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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

San Miguel (El Salvador) Small ash emissions during 22 February 2020

Cleveland (United States) Intermittent thermal anomalies and lava dome subsidence, February 2019-January 2020

Ambrym (Vanuatu) Fissure eruption in December 2018 produces an offshore pumice eruption after lava lakes drain

Copahue (Chile-Argentina) Ash emissions end on 12 November; lake returns to El Agrio Crater in December 2019

Nishinoshima (Japan) Ongoing activity enlarges island with lava flows, ash plumes, and incandescent ejecta, December 2019-February 2020

Krakatau (Indonesia) Tephra and steam explosions in the crater lake; explosions in December 2019 build a tephra cone

Mayotte (France) Seismicity and deformation, with submarine E-flank volcanism starting in July 2018

Fernandina (Ecuador) Fissure eruption produced lava flows during 12-13 January 2020

Masaya (Nicaragua) Lava lake persists with lower temperatures during August 2019-January 2020

Reventador (Ecuador) Nearly daily ash emissions and frequent incandescent block avalanches August 2019-January 2020

Pacaya (Guatemala) Continuous explosions, small cone, and lava flows during August 2019-January 2020

Kikai (Japan) Single explosion with steam and minor ash, 2 November 2019



San Miguel (El Salvador) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

San Miguel

El Salvador

13.434°N, 88.269°W; summit elev. 2130 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small ash emissions during 22 February 2020

San Miguel, locally known as Chaparrastique, is a stratovolcano located in El Salvador. Recent activity has consisted of occasional small ash explosions and ash emissions. Infrequent gas-and-steam and ash emissions were observed during this reporting period of June 2018-March 2020. The primary source of information for this report comes from El Salvador's Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales (SNET) and special reports from the Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN) in addition to various satellite data.

Based on Sentinel-2 satellite imagery and analyses of infrared MODIS data, volcanism at San Miguel from June 2018 to mid-February was relatively low, consisting of occasional gas-and-steam emissions. During 2019, a weak thermal anomaly in the summit crater was registered in thermal satellite imagery (figure 27). This thermal anomaly persisted during a majority of the year but was not visible after September 2019; faint gas-and-steam emissions could sometimes be seen rising from the summit crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of a faint but consistent thermal anomaly at San Miguel during 2019. Images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Volcanism was prominent beginning on 13-20 February 2020 when SO2 emissions exceeded 620 tons/day (typical low SO2 values are less than 400 tons/day). During 20-21 February the amplitude of microearthquakes increased and minor emissions of gas-and-steam and SO2 were visible within the crater (figure 28). According to SNET and special reports from MARN, on 22 February at 1055 an ash cloud was visible rising 400 m above the crater rim (figure 29), resulting in minor ashfall in Piedra Azul (5 km SW). That same day RSAM values peaked at 550 units as recorded by the VSM station on the upper N flank, which is above normal values of about 150. Seismicity increased the day after the eruptive activity. Minor gas-and-steam emissions continued to rise 400 m above the crater rim during 23-24 February; the RSAM values fell to 33-97 units. Activity in March was relatively low; some seismicity, including small magnitude earthquakes, occurred during the month in addition to SO2 emissions ranging from 517 to 808 tons/day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Minor gas-and-steam emissions rising from the crater at San Miguel on 21 February 2020. Courtesy of Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Gas-and-steam and ash emissions rising from the crater at San Miguel on 22 February 2020. Courtesy of Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN).

Geologic Background. The symmetrical cone of San Miguel volcano, one of the most active in El Salvador, rises from near sea level to form one of the country's most prominent landmarks. The unvegetated summit rises above slopes draped with coffee plantations. A broad, deep crater complex that has been frequently modified by historical eruptions (recorded since the early 16th century) caps the truncated summit, also known locally as Chaparrastique. Radial fissures on the flanks of the basaltic-andesitic volcano have fed a series of historical lava flows, including several erupted during the 17th-19th centuries that reached beyond the base of the volcano on the N, NE, and SE sides. The SE-flank flows are the largest and form broad, sparsely vegetated lava fields crossed by highways and a railroad skirting the base of the volcano. The location of flank vents has migrated higher on the edifice during historical time, and the most recent activity has consisted of minor ash eruptions from the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales (SNET), Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN), Km. 5½ Carretera a Nueva San Salvador, Avenida las Mercedes, San Salvador, El Salvador (URL: http://www.snet.gob.sv/ver/vulcanologia); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Cleveland (United States) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Cleveland

United States

52.825°N, 169.944°W; summit elev. 1730 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent thermal anomalies and lava dome subsidence, February 2019-January 2020

Cleveland is a stratovolcano located in the western portion of Chuginadak Island, a remote island part of the east central Aleutians. Common volcanism has included small lava flows, explosions, and ash clouds. Intermittent lava dome growth, small ash explosions, and thermal anomalies have characterized more recent activity (BGVN 44:02). For this reporting period during February 2019-January 2020, activity largely consisted of gas-and-steam emissions and intermittent thermal anomalies within the summit crater. The primary source of information comes from the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) and various satellite data.

Low levels of unrest occurred intermittently throughout this reporting period with gas-and-steam emissions and thermal anomalies as the dominant type of activity (figures 30 and 31). An explosion on 9 January 2019 was followed by lava dome growth observed during 12-16 January. Suomi NPP/VIIRS sensor data showed two hotspots on 8 and 14 February 2019, though there was no evidence of lava within the summit crater at that time. According to satellite imagery from AVO, the lava dome was slowly subsiding during February into early March. Elevated surface temperatures were detected on 17 and 24 March in conjunction with degassing; another gas-and-steam plume was observed rising from the summit on 30 March. Thermal anomalies were again seen on 15 and 28 April using Suomi NPP/VIIRS sensor data. Intermittent gas-and-steam emissions continued as the number of detected thermal anomalies slightly increased during the next month, occurring on 1, 7, 15, 18, and 23 May. A gas-and-steam plume was observed on 9 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity (log radiative power) at Cleveland during 4 February 2019 through January 2020 shows increased thermal anomalies between mid-April to late November 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (bands 12, 11, 8A) confirmed intermittent thermal signatures occurring in the summit crater during March 2019 through October 2019. Some gas-and-steam plumes were observed accompanying the thermal anomaly, as seen on 17 March 2019 and 8 May 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

There were 10 thermal anomalies observed in June, and 11 each in July and August. Typical mild degassing was visible when photographed on 9 August (figure 32). On 14 August, seismicity increased, which included a swarm of a dozen local earthquakes. The lava dome emplaced in January was clearly visible in satellite imagery (figure 33). The number of thermal anomalies decreased the next month, occurring on 10, 21, and 25 September. During this month, a gas-and-steam plume was observed in a webcam image on 6, 8, 20, and 25 September. On 3-6, 10, and 21 October elevated surface temperatures were recorded as well as small gas-and-steam plumes on 4, 7, 13, and 20-25 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Photograph of Cleveland showing mild degassing from the summit vent taken on 9 August 2019. Photo by Max Kaufman; courtesy of AVO/USGS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Satellite image of Cleveland showing faint gas-and-steam emissions rising from the summit crater. High-resolution image taken on 17 August 2019 showing the lava dome from January 2019 inside the crater (dark ring). Image created by Hannah Dietterich; courtesy of AVO/USGS and DigitalGlobe.

Four thermal anomalies were detected on 3, 6, and 8-9 November. According to a VONA report from AVO on 8 November, satellite data suggested possible slow lava effusion in the summit crater; however, by the 15th no evidence of eruptive activity had been seen in any data sources. Another thermal anomaly was observed on 14 January 2020. Gas-and-steam emissions observed in webcam images continued intermittently.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows intermittent weak thermal anomalies within 5 km of the crater summit during mid-April through November 2019 with a larger cluster of activity in early June, late July and early October (figure 30). Thermal satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 also detected weak thermal anomalies within the summit crater throughout the reporting period, occasionally accompanied by gas-and-steam plumes (figure 31).

Geologic Background. The beautifully symmetrical Mount Cleveland stratovolcano is situated at the western end of the uninhabited Chuginadak Island. It lies SE across Carlisle Pass strait from Carlisle volcano and NE across Chuginadak Pass strait from Herbert volcano. Joined to the rest of Chuginadak Island by a low isthmus, Cleveland is the highest of the Islands of the Four Mountains group and is one of the most active of the Aleutian Islands. The native name, Chuginadak, refers to the Aleut goddess of fire, who was thought to reside on the volcano. Numerous large lava flows descend the steep-sided flanks. It is possible that some 18th-to-19th century eruptions attributed to Carlisle should be ascribed to Cleveland (Miller et al., 1998). In 1944 Cleveland produced the only known fatality from an Aleutian eruption. Recent eruptions have been characterized by short-lived explosive ash emissions, at times accompanied by lava fountaining and lava flows down the flanks.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667 USA (URL: https://avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://dggs.alaska.gov/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/).


