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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

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

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


Recently Published Bulletin Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

San Miguel

El Salvador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small ash emissions during 22 February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Cleveland

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ambrym (Vanuatu) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambrym

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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


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

Copahue

Chile-Argentina

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Nishinoshima (Japan) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Nishinoshima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency-Earth Observation Research Center (JAXA-EORC), 7-44-1 Jindaiji Higashi-machi, Chofu-shi, Tokyo 182-8522, Japan (URL: http://www.eorc.jaxa.jp/); Japan Coast Guard (JCG) Volcano Database, Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department, 3-1-1, Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8932, Japan (URL: http://www.kaiho.mlit.go.jp/info/kouhou/h29/index.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Simon Carn, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931, USA (URL: http://www.volcarno.com/, Twitter: @simoncarn).


Krakatau (Indonesia) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mayotte (France) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Mayotte

France

12.83°S, 45.17°E; summit elev. 660 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fernandina (Ecuador) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Fernandina

Ecuador

0.37°S, 91.55°W; summit elev. 1476 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fissure eruption produced lava flows during 12-13 January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Masaya (Nicaragua) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Reventador (Ecuador) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Reventador

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pacaya (Guatemala) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kikai (Japan) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kikai

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Single explosion with steam and minor ash, 2 November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 27, Number 12 (December 2002)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Ambrym (Vanuatu)

Lava lakes remain active in Mbwelesu and Benbow craters through December 2002

Cotopaxi (Ecuador)

First anomalous seismicity since 1975 begins in October 2001

Etna (Italy)

Late October 2002 earthquake swarm signals start of new flank eruption

Karangetang (Indonesia)

500-m plumes and ~ 1.5-km glowing lava avalanche; Alert Level increased

Kerinci (Indonesia)

Continuous emissions through December 2002

Krakatau (Indonesia)

Seismicity dominated by volcanic earthquakes through at least December 2002

Lokon-Empung (Indonesia)

Higher-than-normal activity continues through at least December 2002

Lopevi (Vanuatu)

Anomalous SO2 emissions detected by satellite in December 2002 and January 2003

McDonald Islands (Australia)

Significant morphological changes due to eruptive activity

Pinatubo (Philippines)

Likely 2001 overflow controled by cross-rim trenching

Semeru (Indonesia)

Elevated explosive activity continues; evacuation on 30 December 2002

Stromboli (Italy)

Landslides on 30 December cause two tsunamis; damage in nearby villages

Tungurahua (Ecuador)

Summary of 2002 activity includes several episodes of intense seismicity

Witori (Papua New Guinea)

Dacite lava flows, flattened forest, deformation, and faulting



Ambrym (Vanuatu) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambrym

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lakes remain active in Mbwelesu and Benbow craters through December 2002

Observations of Ambrym were made by John Seach during a climb to the caldera during 11-15 December 2002. Lava lakes were visible in both Mbwelesu and Benbow craters that had been absent during a visit in February 2000 (BGVN 25:02) . Reports from local guides indicated that two lava lakes appeared in Mbwelesu crater during February 2001 and joined to form a single lava lake in August 2001. A lava lake reappeared in Benbow crater during June 2002. During November 2002 acid rain, for the third consecutive year, destroyed the mango crops between Sanesup and Lalinda on the W coast of Ambrym.

Activity at Mbwelesu Crater, 12 December 2002. Perfect visibility into the crater enabled detailed observations of the lava lake over 5 hours from the S side of the crater at an elevation of 950 m and over 300 m above the lava lake. The lava lake, located at the bottom of Mbwelesu Crater inside a circular pit (figures 6 and 7), had a diameter of 40-50 m, was in constant motion, and made continuous loud crashing sounds like waves at the beach. The lava lake was much more active than during previous visits in 1998 and 1999. Pele's hair littered the observation area, and white lithic blocks up to 30 cm in diameter were scattered on the rim.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Photo of the lava lake inside a circular pit within Mbwelesu Crater at Ambrym, 12 December 2002. The diameter of the lava lake is 40-50 m. Courtesy of John Seach.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Photo showing the violent degassing from the lava lake in Mbwelesu Crater at Ambrym, 12 December 2002. Courtesy of John Seach.

The surface of the lava lake was continuously disrupted by degassing. Bubbles caused the lake surface to blister and finally burst, splashing lava into the air. Up to eight large bubbles formed at any one time and covered over 80% of the lake surface. The cycle of bubble formation and rupture took about 3 seconds. Waves up to 10 m high formed due to the degassing and crashed onto the side of the pit. After lava waves hit the side of the pit there was a drain-back of lava into the main lake much like ocean waves receding off a beach. Jets of lava were regularly expelled from the lake surface and directed both vertically and at an angle towards the pit side. Fountains reached up to 40 m high. Blobs of molten lava spattered onto the side of the pit up to 20 m from the lava lake edge. This spatter was more erratic than lava fountains and sprayed over a greater area. When large amounts of lava were thrown onto the pit wall, some would cascade back into the lake via a lava stream, lava fall, or a wide curtain of orange flowing lava.

Crusting of the surface was observed when parts of the lake had a lower level of activity, most often in the NE part of the pit opposite the area of most vigorous degassing. Sometimes a lava fountain would burst through the crust, throwing darker pieces of lava high into the air. At times the orange lava lake surface was covered with black pieces of broken crust. Crusting lasted for only a few minutes at a time before it was disrupted by fountains or waves. Lava disappeared into the lava lake surface by subducting under layers of other lava. Some lava disappeared into overhangs on the side of the pit. Lava lake activity continued out of view for an unknown distance past these overhangs.

The lava lake level rose and fell over a period of less than an hour in response to changes in the surface degassing rate. When the rate of degassing was high the lake level was raised by 10 m. The changes appeared to be caused by inflation of the lake due to gas rather than any change in lava eruption rate. During a period of low lava lake activity, the whole lake surface tilted 5 m towards the N and then back to the S over a two-second period. Violent intra-crater winds were observed around the lava lake as reflected in their effects on gas emissions. These were also felt beside the lava lake in Benbow crater. Vapors emitted from the lake surface were white tinged with blue.

Two 15-m-diameter vents 100 m N of the lava lake and 60 m higher were separated by a thin wall. The W vent did not show any activity. The E vent made almost continuous loud degassing noises, and larger explosions ejected black ash 50 m into the air. Mbwelesu was approached again on 15 December, but rain the previous day and low clouds had filled the crater with white vapor, allowing only brief views of the still constantly active lava lake.

Activity at Mbogon Niri Mbwelesu, 12 December 2002. This small collapse pit has been re-named (formerly Niri Mbwelesu Taten) after a request by local residents. The new name comes from the local Port Vato language of W Ambrym, as did the previous name, but is more culturally appropriate. The translation of the new name is " mouth of the wild young pig" (Mbogon = mouth, Niri = son, Mbwelesu = wild pig).

On 12 December excellent visibility enabled detailed observations into Mbogon Niri Mbwelesu. Observations were made from the N side of the pit. Loud crashing, degassing sounds were heard inside the pit, and a 10-m-diameter vent was observed on the floor about 180 m below. The pit glowed bright orange, but lava was not directly observed. This was the first time in 2002 that guides had observed the presence of lava in this pit. Loud degassing occurred every few seconds, and the larger explosions were accompanied by light brown emissions and ground shaking. Pungent sulfurous fumes were emitted from the pit, forcing the observer to use a respirator at times. Strong degassing of brown vapors was coming from the E side of the pit, 50 m below the rim. The W inside wall of the pit was coated with red and yellow deposits.

Activity at Niri Mbwelesu Crater, 12 December 2002. On 12 December excellent views were obtained into Niri Mbwelesu. A recent large landslide on the W wall of the crater had covered the previously lava-filled vent. Rockfalls were heard regularly inside the crater and degassing occurred about every 30 seconds. About every 20 minutes larger explosions were heard at the crater; some were audible over 3 km away.

Activity at Benbow Crater, 13 December 2002. Benbow was climbed from the S on 13 December. The observer free-climbed 165 m down to the floor of the first level, and then another 45 m further down to the edge of the lava lake pit in the N of the crater. Inside Benbow there were two active pits. The larger pit, in the middle of the crater, contained a crusted lava lake and two active vents. The SW vent was 25 m in diameter and was full of vapor but emitted no sounds. The NW vent was 10 m in diameter, glowed red, and loudly degassed. The N crater in Benbow contained an active lava lake. The observer climbed to the rim and was able to view the lake surface, ~50 m below, for a few seconds before retreating. The lava lake was in constant motion and lava was ejected in to the air. Violent winds (over 80 km/hour) were generated inside the pit and made observations on the edge dangerous. At times the pit was filled with white and blue-tinged vapors which made breathing difficult. The lava lake made continuous rumbling and sloshing noises. On a wall next to the lava lake pit there was dripping water with a pH of 3.5 and 700 ppm total dissolved solids.

Visit to Ambrym, 15-20 August 2001. Jeff and Raine Williams, sailing aboard the S/Y Gryphon, visited Ambrym Island during 15-20 August 2001. One day was spent hiking to the Mbwelesu crater with a guide from the village of Ranvetlam. Their report has been reduced here to basic observations; a more poetic and complete description of their hike can be found on their website. After leaving Ranvetlam, they began a steep climb through jungle and gardens, continuing through coconut groves and thick woods of breadfruit trees and wild nut trees. After an hour they were still passing through the garden plots of villagers. At higher altitudes the vegetation changed to bananas, kava, and lap-lap plants; wild tree ferns and palm trees were abundant.

After about 90 minutes they emerged from the jungle onto a lava flow at the lower limit of the high central 'ash plain' plateau. They climbed along this "50-yard wide, black gravel road," also described as a "wild orchid-lined highway," through the jungle to the ash plain itself, where the tops of Marum and Benbow could be seen shrouded in clouds and mist. The hike continued across ~1.5 km of the ash plain before passing along a lava gully onto the final ridge, a 1-m-wide path of loose cinders and stone. They climbed to the rim and looked down the sheer, nearly vertical cliffs into the crater, where they heard rumbling and splashing sounds of the active lava lake. Although the weather was cold and windy, the fog cleared enough for the visitors to briefly observe bright red lava in the crater three times within 30 minutes. The 11-km-long hike to the crater took four hours, and another 3 hours to return.

