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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

Sangay (Ecuador) Ash plumes, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars during July-December 2020; larger explosions in September

Ebeko (Russia) Continued explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall; June-November 2020

Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) Intermittent thermal anomalies and small eruptions in May and August 2020

Raung (Indonesia) Explosions with ash plumes and a thermal anomaly at the summit crater, July-October 2020

Nyamuragira (DR Congo) Numerous thermal anomalies and gas emissions from the lava lake through November 2020

Sinabung (Indonesia) Explosions begin again on 8 August 2020; dome growth confirmed in late September

Heard (Australia) Persistent thermal anomalies in the summit crater from June through October 2020

Sabancaya (Peru) Daily explosions produced ash plumes, SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies during June-September 2020

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Frequent small phreatic explosions with intermittent ash plumes during April-September 2020

Fuego (Guatemala) Daily explosions, ash emissions, and block avalanches during August-November 2020

Kikai (Japan) Explosion on 6 October 2020 and thermal anomalies in the crater

Manam (Papua New Guinea) Intermittent ash plumes, thermal anomalies, and SO2 emissions in April-September 2020



Sangay (Ecuador) — January 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Sangay

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars during July-December 2020; larger explosions in September

Sangay is one of the most active volcanoes in Ecuador with the current eruptive period continuing since 26 March 2019. Activity at the summit crater has been frequent since August 1934, with short quiet periods between events. Recent activity has included frequent ash plumes, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars. This report summarizes activity during July through December 2020, based on reports by Ecuador's Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), ash advisories issued by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), webcam images taken by Servicio Integrado de Seguridad ECU911, and various satellite data.

Overall activity remained elevated during the report period. Recorded explosions were variable during July through December, ranging from no explosions to 294 reported on 4 December (figure 80), and dispersing mostly to the W and SW. SO2 was frequently detected using satellite data (figure 81) and was reported several times to be emitting between about 770 and 2,850 tons/day. Elevated temperatures at the crater and down the SE flank were frequently observed in satellite data (figure 82), and less frequently by visual observation of incandescence. Seismic monitoring detected lahars associated with rainfall events remobilizing deposits emplaced on the flanks throughout this period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. A graph showing the daily number of explosions at Sangay recorded during July through December 2020. Several dates had no recorded explosions due to lack of seismic data. Data courtesy of IG-EPN (daily reports).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. Examples of stronger SO2 plumes from Sangay detected by the Sentinel 5P/TROPOMI instrument, with plumes from Nevado del Ruiz detected to the north. The image dates from left to right are 31 August 2020, 17 September 2020, 1 October 2020 (top row), 22 November 2020, 3 December 2020, 14 December 2020 (bottom row). Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. This log radiative power MIROVA plot shows thermal output at Sangay during February through December 2020. Activity was relatively constant with increases and decreases in both energy output and the frequency of thermal anomalies detected. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during July-August 2020. During July activity continued with frequent ash and gas emission recorded through observations when clouds weren’t obstructing the view of the summit, and Washington VAAC alerts. There were between one and five VAAC alerts issued most days, with ash plumes reaching 570 to 1,770 m above the crater and dispersing mostly W and SE, and NW on two days (figure 83). Lahar seismic signals were recorded on the 1st, 7th, three on the 13th, and one on the 19th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Gas and ash plumes at Sangay during July 2020, at 0717 on the 17th, at 1754 on the 18th, and at 0612 on the 25th. Bottom picture taken from the Macas ECU 911 webcam. All images courtesy of IG-EPN daily reports.

During August there were between one and five VAAC alerts issued most days, with ash plumes reaching 600 to 2,070 m above the crater and predominantly dispersing W, SW, and occasionally to the NE, S, and SE (figure 84). There were reports of ashfall in the Alausí sector on the 24th. Using seismic data analysis, lahar signals were identified after rainfall on 1, 7, 11-14, and 21 August. A lava flow was seen moving down the eastern flank on the night of the 15th, resulting in a high number of thermal alerts. A pyroclastic flow was reported descending the SE flank at 0631 on the 27th (figure 85).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. This 25 August 2020 PlanetScope satellite image of Sangay in Ecuador shows an example of a weak gas and ash plume dispersing to the SW. Courtesy of Planet Labs.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A pyroclastic flow descends the Sangay SE flank at 0631 on 27 August 2020. Webcam by ECU911, courtesy of courtesy of IG-EPN (27 August 2020 report).

Activity during September-October 2020. Elevated activity continued through September with two significant increases on the 20th and 22nd (more information on these events below). Other than these two events, VAAC reports of ash plumes varied between 1 and 5 issued most days, with plume heights reaching between 600 and 1,500 m above the crater. Dominant ash dispersal directions were W, with some plumes traveling SE, S, SE, NE, and NW. Lahar seismic signals were recorded after rainfall on 1, 2, 5, 8-10, 21, 24, 25, 27, and 30 September. Pyroclastic flows were reported on the 19th (figure 86), and incandescent material was seen descending the SE ravine on the 29th. There was a significant increase in thermal alerts reported throughout the month compared to the July-August period, and Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed a lava flow down the SE flank (figure 87).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Pyroclastic flows descended the flank of Sangay on 19 (top) and 20 (bottom) September 2020. Webcam images by ECU911 from the city of Macas, courtesy of IG-EPN (14 August 2018 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. The thermal signature of a lava flow is seen on SW flank of Sangay in this 8 September 2020 Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image, indicated by the white arrow. False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Starting at 0420 on the morning of 20 September there was an increase in explosions and emissions recorded through seismicity, much more energetic than the activity of previous months. At 0440 satellite images show an ash plume with an estimated height of around 7 km above the crater. The top part of the plume dispersed to the E and the rest of the plume went W. Pyroclastic flows were observed descending the SE flank around 1822 (figure 88). Ash from remobilization of deposits was reported on the 21st in the Bolívar, Chimborazo, Los Ríos, Guayas and Santa Elena provinces. Ash and gas emission continued, with plumes reaching up to 1 km above the crater. There were seven VAAC reports as well as thermal alerts issued during the day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. An eruption of Sangay on 22 September 2020 produced a pyroclastic flow down the SE flank and an ash plume that dispersed to the SW. PlanetScope satellite image courtesy of Planet Labs.

Ash plumes observed on 22 September reached around 1 km above the crater and dispersed W to NW. Pyroclastic flows were seen descending the SE flank (figure 89) also producing an ash plume. A BBC article reported the government saying 800 km2 of farmland had experienced ashfall, with Chimborazo and Bolívar being the worst affected areas (figure 90). Locals described the sky going dark, and the Guayaquil was temporarily closed. Ash plume heights during the 20-22 were the highest for the year so far (figure 91). Ash emission continued throughout the rest of the month with another increase in explosions on the 27th, producing observed ash plume heights reaching 1.5 km above the crater. Ashfall was reported in San Nicolas in the Chimborazo Province in the afternoon of the 30th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. A pyroclastic flow descending the flank of Sangay on 22 September 2020. Webcam image by ECU911 from the city of Macas, courtesy of IG-EPN (Sangay Volcano Special Report - 2020 - No 5, 22 September 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Ashfall from an eruption at Sangay on 22 September 2020 affected 800 km2 of farmland and nearby communities. Images courtesy of EPA and the Police of Ecuador via Reuters (top-right), all via the BBC.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Ash plume heights (left graph) at Sangay from January through to late September, with the larger ash plumes during 20-22 September indicated by the red arrow. The dominant ash dispersal direction is to the W (right plot) and the average speed is 10 m/s. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Sangay Volcano Special Report - 2020 - No 5, 22 September 2020).

Thermal alerts increased again through October, with a lava flow and/or incandescent material descending the SE flank sighted throughout the month (figure 92). Pyroclastic flows were seen traveling down the SE flank during an observation flight on the 6th (figure 93). Seismicity indicative of lahars was reported on 1, 12, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, and 28 October associated with rainfall remobilizing deposits. The Washington VAAC released one to five ash advisories most days, noting plume heights of 570-3,000 m above the crater; prevailing winds dispersed most plumes to the W, with some plumes drifting NW, N, E to SE, and SW. Ashfall was reported in Alausí (Chimborazo Province) on the 1st and in Chunchi canton on the 10th. SO2 was recorded towards the end of the month using satellite data, varying between about 770 and 2,850 tons on the 24th, 27th, and 29th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. A lava flow descends the SE flank of Sangay on 2 October 2020. Webcam images courtesy of ECU 911.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. A pyroclastic flow descends the Sangay SE flank was seen during an IG-EPN overflight on 6 October 2020. Photo courtesy of S. Vallejo, IG-EPN.

Activity during November-December 2020. Frequent ash emission continued through November with between one and five Washington VAAC advisories issued most days (figure 94). Reported ash and gas plume heights varied between 570 and 2,700 m above the crater, with winds dispersing plumes in all directions. Thermal anomalies were detected most days, and incandescent material from explosions was seen on the 26th. Seismicity indicating lahars was registered on nine days between 15 and 30 November, associated with rainfall events.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Examples of gas and ash plumes at Sangay during November 2020. Webcam images were published in IG-EPN daily activity reports.

Lahar signals associated with rain events continued to be detected on ten out of the first 18 days of November. Ash emissions continued through December with one to five VAAC alerts issued most days. Ash plume heights varied from 600 to 1,400 m above the crater, with the prevailing wind direction dispersing most plumes W and SW (figure 95). Thermal anomalies were frequently detected and incandescent material was observed down the SE flank on the 3rd, 14th, and 30th, interpreted as a lava flow and hot material rolling down the flank. A webcam image showed a pyroclastic flow traveling down the SE flank on the 2nd (figure 96). Ashfall was reported on the 10th in Capzol, Palmira, and Cebadas parishes, and in the Chunchi and Guamote cantons.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Examples of ash plumes at Sangay during ongoing persistent activity on 9, 10, and 23 December 2020. Webcam images courtesy of ECU 911.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. A nighttime webcam image shows a pyroclastic flow descending the SE flank of Sangay at 2308 on 2 December 2020. Image courtesy of ECU 911.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec); ECU911, Servicio Integrado de Seguridad ECU911, Calle Julio Endara s / n. Itchimbía Park Sector Quito – Ecuador. (URL: https://www.ecu911.gob.ec/; Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/Ecu911Macas/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); 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); BBC News “In pictures: Ash covers Ecuador farming land” Published 22 September 2020 (URL: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-54247797).


Ebeko (Russia) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Ebeko

Russia

50.686°N, 156.014°E; summit elev. 1103 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall; June-November 2020

Volcanism at Ebeko, located on the N end of the Paramushir Island in the Kuril Islands, has been ongoing since October 2016, characterized by frequent moderate explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk (7 km ESE) (BGVN 45:05). Similar activity during this reporting period of June through November 2020 continues, consisting of frequent explosions, dense ash plumes, and occasional ashfall. Information for this report primarily comes from the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT) and satellite data.

Activity during June was characterized by frequent, almost daily explosions and ash plumes that rose to 1.6-4.6 km altitude and drifted in various directions, according to KVERT reports and information from the Tokyo VAAC advisories using HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery and KBGS (Kamchatka Branch of the Geophysical Service) seismic data. Satellite imagery showed persistent thermal anomalies over the summit crater. On 1 June explosions generated an ash plume up to 4.5 km altitude drifting E and S, in addition to several smaller ash plumes that rose to 2.3-3 km altitude drifting E, NW, and NE, according to KVERT VONA notices. Explosions on 11 June generated an ash plume that rose 2.6 km altitude and drifted as far as 85 km N and NW. Explosions continued during 21-30 June, producing ash plumes that rose 2-4 km altitude, drifting up to 5 km in different directions (figure 26); many of these eruptive events were accompanied by thermal anomalies that were observed in satellite imagery.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Photo of a dense gray ash plume rising from Ebeko on 22 June 2020. Photo by L. Kotenko (color corrected), courtesy of IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

Explosions continued in July, producing ash plumes rising 2-5.2 km altitude and drifting for 3-30 km in different directions. On 3, 6, 15 July explosions generated an ash plume that rose 3-4 km altitude that drifted N, NE, and SE, resulting in ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk. According to a Tokyo VAAC advisory, an eruption on 4 July produced an ash plume that rose up to 5.2 km altitude drifting S. On 22 July explosions produced an ash cloud measuring 11 x 13 km in size and that rose to 3 km altitude drifting 30 km SE. Frequent thermal anomalies were identified in satellite imagery accompanying these explosions.

In August, explosions persisted with ash plumes rising 1.7-4 km altitude drifting for 3-10 km in multiple directions. Intermittent thermal anomalies were detected in satellite imagery, according to KVERT. On 9 and 22 August explosions sent ash up to 2.5-3 km altitude drifting W, S, E, and SE, resulting in ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk. Moderate gas-and-steam activity was reported occasionally during the month.

Almost daily explosions in September generated dense ash plumes that rose 1.5-4.3 km altitude and drifted 3-5 km in different directions. Moderate gas-and-steam emissions were often accompanied by thermal anomalies visible in satellite imagery. During 14-15 September explosions sent ash plumes up to 2.5-3 km altitude drifting SE and NE, resulting in ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk. On 22 September a dense gray ash plume rose to 3 km altitude and drifted S. The ash plume on 26 September was at 3.5 km altitude and drifted SE (figure 27).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Photos of dense ash plumes rising from Ebeko on 22 (left) and 26 (right) September 2020. Photos by S. Lakomov (color corrected), IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

During October, near-daily ash explosions continued, rising 1.7-4 km altitude drifting in many directions. Intermittent thermal anomalies were identified in satellite imagery. During 7-8, 9-10, and 20-22 October ashfall was reported in Severo-Kurilsk.

Explosions in November produced dense gray ash plumes that rose to 1.5-5.2 km altitude and drifted as far as 5-10 km, mainly NE, SE, E, SW, and ENE. According to KVERT, thermal anomalies were visible in satellite imagery throughout the month. On clear weather days on 8 and 11 November Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed ashfall deposits SE of the summit crater from recent activity (figure 28). During 15-17 November explosions sent ash up to 3.5 km altitude drifting NE, E, and SE which resulted in ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk on 17 November. Similar ashfall was observed on 22-24 and 28 November due to ash rising to 1.8-3 km altitude (figure 29). Explosions on 29 November sent an ash plume up to 4.5 km altitude drifting E (figure 29). A Tokyo VAAC advisory reported that an ash plume drifting SSE on 30 November reached an altitude of 3-5.2 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of a gray-white gas-and-ash plume at Ebeko on 8 (left) and 11 (right) November 2020, resulting in ashfall (dark gray) to the SE of the volcano. Images using “Natural Color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Photos of continued ash explosions from Ebeko on 28 October (left) and 29 November (right) 2020. Photos by S. Lakomov (left) and L. Kotenko (right), courtesy of IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows a pulse in low-power thermal activity beginning in early June through early August (figure 30). On clear weather days, the thermal anomalies in the summit crater are observed in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery, accompanied by occasional white-gray ash plumes (figure 31). Additionally, the MODVOLC algorithm detected a single thermal anomaly on 26 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. A small pulse in thermal activity at Ebeko began in early June and continued through early August 2020, according to the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power). The detected thermal anomalies were of relatively low power but were persistent during this period. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed gray ash plumes rising from Ebeko on 11 June (top left) and 16 July (bottom left) 2020, accompanied by occasional thermal anomalies (yellow-orange) within the summit crater, as shown on 24 June (top right) and 25 August (bottom right). The ash plume on 11 June drifted N from the summit. Images using “Natural Color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) on 11 June (top left) and 16 July (bottom left) and the rest have “Atmospheric penetration” rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. The flat-topped summit of the central cone of Ebeko volcano, one of the most active in the Kuril Islands, occupies the northern end of Paramushir Island. Three summit craters located along a SSW-NNE line form Ebeko volcano proper, at the northern end of a complex of five volcanic cones. Blocky lava flows extend west from Ebeko and SE from the neighboring Nezametnyi cone. The eastern part of the southern crater contains strong solfataras and a large boiling spring. The central crater is filled by a lake about 20 m deep whose shores are lined with steaming solfataras; the northern crater lies across a narrow, low barrier from the central crater and contains a small, cold crescentic lake. Historical activity, recorded since the late-18th century, has been restricted to small-to-moderate explosive eruptions from the summit craters. Intense fumarolic activity occurs in the summit craters, on the outer flanks of the cone, and in lateral explosion craters.

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Kamchatka Branch of the Geophysical Service, Russian Academy of Sciences (KB GS RAS) (URL: http://www.emsd.ru/); 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/); 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).


Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) — November 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kuchinoerabujima

Japan

30.443°N, 130.217°E; summit elev. 657 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent thermal anomalies and small eruptions in May and August 2020

Kuchinoerabujima encompasses a group of young stratovolcanoes located in the northern Ryukyu Islands. All historical eruptions have originated from the Shindake cone, with the exception of a lava flow that originated from the S flank of the Furudake cone. The current eruptive period began in January 2020 and has been characterized by small explosions, ash plumes, ashfall, a pyroclastic flow, and gas-and-steam emissions. This report covers activity from May to October 2020, which includes small explosions, ash plumes, crater incandescence, and gas-and-steam emissions. The primary source of information for this report comes from monthly and annual reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and advisories from the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Volcanism at Kuchinoerabujima remained relatively low during May through October 2020, according to JMA. During this time, SO2 emissions ranged from 40 to 3,400 tons/day; occasional gas-and-steam emissions were reported, rising to a maximum of 900 m above the crater. Sentinel-2 satellite images showed a particularly strong thermal anomaly in the Shindake crater on 1 May (figure 10). The thermal anomaly decreased in power after 1 May and was only visible on clear weather days, which included 19 August and 3 and 13 October. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) observations identified continued slight inflation at the base of the volcano during the entire reporting period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed a strong thermal anomaly (bright yellow-orange) in the Shindake crater at Kuchinoerabujima on 1 May 2020 (top left). Weaker thermal anomalies were also seen in the Shindake crater during 19 August (top right) and 3 (bottom left) and 13 (bottom right) October 2020. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Three small eruptions were detected by JMA on 5, 6, and 13 May, which produced an ash plume rising 500 m above the crater on each day, resulting in ashfall on the downwind flanks. Incandescence was observed at night using a high-sensitivity surveillance camera (figure 11). On 5 and 13 May the Tokyo VAAC released a notice that reported ash plumes rising 0.9-1.2 km altitude, drifting NE and S, respectively. On 20 May weak fumaroles were observed on the W side of the Shindake crater. The SO2 emissions ranged from 700-3,400 tons/day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Webcam images of an eruption at Kuchinoerabujima on 6 May 2020 (top), producing a gray ash plume that rose 500 m above the crater. Crater incandescence was observed from the summit crater at night on 25 May 2020 (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (Monthly bulletin report 509, May 2020).

Activity during June and July decreased compared to May, with gas-and-steam emissions occurring more prominently. On 22 June weak incandescence was observed, accompanied by white gas-and-steam emissions rising 700 m above the crater. Weak crater incandescence was also seen on 25 June. The SO2 emissions measured 400-1,400 tons/day. White gas-and-steam emissions were again observed on 31 July rising to 800 m above the crater. The SO2 emissions had decreased during this time to 300-700 tons/day.

According to JMA, the most recent eruptive event occurred on 29 August at 1746, which ejected bombs and was accompanied by some crater incandescence, though the eruptive column was not visible due to the cloud cover. However, white gas-and-steam emissions could be seen rising 1.3 km above the Shindake crater drifting SW. The SO2 emissions measured 200-500 tons/day. During August, the number of volcanic earthquakes increased significantly to 1,032, compared to the number in July (36).

The monthly bulletin for September reported white gas-and-steam emissions rising 900 m above the crater on 9 September and on 11 October the gas-and-steam emissions rose 600 m above the crater. Seismicity decreased between September and October from 1,920 to 866. The SO2 emissions continued to decrease compared to previous months, totaling 80-400 tons/day in September and 40-300 tons/day in October.

Geologic Background. A group of young stratovolcanoes forms the eastern end of the irregularly shaped island of Kuchinoerabujima in the northern Ryukyu Islands, 15 km W of Yakushima. The Furudake, Shindake, and Noikeyama cones were erupted from south to north, respectively, forming a composite cone with multiple craters. All historical eruptions have occurred from Shindake, although a lava flow from the S flank of Furudake that reached the coast has a very fresh morphology. Frequent explosive eruptions have taken place from Shindake since 1840; the largest of these was in December 1933. Several villages on the 4 x 12 km island are located within a few kilometers of the active crater and have suffered damage from eruptions.

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); 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).


Raung (Indonesia) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Raung

Indonesia

8.119°S, 114.056°E; summit elev. 3260 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions with ash plumes and a thermal anomaly at the summit crater, July-October 2020

A massive stratovolcano in easternmost Java, Raung has over sixty recorded eruptions dating back to the late 16th Century. Explosions with ash plumes, Strombolian activity, and lava flows from a cinder cone within the 2-km-wide summit crater have been the most common activity. Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM) has installed webcams to monitor activity in recent years. An eruption from late 2014 through August 2015 produced a large volume of lava within the summit crater and formed a new pyroclastic cone in the same location as the previous one. The eruption that began in July 2020 is covered in this report with information provided by PVMBG, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and several sources of satellite data.

