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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) Intermittent ash, gas-and-steam, and SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies during January 2018-December 2019

Erebus (Antarctica) Lava lakes persist through 2019

Sangay (Ecuador) Continuing ash emissions, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars through December 2019

Shishaldin (United States) Multiple lava flows, pyroclastic flows, lahars, and ashfall events during October 2019 through January 2020

Sangeang Api (Indonesia) Ash emissions and lava flow extrusion continue during May 2019 through January 2020



Krakatau (Indonesia) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.esdm.go.id/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Amber Madden-Nadeau, Oxford University (URL: https://www.earth.ox.ac.uk/people/amber-madden-nadeau/, https://twitter.com/AMaddenNadeau/status/1159458288406151169); Anna Perttu, Earth Observatory of Singapore (URL: https://earthobservatory.sg/people/anna-perttu); Simon Carn, Michigan Tech University (URL: https://www.mtu.edu/geo/department/faculty/carn/; https://twitter.com/simoncarn/status/1211793124089044994); VolcanoYT, Indonesia (URL: https://volcanoyt.com/, https://twitter.com/VolcanoYTz/status/1182882409445904386/photo/1; Christoph Sator (URL: https://twitter.com/ChristophSator/status/1184713192670281728/photo/1); Tom Pfeiffer, Volcano Discovery (URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/); Pascal Blondé, France (URL: https://pascal-blonde.info/portefolio-krakatau/, https://twitter.com/rajo_ameh/status/1199219837265960960); Alex Bogár, Budapest (URL: https://twitter.com/AlexEtna/status/1211396913699991557); Piotr (Piter) Smieszek, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia (URL: http://www.lombok.pl/, https://twitter.com/piotr_smieszek/status/1204545970962231296); Peter Rendezvous (URL: https://www.facebook.com/peter.rendezvous ); Wulkany swiata, Poland (URL: http://wulkanyswiata.blogspot.com/, https://twitter.com/Wulkany1/status/1214841708862693376).


Mayotte (France) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Mayotte

France

12.83°S, 45.17°E; summit elev. 660 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fernandina (Ecuador) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Fernandina

Ecuador

0.37°S, 91.55°W; summit elev. 1476 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fissure eruption produced lava flows during 12-13 January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Masaya (Nicaragua) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geologic Background. Masaya is one of Nicaragua's most unusual and most active volcanoes. It lies within the massive Pleistocene Las Sierras caldera and is itself a broad, 6 x 11 km basaltic caldera with steep-sided walls up to 300 m high. The caldera is filled on its NW end by more than a dozen vents that erupted along a circular, 4-km-diameter fracture system. The Nindirí and Masaya cones, the source of historical eruptions, were constructed at the southern end of the fracture system and contain multiple summit craters, including the currently active Santiago crater. A major basaltic Plinian tephra erupted from Masaya about 6,500 years ago. Historical lava flows cover much of the caldera floor and there is a lake at the far eastern end. A lava flow from the 1670 eruption overtopped the north caldera rim. Masaya has been frequently active since the time of the Spanish Conquistadors, when an active lava lake prompted attempts to extract the volcano's molten "gold." Periods of long-term vigorous gas emission at roughly quarter-century intervals have caused health hazards and crop damage.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua (URL: http://www.ineter.gob.ni/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); La Jornada (URL: https://www.lajornadanet.com/, article at https://www.lajornadanet.com/index.php/2019/10/16/volcan-masaya-expulsa-cenizas/#.Xl6f8ahKjct).


Reventador (Ecuador) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Reventador

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Radio La Voz del Santuario (URL: https://www.facebook.com/Radio-La-Voz-del-Santuario-126394484061111/, posted at: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2630739100293291&id=126394484061111); Martin Rietze, Taubenstr. 1, D-82223 Eichenau, Germany (URL: https://mrietze.com/, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5LzAA_nyNWEUfpcUFOCpJw/videos).


Pacaya (Guatemala) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kikai (Japan) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kikai

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Single explosion with steam and minor ash, 2 November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Nevado del Ruiz

Colombia

4.892°N, 75.324°W; summit elev. 5279 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash, gas-and-steam, and SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies during January 2018-December 2019

Nevado del Ruiz is a glaciated stratovolcano located in Colombia. It is most known for the eruption on 13 November 1985 that produced an ash plume and pyroclastic flows onto the glacier, triggering a lahar and killing approximately 25,000 people in the towns of Armero (46 km W) and Chinchiná (34 km E). Since the September 1985-July 1991 eruption, volcanism has occurred dominantly at the Arenas crater, with eruptive periods during February 2012-July 2013 and November 2014-May 2017 (BGVN 42:06 and 44:12). The previous eruption included ash and gas-and-steam plumes, ashfall, and thermal anomalies through May 2017, after which no clear observations of ongoing activity were available until an ash plume was seen in satellite and webcam images on 18 December 2017. This report provides data and observations from January 2018 through December 2019 using information primarily from reports by the Servicio Geologico Colombiano and the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales, the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) notices, and various satellite data.

Summary of activity during December 2017-December 2019. Although data is incomplete, the current eruptive period is considered to have begun with the emission of an ash plume on 18 December 2017. The Washington VAAC issued an advisory that day for an ash plume to 6 km that was moving west and dispersing, further describing it as a "thin veil of volcanic ash and gasses" that was seen in visible satellite imagery, NOAA/CIMSS, and supported by webcam imagery.

Reports of significant ash plumes visible in satellite imagery were infrequent in 2018 and 2019, with a few notable pulses in July 2018, February-March 2019, and August-September 2019 (figure 95). Sentinel-2 thermal satellite data in comparison with Suomi NPP/VIIRS sensor data, and the MODVOLC algorithm for MODIS data registered infrared thermal hotspots intermittently throughout 2018 to 2019 with more frequent anomalies during January-March 2018, August 2018, October 2018-February 2019, and November-December 2019; observations during March-June of each year were low. Identification of SO2 emissions were frequent and consistent during all of 2018-2019 (figure 96).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Timeline summary of observed activity at Nevado del Ruiz from January 2018 through December 2019. VAAC reports typically indicate a significant ash plume. Satellite-based SO2 data is variable with respect to volume of emitted gas, but reflects a point source at the volcano. For Sentinel-2, MODVOLC, and VIIRS data, the dates indicated represents detected thermal anomalies. White areas indicate no activity was observed, which may also be due to meteoric clouds. Data courtesy of Washington VAAC, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Sentinel Hub Playground, HIGP, and NASA Worldview using the "Fire and Thermal Anomalies" layer.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. Examples of SO2 plumes from Nevado del Ruiz detected by the Aura/OMI instrument during 12 May (top left), 7 October (top middle), and 29 November 2018 (top right) and 9 January (bottom left), 30 March (bottom middle), and 6 October 2019 (bottom right). Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows weak thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit occurring dominantly between October 2018 through March 2019 (figure 97). Between April and October 2019, the number of thermal anomalies was low, registering eight during this time. The number of thermal signatures increased at the beginning of November 2019 and continued through the rest of 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Weak thermal anomalies at Nevado del Ruiz for 25 September 2018 through December 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (log radiative power) occurred mostly during December 2018 through March 2019. Activity was low during April to October 2019 with renewed signatures in November 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Seismicity that occurred during 2018-2019 was located mainly in the Arenas crater and consisted of low-frequency (LF) and very low-frequency (VLF) earthquakes and volcanic tremors, many of which were associated with minor gas-and-steam and ash emissions confirmed through webcams. The number of earthquakes reported by SGC fluctuated each week, but the energy remained relatively consistent. The highest magnitude earthquake that occurred during 2018 was on 26 October reaching 3.1 ML (local magnitude) and during 2019 the largest was 2.8 ML on 21 April.

