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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

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

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


Recently Published Bulletin Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Tengger Caldera

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Unnamed (Tonga) — November 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Unnamed

Tonga

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent explosions continue during March-August 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Semeru (Indonesia) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Semeru

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Saunders

United Kingdom

57.8°S, 26.483°W; summit elev. 843 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Chris Darby (URL: https://twitter.com/ChrisDDarby, image at https://twitter.com/ChrisDDarby/status/1100686838568812544).


Pacaya (Guatemala) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava flows and Strombolian explosions continued during February-July 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), Av. Hincapié 21-72, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://conred.gob.gt/www/index.php); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Daniel Sturgess, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, United Kingdom (URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/earthsciences/); Paul Wallace, Department of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences, University of Liverpool, 4 Brownlow Street, Liverpool L69 3GP, United Kingdom (URL: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/environmental-sciences/staff/paul-wallace/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Colima (Mexico) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Colima

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Masaya (Nicaragua) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake activity declined during March-July 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Occasional weak phreatic explosions during March-July 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Aira (Japan) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Agung (Indonesia) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Agung

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); The Jakarta Post, Mount Agung eruption disrupts Australian flights, (URL: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/05/25/mount-agung-eruption-disrupts-australian-flights.html); PunapiBali (URL: http://punapibali.com/, Twitter: https://twitter.com/punapibali, image at https://twitter.com/punapibali/status/1098869352588288000/photo/1); Jamie S. Sincioco, Phillipines (URL: Twitter: https://twitter.com/jaimessincioco. Image at https://twitter.com/jaimessincioco/status/1113765842557104130/photo/1); Pantau.com (URL: https://www.pantau.com/berita/erupsi-gunung-agung-sebagian-wilayah-bali-terpapar-hujan-abu?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter); Volcanoverse (URL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi3T_esus8Sr9I-3W5teVQQ); Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB (Twitter: @Sutopo_PN, URL: https://twitter.com/Sutopo_PN ).


Kerinci (Indonesia) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent explosions with ash plumes, February-May 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Nuansa Jambi, Informasi Utama Jambi: (URL: https://nuansajambi.com/2019/03/20/gunung-kerinci-semburkan-asap-tebal/); Kerinci Time (URL: https://kerincitime.co.id/gunung-kerinci-semburkan-abu-vulkanik.html); Uzone.id (URL: https://news.uzone.id/gunung-kerinci-erupsi-5-desa-tertutup-abu-tebal).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 24, Number 11 (November 1999)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Bezymianny (Russia)

Frequent fumarolic plumes, but no seismicity

Etna (Italy)

Vigorous eruptions at Bocca Nuova send lava flows 5 km down the W flank

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption (Turkey)

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

Gorely (Russia)

Shallow earthquake swarm in October

Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador)

Dome growth and explosive eruptions; dramatic increase in LP earthquakes

Karymsky (Russia)

Eruptive activity gradually decreases, then stops in late December

Klyuchevskoy (Russia)

Variable fumarolic plumes and episodes of increased seismicity

Lengai, Ol Doinyo (Tanzania)

Very active hornito in the N part of the crater

Negro, Cerro (Nicaragua)

Explosive eruptions starting on 5 August

San Salvador (El Salvador)

Minor volcano-tectonic seismicity detected

Sheveluch (Russia)

Intermittent explosions from the dome; fumarolic plumes

Tungurahua (Ecuador)

Explosions continue; 1998-99 summary; ~25,000 people displaced for months

White Island (New Zealand)

Fumarolic activity continues; new crater lake



Bezymianny (Russia) — November 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Bezymianny

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent fumarolic plumes, but no seismicity

Fumarolic plumes generally rising 50-300 m above the volcano were often observed during clear weather in August-December 1999, but views were frequently obscured by meteorological clouds. Weak fumarolic activity without a significant plume was detected on a few other occasions during this period. Plumes were observed on the following days: 9-10, 16, and 20-23 August; 2, 12, 22, 26, and 28 September; 22-24, 25-27, and 29-31 October; 1, 5, 11-12, 19, 22-23, 26, and 29 November; 2-3, 24, 25, and 28 December. Depending on local conditions, the plumes often extended 5-10 km downwind, usually E and SE. Others were blown S, NW, or NE. The longest plume during this period was on 26 August when it extended 15 km NE. No seismicity was registered under the volcano from 10 August through the end of December 1999. On October 6, a shallow earthquake was registered under the volcano.

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.


Etna (Italy) — November 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Vigorous eruptions at Bocca Nuova send lava flows 5 km down the W flank

Following the gradual reactivation of the summit craters since June 1999 and eruptive episodes at the Voragine on 4 September and at the Bocca Nuova (BN) on 20 September, the activity shifted to the Northeast Crater (NEC) and then to the BN in early October. During the second half of October, the BN crater produced spectacular Strombolian activity, episodes of high lava fountaining, and lava overflows onto the W flank of the volcano, the first flows in that area since 1964. Lava flows on the W flank interrupted two dirt roads and burned a small portion of forest, but presented no threat to inhabited areas downslope. After 3 November, the activity declined to low levels.

The information for the following report, covering October-November 1999, was compiled by Boris Behncke at the University of Catania (DSGUC), Marco Fulle, Roberto Carniel, and Jürg Alean. Additional information was provided by Jean-Claude Tanguy. The compilation is based on personal visits to the summit, observations from Catania, and many other sources cited in the text.

Vigorous Strombolian activity occurred at the NEC during the first week of October. When the summit area was visited by Behncke, Roberto Scandone and Lisetta Giacomelli (Dipartimento di Fisica, Università "Roma Tre"), and Angelo Amara (Catania University) on 1 October, strong explosions ejected bombs up to 100 m above the crater rim, and ash emissions were frequent. Similar activity was observed during a summit visit by Behncke and others on 6 October. Brownish-gray ash plumes were frequent, and some of the Strombolian bursts were densely charged with small bombs.

Eruptive activity resumed within the BN on the afternoon of 5 October, after about two weeks of relative calm. After nightfall, Giuseppe Scarpinati (Italian correspondent of L'Association Volcanologique Européenne, LAVE) observed strong explosions from his home in Acireale (~18 km SE from the summit). Huge incandescent bombs were ejected to halfway down the S flank of the main summit cone. Scarpinati noted fluctuating glow at the NEC and increased effusion at the ESE base of the Southeast Crater (SEC) cone. Powerful explosions from the BN were continuing the next morning as Behncke and two students from the University of Trier visited Piano Provenzana on the N flank (~6 km from the BN). Explosions occurred at intervals of ~10 minutes, with minor activity between the explosions. Many bombs were ejected far beyond the crater rim. The source of this activity was probably at the SE eruptive center, which had been buried under lava on 20-21 September.

Vigorous eruptive activity continued at NEC and BN through 11 October. Dark ash-laden plumes commonly rose every few minutes from the NEC. Bombs were ejected from the BN to a distance of several hundred meters, and some bursts rose more than 300 m above the crater. Eruptive activity resumed within the Voragine and continued at least through the following day (information from Sandro Privitera, DSGUC, and Jean-Claude Tanguy).

On the afternoon of 12 October Behncke and Amara were ~250 m from the W rim of the BN, where activity was vigorous, with ejections of dense jets of bombs to hundreds of meters above the crater rim. Eruptive activity occurred from at least four locations within the crater. At 1830 there was the first in a series of powerful detonations that ejected abundant lithics along with incandescent bombs and a tephra-laden plume to ~500 m above the crater rim. The explosions initiated about 30 minutes of more intense activity from three locations in the W and NW part of the crater.

NEC emitted dark dense ash plumes almost continuously. After nightfall only ~10 percent of the emissions ejected incandescent bombs; other emissions appeared to eject mainly lithics. While near the front of the 22 July 1998 lava flow on the dirt road that connects the N and S routes to the summit (named "summit road" in the following paragraphs), several explosions from the Voragine were heard. At the ESE base of SEC cone lava was still issuing quietly after more than 8 months. The effusion rate was estimated at ~1 m3/s; during the previous four weeks, ~2.5 x 106 m3 had been added to the more than 40 x 106 m3 of lava emitted between 4 February and early September 1999.

Strong ash emission from the NEC on the morning of 13 October continued in a pulsating manner into the early afternoon of the following day. At the BN, however, near-continuous ejections of incandescent bombs caused rapid filling of the crater. On the evening of 15 October, vigorous eruptive activity occurred at the Voragine and loud detonations were audible as far as Catania.