The 2015 eruption was the largest in several decades; Strombolian activity was reported for many months and fresh lava flows covered the crater floor (BGVN 45:09). Raung was quiet after the eruption ended in August of that year until July of 2020 when seismicity increased on 13 July and brown emissions were first reported on 16 July. Tens of explosions with ash emissions were reported daily during the remainder of July 2020. Explosive activity decreased during August, but thermal activity didn’t decrease until mid-September. The last ash emissions were reported on 3 October and the last thermal anomaly in satellite data was recorded on 7 October 2020.

Eruption during July-October 2020. No further reports of activity were issued after August 2015 until July 2020. Clear Google Earth imagery from October 2017 and April 2018 indicated the extent of the lava from the 2015 eruption, but no sign of further activity (figure 31). By August 2019, many features from the 2015 eruption were still clearly visible from the crater rim (figure 32).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Little change can be seen at the summit of Raung in Google Earth images dated 19 October 2017 (left) and 28 April 2018 (right). The summit crater was full of black lava flows from the 2015 eruption. Courtesy of Google Earth.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. A Malaysian hiker celebrated his climbing to the summit of Raung on 30 August 2019. Weak fumarolic activity was visible from the base of the breached crater of the cone near the center of the summit crater, and many features of the lava flow that filled the crater in 2015 were still well preserved. Courtesy of MJ.

PVMBG reported that the number and type of seismic events around the summit of Raung increased beginning on 13 July 2020, and on 16 July the height of the emissions from the crater rose to 100 m and the emission color changed from white to brown. About three hours later the emissions changed to gray and white. The webcams captured emissions rising 50-200 m above the summit that included 60 explosions of gray and reddish ash plumes (figure 33). The Raung Volcano Observatory released a VONA reporting an explosion with an ash plume that drifted N at 1353 local time (0653 UTC). The best estimate of the ash cloud height was 3,432 m based on ground observation. They raised the Aviation Color Code from unassigned to Orange. About 90 minutes later they reported a second seismic event and ash cloud that rose to 3,532 m, again based on ground observation. The Darwin VAAC reported that neither ash plume was visible in satellite imagery. The following day, on 17 July, PVMBG reported 26 explosions between midnight and 0600 that produced brown ash plumes which rose 200 m above the crater. Based on these events, PVMBG raised the Alert Level of Raung from I (Normal) to II (Alert) on a I-II-III-IV scale. By the following day they reported 95 explosive seismic events had occurred. They continued to observe gray ash plumes rising 100-200 m above the summit on clear days and 10-30 daily explosive seismic events through the end of July; plume heights dropped to 50-100 m and the number of explosive events dropped below ten per day during the last few days of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. An ash plume rose from the summit of Raung on 16 July 2020 at the beginning of a new eruption. The last previous eruption was in 2015. Courtesy of Volcano Discovery and PVMBG.

After a long period of no activity, MIROVA data showed an abrupt return to thermal activity on 16 July 2020; a strong pulse of heat lasted into early August before diminishing (figure 34). MODVOLC thermal alert data recorded two alerts each on 18 and 20 July, and one each on 21 and 30 July. Satellite images showed no evidence of thermal activity inside the summit crater from September 2015 through early July 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery first indicated a strong thermal anomaly inside the pyroclastic cone within the crater on 19 July 2020; it remained on 24 and 29 July (figure 35). A small SO2 signature was measured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite on 25 July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. MIROVA thermal anomaly data indicated renewed activity on 16 July 2020 at Raung as seen in this graph of activity from 13 October 2019 through September 2020. Satellite images indicated that the dark lines at the beginning of the graph are from a large area of fires that burned on the flank of Raung in October 2019. Heat flow remained high through July and began to diminish in mid-August 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Thermal anomalies were distinct inside the crater of the pyroclastic cone within the summit crater of Raung on 19, 24, and 29 July 2020. Data is from the Sentinel-2 satellite shown with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

After an explosion on 1 August 2020 emissions from the crater were not observed again until steam plumes were seen rising 100 m on 7 August. They were reported rising 100-200 m above the summit intermittently until a dense gray ash plume was reported by PVMBG on 11 August rising 200 m. After that, diffuse steam plumes no more than 100 m high were reported for the rest of the month except for white to brown emissions to 100 m on 21 August. Thermal anomalies of a similar brightness to July from the same point within the summit crater were recorded in satellite imagery on 3, 8, 13, 18, and 23 August. Single MODVOLC thermal alerts were reported on 1, 8, 12, and 19 August.

In early September dense steam plumes rose 200 m above the crater a few times but were mostly 50 m high or less. White and gray emissions rose 50-300 m above the summit on 15, 20, 27, and 30 September. Thermal anomalies were still present in the same spot in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 2, 7, 12, 17, and 27 September, although the signal was weaker than during July and August (figure 36). PVMBG reported gray emissions rising 100-300 m above the summit on 1 October 2020 and two seismic explosion events. Gray emissions rose 50-200 m the next day and nine explosions were recorded. On 3 October, emissions were still gray but only rose 50 m above the crater and no explosions were reported. No emissions were observed from the summit crater for the remainder of the month. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed a hot spot within the summit crater on 2 and 7 October, but clear views of the crater on 12, 17, and 22 October showed no heat source within the crater (figure 37).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. The thermal anomaly at Raung recorded in Sentinel-2 satellite data decreased in intensity between August and October 2020. It was relatively strong on 13 August (left) but had decreased significantly by 12 September (middle) and remained at a lower level into early October (right). Data shown with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. A small but distinct thermal anomaly was still present within the pyroclastic cone inside the summit crater of Raung on 7 October 2020 (left) but was gone by 12 October (middle) and did not reappear in subsequent clear views of the crater through the end of October. Satellite imagery of 7 and 12 October processed with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Natural color rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) from 17 October (right) shows no clear physical changes to the summit crater during the latest eruption. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Raung, one of Java's most active volcanoes, is a massive stratovolcano in easternmost Java that was constructed SW of the rim of Ijen caldera. The unvegetated summit is truncated by a dramatic steep-walled, 2-km-wide caldera that has been the site of frequent historical eruptions. A prehistoric collapse of Gunung Gadung on the W flank produced a large debris avalanche that traveled 79 km, reaching nearly to the Indian Ocean. Raung contains several centers constructed along a NE-SW line, with Gunung Suket and Gunung Gadung stratovolcanoes being located to the NE and W, respectively.

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/); 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/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Google Earth (URL: https://www.google.com/earth/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Tom Pfeiffer, Volcano Discovery (URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/); MJ (URL: https://twitter.com/MieJamaludin/status/1167613617191043072).


Nyamuragira (DR Congo) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyamuragira

DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E; summit elev. 3058 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Numerous thermal anomalies and gas emissions from the lava lake through November 2020

Nyamuragira (also known as Nyamulagira) is a shield volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with a 2 x 2.3 km caldera at the summit. A summit crater lies in the NE part of the caldera. In the recent past, the volcano has been characterized by intra-caldera lava flows, lava emissions from its lava lake, thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam emissions, and moderate seismicity (BGVN 44:12, 45:06). This report reviews activity during June-November 2020, based on satellite data.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed numerous thermal anomalies associated with the volcano during June-November 2020, although some decrease was noted during the last half of August and between mid-October to mid-November (figure 91). Between six and seven thermal hotspots per month were identified by MODVOLC during June-November 2020, with as many as 4 pixels on 11 August. In the MODVOLC system, two main hotspot groupings are visible, the largest being at the summit crater, on the E side of the caldera.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. MIROVA graph of thermal activity (log radiative power) at Nyamuragira during March 2020-January 2021. During June-November 2020, most were in the low to moderate range, with a decrease in power during November. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Sentinel-2 satellite images showed several hotspots in the summit crater throughout the reporting period (figure 92). By 26 July and thereafter, hotspots were also visible in the SW portion of the caldera, and perhaps just outside the SW caldera rim. Gas-and-steam emissions from the lava lake were also visible throughout the period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. Sentinel-2 satellite images of Nyamuragira on 26 July (left) and 28 November (right) 2020. Thermal activity is present at several locations within the summit crater (upper right of each image) and in the SW part of the caldera (lower left). SWIR rendering (bands 12, 8A, 4). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Africa's most active volcano, Nyamuragira, is a massive high-potassium basaltic shield about 25 km N of Lake Kivu. Also known as Nyamulagira, it has generated extensive lava flows that cover 1500 km2 of the western branch of the East African Rift. The broad low-angle shield volcano contrasts dramatically with the adjacent steep-sided Nyiragongo to the SW. The summit is truncated by a small 2 x 2.3 km caldera that has walls up to about 100 m high. Historical eruptions have occurred within the summit caldera, as well as from the numerous fissures and cinder cones on the flanks. A lava lake in the summit crater, active since at least 1921, drained in 1938, at the time of a major flank eruption. Historical lava flows extend down the flanks more than 30 km from the summit, reaching as far as Lake Kivu.

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; 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/exp).


Sinabung (Indonesia) — November 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Sinabung

Indonesia

3.17°N, 98.392°E; summit elev. 2460 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions begin again on 8 August 2020; dome growth confirmed in late September

Indonesia’s Sinabung volcano in north Sumatra has been highly active since its first confirmed Holocene eruption during August and September 2010. It remained quiet after the initial eruption until September 2013, when a new eruptive phase began that continued through June 2018. A summit dome emerged in late 2013 and produced a large lava “tongue” during 2014. Multiple explosions produced ash plumes, block avalanches, and deadly pyroclastic flows during the eruptive period. A major explosion in February 2018 destroyed most of the summit dome. After a pause in eruptive activity from September 2018 through April 2019, explosions resumed during May and June 2019. The volcano was quiet again until an explosion on 8 August 2020 began another eruption that included a new dome. This report covers activity from July 2019 through October 2020 with information provided by Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), referred to by some agencies as CVGHM or the Indonesian Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and the Badan Nacional Penanggulangan Bencana (National Disaster Management Authority, BNPB). Additional information comes from satellite instruments and local news reports.

Only steam plumes and infrequent lahars were reported at Sinabung during July 2019-July 2020. A new eruption began on 8 August 2020 with a phreatic explosion and dense ash plumes. Repeated explosions were reported throughout August; ashfall was reported in many nearby communities several times. Explosions decreased significantly during September, but SO2 emissions persisted. Block avalanches from a new growing dome were first reported in early October; pyroclastic flows accompanied repeated ash emissions during the last week of the month. Thermal data suggested that the summit dome continued growing slowly during October.

Activity during July 2019-October 2020. After a large explosion on 9 June 2019, activity declined significantly, and no further emissions or incandescence was reported after 25 June (BGVN 44:08). For the remainder of 2019 steam plumes rose 50-400 m above the summit on most days, occasionally rising to 500-700 m above the crater. Lahars were recorded by seismic instruments in July, August, September, and December. During January-July 2020 steam plumes were reported usually 50-300 m above the summit, sometimes rising to 500 m. On 21 March 2020 steam plumes rose to 700 m, and a lahar was recorded by seismic instruments. Lahars were reported on 26 and 28 April, 3 and 5 June, and 11 July.

A swarm of deep volcanic earthquakes was reported by PVMBG on 7 August 2020. This was followed by a phreatic explosion with a dense gray to black ash plume on 8 August that rose 2,000 m above the summit and drifted E; a second explosion that day produced a plume that rose 1,000 m above the summit. According to the Jakarta Post, ash reached the community of Berastagi (15 km E) along with the districts of Naman Teran (5-10 km NE), Merdeka (15 km NE), and Dolat Rayat (20 km E). Continuous tremor events were first recorded on 8 August and continued daily until 26 August. Two explosions were recorded on 10 August; the largest produced a dense gray ash plume that rose 5,000 m above the summit and drifted NE and SE (figure 77). The Darwin VAAC reported the eruption clearly visible in satellite imagery at 9.7 km altitude and drifting W. Later they reported a second plume drifting ESE at 4.3 km altitude. After this large explosion the local National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) reported significant ashfall in three districts: Naman Teran, Berastagi and Merdeka. Emissions on 11 and 12 August were white and gray and rose 100-200 m. Multiple explosions on 13 August produced white and gray ash plumes that rose 1,000-2,000 m above the summit. Explosions on 14 August produced gray and brown ash plumes that rose 1,000-4,200 m above the summit and drifted S and SW (figure 77). The Darwin VAAC reported that the ash plume was partly visible in satellite imagery at 7.6 km altitude moving W; additional plumes were moving SE at 3.7 km altitude and NE at 5.5 km altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Numerous explosions were recorded at Sinabung during August 2020. An ash plume rose to 5,000 m above the summit on 10 August (left) and drifted both NE and SE. On 14 August gray and brown ash plumes rose 1,000-4,200 m above the summit and drifted S, SW, SE and NE (right) while ashfall covered crops SE of the volcano. Courtesy of PVMBG (Sinabung Eruption Notices, 10 and 14 August 2020).

White, gray, and brown emissions rose 800-1,000 m above the summit on 15 and 17 August. The next day white and gray emissions rose 2,000 m above the summit. The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume visible at 5.2 km altitude drifting SW. A large explosion on 19 August produced a dense gray ash plume that rose 4,000 above the summit and drifted S and SW. Gray and white emissions rose 500 m on 20 August. Two explosions were recorded seismically on 21 August, but rainy and cloudy weather prevented observations. White steam plumes rose 300 m on 22 August, and a lahar was recorded seismically. On 23 August, an explosion produced a gray ash plume that rose 1,500 m above the summit and pyroclastic flows that traveled 1,000 m down the E and SE flanks (figure 78). Continuous tremors were accompanied by ash emissions. White, gray, and brown emissions rose 600 m on 24 August. An explosion on 25 August produced an ash plume that rose 800 m above the peak and drifted W and NW (figure 79). During 26-30 August steam emissions rose 100-400 m above the summit and no explosions were recorded. Dense gray ash emissions rose 1,000 m and drifted E and NE after an explosion on 31 August. Significant SO2 emissions were associated with many of the explosions during August (figure 80).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. On 23 August 2020 an explosion at Sinabung produced a gray ash plume that rose 1,500 m above the summit and produced pyroclastic flows that traveled 1,000 m down the E and SE flanks. Courtesy of PVMBG (Sinabung Eruption Notice, 23 August 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. An explosion on 25 August 2020 at Sinabung produced an ash plume that rose 800 m above the peak and drifted W and NW. Courtesy of PVMBG (Sinabung Eruption Notice, 25 August 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Significant sulfur dioxide emissions were measured at Sinabung during August 2020 when near-daily explosions produced abundant ash emissions. A small plume was also recorded from Kerinci on 19 August 2020. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Explosive activity decreased substantially during September 2020. A single explosion reported on 5 September produced a white and brown ash plume that rose 800 m above the summit and drifted NNE. During the rest of the month steam emissions rose 50-500 m above the summit before dissipating. Two lahars were reported on 7 September, and one each on 11 and 30 September. Although only a single explosion was reported, anomalous SO2 emissions were present in satellite data on several days.

The character of the activity changed during October 2020. Steam plumes rising 50-300 m above the summit were reported during the first week and a lahar was recorded by seismometers on 4 October. The first block avalanches from a new dome growing at the summit were reported on 8 October with material traveling 300 m ESE from the summit (figure 81). During 11-13 October block avalanches traveled 300-700 m E and SE from the summit. They traveled 100-150 m on 14 October. Steam plumes rising 50-500 m above the summit were reported during 15-22 October with two lahars recorded on 21 October. White and gray emissions rose 50-1,000 m on 23 October. The first of a series of pyroclastic flows was reported on 25 October; they were reported daily through the end of the month when the weather permitted, traveling 1,000-2,500 m from the summit (figure 82). In addition, block avalanches from the growing dome were observed moving down the E and SE flanks 500-1,500 m on 25 October and 200-1,000 m each day during 28-31 October (figure 83). Sentinel-2 satellite data indicated a very weak thermal anomaly at the summit in late September; it was slightly larger in late October, corroborating with images of the slow-growing dome (figure 84).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. A new lava dome appeared at the summit of Sinabung in late September 2020. Block avalanches from the dome were first reported on 8 October. Satellite imagery indicating a thermal anomaly at the summit was very faint at the end of September and slightly stronger by the end of October. The dome grew slowly between 30 September (top) and 22 October 2020 (bottom). Photos taken by Firdaus Surbakti, courtesy of Rizal.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. Pyroclastic flows at Sinabung were accompanied ash emissions multiple times during the last week of October, including the event seen here on 27 October 2020. Courtesy of PVMBG and CultureVolcan.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Block avalanches from the growing summit dome at Sinabung descended the SE flank on 28 October 2020. The dome is visible at the summit. Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. A very faint thermal anomaly appeared at the summit of Sinabung in Sentinel 2 satellite imagery on 28 September 2020 (left). One month later on 28 October the anomaly was bigger, corroborating photographic evidence of the growing dome. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Gunung Sinabung is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano with many lava flows on its flanks. The migration of summit vents along a N-S line gives the summit crater complex an elongated form. The youngest crater of this conical andesitic-to-dacitic edifice is at the southern end of the four overlapping summit craters. The youngest deposit is a SE-flank pyroclastic flow 14C dated by Hendrasto et al. (2012) at 740-880 CE. An unconfirmed eruption was noted in 1881, and solfataric activity was seen at the summit and upper flanks in 1912. No confirmed historical eruptions were recorded prior to explosive eruptions during August-September 2010 that produced ash plumes to 5 km above the summit.

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/); 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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); The Jakarta Post, 3rd Floor, Gedung, Jl. Palmerah Barat 142-143 Jakarta 10270 (URL: https://www.thejakartapost.com/amp/news/2020/08/08/mount-sinabung-erupts-again-after-year-of-inactivity.html);Rizal (URL: https://twitter.com/Rizal06691023/status/1319452375887740930); CultureVolcan (URL: https://twitter.com/CultureVolcan/status/1321156861173923840).


Heard (Australia) — November 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Heard

Australia

53.106°S, 73.513°E; summit elev. 2745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Persistent thermal anomalies in the summit crater from June through October 2020

The remote Heard Island is located in the southern Indian Ocean and contains the Big Ben stratovolcano, which has had intermittent activity since 1910. The island’s activity, characterized by thermal anomalies and occasional lava flows (BGVN 45:05), is primarily monitored by satellite instruments. This report updates activity from May through October 2020 using information from satellite-based instruments.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed frequent thermal activity in early June that continued through July (figure 43). Intermittent, slightly higher-power thermal anomalies were detected in late August through mid-October, the strongest of which occurred in October. Two of these anomalies were also detected in the MODVOLC algorithm on 12 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. A small pulse in thermal activity at Heard was detected in early June and continued through July 2020, according to the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power). Thermal anomalies appeared again starting in late August and continued intermittently through mid-October 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed a single thermal anomaly on 3 May. In comparison to the MIROVA graph, satellite imagery showed a small pulse of strong thermal activity at the summit of Big Ben in June (figure 44). Some of these thermal anomalies were accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Persistent strong thermal activity continued through July. Starting on 2 July through at least 17 July two hotspots were visible in satellite imagery: one in the summit crater and one slightly to the NW of the summit (figure 45). Some gas-and-steam emissions were seen rising from the S hotspot in the summit crater. In August the thermal anomalies had decreased in strength and frequency but persisted at the summit through October (figure 45).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Thermal satellite images of Heard Island’s Big Ben volcano showed strong thermal signatures (bright yellow-orange) sometimes accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions drifting SE (top left) and NE (bottom right) during June 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Thermal satellite images of Heard Island’s Big Ben volcano showed persistent thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) near the summit during July through October 2020. During 14 (top left) and 17 (top right) July a second hotspot was visible NW of the summit. By 22 October (bottom right) the thermal anomaly had significantly decreased in strength in comparison to previous months. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Heard Island on the Kerguelen Plateau in the southern Indian Ocean consists primarily of the emergent portion of two volcanic structures. The large glacier-covered composite basaltic-to-trachytic cone of Big Ben comprises most of the island, and the smaller Mt. Dixon lies at the NW tip of the island across a narrow isthmus. Little is known about the structure of Big Ben because of its extensive ice cover. The historically active Mawson Peak forms the island's high point and lies within a 5-6 km wide caldera breached to the SW side of Big Ben. Small satellitic scoria cones are mostly located on the northern coast. Several subglacial eruptions have been reported at this isolated volcano, but observations are infrequent and additional activity may have occurred.

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).


Sabancaya (Peru) — October 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Sabancaya

Peru

15.787°S, 71.857°W; summit elev. 5960 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Daily explosions produced ash plumes, SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies during June-September 2020

Sabancaya, located in Peru, is a stratovolcano that has been very active since 1986. The current eruptive period began in November 2016 and has recently been characterized by lava dome growth, daily explosions, ash plumes, ashfall, SO2 plumes, and ongoing thermal anomalies (BGVN 45:06). Similar activity continues into this reporting period of June through September 2020 using information from weekly reports from the Observatorio Vulcanologico INGEMMET (OVI), the Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP), and various satellite data. The Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) issued a total of 520 reports of ongoing ash emissions during this time.