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

Information Contacts: John Seach, PO Box 16, Chatsworth Island, NSW, 2469, Australia (URL: http://www.volcanolive.com/); Jeff and Raine Williams, P.O. Box 729, Funkstown, MD 21734, USA.


Cotopaxi (Ecuador) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Cotopaxi

Ecuador

0.677°S, 78.436°W; summit elev. 5911 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


First anomalous seismicity since 1975 begins in October 2001

The last Cotopaxi report (SEAN 01:03) described a decline in activity during December 1975. Beginning in October 2001, anomalous seismic activity was registered. Seismicity increased further during November 2001-January 2002, and at times was up to seven times the normal level (tables 1 and 2). During this period, other seismic signals were registered that were distinct from those during the 13 previous years of monitoring, including: tornillos, explosion events, bands of harmonic tremor sometimes lasting a few minutes, and deep, high-energy long-period (LP) events registered away from the volcano (at the Antisana and Guagua Pichincha stations). Seismic observations and statistics were compiled using station "VCl," located ~4 km NE of the volcano. Earthquake locations were determined using records from the seven seismic stations on different flanks of Cotopaxi, and for higher-energy events with stations of the National network.

Table 1. Monthly seismicity at Cotopaxi during 2001-2002. Data includes Total and Daily averages for long-period (LP) events, hybrid events, volcano-tectonic (VT) events, tornillo events, and all earthquakes. Courtesy IG.

Date LP Total LP Daily Avg Hybrid Total Hybrid Daily Avg VT Total VT Daily Avg Tornillo Total Tornillo Daily Avg All Earthquakes Total All Earthquakes Daily Avg
Jan 2001 336 10.8 0 0.0 18 0.6 0 0.0 354 11.4
Feb 2001 185 6.6 0 0.0 4 0.1 0 0.0 189 6.8
Mar 2001 319 10.3 1 0.0 10 0.3 0 0.0 320 10.3
Apr 2001 280 9.3 0 0.0 26 0.9 0 0.0 306 10.2
May 2001 241 7.8 7 0.2 10 0.3 0 0.0 248 8.0
Jun 2001 243 8.1 11 0.4 53 1.8 0 0.0 307 10.2
Jul 2001 262 8.5 2 0.1 9 0.3 0 0.0 273 8.8
Aug 2001 241 7.8 0 0.0 9 0.3 0 0.0 250 8.1
Sep 2001 394 13.1 9 0.3 9 0.3 0 0.0 412 13.7
Oct 2001 555 17.9 0 0.0 7 0.2 0 0.0 562 18.1
Nov 2001 432 14.4 57 1.9 400 13.3 4 0.1 893 29.8
Dec 2001 516 16.6 169 5.5 729 23.5 0 0.0 1423 45.9
Jan 2002 595 19.2 5 0.2 363 11.7 3 0.1 966 31.2
Feb 2002 532 19.0 4 0.1 157 5.6 0 0.0 693 24.8
Mar 2002 504 16.3 1 0.0 191 6.2 0 0.0 696 22.5
Apr 2002 310 10.3 7 0.2 63 2.1 0 0.0 380 12.7
May 2002 431 13.9 8 0.3 53 1.7 0 0.0 453 14.6
Jun 2002 429 14.3 41 1.4 45 1.5 3 0.1 474 15.8
Jul 2002 445 14.4 181 5.8 92 3.0 2 0.1 720 23.2
Aug 2002 455 14.7 91 2.9 32 1.0 12 0.4 590 19.0
Sep 2002 509 17.0 184 6.1 140 4.7 19 0.6 852 28.4
Oct 2002 322 10.4 219 7.1 62 2.0 13 0.4 616 19.9
Nov 2002 295 9.8 142 4.7 64 2.1 2 0.1 503 16.8
Dec 2002 233 9.0 120 4.6 48 1.5 1 0.0 402 16.1

Table 2. Comparison of average seismicity at Cotopaxi during 2001 and 2002. Courtesy IG.

Year Daily average Monthly average Total
2001 15.4 461.4 5537
2002 20.4 612.1 7345

On 5 and 29 January 2002, two seismic clusters lasted an average of 2 hours and were composed mainly of LP and VT earthquakes. Most of the earthquakes were located at depths of 1-10 km beneath the summit. On 5 and 13 January small fumaroles were reported in the crater, and visible defrosting occurred on the upper E flank. A visit to the summit on 13 January revealed increased fumarolic activity compared to previous months. On 19 and 20 January observers reported gray plumes rising as high as 1,000 m.

During February and March activity diminished, and no seismic clusters were registered. Most of the earthquakes were located 1-10 km beneath the volcano. On 5 February roaring noises were heard from Mulaló and the refuges located on the flanks of the volcano. Strong fumarolic activity was also reported. On 6 February steam plumes rose ~300 m above the summit. On 27 February a small steam plume was reported exiting from the NW side of the crater. On 7 and 10 March small steam plumes originated from the W side of the crater. On 28 March harmonic tremor lasted for ~10 minutes.

Activity remained low during April-June. On 17 April a band of harmonic tremor lasted ~6 minutes with a maximum frequency of 4.3 Hz. During the first days of April small steam plumes were reported. During May LP earthquakes lasted up to a minute and saturated the seismometer for several seconds. On 20 May a seismic cluster of LP earthquakes lasted ~2 hours. On 8 and 14 May a white steam plume from the NE side of the volcano reached up to 200 m high. During June VT events mostly occurred ~10 km N of the crater. On 30 June a band of harmonic tremor lasted ~7 minutes with a maximum frequency of 1.7-5.2 Hz. Visits to the summit on 1 and 2 June revealed that fumarolic activity had diminished ~40% since January.

During July seismicity was at a moderate level with respect to the rest of 2002. During the first days of the month a series of LP events were registered that were large enough to be detected at distant stations, such as Antisana and Guagua Pichincha. The earthquakes had maximum frequencies of ~2.1 Hz and were generally 1-2 km beneath the summit. However, some events were located at depths of ~10 km. On 18 July at 2000 a band of low-frequency tremor lasted ~4 minutes. About 5 hours later a seismic cluster began that lasted for ~8 hours. The cluster consisted of ~110 total events, mostly hybrid (HB) and volcano-tectonic (VT). The earthquakes were located 1-4 km beneath the summit, and 2 LP events were located ~10 km deep.

Visitors to the summit on 6 July reported fumarolic activity in the zone of Yanasacha, a slight sulfur smell on the NE side, and noise generated by an avalanche on the E side. At the end of July reports indicated defrosting in the W zone. During August moderate seismicity was dominated by LP events at a depth of ~10 km.

Seismicity was again high in September 2002. A small cluster of VT earthquakes on 15 September lasted ~7 hours. During the first days of the month a visit to the crater revealed new fumaroles in the E and S zones. Defrosting continued in the W zone and left 40% of the W wall open.

During October seismic activity was low but the number of hybrid events increased compared to the previous months. Tectonic events were registered in the S and N zones up to ~7 km from the summit. Deep LP events decreased by ~50% compared to previous months.

Seismicity remained low during November and December. Less than 10% of VT events were registered in the N sector. No fumarolic or other surface activity was observed. During December seismic events were located 1-7 km beneath the summit. On 7 December people in Yanahurco reported dark brown plumes rising from the crater.

Seismicity since 1989 clearly shows an increase in recent months (figure 1). The 2001 seismic events were registered at 1-10 km beneath the volcano, but ~90% occurred at 2-4 km and showed little migration. The 2002 activity was variable, from a high of 966 events in January to a low of 420 events in April. Mostly LP events occurred with some VT events during the first half of the year, and later mostly LP events with hybrids during the second half of the year. On the basis of 2002 seismic activity, a new injection of magma did not occur, and the anomalies in July and September were the result of the movement of gas from magma intrusion that occurred during the last months of 2001.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Graph of the total registered monthly events at Cotopaxi during 1989-2002. The activity increased beginning in November 2001 and has since remained above background levels. Courtesy of IG.

Geologic Background. Symmetrical, glacier-clad Cotopaxi stratovolcano is Ecuador's most well-known volcano and one of its most active. The steep-sided cone is capped by nested summit craters, the largest of which is about 550 x 800 m in diameter. Deep valleys scoured by lahars radiate from the summit of the andesitic volcano, and large andesitic lava flows extend to its base. The modern conical edifice has been constructed since a major collapse sometime prior to about 5000 years ago. Pyroclastic flows (often confused in historical accounts with lava flows) have accompanied many explosive eruptions, and lahars have frequently devastated adjacent valleys. The most violent historical eruptions took place in 1744, 1768, and 1877. Pyroclastic flows descended all sides of the volcano in 1877, and lahars traveled more than 100 km into the Pacific Ocean and western Amazon basin. The last significant eruption took place in 1904.

Information Contacts: Geophysical Institute (IG), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Apartado 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador.


Etna (Italy) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Late October 2002 earthquake swarm signals start of new flank eruption

On 26 October 2002 at 2225 a swarm of earthquakes was recorded by the seismic network of the Catania Section of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV-CT). This signaled the start of a new flank eruption that has formed fissures on the N and S sides of the volcano.

The lava supply from the main vents were cut off by 3 November. At that time both the N and S fissues stopped producing lava flows, although the S fissure continued to discharge fire fountains. After that, 20 m of downslope movement was observed at the most advanced flow front near Piano Provenzana on 5 November. This late movement was caused by channel emptying, and occurred when lava emerging at the main vent, ~5 km upstream, was completely crusted over. No further advancement of the lava flows was observed on the S or N flanks of the volcano after this date. However, while explosive and effusive activity stopped at the N fissure by 5 November, as of 11 November fire fountaining continued at the S vent located at 2,750 m elevation, near Torre del Filosofo. All data (gas emission, volcanic tremor, composition of the ash) suggested a steady state at this vent. Ash fallout caused intermittent disruption at the Catania airport and damage to buildings.

