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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

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

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

Recently Published Bulletin Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Pacaya (Guatemala) — August 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sangeang Api

Indonesia

8.2°S, 119.07°E; summit elev. 1912 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Stromboli (Italy) — August 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/en/, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ingvvulcani/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


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

Nevado del Ruiz

Colombia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: El Servicio Geológico Colombiano (SGC), Diagonal 53 No. 34-53 - Bogotá D.C., Colombia (URL: https://www.sgc.gov.co/volcanes, https://twitter.com/sgcol); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Camilo Cupitre (URL: https://twitter.com/Ccupitre/status/1225207439701704709); Manuel MR (URL: https://twitter.com/ElPlanetaManuel/status/1230837262088384512); Semana Sostenible (URL: https://sostenibilidad.semana.com/actualidad/articulo/fumarola-del-nevado-del-ruiz-fue-captada-desde-tena-cundinamarca/49597); Carlos-Enrique Ruiz (URL: https://twitter.com/Aleph43/status/1271800027841794049).


Asosan (Japan) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Aira (Japan) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


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

Nevados de Chillan

Chile

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN), Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Avda Sta María No. 0104, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/, https://twitter.com/Sernageomin); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Servicio Meteorológico Nacional-Fuerza Aérea Argentina, 25 de mayo 658, Buenos Aires, Argentina (URL: http://www.smn.gov.ar/vaac/buenosaires/inicio.php); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); #EmergenciasÑuble (URL: https://twitter.com/urgenciasnuble/status/1222943399185207296); T13, Channel 13 Press Department (URL: https://twitter.com/T13/status/1222951071443771394); Chillanonlinenoticia (URL: https://twitter.com/ChillanOnline/status/1240754211932995595); Noticias Valpo Express (URL: https://twitter.com/NoticiasValpoEx/status/1252715033131388928); Sismo Alerta Mexicana (URL: https://twitter.com/Sismoalertamex/status/1269351579095691265); Volcanology Chile (URL: https://twitter.com/volcanologiachl/status/1270548008191643651).


Kerinci (Indonesia) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash emissions during January-early May 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Øystein Lund Andersen (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: http://www.oysteinlundandersen.com, images at https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse/status/1213658331564269569/photo/1 and https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse/status/1230419965209018369/photo/1).


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

Tinakula

Solomon Islands

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ibu (Indonesia) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Ibu

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Martin Rietze, Taubenstr. 1, D-82223 Eichenau, Germany (URL: https://mrietze.com/, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5LzAA_nyNWEUfpcUFOCpJw/videos, video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMkfT1e4HQQ).


Suwanosejima (Japan) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


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

Bagana

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 31, Number 12 (December 2006)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Ambae (Vanuatu)

Acidic gas emissions destroy vegetation; islet lake breached

Augustine (United States)

Low activity remains the trend during April 2006-January 2007

Erebus (Antarctica)

Large eruptions stop in June 2006

Etna (Italy)

Changing lava chemistry after 24 October 2006

Home Reef (Tonga)

Island photographs; pumice description; pumice tracking

Lateiki (Tonga)

Island present in December 2006; discolored water

Nyiragongo (DR Congo)

Activity within the crater lake due to lava bubbles and fountain

St. Helens (United States)

Continued lava-dome growth through 2006

Tongariro (New Zealand)

Elevated seismicity at Ngauruhoe during May-October 2006

Tungurahua (Ecuador)

Intense ongoing activity in 2006; new bulge on the N flank

Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand)

Relative quite prevails during 2005-6



Ambae (Vanuatu) — December 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Ambae

Vanuatu

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Acidic gas emissions destroy vegetation; islet lake breached

The Aura/OMI satellite detected elevated SO2 concentrations above Aoba volcano during July and August 2006. Comparison of MODIS imagery between 3 June and 31 August 2006 (figure 28) revealed the effects of emissions on vegetation around the crater. The conditions in the field were investigated by a scientific team from Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD). They concluded that a significant area of the summit (30 to 40 km2) was burned by acid gas emissions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Satellite moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) views of Aoba volcano summit lakes (Voui and Lakua). (a) A view taken at 1010 on 3 June 2006, before the last phase of gas emissions. (b) A view taken at 1005 on 31 August 2006 shows a large (15-20 km2) gray area around the lakes where the reflectance from vegetation has significantly decreased. Courtesy of Alain Bernard.

When IRD scientists conducted a visit to Aoba in late November 2006 vegetation surrounding the crater lake had been recently defoliated (figure 29), with trees completely burned and dead, due to plumes of acidic gas and aerosols during June-August 2006. They also concluded that heavy rainfalls since September 2006 diluted the acidity of plumes. Occasional green spots seen during the November visit were where new growths of ferns and tree ferns had become established. The acid effects were more extensive than previously seen since the early 1990s. This new behavior may reflect increased degassing from the source vent inside the ring-shaped tephra (or tuff) cone.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Aerial view of the vegetation downwind of Lake Voui at Aoba as of 25 November 2006. The scene was one of dead, completely defoliated trees. Courtesy of Michel Lardy, IRD.

On 25 November 2006 an IRD team measured an SO2 flux of 3,000 tons/day. This value coincided with the measurement provided by the ozone monitoring instrument (OMI on the EOS Aura satellite). The value represented a marked reduction in SO2 degassing compared to that measured on 10 June 2006.

The team noted that the main lake in the crater, Lake Voui, was still a red color, an effect due to oxidation of the iron in its large mass of water (BGVN 31:05). Within that larger lake resides the ring-shaped island, which largely formed during the late 2005-early 2006 eruptions (BGVN 31:01). The island's form had been that of an unbroken ring, but by the time of their 25 November visit, the preceding month's heavy rains had eroded the smaller islands wall, allowing water in the two lakes to easily mix (figure 30). The W shore of Lake Voui has also been eroded, and fumaroles were observed in the lake. The breach in the tephra ring coincided with gas emissions ceasing.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Aerial view of Lake Voui at Aoba as of 25 November 2006. The vent is now open to the lake and plume degassing stopped. Image courtesy of Michel Lardy, IRD.

The IRD team implemented the first permanent real-time temperature monitoring during their visit. Due to the heavy rainfall since June 2006 and the lowered levels of evaporation associated with the lowered average lake temperature (~ 25°C on 25 November 2006), the lake level remained high. In addition, the average level of Lake Voui is higher due to volcanic material (ash, scoria) deposited between December 2005 and January 2006, and it should continue to fluctuate seasonally, as in the past.

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: Michel Lardy, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), BP A 5 98 848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia (URL: http://nouvelle-caledonie.ird.fr/); Department Geology Mines and Water Resources (DGMWR), Geohazard Section, PMB 01 Port-Vila, Republic of Vanuatu; Alain Bernard, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium (URL: http://www.ulb.ac.be/sciences/cvl/aoba/Ambae1.html).


