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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

Masaya (Nicaragua) Lava lake persists during July 2017-April 2018

Chillan, Nevados de (Chile) Hundreds of ash-bearing explosions; dome appears in crater in mid-December 2017

Marapi (Indonesia) Two explosions during April-May 2018 cause ashfall to the southeast

Nyiragongo (DR Congo) Thermal anomalies show that lava lake remains active through May 2018

Ebeko (Russia) Ash explosions remained frequent through May 2018, with plumes typically rising more than 1 km

Langila (Papua New Guinea) Gradual decline in activity after July 2017, but continuing through May 2018

Pacaya (Guatemala) Pyroclastic cone fills MacKenney crater; lava flows emerge from fissures around the crater rim

Reventador (Ecuador) Near-daily explosions produce 1-km-high ash plumes and incandescent blocks on all flanks, October 2017-March 2018.

Santa Maria (Guatemala) Daily explosions with minor ash and block avalanches at Caliente, November 2017-April 2018

Sheveluch (Russia) Intermittent thermal anomalies along with gas and steam emissions continue through April 2018

Kikai (Japan) Elevated thermal activity during February-April 2018; one earthquake swarm in March

Dieng Volcanic Complex (Indonesia) Phreatic explosion on 1 April 2018 at Sileri Crater



Masaya (Nicaragua) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake persists during July 2017-April 2018

Nicaragua's Volcan Masaya has an intermittent lava lake that has attracted visitors since the time of the Spanish Conquistadores; tephrochronology has dated eruptions back several thousand years. The unusual basaltic caldera has had historical explosive eruptions in addition to lava flows and actively circulating magma at the lava lake. An explosion in 2012 ejected ash to several hundred meters above the volcano, bombs as large as 60 cm fell around the crater, and ash fell to a thickness of 2 mm in some areas of the park. Brief incandescence and thermal anomalies of uncertain origin in April 2013 were followed by very little activity until the reemergence of the lava lake inside Santiago crater was reported in December 2015. By late March 2016 the lava lake had grown and intensified enough to generate a significant thermal anomaly signature (BGVN 41:08, figure 49) which persisted at a constant power level through April 2017 (BGVN 42:09, figure 53) with an increase in the number of thermal anomalies from November 2016 through April 2017. Although the MIROVA thermal anomaly signal decreased slightly in intensity during May 2017, INETER scientists reported continued strong convection at the lava lake. Similar activity continued throughout July 2017-April 2018 and is covered in this report with information provided by the Instituto Nicareguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER) and satellite thermal data.

A persistent thermal signature in the MIROVA data during July 2017-April 2018 supported the visual observations of the active lava lake at the summit throughout this period (figure 58). MODVOLC thermal alerts were also issued every month, with the number of alerts ranging from a high of 17 in November 2017 to a low of six in April 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. MIROVA thermal data for Masaya for the year ending on 11 May 2018 showed a persistent and steady level of heat flow consistent with the observations of the active lava lake inside Santiago crater. Courtesy of MIROVA.

INETER made regular visits to the summit most months in coordination with specialists from several universities to gather SO2 data; CO2, H2S and gravity measurements were also taken during specific site visits. Thermal measurements around the lava lake inside Santiago crater taken on 24 February 2018 indicated temperatures ranging from 210-389°C. Seismicity remained very low throughout the period. The lava lake was actively convecting each time it was visited, and Pele's hair was abundant around the summit area (figures 59-64).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. The lava lake at Masaya was actively convecting on 22 August 2017 when observed by INETER scientists. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua. Agosto, 2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Pele's hair near the summit of Masaya on 22 August 2017. Scale is likely a few tens of centimeters. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua. Agosto, 2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. The summit crater (Santiago) of Masaya with an active lava lake and fumarole plume (white circle) during 8-16 January 2018. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua. Enero, 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. Thermal measurements of the lava lake inside Santiago crater at the summit of Masaya on 24 February 2018 indicated temperatures in the 210-389°C range. Courtesy of INETER (Boletín Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua. Febrero, 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. Nindiri plateau, the broad, flat area inside the summit crater of Masaya, was covered with Pele's hair and basaltic tephra on 6 March 2018. Courtesy of Carsten ten Brink.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. The lava lake inside Santiago crater at Masaya was actively convecting on 1 April 2018. Courtesy of Alexander Schimmeck.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua (URL: http://www.ineter.gob.ni/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Alexander Schimmeck, flickr (URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alschim/), photo used under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) (URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/); Carsten ten Brink, flickr (URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/carsten_tb/), photo used under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) (URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/).


Nevados de Chillan (Chile) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Nevados de Chillan

Chile

36.868°S, 71.378°W; summit elev. 3180 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Hundreds of ash-bearing explosions; dome appears in crater in mid-December 2017

Nevados de Chillán is a complex of late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcanoes constructed in the Chilean Central Andes. The Nuevo and Arrau craters are adjacent vents on the NW flank of the cone of the large stratovolcano referred to as Volcán Viejo. An eruption started with a phreatic explosion and ash emission on 8 January 2016 from a new crater on the E flank of Nuevo. Explosions continued through September 2017 with ash plumes rising several kilometers and Strombolian activity sending ejecta hundreds of meters (BGVN 42:10). This report covers continuing activity from September 2017-May 2018. Information for this report is provided by Chile's Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN)-Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Oficina Nacional de Emergencia-Ministerio del Interior (ONEMI), and by the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

About 150 ash-bearing explosions were recorded during September and October 2017, with plumes rising almost 2 km above the summit. Activity decreased during the second half of October, and no ash plumes were recorded during November. A significant increase in activity in early December led to over 200 explosions with ash emissions. An overflight on 21 December 2017 produced images of a fissure at the bottom of the new crater. The presence of a growing lava dome in the crater was confirmed in early January 2018. Frequent Strombolian explosions produced nighttime incandescence at the summit and down the flanks. Hundreds of ash-bearing explosions occurred during February 2018; the largest plume rose 2.5 km above the summit, and many smaller pulses produced ash and steam that rose 1.5 km. Sporadic incandescence at night and continued explosions of magmatic gases were typical during March 2018. A large explosion on 31 March coincided with the first appearance of a low-level MODIS thermal anomaly in the MIROVA data, and incandescence from explosions at night indicated that the dome continued to grow during April and May. SERNAGEOMIN reported that the top of the lava dome was visible from the E flank for the first time at the end of May 2018.

Activity during September-December 2017. SERNAGEOMIN reported 117 ash-bearing explosions between 16 and 30 September 2017 (figure 17). The one that released the most energy occurred on 19 September. The plumes of steam and ash rose up to 1,800 m above the crater. The Buenos Aires VAAC observed a narrow plume of ash in satellite imagery moving N at 3.9 km altitude and dissipating rapidly on 15 September, and a similar plume moving SE near the summit on 26 September 2017.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Over 100 ash-bearing explosions were reported at Nevados de Chillán during late September 2017, including ones on 15 September (upper left), 20 September (upper right), 23 September (lower left) and 24 September (lower right). Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

During the first two weeks of October 2017 there were 30 ash-bearing explosions recorded. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported small sporadic puffs of ash on 6 October 2017 that were visible in the webcam (figure 18), but not in satellite data, and a similar dense but short-lived plume on 14 October. SERNAGEOMIN reported a series of pulsating low-energy explosions visible in the webcam that drifted SW on 11 and 12 October 2017, and rose no more than 1 km above the summit.. Only two ash-bearing explosions were recorded during the second half of the month. The volcano was much quieter during November; plumes of steam were observed rising only 100 m above the summit throughout the month, with no ash-bearing plumes reported.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Ash plumes at Nevados de Chillán on 6 (left) and 11 (right) October 2017 were two of the 30 plumes recorded during the first half of October. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