Volcanism during this reporting period consisted of daily explosions, nearly constant gas-and-ash plumes, SO2 plumes, and persistent thermal anomalies in the summit crater. Gas-and-ash plumes rose to 1.5-4 km above the summit crater, drifting up to 35 km from the crater in multiple directions; several communities reported ashfall every month except for August (table 7). Sulfur dioxide emissions were notably high and recorded almost daily with the TROPOMI satellite instrument (figure 83). The satellite measurements of the SO2 emissions exceeded 2 DU (Dobson Units) at least 20 days each month of the reporting period. These SO2 plumes sometimes persisted over multiple days and ranged between 1,900-10,700 tons/day. MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows frequent thermal activity through September within 5 km of the summit crater, though the power varied; by late August, the thermal anomalies were stronger compared to the previous months (figure 84). This increase in power is also reflected by the MODVOLC algorithm that detected 11 thermal anomalies over the days of 31 August and 4, 6, 13, 17, 18, 20, and 22 September 2020. Many of these thermal hotspots were visible in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery, occasionally accompanied by gas-and-steam and ash plumes (figure 85).

Table 7. Persistent activity at Sabancaya during June through September included multiple daily explosions that produced ash plumes rising several kilometers above the summit and drifting in multiple directions; this resulted in ashfall in communities within 35 km of the volcano. Satellite instruments recorded daily SO2 emissions. Data courtesy of OVI-INGEMMET, IGP, and the NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Month Avg. daily explosions by week Max plume heights (km above the crater) Plume drift (km) and direction Communities reporting ashfall Minimum days with SO2 over 2 DU SO2 emissions per day (tons) by week
Jun 2020 20, 10, 9, 13 1.5-4 30 km, SE, S, SW, NE, W, E Chivay, Achoma, Ichupampa, Yanque, and Coporaque, Sallali, Madrigal, Lari, and Ichupampa 28 8,400, 2,200, 3,100, 7,600
Jul 2020 20, 15, 11, 12, 19 2-2.6 15-30 km E, NE, NW, SE, SW, S, W Achoma and Chivay 23 4,400, 6,000, 1,900, 2,100, 5,900
Aug 2020 18, 12, 9, 29 1.7-3.6 20-30 km W, SW, SE, S, E, NW - 20 2,300, 3,800, 5,300, 10,700
Sep 2020 39, 35, 33, 38, 40 1.8-3.5 25-35 km SE, S, SW, W, E, NE, N, NW, W Lari, Achoma, Maca, Chivay, Taya, Huambo, Huanca, and Lluta 28 9,700, 2,600, 8,800, 7,800, 4,100
Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Sulfur dioxide plumes were captured almost daily from Sabancaya during June through September 2020 by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite. Some of the largest SO2 plumes occurred on 19 June (top left), 5 July (top right), 30 August (bottom left), and 10 September (bottom right) 2020. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Thermal activity at Sabancaya varied in power from 13 October 2019 through September 2020, but was consistent in frequency, according to the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power). A pulse in thermal activity is shown in late August 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed frequent gas-and-steam and ash plumes rising from Sabancaya, accompanied by ongoing thermal activity from the summit crater during June through September 2020. On 23 June (top left) a dense gray-white ash plume was visible drifting E from the summit. On 3 July (top right) and 27 August (bottom left) a strong thermal hotspot (bright yellow-orange) was accompanied by some degassing. On 1 September (bottom right) the thermal anomaly persisted with a dense gray-white ash plume drifting SE from the summit. Images using “Natural Color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) on 23 June 2020 (top left) and the rest have “Atmospheric penetration” rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

OVI detected slight inflation on the N part of the volcano, which continued to be observed throughout the reporting period. Persistent thermal anomalies caused by the summit crater lava dome were observed in satellite data. The average number of daily explosions during June ranged from 18 during 1-7 June to 9 during 15-21 June, which generated gas-and-ash plumes that rose 1.5-4 km above the crater and drifted 30 km SE, S, SW, NE, W, and E (figure 86). The strongest sulfur dioxide emissions were recorded during 1-7 June measuring 8,400 tons/day. On 20 June drone video showed that the lava dome had been destroyed, leaving blocks on the crater floor, though the crater remained hot, as seen in thermal satellite imagery (figure 85). During 22-28 June there were an average of 13 daily explosions, which produced ash plumes rising to a maximum height of 4 km, drifting NE, E, and SE. As a result, ashfall was reported in the districts of Chivay, Achoma, Ichupampa, Yanque, and Coporaque, and in the area of Sallali. Then, on 27 June ashfall was reported in several areas NE of the volcano, which included the districts of Madrigal, Lari, Achoma, Ichupampa, Yanque, Chivay, and Coporaque.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Multiple daily explosions at Sabancaya produced ash plumes that rose 1.5-4 km above the crater during June 2020. Images are showing 8 (left) and 27 (right) June 2020. Courtesy of OVI (Reporte Semanal de Monitorio de la Actividad de la Volcan Sabancaya, RSSAB-24-2020/INGEMMET Semana del 08 al 14 de junio del 2020 and RSSAB-26-2020/INGEMMET Semana del 22 al 28 de junio del 2020).

Slight inflation continued to be monitored in July, occurring about 4-6 km N of the crater, as well as on the SE flank. Daily explosions continued, producing gas-and-ash plumes that rose 2-2.6 km above the crater and drifting 15-30 km E, NE, NW, SE, SW, S, and W (figure 87). The number of daily explosions increased slightly compared to the previous month, ranging from 20 during 1-5 July to 11 during 13-19 July. SO2 emissions that were measured each week ranged from 1,900 to 6,000 tons/day, the latter of which occurred during 6-12 July. Thermal anomalies continued to be observed in thermal satellite data over the summit crater throughout the month. During 6-12 July gas-and-ash plumes rose 2.3-2.5 km above the crater, drifting 30 km SE, E, and NE, resulting in ashfall in Achoma and Chivay.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Multiple daily explosions at Sabancaya produced ash plumes that rose 2-3.5 km above the crater during July 2020. Images are showing 7 (left) and 26 (right) July 2020. Courtesy of OVI (Reporte Semanal de Monitorio de la Actividad de la Volcan Sabancaya, RSSAB-28-2020/INGEMMET Semanal: del 06 al 12 de julio del 2020 and RSSAB-30-2020/INGEMMET Semanal: del 20 al 26 de julio del 2020).

OVI reported continued slight inflation on the N and SE flanks during August. Daily explosive activity had slightly declined in the first part of the month, ranging from 18 during the 3-9 August to 9 during 17-23 August. Dense gray gas-and-ash plumes rose 1.7-3.6 km above the crater, drifting 20-30 km in various directions (figure 88), though no ashfall was reported. Thermal anomalies were observed using satellite data throughout the month. During 24-30 August a pulse in activity increased the daily average of explosions to 29, as well as the amount of SO2 emissions (10,700 tons/day); nighttime incandescence accompanied this activity. During 28-29 August higher levels of seismicity and inflation were reported compared to the previous weeks. The daily average of explosions increased again during 31 August-6 September to 39; nighttime incandescence remained.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Multiple daily explosions at Sabancaya produced ash plumes that rose 1.7-3.6 km above the crater during August 2020. Images are showing 1 (left) and 29 (right) August 2020. Courtesy of OVI (Reporte Semanal de Monitorio de la Actividad de la Volcan Sabancaya, RSSAB-31-2020/INGEMMET Semanal del 27 de julio al 02 de agosto del 2020 and RSSAB-35-2020/INGEMMET Semanal del 24 al 30 de agosto del 2020).

Increased volcanism was reported during September with the daily average of explosions ranging from 33 during 14-20 September to 40 during 28 September-4 October. The resulting gas-and-ash plumes rose 1.8-3.5 km above the crater drifting 25-35 km in various directions (figure 89). SO2 flux was measured by OVI ranging from 2,600 to 9,700 tons/day, the latter of which was recorded during 31 August to 6 September. During 7-13 September an average of 35 explosions were reported, accompanied by gas-and-ash plumes that rose 2.6-3.5 km above the crater and drifting 30 km SE, SW, W, E, and S. These events resulted in ashfall in Lari, Achoma, and Maca. The following week (14-20 September) ashfall was reported in Achoma and Chivay. During 21-27 September the daily average of explosions was 38, producing ash plumes that resulted in ashfall in Taya, Huambo, Huanca, and Lluta. Slight inflation on the N and SE flanks continued to be monitored by OVI. Strong activity, including SO2 emissions and thermal anomalies over the summit crater persisted into at least early October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Multiple daily explosions at Sabancaya produced ash plumes that rose 1.8-2.6 km above the crater during September 2020. Images are showing 4 (left) and 27 (right) September 2020. Courtesy of OVI (Reporte Semanal de Monitorio de la Actividad de la Volcan Sabancaya, RSSAB-36-2020/INGEMMET Semanal del 31 de agosto al 06 de septiembre del 2020 and RSSAB-39-2020/INGEMMET Semanal del 21 al 27 de septiembre del 2020).

Geologic Background. Sabancaya, located in the saddle NE of Ampato and SE of Hualca Hualca volcanoes, is the youngest of these volcanic centers and the only one to have erupted in historical time. The oldest of the three, Nevado Hualca Hualca, is of probable late-Pliocene to early Pleistocene age. The name Sabancaya (meaning "tongue of fire" in the Quechua language) first appeared in records in 1595 CE, suggesting activity prior to that date. Holocene activity has consisted of Plinian eruptions followed by emission of voluminous andesitic and dacitic lava flows, which form an extensive apron around the volcano on all sides but the south. Records of historical eruptions date back to 1750.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico), Barrio Magisterial Nro. 2 B-16 Umacollo - Yanahuara Arequipa, Peru (URL: http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe); Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP), Calle Badajoz N° 169 Urb. Mayorazgo IV Etapa, Ate, Lima 15012, Perú (URL: https://www.gob.pe/igp); Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Servicio Meteorológico Nacional-Fuerza Aérea Argentina, 25 de mayo 658, Buenos Aires, Argentina (URL: http://www.smn.gov.ar/vaac/buenosaires/inicio.php); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


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

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent small phreatic explosions with intermittent ash plumes during April-September 2020

Rincón de la Vieja is a remote volcanic complex in Costa Rica that contains an acid lake. Frequent weak phreatic explosions have occurred since 2011 (BGVN 44:08). The most recent eruption period began in January 2020, which consisted of small phreatic explosions, gas-and-steam plumes, pyroclastic flows, and lahars (BGVN 45:04). This reporting period covers April through September 2020, with activity characterized by continued small phreatic explosions, three lahars, frequent gas-and-steam plumes, and ash plumes. The primary source of information for this report is the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA) using weekly bulletins and the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Small, frequent, phreatic explosions were common at Rincón de la Vieja during this reporting period. One to several eruptions were reported on at least 16 days in April, 15 days in May, 8 days in June, 10 days in July, 18 days in August, and 13 days in September (table 5). Intermittent ash plumes accompanied these eruptions, rising 100-3,000 m above the crater and drifting W, NW, and SW during May and N during June. Occasional gas-and-steam plumes were also observed rising 50-2,000 m above the crater rim.

Table 5. Monthly summary of activity at Rincón de la Vieja during April through September 2020. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Month Minimum total days of eruptions Ash plume height (m above the crater) Notable plume drift Gas-and-steam plume height (m above the crater)
Apr 2020 16 200-1,000 - 50-1,500
May 2020 15 200-3,000 W, NW, SW 200-2,000
Jun 2020 8 100-2,000 N -
Jul 2020 10 1,000 - -
Aug 2020 18 500-1,000 - 500
Sep 2020 13 700 - 50

During April small explosions were detected almost daily, some of which generated ash plumes that rose 200-1,000 m above the crater and gas-and-steam emissions that rose 50-1,500 m above the crater. On 4 April an eruption at 0824 produced an ash plume that rose 1 km above the crater rim. A small hydrothermal explosion at 0033 on 11 April, recorded by the webcam in Sensoria (4 km N), ejected water and sediment onto the upper flanks. On 15 April a phreatic eruption at 0306 resulted in lahars in the Pénjamo, Azufrada, and Azul rivers, according to local residents. Several small explosions were detected during the morning of 19 April; the largest phreatic eruption ejected water and sediment 300 m above the crater rim and onto the flanks at 1014, generated a lahar, and sent a gas-and-steam plume 1.5 km above the crater (figure 30). On 24 April five events were recorded by the seismic network during the morning, most of which produced gas-and-steam plumes that rose 300-500 m above the crater. The largest event on this day occurred at 1020, ejecting water and solid material 300 m above the crater accompanied by a gas-and-steam plume rising up to 1 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Webcam image of small hydrothermal eruptions at Rincón de la Vieja on 19 April 2020. Image taken by the webcam in Dos Ríos de Upala; courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Similar frequent phreatic activity continued in May, with ash plumes rising 200-1,500 m above the crater, drifting W, NW, and SW, and gas-and-steam plumes rising up to 2 km. On 5 May an eruption at 1317 produced a gas-and-steam plume 200 m above the crater and a Washington VAAC advisory reported that an ash plume rose to 2.1 km altitude, drifting W. An event at 1925 on 9 May generated a gas-and-steam plume that rose almost 2 km. An explosion at 1128 on 15 May resulted in a gas-and-steam plume that rose 1 km above the crater rim, accompanied by a gray, sediment-laden plume that rose 400 m. On 21 May a small ash eruption at 0537 sent a plume 1 km above the crater (figure 31). According to a Washington VAAC advisory, an ash plume rose 3 km altitude, drifting NW on 22 May. During the early evening on 25 May an hour-long sequence of more than 70 eruptions and emissions, according to OVSICORI-UNA, produced low gas-and-steam plumes and tephra; at 1738, some ejecta was observed above the crater rim. The next day, on 26 May, up to 52 eruptive events were observed. An eruption at 2005 was not visible due to weather conditions; however, it resulted in a minor amount of ashfall up to 17 km W and NW, which included Los Angeles of Quebrada Grande and Liberia. A phreatic explosion at 1521 produced a gray plume that rose 1.5 km above the crater (figure 31). An eruption at 1524 on 28 May sent an ash plume 3 km above the crater that drifted W, followed by at least three smaller eruptions at 1823, 1841, and 1843. OVSICORI-UNA reported that volcanism began to decrease in frequency on 28-29 May. Sulfur dioxide emissions ranged between 100 and 400 tons per day during 28 May to 15 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Webcam images of gray gas-and-steam and ash emissions at Rincón de la Vieja on 21 (left), and 27 (right) May 2020. Both images taken by the webcam in Dos Ríos de Upala and Sensoria; courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

There were eight days with eruptions in June, though some days had multiple small events; phreatic eruptions reported on 1-2, 13, 16-17, 19-20, and 23 June generated plumes 1-2 km above the crater (figure 32). During 2-8 June SO2 emissions were 150-350 tons per day; more than 120 eruptions were recorded during the preceding weekend. Ashfall was observed N of the crater on 4 June. During 9-15 June the SO2 emissions increased slightly to 100-400 tons per day. During 16-17 June several small eruptive events were detected, the largest of which occurred at 1635 on 17 June, producing an ash plume that rose 1 km above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Webcam images of gray gas-and-steam and ash plumes rising from Rincón de la Vieja on 1 (top left), 2 (top right), 7 (bottom left), and 13 (bottom right) June 2020. The ash plume on 1 June rose between 1.5 and 2 km above the crater. The ash plume on 13 June rose 1 km above the crater. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Explosive hydrothermal activity was lower in June-September compared to January-May 2020, according to OVSICORI-UNA. Sporadic small phreatic explosions and earthquakes were registered during 22-25 and 29 July-3 August, though no lahars were reported. On 25 July an eruptive event at 0153 produced an ash plume that rose 1 km above the crater. Similar activity continued into August. On 5 and 6 August phreatic explosions were recorded at 0546 and 0035, respectively, the latter of which generated a plume that rose 500 m above the crater. These events continued to occur on 10, 16, 19-20, 22-25, 27-28, and 30-31 August, generating plumes that rose 500 m to 1 km above the crater.

On 3 September geologists observed that the acid lake in the main crater had a low water level and exhibited strong gas emissions; vigorous fumaroles were observed on the inner W wall of the crater, measuring 120°C. Gas-and-steam emissions continued to be detected during September, occasionally accompanied by phreatic eruptions. On 7 September an eruption at 0750 produced an ash plume that rose 50 m above the crater while the accompanying gas-and-steam plume rose 500 m. Several low-energy phreatic explosions occurred during 8-17, 20, and 22-28 September, characterized primarily by gas-and-steam emissions. An eruption on 16 September ejected material from the crater and generated a small lahar. Sulfur dioxide emissions were 100 tons per day during 16-21 September. On 17 September an eruption at 0632 produced an ash plume that rose 700 m above the crater (figure 33). A relatively large eruptive event at 1053 on 22 September ejected material out of the crater and into N-flank drainages.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Webcam image of an eruption plume rising above Rincón de la Vieja on 17 September 2020. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Geologic Background. Rincón de la Vieja, the largest volcano in NW Costa Rica, is a remote volcanic complex in the Guanacaste Range. The volcano consists of an elongated, arcuate NW-SE-trending ridge constructed within the 15-km-wide early Pleistocene Guachipelín caldera, whose rim is exposed on the south side. Sometimes known as the "Colossus of Guanacaste," it has an estimated volume of 130 km3 and contains at least nine major eruptive centers. Activity has migrated to the SE, where the youngest-looking craters are located. The twin cone of Santa María volcano, the highest peak of the complex, is located at the eastern end of a smaller, 5-km-wide caldera and has a 500-m-wide crater. A Plinian eruption producing the 0.25 km3 Río Blanca tephra about 3,500 years ago was the last major magmatic eruption. All subsequent eruptions, including numerous historical eruptions possibly dating back to the 16th century, have been from the prominent active crater containing a 500-m-wide acid lake located ENE of Von Seebach crater.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/, https://www.facebook.com/OVSICORI/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html).


Fuego (Guatemala) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Fuego

Guatemala

14.473°N, 90.88°W; summit elev. 3763 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Daily explosions, ash emissions, and block avalanches during August-November 2020

Guatemala's Volcán de Fuego has been erupting vigorously since 2002 with reported eruptions dating back to 1531. These eruptions have resulted in major ashfalls, pyroclastic flows, lava flows, and damaging lahars, including a series of explosions and pyroclastic flows in early June 2018 that caused several hundred fatalities. Eruptive activity consisting of explosions with ash emissions, block avalanches, and lava flows began again after a short break and has continued; activity during August-November 2020 is covered in this report. Daily reports are provided by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH); aviation alerts of ash plumes are issued by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). Satellite data provide valuable information about heat flow and emissions.

Summary of activity during August-November 2020. Eruptive activity continued at Fuego during August-November 2020, very similar to that during the first part of the year (table 22). Ash emissions were reported daily by INSIVUMEH with explosions often in the 6-12 per hour range. Most of the ash plumes rose to 4.5-4.7 km altitude and generally drifted SW, W, or NW, although rarely the wind direction changed and sent ash to the S and SE. Multiple daily advisories were issued throughout the period by the Washington VAAC warning aviators about ash plumes, which were often visible on the observatory webcam (figure 136). Some of the communities located SW of the volcano received ashfall virtually every day during the period. Block avalanches descended the major drainages daily as well. Sounds were heard and vibrations felt from the explosions most days, usually 7-12 km away. The stronger explosions could be felt and heard 20 km or more from the volcano. During late August and early September a lava flow was active on the SW flank, reaching 700 m in length during the second week of September.

Table 22. Eruptive activity was consistently high at Fuego throughout August – November 2020 with multiple explosions every hour, ash plumes, block avalanches, and near-daily ashfall in the communities in certain directions within 10-20 km of the volcano. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH daily reports.

Month Explosions per hour Ash Plume Heights (km) Ash plume distance (km) and direction Drainages affected by block avalanches Communities reporting ashfall
Aug 2020 2-15 4.3-4.8 SW, W, NW, S, N, 8-20 km Seca, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, Honda, Santa Teresa Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Rochela, Finca Palo Verde, Yepocapa, Santa Sofia, El Porvenir, Palo Verde, Sangre de Cristo, Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa
Sep 2020 3-16 4.3-4.9 W, SW, NW, N, S, 8-20 km Seca, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, Honda, Santa Teresa Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Santa Sofía, Finca Palo Verde, Sangre de Cristo, Yepocapa, Porvenir, Yucales, Ojo de Agua, Finca La Conchita
Oct 2020 3-19 4.1-4.8 SW, W, S, SE, N, E, 10-20 km Seca, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, Honda, Santa Teresa Panimache I and II, Morelia, Sangre de Cristo, Yepocapa, La Rochela, El Porvenir, Ceilán, Santa Sofía, Yucales, Finca Palo Verde
Nov 2020 4-14 4.0-4.8 S, SW, SE, W, NW, 10-35 km Seca, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, Honda, Santa Teresa El Jute Panimaché I and II, Sangre de Cristo, Morelia, Ceilan, La Rochela, El Zapote, Santa Sofía, Yucales, San Juan Alotenango, Ciudad Vieja, San Miguel Dueñas y Antigua Guatemala, Palo Verde, El Porvenir, San Pedro Yepocapa, Quisaché, Santa Emilia
Figure (see Caption) Figure 136. Consistent daily ash emissions produced similar looking ash plumes at Fuego during August-November 2020. Plumes usually rose to 4.5-4.8 km altitude and drifted SW. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

The frequent explosions, block avalanches, and lava flows produced a strong thermal signal throughout the period that was recorded in both the MIROVA project Log Radiative Power graph (figure 137) and in numerous Sentinel-2 satellite images (figure 138). MODVOLC data produced thermal alerts 4-6 days each month. At least one lahar was recorded each month; they were most frequent in September and October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 137. The MIROVA graph of activity at Fuego for the period from 15 January through November 2020 suggested persistent moderate to high-level heat flow for much of the time. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 138. Atmospheric penetration rendering of Sentinel-2 satellite images (bands 12, 11, 8A) of Fuego during August-November 2020 showed continued thermal activity from block avalanches, explosions, and lava flows at the summit and down several different ravines. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during August-November 2020. The number of explosions per hour at Fuego during August 2020 was most often 7-10, with a few days that were higher at 10-15. The ash plumes usually rose to 4.5-4.8 km altitude and drifted SW or W up to 15 km. Incandescence was visible 100-300 m above the summit crater on most nights. All of the major drainages including the Seca, Santa Teresa, Ceniza, Trinidad, Taniluyá, Las Lajas, and Honda were affected by block avalanches virtually every day. In addition, the communities of Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Santa Sofía, Finca Palo Verde, El Porvenir, San Pedro Yepocapa, and Sangre de Cristo reported ashfall almost every day. Sounds and vibrations were reported multiple days every week, often up to 12 km from the volcano, but occasionally as far as 20 km away. Lahars carrying blocks of rocks and debris 1-2 m in diameter descended the SE flank in the Las Lajas and Honda ravines on 6 August. On 27 August a lava flow 150 m long appeared in the Ceniza ravine. It increased in length over the subsequent few days, reaching 550 m long on 30 August, with frequent block avalanches falling off the front of the flow.