Activity during 2018. Throughout 2018, gas-and-steam plumes, mostly composed of water vapor and sulfur dioxide frequently occurred, rising to a maximum of 2.2 km above the Arenas crater on 24 March. Weak thermal anomalies were seen intermittently in thermal satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 and NASA Worldview during 4 January through March and September to December (figure 98). Activity during March to April 2018 was relatively low and consisted dominantly of gas-and-steam emissions, low-energy seismicity, and intermittent thermal anomalies. Between 9 May and 5 August, no thermal signatures were detected.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery detected thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) within the Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz that were mostly visible during the beginning and last months of 2018. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Ash plumes were seen in GOES-EAST satellite imagery, through webcams, and by SGC personnel. The first ash plume of 2018 occurred on 21 April at 0800, six days after NASA Worldview detected a thermal anomaly within the Arenas crater. The plume rose 6 km altitude and drifted NW as seen in GOES-EAST satellite imagery and reported by the Washington VAAC. Weak gas-and-steam and ash emissions were confirmed by webcams on 22 July, associated with a volcanic tremor. On 11 August 2018, another ash plume was reported in a VAAC notice rising 6.7 km altitude drifting W. During the week of 21 August, SGC reported that seismicity in the Arenas crater was associated with minor gas-and-steam and ash emissions, as confirmed by webcams.

The number of ash plumes increased during September (figure 99), one of which reached a maximum altitude of 7.3 km on 2 September. On 5 September, a continuous volcanic tremor occurred and was accompanied by an ash plume rising 7 km altitude drifting W, according to a Washington VAAC report. Ashfall was observed during the week of 11 September in Manizales (30 km NW) and Villamaría (27 km NW). A new volcanic tremor occurred on 15 September and was accompanied by various ash emissions reaching 1.4 km above the crater and drifting NW as confirmed by PNNN, inhabitants within the vicinity of the volcano, and the Washington VAAC. Seismicity continuing into the weeks of 25 September and 2 October was also accompanied by ash emissions, rising to an altitude of 1.4 km above the crater on 22 September. The number of reported gas-and-steam and ash emissions decreased after September; ash emissions were reported by SGC on 19, 22, 26, and 31 October, 6, 9, and 17 November, and 14 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. Webcam images of gas-and-steam and ash plumes rising from Nevado del Ruiz during 2018. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano.

Activity during 2019. Gas-and-steam and ash emissions continued intermittently through 2019, with an increased number of ash emissions compared to the previous year. Infrared hotspots were detected in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery primarily during January-February 2019 and December 2019, often accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions (figure 100). An ash plume was seen in GOES-EAST satellite imagery on 2 January 2019, rising to an altitude of 5.8 km and drifting NW, according to a Washington VAAC report. On 7 January, ashfall in Manizales and Villamaría was observed. A thermal hotspot was detected in multispectral imagery, according to a Washington VAAC report on 29 January. Slight ground deformation was observed by GNSS and electronic inclinometers during the weeks of 29 January and 10 September. Volcanism was relatively low during February to March and consisted of mostly gas-and-steam emissions and rare ash plumes; these ash emissions were reported on 2 and 9 February and 16 March by the Washington VAAC rising between 5.8-6.7 km altitude. Gas-and-steam emission were detected on 6 and 17 February and 17 and 21 March.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery detected thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) mostly visible within the Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz during the last three months of 2019 and were accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The number of ash emissions detected in satellite imagery increased after March, occurring on 4, 7, 16, 17-19, and 23-26 April and 2 and 4-5 May. Ash plumes were detected on 27 June, 4, 7, 8, and 29 July, 1 August, and on 19, 29, and 30 September. Los Nevados National Natural Park (PNNN) personnel reported that the ash plume on 8 July was accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions and a continuous tremor occurring at 0722 (figure 101). These emissions rose 450 m above the crater and drifted W. On 29 September, a tremor associated with an ash plume occurred at 2353. The ash plume rose to a maximum altitude of 8.5 km drifted NW, resulting in ashfall confirmed by PNNN, GOES-EAST satellite imagery, and SGC personnel in the field.

Seismicity increased during the week of 1 October compared to the previous week, which was accompanied by several gas-and-steam and ash emissions rising 1 km altitude drifting NW observed by webcams, PNNN personnel, and GOES-EAST satellite imagery. An ash plume rising 7 km altitude drifting NW on 4 October resulted in fine ashfall in Manizales. Ash plumes rose to an altitude of 7.3 km drifting N on 5, 9, and 16 October and was seen in the GOES-EAST satellite according to Washington VAAC notices. Ash emissions were observed frequently during November; 11 Washington VAAC notices, the most for any month during 2019, reported emissions ranging 5.8 to 7 km altitude drifting in different directions. Gas-and-steam plumes rose to a maximum of 2.4 km above the crater during 14 and 30 November. The number of reported emissions decreased during December with one ash emission observed on 4 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. Webcam images of gas-and-steam and ash plumes rising from Nevado del Ruiz during 2019. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano.

Geologic Background. Nevado del Ruiz is a broad, glacier-covered volcano in central Colombia that covers more than 200 km2. Three major edifices, composed of andesitic and dacitic lavas and andesitic pyroclastics, have been constructed since the beginning of the Pleistocene. The modern cone consists of a broad cluster of lava domes built within the caldera of an older edifice. The 1-km-wide, 240-m-deep Arenas crater occupies the summit. The prominent La Olleta pyroclastic cone located on the SW flank may also have been active in historical time. Steep headwalls of massive landslides cut the flanks. Melting of its summit icecap during historical eruptions, which date back to the 16th century, has resulted in devastating lahars, including one in 1985 that was South America's deadliest eruption.

Information Contacts: Servicio Geologico Colombiano (SGC), Diagonal 53 No. 34-53 - Bogotá D.C., Colombia (URL: https://www2.sgc.gov.co/volcanes/index.html); 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); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/).