A significant increase in activity in early December 2017 resulted in 245 explosions associated with ash emissions during the first two weeks, some rising as high as 3,000 m above the summit. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported a puff of ash on 1 December that rose to 3.7 km altitude and drifted S, dissipating rapidly. The next day another plume rose slightly higher, to 4.3 km. A dense emission on 4 December rose to 4.9 km and drifted SE before dissipating in a few hours and was not visible in satellite data. On 11 and 14 December, short-lived emissions rose to 4.3 km (figure 19). A yellow cloud of sulfur formed on 11 December within 300 m of the active crater. The webcams also recorded sporadic nighttime incandescence during increased explosions in the early morning of 14 December. Continuous steam emissions with pulses of minor ash were first noted on 16 December; they were visible in satellite imagery the next day at 3.9-4.3 km altitude drifting NE, and by 18 December, consisted only of water vapor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. An increase in explosive activity at Nevados de Chillán in December 2017 resulted in numerous explosions with ash plumes including on 1 December (upper left), 2 December (upper right), 4 December (lower left), and 11 December (lower right). Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

In a special report released on 19 December, OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN reported an increase in surface activity over the previous three days, recording minor explosions averaging four per hour, and seismic pulses lasting 5-10 minutes; they also noted harmonic tremor with the increase in explosion frequency. A detailed review of images taken during an overflight on 21 December revealed a fissure 30-40 m long trending NW at the bottom of the crater. Incandescence at night was regularly observed after 20 December (figure 20), and ash emissions rose to 3,000 m above the summit during the second half of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Phreatic explosions with steam and minor ash were common at Nevados de Chillán during the last two weeks of December 2017. Ash emissions and pyroclastic flows (top image) were noted during 12-19 December, and numerous incandescent blocks accompanied the explosions on 28 December (bottom image). Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

Activity during January-April 2018. SERNAGEOMIN volcanologists identified a growing lava dome within the new crater during two overflights on 9 and 12 January 2018 (figures 21); it was emerging from the fissure first identified on 21 December. During the first two weeks of January SERNAGEOMIN reported 1,027 pulsating explosions associated primarily with magmatic gases, and very little ash that rose up to 1,000 m above the summit. Confirmed ash emissions were reported on 11 January at 4.3 km altitude faintly visible moving SE in satellite imagery, according to the Buenos Aires VAAC. Nighttime incandescence from the growing dome was periodically observed (figure 22). Based on the overflight data and satellite imagery, they calculated a growth rate for the dome of 1,360 m3 per day. They estimated the size at 37,000 m3 by mid-month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. During an overflight at Nevados de Chillán on 9 January 2018, SERNAGEOMIN scientists observed the growing dome within the crater. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Incandescence at night increased from the growing dome at Nevados de Chillán on 13 January 2018. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

Overflights on 23 and 31 January measured temperatures of 305-480°C over the surface of the dome, with the highest values at the fissure. The growth rate calculated after these overflights was 2,540 m3 per day. The webcam revealed emissions of ash and water vapor during the second half of the month that rose less than 1,000 m above the summit crater.

An explosion on 2 February 2018 sent an ash plume to 2,500 m above the summit (figure 23). Vibrations from the explosion were reported in Las Trancas (10 km) and at the Gran Hotel Termas de Chillan (5 km). SERNAGEOMIN began referring to the active crater as Nicanor, and the dome was named Gil-Cruz. During the first two weeks of February, 840 explosions associated with plumes of magmatic gases were reported. The plumes generally rose as high as 1,500 m above the summit and were often accompanied by incandescence at night. Two overflights on 7 and 14 February recorded temperatures of 500 and 550°C. SERNAGEOMIN determined a dome growth rate of 1,389 m3 per day, and a total volume of 82,500 m3 by mid-month. At least four explosions on 14 February were characterized by two simultaneous plumes, one of white steam and the other darker with a higher ash content according to SERNAGEOMIN. The highest plume that day reached 1,200 m above the summit crater. The Buenos Aires VAAC also reported a small pulse of ash on 14 February that rose to 4.6 km altitude and drifted SE. The dome continued to grow slowly during the rest of February, with a small increase in size noted during a 22 February flyover. Plumes of mostly water vapor with minor ash rose a maximum of 1,080 m above the summit during the hundreds of small explosions that took place.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. A substantial explosion on 2 February 2018 at Nevados de Chillán sent an ash plume 2,500 m above the summit and generated vibrations that were felt 10 km from the summit. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

Sporadic incandescence at night and continued explosions of magmatic gases were typical during March 2018, with plume heights reaching 2,000 m over the Nicanor crater. During an overflight on 11 March, a temperature of 330°C was measured around the Gil-Cruz dome, which had grown to a volume of about 100,000 m3 but still remained below the crater rim. Morphological changes in the still-slowly growing dome included fracture lines and unstable large vertical blocks. A significant decrease in seismic energy was noted beginning on 24 March that ended when two larger explosions occurred on 30 and 31 March (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. A substantial explosion on 31 March 2018 at Nevados de Chillán generated distinct ash and steam plumes (top) and sent several large blocks down the flanks (bottom). Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

During an overflight on 3 April 2018, scientists observed energetic pulses of steam and minor ash from the central NW-SE trending fissure inside the crater. They noted that lapilli from explosions had been ejected as far as 1 km from the fissure, and that the Gil-Cruz dome had increased in volume since 11 March; they also observed an area of subsidence on the top of the growing dome (figure 25). The dome was expanding toward the E side of the crater, and the top of the dome rose above the crater rim. They measured a maximum temperature of 670°C on the surface of the dome. The decrease in daily seismicity, the larger explosions of the previous days, and the increased size of the dome with greater risk of collapse, pyroclastic flows, and lahars, all led SERNAGEOMIN to raise the alert level at Chillan to Orange on 5 April 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. The growing lava dome at Nevados de Chillán, referred to as Gil-Cruz, had an active steam plume at the center when photographed by SERNAGEOMIN during an overflight on 3 April 2018. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

The Buenos Aires VAAC reported continuous emissions of steam and gas with minor ash along with a small pulse of ash on 2 April 2018. Low-altitude plumes of mostly water vapor were common throughout April 2018. Incandescence from explosions was visible on clear nights during the month, and ejecta rose as high as 250 m above the crater and was scattered around the crater rim. Seismicity remained constant at moderate levels related to the repeated explosions and the growth of the dome. A faint ash plume could be seen in visible satellite imagery on 18 April at 3.7 km altitude drifting E.

Observations reported on 1 May 2018 from the previous flyover indicated that the rate of growth of the dome had slowed to about 690 m3 per day, and the estimated volume had grown to about 150,000 m3. Activity remained at similar levels throughout May 2018. Seismic instruments recorded long-period seismicity and tremor episodes similar to previous months that corresponded with surface explosions and the extrusion of the lava dome. Seismic energy levels were moderate but fluctuated at times. Plumes of predominantly water vapor with minor gas rose a few hundred meters above the summit drifting generally S or SE before dissipating. Incandescence was often observed on clear nights, accompanied by ejection of incandescent blocks that were observed generally 100 to 150 m above the active crater. A larger explosive event took place on 7 May. Occasional plumes with minor ash were reported on 11 May. SERNAGEOMIN reported on 24 May 2018 that the top of the lava dome was visible from the E flank.

Geologic Background. The compound volcano of Nevados de Chillán is one of the most active of the Central Andes. Three late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcanoes were constructed along a NNW-SSE line within three nested Pleistocene calderas, which produced ignimbrite sheets extending more than 100 km into the Central Depression of Chile. The largest stratovolcano, dominantly andesitic, Cerro Blanco (Volcán Nevado), is located at the NW end of the group. Volcán Viejo (Volcán Chillán), which was the main active vent during the 17th-19th centuries, occupies the SE end. The new Volcán Nuevo lava-dome complex formed between 1906 and 1945 between the two volcanoes and grew to exceed Volcán Viejo in elevation. The Volcán Arrau dome complex was constructed SE of Volcán Nuevo between 1973 and 1986 and eventually exceeded its height.

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería, (SERNAGEOMIN), Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Avda Sta María No. 0104, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/); Oficina Nacional de Emergencia - Ministerio del Interior (ONEMI), Beaucheff 1637/1671, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.onemi.cl/); Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Servicio Meteorológico Nacional-Fuerza Aérea Argentina, 25 de mayo 658, Buenos Aires, Argentina (URL: http://www.smn.gov.ar/vaac/buenosaires/inicio.php); 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/).