Augustine (United States) — December 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Augustine

United States

59.363°N, 153.43°W; summit elev. 1252 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Low activity remains the trend during April 2006-January 2007

During the latter half of 2006 and through January 2007, Augustine experienced low-level activity, in stark contrast to the energetic eruptions of January and February 2006 (BGVN 31:04). Five ocean-bottom seismometers were deployed on 8 February 2006 around Augustine Island in Cook Inlet to assist the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) in monitoring activity on the island. Figure 31 shows new deposits as of April 2006. This report covers the declining volcanism from April 2006 through January 2007.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. New deposits from the current Augustine eruption, as of mid-April 2006. This map was created using aerial observations, photos, satellite images, and limited field work. Courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory.

Activity during mid-2006. The frequency of rock falls, avalanche events, and hot block-and-ash flows consistently decreased during April to August 2006. One exception was a minor spike consisting of 17-18 April avalanche signals that were larger relative to those seen in previous weeks. Based on aerial observations on 19 April, an active rock fall and avalanche chute developed near the margin of the new lava flow/dome complex in the NW summit area. Associated rockfalls contributed to an ash blanket visible on the SW flank.

Steaming was consistently seen during periods of visibility (figure 32). Visible growth of the lava dome continued, and the new dome and lava flows remained highly unstable through June 2006. Web camera views showed a low-level steam plume during the first two weeks of June 2006. According to the Anchorage VAAC, on 27 July 2006 around midnight, a pilot reported an ash emission that reached ~ 1.5 km altitude and drifted SSE. There was no seismic evidence for the event.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Photograph taken on the afternoon of 12 July 2006 from the E, showing the upper NE flank of Augustine volcano and the new lava dome. Courtesy of AVO and Game McGimsey.

On 28 April, AVO lowered the Concern Code level from orange to yellow where it remained until August. Satellite images indicated declining thermal output consistent with the decrease in activity during April 2006. Airborne sulfur dioxide gas measurements showed continued high levels of magmatic gas emission that could be associated with degassing of lava at the summit in April 2006. Weak thermal anomalies persisted in satellite data through August 2006, and seismic levels decreased to background by this time. On 9 August 2006, it lowered the level of Concern Color Code from yellow to green (the lowest level).

Activity during late 2006-early 2007. Since 9 August 2006, seismicity remained at or near background and AVO did not detect ash plumes or significant temperature fluctuations.

Brief seismic activity occurred during 11 September-4 October 2006. During that time period, the number of earthquakes rose from zero to seven, followed by a plunge of activity that persisted through January 2007. AVO web camera views showed typically light steaming from the summit from September 2006 to January 2007.

Geologic Background. Augustine volcano, rising above Kamishak Bay in the southern Cook Inlet about 290 km SW of Anchorage, is the most active volcano of the eastern Aleutian arc. It consists of a complex of overlapping summit lava domes surrounded by an apron of volcaniclastic debris that descends to the sea on all sides. Few lava flows are exposed; the flanks consist mainly of debris-avalanche and pyroclastic-flow deposits formed by repeated collapse and regrowth of the summit. The latest episode of edifice collapse occurred during Augustine's largest historical eruption in 1883; subsequent dome growth has restored the volcano to a height comparable to that prior to 1883. The oldest dated volcanic rocks on Augustine are more than 40,000 years old. At least 11 large debris avalanches have reached the sea during the past 1,800-2,000 years, and five major pumiceous tephras have been erupted during this interval. Historical eruptions have typically consisted of explosive activity with emplacement of pumiceous pyroclastic-flow deposits followed by lava dome extrusion with associated block-and-ash flows.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of the U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667, USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/), Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA.


Erebus (Antarctica) — December 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Erebus

Antarctica

77.53°S, 167.17°E; summit elev. 3794 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Large eruptions stop in June 2006

The Mt. Erebus Volcano Observatory (MEVO) website contains a graph showing activity measured at the volcano since 1992 (figure 10). The most substantial peaks in the number of eruptions recorded appeared in 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, and a broad peak beginning in late 2005 that continued into late 2006. It is important to note that the graph reports events of all sizes, including periods of extremely frequent and small (

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Collective vent and lava lake eruptions per month from January 1992 to September 2006 at Erebus (plotted on a vertical log scale). Note that significant incompleteness may exist due to variable reporting criteria and/or instrumentation outages. Quantitative assessment of eruption sizes using infrasonic recordings started in 2006. Courtesy of MEVO web site ("Current Erebus Activity Plot").

The older records are based on interpretation of short-period seismographs, and many of the events could have been icequakes (seismic events related to the stick and slip nature of glacial ice movement) and not eruptions. In recent years the use of a video camera, infrasound, and broadband seismic records have allowed better recognition of eruptions. Because of extreme weather, the seismic network is subject to power loss during the darkness of winter.

The MEVO activity log gives information on each eruption measured and shows daily activity that usually includes several eruptions. Erebus eruption sizes are based on the infrasonic overpressure at Station E1S.IS1, measured in pascals (Pa) (see references articles on infrasound measurements). This eruption index scale is divided into small (0-19), medium (20-39), large (40-59), and very large (>=60) events. Although the total number of eruptions remained high during most months of 2006, large or very large events were rarely recorded after 1 June (table 1). The largest event had an index of 116.6 on 26 February.

Table 1. Large and very large eruptions recorded at Erebus, January-November 2006. Data courtesy of MEVO.

Month Large Eruptions Very Large Eruptions
Jan 2006 22 0
Feb 2006 18 5
Mar 2006 13 7
Apr 2006 11 9
May 2006 12 3
Jun 2006 1 0
Jul 2006 0 0
Aug 2006 0 1
Sep 2006 1 0
Oct 2006 1 0
Nov 2006 0 0

General References. Wilson, C.R., J.V. Olson, D.L. Oborne, and A. Le Pichon, 2003 (December), Infrasound from Erebus Volcano at 155US in Antarctica, Inframatics-The Newsletter of Subaudible Sound, no. 04, p.1-8.

Johnson, J.B., and Aster, R.C., 2005, Relative partitioning of acoustic and seismic energy during Strombolian eruptions: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 148, p. 334-354.

Johnson, J.B., Aster, R.C., and Kyle, P.R., 2004, Volcanic eruptions observed with infrasound: Geophysics Research Letters, v. 31, no. L14604, 4 p.

Johnson, J.B., Aster, R.C., Ruiz, M.C., Malone, S.D., McChesney, P.J., Lee, J.M., and Kyle, P.R., 2003, Interpretation and utility of infrasonic records from erupting volcanoes: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 121, p. 15-63.

Geologic Background. Mount Erebus, the world's southernmost historically active volcano, overlooks the McMurdo research station on Ross Island. It is the largest of three major volcanoes forming the crudely triangular Ross Island. The summit of the dominantly phonolitic volcano has been modified by one or two generations of caldera formation. A summit plateau at about 3,200 m elevation marks the rim of the youngest caldera, which formed during the late-Pleistocene and within which the modern cone was constructed. An elliptical 500 x 600 m wide, 110-m-deep crater truncates the summit and contains an active lava lake within a 250-m-wide, 100-m-deep inner crater; other lava lakes are sometimes present. The glacier-covered volcano was erupting when first sighted by Captain James Ross in 1841. Continuous lava-lake activity with minor explosions, punctuated by occasional larger Strombolian explosions that eject bombs onto the crater rim, has been documented since 1972, but has probably been occurring for much of the volcano's recent history.

