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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

Erta Ale (Ethiopia) Continued lava flow outbreaks and thermal anomalies during November 2019 to early April 2020

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Weak phreatic explosions during August 2019-March 2020; ash and lahars reported in late January

Manam (Papua New Guinea) Minor explosive activity, continued thermal activity, and SO2 emissions, October 2019-March 2020.

Stromboli (Italy) Strombolian activity continues at both summit crater areas, September-December 2019

Semeru (Indonesia) Ash plumes and thermal anomalies continue during September 2019-February 2020

Popocatepetl (Mexico) Dome growth and destruction continues along with ash emissions and ejecta, September 2019-February 2020

Santa Maria (Guatemala) Daily explosions with ash plumes and block avalanches continue, September 2019-February 2020

Villarrica (Chile) Brief increase in explosions, mid-September 2019; continued thermal activity through February 2020

Semisopochnoi (United States) Intermittent small explosions detected in December 2019 through mid-March 2020

Ubinas (Peru) Explosions produced ash plumes in September 2019; several lahars generated in January and February 2020

Yasur (Vanuatu) Strombolian activity continues during June 2019 through February 2020

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



Erta Ale (Ethiopia) — May 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Erta Ale

Ethiopia

13.6°N, 40.67°E; summit elev. 613 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued lava flow outbreaks and thermal anomalies during November 2019 to early April 2020

Erta Ale is a shield volcano located in Ethiopia and contains multiple active pit craters in the summit and southeastern caldera. Volcanism has been characterized by lava flows and large lava flow fields since 2017. Surficial lava flow activity continued within the southeastern caldera during November 2019 until early April 2020; source information was primarily from various satellite data.

The number of days that thermal anomalies were detected using MODIS data in MODVOLC and NASA VIIRS satellite data was notably higher in November and December 2019 (figure 96); the number of thermal anomalies in the Sentinel-2 thermal imagery was substantially lower due to the presence of cloud cover. Across all satellite data, thermal anomalies were identified for 29 days in November, followed by 30 days in December. After December 2019, the number of days thermal anomalies were detected decreased; hotspots were detected for 17 days in January 2020 and 20 days in February. By March, these thermal anomalies became rare until activity ceased. Thermal anomalies were identified during 1-4 March, with weak anomalies seen again during 26 March-8 April 2020.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. Graph comparing the number of thermal alerts using calendar dates using MODVOLC, NASA VIIRS, and Sentinel-2 satellite data for Erta Ale during November 2019-March 2020. Data courtesy of HIGP - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, NASA Worldview using the “Fire and Thermal Anomalies” layer, and Sentinel Hub Playground.

MIROVA (Middle Infrared Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed frequent strong thermal anomalies from 18 April through December 2019 (figure 97). Between early August 2019 and March 2020, these thermal signatures were detected at distances less than 5 km from the summit. In late December the thermal intensity dropped slightly before again increasing, while at the same time moving slightly closer to the summit. Thermal anomalies then became more intermittent and steadily decreased in power over the next two months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Two time-series plots of thermal anomalies from Erta Ale from 18 April 2019 through 18 April 2020 as recorded by the MIROVA system. The top plot (A) shows that the thermal anomalies were consistently strong (measured in log radiative power) and occurred frequently until early January 2020 when both the power and frequency visibly declined. The lower plot (B) shows these anomalies as a function of distance from the summit, including a sudden decrease in distance (measured in kilometers) in early August 2019, reflecting a change in the location of the lava flow outbreak. A smaller distance change can be identified at the end of December 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Unlike the obvious distal breakouts to the NE seen previously (BGVN 44:04 and 44:11), infrared satellite imagery during November-December 2019 showed only a small area with a thermal anomaly near the NE edge of the Southeast Caldera (figure 98). A thermal alert was seen at that location using the MODVOLC system on 28 December, but the next day it had been replaced by an anomaly about 1.5 km WSW near the N edge of the Southeast Caldera where the recent flank eruption episode had been centered between January 2017 and January 2018 (BGVN 43:04). The thermal anomaly that was detected in the summit caldera was no longer visible after 9 January 2020, based on Sentinel-2 imagery. The exact location of lava flows shifted within the same general area during January and February 2020 and was last detected by Sentinel-2 on 4 March. After about two weeks without detectable thermal activity, weak unlocated anomalies were seen in VIIRS data on 26 March and in MODIS data on the MIROVA system four times between 26 March and 8 April. No further anomalies were noted through the rest of April 2020.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery of Erta Ale volcanism between November 2019 and March 2020 showing small lava flow outbreaks (bright yellow-orange) just NE of the southeastern calderas. A thermal anomaly can be seen in the summit crater on 15 November and very faintly on 20 December 2019. Imagery on 19 January 2020 showed a small thermal anomaly near the N edge of the Southeast Caldera where the recent flank eruption episode had been centered between January 2017 and January 2018. The last weak thermal hotspot was detected on 4 March (bottom right). Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Erta Ale is an isolated basaltic shield that is the most active volcano in Ethiopia. The broad, 50-km-wide edifice rises more than 600 m from below sea level in the barren Danakil depression. Erta Ale is the namesake and most prominent feature of the Erta Ale Range. The volcano contains a 0.7 x 1.6 km, elliptical summit crater housing steep-sided pit craters. Another larger 1.8 x 3.1 km wide depression elongated parallel to the trend of the Erta Ale range is located SE of the summit and is bounded by curvilinear fault scarps on the SE side. Fresh-looking basaltic lava flows from these fissures have poured into the caldera and locally overflowed its rim. The summit caldera is renowned for one, or sometimes two long-term lava lakes that have been active since at least 1967, or possibly since 1906. Recent fissure eruptions have occurred on the N flank.

Information Contacts: MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/).


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

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Weak phreatic explosions during August 2019-March 2020; ash and lahars reported in late January

Rincón de la Vieja is a remote volcanic complex in Costa Rica containing an acid lake that has regularly generated weak phreatic explosions since 2011 (BGVN 44:08). The most recent eruptive period occurred during late March-early June 2019, primarily consisting of small phreatic explosions, minor deposits on the N crater rim, and gas-and-steam emissions. The report period of August 2019-March 2020 was characterized by similar activity, including small phreatic explosions, gas-and-steam plumes, ash and lake sediment ejecta, and volcanic tremors. The most significant activity during this time occurred on 30 January, where a phreatic explosion ejected ash and lake sediment above the crater rim, resulting in a pyroclastic flow which gradually turned into a lahar. Information for this reporting period of August 2019-March 2020 comes from the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA) using weekly bulletins.

According to OVSICORI-UNA, a small hydrothermal eruption was recorded on 1 August 2019. The seismicity was low with a few long period (LP) earthquakes around 1 August and intermittent background tremor. No explosions or emissions were reported through 11 September; seismicity remained low with an occasional LP earthquake and discontinuous tremor. The summit’s extension that has been recorded since the beginning of June stopped, and no significant deformation was observed in August.

Starting again in September 2019 and continuing intermittently through the reporting period, some deformation was observed at the base of the volcano as well as near the summit, according to OVSICORI-UNA. On 12 September an eruption occurred that was followed by volcanic tremors that continued through 15 September. In addition to these tremors, vigorous sustained gas-and-steam plumes were observed. The 16 September weekly bulletin did not describe any ejecta produced as a result of this event.

During 1-3 October small phreatic eruptions were accompanied by volcanic tremors that had decreased by 5 October. In November, volcanism and seismicity were relatively low and stable; few LP earthquakes were reported. This period of low activity remained through December. At the end of November, horizontal extension was observed at the summit, which continued through the first half of January.

Small phreatic eruptions were recorded on 2, 28, and 29 January 2020, with an increase in seismicity occurring on 27 January. On 30 January at 1213 a phreatic explosion produced a gas column that rose 1,500-2,000 m above the crater, with ash and lake sediment ejected up to 100 m above the crater. A news article posted by the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) noted that this explosion generated pyroclastic flows that traveled down the N flank for more than 2 km from the crater. As the pyroclastic flows moved through tributary channels, lahars were generated in the Pénjamo river, Zanjonuda gorge, and Azufrosa, traveling N for 4-10 km and passing through Buenos Aires de Upala (figure 29). Seismicity after this event decreased, though there were still some intermittent tremors.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Photo of a lahar generated from the 30 January 2020 eruption at Rincon de la Vieja. Photo taken by Mauricio Gutiérrez, courtesy of UCR.

On 17, 24, and 25 February and 11, 17, 19, 21, and 23 March, small phreatic eruptions were detected, according to OVSICORI-UNA. Geodetic measurements observed deformation consisting of horizontal extension and inflation near the summit in February-March. By the week of 30 March, the weekly bulletin reported 2-3 small eruptions accompanied by volcanic tremors occurred daily during most days of the week. None of these eruptions produced solid ejecta, pyroclastic flows, or lahars, according to the weekly OVSICORI-UNA bulletins during February-March 2020.

