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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

Nyiragongo (DR Congo) Lava lake persists during June-November 2019

Ebeko (Russia) Frequent moderate explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall continue through November 2019

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) Intermittent ash plumes with significant gas and steam emissions during January 2016-December 2017

Sabancaya (Peru) Explosions, ash and SO2 plumes, thermal anomalies, and lava dome growth during June-November 2019

Karangetang (Indonesia) Lava flows, strong thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam emissions, and ash plumes during May-November 2019

Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) New vent, lava fountaining, lava flow, and ash plumes in late September-October 2019

Nyamuragira (DR Congo) Strong thermal anomalies and fumaroles within the summit crater during June-November 2019

Bagana (Papua New Guinea) Intermittent gas-and-steam emissions and thermal anomalies during June-November 2019

Kerinci (Indonesia) Intermittent gas-and-steam and ash plumes during June-early November 2019

Bezymianny (Russia) Lava dome growth, ongoing thermal anomalies, moderate gas-steam emissions, June-November 2019

Mayon (Philippines) Gas-and-steam plumes and summit incandescence during May-October 2019

Merapi (Indonesia) Low-volume dome growth continues during April-September 2019 with rockfalls and small block-and-ash flows



Nyiragongo (DR Congo) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake persists during June-November 2019

Nyiragongo is a stratovolcano with a 1.2 km-wide summit crater containing an active lava lake that has been present since at least 1971. It is located the Virunga Volcanic Province (VVP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, part of the western branch of the East African Rift System. Typical volcanism includes strong and frequent thermal anomalies, primarily due to the lava lake, incandescence, gas-and-steam plumes, and seismicity. This report updates activity during June through November 2019 with the primary source information from monthly reports by the Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG) and satellite data.

In the July 2019 monthly report, OVG stated that the lava lake level had dropped during the month, with incandescence only visible at night (figure 68). In addition, the small eruptive cone within the crater, which has been active since 2014, decreased in activity during this timeframe. A MONUSCO (United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) helicopter overflight took photos of the lava lake and observed that the level had begun to rise on 27 July. Seismicity was relatively moderate throughout this reporting period; however, on 9-16 July and 21 August strong seismic swarms were recorded.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Webcam images of Nyiragongo on 20 July 2019 where incandescence is not visible during the day (left) but is observed at night (right). Incandescence is accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Courtesy of OVG.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data continued to show frequent and strong thermal anomalies within 5 km of the crater summit through November 2019 (figure 69). Similarly, the MODVOLC algorithm reported almost daily thermal hotspots (more than 600) within the summit crater between June 2019 through November. These data are corroborated with Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery and a photo from OVG on 19 December 2019 showing the active lava lake (figures 70 and 71).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Thermal anomalies at Nyiragongo from 3 January through November 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were frequent and strong. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (bands 12, 11, 8A) showed ongoing thermal activity (bright yellow-orange) at Nyiragongo during June through November 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Photo of the active lava lake in the summit crater at Nyiragongo on 19 December 2019. Incandescence is accompanied by a gas-and-steam plume. Courtesy of OVG via Charles Balagizi.

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: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Charles Balagizi (Twitter: @CharlesBalagizi, https://twitter.com/CharlesBalagizi).


Ebeko (Russia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ebeko

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent moderate explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall continue through November 2019

Activity at Ebeko includes frequent explosions that have generated ash plumes reaching altitudes of 1.5-6 km over the last several years, with the higher altitudes occurring since mid-2018 (BGVN 43:03, 43:06, 43:12, 44:07). Ash frequently falls in Severo-Kurilsk (7 km ESE), which is monitored by the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT). This activity continued during June through November 2019; the Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale).

Explosive activity during December 2018 through November 2019 often sent ash plumes to altitudes between 2.2 to 4.5 km, or heights of 1.1 to 3.4 km above the crater (table 8). Eruptions since 1967 have originated from the northern crater of the summit area (figure 20). Webcams occasionally captured ash explosions, as seen on 27 July 2019(figure 21). KVERT often reported the presence of thermal anomalies; particularly on 23 September 2019, a Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image showed a strong thermal signature at the crater summit accompanied by an ash plume (figure 22). Ashfall is relatively frequent in Severo-Kurilsk (7 km ESE) and can drift in different direction based on the wind pattern, which can be seen in satellite imagery on 30 October 2019 deposited NE and SE from the crater(figure 23).

Table 8. Summary of activity at Ebeko, December 2018-November 2019. S-K is Severo-Kurilsk (7 km ESE of the volcano). TA is thermal anomaly in satellite images. Data courtesy of KVERT.

Date Plume Altitude (km) Plume Distance Plume Directions Other Observations
30 Nov-07 Dec 2018 3.6 -- E Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 1, 4 Dec.
07-14 Dec 2018 3.5 -- E Explosions.
25 Jan-01 Feb 2019 2.3 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 27 Jan.
02-08 Feb 2019 2.3 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 4 Feb.
08-15 Feb 2019 2.5 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 11 Feb.
15-22 Feb 2019 3.6 -- -- Explosions.
22-26 Feb 2019 2.5 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 23-26 Feb.
01-02, 05 Mar 2019 -- -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 1, 5 Mar.
08-10 Mar 2019 4 30 km ENE Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 9-10 Mar.
15-19, 21 Mar 2019 4.5 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 15-16, 21 Mar.
22, 24-25, 27-28 Mar 2019 4.2 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 24-25, 27 Mar.
29-31 Mar, 01, 04 Apr 2019 3.2 -- -- Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 31 Mar. TA on 31 Mar.
09 Apr 2019 2.2 -- -- Explosions.
12-15 Apr 2019 3.2 -- -- Explosions. TA on 13 Apr.
21-22, 24 Apr 2019 -- -- -- Explosions.
26 Apr-03 May 2019 3 -- -- Explosions.
04, 06-07 May 2019 3.5 -- -- Explosions. TA on 6 May.
12-13 May 2019 2.5 -- -- Explosions. TA 12-13 May.
16-20 May 2019 2.5 -- -- Explosions. TA on 16-17 May.
25-28 May 2019 3 -- -- Explosions. TA on 27-28 May.
03 Jun 2019 3 -- E Explosions.
12 Jun 2019 -- -- -- TA.
14-15 Jun 2019 2.5 -- NW, NE Explosions.
21-28 Jun 2019 -- -- -- TA on 23 June.
28 Jun-05 Jul 2019 4.5 -- Multiple Explosions. TA on 29 Jun, 1 Jul.
05-12 Jul 2019 3.5 -- S Explosions. TA on 11 Jul.
15-16 Jul 2019 2 -- S, SE Explosions. TA on 13-16, 18 Jul.
20-26 Jul 2019 4 -- Multiple Explosions. TA on 18, 20, 25 Jul
25-26, 29 Jul, 01 Aug 2019 2.5 -- Multiple Explosions.
02, 04 Aug 2019 3 -- SE Explosions. TA on 2, 4 Aug.
10-16 Aug 2019 3 -- SE Explosions. TA on 10, 12 Aug.
17-23 Aug 2019 3 -- SE Explosions. TA on 16 Aug.
23, 27-28 Aug 2019 3 -- E Explosions. TA on 23 Aug.
30-31 Aug, 03-05 Sep 2019 3 -- E, SE Explosions on 30 Aug, 3-5 Sep. TA on 30-31 Aug.
07-13 Sep 2019 3 -- S, SE, N Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 6 Sep. TA on 8 Sep.
13-15, 18 Sep 2019 2.5 -- E Explosions. TA on 15 Sep.
22-23 Sep 2019 3 -- E, NE Explosions. Ashfall in S-K.
27 Sep-04 Oct 2019 4 -- SE, E, NE Explosions.
07-08, 10 Oct 2019 2.5 -- E, NE Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 4-5 Oct. Weak TA on 8 Oct.
11-18 Oct 2019 4 -- NE Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 15 Oct. Weak TA on 12 Oct.
18, 20-21, 23 Oct 2019 3 -- N, E, SE Explosions. Weak TA on 20 Oct.
25-26, 29-30 Oct 2019 2.5 -- E, NE Explosions. Weak TA on 29 Oct.
02-06 Nov 2019 3 -- N, E, SE Explosions.
11-12, 14 Nov 2019 3 -- E, NE Explosions.
15-17, 20 Nov 2019 3 -- SE, NE Explosions.
22-23, 28 Nov 2019 2.5 -- SE, E Explosions. Ashfall in S-K on 23 Nov.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Satellite image showing the summit crater complex at Ebeko, July 2019. Monthly mosaic image for July 2019, copyright 2019 Planet Labs, Inc.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Webcam photo of an explosion and ash plume at Ebeko on 27 July 2019. Videodata by IMGG FEB RAS and KB GS RAS (color adjusted and cropped); courtesy of Institute of Volcanology and Seismology FEB RAS, KVERT.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Satellite images showing an ash explosion from Ebeko on 23 September 2019. Top image is in natural color (bands 4, 3, 2). Bottom image is using "Atmospheric Penetration" rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A) to show a thermal anomaly in the northern crater visible around the rising plume. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. A satellite image of Ebeko from Sentinel-2 (LC1 natural color, bands 4, 3, 2) on 30 October 2019 showing previous ashfall deposits on the snow going in multiple directions. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data detected four low-power thermal anomalies during the second half of July, and one each in the months of June, August, and October; no activity was recorded in September or November MODVOLC thermal alerts observed only one thermal anomaly between June through November 2019.

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

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); 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/).


Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — December 2019 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)


Intermittent ash plumes with significant gas and steam emissions during January 2016-December 2017

Nevado del Ruiz is a glaciated volcano in Colombia (figure 86). It is known for the 13 November 1985 eruption that produced an ash plume and associated pyroclastic flows onto the glacier, triggering a lahar that approximately 25,000 people in the towns of Armero (46 km west) and Chinchiná (34 km east). Since 1985 activity has intermittently occurred at the Arenas crater. The eruption that began on 18 November 2014 included ash plumes dominantly dispersed to the NW of Arenas crater (BGVN 42:06). This bulletin summarizes activity during January 2016 through December 2017 and is based on reports by Servicio Geologico Colombiano and Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales, Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) notices, and satellite data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. A satellite image of Nevado del Ruiz showing the location of the active Arenas crater. September 2019 Monthly Mosaic image copyright Planet Labs 2019.

Activity during 2016. Throughout January 2016 ash and steam plumes were observed reaching up to a few kilometers. Significant water vapor and volcanic gases, especially SO2, were detected throughout the month. Thermal anomalies were detected in the crater on the 27th and 31st. Significant water vapor and volcanic gas plumes, in particular SO2, were frequently detected by the SCAN DOAS (Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy) station and satellite data (figure 87). A M3.2 earthquake was felt in the area on 18 January. Similar activity continued through February with notable ash plumes up to 1 km, and a M3.6 earthquake was felt on the 6th. Ash and gas-and-steam plumes were reported throughout March with a maximum of 3.5 km on the 31st (figure 88). Significant water vapor and gas plumes continued from the Arenas crater throughout the month, and a thermal anomaly was noted on the 28th. An increase in seismicity was reported on the 29th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Examples of SO2 plumes from Nevado del Ruiz detected by the Aura/OMI instrument on 10, 26, and 31 January 2019. Courtesy of Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Ash plumes at Nevado del Ruiz during March. Webcam images courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano, various 2016 reports.

The activity continued into April with a M 3.0 earthquake felt by nearby inhabitants on the 8th, an increase in seismicity reported in the week of 12-18, and another significant increase on the 28th with earthquakes felt around Manizales. Thermal anomalies were noted during 12-18 April with the largest on the 16th. Ash plumes continued through the month as well as significant steam-and-gas plumes. Ashfall was reported in Murillo on the 29th.

The elevated activity continued through May with significant steam plumes up to 1.7 km above the crater during the week of 10-16. Thermal anomalies were reported on the 11th and 12th. Steam, gas, and ash plumes reached 2.5 km above the crater and dispersed to the W and NW. Ashfall was reported in La Florida on the 20th (figure 89) and multiple ash plumes on the 22nd reached 2.5 km and resulted in the closure of the La Nubia airport in Manizales. Ash and gas-and-steam emission continued during June (figure 90).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Ash plumes at Nevado del Ruiz on 17, 18, and 20 May 2016 with fine ash deposited on a car in La Florida, Manizales on the 20th. Webcams located in the NE Guali sector of the volcano, courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano 20 May 2016 report.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Examples of gas-and-steam and ash plumes at Nevado del Ruiz during June and July 2016. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano (7 July 2016 report).

Similar activity was reported in July with gas-and-steam and ash plumes often dispersing to the NW and W. Ashfall was reported to the NW on 16 July (figure 91). Drumbeat seismicity was detected on 13, 15, 16, and 17 July, with two hours on the 16th being the longest duration episode do far. Drumbeat seismicity was noted by SGC as indicating dome growth. Significant water vapor and gas emissions continued through August. Ash plumes were reported through the month with plumes up to 1.3 km above the crater on 28 and 2.3 km on 29. Similar activity was reported through September as well as a thermal anomaly and ash deposition apparent in satellite data (figure 92). Drumbeat seismicity was noted again on the 17th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. The location of ashfall resulting from an explosion at Nevado del Ruiz on 16 July 2016 and a sample of the ash under a microscope. The ash is composed of lithics, plagioclase and pyroxene crystals, and minor volcanic glass. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano (16 July 2016 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. This Sentinel-2 thermal infrared satellite image shows elevated temperatures in the Nevado del Ruiz Arenas crater (yellow and orange) on 16 September 2016. Ash deposits are also visible to the NW of the crater. In this image blue is snow and ice. False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During the week of 4-10 October it was noted that activity consisting of regular ash plumes had been ongoing for 22 months. Ash plumes continued with reported plumes reaching 2.5 above the crater throughout October (figure 93), accompanied by significant steam and water vapor emissions. A M 4.4 earthquake was felt nearby on the 7th. Similar activity continued through November and December 2016 with plumes consisting of gas and steam, and sometimes ash reaching 2 km above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. An ash plume rising above Nevado del Ruiz on 27 October 2016. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano.

Activity during 2017. Significant steam and gas emissions, especially SO2, continued into early 2017. Ash plumes detected through seismicity were confirmed in webcam images and through local reports; the plumes reached a maximum height of 2.5 km above the volcano on the 6th (figure 94). Drumbeat seismicity was recorded during 3-9, and on 22 January. Inflation was detected early in the month and several thermal anomalies were noted.

Intermittent deformation continued into February. Significant steam-and-gas emissions continued with intermittent ash plumes reaching 1.5-2 km above the volcano. Thermal anomalies were noted throughout the month and there was a significant increase in seismicity during 23-26 February.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Ash plumes at Nevado del Ruiz on 6 January 2017. Courtesy of Servicio Geologico Colombiano.

Thermal anomalies continued to be detected through March. Ash plumes continued to be observed and recorded in seismicity and maximum heights of 2 km above the volcano were noted. Deflation continued after the intermittent inflation the previous month. On 10-11 April a period of short-duration and very low-energy drumbeat seismicity was recorded. Significant gas and steam emission continued through April with intermittent ash plumes reaching 1.5 km above the volcano. Thermal anomalies were detected early in the month.

Unrest continued through May with elevated seismicity, significant steam-and-gas emissions, and ash plumes reaching 1.7 km above the crater. Five episodes of drumbeat seismicity were recorded on 29 May and intermittent deformation continued. There were no available reports for June and July.

Variable seismicity was recorded during August and deflation was measured in the first week. Gas-and-steam plumes were observed rising to 850 m above the crater on the 3rd, and 450 m later in the month. A thermal anomaly was noted on the 14th. There were no available reports for September through December.

On 18 December 2017 the Washington VAAC issued an advisory for an ash plume to 6 km that was moving west and dispersing. The plume was described as a "thin veil of volcanic ash and gasses" that was seen in visible satellite imagery, NOAA/CIMSS, and supported by webcam imagery.

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: Servicio Geologico Colombiano (SGC), Diagonal 53 No. 34-53 - Bogotá D.C., Colombia (URL: https://www2.sgc.gov.co/volcanes/index.html); Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales (URL: https://www.facebook.com/ovsmanizales); 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); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Sabancaya (Peru) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Sabancaya

Peru

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions, ash and SO2 plumes, thermal anomalies, and lava dome growth during June-November 2019

Sabancaya is an andesitic stratovolcano located in Peru. The most recent eruptive episode began in early November 2016, which is characterized by gas-and-steam and ash emissions, seismicity, and explosive events (BGVN 44:06). The ash plumes are dispersed by wind with a typical radius of 30 km, which occasionally results in ashfall. Current volcanism includes high seismicity, gas-and-steam emissions, ash and SO2 plumes, numerous thermal anomalies, and explosive events. This report updates information from June through November 2019 using information primarily from the Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP) and Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico) (OVI-INGEMMET).

Table 5. Summary of eruptive activity at Sabancaya during June-November 2019 based on IGP weekly reports, the Buenos Aires VAAC advisories, the HIGP MODVOLC hotspot monitoring algorithm, and Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data.