Information Contacts: Philip R. Kyle and Kyle Jones, Mt. Erebus Volcano Observatory, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM 87801, USA (URL: https://nmtearth.com/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) MODIS Thermal Alerts, 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/).


Etna (Italy) — December 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3320 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Changing lava chemistry after 24 October 2006

Roberto Clocchiatti and colleagues have provided information on the chemical composition of Etna lavas discharged during the recent eruptive period. Results of 18 major-element analyses on lavas erupted beginning 24 October 2006 are presented below.

The violent 2001 and 2002-2003 flank eruptions were fed by both trachybasaltic ("hawaiite") and basaltic magmas from various erupting vents (e.g. Clocchiatti and others, 2004). Conversely, the summit activity resuming from September 2004 to March 2005 produced only trachybasalt, which came from the upper levels of the magmatic system (Corsaro and Miraglia, 2005). After 16 months of calm characterized by mild gas venting, new lava emission began on 14 July 2006 at the summit SE Crater (SEC), lasting 10 days (BGVN 31:07). Since 31 August the SEC area exhibited a number of Strombolian episodes and lava flows, either from the SEC cone itself or from fissure vents which opened eastward at 2,800 m elevation (13 October), then southward at 3,000 m (23, 25 October), and finally westward at 3,050 m (26 October) and 3,180 m (8 November, internal reports from the INGV-Catania and the Omega-Acireale observatory) (figure 115).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 115. Location and elevation of various fissure vents that appeared in the area of Etna's SE Crater during October and November 2006. Samples were collected from the SEC flow on 14-23 July and 1 September, the 2,800-m flow on 24 October, 3,180-m flow on 8 November, and the 3,050-m flow on 9 November 2006. Courtesy of Roberto Clocchiatti and colleagues.

Whole-rock analyses from 24 October onward show a significant increase of the MgO content and of the CaO/Al2O3 ratio (figure 116). The higher MgO and CaO, as compared to lower Al2O3 and alkalis, indicate a larger content of olivine and Ca-rich clinopyroxene at the expense of less plagioclase, so that the last analyzed lava is very close to a basalt composition (5.7% MgO, 10.7% CaO, 11.6% total Fe as Fe2O3, and 5.8% Na2O + K2O).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 116. Plots showing increases through time of the MgO content and the ratio of CaO to Al2O3 at Etna beginning on 24 October 2006. Courtesy of Roberto Clocchiatti and colleagues.

References. Clocchiatti, R., Condomines, M., Guénot, N., and Tanguy, J.C., 2004, Magma changes at Mount Etna: the 2001 and 2002-2003 eruptions: Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 226, p. 397-414.

Corsaro, R.A., and Miraglia, L., 2005, Dynamics of the 2004-2005 Mt. Etna effusive eruption as inferred from petrologic monitoring: Geophys. Res. Lett. vol. 32, L13302.

Geologic Background. Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily's second largest city, has one of the world's longest documented records of historical volcanism, dating back to 1500 BCE. Historical lava flows of basaltic composition cover much of the surface of this massive volcano, whose edifice is the highest and most voluminous in Italy. The Mongibello stratovolcano, truncated by several small calderas, was constructed during the late Pleistocene and Holocene over an older shield volcano. The most prominent morphological feature of Etna is the Valle del Bove, a 5 x 10 km horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the east. Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur, sometimes simultaneously. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more summit craters. Flank vents, typically with higher effusion rates, are less frequently active and originate from fissures that open progressively downward from near the summit (usually accompanied by Strombolian eruptions at the upper end). Cinder cones are commonly constructed over the vents of lower-flank lava flows. Lava flows extend to the foot of the volcano on all sides and have reached the sea over a broad area on the SE flank.

Information Contacts: Roberto Clocchiatti, CEN Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France; Gilles Chazot, Observatoire de Physique du Globe Clermont, 63038 Clermont Ferrand, France; Jean-Claude Tanguy, IPGP, Observatoire de St. Maur, 94107 St. Maur des Fossés, France; Giovanni Tringali, Osservatorio Meteorologico, Geodinamico e Ambientale (Omega), 95024 Acireale, Italy.


Home Reef (Tonga) — December 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Home Reef

Tonga

18.992°S, 174.775°W; summit elev. -10 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Island photographs; pumice description; pumice tracking

The island built by the eruption from Home Reef in early August (BGVN 31:09 and 31:10, table 1) was directly observed on 14 November and 7 December. No additional information about the eruption site has been received after 7 December.

Table 1. Summary of activity at Home Reef, August-December 2006. Only near-source observations are included, not dispersed pumice sightings. Revised area calculations were made using a Google Earth tool. Data supplemented, especially with additional satellite observations, from a table originally prepared by Paul Taylor.