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/); Luis Enrique Brenes Portuguéz, University of Costa Rica, Ciudad Universitaria Rodrigo Facio Brenes, San José, San Pedro, Costa Rica (URL: https://www.ucr.ac.cr/noticias/2020/01/30/actividad-del-volcan-rincon-de-la-vieja-es-normal-segun-experto.html).


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

Manam

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Minor explosive activity, continued thermal activity, and SO2 emissions, October 2019-March 2020.

Manam is a basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano that lies 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea; it has a 400-year history of recorded evidence for recurring low-level ash plumes, occasional Strombolian activity, lava flows, pyroclastic avalanches, and large ash plumes from Main and South, the two active summit craters. The current eruption, ongoing since June 2014, produced multiple large explosive eruptions during January-September 2019, including two 15-km-high ash plumes in January, repeated SO2 plumes each month, and another 15.2 km-high ash plume in June that resulted in ashfall and evacuations of several thousand people (BGVN 44:10).

This report covers continued activity during October 2019 through March 2020. Information about Manam is primarily provided by Papua New Guinea's Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), part of the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM). This information is supplemented with aviation alerts from the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). MODIS thermal anomaly satellite data is recorded by the University of Hawai'i's MODVOLC thermal alert recording system, and the Italian MIROVA project; sulfur dioxide monitoring is done by instruments on satellites managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Satellite imagery provided by the Sentinel Hub Playground is also a valuable resource for information about this remote location.

A few modest explosions with ash emissions were reported in early October and early November 2019, and then not again until late March 2020. Although there was little explosive activity during the period, thermal anomalies were recorded intermittently, with low to moderate activity almost every month, as seen in the MODIS data from MIROVA (figure 71) and also in satellite imagery. Sulfur dioxide emissions persisted throughout the period producing emissions greater than 2.0 Dobson Units that were recorded in satellite data 3-13 days each month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. MIROVA thermal anomaly data for Manam from 17 June 2019 through March 2020 indicate continued low and moderate level thermal activity each month from August 2019 through February 2020, after a period of increased activity in June and early July 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume in visible satellite imagery moving NW at 3.1 km altitude on 2 October 2019. Weak ash emissions were observed drifting N for the next two days along with an IR anomaly at the summit. RVO reported incandescence at night during the first week of October. Visitors to the summit on 18 October 2019 recorded steam and fumarolic activity at both of the summit craters (figure 72) and recent avalanche debris on the steep slopes (figure 73).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. Steam and fumarolic activity rose from Main crater at Manam on 18 October 2019 in this view to the south from a ridge north of the crater. Google Earth inset of summit shows location of photograph. Courtesy of Vulkanologische Gesellschaft and Claudio Jung, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Volcanic debris covered an avalanche chute on the NE flank of Manam when visited by hikers on 18 October 2019. Courtesy of Vulkanologische Gesellschaft and Claudio Jung, used with permission.

On 2 November, a single large explosion at 1330 local time produced a thick, dark ash plume that rose about 1,000 m above the summit and drifted NW. A shockwave from the explosion was felt at the Bogia Government station located 40 km SE on the mainland about 1 minute later. RVO reported an increase in seismicity on 6 November about 90 minutes before the start of a new eruption from the Main Crater which occurred between 1600 and 1630; it produced light to dark gray ash clouds that rose about 1,000 m above the summit and drifted NW. Incandescent ejecta was visible at the start of the explosion and continued with intermittent strong pulses after dark, reaching peak intensity around 1900. Activity ended by 2200 that evening. The Darwin VAAC reported a discrete emission observed in satellite imagery on 8 November that rose to 4.6 km altitude and drifted WNW, although ground observers confirmed that no eruption took place; emissions were only steam and gas. There were no further reports of explosive activity until the Darwin VAAC reported an ash emission in visible satellite imagery on 20 March 2020 that rose to 3.1 km altitude and drifted E for a few hours before dissipating.

Although explosive activity was minimal during the period, SO2 emissions, and evidence for continued thermal activity were recorded by satellite instruments each month. The TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite captured evidence each month of SO2 emissions exceeding two Dobson Units (figure 74). The most SO2 activity occurred during October 2019, with 13 days of signatures over 2.0 DU. There were six days of elevated SO2 each month in November and December, and five days in January 2020. During February and March, activity was less, with smaller SO2 plumes recording more than 2.0 DU on three days each month. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery recorded thermal anomalies at least once from one or both of the summit craters each month between October 2019 and March 2020 (figure 75).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. SO2 emissions at Manam exceeded 2 Dobson Units multiple days each month between October 2019 and March 2020. On 3 October 2019 (top left) emissions were also measured from Ulawun located 700 km E on New Britain island. On 30 November 2019 (top middle), in addition to a plume drifting N from Manam, a small SO2 plume was detected at Bagana on Bougainville Island, 1150 km E. The plume from Manam on 2 December 2019 drifted ESE (top right). On 26 January 2020 the plume drifted over 300 km E (bottom left). The plumes measured on 29 February and 4 March 2020 (bottom middle and right) only drifted a few tens of kilometers before dissipating. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8a) showed thermal anomalies at one or both of Manam’s summit craters each month during October 2019-March 2020. On 17 October 2019 (top left) a bright anomaly and weak gas plume drifted NW from South crater, while a dense steam plume and weak anomaly were present at Main crater. On 25 January 2020 (top right) the gas and steam from the two craters were drifting E; the weaker Main crater thermal anomaly is just visible at the edge of the clouds. A clear image on 5 March 2020 (bottom left) shows weak plumes and distinct thermal anomalies from both craters; on 20 March (bottom right) the anomalies are still visible through dense cloud cover that may include steam from the crater vents as well. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The 10-km-wide island of Manam, lying 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, is one of the country's most active volcanoes. Four large radial valleys extend from the unvegetated summit of the conical 1807-m-high basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks. These "avalanche valleys" channel lava flows and pyroclastic avalanches that have sometimes reached the coast. Five small satellitic centers are located near the island's shoreline on the northern, southern, and western sides. Two summit craters are present; both are active, although most historical eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE valley. Frequent historical eruptions, typically of mild-to-moderate scale, have been recorded since 1616. Occasional larger eruptions have produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached flat-lying coastal areas and entered the sea, sometimes impacting populated areas.

Information Contacts: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; 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); Vulkanologische Gesellschaft (URL: https://twitter.com/vulkanologen/status/1194228532219727874, https://twitter.com/vulkanologen/status/1193788836679225344); Claudio Jung, (URL: https://www.facebook.com/claudio.jung.1/posts/10220075272173895, https://www.instagram.com/jung.claudio/).


Stromboli (Italy) — April 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

38.789°N, 15.213°E; summit elev. 924 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strombolian activity continues at both summit crater areas, September-December 2019

Near-constant fountains of lava at Stromboli have served as a natural beacon in the Tyrrhenian Sea for at least 2,000 years. Eruptive activity at the summit consistently occurs from multiple vents at both a north crater area (N area) and a southern crater group (CS area) on the Terrazza Craterica at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a large scarp that runs from the summit down the NW side of the volcano-island (figure 168). Periodic lava flows emerge from the vents and flow down the scarp, sometimes reaching the sea; occasional large explosions produce ash plumes and pyroclastic flows. Thermal and visual cameras that monitor activity at the vents are located on the nearby Pizzo Sopra La Fossa, above the Terrazza Craterica, and at multiple locations on the flanks of the volcano. Detailed information for Stromboli is provided by Italy's Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) as well as other satellite sources of data; September-December 2019 is covered in this report.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 168. This shaded relief map of Stromboli’s crater area was created from images acquired by drone on 9 July 2019 (In collaboration with GEOMAR drone group, Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research, Kiel, Germany). Inset shows Stromboli Island, the black rectangle indicates the area of the larger image, the black curved and the red hatched lines indicate, respectively, the morphological escarpment and the crater edges. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. No. 50/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 02/12/2019 - 08/12/2019, data emissione 10/12/2019).

Activity was very consistent throughout the period of September-December 2019. Explosion rates ranged from 2-36 per hour and were of low to medium-high intensity, producing material that rose from less than 80 to over 150 m above the vents on occasion (table 7). The Strombolian activity in both crater areas often sent ejecta outside the crater rim onto the Terrazza Craterica, and also down the Sciara del Fuoco towards the coast. After the explosions of early July and late August, thermal activity decreased to more moderate levels that persisted throughout the period as seen in the MIROVA Log Radiative Power data (figure 169). Sentinel-2 satellite imagery supported descriptions of the constant glow at the summit, revealing incandescence at both summit areas, each showing repeating bursts of activity throughout the period (figure 170).