Erebus (Antarctica) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Erebus

Antarctica

77.53°S, 167.17°E; summit elev. 3794 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lakes persist through 2019

Erebus, the world's southernmost historically active volcano, overlooks the McMurdo research station on Antarctica's Ross Island, 35 km SSW. Because of the remoteness of the volcano, activity is primarily monitored using satellites (figure 27), including MODIS infrared detectors aboard the Aqua and Terra satellites and analyzed using the MODVOLC algorithm.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Satellite image of Erebus (on left) acquired on 19 October 2019 by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA's Terra satellite. The false-color combines visible and near-infrared wavelengths of light (ASTER bands 3, 2, 1). The area was just days away from constant 24-hour sunlight when this image was acquired, with the Sun angle low enough to cast a long shadow towards the west. The blue patches are areas clear of surface snow, exposing glacial ice. Nearby areas that appear smooth are the snow- and ice-topped waters of McMurdo Sound. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory: image by Joshua Stevens, using data from NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team; description by Kathryn Hansen.

Available since 2000, MODIS-MODVOLC data have shown a strong and nearly continuous thermal signal through 2019. A compilation of thermal alert pixels during 2017-2019 (table 5, continuing the table in BGVN 44:01) shows a wide range of detected activity in 2019, with a high of 162 in April. Infrared satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 identified one or two lava lakes during January-March and September-December 2019; a few of the images showed gas emissions, possibly from melted snow (figure 28).

Table 5. Number of monthly MODVOLC thermal alert pixels recorded at Erebus from 1 January 2017 to 31 December. Table compiled using data provided by the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System.

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec SUM
2017 0 21 9 0 0 1 11 61 76 52 0 3 234
2018 0 21 58 182 55 17 137 172 103 29 0 0 774
2019 2 21 162 151 55 56 75 53 29 19 1 0 624
Figure (see Caption) Figures 28. Sentinel-2 satellite image of Erebus in color infrared (bands 8, 4, 3) on 20 October 2019 showing two lava lakes in the summit crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Mount Erebus, the world's southernmost historically active volcano, overlooks the McMurdo research station on Ross Island. It is the largest of three major volcanoes forming the crudely triangular Ross Island. The summit of the dominantly phonolitic volcano has been modified by one or two generations of caldera formation. A summit plateau at about 3,200 m elevation marks the rim of the youngest caldera, which formed during the late-Pleistocene and within which the modern cone was constructed. An elliptical 500 x 600 m wide, 110-m-deep crater truncates the summit and contains an active lava lake within a 250-m-wide, 100-m-deep inner crater; other lava lakes are sometimes present. The glacier-covered volcano was erupting when first sighted by Captain James Ross in 1841. Continuous lava-lake activity with minor explosions, punctuated by occasional larger Strombolian explosions that eject bombs onto the crater rim, has been documented since 1972, but has probably been occurring for much of the volcano's recent history.

Information Contacts: 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 Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/).


Sangay (Ecuador) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Sangay

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuing ash emissions, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars through December 2019

Frequent activity at Ecuador's Sangay has included pyroclastic flows, lava flows, ash plumes, and lahars since 1628. Its remoteness on the east side of the Andean crest has made ground observations difficult until recent times. The current eruption began in March 2019; this report covers ongoing activity from July through December 2019. Information is provided by Ecuador's Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), and a number of sources of remote data including the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), the Italian MIROVA Volcano HotSpot Detection System, and Sentinel-2 satellite imagery.

The eruption that began in March 2019 continued during July-December 2019 with activity focused on two eruptive centers at the summit, the Cráter Central and the Ñuñurco (southeast) vent. The Cráter Central produced explosive activity which generated small ash emissions that rose up to 3.2 km above the crater and were frequently directed towards the W and SW. Associated with these emissions in early November, ashfall was reported in Chimborazo province and elsewhere, and ejecta from explosions was deposited on all the upper flanks. At the Ñuñurcu vent, effusive activity resulted in an almost continuous emission of material down the SE flank. Small rockfalls and pyroclastic flows along the fronts and sides of the flows reached the basin and upper channel of the Volcán river which flows into the Upano river. These deposits were remobilized by rainfall and formed mud and debris flows (lahars) in the Volcán river, which caused damming at the confluence with the Upano river downstream. Increased thermal activity was recorded by the MIROVA system from mid-May 2019 through the end of the year, corresponding to the ongoing lava flow and explosive activity (figure 36).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Increased heat flow at Sangay was recorded beginning in mid-May 2019 and continued steadily through the end of the year as seen in this graph of Log Radiative Power produced by the MIROVA project. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during July-September 2019. Several ash emissions were reported by the Washington VAAC during the first part of July 2019. On 1 July a plume rose to 6.7 km altitude and extended 45 km WSW from the summit. During 3-4 July a plume rose 6.4 km and drifted WNW; it included occasional discrete emissions that extended approximately 35 km from summit. The VAAC recorded a bright hotspot in SWIR imagery on 4 July. On 11 July a 7.3-km-altitude ash plume detached from the summit and extended from immediately W of the summit S past Segu. Webcam and satellite imagery on 11 July demonstrated the continuing thermal activity of the lava flow on the SE flank and ash emissions drifting W (figure 37). On 29 July a plume rose to 7.6 km altitude and drifted 65 km WSW. Later in the day continuous emissions were drifting SW from the summit at 5.8 km altitude before dissipating. The first satellite images of 30 July showed a plume extending 110 km WSW from the summit at 7 km altitude. Activity decreased later in the day and the plume extended W about 45 km from the summit at 6.4 km altitude. Composite satellite imagery on 31 July showed almost constant ash emissions extending over 150 km W of the summit (figure 38).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. The local webcam at Sangay (left) and Sentinel satellite imagery (right, bands 12, 11, and 8A) both confirmed the high heat output from the active lava flow on the SE flank on 11 July 2019. The flow is about 2 km long. A plume of steam and ash also drifted W from the summit (right). Courtesy of IG-EPN (left) and Sentinel Hub Playground (right).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. An ash emission from Sangay on 29 July 2019 drifted tens of km WSW as seen in the webcam (left). Two days later on 31 July a small dark ash plume was visible above the dense cloud cover in Sentinel satellite imagery; the VAAC reported ash drifting W throughout the day. Courtesy of IG-EPN (left) and Sentinel Hub Playground (right).

During an overflight on 6 August 2019 scientists from IG-EPN observed ash emissions from the Cráter Central, and the lava flow continuing from the Vento Ñuñurco in a similar location to where it was in May 2019 (figure 39). Light-colored sediments filled much of the upper basin of the Volcán river. Thermal images of the area also showed that some of the deposits were elevated in temperature, even in the riverbed (figure 40).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. The E and SE flanks of Sangay showed continuing activity during August 2019 (right) that was similar to activity going on during May (left). In May, steam issued from the Cráter Central and a lava flow descended the SE flank from Vento Ñuñurco (photo by M. Almeida, IG-EPN). In August, diffuse ash and steam issued from the Crater Central, and a new flow descended from the same area of the Vento Ñuñurco seen in May (photo by P. Ramón , IG-EPN). Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 5, Quito, 13 de noviembre del 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. The upper Volcán River basin was filled with deposits of pyroclastic material associated with the most recent activity at Sangay when observed during an overflight on 6 August 2019 (left). Thermal analysis of the drainage indicated that several of the deposits were still hot, as was the active flow (right). Left photo by P. Ramón, thermal image by Silvia Vallejo; courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 5, Quito, 13 de noviembre del 2019).

