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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

Sangeang Api (Indonesia) Ash emissions and lava flow extrusion continue during May 2019 through January 2020

Shishaldin (United States) Multiple lava flows, pyroclastic flows, lahars, and ashfall events during October 2019 through January 2020

Nevados de Chillan (Chile) Many explosions, ash plumes, lava and pyroclastic flows June-December 2019

Asosan (Japan) Intermittent ash plumes and elevated SO2 emissions continue during July-December 2019

Tinakula (Solomon Islands) Intermittent thermal activity suggests ongoing eruption, July-December 2019

Ibu (Indonesia) Frequent ash plumes and small lava flows in the crater through December 2019

Lateiki (Tonga) Eruption 13-22 October 2019 creates new island, which disappears by mid-January 2020

Aira (Japan) Ongoing explosions with ejecta and ash plumes, along with summit incandescence, during July-December 2019

Suwanosejima (Japan) Explosions, ash emissions, and summit incandescence in July-December 2019

Barren Island (India) Thermal anomalies and small ash plumes during February-April 2019 and September 2019-January 2020

Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) Explosion producing an ash plume and pyroclastic surge resulted in fatalities and injuries on 9 December 2019

Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) Frequent gas and some ash emissions during May-December 2019 with some hot avalanches



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

Sangeang Api

Indonesia

8.2°S, 119.07°E; summit elev. 1912 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash emissions and lava flow extrusion continue during May 2019 through January 2020

Sangeang Api is located in the eastern Sunda-Banda Arc in Indonesia, forming a small island in the Flores Strait, north of the eastern side of West Nusa Tenggara. It has been frequently active in recent times with documented eruptions spanning back to 1512. The edifice has two peaks – the active Doro Api cone and the inactive Doro Mantori within an older caldera (figure 37). The current activity is focused at the summit of the cone within a horseshoe-shaped crater at the summit of Doro Api. This bulletin summarizes activity during May 2019 through January 2020 and is based on Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reports, Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, or CVGHM) MAGMA Indonesia Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) reports, and various satellite data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. A PlanetScope satellite image of Sangeang Api with the active Doro Api and the inactive Doro Mantori cones indicated, and the channel SE of the active area that contains recent lava flows and other deposits. December 2019 monthly mosaic copyright of Planet Labs 2019.

Thermal anomalies were visible in Sentinel-2 satellite thermal images on 4 and 5 May with some ash and gas emission visible; bright pixels from the summit of the active cone extended to the SE towards the end of the month, indicating an active lava flow (figure 38). Multiple small emissions with increasing ash content reached 1.2-2.1 km altitude on 17 June. The emissions drifted W and WNW, and a thermal anomaly was also visible. On the 27th ash plumes rose to 2.1 km and drifted NW and the thermal anomaly persisted. One ash plume reached 2.4 km and drifted NW on the 29th, and steam emissions were ongoing. Satellite images showed two active lava flows in June, an upper and a lower flow, with several lobes descending the same channel and with lateral levees visible in satellite imagery (figure 39). The lava extrusion appeared to have ceased by late June with lower temperatures detected in Sentinel-2 thermal data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Sentinel-2 satellite thermal images of Sangeang Api on 20 May and 9 June 2019 show an active lava flow from the summit, traveling to the SE. False color (urban) image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. PlanetScope satellite images of Sangeang Api show new lava flows during June and July, with white arrows indicating the flow fronts. Copyright Planet Labs 2019.

During 4-5 July the Darwin VAAC reported ash plumes reaching 2.1-2.3 km altitude and drifting SW and W. Activity continued during 6-9 July with plumes up to 4.6 km drifting N, NW, and SW. Thermal anomalies were noted on the 4th and 8th. Plumes rose to 2.1-3 km during 10-16th, and to a maximum altitude of 4.6 km during 17-18 and 20-22. Similar activity was reported during 24-30 July with plumes reaching 2.4-3 km and dispersing NW, W, and SW. The upper lava flow had increased in length since 15 June (see figure 39).

During 31 July through 3 September ash plumes continued to reach 2.4-3 km altitude and disperse in multiple directions. Similar activity was reported throughout September. Thermal anomalies also persisted through July-September, with evidence of hot avalanches in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery on 23 August, and 9, 12, 22, and 27 September. Thermal anomalies suggested hot avalanches or lava flows during October (figure 40). During 26-28 October short-lived ash plumes were reported to 2.1-2.7 km above sea level and dissipated to the NW, WNW, and W. Short-lived explosions produced ash plumes up to 2.7-3.5 km altitude were noted during 30-31 October and 3-4 November 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Sentinel-2 satellite thermal images of Sangeang Api on 7 and 22 October 2019 show an area of elevated temperatures trending from the summit of the active cone down the SE flank. False color (urban) image rendering (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Discrete explosions produced ash plumes up to 2.7-3.5 km altitude during 3-4 November, and during the 6-12th the Darwin VAAC reported short-lived ash emissions reaching 3 km altitude. Thermal anomalies were visible in satellite images during 6-8 November. A VONA was released on 14 November for an ash plume that reached about 2 km altitude and dispersed to the west. During 14-19 November the Darwin VAAC reported short-lived ash plumes reaching 2.4 km that drifted NW and W. Additional ash plumes were observed reaching a maximum altitude of 2.4 km during 20-26 November. Thermal anomalies were detected during the 18-19th, and on the 27th.

Ash plumes were recorded reaching 2.4 km during 4-5, 7-9, 11-13, and 17-19 December, and up to 3 km during 25-28 December. There were no reports of activity in early to mid-January 2020 until the Darwin VAAC reported ash reaching 3 km on 23 January. A webcam image on 15 January showed a gas plume originating from the summit. Several fires were visible on the flanks during May 2019 through January 2020, and this is seen in the MIROVA log thermal plot with the thermal anomalies greater than 5 km away from the crater (figure 41).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. MIROVA log plot of radiative power indicates the persistent activity at Sangeang Api during April 2019 through March 2020. There was a slight decline in September-October 2019 and again in February 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/).


Shishaldin (United States) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Shishaldin

United States

54.756°N, 163.97°W; summit elev. 2857 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Multiple lava flows, pyroclastic flows, lahars, and ashfall events during October 2019 through January 2020

Shishaldin is located near the center of Unimak Island in Alaska and has been frequently active in recent times. Activity includes steam plumes, ash plumes, lava flows, lava fountaining, pyroclastic flows, and lahars. The current eruption phase began on 23 July 2019 and through September included lava fountaining, explosions, and a lava lake in the summit crater. Continuing activity during October 2019 through January 2020 is described in this report based largely on Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) reports, photographs, and satellite data.

Minor steam emissions were observed on 30 September 2019, but no activity was observed through the following week. Activity at that time was slightly above background levels with the Volcano Alert Level at Advisory and the Aviation Color Code at Yellow (figure 17). In the first few days of October weak tremor continued but no eruptive activity was observed. Weakly elevated temperatures were noted in clear satellite images during 4-9 October and weak tremor continued. Elevated temperatures were recorded again on the 14th with low-level tremor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Alaska Volcano Observatory hazard status definitions for Aviation Color Codes and Volcanic Activity Alert Levels used for Shishaldin and other volcanoes in Alaska. Courtesy of AVO.

New lava extrusion was observed on 13 October, prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Color Code to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level to Watch. Elevated surface temperatures were detected by satellite during the 13th and 17-20th, and a steam plume was observed on the 19th. A change from small explosions to continuous tremor that morning suggested a change in eruptive behavior. Low-level Strombolian activity was observed during 21-22 October, accompanied by a persistent steam plume. Lava had filled the crater by the 23rd and began to overflow at two places. One lava flow to the north reached a distance of 200 m on the 24th and melted snow to form a 2.9-km-long lahar down the N flank. The second smaller lava flow resulted in a 1-km-long lahar down the NE flank. Additional snowmelt was produced by spatter accumulating around the crater rim. By 25 October the northern flow reached 800 m, there was minor explosive activity with periodic lava fountaining, and lahar deposits reached 3 km to the NW with shorter lahars to the N and E (figure 18). Trace amounts of ashfall extended at least 8.5 km SE. There was a pause in activity on the 29th, but beginning at 1839 on the 31st seismic and infrasound monitoring detected multiple small explosions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. PlanetScope satellite images of Shishaldin on 3 and 29 October 2019 show the summit crater and N flank before and after emplacement of lava flows, lahars, and ashfall. Copyright PlanetLabs 2019.

Elevated activity continued through November with multiple lava flows on the northern flanks (figure 19). By 1 November the two lava flows had stalled after extending 1.8 km down the NW flank. Lahars had reached at least 4 km NW and trace amounts of ash were deposited on the north flank. Elevated seismicity on 2 November indicated that lava was likely flowing beyond the summit crater, supported by a local pilot observation. The next day an active lava flow moved 400 m down the NW flank while a smaller flow was active SE of the summit. Minor explosive activity and/or lava fountaining at the summit was indicated by incandescence during the night. Small explosions were recorded in seismic and infrasound data. On 5 November the longer lava flow had developed two lobes, reaching 1 km in length. The lahars had also increased in length, reaching 2 km on the N and S flanks. Incandescence continued and hot spatter was accumulating around the summit vent. Activity continued, other than a 10-hour pause on 4-5 November, and another pause on the 7th. The lava flow length had reached 1.3 km on the 8th and lahar deposits reached 5 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images show multiple lava flows (orange) on the upper northern flanks of Shishaldin between 1 November and 1 December 2019. Blue is snow and ice in these images, and partial cloud cover is visible in all of them. Sentinel-2 Urban rendering (bands 21, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

After variable levels of activity for a few days, there was a significant increase on 10-11 November with lava fountaining through the evening and night. This was accompanied by minor to moderate ash emissions up to around 3.7 km altitude and drifting northwards, and a significant increase in seismicity. Activity decreased again during the 11-12th while minor steam and ash emissions continued. On 14 November minor ash plumes were visible on the flanks, likely caused by the collapse of accumulated spatter. By 15 November a large network of debris flows consisting of snowmelt and fresh deposits extended 5.5 km NE and the collapse of spatter mounds continued. Ashfall from ash plumes reaching as high as 3.7 km altitude produced thin deposits to the NE, S, and SE. Activity paused during the 17-18th and resumed again on the 19th; intermittent clear views showed either a lava flow or lahar descending the SE flank. Activity sharply declined at 0340 on the 20th.