Table 7. Monthly summary of activity levels at Stromboli, September-December 2019. Low-intensity activity indicates ejecta rising less than 80 m, medium-intensity is ejecta rising less than 150 m, and high-intensity is ejecta rising over 200 m above the vent. Data courtesy of INGV.

Month Activity
Sep 2019 Explosion rates varied from 11-36 events per hour and were of low- to medium intensity (producing 80-120 m high ejecta). Lapilli and bombs were typical from the N area, and coarse and finer-grained tephra (lapilli and ash) were most common in the CS area. The Strombolian activity in both crater areas often sent ejecta outside the crater rim onto the terrace, and also down the Sciara del Fuoco towards the coast.
Oct 2019 Typical Strombolian activity and degassing continued. Explosions rates varied from 2-21 events per hour. Low intensity activity was common in the N area (ejecta less than 80 m high) and low to moderate intensity activity was typical in the CS area, with a few explosions rising over 150 m high. Lapilli and bombs were typical from the N area, and coarse and finer-grained tephra (lapilli and ash) were most common in the CS area. Some of the explosions sent ejecta down the Sciara del Fuoco.
Nov 2019 Typical Strombolian activity and degassing continued. Explosion rates varied from 11-23 events per hour with ejecta rising usually 80-150 m above the vents. Occasional explosions rose 250 m high. In the N area, explosions were generally low intensity with coarse material (lapilli and bombs). In many explosions, ejecta covered the outer slopes of the area overlooking the Sciara del Fuoco, and some blocks rolled for a few hundred meters before stopping. In the CS area, coarse material was mixed with fine and some explosions sent ejecta onto the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco.
Dec 2019 Strombolian activity and degassing continued. Explosion rates varied from 12-26 per hour. In the N area, explosion intensity was mainly medium-low (less than 150 m) with coarse ejecta while in the CS area it was usually medium-high (more than 150 m) with both coarse and fine ejecta. In many explosions, debris covered the outer slopes of the area overlooking the Sciara del Fuoco, and some blocks rolled for a few hundred meters before stopping. Spattering activity was noted in the southern vents of the N area.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 169. Thermal activity at Stromboli was high during July-August 2019, when two major explosions occurred. Activity continued at more moderate levels through December 2019 as seen in the MIROVA graph of Log Radiative Power from 8 June through December 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 170. Stromboli reliably produced strong thermal signals from both of the summit vents throughout September-December 2019 and has done so since long before Sentinel-2 satellite imagery was able to detect it. Image dates are (top, l to r) 5 September, 15 October, 20 October, (bottom l to r) 14 November, 14 December 2019, and 3 January 2020. Sentinel-2 imagery uses Atmospheric penetration rendering with bands 12, 11, and 8A, courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

After a major explosion with a pyroclastic flow on 28 August 2019, followed by lava flows that reached the ocean in the following days (BGVN 44:09), activity diminished in early September to levels more typically seen in recent times. This included Strombolian activity from vents in both the N and CS areas that sent ejecta typically 80-150 m high. Ejecta from the N area generally consisted of lapilli and bombs, while the material from the CS area was often finer grained with significant amounts of lapilli and ash. The number of explosive events remained high in September, frequently reaching 25-30 events per hour. The ejecta periodically landed outside the craters on the Terrazza Craterica and even traveled partway down the Sciara del Fuoco. An inspection on 7 September by INGV revealed four eruptive vents in the N crater area and five in the S crater area (figure 171). The most active vents in the N area were N1 with mostly ash emissions and N2 with Strombolian explosions rich in incandescent coarse material that sometimes rose well above 150 m in height. In the S area, S1 and S2 produced jets of lava that often reached 100 m high. A small cone was observed around N2, having grown after the 28 August explosion. Between 11 and 13 September aerial surveys with drones produced detailed visual and thermal imagery of the summit (figure 172).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 171. Video of the Stromboli summit taken with a thermal camera on 7 September 2019 from the Pizzo sopra la Fossa revealed four active vents in the N area and five active vents in the S area. Images prepared by Piergiorgio Scarlato, courtesy of INGV (Rep. No. 37.2/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Giornaliero del 10/09/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 172. An aerial drone survey on 11 September 2019 at Stromboli produced a detailed view of the N and CS vent areas (left) and thermal images taken by a drone survey on 13 September (right) showed elevated temperatures down the Sciara del Fuoco in addition to the vents in the N and CS areas. Images by E. De Beni and M. Cantarero, courtesy of INGV (Rep. No. 37.5/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Giornaliero del 13/09/2019).

Strombolian activity from the N crater on 28 September and 1 October 2019 produced blocks and debris that rolled down the Sciara del Fuoco and reached the ocean (figure 173). Explosive activity from the CS crater area sometimes produced ejecta over 150 m high (figure 174). A survey on 26 November revealed that a layer of ash 5-10 cm thick had covered the bombs and blocks that were deposited on the Pizzo Sopra la Fossa during the explosions of 3 July and 28 August (figure 175). On the morning of 27 December a lava flow emerged from the CS area and traveled a few hundred meters down the Sciara del Fuoco. The frequency of explosive events remained relatively constant from September through December 2019 after decreasing from higher levels during July and August (figure 176).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 173. Strombolian activity from vents in the N crater area of Stromboli produced ejecta that traveled all the way to the bottom of the Sciara del Fuoco and entered the ocean. Top images taken 28 September 2019 from the 290 m elevation viewpoint by Rosanna Corsaro. Bottom images captured on 1 October from the webcam at 400 m elevation. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. No. 39.0/2019 and Rep. No. 40.3, Stromboli, Bollettino Giornaliero del 29/09/2019 and 02/10/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 174. Ejecta from Strombolian activity at the CS crater area of Stromboli rose over 150 m on multiple occasions. The webcam located at the 400 m elevation site captured this view of activity on 8 November 2019. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. No. 45.5/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Giornaliero del 08/11/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 175. The Pizzo Sopra la Fossa area at Stromboli was covered with large blocks and pyroclastic debris on 6 September 2019, a week after the major explosion of 28 August (top). By 26 November, 5-10 cm of finer ash covered the surface; the restored webcam can be seen at the far right edge of the Pizzo (bottom). Courtesy of INGV (Rep. No. 49/2019, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 25/11/2019 - 01/12/2019, data emissione 03/12/2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 176. The average hourly frequency of explosive events at Stromboli captured by surveillance cameras from 1 June 2019 through 5 January 2020 remained generally constant after the high levels seen during July and August. The Total value (blue) is the sum of the average daily hourly frequency of all explosive events produced by active vents.

Geologic Background. Spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions at this volcano have long attracted visitors to the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean." Stromboli, the NE-most of the Aeolian Islands, has lent its name to the frequent mild explosive activity that has characterized its eruptions throughout much of historical time. The small island is the emergent summit of a volcano that grew in two main eruptive cycles, the last of which formed the western portion of the island. The Neostromboli eruptive period took place between about 13,000 and 5,000 years ago. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a prominent horseshoe-shaped scarp formed about 5,000 years ago due to a series of slope failures that extend to below sea level. The modern volcano has been constructed within this scarp, which funnels pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows to the NW. Essentially continuous mild Strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded for more than a millennium.

Information Contacts: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy, (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/en/); 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).


Semeru (Indonesia) — April 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Semeru

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes and thermal anomalies continue during September 2019-February 2020

Semeru is a stratovolcano located in East Java, Indonesia containing an active Jonggring-Seloko vent at the Mahameru summit. Common activity has consisted of ash plumes, pyroclastic flows and avalanches, and lava flows that travel down the SE flank. This report updates volcanism from September 2019 to February 2020 using primary information from 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 dominant activity at Semeru for this reporting period consists of ash plumes, which were frequently reported by the Darwin VAAC. An eruption on 10 September 2019 produced an ash plume rising 4 km altitude drifting WNW, as seen in HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery. Ash plumes continued to rise during 13-14 September. During the month of October the Darwin VAAC reported at least six ash plumes on 13, 14, 17-18, and 29-30 October rising to a maximum altitude of 4.6 km and moving primarily S and SW. Activity in November and December was relatively low, dominated mostly by strong and frequent thermal anomalies.