Marapi (Indonesia) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Marapi

Indonesia

0.38°S, 100.474°E; summit elev. 2885 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Two explosions during April-May 2018 cause ashfall to the southeast

The Marapi volcano on Sumatra (not to be confused with the better known Merapi volcano on Java) previously erupted on 4 June 2017, generating dense ash-and-steam plumes that rose as high as 700 m above the crater and caused minor ashfall in a nearby district (BGVN 42:10). The volcano is monitored by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation or CVGHM).

On 27 April 2018, a phreatic explosion produced an ash plume that rose 300 m above the crater rim (figure 8); a thin ash deposit was reported in the Cubadak area (Tanah Datar Regency), about 12 km SE. Another explosion at 0703 on 2 May 2018 (figure 9) produced a voluminous dense gray ash plume that rose 4 km above the crater rim and drifted SE; seismic data recorded by PVMBG indicated that the event lasted just over 8 minutes (485 seconds).

The Alert Level has remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), where it has been since August 2011. Residents and visitors have been advised not to enter an area within 3 km of the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Ash plume from a phreatic explosion at Marapi on 27 April 2018. Courtesy of Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (BNPB).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. An explosion from Marapi on 2 May 2018 sent an ash plume to a height of 4 km. Courtesy of PVMBG.

Geologic Background. Gunung Marapi, not to be confused with the better-known Merapi volcano on Java, is Sumatra's most active volcano. This massive complex stratovolcano rises 2000 m above the Bukittinggi plain in the Padang Highlands. A broad summit contains multiple partially overlapping summit craters constructed within the small 1.4-km-wide Bancah caldera. The summit craters are located along an ENE-WSW line, with volcanism migrating to the west. More than 50 eruptions, typically consisting of small-to-moderate explosive activity, have been recorded since the end of the 18th century; no lava flows outside the summit craters have been reported in historical time.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38, East Jakarta 13120, Indonesia (URL: http://www.bnpb.go.id/).


Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal anomalies show that lava lake remains active through May 2018

As has been the case since at least 1971, the active lava lake in the summit crater of Nyiragongo was present during a tourist visit in June 2017, and seismicity was recorded in the crater in October 2017 (BGVN 42:11). Thermal data from satellite-based instruments shows that an open lava lake remained through 23 May 2018. MIROVA analysis of MODIS satellite thermal data (figure 64) shows nearly daily strong thermal anomalies. Similarly, MODVOLC alerts for the same time period shows a consistently frequent number of anomalies (figure 65).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. Thermal anomaly MIROVA plot of log radiative power at Nyiragongo for the year ending 23 May 2018. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. Map showing MODVOLC alert pixels at Nyiragongo, reflecting MODIS satellite thermal data, for the year ending 23 May 2018. Each pixel shows a thermal alert for a ground area of about 1.5 km2. Nyiragongo (many pixels) is in the center of the map, and Nyamuragira volcano (fewer pixels) is about 13 km to the NNW. Courtesy of HIGP - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

Geologic Background. One of Africa's most notable volcanoes, Nyiragongo contained a lava lake in its deep summit crater that was active for half a century before draining catastrophically through its outer flanks in 1977. In contrast to the low profile of its neighboring shield volcano, Nyamuragira, 3470-m-high Nyiragongo displays the steep slopes of a stratovolcano. 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: 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/).


Ebeko (Russia) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Ebeko

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash explosions remained frequent through May 2018, with plumes typically rising more than 1 km

The most recent eruption at Ebeko, a remote volcano in the Kuril Islands, began in October 2016 (BGVN 42:08) with explosive eruptions accompanied by ashfall. Frequent ash explosions were observed through November 2017 and the eruption remained ongoing at that time (BGVN 43:03). Activity consisting of explosive eruptions, ash plumes, and ashfalls continued during December 2017 through May 2018 (table 6). Eruptions were observed by residents in Severo-Kurilsk (about 7 km E), by volcanologists, and based on satellite imagery. The Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) is responsible for monitoring Ebeko, and is the primary source of information. The Aviation Color Code (ACC) remained at Orange throughout this reporting period. This color is the second highest level of the four color scale.

Table 6. Summary of activity at Ebeko volcano from December 2017 to May 2018. Aviation Color Code (ACC) is a 4-color scale. Data courtesy of KVERT

Date Plume Altitude Plume Distance Plume Direction Other observations
1-4 and 7 Dec 2017 2 km -- -- ACC at Orange. Ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilisk. Explosions on 2-4 and 7 Dec.
8, 9, 11 Dec 2017 2.3 km -- -- Explosions.
16, 18-19, and 21-22 Dec 2017 3.5 km 16 km SSW Explosions. Ash plume and weak thermal anomaly on 16 Dec.
25 Dec 2017 1.5 km -- -- Explosion.
01-05 Jan 2018 -- -- -- No activity noted.
08-10 Jan 2018 2.5 km -- -- Explosions.
11-12, 14-16, and 18 Jan 2018 3.1 km -- -- Explosion. Minor ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilsk on 15,16, and 18 Jan.
22-23 Jan 2018 2 km -- -- Explosions.
26-27 and 29-31 Jan 2018 2.5 km -- -- Explosions. Ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilsk on 29 Jan.
05-08 Feb 2018 2.4 km -- -- Explosions. Ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilisk on 8 Feb.
09-10 and 14 Feb 2018 2.2 km -- -- Explosions.
17-18 and 20-21 Feb 2018 2.4 km -- -- Explosions. Ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilisk on 17-18 Feb.
23-25 and 27-28 Feb 2018 3.3 km -- -- Explosions.
06 Mar 2018 1.7 km -- -- Explosions.
12-13 Mar 2018 2.7 km -- -- Explosions.
18 and 21-22 Mar 2018 1.8 km -- -- Explosions. Ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilisk on 17 and 21 Mar.
23-25 and 28-29 Mar 2018 2.3 km -- -- Explosions.
31 Mar-06 Apr 2018 2.7 km -- -- Explosions.
07 and 11-12 Apr 2018 1.8 km -- -- Explosions. Ashfall reported in Severo-Kurilisk on 6 Apr.
15 and 17-19 Apr 2018 2.6 km -- -- Explosions.
21 and 25 Apr 2018 2.5 km -- -- Explosions.
01-03 May 2018 2.8 km -- -- Explosions.
04 and 06-10 May 2018 2.4 km -- -- Explosions.
12-14 May 2018 2.8 km 21 km SW Explosions. Ash plume drifted SW on 13 May.

Minor ash explosions were reported throughout the period from December 2017 through May 2018 (figure 17). Minor amounts of ash fell in Severo-Kurilisk at the end of 2017 and into 2018. Ash was reported on 2-4, and 7 December 2017; 15, 16, 18, and 29 January 2018; 8, 17, and18 February; 17 and 21 March; and 6 April. Ash plume altitudes during this reporting period ranged from 1.5 to 3.5 km (table 6); the summit is at 1.1 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Explosions from Ebeko sent ash up to an altitude of 1.5 km, or about 400 m above the summit, on 6 February 2018. Courtesy of T. Kotenko (IVS FEB RAS).

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

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


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — June 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Langila

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Gradual decline in activity after July 2017, but continuing through May 2018

Langila, one of the most active volcanoes of New Britain (figure 7), has been intermittently ejecting ash since April 2016 (BGVN 42:09). Volcanic ash warnings continue to be issued by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC). Recent ash plume altitudes (table 5) are in the range of 1.5-2.5 km, but several in mid-April to mid-May 2018 reached up to twice that level. Thermal anomaly data acquired by satellite-based MODIS instruments showed a gradual decrease in power level and occurrence through mid- to late-2017, followed by significantly fewer alerts and anomalies in the first half of 2018. Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) data indicates the activity during 2017 was primarily located in Crater 2 (northern-most crater).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Satellite imagery showing Langila volcano at the far NW end of New Britain island. The brown color of recent lava flows and other volcanic deposits are easily noticeable compared to green vegetated areas. The volcano is about 9 km due south of the community labeled Poini. Imagery in this view is from sources listed on the image; courtesy of Google Earth.

Table 5. Reported data by Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) on ash plume altitude and drift from Langila based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind model data between 21 June 2017 and 28 May 2018.

