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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

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

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


Recently Published Bulletin Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Tengger Caldera

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Unnamed (Tonga) — November 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Unnamed

Tonga

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent explosions continue during March-August 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Semeru (Indonesia) — September 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Semeru

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Saunders

United Kingdom

57.8°S, 26.483°W; summit elev. 843 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pacaya (Guatemala) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava flows and Strombolian explosions continued during February-July 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Colima (Mexico) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Colima

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Masaya (Nicaragua) — August 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake activity declined during March-July 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Occasional weak phreatic explosions during March-July 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Aira (Japan) — July 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Agung (Indonesia) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Agung

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kerinci (Indonesia) — June 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent explosions with ash plumes, February-May 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 27, Number 04 (April 2002)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Chikurachki (Russia)

Eruptive activity that began on 25 January 2002 continued through mid-March

Etna (Italy)

Nine months of relative quiet follow mid-2001 flank eruption

Ijen (Indonesia)

Continuous tremor, volcanic and tectonic earthquakes through April 2002

Kerinci (Indonesia)

Small explosion earthquakes dominate, plumes 600 m above summit

Lokon-Empung (Indonesia)

Ash eruptions and increased seismicity in mid-April, Alert Level raised to 3

Mayon (Philippines)

Declining activity prompts PHIVOLCS to lower Alert Level to 0

Nyiragongo (DR Congo)

French-British scientific team field work report on the 17-18 January eruption

San Cristobal (Nicaragua)

November ash-and-gas emissions; thousands of earthquakes through May 2002

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Rockfalls and pyroclastic flows originate from growing lava dome



Chikurachki (Russia) — April 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Chikurachki

Russia

50.324°N, 155.461°E; summit elev. 1781 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruptive activity that began on 25 January 2002 continued through mid-March

Eruptive activity at Chikurachki began on 25 January 2002. Ash plumes were observed, and a small new crater formed on the SSE part of the summit crater. By mid-February, volcanism decreased, but the Kamchatkan Eruptions Response Team (KVERT) stated that ash explosions could still occur (BGVN 27:01).

During 23-27 February, reports from the town of Severo-Kurilsk revealed renewed activity. On 25, 26, and 27 February ash plumes occasionally rose above the crater and ash fell in the vicinity of Tukharka River. In addition, snow melted very quickly near the volcano. On 8 February an ash plume rose a short distance and drifted NNE. Several clouds were visible on AVHRR satellite imagery that may have been composed of gas and steam from the volcano.

KVERT reported a continuation of eruptive activity through at least 16 March. On that day, beginning at 0700 and lasting until late evening, ash fell in Podgorny settlement, ~20 km SE of the volcano. On a reconnaissance helicopter flight during 1100-1300, observers saw constant gas emissions and sustained ash explosions that rose 200 m above the volcano and extended more than 100 km SE.

Geologic Background. Chikurachki, the highest volcano on Paramushir Island in the northern Kuriles, is actually a relatively small cone constructed on a high Pleistocene volcanic edifice. Oxidized basaltic-to-andesitic scoria deposits covering the upper part of the young cone give it a distinctive red color. Frequent basaltic plinian eruptions have occurred during the Holocene. Lava flows from 1781-m-high Chikurachki reached the sea and form capes on the NW coast; several young lava flows also emerge from beneath the scoria blanket on the eastern flank. The Tatarinov group of six volcanic centers is located immediately to the south of Chikurachki, and the Lomonosov cinder cone group, the source of an early Holocene lava flow that reached the saddle between it and Fuss Peak to the west, lies at the southern end of the N-S-trending Chikurachki-Tatarinov complex. In contrast to the frequently active Chikurachki, the Tatarinov volcanoes are extensively modified by erosion and have a more complex structure. Tephrochronology gives evidence of only one eruption in historical time from Tatarinov, although its southern cone contains a sulfur-encrusted crater with fumaroles that were active along the margin of a crater lake until 1959.

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


Etna (Italy) — April 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Nine months of relative quiet follow mid-2001 flank eruption

This report discusses Etna following the July-August 2001 eruption and through 25 April 2002. According to Boris Behncke, the chief source for this report, this 9-month interval was an unusually quiet one and marked the longest quiet interval since 1995.

A visit to the summit craters on 30 January 2002 revealed low levels of activity and no evidence of energetic outbursts. Loud explosions occurred at intervals of 5-30 minutes within the NW pit of Bocca Nuova, but no solid material was ejected. The rims of the pit were covered with brown lithic ash (which had been emitted in December-January) but there were no blocks or fresh scoriae indicating recent ejections. The pit appeared much the same as in September 2001, with a crescent-shaped flat terrace surrounding a deep, degassing vent in the SE part of the pit.

Most of the present degassing at the summit craters is occurring from a vent in the SW part of the Voragine, which had been much less active during the past 1.5 years. Northeast Crater emitted a fairly dilute plume, and at Southeast Crater, fumarolic activity was concentrated at its W rim where numerous degassing vents lie in a fracture. Mechanized access remained limited after the demise of the cable car and the ski lifts on the S flank during the July-August 2001 eruption (BGVN 26:08 and 27:03). In order to access the summit area one has to hike from ~1,900 m elevation, a trip that takes several hours and leads across the July-August 2001 lava fields.

Numerous small earthquakes, some of which were felt by the local population, were recorded on the S flank (in the area of the largest of the July-August 2001 lava flows), and were interpreted to result from the cooling of the lava. Near-continuous, pulsating emissions of reddish-brown lithic ash began around 9 March at the NW vent of Bocca Nuova, generating a plume that trailed for dozens of kilometers downwind. The same source vent has been the site of deep-seated explosions during the past six months. The emissions may have been caused by collapse within the conduit, which occurred repeatedly after the end of the July-August 2001 eruption, and does not necessarily indicate an intensification of eruptive activity or uprise of fresh magma. On the other hand, the volcano had been quiet for some 8 months at this time, and renewed magmatic activity at the summit was to be expected in the near future.

During the third week of March, emissions of lithic, pink-colored ash continued at Bocca Nuova. These were accompanied by voluminous degassing from Northeast Crater and minor fumarolic activity from Voragine and Southeast Crater. During days without strong wind, these emissions rose vertically to form a spectacular plume that might easily create the impression of true eruptive activity at the summit. However, there is no evidence that fresh magma has risen to near the surface, because no incandescence can be seen at night.

A mid-March summit visit by Giovanni Tomarchio, a cameraman of the Italian television RAI (who is responsible for much of the television footage of Etna in recent years), revealed frequent loud explosions at the SW vent of Bocca Nuova. Although the floor of this vent was not visible, it seemed that the explosions originated somewhere immediately below the visible part of the pit. All recent ejecta were fine lithic ash, which accumulated to form a thick, soft deposit in the summit area. Similar emissions occurred for months at Bocca Nuova during the spring and summer of 1999, prior to the vigorous eruptions at Voragine and Bocca Nuova during September-November of that year.

In late March, after nearly three weeks of ash emissions from Bocca Nuova, Northeast Crater began to emit dark brown to gray ash. The emissions appeared to follow a series of small SE-flank earthquakes during 24-25 March. At least three of the shocks were felt by the local population. On 27 and 28 March the ash emissions from both Bocca Nuova and Northeast Crater rose as distinct puffs to several hundred meters above the summit and seemed more energetic, denser, and darker than during the previous weeks. To a passing airplane pilot they appeared so spectacular that he sent out a warning of an eruption. On 28 March, light ash fell over the S flank as far as Catania (~25 km SSE).

