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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

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

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

Nevados de Chillan (Chile) Many explosions, ash plumes, lava and pyroclastic flows June-December 2019

Asosan (Japan) Intermittent ash plumes and elevated SO2 emissions continue during July-December 2019

Tinakula (Solomon Islands) Intermittent thermal activity suggests ongoing eruption, July-December 2019

Ibu (Indonesia) Frequent ash plumes and small lava flows in the crater through December 2019

Lateiki (Tonga) Eruption 13-22 October 2019 creates new island, which disappears by mid-January 2020

Aira (Japan) Ongoing explosions with ejecta and ash plumes, along with summit incandescence, during July-December 2019

Suwanosejima (Japan) Explosions, ash emissions, and summit incandescence in July-December 2019

Barren Island (India) Thermal anomalies and small ash plumes during February-April 2019 and September 2019-January 2020

Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) Explosion producing an ash plume and pyroclastic surge resulted in fatalities and injuries on 9 December 2019

Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) Frequent gas and some ash emissions during May-December 2019 with some hot avalanches



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

Sangeang Api

Indonesia

8.2°S, 119.07°E; summit elev. 1912 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/).


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

Shishaldin

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667 USA (URL: https://avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://dggs.alaska.gov/); Simon Plank, German Aerospace Center (DLR) German Remote Sensing Data Center, Geo-Risks and Civil Security, Oberpfaffenhofen, 82234 Weßling (URL: https://www.dlr.de/eoc/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-5242/8788_read-28554/sortby-lastname/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Nevados de Chillan (Chile) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Nevados de Chillan

Chile

36.868°S, 71.378°W; summit elev. 3180 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Many explosions, ash plumes, lava and pyroclastic flows June-December 2019

Nevados de Chillán is a complex of late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcanoes in the Chilean Central Andes. An eruption started with a phreatic explosion and ash emission on 8 January 2016 from a new crater (Nicanor) on the E flank of the Nuevo crater, which lies on the NW flank of the cone of the large stratovolcano referred to as Volcán Viejo. Strombolian explosions and ash emissions continued throughout 2016 and 2017; a lava dome within the Nicanor crater was confirmed in early January 2018. Explosions and pyroclastic flows continued during 2018 and the first half of 2019. This report covers continuing activity from June-December 2019 when ongoing explosive events produced ash plumes, lava, and pyroclastic flows. Information for this report is provided primarily by Chile's Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN)-Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), and by the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Nevados de Chillán was relatively quiet during June 2019, generating only a small number of explosions with ash plumes. This activity continued during July; some events produced incandescent ejecta around the crater. By August a distinct increase in activity was noticeable; ash plumes were larger and more frequent, and incandescent ejecta rose hundreds of meters above the summit a number of times. Frequent explosions were typical during September; the first of several blocky lava flows emerged from the crater mid-month. Inflation that began in mid-July continued with several centimeters of both horizontal and vertical displacement. By October, pyroclastic flows often accompanied the explosive events in addition to the ash plumes, and multiple vents opened within the crater. Three more lava flows had appeared by mid-November; explosions continued at a high rate. Activity remained high at the beginning of December but dropped abruptly mid-month. MODVOLC measured three thermal alerts in September, two in October, seven in November, and six in December. This period of increased thermal activity closely matches the thermal anomaly data reported by the MIROVA project (figure 37), which included an increase at the end of August 2019 that lasted through mid-December before stopping abruptly. Several lava flows and frequent explosions with incandescent ejecta and pyroclastic flows were reported throughout the period of increased thermal activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. MIROVA thermal anomaly data for Nevados de Chillán from 3 February through December 2019 show low activity during June-August and increasing activity from August through mid-December. This correlates with ground and satellite observations of lava flows, incandescent explosions, ash plumes, and pyroclastic flows during the period of increased thermal activity. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during June-August 2019. Nevados de Chillán remained relatively quiet during June 2019 with a few explosions of ash. At the active Nicanor crater, located on the E flank of the Volcán Nuevo dome, predominantly white steam plumes were observed daily in the nearby webcams. The growth rate of the dome inside the crater was reported by SERNAGEOMIN as continuing at about 260 m3/day. They noted an explosion on 3 June; the Buenos Aires VAAC reported a puff of ash seen from the webcam drifting SE at 3.7 km altitude (figure 38). The webcam indicated sporadic weak emissions continuing that day and the next. Minor explosions were also reported on 7-8 June and included incandescence observed at night and ejecta deposited around the crater rim. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported a narrow ash plume drifting ENE in multispectral imagery under clear skies late on 7 June. The webcams showed sporadic emissions of ash at 3.4 km altitude on 19 June that dissipated rapidly.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Explosions at Nevados de Chillán on 3 (left) and 20 (right) June 2019 produced ash plumes that quickly dissipated in the strong winds. Courtesy of the SERNAGEOMIN Portezuelo webcam, Pehuenia Online (left) and Eco Bio Bio La Red Informativa (right).

Minor pulsating explosive activity continued during July 2019 with multiple occurrences of ash emissions. Ash emissions rose to 3.7 km altitude on 4 July and were seen in the SERNAGEOMIN webcam; the VAAC reported an emission on 8 July that rose to 4.3 km altitude and drifted SE. Monitoring stations near the complex recorded an explosive event early on 9 July; incandescence with gases and ejecta were deposited around the crater and an ash plume rose to 3.9 km and drifted SE. Small ash plumes from sporadic puffs on 12 July rose to 4.6 km altitude. An explosive event on 14 July also produced incandescent ejecta around the crater along with weak sporadic ash emissions. Single ash emissions on 18 (figure 39) and 22 July at 3.7 km altitude drifted ESE from summit before dissipating; another emission on 26 July was reported at 4.3 km altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Local news sources reported ash emissions at Nevados de Chillán on 18 July 2019. Courtesy of INF0SCHILE (left) and Radio Ñuble (right).

A distinct increase in the intensity and frequency of explosive activity was recorded during August 2019. SERNAGEOMIN noted ash emissions and explosions during 3-4 August in addition to the persistent steam plumes above the Nicanor crater (figure 40). The Buenos Aires VAAC reported a single puff on 3 August that was seen in the webcam rising to 3.9 km altitude and dissipating quickly. The next day a pilot reported an ash plume estimated at 5.5 km altitude drifting E. It was later detected in satellite imagery; the webcam revealed continuous emission of steam and gas with intermittent puffs of ash. SERNAGEOMIN issued a special report (REAV) on 6 August noting the increase in size and frequency of explosions, some of which produced dense ash plumes that rose 1.6 km above the crater along with incandescent ejecta. They also reported that satellite imagery indicated a 1.5-km-long lahar that traveled down the NNE flank as a result of the interaction of the explosive ejecta with the snowfall near the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Climbers captured video of a significant explosion at Nevados de Chillán on 4 August 2019. Courtesy of CHV Noticias.

Beginning on 9-10 August 2019, and continuing throughout the month, SERNAGEOMIN observed explosive nighttime activity with incandescent ejecta scattered around the crater rim along with moderate levels of seismicity each day. A diffuse ash plume was detected in satellite imagery by the VAAC on 9 August drifting NW at 4.9 km altitude. SERNAGEOMIN issued a new warning on 12-13 August that the recent increase in activity since the end of July suggested the injection of a new magmatic body that could lead to larger explosive events with pyroclastic and lava flows. They reported pyroclastic ejecta from multiple explosions on 13 August rising 765 and 735 m above the crater. Drone images taken between 4 and 12 August showed the destruction of the summit dome from multiple explosions with the Nicanor Crater (figure 41). The VAAC reported sporadic pulses of volcanic ash drifting N during 12-14 August, visible in satellite imagery estimated at 4.3 km altitude. By 17-18 August, they noted constant steam emissions interspersed with gray plumes during explosive activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Drone images taken at Nevados de Chillán between 4 and 12 August 2019 showed destruction of the dome caused by multiple explosions at the summit crater. Courtesy of Movisis.org Internacional.

An increase in seismicity, especially VT events, during 21-22 August 2019 resulted in multiple special REAV reports from SERNAGEOMIN. They noted on 21 August that an explosion produced gas emissions and pyroclastic material that rose 1,400 m above the crater; the next day material rose 450 m. That night, in addition to incandescent ejecta around the crater, they reported small high-temperature flows on the N flank which extended to the NNE flank a few days later. The VAAC reported pulses of ash plumes moving SE on 22 August at 4.3 km altitude. A faint ash cloud was visible in satellite imagery on 29 August drifting E at 3.7 km altitude (figure 42). The cloud was dissipating rapidly as it moved away from the summit. Sporadic ash emissions from intermittent explosions continued moving ESE then N and NE; they were reported daily through 5 September. They continued to rise in altitude to 3.9 km on 30 August, 4.3 km on 1 September, and 4.6 km on 3 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Incandescence at the summit of Nevados de Chillán and ashfall covering snow to the E was captured in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 29 August 2019. Courtesy of Copernicus EMS.

Activity during September-October 2019. Frequent explosions from Nicanor crater continued during September 2019, producing numerous ash plumes and small high-temperature flows along the NNE flank. A webcam detected a small lateral vent on the NNE flank about 50 m from the crater rim emitting gas and particulates on 2-3 September. Multiple explosions during 3-5 September were associated with gas and ash emissions and incandescent ejecta deposited around the crater rim (figure 43). The network of GNSS stations recording deformation of the volcanic complex confirmed on 3-4 September that inflation, which had been recorded since mid-July 2019, was continuing at a rate of about 1 cm/month. Blocks of incandescent ejecta from numerous explosions were observed rolling down the N flank on 6-7 September and the E flank the following night.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Activity at Nevados de Chillán on 3 September 2019 included ash and steam explosions (left) and incandescent ejecta at the summit (right). Courtesy of Carlos Bustos and SERNAGEOMIN webcams.

SERNAGEOMIN reported on 9-10 September that satellite imagery revealed a new surface deposit about 130 m long trending NNE from the center of crater. They reported an increase in the level of seismicity from moderate to high on 10-11 September and observed incandescent ejecta at the summit during several explosions (figure 44). During a flyover on 12 September scientists confirmed the presence of a new blocky lava flow emerging from Nicanor Crater and moving down the NNE flank of Nuevo volcano. The flow was about 600 m long, 100 m wide, and 5 m thick with a blocky surface and incandescent lava at the base within the active crater. Measurements with a thermal camera indicated a temperature around 800°C within the active crater, and greater than 100°C on the surface of the flow. Frequent high-energy explosions that day produced incandescent ejecta that could be seen from Las Trancas and Shangri-La (figure 45). Ashfall 0.5 cm thick was reported 2 km from the volcano to the SW. The flow was visible from the webcam located N of Nicanor on 16-17 September. Satellite imagery indicated the flow was about 550 m long and moving at a rate of about 21 m/day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. A blocky lava flow moved down the NNE flank of Nevados de Chillán on 11 September (left); incandescent ejecta covered the summit area the next night (right). Courtesy of EarthQuakesTime (left), Red Geocientifica de Chile (right) and SERNAGEOMIN Webcams.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. The SERNAGEOMIN Portezuelo webcam revealed the blocky lava flow, incandescent ejecta and ash emissions at Nevados de Chillán on 12 September 2019. Courtesy of American Earthquakes (left), PatoArias (right), and SERNAGEOMIN.

During 18-22 September 2019 multiple special reports of seismicity were released each day with incandescent ejecta, gas, and particulate emissions often observed at the summit crater; the lava flow remained active. On 24 September ashfall was reported about 15 km NW in communities including Las Trancas; small pyroclastic flows were observed the following day. Horizontal inflation of 2.4 cm was reported on 25 September, and vertical inflation was measured at 3.4 cm since mid-July. SERNAGEOMIN noted that while the frequency of explosions had increased, the energy released had decreased. Morphological changes in Nicanor crater suggested that it was growing at its SW edge and eroding the adjacent Arrau crater; the NE edge of the crater was unstable.

Plumes of steam and ash continued along with the explosions for the remainder of the month. During the night, incandescent ejecta was observed, and the low-velocity lava flow continued to move. Multiple VAAC reports were issued virtually every day of September. Pulses of ash were moving SE at 4.3 km altitude on 7-8 September. For most of the rest of the month sporadic emissions with minor amounts of ash were observed in either the webcam or satellite images at an altitude of 3.7 km, occasionally rising to 4.3 km. They drifted generally SE but varied somewhat with the changing winds. Continuous ash emissions were observed during 24-25 September that rose as high as 4.9 km altitude and drifted E, clearly visible in satellite imagery. After that, the altitude dropped back to 3.7 km and the plume was only faintly and intermittently visible in satellite imagery.

Low-altitude gray ash plumes were observed rising from Nicanor crater almost every day that weather permitted during October 2019. Incandescent ejecta was frequently observed at night. Beginning on 6-7 October, SERNAGEOM reported pyroclastic flows traveling short distances from the crater most days. They traveled 1.13 km down the NNE flank, 0.42 km down the NNW flank and 0.88 km down the SW flank. The blocky lava flow on the NNE flank was no longer active (figure 46). During 9-12 October, multiple special reports of increased seismic activity (REAVs) were issued each day. Inflation continued throughout the month. On 10 October the total horizontal deformation (since mid-July) was 3 cm, with a rate of movement a little over 1 cm/month; the total vertical displacement was 4.5 cm, with a rate of 1.93 cm/month during the previous 30 days.

In a special report issued on 11 October, SERNAGEOMIN mentioned that analysis of satellite imagery indicated a new emission center within the Nicanor crater adjacent to the dome vent active since December 2017 and to the lava flow of September. The new center was oval shaped with an E-W dimension of 60 m and a N-S dimension of 55 m, located about 90 m SE of the old, still active center, and was the site of the explosive activity reported since 30 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Drone footage posted 10 October 2019 from Nevados de Chillán shows steam emissions from the Nicanor crater and a blocky lava flow down NNE flank. The snow-covered cone in background is Volcan Baños. Courtesy of Volcanologia Chile and copyright by Nicolas Luengo V.

On 16 October a new blocky flow was observed on the NE flank of the Nicanor Crater; it was about 70 m long, moving about 30 m/day. By 21 October it had reached 130 m in length, and its rate of advance had slowed significantly. Beginning on 25 October seismicity decreased noticeably and much less surface activity was observed at the crater. Explosions at the end of the month produced steam plumes, gas emissions and minor pulsating ash emissions.

The Buenos Aires VAAC reported a puff of ash at 4.9 km altitude on 1 October moving SE. Continuous emission of steam and gas with sporadic puffs of ash that rose to around 3.7-4.3 km altitude were typical every day after that until 25 October usually drifting S or E; they were most often visible in the webcams, and occasionally visible in satellite imagery when weather conditions permitted. A diffuse plume of ash was detected on 16 October drifting SE at 4.6 km altitude. The VAAC reported incandescence visible at the summit in webcam images on 22 October; a significant daytime explosion on 24 October produced a large incandescent ash cloud (figure 47). The next day the VAAC detected weak pulses of ash plumes in satellite images extending E from the summit for 130 km. Intermittent ash emissions were reported drifting SE at 3.7-4.3 km each day from 29-31 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. A large incandescent ash plume at Nevados de Chillán on 24 October 2019 sent ejecta around the summit (left); a dense ash plume was produced during an explosion on 30 October 2019 (right). Courtesy of Cristian Farian (left) and SERNAGEOMIN (right); both images taken from the SERNAGEOMIN webcams.

Activity during November-December 2019. Moderate seismicity continued during November 2019 with recurrent episodes of pulsating gas and ash emissions. Incandescent ejecta was visible many nights that the weather conditions were favorable (figure 48). In the Daily Report (RAV) issued on 6 November, SERNAGEOMIN noted that the original 700-m-long blocky lava flow on the NNE flank active during September had been partly covered by another flow, about 350 m long. They also reported that pyroclastic density currents were observed in the area immediately around the crater extending in several directions. They extended 850 m down the SW flank, 670 m down the NW flank, 1,680 m down the N flank, and 440 m to the NNE.

Changes in the crater area indicated a growth of the SW edge of the Nicanor Crater, continuing to erode the Arrau crater, with the constant emission of gas, ash, and incandescent ejecta that produced plumes up to 1.8 km high. SERNAGEOMIN also observed activity from a vent at the NE edge of the crater that included gas emission and ejecta, but no lava flow. The fourth lava flow observed in recent months (L4) was identified on the NNE slope on 13 November adjacent to the earlier flows; it was about 70 m long and slowly advancing. By 19 November L4 consisted of two lobes and extended about 90 m from the edge of the Nicanor crater advancing at an average rate of 0.4 m/hour. The vent producing L4 was located about 60 m SSE of the vent that produced the earlier flows (L1, L2, and L3). By 28 November the flow had reached a length of 165 m and was no longer advancing. A series of explosions reported on 25-27 and 30 November produced ejecta that rose 800, 1,000, 1,300, and 700 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Incandescent ejecta at Nevados de Chillán was clearly visible at night on 3 November 2019. Courtesy of Claudio Kanisius.

Ash emissions were reported by the Buenos Aires VAAC during most of November, usually visible from the webcams, but often also seen in satellite imagery. The plumes generally reached 3.7-4.6 km altitude and drifted SSE. They usually occurred as continuous emission of steam and gas accompanied by sporadic pulses of ash but were sometimes continuous ash for several hours. They were visible about 100 km E of the summit on 2 November, and over 200 km SE the following day. A narrow plume of ash was seen in visual satellite imagery extending 50 km E of the summit on 9 November. Intermittent incandescence at the summit was seen from the webcam on 18 November. Pulses of ash were detected in satellite imagery extending 125 km SE on 22 November. Strong puffs of ash briefly rose to 4.9 km altitude and drifted NE on 26 November (figure 49); incandescence during the nighttime was visible in the webcam on 28 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. An explosion on 26 November 2019 at Nevados de Chillán produced a dense ash plume and small pyroclastic flows down the flank. Courtesy of Volcanes de Chile and the SERNAGEOMIN Portezuelo webcam.

Pulsating emissions of gas and ejecta continued into December 2019. Five explosions were reported on 1 December that produced gas plumes which rose 300-800 m above the crater. Three more explosions occurred on 3 December sending gas plumes 500-1,000 m high. SERNAGEOMIN reported on 4 December that explosive activity was observed from four vents within the Nicanor crater. This activity triggered new pyroclastic flows that extended 1,100 m E and 400 m S. By 5 December the total vertical inflation reported since July was 8 cm. A large explosion on 5 December sent material 1.6 km above the summit and pyroclastic flows down the flanks (figure 50). The webcams at Andarivel and Portezuelo showed a pyroclastic flow moving 400 m W, a direction not previously observed; this was followed by additional pyroclastic flows to the N and E.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. A large explosion at Nevados de Chillán on 5 December 2019 produced an ash plume that rose 1.6 km above the summit and sent pyroclastic flows down the flanks. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

On 9 December SERNAGEOMIN noted that the increase to four active vents was causing erosion on the S and SE edges of the crater making the most affected areas to the SW, S, SE and E of the crater. Major explosions reported that day produced pyroclastic flows that descended down the E and ESE flanks and particulate emissions that rose 1 km. The SW flank near the crater was also affected by ejecta and pyroclastic debris carried by the wind. The most extensive pyroclastic flows travelled down the E flank for the next several days; explosions on 10 December sent material 1.2 km high. Three explosions were noted on 11 December; the first sent incandescence close to 200 m high, and the second produced a column of particulate material 1.2 km high. The first of two explosions on 12 December sent material 1.8 km above the crater and pyroclastic flows down the flanks (figure 51). Although explosions were reported on 13 and 14 December, cloudy skies prevented observations of the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. A large explosion at Nevados de Chillán on 12 December 2019 produced an ash plume that rose 1.8 km above the summit and sent pyroclastic flows down the flanks. Courtesy of Volcanes de Chile and SERNAGEOMIN.

Intermittent ash emissions were reported by the Buenos Aires VAAC during 1-13 December 2019. They rose to 3.7-4.3 km and drifted generally E. Pulses of ash were detected at 4.9 km altitude moving S in satellite imagery on 9 December. The last reported ash emission for December was on the afternoon of 12 December; puffs of ash could be seen in satellite imagery moving E at 4.6 km altitude. A decrease in particulate emissions and explosions was reported beginning on 14 December, and no further explosions were recorded by infrasound devices after 15 December. The deposits from the earlier pyroclastic flows had reached 600 m E and 300 m W of the crater. Seismic activity was recorded as low instead of moderate beginning on 25 December. A total horizontal inflation of about 6 cm since July was measured at the end of December.

Geologic Background. The compound volcano of Nevados de Chillán is one of the most active of the Central Andes. Three late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcanoes were constructed along a NNW-SSE line within three nested Pleistocene calderas, which produced ignimbrite sheets extending more than 100 km into the Central Depression of Chile. The largest stratovolcano, dominantly andesitic, Cerro Blanco (Volcán Nevado), is located at the NW end of the group. Volcán Viejo (Volcán Chillán), which was the main active vent during the 17th-19th centuries, occupies the SE end. The new Volcán Nuevo lava-dome complex formed between 1906 and 1945 between the two volcanoes and grew to exceed Volcán Viejo in elevation. The Volcán Arrau dome complex was constructed SE of Volcán Nuevo between 1973 and 1986 and eventually exceeded its height.

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/), Twitter: @Sernageomin; 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/); 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/); Cristian Farias Vega, Departamento de Obras Civiles y Geología, Universidad Católica de Temuco, Vilcún, Región de La Araucanía, Chile (URL: https://twitter.com/cfariasvega/status/1187471827255226370); Copernicus Emergency Management Service (Copernicus EMS), Joint Research Centre, European Union (URL: https://emergency.copernicus.eu/, https://twitter.com/CopernicusEMS/status/1168156474817818624); Volcanes de Chile, Proyectos de la Fundación Volcanes de Chile, Chile (URL: https://www.volcanesdechile.net/, https://twitter.com/volcanesdechile/status/1199496839491395585); Pehuenia Online, Pehuenia, Argentina (URL: http://pehueniaonline.com.ar/, https://twitter.com/PehueniaOnline/status/1135703309824745472); Eco Bio Bio La Red Informativa, Bio Bio Region, Chile (URL: http://emergenciasbiobio.blogspot.com/, https://twitter.com/Eco_BioBio_II/status/1141734238590574593); INF0SCHILE (URL: https://twitter.com/INF0SCHILE/status/1151849611482599425); Radio Ñuble AM y FM, Chillán, Chile (URL: http://radionuble.cl/linea/, lhttps://twitter.com/RadioNuble/status/1151858189299781632); CHV Noticias, Santiago, Chile (URL: https://www.chvnoticias.cl/, https://twitter.com/CHVNoticias/status/1159263718015819777); Movisis.org Internacional, Manabi, Ecuador (URL: https://movisis.org/, https://twitter.com/MOVISISEC/status/1160778823031558144); Carlos Bustos (URL: https://twitter.com/cbusca1970/status/1168932243873644548); EarthQuakesTime (URL: https://twitter.com/EarthQuakesTime/status/1171654504841908229); Red Geocientifica de Chile (URL: https://twitter.com/RedGeoChile/status/1171972482875703296); American Earthquakes (URL: https://twitter.com/earthquakevt/status/1172271139760091136); PatoArias, Talca, Chile (URL: https://twitter.com/patoarias/status/1172287142191665153); Volcanologia Chile, (URL: http://www.volcanochile.com/joomla30/, https://twitter.com/volcanologiachl/status/1182707451554078720); Claudio Kanisius (URL: https://twitter.com/ClaudioKanisius/status/1191182878346031104).


