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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

Pacaya (Guatemala) Strombolian explosions, multiple lava flows, and the formation of a small cone during February-July 2020

Sangeang Api (Indonesia) Two ash plumes and small thermal anomalies during February-June 2020

Stromboli (Italy) Strombolian explosions persist at both summit craters during January-April 2020

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) Lava dome confirmed inside Arenas crater; intermittent thermal anomalies and ash emissions, January-June 2020

Asosan (Japan) Daily ash emissions continue through mid-June 2020 when activity decreases

Aira (Japan) Near-daily explosions with ash plumes continue, large block ejected 3 km from Minamidake crater on 4 June 2020

Nevados de Chillan (Chile) Explosions and pyroclastic flows continue; new dome emerges from Nicanor crater in June 2020

Kerinci (Indonesia) Intermittent ash emissions during January-early May 2020

Tinakula (Solomon Islands) Intermittent small thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam plumes during January-June 2020

Ibu (Indonesia) Frequent ash emissions and summit incandescence; Strombolian explosions in March 2020

Suwanosejima (Japan) Frequent explosions, ash plumes, and summit incandescence in January-June 2020

Bagana (Papua New Guinea) Ash plumes during 29 February-2 March and 1 May 2020



Pacaya (Guatemala) — August 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strombolian explosions, multiple lava flows, and the formation of a small cone during February-July 2020

Pacaya, located in Guatemala, is a highly active volcano that has previously produced continuous Strombolian explosions, multiple lava flows, and the formation of a small cone within the crater due to the constant deposition of ejected material (BGVN 45:02). This reporting period updates information from February through July 2020 consisting of similar activity that dominantly originates from the Mackenney crater. Information primarily comes from reports by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH) in Guatemala and various satellite data.

Strombolian explosions were recorded consistently throughout this reporting period. During February 2020, explosions ejected incandescent material 100 m above the Mackenney crater. At night and during the early morning the explosions were accompanied by incandescence from lava flows. Multiple lava flows were active during most of February, traveling primarily down the SW and NW flanks and reaching 500 m on 25 February. On 5 February the lava flow on the SW flank divided into three flows measuring 200, 150, and 100 m. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam emissions rose up to 2.7 km altitude on 11 and 14 February and drifted in multiple directions. On 16 February Matthew Watson utilized UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) to take detailed, close up photos of Pacaya and report that there were five active vents at the summit exhibiting lava flows from the summit, gas-and-steam emissions, and small Strombolian explosions (figure 122).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 122. Drone image of active summit vents at Pacaya on 16 February 2020 with incandescence and white gas-and-steam emissions. Courtesy of Matthew Watson, University of Bristol, posted on 17 February 2020.

Activity remained consistent during March with Strombolian explosions ejecting material 100 m above the crater accompanied by occasional incandescence and white and occasionally blue gas-and-steam emissions drifting in multiple directions. Multiple lava flows were detected on the NW and W flanks reaching as far as 400 m on 9-10 March.

In April, frequent Strombolian explosions were accompanied by active lava flows moving dominantly down the SW flank and white gas-and-steam emissions. These repeated explosions ejected material up to 100 m above the crater and then deposited it within the Mackenney crater, forming a small cone. On 27 April seismicity increased at 2140 due to a lava flow moving SW as far as 400 m (figure 123); there were also six strong explosions and a fissure opened on the NW flank in front of the Los Llanos Village, allowing gas-and-steam to rise.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 123. Infrared image of Pacaya on 28 April 2020, showing a lava flow approximately 500 m long and moving down the S flank on the day after seismicity increased and six strong explosions were detected. Courtesy of ISIVUMEH (Reporte Volcán de Pacaya July 2020).

During May, Strombolian explosions continued to eject incandescent material up to 100 m above the Mackenney crater, accompanied by active lava flows on 1-2, 17-18, 22, 25-26, and 29-30 May down the SE, SW, NW, and NE flanks up to 700 m on 30 May. White gas-and-steam emissions continued to be observed up to 100 m above the crater drifting in multiple directions. Between the end of May and mid-June, the plateau between the Mackenney cone and the Cerro Chiquito had become inundated with lava flows (figure 124).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 124. Aerial views of the lava flows at Pacaya to the NW during a) 18 September 2019 and b) 16 June 2020 showing the lava flow advancement toward the Cerro Chiquito. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (Reporte Volcán de Pacaya July 2020).

Lava flows extended 700 m on 8 June down multiple flanks. On 9 June, a lava flow traveled N and NW 500 m and originating from a vent on the N flank about 100 m below the Mackenney crater. Active lava flows continued to originate from this vent through at least 19 June while white gas-and-steam emissions were observed rising 300 m above the crater. At night and during the early mornings of 24 and 29 June Strombolian explosions were observed ejecting incandescent material up to 200 m above the crater (figure 125). These explosions continued to destroy and then rebuild the small cone within the Mackenney crater with fresh ejecta. Active lava flows on the SW flank were mostly 100-600 m long but had advanced to 2 km by 30 June.

On 10 July a 1.2 km lava flow divided in two which moved on the NE and N flanks. On 11 July, another 800 m lava flow divided in two, on the N and NE flanks (figure 126). On 14 and 19 July, INSIVUMEH registered constant seismic tremors and stated they were associated with the lava flows. No active lava flows were observed on 18-19 July, though some may have continued to advance on the SW, NW, N, and NE flanks. On 20 July, lava emerged from a vent at the NW base of the Mackenney cone near Cerro Chino, extending SE. Strombolian explosions ejected incandescent material up to 200 m above the crater on 22 July, accompanied by active incandescent lava flows on the SW, N, NW, NE, and W flanks. Three lava flows on the NW flank were observed on 22-24 July originating from the base of the Mackenney cone. Explosive activity during 22 July vibrated the windows and roofs of the houses in the villages of San Francisco de Sales, El Patrocinio, El Rodeo, and others located 4 km from the volcano. The lava flow activity had decreased by 25 July, but remnants of the lava flow on the NW flank persisted with weak incandescence observed at night, which was no longer observed by 26 July. Strombolian explosions continued to be detected through the rest of the month, accompanied by frequent white gas-and-steam emissions that extended up to 2 km from the volcano; no active lava flows were observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 125. Photos of Pacaya on 11 July 2020 showing Strombolian explosions and lava flows moving down the N and NE flanks. Courtesy of William Chigna, CONRED, posted on 12 July 2020.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 126. Infrared image of Pacaya on 20 July 2020 showing a hot lava flow accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (BEPAC 47 Julio 2020-22).

During February through July 2020, multiple lava flows and thermal anomalies within the Mackenney crater were detected in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (figure 127). These lava flows were observed moving down multiple flanks and were occasionally accompanied by white gas-and-steam emissions. Thermal anomalies were also recorded by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system during 10 August through July 2020 within 5 km of the crater summit (figure 128). There were a few breaks in thermal activity from early to mid-March, late April, early May, and early June; however, each of these gaps were followed by a pulse of strong and frequent thermal anomalies. According to the MODVOLC algorithm, 77 thermal alerts were recorded within the summit crater during February through July 2020.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 127. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya showing thermal activity (bright yellow-orange) primarily as lava flows originating from the summit crater during February to July 2020 frequently accompanied by white gas-and-steam emissions. All images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 128. The MIROVA thermal activity graph (Log Radiative Power) at Pacaya during 10 August to July 2020 shows strong, frequent thermal anomalies through late July with brief gaps in activity during early to mid-March, late April, early May, and early June. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

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


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

Sangeang Api

Indonesia

8.2°S, 119.07°E; summit elev. 1912 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Two ash plumes and small thermal anomalies during February-June 2020

Sangeang Api is a 13-km-wide island located off the NE coast of Sumbawa Island, part of Indonesia's Lesser Sunda Islands. Documentation of historical eruptions date back to 1512. The most recent eruptive episode began in July 2017 and included frequent Strombolian explosions, ash plumes, and block avalanches. The previous report (BGVN 45:02) described activity consisting of a new lava flow originating from the active Doro Api summit crater, short-lived explosions, and ash-and-gas emissions. This report updates information during February through July 2020 using information from the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reports, Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, or CVGHM) reports, and various satellite data.

Volcanism during this reporting period was relatively low compared to the previous reports (BGVN 44:05 and BGVN 45:02). A Darwin VAAC notice reported an ash plume rose 2.1 km altitude and drifted E on 10 May 2020. Another ash plume rose to a maximum of 3 km altitude drifting NE on 10 June, as seen in HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery.