Whether Etna is back in magmatic eruption is the subject of debate. The ash that came from the two craters consisted of fine-grained fragments of rock and was derived from the conduit walls and thus contained no new magmatic material. The ash that fell in Catania on 28 March was distinctly darker than the ash that fell in the summit area during the previous weeks and may contain a certain proportion of juvenile magmatic material, although microscopic examination has not been conducted to confirm this. No glow has been seen so far at the summit during night observations, so it seems unlikely that magma has reached the surface. On 29 March two impressive columns bearing dark ash rose nearly continuously from the two craters to several hundreds of meters (~800 m at one point) above the summit. Shifting winds carried the plume E, S, and W.

During late March through 2 April ash emission continued without interruption from Bocca Nuova, while at Northeast Crater it had apparently stopped. Light ashfalls occurred in downwind areas, at times extending as far as Catania. The emissions took the form of billowing brown plumes, which at times rose several hundred meters above the summit. No incandescence was seen at night. Weather prevented observations after the afternoon of 2 April.

The summit became visible again on 6 April. Bocca Nuova continued to produce weak expulsions of brown-colored (probably lithic) ash, while Northeast Crater emitted only white vapor. Two small (M ~3) earthquakes occurred under the SE flank on 4 April. On 13 April two earthquakes (M 2.7-3) were felt by residents on the SE flank (between the towns of Zafferana and Santa Venerina), their epicenters lying in an area named "Salto della Giumenta," located ~5 km NW of Zafferana. Press sources citing scientists of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia of Catania gave focal depths of ~4 km below the surface. Numerous earthquakes had occurred within the past few weeks in this area, although their correlation with magma movement within the volcano remained unclear.

Ash emissions continued almost constantly at Bocca Nuova. On 14 April these appeared to be dark gray, and at times were emitted forcefully enough to form plumes several hundred meters high. No incandescence was seen during night observations. A dense plume of brownish-gray ash drifted from Etna's summit across the E sky of Catania as Bocca Nuova emitted pulverized rock from its SE vent. Voragine and Northeast craters gave off dense steamy plumes.

In late April heavy snow fell on Etna; snow-cover reached down to ~1,400 m elevation and access to the summit area was reduced. The snow provided a good opportunity to observe the hot areas at the summit and to confirm that no recent lava outflows have taken place. Snow was melting rapidly on the cones of the summit craters and along the fracture that extends NNE from Southeast Crater. Since 23 April, Bocca Nuova's ash emissions, which had been nearly continuous since early March, decreased markedly. The only visible summit activity during 24-25 April consisted of apparently ash-free gas emissions, mostly from Bocca Nuova and Northeast Crater. Nine months after the climax of its most recent flank eruption, Etna continues its unquiet slumber.

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.


Ijen (Indonesia) — April 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Ijen

Indonesia

8.058°S, 114.242°E; summit elev. 2769 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuous tremor, volcanic and tectonic earthquakes through April 2002

During 7 January through at least 19 May 2002 at Ijen, seismicity was higher than normal. Shallow volcanic and tectonic earthquakes were recorded (table 3). One small explosion earthquake was recorded during the week of 28 January-3 February. A total of three deep volcanic (A-type) earthquakes were registered during early May. Continuous tremor occurred with a maximum amplitude of 0.5-4 mm until mid-March, when it decreased to 0.5-2 mm. During 8-14 April, a white, thin, medium-pressure plume rose 50 m above the summit crater. The following week, the tremor increased to 0.5-6 mm maximum amplitude and remained at similar levels through at least 19 May. The Alert Level remained at 2 during the report period.

Table 3. Earthquakes recorded at Ijen during 7 January through 19 May 2002. Courtesy VSI.

Date Shallow volcanic earthquakes (B-type) Tectonic earthquakes
07 Jan-13 Jan 2002 5 2
14 Jan-20 Jan 2002 -- --
21 Jan-27 Jan 2002 -- --
28 Jan-03 Feb 2002 9 1
04 Feb-10 Feb 2002 1 3
11 Feb-17 Feb 2002 4 1
18 Feb-24 Feb 2002 8 --
25 Feb-03 Mar 2002 9 3
04 Mar-10 Mar 2002 12 4
11 Mar-17 Mar 2002 2 2
18 Mar-24 Mar 2002 1 --
25 Mar-31 Mar 2002 2 2
01 Apr-07 Apr 2002 -- 2
08 Apr-14 Apr 2002 2 --
15 Apr-21 Apr 2002 9 2
22 Apr-28 Apr 2002 11 1
29 Apr-05 May 2002 70 4
06 May-12 May 2002 42 3
13 May-19 May 2002 22 4

Geologic Background. The Ijen volcano complex at the eastern end of Java consists of a group of small stratovolcanoes constructed within the large 20-km-wide Ijen (Kendeng) caldera. The north caldera wall forms a prominent arcuate ridge, but elsewhere the caldera rim is buried by post-caldera volcanoes, including Gunung Merapi, which forms the high point of the complex. Immediately west of the Gunung Merapi stratovolcano is the historically active Kawah Ijen crater, which contains a nearly 1-km-wide, turquoise-colored, acid lake. Picturesque Kawah Ijen is the world's largest highly acidic lake and is the site of a labor-intensive sulfur mining operation in which sulfur-laden baskets are hand-carried from the crater floor. Many other post-caldera cones and craters are located within the caldera or along its rim. The largest concentration of cones forms an E-W zone across the southern side of the caldera. Coffee plantations cover much of the caldera floor, and tourists are drawn to its waterfalls, hot springs, and volcanic scenery.

Information Contacts: Dali Ahmad, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI) (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/).


Kerinci (Indonesia) — April 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small explosion earthquakes dominate, plumes 600 m above summit

During January-May 2002, seismic activity at Kerinci was dominated by small explosion earthquakes. Plumes reached up to 600 m above the summit (table 2). An explosion during 0950-1030 on 4 May produced ash that rose 400 m above the summit. The Alert Level remained at 2 throughout the report period.

Table 2. Seismicity and plume observations at Kerinci during 7 January through 19 May 2002. Courtesy VSI.

Date Deep volcanic Shallow volcanic Small explosion Tectonic Plume observations
07 Jan-13 Jan 2002 4 3 263 3 White thin-thick medium-pressure plume rose 50-100 m and drifted E.
14 Jan-20 Jan 2002 -- -- 409 7 --
21 Jan-27 Jan 2002 4 -- 391 13 A minor explosion on 26 January produced a dark gray plume that rose ~100-600 m above the summit.
28 Jan-03 Feb 2002 1 -- 630 9 Gray plume reached 500 m above the summit.
04 Feb-10 Feb 2002 -- 4 461 10 A minor explosion on 8 February produced a thick gray ash plume that rose 500 m above the summit.
11 Feb-17 Feb 2002 1 -- 172 2 White thick plume rose 50-300 m.
18 Feb-24 Feb 2002 1 -- 133 6 White thick plume 50-300 m above the summit.
25 Feb-03 Mar 2002 -- 1 628 4 White thick plume 50-300 m above the summit.
03 Mar-10 Mar 2002 -- -- 673 -- White thick medium-pressure plume 50-400 m above the summit.
11 Mar-17 Mar 2002 -- -- continuous 6 White thick medium-pressure plume 50-500 m above the summit.
18 Mar-24 Mar 2002 1 3 continuous 5 White brown thick plume ~100-500 m above the summit; drifted E.
25 Mar-31 Mar 2002 -- 1 continuous 8 White brown thick medium-high pressure plume 100-500 m above the summit; drifted E.
01 Apr-07 Apr 2002 4 2 294 6 White-brownish medium-high pressure plume 100-500 m above the summit; drifted E.
08 Apr-14 Apr 2002 1 1 262 4 White thick darkish medium-high pressure plume 50-300 m above the summit; drifted E.
15 Apr-21 Apr 2002 1 -- 272 7 White thick medium-high pressure plume rose 50-500 m above the summit; drifted E.
22 Apr-28 Apr 2002 1 0 352 8 White thin-thick medium-high pressure plume rose 50-400 m above the summit.
29 Apr-05 May 2002 3 0 continuous 6 White-brownish ash plume rose 400 m above the summit.
06 May-12 May 2002 3 2 continuous 1 --
13 May-19 May 2002 1 2 285 8 --

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

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


Lokon-Empung (Indonesia) — April 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Lokon-Empung

Indonesia

1.358°N, 124.792°E; summit elev. 1580 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash eruptions and increased seismicity in mid-April, Alert Level raised to 3

An eruption at Lokon on 9 February, triggered by extensive rainfall, sent ash plumes to 1 km and deposited ash in surrounding villages. Activity then decreased significantly and remained low through February 2002 (BGVN 27:02). During February through at least April, Tompaluan crater emitted plumes 50-350 m above the crater rim.

