tar River valley was small in volume but its extent suggested that the flow had been very mobile. Narrow small-volume pyroclastic-flow deposits were observed S of the dome as far as the former position of Galway's Soufriere. Two small dome-collapse pyroclastic flows occurred on 14 January. At 0827 on 15 January a small explosive event generated an ash cloud that rose to 4,600 m. The cloud moved NW and light ashfall affected Salem and Old Towne. Ash venting continued in pulses for 15 minutes. Another small explosion on 16 January generated an ash cloud to 3,000 m. Rockfalls were triggered on the inner walls of the 3 July scar and on the outer SE and NE flanks of the dome. A minor dome-collapse pyroclastic flow on 20 January almost reached the sea at the Tar River delta. The resulting steam-rich plume dissipated rapidly. Several brief (20 minute) episodes of tremor preceded by a rockfall corresponded to weak ash venting on 24 January. Further short episodes of ash venting occurred on 25 and 27 January.

Clear conditions on 26 and 27 January enabled MVO staff to survey the dome (figure 44). The canyon, which had been incised through the dome, was clearly visible. It bisected the dome in a NW-SE direction from the top of Tar River Valley to the top of Gages Valley. The inner walls of the canyon were vertical and surfaces looked fresh because of repeated small rockfalls.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Photograph of the dome area at Soufriere Hills taken in late January 1999. This was used to calculate the dome volume and shows an exceptionally clear view of the gully running through the dome. Courtesy MVO; photograph by Richard Herd and Chloe Harford.

Seismicity. Seismicity in December consisted chiefly of volcano-tectonic earthquakes and rockfall signals. Many of the latter were associated with small pyroclastic flows or venting. Small clusters of earthquakes were located under George's Hill to the NW of the dome, under Roaches Yard to the SE, and under Hermitage Estate to the NE.

Overall, January was quiet seismically. Pyroclastic-flow signals had low-frequency precursors. These events were associated with booming noises and were followed by periods of vigorous ash venting, suggesting the collapses were caused by violent degassing of the dome.

Ground deformation. The only area where significant deformation took place in December was on the E flank. The vectors for Long Ground showed eastward movement of these two sites amounting to 5 cm since lava stopped erupting. Most of this movement occurred during the last three months (a time of increased surface activity). The differential movement between Whites and Long Ground since June 1996 is more than 10 cm. The two sites are 733 m apart and the movement between them cannot be fit elastically. A ground inspection on 30 December revealed a possible fault between the two sites. The only surface expression is a linear break in the road and it is not currently known whether this is related to volcanic deformation or to surficial movements. The Tar River GPS pin has followed a similar movement to Long Ground throughout the eruption. The Perches site, until it was destroyed in July, followed a similar path. One possible interpretation is that a sector of the volcano including Long Ground, Perches, and Tar River is moving as a block along faults in a NE direction.

Eastward movement of Long Ground and Tar River continued in January but at a reduced rate. A local EDM network of five pins was set up on 27 January to learn whether the surface feature is a fault.

Environmental monitoring. The miniCOSPEC was used several times in December. The SO2 flux was elevated and on 22 December and reached a peak average flux of 1,700 metric tons per day (figure 45). Sulfur-dioxide flux decreased throughout January, but generally remained elevated. Concentrations were also measured at ground level by using diffusion tubes around the island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Average daily SO2 fluxes at Soufriere Hills measured by miniCOSPEC, December 1998-January 1999. The lines connecting measured points are guidelines only; the actual measured levels varied. The measurements made on 19 January showed a very low flux: observations suggested that at least part of the plume was at a very low altitude and may have been found partly below the elevation of the traversing helicopter. Data courtesy of MVO.

Ash and rainwater collection continued throughout January. Ash samples from the small explosive events tended to very coarse, with lithic and crystal fragments up to 6 mm in size in the Richmond Hill-St. Georges area. In contrast, ash generated by dome-collapse pyroclastic flows was very fine-grained.

Volume measurements. A detailed photographic and theodolite survey was conducted from twelve sites around the volcano at the end of January. A photographic survey was also conducted from the helicopter with the GPS onboard. The information has been processed to produce a detailed dome map and volume measurement. The dome had a volume of 76.8 x 106 m3 and its highest point was 977 m at the top of the White River Valley. The dome was split deeply by the collapse on 3 July 1998 and by subsequent events. The N part of the dome, which comprises three main buttresses above Gages, the N flank, and Tar River, contains two-thirds of the total dome volume. The scar cuts up to 100 m into the pre-1995 crater floor and has removed a minimum of 5.4 x 106 m3 of old rock from this area.