Seismicity began increasing again on 24 November and small explosions were detected on the 23rd. A small collapse of spatter that had accumulated at the summit occurred at 2330 on the 24th, producing a pyroclastic flow that reached 3 km in length down the NW flank. A new lava flow had also reached several hundred meters down the same flank. Variable but elevated activity continued over 27 November into early December, with a 1.5-km-long lava flow observed in satellite imagery acquired on the 1st. On 5 December minor steam or ash emissions were observed at the summit and on the north flank, and Strombolian explosions were detected. Activity from that day produced fresh ash deposits on the northern side of the volcano and a new lava flow extended 1.4 km down the NW flank. Three small explosions were detected on the 11th.

At 0710 on 12 December a 3-minute-long explosion produced an ash plume up to 6-7.6 km altitude that dispersed predominantly towards the W to NW and three lightning strokes were detected. Ash samples were collected on the SE flank by AVO field crews on 20 December and analysis showed variable crystal contents in a glassy matrix (figure 20). A new ash deposit was emplaced out to 10 km SE, and a 3.5-km-long pyroclastic flow had been emplaced to the north, containing blocks as large as 3 m in diameter. The pyroclastic flow was likely a result from collapse of the summit spatter cone and lava flows. A new narrow lava flow had reached 3 km to the NW and lahars continued out to the northern coast of Unimak island (figure 21). The incandescent lava flow was visible from Cold Bay on the evening of the 12th and a thick steam plume continued through the next day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. An example of a volcanic ash grain that was erupted at Shishaldin on 12 December 2019 and collected on the SE flank by the Alaska Volcano Observatory staff. This Scanning Electron Microscope images shows the different crystals represented by different colors: dark gray crystals are plagioclase, the light gray crystals are olivine, and the white ones are Fe-Ti oxides. The groundmass in this grain is nearly completely crystallized. Courtesy of AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. A WorldView-2 satellite image of Shishaldin with the summit vent and eruption deposits on 12 December 2019. The tephra deposit extends around 10 km SE, a new lava flow reaching 3 km NW with lahars continuing to the N coast of Unimak island. Pyroclastic flow deposits reach 3.5 km to the N and contain blocks as large as 3 m. Courtesy of Hannah Dietterich, AVO.

A new lava flow was reported by a pilot on the night of 16 December. Thermal satellite data showed that this flow reached 2 km to the NW. High-resolution radar satellite images over the 15-17th showed that the lava flow had advanced out to 2.5 km and had developed levees along the margins (figure 22). The lava channel was 5-15 m wide and was originating from a crater at the base of the summit scoria cone, which had been rebuilt since the collapse the previous week. Minor ash emissions drifted to the south on the 19tt and 20th (figure 23).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. TerraSAR-X radar satellite images of Shishaldin on 15 and 17 December 2019 show the new lava flow on the NW flank and growth of a scoria cone at the summit. The lava flow had reached around 2.5 km at this point and was 5-15 m wide with levees visible along the flow margins. Pyroclastic flow deposits from a scoria cone collapse event on 12 December are on the N flank. Figure courtesy of Simon Plank (German Aerospace Center, DLR) and Hannah Dietterich (AVO).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Geologist Janet Schaefer (AVO/DGGS) collects ash samples within ice and snow on the southern flanks of Shishaldin on 20 December 2019. A weak ash plume is rising from the summit crater. Photo courtesy of Wyatt Mayo, AVO.

On 21 December a new lava flow commenced, traveling down the northern slope and accompanied by minor ash emissions. Continued lava extrusion was indicated by thermal data on the 25th and two lava flows reaching 1.5 km and 100 m were observed in satellite data on the 26th, as well as ash deposits on the upper flanks (figure 24). Weak explosions were detected by the regional infrasound network the following day. A satellite image acquired on the 30th showed a thick steam plume obscuring the summit and snow cover on the flanks indicating a pause in ash emissions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. This 26 December 2019 WorldView-2 satellite image with a close-up of the Shishaldin summit area to the right shows a lava flow extending nearly 1.5 km down the NW flank and a smaller 100-m-long lava flow to the NE. Volcanic ash was deposited around the summit, coating snow and ice. Courtesy of Matt Loewen, AVO.

In early January satellite data indicated slow lava extrusion or cooling lava flows (or both) near the summit. On the morning of the 3rd an ash plume rose to 6-7 km altitude and drifted 120 km E to SE, producing minor amounts of volcanic lightning. Elevated surface temperatures the previous week indicated continued lava extrusion. A satellite image acquired on 3 January showed lava flows extending to 1.6 km NW, pyroclastic flows moving 2.6 km down the western and southern flanks, and ashfall on the flanks (figure 25).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. This WorldView-2 multispectral satellite image of Shishaldin, acquired on 3 January 2019, shows the lava flows reaching 1.6 km down the NW flank and an ash plume erupting from the summit dispersing to the SE. Ash deposits cover snow on the flanks. Courtesy of Hannah Dietterich, AVO.

On 7 January the most sustained explosive episode for this eruption period occurred. An ash plume rose to 7 km altitude at 0500 and drifted east to northeast then intensified reaching 7.6 km altitude with increased ash content, prompting an increase of the Aviation Color Code to Red and Volcano Alert Level to Warning. The plume traveled over 200 km to the E to NE (figure 26). Lava flows were produced on the northern flanks and trace amounts of ashfall was reported in communities to the NE, resulting in several flight cancellations. Thermal satellite images showed active lava flows extruding from the summit vent (figure 27). Seismicity significantly decreased around 1200 and the alert levels were lowered to Orange and Watch that evening. Through the following week no notable eruptive activity occurred. An intermittent steam plume was observed in webcam views.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. This Landsat 8 satellite image shows a detached ash plume drifts to the NE from an explosive eruption at Shishaldin on 7 January 2020. Courtesy of Chris Waythomas, AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. This 7 January 2019 Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image shows several lava flows on the NE and NW flanks of Shishaldin, as well as a steam plume from the summit dispersing to the NE. Blue is snow and ice in this false color image (bands 12, 11, 4). Courtesy of Sentinel-Hub playground.

Eruptive activity resumed on 18 January with lava flows traveling 2 km down the NE flank accompanied by a weak plume with possible ash content dispersing to the SW (figure 28). A steam plume was produced at the front of the lava flow and lahar deposits continued to the north (figures 29 to 32). Activity intensified from 0030 on the 19th, generating a more ash-rich plume that extended over 150 km E and SE and reached up to 6 km altitude; activity increased again at around 1500 with ash emissions reaching 9 km altitude. AVO increased the alert levels to Red/Warning. Lava flows traveled down the NE and N flanks producing meltwater lahars, accompanied by elevated seismicity (figures 33). Activity continued through the day and trace amounts of ashfall were reported in False Pass (figure 34). Activity declined to small explosions over the next few days and the alert levels were lowered to Orange/watch shortly after midnight. The next morning weak steam emissions were observed at the summit and there was a thin ash deposit across the entire area. Satellite data acquired on 23 January showed pyroclastic flow deposits and cooling lava flows on the northern flank, and meltwater reaching the northern coast (figure 35).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. This Worldview-3 multispectral near-infrared satellite image acquired on 18 January 2020 shows a lava flow down the NE flank of Shishaldin. A steam plume rises from the end of the flow and lahar deposits from snowmelt travel further north. Courtesy of Matt Loewen, AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Steam plumes from the summit of Shishaldin and from the lava flow down the NE flank on 18 January 2020. Lahar deposits extend from the lava flow front and towards the north. Photo courtesy of Matt Brekke, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. A lava flow traveling down the NE flank of Shishaldin on 18 January 2020, seen from Cold Bay. Photo courtesy of Aaron Merculief, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Two plumes rise from Shishaldin on 18 January 2020, one from the summit crater and the other from the lava flow descending the NE Flank. Photos courtesy of Woodsen Saunders, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. A low-altitude plume from Shishaldin on the evening of 18 January 2020, seen from King Cove. Photo courtesy of Savannah Yatchmeneff, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. This WorldView-2 near-infrared satellite image shows a lava flow reaching 1.8 km down the N flank and lahar deposits filling drainages out to the Bering Sea coast (not shown here) on 19 January 2020. Ash deposits coat snow to the NE and E. Courtesy of Matt Loewen, AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. An ash plume (top) and gas-and-steam plumes (bottom) at Shishaldin on 19 January 2020. Courtesy of Matt Brekke, via AVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. A Landsat 8 thermal satellite image (band 11) acquired on 23 January 2019 showing hot lava flows and pyroclastic flow deposits on the flanks of Shishaldin and the meltwater flow path to the Bering Sea. Figure courtesy of Christ Waythomas, AVO.

Activity remained low in late January with some ash resuspension (due to winds) near the summit and continued elevated temperatures. Seismicity remained above background levels. Infrasound data indicated minor explosive activity during 22-23 January and small steam plumes were visible on 22, 23, and 26 January. MIROVA thermal data showed the rapid reduction in activity following activity in late-January (figure 36).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. MIROVA thermal data showing increased activity at Shishaldin during August-September, and an even higher thermal output during late-October 2019 to late January 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. The beautifully symmetrical Shishaldin is the highest and one of the most active volcanoes of the Aleutian Islands. The glacier-covered volcano is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes along an E-W line in the eastern half of Unimak Island. The Aleuts named the volcano Sisquk, meaning "mountain which points the way when I am lost." A steam plume often rises from its small summit crater. Constructed atop an older glacially dissected volcano, it is largely basaltic in composition. Remnants of an older ancestral volcano are exposed on the W and NE sides at 1,500-1,800 m elevation. There are over two dozen pyroclastic cones on its NW flank, which is blanketed by massive aa lava flows. Frequent explosive activity, primarily consisting of Strombolian ash eruptions from the small summit crater, but sometimes producing lava flows, has been recorded since the 18th century.