Volcanism increased in January 2020 starting with an eruption on 17 and 18 January that sent a gray ash plume up to 4.6 km altitude (figure 38). Eruptions continued from 20 to 26 January, producing ash plumes that rose up to 500 m above the crater that drifted in different directions. For the duration of the month and into February, ash plumes occurred intermittently. On 26 February, incandescent ejecta was ejected up to 50 m and traveled as far as 1000 m. Small sulfur dioxide emissions were detected in the Sentinel 5P/TROPOMI instrument during 25-27 February (figure 39). Lava flows during 27-29 February extended 200-1,000 m down the SE flank; gas-and-steam and SO2 emissions accompanied the flows. There were 15 shallow volcanic earthquakes detected on 29 February in addition to ash emissions rising 4.3 km altitude drifting ESE.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Ash plumes rising from the summit of Semeru on 17 (left) and 18 (right) January 2020. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia and via Ø.L. Andersen's Twitter feed (left).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Small SO2 plumes from Semeru were detected by the Sentinel 5P/TROPOMI instrument during 25 (left) and 26 (right) February 2020. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed relatively weak and intermittent thermal anomalies occurring during May to August 2019 (figure 40). The frequency and power of these thermal anomalies significantly increased during September to mid-December 2019 with a few hotspots occurring at distances greater than 5 km from the summit. These farther thermal anomalies to the N and NE of the volcano do not appear to be caused by volcanic activity. There was a brief break in activity during mid-December to mid-January 2020 before renewed activity was detected in early February 2020.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Thermal anomalies were relatively weak at Semeru during 30 April 2019-August 2019, but significantly increased in power and frequency during September to early December 2019. There was a break in activity from mid-December through mid-January 2020 with renewed thermal anomalies around February 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

The MODVOLC algorithm detected 25 thermal hotspots during this reporting period, which took place during 25 September, 18 and 21 October 2019, 29 January, and 11, 14, 16, and 23 February 2020. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery shows intermittent hotspots dominantly in the summit crater throughout this reporting period (figure 41).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery detected intermittent thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) at the summit of Semeru, which included some lava flows in late January to early February 2020. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images 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/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.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); 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/); Øystein Lund Andersen (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: http://www.oysteinlundandersen.com).


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — April 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Dome growth and destruction continues along with ash emissions and ejecta, September 2019-February 2020

Frequent historical eruptions have been reported from Mexico's Popocatépetl going back to the 14th century. Activity increased in the mid-1990s after about 50 years of quiescence, and the current eruption, ongoing since January 2005, has included numerous episodes of lava-dome growth and destruction within the 500-m-wide summit caldera. Multiple emissions of steam and gas occur daily, rising generally 1-3 km above the summit at about 5,400 m elevation; many contain small amounts of ash. Larger, more explosive events with ash plumes and incandescent ejecta landing on the flanks occur frequently. Activity through August 2019 was typical of the ongoing eruption with near-constant emissions of water vapor, gas, and minor ash, as well as multiple explosions with ash plumes and incandescent blocks scattered on the flanks (BGVN 44:09). This report covers similar activity from September 2019 through February 2020. Information comes from daily reports provided by México's Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED); ash plumes are reported by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). Satellite visible and thermal imagery and SO2 data also provide helpful observations of activity.

Activity summary. Activity at Popocatépetl during September 2019-February 2020 continued at the high levels that have been ongoing for many years, characterized by hundreds of daily low-intensity emissions that included steam, gas, and small amounts of ash, and periods with multiple daily minor and moderate explosions that produce kilometer-plus-high ash plumes (figure 140). The Washington VAAC issued multiple daily volcanic ash advisories with plume altitudes around 6 km for many, although some were reported as high as 8.2 km. Hundreds of minutes of daily tremor activity often produced ash emissions as well. Incandescent ejecta landed 500-1,000 m from the summit frequently. The MIROVA thermal anomaly data showed near-constant moderate to high levels of thermal energy throughout the period (figure 141).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 140. Emissions continued at a high rate from Popocatépetl throughout September 2019-February 2020. Daily low-intensity emissions numbered usually in the hundreds (blue, left axis), while less frequent minor (orange) and moderate (green) explosions, plotted on the right axis, occurred intermittently through November 2019, and increased again during February 2020. Data was compiled from CENAPRED daily reports.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 141. MIROVA log radiative power thermal data for Popocatépetl from 1 May 2019 through February 2020 showed a constant output of moderate energy the entire time. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Sulfur dioxide emissions were measured with satellite instruments many days of each month from September 2019 thru February 2020. The intensity and drift directions varied significantly; some plumes remained detectable hundreds of kilometers from the volcano (figure 142). Plumes were detected almost daily in September, and on most days in October. They were measured at lower levels but often during November, and after pulses in early and late December only small plumes were visible during January 2020. Intermittent larger pulses returned in February. Dome growth and destruction in the summit crater continued throughout the period. A small dome was observed inside the summit crater in late September. Dome 85, 210-m-wide, was observed inside the summit crater in early November. Satellite imagery captured evidence of dome growth and ash emissions throughout the period (figure 143).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 142. Sulfur dioxide emissions from Popocatépetl were frequent from September 2019 through February 2020. Plumes drifted SW on 7 September (top left), 30 October (top middle), and 21 February (bottom right). SO2 drifted N and NW on 26 November (top right). On 2 December (bottom left) a long plume of sulfur dioxide hundreds of kilometers long drifted SW over the Pacific Ocean while the drift direction changed to NW closer to the volcano. The SO2 plumes measured in January (bottom center) were generally smaller than during the other months covered in this report. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 143. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of Popocatépetl during November 2019-February 2020 provided evidence for ongoing dome growth and explosions with ash emissions. Top left: a ring of incandescence inside the summit crater on 8 November 2019 was indicative of the growth of dome 85 observed by CENAPRED. Top middle: incandescence on 8 December inside the summit crater was typical of that observed many times during the period. Top right: a dense, narrow ash plume drifted N from the summit on 17 January 2020. Bottom left: Snow cover made ashfall on 6 February easily visible on the E flank. On 11 February, the summit crater was incandescent and nearly all the snow was covered with ash. Bottom right: a strong thermal anomaly and ash emission were captured on 21 February. Bottom left and top right images use Natural color rendering (bands 4, 3, 2); other images use Atmospheric penetration rendering to show infrared signal (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during September-November 2019. On 1 September 2019 minor ashfall was reported in the communities of Atlautla, Ozumba, Juchitepec, and Tenango del Aire in the State of Mexico. The ash plumes rose less than 2 km above the summit and incandescent ejecta traveled less than 100 m from the summit crater. Twenty-two minor and three moderate explosions were recorded on 4-5 September along with minor ashfall in Juchitepec, Tenango del Aire, Tepetlixpa, and Atlautla. During a flyover on 5 September, officials did not observe a dome within the crater, and the dimensions remained the same as during the previous visit (350 m in diameter and 150 m deep) (figure 144). Ashfall was reported in Tlalmanalco and Amecameca on 6 September. The following day incandescent ejecta was visible on the flanks near the summit and ashfall was reported in Amecameca, Ayapango, and Tenango del Aire. The five moderate explosions on 8 September produced ash plumes that rose as high as 2 km above the summit, and incandescent ejecta on the flanks. Explosions on 10 September sent ejecta 500 m from the crater. Eight explosions during 20-21 September produced ejecta that traveled up to 1.5 km down the flanks (figure 145). During an overflight on 27 September specialists from the National Center for Disaster Prevention (CENAPRED ) of the National Coordination of Civil Protection and researchers from the Institute of Geophysics of UNAM observed a new dome 30 m in diameter; the overall crater had not changed size since the overflight in early September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 144. CENAPRED carried out overflights of Popocatépetl on 5 (left) and 27 September (right) 2019; the crater did not change in size, but a new dome 30 m in diameter was visible on 27 September. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Sobrevuelo al volcán Popocatépetl, 05 y 27 de septiembre).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 145. Ash plumes at Popocatépetl on 19 (left) and 20 (right) September 2019 rose over a kilometer above the summit before dissipating. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Reporte del monitoreo de CENAPRED al volcán Popocatépetl 19 y 20 de septiembre).

Fourteen explosions were reported on 2 October 2019. The last one produced an ash plume that rose 2 km above the summit and sent incandescent ejecta down the E slope (figure 146). Ashfall was reported in the municipalities of Atlautla Ozumba, Ayapango and Ecatzingo in the State of Mexico. Explosions on 3 and 4 October also produced ash plumes that rose between 1 and 2 km above the summit and sent ejecta onto the flanks. Additional incandescent ejecta was reported on 6, 7, 15, and 19 October. The communities of Amecameca, Tenango del Aire, Tlalmanalco, Cocotitlán, Temamatla, and Tláhuac reported ashfall on 10 October; Amecameca reported more ashfall on 12 October. On 22 October slight ashfall appeared in Amecameca, Tenango del Aire, Tlalmanalco, Ayapango, Temamatla, and Atlautla.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 146. Incandescent ejecta at Popocatépetl traveled down the E slope on 2 October 2019 (left); an ash plume two days later rose 2 km above the summit (right). Courtesy of CENAPRED (Reporte del monitoreo de CENAPRED al volcán Popocatépetl 2 y 4 de octubre).