Ambrym (Vanuatu) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambrym

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fissure eruption in December 2018 produces an offshore pumice eruption after lava lakes drain

Ambrym is an active volcanic island in the Vanuatu archipelago consisting of a 12 km-wide summit caldera. Benbow and Marum are two currently active craters within the caldera that have produced lava lakes, explosions, lava flows, ash, and gas emissions, in addition to fissure eruptions. More recently, a submarine fissure eruption in December 2018 produced lava fountains and lava flows, which resulted in the drainage of the active lava lakes in both the Benbow and Marum craters (BGVN 44:01). This report updates information from January 2019 through March 2020, including the submarine pumice eruption during December 2018 using information from the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department (VMGD) and research by Shreve et al. (2019).

Activity on 14 December 2018 consisted of thermal anomalies located in the lava lake that disappeared over a 12-hour time period; a helicopter flight on 16 December confirmed the drainage of the summit lava lakes as well as a partial collapse of the Benbow and Marum craters (figure 49). During 14-15 December, a lava flow (figure 49), accompanied by lava fountaining, was observed originating from the SE flank of Marum, producing SO2 and ash emissions. A Mw 5.6 earthquake on 15 December at 2021 marked the beginning of a dike intrusion into the SE rift zone as well as a sharp increase in seismicity (Shreve et al., 2019). This intrusion extended more than 30 km from within the caldera to beyond the east coast, with a total volume of 419-532 x 106 m3 of magma. More than 2 m of coastal uplift was observed along the SE coast due to the asymmetry of the dike from December, resulting in onshore fractures.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Ambrym before the December 2018 eruption (left), and during the eruption (right). Before the eruption, the thermal signatures within both summit craters were strong and after the eruption, the thermal signatures were no longer detected. A lava flow was observed during the eruption on 15 December. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Shreve et al. (2019) state that although the dike almost reached the surface, magma did not erupt from the onshore fractures; only minor gas emissions were detected until 17 December. An abrupt decrease in the seismic moment release on 17 December at 1600 marked the end of the dike propagation (figure 50). InSAR-derived models suggested an offshore eruption (Shreve et al., 2019). This was confirmed on 18-19 December when basaltic pumice, indicating a subaqueous eruption, was collected on the beach near Pamal and Ulei. Though the depth and exact location of the fissure has not been mapped, the nature of the basaltic pumice would suggest it was a relatively shallow offshore eruption, according to Shreve et al. (2019).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Geographical timeline summary of the December 2018 eruptive events at Ambrym. The lava lake level began to drop on 14 December, with fissure-fed lava flows during 14-15 December. After an earthquake on 15 December, a dike was detected, causing coastal uplift as it moved E. As the dike continued to propagate upwards, faulting was observed, though magma did not breach the surface. Eventually a submarine fissure eruption was confirmed offshore on 18-19 December. Image modified from Shreve et al. (2019).

In the weeks following the dike emplacement, there was more than 2 m of subsidence measured at both summit craters identified using ALOS-2 and Sentinel-1 InSAR data. After 22 December, no additional large-scale deformation was observed, though a localized discontinuity (less than 12 cm) measured across the fractures along the SE coast in addition to seismicity suggested a continuation of the distal submarine eruption into late 2019. Additional pumice was observed on 3 February 2019 near Pamal village, suggesting possible ongoing activity. These surveys also noted that no gas-and-steam emissions, lava flows, or volcanic gases were emitted from the recently active cracks and faults on the SE cost of Ambrym.

During February-October 2019, onshore activity at Ambrym declined to low levels of unrest, according to VMGD. The only activity within the summit caldera consisted of gas-and-steam emissions, with no evidence of the previous lava lakes (figure 51). Intermittent seismicity and gas-and-steam emissions continued to be observed at Ambrym and offshore of the SE coast. Mével et al. (2019) installed three Trillium Compact 120s posthole seismometers in the S and E part of Ambrym from 25 May to 5 June 2019. They found that there were multiple seismic events, including a Deep-Long Period event and mixed up/down first motions at two stations near the tip of the dike intrusion and offshore of Pamal at depths of 15-20 km below sea level. Based on a preliminary analysis of these data, Mével et al. (2019) interpreted the observations as indicative of ongoing volcanic seismicity in the region of the offshore dike intrusion and eruption.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Aerial photograph of Ambrym on 12 August 2019 showing gas-and-steam emissions rising from the summit caldera. Courtesy of VMGD.

Seismicity was no longer reported from 10 October 2019 through March 2020. Thermal anomalies were not detected in satellite data except for one in late April and one in early September 2019, according to MODIS thermal infrared data analyzed by the MIROVA system. The most recent report from VMGD was issued on 27 March 2020, which noted low-level unrest consisting of dominantly gas-and-steam emissions.

References:

Shreve T, Grandin R, Boichu M, Garaebiti E, Moussallam Y, Ballu V, Delgado F, Leclerc F, Vallée M, Henriot N, Cevuard S, Tari D, Lebellegard P, Pelletier B, 2019. From prodigious volcanic degassing to caldera subsidence and quiescence at Ambrym (Vanuatu): the influence of regional tectonics. Sci. Rep. 9, 18868. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-55141-7.

Mével H, Roman D, Brothelande E, Shimizu K, William R, Cevuard S, Garaebiti E, 2019. The CAVA (Carnegie Ambrym Volcano Analysis) Project - a Multidisciplinary Characterization of the Structure and Dynamics of Ambrym Volcano, Vanuatu. American Geophysical Union, Fall 2019 Meeting, Abstract and Poster V43C-0201.

Geologic Background. Ambrym, a large basaltic volcano with a 12-km-wide caldera, is one of the most active volcanoes of the New Hebrides Arc. A thick, almost exclusively pyroclastic sequence, initially dacitic then basaltic, overlies lava flows of a pre-caldera shield volcano. The caldera was formed during a major Plinian eruption with dacitic pyroclastic flows about 1,900 years ago. Post-caldera eruptions, primarily from Marum and Benbow cones, have partially filled the caldera floor and produced lava flows that ponded on the floor or overflowed through gaps in the caldera rim. Post-caldera eruptions have also formed a series of scoria cones and maars along a fissure system oriented ENE-WSW. Eruptions have apparently occurred almost yearly during historical time from cones within the caldera or from flank vents. However, from 1850 to 1950, reporting was mostly limited to extra-caldera eruptions that would have affected local populations.

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).


Copahue (Chile-Argentina) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Copahue

Chile-Argentina

37.856°S, 71.183°W; summit elev. 2953 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash emissions end on 12 November; lake returns to El Agrio Crater in December 2019

Most of the large edifice of Copahue lies high in the central Chilean Andes, but the active El Agrio crater lies on the Argentinian side of the border at the W edge of the Pliocene Caviahue caldera. Infrequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the 18th century. The most recent eruptive episode began with phreatic explosions and ash emissions on 2 August 2019 that continued until mid-November 2019. This report summarizes activity from November 2019 through February 2020 and is based on reports issued by Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN) Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), satellite data, and photographs from nearby residents.

MIROVA data indicated a few weak thermal anomalies during mid-October to mid-November 2019. Multiple continuous ash emissions were reported daily until mid-November when activity declined significantly. By mid-December the lake inside El Agrio crater had reappeared and occasional steam plumes were the only reported surface activity at Copahue through February 2020.

The Buenos Aires VAAC and SERNAGEOMIN both reported continuous ash emissions during 1-9 November 2019 that were visible in the webcam. Satellite imagery recorded the plumes drifting generally E or NE at 3.0-4.3 km altitude (figure 49). Most of the emissions on 10 November were steam (figure 50). The last pulse of ash emissions occurred on 12 November with an ash plume visible moving SE at 3 km altitude in satellite imagery and a strong thermal anomaly (figure 51). The following day emissions were primarily steam and gas. SERNAGEOMIN noted the ash emissions rising around 800 m above El Agrio crater and also reported incandescence visible during most nights through mid-November. During the second half of November the constant degassing was primarily water vapor with occasional nighttime incandescence. Steam plumes rose 450 m above the crater on 27 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Continuous ash emissions at Copahue during 1-9 November 2019 were visible in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 2 and 7 November 2019 drifting NE. Natural color rendering uses bands 4,3, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Most of the emissions from Copahue on 10 November 2019 were steam. Left image courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, taken from Caviahue, Argentina. Right image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground, natural color rendering using bands 4, 3, and 2.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. A strong thermal anomaly and an ash plume at Copahue were visible in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 12 November 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground, Atmospheric penetration rendering bands 12, 11, and 8A.