Frequent ash emissions continued during August 2019. Diffuse ash was seen moving W from the summit at 5.8 km altitude on 1 August. Another short-lived plume was observed extending 15 km WSW the next day at 5.8-6.1 km altitude. Continuous ash emissions were visible in satellite imagery extending 35 km SW from the summit at 6.1 km altitude on 5 August. During the next two days, the emissions extended 45 km WSW and a prominent hot spot was visible through the meteoric clouds. The ash plume altitude rose to 6.7 km on 8 August and a larger ash emission extended more than 100 km WSW. A new emission the next day drifted 25-35 km W at 6.1 km altitude. A well-defined hotspot seen in shortwave imagery on 10 August accompanied an ash emission that extended 35 km WSW from the summit at 6.7 km altitude. On 12 August a plume drifted 65 km due W at 6.4 km altitude; emissions continued the next day in the same direction at 6.1 km altitude. An ash plume extended 100 km WNW of the summit at 5.8 km altitude on 18 August. A very bright hotspot was observed in infrared imagery the next day. The ash emissions continued to be visible in satellite imagery through 20 August.

An ash plume extending 10 km N from the summit on 25 August coincided with the appearance of a vivid hot spot, according to the Washington VAAC. The plume was initially reported at 7.6 km altitude and later in the day was at 6.7 km altitude. The leading edge of an ash emission reported on 31 August was 350 km W of the summit late that day moving at 5.8 km altitude, and over 950 km WSW before it dissipated on 1 September. Fewer ash emissions were reported during September 2019. The leading edge of a plume extended about 160 km W from the summit on 2 September at 7.6 km altitude; a second emission that day moved NE at 6.4 km altitude. On 4 September a small emission rose to 6.4 km altitude and drifted SW; on 9 September a plume was observed moving W at 5.5 km. A new emission on 19 September was seen in satellite imagery moving in many different directions (N, NE, E, and SE) at 6.7 km altitude. The lava flow on the SE flank produced a strong thermal signature that appeared unchanged from late August through late September (figure 41).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. The thermal signature from the lava flow on the SE flank of Sangay appeared unchanged from late August (top left) to late September 2019 (bottom right) in Sentinel-2 imagery (bands 12, 11, and 8A); an ash emission drifted in multiple directions on 19 September 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground and IG-EPN.

Activity during October-December 2019. Pulses of ash were reported during 1, 9-11, 14, 26, and 31 October 2019 by the Washington VAAC. On 1 October the plume rose to 5.8 km altitude and drifted NE. A narrow plume on 9 October extending 55 km NW corresponded with a bright hotspot at its source. Concentrated emissions the next day rose to 7.3 km altitude and extended over 200 km WNW. Later in the day on 10 October emissions were reported at 5.8 km drifting W. A substantial thermal anomaly and a constant plume of diffuse ash appeared in satellite imagery on 14 October at 6.1 km altitude drifting 15 km W. Diffuse emissions on 26 October appeared 35 km NW of the summit at 5.8 km altitude. The intensity of the thermal anomaly from the lava flow on the SE flank remained strong during the month, and emissions of steam and ash were also visible in satellite images (figure 42). In a site visit on 19 October 2019, IG-EPN scientists measured a recent lahar deposited near the confluence of the Volcán and Upano rivers. It was full of sand-sized particles and approximately 30 cm thick at the river’s edge (figure 43).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. The thermal anomaly from the lava flow on the SE flank of Sangay remained strong during October 2019, and both ash and steam emissions were seen in Sentinel-2 satellite images (bands 12, 11, and 8A). The lava flow is about 2 km long. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. A lahar deposit at the confluence of Río Volcán and Río Upano at Sangay was about 30 cm thick on 19 October 2019. Photograph by Francisco Vasconez, courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 5, Quito, 13 de noviembre del 2019).

Ash emissions during 10-26 November 2019 were reported daily by the Washington VAAC, each lasting for less than 24 hours before dissipating. The first report of ash detected in satellite imagery on 10 November indicated that the plume extended 25 km WSW at 6.7 km altitude. On the subsequent days, the plumes drifted in many different directions at altitudes of 5.8-7.3 km, usually around 6.4 km. The plumes generally drifted 25-45 km from the summit, although some were still visible over 100 km away, depending on weather conditions. The highest plume reached 7.3 km altitude on 18 November and drifted W. The plume on 26 November rose to 6.4 km altitude and was last seen 140 km SW of the summit before it dissipated. Pyroclastic flows were witnessed on 20 November 2019 (figure 44). The last plume of the month, on 29 November, rose to 6.4 km altitude and drifted 65 km W, dissipating quickly, and was accompanied by a very bright thermal anomaly.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Ash plumes from Sangay rose to 5.8 km altitude on 20 November 2019 and drifted 25 km NE before dissipating, according to the Washington VAAC. Pyroclastic flows appeared on the flank that day. Courtesy of Walter Calle C.

Ashfall was reported during November in the provinces of Chimborazo (Alao, 20 km NW, Cebadas, 35 km NW, and Guaguallá), Morona Santiago (Macas, 40 km SE), and Azuay (120 km SW). Samples of ash collected from two locations indicated that the amount of material was very small (less than10 g/m2) with a high content of extremely fine ash (between 40 and 60% ash less 63 μm in diameter). The larger fraction over 63 μm was mainly composed of juvenile magma (80%) and a small fraction of free crystals (10% plagioclase and pyroxenes), oxidized fragments (5%), and gray lithics (5%) (figure 45).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Photos from a binocular microscope of the greater than 63 μm fraction of ash from Sangay collected in Macas and at the SAGA station during November 2019. See text for details. Courtesy if IG (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 6, 4 de diciembre del 2019).

In a report issued in early December 2019 the IG-EPN noted that eruptive activity which increased in May 2019 was continuing (figure 46); a small amount of inflation was observed during November. Explosive activity continued at the Cráter Central with ash plumes reaching 2 km above the summit, and plumes drifting frequently towards the NE causing small amounts of ash to fall in the Chimborazo, Morona Santiago, and Azuay provinces. Effusive activity from the Ñuñurco vent produced almost continuous lava that flowed down the SE flank. Small pyroclastic flows around the margins of the lava flows reached the basin and the upper channel of the Volcán river, causing temporary dams that turned to mudflows during rain events.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. IG-EPN published this multi-parameter chart of activity of the Sangay volcano from May to 1 December 2019. a: seismic activity (number of events per day) detected at the PUYO station (source: IG-EPN); b: SO2 emissions (tons per day) detected by the Sentinel-5P satellite sensor (source: MOUNTS); c: height of ash clouds (m above crater level) detected by the GOES-16 satellite sensor (source: Washington VAAC); d: thermal emission power (megawatt) detected by the MODIS satellite sensor (source: MODVOLC) and estimated accumulated lava volume (million m3, dotted lines represent the error range). Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 6, 4 de diciembre del 2019).