Month Avg. Daily Explosions by week Max plume Heights (km above crater) Plume drift MODVOLC Alerts Min Days with SO2 over 2 DU
Jun 2019 12, 13, 16, 17 2.6-3.8 30 km S, SW, E, SE, NW, NE 15 20
Jul 2019 23, 22, 16, 13 2.3-3.7 E, SE, S, NE 7 25
Aug 2019 12, 30, 25, 26 2-4.5 30 km NW, W S, NE, SE, SW 7 25
Sep 2019 29, 32, 24, 15 1.5-2.5 S, SE, E, W, NW, SW 14 26
Oct 2019 32, 36, 44, 48, 28 2.5-3.5 S, SE, SW, W 11 25
Nov 2019 58, 50, 47, 17 2-4 W, SW, S, NE, E 13 22

Explosions, ash emissions, thermal signatures, and high concentrations of SO2 were reported each week during June-November 2019 by IGP, the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), HIGP MODVOLC, and Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data (table 5). Thermal anomalies were visible in the summit crater, even in the presence of meteoric clouds and ash plumes were occasionally visible rising from the summit in clear weather (figure 68). The maximum plume height reached 4.5 km above the crater drifting NW, W, and S the week of 29 July-4 August, according to IGP who used surveillance cameras to visually monitor the plume (figure 69). This ash plume had a radius of 30 km, which resulted in ashfall in Colca (NW) and Huambo (W). On 27 July the SO2 levels reached a high of 12,814 tons/day, according to INGEMMET. An average of 58 daily explosions occurred in early November, which is the largest average of this reporting period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery detected ash plumes, gas-and-steam emissions, and multiple thermal signatures (bright yellow-orange) in the crater at Sabancaya during June-November 2019. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. A webcam image of an ash plume rising from Sabancaya on 1 August 2019 at least 4 km above the crater. Courtesy of IGP.

Seismicity was also particularly high between August and September 2019, according to INGEMMET. On 14 August, roughly 850 earthquakes were detected. There were 280 earthquakes reported on 15 September, located 6 km NE of the crater. Both seismic events were characterized as seismic swarms. Seismicity decreased afterward but continued through the reporting period.

In February 2017, a lava dome was established inside the crater. Since then, it has been growing slowly, filling the N area of the crater and producing thermal anomalies. On 26 October 2019, OVI-INGEMMET conducted a drone overflight and captured video of the lava dome (figure 70). According to IGP, this lava dome is approximately 4.6 million cubic meters with a growth rate of 0.05 m3/s.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. Drone images of the lava dome and degassing inside the crater at Sabancaya on 26 (top) and 27 (bottom) October 2019. Courtesy of INGEMMET (Informe Ténico No A6969).

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows strong, consistent thermal anomalies occurring all throughout June through November 2019 (figure 71). In conjunction with these thermal anomalies, the October 2019 special issue report by INGEMMET showed new hotspots forming along the crater rim in July 2018 and August 2019 (figure 72).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Thermal anomalies at Sabancaya for 3 January through November 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) were frequent, strong, and consistent. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. Thermal hotspots on the NW section of the crater at Sabancaya using MIROVA images. These images show the progression of the formation of at least two new hotspots between February 2017 to August 2019. Courtesy of INGEMMET, Informe Técnico No A6969.

Sulfur dioxide emissions also persisted at significant levels from June through November 2019, as detected by Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data (figure 73). The satellite measurements of the SO2 emissions exceeded 2 DU (Dobson Units) at least 20 days each month during this time. These SO2 plumes sometimes occurred for multiple consecutive days (figure 74).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. Consistent, large SO2 plumes from Sabancaya were seen in TROPOMI instrument satellite data throughout June-November 2019, many of which drifted in different directions based on the prevailing winds. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Persistent SO2 plumes from Sabancaya appeared daily during 13-16 September 2019 in the TROPOMI instrument satellite data. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP), Calle Badajoz N° 169 Urb. Mayorazgo IV Etapa, Ate, Lima 15012, Perú (URL: https://www.gob.pe/igp); Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico), Barrio Magisterial Nro. 2 B-16 Umacollo - Yanahuara Arequipa, Peru (URL: http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://SO2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); 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).


Karangetang (Indonesia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava flows, strong thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam emissions, and ash plumes during May-November 2019

Karangetang (also known as Api Siau), located on the island of Siau in the Sitaro Regency, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, has experienced more than 40 recorded eruptions since 1675 in addition to many smaller undocumented eruptions. In early February 2019, a lava flow originated from the N crater (Kawah Dua) traveling NNW and reaching a distance over 3 km. Recent monitoring showed a lava flow from the S crater (Kawah Utama, also considered the "Main Crater") traveling toward the Kahetang and Batuawang River drainages on 15 April 2019. Gas-and-steam emissions, ash plumes, moderate seismicity, and thermal anomalies including lava flow activity define this current reporting period for May through November 2019. The primary source of information for this report comes from daily and weekly reports by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM, or the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and satellite data.

PVMBG reported that white gas-and-steam emissions were visible rising above both craters consistently between May through November 2019 (figures 30 and 31). The maximum altitude for these emissions was 400 m above the Dua Crater on 27 May and 700 m above the Main Crater on 12 June. Throughout the reporting period PVMBG noted that moderate seismicity occurred, which included both shallow and deep volcanic earthquakes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. A Sentinel-2 image of Karangetang showing two active craters producing gas-and-steam emissions with a small amount of ash on 7 August 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Webcam images of gas-and-steam emissions rising from the summit of Karangetang on 14 (top) and 25 (bottom) October 2019. Courtesy of PVMBG via Øystein Lund Andersen.

Activity was relatively low between May and June 2019, consisting mostly of gas-and-steam emissions. On 26-27 May 2019 crater incandescence was observed above the Main Crater; white gas-and-steam emissions were rising from both craters (figures 32 and 33). At 1858 on 20 July, incandescent avalanches of material originating from the Main Crater traveled as far as 1 km W toward the Pangi and Kinali River drainages. By 22 July the incandescent material had traveled another 500 m in the same direction as well as 1 km in the direction of the Nanitu and Beha River drainages. According to a Darwin VAAC report, discreet, intermittent ash eruptions on 30 July resulted in plumes drifting W at 7.6 km altitude and SE at 3 km, as observed in HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Photograph of summit crater incandescence at Karangetang on 12 May 2019. Courtesy of Dominik Derek.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Photograph of both summit crater incandescence at Karangetang on 12 May 2019 accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Courtesy of Dominik Derek.

On 5 August 2019 a minor eruption produced an ash cloud that rose 3 km and drifted E. PVMBG reported in the weekly report for 5-11 August that an incandescent lava flow from the Main Crater was traveling W and SW on the slopes of Karangetang and producing incandescent avalanches (figure 34). During 12 August through 1 September lava continued to effuse from both the Main and Dua craters. Avalanches of material traveled as far as 1.5 km SW toward the Nanitu and Pangi River drainages, 1.4-2 km to the W of Pangi, and 1.8 km down the Sense River drainage. Lava fountaining was observed occurring up to 10 m above the summit on 14-20 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. Photograph of summit crater incandescence and a lava flow from Karangetang on 7 August 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

PVMBG reported that during 2-22 September lava continued to effuse from both craters, traveling SW toward the Nanitu, Pangi, and Sense River drainages as far as 1.5 km. On 24 September the lava flow occasionally traveled 0.8-1.5 km toward the West Beha River drainage. The lava flow from the Main Crater continued through at least the end of November, moving SW and W as far as 1.5 km toward the Nanitu, Pangi, and Sense River drainages. In late October and onwards, incandescence from both summit craters was observed at night. The lava flow often traveled as far as 1 km toward the Batang and East Beha River drainage on 12 November, the West Beha River drainage on 15, 22, 24, and 29 November, and the Batang and West Beha River drainages on 25-27 November (figure 35). On 30 November a Strombolian eruption occurred in the Main Crater accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions rising 100 m above the Main Crater and 50 m above the Dua Crater. Lava flows traveled SW and W toward the Nanitu, Sense, and Pangi River drainages as far as 1.5 km, the West Beha and Batang River drainages as far as 1 km, and occasionally the Batu Awang and Kahetang River drainages as far as 2 km. Lava fountaining was reported occurring 10-25 m above the Main Crater and 10 m above the Dua Crater on 6, 8-12, 15, 21-30 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Webcam image of gas-and-steam emissions rising from the summit of Karangetang accompanied by incandescence and lava flows at night on 27 November 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia via Øystein Lund Andersen.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed consistent and strong thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit craters from late July through November 2019 (figure 36). Satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 corroborated this data, showing strong thermal anomalies and lava flows originating from both craters during this same timeframe (figure 37). In addition to these lava flows, satellite imagery also captured intermittent gas-and-steam emissions from May through November (figure 38). MODVOLC thermal alerts registered 165 thermal hotspots near Karangetang's summit between May and November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Frequent and strong thermal anomalies at Karangetang between 3 January through November 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) began in late July and were recorded within 5 km of the summit craters. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (bands 12, 11, 8A) confirmed ongoing thermal activity (bright orange) at Karangetang from July into November 2019. The lava flows traveled dominantly in the W direction from the Main Crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showing gas-and-steam emissions with a small amount of ash (middle and right) rising from both craters of Karangetang during May through November 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data detected multiple sulfur dioxide plumes between May and November 2019 (figure 39). These emissions occasionally exceeded 2 Dobson Units (DU) and drifted in different directions based on the dominant wind pattern.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. SO2 emissions from Karangetang (indicated by the red box) were seen in TROPOMI instrument satellite data during May through November 2019, many of which drifted in different directions based on the prevailing winds. Top left: 27 May 2019. Top middle: 26 July 2019. Top right: 17 August 2019. Bottom left: 27 September 2019. Bottom middle: 3 October 2019. Bottom right: 21 November 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://SO2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Øystein Lund Andersen (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, https://twitter.com/OysteinLAnderse, URL: https://www.oysteinlundandersen.com); Dominik Derek (URL: https://www.facebook.com/07dominikderek/).


Ulawun (Papua New Guinea) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ulawun

Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


New vent, lava fountaining, lava flow, and ash plumes in late September-October 2019

Ulawun is a basaltic-to-andesitic stratovolcano located in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, with typical activity consisting of seismicity, gas-and-steam plumes, and ash emissions. The most recent eruption began in late June 2019 involving ash and gas-and-steam emissions, increased seismicity, and a pyroclastic flow (BGVN 44:09). This report includes volcanism from September to October 2019 with primary source information from the Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC).

Activity remained low through 26 September 2019, mainly consisting of variable amounts of gas-and-steam emissions and low seismicity. Between 26 and 29 September RVO reported that the seismicity increased slightly and included low-level volcanic tremors and Real-Time Seismic Amplitude Measurement (RSAM) values in the 200-400 range on 19, 20, and 22 September. On 30 September small volcanic earthquakes began around 1000 and continued to increase in frequency; by 1220, they were characterized as a seismic swarm. The Darwin VAAC advisory noted that an ash plume rose to 4.6-6 km altitude, drifting SW and W, based on ground reports.

On 1 October 2019 the seismicity increased, reaching RSAM values up to 10,000 units between 0130 and 0200, according to RVO. These events preceded an eruption which originated from a new vent that opened on the SW flank at 700 m elevation, about three-quarters of the way down the flank from the summit. The eruption started between 0430 and 0500 and was defined by incandescence and lava fountaining to less than 100 m. In addition to lava fountaining, light- to dark-gray ash plumes were visible rising several kilometers above the vent and drifting NW and W (figure 21). On 2 October, as the lava fountaining continued, ash-and-steam plumes rose to variable heights between 2 and 5.2 km (figures 22 and 23), resulting in ashfall to the W in Navo. Seismicity remained high, with RSAM values passing 12,000. A lava flow also emerged during the night which traveled 1-2 km NW. The main summit crater produced white gas-and-steam emissions, but no incandescence or other signs of activity were observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. Photographs of incandescence and lava fountaining from Ulawun during 1-2 October 2019. A) Lava fountains along with ash plumes that rose several kilometers above the vent. B) Incandescence and lava fountaining seen from offshore. Courtesy of Christopher Lagisa.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Photographs of an ash plume rising from Ulawun on 1 October 2019. In the right photo, lava fountaining is visible. Courtesy of Christopher Lagisa.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Photograph of lava fountaining and an ash plume rising from Ulawun on 1 October 2019. Courtesy of Joe Metto, WNB Provincial Disaster Office (RVO Report 2019100101).

Ash emissions began to decrease by 3 October 2019; satellite imagery and ground observations showed an ash cloud rising to 3 km altitude and drifting N, according to the Darwin VAAC report. RVO reported that the fissure eruption on the SW flank stopped on 4 October, but gas-and-steam emissions and weak incandescence were still visible. The lava flow slowed, advancing 3-5 m/day, while declining seismicity was reflected in RSAM values fluctuating around 1,000. RVO reported that between 23 and 31 October the main summit crater continued to produce variable amounts of white gas-and-steam emissions (figure 24) and that no incandescence was observed after 5 October. Gas-and-steam emissions were also observed around the new SW vent and along the lava flow. Seismicity remained low until 27-29 October; it increased again and peaked on 30 October, reaching an RSAM value of 1,700 before dropping and fluctuating around 1,200-1,500.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Webcam photo of a gas-and-steam plume rising from Ulawun on 30 October 2019. Courtesy of the Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO).

In addition to ash plumes, SO2 plumes were also detected between September and October 2019. Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI data showed SO2 plumes, some of which exceeded 2 Dobson Units (DU) drifting in different directions (figure 25). MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed strong, frequent thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit beginning in early October 2019 and throughout the rest of the month (figure 26). Only one thermal anomaly was detected in early December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI data showing a high concentration of SO2 plumes rising from Ulawun between late September-early October 2019. Top left: 11 September 2019. Top right: 1 October 2019. Bottom left: 2 October 2019. Bottom right: 3 October 2019. Courtesy of the NASA Space Goddard Flight Center.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Frequent and strong thermal anomalies at Ulawun for February through December 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) began in early October and continued throughout the month. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity in November was relatively low, with only a variable amount of white gas-and-steam emissions visible and low (less than 200 RSAM units) seismicity with sporadic volcanic earthquakes. Between 9-22 December, a webcam showed intermittent white gas-and-steam emissions were observed at the main crater, accompanied by some incandescence at night. Some gas-and-steam emissions were also observed rising from the new SW vent along the lava flow.

Geologic Background. The symmetrical basaltic-to-andesitic Ulawun stratovolcano is the highest volcano of the Bismarck arc, and one of Papua New Guinea's most frequently active. The volcano, also known as the Father, rises above the N coast of the island of New Britain across a low saddle NE of Bamus volcano, the South Son. The upper 1,000 m is unvegetated. A prominent E-W escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and E flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side, and a flank lava-flow complex lies to the south of this valley. Historical eruptions date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions were mildly explosive until 1967, but after 1970 several larger eruptions produced lava flows and basaltic pyroclastic flows, greatly modifying the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); 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/); Christopher Lagisa, West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea (URL: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.lagisa, images posted at https://www.facebook.com/christopher.lagisa/posts/730662937360239 and https://www.facebook.com/christopher.lagisa/posts/730215604071639).


Nyamuragira (DR Congo) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyamuragira

DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E; summit elev. 3058 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strong thermal anomalies and fumaroles within the summit crater during June-November 2019

Nyamuragira (also known as Nyamulagira) is a high-potassium basaltic shield volcano located in the Virunga Volcanic Province (VVP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Previous volcanism consisted of the reappearance of a lava lake in the summit crater in mid-April 2018, lava emissions, and high seismicity (BGVN 44:05). Current activity includes strong thermal signatures, continued inner crater wall collapses, and continued moderate seismicity. The primary source of information for this June-November 2019 report comes from the Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG) and satellite data and imagery from multiple sources.

OVG reported in the July 2019 monthly that the inner crater wall collapses that were observed in May continued to occur. During this month, there was a sharp decrease in the lava lake level, and it is no longer visible. However, the report stated that lava fountaining was visible from a small cone within this crater, though its activity has also decreased since 2014. In late July, a thermal anomaly and fumaroles were observed originating from this cone (figure 85). Seismicity remained moderate throughout this reporting period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. Photograph showing the small active cone within the crater of Nyamuragira in late July 2019. Fumaroles are also observed within the crater originating from the small cone. Courtesy of Sergio Maguna.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows strong, frequent thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit between June through November (figure 86). The strength of these thermal anomalies noticeably decreases briefly in September. MODVOLC thermal alerts registered 54 thermal hotspots dominantly near the N area of the crater during June through November 2019. Satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 corroborated this data, showing strong thermal anomalies within the summit crater during this same timeframe (figure 87).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity (log radiative power) at Nyamuragira during 30 January through November 2019 shows strong, frequent thermal anomalies through November with a brief decrease in activity in late April-early May and early September. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (bands 12, 11, 8A) confirmed ongoing thermal activity at Nyamuragira into November 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; 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/); Sergio Maguna (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sergio.maguna.9, images posted at https://www.facebook.com/sergio.maguna.9/posts/1267625096730837).


Bagana (Papua New Guinea) — December 2019 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)


Intermittent gas-and-steam emissions and thermal anomalies during June-November 2019

Bagana volcano is found in a remote portion of central Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea. The most recent eruptive phase that began in early 2000 has produced ash plumes and thermal anomalies (BGVN 44:06, 50:01). Activity has remained low between January-July 2019 with rare thermal anomalies and occasional steam plumes. This reporting period updates information for June-November 2019 and includes thermal anomalies and intermittent gas-and-steam emissions. Thermal data and satellite imagery are the primary sources of information for this report.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed an increased number of thermal anomalies within 5 km from the summit beginning in late July-early August (figure 38). Two Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed faint, roughly linear thermal anomalies, indicative of lava flows trending EW and NS on 7 July 2019 and 6 August, respectively (figure 39). Weak thermal hotspots were briefly detected in late September-early October after a short hiatus in September. No thermal anomalies were recorded in Sentinel-2 past August due to cloud cover; however, gas-and-steam emissions were visible on 7 July and in September (figures 39, 40, and 41).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Thermal anomalies near the crater summit at Bagana during February-November 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) increased in frequency and power in early August. A small cluster was detected in early October after a brief pause in activity in early September. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showing small thermal anomalies at Bagana between July-August 2019. Left: A very faint thermal anomaly and a gas-and-steam plume is seen on 7 July 2019. Right: Two small thermal anomalies are faintly seen on 6 August 2019. Both Sentinel-2 satellite images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. A gas-and-steam plume rising from the summit of Bagana on 18 September 2019. Courtesy of Brendan McCormick Kilbride (University of Manchester).