The eruption continued into December 2002. Lava flows and Strombolian activity continued on the S flank from vents at 2,750 m elevation. Ash emission from the 2,750 m cinder cone significantly declined on 17 December, allowing the local airport of Catania to reopen.

The two vents, which opened at the SE base of the 2,750 m cinder cone on 9-10 December, fed four major lava flows spreading S and SW. A lava flow spreading S on 13 December approached the Rifugio Sapienza and eventually crossed a road on 17 December. An overflow from the main lava channel covered a building and caused a strong explosion in the Rifugio Sapienza area during the night of 17 December, injuring 32 people. The explosion was not directly caused by the eruption, but by vaporization of oil or water inside the building while it was covered by the expanding lava flow. The effusion rate from the two vents gradually decreased, eventually causing the closure of the western vent and then the lack of supply to the lava flows spreading SW towards Monte Nero.

A new vent opened on 17 December at the S base of the 2,750 m cinder cone, a few meters W of the previous vents. A lava flow soon started from this vent, spreading SW towards Monte Nero. The new vent cut supply to the flows expanding S towards Rifugio Sapienza and formed a fan of thin lava flows spreading S, SSW and SW. The lower lava output produced shorter flows, which spread up to 2.5 km from the vent, without threatening the tourist facilities at Rifugio Sapienza. Lava flows spreading from the 17 December vent slowed down and crusted over on 22 December, when a new vent opened at the SW base of the 2,750 m cinder cone. A flow, again directed SW towards Monte Nero, originated from this vent and was expanding in this direction on 23 December.

SO2 emission measured daily during the eruption had significantly decreased as of 1 December, when the previous values of about 20,000 tons per day decreased to about 7,000 tons per day (figure 101). The lower gas output, the decrease in effusion rate, and the lower emission of ash from the summit, suggested a declining stage of the eruption.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. A plot of SO2 flux at Etna during September-December 2002. Courtesy of INGV-CT.

Updated maps of the lava flows, and reports of the eruptive activity, gas emission and ash composition (in Italian), can be found on the INGV-CT website.

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: Sonia Calvari, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/).


Karangetang (Indonesia) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

2.781°N, 125.407°E; summit elev. 1797 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


500-m plumes and ~ 1.5-km glowing lava avalanche; Alert Level increased

During September-29 December 2002, seismicity at Karangetang was dominated by emission, multiphase and tectonic earthquakes (table 6). The S crater nearly always issued "white, thin ash plumes" that reached up to 500 m above the rim. At night, a light plume was visible rising 25-100 m. Loud noises were heard frequently, and the N crater emitted a "thin white ash plume" to 50 m. No ashfall was reported.

Table 6. Earthquakes recorded at Karangetang during 9 September-29 December 2002. No reports were issued for Karangetang during 25 November-22 December. Courtesy VSI.

Date Deep volcanic (A-type) Shallow volcanic (B-type) Explosion Multiphase Emission Tectonic Avalanche
09 Sep-15 Sep 2002 14 24 0 94 299 46 --
16 Sep-22 Sep 2002 28 27 0 82 246 39 --
23 Sep-29 Sep 2002 22 26 1 20 116 75 --
30 Sep-06 Oct 2002 14 4 0 38 88 54 98
07 Oct-13 Oct 2002 19 13 -- 30 67 89 43
14 Oct-20 Oct 2002 7 22 1 30 146 34 10
21 Oct-27 Oct 2002 12 34 -- 23 114 65 --
28 Oct-03 Nov 2002 18 154 -- 147 49 24 --
04 Nov-10 Nov 2002 15 29 -- 90 21 69 --
11 Nov-18 Nov 2002 12 40 1 75 28 70 --
19 Nov-24 Nov 2002 15 116 -- 94 1 46 --
23 Dec-29 Dec 2002 10 26 1 168 17 25 --

During 9 September-13 October glowing avalanches flowed 25-250 m toward Nanitu river (West Siau), and toward Beha river as far as 400 m from the crater rim. By the week of 14-20 October, the lava avalanches extended ~1.5 km toward the Nanitu river, 1.0 km toward the Beha river (West Siau), and 750 m toward the Kahetang river.

On 12 September loud noises were accompanied by a 50-m-high gray ash plume. During 5-6 October, there were 2 volcanic tremor events. On 19 October at 1759 an explosion ejected glowing material to a height of 500 m; it landed inside the crater. A gray-black ash plume reached up to 750 m, drifted to the N, and fell on the sea.

Activity decreased during November, and loud sounds were rarely heard. On 15 November at 0248 an ash explosion produced glowing material up to ~200 m that fell around the crater. Some of the material entered the Batang, Beha, and Keting rivers, located 300-350 m away. Ash fell around Salili, Beong, Hiu, Ondong, Pehe, and Paniki villages to the SW. The Alert Level remained at level 3 through at least 29 December (on a scale of 1 to 4).

Geologic Background. Karangetang (Api Siau) volcano lies at the northern end of the island of Siau, about 125 km NNE of the NE-most point of Sulawesi island. The stratovolcano contains five summit craters along a N-S line. It is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, with more than 40 eruptions recorded since 1675 and many additional small eruptions that were not documented in the historical record (Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World: Neumann van Padang, 1951). Twentieth-century eruptions have included frequent explosive activity sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows and lahars. Lava dome growth has occurred in the summit craters; collapse of lava flow fronts have produced pyroclastic flows.

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


Kerinci (Indonesia) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuous emissions through December 2002

Emissions were continuous through at least late October 2002 (table 4). During most of the period 9 September-27 October a "white-thin ash plume" rose 50-400 m and drifted toward the W or SW. No ashfall was reported. Kerinci remained at Alert Level 2 (on a scale of 1-4). No further reports were issued during 2002.

Table 4. Earthquakes registered at Kerinci during 9 September-27 October 2002. Courtesy VSI.

Date B-type volcanic Emission Tectonic
09 Sep-15 Sep 2002 3 Continuous 7
16 Sep-22 Sep 2002 4 Continuous 8
23 Sep-29 Sep 2002 1 Continuous 5
30 Sep-06 Oct 2002 1 Continuous 4
07 Oct-13 Oct 2002 2 Continuous 16
14 Oct-20 Oct 2002 -- Continuous 2
21 Oct-27 Oct 2002 -- Continuous --

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


Krakatau (Indonesia) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Krakatau

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity dominated by volcanic earthquakes through at least December 2002

During 9 September through at least late December 2002, seismicity at Krakatau was dominated by A-and B-type volcanic earthquakes (table 2). Throughout the report period, clouds obscured the view of the summit. Krakatau remained at Alert Level 2.

Table 2. Earthquakes registered at Krakatau during 9 September-29 December 2002. No data were available during 16-29 September. Courtesy VSI.

Date A-type volcanic B-type volcanic Tectonic
09 Sep-15 Sep 2002 2 6 3
30 Sep-06 Oct 2002 8 31 6
07 Oct-13 Oct 2002 30 109 6
14 Oct-20 Oct 2002 18 64 3
21 Oct-27 Oct 2002 7 55 5
28 Oct-03 Nov 2002 8 54 11
04 Nov-10 Nov 2002 28 56 5
11 Nov-18 Nov 2002 2 31 5
02 Dec-08 Dec 2002 16 50 5
09 Dec-15 Dec 2002 13 53 13
16 Dec-22 Dec 2002 6 32 1
23 Dec-29 Dec 2002 11 59 2

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


Lokon-Empung (Indonesia) — December 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)


Higher-than-normal activity continues through at least December 2002

Higher-than-normal activity continued at Lokon-Empung during August-December 2002. Throughout the report period a "white-thin ash plume" rose 25-75 m above the crater rim. No ashfall was reported. Seismicity was dominated by shallow volcanic and tectonic earthquakes (table 4).

Table 4. Earthquakes recorded at Lokon during 5 August-29 December 2002. No reports were issued during 11 November-22 December. Courtesy VSI.

Date Deep volcanic (A-type) Shallow volcanic (B-type) Tectonic
05 Aug-11 Aug 2002 19 42 32
12 Aug-18 Aug 2002 9 11 35
19 Aug-25 Aug 2002 14 51 42
26 Aug-01 Sep 2002 19 53 28
02 Sep-08 Sep 2002 14 39 32
09 Sep-15 Sep 2002 18 50 33
16 Sep-22 Sep 2002 16 37 39
23 Sep-29 Sep 2002 2 18 46
30 Sep-06 Oct 2002 9 17 39
07 Oct-13 Oct 2002 5 7 35
14 Oct-20 Oct 2002 5 4 29
21 Oct-27 Oct 2002 6 25 44
28 Oct-03 Nov 2002 0 1 35
04 Nov-10 Nov 2002 1 4 26
23 Dec-29 Dec 2002 29 74 31

During the week of 4-10 November, the hazard status was reduced from Alert Level 2 to 1 (on a scale of 1-4). On 23 December a "white-thick ash plume" rose 100-250 m over Tompaluan crater. No ashfall was reported. [A later report did note ashfall.] The same day, volcanic tremor with an amplitude of 0.5-2 mm occurred. A total of 42 emissions were reported during 23-29 December. The Alert Level returned to 2 by the end of the report period.

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


Lopevi (Vanuatu) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Lopevi

Vanuatu

16.507°S, 168.346°E; summit elev. 1413 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Anomalous SO2 emissions detected by satellite in December 2002 and January 2003

Satellite data interpreted by Simon Carn indicate that anomalous degassing may have begun from a volcano in Vanuatu in mid-December 2002. SO2 signals were noted in data from both the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME) on the ERS-2 satellite and the Earth Probe Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS). Although GOME is more sensitive to SO2 than TOMS, its spatial resolution is very poor, so distinguishing the source of emissions between Ambrym and Lopevi is impossible using the available imagery.