The lava flow in the Ceniza ravine was reported at 100 m long on 5 September. It grew to 200 m on 7 September and reached 700 m long on 12 September. It remained 200-350 m long through 19 September, although instruments monitored by INSIVUMEH indicated that effusive activity was decreasing after 16 September (figure 139). A second flow was 200 m long in the Seca ravine on 19 September. By 22 September, active flows were no longer observed. The explosion rate varied from a low of 3-5 on 1 September to a high of 12-16 on 4, 13, 18, and 22-23 September. Ash plumes rose to 4.5-4.9 km altitude nearly every day and drifted W, NW, and SW occasionally as far as 20 km before dissipating. In addition to the active flow in the Ceniza ravine, block avalanches persisted in the other ravines throughout the month. Ashfall continued in the same communities as in August, but was also reported in Yucales on 4 September along with Ojo de Agua and Finca La Conchita on 17 September. The Las Lajas, Honda, and El Jute ravines were the sites of lahars carrying blocks up to 1.5 m in diameter on 8 and 18 September. On 19 and 24 September lahars again descended Las Lajas and El Jute ravines; the Ceniza ravine had a lahar on 19 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 139. Avalanche blocks descended the Ceniza ravine (left) and the Las Lajas ravine (right) at Fuego on 17 September 2020. The webcam that captured this image is located at Finca La Reunión on the SE flank. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (BOLETÍN VULCANOLÓGICO ESPECIAL BEVFGO # 76-2020, 18 de septiembre de 2020, 14:30 horas).

The same activity continued during October 2020 with regard to explosion rates, plume altitudes, distances, and directions of drift. All of the major ravines were affected by block avalanches and the same communities located W and SW of the summit reported ashfall. In addition, ashfall was reported in La Rochela on 2, 3, 7-9 and 30 October, in Ceilán on 3 and 7-9 October, and in Yucales on 5, 14, 18 and 19 October. Multiple strong explosions with abundant ash were reported in a special bulletin on 14 October; high levels of explosive activity were recorded during 16-23 October. Vibrations and sounds were often felt up to 15 km away and heard as far as 25 km from the volcano during that period. Particularly strong block avalanches were present in the Seca and Ceniza ravines on 20, 25, and 30 October. Abundant rain on 9 October resulted in lahars descending all of the major ravines. The lahar in the Las Lajas ravine overflowed and forced the closure of route RN-14 road affecting the community of San Miguel on the SE flank (figure 140). Heavy rains on 15 October produced lahars in the Ceniza, Las Lajas, and Hondas ravines with blocks up to 2 m in diameter. Multiple lahars on 27 October affected Las Lajas, El Jute, and Honda ravines.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 140. Heavy rains on 9 October 2020 at Fuego caused lahars in all the major ravines. Debris from Las Lajas ravine overflowed highway RN-14 near the community of San Miguel on the SE flank, the area devastated by the pyroclastic flow of June 2018. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (BEFGO #96 VOLCAN DE FUEGO- ZONA CERO RN-14, SAN MIGUEL LOS LOTES y BARRANCA LAS LAJAS, 09 de octubre de 2020).

On 8 November 2020 a lahar descended the Seca ravine, carrying rocks and debris up to 1 meter in diameter. During the second week of November 2020, the wind direction changed towards the SE and E and brought ashfall to San Juan Alotenango, Ciudad Vieja, San Miguel Dueñas, and Antigua Guatemala on 8 November. Especially strong block avalanches were noted in the Seca and Ceniza ravines on 14, 19, 24, and 29 November. During a period of stronger activity in the fourth week of November, vibrations were felt and explosions heard more than 20 km away on 22 November and more than 25 km away on 27 November. In addition to the other communities affected by ashfall during August-November, Quisaché and Santa Emilia reported ashfall on 30 November.

Geologic Background. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is also one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between Fuego and Acatenango to the north. Construction of Meseta dates back to about 230,000 years and continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Collapse of Meseta may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km onto the Pacific coastal plain. Growth of the modern Fuego volcano followed, continuing the southward migration of volcanism that began at the mostly andesitic Acatenango. Eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/ ); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground);Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html).


Kikai (Japan) — November 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kikai

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosion on 6 October 2020 and thermal anomalies in the crater

Kikai is a mostly submarine caldera, 19-km-wide, just S of the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. At the NW rim of the caldera lies the island of Satsuma Iwo Jima (also known as Satsuma-Iojima and Tokara Iojima), and the island’s highest peak, Iodake, a steep stratovolcano. Recent weak ash explosions at Iodake occurred on 2 November 2019 and 29 April 2020 (BGVN 45:02, 45:05). The volcano is monitored by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and satellite sensors. This report covers the period May-October 2020. During this time, the Alert Level remained at 2 (on a 5-level scale).

Activity at Kikai has been relatively low since the previous eruption on 29 April 2020. During May through October occasional white gas-and-steam emissions rose 0.8-1.3 km above the Iodake crater, the latter of which was recorded in September. Emissions were intermittently accompanied by weak nighttime incandescence, according to JMA (figure 17).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. White gas-and-steam emissions rose 1 km above the crater at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 25 May (top) 2020. At night, occasional incandescence could be seen in the Iodake crater, as seen on 29 May (bottom) 2020. Both images taken by the Iwanoue webcam. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, May 2nd year of Reiwa [2020]).

A small eruption at 0757 on 6 October occurred in the NW part of the Iodake crater, which produced a grayish white plume rising 200 m above the crater (figure 18). Faint thermal anomalies were detected in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery in the days just before this eruption (28 September and 3 October) and then after (13 and 23 October), accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions (figures 19 and 20). Nighttime crater incandescence continued to be observed. JMA reported that sulfur dioxide emissions measured 700 tons per day during October, compared to the previous eruption (400-2,000 tons per day in April 2020).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Webcam images of the eruption at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 6 October 2020 that produced an ash plume rising 200 m above the crater (top). Nighttime summit crater incandescence was also observed (bottom). Images were taken by the Iwanoue webcam. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 2nd year of Reiwa [2020]).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Weak thermal hotspots (bright yellow-orange) were observed at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) during late September through October 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Webcam image of a white gas-and-steam plume rising 1.1 km above the crater at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 27 October 2020. Image was taken by the Iwanoue webcam. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 2nd year of Reiwa [2020]).

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

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


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

Manam

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash plumes, thermal anomalies, and SO2 emissions in April-September 2020

Manam, located 13 km off the N coast of Papua New Guinea, is a basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano with historical eruptions dating back 400 years. Volcanism has been characterized by low-level ash plumes, occasional Strombolian activity, lava flows, pyroclastic avalanches, and large ash plumes from Main and South, the two active summit craters. The current eruption period has been ongoing since 2014, typically with minor explosive activity, thermal activity, and SO2 emissions (BGVN 45:05). This reporting period updates information from April through September 2020, consisting of intermittent ash plumes from late July to mid-September, persistent thermal anomalies, and SO2 emissions. Information comes from Papua New Guinea's Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), part of the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

Explosive activity was relatively low during April through late July; SO2 emissions and low power, but persistent, thermal anomalies were detected by satellite instruments each month. The TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite recorded SO2 emissions, many of which exceeded two Dobson Units, that drifted generally W (figure 76). Distinct SO2 emissions were detected for 10 days in April, 4 days in May, 10 days in June, 4 days in July, 11 days in August, and 8 days in September.

Thermal anomalies recorded by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system were sparse from early January through June 2020, totaling 11 low-power anomalies within 5 km of the summit (figure 77). From late July through September a pulse in thermal activity produced slightly stronger and more frequent anomalies. Some of this activity could be observed in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (figure 78). Occasionally, these thermal anomalies were accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions or ash plumes, as shown on 28 July. On 17 August a particularly strong hotspot was detected in the S summit crater. According to the MODVOLC thermal alert data, a total of 10 thermal alerts were detected in the summit crater over four days: 29 July (5), 16 August (1), and 3 (1) and 8 (3) September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Distinct sulfur dioxide plumes rising from Manam and drifting generally W were detected using data from the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite on 28 April (top left), 24 May (top right), 16 July (bottom left), and 12 September (bottom right) 2020. Courtesy of the NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Intermittent thermal activity at Manam increased in power and frequency beginning around late July and continuing through September 2020, as shown on the MIROVA Log Radiative Power graph. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing a persistent thermal anomaly (yellow-orange) at Manam’s summit craters (Main and South) each month during April through August; sometimes they were seen in both summit craters, as shown on 8 June (top right), 28 July (bottom left), and 17 August (bottom right). A particularly strong anomaly was visible on 17 August (bottom right). Occasional gas-and-steam emissions accompanied the thermal activity. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during mid-July slightly increased compared to the previous months. On 16 July seismicity increased, fluctuating between low and moderate RSAM values through the rest of the month. In Sentinel-2 satellite imagery a gray ash plume was visible rising from the S summit crater on 28 July (figure 78). RSAM values gradually increased from a low average of 200 to an average of 1200 on 30 July, accompanied by thermal hotspots around the summit crater; a ground observer reported incandescent material was ejected from the summit. On 31 July into 1 August ash plumes rose to 4.3 km altitude, accompanied by an incandescent lava flow visible at the summit, according to a Darwin VAAC advisory.

Intermittent ash plumes continued to be reported by the Darwin VAAC on 1, 6-7, 16, 20, and 31 August. They rose from 2.1 to 4.6 km altitude, the latter of which occurred on 31 August and drifted W. Typically, these ash plumes extended SW, W, NW, and WSW. On 11 September another ash plume was observed rising 2.4 km altitude and drifting W.

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

Information Contacts: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 28, Number 05 (May 2003)

Managing Editor: Edward Venzke

Anatahan (United States)

Nearly continuous ash plumes through May

Blanco, Cerro (Argentina)

Satellite surveys during May 1996-October 2000 indicate subsidence

Chikurachki (Russia)

Eruption continued through May; long plumes and some ashfall

False Reports (Unknown)

Mongolia: Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

Fournaise, Piton de la (France)

Eruption on 30 May generates lava flows within Dolomieu crater

Karangetang (Indonesia)

Ash explosions from January through May 2003

Karymsky (Russia)

Frequent ash plumes generated from October 2002 through May 2003

Kilauea (United States)

Continued lava flows during December 2002-June 2003 enter the ocean

Lokon-Empung (Indonesia)

Increased explosive activity during January-April 2003; local ashfall

Mayon (Philippines)

Three small ash-and-steam explosions during April-May 2003

Monowai (New Zealand)

Volcanic earthquake swarm April-May detected by T-waves

Nyiragongo (DR Congo)

2002-2003 lava lake activity, thermal radiation, and CO2 and SO2 emissions

Ruapehu (New Zealand)

Steam plume issued from warm Crater Lake in May, but no eruption

Sabancaya (Peru)

Inflation at Hualca Hualca detected by satellite surveys from June 1992 to April 1996

Santa Maria (Guatemala)

Lahars during January-October 2002; explosions and pyroclastic flows

Stromboli (Italy)

Lava effusion continues through mid-June; infrared satellite observations

Uturuncu (Bolivia)

Deformation detected by satellite surveys; low-level seismicity and active fumaroles



Anatahan (United States) — May 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Anatahan

United States

16.35°N, 145.67°E; summit elev. 790 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Nearly continuous ash plumes through May

The explosive eruption that began on 10 May is the first documented eruption from Anatahan in historical time. There were no residents on the island due to their evacuation following a shallow earthquake swarm in 1990 (Moore and others, 1994), and another in 1993 (Sako and others, 1995). Anatahan is a composite volcano that erupts lavas that are primarily dacitic in composition. It has the largest caldera of the volcanoes in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The presence of this caldera indicates that large explosive eruptions are possible.

Strong activity continued over the next few days (BGVN 28:04), with high ash plumes seen in satellite imagery. The area within ~55 km of the island was also placed off-limits to all boats and aircraft not approved by the CNMI Emergency Management Office (EMO). A smaller but nearly continuous eruption column rose from the E crater of Anatahan for the next several weeks. Activity was continuing in early July, but at low levels.

The EMO invited USGS scientists to provide assistance in tracking the volcano's activity and assessing potential hazards shortly after the eruption began. USGS scientists first arrived in Saipan on 30 May to work directly with EMO officials to install and maintain monitoring equipment and interpret data from overflights and a single seismometer operating on Anatahan. This station became operational on 5 June.

Beginning of the eruption, 10-12 May 2003. On 6 May researchers from Washington University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the EMO aboard the MV Super Emerald deployed a seismograph on Anatahan as part of a joint US-Japan Mariana Subduction Imaging Experiment, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. There were no indications of an impending eruption. During the night of 10-11 May the ship was again approaching Anatahan when scientists observed a tremendous lightning display ahead. As morning broke, they saw a pillar of steam and ash billowing to an altitude of 9 km. The ship had to detour around the island to avoid the ashfall.

Initial reports indicated that the eruption began around 2100 on 10 May. Satellite data interpreted by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) showed that the eruption appeared to have started by 1730. An ash plume was clearly visible in imagery at 2232, resulting in an advisory being issued to the aviation community at 2300 (1300 UTC). Plume heights were reported to be 10-12 km in the early stages of the eruption, with one ash advisory indicating ash to 13.4 km altitude on the 11th. At times multiple clouds were moving in different directions at different altitudes.

On 13 May Joe Kaipat from the CNMI Emergency Management Office (EMO) and seismologist Doug Weins (Washington University) flew to Sarigan (6.5 km W of Anatahan) to retrieve seismic data from a broadband instrument installed on 6 May. Records from the Sarigan station showed increased seismicity commencing at about 1300 on 10 May. The activity remained very strong for about 36 hours before decreasing.

Activity during 13-30 May 2003. A helicopter overflight on 13 May showed that the island was still erupting, but with less intensity than on 11 May. Large volcanic bombs were observed flying high in the air over the crater region, and the whole W side of the island was covered with ash, including the seismograph site. The village appeared to have 15-30 cm of ash (figure 5). Ash advisories for 13-14 May reported that a dense ash cloud was drifting W away from the island, but that it was not continuous and varied in size. Ash plumes through 17 May generally drifted NW or WNW. The eruption clouds through May after the initial activity were generally below ~6 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. The village on Anatahan covered with ash, 13 May 2003. The recently deployed seismograph is barely visible in the clearing to the left. Note the ash on the roofs. Courtesy of Doug Weins.

On 18 May the EMO group took an overflight accompanied by David Hilton (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) and Tobias Fischer (University of New Mexico). They reported a rising plume comprised of steam and ash. The cloud was much lighter in color, with a reduced ash component compared to the initial phases of the eruption. Bombs, possibly up to several meters in size, were being tossed into the air; most fell back into the E crater. The ash was being blown W, but most of the ashfall was still on the E side of the island. The team landed on the E side of the island and deployed a PS- 2 seismometer that appears to have recorded earthquakes and some tremor. At that site they found ejecta thought to be from the initial stage of the eruption. The ground/vegetation near and under the ejecta was not scorched. Most of the material appeared to be non- juvenile. The largest fragments were up to 50 cm across. The team heard "booms" coming from the crater.

The ongoing explosive activity excavated a deep crater within Anatahan's E crater. Scientists estimated the inner crater was nearly at sea level by about 20 May; before the eruption, the floor of the E crater was 68 m above sea level. On 20 May the EMO group took an overflight and installed a telemetered seismic station. Pressure waves from detonations in the E crater were felt on the E flank. From a helicopter the team also observed rocks several meters across being thrown up above the E crater rim and falling back into the crater. Ash continued to fall on the western two-thirds of the island and out to sea. The ash cloud size and length was variable during 17-23 May; it continued in general to drift WNW from the island, at times spreading over a wide area.

On 23-24 May, typhoon Chan-hom shifted the prevailing east winds to the S, blowing the eruption column toward Saipan and Guam. Light ashfall resulted in flight cancellations and the closure of the Saipan and Guam international airports. Residents of Saipan reported a rotten egg smell associated with the ashfall. The report from Saipan was that 1-2 mm of ash had fallen on the island.

EMO personnel took an overflight on 27 May and reported that ash cloud heights reached 3 km, significantly lower than during the first few days of the eruption. The ash cloud was more opaque and laden with ash; the color was closer to that of 10-11 May than more recent plumes. The streaming ash cloud, still exhibiting variable size and length, drifted NW and NNW through 29 May.

Fieldwork on 21 May 2003. Hilton and Fischer arrived by ship at Anatahan at approximately 0630 on 21 May. The activity level was similar to that on their visit 2 days earlier. The ship sailed through the ashfall out to the SW side of the island, and continued along the W coast. The W coast was draped in ash; vegetation was completely covered giving the island a gray pallor. They landed at 0815 and spent ~4 hours ashore. A trench through the recent deposits on the beach area exposed a 25-cm section from the present eruptive phase with three main layers. The lowermost layer consisted of ~5 cm of fine-grained ash. Next was a layer ~15 cm thick comprised of accretionary lapilli with some fine ash. At the top was a 5-cm-thick layer that was a mixture of coarser grained ash and angular clasts of scoriaceous material. The abandoned village, where a team led by Patrick Shore (Washington University) was working on the seismic station installed on 6 May, was similarly covered in ash with many buildings having collapsed roofs. Two sections also revealed initial ash, covered by accretionary lapilli, then a mixture of ash and scoriaceous material. Pumice was floating in water-collection vessels by the buildings.

From the ship the scientists set up the COSPEC instrument and started a traverse through the plume around 1330. The telescope was oriented vertically and the ship made a N-to-S transect through the volcanic plume at a distance of ~1.5 km from shore. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) in the plume was recorded immediately. The transect took 50 minutes until no SO2 was being detected. In addition, they sailed through the ash fallout. During the traverse, the volcano erupted every 5 minutes with a deep resonating boom. The width of the volcanic plume was ~6 km and its direction was to the SW. From the COSPEC measurements and wind speed data provided by NOAA, the SO2 flux was estimated to be 3,000-4,500 metric tons/day. As the group sailed away from the island around 1430 there was a very large eruption with a significantly louder "boom" than had been heard previously, followed by a dark billowing ash-laden plume.

MODVOLC Thermal Alerts. Thermal satellite observations of the current eruption of Anatahan provided by the HIGP MODIS Thermal Alert Team (http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu) confirmed that activity was heavily concentrated in the E crater (figure 6). The most recent hot-spot (as of 1700 UTC on 28 May) was observed on 24 May. The large amounts of ash produced during the eruption will have obscured some thermal anomalies from the MODIS sensor. Plumes were clearly visible on MODIS imagery on 14, 21, 22, 25, 26, 28, and 30 May (figure 7). The persistent, long plume from this island volcano was frequently detected in imagery from a wide variety of satellite platforms.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Summary of MODIS thermal alerts detected at Anatahan, 11-28 May 2003. Each dot defines the geodetic location of the pixels flagged by the MODVOLC algorithm (Wright and others, 2002) as containing volcanic hot-spots. However, although the coordinate describes the center point of each pixel, the hot-spots could have been located anywhere in the square boxes (which portray the nominal 1-km pixel size of the MODIS instrument.) The shaded circles denote the absolute limits within which the volcanic hot-spots responsible for the anomalies must have been sited (based on a statistical analysis of long-term hot-spot location stability at other volcanoes). The hot-spot locations are referenced to WGS-84 ellipsoid. Map coordinates are in UTM zone 55 (north). Courtesy of the HIGP MODIS Thermal Alert Team (http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Ash plume from Anatahan (indicated by arrows) visible in MODIS imagery from the Aqua satellite, 0320 UTC on 30 May. Image processed by NOAA with data from NASA. Courtesy of NOAA/NASA.

SO2 data from TOMS. Simon Carn reported that the Earth Probe Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (EP TOMS) has observed SO2 and ash emissions from the ongoing eruption. No emissions were detected in the EP TOMS overpass at 0116 UTC on 10 May, several hours before the reported eruption onset. On May 11 a data gap over the Marianas prevented detection of proximal emissions, though a small ash cloud (no larger than ~120 km across) was detected ~500 km ESE of Anatahan at 0027 UTC. Washington VAAC estimates suggested a height of 14-15 km for this cloud. A weak SO2 cloud was also observed, displaced from the ash cloud and centered ~560 km SE of Anatahan. This cloud contained an estimated SO2 mass of ~10 kilotons (kt), but it is suspected to be only the distal end of a larger SO2 plume obscured by the data gap. Diffuse ash was also apparent at least 500 km W of the volcano at 0205 UTC, but no measurable SO2.

