Logo link to homepage

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

Sangay (Ecuador) Ash plumes, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars during July-December 2020; larger explosions in September

Ebeko (Russia) Continued explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall; June-November 2020

Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) Intermittent thermal anomalies and small eruptions in May and August 2020

Raung (Indonesia) Explosions with ash plumes and a thermal anomaly at the summit crater, July-October 2020

Nyamuragira (DR Congo) Numerous thermal anomalies and gas emissions from the lava lake through November 2020

Sinabung (Indonesia) Explosions begin again on 8 August 2020; dome growth confirmed in late September

Heard (Australia) Persistent thermal anomalies in the summit crater from June through October 2020

Sabancaya (Peru) Daily explosions produced ash plumes, SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies during June-September 2020

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Frequent small phreatic explosions with intermittent ash plumes during April-September 2020

Fuego (Guatemala) Daily explosions, ash emissions, and block avalanches during August-November 2020

Kikai (Japan) Explosion on 6 October 2020 and thermal anomalies in the crater

Manam (Papua New Guinea) Intermittent ash plumes, thermal anomalies, and SO2 emissions in April-September 2020



Sangay (Ecuador) — January 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Sangay

Ecuador

2.005°S, 78.341°W; summit elev. 5286 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars during July-December 2020; larger explosions in September

Sangay is one of the most active volcanoes in Ecuador with the current eruptive period continuing since 26 March 2019. Activity at the summit crater has been frequent since August 1934, with short quiet periods between events. Recent activity has included frequent ash plumes, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars. This report summarizes activity during July through December 2020, based on reports by Ecuador's Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), ash advisories issued by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), webcam images taken by Servicio Integrado de Seguridad ECU911, and various satellite data.

Overall activity remained elevated during the report period. Recorded explosions were variable during July through December, ranging from no explosions to 294 reported on 4 December (figure 80), and dispersing mostly to the W and SW. SO2 was frequently detected using satellite data (figure 81) and was reported several times to be emitting between about 770 and 2,850 tons/day. Elevated temperatures at the crater and down the SE flank were frequently observed in satellite data (figure 82), and less frequently by visual observation of incandescence. Seismic monitoring detected lahars associated with rainfall events remobilizing deposits emplaced on the flanks throughout this period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. A graph showing the daily number of explosions at Sangay recorded during July through December 2020. Several dates had no recorded explosions due to lack of seismic data. Data courtesy of IG-EPN (daily reports).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. Examples of stronger SO2 plumes from Sangay detected by the Sentinel 5P/TROPOMI instrument, with plumes from Nevado del Ruiz detected to the north. The image dates from left to right are 31 August 2020, 17 September 2020, 1 October 2020 (top row), 22 November 2020, 3 December 2020, 14 December 2020 (bottom row). Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. This log radiative power MIROVA plot shows thermal output at Sangay during February through December 2020. Activity was relatively constant with increases and decreases in both energy output and the frequency of thermal anomalies detected. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during July-August 2020. During July activity continued with frequent ash and gas emission recorded through observations when clouds weren’t obstructing the view of the summit, and Washington VAAC alerts. There were between one and five VAAC alerts issued most days, with ash plumes reaching 570 to 1,770 m above the crater and dispersing mostly W and SE, and NW on two days (figure 83). Lahar seismic signals were recorded on the 1st, 7th, three on the 13th, and one on the 19th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Gas and ash plumes at Sangay during July 2020, at 0717 on the 17th, at 1754 on the 18th, and at 0612 on the 25th. Bottom picture taken from the Macas ECU 911 webcam. All images courtesy of IG-EPN daily reports.

During August there were between one and five VAAC alerts issued most days, with ash plumes reaching 600 to 2,070 m above the crater and predominantly dispersing W, SW, and occasionally to the NE, S, and SE (figure 84). There were reports of ashfall in the Alausí sector on the 24th. Using seismic data analysis, lahar signals were identified after rainfall on 1, 7, 11-14, and 21 August. A lava flow was seen moving down the eastern flank on the night of the 15th, resulting in a high number of thermal alerts. A pyroclastic flow was reported descending the SE flank at 0631 on the 27th (figure 85).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. This 25 August 2020 PlanetScope satellite image of Sangay in Ecuador shows an example of a weak gas and ash plume dispersing to the SW. Courtesy of Planet Labs.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A pyroclastic flow descends the Sangay SE flank at 0631 on 27 August 2020. Webcam by ECU911, courtesy of courtesy of IG-EPN (27 August 2020 report).

Activity during September-October 2020. Elevated activity continued through September with two significant increases on the 20th and 22nd (more information on these events below). Other than these two events, VAAC reports of ash plumes varied between 1 and 5 issued most days, with plume heights reaching between 600 and 1,500 m above the crater. Dominant ash dispersal directions were W, with some plumes traveling SE, S, SE, NE, and NW. Lahar seismic signals were recorded after rainfall on 1, 2, 5, 8-10, 21, 24, 25, 27, and 30 September. Pyroclastic flows were reported on the 19th (figure 86), and incandescent material was seen descending the SE ravine on the 29th. There was a significant increase in thermal alerts reported throughout the month compared to the July-August period, and Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed a lava flow down the SE flank (figure 87).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Pyroclastic flows descended the flank of Sangay on 19 (top) and 20 (bottom) September 2020. Webcam images by ECU911 from the city of Macas, courtesy of IG-EPN (14 August 2018 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. The thermal signature of a lava flow is seen on SW flank of Sangay in this 8 September 2020 Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image, indicated by the white arrow. False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Starting at 0420 on the morning of 20 September there was an increase in explosions and emissions recorded through seismicity, much more energetic than the activity of previous months. At 0440 satellite images show an ash plume with an estimated height of around 7 km above the crater. The top part of the plume dispersed to the E and the rest of the plume went W. Pyroclastic flows were observed descending the SE flank around 1822 (figure 88). Ash from remobilization of deposits was reported on the 21st in the Bolívar, Chimborazo, Los Ríos, Guayas and Santa Elena provinces. Ash and gas emission continued, with plumes reaching up to 1 km above the crater. There were seven VAAC reports as well as thermal alerts issued during the day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. An eruption of Sangay on 22 September 2020 produced a pyroclastic flow down the SE flank and an ash plume that dispersed to the SW. PlanetScope satellite image courtesy of Planet Labs.

Ash plumes observed on 22 September reached around 1 km above the crater and dispersed W to NW. Pyroclastic flows were seen descending the SE flank (figure 89) also producing an ash plume. A BBC article reported the government saying 800 km2 of farmland had experienced ashfall, with Chimborazo and Bolívar being the worst affected areas (figure 90). Locals described the sky going dark, and the Guayaquil was temporarily closed. Ash plume heights during the 20-22 were the highest for the year so far (figure 91). Ash emission continued throughout the rest of the month with another increase in explosions on the 27th, producing observed ash plume heights reaching 1.5 km above the crater. Ashfall was reported in San Nicolas in the Chimborazo Province in the afternoon of the 30th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. A pyroclastic flow descending the flank of Sangay on 22 September 2020. Webcam image by ECU911 from the city of Macas, courtesy of IG-EPN (Sangay Volcano Special Report - 2020 - No 5, 22 September 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Ashfall from an eruption at Sangay on 22 September 2020 affected 800 km2 of farmland and nearby communities. Images courtesy of EPA and the Police of Ecuador via Reuters (top-right), all via the BBC.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Ash plume heights (left graph) at Sangay from January through to late September, with the larger ash plumes during 20-22 September indicated by the red arrow. The dominant ash dispersal direction is to the W (right plot) and the average speed is 10 m/s. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Sangay Volcano Special Report - 2020 - No 5, 22 September 2020).

Thermal alerts increased again through October, with a lava flow and/or incandescent material descending the SE flank sighted throughout the month (figure 92). Pyroclastic flows were seen traveling down the SE flank during an observation flight on the 6th (figure 93). Seismicity indicative of lahars was reported on 1, 12, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, and 28 October associated with rainfall remobilizing deposits. The Washington VAAC released one to five ash advisories most days, noting plume heights of 570-3,000 m above the crater; prevailing winds dispersed most plumes to the W, with some plumes drifting NW, N, E to SE, and SW. Ashfall was reported in Alausí (Chimborazo Province) on the 1st and in Chunchi canton on the 10th. SO2 was recorded towards the end of the month using satellite data, varying between about 770 and 2,850 tons on the 24th, 27th, and 29th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. A lava flow descends the SE flank of Sangay on 2 October 2020. Webcam images courtesy of ECU 911.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. A pyroclastic flow descends the Sangay SE flank was seen during an IG-EPN overflight on 6 October 2020. Photo courtesy of S. Vallejo, IG-EPN.

Activity during November-December 2020. Frequent ash emission continued through November with between one and five Washington VAAC advisories issued most days (figure 94). Reported ash and gas plume heights varied between 570 and 2,700 m above the crater, with winds dispersing plumes in all directions. Thermal anomalies were detected most days, and incandescent material from explosions was seen on the 26th. Seismicity indicating lahars was registered on nine days between 15 and 30 November, associated with rainfall events.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Examples of gas and ash plumes at Sangay during November 2020. Webcam images were published in IG-EPN daily activity reports.

Lahar signals associated with rain events continued to be detected on ten out of the first 18 days of November. Ash emissions continued through December with one to five VAAC alerts issued most days. Ash plume heights varied from 600 to 1,400 m above the crater, with the prevailing wind direction dispersing most plumes W and SW (figure 95). Thermal anomalies were frequently detected and incandescent material was observed down the SE flank on the 3rd, 14th, and 30th, interpreted as a lava flow and hot material rolling down the flank. A webcam image showed a pyroclastic flow traveling down the SE flank on the 2nd (figure 96). Ashfall was reported on the 10th in Capzol, Palmira, and Cebadas parishes, and in the Chunchi and Guamote cantons.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Examples of ash plumes at Sangay during ongoing persistent activity on 9, 10, and 23 December 2020. Webcam images courtesy of ECU 911.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. A nighttime webcam image shows a pyroclastic flow descending the SE flank of Sangay at 2308 on 2 December 2020. Image courtesy of ECU 911.

Geologic Background. The isolated Sangay volcano, located east of the Andean crest, is the southernmost of Ecuador's volcanoes and its most active. The steep-sided, glacier-covered, dominantly andesitic volcano grew within horseshoe-shaped calderas of two previous edifices, which were destroyed by collapse to the east, producing large debris avalanches that reached the Amazonian lowlands. The modern edifice dates back to at least 14,000 years ago. It towers above the tropical jungle on the east side; on the other sides flat plains of ash have been sculpted by heavy rains into steep-walled canyons up to 600 m deep. The earliest report of a historical eruption was in 1628. More or less continuous eruptions were reported from 1728 until 1916, and again from 1934 to the present. The almost constant activity has caused frequent changes to the morphology of the summit crater complex.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec); ECU911, Servicio Integrado de Seguridad ECU911, Calle Julio Endara s / n. Itchimbía Park Sector Quito – Ecuador. (URL: https://www.ecu911.gob.ec/; Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/Ecu911Macas/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); 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/); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); BBC News “In pictures: Ash covers Ecuador farming land” Published 22 September 2020 (URL: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-54247797).


Ebeko (Russia) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Ebeko

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall; June-November 2020

Volcanism at Ebeko, located on the N end of the Paramushir Island in the Kuril Islands, has been ongoing since October 2016, characterized by frequent moderate explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk (7 km ESE) (BGVN 45:05). Similar activity during this reporting period of June through November 2020 continues, consisting of frequent explosions, dense ash plumes, and occasional ashfall. Information for this report primarily comes from the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT) and satellite data.

Activity during June was characterized by frequent, almost daily explosions and ash plumes that rose to 1.6-4.6 km altitude and drifted in various directions, according to KVERT reports and information from the Tokyo VAAC advisories using HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery and KBGS (Kamchatka Branch of the Geophysical Service) seismic data. Satellite imagery showed persistent thermal anomalies over the summit crater. On 1 June explosions generated an ash plume up to 4.5 km altitude drifting E and S, in addition to several smaller ash plumes that rose to 2.3-3 km altitude drifting E, NW, and NE, according to KVERT VONA notices. Explosions on 11 June generated an ash plume that rose 2.6 km altitude and drifted as far as 85 km N and NW. Explosions continued during 21-30 June, producing ash plumes that rose 2-4 km altitude, drifting up to 5 km in different directions (figure 26); many of these eruptive events were accompanied by thermal anomalies that were observed in satellite imagery.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Photo of a dense gray ash plume rising from Ebeko on 22 June 2020. Photo by L. Kotenko (color corrected), courtesy of IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

Explosions continued in July, producing ash plumes rising 2-5.2 km altitude and drifting for 3-30 km in different directions. On 3, 6, 15 July explosions generated an ash plume that rose 3-4 km altitude that drifted N, NE, and SE, resulting in ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk. According to a Tokyo VAAC advisory, an eruption on 4 July produced an ash plume that rose up to 5.2 km altitude drifting S. On 22 July explosions produced an ash cloud measuring 11 x 13 km in size and that rose to 3 km altitude drifting 30 km SE. Frequent thermal anomalies were identified in satellite imagery accompanying these explosions.

In August, explosions persisted with ash plumes rising 1.7-4 km altitude drifting for 3-10 km in multiple directions. Intermittent thermal anomalies were detected in satellite imagery, according to KVERT. On 9 and 22 August explosions sent ash up to 2.5-3 km altitude drifting W, S, E, and SE, resulting in ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk. Moderate gas-and-steam activity was reported occasionally during the month.

Almost daily explosions in September generated dense ash plumes that rose 1.5-4.3 km altitude and drifted 3-5 km in different directions. Moderate gas-and-steam emissions were often accompanied by thermal anomalies visible in satellite imagery. During 14-15 September explosions sent ash plumes up to 2.5-3 km altitude drifting SE and NE, resulting in ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk. On 22 September a dense gray ash plume rose to 3 km altitude and drifted S. The ash plume on 26 September was at 3.5 km altitude and drifted SE (figure 27).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Photos of dense ash plumes rising from Ebeko on 22 (left) and 26 (right) September 2020. Photos by S. Lakomov (color corrected), IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

During October, near-daily ash explosions continued, rising 1.7-4 km altitude drifting in many directions. Intermittent thermal anomalies were identified in satellite imagery. During 7-8, 9-10, and 20-22 October ashfall was reported in Severo-Kurilsk.

Explosions in November produced dense gray ash plumes that rose to 1.5-5.2 km altitude and drifted as far as 5-10 km, mainly NE, SE, E, SW, and ENE. According to KVERT, thermal anomalies were visible in satellite imagery throughout the month. On clear weather days on 8 and 11 November Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed ashfall deposits SE of the summit crater from recent activity (figure 28). During 15-17 November explosions sent ash up to 3.5 km altitude drifting NE, E, and SE which resulted in ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk on 17 November. Similar ashfall was observed on 22-24 and 28 November due to ash rising to 1.8-3 km altitude (figure 29). Explosions on 29 November sent an ash plume up to 4.5 km altitude drifting E (figure 29). A Tokyo VAAC advisory reported that an ash plume drifting SSE on 30 November reached an altitude of 3-5.2 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of a gray-white gas-and-ash plume at Ebeko on 8 (left) and 11 (right) November 2020, resulting in ashfall (dark gray) to the SE of the volcano. Images using “Natural Color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Photos of continued ash explosions from Ebeko on 28 October (left) and 29 November (right) 2020. Photos by S. Lakomov (left) and L. Kotenko (right), courtesy of IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows a pulse in low-power thermal activity beginning in early June through early August (figure 30). On clear weather days, the thermal anomalies in the summit crater are observed in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery, accompanied by occasional white-gray ash plumes (figure 31). Additionally, the MODVOLC algorithm detected a single thermal anomaly on 26 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. A small pulse in thermal activity at Ebeko began in early June and continued through early August 2020, according to the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power). The detected thermal anomalies were of relatively low power but were persistent during this period. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed gray ash plumes rising from Ebeko on 11 June (top left) and 16 July (bottom left) 2020, accompanied by occasional thermal anomalies (yellow-orange) within the summit crater, as shown on 24 June (top right) and 25 August (bottom right). The ash plume on 11 June drifted N from the summit. Images using “Natural Color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) on 11 June (top left) and 16 July (bottom left) and the rest have “Atmospheric penetration” rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Kamchatka Branch of the Geophysical Service, Russian Academy of Sciences (KB GS RAS) (URL: http://www.emsd.ru/); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) — November 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kuchinoerabujima

Japan

30.443°N, 130.217°E; summit elev. 657 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent thermal anomalies and small eruptions in May and August 2020

Kuchinoerabujima encompasses a group of young stratovolcanoes located in the northern Ryukyu Islands. All historical eruptions have originated from the Shindake cone, with the exception of a lava flow that originated from the S flank of the Furudake cone. The current eruptive period began in January 2020 and has been characterized by small explosions, ash plumes, ashfall, a pyroclastic flow, and gas-and-steam emissions. This report covers activity from May to October 2020, which includes small explosions, ash plumes, crater incandescence, and gas-and-steam emissions. The primary source of information for this report comes from monthly and annual reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and advisories from the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Volcanism at Kuchinoerabujima remained relatively low during May through October 2020, according to JMA. During this time, SO2 emissions ranged from 40 to 3,400 tons/day; occasional gas-and-steam emissions were reported, rising to a maximum of 900 m above the crater. Sentinel-2 satellite images showed a particularly strong thermal anomaly in the Shindake crater on 1 May (figure 10). The thermal anomaly decreased in power after 1 May and was only visible on clear weather days, which included 19 August and 3 and 13 October. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) observations identified continued slight inflation at the base of the volcano during the entire reporting period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed a strong thermal anomaly (bright yellow-orange) in the Shindake crater at Kuchinoerabujima on 1 May 2020 (top left). Weaker thermal anomalies were also seen in the Shindake crater during 19 August (top right) and 3 (bottom left) and 13 (bottom right) October 2020. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Three small eruptions were detected by JMA on 5, 6, and 13 May, which produced an ash plume rising 500 m above the crater on each day, resulting in ashfall on the downwind flanks. Incandescence was observed at night using a high-sensitivity surveillance camera (figure 11). On 5 and 13 May the Tokyo VAAC released a notice that reported ash plumes rising 0.9-1.2 km altitude, drifting NE and S, respectively. On 20 May weak fumaroles were observed on the W side of the Shindake crater. The SO2 emissions ranged from 700-3,400 tons/day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Webcam images of an eruption at Kuchinoerabujima on 6 May 2020 (top), producing a gray ash plume that rose 500 m above the crater. Crater incandescence was observed from the summit crater at night on 25 May 2020 (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (Monthly bulletin report 509, May 2020).

Activity during June and July decreased compared to May, with gas-and-steam emissions occurring more prominently. On 22 June weak incandescence was observed, accompanied by white gas-and-steam emissions rising 700 m above the crater. Weak crater incandescence was also seen on 25 June. The SO2 emissions measured 400-1,400 tons/day. White gas-and-steam emissions were again observed on 31 July rising to 800 m above the crater. The SO2 emissions had decreased during this time to 300-700 tons/day.

According to JMA, the most recent eruptive event occurred on 29 August at 1746, which ejected bombs and was accompanied by some crater incandescence, though the eruptive column was not visible due to the cloud cover. However, white gas-and-steam emissions could be seen rising 1.3 km above the Shindake crater drifting SW. The SO2 emissions measured 200-500 tons/day. During August, the number of volcanic earthquakes increased significantly to 1,032, compared to the number in July (36).

The monthly bulletin for September reported white gas-and-steam emissions rising 900 m above the crater on 9 September and on 11 October the gas-and-steam emissions rose 600 m above the crater. Seismicity decreased between September and October from 1,920 to 866. The SO2 emissions continued to decrease compared to previous months, totaling 80-400 tons/day in September and 40-300 tons/day in October.

Geologic Background. A group of young stratovolcanoes forms the eastern end of the irregularly shaped island of Kuchinoerabujima in the northern Ryukyu Islands, 15 km W of Yakushima. The Furudake, Shindake, and Noikeyama cones were erupted from south to north, respectively, forming a composite cone with multiple craters. All historical eruptions have occurred from Shindake, although a lava flow from the S flank of Furudake that reached the coast has a very fresh morphology. Frequent explosive eruptions have taken place from Shindake since 1840; the largest of these was in December 1933. Several villages on the 4 x 12 km island are located within a few kilometers of the active crater and have suffered damage from eruptions.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Raung (Indonesia) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Raung

Indonesia

8.119°S, 114.056°E; summit elev. 3260 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions with ash plumes and a thermal anomaly at the summit crater, July-October 2020

A massive stratovolcano in easternmost Java, Raung has over sixty recorded eruptions dating back to the late 16th Century. Explosions with ash plumes, Strombolian activity, and lava flows from a cinder cone within the 2-km-wide summit crater have been the most common activity. Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM) has installed webcams to monitor activity in recent years. An eruption from late 2014 through August 2015 produced a large volume of lava within the summit crater and formed a new pyroclastic cone in the same location as the previous one. The eruption that began in July 2020 is covered in this report with information provided by PVMBG, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and several sources of satellite data.

