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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

Sarychev Peak (Russia) Ash eruption in March 2020; lava extrusion in August filled and then overflowed the crater in January 2021

Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) Small lava flows in the summit crater during September 2020-February 2021

Manam (Papua New Guinea) Ash plumes, SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies continued during October 2020-March 2021

Dukono (Indonesia) Ash and sulfur dioxide plumes during October 2020-March 2021

Sinabung (Indonesia) Block avalanches, pyroclastic flows, and ash explosions continue through February 2021

Barren Island (India) Ash emissions in November and December 2020, then thermal anomalies through February 2021

Merapi (Indonesia) New domes appear in January and February 2021; large explosion on 27 January

Yasur (Vanuatu) Gas-and-ash emissions, SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies during September 2020-February 2021

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Frequent small phreatic explosions through 13 December 2020

Kilauea (United States) New eruption in December 2020 with an active lava lake, lava flows, spattering, and a dome fountain

Pacaya (Guatemala) Increasing activity with ash emissions, explosions, and lava flows on multiple flanks during December 2020-February 2021

Villarrica (Chile) Explosions, ash plumes, crater incandescence, and an active lava lake during September 2020-February 2021



Sarychev Peak (Russia) — May 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Sarychev Peak

Russia

48.092°N, 153.2°E; summit elev. 1496 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash eruption in March 2020; lava extrusion in August filled and then overflowed the crater in January 2021

Sarychev Peak forms the surface of Matua Island in the Kurile Islands with reported activity dating back to around 1765. Recent activity that started in May 2019 included ash and gas emission and elevated temperatures within the summit crater detected by satellite sensors, with the last reported activity being an ash plume reaching 2.7 km altitude on 10 August and thermal anomalies present until 7 October 2019 (BGVN 44:11). This bulletin summarizes activity during November 2019-April 2021 using reports by the Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team (SVERT) and the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), along with satellite data.

No cloud-free satellite images were found of the summit in November 2019, but Sentinel-2 satellite images showed weak gas-and-steam emissions on 2 and 20 December. Cloud-free Sentinel-2 images showed gas-and-steam emission through January 2020, and a thermal anomaly was detected in the crater on the 29th (figure 30). No clear satellite images of the summit area were found, but there is evidence of gas emission in February. Evidence of a new eruption is seen in satellite imagery of thin linear ash deposits across the snow on 1, 19, and 30 March 2020, all extending SE from the crater (figure 31). The crater was obscured by gas emissions on the 19th and a clear view of the crater floor showed no thermal anomaly on the 31st.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. These thermal satellite images show the Sarychev Peak summit area in December 2019 and January 2020. The images from 2 December 2019, 6 January, and 19 January 2020 show gas emissions (solid arrows). The 29 January image shows a small area with an elevated temperature on the crater floor (dashed arrow). Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images with false color (urban) (bands 12, 11, 4) rendering. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Three ashfall deposits are visible SW of the Sarychev Peak summit through March 2020. Based on satellite images, the deposit at the top was emplaced during an event that occurred during 28 February (ash-free image) and 1 March, the middle during 17 (ash-free image) and 19, and the bottom during 26 (ash-free image) and 29 March. Gas-and-steam emissions are obscuring the view into the crater. All images are at the same scale. Sentinel-2 satellite image with natural (bands 4, 3, 2) rendering. Courtesy of Planet Labs.

The MIROVA system began detecting elevated temperatures in early April 2020, which corresponded to the Sentinel-2 thermal sensor detecting high temperatures on the crater floor (figures 32 and 33). Satellite images also showed continued gas emissions, some days obscuring the view of the crater floor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. This plot shows thermal energy detected at Sarychev Peak by the MIROVA system during March 2020-March 2021. there was an increase in energy detected in April 2020, which was intermittent through to October. After a few months the system detected thermal energy again in mid-January through to early February with a higher output. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Satellite images showing the Sarychev Peak summit crater on 4, 5, 18, and 20 April 2020. The first (top left) PlanetScope image shows the snow-covered summit area with a darker snow-free area on the crater floor. The other three images are Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images with the yellow to red colors indicating high temperatures on the crater floor. There is gas and steam in the crater on the 18th. The high temperature areas correlate to the darker snow-free area in NW part of the crater in the first image; blue colors in the thermal images are snow. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images have false color (urban) (bands 12, 11, 4) rendering. Courtesy of Planet Labs and Sentinel Hub Playground.

The thermal anomaly on the crater floor continued through May and June, with cloud-free images showing the same area of elevated temperature as the previous months. By 20 May 2019 data from Sentinel-1 Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) showed morphological change in the crater associated with the area of high temperature, and this change continued through June. The TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) detected sulfur dioxide (SO2) content within the plume on 27 May (figure 34). Gas-and-steam emission also continued in June, with more substantial plumes visible on 22 and 27 June (figure 35). TROPOMI again detected SO2 on 24 and 25 June; the plume on 24 June was also visible in Sentinel-2 imagery (figure 36).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. This image shows a weak gas plume from Sarychev Peak dispersing to the SE on 27 May 2020, as well as other volcanoes in Kamchatka. TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) data showing sulfur dioxide (SO2) in Dobson Units (DU). Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. These Planet Scope satellite scenes show gas-and-steam plumes emanating from the Sarychev Peak summit crater and dispersing SSW (left) and NW (right) on 22 and 27 June 2020, respectively. Courtesy of Planet Labs.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Weak gas emission at Sarychev Peak detected by satellite sensors on 25 and 26 June 2020. The top image and the bottom-left images were acquired on the 25th and show the plume being redirected by a meteorological vortex northward before curving to the W and N. Top: Sentinel-2 satellite image with natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) rendering. Courtesy of Planet Labs. Bottom: TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) data showing sulfur dioxide (SO2) in Dobson Units (DU). Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Throughout July satellite data show thermal emission and gas-and-steam emission, mostly within plumes dispersing from the summit crater in different directions and sometimes restricted to within the crater (figure 37). On 18 July a PlanetScope image showed lava extrusion in the crater, at the location of the elevated temperature. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed weak thermal energy detected in the same location during August, and degassing continued (figure 38). By 12 August the deformation on the crater floor was clear in SAR data (figure 39), matching the PlanetScope and Sentinel-2 data. From 21 August through to 12 October there was a reduction in thermal energy detected in Sentinel-2 TIR data, with many days not having clear views of the crater floor. Plume emission continued throughout this time. There were no images showing elevated temperatures during November and December when clouds frequently covered the crater area, and there were also no anomalies detected by the MIROVA system.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. The PlanetScope natural color (top) and Sentinel-2 thermal (bottom) satellite images indicate lava in the crater during July 2020. Gas emission is also visible in the images. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images have false color (urban) (bands 12, 11, 4) rendering. Courtesy of Planet Labs and Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. PlanetScope and Sentinel-2 satellite images acquired during August 2020 show lava in the crater and gas-and-steam plumes being dispersed in different directions by winds. Sentinel-2 satellite image with natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) rendering. Courtesy of Planet Labs and Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. These satellite images show the morphological change in the Sarychev Peak summit crater between 10 November 2019 and 12 August 2020. The three gray-scale images use Sentinel-1 Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data acquired on 10 November 2019, 20 May, and 12 August 2020. The color image in the lower left is a Sentinel-2 thermal image acquired on 22 June 2020. The SAR images show morphological changes in the crater in the same location as the elevated temperatures in the thermal images, indicating lava extrusion. Sentinel-1 SAR images are VV, decibel gamma0, and orthorectified. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images have false color (urban) (bands 12, 11, 4) rendering. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

On 11 January 2021 KVERT released a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) with an elevation of the Aviation Color Code from Green to Yellow. The temperature within the crater had increased above background levels by 79.8°?, indicating that renewed lava extrusion had begun in the crater on the 10th. A gas-and-steam plume extended 36 km NE on the 12th. On 15 January KVERT reported that moderate activity continued, including a gas-and-steam plume that extended 40 km NE. SAR data through January shows the lava volume increasing before flowing over the NW rim and down a preexisting channel on the flank (figure 40). KVERT reported that a lava flow on the northern flank had reached 400 m by the 20th. Lava extrusion with associated moderate gas and steam emission continued throughout the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. These SAR images of Sarychev Peak during 3 January to 20 February 2021 show lava extrusion filling the summit crater and descending a channel on the NW flank. Note that the 6 January image has a different look angle to the other images, and this alters how the surface appears. Sentinel-1 SAR images are VV, decibel gamma0, and orthorectified. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

A 3 February satellite image of the NW flank showed that the lava flow front had reached approximately 1.9 km from the crater rim where it had overflowed (figure 41). The Aviation Color Code was lowered to Green on the 18th with KVERT reporting that the eruption had ended, though thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam emission continued.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Satellite image scenes show the lava flow at Sarychev Peak on 3 and 14 February 2021. Top: PlanetScope image from 3 February showing the lobate lava flow front approximately 1.9 km from the NW crater rim. Bottom: Sentinel-2 satellite scenes from 14 February (thermal infrared to the left and natural color to the right) showing the summit crater area with lava extrusion and the lava flow overtopping the NW rim. Sentinel-2 satellite images have natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) rendering, and thermal false color (urban) (bands 12, 11, 4) rendering. Courtesy of Planet Labs and Sentinel Hub Playground.

Satellite images of the lava flow acquired during March and April show the narrow lava lobe with pressure ridges and levees (figure 42). A comparison between a September 2019 satellite image and a clear 29 April 2021 image shows the change to the crater after the lava emplacement. The last Sentinel-2 image acquired within this period showing elevated temperatures within the crater was on 19 March and there was no more thermal energy detected by the MIROVA system by early February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. The PlanetScope satellite images across the top of this figure show the lava flow on the NW flank of Sarychev Peak during March-April 2021. The different degrees of snow cover show different surface morphological aspects like pressure ridges and levees. The bottom images show the crater on 7 September 2019 for comparison (left) and the lava within the summit crater on 29 April 2021 (right). Fumaroles are also visible around the crater walls in the 2019 image. The top images and bottom right image are PlanetScope satellite images and the lower left image is by CNES/Airbus through Google Earth. Courtesy of Planet Labs and U.S. Dept. of State Geographer Data via Google Earth, ©2019 Google.

Geologic Background. Sarychev Peak, one of the most active volcanoes of the Kuril Islands, occupies the NW end of Matua Island in the central Kuriles. The andesitic central cone was constructed within a 3-3.5-km-wide caldera, whose rim is exposed only on the SW side. A dramatic 250-m-wide, very steep-walled crater with a jagged rim caps the volcano. The substantially higher SE rim forms the 1496 m high point of the island. Fresh-looking lava flows, prior to activity in 2009, had descended in all directions, often forming capes along the coast. Much of the lower-angle outer flanks of the volcano are overlain by pyroclastic-flow deposits. Eruptions have been recorded since the 1760s and include both quiet lava effusion and violent explosions. Large eruptions in 1946 and 2009 produced pyroclastic flows that reached the sea.

Information Contacts: Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team (SVERT), Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Science, Nauki st., 1B, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, 693022 (URL: http://www.imgg.ru/en/, http://www.imgg.ru/ru/svert/reports); Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); 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); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Google Earth (URL: https://www.google.com/earth/).


Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania) — April 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Ol Doinyo Lengai

Tanzania

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Small lava flows in the summit crater during September 2020-February 2021

Ol Doinyo Lengai is located near the southern end of the East African Rift in Tanzania. It is known for its unique low-temperature carbonatitic lava. Activity primarily occurs in the crater offset to the N about 100 m below the summit where hornitos (small cones) and pit craters produce lava flows and spattering. Eruptions have been recorded since the late 19th century; the current eruptive period began in April 2017 and has recently been characterized by small lava flows in the crater (BGVN 45:09). This report covers similar activity during September 2020 through February 2021 using information primarily from satellite data.

During September 2020 to February 2021 both thermal and natural color satellite imagery showed small lava flows in the summit crater. A total of six weak thermal anomalies were identified in MIROVA data during September (2), October (3), and November (1) 2020 (figure 211). No thermal anomalies were detected after late November, according to the MIROVA graph. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed small lava flows within the summit crater throughout the reporting period. On clear weather days, infrequent and faint thermal anomalies were observed in thermal satellite imagery within the crater; new lava flows were identified due to the change in shape, volume, and location of the thermal anomaly (figure 212). On 31 August a faint thermal anomaly was visible in the NW side of the summit crater. On 15 September fresh black lava was observed in the center of the summit crater spreading to the NW and E. Two small thermal anomalies were present on the W and E side of the crater on 20 September. On 24 December both thermal and Natural Color images showed the location of a lava flow as a thermal anomaly and as fresh lava in the center and W side of the crater. On 7 February a gas-and-steam plume was observed drifting E from the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 211. Intermittent low-level thermal anomalies were recorded at Ol Doinyo Lengai, based on the MIROVA thermal data graph (Log Radiative Power) during late August through late November 2020; a total of six weak thermal anomalies were detected between September through November 2020. The black lines are distant anomalies (more than 5 km from the summit) not related to volcanism. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 212. Sentinel-2 thermal and natural color imagery of Ol Doinyo Lengai from 31 August 2020 to 7 February 2021. On clear weather days, thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) were faintly visible in the summit crater on 31 August (top left) on the NW side. On 15 September (top right) fresh black lava, which quickly cools to a whitish-brown color, was seen in the crater, reflecting the position of the anomalies visible in the thermal image. Two anomalies were visible on 20 September (middle left) on the W and E side. Two black dots which represent cooled lava and thermal anomalies on the W side of the crater were visible in both 24 December (bottom left) thermal and Natural Color images. A small lava flow was observed in the center of the crater on 7 February (bottom right) 2021. Images are marked with “Atmospheric penetration” rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A) and “Natural Color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: 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).


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — April 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Manam

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes, SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies continued during October 2020-March 2021

Manam is located 13 km off the N coast of mainland Papua New Guinea and has had eruptions documented since 1616. It contains two active summit craters, Main and South, which have been characterized by occasional Strombolian activity, lava flows, pyroclastic avalanches, and ash plumes. The current eruption period has been ongoing since 2014 with more recent activity consisting of intermittent ash plumes, thermal anomalies, and sulfur dioxide emissions (BGVN 45:10). This report describes similar activity and covers October 2020 through March 2021 using information primarily from the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) and various satellite data.

Explosive and thermal activity was relatively low during this reporting period. Three ash plumes were reported by the Darwin VAAC based on imagery from the HIMIWARI-8 satellite. On 6 December 2020 an ash plume rose to 2.4 km altitude and drifted SW. The next VAAC notice was for ash detected on 23 January 2021 rising to 4.9 km and drifting SE and N. Then on 21 February an ash plume rose to a maximum altitude of 6 km and drifted W. Intermittent sulfur dioxide plumes were detected using the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite, some of which reached at least two Dobson Units (DU) and drifted in multiple directions (figure 79). On 6 December and 23 January, the ash plume that was described in the Darwin VAAC advisory was accompanied by an SO2 plume. SO2 plumes that reached a minimum of two DU were recorded for at least 12 days during October, 13 days during November, 15 days during December, 10 days during January, 3 days during February, and 6 days during March.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Distinct sulfur dioxide plumes rising from Manam and drifting in different directions were detected using data from the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite on 9 October (top left), 3 November (top right), 6 December (middle left) 2020, 13 January (middle right), 18 February (bottom left), and 18 March (bottom right) 2021. Courtesy of the NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Thermal activity during October 2020 through March 2021 was relatively low in power and frequency compared to August and September, as recorded by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system. Two brief pulses of activity were detected during mid-November and late December to mid-January (figure 80). A total of 14 low-power anomalies were recorded: one in early October, three in mid-November, two in December, a maximum number of six in January, one in late February, and one in late March. Some of this activity was captured in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery on clear weather days in both the Main and South summit craters (figure 81).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Thermal activity at Manam was low to moderate in power during October 2020 through March 2021, with notable brief pulses during mid-November and late December through mid-January, as shown on this MIROVA Log Radiative Power graph. One anomaly was detected in early October, three in mid-November, two in December, six in January, one in late February, and one in late March. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images show a persistent thermal anomaly (bright yellow-orange) at both of Manam’s summit craters (Main and South) on clear weather days during November 2020 through March 2021. Occasional gas-and-steam emissions accompanied the thermal anomalies as seen on 25 November 2020 (top left), 29 January (top right), 8 February (bottom left), and 20 March (bottom right) 2021. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: 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/); NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Dukono (Indonesia) — April 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Dukono

Indonesia

1.693°N, 127.894°E; summit elev. 1229 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash and sulfur dioxide plumes during October 2020-March 2021

Dukono, located in northernmost Halmahera, Indonesia, has been erupting continuously since 1933. Volcanism has recently been characterized by frequent ash explosions, ash plumes, and sulfur dioxide plumes (BGVN 45:10). This report updates activity consisting of white-and-gray plumes and sulfur dioxide plumes during October 2020-March 2021 using information primarily from the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and satellite data.

Volcanism at Dukono has been characterized by dominantly white-and-gray plumes, accompanied by intermittent ash plumes that drifted in multiple directions. On clear weather days, the ash plumes rose to 1.5-2.4 km altitude, or about 270-1,200 m above the crater, according to PVMBG and the Darwin VAAC advisories (table 23).

Table 23. Monthly summary of reported ash plumes from Dukono during October 2020-March 2021. The direction of drift for the ash plumes was highly variable; notable plume drifts each month were only indicated in the table if at least two weekly reports were consistent. Data courtesy of PVMBG and the Darwin VAAC.

Month Plume altitude (km) Notable plume drift
Oct 2020 1.8-2.4 W, N, NE, E, SW
Nov 2020 1.5-2.1 Multiple directions
Dec 2020 1.5-2.4 SE, E
Jan 2021 1.5-2.1 SW, E
Feb 2021 1.5-2.1 Multiple directions
Mar 2021 1.5-2.4 Multiple directions

Activity during October 2020 primarily consisted of near daily white-and-gray plumes that rose 100-700 m above the crater and drifted in multiple directions (figure 19). Ash plumes during this month rose between 1.8 and 2.4 km altitude and drifted W, N, NE, E, SW, according to PVMBG VONA notices and the Darwin VAAC advisories. Frequent white gas-and-steam emissions were also observed in webcam images. Similar activity continued in November, with almost daily white-and-gray plumes rising 100-800 m above the crater and drifting in multiple directions. On clear weather days ash plumes were observed up to 2.1 km altitude; on 12 November the ash plume rose up to 2.1 km altitude and drifted SW (figure 19).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Webcam images of white-and-gray plumes rising from Dukono on 8 October (left) and an ash plume on 12 November (right) 2020. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

In December and January 2021, white-and-gray plumes were 100-700 m above the crater and drifted in multiple directions, dominantly E and W in December and SW in January. According to Darwin VAAC advisories during these two months, ash plumes were seen rising to 2.4 km altitude and drifted notably SE, E, and SW.

Activity in February persisted with white-and gray plumes rising 100-600 m above the crater and drifting dominantly SW and E (figure 20). Intermittent ash plumes rose to 2.1 km altitude during February and 2.4 km altitude during March, drifting in multiple directions. Gas-and-steam plumes were also frequent. During March, almost daily white-and-gray plumes rose 100-800 m above the crater and drifted in multiple directions (figure 20).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Webcam images of white-and-gray plumes rising from Dukono on 25 February (left) and 22 March (right) 2021. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

The NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide page, using data from the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite, showed strong SO2 plumes rising from Dukono and drifting in various directions (figure 21). In addition to SO2 plumes, Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed thermal anomalies of variable intensities on clear weather days (figure 22). Intermittent thermal anomalies recorded by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system during early December 2020 through mid-March 2021 were low in power (figure 23). A brief break in thermal activity occurred during mid- to late-February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Strong sulfur dioxide emissions rose from Dukono and drifted in multiple directions were detected using the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite. SO2 plumes drifted N on 10 October (top left), generally E on 28 November (top right), 13 December (middle left) 2020, and 11 February 2021 (bottom left), SE on 9 January (middle right) 2021, and W on 4 March (bottom right) 2021. Courtesy of the NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showing a thermal anomaly in the summit crater on 1 November (top left) 2020, 10 January (middle right), 1 March (bottom left), and 16 March (bottom right) 2021, frequently accompanied by gas-and-steam and ash plumes. On 11 November (top right) and 6 December (middle left) 2020 a Natural Color image showed a grayish white ash plume drifting SW and SE, respectively. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Natural Color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) on 11 November and 6 December 2020, all other images use “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. MIROVA (Log Radiative Power) thermal data for Dukono from 3 June 2020 through March 2021 showed intermittent low power thermal activity during early December 2020 through mid-March 2020. A brief break in activity occurred during mid- to late-February. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. Reports from this remote volcano in northernmost Halmahera are rare, but Dukono has been one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. More-or-less continuous explosive eruptions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, occurred from 1933 until at least the mid-1990s, when routine observations were curtailed. During a major eruption in 1550, a lava flow filled in the strait between Halmahera and the north-flank cone of Gunung Mamuya. This complex volcano presents a broad, low profile with multiple summit peaks and overlapping craters. Malupang Wariang, 1 km SW of the summit crater complex, contains a 700 x 570 m crater that has also been active during historical time.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.esdm.go.id/v1); 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/); NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Sinabung (Indonesia) — March 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Sinabung

Indonesia

3.17°N, 98.392°E; summit elev. 2460 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Block avalanches, pyroclastic flows, and ash explosions continue through February 2021

Indonesia’s Sinabung volcano in north Sumatra had its first confirmed Holocene eruption during August and September 2010. It remained quiet until September 2013 when a new eruptive phase began that continued through mid-2018. Dome growth and destruction resulted in block avalanches, multiple explosions with ash plumes, and deadly pyroclastic flows during the period. After a pause in activity from September 2018 through April 2019, explosions resumed during May and June 2019. Dome growth began again with an explosion on 8 August 2020, and similar activity continued through October 2020. This report covers ongoing activity from November 2020 through February 2021 with information provided by Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), referred to by some agencies as CVGHM or the Indonesian Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC). Additional information comes from satellite instruments and local news reports.

Activity at Sinabung during November 2020-February 2021 was characterized by tens of daily rock avalanches, periodic pyroclastic flows, and ash-bearing explosions. The rock avalanches traveled up to 1,000 m down the E and SE flanks. The pyroclastic flows also traveled down the E and SE flanks, and the largest reached 2.5 km from the summit. Periodic explosions produced ash plumes that rose up to 2 km above the summit and drifted in multiple directions. Although cloudy much of the time, intermittent satellite images showing two thermal anomalies at the summit suggested that the dome remained active (figure 85).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. Two thermal anomalies were present at the summit of Sinabung several times during the report period from November 2020-February 2021, including on 2 December 2020 and 10 February 2021, suggesting ongoing dome activity. In addition, frequent pyroclastic flows produced incandescent anomalies on the E flank multiple times including on 10 February 2021. Sentinel-2 images use Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

White steam emissions rose 50-500 m above the summit of Sinabung during most days in November 2020. Block avalanches were frequent during the first half of the month, traveling 200-1,000 m down the S and SE flanks. The Darwin VAAC reported small ash plumes from block avalanches on 1 and 2 November that rose to 3 km altitude and quickly dissipated. Clouds prevented observations during the last week of the month, but tens of seismic events interpreted by PVMBG as block avalanches were detected. Pyroclastic flows were either observed visually or measured seismically on 2-7, 10, 12, 16, 18 and 19 November (figure 86). They most often occurred on the E or SE flanks and traveled 1,500-2,500 m. Seismic signals indicating lahars were recorded on 26, 27, and 30 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. A pyroclastic flow descended the S flank of Sinabung on 7 November 2020. Courtesy of Rizal.