Lava was fountaining in BN on the evening of 16 October, but strong explosions resumed the next morning (17 October). Fulle watched the activity from the summit road and reported that continuous lava jetting to several hundred meters above the crater rim occurred from several vents, and bombs dropped onto the outer flanks of the main summit cone. Sometime around 2015 a small portion of the W rim collapsed, allowing lava to move rapidly down the steep slope, crossing the summit road. On the early morning of 18 October, the farthest flow front had reached ~1,900 m elevation and stopped before reaching the Forestale dirt road (figure 82). Lava was reported to flow vigorously through the breach on the W side of the BN on the evening of 18 October, but the fronts did not extend as far downslope as the first major flows.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. Sketch map of the lava flows emitted from the Bocca Nuova during October-November 1999, based on photographs taken after the end of the activity from various locations. Main vents of the Bocca Nova (BN) are shown as dots. The other summit craters are the Northeast Crater (NE), Voragine (V), and Southeast Crater (SE). Inset at upper left shows the entire Etna area with the location of the new lavas and the towns of Bronte and Catania. VDB in the inset is Valle del Bove. Courtesy of Boris Behncke.

At about noon on 19 October, Behncke and Scarpinati reached the summit area and observed near-continuous ejections of large bombs high above the rim of the BN. Movement of the lava flow on the W flank had slowed significantly, and only the central portion of the flow was moving. The lava field had many overlapping flow units with a total width of ~100 m at the summit road crossing. Between 1200 and 1230 activity increased until fountaining from the more southerly of the two vents became virtually continuous; frequent large blasts from the other vent dropped bombs up to 150 m beyond the crater rim. A short time later a new flow with a front ~3 m high advanced rapidly through the central flow channel, on top of the still-moving earlier lava. From points along the N margin of the lava field the summit of a pyroclastic cone growing within the BN could be seen rising above the crater rim. Explosive activity consisted of only a few ash-rich emissions between 1630 and 1730. After sunset the active flows were brightly incandescent over their entire length, and BN produced bursts of huge incandescent bombs every 2-10 seconds.

After continuing vigorously until the early morning of 20 October, the activity from the eruptive vents in the W and NW part of the BN ceased, and the lava overflow through the notch in the W crater rim stopped. Sometime near dawn, forceful expulsions of ash began from the SE vent, which had shown little activity the previous week. The low levels of activity permitted volcanologists from the U.K. to reach the rim of the BN and observe at least three vents with mild Strombolian activity and sizeable pyroclastic cones around them. On 21 October at 0300, intense eruptive activity apparently resumed, with renewed lava overflow onto the W flank. A new lobe on the S margin of the flow-field covered more of the summit road and extended to ~2,400 m elevation.

On the morning of 22 October, Scarpinati, from his home in Acireale, observed mild Strombolian activity (one explosion every 15-20 seconds) at the BN and more vigorous spattering at the vents on the ESE base of the SEC cone. By 1130 another episode of high lava fountaining and overflow from BN was in progress. From Catania jets of incandescent material to several hundred meters above the crater rim were visible, and a dense, ash-poor column of yellowish gas rose at least 4 km above the summit. Fulle witnessed the activity from a distance of a few hundred meters, and reported that a N-S fissure ~200 m long in the W part of the BN ejected a virtually continuous sheet of very fluid lava with jets rising up to 500 m high. A torrent of lava ran halfway down the W flank of the main summit cone at a speed of ~50 m/minute, carrying incandescent blocks more than 10 m across. An overflow may have also occurred on the NNW side of the BN. After 1230 the activity and the volume of overflowing lava diminished, but sporadic explosions threw large bombs hundreds of meters beyond the crater rim until 1700. Between 2000 and 2100 Behncke and Scarpinati visited the ESE base of the SEC cone where lava emission from at least three vents continued, and incandescent gas was emitted forcefully from two large hornitos that had grown earlier that day. Flowing lava was seen ~500 m NE and E from the active vents.

On 23 October another episode of high lava fountaining at the BN and overflow onto the W flank began at about 1000. This activity culminated at about 1045 but was less intense than the episode of the previous day. Relatively mild Strombolian activity persisted through the evening of 24 October, and small volumes of lava flowed onto the W flank. During the afternoon, Fulle and Carniel observed explosions (mostly ash) from four vents on the fissure in BN, and from a vent in the SE sector of the BN. During the night loud explosions at intervals of several minutes rattled windows and doors in towns 24 and 28 km NE.

On the morning of 25 October ash was emitted sporadically from BN until by about 1130 continuous fountaining was in progress. Broad jets of lava generally rose 100-200 m above the crater rim, but occasional jets soared to 500 m height. Lava again descended the W flank. A large pyroclastic cone near the vent that produced most of the fountaining (in the NW part of the BN) was ~30 m above the NW crater rim. Fulle and Carniel observed that the activity occurred from a number of vents along a N-S trending fissure in the W part of the BN. At 1145 Fulle observed that lava was overflowing the rim near the SW vent, covering the southern edge of the previous lava field.

From 1235 to 1300 the flank of the BN was affected by intense deformation, with the opening of several fractures and a series of collapses. Within a few minutes (peaking around 1320) a wide sector of the WNW crater rim was pushed up and out by lava within the crater. Minor collapses occurred for about 30 minutes while vigorous lava fountaining continued. The avalanches resulting from the collapses spilled several hundred meters down the W flank and produced brownish plumes. Movie clips taken by Carniel of the deformation and avalanches are available at Stromboli On-line. Lava flowing through the new breach was repeatedly covered with debris but continued to flow, carrying boulders up to 20 m in diameter. On the N side of the BN the mass of fluid bombs transformed into a rootless lava flow that advanced along the flow emplaced on 22 October, but extended farther downslope. The episode ended by about 1630, but was followed by a series of strong isolated explosions. By 1900, the main vent in the BN produced frequent Strombolian bursts, and lava flow through the breach in the crater rim continued at a reduced rate.

Observations made that evening revealed that a new lava flow with at least seven active branches had descended the W flank, and the farthest flow front had extended to ~1,900 m elevation. By about 1810 the front of the longest branch began moving through a small patch of forest a few hundred meters above the Forestale Road. The new lava flow was slightly N of the flows produced during the preceding week, with the longest branch extending almost 5 km from the BN, thus being one of the longest flows ever produced by a summit eruption.

On the morning of 26 October, the activity consisted mostly of isolated ash-rich explosions from the southernmost fissure vent in the W part of the BN. Towards the evening the activity became more continuous and there was mild Strombolian activity. Fulle and Carniel reported that up to five vents along the fissure were active. Explosions also occurred from two vents in the SE part of the BN where little activity had been observed the previous week.

On 27 October jets of lava rose tens of meters above two main vents in the W part of the BN, and a new large pyroclastic cone was growing around the northernmost vent. Lava continued to overflow on the W side of the crater, with active flow fronts to ~2,600 m elevation. Between 0015 and 1045, Fulle, Carniel, and Tom Pfeiffer (University of Arhus) observed intense activity, mostly in the NW sector of the BN. From 1230 onwards the explosions of the NW vent of the BN became increasingly stronger. Between 1400 and 1415 some of the largest explosions showered bombs over the whole main summit cone, and a scoria fall was noticed at the Torre del Filosofo mountain hut. At 1433 strong explosions of dark ash occurred at the NEC. The activity of the BN remained strong all afternoon. New lava spilled down the W flank, and at about 1700, the farthest flow front cut the Forestale road at about 1,800 m elevation, immediately S of Monte Nunziata (the main scoria cone of the 1843 eruption), and entered a patch of dense forest. Early the next morning the front of the main flow had extended ~200 m below the Forestale road, to ~1,730 m elevation; by 29 October the flow had stopped.

Vigorous lava jetting from the BN was observed at about 0600 on 29 October by Giovanni Sturiale (DSGUC). Activity observed by Sturiale, Behncke, Pfeiffer, and Vincenzo Polizotto (University of Catania) later that day included incandescent bombs from the NW vent, forceful ejections of dark gray ash and blocks from the SE vents, and vigorous Strombolian activity at the NW vent where the top of the new pyroclastic cone was projecting a few tens of meters above the crater rim. A variety of lava flows were seen on the W flank. Vigorous pulsating lava jetting from the NW vent was continuing at about 2230.