The 2015 eruption was the largest in several decades; Strombolian activity was reported for many months and fresh lava flows covered the crater floor (BGVN 45:09). Raung was quiet after the eruption ended in August of that year until July of 2020 when seismicity increased on 13 July and brown emissions were first reported on 16 July. Tens of explosions with ash emissions were reported daily during the remainder of July 2020. Explosive activity decreased during August, but thermal activity didn’t decrease until mid-September. The last ash emissions were reported on 3 October and the last thermal anomaly in satellite data was recorded on 7 October 2020.

Eruption during July-October 2020. No further reports of activity were issued after August 2015 until July 2020. Clear Google Earth imagery from October 2017 and April 2018 indicated the extent of the lava from the 2015 eruption, but no sign of further activity (figure 31). By August 2019, many features from the 2015 eruption were still clearly visible from the crater rim (figure 32).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Little change can be seen at the summit of Raung in Google Earth images dated 19 October 2017 (left) and 28 April 2018 (right). The summit crater was full of black lava flows from the 2015 eruption. Courtesy of Google Earth.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. A Malaysian hiker celebrated his climbing to the summit of Raung on 30 August 2019. Weak fumarolic activity was visible from the base of the breached crater of the cone near the center of the summit crater, and many features of the lava flow that filled the crater in 2015 were still well preserved. Courtesy of MJ.

PVMBG reported that the number and type of seismic events around the summit of Raung increased beginning on 13 July 2020, and on 16 July the height of the emissions from the crater rose to 100 m and the emission color changed from white to brown. About three hours later the emissions changed to gray and white. The webcams captured emissions rising 50-200 m above the summit that included 60 explosions of gray and reddish ash plumes (figure 33). The Raung Volcano Observatory released a VONA reporting an explosion with an ash plume that drifted N at 1353 local time (0653 UTC). The best estimate of the ash cloud height was 3,432 m based on ground observation. They raised the Aviation Color Code from unassigned to Orange. About 90 minutes later they reported a second seismic event and ash cloud that rose to 3,532 m, again based on ground observation. The Darwin VAAC reported that neither ash plume was visible in satellite imagery. The following day, on 17 July, PVMBG reported 26 explosions between midnight and 0600 that produced brown ash plumes which rose 200 m above the crater. Based on these events, PVMBG raised the Alert Level of Raung from I (Normal) to II (Alert) on a I-II-III-IV scale. By the following day they reported 95 explosive seismic events had occurred. They continued to observe gray ash plumes rising 100-200 m above the summit on clear days and 10-30 daily explosive seismic events through the end of July; plume heights dropped to 50-100 m and the number of explosive events dropped below ten per day during the last few days of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. An ash plume rose from the summit of Raung on 16 July 2020 at the beginning of a new eruption. The last previous eruption was in 2015. Courtesy of Volcano Discovery and PVMBG.

After a long period of no activity, MIROVA data showed an abrupt return to thermal activity on 16 July 2020; a strong pulse of heat lasted into early August before diminishing (figure 34). MODVOLC thermal alert data recorded two alerts each on 18 and 20 July, and one each on 21 and 30 July. Satellite images showed no evidence of thermal activity inside the summit crater from September 2015 through early July 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery first indicated a strong thermal anomaly inside the pyroclastic cone within the crater on 19 July 2020; it remained on 24 and 29 July (figure 35). A small SO2 signature was measured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite on 25 July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. MIROVA thermal anomaly data indicated renewed activity on 16 July 2020 at Raung as seen in this graph of activity from 13 October 2019 through September 2020. Satellite images indicated that the dark lines at the beginning of the graph are from a large area of fires that burned on the flank of Raung in October 2019. Heat flow remained high through July and began to diminish in mid-August 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Thermal anomalies were distinct inside the crater of the pyroclastic cone within the summit crater of Raung on 19, 24, and 29 July 2020. Data is from the Sentinel-2 satellite shown with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

After an explosion on 1 August 2020 emissions from the crater were not observed again until steam plumes were seen rising 100 m on 7 August. They were reported rising 100-200 m above the summit intermittently until a dense gray ash plume was reported by PVMBG on 11 August rising 200 m. After that, diffuse steam plumes no more than 100 m high were reported for the rest of the month except for white to brown emissions to 100 m on 21 August. Thermal anomalies of a similar brightness to July from the same point within the summit crater were recorded in satellite imagery on 3, 8, 13, 18, and 23 August. Single MODVOLC thermal alerts were reported on 1, 8, 12, and 19 August.

In early September dense steam plumes rose 200 m above the crater a few times but were mostly 50 m high or less. White and gray emissions rose 50-300 m above the summit on 15, 20, 27, and 30 September. Thermal anomalies were still present in the same spot in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 2, 7, 12, 17, and 27 September, although the signal was weaker than during July and August (figure 36). PVMBG reported gray emissions rising 100-300 m above the summit on 1 October 2020 and two seismic explosion events. Gray emissions rose 50-200 m the next day and nine explosions were recorded. On 3 October, emissions were still gray but only rose 50 m above the crater and no explosions were reported. No emissions were observed from the summit crater for the remainder of the month. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed a hot spot within the summit crater on 2 and 7 October, but clear views of the crater on 12, 17, and 22 October showed no heat source within the crater (figure 37).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. The thermal anomaly at Raung recorded in Sentinel-2 satellite data decreased in intensity between August and October 2020. It was relatively strong on 13 August (left) but had decreased significantly by 12 September (middle) and remained at a lower level into early October (right). Data shown with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. A small but distinct thermal anomaly was still present within the pyroclastic cone inside the summit crater of Raung on 7 October 2020 (left) but was gone by 12 October (middle) and did not reappear in subsequent clear views of the crater through the end of October. Satellite imagery of 7 and 12 October processed with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Natural color rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) from 17 October (right) shows no clear physical changes to the summit crater during the latest eruption. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Raung, one of Java's most active volcanoes, is a massive stratovolcano in easternmost Java that was constructed SW of the rim of Ijen caldera. The unvegetated summit is truncated by a dramatic steep-walled, 2-km-wide caldera that has been the site of frequent historical eruptions. A prehistoric collapse of Gunung Gadung on the W flank produced a large debris avalanche that traveled 79 km, reaching nearly to the Indian Ocean. Raung contains several centers constructed along a NE-SW line, with Gunung Suket and Gunung Gadung stratovolcanoes being located to the NE and W, respectively.

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/); 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/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); 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/); Google Earth (URL: https://www.google.com/earth/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Tom Pfeiffer, Volcano Discovery (URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/); MJ (URL: https://twitter.com/MieJamaludin/status/1167613617191043072).


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

Nyamuragira

DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E; summit elev. 3058 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Numerous thermal anomalies and gas emissions from the lava lake through November 2020

Nyamuragira (also known as Nyamulagira) is a shield volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with a 2 x 2.3 km caldera at the summit. A summit crater lies in the NE part of the caldera. In the recent past, the volcano has been characterized by intra-caldera lava flows, lava emissions from its lava lake, thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam emissions, and moderate seismicity (BGVN 44:12, 45:06). This report reviews activity during June-November 2020, based on satellite data.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed numerous thermal anomalies associated with the volcano during June-November 2020, although some decrease was noted during the last half of August and between mid-October to mid-November (figure 91). Between six and seven thermal hotspots per month were identified by MODVOLC during June-November 2020, with as many as 4 pixels on 11 August. In the MODVOLC system, two main hotspot groupings are visible, the largest being at the summit crater, on the E side of the caldera.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. MIROVA graph of thermal activity (log radiative power) at Nyamuragira during March 2020-January 2021. During June-November 2020, most were in the low to moderate range, with a decrease in power during November. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Sentinel-2 satellite images showed several hotspots in the summit crater throughout the reporting period (figure 92). By 26 July and thereafter, hotspots were also visible in the SW portion of the caldera, and perhaps just outside the SW caldera rim. Gas-and-steam emissions from the lava lake were also visible throughout the period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. Sentinel-2 satellite images of Nyamuragira on 26 July (left) and 28 November (right) 2020. Thermal activity is present at several locations within the summit crater (upper right of each image) and in the SW part of the caldera (lower left). SWIR rendering (bands 12, 8A, 4). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Africa's most active volcano, Nyamuragira, is a massive high-potassium basaltic shield about 25 km N of Lake Kivu. Also known as Nyamulagira, it has generated extensive lava flows that cover 1500 km2 of the western branch of the East African Rift. The broad low-angle shield volcano contrasts dramatically with the adjacent steep-sided Nyiragongo to the SW. The summit is truncated by a small 2 x 2.3 km caldera that has walls up to about 100 m high. Historical eruptions have occurred within the summit caldera, as well as from the numerous fissures and cinder cones on the flanks. A lava lake in the summit crater, active since at least 1921, drained in 1938, at the time of a major flank eruption. Historical lava flows extend down the flanks more than 30 km from the summit, reaching as far as Lake Kivu.

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/exp).


Sinabung (Indonesia) — November 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Sinabung

Indonesia

3.17°N, 98.392°E; summit elev. 2460 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions begin again on 8 August 2020; dome growth confirmed in late September

Indonesia’s Sinabung volcano in north Sumatra has been highly active since its first confirmed Holocene eruption during August and September 2010. It remained quiet after the initial eruption until September 2013, when a new eruptive phase began that continued through June 2018. A summit dome emerged in late 2013 and produced a large lava “tongue” during 2014. Multiple explosions produced ash plumes, block avalanches, and deadly pyroclastic flows during the eruptive period. A major explosion in February 2018 destroyed most of the summit dome. After a pause in eruptive activity from September 2018 through April 2019, explosions resumed during May and June 2019. The volcano was quiet again until an explosion on 8 August 2020 began another eruption that included a new dome. This report covers activity from July 2019 through October 2020 with information provided by Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), referred to by some agencies as CVGHM or the Indonesian Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and the Badan Nacional Penanggulangan Bencana (National Disaster Management Authority, BNPB). Additional information comes from satellite instruments and local news reports.

Only steam plumes and infrequent lahars were reported at Sinabung during July 2019-July 2020. A new eruption began on 8 August 2020 with a phreatic explosion and dense ash plumes. Repeated explosions were reported throughout August; ashfall was reported in many nearby communities several times. Explosions decreased significantly during September, but SO2 emissions persisted. Block avalanches from a new growing dome were first reported in early October; pyroclastic flows accompanied repeated ash emissions during the last week of the month. Thermal data suggested that the summit dome continued growing slowly during October.

Activity during July 2019-October 2020. After a large explosion on 9 June 2019, activity declined significantly, and no further emissions or incandescence was reported after 25 June (BGVN 44:08). For the remainder of 2019 steam plumes rose 50-400 m above the summit on most days, occasionally rising to 500-700 m above the crater. Lahars were recorded by seismic instruments in July, August, September, and December. During January-July 2020 steam plumes were reported usually 50-300 m above the summit, sometimes rising to 500 m. On 21 March 2020 steam plumes rose to 700 m, and a lahar was recorded by seismic instruments. Lahars were reported on 26 and 28 April, 3 and 5 June, and 11 July.

A swarm of deep volcanic earthquakes was reported by PVMBG on 7 August 2020. This was followed by a phreatic explosion with a dense gray to black ash plume on 8 August that rose 2,000 m above the summit and drifted E; a second explosion that day produced a plume that rose 1,000 m above the summit. According to the Jakarta Post, ash reached the community of Berastagi (15 km E) along with the districts of Naman Teran (5-10 km NE), Merdeka (15 km NE), and Dolat Rayat (20 km E). Continuous tremor events were first recorded on 8 August and continued daily until 26 August. Two explosions were recorded on 10 August; the largest produced a dense gray ash plume that rose 5,000 m above the summit and drifted NE and SE (figure 77). The Darwin VAAC reported the eruption clearly visible in satellite imagery at 9.7 km altitude and drifting W. Later they reported a second plume drifting ESE at 4.3 km altitude. After this large explosion the local National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) reported significant ashfall in three districts: Naman Teran, Berastagi and Merdeka. Emissions on 11 and 12 August were white and gray and rose 100-200 m. Multiple explosions on 13 August produced white and gray ash plumes that rose 1,000-2,000 m above the summit. Explosions on 14 August produced gray and brown ash plumes that rose 1,000-4,200 m above the summit and drifted S and SW (figure 77). The Darwin VAAC reported that the ash plume was partly visible in satellite imagery at 7.6 km altitude moving W; additional plumes were moving SE at 3.7 km altitude and NE at 5.5 km altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Numerous explosions were recorded at Sinabung during August 2020. An ash plume rose to 5,000 m above the summit on 10 August (left) and drifted both NE and SE. On 14 August gray and brown ash plumes rose 1,000-4,200 m above the summit and drifted S, SW, SE and NE (right) while ashfall covered crops SE of the volcano. Courtesy of PVMBG (Sinabung Eruption Notices, 10 and 14 August 2020).

White, gray, and brown emissions rose 800-1,000 m above the summit on 15 and 17 August. The next day white and gray emissions rose 2,000 m above the summit. The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume visible at 5.2 km altitude drifting SW. A large explosion on 19 August produced a dense gray ash plume that rose 4,000 above the summit and drifted S and SW. Gray and white emissions rose 500 m on 20 August. Two explosions were recorded seismically on 21 August, but rainy and cloudy weather prevented observations. White steam plumes rose 300 m on 22 August, and a lahar was recorded seismically. On 23 August, an explosion produced a gray ash plume that rose 1,500 m above the summit and pyroclastic flows that traveled 1,000 m down the E and SE flanks (figure 78). Continuous tremors were accompanied by ash emissions. White, gray, and brown emissions rose 600 m on 24 August. An explosion on 25 August produced an ash plume that rose 800 m above the peak and drifted W and NW (figure 79). During 26-30 August steam emissions rose 100-400 m above the summit and no explosions were recorded. Dense gray ash emissions rose 1,000 m and drifted E and NE after an explosion on 31 August. Significant SO2 emissions were associated with many of the explosions during August (figure 80).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. On 23 August 2020 an explosion at Sinabung produced a gray ash plume that rose 1,500 m above the summit and produced pyroclastic flows that traveled 1,000 m down the E and SE flanks. Courtesy of PVMBG (Sinabung Eruption Notice, 23 August 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. An explosion on 25 August 2020 at Sinabung produced an ash plume that rose 800 m above the peak and drifted W and NW. Courtesy of PVMBG (Sinabung Eruption Notice, 25 August 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Significant sulfur dioxide emissions were measured at Sinabung during August 2020 when near-daily explosions produced abundant ash emissions. A small plume was also recorded from Kerinci on 19 August 2020. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Explosive activity decreased substantially during September 2020. A single explosion reported on 5 September produced a white and brown ash plume that rose 800 m above the summit and drifted NNE. During the rest of the month steam emissions rose 50-500 m above the summit before dissipating. Two lahars were reported on 7 September, and one each on 11 and 30 September. Although only a single explosion was reported, anomalous SO2 emissions were present in satellite data on several days.

The character of the activity changed during October 2020. Steam plumes rising 50-300 m above the summit were reported during the first week and a lahar was recorded by seismometers on 4 October. The first block avalanches from a new dome growing at the summit were reported on 8 October with material traveling 300 m ESE from the summit (figure 81). During 11-13 October block avalanches traveled 300-700 m E and SE from the summit. They traveled 100-150 m on 14 October. Steam plumes rising 50-500 m above the summit were reported during 15-22 October with two lahars recorded on 21 October. White and gray emissions rose 50-1,000 m on 23 October. The first of a series of pyroclastic flows was reported on 25 October; they were reported daily through the end of the month when the weather permitted, traveling 1,000-2,500 m from the summit (figure 82). In addition, block avalanches from the growing dome were observed moving down the E and SE flanks 500-1,500 m on 25 October and 200-1,000 m each day during 28-31 October (figure 83). Sentinel-2 satellite data indicated a very weak thermal anomaly at the summit in late September; it was slightly larger in late October, corroborating with images of the slow-growing dome (figure 84).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. A new lava dome appeared at the summit of Sinabung in late September 2020. Block avalanches from the dome were first reported on 8 October. Satellite imagery indicating a thermal anomaly at the summit was very faint at the end of September and slightly stronger by the end of October. The dome grew slowly between 30 September (top) and 22 October 2020 (bottom). Photos taken by Firdaus Surbakti, courtesy of Rizal.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. Pyroclastic flows at Sinabung were accompanied ash emissions multiple times during the last week of October, including the event seen here on 27 October 2020. Courtesy of PVMBG and CultureVolcan.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Block avalanches from the growing summit dome at Sinabung descended the SE flank on 28 October 2020. The dome is visible at the summit. Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. A very faint thermal anomaly appeared at the summit of Sinabung in Sentinel 2 satellite imagery on 28 September 2020 (left). One month later on 28 October the anomaly was bigger, corroborating photographic evidence of the growing dome. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Gunung Sinabung is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano with many lava flows on its flanks. The migration of summit vents along a N-S line gives the summit crater complex an elongated form. The youngest crater of this conical andesitic-to-dacitic edifice is at the southern end of the four overlapping summit craters. The youngest deposit is a SE-flank pyroclastic flow 14C dated by Hendrasto et al. (2012) at 740-880 CE. An unconfirmed eruption was noted in 1881, and solfataric activity was seen at the summit and upper flanks in 1912. No confirmed historical eruptions were recorded prior to explosive eruptions during August-September 2010 that produced ash plumes to 5 km above the summit.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38, East Jakarta 13120, Indonesia (URL: http://www.bnpb.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); 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/); The Jakarta Post, 3rd Floor, Gedung, Jl. Palmerah Barat 142-143 Jakarta 10270 (URL: https://www.thejakartapost.com/amp/news/2020/08/08/mount-sinabung-erupts-again-after-year-of-inactivity.html);Rizal (URL: https://twitter.com/Rizal06691023/status/1319452375887740930); CultureVolcan (URL: https://twitter.com/CultureVolcan/status/1321156861173923840).


Heard (Australia) — November 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Heard

Australia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Persistent thermal anomalies in the summit crater from June through October 2020

The remote Heard Island is located in the southern Indian Ocean and contains the Big Ben stratovolcano, which has had intermittent activity since 1910. The island’s activity, characterized by thermal anomalies and occasional lava flows (BGVN 45:05), is primarily monitored by satellite instruments. This report updates activity from May through October 2020 using information from satellite-based instruments.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed frequent thermal activity in early June that continued through July (figure 43). Intermittent, slightly higher-power thermal anomalies were detected in late August through mid-October, the strongest of which occurred in October. Two of these anomalies were also detected in the MODVOLC algorithm on 12 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. A small pulse in thermal activity at Heard was detected in early June and continued through July 2020, according to the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power). Thermal anomalies appeared again starting in late August and continued intermittently through mid-October 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed a single thermal anomaly on 3 May. In comparison to the MIROVA graph, satellite imagery showed a small pulse of strong thermal activity at the summit of Big Ben in June (figure 44). Some of these thermal anomalies were accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Persistent strong thermal activity continued through July. Starting on 2 July through at least 17 July two hotspots were visible in satellite imagery: one in the summit crater and one slightly to the NW of the summit (figure 45). Some gas-and-steam emissions were seen rising from the S hotspot in the summit crater. In August the thermal anomalies had decreased in strength and frequency but persisted at the summit through October (figure 45).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Thermal satellite images of Heard Island’s Big Ben volcano showed strong thermal signatures (bright yellow-orange) sometimes accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions drifting SE (top left) and NE (bottom right) during June 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Thermal satellite images of Heard Island’s Big Ben volcano showed persistent thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) near the summit during July through October 2020. During 14 (top left) and 17 (top right) July a second hotspot was visible NW of the summit. By 22 October (bottom right) the thermal anomaly had significantly decreased in strength in comparison to previous months. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: 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).


Sabancaya (Peru) — October 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Sabancaya

Peru

15.787°S, 71.857°W; summit elev. 5960 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Daily explosions produced ash plumes, SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies during June-September 2020

Sabancaya, located in Peru, is a stratovolcano that has been very active since 1986. The current eruptive period began in November 2016 and has recently been characterized by lava dome growth, daily explosions, ash plumes, ashfall, SO2 plumes, and ongoing thermal anomalies (BGVN 45:06). Similar activity continues into this reporting period of June through September 2020 using information from weekly reports from the Observatorio Vulcanologico INGEMMET (OVI), the Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP), and various satellite data. The Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) issued a total of 520 reports of ongoing ash emissions during this time.