Asosan (Japan) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

32.884°N, 131.104°E; summit elev. 1592 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash plumes and elevated SO2 emissions continue during July-December 2019

The large Asosan caldera reaches around 23 km long in the N-S direction and contains a complex of 17 cones, of which Nakadake is the most active (figure 58). A recent increase in activity prompted an alert level increase from 1 to 2 on 14 April 2019. The Nakadake crater is the site of current activity (figure 59) and contains several smaller craters, with the No. 1 crater being the main source of activity during July-December 2019. The activity during this period is summarized here based on reports by the Japan Meteorological Agency and satellite data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Asosan is a group of cones and craters within a larger caldera system. January 2010 Monthly Mosaic images copyright Planet Labs 2019.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Hot gas emissions from the Nakadake No. 1 crater on 25 June 2019 reached around 340°C. Courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency (July 2019 monthly report).

Small explosions were observed at the No. 1 vent on the 4, 5, 9, 13-16, and 26 July. There was an increase in thermal energy detected near the vent leading to a larger event on the 26th (figures 60 and 61), which produced an ash plume up to 1.6 km above the crater rim and continuing from 0757 to around 1300 with a lower plume height of 400 m after 0900. Light ashfall was reported downwind. Elevated activity was noted during 28-29 July, and an ash plume was seen in webcam footage on the 30th. Incandescence was visible in light-sensitive cameras during 4-17 and after the 26th. A field survey on 5 July measured 1,300 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) per day. This had increased to 2,300 tons per day by the 12th, 2,500 on the 24th, and 2,400 by the 25th. A sulfur dioxide plume was detected in Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data acquired on 28 July (figure 62).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Thermal images taken at Asosan on 26 July 2019 show the increasing temperature of emissions leading to an explosion. Courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency (July 2019 monthly report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. An eruption from the Nakadake crater at Asosan on 26 July 2019. Courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency (July 2019 monthly report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. A sulfur dioxide plume was detected from Asosan (to the left) on 28 July 2019. The larger plume (red) to the right is not believed to be associated with volcanism in this area. NASA Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite image courtesy of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

The increased eruptive activity that began on 5 July continued to 16 August. There were 24 eruptions recorded throughout the month, with eruptions occurring on 18-23, 25, and 29-31 August. An ash plume at 2100 on 4 August reached 1.5 km above the crater rim. Detected SO2 increased to extremely high levels from late July to early August with 5,200 tons per day recorded on 9 August, but which then reduced to 2,000 tons per day. Ashfall occurred out to around 7 km NW on the 10th (figure 63). Activity continued to increase at the Nakadake No. 1 crater, producing incandescence. High-temperature gas plumes were detected at the No. 2 crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. Ashfall from Asosan on 10 August 2019 near Otohime, Aso city, which is about 7 km NW of the Nakadake No. 1 crater that produced the ash plume. The ashfall was thick enough that the white line in the parking lot was mostly obscured (lower photo). Courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency (August 2019 monthly report).

Thermal activity continued to increase, and incandescence was observed at the No. 1 crater throughout September. There were 24 eruptions recorded throughout August. Light ashfall occurred out to around 8 km NE on the 3rd and ash plumes reached 1.6 km above the crater rim during 10-13, and again during 25-30 (figures 64 and 65). During the later dates ashfall was reported to the NE and NW. The SO2 levels were back down to 1,600 tons per day by 11 September and increased to 2,600 tons per day by the 26th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. Ash plumes at Asosan on 29 September 2019. Courtesy of Volcanoverse.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. Activity at Asosan in late September 2019. Left: incandescence and a gas plume at the Nakadake No. 1 crater on the 28th. Right: an eruption produced an ash plume at 0839 on the 30th. Aso Volcano Museum surveillance camera image (left) and Kusasenri surveillance camera image (right) courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency (September 2019 monthly report).

Similar elevated activity continued through October with ash plumes reaching 1.3 km above the crater and periodic ashfall reported at the Kumamoto Regional Meteorological Observatory, and out to 4 km S to SW on the 19th and 29th. Temperatures up to 580°C were recorded at the No. 1 crater on 23 October and incandescence was occasionally visible at night through the month (figure 66). Gas surveys detected 2,800 tons per day of SO2 on 7 October, which had increased to 4,000 tons per day by the 11th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Drone images of the Asosan Nakadake crater area on 23 October 2019. The colored boxes show the same vents and the photographs on the left correlate to the thermal images on the right. The yellow box is around the No. 1 crater, with temperature measurements reaching 580°C. The emissions in the red box reached 50°C, and up to 100°C on the southwest crater wall (blue box). Courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency (October 2019 monthly report).

Ash plume emission continued through November (figure 67 and 68). Plumes reached 1.5 to 2.4 km above sea level during 13-18 November and ashfall occurred downwind, with a maximum of 1.4 km above the crater rim for the month. Ashfall was reported near Aso City Hall on the 27th. Incandescence was observed until 6 November. During the first half of October sulfur dioxide emissions were slightly lower than the previous month, with measurements detecting under 3,000 tons per day. In the second half of the month emissions increased to 2,000 to 6,300 tons per day. This was accompanied by an increase in volcanic tremor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. Examples of ash plumes at Asosan on 2, 8, 9, and 11 November 2019. The plume on 2 November reached 1.3 km above the crater rim. Kusasenri surveillance camera images courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Ash emissions from the Nakadake crater at Asosan on 15 and 17 November 2019. The continuous ash emission is weak and is being dispersed by the wind. Copyright Mizumoto, used with permission.

Throughout December activity remained elevated with ash plumes reaching 1.1 km above the Nakadake No. 1 crater and producing ashfall. The maximum gas plume height was 1.8 km above the crater. A total of 23 eruptions were recorded, and incandescence at the crater was observed through the month. Sulfur dioxide emissions continued to increase with 5,800 tons per day recorded on the 27th, and 7,400 tons per day recorded on the 31st.

Overall, eruptive activity has continued intermittently since 26 July and SO2 emissions have increased through the year. Incandescence was seen at the crater since 2 October and this is consistent with an increase in thermal energy detected by the MIROVA algorithm around that time (figure 69).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Thermal anomalies were low through 2019 with a notable increase around October to November. Log radiative power plot courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. The 24-km-wide Asosan caldera was formed during four major explosive eruptions from 300,000 to 90,000 years ago. These produced voluminous pyroclastic flows that covered much of Kyushu. The last of these, the Aso-4 eruption, produced more than 600 km3 of airfall tephra and pyroclastic-flow deposits. A group of 17 central cones was constructed in the middle of the caldera, one of which, Nakadake, is one of Japan's most active volcanoes. It was the location of Japan's first documented historical eruption in 553 CE. The Nakadake complex has remained active throughout the Holocene. Several other cones have been active during the Holocene, including the Kometsuka scoria cone as recently as about 210 CE. Historical eruptions have largely consisted of basaltic to basaltic-andesite ash emission with periodic strombolian and phreatomagmatic activity. The summit crater of Nakadake is accessible by toll road and cable car, and is one of Kyushu's most popular tourist destinations.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Mizumoto, Kumamoto, Kyushu, Japan (Twitter: https://twitter.com/hepomodeler); Volcanoverse (URL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi3T_esus8Sr9I-3W5teVQQ).


Tinakula (Solomon Islands) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Tinakula

Solomon Islands

10.386°S, 165.804°E; summit elev. 796 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent thermal activity suggests ongoing eruption, July-December 2019

Remote Tinakula lies 100 km NE of the Solomon Trench at the N end of the Santa Cruz Islands, which are part of the South Pacific country of the Solomon Islands located 400 km to the W. It has been uninhabited since an eruption with lava flows and ash explosions in 1971 when the small population was evacuated (CSLP 87-71). The nearest communities live on Te Motu (Trevanion) Island (about 30 km S), Nupani (40 km N), and the Reef Islands (60 km E); residents occasionally report noises from explosions at Tinakula. Ashfall from larger explosions has historically reached these islands. A large ash explosion during 21-26 October 2017 was a short-lived event; renewed thermal activity was detected beginning in December 2018 and intermittently throughout 2019. This report covers the ongoing activity from July-December 2019. Since ground-based observations are rarely available, satellite thermal and visual data are the primary sources of information.

MIROVA thermal anomaly data indicated intermittent but ongoing thermal activity at Tinakula during July-December 2019 (figure 35). It was characterized by pulses of multiple alerts of varying intensities for several days followed by no activity for a few weeks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. The MIROVA project plot of Radiative Power at Tinakula from 2 March 2019 through the end of the year indicated repeated pulses of thermal energy each month except for August 2019. It was characterized by pulses of multiple alerts for several days followed by no activity for a few weeks. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Observations using Sentinel-2 satellite imagery were often prevented by clouds during July, but two MODVOLC thermal alerts on 2 July 2019 corresponded to MIROVA thermal activity on that date. No thermal anomalies were reported by MIROVA during August 2019, but Sentinel-2 satellite images showed dense steam plumes drifting away from the summit on four separate dates (figure 36). Two distinct thermal anomalies appeared in infrared imagery on 9 September, and a dense steam plume drifted about 10 km NW on 14 September (figure 37).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery for Tinakula recorded ongoing steam emissions on multiple days during August 2019 including 10 August (left) and 20 August (right). The island is about 3 km in diameter. Left image is natural color rendering with bands 4,3,2, right image is atmospheric penetration with bands 12, 11, and 8a. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. A bright thermal anomaly at the summit and a weaker one on the nearby upper W flank of Tinakula on 9 September 2019 (left) indicated ongoing eruptive activity in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery. While no thermal anomalies were visible on 14 September (right), a dense steam plume originating from the summit drifted more than 10 km NW. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During October 2019 steam emissions were captured in four clear satellite images; a weak thermal anomaly was present on the W flank on 9 October (figure 38). MODVOLC recorded a single thermal alert on 9 November. Stronger thermal anomalies appeared twice during November in satellite images. On 13 November a strong anomaly was present at the summit in Sentinel-2 imagery; it was accompanied by a dense steam plume drifting NE from the hotspot. On 28 November two thermal anomalies appeared part way down the upper NW flank (figure 39). Thermal imagery on 3 December suggested that a weak anomaly remained on the NW flank in a similar location; a dense steam plume rose above the summit, drifting slightly SW on 18 December (figure 40). A thermal anomaly at the summit on 28 December was accompanied by a dense steam plume and corresponded to multiple MIROVA thermal anomalies at the end of December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. A weak thermal anomaly was recorded on the upper W flank of Tinakula on 9 October 2019 in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery (left). Dense steam drifted about 10 km NW from the summit on 29 October (right). Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. On 13 November 2019 a strong anomaly was present at the summit of Tinakula in Sentinel-2 imagery; it was accompanied by a dense steam plume drifting NE from the hotspot (left). On 28 November two thermal anomalies appeared part way down the upper NW flank (right). Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Thermal imagery on 3 December 2019 from Tinakula suggested that a weak anomaly remained in a similar location to one of the earlier anomalies on the NW flank (left); a dense steam plume rose above the summit, drifting slightly SW on 18 December (center). A thermal anomaly at the summit on 28 December was accompanied by a dense steam plume (right) and corresponded to multiple MIROVA thermal anomalies at the end of December. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The small 3.5-km-wide island of Tinakula is the exposed summit of a massive stratovolcano at the NW end of the Santa Cruz islands. Similar to Stromboli, it has a breached summit crater that extends from the summit to below sea level. Landslides enlarged this scarp in 1965, creating an embayment on the NW coast. The satellitic cone of Mendana is located on the SE side. The dominantly andesitic volcano has frequently been observed in eruption since the era of Spanish exploration began in 1595. In about 1840, an explosive eruption apparently produced pyroclastic flows that swept all sides of the island, killing its inhabitants. Frequent historical eruptions have originated from a cone constructed within the large breached crater. These have left the upper flanks and the steep apron of lava flows and volcaniclastic debris within the breach unvegetated.

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


Ibu (Indonesia) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Ibu

Indonesia

1.488°N, 127.63°E; summit elev. 1325 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent ash plumes and small lava flows in the crater through December 2019

Heightened continuing activity at Ibu since March 2018 has been dominated by frequent ash explosions with weak ash plumes, and numerous thermal anomalies reflecting one or more weak lava flows (BGVN 43:05, 43:12, and 44:07). This report summarizes activity through December 2019, and is based on data from the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and various satellites.

Typical ash plumes during the reporting period of July-December 2019 rose 800 m above the crater, with the highest reported to 1.4 km in early October (table 5). They were usually noted a few times each month. According to MAGMA Indonesia, explosive activity caused the Aviation Color Code to be raised to ORANGE (second highest of four) on 14, 22, and 31 August, 4 and 30 September, and 15 and 20 October.

Table 5. Ash plumes and other volcanic activity reported at Ibu during December 2018-December 2019. Plume heights are reported above the crater rim. Data courtesy of PVMBG and Darwin VAAC.

Date Time Ash Plume Height Plume Drift Remarks
11 Dec 2018 -- 500 m -- Weather clouds prevented views in satellite data.
12 Jan 2019 1712 800 m S --
13 Jan 2019 0801 800 m S --
05-12 Feb 2019 -- 200-800 m E, S, W Weather conditions occasionally prevented observations.
25-26 Feb 2019 -- 1.1-1.7 km NE, ENE Thermal anomaly.
28 Feb 2019 -- 800 m N --
18 Mar 2019 -- 1.1 km E Plume drifted about 17 km NE.
23 Mar 2019 -- 1.1 km E --
28 Mar 2019 -- 800 m SE --
10 Apr 2019 -- 800 m N --
15-16 Apr 2019 -- 1.1 km N, NE --
18 Apr 2019 -- 800 m E --
07 May 2019 -- 1.1 km ESE --
08 May 2019 -- 1.1 km ESE --
09 May 2019 1821 600 m S Seismicity characterized by explosions, tremor, and rock avalanches.
10 May 2019 -- 500 m ESE --
14 May 2019 1846 800 m N --
14-16, 18-19 May 2019 -- 0.8-1.7 km NW, N, ENE --
23-24 May 2019 -- 1.1-1.4 km SE --
31 May 2019 -- 800 m W --
02 Jun 2019 -- 1.7 km W --
21 Jun 2019 -- 500 m N, NE --
24-25 Jun 2019 -- 0.2-1.1 km SE, ESE --
06 Jul 2019 -- 800 m N Intermittent thermal anomaly.
15 Jul 2019 -- 800 m NE --
07-12 Aug 2019 -- 200-800 m -- Plumes were white-to-gray.
14 Aug 2019 1107 800 m N Seismicity characterized by explosions and rock avalanches.
22 Aug 2019 0704 800 m W Seismicity characterized by explosions and rock avalanches.
31 Aug 2019 1847 800 m N Seismicity characterized by explosions and rock avalanches.
04 Sep 2019 0936 300 m S --
28 Sep 2019 -- 500-800 m WNW --
30 Sep 2019 1806 800 m N --
06-07 Oct 2019 -- 0.8-1.4 km S, N --
15 Oct 2019 0707 400 m S --
20 Oct 2019 0829 400 m W --
01-05 Nov 2019 -- 200-800 m E, N Plumes were white-and-gray.
20-21, 23-25 Nov 2019 -- 500-800 m Multiple Thermal anomaly on 21 Nov.
03 Dec 2019 -- 800 m NE Thermal anomaly.
26 Dec 2019 -- 800 m S Discrete ash puffs in satellite imagery.

Thermal anomalies were sometimes noted by PVMBG, and were also frequently obvious in infrared satellite imagery suggesting lava flows and multiple active vents, as seen on 22 November 2019 (figure 19). Thermal anomalies using MODIS satellite instruments processed by the MODVOLC algorithm were recorded 2-4 days every month from July to December 2019. In contrast, the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected numerous hotspots on most days (figure 20).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Example of thermal activity in the Ibu crater on 22 November 2019, along with a plume drifting SE. One or more vents in the crater are producing small lava flows, an observation common throughout the reporting period. Sentinel-2 false color (urban) images (bands 12, 11, 4), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Thermal anomalies recorded at Ibu by the MIROVA system using MODIS infrared satellite data for the year 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. The truncated summit of Gunung Ibu stratovolcano along the NW coast of Halmahera Island has large nested summit craters. The inner crater, 1 km wide and 400 m deep, contained several small crater lakes through much of historical time. The outer crater, 1.2 km wide, is breached on the north side, creating a steep-walled valley. A large parasitic cone is located ENE of the summit. A smaller one to the WSW has fed a lava flow down the W flank. A group of maars is located below the N and W flanks. Only a few eruptions have been recorded in historical time, the first a small explosive eruption from the summit crater in 1911. An eruption producing a lava dome that eventually covered much of the floor of the inner summit crater began in December 1998.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38, East Jakarta 13120, Indonesia (URL: http://www.bnpb.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); 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/); 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).


Lateiki (Tonga) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Lateiki

Tonga

19.18°S, 174.87°W; summit elev. 43 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption 13-22 October 2019 creates new island, which disappears by mid-January 2020

Lateiki (Metis Shoal) is one of several submarine and island volcanoes on the W side of the Tonga trench in the South Pacific. It has produced ephemeral islands multiple times since the first confirmed activity in the mid-19th century. Two eruptions, in 1967 and 1979, produced islands that survived for a few months before eroding beneath the surface. An eruption in 1995 produced a larger island that persisted, possibly until a new eruption in mid-October 2019 destroyed it and built a new short-lived island. Information was provided by the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, and from satellite information and news sources.

Review of eruptions during 1967-1995. The first reported 20th century eruption at this location was observed by sailors beginning on 12 December 1967 (CSLP 02-67); incandescent ejecta rose several hundred meters into the air and "steam and smoke" rose at least 1,000 m from the ocean surface. The eruption created a small island that was reported to be a few tens of meters high, and a few thousand meters in length and width. Eruptive activity appeared to end in early January 1968, and the island quickly eroded beneath the surface by the end of February (figure 6). When observed in April 1968 the island was gone, with only plumes of yellowish water in the area of the former island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Waves break over Lateiki on 19 February 1968, more than a month after the end of a submarine eruption that began in December 1967 and produced a short-lived island. Photo by Charles Lundquist, 1968 (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory).

A large steam plume and ejecta were observed on 19 June 1979, along with a "growing area of tephra" around the site with a diameter of 16 km by the end of June (SEAN 04:06). Geologists visited the site in mid-July and at that time the island was about 300 m long, 120 m wide, and 15 m high, composed of tephra ranging in size from ash to large bombs (SEAN 04:07); ash emissions were still occurring from the E side of the island. It was determined that the new island was located about 1 km E of the 1967-68 island. By early October 1979 the island had nearly disappeared beneath the ocean surface.

A new eruption was first observed on 6 June 1995. A new island appeared above the waves as a growing lava dome on 12 June (BGVN 20:06). Numerous ash plumes rose hundreds of meters and dissipated downwind. By late June an elliptical dome, about 300 x 250 m in size and 50 m high, had stopped growing. The new island it formed was composed of hardened lava and not the tuff cones of earlier islands (figure 7) according to visitors to the island; pumice was not observed. An overflight of the area in December 2006 showed that an island was still present (figure 8), possibly from the June 1995 eruption. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery confirming the presence of Lateiki Island and discolored water was clearly recorded multiple times between 2015 and 2019. This suggests that the island created in 1995 could have lasted for more than 20 years (figure 9).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. An aerial view during the 1995 eruption of Lateiki forming a lava dome. Courtesy of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Lateiki Island as seen on 7 December 2006; possibly part of the island that formed in 1995. Courtesy of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery confirmed the existence of an island present from 2015 through 2019 with little changes to its shape. This suggests that the island created in 1995 could have lasted for more than 20 years. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

New eruption in October 2019. The Kingdom of Tonga reported a new eruption at Lateiki on 13 October 2019, first noted by a ship at 0800 on 14 October. NASA satellite imagery confirmed the eruption taking place that day (figure 10). The following morning a pilot from Real Tonga Airlines photographed the steam plume and reported a plume height of 4.6-5.2 km altitude (figure 11). The Wellington VAAC issued an aviation advisory report noting the pilot's observation of steam, but no ash plume was visible in satellite imagery. They issued a second report on 22 October of a similar steam plume reported by a pilot at 3.7 km altitude. The MODVOLC thermal alert system recorded three thermal alerts from Lateiki, one each on 18, 20, and 22 October 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. NASA's Worldview Aqua/MODIS satellite imagery taken on 14 October 2019 over the Ha'apai and Vava'u region of Tonga showing the new eruption at Lateiki. Neiafu, Vava'u, is at the top right and Tofua and Kao islands are at the bottom left. The inset shows a closeup of Late Island at the top right and a white steam plume rising from Lateiki. Courtesy of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga and NASA Worldview.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Real Tonga Airline's Captain Samuela Folaumoetu'I photographed a large steam plume rising from Lateiki on the morning of 15 October 2019. Courtesy of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga.

The first satellite image of the eruption on 15 October 2019 showed activity over a large area, much bigger than the preexisting island that was visible on 10 October (figure 12). Although the eruption produced a steam plume that drifted several tens of kilometers SW and strong incandescent activity, no ash plume was visible, similar to reports of dense steam with little ash during the 1968 and 1979 eruptions (figure 13). Strong incandescence and a dense steam plume were still present on 20 October (figure 14).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. The first satellite image of the eruption of Lateiki on 15 October 2019 showed activity over a large area, much bigger than the preexisting island that was visible on 10 October (inset). The two images are the same scale; the island was about 100 m in diameter before the eruption. Image uses Natural Color Rendering (bands 4, 3, 2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. The steam plume from Lateiki on 15 October 2019 drifted more than 20 km SE from the volcano. A strong thermal anomaly from incandescent activity was present in the atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a) closeup of the same image (inset). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. A dense plume of steam drifted NW from Lateiki on 20 October 2019, and a strong thermal signal (inset) indicated ongoing explosive activity. Courtesy of Annamaria Luongo and Sentinel Hub Playground.

A clear satellite image on 30 October 2019 revealed an island estimated to be about 100 m wide and 400 m long, according to geologist Taaniela Kula of the Tonga Geological Service of the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources as reported by a local news source (Matangitonga). There was no obvious fumarolic steam activity from the surface, but a plume of greenish brown seawater swirled away from the island towards the NE (figure 15). In a comparison of the location of the old Lateiki island with the new one in satellite images, it was clear that the new island was located as far as 250 m to the NW (figure 16) on 30 October. Over the course of the next few weeks, the island's size decreased significantly; by 19 November, it was perhaps one-quarter the size it had been at the end of October. Lateiki Island continued to diminish during December 2019 and January 2020, and by mid-month only traces of discolored sea water were visible beneath the waves over the eruption site (figure 17).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. The new Lateiki Island was clearly visible on 30 October 2019 (top left), as was greenish-blue discoloration in the surrounding waters. It was estimated to be about 100 m wide and 400 m long that day. Its size decreased significantly over subsequent weeks; ten days later (top right) it was about half the size and two weeks later, on 14 November 2019 (bottom left), it was about one-third its original size. By 19 November (bottom right) only a fraction of the island remained. Greenish discolored water continued to be visible around the volcano. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. The location of the new Lateiki Island (Metis Shoal), shown here on 30 October 2019 in red, was a few hundred meters to the NW of the old position recorded on 5 September 2019 (in white). Courtesy of Annamaria Luongo and Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Lateiki Island disappeared beneath the waves in early January 2020, though plumes of discolored water continued to be observed later in the month. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Lateiki, previously known as Metis Shoal, is a submarine volcano midway between the islands of Kao and Late that has produced a series of ephemeral islands since the first confirmed activity in the mid-19th century. An island, perhaps not in eruption, was reported in 1781 and subsequently eroded away. During periods of inactivity following 20th-century eruptions, waves have been observed to break on rocky reefs or sandy banks with depths of 10 m or less. Dacitic tuff cones formed during the first 20th-century eruptions in 1967 and 1979 were soon eroded beneath the ocean surface. An eruption in 1995 produced an island with a diameter of 280 m and a height of 43 m following growth of a lava dome above the surface.