On 30 October, Pfeiffer revisited the summit area and reported that relatively mild Strombolian activity continued throughout the day. The entire Voragine area was covered with bombs, and the Voragine itself "had ceased to exist" because the 4 September 1999 crater was filled to within ~40 m of its rim. The active cone at the NW vent in the BN was very close to the location of the former "diaframma," of which no trace was visible. Emission of blocks and ash from the SE vents in the BN continued. During an overflight by Tanguy at about 1300, a bright red vent lay in the middle of the NW-trending BN fissure. Small lava flows were seen on the upper W slopes and a scoria cone was being built around the NW vent. NEC and SEC emitted a moderate white plume. After sunset a large red glow on the W flank indicated renewed strong effusive activity.

On the evening of 31 October, Scarpinati observed from Acireale that vigorous lava spattering had resumed at the ESE base of the SEC cone, while Strombolian activity at the BN was continuing. Scarpinati visited the area on 1 November and described voluminous lava flows running towards the Valle del Bove, and spattering from a group of hornitos. Effusive activity at the ESE base of the SEC cone showed a marked decrease after 2 November. On the 6th, Scarpinati observed trickles of lava flowing from these vents, but none thereafter.

On 1 November, Behncke and others climbed to the SW side of the BN where vigorous Strombolian activity continued from the NW vent, and occasional weak Strombolian bursts occurred from a vent farther S. Lava again extruded from below the uplifted block of 25 October. The southernmost of the three active lava lobes ran along the S margin of the lava field, cutting another 10 m of the summit road. Explosive activity at the NW vent produced jets up to 300 m high, but ~90 percent of the bombs fell back into the crater, enlarging the pyroclastic cone. On the evening of 3 November BN produced continuous jets of lava up to 300 m high, the last major eruptive episode of the sequence initiated on 5 October. Activity ceased after 0400 on 4 November, and after that the BN produced only weak intermittent Strombolian activity through about 15 November.

The volume of lava erupted from the BN between 17 October and 3 November is probably in the range of 15-20 x 106 m3. Tanguy estimated that the lava flows of 27 October alone amounted to ~5 x 106 m3, and similar flows were erupted on at least three other occasions. This places the October-November activity from the BN among the largest summit eruptions recorded at Etna during the past 200 years. The BN, which had been a 400-m-diameter pit about 150 m deep in 1995, was completely filled, and a sizeable pyroclastic cone was built in its N part, partly burying the "diaframma," the former wall separating this crater from the Voragine. Post-eruption collapse and subsidence caused the partial destruction of this cone and the formation of two pits at the main NW and SE vents of the BN, and the lava-covered plateau filling the former crater subsided by several meters towards its center. On the W side of the main summit cone, the accumulation of new lava caused a considerable buildup of this flank. The Voragine was largely filled by pyroclastics from the NW vent of the BN, with only a shallow depression remaining in its central part.

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, Dipartimento di Scienze Geologiche, Palazzo delle Scienze, Università di Catania (DSGUC), Corso Italia 55, 95129 Catania, Italy; Roberto Carniel, Dipartimento di Georisorse e Territorio, Università di Udine, Via Cotonificio 114, 33100 Udine, Italy (URL: http://www.swisseduc.ch/stromboli/); Jürg Alean, Kantonsschule Zürcher Unterland, CH-8180 Bülach, Switzerland; Marco Fulle, Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste, Via Tiepolo 11, 34131 Trieste, Italy; Jean-Claude Tanguy, Université Paris 6 and IPGP, Observatoire de Saint-Maur, 4, avenue de Neptune, 94107 Saint-Maur des Fossés Cedex, France.


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

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.


Gorely (Russia) — November 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Gorely

Russia

52.559°N, 158.03°E; summit elev. 1799 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Shallow earthquake swarm in October

At 1832 on 22 October, a 10-minute series of shallow earthquakes was recorded at the volcano. The last Gorely eruptive activity occurred in 1980-81 (SEAN 05:07) and 1984-86 (SEAN 10:01).

Geologic Background. Gorely volcano consists of five small overlapping stratovolcanoes constructed along a WNW-ESE line within a large 9 x 13.5 km caldera. The caldera formed about 38,000-40,000 years ago accompanied by the eruption of about 100 km3 of tephra. The massive complex includes 11 summit and 30 flank craters, some of which contain acid or freshwater crater lakes; three major rift zones cut the complex. Another Holocene stratovolcano is located on the SW flank. Activity during the Holocene was characterized by frequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions along with a half dozen episodes of major lava extrusion. Early Holocene explosive activity, along with lava flows filled in much of the caldera. Quiescent periods became longer between 6000 and 2000 years ago, after which the activity was mainly explosive. About 600-650 years ago intermittent strong explosions and lava flow effusion accompanied frequent mild eruptions. Historical eruptions have consisted of moderate Vulcanian and phreatic explosions.

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.


Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador) — November 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)


Dome growth and explosive eruptions; dramatic increase in LP earthquakes

This report covers 22 November through 24 December 1999, an interval when long-period earthquakes increased precipitously. The dome in the caldera's western sector continued to produce explosions, lava extrusions, and rockfalls. November 1999 marked the 32nd month since the unrest began; occasional ashfalls and associated disruptions (minor ashfall, airport closures, hundreds of evacuated refugees) have had a significant impact on Quito residents.

Seismicity. Earthquake hypocenter maps appearing on the Geophysical Institute's website showed the vast majority of earthquakes clustering beneath the crater area; in some cases these clusters also spread W with gradually decreasing density. The website also included a diagrammatic cross section through the crater (figure 20) illustrating the inferred plumbing system, including some typical depths for various kinds of earthquakes. On the inset, the diagram shows an inferred shallow aquifer within the edifice that intersects the active conduit and presumably contributes to the repeated phreatic eruptions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. A diagrammatic E-W cross-section through the crater at Guagua Pichincha. The cross-section is intended to show the overall internal structure and the zones where the main kinds of earthquakes seen during the crisis have typically originated. The scale across the bottom of the main diagram corresponds to a local coordinate system; the one along the left side of the main diagram indicates depth with respect to sea level (0 km). The inset contains an enlarged view of the crater area. Courtesy of the Geophysical Institute.

During November 1999 phreatic explosions took place 41 times. Many months during the crisis had fewer than 20 explosions per month, and the November 1999 value was the second highest of the crisis. The highest monthly total occurred during October 1999, a count of 53 explosions.

Seismicity had been escalating rapidly during September-October 1999 (see plot, BGVN 24:10). A precipitous climb in long-period (LP) earthquakes continued during November, reaching dramatic levels (table 7); in September long-period earthquakes occurred ~12,000 times, in October ~15,000 times, and in November ~44,000 times. For another comparison, LP counts earlier in the crisis (July 1998-August 1999) generally remained below 200 earthquakes per month. Thus, compared to this broader interval, the November 1999 count of LP events reflected more than a 200-fold increase. In addition, November's LP earthquakes exceeded the sum for LP events during the previous 16 months.

Table 7. Monthly earthquake counts at Guagua Pichincha representing two key time intervals. The "upper threshold" refers to the highest values registered during the earlier parts of the crisis, July 1998-August 1999. The next three columns indicate the monthly counts during September-November 1999, an interval with the highest numbers of earthquakes yet seen during the current crisis. Courtesy of the Geophysical Institute.

Earthquake Type Earlier upper threshold Sep 1999 Oct 1999 Nov 1999
Long-period (LP) 200 11,972 15,075 43,738
Multi-phase (MP) 2,099 130 15,024 6,182
Volcano-tectonic (VT) 160 1,331 1,701 104
Sum (LP + MP) 12,102 30,099 49,920 --

A change in the relative numbers of events appears to have occurred beginning in September 1999. From then on, LP events occurred with either similar abundance to MP events, or in some cases LP events became dominant. The total of MP plus LP events (table 2) continued to increase through November 1999.

On the other hand, the escalation in Multiphase (MP) and volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes has diminished since the anomalously high values seen in September and October 1999 (table 7, and BGVN 24:10). Compared to earlier in this crisis, MP earthquake counts underwent a sudden peak in October at ~15,000 events; in November there were ~6,000 MP events. VT earthquake counts underwent a less pronounced peak in September and October with ~1,300 and ~1,700 respective events. November VT earthquakes totaled only 104, a value still within the upper end of the monthly counts seen for the bulk of the crisis.

As a result of ongoing dome growth, rockfall-associated seismicity increased. The highest days in September-November had daily LP counts of 250-300 per day. Peaks in dome-growth events approached or exceeded 100 events/day for sustained intervals both during early October and late November 1999.