The EP TOMS orbit was better placed on 12 May at 0115 UTC. At this time an ash cloud extending ~560 km on its long axis was centered ~570 km W of Anatahan. An SO2 cloud, again displaced from the ash, extended ~1,100 km from a point ~510 km W of the volcano to a point ~700 km SE of it. This cloud contained ~110 kt of SO2. On 13 May a data gap covered the Marianas though ash was detected farther W, with no significant new SO2 evident. On 14 May a low-level SO2 plume appeared to be drifting W from Anatahan.

As of May 30 the Earth Probe TOMS instrument continued to detect significant SO2 emissions from Anatahan. No TOMS data were collected during 15-23 May due to a technical fault on the spacecraft. Thereafter, TOMS detected SO2 clouds in the region of Anatahan on 24 May (~19 kt SO2), 25 May (~23 kt minimum), 26 May (~35 kt), 28 May (~70 kt), and 30 May (~50-100 kt). Data gaps covered the Marianas on other days. Given the persistent ash plume from the volcano reported by the Washington VAAC, these SO2 clouds are presumed to be the product of continuous emissions and not discrete explosive events.

Observations from 20 May-8 June 2001. Anatahan was visited during 20 May-8 June 2001 as part of fieldwork in the Northern Marianas (Trusdell and others, 2001), including helicopter observations on 4 June. At that time line lengths on the Anatahan EDM network were measured and showed no significant changes. Most line lengths exhibited small contractions when compared to the data from the 1994 survey. Deformation appeared to be slowing down with no significant changes. Temperatures were measured for several boiling pots and springs on the floor of the E crater. The temperature of the ponds as well as fumaroles ranged from a minimum of 96.7°C to a maximum of 100.3°C.

References. Moore, R.B., Koyanagi, R.Y., Sako, M.K., Trusdell, F.A., Kojima, G., Ellorda, R.L., and Zane, S., 1994, Volcanologic investigations in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, September-October 1990: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 91-320, 31 p.

Sako, M.K., Trusdell, F.A., Koyanagi, R.Y., Kojima, G., and Moore, R.B., 1995, Volcanic investigations in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, April to May 1994: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 94-705, 57 p.

Trusdell, F.A., Sako, M.K., Moore, R.B., Koyanagi, R.Y., and Schilling, S., 2001, Preliminary studies of seismicity, ground deformation, and geology, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, May 20 to June 8, 2001: U.S. Geological Survey, prepared for the Office of the Governor, the Emergency Management Office, and the Office of the Mayor of the Northern Islands, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

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 elongate, 9-km-long island of Anatahan in the central Mariana Islands consists of a large stratovolcano with a 2.3 x 5 km compound summit caldera. The larger western portion of the caldera is 2.3 x 3 km wide, and its western rim forms the island's high point. Ponded lava flows overlain by pyroclastic deposits fill the floor of the western caldera, whose SW side is cut by a fresh-looking smaller crater. The 2-km-wide eastern portion of the caldera contained a steep-walled inner crater whose floor prior to the 2003 eruption was only 68 m above sea level. A submarine cone, named NE Anatahan, rises to within 460 m of the sea surface on the NE flank, and numerous other submarine vents are found on the NE-to-SE flanks. Sparseness of vegetation on the most recent lava flows had indicated that they were of Holocene age, but the first historical eruption did not occur until May 2003, when a large explosive eruption took place forming a new crater inside the eastern caldera.

Information Contacts: Juan Takai Camacho and Ramon Chong, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Emergency Management Office, P.O. Box 10007, Saipan, MP 96950 (URL: http://www.cnmihsem.gov.mp/); Frank Trusdell, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, PO Box 51, Hawaii National Park, HI, 96718-0051 (URL: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/nmi/activity/); Doug Wiens and Patrick Shore, Washington University, St. Louis, McDonnell Hall 403 Box 1169, St. Louis, MO 63130; Allan Sauter and David Hilton, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla CA, 92093-0225; Washington 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.ssd.noaa.gov/); Simon A. Carn, TOMS Volcanic Emissions Group, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (NASA/UMBC), University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Rob Wright, Luke Flynn, Harold Garbeil, Andy Harris, Matt Patrick, Eric Pilger, and Scott Rowland, Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); George Stephens, Operational Significant Event Imagery (OSEI) team, World Weather Bldg., 5200 Auth Rd Rm 510 (E/SP 22), NOAA/NESDIS, Camp Springs, MD 20748USA.


Cerro Blanco (Argentina) — May 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Cerro Blanco

Argentina

26.789°S, 67.765°W; summit elev. 4670 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Satellite surveys during May 1996-October 2000 indicate subsidence

A satellite-based interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) survey of the remote central Andes volcanic arc (Pritchard and Simons, 2002) revealed deformation in the Robledo caldera between May 1992 and October 2000 (figure 1). Subsidence was detected, with a maximum deformation rate in the radar line-of-sight of 2-2.5 cm/year. The subsidence rate seemed to be decreasing with time. The inferred source depth was 4.5-6 km below sea level. Additional details about the study and analysis are available in Pritchard and Simons (2002).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Shaded relief topographic map of the central Andes with insets showing areas of deformation detected by Pritchard and Simons (2002). Interferograms (draped over shaded relief) indicate active deformation; each color cycle corresponds to 5 cm of deformation in the radar line-of-sight (LOS). The LOS direction from ground to spacecraft (black arrow) is inclined 23° from the vertical. Black squares indicate radar frames, and black triangles show potential volcanic edifices. Courtesy of Matthew Pritchard.

Reference. Pritchard, M., and Simons, M., 2002, A satellite geodetic survey of large-scale deformation of volcanic centres in the Central Andes: Nature, v. 418, p. 167-170.

Geologic Background. The Cerro Blanco volcanic complex contains the 6-km-wide Cerro Blanco caldera (also known as the Robledo caldera) in NW Argentina and is located 80 km SW of the much larger and better known Cerro Galán caldera. Cerro Blanco was the site of the largest known Holocene eruption in the Central Andes about 4200 years BP (Fernandez-Turiel et al., 2013). The rhyolitic eruption produced plinian ashfall deposits of about 110 km3 and widespread ignimbrite deposits. The Holocene Cerro Blanco del Robledo lava dome is located on the southern rim of the caldera and is surrounded by extensive rhyolitic pumice-fall deposits. Satellite geodetic surveys in the central Andes (Pritchard and Simons, 2002) showed subsidence of the caldera in the 1990s.

Information Contacts: Matthew Pritchard and Mark Simons, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA (URL: http://www.gps.caltech.edu/).


Chikurachki (Russia) — May 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Chikurachki

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption continued through May; long plumes and some ashfall

The eruption that began on 18 April 2003 (BGVN 28:04) continued throughout May and into early June. According to observers, ash fell on the town of Severo-Kurilsk (~60 km from the volcano) on 1 May. Observers from Vasiliev Cape noted weak fumarolic activity on 3 May and satellite data from the USA and Russia that day revealed a gas-and-steam plume more than 150 km long and moving towards the ESE and S. Satellite data continued to show gas-and-steam plumes, possibly containing ash, throughout the remainder of May (table 1). Satellite imaging was obscured by clouds on other days. On 13 May, ash deposits were reported on the ENE and SSE flanks of the volcano and near the summit. At 1800 on 15 May, observers on Paramushir Island reported a strong ashfall at Podgorny settlement.

Table 1. Satellite data reports of gas-and-steam and ash plumes emanating from Chikurachki, May 2003. Courtesy of KVERT.

Date Time (UTC) Estimated Plume Length (km) Direction
05 May 2003 -- 50 NW
07/08 May 2003 -- 150 E-SE
12 May 2003 0019 20 SE
12 May 2003 0449 156 E
13 May 2003 0043 100 E
13 May 2003 0102 70 SE
13 May 2003 0200 50 E
13 May 2003 0423 178 E-SE
13 May 2003 0639 400 E-SE
17 May 2003 -- 50 SW
18 May 2003 -- 50 NE
21 May 2003 -- 10 NW
27 May 2003 0600 100 NE
27 May 2003 2200 100 NE
29 May 2003 AM 15-20 NE

During the period 1930 to 2310 on 27 May, Leonid Kotenko on Paramushir Island reported that ash explosions attaining heights of 500 m above the crater were observed from Shelekhov Bay. The ash plume at 0900 on 28 May (2200 UTC, 27 May), rose 4,000 m above the crater. On 29 May an ash plume rose ~1,200 m above the crater and ash fell on the town of Severo-Kurilsk.

Additional information about the 2002 eruption. Previous KVERT reports indicated that the eruption that began on 25 January 2002 had continued through 16 March (BGVN 27:04), but no further reports were made about that activity. However, later information was received that showed the eruption continuing through at least 22 April. According to satellite data from AVO for 18 March, two consecutive GMS infrared images (1732 and 1832 UTC) showed a narrow, ~150-km-long cloud, which extended SE from Paramushir Island. There was no indication of ash based on the split-window technique. On the afternoon of 20 March, a gas-and-steam plume with some ash extended 200 km SE. Paramushir Island was obscured by clouds during the next 2 weeks. On 6 May L. Kotenko (A KVERT contact on the island) reported that hunters had observed fresh ash deposits on the SW flank on 22 April and that ashfall was also noted in Severo-Kurilsk.

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

Information Contacts: Olga Girina, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), a cooperative program of the Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia, the Kamchatka Experimental and Methodical Seismological Department (KEMSD), GS RAS (Russia), and the Alaska Volcano Observatory (USA); 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.


False Reports (Unknown) — May 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

False Reports

Unknown

Unknown, Unknown; summit elev. m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Mongolia: 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

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. False or otherwise incorrect reports of volcanic activity.

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.


Piton de la Fournaise (France) — May 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)


Eruption on 30 May generates lava flows within Dolomieu crater

Eruptions are common at Piton de la Fournaise, with the most recent activity occurring in January 2002 (BGVN 26:12) and November-December 2002 (BGVN 27:11). At the end of the November 2002 eruption, seimicity beneath Dolomieu crater increased from 28 November to 23 December. On 22 December there were 5,700 seismic events recorded. At 1002 on 23 December a magnitude 3 event occurred and seismicity stopped. The next day a new crater was observed in the SW part of the larger Dolomieu crater.

Since March 2003, the extensometer network and GPS measurements had indicated inflation of Piton de la Fournaise. A new eruption began on 30 May within Dolomieu crater. The eruption proceeded in multiple phases through at least 24 June; activity through 6 June is reported below.

Seismicity increased slightly on 28 May. At 1137 on the morning of 30 May a seismic crisis began that lasted 17 minutes with a total of 34 events. Tremor appeared at 1155 beneath Dolomieu crater, and an eruption started within the pit crater formed on 23 December 2002. Lava fountaining was observed until 1400, after which most surface activity stopped. A lava flow ~400 m long and 250 m wide extended into the W part of Dolomieu. The total volume of lava emitted during the 30 May activity was estimated to be 0.2-0.3 x 106 m3. Seismicity beneath the crater continued, with intermittent weak tremor being registered through 3 June. No deflation was detected, and there was strong degassing in the collapse area.

On 4 June at 1155 the eruption started again from the same site, enlarging the lava flow in the W part of Dolomieu crater. Lava fountains reached 15 m in height. Steady lava emission continued into 6 June (figures 69 and 70). Volcanic tremor remained stable until the morning of 6 June, when a decreasing tendency was noted. After a short phreatic eruption, the second phase of this eruption stopped on the evening of 6 June. The lava-flow field had grown to ~600 x 400 m in size by that time (figure 71).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Photograph of the SW part of Dolomieu crater at Piton de la Fournaise at 0812 on 6 June 2003 showing the active vent and part of the recent lava-flow field. View is towards the W. Courtesy of OVPF.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. Photograph of the W part of Dolomieu crater at Piton de la Fournaise at 0850 on 6 June 2003 showing the active vent and most of the recent lava-flow field. View is towards the SW. Courtesy of OVPF.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Topographic map of Dolomieu crater at Piton de la Fournaise showing the extent of the lava-flow field on 30 May and 6 June 2003. Elevations are in meters, and the Gauss-Laborde Piton des Neiges system is used for the map coordinates. Courtesy of OVPF.

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 (OVPF), Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 14 RN3, le 27Km, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France.


Karangetang (Indonesia) — May 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash explosions from January through May 2003

During 6 January-4 May 2003 explosions produced ash that fell on various parts of the crater. The S (main) crater emitted "white-gray ash" that reached 150-400 m high. On some nights, a red glow was visible reaching 25-50 m over the crater. The N crater emitted a "white-thin ash" plume that reached 50-300 m high. Fluctuating seismicity was dominated by multiphase earthquakes and emissions (table 7). The Alert Level remained at level 3 (on a scale of 1 to 4) through at least 4 May.

Table 7. Seismicity at Karangetang during 6 January-4 May 2003. Courtesy VSI.

Date Deep volcanic (A-type) Shallow volcanic (B-type) Explosion Multiphase Emission Tectonic Avalanche
06 Jan-12 Jan 2003 11 16 2 178 178 28 --
13 Jan-19 Jan 2003 9 16 2 133 42 40 --
20 Jan-26 Jan 2003 12 37 -- 189 52 27 --
27 Jan-02 Feb 2003 6 28 1 228 118 22 --
03 Feb-09 Feb 2003 17 84 1 162 306 23 --
10 Feb-16 Feb 2003 9 30 1 85 102 16 --
17 Feb-23 Feb 2003 9 46 -- 97 8 32 --
24 Feb-02 Mar 2003 48 68 -- 78 17 34 --
03 Mar-09 Mar 2003 19 29 1 48 9 24 398
10 Mar-16 Mar 2003 14 11 -- 27 7 30 125
17 Mar-23 Mar 2003 24 145 -- 82 4 23 4
24 Mar-30 Mar 2003 21 68 -- 35 1 33 2
31 Mar-06 Apr 2003 8 83 -- 30 -- 36 --
07 Apr-13 Apr 2003 18 143 -- 116 6 50 --
14 Apr-20 Apr 2003 12 257 32 226 26 32 7
21 Apr-27 Apr 2003 13 373 2 93 6 17 309
28 Apr-04 May 2003 32 255 -- 243 1 21 29

On 11 and 12 January, ash explosions at the S crater were accompanied by glowing material that reached 200 m high and scattered 500 m toward the E and W parts of the crater. An ash column rose up to 500 m above the crater. Two explosions at the S crater on 14 January produced an ash column up to 300 m high; glowing material rose up to 50 m and fell around the crater. Some of the material entered the Beha River, and ash fell into the sea E of the island. Explosions on 29 January and 6 February caused ashfall SW (Beong village) and SSW (Akesembeka village, Tarurane, Tatahadeng, Bebali, and Salili), respectively. A booming noise was heard frequently throughout the report period, and during early February was sometimes accompanied by thick gray emissions up to 350 m above the crater.

Beginning in early March, the booming noise was accompanied by glowing lava avalanches that traveled from the summit towards the Kahetang (1,250 m), Batuawang (750 m), Batang (1,000 m), and Beha (750 m) rivers. On 6 March an explosion from the S crater ejected ash 750 m high that fell in the E part of the crater. The noises and avalanches decreased during mid-to-late March.

An explosion on 15 April was followed by lava avalanches toward the W and S parts of the crater. A loud blasting sound was heard, and a dark-gray ash column reached 1,500 m. Ash fell to the E around Dame and Karalung villages, and over the sea. Lava avalanches from the S crater traveled 1,000 m toward the Batang and Batu rivers. On 20 April another explosion produced a 1,500-m-high ash column, and ash fell E over the sea. This explosion was followed by lava avalanches and a pyroclastic flow toward the Batang river that reached as far as 2,500 m. Lava avalanches extended 1,500 m down the S and W slopes. Blasting noises occurred for about 3 minutes.

On 22 April an explosion ejected ash and glowing material. The ash column reached 1,750 m and ash fell on the W slope, including Lehi, Mini, Kinali, and Hiung villages, while glowing material rose up to 750 m. This explosion was followed by lava avalanches towards the W and S that were accompanied by a pyroclastic flow toward the Batang river that extended 2,250 m. On 24 April, an explosion ejected ash to 750 m and ash fell eastward into the sea. Glowing material from the explosion traveled toward the W slope. During late April, the booming noises were once again accompanied by continuous glowing avalanches. These decreased during the first days of May.

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

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


Karymsky (Russia) — May 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Karymsky

Russia

54.049°N, 159.443°E; summit elev. 1513 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent ash plumes generated from October 2002 through May 2003

According to the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), the alert level Color Code remained at Yellow (volcano is restless; eruption may occur) from October 2002 to 27 February 2003, when it was dropped to Green (volcano is dormant; normal seismicity and fumarolic activity). The level was raised again to Yellow in March, lowered to Green on 29 March, and raised to Yellow on 18 April, where it remained through May. Seismicity was above background levels until 20 February, after which it fluctuated between at and above background levels until 16 May, when seismicity remained above background levels. All times are local (= UTC + 11 hours, + 12 hours after 26 October).

Activity during October 2002. From 4 to 31 October, ~200-250 local shallow seismic events occurred per day. The character of the seismicity indicated ash-and-gas explosions to heights of 1,000 m above the volcano (~2,500 m altitude) and gas blow-outs. A faint 10-km-long plume extending SSE was visible in an AVHRR satellite image; no ash was detected. Seismicity on 25-26 October indicated possible vigorous gas emissions lasting 5-10 minutes, with the probability of a lava flow. At 1350 on 31 October, pilots reported that an ash plume rose 4 km and extended SE. According to seismic data from the Kamchatka Experimental and Methodical Seismological Department (KEMSD), the character of seismicity after 1400 on 31 October indicated a moving lava flow. At 1314 on 31 October, the MODIS satellite image showed a large bright thermal anomaly at the volcano and a plume ~60 km long that extended WSW. At 1100 on 1 November, pilots reported that an ash plume rose 4 km and extended SE.

Activity during November 2002. Local shallow seismic events totaled ~200-250 each day. The character of the seismicity indicated ash-and-gas explosions to heights of 1,000-2,000 m above the volcano and vigorous gas emissions lasting 5-10 minutes. At 1605 on 1 November, a 50-km-long plume was observed extending E in satellite imagery; no ash was detected. According to data from KEMSD, at 2357 on 20 November, a seismic event lasting 20 minutes indicated that ash explosions to heights of 1,000 m above the crater and hot avalanches possibly occurred. On 27 November, a >100-km gas-and-steam plume extending ESE from the crater of the volcano was observed in MODIS satellite imagery. Helicopter observations by KVERT scientists at 1151 on 1 December identified an ash plume to ~500 m above the crater extending SE.

Activity during December 2002. Local shallow seismic events totaled ~190-230 each day. The character of seismicity indicated that ash-gas explosions to heights of 1,000 m above the volcano (~2,500 m altitude) and vigorous gas emissions lasting 5-10 minutes were possibly occurring. The top of the volcano and its SE flank were covered with recent ashfall and debris from continuing Vulcanian / Strombolian eruptions. The old crater was covered by the new cinder-ash cone. On 12 December, two sectors of ash falls extending S and SE from the volcano were noted in a MODIS satellite image.

Activity during January 2003. Local shallow seismic events totaled ~110-200 each day. The character of seismicity indicated that ash-gas explosions to heights of 1,000 m above the volcano (~2,500 m or 8,200 ft. ASL) and vigorous gas emissions lasting 5-10 minutes were possibly occurring. From 1559 until 1609 on 8 January, a series of shallow events that possibly indicated hot avalanches were registered. On 9 January, a ~50-km plume extending ESE from the volcano was noted.

Activity during February 2003. The alert level Color Code remained at Yellow until 27 February, when it was lowered to Green (volcano is dormant; normal seismicity and fumarolic activity). According to satellite data from Russia, a weak thermal anomaly was noted on 3 February. Seismic activity was at background levels on 20-23 February.

Activity during March 2003. The alert level Color Code was raised to Yellow as the activity of the volcano slightly increased. Seismic activity was at background levels on 13-18 March and slightly above background levels on 19 March when seismic data indicated possible hot avalanches. Weak volcanic earthquakes were also registered on this day. According to MODIS-satellite data from Russia and the USA, ash deposits extending more than 30 km SW from the volcano on 17-20 March and gas-steam plumes drifting more than 15 km NW and SW on 18 March and on 20 March, respectively, were noted. Seismic activity dropped to background levels for the week of 20 March. According to satellite data from Russia, a weak thermal anomaly was observed on 25 March, and a gas-and-steam plume extending 10 km ESE was noted on 28 March. According to helicopter observations on 31 March by the Institute of Volcanology (IV), Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, the large old active crater of the volcano and its black ESE flank were noted, but the new cinder-ash cone was not seen. This cone was probably destroyed and its products formed ash-deposits extending >35 km ESE, which were noted on the 17-18 March MODIS-satellite images.