Date Activity / Phenomena
05 Aug 2006 MODIS satellite image shows no activity.
08 Aug 2006 At 1020 local time (2120 UTC on 7 Aug) MODIS image shows eruption plume surrounded by roughly 8-km-diameter circular pumice raft (55 km2). The diffuse eruption plume was seen in imagery extending 80 km SSW and 70 km SSE. MODIS image at 1445 (0145 UTC) showed larger pumice raft still attached to vent, and diffuse plume visible to 300 km S. SO2 first detected by OMI on Aura satellite. Late in the afternoon a continuous rumbling like thunder was heard from Vava'u; red glow was seen on the horizon that evening.
09 Aug 2006 Continuous rumbling like thunder to the S of Vava'u, large mushroom-shaped eruption plume was being ejected above the vent in the morning. MODIS imagery at 1103 local time (2203 UTC on 8 Aug) showed that the pumice raft was still attached to vent, but had drifted to the W and was approximately 150 km2. White eruption plume quickly lost in cloud cover. SO2 mass (determined by OMI) detected E of Tonga was ~ 25 kilotons.
10 Aug 2006 Continuous rumbling like thunder to the S of Vava'u. MODIS imagery at 1432 (0132 UTC) shows that a large pumice raft has moved N of Late Island (20 km NE). Some pumice remains around vent site, but is hidden by eruptive plume. Submarine plume of discolored water extends to Late Island. Diffuse plumes extend at least 100 km SE and 330 km NW.
11 Aug 2006 Continuous rumbling like thunder to the S of Vava'u, large eruption plume above the vent. MODIS imagery at 1052 (2152 UTC on 10 Aug) showed a thin white eruption plume directed 25 km SW before being lost in cloud cover. No significant pumice raft seen near the vent, but there was an extensive area (150 km2) of discolored water surrounding the site.
12 Aug 2006 Eruption column moving NW reported by crew of the yacht Maiken. Surtseyan explosive jets being emitted, producing projectiles that fell to the sea around the vent area. Multiple peaks had formed around a central crater that was open to the sea on one side. The island was about 1.5 km in diameter. OMI detection of SO2 shows 3.3 kilotons in the area.
14 Aug 2006 MODIS image at 1405 (0105 UTC) shows small E-directed white plume, probable island, and large area of strongly discolored water (30 km2) E of the island. Sinuous submarine plume of discolored water extends 60 km NW.
16 Aug 2006 Island was completely covered by clouds in a MODIS image at 1110 (2210 UTC on 15 Aug), but a plume of discolored water stretched more than 50 km N to some pumice rafts.
17 Aug 2006 MODIS imagery at 1435 (0135 UTC) revealed meteorological clouds streaming from Late Island and Home Reef. Discolored water throughout the area N towards Late, and extending 80 km N to large pumice rafts. No significant pumice rafts seen near the island.
19 Aug 2006 No eruption plume seen from island in MODIS imagery at 1425 (0125 UTC). Weakly discolored water patches extending NNW.
22 Aug 2006 Small whitish cloud attached to island seen in MODIS image at 1030 (2130 UTC on 21 Aug) may be meteorological (similar clouds attached to Late). Strongly discolored water in narrow submarine plume very coherent to 8 km NE before diffusing and moving NW.
23 Aug 2006 MODIS imagery at 1115 (2215 UTC on 22 Aug) very cloud-covered, but large zone of discolored water located N of the island.
27 Aug 2006 Island present on MODIS image at 1050 (2150 UTC on 26 Aug) with a coherent submarine plume being dispersed to the N.
mid-Sep 2006 Island reported present at the site of Home Reef by Tongan fishing vessel.
20 Sep 2006 "Strong sulfur odor" noted by a yacht passing W of the volcano.
04 Oct 2006 Several submarine plumes observed on ASTER images. The island present was oval in shape, with the long axis orientated NE-SW. The island measured about 800 x 400 m and covered an area of 0.23-0.26 km2. Several small lakes were present within the island.
12 Nov 2006 No activity observed on ASTER images. Island was still present but with no crater lakes. The island was triangular in shape and covered an area of 0.146 km2.
14 Nov 2006 Island observed by Defence Force patrol boat was ~40 m high, square in shape, 300 m on a side. The island looked quite consolidated. Plume of smoke/steam, but no eruptive activity.
07 Dec 2006 Overflight by a RNZAF Orion revealed a roughly circular island, 450 m in diameter, at 18°59.4'S 174°45.4'W. The crew estimated the height as "up to 240 ft" (75 m). Minor fumarolic activity was occurring in the crater and there was a noticeable smell of sulfur. Sediment/hydrothermal plumes were present in the surrounding waters.

Paul Taylor reported that the Home Reef island was observed on 14 November by a Tongan Defence Force patrol boat. The island was reported to be ~ 40 m high, roughly 300 x 300 m at that time, and looked quite consolidated with pumice on the outside, while the center looked "more substantial." Although not in eruption, a considerable plume of smoke/steam was being emitted.

The island was photographed on 7 December 2006 (figure 18) by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) at the request of volcanologists from the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (IGNS). Satellite imagery on 4 October showed an island about 0.24 km2, which decreased by about one-third to 0.15 km2 by 12 November. The RNZAF Orion crew reported that the roughly circular island was 450 m in diameter (0.16 km2), with a maximum height of 75 m (figure 19). The position was reported as 18°59.4'S, 174°45.4'W (18.99°S, 174.757°W). Minor fumarolic activity was occurring in the crater and there was a noticeable smell of sulfur. Plumes of discolored water were present in the surrounding area. The higher-angle views of the island showed an area that had eroded to just below the ocean surface, possibly reflecting the previous extent of the island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Low-angle aerial photographs of Home Reef, 7 December 2006. The top view is looking NNE towards Late Island in the background. The bottom view is looking S. Courtesy of the RNZAF and IGNS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. High-angle aerial photographs of Home Reef, 7 December 2006. The top view is looking approximately W, showing that the northern end of the island has eroded to just below sea level. Submarine plumes of sediment are also obvious. The bottom view is looking approximately SE, showing a close-up of the eroding remnant of the island. Courtesy of the RNZAF and IGNS.

Floating pumice observations. Pumice from the Home Reef eruption was identified in Terra and Aqua MODIS satellite images as well as being reported by sailors and Fijians (BGVN 31:09 and 31:10). A compilation of all of these sources (figure 20) seemed to indicate that two major tracks were taken by most of the pumice. Initially, all of the pumice went N, then WNW across the ocean towards Fiji. Approximately midway to Fiji, some of the pumice turned on a more westerly course then moved south before impacting Vatoa and passing the southern Lau Islands enroute to Kadavu and Vanua Levu. Another batch of pumice continued on a WNW course, penetrating the northern Lau Islands to Taveuni, the Koro Sea, and Viti Levu. Both groups of pumice eventually passed W of Fiji, with some getting to Vanuatu in November. Most of the pumice appears to have been generated during 8-10 August, but there may have been smaller pumice-creating eruptions that were not documented.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Map showing approximate paths taken by pumice generated by the Home Reef eruption in August 2006. Paths between Tonga and Fiji during 8-26 August (shaded areas) are based on MODIS satellite imagery (see text for further explanation). Paths through Fiji are more speculative, being based on point observations by sailors and reports of pumice washing into bays and on beaches. Base map from Google Earth. Prepared by GVP.

Satellite imagery revealed not only the paths taken by pumice rafts, but also their changing morphology. Although cloud-cover was a problem, the MODIS images did show enough pumice zones to allow their areas to be sketched (figure 21). Note that all dates and times in this section are UTC. During the early stages of the eruption pumice built up and remained in the immediate vicinity of the vent (2120 on 7 August through 2203 on 8 August UTC) (figure 21A). Though clouds prevented a view of the entire raft, at it's greatest extent pumice covered about 140 km2 while still attached to the vent.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Sketches of pumice areas on various dates in August 2006 from the eruption at Home Reef. Areas depicted may not be filled with pumice, but have observable pumice scattered within them. Sketch maps show pumice areas (in UTC) on 7-8 August (A, SW section), 10-12 August (A, NE section), 14-17 August (B), 19-22 August (C), and 26 August (D). See text for additional information. The areas were determined by overlaying geographically registered MODIS satellite imagery into Google Earth and using a polygon creation tool to manually determine the pumice extents. Base map from Google Earth. Prepared by GVP.

By 0132 on 10 August the main mass of pumice had moved to the N side of Late island (figure 21A). The raft generally remained as a single large coherent feature in that area for at least 20 hours. Over those 20 hours the raft spread from covering about 300 km2 to almost 400 km2 in a contiguous irregular area, more than double the area of Washington D.C. When it began moving NE towards another unnamed submarine volcano, by 0120 on 12 August UTC, the main mass was reduced in size by about 50% and left a "tail" looping towards Vava'u with smaller stray pumice rafts throughout the area.