Information Contacts: Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, PO Box 5, Nuku'alofa, Tonga (URL: http://www.gov.to/ ); Royal New Zealand Air Force (URL: http://www.airforce.mil.nz/); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/); 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); Annamaria Luongo, Brussels, Belgium (Twitter: @annamaria_84, URL: https://twitter.com/annamaria_84 ); Taaniela Kula, Tonga Geological Service, Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources; Matangi Tonga Online (URL: https://matangitonga.to/2019/11/06/eruption-lateiki).


Aira (Japan) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing explosions with ejecta and ash plumes, along with summit incandescence, during July-December 2019

Sakurajima is a highly active stratovolcano situated in the Aira caldera in southern Kyushu, Japan. Common volcanism for this recent eruptive episode since March 2017 includes frequent explosions, ash plumes, and scattered ejecta. Much of this activity has been focused in the Minamidake crater since 1955; the Showa crater on the E flank has had intermittent activity since 2006. This report updates activity during July through December 2019 with the primary source information from monthly reports by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and various satellite data.

During July to December 2019, explosive eruptions and ash plumes were reported multiple times per week by JMA. November was the most active, with 137 eruptive events, seven of which were explosive while August was the least active with no eruptive events recorded (table 22). Ash plumes rose between 800 m to 5.5 km above the crater rim during this reporting period. Large blocks of incandescent ejecta traveled as far as 1.7 km from the Minamidake crater during explosions in September through December. The Kagoshima Regional Meteorological Observatory (11 km WSW) reported monthly amounts of ashfall during each month, with a high of 143 g/m2 during October. Occasionally at night throughout this reporting period, crater incandescence was observed with a highly sensitive surveillance camera. All explosive activity originated from the Minamidake crater; the adjacent Showa crater produced mild thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam plumes.

Table 22. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Sakurajima's Minamidake crater in the Aira caldera, July through December 2019. The number of events that were explosive in nature are in parentheses. No events were recorded at the Showa crater during this time. Ashfall is measured at the Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory (KLMO), 10 km W of Showa crater. Data courtesy of JMA (July to December 2019 monthly reports).

Month Ash emissions (explosive) Max plume height above crater Max ejecta distance from crater Total amount of ashfall (g/m2)
Jul 2019 9 (5) 3.8 km 1.1 km --
Aug 2019 -- 800 m -- 2
Sep 2019 32 (11) 3.4 km 1.7 km 115
Oct 2019 62 (41) 3.0 km 1.7 km 143
Nov 2019 137 (77) 5.5 km 1.7 km 69
Dec 2019 71 (49) 3.3 km 1.7 km 54

An explosion that occurred at 1044 on 4 July 2019 produced an ash plume that rose up to 3.2 km above the Minamidake crater rim and ejected material 1.1 km from the vent. Field surveys conducted on 17 and 23 July measured SO2 emissions that were 1,200-1,800 tons/day. Additional explosions between 19-22 July generated smaller plumes that rose to 1.5 km above the crater and ejected material 1.1 km away. On 28 July explosions at 1725 and 1754 produced ash plumes 3.5-3.8 km above the crater rim, which resulted in ashfall in areas N and E of Sakurajima (figure 86), including Kirishima City (20 km NE), Kagoshima Prefecture (30 km SE), Yusui Town (40 km N), and parts of the Kumamoto Prefecture (140 km NE).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Photo of the Sakurajima explosion at 1725 on 28 July 2019 resulting in an ash plume rising 3.8 km above the crater (left). An on-site field survey on 29 July observed ashfall on roads and vegetation on the N side of the island (right). Photo by Moto Higashi-gun (left), courtesy of JMA (July 2019 report).

The month of August 2019 showed the least activity and consisted of mainly small eruptive events occurring up to 800 m above the crater; summit incandescence was observed with a highly sensitive surveillance camera. SO2 emissions were measured on 8 and 13 August with 1,000-2,000 tons/day, which was slightly greater than the previous month. An extensometer at the Arimura Observation Tunnel and an inclinometer at the Amida River recorded slight inflation on 29 August, but continuous GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) observations showed no significant changes.

In September 2019 there were 32 eruptive events recorded, of which 11 were explosions, more than the previous two months. Seismicity also increased during this month. An extensometer and inclinometer recorded inflation at the Minamidake crater on 9 September, which stopped after the eruptive events. On 16 September, an eruption at 0746 produced an ash plume that rose 2.8 km above the crater rim and drifted SW; a series of eruptive events followed from 0830-1110 (figure 87). Explosions on 18 and 20 September produced ash plumes that rose 3.4 km above the crater rim and ejecting material as far as 1.7 km from the summit crater on the 18th and 700 m on the 20th. Field surveys measured an increased amount of SO2 emissions ranging from 1,100 to 2,300 tons/day during September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Webcam image of an ash plume rising 2.8 km from the Minamidake crater at Sakurajima on 16 September 2019. Courtesy of Weathernews Inc.

Seismicity, SO2 emissions, and the number of eruptions continued to increase in October 2019, 41 of which were explosive. Field surveys conducted on 1, 11, and 15 October reported that SO2 emissions were 2,000-2,800 tons/day. An explosion at 0050 on 12 October produced an ash plume that traveled 1.7 km from the Minamidake crater. Explosions between 16 and 19 October produced an ash plume that rose up to 3 km above the crater rim (figure 88). The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force 1st Air group observed gas-and-steam plumes rising from both the Minamidake and Showa craters on 25 October. The inflation reported from 16 September began to slow in late October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Photos taken from the E side of Sakurajima showing gas-and-steam emissions with some amount of ash rising from the volcano on 16 October 2019 after an explosion around 1200 that day (top). At night, summit incandescence is observed (bottom). Courtesy of Bradley Pitcher, Vanderbilt University.

November 2019 was the most active month during this reporting period with increased seismicity, SO2 emissions, and 137 eruptive events, 77 of which were explosive. GNSS observations indicated that inflation began to slow during this month. On 8 November, an explosion at 1724 produced an ash plume up to a maximum of 5.5 km above the crater rim and drifted E. This explosion ejected large blocks as far as 500-800 m away from the crater (figure 89). The last time plumes rose above 5 km from the vents occurred on 26 July 2016 at the Showa crater and on 7 October 2000 at the Minamidake crater. Field surveys on 8, 21, and 29 November measured increased SO2 emissions ranging from 2,600 to 3,600 tons/day. Eruptions between 13-19 November produced ash plumes that rose up to 3.6 km above the crater and ejected large blocks up 1.7 km away. An onsite survey on 29 November used infrared thermal imaging equipment to observe incandescence and geothermal areas near the Showa crater and the SE flank of Minamidake (figure 90).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Photos of an ash plume rising 5.5 km above Sakurajima on 8 November 2019 and drifting E. Photo by Moto Higashi-gun (top left), courtesy of JMA (November 2019 report) and the Geoscientific Network of Chile.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Webcam image of nighttime incandescence and gas-and-steam emissions with some amount of ash at Sakurajima on 29 November 2019. Courtesy of JMA (November 2019 report).

Volcanism, which included seismicity, SO2 emissions, and eruptive events, decreased during December 2019. Explosions during 4-10 December produced ash plumes that rose up to 2.6 km above the crater rim and ejected material up to 1.7 km away. Field surveys conducted on 6, 16, and 23 December measured SO2 emissions around 1,000-3,000 tons/day. On 24 December, an explosion produced an ash plume that rose to 3.3 km above the crater rim, this high for this month.

Sentinel-2 natural color satellite imagery showed dense ash plumes in late August 2019, early November, and through December (figure 91). These plumes drifted in different directions and rose to a maximum 5.5 km above the crater rim on 8 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Natural color Sentinel-2 satellite images of Sakurajima within the Aira caldera from late August through December 2019 showed dense ash plumes rising from the Minamidake crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed intermittent thermal anomalies beginning in mid-August to early September 2019 after a nearly two-month hiatus (figure 92). Activity increased by early November and continued through December. Three Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images between late July and early October showed distinct thermal hotspots within the Minamidake crater, in addition to faint gas-and-steam emissions in July and September (figure 93).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. Thermal anomalies at Sakurajima during January-December 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) started up in mid-August to early September after a two-month break and continued through December. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing small thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam emissions (left and middle) at Sakurajima within the Minamidake crater between late July and early October 2019. All images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Weathernews Inc. (Twitter: @wni_jp, https://twitter.com/wni_jp, URL: https://weathernews.jp/s/topics/201608/210085/, photo posted at https://twitter.com/wni_jp/status/1173382407216652289); Bradley Pitcher, Vanderbilt University, Nashville. TN, USA (URL: https://bradpitcher.weebly.com/, Twitter: @TieDyeSciGuy, photo posted at https://twitter.com/TieDyeSciGuy/status/1185191225101471744); Geoscientific Network of Chile (Twitter: @RedGeoChile, https://twitter.com/RedGeoChile, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RedGeoChile/, photo posted at https://twitter.com/RedGeoChile/status/1192921768186515456).


Suwanosejima (Japan) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

29.638°N, 129.714°E; summit elev. 796 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions, ash emissions, and summit incandescence in July-December 2019

Suwanosejima, located south of Japan in the northern Ryukyu Islands, is an active andesitic stratovolcano that has had continuous activity since October 2004, typically producing ash plumes and Strombolian explosions. Much of this activity is focused within the Otake crater. This report updates information during July through December 2019 using monthly reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

White gas-and-steam plumes rose from Suwanosejima on 26 July 2019, 30-31 August, 1-6, 10, and 20-27 September, reaching a maximum altitude of 2.4 km on 10 September, according to Tokyo VAAC advisories. Intermittent gray-white plumes were observed rising from the summit during October through December (figure 40).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Surveillance camera images of white gas-and-steam emissions rising from Suwanosejima on 10 December 2019 (left) and up to 1.8 km above the crater rim on 28 December (right). At night, summit incandescence was also observed on 10 December. Courtesy of JMA.

An explosion that occurred at 2331 on 1 August 2019 ejected material 400 m from the crater while other eruptions on 3-6 and 26 August produced ash plumes that rose up to a maximum altitude of 2.1 km and drifted generally NW according to the Tokyo VAAC report. JMA reported eruptions and summit incandescence in September accompanied by white gas-and-steam plumes, but no explosions were noted. Eruptions on 19 and 29 October produced ash plumes that rose 300 and 800 m above the crater rim, resulting in ashfall in Toshima (4 km SW), according to the Toshima Village Office, Suwanosejima Branch Office. Another eruption on 30 October produced a similar gray-white plume rising 800 m above the crater rim but did not result in ashfall. Similar activity continued in November with eruptions on 5-7 and 13-15 November producing grayish-white plumes rising 900 m and 1.5 km above the crater rim and frequent crater incandescence. Ashfall was reported in Toshima Village on 19 and 20 November; the 20 November eruption ejected material 200 m from the Otake crater.

Field surveys on 14 and 18 December using an infrared thermal imaging system to the E of Suwanose Island showed hotspots around the Otake crater, on the N slope of the crater, and on the upper part of the E coastline. GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) observations on 15 and 17 December showed a slight change in the baseline length. After 2122 on 25-26 and 31 December, 23 eruptions, nine of which were explosive were reported, producing gray-white plumes that rose 800-1,800 m above the crater rim and ejected material up to 600 m from the Otake crater. JMA reported volcanic tremors occurred intermittently throughout this reporting period.

Incandescence at the summit crater was occasionally visible at night during July through December 2019, as recorded by webcam images and reported by JMA (figure 41). MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed weak thermal anomalies that occurred dominantly in November with little to no activity recorded between July and October (figure 42). Two Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images in early November and late December showed thermal hotspots within the summit crater (figure 43).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Surveillance camera image of summit incandescence at Suwanosejima on 31 October 2019. Courtesy of JMA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Weak thermal anomalies at Suwanosejima during January-December 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) dominantly occurred in mid-March, late May to mid-June, and November, with two hotspots detected in late September and late December. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing small thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) within the Otake crater at Suwanosejima on 8 November 2019 (left) and faintly on 23 December 2019 behind clouds (right). Both images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The 8-km-long, spindle-shaped island of Suwanosejima in the northern Ryukyu Islands consists of an andesitic stratovolcano with two historically active summit craters. The summit of the volcano is truncated by a large breached crater extending to the sea on the east flank that was formed by edifice collapse. Suwanosejima, one of Japan's most frequently active volcanoes, was in a state of intermittent strombolian activity from Otake, the NE summit crater, that began in 1949 and lasted until 1996, after which periods of inactivity lengthened. The largest historical eruption took place in 1813-14, when thick scoria deposits blanketed residential areas, and the SW crater produced two lava flows that reached the western coast. At the end of the eruption the summit of Otake collapsed forming a large debris avalanche and creating the horseshoe-shaped Sakuchi caldera, which extends to the eastern coast. The island remained uninhabited for about 70 years after the 1813-1814 eruption. Lava flows reached the eastern coast of the island in 1884. Only about 50 people live on the island.

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


Barren Island (India) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Barren Island

India

12.278°N, 93.858°E; summit elev. 354 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal anomalies and small ash plumes during February-April 2019 and September 2019-January 2020

Barren Island is a remote stratovolcano located east of India in the Andaman Islands. Its most recent eruptive episode began in September 2018 and has included lava flows, explosions, ash plumes, and lava fountaining (BGVN 44:02). This report updates information from February 2019 through January 2020 using various satellite data as a primary source of information.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed intermittent thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit from mid-February 2019 through January 2020 (figure 41). There was a period of relatively low to no discernible activity between May to September 2019. The MODVOLC algorithm for MODIS thermal anomalies in comparison with Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery and Suomi NPP/VIIRS sensor data, registered elevated temperatures during late February 2019, early March, sparsely in April, late October, sparsely in November, early December, and intermittently in January 2020 (figure 42). Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery shows these thermal hotspots differing in strength from late February to late January 2020 (figure 43). The thermal anomalies in these satellite images are occasionally accompanied by ash plumes (25 February 2019, 23 October 2019, and 21 January 2020) and gas-and-steam emissions (26 April 2019).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Intermittent thermal anomalies at Barren Island for 20 February 2019 through January 2020 occurred dominantly between late March to late April 2019 and late September 2019 through January 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Timeline summary of observed activity at Barren Island from February 2019 through January 2020. For Sentinel-2, MODVOLC, and VIIRS data, the dates indicated are when thermal anomalies were detected. White areas indicated no activity was observed, which may also be due to meteoric clouds. Data courtesy of Darwin VAAC, Sentinel Hub Playground, HIGP, and NASA Worldview using the "Fire and Thermal Anomalies" layer.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 thermal images show ash plumes, gas-and-steam emissions, and thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) at Barren Island during February 2019-January 2020. The strongest thermal signature was observed on 23 October while the weakest one is observed on 26 January. Sentinel-2 False color (bands 12, 11, 4) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported ash plumes rising from the summit on 7, 14, and 16 March 2019. The maximum altitude of the ash plume occurred on 7 March, rising 1.8 km altitude, drifting W and NW and 1.2 km altitude, drifting E and ESE, based on observations from Himawari-8. The VAAC reports for 14 and 16 March reported the ash plumes rising 0.9 km and 1.2 km altitude, respectively drifting W and W.

Geologic Background. Barren Island, a possession of India in the Andaman Sea about 135 km NE of Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, is the only historically active volcano along the N-S volcanic arc extending between Sumatra and Burma (Myanmar). It is the emergent summit of a volcano that rises from a depth of about 2250 m. The small, uninhabited 3-km-wide island contains a roughly 2-km-wide caldera with walls 250-350 m high. The caldera, which is open to the sea on the west, was created during a major explosive eruption in the late Pleistocene that produced pyroclastic-flow and -surge deposits. Historical eruptions have changed the morphology of the pyroclastic cone in the center of the caldera, and lava flows that fill much of the caldera floor have reached the sea along the western coast.

Information Contacts: MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/).


Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Whakaari/White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosion producing an ash plume and pyroclastic surge resulted in fatalities and injuries on 9 December 2019

Whakaari/White Island has been New Zealand's most active volcano since 1976. Located 48 km offshore, the volcano is a popular tourism destination with tours leaving the town of Whakatane with approximately 17,500 people visiting the island in 2018. Ten lives were lost in 1914 when part of the crater wall collapsed, impacting sulfur miners. More recently, a brief explosion at 1411 on 9 December 2019 produced an ash plume and pyroclastic surge that impacted the entire crater area. With 47 people on the island at the time, the death toll stood at 21 on 3 February 2019. At that time more patients were still in hospitals within New Zealand or their home countries.

The island is the summit of a large underwater volcano, with around 70% of the edifice below the ocean and rising around 900 m above sea level (figure 70). A broad crater opens to the ocean to the SE, with steep crater walls and an active Main Crater area to the NW rear of the crater floor (figure 71). Although the island is privately owned, GeoNet continuously monitors activity both remotely and with visits to the volcano. This Bulletin covers activity from May 2017 through December 2019 and is based on reports by GeoNet, the New Zealand Civil Defence Bay of Plenty Emergency Management Group, satellite data, and footage taken by visitors to the island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. The top of the Whakaari/White Island edifice forms the island in the Bay of Plenty area, New Zealand, while 70% of the volcano is below sea level. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. This photo from 2004 shows the Main Crater area of Whakaari/White Island with the vent area indicated. The crater is an amphitheater shape with the crater floor distance between the vent and the ocean entry being about 700 m. The sediment plume begins at the area where tour boats dock at the island. Photo by Karen Britten, graphic by Danielle Charlton at University of Auckland; courtesy of GeoNet (11 December 2019 report).

Nearly continuous activity occurred from December 1975 to September 2000, including the formation of collapse and explosion craters producing ash emissions and explosions that impacted all of the Main Crater area. More recently, it has been in a state of elevated unrest since 2011. Renewed activity commenced with an explosive eruption on 5 August 2012 that was followed by the extrusion of a lava dome and ongoing phreatic explosions and minor ash emissions through March 2013. An ash cone was seen on 4 March 2013, and over the next few months the crater lake reformed. Further significant explosions took place on 20 August and 4, 8, and 11 October 2013. A landslide occurred in November 2015 with material descending into the lake. More recent activity on 27 April 2016 produced a short-lived eruption that deposited material across the crater floor and walls. A short period of ash emission later that year, on 13 September 2016, originated from a vent on the recent lava dome. Explosive eruptions occur with little to no warning.

Since 19 September 2016 the Volcanic Alert Level (VAL) was set to 1 (minor volcanic unrest) (figure 72). During early 2017 background activity in the crater continued, including active fumaroles emitting volcanic gases and steam from the active geothermal system, boiling springs, volcanic tremor, and deformation. By April 2017 a new crater lake had begun to form, the first since the April 2016 explosion when the lake floor was excavated an additional 13 m. Before this, there were areas where water ponded in depressions within the Main Crater but no stable lake.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. The New Zealand Volcanic Alert Level system up to date in February 2020. Courtesy of GeoNet.

Activity from mid-2017 through 2018. In July-August 2017 GeoNet scientists carried out the first fieldwork at the crater area since late 2015 to sample the new crater lake and gas emissions. The crater lake was significantly cooler than the past lakes at 20°C, compared to 30-70°C that was typical previously. Chemical analysis of water samples collected in July showed the lowest concentrations of most "volcanic elements" in the lake for the past 10-15 years due to the reduced volcanic gases entering the lake. The acidity remained similar to that of battery acid. Gas emissions from the 2012 dome were 114°C, which were over 450°C in 2012 and 330°C in 2016. Fumarole 0 also had a reduced temperature of 152°C, reduced from over 190°C in late 2016 (figure 73). The observations and measurements indicated a decline in unrest. Further visits in December 2017 noted relatively low-level unrest including 149°C gas emissions from fumarole 0, a small crater lake, and loud gas vents nearby (figures 74 and 75). By 27 November the lake had risen to 10 m below overflow. Analysis of water samples led to an estimate of 75% of the lake water resulting from condensing steam vents below the lake and the rest from rainfall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. A GeoNet scientists conducting field work near Fumarole 0, an accessible gas vent on Whakaari/White Island in August 2017. Courtesy of GeoNet (23 August 2017 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. GeoNet scientists sample gas emissions from vents on the 2012 Whakaari/White Island dome. The red circle in the left image indicates the location of the scientists. Courtesy of GeoNet (23 August 2017 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Active fumaroles and vents in the Main Crater of Whakaari/White Island including Fumarole 0 (top left). The crater lake formed in mid-2017 and gas emissions rise from surrounding vents (right). Courtesy of GeoNet (22 December 2017 report).

Routine fieldwork by GeoNet monitoring teams in early March 2018 showed continued low-level unrest and no apparent changes after a recent nearby earthquake swarm. The most notable change was the increase in the crater lake size, likely a response from recent high rainfall (figure 76). The water remained a relatively cool 27°C. Temperatures continued to decline at the 2012 dome vent (128°C) and Fumarole 0 (138°C). Spring and stream flow had also declined. Deformation was observed towards the Active Crater of 2-5 mm per month and seismicity remained low. The increase in lake level drowned gas vents along the lake shore resulting in geyser-like activity (figure 77). GeoNet warned that a new eruption could occur at any time, often without any useful warning.

In mid-April 2018 visitors reported loud sounds from the crater area as a result of the rising lake level drowning vents on the 2012 dome (in the western side of the crater) and resulting in steam-driven activity. There was no notable change in volcanic activity. The sounds stopped by July 2018 as the geothermal system adjusted to the rising water, up to 17 m below overfill and filling at a rate of about 2,000 m3 per day, rising towards more active vents (figure 78). A gas monitoring flight taken on 12 September showed a steaming lake surrounded by active fumaroles along the crater wall (figure 79).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. The increase in the Whakaari/White Island crater lake size in early March 2018 with gas plumes rising from vents on the other side. Courtesy of GeoNet (19 March 2018 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. The increasing crater lake level at Whakaari/White Island produced geyser-like activity on the lake shore in March 2018. Courtesy of Brad Scott, GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Stills taken from a drone video of the Whakaari/White Island Main Crater lake and active vents producing gas emissions. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Photos taken during a gas monitoring flight with GNS Science at Whakaari/White Island show gas and steam emissions, and a steaming crater lake on 12 September 2018. Note the people for scale on the lower-right crater rim in the bottom photograph. Copyright of Ben Clarke, University of Leicester, used with permission.

Activity during April to early December 2019. A GeoNet volcanic alert bulletin in April 2019 reported that steady low-level unrest continued. The level of the lake had been declining since late January and was back down to 13 m below overflow (figure 80). The water temperature had increased to over 60°C due to the fumarole activity below the lake. Fumarole 0 remained steady at around 120-130°C. During May-June a seismic swarm was reported offshore, unrelated to volcanic activity but increasing the risk of landslides within the crater due to the shallow locations.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Planet Labs satellite images from March 2018 to April 2019 show fluctuations in the Whakaari/White Island crater lake level. Image copyright 2019 Planet Labs, Inc.