During early April deep and shallow volcanic earthquakes increased (table 2). Eruptions on 10 and 12 April ejected glowing material from the crater. A thick white-gray ash plume rose 1 km above the crater rim. During 13-14 April gas/ash explosions occurred nearly continuously, with eight explosions on 13 April and five on the 14th. Ash explosions rose 50-75 m above the crater rim. Tremor amplitude increased from 0.5-2 mm on 11 April to 4-48 mm by 14 April. The Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI) raised the Alert Level to 3 on 12 April. A total of 25 and 68 small explosions per week were registered during 22-28 April and 29 April-5 May, respectively. During the following weeks the number of small explosions dropped to only 6 per week. As of 26 May, tremor fluctuated (0.5-30 mm amplitude) and gas explosions continued.

Table 2. Earthquakes recorded at Lokon during 11 February through 26 May 2002. Courtesy VSI.

Date Deep volcanic (A-type) Shallow volcanic (B-type) Tectonic
11 Feb-17 Feb 2002 -- 2 17
18 Feb-24 Feb 2002 4 1 41
25 Feb-03 Mar 2002 -- 3 16
04 Mar-10 Mar 2002 -- 1 34
11 Mar-17 Mar 2002 -- 1 28
18 Mar-24 Mar 2002 10 11 11
25 Mar-31 Mar 2002 -- 1 17
01 Apr-07 Apr 2002 44 78 12
08 Apr-14 Apr 2002 90 184 10
15 Apr-21 Apr 2002 -- 34 43
22 Apr-28 Apr 2002 13 81 35
29 Apr-05 May 2002 2 7 25
06 May-12 May 2002 111 482 18
13 May-19 May 2002 84 207 35

Geologic Background. The twin volcanoes Lokon and Empung, rising about 800 m above the plain of Tondano, are among the most active volcanoes of Sulawesi. Lokon, the higher of the two peaks (whose summits are only 2 km apart), has a flat, craterless top. The morphologically younger Empung volcano to the NE has a 400-m-wide, 150-m-deep crater that erupted last in the 18th century, but all subsequent eruptions have originated from Tompaluan, a 150 x 250 m wide double crater situated in the saddle between the two peaks. Historical eruptions have primarily produced small-to-moderate ash plumes that have occasionally damaged croplands and houses, but lava-dome growth and pyroclastic flows have also occurred. A ridge extending WNW from Lokon includes Tatawiran and Tetempangan peak, 3 km away.

Information Contacts: Dali Ahmad, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI) (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/).


Mayon (Philippines) — April 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Mayon

Philippines

13.257°N, 123.685°E; summit elev. 2462 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Declining activity prompts PHIVOLCS to lower Alert Level to 0

Eruptions at Mayon in June and July 2001 were followed by a decrease in seismic activity beginning on 10 August. Low-frequency volcanic earthquakes and SO2 fluxes were still high and were probably related to shallow magma degassing. While various monitoring parameters continued to reflect significant unrest, the general trend was one of declining activity (BGVN 26:08).

Volcanic activity remained low during August. There was relatively little seismicity, slight inflation, occasional observations of incandescence at the summit, and a moderate amount of steam emission. SO2 flux remained well above the baseline of 500 metric tons per day (t/d) (table 7). SO2 emission rates reflected continued degassing of cooling magma, and ground-deformation data continued to indicate the absence of magma intrusion. On 21 August the Alert Level was lowered to 3 and, following a continued decrease in activity, on 19 October it was lowered to 1.

Table 7. Earthquakes, tremor, and SO2 flux at Mayon during 13-30 August. Differences in reported daily and weekly data during 20-26 August could not be resolved by press time. Courtesy PHIVOLCS.

Date High-freq volc EQ's Low-freq volc EQ's (amplitude) High-freq short-duration volc tremor (amplitude) Low-freq short-duration volc tremor (amplitude) Avg SO2 flux (t/d)
13-19 Aug 2001 4 62 40 (31.0, 58.0, 3.2, and 40.0 mm) 17 4,757
21 Aug 2001 -- -- -- -- 4,784
22 Aug 2001 -- 1 3 6 5,315
23 Aug 2001 -- 17 -- 6 --
24 Aug 2001 -- 5 1 -- 3,989
25 Aug 2001 -- 4 (4.0 and 5.0 mm) 2 -- 2,191
26 Aug 2001 -- 10 (12.0 mm) -- -- 2,044
20-26 Aug 2001 -- 54 14 (14.0, 3.4, and 11.0 mm) 10 3,771
27 Aug 2001 -- 13 (12.0 mm) 1 (45.0 mm) -- 1,550
28 Aug 2001 -- 10 (7.0 mm) 4 (7.0 mm) -- 3,863
29 Aug 2001 -- 3 (11.0 mm) 3 (6.5 mm) -- 5,576
30 Aug 2001 -- 15 (14.0 mm) -- -- --

News reports on 21 November stated that lahars were generated after several days of heavy rainfall mixed with unconsolidated material on the volcano's slopes. According to the civil defense, flooding caused more than 4,800 families to be evacuated from their homes.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported that since 19 October 2001, when the Alert Level was lowered to 1, all measured parameters had continued to decrease to near-baseline levels. Ground deformation data from electronic tiltmeters continued to indicate the volcano's deflated condition, and SO2 emission rates yielded relatively low values of 450-900 t/d. The observations implied that no active magma intrusion was occurring beneath the active cone. Although incandescence was still visible at night, PHIVOLCS suggested that it was likely due to still-hot magma beneath the crater. As a result of the low activity, on 5 February PHIVOLCS lowered the Alert Level to 0, but reminded the public to avoid the 6 km Permanent Danger Zone, and residents near major river channels emanating from the volcano were advised to be on alert during heavy rainfall because loose pyroclastic deposits could be remobilized as life-threatening stream flows and lahars.

Geologic Background. Beautifully symmetrical Mayon, which rises above the Albay Gulf NW of Legazpi City, is the Philippines' most active volcano. The structurally simple edifice has steep upper slopes averaging 35-40 degrees that are capped by a small summit crater. Historical eruptions date back to 1616 and range from Strombolian to basaltic Plinian, with cyclical activity beginning with basaltic eruptions, followed by longer term andesitic lava flows. Eruptions occur predominately from the central conduit and have also produced lava flows that travel far down the flanks. Pyroclastic flows and mudflows have commonly swept down many of the approximately 40 ravines that radiate from the summit and have often devastated populated lowland areas. A violent eruption in 1814 killed more than 1,200 people and devastated several towns.

Information Contacts: Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), C.P. Garcia Ave., Univ. Philippines Campus, U.P. Diliman, 1101 Quezon City; Associated Press.


Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — April 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)


French-British scientific team field work report on the 17-18 January eruption

The following was extracted from the 8 March final report of the French-British Scientific Team on the January 2002 Nyiragongo eruption (Allard and others, 2002). On 22 January the team, comprised of Patrick Allard, Peter Baxter, Michel Halbwachs, and Jean-Christophe Komorowski, joined local scientists of the Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO), and the UN-OCHA team (Jacques Durieux, Paolo Papale, Dario Tedesco, and Orlando Vaselli) in Goma.

Precursory signals. The January 2002 eruption of Nyiragongo volcano was heralded by precursory phenomena detected since March 2001 by volcanologists of the GVO. Anomalous seismicity occurred. It included both type-C long-period (LP) events and tremor, which persisted after the February-March 2001 eruption of Nyamuragira (BGVN 26:03), 15 km NW of Nyiragongo, and had increased gently over the rest of the year. LP events and volcanic tremor were mainly registered at the Bulengo seismic station (15 km W of Goma) and were minimal, or absent, at the more remote (40 km) Katale station, located closer to Nyamuragira (Akumbi Mbiligi, GVO, pers. comm.). This observation supported the idea of seismo-magmatic processes occurring at, or closer to, Nyiragongo. This was later confirmed by the registration of earthquake swarms (presumed fracturing events) in the Nyiragongo area: first in October 2001 and then on 4 January 2002, 13 days prior to the eruption's onset. The 4 January earthquakes were accompanied by a darkened plume and rumbling sounds at the summit of Nyiragongo (Akumbi and Kasareka, GVO, pers. comm.).

A fracture from the 1977 eruption runs above Shaheru crater (2,700 m elevation and ~2 km S of the summit, figure 15). A fumarolic vent formed at ~2,800 m elevation along this fracture in October 2001. New cracks and increased fumarolic activity were also detected on the southern inner wall of the summit crater, upslope of Shaheru crater. In November 2001, new fumaroles appeared on the N floor of Shaheru crater itself.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Map showing the eruptive chronology, the lava flow field, and phenomena associated with the 17-18 January 2002 eruption of Nyiragongo (geologic base map taken from Thonnard and others, 1965). The map compiles observations of the French-British scientific team, together with the UN volcano surveillance team, the Goma Volcano Observatory, Minerena (Rwanda), UN-OCHA mapping, and includes contributions by D. Garcin and collaborators from the UN, and observers in Goma (subsidence and eyewitness data). Information was preliminary as of 9 February 2002 and subject to change. Courtesy of the French-British team.

An increase in seismicity during 4-17 January included several felt earthquakes and volcanic tremor. On 16 January, a few hours before the eruption onset, an abnormally strong smell of sulfur dioxide was also noticed by the pilot of a small private aircraft flying N of Nyiragongo (Ted Hoaru, pers. comm.).

Chronology of the eruption. According to GVO, Nyiragongo started erupting at 0825 on 17 January. Earthquakes caused the 1977 fracture system running from 2,800 m elevation into Shaheru crater to open and drain the lava stored in the summit crater. The height and energy of the discharging lava during this initial phase is demonstrated by lava boulders that were perched 6-8 m high in trees at distances up to 30 m from the eruptive fracture above Shaheru. Very fluid lava flows, only 10-15 cm thick at their source, moved across the forested SE slopes of Nyiragongo and rapidly cut the road going N from Goma. The outpouring lava left high-stand marks on trees up to a height of 1.5 m upslope of, and within, Shaheru. The 800-m-wide Shaheru crater was filled with a 3-m-thick lava pond.

Two sets of parallel eruptive fractures, ~300 m apart, further propagated through the S flank of Shaheru cone and extended downslope forming a series of grabens (~5-10 m wide) cutting across banana groves, villages, and older volcanic cones. Between 1000 and 1100, lava flows issued from a series of eruptive vents at ~2,300-1,800 m elevation along this system (figure 16), devastating several villages. Between 1400 and 1620 fractures approached the outskirts of Goma and began to form a line of vents SE of Monigi village only 1.5 km NE of Goma airport (see figure 15, including points labeled 1610 and 1620). These lowest fractures produced intense spattering. This led to the voluminous lava flow that ran through the airport and the heart of Goma, finally entering Lake Kivu during the night. Other eruptive vents that opened higher on the volcano produced voluminous lava flows that also reached Goma. Most of these flows were of aa-type, less fluid, black, and 1-3 m thick. Visible fracturing occurred simultaneously with the onset of lava effusions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Aerial view at Nyiragongo after the January 2002 eruption, showing part of the lava flow field S of Lemera hill and N of Mugara hill. Notice the system of parallel fractures that runs from N (bottom of photo) to S (top of photo), a fissure-vent system that in this instance produced very fluid, pahoehoe lava flows (under 1 m thick). Photo by Jean-Christophe Komorowski. Courtesy of the French-British team.

Another eruptive fissure opened at 1530 at 2,250 m elevation (figure 15) (2 km W of Kibati). Eyewitnesses reported that this western fissure initially produced passively effusive activity feeding pahoehoe lava flows. However, the presence of a scoria-fall deposit extending over 500 m around the vent indicated at least momentary lava fountaining. Lava flows there were voluminous, aa-type, and 1-2 m thick, that cascaded down a significant sector of the volcano (figure 17). These fed a flow advancing towards Monigi and formed the second main flow that reached Goma on the W, stopping a few kilometers from Lake Kivu.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Detail of the large pahoehoe and aa lava flows emitted by Nyiragongo during January 2002 from the W vent, which fed a large flow that reached Goma but not Lake Kivu. The two types of lavas were emitted simultaneously and did not exceed 2 m thick. Photo by Jean-Christophe Komorowski. Courtesy of the French-British team.

From helicopter and ground-based studies of the lava flows the team estimated a total erupted volume of between 20 and 30 x 106 m3, including the lava that flowed into Lake Kivu. First analyses of bulk rock samples (table 3) revealed that lavas erupted from the highest and lowest fractures had very similar compositions, implying their derivation from a single magma batch. These otherwise degassed lavas still contained very high bulk amounts of S, F, and Cl, with slightly higher contents in the products of spattering activity along the Monigi fracture zone. Moreover, the 2002 Nyiragongo lavas are similar to the leucite-bearing nephelinite lavas produced during the 1977 eruption.

Table 3. Chemical analyses of lavas from the January 2002 and January 1977 Nyiragongo eruptions. Analysis at CRPG, CNRS, Vandoeuvre-Les-Nancy, France. All values in wt % (P. Allard, unpublished data, 2002). Courtesy of the French-British team.

Sample PA-2 PA-4 PA-1 PA-0
Date 17 Jan 2002 17 Jan 2002 17 Jan 2002 10 Jan 1977
Site Upper lava flow Spatter cone Main lava flow 1977 eruption
Elev (m) Shaheru: 2,760 Munigi: 1,680 Goma center: 1,540 Kibati: 2,000
SiO2 39.27 39.38 39.37 39.30
Al2O3 14.99 14.96 15.05 15.02
Fe2O3 13.44 13.21 13.48 13.89
MnO 0.29 0.29 0.29 0.30
MgO 4.06 4.05 4.11 4.05
CaO 12.49 12.61 12.60 12.19
Na2O 5.94 6.10 6.01 5.57
K2O 5.69 5.72 5.70 5.65
TiO2 2.74 2.68 2.73 2.83
P2O5 1.29 1.25 1.29 1.30
Total 99.79 99.83 100.17 99.69
S tot 0.18 0.22 0.19 0.15
F 0.27 0.29 0.28 0.25
Cl 0.095 0.118 0.103 0.063

The UN reported 147 deaths (of whom 60-100 died in an explosion of the Goma central petrol station on 21 January), 30,000 people displaced, and 14,000 homes destroyed by the eruption. Around 470 injured people reportedly suffered burns, fractures, and gas intoxication. However, Peter Baxter reviewed health aspects of the eruption during a visit to Goma in March, and found no evidence for a large number of people injured or killed. He places the number of deaths at about 70, of which 20 occurred as a result of the petrol station explosion; only a few burn injuries needed hospital treatment, and none of those were serious.