However, on 14 December John Seach noted a strong sulfurous smell on the W side of Ambrym caldera. The wind was blowing from the direction of Lopevi at the time, and white emissions were noticed on Lopevi's active crater on the NW flank of the volcano. Seach did not note unusual emissions from Ambrym during his 11-15 December 2002 visit, so the editors are attributing this activity to Lopevi unless other data are found that identify Ambrym as the source.

GOME data indicate SO2 emissions over Vanuatu on 13, 19, 22, and 25 December 2002, then again during 4, 7, 11, 14, 17, and 20 January 2003. Data are only collected every third day, so degassing could be continuous, with a possible lull in late December. After 11 January GOME signals became very weak. TOMS data also indicated SO2 originating from the region on 19, 21, and 25 December, and again during 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 January, with nothing really evident since then. On a couple of days, particularly 4 January, the anomaly seen in TOMS imagery seemed to be originating from Ambrym.

The SO2 mass detected by TOMS immediately E of Lopevi and Ambrym on 8 January was estimated at less than 5,000 tons, a low value. Combining the two datasets indicates that the most significant SO2 emissions occurred around 25 December 2002 and 4-11 January 2003. After mid-January the activity seemed to be tapering off.

Geologic Background. The small 7-km-wide conical island of Lopevi, known locally as Vanei Vollohulu, is one of Vanuatu's most active volcanoes. A small summit crater containing a cinder cone is breached to the NW and tops an older cone that is rimmed by the remnant of a larger crater. The basaltic-to-andesitic volcano has been active during historical time at both summit and flank vents, primarily along a NW-SE-trending fissure that cuts across the island, producing moderate explosive eruptions and lava flows that reached the coast. Historical eruptions at the 1413-m-high volcano date back to the mid-19th century. The island was evacuated following major eruptions in 1939 and 1960. The latter eruption, from a NW-flank fissure vent, produced a pyroclastic flow that swept to the sea and a lava flow that formed a new peninsula on the western coast.

Information Contacts: Simon A. Carn, TOMS Volcanic Emissions Group, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (NASA/UMBC), University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA (URL: https://jcet.umbc.edu/); John Seach, PO Box 16, Chatsworth Island, NSW 2469, Australia (URL: http://www.volcanolive.com/).


McDonald Islands (Australia) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

McDonald Islands

Australia

53.03°S, 72.6°E; summit elev. 230 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Significant morphological changes due to eruptive activity

Accounts from ship-based observers and satellite imagery have revealed significant morphological changes to McDonald Island due to volcanic activity prior to 6 November 2001. A comparison of November 2001 satellite imagery with 1980 aerial photographs was described in AUSGEO News 68 (December 2002). Tourist reports were published in the Australian Antarctic Division's Antarctic Non-government Activity News (ANAN), no. 89 (January 2003). Geoscience Australia's National Mapping reports the elevation of McDonald Island as 230 m, but the activity described below has most likely increased this value.

A photograph taken on 9 November 2000 (BGVN 26:02) was similar to previous photos and descriptions. In addition, thermal alerts for nearby Heard Island occurred frequently in November and December 2000, an indication not only of eruptive activity there, but clear weather during which any significant activity at McDonald would likely have been detected in infrared satellite imagery. Combined, these observations place the eruptive activity after 9 November 2000, and probably after 30 December 2000.

Analysis of 6 November 2001 satellite imagery. A routine check of Australia's maritime boundaries in the Southern Ocean by Geoscience Australia showed that the McDonald Islands had doubled in size, and it appears that the separate islands of McDonald Island and Flat Island are now one. Geoscience Australia's Bill Hirst was comparing an aerial photograph of the McDonald Islands taken on 11 March 1980, with satellite imagery from Landsat 7 EGM data acquired on 6 November 2001, when he noticed that the islands had changed shape (figure 6). The islands earlier combined area of 1.13 km2 is now thought to have changed to 2.45 km2. Some features have disappeared.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Aerial photograph of the McDonald Islands taken on 11 March 1980 from a helicopter (left) and satellite imagery from Landsat 7 EGM data acquired on 6 November 2001 (right). The outline of the islands in 1980 is superimposed on the satellite image. Courtesy of Geoscience Australia.

The senior surveyor onshore during a 6-day visit in 1980 was Geoscience Australia's John Manning, who named many features of the McDonald Islands. He noted that "Thelander Point doesn't appear to be an appropriate name now, Williams Bay seems to be filled in, and The Needle may be gone . . . Windward Point is no longer a point because there are about 400 m of new land in front of it. The tumultuous bay I called Cauldron is now full of rock, and Flat Island is probably joined to McDonald Island by a shingle comprising gravel and pumice." Other new features appear to be a volcanic hill and a spit to the E of the island similar to one on Heard Island. Macaroni Hill was once the highest point.

Observations in late November 2002. Experienced observers noted changes to the McDonald Island group in late November 2002 from on board the Akademic Shokalskiy, which was visiting the Heard Island region on a voyage organized by the New Zealand-based tour company Heritage Expeditions. A comparison of old and new photographs of the area shows that the N part of the island is much higher than before, and 75% of the land area that is now there may be completely new. During the last five years Australian national program vessels that have observed the McDonald group have reported seeing steam issuing from vents at various locations.

Three of the passengers on the Akademic Shokalskiy had worked on Heard Island in the 1950's and 1960's, and one of them, Graham Budd, was one of the first two people to set foot on McDonald Island, in 1971. When the ship was travelling towards Heard Island en route from Crozet early on the morning of 26 November, Budd noticed the changed profile of the McDonald islands and expedition leader Rodney Russ decided to take a closer look after the end of the visit to Heard Island. It was not possible to sail too close to the islands because the water around them is uncharted. Under Australian management plans for McDonald Island, landings cannot be made there without a permit and only then for "compelling scientific reasons."

On the second sail past the island, passengers observed steaming slopes and "two types of lava dome." The highest part of the islands was now at the N end, not in the S at Maxwell Hill as it had been previously. Analysis of enlarged digital photographs taken by passengers indicates that considerable sedimentation has occurred along the coastline, such that the formerly separate Flat Island is now joined to the main island. It also appears that several meters of ash have blanketed the N half of McDonald Island, and Macaroni Hill at its N end has disappeared. A low-lying spit and reef now extend over 1 km E of McDonald Island.

Although it is not certain when the activity occurred, wildlife did not appear to have been affected. Penguins were still nesting up to the top of Maxwell Hill and on ash-covered remnants of the old land inshore of the new spit. The birds appear to have deserted Flat Island. There were a large number of penguins and seals on the beaches, and several dozen fur seals swimming offshore.

The two geologists on the voyage, Australian Jon Stephenson and New Zealander Margaret Bradshaw, believe that a scientific visit should be made so that the sequence of the new volcanic events and the composition of the lavas can be determined. The Australian national program currently plans to conduct a scientific program on Heard Island during the 2003-04 austral summer, but currently has no plans to do land-based research on McDonald Island.

MODVOLC Thermal Alerts. Following the distribution of the above reports via the Volcano Listserv, David Rothery and Diego Coppola (The Open University) searched for "thermal alerts" at McDonald Island using the MODIS Thermal Alerts website (http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/). This system is the first truly global high-temperature thermal monitoring system. It is capable of detecting and documenting changes in active lava flows, lav domes, lava lakes, strongly incandescent vents, and hot pyroclastic flows. No alert is likely to be triggered by an ash cloud.

As described by Flynn et al. (2001) and Wright et al. (2002), the MODIS Thermal Alerts website provides a series of maps updated every 24 hours to show "thermal alerts" based on night-time (approximately 2230 local time) infrared data from a 1-km-resolution instrument called MODIS that is carried by NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. Thermal alerts are based on an "alert ratio" (3.9 µm radiance - 12 µm radiance) / (3.9 µm radiance + 12 µm radiance), and an alert is triggered whenever this ratio has a value more positive than -0.8. This threshold value was chosen empirically by inspection of images containing known volcanic sites at high temperature, and is the most negative value that avoids numerous false alarms. There are also some daytime (approximately 1030 local time) alerts that are based on the same algorithm but incorporating a correction for estimated solar reflection and a more stringent threshold whereby the alert ratio is required to be more positive than -0.6 in order to trigger an alert.

Thermal alert data are available for the region including McDonald Island from 13 May 2000 onwards (with a gap 26 May-2 June 2000). No thermal alert occurred at McDonald Island from 13 May 2000 through 30 January 2003. This null result does not prove that the activity must have occurred before 13 May 2000, because MODIS cannot see through cloud, which is common in that region. However, there were multiple thermal alerts for nearby Heard Island during the same period (24 May; 3, 5, and 6 June; 25 September; 29 October; 5, 15, 19, and 24 November; 16, 17, 26, and 30 December 2000; 2 February 2001). Had McDonald been active on the same dates, it is highly likely that this activity would have been detected at least once.

Climate and Biology. The following is taken from the AUSGEO News report. The McDonald Islands are remote, and people have landed on the islands only twice since a British sealer sighted them in November 1833. The islands have cliff-lined coasts and are surrounded by rocky shoals and reefs that are treacherous for boats and landing parties. They lie in stormy seas where temperate water from the Indian Ocean meets icy Antarctic water. Most days are cloudy, making it very difficult to obtain satellite imagery and photographs of the islands. Maximum temperatures average 3°C, and wind gusts can reach 210 km/hour. Two Australian scientists looking for fur seals made the first landing in 1970, a 20-minute visit, by helicopter from the French Antarctic ship Gallieni. The second landing, in March 1980, was from the Cape Pillar, chartered by National Mapping to survey the Heard Island-Kerguelen region. The small shore party, which included a botanist, biologist, geologist, and surveyor, landed by helicopter and amphibious vehicle. They stayed ashore for six days while the ship sailed its survey lines.