On 26 June the VAL was raised to level 2 (moderate to heightened volcanic unrest) due to increased SO2 flux rising to historically high levels. An overflight that day detected 1,886 tons/day, nearly three times the previous values of May 2019, the highest recorded value since 2013, and the second highest since measurements began in 2003. The VAL was subsequently lowered on 1 July due to a reduction in detected SO2 emissions of 880 tons/day on 28 June and 693 tons/day on 29 June.

GeoNet reported on 26 September that there was an increase in steam-driven activity within the active crater over the past three weeks. This included small geyser-like explosions of mud and steam with material reaching about 10 m above the lake. This was not attributed to an increase in volcanic activity, but to the crater lake level rising since early August.

On 30 October an increase in background activity was reported. An increasing trend in SO2 gas emissions and volcanic tremor had been ongoing for several months and had reached the highest levels since 2016. This indicated to GeoNet that Whakaari/White Island might be entering a period where eruptive activity was more likely. There were no significant changes in other monitoring parameters at this time and fumarole activity continued (figure 81).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. A webcam image taken at 1030 on 30 October 2019 from the crater rim shows the Whakaari/White Island crater lake to the right of the amphitheater-shaped crater and gas-and-steam plumes from active fumaroles. Courtesy of GeoNet.

On 18 November the VAL was raised to level 2 and the Aviation Colour Code was raised to Yellow due to further increase in SO2 emissions and volcanic tremor. Other monitoring parameters showed no significant changes. On 25 November GeoNet reported that moderate volcanic unrest continued but with no new changes. Gas emissions remained high and gas-driven ejecta regularly jetting material a few meters into the air above fumaroles in the crater lake (figure 82).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. A webcam image from the Whakaari/White Island crater rim shows gas-driven ejecta rising above a fumarole within the crater lake on 22 November 2019. Courtesy of GeoNet.

GeoNet reported on 3 December that moderate volcanic unrest continued, with increased but variable explosive gas and steam-driven jetting, with stronger events ejecting mud 20-30 m into the air and depositing mud around the vent area. Gas emissions and volcanic tremor remained elevated and occasional gas smells were reported on the North Island mainland depending on wind direction. The crater lake water level remained unchanged. Monitoring parameters were similar to those observed in 2011-2016 and remained within the expected range for moderate volcanic unrest.

Eruption on 9 December 2019. A short-lived eruption occurred at 1411 on 9 December 2019, generating a steam-and-ash plume to 3.6 km and covering the entire crater floor area with ash. Video taken by tourists on a nearby boat showed an eruption plume composed of a white steam-rich portion, and a black ash-rich ejecta (figure 83). A pyroclastic surge moved laterally across the crater floor and up the inner crater walls. Photos taken soon after the eruption showed sulfur-rich deposits across the crater floor and crater walls, and a helicopter that had been damaged and blown off the landing pad (figure 84). This activity caused the VAL to be raised to 4 (moderate volcanic eruption) and the Aviation Colour Code being raised to Orange.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. The beginning of the Whakaari/White Island 9 December 2019 eruption viewed from a boat that left the island about 20-30 minutes prior. Top: the steam-rich eruption plume rising above the volcano and a pyroclastic surge beginning to rise over the crater rim. Bottom: the expanded steam-and-ash plume of the pyroclastic surge that flowed over the crater floor to the ocean. Copyright of Michael Schade, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. This photo of Whakaari/White Island taken after the 9 December 2019 eruption at around 1424 shows ash and sediment coating the crater floor and walls. The helicopter in this image was blown off the landing pad and damaged during the eruption. Copyright of Michael Schade, used with permission.

A steam plume was visible in a webcam image taken at 1430 from Whakatane, 21 minutes after the explosion (figure 85). Subsequent explosions occurred at 1630 and 1749. Search-and-Rescue teams reached the island after the eruption and noted a very strong sulfur smell that was experienced through respirators. They experienced severe stinging of any exposed skin that came in contact with the gas, and were left with sensitive skin and eyes, and sore throats. Later in the afternoon the gas-and-steam plume continued and a sediment plume was dispersing from the island (figure 86). The VAL was lowered to level 3 (minor volcanic eruption) at 1625 that day; the Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A view of Whakaari/White Island from Whakatane in the North Island of New Zealand. Left: there is no plume visible at 1410 on 9 December 2019, one minute before the eruption. Right: A gas-and-steam plume is visible 21 minutes after the eruption. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. A gas-and-steam plume rises from Whakaari/White Island on the afternoon of 9 December 2019 as rescue teams visit the island. A sediment plume in the ocean is dispersing from the island. Courtesy of Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

During or immediately after the eruption an unstable portion of the SW inner crater wall, composed of 1914 landslide material, collapsed and was identified in satellite radar imagery acquired after the eruption. The material slid into the crater lake area and left a 12-m-high scarp. Movement in this area continued into early January.

Activity from late 2019 into early 2020. A significant increase in volcanic tremor began at around 0400 on 11 December (figure 87). The increase was accompanied by vigorous steaming and ejections of mud in several of the new vents. By the afternoon the tremor was at the highest level seen since the 2016 eruption, and monitoring data indicated that shallow magma was driving the increased unrest.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. This RSAM (Real-Time Seismic Amplitude) time series plot represents the energy produced at Whakaari/White Island from 11 November to 11 December 2019 with the Volcanic Activity Levels and the 9 December eruption indicated. The plot shows the sharp increase in seismic energy during 11 December. Courtesy of GeoNet (11 December 2019 report).

The VAL was lowered to 2 on the morning of 12 December to reflect moderate to heightened unrest as no further explosive activity had occurred since the event on the 9th. Volcanic tremor was occurring at very high levels by the time a bulletin was released at 1025 that day. Gas emissions increased since 10 January, steam and mud jetting continued, and the situation was interpreted to be highly volatile. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange. Risk assessment maps released that day show the high-risk areas as monitoring parameters continued to show an increased likelihood of another eruption (figure 88).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Risk assessment maps of Whakaari/White Island show the increase in high-risk areas from 2 December to 12 December 2019. Courtesy of GeoNet (12 December 2019 report).

The volcanic activity bulletin for 13 December reported that volcanic tremor remained high, but had declined overnight. Vigorous steam and mud jetting continuing at the vent area. Brief ash emission was observed in the evening with ashfall restricted to the vent area. The 14 January bulletin reported that volcanic tremor had declined significantly over night, and nighttime webcam images showed a glow in the vent area due to high heat flow.

Aerial observations on 14 and 15 December revealed steam and gas emissions continuing from at least three open vents within a 100 m2 area (figure 89). One vent near the back of the crater area was emitting transparent, high-temperature gas that indicated that magma was near the surface, and produced a glow registered by low-light cameras (figure 90). The gas emissions had a blue tinge that indicated high SO2 content. The area that once contained the crater lake, 16 m below overflow before the eruption, was filled with debris and small isolated ponds mostly from rainfall, with different colors due to the water reacting with the eruption deposits. The gas-and-steam plume was white near the volcano but changed to a gray-brown color as it cooled and moved downwind due to the gas content (figure 91). On 15 December the tremor remained at low levels (figure 92).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. The Main Crater area of Whakaari/White Island showing the active vent area and gas-and-steam emissions on 15 December 2019. Gas emissions were high within the circled area. Before the eruption a few days earlier this area was partially filled by the crater lake. Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. A low-light nighttime camera at Whakaari/White Island imaged "a glow" at a vent within the active crater area on 13 December 2019. This glow is due to high-temperature gas emissions and light from external sources like the moon. Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. A gas-and-steam plume at Whakaari/White Island on 15 December 2019 is white near the crater and changes to a grey-brown color downwind due to the gas content. Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. The Whakaari/White Island seismic drum plot showing the difference in activity from 12 December (top) to 15 December (bottom). Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).

On 19 December tremor remained low (figure 93) and gas and steam emission continued. Overflight observations confirmed open vents with one producing temperatures over 650°C (figure 94). SO2 emissions remained high at around 15 kg/s, slightly lower than the 20 kg/s detected on 12 December. Small amounts of ash were produced on 23 and 26 December due to material entering the vents during erosion.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. This RSAM (Real-Time Seismic Amplitude) time series plot represents the energy produced at Whakaari/White Island from 1 November to mid-December 2019. The Volcanic Alert Levels and the 9 December eruption are indicated. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. A photograph and thermal infrared image of the Whakaari/White Island crater area on 19 December 2019. The thermal imaging registered temperatures up to 650°C at a vent emitting steam and gas. Courtesy of GeoNet.

The Aviation Colour Code was reduced to Yellow on 6 January 2020 and the VAL remained at 2. Strong gas and steam emissions continued from the vent area through early January and the glow persisted in nighttime webcam images. Short-lived episodes of volcanic tremor were recorded between 8-10 January and were accompanied by minor explosions. A 15 January bulletin reported that the temperature at the vent area remained very hot, up to 440°C, and SO2 emissions were within normal post-eruption levels.

High temperatures were detected within the vent area in Sentinel-2 thermal data on 6 and 16 January (figure 95). Lava extrusion was confirmed within the 9 December vents on 20 January. Airborne SO2 measurements on that day recorded continued high levels and the vent temperature was over 400°C. Observations on 4 February showed that no new lava extrusion had occurred, and gas fluxes were lower than two weeks ago, but still elevated. The temperatures measured in the crater were 550-570°C and no further changes to the area were observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Sentinel-2 thermal infrared satellite images show elevated temperatures in the 9 December 2019 vent area on Whakaari/White Island. False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The uninhabited Whakaari/White Island is the 2 x 2.4 km emergent summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 50 km offshore of North Island. The island consists of two overlapping andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcanoes. The SE side of the crater is open at sea level, with the recent activity centered about 1 km from the shore close to the rear crater wall. Volckner Rocks, sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NW. Descriptions of volcanism since 1826 have included intermittent moderate phreatic, phreatomagmatic, and Strombolian eruptions; activity there also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. The formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries caused rapid changes in crater floor topography. Collapse of the crater wall in 1914 produced a debris avalanche that buried buildings and workers at a sulfur-mining project. Explosive activity in December 2019 took place while tourists were present, resulting in many fatalities. The official government name Whakaari/White Island is a combination of the full Maori name of Te Puia o Whakaari ("The Dramatic Volcano") and White Island (referencing the constant steam plume) given by Captain James Cook in 1769.

Information Contacts: New Zealand GeoNet Project, a collaboration between the Earthquake Commission and GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz/); GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/); Bay of Plenty Emergency Management Group Civil Defense, New Zealand (URL: http://www.bopcivildefence.govt.nz/); Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, Auckland, New Zealand (URL: https://www.rescuehelicopter.org.nz/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Ben Clarke, The University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH, United Kingdom (URL: https://le.ac.uk/geology, Twitter: https://twitter.com/PyroclasticBen); Michael Schade, San Francisco, USA (URL: https://twitter.com/sch).


Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kadovar

Papua New Guinea

3.608°S, 144.588°E; summit elev. 365 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent gas and some ash emissions during May-December 2019 with some hot avalanches

Kadovar is an island volcano north of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Manam. The first confirmed historical activity began in January 2018 and resulted in the evacuation of residents from the island. Eruptive activity through 2018 changed the morphology of the SE side of the island and activity continued through 2019 (figure 36). This report summarizes activity from May through December 2019 and is based largely on various satellite data, tourist reports, and Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reports.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. The morphological changes to Kadovar from 2017 to June 2019. Top: the vegetated island has a horseshoe-shaped crater that opens towards the SE; the population of the island was around 600 people at this time. Middle: by May 2018 the eruption was well underway with an active summit crater and an active dome off the east flank. Much of the vegetation has been killed and ashfall covers a lot of the island. Bottom: the bay below the SE flank has filled in with volcanic debris. The E-flank coastal dome is no longer active, but activity continues at the summit. PlanetScope satellite images copyright Planet Labs 2019.

Since this eruptive episode began a large part of the island has been deforested and has undergone erosion (figure 37). Activity in early 2019 included regular gas and steam emissions, ash plumes, and thermal anomalies at the summit (BGVN 44:05). On 15 May an ash plume originated from two vents at the summit area and dispersed to the east. A MODVOLC thermal alert was also issued on this day, and again on 17 May. Elevated temperatures were detected in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite data on 20, 21, and 30 May (figure 38), with accompanying gas-and-steam plumes dispersing to the NNW and NW. On 30 May the area of elevated temperature extended to the SE shoreline, indicating an avalanche of hot material reaching the water.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. The southern flank of Kadovar seen here on 13 November 2019 had been deforested by eruptive activity and erosion had produced gullies down the flanks. Copyrighted photo by Chrissie Goldrick, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images show elevated temperatures at the summit area, and down to the coast in the top image. Gas-and-steam plumes are visible dispersing towards the NW. Sentinel-2 false color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel-Hub Playground.

Throughout June cloud-free Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed elevated temperatures at the summit area and extending down the upper SE flank (figure 38). Gas-and-steam plumes were persistent in every Sentinel-2 and NASA Suomi NPP / VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) image. MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 4 and 9 June. Similar activity continued through July with gas-and-steam emissions visible in every cloud-free satellite image. Thermal anomalies appeared weaker in late-July but remained at the summit area. An ash plume was imaged on 17 July by Landsat 8 with a gas-and-ash plume dispersing to the west (figure 39). Thermal anomalies continued through August with a MODVOLC thermal alert issued on the 14th. Gas emissions also continued and a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) was issued on the 19th reporting an ash plume to an altitude of 1.5 km and drifting NW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. An ash plume rising above Kadovar and a gas plume dispersing to the NW on 17 July 2019. Truecolor pansharpened Landsat 8 satellite image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

An elongate area extending from the summit area to the E-flank coastal dome appears lighter in color in a 7 September Sentinel-2 natural color satellite image, and as a higher temperature area in the correlating thermal bands, indicating a hot avalanche deposit. These observations along with the previous avalanche, persistent elevated summit temperatures, and persistent gas and steam emissions from varying vent locations (figure 40) suggests that the summit dome has remained active through 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Sentinel-2 visible and thermal satellite images acquired on 7 September 2019 show fresh deposits down the east flank of Kadovar. They appear as a lighter colored area in visible, and show as a hot area (orange) in thermal data. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) and false color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel-Hub Playground.

Thermal anomalies and emissions continued through to the end of 2019 (figure 41). A tour group witnessed an explosion producing an ash plume at around 1800 on 13 November (figure 42). While the ash plume erupted near-vertically above the island, a more diffuse gas plume rose from multiple vents on the summit dome and dispersed at a lower altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. The summit area of Kadovar emitting gas-and-steam plumes in August, September, and November 2019. The plumes are persistent in satellite images throughout May through December and there is variation in the number and locations of the source vents. PlanetScope satellite images copyright Planet Labs 2019.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. An ash plume and a lower gas plume rise during an eruption of Kadovar on 13 November 2019. The summit lava dome is visibly degassing to produce the white gas plume. Copyrighted photos by Chrissie Goldrick, used with permission.

While gas plumes were visible throughout May-December 2019 (figure 43), SO2 plumes were difficult to detect in NASA SO2 images due to the activity of nearby Manam volcano. The MIROVA thermal detection system shows continued elevated temperatures through to early December, with an increase during May-June (figure 44). Sentinel-2 thermal images showed elevated temperatures through to the end of December but at a lower intensity than previous months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. This photo of the southeast side Kadovar on 13 November 2019 shows a persistent low-level gas plume blowing towards the left and a more vigorous plume is visible near the crater. This is an example of the persistent plume visible in satellite imagery throughout July-December 2019. Copyrighted photo by Chrissie Goldrick, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. The MIROVA plot of radiative power at Kadovar shows thermal anomalies throughout 2019 with some variations in frequency. Note that while the black lines indicate that the thermal anomalies are greater than 5 km from the vent, the designated summit location is inaccurate so these are actually a the summit crater and on the E flank. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. The 2-km-wide island of Kadovar is the emergent summit of a Bismarck Sea stratovolcano of Holocene age. It is part of the Schouten Islands, and lies off the coast of New Guinea, about 25 km N of the mouth of the Sepik River. Prior to an eruption that began in 2018, a lava dome formed the high point of the andesitic volcano, filling an arcuate landslide scarp open to the south; submarine debris-avalanche deposits occur in that direction. Thick lava flows with columnar jointing forms low cliffs along the coast. The youthful island lacks fringing or offshore reefs. A period of heightened thermal phenomena took place in 1976. An eruption began in January 2018 that included lava effusion from vents at the summit and at the E coast.

Information Contacts: Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov); Chrissie Goldrick, Australian Geographic, Level 7, 54 Park Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia (URL: https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 28, Number 02 (February 2003)

Managing Editor: Edward Venzke

Barren Island (India)

Fumarolic activity noted during fieldwork in February

Deception Island (Antarctica)

Fumarole temperatures stable during 2000-2002; sulfur dioxide detected

Etna (Italy)

Petrographic and geochemical comparison of 2001 and 2002 lavas

Fournaise, Piton de la (France)

Infrared data from November-December 2002 eruption

Galeras (Colombia)

Phreatic explosion in June 2002; increased long-period seismicity in late 2002

Klyuchevskoy (Russia)

Seismicity above background levels; explosion and thermal anomaly

Lengai, Ol Doinyo (Tanzania)

Continuing lava flows and vent activity in late December 2002

Monowai (New Zealand)

Volcanic earthquake swarm during 1-24 November eruption

Montagu Island (United Kingdom)

Satellite data provide first evidence of Holocene eruptive activity

Nyiragongo (DR Congo)

Aftershocks, lava lake, SO2 fumes, acidic rains, and highly fluorinated water

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

Cycles of dome growth and destruction; continuing explosive activity

Reventador (Ecuador)

Ashfall in January, mudflows in February-March; additional data from November

Ruapehu (New Zealand)

Volcanic tremor episodes and Crater Lake temperature variations

Saunders (United Kingdom)

Lava lake detected in satellite imagery during 1995-2002

Sheveluch (Russia)

Continued lava dome growth, short-lived explosions, and seismicity

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Continued dome growth, rockfalls, and pyroclastic flows

Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand)

Increased SO2 emissions since December, mud ejections in February



Barren Island (India) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Barren Island

India

12.278°N, 93.858°E; summit elev. 354 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumarolic activity noted during fieldwork in February

A team of scientists from India and Italy carried out detailed geological, volcanological, geochemical, and geothermal investigations on Barren Island (figures 4 and 5) during 3-6 February 2003. The scientific team, led by Dornadula Chandrasekharam, included Piero Manetti, Orlando Vaselli, Bruno Capaccioni, and Mohammad Ayaz Alam. The Indian Coast Guard vessel CGS Lakshmi Bai carried the team from Port Blair on 3 February 2003; the journey takes ~5-6 hours depending on sea conditions. Because of the great depths around the island, it is not possible to anchor, so the team was ferried to the island in a small rubber boat. After the ship returned on the morning of 6 February, a trip around the island was made to see the steep seaward face of the prehistoric caldera wall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Barren Island as seen from the vessel CGS Lakshmi Bai on 3 February 2003. Courtesy of D. Chandrasekharam and others.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Preliminary sketch map of Barren Island. Courtesy of D. Chandrasekharam and others.

The volcano consists of a caldera, which opens towards the W, with a central polygenetic vent enclosing at least five nested tuff cones. Two spatter cones are located on the W and SE flanks of the central cone (figure 6).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. A spatter cone on the SW flank of the central cinder cone at Barren Island around 3 February 2003. Courtesy of D. Chandrasekharam and others.

An eruption in 1991 ended more than 200 years of quiescence. Another eruption in 1994-95 left two spatter cones on its SE and W flanks. From these vents two aa lava flows poured out, both reaching the sea, during two distinct eruptive phases separated by ashfall. The lava flow created a delta into the sea (figure 7). There has been no documented eruptive activity since 1995, but Indian Coast Guards informed the team of renewed activity (strong gas and possible lava emission) in January 2000. The volcano currently exhibits continuing fumarolic activity. Steaming ground was visible at numerous places on the island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Lava from the 1994-95 eruptions on Barren Island formed a tongue that reached the sea. Courtesy of D. Chandrasekharam and others.

On 5 February the team climbed the summit of the central cinder cone that showed strongly fumarolic (but not presently active) areas with layers of sulfur deposits (figure 8). The ascent to the crater was relatively difficult since the material on the very steep slope was loose (figure 9). Neither magma nor gas emissions were observed within the craters of the different cones. From the middle to the upper part of the W cone, the ground temperature was relatively high (>40°C), and steaming ground was visible at different sites. Fumarolic activity, with temperatures up to 101°C, was mainly concentrated along the upper crater wall of the SW cone. Blue fumes (indicative of SO2) and the aroma of acidic gases such as HCl were not recorded.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Fumarolic deposit on top of the central cinder cone at Barren Island on 5 February 2003. Courtesy of D. Chandrasekharam and others.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Central cinder cone showing steep slopes at Barren Island on 5 February 2003. Courtesy of D. Chandrasekharam and others.

The pre-caldera deposits were characterized by more than five lava flows (prehistoric?) separated by scoria-fall beds and minor ash, tuff, and cinder deposits. The lava flows varied in thickness from 2 to 3 m, whereas the pyroclastic layers vary in thickness from 1 to 4 m. These lava flows could be clearly seen towards the N part of the main caldera. Towards the SE part of the inner caldera a 5-m-wide, NNE-SSW trending dike was observed. This feeder dike was fine-to-medium grained and contains buff-colored olivine, green pyroxene, and plagioclase phenocrysts. The N and NW part of the caldera has been mantled by a ~50-m-thick sequence of breccias and tuff representing syn/post-caldera phreatic and hydromagmatic activity, whereas the products of a small littoral cone occured mainly towards the W side. The lava flows of the main caldera were highly porphyritic with phenocrysts of green pyroxene (~3 cm) and plagioclase feldspars. Several steam vents could be seen within the 1994-95 lava flows. Some of these vents exhibited a lack of steam emanations at the time of the visit.

The outer and part of the inner caldera contains thick vegetation, which escaped the fury of the recent eruptions. Feral goats and rats dominate the island. Two fresh-water springs were discovered towards the SE part of the caldera. This is possibly the fresh water source for the goats living in this island. Chemical analysis indicates that the water from the springs is potable.

Geologic Background. Barren Island, a possession of India in the Andaman Sea about 135 km NE of Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, is the only historically active volcano along the N-S volcanic arc extending between Sumatra and Burma (Myanmar). It is the emergent summit of a volcano that rises from a depth of about 2250 m. The small, uninhabited 3-km-wide island contains a roughly 2-km-wide caldera with walls 250-350 m high. The caldera, which is open to the sea on the west, was created during a major explosive eruption in the late Pleistocene that produced pyroclastic-flow and -surge deposits. Historical eruptions have changed the morphology of the pyroclastic cone in the center of the caldera, and lava flows that fill much of the caldera floor have reached the sea along the western coast.

Information Contacts: Dornadula Chandrasekharam, Department of Earth Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay 400076, India (URL: http://www.geos.iitb.ac.in/index.php/dc); Piero Manetti, Italian National Science Council (CNR), Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources (CNR-IGG), Viale Moruzzi, 1, 56124 Pisa, Italy; Orlando Vaselli, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Florence, Via G. La Pira, 4 - 50121 Florence, Italy; Bruno Capaccioni, Institute of Volcanology and Geochemistry, University of Urbino, Loc. La Crocicchia, 61029 Urbino, Italy; Mohammad Ayaz Alam, Research Scholar, Department of Earth Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay 400076, India.