Nine explosions with ash plumes were reported during November 2020. On 2 November a gray ash plume rose 1,500 m above the summit, to about 3.9 km altitude, and drifted E. The next day the Darwin VAAC reported an explosion to 3.7 km altitude that drifted E. An ash explosion on 4 November was recorded seismically for 117 seconds but was not seen due to fog. An explosion on 10 November produced an ash plume that rose 2 km above the summit and drifted E, along with pyroclastic flows that traveled 1,500-2,500 m down the E and SE flanks. On 18 November an explosion created an ash plume that rose to 3.7 km altitude and drifted SW; it was measured seismically as a continuous volcanic tremor that lasted for 160 seconds. Seismic activity confirmed an explosion on 21 November, but meteoric clouds obscured observations of ash. An ash plume drifting SW at 3 km altitude, about 500 m above the summit, was reported on 25 November. On 29 November an explosion produced an ash plume to the same altitude that drifted E (figure 87). The next day seismic activity indicated another explosion, but it was not observed due to cloudy weather.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. An ash plume at Sinabung rose to 3 km altitude and drifted E on 29 November 2020. Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia.

Explosive activity decreased during December 2020. Steam plumes rose 50-500 m and tens of rock avalanches were recorded seismically every day. On 6 December block avalanches rolled 300-500 m down the E and SE flanks; they traveled 500-1,000 m down the SE flank on 8 December. During 12-14 December they traveled 1,000-1,500 m down the E and S flanks. On 30 and 31 December they were seen moving 500-1,000 m down the same flanks. Lahars were measured seismically on 4 and 5 December with no reports of damage.

An explosion on 2 December produced an ash plume that rose about 500 m above the summit and drifted ESE. Clouds and rain prevented views of the summit on 5 December, but the seismogram recorded an explosive event that lasted for 168 seconds (figure 88). The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume moving ESE at 3 km altitude on 13 December. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery captured a thermal anomaly on the E flank on 17 December that was likely from a pyroclastic flow (figure 89). Two explosions were recorded each day on 28 and 29 December. On the first day the ash plume from the first explosion rose to 500 m and drifted S. The second explosion was not observed due to weather, but a thermal anomaly was intermittently visible. The explosions on 29 December were only recorded seismically, as was one explosion on 30 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. The KESDM seismogram at Sinabung recorded an explosive event on 5 December 2020 that lasted for 168 seconds. Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. A thermal anomaly on the E flank of Sinabung on 17 December 2020 was likely from a pyroclastic flow. The summit is obscured by clouds. Sentinel-2 image with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Tens of daily rock avalanches continued to be recorded during January 2021, although most were not observed. During 2-5 January they traveled 500-1,200 m down the E and SE flanks, and on 14 January they fell 700-1,000 m down the SE flank. The number of explosions with ash plumes increased significantly from December. On 3 January two explosions were recorded seismically; an ash plume from the first rose 1,000 m above the summit and drifted NW in the morning. A few hours later a second explosion was recorded but not observed due to clouds. Three explosions were recorded each day on 4 and 5 January. The first on 4 January produced a 700-m-high ash plume, the second and third sent ash 1,000 m above the summit to the W and NW (figure 90). The next day, the first explosion sent an ash plume 800 m above the summit that drifted E and SE; the other two were recorded seismically but not observed due to weather. One or two explosions were recorded daily during 6-10 January; most were obscured by clouds. One of the explosions on 8 January produced an ash plume that rose to 700 m and drifted N, and the explosion on 9 January rose to 1,000 m and drifted N and NE. Two explosions were recorded on 12 January, and two or three explosions were reported daily during 16-18 January. Explosions were also recorded on 20-21, 23, 25-27, and 29 January. The three ash plumes on 17 January all rose 500 m above the summit and drifted E, NE, or SE; the plumes on 21 and 27 January rose 500 m and drifted E and SE.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. An explosion at Sinabung on 4 January 2021 produced an ash emission that rose 1,000 m above the summit and drifted W and NW. Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia.

Steam emissions rose 50-700 m above the summit throughout February 2021. Over 100 seismic events from rock avalanches were reported daily; on 6 February a maximum of 231 events were recorded. Numerous explosions, many with pyroclastic flows, were only detected seismically on 5-12, 14, 17, 22, 25, and 28 February. On 6 February the Darwin VAAC reported a continuous ash eruption identified in satellite imagery at 3.1 km altitude drifting NW. PVMBG also reported a pyroclastic flow that traveled 2,500 m down the S flank that day. The Antara News Agency reported an ash plume rising 1,000 m above the summit from a pyroclastic flow and drifting E, SE, and S on 7 February, and another pyroclastic flow on 9 February that traveled 1,000 m down the SE flank (figure 91). Cloudy weather obscured views on most days, but during 12-14 February blocks traveled 500-1,500 m down the S, SE, and E flanks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. A pyroclastic flow traveled 1,000 m down the SE flank of Sinabung on 9 February 2021. Courtesy of Anadolu Agency.

The Darwin VAAC received a report on 10 February of an ash plume at 4.6 km altitude moving E; it was not identifiable in satellite imagery due to meteoric clouds. Two pyroclastic flows on 12 February moved as far as 2,000 m down the E and SE flanks. On 17 February an ash plume rose 1,000 m above the summit and drifted S and W and a pyroclastic flow was reported. A lahar was reported on 21 February. A pyroclastic flow on 22 February traveled 2,000 m down the E and SE flanks. The ash plume from the 25 February event rose to 1,500 m above the summit to about 3.9 km altitude and drifted E and SE (figure 92) and was accompanied by four pyroclastic flows that traveled 500-1,000 m down the E and SE flanks. A discrete ash plume was reported by the Darwin VAAC on 28 February that rose to 3.1 km altitude and drifted SW, dissipating withing six hours. Pyroclastic flow were observed that day moving 1,000-1,250 m down the S, SE, and E flanks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. The ash plume at Sinabung from a 25 February 2021 explosion rose to 1,500 m above the summit and drifted E and SE. Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.esdm.go.id/v1); 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); Rizal (URL: https://twitter.com/Rizal06691023/status/1324972883634917376); Antara News Agency (URL: https://www.antaranews.com/berita/1986704/guguran-abu-gunung-sinabung-teramati-setinggi-1000-meter); Anadolu Agency (URL: https://www.aa.com.tr/ba/svijet/indonezija-u-vulkanu-sinabung-odjeknula-eksplozija/2138389).


Barren Island (India) — March 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Barren Island

India

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash emissions in November and December 2020, then thermal anomalies through February 2021

Barren Island, an uninhabited possession of India in the Andaman Sea, had numerous historical eruptions observed during 1787-1832. No further evidence of activity was found until 1991 when ash plumes, Strombolian explosions, and lava flows that reached the ocean were observed. Intermittent similar eruptions since 2005 have lasted for months to years. Its remoteness makes ground observations rare, but satellite data and reports from the Darwin VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center) suggest that the most recent eruption which began in September 2018 with lava fountaining, lava flows, and ash emissions has continued with intermittent thermal anomalies at the summit and minor ash emissions since early 2019. This report covers activity from July 2020-February 2021.

The MIROVA thermal anomaly data from April 2020 through February 2021 indicate low levels of thermal activity from April through October 2020. Pulses of activity in early November and late January-early February 2021 correspond to increased thermal activity seen in satellite images during that time (figure 47). Ash emissions were reported by the Darwin VAAC in early November and early December 2020. A strong thermal anomaly was present in satellite imagery on 11 November, and moderate anomalies appeared during February 2021. In addition, during November-February faint thermal anomalies and/or small ash emissions were present in one or more satellite images each month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. The MIROVA thermal anomaly data from April 2020 through February 2021 indicate low levels of thermal activity from April through October 2020. Pulses of activity in early November and late January-early February 2021 corresponded to increased thermal activity seen in satellite images. Courtesy of MIROVA.

After a small ash plume was observed on 24 June 2020 in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery (BGVN 45:08), the only evidence of further activity was a very weak thermal anomaly present inside the summit crater of the pyroclastic cone on 19 July 2020. Satellite images were mostly cloudy during August-October 2020, although the few clear images each month showed no sign of thermal anomalies or ash emissions. Single MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued for Barren Island on 2 and 4 November 2020. The Darwin VAAC reported continuous ash emissions drifting SW at 1.5 km altitude on 5 November. A very faint thermal anomaly was present inside the summit of the pyroclastic cone the next day. A large thermal anomaly and small ash plume were captured in satellite images on 11 November (figure 48). The bright anomaly at the center of the cone was surrounded by a weaker anomaly suggesting incandescent ejecta on the flanks of the cone. A smaller thermal anomaly and similar ash plume were visible in the 16 November 2020 Sentinel-2 satellite images (figure 49).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. A large thermal anomaly and small ash plume at Barren Island were captured in Sentinel-2 satellite images on 11 November 2020. In the left image the bright anomaly at the center of the cone was surrounded by a weaker anomaly suggesting incandescent ejecta on the flanks of the cone. Image uses Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). The ash emission immediately W of the summit crater is more visible in the Natural color rendering (right, bands 4,3,2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. A thermal anomaly at the summit and a discrete ash emission slightly W of the summit of Barren Island were captured in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 16 November 2020. Left image uses Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a) and right image shows a closeup of the summit and ash plume in Natural color rendering (bands 4, 3, 2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The Darwin VAAC issued an ash advisory on 8 December 2020 of an ash plume drifting W at 1.8 km altitude. It was only visible in satellite imagery for about two hours before dissipating. A small thermal anomaly appeared at the summit on 21 December. During January 2021 faint thermal anomalies were visible on 5, 20, and 25 January, and ash plumes could be seen on 15 and 25 January in Sentinel-2 images (figure 50). The strength of the thermal activity increased during February 2021, with satellite evidence recorded on 4, 9, 19, and 24 February; an ash emission was visible on 9 February (figure 51).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Ash plumes and thermal anomalies at Barren Island were present in Sentinel-2 satellite images several times during January 2021. The left image from 15 January shows an ash plume drifting W from the summit using Natural color rendering (bands 4, 3, 2). The right image shows a weak thermal anomaly at the summit on 25 January with an ash plume drifting S using Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Sentinel-2 satellite images showed thermal anomalies at Barren Island several times during February 2020 including on 4 (left) and 9 (right) February. An ash emission drifted S from the summit on 9 February. Images use Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); 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/).


Merapi (Indonesia) — March 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Merapi

Indonesia

7.54°S, 110.446°E; summit elev. 2910 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New domes appear in January and February 2021; large explosion on 27 January

Merapi volcano in central Java, Indonesia, has a lengthy history of major eruptive episodes. Activity has included lava flows, pyroclastic flows, lahars, Plinian explosions with heavy ashfall, incandescent block avalanches, block-and-ash flows, and dome growth and destruction. Fatalities from these events were reported in 1994, 2006, and in 2010 when hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated. Renewed phreatic explosions in May 2018 cancelled airline fights and generated significant SO2 plumes. A new lava dome appeared in early August 2018; gradual dome growth and then destruction was accompanied by rockfalls, block-and-ash flows, periodic explosions, and pyroclastic flows through June 2020. The period from October 2020 through February 2021 is covered in this report and includes the growth of two new domes in early 2021. Information is provided primarily by Balai Penyelidikan dan Pengembangan Teknologi Kebencanaan Geologi (BPPTKG), the Center for Research and Development of Geological Disaster Technology, a branch of PVMBG, which monitors activity specifically at Merapi, the 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).

Measurements in late July 2020 showed no change in the dome (BGVN 45:10), though satellite evidence for weak thermal activity near the NW crater rim persisted during August-October 2020 (figure 98). A significant increase in the deformation rate and the appearance of numerous rock avalanches at the end of October led PVMBG to raise the Alert Level from II to III and evacuate hundreds of local residents. During November and December 2020 the deformation rate continued to increase and numerous rock avalanches were reported. Incandescent block avalanches were first reported on 4 January 2021. Block-and-ash flows began on 7 January and increased in frequency throughout the month; a new dome was confirmed that day. The deformation rate decreased significantly as the dome grew in size during January. Hundreds of incandescent block avalanches were recorded through the end of the month. A large explosion on 27 January produced a 12.2-km-high ash plume and a large pyroclastic flow; ashfall was reported in numerous communities. Incandescent block avalanches and block-and-ash flows continued frequently during February 2021; a second dome was reported growing near the center of the summit crater on 17 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. A very small thermal anomaly was recorded in Sentinel-2 satellite data near the NW crater rim at the summit of Merapi during August-October 2020, along with gas emissions. Images are from 21 August 2020 (top left), 15 September 2020 (top right), 20 October 2020 (bottom left), and 13 January 2021 (bottom right). The January anomaly was much larger, noticeable even through cloud cover, six days after PBBTKG scientists confirmed the presence of a new dome growing near the SW crater rim. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The deformation rate at the summit, shortening determined by Electronic Distance Measurements (EDM) interpreted by PBBTK as inflation related to magma moving towards the surface, remained between 1-2 cm per week during August through early -October with just steam-and-gas plumes rising 150-250 m. During the week of 9-15 October PBBTKG reported a deformation rate of 1 cm/day. Drone photographs confirmed no change in the size or shape of the dome on 18 October 2020. The shortening rate increased to 2 cm/day during 16-22 October and the steam-and-gas plumes rose up to 500 m above the summit; the shortening rate increased to 4 cm/day during 23-29 October. PVMBG reported on 28 October that rock avalanches were heard twice in Babadan and Jrakah over the previous 24 hours, but fog prevented observations.

PVMBG raised the Alert Level from II to III on 5 November 2020 based on an increase in both seismicity and the deformation rate. Rock avalanches were heard that day from Babadan. Analyses of the crater area based on photographs from 30 October and 3 November did not show any morphological changes at the dome. The shortening rate, however, increased to 9-10 cm/day during the first three weeks of the month. Rock avalanches were observed on 8 November on the W flank moving as far as 3 km downslope and moving 2 km on 14 November. Photos comparing the SE flank on 11 and 19 November showed that part of the 2018 lava dome had collapsed. Drone images on 16 November also showed a collapse of part of the crater wall. On 22 November rock avalanches from the crater rim moved 1 km down the W flank. Steam and gas emissions were observed from the Babadan Observation Post rising 200-750 m above the summit during the second half of November (figure 99. A photo analysis on 26 November indicated that part of the 1954 lava dome had collapsed since 19 November. The deformation rate had increased to 11 cm/day by the last week of the month. During overflights on 26 and 27 November BNPB and BPPTKG observers noted many new avalanche deposits on the NW, W, and SW flanks. As of 27 November, there were 2,318 people who had been evacuated from the area around the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. Steam and gas emissions at Merapi were observed from the Babadan Observation Post rising 200-750 m above the summit during the second half of November, including on 25 November 2020 shown here. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia Volcano Photo Gallery.

Steam and gas plumes rose 150-400 m above the summit throughout December 2020. Rock avalanches were heard but not seen due to foggy weather during the first few days of the month. On 8 December they were seen falling 200 m upstream of Kali Lamat on the W flank and on 14 December they were observed moving downslope 1.5 km on the NW flank upstream of the Senowo River. Rock avalanches were also observed on 23 December moving 1.5 km down the W flank above Kali Sat ravine and on 31 December moving the same distance above the Senowo River. The deformation rate remained high during December, ranging from 9-11 cm/day through 24 December; it rose to 14 cm/day during the last week. Minor changes were seen in photographs of the summit area, but drone data on 5 and 14 December showed no new lava dome. No lava dome was visible in a clear view of the upper part of the SW flank on 20 December (figure 100); the head of BPPTKG-PVMBG noted that the first observed incandescence in that area was on 31 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. No lava dome was visible in a clear view of the upper part of the SW flank of Merapi on 20 December 2020, although rock avalanches had occurred a number of times during the month; the head of BPPTKG-PVMBG noted that the first observed incandescence in that area was on 31 December. Courtesy of BPPTKG and MAGMA Indonesia Volcano Photo Gallery.

The deformation rate remained very high at 15 cm/day during the first week of January 2021. Rock avalanches were observed on 1 and 3 January that moved 1.5 km from the summit towards Kali Lamat and Kali Senowo on the W and NW flanks. On 4 January incandescent material was observed with a thermal webcam, and rock avalanches were heard at the Babadan Observation Post (figure 101). Incandescent block avalanches were observed 19 times during 4-7 January, traveling 800 m to the upper reaches of Kali Krasak (figure 102). Four block-and-ash flows occurred on 7 January, moving less than 1 km downslope. Comparison of images between 24 December and 7 January revealed a new lava dome. Hanik Humaida, the head of BPPTKG-PVMBG concluded that incandescent lava had appeared at the bottom of the 1997 dome and noted that incandescence had first been observed late on 31 December. PVMBG issued VONAs on 7 and 9 January reporting block-and-ash flows that produced ash plumes which rose to 3.2 km altitude and drifted SW and NW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. Incandescence from the growth of a new dome at Merapi on the SW flank appeared in a thermal webcam image on 4 January 20201. Courtesy of BPPTKG (Terjadi Peningkatan Aktivitas Vulkanik, Teramati Guguran Lava Pijar di Gunung Merapi, 5 January 2021).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 102. Numerous incandescent blocks fell down the SW flank of Merapi from the new lava dome, seen here on 6 January 2021. Courtesy of BPPTKG and MAGMA Indonesia Volcano Photo Gallery.

Incandescent block avalanches were observed 128 times during the second week of January moving as far as 900 m down the SW flank to the upper reaches of Kali Krasak. Two block-and-ash flows were also reported. On 14 January 2021, the measured volume of the new dome was 46,766 m3 with a growth rate of about 8,500 m3/day. Deformation decreased significantly to a shortening rate of 6 cm/day during the second week of the month. Incandescent avalanches continued at a high rate and were reported 282 times during the third week of January (figure 103); they traveled as far as 1,000 m to the upper reaches of the Kali Krasak and Kali Boyong. Block-and-ash flows were recorded 19 times during 15-21 January moving 1,800 m downslope to the SW (figure 104). Compared to the previous week, as measured on 21 January, the new dome had more than doubled in size to 104,000 m3 with an average growth rate of 8,600 m3/day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. There were 20 incandescent block avalanches that fell up to 1,000 m down the SW flank of Merapi from the new dome on 16 January 2021. Courtesy of BPPTKG.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. PVMBG reported a block-and-ash flow (referred to as Awan Panas Guguran or APG) at Merapi that traveled approximately 1,000 m down the SW flank towards Kali Krasak on 18 January 2021. Courtesy of BPPTKG and BNPB (Gunung Merapi Kembali Keluarkan Awan Panas Guguran Sejauh 1.000 Meter, 18 January 2021).

The deformation rate decreased further to less than 1 cm/day by the end of the third week of January. A substantial block-and-ash flow on 19 January that moved 1,800 m down the Krasak and Boyong rivers produced a 500-m-high ash plume that drifted E. According to detikNews, ash fell on 19 January in several villages in Musuk and Tamansari Districts in the Boyolali Regency, and in the Kemalang District in the Klaten Regency (figure 105). The Darwin VAAC reported ash visible in the webcam on 20 and 26 January that drifted downwind close to the summit. Over 200 incandescent block avalanches were observed during the last week of January; the maximum distance traveled was 1,500 m down the SW flank. Block-and-ash flow activity increased significantly during 25-27 January with four flows on 25 January and 13 flows on 26 January which produced ash plumes that rose 300-400 m above the summit and traveled 600-1,500 m down the SW flank. PVMBG reported 31 block-and-ash flows on 27 January that traveled as far as 3 km down the SW flank (figure 106).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Ash from Merapi covered plants in Tegalmulyo Village, in the Klaten Regency on 19 January 2021. Photo by Achmad Syauqi, courtesy of detik.com.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. A block-and-ash flow at Merapi with it’s associated ash plume seen here on 27 January 2021 was one of 36 such events reported by BPPTKG that day; they traveled up to 3 km from the summit down the SW flank. Courtesy of BNPB (Gunung Merapi Erupsi Besar, Begini Penjelasan BPPTKG, 27 January 2021).

The volume of the 2021 lava dome on 25 January 2021 was 157,000 m3, but by 28 January it was only 62,000 m3 as a result of block-and-ash flows, explosions, and pyroclastic flows that occurred on 26-27 January. An explosion on 27 January was reported by the Darwin VAAC, based on multiple ground reports of a significant eruption, although meteoric clouds obscured most ground observations. The ash plume rose to 12.2 km altitude, drifted NW, and was visible in satellite images. Ash emissions from a superheated pyroclastic flow rose to 6.1 km altitude and drifted NE (figure 107). Satellite imagery and pilot reports indicated that the 12.2 km ash plume dissipated after about five hours, while the plumes generated by the pyroclastic flow continued moving E at 3.7 km altitude for several more hours. Sand-sized ash was reported in several villages in the Tamansari District in Boyolali Regency on the E flank including the Dukuh Beling area, Sudimoro (Sangup Village), Lanjaran Village, Mriyan and in Boyolali City, Central Java on 27 January. Dense ash was also reported in Tegalmulyo Village; Sruni Village and Cluntang in the Musuk District also reported ashfall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. A significant explosion at Merapi on 27 January 2021 produced an ash plume to 12.2 km altitude that drifted NW and a pyroclastic flow that sent ash to 6.1 km altitude and drifted NE. The pyroclastic flow is seen here from Ngrangkah, Umbulharjo, Cangkringan, Sleman Regency. Photo by Jauh Hari Wawan S, courtesy of detik.com.

Multiple incandescent rock avalanches were observed during the first week of February 2021. They traveled 500-1,200 m down the SW flank. On 4 February the volume of the 2021 lava dome on the SW flank was measured at 117,400 m3; the growth rate since 28 January was 12,600 m3/day. On 8 February, 23 incandescent block avalanches were reported that traveled as far as 1,500 m from the summit down the SW flank upstream of Kali Krasak and Kali Boyong. Six incandescent avalanches were reported on 9 February; webcams indicated multiple daily incandescent block avalanches for the rest of the month. When measured on 11 February, the dome had grown significantly to 295,000 m3 at a growth rate of 48,900 m3/day (figure 108).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. The 2021 lava dome at Merapi was located at the head of the SW flank, and was almost 300,000 m3 in size on 11 February, two days before this image taken on 13 February 2021. Courtesy of PVMBG and Rizal.

A drone observation on 17 February noted two lava domes at the summit. The first (the 2021 lava dome) was located on the SW flank and was attached to the 1997 lava dome, and a second new dome had appeared more in the center of the summit crater. Based on calculations from aerial photographs, the dome on the SW flank was 258 m long, 133 m wide, and 30 m high, with a volume of 397,500 m3 and growth rate of 25,200 m3/day. The lava dome in the center of the summit crater was 160 m long, 120 m wide, and 50 m high, with a volume of 426,000 m3 and an average growth rate of 10,000 m3/day. Deformation data showed no changes during February. During 24-27 February one or two block-and-ash flows occurred each day, the largest travelled 1,900 m SW (figure 109). The block-and-ash flow on 25 February 2021 at 1652 local time (WIB) produced traces of ashfall in Kali Tengah Lor, Kali Tengah Kidul, Deles, and Tlukan. The volume of the lava dome on the SW flank on 25 February was 618,700 m3 with a growth rate of 13,600 m3/day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. A block-and-ash flow at Merapi on 27 February 2021 descended hundreds of meters down the SW flank and sent ash drifting E mostly below the level of the summit. Courtesy of BPPTKG and MAGMA Indonesia Volcano Photo Gallery.