During 2-3 November 2019 there was 780 minutes of tremor reported in four different episodes. The seismicity was accompanied by ash emissions that drifted W and NW and produced ashfall in numerous communities, including Amecameca, Juchitepec, Ozumba, Tepetlixpa, and Atlautla in the State of México, in Ayapango and Cuautla in the State of Morelos, and in the municipalities of Tlahuac, Tlalpan, and Xochimilco in Mexico City. A moderate explosion on 4 November sent incandescent ejecta 2 km down the slopes and produced an ash plume that rose 1.5 km and drifted NW. Minor ashfall was reported in Tlalmanalco, Amecameca, and Tenango del Aire, State of Mexico. Similar ash plumes from explosions occurred the following day. Scientists from CENAPRED and the Institute of Geophysics of UNAM observed dome number 85 during an overflight on 5 November 2019. It had a diameter of 210 m and was 80 m thick, with an irregular surface (figure 147). Multiple explosions on 6 and 7 November produced incandescent ejecta; a moderate explosion late on 11 November produced ejecta that traveled 1.5 km from the summit and produced an ash plume 2 km high (figure 148). A lengthy period of constant ash emission that drifted E was reported on 18 November. A moderate explosion on 28 November sent incandescent fragments 1.5 km down the slopes and ash one km above the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 147. A new dome was visible inside the summit crater at Popocatépetl during an overflight on 5 November 2019. It had a diameter of 210 m and was 80 m thick. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Sobrevuelo al volcán Popocatépetl, 05 de noviembre).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 148. Ash emissions and explosions with incandescent ejecta continued at Popocatépetl during November 2019. The ash plume on 1 November changed drift direction sharply a few hundred meters above the summit (left). Incandescent ejecta traveled 1.5 km down the flanks on 11 November (right). Courtesy of CENAPRED (Reporte del monitoreo de CENAPRED al volcán Popocatépetl 1 y 12 de noviembre).

Activity during December 2019-February 2020. Throughout December 2019 weak emissions of steam and gas were reported daily, sometimes with minor amounts of ash, and minor explosions were only reported on 21 and 27 December. On 21 December two new high-resolution webcams were installed around Popocatépetl, one 5 km from the crater at the Tlamacas station, and the second in San Juan Tianguismanalco, 20 km away. Ash emissions and incandescent ejecta 800 m from the summit were observed on 25 December (figure 149). Incandescence at night was reported during 27-29 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 149. Incandescent ejecta moved 800 m down the flanks of Popocatépetl during explosions on 25 December 2019 (left); weak emissions of steam, gas, and minor ash were visible on 27 December and throughout the month. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Reporte del monitoreo de CENAPRED al volcán Popocatépetl 25 y 27 de diciembre).

Continuous emissions of water vapor and gas with low ash content were typical daily during January 2020. A moderate explosion on 9 January produced an ash plume that rose 3 km from the summit and drifted NE. In addition, incandescent ejecta traveled 1 km from the crater rim. A minor explosion on 21 January produced a 1.5-km-high plume with low ash content and incandescent ejecta that fell near the crater (figure 150). The first of two explosions late on 27 January produced ejecta that traveled 500 m and a 1-km-high ash plume. Constant incandescence was observed overnight on 29-30 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 150. Although fewer explosions were recorded at Popocatépetl during January 2020, activity continued. An ash plume on 19 January rose over a kilometer above the summit (top left). A minor explosion on 21 January produced a 1.5-km-high plume with low ash content and incandescent ejecta that fell near the crater (top right). Smaller emissions with steam, gas, and ash were typical many days, including on 22 (bottom left) and 31 (bottom right) January 2019. Courtesy of CENAPRED (Reporte del monitoreo de CENAPRED al volcán Popocatépetl 19, 21, 22 y 31 de enero).

A moderate explosion on 5 February 2020 produced an ash plume that rose 1.5 km and drifted NNE. Explosions on 10 and 13 February sent ejecta 500 m down the flanks (figure 151). During an overflight on 18 February scientists noted that the internal crater maintained a diameter of 350 m and its approximate depth was 100-150 m; the crater was covered by tephra. For most of the second half of February the volcano had a continuous emission of gases with minor amounts of ash. In addition, multiple explosions produced ash plumes that rose 400-1,200 m above the crater and drifted in several different directions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 151. Ash emissions and explosions continued at Popocatépetl during February 2020. Dense ash drifted near the snow-covered summit on 6 February (top left). Incandescent ejecta traveled 500 m down the flanks on 13 February (top right). Ash plumes billowed from the summit on 18 and 22 February (bottom row). Courtesy of CENAPRED (Reporte del monitoreo de CENAPRED al volcán Popocatépetl, 6, 15, 18 y 22 de febrero).

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/), Daily Report Archive http://www.cenapred.unam.mx:8080/reportesVolcanGobMX/BuscarReportesVolcan); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); 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).


Santa Maria (Guatemala) — April 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Santa Maria

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Daily explosions with ash plumes and block avalanches continue, September 2019-February 2020

The dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex on the W flank of Guatemala's Santa María volcano has been growing and actively erupting since 1922. Ash explosions, pyroclastic, and lava flows have emerged from Caliente, the youngest of the four vents in the complex, for more than 40 years. A lava dome that appeared within the summit crater of Caliente in October 2016 has continued to grow, producing frequent block avalanches down the flanks. Daily explosions with ash plumes and block avalanches continued during September 2019-February 2020, the period covered in this report, with information primarily from Guatemala's INSIVUMEH (Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meterologia e Hidrologia) and the Washington VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center).

Constant fumarolic activity with steam and gas persisted from the Caliente dome throughout September 2019-February 2020. Explosions occurred multiple times per day, producing ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 3.1-3.5 km and usually drifted a few kilometers before dissipating. Several lahars during September and October carried volcanic blocks, ash, and debris down major drainages. Periodic ashfall was reported in communities within 10 km of the volcano. An increase in thermal activity beginning in November (figure 101) resulted in an increased number of observations of incandescence visible at night from the summit of Caliente through February 2020. Block avalanches occurred daily on the flanks of the dome, often reaching the base, stirring up small clouds of ash that drifted downwind.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. The MIROVA project graph of thermal activity at Santa María from 12 May 2019 through February 2020 shows a gradual increase in thermal energy beginning in November 2019. This corresponds to an increase in the number of daily observations of incandescence at the summit of the Caliente dome during this period. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Constant steam and gas fumarolic activity rose from the Caliente dome, drifting W, usually rising to 2.8-3.0 km altitude during September 2019. Multiple daily explosions with ash plumes rising to 2.9-3.4 km altitude drifted W or SW over the communities of San Marcos, Loma Linda Palajunoj, and Monte Claro (figure 102). Constant block avalanches fell to the base of the cone on the NE and SE flanks. The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery on 10 September at 3.1 km altitude drifting W. On 14 September another plume was spotted moving WSW at 4.6 km altitude which dissipated quickly; the webcam captured another plume on 16 September. Ashfall on 27 September reached about 1 km from the volcano; it reached 1.5 km on 29 September. Lahars descended the Rio Cabello de Ángel on 2 and 24 September (figure 102). They were about 15 m wide, and 1-3 m deep, carrying blocks 1-2 m in diameter.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. A lahar descended the Rio Cabello de Ángel at Santa Maria and flowed into the Rio Nima 1 on 24 September 2019. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito (1402-03), Semana del 21 al 27 de septiembre de 2019).

Througout October 2019, degassing of steam with minor gases occurred from the Caliente summit, rising to 2.9-3.0 km altitude and generally drifting SW. Weak explosions took place 1-5 times per hour, producing ash plumes that rose to 3.2-3.5 km altitude. Ashfall was reported in Monte Claro on 2 October. Nearly constant block avalanches descended the SE and S flanks, disturbing recent layers of fine ash and producing local ash clouds. Moderate explosions on 11 October produced ash plumes that rose to 3.5 km altitude and drifted W and SW about 1.5 km towards Río San Isidro (figure 103). The following day additional plumes drifted a similar distance to the SE. The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission visible in satellite imagery at 4.9 km altitude on 13 October drifting NNW. Ashfall was reported in Parcelamiento Monte Claro on 14 October. Some of the block avalanches observed on 14 October on the SE, S, and SW flanks were incandescent. Ash drifted 1.5 km W and SW on 17 October. Ashfall was reported near la finca Monte Claro on 25 and 28 October. A lahar descended the Río San Isidro, a tributary of the Río El Tambor on 7 October carrying blocks 1-2 m in diameter, tree trunks, and branches. It was about 16 m wide and 1-2 m deep. Additional lahars descended the rio Cabello de Angel on 23 and 24 October. They were about 15 m wide and 2 m deep, and carried ash and blocks 1-2 m in diameter, tree trunks, and branches.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. Daily ash plumes were reported from the Caliente cone at Santa María during October 2019, similar to these from 30 September (left) and 11 October 2019 (right). Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito (1402-03), Semana del 28 de septiembre al 04 de octubre de 2019; Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito (1402-03), Semana del 05 al 11 de octubre de 2019).