Deception Island (Antarctica) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Deception Island

Antarctica

63.001°S, 60.652°W; summit elev. 602 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumarole temperatures stable during 2000-2002; sulfur dioxide detected

The Deception Volcano Observatory has monitored the volcano every austral summer since 1993. Investigations of fumarole geochemistry, thermal anomalies, and volcanic activity were made during the summer survey of 2000 and 2002 by the Argentina Research Group. Compared to measurements made during the latest surveys, temperatures of fumaroles and hot soils remained stable at 99-101°C in Fumarole Bay, 97°C on Caliente Hill, 65°C in Whalers Bay, 41°C in Telefon Bay, and 70°C in Pendulum Cove (figure 18).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Map of Deception Island showing the area of geothermal anomalies during austral summer 2002. Courtesy of A.T.Caselli, M. dos Santos Afonso, and M. Agusto.

Following a possible magma intrusion during the summer of 1999 (BGVN 24:05), the composition of gases from fumarolic vents at Fumarole Bay changed compared to previous surveys. The chemical composition of the fumarolic gases was mainly H2O (70-95 vol. %), CO2 (5-30%), H2S (0.1-0.3%), and SO2 (0.01-0.08%). For the first time, SO2 was detected. Elemental sulfur and iron sulfide coatings on lapilli were found around the vent outlets and at a few centimeters of depth, respectively. Elemental sulfur and iron sulfide occurrences were intermittent during the 2000 and 2002 summer surveys.

Geologic Background. Ring-shaped Deception Island, one of Antarctica's most well known volcanoes, contains a 7-km-wide caldera flooded by the sea. Deception Island is located at the SW end of the Shetland Islands, NE of Graham Land Peninsula, and was constructed along the axis of the Bransfield Rift spreading center. A narrow passageway named Neptunes Bellows provides entrance to a natural harbor that was utilized as an Antarctic whaling station. Numerous vents located along ring fractures circling the low, 14-km-wide island have been active during historical time. Maars line the shores of 190-m-deep Port Foster, the caldera bay. Among the largest of these maars is 1-km-wide Whalers Bay, at the entrance to the harbor. Eruptions from Deception Island during the past 8700 years have been dated from ash layers in lake sediments on the Antarctic Peninsula and neighboring islands.

Information Contacts: A.T.Caselli, M. dos Santos Afonso, and M. Agusto, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Instituto Antártico Argentino, Ciudad Universitaria, Pabellón 2, C1428EHA Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Etna (Italy) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Petrographic and geochemical comparison of 2001 and 2002 lavas

On 27 October 2002 Mount Etna opened on both its northern and southern sides (BGVN 27:10-27:12), erupting lava from vents about 2,500-1,800 m elevation on the NNE flank and 2,800-2,700 m on the S flank. The N vents emitted two flows that stopped after a few days, the longer of which stretched ~5 km. The S vents erupted lighter intermittent lava flows, but showed much stronger and sustained explosive activity that developed two large cinder cones at 2,750 and 2,850 m elevation.

The northern lavas are similar to the tephra erupted from Northeast Crater during the summer of 2002 and, more generally, to the trachybasalts that characterized Etna's activity during the past centuries (Tanguy and others 1997, and references therein). They are typically porphyritic (30-40% phenocryts), containing numerous millimeter-sized crystals of plagioclase (An 86-65/Or 0.4-2.1), clinopyroxene (En 42.3-37/Fs 11.7-15.5), and fewer ones of olivine (Fo 76-71) and titanomagnetite (Usp 35-43). The silica content is about 47-48% with a "normal" MgO content of about 5% and "low" CaO/Al2O3.

The southern lavas are significantly higher in MgO (~6.5%) and CaO/Al2O3 with fewer phenocrysts that comprise barely 10% of the rock. Olivine crystals are decidedly more magnesian (Fo 82-76), although other minerals are much like those described above, with plagioclase An 80.8-63.8/Or 0.8-1.3, clinopyroxene En 42-34/Fs 12-15.7, and titanomagnetite Usp 37-42.7. It must be pointed out, however, that plagioclase and titanomagnetite are here almost entirely confined within the groundmass, a characteristic that is uncommon in Etnean lavas and characterizes some of the most basaltic samples.

A particularity of the southern 2002 lavas is the presence of destabilized amphibole crystals, together with quartz-bearing inclusions (sandstones) surrounded by a reaction rim of pyroxene and embedded in a rhyolitic matrix. These characteristics are quite similar to those already found in the 2001 lavas emitted at 2,100 m elevation on this same flank (BGVN 26:10). The 2002 amphibole is present in rarer and smaller "megacrysts" that do not exceed 2 cm in length and display a reaction rim composed of rhonite, anorthitic plagioclase, and olivine within a silicic and potassic glass. Its chemical composition is similar to that of the 2001 amphibole.

Orthopyroxene was found in a southern flow emitted at the very beginning of the eruption (27 October). The average of 16 microprobe analyses is as follows (Centre de microanalyse Camparis, University of Paris 6): SiO2, 53.18; TiO2, 0.23; Al2O3, 0.79; Cr2O3, 0.04; FeO, 19.43; MnO, 0.80; MgO, 23.52; CaO, 1.72; Na2O, 0.05; Total, 99.75. The composition is thus hypersthene close to bronzite, typical of basalts or basaltic andesites. Hypersthene here occurs as crystals 0.5-0.7 mm in length, always surrounded by clinopyroxene. The two minerals are not in equilibrium as indicated by their different Mg values (0.69 for Opx, 0.71 to 0.78 for Cpx). This is the first time that such large crystals of orthopyroxene have been observed in lavas of the last tens of thousand years. Orthopyroxene is very rare at Etna, being previously found on only two or three occasions in pre-Etnean basalts about 200,000 years old.

Olivine separates from both N and S lavas (~100 crystals each) were microprobed, showing a single distribution for the N flank of Fo 69-70 for 65% of the crystals. The S lavas have a twofold behavior with Fo 78-81 for 37% of the crystals and Fo 73-75 for 45% of them. These results are similar to what was found between the upper southern 2001 lavas (including the NE flank below Pizzi Deneri) and those emitted at lower elevation (S 2,600 m and S 2,100 m). It is worth noting that the 2,600 m S vent of the 2001 eruption is close (~1 km) to the 2,700 m S vent of the 2002 eruption.

Based on these preliminary results, the low porphyritic index added to the whole rock chemical composition and that of the olivine crystals, a common origin is suggested for the southern 2002 lavas and those emitted low on the S flank during the 2001 eruption.

Reference. Tanguy, J.C., Condomines, M., and Kieffer, G., 1997, Evolution of the Mount Etna magma: Constraints on the present feeding system and eruptive mechanism: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 75, p. 221-250.

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: Roberto Clocchiatti, CNRS-CEN Saclay, Lab. Pierre Süe, 91191 Gif sur Yvette, France; Jean-Claude Tanguy, Univ. Paris 6 & Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Observatoire de St. Maur, 94107 St. Maur des Fossés, France.


Piton de la Fournaise (France) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Piton de la Fournaise

France

21.244°S, 55.708°E; summit elev. 2632 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Infrared data from November-December 2002 eruption

Following the 16 November-3 December 2002 eruption (BGVN 27:11), the Observatoire volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise reported on 19 December that very strong seismicity had continued at a rate of more than 1,000 earthquakes per day. The earthquakes were located a few hundred meters below Dolomieu crater.

MODIS tracking of effusive activity during 2000-2002. The November-December 2002 eruption was detected by the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology MODIS thermal alert system (http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/). The eruption was apparent as a major hot spot in the SW sector of Reunion (figure 66). The first image on which activity was flagged was that of 1030 (0630 UTC) on 16 November 2002. At that point the flagged anomaly was six 1-km pixels (E-W) by 2-3 pixels (N-S). The hot spot attained roughly the same locations and dimensions on all subsequent images, where hot pixels were flagged on 16 images during November 16-3 December 2002. The exception was an image acquired at 2255 (1855 UTC) on 30 November (figure 66), on which the hot spot attained its largest dimensions of ~12 x 5 pixels. The increase in hot spot dimensions towards the end of November is also apparent in the radiance trace (figure 67). However, without examination of the raw images HIGP scientists cannot determine from the hot spot data alone whether this recovery was due to an increase in activity or an improvement in cloud conditions. This was the 6th eruption of Piton de la Fournaise tracked by the MODIS thermal alert (Flynn et al., 2002; Wright et al., 2002) since its inception during April 2000 (figure 68).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Hot-spot pixels flagged at Piton de la Fournaise by the MODIS thermal alert at 0630 UTC on 16 November 2002 (top) and 1855 UTC on 30 November 2002 (bottom). Courtesy of the HIGP Thermal Alerts Team.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. Piton de la Fournaise hot spot radiance detected by MODIS during 15 November-5 December 2002. Courtesy of the HIGP Thermal Alerts Team.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Piton de la Fournaise hot spot radiance detected by MODIS during April 2000-December 2002. Courtesy of the HIGP Thermal Alerts Team.

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

Flynn, L.P., Wright, R., Garbeil, H., Harris, A.J.L., and Pilger, E, 2002, A global thermal alert using MODIS: initial results from 2000-2001: Advances in Environmental Monitoring and Modeling (http://www.kcl.ac.uk/kis/ schools/hums/geog/advemm.html), v. 1, no. 3, p. 5-36.

Geologic Background. The massive Piton de la Fournaise basaltic shield volcano on the French island of Réunion in the western Indian Ocean is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Much of its more than 530,000-year history overlapped with eruptions of the deeply dissected Piton des Neiges shield volcano to the NW. Three calderas formed at about 250,000, 65,000, and less than 5000 years ago by progressive eastward slumping of the volcano. Numerous pyroclastic cones dot the floor of the calderas and their outer flanks. Most historical eruptions have originated from the summit and flanks of Dolomieu, a 400-m-high lava shield that has grown within the youngest caldera, which is 8 km wide and breached to below sea level on the eastern side. More than 150 eruptions, most of which have produced fluid basaltic lava flows, have occurred since the 17th century. Only six eruptions, in 1708, 1774, 1776, 1800, 1977, and 1986, have originated from fissures on the outer flanks of the caldera. The Piton de la Fournaise Volcano Observatory, one of several operated by the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, monitors this very active volcano.

Information Contacts: Observatoire volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise, 14 RN3, le 27Km, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France; Andy Harris, Luke Flynn, Harold Garbeil, Eric Pilger, Matt Patrick, and Robert Wright, HIGP Thermal Alerts Team, Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) / School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), University of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).


Galeras (Colombia) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Galeras

Colombia

1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Phreatic explosion in June 2002; increased long-period seismicity in late 2002

A slight increase in the number of volcano-tectonic (VT) and long-period (LP) events occurred during April through September 2002, although the energy levels diminished. Between October and December 2002, scientists noted a small decrease in VT seismicity and a considerable increase in seismic activity related to fluid-movement. An increase in LP signals, difficult to classify due to their non-typical signatures, coincided with strong rainfall over Pasto and the volcano. The geothermal system at Galeras, with fumarolic zones having temperatures between 100 and 370°C, easily interacts with rainwater, producing exothermic reactions with seismic and near-surface manifestations.

During April-June, there were 191 VT events with a seismic energy release of 1.08 x 1016 erg. Both the number of events and the total energy increased during July-September, when 209 VT events with a seismic energy release of 5.64 x 1015 erg were recorded. In comparison, there were 197 VT events with an energy release of 2.86 x 1015 erg during October-December. The vast majority of the events occurred close to the active crater and in the volcanic edifice. Other earthquakes occurred at depths of 0.2-16 km beneath the summit throughout the second half of 2002.

Volcano-tectonic earthquakes were felt in Pasto on 8 April (2 km deep, ML 3.6), 17 April (2 km deep, ML 4.2), 28 April (12 km deep, ML 3.2), 24 May (8 km deep, ML 2.3), 21 June (9 km deep, ML 3.0), 22 July (5 km deep, ML 2.7), and 1 November (5 km depth, ML 3.2, 3.8 km from the crater). The 17 April event was followed by 12 aftershocks from the main crater area; the strongest was ML 2.6. In Consacá, two events were felt on 12 August within 4 minutes of each other (5 km deep, ML 2.9 and 3.4). The strongest 12 August earthquake was located ~6 km SW of the crater. A strong event on 20 December (4 km deep, ML 3.6) was felt in the town of Yacuanquer and was centered ~5 km SW of the active crater.

During April-June, 111 LP events and 82 spasmodic tremor episodes were registered with a total energy release of 2.89 x 1014 erg. Some spasmodic tremor episodes were harmonic, with dominant frequencies of 2.5-2.7 Hz. Seismic events related to fluid movements during July through September had low frequencies between 2 and 3 Hz and high frequencies of 10.5, 12.1, 13.7, and 14.1 Hz. These frequencies appeared all over the local reporting stations. In total, there were 161 registered LP events and 17 spasmodic tremor episodes with a total energy release of 1.1 x 1014 erg. In addition, some spasmodic tremor episodes were of the harmonic type with dominant frequencies of 2.5 and 3.0 Hz. During October-December the frequencies exhibited spikes between 10 and 16 Hz. Sometimes these events showed one or more precursor signals with very short amplitude and appeared in doubles or triplets. The frequencies kept on time over many stations indicating a processes more directly related to the source rather than the path or station site. Overall, there were 1,541 LP events and 209 spasmodic tremor episodes in October-December with a total energy release of 2.65 x 1015 erg.

Reactivation of El Pinta Crater. Slight gas emissions were observed at the end of May from the El Pinta crater (E of the main crater), inactive since 1991. On 5 June 2002 began the number of daily seismic events increased. A team visiting the summit on 7 June noted an increase in the quantity and pressure of gas emissions at different points of the main crater and in El Pinta. However, temperatures did not show significant variations compared to previous months. Elevated temperatures were observed toward the SW sector of the active cone with values of 340°C at the Las Chavas fumarole field. Also on 7 June spasmodic tremor was registered at the observatory that signified a hydrothermal event. A subsequent field inspection observed a fine layer of ash and precipitate sulfur, besides great gas emission from El Pinta. The material emitted by El Pinta consisted of lapilli, ash, and clay; a high percentage of the sample was pre-existing material. Some reports of gas emissions coincide with spasmodic tremor records at the Galeras observatory site. After 11 June this activity began to decrease. The VT earthquakes that accompanied this activity were located in the main crater zone with depths to 3 km.

Geologic Background. Galeras, a stratovolcano with a large breached caldera located immediately west of the city of Pasto, is one of Colombia's most frequently active volcanoes. The dominantly andesitic complex has been active for more than 1 million years, and two major caldera collapse eruptions took place during the late Pleistocene. Long-term extensive hydrothermal alteration has contributed to large-scale edifice collapse on at least three occasions, producing debris avalanches that swept to the west and left a large horseshoe-shaped caldera inside which the modern cone has been constructed. Major explosive eruptions since the mid-Holocene have produced widespread tephra deposits and pyroclastic flows that swept all but the southern flanks. A central cone slightly lower than the caldera rim has been the site of numerous small-to-moderate historical eruptions since the time of the Spanish conquistadors.

Information Contacts: Marta Calvache, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Pasto (OVSP), INGEOMINAS, Carrera 31, 18-07 Parque Infantil, P.O. Box 1795, Pasto, Colombia (URL: https://www2.sgc.gov.co/volcanes/index.html).


Klyuchevskoy (Russia) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Klyuchevskoy

Russia

56.056°N, 160.642°E; summit elev. 4754 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity above background levels; explosion and thermal anomaly

Seismicity was above background levels at Kliuchevskoi during 29 November 2002 through at least 4 March 2003. Tens of earthquakes per day were recorded, mostly at depths of ~30 km (table 8), and intermittent spasmodic volcanic tremor occurred. During December through February, gas-and-steam plumes generally rose up to 2 km above the crater. The Concern Color Code fluctuated between Yellow and Orange, but by the end of the report period remained at Yellow.

Table 8. Earthquakes recorded at Kliuchevskoi during 29 November 2002-28 February 2003. Courtesy KVERT.

Date Earthquakes per day
29 Nov-04 Dec 2002 Up to 33
06 Dec-13 Dec 2002 12-24
13 Dec-20 Dec 2002 6-12
19 Dec-25 Dec 2002 6-9
26 Dec-03 Jan 2003 3-11
06 Jan-09 Jan 2003 10-23
10 Jan-12 Jan 2003 12-28
13 Jan-15 Jan 2003 33-35
31 Jan-07 Feb 2003 16-39
07 Feb-14 Feb 2003 17-30
13 Feb-19 Feb 2003 14-81
21 Feb-28 Feb 2003 10-14

Visual observations and video recordings from the town of Klyuchi revealed that a plume from an explosion on 24 December 2002 rose 4 km above the crater and drifted WSW. On 5 January 2003 a faint thermal anomaly, and probable mud flow down the SSE slope were visible on satellite imagery. According to KVERT, the thermal anomaly and mud flow indicated that a lava flow may have begun to travel down the SSE slope. A probable mudflow, seen on the SE slope on 7 January, may have emerged after a short explosion to the SE or E, or after powerful fumarolic activity in the crater. During the week of 26 February-4 March, gas-and-steam plumes rose to low levels and possible ash deposits on the volcano's SE summit were visible on satellite imagery.

Geologic Background. Klyuchevskoy (also spelled Kliuchevskoi) is Kamchatka's highest and most active volcano. Since its origin about 6000 years ago, the beautifully symmetrical, 4835-m-high basaltic stratovolcano has produced frequent moderate-volume explosive and effusive eruptions without major periods of inactivity. It rises above a saddle NE of sharp-peaked Kamen volcano and lies SE of the broad Ushkovsky massif. More than 100 flank eruptions have occurred during the past roughly 3000 years, with most lateral craters and cones occurring along radial fissures between the unconfined NE-to-SE flanks of the conical volcano between 500 m and 3600 m elevation. The morphology of the 700-m-wide summit crater has been frequently modified by historical eruptions, which have been recorded since the late-17th century. Historical eruptions have originated primarily from the summit crater, but have also included numerous major explosive and effusive eruptions from flank craters.

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


Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Ol Doinyo Lengai

Tanzania

2.764°S, 35.914°E; summit elev. 2962 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuing lava flows and vent activity in late December 2002

Claude Grandpey visited Ol Doinyo Lengai on 29-30 December 2002 during a trip organized by the French agency Aventure et Volcans. The group arrived on the crater rim late in the morning and noted a very active lava lake in the T49 vent that began to overflow a few minutes later. The resulting lava flow was ~10-15 m wide and reached a length of ~50 m before stopping when the overflow ended after a few minutes. The temperature inside the solid flow, measured some 2 hours after it had stopped, was 462°C.

The T49 lake, roughly circular and ~5 m in diameter, was extremely active and noisily ejecting blobs of fluid lava (figure 77). This type of activity lasted all day, without additional lava flows. After several hours of careful observations, Grandpey climbed the cone and stood a few meters from the lava lake. He noted that the lake was being fed in an oblique way from a vent on its SW side; the lava would flow to the E inner side before being projected back to the W and splashing out. The pressure of the lava as it splashed against the E side could be felt, and the whole cone was vibrating. In the evening the activity decreased at the lake, and a small vent opened a few meters to the E, emitting occasional vertical squirts of lava. All the time they stayed in the crater, cone T40 kept roaring, but no lava emissions were seen.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Photograph of activity at Ol Doinyo Lengai vent T49, 29 December 2002. Courtesy of Claude Grandpey.

After a night of heavy rain, the group visited the crater one more time. No lava flow had occurred during the night. Another lake was still bubbling at T49, at the exact spot were lava was squirting vertically the day before. It was violently throwing blobs of lava on its outer slopes.

Geologic Background. The symmetrical Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only volcano known to have erupted carbonatite tephras and lavas in historical time. The prominent stratovolcano, known to the Maasai as "The Mountain of God," rises abruptly above the broad plain south of Lake Natron in the Gregory Rift Valley. The cone-building stage ended about 15,000 years ago and was followed by periodic ejection of natrocarbonatitic and nephelinite tephra during the Holocene. Historical eruptions have consisted of smaller tephra ejections and emission of numerous natrocarbonatitic lava flows on the floor of the summit crater and occasionally down the upper flanks. The depth and morphology of the northern crater have changed dramatically during the course of historical eruptions, ranging from steep crater walls about 200 m deep in the mid-20th century to shallow platforms mostly filling the crater. Long-term lava effusion in the summit crater beginning in 1983 had by the turn of the century mostly filled the northern crater; by late 1998 lava had begun overflowing the crater rim.

Information Contacts: Claude Grandpey, L'Association Volcanologique Européenne (LAVE), 7, rue de la Guadeloupe, 75018, Paris, France.


Monowai (New Zealand) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Monowai

New Zealand

25.887°S, 177.188°W; summit elev. -132 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Volcanic earthquake swarm during 1-24 November eruption

Numerous eruptions of Monowai Seamount (also known as Orion Seamount), an active volcano located in the Kermadec Island arc, were detected by the Polynesian Seismic Research (Reseau Sismique Polynesien, RSP) seismic network in Tahiti (figure 8). Strong T-phase waves were recorded at all of the stations in the RSP network (figure 9). The last reports of Monowai eruption activities were in January 1998 (BGVN 23:01), June 1999 (BGVN 24:06), and May 2002 (BGVN 27:05).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Map of the South Pacific Ocean showing the location of some RSP (Reseau Sismique Polynesien) seismic network stations (circles indicate area of island group with labeled stations) and Monowai Seamount (star). All seismic stations are inland; there are no hydrophones in the network. Stations shown include VAH and PMOR (Tuamotu archipelago), PAE, PPT, TVO, and TIAR (Society Islands), TBI (Austral Islands), and RKT (Gambier archipelago). Courtesy of Laboratoire de Geophysique, Tahiti.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Example of strong T-phase waves detected by the RSP from Monowai, 18 November 2002 (times are UTC). All the seismic stations in the network recorded the wave generated during eruption of the volcano. Note the good signal coherency between most stations. The record at the PMOR station, located in the north of Rangiroa, was masked for the T waves. Courtesy of Laboratoire de Geophysique, Tahiti.

Geophysical network. The Polynesian Seismic Network is composed of short-period seismic stations on Rangiroa atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago (stations VAH and PMOR), on Tahiti in the Society Islands (stations PAE, PPT, TVO, and TIAR), on Tubuai in the Austral Islands (station TBI), and on Rikitea in the Gambier archipelago (station RKT). There are also three long-period seismic stations in Tahiti, Tubuai, and Rikitea. In addition, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) instruments located in Tahiti include a mini-array of micro-barographs, a primary seismic station (station PS18 at Papeete), and a radionuclide station.

Earthquake swarm. A volcanic earthquake swarm started on 1 November 2002 at 1200 UTC with strong explosive T-phase waves recorded by the RSP network (figure 10). The swarm stopped temporarily between 8 and 17 November; a second, very intense swarm started on 17 November (figure 11) and ended on 24 November. From inversion of T-phase wave arrival times, it was deduced that the swarm was located around Monowai Seamount. Because of the small aperture of the RSP network, the location is poorly constrained in longitude, but well constrained in latitude (figure 12). The source of the T-phase waves is most probably at Monowai.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Daily history of the Monowai swarm. The maximum number of daily events was on 21 November, but the higher amplitude T-phase waves were detected during 17-19 November. Courtesy of Laboratoire de Geophysique, Tahiti.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Daily history of amplitude (in nanometers) of Monowai swarm T-phase waves recorded at TVO station on Tahiti. The maximum intensity was between 17 and 19 November. These amplitudes should correlate to ground vibrations generated by the volcanic eruptions. Courtesy of Laboratoire de Geophysique, Tahiti.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Map showing the best source locations of the swarms using the entire seismic network. The star is Monowai Seamount, and the dots are possible source epicenters. The effect of linearity observed on the epicenters is due essentially to the aperture size of the network, but note that the latitude is well constrained. Courtesy of Laboratoire de Geophysique, Tahiti.