The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data detected a total of 12 low power thermal anomalies within 5 km from the summit during February through May 2020 (figure 42). No thermal anomalies were recorded during June and July according to the MIROVA graph. Though the MODVOLC algorithm did not detect any thermal signatures between February to July, many small thermal hotspots within the summit crater could be seen in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (figure 43).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Thermal anomalies at Sangeang Api from 10 August 2019 through July 2020 recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were infrequent and low power during February through May 2020. No thermal anomalies were detected during June and July. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery using “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering showed small thermal hotspots (orange-yellow) at the summit of Sangeang Api during February through June 2020. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Stromboli (Italy) — August 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strombolian explosions persist at both summit craters during January-April 2020

Stromboli is a stratovolcano located in the northeastern-most part of the Aeolian Islands composed of two active summit vents: the Northern (N) Crater and the Central-South (CS) Crater that are situated at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a large scarp that runs from the summit down the NW side of the volcano. The ongoing eruption began in 1934 and has been characterized by regular Strombolian explosions in both summit craters, ash plumes, and occasional lava flows (BGVN 45:08). This report updates activity from January to April 2020 with information primarily from daily and weekly reports by Italy's Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) and various satellite data.

Activity was consistent during this reporting period. Explosion rates ranged from 1-20 per hour and were of variable intensity, producing material that rose from less than 80 to over 250 m above the vents (table 8). Strombolian explosions were often accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions, spattering, and lava flows which has resulted in fallout deposited on the Sciara del Fuoco and incandescent blocks rolling toward the coast up to a few hundred meters down the slopes of the volcano. According to INGV, the average SO2 emissions measured 300-650 tons/day.

Table 8. Summary of activity at Stromboli during January-April 2020. Low-intensity activity indicates ejecta rising less than 80 m, medium-intensity is ejecta rising less than 150 m, and high-intensity is ejecta rising over 200 m above the vent. Data courtesy of INGV.

Month Activity
Jan 2020 Strombolian activity and degassing continued with some spattering. Explosion rates varied from 2-20 per hour. Ejected material rose 80-150 m above the N crater and 150-200 m above the CS crater. A small cone is growing on the S1 crater and has produced some explosions and ejected coarse material mixed with fine ash. The average SO2 emissions measured 300 tons/day.
Feb 2020 Strombolian activity and degassing continued. Explosion rates varied from 2-14 per hour. Ejected material rose 80-200 m above the N crater and 80-250 m above the CS crater. The average SO2 emissions measured 300 tons/day.
Mar 2020 Strombolian activity and degassing continued with discontinuous spattering. Explosion rates varied from 1-16 per hour. Ejected material rose 80-150 m above the N crater and 150-250 m above the CS crater. Intense spattering was observed in the N crater. The average SO2 emissions measured 300-650 tons/day.
Apr 2020 Strombolian activity and degassing continued with spattering. Explosion rates varied from 1-17 per hour. Ejected material rose 80-150 m above the N crater and 150-250 m above the CS crater. Spattering was observed in the N crater. The average SO2 emissions measured 300-650 tons/day.

During January 2020, explosive activity mainly originated from three vents in the N crater and at least three vents in the CS crater. Ejecta from numerous Strombolian explosions covered the slopes on the upper Sciara del Fuoco, some of which rolled hundreds of meters down toward the coast. Explosion rates varied from 2-12 per hour in the N crater and 9-14 per hour in the CS crater; ejected material rose 80-200 m above the craters. According to INGV, a small cone growing in the S1 crater produced some explosions that ejected coarse material mixed with fine ash. On 18 and 19 January a lava flow was observed, both of which originated in the N crater. In addition, two explosions were detected in the N crater that was associated with two landslide events.

Explosive activity in February primarily originated from 2-3 eruptive vents in the N crater and at least three vents in the CS crater (figure 177). The Strombolian explosions ejected material 80-250 m above the craters, some of which fell onto the upper part of the Sciara. Explosion rates varied from 3-12 per hour in the N crater and 2-14 per hour in the CS crater (figure 178). On 3 February a short-lived lava flow was reported in the N crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 177. A drone image showed spattering accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions at Stromboli rising above the N crater on 15 February 2020. Courtesy of INGV (Rep. No. 08/2020, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 10/02/2020 - 16/02/2020, data emissione 18/02/2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 178. a) Strombolian explosions during the week of 17-23 February 2020 in the N1 crater of Stromboli were seen from Pizzo Sopra La Fossa. b) Spattering at Stromboli accompanied by white gas-and-steam emissions was detected in the N1 and S2 craters during the week of 17-23 February 2020. c) Spattering at Stromboli accompanied by a dense ash plume was seen in the N1 and S2 craters during the week of 17-23 February 2020. All photos by F. Ciancitto, courtesy of INGV (Rep. No. 09/2020, Stromboli, Bollettino Settimanale, 17/02/2020 - 23/02/2020, data emissione 25/02/2020).

Ongoing explosive activity continued into March, originating from three eruptive vents in the N crater and at least three vents in the CS crater. Ejected lapilli and bombs rose 80-250 m above the craters resulting in fallout covering the slopes in the upper Sciara del Fuoco with blocks rolling down the slopes toward the coast and explosions varied from 4-13 per hour in the N crater and 1-16 per hour in the CS crater. Discontinuous spattering was observed during 9-19 March. On 19 March, intense spattering was observed in the N crater, which produced a lava flow that stretched along the upper part of the Sciara for a few hundred meters. Another lava flow was detected in the N crater on 28 March for about 4 hours into 29 March, which resulted in incandescent blocks breaking off the front of the flow and rolling down the slope of the volcano. On 30 March a lava flow originated from the N crater and remained active until the next day on 31 March. Landslides accompanied by incandescent blocks rolling down the Sciara del Fuoco were also observed.

Strombolian activity accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions continued into April, primarily produced in 3-4 eruptive vents in the N crater and 2-3 vents in the CS crater. Ejected material from these explosions rose 80-250 m above the craters, resulting in fallout products covering the slopes on the Sciara and blocks rolling down the slopes. Explosions varied from 4-15 per hour in the N crater and 1-10 per hour in the CS crater. On 1 April a thermal anomaly was detected in satellite imagery accompanied by gas-and-steam and ash emissions downstream of the Sciara del Fuoco. A lava flow was observed on 15 April in the N crater accompanied by gas-and-steam and ash emissions; at the front of the flow incandescent blocks detached and rolled down the Sciara (figure 179). This flow continued until 16 April, ending by 0956; a thermal anomaly persisted downslope from the lava flow. Spatter was ejected tens of meters from the vent. Another lava flow was detected on 19 April in the N crater, followed by detached blocks from the front of the flow rolling down the slopes. Spattering continued during 20-21 April.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 179. A webcam image of an ash plume accompanied by blocks ejected from Stromboli on 15 April 2020 rolling down the Sciara del Fuoco. Courtesy of INGV via Facebook posted on 15 April 2020.

Moderate thermal activity occurred frequently during 16 October to April 2020 as recorded in the MIROVA Log Radiative Power graph using MODIS infrared satellite information (figure 180). The MODVOLC thermal alerts recorded a total of 14 thermal signatures over the course of nine different days between late February and mid-April. Many of these thermal signatures were captured as hotspots in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery in both summit craters (figure 181).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 180. Low to moderate thermal activity at Stromboli occurred frequently during 16 October-April 2020 as shown in the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power). Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 181. Thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) at Stromboli were observed in thermal satellite imagery from both of the summit vents throughout January-April 2020. Images with Atmospheric Penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

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


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

Nevado del Ruiz

Colombia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava dome confirmed inside Arenas crater; intermittent thermal anomalies and ash emissions, January-June 2020

Columbia’s broad, glacier-capped Nevado del Ruiz has an eruption history documented back 8,600 years, and historical observations since 1570. It’s profound notoriety stems from an eruption on 13 November 1985 that produced an ash plume and pyroclastic flows onto the glacier, triggering large lahars that washed down 11 valleys, inundating most severely the towns of Armero (46 km W) and Chinchiná (34 km E) where approximately 25,000 residents were killed. It remains the second deadliest volcanic eruption of the 20th century after Mt. Pelee killed 28,000 in 1902. Ruiz remained quiet for 20 years after the September 1985-July 1991 eruption until a new explosive event occurred in February 2012; a series of explosive events lasted into 2013. Renewed activity beginning in November 2014 included ash and gas-and-steam plumes, ashfall, and the appearance of a lava dome inside the Arenas crater in August 2015 which has regularly displayed thermal anomalies through 2019. This report covers ongoing activity from January-June 2020 using information primarily from reports by the Servicio Geologico Colombiano (SGC) and the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales, the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) notices, and various sources of satellite data.