Geologic Background. Merapi, one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, lies in one of the world's most densely populated areas and dominates the landscape immediately north of the major city of Yogyakarta. It is the youngest and southernmost of a volcanic chain extending NNW to Ungaran volcano. Growth of Old Merapi during the Pleistocene ended with major edifice collapse perhaps about 2,000 years ago, leaving a large arcuate scarp cutting the eroded older Batulawang volcano. Subsequent growth of the steep-sided Young Merapi edifice, its upper part unvegetated due to frequent activity, began SW of the earlier collapse scarp. Pyroclastic flows and lahars accompanying growth and collapse of the steep-sided active summit lava dome have devastated cultivated lands on the western-to-southern flanks and caused many fatalities.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.esdm.go.id/v1, https://magma.esdm.go.id/v1/gunung-api/gallery); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Balai Penyelidikan dan Pengembangan Teknologi Kebencanaan Geologi (BPPTKG), Center for Research and Development of Geological Disaster Technology (URL: http://merapi.bgl.esdm.go.id/, https://twitter.com/BPPTKG/status/1350508928740675584); Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38, East Jakarta 13120, Indonesia (URL: http://www.bnpb.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Detik news (URL: https://news.detik.com/, https://news.detik.com/berita-jawa-tengah/d-5339832/hujan-abu-gunung-merapi-jangkau-desa-di-wilayah-krb-ii-klaten, https://news.detik.com/berita-jawa-tengah/d-5350542/gunung-merapi-erupsi-sirene-bahaya-meraung-warga-turun-ke-tempat-aman, https://news.detik.com/berita-jawa-tengah/d-5350625/gunung-merapi-erupsi-besar-boyolali-diguyur-hujan-abu-campur-pasir?_ga=2.230047007.2076450499.1612195171-14950811.1611700211); Rizal (URL: https://twitter.com/Rizal06691023/status/1360488059649757191).


Yasur (Vanuatu) — April 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Yasur

Vanuatu

19.532°S, 169.447°E; summit elev. 361 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Gas-and-ash emissions, SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies during September 2020-February 2021

Yasur, located at the SE tip of Tanna Island, contains a 400-m-wide summit crater within the small Yenkahe caldera. Its current eruption has been ongoing since at least 1774 and has consisted of Strombolian and Vulcanian activity. More recently, Strombolian activity and gas-and-ash explosions have been reported (BGVN 45:03 and 45:09). This report covers activity from September 2020 through February 2021 that is characterized by ongoing explosions, gas-and-ash emissions, SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies. Information primarily comes from monthly bulletins of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) and various satellite data.

VMGD reported that ongoing explosions and gas-and-ash emissions continued at an elevated level throughout this reporting period, based on ground observations and seismic data. On clear weather days these emissions were captured by Sentinel-2 satellite imagery (figure 75). Some of the more intense explosions may result in larger ejecta falling in or around the summit crater. On 18 January 2021 a webcam image captured a gas-and-ash emission rising above the crater rim at 1500 (figure 76).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Sentinel-2 satellite images showing gas-and-ash emissions rising from the summit crater of Yasur on clear weather days. Ash is visible during 17 October (left) and 21 December 2020 (middle), while white gas-and-steam emissions are observed on 14 February 2021 (right). Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Natural Color” (bands 4, 3, 2) rendering. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Webcam photo of a gas-and-ash emission rising from Yasur on 18 January 2021 taken at 1500. Courtesy of VMGD.

Sulfur dioxide emissions were measured using the Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite instrument for multiple days each month from September through February 2021 (figure 77). The density and drift direction of these SO2 plumes varied. During 17-19 January relatively dense SO2 plumes were detected consecutively, and drifted SE (figure 78).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Occasional SO2 plumes of varying densities were observed from Yasur during each month of September 2020 through February 2021. Plumes drifted generally W on 28 September (top left), 29 October (top right), 6 December (middle right), 25 December 2020 (bottom left), slightly N on 14 November (middle left), and SW on 19 February 2021 (bottom right). Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Relatively high-density SO2 plumes from Yasur during 17 (left), 18 (middle), and 19 (right) January 2021 were observed consecutively using the TROPOMI imaging spectrometer on the Sentinel-5P satellite. The plumes drifted SE on each of the days. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Intermittent thermal anomalies recorded by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system during September 2020 through February 2021 were low to moderate in power (figure 79). Brief noticeable break in activity occurred during early December 2020 and for much of January 2021. The MODVOLC thermal alert data recorded 41 thermal signatures primarily within the summit crater over a total of 25 different days during September 2020-February 2021. Some of these thermal anomalies were also captured in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery; thermal anomalies were visible in the N and S vents in the summit crater (figure 80).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. MIROVA (Log Radiative Power) thermal data for Yasur from 26 May 2020 through February 2021 showed persistent low to moderate thermal activity. A brief but noticeable break in activity occurred during early December, early January, and late January. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing strong thermal anomalies (yellow-orange) in the N and S vents of the summit crater at Yasur each month from September 2020 through February 2021. During 22 September (top left), 17 October (top right), and 26 November (middle left), the two thermal anomalies in the crater were roughly the same intensity. On 21 December (middle right) the anomaly was accompanied by a small, gray ash plume. On 15 January (bottom left) and 24 February (bottom right) the intensity of the anomaly in the N vent and then the S vent had decreased slightly. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Yasur, the best-known and most frequently visited of the Vanuatu volcanoes, has been in more-or-less continuous Strombolian and Vulcanian activity since Captain Cook observed ash eruptions in 1774. This style of activity may have continued for the past 800 years. Located at the SE tip of Tanna Island, this mostly unvegetated pyroclastic cone has a nearly circular, 400-m-wide summit crater. The active cone is largely contained within the small Yenkahe caldera, and is the youngest of a group of Holocene volcanic centers constructed over the down-dropped NE flank of the Pleistocene Tukosmeru volcano. The Yenkahe horst is located within the Siwi ring fracture, a 4-km-wide, horseshoe-shaped caldera associated with eruption of the andesitic Siwi pyroclastic sequence. Active tectonism along the Yenkahe horst accompanying eruptions has raised Port Resolution harbor more than 20 m during the past century.

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


Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — March 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent small phreatic explosions through 13 December 2020

Recent activity at Rincón de la Vieja has been dominated by frequent weak phreatic explosions, with an occasional ash plume, along with gas-and-steam emissions. Sporadic lahars have also been recently reported (BGVN 45:10). The volcano has a hot, churning, acid lake in its main crater. The current report describes activity during October 2020-February 2021, a continuation of the most recent eruptive period that began in January 2020. The primary information source for this report is weekly bulletin from the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA).

According to OVSICORI-UNA, small but frequent hydrothermal explosions continued in October through mid-December 2020, although less energetic than during previous months (figure 34). During the first half of October there were 1-2 daily small explosions. Plumes often rose 500-800 m above the crater rim, but on 1 and 6 October they rose 1 km. Then the number briefly increased to 5-7 small daily explosions before decreasing during the latter part of October; one explosion seen in webcam images on 24 October sent a plume to 1 km above the crater (figure 35).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Graph showing the number of daily eruptions at Rincón de la Vieja during 2020. Following frequent phreatic explosions during April-June, weak intermittent explosions were detected again starting in late July and continuing through December 2020. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Webcam photo of Rincón de la Vieja taken on 24 October 2020 at 0808 local time. According to OVSICORI-UNA, the explosion lasted for about a minute and the resulting plume rose to 1 km above the crater. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA, as reported by The Nacion.

OVSICORI-UNA reported that in November small-to-moderate hydrothermal explosions increased in amplitude, but became more sporadic and by the end of the month had decreased to only one per day. An explosion at 0835 on 3 November produced a plume that rose 800 m above the crater rim. According to OVSICORI’s weekly bulletin for 23 November, there had been 1,437 explosions since the beginning of 2020. A large explosion on 13 December was the last through at least February 2021. During the week of 18 January OVSICORI changed the Alert Level from 3 to 2 due to the low level of activity.

Geodesic monitoring at the summit by GPS indicated no deformation trend in October, significant contraction in November, some extension in December, but then no significant changes through at least February 2021. Aerial observations on 13 February indicated that the crater lake was at a low water level and had sustained convection. The lake level had dropped 15-20 m since February 2020, and 5-10 m since May 2020. Gas monitoring during October 2020-February 2021 was carried out at the Ojo de Agua Santuarium (4 km N of the active crater); sulfur dioxide in the plume was not detected in significant quantities.

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

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/, https://www.facebook.com/OVSICORI/); The Nacion (URL: https://www.nacion.com/).


Kilauea (United States) — March 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New eruption in December 2020 with an active lava lake, lava flows, spattering, and a dome fountain

Kilauea, which overlaps the E flank of the Mauna Loa shield volcano, is the southeastern-most volcano in Hawaii. It’s East Rift Zone (ERZ) has been intermittently active for at least 2,000 years; the most recent eruption period began in January 1983 and was characterized by open lava lakes and lava flows from the summit caldera and the East Rift Zone. During May 2018 lava migrated into the Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) and opened 24 fissures along a 6-km-long NE-trending fracture zone that produced lava flows traveling in multiple directions. Lava fountaining was reported in these fissures and the lava lake in the Halema’uma’u crater drained (BGVN 43:10).

September 2018 marked the end of the previous eruption period after 36 years of continuous activity. A new eruption began during December 2020 in the Halema’uma’u crater, characterized by a new lava lake, lava flows, lava fountaining, and gas-and-steam emissions. This report covers the activity from December 2020 through January 2021 using information provided from the US Geological Survey's (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) in the form of daily reports, volcanic activity notices, and abundant photo, map, and video data.

Monitoring through mid-December 2020. Monitoring data from HVO since the end of the previous eruption in September 2018 included variable rates of seismicity and ground deformation, low rates of sulfur dioxide emissions, and minor morphological changes. Areas of elevated ground temperatures and minor gas emissions persisted in the vicinity of the 2018 LERZ fissures. Since March 2019, GPS stations and tiltmeters at the summit had detected deformation consistent with slow magma accumulation approximately 1-2 km below ground level. In addition, GPS stations in the upper ERZ recorded increased rates of uplift beginning in September. The HVO seismic network recorded 1,450 earthquakes in September, a significant increase over previous months, followed by another increase to 2,100 events in October. The pond at the bottom of the Halema’uma’u crater, which appeared on 25 July 2019, continued to collect water over time, slowly expanding and deepening from 23 m in early January 2020 to 48 m by 3 November 2020 (figure 467).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 467. Photos comparing the growth of the water lake in the Halema’uma’u crater at Kilauea on 18 December 2019 (left) and 23 September 2020 (right). During this time, the lake had risen approximately 25 m and had a surface area of 0.033 km2, compared to December 2019 (0.011 km2). Photos taken from the E rim of Halema’uma’u by K. Mulliken and M. Patrick; courtesy of USGS HVO.

The number of earthquakes detected in November was 1,350, less than what was recorded in October. By late November seismic stations recorded an average of at least 480 shallow, small-magnitude, earthquakes per week underneath the summit and upper ERZ; during 29-30 November HVO recorded over 80 earthquakes beneath the summit, beginning at 2300 on 29 November and continuing for 11 hours. On 2 December, spikes in seismicity were reported, consistent with a small dike intrusion under the S part of the caldera; tiltmeters at the summit detected about 8 cm of caldera floor uplift. At 1745 earthquakes intensified and another spike occurred after 0000 to an average rate of 10-12 earthquakes per hour. Within 24 hours, up to 220 earthquakes were recorded, occurring in clusters under the caldera and upper ERZ, according to HVO. By the afternoon of 3 December, seismicity and ground deformation rates at the summit had decreased and returned to near background levels. On 17 December, the number and duration of long-period seismic signals increased.

Eruptive activity during 20-21 December 2020. On the evening of 20 December at 2030 an earthquake swarm was recorded, accompanied by ground deformation detected by tiltmeters. Shortly after 2130 HVO reported an orange glow within the Halema’uma’u crater at Kilauea’s summit caldera, observed on an infrared monitoring camera, as well as a vigorous gas-and-steam plume, which marked the beginning of the eruption. At 2236 an M 4.4 earthquake was detected below the S flank. The Volcano Alert Level (VAL) was raised to Warning and the Aviation Color Code was raised to Red.

An HVO Volcanic Activity Notice issued on 21 December at 1014 stated that the water lake in the summit crater had boiled away due to new effusive activity, producing a large gas-and-steam emission (figure 468). Three vents in the N, NW, and W walls of the Halema’uma’u crater generated lava flows that fed a growing lava lake at the base of the crater (figure 469). Minor lava fountaining at these vents rose 25 m high; the highest fountain reached 50 m high in the N fissure. The lava lake began rising several meters per hour since the start of the eruption and exhibited a circulating perimeter, but a stagnant center (figure 470). Occasional blasts originated from the ponded lava in the crater. The eruption was confined to the Halema’uma’u crater. On 21 December the VAL was lowered to Warning and the Aviation Color Code decreased to Orange. Sulfur dioxide emission rates remained high at around 30,000 tons/day. In comparison, the emission rates from the pre-2018 lava lake ranged between 3,000-6,500 tons/day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 468. Webcam image of the summit of Kilauea at 0630 on 21 December 2020. The water lake had been replaced by a lava lake as fissure vents in the wall of Halema’uma’u effused lava into the crater. Strong gas-and-steam emissions were visible. Courtesy of HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 469. Map of the Halema’uma’u crater at Kilauea showing the location of volcanic activity shortly after 2130 on 20 December 2020. The red spots are the approximate locations of the three initial fissure vents effusing lava into the bottom of the Halema’uma’u crater. The water lake at the base of the crater had been replaced with a growing lava lake. The lava is deeper by at least 10 m compared to the water lake in this base map. The base map is from imagery collected on 23 September 2020. The eastern-most vent was characterized by lava fountains up to 50 m high with minor fountaining on the W side. Courtesy of HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 470. Aerial view of the summit of Kilauea during an overflight at 1120 on 21 December 2020 showing two active fissure vents that effused lava into the growing lava lake in the Halema’uma’u crater. The N fissure (right-most) is the dominant stream of lava. The fresh cooling lava appears black, surrounding the center of the lake, which was described as stagnant. Courtesy of HVO.

Activity during 22-25 December 2020. The effusive eruption continued on 22 December from at least two vents on the N and W sides of Halema’uma’u; the third vent between the N and W vents paused between 0730 and 0800. The middle and W vents became inundated by the growing lava lake, while the northern-most vent remained vigorous. As of 1151 the crater lake had grown to 487 m below the crater rim, which suggests that the lake had filled 134 m from the crater floor; the rate at which the lake rose was more than 1 m per hour. Measurements made on 22 December showed that approximately 10-12 million cubic meters of lava had been erupted to that point, with a surface area of about 0.13-0.22km2 (figure 471). Another measurement made during the afternoon showed that the volume of the lava lake grew an additional two million cubic meters. The dimensions of the lake were 690 m E-W and 410 m N-S. Overflights were made on 21 and 22 December to obtain natural color and thermal infrared images of the growing lava lake (figure 472).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 471. Location map showing the activity from the new eruption at the summit of Kilauea in the Halema’uma’u crater updated on 22 December 2020 at 1400. Two active fissure vents (orange dots) on the N and W side of the crater fed lava into the growing lava lake (red). The blue dashed line represents the extent of the former water lake (July 2019 to December 2020) that was present in the crater before the eruption and the black dashed line represents the extent of the lava lake that was present during 2008-2018. The current lava lake is larger than both the previous lakes and has formed slightly more N compared to the former lava lake. Map created by M. Zoeller; courtesy of USGS HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 472. Comparison of thermal images taken on 21 December at 1120 (top) and 22 December 2020 at 1130 (bottom) showing the rise and infilling of the lava lake from wall vents in the Halema’uma’u crater at Kilauea’s summit. Images by M. Patrick; courtesy of HVO.

By 23 December the lava lake had deepened to 155 m (figure 473). Two fissure vents on the N and W walls remained active; the W vent fed two narrow channels into the lake and the N vent remained the most vigorous. An island of cooler, solidified, lava within the lava lake that measured 115 x 260 m was drifting slowly eastward, based on a thermal map. During an overflight made later in the day, the approximate surface area was 0.25 km2, with dimensions of 460 x 715 m. High SO2 emissions were an estimated 30,000-40,000 tons/day, based on measurements made on 21 and 23 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 473. Plot showing the increasing depth in Kilauea’s summit lava lake since the beginning of the eruption on 20 December 2020 at 2130. A laser rangefinder was used to take measurements of the lava lake surface about 2-3 times per day. The depth of the lake was about 155 m on 23 December at 0630 (top right) compared to 87 m on 21 December at 0630 (bottom right). In comparison, the water lake that was observed in Halema’uma’u before the start of the eruption was 51 m at its deepest. Plot by H. Dietterich; courtesy of HVO.

Measurements taken on 24 and 25 December showed a continuously growing lava lake that was 169 and 176 m deep, respectively, and the volume of the lake had reached 21 million cubic meters. By 25 December the vigorously erupting N fissure vent was starting to become inundated and the W vent displayed intermittent spattering (figure 474). Around 1400 the lake level had dropped by 2 m to reveal a narrow black ledge around the N edge of the crater. The rate of SO2 emissions decreased to 16,000-20,000 tons/day during 25 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 474. Photo of the Halema’uma’u crater at the summit of Kilauea at 0230 on 25 December 2020 showing lava flows and lava fountaining feeding the lake. The main N vent started to become inundated by the growing lava lake. Intermittent activity continued at the W vent. Photo taken from the S rim of the crater by J. Schmith and C. Parcheta; courtesy of HVO.

Activity during 26-31 December 2020. During the morning of 26 December, at 0240, the N vent continued to erupt lava into the lake while the W vent began to effuse more vigorously with up to three narrow lava flows feeding the lake (figure 475). The depth and volume of the lake remained the same as on 25 December: 176 m deep and 21 million cubic meters. Lava fountaining was visible up to 10 m high above the W vent. After 0300, the N vent declined in activity and started to drain lava from the lake. Summit tiltmeters continued to record some deformation. Effusive activity remained confined to Halema’uma’u; the lava lake was 177 m deep as of 0700 m on 27 December. The SO2 emissions continued to decrease to about 3,300-5,500 tons/day during 27-28 December. Summit tiltmeters continued to record weak inflation.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 475. Photo of the W vent in Halema’uma’u at Kilauea’s summit shows the effusive activity increased on 26 December 2020. Some lava fountaining in this vent was visible while lava flows continued to feed the lake from the N vent. The lava fountaining in the W vent rose at least 10 m high. Photo was taken at 0515 by H. Dietterich; courtesy of HVO.

On 28 December the volume of the lava lake had grown to 21.5 million cubic meters and a thermal map updated on 26 December showed the new dimensions of the lava lake were 520 x 790 m, covering a surface area of 0.29 km2. The narrow black ledge visible above the N edge of the crater was about 1-2 m above the lake surface. During 27-28 December the main central island of cooler, solidified, lava drifted slowly W and measured about 110 x 225 m. The island surface was about 6 m above the lake surface and was covered in tephra, possibly remnants of explosive activity generated when lava first reached the water lake. Reduced, but still elevated, SO2 emissions were 3,300 tons/day; the emission plume carried Pele’s Hair and Pele’s Tears SW, depositing the tephra in areas downwind.

Effusive activity continued, with the lava lake measuring 179-180 m deep with a narrow black ledge around it as of 0400 on 29 December. Multiple narrow lava channels from the W vent fed into the crater. The lava lake volume was slightly more than 22 million cubic meters. The central 135 x 250 m island of solidified lava had drifted slowly W until 2200 on 28 December, then during the morning of 29 December it stalled and began rotating. There were about 10 smaller islands to the E.

On the morning of 30 December, at 0345, the lava lake was 181 m deep with the narrow black ledge around it; the lava lake was an estimated volume of 23 million cubic meters. A spatter cone built around the W vent, while lava effused through crusted-over channels. The main central island was about 6-8 m above the surface of the lake. The rate of SO2 emissions were 3,800 tons/day.

Similar observations were made during 31 December; the lava lake continued to grow, with the depth of the lake measuring 181-186 m and dimensions of 530 x 800 m, based on thermal mapping. The total surface area was 0.33 km2. Spattering continued in the W vent while lava flowed through crusted-over channels into the lake (figure 476). The main island in the lake continued to drift slowly W while roughly 10 smaller islands were observed around the E end of the crater (figure 477). The SO2 emission rate increased to 4,500-6,300 tons/day, compared to the previous day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 476. Photo of the active W vent in Halema’uma’u at the summit of Kilauea, viewed from the W crater rim on 31 December 2020 with incandescence, spattering, and a prominent spatter cone; the lava lake is visible in the right background. Photo by B. Carr; courtesy of HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 477. Annotated photo taken from the S rim of Halema’uma’u at the summit of Kilauea at 1700 on 30 December 2020 showing the location of the main central island and the smaller islands located on the eastern part of the crater. The W vent continued to effuse lava, as well as some spattering, while the N vent was inactive. Photo by K. Lynn; courtesy of HVO.

Activity during January 2021. Effusive activity continued within Halema’uma’u during January 2021. Lava originated from the NW side of the crater, with the W vents exhibiting spattering and lava effusions through crusted-over channels into the lava lake. A levee had also begun to develop around the perimeter of the lake (figure 478), creating what is known as a “perched” lake. According to HVO, this is common in lava lakes at Kilauea, and is due to repeated small overflows and the rafting and piling of surface crust that fuses together to form a barrier. During 31 December and 1 January the main island of solidified lava (135 x 250 m) had moved W while the other 10 smaller islands remained near the E side of the lake. Summit tiltmeters recorded weak deflation during 1-2 January. Both SO2 emission rates and seismicity remained elevated; the SO2 emission rate was 4,400 tons/day on 1 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 478. Photo of the lava lake in Halema’uma’u at Kilauea on 1 January 2021 that has developed a levee (darker black) around the perimeter, allowing the lake to be slightly perched above its base. Photo by M. Patrick; courtesy of HVO.

During 2-3 January the depth of the lake had grown to 189-190 m, had a volume of 26 million cubic meters, and still maintained the narrow black ledge around its perimeter. Measurements on 3 January showed that the lake was perched about a meter above its E and W edges, and discontinuously on the N edge. A thermal webcam showed spatter originating from two places in the W vents and a small dome fountain above the lake crust in front of the W vents (figure 479). The dome fountain had formed where lava was entering the lake from a submerged inlet at the base of the W vent. The height of the dome fountain reached 5 m and the width was an estimated 10 m. The main island, about 6 m above the lake surface, continued to drift W in front of the W vents while the 10 smaller islands remained relatively stationary near the E end of the lake.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 479. Video data showed the lava at Kilauea’s summit crater formed a dome fountain at the inlet to the lava lake in Halema’uma’u during 2-3 January 2021. The fountain is located near the base of the W vents where the inlet had become partially submerged. The 5-m-high dome fountain was about 10 m wide. Video by H. Dietterich; courtesy of HVO.

Lava effusion continued during 4-5 January from vents on the NW side of the crater. The lava lake was perched 1-2 m above its edge and had deepened to 191-192 m (figure 480). A thermal map from 5 January showed the perched lake dimensions had slightly decreased in size to 520 x 760 m, with a volume of about 27 million cubic meters. Summit tiltmeters continued to record weak deflation. Spatter in the W vents was visible from the top of a small cone on the NW wall of Halema’uma’u; the dome fountain persisted in front of the W vents (figure 481). The main island was rotating counterclockwise in front of the W vent while the now 11 smaller islands had generally stayed in the E side of the crater. Measurements on 4 January showed that the island was 7-8 m above the lake surface.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 480. A comparison of the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and topographic profiles of the Halema’uma’u crater at Kilauea created from aerial imagery collected during helicopter overflights, showing the change in depth and elevation of the lava lake between 26 December 2020 (left) and 5 January 2021 (right). The N vent remained inactive as it became inundated by the rising lava. The central island had migrated W and rotated by 5 January. The depth of the lava lake was 192 m on 5 January. DEMs created by B. Carr, graphic created by K. Mulliken; courtesy of USGS HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 481. Photo of the Halema’uma’u crater at Kilauea at 0545 on 5 January 2021 showing ongoing activity at the W vent, generating a lava flow that feeds both the lake and the dome fountain. Photo by K. Lynn; courtesy of USGS HVO.