Regarding T-Phase waves. A short-period wave group from a seismic source that has propagated in part through the ocean is called T-phase or T(ertiary)-wave (Linehan, 1940; Tolstoy and Ewing, 1950; Walker and Hammond, 1998). The wave group propagates with low attenuation as hydro-acoustic (compressional) waves in the ocean, constrained within a low sound speed wave guide (the sound fixing and ranging - SOFAR - channel) formed by the sound speed structure in the ocean. The T-phase signal may be picked up by hydrophones in the ocean or by land seismometers. Upon incidence with the continental shelf/slope, the wave group is transformed into ordinary seismic waves that arrive considerably later than seismic wave groups from the same source that propagated entirely through the solid earth.

References. Brothers, R.N., Heming, R.F., Hawke, M.M., and Davey, F.J., 1980, Tholeiitic basalt from the Monowai seamount, Tonga-Kermadec ridge (Note): New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, v. 23, p. 537-539.

Davey, F.J., 1980, The Monowai Seamount: an active submarine volcanic centre of the Tonga-Kermadec Ridge (Note): New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, v. 23, p. 533-536.

Linehan, D, 1940, Earthquakes in the West Indian region: Transactions, American Geophysical Union, Pt. II, p. 229-232.

Tolstoy, I., and Ewing, M., 1950, The T phase of shallow-focus earthquakes: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 40, p. 25-51.

Walker, D.A., and Hammond, S.R., 1998, Historical Gorda Ridge T-phase swarms; relationships to ridge structure and the tectonic and volcanic state of the ridge during 1964-1966: Deep-Sea Research Part II, v. 45, n. 12, p. 2531-2545.

Geologic Background. Monowai, also known as Orion seamount, rises to within 100 m of the sea surface about halfway between the Kermadec and Tonga island groups. The volcano lies at the southern end of the Tonga Ridge and is slightly offset from the Kermadec volcanoes. Small parasitic cones occur on the N and W flanks of the basaltic submarine volcano, which rises from a depth of about 1500 m and was named for one of the New Zealand Navy bathymetric survey ships that documented its morphology. A large 8.5 x 11 km wide submarine caldera with a depth of more than 1500 m lies to the NNE. Numerous eruptions from Monowai have been detected from submarine acoustic signals since it was first recognized as a volcano in 1977. A shoal that had been reported in 1944 may have been a pumice raft or water disturbance due to degassing. Surface observations have included water discoloration, vigorous gas bubbling, and areas of upwelling water, sometimes accompanied by rumbling noises.

Information Contacts: Dominique Reymond and Olivier Hyvernaud, Laboratoire de Geophysique, CEA/DASE/LDG, Tahiti, PO Box 640, Papeete, French Polynesia.


Montagu Island (United Kingdom) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Montagu Island

United Kingdom

58.445°S, 26.374°W; summit elev. 1370 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Satellite data provide first evidence of Holocene eruptive activity

Although previous eruptions have been recorded elsewhere in the South Sandwich Islands (Coombs and Landis, 1966), ongoing volcanic activity has only recently been detected and studied. These islands (figure 1) are all volcanic in origin, but sufficiently distant from population centers and shipping lanes that eruptions, if and when they do occur, currently go unnoticed. Visual observations of the islands probably do not occur on more than a few days each year (LeMasurier and Thomson, 1990). Satellite data have recently provided observations of volcanic activity in the group, and offer the only practical means to regularly characterize activity in these islands. These observations are especially significant because there has previously been no evidence of Holocene activity on Montagu Island (LeMasurier and Thomson, 1990).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. The South Sandwich Island archipelago, located in the Scotia Sea. The South Sandwich Trench lies approximately 100 km E, paralleling the trend of the islands, where the South American Plate subducts westward beneath the Scotia Plate. Courtesy Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology and British Antarctic Survey.

Using Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data, Lachlan-Cope and others (2001) observed apparent plumes and unreported single anomalous pixels intermittently on images of Montagu Island during March 1995 to February 1998. However, field investigations in January 1997 revealed that Montagu Island, as viewed from Saunders Island, was apparently inactive, with the summit region entirely covered in snow and ice. Hand-held photographs of the island obtained in September 1992 also showed the summit to be wholly inactive.

Significant volcanic activity may have begun on Montagu Island in late 2001 based upon analysis of thermal satellite imagery (1 km pixel size) from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument. Using the automated MODIS Thermal Alert system (Wright and others, 2002), image pixels containing volcanic activity were detected and analyzed to characterize the eruption. From its location, the erupting center may be associated with a small hill on the NW edge of the ice-filled summit caldera, ~6 km from Mount Belinda (figure 2).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Map of Montagu Island with circles showing the location of all anomalous MODIS pixels detected since October 2001. Stippled areas show rock outcrop, the remainder is snow or ice covered. Relief is shown by form lines that should not be interpreted as fixed-interval contours. Map adapted from Holdgate and Baker (1979); courtesy Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology and British Antarctic Survey.

The first thermal alert on Montagu occurred on 20 October 2001 with a single anomalous pixel on the N side of the island. Subsequent anomalies generally involved 1-2 pixels, with the exception of several images in August and September 2002 that peaked at four pixels in size (figures 3 and 4). Visual inspection of the images revealed that the anomalies were all located between the summit of Mount Belinda and the N shore, changing in position either due to satellite viewing geometry or actual migration of hot material. We can generally discount other possible explanations for the anomalies, the most likely being solar reflectance influencing the short-wave bands, due to the presence of clear anomalies in nighttime imagery and the concomitance of apparent low-level ash plumes in several of the images. The persistence of the anomaly, and the lack of large ash plumes, suggests that activity here may involve a lava lake.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Selected MODIS images showing thermal anomalies on Montagu Island. Band 20 (3.7 µm) is shown here. The thermal anomalies appear to be located between the summit of Mount Belinda and the N shore. Images are not georeferenced for purposes of radiance integrity, therefore coastlines are approximate. Courtesy Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology and British Antarctic Survey.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Summed radiance of anomalous pixels in each image. Band 21 (3.9 µm) was used for these plots. Points show the result for each image, and the line is a three point running mean of values. Courtesy Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology and British Antarctic Survey.

References. Coombs, D.S., and Landis, C.A., 1966, Pumice from the South Sandwich eruption of March 1962 reaches New Zealand: Nature, v. 209, p. 289-290.

Holdgate, M.W., and Baker, P.E., 1979, The South Sandwich Islands, I, General description: British Antarctic Survey Science Report, v. 91, 76 p.

Lachlan-Cope, T., Smellie, J.L., and Ladkin, R., 2001, Discovery of a recurrent lava lake on Saunders Island (South Sandwich Islands) using AVHRR imagery: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 112, p. 105-116.

LeMasurier, W.E., and Thomson, J.W. (eds), 1990, Volcanoes of the Antarctic Plate and Southern Oceans: American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C., AGU Monograph, Antarctic Research Series, v. 48.

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

Geologic Background. The largest of the South Sandwich Islands, Montagu consists of a massive shield volcano cut by a 6-km-wide ice-filled summit caldera. The summit of the 10 x 12 km wide island rises about 3000 m from the sea floor between Bristol and Saunders Islands. Around 90% of the island is ice-covered; glaciers extending to the sea typically form vertical ice cliffs. The name Mount Belinda has been applied both to the high point at the southern end of the summit caldera and to the young central cone. Mount Oceanite, an isolated 900-m-high peak with a 270-m-wide summit crater, lies at the SE tip of the island and was the source of lava flows exposed at Mathias Point and Allen Point. There was no record of Holocene or historical eruptive activity until MODIS satellite data, beginning in late 2001, revealed thermal anomalies consistent with lava lake activity that has been persistent since then. Apparent plumes and single anomalous pixels were observed intermittently on AVHRR images during the period March 1995 to February 1998, possibly indicating earlier unconfirmed and more sporadic volcanic activity.

Information Contacts: Matt Patrick, Luke Flynn, Harold Garbeil, Andy Harris, Eric Pilger, Glyn Williams-Jones, and Rob Wright, HIGP Thermal Alerts Team, Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) / School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), University of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); John Smellie, British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingly Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, United Kingdom (URL: https://www.bas.ac.uk/).


Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Aftershocks, lava lake, SO2 fumes, acidic rains, and highly fluorinated water

Nyiragongo was last reported on through late October 2002 (BGVN 27:10). This report covers through 21 December, an interval in which the hazard status remained high, with the population asked to exercise vigilance (code Yellow). Included here are reports from the Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO), and from Dario Tedesco and Simon Carn on geochemistry and atmospheric SO2. Several episodes of strong SO2 outgassing and unfavorable wind directions caused elevated concentrations of the gas to enter cities and acid rain to damage vegetation and water supplies. High fluorine was found in some rainwater samples. The 24 October 2002 earthquake's aftershocks and the state of the volcano led to significant stress on the regional inhabitants, including those in Goma.

During the October-December reporting interval, the GVO reports noted that their roughly weekly Nyiragongo observational climbs disclosed considerable changes on the crater's floor, a spot ~700 m down inside the summit crater. Comparisons between photos taken on 24 November and 9 December 2002 revealed the merging of two adjacent molten-surfaced lakes and the birth of another similar, though smaller, lava lake at a point well over 100 m away from the merged ones. The deep crater is often filled with fumes too dense to clearly see the crater floor, and in the above-mentioned cases photographers had just 5 to 10 seconds of moderate visibility to capture their photos. This helps explain why the status and behavior of the lava lakes is often ambiguous (see BGVN 26:03). Adequate visibility during a climb on 18 December revealed that the sole lava lake seen then stood ~45 m in diameter, its surface restless and agitated.

In accord with one or more dynamic and molten-surfaced lava lakes on 20 December, SO2 gas blew into Goma, causing residents to panic. Scoria falls were noted in late October, and in one particular case by residents of the SW-flank settlement of Rusayo at around 1100 on 15 November. It was noted in October that vegetation surrounding the crater's perimeter, particularly on the W flank, had sustained acid burns from abundant degassing. During October-21 December vapors over the crater frequently glimmered red at night. The 15 November visit disclosed the escape of high-temperature gases and the existence of fissures cutting across the residual platform of 17 January 2002 deposits. Fumaroles along fissures discharged gases. SW-flank fissures were also seen.

GVO summarized the volcano observations for the interval 15-28 December 2002, noting a permanent strong gas plume at 4,200-6,000 m altitudes. They again confirmed a permanent small lava lake, about 50 m in diameter with a central active lava fountain sending molten material to ~40 m heights. Minor amounts of Pelé's-hair ash fell in both Rusayo and Kibati villages. Residents of those villages and Kibumba reported seeing incandescence in the crater.

Residents of Kibati and Kibumba were greatly concerned the night of 27-28 November due to visible glimmer that appeared be coming toward them from Nyiragongo. The glimmer was benign activity in the crater rather than lava flows descending the flanks. This behavior was associated with lava-lake degassing.

Other observatory projects in late October to late December included the installation and maintenance of lake-level sensors on Lake Kivu, installation of thermal sensors at selected spots, and improved seismic telemetry.

Deformation surveys on 31 October, 2 November, and 13 November 2002 measured the distance between cross-fracture survey points (nails) along the scarps of Monigi, Lemera, and Shaheru. The results indicated that offsets remained comparatively stable, with little change compared to previous measurements (table 6). New cross-fracture measurements were also initiated at the Mapendo station. Data collected in late December continued to lack evidence of new deformation.

Table 6. Nyiragongo deformation measured along scarps on 2 and 13 November. These reportedly showed strong consistency with preceding measurements. New measurements were initiated at newly established survey points on 13 November. These were in the Mapendo neighborhood (a site towards Gift Bosco) on a revived fracture there. Courtesy of OVG.

Date Monigi Lemera Virunga Shaheru Mapendo
02 Nov 2002 8.31 m 7.55 m 93.4 cm 14.72 m --
13 Nov 2002 8.31 m 7.55 m 93.4 cm -- 15.4 cm

Geochemistry. SO2 fluxes increased during October and November 2002, rising from below detection limits to a few thousands metric tons per day (t/d), then to up to ~20,000 t/d. Dario Tedesco suggested that the increase might be due to a more efficient conduit geometry allowing gases access to the surface. The process may have accompanied upward movement of magma or its arrival at the surface.

During the last half of November through 2 December the TOMS SO2 estimates were under reliable detection limits due low concentrations. After that, on 7 and 11 December, respectively, TOMS data measured considerable SO2, ~12,000 and ~11,000 metric tons per day (t/d) (table 7).

Table 7. SO2 fluxes at Nyiragongo based on the TOMS instrument. Courtesy of Simon Carn.

Date Daily SO2 flux (t/d)
16 Nov-02 Dec 2002 Not significant
03 Dec 2002 Less than 5,000 (weak signal)
04 Dec 2002 Data gap - no data over Nyiragongo
05 Dec 2002 ~6,000
06 Dec 2002 Data gap - no data over Nyiragongo
07 Dec 2002 ~12,000
08 Dec 2002 Data gap - no data over Nyiragongo
09 Dec 2002 Less than 5,000 (weak signal)
10 Dec 2002 Data gap - no data over Nyiragongo
11 Dec 2002 Less than 5,000 (very weak signal)
12 Dec 2002 Data gap - no data over Nyiragongo
13 Dec 2002 ~11,000

Thus the degassing had not risen to peak October-November levels, but increased since early December, either in terms of plume altitude, SO2 concentration, or both. Simon Carn noted that "We are also sometimes seeing discrete SO2 clouds to the W of the volcano, rather than SO2 plumes emerging from the volcano, perhaps suggesting discontinuous degassing."

Tedesco also pointed out that the higher SO2 fluxes accompanied acid rain falling on Goma and surroundings, with some rain samples also containing up to 15 parts per million (ppm) fluorine ion. (For comparison, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a standard in drinking water at 0.7-1.2 ppm, a level that provides a means of preventing tooth decay without compromising public safety.) In December 2002, Goma residents complained about the acid rain, which besides affecting drinking water, put area crops in danger. Accordingly, scientists began collecting rainwater samples with the intent of carrying out regular analyses.

SO2 blew towards the S on 4 and 5 November exposing people on the upper S flanks. Researchers measured gas concentrations in Goma on 20 November at 20 selected points. They found CO2 concentrations of 0-4%, and much lower concentrations of CH4, H2S, and CO. On 4-5 December the wind carried SO2 gas into S-flank settlements. During the December, analysis of fumaroles at Sake, Mupambiro, Bulengo, and Himbi revealed similar concentrations to those seen in earlier visits (including the elevated values at Sake/Birere, which in October 2002 measured 35.1% CO2, and Mupambiro, which on 7 December measured 63.1% CO2). It was expected that the current rainy season favored enhanced CO2 flow from the ground.

Nyiragongo summit geochemical surveys in mid-November found temperature elevations of 1°C (except one summit site with a 5.7°C rise). CO2 concentrations had then risen to 3%. In a fissure called Shaheru, CO2 concentrations stood at 53%. Methane was found at all sites in dilute concentrations, ~0.1 %. H2S was below the limit of detection at all the visited sites.

The human side of January 2002 volcanism and the 24 October earthquake. Aftershocks to the unusually large earthquake of 24 October 2002 continued to be felt in the epicentral area through December. For example, Goma residents felt an M 4 tectonic earthquake with a 13 km focal depth on 13 December.

Field excursions in the reporting period revealed that the 24 October 2002 earthquake and aftershocks damaged towns in the Kitembo and Minova areas (including the towns Lwiro and Nyabibwe). The visits suggested that no lives were lost but about ten houses sustained cracks. Residents there still remained in need of humanitarian assistance, including safe housing, food, and medicine.

The December aftershocks were not reported to have caused significant damage; however, an earlier Reuters news article, published on 24 January 2002, described how about six days after the volcanism ceased in Goma, residents there had "flocked to receive aid" at distribution points, many having then gone about a week without food supplies. The news article went on to say, "the UN aims to distribute about 260 tonnes of food, which it says is enough to feed 70,000 people for a week. Each family-of an assumed seven people on average-will receive 26 kg of highly nutritious supplies including maize meal, beans, vegetable oil, and corn soya blend." The aid groups also distributed clean drinking water. The intensity of the volcanic and earthquake disasters had clearly left residents weakened and with reduced food security.

Previous Bulletin reports have included relatively few photographs of the scene in Goma due to the January 2002 eruption when lava flows overran the city. Figures 23-26, all sent to us by Wafula Mifundi, are intended to help make up for this deficiency. In many cases within Goma intense fires accompanied the lava flows. Several of the photos provided by Wafula captured these fires, including a devastating fire at a fuel depot, which accompanied an explosion that was widely discussed in the news. The photos presented here omit those of the larger fires and instead illustrate other important aspects of the crisis and its aftermath.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. During Nyiragongo's January 2002 eruption lavas transected Goma, a city of about a half-million people. The summit of Nyiragongo lies ~ 20 km to the N. In the foreground, middle-ground, and central background lie destroyed buildings and gardens, and what has now become a field of rubble atop the rapidly cooled, thin lava flows of the January eruption. Note that the rubble contains abundant light-colored building material, such as concrete chunks dispersed from downed buildings. Unburned wood and some leaves may represent unburned portions of trees that came into contact with cooler lava surfaces at temperatures below their kindling point. Leaves and other fallen and wind-blown plant debris may have accumulated later. Date of photo is undisclosed. Courtesy of Wafula.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Nyiragongo lavas inundated these structures on 17 January 2002. A family took refuge in the lower portion of the building in the center. Trapped there by lava flows, one or more people died, including an infant. Provided courtesy of Wafula.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. This photo shows some of the remarkably thin and mobile lava flows pouring through a narrow chute (behind the car and in line with the left-most opening in the low structure's wall). Below that, the lava spreads and descends across a lawn. Provided courtesy of Wafula.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Nyiragongo's January 2002 lavas slowly advancing across a road at an intersection. This area of Goma is called Signers rotary point. The sign advertises the Ishango Guest House. Note the lava-immersed but still-standing tree, which at this stage, may have only had substantial burns near the base of its trunk. Provided courtesy of Wafula.

Seismicity. The late October-early November 2002 earthquakes that were interpreted as magmatic, were relatively deep, at 10-25 km. Most of these earthquakes occurred in an elliptical area, although some struck ten's of kilometers W of Goma beneath the Bay of Sake in Lake Kivu, an area where previous earthquakes have sometimes occurred.

During the first half of November seismicity dropped significantly. It was noted that the operational seismic network then consisted of seven stations (table 8); an eighth station was not functioning. During November tectonic seismicity returned to normal; however, magmatic seismicity continued. In the week ending on the 9th, magmatic seismicity centered on the N side of Nyamuragira, a zone adjacent its recent eruption. In contrast, during this same interval earthquakes were rare at Nyiragongo, although gas escaping the crater remained visible from Goma, certifying ongoing intra-crater activity. During the week ending on the 16th, some earthquakes were centered about Nyiragongo. During the latter half of December most of the region's high-frequency and volcano- tectonic earthquakes were associated with an epicentral zone stretching from the 24 October major earthquake near Kalehe to W of Nyamuragira. Some HF events also occurred in the Nyiragongo vicinity too.

Table 8. Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira earthquakes and tremor recorded at Katale and Rusayo stations during November-December 2002. The Katale station sits on the E flank of Nyamuragira; the Rusayo station, on the SW flank of Nyiragongo. The dates on the left are for weekly intervals, except the last entry, which is for a 2-week interval (a fortnight). In the last entry, the elevated high-frequency earthquake count at Katale station was due to a swarm to N of Nyamuragira on 27-28 December. Courtesy of GVO.

 

End of week (or fortnight) Type A High-Freq Type C Low-Freq Total Tremor - described or minutes with amplitude >= 1 mm
Rusayo seismic station
09 Nov 2002 86 178 264 5838
16 Nov 2002 78 185 263 3956
23 Nov 2002 79 207 286 1435
30 Nov 2002 33 160 193 2508
07 Dec 2002 42 137 179 --
14 Dec 2002 57 124 181 --
(28 Dec 2002) (88) (270) (358) ("Several hours per day")
 
Katale seismic station
09 Nov 2002 137 231 368 3998
16 Nov 2002 114 328 442 7713
23 Nov 2002 118 356 474 Feeble (1 mm)
30 Nov 2002 92 239 331 2248
07 Dec 2002 107 348 455 --
14 Dec 2002 120 169 289 --
(28 Dec 2002) (253) (513) (766) ("Several hours per day") Type A swarm to N of Nyamuragira

The seismic reference stations Katale and Rusayo both registered sub-continuous volcanic tremor during much of the reporting interval (table 8). Rusayo station's tremor was attributed primarily to Nyiragongo, and except for one week in November, it registered the larger share of tremor.

During the week ending 23 November seismicity stayed about the same and tremor dropped considerably, particularly at neighboring volcano Nyamuragira where it was described as feeble (table 8). Banded tremor registered 29 November at the stations of Kunene, Rusayo, Bulengo, Kibumba, and Katale (during 0630-0745 UTC), with the highest amplitude at Katale station, implying Nyamuragira as their source, plausibly a reactivation associated with the 24 October earthquake. Many epicenters also concentrated in the vicinity of that neighboring volcano. On the other hand, epicenters for long-period earthquakes appeared to come from Nyiragongo. The epicenters were determined to a margin of error of ± 2 km.

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

Information Contacts: Kasereka Mahinda, Kavotha Kalendi Sadaka, Celestin Kasereka, Jean-Pierre Bajope, Mathieu Yalire, Arnaud Lemarchand, Jean-Christophe Komorowski, and Paolo Papale, Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; Dario Tedesco, Environmental Sciences Department, Via Vivaldi 43, 81100 Caserta, Italy; Jacques Durieux, Groupe d'Etude des Volcans Actifs (GEVA), 6, Rue des Razes 69320 Feyzin, France; Simon 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://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Reuters News Service; BBC News (URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/).


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Cycles of dome growth and destruction; continuing explosive activity

From November 2002 through mid-February 2003, volcanic activity at Popocatépetl was similar to that during July-October 2002 (BGVN 27:10). Activity consisted principally of small-to-moderate eruptions of steam, gas, and minor amounts of ash, and occasional explosions that ejected incandescent fragments for short distances. Larger explosions on 6 November, 18 and 23 December 2003, 9 January, and during 4-10 February 2003 produced ash plumes that reached approximate heights of 4, 2, 2, 3, and 2 km above the crater, respectively. Volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes (M 2.0-3.2) occurred frequently, most located to the SE, N, and E at depths up to 7.5 km beneath the crater. Episodes of harmonic and low-amplitude tremor were registered almost daily, typically for a few hours.

Until November, the daily emissions reported by the Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED) typically numbered from as few as 5 to as many as 20. In late November, this number increased markedly with 78 detected on 24 November and 40 the following day. Subsequently the daily number of these small-to-moderate emissions occasionally exceeded 30 through mid-February 2003.