Gas and ash emissions continued at Nevado del Ruiz throughout January-June 2020; they generally rose to 5.8-6.1 km altitude with the highest reported plume at 7 km altitude during early March. SGC confirmed the presence of the growing lava dome inside Arenas crater during an overflight in January; infrared satellite imagery indicated a continued heat source from the dome through April. SGC interpreted repeated episodes of ‘drumbeat seismicity’ as an indication of continued dome growth throughout the period. Small- to moderate-density sulfur dioxide emissions were measured daily with satellite instruments. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity indicated a heat source consistent with a growing dome from January through April (figure 102).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity at Nevado del Ruiz from 2 July 2019 through June 2020 indicated persistent thermal anomalies from mid-November 2019-April 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during January-March 2020. During January 2020 some of the frequent tremor seismic events were associated with gas and ash emissions, and several episodes of “drumbeat” seismicity were recorded; they have been related by SGC to the growth of the lava dome on the floor of the Arenas crater. An overflight on 10 January, with the support of the Columbian Air Force, confirmed the presence of the dome which was first proposed in August 2015 (BGVN 42:06) (figure 103). The Arenas crater had dimensions of 900 x 980 m elongate to the SW-NE and was about 300 m deep (figure 104). The dome inside the crater was estimated to be 173 m in diameter and 60 m high with an approximate volume of 1,500,000 m3 (figures 105 and 106). In addition to the dome, the scientists also noted ash deposits on the summit ice cap (figure 107). The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume on 19 January that rose to 5.5 km altitude and drifted SW, dissipating quickly. On 30 January they reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery extending 15 km NW from the summit at 5.8 km altitude. A single MODVOLC alert was issued on 15 January and data from the VIIRS satellite instrument reported thermal anomalies inside the summit crater on 14 days of the month. Sulfur dioxide plumes with DU values greater than 2 were recorded by the TROPOMI satellite instrument daily during the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. SGC confirmed the presence of a lava dome inside the Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz on 10 January 2020. The dome is shown in brown, and zones of fumarolic activity are labelled around the dome. Courtesy of SGC (El Nuevo Domo de Lava del Volcán Nevado del Ruiz y la Geomorfología Actual del Cráter Arenas 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. A view of the Arenas crater at the summit of Nevado del Ruiz on 10 January 2020 (left) is compared with a view from 2010 (right). They were both taken during overflights supported by the Colombian Air Force (FAC). Ash deposits on the ice fields are visible in both images. Fumarolic activity rises from the inner walls of the crater in January 2020. Courtesy of SGC (El Nuevo Domo de Lava del Volcán Nevado del Ruiz y la Geomorfología Actual del Cráter Arenas 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. The dome inside the Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz appeared dark against the crater rim and ash-covered ice field on 10 January 2020. Features observed include (A) the edge of the Arenas crater, (B) a secondary crater 150 m in diameter located to the west, (C) interior cornices, (D) the lava dome, (E) a depression in the center of the dome caused by possible subsidence and cooling of the lava, (F) a source of gas and ash emission with a diameter of approximately 15 m (secondary crater), and (G, H, and I) several sources of gas emission located around the crater. Courtesy of SGC (El Nuevo Domo de Lava del Volcán Nevado del Ruiz y la Geomorfología Actual del Cráter Arenas 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Images of the summit of Nevado del Ruiz captured by the PlanetScope satellite system on 14 March 2018 (A) and 10 January 2020 (B) show the lava dome at the bottom of Arenas crater. Courtesy Planet Lab Inc. and SGC (El Nuevo Domo de Lava del Volcán Nevado del Ruiz y la Geomorfología Actual del Cráter Arenas 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. Ash covered the snow and ice field around the Arenas crater at the summit of Nevado del Ruiz on 10 January 2020. The lava dome is the dark area on the right. Courtesy of SGC (posted on Twitter @sgcol).

The Washington VAAC reported multiple ash plumes during February 2020. On 4 February an ash plume was observed in satellite imagery drifting 35 km W from the summit at 5.8 km altitude. The following day a plume rose to 6.1 km altitude and extended 37 km W from the summit before dissipating by the end of the day (figure 108). On 6 February an ash cloud was observed in satellite imagery centered 45 km W of the summit at 5.8 km altitude. Although it had dissipated by midday, a hotspot remained in shortwave imagery until the evening. Late in the day another plume rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted W. Diffuse ash was seen in satellite imagery on 13 February fanning towards the W at 5.8 km altitude. On 18 February at 1720 UTC the Bogota Meteorological Weather Office (MWO) reported an ash emission drifting NW at 5.8 km altitude; a second plume was reported a few hours later at the same altitude. Intermittent emissions continued the next day at 5.8-6.1 km altitude that reached as far as 50 km NW before dissipating. A plume on 21 February rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted W (figure 109). Occasional emissions on 25 February at the same altitude reached 25 km SW of the summit before dissipating. A discrete ash emission around 1550 UTC on 26 February rose to 6.1 km altitude and drifted W. Two similar plumes were reported the next day. On 28 and 29 February plumes rose to 5.8 km altitude and drifted W.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. Emissions rose from the Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz on 5 February 2020. The Washington VAAC reported an ash plume that day that rose to 6.1 km altitude and drifted 37 km W before dissipating. Courtesy of Camilo Cupitre.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. Emissions rose from the Arenas crater at Nevado del Ruiz around 0600 on 21 February 2020. The Washington VAAC reported ash emissions that day that rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted W. Courtesy of Manuel MR.

SGC reported several episodes of drumbeat type seismicity on 2, 8, 9, and 27 February which they attributed to effusion related to the growing lava dome in the summit crater. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed ring-shaped thermal anomalies characteristic of dome growth within Arenas crater several times during January and February (figure 110). The VIIRS satellite instrument recorded thermal anomalies on twelve days during February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. Persistent thermal anomalies from Sentinel-2 satellite imagery during January and February 2020 suggested that the lava dome inside Nevado del Ruiz’s Arenas crater was still actively growing. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

On 4, 14, and 19 March 2020 thermal anomalies were visible in Sentinel-2 satellite data from within the Arenas crater. Thermal anomalies were recorded by the VIIRS satellite instrument on eight days during the month. Several episodes of drumbeat seismicity were recorded during the first half of the month and on 30-31 March. Distinct SO2 plumes with DU values greater than 2 were recorded by the TROPOMI satellite instrument daily throughout February and March (figure 111). The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission on 1 March that rose to 5.8 km altitude and drifted NW; it was centered 15 km from the summit when detected in satellite imagery. The next day a plume was seen in satellite imagery moving SW at 7.0 km altitude, extending nearly 40 km from the summit. Additional ash emissions were reported on 4, 14, 15, 21, 28, 29, and 31 March; the plumes rose to 5.8-6.7 km altitude and drifted generally W, some reaching 45 km from the summit before dissipating.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. Distinct SO2 plumes with Dobson values (DU) greater than 2 were recorded by the TROPOMI satellite instrument daily during February and March 2020. Ecuador’s Sangay produced smaller but distinct plumes most of the time as well. Dates are shown at the top of each image. Courtesy of NASA’s Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Activity during April-June 2020. The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission that rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted W on 1 April 2020. On 2 April, emission plumes were visible from the community of Tena in the Cundinamarca municipality which is located 100 km ESE (figure 112). The unusually clear skies were attributed to the reduction in air pollution in nearby Bogota resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic quarantine. On 4 April the Bogota MWO reported an emission drifting SW at 5.8 km altitude. An ash plume on 8 April rose to 6.7 km altitude and drifted W. On 25 April the last reported ash plume from the Washington VAAC for the period rose to 6.1 km altitude and was observed in satellite imagery moving W at 30 km from the summit; after that, only steam and gas emissions were observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. On the evening of 2 April 2020, emission plumes from Nevado del Ruiz were visible from Santa Bárbara village in Tena, Cundinamarca municipality which is located 100 km ESE. The unusually clear skies were attributed to the reduction in air pollution in the nearby city of Bogota resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic quarantine. Photo by Williama Garcia, courtesy of Semana Sostenible (3 April 2020).

Distinct SO2 plumes with DU values greater than 2 were recorded by the TROPOMI satellite instrument daily throughout the month. On 13 April, a Sentinel-2 thermal image showed a hot spot inside the Arenas crater largely obscured by steam and clouds. Cloudy images through May and June prevented observation of additional thermal anomalies in satellite imagery, but the VIIRS thermal data indicated anomalies on 3, 4, and 26 April. SGC reported low-energy episodes of drumbeat seismicity on 4, 9, 10, 12, 15, 16, 20, and 23 April which they interpreted as related to growth of the lava dome inside the Arenas crater. The seismic events were located 1.5-2.0 km below the floor of the crater.