During November 2019, steam plumes rose to 2.9-3.0 km altitude and generally drifted E. There were 1-3 explosions per hour; the ash plumes produced rose to altitudes of 3.1-3.5 km and often drifted SW, resulting in ashfall around the volcanic complex. Block avalanches descended the S and SW flanks every day. On 4 November ashfall was reported in the fincas (ranches) of El Faro, Santa Marta, El Viejo Palmar, and Las Marías, and the odor of sulfur was reported 10 km S. Incandescence was observed at the Caliente dome during the night of 5-6 November. Ash fell again in El Viejo Palmar, fincas La Florida, El Faro, and Santa Marta (5-6 km SW) on 7 November. Sulfur odor was also reported 8-10 km S on 16, 19, and 22 November. Fine-grained ash fell on 18 November in Loma Linda and San Marcos Palajunoj. On 29 November strong block avalanches descended in the SW flank, stirring up reddish ash that had fallen on the flanks (figure 104). The ash drifted up to 20 km SW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. Ash plumes rose from explosions multiple times per day at Santa Maria’s Santiaguito complex during November 2019, and block avalanches stirred up reddish clouds of ash that drifted for many kilometers. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH. Left, 11 November 2019, from Reporte Semanal de Monitoreo: Volcán Santiaguito (1402-03), Semana del 09 al 15 de noviembre de 2019. Right, 29 November 2019 from BOLETÍN VULCANOLÓGICO ESPECIAL BESTG# 106-2019, Guatemala 29 de noviembre de 2019, 10:50 horas (Hora Local).

White steam plumes rising to 2.9-3.0 km altitude drifted SE most days during December 2019. One to three explosions per hour produced ash plumes that rose to 3.1-3.5 km altitude and drifted W and SW producing ashfall on the flanks. Several strong block avalanches sent material down the SW flank. Ash from the explosions drifted about 1.5 km SW on 3 and 7 December. The Washington VAAC reported a small ash emission that rose to 4.9 km altitude and drifted WSW on 8 December, and another on 13 December that rose to 4.3 km altitude. Ashfall was reported up to 10 km S on 24 December. Incandescence was reported at the dome by INSIVUMEH eight times during the month, significantly more than during the recent previous months (figure 105).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Strong thermal anomalies were visible in Sentinel-2 imagery at the summit of the Caliente cone at Santa María’s Santiaguito’s complex on 19 December 2019. Image uses Atmospheric Penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during January 2020 was similar to that during previous months. White plumes of steam rose from the Caliente dome to altitudes of 2.7-3.0 km and drifted SE; one to three explosions per hour produced ash plumes that rose to 3.2-3.4 km altitude and generally drifted about 1.5 km SW before dissipating. Frequent block avalanches on the SE flank caused smaller plumes that drifted SSW often over the ranches of San Marcos and Loma Linda Palajunoj. On 28 January ash plumes drifted W and SW over the communities of Calaguache, El Nuevo Palmar, and Las Marías. In addition to incandescence observed at the crater of Caliente dome at least nine times, thermal anomalies in satellite imagery were detected multiple times from the block avalanches on the S flank (figure 106).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Incandescence at the summit and in the block avalanches on the S flank of the Caliente cone at Santa María’s Santiaguito’s complex was visible in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 8 and 13 January 2020. Atmospheric penetration rendering images (bands 12, 11, 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery at 4.6 km altitude drifting W on 3 February 2020. INSIVUMEH reported constant steam degassing that rose to 2.9-3.0 km altitude and drifted SW. In addition, 1-3 weak to moderate explosions per hour produced ash plumes to 3.1-3.5 km altitude that drifted about 1 km SW. Small amounts of ashfall around the volcano’s perimeter was common. The ash plumes on 5 February drifted NE over Santa María de Jesús. On 8 February the ash plumes drifted E and SE over the communities of Calaguache, El Nuevo Palmar, and Las Marías. Block avalanches on the S and SE flanks of Caliente dome continued, creating small ash clouds on the flank. Incandescence continued frequently at the crater and was also observed on the S flank in satellite imagery (figure 107).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. Incandescence at the summit and on the S flank of the Caliente cone at Santa María’s Santiaguito’s complex was frequent during February 2020, including on 2 (left) and 17 (right) February 2020 as seen in Sentinel-2 imagery. Atmostpheric Penetration rendering imagery (bands 12, 11, 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/ ); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); 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/).


Villarrica (Chile) — April 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Villarrica

Chile

39.42°S, 71.93°W; summit elev. 2847 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Brief increase in explosions, mid-September 2019; continued thermal activity through February 2020

Historical eruptions at Chile's Villarrica, documented since 1558, have consisted largely of mild-to-moderate explosive activity with occasional lava effusion. An intermittently active lava lake at the summit has been the source of Strombolian activity, incandescent ejecta, and thermal anomalies for several decades; the current eruption has been ongoing since December 2014. Continuing activity during September 2019-February 2020 is covered in this report, with information provided by the Southern Andes Volcano Observatory (Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur, OVDAS), part of Chile's National Service of Geology and Mining (Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería, SERNAGEOMIN), and Projecto Observación Villarrica Internet (POVI), part of the Fundacion Volcanes de Chile, a research group that studies volcanoes across Chile.

A brief period of heighted explosive activity in early September 2019 caused SERNAGEOMIN to raise the Alert Level from Yellow to Orange (on a four-color scale of Green-Yellow-Orange-Red) for several days. Increases in radiative power were visible in the MIROVA thermal anomaly data during September (figure 84). Although overall activity decreased after that, intermittent explosions were observed at the summit, and incandescence continued throughout September 2019-February 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery indicated a strong thermal anomaly from the summit crater whenever the weather conditions permitted. In addition, ejecta periodically covered the area around the summit crater, and particulates often covered the snow beneath the narrow gas plume drifting S from the summit (figure 85).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Thermal activity at Villarrica from 28 May 2019 through February 2020 was generally at a low level, except for brief periods in August and September 2019 when larger explosions were witnessed and recorded in seismic data and higher levels of thermal activity were noted by the MIROVA project. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. Natural-color (top) and Atmospheric penetration (bottom) renderings of three different dates during September 2019-February 2020 show typical continued activity at Villarica during the period. Dark ejecta periodically covered the snow around the summit crater, and streaks of particulate material were sometimes visible on the snow underneath the plumes of bluish gas drifting S from the volcano (top images). Persistent thermal anomalies were recorded in infrared satellite data on the same dates (bottom images). Dates recorded are (left to right) 28 September 2019, 20 December 2019, and 1 January 2020. Natural color rendering uses bands 4,3, and 2, and Atmospheric penetration rendering uses bands 12, 11, and 8a. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

SERNAGEOMIN raised the Alert Level from Green to Yellow in early August 2019 due to the increase in activity that included incandescent ejecta and bombs reaching 200 m from the summit crater (BGVN 44:09). An increase in seismic tremor activity on 8 September was accompanied by vigorous Strombolian explosions reported by POVI. The following day, SERNAGEOMIN raised the Alert Level from Yellow to Orange. Poor weather prevented visual observations of the summit on 8 and 9 September, but high levels of incandescence were observed briefly on 10 September. Incandescent ejecta reached 200 m from the crater rim late on 10 September (figure 86). Activity increased the next day with ejecta recorded 400 m from the crater, and the explosions were felt 12 km from the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. A new pulse of activity at Villarrica reached its maximum on 10 (left) and 11 (right) September 2019. Incandescent ejecta reached 200 m from the crater rim on 10 September and up to 400 m the following day. Courtesy of POVI (Volcan Villarrica, Resumen grafico del comportamiento, Septiembre 2019 a enero 2020).