HVO continued to monitor the changes in the active lava lake on 6 January, which was 194 m deep and remained perched 1-2 m above its edge. At 1500 rapid deflationary tilt was recorded overnight into 7 January. Lava from the W vents continued to feed the dome fountain through crusted-over channels on the W side of the crater. During the morning of 7 January the dome fountain weakened giving way to spattering at the top of the vent and the formation of a second cone. A thermal map on 7 January showed that the lake size had decreased to 470 x 760 m, covering 0.28 km2; more of the E part appeared to be stagnant while solidified lava was being progressively pulled beneath the molten surface (figure 482). SO2 emissions were still elevated at 3,400 tons/day on 6 January, but had decreased to 2,700 tons/day the next day. During 7-8 January incandescence was visible from two small cones on the NW wall of Halema’uma’u while lava flowed into the lake through a crusted channel. The main island remained 135 x 250 m; it had moved slightly E while the 11 smaller islands remained stationary.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 482. Thermal image (top) and photo (bottom) of the lava lake at Kilauea showing the larger central island on the W side of the Halema’uma’u crater and 11 smaller islands on the E side of the crater, taken on 7 and 9 January 2021, respectively. The lake is slightly perched and surrounded by a lower ledge of cooler lava along the perimeter (appears pink-purple in the thermal image along the perimeter). The lava effusion at the W vent has become less intense and much of the E half of the lake has stagnated completely, likely because the lake level has not changed significantly in the last three days. Image by M. Patrick (top) and photo by H. Dietterich (bottom); courtesy of HVO.

Incandescence and spatter continued on 9 January at the two W vents as lava descended through a crusted channel into the lake. Summit tiltmeters recorded weak deflation since 1 January, but on the evening of 9 January weak inflation was detected. A newly installed instrument during 9-10 January showed that the lake had risen about a meter since the switch to inflationary tilt. The depth of the lake slightly increased to 196 m below the W vents on the morning of 10 January. The W vents exhibited strong lava flows during the afternoon with spattering and spatter-fed lava flows from the top of the small cones on the NW wall of Halema’uma’u; lava also flowed through crusted-over channels into the lake. Low lava fountaining was also visible during 10-11 January. The SO2 emission rates were 2,300 tons/day and 2,500 tons/day on 10 and 11 January, respectively.

During the morning of 12 January the lava lake remained at a depth of 196 m below the W vents; the stagnant E half of the lake was about 4 m shallower and had subsided below its perched rims. Low lava fountaining and flows through channels from the top of the small cones were visible. Measurements of the main island on 12 January showed that it was 8 m above the surface, with the highest point at 23 m. By 13 January, the depth of the lake had increased to 198 m. On 13 January a small portion of the active cone had collapsed, causing a second vent to open adjacent to the main vent and effuse lava for less than 20 minutes.

Activity continued in Halema’uma’u with low fountaining, lava flows, and spattering from the W vent through 22 January (figure 483). The depth of the lake continued to increase slowly to 204 m on 22 January. The entire lake was perched 1-2 m above the crust between the levees along the perimeter and the crater wall. All of the islands of solidified lava within the lake were stagnant; the dimensions of the main island were unchanged since 10 January. On 14 January the SO2 emissions increased to 4,700 tons/day, then decreased to 2,500 tons/day on 16 January. On 19 January at 1746 field crews observed a minor collapse event from the spatter cone on its N rim and open channel margins at the W vent (figure 484). Summit tiltmeters began to detect some deflation on 20 January; the rate of which began to slow by 21 January. Measurements on 22 January showed that the S end of the main island was 12 m above the lava lake surface, with the highest point still around 23 m.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 483. Photo of low fountaining and an accompanying lava flow at the W vent of Halema’uma’u at Kilauea on 15 January 2021. The vent formed a spatter cone around the fountaining as the flow moved through an open channel into the lake. Photo by M. Patrick; courtesy of HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 484. Series of photos showing the W vent at Kilauea (seen from the S rim looking NW) that continued to feed the growing lava lake in Halema’uma’u through an open channel. At 1746 on 19 January field crews observed a minor collapse on the N rim of the spatter cone and channel margins. The photo at 1731 (top left) shows the vent just before the collapse; the photo at 1746 (top right) shows just after the collapse; the photos at 1749 (bottom left) and at 1811 (bottom right) show the destabilization and movement of the portion of the remaining cone flank surrounded by incandescence. Photos by H. Dietterich; courtesy of HVO.

During the morning of 23-25 January the lava lake was about 205 m deep; the W half remained active with low fountaining and a lava flow while the E half was stagnant (figure 485). The E side of the lake was elevated about 1-2 m and the W half was elevated about 4 m above the solidified lava adjacent to the crater wall. HVO reported that summit tiltmeters continued to record variable inflation and deflation. On 23 January SO2 emission rates were 2,200 tons/day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 485. Map of the Halema’uma’u crater at the summit of Kilauea on 25 January 2021 showing the locations of the active lava lake (red), the extent of the lava lake (light red), the major islands of solidified lava (yellow), the active W vent (orange), and the inactive N vent (maroon). The depth of the lake is 205 m, the size of the lake is 0.1 km2, and the total lake volume is 31 million cubic meters. In comparison, the dashed blue line represents the final extent of the water lake that evaporated on 20 December 2020 and the dashed black line represents the extent of the 2008-2018 lava lake. Courtesy of USGS HVO.

The depth of the lava lake continued to deepen, and by the evening of 27 January it was 209 m, while the stagnant E half remained up to 5 m lower. The active lake surface no longer extended around the E side of the central island; surface circulation was limited to the W, N, and S sides of the island. Activity in the W vents consisted of slow surface movements at the base of the lava flow and overturning of the crust near its margins. The E side of the lake was elevated approximately 1 m while the W was 3 m above the solidified lava adjacent to the crater wall. All the islands within the lake were stationary. By 28 January only the W part of the lava lake was active. On 29 January, measurements made on the main island showed its edges were 7-8 m above the lake surface.

On the morning of 30 and 31 January, the active W part of the lava lake was 211 and 212 m deep, respectively; the W vent had crusted over except for a single (possibly two) openings that were mostly obscured by degassing, though several incandescent areas on the cone were visible. Surface lava continued to effuse into the central part of Halema’uma’u from the base of the cone (figure 486). A series of surface cracks separated the active and stagnant parts of the lake. During 30-31 January tiltmeters recorded inflation at the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 486. Photo showing the leading edge of an active lava lobe moving S into the central part of Halema’uma’u at Kilauea on 31 January 2021. Photo by M. Patrick; courtesy of HVO.

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, Hawai'i National Park, HI 96718, USA (URL: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/).


Pacaya (Guatemala) — March 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Increasing activity with ash emissions, explosions, and lava flows on multiple flanks during December 2020-February 2021

Extensive lava flows, bomb-laden Strombolian explosions, and ash plumes emerging from Mackenney crater have characterized the persistent activity at Pacaya since 1961. The latest eruptive episode began with intermittent ash plumes and incandescence in June 2015; the growth of a new pyroclastic cone inside the summit crater was confirmed later that year. The cone has continued to grow, producing frequent loud Strombolian explosions rising above the crater rim and ongoing ash emissions. In addition, fissures on the flanks of the summit crater have been the source of an increasing number of lava flows traveling distances of over one kilometer down multiple flanks during 2019 and into 2021. Increasing explosive and effusive activity during December 2020-February 2021 is covered in this report with information provided by Guatemala's Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH), multiple sources of satellite data, and numerous photographs from observers on the ground.

Eruptive activity increased substantially during December 2020-February 2021. During December, ash emissions were reported fewer than half the days of the month; by February, dense ash emissions drifted many kilometers most days, and ashfall was reported numerous times in the surrounding communities. Strombolian explosions in December generally rose 50-125 m above the summit of the pyroclastic cone; by February they were commonly rising 300 m or more and sending ejecta 500 m from the summit. Numerous lava flows were reported on the NW, W, and S flanks during the period; a flow that emerged on the SSW flank on 7 January 2021 persisted through the end of February and was 800-1,200 m long. Strombolian activity also occurred at the fissure where the flow emerged, and incandescent blocks rolled hundreds of meters beyond the front of the flow. A steady increase in thermal activity was recorded with the MIROVA Log Radiative Power graph during December 2020 – February 2021 (figure 145). This corresponded to the persistent lava flows on multiple flanks and constant Strombolian activity. Multiple MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued many days each month during the period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 145. The MIROVA graph of thermal anomalies at Pacaya from 13 May 2020 through February 2021 shows activity increasing in frequency and intensity beginning in late August 2020. Multiple lava flows from fissures on the flanks and Strombolian activity from the pyroclastic cone inside Mackenney crater were reported throughout the period. Courtesy of MIROVA.

The Washington VAAC reported an ash emission at Pacaya that rose to 3.0 km altitude and drifted WSW on 3 December 2020; it dissipated within a few hours. INSIVUMEH reported daily gas and steam plumes that rose a few hundred meters and sometimes drifted as far as 10 km. They also reported ash emissions along with the gas and steam on 10, 12-14, 16-18, 24-25, and 28 December. The ash plumes usually rose 300-400 m and drifted a few kilometers with the wind. On the evening of 28 December ash reached populated places including San José El Rodeo. Strombolian explosions at the summit occurred daily and rose 50-125 m above the Mackenney crater rim (figure 146). Ejecta was reported to heights of 250 m on 13 December and 200 m on 21 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 146. Explosions sent ejecta up to 125 meters above the Mackenney cone crater at Pacaya on 29 December 2020. In addition, lava flows with multiple branches were active on the W flank. Courtesy of CONRED (LAVA FLOWS IN PACAYA VOLCANO CONTINUE ACTIVE, 29 December 2020, Informative Bulletin No. 582-2020).

Lava flow activity continued on the SW flank throughout December 2020 and high winds remobilized ash on the flanks a number of times during the month. On 1 December the flow was about 675 m long and moving to the SW. Two branches were active the next day and three were reported on 6 December. A second flow appeared on the NW flank on 9 December on the plateau near Cerro Chino and grew to 250 m long (figure 147). Both flows had incandescent block avalanches spalling off their fronts and rolling at least 100 m. The SW-flank flow remained 450-550 m long through 11 December, and then grew to around 700 m the next day. Branches from both flows extended 700-1,000 m by 15 December and were moving NW, W, and SW. The NW-flank flow was growing through 16 December. Three 600-m-long branches were active on the SW-flank flow on 21 December. In a special bulletin released on 23 December, INSIVUMEH noted that the SW-flank flow was still active from the same mid-flank fissure where it originated on 20 October 2020, and consisted of 5-7 branches with lengths varying from 600-750 m (figure 148). For the remainder of December, multiple branches of the active SW-flank flow were between 525 and 650 m long, with block avalanches falling off the front that generated ash clouds.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 147. Sentinel 2 satellite imagery of Pacaya from 10 December 2020 revealed a thermal anomaly at the summit (lower right of center image), a multi-branch flow 550 meters long on the W flank (left of center image), and a small anomaly from the beginning of a new flow on the NW flank. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (BOLETÍN VULCANOLÓGICO ESPECIAL BEPAC # 119-2020, Guatemala, 10 de diciembre de 2020, 19:30 horas (Hora Local), “ACTUALIZACIÓN DE LA ACTIVIDAD VOLCÁNICA”).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 148. Sentinel 2 satellite imagery of Pacaya on 20 (left) and 30 (right) December 2020 indicated thermal activity at the summit and on the NW and W flanks. The NW-flank lava flow was active from 9-16 December, and still cooling in the 20 December image. The WSW-flank lava flow had multiple branches between 525 and 650 m long for the last half of the month. Images use Atmospheric Penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

In a special bulletin issued on 1 January 2021 INSIVUMEH reported an increase in eruptive activity that produced Strombolian explosions which sent ejecta 300 m high and up to 100 m from the summit. Constant rumblings like a train and shock waves were heard and felt in nearby communities. Strombolian explosions continued to rise 75-200 m above the rim throughout the month, and numerous gas emissions rose 100-300 m and drifted as far as 10 km (figure 149). Ash emissions were noted on 1, 6, 7, 11, 13, 18, 19, 21-23, 25, 27, and 31 January. On 7 January ash drifted SW at 3 km altitude and ejecta was reported 300 m from the summit. INSIVUMEH noted that the columns of ash reached 300-500 m above the crater that day, generating loud rumbling and shock waves that vibrated roofs and windows in nearby villages. On 12 January explosions sent material 300 m high. A VAAC report on 22 January noted an ash plume drifting NW from the summit at 3.4 km altitude. INSIVUMEH remarked in a special report that day that ash fell in San Vicente Pacaya and in San Francisco de Sales. The ash emissions on 25 January were brown to gray, sporadic overnight and more continuous in the early morning, drifting 1-4 km W. On 27 and 31 January ash drifted 10 km W.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 149. Strombolian explosions rose 75-200 m above the summit of the pyroclastic cone inside Pacaya’s Mackenney crater on 7 January 2020 and throughout the month. On the NW flank, multiple branches of lava appeared as red to white areas in this thermal image. Thermal image courtesy of INSIVUMEH (BOLETÍN VULCANOLÓGICO ESPECIAL BEPAC002-2021, 12:00 horas (Hora Local), EXPLOSIONES CON CENIZA).

Multiple lava flows emerged from the flanks of Pacaya during January 2021. The lava flow that began on 20 October 2020 on the W flank continued to be active through about 8 January with branches flowing 400-600 m W and SW. A flow on the SSW flank began on 2 January from a vent 200 m below the rim of Mackenney crater. By 6 January it was feeding 3-4 flows from the same point, each 400 m long with block avalanches falling off the fronts and moving W, SW, and S down the flanks (figure 150). In the morning of 7 January two flows were seen on the N flank, 200 and 50 m long. Later that night another flow appeared on the SSW flank that lengthened rapidly, reaching 425 m the next day, and was 1,200 m long on 9 January (figure 151). High temperatures were still present on the W and SW flanks from the earlier flows. The SSW flow reached 1,500 m in length on 10 January and fluctuated between 1,200 and 1,600 m through 17 January when Strombolian activity ejecting material 5-10 m high was reported from the fissure. More Strombolian activity at the fissure was noted on 22 January, and the flow remained 800-1,150 m long through the 23rd. The flow reached 1,700 m in length on 25 January; for the rest of the month, it was reported as 800-1,000 m long, with block avalanches traveling an additional 200-400 m from the flow front. Strombolian activity reached 65 m high from the fissure at the head of the flow on 28 January. On 30 January multiple branches of the SSW flow were visible from a vantage point south of the volcano (figure 152).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 150. Multiple flows emerged from a single vent at Pacaya on 5 January 2021. The fissure was located about 300 m below the rim of Mackenney crater on the SSW flank. Incandescent debris falls from the front of the flow generated an ash plume seen at the bottom center of the image. Copyrighted photo by Deybin Fotografia, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 151. A lava flow at Pacaya that first emerged on 7 January 2021 on the SSW flank grew quickly to over a kilometer long by 9 January and remained 800-1,000 m long for the rest of the month, often with incandescent blocks falling several hundred meters beyond the front of the flow. A thermal anomaly persisted at the summit of the pyroclastic cone inside Mackenney crater as well from constant Strombolian activity. A weak anomaly was also visible on the NW flank from earlier activity. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a) of Sentinel 2 images. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 152. Multiple branches of Pacaya’s SSW-flank-flow that began on 7 January 2021 were visible from a vantage point S of the volcano on 30 January. The branches were at least 700 m long with incandescent blocks falling several hundred meters farther down the flanks. The white lights below the flow are from people approaching the flow. Courtesy of David Rojas, used with permission.

Increased Strombolian activity during February 2021 was accompanied by frequent ash emissions that rose to 3.0-3.5 km altitude. The explosions often reached 225 m above the crater rim, and higher during pulses of increased activity. On 5 February ash drifted W, NW, and SW about 4 km and ashfall was reported in San Francisco de Sales, Concepcion el Cedro, and Calderas. A pulse of increased Strombolian activity on 6 February sent ejecta 400-500 m around the pyroclastic cone and columns of ash drifted 6 km NW and N. Ashfall was reported in the same areas as the day before, plus in El Bejucal, Mesías Altas and other communities in that region. Abundant ash emissions were reported by INSIVUMEH overnight on 7-8 February; variable winds dispersed the ash 30 km to the NW and W and 10 km N (figure 153). The ash emissions were accompanied by ejecta that landed 300 m from the summit. By the next day, ash had drifted as far as 66 km W and NW and ashfall was reported in El Patrocinio, El Rodeo, and El Caracol. Prolonged rumbling as loud as an airplane engine was reported from strong degassing. The Washington VAAC reported ash emissions in satellite imagery on 9 February at 3.8 km altitude drifting NW about 65 km from the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 153. Dense ash emissions increased in frequency at Pacaya during February 2021. Ash emissions on 6 (left) and 8 (right) February resulted in ashfall in multiple communities around the volcano and were accompanied by incandescent ejecta falling hundreds of meters from the summit. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (BOLETÍN VULCANOLÓGICO ESPECIAL BEPAC 006-2021, 009-2021).

High levels of similar activity continued through 10 February when 500-m-high ejecta was observed inside Mackenney crater. An increase in the seismic amplitude on 11 February was accompanied by ash plumes rising to 3.0-3.2 km altitude and drifting 15-20 km W and SW. Ashfall was reported in Patrocinio and El Rodeo. The next day ashfall was reported in San Francisco de Sales, San Jose Calderas, and Concepción el Cedro. On 13 February the Washington VAAC reported ash plumes visible in satellite imagery at 4.3 km altitude moving ENE, and ash fell in Santa Elena Barillas, Mesillas Bajas, and Mesillas Altas as the wind carried ash 6 km W, N, and NE; ash on 14 February drifted 5 km E. A new pulse of activity late on 16 February, the third in a week, produced incandescent material 400 m high; high-pressure gas also created plane engine noises, with roofs and windows rattled in nearby communities. Ashfall from the event was reported in Los Llanos, Los Pocitos, El Cedro, and other communities within 4 km. Another pulse on 18 February sent ejecta 200 m high, variable winds sent ash primarily NE and S. Two more pulses of activity on the morning of 19 February were recorded as increases in seismic amplitude by the PCG5 seismic station (figure 154). The first pulse was accompanied by a new lava flow appearing on the NW flank. The second pulse coincided with ash emissions that rose 500 m above the crater and drifted 8 km S, producing ashfall in Los Pocitos and plantations in that vicinity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 154. Two increases in seismic amplitude at Pacaya were recorded during the morning of 19 February 2021 at seismic station PCG5. The first corresponded to the effusion of a new lava flow on the NW flank (left), and the second coincided with a pulse of ash plumes that drifted S (right). Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (BOLETÍN VULCANOLÓGICO ESPECIAL BEPAC 31-2021, Incremento de actividad por emission de ceniza y surgimiento de nuevo flujo de lava).

Ash emissions from explosions on 20 February drifted 10-25 km S and SW, resulting in ashfall in El Rodeo and El Patrocinio. That evening incandescent material rose 300-400 m above the summit and ejecta reached 500 m down the flanks of the cone (figure 155). The next day ash plumes rose to 2.8-3.2 km altitude and drifted SW with ashfall reported in San Francisco de Sales, El Cedro, and other plantations in the area (figure 156). During 22-24 February ash emissions rose as high as 800 m above the summit and drifted 3-5 km W, SW, and S. Ashfall drifted over 30 km S and SW on 24 February with ashfall reported in the villages of Los Pocitos, Pacaya, El Rodeo, and El Patrocinio. Pulses of increased activity on 26 February produced an ash plume 2.5 km above the summit. With variable wind directions at different altitudes, the ash drifted both N and S. The Washington VAAC reported the plume drifting N at 3.9 km altitude. This activity was accompanied by incandescent explosions that rose 500 m above the Mackenney crater, and noises as loud as an airplane engine. Similar pulses of activity continued through the end of the month, producing ash plumes that rose to 3.5 km altitude and drifted W and SW; ashfall was reported in El Patrocinio on 28 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 155. During the weekend of 20-21 February 2021 when this photo was taken, Strombolian explosions at Pacaya sent ejecta 400 m above the summit of the cone and 500 m down the flanks, while a lava flow remained active on the SSW flank. Copyrighted photo by David Rojas, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 156. On 21 February 2021, ash plumes at Pacaya rose to 2.8-3.2 km altitude and drifted SW with ashfall reported in San Francisco de Sales, El Cedro, and other plantations in the area. Courtesy of Luis Figueroa.

The lava flow on the SSW flank was about 900 m long at the beginning of February with block avalanches falling about 100 m from the front of the flow, and Strombolian explosions active at the fissure at the head of the flow. Two distinct branches of the flow were visible on 6 February, one 1,200 and one 800 m long; multiple branches were active throughout the month (figure 157). High levels of activity continued; during 10-12 February the flow was 1,200-1,300 m long and loose blocks were descending an additional 200 m. During 13-18 February high temperature zones were still present on the N and NW flanks from earlier flows. From 14-18 February the S-flank flow was 900-1,100 m long with multiple branches and Strombolian activity at the vent (figure 158). A new flow appeared briefly on the NW flank during 19-20 February. High-temperature zones remained on the NW flank during 22-24 February. The S-flank flow remained active throughout the rest of February and was 800-1,100 m long, with incandescent blocks traveling up to 600 m beyond the flow fronts (figure 159).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 157. Multiple branches of the S-flank lava flow at Pacaya were active throughout February 2021. Strombolian activity was observed at the fissure where the flow emerged, and incandescent blocks rolled hundreds of meters beyond the flow front. The fissure was located about 300 m below the crater rim. The thermal anomaly from the Strombolian activity at the summit of the pyroclastic cone inside Mackenney crater was also visible in most satellite images. Atmospheric penetration rendering of Sentinel 2 image uses bands 12, 11, 8a. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 158. A lava flow about 1 km long on the S flank of Pacaya was active throughout the month; on 16 February 2021 Strombolian activity at the summit and at the head of the flow were visible. Multiple branches of the flow sent incandescent blocks hundreds of meters beyond the flow front. Copyrighted image by Berner Villela, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 159. The lava flow on the S flank of Pacaya had several active branches as seen in this thermal image on 21 February 2021. The source fissure vent was about 300 m below the rim of Mackenney crater. Incandescent blocks fell hundreds of meters beyond the fronts of the flows. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH and Roberto Iboy.

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/); 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); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Deybin Fotografía (URL: https://www.facebook.com/Deybin-fotografía-2316704905277353, https://twitter.com/UniversoNews1/status/1347037016324792327); David Rojas (URL: https://twitter.com/DavidRojasGt/status/1360789438545149957); Luis Figueroa (URL: https://twitter.com/luisficarpediem/status/1363664541318598657); Berner Villela (URL: https://bernervillela.com/galerias/naturaleza, https://twitter.com/soy_502/status/1362846917743366146); Roberto Iboy (URL: https://twitter.com/IboyRoberto/status/1363688900401709057).