Nighttime incandescence was last observed in the SERNAGEOMIN webcam on 1 December; SERNAGEOMIN lowered the alert level from Yellow to Green on 15 December 2019. Throughout December degassing consisted mainly of minor steam plumes (figure 52), the highest plume rose to 300 m above the crater on 18 December, and minor SO2 plumes persisted through the 21st (figure 53),. By mid-December the El Agrio crater lake was returning and satellite images clearly showed the increase in size of the lake through February (figure 54). The only surface activity reported during January and February 2020 was occasional white steam plumes rising near El Agrio crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Small wisps of steam were the only emissions from Copahue on 3 December 2019. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, taken from Caviahue, Argentina.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Small plumes of SO2 were recorded at Copahue during November and December 2019. Top row: 7, 9, and 30 November. Bottom row: 1, 20, and 21 December. Courtesy of Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, NASA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. The lake within El Agrio crater reappeared between 5 and 12 December 2019 and continued to grow in size through the end of January 2020. Top row (left to right): There was no lake inside the crater on 5 December 2019, only a small steam plume rising from the vent. The first water was visible on 12 December and was slightly larger a few days later on 17 December. Bottom row (left to right): the lake was significantly larger on 4 January 2020 filling an embayment close to the steam vent. Fingers of water filled in areas of the crater as the water level rose on 24 and 29 January. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Volcán Copahue is an elongated composite cone constructed along the Chile-Argentina border within the 6.5 x 8.5 km wide Trapa-Trapa caldera that formed between 0.6 and 0.4 million years ago near the NW margin of the 20 x 15 km Pliocene Caviahue (Del Agrio) caldera. The eastern summit crater, part of a 2-km-long, ENE-WSW line of nine craters, contains a briny, acidic 300-m-wide crater lake (also referred to as El Agrio or Del Agrio) and displays intense fumarolic activity. Acidic hot springs occur below the eastern outlet of the crater lake, contributing to the acidity of the Río Agrio, and another geothermal zone is located within Caviahue caldera about 7 km NE of the summit. Infrequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions from the crater lake have ejected pyroclastic rocks and chilled liquid sulfur fragments.

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN), Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Avda Sta María No. 0104, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue, Caviahue, Argentina (URL: https://twitter.com/valecaviahue, Twitter:@valecaviahue).


Nishinoshima (Japan) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Nishinoshima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing activity enlarges island with lava flows, ash plumes, and incandescent ejecta, December 2019-February 2020

After 40 years of dormancy, Japan’s Nishinoshima volcano, located about 1,000 km S of Tokyo in the Ogasawara Arc, erupted above sea level in November 2013. Lava flows were active through November 2015, emerging from a central pyroclastic cone. A new eruption in mid-2017 continued the growth of the island with ash plumes, ejecta, and lava flows. A short eruptive event in July 2018 produced a new lava flow and vent on the side of the pyroclastic cone. The next eruption of ash plumes, incandescent ejecta, and lava flows, covered in this report, began in early December 2019 and was ongoing through February 2020. Information is provided primarily from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) monthly reports.

Nishinoshima remained quiet after a short eruptive event in July 2018 until MODVOLC thermal alerts appeared on 5 December 2019. Multiple near-daily alerts continued through February 2020. The intermittent low-level thermal anomalies seen in the MIROVA data beginning in May and June 2019 may reflect areas with increased temperatures and fumarolic activity reported by the Japan Coast Guard during overflights in June and July. The significant increase in thermal anomalies in the MIROVA data on 5 December correlates with the beginning of extrusive and explosive activity (figure 63). Eruptive activity included ash emissions, incandescent ejecta, and numerous lava flows from multiple vents that flowed into the sea down several flanks, significantly enlarging the island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. The MIROVA graph of thermal energy from Nishinoshima from 13 April 2019 through February 2020 shows low-level thermal activity beginning in mid-2019; there were reports of increased temperatures and fumarolic activity during that time. Eruptive activity including ash emissions, incandescent ejecta, and numerous lava flows began on 5 December 2019 and was ongoing through February 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

A brief period of activity during 12-21 July 2018 produced explosive activity with blocks and bombs ejected 500 m from a new vent on the E flank of the pyroclastic cone, and a 700-m-long lava flow that stopped about 100 m before reaching the ocean (BGVN 43:09). No further activity was reported during 2018. During overflights on 29 and 31 January, and 7 February 2019, white steam plumes drifted from the E crater margin and inner wall of the pyroclastic cone and discolored waters were present around the island, but no other signs of activity were reported. A survey carried out by the Japan Coast Guard during 7-8 June 2019 reported minor fumarolic activity from the summit crater, and high-temperature areas were noted on the hillsides, measured by infrared thermal imaging equipment. Sulfur dioxide emissions were below the detection limit. In an overflight on 12 July 2019, Coast Guard personnel noted a small white plume rising from the E edge of the summit crater of the pyroclastic cone (figure 64).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. The Japan Coast Guard noted a small white plume at the summit of Nishinoshima during an overflight on 12 July 2019, but no other signs of activity. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, July 2019).

The white plume was still present during an overflight on 14 August 2019. Greenish yellow areas of water about 500 m wide were distributed around the island, and a plume of green water extended 1.8 km from the NW coast. Similar conditions were observed on 15 October 2019; pale yellow-green discolored water was about 100 m wide and concentrated on the N shore of Nishinoshima. No steam plume from the summit was present during a visit on 19 November 2019, but yellow-white discolored water on the N shore was about 100 m wide and 700 m long. Along the NE and SE coasts, yellow-white water was 100-200 m wide and about 1,000 m long.

A MODVOLC thermal alert appeared at Nishinoshima on 5 December 2019. An eruption was observed by the Japan Coast Guard the following day. A pulsating light gray ash plume rose from the summit crater accompanied by tephra ejected 200 m above the crater rim every few minutes (figure 65). In addition, ash and tephra rose intermittently from a crater on the E flank of the pyroclastic cone, from which lava also flowed down towards the E coast (figure 66). By 1300 on 7 December the lava was flowing into the sea (figure 67).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. The eruption observed at Nishinoshima on 6 December 2019 included ash and tephra emissions from the summit vent, and ash, tephra, and a lava flow from the vent on the E flank of the pyroclastic cone. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, November 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Thermal infrared imagery revealed incandescent ejecta from the summit crater and lava flowing from the E flank vent at Nishinoshima on 6 December 2019. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, November 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. By 1300 on 7 December 2019 lava from the E-flank vent at Nishinoshima was flowing into the sea. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, November 2019).

Observations by the Japan Coast Guard on 15 December 2019 confirmed that vigorous eruptive activity was ongoing; incandescent ejecta and ash plumes rose 300 m above the summit crater rim (figure 68). A new vent had opened on the N flank of the cone from which lava flowed NW to the sea (figure 69). The lava flow from the E-flank crater also remained active and continued flowing into the sea. The Tokyo VAAC reported an ash emission on 24 December that rose to 1,000 m altitude and drifted S. On 31 December, explosions at the summit continued every few seconds with ash and ejecta rising 300 m high. In addition, lava from the NE flank of the pyroclastic cone flowed NE to the sea (figure 70).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Incandescent ejecta and ash rose 300 m above the summit crater rim at Nishinoshima on 15 December 2019. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, December 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Lava from a new vent on the NW flank of Nishinoshima was entering the sea on 15 December 2019, producing vigorous steam plumes. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, December 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. At Nishinoshima on 31 December 2019 lava flowed down the NE flank of the pyroclastic cone into the sea, and incandescent ejecta rose 300 m above summit. Courtesy of JMA and the Japan Coast Guard (Volcanic activity monthly report, December 2019).

Satellite data from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) made it possible for JMA to produce maps showing the rapid changes in topography at Nishinoshima resulting from the new lava flows. The new E-flank lava flow was readily seen when comparing imagery from 22 November with 6 December 2019 (figure 71a). An image from 6 December compared with 20 December 2019 shows the flow on the E flank splitting and entering the sea at two locations (figure 71b), the flow on the NW flank traveling briefly N before turning W and forming a large fan into the ocean on the W flank, and a new flow heading NE from the summit area of the pyroclastic cone.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Satellite data from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) made it possible to produce maps showing the changes in topography at Nishinoshima resulting from the new lava flows (shown in blue). In comparing 22 November with 6 December 2019 (A, left), the new lava flow on the E flank was visible. A new image from 20 December compared with 6 December (B, right) showed the flow on the E flank splitting and entering the sea at two locations, the NW-flank flow building a large fan into the ocean on the W flank, and a new flow heading NE from the summit area of the pyroclastic cone. Courtesy of JMA and the Japan Coast Guard (Volcanic activity monthly report, December 2019).

The Tokyo VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery on 15 January 2020 that rose to 1.8 km altitude and drifted SE. The Japan Coast Guard conducted an overflight on 17 January that confirmed the continued eruptions of ash, incandescent ejecta, and lava. Dark gray ash plumes were observed at 1.8 km altitude, with ashfall and tephra concentrated around the pyroclastic cone (figure 72). Plumes of steam were visible where the NE lava flow entered the ocean; the E and NW lava entry areas did not appear active but were still hot. Satellite data from ALOS-2 prepared by JAXA confirmed ongoing activity around the summit vent and on the NE flank, while activity on the W flank had ceased (figure 73). An ash plume was reported by the Tokyo VAAC on 25 January; it rose to 1.5 km altitude and drifted SW for most of the day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. Dense, dark gray ash plumes rose from the summit of Nishinoshima on 17 January 2020. Small plumes of steam from lava-seawater interactions were visible on the NE shore of the island as well (far right). Courtesy of JMA and the Japan Coast Guard (Volcanic activity monthly report, January 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. JAXA satellite data from 3 January 2020 (left) showed the growth of a new lava delta on the NE flank of Nishinoshima and minor activity occuring on the W flank compared with the previous image from 20 December 2019. By 17 January 2020 (right), the lava flow activity was concentrated on the NE flank with multiple deltas extending out into the sea. The ‘low correlation areas’ shown in blue represent changes in topography caused by new material from lava flows and ejecta added between the dates shown above the images. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, January 2020).