Explosions decreased in intensity by 13 September, but avalanches of incandescent material were visible on the E flank in the early morning hours (figure 87). Small black plumes later in the day were interpreted by POVI as the result of activity from landslides within the crater. Fine ash deposited on the N and NW flanks during 16-17 September was attributed to wind moving ash from within the crater, and not to new emissions from the crater (figure 88). SERNAGEOMIN lowered the Alert Level to Yellow on 16 September as tremor activity decreased significantly. Activity continued to decrease during the second half of September; incandescence was moderate with no avalanches observed, and intermittent emissions with small amounts of material were noted. Degassing of steam plumes rose up to 120 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. By 13 September 2019, a decrease in activity at Villarrica was apparent. Incandescence (red arrow) was visible on the E flank of Villarrica early on 13 September (left). Fine ash, likely from small collapses of new material inside the vent, rose a short distance above the summit later in the day (right). Courtesy of POVI (Volcan Villarrica, Resumen grafico del comportamiento, Septiembre 2019 a Enero 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Fine-grained material covered the summit of Villarrica on 17 September 2019. POVI interpreted this as a result of strong winds moving fine ash-sized particles from within the crater and depositing them on the N and NW flanks. Courtesy of POVI (Volcan Villarrica, Resumen grafico del comportamiento, Septiembre 2019 a enero 2020).

Low-altitude degassing was typical activity during October-December 2019; occasionally steam and gas plumes rose 300 m above the summit, but they were generally less than 200 m high. Incandescence was visible at night when weather conditions permitted. Occasional Strombolian explosions were observed in the webcam (figure 89). During January and February 2020, similar activity was reported with steam plumes observed to heights of 300-400 m above the summit, and incandescence on nights where the summit was visible (figure 90). A drone overflight on 19 January produced a clear view into the summit crater revealing a 5-m-wide lava pit about 120 m down inside the crater (figure 91).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Activity continued at a lower level at the summit of Villarrica from October-December 2019. The 30-m-wide vent at the bottom of the summit crater (120 m deep) of Villarrica (left) was emitting wisps of bluish gas on 30 October 2019. Sporadic Strombolian explosions ejected material around the crater rim on 12 December (right). Courtesy of POVI (Volcan Villarrica, Resumen grafico del comportamiento, Septiembre 2019 a enero 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Small explosive events were recorded at Villarrica during January and February 2020, including these events on 4 (left) and 18 (right) January where ejecta reached about 50 m above the crater rim. Courtesy of POVI (Volcan Villarrica, Resumen grafico del comportamiento, Septiembre 2019 a Enero 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. An oblique view into the bottom of the summit crater of Villarrica on 19 January 2020 was captured by drone. The diameter of the lava pit was calculated at about 5 m and was about 120 m deep. Image copyright by Leighton M. Watson, used with permission; courtesy of POVI (Volcan Villarrica, Resumen grafico del comportamiento, Septiembre 2019 a Enero 2020).

Geologic Background. Glacier-clad Villarrica, one of Chile's most active volcanoes, rises above the lake and town of the same name. It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain. A 6-km-wide caldera formed during the late Pleistocene. A 2-km-wide caldera that formed about 3500 years ago is located at the base of the presently active, dominantly basaltic to basaltic-andesitic cone at the NW margin of the Pleistocene caldera. More than 30 scoria cones and fissure vents dot the flanks. Plinian eruptions and pyroclastic flows that have extended up to 20 km from the volcano were produced during the Holocene. Lava flows up to 18 km long have issued from summit and flank vents. Historical eruptions, documented since 1558, have consisted largely of mild-to-moderate explosive activity with occasional lava effusion. Glaciers cover 40 km2 of the volcano, and lahars have damaged towns on its flanks.

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN), Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Avda Sta María No. 0104, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/); Proyecto Observación Villarrica Internet (POVI) (URL: http://www.povi.cl/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Leighton M. Watson, Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1272, USA (URL: https://earthsciences.uoregon.edu/).


Semisopochnoi (United States) — April 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Semisopochnoi

United States

51.93°N, 179.58°E; summit elev. 1221 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent small explosions detected in December 2019 through mid-March 2020

Semisopochnoi is a remote stratovolcano located in the western Aleutians dominated by an 8 km-wide caldera containing the small (100 m diameter) Fenner Lake and a three-cone cluster: a northern cone known as the North cone of Mount Cerberus, an eastern cone known as the East cone of Mount Cerberus, and a southern cone known as the South cone of Mount Cerberus. Previous volcanism has included small explosions, ash deposits, and gas-and-steam emissions. This report updates activity during September 2019 through March 2020 using information from the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO). A new eruptive period began on 7 December 2019 and continued until mid-March 2020 with activity primarily focused in the North cone of Mount Cerberus.

During September-November 2019, low levels of unrest were characterized by intermittent weeks of elevated seismicity and gas-and-steam plumes visible on 8 September, 7-8 October, and 24 November. On 6 October an SO2 plume was visible in satellite imagery, according to AVO.

Seismicity increased on 5 December and was described as a strong tremor through 7 December. This tremor was associated with a small eruption on 7 December; intermittent explosions occurred and continued into the night. Increased seismicity was recorded throughout the rest of the month while AVO registered small explosions during 11-19 December. On 11-12 December, a gas-and-steam plume possibly containing some of ash extended 80 km (figure 2). Two more ash plumes were observed on 14 and 17 December, the latter of which extended 15 km SE. Sentinel-2 satellite images show gas-and-steam plumes rising from the North Cerberus crater intermittently at the end of 2019 and into early 2020 (figure 3).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Sentinel-2 satellite image showing a gray ash plume extending up to 17 km SE from the North Cerberus crater on 11 December 2019. Image taken by Hannah Dietterich; courtesy of AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Sentinel-2 satellite images of gas-and-steam plumes at Semisopochnoi from late November 2019 through mid-March 2020. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The month of January 2020 was characterized by low levels of unrest due to intermittent low seismicity. Small explosions were reported during 14-17 February and a gas-and-steam plume was visible on 26 February. Seismic unrest occurred between 18 February-7 March. Gas-and-steam plumes were visible on 1, 9, 14-17, 20, and 21 March (figure 4). During 15-17 March, small explosions occurred, according to AVO. Additionally, clear satellite images showed gas-and-steam emissions and minor ash deposits around North Cerberus’ crater rim. After 17 March the explosions subsided and ash emissions were no longer observed. However, intermittent gas-and-steam emissions continued and seismicity remained elevated through the end of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Satellite image of Semisopochnoi showing degassing within the North Cerberus crater on 22 March 2020. Image taken by Matt Loewen; courtesy of AVO.

Geologic Background. Semisopochnoi, the largest subaerial volcano of the western Aleutians, is 20 km wide at sea level and contains an 8-km-wide caldera. It formed as a result of collapse of a low-angle, dominantly basaltic volcano following the eruption of a large volume of dacitic pumice. The high point of the island is 1221-m-high Anvil Peak, a double-peaked late-Pleistocene cone that forms much of the island's northern part. The three-peaked 774-m-high Mount Cerberus volcano was constructed during the Holocene within the caldera. Each of the peaks contains a summit crater; lava flows on the northern flank of Cerberus appear younger than those on the southern side. Other post-caldera volcanoes include the symmetrical 855-m-high Sugarloaf Peak SSE of the caldera and Lakeshore Cone, a small cinder cone at the edge of Fenner Lake in the NE part of the caldera. Most documented historical eruptions have originated from Cerberus, although Coats (1950) considered that both Sugarloaf and Lakeshore Cone within the caldera could have been active during historical time.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667 USA (URL: https://avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://dggs.alaska.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Ubinas (Peru) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Ubinas

Peru

16.355°S, 70.903°W; summit elev. 5672 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions produced ash plumes in September 2019; several lahars generated in January and February 2020

Ubinas, located 70 km from the city of Arequipa in Peru, has produced frequent eruptions since 1550 characterized by ash plumes, ballistic ejecta (blocks and bombs), some pyroclastic flows, and lahars. Activity is focused at the summit crater (figure 53). A new eruptive episode began on 24 June 2019, with an ash plume reaching 12 km altitude on 19 July. This report summarizes activity during September 2019 through February 2020 and is based on agency reports and satellite data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. A PlanetScope satellite image of Ubinas on 16 December 2019. Courtesy of PlanetLabs.

Prior to September 2019 the last explosion occurred on 22 July. At 2145 on 1 September moderate, continuous ash emission occurred reaching nearly 1 km above the crater. An explosion produced an ash plume at 1358 on the 3rd that reached up to 1.3 km above the summit; six minutes later ashfall and lapilli up to 1.5 cm in diameter was reported 6 km away, with ashfall reported up to 8 km away (figure 54 and 55). Three explosions produced ash plumes at 0456, 0551, and 0844 on 4 September, with the two later ash plumes reaching around 2 km above the crater. The ash plume dispersed to the south and ashfall was reported in Ubinas, Tonohaya, San Miguel, Anascapa, Huatahua, Huarina, and Matalaque, reaching a thickness of 1 mm in Ubinas.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. An eruption at Ubinas produced an ash plume up to 1.3 km on at 1358 on 3 September 2019. Courtesy of INGEMMET.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Ash and lapilli fall up to 1.5 cm in diameter was reported 6 km away from Ubinas on 3 September 2019 (top) and an Ingemmet geologist collects ash samples from the last three explosions. Courtesy of INGEMMET.