Volcanism during this reporting period consisted of daily explosions, nearly constant gas-and-ash plumes, SO2 plumes, and persistent thermal anomalies in the summit crater. Gas-and-ash plumes rose to 1.5-4 km above the summit crater, drifting up to 35 km from the crater in multiple directions; several communities reported ashfall every month except for August (table 7). Sulfur dioxide emissions were notably high and recorded almost daily with the TROPOMI satellite instrument (figure 83). The satellite measurements of the SO2 emissions exceeded 2 DU (Dobson Units) at least 20 days each month of the reporting period. These SO2 plumes sometimes persisted over multiple days and ranged between 1,900-10,700 tons/day. MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows frequent thermal activity through September within 5 km of the summit crater, though the power varied; by late August, the thermal anomalies were stronger compared to the previous months (figure 84). This increase in power is also reflected by the MODVOLC algorithm that detected 11 thermal anomalies over the days of 31 August and 4, 6, 13, 17, 18, 20, and 22 September 2020. Many of these thermal hotspots were visible in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery, occasionally accompanied by gas-and-steam and ash plumes (figure 85).

Table 7. Persistent activity at Sabancaya during June through September included multiple daily explosions that produced ash plumes rising several kilometers above the summit and drifting in multiple directions; this resulted in ashfall in communities within 35 km of the volcano. Satellite instruments recorded daily SO2 emissions. Data courtesy of OVI-INGEMMET, IGP, and the NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Month Avg. daily explosions by week Max plume heights (km above the crater) Plume drift (km) and direction Communities reporting ashfall Minimum days with SO2 over 2 DU SO2 emissions per day (tons) by week
Jun 2020 20, 10, 9, 13 1.5-4 30 km, SE, S, SW, NE, W, E Chivay, Achoma, Ichupampa, Yanque, and Coporaque, Sallali, Madrigal, Lari, and Ichupampa 28 8,400, 2,200, 3,100, 7,600
Jul 2020 20, 15, 11, 12, 19 2-2.6 15-30 km E, NE, NW, SE, SW, S, W Achoma and Chivay 23 4,400, 6,000, 1,900, 2,100, 5,900
Aug 2020 18, 12, 9, 29 1.7-3.6 20-30 km W, SW, SE, S, E, NW - 20 2,300, 3,800, 5,300, 10,700
Sep 2020 39, 35, 33, 38, 40 1.8-3.5 25-35 km SE, S, SW, W, E, NE, N, NW, W Lari, Achoma, Maca, Chivay, Taya, Huambo, Huanca, and Lluta 28 9,700, 2,600, 8,800, 7,800, 4,100
Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Sulfur dioxide plumes were captured almost daily from Sabancaya during June through September 2020 by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite. Some of the largest SO2 plumes occurred on 19 June (top left), 5 July (top right), 30 August (bottom left), and 10 September (bottom right) 2020. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Thermal activity at Sabancaya varied in power from 13 October 2019 through September 2020, but was consistent in frequency, according to the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power). A pulse in thermal activity is shown in late August 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed frequent gas-and-steam and ash plumes rising from Sabancaya, accompanied by ongoing thermal activity from the summit crater during June through September 2020. On 23 June (top left) a dense gray-white ash plume was visible drifting E from the summit. On 3 July (top right) and 27 August (bottom left) a strong thermal hotspot (bright yellow-orange) was accompanied by some degassing. On 1 September (bottom right) the thermal anomaly persisted with a dense gray-white ash plume drifting SE from the summit. Images using “Natural Color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) on 23 June 2020 (top left) and the rest have “Atmospheric penetration” rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

OVI detected slight inflation on the N part of the volcano, which continued to be observed throughout the reporting period. Persistent thermal anomalies caused by the summit crater lava dome were observed in satellite data. The average number of daily explosions during June ranged from 18 during 1-7 June to 9 during 15-21 June, which generated gas-and-ash plumes that rose 1.5-4 km above the crater and drifted 30 km SE, S, SW, NE, W, and E (figure 86). The strongest sulfur dioxide emissions were recorded during 1-7 June measuring 8,400 tons/day. On 20 June drone video showed that the lava dome had been destroyed, leaving blocks on the crater floor, though the crater remained hot, as seen in thermal satellite imagery (figure 85). During 22-28 June there were an average of 13 daily explosions, which produced ash plumes rising to a maximum height of 4 km, drifting NE, E, and SE. As a result, ashfall was reported in the districts of Chivay, Achoma, Ichupampa, Yanque, and Coporaque, and in the area of Sallali. Then, on 27 June ashfall was reported in several areas NE of the volcano, which included the districts of Madrigal, Lari, Achoma, Ichupampa, Yanque, Chivay, and Coporaque.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Multiple daily explosions at Sabancaya produced ash plumes that rose 1.5-4 km above the crater during June 2020. Images are showing 8 (left) and 27 (right) June 2020. Courtesy of OVI (Reporte Semanal de Monitorio de la Actividad de la Volcan Sabancaya, RSSAB-24-2020/INGEMMET Semana del 08 al 14 de junio del 2020 and RSSAB-26-2020/INGEMMET Semana del 22 al 28 de junio del 2020).

Slight inflation continued to be monitored in July, occurring about 4-6 km N of the crater, as well as on the SE flank. Daily explosions continued, producing gas-and-ash plumes that rose 2-2.6 km above the crater and drifting 15-30 km E, NE, NW, SE, SW, S, and W (figure 87). The number of daily explosions increased slightly compared to the previous month, ranging from 20 during 1-5 July to 11 during 13-19 July. SO2 emissions that were measured each week ranged from 1,900 to 6,000 tons/day, the latter of which occurred during 6-12 July. Thermal anomalies continued to be observed in thermal satellite data over the summit crater throughout the month. During 6-12 July gas-and-ash plumes rose 2.3-2.5 km above the crater, drifting 30 km SE, E, and NE, resulting in ashfall in Achoma and Chivay.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Multiple daily explosions at Sabancaya produced ash plumes that rose 2-3.5 km above the crater during July 2020. Images are showing 7 (left) and 26 (right) July 2020. Courtesy of OVI (Reporte Semanal de Monitorio de la Actividad de la Volcan Sabancaya, RSSAB-28-2020/INGEMMET Semanal: del 06 al 12 de julio del 2020 and RSSAB-30-2020/INGEMMET Semanal: del 20 al 26 de julio del 2020).

OVI reported continued slight inflation on the N and SE flanks during August. Daily explosive activity had slightly declined in the first part of the month, ranging from 18 during the 3-9 August to 9 during 17-23 August. Dense gray gas-and-ash plumes rose 1.7-3.6 km above the crater, drifting 20-30 km in various directions (figure 88), though no ashfall was reported. Thermal anomalies were observed using satellite data throughout the month. During 24-30 August a pulse in activity increased the daily average of explosions to 29, as well as the amount of SO2 emissions (10,700 tons/day); nighttime incandescence accompanied this activity. During 28-29 August higher levels of seismicity and inflation were reported compared to the previous weeks. The daily average of explosions increased again during 31 August-6 September to 39; nighttime incandescence remained.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Multiple daily explosions at Sabancaya produced ash plumes that rose 1.7-3.6 km above the crater during August 2020. Images are showing 1 (left) and 29 (right) August 2020. Courtesy of OVI (Reporte Semanal de Monitorio de la Actividad de la Volcan Sabancaya, RSSAB-31-2020/INGEMMET Semanal del 27 de julio al 02 de agosto del 2020 and RSSAB-35-2020/INGEMMET Semanal del 24 al 30 de agosto del 2020).

Increased volcanism was reported during September with the daily average of explosions ranging from 33 during 14-20 September to 40 during 28 September-4 October. The resulting gas-and-ash plumes rose 1.8-3.5 km above the crater drifting 25-35 km in various directions (figure 89). SO2 flux was measured by OVI ranging from 2,600 to 9,700 tons/day, the latter of which was recorded during 31 August to 6 September. During 7-13 September an average of 35 explosions were reported, accompanied by gas-and-ash plumes that rose 2.6-3.5 km above the crater and drifting 30 km SE, SW, W, E, and S. These events resulted in ashfall in Lari, Achoma, and Maca. The following week (14-20 September) ashfall was reported in Achoma and Chivay. During 21-27 September the daily average of explosions was 38, producing ash plumes that resulted in ashfall in Taya, Huambo, Huanca, and Lluta. Slight inflation on the N and SE flanks continued to be monitored by OVI. Strong activity, including SO2 emissions and thermal anomalies over the summit crater persisted into at least early October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Multiple daily explosions at Sabancaya produced ash plumes that rose 1.8-2.6 km above the crater during September 2020. Images are showing 4 (left) and 27 (right) September 2020. Courtesy of OVI (Reporte Semanal de Monitorio de la Actividad de la Volcan Sabancaya, RSSAB-36-2020/INGEMMET Semanal del 31 de agosto al 06 de septiembre del 2020 and RSSAB-39-2020/INGEMMET Semanal del 21 al 27 de septiembre del 2020).

Geologic Background. Sabancaya, located in the saddle NE of Ampato and SE of Hualca Hualca volcanoes, is the youngest of these volcanic centers and the only one to have erupted in historical time. The oldest of the three, Nevado Hualca Hualca, is of probable late-Pliocene to early Pleistocene age. The name Sabancaya (meaning "tongue of fire" in the Quechua language) first appeared in records in 1595 CE, suggesting activity prior to that date. Holocene activity has consisted of Plinian eruptions followed by emission of voluminous andesitic and dacitic lava flows, which form an extensive apron around the volcano on all sides but the south. Records of historical eruptions date back to 1750.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico), Barrio Magisterial Nro. 2 B-16 Umacollo - Yanahuara Arequipa, Peru (URL: http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe); Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP), Calle Badajoz N° 169 Urb. Mayorazgo IV Etapa, Ate, Lima 15012, Perú (URL: https://www.gob.pe/igp); Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Servicio Meteorológico Nacional-Fuerza Aérea Argentina, 25 de mayo 658, Buenos Aires, Argentina (URL: http://www.smn.gov.ar/vaac/buenosaires/inicio.php); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); 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).


Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — October 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent small phreatic explosions with intermittent ash plumes during April-September 2020

Rincón de la Vieja is a remote volcanic complex in Costa Rica that contains an acid lake. Frequent weak phreatic explosions have occurred since 2011 (BGVN 44:08). The most recent eruption period began in January 2020, which consisted of small phreatic explosions, gas-and-steam plumes, pyroclastic flows, and lahars (BGVN 45:04). This reporting period covers April through September 2020, with activity characterized by continued small phreatic explosions, three lahars, frequent gas-and-steam plumes, and ash plumes. The primary source of information for this report is the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA) using weekly bulletins and the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Small, frequent, phreatic explosions were common at Rincón de la Vieja during this reporting period. One to several eruptions were reported on at least 16 days in April, 15 days in May, 8 days in June, 10 days in July, 18 days in August, and 13 days in September (table 5). Intermittent ash plumes accompanied these eruptions, rising 100-3,000 m above the crater and drifting W, NW, and SW during May and N during June. Occasional gas-and-steam plumes were also observed rising 50-2,000 m above the crater rim.

Table 5. Monthly summary of activity at Rincón de la Vieja during April through September 2020. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Month Minimum total days of eruptions Ash plume height (m above the crater) Notable plume drift Gas-and-steam plume height (m above the crater)
Apr 2020 16 200-1,000 - 50-1,500
May 2020 15 200-3,000 W, NW, SW 200-2,000
Jun 2020 8 100-2,000 N -
Jul 2020 10 1,000 - -
Aug 2020 18 500-1,000 - 500
Sep 2020 13 700 - 50

During April small explosions were detected almost daily, some of which generated ash plumes that rose 200-1,000 m above the crater and gas-and-steam emissions that rose 50-1,500 m above the crater. On 4 April an eruption at 0824 produced an ash plume that rose 1 km above the crater rim. A small hydrothermal explosion at 0033 on 11 April, recorded by the webcam in Sensoria (4 km N), ejected water and sediment onto the upper flanks. On 15 April a phreatic eruption at 0306 resulted in lahars in the Pénjamo, Azufrada, and Azul rivers, according to local residents. Several small explosions were detected during the morning of 19 April; the largest phreatic eruption ejected water and sediment 300 m above the crater rim and onto the flanks at 1014, generated a lahar, and sent a gas-and-steam plume 1.5 km above the crater (figure 30). On 24 April five events were recorded by the seismic network during the morning, most of which produced gas-and-steam plumes that rose 300-500 m above the crater. The largest event on this day occurred at 1020, ejecting water and solid material 300 m above the crater accompanied by a gas-and-steam plume rising up to 1 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Webcam image of small hydrothermal eruptions at Rincón de la Vieja on 19 April 2020. Image taken by the webcam in Dos Ríos de Upala; courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Similar frequent phreatic activity continued in May, with ash plumes rising 200-1,500 m above the crater, drifting W, NW, and SW, and gas-and-steam plumes rising up to 2 km. On 5 May an eruption at 1317 produced a gas-and-steam plume 200 m above the crater and a Washington VAAC advisory reported that an ash plume rose to 2.1 km altitude, drifting W. An event at 1925 on 9 May generated a gas-and-steam plume that rose almost 2 km. An explosion at 1128 on 15 May resulted in a gas-and-steam plume that rose 1 km above the crater rim, accompanied by a gray, sediment-laden plume that rose 400 m. On 21 May a small ash eruption at 0537 sent a plume 1 km above the crater (figure 31). According to a Washington VAAC advisory, an ash plume rose 3 km altitude, drifting NW on 22 May. During the early evening on 25 May an hour-long sequence of more than 70 eruptions and emissions, according to OVSICORI-UNA, produced low gas-and-steam plumes and tephra; at 1738, some ejecta was observed above the crater rim. The next day, on 26 May, up to 52 eruptive events were observed. An eruption at 2005 was not visible due to weather conditions; however, it resulted in a minor amount of ashfall up to 17 km W and NW, which included Los Angeles of Quebrada Grande and Liberia. A phreatic explosion at 1521 produced a gray plume that rose 1.5 km above the crater (figure 31). An eruption at 1524 on 28 May sent an ash plume 3 km above the crater that drifted W, followed by at least three smaller eruptions at 1823, 1841, and 1843. OVSICORI-UNA reported that volcanism began to decrease in frequency on 28-29 May. Sulfur dioxide emissions ranged between 100 and 400 tons per day during 28 May to 15 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Webcam images of gray gas-and-steam and ash emissions at Rincón de la Vieja on 21 (left), and 27 (right) May 2020. Both images taken by the webcam in Dos Ríos de Upala and Sensoria; courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

There were eight days with eruptions in June, though some days had multiple small events; phreatic eruptions reported on 1-2, 13, 16-17, 19-20, and 23 June generated plumes 1-2 km above the crater (figure 32). During 2-8 June SO2 emissions were 150-350 tons per day; more than 120 eruptions were recorded during the preceding weekend. Ashfall was observed N of the crater on 4 June. During 9-15 June the SO2 emissions increased slightly to 100-400 tons per day. During 16-17 June several small eruptive events were detected, the largest of which occurred at 1635 on 17 June, producing an ash plume that rose 1 km above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Webcam images of gray gas-and-steam and ash plumes rising from Rincón de la Vieja on 1 (top left), 2 (top right), 7 (bottom left), and 13 (bottom right) June 2020. The ash plume on 1 June rose between 1.5 and 2 km above the crater. The ash plume on 13 June rose 1 km above the crater. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Explosive hydrothermal activity was lower in June-September compared to January-May 2020, according to OVSICORI-UNA. Sporadic small phreatic explosions and earthquakes were registered during 22-25 and 29 July-3 August, though no lahars were reported. On 25 July an eruptive event at 0153 produced an ash plume that rose 1 km above the crater. Similar activity continued into August. On 5 and 6 August phreatic explosions were recorded at 0546 and 0035, respectively, the latter of which generated a plume that rose 500 m above the crater. These events continued to occur on 10, 16, 19-20, 22-25, 27-28, and 30-31 August, generating plumes that rose 500 m to 1 km above the crater.

On 3 September geologists observed that the acid lake in the main crater had a low water level and exhibited strong gas emissions; vigorous fumaroles were observed on the inner W wall of the crater, measuring 120°C. Gas-and-steam emissions continued to be detected during September, occasionally accompanied by phreatic eruptions. On 7 September an eruption at 0750 produced an ash plume that rose 50 m above the crater while the accompanying gas-and-steam plume rose 500 m. Several low-energy phreatic explosions occurred during 8-17, 20, and 22-28 September, characterized primarily by gas-and-steam emissions. An eruption on 16 September ejected material from the crater and generated a small lahar. Sulfur dioxide emissions were 100 tons per day during 16-21 September. On 17 September an eruption at 0632 produced an ash plume that rose 700 m above the crater (figure 33). A relatively large eruptive event at 1053 on 22 September ejected material out of the crater and into N-flank drainages.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Webcam image of an eruption plume rising above Rincón de la Vieja on 17 September 2020. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Geologic Background. Rincón de la Vieja, the largest volcano in NW Costa Rica, is a remote volcanic complex in the Guanacaste Range. The volcano consists of an elongated, arcuate NW-SE-trending ridge constructed within the 15-km-wide early Pleistocene Guachipelín caldera, whose rim is exposed on the south side. Sometimes known as the "Colossus of Guanacaste," it has an estimated volume of 130 km3 and contains at least nine major eruptive centers. Activity has migrated to the SE, where the youngest-looking craters are located. The twin cone of Santa María volcano, the highest peak of the complex, is located at the eastern end of a smaller, 5-km-wide caldera and has a 500-m-wide crater. A Plinian eruption producing the 0.25 km3 Río Blanca tephra about 3,500 years ago was the last major magmatic eruption. All subsequent eruptions, including numerous historical eruptions possibly dating back to the 16th century, have been from the prominent active crater containing a 500-m-wide acid lake located ENE of Von Seebach crater.

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


Fuego (Guatemala) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Fuego

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Daily explosions, ash emissions, and block avalanches during August-November 2020

Guatemala's Volcán de Fuego has been erupting vigorously since 2002 with reported eruptions dating back to 1531. These eruptions have resulted in major ashfalls, pyroclastic flows, lava flows, and damaging lahars, including a series of explosions and pyroclastic flows in early June 2018 that caused several hundred fatalities. Eruptive activity consisting of explosions with ash emissions, block avalanches, and lava flows began again after a short break and has continued; activity during August-November 2020 is covered in this report. Daily reports are provided by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH); aviation alerts of ash plumes are issued by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). Satellite data provide valuable information about heat flow and emissions.

Summary of activity during August-November 2020. Eruptive activity continued at Fuego during August-November 2020, very similar to that during the first part of the year (table 22). Ash emissions were reported daily by INSIVUMEH with explosions often in the 6-12 per hour range. Most of the ash plumes rose to 4.5-4.7 km altitude and generally drifted SW, W, or NW, although rarely the wind direction changed and sent ash to the S and SE. Multiple daily advisories were issued throughout the period by the Washington VAAC warning aviators about ash plumes, which were often visible on the observatory webcam (figure 136). Some of the communities located SW of the volcano received ashfall virtually every day during the period. Block avalanches descended the major drainages daily as well. Sounds were heard and vibrations felt from the explosions most days, usually 7-12 km away. The stronger explosions could be felt and heard 20 km or more from the volcano. During late August and early September a lava flow was active on the SW flank, reaching 700 m in length during the second week of September.

Table 22. Eruptive activity was consistently high at Fuego throughout August – November 2020 with multiple explosions every hour, ash plumes, block avalanches, and near-daily ashfall in the communities in certain directions within 10-20 km of the volcano. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH daily reports.