On 3 Feburary 2020 the Tokyo VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery that rose to 2.1 km altitude and drifted E. The following day the Japan Coast Guard observed eruptions from the summit crater at five minute intervals that produced grayish white plumes. The plumes rose to 2.7 km altitude (figure 74). Large bombs were scattered around the pyroclastic cone, and the summit crater appeared filled with lava except for the active vent. The lava deltas on the NE flank were only active at the tips of the flows producing a few steam jets where lava entered the sea. The active flows were on the SE flank, and a new 200-m-long lava flow was flowing down the N flank of the pyroclastic cone (figure 75). The lava flowing from the E flank of the pyroclastic cone to the SE into the sea, produced larger jets of steam (figure 76). Yellow-brown discolored water appeared around the island in several places.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Ash emissions at Nishinoshima rose to 2.7 km altitude on 4 February 2020; steam jets from lava entering the ocean were active on the SE flank (far side of the island, right). Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, February 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. The lava deltas on the NE flank of Nishinoshima (bottom center) were much less active on 4 February 2020 than the lava flow and growing delta on the SE flank (left). The newest flow headed N from the summit and was 200 m long (right of center). Courtesy of JMA and the Japan Coast Guard (Volcanic activity monthly report, February 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. The most active lava flows at Nishinoshima on 4 February 2020 were on the E flank; significant steam plumes rose in multiple locations along the coast where they entered the sea. Intermittent ash plumes also rose from the summit crater. Courtesy of JMA and Japan Coast Guard (Volcanic activity monthly report, February 2020).

JAXA satellite data confirmed that the flow activity was concentrated on the NE flank and shore during the second half of January 2020, but also recorded the new flow down the SE flank that was observed by the Coast Guard in early February. By mid-February the satellite topographic data indicated the decrease in activity in the NE flank flows, the increased activity on the SE and E flank, and the extension of the flow moving due N to the coast (figure 77). Observations on 17 February 2020 by the Japan Coast Guard revealed eruptions from the summit crater every few seconds, and steam-and-ash plumes rising about 600 m. Vigorous white emissions rose from fractures near the top of the W flank of the pyroclastic cone, but thermal data indicated the area was no hotter than the surrounding area (figure 78). The lava flow on the SE coast still had steam emissions rising from the ocean entry point, but activity was weaker than on 4 February. The newest flow moving due N from the summit produced steam emissions where the flow front entered the ocean.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Constantly changing lava flows at Nishinoshima reshaped the island during late January and February 2020. During the second half of January, flows were active on the NE flank, creating deltas into the sea off the NE coast and also on the SE flank into the sea at the SE coast (left). The ‘low correlation areas’ shown in blue represent changes in topography caused by new material from lava flows and ejecta added between the dates shown above the images. By 14 February (right) activity had slowed on the NE flank and expanded on the SE flank and N flank. Data is from the Land Observing Satellite-2 "Daichi-2" (ALOS-2). Courtesy of JMA and JAXA (Volcanic activity monthly report, February 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Vigorous white emissions rose from fractures near the top of the W flank of the pyroclastic cone at Nishinoshima on 17 February 2020, but thermal data indicated the area was no hotter than the surrounding area. Courtesy of JMA and Japan Coast Guard (Volcanic activity monthly report, February 2020).

Sulfur dioxide plumes from Nishinoshima have been small and infrequent in recent years, but the renewed and increased eruptive activity beginning in December 2019 produced several small SO2 plumes that were recorded in daily satellite data (figure 79).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Small sulfur dioxide plumes from Nishinoshima were captured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5P satellite a few times during December 2019-February 2020 as the eruptive activity increased. The large red streak in the 3 February 2020 image is SO2 from an eruption of Kuchinoerabujima volcano (Ryukyu Islands) on the same day. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Simon Carn.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency-Earth Observation Research Center (JAXA-EORC), 7-44-1 Jindaiji Higashi-machi, Chofu-shi, Tokyo 182-8522, Japan (URL: http://www.eorc.jaxa.jp/); Japan Coast Guard (JCG) Volcano Database, Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department, 3-1-1, Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8932, Japan (URL: http://www.kaiho.mlit.go.jp/info/kouhou/h29/index.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); 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/); Simon Carn, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931, USA (URL: http://www.volcarno.com/, Twitter: @simoncarn).


Krakatau (Indonesia) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Tephra and steam explosions in the crater lake; explosions in December 2019 build a tephra cone

Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait between Indonesia’s Java and Sumatra Islands experienced a major caldera collapse around 535 CE; it formed a 7-km-wide caldera ringed by three islands. Remnants of this volcano joined to create the pre-1883 Krakatau Island which collapsed during the major 1883 eruption. Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau), constructed beginning in late 1927 within the 1883 caldera (BGVN 44:03, figure 56), was the site of over 40 eruptive episodes until 22 December 2018 when a large explosion and flank collapse destroyed most of the 338-m-high edifice and generated a deadly tsunami (BGVN 44:03). The near-sea level crater lake inside the remnant of Anak Krakatau was the site of numerous small steam and tephra explosions from February (BGVN 44:08) through November 2019. A larger explosion in December 2019 produced the beginnings of a new cone above the surface of crater lake. Activity from August 2019 through January 2020 is covered in this report with information provided by the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, referred to as Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG). Aviation reports are provided by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and photographs are from the PVMBG webcam and visitors to the island.

Explosions were reported on more than ten days each month from August to October 2019. They were recorded based on seismicity, but webcam images also showed black tephra and steam being ejected from the crater lake to heights up to 450 m. Activity decreased significantly after the middle of November, although smaller explosions were witnessed by visitors to the island. After a period of relative quiet, a larger series of explosions at the end of December produced ash plumes that rose up to 3 km above the crater; the crater lake was largely filled with tephra after these explosions. Thermal activity persisted throughout the period of August 2019-January 2020. The wattage of Radiative Power increased from August through mid-October, and then decreased through January 2020 (figure 96).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. Thermal activity persisted at Anak Krakatau from 20 March 2019-January 2020. The wattage of Radiative Power increased from August through mid-October, and then decreased through January 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during August-November 2019. The new profile of Anak Krakatau rose to about 155 m elevation as of August 2019, almost 100 m less than prior to the December 2018 explosions and flank collapse (figure 97). Smaller explosions continued during August 2019 and were reported by PVMBG in 12 different VONAs (Volcano Observatory Notice to Aviation) on days 1, 3, 6, 17, 19, 22, 23, 25, and 28. Most of the explosions lasted for less than two minutes, according to the seismic data. PVMBG reported steam plumes of 25-50 m height above the sea-level crater on 20 and 21 August. They reported a visible ash cloud on 22 August; it rose to an altitude of 457 m and drifted NNE according to the VONA. In their daily update, they noted that the eruption plume of 250-400 m on 22 August was white, gray, and black. The Darwin VAAC reported that the ash plume was discernable on HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery for a short period of time. PVMBG noted ten eruptions on 24 August with white, gray, and black ejecta rising 100-300 m. A webcam installed at month’s end provided evidence of diffuse steam plumes rising 25-150 m above the crater during 28-31 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Only one tree survived on the once tree-covered spit off the NE end of Sertung Island after the December 2018 tsunami from Anak Krakatau covered it with ash and debris. The elevation of Anak Krakatau (center) was about 155 m on 8 August 2019, almost 100 m less than before the explosions and flank collapse. Panjang Island is on the left, and 746-m-high Rakata, the remnant of the 1883 volcanic island, is behind Anak Krakatau on the right. Courtesy of Amber Madden-Nadeau.

VONAs were issued for explosions on 1-3, 11, 13, 17, 18, 21, 24-27 and 29 September 2019. The explosion on 2 September produced a steam plume that rose 350 m, and dense black ash and ejecta which rose 200 m from the crater and drifted N. Gray and white tephra and steam rose 450 m on 13 and 17 September; ejecta was black and gray and rose 200 m on 21 September (figure 98). During 24-27 and 29 September tephra rose at least 200 m each day; some days it was mostly white with gray, other days it was primarily gray and black. All of the ejecta plumes drifted N. On days without explosions, the webcam recorded steam plumes rising 50-150 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. Explosions of steam and dark ejecta were captured by the webcam on Anak Krakatau on 21 (left) and 26 (right) September 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia and PVMBG.

Explosions were reported daily during 12-14, 16-20, 25-27, and 29 October (figure 99). PVMBG reported eight explosions on 19 October and seven explosions the next day. Most explosions produced gray and black tephra that rose 200 m from the crater and drifted N. On many of the days an ash plume also rose 350 m from the crater and drifted N. The seismic events that accompanied the explosions varied in duration from 45 to 1,232 seconds (about 20 minutes). The Darwin VAAC reported the 12 October eruption as visible briefly in satellite imagery before dissipating near the volcano. The first of four explosions on 26 October also appeared in visible satellite imagery moving NNW for a short time. The webcam recorded diffuse steam plumes rising 25-150 m above the crater on most days during the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. A number of explosions at Anak Krakatau were captured by the webcam and visitors near the island during October 2019, shown here on the 12th, 14th, 17th, and 29th. Black and gray ejecta and steam plumes jetted several hundred meters high from the crater lake during the explosions. Webcam images courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia, with 12 October 2019 (top left) via VolcanoYT. Bottom left photo on 17 October courtesy of Christoph Sator.