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of a) U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667 USA (URL: https://avo.alaska.edu/), b) Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and c) Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA (URL: http://dggs.alaska.gov/); Simon Plank, German Aerospace Center (DLR) German Remote Sensing Data Center, Geo-Risks and Civil Security, Oberpfaffenhofen, 82234 Weßling (URL: https://www.dlr.de/eoc/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-5242/8788_read-28554/sortby-lastname/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


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

Nevados de Chillan

Chile

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Many explosions, ash plumes, lava and pyroclastic flows June-December 2019

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

Nevados de Chillán was relatively quiet during June 2019, generating only a small number of explosions with ash plumes. This activity continued during July; some events produced incandescent ejecta around the crater. By August a distinct increase in activity was noticeable; ash plumes were larger and more frequent, and incandescent ejecta rose hundreds of meters above the summit a number of times. Frequent explosions were typical during September; the first of several blocky lava flows emerged from the crater mid-month. Inflation that began in mid-July continued with several centimeters of both horizontal and vertical displacement. By October, pyroclastic flows often accompanied the explosive events in addition to the ash plumes, and multiple vents opened within the crater. Three more lava flows had appeared by mid-November; explosions continued at a high rate. Activity remained high at the beginning of December but dropped abruptly mid-month. MODVOLC measured three thermal alerts in September, two in October, seven in November, and six in December. This period of increased thermal activity closely matches the thermal anomaly data reported by the MIROVA project (figure 37), which included an increase at the end of August 2019 that lasted through mid-December before stopping abruptly. Several lava flows and frequent explosions with incandescent ejecta and pyroclastic flows were reported throughout the period of increased thermal activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. MIROVA thermal anomaly data for Nevados de Chillán from 3 February through December 2019 show low activity during June-August and increasing activity from August through mid-December. This correlates with ground and satellite observations of lava flows, incandescent explosions, ash plumes, and pyroclastic flows during the period of increased thermal activity. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during June-August 2019. Nevados de Chillán remained relatively quiet during June 2019 with a few explosions of ash. At the active Nicanor crater, located on the E flank of the Volcán Nuevo dome, predominantly white steam plumes were observed daily in the nearby webcams. The growth rate of the dome inside the crater was reported by SERNAGEOMIN as continuing at about 260 m3/day. They noted an explosion on 3 June; the Buenos Aires VAAC reported a puff of ash seen from the webcam drifting SE at 3.7 km altitude (figure 38). The webcam indicated sporadic weak emissions continuing that day and the next. Minor explosions were also reported on 7-8 June and included incandescence observed at night and ejecta deposited around the crater rim. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported a narrow ash plume drifting ENE in multispectral imagery under clear skies late on 7 June. The webcams showed sporadic emissions of ash at 3.4 km altitude on 19 June that dissipated rapidly.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Explosions at Nevados de Chillán on 3 (left) and 20 (right) June 2019 produced ash plumes that quickly dissipated in the strong winds. Courtesy of the SERNAGEOMIN Portezuelo webcam, Pehuenia Online (left) and Eco Bio Bio La Red Informativa (right).

Minor pulsating explosive activity continued during July 2019 with multiple occurrences of ash emissions. Ash emissions rose to 3.7 km altitude on 4 July and were seen in the SERNAGEOMIN webcam; the VAAC reported an emission on 8 July that rose to 4.3 km altitude and drifted SE. Monitoring stations near the complex recorded an explosive event early on 9 July; incandescence with gases and ejecta were deposited around the crater and an ash plume rose to 3.9 km and drifted SE. Small ash plumes from sporadic puffs on 12 July rose to 4.6 km altitude. An explosive event on 14 July also produced incandescent ejecta around the crater along with weak sporadic ash emissions. Single ash emissions on 18 (figure 39) and 22 July at 3.7 km altitude drifted ESE from summit before dissipating; another emission on 26 July was reported at 4.3 km altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Local news sources reported ash emissions at Nevados de Chillán on 18 July 2019. Courtesy of INF0SCHILE (left) and Radio Ñuble (right).

A distinct increase in the intensity and frequency of explosive activity was recorded during August 2019. SERNAGEOMIN noted ash emissions and explosions during 3-4 August in addition to the persistent steam plumes above the Nicanor crater (figure 40). The Buenos Aires VAAC reported a single puff on 3 August that was seen in the webcam rising to 3.9 km altitude and dissipating quickly. The next day a pilot reported an ash plume estimated at 5.5 km altitude drifting E. It was later detected in satellite imagery; the webcam revealed continuous emission of steam and gas with intermittent puffs of ash. SERNAGEOMIN issued a special report (REAV) on 6 August noting the increase in size and frequency of explosions, some of which produced dense ash plumes that rose 1.6 km above the crater along with incandescent ejecta. They also reported that satellite imagery indicated a 1.5-km-long lahar that traveled down the NNE flank as a result of the interaction of the explosive ejecta with the snowfall near the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Climbers captured video of a significant explosion at Nevados de Chillán on 4 August 2019. Courtesy of CHV Noticias.

Beginning on 9-10 August 2019, and continuing throughout the month, SERNAGEOMIN observed explosive nighttime activity with incandescent ejecta scattered around the crater rim along with moderate levels of seismicity each day. A diffuse ash plume was detected in satellite imagery by the VAAC on 9 August drifting NW at 4.9 km altitude. SERNAGEOMIN issued a new warning on 12-13 August that the recent increase in activity since the end of July suggested the injection of a new magmatic body that could lead to larger explosive events with pyroclastic and lava flows. They reported pyroclastic ejecta from multiple explosions on 13 August rising 765 and 735 m above the crater. Drone images taken between 4 and 12 August showed the destruction of the summit dome from multiple explosions with the Nicanor Crater (figure 41). The VAAC reported sporadic pulses of volcanic ash drifting N during 12-14 August, visible in satellite imagery estimated at 4.3 km altitude. By 17-18 August, they noted constant steam emissions interspersed with gray plumes during explosive activity.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Drone images taken at Nevados de Chillán between 4 and 12 August 2019 showed destruction of the dome caused by multiple explosions at the summit crater. Courtesy of Movisis.org Internacional.

An increase in seismicity, especially VT events, during 21-22 August 2019 resulted in multiple special REAV reports from SERNAGEOMIN. They noted on 21 August that an explosion produced gas emissions and pyroclastic material that rose 1,400 m above the crater; the next day material rose 450 m. That night, in addition to incandescent ejecta around the crater, they reported small high-temperature flows on the N flank which extended to the NNE flank a few days later. The VAAC reported pulses of ash plumes moving SE on 22 August at 4.3 km altitude. A faint ash cloud was visible in satellite imagery on 29 August drifting E at 3.7 km altitude (figure 42). The cloud was dissipating rapidly as it moved away from the summit. Sporadic ash emissions from intermittent explosions continued moving ESE then N and NE; they were reported daily through 5 September. They continued to rise in altitude to 3.9 km on 30 August, 4.3 km on 1 September, and 4.6 km on 3 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Incandescence at the summit of Nevados de Chillán and ashfall covering snow to the E was captured in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 29 August 2019. Courtesy of Copernicus EMS.

Activity during September-October 2019. Frequent explosions from Nicanor crater continued during September 2019, producing numerous ash plumes and small high-temperature flows along the NNE flank. A webcam detected a small lateral vent on the NNE flank about 50 m from the crater rim emitting gas and particulates on 2-3 September. Multiple explosions during 3-5 September were associated with gas and ash emissions and incandescent ejecta deposited around the crater rim (figure 43). The network of GNSS stations recording deformation of the volcanic complex confirmed on 3-4 September that inflation, which had been recorded since mid-July 2019, was continuing at a rate of about 1 cm/month. Blocks of incandescent ejecta from numerous explosions were observed rolling down the N flank on 6-7 September and the E flank the following night.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Activity at Nevados de Chillán on 3 September 2019 included ash and steam explosions (left) and incandescent ejecta at the summit (right). Courtesy of Carlos Bustos and SERNAGEOMIN webcams.

SERNAGEOMIN reported on 9-10 September that satellite imagery revealed a new surface deposit about 130 m long trending NNE from the center of crater. They reported an increase in the level of seismicity from moderate to high on 10-11 September and observed incandescent ejecta at the summit during several explosions (figure 44). During a flyover on 12 September scientists confirmed the presence of a new blocky lava flow emerging from Nicanor Crater and moving down the NNE flank of Nuevo volcano. The flow was about 600 m long, 100 m wide, and 5 m thick with a blocky surface and incandescent lava at the base within the active crater. Measurements with a thermal camera indicated a temperature around 800°C within the active crater, and greater than 100°C on the surface of the flow. Frequent high-energy explosions that day produced incandescent ejecta that could be seen from Las Trancas and Shangri-La (figure 45). Ashfall 0.5 cm thick was reported 2 km from the volcano to the SW. The flow was visible from the webcam located N of Nicanor on 16-17 September. Satellite imagery indicated the flow was about 550 m long and moving at a rate of about 21 m/day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. A blocky lava flow moved down the NNE flank of Nevados de Chillán on 11 September (left); incandescent ejecta covered the summit area the next night (right). Courtesy of EarthQuakesTime (left), Red Geocientifica de Chile (right) and SERNAGEOMIN Webcams.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. The SERNAGEOMIN Portezuelo webcam revealed the blocky lava flow, incandescent ejecta and ash emissions at Nevados de Chillán on 12 September 2019. Courtesy of American Earthquakes (left), PatoArias (right), and SERNAGEOMIN.