As many as 350,000 people fled from the advancing lava, principally towards nearby Rwanda to the E. After two days the majority returned to Goma, despite hazards from hot lava and burning materials. Despite the lack of observers on the scene at the time, it seems that lava emission stopped during the early morning of 18 January, indicating that the entire flank eruption lasted ~24 hours. However, molten lava continued to flow in tunnels and tubes along the main flow that had reached Lake Kivu and spilled into it for a few more days. This created a new fan-shaped lava delta ~800 m across at its widest point along the previous shoreline. Lava flows destroyed part of the airport and Goma's business and commercial center.

Crater collapse and explosive activity. According to Jacques Durieux (UN-OCHA), the solidified lava floor of Nyiragongo summit crater, lying at 320 m below the rim since 1996, was still in place on 21 January, three days after the end of the eruption, but was cut by a N-S steaming graben. It is most likely that this chilled crater floor, although thick enough to initially resist falling, had been weakened by the lava drainage during 17-18 January. Its broad-scale collapse occurred during the night of 22-23 January. A detailed report by eyewitnesses in Rusaya (8 km SW of the summit) indicated that collapse started at 2051 on 22 January, coinciding with a series of felt earthquakes. It was accompanied by roaring sounds and glow above the crater and followed soon after by hot ashfall over Rusaya, that reportedly formed a layer 10 cm thick. GVO registered intense and continuous seismic tremor over the next four hours. Light ashfall also took place over Goma and Gisenyi that night. A helicopter flight on 24 January allowed the team to observe the ash cover on the forested SW flank. They found Nyiragongo's new crater floor ~700 m (instead of 320 m) below the rim, with a blocky and fuming narrow bottom partly covered by remnants of the former crater floor.

Changes in crater morphology correspond to an estimated bulk volume of ~30 x 106 m3 removed during previous lava drainage and subsequent (unquantified but likely secondary) ash emission. This figure compares well with the bulk volume of lava flows, suggesting that these mainly derived from the lava stored in the crater and upper conduit of the volcano. This conclusion is consistent with the identical composition of bulk lava flow samples from the upper and lower fissure vents (table 3).

Intermittent phreatomagmatic explosive activity inside Nyiragongo crater persisted after the collapse. At 0910 on 24 January a dense cloud was visible above the volcano. On 27 January fresh impacts and fresh tree-destructions were discovered in the forest on the upper N flank. Phreatomagmatic activity in the crater was observed directly on 3 February by GVO volcanologist M. Kasareka who had climbed to the summit.

Fracture system. A large fracture system cut the volcano over an elevation range of 1,100 m and extendeed 20 km from N to S, reaching to within 1 km of Goma (figure 15). In some places along the fractures eruptive vents and phreatic (explosion-caused) craters formed. Field observations, combined with eyewitness accounts confirmed the opening of fractures and emission of lava flows either simultaneously or in close succession during the eruption. The overall fissure propagation velocity averaged 2 km/hour. However, massive post-eruptive fracturing was also observed in some places, correlated with intense post-eruptive seismicity. Two weeks after the eruption strong steaming persisted in several sections of the fracture system.

The system of fractures was spectacularly developed in the Monigi area (1,700 m elevation) where it consists of a down-dropped zone ~25-50 m wide with up to 20 m of vertical downward displacement along vertical walls that extend across the topography for ~2 km (figures 18-20). Several fractures opened 1-3 m and ran parallel on either side of the main fault system; they extended out to a distance of 100-300 m from the axis. The fault system passed through several villages (Kasenyi, Buganra). Continuous steaming (60-80°C) was occurring along the faults. Locally, steam vents formed craters 10-15 m deep.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Fracture and fault system developed at Nyiragongo on 17 January 2002 in Monigi village. Continuing, strongly felt, post-eruptive seismicity further opened the fractures. Some openings in fissures reached up to 2 m wide and 5-10 m deep. Photo by Jean-Christophe Komorowski. Courtesy French-British team.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Fracture system N of Monigi village at Nyiragongo following the January 2002 eruption. The area between the fractures had dropped by ~ 2 m to form a graben (note leaning trees). Steam vented locally from deep pits (5-10 m). Earth cracks parallel to the main depression extend out to ~ 20-30 m. Photo by Jean-Christophe Komorowski. Courtesy French-British team.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. A displaced mud-brick house located on the main fracture in Monigi village following the January 2002 eruption of Nyiragongo. The fracture here behaved as a normal fault, with vertical displacement of ~ 0.5 m. Photo by Jean-Christophe Komorowski. Courtesy French-British team.

A 50- to 80-cm-wide fracture at Monigi village also channeled lava to the surface where it formed a thin chilled margin (figure 21). Withdrawal of magma during the fracture's southward propagation, as confirmed by eyewitness accounts, left a drained lava tube. In a few locations lava spatter was ejected up to 15 m away from the fracture indicating short-lived gas-rich lava venting.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. The 17-18 January 2002 eruption of Nyiragongo produced this fissure or dike, found near the village of Monigi (figure 15). The dike is ~ 0.6-0.8 m wide and contains a glassy outer envelope of chilled lava (a shell somewhat like a small lava tube). The still-fluid portion of lava drained away southward through the dike conduit towards Goma. Photo by Jean-Christophe Komorowski. Courtesy of the French-British team.

Fracturing occurred over a short time between 1000 and 1300 from N to S, cutting through thick scoria-cone deposits (figure 22) as well as lava flows several meters thick. Fractures left openings 5-10 m deep. The system transected the W flanks of the Mubara cinder cone, where fractures spread over an area of 100-200 m forming several sub-parallel strands with 0.2-3 m of vertical displacement. This area could present future slope stability problems.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Photo following the January 2002 Nyiragongo eruption of the central depression in the Monigi fracture-graben system through old scoria fall deposits from Mugara cinder cone located just N. Width is about 25 m and depth 10-15 m. Local steaming indicated that a dike was near the surface and was involved in the formation of this feature. Photo by Jean-Christophe Komorowski. Courtesy French-British team.

Seismicity. Intense felt seismic activity occurred during but mainly after the eruption, including tectonic earthquakes M 3.5 or larger. The number of earthquakes gradually declined with time but has remained abnormally high. As of early March 2002, earthquakes were still felt intermittently.

The seismic network that operated during the eruption and up until 30 January did not allow an accurate assessment of the location and depth of earthquakes. However, the short time intervals between the arrival of P and S waves as measured on seismograms indicated local sources. The persistence of numerous LP events and sequences of tremor after the eruption raised concerns about the possibility of continuing magma intrusions and phreato-magmatic eruptions inside the summit crater. This intense post-eruptive seismicity, combined with widespread ground subsidence in the Kivu rift (BGVN 27:03), as well as the synchronism of the eruption with 20-km-long fractures and the broadly consistent volumes of bulk lava flows and summit crater collapse, led the team to propose that the 2002 Nyiragongo eruption was most likely triggered by tectonic spreading of the Kivu rift.