Activity during April 2003. The alert level Color Code was dropped to Green during the week of 29 March-4 April, when seismic activity was at background levels. Seismicity rose above background levels during the week of 18-24 April, when ~40-100 volcanic earthquakes per day were recorded, and the hazard status was raised to Yellow. The character of the seismicity indicated ash-and-gas explosions up to 1,000 m above the crater. According to satellite data from Russia, ash deposits up to 35 km or longer extended in different directions on 19-22 April. According to observers from IV, on 18-24 April occasional ash-gas explosions up to 2,500 m above the crater occurred each day, and on 21 April, an ash-gas plume rose 1,500 m. Seismic activity was above background levels on 24-27 April and at background levels on 27-30 April. During 24-26 April 50-100 volcanic earthquakes per day were registered. The character of the seismicity indicated that three eruption events (possibly ash-and-gas explosions and rock avalanches) occurred on 24 April. According to satellite data from Russia, wide ash deposits longer than 35 km and three narrow ash deposits less than 5 km long extending SE and W and SW from the volcano, respectively, were noted on 25 April and 28-29 April. According to observers from IV FED RAS, on 24 April, an ash-gas plume rose 2,500 m above the crater.

Activity during May 2003. The alert level Color Code remained at Yellow for the month, with intermittent explosive eruptions continuing. Occasional explosions up to 1,500 m above the volcano, producing ash, were considered to be possible, as well as ashfall within a few tens of kilometers. Seismic activity was at background levels during 3-16 May. According to satellite data from Russia, the summit of the volcano was black on 4 May. For the week of 10-16 May, seismic data indicated that 10 ash-and-gas explosions reached heights up to 1,000 m above the crater, and hot avalanches possibly occurred. According to satellite data from the USA and Russia, a weak 1-pixel thermal anomaly on 14 May, and strips of ash deposits extending >10 km to the S, SSE and SE on 14-15 May were noted. Seismicity was above background levels on 16-30 May.

During 18-21 May, 150-320 local shallow events occurred per day. The character of the seismicity indicated ash-and-gas explosions to heights of 1,000 m above the volcano, gas blow-outs and hot avalanches. According to satellite data from the USA and Russia, a 2-4-pixel thermal anomaly was observed during 18-22 May. Ash deposits on snow E and SE of the volcano were noted on 18 May. Gas-steam plumes extending up to 45 km NE and N of the volcano on 19 and 21 May were noted. For the week of 24-30 May, 280-330 local shallow seismic events occurred per day. The character of the seismicity indicated ash-and-gas explosions to heights of 1,000 m and gas blow-outs. A thermal anomaly continued to be observed. On 25-26 May, gas-and-steam plumes extending 15-115 km SSE from the volcano were noted. Ash deposits on the snow in a different direction from the volcano were noted on 26-27 May.

Geologic Background. Karymsky, the most active volcano of Kamchatka's eastern volcanic zone, is a symmetrical stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera that formed during the early Holocene. The caldera cuts the south side of the Pleistocene Dvor volcano and is located outside the north margin of the large mid-Pleistocene Polovinka caldera, which contains the smaller Akademia Nauk and Odnoboky calderas. Most seismicity preceding Karymsky eruptions originated beneath Akademia Nauk caldera, located immediately south. The caldera enclosing Karymsky formed about 7600-7700 radiocarbon years ago; construction of the stratovolcano began about 2000 years later. The latest eruptive period began about 500 years ago, following a 2300-year quiescence. Much of the cone is mantled by lava flows less than 200 years old. Historical eruptions have been vulcanian or vulcanian-strombolian with moderate explosive activity and occasional lava flows from the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Olga Girina, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), a cooperative program of the Institute of Volcanic Geology and Geochemistry, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia, the Kamchatka Experimental and Methodical Seismological Department (KEMSD), GS RAS (Russia), and the Alaska Volcano Observatory (USA); 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.


Kilauea (United States) — May 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued lava flows during December 2002-June 2003 enter the ocean

From December 2002 through June 2003, lava from Kilauea continued to flow down the S flanks and into the ocean at several points. Seismicity generally continued at normal (background) levels. The Mother's Day flow, which began erupting 12 May 2002, continued through June 2003 (figure 158).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 158. Map of lava flows erupted during 1983 through 16 May 2003 from Pu`u `O`o and Kupaianaha. The most recently active flows are on the SW side of the flow-field. Courtesy of HVO.

Lava flows. During December 2002, lava continued to flow into the sea at entry points from two lava deltas. Moderate-to-large littoral explosions tossed spatter onto the front of the West Highcastle delta. Surface lava flows were visible on the coastal flat. On 15 December, shortly after 0700, the Wilipe'a lava delta partially collapsed, losing about 1/3 of its area. The tip of the delta retreated shoreward about 260 m and most of the collapse was in the central part of the delta. Around 15 and 16 December a substantial collapse occurred at the West Highcastle delta. On 28 December moderate collapses occurred at the Wilipe'a lava delta, apparently in the area of the 15 December collapse. Surface lava flows were visible on the coastal flat and upslope on Pulama pali.

During January and February 2003, lava continued to flow into the sea at the West Highcastle entry. Surface lava flows were visible on the coastal flat and upslope of it on Paliuli. Most of the surface lava flows on the coastal flat crusted over, so that less incandescence was visible than previously. Relatively large surface lava flows were visible starting on 21 January around 2035. Around 28 January a large lava breakout occurred from the West Highcastle lava tube about 170 m inland from the old sea cliff. As of 2 February the area of the new breakout was about 6.15 hectares (6.15 x 104 m2), and surface flows and lava in lava tubes traveled down the Pulama pali fault scarp. The Chain of Craters road was closed due to a wildfire that was started by lava flows. Surface lava flows continued to travel through vegetation, igniting fires and causing methane explosions. Rangers' office huts, restrooms, and signs were moved out of the path of the lava flow, which reached the Chain of Craters Road on 19 February at 1005. Beginning 15 February and going into March, lava flowed into the sea at the Kohala entry. Fresh lava oozed out of the cooling Kohala lava flow, both within the body of the flow and along its E margin.

During 26 February to 3 March lava continued to enter the sea at the West Highcastle entry, but the lava-flow rate was reduced to a small trickle at the Kohala entry. Small surface flows occurred along the W edge of the Kohala lava flow and surface lava flows were visible above the Pulama pali fault scarp. Tongues of lava were visible traveling down Pulama pali, part of the activity that began on 12 May 2002 (named the Mother's Day flow).

Through April 2003, Kilauea continued to erupt, sending lava down its SE flank either traveling over the land surface or through tubes. Lava entered the sea at the West Highcastle entry; activity there was sometimes weak, though one or more glowing areas were typically seen. On 16 April a large tract of land not over-run by surrounding lava (a kipuka or ahu in the local parlance) remained within the Kohola lava flow, still ~30 cm above the top of inflated lavas that surround it. On the eastern margin of the swath of lava flows going down the steep slopes of Pulama pali, one partly crusted-over lava stream was highly visible. The crater of Pu`u `O`o was dark and obscured by fumes, but eruptive activity at Pu`u `O`o continued unabated. The flows on Pulama pali were frequently visible at night as streams of incandescence from the top of the pali down to the coastal flats. Late in April, the E arm of the Mother's Day flow split in two with the W segment being more active. A new ocean entry near Lae'apuki only lasted a day before the flow stagnated. Scattered surface breakouts were seen throughout the inflating Kohola flow, especially on its W side. As of 24 April, lava entered the ocean at two points along the West Highcastle delta.

In early May, lava flows continued to descend the S flanks and pour into the sea. On 12 May lava began to enter the sea again at the West Highcastle lava delta. Surface lava flows were visible on the coastal flat and the Pulama Pali fault scarp. During June, lava continued to flow down Kilauea's SE flank, with surface lava flows occasionally visible on the coastal flat and upslope at Pulama pali, and Paliuli. Small amounts of lava continued to flow into the sea at Highcastle beach.

Geophysical activity. During December 2002 and January 2003, seismicity was generally at normal levels. The swarm of long-period earthquakes and tremor beneath Kilauea's caldera, occasionally seismically active since June 2002, continued to show some short bursts of tremor interspersed with small earthquakes. Small inflation and deflation events occurred at Pu`u `O`o and Uwekahuna tilt meters. The Pu`u `O`o tiltmeter showed deflation for about one week from 10 to 17 December. During 27-28 December, slight deflation occurred at the Uwekahuna and Pu`u `O`o tiltmeters.

Kilauea's summit began to deflate on 20 January 2003 at 1710, and Pu`u `O`o began to deflate a few tens of minutes later. Both areas deflated well into the next day. On the 21st at 1610 rapid, brief inflation began at the summit. The inflation and preceding deflation were centered near the NE corner of Halemaumau Crater, the normal center of small deformation events. Seismicity increased with the deformation events, returning to normal levels afterwards. By 22 January seismicity had returned to its normal level, with the long-lasting swarm of long-period earthquakes and tremor at Kilauea's summit continuing at weak-to-moderate levels.

During February and March, seismicity was at background levels. The long-lasting swarm of long-period earthquakes and tremor at Kilauea's summit continued at low-to-moderate levels. On 9 and 10 February, short periods of deflation and inflation occurred at the Uwekahuna and Pu`u `O`o tiltmeters. Moderate tremor was recorded by the nearest seismometer to Pu`u `O`o until the seismometer broke on 5 March. Moderate deflation occurred on 8 March, first at the Uwekahuna tiltmeter and then at the Pu`u `O`o tiltmeter. According to a news report, a member of a tour group suffered burns on 10 March when he fell on hot lava while hiking near Chain of Craters road.

For about a week in early April, volcanic tremor at Pu`u `O`o was relatively high and small deformation changes occurred, mostly at Pu`u `O`o. During 16-17 April, the Uwekahuna tiltmeter at Kilauea's summit recorded three small inflations, the last apparently right at its crest. Pu`u `O`o has generally followed suit, though in this case showing only two of the inflations very well. These tilts are not major but continue to illustrate the clear connection between Kilauea's summit, where most tilt events start, and Pu`u `O`o, 20 km away, where the tilt events follow a few minutes later. Seismicity during the week was at low to normal levels. Instruments continued to register the summit swarm of long-period earthquakes and tremor, which began last June. Volcanic tremor at Pu`u `O`o remained elevated, as has been the norm for more than a week.

During 30 April to 6 May, distances measured across Kilauea caldera between two points ~10 km apart, remained stable as they have since early 2003. There had been consistent progressive lengthening of this distance during late 2001 through mid-2002, and some minor fluctuations after that. In general, tilt during late April through 2 May changed little at Uwekahuna station (W side of the caldera), and showed a progressive decline at Pu`u `O`o station (E of the caldera). In the first few days of May slight inflationary tilt appeared at both stations.

Seismicity at Kilauea's summit was at moderate-to-high levels from about 1 June through 14 June, with many small, low-frequency earthquakes occurring at shallow depths beneath the summit caldera. The tiny earthquakes occurred at the notably high rate of 2-4 per minute. Little or no volcanic tremor accompanied the swarm, however. Volcanic tremor at Pu`u `O`o remained moderate to high, as is the norm. A quasi-cyclic inflation and deflation occurred at Kilauea's summit and at Pu`u `O`o during the week of 6-13 June, but did not culminate in significant overall tilt.

Geologic Background. Kilauea, which overlaps the E flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano, has been Hawaii's most active volcano during historical time. Eruptions are prominent in Polynesian legends; written documentation extending back to only 1820 records frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions that were interspersed with periods of long-term lava lake activity that lasted until 1924 at Halemaumau crater, within the summit caldera. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1500 years ago and during the 18th century; eruptions have also originated from the lengthy East and SW rift zones, which extend to the sea on both sides of the volcano. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1100 years old; 70% of the volcano's surface is younger than 600 years. A long-term eruption from the East rift zone that began in 1983 has produced lava flows covering more than 100 km2, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.

Information Contacts: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), U.S. Geological Survey, PO Box 51, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718, USA (URL: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/).


Lokon-Empung (Indonesia) — May 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Lokon-Empung

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increased explosive activity during January-April 2003; local ashfall

During 6 January-4 May 2003, higher-than-normal activity was dominated by deep and shallow volcanic earthquakes (table 5), along with gas-and-ash emissions. Several explosions occurred during a period of increased activity in late January-early April. Throughout the report period, a "white-thick ash" emission rose 25-500 m above Tompaluan crater. The Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI) issued a special report during 1-13 February 2003 that described activity in 2002 and early 2003 leading up to the recent increase in activity (table 6).

Table 5. Seismicity at Lokon during 6 January-4 May 2003. Courtesy VSI.

Date Deep volcanic (A-type) Shallow volcanic (B-type) Emission Tectonic Explosion
06 Jan-12 Jan 2003 1 6 10 13 --
13 Jan-19 Jan 2003 1 3 -- 20 --
20 Jan-26 Jan 2003 8 6 4 23 --
27 Jan-02 Feb 2003 6 4 31 11 --
03 Feb-09 Feb 2003 239 763 4 9 --
10 Feb-16 Feb 2003 32 23 7 14 4
17 Feb-23 Feb 2003 239 763 4 9 1
24 Feb-02 Mar 2003 97 353 52 19 12
03 Mar-09 Mar 2003 -- 3 185 6 2
10 Mar-16 Mar 2003 -- -- 90 14 --
17 Mar-23 Mar 2003 2 4 38 17 --
24 Mar-30 Mar 2003 49 335 33 7 1
31 Mar-06 Apr 2003 7 130 5 18 1
07 Apr-13 Apr 2003 4 15 86 17 --
14 Apr-20 Apr 2003 44 285 -- 17 --
21 Apr-27 Apr 2003 46 98 -- 14 --
28 Apr-04 May 2003 25 71 -- 24 --

Table 6. Summary of a special report of activity at Lokon during 2002-2003. Courtesy VSI.

Date Event
09 Feb 2002 An explosion ejected ash to ~ 1,000 m above the crater. Ash fell on Kakaskasen, Telete, and Rurukan villages in the Tondano District in thicknesses of 0.5-2 cm.
10 Apr 2002 At 2302 volcanic earthquakes began to increase, reaching a total of 184 events. An explosion at the same time ejected ash to ~ 1,000 m and glowing material to 250 m above the crater. Ash fell on some villages in thicknesses of 1-3 mm.
12 Apr 2002 At 1816 an explosion ejected ash to 800 m and glowing material to 150 m. Ash drifted S and fell around Kayawu village.
23 Dec 2002 At 0532 an explosion at Tompaluan crater produced an 800-m-high ash column. Ash drifted S and fell around the edifice. Before the explosion, an increase in seismicity (130 volcanic earthquakes in less than 12 hours) was noted.
03 Feb 2003 Volcanic earthquakes began to increase, with a total of 255 events occurring through 7 February.
08 Feb 2003 Tremor was followed by an explosion at 0443 that ejected ash to 1,400 m above the crater. The ash drifted S and was accompanied by glowing material. Ash fell around Taratara, Waloan, and Kayawu villages, at thicknesses of 0.5-1 cm.
10 Feb 2003 After two days repose, at 2219 an explosion occurred. The height of the ash column could not be observed due to heavy rain near the summit. The explosion was preceded by a booming sound. Based on seismograph recordings, the explosion was of medium-high intensity. Explosion earthquakes stopped at 2335. A phreatic eruption at 1406 lasted for 8 minutes.
12 Feb 2003 A significant increase in volcanic earthquakes, mainly during 0100-1000. An explosion at 1408 was followed by a larger explosion at 1102 (based on seismic data; visual observation obscured by thick fog). At 1133 the explosion diminished. At 1225 continuous tremor began with amplitudes of 13-55 mm that continued until 0046 on 13 February.

On 25 January, there was a felt shock (I on the MMI scale). During late January, ash emissions from the crater thickened and emission earthquakes increased. On 3 February the number of deep volcanic earthquakes began to increase at 0600; by 1000, 35 had occurred.

Ash emissions continued to thicken and deep and shallow volcanic earthquakes increased during early February. Emission earthquakes also increased, indicating some low ash explosions. On 8 February at 0443 an explosion ejected ash and glowing material. A booming sound was heard for 30 seconds. A dense ash cloud reached 1,400 m above the crater. Ash fell over the S part of the crater and around Kayau, Tara-tara I and II, and Woloan II and III villages. Ashfall reached thicknesses of 0.5-1 mm. The Alert Level was increased from 2 to 3 (on a scale of 1-4).

Explosions occurred on 10 February at 1405 and 2219. The maximum amplitude of the explosion earthquakes was 50 mm. The height of the ash column could not be observed due to heavy rain. Explosion activity continued on 12 and 16 February. VSI reported that the Alert Level was increased to 4 on 12 February at 0800. From that time through 1100 on 12 February, shallow volcanic earthquakes increased to a total of 164. An explosion followed at 1102, but the ash column could not be observed due to heavy rain. Tremor was recorded beginning on 13 February with amplitudes of 0.5-38 mm.

VSI reported that during 18-20 February, there were 16 explosions and a "white-gray ash" column rose 500 m. An explosion on 22 February was preceded by a swarm of 224 shallow volcanic earthquakes. On 21 February, 29 deep volcanic earthquakes occurred. Within two days, the number of volcanic earthquakes decreased gradually and ended with a large explosion on 23 February at 1034. The explosion was accompanied by thundering and a booming sound, and a "thick-gray ash" column reached 2,500 m above the crater. Ash drifted toward the SE. Tremor (with an amplitude of 1-20 mm) began soon after the explosion. Lokon was at Alert Level 3 during 17-23 February.

During 24 February-2 March, 12 explosions occurred and a "white-gray ash" column rose 300 m. An explosion on 2 March at 2129 was accompanied by glowing material that fell within the crater. A dark gray ash column rose 1,500 m above the crater and ash fell toward the Tondano area (~14.5 km from the crater) with a thickness of ~1 mm. Tremor (with amplitudes of 0.5-25 mm) began soon after the explosion. The explosion had been preceded by a swarm of 204 shallow volcanic earthquakes. A total of 77 deep volcanic earthquakes occurred during 26 February-1 March 2003. Following the 2 March explosion, there were 2 medium-intensity explosions that produced a ~600-m-high "white-gray ash" column.

Ash explosions and emission earthquakes ended on 14 March. On 24 March, the Alert Level was lowered to 2. Normal activity continued, comprised mainly of "white-thick ash" emissions from Tompaluan crater that reached up to 300 m. Tremor continued with amplitudes of 0.5-12 mm.

On 27 March at 0156, an explosion produced a 1,500-m-high ash column that was accompanied by glowing material. Booming and blasting sounds were heard. Ash drifted S and some fell around the edifice, while glowing material reached 400 m high before falling around the crater. Activity was low after the explosion. Tremor continued with amplitudes of 0.5-24 mm.

Following another explosion on 1 April, activity at Lokon decreased. A "white-thick ash" plume continued to rise 100-450 m above the crater. Seismicity was dominated by tremor with amplitudes of 0.5-25 mm. Shallow volcanic earthquakes increased on 15 April to 106 events. Through 20 April, the daily number of shallow volcanic earthquakes fluctuated between 23 and 56 events, but there were no explosions. Activity remained low, but above normal, through at least 4 May.

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

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


Mayon (Philippines) — May 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Mayon

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Three small ash-and-steam explosions during April-May 2003

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported small ash and steam explosions from the Mayon volcano on 5 April, 6 May, and 14 May 2003. The alert status for the area around the volcano remained at Alert Level 1 on a scale of 0-5 (indicating an increased likelihood for steam-driven or ash explosions to occur with little or no warning). PHIVOLCS reminded the public to continue avoiding entry into the 6-km-radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ), especially in the sectors where life-threatening volcanic flows might be channeled by gullies.

Activity during April 2003. Following a small ash explosion on 17 March 2003 (BGVN 28:03), a brief burst of ash and steam occurred at about 0600 on 5 April. The ash column rose to ~1.5 km above the summit crater before being blown SW. The explosion was recorded as a low-frequency volcanic earthquake, signifying a shallow source. Prior to the explosion, the volcano's seismic network had detected three small low-frequency volcanic earthquakes and three low-frequency short-duration harmonic tremors in the past 24 hours. Electronic tiltmeters indicated continuing slight inflation of the edifice. The increases in activity strongly indicated the likelihood of sudden ash explosions. Although no major eruption was expected immediately after the explosion of 5 April, there was growing evidence that magma was ascending the volcano's conduit.

Activity during May 2003. A small explosion from the crater at 0721 on 6 May produced a brownish ash-and-steam column that rose to ~450 m above the summit crater and was blown SW. The ash-and-steam column rose slowly with minimal noticeable force and was not detected by the volcano's seismic network, indicating a very shallow source. No significant seismicity occurred prior to the explosion. However, electronic tiltmeters on the N and S flanks continued to show inflation. Likewise, a precise leveling survey on 24 April 2003 showed a general inflation of the N flank. Alert Level 1 remained in effect.

At 1813 on 14 May, a small ash puff was emitted from the summit crater. This very brief explosion caused a small volume of ash and steam to rise less than 100 m above the crater and to later be blown NW. The Mayon Resthouse and Sta Misericordia seismic stations recorded the ash puff as a small-amplitude event. Prior to the ash explosion, one short-duration tremor was recorded. Volcanic gas outputs were notably moderate in volume, and the sulfur dioxide emission rates increased from the previous 1,824 metric tons per day (t/d) to ~3,088 t/d. The seismic characteristics associated with the ash and steam emission appeared similar to, though smaller than, previous explosions since 22 October 2002, indicating that this ash puff was very minor. This assessment was also consistent with the smaller volume of ash produced.

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

Information Contacts: Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), Department of Science and Technology, PHIVOLCS Building, C.P. Garcia Avenue, University of the Philippines Campus, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines (URL: http://www.phivolcs.dost. gov.ph/).