During 18-22 September 2019 multiple special reports of seismicity were released each day with incandescent ejecta, gas, and particulate emissions often observed at the summit crater; the lava flow remained active. On 24 September ashfall was reported about 15 km NW in communities including Las Trancas; small pyroclastic flows were observed the following day. Horizontal inflation of 2.4 cm was reported on 25 September, and vertical inflation was measured at 3.4 cm since mid-July. SERNAGEOMIN noted that while the frequency of explosions had increased, the energy released had decreased. Morphological changes in Nicanor crater suggested that it was growing at its SW edge and eroding the adjacent Arrau crater; the NE edge of the crater was unstable.

Plumes of steam and ash continued along with the explosions for the remainder of the month. During the night, incandescent ejecta was observed, and the low-velocity lava flow continued to move. Multiple VAAC reports were issued virtually every day of September. Pulses of ash were moving SE at 4.3 km altitude on 7-8 September. For most of the rest of the month sporadic emissions with minor amounts of ash were observed in either the webcam or satellite images at an altitude of 3.7 km, occasionally rising to 4.3 km. They drifted generally SE but varied somewhat with the changing winds. Continuous ash emissions were observed during 24-25 September that rose as high as 4.9 km altitude and drifted E, clearly visible in satellite imagery. After that, the altitude dropped back to 3.7 km and the plume was only faintly and intermittently visible in satellite imagery.

Low-altitude gray ash plumes were observed rising from Nicanor crater almost every day that weather permitted during October 2019. Incandescent ejecta was frequently observed at night. Beginning on 6-7 October, SERNAGEOM reported pyroclastic flows traveling short distances from the crater most days. They traveled 1.13 km down the NNE flank, 0.42 km down the NNW flank and 0.88 km down the SW flank. The blocky lava flow on the NNE flank was no longer active (figure 46). During 9-12 October, multiple special reports of increased seismic activity (REAVs) were issued each day. Inflation continued throughout the month. On 10 October the total horizontal deformation (since mid-July) was 3 cm, with a rate of movement a little over 1 cm/month; the total vertical displacement was 4.5 cm, with a rate of 1.93 cm/month during the previous 30 days.

In a special report issued on 11 October, SERNAGEOMIN mentioned that analysis of satellite imagery indicated a new emission center within the Nicanor crater adjacent to the dome vent active since December 2017 and to the lava flow of September. The new center was oval shaped with an E-W dimension of 60 m and a N-S dimension of 55 m, located about 90 m SE of the old, still active center, and was the site of the explosive activity reported since 30 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Drone footage posted 10 October 2019 from Nevados de Chillán shows steam emissions from the Nicanor crater and a blocky lava flow down NNE flank. The snow-covered cone in background is Volcan Baños. Courtesy of Volcanologia Chile and copyright by Nicolas Luengo V.

On 16 October a new blocky flow was observed on the NE flank of the Nicanor Crater; it was about 70 m long, moving about 30 m/day. By 21 October it had reached 130 m in length, and its rate of advance had slowed significantly. Beginning on 25 October seismicity decreased noticeably and much less surface activity was observed at the crater. Explosions at the end of the month produced steam plumes, gas emissions and minor pulsating ash emissions.

The Buenos Aires VAAC reported a puff of ash at 4.9 km altitude on 1 October moving SE. Continuous emission of steam and gas with sporadic puffs of ash that rose to around 3.7-4.3 km altitude were typical every day after that until 25 October usually drifting S or E; they were most often visible in the webcams, and occasionally visible in satellite imagery when weather conditions permitted. A diffuse plume of ash was detected on 16 October drifting SE at 4.6 km altitude. The VAAC reported incandescence visible at the summit in webcam images on 22 October; a significant daytime explosion on 24 October produced a large incandescent ash cloud (figure 47). The next day the VAAC detected weak pulses of ash plumes in satellite images extending E from the summit for 130 km. Intermittent ash emissions were reported drifting SE at 3.7-4.3 km each day from 29-31 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. A large incandescent ash plume at Nevados de Chillán on 24 October 2019 sent ejecta around the summit (left); a dense ash plume was produced during an explosion on 30 October 2019 (right). Courtesy of Cristian Farian (left) and SERNAGEOMIN (right); both images taken from the SERNAGEOMIN webcams.

Activity during November-December 2019. Moderate seismicity continued during November 2019 with recurrent episodes of pulsating gas and ash emissions. Incandescent ejecta was visible many nights that the weather conditions were favorable (figure 48). In the Daily Report (RAV) issued on 6 November, SERNAGEOMIN noted that the original 700-m-long blocky lava flow on the NNE flank active during September had been partly covered by another flow, about 350 m long. They also reported that pyroclastic density currents were observed in the area immediately around the crater extending in several directions. They extended 850 m down the SW flank, 670 m down the NW flank, 1,680 m down the N flank, and 440 m to the NNE.

Changes in the crater area indicated a growth of the SW edge of the Nicanor Crater, continuing to erode the Arrau crater, with the constant emission of gas, ash, and incandescent ejecta that produced plumes up to 1.8 km high. SERNAGEOMIN also observed activity from a vent at the NE edge of the crater that included gas emission and ejecta, but no lava flow. The fourth lava flow observed in recent months (L4) was identified on the NNE slope on 13 November adjacent to the earlier flows; it was about 70 m long and slowly advancing. By 19 November L4 consisted of two lobes and extended about 90 m from the edge of the Nicanor crater advancing at an average rate of 0.4 m/hour. The vent producing L4 was located about 60 m SSE of the vent that produced the earlier flows (L1, L2, and L3). By 28 November the flow had reached a length of 165 m and was no longer advancing. A series of explosions reported on 25-27 and 30 November produced ejecta that rose 800, 1,000, 1,300, and 700 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Incandescent ejecta at Nevados de Chillán was clearly visible at night on 3 November 2019. Courtesy of Claudio Kanisius.

Ash emissions were reported by the Buenos Aires VAAC during most of November, usually visible from the webcams, but often also seen in satellite imagery. The plumes generally reached 3.7-4.6 km altitude and drifted SSE. They usually occurred as continuous emission of steam and gas accompanied by sporadic pulses of ash but were sometimes continuous ash for several hours. They were visible about 100 km E of the summit on 2 November, and over 200 km SE the following day. A narrow plume of ash was seen in visual satellite imagery extending 50 km E of the summit on 9 November. Intermittent incandescence at the summit was seen from the webcam on 18 November. Pulses of ash were detected in satellite imagery extending 125 km SE on 22 November. Strong puffs of ash briefly rose to 4.9 km altitude and drifted NE on 26 November (figure 49); incandescence during the nighttime was visible in the webcam on 28 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. An explosion on 26 November 2019 at Nevados de Chillán produced a dense ash plume and small pyroclastic flows down the flank. Courtesy of Volcanes de Chile and the SERNAGEOMIN Portezuelo webcam.

Pulsating emissions of gas and ejecta continued into December 2019. Five explosions were reported on 1 December that produced gas plumes which rose 300-800 m above the crater. Three more explosions occurred on 3 December sending gas plumes 500-1,000 m high. SERNAGEOMIN reported on 4 December that explosive activity was observed from four vents within the Nicanor crater. This activity triggered new pyroclastic flows that extended 1,100 m E and 400 m S. By 5 December the total vertical inflation reported since July was 8 cm. A large explosion on 5 December sent material 1.6 km above the summit and pyroclastic flows down the flanks (figure 50). The webcams at Andarivel and Portezuelo showed a pyroclastic flow moving 400 m W, a direction not previously observed; this was followed by additional pyroclastic flows to the N and E.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. A large explosion at Nevados de Chillán on 5 December 2019 produced an ash plume that rose 1.6 km above the summit and sent pyroclastic flows down the flanks. Courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

On 9 December SERNAGEOMIN noted that the increase to four active vents was causing erosion on the S and SE edges of the crater making the most affected areas to the SW, S, SE and E of the crater. Major explosions reported that day produced pyroclastic flows that descended down the E and ESE flanks and particulate emissions that rose 1 km. The SW flank near the crater was also affected by ejecta and pyroclastic debris carried by the wind. The most extensive pyroclastic flows travelled down the E flank for the next several days; explosions on 10 December sent material 1.2 km high. Three explosions were noted on 11 December; the first sent incandescence close to 200 m high, and the second produced a column of particulate material 1.2 km high. The first of two explosions on 12 December sent material 1.8 km above the crater and pyroclastic flows down the flanks (figure 51). Although explosions were reported on 13 and 14 December, cloudy skies prevented observations of the summit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. A large explosion at Nevados de Chillán on 12 December 2019 produced an ash plume that rose 1.8 km above the summit and sent pyroclastic flows down the flanks. Courtesy of Volcanes de Chile and SERNAGEOMIN.

Intermittent ash emissions were reported by the Buenos Aires VAAC during 1-13 December 2019. They rose to 3.7-4.3 km and drifted generally E. Pulses of ash were detected at 4.9 km altitude moving S in satellite imagery on 9 December. The last reported ash emission for December was on the afternoon of 12 December; puffs of ash could be seen in satellite imagery moving E at 4.6 km altitude. A decrease in particulate emissions and explosions was reported beginning on 14 December, and no further explosions were recorded by infrasound devices after 15 December. The deposits from the earlier pyroclastic flows had reached 600 m E and 300 m W of the crater. Seismic activity was recorded as low instead of moderate beginning on 25 December. A total horizontal inflation of about 6 cm since July was measured at the end of December.