The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) scientific team partnered with the Rabaul Volcano Observatory and the Bougainville Disaster Office to observe activity at Bagana and collect gas data using drone technology during two weeks of field work in mid-September 2019. For this field work, the major focus was to understand the composition of the volcanic gas emitted at Bagana and measure the concentration of these gases. Since Bagana is remote and difficult to climb, research about its gas emissions has been limited. The recent advancements in drone technology has allowed for new data collection at the summit of Bagana (figure 41). Most of the emissions consisted of water vapor, according to Brendan McCormick Kilbride, one of the volcanologists on this trip. During 14-19 September there was consistently a strong gas-and-steam plume from Bagana (figure 42).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Degassing plumes seen from drone footage 100 m above the summit of Bagana. Top: Zoomed out view of the summit of Bagana degassing. Bottom: Closer perspective of the gases emitted from Bagana. Courtesy of Kieran Wood (University of Bristol) and the Bristol Flight Laboratory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Photos of gas-and-steam plumes rising from Bagana between 14-19 September 2019. Courtesy of Brendan McCormick Kilbride (University of Manchester).

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: 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); Brendan McCormick Kilbride, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom (URL: https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/brendan.mccormickkilbride.html, Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrendanVolc); Kieran Wood, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1QU, United Kingdom (URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/engineering/people/kieran-t-wood/index.html, Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrKieranWood, video posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7Hx645v0eU); University of Bristol Flight Laboratory, Bristol BS8 1QU, United Kingdom (Twitter: https://twitter.com/UOBFlightLab).


Kerinci (Indonesia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent gas-and-steam and ash plumes during June-early November 2019

Kerinci, located in Sumatra, Indonesia, is a highly active volcano characterized by explosive eruptions with ash plumes and gas-and-steam emissions. The most recent eruptive episode began in April 2018 and included intermittent explosions with ash plumes. Volcanism continued from June-November 2019 with ongoing intermittent gas-and-steam and ash plumes. 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), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and MAGMA Indonesia.

Brown- to gray-colored ash clouds drifting in different directions were reported by PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC, and MAGMA Indonesia between June and early November 2019. Ground observations, satellite imagery, and weather models were used to monitor the plume, which ranged from 4.3 to 4.9 km altitude, or about 500-1,100 m above the summit. On 7 June 2019 at 0604 a gray ash emission rose 800 m above the summit, drifting E, according to a ground observer. An ash plume on 12 July rose to 4 km altitude and drifted SW, as determined by satellite imagery and weather models. An eruption produced a gray ash cloud on 31 July that rose to 4.6 km altitude and drifted NE and E, according to PVMBG and the Darwin VAAC (figure 17). Another ash cloud rose up to 4.3 km altitude on 3 August. On 2 September a possible ash plume rose to a maximum altitude of 4.9 km and drifted WSW, according to the Darwin VAAC advisory.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. A gray ash plume at Kerinci rose roughly 800 m above the summit on 31 July 2019 and drifted NE and E. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

Brown ash emissions rose to 4.4 km altitude at 1253 on 6 October, drifting WSW. Similar plumes reached 4.6 km altitude twice on 30 October and moved NE, SE, and E at 0614 and WSW at 1721, based on ground observations. On 1-2 November, ground observers saw brown ash emissions rising up to 4.3 km drifting ESE. Between 3 and 5 November the brown ash plumes rose 100-500 m above the summit, according to PVMBG.

Gas emissions continued to be observed through November, as reported by PVMBG and identified in satellite imagery (figure 18). Seismicity that included volcanic earthquakes also continued between June and early November, when the frequency decreased.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showing a typical white gas-and-steam plume at Kerinci on 9 August 2019. Sentinel-2 satellite image with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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).


Bezymianny (Russia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Bezymianny

Russia

55.972°N, 160.595°E; summit elev. 2882 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava dome growth, ongoing thermal anomalies, moderate gas-steam emissions, June-November 2019

The long-term activity at Bezymianny has been dominated by almost continuous thermal anomalies, moderate gas-steam emissions, dome growth, lava flows, and an occasional ash explosion (BGVN 44:06). The volcano is monitored by the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT. Throughout the reporting period of June to November 2019, the Aviation Colour Code remained Yellow (second lowest of four levels).

According to KVERT weekly reports, lava dome growth continued in June through mid-July 2019. Thereafter the reports did not mention dome growth, but indicated that moderate gas-and-steam emissions (figure 32) continued through November. The MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) volcano hotspot detection system, based on analysis of MODIS data, detected hotspots within 5 km of the summit almost every day. KVERT also reported a thermal anomaly over the volcano almost daily, except when it was obscured by clouds. Infrared satellite imagery often showed thermal anomalies generated by lava flows or dome growth (figure 33).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Photo of Bezymianny showing fumarolic activity on 4 July 2019. Photo by O. Girina (IVS FEB RAS, KVERT); courtesy of KVERT.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Typical infrared satellite images of Bezymianny showing thermal anomalies in the summit crater, including a lava flow to the WNW. Top: 21 August 2019 with SWIR filter (bands 12, 8A, 4). Bottom: 17 September 2019 with Atmospheric Penetration filter (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Prior to its noted 1955-56 eruption, Bezymianny had been considered extinct. The modern volcano, much smaller in size than its massive neighbors Kamen and Kliuchevskoi, was formed about 4700 years ago over a late-Pleistocene lava-dome complex and an ancestral edifice built about 11,000-7000 years ago. Three periods of intensified activity have occurred during the past 3000 years. The latest period, which was preceded by a 1000-year quiescence, began with the dramatic 1955-56 eruption. This eruption, similar to that of St. Helens in 1980, produced a large horseshoe-shaped crater that was formed by collapse of the summit and an associated lateral blast. Subsequent episodic but ongoing lava-dome growth, accompanied by intermittent explosive activity and pyroclastic flows, has largely filled the 1956 crater.

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/); 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).


Mayon (Philippines) — November 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Mayon

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Gas-and-steam plumes and summit incandescence during May-October 2019

Mayon, located in the Philippines, is a highly active stratovolcano with recorded historical eruptions dating back to 1616. The most recent eruptive episode began in early January 2018 that consisted of phreatic explosions, steam-and-ash plumes, lava fountaining, and pyroclastic flows (BGVN 43:04). The previous report noted small but distinct thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam plumes, and slight inflation (BGVN 44:05) that continued to occur from May into mid-October 2019. This report includes information based on daily bulletins from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) and Sentinel-2 satellite imagery.

Between May and October 2019, white gas-and-steam plumes rose to a maximum altitude of 800 m on 17 May. PHIVOLCS reported that faint summit incandescence was frequently observed at night from May-July and Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed weaker thermal anomalies in September and October (figure 49); the last anomaly was identified on 12 October. Average SO2 emissions as measured by PHIVOLCS generally varied between 469-774 tons/day; the high value of the period was on 25 July, with 1,171 tons/day. Small SO2 plumes were detected by the TROPOMI satellite instrument a few times during May-September 2019 (figure 50).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery of Mayon between May-October 2019. Small thermal anomalies were recorded in satellite imagery from the summit and some white gas-and-steam plumes are visible. Top left: 30 May 2019. Top right: 9 June 2019. Bottom left: 22 September 2019. Bottom right: 12 October 2019. Sentinel-2 satellite images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Small SO2 plumes rising from Mayon during May-September 2019 recorded in DU (Dobson Units). Top left: 28 May 2019. Top right: 26 July 2019. Bottom left: 16 August 2019. Bottom right: 23 September 2019. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Continuous GPS data has shown slight inflation since June 2018, corroborated by precise leveling data taken on 9-17 April, 16-25 July, and 23-30 October 2019. Elevated seismicity and occasional rockfall events were detected by the seismic monitoring network from PHIVOLCS from May to July; recorded activity decreased in August. Activity reported by PHIVOLCS in September-October 2019 consisted of frequent gas-and-steam emissions, two volcanic earthquakes, and no summit incandescence.

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

Information Contacts: Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), Department of Science and Technology, University of the Philippines Campus, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines (URL: http://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://SO2.gsfc.nasa.gov/).


Merapi (Indonesia) — October 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Merapi

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Low-volume dome growth continues during April-September 2019 with rockfalls and small block-and-ash flows

Merapi is an active volcano north of the city of Yogyakarta (figure 79) that has a recent history of dome growth and collapse, resulting in block-and-ash flows that killed over 400 in 2010, while an estimated 10,000-20,000 lives were saved by evacuations. The edifice contains an active dome at the summit, above the Gendol drainage down the SE flank (figure 80). The current eruption episode began in May 2018 and dome growth was observed from 11 August 2018-onwards. This Bulletin summarizes activity during April through September 2019 and is based on information from Balai Penyelidikan dan Pengembangan Teknologi Kebencanaan Geologi (BPPTKG, the Center for Research and Development of Geological Disaster Technology, a branch of PVMBG), Sutopo of Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), MAGMA Indonesia, along with observations by Øystein Lund Andersen and Brett Carr of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Merapi volcano is located north of Yogyakarta in Central Java. Photo courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. A view of the Gendol drainage where avalanches and block-and-ash flows are channeled from the active Merapi lava dome. The Gendol drainage is approximately 400 m wide at the summit. Courtesy of Brett Carr, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

At the beginning of April the rate of dome growth was relatively low, with little morphological change since January, but the overall activity of Merapi was considered high. Magma extrusion above the upper Gendol drainage resulted in rockfalls and block-and-ash flows out to 1.5 km from the dome, which were incandescent and visible at night. Five block-and-ash flows were recorded on 24 April, reaching as far as 1.2 km down the Gendol drainage. The volume of the dome was calculated to be 466,000 m3 on 9 April, a slight decrease from the previous week. Weak gas plumes reached a maximum of 500 m above the dome throughout April.

Six block-and-ash flows were generated on 5 May, lasting up to 77 seconds. Throughout May there were no significant changes to the dome morphology but the volume had decreased to 458,000 by 4 May according to drome imagery analysis. Lava extrusion continued above the Gendol drainage, producing rockfalls and small block-and-ash flows out to 1.2 km (figure 81). Gas plumes were observed to reach 400 m above the top of the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. An avalanche from the Merapi summit dome on 17 May 2019. The incandescent blocks traveled down to 850 m away from the dome. Courtesy of Sutopo, BNPB.

There were a total of 72 avalanches and block-and-ash flows from 29 January to 1 June, with an average distance of 1 km and a maximum of 2 km down the Gendol drainage. Photographs taken by Øystein Lund Andersen show the morphological change to the lava dome due to the collapse of rock and extruding lava down the Gendol drainage (figures 82 and 83). Block-and-ash flows were recorded on 17 and 20 June to a distance of 1.2 km, and a webcam image showed an incandescent flow on 26 June (figure 84). Throughout June gas plumes reached a maximum of 250 m above the top of the crater

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. The development of the Merapi summit dome from 2 June 2018 to 17 June 2019. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Photos taken of the Merapi summit lava dome in June 2019. Top: This nighttime time-lapse photograph shows incandescence at the south-facing side of the dome on the 16 June. Middle: A closeup of a small rockfall from the dome on 17 June. Bottom: A gas plume accompanying a small rockfall on 17 June. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Blocks from an incandescent rockfall off the Merapi dome reached out to 1 km down the Gendol drainage on 26 June 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

Analysis of drone images taken on 4 July gave an updated dome volume of 475,000 m3, a slight increase but with little change in the morphology (figure 85). Block-and-ash flows traveled 1.1 km down the Gendol drainage on 1 July, 1 km on the 13th, and 1.1 km on the 14th, some of which were seen at night as incandescent blocks fell from the dome (figure 86). During the week of 19-25 July there were four recorded block-and-ash flows reaching 1.1 km, and flows traveled out to around 1 km on the 24th, 27th, and 31st. The morphology of the dome continued to be relatively stable due to the extruding lava falling into the Gendol drainage. Gas plumes reached 300 m above the top of the crater during July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. The Merapi dome on 30 July 2019 producing a weak plume. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Incandescent rocks from the hot lava dome at the summit of Merapi form rockfalls down the Gendol drainage on 14 July 2019. Courtesy of Øystein Lund Andersen.

During the week of 5-11 August the dome volume was calculated to be 461,000 m3, a slight decrease from the week before with little morphological changes due to the continued lava extrusion collapsing into the Gendol drainage. There were five block-and-ash flows reaching a maximum of 1.2 km during 2-8 August. Two flows were observed on the 13th and 14th reaching 950 m, out to 1.9 km on the 20th and 22nd, and to 550 m on the 24th. There were 16 observed flows that reached 500-1,000 m on 25-27 August, with an additional flow out to 2 km at 1807 on the 27th (figure 87). Gas plumes reached a maximum of 350 m through the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. An incandescent rockfall from the Merapi dome that reached 2 km down the Gendol drainage on 27 August 2019. Courtesy of BPPTKG.

Brett Carr was conducting field work at Merapi during 12-26 September. During this time the lava extrusion was low (below 1 m3 per second). He observed small rockfalls with blocks a couple of meters in size, traveling about 50-200 m down the drainage every hour or so, producing small plumes as they descended and resulting in incandescence on the dome at night. Small dome collapse events produced block-and-ash flows down the drainage once or twice per day (figure 88) and slightly larger flows just over 1 km long a couple of times per week.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. A rockfall on the Merapi dome, towards the Gendol drainage at 0551 on 20 September 2019. Courtesy of Brett Carr, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The dome volume was 468,000 m3 by 19 September, a slight increase from the previous calculation but again with little morphological change. Two block-and-ash flows were observed out to 600 m on 9 September and seven occurred on the 9th out to 500-1,100 m. Two occurred on the 14th down to 750-900 m, three occurred on 17, 20, and 21 September to a maximum distance of 1.2 km, and three more out to 1.5 km through the 26th. A VONA (Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation) was issued on the 22nd due to a small explosion producing an ash plume up to approximately 3.8 km altitude (about 800 m above the summit) and minor ashfall to 15 km SW. This was followed by a block-and-ash flow reaching as far as 1.2 km and lasting for 125 seconds (figure 89). Preceding the explosion there was an increase in temperature at several locations on the dome. Weak gas plumes were observed up to 100 m above the crater throughout the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. An explosion at Merapi on 22 September 2019 was followed by a block-and-ash flow that reached 1.2 km down the Gendol drainage. Courtesy of BPPTKG.

Geologic Background. Merapi, one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, lies in one of the world's most densely populated areas and dominates the landscape immediately north of the major city of Yogyakarta. It is the youngest and southernmost of a volcanic chain extending NNW to Ungaran volcano. Growth of Old Merapi during the Pleistocene ended with major edifice collapse perhaps about 2000 years ago, leaving a large arcuate scarp cutting the eroded older Batulawang volcano. Subsequently growth of the steep-sided Young Merapi edifice, its upper part unvegetated due to frequent eruptive activity, began SW of the earlier collapse scarp. Pyroclastic flows and lahars accompanying growth and collapse of the steep-sided active summit lava dome have devastated cultivated lands on the western-to-southern flanks and caused many fatalities during historical time.

Information Contacts: Balai Penyelidikan dan Pengembangan Teknologi Kebencanaan Geologi (BPPTKG), Center for Research and Development of Geological Disaster Technology (URL: http://merapi.bgl.esdm.go.id/, Twitter: @BPPTKG); Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38, East Jakarta 13120, Indonesia (URL: http://www.bnpb.go.id/, Twitter: https://twitter.com/BNPB_Indonesia); Øystein Lund Andersen? (Twitter: @OysteinLAnderse, URL: http://www.oysteinlundandersen.com); Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB (Twitter: @Sutopo_PN, URL: https://twitter.com/Sutopo_PN); Brett Carr, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, 61 Route 9W, Palisades, NY, USA (URL: https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/user/bcarr).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 35, Number 03 (March 2010)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Eyjafjallajokull (Iceland)

Fissure eruption and lava flows from E flank on 20 March

Fournaise, Piton de la (France)

Seismicity and eruptions January 2009 and November 2009-January 2010

Santa Maria (Guatemala)

Continuing frequent ash explosions through 2008-2009

Sheveluch (Russia)

Near-constant dome growth during May 2008 through March 2010

Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom)

Lava dome growth continuing; pyroclastic flows reached the ocean

Stromboli (Italy)

Explosions and lava flows in 2009; recent reports on 2007 eruption

Telica (Nicaragua)

Incandescent crater floor areas seen in November 2009 and March 2010



Eyjafjallajokull (Iceland) — March 2010 Citation iconCite this Report

Eyjafjallajokull

Iceland

63.633°N, 19.633°W; summit elev. 1651 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fissure eruption and lava flows from E flank on 20 March

During March 2010, the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) and the Nordic Volcanological Center of the University of Iceland's Institute of Earth Sciences (IES) reported the first eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland since 1823. The following was mostly condensed from a multitude of reports on the EIS and IMO websites, and only discusses activity through the start of the explosive summit phase. Many of the satellite images featured here came from the NASA Earth Observatory.