Monowai (New Zealand) — May 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 April-May detected by T-waves

Monowai is a frequently active submarine volcano, with a volcanic swarm recorded in November 2002 (BGVN 28:02) and another during April-May 2003. A major part of its volcanic activity is detected by hydro-acoustic waves (also called T-waves) generated during the eruptions, through the Réseau Sismique Polynésien (RSP), the French Polynesian seismic network (table 1).

Table 1. Seismic station codes and coordinates of instruments in the French Polynesian seismic network. Courtesy of RSP.

Station code Latitude Longitude
PAE 17.6619°S 149.5800°W
PPT 17.5682°S 149.5761°W
PPN 17.5308°S 149.4322°W
TIA 17.5578°S 149.3458°W
VO 17.7825°S 149.2517°W
MEH 17.8753°S 148.0661°W
PMOR 15.0017°S 147.8942°W
VAH 15.2364°S 147.6272°W
TBI 23.3489°S 149.4608°W
RKT 23.1197°S 134.9733°W

A strong volcanic swarm located on the Monowai seamount was recorded during April-May 2003 (figure 13). This volcanic swarm was very well located around Monowai, using the inversion of the arrival times of T-waves recorded by the network. As an example of the precision of location, with the contribution of some IRIS stations like RAR (Cook Island) to enlarge the array dimension, the ellipse of error can typically be 13 km on the major axis and 2 km on the minor axis, with a Root Mean Squared (RMS) of 0.25 s.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. T-wave amplitude versus time for the TVO seismic station, showing the three distinct and well separated episodes of the Monowai Seamount swarm. Courtesy of RSP.

This volcanic swarm was composed of three episodes lasting 4-5 days each. It started suddenly on 10 April 2003 with a rate of 100 events per day (about one signal every 10 minutes) and reached a maximum intensity later that day. The average rate over the first four days was 75 events per day (300 signals between 10 and 14 April), but the number of events detected is thought to be underestimated by a factor of at least 3 to 5 because only the main packets of recorded T-waves were picked. Volcanic activity started again during 19 April, with 120 events recorded in the next five days. The last episode occurred between 3 and 6 May, with ~100 volcanic signals recorded. The swarm ended as suddenly as it started.

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.


Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — May 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)


2002-2003 lava lake activity, thermal radiation, and CO2 and SO2 emissions

Nyiragongo, located along the East African Rift (figure 27), ceased generating flank lava flows following its January 2002 eruption, but remained active inside its summit crater where it hosts a restless lava lake. Observations made by staff from the Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO) in August 2002 included the opening of a new sinkhole, and measurements of CO2 and O2 gas concentrations at three fumarolic areas (locally termed mazukus). For context, handbook values for CO2 concentrations and their resulting symptoms in humans are discussed. The GVO has also brought to light reports from local residents of abnormally rapid ripening of picked bananas (and in some cases yams) prior to the January 2002 eruption.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Schematic map illustrating the trend of the East African rift. The rift's overall shape is curved, concave towards the E, and it contains a central segment composed of two branches passing on the E and W sides of Lake Victoria (V). The overlapping triangles labeled N at the N end of the rift's Western segment identify the approximate location of Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo volcanoes N of Lake Kivu. The latter volcano sits to the E and closer Lake Kivu. This figure is based on one in an online book by W.J. Klius and R.I. Tilling of the US Geological Survey. A smaller scale map showing some often mentioned local features appeared in BGVN 26:03 (Nyamuragira report).

This report also discusses GVO and resident volcanologist summit crater visits during late November 2002-early May 2003. In all cases the lava lake within the summit crater remained dynamic, with one or more windows on the crater floor exposing agitated molten lava. During this interval, degassing continued and tephra fell on the upper flanks. A summary of some ancillary observations such as seismicity measured on the GVO network is also provided.

A later section discusses ash plumes as described in aviation reports. Ash clouds extended as visible swaths on satellite imagery for up to ~100 km from the volcano. These reports include some as recent as 15 May 2003. The final section discusses MODIS thermal imagery during late 2002 through early 2003. The 2003 MODIS data reflect the lava lake seen deep within the summit crater. Finally, satellite data show atmospheric SO2 burdens for the Nyiragongo-Nyamuragira region during 13 December 2002 to 15 June 2003.

GVO's August 2002 field observations. On 12 August 2002 GVO was called to Bugarura village upslope from Munigi on the S flank. A new sinkhole had developed that morning, leaving a steaming opening ~3-4 m in diameter. Scientists could not see the opening's bottom through the steam, but they timed falling stones and estimated the sinkhole's depth at ~15 m. The odorless gas being emitted led them to believe that the steam chiefly represented vaporized groundwater.

GVO staff and collaborators hoped to advance gas monitoring efforts by measuring CO2 and other escaping gases at multiple sites in the region. They continued to make spot-checks with hand-held devices, but also sought a more-nearly continuous record from dedicated monitoring instruments. Although noxious gases are a familiar problem in volcanic areas, some of the gas concentrations in the rift are surprisingly high for areas adjacent human habitation. The Swahili word mazuku allegedly connotes places associated with "evil winds," and the term is currently used to describe fumarolic areas, which have also been described as dry gas vents.

Possible precursors to January 2002 eruption. In the weeks before the 17 January 2002 eruption, there were widespread reports of picked crops ripening at unusually rapid rates. From the settlements of Rusayo (8 km SW of the summit) and Katale (~18 km NNE of the summit and ~10 km NE of Nyamuragira's summit) people reported in early January that the normal 5-day ripening processes of bananas placed in the ground decreased to only 2 days. From Rusayo, people also reported that sweet potatoes, which are normally sun-dried on the ground surface, dried even without sun. GVO observers saw this first-hand and, as a result sought funds to hire porters and observe Nyiragongo directly, but the eruption began before the expedition started.

Although radiant or conductive heat may have been a factor (since heat speeds up the ripening process), heat's transport to broad areas on the surface by conduction through rocks would be comparatively slow. Heat at depth may have more rapidly reached the surface in the form of heated, liberated gases (such as steam). Discussions with gas chemist Vern Brown and a scan of the literature also revealed that the release of certain gases could conceivably have played another role as well. Both acetylene (C2H2, a colorless, flammable gas with an odor similar to garlic and slightly less dense than air) and C2H4 (ethylene, a colorless, faintly odorous gas less dense than air) speed up the ripening process in many agricultural products (including bananas and yams). Ethylene can cause banana peels to shift from green to yellow at low (ppm) concentrations. These gases occur naturally and may form or escape in association with heating organic material. In contrast, CO2 generally slows the ripening process. For the interval prior to the January 2002 eruption, observers lack documentation of increases in degassing or heating.

Seismicity and crater visits, November 2002-May 2003. Multiple GVO crater visits were documented: 23-25 November 2002; 9-10 and 21-22 January 2003; 4-5 and 25-26 February 2003; 18-19 March 2003; 22-24 April 2003; 6 May 2003. GVO also sent out occasional updates discussing seismicity and other observations.

During 23-25 November 2002, GVO team members Kasereka Mahinda, Ciraba Mateso, Arnaud Lemarchand, and Jacques Durieux watched the active lava lake on the crater floor. The lake was then located within the southern crater in the 16 November collapsed area. Two broad openings lay at the bottom of this new depression; both permitted viewers to see the lava lake's surface. A third, smaller opening ejected only high-temperature gases. The great quantity of gas occupying the bottom of the crater thwarted efforts to carry out a precise laser-based measurement of the depth to the lava-lake surface. The visual estimate for this depth from the summit was ~700 m.

The lava lake was very active, as it was before 1977. The lava surface was disturbed by the rise of abundant large gas bubbles. Breaking bubbles threw molten fragments onto the margins of the two openings. Consistent with the bubbles and constant degassing, a gas plume was visible at night from Goma. Occasionally, light dustings of tephra and Pele's hair came from the crater and fell on the surrounding areas. Although the current lake was impressive, the observers pointed out that the crater has contained a dynamic lava lake for nearly 50 years. The earlier lake's surface was much larger and stood nearly 500 m higher.

Jean-Christophe Komorowski accompanied GVO staff on a climb up Nyiragongo on 9-10 January 2003. While on the upper slopes, the climbers heard a few detonations associated with more energetic gas plumes. From the rim they saw a deep pit in the SW part of the inner crater. There were two vents on the crater floor separated by a thin rocky ridge. The SW vent (vent A) was characterized by a high-pressure fluctuating gas jet that gave off very loud roaring noises, along with flames of incandescent and combusting gases. Condensing steam clouds here were dense, rendering visual observations difficult. The other active vent (vent B) was just to the NE and consisted of an area of stable incandescence at least 100 m in diameter with an active lava fountain. Projections of lava spatter there took place every 30-60 seconds and typically reached 40-60 m in height.

The large area of incandescence indicated that a small lava lake must have been present deep in the pit, although the observers never saw the moving lava surface. Peak high-pressure degassing in vent A did not necessarily correlate with peak lava fountaining activity at vent B. Observations were conducted for several hours at night and during the day. Laser binocular measurements established the crater floor's depth at ~800 m. Very light ash consisting of Pele's hair and tears, and millimeter-sized vitric scoria fragments fell continuously on the rim. Conditions were made difficult at times when the SO2-rich gas plume blew towards the W.

Acid rain that flushed the volcano's SO2 gas plume, sampled at elevation 2,600 m, had a pH of 2.26. In contrast, rain collected in Kibati (below 2,000 m on the SSE flank) on 6 January had a pH of 6.15. Damage to about two-thirds of the vegetation by acid plume condensates was evident above 2,900 m on the SW and S flanks.

Compared to the last visit by GVO staff, 30-31 December 2002, degassing had increased significantly. However the level of the lava in the crater and/or lake had not risen and might have dropped lower in the conduit. The gas-plume height, measured regularly by the GVO, reached 4,500-5,000 m altitude. At times, although the very loud roaring sound remained unchanged, the entire crater became gas-filled to an extent that incandescence was entirely blocked, even from the vantage of surrounding villages. Information brought regularly to the attention of the GVO by the populations of Kibati, Mudja, Mutaho, and Rusayo villages attested to their exposure to the gas and ash plumes from Nyiragongo. Through at least early May 2003 the volcano's hazard status remained at yellow ("vigilance," the second lowest level on a 4-step scale).

Another climb enabled observers to peer into the crater during 21-22 January 2003 (figure 28). Compared to the 9-10 January observations, only one opening remained active inside the crater. The former vent A probably disappeared following a collapse. The active opening had about the same diameter and its lava fountain attained similar heights compared to earlier vent B observations. The level of the lava had not changed in the crater, remaining deep in the volcanic conduit. Degassing had increased significantly. Periodically more vigorous lava fountains sent smaller fragments to higher elevation that cooled to black scoria fragments. A small scoria cone had started to build around the active vent. Recent small lake overflows formed thin lobate lava sheets around the vent. The ascent velocity of individual gas plumes within the crater varied between 7 and 12 m/s.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. A photo of Nyiragongo's crater and the one opening in the lava lake visible on 22 January 2003. Copyrighted photo used with permission of GVO.

A series of incandescent pits extended to the SE of the active pit along a line that corresponds to a major pre-existing fault-fracture system trending N25°W. This system transected the crater from NW to SE and linked with the upper Shaheru fracture and 1977 vent network that reactivated in 2002. A hot fracture zone trended N10°E-N20°E in the NE part of the crater wall. This zone had extended into the active deep crater forming a conspicuous, elongate, vertical-walled canyon. Observers frequently heard and saw rockfalls, and noted that those events often generated plumes that spread and deposited ash over local vegetation. Intra-crater ash reached 5 mm in thickness. The gas plume remained rich in SO2. Rain water collected at the top of Nyiragongo had a pH of 2.84.

The late-January plume height estimated during favorable atmospheric conditions by GVO members varied from 4,500 to 5,500 m altitude. Often, the prevailing wind carried ash, cinder, and Pele's hair S towards Kibati, Rusayo, Mudja, and Mutaho villages.

A 13 February GVO report said that for four consecutive days, Pele's hair fell in Goma, 17 km SSW. Although cloudy and foggy due to the start of the rainy season, Nyiragongo's plume reached at least 5 km above the crater. Between Goma and the Nyiragongo stood heavy gray-to-black ash-rich clouds. The fall of Pele's hair was due to lava fountains inside the crater.

The same report noted that seismicity was probably lower than the previous week and consisted of low tremor, few long-period earthquakes, and almost no tectonic earthquakes. Very small-amplitude seismic noise (small earthquakes) occurred, presumably due to collapses and perhaps intra-crater explosions.

GVO went on to say that one side effect of the ash falls was that villages around Goma had serious water shortages, since they rely on collecting rainfall. All UN agencies and NGOs were informed and asked to start potable water distribution around Goma. A few more physical problems might arise because of the Pele's hair, including stress on people's eyes and breathing. Crops around the volcano in some cases have been burned by acid rains and ash, while cattle might also suffer from ingestion of ash-polluted grass.

The 25-26 February ascent revealed more robust activity than observers had seen on their 4-5 February visit. By the latter date, all vegetation had died near the main crater. Approaching the rim in the upper 220 m of the ascent, tephra falls had accumulated to form deposits several centimeters thick; those, along with acidic plumes, had killed plants. The flora and fauna at lower elevations were still surviving, although they showed signs of serious stress. Loud sounds were audible several kilometers from the central crater. Intra-crater activity seemed intense, but thick fumes in the crater area thwarted day-time visibility. On 25 February views from the W rim revealed that a spatter cone had begun to grow on the crater floor. Lava fountaining occurred all night; discharging lava probably rose more than 100 m high, but it was difficult to assess the maximum rise height. Lava fountains chiefly came out at one spot, although a second, much smaller point of emission gave off mainly flames and sometimes scoria. Pele's hair fell all night long.

An update disseminated on 27 February 2003 noted that compared to previous weeks, during 21-27 February Nyiragongo's activity had decreased, although seismicity measured on the S flanks continued to contain low-amplitude tremor. S-flank seismicity also contained comparatively few long-period (LP) earthquakes. The update also said that local winds had begun to blow predominantly from the ENE, thus sweeping plumes and associated tephra falls clear of Goma. A 22 February visit to the SW-flank settlement of Rusayo revealed conspicuous tephra deposits on roofs and trapped in the crevices of banana trees.

During a visit to Nyiragongo on 18-19 March, GVO scientists observed a thick plume engulfing the crater. Two possible emission points were noted; one was related to powerful lava and ash emissions, and the other was related to a much weaker white-pink plume. An inner active cone was visible in the crater and was at least 200 m in diameter. Lava fountains rose to maximum heights of 150-200 m and as low as 50 m. Scoria ejection made observations difficult at times. Several permanent fumaroles, also observed during the previous visit, were seen in the crater.

Dario Tedesco noted that the cone morphology seemed slightly different from the trip 3 weeks earlier. He observed that on the N side of the crater a new platform had been formed, probably due to the continuous accumulation of ejecta, scoria, and ash. The team saw a huge lava fountain of at least 150-200 m in height. In contrast, when viewed in late February, fountains seemed to remain below ~100 m in height. The lava fountains generated abundant falling ash of millimeter size at the observation point, a process that lasted all night long.

Stronger and higher lava fountains, reaching almost 300 m high, were witnessed at 0230 on 19 March. The eruptive vigor as well as the intensity of the falling tephra declined at 0530. The last witnessed activity was of 50-m-high fountains. A second pit was noted on the E side of the crater that had been hidden during the night by the very thick plume.

For many days prior to visits on 22-24 April the seismic stations considered most representative of the Nyiragongo activity only registered very weak and steady continuous tremor. Although other types of seismicity were absent in the, A-type and C-type earthquakes occurred near the volcano. Despite the comparative seismic quiet, a prominent gas plume rose from the volcano. When weather conditions permitted, the plume top was measured at 5-6 km altitude.

The 22-24 April field excursion noted five distinct vents on the crater floor, almost continuous emissions of tephra, an agitated molten-lake surface that included emerging gas, and lava splashing 50-60 m high. Occasional waves of lava rolled across portions of the crater floor and walls. Excursion members also witnessed crater-wall collapses taking place along the NW and S fracture zones.

Widely felt earthquakes also continued in the region, presumably related to extension along the massive East African rift system. For example, three C-type events occurred on 23 April below Nyiragongo at a depth of ~15 km. During the whole day of 24 April, sustained tremor plus C-type events registered. On 25 April a few seismic events occurred amid sustained tremor. A main volcano-tectonic shock had been recorded and later a series of A-type events in the Nyiragongo field, between the S flank and Lake Kivu. Increasing tremor followed. For the rest of the week, the seismic network recorded a concentration of volcanic events to the NW and the S of the volcano, along the preferential fracture axis.

On 2-3 May unusually dense ash plumes were visible from Goma. Continuous ashfall occurred in many villages close to the volcano, and permanent tremor and long-period earthquakes were recorded. SO2 emission rates were relatively high during 1-6 May, with the largest emission on 3 May (~50,000 tons, see TOMS data below). UN peace keepers provided a 3 May helicopter flight that gave volcanologists clear views of the crater. The lava lake's molten surface appeared slightly larger than during a visit to the crater rim on 22-24 April. At that time a significant plume containing gas and ash rose high above the volcano.

On 6 May GVO climbers entered the village of Kibati, the usual departure point for the ascent, ~8 km from the crater rim. Kibati residents told how ash falls and acid rains had negatively affected local crops. For example, bean leaves had been burnt in many places. Along the ascent, at 2,260 m elevation, Pele's hair was found, including some intact individual strands 30 cm long. At 2,700 m elevation, thin ash grains completely covered the vegetation. At 3,200 m elevation on the S flank (~270 m below the summit), all vegetation had died.

Atmospheric conditions initially allowed quite clear views from the crater rim. The lava lake underwent violent outbursts from bursting of gas bubbles estimated at up to 40 m wide. The resulting projections of spatters and surges splashed on the walls of the pit. The lake had regained its former dimensions (~60 m across). The wider lake, recently seen from helicopter, had shrunken, leaving a solid platform on its side. Pressure of the escaping gases seemed very high and yielded a continuous roaring. GVO climbers again witnessed intermittent pale yellow-green flames hurling from the vents up to 50 m high.

At 0644 on 6 May a seismic shock was felt by the team on top of the volcano. It was recorded by the whole network as a low-amplitude long-period earthquake. Then, fog and gases halted further sightings into the crater. The fog lifted around 0100 on 7 May; at this time viewers saw a small narrow lava flow in the southern inner wall adjacent the active pit's margin ~200 m above the crater floor. The lava escaped out of what looked like a tunnel or tube. Although the lava descended at a steep angle and appeared to escape from the tube at a constant rate, its rate of advance remained slow. The lava front had not made it to the crater center. Below the tube, however, intricate individual lava flows had formed a long delta.

Aviation reports. A Volcanic Ash Advisory (VAA) for Nyiragongo was issued by the Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) on 6 March 2003. That advisory stated, "A cloud probably containing ash can be seen on [visible wavelength] METEOSAT imagery extending 100 NM [(nautical miles, 185 km)] westward from the volcano. "Several hours later the ash cloud was no longer visible. Advisories were also issue on 9, 12, 14, and 15 May 2003. The one for 9 May noted "Renewed activity since early May. Ash plume witnessed during a helicopter flight around early May up to 5-6 km above sea level. Many ash falls and acid rains all around the volcano." No cloud was observable due to convective weather clouds. The reports on 14 and 15 May stated, "According to Goma observatory [GVO], a plume of steam and ash is often emitted since early May. It may rise 1,500-2,500 m above the volcano's summit. No new message from Goma observatory since early May." Meteorological satellite (METEOSAT) imagery was unable to detect an ash cloud on 14 May due to weather clouds around the volcano.

MODVOLC Thermal Alerts. During early 2002 to early 2003 Nyiragongo was monitored on a daily basis with thermal satellite imagery (1-km pixel size). Investigators Matt Patrick, Luke Flynn, Harold Garbeil, Andy Harris, Eric Pilger, Glyn Williams-Jones, and Rob Wright used NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument and processed these data using the automated MODIS thermal alert system at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Prior to the January 2002 eruption, Nyiragongo activity appeared insignificant; anomalies were absent from the start of the MODIS-based alert system in April 2000, and through all of 2001. Anomalous pixels remained absent during 24 February-12 June 2002. The absence of anomalies could be explained either by a lack of exposure of the lava lake or by cloud cover obscuring the heat source from the satellite's view.