New episodes of low-frequency tremor, beginning on 19 November, signaled the growth of a new lava dome within the crater. Aerial photographs obtained by the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation on 2 December confirmed the presence of a fresh lava dome with a base diameter of 180 m, and a height of ~52 m. CENAPRED reported that the explosive activity reported on 18 and 23 December was related to the destruction of the lava dome. Photographs of the lava dome taken on 9 January revealed that the dome's inner crater had subsided. The volume of dome material ejected during the December explosions was calculated to be ~500,000 m3.

CENAPRED stated that explosive activity beginning in mid-January was related to the growth of a new lava dome in the crater. On 22 January a significant increase in volcanic microseismicity was recorded. According to the Washington Volcano Ash Advisory Center, on 25 January an ash emission reached ~10.7 km altitude. The explosion on 4 February ejected incandescent volcanic material that fell as far as ~2 km down the volcano's flanks. Similar emissions continued and were related to partial destruction of the lava dome. According to CENAPRED, as long as there are remains of a lava dome in the crater, a significant chance of further explosive activity remains, including ash emissions and incandescent ejections around the crater. The Alert Level remained at Yellow (second on a scale of three colors) and CENAPRED recommended that people avoid entering the restricted zone that extends 12 km from the crater. However, the road between Santiago Xalitzintla (Puebla) and San Pedro Nexapa (Mexico State), including Paso de Cortés, remained open for controlled traffic.

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

Information Contacts: Alicia Martinez Bringas, Angel Gómez Vázquez, Roberto Quass Weppen, Enrique Guevara Ortiz, Gilberto Castelan, Gerardo Jímenez and Javier Ortiz, Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED), Av. Delfín Madrigal No.665. Coyoacan, México D.F. 04360, Mexico (URL: https://www.gob.mx/cenapred/); Servando De la Cruz-Reyna, Instituto de Geofísica, UNAM. Cd. Universitaria. Circuito Institutos. Coyoácan. México, D.F. 04510 (URL: http://www.geofisica.unam.mx/); Washington Volcano Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/); Associated Press.


Reventador (Ecuador) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Reventador

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ashfall in January, mudflows in February-March; additional data from November

On 3 November 2002, an unexpected eruption occurred at Reventador (BGVN 27:11). The following report provides an update on recent activity and additional information about the November eruption, including discussion of a site visit after the eruption and satellite data.

Recent activity. Seismicity was low during mid-December 2002. On 10 January, Instituto Geofísico (IG) reported that several lahars occurred that day in the Marquer and Reventador rivers. Ashfall was reported in the N sector of Quito, ~90 km to the WSW. In the afternoon a bluish gas column was observed exiting the crater. IG personnel stated that lava was slowly advancing and that 80-90% of the 3 November 2002 pyroclastic-flow deposits were covered by lahars.

During late February, rain generated mudflows that ended near the Montana River and disrupted traffic on a highway. White steam exited the volcano. Seismicity remained low, and was characterized by bands of harmonic tremor and volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes.

Intense rains during the first few days of March caused mudflows and again disrupted traffic. A gas column reached 300-500 m above the summit. Low-level seismicity was characterized by bands of harmonic tremor and a few isolated earthquakes. The seismic station in Copete registered high-frequency signals associated with lahars.

Site visit during 17-19 November 2002. The following report of an investigation of the 3 November 2002 explosion (BGVN 27:11) was submitted by Claus Siebe (Instituto Geofísico (IG), UNAM). Siebe, Jesús Manuel Macías, and Aurelio Fernández were able to fly to Quito on 17 November. On 18 November they interviewed Ing. Marcelo Riaño (general manager of the Trans-Equatorian Oil-Pipeline) as well as Patricia Mothes, Minard Hall, and Hugo Yepes (IG).

On 19 November they arrived in El Chaco (~34 km from Reventador) and traveled to the confluences of the Ríos Marker and Montana with the Río Coca (both are located 8 km from the crater). A small apron of fresh lahar deposits ~300 m wide covered the area adjacent to the Río Marker where the road had been before the 3 November eruption. Several dozens of workers with heavy machinery were trying to make a temporary passage over the gravel and boulder surface for the waiting trucks. For a few minutes they could see for the first and only time a ~1-km-high brownish ash column rising from the crater before incoming clouds hindered further visual contact.

"At the time of our visit, the Río Marker was diminished to such an extent that we could jump from boulder to boulder from one side to the other of the stream without getting wet. The vegetation around the confluence of the rivers was completely destroyed, and surviving trees were scorched and defoliated. The base layer of the fresh deposits consisted of up to 2.5-m-thick, partly matrix-supported, partly clast-supported pyroclastic-flow deposit with abundant wood and charcoal fragments (abundant scoriaceous boulder- and gravel-sized clasts were subrounded while dense clasts were angular). This was overlain by a sequence of several sandy-gravelly lahar units with abundant charcoal supporting larger boulders as well as clasts from the underlying pyroclastic-flow deposit.

About 400 m from the Río Marker, after passing a narrow zone of unaffected vegetation, we were able to reach the Río Montana, where a similar situation was encountered (figure 7). Here, at places the lahar deposits were still steaming with a sulfurous smell. The bridge over the river was destroyed, but the oil pipeline was still basically intact (figure 8). Since the area did not seem safe (the last lahar had been emplaced less than 24 hours prior) the team returned to El Chaco, where they interviewed several people and obtained photographs of the pyroclastic flow and its deposits taken on 3 November 2002 (figures 9-11).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Fresh lahar deposits at Reventador near the confluence of Río Montana with Río Coca on 19 November 2002. According to workers trying to repair the road the still-warm and steaming surface of the lahar deposit shown in the photo was produced during the afternoon of 18 November after heavy rain. This was the 10th lahar event since 3 November. Courtesy of Claus Siebe.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Photo looking downstream near the confluence of Río Montana with Río Coca on the ESE flank of Reventador. In the foreground are the fresh lahar deposits. In the middle ground is the destroyed concrete bridge over the Río Montana as well as the oil-pipeline immediately behind. The bulldozer is trying to built a temporary passage for hundreds of trucks waiting on both sides of the road. In the background is the Río Coca with distal-debris avalanche deposit (19,000 Y BP) forming the vegetated hills behind the river. Photo taken on 19 November shortly after 1300 by Claus Siebe. Courtesy of Claus Siebe.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Pyroclastic flow descending Reventador's SE slopes during the morning of 3 November 2002. Photo was taken from the E (Transoceanic road in the foreground). This anonymous photo was purchased at a small hotel in El Chaco. Courtesy of Claus Siebe.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Fresh pyroclastic-flow deposits from Reventador, produced on 3 November 2002, ponding against the bridge over the Río Montana. This anonymous photo was purchased at a small hotel in El Chaco. Courtesy of Claus Siebe.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Distal pyroclastic-flow deposits from Reventador and scorched vegetation along the Transandean oil-pipeline near the confluence of the Río Montana with the Río Coca. This anonymous photo was purchased at a small hotel in El Chaco. Courtesy of Claus Siebe.

At about 2200 we drove to the summit of a hill (2,959 m elevation) N of Sta. Rosa, 27.5 km from the summit of Reventador. Although the night was clear and we had a good view, the summit was covered by clouds and no incandescence from an advancing lava flow could be seen.

From conversations with personnel from PETROECUADOR, road workers, peasants, etc., the team obtained the following information. Workers from TECHINT, an Argentinian company building a second pipeline parallel to the existing one, were at their campsite near the Río Montana when the eruption started in the early hours of 3 November (it was still dark). The eruption came without prior warning, but they were able to evacuate before strong explosions around 0900 sent pyroclastic flows along the Ríos Montana and Marker. These flows destroyed the road and parts of the new pipeline still under construction. The old pipeline was displaced several meters horizontally but never broke. At places the pyroclastic-flow deposits came to rest in direct contact with the tube. Temperature measurements at points of contact yielded values of 80°C. In subsequent days several lahars came down the Ríos Montana and Marker after heavy rains, further damaging the road (but not the pipeline). The pipeline has continued its operation; it delivers more than 400,000 barrels of oil per day to the Pacific coast.

Inhabitants of the small village of El Reventador, located ~12 km downstream from the confluence of the Ríos Montana and Coca voluntarily evacuated their homes when they heard the explosions around 0900.

One of the scoriaceous juvenile rock samples collected near the confluence of Río Marker with Río Coca was analyzed by X-ray fluorescence and thin sections were made of the same sample. The results revealed that the rock is an andesite (SiO2= 58.1%) similar in composition to those erupted in 1976 (55-58% SiO2).

Satellite data. Simon Carn (NASA/UMBC) reported that TOMS observations of the Reventador eruption clouds during 3-4 November suggest modest SO2 burdens and spatial separation of the emitted SO2 and ash. Carn, with input from Andy Harris, also constructed a timeline of notable events during 3-6 November along with potentially useful satellite images and overpasses (table 2).

Table 2. Preliminary timeline of the November 2002 eruption of Reventador, compiled using satellite imagery and information from IG and the Washington VAAC. Courtesy of Simon Carn and Andy Harris.

Date Time (UTC) Satellite Event
3 Nov 2002 0700 -- Seismic events recorded
3 Nov 2002 0945 GOES-8 Clear - no hot spot
3 Nov 2002 1000 -- Eruption begins; 3 km ash column, incandescent ejecta
3 Nov 2002 1015, 1045, 1115 GOES-8 Clear - no hot spot
3 Nov 2002 1245, 1315, 1345 GOES-8 Ash
3 Nov 2002 1400 -- Main eruption phase; pyroclastic flows reported
3 Nov 2002 1415 GOES-8 Ash, ring-shaped cloud?
3 Nov 2002 1445 GOES-8 Ash
3 Nov 2002 1510 MODIS Terra Ash
3 Nov 2002 1515 GOES-8 Ash
3 Nov 2002 1530 GOME SO2
3 Nov 2002 1543 EP TOMS SO2, ash
3 Nov 2002 1545, 1615, 1645 GOES-8 Ash
3 Nov 2002 1707 NOAA-16 AVHRR Ash
3 Nov 2002 1715 GOES-8 Ash
3 Nov 2002 1722 SeaWiFS Ash
3 Nov 2002 1745 GOES-8 Ash
3 Nov 2002 1810 -- Ash begins to fall in Quito
3 Nov 2002 1815, 1845, 1915, 1945 GOES-8 Ash
3 Nov 2002 2000 -- Ash covers large area of Ecuador, reaching coast
3 Nov 2002 2015 GOES-8 Ash, gravity waves?
3 Nov 2002 2045, 2115, 2145, 2215 GOES-8 Ash, gravity waves
4 Nov 2002 0345, 0415, 0445, 0515, 0545, 0615 GOES-8 Cloud-covered
4 Nov 2002 0625 MODIS Aqua Ash, SO2
4 Nov 2002 0645 GOES-8 Cloud clearing- possible hot spot
4 Nov 2002 0710 NOAA-16 AVHRR Ash
4 Nov 2002 0715, 0745 GOES-8 Hot spot
4 Nov 2002 0815, 0845 GOES-8 Strong hot spot and plume
4 Nov 2002 0915 GOES-8 Strong hot spot and minor plume
4 Nov 2002 0945, 1015 GOES-8 Strong hot and detached minor plume
4 Nov 2002 1045 GOES-8 Hot spot
4 Nov 2002 1115 GOES-8 Ash, strong hot spot and main plume
4 Nov 2002 1145, 1215, 1245, 1315, 1345, 1415 GOES-8 Ash, main plume extends W
4 Nov 2002 1445 GOES-8 Ash, main plume (N arm) reaches coast
4 Nov 2002 1515 GOES-8 Ash
4 Nov 2002 1530 GOME SO2
4 Nov 2002 1555 MODIS Terra SO2
4 Nov 2002 1632 EP TOMS SO2, ash
4 Nov 2002 1715 GOES-8 Plume still attached to hot spot
4 Nov 2002 1835 NOAA-16 AVHRR Ash
4 Nov 2002 1845 MODIS Aqua SO2
5 Nov 2002 1645, 1715, 1745 GOES-8 Low-level ash
5 Nov 2002 1815, 1845, 1915 GOES-8 Low-level ash
6 Nov 2002 1530 GOME SO2
6 Nov 2002 1544, 1634, 1545, 1634, 1546 EP TOMS SO2

The TOMS overpass at 1543 UTC on 3 November captured the early phase of the eruption. An ash signal was localized over the volcano and a more extensive SO2 cloud containing ~12 kilotons SO2 was spreading E and W.

At 1632 UTC on 4 November, TOMS detected several distinct cloud masses. A cloud containing no detectable ash and ~11 kilotons SO2 was situated E of Ecuador on the Perú/Colombia border, a maximum distance of ~600 km from Reventador beyond which a data gap intervened. A second cloud containing ~42 kilotons SO2 and a weak ash signal was observed over the Pacific Ocean around 700 km from the volcano. The highest ash concentrations were detected in a cloud straddling the coast of Ecuador ~260 km W of the volcano that covered ~70,000 km2. This cloud contained little SO2. It is assumed that these clouds (total ~53 kilotons SO2) were erupted on 3 November.

A plume was also detected extending ~200 km W of Reventador, containing ~10 kilotons SO2. Based on high temporal resolution GOES imagery this plume first appeared sometime between 1045 UTC and 1115 UTC on 4 November. Nearby Guagua Pichincha was also reported active at this time by the Washington VAAC, and may have contributed some SO2; the highest SO2 concentrations in the Reventador plume were measured in the TOMS pixel covering Guagua Pichincha.

On 5 November neither SO2 nor ash were detected by TOMS, although a ~700-km-wide data gap occurred off the coast of Ecuador. The TOMS orbit was better placed on 6 November but no SO2 or ash were apparent. However, renewed SO2 emissions were detected on 7 November.

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: P. Ramon, M. Hall, P. Mothes, and H. Yepes, Instituto Geofísico (IG), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Quito (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); Simon A. Carn, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (NASA/UMBC), University of Maryland-Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD (URL: https://jcet.umbc.edu/); Andy Harris, HIGP/SOEST, University of Hawaii at Manoa, HI 96822 USA (URL: http://goes.higp.hawaii.edu/); Claus Siebe and Gabriel Valdez Moreno, Instituto de Geofísica, UNAM, Mexico, D.F.; Jesús Manuel Macías, CIESAS-Mexico, Juarez 87, Tlalpan, DF. CP14000; Aurelio Fernández Fuentes, Centro Universitario de Prevencion de Desastres, Universidad de Puebla, Mexico; Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/).


Ruapehu (New Zealand) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Ruapehu

New Zealand

39.28°S, 175.57°E; summit elev. 2797 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Volcanic tremor episodes and Crater Lake temperature variations

Between 6 and 16 September 2002 the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (IGNS) reported that there were four short-lived episodes of volcanic tremor at Ruapehu. The duration of these episodes ranged from 8 to more than 40 hours. Episodes with similar characteristics were recorded previously in 2002 on 21 February (~12 hours duration), 17 May (~24 hours), 29 May (~18 hours), 17 June (~24 hours), and 15 July (~8 hours). The September events were unusual because there were four tremor episodes in a ten-day period. Another IGNS report on 8 October noted that there had been five short-lived episodes of moderate-strong volcanic tremor since 6 September, with durations of 8 hours to more than 2 days (figure 25). Tremor levels were generally higher than normal background levels starting on 22 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Plot of volcanic tremor amplitudes at Ruapehu, 10 September-8 October 2002. Courtesy of IGNS.

The temperature of Crater Lake during two visits between 16 September and 8 October remained around 19°C, similar to the 19.4°C value measured on 30 August. Intermittent weak seismic tremor continued during November, along with a small number of volcanic earthquakes early in the month. Water temperature of Crater Lake measured during 22-29 November was 24°C, an increase of 5°C from the previous month. Weak tremor continued as of 13 December, accompanied by a small number of minor volcanic earthquakes. Volcanic tremor and earthquakes continued through 19 December, and the water temperature of Crater Lake was reported to be 35°C.

The water temperature measured at Crater Lake at the end of January was 32°C, down 8°C from two weeks earlier (40°C). Minor volcanic tremor continued through February, then steadily declined during 21-28 February to low background levels. On 5 March the temperature measured at Crater Lake had decreased another 2°C to 30°C. The lake was a uniform light gray color with some surface sulfur slicks. Seismic tremor remained at normal levels as of 21 March, but there were periods of moderate tremor on the nights of 14 and 15 March. The temperature of Crater Lake rose to 35°C on 15 March; there were sulfur slicks on the lake surface.

Geologic Background. Ruapehu, one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes, is a complex stratovolcano constructed during at least four cone-building episodes dating back to about 200,000 years ago. The 110 km3 dominantly andesitic volcanic massif is elongated in a NNE-SSW direction and surrounded by another 100 km3 ring plain of volcaniclastic debris, including the Murimoto debris-avalanche deposit on the NW flank. A series of subplinian eruptions took place between about 22,600 and 10,000 years ago, but pyroclastic flows have been infrequent. A single historically active vent, Crater Lake, is located in the broad summit region, but at least five other vents on the summit and flank have been active during the Holocene. Frequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have occurred in historical time from the Crater Lake vent, and tephra characteristics suggest that the crater lake may have formed as early as 3000 years ago. Lahars produced by phreatic eruptions from the summit crater lake are a hazard to a ski area on the upper flanks and to lower river valleys.

Information Contacts: Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (IGNS), Private Bag 2000, Wairakei, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/).


Saunders (United Kingdom) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Saunders

United Kingdom

57.8°S, 26.483°W; summit elev. 843 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake detected in satellite imagery during 1995-2002

Although previous eruptions have been recorded in the South Sandwich Islands (Coombs and Landis, 1966), ongoing volcanic activity has only recently been detected and studied. These islands (figure 1) are all volcanic in origin, but sufficiently distant from population centers and shipping lanes that eruptions, if and when they do occur, currently go unnoticed. Visual observations of the islands probably do not occur on more than a few days each year (LeMasurier and Thomson, 1990). Satellite data have recently provided observations of volcanic activity in the group, and offer the only practical means to regularly characterize activity in these islands.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. The South Sandwich Island archipelago, located in the Scotia Sea. The South Sandwich Trench lies approximately 100 km E, paralleling the trend of the islands, where the South American Plate subducts westward beneath the Scotia Plate. Courtesy Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology and British Antarctic Survey.

Using Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data, Lachlan-Cope and others (2001) discovered and analyzed an active lava lake on the summit of Saunders Island (figure 2) that was continuously present for intervals of several months between March 1995 and February 1998; plumes originating from the island were observed on 77 images during April 1995-February 1998. J.L. Smellie noted that during helicopter overflights on 23 January 1997 (Lachlan-Cope and others, 2001) "dense and abundant white steam was emitted from the crater in large conspicuous puffs at intervals of a few seconds alternating with episodes of less voluminous, more transparent vapour." Smellie also observed that the plume commonly extended ~8-10 km downwind.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Map of Saunders Island, adapted from Holdgate and Baker (1979). Lighter shaded stippled areas show rock outcrop, the remainder is snow or ice covered. Relief is shown by form lines that should not be interpreted as fixed-interval contours. Courtesy Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology and British Antarctic Survey.

The MODIS Thermal Alert system also detected repeated thermal anomalies throughout 2000-2002 in the summit area (figure 3), indicating that activity at the lava lake has continued. Anomalous pixels (1 km pixel size) were detected intermittently and were all 1-2 pixels in size, consistent with the relatively small confines of the crater. The timing of anomalous images in this study likely has more to do with the viewing limitations imposed by weather (persistent cloud cover masks any emitted surface radiance in the majority of images) than it has to do with fluctuations in activity levels, so this plot of radiance (figure 4) should not be used as a proxy for lava lake vigor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Selected MODIS images showing thermal anomalies on Saunders Island. Band 20 (3.7 µm) is shown here. Anomalous pixels on Saunders Island correspond to the lava lake in the summit crater of Mt. Michael volcano. Images are not georeferenced for purposes of radiance integrity, therefore coastlines are approximate. Courtesy Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology and British Antarctic Survey.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Summed radiance of anomalous pixels in each image. Band 21 (3.9 µm) was used for these plots. Points show the result for each image, and the line is a three point running mean of values. Courtesy Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology and British Antarctic Survey.

References. Coombs, D.S., and Landis, C.A., 1966, Pumice from the South Sandwich eruption of March 1962 reaches New Zealand: Nature, v. 209, p. 289-290.

Holdgate, M.W., and Baker, P.E., 1979, The South Sandwich Islands, I, General description: British Antarctic Survey Science Report, v. 91, 76 p.

Lachlan-Cope, T., Smellie, J.L., and Ladkin, R., 2001, Discovery of a recurrent lava lake on Saunders Island (South Sandwich Islands) using AVHRR imagery: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 112, p. 105-116.

LeMasurier, W.E., and Thomson, J.W. (eds), 1990, Volcanoes of the Antarctic Plate and Southern Oceans: American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C., AGU Monograph, Antarctic Research Series, v. 48.

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

Geologic Background. Saunders Island is a volcanic structure consisting of a large central edifice intersected by two seamount chains, as shown by bathymetric mapping (Leat et al., 2013). The young constructional Mount Michael stratovolcano dominates the glacier-covered island, while two submarine plateaus, Harpers Bank and Saunders Bank, extend north. The symmetrical Michael has a 500-m-wide summit crater and a remnant of a somma rim to the SE. Tephra layers visible in ice cliffs surrounding the island are evidence of recent eruptions. Ash clouds were reported from the summit crater in 1819, and an effusive eruption was inferred to have occurred from a N-flank fissure around the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. A low ice-free lava platform, Blackstone Plain, is located on the north coast, surrounding a group of former sea stacks. A cluster of parasitic cones on the SE flank, the Ashen Hills, appear to have been modified since 1820 (LeMasurier and Thomson, 1990). Analysis of satellite imagery available since 1989 (Gray et al., 2019; MODVOLC) suggests frequent eruptive activity (when weatehr conditions allow), volcanic clouds, steam plumes, and thermal anomalies indicative of a persistent, or at least frequently active, lava lake in the summit crater. Due to this observational bias, there has been a presumption when defining eruptive periods that activity has been ongoing unless there is no evidence for at least 10 months.

Information Contacts: Matt Patrick, Luke Flynn, Harold Garbeil, Andy Harris, Eric Pilger, Glyn Williams-Jones, and Rob Wright, HIGP Thermal Alerts Team, Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) / School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), University of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); John Smellie, British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingly Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, United Kingdom (URL: https://www.bas.ac.uk/).


Sheveluch (Russia) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Sheveluch

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued lava dome growth, short-lived explosions, and seismicity

During mid-September 2002 through February 2003 at Shiveluch, a lava dome continued to grow in the active crater. Short-lived explosions generally sent gas-steam plumes tens of meters to ~3 km above the dome. Seismicity remained above background levels. Earthquakes with magnitudes of ~2-2.7, as well as many smaller ones, occurred at depths of 0-6 km (table 5). Thermal anomalies were visible on satellite imagery (table 6). Intermittent spasmodic tremor with amplitudes of 0.3-1.3 x 106 mps occurred throughout the report period.

Table 5. Earthquakes, explosions, and plumes at Shiveluch during 26 September 2002 through February 2003. Courtesy KVERT.