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

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN), Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Avda Sta María No. 0104, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/), Twitter: @Sernageomin; 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/); 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/); Cristian Farias Vega, Departamento de Obras Civiles y Geología, Universidad Católica de Temuco, Vilcún, Región de La Araucanía, Chile (URL: https://twitter.com/cfariasvega/status/1187471827255226370); Copernicus Emergency Management Service (Copernicus EMS), Joint Research Centre, European Union (URL: https://emergency.copernicus.eu/, https://twitter.com/CopernicusEMS/status/1168156474817818624); Volcanes de Chile, Proyectos de la Fundación Volcanes de Chile, Chile (URL: https://www.volcanesdechile.net/, https://twitter.com/volcanesdechile/status/1199496839491395585); Pehuenia Online, Pehuenia, Argentina (URL: http://pehueniaonline.com.ar/, https://twitter.com/PehueniaOnline/status/1135703309824745472); Eco Bio Bio La Red Informativa, Bio Bio Region, Chile (URL: http://emergenciasbiobio.blogspot.com/, https://twitter.com/Eco_BioBio_II/status/1141734238590574593); INF0SCHILE (URL: https://twitter.com/INF0SCHILE/status/1151849611482599425); Radio Ñuble AM y FM, Chillán, Chile (URL: http://radionuble.cl/linea/, lhttps://twitter.com/RadioNuble/status/1151858189299781632); CHV Noticias, Santiago, Chile (URL: https://www.chvnoticias.cl/, https://twitter.com/CHVNoticias/status/1159263718015819777); Movisis.org Internacional, Manabi, Ecuador (URL: https://movisis.org/, https://twitter.com/MOVISISEC/status/1160778823031558144); Carlos Bustos (URL: https://twitter.com/cbusca1970/status/1168932243873644548); EarthQuakesTime (URL: https://twitter.com/EarthQuakesTime/status/1171654504841908229); Red Geocientifica de Chile (URL: https://twitter.com/RedGeoChile/status/1171972482875703296); American Earthquakes (URL: https://twitter.com/earthquakevt/status/1172271139760091136); PatoArias, Talca, Chile (URL: https://twitter.com/patoarias/status/1172287142191665153); Volcanologia Chile, (URL: http://www.volcanochile.com/joomla30/, https://twitter.com/volcanologiachl/status/1182707451554078720); Claudio Kanisius (URL: https://twitter.com/ClaudioKanisius/status/1191182878346031104).


Asosan (Japan) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash plumes and elevated SO2 emissions continue during July-December 2019

The large Asosan caldera reaches around 23 km long in the N-S direction and contains a complex of 17 cones, of which Nakadake is the most active (figure 58). A recent increase in activity prompted an alert level increase from 1 to 2 on 14 April 2019. The Nakadake crater is the site of current activity (figure 59) and contains several smaller craters, with the No. 1 crater being the main source of activity during July-December 2019. The activity during this period is summarized here based on reports by the Japan Meteorological Agency and satellite data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Asosan is a group of cones and craters within a larger caldera system. January 2010 Monthly Mosaic images copyright Planet Labs 2019.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Hot gas emissions from the Nakadake No. 1 crater on 25 June 2019 reached around 340°C. Courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency (July 2019 monthly report).

Small explosions were observed at the No. 1 vent on the 4, 5, 9, 13-16, and 26 July. There was an increase in thermal energy detected near the vent leading to a larger event on the 26th (figures 60 and 61), which produced an ash plume up to 1.6 km above the crater rim and continuing from 0757 to around 1300 with a lower plume height of 400 m after 0900. Light ashfall was reported downwind. Elevated activity was noted during 28-29 July, and an ash plume was seen in webcam footage on the 30th. Incandescence was visible in light-sensitive cameras during 4-17 and after the 26th. A field survey on 5 July measured 1,300 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) per day. This had increased to 2,300 tons per day by the 12th, 2,500 on the 24th, and 2,400 by the 25th. A sulfur dioxide plume was detected in Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite data acquired on 28 July (figure 62).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Thermal images taken at Asosan on 26 July 2019 show the increasing temperature of emissions leading to an explosion. Courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency (July 2019 monthly report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. An eruption from the Nakadake crater at Asosan on 26 July 2019. Courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency (July 2019 monthly report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 62. A sulfur dioxide plume was detected from Asosan (to the left) on 28 July 2019. The larger plume (red) to the right is not believed to be associated with volcanism in this area. NASA Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite image courtesy of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

The increased eruptive activity that began on 5 July continued to 16 August. There were 24 eruptions recorded throughout the month, with eruptions occurring on 18-23, 25, and 29-31 August. An ash plume at 2100 on 4 August reached 1.5 km above the crater rim. Detected SO2 increased to extremely high levels from late July to early August with 5,200 tons per day recorded on 9 August, but which then reduced to 2,000 tons per day. Ashfall occurred out to around 7 km NW on the 10th (figure 63). Activity continued to increase at the Nakadake No. 1 crater, producing incandescence. High-temperature gas plumes were detected at the No. 2 crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. Ashfall from Asosan on 10 August 2019 near Otohime, Aso city, which is about 7 km NW of the Nakadake No. 1 crater that produced the ash plume. The ashfall was thick enough that the white line in the parking lot was mostly obscured (lower photo). Courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency (August 2019 monthly report).

Thermal activity continued to increase, and incandescence was observed at the No. 1 crater throughout September. There were 24 eruptions recorded throughout August. Light ashfall occurred out to around 8 km NE on the 3rd and ash plumes reached 1.6 km above the crater rim during 10-13, and again during 25-30 (figures 64 and 65). During the later dates ashfall was reported to the NE and NW. The SO2 levels were back down to 1,600 tons per day by 11 September and increased to 2,600 tons per day by the 26th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. Ash plumes at Asosan on 29 September 2019. Courtesy of Volcanoverse.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. Activity at Asosan in late September 2019. Left: incandescence and a gas plume at the Nakadake No. 1 crater on the 28th. Right: an eruption produced an ash plume at 0839 on the 30th. Aso Volcano Museum surveillance camera image (left) and Kusasenri surveillance camera image (right) courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency (September 2019 monthly report).

Similar elevated activity continued through October with ash plumes reaching 1.3 km above the crater and periodic ashfall reported at the Kumamoto Regional Meteorological Observatory, and out to 4 km S to SW on the 19th and 29th. Temperatures up to 580°C were recorded at the No. 1 crater on 23 October and incandescence was occasionally visible at night through the month (figure 66). Gas surveys detected 2,800 tons per day of SO2 on 7 October, which had increased to 4,000 tons per day by the 11th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Drone images of the Asosan Nakadake crater area on 23 October 2019. The colored boxes show the same vents and the photographs on the left correlate to the thermal images on the right. The yellow box is around the No. 1 crater, with temperature measurements reaching 580°C. The emissions in the red box reached 50°C, and up to 100°C on the southwest crater wall (blue box). Courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency (October 2019 monthly report).

Ash plume emission continued through November (figure 67 and 68). Plumes reached 1.5 to 2.4 km above sea level during 13-18 November and ashfall occurred downwind, with a maximum of 1.4 km above the crater rim for the month. Ashfall was reported near Aso City Hall on the 27th. Incandescence was observed until 6 November. During the first half of October sulfur dioxide emissions were slightly lower than the previous month, with measurements detecting under 3,000 tons per day. In the second half of the month emissions increased to 2,000 to 6,300 tons per day. This was accompanied by an increase in volcanic tremor.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. Examples of ash plumes at Asosan on 2, 8, 9, and 11 November 2019. The plume on 2 November reached 1.3 km above the crater rim. Kusasenri surveillance camera images courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Ash emissions from the Nakadake crater at Asosan on 15 and 17 November 2019. The continuous ash emission is weak and is being dispersed by the wind. Copyright Mizumoto, used with permission.

Throughout December activity remained elevated with ash plumes reaching 1.1 km above the Nakadake No. 1 crater and producing ashfall. The maximum gas plume height was 1.8 km above the crater. A total of 23 eruptions were recorded, and incandescence at the crater was observed through the month. Sulfur dioxide emissions continued to increase with 5,800 tons per day recorded on the 27th, and 7,400 tons per day recorded on the 31st.

Overall, eruptive activity has continued intermittently since 26 July and SO2 emissions have increased through the year. Incandescence was seen at the crater since 2 October and this is consistent with an increase in thermal energy detected by the MIROVA algorithm around that time (figure 69).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Thermal anomalies were low through 2019 with a notable increase around October to November. Log radiative power plot courtesy of MIROVA.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Mizumoto, Kumamoto, Kyushu, Japan (Twitter: https://twitter.com/hepomodeler); Volcanoverse (URL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi3T_esus8Sr9I-3W5teVQQ).


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

Tinakula

Solomon Islands

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent thermal activity suggests ongoing eruption, July-December 2019

Remote Tinakula lies 100 km NE of the Solomon Trench at the N end of the Santa Cruz Islands, which are part of the South Pacific country of the Solomon Islands located 400 km to the W. It has been uninhabited since an eruption with lava flows and ash explosions in 1971 when the small population was evacuated (CSLP 87-71). The nearest communities live on Te Motu (Trevanion) Island (about 30 km S), Nupani (40 km N), and the Reef Islands (60 km E); residents occasionally report noises from explosions at Tinakula. Ashfall from larger explosions has historically reached these islands. A large ash explosion during 21-26 October 2017 was a short-lived event; renewed thermal activity was detected beginning in December 2018 and intermittently throughout 2019. This report covers the ongoing activity from July-December 2019. Since ground-based observations are rarely available, satellite thermal and visual data are the primary sources of information.