Five VONAs were issued for explosions during 5-7 November, and one on 13 November 2019. The three explosions on 5 November produced 200-m-high plumes of steam and gray and black ejecta and ash plumes that rose 200, 450, and 550 m respectively; they all drifted N (figure 100). The Darwin VAAC reported ash drifting N in visible imagery for a brief period also. A 350-m-high ash plume accompanied 200-m-high ejecta on 6 November. Tephra rose 150-300 m from the crater during a 43 second explosion on 7 November. The explosion reported by PVMBG on 13 November produced black tephra and white steam 200 m high that drifted N. For the remainder of the month, when not obscured by fog, steam plumes rose daily 25-150 m from the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. PVMBG’s KAWAH webcam captured an explosion with steam and dark ejecta from the crater lake at Anak Krakatau on 5 November 2019. Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia.

A joint expedition with PVMBG and the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) installed geophysical equipment on Anak Krakatau and Rakata during 12 and 13 November 2019 (figure 101). Visitors to the island during 19-23 and 22-24 November recorded the short-lived landscape and continuing small explosions of steam and black tephra from the crater lake (figures 102 and 103).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. A joint expedition to Anak Krakatau with PVMBG and the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) installed geophysical equipment on Anak Krakatau and Rakata (background, left) during 12 and 13 November 2019. Images of the crater lake from the same spot (left) in December and January show the changes at the island (figure 108). Monitoring equipment installed near the shore sits over the many layers of ash and tephra that make up the island (right). Courtesy of Anna Perttu.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 102.The crater lake at Anak Krakatau during a 19-23 November 2019 visit was the site of continued explosions with jets of steam and tephra that rose as high as 30 m. Courtesy of Andrey Nikiforov and Volcano Discovery, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. The landscape of Anak Krakatau recorded the rapidly evolving sequence of volcanic events during November 2019. Fresh ash covered recent lava near the shoreline on 22 November 2019 (top left). Large blocks of gray tephra (composed of other tephra fragments) were surrounded by reddish brown smaller fragments in the area between the crater and the ocean on 23 November 2019 (top right). Explosions of steam and black tephra rose tens of meters from the crater lake on 23 November 2019 (bottom). Courtesy of and copyright by Pascal Blondé.

Activity during December 2019-January 2020. Very little activity was recorded for most of December 2019. The webcam captured daily images of diffuse steam plumes rising 25-50 m above the crater which occasionally rose to 150 m. A new explosion on 28 December produced black and gray ejecta 200 m high that drifted N; the explosion was similar to those reported during August-November. A new series of explosions from 30 December 2019 to 1 January 2020 produced ash plumes which rose significantly higher than the previous explosions, reaching 2.4-3.0 km altitude and drifting S, E, and SE according to PVMBG (figure 104). They were initially visible in satellite imagery and reported drifting SW by the Darwin VAAC. By 31 December meteorological clouds prevented observation of the ash plume but a hotspot remained visible for part of that day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 104.The KAWAH webcam at Anak Krakatau captured this image of incandescent ejecta exploding from the crater lake on 30 December 2019 near the start of a new sequence of large explosions. Courtesy of PVMBG and Alex Bogár.

The explosions on 30 and 31 December 2019 were captured in satellite imagery (figure 105) and appeared to indicate that the crater lake was largely destroyed and filled with tephra from a new growing cone, according to Simon Carn. This was confirmed in both satellite imagery and ground-based photography in early January (figures 106 and 107).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Satellite imagery of the explosions at Anak Krakatau on 30 and 31 December 2019 showed dense steam rising from the crater (left) and a thermal anomaly visible through moderate cloud cover (right). Left image courtesy of Simon Carn, and copyright by Planet Labs, Inc. Right image uses Atmospheric Penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8a) to show the thermal anomaly at the base of the steam plume, courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Sentinel-2 images of Anak Krakatau before (left, 21 December 2019) and after (right, 13 January 2020) explosions on 30 and 31 December 2019 show the filling in of the crater lake with new volcanic material. Natural color rendering based on bands 4,3, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. The crater lake at Anak Krakatau changed significantly between the first week of December 2019 (left) and 8 January 2020 (right) after explosions on 30 and 31 December 2019. Compare with figure 101, taken from the same location in mid-November 2019. Left image courtesy of Piotr Smieszek. Right image courtesy of Peter Rendezvous.

Steam plumes rose 50-200 m above the crater during the first week of January 2020. An explosion on 7 January produced dense gray ash that rose 200 m from the crater and drifted E. Steam plume heights varied during the second week, with some plumes reaching 300 m above the crater. Multiple explosions on 15 January produced dense, gray and black ejecta that rose 150 m. Fog obscured the crater for most of the second half of the month; for a brief period, diffuse steam plumes were observed 25-1,000 m above the crater.

General Reference: Perttu A, Caudron C, Assink J D, Metz D, Tailpied D, Perttu B, Hibert C, Nurfiani D, Pilger C, Muzli M, Fee D, Andersen O L, Taisne B, 2020, Reconstruction of the 2018 tsunamigenic flank collapse and eruptive activity at Anak Krakatau based on eyewitness reports, seismo-acoustic and satellite observations, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 541:116268. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116268.

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

Information Contacts: 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.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); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Amber Madden-Nadeau, Oxford University (URL: https://www.earth.ox.ac.uk/people/amber-madden-nadeau/, https://twitter.com/AMaddenNadeau/status/1159458288406151169); Anna Perttu, Earth Observatory of Singapore (URL: https://earthobservatory.sg/people/anna-perttu); Simon Carn, Michigan Tech University (URL: https://www.mtu.edu/geo/department/faculty/carn/; https://twitter.com/simoncarn/status/1211793124089044994); VolcanoYT, Indonesia (URL: https://volcanoyt.com/, https://twitter.com/VolcanoYTz/status/1182882409445904386/photo/1; Christoph Sator (URL: https://twitter.com/ChristophSator/status/1184713192670281728/photo/1); Tom Pfeiffer, Volcano Discovery (URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/); Pascal Blondé, France (URL: https://pascal-blonde.info/portefolio-krakatau/, https://twitter.com/rajo_ameh/status/1199219837265960960); Alex Bogár, Budapest (URL: https://twitter.com/AlexEtna/status/1211396913699991557); Piotr (Piter) Smieszek, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia (URL: http://www.lombok.pl/, https://twitter.com/piotr_smieszek/status/1204545970962231296); Peter Rendezvous (URL: https://www.facebook.com/peter.rendezvous ); Wulkany swiata, Poland (URL: http://wulkanyswiata.blogspot.com/, https://twitter.com/Wulkany1/status/1214841708862693376).


Mayotte (France) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Mayotte

France

12.83°S, 45.17°E; summit elev. 660 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity and deformation, with submarine E-flank volcanism starting in July 2018

Mayotte is a volcanic island in the Comoros archipelago between the eastern coast of Africa and the northern tip of Madagascar. A chain of basaltic volcanism began 10-20 million years ago and migrating W, making up four principal volcanic islands, according to the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) and Cesca et al. (2020). Before May 2010, only two seismic events had been felt by the nearby community within recent decades. New activity since May 2018 consists of dominantly seismic events and lava effusion. The primary source of information for this report through February 2020 comes from semi-monthly reports from the Réseau de Surveillance Volcanologique et Sismologique de Mayotte (REVOSIMA), a cooperative program between the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), the Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), and the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF-IPGP); Lemoine et al. (2019), the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), and the Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER).

Seismicity was the dominant type of activity recorded in association with a new submarine eruption. On 10 May 2018, the first seismic event occurred at 0814, detected by the YTMZ accelerometer from the French RAP Network, according to BRGM and Lemoine et al. (2019). Seismicity continued to increase during 13-15 May 2018, with the strongest recorded event for the Comoros area occurring on 15 May at 1848 and two more events on 20-21 May (figure 1). At the time, no surface effusion were directly observed; however, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) instruments were deployed to monitor any ground motion (Lemoine et al. 2019).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. A graph showing the number of daily seismic events greater than M 3.5 occurring offshore of Mayotte from 10 May 2018 through 15 February 2020. Seismicity significantly decreased in July 2018, but continued intermittently through February 2020, with relatively higher seismicity recorded in late August and mid-September 2018. Courtesy of IPGP and REVOSIMA.

Seismicity decreased dramatically after June 2018, with two spikes in August and September (see figure 1). Much of this seismicity occurred offshore 50 km E of Mayotte Island (figure 2). The École Normale Supérieure, the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF-IPGP), and the REVOSIMA August 2019 bulletin reported that measurements from the GNSS stations and Teria GPS network data indicated eastward surface deformation and subsidence beginning in July 2018. Based on this ground deformation data Lemoine et al. (2019) determined that the eruptive phase began fifty days after the initial seismic events occurred, on 3 July 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Maps of seismic activity offshore near Mayotte during May 2019. Seismic swarms occurred E of Mayotte Island (top) and continued in multiple phases through October 2019. New lava effusions were observed 50 km E of Petite Terre (bottom). Bottom image has been modified with annotations; courtesy of IPGP, BRGM, IFREMER, CNRS, and University of Paris.