Month Explosions per hour Ash Plume Heights (km) Ash plume distance (km) and direction Drainages affected by block avalanches Communities reporting ashfall
Aug 2020 2-15 4.3-4.8 SW, W, NW, S, N, 8-20 km Seca, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, Honda, Santa Teresa Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Rochela, Finca Palo Verde, Yepocapa, Santa Sofia, El Porvenir, Palo Verde, Sangre de Cristo, Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa
Sep 2020 3-16 4.3-4.9 W, SW, NW, N, S, 8-20 km Seca, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, Honda, Santa Teresa Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Santa Sofía, Finca Palo Verde, Sangre de Cristo, Yepocapa, Porvenir, Yucales, Ojo de Agua, Finca La Conchita
Oct 2020 3-19 4.1-4.8 SW, W, S, SE, N, E, 10-20 km Seca, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, Honda, Santa Teresa Panimache I and II, Morelia, Sangre de Cristo, Yepocapa, La Rochela, El Porvenir, Ceilán, Santa Sofía, Yucales, Finca Palo Verde
Nov 2020 4-14 4.0-4.8 S, SW, SE, W, NW, 10-35 km Seca, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, Honda, Santa Teresa El Jute Panimaché I and II, Sangre de Cristo, Morelia, Ceilan, La Rochela, El Zapote, Santa Sofía, Yucales, San Juan Alotenango, Ciudad Vieja, San Miguel Dueñas y Antigua Guatemala, Palo Verde, El Porvenir, San Pedro Yepocapa, Quisaché, Santa Emilia
Figure (see Caption) Figure 136. Consistent daily ash emissions produced similar looking ash plumes at Fuego during August-November 2020. Plumes usually rose to 4.5-4.8 km altitude and drifted SW. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

The frequent explosions, block avalanches, and lava flows produced a strong thermal signal throughout the period that was recorded in both the MIROVA project Log Radiative Power graph (figure 137) and in numerous Sentinel-2 satellite images (figure 138). MODVOLC data produced thermal alerts 4-6 days each month. At least one lahar was recorded each month; they were most frequent in September and October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 137. The MIROVA graph of activity at Fuego for the period from 15 January through November 2020 suggested persistent moderate to high-level heat flow for much of the time. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 138. Atmospheric penetration rendering of Sentinel-2 satellite images (bands 12, 11, 8A) of Fuego during August-November 2020 showed continued thermal activity from block avalanches, explosions, and lava flows at the summit and down several different ravines. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during August-November 2020. The number of explosions per hour at Fuego during August 2020 was most often 7-10, with a few days that were higher at 10-15. The ash plumes usually rose to 4.5-4.8 km altitude and drifted SW or W up to 15 km. Incandescence was visible 100-300 m above the summit crater on most nights. All of the major drainages including the Seca, Santa Teresa, Ceniza, Trinidad, Taniluyá, Las Lajas, and Honda were affected by block avalanches virtually every day. In addition, the communities of Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Santa Sofía, Finca Palo Verde, El Porvenir, San Pedro Yepocapa, and Sangre de Cristo reported ashfall almost every day. Sounds and vibrations were reported multiple days every week, often up to 12 km from the volcano, but occasionally as far as 20 km away. Lahars carrying blocks of rocks and debris 1-2 m in diameter descended the SE flank in the Las Lajas and Honda ravines on 6 August. On 27 August a lava flow 150 m long appeared in the Ceniza ravine. It increased in length over the subsequent few days, reaching 550 m long on 30 August, with frequent block avalanches falling off the front of the flow.

The lava flow in the Ceniza ravine was reported at 100 m long on 5 September. It grew to 200 m on 7 September and reached 700 m long on 12 September. It remained 200-350 m long through 19 September, although instruments monitored by INSIVUMEH indicated that effusive activity was decreasing after 16 September (figure 139). A second flow was 200 m long in the Seca ravine on 19 September. By 22 September, active flows were no longer observed. The explosion rate varied from a low of 3-5 on 1 September to a high of 12-16 on 4, 13, 18, and 22-23 September. Ash plumes rose to 4.5-4.9 km altitude nearly every day and drifted W, NW, and SW occasionally as far as 20 km before dissipating. In addition to the active flow in the Ceniza ravine, block avalanches persisted in the other ravines throughout the month. Ashfall continued in the same communities as in August, but was also reported in Yucales on 4 September along with Ojo de Agua and Finca La Conchita on 17 September. The Las Lajas, Honda, and El Jute ravines were the sites of lahars carrying blocks up to 1.5 m in diameter on 8 and 18 September. On 19 and 24 September lahars again descended Las Lajas and El Jute ravines; the Ceniza ravine had a lahar on 19 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 139. Avalanche blocks descended the Ceniza ravine (left) and the Las Lajas ravine (right) at Fuego on 17 September 2020. The webcam that captured this image is located at Finca La Reunión on the SE flank. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (BOLETÍN VULCANOLÓGICO ESPECIAL BEVFGO # 76-2020, 18 de septiembre de 2020, 14:30 horas).

The same activity continued during October 2020 with regard to explosion rates, plume altitudes, distances, and directions of drift. All of the major ravines were affected by block avalanches and the same communities located W and SW of the summit reported ashfall. In addition, ashfall was reported in La Rochela on 2, 3, 7-9 and 30 October, in Ceilán on 3 and 7-9 October, and in Yucales on 5, 14, 18 and 19 October. Multiple strong explosions with abundant ash were reported in a special bulletin on 14 October; high levels of explosive activity were recorded during 16-23 October. Vibrations and sounds were often felt up to 15 km away and heard as far as 25 km from the volcano during that period. Particularly strong block avalanches were present in the Seca and Ceniza ravines on 20, 25, and 30 October. Abundant rain on 9 October resulted in lahars descending all of the major ravines. The lahar in the Las Lajas ravine overflowed and forced the closure of route RN-14 road affecting the community of San Miguel on the SE flank (figure 140). Heavy rains on 15 October produced lahars in the Ceniza, Las Lajas, and Hondas ravines with blocks up to 2 m in diameter. Multiple lahars on 27 October affected Las Lajas, El Jute, and Honda ravines.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 140. Heavy rains on 9 October 2020 at Fuego caused lahars in all the major ravines. Debris from Las Lajas ravine overflowed highway RN-14 near the community of San Miguel on the SE flank, the area devastated by the pyroclastic flow of June 2018. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (BEFGO #96 VOLCAN DE FUEGO- ZONA CERO RN-14, SAN MIGUEL LOS LOTES y BARRANCA LAS LAJAS, 09 de octubre de 2020).

On 8 November 2020 a lahar descended the Seca ravine, carrying rocks and debris up to 1 meter in diameter. During the second week of November 2020, the wind direction changed towards the SE and E and brought ashfall to San Juan Alotenango, Ciudad Vieja, San Miguel Dueñas, and Antigua Guatemala on 8 November. Especially strong block avalanches were noted in the Seca and Ceniza ravines on 14, 19, 24, and 29 November. During a period of stronger activity in the fourth week of November, vibrations were felt and explosions heard more than 20 km away on 22 November and more than 25 km away on 27 November. In addition to the other communities affected by ashfall during August-November, Quisaché and Santa Emilia reported ashfall on 30 November.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/ ); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground);Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); 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).


Kikai (Japan) — November 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kikai

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosion on 6 October 2020 and thermal anomalies in the crater

Kikai is a mostly submarine caldera, 19-km-wide, just S of the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. At the NW rim of the caldera lies the island of Satsuma Iwo Jima (also known as Satsuma-Iojima and Tokara Iojima), and the island’s highest peak, Iodake, a steep stratovolcano. Recent weak ash explosions at Iodake occurred on 2 November 2019 and 29 April 2020 (BGVN 45:02, 45:05). The volcano is monitored by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and satellite sensors. This report covers the period May-October 2020. During this time, the Alert Level remained at 2 (on a 5-level scale).

Activity at Kikai has been relatively low since the previous eruption on 29 April 2020. During May through October occasional white gas-and-steam emissions rose 0.8-1.3 km above the Iodake crater, the latter of which was recorded in September. Emissions were intermittently accompanied by weak nighttime incandescence, according to JMA (figure 17).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. White gas-and-steam emissions rose 1 km above the crater at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 25 May (top) 2020. At night, occasional incandescence could be seen in the Iodake crater, as seen on 29 May (bottom) 2020. Both images taken by the Iwanoue webcam. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, May 2nd year of Reiwa [2020]).

A small eruption at 0757 on 6 October occurred in the NW part of the Iodake crater, which produced a grayish white plume rising 200 m above the crater (figure 18). Faint thermal anomalies were detected in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery in the days just before this eruption (28 September and 3 October) and then after (13 and 23 October), accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions (figures 19 and 20). Nighttime crater incandescence continued to be observed. JMA reported that sulfur dioxide emissions measured 700 tons per day during October, compared to the previous eruption (400-2,000 tons per day in April 2020).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Webcam images of the eruption at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 6 October 2020 that produced an ash plume rising 200 m above the crater (top). Nighttime summit crater incandescence was also observed (bottom). Images were taken by the Iwanoue webcam. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 2nd year of Reiwa [2020]).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Weak thermal hotspots (bright yellow-orange) were observed at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) during late September through October 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Webcam image of a white gas-and-steam plume rising 1.1 km above the crater at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 27 October 2020. Image was taken by the Iwanoue webcam. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 2nd year of Reiwa [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); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — October 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Manam

Papua New Guinea

4.08°S, 145.037°E; summit elev. 1807 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash plumes, thermal anomalies, and SO2 emissions in April-September 2020

Manam, located 13 km off the N coast of Papua New Guinea, is a basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano with historical eruptions dating back 400 years. Volcanism has been characterized by low-level ash plumes, occasional Strombolian activity, lava flows, pyroclastic avalanches, and large ash plumes from Main and South, the two active summit craters. The current eruption period has been ongoing since 2014, typically with minor explosive activity, thermal activity, and SO2 emissions (BGVN 45:05). This reporting period updates information from April through September 2020, consisting of intermittent ash plumes from late July to mid-September, persistent thermal anomalies, and SO2 emissions. Information comes from Papua New Guinea's Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), part of the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

Explosive activity was relatively low during April through late July; SO2 emissions and low power, but persistent, thermal anomalies were detected by satellite instruments each month. The TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite recorded SO2 emissions, many of which exceeded two Dobson Units, that drifted generally W (figure 76). Distinct SO2 emissions were detected for 10 days in April, 4 days in May, 10 days in June, 4 days in July, 11 days in August, and 8 days in September.

Thermal anomalies recorded by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system were sparse from early January through June 2020, totaling 11 low-power anomalies within 5 km of the summit (figure 77). From late July through September a pulse in thermal activity produced slightly stronger and more frequent anomalies. Some of this activity could be observed in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (figure 78). Occasionally, these thermal anomalies were accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions or ash plumes, as shown on 28 July. On 17 August a particularly strong hotspot was detected in the S summit crater. According to the MODVOLC thermal alert data, a total of 10 thermal alerts were detected in the summit crater over four days: 29 July (5), 16 August (1), and 3 (1) and 8 (3) September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Distinct sulfur dioxide plumes rising from Manam and drifting generally W were detected using data from the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite on 28 April (top left), 24 May (top right), 16 July (bottom left), and 12 September (bottom right) 2020. Courtesy of the NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Intermittent thermal activity at Manam increased in power and frequency beginning around late July and continuing through September 2020, as shown on the MIROVA Log Radiative Power graph. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing a persistent thermal anomaly (yellow-orange) at Manam’s summit craters (Main and South) each month during April through August; sometimes they were seen in both summit craters, as shown on 8 June (top right), 28 July (bottom left), and 17 August (bottom right). A particularly strong anomaly was visible on 17 August (bottom right). Occasional gas-and-steam emissions accompanied the thermal activity. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during mid-July slightly increased compared to the previous months. On 16 July seismicity increased, fluctuating between low and moderate RSAM values through the rest of the month. In Sentinel-2 satellite imagery a gray ash plume was visible rising from the S summit crater on 28 July (figure 78). RSAM values gradually increased from a low average of 200 to an average of 1200 on 30 July, accompanied by thermal hotspots around the summit crater; a ground observer reported incandescent material was ejected from the summit. On 31 July into 1 August ash plumes rose to 4.3 km altitude, accompanied by an incandescent lava flow visible at the summit, according to a Darwin VAAC advisory.

Intermittent ash plumes continued to be reported by the Darwin VAAC on 1, 6-7, 16, 20, and 31 August. They rose from 2.1 to 4.6 km altitude, the latter of which occurred on 31 August and drifted W. Typically, these ash plumes extended SW, W, NW, and WSW. On 11 September another ash plume was observed rising 2.4 km altitude and drifting W.

Geologic Background. The 10-km-wide island of Manam, lying 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, is one of the country's most active volcanoes. Four large radial valleys extend from the unvegetated summit of the conical basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks. These valleys channel lava flows and pyroclastic avalanches that have sometimes reached the coast. Five small satellitic centers are located near the island's shoreline on the northern, southern, and western sides. Two summit craters are present; both are active, although most observed eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE valley. Frequent eruptions, typically of mild-to-moderate scale, have been recorded since 1616. Occasional larger eruptions have produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached flat-lying coastal areas and entered the sea, sometimes impacting populated areas.

Information Contacts: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).

Search Bulletin Archive by Publication Date

Select a month and year from the drop-downs and click "Show Issue" to have that issue displayed in this tab.

   

The default month and year is the latest issue available.

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 27, Number 03 (March 2002)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Etna (Italy)

Overview of Etna's much-photographed July-August 2001 flank eruption

Fuego (Guatemala)

Costly 1999 aircraft-ash encounters due to ash plumes

Karymsky (Russia)

Elevated seismicity; possible explosions and avalanches in March 2002

Kilauea (United States)

Lava stops entering sea during January, tilting in late March-April 2002

Manam (Papua New Guinea)

Mild eruptions during January-February 2002

Miyakejima (Japan)

Eruptive activity decreases; high SO2 flux through April 2002

Nyiragongo (DR Congo)

Report of field work; MODIS imagery from January 2002 eruption

Pacaya (Guatemala)

Costly 1999 aircraft-ash encounters due to ash plumes

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

M 5.6 earthquakes during March 2002 not related to volcanism

Sheveluch (Russia)

Growing dome, greater seismicity, and plumes to 10 km in early 2002

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea)

Isolated tremor episodes and slow deflation through March 2002



Etna (Italy) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Overview of Etna's much-photographed July-August 2001 flank eruption

The last flank eruption at Etna occurred in 1993, but eruptive activity has been nearly continuous in the summit area since late July 1995. Unusually vigorous eruptions in early June 2001 (BGVN 26:08) were followed by still more energetic behavior. An earthquake swarm took place in mid-July, and large SSE-flank eruptions vented lavas in late July and early August on a scale not seen since 1983 (BGVN 26:09). Though this activity has been reported in previous Bulletin reports, what follows is a more detailed description of the summer 2001 activity.

Precursory phases. During the first half of 2001 most activity occurred at the Southeast Crater (SEC), starting with very slow lava extrusion from a vent on the NNE flank of its cone in late January. During the next three months the lava emission rate progressively increased and, in late April, weak ejections of lava fragments began to build small spatter cones (also known as hornitos) in the vent area. Strombolian activity resumed at the SEC's summit vent on 7 May, followed by an episode of vigorous Strombolian activity and lava fountaining two days later.

The activity then returned to lower levels, but for the next two months the SEC was the site of very picturesque continuous and persistent activity, with mild, discontinuous Strombolian explosions from the summit vent and vigorous lava emission (at times accompanied by lava spattering) from vent(s) on the NNE flank. At this spot, a large, steep-sided cone consisting of overlapping lava flows and spatter began to grow, and it was informally named "Levantino." From Levantino (figure 93, upper part), lava flowed NE (toward the Valle del Leone), E, and SE (toward the Valle del Bove), forming a composite lava field with numerous overlapping flow lobes. The longest flows extended up to 2 km from the vent(s). From late May to early June the continuous and relatively harmless activity attracted many visitors.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. Inset map (upper left) and sketch map showing Etna's July-August 2001 lava flows, fissures, and related features. The 1983 lava flow-field on the S flank (lighter shading) is shown for comparison. The legend is also linked to numbers near the vents and fissures, as a way to indicate the sequence of activity. The pattern of activity lacked a simple spatial progression. For the time citations, note that the eruption occurred during daylight saving time (UTC + 2 hours). The sketch map is preliminary; it is a composite based on both fieldwork by Behnke and others, and already available maps appearing on the web, including those on the site of INGV-Sezione di Catania. Courtesy of Boris Behnke and Marco Neri, INGV.

The prelude to the main eruption began in early June, with the first strong phase on 7 June, which was mostly confined to lava fountaining at the Levantino, whereas only mild Strombolian activity occurred at the SEC summit vent. During the following six weeks the vigor of the eruptive episodes gradually increased and at times culminated in true lava fountaining from the summit vent. Fourteen such episodes occurred between 7 June and 13 July (7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24, 27-28 and 30 June; 4, 7 and 13 July), ending with the most violent outburst of the series. Immediately after its cessation, vigorous seismicity began, including shocks that were felt as far as the cities of Acireale and Catania (figure 93 index map).

Between the early mornings of 13 and 17 July, about 2,600 tremors, mostly unfelt, were recorded instrumentally. During this same time interval, severe ground cracking and faulting occurred in various places on the W rim of the Valle del Bove and near the "Cisternazza" pit crater on the Piano del Lago ("PDL," figure 3), a flat area at ~2,500 m elevation to the N of the Montagnola. Press sources cited local volcanologists saying that magma was rising through a dike and stagnating about 1 km below the surface. Steaming was observed at some of the new fractures, but as of the late evening of 16 July no magma had reached the surface. Seismicity continued at a slightly decreased rate.

Shortly after midnight on 17 July, yet another paroxysmal episode occurred at the SEC. This was similar to its 13 July predecessor, with vigorous lava fountaining from the summit vent and the Levantino. It was the last event that could be considered part of the prelude to the main eruption. Figure 93 shows a sketch map of the lava flows that ultimately resulted from the July-August 2001 eruption. The inset at upper left shows the 2001 lavas and locations of various towns on Etna's S, SE, and E flanks.

Eruption of 17 July-9 August 2001. As defined here, the main eruption lasted nearly 24 days, from early 17 July to late 9 August 2001. It began a few hours after the last paroxysmal eruptive episode at the SEC.

An eruptive fissure opened at about 0700 on 17 July at the SSE base of the SEC at ~ 2,950 m elevation (point 1 on figure 93). Vigorous lava spattering occurred at a number of vents, while lava flows advanced toward SE, in the direction of the Valle del Bove rim. Several hours later, at 2200, another fissure opened at an elevation of ~ 2,700 m (point 2 on figure 93), a bit to the W of a panoramic point on the W rim of the Valle del Bove known as "Belvedere," and lava began to extend S from there, across the Piano del Lago, and in the direction of the cable car and ski lifts (shown by the vertical dotted line just beneath PDL on figure 93).

At 0120 on 18 July, a third eruptive fissure became active on the S flank of the Montagnola at ~ 2,100 m elevation, slightly uphill of the Monti Calcarazzi (point 3 on figure 93). Activity at this fissure was initially weak, and a sluggish lava flow began to move from the lower end of the fissure toward the Monte Silvestri superiore, a large complex cinder cone formed in 1892. During the day, the activity gradually increased; lava flowed around the W side of the Monte Silvestri, crossed the road (which connected the Rifugio Sapienza-cable car area with the town of Zafferana) and passed close to buildings. By late evening on 18 July the flow front was at 1,800 m elevation. On 19 July, the lava flow fed by the vents at 2,100 m elevation continued to pass between numerous older cinder cones along the E margin of the 1983 lava flow-field. At the same time eruptive activity continued unabated at all eruptive fissures.

On the evening of 19 July at about 1900, a new vent opened on the Piano del Lago at ~2,570 m elevation, ~ 500 m N of the Montagnola (point 4 on figure 93; "Montagnola 2", "Monte del Lago" or "Cono del Laghetto", unfortunately, all three names are in common usage). The activity was characterized by violent phreatomagmatic explosions that produced a black, ash-laden column and ejected large blocks of older volcanic rocks. This phreatomagmatic activity might have been the result of magma-water interactions with shallow ground water. (The name, Piano del Lago, the "plain of the lake," derives from the fact that frequently during the spring snow-melt a small meltwater lake had formed in that area.) To observers familiar with footage of the 1963 Surtsey (Iceland) eruption, the steam-and-ash columns rising from the new vent appeared strikingly similar. After nightfall spectacular lightning flashed through the plume and ash fell over inhabited areas including the NE, E, SE, and S flanks. Close observation of the vent at 2,570 m elevation revealed a simple, though constantly eroding, pit. Rumors spread that the pit would eventually "make the Montagnola cave in;" however, it remained intact.

The front of the lava flow emitted at 2,100 m elevation (point 3 on figure 93) was at 1,350 m late on the evening of 19 July. It still advanced vigorously, though at reduced speed (~45 m/hour). Soon after, authorities declared a state of emergency.

By the evening of 20 July the front of the lava flow had reached 1,220 m elevation, but it had slowed in a gently sloping area. Nonetheless, the threat to Nicolosi had become international news. The main risk now came from forest and bush fires. Helicopters began to drop large quantities of water onto the burning forest (not onto the lava flow, as was widely reported). Fortunately, no fires broke out. By late 21 July the lava flow's front had reached 1,050 m elevation.

During the night of 19-20 July, the SEC reactivated, and lava began to issue from the NNE side of the Levantino, forming a small flow that advanced in the direction of the Valle del Bove.

At about 1100 on 21 July, yet another eruptive fissure formed (point 5 on figure 93). It emerged on the NE flank, far away from the earlier fissures (below the Pizzi Deneri on the floor of the Valle del Leone). Figure 93 portrays the impressive arcuate fracture system that developed. The lava first issued from the fissure's uppermost portion at ~ 2,700 m elevation, then from its eastern extension ~50 m further downslope. A fracture system formed between this northeasternmost fissure and the E side of the summit crater area, and fissures up to 1 m wide opened on the slope between the Bocca Nuova and the SEC, and began emitting dense vapor plumes.

The large pit crater on the Piano del Lago at 2,570 m elevation continued to produce dense, ash-laden plumes. In late July ash fell over the area between Zafferana and Acireale (inset, figure 93).