Small emissions of ash and gas were reported by SGC during May 2020 and the first half of June, with the primary drift direction being NW. Gas and steam plumes rose 560-1,400 m above the summit during May and June (figure 113). Drumbeat seismicity was reported a few times each month. Sulfur dioxide emissions continued daily; increased SO2 activity was recorded during 10-13 June (figure 114).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 113. Gas and steam plumes rose 560-1,400 m above the summit of Nevado del Ruiz during May and June 2020, including in the early morning of 11 June. Courtesy of Carlos-Enrique Ruiz.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 114. Increased SO2 activity during 10-13 June 2020 at Nevado del Ruiz was recorded by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite. Sangay also emitted SO2 on those days. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

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

Information Contacts: El Servicio Geológico Colombiano (SGC), Diagonal 53 No. 34-53 - Bogotá D.C., Colombia (URL: https://www.sgc.gov.co/volcanes, https://twitter.com/sgcol); 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/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Camilo Cupitre (URL: https://twitter.com/Ccupitre/status/1225207439701704709); Manuel MR (URL: https://twitter.com/ElPlanetaManuel/status/1230837262088384512); Semana Sostenible (URL: https://sostenibilidad.semana.com/actualidad/articulo/fumarola-del-nevado-del-ruiz-fue-captada-desde-tena-cundinamarca/49597); Carlos-Enrique Ruiz (URL: https://twitter.com/Aleph43/status/1271800027841794049).


Asosan (Japan) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Daily ash emissions continue through mid-June 2020 when activity decreases

Japan's 24-km-wide Asosan caldera on the island of Kyushu has been active throughout the Holocene. Nakadake has been the most active of 17 central cones for 2,000 years; all historical activity is from Nakadake Crater 1. The largest ash plume in 20 years occurred on 8 October 2016. Asosan remained quiet until renewed activity from Crater 1 began in mid-April 2019; explosions with ash plumes continued through the first half of 2020 and are covered in this report. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) provides monthly reports of activity; the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) issues aviation alerts reporting on possible ash plumes, and Sentinel-2 satellite images provide data on ash emissions and thermal activity.

The Tokyo VAAC issued multiple daily reports of ash plumes from Nakadake Crater 1 from 1 January-14 June 2020. They were commonly at 1.8-2.1 km altitude, and often drifted E or S. JMA reported that ashfall continued downwind from the ash plumes until mid-June; seismic activity was relatively high during January and February and decreased steadily after that time. The measured SO2 emissions ranged from 1,000-4,900 tons per day through mid-June and dropped to 500 tons per day during the second half of June. Intermittent thermal activity was recorded at the crater through mid-May.

Explosive activity during January-June 2020. Ash plumes rose up to 1.1 km above the crater rim at Nakadake Crater 1 during January 2020 (figure 70). Ashfall was confirmed downwind of an explosion on 7 January. During February, ash plumes rose up to 1.7 km above the crater, and ashfall was again reported downwind. The crater camera provided by the Aso Volcano Museum occasionally observed incandescence at the floor of the crater during both months. Incandescence was also occasionally observed with the Kusasenri webcam (3 km W) and was seen on 20 February from a webcam in Minamiaso village (8 km SW).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. Ash plumes rose up to 1.1 km above the Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan during January 2020 (left) and up to 1.7 km above the crater during February 2020 (right) as seen in these images from the Kusasenri webcam. Ashfall was reported downwind multiple times. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material for Mt. Aso, January and February 2020).

During March 2020, ash plumes rose as high as 1.3 km. Ashfall was reported on 9 March in Ichinomiyamachi, Aso City (figure 71). In field surveys conducted on the 18th and 25th, there was no visible water inside the crater, and high-temperature grayish-white plumes were observed. The temperature at the base of the plume was measured at 300°C (figure 72).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Ashfall from Asosan appeared on 9 March 2020 in Ichinomiyamachi, Aso City around 10 km N. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material for Mt. Aso, March 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. During a field survey of Nakadake Crater 1 at Asosan on 25 March 2020, JMA staff observed a gray ash plume rising from the crater floor (left). The maximum temperature of the ash plume was measured at about 300°C with an infrared thermal imaging device (right). Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material for Mt. Aso, March 2020).

Occasional incandescence was observed at the bottom of the crater during April and May 2020; ash plumes rose 1.1 km above the crater on most days in April and were slightly higher, rising to 1.8 km during May, although activity was more intermittent (figure 73). A brief increase in SO2 activity was reported by JMA during field surveys on 7 and 8 May; satellite data captured small plumes of SO2 on 1 and 6 May (figure 74). A brief increase in tremor amplitude was reported by JMA on 16 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Although activity at Asosan’s Nakadake Crater 1 was more intermittent during April and May 2020 than earlier in the year, ash plumes were still reported most days and incandescence was seen at the bottom of the crater multiple times until 15 May. Left image taken 11 May 2020 from the Kusachiri webcam; right image taken from the crater webcam on 10 May provided by the Aso Volcano Museum. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material for Mt. Aso, May 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. The TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite detected small but distinct SO2 plumes from Asosan on 1 and 6 May 2020. Additional small plumes are visible from Aira caldera’s Sakurajima volcano. Courtesy of NASA’s Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

The last report of ash emissions at Nakadake Crater 1 from the Tokyo VAAC was on 14 June 2020. JMA also reported that no eruption was observed after mid-June. On 8 June they reported an ash plume that rose 1.4 km above the crater. During a field survey on 16 June, only steam was observed at the crater; the plume rose about 100 m (figure 75). In addition, a small plume of steam rose from a fumarole on the S crater wall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. A steam plume rose about 100 m from the floor of Nakadake Crater 1 on 16 June 2020. A small steam plume was also observed by the S crater wall. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity commentary material for Mt. Aso, June 2020).

Thermal activity during January-June 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite data indicated thermal anomalies present at Nakadake Crater 1 on 2 January, 6 and 21 February, 16 April, and 11 May (figure 76). In addition, thermal anomalies from agricultural fires appeared in satellite images on 11 February, 7 and 17 March (figure 77). The fires were around 5 km from the crater, thus they appear on the MIROVA thermal anomaly graph in black, but are likely unrelated to volcanic activity (figure 78). No thermal anomalies were recorded in satellite data from the Nakadake Crater 1 after 11 May, and none appeared in the MIROVA data as well.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Thermal anomalies appeared at Asosan’s Nakadake Crater 1 on 2 January, 6 and 21 February, 16 April and 11 May 2020. On 2 January a small ash plume drifted SSE from the crater (left). On 6 February a dense ash plume drifted S from the crater (center). Only a small steam plume was visible above the crater on 21 February (right). Images use Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Thermal anomalies from agricultural fires located about 5 km from the crater appeared in satellite images on 11 February, and 7 and 17 March 2020. Although a dense ash plume drifted SSE from the crater on 11 February (left), no thermal anomalies appear at the crater on these dates. Images use Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. The MIROVA project plot of Log Radiative Power at Asosan from 29 June 2019 through June 2020 shows only a few small thermal alerts within 5 km of the summit crater during January-June 2020, and a spike in activity during February and March located around 5 km away. These data correlate well with the Sentinel-2 satellite data that show intermittent thermal anomalies at the summit throughout January-May and agricultural fires located several kilometers from the crater during February and March. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Aira (Japan) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Near-daily explosions with ash plumes continue, large block ejected 3 km from Minamidake crater on 4 June 2020

Sakurajima rises from Kagoshima Bay, which fills the Aira Caldera near the southern tip of Japan's Kyushu Island. Frequent explosive and occasional effusive activity has been ongoing for centuries. The Minamidake summit cone has been the location of persistent activity since 1955; the adjacent Showa crater on its E flank has also been intermittently active since 2006. Numerous explosions and ash-bearing emissions have been occurring each month at either Minamidake or Showa crater since the latest eruptive episode began in late March 2017. This report covers ongoing activity at Minamidake from January through June 2020; the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) provides regular reports on activity, and the Tokyo VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center) issues tens of reports each month about the frequent ash plumes.

Activity continued during January-June 2020 at Minamidake crater with tens of explosions each month. The Tokyo VAAC issued multiple daily reports of ash emissions during January and February. Less activity occurred during the first half of March but picked up again with multiple daily reports from mid-March through mid-April. Emissions were more intermittent but continued through early June, when activity decreased significantly. JMA reported explosions with ash plumes rising 2.5-4.2 km above the summit, and ejecta traveling generally up to 1,700 m from the crater, although a big explosion in early June send a large block of tephra 3 km from the crater (table 23). Thermal anomalies were visible in satellite imagery on a few days most months and were persistent in the MIROVA thermal anomaly data from November 2019 through early June 2020 (figure 94). Incandescence was often visible at night in the webcams through early June; the Showa crater remained quiet throughout the period.