MIROVA thermal anomaly data indicated intermittent but ongoing thermal activity at Tinakula during July-December 2019 (figure 35). It was characterized by pulses of multiple alerts of varying intensities for several days followed by no activity for a few weeks.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. The MIROVA project plot of Radiative Power at Tinakula from 2 March 2019 through the end of the year indicated repeated pulses of thermal energy each month except for August 2019. It was characterized by pulses of multiple alerts for several days followed by no activity for a few weeks. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Observations using Sentinel-2 satellite imagery were often prevented by clouds during July, but two MODVOLC thermal alerts on 2 July 2019 corresponded to MIROVA thermal activity on that date. No thermal anomalies were reported by MIROVA during August 2019, but Sentinel-2 satellite images showed dense steam plumes drifting away from the summit on four separate dates (figure 36). Two distinct thermal anomalies appeared in infrared imagery on 9 September, and a dense steam plume drifted about 10 km NW on 14 September (figure 37).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery for Tinakula recorded ongoing steam emissions on multiple days during August 2019 including 10 August (left) and 20 August (right). The island is about 3 km in diameter. Left image is natural color rendering with bands 4,3,2, right image is atmospheric penetration with bands 12, 11, and 8a. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. A bright thermal anomaly at the summit and a weaker one on the nearby upper W flank of Tinakula on 9 September 2019 (left) indicated ongoing eruptive activity in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery. While no thermal anomalies were visible on 14 September (right), a dense steam plume originating from the summit drifted more than 10 km NW. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

During October 2019 steam emissions were captured in four clear satellite images; a weak thermal anomaly was present on the W flank on 9 October (figure 38). MODVOLC recorded a single thermal alert on 9 November. Stronger thermal anomalies appeared twice during November in satellite images. On 13 November a strong anomaly was present at the summit in Sentinel-2 imagery; it was accompanied by a dense steam plume drifting NE from the hotspot. On 28 November two thermal anomalies appeared part way down the upper NW flank (figure 39). Thermal imagery on 3 December suggested that a weak anomaly remained on the NW flank in a similar location; a dense steam plume rose above the summit, drifting slightly SW on 18 December (figure 40). A thermal anomaly at the summit on 28 December was accompanied by a dense steam plume and corresponded to multiple MIROVA thermal anomalies at the end of December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. A weak thermal anomaly was recorded on the upper W flank of Tinakula on 9 October 2019 in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery (left). Dense steam drifted about 10 km NW from the summit on 29 October (right). Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. On 13 November 2019 a strong anomaly was present at the summit of Tinakula in Sentinel-2 imagery; it was accompanied by a dense steam plume drifting NE from the hotspot (left). On 28 November two thermal anomalies appeared part way down the upper NW flank (right). Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Thermal imagery on 3 December 2019 from Tinakula suggested that a weak anomaly remained in a similar location to one of the earlier anomalies on the NW flank (left); a dense steam plume rose above the summit, drifting slightly SW on 18 December (center). A thermal anomaly at the summit on 28 December was accompanied by a dense steam plume (right) and corresponded to multiple MIROVA thermal anomalies at the end of December. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

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


Ibu (Indonesia) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Ibu

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent ash plumes and small lava flows in the crater through December 2019

Heightened continuing activity at Ibu since March 2018 has been dominated by frequent ash explosions with weak ash plumes, and numerous thermal anomalies reflecting one or more weak lava flows (BGVN 43:05, 43:12, and 44:07). This report summarizes activity through December 2019, and is based on data from the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and various satellites.

Typical ash plumes during the reporting period of July-December 2019 rose 800 m above the crater, with the highest reported to 1.4 km in early October (table 5). They were usually noted a few times each month. According to MAGMA Indonesia, explosive activity caused the Aviation Color Code to be raised to ORANGE (second highest of four) on 14, 22, and 31 August, 4 and 30 September, and 15 and 20 October.

Table 5. Ash plumes and other volcanic activity reported at Ibu during December 2018-December 2019. Plume heights are reported above the crater rim. Data courtesy of PVMBG and Darwin VAAC.

Date Time Ash Plume Height Plume Drift Remarks
11 Dec 2018 -- 500 m -- Weather clouds prevented views in satellite data.
12 Jan 2019 1712 800 m S --
13 Jan 2019 0801 800 m S --
05-12 Feb 2019 -- 200-800 m E, S, W Weather conditions occasionally prevented observations.
25-26 Feb 2019 -- 1.1-1.7 km NE, ENE Thermal anomaly.
28 Feb 2019 -- 800 m N --
18 Mar 2019 -- 1.1 km E Plume drifted about 17 km NE.
23 Mar 2019 -- 1.1 km E --
28 Mar 2019 -- 800 m SE --
10 Apr 2019 -- 800 m N --
15-16 Apr 2019 -- 1.1 km N, NE --
18 Apr 2019 -- 800 m E --
07 May 2019 -- 1.1 km ESE --
08 May 2019 -- 1.1 km ESE --
09 May 2019 1821 600 m S Seismicity characterized by explosions, tremor, and rock avalanches.
10 May 2019 -- 500 m ESE --
14 May 2019 1846 800 m N --
14-16, 18-19 May 2019 -- 0.8-1.7 km NW, N, ENE --
23-24 May 2019 -- 1.1-1.4 km SE --
31 May 2019 -- 800 m W --
02 Jun 2019 -- 1.7 km W --
21 Jun 2019 -- 500 m N, NE --
24-25 Jun 2019 -- 0.2-1.1 km SE, ESE --
06 Jul 2019 -- 800 m N Intermittent thermal anomaly.
15 Jul 2019 -- 800 m NE --
07-12 Aug 2019 -- 200-800 m -- Plumes were white-to-gray.
14 Aug 2019 1107 800 m N Seismicity characterized by explosions and rock avalanches.
22 Aug 2019 0704 800 m W Seismicity characterized by explosions and rock avalanches.
31 Aug 2019 1847 800 m N Seismicity characterized by explosions and rock avalanches.
04 Sep 2019 0936 300 m S --
28 Sep 2019 -- 500-800 m WNW --
30 Sep 2019 1806 800 m N --
06-07 Oct 2019 -- 0.8-1.4 km S, N --
15 Oct 2019 0707 400 m S --
20 Oct 2019 0829 400 m W --
01-05 Nov 2019 -- 200-800 m E, N Plumes were white-and-gray.
20-21, 23-25 Nov 2019 -- 500-800 m Multiple Thermal anomaly on 21 Nov.
03 Dec 2019 -- 800 m NE Thermal anomaly.
26 Dec 2019 -- 800 m S Discrete ash puffs in satellite imagery.

Thermal anomalies were sometimes noted by PVMBG, and were also frequently obvious in infrared satellite imagery suggesting lava flows and multiple active vents, as seen on 22 November 2019 (figure 19). Thermal anomalies using MODIS satellite instruments processed by the MODVOLC algorithm were recorded 2-4 days every month from July to December 2019. In contrast, the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system detected numerous hotspots on most days (figure 20).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Example of thermal activity in the Ibu crater on 22 November 2019, along with a plume drifting SE. One or more vents in the crater are producing small lava flows, an observation common throughout the reporting period. Sentinel-2 false color (urban) images (bands 12, 11, 4), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Thermal anomalies recorded at Ibu by the MIROVA system using MODIS infrared satellite data for the year 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); 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/); 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/); 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/); 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).


Lateiki (Tonga) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Lateiki

Tonga

19.18°S, 174.87°W; summit elev. 43 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption 13-22 October 2019 creates new island, which disappears by mid-January 2020

Lateiki (Metis Shoal) is one of several submarine and island volcanoes on the W side of the Tonga trench in the South Pacific. It has produced ephemeral islands multiple times since the first confirmed activity in the mid-19th century. Two eruptions, in 1967 and 1979, produced islands that survived for a few months before eroding beneath the surface. An eruption in 1995 produced a larger island that persisted, possibly until a new eruption in mid-October 2019 destroyed it and built a new short-lived island. Information was provided by the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, and from satellite information and news sources.

Review of eruptions during 1967-1995. The first reported 20th century eruption at this location was observed by sailors beginning on 12 December 1967 (CSLP 02-67); incandescent ejecta rose several hundred meters into the air and "steam and smoke" rose at least 1,000 m from the ocean surface. The eruption created a small island that was reported to be a few tens of meters high, and a few thousand meters in length and width. Eruptive activity appeared to end in early January 1968, and the island quickly eroded beneath the surface by the end of February (figure 6). When observed in April 1968 the island was gone, with only plumes of yellowish water in the area of the former island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Waves break over Lateiki on 19 February 1968, more than a month after the end of a submarine eruption that began in December 1967 and produced a short-lived island. Photo by Charles Lundquist, 1968 (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory).

A large steam plume and ejecta were observed on 19 June 1979, along with a "growing area of tephra" around the site with a diameter of 16 km by the end of June (SEAN 04:06). Geologists visited the site in mid-July and at that time the island was about 300 m long, 120 m wide, and 15 m high, composed of tephra ranging in size from ash to large bombs (SEAN 04:07); ash emissions were still occurring from the E side of the island. It was determined that the new island was located about 1 km E of the 1967-68 island. By early October 1979 the island had nearly disappeared beneath the ocean surface.

A new eruption was first observed on 6 June 1995. A new island appeared above the waves as a growing lava dome on 12 June (BGVN 20:06). Numerous ash plumes rose hundreds of meters and dissipated downwind. By late June an elliptical dome, about 300 x 250 m in size and 50 m high, had stopped growing. The new island it formed was composed of hardened lava and not the tuff cones of earlier islands (figure 7) according to visitors to the island; pumice was not observed. An overflight of the area in December 2006 showed that an island was still present (figure 8), possibly from the June 1995 eruption. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery confirming the presence of Lateiki Island and discolored water was clearly recorded multiple times between 2015 and 2019. This suggests that the island created in 1995 could have lasted for more than 20 years (figure 9).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. An aerial view during the 1995 eruption of Lateiki forming a lava dome. Courtesy of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Lateiki Island as seen on 7 December 2006; possibly part of the island that formed in 1995. Courtesy of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery confirmed the existence of an island present from 2015 through 2019 with little changes to its shape. This suggests that the island created in 1995 could have lasted for more than 20 years. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

New eruption in October 2019. The Kingdom of Tonga reported a new eruption at Lateiki on 13 October 2019, first noted by a ship at 0800 on 14 October. NASA satellite imagery confirmed the eruption taking place that day (figure 10). The following morning a pilot from Real Tonga Airlines photographed the steam plume and reported a plume height of 4.6-5.2 km altitude (figure 11). The Wellington VAAC issued an aviation advisory report noting the pilot's observation of steam, but no ash plume was visible in satellite imagery. They issued a second report on 22 October of a similar steam plume reported by a pilot at 3.7 km altitude. The MODVOLC thermal alert system recorded three thermal alerts from Lateiki, one each on 18, 20, and 22 October 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. NASA's Worldview Aqua/MODIS satellite imagery taken on 14 October 2019 over the Ha'apai and Vava'u region of Tonga showing the new eruption at Lateiki. Neiafu, Vava'u, is at the top right and Tofua and Kao islands are at the bottom left. The inset shows a closeup of Late Island at the top right and a white steam plume rising from Lateiki. Courtesy of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga and NASA Worldview.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Real Tonga Airline's Captain Samuela Folaumoetu'I photographed a large steam plume rising from Lateiki on the morning of 15 October 2019. Courtesy of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga.