Between 2 and 18 May 2019, an oceanographic campaign (MAYOBS 1) discovered a new submarine eruption site 50 km E from the island of Mayotte (figure 2). The director of IPGP, Marc Chaussidon, stated in an interview with Science Magazine that multibeam sonar waves were used to determine the elevation (800 m) and diameter (5 km) of the new submarine cone (figure 3). In addition, this multibeam sonar image showed fluid plumes within the water column rising from the center and flanks of the structure. According to REVOSIMA, these plumes rose to 1 km above the summit of the cone but did not breach the ocean surface. The seafloor image (figure 3) also indicated that as much as 5 km3 of magma erupted onto the seafloor from this new edifice during May 2019, according to Science Magazine.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Seafloor image of the submarine vent offshore of Mayotte created with multibeam sonar from 2 to 18 May 2019. The red line is the outline of the volcanic cone located at approximately 3.5 km depth. The blue-green color rising from the peak of the red outline represents fluid plumes within the water column. Courtesy of IPGP.

On 17 May 2019, a second oceanographic campaign (MAYOBS 2) discovered new lava flows located 5 km S of the new eruptive site. BRGM reported that in June a new lava flow had been identified on the W flank of the cone measuring 150 m thick with an estimated volume of 0.3 km3 (figure 4). According to REVOSIMA, the presence of multiple new lava flows would suggest multiple effusion points. Over a period of 11 months (July 2018-June 2019) the rate of lava effusion was at least 150-200 m3/s; between 18 May to 17 June 2019, 0.2 km3 of lava was produced, and from 17 June to 30 July 2019, 0.3 km3 of lava was produced. The MAYOBS 4 (19 July 2019-4 August 2019) and SHOM (20-21 August 2019) missions revealed a new lava flow formed between 31 July and 20 August to the NW of the eruptive site with a volume of 0.08 km3 and covering 3.25 km2.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Bathymetric map showing the location of the new lava flow on the W flank of the submarine cone offshore to the E of Mayotte Island. The MAYOBS 2 campaign was launched in June 2019 (left) and MAYOBS 4 was launched in late July 2019 (right). Courtesy of BRGM.

During the MAYOBS 4 campaign in late July 2019, scientists dredged the NE flank of the cone for samples and took photographs of the newly erupted lava (figure 5). Two dives found the presence of pillow lavas. When samples were brought up to the surface, they exploded due to the large amount of gas and rapid decompression.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Photographs taken using the submersible interactive camera system (SCAMPI) of newly formed pillow lavas (top) and a vesicular sample (bottom) dredged near the new submarine eruptive site at Mayotte in late July 2019. Courtesy of BRGM.

During April-May 2019 the rate of ground deformation slowed. Deflation was also observed up to 90 km E of Mayotte in late October 2019 and consistently between August 2019 and February 2020. Seismicity continued intermittently through February 2020 offshore E of Mayotte Island, though the number of detected events started to decrease in July 2018 (see figure 1). Though seismicity and deformation continued, the most recent observation of new lava flows occurred during the MAYOBS 4 and SHOM campaigns on 20 August 2019, as reported in REVOSIMA bulletins.

References: Cesca S, Heimann S, Letort J, Razafindrakoto H N T, Dahm T, Cotton F, 2020. Seismic catalogues of the 2018-2019 volcano-seismic crisis offshore Mayotte, Comoro Islands. Nat. Geosci. 13, 87-93. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-019-0505-5.

Lemoine A, Bertil D, Roulle A, Briole P, 2019. The volcano-tectonic crisis of 2018 east of Mayotte, Comoros islands. Preprint submitted to EarthArXiv, 28 February 2019. https://doi.org/10.31223/osf.io/d46xj.

Geologic Background. Mayotte, located in the Mozambique Channel between the northern tip of Madagascar and the eastern coast of Africa, consists two main volcanic islands, Grande Terre and Petite Terre, and roughly twenty islets within a barrier-reef lagoon complex (Zinke et al., 2005; Pelleter et al., 2014). Volcanism began roughly 15-10 million years ago (Pelleter et al., 2014; Nougier et al., 1986), and has included basaltic lava flows, nephelinite, tephrite, phonolitic domes, and pyroclastic deposits (Nehlig et al., 2013). Lavas on the NE were active from about 4.7 to 1.4 million years and on the south from about 7.7 to 2.7 million years. Mafic activity resumed on the north from about 2.9 to 1.2 million years and on the south from about 2 to 1.5 million years. Several pumice layers found in cores on the barrier reef-lagoon complex indicate that volcanism likely occurred less than 7,000 years ago (Zinke et al., 2003). More recent activity that began in May 2018 consisted of seismicity and ground deformation occurring offshore E of Mayotte Island (Lemoine et al., 2019). One year later, in May 2019, a new subaqueous edifice and associated lava flows were observed 50 km E of Petite Terre during an oceanographic campaign.

Information Contacts: Réseau de Surveillance Volcanologique et Sismologique de Mayotte (REVOSIMA), a cooperative program of a) Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), b) Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), c) Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF-IPGP); (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr/reseau-de-surveillance-volcanologique-sismologique-de-mayotte); Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 14 route nationale 3, 27 ème km, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr); Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), 3 avenue Claude-Guillemin, BP 36009, 45060 Orléans Cedex 2, France (URL: https://www.brgm.fr/); Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), 1625 route de Sainte-Anne, CS 10070, 29280 Plouzané, France (URL: https://wwz.ifremer.fr/); Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), 3 rue Michel-Ange, 75016 Paris, France (URL: http://www.cnrs.fr/); École Normale Supérieure, 45 rue d'Ulm, F-75230 Paris Cedex 05, France (URL: https://www.ens.psl.eu/); Université de Paris, 85 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris, France (URL: https://u-paris.fr/en/498-2/); Roland Pease, Science Magazine (URL: https://science.sciencemag.org/, article at https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/ship-spies-largest-underwater-eruption-ever) published 21 May 2019.


Fernandina (Ecuador) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Fernandina

Ecuador

0.37°S, 91.55°W; summit elev. 1476 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fissure eruption produced lava flows during 12-13 January 2020

Fernandina is a volcanic island in the Galapagos islands, around 1,000 km W from the coast of mainland Ecuador. It has produced nearly 30 recorded eruptions since 1800, with the most recent events having occurred along radial or circumferential fissures around the summit crater. The most recent previous eruption, starting on 16 June 2018, lasted two days and produced lava flows from a radial fissure on the northern flank. Monitoring and scientific reports come from the Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN).

A report from IG-EPN on 12 January 2020 stated that there had been an increase in seismicity and deformation occurring during the previous weeks. On the day of the report, 11 seismic events had occurred, with the largest magnitude of 4.7 at a depth of 5 km. Shortly before 1810 that day a circumferential fissure formed below the eastern rim of the La Cumbre crater, at about 1.3-1.4 km elevation, and produced lava flows down the flank (figure 39). A rapid-onset seismic swarm reached maximum intensity at 1650 on 12 January (figure 40); a second increase in seismicity indicating the start of the eruption began around 70 minutes later (1800). A hotspot was observed in NOAA / CIMSS data between 1800 and 1810, and a gas plume rising up to 2 km above the fissure dispersed W to NW. The eruption lasted 9 hours, until about 0300 on 13 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Lava flows erupting from a circumferential fissure on the eastern flank of Fernandina on 12 January 2020. Photos courtesy of Parque Nacional Galápagos.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Graph showing the Root-Mean-Square (RMS) amplitude of the seismic signals from the FER-1 station at Fernandina on 12-13 January 2020. The graph shows the increase in seismicity leading to the eruption on the 12th (left star), a decrease in the seismicity, and then another increase during the event (right star). Courtesy of S. Hernandez, IG-EPN (Report on 13 January 2020).

A report issued at 1159 local time on 13 January 2020 described a rapid decrease in seismicity, gas emissions, and thermal anomalies, indicating a rapid decline in eruptive activity similar to previous events in 2017 and 2018. An overflight that day confirmed that the eruption had ended, after lava flows had extended around 500 m from the crater and covered an area of 3.8 km2 (figures 41 and 42). Seismicity continued on the 14th, with small volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes occurring less than 500 m below the surface. Periodic seismicity was recorded through 13-15 January, though there was an increase in seismicity during 17-22 January with deformation also detected (figure 43). No volcanic activity followed, and no additional gas or thermal anomalies were detected.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. The lava flow extents at Fernandina of the previous two eruptions (4-7 September 2017 and 16-21 June 2018) and the 12-13 January 2020 eruption as detected by FIRMS thermal anomalies. Thermal data courtesy of NASA; figure prepared by F. Vásconez, IG-EPN (Report on 13 January 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. This fissure vent that formed on the E flank of Fernandina on 12 January 2020 produced several lava flows. A weak gas plume was still rising when this photo was taken the next day, but the eruption had ceased. Courtesy of Parque Nacional Galápagos.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Soil displacement map for Fernandina during 10 and 16 January 2020, with the deformation generated by the 12 January eruption shown. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Report on 23 January 2020).