Dates Ash Plume Altitude (km) Ash Plume Drift Other Observations
07 Aug 2017 2.1 55 km NW --
09 Aug 2017 1.8 N --
16 Aug 2017 2.1 NW --
01-02 Sep 2017 1.8 N, NW --
07-08, 10-12 Sep 2017 1.8-2.4 NNW, NW, SW --
22-23 Sep 2017 2.1 NNW --
04 Oct 2017 1.8 N Minor ash emission
11, 15-16 Oct 2017 1.8-2.1 NE, NNW, NW --
17-18, 20 Oct 2017 1.5-1.8 NE, NNW, NW --
05 Nov 2017 3.7 SE, ESE --
15-16 Nov 2017 1.8-2.7 S, SW --
15 Apr 2018 3.7 S --
24 Apr 2018 4 SW Ash dissipated in 6 hours
13 May 2018 5.5 W At 0709; ash dissipated in 6 hours
17-18, 21-22 May 2018 2.1-2.4 WSW, W, WNW --
23, 26-28 May 2018 2.4-3 WSW, W, NW --

MIROVA analysis of thermal anomalies measured by MODIS satellite sensors show a gradual decline of radiative power from early June 2017 to the end of the year (figure 8). Sporadic low-power anomalies occurred in January, April, and May 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Thermal anomalies from MODIS data analyzed by MIROVA, plotted as log radiative power vs time for the year ending 6 June 2018. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Thermal alerts from MODVOLC analyses were concentrated between early June 2017 and late September 2017 (figure 9), with only one pixel being measured in 2018 through early June, that alert being on 5 January 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Map showing thermal anomalies from MODIS data analyzed by MODVOLC for the year ending 6 June 2018. Courtesy of HIGP - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

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

Information Contacts: Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); 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.


Pacaya (Guatemala) — May 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Pyroclastic cone fills MacKenney crater; lava flows emerge from fissures around the crater rim

Extensive lava flows, bomb-laden Strombolian explosions, and ash plumes emerging from MacKenney crater have characterized persistent activity at Pacaya since 1961. The latest eruptive episode began with intermittent ash plumes and incandescence in June 2015; the growth of a new pyroclastic cone inside the summit crater was confirmed in mid-December 2015. Strombolian activity from the cone continued during 2016 and it grew sporadically through September 2017 (BGVN 42:12). Lava flows first emerged from fissures around the summit during January-April 2017. Explosions from the cone summit caused growth and destruction of the top of the cone; by the end of September it was about 10 m above the elevation of the crater rim. This report describes the continued growth of the pyroclastic cone and the increasing emergence of lava flows around the summit during October 2017-March 2018. Information was provided primarily by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH) and satellite thermal data.

Thermal activity was relatively quiet at Pacaya during October and November 2017. The pyroclastic cone inside MacKenney crater continued to grow as material from Strombolian explosions sent ejecta a few tens of meters above the cone and onto its flanks, slowly filling the area within the crater. In late November, small lava flows began to emerge from the crater. Material flowed from the 2010 fissure on the NW side of the crater, and also appeared from new lateral fissures on the W and SW flanks. Multiple small short-lived lava flows traveled a few hundred meters down the flanks with increasing frequency during January through March 2018. Strombolian activity from the summit of the cone occasionally reached over 100 m; by the end of March, the summit of the cone remained about 25 m above the crater rim, and much of the crater was filled with ejecta (figure 84).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. A satellite image of Pacaya dated 7 March 2018 shows MacKenney crater at the summit nearly full of ejecta from the growing pyroclastic cone, and at least two small steam plumes on the SW flank from fissures that show dark traces of recent fresh lava. Courtesy of DigitalGlobe and Google Earth.

Activity during October-December 2017. Activity during October 2017 consisted primarily of degassing with small plumes of steam and gas rising 100 m above the summit, and weak Strombolian explosions. . By the end of the month, the cone inside MacKenney crater rose about 10 m above the crater rim. At night, incandescent ejecta could be seen 25-100 m above the summit of the cone. During the last week of October strong winds dispersed the plumes SW and SE, and ashfall was reported 2 km from the crater in El Rodeo.

Steam and gas plumes generally rose no more than 25 m above the summit for the first 20 days of November 2017. Beginning on 21 November, more substantial steam and gas plumes, rising 500 m, were observed in the webcam (figure 85). An increase in tremor activity on 28 November coincided with an increase in explosive activity, a gray ash plume, and the appearance of a small lava flow on the NW flank that extended about 30 m. By the end of the month the cone had reached about 25 m above the rim of MacKenney crater and continued to grow from the accumulation of tephra fragments ranging in size from one millimeter to 50 cm that were ejected 25-100 m above the summit (figure 86). Explosions could be heard up to 1 km from the cone.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A steam plumes rises about 500 m above the summit of Pacaya on 21 November 2017. Courtesy of Michigan Technological University and INSIVUMEH (Departamento de Investigación y servicios Geofísicos, Informe mensual de la actividad volcánica, novembre 2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. The pyroclastic cone at Pacaya had nearly filled MacKenney Crater by 17 November 2017 (upper photo). An explosion from the summit of the cone with ash and ejecta was captured by the thermal camera on 17 November (lower image). Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Departamento de Investigación y servicios Geofísicos, Informe mensual de la actividad volcánica, novembre 2017).

Strombolian explosions rising to 25 m continued in early December. On 10 December 2017, INSIVUMEH noted that there were two lava flows, one flowing on the SE flank with a length of 50-75 m and a second flowing NW towards Cerro Chino for 75-100 m. Strombolian explosions were reported 100 m above the summit of the cone on 15 December, and 25-50 m high on 25 December. The flow on the NW flank was about 100 m long on 26 December.

Activity during January-March 2018. Weak Strombolian activity continued from the cone during January 2018 with ejecta reaching 50 m above the summit. Small lava flows on the NW flank, generally only a few tens of meters long, were visible as incandescence at night (figure 87). While the height of the cone inside MacKenney crater remained about 25 m above the crater rim, material from the continuing low-level explosions had filled a large area of the crater by the end of the month. Blocks up to 1 m in diameter were also dislodged by the tremors and flow activity on the SW flank of MacKenney crater (figure 88). An increase in explosive activity beginning on 20 January resulted in audible explosions heard 2 km from the cone and fine ash deposited on the flanks. A new, larger flow also emerged from the crater early on 20 January and descended about 400 m down the SW flank, with material spalling off the front as it cooled. The following day, low-level Strombolian activity continued, and the flow remained active 200 m down the SW flank. During the last few days of January, the flow rate decreased, and the active flow was only 25 m long (figure 89).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Incandescence from the summit of Pacaya on 8 January 2018, viewed from the SW flank, was caused by Strombolian activity and lava flows. Photo by Instagram user @cesiasocoy, courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Departamento de Investigación y servicios Geofísicos, Informe mensual de la actividad volcánica, enero 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Low-level Strombolian activity sent ejecta up to 50 m above the summit of the cone at MacKenney crater on Pacaya during most of January 2018. The top of the cone inside the crater was just visible above the crater rim at the summit in this view from the NW flank taken on 17 January 2018. White blocks at the base of the SW slope on the right of the image are recently dislodged, 1-m-diameter blocks. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Departamento de Investigación y servicios Geofísicos, Informe mensual de la actividad volcánica, enero 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Lava flows on the SW flank of Pacaya on 25 January 2018, photographed by Instagram user @Carolinegod1. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Departamento de Investigación y servicios Geofísicos, Informe mensual de la actividad volcánica, enero 2018).