During an overflight on 3 December 2019 a strong smell of sulfur was noted 1 km above the summit. The Ñuñurco vent continued to emit lava with a maximum apparent temperature of 100 to 210°C (figure 47). IG-EPN scientists concluded that approximately 58 ± 29 million m3 of lava had been emitted through 3 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Views of the SE flank of Sangay on 3 December 2019 with visible (left) and thermal (right) imagery. Photograph by C. Viracucha, thermal analysis by F. Naranjo; courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 6, 4 de diciembre del 2019).

Recurring lahars in the Río Volcán during the period occasionally reached the Rio Upano (figure 48). By late November, they had partially dammed the Upano river (figure 49). On 26 November 2019 when IG-EPN and Sangay National Park officials inspected the area, they recorded deposits more than 2 m thick at the confluence of the two rivers (figure 50). During an overflight the next day, additional deposits were identified along 16 km upstream. The total volume of the lahar deposits was estimated at 5 million m3 to date.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Inferred lahar deposits at Sangay along the Río Volcán from the foot of the volcano up to its confluence with Río Upano shown in red. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 6, 4 de diciembre del 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Lahar deposits at Sangay filled Río Volcán and dammed part of the confluence where it joins río Upano when photographed during an overflight on 26 November 2019. Photographs by Pedro Espín; courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 6, 4 de diciembre del 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Lahar deposits from Sangay exceeded 2 m in thickness at the confluence of the Upano and Volcán rivers on 26 November 2019. Photography by Pedro Espín; courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Especial del Volcán Sangay - 2019 - No 6, 4 de diciembre del 2019).

Another extended period of ash emissions began on 4 December 2019 and continued daily through 19 December. The Washington VAAC reported that an ash plume was initially at 6.7 km altitude drifting S on 4 December. Continuous emissions were observed at 4.6 km altitude later in the day and were visible in satellite images located 25 km S at 5.8 km altitude that evening. The drift directions were initially mostly SW in early December, but migrated to mostly SE during 10-16 December, then back to SW. Plume altitudes ranged from 5.8 to 7.3 km and satellite images revealed ash as far as 160 km away; most plumes were visible to about 25 km before dissipating or disappearing into meteoric clouds. IG-EPN reported steam and gas emissions with small amounts of ash on 13 December that drifted SE (figure 51). Small block avalanches from the active flow were also observed on the SE flank. The next day, ash and gas emissions rose to 1,170 m above the summit and drifted NE while the lava flow appeared incandescent on the SE flank.

During the night of 14-15 December ashfall was reported in San Isidro in the Province of Morona Santiago (30 km SE). Ash plumes rose 870 m above the summit on 15 December and 1,470 m high the next day. Ashfall was reported in the Guasuntos (60 km SW) and Llagos (80 km SW) areas of the Chimborazo province on the morning of 16 December. The next day plumes drifted SE and SW, and minor ashfall was reported that night (16-17 December) in Macas (40 km SE), Morona Santiago province. Satellite images captured gas and ash emissions on 25 December, and ashfall was reported in Alausí (60 km SW) in the province of Chimborazo. An explosion on 29 December produced an ash plume that rose to 6.1 km and first drifted WNW then in an arc to the SW almost 185 km to the coast. Multiple plumes at 5.8-6.7 km drifted westerly for tens of kilometers that day and the next. Prominent thermal anomalies were noted in satellite imagery on 8, 15, 17, and 30 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Numerous explosions produced ash emissions from Sangay during 4-30 December 2019, shown here on days 13, 14, 16, and 25. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Informe Diario del Estado del Volcán Sangay No. 2019-1, 13 Diciembre; No. 2019-2, 14 Diciembre; No. 2019-5, 17 Diciembre; No. 2019-13, 25 Diciembre 2019).

By late December 2019, the lahar deposits in Rio Volcán had backed up noticeably further into the Upano river from a month earlier (figure 52). Sulfur dioxide emissions were not recorded during July through August 2019, but small, pulsing plumes were captured in satellite images during September, October and November, gradually increasing in density. Several plumes were detected hundreds of kilometers from the volcano before dissipating; by December, larger, more frequent pulses of SO2 were measured during many days when ash emissions were reported (figure 53).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Lahar deposits from Sangay in the Rio Volcán (right) continued to dam up the Rio Upano into late December 2019. Compare with figure 49 taken one month earlier. Photo by WJ Hernandes, courtesy of Edgar Chulde, posted online 21 December 2019.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Sulfur dioxide emissions from Sangay were weak but persistent during September-November 2019 (top row), often drifting in narrow plumes with distinct pulses. During December, the density of the SO2 emissions increased noticeably (bottom row). Columbia’s Nevado del Ruiz was also producing plumes of SO2 at the same time. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Walter Calle C., Macas, Ecuador (Twitter: @walterc333; URL: https://twitter.com/walterc333/status/1197273200822046720); Edgar Chulde, Quito, Ecuador (Twitter: @EdgarChulde2; URL: https://twitter.com/EdgarChulde2/status/1208547471024173056).


Shishaldin (United States) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Shishaldin

United States

54.756°N, 163.97°W; summit elev. 2857 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Multiple lava flows, pyroclastic flows, lahars, and ashfall events during October 2019 through January 2020

Shishaldin is located near the center of Unimak Island in Alaska and has been frequently active in recent times. Activity includes steam plumes, ash plumes, lava flows, lava fountaining, pyroclastic flows, and lahars. The current eruption phase began on 23 July 2019 and through September included lava fountaining, explosions, and a lava lake in the summit crater. Continuing activity during October 2019 through January 2020 is described in this report based largely on Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) reports, photographs, and satellite data.

Minor steam emissions were observed on 30 September 2019, but no activity was observed through the following week. Activity at that time was slightly above background levels with the Volcano Alert Level at Advisory and the Aviation Color Code at Yellow (figure 17). In the first few days of October weak tremor continued but no eruptive activity was observed. Weakly elevated temperatures were noted in clear satellite images during 4-9 October and weak tremor continued. Elevated temperatures were recorded again on the 14th with low-level tremor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Alaska Volcano Observatory hazard status definitions for Aviation Color Codes and Volcanic Activity Alert Levels used for Shishaldin and other volcanoes in Alaska. Courtesy of AVO.