On 21 July, the eruption continued with unabated vigor at all eruptive fissures. Late that day, the lava from the vents at 2,700 m had not further advanced on the steep slope above the tourist complex of the Rifugio Sapienza area (shown as Rif. Sapienza, figure 93).

The next day, 22 July, a shift in the wind direction drove the dense ash plume produced by the phreatomagmatic vent at 2,570 m elevation directly over the Catania area, paralyzing the city's Fontanarossa International Airport, and dropping large amounts of fine, black, sand-sized tephra over streets and buildings. Eruptive activity continued without significant variations at all fissures, although the main lava flow directed toward Nicolosi had slowed significantly and advanced only a few meters per hour, still 4 km from the outskirts of the town. That evening, minor, though fast-moving lava tongues fed by the vents at 2,700 m elevation spilled down the steep slope above the tourist complex, destroying part of the ski lifts and threatening to overwhelm some of the poles of the cable car. However, none of these flows made it further than about halfway down that slope. Vigorous Strombolian activity continued at the fissure at 2,100 m elevation, and a cone about 20-30 m high had formed around the largest of its vents, while minor lava spattering from four vents in the lower part of the fissure was building a low-spatter rampart. The lava flow from this fissure moved as a single, broad unit (point 6 on figure 93). Throughout 23 July the activity showed little variation.

On 24 July it became clear that something was changing at the Piano del Lago crater, which until then had displayed only phreatomagmatic activity. Loud detonations came from the Piano del Lago vent on the morning of 25 July, as the activity there had now become purely magmatic.

A new cone was growing on the former Piano del Lago on 26 July produced near-continuous explosions accompanied by loud detonations that could be heard ten's of kilometers away. The cone received bombs ejected from at least three vents within it. Lava began flowing from vents on its S and N sides, spilling around the N and NW sides of the Montagnola and down the steep slope on the W side of that cone toward the Rifugio Sapienza. The new lava flow passed E of the lower cable car station, covered another portion of the road and advanced a few hundred meters further. Vigorous eruptive activity continued on 26 July at the eruptive fissure at 2,950 m elevation, while the fissure at 2,700 m elevation continued to emit lava but pyroclastic activity there had ended. Weak activity continued at the Valle del Leone fissure, with lava flowing toward Monte Simone (in the N part of the Valle del Bove), and the fissure at 2,100 m elevation showed no significant changes in its activity with respect to the previous days.

During 27-30 July the eruption produced some outstanding displays (figures 94 and 95) and caused the greatest impact on human structures. While the fissure in the Valle del Leone showed ever-lower levels of activity and the fissures at 2,900, 2,700, and 2,100 m elevation continued to erupt in a manner almost identical to the previous days, the Montagnola 2 cone and several nearby vents not only provided a show, but vents on its N and S flanks delivered vigorous lava flows that spilled down the steep slope to the W of the Montagnola in surges, presenting a continuous threat to the Rifugio Sapienza area.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. At Etna, a night view taken from high on the S flanks near Torre del Filosofo documenting the erupting vents at 2,700 m elevation (left) and a lava fountain at the Piano del Lago cone (right), probably taken on 30 July 2001. The camera was aimed SE. Lights of towns between Acireale and Giarre are visible in the background. Photo was published in the 1 August 2001 issue of the "La Sicilia" newspaper.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Spectacular aerial view of the largest cone formed in Etna's eruption during July-August 2001, built on what used to be the "Piano del Lago" at ~ 2,500 m elevation on the S flank. View is to the SW. Most of the cone grew in a few days in late July; this photo shows the waning phase around 2 August when only ash was emitted. After the end of the activity the summit of the cone stood nearly 100 m higher than its base, but then partially collapsed leaving the cone ~ 80 m higher. To the left of the cone is the 1763 Montagnola crater. Between the two lies a fuming vent; it emitted one of the latest lava flows in the area (black ribbon extending to the left margin of the photo). Other lava flows that were emitted from vents at ~ 2,700 m elevation (out of the photo to the right) can be seen in the right foreground. Yet another lava lobe extends toward the lower left corner of the photo; it emerged at the E base of the Piano del Lago cone. Photograph by volcanologists of the INGV (National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology); published on 6 August 2001 in the "La Sicilia" newspaper.

A lava flow from the southern base of the Piana del Lago cone on 27 July remained active for about 2 days (point 7 of figure 93). This cone produced three distinct lava flow units from three different vents on its SW, S, and NW sides; those from the SW vent were the most damaging. On the evening of 30 July, the eruption claimed the upper cable car station, which burst into flames as a tongue of lava invaded its interior. Behind it, the rapidly growing cone of the Piano del Lago sent its lava fountains hundreds of meters into the sky, producing ground-shaking detonations.

During late July, the rate of lava emission in the direction of the Rifugio Sapienza area diminished as a new vent opened on the S side of the Piano del Lago cone, from which a lava flow spilled over the crest of the Valle del Bove and flowed to the bottom of the Valle, covering a portion of lava erupted in 1991-1993. The Valle del Leone fissure ceased emitting lava. The Montagnola 2 had become a large cone. It again shifted from magmatic to phreatomagmatic activity. Although the level of activity at this cone was decreasing, ash columns developed, and the wind carried the ash again in the direction of Catania, again closing the Fontanarossa airport. Vigorous eruptive activity continued during the first days of August at the fissure at 2,100 m elevation, but the lava effusion rate had dropped, and only the central portion of the original flow remained active, feeding a flow that advanced on top of the larger earlier flow from the same fissure. Strong phreatomagmatic explosions occurred from time to time at the upper vents on this fissure. Lava also continued to pour from the fissure at 2,700 m elevation, and numerous active flow lobes extended SE toward Monte Nero.

Beginning on 3 August the activity at the fissure at 2,100 m elevation showed a marked decrease. During the last week of the eruption (4-10 August) lava continued to flow from that fissure at a rapidly diminishing rate, explosive activity ended, and the fissures at 2,950 and 2,700 m elevation ceased erupting. Ash emission from the Piano del Lago cone ended around 6 August. Lava was last seen flowing from the fissure at 2,100 m elevation on late 9 or early 10 August. The eruption ended after almost 24 days, much earlier than its vigorous onset had suggested.

Products of the eruption and morphological changes. The July-August 2001 eruption emitted at least eight distinct lava flows which mostly affected the S and SSW flanks of Etna. The most damaging flows came from vents near the Piano del Lago cone at 2,570 m elevation. This cone produced most of the pyroclastic material, of which the most fine-grained portion (ash) caused widespread distress.

Petrographically, the lavas fall into two main groups, one of which is essentially similar to the historical products of Etna (porphyric hawaiites with phenocrysts of plagioclase, clinopyroxene and olivine), while the other shows characteristics not seen in any Etnean lavas during the past millennia (alkalic basalts).

Several major pyroclastic edifices grew during the eruption. The largest, the Piano del Lago cone at ~2,570 m elevation, is a nearly symmetrical cone, ~80 m high, which grew mostly between 25 and 31 July. It is crowned by a large crater ~150 m across and 50-60 m deep with near-vertical walls. During a visit on 30 August a few fumaroles located on the SEC walls emitted vapor and gas without forming a visible plume. A spectacular dike was exposed at the base of the E crater wall, and a less conspicuous dike was visible at the base of the WNW crater wall. Several faults or groups of faults were visible in the E and NE crater walls; a narrow graben developed on top of the E crater wall dike. The second-largest pyroclastic edifice lies in the upper part of the fissure at 2,100 m elevation.

Extensive (non-eruptive) fracture systems formed between the various eruptive fissures. Some of them began to form before the eruption, others developed during its first week. Many of these fractures are arranged in an en echelon pattern, which is especially notable in the Valle del Leone, between the northeastern (2,600 m) vents and the SEC. Other spectacular fractures opened between the Piano del Lago cone and the eruptive fissure at 2,100 m elevation. However, the most impressive fractures developed on the E side of the former Central Crater (now occupied by the Voragine and the Bocca Nuova), where they attained widths of more than 1 m. These fractures were vigorously steaming when visited in late-August and mid-September 2001. Fracturing also affected the southern face of the SEC cone.

About 5.5 km2 of Etna's upper and middle slopes were covered with new lava (compared to 7.6 km2 in the 1991-1993 flank eruption). The total volume of lavas and pyroclastics emitted during the eruption is ~ 30-35 x 106 m3 (25 x 106 m3 of lava and 5-10 x 106 m3 of pyroclastics, all calculated as dense rock equivalent), which makes this eruption a relatively modest-sized one for Etna (the 1991-1993 eruption had produced ~ 235 x 106 m3 of lava). Yet the fairly high proportion of pyroclastic material distinguishes this eruption from most other recent Etnean flank eruptions.

The most productive vents were those at 2,100 m elevation, which produced the longest (~ 7 km) and most voluminous (slightly less than 14 x 106 m3) single lava flow. The average combined effusion rate at all eruptive fissures throughout the eruption was ~11 m3/s, with peak rates of 14-16 m3/s. It is assumed that much of the magma that accumulated in one or more reservoirs below the base of the volcano in the years preceding the eruption was not erupted and remains available for future eruptions.

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 (Sezione di Geologia e Geofisica), Palazzo delle Scienze, Corso Italia 55, 95129 Catania, Italy.


Fuego (Guatemala) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Fuego

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Costly 1999 aircraft-ash encounters due to ash plumes

At least two commercial aircraft flew through airborne ash near the Guatemala City airport on 21 May 1999. An eruption from Fuego that day was the first at that volcano since 1987 (BGVN 24:04). Although the aviator's reports attributed the ash from this encounter to Fuego, their aircraft intersected multiple ash plumes in widely different locations, and thus they may also have crossed plumes from Pacaya. The most likely plume near the southern approach to the airport (La Aurora, ~23 km N of Pacaya; ~40 km NE of Fuego) is from the almost constantly active Pacaya. In contrast, Fuego lies 32 km W of Pacaya and was the likely source of a plume intersected later during the flight, at higher altitude, and for much longer duration.

During the encounters the ~100 or more people on board the two aircraft, and many more on the ground, were at risk. Both encounters seriously damaged the aircraft but ended in safe landings without reported injuries. Volcanic ash can cause jet-engine failure, which creates a hazard not only to passengers, but to people on the ground as well. The risk in this situation was amplified by the airport's proximity to urban Guatemala City (population, >1.1 million).

This example leads to two conclusions discussed further below. First, ash avoidance methodology needs further refinement. Second, there exists an apparent bias towards under-reporting of aircraft-ash encounters, which could short-change their cost to air carriers, their perceived risk, and their funding allocation.

The original report of an aircraft-ash encounter was brought to our attention by Captain Edward Miller of the Air Line Pilots Association and provided on the condition that the air carrier remain anonymous. Bulletin editors also wish to acknowledge conversations with several additional anonymous contacts (commercial pilots). This case occurred in Guatemala; however, analogous situations exist at many airports adjacent to volcanoes. Modest eruptions from nearby volcanoes may be uncertain or difficult to see; they may be hard to detect or characterize; yet they still may yield mobile ash plumes carried by complex local winds to confront air traffic (Salinas, 2001; Hefter, 1998; Casadevall, 1994).

Although in most Bulletin reports we favor the use of local time to emphasize the reference frame of people on the scene, most of the source material (satellite and aviation) for this report refer to UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). UTC is the time on the Greenwich meridian (longitude zero), formerly GMT, a term which has fallen out of use. Accordingly, there are cases in this report that lack conversion to local time. Local time in Guatemala is 6 hours behind UTC.

Activity at Fuego and Pacaya. Fuego erupted on 21 May 1999 sending ash to the S, SE, and SW and ultimately dropping up to 40 cm of ash on local settlements (BGVN 24:04). The eruption occurred at 1800 local time (in terms of UTC, at 0000 the next day). Three hours later the eruption decreased and the Aeronautica Civil recommended that planes go no closer to Fuego than 40 km. One hour after that (at 2200 local, 0400 UTC), the atmospheric ash had settled, and Aeronautica Civil recommended flying no closer to Fuego than 15 km.

Bulletin reports for Pacaya in mid-1999 suggested relative calm, in harmony with the observation that it had chiefly been fuming. However, Pacaya is well-known for Strombolian outbursts. It lies directly in-line and only 23 km S of the N10°E-oriented airstrip. As is common for commercial aircraft there, the approaches described below passed very close to Pacaya. Pacaya typically has lower and smaller eruptions than Fuego, but because it lies so close to the southern approach to the airport, Pacaya's ash plumes easily enter the path of landing aircraft. The situation was particularly complex during this eruption because Fuego's ash was reported on cities that lie below the flight path as well as on the Pacaya's flanks.

Pilot's report of aircraft-ash encounter. What follows was taken from one flight crew's description of events and from later reports and dialog on the topic. In order to preserve the confidentiality of the airlines, the precise times of events on 21 May 1999 have been omitted. Pilots reported clear visibility and light wind, with both the capital and the airport in sight. They maneuvered the aircraft for a final approach from the S. Pilots were advised by air traffic control about erupted particulate ("volcanic sand") about 24 km (15 miles) SE of the airport, well away from their projected path to Runway 01. In addition, based on winds they detected as they neared the airport, the pilots concluded that the erupted particulate to the SE was downwind from their projected flight path to the airport. (In retrospect, this conclusion appears tenuous considering the possibility of either a fresh injection of ash from Fuego, or lingering ash in the trailing portion of the plume that lay to the SE.)

At ~32 km (20 miles) distance from the runway, the pilots maneuvered the plane through ~3,000 m (9,700 feet) altitude on a final approach to the airport with the plane's flaps partially extended (at ~15°, which slowed their aircraft to ~260 km/hour (160 mph), its auxiliary power unit (a small jet engine) on, and its landing gear down. Around this point in their descent, pilots saw bright yellow sparks through the windshield lasting a few seconds, a display unlike static electricity, but rather like that from a grinding wheel. This occurred again at 2,500 m (8,200 feet) altitude, but was more intense yet intermittent.

At this time, air-traffic control announced to the pilots that the aircraft landing in front of them had encountered volcanic particulate; they instructed the pilots to abort their landing and climb to 3,350 m (11,000 feet) altitude. Discussions of options and ash avoidance ensued between pilots and air-traffic control; ash had by this time accumulated on the runway, further complicating landing, even for approaches in the opposite direction. The pilots retracted the landing gear, accelerated to ~410 km/hour (~250 mph), began to climb, and after some discussion with air-traffic control, held on a course NE of the airport. They were subsequently cleared to climb to 6,700 m (22,000 feet) altitude and advised to proceed to an alternate airfield.

During the climb, at ~5,800 m (19,000 feet) altitude en-route to the alternate airport, the aircraft encountered volcanic particulate for 10 minutes. Within that interval the plane spent 2 minutes during ascent engulfed in denser and heavier particulate. During that period, window arcing was constant and the beam of their landing lights revealed a conspicuous cloud of reflecting particles. During ash ingestion the engines's speed lacked noticeable fluctuations. The aircraft exited the plume at about 6,100 m (20,000 feet) altitude and landed without encountering additional ash.

Upon landing, the pilots noticed reduced visibility through abraded windshields. Post-flight examination of the airplane revealed heavy damage, requiring the replacement of the engines (US $2 million each) and auxiliary-power-unit engine. (Note, however, that no deterioration in engine power or performance was noticed during the flight.) Other replaced parts included windshields, a heat exchanger, and coalescer bags. Minor damage was seen on the horizontal stabilizer and wing leading-edges.

Volcanic Ash Advisory Statements. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Satellite Services Division website contains two archived statements issued by the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) at Washington, D.C. for Fuego on 21-22 May 1999. The statements, issued to the aviation cummunity to warn of volcanic hazards, are intended for an audience accustomed to special terminology (figures 2 and 3). In the interest of advancing understanding of how volcanological and atmospheric data get transmitted to aviators, we offer brief explanations for many of the terms used (figure 2).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. The first archived Volcanic Ash Advisory Statement (VAAS) for the 21 May 1999 eruption at Fuego, Guatemala. The boxes contain added notes to explain some of the basic conventions and specific details seen here. This Statement currently appears on the NOAA Satellite Services Division website (see "Information Contacts," below). Local names are frequently anglicized, dropping all accents and other non-English characters (eg. México would be written MEXICO). Later Advisories adopted the abbreviation "Z" (pronounced 'Zulu' by aviators) for UTC, as in 1300 UTC written as 1300Z.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. A later Volcanic Ash Advisory Statement (VAAS) for the 21 May 1999 eruption at Fuego, Guatemala. The statement, which was issued the next day, discloses that the eruption had then stopped and the hazard status was lowered. The statement appears on the NOAA Satellite Services Division website (see "Information Contacts," below).

The Washington VAAC received first notification of the Fuego eruption from a routine surface weather observation from Guatemala City at 2000 local time (0200 UTC) on 22 May. They issued the first Volcanic Ash Advisory Statement a half-hour later (figure 2). Six hours later they issued the second Advisory Statement (figure 3). The Advisories were composed by staff of the Satellite Analysis Branch, one of the two NOAA components forming the Washington VAAC (Streett, 1999; Washington VAAC).

The section "Details of ash cloud" first says that the "surface observation from Guatemala City indicate that the Fuego volcano is in eruption" and that no additional information is available and then briefly describes in words observations that came from satellite imagery. The first sentence, "No eruption . . ." is self-explanatory, but highlights a limitation of the method in use that needs to be emphasized to aviators: an eruption may have occurred but its status is not revealed on the imagery. The sentence, "No eruption could be detected due to thunderstorm cloudiness covering the area around the volcano" is self-explanatory. Less clear is the term convective debris. It does not refer to ash; rather, it refers to remnants of thunderstorms. The gist of these latter two sentences is simply that the thunderstorms that covered the area made it challenging or impossible to see the ash on satellite imagery. Central American thunderstorm clouds typically can reach altitudes of more than 12,000 m (40,000 feet), and can mask or obscure airborne ash residing below that level.

Members of the Washington VAAC commented that this eruption demonstrates key problems that can arise when cloudy conditions prevent satellite detection of ash, foiling a primary mode of analysis. In such cases, they rely on ground observers (including observatories and weather observers), pilot reports, and reports from airlines. Thus, their ability to issue useful information in cloudy conditions depends on the quality of communications with local observers, the Meteorological Watch Office, volcanologists, geophysical observatories, and the aviation community.

The Advisory Statement listed México City weather balloon data acquired 1,050 km NW of Guatemala City. In retrospect, the Washington VAAC noted that they generally avoid using such distant sounding data. If a closer sounding cannot be found, they prefer to use upper-level wind forecasts taken from a numerical weather model. In any case, the scarcity of local sounding data presents a challenge to the realistic analysis of airborne ash.

The outlook section says to "see SIGMETS." SIGMETS are the true warnings to aircraft for SIGnificant METeorological events. They are issued by regional Meteorological Watch Offices (MWOs), in this case the MWO (for Guatemala) is in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. SIGMETS were lacking for this eruption; although the Washington VAAC tried to contact the MWO without response. Another complexity confronted at the VAAC is a lack of a single scale for communicating a volcano's hazard status.

Reporting of aviation ash encounters. In personal communications with Bulletin editors, airline personnel stated that many more encounters have occurred than have yet been tallied in publically accessible literature. In accord with those assertions, the 21 May 1999 encounters are absent from reports compiled by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, 2001). In that document (Appendix I, table 3A, p. I-12) Fuego fails to appear as a source vent for any aircraft-ash encounter. Pacaya is listed for two encounters, in January 1987 and in May 1998 (BGVN 23:05).

Even though the number of encounters was probably under-represented and thus reflects a minimum, ICAO (2001) notes that the international costs to aviation since 1982 summed to well in excess of $250 million. They noted, "In addition to its potential to cause a major aircraft accident, the economic cost of volcanic ash to international civil aviation is staggering. This involves numerous complete engine changes, engine overhauls, airframe refurbishing... aircraft downtime... [and] volcanic ash clearance from airports and the damage caused to equipment and buildings on the ground."

The incidents here suggest that there has been a strong bias toward under-reporting aircraft-ash encounters. If this tentative conclusion is correct, it implies consistent understatements of the hazard's magnitude. This, in turn, may have thwarted meaningful analysis of how and whether to proceed with designing more robust hazard-reduction systems. Accordingly, resources that could have been devoted to the problem have not yet been committed (see Gimmestad and others, 2001 for a discussion of a prototype on-board ash-detection instrument).

Communication challenges. While much of the aviation community needs to learn about volcanism rapidly, dependably, and with the aid of the Internet, some observers charged with reporting volcanic-ash hazards in Central and South America lack access to basic communication devices like reliable telephones and fax machines. To reduce the risks, the aviation, meteorological, remote sensing, and volcanological communities need to improve their ability to pass critical information to each other rapidly and precisely. The operational systems related to volcanic ash and aviation must transcend numerous boundaries (eg., languages, infrastructure, funding, governments, agencies, air carriers, pilots, aircraft manufactures, etc.). The systems need to portray complex, dynamic processes such as the rapid rise of an explosive plume, or large-scale ash-cloud movement.