Daily observations. Tens of daily phreatic explosions were common. Counted seismically, these events appeared so numerous that generally only large ones received much mention in the daily reports (summarized in table 8). On many days visibility into the caldera remained limited because of clouds and fog.

Table 8. Summary of the more important explosions reported at Guagua Pichincha during 22 November-22 December 1999. The explosions discussed here were selected by choosing the Institute's daily reports where the seismically determined parameter of reduced displacement (RD) was reported. Courtesy of the Geophysical Institute.

Date Reduced displacement (RD) and related activity and impacts
24 Nov 1999 Two important explosions, the first of which at 0328 led to ashfall in N Quito visible on clean surfaces such as the exteriors of vehicles. The second explosion took place at 1233 with a RD of 17.7 cm2. The second sent a column to 10 km altitude blowing E (towards Quito). Ash fell (see text). The 1233 explosion vented from the W caldera margin; the associated seismic signal was shallow, 0.9 km. An additional four disturbances occurred between 0840 and 0906 associated with collapse of rocks and consequent emissions in the new dome's W sector; the plumes related to these events rose ~2 km. Still other explosions noted this day had variable RDs: 12.9, 11.8, 2.4, and 1.0 cm2.
25 Nov 1999 Ash fell on N Quito after explosions at 0528 and 2027 with respective RDs of 15 and 25 cm2.
26 Nov 1999 An emission with RD of 4.6 cm2 issued an ash-laden column that rose 2 km and dispersed to the SE.
27 Nov 1999 An emission at 2114 had a RD of 19.6 cm2 and sent an ash column more than 2 km upward; it blew to the W and SW. Heavy cloud cover made it hard to observe the plume, however. Some ash fall was reported in Quito.
29 Nov 1999 An eruption at 1134 had a RD of 18.9 cm2 and sent an ash column to ~8 km. The next day field crews found block-and-ash flows and mud flows deposited by this eruption on the W flank in the Rio Cristal.
02 Dec 1999 Two series of explosions took place, the first during 1723-1800 and the second, 2013-2200. An explosion at 2200 had the larger RD, 27.2 cm2. Although clouds obscured the crater, these explosions were thought to have been very destructive to the new dome.
09 Dec 1999 An eruption with RD of 12 cm2 was termed small; it followed a 10.5-hour interval with 15 eruption signals.
10 Dec 1999 An explosion with a RD of 26.6 cm2 and subsequent discovery of new pyroclastic flow deposits along the Rio Cristal. Later, at 1713, an explosion with RD of 18 cm2 sent a column to ~7.6 km altitude that was blown to the W and SW.
11 Dec 1999 Three RDs reported, 15, 16, and 12 cm2, produced by explosions in the early morning hours. Portions of the collapsed dome descended the Rio Cristal and there was some fracturing within the crater's older and newer domes.
14 Dec 1999 Several small explosions with RDs under 6 cm2. Rockfall seismic signals were common.
15-16 Dec 1999 Comparatively low-energy explosions with RDs under 4 cm2.
17 Dec 1999 Three morning explosions after 0730 with successive RDs of 15.5, 23, and 20 cm2. A white mushroom cloud rose to ~8 km altitude above the volcano. Beginning about 1000 a light rain of ash fell on Quito, particularly the north and central parts of the city. The airport shut down in the morning but reopened after 1310. On the W flank mudflows had been spotted carrying blocks up to 3 m in diameter. An additional press release noted a large eruption at 1504 with an RD of 24 cm2 and a resulting column to 8 km above the summit. This was followed by a larger eruption at 1627 with an RD of 28 cm2. By a small margin, this ranked as the largest RD of the reporting interval. After the former eruption close to 14 hours of continuous tremor began. Available wind data around the time of these eruptions suggested that some ash would fall on the Capital, and the next day's report noted light ashfall (thickness unstated but probably under a few millimeters) of fine pumiceous ash in Quito's northern and central zones; on the flanks of the edifice there were tephra clasts of 2-5 cm diameter.
19 Dec 1999 Minor explosions with RDs under 3 cm2.

Two explosions on 24 November resulted in significant ashfall on inhabited areas. The latter explosion, around noon, sent a plume to 10 km altitude. Fine ash fell in areas N of Quito, blanketing zones that included the airport, which closed. The ash also affected numerous settlements within a few tens of kilometers N to NE of the summit (including Carcelén, 14.5 km NE; Cotocollao, 9.4 km N; Quito Tenis, 13.5 km NE; and at locations not found on available maps, at la Roldós, La Carolina, Mariscal, and el Ejido). The greatest thicknesses of ash reportedly fell between Jipijapa (unlocated) and la Mariana de Jesús (20.9 km NE).

More events took place the next day, and in the morning ashfalls were reported in Quito's northwestern neighborhoods. The ash lingered in the air well into the next day as a result of disturbances by traffic and cleanup.

An inspection of the W flank on 24 November revealed that during the past week the Cristal river had been inundated by lahars 400 m wide and 10 m deep, although the point of measurement was at an unstated distance from the summit. They were still hot, at least in places, and contained some component of pyroclastic flows bearing carbonized tree-trunks in addition to blocks from the dome. On 30 November observers visiting the Cristal river noted a 1-day-old block-and-ashflow deposit. In the same sector on 8 and 10 December field crews again linked observed zones of burned and singed leaves to probable pyroclastic flows.

On 17 December a white mushroom cloud preceded a dark, ash-bearing one that rose 8-9 km above the volcano. On 18 December, light ash again fell on Quito landing mainly in its central and northern zones. Portions of the cone's flanks received pumice 2-5 cm in diameter. Strong sulfur smells were noted by S-flank residents in Lloa.

An overflight on 21 December enabled the dome height to be estimated at 50-100 m from the base of the caldera. On the dome's W side observers identified a spine, possibly the same one as seen in November. Dark coffee-colored rocks were observed along the E margin of the new dome.

GOES-8 satellite imagery captured plumes on several occasions. For example, it recorded an explosion at about 1140 on 29 November. NOAA analysts estimated the ash plume rose to an altitude of 10-12 km and drifted S toward Tungurahua volcano (which was also producing a faint ash plume). The same ash plume was noted using the "split window" technique, wherein infrared channel 5 (13 µm) is subtracted from infrared channel 4 (11 µm), which often discriminates airborne silicates such as dust and volcanic ash from other features in an image.

During comparatively passive intervals with adequate visibility, daily reports typically described several distinct plumes emitted from the following sources: a) the "aligned" fumaroles (in Spanish, "las alineadas"), b) the fumaroles on the caldera's W border near the head of the Cristal river, c) fumaroles escaping from the 1981 crater, and d) emissions from the top of the new dome. Fumaroles designated as "a" and "b" had plumes that typically reached several hundred meters from base to top; "c" fumaroles typically had plumes that reached tens of meter from base to top.

Radiosondes. According to the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center at NOAA's Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), during late 1999 and early 2000 authorities in Quito have been launching weather balloons twice a day. The resulting upper atmospheric air movements generally appear on the Geophysical Institute's website. Because these data have been occasionally internally inconsistent in azimuth, they have not yet been incorporated into the modeled data nor the plume trajectory modeling. The SAB has repeatedly seen highly variable winds in the region.

News reports. A brief review of news reports during the past few months revealed numerous stories, some of which were listed on an Ecuadorian Embassy website. ABC News discussed the effects on the explosions of 5-7 October (BGVN 24:09); previously unmentioned in the Bulletin was that the explosion of 5 October caused respiratory problems for many area residents and the death of one man. Four others were injured clearing ash from the roofs of their homes. Quito's Marshal Sucre airport closed for multiple days during the crisis. This not only causes travel problems, but inevitably some commercial aircraft that remain on the ground require cleaning to regain flight worthiness. ABC News also reported that the 24-26 November eruptions that forced one closure of the airport had also caused the Ministry of Education to shut down schools for a few days.

A series of 17-22 November articles in the online Diario Hoy newspaper discussed conditions confronted by 500 refugees from Lloa and neighboring areas living in the largest of several tent cities in a pass above their town. The tent city's amenities included electrical power, water, bathroom facilities, and trash collection; tents came equipped with stoves and beds. The city also provided medical and dental services. Other tent cities provided refuge for ~300 more people. Guards limited access into Lloa, and the town itself was patrolled by the military.

Hoy Digital reported that Quito's mayor, Roque Sevilla, delivered Motorola radios to each one of the leaders of the 35 neighborhoods located on the volcano's slopes as a means of maintaining constant communication with the emergency system locally referred to as "911." The article also mentioned a project developed with the support of the German embassy and the firm Siemens that consists of a system of warning sirens intended to alert citizens of impending danger.