Between 0105 on 14 August and 0135 on 17 August (UTC) the pumice began moving NE and ENE (figure 21B). Pieces of the large raft began to shear off, with currents carrying smaller rafts away and often leaving a trail of connected pumice fragments in the wake. However, a contiguous mass of almost 150 km2 remained 60 km N of Late Island. Over the next couple of days all of the pumice drifted N and continued to string out ENE across the ocean towards northern Fiji (figure 21C). By 2215 on 22 August (UTC) there was still pumice 25 km W of Fonualei volcano, but the farthest identifiable rafts of pumice were 270 km E and ENE of Fonualei. The pumice appeared to form a continuous, connected stream for most of that distance. In other locations the strand of pumice fragments had broken and individual segments had turned, creating multiple parallel lines of pumice spread across the water.

By 2150 on 26 August there were three distinct areas of pumice still visible (figure 21D), though they were all greatly diminished in area and starting to be difficult to distinguish through intermittent cloud cover. One area was still a connected, or semi-connected, strand about 250 km long directed to the NE. Another area of pumice about 60 km N-S was within 100 km of the central Lau Islands. The second pumice zone was encountered on 28 August by the Yacht KB1LSY as it approached the islands. Pumice from one or both of these sources had penetrated into the northern Lau Islands and the Koro Sea by 14 September, landing on Taveuni, Naitauba, and Vanua Levu. Pumice was then reported around Koro Island and in the "Bligh Triangle" area between Vanua Levu and Viti Levu starting on 20 September. At least some of this pumice drifted through the passage to Yasawa Island, N of Viti Levu, by early November.

The third distinct set of pumice rafts seen in imagery on 26 August extended across an 80-km distance directed SE-NW and was drifting towards the southern Lau Islands. This batch of pumice was encountered on 30 August by the Soren Larsen just W of the central Lau Islands, and is most likely the same pumice that was reported by the Endeavor extending 90 km NE from Vatoa Island on 16 September. On 30 September large volumes of pumice were landing on Kadavu Island, another 350 km from Vatoa. That same day pumice was seen an additional 200 km NW, on the western side of Viti Levu.

Although pumice was seen on Efate Island in Vanuatu during early October, it was thought to be from the Ambrym-Lopevi area. Pumice from Home Reef was seen on the W coast of Efate Island on 4 November. Floating pumice was also seen in Shark Bay on the E side of Tanna Island around mid-November (figure 22).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Pumice from Home Reef floating in Shark Bay on Tanna Island, Vanuatu, on 19 December 2006. Residents told the photographer that the pumice had appeared about a month earlier. Courtesy of George Kourounis.

Pumice description. Scott Bryan received some pumice samples from Roman Leslie via Peter Colls at the University of Queensland, who made some thin sections of the pumices. Initial observations are that the Home Reef pumice sampled are very similar to the 2001 pumice from the unnamed volcano along a submarine plateau south of Fonualei (volcano number 0403-091), about 85 km NE of Home Reef. The pumice is similar in terms of color (darkish gray-green), vesicularity (highly vesicular), and phenocryst content (low, mostly fine-grained). The pumice has the same mineralogy as the 2001 pumice: plagioclase, two pyroxenes (cpx dominant, and probably relatively Fe-rich), and Ti-magnetite. However, the Home Reef pumice has slightly higher abundances of plagioclase microphenocrysts (~ 0.1-1 mm). Small polymineralic clots of plagioclase, pyroxene, and magnetite are distinctive, and most readily visible to the naked eye in the pumice samples; similar polymineralic aggregates were also present in the 2001 pumice. The pumice observed in thin-section have high vesicularities (> 60%). The pumice would have similar bulk compositions to the 2001 pumice of ~ 65-70 wt% SiO2.

Eruptive history. The August 2006 eruption is the third confirmed eruptive episode in historical time, with earlier eruptions in 1852 and 1984 (SEAN 09:02). In addition, there may have been activity in 1857, but no eruption was confirmed. Paul Taylor noted that there may have also been another eruption that was occurring when some aerial photos were taken in 1990. No eruption was reported, so any activity probably didn't reach the surface or was not observed. The photos seemed to show a small submarine plume being dispersed to the NW.

Geologic Background. Home Reef, a submarine volcano midway between Metis Shoal and Late Island in the central Tonga islands, was first reported active in the mid-19th century, when an ephemeral island formed. An eruption in 1984 produced a 12-km-high eruption plume, copious amounts of floating pumice, and an ephemeral island 500 x 1500 m wide, with cliffs 30-50 m high that enclosed a water-filled crater. Another island-forming eruption in 2006 produced widespread dacitic pumice rafts that reached as far as Australia.

Information Contacts: Paul W. Taylor, Australian Volcanological Investigations, PO Box 291, Pymble, NSW 2073, Australia; Brad Scott, Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (IGNS), Wairakei Research Centre, PO Box 2000, Taupo, New Zealand (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz/, http://www.gns.cri.nz/); Scott Bryan, School of Earth Sciences & Geography, Kingston University, Penrhyn Rd, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE United Kingdom; Norman Kuring, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 970.2, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA; George Kourounis, Toronto, ON, Canada (URL: http://www.stormchaser.ca/).


Lateiki (Tonga) — December 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Lateiki

Tonga

19.18°S, 174.87°W; summit elev. 43 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Island present in December 2006; discolored water

On 7 December 2006 the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) flew over the Home Reef and Metis Shoal area of Tonga at the request of volcanologists from the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (IGNS). At that time an island was present (figure 4), but it is not known if this is a remnant of the island built in 1995 (BGVN 20:06) or the result of later undocumented eruptions. Areas of discolored water were present adjacent to the island, the result of either erosion or fumarolic activity. Discolored water extending about 5 km SW from the location of the island was also observed in an Aqua MODIS satellite image taken on 15 September 2005 (figure 5).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Photograph of Metis Shoal, 7 December 2006. Courtesy of the RNZAF and IGNS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Satellite image (Aqua MODIS) from 15 September 2005 showing discolored water extending about 5 km SW from Metis Shoal. Image has been color-adjusted to enhance water discoloration. Base image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

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

Information Contacts: Brad Scott, Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (IGNS), Wairakei Research Centre, PO Box 2000, Taupo, New Zealand (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz/, http://www.gns.cri.nz/); NASA Earth Observatory (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/).


Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — December 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Activity within the crater lake due to lava bubbles and fountain

Due to political turmoil and civil unrest, expeditions to Nyiragongo's summit lava lake are rare. Two expeditions to the summit were successful in January and July 2006. Photos of the lava lake provided by expedition leader Marco Fulle and crew are posted on the Stromboli Online website. These photos document the changes in the lake over a six-month period. Thermal anomalies measured with the MODIS satellite and associated with this volcano were nearly continuous at this time due to the lava lake within the summit crater.

Two terraces created from a 1977 (upper) lake and a 2002 (lower) lake are evident in photos from January 2006. Closer views of the lava lake showed bubbles breaking through the very dynamic lake surface. Bubbles continuously bursted through the lake's surface. Near the SW shore line, white sulfur deposits and fumaroles were observed. Lava from fountains at the N shoreline splashed on the E lake shore. By July 2006, the lava lake was smaller and seemingly more crusted over. A large fountain was continuously active on the lake's N shore, generating waves up to 10 m high (figure 35).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Photo of the Nyiragongo lava lake showing a chimney-like fountain agitating the surface and generating waves on the shore at left, 23 July 2006. Courtesy of Stromboli Online.