During 8-9 September there were three explosions generating ash plumes to less than 2.5 km, with the largest occurring at 1358 and producing ashfall in the Moquegua region to the south. Following these events, gas and water vapor were continuously emitted up to 1 km above the crater. There was an increase in seismicity during the 10-11th and an explosion produced a 1.5 km high (above the crater) ash plume at 0726 on the 12th, which dispersed to the S and SE (figure 56). During 10-15 September there was continuous emission of gas (blue in color) and steam up to 1.5 km above the volcano. Gas emission, thermal anomalies, and seismicity continued during 16-29 September, but no further explosions were recorded.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. An explosion at Ubinas on 12 September 2019 produced an ash plume to 1.5 km above the volcano. The ash dispersed to the S and SE. Courtesy of IGP.

Throughout October activity consisted of seismicity, elevated temperatures within the crater, and gas emissions reaching 800 to 1,500 m above the crater. No explosions were recorded. Drone footage released in early October (figure 57) shows the gas emissions and provided a view of the crater floor (figure 58). On the 15th IGP reported that the likelihood of an eruption had reduced.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. IGP flew a fixed-wing drone over Ubinas as part of their monitoring efforts. This photograph shows gas emissions rising from the summit crater, published on 7 October 2019. Courtesy of IGP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Drone image showing gas emissions and the summit crater of Ubinas. Image taken by IGP staff and released on 7 October 2019; courtesy of IGP.

Similar activity continued through early November with no reported explosions, and the thermal anomalies were no longer detected at the end of November (figure 59), although a faint thermal anomaly was visible in Sentinel-2 data in mid-December (figure 60). A rockfall occurred at 1138 on 13 November down the Volcanmayo gorge.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. This MIROA Log Radiative Power plot shows increased thermal energy detected at Ubinas during August through November 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image showing elevated temperatures in the Ubinas crater on 16 December 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

There were no explosions during January or February 2020, with seismicity and reduced gas emissions continuing. There was a small- to moderate-volume lahar generated at 1620 on 4 January down the SE flank. A second moderate- to high-volume lahar was generated at 1532 on 24 February, and three more lahars at 1325 and 1500 on 29 February, and at 1601 on 1 March, moved down the Volcanmayo gorge and the Sacohaya river channel. The last three lahars were of moderate to large volume.

Geologic Background. A small, 1.4-km-wide caldera cuts the top of Ubinas, Perú's most active volcano, giving it a truncated appearance. It is the northernmost of three young volcanoes located along a regional structural lineament about 50 km behind the main volcanic front. The growth and destruction of Ubinas I was followed by construction of Ubinas II beginning in the mid-Pleistocene. The upper slopes of the andesitic-to-rhyolitic Ubinas II stratovolcano are composed primarily of andesitic and trachyandesitic lava flows and steepen to nearly 45 degrees. The steep-walled, 150-m-deep summit caldera contains an ash cone with a 500-m-wide funnel-shaped vent that is 200 m deep. Debris-avalanche deposits from the collapse of the SE flank about 3,700 years ago extend 10 km from the volcano. Widespread Plinian pumice-fall deposits include one of Holocene age about 1,000 years ago. Holocene lava flows are visible on the flanks, but historical activity, documented since the 16th century, has consisted of intermittent minor-to-moderate explosive eruptions.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico), Barrio Magisterial Nro. 2 B-16 Umacollo - Yanahuara Arequipa, Peru (URL: http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe); Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP), Calle Badajoz N° 169 Urb. Mayorazgo IV Etapa, Ate, Lima 15012, Perú (URL: https://www.gob.pe/igp); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Yasur (Vanuatu) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Yasur

Vanuatu

19.532°S, 169.447°E; summit elev. 361 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strombolian activity continues during June 2019 through February 2020

Yasur has remained on Alert Level 2 (on a scale of 0-4) since 18 October 2016, indicating "Major Unrest; Danger Zone remains at 395 m around the eruptive vents." The summit crater contains several active vents that frequently produce Strombolian explosions and gas plumes (figure 60). This bulletin summarizes activity during June 2019 through February 2020 and is based on reports by the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), visitor photographs and videos, and satellite data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. The crater of Yasur contains several active vents that produce gas emissions and Strombolian activity. Photo taken during 25-27 October 2019 by Justin Noonan, used with permission.

A VMGD report on 27 June described ongoing Strombolian explosions with major unrest confined to the crater. The 25 July report noted the continuation of Strombolian activity with some strong explosions, and a warning that volcanic bombs may impact outside of the crater area (figure 61).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. A volcanic bomb (a fluid chunk of lava greater than 64 mm in diameter) that was ejected from Yasur. The pattern on the surface shows the fluid nature of the lava before it cooled into a solid rock. Photo taken during 25-27 October 2019 by Justin Noonan, used with permission.

No VMGD report was available for August, but Strombolian activity continued with gas emissions and explosions, as documented by visitors (figure 62). The eruption continued through September and October with some strong explosions and multiple active vents visible in thermal satellite imagery (figure 63). Strombolian explosions ejecting fluid lava from rapidly expanding gas bubbles were recorded during October, and likely represented the typical activity during the surrounding months (figure 64). Along with vigorous degassing producing a persistent plume there was occasional ash content (figure 65). At some point during 20-29 October a small landslide occurred along the eastern inner wall of the crater, visible in satellite images and later confirmed to have produced ashfall at the summit (figure 66).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. Different views of the Yasur vents on 7-8 August 2019 taken from a video. Strombolian activity and degassing were visible. Courtesy of Arnold Binas, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images show variations in detected thermal energy emitting from the active Yasur vents on 18 September and 22 December 2019. False color (bands 12, 11, 4) satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. Strombolian explosions at Yasur during 25-27 October 2019. Large gas bubbles rise to the top of the lava column and burst, ejecting volcanic bombs – fluid chunks of lava, out of the vent. Photos by Justin Noonan, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. Gas and ash emissions rise from the active vents at Yasur between 25-27 October 2019. Photos by Justin Noonan, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Planet Scope satellite images of Yasur show a change in the crater morphology between 20 and 29 October 2019. Copyright of Planet Labs.

Continuous explosive activity continued in November-February with some stronger explosions recorded along with accompanying gas emissions. Gas plumes of sulfur dioxide were detected by satellite sensors on some days through this period (figure 67) and ash content was present at times (figure 68). Thermal anomalies continued to be detected by satellite sensors with varying intensity, and with a reduction in intensity in February, as seen in Sentinel-2 imagery and the MIROVA system (figures 69 and 70).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. SO2 plumes detected at Yasur by Aura/OMI on 21 December 2019 and 31 January 2020, drifting W to NW, and on 14 and 23 February 2020, drifting W and south, and NWW to NW. Courtesy of Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, NASA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. An ash plume erupts from Yasur on 20 February 2020 and drifts NW. Courtesy of Planet Labs.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images show variations in detected thermal energy in the active Yasur vents during January and February 2020. False color (bands 12, 11, 4) satellite images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. The MIROVA thermal detection system recorded persistent thermal energy emitted at Yasur with some variation from mid-May 2019 to May 2020. There was a reduction in detected energy after January. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. Yasur, the best-known and most frequently visited of the Vanuatu volcanoes, has been in more-or-less continuous Strombolian and Vulcanian activity since Captain Cook observed ash eruptions in 1774. This style of activity may have continued for the past 800 years. Located at the SE tip of Tanna Island, this mostly unvegetated pyroclastic cone has a nearly circular, 400-m-wide summit crater. The active cone is largely contained within the small Yenkahe caldera, and is the youngest of a group of Holocene volcanic centers constructed over the down-dropped NE flank of the Pleistocene Tukosmeru volcano. The Yenkahe horst is located within the Siwi ring fracture, a 4-km-wide, horseshoe-shaped caldera associated with eruption of the andesitic Siwi pyroclastic sequence. Active tectonism along the Yenkahe horst accompanying eruptions has raised Port Resolution harbor more than 20 m during the past century.

Information Contacts: Geo-Hazards Division, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management, Private Mail Bag 9054, Lini Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu (URL: http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/, https://www.facebook.com/VanuatuGeohazardsObservatory/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); 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/); Justin Noonan (URL: https://www.justinnoonan.com/, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/justinnoonan_/); Doro Adventures (Twitter: https://twitter.com/DoroAdventures, URL: http://doroadventures.com/).


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

Cleveland

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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. 3320 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  Obituaries

Misc Reports

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

Additional Reports  False Reports