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: Geophysical Institute (Instituto Geofísico), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Apartado 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador; Embassy of Ecuador, 2535 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20009 USA (URL: http://www.ecuador.org/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, NOAA Satellite Services Division, NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center, Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/); ABC News (URL: http://abcnews.go.com/); Diario Hoy, Ecuador (URL: http://www.hoy.com.ec/).


Karymsky (Russia) — November 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Karymsky

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruptive activity gradually decreases, then stops in late December

The low-level strombolian eruptive activity that has characterized the volcano for more than three years gradually decreased after August until seismicity returned to background levels, and by late December there were no explosions. The eruption began on 2 January 1996 (BGVN 21:01) following an eruption from the Akademia Nauk caldera lake the previous day.

During the week of 9-15 August, steam-and-ash plumes were observed in satellite imagery extending as far as 75 km downwind at an altitude of 500-1,000 m above the crater. The number of gas-and-ash explosions was still more than 300/day the next week, with the plume rising 300-600 m above the volcano. During the last week of August through 5 September, the number of explosions was more than 75/day, with plumes to heights of 300-1,000 m above the volcano. Visual observations by KVERT staff on 1 and 5 September confirmed that explosive activity occurred every 10-20 minutes.

The number of gas-and-ash explosions decreased from 130 on 6 September to 80 on the 12th, but the plumes continued to rise 300-1,000 m above the volcano. That rate continued until the week of 20-26 September, when the average number of daily explosions decreased to 60. The number of explosions was 60-75/day during the next two-week reporting periods, through 10 October. During the week of 11-17 October the explosion rate decreased once again, to 20-35/day, although plume heights remained at 300-1,000 m. The number of explosions increased slightly, to 20-50/day, during 5-18 November, but then dropped the following week to 10-20/day and then only 2-5/day. During the week ending on 2 December, gas and ash explosions numbered 1-10/day.

The nearest seismic station (KRY) was out of order during 4-18 December. According to the regional seismic network, no strong events occurred during that period. The station was restored to operation on 19 December. As of 30 December seismicity at the volcano had decreased to background levels. About 1-2 local earthquakes occur every day and the volcano has returned to its normal state. At the end of December seismicity was at background levels of about 1-2 local earthquakes/day.

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

Information Contacts: 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.


Klyuchevskoy (Russia) — November 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Klyuchevskoy

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Variable fumarolic plumes and episodes of increased seismicity

Highly variable activity continued throughout August-December 1999. Typical daily activity observed during clear weather consisted of a small fumarolic plume rising 50-200 m above the crater and extending a few kilometers downwind, usually E or SE. Seismicity was generally at background levels, consisting of shallow earthquakes with some periods of tremor. However, higher gas-and-steam plumes were frequently seen and two episodes of increased seismicity were detected. The volcano was frequently obscured by clouds.

Tremors and shallow earthquakes were registered during 9-15 August. Typical small fumarolic plumes were seen on 9-10, 13-14, 16, 21-26, and 28 August, and 2, 4-5, 7-8, and 12 September. On 30-31 August a gas-and-steam plume rose 500-1,500 m above the crater. On 15 September a gas-and-steam plume rose 600 m, and on 16 September the plume rose 200 m extending 5 km E. Mainly shallow earthquakes were registered from 19 September through 24 October. Gas-and-steam plumes rose up to 500 m during 19-26 and 28 September, and 3, 5, 7, 11, 20-21, and 24 October, extending as far as 5 km E or SE. During the afternoon of 15 October there was a 6.5-hour-long series of shallow earthquakes. On 22-23 October a fumarolic plume rose 700-1,000 m and extended 5-20 km to the E and SE.

Seismicity, consisting of shallow earthquakes and tremor, was above background levels during much of the period from 25 October until 17 December. Only small fumarolic plumes 50-300 m high were seen on 25 and 27 October, but on 26 October a plume rose 1,000 m above the volcano and extended 40 km NE. Small fumarolic plumes to 300 m extending 5 km SE were seen on 29-31 October and 4 November, with smaller typical plumes on 5, 7-8, and 10-11 November. Shallow earthquakes and volcanic tremor were recorded especially on 15, 21, and 25 November, when a gas-and-steam plume rose 1,000 m and extended more than 7 km NE. Typical smaller fumarolic plumes were seen on 12, 16, 18-19, 22-24, 26, and 28 November, and on 1, 3, and 10 December. On 29 November and 1 December gas-and-steam plumes rose 1,500 m above the volcano and extended more than 20 km SE. A fumarolic plume on 8 December rose 2,500 m.

During December 17-29 seismicity at the volcano returned to background levels. Small plumes were recorded on 17, 19-21, 25, and 28 December. Another plume on the 23rd rose 700 m.

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

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


Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — November 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)


Very active hornito in the N part of the crater

The following report resulted from a visit to the crater of Ol Doinyo Lengai during 23 July-7 August. Prior to the visit and according to a local source (Burra Ami Gadiye), lava breaching the NW crater rim on 18 July flowed down the flank of the volcano and was visible at night from Ngare Sero village, ~10 km N. When the visitor's crater observations began at 1100 on 23 July, this lava flow from the NW crater rim breach had cooled and was becoming white from weathering, but it was clearly the most recent lava in the crater. Its source was hornito T40 (figure 63) based on comparisons of 1998 and 1999 photographs by C. Weber. From 2 to 6 August, an intermittent lava lake 3 m in diameter also existed inside T37N1 at a depth of 20 m.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. Sketch map of the crater at Ol Doinyo Lengai for the period 23 July-7 August 1999. Courtesy of Christoph Weber.

The conical part of T40 was 85 m around at its base and 12 m tall. The N side of the hornito's cone was walled by a low overhanging rim and its S side was covered by a high half-dome. The hornito also included a large, 6-m-deep crater. A small lava pond at the N end of the crater ejected 16-20 spatters per minute through 24-25 July. Twice on 26 July parts of the half-dome and the cone's summit collapsed into the crater.

During 27-28 July lava gradually rose inside the crater of T40 and formed a 4 x 6 m lake and several ponds. By 29 July the lake was ~12 m long and 7 m wide. In a pattern repeating every 15-20 minutes a surge of fresh lava boiled up from the NE corner of the lake, raising the level by 0.5 m. Lava flowed out of the lake to the NW through a subterranean tunnel but did not escape onto the main crater floor.

Although this pattern persisted for some time, at 1400 on 30 July an abrupt increase in activity produced high lava spatters that fell on the N flank of T40. Fresh lava swept into the lake from the N like breaking ocean waves and strong ground tremor shook the N flank of the cone. This activity continued through 31 July, when the lake rose to ~60 cm below the lowest point along the vent rim. Spatter gradually built up the N wall of the crater by more than 1 m and formed a large hood overhanging the area of most intense degassing.

At 0045 on 1 August, a hole developed in the hornito's new crater wall. Lava escaped and moved N as short aa flows up to 60 cm thick. Lava ceased to escape by 0600 but similar eruptions recurred through 1300 on 2 August. Intense degassing later destroyed the hood covering the N part of the lake, but splashing built a thick covering of spatter on the N flank of the cone and reconstructed the hood. Around 0300 on 3 August a new vent opened low on the NW flank of T40 where the strongest tremor had been during the previous few days. An aa lava flow 20 cm thick moved 73 m NW. By 0800 the eruption had ended and the lake level dropped by 2 m. By 0600 on 4 August the lake temporarily disappeared, leaving a solid crater floor 2.5 m below the rim. Lava reappeared about noon but only occupied a 2 m2 area at the crater's N end; the lava frequently overflowed from the pond and produced many small lava flows that covered most of the hornito's crater floor. At 2345 solid lava covering the new vent on the NW flank of T40 blew off; explosions occurred at a rate of 18-20/minute and constructed a new spatter cone. During repose periods, the activity shifted to the lava lake, creating high spatters that reached the summit of T40. After explosions ended at 0800 on 5 August, the new cone was 3 m tall with a circular summit vent 60 cm in diameter. Lava was bubbling in the vent at a depth of 1 m (figure 64).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. Photograph taken in the crater at Ol Doinyo Lengai showing a local guide in front of T40 during formation of the new spatter cone taken at about 0700 on 5 August 1999. Courtesy of Frederick Belton.