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

Information Contacts: Marco Fulle, Stromboli Online and Department of Astronomy, Triste University, Trieste, Italy (URL: http://www.swisseduc.ch/stromboli/perm/nyiragongo/lake-en.html).


St. Helens (United States) — December 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)


Continued lava-dome growth through 2006

The current and ongoing eruption of the St. Helens started on 11 October 2004. Extrusion of the growing dacitic lava dome has continued in the same quiescent but sustained mode exhibited throughout the first half of 2006 (BGVN 31:07) . Levels of seismicity have remained generally low, with low emissions of steam and volcanic gases and minor production of ash.

From 26 July through 3 October 2006, the lava dome continued to grow and produce small rockfalls accompanied by minor earthquakes. M 3-3.6 earthquakes occurred on 26, 28, and 31 July. Resulting dust plumes rose well above the crater rim. A steam plume was observed rising from the growing lava dome on 13 August. During 16-22 August, based on interpretations of seismic data, spine extrusion from the dome continued in conjunction with small earthquakes and rockfalls. By mid-August 2006 the dome's volume was about 85 million cubic meters growing at an average rate of less than 1 m3/s. The lava dome's height above the 1986-crater floor started at 396 m. On 9 and 10 September, five shallow earthquakes greater than M 2 occurred in association with the growing dome. A period of relatively low seismic activity followed.

From 20 September through 3 October, lava extruded slowly from the vent onto the S crater floor; there was only low seismicity that generated occasional rockfalls as talus sloughed off the flanks of the growing dome. The rate of dome deformation was low. There was no change in rock chemistry, suggesting little to no change in eruptive style. The lack of explosive activity coupled with continuing low number of earthquakes and small quantities of volcanic gas indicate that the risks posed by the hazards are currently relatively low.

During October, lava continued to extrude onto the S crater floor of St. Helens and observations and data from deformation-monitoring instruments showed the dome continued to grow. Low seismicity and slight tilting of the crater floor produced small rockfalls. A small steam plume was visible on 9 October. On 22 October, an M 3.5 earthquake triggered the collapse of material from the largest of the lava-dome spines. The resulting ash plume rose to about 3.2 km and quickly dissipated to the W. On 29 October, a M 3.2 earthquake was accompanied by a rockfall that produced a small plume. The plume filled the crater to just above the rim and quickly dissipated.

Throughout November and December, data from deformation-monitoring instruments showed that during 1-7 November, the lava dome continued to grow. Inclement weather prohibited visual observation during most of the reporting period. On 5 and 6 November, acoustic flow monitors recorded rain-induced debris flows within the crater and in the upper part of the North and South Fork Toutle River valleys. Seismicity continued at low levels, punctuated by M 1.5-2.5, and occasionally larger, earthquakes. On 21 November, views from an aircraft and a crater camera showed that an active spine continued to extrude. On 18 December, a steam plume rose several hundred meters above the rim and was visible from the Portland area, about 80 km away.

Scientists working on the "old part" of the new lava dome found evidence to suggest that the lava dome was essentially solidified within several hundred meters beneath the crater floor. The outer 2-3 m of the lava dome was composed of ground rock that transitions to solid rock with numerous fractures. These findings support the stick-slip model of lava dome extrusion. If the model is correct, it may help explain the origin of many of the million plus small, shallow earthquakes as the result of numerous sub-surface slips that created the ground and fractured rock. Scientists have also noted that for short periods (hours to perhaps a day) part of the growing lava dome appears to stick (no movement detected in photographs) and then restarts again after high-M 2 to low-M 3 earthquakes.

Alert Level terminology. On October 1, the alert-level system for all volcanoes monitored by the USGS was changed to a descriptive system (table 9). In the new system, "Normal" indicates background conditions are stable; this is equivalent to aviation color-code Green. The previous alert levels of Volcanic Unrest (Alert Level 1), Volcano Advisory (Alert Level 2) and Volcano Alert (Alert Level 3) have changed to "Advisory," "Watch," and "Warning," respectively. There is a minor additional change for the aviation color-code definitions in that there is no longer an ash-plume threshold given for either Orange or Red. The ash-plume height threshold of 25,000 ft. or less for aviation warning condition "Orange" is no longer mandatory; condition "Red" was for ash above 25,000 ft. Now the height threshold can be adjusted for each case.

Table 9. Revised nomenclature and descriptions of volcano Alert Levels for all volcanos in the Cascade range. Courtesy USGS-CVO.

Old Numerical Level New Descriptor Aviation Color Code
Background conditions are stable Green
1 "Unrest" "Advisory" Yellow
2 "Advisory" "Watch" Orange
3 "Alert" "Warning" Red

Throughout the period covered by this report, the hazard status for St. Helens remained at Volcano Advisory Alert Level (2) "Watch;" aviation color code Orange. The alert-level "Watch" is used for two different situations: (1) heightened or escalating unrest indicating a higher potential that an eruption is likely, but still not certain; or (2) an eruption that poses only limited hazard. Descriptor definition "Watch" fits the current lava-dome eruption at St. Helens.

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/).


Tongariro (New Zealand) — December 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Tongariro

New Zealand

39.157°S, 175.632°E; summit elev. 1978 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Elevated seismicity at Ngauruhoe during May-October 2006

Ngauruhoe is the youngest and highest volcanic cone (figure 1) of the Tongariro volcanic complex on the North Island of New Zealand. According to New Zealand GeoNet Project volcanologists, the number of small (less than magnitude 2), low-frequency earthquakes near Ngauruhoe recorded by seismometers increased from less than five per day at the beginning of May 2006 to more than 20/day by the end of May. Typically, only a few earthquakes of any type are recorded in the vicinity of Ngauruhoe each year. In 1983, 1991, and 1994 there were clusters of similar earthquakes recorded near Ngauruhoe, but there have been very few recorded since then. Due to the increased seismicity, the Scientific Alert Level was raised to Alert Level 1 (some signs of unrest) on 6 June. Earthquakes of this type are commonly interpreted as being related to the movement of magma and/or volcanic gases.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Snow covered Mt. Ngauruhoe as seen on 28 July 2006. Photo credit to University of Auckland Snowsports Club.

Earthquakes peaked in early June at about 50/day and then declined to about 10-20/day by the 14th, with the largest about magnitude 1. Seismic activity has remained elevated through the middle of December 2006. Initial observations suggested that hypocenters were 1-4 km deep, slightly N or E of the summit. By mid-June volcanologists had installed three additional seismographs around the base of Ngauruhoe, including one that could be monitored in real-time. Between 14 June and 3 July the number of volcanic earthquakes recorded near Ngauruhoe has varied between approximately 20 and 40 per day. Using data from the additional seismographs, volcanologists were able to refine the location of the earthquakes to within about 1 km of the surface beneath the N flank; the largest events were approximately magnitude 1. Elevated seismicity continued at up to 30 events/day through October 2006.