From 20 March to 12 April 2010 the eruption's first phase occurred from a fissure 9 km ENE of the summit, an area named Fimmvörðuháls, located between the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull icecaps (figure 1). These vents on the lower E slopes were snow-covered but not under the year-round icecap found at higher elevations. Lava flows filled gullies, and quickly melted adjacent winter snow, creating small steam plumes. After apparent cessation of the fissure activity on or about 12 April, a second phase of the eruption began on 14 April (figures 2 and 3, table 1), generating ash plumes that blew E to Europe and resulted in a 20-80% decrease of airline flights for as much as a week (Wall and Flottau, 2010). As of late May the eruption continued, with occasional plumes that restricted air travel in parts of Europe.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Map of southern Iceland showing Eyjafjallajökull and Katla volcanoes, towns, and locations of monitoring instruments. The Mýrdalsjökull icecap overlies Katla. ("Jökull" translates to "glacier" or "icecap" in English). Index map showing some eruptive centers is from Laursen (2010). Base map courtesy of IMO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Approximately N-looking interpretive cross-section cartoon drawn between Eyjafjallajökull and Katla. The eruption of 20 March was located at Fimmvörðuháls. Starting on 14 April, eruptions took place at the summit caldera. Notice the thin upper layer (blue on colored versions) representing glacial ice and the inferred common linkage at ~ 2 km depth below sea level of the conduits feeding the two active vent areas. Courtesy of Páll Einarsson (IES).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. ASTER image of the Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörðuháls vents at 1350 local time on 19 April. The image shows both visible information and heat signatures from areas of anomalously high thermal infrared (IR) radiation (for colored versions, yellow is hottest, red, cooler). For the Fimmvörðuháls the thermal signature shows the extent of lava flows no longer extruding but still hot. At the summit, the vent is clearly active, with a thermal signature and a dense white plume blowing SSE. ASTER is the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer flying on NASA's Terra satellite. Courtesy of Rob Simmon, the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team, and Holli Riebeek, NASA Earth Observatory.

Table 1. Preliminary data regarding the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, which started at an E-flank vent (Fimmvörðuháls) and then later shifted to the ice-covered summit caldera. The grain sizes of the second phase of the eruption were quantified by The Environment Agency of Iceland; other data courtesy of IMO and IES.

Dates Activity Rock type and description
20 Mar-12 Apr 2010 Fissure eruptions of lava flows at Fimmvörðuháls. Alkali-olivine basalt (~47.7 wt % SiO2). Euhedral plagiclase, olivine, and clinopyroxene phenocrysts seem to be in equilibrium with magma.
14 Apr 2010 and later Explosions from the summit caldera of Eyjafjallajökull. Ash clouds, initially up to ~11 km altitude. Trachyandesite (56.7-59.6 wt % SiO2). Grain size from sample at Mýrdalssandur (50 km from vent): 24%, under 10 ?m (as aerosol); 33% , 10-50 ?m; 20% , 50-146 ?m; 23%, 146-294 ?m. Fluorine: 850 mg/kg (19 April).

Precursory observations. The IES website contained a list of scientific papers and publications including several noting restlessness at Fimmvörðuhálsat in recent years (see Further References below). The IES reports noted that the Fimmvörðuháls eruption followed weeks of high seismicity and deformation (figure 4).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. (top) Map of the southern Iceland GPS (Global Positioning System) network, including stations THEY, SKOG, STE1, and STE2. (bottom) Displacement measurements for selected continuous/semi-continuous GPS stations around Eyjafjallajökull from early July 2009 to early March 2010. Inset photograph is of station SKOG. Courtesy of IES.

In general terms, GPS data indicated that permanent station Thorvaldseyri (THEY; S of the volcano, figure 4) started moving S in late December 2009. In the weeks prior to the eruption, there was rapid deformation at Skogaheidi (SKOG; S of the volcano) and Steinsholt (STE1 and STE2; N of the volcano). IES identified three distinct phases in the GPS data. First, at the end of December, the southward motion of THEY. Second, at the beginning of February 2010, displacement at THEY changed to SW as SKOG began E displacement. Third, after 5 March, STE2 displaced rapidly NW and up. Scientists noticed a trend after 4 March at continuous GPS sites installed within 12 km of the eruptive site; all showed deformation at rates of up to a centimeter a day.

Seismic tremor began around 2230 on 4 March, and around that time, signal sources rose slowly towards the surface. Compared to the weeks prior to the eruption, seismicity increased rather slowly immediately prior to the eruption. However, as the eruption onset neared, geophysicists saw both the depth of earthquakes decrease and the locations of earthquakes move from the area under the summit towards the Fimmvörðuháls site.

According to Laursen (2010) "Eyjafjallajökull's so-far-unpredictable behavior offers a perfect example of the challenge facing volcanologists. Before this spring's first eruption...GPS stations on the volcano had wandered several centimeters in May of 2009 and again in December, signs that rising magma was stretching the skin of the volcano in advance of an eruption. In mid-February...Steinunn Jakobsdóttir, a geophysicist at IMO, was tracking tremors ~ 5 kilometers below Eyjafjallajökull's surface. But officials didn't order evacuations because the seismic hints weren't that dire. 'Usually when an eruption starts, a low-frequency [seismic signal] is rising when the magma is coming to the surface,' says Jakobsdóttir. Although seismic tracking placed magma closer to the surface on 19 March, this low-frequency signal was absent, so civil authorities kept the alert level at its lowest setting. But the next night, southern Icelanders reported a dark cloud glowing red above the mountain: The volcano had experienced a small eruption, one that led authorities to evacuate farmers living in its floodplains."

Eruption from Fimmvörðuháls. Late on 20 March 2010 an eruption began at Fimmvörðuháls, an area around 1,000 m elevation in a ~ 2-km-wide pass of ice-free land between Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. Initially detected visually, the eruption was seen at 2352 that day as a red cloud above the site.

The eruption broke out with Hawaiian-style fire fountains (figure 5) on a ~ 500-m-long, NE-oriented fissure (at 63° 38.1' N, 19° 26.4' W). Lava flowed a short distance from the eruptive site and a minor eruption plume rose to less than 1 km altitude and blew W. Tephra fall was minor or insignificant.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Image of fissure eruption at Eyjafjallajökull taken 21 March 2010 by Sigrún Hreinsdóttir. Courtesy of IES.

Airborne observers during 0400-0700 on 21 March described a short eruptive fissure with fire fountaining from 10-12 vents reaching up to ~ 100 m height. Eruption tremor rose slowly until reaching a maximum at around 0700-0800 that day. No further lengthening of the fissure was detected. Lava was still limited to the immediate surroundings of the eruptive craters (runouts of less than few hundred meters). Minor ashfall occurred within a few kilometers W.

On 22 March, observations made from the ground showed lava extrusion from a series of closely-spaced vents. Prevailing E winds led to maximum scoria accumulation on a linear rim W of the NE-trending fissure. A'a lava flowed over the steep Hrunagil canyon rim creating spectacular 'lava falls.'

During 23-31 March, lava steadily issued at the initial craters, with gradual focusing towards fewer vents. Lava advanced N into the Hrunagil and Hvannárgil valleys, with continuation of intermittent lava falls (figures 6-8). Lava descending gullies generated zones of frothy rock. Extensive steam plumes occurred when advancing lava encountered water and snow. Two or three plumes were observed (one at the eruptive craters, others more pronounced in front of the advancing lava). Meltwater descended in batches into rivers valleys, and seismometers recorded relatively steady eruption tremor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. EO-1 ALI satellite image with annotations indicating path of lava flows from the Fimmvörðuháls vent, 24 March 2010. Note N arrow and scale at lower left. Courtesy of Robert Simmon, NASA Earth Observatory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Photo showing lava falls developed when lava flows encountered steep canyon walls, 1 April 2010. Courtesy of Sigrún Hreinsdóttir, IES.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Map showing Fimmvörðuháls fissures and the distribution of new scoria and lava at various points in time during 21 March-7 April 2010. Table indicates cumulative areal extent of the deposits. Courtesy of EIS and Icelandic Coast Guard.

On the evening of 31 March, scientists noted the opening of a new short fissure immediately N of the previous one. This change may have been a response to changes at shallow depth in the feeder channel. Eruption tremor remained unchanged. During 31 March-6 April, lava discharged in both the old and new eruptive craters in a manner similar to before. Pronounced 'lava falls' returned to Hvannárgil valley.

During 1-2 April 2010 a team from the Italian Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) working in collaboration with the scientists from IES conducted gas measurements at Fimmvörðuháls (Burton and others, 2010). Three measurement techniques were used: open-path FTIR (Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy), DOAS (differential optical absorption spectroscopy), and a sulfur dioxide (SO2) imaging system. The FTIR spectrometer uses infrared radiation emitted from the erupting lavas as a source for absorption spectrometry of gases emitted from the explosive vents. Spectra are analyzed using a single-beam retrieval, which allows pathlength estimates of H2O, CO2, SO2, HCl, and HF. Favorable wind conditions allowed traverse measurements under the gas plume with a DOAS spectrometer for SO2 flux estimates.

The investigators found that the SO2 gas flux was ~ 3,000 metric tons per day. Approximately 70% of the SO2 flux was produced by the fissure that opened 31 March, with ~ 30% emitted by the fissure that had opened on 21 March. The overall HF flux was ~ 30 tons per day. Gas compositions emitted from the two fissures were broadly similar and rich in H2O (over 80% by mole), less than 15% CO2, and less than 3% SO2. The SO2/HCl ratio varied at the 31 March fissure on 1 and 2 April (25% and 5%, respectively).

On 5 April, eruption tremor (at 1-2 Hz recorded at the nearest seismic station, Godabunga) began to gradually decline. By 7 April lava emissions had stopped from the original craters, but continued at the 31 March fissure.

When IES surveyed the new landscape on 7 April (figure 9), they found 1.3 km2 of new lava, an average thickness of new lava there of 10-12 m, and an estimated volume of eruptive material of 22-24 x 106 m3. From this they computed an average emission rate of ~ 15 m3/s. The tallest new cone reached an elevation 1,067 m, ~ 82 m above the previous ground surface. Another cone with a rim at 1,032 m elevation was 47 m above the previous surface and the vent area glowed red.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. The Fimmvörðuháls as surveyed and photographed by Freysteinn Sigmundsson and Eyjólfur Magnússon on 7 April 2010. Values shown are elevations and those in parentheses refer to the approximate net gain in elevation due to fresh deposits on the pre-eruption surface. Courtesy of IES.

By 9 April, after little change in deformation rates during the eruption, time series at continuous GPS stations N of the volcano showed sudden change, partly jumping back to pre-eruptive levels. On 11 April, eruption tremor also approached pre-eruptive levels, but visual observation revealed eruptive activity in late afternoon. Seismic tremor on 12 April reached a minimum.

Eruption from the summit caldera. The second, more explosive eruptive phase, began on 14 April 2010 at the subglacial, central summit caldera. This phase was preceded by an earthquake swarm from around 2300 on 13 April to 0100 on 14 April. Meltwater started to emanate from the icecap around 0700 on 14 April and an eruption plume was observed later that morning. The exact conditions at the summit were unknown due to cloud cover obscuring the volcano, but on 15 April an overflight imaged the erupting caldera using radar (figure 10).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. This 15 April radar image of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption depicts the otherwise hidden scene at the cloud-covered summit caldera. The glacial snow and ice had deformed and melted, forming circular depressions (ice cauldrons) in the icecap's surface. Flooding from the melting glacier had led to the various features on and below the glacier to the N and S (illustrated by labels). The data were acquired via aircraft by the Icelandic Coast Guard during 1700-1800 on 15 April 2010. The glacier margin and surface contours came from a 2004 investigation. Courtesy of Icelandic Coast Guard and IES.

The 15 April radar image helped depict a series of vents along a 2-km-long, N-oriented fissure. Both on top of and from below, meltwater flowed down the N and S slopes. Jokulhlaups (floods of meltwater also carrying considerable debris) reached the lowlands around the volcano with peak flow around noon on 14 April, causing destruction of roads, infrastructure, and farmlands. Residents had earlier been evacuated from hazardous areas. Tephra fall began in SE Iceland. That evening, a second jokulhlaup emanated from the icecap down the Markarfljot valley, which trends E-W along the N margin of the volcano and contains extensive outwash from surrounding glaciers.

On 15 April the ash plume reached a maximum altitude of over 8 km. E-blown ash began to arrive over mainland Europe closing airspace over the British Isles and large parts of Northern Europe. Ash generation continued at a similar level. Meltwater emerged from the glacier in pulses. Debris-charged jokulhlaups were seen in the evening.

Chemical analyses of mid-April ash samples revealed fluorine-rich intermediate eruptive products with silica content of ~ 58%. The initial lavas erupted at Fimmvörðuháls had silica contents of ~ 48% (table 1).

References. Burton, M., Salerno, G., La Spina, A., Stefansson, A., and Kaasalainen, H., 2010, Gas composition and flux report, IES web site.

Laursen, L., 2010, Iceland eruptions fuel interest in volcanic gas monitoring: Science, v. 328, no. 5977, p. 410-411.

Sigmarsson, O., Óskarsson, N., Þórðarson, Þ., Larsen, and G., Höskuldsson, Á, 2010, Preliminary interpretations of chemical analysis of tephra from Eyjafjallajökull volcano (report on the IES website).

Wall, R., and Flottau, J., 2010. Out of the ashes: Rising losses and recriminations rile Europe's air transport sector: Aviation Week & Space Technology, v. 172, no. 16, p.23-25.

Further References. Dahm, T., and Brandsdóttir, B., 1997, Moment tensors of micro-earthquakes from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in South Iceland: Geophysical Journal International, v. 130, no.1, p. 183-192, DOI:10.1111/j.1365-246X.1997.tb00997.x.

Guðmundsson, M.T., and Gylfason, A.G., 2004, H?ttumat vegna eldgosa og hlaupa frá vestanverðum Mýrdalsjökli og Eyjafjallajökli. Háskólaútgáfan og Ríkislögreglustjórinn [Volcanic risk assessment run from Mýrdalsjökli and Eyjafjallajökull measurements]: University of Iceland and the National Police, 230 p.

Hjaltadottir, S., K. S. Vogfjord and R. Slunga, 2009, Seismic signs of magma pathways through the crust at Eyjafjallajokull volcanoe, South Iceland: Icelandic Meteorological Office report, VI 2009-013 (http://www.vedur.is/media/vedurstofan/utgafa/skyrslur/2009/VI_2009_013.pdf).

Hooper, A., Pedersen, R., and Sigmundsson, F., 2009, Constraints on magma intrusion at Eyjafjallajökull and Katla volcanoes in Iceland, from time series SAR interferometry, p. 13-24 in Bean, C.J., Braiden, A.K., Lokmer, I., Martini, F., and O'Brien, G.S., eds., The VOLUME project - Volcanoes: Understanding subsurface mass movement: School of Geological Sciences, University College Dublin.

Larsen, G., 1999, Gosi í Eyjafjallajökli 1821-1823 [The eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 1821-1823]: Science Institute Research Report RH-28-99, Reykjavík, 13 p.

Pedersen, R., Sigmundsson, F., and Einarsson, P., 2007, Controlling factors on earthquake swarms associated with magmatic intrusions; Constraints from Iceland: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 162, p. 73-80.

Pedersen, R., and Sigmundsson, F., 2004, InSAR based sill model links spatially offset areas of deformation and seismicity for the 1994 unrest episode at Eyjafjallajökull volcano, Iceland: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 31, L14610 doi: 10.1029/2004GL020368.

Pedersen, R., and Sigmundsson, F., 2006, Temporal development of the 1999 intrusive episode in the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, Iceland, derived from InSAR images: Bulletin Volcanology, v. 68, p. 377-393.

Sigmundsson, F., Geirsson, H., Hooper, A. J., Hjaltadottir, S., Vogfjord, K. S., Sturkell, E. C., Pedersen, R., Pinel, V., Fabien, A., Einarsson, P., Gudmundsson, M. T., Ofeigsson, B., and Feigl, K., 2009, Magma ascent at coupled volcanoes: Episodic magma injection at Katla and Eyjafjallajökull ice-covered volcanoes in Iceland and the onset of a new unrest episode in 2009: Eos (Transactions of the American Geophysical Union), v. 90, no. 52, Fall Meeting Supplement, Abstract V32B-03.

Sturkell, E., Einarsson, P., Sigmundsson, F., Hooper, A., Ófeigsson, B.G., Geirsson, H., and Ólafsson, H., 2009, Katla and Eyjafjallajökull volcanoes, p. 5-12 in Schomacker, A., Krüger. J., and Kjr, K.H., eds., The Mrdalsjökull Ice cap, Iceland - Glacial processes, sediments and landforms on an active volcano: Developments in Quaternary Sciences, v. 13.

Geologic Background. Eyjafjallajökull (also known as Eyjafjöll) is located west of Katla volcano. It consists of an elongated ice-covered stratovolcano with a 2.5-km-wide summit caldera. Fissure-fed lava flows occur on both the E and W flanks, but are more prominent on the western side. Although the volcano has erupted during historical time, it has been less active than other volcanoes of Iceland's eastern volcanic zone, and relatively few Holocene lava flows are known. An intrusion beneath the S flank from July-December 1999 was accompanied by increased seismic activity. The last historical activity prior to an eruption in 2010 produced intermediate-to-silicic tephra from the central caldera during December 1821 to January 1823.

Information Contacts: Nordic Volcanological Center, Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland, Sturlugata 7, Askja, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland (URL: http://www.earthice.hi.is/page/ies_volcanoes) [contributors:Páll Einarsson, ásta Rut Hjartardóttir, Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, Freysteinn Sigmundsson, Niels Oskarsson, Gudrun Larsen, Sigrun Hreinsdottir, Rikke Pedersen, Ingibjörg Jónsdóttir]; Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), Bústaðavegur 9, 150 Reykjavík, Iceland (URL: http://en.vedur.is/) [contributors:Steinunn Jakobsdóttir, Kristin S. Vogfjord, Sigurlaug Hjaltadottir, Gunnar B. Gudmundsson, Matthew J. Roberts]; The Environment Agency of Iceland, Sudurlandsbraut 24, 108 Reykjavik, Iceland (URL: http://english.ust.is/); NASA Earth Observatory (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/); London Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, Met Office, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, Devon EX1 3PB, United Kingdom (URL: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/aviation/vaac/).