At 2000 on 5 August pahoehoe lava flowed rapidly across the NE rim of T40 and moved E for 55 m. At 0645 the next morning, more lava escaped the lake through a hole in the NE rim of T40 and covered much of the previous night's flow. Beginning at 1800 on 6 August the lake repeatedly overflowed the hornito's NE rim, later overflowing the NW rim. Around 0400 on 7 August a hole that opened 1 m below the NE rim of T40 gradually enlarged and drained ~60 m3 of lava from the lake forming an open NE-directed lava channel 60 cm wide. By 0800 on 7 August the hole was 1 m high and 0.5 m wide. When observations ended at 0815, lava was nearing the NE crater wall and subsequent reporting noted that lava never reached the breach in the E crater rim, stopping short by 70 m. It was later learned from Guillaume Delpech, a French geology student, that during his visit to T40 on 9 August, the lava lake level inside the hornito varied between 3 and 4 m below its rim. No lava flowed outside of T40 and the spatter cone was inactive.

Christoph Weber made temperature measurements using a digital thermometer (TM 914C with a stab feeler standard K-type) during the crater visit (table 2). The instrument was used in the 0-1200 Celsius mode, taking readings by inserting the feeler 15 cm into the lava. Calibration was made by the Delta-T method: values are ± 6°C in the 0-750°C range. Most values shown were maxima recorded from a series of at least five repeat measurements.

Table 2. Temperature estimates from 60 measurements at Ol Doinyo Lengai made during 23 July-7 August 1999. See text for method used. Courtesy of Christoph Weber.

Date Location Estimated temperature (°C)
28 Aug 1999 T40 lava lake 529
01 Sep 1999 Pahoehoe (in open channel, 3 m below the lava lake) 519
01 Sep 1999 End of a 60-cm-thick aa flow 516
28 Aug 1999 Fumarole near base of T49 82

Activity during early September 1999. Bruno Hermier visited the crater in early September and made the following observations. On the afternoon of 6 September only the northernmost hornito (T40) seemed to be active. A lava flow was estimated to be about two days old. Two E-W fissures cross the western half of the crater emitting fumaroles that deposit sulfur. The fissures are perpendicular to the N-S trend of the volcano and radiate from the hornitos. On 7 September at 0900 some spatter came from the top of the 7-m-high T40 hornito. The spatter became larger, creating a pond of lava visible at the top of the hornito. It began to overflow on all sides of the hornito for 15 minutes before the lava level dropped. This cycle repeated until 1300, after which only a low hissing noise was perceptible. Interestingly, a foam filled the hornito. The spatter that splashed on the sides of the chimney and the fluid that overflowed the rim instantaneously lost 75 percent of their volume as gas exsolved. The remaining 25 percent cooled or flowed as black carbonatite. The extremely fluid flows (consistency of oil or hot tar) were only a few centimeters thick, but extended 50-100 m. No additional activity was seen through the evening of 9 September.

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: Frederick Belton, 3555 Philsdale Ave., Memphis, TN 38111 USA (URL: http://oldoinyolengai.pbworks.com/); Celia Nyamweru, Department of Anthropology, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617 USA (URL: http://blogs.stlawu.edu/lengai/); Christoph Weber, Friesenstrasse 20, 42107 Wuppertal, Germany; Bruno Hermier, France.


Cerro Negro (Nicaragua) — November 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Cerro Negro

Nicaragua

12.506°N, 86.702°W; summit elev. 728 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosive eruptions starting on 5 August

During the night of 4-5 August 1999, strong seismic activity occurred near Cerro Negro and the earthquakes with magnitudes up to 4.8 were felt throughout NW Nicaragua, especially in the big cities of León (20 km away, where many people could not sleep because of the seismic events) and Chinandega (40 km away). The strongest event was even felt 70 km away in Managua. The Nicaraguan seismic network recorded hundreds of earthquakes and strong seismic tremor at the seismic station at the volcano and at the MIRAMAR station (7 km away).

Three notices were received from the GOES alarm network concerning Cerro Negro. Distinct hot spots, indicating small plumes over the volcano, were detected on infrared satellite imagery at 0055, 0155, and 0235 on 5 August.

Explosive eruptions began at about 1000 on 5 August 1999. Ash clouds at heights of about 7,000 m were reported by aircraft. Ashfall was reported from some places SW of the volcano. The activity issued from four new vents outside the main crater, very near to the parasitic crater Cristo Rey, on the S flank of Cerro Negro. The vents formed cones ~40 m high during the day.

Wilfried Strauch visited the volcano that afternoon and observed explosions every few seconds, sometimes generating lava fountains ~300 m high. The activity alternated among the different new cones. No significant amounts of volcanic ash were emitted at this time. Local residents ~1 km from the volcano reported that seismicity was extremely strong during the night. Fissures appeared in the soil near their houses, releasing vapor.

INETER informed Civil Defense and other institutions on the night of 4 August about the seismic activity. Civil Defense officers visited the volcano early in the morning of 5 August, but could not yet detect signs of volcanic activity. When they got the information about the beginning of the eruption they proceeded with the evacuation of nearby villages, involving several hundreds of people.

Volcanic ash advisory statements on 6 August indicated that well-defined hot spots were still occasionally visible on GOES-8 multi-spectral imagery through 1615. No ash was visible in the imagery at that time, and thick clouds moved over the area later in the day. Imagery obtained under clear skies at 1015 on 7 August revealed no ash or hot spot.

Geologic Background. Nicaragua's youngest volcano, Cerro Negro, was created following an eruption that began in April 1850 about 2 km NW of the summit of Las Pilas volcano. It is the largest, southernmost, and most recent of a group of four youthful cinder cones constructed along a NNW-SSE-trending line in the central Marrabios Range. Strombolian-to-subplinian eruptions at intervals of a few years to several decades have constructed a roughly 250-m-high basaltic cone and an associated lava field constrained by topography to extend primarily NE and SW. Cone and crater morphology have varied significantly during its short eruptive history. Although it lies in a relatively unpopulated area, occasional heavy ashfalls have damaged crops and buildings.

Information Contacts: Wilfried Strauch, Instituto Nicaraguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Division of Geophysics, Apartado 2110, Managua, Nicaragua; Benjamin van Wyk de Vries, Magmas et volcans Observatoire du Physique du Globe, Departement des Sciences de la Terre, Université Blaise Pascal, 5 Rue Kessler, 63038 Clermont-Ferrand, France (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, NOAA Satellite Services Division, NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center, Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/).


San Salvador (El Salvador) — November 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

San Salvador

El Salvador

13.734°N, 89.294°W; summit elev. 1893 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Minor volcano-tectonic seismicity detected

In August, several stations of the seismic network at San Salvador volcano recorded a few volcano-tectonic events 5 km from the crater. Local scientists investigated a fumarolic field, but nothing abnormal was found.

Geologic Background. The massive compound San Salvador volcano dominates the landscape W of El Salvador's capital city of San Salvador. The dominantly andesitic Boquerón stratovolcano has grown within a 6-km-wide caldera whose rim is partially exposed at Picacho and Jabalí peaks, which themselves were formed by collapse of an older edifice about 40,000 years ago. The summit of Boquerón is truncated by a steep-walled crater 1.5 km wide and ~500 m deep that formed during a major eruption around 800 years ago. It contained a crater lake prior to an eruption during 1917 that formed a small cinder cone on the crater floor; a major N-flank lava flow also erupted in this year. Three fracture zones that extend beyond the base of the volcano have been the locus for numerous flank eruptions, including two that formed maars on the WNW and SE sides. Most of the four historical eruptions recorded since the 16th century have originated from flank vents, including two in the 17th century from the NW-flank cone of El Playón, during which explosions and a lava flow damaged inhabited areas.

Information Contacts: Douglas Hernandez, Centro de Investigaciones Geotecnicas, Apartado Postal 109, San Salvador, El Salvador.


Sheveluch (Russia) — November 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Sheveluch

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent explosions from the dome; fumarolic plumes

The volcano was frequently obscured by clouds during August-December 1999, but small fumarolic gas-and-steam plumes rising 50-200 m were often observed during clear weather. Higher fumarolic plumes were seen on three days in late November-early December. Four short explosions generated ash-bearing plumes during August-December that were confirmed visually. As many as five additional dome explosions were identified seismically.

On 11 and 13-14 August, fumarolic plumes rose 50-200 m above the crater. On 15 August a 5-minute ash explosion sent a plume to 800 m above the crater. On 17 and 23 August, fumarolic plumes rose 200-600 m; on the 30th a similar plume rose 1,200 m. On 4-5, 12, and 23-25 September, fumarolic plumes rose 50-200 m, extending 5 km E or SE. Similar plumes were seen on 7, 11, 23, and 25-26 October. On the morning of 27 October a short-lived ash explosion was observed, with an accompanying 20-minute burst of seismic activity. According to a Japanese satellite image taken about 3.5 hours later, an ash plume extended NE at an altitude of 6,900 m. Overall seismicity remained about at background levels until the end of October.