The McDonald Islands were designated a World Heritage site in December 1997 because of their pristine sub-Antarctic ecosystems and geological activity. Local waters are teaming with Patagonian toothfish, Mackerel icefish, Grey rockcod, and Unicorn icefish. Colonies of Macaroni and Gentoo penguins breed and feed from these islands.

References. Flynn, L.P., Wright R., Garbeil, H., Harris, A.J.L., and Pilger, E., 2001, A global thermal alert system using MODIS: initial results from 2000-2001: Advances in Environmental Monitoring and Modelling, no. 3, Monitoring volcanic hotspots using thermal remote sensing, edited by Harris, A.J.L., Wooster, M.J. and Rothery, D. A. (Http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ kis/schools/hums/geog/advemm/vol1no3.html).

Wright, R., Flynn, L., Garbeil, H., Harris, A., and Pilger, E., 2002, Automated volcanic eruption detection using MODIS: Remote Sensing of Environment, v. 82, p. 135-155.

Geologic Background. Historical eruptions have greatly modified the morphology of the McDonald Islands, located on the Kerguelen Plateau about 75 km W of Heard Island. The largest island, McDonald, is composed of a layered phonolitic tuff plateau cut by phonolitic dikes and lava domes. A possible nearby active submarine center was inferred from phonolitic pumice that washed up on Heard Island in 1992. Volcanic plumes were observed in December 1996 and January 1997 from McDonald Island. During March of 1997 the crew of a vessel that sailed near the island noted vigorous steaming from a vent on the N side of the island along with possible pyroclastic deposits and lava flows. A satellite image taken in November 2001 showed the island to have more than doubled in area since previous reported observations in November 2000. The high point of the island group had shifted to the McDonald's N end, which had merged with Flat Island.

Information Contacts: Bruce Hull, Senior Environment Officer, Environmental Management & Audit Unit, Australian Antarctic Division, Environment Australia, Channel Highway, Kingston, Tasmania 7050, Australia (URL: http://www.antarctica.gov.au/environment); AUSGEO News and National Mapping, Geoscience Australia, GPO Box 378, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia (URL: http://www.ga.gov.au/); David A. Rothery and Diego Coppola, Department of Earth Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK 6AA, United Kingdom.


Pinatubo (Philippines) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Pinatubo

Philippines

15.13°N, 120.35°E; summit elev. 1486 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Likely 2001 overflow controled by cross-rim trenching

Pinatubo's catastrophic 1991 eruption left the volcano with a 2.5-km-wide summit caldera that eventually came to contain a lake (table 8). During 2001 a crisis occurred as the lake's surface neared the low point on the caldera's rim. PHIVOLCS provided a detailed report on trenching and release of lake water to avoid catastrophic breakout of the crater lake. The report that is summarized here was authored and contributed by Ma. Antonia V. Bornas and the Quick Response Team. The brief version given here omits the lengthy list of Team members as well as several figures and the references.

Table 8. Pinatubo crater-lake-water surface level through time and computed monthly and average lake-rise increments. See the original report for data sources. Courtesy PHIVOLCS.

Date Elevation Maraunot freeboard Monthly average Cumulative monthly average Annual average
June 1991 780.0 180.00 -- -- --
June 1995 830.0 130.00 1.042 -- 12.50
June 1997 855.0 105.00 1.042 2.083 12.50
07 May 1998 915.0 45.00 5.455 7.538 65.45
27 Apr 1999 933.0 27.00 1.589 9.127 19.06
10 May 2000 942.0 18.00 0.726 9.853 8.72
28 Jun 2000 944.0 16.00 1.250 11.103 --
05 Aug 2000 945.7 14.30 1.339 12.442 --
16 Aug 2000 945.9 14.10 0.541 12.982 --
16 Sep 2000 948.4 11.60 2.500 15.482 --
13 Oct 2000 948.7 11.35 0.278 15.760 --
23 Nov 2000 949.2 10.78 0.432 16.192 --
27 Dec 2000 949.7 10.33 0.500 16.692 --
27 Jun 2001 953.5 6.50 0.638 17.330 --
11 Jul 2001 955.0 5.00 1.327 18.657 15.17
Average -- -- 1.166 -- 13.23

Mount Pinatubo's summit caldera lake surface rose 40 m between May 1998 and July 2001. By July 2001 lake water approached the caldera rim's lowest point, the Maraunot Notch (~960 m elevation). Its surface then stood at 955 m elevation, 5 m below the notch.

The record of the crater lake's rise implied overtopping of Maraunot Notch in the last quarter of 2001. A breach at Maraunot could lead to rapid escape of lake water into an area of abundant unconsolidated pyroclastic deposits (figure 35). Such an event would threaten upriver towns as well as the larger Botolan, Zambales (population ~40,000).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Digital terrain map of the NW Pinatubo quadrant, showing the Maraunot Notch and the contiguous Maraunot-Balin-Baquero-Bucau river system. Botolan town proper and upriver villages are shown. Digital elevations are from the PHIVOLCS-GIS lab. Sources include USGS (1991), Philippine Bureau of Mines (1983), and Fire and Mud (1996). Courtesy PHIVOLCS.

The beheaded upper Maraunot river sits on the NW flank (figure 36) and flows 15 km NW into the Balin-Baquero river. Lahars have long threatened to inundate Botolan town proper. As with the 1991 pyroclastic flows, lahars obliterated villages in the Balin-Baquero and Bucao valleys (e.g. Villar, Burgos, and Poonbato).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Oblique aerial photograph showing the Pinatubo crater, the Maraunot Notch, and the Maraunot-Bucao river system (looking NW) as seen in 2000. Photo courtesy of S. Suto, PHIVOLCS.

Notch and dam characteristics. The valley of the Maraunot Notch contains 150-m-high walls composed of dome rocks and lithified block-and-ash deposits, cut by steep NW- and E-trending faults. Dome rocks also crop out within the first kilometer-long reach of the Maraunot channel and are inferred to form its bedrock. Less competent deposits fill the valley floor and edge off abruptly at the crater, damming the crater lake. This dam is approximately 85 m wide at the edge or crest but narrows as it slopes 8° down-valley to its toe at a prominence of dome rock 70 m away and 10 m below the crest (the nose).

Comprising the dam are a lower pre-1991 terrace of three boulder-rich breccia units and an upper sequence of 1991 deposits. Pre-1991 breccia units are poorly indurated and contain dense dacite-andesite clasts (median diameter, 10-15 cm) in coarse (B1) or fine (B2) ash or coarse sand (B3) matrix. Exposures of the dam in 1998 indicated that pre-1991 breccia may be as much as 14 m thick at the crest. The units also occur as in-channel terraces along the first 700-m reach of the Maraunot River. An overlying 1991 eruption sequence also occurs. It is unconsolidated and up to several meters thick, but has been gullied down to a meter thick along the channel thalweg, creating a 5 m-wide natural spillway at the dam's axis. Thus, unconsolidated 1991 eruption deposits at the dam's upper part left it vulnerable to rapid erosion and possible catastrophic breach.

A potential breach was expected on the occasion of intense rainfall. Dam failure was thought to be potentially initiated by erosion or headcutting of 1991 deposits where the valley narrows or "noses" and the channel drops. The removal of material would lead to increasing flow perimeter and head, which would increase discharge and weaken the dam. Discharge would escalate into a tremendous rush of water, accelerating erosion headward in a runaway process that culminated in dam failure. This same process has been documented in numerous cases of overtopped natural and man-made dams that have breached.

In the worst case, a 10- to 20-m-depth of the channel dam corresponding to the vertical gap between the crest and shallow channel bedrock could have been breached, releasing lake volumes of 28 x 106 to 55 x 106 m3. For a 10- to 20-m-deep breach, estimated peak discharges at the breach in such a circumstance are 3,000 and 11,000 m3/s. The breakout flow would be expected to erode and incorporate pyroclastic-flow and lahar sediments at the mid- to lower reaches of the Maraunot River, causing it to bulk up 3-6 times. Resulting large lahars could reach 3- to 7-fold larger distances than in previous typhoons (e.g. 1993). Faced with this hazard, PHIVOLCS proposed in early August 2001 to trench across the channel dam. This formed the core element of a rapid mitigation plan that included information drives, evacuation of risk areas, and lahar watches.

Trenching took place during 23 August-5 September 2001. The bulk of the trench was manually dug by an 80-man crew using pick axes and shovels and, later, by sluicing with a portable 50 m-long pressure hose. Excavation followed the channel thalweg or the natural spillway from crest to toe of the dam. The fully-excavated trench was 70 m long, 4 m wide, and nearly 3.5 m deep. It contained a 1-m-wide and 1.5-m-deep inner terrace that resulted from belated prioritization of depth over width (figures 37 and 38). Its bottom was originally graded ~2%. At the mouth it sloped steeply into 5 m-long plug that confined the lake until its release. In the end, about 700 m3 of material was excavated. On 4 September, observers were stationed at four sites. Evacuation of Botolan began the following day in anticipation of potential lahars.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Oblique photo of Pinatubo's Maraunot Trench looking NE, taken the day before the channel was opened. Inset shows the mouth on 1 September 2001, ~ 2 m above the lake level; bottom lefthand inset is the profile of the trench. Courtesy PHIVOLCS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. View showing of the mouth and the terraced inner geometry of the Pinatubo's Maraunot Trench, 6 September 2001. Courtesy PHIVOLCS.

On 6 September, with a 10-cm-head of water, the plug was removed by sluicing. At 0653, after less than 1.25 hours of sluicing, lake water spill into the trench commenced, but discharge remained sluggish in the first four hours (~0.03 m3/s). Political developments led to the trench being left in a state that thwarted rapid, planned breaching.

Monitoring the newly opened trench. From 6 September to 5 November, local rainfall and outflow conditions and changes in configuration of the Maraunot trench were monitored. An estimated 4.4 x 106 m3 (~86,000 m3/day) of rainwater entered the crater between 6 September and 5 November. In response, discharge across the trench fluctuated but rarely exceeded 1 m3/s under a lake head generally under 1 m. The total water output at the trench was roughly 3 x 106 m3 (~59,000 m3/day) for the same period.