Piton de la Fournaise (France) — March 2010 Citation iconCite this Report

Piton de la Fournaise

France

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity and eruptions January 2009 and November 2009-January 2010

Eruptions from Piton de la Fournaise resumed in September 2008 after more than 16 months of quiet (BGVN 34:02). Eruptive episodes inside Dolomeiu crater, as reported by the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPDLF), took during 21 September-2 October and on 28 November 2008, with a third that began on 15 December and continued into January 2009. This report presents observations from January 2009 through January 2010.

Eruptions during 21 September 2008-4 February 2009. Eruptive phases in September, November, and December 2008 were previously described (BGVN 34:02). OVPDLF reported that the episode that began on 14 December 2008 ended on 4 February 2009. During that eruption two vents were active; lava flowed to the bottom of Dolomieu crater through lava tubes and caused the crust over the pooled area to rise. Some incandescence was noted at night and at dawn. Eruption tremor was irregular until 1 January, when it suddenly stopped. Tremor gradually rose over the next few days, but to a relatively low level, where it remained steady until slowly dropping again in early February (figure 79). Lava flows from this eruption covered an area of approximately 420 x 220 m, with a thickness of 75 m (figure 80).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Tremor at Piton de la Fournaise, 14 December 2008-5 February 2009. Courtesy of OVPDLF.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Cumulative lava flows in Dolomieu crater at Piton de la Fournaise during the September 2008-February 2009 eruption. Flows covered 420 x 220 m to a depth of 75 m. Courtesy of OVPDLF.

Activity during October 2009-January 2010. The OVPDLF reported three eruptions from the summit region at the Dolomieu crater's W wall adjacent to Bory crater between November 2009 and January 2010. The flows traveled to the E down the steep cliff toward the crater floor. These eruptions began on 5 November 2009, lasting about two days; on 14 December 2009, lasting 6 hours; and on 2 January 2010, lasting 10 days.

During 5-13 October 2009, OVPDLF reported increased seismicity (figure 81). Seismicity from 14 to 17 October indicated deformation on the N side of, and rockfalls within, the Dolomieu crater. On 18 October another seismic crisis was noted along with deformation on the N and S sides of the Dolomieu crater. Aerial observations on 19 October revealed a small new fumarole in the crater. Unspecified changes in the chemical composition of the gases were also noted. On 20 October rockfalls occured in greater number and longer duration than in previous days.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. A graph showing the number of volcano-tectonic earthquakes/day registered between 1 July 2009 and 26 January 2010 at Piton de la Fournaise. Horizontal bars indicate eruptions. Courtesy OVPDLF.

On 4 November 2009 a magnitude 3 earthquake at 0604 was felt by some residents of the southern part of the island. Such a magnitude is uncommon at this volcano. Seismologists at the Observatory located the earthquake at 750 m below sea level, under the southwestern edge of the Dolomieu crater. Later that day, 167 earthquakes of lesser magnitude followed. The focal depths rose to ~ 1 km above sea level with epicenters below the summit.

OVPDLF reported that 30 minutes after an intense seismic event on 5 November, a tremor signal characteristic of the beginning of an eruption occurred, and a vent opened inside the southern part of the Dolomieu crater. Within another 30 minutes, a fissure on the upper SE flank propagated E, and a second fissure opened on the E flank.

Lava fountains ~ 20 m high and flows were emitted from both fissures. The glowing lava was visible from the edge of the Enclos Fouqué and from the road in the Grand Brulé. Beginning around 1500, there was a gradual decrease in the intensity of the eruption. At 0645 on 6 November, a reconnaissance was conducted by a helicopter supplied by the National Gendarmerie, which confirmed that two fissures were open in the S side, S and E of the Dolomieu summit crater. Each emitted a lava flow descending to ~ 1,970 m elevation. As of 0730 that day, the lava ceased flowing, with a gradual decrease in the intensity of the eruption tremor.

At 1730 on 14 December a seismic event preceded a rise in summit deformation (8 cm horizontal). Eruptive tremor began at 1830, and an eruption began at 1845. A system of sub-parallel fissures along the summit of Dolomieu crater fed lava flows on the S slope of the volcano, inside the Enclos Fouqué. A second fissure system opened on the E flank of the Dolomieu summit crater at 2025, and lava flows advanced down the eastern slope. This eruption ended at 0040 after a gradual decrease in magma supply. On 15 December, a visible degassing in the S and SE fissures was associated with low-intensity eruptive tremor. All of the lava flows were confined to high portions of the S and SE slopes.

Fissure-fed fountaining sent lava flows down the S flank on 14 December 2009. Another seismic event on 29 December was characterized by numerous earthquakes up to M 3 in the area W and NW of Dolomieu crater at depths of 1.1-2.2 km below the summit. Deformation was also detected. OVPDLF reported decreased seismicity and fewer landslides within Dolomieu crater on 30 and 31 December.

On 2 January 2010 a fissure eruption near the top of the W crater rim (figure 82) was preceded by a seismic event and another 3 cm of horizontal deformation. Lava fountains rose a few tens of meters high and sent lava flows into Dolomieu crater, and ash and gas plumes rose above Piton de la Fournaise. Large landslides also occurred in Bory crater (W). During 2-3 January, seismicity and the number of landslides decreased. A series of ash plumes was noted through 12 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. Dolomieu crater on 2 January from its W rim showing lava flows and fountains. The dense gray plume was attributed to collapse along the steep crater wall. Courtesy of OVPDLF.

As of 4 January, the lava flows covered about 80% of the crater floor. Lava fountaining was still visible during 5-7 January and continued to erupt from a vent along a fissure high on the SW Dolomieu crater wall. The vent produced lava fountains and flows that pooled in the bottom of the crater. On 7 January the vent closed, but the previously erupted lava continued to flow for the next few days (figure 83). Seismicity decreased on 12 January and only minor gas emissions persisted. Figure 82 shows the lava flow along the axis where extensive glowing flows were visible. Some flows around this time were fed by lava tubes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. A photo taken on the morning of 7 January 2010 of the lava vent flows from the W wall adjacent to Bory crater at Piton de la Fournaise. Courtesy of Undervol, OVPDLF.

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

Information Contacts: Laurent Michon and Patrick Bachélery, Laboratoire GéoSciences Réunion, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Université de La Réunion, CNRS, UMR 7154-Géologie des Systèmes Volcaniques, La Réunion, France; Guillaume Levieux, Thomas Staudacher, and Valérie Ferrazzini, Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPDLF), Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 14 route nationale 3, 27ème km, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr/ovpf/actualites-ovpf/).


Santa Maria (Guatemala) — March 2010 Citation iconCite this Report

Santa Maria

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continuing frequent ash explosions through 2008-2009

Ongoing volcanism, including ash explosions, pyroclastic flows, avalanches, and lahars had continued through November 2007 at Santa Maria (BGVN 32:10). Subsequent activity has been closely monitored by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia, e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH), with input from the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Activity during 2008. On 11 January 2008, INSIVUMEH reported constant avalanches of blocks from the lava flows on the W and SW flanks of Santa María's Santiaguito lava dome complex. Weak-to-moderate explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 4.1-4.5 km and drifted SW. On 6 February, weak explosions generated white columns of water and steam and ash that rose ~ 200 m above the crater rim. There were also a few avalanches onto the W flank lava flow. Degassing on 8 February was characterized by steam and gray plumes of fine ash on the SW flank. A significant magmatic explosion that threw fine ash up to ~ 5 km altitude and drifted ~ 4 km to the SW was followed by weak explosions of steam and ash. Avalanches of blocks from the crater rim on 12 February reached the lava flows on the S and SW flanks. Two moderate explosions expelled gray ash up to ~ 4 km altitude that dispersed to the SW.

The Washington VAAC (based on satellite imagery) reported that ash "puffs" from the Santiaguito lava dome complex rose ~ 4.5 km and drifted SW on 1 April, and then rose ~ 4 km and drifted W on 2 April. During 3-7 April, small explosions produced ash plumes; ashfall was reported in surrounding areas. This was followed on 15 April by three explosions expelling ash 300-900 m above the volcano and dispersing 5 km to the SW. Constant avalanches occurred to the W and SW. On 18 April another volcanic ash emission was reported by the Washington VAAC which rose to ~ 4.8 km, drifted SW, and extended ~ 30 km. More weak to moderate explosions occurred on 21 April which expelled gray ash clouds 300-800 m above the crater rim that drifted E. This activity was repeated on 25 April; the Washington VAAC reported an ash emission which rose to ~ 4.8 km and drifted ~ 13 km SW. On 28 April explosions sent ash plumes to an altitude of 4.1 km that drifted W.

Based on observations of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that ash puffs from the Santiaguito complex drifted NW on 13 May. On 22 May, two explosions were heard and gray ash emissions rose ~ 300-600 m above the crater rim and drifted S and SW, depositing ash in the Palajunoj area. Avalanches of blocks on the SW flanks were seen and heard. A lahar descended the Nima I River to the S on 25 May.

On 3 June, a Special Bulletin was issued to warn of the potential high water conditions in the Nimá I, Nimá II, San Isidro, Drum, Samala, rivers as a result of heavy rains in the area. On 5 June, avalanches were heard on the flanks of the volcano and overflows into the Samal and Mulu Rivers were reported. A lahar on 9 June about 15 m wide and up to 2 m deep descended the Nima I River, carrying blocks up to 1 m in diameter, and smelling of sulfur.

During the morning of 19 June, six weak-to-moderate explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.8-3.3 km and drifted SW and S. An incandescent lava flow accompanied by constant avalanches of blocks descended the SW flank. On 20 June, five weak-to-moderate explosions expelled gray ash up to ~ 600-800 m above the crater, spreading to the SW over the area of Palajunoj. The lava flow to the SW continued and incandescent lava could be seen at night, accompanied by constant avalanches of blocks and fine ash. A lahar traveled S down the Nima I river, carrying blocks up to 1 m in diameter. These conditions continued through 24 June.

On 4 July, an explosion produced an ash plume that rose to an altitude of 3.3 km and drifted SW. A lahar traveled S down the Nima I River, carrying tree limbs and blocks up to 50 cm in diameter. On 7-8 July, sounds resembling avalanches descending the flanks were reported; visual observations were hindered due to cloud cover. On 22 July seismic stations detected a lahar in the Nima I river. Explosions observed on 23, 28, and 29 July from the Caliente cone produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.8-3.3 km and drifted SW and W. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind. A lava flow and avalanches of blocks descended the SW flank. On 28 July, weak pyroclastic flows also traveled down the SW flank.

During 21-26 August, explosions from the Caliente cone, part of the Santiaguito complex, produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.8-3.3 km and drifted S, SW, and W. Constant degassing from the crater was noted.

On 10 September seismic stations detected a lahar in the Nima I River. The lahar, about 18 m wide and up to 2 m deep, carried blocks and smelled of sulfur. During 11-16 September, explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.8-3.3 km and drifted SW; on 18 September, the Washington VAAC reported that an ash plume rose to an altitude of 4.3 km and drifted SSW. On 24 September explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.8 km and drifted SW. Avalanches of material from lava flows descended the SW flank.

On 11 and 15 November, the Washington VAAC reported that ash puffs drifted SW. On 12 December, explosions from the Caliente dome produced an ash plume that rose to an altitude of 3.2 km and drifted SW; the Washington VAAC reported a plume to an altitude of 5.8 km. On 16 December, two ash puffs drifted W and WNW at altitudes of 4.3-4.6 km. The Washington VAAC again reported that during 17-20 and 22 December ash plumes drifted SW, W, and NW; plumes rose to an altitude of 5.8 km. On 22 December, white plumes drifted SW and avalanches occurred from the crater rim. On 23 December a small ash plume drifted NW and explosions resulted in pyroclastic flows. Ash plumes rose to an altitude of 3.3 km and drifted S and SW. On 25 December a puff of ash drifted WNW.

Activity during 2009. Activity continued into 2009 and the Washington VAAC reported that two small ash plumes drifted ESE on 1 January. During 4-5 January, gas and steam plumes possibly containing some ash drifted SW and WSW. On 5 and 6 January fumarolic plumes drifted 100 m above the crater. Five explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.8-3 km and drifted W and SE. A few avalanches originating from a lava flow descended the W flank. Explosions during 30 January-3 February produced plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.6-3.2 km and drifted W, SW, and S. Avalanches that were periodically incandescent descended the S and W flanks of Caliente lava dome.

The Washington VAAC reported that on 4 February multiple ash puffs drifted W. Explosions on 6 February produced plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.8-3.1 km and also drifted SW. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind. Ash puffs on 12 February drifted WSW and W. On 16-17 February, explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.7-3.3 km and drifted SW. Small pyroclastic flows on 16 February descended the SE flank and reached the Nima I River. Incandescent avalanches were noted on 17 February and fumarolic plumes drifted SW.

On 18 February, a dense ash plume drifted W, and on the 20th an explosion sent an ash plume to an altitude of 3.2 km that drifted E. On 24 February, an explosion produced a white plume that rose 500 m above the summit and drifted SW. Incandescence was seen SW of Caliente dome. On 26-27 February and 2 March, explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.8-3.4 km and drifted SW. Ashfall was reported in nearby areas. Avalanches were seen SW of the Caliente dome.

Based on satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that during 4-6 March ash plumes drifted W. On 6 and 10 March, ash plumes rose to 2.8-3.4 km and drifted SW, NW, and N. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind. On 12, 16, and 17 March, explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.7-3.5 km and drifted E and SW. A few avalanches originated from an active lava flow and traveled down the SW flank. On 12 March an ash plume drifted S, and on 15 March, an ash plume rose to an altitude of 3 km and drifted SW and WSW.

During 24-28 April explosions produced ash plumes that drifted 5-8 km WSW, although the number of explosions had decreased during the previous few weeks. On 5, 8, and 9 June ash plumes rose to altitudes of 2.8-3.3 km and drifted SW. Gas plumes that were sometimes gray rose ~ 300-600 m above the Caliente dome, and avalanches descended the S and W flanks. On 26 and 29 June explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.9-3.3 km and drifted W and SW.

On 26 June, the seismic network detected a lahar that traveled S down the Nima I River. Steam plumes and a sulfur odor rose from the deposits. The lahar was 15 m wide and 1 m thick at the toe, and carried blocks up to 1.5 m in diameter. On 2 July lahars descended both the Nimá I and Nimá II rivers, carrying tree branches and blocks 50-75 cm in diameter. The lahars were 15 and 20 m wide.

On 6 July, explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.8-3.2 km and drifted W. On 31 July and 3 August, explosions produced ash plumes, and the Caliente lava dome was incandescent. On 3 August, ash plumes rose to an altitude of 3.1 km and drifted W. Fumarolic plumes rose 200 m above the dome and rumbling noises were occasionally heard.

On 28 August, another explosion was noted. On 1 September, fumarolic plumes rose 150 m above Caliente dome and drifted SW and avalanches descended the SW flank of the dome. On 14 September an explosion produced an ash plume that rose to an altitude of 3.3 km. The plume drifted SW and caused ashfall. Avalanches went to the SW.

The Washington VAAC reported that on 22 October multiple ash plumes drifted less than 20 km SW. On 23 and 26 October, explosions produced ash plumes that rose above Caliente dome to altitudes of 3-3.3 km. The plumes drifted W and SE and caused ashfall. Avalanches descended the SW flank of the dome. Degassing sounds resembling airplane engines were also heard.

On 6 November, an explosion produced a plume that rose 900 m and drifted SW. The Washington VAAC reported that on 8 November a small gas plume possibly containing ash drifted less than 10 km SSW. Another small plume was seen later that day. On 13 November, a plume drifted SW. Avalanches descended the SW flank of the dome and the Washington VAAC reported that on 16 November multiple ash plumes drifted WSW.

On 20 November, two explosions produced an ash plume that drifted SW. Avalanches descended the SW flank of the dome. An explosion on 24 November produced an ash plume the rose to an altitude of 3.3 km and drifted SE. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind.

On 11, 14, and 15 December, explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.8-3.5 km and drifted W and SW. Avalanches occasionally descended the SE flank of the dome. On 15 December, explosions generated pyroclastic flows that descended the E and SW flanks. On 30 December explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 3-3.4 km and drifted W and SW. The Washington VAAC reported that ash plumes seen on satellite imagery drifted more than 30 km WSW. Avalanches occasionally descended the SW flank of the dome.

Activity during January-April 2010. Incandescent avalanches traveled down the SW flanks on 8 January 2010. A few explosions on 5 and 11-12 January produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 3.1-3.4 km and drifted S, SE, and SW. Avalanches from a lava flow descended the W flank of the dome. On 21 January ashfall was reported in areas near the Santiaguito complex. The next day an explosion produced an ash plume that rose to an altitude of 3.2 km and drifted SW. An ash plume seen on satellite imagery drifted less than 10 km.

On 2 and 4 March, explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.7-3.1 km and drifted E and NE. Ash fell in areas downwind. Ash fell in inhabited areas downwind. The Washington VAAC reported that on 8 March an ash plume was seen in satellite imagery drifting WNW. On 29 March, explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 3-3.3 km and drifted W over inhabited areas. Avalanches from a lava flow descended the SW flank. On 30 March a diffuse ash plume was seen in satellite imagery.