Seismicity was above background levels in late October through mid-November, when the hazard status was increased to "Yellow." On the morning of 31 October a 20-minute series of shallow earthquakes and tremor may have been associated with explosions on the dome; however, at daylight only a small fumarolic plume was seen. According to visual reports from Klyuchi town, on the late morning of 1 November a short explosive eruption sent an ash plume to an altitude of 5.5-6.0 km and extended S; an accompanying increase in seismicity occurred. On 2 November a fumarolic plume rose 50 m. On 8 and 10 November, three 20-50-minute-long series of shallow earthquakes and tremor were recorded that may have been associated with dome explosions. On 11 November a fumarolic plume rose 200 m.

A 5-minute-long series of shallow earthquakes and tremor was recorded on the morning of 17 November that may have been associated with an explosion on the dome. On 12, 16, 19, and 22 November fumarolic plumes rose 200 m. On the morning of 24 November a gas-and-ash plume rose 3 km above the crater. Plumes rising 1-2 km above the crater were also observed on the evening of 27 November and the afternoon of 2 December. All three of these larger plumes disappeared within one hour. Smaller fumarolic plumes, to 50-200 m above the crater, were seen again on 26 and 29-30 November, and 1-2, 10, 17, and 20-21 December. On the morning of 27 December a possible gas-and-ash plume was registered.

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.


Tungurahua (Ecuador) — November 1999 Citation iconCite this Report

Tungurahua

Ecuador

1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions continue; 1998-99 summary; ~25,000 people displaced for months

Frequent explosive eruptions continued at Tungurahua volcano through 30 November (figure 1 and table 2). Ash plumes rose to maximum heights of about 5 km above the summit. Daily explosions increased during the month, reaching a peak during 16-25 November before decreasing slightly (figures 2 and 3). On 19 November 0.5 mm of ash fell on Baños, 9 km NNE of the summit at an elevation of ~1,850 m. Two millimeters of ash fell on the town of Runtún farther up slope at ~2,350 m elevation and ~6.2 km NE of the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. An aerial oblique photograph of Tungurahua taken from the W during July 1974 shows the morphology of the snow-and-ice-covered summit crater prior to the current eruption. Courtesy of the Geophysical Institute.

Table 2. Explosions and other activity at Tungurahua as described in daily reports, 31 October to 30 November 1999. Courtesy of the Geophysical Institute.

Date Number of Explosions Observations
31 Oct 1999 28 Night observations of incandescent emissions falling on upper cone; an ash-bearing plume rose ~3 km about the summit.
01 Nov 1999 21 A 3 km plume deposited ash in Banos and 31 km SW of the summit in Riobamba.
02 Nov 1999 22 On two occasions, plumes rose to ~5 km above the summit; windows vibrated 12 km from the summit.
03 Nov 1999 34 Ash deposited 32 km NW of the summit in Ambato.
04 Nov 1999 25 Plumes up to 5-km tall were produced; vibrations and explosions continued; sulfur smell noted in the city of Banos; harmonic tremor recorded.
05 Nov 1999 22 Weather clouds covered the plumes.
06 Nov 1999 32 Dense, 3-5 km plumes were seen during the day.
07 Nov 1999 27 ~1.5 km plume dispersed to the N and S.
08 Nov 1999 24 Blocky pyroclastic flows with over 1 km runout distances.
09 Nov 1999 19 --
10 Nov 1999 27 --
11 Nov 1999 29 Ash columns to 1.5 km height.
12 Nov 1999 28 Ash column to ~10 km altitude (~5 km above the summit); blowing E.
13 Nov 1999 15 Plume to about 2 km produced containing minor ash and directed NW.
14 Nov 1999 25 Plume heights unstated but plume visible to NNW on satellite imagery.
15 Nov 1999 37 Morning eruptions discharged ash plumes that moved NNW.
16 Nov 1999 43 Airborne observations of an ash-rich plume ascending to 5-km above the summit and blowing NW; a satellite image also showed the plume at ~5 km altitude.
17 Nov 1999 55 A consistent 1-km-tall ash plume directed to the N.
18 Nov 1999 83 Loud booming noises; continuous series of ~5-km-tall, W-directed plumes.
19 Nov 1999 64 Morning eruptions, plume blowing SW; in the past few days there was ~0.5 mm of ash deposited in Banos and up to ~2 mm deposited in Runtun (see text).
20 Nov 1999 47 A strong rain produced mud flows; some crossed roads; reports stated one mudflow was 20 m wide (see text).
21 Nov 1999 67 --
22 Nov 1999 55 A large quantity of blocks and incandescent material found on sides of volcano; 1-2 km plume produced and inclined to the NE.
23 Nov 1999 96 Emissions rose to 1 km over the summit.
24 Nov 1999 102 Up to ~2-km-tall plumes of vapor and ash directed to the E.
25 Nov 1999 97 Taller plumes reached 3-4 km height; ~3,300 tons/day SO2 emitted in an interval with a constant 1-km-tall plume.
26 Nov 1999 35 An explosion of vapor and ash rose 1 km above the summit of the volcano; a ~5-km-tall plume formed; 1 cm ash accumulated in one sector during the past weeks.
27 Nov 1999 16 4 km ash-bearing column rose after the explosion.
28 Nov 1999 13 A 500-m-tall vapor column was seen.
29 Nov 1999 46 An explosion produced a 4-km-tall column; loud noises heard.
30 Nov 1999 62 Observers noted strong thunder sounds; vibrations felt ~10 km away.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. A dark ash plume rises from Tungurahua's formerly snow-covered summit crater on 16 November 1999. Courtesy of the Geophysical Institute.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. A histogram indicating the number of daily explosions at Tungurahua during 24 October to 30 December 1999. Explosions were most frequent during 22-25 November. Courtesy of the Geophysical Institute.

A pronounced peak in monthly earthquakes during August-September diminished rapidly in October and still farther in November (figure 4). The greatest number of monthly earthquakes were volcano-tectonic, in a pattern that became prominent in September 1998 and prevailed until October 1999. The ratio of multiphase to long-period earthquakes showed significant variability. In some months (eg., February, March, May, June, and September 1999) the multiphase events dominated. August 1999 showed the extreme reversal of this pattern with 436 long-period and 58 multiphase events. The last two months shown on figure 4, October and November, portrayed a similar though less pronounced reversal in their relative abundance of the multiphase events. These months also displayed a comparative scarcity of volcano-tectonic events.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. A histogram for Tungurahua showing three types of monthly earthquakes occurring between April 1998 and November 1999. For any given month, from left to right the earthquakes shown are long-period (LP), hybrid or multiphase (MP), and volcano-tectonic (VT). All three types plot on the same scale, shown on the left side of the histogram. Courtesy of the Geophysical Institute.

SO2 flux during the crisis (figure 5) showed wide variability. Comparatively high fluxes were measured prior to the eruption. On the eruptions first day, 5 October, measured SO2-flux values reached 9,000-10,000 metric tons/day (t/d) (BGVN 24:09). The highest fluxes, seen during mid-September through early November, also showed rough, though inexact correlations with the seismic and explosion patterns.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. SO2 flux measured at Tungurahua during 11 July-8 December 1999. Although error bars were not provided they are typically on the order of plus or minus 10-20%. Courtesy of the Geophysical Institute.

Two mud flows were reported on 20 November. They occurred after a strong rain that washed large tree trunks and rocks into a main highway in Baños. One of these mudflows was 20 m wide; another earlier in the day blocked part of a different highway in Baños.

1998-99 activity divided into five stages. In January 2000 the Geophysical Institute issued a summary report that divided 1998-99 activity into five stages. The first stage, December-May 1998, included swarms of small predominantly volcano-tectonic earthquakes. Tremor also continued, presumably associated with a phreatic source; this kind of tremor has been detected since 1993 and is thus here referred to as persistent or long-lived tremor.

The second stage, May 1998-15 July 1999, was an interval when seismic swarms (including volcano-tectonic (VT), long period (LP), and hybrid or multiphase (MP) earthquakes) became more energetic. Small explosion signals began to register from greater-than-shallow depths. The preponderance of VT earthquakes was interpreted as a result of stress beneath the edifice due to intruding magma. Stable-frequency tremor at that time underwent a slight increase in amplitude.