As of the last GeoNet report on 1 November, no other signs of unrest had been recorded. Multiple measurements showed that temperatures and volcanic gas concentrations have not changed since the increased seismicity began in May, and were similar to measurements made in 2003. Carbon-dioxide release through the soil (from degassing magma) is also similar to measurements in 2003. The maximum fumarole temperature near the summit is about 85°C. Reports of steaming in the summit area were investigated, but because no new features were seen that could have caused emissions, the sightings were attributed to clouds rather than volcanic activity.

Geologic Background. Tongariro is a large volcanic massif, located immediately NE of Ruapehu volcano, that is composed of more than a dozen composite cones constructed over a period of 275,000 years. Vents along a NE-trending zone extending from Saddle Cone (below Ruapehu) to Te Maari crater (including vents at the present-day location of Ngauruhoe) were active during several hundred years around 10,000 years ago, producing the largest known eruptions at the Tongariro complex during the Holocene. North Crater stratovolcano is truncated by a broad, shallow crater filled by a solidified lava lake that is cut on the NW side by a small explosion crater. The youngest cone, Ngauruhoe, is also the highest peak.

Information Contacts: New Zealand GeoNet Project, a project sponsored by the New Zealand Government through these agencies: Earthquake Commission (E.C.), Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS), and Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FAST) (URL: https://www.geonet.org.nz/); University of Auckland Snowsports Club, University of Auckland, New Zealand (URL: http://www.uasc.co.nz/).


Tungurahua (Ecuador) — December 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Tungurahua

Ecuador

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intense ongoing activity in 2006; new bulge on the N flank

According to the Instituto Geofísico-Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG), Tungurahua, located 180 km S of the capital Quito, erupted on 14 July 2006 (BGVN 31:07), and again with great intensity in mid-August, resulting in at least five deaths. The 14 July event marked the beginning of a new energetic phase of activity different from that seen since October 1999. This report was taken from the IG's Special Reports and Bulletins (Numbers 7-15) discussing events from mid-July 2006 through early January 2007.

The new phase that began in July 2006 was characterized by highly explosive activity. It was associated with the arrival of a large volume of magma and the expulsion of hot, sometimes incandescent, pyroclastic flows. These flows traveled downslope with speeds of ~ 40 km/hour from the W, NW, and N flanks of the cone and ended at the Chambo river. The primary route of the flows was via the Achupashal, Cusua, La Hacienda, Juive Grande, Mandur, and Vascún gorges (see maps and figures in BGVN 31:07). Some of these flows were sufficiently large and mobile as to reach the Baños-Penipe road. The settlements of Cusúa, Bilbao, and to a lesser extent Juive Grande, were affected by these flows, which devastated pastures, fields, livestock, and basic infrastructure.

Additionally, small-volume pyroclastic flows descended the Vascún valley (upslope from the western part of Baños) but ended 2.5 km upstream from the hot springs of El Salado. The emission of hot incandescent pyroclastic flows ended one week after the explosive eruptions of 14-15 July.

Volcanic activity decreased significantly several weeks after 14 July, as shown by the seismic-based indicator developed for Tungurahua by the IG (figure 36). The daily indicator value decreased after mid-July and remained consistent until a slight increase during 8-13 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Index of daily seismic values (top) and index expressed in percentages (bottom) for Tungurahua from 1 January 2006 to 2 January 2007. Arrows mark the dates of the eruptions mentioned in this report. Courtesy of IG.

On 1 August, a pyroclastic flow traveled W and SW down the flanks and reached the Rea gorge, where it left deposits an estimated 50 m thick consisting largely of blocks and ash. On 2 August, a small lahar traveled NW and blocked a highway. Strombolian activity was observed at night on 3 August. Small explosions were registered during 3-7 August. On 6 August, light ashfall was reported ~ 8 km SW in the town of Manzano.

During 9-15 August, small-to-moderate explosions produced plumes composed of gas, steam, and small amounts of ash that reached heights of ~ 1 km above the summit. Light ashfall was reported in nearby localities during 9-10 August. On 9 and 13 August, explosions expelled blocks of incandescent material that rolled 100 m down the W flank.

Bulge detected and intense explosive eruptions on 16 August. Clinometer measurements on 16 August indicated a bulge on the N flank as compared to 11 August. Seismic activity increased, as ash-and-gas plumes reached heights of 3 km above the summit and drifted W and NW. About 3,200 people were evacuated from "at-risk" areas. At 1900 on 16 August, a new, intense explosive eruption began that continued throughout the day. A large pyroclastic flow did not reach the road.

The eruption continued through 0145 on 17 August at high levels of intensity, ejecting incandescent rocks and generating pyroclastic flows. Several pyroclastic flows were reported in the Achupashal, Mandur y La Hacienda, Juive and Vascún ravines. On the 17th tephra fall (with pumice clasts ~ 3 cm in diameter) was reported from several areas in a wide zone that extended from Penipe in the SW to ~ 15 km NW. Ash plumes reached estimated heights of 10 km above the summit and covered the central part of Ecuador, forming a cloud ~ 742 km long and ~ 185 km wide trending NNW and SSE.

As of mid-August, about 20 pyroclastic flows had descended the above-mentioned ravines, and possibly others on the SW flank. At 2125 the largest pyroclastic flow of the sequence descended the Achupashal ravine and reached and dammed the Chambo river.

At 0033 on the 18th activity intensified, generating several pyroclastic flows and ashfall in several sectors from Penipe in the SW to the N; hot ashfall was reported in the villages of Pelileo, Cevallos, San Juan, and Cotaló. The large quantity of accumulated ash on roofs in the village of Pillate caused their collapse. The city of Baños lost electrical service. During this period, one of the pyroclastic flows descended near Juive Grande and crossed the Ambato-Baños. A sustained eruption column appeared incandescent and glowing at the base, with an associated ash cloud to 7 km above the crater that was blown W and SW. Continuous sprays and jets of lava rose hundreds of meters above the crater.

The explosive eruption on 16-17 August culminated around 0200 (figure 37), after which time the activity gradually decreased. The IG report stated that on 17 August, although the eruptive activity had ceased, longer lasting events including movement of magma and continuous deformation on the N flank indicated that residual magmatic fluid in the volcanic system was putting pressure on the structure. Additionally, emission of SO2 continued to be detected in moderate amounts. This report (Special Report ##14, 17 August 2006) also reminded authorities that the events of 1918 included five explosive eruptions interspersed with periods of reduced activity and that the entire W flank remained at risk of collapse, which could release a large volume of lava and produce much larger pyroclastic flows. Communities at most risk would be on the NW flank (Juive Grande, Los Pájaros, Cusua, Bilbao), but more distant zones at the bottom of the Chambo and Pastaza valleys (Chacauco, and eventually Puñapí) would also be affected.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. An interpreted satellite image of a tall Tungurahua eruption column. The satellite was NOAA-18 (Channel 4-5) (1.5 nautical mile resolution) at 0209 (0709 UTC) on 17 August 2006. Courtesy of the Air Force Weather Agency.