On 20 April, explosions produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2.8-3.4 km and drifted S and SE. On 26 April, ash explosions and pyroclastic flows generated ash plumes that rose to an altitude of 8.3 km and drifted NW and N. Ashfall was reported in Quetzaltenango (18 km WNW) and other areas to the W, NW, and N. According to news articles, schools in 10 communities were closed and flights were banned within a 20-km-radius of the volcano.

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanología, Meteorología, e Hidrologia (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/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/); Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED), Av. Hincapié; 21-72, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.conred.org/).


Sheveluch (Russia) — March 2010 Citation iconCite this Report

Sheveluch

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Near-constant dome growth during May 2008 through March 2010

Volcanism at Shiveluch that has been almost continuous since 1980 remained so from May 2008 through March 2010. During that time the lava dome was active and frequently growing, and produced moderate and weak explosions (figure 18). The most active phases took place during July-October 2008, March-April 2009, and November-December 2009 (figure 19).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. (top) A panoramic view Shiveluch looking N on 27 August 2009. The "Young Shiveluch" lava dome is degassing. (bottom) A photo taken at night on 15 September 2009 from the same perspective as the photo on left, showing lava traveling down the dome's S flank. Both photos taken from Kliuchi by Yuri Demyanchuk, IVS RAS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Plots for Shiveluch indicating the number the thermal anomaly pixels from satellite observations (top plot) and numbers of earthquakes originating in or adjacent to the dome (lower plot) during May 2008 to March 2010. The arrows show the observed explosions during good visibility. The ash cloud icons indicate the most significance events (ash plumes extending more then 50 km based on satellite images). Data from KB GS RAS.

During the two years discussed, there were many short-lived ash plumes (1-3 km above the dome), ash clouds produced by rockfalls and avalanches, and strong explosions that generated long-distance plumes (those with 'ash cloud' symbols above the arrows, figure 19). The large explosive eruptions of 26 April and 23 June 2009 sent respective ash plumes to 510 km and 754 km distances (table 8). The day after the earlier event, there was clear visibility on 27 April (figure 20).

Table 8. Significant explosions and ash plumes recorded at Shiveluch from May 2008 to March 2010. Plumes lower than ~1.2 km above the dome and seen for less than 10 km from the vent were omitted. Data courtesy of KVERT.

Date Plume altitude (m) Plume extension (km)
14 May 2008 5800 --
20 May 2008 5500 --
27 May 2008 3600 --
25 Jun 2008 4200 --
13 Sep 2008 6500 100 km NE
28 Sep 2008 5000 --
01 Oct 2008 -- 70 km S, W
14 Oct 2008 6000 --
16 Oct 2008 4500 --
19 Oct 2008 -- 30 km E
20 Oct 2008 -- 62 km E
05-06 Nov 2008 4000 --
04 Dec 2008 -- 25 km NE
17 Jan 2009 -- 10 km E
20 Jan 2009 4500 --
25 Feb 2009 5500 --
04 Mar 2009 4700 --
10 Mar 2009 6000 --
24 Mar 2009 7500 --
27-29 Mar 2009 -- 10 km SE
04 Apr 2009 4500 --
05 Apr 2009 -- 10 km E
15, 22 Apr 2009 4000 --
25 Apr 2009 6700 50 km SE
26 Apr 2009 5000 510 km SE
27-29 Apr 2009 5000 107-120 km NE
13 May 2009 5000 --
22 May 2009 4000 --
10 Jun 2009 7700 --
11 Jun 2009 4500 140 km SW
13-14 Jun 2009 5500-6100 --
18 Jun 2009 5700 --
20 Jun 2009 5000 --
23 Jun 2009 -- 754 km S
24 Jun 2009 -- 28 km NW
25 Jun 2009 -- 95 km
03 Jul 2009 -- 20 km SE
18 Jul 2009 -- 34 km E
24 Jul 2009 5000 --
27 Jul 2009 5000 10 km E
02 Aug 2009 -- 23 km E
15 Aug 2009 4500 --
31 Aug 2009 -- 107 km E
02 Sep 2009 -- 20 km S
11 Sep 2009 15000 --
18-19 Sep 2009 5000-5500 --
20 Sep 2009 -- 30 km NW
22 Sep 2009 4500 70 km SW
29 Sep 2009 -- 45 km E
02-03 Oct 2009 -- 30-60 km SE
30 Oct 2009 -- 255 km E
04-05 Nov 2009 4200-4500 --
10 Mar 2010 5500 --
11 Mar 2010 -- 10 km E
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Strong explosion on 26 April 2009 at Shiveluch produced a pyroclastic flow on the S slope and a resulting ash plume that extended 120 km to the NE. Photo by Yuri Demyanchuk, IVS RAS.

KVERT noted that on 11 September 2009 there were strong explosions. Based on interpretations of seismic data, the inferred ash plumes that day rose to an altitude greater than 15 km above sea level. The seismic network then detected 8 minutes of signals interpreted as pyroclastic flows from the lava dome; resulting plumes rose to an altitude of ~ 15 km. Cloud cover prevented visual observations. Ten more events characterized as ash explosions and either pyroclastic flows or avalanches were detected. Seismicity then decreased during 11-12 September. A visit during clear visibility on 13 September revealed fresh pyroclastic-flow deposits (figure 21).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. The light area on this 13 September 2009 photo represents fresh pyroclastic-flow deposits on Shiveluch. The deposits covered the apron and extended 5 km S. Dotted-line indicates the approximate profile of the lava dome of Young Shiveluch. Photo by Yuri Demyanchuk, IVS RAS.

Seismicity. Extended intervals of low-level seismicity were detected at the dome in May and June 2008, during May to October 2009, and to some extent from January through March 2010 (figure 19, bottom). A plot of regional seismicity during December 2009-5 April 2010 in a 70-km-diameter circle around Shiveluch (figure 22) indicates SW-dipping epicenters that rise to shallow depths under Shiveluch (and similarly for other volcanoes in the Kliuchevskoi group).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Regional seismicity recorded during 19 December 2009 to 4 April 2010, presented in three panels. (a) A map of the region showing location and depths of earthquakes (white line is trace of cross-section AB), and the 70-km-diameter circle enclosing Shiveluch with epicenters of earthquakes plotted in (c). (b) Earthquakes projected onto the vertical plane of cross section AB. (c) Histogram showing Shiveluch's daily earthquakes with respect to time (bar height shows class (Ks) from seismic amplitude, after S.A. Fedotov), ascending curve is the cumulative number of earthquakes. Courtesy of KB GS RAS.

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

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (IV&S) Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences (FED RAS), Kamchatka Branch of the Geophysical Service of the Russian Academy of Sciences (KB GS RAS), Piip Ave. 9, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs, http://www.emsd.ru/~ssl/monitoring/main.htm); Yuri Demyanchuk, IV&S FED RAS; 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/), the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA.


Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — March 2010 Citation iconCite this Report

Soufriere Hills

United Kingdom

16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava dome growth continuing; pyroclastic flows reached the ocean

Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) reported a strong increase in dome growth at Soufrière Hills (figure 82) and energetic explosive activity, including pyroclastic flows and substantial ash clouds, during the 6 months ending early April 2010 (the end of this reporting interval). Energetic extrusions were particularly noteworthy during January and February 2010 (table 69). From mid-December 2009 through early April 2010 there was continuing seismicity and gas emissions (table 70) as well as weekly ash emissions and pyroclsatic flows (table 71). Partial dome collapse on 11 February 2010 led to a plume that rose to ~15 km altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. Map of Montserrat showing the pre-eruption topography of Soufrière Hills. The black circle shows the location of the MVO. The approximate outline of the Tar River delta in July 2004 is shown. Courtesy of Wadge and others (2005).

Table 69. Key features of the five Vulcanian explosions that occurred at Soufriere Hills in January and February 2010. Units in valley columns are pyroclastic-f low runout distances in kilometers. From Cole and others (2010) with due credit to Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) for satellite and aviation-based plume altitude estimates.

Date Time (local) Lapilli Fallout Plume White's Bottom Ghaut Tar River Valley Farrells Plain Tyers Ghaut/Belham Valley Gages Gingoes Ghaut White River
08 Jan 2010 1449-1500 No: Ash from PFs 7.6 km (25,000 ft) 4.7 2 2 5.8 4 2.6 1.5
10 Jan 2010 0128-0135 Not known 6.7 km (22,000 ft) >2 -- 1.5 2.5 3 -- --
10 Jan 2010 2027-2031 Yes: pumice 5.5 km (18,000 ft) 1.5 2 -- -- -- -- --
05 Feb 2010 1349-1356 Yes: non-pumiceous 6.7 km (22,000 ft) 1.5 2 1.5 2 4 1.5 1.5
08 Feb 2010 1957-2003 Not known 4.6 km (15,000 ft) -- -- -- -- 3.5 -- --

Table 70. Soufrière Hills seismicity and gas measurements from weekly reports between 4 December 2009 and 19 March 2010. MVO seismicity terminology as follows: Rockfall signals (featureless, high-frequency events, which correlate to large rockfalls from the dome); Volcano-tectonic (high frequencies >5 Hz, often impulsive P-phases and usually clear S-phases); Long-period (generally phaseless events with predominant frequency ~1 Hz); Hybrid (repetitive transient events of intermediate frequency, 3-5 Hz, without discernible S-phases; initial high-frequency waveforms at some stations) (MVO, 1996). Numbers refer to the total over the period indicated. Hydrochloric acid/sulfur dioxide ratios (HCl/SO2) are derived from Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) gas measurements. Cycles of activity refer to rockfalls, ash venting, and pyroclastic flows. "--" indicates that data was not reported. Courtesy of MVO.

Date Rockfall signals Long-period EQ's Volcano-tectonic EQ's Hybrid EQ's Observations
04 Dec-11 Dec 2009 957 207 3 6 Activity (pyroclastic flow, ash venting, rock falls, etc.) continued in cycles more irregular in time in the last few days; 10 Dec-hazard level raised from 3 to 4.
11 Dec-18 Dec 2009 977 134 3 58 Cycles of activity continue, varying between 5 and 6 hours; intensity of cycles decreased slightly through the week, however an increase in intensity occurred after about 1600 on 17 Dec.
18 Dec-24 Dec 2009 594 154 3 25 Cycles of activity with periods between 6 and 7 hours; heavy ashfall NW Montserrat.
24 Dec-31 Dec 2009 270 52 -- 6 Cycles of activity with periods between 6 and 8 hours.
31 Dec-08 Jan 2010 135 73 1 16 Cycles of activity with periods between 8 and 10 hours; ashfall in Old Towns, Salem, Olveston, Woodlands.
08 Jan-15 Jan 2010 68 25 2 10 Three explosions occurred during the week (1449 on 8 Jan, and 0128 and 2027 on 10 Jan), each accompanied by seismic signals that lasted 11, 7, and 4 minutes, respectively; ash plumes reached altitudes of 7.6, 6.7, and 5.5 km, respectively.
15 Jan-22 Jan 2010 196 38 -- 18 Cycles of activity with 6-8-hour periods; several houses buried and set on fire in Kinsale; ash clouds associated with pyroclastic flows reached 3-km altitude. Hybrid swarm of seven larger quakes on 20 Jan.
22 Jan-29 Jan 2010 565 113 2 18 Cycles of activity with periods between 5 and 7 hours; 25 Jan-heavy rain caused vigorous steaming of hot pyroclastic flows.
29 Jan-05 Feb 2010 552 87 6 64 Cycles of activity with periods between 7 and 12 hours. On 5 Feb a 30-m-high pyramidal-shaped extrusion was first seen; although it temporarily put the summit elevation at 1,170 m, it was destroyed by an explosion at 1349 that day; resulting pyroclastic surges moved NW across the sea near Plymouth.
05 Feb-12 Feb 2010 512 141 4 82 Two explosions on 5 and 8 Feb; 11 Feb-partial dome collapse, plume rose to altitude of ~15.2 km.
12 Feb-19 Feb 2010 53 34 1 4 17 Feb data consistent with quite slow extrusion of lava; MVO not yet able to make observations into the deep crater at the dome summit. HCl/SO2 = 0.76 (17 Feb).
19 Feb-26 Feb 2010 11 -- -- 6 23 Feb-hazard level lowered from 4 to 3. HCl/SO2 = 0.74 (19 Feb); 0.7 (22 Feb).
26 Feb-05 Mar 2010 7 1 -- 9 Swarm of 7 hybrids on 4 Mar. HCl/SO2 = 0.81 (1 Mar); 0.71 (2 Mar); 0.98 (4 Mar).
05 Mar-12 Mar 2010 47 9 2 7 Hybrid swarm of 6 on 11 Mar
12 Mar-19 Mar 2010 41 3 -- 7 17 Mar- SO2 flux 2,315 tons/day. HCl/SO2 = 0.6
19 Mar-26 Mar 2010 28 3 1 3 Avg. SO2 flux 342 tons/day
26 Mar-02 Apr 2010 17 -- -- 1 Avg. SO2 flux 194 tons/day
02 Apr-09 Apr 2010 9 1 3 3 3-day avg. SO2 flux 376 tons/day

Table 71. Brief summary of dome emissions compiled from MVO reports, 4 December 2009-1 April 2010. Date entries indicated with a * are discussed in the text. Courtesy of MVO.

Date Dome Activity Location of pyroclastic flows (PF) and rockfalls (RF) (runout distance from dome)
11 Dec-31 Dec 2009 Hottest and most active areas located on NW flank. Whites Ghaut to Whites Bottom Ghaut to the sea (4 km); Tyres Ghaut (~1-2 km); Gages valley (~2 km); Tar River valley; Gingoes Ghaut; Farrells plain, Dyers village (~2.5 km), Spring Ghaut.
31 Dec-08 Jan 2010 Growth on N side; 2 January-40-m high, 150-m wide lobe of lava extruded onto dome. Whites Ghaut, Farrells plain, Tyers Ghaut.
08 Jan-15 Jan 2010 * NE flank; 2 Jan-40-m high, 150-mwide lobe of lava extruded onto N summit of dome; 11 Jan-dome growth resumed on top, central part of dome. 8 Jan-collapsing fountain of tephra generated PF down Whites Bottom Ghaut, Tuitts Ghaut (within several hundred meters of the sea), Tyers Ghaut, Belham valley, Tar River valley; 10 Jan-explosion produced PF down Whites Bottom and Tuitts Ghaut, Tyers Ghaut, Gages valley.
15 Jan-22 Jan 2010 * 18 Jan-partial dome collapse on W side of dome. 18 Jan-PF reached sea down Aymers Ghaut (Gages valley to Spring Ghaut to Aymers Ghaut); houses inundated/burned in Kinsale.
22 Jan-29 Jan 2010 Dome growth on SE side of summit; NE side of summit has steep, vertical walls; NW part more rounded. Increase in PF in Tar River valley (several reached sea); Whites Ghaut; heavy rain on 25 caused vigorous steaming of hot PF in Belham valley; some lahars formed.
29 Jan-05 Feb 2010 5 Feb-central W part of lava dome grew to altitude of ~1,070 m. Gages valley to Spring Ghaut (~2-3 km; head of Springs Ghaut neearly full of PF deposits), Whites Ghaut.
05 Feb-12 Feb 2010 * W side of dome; 9 Feb-activity shifted to N side of dome; 11 Feb-partial dome collapse, scar ~300 m wide on N flank of volcano (MVO-"largest event for volcano since May 2006"). 5 Feb-volcanian explosion sent PF to Plymouth and into sea ~500 m, Tyers Ghaut (~2 km), Whites Ghaut, plume to ~8.4 km altitude; 8 Feb-small vulcanian explosion generated PF down Gages valley (over 2 km altitude), plume to ~5 km drifted E and ENE to Antigua; 11 Feb-PF reached on E side of island (coastline extended E ~650 meters at airport), Tyers Ghaut into Belham valley.
12 Feb-19 Feb 2010 Low activity, some incandescence on dome. PF deposits ~15 m thick in Trant's region, PF razed many buildings in Harris and Streatham.
19 Feb-26 Feb 2010 Low activity. --
26 Feb-05 Mar 2010 26 Feb-crater at summit of dome less than 100 m deep and ~200 m wide. 4 Mar-Tar River valley.
05 Mar-12 Mar 2010 * Moderate activity. 8-9 Mar-rainfall caused degradation of dome; Gages valley (~2 km).
12 Mar-19 Mar 2010 * Low activity; some incandescence on 14 Mar. --
19 Mar-26 Mar 2010 Low activity. 25 Mar-Spring Ghaut (~2 km).
26 Mar-02 Apr 2010 Low activity. --
02 Apr-09 Apr 2010 Low activity; some incandescence on dome. Lahars in Farm River and Trant's area.

MVO issued a synthesis to the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) on volcanism between 15 August 2009 and 28 February 2010 (Cole and others, 2010). That report figures heavily in the following summary, but the included tables and comments also came from MVO reports, and there is a section on satellite thermal monitoring. Two similar earlier reports were published in 2009 (Robertson and others, 2009 and Stewart and others, 2009).

Since the dome remained active and at the same time represented the volcano's highest point, the summit elevation varied. The historical value of 915 m was a high point on the crater rim. Cole and others (2010) noted that the dome's summit was 1,050 m in September 2009, with the elevation being 1,130 m on 29 January 2010. Some taller heights involved blocky spines that did not last.