Although the infrastructure for ash avoidance is greater than ever, members of the Washington VAAC have told Bulletin editors that they still depend heavily on people on the scene of the eruption to notify them promptly when eruptions occur. They said that thus far in parts of Central and South America a problem has been the expense of communication (eg., by phone, fax, and Internet). They also said that for the same regions the U.S. meteorological database regularly lacks pilot reports. Though serious, these problems have at least been identified and their solutions would appear to lack great technical or economic barriers.

The pilots involved in the May 1999 encounter recommended that far more emphasis be placed on forecasting and avoiding ash plumes. Other pilots cited the need for fast and accurate communications between those who observe eruptive activity and air traffic control personnel.

Issues like these continue to be an important subject at gatherings on the topic of ash hazards in aviation (Casadevall, 1994; Streett, D., 1999; Washington VAAC, 1999). The Airline Dispatcher's Federation (ADF) will participate in a 7-9 May 2002 conference and workshop: "Operational Implications of Airborne Volcanic Ash: Detection, Avoidance, and Mitigation." The gathering will provide the pilot and dispatcher with insights into volcanic ash, including its characteristics, affects on aircraft, detection/tracking, effective warning systems, and mitigation. A "hands-on" exercise will make this the first gathering of its kind to provide lab-style instruction on interpretation of satellite and wind data, and on models of ash trajectory and dispersion. Representatives from the Boeing company, and a host of US government agencies and non-governmental organizations will attend. The workshop will include lectures, demonstrations, laboratory exercises, and a simulated-eruption exercise involving volcanologists, forecasters, controllers, dispatchers, and pilots.

A second international symposium on ash and aviation safety is being planned by the U.S. Geological Survey, organized by Marianne Guffanti. It will be held in Washington, D.C. in September 2003.

References. Casadevall, T.J. (ed.), 1994, Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Volcanic Ash and Aviation Safety: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2047, 450 p.

Gimmestad, G.G., Papanicolopoulos, C.D., Richards, M.A., Sherman, D.L., and West, L.L., 2001, Feasibility study of radiometry for airborne detection of aviation hazards, NASA/CR-2001-210855; Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, Georgia, 51 p. (URL: http://techreports.larc.nasa.gov/ltrs/PDF/2001/cr/).

Hefter, J.L., 1998, Verifying a volcanic ash forecasting model, Airline Pilot, v. 67, no. 5, pp. 20-23, 54.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), 2001, Manual on volcanic ash, radioactive material, and toxic chemical clouds, doc 9691-AN/954 (first edition): 999 University St., Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3C 5H7 (purchasing information: sales_unit@icao.int).

Rose, W.I., Bluth, J.S.G., Schneider, D.L., Ernst, G.G.J., Riley, C.M., Henderson, L.J., and McGimsey, R.G., 2001, Observations of volcanic clouds in the first few days of atmospheric residence: The 1992 eruptions of Crater Peak, Mount Spurr volcano, Alaska, Jour. of Geology, v. 109, p. 677-694.

Salinas, Leonard J., 2001, Volcanic ash clouds pose a real threat to aircraft safety: United Airlines, Chicago, Illinois (URL: http://www.dispatcher.org/library/VolcanicAsh.htm).

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.

Streett, D., 1999, Satellite-based Volcanic Ash Advisories and an Ash Trajectory Model from the Washington VAAC: Eighth Conference on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology, 10-15 January 1999, Dallas, Texas; American Meteorological Society, p. 290-294.

Washington VAAC, 1999, Operations of the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, in Aeronautical meteorological offices and their functions, and meteorological observation networks: Third Caribbean/South American Regional Air Navigation Meeting (Car/sam/ran/3); Buenos Aires, Argentina, 5 - 15 October, 1999; International Civil Aviation Organization (http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/ VAAC/PAPERS/carsam.html).

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

Information Contacts: Captain Edward Miller, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Air Safety & Engineering Department, 535 Herndon Parkway, PO Box 1169, Herndon, VA 22070-1169, USA; Grace Swanson and Davida Streett, Washington VAAC, Satellite Analysis Branch (NOAA/NESDIS), 4700 Silver Hill Road, Stop 9910, Washington, DC 20233-9910, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/); Bill Rose, Geological Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA.


Karymsky (Russia) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Karymsky

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Elevated seismicity; possible explosions and avalanches in March 2002

Episodes of increased seismicity occurred during December 2000 through September 2001 (BGVN 26:08). Since then seismic activity at Karymsky has remained mostly above background levels. The Concern Color Code remained at Yellow ("volcano is restless") through at least late March 2002. Apparent steam plumes were seen in satellite imagery during January-March 2002.

On 4 January 2002, the Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) reported above-background seismicity during the previous week, with 40 to 80 weak local earthquakes occurring per day. Several shallow seismic events suggested gas-ash explosions. Beginning at 1200 on 10 January the number of local earthquakes increased noticeably. During 11-14 January about 200 weak local shallow seismic events occurred per day.

During late January through at least March 2002, the seismic station typically recorded approximately 10 local shallow earthquakes per hour. Around 24 January, the earthquakes became slightly stronger. The character of the seismicity during mid-March suggested weak ash-gas explosions and avalanches.

The Tokyo VAAC reported that on 1 February at 1810 an eruption produced an ash cloud that reached ~7.5 km above the summit and drifted to the E; however, the cloud was not visible on satellite imagery. On 13 February at 0945 a pilot reported an ash cloud to ~3.5 km above the volcano extending to the W. Again, this cloud was not visible on satellite imagery; it may have been a single burst that dissipated rapidly.

No ash was detected in satellite images during the report period; only steam and possible airborne volcanic aerosols were visible during late February. Thermal anomalies and plumes were visible on AVHRR satellite imagery throughout the report period (table 1).

Table 1. Thermal anomalies and plumes visible on AVHRR satellite imagery at Karymsky during January through March 2002. Courtesy KVERT.

Date Time (local) Size (pixels) Max. band-3 temperature Background temperature Visible plume
19 Jan 2002 1659 2 31.6°C -21°C --
19 Jan-25 Jan 2002 2-4 -3.7 to 35.0°C -16 to -25°C --
21 Jan 2002 1614 -- -- -- Steam plume extending 45 km SE
27 Jan 2002 1711 1 47.7°C -22°C --
28 Jan 2002 1646 -- -- -- Small steam plume extending 30 km NE
03 Feb-08 Feb 2002 -- 2-10 49.7 to -7°C -15 to -30°C --
05 Feb-06 Feb 2002 -- -- -- -- Steam plume extending 100-150 km E
08 Feb 2002 0536 4 5.7°C -22°C --
13 Feb 2002 0538 4 0.1°C -23°C --
13 Feb 2002 1202 4 -1.7°C -22 to -28°C --
13 Feb 2002 1708 4 ~49°C -20°C 20-km long steam plume moving SW
14 Feb 2002 1644 5 39°C -8°C Small plume extending N
17 Feb 2002 0544 1 -3°C -22°C --
18 Feb 2002 1649 4 32°C -10°C Short plume extending NE
19 Feb 2002 1622 -- -- -- Small steam plume extending 100 km E
20 Feb 2002 0613 4 24.9°C -24°C --
21 Feb 2002 0550 4 -4.2°C -25°C --
22 Feb-01 Mar 2002 -- 1-4 12 to 40°C -10 to -27°C --
22 Feb 2002 1650 -- -- -- Very diffuse cloud observed that could be related to volcanic aerosols
27 Feb 2002 1635 -- -- -- 20-km long faint steam plume extended E
02 Mar-08 Mar 2002 -- 1-4 1 to 15°C -17 to -24°C --
06 Mar 2002 1708 -- -- -- Bifurcated steam plume; first branch extended 10 km NE and the second branch extended 20 km SE
16 Mar-22 Mar 2002 -- 2-4 -6.8 to 35.6°C 0 to -20°C --
19 Mar-20 Mar 2002 -- -- -- -- Small steam/aerosol plume extending SE
22, 25 Mar 2002 -- 1-3 -6.8 and 14°C -20°C --

General Reference. Khrenov, A.P., and others, 1982, Eruptive activity of Karymsky Volcano over the period of 10 Years (1970-1980): Volcanology and Seismology, no. 4, p. 29-48.

Tokarev, P.I., 1990, Eruptions and seismicity at Karymskii volcano in 1965-1986: Volcanology and Seismology, v. 11, p. 117-134 (in English).

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; Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC),Tokyo, Japan (URL: https://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/).


Kilauea (United States) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava stops entering sea during January, tilting in late March-April 2002

This report discusses activity at Kilauea during mid-January through mid-April 2002. The flow of lava into the ocean in September (BGVN 26:12) at the Kamoamoa entry and, to a lesser extent, at the E Kupapa'u entry, terminated by the end of January. During February through mid-March lava flowed on the surface at elevations above or on the Pulama Pali slope and along the Kamoamoa lava tube system. Volcanic tremor occurred at moderate levels, and long-period (LP) earthquakes were registered below the caldera. In mid-March incandescence was visible from Pu`u `O`o crater. Incoming lava flooded the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater and excess lava flowed through lava tubes down the Pulama Pali slope to the coastal plain. Heightened activity continued and in early April a series of deflation and inflation events occurred. LP earthquakes increased and on 6 April observations of the crater lake in Pu`u `O`o crater revealed that the lava had risen to 17 m below the E rim.

Geophysical activity. Tiltmeters across the volcano showed no significant deformation until mid-March, although an M 4.1 earthquake had occurred at 0118 on 18 January. The earthquake was located 4 km SSE of the Pu`u `O`o crater at a depth of 9.1 km. During the following several days volcanic tremor remained moderate to strong at Pu`u `O`o. The swarm of long-period (LP) earthquakes at the summit continued through March. Just after 0300 on 27 March a small earthquake beneath the caldera triggered more than 30 minutes of increased tremor and small earthquakes.

Sharp deflation at Pu`u `O`o on 28 March accompanied a change in eruptive activity at the cone. On 31 March volcanic tremor was low-to-moderate at Pu`u `O`o and the continuing weak tremor below the caldera was broken occasionally by small LP earthquakes. Associated tilt across the volcano was flat or only changed slightly.

During 4-6 April, a series of deflation and inflation events occurred. In terms of tilt, at ~2100 on 4 April, Kilauea's summit deflated (~1.7 µrad); 30 minutes later Pu`u `O`o followed (~9 µrad). This was reversed at 1600 on 5 April when rapid inflation began at the summit and ~12 minutes later at Pu`u `O`o. At 1700 inflation ended at the summit, and it abruptly deflated, as did Pu`u `O`o at 1800. Subsequently, tilt at Pu`u `O`o oscillated three times between rapid deflation and slower inflation. The tilt temporarily decreased, but at 0508 on 6 April another interval of 4.5 oscillations occurred followed by resumed tilt and slow, bumpy inflation. During this turbulent period LP earthquakes increased at the summit while tremor remained steady at Pu`u `O`o. By 7 April tilt was relatively steady, volcanic tremor at Pu`u `O`o was moderate, and tremor at the summit was low to moderate.

Lava flows. During mid-January surface lava traveled along the upper portion of the flow field above the Pulama pali slope and onto the coastal flat. Surface lava also emerged along the Kamoamoa lava tube system and traveled down the Pulama pali slope. These surface flows continued to be visible through February, although the flow reaching the coastal plain had stopped at the end of January. At times during early March several rootless shields (a pile of lava flows built over a lava tube rather than over a conduit feeding magma) were active. During 12-19 March a bright glow was widely visible over Kilauea from Pu`u `O`o crater and from a rootless shield near 665 m elevation where the most intense surface activity occurred.

By 18 March lava had flooded the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater resulting in surface lava flows and lava flowing through tubes. Lava spread out on the lower fan and adjacent coastal flat, although the fronts of the flows remained ~2.3 km from the ocean. At the base of the lava fan and on the adjacent coastal flat the rootless shields remained active and small surface lava flows persisted through mid-April.

Eruptive activity changed on 28 March, as noted above, and overflight observations revealed new lava located W of the main crater. Observers also saw lava fountaining and forming a circulating pond. By 31 March a lava flow was visible on the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater and several vents were incandescent. During a brief visit to Pu`u `O`o on 6 April observers noticed that the crater lake had risen ~8 m since 29 March (the lake surface was 17 m below the E rim), several cones were active, and lava was flowing into the lava lake from two vents. By the following day activity had decreased and by 8 April incandescence was no longer visible at Pu`u `O`o.

General References. Decker, R.W., Wright, T.L., and Stauffer, P.H., 1987, (eds.), Volcanism in Hawaii: USGS Professional Paper 1350, 1667 p. (64 papers).

Ryan, M.P., 1988, The mechanics and three-dimensional internal structure of active magmatic systems: Kilauea volcano, Hawaii: JGR, v. 93, p. 4213-4248.

Dzurisin, D., Koyanagi, R.Y., and English, T.T., 1984, Magma supply and storage at Kilauea volcano, Hawaii, 1956-1983: JVGR, v. 21, no. 3/4, p. 177-207.

Heliker, C., Griggs, J.D., Takahashi, T.J., and Wright, T.L., 1986/7, Volcano monitoring at the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: Earthquakes and Volcanoes, v. 18, no. 1, p. 3-71.

Geologic Background. Kilauea, which overlaps the E flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano, has been Hawaii's most active volcano during historical time. Eruptions are prominent in Polynesian legends; written documentation extending back to only 1820 records frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions that were interspersed with periods of long-term lava lake activity that lasted until 1924 at Halemaumau crater, within the summit caldera. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1500 years ago and during the 18th century; eruptions have also originated from the lengthy East and SW rift zones, which extend to the sea on both sides of the volcano. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1100 years old; 70% of the volcano's surface is younger than 600 years. A long-term eruption from the East rift zone that began in 1983 has produced lava flows covering more than 100 km2, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.

Information Contacts: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), U.S. Geological Survey, PO Box 51, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718, USA (URL: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/).


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Manam

Papua New Guinea

4.08°S, 145.037°E; summit elev. 1807 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Mild eruptions during January-February 2002

Activity at Manam remained relatively low following a 4 June 2000 eruption (BGVN 25:07). During August and September 2001, the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory (RVO) reported occasional emissions of weak-to-moderate volumes of white vapor. Weak emissions were also observed from South Crater.

On 13 January 2002 mild eruptive activity began from South Crater. Weak gray-brown ash clouds were emitted at 5-10 minute intervals. Fine, light ashfall was reported on the NE side of the island. Ashfall was reported again on 16, 20, 21, 22, 26, 29, 30, and 31 January, produced by activity ranging from gentle emissions to forceful projections of weak-to-moderate gray-brown and occasionally dark-gray ash clouds, during periods lasting a few hours. Most of the activity was accompanied by weak, deep, low roaring and rumbling noises. Explosion noises were heard on 20 January, and incandescence was observed on 17 and 20 January. The incandescence on 20 January fluctuated but occasionally intensified and projected glowing lava fragments.

Similar mild eruptive activity continued through much of February. Fine ashfall occurred on the SE part of the island. Weak-to-bright incandescence was observed on 13 February, after a loud explosion at 0225. The explosion was also followed by weak roaring and rumbling noises at one-minute intervals lasting for ~1 hour. During 20-24 February activity decreased and continuous weak volumes of white vapor were emitted. Main Crater released only weak-to-moderate volumes of white vapor.

People living in and near the four valleys (especially those in the NE and SE) were urged to be cautious and remain away from the valleys as much as possible.

More recently, a period of activity began in December 1956 that lasted through January 1966. Lava flows and a nuee ardente from the South Crater occurred in June and December 1974, and intermittent moderate explosive activity has continued, with peaks of activity in 1982 and 1984. The water-tube tiltmeter is located at Tabele Observatory, 4 km from the summit on the SW flank.

General References. de Saint Ours, P., 1982, Potential volcanic hazards at Manam Island: Geological Survey of Papua New Guinea Report 82/22, 19 p.

Scott, B.J., and McKee, C.O., 1986, Deformation, eruptive activity, and earth tidal influences at Manam volcano, Papua New Guinea, 1957-1982: Royal Society of New Zealand Bulletin 24, p. 155-171.

Geologic Background. The 10-km-wide island of Manam, lying 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, is one of the country's most active volcanoes. Four large radial valleys extend from the unvegetated summit of the conical basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks. These valleys channel lava flows and pyroclastic avalanches that have sometimes reached the coast. Five small satellitic centers are located near the island's shoreline on the northern, southern, and western sides. Two summit craters are present; both are active, although most observed eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE valley. Frequent eruptions, typically of mild-to-moderate scale, have been recorded since 1616. Occasional larger eruptions have produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached flat-lying coastal areas and entered the sea, sometimes impacting populated areas.

Information Contacts: Ima Itikarai, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Miyakejima (Japan) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Miyakejima

Japan

34.094°N, 139.526°E; summit elev. 775 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruptive activity decreases; high SO2 flux through April 2002

The following report covers activity at Miyake-jima after February 2001 and through April 2002, but a brief review of previous activity is included. Volcanism renewed at Miyake-jima on 27 June 2000 with a series of underwater eruptions (BGVN 25:05-25:07). Activity through October 2000 was characterized by intrusive events, collapse of the summit crater, explosive events, and degassing. SO2 emissions were high and low levels of ash were intermittently emitted (BGVN 25:09). During October 2000 through mid-February 2001 high volumes of volcanic gas emission continued (BGVN 26:02).

After a large eruption on 18 August 2000, large amounts of volcanic gas, especially SO2, started to discharge. SO2 flux monitoring by COSPEC V has been conducted since 26 August 2000. Monitoring is performed almost daily by the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) and Geological Survey of Japan (GSJ). Figure 14 shows the daily average of SO2 flux during August 2000 through April 2002. The mean flux during September-December 2000 was ~40,000 metric tons per day (t/d). During 2000, the average SO2 flux was 40,000 t/d, and it decreased to 21,000 t/d during 2001. As of March 2002 the average SO2 flux was 10,000-20,000 t/d. During the 26 September 2001 explosion the amount of SO2 degassing was ~15,000 t/d.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Daily averages of SO2 flux at Miyake-jima during August 2000 through April 2002. Courtesy JMA, GSJ, and KSVO.

In November 2001 the GSJ reported that the strong eruptions of July-August 2000, initially thought to be solely phreatic, had been phreatomagmatic. For instance, tephra from the 18 August 2000 eruption was ~30-40% juvenile in nature. Following the 29 August 2000 eruption, activity was much weaker. A summit pit crater or caldera, formed as a result of "drain back" as magma was intruded elsewhere, stabilized in August 2000 with a diameter of 1.4 km.

On 16 March 2001 the JMA reported that the strongest tremor since 29 August 2000 had occurred. Three days later, on 19 March, an eruption produced a black ash cloud that rose 800 m above the volcano.

In mid-May 2001, based on information from the JMA, the Volcanic Research Center reported that no ash clouds had been observed since 19 March. They also reported that steam plumes with abundant SO2 were continuously emitted from the summit caldera to 0.5-2 km above the caldera rim. Continuous SO2 emission released as much as 33,000 to 46,000 metric tons of SO2 per day (figure 14). Low-level seismic activity continued; on 5 May 2001 a total of 446 small low-frequency earthquakes were registered, and on 7 May an M 2.8 earthquake occurred. Global positioning system (GPS) measurements showed steady, continuous deflation of the volcano, though the rate was lower than before September 2000. Very small collapses of the caldera rims were occasionally seen during air inspections.

About 20 small eruptions were recorded by the JMA during 2001 through the end of March 2002. Major eruptions were reported on 27 May, 26-27 September, and 16 October 2001. The eruptions produced ash plumes up to 1,500 m high.

On 25 January 2002 at 1015 Air Force Weather Agency staff detected a faint E-drifting volcanic plume emanating from Miyake-jima on MODIS imagery (figure 15).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. MODIS imagery on 25 January 2002 at 1015 shows a plume drifting E from Miyake-jima. Courtesy AFWA and NASA.

The GSJ reported that as of 1 April 2002, eruptions were continuing and significant quantities of SO2 (10,000-20,000 t/d) discharged from the summit pit crater (figure 14). According to a news report, a minor eruption occurred at Miyake-jima on 2 April shortly after 1000. While evacuated residents were visiting the island, ash rose to ~300 m above the volcano and fell around Miyake-jima. The island is currently uninhabited because activity that began on 26-27 June 2000 prompted officials to order an evacuation on 1 September 2000.