Table 23. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Sakurajima's Minamidake crater within the Aira Caldera, January through June 2020. The number of events that were explosive in nature are in parentheses. No events were recorded at the Showa crater during this time. Ashfall is measured at the Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory (KLMO), 10 km W of Showa crater. Data courtesy of JMA (January to June 2020 monthly reports).

Month Ash emissions (explosive) Max plume height above crater Max ejecta distance from crater Total amount of ashfall (g/m2) Total ashfall previous month
Jan 2020 104 (65) 2.5 km 1,700 m 75 (12 days) 280,000 tons
Feb 2020 129 (67) 2.6 km 1,800 m 21 (14 days) 230,000 tons
Mar 2020 26 (10) 3.0 km 1,700 m 3 (8 days) 360,000 tons
Apr 2020 51 (14) 3.8 km 1,700 m less than 0.5 (2 days) 160,000 tons
May 2020 51 (24) 4.2 km 1,300 m 19 (8 days) 280,000 tons
Jun 2020 28 (16) 3.7 km 3,000 m 71 (9 days) 150,000 tons
Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Persistent thermal anomalies were recorded in the MIROVA thermal energy data for the period from 2 July 2019 through June 2020. Thermal activity increased in October 2019 and remained steady through May 2020, decreasing abruptly at the beginning of June. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Explosions continued at Minamidake crater during January 2020 with 65 ash plumes reported. The highest ash plume rose 2.5 km above the crater on 30 January, and incandescent ejecta reached up to 1,700 m from the Minamidake crater on 22 and 29 January (figure 95). Slight inflation of the volcano since September 2019 continued to be measured with inclinometers and extensometers on Sakurajima Island. Field surveys conducted on 15, 20, and 31 January measured the amount of sulfur dioxide gas released as very high at 3,400-4,700 tons per day, as compared with 1,000-3,000 tons in December 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. An explosion at the Minamidake summit crater of Aira’s Sakurajima volcano on 29 January 2020 produced an ash plume that rose 2.5 km above the crater rim and drifted SE (left). On 22 January incandescent ejecta reached 1,700 m from the summit during explosive events. Courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, January 2020).

About the same number of explosions produced ash plumes during February 2020 (67) as in January (65) (figure 96). On 10 February a large block was ejected 1,800 m from the crater, the first to reach that far since 5 February 2016. The tallest plume, on 26 February rose 2.6 km above the crater. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery indicated two distinct thermal anomalies within the Minamidake crater on both 1 and 6 February (figure 97). Activity diminished during March 2020 with only 10 explosions out of 26 eruptive events. On 21 March a large bomb reached 1,700 m from the crater. The tallest ash plume rose 3 km above the crater on 17 March. Scientists noted during an overflight on 16 March that a small steam plume was rising from the inner wall on the south side of the Showa crater; a larger steam plume rose to 300 m above the Minamidake crater and drifted S (figure 98). Sulfur dioxide emissions were similar in February (1,900 to 3,100 tons) and March (1,300 to 3,400 tons per day).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. An ash plume rose from the Minamidake crater at the summit of Aira’s Sakurajima volcano on 6 February 2020 at 1752 local time, as seen looking S from the Kitadake crater. Courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, February 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery revealed two distinct thermal anomalies within the Minamidake crater at Aira’s Sakurajima volcano on 1 and 6 February 2020. Images use Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. During an overflight of Aira’s Sakurajima volcano on 16 March 2020, JMA captured this view to the SW of the Kitadake crater on the right, the steam-covered Minamidake crater in the center, and the smaller Showa crater on the left adjacent to Minamidake. Courtesy of JMA and the Maritime Self-Defense Force 1st Air Group P-1 (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, March 2020).

During April 2020, ejecta again reached as far as 1,700 m from the crater; 14 explosions were identified from the 51 reported eruptive events, an increase from March. The tallest plume, on 4 April, rose 3.8 km above the crater (figure 99). The same number of eruptive events occurred during May 2020, but 24 were explosive in nature. A large plume on 9 May rose to 4.2 km above the rim of Minamidake crater, the tallest of the period (figure 100). On 20 May, incandescent ejecta reached 1,300 m from the summit. Sulfur dioxide emissions during April (1,700-2,100 tons per day) and May (1,200-2,700 tons per day) were slightly lower than previous months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. A large ash plume at Aira’s Sakurajima volcano rose from Minamidake crater at 1621 on 4 April 2020. The plume rose to 3.8 km above the crater and drifted SE. Courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, April 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. Activity continued at Aira’s Sakurajima volcano during May 2020. A large plume rose to 4.2 km above the summit and drifted N in the early morning of 9 May (left). The Kaigata webcam located at the Osumi River National Highway Office captured abundant incandescent ejecta reaching 1,300 m from the crater during the evening of 20 May. Courtesy of JMA (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, May 2020).

A major explosion on 4 June 2020 produced 137 Pa of air vibration at the Seto 2 observation point on Sakurajima Island. It was the first time that air vibrations exceeding 100 Pa have been observed at the Seto 2 station since the 21 May 2015 explosion at the Showa crater. The ash plume associated with the explosion rose 1.5 km above the crater rim. During an 8 June field survey conducted in Higashisakurajima-cho, Kagoshima City, a large impact crater believed to be associated with this explosion was located near the coast 3 km SSW from Minamidake. The crater formed by the ejected block was about 6 m in diameter and 2 m deep (figure 101); fragments found nearby were 10-20 cm in diameter (figure 102). A nearby roof was also damaged by the blocks. Smaller bombs were found in Kurokami-cho, Kagoshima City, around 4- 5 km E of Minamidake on 5 June; the largest fragment was 5 cm in diameter. Multiple ash plumes rose to 3 km or more above the summit during the first ten days of June; explosions on 4 and 5 June reached 3.7 km above the crater (figure 103). Larger than normal inflation and deflation before and after the explosions was recorded during early June in the inclinometers and extensometers located on the island. Incandescence at the summit was observed at night through the first half of June. The Tokyo VAAC issued multiple daily ash advisories during 1-10 June after which activity declined abruptly. Two brief explosions on 23 June and one on 28 June were the only two additional ash explosions reported in June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. A large crater measuring 6 m wide and 2 m deep was discovered 3 km from the Minamidake crater in Higashisakurajima, part of Kagoshima City, on 8 June 2020. It was believed to be from the impact of a large block ejected during the 4 June explosion at Aira’s Sakurajima volcano. Photo courtesy of Kagoshima City and JMA (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, June 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. Fragments 10-30 cm in diameter from a large bomb that traveled 3 km from Minamidake crater on Sakurajima were found a few days after the 4 June 2020 explosion at Aira. Courtesy of JMA, photo courtesy of Kagoshima City (Sakurajima Volcanic Activity Commentary, June 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. An ash plume rose 3.7 km above the Minamidake crater at Aira’s Sakurajima volcano on 5 June 2020 and was recorded in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery. Image uses Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub playground.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); 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).


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

Nevados de Chillan

Chile

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions and pyroclastic flows continue; new dome emerges from Nicanor crater in June 2020