Villarrica (Chile) — March 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Villarrica

Chile

39.42°S, 71.93°W; summit elev. 2847 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions, ash plumes, crater incandescence, and an active lava lake during September 2020-February 2021

Villarrica, located in Chile, has had historical eruptions dating back to 1558. The current eruption period began in December 2014 and more recently has been characterized by summit crater incandescence, Strombolian explosions, and ash emissions (BGVN 45:09). This report covers activity during September 2020 through February 2021, which consists of an active lava lake, explosions, ash plumes, and nighttime crater incandescence. Information is provided by the Southern Andes Volcano Observatory (Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur, OVDAS), part of Chile's National Service of Geology and Mining (Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería, SERNAGEOMIN), the Projecto Observación Villarrica Internet (POVI), part of the Fundacion Volcanes de Chile, a private research group that studies volcanoes across Chile, the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

Activity during September 2020 was characterized by an active lava lake, white gas-and-steam plumes that rose 500 m above the crater, nighttime crater incandescence that could be observed on clear days, and sporadic ash emissions produced by minor explosions. During 5 and 7 September tephra deposits extended up to 36 m on the E and SE flanks, according to satellite data. On 25 September the seismic network recorded a long-period earthquake associated with a moderate explosion at 1350, which produced an ash plume that rose 800 m above the crater and drifted ENE (figure 104); blocks of ejecta were deposited around the crater. A second explosion was recorded at 1829 in conjunction with another long-period event, which generated an ash plume that rose 450 m above the crater (figure 104). Sentinel L2 A satellite images were used to determine that ashfall extended 3.8 km SSE, 865 m SE, and 275 m N as a result of the explosions during the day. The POVI webcam captured incandescent ejecta at night on 27 September (figure 105).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 104. Explosions at Villarrica on 25 September 2020 at 1350 (top) and 1829 (bottom) produced a long-period seismic signal and ash plumes that rose 800 m and 450 m above the crater, respectively and drifted ENE. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN (Reporte Especial de Actividad Volcanica (REAV), Region De La Araucania y Los Rios, Volcan Villarrica, 25 de septiembre de 2020, 14:35 Hora local y 25 de septiembre de 2020, 19:20 Hora local).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Incandescent ejecta up to 100 m above the summit of Villarrica was captured in the POVI webcam at night on 27 September 2020. Courtesy of POVI.

Intermittent white gas-and-steam plumes, ash explosions, and nighttime crater incandescence continued during October. On 4 October SERNAGEOMIN reported a long-period event accompanied by a moderate explosion at 1130, generating an ash plume that rose 450 m above the crater and drifted NE. The next day on 5 October two long-period events were recorded at 1343 and 1347 associated with explosions, resulting in ash plumes that rose to 400 m above the crater and drifted SE (figure 106). On 12 October a satellite image showed an ash plume drifting 2.5 km NE and a strip of tephra deposits measuring 200 m wide and 3 km long on the NE flank, as a result of two eruptive events on 9 October, according to POVI and Sentinel-2 satellite imagery.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Explosions at Villarrica on 5 October 2020 produced a long-period seismic signal and an ash plume that rose 400 m above the crater and drifted SE. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN (Reporte Especial de Actividad Volcanica (REAV), Region De La Araucania y Los Rios, Volcan Villarrica, 5 de octubre de 2020, 14:20 Hora local).

Moderate explosions were detected at 0534 and 0804 on 15 October, associated with two long-period earthquakes. As a result, ash plumes rose as high as 900 m above the crater and gas-and-steam plumes rose to 450 m, according to SERNAGEOMIN. The explosion at 0534 was accompanied by crater incandescence and incandescent ejecta that were deposited on the E flank as far as 3 km. An analysis of Planet Scope and Sentinel-2 satellite images showed that ash deposits extended 4.4 km NE. On 20 October an explosion and long-period event were recorded at 1722 that resulted in an ash plume 240 m above the crater that drifted S (figure 107). Explosions recorded during 22-23 October produced ash plumes that rose 780 m and 180 m above the crater, respectively, according to a Buenos Aires VAAC report and SERNAGEOMIN. The event on 22 October deposited tephra up to 3.8 km on the E flank.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. An explosion at Villarrica on 20 October 2020 at 1722 was characterized by a long-period earthquake and a dense, gray ash plume that rose 240 m above the crater and drifted S. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN (Reporte Especial de Actividad Volcanica (REAV), Region De La Araucania y Los Rios, Volcan Villarrica, 20 de octubre de 2020, 18:00 Hora local).

Ash explosions continued in November, accompanied by intermittent nighttime crater incandescence and white gas-and-steam plumes. On 5 November a pulse of ash was observed at 1442 that rose 350 m above the crater and drifted NW. Similar activity was noted on 6 November at 0757 and 0808 when ash rose 350 m above the crater and at 1412 when ash rose 250 m above the crater, both of which drifted NW (figure 108). According to a Buenos Aires VAAC report on 7 November, an isolated ash plume was detected in satellite images up to 4.3 km altitude, drifted ESE. A Differential Absorption Optical Spectroscopy Unit (DOAS) showed average values of SO2 totaling 140 tons/day during 7-8 and 15 November with a maximum daily value of 168 tons/day on 7 November. An explosive event at 0051 on 8 November ejected incandescent material and produced an ash plume that rose 220 m above the crater (figure 108). On 10 November OVDAS reported an ash plume rose 320 m above the crater and drifted SSW, accompanied by continuous seismic tremor at 1514. Ash continued to be reported during 16-17 November rising 160 m above the crater and to 3.7 km altitude, respectively. Data from the DOAS showed that SO2 emissions had slightly increased to an average of 166 tons/day during 16-30 November, with a maximum daily value of 549 tons/day on 22 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 108. Explosions that generated ash and incandescent ejecta at the summit of Villarrica were captured by the POVI webcam during 6-8 November 2020 (left to right). Courtesy of POVI.

The number of ash events decreased in December compared to the previous months, though similar activity persisted. On clear nights, crater incandescence was visible, accompanied by white gas-and-steam emissions. SERNAGEOMIN reported a single long-period earthquake associated with a moderate explosion at 1844 on 5 December with a resulting ash plume that rose 160 m above the crater and drifted SSE; some ashfall was detected within 500 m of the crater, based on Sentinel-2, Pleiades, and SkySat data, and incandescent material was deposited on the SSE flanks (figure 109). According to POVI, during an overflight on 9 December scientists observed a lava lake 10-15 m in diameter that was partially covered by solidified floating black lava. Small pulses of gas and ash were observed in the lava lake. Additionally, ballistic blocks and pyroclasts that measured a maximum of 20 cm in diameter had been ejected up to 800 m from the crater during previous eruptive events. The average SO2 value was 178 tons/day with a maximum daily value of 353 tons/day on 7 December 2020, according to DOAS data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 109. An explosion at Villarrica on 5 December 2020 at 1844 produced a long-period seismic signal along with an ash plume that rose 160 m crater and drifted SSE. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN (Reporte Especial de Actividad Volcanica (REAV), Region De La Araucania y Los Rios, Volcan Villarrica, 5 de diciembre de 2020, 19:50 Hora local).

On 16 December at both 1146 and 1156 SERNAGEOMIN reported two ash pulses associated with long-period events. The first ash emission rose 160 m above the crater and drifted NW; the second rose 280 m above the crater and drifted 500 m NE. On 17 December at 1716 another ash plume associated with a long-period event rose 720 m above the crater and drifted ESE (figure 110). Pyroclastic deposits were reported up to 1.3 km N, 3.3 km E, 5 km SE, and 1.8 km SW from the crater, according to data obtained from Sentinel-2 and SkySat. During 18-19 December seismicity increased, intense crater incandescence was visible, and a notable sulfur odor was noted, according to POVI reports. Minor ash emissions rose to low heights on 22 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 110. An explosion at Villarrica on 17 December 2020 at 1716 produced an ash plume that rose 720 m above the crater and drifted ESE. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN (Reporte Especial de Actividad Volcanica (REAV), Region De La Araucania y Los Rios, Volcan Villarrica, 17 de diciembre de 2020, 17:50 Hora local).

During January 2021, the number of explosions with ash plumes continued to decrease compared to the previous months. On clear weather days, occasional nighttime crater incandescence was observed, as well as white gas-and-steam emissions of variable intensities. During an overflight on 2 January scientists observed an incandescent vent at the bottom of the crater that had a solidified lava bridge connecting across a partially crusted-over top (figure 111). DOAS data showed that the average mass of SO2 plumes had increased compared to November and December to 318 tons/day with a maximum daily value of 789 tons/day on 12 January. During 1-15 January, the highest ash plume reported rose 700 m above the crater, though it was mostly composed of gas-and-steam emissions. During 16-31 January gas-and-steam emissions continued, rising to 1.3 km above the crater on 20 January. The average value of SO2 plumes increased again to 430 tons/day with a maximum daily value of 789 tons/day on 22 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 111. Webcam image of two incandescent vents at Villarrica on 2 January 2021. A bridge of solidified lava separates the two sections and extends across the active lava lake. Courtesy of POVI.

Activity during February continued to decrease compared to the previous months and consisted of primarily white gas-and-steam plumes, nighttime crater incandescence, and SO2 plumes. On 10 February dense, white gas-and-steam plumes rose 700 m above the crater. During 1-15 February, the average value of SO2 plumes was 181 tons/day with a maximum daily value of 369 tons/day on 2 February. Long-period earthquakes were recorded by the seismic network at 1146 and 1156 on 16 February with an associated explosion that generated ash plumes 160 m above the crater that drifted NW and 280 m that drifted NE, respectively. During 16-28 February white gas-and-steam plumes rose to a high of 780 m above the crater; SO2 plumes were an average value of 402 tons/day with a maximum daily value of 1,026 tons/day on 21 February.

Low-power thermal activity was detected during September 2020 through January 2021, according to the MIROVA Log Radiative Power graph using MODIS infrared satellite information (figure 112). Three thermal anomalies were recorded in September, one in October, and four in November; a single stronger anomaly was observed in early November. The number of anomalies increased in late December through late January 2021, though they remained low in power. On clear weather days, a strong thermal anomaly in the summit crater was visible in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery during each month of the reporting period; in February, the strength of the anomaly had slightly decreased compared to previous months (figure 113).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 112. Low-power thermal anomalies were detected in the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power) at Villarrica during September 2020 through late January 2021. A pulse of thermal anomalies was recorded during late December 2020 through late January 2021 compared to the previous month but remained low in power. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 113. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing strong thermal anomalies on clear weather days in the summit crater of Villarrica each month from September 2020 through February 2021. The strength of the thermal anomaly in February decreased slightly compared to previous months. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Glacier-clad Villarrica, one of Chile's most active volcanoes, rises above the lake and town of the same name. It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain. A 6-km-wide caldera formed during the late Pleistocene. A 2-km-wide caldera that formed about 3500 years ago is located at the base of the presently active, dominantly basaltic to basaltic-andesitic cone at the NW margin of the Pleistocene caldera. More than 30 scoria cones and fissure vents dot the flanks. Plinian eruptions and pyroclastic flows that have extended up to 20 km from the volcano were produced during the Holocene. Lava flows up to 18 km long have issued from summit and flank vents. Historical eruptions, documented since 1558, have consisted largely of mild-to-moderate explosive activity with occasional lava effusion. Glaciers cover 40 km2 of the volcano, and lahars have damaged towns on its flanks.

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/); Proyecto Observación Villarrica Internet (POVI) (URL: http://www.povi.cl/); Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Servicio Meteorológico Nacional-Fuerza Aérea Argentina, 25 de mayo 658, Buenos Aires, Argentina (URL: http://www.smn.gov.ar/vaac/buenosaires/inicio.php); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 31, Number 05 (May 2006)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Ambae (Vanuatu)

During May-June 2006, Lake Voui's water rapidly turns from blue to red

Anatahan (United States)

Eruptions restarted in 2005 and continued until at least June 2006

Bagana (Papua New Guinea)

Lava flows and ash emission throughout March 2006

Bulusan (Philippines)

Explosive activity continues

Daikoku (United States)

Discovery of agitated pool of molten sulfur at 420 m ocean depth

Heard (Australia)

2006 imagery indicates renewed volcanism

Krummel-Garbuna-Welcker (Papua New Guinea)

Earthquakes continue while vents remain calm through April 2006

Lamington (Papua New Guinea)

Mild vapor emission and earthquakes through March 2006

Langila (Papua New Guinea)

Moderate activity steady through March 2006

Merapi (Indonesia)

Mid-2006 brings multiple pyroclastic flows that kill two, and travel up to 7 km

NW Rota-1 (United States)

Views of submarine volcano ejecting lava and bombs

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

During first half of 2006, several ash plumes rose to ~ 7-8 km altitude

Rabaul (Papua New Guinea)

Gas emissions and earthquakes during March-April 2006

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Big dome collapse and tall plume on 20 May 2006 leave a W-leaning crater

St. Helens (United States)

Intracrater lava dome continues to grow through at least May 2006

Ubinas (Peru)

Ash and steam emissions stir hazard and environmental concerns

Villarrica (Chile)

Unusual seismicity, minor pyroclastic, and gas explosions, January-April 2005



Ambae (Vanuatu) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambae

Vanuatu

15.389°S, 167.835°E; summit elev. 1496 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


During May-June 2006, Lake Voui's water rapidly turns from blue to red

Alain Bernard reported that Lake Voui in Aoba-Ambae volcano (BGVN 31:01) was undergoing a spectacular change in its color?the previously aqua-colored lake was turning red (figure 27).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Lake Voui at Aoba as seen from the air on 28 May (top) and 3 June 2006 (bottom). Images courtesy of Esline Garaebiti (top) and Philippe Métois (bottom).

Images of a pale reddish Lake Voui were obtained by Esline Garaebiti, who flew over the volcano 28 May 2006. Philippe Métois, who flew over on 3 June 2006, photographed a blood-red lake. These photos were are posted on the CVL website along with recent ASTER temperature data. This color change was tentatively attributed to a rapid shift in the lake water's redox state. The change might be linked to the ratio of SO2/H2S in the hydrothermal fluids.

Geologic Background. The island of Ambae, also known as Aoba, is a massive 2,500 km3 basaltic shield that is the most voluminous volcano of the New Hebrides archipelago. A pronounced NE-SW-trending rift zone dotted with scoria cones gives the 16 x 38 km island an elongated form. A broad pyroclastic cone containing three crater lakes (Manaro Ngoru, Voui, and Manaro Lakua) is located at the summit within the youngest of at least two nested calderas, the largest of which is 6 km in diameter. That large central edifice is also called Manaro Voui or Lombenben volcano. Post-caldera explosive eruptions formed the summit craters about 360 years ago. A tuff cone was constructed within Lake Voui (or Vui) about 60 years later. The latest known flank eruption, about 300 years ago, destroyed the population of the Nduindui area near the western coast.

Information Contacts: Alain Bernard, IAVCEI Commission on Volcanic Lakes (CVL), Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), CP160/02, avenue F.D. Roosevelt 50, Brussels, Belgium (URL: http://www.ulb.ac.be/sciences/cvl/aoba/Ambae1.html, http://www.ulb.ac.be/sciences/cvl/multispectral/multispectral2.htm); Esline Garaebiti, Department of Geology, Mines, and Water Resources (DGMWR), Port-Vila, Vanuatu; Philippe Métois, World of Wonders.


Anatahan (United States) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Anatahan

United States

16.35°N, 145.67°E; summit elev. 790 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruptions restarted in 2005 and continued until at least June 2006

Anatahan erupted almost continuously from 5 January 2005 until 3 September 2005 when eruptions suddenly ceased (BGVN 30:07, 30:08). Observations through 16 September indicated relative quiet. Indications from later reports (discussed below) are that this lull continued through at least mid- to late-February 2006. Eruptions resumed after that, although the observations suggest chiefly or entirely gas-rich plumes. Jenifer Piatt suggested that plumes after early September 2005 and through May 2006 rose only to low altitude, perhaps 2,500 m.

This report covers the period through early June 2006 and includes both field observations as well as several satellite-based SO2 measurements, and extensive satellite images of thin plumes assessed as vog (volcanic smog; table 5). Some of those plumes extended W to SW from Anatahan and had overall atmospheric SO2 masses on the order of up to 4 kilotons (kt).

Table 5. AURA/OMI SO2 from Anatahan plumes at stated dates in 2006 (the two indicated with asterisks ("**") shown as figures). The last column displays the plume's overall estimated SO2 mass. The second and third columns indicate, respectively, the area of the sulfurous plume, and the estimated maximum SO2 concentration (in DU) and its latitude and longitude. Courtesy of Simon Carn.

Date Time (UTC) Orbit Area of plume (km2) Highest concentration in Dobson Units (DU) Coordinates Atmospheric SO2 (kilotons)
15 Mar 2006 0400-0420** 08852 -- -- -- 1-2
12 Apr 2006 0249-0428** -- 9.1 x 104 1.9 DU 13.16°N, 137.26°E 2.2
16 Apr 2006 0401-0404 09318 9.8 x 104 6.7 DU 16.28°N, 145.39°E 3.9
23 Apr 2006 0407-0410 09420 11.0 x 104 4.6 DU 17.42°N, 143.06°E 3.5
31 May 2006 0331-0334 09979 4.8 x 104 3.0 DU 16.07°N, 145.24°E 1.4

During the week ending 19 September 2005, there were three periods of elevated tremor. On 13 September, technicians from the Emergency Management Office of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (EMO-CNMI) who were reinstalling seismic station ANA2 on Anatahan reported that the plume was gray, small, and moving to the NW. They heard no explosions and saw no craters or large ballistics in vicinity of ANA2.

CMNI-USGS reports for 3 September until at least 26 December 2005 noted an absence of erupted ash. At least as late as 27 February 2006, Anatahan lacked reported ash emissions. Also as late as the 27th, seismicity was at background levels, amounting to a few percent of the late June 2005 maximum, with occasional long-period earthquakes. On 27 February 2006, the Alert level was reduced to Normal and the Aviation Color Code to Green because of the continuing low levels of activity.

By the date of the next USGS update, on 20 March 2006, activity had increased somewhat and the Alert level was raised to Advisory and the Aviation Color Code to Yellow. A faint, thin plume of gas that was occasionally observable during January and February became continuous and slightly more dense on satellite imagery during the first three weeks of March.

Using the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA's EOS/Aura satellite, Simon Carn imaged Anatahan's plume of 15 March 2006 (figure 27). Anatahan lies at the solid triangle; the plume blew largely SW. Carn found that the atmospheric SO2 mass was 1-2 kilotons. He noted that there had been an upsurge in satellite-detected SO2 output that began in mid-February 2006. The highest concentrations of several OMI analyses (table 6 and figure 28) were measured on 16 and 23 April (3.9 and 3.5 kilotons of SO2, respectively).

Table 6. A summary of Anatahan plume data based on US AFWA satellite observations during 15 March to 31 May 2006. DMSP stands for Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Courtesy of Charles Holliday and Jenifer E. Piatt, AFWA.

Date Time (UTC) Satellite (resolution or wavelength) Observation
15 Mar 2006 0354 Aqua Modis (500 m res.) Faint vog plume seen drifting generally SSW
16 Mar 2006 0125 Terra Modis (500 m res.) Vog seen drifting generally to the SW
17 Mar 2006 0330 Aqua Modis (1 km res.) Cloud cover obscured visibility
18 Mar 2006 0415 Aqua Modis (500 m res.) Vog plume appears longer and more dense, drifting generally SW
19 Mar 2006 0320 Aqua Modis (500 m res.) Moderately dense vog plume, extending over 370 km SW. No signature has been visible on MTSAT split window IR imagery nor NOAA channel differencing images, suggesting minimal ash content in the plume.
19 Mar 2006 1606 NOAA-18 Shortwave IR (3.55-3.93 µm) Hot spot visible at island
19 Mar 2006 2221 DMSP F-16 Visible (566 m res.) A very faint plume discernable out to 230 km SW from source
20 Mar 2006 0400 Aqua Modis (500 m res.) Vog plume drifting S and SW
20 Mar 2006 2209 DMSP F-16 Visible (556 m res.) Very light vog drifting SSW
21 Mar 2006 0305 Aqua Modis (500 m res.) Distinct vog plume drifting SSW
21 Mar 2006 1546 NOAA-18 Shortwave IR (3.55-3.93 µm) Hot spot indicated at island
24 Mar 2006 0035 Terra Modis (500 m res.) Vog plume drifting W then NW
24 Mar 2006 0804 DMSP F-13 Visible (1.11 km res.) Plume extended at least 833 km W before curling N. Using shadows, the plume is estimated at below ~1.2 km (4,000 ft).
29 Mar 2006 1604 NOAA - 18 Shortwave IR (3.55-3.93 µm) Hot spot indicated at island
29 Mar 2006 2110 DMSP F-13 Visual (1.11 km res.) Steam measures 37 km W and vog measures ~320 km SW and ~670 km NNE of the summit. Tops are estimated below ~1.5 km (5,000 ft).
29 Mar 2006 2110 DSMP F-13 Visual (556 m res.) Steam and vog visible at island; greater detail of vog trending ~320 km to SW
30 Mar 2006 0820 DMSP F-13 Visual (1.11 km res.) Steam measured 56 km NW; vog measured ~600 km SW and ~670 km NNE of the summit. Tops are estimated below ~1.5 km (5,000 ft).
30 Mar 2006 1554 NOAA 18 Shortwave IR (3.55-3.93 µm) Hot spot detected at the island
02 Apr 2006 1953 NOAA18 Shortwaave IR (3.55-3.93 µm) Hot spot detected
04 Apr 2006 0320 Aqua Modis (500 m res.) Cloud formation along the vog plume with tops estimated at below ~3 km (10,000 ft)
04 Apr 2006 0559 DMSP-F-12 Visual (556 m res.) Vog measures 210 km SSW of the summit
14 Apr 2006 0355 Aqua Modis (500 m res.) Vog drifting over ~390 km SW
14 Apr 2006 0808 DMSP F-13 Visual (556 m res.) Vog seen drifting over ~ 500 km SW, expanding extensively as it spreads
17 Apr 2006 0125 Terra Modis (500 m res.) Light vog plume blown over 400 km WSW to W
17 Apr 2006 1612 NOAA-18 Shortwave IR (3.55-3.93 µm) Hot spot visible
17 Apr 2006 2143 DMSP F-13 Visual (556 m res.) Vog measures over 490 km WSW
22 Apr 2006 2153 DMSP F-16 Visual (556 m res.) Faint vog plume trended ~40 km NW
23 Apr 2006 0045 Terra Modis (250 m res.) Possible gray steam/ash plume extending under 28 km NW and vog extending over 155 km NW
23 Apr 2006 1954 NOAA-17 Shortwave IR (3.55-3.93 µm) Hot spot detected at island
24 Apr 2006 0130 Terra Modis (500 m res.) Visible vog trended ~325 km W then curved ~130 km NE and dissipated
23 May 2006 0430 Aqua Modis (500 m res.) Vog seen drifting generally W, then curving S and SW
23 May 2006 0710 NOAA 15 Visual (1.85 km res.) Vog trending generally SW then W for ~390 km
26 May 2006 0130 Terra Modis (500 m res.) Vog trending WNW(?)
26 May 2006 0800 DMSP F-16 Visual (2.78 km res.) Vog seen drifting WSW for up to 1,250 km
26 May 2006 1234 NOAA 17 Shortwave IR (3.55-3.93 µm) Hot spot detected at the island
30 May 2006 2120 DMSP F-14 Visible (2.77 km res.) Plume extends over 1,480 km to the WSW
30 May 2006 2120 DMSP F-14 Visible (556 m res.) Plume extends over 1,480 to the WSW. NASA Aura/OMI estimated the columnar SO2 concentration associated with the plume.
31 May 2006 0315 Aqua Modis (500 m res.) Vog seen drifting generally to the SW, with great dispersion
Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. AURA/OMI image of SO2 from Anatahan at 0400-0420 UTC on 15 March 2006 (orbit 08852). The overall estimated SO2 mass in the 15 March plume was 1-2 kilotons. Concentration path-lengths for the atmospheric column are scaled in Dobson Units (DU). This is an example of a comparatively short plume, with greatest SO2 concentrations nearest the source, and blown somewhat more southerly than some of the later ones. Courtesy of Simon Carn.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. AURA/OMI image of SO2 from Anatahan at 0249-0428 UTC on 12 April 2006. The overall estimated SO2 mass in the 12 April plume was 2.2 kilotons (for other parameters and comparisons, see table 6). This is an example of a comparatively elongate plume, with highest SO2 registered in areas ~1,000 km ESE of the source. Courtesy of Simon Carn.