Gas emanations. During and after the eruption people in Goma confronted a variety of gas emissions. Abnormal odors of hydrocarbons were reported in many parts of the city, prompting the use of a portable infrared spectrometer allowing in-situ gas analysis. The team found that the smells were due to hydrocarbon-bearing methane- and CO2-rich gas emanations from the ground, which occurred in areas separated by 300-800 m from the lava flows and which, therefore, had no relationship with organic matter fired or heated by the flows. These emanations, with methane concentrations of a few percent and sometimes approaching the 5% flammability threshold in air were found both outdoors diffusing up through pavements along streets, in gardens, and in buildings. At a school, methane measured under 1%. Near a drain system for rainwater ~200 m from a lava flow's edge methane was found in the air along the ground but at less than 1%. However, at a nearby concrete roof over a drain the methane content was 2%, together with 2% CO2.

A long fissure passed under a church in the center of Goma. CO2 emissions caused two women cleaning the church to faint. According to GVO, similar fractures are scattered throughout the area. Heat from engulfing lava flows led to the combustion of both plants and a wide variety of dissimilar materials (houses, cars, petrol tanks, etc.).

Flames of burning gas and vegetation were observed and analyzed in different parts of the flows, both inside and outside the city. On 23 January the team measured a temperature of 500°C for blue flames burning on a still-hot lava flow. The air in cracks near the flames contained about 2% methane, the smell of which was readily detectable in the area. According to witnesses, on the previous day these flames had been orange in color and 1.5 m high, suggesting that the fire was originally caused by the burning of organic matter inside the flow and that the flames resulted from the combustion of distillates of vegetation. Slow combustion of vegetation and organic matter was widespread after the eruption in all the areas affected by Nyiragongo lava flows.

Numerous gas bursts were reported to have occurred during-but mostly after-the eruption, principally during 20-22 January when the most intense seismicity occurred. No one was injured by the explosions. Eyewitnesses to these events saw that the gas bursts shortly followed strongly felt earthquakes and were accompanied by strong smells of hydrocarbon gas. In several places 300-400 m distant from lava flows, these gas bursts ripped through cement and stone pavement in Goma's houses and streets. Gas concentrations stood at 5% CO2 and 3-4% methane in one case, and at 1% CO2 and 2.6% methane in an office. Not far away in a garage a 21 January explosion had blown apart a concrete floor 10 cm thick. But when visited 4 days later, a measurable gas anomaly was absent.

Most of the gas bursts occurred at places or in areas that are broadly aligned with the N-S fracture system cutting the volcano and where ground gas emanations were persisting. Although these explosions occurred at the time of felt earthquakes, the associated seismically induced ground movement was not severe enough to have been responsible for the observed localized type of damages. The strong gas smells and the elevated methane concentrations were taken as evidence of a methane-driven origin for the explosions. Sub-surface methane concentrations must have been locally high enough to allow spontaneous ignition of the methane upon contact with oxygen during and following seismic loading. Further study will be necessary to elucidate the origin of that methane. The team emphasized that methane is weakly abundant in permanent gas vents (locally called "mazukus") that occur in the area, emanating through old lava flows, such as those to the W of Goma (CO2: 93.2 %; methane, CH4: 0.07% by volume).

The team witnessed a small methane burst on 27 January while inspecting ground fractures in Monigi that displayed persistent incandescence and very high temperatures (970°C on 24 January). These sites are located in the middle of a small village and constitute a major attraction for cooking and for children who play nearby. The fracture, through which no lava had erupted, was formed parallel to the main eruptive fractures but there crosses through thick old lava flows. The team inferred that incandescence was caused by the presence at depth of relict heat from the magma body (dike) that fed the nearby lava flows that covered Goma (within 1 km). The gas burst occurred at ~2 m from the site where maximum incandescence had persisted for a week and where scientists were measuring temperatures and collecting gases. Most likely, the scientific fieldwork brought air in contact with a pocket of methane, which then spontaneously burst. A few fist-sized blocks of old lava were popped up to a distance under 1 m, without causing any injuries to the numerous bystanders. At another site, minor bursts occured every few minutes as wind blew through the fractures.

In contrast, minor explosions of phreatic origin also occasionally occurred in different places. For example, at the lava delta, when molten lava entered Lake Kivu, and at Goma when bulldozing the lava flows suddenly depressurized steam produced by the high temperature of lava flows along the ground.

Gas hazard of Lake Kivu. Lake Kivu (485 m deep) is known to contain an immense amount of both CO2 (1,000 times that in Lake Nyos, Cameroon) and methane stored in solution in its waters. In the case of a major disturbance of the density stratification of gas-charged water in this lake, a huge gas release could occur. Concerns about such a hazard were raised when the lava flowed into the lake, together with the opening of new fractures, strong seismicity, and the poorly understood possibility of an underwater extension of the eruption.

A variety of manifestations were observed at the surface of the lake after the eruption. During 20-21 January, coincident with felt earthquakes, the lake water was seen uprising along the shore 9 km to the W of Goma and, in three separate areas, the water became dark and warm, with gas bubbles and an associated odor (hydrogen sulfide). Many dead fish were seen in and around these areas. Similar phenomena were reported along other sectors of the lake's shore. Additionally, yellow flames were reported to have been seen on occasion at the surface of Lake Kivu well away from the lava flows, suggesting methane burning. Unpleasant odors and experiences were reported by swimmers in Lake Kivu before the eruption, again ascribed to gas emissions. These reports need to be followed up by a survey of gas concentrations at the lake surface.

The hazard of lava flows entering and disturbing the lake waters has not been extensively studied previously. The hot lava could disturb the lake stability by starting lake-water convection. This might trigger a gas burst resulting in a lethal cloud of CO2 and methane flowing over an unknown area around the lake. In order to assess the problem, Halbwachs organized underwater investigations, first with the help of scuba divers from UN-OCHA and, in a second stage (7-10 February), using a submersible sent from France with the support of EC-ECHO.

Local divers reported the presence of hot water (40-60°C) surrounding the lava delta. Gas bubbling could be observed locally, but its limited extent suggested that neither the gases, nor the solidified lava presented a risk for the local water supplies. In contrast, potential hazard from submarine lava tubes required investigations at greater depth. Despite the poor visibility due to abundant particles in suspension, the surveys with the submersible revealed that the lava flow and tubes had descended to ~80 m depth in the lake by the shore at Goma. Fortunately, such a depth is much smaller than the critical depths of 200-300 m at which Lake Kivu's waters contain more abundant dissolved carbon dioxide, closer to the saturation limit.

In order to evaluate the influence of the hot mass of lava that entered into Lake Kivu on its physico-chemical stratification, during early February a series of samples were collected at varying depths, and 40 vertical lake soundings were undertaken. In collaboration with Halbwachs, these measurements were performed by two limnologists: Klaus Tietze (PDT GmbH, Celle, Germany) and Andreas Lorke (EAWAG Laboratory, Lucerne, Switzerland). They measured depth, temperature, pH, electrical conductivity, turbidity (transparency to white light), and dissolved-oxygen content. Preliminary results suggested a change in the water stratification since the last measurements by Klaus Tietze 20 years ago. A new homogenous water layer was found at depths between 200 and 250 m. Near the lava delta the temperature and turbidity profiles showed some perturbations between 50 and 120 m depth. Away from the delta, a thin (3 m) layer of slightly warmer water lay at ~80 m depth. The turbidity was rather low close to the lava flows but increased rapidly away from it. More synthesis and analytical work continues in order to assess fundamental questions on the stability of Lake Kivu stratification.

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.

Thonnard, R.L.G., Denaeyer, M-E., and Antun, P., 1965, Carte volcanologique des Virunga (1/50000), Afrique Central, Feuile No. 1: Centre National de Volcanologie (Belgique), Missions Gèologiques et Gèophysiques aux Virunga, Ministère de L'Education et de la Culture, Bruxelles, Belgium.