Nevados de Chillán is a complex of late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcanoes in the Chilean Central Andes. An eruption started with a phreatic explosion and ash emission on 8 January 2016 from a new crater (Nicanor) on the E flank of the Nuevo crater, itself on the NW flank of the large Volcán Viejo stratovolcano. Strombolian explosions and ash emissions continued throughout 2016 and 2017; a lava dome within the Nicanor crater was confirmed in early January 2018. Explosions and pyroclastic flows continued during 2018 and 2019, with several lava flows appearing in late 2019. This report covers continuing activity from January-June 2020 when ongoing explosive events produced ash plumes, pyroclastic flows, and the growth of new dome inside the crater. Information for this report is provided primarily by Chile's Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN)-Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), and by the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Explosions with ash plumes rising up to three kilometers above the summit area were intermittent from late January through early June 2020. Some of the larger explosions produced pyroclastic flows that traveled down multiple flanks. Thermal anomalies within the Nicanor crater were recorded in satellite data several times each month from February through June. A reduction in overall activity led SERNAGEOMIN to lower the Alert Level from Orange to Yellow (on a 4-level, Green-Yellow-Orange-Red scale) during the first week of March, although tens of explosions with ash plumes were still recorded during March and April. Explosive activity diminished in early June and SERNAGEOMIN reported the growth of a new dome inside the Nicanor crater. By the end of June, a new flow had extended about 100 m down the N flank. Thermal activity recorded by the MIROVA project showed a drop in thermal energy in mid-December 2019 after the lava flows of September-November stopped advancing. A decrease in activity in January and February 2020 was followed by an increase in thermal and explosive activity in March and April. Renewed thermal activity from the growth of a new dome inside the Nicanor crater was recorded beginning in mid-June (figure 52).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. MIROVA thermal anomaly data for Nevados de Chillan from 8 September 2019 through June 2020 showed a drop in thermal activity in mid-December 2019 after the lava flows of September-November stopped advancing. A decrease in activity in January and February 2020 was followed by an increase in explosive activity in March and April. Renewed thermal activity from the growth of a new dome inside the Nicanor crater was recorded beginning in mid-June. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Weak gas emissions were reported daily during January 2020 until a series of explosions began on the 21st. The first explosion rose 100 m above the active crater; the following day, the highest explosion rose 1.6 km above the crater. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported pulse emissions visible in satellite imagery on 21 and 24 January that rose to 3.9-4.3 km altitude and drifted SE and NE, respectively. Intermittent explosions continued through 26 January. Incandescent ejecta was observed during the night of 28-29 January. The VAAC reported an isolated emission on 29 January that rose to 5.2 km altitude and drifted E. A larger explosion on 30 January produced an ash plume that SERNAGEOMIN reported at 3.4 km above the crater (figure 53). It produced pyroclastic flows that traveled down ravines on the NNE and SE flanks. The Washington VAAC reported on behalf of the Buenos Aires VAAC that an emission was observed in satellite imagery on 30 January that rose to 4.9 km altitude and was moving rapidly E, reaching 15 km from the summit at midday. The altitude of the ash plume was revised two hours later to 7.3 km, drifting NNE and rapidly dissipating. Satellite images identified two areas of thermal anomalies within the Nicanor crater that day. One was the same emission center (CE4) identified in November 2019, and the second was a new emission center (CE5) located 60 m NW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. A significant explosion and ash plume from the Nicanor crater at Nevados de Chillan on 30 January 2020 produced an ash plume reported at 7.3 km altitude. The left image was taken within one minute of the initial explosion. Images posted by Twitter accounts #EmergenciasÑuble (left) and T13 (right); original photographers unknown.

When the weather permitted, low-altitude mostly white degassing was seen during February 2020, often with traces of fine-grained particulate material. Incandescence at the crater was observed overnight during 4-5 February. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported an emission on 14 February visible in the webcam. The next day, an emission was visible in satellite imagery at 3.9 km altitude that drifted E. Episodes of pulsating white and gray plumes were first observed by SERNAGEOMIN beginning on 18 February and continued through 25 February (figure 54). The Buenos Aires VAAC reported pulses of ash emissions moving SE on 18 February at 4.3 km altitude. Ash drifted E the next day at 3.9 km altitude and a faint plume was briefly observed on 20 February drifting N at 3.7 km altitude before dissipating. Sporadic pulses of ash moved SE from the volcano on 22 February at 4.3 km altitude, briefly observed in satellite imagery before dissipating. Thermal anomalies were visible from the Nicanor crater in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 23 and 28 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. An ash emission at Nevados de Chillan on 18 February 2020 was captured in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery drifting SE (left). Thermal anomalies within the Nicanor crater were measured on 23 (right) and 28 February. Images use Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Only low-altitude degassing of mostly steam was reported for the first half of March 2020. When SERNAGEOMIN lowered the Alert Level from Orange to Yellow on 5 March, they reduced the affected area from 5 km NE and 3 km SW of the crater to a radius of 2 km around the active crater. Thermal anomalies were recorded at the Nicanor crater in Sentinel-2 imagery on 4, 9, 11, 16, and 19 March (figure 55). A new series of explosions began on 19 March; 44 events were recorded during the second half of the month (figure 56). Webcams captured multiple explosions with dense ash plumes; on 25 and 30 March the plumes rose more than 2 km above the crater. Fine-grained ashfall occurred in Las Trancas (10 km SW) on 25 March. Pyroclastic flows on 25 and 30 March traveled 300 m NE, SE, and SW from the crater. Incandescence was observed at night multiple times after 20 March. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported several discrete pulses of ash that rose to 4.3 km altitude and drifted SE on 20 and 21 March, SW on 25 March, and SE on 29 and 30 March. Another ash emission rose to 5.5 km altitude later on 30 March and drifted SE.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Sentinel-2 Satellite imagery of Nevados de Chillan during March 2020 showed thermal anomalies on five different dates at the Nicanor crater, including on 9, 11, and 16 March. A second thermal anomaly of unknown origin was also visible on 11 March about 2 km SW of the crater (center). Images use Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Forty-four explosive events were recorded at Nevados de Chillan during the second half of March 2020 including on 19 March. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN webcams and chillanonlinenoticia.

In their semi-monthly reports for April 2020, SERNAGEOMIN reported 94 explosive events during the first half of the month and 49 during the second half; many produced dense ash plumes. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported frequent intermittent ash emissions during 1-13 April reaching altitudes of 3.7-4.3 km (figure 57). They reported the plume on 8 April visible in satellite imagery at 7.3 km altitude drifting SE. An emission on 13 April was also visible in satellite imagery at 6.1 km altitude drifting NE.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery captured a strong thermal anomaly and an ash plume drifting SE from Nevados de Chillan on 10 April 2020. Image uses Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During the second half of April 2020, SERNAGEOMIN reported that only one plume exceeded 2 km in height; on 21 April, it rose to 2.4 km above the crater (figure 58). The Buenos Aires VAAC reported isolated pulses of ash on 18, 26, 28, and 30 April. During the second half of April SERNAGEOMIN also reported that a pyroclastic flow traveled about 1,200 m from the crater rim down the SE flank. The ash from the pyroclastic flow drifted SE and S as far as 3.5 km. Satellite images showed continued activity from multiple emission centers around the crater. Pronounced scarps were noted on the internal walls of the crater, attributed to the deepening of the crater from explosive activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Tens of explosions were reported at Nevados de Chillan during the second half of April 2020 that produced dense ash plumes. The plume on 21 April rose 2.4 km above the Nicanor crater. Photo by Josefa Carrasco Acuña from San Fabián de Alico; posted by Noticias Valpo Express.

Intermittent explosive activity continued during May 2020. The plumes contained abundant particulate material and were accompanied by periodic pyroclastic flows and incandescent ejecta around the active crater, especially visible at night. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported several sporadic weak ash emissions during the first week of May that rose to 3.7-5.2 km altitude and drifted NE. SERNAGEOMIN reported that only one explosion produced an ash emission that rose more than two km above the crater during the first two weeks of the month; on 6 May it rose to 2.5 km above the crater and drifted NE. They also observed pyroclastic flows on the E and SE flanks that day. Additional pyroclastic flows traveled 450 m down the S flank during the first half of the month, and similar deposits were observed to the N and NE. Satellite observations showed various emission points along the NW-trending lineament at the summit and multiple erosion scarps. Major erosion was noted at the NE rim of the crater along with an increase in degassing around the rim.

During the second half of May 2020 most of the ash plumes rose less than 2 km above the crater; a plume from one explosion on 22 May rose 2.2 km above the crater; the Buenos Aires VAAC reported the plume at 5.5 km altitude drifting NW (figure 59). Continuing pyroclastic emissions deposited material as far as 1.5 km from the crater rim on the NNW flank. There were also multiple pyroclastic deposits up to 500 m from the crater directed N and NE during the period. SERNAGEOMIN reported an increase in steam degassing between Nuevo-Nicanor and Nicanor-Arrau craters.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Explosions produced dense ash plumes and pyroclastic flows at Nevados de Chillan multiple times during May 2020 including on 22 May. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

Webcam images during the first two weeks of June 2020 indicated multiple incandescent explosions. On 3 and 4 June plumes from explosions reached heights of over 1.25 km above the crater; the Buenos Aires VAAC reported them drifting NW at 3.9 km altitude. Incandescent ejecta on 6 June rose 760 m above the vent and drifted NE. In addition, pyroclastic flows were distributed on the N, NW, E and SE flanks. Significant daytime and nighttime incandescence was reported on 6, 9, and 10 June (figure 60). The VAAC reported emission pulses on 6 and 9 June drifting E and SE at 4.3 km altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Multiple ash plumes with incandescence were reported at Nevados de Chillan during the first ten days of June 2020 including on 6 June, after which explosive activity decreased significantly. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIIN and Sismo Alerta Mexicana.