OMI is a Dutch-Finnish imaging spectrometer that measures ozone and other atmospheric trace gases such as SO2. OMI is a nadir-viewing imaging spectrometer that covers the ultraviolet and visible spectral range (270-500 nm). Its high spatial resolution increases the chance of observing cloud-free pixels, thereby enhancing the accuracy of the data products. OMI observes a strip of the Earth's surface about 2,600-2,800 km wide in one shot. The satellite's own movement along with Earth's rotation enables OMI to scan the entire globe. A two-dimensional CCD detector records both the complete swath and the spectrum of every ground pixel in the swath. The spatial information is imaged on one dimension of the CCD detector while the spectrum is projected along the other dimension of the CCD detector. OMI detects the total column amount of SO2 between the sensor and the Earth's surface and maps this quantity as it orbits.

On 17 March around 2200 UTC, the level of seismicity nearly doubled and continued at that level for 2 hours. On the 18th around 1400 UTC, the level of seismicity again nearly doubled and continued at that level for about 8 hours before returning to the baseline level prior to 17 March. The increased seismicity consisted of small (M 0-1) long-period earthquakes occurring approximately every minute, sometimes reaching two per minute. A total of about 600 such events were detected during 17 and 18 March. Volcanic Ash Advisories were issued by the Washington VAAC; plumes appeared to contain gas and only insignificant amounts of ash.

According to the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), on 19 March a hot spot at Anatahan was visible on satellite imagery. Vog (volcanic smog) extended 200 km from the island (figure 29).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Anatahan's SW-drifting plume at 0320 UTC on 19 March as seen in a satellite image (AQUA MODIS, 500 m resolution) The US Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) analysts interpreted this plume as vog. Courtesy of AFWA and NASA.

On 24 March around 1330, seismicity at Anatahan abruptly increased to about twice the background level. The seismicity consisted of low-amplitude tremor and small, long-period earthquakes, similar to the seismicity on 17 and 18 March. On 24 March, vog from Anatahan was visible on satellite imagery extending W, then curling N. The plume was estimated to be below 1.2 km altitude, and no ash or hot spots were visible. Anatahan remained at Alert level Advisory; Aviation Color Code Yellow (Volcanic activity has increased somewhat, but remains fairly low and is being closely monitored).

From 28 March to 4 April, seismic levels fluctuated. Seismicity again jumped up to about double the background level for a few hours on 29 and 31 March and 2 April. Anatahan continued to produce a gas-and-steam plume visible in satellite imagery. On 4 April, Saipan residents reported smog and the smell of sulphur.

On 8 April a team from EMO-CNMI visited Anatahan and found steam and gas discharging from the E crater along the SW crater wall above a discolored lake. Testing confirmed the presence of SO2 and H2S in the plume. The plume rose to an altitude of less than 2 km and drifted to the NW as brownish vog. No ash fell from the plume onto the island. Based on these results and satellite surveillance, Anatahan was inferred to be emitting steam, gas, and vog.

Three long-period earthquakes occurred on 14 and 15 April. Each was preceded by several minutes of significantly reduced seismicity. AFWA reported that a hot spot was visible on NOAA shortwave IR imagery on 17 April at 1612 UTC, and vog extended over 490 km WSW in F-13 imagery on 17 April at 2143 UTC. SO2 mass values for 23 April were the second highest in this reporting interval. On 24 April 2006 AFWA reported that hot spots were occasionally visible and that vog was nearly always visible in satellite images.

Throughout May 2006, Anatahan's E crater continued to emit vog that was visible in MODIS imagery. Seismicity levels were low throughout April and May. A few to several microearthquakes occurred each day, all with magnitudes M 1 or smaller.

Ash may have erupted in late May. Although ash was indicated on radar on 27 May, and in a pilot's report for 29 May, those events took place during intervals of such low seismicity that people watching that data felt eruptions were unlikely to have occurred then.

On the other hand, based on a pilot report, the Washington VAAC declared that an ash plume from Anatahan reached an altitude of 3 km on 29 May and drifted W. Vog issuing from the E crater was visible on satellite imagery at about 1333 on 29 May 2006, and increased prior to emission of an ash plume. A report issued from the Washington VAAC on 30 May at 0535 indicated a faint, low-level gas-and-ash plume extending from the summit. At 2120 UTC on 30 May the plume extended over 1,480 km WSW.

By 19 June continued gas and steam emissions remained visible in satellite imagery. Seismicity dropped from recent levels and occasional microearthquakes were recorded locally.

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, Emergency Management Office of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (EMO-CNMI), PO Box 100007, Saipan, MP 96950, USA (URL: http://www.cnmihsem.gov.mp/); Simon Carn, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA; Charles Holliday and Jenifer E. Piatt, U.S. Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA)/XOGM, Offutt Air Force Base, NE 68113, USA.


Bagana (Papua New Guinea) — May 2006 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)


Lava flows and ash emission throughout March 2006

Little activity had been recorded at Bagana since 18 September 2005, when forceful emissions of whitish-brown ash occurred, accompanied by ash fall in downwind areas and large booming noises. From the end of January to mid-April 2006 there were brief periods of effusive activity. The summit crater released moderate to dense white vapor throughout this time.

Emissions were forceful on 27 February, and on 3, 5, 7, 13, 22, 24, and 29 March. Denser emissions of pale gray ash clouds were reported on 27 March. Rumbling and roaring noises were heard on 15-16, 22, and 26-28 March. Moderate to bright glow was accompanied by projections of lava fragments and the advance of a lava flow down the S-SW flank, which was visible from 15 March until the end of the month. During April, the summit crater continued to release white vapor. A forceful emission was recorded on 8 April. A weak glow was visible on 9 April. Occasional weak rumbling noises were heard on 12-13 and 15 April. On 4 May, there was an ash plume visible on satellite imagery at a height of ~ 3 km (10,000 ft) altitude that extended 4 km W. On 18 June there was an ash-and-steam plume drifting SW; the height of the plume was not recorded.

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: Ima Itikarai and Herman Patia, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Bulusan (Philippines) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Bulusan

Philippines

12.769°N, 124.056°E; summit elev. 1535 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosive activity continues

Bulusan erupted at 2258 on 21 March 2006, continuing into April 2006 (BGVN 31:04). Figure 2 shows the location of Bulusan volcano on the SE tip of Luzon. Figure 3 gives satellite measurements of SO2 one day after the eruption.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Map of the Philippines showing the PHIVOLCS earthquake and volcano monitoring network, and Bulusan's location. Smaller inset focuses on the Bulusan region and indicates some settlements. The smaller map is from Encarta Maps; the larger map, courtesy of PHIVOLCS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions at 1345-1347 (local) on 22 March 2006 from Bulusan. The eruption was measured by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA's EOS/Aura satellite [OMI detects the total column amount of SO2 between the sensor and the Earth's surface]. This cloud appeared quite significant (estimated total mass ~ 1,000 metric tons) considering that the event was reported as phreatic and that the image was collected about 15 hours after the eruption. Courtesy of Simon Carn.

An ash eruption on 29 April did not cause any damage, but authorities asked people to avoid the region near the crater (figure 4). The current report stems in large part from information coming from The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). Table 2 provides a brief summary of 2006 activity and resulting plumes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Image of a light ash plume snaking W from Bulusan acquired at 1250 on 29 April 2006. The image was made by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Terra satellite. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Table 2. Bulusan explosive plumes recorded during 2006. Courtesy of PHIVOLCS.

Date Local Time Plume character Plume height above summit Direction(s) of plume drift
21 Mar 2006 2258 ash 1.5 km N, W, SW
29 Apr 2006 1044 ash 1.5 km WSW, NW
25 May 2006 2117 ash -- W, SW
31 May 2006 1617 ash/steam 1.5 km W, WNW
07 Jun 2006 2017 ash/steam 2.0 km N, W, SW
10 Jun 2006 0018 ash/steam 1.0 km N, NE
13 Jun 2006 1904 ash/steam 1.5 km NW
18 Jun 2006 1556 ash/steam 1.5 km W
20 Jun 2006 2013 cloud-covered summit -- --
28 Jun 2006 0206 cloud-covered summit -- --

A phreatic ash explosion was recorded by the seismograph network at Bulusan between 2117 and 2130 on 25 May 2006. Light ashfall ranging from trace amounts to deposits 2 mm thick was reported from the W and SW villages of Bacolod, Sankayon, Puting Sapa, Rangas, Mapili, Caladgao, and Buraburan in the municipality of Juban, and Bolos in the municipality of Irosin, province of Sorsogon. PHIVOLCS reported that the ash explosion was more-or-less typical of activity at Bulusan during its current eruptive phase, and they expect more explosions to occur. Bulusan was at Alert Level 1, with a Permanent Danger Zone of 4 kilometers around the summit. The PHIVOLCS volcano alert signals range from Alert Level 1 (low-level unrest, no eruption imminent) through Alert Level 5 (hazardous explosive eruption in progress).

An ash-and-steam cloud emitted from the volcano on 31 May 2006 (figure 5) resulted in light ashfall, from trace amounts to 1.5 mm thickness, in areas W and NW of the volcano. An ash-and-steam cloud from Bulusan on 7 June 2006 resulted in light ashfall 5 km N and trace amounts as far as 20 km N. The Alert Level was raised to 2, which means restricted entry within 4 km of the summit. On 10 June, an ash-and-steam cloud reached a height of ~ 1 km above the summit and drifted N and NE. The Manila Standard Today reported one death caused by an asthma condition aggravated by exposure to ash.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. A Bulusan ash explosion seen at 1617 on 31 May 2006. The event was photographed from the foot of the volcano, 5- 6 km from the summit, in the town of Irosin. Courtesy of PHIVOLCS.

On 13 June 2006 at 1904, an explosion lasting ~13 minutes issued from a fissure W of the summit vent of Bulusan. It produced an ash-and-steam cloud (table 2). Ashfall up to 7 mm thick accumulated at the foot of the volcano in neighborhoods in the municipality of Juban.

On 18 June at 1556 , an explosion lasted ~11 minutes; it produced an ash-and-steam cloud (figure 6). This was the 8th explosion since Bulusan reactivated in March. Ash up to 5 mm thick fell on a W-flank village.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Mount Bulusan spews ash on 18 June 2006. Courtesy of Associated Press.

On 20 June, a mild ash-and-steam explosion lasted approximately 17 minutes. The seismic network around the volcano recorded only one high frequency volcanic earthquake prior to the explosion. The ash and steam emission coincided with heavy rains that generated some lahars and torrential flows. The sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rate that morning was 469 tons per day (t/d).

At 0800 on 26 June 2006, PHIVOLCS reported that the Bulusan seismic network had recorded four volcanic earthquakes during the past 24 hours. Steaming activity was wispy to moderate and reached an approximate height of 50 m above the summit before drifting WNW. On 28 June 2006, PHIVOLCS reported at 0800 that continuous seismic observation at Bulusan disclosed one small explosion-type earthquake and two volcanic earthquakes for the past 24 hours. The explosion occurred at 0206 on 28 June and lasted for about 4 minutes. However, the event was not observed because the summit was cloud covered all of 27 June until early in the morning of 28 June. No ashfall was reported following the explosion, and no lahar occurred at Gulang-gulang River in Cogon, Irosin. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates of the volcanic plume measured on 27 June decreased slightly, to 597 tons per day (t/d) in comparison to the 26 June 2006 rate of 942 t/d.

PHIVOLCS summarized the current 2006 activity as follows. In general, the character of explosions evolved only slightly, apparently becoming a little stronger later. The explosions in June were also somewhat longer in duration than earlier ash ejections, based on instrumental records and general visual monitoring. However, the absence of earthquakes, tremor, and generally low SO2 emission rates prior to each explosion suggested an absence of a large or active magmatic intrusion into shallow depths. Instead, they interpreted the sequence of explosions since March 2006 as pointing to interaction of small volumes of magma with an overlying water-saturated zone beneath the summit. These were thought to develop overpressures released during each explosion. It remains to be seen if the recent explosions would provide an "uncorking effect" and induce a major hazardous eruption. The very low earthquake activity was taken to suggests otherwise.

Geologic Background. Luzon's southernmost volcano, Bulusan, was constructed along the rim of the 11-km-diameter dacitic-to-rhyolitic Irosin caldera, which was formed about 36,000 years ago. It lies at the SE end of the Bicol volcanic arc occupying the peninsula of the same name that forms the elongated SE tip of Luzon. A broad, flat moat is located below the topographically prominent SW rim of Irosin caldera; the NE rim is buried by the andesitic complex. Bulusan is flanked by several other large intracaldera lava domes and cones, including the prominent Mount Jormajan lava dome on the SW flank and Sharp Peak to the NE. The summit is unvegetated and contains a 300-m-wide, 50-m-deep crater. Three small craters are located on the SE flank. Many moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the mid-19th century.

Information Contacts: Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), PHIVOLCS Building, C.P. Garcia Avenue, U.P. Campus, Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES (URL: http://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/); Earth Observatory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHarards/); The Manila Standard Today (URL: http://manilastandard.net/); Simon Carn, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250.


Daikoku (United States) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Daikoku

United States

21.324°N, 144.194°E; summit elev. -323 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Discovery of agitated pool of molten sulfur at 420 m ocean depth

Submarine exploration at Daikoku seamount has discovered a small pit or cauldron containing a pool of molten sulfur. During the period of 18 April-13 May 2006, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), aboard the research vessel Melville completed the 2006 Submarine Ring of Fire Expedition. This expedition was the third in a series exploring of the submarine volcanoes lying along the Mariana arc (figure 1). The arc extends from S of the island of Guam northward more than 1,450 km. Daily logs of the 2006 expedition, including photographs and video clips, can be viewed on the NOAA Ocean Explorer website (see Information Contacts below).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Bathymetric tectonic map of the Marianas arc showing islands and seamounts (with respective labels on backgrounds of dark and white). Reports in this issue discuss (from N to S), Diakoku, Anatahan, and NW Rotoa-1. Courtesy of Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Expedition, NOAA Vents Program.

William Chadwick reported on the 2006 expedition (Oregon State University press release, 25 May 2006) that ". . . on another volcano called Daikoku, in the northern part of the Mariana volcanic arc, the researchers discovered a pool of molten sulfur at a depth of 420 m. It was measured at 187°C. It was a sulfur pond with a flexible 'crust' that was moving in a wavelike motion. The movement was triggered by continuous gases being emitted from beneath the pool and passing through the sulfur." (figure 2).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. On 4 May 2006 scientists piloting the submersible Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Jason at Daikoku observed and photographed a convecting, black pool of liquid sulfur (inset, and upper image) with a partly solidified sulfur crust (bottom image). Gases, particulate with the appearance of smoke, and liquid sulfur were bubbling up from the back edge of the sulfur pool. The top image shows a zoomed-in view of the liquid sulfur extruding from a fracture in the solid crust. Image courtesy of Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Expedition, NOAA Vents Program.

In another pit on the summit of Daikoku, over 100 m deep and ~ 80 m in diameter, the scientists observed a large plume of slowly rising white fluid.

References. Embley, R.W., Baker, E.T., Chadwick, W.W., Jr., Lipton, J.E., Resing, J.A., Massoth, G.J., and Nakamura, K., 2004, Explorations of Mariana Arc volcanoes reveal new hydrothermal systems: EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 85, no. 2, p. 37, 40.

Embley, R.W., Chadwick, W.W., Jr, Baker, E.T., Butterfield, D.A., Resing, J.A., de Ronde, C. E.J., Tunnicliffe, V., Lupton, J.E., Juniper, S.K., Rubin, K.H., Stern, R.J., Lebon, G.T., Nakamura, K., Merle, S.G., Hein, J.R., Wiens, D.A., and Tamura, Y., 2006, Long-term eruptive activity at a submarine arc volcano: Nature, v. 441, no. 7092, p. 494-497.

Oregon State University, 25 May 2006, Press Release: Nature paper details eruption activity at submarine volcano: College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Science (COAS), 104 COAS Admininstration Building, Corvallis, OR 97331.

Geologic Background. The conical summit of Daikoku seamount lies along an elongated E-W ridge SE of Eifuku submarine volcano and rises to within 323 m of the sea surface. It is one of about a dozen displaying hydrothermal activity in the southern part of the Izu-Marianas chain. A steep-walled, 50-m-wide cylindrical crater on the north flank, about 75 m below the summit, is at least 135 m deep and was observed to emit cloudy hydrothermal fluid. During a NOAA expedition in 2006, scientists observed a convecting, black pool of liquid sulfur with a partly solidified, undulating sulfur crust at a depth of 420 m below the summit. Gases, particulate with the appearance of smoke, and liquid sulfur were bubbling up from the back edge of the sulfur pool.

Information Contacts: William W. Chadwick, Jr., Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies (CIMRS), NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), 2115 SE OSU Drive, Newport, OR 97365 USA; NOAA Ocean Explorer (URL: http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/06fire/welcome.html).


Heard (Australia) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Heard

Australia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


2006 imagery indicates renewed volcanism

Matt Patrick observed from MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) images analyzed by the HIGP MODVOLC algorithm that relatively new activity began in March 2006 at Heard Island. Two isolated alerts occurred on 11-12 March 2006, and sustained alerts occurred from 7-18 May, 28 May-5 June, and 13-20 June (table 1). Alerts were 1-3 pixels in size. The pixel locations all appeared to be clustered generally near the summit of Big Ben, suggesting central vent (lava lake?) activity rather than lava flows. Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) images over the last several months have all been cloudy and therefore unable to reinforce or support the MODVOLC results. However, a nighttime ASTER image on 29 May 2006 at 0110 showed the new activity (figure 9).

Table 1. MODVOLC alerts for 2006 through 21 June. Courtesy of Hawai'i Institute of Geophysical and Planetology (HIGP) Thermal Alerts Team.

Date Time (local) Pixels Satellite
11 Mar 2006 2315 1 Terra
12 Mar 2006 0100 2 Aqua
07 May 2006 0100 1 Terra
07 May 2006 2305 1 Terra
08 May 2006 0150 1 Aqua
09 May 2006 2255 1 Terra
10 May 2006 0140 1 Aqua
11 May 2006 2335 1 Terra
18 May 2006 2250 2 Terra
28 May 2006 2325 1 Terra
29 May 2006 0110 2 Aqua
02 Jun 2006 2345 3 Terra
03 Jun 2006 0130 2 Aqua
05 Jun 2006 0115 1 Aqua
13 Jun 2006 2325 2 Terra
14 Jun 2006 0110 4 Aqua
15 Jun 2006 0010 2 Terra
16 Jun 2006 0100 1 Aqua
20 Jun 2006 2330 1 Terra
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. ASTER image of Heard Island taken at 0110 on 29 May 2006. The main image is the thermal infrared Band 14 (90 m pixel size), with the inserts showing the shortwave infrared (SWIR Band 9; 30 m pixel size) and thermal infrared (TIR Band 14) closeups. This a nighttime image with no visible bands with 15 m pixel size was difficult to interpret. The N-most segment of the summit anomaly, seen clearly in the Band 9 image, may be the vent, with the remainder of the anomaly possibly representing a ~ 900-m-long lava flow to the S. Alternatively, the segmentation of the anomaly may reflect different vents. Courtesy Matt Patrick, HIGP Thermal Alert Team.

The previous phases of activity spanned May 2000-February 2001 and June 2003-June 2004 (BGVN 29:12).

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

Information Contacts: Matt Patrick, HIGP Thermal Alerts Team, Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) / School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), University of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Andrew Tupper, Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, Bureau of Meteorology, Australia.


Krummel-Garbuna-Welcker (Papua New Guinea) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Krummel-Garbuna-Welcker

Papua New Guinea

5.416°S, 150.027°E; summit elev. 564 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Earthquakes continue while vents remain calm through April 2006

Garbuna remained relatively quiet between mid-February and mid-April 2006. The two vents at the summit released weak to moderate volumes of white vapor during this time, but no glow was observed. There was a weak rumbling noise on 14 April. Seismic activity remained at a low level. Few earthquakes were recorded during February and March; the daily average number of high-frequency events was 3 and of low-frequency events between 0 and 5. In April, a few earthquake swarms were recorded with individual events every 1-2 minutes. These episodes lasted less than 20 minutes. Low-frequency earthquakes occurred at the rate of 3-5 times per day and the Real-time Seismic Amplitude Measurement (RSAM) data was at background level fluctuating between 8 and 51 units.

Geologic Background. The basaltic-to-dacitic Krummel-Garbuna-Welcker Volcanic Complex consists of three volcanic peaks located along a 7-km N-S line above a shield-like foundation at the southern end of the Willaumez Peninsula. The central and lower peaks of the centrally located Garbuna contain a large vegetation-free area that is probably the most extensive thermal field in Papua New Guinea. A prominent lava dome and blocky lava flow in the center of thermal area have resisted destruction by thermal activity, and may be of Holocene age. Krummel volcano at the south end of the group contains a summit crater, breached to the NW. The highest peak of the group is Welcker volcano, which has fed blocky lava flows that extend to the eastern coast of the peninsula. The last major eruption from both it and Garbuna volcanoes took place about 1800 years ago. The first historical eruption took place at Garbuna in October 2005.

Information Contacts: Ima Itikarai and Herman Patia, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Lamington (Papua New Guinea) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Lamington

Papua New Guinea

8.95°S, 148.15°E; summit elev. 1680 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Mild vapor emission and earthquakes through March 2006

Lamington has continued the trend of relative quiet during mid-January to the end of March 2006. Consistent reporting has been difficult due to overcast weather. Small volumes of thin white vapor were released during this time. No audible noises or glow were recorded. High frequency earthquakes continued to be recorded. The highest total was 25 recorded on 18 February.

Geologic Background. Lamington is an andesitic stratovolcano with a 1.3-km-wide breached summit crater containing a lava dome. Prior to its renowned devastating eruption in 1951, the forested peak had not been recognized as a volcano. Mount Lamington rises above the coastal plain north of the Owen Stanley Range. A summit complex of lava domes and crater remnants tops a low-angle base of volcaniclastic deposits dissected by radial valleys. A prominent broad "avalanche valley" extends northward from the breached crater. Ash layers from two early Holocene eruptions have been identified. After a long quiescent period, the volcano suddenly became active in 1951, producing a powerful explosive eruption during which devastating pyroclastic flows and surges swept all sides of the volcano, killing nearly 3000 people. The eruption concluded with growth of a 560-m-high lava dome in the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Ima Itikarai and Herman Patia, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Langila (Papua New Guinea) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Langila

Papua New Guinea

5.525°S, 148.42°E; summit elev. 1330 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Moderate activity steady through March 2006

Moderate activity took place at Langila during January 2006, including continuous ash fall, rumbling, and weak emissions of lava fragments. During 20 January to 7 February eruptive activity was characterized by thin, pale gray ash clouds. Minimal noises were heard on 26-27 February. A changing weak-to-bright glow accompanied by projections of glowing lava fragments were visible on the nights of 22-23 and 28 February, and 1-2, and 6 March. Moderate-to-thick dark gray ash clouds were reported on 1-2, 6-7, and 9 March. Ash plumes rose less than 2 km above the summit crater before drifting SW-W of the volcano. Crater 3 remained quiet.