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: Patrick Allard, Laboratoire Pierre Süe, CNRS-CEA, Saclay, France; Peter Baxter, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom; Michel Halbwachs, Université de Savoie, Chambéry, France; Jean-Christophe Komorowski, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France.


San Cristobal (Nicaragua) — April 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

San Cristobal

Nicaragua

12.702°N, 87.004°W; summit elev. 1745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


November ash-and-gas emissions; thousands of earthquakes through May 2002

Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER) reported that during December 2001 through May 2002 San Cristóbal maintained generally constant levels of seismicity and moderate tremor levels. Thousands of earthquakes per month were recorded, most with frequencies of 4.0 to over 10 Hz. Very few events registered with frequencies less than 1.0 Hz.

The third eruptive stage in 2001 was during 7-25 November, when strong ash-and-gas emissions and rumblings occurred and small amounts of ash fell in surrounding areas. After visiting the crater on 11 and 25 November, and 9 December, Vicente Perez (INETER) reported rockfalls and strong emissions of gas and ash. Fumarolic temperatures on 25 November were ~40-100°C, and were similar during December. On 15 January Pedro Perez observed only sporadic gas emanations during a crater visit.

During November through 23 February seismic tremor generally remained between 20 and 60 RSAM units, with the maximum tremor occurring during 8-14 November, when ash-and-gas emissions were strongest. Tremor frequency was 4.0-6.0 Hz.

Observations on 6 February revealed an overall lack of visible changes at the volcano with the exception of gas emanations in the new crater. On 24 February seismic tremor began to increase until it reached 40 RSAM units. While the tremor increased, the number of earthquakes diminished. Strong rumblings on 22 and 26 February, coinciding with the increase of tremor on 24 February, were accompanied by gas emissions.

Another increase in tremor began on the afternoon of 6 March. Strong seismicity occurred in 2- to 3-hour periods that were generally separated by less than 1 hour of less intense activity. INETER reported that seismic tremor reached more than 50 RSAM units on 7 March. Scientists visiting the volcano found that the amount and temperature of degassing had increased. Reportedly, incandescent material in the crater was reflected on the clouds above it. On 22 March at 2219 an earthquake was felt by most of the population near the volcano. Following this event, more than twelve earthquakes with magnitudes of 2.0-3.2 occurred. According to INETER, associated activity was not strong enough to warrant raising the Alert Level.

During April an average of 30 earthquakes occurred per hour (figure 10), most associated with degassing. Very few events were volcano-tectonic or explosion earthquakes. Seismic tremor remained between 40 and 45 RSAM units.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Seismic amplitude RSAM (top) and number of earthquakes per hour (bottom) at San Cristóbal during April 2002. Courtesy INETER.

On 23 May a strong gas column was observed at San Cristóbal. The Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) stated that a surface report had indicated strong activity near the summit. A plume was visible on satellite imagery drifting SW from the summit (figure 11). A video camera near the summit indicated that the altitude of the plume was relatively low, near ~3 km. The Washingon VAAC issued a second notice stating that according to INETER, the emissions consisted solely of gas. The VAAC noted that no plume was detected in satellite imagery later that day. INETER reported that the column was the result of rain in the crater that generated steam. No other phenomena were observed that could indicate an increase in the eruptive activity of the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Sketch based on satellite imagery depicting a plume drifting SW from San Cristóbal on 23 May 2002. Courtesy NOAA.

Geologic Background. The San Cristóbal volcanic complex, consisting of five principal volcanic edifices, forms the NW end of the Marrabios Range. The symmetrical 1745-m-high youngest cone, named San Cristóbal (also known as El Viejo), is Nicaragua's highest volcano and is capped by a 500 x 600 m wide crater. El Chonco, with several flank lava domes, is located 4 km W of San Cristóbal; it and the eroded Moyotepe volcano, 4 km NE of San Cristóbal, are of Pleistocene age. Volcán Casita, containing an elongated summit crater, lies immediately east of San Cristóbal and was the site of a catastrophic landslide and lahar in 1998. The Plio-Pleistocene La Pelona caldera is located at the eastern end of the complex. Historical eruptions from San Cristóbal, consisting of small-to-moderate explosive activity, have been reported since the 16th century. Some other 16th-century eruptions attributed to Casita volcano are uncertain and may pertain to other Marrabios Range volcanoes.

Information Contacts: Virginia Tenorio, Department of Geophysics, Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), P.O. Box 1761, Managua, Nicaragua (URL: http://www.ineter.gob.ni/); La Noticia (URL: http://www.lanoticia.com.ni/); El Nuevo Diario (URL: http://www.elnuevodiario.com.ni/); La Prensa (URL: http://www.laprensa.com.ni/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch, NOAA/NESDIS/E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/).


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — April 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Soufriere Hills

United Kingdom

16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Rockfalls and pyroclastic flows originate from growing lava dome

During mid-August 2001 through February 2002 at a new lava dome continued to grow at Soufriere Hills. Small-scale dome collapses generated pyroclastic flows almost continuously, with some reaching and entering the sea on several occasions. Dense ash plumes associated with sea entry and ash venting from the summit generally drifted W and reached up to 3 km altitude. Mudflows occurred in the Belham Valley on several days during periods of torrential rainfall (BGVN 27:01). The lava dome continued to grow during February through at least mid-May 2002. Minor episodes of ash venting occurred from the summit of the dome, and at times incandescence was visible. The dome produced numerous rockfalls and small pyroclastic flows in the upper reaches of the Tar River Valley. SO2 flux rates reached up to 1,200 metric tons per day (table 40).

Table 40. Seismic and SO2-flux data from Soufriere Hills during 1 February-10 May 2002. Courtesy of MVO.

Date Rockfall Long-period / Rockfall Long-period Hybrid Volcano-tectonic SO2 flux (metric tons/day)
01 Feb-08 Feb 2002 897 64 85 16 -- 06 Feb: 160-380; 07 Feb: 665-790
08 Feb-15 Feb 2002 734 69 83 17 1 09-12 Feb: 150-420; 14 Feb: 350-650
15 Feb-22 Feb 2002 786 75 74 17 -- 16 Feb: 600-780; 19 Feb: 90-130
22 Feb-01 Mar 2002 1013 124 101 5 -- --
01 Mar-08 Mar 2002 415 49 56 10 -- 60-130
08 Mar-15 Mar 2002 779 67 92 6 -- 40-860
15 Mar-22 Mar 2002 1002 108 162 3 2 395-1035
22 Mar-29 Mar 2002 935 80 123 3 -- 1100-1200
12 Apr-19 Apr 2002 841 52 65 6 -- ~1200
19 Apr-26 Apr 2002 990 66 114 31 1 ~1200
26 Apr-03 May 2002 741 33 76 42 2 ~600
03 May-10 May 2002 557 40 82 13 -- --

During flights on 4, 5, and 6 February new pyroclastic-flow deposits were observed in the Tar River to the E (with some flows reaching the sea) and in the White River to the S, derived from the collapse of remnant talus material from the pre-29 July 2001 dome (BGVN 26:07). An observation flight on 14 February revealed minor rockfalls of old, inactive dome material in the upper part of the Gages region. Near-continuous rockfalls and minor pyroclastic flows occurred on the E flank. Minor rockfalls on the N flank of the active dome cascaded between the NE and central buttresses of the older inactive dome.