Time-series profiles of the trench floor revealed a total 1.5 m of downcutting in the period 8 September-21 October, an average of ~3.5 cm/day. As the terminus lowered close to bedrock and precipitation waned, however, the floor more or less stabilized, as did the trench's mouth-to-terminus elevation drop of 2.2 m. No substantial lateral erosion occurred at the 5-15 reach or in the first 30 m reach between 6 September and 5 November. Nevertheless, there was significant lateral erosion of as much as 2 m at the 55-65 m reaches and beyond. Erosion was attributed largely to the steeper channel and more turbulent flow at the trench's terminal reaches.

The pre-1991 breccia matrix eroded with vertical scour experienced uniformly across the entire floor and lateral scour (sidecutting) confined to the terminal reaches. Matrix erosion resulted in armoring of the trench floor with dense boulders. This partly accounted for restrained vertical scouring.

Trenching impacts to the lake breakout problem. Although the trench did not trigger a rapid breach as PHIVOLCS originally intended, the monitoring determined that the armoring provided by coarse pre-1991 breccia limited vertical scouring of the dam. Lateral matrix erosion and bank collapse were considered to deliver even further armor to the trench bed, as well as some sideways expansion of the channel.

Trenching by itself had significantly reduced the breakout hazard. The lake was averted from growing an extra 11 x 106 m3 and relieved of another 3 x 106 m3 with a trench now draining it. This minimized the magnitude of lake breakout. Had natural overtopping been allowed to occur under sustained intense rainfall, initial outflow could have easily scoured a wider channel across the loose 1991 deposits, attaining discharge rates possibly too high for pre-1991 breccia to counteract with armoring.

Geologic Background. Prior to 1991 Pinatubo volcano was a relatively unknown, heavily forested lava dome complex located 100 km NW of Manila with no records of historical eruptions. The 1991 eruption, one of the world's largest of the 20th century, ejected massive amounts of tephra and produced voluminous pyroclastic flows, forming a small, 2.5-km-wide summit caldera whose floor is now covered by a lake. Caldera formation lowered the height of the summit by more than 300 m. Although the eruption caused hundreds of fatalities and major damage with severe social and economic impact, successful monitoring efforts greatly reduced the number of fatalities. Widespread lahars that redistributed products of the 1991 eruption have continued to cause severe disruption. Previous major eruptive periods, interrupted by lengthy quiescent periods, have produced pyroclastic flows and lahars that were even more extensive than in 1991.

Information Contacts: Ma. Antonia V. Bornas and theQuick Response Team, Geology and Geophysics Research and Development Division, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, C.P. Garcia Ave., University of the Philippines Campus, Diliman 1101, Quezon City, Philippines.


Semeru (Indonesia) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Semeru

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Elevated explosive activity continues; evacuation on 30 December 2002

Higher-than-normal seismic and explosive activity occurred at Semeru during June-September 2002 (BGVN 27:09). During 9 September-29 December, activity continued to be higher than normal. Seismicity was dominated by explosions and avalanche earthquakes (table 10). Throughout the report period, a white-gray ash plume rose 400-500 m high above the Jonggring Seloko crater rim. There were eight explosions on 23 December, one explosion on 25 December, seven explosions on 26 December, eight explosions on 27 December, and another seven explosions on 29 December.

Table 10. Earthquakes recorded at Semeru during 9 September 2002-1 January 2003. "*" indicates that the report was part of a special report issued by VSI and may break the sequence of weekly reports. Courtesy VSI.

Date Volcanic A-type Volcanic B-type Explosion Avalanche Tremor Tectonic Pyroclastic Flow Flood/lahar
09 Sep-15 Sep 2002 1 -- 640 57 0 2 -- --
16 Sep-22 Sep 2002 1 -- 527 32 4 6 -- --
23 Sep-29 Sep 2002 0 -- 483 24 13 2 -- --
30 Sep-06 Oct 2002 0 -- 602 13 1 7 -- --
07 Oct-13 Oct 2002 -- -- 548 27 1 4 -- --
14 Oct-20 Oct 2002 1 -- 493 20 2 4 -- --
21 Oct-27 Oct 2002 -- 1 561 27 -- 6 -- --
28 Oct-03 Nov 2002 -- -- 430 3 -- -- -- --
04 Nov-10 Nov 2002 -- -- 528 34 2 2 -- --
11 Nov-18 Nov 2002 -- -- 273 27 -- 1 -- --
02 Dec-08 Dec 2002 -- -- 474 13 7 3 3 --
09 Dec-15 Dec 2002 -- -- 513 6 1 1 1 --
16 Dec-22 Dec 2002 -- -- 606 6 1 -- 1 --
03 Dec-16 Dec 2002* 0 0 967 19 8 3 4 0
17 Dec-30 Dec 2002* 0 1 1085 49 2 6 6 3
23 Dec-29 Dec 2002 -- 1 479 43 2 6 3 4
31 Dec 2002* -- -- 83 (47 mm max. amp.) 30 (2 mm max. amp.) 1 (3 mm amp., 80-sec. duration) -- -- 1
01 Jan 2003* -- 3 (2-6 mm amp., 11-12 sec. duration) 88 (36 mm max. amp.) 18 (4 mm max. amp.) 1 (1 mm max. Amp., 60 sec. duration) -- -- --

On 25 December, a pyroclastic flow traveled 2.5 km and entered the Besuk Kembar river. On 27 December lava avalanches traveled 250 m toward Besuk Kembar. On 29 December a 5 km pyroclastic flow occurred. The same day during 1700-2015 a lahar flowed along Besuk Kembar closer to Supit village. Early on the morning of 30 December residents of Supit village were evacuated. The same day at 0720 a pyroclastic flow traveled 2.0 km toward Besuk Kembar and at 1000 a pyroclastic flow traveled 4.0 km, approaching Supit village. Semeru remained at Alert Level 2 (on a scale of 1-4).

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

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


Stromboli (Italy) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Landslides on 30 December cause two tsunamis; damage in nearby villages

Following heightened seismicity during June-July 2002 that culminated in an explosion on 24 July (BGVN 27:07), major activity lessened until late December.

On 28 December, an effusive eruption started at the base of Crater 1 of the NE Crater in the summit area. This eruption ended on 29 December and a helicopter-borne thermal camera survey that day revealed three lava flows that had spread in the eastern Sciara del Fuoco and had reached the sea. Along the coast, the joined flows were ~300 m wide, but were no longer being fed.

Visibility improved on 30 December, when a new survey found an eruptive fissure running NE. The fissure started from the base of Crater 1 at ~700 m elevation and spread down to ~600 m elevation, along a length of ~200 m. On 30 December observers saw a ~200-m-long lava flow emitted from the base of the fissure, spreading in the upper Sciara del Fuoco into a small depression.

Landslides and tsunami. On 30 December at 1315 and 1322 two landslides formed along the Sciara del Fuoco. They reached the sea accompanied by fine (0.1 mm grain-size) wet dust falling on the SE flank of the island (from rock collisions during the landslides). The volume of the first landslide was estimated at ~6 x 106 m3 of rock while the second was smaller at ~5 x 106 m3 of rock. These landslides detached the lava from the 28 December eruption along the slope together with a large portion of the ground below.

The large volume of rock crashing into the sea caused two tsunamis, each with waves several meters high. The waves spread onto the villages of Stromboli and Ginostra damaging buildings and boats and injuring several people (according to news reports, six people were evacuated by helicopter and taken to two hospitals on Sicily). Large waves were reported on the northern coast of Sicily, 60 km S of Stromboli. The two separate landslides were formed from two distinct bodies of rock, and left a ridge on the Sciara del Fuoco wall between them. This ridge may collapse in the future; its volume is estimated to be similar to that of the first landslide.

As of 6 January 2003, the effusive eruption and thin lava flows continued along the Sciara del Fuoco. Two vents located at ~500 m and ~300 m elevation in the middle of the Sciara del Fuoco were feeding two narrow flows that merged and reached the sea. Occasional small landslides from the unstable walls of the Sciara covered the lava flows with a thin talus. Concern over another major landslide had diminished due to several small-volume rockfalls from the walls of the depression. The summit craters had not shown any explosive activity since the start of the eruption on 28 December, and no earthquakes were recorded by the indigenous seismic network. Two shocks recorded by INGV seismic stations were directly related to the spreading of the two landslides on the Sciara del Fuoco.

Previous tsunamis at Stromboli occurred in 1930, 1944, and 1954. These were related either to paroxysmal eruptive activity, to landslides along the Sciara del Fuoco, or to pyroclastic flows, but not associated with lava flow venting.

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

Information Contacts: Sonia Calvari, Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV); Sezione di Catania (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/); Stromboli On-Line (URL: http://www.stromboli.net/).


Tungurahua (Ecuador) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Tungurahua

Ecuador

1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Summary of 2002 activity includes several episodes of intense seismicity

This report presents a summary of activity throughout 2002. During 2002 several episodes of intense seismic activity occurred that shared certain characteristics: clusters of long-period (LP) earthquakes, tremor related to ash emissions, and an increase in VT events on some occasions. Magmatic intrusions during January-March 2002, were generally preceded by LP clusters with dominate frequencies of 3.8 Hz with some oscillating around 1.5-1.6 Hz. Following these clusters, increased tremor occurred, some related to the emission of gas and ash. Eruptive activity included explosions and Strombolian blasts.

In April, activity changed, LP clusters ceased including events with a dominant frequency of 3.8 Hz and began to contain frequencies of ~6 Hz. Since June, VT events seemed to precede LP events or tremor episodes. Precursors of magmatic activity changed slightly. In almost every case, fewer precursory events were registered. Instituto Geofisica (IG) stated that the present eruptive process could be more uncertain than before. In September, the acceleration of processes seemed to indicate variations in internal conditions, such as changes in magma within the conduit, increased temperatures, diminishing percentages of crystals, lower SiO2, and addition of new gases.