Low-level steam and occasional gas plumes rising up to 300 m above the summit were typical during February 2018 (figure 90). In addition, intermittent lava flows continued to travel tens to a few hundred meters down the S, SW, and W flanks. A 25-m-long flow was observed on the SW flank on 2 February. On 8 February, a 150-m-long flow was noted, also on the SW flank. INSIVUMEH reported a 300-m-long lava flow from the NW area of crater on 9 February in the region of the 2010 fissure; it traveled NW towards Cerro Chino crater. A flow 75-100 m long was observed on the SW flank on 10 February; the next day 150-m-long flows were visible on both the SW and W flanks. Flows on both flanks were 100 m long on 12 February. A 30-m-long flow appeared on the SW flank on 13 February. The flow on the NW flank that began on 9 February was 20-m-wide and only 50 m long during the afternoon of 14 February. A flow was also visible on 14 February extending 250 m down the SW flank (figure 91).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. A vigorous steam plume rose 300 m from the summit of the pyroclastic cone inside MacKenney crater at Pacaya during February 2018. The top of the cone was just visible above the crater rim in this view from the NW. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Departamento de Investigación y servicios Geofísicos, Informe mensual de la actividad volcánica, febrero 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Steaming lava flowed on the SW flank of Pacaya on 14 February 2018 and dislodged loose debris on the slope. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Departamento de Investigación y servicios Geofísicos, Informe mensual de la actividad volcánica, febrero 2018).

Multiple lava flows on the SW flank ranged from 50-200 m long during 15-20 February. A flow on the W flank grew from 25 to 150 m during 17-23 February (figure 92). A flow reached 500 m down the SW flank on 25 February and after flow-front collapses was still 300 m long by the end of the month. A new surge of lava on 27 February emerged from the fissure on the NW flank of MacKenney crater and traveled 150 m towards Cerro Chino crater. Explosive activity remained constant; weak explosions, generally 3-5 times per hour, scattered ejecta on the flanks of the cone and created incandescence at night that often reached 15-35 m above the cone. The explosions also generated weak avalanches that sent material up to 1 m in diameter down the S and SW flanks to an area frequented by park visitors. Explosions were sometimes heard up to 3 km from the crater. Strombolian explosions increased in height towards the end of the month; they were reported at 150 m above the summit on 26 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. A lava flow emerged from a fissure on the W flank of Pacaya on 18 February 2018 and was imaged with a thermal camera as it traveled 150 m down the flank. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Departamento de Investigación y servicios Geofísicos, Informe mensual de la actividad volcánica, febrero 2018).

Strombolian activity and persistent lava flows throughout March 2018 resulted in continued growth of the pyroclastic cone within the MacKenney crater. Low-level steam and gas plumes generally rose a few tens of meters above the summit; occasional plumes rose as high as 500 m. Small lateral fissures near the crater rim produced repeated small lava flows that generally flowed less than 250 m SW and W. Weak explosions averaging 3-5 per hour sent ejecta 10-50 m above the pyroclastic cone.

During the first week of March, flows on the SW flank were active as far as 500 m down the flank. A flow on 4 March was 65 m long, and one on 5 March ranged from 50-200 m long (figure 93). During the second week, two flows were active to 300 m down the W flank, and two others on the SW flank were 150-200 m long. A flow was reported 200 m down the E flank on 16 March. Multiple lava flows were visible during 17-23 March; one traveled 250 m down the SW flank, two others went 150 m down the W flank and remained active through the end of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. Landsat satellite imagery from 5 March 2018 shows a thermal anomaly from a SW-directed lava flow at Pacaya, about 250 m long. Landsat 8 image processed by Rudiger Escobar (Michigan Technological University), courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Departamento de Investigación y servicios Geofísicos, Informe mensual de la actividad volcánica, marzo 2018).

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

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


Reventador (Ecuador) — May 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Reventador

Ecuador

0.077°S, 77.656°W; summit elev. 3562 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Near-daily explosions produce 1-km-high ash plumes and incandescent blocks on all flanks, October 2017-March 2018.

Historical records of eruptions at Ecuador's Volcán El Reventador date back to 1541 and include numerous lava flows and explosive events (figure 74). The largest historical eruption took place in November 2002 and generated a 17-km-high eruption cloud, pyroclastic flows that traveled 8 km, and several lava flows. Eruptive activity has been continuous since 2008. Persistent ash emissions and incandescent block avalanches characterized activity during January-September 2017 with large pyroclastic and lava flows during June and August (BGVN 43:01). Explosions that produced ash plumes and incandescent blocks continued throughout October 2017-March 2018. Information is provided primarily by the Instituto Geofisico-Escuela Politecnicia Nacional (IG-EPN) of Ecuador, the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and also from satellite-based MODIS infrared data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Aerial image of Reventador's inner caldera with its pyroclastic cone emitting a plume of steam and ash. View is looking to the W. Photograph taken during 1-7 December 2017, copyright by Martin Rietze and used with permission.

Persistent, near-daily ash emissions were typical for Reventador during October 2017-March 2018 (figure 75). In general, the plumes drifted W and NW over sparsely populated nearby areas, but occasional wind-direction changes resulted in ashfall in larger communities within 30 km to the S and SW. The plume heights were commonly 1,000 m above the summit, with the highest plume rising 5 km (to 8.5 km altitude) in October. Most days that the summit and slopes were not obscured by weather clouds, there were observations of incandescent blocks falling at least 300-500 m down the flanks. Larger explosions generated Strombolian fountains and incandescent blocks that traveled 800 m down the flanks every week, even farther on occasion (figure 76). Heavy rains caused one lahar in late November; no damage was reported. Small pyroclastic flows on the flanks were observed once or twice each month (figure 77). The lava flows of June and August 2017 continued to cool on the flanks (figure 78). Thermal activity was somewhat higher during October 2017 with 19 MODVOLC thermal alerts issued, but it remained constant throughout the rest of the period with 8-11 alerts each month. The MIROVA radiative power data showed a similar pattern of moderate, ongoing activity during this time.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. A dense ash plume rose from Reventador during the first week of December 2017, viewed from a shelter 3.5 km E of the summit. Photograph taken during 1-7 December 2017, copyright by Martin Rietze and used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Incandescent blocks rolled hundreds of meters down the flanks of Reventador during the first week of December 2017. Photograph taken during 1-7 December 2017, copyright by Martin Rietze and used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. A small pyroclastic flow traveled down the flank of Reventador during the first week of December 2017 while an ash plume rose about 1 km above the summit. Photograph taken during 1-7 December 2017, copyright by Martin Rietze and used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. The lava flows from June and August 2017 were still cooling on the flanks of Reventador during the first week of December 2017. Photograph taken during 1-7 December 2017, copyright by Martin Rietze and used with permission.

Activity during October-December 2017. The Washington VAAC issued ash advisories every day but one during October 2017. IGEPN reported near-daily emissions of ash, with plumes rising over 1,000 m many days of the month and rising to 500-800 m the other days. Plume drift directions were generally W or NW. Incandescence at the summit crater was visible on most nights, and incandescent block avalanches were seen rolling 400-800 m down the flanks during 15 nights of the month. Explosive activity intensified for several days near the end of the month (figure 79). A possible pyroclastic flow traveled down the SE flank in the morning of 24 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Strombolian explosions from two vents at the summit and incandescence on the SE flank of Reventador were captured on 24 October 2017 by B. Bernard. Photo taken from the Hosteria Reventador, 7.2 km SE from the summit. Courtesy of IGEPN (Informe Especial del Volcán El Reventador – 2017 – No. 5, Actualización de la actividad del volcán, 30 de octubre del 2017).

IGEPN scientists in the field during 23-25 October 2017 noted a high level of explosive activity with loud noises and vibrations felt in the vicinity of Hostería Reventador, about 7.2 km SE of the volcano. Thermal imaging data gathered during their trip indicated that the maximum temperatures of the explosions were over 500°C and that the lava flows of June and August were much cooler with temperatures ranging between 100 and 150°C (figure 80). A dense ash plume rose to more than 2,800 m above the summit and drifted N and E on 25 October (figure 81).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Thermal imaging at Reventador on 24 October 2017 indicated that the temperatures of explosions were over 500°C, and that the lava flows of June and August 2017 were much cooler, around 100-150°C. Image taken by M. Almeida from the Hosteria Reventador, 7.2 km SE from the summit. Courtesy of IGEPN (Informe Especial del Volcán El Reventador – 2017 – No. 5, Actualización de la actividad del volcán, 30 de octubre del 2017).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. A dense ash plume rose at least 2,800 m above the summit of Reventador on 25 October 2017 and drifted NE. Photo by B Bernard, courtesy of IGEPN (Informe Especial del Volcán El Reventador – 2017 – No. 5, Actualización de la actividad del volcán, 30 de octubre del 2017).