SERNAGEOMIN reported that beginning on the afternoon of 9 June 2020 a tremor-type seismic signal was first recorded, associated with continuous emission of gas and dark gray ash that drifted SE (figure 61). A little over an hour later another tremor signal began that lasted for about four hours, followed by smaller discrete explosions. A hybrid-type earthquake in the early morning of 10 June was followed by a series of explosions that ejected gas and particulate matter from the active crater. The vent where the emissions occurred was located within the Nicanor crater close to the Arrau crater; it had been degassing since 30 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. A tremor-type seismic signal was first recorded on the afternoon of 9 June 2020 at Nevados de Chillan. It was associated with the continuous emission of gas and dark gray ash that drifted SE, and incandescent ejecta visible after dark. View is to the S, courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN webcam, posted by Volcanology Chile.

After the explosions on the afternoon of 9 June, a number of other nearby vents became active. In particular, the vent located between the Nuevo and Nicanor craters began emitting material for the first time during this eruptive cycle. The explosion also generated pyroclastic flows that traveled less than 50 m in multiple directions away from the vent. Abundant incandescent material was reported during the explosion early on 10 June. Deformation measurements showed inflation over the previous 12 days.

SERNAGEOMIN identified a surface feature in satellite imagery on 11 June 2020 that they interpreted as a new effusive lava dome. It was elliptical with dimensions of about 85 x 120 m. In addition to a thermal anomaly attributed to the dome, they noted three other thermal anomalies between the Nuevo, Arrau, and Nicanor craters. They reported that within four days the base of the active crater was filled with effusive material. Seismometers recorded tremor activity after 11 June that was interpreted as associated with lava effusion. Incandescent emissions were visible at night around the active crater. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery recorded a bright thermal anomaly inside the Nicanor crater on 14 June (figure 62).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. A bright thermal anomaly was recorded inside the Nicanor crater at Nevados de Chillan on 14 June 2020. SERNAGEOMIN scientists attributed it to the growth of a new lava dome within the crater. Image uses Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

A special report from SERNAGEOMIN on 24 June 2020 noted that vertical inflation had increased during the previous few weeks. After 20 June the inflation rate reached 2.49 cm/month, which was considered high. The accumulated inflation measured since July 2019 was 22.5 cm. Satellite imagery continued to show the growth of the dome, and SERNAGEOMIN scientists estimated that it reached the E edge of the Nicanor crater on 23 June. Based on these images, they estimated an eruptive rate of 0.1-0.3 m3/s, about two orders of magnitude faster than the Gil-Cruz dome that emerged between December 2018 and early 2019.

Webcams revealed continued low-level explosive activity and incandescence visible both during the day and at night. By the end of June, webcams recorded a lava flow that extended 94 m down the N flank from the Nicanor crater and continued to advance. Small explosions with abundant pyroclastic debris produced recurring incandescence at night. Satellite infrared imagery indicated thermal radiance from effusive material that covered an area of 37,000 m2, largely filling the crater. DEM analysis suggested that the size of the crater had tripled in volume since December 2019 due largely to erosion from explosive activity since May 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed a bright thermal anomaly inside the crater on 27 June.

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

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN), Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Avda Sta María No. 0104, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/, https://twitter.com/Sernageomin); 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/); 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); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); #EmergenciasÑuble (URL: https://twitter.com/urgenciasnuble/status/1222943399185207296); T13, Channel 13 Press Department (URL: https://twitter.com/T13/status/1222951071443771394); Chillanonlinenoticia (URL: https://twitter.com/ChillanOnline/status/1240754211932995595); Noticias Valpo Express (URL: https://twitter.com/NoticiasValpoEx/status/1252715033131388928); Sismo Alerta Mexicana (URL: https://twitter.com/Sismoalertamex/status/1269351579095691265); Volcanology Chile (URL: https://twitter.com/volcanologiachl/status/1270548008191643651).


Kerinci (Indonesia) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash emissions during January-early May 2020

Kerinci is a stratovolcano located in Sumatra, Indonesia that has been characterized by explosive eruptions with ash plumes and gas-and-steam emissions. The most recent eruptive episode began in April 2018 which has included intermittent explosions and ash plumes. The previous report (BGVN 44:12) described more recent activity consisting of intermittent gas-and-steam and ash plumes which occurred during June through early November 2019. This volcanism continued through May 2020, though little to no activity was reported during December 2019. The primary source of information for this report comes from Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM) and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC).

Activity during December 2019 consisted of white gas-and-steam emissions rising 100-500 m above the summit. White and brown emissions continued intermittently through May 2020, rising to a maximum altitude of 1 km above the summit on 14 April. During 3-6 and 8-9 January 2020, the Darwin VAAC and PVMBG issued notices reporting brown volcanic ash rising 150-600 m above the summit drifting S and ESE (figure 19). PVMBG published a VONA notice on 24 January at 0828 reporting ash rising 400 m above the summit. Brown emissions continued intermittently throughout the reporting period. On 1 February, volcanic ash was observed rising 300-960 m above the summit and drifting NE; PVMBG reported continuing brown emissions during 1-3 February. During 16-17 February, two VONA notices reported that brown ash plumes rose 150-400 m above the summit and drifted SW accompanied by consistent white gas-and-steam emissions (figure 20).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Brown ash plume rose 500-600 m above Kerinci on 4 January 2020. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia via Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. White gas-and-steam emissions rose 400 m above Kerinci on 19 February 2020. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia via Øystein Lund Andersen.

During 1-16 and 25-26 March 2020 brown ash emissions were frequently observed rising 100-500 m above the summit drifting in multiple directions. During 6-8 and 10-15, April brown ash emissions were reported 50-1,000 m above the summit. The most recent Darwin VAAC and VONA notices were published on 14 April, reporting volcanic ash rising 400 and 600 m above the summit, respectively; however, PVMBG reported brown emissions rising up to 1,000 m. By 25-27 April brown ash emissions rose 50-300 m above the summit. Intermittent white gas-and-steam emissions continued through May. The last brown emissions seen in May were reported on the 7th rising 50-100 m above the summit.

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

Information Contacts: 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/); 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/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Øystein Lund Andersen (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: http://www.oysteinlundandersen.com, images at https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse/status/1213658331564269569/photo/1 and https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse/status/1230419965209018369/photo/1).


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

Tinakula

Solomon Islands

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent small thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam plumes during January-June 2020

Tinakula is a remote stratovolcano located 100 km NE of the Solomon Trench at the N end of the Santa Cruz. In 1971, an eruption with lava flows and ash explosions caused the small population to evacuate the island. Volcanism has previously been characterized by an ash explosion in October 2017 and the most recent eruptive period that began in December 2018 with renewed thermal activity. Activity since then has consisted of intermittent thermal activity and dense gas-and-steam plumes (BGVN 45:01), which continues into the current reporting period. This report updates information from January-June 2020 using primary source information from various satellite data, as ground observations are rarely available.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed weak, intermittent, but ongoing thermal activity during January-June 2020 (figure 41). A small cluster of slightly stronger thermal signatures was detected in late February to early March, which is correlated to MODVOLC thermal alert data; four thermal hotspots were recorded on 20, 27, and 29 February and 1 March. However, observations using Sentinel-2 satellite imagery were often obscured by clouds. In addition to the weak thermal signatures, dense gas-and-steam plumes were observed in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery rising from the summit during this reporting period (figure 42).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Weak thermal anomalies at Tinakula from 26 June 2019 through June 2020 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were intermittent and clustered more strongly in late February to early March.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery shows ongoing gas-and-steam plumes rising from Tinakula during January through May 2020. Images with atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8a) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Three distinct thermal anomalies were observed in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery on 22 January, 11 April, and 6 May 2020, accompanied by some gas-and-steam emissions (figure 43). The hotspot on 22 January was slightly weaker than the other two days, and was seen on the W flank, compared to the other two that were observed in the summit crater. According to MODVOLC thermal alerts, a hotspot was recorded on 6 May, which corresponded to a Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image with a notable anomaly in the summit crater (figure 43). On 10 June no thermal anomaly was seen in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery due to the presence of clouds; however, what appeared to be a dense gas-and-steam plume was extending W from the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing a weak thermal activity (bright yellow-orange) on 22 January 2020 on the W flank of Tinakula (top) and slightly stronger thermal hotspots on 11 April (middle) and 6 May (bottom) in at the summit, which are accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Images with atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8a) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

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


Ibu (Indonesia) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Ibu

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent ash emissions and summit incandescence; Strombolian explosions in March 2020

Ibu is an active stratovolcano located along the NW coast of Halmahera Island in Indonesia. Volcanism has recently been characterized by frequent ash explosions, ash plumes, and small lava flows within the crater throughout 2019 (BGVN 45:01). Activity continues, consisting of frequent white-and-gray emissions, ash explosions, ash plumes, and lava flows. This report updates activity through June 2020, using data from the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and various satellites.