In the third stage, which began after 15 July 1999, tremor included higher frequency signals. Geophysicists noted a series of many small earthquakes of all kinds that continued until mid-December. At the end of July came the first reports of strong sulfurous odors in the vicinity of the crater. In the meantime, SO2 fluxes rose from essentially zero to 3,200 t/d (figure 5).

During 24-28 July and 8-10 September LP earthquake swarms struck with significant energy. Seismicity continued to rise considerably during August and early September. An alert was declared on 8 September 1999.

The fourth stage began 14 September 1999 when low-frequency tremor appeared, presumably associated with degassing and ascending magma. The persistent tremor increased in amplitude. On 14 September a column of vapor 2 km tall was observed. On 15 September the alert status rose to yellow. Later and until 25 October tremor reached extraordinarily high amplitudes and contained three dominant frequencies: 1, 1.7, and 2-2.5 Hz.

The first explosive activity was reported on 5 October (BGVN 24:09), when blocks and ash were ejected at 0721, 0738, and 0743 hours. This emission was associated with a comparatively big explosive seismic signal with a reduced displacement of 25 cm2 and high SO2 fluxes. The next day an ash plume rose to 2 km above the summit; small airfall ash deposits were found in Quero, Bilbao (where the thickness was given as 2 mm), and probably in Ambato. Subsequent Geophysical Institute reports described small ash-bearing or "dark" plumes to 0.5-5 km above the summit.

On 13 October observers first noted incandescence. SO2 fluxes rose to over 10,000 t/d (figure 5). Deformation at one of the tilt stations on the SW underwent significant changes. Activity increased on 16 October when an ash plume reached ~5 km above the summit and blew W. During the previous night's darkness observers saw incandescent ash and blocks deposited on the upper flanks of the volcano. On 16 October the alert status was raised from yellow to orange, prompting evacuations of Baños and settlements along Tungurahua's W and SW flanks (see below).

During the fifth stage, which began after 25 October, the persistent tremor remained near the levels seen in the third stage. Low-frequency tremor also continued. SO2 fluxes dropped to 3,500-4,000 tons/day in mid-November. Magmatic explosions became common in this stage. At night observers saw pyroclasts descending 1-2 km below the summit. Ash-charged plumes rose 3-5 km above the summit. During 1999 the Geophysical Institute tallied 2,030 explosions and emissions, 2,542 VT earthquakes, 4,086 LP earthquakes, and 1,038 MP earthquakes.

Geography and hazards. Baños sits in a narrow valley on the N margin of the volcano 75 miles S of Quito and 9 km NE of Tungurahua's summit. Baños lies along the Pastaza river (draining the N flanks) below the Chambo river (draining the W flanks over the NW to SW sector). This geography leaves Baños open to "high hazard for directed blasts and fallback pyroclastic flows" as well as lahars (Hall and others, 1999). Within this hazard zone, ~4.5 km downstream, sits the Agoyan dam, an important source of hydroelectric power.

Tungurahua is very dangerous because it has 3 km of vertical relief, 30°slopes, a record of previous sector collapses and a comparatively high propensity for future collapses, a pre-evacuation at-risk population of ~25,000 people, a major hydroelectric dam on its NNE margin, and a record of relatively violent, sudden andesitic eruptions with pyroclastic flows (Hall and others, 1999). The same authors noted that the volume of magma emitted by Tungurahua during the last 2,300 years has been ~3.45 km3. This gives it a magma flux rate similar to that at Merapi during the last century and 2- to 3-fold larger than the estimated rates seen in the Central Andes during the Late Cenozoic.

Evacuations. The newspaper El Universo reported that on 16 October when Tungurahua's volcanic activity increased and its hazard status first rose to orange, evacuations followed at cities closest to the volcano, including Baños. On 21 October the United Nations (UN) reported that the evacuations relocated "22,000 persons from some 60 locations." El Universo noted that at one point nearing the end of the evacuation one hundred buses were used.

As of late October some of the residents had moved to Ambato, 32 km NW of the volcano. Official sources indicated that 1,200-1,500 evacuees went to temporary shelters in the provinces of Tungurahua, Chimborazo, and Pastaza. Besides Ambato, individual cities that took refugees included Puyo (45 km E of the summit) and Shell (41 km E). About 100 families found shelter in a religious foundation and 200 families on a farm belonging to the Polytechnic Institute of Chimborazo. The UN further reported that ~600 military police and personnel have been deployed to the affected region to protect abandoned property. Access into this area was to be strictly prohibited.

The UN reported that 4,000 livestock, 100,000 fowl, and the animals from the zoological garden in Baños had also been evacuated. According to the Associated Press, a government census found that 40,000 chickens died from respiratory infections during early October.

According to the Associated Press, Baños had been evacuated for two months when on 13 December a caravan of residents briefly returned. During this brief visit, one resident entered his home and found it intact, although most parts of the house lay covered in ash. Residents faced an uncertain future because they did not know exactly when they would be able to return. The governor of Tungurahua province, Ignacio Vargas said, "This won't be permanent. We will have to wait until the eruption ends so that everyone can return to his normal activities."

Because of economic problems associated with leaving their homes and livelihoods, Baños area residents have been bypassing the military to plant crops and tend their farms. According to early January ABC News reports there have even been skirmishes between residents and the military. The eruptions are occurring in the context of tension and conflict between the military and some Unions and other groups as the country's economy has worsened.

Reference.: Hall, M., Robin, C., Beate, B., Mothes, P., Monzier, M., 1999. Tungurahua Volcano, Ecuador: structure, eruptive history and hazards: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 91, p. 1-21.

Geologic Background. Tungurahua, a steep-sided andesitic-dacitic stratovolcano that towers more than 3 km above its northern base, is one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes. Three major edifices have been sequentially constructed since the mid-Pleistocene over a basement of metamorphic rocks. Tungurahua II was built within the past 14,000 years following the collapse of the initial edifice. Tungurahua II itself collapsed about 3000 years ago and produced a large debris-avalanche deposit and a horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the west, inside which the modern glacier-capped stratovolcano (Tungurahua III) was constructed. Historical eruptions have all originated from the summit crater, accompanied by strong explosions and sometimes by pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached populated areas at the volcano's base. Prior to a long-term eruption beginning in 1999 that caused the temporary evacuation of the city of Baños at the foot of the volcano, the last major eruption had occurred from 1916 to 1918, although minor activity continued until 1925.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Apartado 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador; Embassy of Ecuador, 2535 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 USA (URL: http//www.ecuador.org/); United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland; El Universo, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.eluniverso.com/); Associated Press, International Headquarters, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020 USA (URL: http://www.ap.org/); ABC News (URL: http://abcnews.go.com/).


White Island (New Zealand) — November 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)


Fumarolic activity continues; new crater lake

No eruptions have occurred at White Island since the minor ash emissions in July-August 1999 from the PeeJay vent area. This report includes observations following a visit on 23 November to service the seismic installation, conduct a deformation survey, collect volcanic gas samples, and assess the general status of volcanic activity on the island.

During the visit a weak steam-and-gas plume was rising 300-500 m. This plume originated from fumarolic vents NW of the former PeeJay vents. Since the last surveillance visit in July a crater lake has developed on the floor of 1978/90 Crater Complex, inundating Metra Crater and parts of the PeeJay vent area. A series of strand lines around the crater lake edge indicated a recent drop in the lake level. Small collapse pits had recently formed near the lakeshore, below the Sag area, and may have accompanied the recent drop in lake level. The lake is a lime green color, with minor convection evident. A temperature of 45°C was measured, down slightly from the previous measurements.

The strongest fumarolic vents were on the NW side of the PeeJay vents area, emerging from the vent wall, which is ~10-15 m high. There were three prominent vents, which were emitting steam and gas that were weakly transparent at the vent. At times the steam and gas plume appeared a yellow color. The emissions were audible from 2-300 m distance. Temperatures of Main Crater fumaroles ranged from 103-115°C, and are similar to previous measurements this year.

A ground-deformation survey was also made. Eight pegs were replaced, as these were damaged during the April-July 1999 eruptions. The survey results showed that subsidence continued at the E-SE margin of the 1978/90 Crater Complex, but at a lesser rate than observed in 1998. Over the remainder of the Main Crater floor weak subsidence was also apparent at many of the marks.

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 Center, Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (IGNS), Private Bag 2000, Wairakei, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/).

Atmospheric Effects

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

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

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/).