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


Tolbachik (Russia) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Tolbachik

Russia

55.832°N, 160.326°E; summit elev. 3611 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Gas-and-steam explosion; minor seismicity

On 18 February, a gas-and-steam explosion generated a plume to 600 m above the volcano. Small (magnitudes near zero) shallow earthquakes were registered under the volcano and continued through the month, coincident with M 1.5 events at 15-30 km depth. No further unusual seismicity was reported as of mid-March.

The massive Tolbachik basaltic volcano is located at the southern end of the dominantly andesitic Kliuchevskaya volcano group. The Tolbachik massif is composed of two overlapping, but morphologically dissimilar volcanoes. The flat-topped Plosky Tolbachik shield volcano with its nested Holocene Hawaiian-type calderas up to 3 km in diameter is located east of the older and higher sharp-topped Ostry Tolbachik stratovolcano. Lengthy rift zones extending NE and SSW of the volcano have erupted voluminous basaltic lava flows during the Holocene, with activity during the past two thousand years being confined to the narrow axial zone of the rifts. The last eruptive activity, in 1975-76, vented from both the summit and SSW-flank fissures; it was the largest historical basaltic eruption in Kamchatka.

Geologic Background. The massive Tolbachik basaltic volcano is located at the southern end of the dominantly andesitic Kliuchevskaya volcano group. The massif is composed of two overlapping, but morphologically dissimilar volcanoes. The flat-topped Plosky Tolbachik shield volcano with its nested Holocene Hawaiian-type calderas up to 3 km in diameter is located east of the older and higher sharp-topped Ostry Tolbachik stratovolcano. The summit caldera at Plosky Tolbachik was formed in association with major lava effusion about 6500 years ago and simultaneously with a major southward-directed sector collapse of Ostry Tolbachik volcano. Lengthy rift zones extending NE and SSW of the volcano have erupted voluminous basaltic lava flows during the Holocene, with activity during the past two thousand years being confined to the narrow axial zone of the rifts. The 1975-76 eruption originating from the SSW-flank fissure system and the summit was the largest historical basaltic eruption in Kamchatka.

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.


Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) — February 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Whakaari/White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Minor ash-and-steam emissions continue

Volcanic-tremor levels on White Island (BGVN 23:10-23:12 and 24:01) have remained low since 22 January and low-level eruptive activity continued through mid-March. On 12 February, the low-energy hydrothermal activity within Metra Crater was dominated by gas-and-steam emissions from small fumaroles on the N and W sides of the crater. Four small ponds had formed on the crater floor. A weak gas (SO2) and steam plume from PeeJay Vent rose 400-500 m, forming haze visible 40-50 km away.

During a visit by C.P. Wood on 13 March activity was generally constant with the ash-and-steam column rising to ~ 1,060 m and drifting many kilometers downwind, with sea discoloration from fall-out evident to 1 km from the island. PeeJay Vent was continuously emitting ash-charged gray-brown steam, but with varying intensity. During peak discharges, observers standing on the 1978/90 Crater Complex edge noted a rumbling noise from PeeJay, but no block ejection was seen. The vent diameter appeared to have increased and was an obvious funnel shape lined with whitish sublimate deposits. Ash could not be collected because of the wind direction. Metra Crater was occupied by a lurid lime-green lake, which largely filled the original crater and peripheral scallops to ~ 1 m below the rim (the old lake floor). There was no sign of thermal disturbance in the Metra lakelet. The ash surface throughout Main Crater was rain-washed and smooth (except for the route used by tourist operators), with no sign of recent impact craters near the 1978/90 Crater Complex edge.

Geologic Background. The uninhabited Whakaari/White Island is the 2 x 2.4 km emergent summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 50 km offshore of North Island. The island consists of two overlapping andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcanoes. The SE side of the crater is open at sea level, with the recent activity centered about 1 km from the shore close to the rear crater wall. Volckner Rocks, sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NW. Descriptions of volcanism since 1826 have included intermittent moderate phreatic, phreatomagmatic, and Strombolian eruptions; activity there also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. The formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries caused rapid changes in crater floor topography. Collapse of the crater wall in 1914 produced a debris avalanche that buried buildings and workers at a sulfur-mining project. Explosive activity in December 2019 took place while tourists were present, resulting in many fatalities. The official government name Whakaari/White Island is a combination of the full Maori name of Te Puia o Whakaari ("The Dramatic Volcano") and White Island (referencing the constant steam plume) given by Captain James Cook in 1769.

Information Contacts: Brad Scott, Wairakei Research Centre, Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (IGNS) Limited, Private Bag 2000, Wairakei, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/).

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  Obituaries

Misc 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 subject.

Additional Reports  False Reports