Volcanism during the entire reporting period dominantly consisted of white-and-gray emissions that rose 200-800 m above the summit drifting in multiple directions. The ash plume with the maximum altitude of 13.7 km altitude occurred on 16 May 2020. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery detected multiple smaller hotspots within the crater throughout the reporting period.

Continuous ash emissions were reported on 6 February rising to 2.1 km altitude drifting E, accompanied by a hotspot visible in infrared satellite imagery. On 16 February, a ground observer reported an eruption that produced an ash plume rising 800 m above the summit drifting W, according to a Darwin VAAC notice. Ash plumes continued through the month, drifting in multiple directions and rising up to 2.1 km altitude. During 8-10 March, video footage captured multiple Strombolian explosions that ejected incandescent material and produced ash plumes from the summit (figures 21 and 22). Occasionally volcanic lightning was observed within the ash column, as recorded in video footage by Martin Rietze. This event was also documented by a Darwin VAAC notice, which stated that multiple ash emissions rose 2.1 km altitude drifting SE. PVMBG published a VONA notice on 10 March at 1044 reporting ash plumes rising 400 m above the summit. PVMBG and Darwin VAAC notices described intermittent eruptions on 26, 28, and 29 March, all of which produced ash plumes rising 300-800 m above the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Strombolian explosions recorded at the crater summit of Ibu during 8-10 March 2020 ejected incandescent ejecta and a dense ash plume. Video footage copyright by Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Strombolian explosions recorded at the crater summit of Ibu during 8-10 March 2020 ejected incandescent ejecta and ash. Frequent volcanic lightning was also observed. Video footage copyright by Martin Rietze, used with permission.

A majority of days in April included white-and-gray emissions rising up to 800 m above the summit. A ground observer reported an eruption on 9 April, according to a Darwin VAAC report, and a hotspot was observed in HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery. Minor eruptions were reported intermittently during mid-April and early to mid-May. On 12 May at 1052 a VONA from PVMBG reported an ash plume 800-1,100 m above the summit. A large short-lived eruption on 16 May produced an ash plume that rose to a maximum of 13.7 km altitude and drifted S, according to the Darwin VAAC report. By June, volcanism consisted predominantly of white-and-gray emissions rising 800 m above the summit, with an ash eruption on 15 June. This eruptive event resulted in an ash plume that rose 1.8 km altitude drifting WNW and was accompanied by a hotspot detected in HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery, according to a Darwin VAAC notice.

The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected frequent hotspots during July 2019 through June 2020 (figure 23). In comparison, the MODVOLC thermal alerts recorded a total of 24 thermal signatures over the course of 19 different days between January and June. Many thermal signatures were captured as small thermal hotspots in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery within the crater (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Thermal anomalies recorded at Ibu from 2 July 2019 through June 2020 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were frequent and consistent in power. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (bands 12, 11, 8A) showed occasional thermal hotspots (bright orange) in the Ibu summit crater during January through June 2020. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); 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); Martin Rietze, Taubenstr. 1, D-82223 Eichenau, Germany (URL: https://mrietze.com/, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5LzAA_nyNWEUfpcUFOCpJw/videos, video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMkfT1e4HQQ).


Suwanosejima (Japan) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent explosions, ash plumes, and summit incandescence in January-June 2020

Suwanosejima is an active stratovolcano located in the northern Ryukyu Islands. Volcanism has previously been characterized by Strombolian explosions, ash plumes, and summit incandescence (BGVN 45:01), which continues to occur intermittently. A majority of this activity originates from vents within the large Otake summit crater. This report updates information during January through June 2020 using monthly reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

During 3-10 January 2020, 13 explosions were detected from the Otake crater rising to 1.4 km altitude; material was ejected as far as 600 m away and ashfall was reported in areas 4 km SSW, according to JMA. Occasional small eruptive events continued during 12-17 January, which resulted in ash plumes that rose 1 km above the crater rim and ashfall was again reported 4 km SSW. Crater incandescence was visible nightly during 17-24 January, while white plumes rose as high as 700 m above the crater rim.

Nightly incandescence during 7-29 February, and 1-6 March, was accompanied by intermittent explosions that produced ash plumes rising up to 1.2 km above the crater rim (figure 44); activity during early February resulted in ashfall 4 km SSW. On 19 February an eruption produced a gray-white ash plume that rose 1.6 km above the crater (figure 45), resulting in ashfall in Toshima village (4 km SSW), according to JMA. Explosive events during 23-24 February ejected blocks onto the flanks. Two explosions were recorded during 1-6 March, which sent ash plumes as high as 900-1,000 m above the crater rim and ejected large blocks 300 m from the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Surveillance camera images of summit incandescence at Suwanosejima on 29 January (top left), 21 (middle left) and 23 (top right) February, and 25 March (bottom left and right) 2020. Courtesy of JMA (Monthly bulletin reports 511, January, February, and March 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Surveillance camera images of which and white-and-gray gas-and-steam emissions rising from Suwanosejima on 5 January (top), 19 February (middle), and 24 March 2020 (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (Monthly bulletin reports 511, January, February, and March 2020).

Nightly incandescence continued to be visible during 13-31 March, 1-10 and 17-24 April, 1-8, 15-31 May, 1-5 and 12-30 June 2020; activity during the latter part of March was relatively low and consisted of few explosive events. In contrast, incandescence was frequently accompanied by explosions in April and May. On 28 April at 0432 an eruption produced an ash plume that rose 1.6 km above the crater rim and drifted SE and E, and ejected blocks as far as 800 m from the crater. The MODVOLC thermal alerts algorithm also detected four thermal signatures during this eruption within the summit crater. An explosion at 1214 on 29 April caused glass in windows to vibrate up to 4 km SSW away while ash emissions continued to be observed following the explosion the previous day, according to the Tokyo VAAC.

During 1-8 May explosions occurred twice a day, producing ash plumes that rose as high as 1 km above the crater rim and ejecting material 400 m from the crater. An explosion on 29 May at 0210 produced an off-white plume that rose as high as 500 m above the crater rim and ejected large blocks up to 200 m above the rim. On 5 June an explosion produced gray-white plumes rising 1 km above the crater. Small eruptive events continued in late June, producing ash plumes that rose as high as 900 m above the crater rim.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed relatively stronger thermal anomalies in late February and late April 2020 with an additional six weaker thermal anomalies detected in early January (2), early February (1), mid-April (2), and mid-May (1) (figure 46). Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery in late January through mid-April showed two distinct thermal hotspots within the summit crater (figure 47).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Prominent thermal anomalies at Suwanosejima during July-June 2020 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) occurred in late February and late April. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing small thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) from two locations within the Otake summit crater at Suwanosejima. Images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

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


Bagana (Papua New Guinea) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Bagana

Papua New Guinea

6.137°S, 155.196°E; summit elev. 1855 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes during 29 February-2 March and 1 May 2020

Bagana lies in a nearly inaccessible mountainous tropical rainforest area of Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea and is primarily monitored by satellite imagery of ash plumes and thermal anomalies. After a state of elevated activity that lasted through December 2018 (BGVN 43:05, 44:06, 44:12), the volcano entered a quieter period that persisted through at least May 2020. This report focuses on activity between December 2019 and May 2020.

Atmospheric clouds often obscured satellite views of the volcano during the reporting period. When the volcano could be observed, light-colored gas plumes were often observed (figure 43). Based on satellite and wind model data, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) reported that during 29 February-2 March ash plumes rose to an altitude of 1.8-2.1 km and drifted SW and N. On 1 May an ash plume rose to an altitude of 3 km and drifted NW and W. According to both Darwin VAAC volcanic ash advisories, the Aviation Color Code was Orange (second highest of four hazard levels).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 image of Bagana, showing a gas plume drifting SE on 13 March 2020, during a period when the Darwin VAAC had not reported any ash explosions (Natural Color rendering, bands 4, 3, 2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During the reporting period, the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) volcano hotspot detection system recorded only intermittent thermal anomalies, all of which were of low radiative power. Sulfur dioxide emissions detected by satellite-based instruments over this reporting period were at low levels.

Geologic Background. Bagana volcano, occupying a remote portion of central Bougainville Island, is one of Melanesia's youngest and most active volcanoes. This massive symmetrical cone was largely constructed by an accumulation of viscous andesitic lava flows. The entire edifice could have been constructed in about 300 years at its present rate of lava production. Eruptive activity is frequent and characterized by non-explosive effusion of viscous lava that maintains a small lava dome in the summit crater, although explosive activity occasionally producing pyroclastic flows also occurs. Lava flows form dramatic, freshly preserved tongue-shaped lobes up to 50 m thick with prominent levees that descend the flanks on all sides.

Information Contacts: 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); 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/).

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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.

Additional Reports  False Reports