New lava extrusion was observed on 13 October, prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Color Code to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level to Watch. Elevated surface temperatures were detected by satellite during the 13th and 17-20th, and a steam plume was observed on the 19th. A change from small explosions to continuous tremor that morning suggested a change in eruptive behavior. Low-level Strombolian activity was observed during 21-22 October, accompanied by a persistent steam plume. Lava had filled the crater by the 23rd and began to overflow at two places. One lava flow to the north reached a distance of 200 m on the 24th and melted snow to form a 2.9-km-long lahar down the N flank. The second smaller lava flow resulted in a 1-km-long lahar down the NE flank. Additional snowmelt was produced by spatter accumulating around the crater rim. By 25 October the northern flow reached 800 m, there was minor explosive activity with periodic lava fountaining, and lahar deposits reached 3 km to the NW with shorter lahars to the N and E (figure 18). Trace amounts of ashfall extended at least 8.5 km SE. There was a pause in activity on the 29th, but beginning at 1839 on the 31st seismic and infrasound monitoring detected multiple small explosions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. PlanetScope satellite images of Shishaldin on 3 and 29 October 2019 show the summit crater and N flank before and after emplacement of lava flows, lahars, and ashfall. Copyright PlanetLabs 2019.

Elevated activity continued through November with multiple lava flows on the northern flanks (figure 19). By 1 November the two lava flows had stalled after extending 1.8 km down the NW flank. Lahars had reached at least 4 km NW and trace amounts of ash were deposited on the north flank. Elevated seismicity on 2 November indicated that lava was likely flowing beyond the summit crater, supported by a local pilot observation. The next day an active lava flow moved 400 m down the NW flank while a smaller flow was active SE of the summit. Minor explosive activity and/or lava fountaining at the summit was indicated by incandescence during the night. Small explosions were recorded in seismic and infrasound data. On 5 November the longer lava flow had developed two lobes, reaching 1 km in length. The lahars had also increased in length, reaching 2 km on the N and S flanks. Incandescence continued and hot spatter was accumulating around the summit vent. Activity continued, other than a 10-hour pause on 4-5 November, and another pause on the 7th. The lava flow length had reached 1.3 km on the 8th and lahar deposits reached 5 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images show multiple lava flows (orange) on the upper northern flanks of Shishaldin between 1 November and 1 December 2019. Blue is snow and ice in these images, and partial cloud cover is visible in all of them. Sentinel-2 Urban rendering (bands 21, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

After variable levels of activity for a few days, there was a significant increase on 10-11 November with lava fountaining through the evening and night. This was accompanied by minor to moderate ash emissions up to around 3.7 km altitude and drifting northwards, and a significant increase in seismicity. Activity decreased again during the 11-12th while minor steam and ash emissions continued. On 14 November minor ash plumes were visible on the flanks, likely caused by the collapse of accumulated spatter. By 15 November a large network of debris flows consisting of snowmelt and fresh deposits extended 5.5 km NE and the collapse of spatter mounds continued. Ashfall from ash plumes reaching as high as 3.7 km altitude produced thin deposits to the NE, S, and SE. Activity paused during the 17-18th and resumed again on the 19th; intermittent clear views showed either a lava flow or lahar descending the SE flank. Activity sharply declined at 0340 on the 20th.

Seismicity began increasing again on 24 November and small explosions were detected on the 23rd. A small collapse of spatter that had accumulated at the summit occurred at 2330 on the 24th, producing a pyroclastic flow that reached 3 km in length down the NW flank. A new lava flow had also reached several hundred meters down the same flank. Variable but elevated activity continued over 27 November into early December, with a 1.5-km-long lava flow observed in satellite imagery acquired on the 1st. On 5 December minor steam or ash emissions were observed at the summit and on the north flank, and Strombolian explosions were detected. Activity from that day produced fresh ash deposits on the northern side of the volcano and a new lava flow extended 1.4 km down the NW flank. Three small explosions were detected on the 11th.

At 0710 on 12 December a 3-minute-long explosion produced an ash plume up to 6-7.6 km altitude that dispersed predominantly towards the W to NW and three lightning strokes were detected. Ash samples were collected on the SE flank by AVO field crews on 20 December and analysis showed variable crystal contents in a glassy matrix (figure 20). A new ash deposit was emplaced out to 10 km SE, and a 3.5-km-long pyroclastic flow had been emplaced to the north, containing blocks as large as 3 m in diameter. The pyroclastic flow was likely a result from collapse of the summit spatter cone and lava flows. A new narrow lava flow had reached 3 km to the NW and lahars continued out to the northern coast of Unimak island (figure 21). The incandescent lava flow was visible from Cold Bay on the evening of the 12th and a thick steam plume continued through the next day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. An example of a volcanic ash grain that was erupted at Shishaldin on 12 December 2019 and collected on the SE flank by the Alaska Volcano Observatory staff. This Scanning Electron Microscope images shows the different crystals represented by different colors: dark gray crystals are plagioclase, the light gray crystals are olivine, and the white ones are Fe-Ti oxides. The groundmass in this grain is nearly completely crystallized. Courtesy of AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. A WorldView-2 satellite image of Shishaldin with the summit vent and eruption deposits on 12 December 2019. The tephra deposit extends around 10 km SE, a new lava flow reaching 3 km NW with lahars continuing to the N coast of Unimak island. Pyroclastic flow deposits reach 3.5 km to the N and contain blocks as large as 3 m. Courtesy of Hannah Dietterich, AVO.

A new lava flow was reported by a pilot on the night of 16 December. Thermal satellite data showed that this flow reached 2 km to the NW. High-resolution radar satellite images over the 15-17th showed that the lava flow had advanced out to 2.5 km and had developed levees along the margins (figure 22). The lava channel was 5-15 m wide and was originating from a crater at the base of the summit scoria cone, which had been rebuilt since the collapse the previous week. Minor ash emissions drifted to the south on the 19tt and 20th (figure 23).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. TerraSAR-X radar satellite images of Shishaldin on 15 and 17 December 2019 show the new lava flow on the NW flank and growth of a scoria cone at the summit. The lava flow had reached around 2.5 km at this point and was 5-15 m wide with levees visible along the flow margins. Pyroclastic flow deposits from a scoria cone collapse event on 12 December are on the N flank. Figure courtesy of Simon Plank (German Aerospace Center, DLR) and Hannah Dietterich (AVO).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Geologist Janet Schaefer (AVO/DGGS) collects ash samples within ice and snow on the southern flanks of Shishaldin on 20 December 2019. A weak ash plume is rising from the summit crater. Photo courtesy of Wyatt Mayo, AVO.

On 21 December a new lava flow commenced, traveling down the northern slope and accompanied by minor ash emissions. Continued lava extrusion was indicated by thermal data on the 25th and two lava flows reaching 1.5 km and 100 m were observed in satellite data on the 26th, as well as ash deposits on the upper flanks (figure 24). Weak explosions were detected by the regional infrasound network the following day. A satellite image acquired on the 30th showed a thick steam plume obscuring the summit and snow cover on the flanks indicating a pause in ash emissions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. This 26 December 2019 WorldView-2 satellite image with a close-up of the Shishaldin summit area to the right shows a lava flow extending nearly 1.5 km down the NW flank and a smaller 100-m-long lava flow to the NE. Volcanic ash was deposited around the summit, coating snow and ice. Courtesy of Matt Loewen, AVO.