Date Earthquakes Magnitude Explosions Plume height above dome
26 Sep-04 Oct 2002 11 2-2.7 38 1-2.5 km
04 Oct-11 Oct 2002 7 2-2.4 16 1-2 km
11 Oct-18 Oct 2002 4 2-2.2 13 1-2.5 km
18 Oct-25 Oct 2002 -- -- 10 1.0 km
25 Oct-01 Nov 2002 -- -- 8 2 km
01 Nov-08 Nov 2002 -- -- 7 2-3 km
11 Nov 2002 6 2.0-2.4 -- --
11 Nov-14 Nov 2002 5 2.0-2.4 7 2-3 km
14 Nov-20 Nov 2002 6 2.0 19 2-3 km
22 Nov-29 Nov 2002 2 1.9 8 1-2 km
29 Nov-06 Dec 2002 -- -- 9 1-2 km
06 Dec-13 Dec 2002 3 1.7-2.3 8 1-2 km
13 Dec-20 Dec 2002 1 1.8 7 1-2 km
20 Dec-27 Dec 2002 -- -- 6 2-3 km
27 Dec-03 Jan 2003 -- -- 25 2 km
03 Jan-10 Jan 2003 -- -- 11 1.5 km
10 Jan-17 Jan 2003 -- -- 12 2 km
17 Jan-24 Jan 2003 -- -- 11 2 km
31 Jan-07 Feb 2003 6 1.6-2.5 -- 1.5 km
07 Feb-14 Feb 2003 -- -- 10 1.0 km
14 Feb-21 Feb 2003 -- -- 17 1.5 km
21 Feb-28 Feb 2003 1 2.1 14 3.0 km

Table 6. Plumes at Shiveluch visible on satellite imagery during October 2002 through February 2003. Courtesy KVERT.

Date Number of pixels Max band-3 temp. (°C) Background (°C) Comment
02 Oct 2002 2-3 40.46-45.48 ~-10 to -3 A 15 km faint plume extended to the SE
27 and 30 Sep, 01-03 Oct 2002 2-4 -- -- On 2 October, an 80-km plume extending to the SE was observed in a NOAA16 image
05 Oct-07 Oct 2002 2-8 36.81-49.35 ?-14-0 On 6 October, a 111-km plume extended to the SE
09 Oct-10 Oct 2002 2-8 -- -- --
11 Oct-13 Oct 2002 2 15-49 -19 to -6 --
12 Oct-14 Oct 2002 2-3 -- -- --
21-22, 24-25 Oct 2002 1-8 33-49 -20 to -1 On 22 October a faint plume extended 125 km to the SE
21 Oct-24 Oct 2002 1-5 -- -- NOAA12, NOAA16, and MODIS imagery
27 Oct-30 Oct 2002 2-6 17-36 -22 to -6 AVHRR
27 Oct-30 Oct 2002 2-6 -- -- NOAA12, NOAA16, MODIS
08 Nov-09 Nov 2002 2-4 34-49 -20 to -4 AVHRR; On 8 November a faint ~11-km-long plume extended to the SE, visible on band-3
08 Nov and 09 Nov 2002 4, 9 -- -- MODIS
08 Nov-11 Nov 2002 2-4 -- -- NOAA12 and NOAA16
11 and 13 Nov 2002 4-5 40-49 -18 to -10 AVHRR
11-13 Nov 2002 2-5 -- -- NOAA12 and NOAA16
13 Nov 2002 4 -- -- MODIS from Sakhalin
16-19, 22 Nov 2002 2-6 2-49 -26 to -20 AVHRR and MODIS; On 17-18 November, 20-km and 70-km-long gas-steam plumes extended to the WNW and SSE, respectively
23, 25-27 Nov 2002 1-5 1-49 -27 to -20 AVHRR and MODIS; on 27 November a 150-km-long gas-steam plume extended to the NE
29 Nov-05 Dec 2002 2-5 -1 to 49 -31 to -20 AVHRR and MODIS; on 29 November, a possible steam-gas plume extended 80 km to the SSE
01 and 05 Dec 2002 -- -- -- Gas-and-steam plumes extended 40 km and 45 km to the ENE and NNW
09 Dec-12 Dec 2002 2-6 3-39 -29 to -20 AVHRR and MODIS
13-17 and 19-20 Dec 2002 1-6 -15 to 49 -34 to -25 AVHRR and MODIS
19-20 and 23-25 Dec 2002 1-6 10-40 -27 to -23 --
27, 29, 31 Dec and 01-02 Jan 2003 2-4 -7 to 34 -38 to -30 On 1 January, a 10+ km plume extending ESE was visible on MODIS imagery
03 Jan-10 Jan 2003 1-6 -8 to 47.5 -30 to -13 --
10-13 and 15 Jan 2003 1-7 12-47.5 -33 to -20 --
17-22 and 24 Jan 2003 1-4 -2 to 19 -27 to -20 --
25-29 Jan 2003 2-7 -2 to 46 -25 to -15 --
01-06 Feb 2003 2-6 3-49 -24 to -9 Gas-steam plumes extended ~40 km to the W and NNE from the dome on 1 and 3 Feb, respectively
07-13 Feb 2003 1-7 -12 to 49 -30 to -12 Gas-steam plume extended ~35 km NNW from the dome on 9 Feb
14-20 Feb 2003 1-6 26-49 -33 to 5 On 15 Feb a wide gas-steam plume extended > 25 km E; on 16 Feb a narrow plume extended 110 km N; during 16-17 Feb ash and pyroclastic deposits were noted from the S to E slopes; a gas-steam plume extended 30 km W on 19 Feb; a gas-steam plume extended up to 96 km SSW on 20 Feb
21-28 Feb 2003 2-6 21-49 -30 to -8 Gas-steam plumes extended up to 50 km to the SSW, SE, and NE during 24-27 Feb

Incandescence was observed at the lava dome on 6 October. On 11 November, seismic data indicated possible hot avalanches sending clouds up to 5.5 km above the dome.

During late November and early December, gas-and-steam plumes extended >10 km to the E and W. On 19 December, short-lived explosions at 1238 and 1514 sent gas-ash plumes to ~5.5 km and 5.0 km altitude, respectively. In the first case, pyroclastic flows moved to the SE; in the second, to the S, inside the Baidarnaya river. The runout of both pyroclastic flows was 3 km.

On 28 December 2002, a small amount of light-gray ash was observed on the surface of snow. During early January 2003, plumes extended >5-10 km to the W and NW. During late February, plumes extended 10-40 km to the SW, S, and SE. Ash was noted in plumes on 24 October, 1, 11, 15, 19, and 20 November, 1, 19, and 24 December, 4 and 25 January, and 15, 17, 25, and 26 February. The Concern Color Code remained at Yellow.

Geologic Background. The high, isolated massif of Sheveluch volcano (also spelled Shiveluch) rises above the lowlands NNE of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group. The 1300 km3 volcano is one of Kamchatka's largest and most active volcanic structures. The summit of roughly 65,000-year-old Stary Shiveluch is truncated by a broad 9-km-wide late-Pleistocene caldera breached to the south. Many lava domes dot its outer flanks. The Molodoy Shiveluch lava dome complex was constructed during the Holocene within the large horseshoe-shaped caldera; Holocene lava dome extrusion also took place on the flanks of Stary Shiveluch. At least 60 large eruptions have occurred during the Holocene, making it the most vigorous andesitic volcano of the Kuril-Kamchatka arc. Widespread tephra layers from these eruptions have provided valuable time markers for dating volcanic events in Kamchatka. Frequent collapses of dome complexes, most recently in 1964, have produced debris avalanches whose deposits cover much of the floor of the breached caldera.

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


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Soufriere Hills

United Kingdom

16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued dome growth, rockfalls, and pyroclastic flows

During mid-September 2002 through February 2003 at Soufrière Hills, the dome continued to grow, producing numerous rockfalls and small-to-moderate pyroclastic flows. Most of the activity was concentrated on the NE and N flanks, producing numerous pyroclastic flows in White's Ghaut, the Tar River Valley, and Tuitt's Ghaut. Pyroclastic flows and rockfalls also traveled down the W and NW flanks. Ashfall affected surrounding areas, accumulating in thicknesses up to 9 mm. The Washington VAAC issued notices to the aviation community almost daily. Seismicity was dominated by rockfalls (table 42).

Table 42. Seismicity at Soufrière Hills during 13 September 2002-28 February 2003. *During some weeks, the number of seismic events was under-represented because of problems with the seismic stations. Courtesy MVO.

Date Rockfall Hybrid Long-period Long-period / Rockfall Volcano-tectonic
13 Sep-20 Sep 2002 689 67 162 41 1
20 Sep-27 Sep 2002 680 36 260 55 0
27 Sep-04 Oct 2002 811 15 223 51 2
04 Oct-11 Oct 2002* 468 3 77 42 0
11 Oct-18 Oct 2002* 650 2 98 80 1
18 Oct-25 Oct 2002 536 6 120 27 1
25 Oct-01 Nov 2002 670 9 148 72 0
01 Nov-08 Nov 2002 694 3 60 38 0
08 Nov-15 Nov 2002* 409 0 29 8 1
15 Nov-22 Nov 2002 592 2 88 37 1
22 Nov-29 Nov 2002 586 0 44 32 0
29 Nov-06 Dec 2002 354 0 33 43 0
06 Dec-13 Dec 2002 427 6 47 30 0
13 Dec-20 Dec 2002 742 2 50 50 0
20 Dec-27 Dec 2002 760 5 45 30 0
27 Dec-03 Jan 2003 863 3 86 41 1
03 Jan-10 Jan 2003 789 0 120 54 0
10 Jan-17 Jan 2003 606 7 67 42 2
17 Jan-24 Jan 2003 566 0 58 24 1
24 Jan-31 Jan 2003 745 2 177 62 1
31 Jan-07 Feb 2003 882 6 148 114 0
07 Feb-14 Feb 2003 840 3 117 78 1
14 Feb-21 Feb 2003 905 8 87 80 1
21 Feb-28 Feb 2003 1078 1 92 85 0

Activity during September 2002. Lava-dome growth was directed to the NE during 13-20 September, with frequent rockfalls and small pyroclastic flows sending material to a sector extending from the central Tar River Valley on the E flank to the NE flanks above Tuitt's Ghaut. Some material tumbled through a notch onto the N flank. A major change in direction of extrusion followed a hybrid earthquake swarm between 0703 and 1515 on 19 September. Growth of the previously active NE lobe stagnated during 21-22 September. A near-vertical spine was extruded in the central area around the 21st, possibly indicating a switch in growth direction. On 26 September a swarm of 36 hybrid events occurred between 0330 and 1112. The same day observations revealed a large new dome lobe that had extruded towards the W in the area previously known as Gages Wall. Material spalling off of this lobe produced rockfalls and small pyroclastic flows down Gages Valley that reached up to 1 km.

Notable pyroclastic flows occurred on the evening of 25 September and the morning of the 27th. Growth and rockfall activity then changed towards the N flanks, suggesting a possible stagnation of the recently extruded western lobe. Spectacular incandescence and semi-continuous rockfall activity were observed on the NE and N flanks of the dome on the night of 26-27 September.

On 27 September a 4-hour-period of heightened activity occurred in the afternoon and evening, with small semi-continuous pyroclastic flows traveling down the N flanks and eastwards into the upper portions of Tuitt's Ghaut and then into White's Bottom Ghaut. A newly extruded lobe was visible on 28 September almost directly to the NW with a broad headwall over the N, NW, and W flanks. On the evening of 29 September there was another period of heightened activity on the N flanks that lasted 1.5 hours, with pyroclastic flows just reaching the sea along White's Bottom Ghaut. It was estimated that during this event only 2-3 x 106 m3 of the N edge of the active NW lobe was shed.

The Washington VAAC reported that a low-level ash cloud from an emission at 1510 on 29 September was visible over eastern Puerto Rico on satellite imagery through the following day. On 30 September a light dusting of white ash fell in eastern Puerto Rico at Roosevelt Roads Naval Air Station.

Activity during October 2002. Observations on 1 October revealed that re-growth of the collapsed area had occurred. A brief period of heavy rain on 2 October triggered a moderate-sized mudflow down the Belham Valley. Analysis of seismic data suggested that pyroclastic-flow activity on 2 October began at 1310, and sustained dome collapse continued for 6 hours. Low-energy pyroclastic flows were observed reaching the sea on the Tar River's flanks throughout the collapse, and ash clouds were produced that drifted to the NW. Heavy ashfall occurred in the residential areas of Salem, Old Towne, and Olveston, with deposits up to 9 mm thick. Subsequent observations revealed that this collapse was confined to the E flanks, and that this was again a relatively small event (less than 5 x 106m3 of material was shed off of the E side of the dome complex).

According to the Washington VAAC, after daybreak on 3 October there were several reports of ashfall in Puerto Rico, and visible satellite imagery at 1115 confirmed that an ash cloud around 2.4 km altitude covered most of the island. At 1615 the area of very thin ash was not visible on satellite imagery. By the next day, ash from the previous day's emissions had drifted W, and around 0902 it was located over southern Puerto Rico. A thin plume of ash also extended SSW of St. Croix island.

Early in October the NW extrusion lobe of the lava dome grew to the NW, but later growth remained more centralized and there was noticeable bulking up of the lobe's summit area. Talus continued to accumulate behind the NW buttress and in the head of Tyre's Ghaut. Minor mudflow activity occurred on 9 October. The growth of the lava dome towards the NW prompted the evacuation of populated areas along the fringes of the lower part of the Belham Valley (~300 people) on 8 and 9 October, and the area was declared part of the Exclusion Zone. A relatively small pyroclastic flow traveled NNE down the flanks on 13 October.

On the afternoon of 22 October intense rainfall at midday produced large mudflows NW in the Belham Valley. At the peak of flow, the entire width of the valley floor at Belham Bridge was flooded and standing waves up to 2.5 m high were observed. By 1430, pyroclastic-flow activity began. For several hours, pyroclastic flows from the N flank of the dome were channeled NE into the upper parts of Tuitt's Ghaut, from where they crossed over into White's Bottom Ghaut. Flows also occurred on the dome's E flank in the Tar River Valley.

The volcano was observed using a remote camera and during a flight on 31 October. The active extruded lobe in the NW continued to steadily grow, bulking out on the N and W sides. Rockfalls and pyroclastic flows traveled down the E and N flanks, particularly within Tuitt's Ghaut and the Tar River Valley. A considerable amount of debris also spalled off the W flank of the active extruded lobe and accumulated in the upper parts of Fort Ghaut.

Activity during November 2002. During early November lava-dome growth on the N part of the dome was less directed, with rockfalls dispersed over the summit and flanks. The lobe shed rockfall debris predominately down Tuitt's Ghaut and Tar River Valley, although also onto the NW flank and into the top of Gage's Valley. According to the Washington VAAC, on 8 November strong pyroclastic flows produced ash-and-gas clouds to a height of ~1.5 km.

On 8 and 9 November pyroclastic flows traveled 900-1,000 m NW into Tyer's Ghaut at the headwaters of the Belham Valley. During 12-15 November, the size and energy of the pyroclastic flows increased slightly. During 15-19 November, small pyroclastic flows traveled 1-1.5 km from the dome every few hours in Tuitt's Ghaut to the NE and in the Tar River Valley to the E. On 29 November the active lobe had a broad whaleback-shaped upper surface, which was oriented towards the NNE.

During 29 November-6 December a number of small, short-lived spines formed at the base of the active lobe in the N part of the dome complex, shedding material E into White's Ghaut and the Tar River Valley. Lava blocks continued to spall off the front of the lobe, shedding material NE into Tuitt's Ghaut and onto the northern talus slope. An average of one moderate-sized pyroclastic flow occurred per day and traveled no farther than 1-1.5 km from the lava dome into Tuitt's and White's ghauts and into the Tar River Valley. During 5-6 December, rockfalls and small pyroclastic flows occurred more frequently on the northern talus slope and on the NW, at the top of Tyer's Ghaut.

Activity during December 2002. A sustained dome collapse began on 8 December at 2045, producing energetic pyroclastic flows down White's Ghaut to the sea at Spanish Point. Ash clouds rose to ~3 km altitude and drifted WNW. In Plymouth and Richmond Hill 4 mm of ash was deposited. Seismicity returned to background levels on 9 December by 0045, and several days of weak tremor occurred.

The collapse scar on the dome's NNE flank, estimated to have had a volume of 4-5 x 106 m3, was being filled rapidly with freshly extruded lava. Observations on 13 December revealed a large amount of fragmental lava extruded in a northerly direction on the summit. A large spine was also extruded on the NW side of the summit.

During late December spectacular incandescence of the dome was observed on most nights. Activity increased during 18-20 December, and on 19 December mudflows occurred in White River, Tar River Valley, and Fort Ghaut. During 20-27 December extrusion occurred on the N, and occassionally NW, sides of the summit. A large spine was pushed up at the back of the active extruded lobe during the night of 26-27 December, but was not visible by 2 January. The Washington VAAC reported that on 28 December around 1130 a 3-km-high ash cloud generated from pyroclastic flows drifted over the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Activity during January-February 2003. Activity escalated to very high levels on the night of 27 December. During 27 December-10 January continuous rockfalls and numerous pyroclastic flows spalled off the active extruded lobe on the NNE side of the lava dome. Activity decreased on the night of 2 January to moderate levels on the 3rd.

During mid-January, activity generally declined to a moderate level. During 15-17 January almost all pyroclastic flows occurred in the Tar River Valley, with only minor rockfalls traveling down the dome's NE and N sides. Lava extrusion occurred NE of the lava-dome complex that was associated with rockfalls and small pyroclastic flows down Tar River Valley, White's Ghaut, Tuitt's Ghaut, and on the northern talus slopes. On 18, 20, and 24 January small pyroclastic flows traveled ~1 km down Tyer's Ghaut.

Activity increased during late January. Growth of the active extrusion lobe continued on the N side of the lava dome. The direction of growth was generally towards the NNE, although the focus of rockfall and pyroclastic-flow activity varied from day to day. A pulse of activity occurred at midday on 30 January, during which pyroclastic flows simultaneously descended several flanks of the lava dome traveling to the Tar River Valley, White's Ghaut, Tuitt's Ghaut, and W to Fort Ghaut.

During 31 January-14 February activity remained moderate. Growth of the lava dome was focused on a large, steep lobe directed to the NE. A small amount of rockfall material was directed W towards Fort Ghaut. Rockfalls and small pyroclastic flows also occurred off the N flank of the dome onto the area of Riley's Estate.

During 19-25 February pyroclastic flows and rockfalls were concentrated more on the E flank of the lava dome and in the Tar River Valley, although there were several periods of activity on the N flank, with pyroclastic flows in Tuitt's Ghaut and at the top of Farrell's Plain.

Activity increased slightly during 21-28 February. During an observation flight on 27 February lava-dome growth was concentrated towards the NE. Pyroclastic flows and rockfalls traveled down the lava dome's E and NE flanks via the Tar River Valley and Tuitt's Ghaut. There were also several periods of activity on the N flank, with pyroclastic flows at the top of Farrell's Plain.

SO2 emission rates varied throughout the report period (table 43), and were especially high following the dome-collapse event on 9 December (2,350 tons per day average).

Table 43. SO2 emission rates at Soufrière Hills during 13 September 2002 through 28 February 2003. Courtesy MVO.

Date SO2 emissions (tons/day)
13 Sep-20 Sep 2002 85-518
11 Oct-12 Oct 2002 260-520, average of 302
13 Oct 2002 430-860, average of 691
16 Oct 2002 43-173
17 Oct-18 Oct 2002 346-518
19 Oct-21 Oct 2002 85-300
23 Oct-25 Oct 2002 430-500, peak of 1000
25 Oct-27 Oct 2002 45-260
27 Oct 2002 520
27 Oct-01 Nov 2002 25-260
01 Nov 2002 240
02 Nov 2002 208
03 Nov 2002 200
04 Nov 2002 508
06 Nov-07 Nov 2002 220
08 Nov-15 Nov 2002 520-560
15 Nov 2002 160
16 Nov 2002 340
17 Nov 2002 380
18 Nov 2002 180
19 Nov 2002 173
22 Nov-29 Nov 2002 520-1040
24 Nov 2002 170-350
29 Nov-06 Dec 2002 Average 400
29 Nov-01 Dec 2002 Average 280
06 Dec-08 Dec 2002 280
09 Dec 2002 Average 2,350
10 Dec 2002 620
06 Jan 2003 130
07 Jan 2003 200
09 Jan 2003 430
10-17 Jan 2003 ~86-1209
10 Jan 2003 ~170-520, average ~260
11 Jan 2003 Emissions of ~430 were recorded until mid-morning, but then decreased to ~86 for several hours. In the afternoon they reached ~860-1210 before dropping to ~430-518
12 Jan 2003 ~345-605, average ~354
13 Jan 2003 ~430-780, average ~490
15 Jan 2003 ~430-605, average ~527
18 Jan 2003 300
19 Jan 2003 165
20 Jan 2003 700
21 Jan-24 Jan 2003 270
24 Jan 2003 480
25 Jan-28 Jan 2003 290
29 Jan 2003 560
30 Jan 2003 620
31 Jan-07 Feb 2003 90-170
14 Feb-21 Feb 2003 170-350
21 Feb-28 Feb 2003 400-460
22 Feb 2003 840
23 Feb 2003 1120

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

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


Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) — February 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Whakaari/White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased SO2 emissions since December, mud ejections in February

Minor volcanic tremor continued, and the plume of steam and gases from the vent remained unchanged through the end of November 2002, according to the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (IGNS). The output of SO2 measured on 10 December was 112 ± 36 metric tons per day (t/d); in October the value was 63 t/d. Volcanic tremor continued and was accompanied by minor booming and explosions in the second week of December. After a brief period of increased activity at the start of the next week, volcanic tremor dropped to the weaker levels of tremor observed previously. Weak steam and gas emissions continued through 19 December, along with weak volcanic tremor.

An IGNS report on 7 February 2002 noted continuing minor volcanic tremor and a weak plume of steam and gases from the active vent. Activity increased slightly during 9-16 February. On 12 February mud was being thrown some tens of meters in the air, and ground vibrations could be felt. This corresponded to a period of slightly stronger volcanic tremor. Seismograph readings returned to normal by the 13th. Minor hydrothermal activity continued as of 21 February, and the output of SO2 had increased to 269 t/d. Seismic tremor steadily declined to low background levels in the last week of the month, though a weak plume of steam and gases was still being emitted.

Seismic tremor levels at White Island remained low on 7 March, but mud was being ejected to low levels around the active vent and a steam plume remained. There were intermittent periods of weak tremor the next week, and SO2 output was reported to be 267 t/d. Seismic tremor was at a very low level during the week ending on 21 March.

Geologic Background. The uninhabited Whakaari/White Island is the 2 x 2.4 km emergent summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 50 km offshore of North Island. The island consists of two overlapping andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcanoes. The SE side of the crater is open at sea level, with the recent activity centered about 1 km from the shore close to the rear crater wall. Volckner Rocks, sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NW. Descriptions of volcanism since 1826 have included intermittent moderate phreatic, phreatomagmatic, and Strombolian eruptions; activity there also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. The formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries caused rapid changes in crater floor topography. Collapse of the crater wall in 1914 produced a debris avalanche that buried buildings and workers at a sulfur-mining project. Explosive activity in December 2019 took place while tourists were present, resulting in many fatalities. The official government name Whakaari/White Island is a combination of the full Maori name of Te Puia o Whakaari ("The Dramatic Volcano") and White Island (referencing the constant steam plume) given by Captain James Cook in 1769.

Information Contacts: Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (IGNS), Private Bag 2000, Wairakei, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/).

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/).