Geologic Background. The circular, 8-km-wide island of Miyakejima forms a low-angle stratovolcano that rises about 1,100 m from the sea floor in the northern Izu Islands about 200 km SSW of Tokyo. The basaltic volcano is truncated by small summit calderas, one of which, 3.5 km wide, was formed during a major eruption about 2,500 years ago. Parasitic craters and vents, including maars near the coast and radially oriented fissure vents, dot the flanks of the volcano. Frequent historical eruptions have occurred since 1085 CE at vents ranging from the summit to below sea level, causing much damage on this small populated island. After a three-century-long hiatus ending in 1469, activity has been dominated by flank fissure eruptions sometimes accompanied by minor summit eruptions. A 1.6-km-wide summit caldera was slowly formed by subsidence during an eruption in 2000; by October of that year the crater floor had dropped to only 230 m above sea level.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Volcanological Division, 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/); Setsuya Nakada and Hidefumi Watanabe, Volcano Research Center, Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan (URL: http://www.eri.u-tokyo.ac.jp/VRC/index_E.html); Akihiko Tomiya, Geological Survey of Japan (GSJ), National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba Central 7, Tsukuba 305-8567, Japan (URL: http://staff.aist.go.jp/a.tomiya/miyakeE.html); Charles Holliday, Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA),106 Peacekeeper Dr., Ste 2NE; Offutt AFB, NE 68113-4039 USA; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Washington, DC 20456-0001, USA (URL: https://www.nasa.gov/); Kusatsu-Shirane Volcano Observatory (KSVO), Tokyo Institute of Technology, Kusatsu, Agatsuma-gun, Gunma 377-17, Japan; Dow Jones News.


Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Report of field work; MODIS imagery from January 2002 eruption

During 17-18 January 2002 Nyiragongo, located ~18 km N of Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) close to the border of Rwanda, erupted an estimated 20 x 106 m3 volume of lava (BGVN 26:12). Lava flows originated from the central crater and from several locations along a huge system of fractures that rapidly developed along the entire S flank of the volcano down to the city of Goma (~400,000 people) on the N shore of Lake Kivu. Goma was then invaded by extensive lava flows, which destroyed at least 13% of the surface of the city before reaching the lake. The advancing lava flows caused the spontaneous evacuation of at least 300,000 people, mostly toward the neighboring town of Gisenyi in Rwanda, and left more than 40,000 people homeless. About 100 people died as a consequence (direct or indirect) of the eruption. This disaster required an urgent public health response to evaluate the hazards to life and health. The assessment was especially important because of the humanitarian crisis in the eastern DRC that led many of the people who had fled from the lava flows to return to the city within one or two days, despite the danger of further eruptive activity or the possible risks arising from the proximity of the cooling lava flows (Baxter, 2002).

The following report, with the exception of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery, was compiled from field visits carried out by the volcanologists representing the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (UN-OCHA): Dario Tedesco, Paolo Papale, Orlando Vaselli, and Jacques Durieux. The team flew over the volcano and Goma in a helicopter on 22 and 24 January, and made field observations during 23 January-4 February. One team member continued studies on Lake Kivu until 13 February. The report provides an initial reconstruction of the main events of the eruption based on reports from local witnesses, observations and reports by researchers at the Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO), a closer inspection of seismograms recorded by GVO seismic stations, and field work by the UN-OCHA team. The UN-OCHA team worked closely with a French-British team of scientists (Patrick Allard, Peter Baxter, Michel Halbwachs, and Jean-Christophe Komorowski), whose report (Allard and others, 2002) will be summarized in a future Bulletin.

Activity during December 2000-January 2002. Since December 2000 the two GVO seismic stations had recorded long-period (LP) earthquake swarms. Commonly, each LP event was shortly followed by volcanic tremor.

On 6 February 2001 Nyamuragira erupted (BGVN 26:01). Following the 2-week eruption, seismicity did not decrease. On the contrary, volcanic tremor and LP earthquakes reappeared at both stations (Bulengo, BSS, S of Nyiragongo and Katale, KSS, NE of Nyiragongo, ~40 km from Bulengo), without showing any particular pattern, from March 2001 through January 2002. During the 10 months that preceded the January 2002 eruption, it was impossible to distinguish which volcano was the source of the seismicity.

In addition to the increased seismic activity, on 5 October strong vibrations were felt and on 7 October a strong tectonic earthquake (M 3.5-4.0), unusual for this region, was felt by the population. This earthquake was followed a few hours later by high-amplitude volcanic tremor.

Field trips by GVO personnel to the summit of Nyiragongo during 29 October-1 November and 8-10 December 2001 revealed several important changes. Immediately after the October tectonic event a white plume was visible inside the 1977 eruptive fracture on top of and inside the Shaheru crater (2 km S of the summit crater) at 2,700 m elevation. A similar plume was emerging from new cracks in the inner wall of the central crater, while a dark plume was visible from the small 1995 spatter cone inside the volcano. The new fumaroles on the side of the small central crater had a temperature of 70°C; the ground temperature, which was normally at 5-9°C, was recorded as 28°C; cracks near Shaheru crater were at ~50°C.

An increase in seismicity similar to that observed during early October occurred beginning on 4 January 2002, when an M > 4 earthquake occurred. On 7 January seismic activity triggered some visible changes, including reactivation of fumarolic activity. Following the 4 January earthquake seismicity remained high until 16 January. The onset of the eruption was preceded by about 8 hours of calm consisting of very low seismicity (without tremor or LP earthquakes).

Eruption during 17-18 January 2002. Early on 17 January a huge system of fractures began to develop on the S flank and eventually extended from high elevations down to Goma and Lake Kivu. The main trend of fractures was N15°W, which is similar to the general trend of the rift valley in the Nyiragongo region. The system of fractures appears to have propagated down from the volcano, starting at 2,800-3,000 m elevation (300-400 m N of the old Shaheru crater), and covering a distance of ~10 km towards Goma in less than 8 hours. The uppermost portion of the fracture started erupting at 0835 on 17 January. A single fracture ~2 m wide was visible above and inside Shaheru. Reactivated during the January event, it corresponded to the eruptive fracture of January 1977. Below the Shaheru crater the fracture was replaced by a more complex system, with two parallel main fractures ~300 m apart, also propagating N15°W. At about 1000 the system of fractures had reached ~1,900 m elevation; they then took ~30 minutes to cross the last system of ancient cones N of Goma, at ~1,700 m. By about 1400 the fractures were in the proximity of the Munigi village on the outskirts of Goma.

As the fractures advanced, several started erupting. Beginning around 1000 and lasting for at least two hours, lava flows escaped at ~1,950-2,000 m elevation S of the ancient Kanyambuzi-Mudjoga tuff cones. Fractures on the gentle slopes N of Goma lacked venting lava along a portion a few kilometers in length, but, at several locations the tips of intruded dykes ascended within only a few ten's of centimeters to a few meters below the ground surface.

At 1610 on 17 January the southernmost system of vents opened S of Munigi village and on the outskirts of Goma at 1,570-1,580 m elevation. Lava flows from these vents affected the Goma airport and destroyed part of the city before reaching the lake. About 10-20 minutes later a new N15°W-oriented fracture began to erupt at 1,950-2,000 m elevation, located ~1.5 km W of the main fracture system. Lava flows from this fracture partially destroyed the western part of Goma without reaching the lake.

Around the same time a fracture a few hundred meters long opened on the NW flank of the cone, at ~2,700-3,000 m elevation as estimated by helicopter, producing a lava flow that did not affect inhabited areas. Unlike the southern fracture system, this fracture had an estimated N30°E to N60°E trend. The eruptive activity at several places along the fracture system on the S flank reportedly lasted through part of the night or even up to daylight on 18 January.

MODIS images on 18, 21, and 27 January showed a hot spot in the vicinity of the volcano (figure 13). The 18 January image showed a single, large hot spot (3-4 pixels wide and ~11 pixels long on the S flank of Nyiragongo. The elongate hot spot had a NNE-SSW orientation. Its proximal section was located about mid-way up the S flank of the volcano (in the vicinity of the Shaheru-Djoga cinder cones and 1977 S-flank fissure) and the distal section was directly over Goma. The hot spot decreased over the following days, and by 27 January was barely visible.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite images on 18, 21, and 27 January showing a hot spot near Nyiragongo during the eruption. The 18 January image shows a single, large hot spot (3-4 pixels wide and ~ 11 pixels long) on the S flank. The hot spot decreased over the following days, and by 27 January was barely visible. Courtesy HIGP/SOEST.

Activity following the eruption. During the night of 21 January some earthquake swarms created panic in the population. During about 0600-1800 on 22 January no earthquakes were felt. However, at about 1800 a sequence began during which ~20 earthquakes were felt in less than 3 hours. The following days were characterized by periods of intense seismicity, alternating with intervals (~10-15 hours) of lower seismic activity.

Seismic events showed quite a range of magnitude, frequency content, and S-P times, suggesting several different origins. The earthquakes that occurred in the days following the eruption were ~M > 5. During the 5 days following the eruption ~100 tectonic earthquakes (M > 3.5) occurred with epicenters in the Goma-Nyiragongo region. Several houses collapsed or were seriously damaged due to seismic loading in Gisenyi, where nine people died as a direct result of roof collapse. Seismic signals showed a typical sequence of tectonic events, followed within minutes to hours by LP events and volcanic tremor lasting continuously for more than 10 hours. Such a sequence, which is identical to the typical sequence recorded during the year preceding the eruption, suggested rock fracturing followed by the intrusion and ascent of magma.

An estimate of the location of seismic events made by comparing the arrival time differences of P- and S-waves at the three seismic stations of Bulengo, Katale, and Goma (the last one provided by the French-British team) showed that on 27 and 28 January the shocks were concentrated in the area between the Nyiragongo crater and Goma, probably 4-6 km N of Lake Kivu. During the first days of February the epicenters of earthquakes were clustered in two areas. The first was along the system of fractures, stretching a few kilometers N and S of Goma (in part, beneath Lake Kivu). The second cluster lay S of the town of Sake, 15-20 km W of Goma, close to the W border of the rift.

Observations during a helicopter flight over the volcano on 21 January revealed that the crater floor (old surface of the 1994-95 lava lake) was cut by a N-S elongated depression (like a small graben) underlain by steaming cracks. The next day witnesses from villages 6 km SW and ~10 km N of the summit crater reported that at about 2100 an earthquake was felt and immediately followed by a red glow or "flames" above the crater. Later that evening fine ash fell along the road from Goma to Sake. On the morning of 23 January ash fell in Goma and at the airport. A helicopter survey revealed a layer of ash on the volcano's upper S and E flanks and devastated vegetation on the crater's N flank.

On 24 January the inside of the crater appeared as a huge cavity with an estimated depth of 800 m and a grayish-yellow colored floor. The old terraces that represented the remnants of the lava lake at different stages of its long history were nearly totally absent. The interpretation is that either the emptying of the lava lake, the fracturing of the system, or more likely both, destabilized the inner part of the crater. Seismic records showed higher-amplitude tremor, presumably related to the crater-floor collapses, starting on 22 January at 2051 and lasting for ~4 hours. During the same flight on 24 January an explosion or a new collapse at the crater produced a small cloud of steam and ash that reached a few hundred meters above the crater rim.

Gas blasts sporadically occurred, mainly after the eruption, ~100-200 m away from the main path of the lava flow in Goma causing displacement of pavement in small buildings. In a small garage in Goma a thick (~10 cm) concrete pavement was cracked and uplifted up to 50-70 cm by the gas blasts.

Observations and research at Lake Kivu. Interesting phenomena were noted on the shore of Lake Kivu in the area of Himbi. Women who used to wash clothes close to the lake observed that the water level had decreased a few centimeters 3-5 days before the eruption. During the night and early morning of 17-18 January waiters at a restaurant observed crabs and crayfish jumping out of the lake. During 20-21 January dead fish and bubbling spots were observed in the small bay close to the restaurant. Waiters stated that the temperature of the lake in those zones had increased and a brown-black stain appeared from the bottom of the lake in an area of several square meters. At the same time an odor of spoiled eggs (suggesting presence of H2S) was present. A similar phenomenon occurred early in the morning (at about 0230) on 30 January after an M 4.5 earthquake. The owners of the restaurant suddenly awoke due to difficulty breathing and the strong smell of rotten eggs. In both cases, the "normal" conditions were reestablished in a "short" (not well-defined) time. Soil-gas measurements indicated that CO2 concentrations reached values up to 20%.

A geochemical survey of the main fluid manifestations in and around the S part of Nyiragongo was carried out during the days after the 17 January eruption. Sampling included water from Lake Kivu, cold and thermal springs, dry vents, and soil gases. The main conclusions of this survey were: 1) contrary to rumors following the entry of lava flows into the lake, lake water only a few meters away from the lava front was not polluted; 2) the geochemical characteristics of water from the lake and from springs on land are close to those found previously by Tietze and others (1980) and Tuttle and others (1990); and 3) the analyzed gases appear to have a clear magmatic origin as revealed by their isotopic signature. An exception to the final conclusion is that gases from the Rambo sampling point, which sits next to a brewery in Gisenyi, appear to represent mixtures between biogenic (organic) and magmatic sources.

Immediately following the eruption, fishermen reported visible changes in the water level at Lake Kivu. This was confirmed by women who visited the lake shore daily for washing or collecting water. A series of measurements was started in close cooperation with the UN field officer Dominic Garcin, who has a vast knowledge of the lake. The first measurements were obtained on 28 January along the shoreline from Gisenyi to Sake. The results confirmed a significant subsidence of the ground and rise of the water level. The subsidence was highest (37 cm) in Goma, then progressively vanished towards the E (~10 cm in Gisenyi but 0 cm ~2 km farther E) and W (0 cm ~15 km W of Goma). After these first measurements, several others were systematically taken along the N shoreline of Lake Kivu as well as around the lake up to ten's of kilometers S of Goma, and at Idjwi Island, ~30 km S of Goma. The measurements showed that ground subsidence is an ongoing phenomenon in the entire rift area near Lake Kivu. One month after the eruption, maximum measured ground subsidence was 50-60 cm at the Goma harbor and at Idjwi Island (figure 14). Scientists note that the February-March westward shifting of the ground subsidence corresponds to a similar westward shifting of epicenters.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Plots showing cumulative, asymmetrical land subsidence in the Goma area across the far S flanks of Nyiragongo. The subsidence was measured with respect to pre-subsidence surface of Lake Kivu, and surveyed along an E-W transect. The four survey dates (all in early 2002) each established the greatest subsidence at Goma, and lesser subsidence towards the East African rift's margins. Courtesy UN-OCHA team.

Conclusions. The characteristics of the erupted products and associated lava flows, together with the available information on the state of the volcano prior the eruption, suggest different dynamics of magma emission in the upper and lower portions of the fracture system. Two different interpretations have been offered. The "magmatic" hypothesis is that the energy for intense fracturing of the volcanic apparatus came from deep magma pushing from below inside the volcanic system. The "tectonic" hypothesis is that the energy for fracturing came from a non-volcanic source and was due to a rifting event related to regional tectonics. Further discussion of both hypotheses is offered in the report by the UN-OCHA team (Tedesco and others, 2002).

Goma is considered at a very high risk should reactivation of the volcano and rift system occur. The security of its inhabitants cannot be guaranteed even with the most sophisticated instrumental network. Thousands of lives can be saved by increased surveillance, continued scientific investigation, contingency plans, and information campaigns.

An outstanding effort by the UN and several donors allowed for the development of short and long-term aid to the Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO). This effort included support for foreign volcanologists, purchase of new equipment, establishing a new monitoring network, and help with logistics (transportation, communications, salaries, etc.). GVO is now publishing weekly reports on volcano activities.

References. Allard, P., Baxter, P., Halbwachs, M., and Komorowski, J-C, 2002, Final report of the French-British scientific team: submitted to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Paris, France, Foreign Office, London, United Kingdom and respective Embassies in Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Rwanda, 24 p.

Baxter, P.J., 2002, Eruption at Nyiragongo volcano, Democratic Republic of Congo, 17-18 January 2002: a report on a field visit to assess the initial hazards of the eruption, 15 p.

Tedesco, D., Papale, P., Vaselli, O., and Durieux, J., 2002, The January 17th, 2002 eruption of Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of Congo: UN-OCHA report, 17 p.

Tietze, K., Geyh, M., Muller, H., Schroder, L. Stahl, W., and Wehner, H., 1980, Geol. Rund., v. 69, p. 452-472.

Tuttle, M.L., Lockwood, J.P., and Evans, W.C., 1990, Natural hazards associated with Lake Kivu in Rwanda and Zaire, central Africa: U.S. Geological Survey, Open File Report 90-691, 47 p.

General Reference. Tazieff, H., 1979, Nyiragongo, the forbidden volcano, translated by J. F. Bernard: Barron's, New York, 287 p. Originally published as Nyiragongo: Flammarion, Paris, 1975.

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

Information Contacts: Dario Tedesco, Dipartimento Scienze Ambientali, Seconda Universita' di Napoli, Via Vivaldi 43, 81100 Caserta, Italy; Paolo Papale, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, via S. Maria, 53, I-56126 Pisa, Italy; Orlando Vaselli, Dipartimento Scienze della Terra, via G. La Pira, 4, 50121 Firenze, Italy; Jacques Durieux, Groupe d'Etude des Volcans Actifs, 6, Rue des Razes 69320 Feyzin, France; Dieudonné Wafula, Goma Volcano Observatory, Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DRC; Andy Harris, Eric Pilger and Luke Flynn, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology at the School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology (HIGP/SOEST), University of Hawaii, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA; Peter Baxter, Department of Community Medicine, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, University Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge, CB2 2SR, United Kingdom.


Pacaya (Guatemala) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Costly 1999 aircraft-ash encounters due to ash plumes

At least two commercial aircraft flew through airborne ash near the Guatemala City airport on 21 May 1999. An eruption from Fuego that day was the first at that volcano since 1987 (BGVN 24:04). Although the aviator's reports attributed the ash from this encounter to Fuego, their aircraft intersected multiple ash plumes in widely different locations, and thus they may also have crossed plumes from Pacaya. The most likely plume near the southern approach to the airport (La Aurora, ~23 km N of Pacaya; ~40 km NE of Fuego) is from the almost constantly active Pacaya. In contrast, Fuego lies 32 km W of Pacaya and was the likely source of a plume intersected later during the flight, at higher altitude, and for much longer duration.

During the encounters the ~100 or more people on board the two aircraft, and many more on the ground, were at risk. Both encounters seriously damaged the aircraft but ended in safe landings without reported injuries. Volcanic ash can cause jet-engine failure, which creates a hazard not only to passengers, but to people on the ground as well. The risk in this situation was amplified by the airport's proximity to urban Guatemala City (population, >1.1 million).

This example leads to two conclusions discussed further below. First, ash avoidance methodology needs further refinement. Second, there exists an apparent bias towards under-reporting of aircraft-ash encounters, which could short-change their cost to air carriers, their perceived risk, and their funding allocation.

The original report of an aircraft-ash encounter was brought to our attention by Captain Edward Miller of the Air Line Pilots Association and provided on the condition that the air carrier remain anonymous. Bulletin editors also wish to acknowledge conversations with several additional anonymous contacts (commercial pilots). This case occurred in Guatemala; however, analogous situations exist at many airports adjacent to volcanoes. Modest eruptions from nearby volcanoes may be uncertain or difficult to see; they may be hard to detect or characterize; yet they still may yield mobile ash plumes carried by complex local winds to confront air traffic (Salinas, 2001; Hefter, 1998; Casadevall, 1994).

Although in most Bulletin reports we favor the use of local time to emphasize the reference frame of people on the scene, most of the source material (satellite and aviation) for this report refer to UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). UTC is the time on the Greenwich meridian (longitude zero), formerly GMT, a term which has fallen out of use. Accordingly, there are cases in this report that lack conversion to local time. Local time in Guatemala is 6 hours behind UTC.

Activity at Fuego and Pacaya. Fuego erupted on 21 May 1999 sending ash to the S, SE, and SW and ultimately dropping up to 40 cm of ash on local settlements (BGVN 24:04). The eruption occurred at 1800 local time (in terms of UTC, at 0000 the next day). Three hours later the eruption decreased and the Aeronautica Civil recommended that planes go no closer to Fuego than 40 km. One hour after that (at 2200 local, 0400 UTC), the atmospheric ash had settled, and Aeronautica Civil recommended flying no closer to Fuego than 15 km.

Bulletin reports for Pacaya in mid-1999 suggested relative calm, in harmony with the observation that it had chiefly been fuming. However, Pacaya is well-known for Strombolian outbursts. It lies directly in-line and only 23 km S of the N10°E-oriented airstrip. As is common for commercial aircraft there, the approaches described below passed very close to Pacaya. Pacaya typically has lower and smaller eruptions than Fuego, but because it lies so close to the southern approach to the airport, Pacaya's ash plumes easily enter the path of landing aircraft. The situation was particularly complex during this eruption because Fuego's ash was reported on cities that lie below the flight path as well as on the Pacaya's flanks.

Pilot's report of aircraft-ash encounter. What follows was taken from one flight crew's description of events and from later reports and dialog on the topic. In order to preserve the confidentiality of the airlines, the precise times of events on 21 May 1999 have been omitted. Pilots reported clear visibility and light wind, with both the capital and the airport in sight. They maneuvered the aircraft for a final approach from the S. Pilots were advised by air traffic control about erupted particulate ("volcanic sand") about 24 km (15 miles) SE of the airport, well away from their projected path to Runway 01. In addition, based on winds they detected as they neared the airport, the pilots concluded that the erupted particulate to the SE was downwind from their projected flight path to the airport. (In retrospect, this conclusion appears tenuous considering the possibility of either a fresh injection of ash from Fuego, or lingering ash in the trailing portion of the plume that lay to the SE.)