In early January satellite data indicated slow lava extrusion or cooling lava flows (or both) near the summit. On the morning of the 3rd an ash plume rose to 6-7 km altitude and drifted 120 km E to SE, producing minor amounts of volcanic lightning. Elevated surface temperatures the previous week indicated continued lava extrusion. A satellite image acquired on 3 January showed lava flows extending to 1.6 km NW, pyroclastic flows moving 2.6 km down the western and southern flanks, and ashfall on the flanks (figure 25).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. This WorldView-2 multispectral satellite image of Shishaldin, acquired on 3 January 2019, shows the lava flows reaching 1.6 km down the NW flank and an ash plume erupting from the summit dispersing to the SE. Ash deposits cover snow on the flanks. Courtesy of Hannah Dietterich, AVO.

On 7 January the most sustained explosive episode for this eruption period occurred. An ash plume rose to 7 km altitude at 0500 and drifted east to northeast then intensified reaching 7.6 km altitude with increased ash content, prompting an increase of the Aviation Color Code to Red and Volcano Alert Level to Warning. The plume traveled over 200 km to the E to NE (figure 26). Lava flows were produced on the northern flanks and trace amounts of ashfall was reported in communities to the NE, resulting in several flight cancellations. Thermal satellite images showed active lava flows extruding from the summit vent (figure 27). Seismicity significantly decreased around 1200 and the alert levels were lowered to Orange and Watch that evening. Through the following week no notable eruptive activity occurred. An intermittent steam plume was observed in webcam views.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. This Landsat 8 satellite image shows a detached ash plume drifts to the NE from an explosive eruption at Shishaldin on 7 January 2020. Courtesy of Chris Waythomas, AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. This 7 January 2019 Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image shows several lava flows on the NE and NW flanks of Shishaldin, as well as a steam plume from the summit dispersing to the NE. Blue is snow and ice in this false color image (bands 12, 11, 4). Courtesy of Sentinel-Hub playground.

Eruptive activity resumed on 18 January with lava flows traveling 2 km down the NE flank accompanied by a weak plume with possible ash content dispersing to the SW (figure 28). A steam plume was produced at the front of the lava flow and lahar deposits continued to the north (figures 29 to 32). Activity intensified from 0030 on the 19th, generating a more ash-rich plume that extended over 150 km E and SE and reached up to 6 km altitude; activity increased again at around 1500 with ash emissions reaching 9 km altitude. AVO increased the alert levels to Red/Warning. Lava flows traveled down the NE and N flanks producing meltwater lahars, accompanied by elevated seismicity (figures 33). Activity continued through the day and trace amounts of ashfall were reported in False Pass (figure 34). Activity declined to small explosions over the next few days and the alert levels were lowered to Orange/watch shortly after midnight. The next morning weak steam emissions were observed at the summit and there was a thin ash deposit across the entire area. Satellite data acquired on 23 January showed pyroclastic flow deposits and cooling lava flows on the northern flank, and meltwater reaching the northern coast (figure 35).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. This Worldview-3 multispectral near-infrared satellite image acquired on 18 January 2020 shows a lava flow down the NE flank of Shishaldin. A steam plume rises from the end of the flow and lahar deposits from snowmelt travel further north. Courtesy of Matt Loewen, AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Steam plumes from the summit of Shishaldin and from the lava flow down the NE flank on 18 January 2020. Lahar deposits extend from the lava flow front and towards the north. Photo courtesy of Matt Brekke, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. A lava flow traveling down the NE flank of Shishaldin on 18 January 2020, seen from Cold Bay. Photo courtesy of Aaron Merculief, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Two plumes rise from Shishaldin on 18 January 2020, one from the summit crater and the other from the lava flow descending the NE Flank. Photos courtesy of Woodsen Saunders, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. A low-altitude plume from Shishaldin on the evening of 18 January 2020, seen from King Cove. Photo courtesy of Savannah Yatchmeneff, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. This WorldView-2 near-infrared satellite image shows a lava flow reaching 1.8 km down the N flank and lahar deposits filling drainages out to the Bering Sea coast (not shown here) on 19 January 2020. Ash deposits coat snow to the NE and E. Courtesy of Matt Loewen, AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. An ash plume (top) and gas-and-steam plumes (bottom) at Shishaldin on 19 January 2020. Courtesy of Matt Brekke, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. A Landsat 8 thermal satellite image (band 11) acquired on 23 January 2019 showing hot lava flows and pyroclastic flow deposits on the flanks of Shishaldin and the meltwater flow path to the Bering Sea. Figure courtesy of Christ Waythomas, AVO.

Activity remained low in late January with some ash resuspension (due to winds) near the summit and continued elevated temperatures. Seismicity remained above background levels. Infrasound data indicated minor explosive activity during 22-23 January and small steam plumes were visible on 22, 23, and 26 January. MIROVA thermal data showed the rapid reduction in activity following activity in late-January (figure 36).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. MIROVA thermal data showing increased activity at Shishaldin during August-September, and an even higher thermal output during late-October 2019 to late January 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. The beautifully symmetrical Shishaldin is the highest and one of the most active volcanoes of the Aleutian Islands. The glacier-covered volcano is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes along an E-W line in the eastern half of Unimak Island. The Aleuts named the volcano Sisquk, meaning "mountain which points the way when I am lost." A steam plume often rises from its small summit crater. Constructed atop an older glacially dissected volcano, it is largely basaltic in composition. Remnants of an older ancestral volcano are exposed on the W and NE sides at 1,500-1,800 m elevation. There are over two dozen pyroclastic cones on its NW flank, which is blanketed by massive aa lava flows. Frequent explosive activity, primarily consisting of Strombolian ash eruptions from the small summit crater, but sometimes producing lava flows, has been recorded since the 18th century.

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/); Simon Plank, German Aerospace Center (DLR) German Remote Sensing Data Center, Geo-Risks and Civil Security, Oberpfaffenhofen, 82234 Weßling (URL: https://www.dlr.de/eoc/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-5242/8788_read-28554/sortby-lastname/); 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).


Sangeang Api (Indonesia) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Sangeang Api

Indonesia

8.2°S, 119.07°E; summit elev. 1912 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash emissions and lava flow extrusion continue during May 2019 through January 2020

Sangeang Api is located in the eastern Sunda-Banda Arc in Indonesia, forming a small island in the Flores Strait, north of the eastern side of West Nusa Tenggara. It has been frequently active in recent times with documented eruptions spanning back to 1512. The edifice has two peaks – the active Doro Api cone and the inactive Doro Mantori within an older caldera (figure 37). The current activity is focused at the summit of the cone within a horseshoe-shaped crater at the summit of Doro Api. This bulletin summarizes activity during May 2019 through January 2020 and is based on Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reports, Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, or CVGHM) MAGMA Indonesia Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) reports, and various satellite data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. A PlanetScope satellite image of Sangeang Api with the active Doro Api and the inactive Doro Mantori cones indicated, and the channel SE of the active area that contains recent lava flows and other deposits. December 2019 monthly mosaic copyright of Planet Labs 2019.