Geologic Background. Langila, one of the most active volcanoes of New Britain, consists of a group of four small overlapping composite basaltic-andesitic cones on the lower E flank of the extinct Talawe volcano in the Cape Gloucester area of NW New Britain. A rectangular, 2.5-km-long crater is breached widely to the SE; Langila was constructed NE of the breached crater of Talawe. An extensive lava field reaches the coast on the N and NE sides of Langila. Frequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded since the 19th century from three active craters at the summit. The youngest and smallest crater (no. 3 crater) was formed in 1960 and has a diameter of 150 m.

Information Contacts: Ima Itikarai and Herman Patia, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Merapi (Indonesia) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Merapi

Indonesia

7.54°S, 110.446°E; summit elev. 2910 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Mid-2006 brings multiple pyroclastic flows that kill two, and travel up to 7 km

Seismic activity at Merapi began to increase on 19 March 2006, leading the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) to raise the Alert Level from 1 to 2 (on a scale of 1-4). Ten thousand residents were warned to prepare for possible evacuation.

On 10 April, authorities banned mountain climbing due to reports of increased tremor. Unverified preliminary reports indicated "lava" reportedly flowing near Pasar Bubar village, ~ 350 m from the volcano's crater. At 1500 on 12 April, CVGHM raised the Alert Level from 2 to 3. No one was permitted within 8 km of the summit.

During 21-25 April, seismicity remained elevated; several seismic signals associated with rockfalls were recorded. The SO2 flux measured from Merapi was 175 metric tons on 22 April. On 22 and 23 April, fumarolic emissions rose 400 m above the summit. On 25 April, two rockslides from lava-flow fronts were heard from nearby observatories. According to news reports, about 600 of the approximately 14,000 people living near the volcano had been evacuated by 24 April.

According to news reports, on 27 April nearly 2,000 villagers were evacuated from Sidorejo and Tegalmulyo villages. That day, small amounts of ash fell in Gemer village about 5 km from the summit.

On 28 April, CVGHM reported volcanic material traveling ~ 1.5 km SW to the Lamat River. Seismicity that day was dominated by multi-phase earthquakes; but signals from landslides, rockfalls, and low-frequency events were also recorded.

On 6 May, gas plumes rose to 800 m above the summit and eighteen incandescent avalanches of volcanic material were observed. On 7 May, 26 incandescent avalanches that extended ~ 100 m were seen during the morning. On 6 and 7 May, the lava dome continued to grow and seismicity was dominated by multi-phase earthquakes. Shallow volcanic earthquakes and signals from landslides and rockfalls were also recorded. On 8 May, the Darwin VAAC reported that CVGHM warned of a plume rising to ~ 3.7 km, but no ash was visible on satellite imagery.

According to the Darwin VAAC, gas plumes that rose ~ 600 m above the summit were visible on satellite imagery on 11 May. Avalanches of incandescent material extended 200 m SE towards the Gendol River, and 1.5 km SW towards the Krasak River. Several small incandescent avalanches of volcanic material were visible from observatory posts. The new lava dome at the volcano's summit had grown to fill the gap between the 1997 and 2001 lava flows on the W side of the summit, and had reached a height about the same as the 1997 lava flows. Seismicity was dominated by multi-phase earthquakes and signals associated with avalanches.

At 0940 on 13 May, the Alert Level was raised from 3 to 4, the highest level, and ~ 4,500 people living near the volcano were evacuated.

On 15 May pyroclastic flows traveled as far as 4 km to the W. By 16 May, more than 22,000 people had been evacuated, according to figures posted at the district disaster center; about 16,870 people were evacuated from three districts in Central Java Province, and more than 5,600 others were evacuated from the Slemen district. On 17 May, pyroclastic flows traveled as far as 3 km. Local volcanologists reported that the lava dome continued to grow, but at a slower rate than during previous days.

Pyroclastic flows to the SW and SE reached 4 km on 19 May and 3 km on 20 May. On 22 May, the lava dome volume was estimated at ~ 2.3 million cubic meters. The Darwin VAAC reported that low-level emissions continued during 18-19 and 23 May. CVGHM recommended that residents who lived in valleys on the NNW flanks near Sat, Lamat, Senowo, Trising, and Apu Rivers and on the SE flank near Woro River be allowed to return to their homes. Residents remained evacuated from villages within a 7 km radius from the volcano's summit and within 300 m of the banks of the Krasak/Bebeng, Bedog, and Boyong Rivers to the SW, and the Gendol River to the SE.

According to news reports, an eruption produced a cloud of hot gas and ash on 17 May. Witnesses said the size of the plume was smaller than ash-and-gas plumes seen on 15 May. On 18 May, a representative for Merapi from the Center for Volcanological Research and Technology Development (part of CVGHM), reported new ashfall.

On 24-25 May, lava flows were observed moving SW towards the Krasak River and SE towards the Gendol River. News reports indicated that on 27 May a M 6.3 earthquake that killed about 5,400 people resulted in a three-fold increase in activity at Merapi. A M 5.9 earthquake coincided with pyroclastic flows of unknown origin that extended 3.8 km SW. During 28-30 May, multiple pyroclastic flows reached 3 km SE and 4 km SW. Gas plumes reached 500 m above the summit on 25 May, 1,200 m on 26 May, 100 m on 29 May, and 900 m on 30 May.

From 31 May to 6 June, SO2-bearing plumes were observed daily; on 1 June they reached 1.3 km above the summit. According to the Darwin VAAC, low-level emissions were visible on satellite imagery on 1 and 6 June. Multiple pyroclastic flows reached ~ 4 km SE toward the Gendol River and 3.5 km SW toward the Krasak and Boyong Rivers. CVGHM reported on 31 May that lava avalanches moved W for the first time during the recent eruption.

According to a volcanologist in Yogyakarta, lava-flow distances and dome volume had both approximately doubled since the 27 May M 6.2 earthquake. On 6 June, people living near the base of the volcano began to move into temporary shelters. Activities remain restricted within a 7 km radius from the volcano's summit and within 300 m of the banks of Krasak/Bebeng, Bedog, and Boyong Rivers to the SW, and Gendol River to the SE.

On 8 June, the lava-dome growth rate at Merapi was an estimated 100,000 cubic meters per day and the estimated volume was then ~ 4 million cubic meters. An estimated volume loss of 400,000 cubic meters on 4 June had been due to a partial collapse of the S part of the Geger Buaya crater wall, which was constructed from 1910 lava flows.

On 8 June, a pyroclastic flow, lasting 12 minutes, reached a distance of ~ 5 km SE toward the Gendol River, the predominant travel direction since the M 6.2 earthquake on 27 May. According to a news report, this event prompted approximately 15,500 people to evacuate from the Sleman district to the S and the Magelang district to the W. On 13 June, the Alert Level was lowered from 4 to 3 but renewed pyroclastic-flow activity the next day prompted a return to Alert Level 4.

Gas plumes were observed almost daily during 7-13 June and reached ~ 1.2 km above the summit on 10 June. The Darwin VAAC reported small ash plumes visible on satellite imagery; minor ashfall was reported to the S at an observatory outpost, and in Yogyakarta, about 32 km away.

Gas plumes emitted on 14 and 15 June reached 900 m above the summit. On 14 June a dome collapse lasting ~ 3.5 hours produced pyroclastic flows that reached 7 km SE. Two volunteers on a search-and-rescue team assisting with evacuation efforts were trapped in an underground refuge in Kaliadem village and died, the first fatalities of the current eruption. Stone (2006) wrote that the volunteers had ". . . sought refuge in a bunker, one of several on the mountain built for that contingency. The blast door was slightly ajar when rescuers dug down to the bunker the next day. The men had burned to death."

On 15 June, pyroclastic flows reached a distance of 4.5 km SE along the Gendol River. Pyroclastic flows continued during 16-19 June as a new dome grew. The Alert Level remained at 4.

During 21-25 June, seismic signals at Merapi indicated almost daily occurrences of rockfalls and pyroclastic flows. Due to inclement weather, pyroclastic flows were only observed on 24 June and reached a distance of 4 km SE along the Gendol River and 2.5 km SW along the Krasak River. Gas plumes were observed during 22-25 June and reached 1.5 km above the summit on 24 June.

Reference. Stone, Richard, 2006, Volcanology?Scientists steal a daring look at Merapi's explosive potential; Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), v. 312, pp. 1724-6.

Geologic Background. Merapi, one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, lies in one of the world's most densely populated areas and dominates the landscape immediately north of the major city of Yogyakarta. It is the youngest and southernmost of a volcanic chain extending NNW to Ungaran volcano. Growth of Old Merapi during the Pleistocene ended with major edifice collapse perhaps about 2,000 years ago, leaving a large arcuate scarp cutting the eroded older Batulawang volcano. Subsequent growth of the steep-sided Young Merapi edifice, its upper part unvegetated due to frequent activity, began SW of the earlier collapse scarp. Pyroclastic flows and lahars accompanying growth and collapse of the steep-sided active summit lava dome have devastated cultivated lands on the western-to-southern flanks and caused many fatalities.

Information Contacts: Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Associated Press (URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/indonesia_volcano); Reuters (URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060418/wl_nm/indonesia_volcano_dc_2).


NW Rota-1 (United States) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

NW Rota-1

United States

14.601°N, 144.775°E; summit elev. -517 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Views of submarine volcano ejecting lava and bombs

During 18 April-13 May 2006, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and Oregon State University completed the 2006 Submarine Ring of Fire Expedition aboard the research vessel Melville. This expedition was the third in a series of explorations of the submarine volcanoes lying along the Mariana intra-ocean volcanic arc. That arc extends from S of the island of Guam northward more than 1,450 km through the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (see map in above report on Daikoku). A previous expedition to Northwest Rota-1 in 2004 discovered and named this volcano and found it erupting (BGVN 29:03). Daily logs of the 2006 expedition, including photographs and video clips, can be viewed on the NOAA Ocean Explorer web site noted below, from which much of this report was taken.

On 23 and 24 April 2006, the unmanned (remotely operated vessel, ROV) submersible Jason 2 revisited Brimstone Pit, a spot on the volcano where an ash-and-gas plume was discovered in 2004 and observed again in 2005 (Embley and others, 2004 and 2006). The changes were striking. According to Robert Embley (Oregon State University press release, 25 May 2006), "we saw features of submarine volcanic activity never before directly observed, including explosions of lava from a crater accompanied by a red glow and voluminous volcanic gases and ejected rocks." A degassing event at Brimstone Pit began releasing bubbles that formed a growing submarine plume cloud. The Pit, at a depth of 560 m, was significantly deeper (by ~ 20 m) than it was in the previous visits and there appeared to have been a recent collapse of the summit area. The Pit exuded a sluggish pulsating cloud of white color along with some gas bubbles. Some time later, the pit was almost filled with the white cloud, which appeared to come from the lavas themselves. The observers concluded that they witnessed lava extruding on the seafloor.

Particle plumes were mapped using a light-scattering sensor (LSS), part of the CTD (conductivity-temperature-depth) instrument package towed over the summit and flanks of the volcano. The CTD revealed layers of turbid (cloudy) water extending as far as 8 km down the S flank, and to depths up to 2,900 m. The turbid layers may arise from periodic collapse of the unstable slopes of volcanic fallout material similar to that found in the white cloud observed at the summit.

Submersible dives on 25 April 2006 to the Brimstone Pit revealed a lava flow forming there. The initial approach to the Pit revealed a line of bubbles (mainly CO2) escaping from a fracture in the underlying rock. However, in place of the previously flat ground that described the Pit on 24 April, a small ash cone had formed. It was ~ 6 m in diameter with walls about 1 m high, made up entirely of fine-grained ash. As the submersible approached, observers saw a plume discharging out of the cone's center and, on closer inspection, it appeared that ash was raining out of the bottom of the plume and falling onto the flanks of the small cone.

Near Brimstone Pit, the submersible collected a piece of newly erupted andesite lava containing elemental sulfur filling vesicles. The lava flow advanced but slowly, traveling forward bit by bit, chunk by chunk. As the lava advanced, the flow's toe vigorously degassed. The emitted gas and the associated plume took on a yellow hue. Scientists interpreted the escaping gases as mainly sulfur-rich (SO2 and H2S), which can mix with and make the surrounding seawater strongly acidic and precipitate elemental sulfur, the source of the plume's yellow hue. Liquid native sulfur inside the plume was seen raining on the seafloor as small droplets and filled in the numerous holes in the lava where the gases escaped. Locally, carbon dioxide formed bubbles in front of the advancing lava. These different gases provided the force behind the vigorous 'mini-explosions' within the lava flow.

Finishing the last of six dives at Northwest Rota-1 on 29 April 2006, and combining observations from the two previous expeditions, scientists developed some conclusions about processes at this extremely dynamic site. Prior to arrival in 2006, a major landslide must have originated near Brimstone Pit. During the first day of 2006 submersible observations, a turbid layer generated by the slide surrounded the lower flanks. The next day, when the water had cleared, half of Brimstone Pit had fallen away and the seafloor around the vent was swept clean of recent lava. Over the next week, eruptive activity gradually increased in intensity and vigor. By the end of the week, a 5-m-high cone made of ash and lava blocks had built up over the vent, and the turbid layer on the flanks was almost gone. On the last dive, scientists saw glowing lava jetting from the vent (figure 5).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Glowing red lava jetting out of the vent at Northwest Rota-1 Brimstone Pit at depth of 560 m. Photo taken from the submersible Jason II, 29 April 2006. Image courtesy of Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Exploration, NOAA Vents Program.

The scientists concluded that observing explosive volcanic activity at a submarine volcano was easier and more revealing in many ways than on land, perhaps because the eruptive activity, although violent at times, is usually limited to a small area due to the dampening effect of the surrounding water (figure 6). For example, at Brimstone Pit the pressure of 560 m of water over the site reduced the power of the explosive bursts. Also, the water quickly slows down the rocks and ash violently thrown out of the vent. The scientists viewed the release of volcanic gases from the erupting lava with new clarity, with the help of the streams of bubbles and multicolored plumes as they were emitted. In addition, the scientists recorded the activity using a portable underwater microphone (hydrophone).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Eruption at Brimstone Pit in Northwest Rota-1 at a depth of 560 m. Photo taken by the submersible Jason II, 29 April 2006. Image courtesy of Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Exploration, NOAA Vents Program.

Chadwick and his associates at NOAA have identified and named 56 seamounts in the Mariana Arc, 11 of which show hydrothermal activity, based primarily on CTD instrument tows (table 1; see figure 5 for map showing locations).

Table 1. Seamounts in the Mariana arc that are active volcanos based on submersible observations and/or that registered signs of hydrothermal activity on CTD tows. Brief comments on noteworthy observations from several of those visited in 2006 are included. Courtesy of William Chadwick, NOAA, June 2006.

Seamounts (listed S to N) Shallowest summit depth Longitude Latitude Comments
[Seamount X] 1,230 m 144.0167°E 13.2500°N --
Northwest Rota-1 517 m 144.7750°E 14.6000°N --
Esmeralda Bank 54 m 145.2458°E 14.9583°N --
E. Diamante 127 m 145.6583°E 15.9167°N Active, metal-rich, ephemeral 'black smokers' shallowest yet discovered.
Zealandia Bank 144 m 145.8000°E 16.8833°N --
Maug 54 m 145.2217°E 20.0208°N --
NW Uracas 703 m 144.8400°E 20.5833°N --
Daikoku 323 m 144.1942°E 21.3242°N See report in this issue.
NW Eifuku 1,551 m 144.0433°E 21.4875°N Liquid CO2 venting from 'white smokers.'
Kasuga 297 m 143.6417°E 21.6100°N --
Nikko 392 m 142.3255°E 23.0784°N Sulfur chimneys, boiling pots of molten sulfur surrounded by a thin crust on a larger lava lake.

References. Embley, R.W., Baker, E.T., Chadwick, W.W., Jr., Lipton, J.E., Resing, J.A., Massoth, G.J., and Nakamura, K., 2004, Explorations of Mariana Arc volcanoes reveal new hydrothermal systems: EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 85, no. 2, p. 37, 40.

Embley, R.W., Chadwick, W.W., Jr, Baker, E.T., Butterfield, D.A., Resing, J.A., de Ronde, C. E.J., Tunnicliffe, V., Lupton, J.E., Juniper, S.K., Rubin, K.H., Stern, R.J., Lebon, G.T., Nakamura, K., Merle, S.G., Hein, J.R., Wiens, D.A., and Tamura, Y., 2006, Long-term eruptive activity at a submarine arc volcano: Nature, v. 441, no. 7092, p. 494-497.

Oregon State University, 25 May 2006, Press Release: Nature paper details eruption activity at submarine volcano: College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Science (COAS), 104 COAS Admininstration Building, Corvallis, OR 97331.

Geologic Background. A submarine volcano detected during a 2003 NOAA bathymetric survey of the Mariana Island arc was found to be hydrothermally active and named NW Rota-1. The basaltic to basaltic-andesite seamount rises to within 517 m of the sea surface SW of Esmeralda Bank and lies 64 km NW of Rota Island and about 100 km north of Guam. When Northwest Rota-1 was revisited in 2004, a minor submarine eruption from a vent named Brimstone Pit on the upper south flank about 40 m below the summit intermittently ejected a plume several hundred meters high containing ash, rock particles, and molten sulfur droplets that adhered to the surface of the remotely operated submersible vehicle. The active vent was funnel-shaped, about 20 m wide and 12 m deep. NW Rota-1 is a large submarine volcano with prominent structural lineaments about a kilometer apart cutting across the summit of the edifice and down the NE and SW flanks.

Information Contacts: William W. Chadwick, Jr., Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies (CIMRS), NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), 2115 SE OSU Drive, Newport, OR 97365 USA; NOAA Ocean Explorer (URL: http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/06fire/welcome.html).


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


During first half of 2006, several ash plumes rose to ~ 7-8 km altitude

The last report on Popocatépetl covered February-December 2005 (BGVN 30:12). This report covers January-June 2006. Throughout this reporting interval, the warning level remained at Yellow. Seismicity is summarized on table 18.

Table 18. Recorded earthquakes near Popocatépetl during April-June 2006. Courtesy of CENAPRED.

Date Local Time Depth (km) Magnitude
04 Apr 2006 1426 5.4 2.2
05 Apr 2006 0416 5.4 2.3
05 Apr 2006 1557 8.0 2.4
06 Apr 2006 0921 1.0 2.3
07 Apr 2006 0339 6.3 1.9
12 Apr 2006 0457 5 2.8
18 Apr 2006 0101 6.4 2.6
27 Apr 2006 1024 4.3 2.2
25 May 2006 2019 4.9 2.3
29 May 2006 1548 5.6 2.1
30 May 2006 1224 7.7 2.2
31 May 2006 0238 9.3 2.4
31 May 2006 1253 4.2 2.0
02 Jun 2006 0502 5.4 2.2
08 Jun 2006 0637 4.7 3.0

On 6 January 2006, a small explosion occurred at Popocatépetl around 0042. According to the Washington VAAC, the resultant ash plume was visible on satellite imagery and its top reached ~ 5.8 km altitude, extending NE. Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED) reported that after the explosion overall activity decreased to previous levels. During 24-30 January, several emissions of gas, steam, and small amounts of ash occurred. A moderate explosion on 26 January at 0957 produced an ash plume that rose to ~ 8.4 km altitude and drifted NE.

Throughout the month of February, several small-to-moderate emissions of steam, gas, and ash occurred. On the 4th, an explosion produced a plume that rose to ~ 6.7 km altitude. Aerial photos taken on 10 February showed a 130-m-diameter lava dome at the bottom of the crater. At 0528 on 24 February an M 2.3 earthquake was detected and was located 0.5 km to the N of the crater at a depth of 4.1 km.

During April-June, the volcano issued several small emissions of steam, gas, and ash; reports also noted several small coincident earthquakes. At 1807 on 23 May, an ash emission was observed that reached a height of ~ 7.4 km altitude. The ash column was dispersed towards the SE and was followed by a high-frequency, low-amplitude tremor signal that lasted 90 minutes and then returned to previous low levels.

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

Information Contacts: Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED), Av. Delfín Madrigal No.665. Coyoacan, México D.F. 04360, México (URL: https://www.gob.mx/cenapred/).


Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Rabaul

Papua New Guinea

4.271°S, 152.203°E; summit elev. 688 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Gas emissions and earthquakes during March-April 2006

Despite minor inflationary movements that began in mid-February 2006, Tavurvur remained relatively quiet from the end of March to mid-April 2006. Variable amounts of white vapor were released from the summit area and from an active fumarole on the upper W flank during this period. Vapor emissions became denser during and after rainfall. There were no noises heard or visible glow detected at night. Seismic activity remained at a low level. A high-frequency earthquake that originated NE of the caldera was recorded on 22 March. No other distinct high-frequency events were recorded, but 53 low-frequency earthquakes were recorded during 1-14 April.

Geologic Background. The low-lying Rabaul caldera on the tip of the Gazelle Peninsula at the NE end of New Britain forms a broad sheltered harbor utilized by what was the island's largest city prior to a major eruption in 1994. The outer flanks of the 688-m-high asymmetrical pyroclastic shield volcano are formed by thick pyroclastic-flow deposits. The 8 x 14 km caldera is widely breached on the east, where its floor is flooded by Blanche Bay and was formed about 1400 years ago. An earlier caldera-forming eruption about 7100 years ago is now considered to have originated from Tavui caldera, offshore to the north. Three small stratovolcanoes lie outside the northern and NE caldera rims. Post-caldera eruptions built basaltic-to-dacitic pyroclastic cones on the caldera floor near the NE and western caldera walls. Several of these, including Vulcan cone, which was formed during a large eruption in 1878, have produced major explosive activity during historical time. A powerful explosive eruption in 1994 occurred simultaneously from Vulcan and Tavurvur volcanoes and forced the temporary abandonment of Rabaul city.

Information Contacts: Ima Itikarai and Herman Patia, Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), P.O. Box 386, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Soufriere Hills

United Kingdom

16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Big dome collapse and tall plume on 20 May 2006 leave a W-leaning crater

Activity at Soufrière Hills remained at elevated levels (table 63), similar to that previously reported (BGVN 30:12), a state that culminated with a dome collapse on 20 May 2006. Although that event took away considerable portions of the dome (and caused a small tsunami), photographs revealed post-collapse dome growth focused over a broad SE sector extending from the SW around to the NE. Numerous rockfalls continued from the S, E, and NE flanks of the lava dome. The NE-side rockfalls added talus to the upper reaches of the Tar River valley and were visible at night.

Table 63. Soufrière Hills seismicity during 28 December 2005 to 12 May 2006. * Due to weather conditions, gas measurements were not made. ** As a result of the collapse, instrumentation was lost and gas measurements were not able to be measured. Courtesy of MVO.

Date Hybrid EQ's Volcano-tectonic EQ's Long-period EQ's Rockfall signals SO2 flux (metric tons/day)
28 Dec-06 Jan 2006 -- -- 11 37 522
06 Jan-13 Jan 2006 -- 1 30 116 724
13 Jan-20 Jan 2006 -- -- 17 61 767
20 Jan-27 Jan 2006 -- -- 11 60 470
27 Jan-03 Feb 2006 1 3 11 92 594
03 Feb-10 Feb 2006 2 39 61 84 465
10 Feb-17 Feb 2006 2 9 121 10 568
17 Feb-24 Feb 2006 1 3 26 30 286
22 Feb-03 Mar 2006 1 7 157 18 388
03 Mar-10 Mar 2006 2 2 148 282 454
10 Mar-17 Mar 2006 -- 4 115 319 480
17 Mar-24 Mar 2006 13 3 231 336 1,034
24 Mar-31 Mar 2006 12 1 230 316 523
31 Mar-07 Apr 2006 -- 3 38 507 578
07 Apr-14 Apr 2006 -- 3 99 620 540
14 Apr-21 Apr 2006 3 -- 80 100 *
21 Apr-28 Apr 2006 -- -- 30 589 521
28 Apr-05 May 2006 -- -- 109 279 310
05 May-12 May 2006 -- -- 74 571 702
12 May-19 May 2006 7 1 130 753 674
19 May-26 May 2006 89 11 229 373 **
26 May-02 Jun 2006 62 4 172 195 **
02 Jun-09 Jun 2006 20 -- 28 163 **

A central spine was first observed on 17 January 2006 when clouds briefly cleared from the dome. On 22 January, two new relatively thin, vertical planar spines were seen on the SE flank of the lava dome and collapsed on 29 January. Helicopter and field observations indicated continued dome growth, particularly in the SE (figure 64).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. A photo showing the growing dome on SoufriPre Hills as viewed from Tar River at the seaward (E) end of the delta. Photo taken 23 January 2006 along the SW coastline. Courtesy of Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO).