Extrusive Phase 5 activity. Extrusive Phase 4 finished on 3 January 2009 and was followed by 10 months of comparative inactivity with intermittent small pyroclastic flows and ash venting 5-7 October (BGVN 34:10). Phase 5 occurred from 4 October 2009 to 11 February 2010 (figure 83). Seismic records enabled MVO to subdivide this phase into three episodes of inferred dome growth as follows: 9 October-20 November 2009 (Episode 1); 20 November 2009-8 January 2010 (Episode 2); and 8 January-11 February 2010 (Episode 3). Cole and others (2010) noted that "A characteristic feature of Phase 5 dome growth has been the simultaneous occurrence of PFs in more than one direction, sometimes on the opposite side of the lava dome." Throughout Phase 5, ash often fell on inhabited areas.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Rockfall and pyroclastic flow data from the Phase 5 interval (3 October 2009 to 14 February 2010) at Soufriere Hills. Pyroclastic flows were observed by MVO staff, mainly during work hours, with each assigned to one of six drainages (flow directions) and to one of three sizes (the symbol size is proportional to the PF's size). Daily counts of rockfalls and long-period earthquakes and rockfalls (LP/RF) were determined by inspection of seismic signals (from station MBFL located at MVO). From Cole and others (2010).

Phase 5 began with a swarm of 24 volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes and ash venting. Gas fluxes had been low for two days prior to the onset of activity. The dome variously grew to the S, W, and N, and pyroclastic flows traveled in many directions. The eruptive style was described as "ash venting" rather than "explosions" due to the mild character of the associated seismic signals and the absence of ballistic fragments. Fallout deposits included comparatively coarse, well-sorted ash.

October dome growth mostly occurred on the S, with shed material filling the upper part of the SW flank's White River and covering what had stood as a protective wall for material traveling WSW. As a result, for the first time, substantial pyroclastic flows entered the WSW flank's Gingoes and Aymer's Ghauts, reaching the sea there with runout distances of over 4 km in those drainages.

Cyclic episodes of tremor occurred particularly during episode 2. On 23 November tremor occurred all day; it then waned and began to appear in cycles at 4-hour intervals, initially with signals of long-period and hybrid earthquakes. The tremor appeared associated with increased venting lasting 0.5-2 hours with plume heights to 5 km altitude. At 0640 on 10 December 2009, a large pyroclastic flow traveled down Tyers (Tyres) Ghaut and reached ~3.5 km from the lava dome.

Vigorous Vulcanian explosions occurred on five occasions during January-February 2010 (table 69), episode 3. All of these involved collapsing ash columns, producing fountain collapse pyroclastic flows that typically descended more than one ghaut. One explosion on 8 January, the largest by volume during January-February, sent a pyroclastic flow ~ 6 km down the Belham Valley. Two more Vulcanian explosions occurred during the night on 10 January.

Dome collapse of 11 February 2010. A large dome collapse took place in the early afternoon of 11 February, one day after a shift in dome-growth direction, and had several pulses. The collapse comprised 40-50 million cubic meters of material, and represented roughly 20% of the dome's total volume. A collapse scar ~ 300 m wide developed on the N flank of the dome. The collapse ended with vertically-directed explosions that created a new crater behind the collapsed part of the dome.

The collapse produced large pyroclastic flows and surges, mainly to the N and NE, that extended the E coastline (between Trants and Spanish Point), adding ~1 km2 of new land. Two smaller flows also traveled NW and entered the Belham Valley.

A large ash column resulted from the collapse that reached ~15 km altitude, causing extensive ashfall on Guadeloupe (~60 km SE) and other parts of the eastern Caribbean. After 11 February, both seismicity and surface activity quieted but deep deformation returned. Gas measurements also indicated that the system remained active.

Pyroclastic flows traveled N and NE toward the old airport. The extensive pyroclastic-flow deposits extended the coastline 300-400 m out to sea. The coastal area impacted extended from Whites Bottom Ghaut to Trants Bay, just N of the old Bramble airport (figures 84 and 85). The effects were clearly visible on the NE flanks. Some flows, ~ 15 m thick, reached the sea at Trant's Bay. These flows extended the island's coastline up to 650 m to the E.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Two false-color satellite images, taken nearly 3 years apart at Soufriere Hills highlight the impact of the dome collapse of 11 February 2010. The image on the right is from 21 February 2010; the image on the left is from 17 March 2007. In colored versions of this image, red areas are vegetated, clouds are white, blue/black areas are ocean water, and gray areas are flow deposits. The large collapse scar on the N flank of the dome is visible (arrow). Several of the ghauts (valleys) on the SW side can be seen to have been nearly filled by pyroclastic flow deposits between October 2009 and February 2010. Images courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. Taken one week after the events of 11 February 2010 at Soufrière Hills, this aerial photograph shows the new pyroclastic flows at Spanish Point. Courtesy of MVO.

Towards the end of the collapse there was an energetic pyroclastic flow directed N over Streatham and Harris. This sent flows over the Harris Ridge into Bugby Hole and down the Farm River (~3.5 km from the dome) for the first time. The flows razed many buildings in both Harris and Streatham down to their foundations, and trees were felled by pyroclastic surges in the Gun Hill area and at the head of Farm River in Bugby Hole.

It was unclear whether there was any new dome growth within the crater during the week after the collapse. Night-time views of the dome revealed several small points of incandescence. Observations of the crater at the summit of the dome on 26 February found that it was then 50-100 m deep and ~200 m wide (figure 86). There was no newly extruded lava visible inside the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Views of the inside of the new crater at the summit of the Soufrière Hills dome taken on 26 February 2010. The dark material on the left is the deposit of a fresh rockfall that probably occurred a few days before the photograph was taken. Courtesy of MVO.

Heavy rain on 8-9 March caused vigorous steaming of the hot 11 February deposits (figure 87). Strong geysering was visible at Trants near the old Bramble airport, with ash and steam fountaining occurring. In addition, lahars traveled down several drainages, including the Belham valley. Small spots of incandescence on the dome were visible again on 14 March. Occasional small pyroclastic flows and rockfalls were still occurring mainly from the western and southern parts of the dome.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Heavy rainfall on 8 and 9 March 2010 triggered a series of small to moderate sized pyroclastic flows. These were derived from the old dome and collapse scar. Pyroclastic flows continued to form as small amounts of cooled lava were shed from the surface. Courtesy of MVO.

MODVOLC Thermal Alerts. According to the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) Thermal Alerts System, no satellite thermal alerts were measured over Soufrière Hills between 29 March 2007 and 3 December 2008. Satellite thermal alerts were measured almost daily during 11 October 2009 through 15 February 2010. An isolated thermal alert was measured on 10 March 2010. Previously shorter periods of thermal alerts were measured during 11-29 March 2007 and 3 December 2008-3 January 2009.

References. Cole, P., Bass, V., Christopher, C., Fergus, M., Gunn, L., Odbert, H., Simpson, R., Stewart, R., Stinton, A., Stone, J., Syers, R., Robertson, R., Watts, R., and Williams, P., 2010, Report to the Scientific Advisory Committee on Montserrat Volcanic Activity, Report on Activity between 15 August 2009 and 28 February 2010, Open File Report OFR 10-01a, Prepared for SAC 14: 22-24 March 2010. Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO).

Robertson, R., Babal, L., Bass, V., Christopher, T., Chardot, L., Fergus, M., Fournier, N., Higgins, M., Joseph, E., Komorowski, J.-C., Odbert, H., Simpson, R., Smith, P., Stewart, R., Stone, J., Syers, R., Tsaines, B., and Williams, P., 2009, Report for the Scientific Advisory Committee on Montserrat Volcanic Activity, Prepared for SAC 13: 7-9 September 2009, MVO Open File Report 09/03.

Stewart, R., Bass, V., Chardot, L., Christopher, T., Dondin, F., Finizola, A., Fournier, N., Joseph, E., Komorowski, J.-C., Legendre, Y., Peltier, A., Robertson, R., Syers, R., and Williams, P., 2009, Report for the Scientific Advisory Committee on Montserrat Volcanic Activity, Prepared for SAC12: 9-11 March 2009, MVO Open File Report 09/01.

Wadge, G., Macfarlane, D.G., Robertson, D.A., Hale, A.J., Pinkerton, H., Burrell, R.V., Norton, G.E., and James, M.R., 2005, AVTIS: a novel millimetre-wave ground based instrument for volcano remote sensing: J. Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 146, no. 4, p. 307-318.

MVO, 1996, MVO/VSC Open Scientific Meeting, 27 November 1996, Seismicity of Montserrat Soufrière Hills Volcano Eruption, July 1995-November 1996 (URL: http://www.geo.mtu.edu/volcanoes/west.indies/soufriere/govt/meetings/nov1996/02.html).

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

Information Contacts: Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO), Fleming, Montserrat, West Indies (URL: http://www.mvo.ms/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/); NASA Earth Observatory (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) 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/).


Stromboli (Italy) — March 2010 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions and lava flows in 2009; recent reports on 2007 eruption

Sonia Calvari of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) reported that the 2007 eruptive episode at Stromboli started on 27 February and finished on 2 April (BGVN 32:04) Additional details about this eruption can be found in Barberi and others (2009) and Calvari and others (2010). Eruptions later in 2007 and during 2008 will be reported in a later issue; summaries of activity in 2009 and January 2010 are included below.

Activity during 2009. The summit activity in 2009 was very unusual, producing four or five intracrater lava flows. Lava within the crater depression was extruded on 22-25 April, 3 May, and 30 August 2009. On 8 November a major explosion from the vents in the central crater fragmented and destroyed part of the E flank of the cinder cone there. The explosion produced an eruptive column over 350 m high that drifted SE and was soon followed by a lava flow from the widened central vent. The lava flow spread within the crater depression for a few minutes and reached a maximum distance of ~ 60 m. After the 8 November explosion, activity returned to background levels.

Strong seismic activity was recorded on 24 November 2009. Observers saw an explosive eruption cloud and the emission of a lava flow. Ejecta fallout affected the summit area, particularly the Pizzo sopra la Fossa, where numerous volcanic bombs landed. Also affected was the eastern downwind flank, where a layer of pumice was deposited on the beach. The fallout of incandescent material caused some vegetation fires on the E flank. After this explosive activity, seismicity returned to the level previously observed.

Activity during January 2010. According to the INGV website, at 1912 UTC on 4 January 2010, the network of surveillance cameras recorded an explosion that affected the central vent area. During a first phase, coarse pink pyroclastic materials (bombs and possibly lithic particles) were erupted from the entire crater terrace. A second phase followed with the emission of a small ash plume. Beginning at 0757 UTC on 7 January, the IR camera located on the Pizzo sopra la Fossa showed spattering lava in the central portion of the crater, leading to a series of lava flows; the lava stopped around 0100 UTC on 8 January. At 1448 UTC on 10 January, the INGV network of surveillance cameras recorded a strong explosion that affected the N portion of the crater, causing a major fallout of volcanic bombs at Pizzo sopra la Fossa and high on the NE part of the volcano.

References. Barberi, F., Rosi, M., and Scendone, R. (eds), 2009, The 2007 eruption of Stromboli: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 182, no. 3-4, p. 123-280.

Calvari, S., Lodato, L., Steffke, A., Cristaldi, A., Harris, A.J.L., Spampinato, L., and Boschi, E., 2010, The 2007 Stromboli eruption: Event chronology and effusion rates using thermal infrared data: Journal Geophysical Research, Solid Earth, 115, B4, B04201, doi:10.1029/2009JB006478.

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

Information Contacts: Sonia Calvari, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/).


Telica (Nicaragua) — March 2010 Citation iconCite this Report

Telica

Nicaragua

12.606°N, 86.84°W; summit elev. 1036 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Incandescent crater floor areas seen in November 2009 and March 2010

Telica exhibited extensive degassing and sporadic ash explosions during 2006-2008 (BGVN 34:08). Activity since then had decreased to a relatively low level, but degassing was continuing. This report discusses activity in 2009 and January-February 2010 based on reports from the Instituto Nicarag?ense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER) and from fieldwork by Mel Rodgers (University of South Florida) in November 2009 and March 2010.

INETER publishes a monthly bulletin on earthquakes and volcanic activity in Nicaragua. For Telica, most of the monthly data consists of in-field temperature measurements. An observation camera situated 20 km from the crater has not been functional for more than a year. The seismic instrument at Telica was frequently out of order during 2009.

On 20 May 2009, the sulfur dioxide output in the crater ranged from 106-251 tons per day. The maximum temperature of the crater was about 90-112°C in April and May 2009, but rose to 201°C in July, 251°C in August, and 302-317°C during September through November 2009. The maximum temperature of four fumaroles was also measured, which generally ranged from 67-72°C. These temperatures decreased in June 2009 and increased in August 2009 (to 76-105°C). The temperature of fumarole 4 decreased to 59°C in October; gas emission at that fumarole ceased altogether in November.

Visits in November 2009 and March 2010. Mel Rodgers detailed observations during fieldwork at the volcano in November 2009 and March 2010 conducted with Diana Roman (University of South Florida), Peter La Femina and Halldor Geirsson (Pennsylvania State University), and Alain Morales (INETER). On 24-25 November 2009, the group observed a set of elongated fractures flanking the crater floor through which incandescence and/or lava were clearly visible. A high concentration of gas and a steady gas-and-vapor plume were also observed in the crater. Multiple vigorous fumaroles were observed on the W side of the crater close to the top of the crater wall, and an intermittent jetting noise that appeared to be coming from the crater floor was audible from their position at the crater rim. A broadband seismometer was installed and, during the 24-hour visit, a high rate of long-period (LP) seismicity was recorded.

On 15 March 2010, the researchers returned and again observed incandescence within the crater. Incandescence was clearly visible through a C-shaped crack or skylight, SE of the 25 November 2009 location (figures 17 and 18). A high concentration of gas and a steady gas-and-vapor plume in the crater continued and vigorous degassing of the fumaroles on the crater floor was observed (figure 19). Intermittent jetting noises and rockfalls were audible coming from the crater, and at 2202 UTC a loud, low popping noise from the crater was heard. Data retrieved from the single station installed in November 2009 showed a high rate of LP seismicity from November 2009-March 2010.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Photograph taken 25 November 2009 of Telica volcano showing the relative locations of the 25 November 2009 incandescent fracture (right) and the later 15 March 2010 incandescent crack/skylight (left). Courtesy of Mel Rodgers.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Photograph taken 15 March 2010 showing incandescence visible in the C-shaped crack/skylight at Telica volcano. Courtesy of Mel Rodgers.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Photograph taken 15 March 2010 showing a view of the entire Telica crater floor. Locations of sightings of incandescence and of vigorous gas jets are indicated. Courtesy of Mel Rodgers.

A successful installation of the TESAND (Telica Seismic and Deformation) network was completed in March 2010. This network, consisting of six broadband seismometers and eight high-rate (1 Hz) continuous global positioning system stations, will be deployed for 3 years to document background LP seismicity and magmatic processes associated with quiescent volcanism.

According to the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) Thermal Alerts System, no satellite thermal alerts were measured over Telica during 2008, 2009, and through 30 April 2010.

Geologic Background. Telica, one of Nicaragua's most active volcanoes, has erupted frequently since the beginning of the Spanish era. This volcano group consists of several interlocking cones and vents with a general NW alignment. Sixteenth-century eruptions were reported at symmetrical Santa Clara volcano at the SW end of the group. However, its eroded and breached crater has been covered by forests throughout historical time, and these eruptions may have originated from Telica, whose upper slopes in contrast are unvegetated. The steep-sided cone of Telica is truncated by a 700-m-wide double crater; the southern crater, the source of recent eruptions, is 120 m deep. El Liston, immediately E, has several nested craters. The fumaroles and boiling mudpots of Hervideros de San Jacinto, SE of Telica, form a prominent geothermal area frequented by tourists, and geothermal exploration has occurred nearby.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nicaraguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua; Mel Rodgers, University of South Florida; Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822 (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).

Atmospheric Effects

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

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


Central Chile and Argentina


Estero de Parraguirre


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

08/1997 (BGVN 22:08) False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

False report of volcanism intended to exclude would-be gold miners

12/1997 (BGVN 22:12) False Report of Somalia Eruption

Press reports of Somalia's first historical eruption were likely in error

11/1999 (BGVN 24:11) False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

05/2003 (BGVN 28:05) Har-Togoo

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

False report of activity; confusion caused by burning dung in a lava tube



False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption (Philippines) — August 1997

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

7.975°N, 123.23°E; summit elev. 1510 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


False report of volcanism intended to exclude would-be gold miners

In discussing the week ending on 12 September, "Earthweek" (Newman, 1997) incorrectly claimed that a volcano named "Mount Pinukis" had erupted. Widely read in the US, the dramatic Earthweek report described terrified farmers and a black mushroom cloud that resembled a nuclear explosion. The mountain's location was given as "200 km E of Zamboanga City," a spot well into the sea. The purported eruption had received mention in a Manila Bulletin newspaper report nine days earlier, on 4 September. Their comparatively understated report said that a local police director had disclosed that residents had seen a dormant volcano showing signs of activity.

In response to these news reports Emmanuel Ramos of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) sent a reply on 17 September. PHIVOLCS staff had initially heard that there were some 12 alleged families who fled the mountain and sought shelter in the lowlands. A PHIVOLCS investigation team later found that the reported "families" were actually individuals seeking respite from some politically motivated harassment. The story seems to have stemmed from a local gold rush and an influential politician who wanted to use volcanism as a ploy to exclude residents. PHIVOLCS concluded that no volcanic activity had occurred. They also added that this finding disappointed local politicians but was much welcomed by the residents.

PHIVOLCS spelled the mountain's name as "Pinokis" and from their report it seems that it might be an inactive volcano. There is no known Holocene volcano with a similar name (Simkin and Siebert, 1994). No similar names (Pinokis, Pinukis, Pinakis, etc.) were found listed in the National Imagery and Mapping Agency GEOnet Names Server (http://geonames.nga.mil/gns/html/index.html), a searchable database of 3.3 million non-US geographic-feature names.