Thermal anomalies were visible in Sentinel-2 satellite thermal images on 4 and 5 May with some ash and gas emission visible; bright pixels from the summit of the active cone extended to the SE towards the end of the month, indicating an active lava flow (figure 38). Multiple small emissions with increasing ash content reached 1.2-2.1 km altitude on 17 June. The emissions drifted W and WNW, and a thermal anomaly was also visible. On the 27th ash plumes rose to 2.1 km and drifted NW and the thermal anomaly persisted. One ash plume reached 2.4 km and drifted NW on the 29th, and steam emissions were ongoing. Satellite images showed two active lava flows in June, an upper and a lower flow, with several lobes descending the same channel and with lateral levees visible in satellite imagery (figure 39). The lava extrusion appeared to have ceased by late June with lower temperatures detected in Sentinel-2 thermal data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Sentinel-2 satellite thermal images of Sangeang Api on 20 May and 9 June 2019 show an active lava flow from the summit, traveling to the SE. False color (urban) image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. PlanetScope satellite images of Sangeang Api show new lava flows during June and July, with white arrows indicating the flow fronts. Copyright Planet Labs 2019.

During 4-5 July the Darwin VAAC reported ash plumes reaching 2.1-2.3 km altitude and drifting SW and W. Activity continued during 6-9 July with plumes up to 4.6 km drifting N, NW, and SW. Thermal anomalies were noted on the 4th and 8th. Plumes rose to 2.1-3 km during 10-16th, and to a maximum altitude of 4.6 km during 17-18 and 20-22. Similar activity was reported during 24-30 July with plumes reaching 2.4-3 km and dispersing NW, W, and SW. The upper lava flow had increased in length since 15 June (see figure 39).

During 31 July through 3 September ash plumes continued to reach 2.4-3 km altitude and disperse in multiple directions. Similar activity was reported throughout September. Thermal anomalies also persisted through July-September, with evidence of hot avalanches in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery on 23 August, and 9, 12, 22, and 27 September. Thermal anomalies suggested hot avalanches or lava flows during October (figure 40). During 26-28 October short-lived ash plumes were reported to 2.1-2.7 km above sea level and dissipated to the NW, WNW, and W. Short-lived explosions produced ash plumes up to 2.7-3.5 km altitude were noted during 30-31 October and 3-4 November 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Sentinel-2 satellite thermal images of Sangeang Api on 7 and 22 October 2019 show an area of elevated temperatures trending from the summit of the active cone down the SE flank. False color (urban) image rendering (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Discrete explosions produced ash plumes up to 2.7-3.5 km altitude during 3-4 November, and during the 6-12th the Darwin VAAC reported short-lived ash emissions reaching 3 km altitude. Thermal anomalies were visible in satellite images during 6-8 November. A VONA was released on 14 November for an ash plume that reached about 2 km altitude and dispersed to the west. During 14-19 November the Darwin VAAC reported short-lived ash plumes reaching 2.4 km that drifted NW and W. Additional ash plumes were observed reaching a maximum altitude of 2.4 km during 20-26 November. Thermal anomalies were detected during the 18-19th, and on the 27th.

Ash plumes were recorded reaching 2.4 km during 4-5, 7-9, 11-13, and 17-19 December, and up to 3 km during 25-28 December. There were no reports of activity in early to mid-January 2020 until the Darwin VAAC reported ash reaching 3 km on 23 January. A webcam image on 15 January showed a gas plume originating from the summit. Several fires were visible on the flanks during May 2019 through January 2020, and this is seen in the MIROVA log thermal plot with the thermal anomalies greater than 5 km away from the crater (figure 41).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. MIROVA log plot of radiative power indicates the persistent activity at Sangeang Api during April 2019 through March 2020. There was a slight decline in September-October 2019 and again in February 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. Sangeang Api volcano, one of the most active in the Lesser Sunda Islands, forms a small 13-km-wide island off the NE coast of Sumbawa Island. Two large trachybasaltic-to-tranchyandesitic volcanic cones, Doro Api and Doro Mantoi, were constructed in the center and on the eastern rim, respectively, of an older, largely obscured caldera. Flank vents occur on the south side of Doro Mantoi and near the northern coast. Intermittent historical eruptions have been recorded since 1512, most of them during in the 20th century.

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/); 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/).

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

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Chikurachki (Russia)

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

Etna (Italy)

Nine months of relative quiet follow mid-2001 flank eruption

Ijen (Indonesia)

Continuous tremor, volcanic and tectonic earthquakes through April 2002

Kerinci (Indonesia)

Small explosion earthquakes dominate, plumes 600 m above summit

Lokon-Empung (Indonesia)

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

Mayon (Philippines)

Declining activity prompts PHIVOLCS to lower Alert Level to 0

Nyiragongo (DR Congo)

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

San Cristobal (Nicaragua)

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

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Rockfalls and pyroclastic flows originate from growing lava dome



Chikurachki (Russia) — April 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Chikurachki

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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


Etna (Italy) — April 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Nine months of relative quiet follow mid-2001 flank eruption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geologic Background. Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily's second largest city, has one of the world's longest documented records of historical volcanism, dating back to 1500 BCE. Historical lava flows of basaltic composition cover much of the surface of this massive volcano, whose edifice is the highest and most voluminous in Italy. The Mongibello stratovolcano, truncated by several small calderas, was constructed during the late Pleistocene and Holocene over an older shield volcano. The most prominent morphological feature of Etna is the Valle del Bove, a 5 x 10 km horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the east. Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur, sometimes simultaneously. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more summit craters. Flank vents, typically with higher effusion rates, are less frequently active and originate from fissures that open progressively downward from near the summit (usually accompanied by Strombolian eruptions at the upper end). Cinder cones are commonly constructed over the vents of lower-flank lava flows. Lava flows extend to the foot of the volcano on all sides and have reached the sea over a broad area on the SE flank.

Information Contacts: Boris Behncke, Dipartimento di Scienze Geologiche (Sezione di Geologia e Geofisica), Palazzo delle Scienze, Corso Italia 55, 95129 Catania, Italy.


Ijen (Indonesia) — April 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Ijen

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuous tremor, volcanic and tectonic earthquakes through April 2002

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

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

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

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

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


Kerinci (Indonesia) — April 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small explosion earthquakes dominate, plumes 600 m above summit

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lokon-Empung

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mayon (Philippines) — April 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Mayon

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Declining activity prompts PHIVOLCS to lower Alert Level to 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

San Cristobal

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Soufriere Hills

United Kingdom

16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Rockfalls and pyroclastic flows originate from growing lava dome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atmospheric Effects

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

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

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

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

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



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

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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


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

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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