The Washington VAAC reported numerous ash emissions during 24-26 October 2017 at altitudes of 5.8-6.1 km, drifting N and NE from the summit about 35 km. IGEPN reported continuing ash emissions beginning on 27 October that lasted for several days, including observations that day of a plume that rose to 4,900 m above the summit. The Washington VAAC reported the plume at 8.5 km altitude, the highest for the period of this report. During the last few days of October, the wind changed to the S, resulting in reports of moderate ashfall in Napo province in the towns of San Luis, San Carlos (9 km S), El Salado (14 km S), El Chaco (33 km SW), and Gonzalo Díaz de Pineda (El Bombón, 26 km SW).

Persistent ash emissions continued during November 2017 along with observations of incandescence at the summit crater. Plumes of steam, gas, and ash were reported over 600 m above the summit throughout the month; the Washington VAAC issued multiple daily aviation alerts with plume heights averaging 4.3-4.9 km altitude, usually drifting W. Higher altitude plumes over 6.0 km were reported a few times with the highest during 11-12 November rising to 6.7 km. There were reports in the morning of 1 November of ashfall in Borja and San Louis (SE) and on 4 November of minor ashfall in the communities adjacent to the volcano. Incandescent blocks were seen rolling 300 m down the flanks during 7-9 November. Heavy rains on 20 November resulted in a lahar on the E flank. During 22-27 November blocks rolled as far as 800 m down all the flanks, with many on the S and SE flanks (figure 82).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. Steam, gas, and ash plumes, and incandescent blocks rolling down the flanks were common occurrences at Reventador throughout November 2017. Top: An ash and steam plume on 22 November 2017 rose over 600 m and drifted W. Bottom: Incandescent blocks rolled as far as 800 m down the flanks on 23 November 2017, mostly on the S and SE flanks. Courtesy of IGEPN webcam (Informe Diario del Estado del Volcán Reventador Nos. 2017-326, and 2017-327).

Although multiple daily aviation alerts continued throughout December 2017 from the Washington VAAC, weather clouds often prevented satellite observations of the ash plumes. When visible, plume heights were generally 4-5 km altitude, drifting W or NW; the highest plume on 17 December reached 5.5 km and drifted WNW before dissipating. IGEPN noted incandescence at the summit on almost all nights it was visible; incandescent blocks traveled as far as 900 m down all the flanks on 11 December, and 400-800 m most nights. They also reported ash plumes rising more than 600 m above the summit 24 days of the month. A video of typical activity at Reventador was taken by Martin Rietze during 1-7 December 2017, along with numerous excellent photographs (figures 83-85).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Strombolian explosions at Reventador during the first week of December 2017 sent showers of incandescent debris skyward (upper photo) before sending larger incandescent blocks hundreds of meters down the flanks of the cone (lower photo) while a dense ash plume rose from the summit area. Photographs taken during 1-7 December 2017, copyright by Martin Rietze and used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Lightning strikes were photographed within the dense ash plumes that rose from the summit of Reventador during the first week of December 2017. Photograph copyright by Martin Rietze and used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. Explosions at Reventador during the first week of December 2017 produced dense ash plumes and small pyroclastic flows down multiple flanks. The flanks were bare at the beginning of the ash emission event (upper photo) but small pyroclastic flows can be seen descending the flanks a few moments later (lower photo). Photograph taken during 1-7 December 2017, copyright by Martin Rietze and used with permission.

Activity during January-March 2018. Except for several cloudy days during the third week of January 2018 when no observations were possible, IGEPN reported recurring emissions of steam, gas, and ash rising over 600 m and drifting mostly W or NW throughout the month. During 11-12 January ash plumes briefly drifted E. Incandescent block avalanches were reported most often traveling 200-400 m down the S and SE flanks; a few times they travelled up to 800 m down all the flanks. Other than the cloudy days of 20-24 January, the Washington VAAC issued multiple daily aviation alerts. When ash plumes were visible in satellite imagery, plume altitudes ranged from 4.3-4.9 km, except for 30-31 January when they were reported at 5.2 km (figure 86).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Ash plumes and incandescent blocks were reported numerous times at Reventador during January 2018. Top left: Steam, gas, and ash were reported rising over 600 m and drifting NW and E on 2 January. Top right: on 3 January, the drift directions of the steam, gas, and ash plumes were W and NE. Lower left: Incandescent blocks were reported travelling 800 m down all the flanks on 12 January. Lower right: Ash plumes on 30 January were reported by the Washington VAAC at 5.2 km altitude, the highest during the month; they drifted N and W. Courtesy of IGEPN (Informe Diario del Estado del Volcán Reventador, Nos. 2018-2, 2018-3, 2018-12, and 2018-30).

Multiple daily aviation alerts continued from the Washington VAAC throughout February 2018. While daily plume heights mostly averaged 4.3-4.9 km altitude, there were a greater number of higher-altitude ash plumes than during recent months. A plume on 5 February was reported at 6.1 km drifting 15 km N and a plume the following day drifted 30 km ENE at 7.6 km altitude. A plume on 16 February rose to 5.5 km and drifted 55 km NW; one on 22 February rose to 7.0 km and drifted almost 100 km SE before dissipating. The next day, a plume rose to 5.5 km and drifted 35 km SE. Two separate plumes were observed in satellite imagery drifting NE on 25 February, the first rose to 5.5 km and drifted 110 km and the second rose to 6.4 km and drifted 45 km before dissipating. IGEPN reported a plume of steam, gas, and ash on 27 February that rose over 1,000 m above the summit and drifted NE. Although IGEPN only reported incandescent avalanche blocks on 11 days in February, more likely occurred because the view was obscured by weather clouds for 14 days of the month.

Minor ashfall in the vicinity of the volcano was reported by IGEPN on 1 March 2018. They also noted steam and gas plumes containing moderate amounts of ash that rose over 2,000 m above the summit and drifted SW and S that day (figure 87). IGEPN reported ash emissions around 600 m or higher above the summit on 21 days during the month. In addition to persistent incandescent activity at the summit, avalanche blocks rolled down all the flanks 800 m numerous times. A pyroclastic flow was reported 400 m down the S flank on 13 March (figure 88). Incandescent blocks rolled 1,000 m down all the flanks on 22 March. Other than a plume reported in satellite imagery at 5.8 km moving E on 26 March, all of the ash plumes reported by the Washington VAAC during March ranged from 3.9-4.9 km altitude and generally drifted NW or W.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. A plume of steam, gas, and ash rose from Reventador on 1 March 2018; IGEPN reported it as rising over 2,000 m above the summit and drifting SW and S. A small pyroclastic flow also appeared to descend the flank. Courtesy of IGEPN (Informe Diario del Estado del Volcán Reventador, No. 2018-60).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Continued explosions at Reventador during March 2018 produced abundant incandescent avalanche blocks, ash plumes, and a few pyroclastic flows. Top: Abundant incandescent blocks rolled 800 m down all the flanks on 6 March 2018. Bottom: An ash plume rose over 600 m above the summit and drifted NW while a pyroclastic flow traveled 400 m down the S flank on 13 March 2018. Courtesy of IGEPN (Informe Diario del Estado del Volcán Reventador, Nos. 2018-65 and 2018-72).

Geologic Background. Reventador is the most frequently active of a chain of Ecuadorian volcanoes in the Cordillera Real, well east of the principal volcanic axis. The forested, dominantly andesitic Volcán El Reventador stratovolcano rises to 3562 m above the jungles of the western Amazon basin. A 4-km-wide caldera widely breached to the east was formed by edifice collapse and is partially filled by a young, unvegetated stratovolcano that rises about 1300 m above the caldera floor to a height comparable to the caldera rim. It has been the source of numerous lava flows as well as explosive eruptions that were visible from Quito in historical time. Frequent lahars in this region of heavy rainfall have constructed a debris plain on the eastern floor of the caldera. The largest historical eruption took place in 2002, producing a 17-km-high eruption column, pyroclastic flows that traveled up to 8 km, and lava flows from summit and flank vents.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IGEPN), Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Martin Rietze (URL: http://mrietze.com/web16/Ecuador17.htm).