The first satellite image of the eruption on 15 October 2019 showed activity over a large area, much bigger than the preexisting island that was visible on 10 October (figure 12). Although the eruption produced a steam plume that drifted several tens of kilometers SW and strong incandescent activity, no ash plume was visible, similar to reports of dense steam with little ash during the 1968 and 1979 eruptions (figure 13). Strong incandescence and a dense steam plume were still present on 20 October (figure 14).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. The first satellite image of the eruption of Lateiki on 15 October 2019 showed activity over a large area, much bigger than the preexisting island that was visible on 10 October (inset). The two images are the same scale; the island was about 100 m in diameter before the eruption. Image uses Natural Color Rendering (bands 4, 3, 2). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. The steam plume from Lateiki on 15 October 2019 drifted more than 20 km SE from the volcano. A strong thermal anomaly from incandescent activity was present in the atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a) closeup of the same image (inset). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. A dense plume of steam drifted NW from Lateiki on 20 October 2019, and a strong thermal signal (inset) indicated ongoing explosive activity. Courtesy of Annamaria Luongo and Sentinel Hub Playground.

A clear satellite image on 30 October 2019 revealed an island estimated to be about 100 m wide and 400 m long, according to geologist Taaniela Kula of the Tonga Geological Service of the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources as reported by a local news source (Matangitonga). There was no obvious fumarolic steam activity from the surface, but a plume of greenish brown seawater swirled away from the island towards the NE (figure 15). In a comparison of the location of the old Lateiki island with the new one in satellite images, it was clear that the new island was located as far as 250 m to the NW (figure 16) on 30 October. Over the course of the next few weeks, the island's size decreased significantly; by 19 November, it was perhaps one-quarter the size it had been at the end of October. Lateiki Island continued to diminish during December 2019 and January 2020, and by mid-month only traces of discolored sea water were visible beneath the waves over the eruption site (figure 17).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. The new Lateiki Island was clearly visible on 30 October 2019 (top left), as was greenish-blue discoloration in the surrounding waters. It was estimated to be about 100 m wide and 400 m long that day. Its size decreased significantly over subsequent weeks; ten days later (top right) it was about half the size and two weeks later, on 14 November 2019 (bottom left), it was about one-third its original size. By 19 November (bottom right) only a fraction of the island remained. Greenish discolored water continued to be visible around the volcano. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16. The location of the new Lateiki Island (Metis Shoal), shown here on 30 October 2019 in red, was a few hundred meters to the NW of the old position recorded on 5 September 2019 (in white). Courtesy of Annamaria Luongo and Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Lateiki Island disappeared beneath the waves in early January 2020, though plumes of discolored water continued to be observed later in the month. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, PO Box 5, Nuku'alofa, Tonga (URL: http://www.gov.to/ ); Royal New Zealand Air Force (URL: http://www.airforce.mil.nz/); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/); 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); Annamaria Luongo, Brussels, Belgium (Twitter: @annamaria_84, URL: https://twitter.com/annamaria_84 ); Taaniela Kula, Tonga Geological Service, Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources; Matangi Tonga Online (URL: https://matangitonga.to/2019/11/06/eruption-lateiki).


Aira (Japan) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing explosions with ejecta and ash plumes, along with summit incandescence, during July-December 2019

Sakurajima is a highly active stratovolcano situated in the Aira caldera in southern Kyushu, Japan. Common volcanism for this recent eruptive episode since March 2017 includes frequent explosions, ash plumes, and scattered ejecta. Much of this activity has been focused in the Minamidake crater since 1955; the Showa crater on the E flank has had intermittent activity since 2006. This report updates activity during July through December 2019 with the primary source information from monthly reports by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and various satellite data.

During July to December 2019, explosive eruptions and ash plumes were reported multiple times per week by JMA. November was the most active, with 137 eruptive events, seven of which were explosive while August was the least active with no eruptive events recorded (table 22). Ash plumes rose between 800 m to 5.5 km above the crater rim during this reporting period. Large blocks of incandescent ejecta traveled as far as 1.7 km from the Minamidake crater during explosions in September through December. The Kagoshima Regional Meteorological Observatory (11 km WSW) reported monthly amounts of ashfall during each month, with a high of 143 g/m2 during October. Occasionally at night throughout this reporting period, crater incandescence was observed with a highly sensitive surveillance camera. All explosive activity originated from the Minamidake crater; the adjacent Showa crater produced mild thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam plumes.

Table 22. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Sakurajima's Minamidake crater in the Aira caldera, July through December 2019. The number of events that were explosive in nature are in parentheses. No events were recorded at the Showa crater during this time. Ashfall is measured at the Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory (KLMO), 10 km W of Showa crater. Data courtesy of JMA (July to December 2019 monthly reports).

Month Ash emissions (explosive) Max plume height above crater Max ejecta distance from crater Total amount of ashfall (g/m2)
Jul 2019 9 (5) 3.8 km 1.1 km --
Aug 2019 -- 800 m -- 2
Sep 2019 32 (11) 3.4 km 1.7 km 115
Oct 2019 62 (41) 3.0 km 1.7 km 143
Nov 2019 137 (77) 5.5 km 1.7 km 69
Dec 2019 71 (49) 3.3 km 1.7 km 54

An explosion that occurred at 1044 on 4 July 2019 produced an ash plume that rose up to 3.2 km above the Minamidake crater rim and ejected material 1.1 km from the vent. Field surveys conducted on 17 and 23 July measured SO2 emissions that were 1,200-1,800 tons/day. Additional explosions between 19-22 July generated smaller plumes that rose to 1.5 km above the crater and ejected material 1.1 km away. On 28 July explosions at 1725 and 1754 produced ash plumes 3.5-3.8 km above the crater rim, which resulted in ashfall in areas N and E of Sakurajima (figure 86), including Kirishima City (20 km NE), Kagoshima Prefecture (30 km SE), Yusui Town (40 km N), and parts of the Kumamoto Prefecture (140 km NE).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Photo of the Sakurajima explosion at 1725 on 28 July 2019 resulting in an ash plume rising 3.8 km above the crater (left). An on-site field survey on 29 July observed ashfall on roads and vegetation on the N side of the island (right). Photo by Moto Higashi-gun (left), courtesy of JMA (July 2019 report).

The month of August 2019 showed the least activity and consisted of mainly small eruptive events occurring up to 800 m above the crater; summit incandescence was observed with a highly sensitive surveillance camera. SO2 emissions were measured on 8 and 13 August with 1,000-2,000 tons/day, which was slightly greater than the previous month. An extensometer at the Arimura Observation Tunnel and an inclinometer at the Amida River recorded slight inflation on 29 August, but continuous GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) observations showed no significant changes.

In September 2019 there were 32 eruptive events recorded, of which 11 were explosions, more than the previous two months. Seismicity also increased during this month. An extensometer and inclinometer recorded inflation at the Minamidake crater on 9 September, which stopped after the eruptive events. On 16 September, an eruption at 0746 produced an ash plume that rose 2.8 km above the crater rim and drifted SW; a series of eruptive events followed from 0830-1110 (figure 87). Explosions on 18 and 20 September produced ash plumes that rose 3.4 km above the crater rim and ejecting material as far as 1.7 km from the summit crater on the 18th and 700 m on the 20th. Field surveys measured an increased amount of SO2 emissions ranging from 1,100 to 2,300 tons/day during September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Webcam image of an ash plume rising 2.8 km from the Minamidake crater at Sakurajima on 16 September 2019. Courtesy of Weathernews Inc.

Seismicity, SO2 emissions, and the number of eruptions continued to increase in October 2019, 41 of which were explosive. Field surveys conducted on 1, 11, and 15 October reported that SO2 emissions were 2,000-2,800 tons/day. An explosion at 0050 on 12 October produced an ash plume that traveled 1.7 km from the Minamidake crater. Explosions between 16 and 19 October produced an ash plume that rose up to 3 km above the crater rim (figure 88). The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force 1st Air group observed gas-and-steam plumes rising from both the Minamidake and Showa craters on 25 October. The inflation reported from 16 September began to slow in late October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Photos taken from the E side of Sakurajima showing gas-and-steam emissions with some amount of ash rising from the volcano on 16 October 2019 after an explosion around 1200 that day (top). At night, summit incandescence is observed (bottom). Courtesy of Bradley Pitcher, Vanderbilt University.

November 2019 was the most active month during this reporting period with increased seismicity, SO2 emissions, and 137 eruptive events, 77 of which were explosive. GNSS observations indicated that inflation began to slow during this month. On 8 November, an explosion at 1724 produced an ash plume up to a maximum of 5.5 km above the crater rim and drifted E. This explosion ejected large blocks as far as 500-800 m away from the crater (figure 89). The last time plumes rose above 5 km from the vents occurred on 26 July 2016 at the Showa crater and on 7 October 2000 at the Minamidake crater. Field surveys on 8, 21, and 29 November measured increased SO2 emissions ranging from 2,600 to 3,600 tons/day. Eruptions between 13-19 November produced ash plumes that rose up to 3.6 km above the crater and ejected large blocks up 1.7 km away. An onsite survey on 29 November used infrared thermal imaging equipment to observe incandescence and geothermal areas near the Showa crater and the SE flank of Minamidake (figure 90).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Photos of an ash plume rising 5.5 km above Sakurajima on 8 November 2019 and drifting E. Photo by Moto Higashi-gun (top left), courtesy of JMA (November 2019 report) and the Geoscientific Network of Chile.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Webcam image of nighttime incandescence and gas-and-steam emissions with some amount of ash at Sakurajima on 29 November 2019. Courtesy of JMA (November 2019 report).