Dramatic developments. On 18 August, incandescent blocks ejected from the summit descended ~ 1.7 km down the flank. Also that day, based on seismic interpretation, one of the blockages damming part of the Chambo River had been breached.

During 18-19 August, the N flank continued to inflate. During 20-21 August, steam emissions were observed during breaks in the cloud cover and the N flank exhibited deflation. On 23 August, two slow-moving lava flows were identified on the NW slope.

According to news reports, falling ash and debris caused fires and severe damage to five villages. An estimated 20,000 hectares of crops were destroyed. At least five people were dead or missing, and several more were injured. An estimated 4,000 people relocated to shelters.

Relative quiet, late August-October. During 23-27 August, visual observations of Tungurahua were impaired due to inclement weather. Based on seismic interpretation, lava continued to slowly flow NW towards Cusúa and La Hacienda. Seismicity was low and dominated by long-period earthquakes. Inclinometer measurements indicated no additional inflation on the flanks.

During September, seismicity remained low. On 1 September, lava flows on the NW flank were confirmed to have ceased. On 7 September lahars descended the NW gorges of Chontapamba and Mandur. During the month, there were several steam-and-gas plumes with little or no ash content. The emission heights ranged from ~ 0.1 to 2 km above the summit, and the primary wind drift was to the NW and W. Incandescence at the summit was observed at night. On the afternoon of 21 and on 22 September, moderate ash emissions occurred. Three more emissions on 23 September caused ashfall in Penipe; one plume rose 3 km and another 4 km above the summit. Ash plumes were seen again on 25 September.

No ash emissions were reported between 27 September and 2 October; however, on 2 October a slow-moving lava flow was seen descending the NNW flank and some fumarolic activity from the crater was observed. On 3 October an explosion resulted in ash falling in nearby communities to the W. According to the IG and aviation sources, the plume rose to at least 5 km above the summit.

During 4-5 October, Tungurahua's N flank fumaroles were active and steam emissions with minor ash content rose to 1 km above the summit and drifted W. Additional steam plumes possibly originated from the recent lava-flow's front. The IG again reported an increase in emissions and seismicity on 11 and 12 October, when steam plumes with slight to moderate amounts of ash reached 9-12 km altitude. Light ash fell in areas to the NW and W. During 13-17 October, seismicity decreased and plumes reached 7-8 km altitude.

On 16 October a small lava flow spalled off incandescent blocks; gas plumes were observed. Lahars traveled N toward Baños and down the Vazcún and Ulba gorges.

During 18-19 October, ash emissions increased in intensity and seismic tremor was continuous. During the night, lava fountains reached heights of 1 km above the crater rim and blocks rolled 800 m down the flanks. According to the Washington VAAC, around this time a pilot reported an ash plume to an altitude of 8.5 km. Ash plumes drifted NE and E and generated ashfall about 50 km E, in Puyo. According to news articles, about 300 villagers were evacuated.

Emissions continued during 20-24 October, producing plumes to 7-8 km. Ashfall was reported from towns on the N, NW, W, SW, and E flanks. On 28 October, incandescent blocks were expelled from the summit and rolled about 500 m down the W and E flanks. The next day, a lahar traveled NNW down the Mandur drainage and muddy water swelled in the Vazcún drainage. Incandescence from the crater was seen during most of October.

Ash plumes of steam and gas, and moderate ashfalls, were reported from several downwind towns on 5 and 6 November, including Bilbao (8 km W), Cotaló (13 km NW), and Manzano (8 km SW). On 2 November incandescent blocks were expelled from the summit and rolled 700 m down the W and E flanks. Nighttime incandescence was observed during 2-4 November.

On 7 November, a voluminous lahar traveled down gorges to the W and reached as far as the Chambo river, ~ 7 km from the summit. On 8 November, blocks expelled from the summit rolled down the flanks and ashfall was reported from areas including Casúa (7 km NW) and Baños (8 km NE). On 10, 11, and 13 November, ash fall was reported from areas including Penipe (8 km SW). During 12-13 November, lahars traveled down W and NW drainages and the Vazcún river swelled with muddy water.

On 17 November, an ash plume reached an altitude greater than 10 km and drifted NW and NE. During 26-27 November, Strombolian activity propelled incandescent material up to 600 m above the summit. Blocks rolled 2 km down the flanks. Lightning was visible in an ash plume that reached 7 km altitude and ashfall was reported from areas 8 km WSW. On 27 November, an ash plume rose to 9 km and drifted W. These conditions continued on into early December. On 6 December, plumes reached an altitude of 10 km. Ashfall was reported in areas including Cotaló, about 13 km NW, Pillate, about 7 km to the W, and Puela, about 8 km SW. On 9 December, ashfall up to 1 mm thick was reported about 12 km N in Baños.

Around this time seismicity was minimal in both intensity and duration. The plumes drifted in multiple directions. On 14 December, a lahar traveled SW down the Mapayacu gorge. On 21 December, lahars from Tungurahua traveled NW down the Mandur gorge resulting in a road closing and W down the Bilbao gorge. Gas-and-steam emissions produced small plumes on 22, 23, and 25 December. During 27 December-2 January, seismicity at Tungurahua remained moderate to low. On 27 and 28 December, lahars traveled down drainages including Bilbao to the W, Mandur to the NNW, and Mapayacu to the SW. During 3-9 January, seismicity at Tungurahua remained low to moderate.

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

Information Contacts: Geophysical Institute (IG), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Apartado 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/); International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) (URL: https://reliefweb.int/); Agence France-Presse (URL: http://www.afp.com/); Associated Press (URL: http://www.ap.org/).


Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) — December 2006 Citation iconCite this Report

Whakaari/White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Relative quite prevails during 2005-6

Between June 2005 and December 2006, seismic activity remained low at White Island. According to the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS), observers have occasionally seen elevated levels of sulfur gases (sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide) and carbon dioxide, as well as periods of micro-earthquakes and steam plumes. Minor changes in fumarole activity have also occurred. The crater lake has remained well below the overflow level. As of 15 December 2006, White Island remained at Alert Level 1 (some signs of volcano unrest).

Franz Jeker visited White Island on 9 January 2005 and took a series of photos showing some crater features (figures 47-49). Images from a web camera located on the crater rim show that no significant change in activity has occurred as of 9 February 2007 (figure 50).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Native sulfur deposits in a fumarolic environment at White Island, 9 January 2005. Courtesy of Franz Jeker.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Visitors standing on a high point in the crater at White Island, 9 January 2005. Courtesy of Franz Jeker.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Photo of the crater at White Island looking SE towards the ocean, 9 January 2005. Courtesy of Franz Jeker.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Webcam image taken from the crater rim at White Island, 9 February 2007. Courtesy of GeoNet.

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

Information Contacts: Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS), Private Bag 2000, Wairakwi, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/); GeoNet, a project sponsored by the New Zealand Government through these agencies: Earthquake Commission (E.C.), Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS), and Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FAST) (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz/); Franz Jeker, Rigistrasse 10, 8173 Neerach, Switzerland.

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