At ~32 km (20 miles) distance from the runway, the pilots maneuvered the plane through ~3,000 m (9,700 feet) altitude on a final approach to the airport with the plane's flaps partially extended (at ~15°, which slowed their aircraft to ~260 km/hour (160 mph), its auxiliary power unit (a small jet engine) on, and its landing gear down. Around this point in their descent, pilots saw bright yellow sparks through the windshield lasting a few seconds, a display unlike static electricity, but rather like that from a grinding wheel. This occurred again at 2,500 m (8,200 feet) altitude, but was more intense yet intermittent.

At this time, air-traffic control announced to the pilots that the aircraft landing in front of them had encountered volcanic particulate; they instructed the pilots to abort their landing and climb to 3,350 m (11,000 feet) altitude. Discussions of options and ash avoidance ensued between pilots and air-traffic control; ash had by this time accumulated on the runway, further complicating landing, even for approaches in the opposite direction. The pilots retracted the landing gear, accelerated to ~410 km/hour (~250 mph), began to climb, and after some discussion with air-traffic control, held on a course NE of the airport. They were subsequently cleared to climb to 6,700 m (22,000 feet) altitude and advised to proceed to an alternate airfield.

During the climb, at ~5,800 m (19,000 feet) altitude en-route to the alternate airport, the aircraft encountered volcanic particulate for 10 minutes. Within that interval the plane spent 2 minutes during ascent engulfed in denser and heavier particulate. During that period, window arcing was constant and the beam of their landing lights revealed a conspicuous cloud of reflecting particles. During ash ingestion the engines's speed lacked noticeable fluctuations. The aircraft exited the plume at about 6,100 m (20,000 feet) altitude and landed without encountering additional ash.

Upon landing, the pilots noticed reduced visibility through abraded windshields. Post-flight examination of the airplane revealed heavy damage, requiring the replacement of the engines (US $2 million each) and auxiliary-power-unit engine. (Note, however, that no deterioration in engine power or performance was noticed during the flight.) Other replaced parts included windshields, a heat exchanger, and coalescer bags. Minor damage was seen on the horizontal stabilizer and wing leading-edges.

Volcanic Ash Advisory Statements. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Satellite Services Division website contains two archived statements issued by the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) at Washington, D.C. for Fuego on 21-22 May 1999. The statements, issued to the aviation cummunity to warn of volcanic hazards, are intended for an audience accustomed to special terminology (figures 31 and 32). In the interest of advancing understanding of how volcanological and atmospheric data get transmitted to aviators, we offer brief explanations for many of the terms used (figure 31).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. The first archived Volcanic Ash Advisory Statement (VAAS) for the 21 May 1999 eruption at Fuego, Guatemala. The boxes contain added notes to explain some of the basic conventions and specific details seen here. This Statement currently appears on the NOAA Satellite Services Division website (see "Information Contacts," below). Local names are frequently anglicized, dropping all accents and other non-English characters (eg. México would be written MEXICO). Later Advisories adopted the abbreviation "Z" (pronounced 'Zulu' by aviators) for UTC, as in 1300 UTC written as 1300Z.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. A later Volcanic Ash Advisory Statement (VAAS) for the 21 May 1999 eruption at Fuego, Guatemala. The statement, which was issued the next day, discloses that the eruption had then stopped and the hazard status was lowered. The statement appears on the NOAA Satellite Services Division website (see "Information Contacts," below).

The Washington VAAC received first notification of the Fuego eruption from a routine surface weather observation from Guatemala City at 2000 local time (0200 UTC) on 22 May. They issued the first Volcanic Ash Advisory Statement a half-hour later (figure 31). Six hours later they issued the second Advisory Statement (figure 32). The Advisories were composed by staff of the Satellite Analysis Branch, one of the two NOAA components forming the Washington VAAC (Streett, 1999; Washington VAAC).

The section "Details of ash cloud" first says that the "surface observation from Guatemala City indicate that the Fuego volcano is in eruption" and that no additional information is available and then briefly describes in words observations that came from satellite imagery. The first sentence, "No eruption..." is self-explanatory, but highlights a limitation of the method in use that needs to be emphasized to aviators: an eruption may have occurred but its status is not revealed on the imagery. The sentence, "No eruption could be detected due to thunderstorm cloudiness covering the area around the volcano" is self-explanatory. Less clear is the term convective debris. It does not refer to ash; rather, it refers to remnants of thunderstorms. The gist of these latter two sentences is simply that the thunderstorms that covered the area made it challenging or impossible to see the ash on satellite imagery. Central American thunderstorm clouds typically can reach altitudes of more than 12,000 m (40,000 feet), and can mask or obscure airborne ash residing below that level.

Members of the Washington VAAC commented that this eruption demonstrates key problems that can arise when cloudy conditions prevent satellite detection of ash, foiling a primary mode of analysis. In such cases, they rely on ground observers (including observatories and weather observers), pilot reports, and reports from airlines. Thus, their ability to issue useful information in cloudy conditions depends on the quality of communications with local observers, the Meteorological Watch Office, volcanologists, geophysical observatories, and the aviation community.

The Advisory Statement listed México City weather balloon data acquired 1,050 km NW of Guatemala City. In retrospect, the Washington VAAC noted that they generally avoid using such distant sounding data. If a closer sounding cannot be found, they prefer to use upper-level wind forecasts taken from a numerical weather model. In any case, the scarcity of local sounding data presents a challenge to the realistic analysis of airborne ash.

The outlook section says to "see SIGMETS." SIGMETS are the true warnings to aircraft for SIGnificant METeorological events. They are issued by regional Meteorological Watch Offices (MWOs), in this case the MWO (for Guatemala) is in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. SIGMETS were lacking for this eruption; although the Washington VAAC tried to contact the MWO without response. Another complexity confronted at the VAAC is a lack of a single scale for communicating a volcano's hazard status.

Reporting of aviation ash encounters. In personal communications with Bulletin editors, airline personnel stated that many more encounters have occurred than have yet been tallied in publically accessible literature. In accord with those assertions, the 21 May 1999 encounters are absent from reports compiled by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, 2001). In that document (Appendix I, table 3A, p. I-12) Fuego fails to appear as a source vent for any aircraft-ash encounter. Pacaya is listed for two encounters, in January 1987 and in May 1998 (BGVN 23:05).

Even though the number of encounters was probably under-represented and thus reflects a minimum, ICAO (2001) notes that the international costs to aviation since 1982 summed to well in excess of $250 million. They noted, "In addition to its potential to cause a major aircraft accident, the economic cost of volcanic ash to international civil aviation is staggering. This involves numerous complete engine changes, engine overhauls, airframe refurbishing... aircraft downtime... [and] volcanic ash clearance from airports and the damage caused to equipment and buildings on the ground."

The incidents here suggest that there has been a strong bias toward under-reporting aircraft-ash encounters. If this tentative conclusion is correct, it implies consistent understatements of the hazard's magnitude. This, in turn, may have thwarted meaningful analysis of how and whether to proceed with designing more robust hazard-reduction systems. Accordingly, resources that could have been devoted to the problem have not yet been committed (see Gimmestad and others, 2001 for a discussion of a prototype on-board ash-detection instrument).

Communication challenges. While much of the aviation community needs to learn about volcanism rapidly, dependably, and with the aid of the Internet, some observers charged with reporting volcanic-ash hazards in Central and South America lack access to basic communication devices like reliable telephones and fax machines. To reduce the risks, the aviation, meteorological, remote sensing, and volcanological communities need to improve their ability to pass critical information to each other rapidly and precisely. The operational systems related to volcanic ash and aviation must transcend numerous boundaries (eg., languages, infrastructure, funding, governments, agencies, air carriers, pilots, aircraft manufactures, etc.). The systems need to portray complex, dynamic processes such as the rapid rise of an explosive plume, or large-scale ash-cloud movement.

Although the infrastructure for ash avoidance is greater than ever, members of the Washington VAAC have told Bulletin editors that they still depend heavily on people on the scene of the eruption to notify them promptly when eruptions occur. They said that thus far in parts of Central and South America a problem has been the expense of communication (eg., by phone, fax, and Internet). They also said that for the same regions the U.S. meteorological database regularly lacks pilot reports. Though serious, these problems have at least been identified and their solutions would appear to lack great technical or economic barriers.

The pilots involved in the May 1999 encounter recommended that far more emphasis be placed on forecasting and avoiding ash plumes. Other pilots cited the need for fast and accurate communications between those who observe eruptive activity and air traffic control personnel.

Issues like these continue to be an important subject at gatherings on the topic of ash hazards in aviation (Casadevall, 1994; Streett, D., 1999; Washington VAAC, 1999). The Airline Dispatcher's Federation (ADF) will participate in a 7-9 May 2002 conference and workshop: "Operational Implications of Airborne Volcanic Ash: Detection, Avoidance, and Mitigation." The gathering will provide the pilot and dispatcher with insights into volcanic ash, including its characteristics, affects on aircraft, detection/tracking, effective warning systems, and mitigation. A "hands-on" exercise will make this the first gathering of its kind to provide lab-style instruction on interpretation of satellite and wind data, and on models of ash trajectory and dispersion. Representatives from the Boeing company, and a host of US government agencies and non-governmental organizations will attend. The workshop will include lectures, demonstrations, laboratory exercises, and a simulated-eruption exercise involving volcanologists, forecasters, controllers, dispatchers, and pilots.

A second international symposium on ash and aviation safety is being planned by the U.S. Geological Survey, organized by Marianne Guffanti. It will be held in Washington, D.C. in September 2003.

References. Casadevall, T.J. (ed.), 1994, Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Volcanic Ash and Aviation Safety: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2047, 450 p.

Gimmestad, G.G., Papanicolopoulos, C.D., Richards, M.A., Sherman, D.L., and West, L.L., 2001, Feasibility study of radiometry for airborne detection of aviation hazards, NASA/CR-2001-210855; Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, Georgia, 51 p. (URL: http://techreports.larc.nasa.gov/ltrs/PDF/2001/cr/).

Hefter, J.L., 1998, Verifying a volcanic ash forecasting model, Airline Pilot, v. 67, no. 5, pp. 20-23, 54.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), 2001, Manual on volcanic ash, radioactive material, and toxic chemical clouds, doc 9691-AN/954 (first edition): 999 University St., Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3C 5H7 (purchasing information: sales_unit@icao.int).

Rose, W.I., Bluth, J.S.G., Schneider, D.L., Ernst, G.G.J., Riley, C.M., Henderson, L.J., and McGimsey, R.G., 2001, Observations of volcanic clouds in the first few days of atmospheric residence: The 1992 eruptions of Crater Peak, Mount Spurr volcano, Alaska, Jour. of Geology, v. 109, p. 677-694.

Salinas, Leonard J., 2001, Volcanic ash clouds pose a real threat to aircraft safety: United Airlines, Chicago, Illinois (URL: http://www.dispatcher.org/library/VolcanicAsh.htm).

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.

Streett, D., 1999, Satellite-based Volcanic Ash Advisories and an Ash Trajectory Model from the Washington VAAC: Eighth Conference on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology, 10-15 January 1999, Dallas, Texas; American Meteorological Society, p. 290-294.

Washington VAAC, 1999, Operations of the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, in Aeronautical meteorological offices and their functions, and meteorological observation networks: Third Caribbean/South American Regional Air Navigation Meeting (Car/sam/ran/3); Buenos Aires, Argentina, 5 - 15 October, 1999; International Civil Aviation Organization (http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/ VAAC/PAPERS/carsam.html).

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: Captain Edward Miller, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Air Safety & Engineering Department, 535 Herndon Parkway, PO Box 1169, Herndon, VA 22070-1169, USA; Grace Swanson and Davida Streett, Washington VAAC, Satellite Analysis Branch (NOAA/NESDIS), 4700 Silver Hill Road, Stop 9910, Washington, DC 20233-9910, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/); Bill Rose, Geological Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA.


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Rabaul

Papua New Guinea

4.271°S, 152.203°E; summit elev. 688 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


M 5.6 earthquakes during March 2002 not related to volcanism

After explosions at Tavurvur during June and August 2001, activity decreased through October. During February-March 2002, the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory (RVO) reported that volcanic and seismic activity remained low, with some low-frequency earthquakes recorded. The active vent emitted weak-to-moderate amounts of white vapor. Ground deformation measurements showed no significant changes.

During mid-February, moderate-to-strong gas emissions drifted to the SE and E and damaged vegetation on the adjacent cone South Daughter, suggesting the presence of volcanic gases like sulphur dioxide within the emissions. The last ash-producing activity from Tavurvur occurred in early September 2001. RVO reported that the chance of mild ash activity occurring in the near future is very remote.

A few tectonic earthquakes were felt during mid-February. They were located 35-80 km NW and SW from the Rabaul-Kokopo area. An M 5.6 tectonic earthquake was felt at 0650 on 17 March. The earthquake was located offshore in the Pomio area. On 21 March, some high-frequency earthquakes occurred NE of Rabaul. Since 1995, these high-frequency earthquakes have been associated with eruptive activity at Tavurvur. During mid-March, some earthquakes were felt, unrelated to volcanic activity, that had magnitudes of 5.3-5.6.

Geologic Background. The low-lying Rabaul caldera on the tip of the Gazelle Peninsula at the NE end of New Britain forms a broad sheltered harbor utilized by what was the island's largest city prior to a major eruption in 1994. The outer flanks of the 688-m-high asymmetrical pyroclastic shield volcano are formed by thick pyroclastic-flow deposits. The 8 x 14 km caldera is widely breached on the east, where its floor is flooded by Blanche Bay and was formed about 1400 years ago. An earlier caldera-forming eruption about 7100 years ago is now considered to have originated from Tavui caldera, offshore to the north. Three small stratovolcanoes lie outside the northern and NE caldera rims. Post-caldera eruptions built basaltic-to-dacitic pyroclastic cones on the caldera floor near the NE and western caldera walls. Several of these, including Vulcan cone, which was formed during a large eruption in 1878, have produced major explosive activity during historical time. A powerful explosive eruption in 1994 occurred simultaneously from Vulcan and Tavurvur volcanoes and forced the temporary abandonment of Rabaul city.

Information Contacts: Ima Itikarai, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Sheveluch (Russia) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Sheveluch

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Growing dome, greater seismicity, and plumes to 10 km in early 2002

During late January to early April 2002, seismic activity at Shiveluch remained above background levels and the lava dome in the active crater continued to grow. Explosions, avalanches, pyroclastic flows, and plumes from combinations of steam, gas, and ash, all occurred without warning and rose as high as 7-10 km altitude. Many shallow earthquakes (ML less than or equal to 2.5) occurred within the volcano's edifice along with other shallow seismic events. The Alert Level was raised from Yellow to Orange during a period of increased activity, 12 February-mid-March. Then the Level was returned to Yellow.

Typical activities from the end of January through the first half of February 2002 included weak seismic events and short-lived explosions, which sent ash-gas plumes to heights of 0.8-1.0 km above the ~2.5 km-high dome (reaching 3.3-3.5 km altitude). Occasional explosions sent plumes to higher altitudes; on 25 January a plume rose to ~4.5 km altitude, while an explosive eruption on 1 February sent ash-gas plumes to heights over 5.0 km.

For the latter eruption, Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) satellite images show thermal anomalies up to 10 pixels. Many of these "hot" pixels were at the detector saturation level of 48°C, and appeared against typical background temperatures as low as -25°C. A satellite image on 2 February revealed a 40-pixel thermal anomaly; however, only 5-7 of the pixels had temperatures above 40°C, indicating that only those pixels were influenced by hot material on the ground. The other pixels with elevated temperatures were associated with a cloud caused by hot avalanches.

On the evening of 12 February, the character of the seismicity changed suggesting the occurrence of more intense gas-ash explosions. During the next 30 days, explosions occurred frequently, producing ash-and-gas plumes that rose over 1 km above the dome and occasionally over 3 km above it. On 22 February, a series of shallow seismic events registered for ~1 hour, possibly related to ash-gas explosions or a hot rock avalanche. A similar series was recorded on the night of 27 February, and the next morning observers from Klyuchi town (46 km S) reported a 2-km-long pyroclastic flow to the SE of the dome.

AVHRR images of the resulting plumes showed that some extended to distances of 100 km in various directions, depending upon local wind conditions. A satellite image on 21 February showed a circular ash cloud, 20 km in diameter, at an altitude of ~7.1 km. By 15 March seismic activity declined but remained above background levels. Short-lived explosions continued to send plumes as high as 7.5 km altitude during the last week of March.

Thermal anomalies and pixel size on AVHRR imagery. Dave Schneider (USGS, AVO) provided an explanation of relevant aspects of pixel size and thermal anomalies. The size of a "raw" AVHRR pixel varies across and along the scan of the sensor. The instrument scans from side to side as the satellite moves in orbit. Along the nadir (the line directly beneath the satellite sensor), the pixel size is ~1.1 km on a side. At the far extreme of the scan (55° from nadir) the pixel size increases to 2.4 x 6.5 km. The raw image looks very distorted due to this change in pixel size, so the raw data are resampled to a resolution of 1 x 1 km when processing the data for display. This resampling can generate artifacts, including duplicate "hot" pixels. Analysts usually recognize and account for this problem, and then accurately report the appropriate number of hot pixels.

Another complication is the cause and significance of hot pixels. An AVHRR pixel will begin to appear anomalously warm, compared to its neighbors, when very hot material (hundred's of degrees) occupy a very small percentage of the total pixel area (much less that 1%). So, when a report mentions four hot pixels, and the pixel is 1 km square, one might be tempted to interpret this as 4 km2 of hot material. However, this is not correct. Typically, only a very small portion of a pixel area is hot, but sufficiently hot to reach the pixel's saturation value of ~50°C. The numbers of hot pixels are not all that relevant in an absolute sense. In a relative sense, however, the number of hot pixels can be important, for example, during episodes where we have seen anomalies grow from 1-4 hot pixels and then reach 10-20 hot pixels after an eruption.

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 and Dave Schneider, 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.


Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — March 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Ulawun

Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Isolated tremor episodes and slow deflation through March 2002

An eruption occurred at Ulawun during 25-30 April 2001 (BGVN 26:06). Limited evacuations occurred on 3 May due to the occurrence of relatively high seismic activity and the possibility of further volcanic activity. On 14 June the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory (RVO) recommended that the Alert Level be reduced from 2 to 1. At this stage of alert, people could move back to their homes with the approval of the local disaster committee.

Volcanic tremor began at 2200 on 24 September. It peaked at about 1000 on 27 September and generally declined afterward. By 30 September seismic activity was at moderate levels. During 27-30 September a very slow deflationary trend was detected. Volcanic tremor continued to occur at moderate-to-high levels until it dropped dramatically on 11 October. After 11 October seismicity only consisted of discrete low-frequency earthquakes. On 8 and 9 October loud roaring noises emanated from the volcano.

During October through March 2002 activity was generally low. The main crater produced weak-to-moderate volumes of white and white-gray vapor. The N valley vent occasionally released weak volumes of thin white vapor. RSAM data revealed conspicuous seismicity on 26 October; incandescence was observed that night. A rapid trend of deflation beneath the summit area during the previous two weeks stopped on 24 December.

During mid-February tremor increased to moderate levels for the first time since December 2001. On 21 February weak roaring noises were heard and weak incandescence was visible for a short time. After 22 February tremor returned to background levels. Seismic activity returned to background levels after volcanic tremor ceased on 18 March. Discrete low-frequency earthquakes continued to occur in small numbers. The electronic tiltmeter continued to show long-term deflation of the summit area. Based on recent observations, activity at Ulawun is expected to remain low.

General References. Johnson, R.W., Davies, R.A., and White, A.J.R., 1972, Ulawun volcano, New Britain: Australia Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, Bulletin 142, 42 p.

McKee, C.O., 1983, Volcanic hazards at Ulawun volcano: Geological Survey of Papua New Guinea Report 83/13, 21 p.

Geologic Background. The symmetrical basaltic-to-andesitic Ulawun stratovolcano is the highest volcano of the Bismarck arc, and one of Papua New Guinea's most frequently active. The volcano, also known as the Father, rises above the N coast of the island of New Britain across a low saddle NE of Bamus volcano, the South Son. The upper 1,000 m is unvegetated. A prominent E-W escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and E flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side, and a flank lava-flow complex lies to the south of this valley. Historical eruptions date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions were mildly explosive until 1967, but after 1970 several larger eruptions produced lava flows and basaltic pyroclastic flows, greatly modifying the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Ima Itikarai, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.

Atmospheric Effects

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

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements  Obituaries

Misc Reports

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

Additional Reports  False Reports