During October-November there was none of the intense tremor activity that usually accompanies new magma injections. Energy remained at very low levels. IG stated that a large number of VT events and their decreased influence on volcanic activity could indicate a low contribution of magmatic gases that could be mobilized and released outside the volcano by means of explosions, continuous ash emissions, or Strombolian activity as previously observed. Further details of 2002 activity follow.

Detailed activity. During the first 2 weeks of January 2002 a high number of low-energy LP earthquakes took place. Some of the LP's were associated with emissions of mainly steam with a moderate magmatic gas concentration. During the last 2 weeks of the month the number of LP's increased remarkably. The LP's occurred in clusters, most of which were preceded by VT events at depths of 4-11 km beneath the summit. Beginning on 15 January it was possible to see a glow coming from the crater, accompanied by the emission of gases. While the emissions diminished during the last week of January, explosions increased in number and magnitude. By the end of January sporadic episodes of tremor and light ashfall occurred in Ambato and Baños. These seismic characteristics, along with frequent roaring noises that occurred with the explosions, indicated possible degassing of a small volume of magma that entered the conduit beginning on 15 January.

During February magma injection apparently disturbed the system, and new gases ascended. Steam and ash emissions occurred, as well as the possible formation of a lava lake. Strombolian activity during 4-18 February was so strong that pyroclastic flows (PF's) descended the WNW flank along the Juive and Cusua valleys. Seismicity was characterized by LP's, tremor related to emissions, a few volcano-tectonic events (VT's), and small explosions.

During the first 3 weeks of March there was Strombolian activity with emissions of lava, gas, and ash, and almost-continuous roaring noises. During the third week of March, activity diminished in intensity until it disappeared almost completely by the last week of the month. Although incandescence was observed at night, it was not as intense as that observed in previous months. Ashfall occurred in Ambato, Quero, Latacunga, Cusua, Chacauco, Penipe, Peula, Patate, Pelileo, Cotaló, and Pillate.

Most of the LP's registered during April were small and rather sporadic, but frequency content changed on 17 April from 4-4.8 Hz to 6-8 Hz. On 22 and 23 April, VT events at 6-8 km depths were followed by strong gas-and-ash emissions. These became quite intense during 24-30 April.

Activity was quite intense during 12-13 and 28-30 May. On 13 May a total of 8 explosions took place, preceded by an increase in the number of LP events. The same day ashfall occurred in Ambato and Baños. On 24 May VT activity took place just before an increase in explosive activity. During 17-26 May explosions were preceded by VT events, and by 30 and 31 May were preceded by LP events. As of the second week of May Strombolian activity, roaring noises, and incandescence in the crater was intense and almost constant. Lava was present in the crater, accompanied by tremor and ongoing emissions. During the last week of the month a continuous gas-ash column drifted mainly W.

During the last week of June intense tremor registered. The tremor occurred for 3 days and contained dominant frequencies of 2.2-2.7 and 1.5 Hz. Tremor lasted up to an hour with an amplitude that saturated seismographs. Many LP's and explosions accompanied the tremor. During June VT events (4-7 km deep) occurred just before tremor and LP events. Several LP's and tremor episodes preceded explosive events. On average the LP's and tremor occurred 2-4 hours before an explosion.

Explosions occurred during the first week of July. During the first 2 weeks, deep VT earthquakes (5-10 km deep) occurred at a rate of ~1 per day and there was an increase in the number of LP's and hybrid earthquakes. VT and LP events preceded new cycles of explosions, not immediately as had previously been noticed, but in this case by about 15 days. After the new cycle of explosive activity began, most of the LP events had frequencies of 1.5-2.5 Hz. Some VT's preceded the LP's and had frequencies of 3.8 and 1.5 Hz. During the second week intense roars were heard, and increasing ash emissions mainly drifted W. There was strong persistent incandescence, and frequent explosions produced loud noises and ash columns 2-4 km above the crater.

During the first 2 weeks of July, several episodes of Strombolian activity were observed, along with continuous but light ash emissions that were accompanied by roaring noises. Ash was deposited in a thin N-S strip between Hualcango and San Pedro de Sabañag (S of Quero), extending toward the W and Igualata. Ash accumulated up to 2.5 mm thick in "El Mirador" at Cerro Arrayán. Activity decreased toward the end of the month, when small plumes were emitted.

During 5-13 September, 8-10 VT earthquakes registered. These preceded the harmonic tremor seen during 13-21 September. Strong explosions and ash emissions also occurred. Ashfalls were noted in distant cities such as Píllaro and Riobamba, located ~30 km NW and SW, respectively.

During the first week of October explosions with reduced displacements greater than 10 cm2 took place and ashfall occurred in Pillate, Ambato, Cusua, Penipe, Altar, Bayusig, Matus Alto, and Matus Bajo. During the second and last week of the month VT events preceded explosions. During the last week of the month incandescence and roaring noises were heard. Three ashfalls were noted, two in Guadalupe and one (on 29 October) in Baños (up to 1 mm), Runtún, Pondoa, and Pintitin.

On 10 and 26 November, two peaks of LP activity occurred that were very close to the peaks of VT activity. The first LP peak preceded the first VT peak by two days. This was unusual because the VT peak normally preceded the LP peak. The second LP peak took place around the same time as the VT peak, indicating that the circulation of fluids was almost simultaneous. Incandescence was observed before the VT activity on 26 November. An increase of LP activity seemed to be correlated with the increase of sounds emitted by the volcano. Frequent incandescence in the crater preceded a VT peak.

Magmatic intrusions during 2002. Five magmatic intrusions (figure 18) apparently occurred during (1) 15-29 January, (2) 15-30 April, 12-13, 24-30 May, (3) 28-30 June, (4) 3-13 July, and (5) 5-13 September. Two periods of intense activity also occurred during 8-13 and 21-27 October, and on 10 and 26 November. During April-June magmatic intrusions did not occur along with a peak of seismic activity, but VT's, hybrids, and emissions all occurred, though in smaller numbers than registered in previous years.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Monthly earthquakes at Tungurahua during January 1999-November 2002. Peaks indicated with arrows correspond to periods of inferred magmatic intrusion. Courtesy IG.

Tremor activity was an essential indicator of these magmatic intrusions (figure 19). Later peaks of tremor activity were always during periods of seismicity related to magmatic intrusions, although it was not clear whether the June peak was related to a possible intrusion. Tremor energy was quite variable.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Tremor energy at Tungurahua, 14 September 1999 through 14 November 2002. Many of these tremor episodes were related to small emissions of gas or ash. Arrows indicate 2002 peaks. Courtesy IG.

Deformation measurements. During 2002 EDM measurements on the N flank showed a slight tendency of inflation. This inflation was first noticed during the first half of 2000. During 2002 a shortening of the distance occurred between prisms and reference bases, between -2 and -6 cm with respect to values observed before the reactivation of the volcano. Although there were variations in measurements taken during the year, the overall tendency has been inflation of 4 to 6 cm with respect to that during 1998-2000.

Data from inclinometers RETU and JUIV show a positive drift of the radial axis of station RETU (elevation 4,000 m). The drift would mean a deflation in the NW sector. During September 2002, when numerous explosions occurred, inclinometer movements changed.

During 2002 measurements of the inclinometer at station JUIV5 were stable until October 2002, when there were disturbances in the radial axis and to a greater degree in the tangential axis. Since 10 November both axes showed significant changes of up to 200 µrad. The negative tendency indicated a progressive inflation. This change agreed exactly with the first LP peak on 10 November. The change lasted until 20 November and included the greater peak of VT activity during 2002. After 20 November, both axes became stabilized. The oscillations seen in this slope between September and October occurred simultaneously with other activity, possibly representing slow but continuous magma movement in the lower parts of the volcano.

Geochemistry. SO2 flux measurements determined by COSPEC during 1999-2002 were generally less than 2,000 tons/day (figure 20). The peaks took place during March and October, with values reaching 3,000-5,000 tons/day. These high values seemed to correspond with the magma injections of December 2001and January and September 2002. Other episodes of seismic activity related to magmatic injection seemed to precede the peaks in SO2 emission. The high point in August ("3 y 4" on figure 14), followed increased seismicity during June and July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. COSPEC-measured SO2 emissions at Tungurahua during 1999-2002. The arrows indicate the peaks of SO2 that occurred during May and August 2002.

Thermal waters generally increased in temperature ~0.5°C. A small reduction in pH occurred, with a tendency toward alkaline values. During 1998-99, when the seismicity increased, pH also increased, probably because of the magmatic unrest at the time. Conductivity did not change, and neither did geochemical characteristics such as abundances of sulfates, chlorides, and bicarbonates. IG stated that it could not yet be explained how an increase in seismicity seemed to shift the pH of thermal waters (figure 21).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Temperature and pH of thermal waters at Tungurahua during 1994-2002. Courtesy IG.

Future scenarios. Since 1999 Tungurahua has shown frequent, moderate volcanism with occasional lava emissions. This period can be divided into 13 magmatic intrusions of similar characteristics, although the last three injections displayed slight differences. Starting in 1916 Tungurahua displayed intermittent activity until 1918, with periods of tranquility and greater activity than at present.

The present process has been characterized by LP clusters just before and during eruptions. During October and November 2002, VT events usually preceded cycles of increased activity. Strong incandescence on 2 December was not accompanied by strong explosions, Strombolian activity, or lava emissions.

Geologic Background. Tungurahua, a steep-sided andesitic-dacitic stratovolcano that towers more than 3 km above its northern base, is one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes. Three major edifices have been sequentially constructed since the mid-Pleistocene over a basement of metamorphic rocks. Tungurahua II was built within the past 14,000 years following the collapse of the initial edifice. Tungurahua II itself collapsed about 3000 years ago and produced a large debris-avalanche deposit and a horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the west, inside which the modern glacier-capped stratovolcano (Tungurahua III) was constructed. Historical eruptions have all originated from the summit crater, accompanied by strong explosions and sometimes by pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached populated areas at the volcano's base. Prior to a long-term eruption beginning in 1999 that caused the temporary evacuation of the city of Baños at the foot of the volcano, the last major eruption had occurred from 1916 to 1918, although minor activity continued until 1925.