Activity increased beginning on the evening of 8 March. Small ash clouds (reaching ~2.1 km) arising from small collapses drifted to the W over the Plymouth and Richmond Hill area, although most of the ash fallout occurred over the sea. For a couple days during late March weak winds dispersed the ash towards the NW and N, depositing it over the main populated areas. Large spines on the dome during mid-March periodically collapsed, producing pyroclastic flows down the E flank, some of which reached the Tar River Fan. By late March minor amounts of rockfall debris from the NE flank of the dome had begun to spill into the head of Tuit's Ghaut. Ash venting appeared to have been from a pit-like depression on the summit of the dome.

Increased rockfall and pyroclastic-flow activity over the E flank of the dome coincided with periods of tremor during late April. Small, low-level ash clouds were occasionally visible on satellite imagery. Rockfalls traveled down the SE flank of the dome almost continuously. By early May rockfall talus had begun to spill over the rim of the 29 July 2001 collapse-scar in the extreme SE at the foot of Roches Mountain. Pyroclastic flows on the mornings of 1 and 2 May were the most energetic seismic events recorded for over a month. Activity increased beginning on 8 May, and rockfalls and pyroclastic flows were concentrated on the dome's NE flank.

MVO reported that weather permitting, the daytime entry zone (DTEZ) would remain open. The observatory warned that activity could increase quite suddenly, with a dangerous situation developing in the DTEZ very quickly, and that ash masks should be worn in ashy conditions. The Belham Valley was to be avoided during and after heavy rainfall due to the possibility of mudflows. Access to Plymouth, Bramble airport, and beyond was prohibited. In addition, a maritime exclusion zone around the S part of the island extends two miles beyond the coastline from Trant's Bay in the E to Garibaldi Hill on the W coast.

Seismicity and SO2 flux. Since 4 February SO2 measurements were carried out using a remote, telemetered Differential Optical Absorption Spectrometer (DOAS) that scans through the plume, yielding over 600 measurements of SO2 emission rates per day. The highest SO2 fluxes were measured after pyroclastic flows. SO2 emission rates decreased dramatically during early March (table 40).

A swarm of hybrid earthquakes on 22 April was followed by increased numbers of long-period events and a surge in the number of rockfalls over the next four days. Banded tremor also followed the swarm. Weak periods of tremor occurred approximately every 20 hours during 26 April-3 May, and each lasted a few hours. Fluctuations in SO2 emission rates in late April appeared to reflect variations in the intensity of rockfall activity.

Morphology of the lava dome. During early February the lava dome continued to grow primarily on the E and NE sides, and by late February growth was focused on the E side. The summit of the dome was blocky and massive, in contrast to the spines of previous weeks. On 19 February the dome was crowned by a large spine inclined steeply up towards the SE. The spine changed in size and shape, as it periodically collapsed or disintegrated and grew again as fresh material was extruded. On 26 February the spine had a height of 90 m above the general level of the summit area. At this stage the top of the spine had an elevation of 1,080 m, the highest point measured during the eruption to date.

Observations in early March revealed that the summit of the dome had a generally spiny appearance and on several occasions was crowned by a large spine directed upwards at a high angle towards the E. During mid-March the summit of the dome was dominated by fast-growing large spines (50-70 m high). Theodolite measurements of the dome taken on 20 March yielded a dome height of 1,039 m.

During mid-April, dome growth shifted to the SE area of the dome complex, although small rockfalls occurred in other areas. The summit area had evolved from a large striated lobe to a series of small spines. By late April the lobe on the SE portion of the dome had reached 1,041 m elevation and the NE lobe, which had been highly active during the previous two weeks, stagnated at a height of 1,020 m elevation. Lava dome growth continued on the E side of the dome complex during early May.

The closest GPS station to the dome showed sustained outward movement of ~0.5 cm per month. During periods of dome building, slow subsidence took place at the closest sites at Hermitage, Whites, and Harris. Since January, the EDM reflector on the N flank showed a 5-cm movement away from the lava dome.

Hazard assessment. On 11 March 2002 the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) issued the following preliminary statement concerning the history and hazard assessment of the current eruption: "The Soufrière Hills Volcano continues its second phase of sustained dome growth, which began in November 1999. Since September 2001, the dome has grown at an average rate of about 2 m3/s (or 400,000 metric tons per day). The summit region of the dome has now reached an altitude of ~990 m, having filled most of the depression formed by the large dome collapse of 29 July 2001. The dome has mainly grown towards the E, although there was a period during late November and early December 2001 when growth was directed W.

"During [September 2001 to March 2002] there have been fluctuations in activity as recorded in seismicity and gas emissions. Pyroclastic flows and almost continuous rockfalls have occurred, mostly directed down the Tar River Valley. For prolonged periods in the last six months, there have been cyclical patterns of enhanced seismicity lasting for a few hours to about a day, during which rockfall and pyroclastic-flow activity has been more intense.

"Continued growth of the dome over this period has meant that hazard levels close to the volcano have increased slightly compared with . . . September 2001. Risk levels will fluctuate as the configuration of the dome changes. In an extreme scenario, a switch in the direction of growth to the N or NW could result in more hazardous conditions along the margins of the Exclusion Zone. Consequently, increased levels of risk might develop in the populated areas bordering the Belham River. Across the remainder of the island, however, it is considered that the general level of risk to the population from volcanic activity is unchanged.

"The main hazards remain pyroclastic flows, explosions, falls of ash and small stones, and volcanic mudflows. The increasing knowledge of the volcano acquired by the experienced observatory staff allows patterns of eruption behavior to be recognized and some forms of activity to be anticipated. During a large dome collapse or explosion, heavy ashfall and the fall of small rock fragments can be expected in the populated areas if the wind is in an unfavorable direction. However, a detailed study of the hazard due to fall of rock fragments has recently been completed, and this indicates that outside the Exclusion Zone significant falls of rock fragments large enough to cause serious injury are unlikely.

"At the moment there is no sign of the volcanic activity diminishing. It is most likely that the eruption will continue for a number of years, although the volcano may be evolving into a persistently active state with the eruption continuing for even longer periods, either continuously or intermittently."

General References. Baker, P.E., 1985, Volcanic hazards on St. Kitts and Montserrat, West Indies: Journal of the Geological Society, London, v. 142, p. 279-295.

Shepherd, J.B, Tomblin, J.F., and Woo, D.A., 1971, Volcano-seismic crisis in Montserrat, West Indies, 1966-67: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 35, p. 143-163.

Wadge, G., and Isaacs, M.C., 1988, Mapping the volcanic hazards from Soufriere Hills volcano, Montserrat, West Indies using an image processor: Journal of the Geological Society, London, v. 145, p. 541-551.

Geologic Background. The complex, dominantly andesitic Soufrière Hills volcano occupies the southern half of the island of Montserrat. The summit area consists primarily of a series of lava domes emplaced along an ESE-trending zone. The volcano is flanked by Pleistocene complexes to the north and south. English's Crater, a 1-km-wide crater breached widely to the east by edifice collapse, was formed about 2000 years ago as a result of the youngest of several collapse events producing submarine debris-avalanche deposits. Block-and-ash flow and surge deposits associated with dome growth predominate in flank deposits, including those from an eruption that likely preceded the 1632 CE settlement of the island, allowing cultivation on recently devegetated land to near the summit. Non-eruptive seismic swarms occurred at 30-year intervals in the 20th century, but no historical eruptions were recorded until 1995. Long-term small-to-moderate ash eruptions beginning in that year were later accompanied by lava-dome growth and pyroclastic flows that forced evacuation of the southern half of the island and ultimately destroyed the capital city of Plymouth, causing major social and economic disruption.

Information Contacts: Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO), Mongo Hill, Montserrat, West Indies (URL: http://www.mvo.ms/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/).

Atmospheric Effects

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

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


Central Chile and Argentina


Estero de Parraguirre


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

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

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

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



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

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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


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

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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