Santa Maria (Guatemala) — May 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Santa Maria

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Daily explosions with minor ash and block avalanches at Caliente, November 2017-April 2018

The dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex on the W flank of Guatemala's Santa María volcano has been growing since 1922. The youngest of the four vents in the complex, Caliente, has been actively erupting with ash explosions, pyroclastic, and lava flows for more than 40 years. During January-October 2017 (BGVN 42:12), daily weak ash emissions sent ash plumes to altitudes around 3.3 km, and ashfall was frequent in villages and farms within 12 km S and SW. The lava dome that appeared within the summit crater of Caliente in October 2016 continued to grow, increasing the frequency of block avalanches moving down the flanks. Several lahars affected the major drainages during May-October. Guatemala's INSIVUMEH (Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meterologia e Hidrologia) and the Washington VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center) provided regular updates on the continuing activity during the time period of this report from November 2017-April 2018.

Activity at Santa Maria was very consistent with little variation during November 2017-April 2018. Plumes of steam with minor magmatic gases rose continuously from the Caliente crater 300-500 m above the summit, drifting SW or SE before dissipating. In addition, tens of daily explosions with varying amounts of ash rose to altitudes of around 3.5-4.0 km and usually traveled short distances of 20-30 km before dissipating. The longest-lived plume, on 22 March 2018 drifted 100 km before dispersing. Almost all of the plumes drifted SW or SE; minor ashfall occurred in the mountains and was reported at the fincas up to 15 km away in those directions several times each month. Continued growth of the lava dome at Caliente resulted in block avalanches descending its flanks every day. The MIROVA plot of thermal energy during this time shows a consistent level of heat flow with minor variations. The spike of strongest heat flow in late March 2018 corresponds with the largest ash plume reported (figure 70) for the period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. MIROVA plot of thermal energy from Santa Maria for the year ending 12 July 2018 shows persistent low levels of heat flow. The spike at the end of March 2018 corresponds to the largest reported ash plume for the period. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during November 2017-January 2018. During November 2017, persistent steam plumes rose 100-500 m above the summit crater at Caliente, and generally drifted SE. Tens of weak explosions daily created ash plumes that rose to about 3.2 km altitude and drifted usually SE. These resulted in ashfall reported near Finca San José on 9, 26, and 28 November, and in the mountains around Finca la Florida on 27 November. The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission seen in satellite imagery on 18 November drifting S about 15 km from the summit at 4.3 km altitude. Block avalanches were reported daily, they usually extended down the SE flank, occasionally making it to the base of the dome.

Characteristic steam plumes rising 100-500 m continued daily throughout December 2017. Numerous daily weak to moderate explosions generated ash plumes that rose to around 3.0-3.3 km altitude and drifted most often to the SW. Weak to moderate, and occasionally strong block avalanches descended the SE flank of the dome most days.

The Caliente dome maintained constant degassing with mostly steam plumes and occasional magmatic gas throughout January 2018 (figure 71). The plumes rose 50-300 m above the dome; most plumes came from the crater, but a few rose from fissures on the flanks. Explosions with ash plumes rose to 2.8-3.5 km altitude and generally drifted W or SW (figure 72). The seismic station registered 15-21 weak to moderate explosions per day. Ash generally drifted to the E or SE and caused ashfall in the regions around the fincas of San José, Patzulin, La Quina and others. Finca San José reported ashfall in the vicinity on 6, 7, and 9 January, and El Faro noted nearby ashfall on 9 January. A small plume with minor ash content was noted in satellite imagery by the Washington VAAC on 10 January drifting E at 4.3 km altitude. Ash emissions extended about 35 km SW before dissipating on 12 January, also at 4.3 km. Weak and moderate-size block avalanches occurred daily with blocks generally descending the SE or E flank of the dome.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. A typical plume of steam and magmatic gas rose from the Caliente vent at Santa Maria on 8 January 2018. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe mensual de actividad volcánica enero 2018, Volcán Santiaguito, 1402-03).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. An explosion at the Caliente dome of Santa Maria on 7 January 2018 sent ash a few hundred meters above the summit crater. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Informe mensual de actividad volcánica enero 2018, Volcán Santiaguito, 1402-03).

Activity during February-April 2018. Plumes of steam and gas continued rising daily to a few hundred meters above Caliente during February 2018. Weak and moderate explosions with steam and ash rose to 2.6-3.2 km altitude and drifted variably S, SE, W, or SW during the month (figure 73). Explosions averaged about 14 per day. Ashfall was reported in the fincas to the E and SE during the first week, including at Finca San José on 5 February, and la Florida on 10 February; they occurred in the mountainous areas W and SW during the rest of the month. Ashfall was also reported around the perimeter of the volcano several times during the last week of the month. The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume at 4.6 km altitude on 12 February drifting rapidly W, and a thin veil of gas and minor ash on 28 February extending about 15 km SW from the summit at 4.3 km altitude. Observations of repeated block avalanches down the SE flank throughout the month concurred with thermal measurements on 28 February that showed the hottest areas of the dome at the summit and on the SE flank (figure 74).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. An explosion of steam and ash rose from Caliente at Santa Maria on 18 February 2018. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito (1402-03), Semana del 17 al 23 de febrero de 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Material inside the summit crater of Caliente at Santa Maria measured about 140°C on 28 February 2018, and showed the warmest region on the SE flank where most of the block avalanches occurred. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo:, Volcán Santiaguito (1402-03), Semana del 24 de febrero al 02 de marzo de 2018).

Block avalanches down the SE and S flanks of Caliente from the growing summit dome persisted at weak to moderate levels throughout March 2018 (figure 75). Ten to twenty daily ash-bearing explosions usually rose to about 3.2 km altitude and drifted SW or SE causing ashfall around the perimeter. Ashfall was reported in the mountains around Finca San José on 4-6, 9, 20, and 23 March, and in the Palajunoj area on 11 March. Steam plumes rising from the summit of Caliente to 2.9-3.1 km altitude drifting SE or SW were a daily feature of activity (figure 76). The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume on 5 March that rose to 4.6 km altitude and drifted SW before dissipating within 15 km of the summit. On 21 March, an emission was observed in satellite imagery that extended about 35 km SW from the summit at 4.6 km altitude. Another ash plume the following day also rose to 4.6 km altitude and extended almost 100 km SW before dissipating. That same day, 22 March, MODVOLC issued four thermal alerts for Santiaguito, and the MIROVA system showed a spike in thermal activity as well (figure 70).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Block avalanches descended the SE flank of Caliente at Santa Maria on 6 March 2018. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo:, Volcán Santiaguito (1402-03), Semana del 03 al 09 de marzo de 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. A typical steam plume rose from Caliente summit during the last week of March 2018. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito (1402-03), Semana del 17 al 23 de marzo de 2018).

Multiple daily explosions with ash rose up to 3.2 km altitude during April 2018. The plumes drifted SW or SE, spreading fine-grained ash over the nearby hills. Finca San José reported ashfall on 2 April and the Palajunoj area reported ashfall on 10, 13, 15, and 17 April. Abundant degassing of mostly steam plumes at the Caliente crater continued throughout the month, as did the constant descent of block avalanches down the SE flank.

Geologic Background. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The 3772-m-high stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that is cut on the SW flank by a large, 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four westward-younging vents, the most recent of which is Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/ ); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); 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/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html).


Sheveluch (Russia) — May 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Sheveluch

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent thermal anomalies along with gas and steam emissions continue through April 2018

An eruption at Sheveluch has been ongoing since 1999, and volcanic activity was previously described through January 2018 (BGVN 43:02). Ongoing activity has consisted of pyroclastic flows, explosions, and lava dome growth with a viscous lava flow in the N. According to the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT), moderate emissions of gas-and-steam have continued, and ash explosions up to 10-15 km in altitude could occur at any time. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale) throughout this reporting period from February through April 2018.

KVERT reported continuous moderate gas-and-steam plumes from Sheveluch during February-April 2018 (figure 49). Satellite imagery interpreted by KVERT showed a thermal anomaly over the volcano on 13 days during February, 21 days in March, and 15 days in April. Cloud cover obscured satellite imagery the remainder of the time during this reporting period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Photo of the lava dome at Sheveluch on 25 March 2018. Courtesy of Yu. Demyanchuk (IVS FEB RAS, KVERT).