Geologic Background. Fernandina, the most active of Galápagos volcanoes and the one closest to the Galápagos mantle plume, is a basaltic shield volcano with a deep 5 x 6.5 km summit caldera. The volcano displays the classic "overturned soup bowl" profile of Galápagos shield volcanoes. Its caldera is elongated in a NW-SE direction and formed during several episodes of collapse. Circumferential fissures surround the caldera and were instrumental in growth of the volcano. Reporting has been poor in this uninhabited western end of the archipelago, and even a 1981 eruption was not witnessed at the time. In 1968 the caldera floor dropped 350 m following a major explosive eruption. Subsequent eruptions, mostly from vents located on or near the caldera boundary faults, have produced lava flows inside the caldera as well as those in 1995 that reached the coast from a SW-flank vent. Collapse of a nearly 1 km3 section of the east caldera wall during an eruption in 1988 produced a debris-avalanche deposit that covered much of the caldera floor and absorbed the caldera lake.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos (DPNG), Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador (URL: http://www.galapagos.gob.ec/).


Masaya (Nicaragua) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

11.985°N, 86.165°W; summit elev. 594 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake persists with lower temperatures during August 2019-January 2020

Masaya is a basaltic caldera located in Nicaragua and contains the Nindirí, San Pedro, San Juan, and Santiago craters. The currently active Santiago crater hosts a lava lake, which has remained active since December 2015 (BGVN 41:08). The primary source of information for this August 2019-January 2020 report comes from the Instituto Nicareguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER) and satellite -based imagery and thermal data.

On 16 August, 13 September, and 11 November 2019, INETER took SO2 measurements by making a transect using a mobile DOAS spectrometer that sampled for gases downwind of the volcano. Average values during these months were 2,095 tons/day, 1,416 tons/day, and 1,037 tons/day, respectively. August had the highest SO2 measurements while those during September and November were more typical values.

Satellite imagery showed a constant thermal anomaly in the Santiago crater at the lava lake during August 2019 through January 2020 (figure 82). According to a news report, ash was expelled from Masaya on 15 October 2019, resulting in minor ashfall in Colonia 4 de Mayo (6 km NW). On 21 November thermal measurements were taken at the fumaroles and near the lava lake using a FLIR SC620 thermal camera (figure 83). The temperature measured 287°C, which was 53° cooler than the last time thermal temperatures were taken in May 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed the consistent presence of an active lava lake within the Santiago crater at Masaya during August 2019 through January 2020. Images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Thermal measurements taken at Masaya on 21 November 2019 with a FLIR SC620 thermal camera that recorded a temperature of 287°C. Courtesy of INETER (Boletin Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua, Noviembre, 2019).

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed intermittent low-power thermal anomalies compared to the higher-power ones before May 2019 (figure 84). The thermal anomalies were detected during August 2019 through January 2020 after a brief hiatus from early may to mid-June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Thermal anomalies occurred intermittently at Masaya during 21 February 2019 through January 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. Masaya is one of Nicaragua's most unusual and most active volcanoes. It lies within the massive Pleistocene Las Sierras caldera and is itself 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 Nindirí and Masaya cones, 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 6,500 years ago. Historical lava flows cover much of the caldera floor and there is a lake at the far eastern end. 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 have caused 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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); La Jornada (URL: https://www.lajornadanet.com/, article at https://www.lajornadanet.com/index.php/2019/10/16/volcan-masaya-expulsa-cenizas/#.Xl6f8ahKjct).


Reventador (Ecuador) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Reventador

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Nearly daily ash emissions and frequent incandescent block avalanches August 2019-January 2020

Reventador is an andesitic stratovolcano located in the Cordillera Real, Ecuador. Historical eruptions date back to the 16th century, consisting of lava flows and explosive events. The current eruptive activity has been ongoing since 2008 with previous activity including daily explosions with ash emissions, and incandescent block avalanches (BGVN 44:08). This report covers volcanism from August 2019 through January 2020 using information primarily from the Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), the Washington Volcano Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various infrared satellite data.

During August 2019 to January 2020, IG-EPN reported almost daily explosive eruptions and ash plumes. September had the highest average of explosive eruptions while January 2020 had the lowest (table 11). Ash plumes rose between a maximum of 1.2 to 2.5 km above the crater during this reporting period with the highest plume height recorded in December. The largest amount of SO2 gases produced was during the month of October with 502 tons/day. Frequently at night during this reporting period, crater incandescence was observed and was occasionally accompanied by incandescent block avalanches traveling as far as 900 m downslope from the summit of the volcano.

Table 11. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Reventador from August 2019 through January 2020. Data courtesy of IG-EPN (August to January 2020 daily reports).

Month Average Number of Explosions Max plume height above the crater Max SO2
Aug 2019 26 1.6 km --
Sep 2019 32 1.7 km 428 tons/day
Oct 2019 29 1.3 km 502 tons/day
Nov 2019 25 1.2 km 432 tons/day
Dec 2019 25 2.5 km 331 tons/day
Jan 2020 12 1.7 km --

During the month of August 2019, between 11 and 45 explosions were recorded every day, frequently accompanied by gas-and-steam and ash emissions (figure 119); plumes rose more than 1 km above the crater on nine days. On 20 August the ash plume rose to a maximum 1.6 km above the crater. Summit incandescence was seen at night beginning on 10 August, continuing frequently throughout the rest of the reporting period. Incandescent block avalanches were reported intermittently beginning that same night through 26 January 2020, ejecting material between 300 to 900 m below the summit and moving on all sides of the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 119. An ash plume rising from the summit of Reventador on 1 August 2019. Courtesy of Radio La Voz del Santuario.

Throughout most of September 2019 gas-and-steam and ash emissions were observed almost daily, with plumes rising more than 1 km above the crater on 15 days, according to IG-EPN. On 30 September, the ash plume rose to a high of 1.7 km above the crater. Each day, between 18 and 72 explosions were reported, with the latter occurring on 19 September. At night, crater incandescence was commonly observed, sometimes accompanied by incandescent material rolling down every flank.

Elevated seismicity was reported during 8-15 October 2019 and almost daily gas-and-steam and ash emissions were present, ranging up to 1.3 km above the summit. Every day during this month, between 13 and 54 explosions were documented and crater incandescence was commonly observed at night. During November 2019, gas-and-steam and ash emissions rose greater than 1 km above the crater except for 10 days; no emissions were reported on 29 November. Daily explosions ranged up to 42, occasionally accompanied by crater incandescence and incandescent ejecta.

Washington VAAC notices were issued almost daily during December 2019, reporting ash plumes between 4.6 and 6 km altitude throughout the month and drifting in multiple directions. Each day produced 5-52 explosions, many of which were accompanied by incandescent blocks rolling down all sides of the volcano up to 900 m below the summit. IG-EPN reported on 11 December that a gas-and-steam and ash emission column rose to a maximum height of 2.5 km above the crater, drifting SW as was observed by satellite images and reported by the Washington VAAC.

Volcanism in January 2020 was relatively low compared to the other months of this reporting period. Explosions continued on a nearly daily basis early in the month, ranging from 20 to 51. During 5-7 January incandescent material ejected from the summit vent moved as block avalanches downslope and multiple gas-and-steam and ash plumes were produced (figures 120, 121, and 122). After 9 January the number of explosions decreased to 0-16 per day. Ash plumes rose between 4.6 and 5.8 km altitude, according to the Washington VAAC.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 120. Night footage of activity on 5 (top) and 6 (bottom) January 2020 at the summit of Reventador, producing a dense, dark gray ash plume and ejecting incandescent material down multiple sides of the volcano. This activity is not uncommon during this reporting period. Courtesy of Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 121. An explosion at Reventador on 7 January 2020, which produced a dense gray ash plume. Courtesy of Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 122. Night footage of the evolution of an eruption on 7 January 2020 at the summit of Reventador, which produced an ash plume and ejected incandescent material down multiple sides of the volcano. Courtesy of Martin Rietze, used with permission.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed frequent and strong thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit during 21 February 2019 through January 2020 (figure 123). In comparison, the MODVOLC algorithm reported 24 thermal alerts between August 2019 and January 2020 near the summit. Some thermal anomalies can be seen in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery throughout this reporting period, even with the presence of meteorological clouds (figure 124). These thermal anomalies were accompanied by persistent gas-and-steam and ash plumes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 123. Thermal anomalies at Reventador persisted during 21 February 2019 through January 2020 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power). Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 124. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Reventador from August 2019 to January 2020 showing a thermal hotspot in the central summit crater summit. In the image on 7 January 2020, the thermal anomaly is accompanied by an ash plume. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); 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); Radio La Voz del Santuario (URL: https://www.facebook.com/Radio-La-Voz-del-Santuario-126394484061111/, posted at: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2630739100293291&id=126394484061111); Martin Rietze, Taubenstr. 1, D-82223 Eichenau, Germany (URL: https://mrietze.com/, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5LzAA_nyNWEUfpcUFOCpJw/videos).