Nyiragongo's major effusive eruption in mid-January 2002 caused strong initial thermal anomalies (figure 29). Lava flows extending down the S flank to Lake Kivu resulted in anomalies as large as 45 pixels. Afterwards, the anomalies diminished quickly. Small intermittent anomalies (1-3 pixels) occurred near the summit for the remainder of 2002 and into early 2003, consistent with the kind of lava-lake activity described above.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. A plot illustrating MODIS data for Nyiragongo with the sum for short-wave (4 micron, band 21) radiance as well as the sum for long-wave (12 micron, band 32) radiance for all anomalous pixels in each image. The x-axis (time axis) starts before the eruption in December 2001 and ends in early 2003. Courtesy of Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Atmospheric SO2. The Earth Probe Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (EP TOMS) SO2 data presented in figure 30 are preliminary. The bars indicated as "TOMS SO2" plotted on the lower axis of the chart represent EP TOMS measurements on days when the signal was large enough to allow retrieval of the SO2 mass. The height of these bars corresponds with the y-axis scale. Note that these values represent the SO2 mass in a satellite 'snapshot' of the volcanic cloud taken around local noon, and not an SO2 flux. The bars indicated as "Inferred SO2" on the lower axis denote days on which the presence of SO2 could be inferred from EP TOMS data, but the signal was too weak to allow retrieval of an atmospheric SO2 mass. Hence these bars are non-quantitative, but they indicate that non-trivial SO2 emissions probably occurred.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Preliminary atmospheric SO2 data taken from satellite measurements of the Nyiragongo-Nyamuragira region during 13 December 2002 to 15 June 2003. The data along the lower axis are from the EP TOMS instrument; the data on the upper axis are from the GOME instrument on the European satellite ERS-2. Only the data described as "TOMS SO2" are quantitative (see text). Blank spaces for certain days and time intervals on the chart imply that either a data gap occurred over the region, or that no SO2 was detected. One of these blank intervals in the EP TOMS data took place during 15-23 May 2003, in this case due to the one instrument shutdown during the data-collection period. Courtesy of Simon Carn.

More, non-quantitative data appear as bars indicated as "GOME detection" along the upper axis of figure 30; in this case, showing dates when another instrument detected SO2 emissions in the region. These emission dates denote SO2 detection over central Africa by the European GOME (Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment) instrument aboard the ERS-2 satellite. GOME measurements are based on scans by a visible- and ultraviolet-wavelength spectrometer. GOME has inferior spatial and temporal resolution to EP TOMS, but is more sensitive to atmospheric SO2.

TOMS SO2 mass retrievals are dependent on the altitude of the volcanic plume and are also affected by meteorological cloud cover, and therefore may be adjusted as more information becomes available. The largest of these preliminary estimates during this interval was in excess of 50 kilotons (kt) SO2. These peaks in the first half of May 2003 were truncated by an instrument shutdown during 15-23 May. Given the crater and plume observations by GVO, and other data discussed above, the vast majority of the SO2 shown on figure 30 was probably emitted by Nyiragongo.

CO2 gas concentrations at three mazukus on the flanks of Nyiragongo in vicinity of Lac Vert at the ground surface measured up to ~40% by volume, but concentrations of the heavier-than-air gas dropped quickly with height above the ground surface. Spot measurements were made with a Geotechnical Instruments multi-gas landfill analyzer. Field notes reported CH4 concentrations consistently at zero and O2 concentrations at only one site where it was 22 vol. % at the ground surface and 16-17 vol. % nearby. The 15 August 2002 field excursion was led by GVO scientists Mathieu Yalire, Ciraba Mateso, and Kasereka Mahinda, with Chris Newhall present.

Effects of carbon dioxide. People in the region apparently understand the hazard of escaping CO2 gas, and in the past several years CO2 gas exposure has not led to reported human fatalities. CO2 gas, which is more dense than air at equivalent temperature and pressure, can be lethal to humans at 9-12 vol. % concentrations in as little as 5 minutes. The US standards for indoor air quality suggest that long-term human exposures remain below 0.1-0.2 vol. %, and that short-term (10- to 15-minute) exposures remain below 3 vol. %. The odor of CO2 is too weak to warn of dangerous concentrations. Table 9 lists some symptoms associated with the inhalation of air containing progressively higher levels of CO2.

Table 9. The AGA Gas Handbook included these CO2 gas concentrations (in volume percent) and accompanying symptoms for adults in good health (after Ahlberg, 1985).

Volume % CO2 Physical Symptoms
2% 50% increase in breathing rate.
3% 10-minute exposure limit; 100% increase in breathing rate.
5% 300% increase in breathing rate, headache and sweating may begin after about an hour.
8% Short-term exposure limit.
8-10% Headache after 10 or 15 minutes. Dizziness, buzzing in the ears, blood-pressure increase, high pulse rate, excitation, and nausea.
10-18% After a few minutes, cramps similar to epileptic fits loss of consciousness, and a sharp drop in blood pressure. The victims recover very quickly in fresh air.
18-20% Symptoms similar to those of a stroke.

Reference. Ahlberg, K., 1985, AGA Gas Handbook: Properties & Uses of Industrial Gases, AB, Lidingo/Sweden, ISBN 91-970061-1-4 (out of print).

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: Celestin Kasereka Mahinda, Kavotha Kalendi Sadaka, Jean-Pierre Bajope, Ciraba Mateso, and Mathieu Yalire, Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, D.R. Congo; Dario Tedesco, Jacques Durieux, Jean-Christophe Komorowski, Jack Lockwood, Chris Newhall, Paolo Papale, Arnaud LeMarchand, and Orlando Vaselli, UN-OCHA resident volcanologists, c/o UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations Geneva , Palais des Nations,1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland (URL: http://www.unog.ch); Tolouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Toulouse, Météo-France, 42 Avenue G. Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse Cedex, France (URL: http://www.meteo.fr/vaac/); Matt Patrick, Luke Flynn, Harold Garbeil, Andy Harris, Eric Pilger, Glyn Williams-Jones, and Rob Wright, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawaii, Manoa (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Vern Brown, President, ENMET Corporation, P.O. Box 979, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106-0979 (URL: http://www.enmet.com/); Simon A. Carn, TOMS Volcanic Emissions Group, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (NASA/UMBC), University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250 USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).


Ruapehu (New Zealand) — May 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)


Steam plume issued from warm Crater Lake in May, but no eruption

Since the middle of March 2003 the temperature of Ruapehu's summit Crater Lake had been slowly rising. The lake temperature rose from 30°C on 5 March (BGVN 28:02) to a high of 41.6°C on 15 May (table 11). Similar values were recorded in January 2003 when the lake temperature reached 42°C. This is the fourth time that the temperature of the Crater Lake has risen above 35°C since the start of 2001, and the temperature has been above 30°C since December 2002. It is not unusual for the temperature to cycle over periods of 6-9 months; minor hydrothermal activity can occur in the lake during temperature peaks. Lake temperatures dropped steadily from 41°C after mid-May. However, during the late morning of 26 May a steam plume was observed rising 200-300 m above Crater Lake. No seismicity accompanied this plume, suggesting that it was generated by atmospheric conditions alone (a warm lake and a cold, windless, morning). Steam plumes were also observed on 28 March and 21 April.

Table 11. Lake water temperatures measured at Ruapehu's Crater Lake, 5 March-1 June 2003. Courtesy of IGNS.

Date Crater Lake Temperature
05 Mar 2003 30°C
28 Mar 2003 35°C
11 Apr 2003 38°C
29 Apr 2003 39.4°C
15 May 2003 41.6°C
26 May 2003 Slightly over 40°C
29 May 2003 36°C
01 Jun 2003 33°C

Weak intermittent seismic tremor was recorded through early April, then remained at a constant moderate level during 12-17 April. The following week, 18-24 April, there was an increase in tremor accompanied by discrete volcanic earthquakes. By 2 May volcanic tremor levels had declined, but volcanic earthquakes continued to occur. Levels of volcanic tremor fluctuated during the week of 3-9 May, with several periods of enhanced tremor and small volcanic earthquakes. Tremor had declined by 16 May, and seismicity remained very low through the 30th. The level of volcanic tremor began to increase slightly in early June, but the lake temperature was still declining during the week of 7-13 June. Very low levels of activity continued through the 20th. There were no significant changes observed in the lake water chemistry. The hazard status remained unchanged at Alert Level 1.

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 dominantly andesitic 110 km3 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 (Te Wai a-moe), 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 3,000 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/).


Sabancaya (Peru) — May 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Sabancaya

Peru

15.787°S, 71.857°W; summit elev. 5960 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Inflation at Hualca Hualca detected by satellite surveys from June 1992 to April 1996

A satellite-based interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) survey of the remote central Andes volcanic arc (Pritchard and Simons, 2002) revealed deformation in the Sabancaya area during June 1992-mid 1997. Inflation was detected ~2.5 km E of the Hualca Hualca cone and 7 km N of Sabancaya (figure 16), with the maximum deformation rate in the radar line-of-sight being ~2 cm/year. While not temporally well-constrained, this inflation seems to have stopped in 1997, perhaps related to the large eruption of Sabancaya in May 1997 (BGVN 22:07). No deformation was observed between mid 1997-December 2001. The inferred source depth was 11-13 km below sea level. Additional details about the study and analysis are available in Pritchard and Simons (2002).

Reference. Pritchard, M., and Simons, M., 2002, A satellite geodetic survey of large-scale deformation of volcanic centres in the Central Andes: Nature, v. 418, p. 167-170.

Geologic Background. Sabancaya, located in the saddle NE of Ampato and SE of Hualca Hualca volcanoes, is the youngest of these volcanic centers and the only one to have erupted in historical time. The oldest of the three, Nevado Hualca Hualca, is of probable late-Pliocene to early Pleistocene age. The name Sabancaya (meaning "tongue of fire" in the Quechua language) first appeared in records in 1595 CE, suggesting activity prior to that date. Holocene activity has consisted of Plinian eruptions followed by emission of voluminous andesitic and dacitic lava flows, which form an extensive apron around the volcano on all sides but the south. Records of historical eruptions date back to 1750.

Information Contacts: Matthew Pritchard and Mark Simons, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA (URL: http://www.gps.caltech.edu/).


Santa Maria (Guatemala) — May 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Santa Maria

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lahars during January-October 2002; explosions and pyroclastic flows

At Santiaguito, the active lava-flow front continued to generate ash plumes through early 2002 (BGVN 27:05). INSIVUMEH reported that during January-October 2002, activity at Santiaguito included lahars, explosions, growth of the lava dome, and collapses from the Caliente dome. The main lahar during that period occurred on 8 January 2002. Farmers in the Monte Claro area heard rockfalls on the W flank. Field inspections near the San Isidro ravine showed an abundance of material deposited by mudflows and other volcanic debris, mainly fine ash. These deposits formed ash knolls called "hummocks." The San Isidro ravine begins at the Nimá II river, now covered by the SW lava flow, which created a dam ~200-300 m high. A rupture of the dam in the high part of the Brujo dome contributed fine material and blocks to the high-velocity lahar, which traveled ~4 km until it was stopped by old landslide deposits.

At the height of the Property Florida, there are old lahar deposits, possibly from the eruptions of Santa Maria in 1902 and/or Santiaguito in 1929, with blocks of 1, 2, 3, and 5 m in diameter. With the arrival of the rainy season, San Isidro, which became a new channel for lahars from May to October, had at least six "strong" lahars. The active lava flow from July 1999 had stopped its advance in the channel of the Nimá II river as of April 2002.

Since renewal of activity in April and May 2002, a new lava flow had been advancing on top of the high part of the existing lava flow, in front of the Santiaguito viewpoint. This constant movement was filling up the ravine that divided the lava flow from the El Faro farm. The new lava flow quickly built a small lobe reaching ~300 m high. It advanced in a fan shape toward the S and W flanks, with continuous collapses from the front.

A volcanic ash advisory issued on 16 August was based on a report from INSIVUMEH about a dome collapse with some near-summit ash. However, no ash was evident in GOES-8 satellite imagery. After 29 August there were frequent collapses from the crater rim of the Caliente cone, generating pyroclastic flows that extended to the base of the domes. The greatest collapse occurred on 3 October, accompanied by a strong explosion and several pyroclastic flows that descended all flanks of the volcano at high speeds, covering the volcano completely in a few minutes and producing abundant ashfall on the SW flank. During October there were continued collapses of the crater rim.

In the early hours of 17 October the inhabitants of the El Faro and La Florida farms, and areas such as Palmar Nuevo and part of San Felipe Retalhuleu, heard a strong explosion. At OVSAN (Vulcanológico Observatory of Santiaguito Volcano), this activity was felt, and a collapse of the dome from the edge of the crater was seen. After 19 October moderate and strong explosions occurred at a rate of 3-5 per hour, some accompanied by rumblings. There was also an increase in the number of phreatomagmatic ash explosions that sent abundant gray ash 800-1,200 m high, dispersed mainly on the SW flank. In November observers reported constant collapses of the SE and E lava flows. On the morning of 11 November there was a series of collapses from the S lava flow, and heavy ashfall on the seismic station housing.

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

Information Contacts: Otoniel Matías and Gustavo Chigna, Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH), 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala; Washington 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.ssd.noaa.gov/).


Stromboli (Italy) — May 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava effusion continues through mid-June; infrared satellite observations

The latest eruptive episode from Stromboli began on 28 December 2002 (BGVN 28:01) and included a significant explosion on 5 April (BGVN 28:04). This report includes field observations provided by the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) through mid-June 2003. Thermal alerts based on infrared satellite imagery over the course of this eruption have been compiled and summarized by scientists at The Open University.

Activity during 17 April-16 June 2003. Effusion of lava from vents located at ~600 m elevation, on the upper eastern corner of the Sciara del Fuoco, continued until 16 June with a generally decreasing effusion rate. This caused a significant increase in the thickness of the lava field formed since 15 February to over 50 m. Since the 5 April eruption, the summit craters of the volcano have been blocked by fallout material obstructing the conduit. Small, occasional, short-lived explosions of hot juvenile material were observed on 17 April during a helicopter survey with a hand-held thermal camera, and on 3 May from the SAR fixed camera located at 400 m elevation on the E rim of the Sciara del Fuoco.

The effusion rate from the 600-m-elevation vents on the Sciara del Fuoco showed a significant decline between 1 and 4 May, when inflation of the upper lava flow field was detected through daily helicopter-borne thermal surveys. Inflation stopped on 6 May, when two new vents opened on the inflated crust of the flow field, causing drainage and spreading new lava flows along the Sciara del Fuoco. Between the end of May and early June, gas-rich magma was extruded from the 600 m vents on the upper Sciara del Fuoco. Spattering built up two hornitos, which in a few days reached an estimated height of over 6 m. This activity was accompanied by lava flow effusion along the upper Sciara del Fuoco, with lava descending to 150 m elevation.

On 1 June, Strombolian activity resumed at Crater 1 (NE crater). It was revealed first through helicopter-borne thermal surveys, and then by direct observations from the eastern Sciara del Fuoco rim. Most of the ejecta fell within the crater, and from the lower slopes of the volcano only pulsating dark ash emissions were observed. Strombolian activity stopped around 6 June, and occasional lava flows occurred at the hornitos at 600 m elevation on 11 June. The summit craters showed discontinuous ash emission until mid-June, and the SAR fixed camera at 400 m elevation showed a Strombolian explosion with abundant ash emission on the night of 15 June.

MODVOLC Thermal Alerts. MODIS thermal anomalies for Stromboli covering the period from the start of MODIS data acquisition over Europe in May 2000 until the present were compiled using data available at http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/.

With the exception of single-pixel alerts on 8 July and 19 September 2000 (with alert ratios of -0.798 and -0.794, both barely above the -0.800 automatic detection threshold of the thermal alerts algorithm), activity at Stromboli remained below the automatic detection threshold until November 2002 (figure 74). In that month there were two single-pixel alerts, barely above detection threshold (-0.790 on 12 November and -0.792 on 28 November). Thermal infrared radiance was higher than ever before at the time of the MODIS overpass on 20 December 2002, when there was a two-pixel alert, with alert ratios of -0.667 and -0.749.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Alert-ratio, number of alert pixels, and summed 4 µm (MODIS band 21) spectral radiance for MODIS thermal alerts on Stromboli between 1 November 2002 and 13 May 2003. MODIS data courtesy of the HIGP MODIS Thermal Alert Team.

These five dates were the only MODIS thermal alerts prior to the start of effusive activity on 28 December 2002 (BGVN 27:12 and 28:01). The source of the radiance to trigger these alerts was evidently incandescence at one or more of the active vents. In the case of a volcano such as Stromboli, prior to December 2002, isolated thermal alerts are more likely to represent the chance coincidence of a short-lived peak of incandescence with the time of MODIS overpass, rather than a sustained emission of infrared radiation. However the November-December 2002 thermal alerts can with hindsight be seen to have been indicators of enhanced activity in the lead-up to the 28 December effusive eruption.

On 28 December 2002 MODIS recorded its highest ever alert ratio at Stromboli (+0.419) and highest summed radiance at 4.0 µm (MODIS band 21) in a seven-pixel alert, corresponding to the daily MODIS overpass at 2115 UTC. This is a record of radiance from 300-m-wide lava flows from the NE crater (BGVN 27:12). Subsequent to that date, thermal alerts have occurred persistently at Stromboli, and evidently reflect ongoing lava effusion. The general trend of the highest alert ratio on each date, the number of alert pixels, and the summed 4.0 µm radiance for all alert pixels on each date shows an exponential decline.

There are no thermal alerts for 3-7 April 2003 inclusive, which could be because of cloud cover. There is thus no direct record of the explosion on the morning of 5 April that completely covered the upper 200 m of the volcano with bombs. However, the mild intensification of subsequent thermal-alerts indicates slight re-invigoration of the on-going lava effusion.

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

Information Contacts: Sonia Calvari, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/); David A Rothery and Diego Coppola, Department of Earth Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, United Kingdom. MODIS data courtesy of the HIGP MODIS Thermal Alert Team.


Uturuncu (Bolivia) — May 2003 Citation iconCite this Report

Uturuncu

Bolivia

22.27°S, 67.18°W; summit elev. 6008 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Deformation detected by satellite surveys; low-level seismicity and active fumaroles

A large-scale concentric pattern of deformation was detected between May 1996 and December 2000 centered on Uturuncu volcano, Bolivia (figure 1), based on satellite geodetic surveys (Pritchard and Simons, 2002). The observed deformation is primarily surface uplift with a maximum rate at the uplift center of 1-2 cm/year in the radar line-of-sight direction (figure 2). A reconnaissance investigation by a team composed of scientists from Bolivia, Chile, the USA, and the UK, took place during 1-6 April 2003 to identify any other signs of volcanic unrest and assess past volcanic behavior.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Photograph of Uturuncu viewed from the south, April 2003. Courtesy of Steve Sparks.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Shaded relief topographic map of the central Andes with insets showing areas of deformation detected by Pritchard and Simons (2002). Interferograms (draped over shaded relief) indicate active deformation; each color cycle corresponds to 5 cm of deformation in the radar line-of-sight (LOS). The LOS direction from ground to spacecraft (black arrow) is inclined 23° from the vertical. Black squares indicate radar frames, and black triangles show potential volcanic edifices. Courtesy of Matthew Pritchard.

A single-component vertical one-second seismometer was placed at five locations for periods of up to 14 hours. Data were recorded at a rate of 100 samples per second on a laptop computer. Persistent low-level seismicity was observed mainly from one source location on the NW flank, close to the center of deformation observed by satellite surveys. Two other sources within the volcanic edifice could not be located with the available data. The rate of volcanic earthquakes was up to 15 per hour, and the magnitudes were in the 0.5-1.5 range based on coda length. The sources were considered to be within 3-4 km of the surface (much shallower than the deformation source); more accurate information will be available when the data are analyzed further.

The summit region of Uturuncu has two active fumarole fields with substantial sulfur production and areas of clay-silica hydrothermal alteration. Maximum temperatures in four fumaroles were measured at 79-80°C. A hot spring on the NW flanks had a temperature of 20°C.

Uturuncu is a stratovolcano composed of hypersthene andesites, hypersthene-biotite dacites, and biotite-hornblende dacites. Almost all the exposed products are extensive coulée-type lavas and domes; no pyroclastic deposits were observed. Flow features are well-preserved on the youngest lavas. A wide variety of xenoliths were found in most lavas, including mafic magmatic inclusions, cumulates, microcrystalline igneous inclusions, and hornfels of possible basement rocks including sandstones and calcareous rock types.

Lavas around the summit area appear to be the most recent products, but have been affected by glaciation; there is however no present-day ice. There is thus no evidence yet for Holocene activity. The recent unrest manifested by substantial ground deformation and reconnaissance seismicity indicate, however, that a magmatic system is still present and therefore further monitoring is warranted.

Reference. Pritchard, M., and Simons, M., 2002, A satellite geodetic survey of large-scale deformation of volcanic centres in the Central Andes: Nature, v. 418, p. 167-170.

Geologic Background. Uturuncu, the highest peak of SW Bolivia, displays fumarolic activity, and postglacial lava flows were noted by Kussmaul et al. (1977). Inspection of satellite images of the 6008-m-high peak, located SE of Quetana, did not show evidence for postglacial activity (de Silva and Francis, 1991). Andesitic and dacitic lava flows dominate on Uturuncu, and no pyroclastic deposits were observed during recent field work. Although young lava flows display well-preserved flow features, youthful-looking summit lava flows showed evidence of glaciation. Two active sulfur-producing fumarole fields are located near the summit, and large-scale ground deformation was observed beginning in May 1992 (Pritchard and Simons, 2002), indicating, along with seismicity detected in 2009-10 (Jay et al., 2012), that a magmatic system is still present.

Information Contacts: Mayel Sunagua and Ruben Muranca, Geological Survey of Bolivia, SERGEOMIN, Casilla 2729, La Paz, Bolivia; Jorge Clavero, Geological Survey of Chile, Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERGEOMIN), Avenida Santa María 0104, Casilla 10465, Santiago, Chile; Steve McNutt, Alaska Volcano Observatory and Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 903 Koyukuk Drive, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/); Matthew Pritchard, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA (URL: http://www.gps.caltech.edu/); C. Annen, M. Humphreys, A. le Friant, and R.S.J. Sparks, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1RJ, UK.

Atmospheric Effects

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

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements  Obituaries

Misc Reports

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

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