Information Contacts: Patty Mothes and Indira Molina, Geophysical Institute (Instituto Geofísico, IG), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Apartado 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador.


Witori (Papua New Guinea) — December 2002 Citation iconCite this Report

Witori

Papua New Guinea

5.576°S, 150.516°E; summit elev. 724 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Dacite lava flows, flattened forest, deformation, and faulting

Additional information about Mt. Pago's recent eruption (BGVN 27:07-27:09) has been provided by members of the U.S. Geological Survey's Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP). The team donated to the GVP archives an extensive suite of digital photographs (still and video) taken during August-October 2002. The photographers included the helicopter pilot Alan Cameron (Heli Niugini), and VDAP members Andy Lockhart, Jeff Marso, and Elliot Endo.

In terms of the basic distribution of eruptive products, the August-October 2002 photos (figures 7-16) appeared similar to those shown in earlier reports (BGVN 27:07-27:09). All photos were taken from a helicopter, often during routine observation flights provided by the West New Britain Provincial Government. For scale on some of the photos, Cameron estimated that tree heights ranged from 5-30 m, with the taller trees in the low-lying areas and most of the ones in the photos at the shorter end of that range.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. A false-color Landsat satellite image labeling some key features at Mt. Pago and its vicinity. N is upwards (parallel to the grid lines) and, for scale, Pago lies ~20 km S of the coast at Cape Hoskins. Although the settlement at Hoskins is labeled, several others also lie along the coast, including some E of Lolo volcano. Taken by LANDSAT 7 on 26 May 2002 (path 94, row 64) and provided courtesy of USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. An overview of Pago's N sector taken on 7 October 2002 and showing middle to lower flanks and caldera. The shot was taken from the NW, sighting cross-wise to the aligned chain of recent eruptive vents. Freshly erupted lavas have thus far remained confined within the caldera. The extruded massive dacitic lavas include two lava tongues flowing towards the viewer and a larger lava flow ponded in the distance, banked up against older (1911-18) intra-caldera lavas and the caldera's topographic margins. The wide zone of discolored vegetation continues well beyond both the caldera's topographic margin and the photo's left-hand edge. This and several other features such as a zone of deformation and faulting (lower center) appear less distinct here but are highlighted on later figures. Courtesy of USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Upper NE flanks of Pago highlighting the broad zone of denuded and knocked-down vegetation there. Most of the trees have been laid flat, and there exist occasional cleared-out gullies resembling avalanche chutes, washouts, and lahar paths. Courtesy of the USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. A 16 September 2002 view of Pago, as seen looking SSE towards the summit along the aligned, radial-trending chain of vents. Massive lava flows lie in the foreground. Their extrusive vent sits along the main fissure below the lowest cone, in an area of local degassing and conspicuous yellow deposits. Provided courtesy of USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. A 13 September 2002 photo of Pago's middle-to-upper flanks, including the summit crater and the higher-elevation radial-vent areas. This photo was taken from the NW; in many other photos taken during August-October 2002 white steam plumes tended to obscure the ground. Note the sub-linear swaths of denuded vegetation, particularly two swaths in the left foreground, and the broad area of discolored vegetation in the background behind the fresh lava. The swaths denote the surface traces of recent faults with significant offset, places where existing trees had fallen over. Observation flights in mid- to late September disclosed still further visible, meter-length deformations in this area. Observers inferred that these features reflected a graben formed in the upper portion of a cryptodome. Courtesy of USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. A close-up photo of Pago's ravaged summit crater taken from the N on 16 September 2002. Despite their proximity to the crater, some portions of the cone's flanks appear relatively undisturbed. Although difficult to see at the limited scale and resolution of this rendition, the original image clearly shows that a band of denuded trees remained standing within the highly disturbed zone along the breach. Many trees in a zone farther downslope were knocked flat. Courtesy of USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. A closer view of a portion of Pago's NW outer flanks (seen in figure 3 and part of figure 5) centered on Pago's zone of intense deformation and faulting. The traces of two sub-parallel faults offset the intervening area (D) downward, forming a graben, which crosses the steep sides of older, tree-covered lavas. Farther upslope, the two faults intersect the steaming, lowermost cone (C) at several points (D'' and D'''). Downslope, the two faults join a larger system, which seems to curve back towards the massive lavas (E and E'). The massive lavas (A) discharge at the surface at a point just below A'. Courtesy of USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. Preliminary structural interpretation by Elliot Endo of Pago's zone of intense faulting and deformation. In this interpretation, the upslope area contains a graben; the downslope area a thrust or a region of mass wasting. Courtesy of Elliot Endo, USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. A closer view showing Pago's graben deformation feature. Earliest photographs available (~ August 15) show this feature in the early stage of development. The photo was taken looking E on 16 September 2002. For scale, mature trees midway along the fault are 10-15 m in length. Courtesy of the USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. Closeup showing the extreme surface roughness of the recent Pago dacite extrusions appearing in an area near the lower vent. Large fractures sub-parallel to the vent developed during extrusion. Offsets along fractures were estimated to be as much as 5-7 m and the height of numerous adjacent points on the lava flow's surface easily varied by a meter. Courtesy of the USGS-VDAP.
Figure (see Caption) Movie 1. Digital movie of Pago filmed from a helicopter on 6 October 2002 showing the zone of deformation and faulting followed by a views of the lava flows and vents with the summit crater in the distance towards the SSE. Courtesy of the USGS-VDAP. (30 seconds, 10.7 MB MPEG)

During all or part of this August-October 2002 interval, lavas erupted at high rates: 10-20 m3/s. The crystal-poor dacitic lavas were roughly the same as those produced during the ancestral caldera-forming eruption. The same composition had also been consistent for the intervening lavas. By or before the end of October the current eruption had emitted ~60 x 106 m3 to ~100 x 106 m3 of magma. There was some evidence of magma mixing. Available evidence suggested that the magma rose in a dike from source depths of 6-8 km. A vital question was whether a gas-rich eruptive phase might start.

Highlighted in the August-October photos were recent faults and associated surface deformation. These had been documented by Chris McKee (Geophysical Observatory, PNG) who found that these features covered an area on Pago's mid-to-lower NW flanks. In many cases the faults left conspicuous trails marked by swaths of fallen trees across the rainforest (figures 5 and 8). Despite their clear expressions and documentation, a thermal-imaging device found that the faults and adjacent areas generally lacked anomalous high-temperature signals (Steve Saunders, RVO). The obvious exceptions to this occurred where faults cut across either vent areas and their cones or across massive lava flows in the caldera (figure 7). The inferred cause of the faulting and associated deformation was a shallow magmatic intrusion.

The USGS contributors expressed gratitude to their colleagues affiliated with Rabaul Volcano Observatory in Papua New Guinea and the West New Britain Provincial Government who had helped them with field and logistical support.

At the close of 2002 Alan Cameron (Heli Niugini) wrote Endo the following brief note. "Since you left, interest in Mt. Pago seems to have diminished; I have not flown over it for some time. Yesterday I flew a [medical evacution] past it, and smoke, etc. was still rising but the weather was bad and I did not get closer than about a half mile [(~1 km)], so I don't know what it is doing. Hoskins [airport] is still closed to aircraft, and the Talasea [air]strip is often closed due to water over it and the soft surface, so air travel is somewhat unreliable from here."

In the first week of February, Cameron sent another message. "The last time I had a close look at Pago was about a month ago. It still looked to be fairly active in most respects, however there is not much emission of ash now and the lava seems to have slowed, but I think this is on account of the flow being restricted in its exit to the [S]. To my eye it seems that the lava deposit may be increasing in height due to that restriction . . . . I do recall that there is still a great deal of heat from the lava ( I could feel its effect on the helicopter), which supports my feeling that it is building vertically and the lava is still flowing."

Reference. Cooke, R.J.S., 1981, Eruptions at Pago volcano, 1911-1933 (Compiled by R.W. Johnson), in Cooke-Ravian Volume of Volcanological Papers (editor, R.W. Johnson) Geological Survey of Papua New Guinea Memoir 10, 135-46; Printed in Hong Kong by Libra Press Ltd.

Geologic Background. The 5.5 x 7.5 km Witori caldera on the northern coast of central New Britain contains the young historically active cone of Pago. The Buru caldera cuts the SW flank of Witori volcano. The gently sloping outer flanks of Witori volcano consist primarily of dacitic pyroclastic-flow and airfall deposits produced during a series of five major explosive eruptions from about 5600 to 1200 years ago, many of which may have been associated with caldera formation. The post-caldera Pago cone may have formed less than 350 years ago. Pago has grown to a height above that of the Witori caldera rim, and a series of ten dacitic lava flows from it covers much of the caldera floor. The youngest of these was erupted during 2002-2003 from vents extending from the summit nearly to the NW caldera wall.

Information Contacts: Elliot Endo, John Ewert, C. Dan Miller, Andy Lockhart, Jeff Marso, and Chris Newhall, U.S. Geological Survey, David A. Johnston Cascades Volcano Observatory, Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP), 1300 SE Cardinal Ct, Building 10, Suite 100, Vancouver, WA 98683, USA; Alan Cameron, Chief Pilot, Heli Niugini Kimbe, Box 404, Kimbe WNB, Papua New Guinea; Ima Itikarai and Steve Saunders, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Papua New Guinea; Chris Mckee, Port Moresby Geophysical Observatory, PO Box 323, Port Moresby NCD, Papua New Guinea; Hugh Davies, Earth Sciences, University of Papua New Guinea, PO Box 414, University Post Office NCD, Papua New Guinea.

Atmospheric Effects

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

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

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/).