On 10 February, MVO reported increased activity to the Washington VAAC. Satellite imagery showed a prominent hotspot at the volcano and a NW-drifting ash plume at an altitude of ~3 km. A small dark lobe of lava was observed on the western side of the lava dome in the crater. Steaming and venting were observed throughout the day. A photo appears as figure 65.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. A 10 February 2006 photo taken at Soufriere Hills showing ash and steam venting from the dome. This view is from the SE; the ash cloud drifted N. Courtesy of MVO. Courtesy of MVO.

By early 11 February, this lobe had advanced rapidly towards the NE side of the dome and was visible as a steep-sided plateau of lava from inhabited areas around Salem. Photographs from fixed cameras showed continued changes to this lava lobe over the next few days, and the NE margin could be seen glowing at night and shedding rockfalls into the NE part of the crater. Ash-and-gas emissions continued through 15 February, producing plumes to an altitude of ~2.7 km. The initial growth rate of this lobe surpassed 5 cubic meters per second, but the rate declined around 17 February. The new lava lobe began to fill the gap between the lava dome and the N and W crater walls, raising the possibility that small rockfalls could spill over those areas in coming weeks. After 22 February, incandescent rockfalls were visible at night, coursing down the N, E, and SW sides of the dome and into the Tar River Valley (figure 66).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. A Soufriere Hills photo showing the incandescent rockfalls at night taken from Perches Mountain, SE of the volcano. This photo was taken on 22 February 2006. Courtesy of MVO.

On 26 February, rapid vertical growth of the lava dome at Soufrière Hills was visible on camera images, and by 27 February a large spine about 30 m wide and at least 30 m high had developed at the dome's summit. By 28 February this spine had split into two parts and was leaning precariously to the NE. At about 2115 on 28 February the overhanging parts of the spine disintegrated and generated pyroclastic flows that traveled down the Tar River Valley almost as far as the coast. A low-level ash cloud drifted W. Additional changes to the shape of the spines and the upper NE flank of the volcano were noted in the following days as they disintegrated further. Rockfalls were visible on the N, NE, and E flanks of the volcano. Some fumaroles were observed on the upper outside part of Gages Wall (W of the lava dome) on 27 February, suggesting movement of fluids in this area.

During 3-17 March, lava-dome growth continued and the dome reached an altitude of ~950 m. The active lava lobe shed rockfalls and small pyroclastic flows to the W, N, and E. A vigorous gas vent was seen on the W side of the lava dome on 8 March, above Gages valley. Small fumaroles were visible at the top of Gages valley and below the lava dome remnant that stands at the top of Gages Valley.

Observations during 17 March-7 April revealed that lava-dome growth was focused in the summit area and towards the E and NE (figure 67). The N side of the lava dome showed little change. Rockfalls and pyroclastic flows were restricted to the Tar River Valley and were numerous on 19-20 March. The largest pyroclastic flows traveled as far as 2 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. A Soufriere Hills photo of the growing lava dome taken on 30 March 2006. The photographer stood on Jack Boy Hill and looked NE. Courtesy of MVO.

Lava extrusion continued during 7-21 April. Growth occurred to the E and N, and an eastward-facing lobe developed on the NE side of the dome. Numerous small rockfalls continued from the active eastern flanks of the dome, adding to the talus in the upper reaches of the Tar River valley. Rockfalls were accompanied by minor ash venting. Due to unusual wind conditions, plumes were predominately transported N and NW, shifting to the E on 20 April. As a result of this process, light ashfall occurred over much of Montserrat. Thermal images taken on 27 April indicated some very hot areas on the E flank of the dome.

Deposits from a series of pyroclastic flows occurring on 4 May extended as far as the Tar River delta. Northerly directed winds during the reporting period resulted in light ashfall in areas north of the Belham valley. The dome volume was approximately 80 million cubic meters and the average growth rate through April was about 8 cubic meters per second.

On 18 May, a survey conducted on the southern half of the dome was carried out using a terrestrial laser scanner and showed that the summit of the dome had reached a height of 1,006 m, this is 83 m higher than Chance's Peak (figure 68).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. The SE side of the Soufriere Hills lava dome as viewed from Galways Mountain on 11 May 2006. A new shear lobe forms the highest point of the dome and is growing toward the S. Chance's Peak is in the back left and Centre Hills in the back right. Courtesy of MVO.

20 May collapse. A major lava dome collapse took place on the morning of 20 May (figure 69). A helicopter flight in the afternoon confirmed that most of the lava dome had gone, together with some remnants of the 2003 lava dome, leaving a broad, deep, eastward-sloping crater at the summit of the volcano. The volume of the lava dome was believed to be about 90 million cubic meters and most of this collapsed over a period of less than three hours. Views of the W part of the crater where ash venting is continuing were not possible but it is unlikely that there is significant dome material remaining there.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. A set of photos taken 1600 on 20 May 2006 after the lava dome collapse. (A) A shot taken from the E showing an overview of the delta, Tar River Valley, and dome complex. (B) The crater as viewed from the NE above the Tar River Valley. Ash emission continued from a vent on the W side of the crater and rose to an altitude of 1.8 km. (C) A photo taken from E of the steaming summit crater showing most of the lava dome, including parts of the remaining 2003 dome. (D) A photo shot from MVO showing the towns of Flemings, Hope, and Salem in the early afternoon as the ash-and-gas cloud dissipated. Belham River Valley, Old Towne, and Garibaldi Hill remained obscured by the cloud of ash and gas. Courtesy of MVO.

At 0222 on 20 May there was a single precursor, a long-period seismic event located 3 km below the dome. A brief episode of heightened seismic amplitude corresponding to ash venting occurred during 0300-0330. During heavy rain, another episode of increased seismic amplitude, interpreted as ash venting, began at 0552, and it developed into a high-amplitude seismic signal. The heavy rain caused mudflows in Belham River valley. By 0632 low-level ash clouds were drifting to the NW of the volcano from the crater area and a steam plume was rising to 6,000 ft (~1800 m). Unconfirmed reports suggested that pyroclastic flows first reached the sea at about 0645. Regular pulses of pyroclastic flows were reaching the sea down the Tar River valley by 0720 with major pulses recorded in seismic amplitude at 0736, 0743, and between 0801 and 0804. Also between 0730 and 0810 a number of long-period seismic events were detected. At 0740 an ash cloud was reported at nearly 17 km, altitude the highest reported ash cloud during the ten years of the eruption. At 0743, pyroclastic surges were observed spreading across the NE flanks of the volcano reaching the Spanish Point area. It was also estimated at this time that surges had spread 3 km offshore from Tar River valley, across the surface of the ocean.

By 0750, lithics were falling in areas NW of the volcano; most were less than 3.5 cm across, and the largest found in the inhabited area was 6 cm across. Six car windscreens were reported broken. The deepest ash fall in inhabited areas was about 3 cm. Activity began to reduce in intensity after 0815 and a high-amplitude seismic signal remained until 0900. At this time, residents in the Old Towne and Salem area were subjected to high levels of volcanic gases particularly hydrogen chloride causing some to move N (figure 69). Widespread and noisy mudflows were reported in the Trants area to the NE of the volcano. Ash venting from the W of the crater continued until about 1700 when it began to decline.

A 1-m-high tsunami was reported from Deshaies beach in Guadeloupe and swells were detected in Little Bay, Montserrat, and at Jolly and English Harbour, Antigua. Relatively light but continuous ash-and-steam venting followed the collapse.

The weeks after the 20 May collapse. Wind direction shifted towards the N late on 21 May causing ash fall and raining mud in most parts of the island. Scientists remained alert to the possibility of further explosive activity but seismic activity was at low levels after the event on 20 May.

Since the May collapse, the lava dome continued to grow. As of 9 June it was approximately 20 million cubic meters in size. This is similar to the size of the dome in early January 2006. The average growth rate since the dome collapsed on 20 May was close to 10 cubic meters per second, well above the average growth rate of 6 cubic meters per second noted between January and April 2006.

By the end of the report period the dome was broad and flat-topped with a growing talus slope extending E. The lava on the summit of the dome is blocky, which is typical of lava extruded at a high rate. Vigorous ash and gas emitted by a vent W of the lava dome occurred during the week of 2 June. The venting is accompanied by a roaring sound that is sometimes audible in the Salem area. Prevailing winds have taken most of this ash and gas to the west over Plymouth. Satellite imagery on 4 June showed a thin area of ash out to St. Croix. In addition, there were multiple SFC and pilot reports of ash over the E portion of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Mudflows were reported on the 11 and 13 June during heavy rainfall.

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

Information Contacts: Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO), Fleming, Montserrat, West Indies (URL: http://www.mvo.ms/).


St. Helens (United States) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

St. Helens

United States

46.2°N, 122.18°W; summit elev. 2549 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intracrater lava dome continues to grow through at least May 2006

From August to December 2005, the lava dome inside the crater of Mount St. Helens continued to grow, accompanied by low rates of seismicity, low emissions of steam and volcanic gases, and minor production of ash (BGVN 30:12). The hazard status was at Volcano Advisory (Alert Level 2); aviation color code Orange.

Based on the online reports of the Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), this pattern of activity continued in January and February 2006 and suggests that the slow extrusion of dacite onto the crater floor at Mount St. Helens continued. Slight decreases in seismicity occurred on two occasions after larger than normal earthquakes. By mid-January the new dome was noticeably taller and broader than in December. Rockfalls from its summit generated small ash plumes that slowly rose above the crater rim and dissipated as they drifted E.

On 24 January a shallow M 2.7 earthquake triggered a rockfall from the new lava dome, which in turn produced an ash plume that filled the crater before dissipating and drifting N over the pumice plain. Analysis of recent photographs from cameras in the crater showed that the top of the new lava dome was at an elevation of ~ 2,240 m, about 90 m higher than it was in early November 2005.

In February, occasional clear views of the volcano revealed incandescence on the currently growing lava lobe and a few incandescent rockfalls. Comparison of photos taken between 17 December and 7 February showed that the base of the active lobe of the lava dome enlarged by about 100 m. Photographs taken during the week of 5 February showed that the active part of the new lava dome continued to extrude, with points on the surface of the dome moving a couple of meters per day (figure 61).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. High-angle view of Mount St. Helens new dome from the NNW, taken on 5 February 2006 by John Pallister. Photograph courtesy of USGS.

Gas measurements made on 15 February suggested that the volcanic-gas flux remained unchanged from recent measurements. Observations made on 17 February revealed that the active NE part of the new lava dome was developing a steeply inclined jagged spine. At its top, temperatures as high as 580°C were measured using a thermal sensor.

Growth of the new lava dome inside the crater of Mount St. Helens continued during March, April, and May 2006, accompanied by low rates of seismicity, low emissions of steam and volcanic gases, and minor production of ash. Small earthquakes occurred every several minutes, punctuated by occasional larger earthquakes. The Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver on the new lava dome showed that lava emerging from the vent was still advancing WNW at about a meter per day. Small rockfalls produced small ash clouds that rose from the dome's NW flank. The eruption of lava into the crater continued, shown by ongoing rockfalls and continuous GPS measurements made on the growing lava lobe.

Analysis of photographs revealed that a slab of rock approximately 50,000 cubic meters in volume was shed from the N margin of the growing spine during 6-7 May. This probably coincided with a large seismic signal recorded on the night of 7 May. Rock-avalanche deposits extended a few hundred meters to the NE. The avalanche was accompanied by an ash cloud. The spine continued to grow during 10-15 May, producing rockfalls that intensified on the evening of 14 May. Incandescence was visible on satellite imagery. On 17 May night-time incandescence from rockfalls was observed.

During 24-25 May, seismicity was at levels typical of the continuing lava-dome extrusion at Mount St. Helens. On 29 May, a M 3.1 earthquake and simultaneous large rockfall occurred. An ash plume produced at 0810 reached an altitude of 4.9 km - 6.1 km according to ground observations and pilot reports (figure 62). One pilot report suggested that the plume reached an altitude of 7.3 km. By 1308, ash from the event was no longer visible on satellite imagery. The rockfall originated primarily from the N side of the growing fin (figures 63 and 64).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. At Mt. St. Helens, a view from the Brutus camera at 0914 on 29 May 2006. Vapor with light ash obscures most of the extruding lava spine. The light gray swath in the center of the photograph shows the path of the rock avalanche as it flowed downhill. The dark areas adjacent to the rock-avalanche path shows the ash cloud (finer material) that accompanied the avalanche. Photograph courtesy USGS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. Mount St. Helens crater and dome showing aftermath of rockfall event of 29 May 2006, seen from the N. Taken on 30 May 2006 by Willie Scott and Jim Vallance. Photograph courtesy USGS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. Aerial view showing Mount St. Helens crater and dome as seen from the SW. Spirit Lake can just be seen in the upper right corner. Taken on 30 May 2006 by Willie Scott and Jim Vallance. Photograph courtesy USGS.

During June 2006, seismicity indicated that the lava spine continued to grow inside the crater of Mount St. Helens and occasionally produced minor rockfalls. On 9 June, pilots reported that an ash-and-steam plume, generated after a rockfall following a M 3.2 earthquake, reached an altitude of 4.6 km. According to seismic data, a medium-sized rockfall occurred on 13 June. Incandescence was observed on satellite imagery. A small steam plume from the lava dome and dust from minor rockfalls were visible from the US Forest Service's web camera at the Johnston Ridge Observatory on 25 and 26 June. On 26 June, a pilot reported that dust and ash reached an altitude of ~ 2.4 km and drifted W.

From January through June 2006, St Helens remained at Volcano Advisory (Alert Level 2); aviation color code Orange.

Geologic Background. Prior to 1980, Mount St. Helens formed a conical, youthful volcano sometimes known as the Fujisan of America. During the 1980 eruption the upper 400 m of the summit was removed by slope failure, leaving a 2 x 3.5 km horseshoe-shaped crater now partially filled by a lava dome. Mount St. Helens was formed during nine eruptive periods beginning about 40-50,000 years ago and has been the most active volcano in the Cascade Range during the Holocene. Prior to 2,200 years ago, tephra, lava domes, and pyroclastic flows were erupted, forming the older edifice, but few lava flows extended beyond the base of the volcano. The modern edifice consists of basaltic as well as andesitic and dacitic products from summit and flank vents. Historical eruptions in the 19th century originated from the Goat Rocks area on the north flank, and were witnessed by early settlers.

Information Contacts: Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO), U.S. Geological Survey, 1300 SE Cardinal Court, Building 10, Suite 100, Vancouver, WA 98683-9589, USA (URL: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/cvo/).


Ubinas (Peru) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Ubinas

Peru

16.355°S, 70.903°W; summit elev. 5672 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash and steam emissions stir hazard and environmental concerns

Ubinas began erupting ash on 25 March 2006 (BGVN 31:03). Randall White from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported on 1 April that increased fumarolic activity occurred during the end of March. Victor Aguilar from the Universidad de San Agustint, visited the volcano on 31 March. He found strong steam-and-ash emissions occurring. Also, leaves of nearby crops were burned and a sound similar to a jet engine emanated from the vent area. Table 1 gives a summary of some recent plumes. Figure 3 contains an ASTER image of the volcano and surroundings on 8 May 2006.

Table 1. Summary of some recent plume activity from Ubinas. Courtesy of the Buenos Aires VAAC and INGEMMET; satellite imagery courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Date (time) Altitude Drift direction Comments
06 Apr (1220) 6.1-9.1 km -- Ash absent on satellite imagery
06 Apr (1900) 6.1-7.3 km NE --
08 Apr -- -- Volcanic activity ceased
09 Apr 6.1-7.3 km SW --
11 Apr -- -- Volcanic activity ceased
13 Apr -- -- Ash emissions increased, ashfall reached 7 km from volcano
15 Apr 6.1-9.1 km -- Ash cloud
16 Apr -- -- Volcanic activity ceased
18 Apr (0715-1600) 1-3 km -- Continuous emissions of ash and gas
19 Apr ~3 km -- Plume containing ash/lava fragments lasted 6-7 hours
20 Apr-22 Apr -- NW, W, SW Plume reached 60 km from the volcano; traces of ash reached the Arequipa airport.
25 Apr-26 Apr 0.2-0.7 km -- --
04 May-08 May ~6.7 km -- See fig. 15
9-11, 13-14 May 7.3 km (max) -- --
20 May-25 May 7.3 km (max) -- --
24 May 6.7 km E Plume reported by pilot
25 May 7 km NW --
30 May 7.9 km E Ash plume seen on satellite imagery
31 May-05 Jun 7.9 km N, NE, SE, S --
09 Jun-11 Jun 6.7 km E, SW Ash clouds reported by pilots
Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. A faint white plume rose from the summit of Ubinas on 8 May 2006, when the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA's Terra satellite captured this image. Courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

The Perú Instituto Geológico Minero y Metalúrgico (INGEMMET) reported that gas and ash were emitted from Ubinas from 27 March to at least 19 April. On 13 April, ash emissions increased noticeably in comparison to the previous days, with ashfall in the villages of Ubinas, Querapi, and Sacuaya, and as far as 7 km from the volcano. Acid rain was also noted in these villages, particularly between 1400 and 1600 hours on 14 April. Explosions on 13 and 14 April were heard in nearby villages. According to a news report on 18 April, however, officials urged residents of the town of Querapi ~ 5 km from the volcano to evacuate.

On 19 April, a lava dome was observed on the crater floor for the first time. It was incandescent, 60 m in diameter, and 4 m high. Explosions were heard as far as 6 km from the volcano and a plume composed of ash and lava fragments rose ~ 3 km above the volcano. Plumes lasted for 6-7 hours and hazard statements suggested significant danger within 4 km of the crater. The Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) released volcanic ash advisory statements during the report period.

According to news reports, as of 19 April at least 1,000 people living N of the volcano suffered respiratory problems, dozens of livestock died and many more were ill after eating ash-covered grass, and water sources were polluted with ash. Dozens of people from Querapi, the town closest to the volcano, began to evacuate on 21 April. On 22 April, officials declared a state of emergency for the area near the volcano and sent aid for evacuees.

During 25 and 26 April, the volume of ash emitted from the volcano decreased significantly. Gas plumes rose between 200 and 700 m above the volcano's caldera. Seismicity during 22-26 April was higher than normal. The Buenos Aires VAAC posted volcanic ash advisories during the report period.

Several thermal anomalies were observed by MODIS/MODVOLC in 2006 at the following local times: 0105 hours, 27 May; 2220 hours, 31 May; 2225 hours, 7 June; 2210 hours, 18 June; and 2235 hours, 30 June. On 3 June, the Alert Level for Ubinas was increased to Orange due to heightened explosive activity. According to a news report, on 5 June, officials in S Perú prepared to evacuate approximately 480 families; approximately 550 families were evacuated on 10 and 11 June. Ubinas emitted a plume of ash and/or steam on 24 June 2006. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying onboard NASA's Aqua satellite showed the plume moving E.

Geologic Background. A small, 1.4-km-wide caldera cuts the top of Ubinas, Perú's most active volcano, giving it a truncated appearance. It is the northernmost of three young volcanoes located along a regional structural lineament about 50 km behind the main volcanic front. The growth and destruction of Ubinas I was followed by construction of Ubinas II beginning in the mid-Pleistocene. The upper slopes of the andesitic-to-rhyolitic Ubinas II stratovolcano are composed primarily of andesitic and trachyandesitic lava flows and steepen to nearly 45 degrees. The steep-walled, 150-m-deep summit caldera contains an ash cone with a 500-m-wide funnel-shaped vent that is 200 m deep. Debris-avalanche deposits from the collapse of the SE flank about 3,700 years ago extend 10 km from the volcano. Widespread Plinian pumice-fall deposits include one of Holocene age about 1,000 years ago. Holocene lava flows are visible on the flanks, but historical activity, documented since the 16th century, has consisted of intermittent minor-to-moderate explosive eruptions.

Information Contacts: Randall A. White, USGS/OFDA Volcano Disaster Assistance Program; Victor Aguilar, Universidad de San Agustin, Perú; Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center; Instituto Geológico Minero y Metalúrgico (INGEMMET ? Institution of Mining and Metallurgical Geology); National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Earth Observer (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHarards/).


Villarrica (Chile) — May 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Villarrica

Chile

39.42°S, 71.93°W; summit elev. 2847 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Unusual seismicity, minor pyroclastic, and gas explosions, January-April 2005

Our last report on Villarrica, through January 2005, described plumes, the growth of a lava lake in the crater, and some night-time Strombolian explosions (BGVN 29:12). This report covers January to April 2005.

According to the March 2005 newsletter of the Multinational Andean Project: Geoscience for Andean Communities (MAP-GAC) produced by the Geological Survey of Canada, both seismic activity and degassing from the permanent fumarole increased in January. One of the early January explosions described above sent pyroclastic material (ash and scoriaceous lapilli) onto the flanks of the snow-and-ice covered volcano, covering an area 1 km wide and 3 km long. Subsequent minor explosions have sent pyroclastic material to estimated heights of 300 m above the crater. Onlookers have reported incandescent material within the gas-and-pyroclastic column.

On 19 January 2005, volcanologists Hugo Moreno and Edmundo Polanco of OVDAS–SERNAGEOMIN observed the lava lake actively spattering at a distance of 30 m below the edge of the principal crater; the crater interior and perimeter were covered in spatter. The glacier covering the cone had developed new fractures and crevasses. Activity in February 2005 lessened.

During 29 March to 3 April 2005, the lava lake inside Villarrica's crater remained active, with Strombolian explosions occurring. Some gas explosions were observed to hurl volcanic bombs as far as ~ 300 m. According to a news report on 12 April 2005, the Oficina Nacional de Emergencia reported that unusual seismicity was recorded at Villarrica during early April. Fresh ash deposits were seen outside of the volcano's crater. Visitors were banned from climbing the volcano.

Geologic Background. Glacier-clad Villarrica, one of Chile's most active volcanoes, rises above the lake and town of the same name. It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain. A 6-km-wide caldera formed during the late Pleistocene. A 2-km-wide caldera that formed about 3500 years ago is located at the base of the presently active, dominantly basaltic to basaltic-andesitic cone at the NW margin of the Pleistocene caldera. More than 30 scoria cones and fissure vents dot the flanks. Plinian eruptions and pyroclastic flows that have extended up to 20 km from the volcano were produced during the Holocene. Lava flows up to 18 km long have issued from summit and flank vents. Historical eruptions, documented since 1558, have consisted largely of mild-to-moderate explosive activity with occasional lava effusion. Glaciers cover 40 km2 of the volcano, and lahars have damaged towns on its flanks.

Information Contacts: Werner Keller, Proyecto de Observacion Villarrica (POVI), Wiesenstrasse 8, 86438 Kissing, Germany (URL: http://www.povi.cl/); Hugo Moreno and Edmundo Polanco, Observatorio Volcanológico de los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería, Casilla 23D, Temuco, Chile (URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/); MAP:GAC Newsletter, Geological Survey of Canada, 101-605 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC,V6B 5J3, Canada.

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