The MIROVA system detected intermittent low-power thermal anomalies from February through April 2018. Thermal anomalies, based on MODIS satellite instruments analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm, were not detected during this period.

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


Kikai (Japan) — May 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Kikai

Japan

30.793°N, 130.305°E; summit elev. 704 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Elevated thermal activity during February-April 2018; one earthquake swarm in March

Heightened activity at Kikai (also known as Satsuma Iwojima) was reported during January 2013-July 2014 (BGVN 3907), which included one eruption with intermittent explosions, occasional ash and steam plumes, and sporadic weak seismic tremor. Subsequently, seismicity remained at background levels, and plume activity was low. A short-lived period of heightened activity occurred in March 2018, with increased daily plume heights, sulfur dioxide output, and seismicity. Activity returned to background levels by 26 April. This report is based on information supplied by the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA).

JMA reported that one small-amplitude short-duration volcanic tremor was detected on 16 March 2018. The number of volcanic earthquakes increased on 19 March, with 93 occurrences, prompting JMA to raise the Alert Level from 1 (active volcano) to 2 (restricted area around the crater), on a 5-level scale. The report noted increased thermal activity since February, with occasional visual observations of incandescence. Plume heights and volcanic earthquakes briefly increased during 22-23 March (figure 8, plot 4).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Plots showing multi-year records of measured plume heights (1 and 4) and volcanic earthquakes (2 and 5) during January 1998-April 2018 from Kikai. Explosive events are indicated by the small volcano icons along the top of plot 1. Plot 3 indicates measured sulfur dioxide in tons/day since 2012. The orange diamonds on plot 4 indicate observations of incandescence. Plume heights are measured in meters above the crater. This record is from a seismic station located less than 1 km from the summit. Courtesy of Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

The number of volcanic earthquakes was low during 27 March-2 April. A white plume at the Iwo-dake summit crater rose to 1,800 m above the crater rim in late March (figure 8, plot 4), the highest seen in many years. At the same crater a highly sensitive surveillance camera revealed incandescence at night on 27 and 28 March due to increased thermal activity. No incandescence was observed after 12 April (figure 8, plot 4).

In its report for 20-26 April, JMA noted a white plume at the Iwo-dake summit crater that rose to 700 m above the rim. A field survey conducted on 25 and 26 April confirmed the slight expansion of a thermal anomaly area when compared to 24 and 25 March, but the release amount of sulfur dioxide was slightly less than 300 tons per day (compared with 600 tons on March 24) (figure 8, plot 3).

On 27 April 2018, with volcanic earthquakes being small in number and no observed volcanic tremor, JMA determined that activity had decreased and reduced the warning level from 2 to 1.

Geologic Background. Kikai is a mostly submerged, 19-km-wide caldera near the northern end of the Ryukyu Islands south of Kyushu. Kikai was the source of one of the world's largest Holocene eruptions about 6300 years ago. Rhyolitic pyroclastic flows traveled across the sea for a total distance of 100 km to southern Kyushu, and ashfall reached the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The eruption devastated southern and central Kyushu, which remained uninhabited for several centuries. Post-caldera eruptions formed Iodake lava dome and Inamuradake scoria cone, as well as submarine lava domes. Historical eruptions have occurred in the 20th century at or near Satsuma-Iojima (also known as Tokara-Iojima), a small 3 x 6 km island forming part of the NW caldera rim. Showa-Iojima lava dome (also known as Iojima-Shinto), a small island 2 km east of Tokara-Iojima, was formed during submarine eruptions in 1934 and 1935. Mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have occurred during the past few decades from Iodake, a rhyolitic lava dome at the eastern end of Tokara-Iojima.

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


Dieng Volcanic Complex (Indonesia) — May 2018 Citation iconCite this Report

Dieng Volcanic Complex

Indonesia

7.2°S, 109.879°E; summit elev. 2565 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Phreatic explosion on 1 April 2018 at Sileri Crater

Dieng has had a history of intermittent phreatic explosions. In 2017, explosions occurred on 30 April, 24 May, and 2 July (BGVN 42:10). Another phreatic explosion occurred on 1 April 2018. The volcano is monitored by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation or CVGHM).

PVMBG reported that a phreatic explosion at the Sileri Crater lake (Dieng Volcanic Complex) occurred at 1342 on 1 April 2018, ejecting mud and material 150 m high, and up to 200 m in multiple directions. The event was preceded by black emissions that rose 90 m, and then diffuse white emissions that rose 150 m. The report noted that few tourists were in the area due to rainy weather; visitors are not permitted within 200 m of the crater rim.

According to a news report (The Jakarta Post) that cited an official of the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), no toxic gases such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, or sulfur dioxide were detected in the explosion.

Geologic Background. The Dieng plateau in the highlands of central Java is renowned both for the variety of its volcanic scenery and as a sacred area housing Java's oldest Hindu temples, dating back to the 9th century CE. The Dieng volcanic complex consists of two or more stratovolcanoes and more than 20 small craters and cones of Pleistocene-to-Holocene age over a 6 x 14 km area. Prahu stratovolcano was truncated by a large Pleistocene caldera, which was subsequently filled by a series of dissected to youthful cones, lava domes, and craters, many containing lakes. Lava flows cover much of the plateau, but have not occurred in historical time, when activity has been restricted to minor phreatic eruptions. Toxic gas emissions are a hazard at several craters and have caused fatalities. The abundant thermal features and high heat flow make Dieng a major geothermal prospect.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38, East Jakarta 13120, Indonesia (URL: http://www.bnpb.go.id/); The Jakara Post (URL: http://www.thejakartapost.com).

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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

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 1900 years ago. Post-caldera eruptions, primarily from Marum and Benbow cones, have partially filled the caldera floor and produced lava flows that ponded on the caldera floor or overflowed through gaps in the caldera rim. Post-caldera eruptions have also formed a series of scoria cones and maars along a fissure system oriented ENE-WSW. Eruptions have apparently occurred almost yearly during historical time from cones within the caldera or from flank vents. However, from 1850 to 1950, reporting was mostly limited to extra-caldera eruptions that would have affected local populations.

Information Contacts: John Seach, P.O. Box 16, Chatsworth Island, 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.

[Skip text table]
    10 Feb           EZV3                      EZV2
    (time)   coda(sec)  amp max (mm)   coda(sec)  amp max(mm)

    2231       175       saturated        120          8
    0157     not rep.    saturated        300      saturated
    0359       160          16             65          3
    0552       110       saturated         25          2
    0730       140          30             70          3
    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.

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

Information Contacts: 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. 3295 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.

[Skip text table]
    Month           Phreatic Explosions    VT    LP    Hybrid

    August, 1998            8              23    18        29
    September              24              73   165     1,626
    October                25              49   191     1,448
    November               18              52   234       419
    December                7              59    94       166
    January, 1999          18              41   218     1,163
    February               28              60   190     2,099
    March                  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. 813 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 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 volcanoes, and left only a remnant of Rakata volcano. 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 volcano of Shishaldin is the highest and one of the most active volcanoes of the Aleutian Islands. The 2857-m-high, glacier-covered volcano is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes along an E-W line in the eastern half of Unimak Island. The Aleuts named the volcano Sisquk, meaning "mountain which points the way when I am lost." A steady steam plume rises from its small summit crater. Constructed atop an older glacially dissected volcano, it is Holocene in age and largely basaltic in composition. Remnants of an older ancestral volcano are exposed on the west and NE sides at 1500-1800 m elevation. There are over two dozen pyroclastic cones on its NW flank, which is blanketed by massive aa lava flows. Frequent explosive activity, primarily consisting of strombolian ash eruptions from the small summit crater, but sometimes producing lava flows, has been recorded since the 18th century.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory, 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.


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

White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 321 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

Information Contacts: 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.

View Atmospheric Effects Reports

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

View Special Announcements Reports

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


Central Chile and Argentina


Estero de Parraguirre


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

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

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

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



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

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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


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

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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