Pacaya (Guatemala) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuous explosions, small cone, and lava flows during August 2019-January 2020

Pacaya is a highly active basaltic volcano located in Guatemala with volcanism consisting of frequent lava flows and Strombolian explosions originating in the Mackenney crater. The previous report summarizes volcanism that included multiple lava flows, Strombolian activity, avalanches, and gas-and-steam emissions (BGVN 44:08), all of which continue through this reporting period of August 2019 to January 2020. The primary source of information comes from reports by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH) in Guatemala and various satellite data.

Strombolian explosions occurred consistently throughout this reporting period. During the month of August 2019, explosions ejected material up to 30 m above the Mackenney crater. These explosions deposited material that contributed to the formation of a small cone on the NW flank of the Mackenney crater. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes rose up to 600 m above the crater drifting S and W. Multiple incandescent lava flows were observed traveling down the N and NW flanks, measuring up to 400 m long. Small to moderate avalanches were generated at the front of the lava flows, including incandescent blocks that measured up to 1 m in diameter. Occasionally incandescence was observed at night from the Mackenney crater.

In September 2019 seismicity was elevated compared to the previous month, registering a maximum of 8,000 RSAM (Realtime Seismic Amplitude Measurement) units. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes that rose up to 1 km above the crater drifted generally S as far as 3 km from the crater. Strombolian explosions continued, ejecting material up to 100 m above the crater rim. At night and during the early morning, crater incandescence was observed. Incandescent lava flows traveled as much as 600 m down the N and NW flanks toward the Cerro Chino crater (figure 116). On 21 September two lava flows descended the SW flank. Constant avalanches with incandescent blocks measuring 1 m in diameter occurred from the front of many of these lava flows.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 116. Webcam image of Pacaya on 25 September 2019 showing thermal signatures and the point of emission on the NNW flank at night using Landsat 8 (Nocturnal) imagery (left) and a daytime image showing the location of these lava effusions (right) along with gas-and-steam emissions from the active crater. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

Weak explosions continued through October 2019, ejecting material up to 75 m above the crater and building a small cone within the crater. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes rose 400-800 m above the crater, drifting W and NW and extending up to 4 km from the crater during the week of 26 October-1 November. Lava flows measuring up to 250 m long, originating from the Mackenney crater were descending the N and NW flanks (figure 117). Avalanches carrying large blocks 1 m in diameter commonly occurred at the front of these lava flows.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 117. Photo of lava flows traveling down the flanks of Pacaya taken between 28 September 2019 and 4 October. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (28 September 2019 to 4 October Weekly Report).

Continuing Strombolian explosions in November 2019 ejected material 15-75 m above the crater, which then contributed to the formation of the new cone. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes rose 100-600 m above the crater drifting in different directions and extending up to 2 km. Multiple lava flows from the Mackenney crater moving down all sides of the volcano continued, measuring 50-700 m long. Avalanches were generated at the front of the lava flows, often moving blocks as large as 1 m in diameter. The number of lava flows decreased during 2-8 November and the following week of 9-15 November no lava flows were observed, according to INSIVUMEH. During the week of 16-22 November, a small collapse occurred in the Mackenney crater and explosive activity increased during 16, 18, and 20 November, reaching RSAM units of 4,500. At night and early morning in late November crater incandescence was visible. On 24 November two lava flows descended the NW flank toward the Cerro Chino crater, measuring 100 m long.

During December 2019, much of the activity remained the same, with Strombolian explosions originating from two emission points in the Mackenney crater ejecting material 75-100 m above the crater; white and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes to 100-300 m above the crater drifted up to 1.5 km downwind to the S and SW. Lava flows descended the S and SW flanks reaching 250-600 m long (figure 118). On 29 December seismicity increased, reaching 5,000 RSAM units.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 118. Lava flows moving to the S and SW at Pacaya on 31 December 2019. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (28 December 2019 to 3 January 2020 Weekly Report).

Consistent Strombolian activity continued into January 2020 ejecting material 25-100 m above the crater. These explosions deposited material inside the Mackenney crater, contributing to the formation of a small cone. White and occasionally blue fumaroles consisting of mostly water vapor were observed drifting in different directions. At night, summit incandescence and lava flows were visible descending the N, NW, and S flanks with the flow on the NW flank traveling toward the Cerro Chino crater.

During August 2019 through January 2020, multiple lava flows and bright thermal anomalies (yellow-orange) within the crater were seen in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (figures 119 and 120). In addition, constant strong thermal anomalies were detected by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system during 21 February 2019 through January 2020 within 5 km of the summit (figure 121). A slight decrease in energy was seen from May to June and August to September. Energy increased again between November and December. According to the MODVOLC algorithm, 37 thermal alerts were recorded during August 2019 through January 2020.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 119. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya showing thermal activity (bright yellow-orange) during August 2019 to November. All images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 120. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya showing thermal activity (bright yellow-orange) during December 2019 through January 2020. All images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 121. The MIROVA thermal activity graph (log radiative power) at Pacaya during 21 February 2019 to January 2020 shows strong, frequent thermal anomalies through January with a slight decrease in energy between May 2019 to June 2019 and August 2019 to September 2019. 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/); 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).


Kikai (Japan) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kikai

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Single explosion with steam and minor ash, 2 November 2019

The 19-km-wide submerged Kikai caldera at the N end of Japan’s Ryukyu Islands was the source of one of the world's largest Holocene eruptions about 6,300 years ago, producing large pyroclastic flows and abundant ashfall. During the last century, however, only intermittent minor ash emissions have characterized activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima island, the larger subaerial fragment of the Kikai caldera; several events have included limited ashfall in communities on nearby islands. The most recent event was a single day of explosions on 4 June 2013 that produced ash plumes and minor ashfall on the flank. A minor episode of increased seismicity and fumarolic activity was reported in late March 2018, but no ash emissions were reported. A new single-day event on 2 November 2019 is described here with information provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

JMA reduced the Alert Level to 1 on 27 April 2018 after a brief increase in seismicity during March 2018 (BGVN 45:05); no significant changes in volcanic activity were observed for the rest of the year. Steam plumes rose from the summit crater to heights around 1,000 m; the highest plume rose 1,800 m. Occasional nighttime incandescence was recorded by high-sensitivity surveillance cameras. SO2 measurements made during site visits in March, April, and May indicated amounts ranging from 300-1,500 tons per day, similar to values from 2017 (400-1,000 tons per day). Infrared imaging devices indicated thermal anomalies from fumarolic activity persisted on the N and W flanks during the three site visits. A field survey of the SW flank on 25 May 2018 confirmed that the crater edge had dropped several meters into the crater since a similar survey in April 2007. Scientists on a 19 December 2018 overflight had observed fumarolic activity.

There were no changes in activity through October 2019. Weak incandescence at night continued to be periodically recorded with the surveillance cameras (figure 9). A brief eruption on 2 November 2019 at 1735 local time produced a gray-white plume that rose slightly over 1,000 m above the Iodake crater rim (figure 10). As a result, JMA raised the Alert Level from 1 to 2. During an overflight the following day, a steam plume rose a few hundred meters above the summit, but no further activity was observed. No clear traces of volcanic ash or other ejecta were found around the summit (figure 11). Infrared imaging also showed no particular changes from previous measurements. Discolored seawater continued to be observed around the base of the island in several locations.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Incandescence at night on 25 October 2019 was observed at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) with the Iwanogami webcam. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 1st year of Reiwa [2019]).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. The Iwanogami webcam captured a brief gray-white ash and steam emission rising above the Iodake crater rim on Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 2 November 2019 at 1738 local time. The plume rose slightly over 1,000 m before dissipating. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 1st year of Reiwa [2019]).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. During an overflight of Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 3 November 2019 no traces of ash were seen from the previous day’s explosion; only steam plumes rose a few hundred meters above the summit, and discolored water was present in a few places around the shoreline. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 1st year of Reiwa [2019]).

For the remainder of November 2019, steam plumes rose up to 1,300 m above the summit, and nighttime incandescence was occasionally observed in the webcam. Seismic activity remained low and there were no additional changes noted through January 2020.

Geologic Background. Kikai is a mostly submerged, 19-km-wide caldera near the northern end of the Ryukyu Islands south of Kyushu. It was the source of one of the world's largest Holocene eruptions about 6,300 years ago when rhyolitic pyroclastic flows traveled across the sea for a total distance of 100 km to southern Kyushu, and ashfall reached the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The eruption devastated southern and central Kyushu, which remained uninhabited for several centuries. Post-caldera eruptions formed Iodake lava dome and Inamuradake scoria cone, as well as submarine lava domes. Historical eruptions have occurred at or near Satsuma-Iojima (also known as Tokara-Iojima), a small 3 x 6 km island forming part of the NW caldera rim. Showa-Iojima lava dome (also known as Iojima-Shinto), a small island 2 km E of Tokara-Iojima, was formed during submarine eruptions in 1934 and 1935. Mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have occurred during the past few decades from Iodake, a rhyolitic lava dome at the eastern end of Tokara-Iojima.

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

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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

Whakaari/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/).


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

Whakaari/White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

Information Contacts: Brad Scott, Wairakei Research 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


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/).