The Manila Bulletin report suggested that Pinokis resides on the Zamboanga Peninsula. The Peninsula lies on Mindanao Island's extreme W side where it bounds the Moro Gulf, an arm of the Celebes Sea. The mountainous Peninsula trends NNE-SSW and contains peaks with summit elevations near 1,300 m. Zamboanga City sits at the extreme end of the Peninsula and operates both a major seaport and an international airport.

[Later investigation found that Mt. Pinokis is located in the Lison Valley on the Zamboanga Peninsula, about 170 km NE of Zamboanga City and 30 km NW of Pagadian City. It is adjacent to the two peaks of the Susong Dalaga (Maiden's Breast) and near Mt. Sugarloaf.]

References. Newman, S., 1997, Earthweek, a diary of the planet (week ending 12 September): syndicated newspaper column (URL: http://www.earthweek.com/).

Manila Bulletin, 4 Sept. 1997, Dante's Peak (URL: http://www.mb.com.ph/).

Simkin, T., and Siebert, L., 1994, Volcanoes of the world, 2nd edition: Geoscience Press in association with the Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program, Tucson AZ, 368 p.

Information Contacts: Emmanuel G. Ramos, Deputy Director, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Department of Science and Technology, PHIVOLCS Building, C. P. Garcia Ave., University of the Philippines, Diliman campus, Quezon City, Philippines.


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Press reports of Somalia's first historical eruption were likely in error

Xinhua News Agency filed a news report on 27 February under the headline "Volcano erupts in Somalia" but the veracity of the story now appears doubtful. The report disclosed the volcano's location as on the W side of the Gedo region, an area along the Ethiopian border just NE of Kenya. The report had relied on the commissioner of the town of Bohol Garas (a settlement described as 40 km NE of the main Al-Itihad headquarters of Luq town) and some or all of the information was relayed by journalists through VHF radio. The report claimed the disaster "wounded six herdsmen" and "claimed the lives of 290 goats grazing near the mountain when the incident took place." Further descriptions included such statements as "the volcano which erupted two days ago [25 February] has melted down the rocks and sand and spread . . . ."

Giday WoldeGabriel returned from three weeks of geological fieldwork in SW Ethiopia, near the Kenyan border, on 25 August. During his time there he inquired of many people, including geologists, if they had heard of a Somalian eruption in the Gedo area; no one had heard of the event. WoldeGabriel stated that he felt the news report could have described an old mine or bomb exploding. Heavy fighting took place in the Gedo region during the Ethio-Somalian war of 1977. Somalia lacks an embassy in Washington DC; when asked during late August, Ayalaw Yiman, an Ethiopian embassy staff member in Washington DC also lacked any knowledge of a Somalian eruption.

A Somalian eruption would be significant since the closest known Holocene volcanoes occur in the central Ethiopian segment of the East African rift system S of Addis Ababa, ~500 km NW of the Gedo area. These Ethiopian rift volcanoes include volcanic fields, shield volcanoes, cinder cones, and stratovolcanoes.

Information Contacts: Xinhua News Agency, 5 Sharp Street West, Wanchai, Hong Kong; Giday WoldeGabriel, EES-1/MS D462, Geology-Geochemistry Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545; Ayalaw Yiman, Ethiopian Embassy, 2134 Kalorama Rd. NW, Washington DC 20008.


False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption (Turkey) — November 1999

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

Following the Ms 7.8 earthquake in Turkey on 17 August (BGVN 24:08) an Email message originating in Turkey was circulated, claiming that volcanic activity was observed coincident with the earthquake and suggesting a new (magmatic) volcano in the Sea of Marmara. For reasons outlined below, and in the absence of further evidence, editors of the Bulletin consider this a false report.

The report stated that fishermen near the village of Cinarcik, at the E end of the Sea of Marmara "saw the sea turned red with fireballs" shortly after the onset of the earthquake. They later found dead fish that appeared "fried." Their nets were "burned" while under water and contained samples of rocks alleged to look "magmatic."

No samples of the fish were preserved. A tectonic scientist in Istanbul speculated that hot water released by the earthquake from the many hot springs along the coast in that area may have killed some fish (although they would be boiled rather than fried).

The phenomenon called earthquake lights could explain the "fireballs" reportedly seen by the fishermen. Such effects have been reasonably established associated with large earthquakes, although their origin remains poorly understood. In addition to deformation-triggered piezoelectric effects, earthquake lights have sometimes been explained as due to the release of methane gas in areas of mass wasting (even under water). Omlin and others (1999), for example, found gas hydrate and methane releases associated with mud volcanoes in coastal submarine environments.

The astronomer and author Thomas Gold (Gold, 1998) has a website (Gold, 2000) where he presents a series of alleged quotes from witnesses of earthquakes. We include three such quotes here (along with Gold's dates, attributions, and other comments):

(A) Lima, 30 March 1828. "Water in the bay 'hissed as if hot iron was immersed in it,' bubbles and dead fish rose to the surface, and the anchor chain of HMS Volage was partially fused while lying in the mud on the bottom." (Attributed to Bagnold, 1829; the anchor chain is reported to be on display in the London Navy Museum.)

(B) Romania, 10 November 1940. ". . . a thick layer like a translucid gas above the surface of the soil . . . irregular gas fires . . . flames in rhythm with the movements of the soil . . . flashes like lightning from the floor to the summit of Mt Tampa . . . flames issuing from rocks, which crumbled, with flashes also issuing from non-wooded mountainsides." (Phrases used in eyewitness accounts collected by Demetrescu and Petrescu, 1941).

(C) Sungpan-Pingwu (China), 16, 22, and 23 August 1976. "From March of 1976, various large anomalies were observed over a broad region. . . . At the Wanchia commune of Chungching County, outbursts of natural gas from rock fissures ignited and were difficult to extinguish even by dumping dirt over the fissures. . . . Chu Chieh Cho, of the Provincial Seismological Bureau, related personally seeing a fireball 75 km from the epicenter on the night of 21 July while in the company of three professional seismologists."

Yalciner and others (1999) made a study of coastal areas along the Sea of Marmara after the Izmet earthquake. They found evidence for one or more tsunamis with maximum runups of 2.0-2.5 m. Preliminary modeling of the earthquake's response failed to reproduce the observed runups; the areas of maximum runup instead appeared to correspond most closely with several local mass-failure events. This observation together with the magnitude of the earthquake, and bottom soundings from marine geophysical teams, suggested mass wasting may have been fairly common on the floor of the Sea of Marmara.

Despite a wide range of poorly understood, dramatic processes associated with earthquakes (Izmet 1999 apparently included), there remains little evidence for volcanism around the time of the earthquake. The nearest Holocene volcano lies ~200 km SW of the report location. Neither Turkish geologists nor scientists from other countries in Turkey to study the 17 August earthquake reported any volcanism. The report said the fisherman found "magmatic" rocks; it is unlikely they would be familiar with this term.

The motivation and credibility of the report's originator, Erol Erkmen, are unknown. Certainly, the difficulty in translating from Turkish to English may have caused some problems in understanding. Erkmen is associated with a website devoted to reporting UFO activity in Turkey. Photographs of a "magmatic rock" sample were sent to the Bulletin, but they only showed dark rocks photographed devoid of a scale on a featureless background. The rocks shown did not appear to be vesicular or glassy. What was most significant to Bulletin editors was the report author's progressive reluctance to provide samples or encourage follow-up investigation with local scientists. Without the collaboration of trained scientists on the scene this report cannot be validated.

References. Omlin, A, Damm, E., Mienert, J., and Lukas, D., 1999, In-situ detection of methane releases adjacent to gas hydrate fields on the Norwegian margin: (Abstract) Fall AGU meeting 1999, Eos, American Geophysical Union.

Yalciner, A.C., Borrero, J., Kukano, U., Watts, P., Synolakis, C. E., and Imamura, F., 1999, Field survey of 1999 Izmit tsunami and modeling effort of new tsunami generation mechanism: (Abstract) Fall AGU meeting 1999, Eos, American Geophysical Union.

Gold, T., 1998, The deep hot biosphere: Springer Verlag, 256 p., ISBN: 0387985468.

Gold, T., 2000, Eye-witness accounts of several major earthquakes (URL: http://www.people.cornell.edu/ pages/tg21/eyewit.html).

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

48.831°N, 101.626°E; summit elev. 1675 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

In December 2002 information appeared in Mongolian and Russian newspapers and on national TV that a volcano in Central Mongolia, the Har-Togoo volcano, was producing white vapors and constant acoustic noise. Because of the potential hazard posed to two nearby settlements, mainly with regard to potential blocking of rivers, the Director of the Research Center of Astronomy and Geophysics of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Dr. Bekhtur, organized a scientific expedition to the volcano on 19-20 March 2003. The scientific team also included M. Ulziibat, seismologist from the same Research Center, M. Ganzorig, the Director of the Institute of Informatics, and A. Ivanov from the Institute of the Earth's Crust, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Geological setting. The Miocene Har-Togoo shield volcano is situated on top of a vast volcanic plateau (figure 1). The 5,000-year-old Khorog (Horog) cone in the Taryatu-Chulutu volcanic field is located 135 km SW and the Quaternary Urun-Dush cone in the Khanuy Gol (Hanuy Gol) volcanic field is 95 km ENE. Pliocene and Quaternary volcanic rocks are also abundant in the vicinity of the Holocene volcanoes (Devyatkin and Smelov, 1979; Logatchev and others, 1982). Analysis of seismic activity recorded by a network of seismic stations across Mongolia shows that earthquakes of magnitude 2-3.5 are scattered around the Har-Togoo volcano at a distance of 10-15 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Photograph of the Har-Togoo volcano viewed from west, March 2003. Courtesy of Alexei Ivanov.

Observations during March 2003. The name of the volcano in the Mongolian language means "black-pot" and through questioning of the local inhabitants, it was learned that there is a local myth that a dragon lived in the volcano. The local inhabitants also mentioned that marmots, previously abundant in the area, began to migrate westwards five years ago; they are now practically absent from the area.

Acoustic noise and venting of colorless warm gas from a small hole near the summit were noticed in October 2002 by local residents. In December 2002, while snow lay on the ground, the hole was clearly visible to local visitors, and a second hole could be seen a few meters away; it is unclear whether or not white vapors were noticed on this occasion. During the inspection in March 2003 a third hole was seen. The second hole is located within a 3 x 3 m outcrop of cinder and pumice (figure 2) whereas the first and the third holes are located within massive basalts. When close to the holes, constant noise resembled a rapid river heard from afar. The second hole was covered with plastic sheeting fixed at the margins, but the plastic was blown off within 2-3 seconds. Gas from the second hole was sampled in a mechanically pumped glass sampler. Analysis by gas chromatography, performed a week later at the Institute of the Earth's Crust, showed that nitrogen and atmospheric air were the major constituents.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Photograph of the second hole sampled at Har-Togoo, with hammer for scale, March 2003. Courtesy of Alexei Ivanov.

The temperature of the gas at the first, second, and third holes was +1.1, +1.4, and +2.7°C, respectively, while air temperature was -4.6 to -4.7°C (measured on 19 March 2003). Repeated measurements of the temperatures on the next day gave values of +1.1, +0.8, and -6.0°C at the first, second, and third holes, respectively. Air temperature was -9.4°C. To avoid bias due to direct heating from sunlight the measurements were performed under shadow. All measurements were done with Chechtemp2 digital thermometer with precision of ± 0.1°C and accuracy ± 0.3°C.

Inside the mouth of the first hole was 4-10-cm-thick ice with suspended gas bubbles (figure 5). The ice and snow were sampled in plastic bottles, melted, and tested for pH and Eh with digital meters. The pH-meter was calibrated by Horiba Ltd (Kyoto, Japan) standard solutions 4 and 7. Water from melted ice appeared to be slightly acidic (pH 6.52) in comparison to water of melted snow (pH 7.04). Both pH values were within neutral solution values. No prominent difference in Eh (108 and 117 for ice and snow, respectively) was revealed.

Two digital short-period three-component stations were installed on top of Har-Togoo, one 50 m from the degassing holes and one in a remote area on basement rocks, for monitoring during 19-20 March 2003. Every hour 1-3 microseismic events with magnitude <2 were recorded. All seismic events were virtually identical and resembled A-type volcano-tectonic earthquakes (figure 6). Arrival difference between S and P waves were around 0.06-0.3 seconds for the Har-Togoo station and 0.1-1.5 seconds for the remote station. Assuming that the Har-Togoo station was located in the epicentral zone, the events were located at ~1-3 km depth. Seismic episodes similar to volcanic tremors were also recorded (figure 3).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Examples of an A-type volcano-tectonic earthquake and volcanic tremor episodes recorded at the Har-Togoo station on 19 March 2003. Courtesy of Alexei Ivanov.

Conclusions. The abnormal thermal and seismic activities could be the result of either hydrothermal or volcanic processes. This activity could have started in the fall of 2002 when they were directly observed for the first time, or possibly up to five years earlier when marmots started migrating from the area. Further studies are planned to investigate the cause of the fumarolic and seismic activities.

At the end of a second visit in early July, gas venting had stopped, but seismicity was continuing. In August there will be a workshop on Russian-Mongolian cooperation between Institutions of the Russian and Mongolian Academies of Sciences (held in Ulan-Bator, Mongolia), where the work being done on this volcano will be presented.

References. Devyatkin, E.V. and Smelov, S.B., 1979, Position of basalts in sequence of Cenozoic sediments of Mongolia: Izvestiya USSR Academy of Sciences, geological series, no. 1, p. 16-29. (In Russian).

Logatchev, N.A., Devyatkin, E.V., Malaeva, E.M., and others, 1982, Cenozoic deposits of Taryat basin and Chulutu river valley (Central Hangai): Izvestiya USSR Academy of Sciences, geological series, no. 8, p. 76-86. (In Russian).

Geologic Background. The Miocene Har-Togoo shield volcano, also known as Togoo Tologoy, is situated on top of a vast volcanic plateau. The 5,000-year-old Khorog (Horog) cone in the Taryatu-Chulutu volcanic field is located 135 km SW and the Quaternary Urun-Dush cone in the Khanuy Gol (Hanuy Gol) volcanic field is 95 km ENE. Analysis of seismic activity recorded by a network of seismic stations across Mongolia shows that earthquakes of magnitude 2-3.5 are scattered around the Har-Togoo volcano at a distance of 10-15 km.

Information Contacts: Alexei V. Ivanov, Institute of the Earth Crust SB, Russian Academy of Sciences, Irkutsk, Russia; Bekhtur andM. Ulziibat, Research Center of Astronomy and Geophysics, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ulan-Bator, Mongolia; M. Ganzorig, Institute of Informatics MAS, Ulan-Bator, Mongolia.


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

1.136°N, 34.559°E; summit elev. 3885 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


False report of activity; confusion caused by burning dung in a lava tube

An eruption at Mount Elgon was mistakenly inferred when fumes escaped from this otherwise quiet volcano. The fumes were eventually traced to dung burning in a lava-tube cave. The cave is home to, or visited by, wildlife ranging from bats to elephants. Mt. Elgon (Ol Doinyo Ilgoon) is a stratovolcano on the SW margin of a 13 x 16 km caldera that straddles the Uganda-Kenya border 140 km NE of the N shore of Lake Victoria. No eruptions are known in the historical record or in the Holocene.

On 7 September 2004 the web site of the Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation reported that villagers sighted and smelled noxious fumes from a cave on the flank of Mt. Elgon during August 2005. The villagers' concerns were taken quite seriously by both nations, to the extent that evacuation of nearby villages was considered.

The Daily Nation article added that shortly after the villagers' reports, Moses Masibo, Kenya's Western Province geology officer visited the cave, confirmed the villagers observations, and added that the temperature in the cave was 170°C. He recommended that nearby villagers move to safer locations. Masibo and Silas Simiyu of KenGens geothermal department collected ashes from the cave for testing.

Gerald Ernst reported on 19 September 2004 that he spoke with two local geologists involved with the Elgon crisis from the Geology Department of the University of Nairobi (Jiromo campus): Professor Nyambok and Zacharia Kuria (the former is a senior scientist who was unable to go in the field; the latter is a junior scientist who visited the site). According to Ernst their interpretation is that somebody set fire to bat guano in one of the caves. The fire was intense and probably explains the vigorous fuming, high temperatures, and suffocated animals. The event was also accompanied by emissions of gases with an ammonia odor. Ernst noted that this was not surprising considering the high nitrogen content of guano—ammonia is highly toxic and can also explain the animal deaths. The intense fumes initially caused substantial panic in the area.

It was Ernst's understanding that the authorities ordered evacuations while awaiting a report from local scientists, but that people returned before the report reached the authorities. The fire presumably prompted the response of local authorities who then urged the University geologists to analyze the situation. By the time geologists arrived, the fuming had ceased, or nearly so. The residue left by the fire and other observations led them to conclude that nothing remotely related to a volcanic eruption had occurred.

However, the incident emphasized the problem due to lack of a seismic station to monitor tectonic activity related to a local triple junction associated with the rift valley or volcanic seismicity. In response, one seismic station was moved from S Kenya to the area of Mt. Elgon so that local seismicity can be monitored in the future.

Information Contacts: Gerald Ernst, Univ. of Ghent, Krijgslaan 281/S8, B-9000, Belgium; Chris Newhall, USGS, Univ. of Washington, Dept. of Earth & Space Sciences, Box 351310, Seattle, WA 98195-1310, USA; The Daily Nation (URL: http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/); Uganda Tourist Board (URL: http://www.visituganda.com/).