Volcanism, which included seismicity, SO2 emissions, and eruptive events, decreased during December 2019. Explosions during 4-10 December produced ash plumes that rose up to 2.6 km above the crater rim and ejected material up to 1.7 km away. Field surveys conducted on 6, 16, and 23 December measured SO2 emissions around 1,000-3,000 tons/day. On 24 December, an explosion produced an ash plume that rose to 3.3 km above the crater rim, this high for this month.

Sentinel-2 natural color satellite imagery showed dense ash plumes in late August 2019, early November, and through December (figure 91). These plumes drifted in different directions and rose to a maximum 5.5 km above the crater rim on 8 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Natural color Sentinel-2 satellite images of Sakurajima within the Aira caldera from late August through December 2019 showed dense ash plumes rising from the Minamidake crater. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed intermittent thermal anomalies beginning in mid-August to early September 2019 after a nearly two-month hiatus (figure 92). Activity increased by early November and continued through December. Three Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images between late July and early October showed distinct thermal hotspots within the Minamidake crater, in addition to faint gas-and-steam emissions in July and September (figure 93).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. Thermal anomalies at Sakurajima during January-December 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) started up in mid-August to early September after a two-month break and continued through December. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing small thermal anomalies and gas-and-steam emissions (left and middle) at Sakurajima within the Minamidake crater between late July and early October 2019. All images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Weathernews Inc. (Twitter: @wni_jp, https://twitter.com/wni_jp, URL: https://weathernews.jp/s/topics/201608/210085/, photo posted at https://twitter.com/wni_jp/status/1173382407216652289); Bradley Pitcher, Vanderbilt University, Nashville. TN, USA (URL: https://bradpitcher.weebly.com/, Twitter: @TieDyeSciGuy, photo posted at https://twitter.com/TieDyeSciGuy/status/1185191225101471744); Geoscientific Network of Chile (Twitter: @RedGeoChile, https://twitter.com/RedGeoChile, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RedGeoChile/, photo posted at https://twitter.com/RedGeoChile/status/1192921768186515456).


Suwanosejima (Japan) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions, ash emissions, and summit incandescence in July-December 2019

Suwanosejima, located south of Japan in the northern Ryukyu Islands, is an active andesitic stratovolcano that has had continuous activity since October 2004, typically producing ash plumes and Strombolian explosions. Much of this activity is focused within the Otake crater. This report updates information during July through December 2019 using monthly reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

White gas-and-steam plumes rose from Suwanosejima on 26 July 2019, 30-31 August, 1-6, 10, and 20-27 September, reaching a maximum altitude of 2.4 km on 10 September, according to Tokyo VAAC advisories. Intermittent gray-white plumes were observed rising from the summit during October through December (figure 40).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Surveillance camera images of white gas-and-steam emissions rising from Suwanosejima on 10 December 2019 (left) and up to 1.8 km above the crater rim on 28 December (right). At night, summit incandescence was also observed on 10 December. Courtesy of JMA.

An explosion that occurred at 2331 on 1 August 2019 ejected material 400 m from the crater while other eruptions on 3-6 and 26 August produced ash plumes that rose up to a maximum altitude of 2.1 km and drifted generally NW according to the Tokyo VAAC report. JMA reported eruptions and summit incandescence in September accompanied by white gas-and-steam plumes, but no explosions were noted. Eruptions on 19 and 29 October produced ash plumes that rose 300 and 800 m above the crater rim, resulting in ashfall in Toshima (4 km SW), according to the Toshima Village Office, Suwanosejima Branch Office. Another eruption on 30 October produced a similar gray-white plume rising 800 m above the crater rim but did not result in ashfall. Similar activity continued in November with eruptions on 5-7 and 13-15 November producing grayish-white plumes rising 900 m and 1.5 km above the crater rim and frequent crater incandescence. Ashfall was reported in Toshima Village on 19 and 20 November; the 20 November eruption ejected material 200 m from the Otake crater.

Field surveys on 14 and 18 December using an infrared thermal imaging system to the E of Suwanose Island showed hotspots around the Otake crater, on the N slope of the crater, and on the upper part of the E coastline. GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) observations on 15 and 17 December showed a slight change in the baseline length. After 2122 on 25-26 and 31 December, 23 eruptions, nine of which were explosive were reported, producing gray-white plumes that rose 800-1,800 m above the crater rim and ejected material up to 600 m from the Otake crater. JMA reported volcanic tremors occurred intermittently throughout this reporting period.

Incandescence at the summit crater was occasionally visible at night during July through December 2019, as recorded by webcam images and reported by JMA (figure 41). MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed weak thermal anomalies that occurred dominantly in November with little to no activity recorded between July and October (figure 42). Two Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images in early November and late December showed thermal hotspots within the summit crater (figure 43).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Surveillance camera image of summit incandescence at Suwanosejima on 31 October 2019. Courtesy of JMA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Weak thermal anomalies at Suwanosejima during January-December 2019 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power) dominantly occurred in mid-March, late May to mid-June, and November, with two hotspots detected in late September and late December. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing small thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) within the Otake crater at Suwanosejima on 8 November 2019 (left) and faintly on 23 December 2019 behind clouds (right). Both images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

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


Barren Island (India) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Barren Island

India

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Thermal anomalies and small ash plumes during February-April 2019 and September 2019-January 2020

Barren Island is a remote stratovolcano located east of India in the Andaman Islands. Its most recent eruptive episode began in September 2018 and has included lava flows, explosions, ash plumes, and lava fountaining (BGVN 44:02). This report updates information from February 2019 through January 2020 using various satellite data as a primary source of information.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed intermittent thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit from mid-February 2019 through January 2020 (figure 41). There was a period of relatively low to no discernible activity between May to September 2019. The MODVOLC algorithm for MODIS thermal anomalies in comparison with Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery and Suomi NPP/VIIRS sensor data, registered elevated temperatures during late February 2019, early March, sparsely in April, late October, sparsely in November, early December, and intermittently in January 2020 (figure 42). Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery shows these thermal hotspots differing in strength from late February to late January 2020 (figure 43). The thermal anomalies in these satellite images are occasionally accompanied by ash plumes (25 February 2019, 23 October 2019, and 21 January 2020) and gas-and-steam emissions (26 April 2019).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. Intermittent thermal anomalies at Barren Island for 20 February 2019 through January 2020 occurred dominantly between late March to late April 2019 and late September 2019 through January 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Timeline summary of observed activity at Barren Island from February 2019 through January 2020. For Sentinel-2, MODVOLC, and VIIRS data, the dates indicated are when thermal anomalies were detected. White areas indicated no activity was observed, which may also be due to meteoric clouds. Data courtesy of Darwin VAAC, Sentinel Hub Playground, HIGP, and NASA Worldview using the "Fire and Thermal Anomalies" layer.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Sentinel-2 thermal images show ash plumes, gas-and-steam emissions, and thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) at Barren Island during February 2019-January 2020. The strongest thermal signature was observed on 23 October while the weakest one is observed on 26 January. Sentinel-2 False color (bands 12, 11, 4) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported ash plumes rising from the summit on 7, 14, and 16 March 2019. The maximum altitude of the ash plume occurred on 7 March, rising 1.8 km altitude, drifting W and NW and 1.2 km altitude, drifting E and ESE, based on observations from Himawari-8. The VAAC reports for 14 and 16 March reported the ash plumes rising 0.9 km and 1.2 km altitude, respectively drifting W and W.

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

Information Contacts: 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/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/).


Whakaari/White Island (New Zealand) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Whakaari/White Island

New Zealand

37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 294 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosion producing an ash plume and pyroclastic surge resulted in fatalities and injuries on 9 December 2019

Whakaari/White Island has been New Zealand's most active volcano since 1976. Located 48 km offshore, the volcano is a popular tourism destination with tours leaving the town of Whakatane with approximately 17,500 people visiting the island in 2018. Ten lives were lost in 1914 when part of the crater wall collapsed, impacting sulfur miners. More recently, a brief explosion at 1411 on 9 December 2019 produced an ash plume and pyroclastic surge that impacted the entire crater area. With 47 people on the island at the time, the death toll stood at 21 on 3 February 2019. At that time more patients were still in hospitals within New Zealand or their home countries.

The island is the summit of a large underwater volcano, with around 70% of the edifice below the ocean and rising around 900 m above sea level (figure 70). A broad crater opens to the ocean to the SE, with steep crater walls and an active Main Crater area to the NW rear of the crater floor (figure 71). Although the island is privately owned, GeoNet continuously monitors activity both remotely and with visits to the volcano. This Bulletin covers activity from May 2017 through December 2019 and is based on reports by GeoNet, the New Zealand Civil Defence Bay of Plenty Emergency Management Group, satellite data, and footage taken by visitors to the island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. The top of the Whakaari/White Island edifice forms the island in the Bay of Plenty area, New Zealand, while 70% of the volcano is below sea level. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. This photo from 2004 shows the Main Crater area of Whakaari/White Island with the vent area indicated. The crater is an amphitheater shape with the crater floor distance between the vent and the ocean entry being about 700 m. The sediment plume begins at the area where tour boats dock at the island. Photo by Karen Britten, graphic by Danielle Charlton at University of Auckland; courtesy of GeoNet (11 December 2019 report).

Nearly continuous activity occurred from December 1975 to September 2000, including the formation of collapse and explosion craters producing ash emissions and explosions that impacted all of the Main Crater area. More recently, it has been in a state of elevated unrest since 2011. Renewed activity commenced with an explosive eruption on 5 August 2012 that was followed by the extrusion of a lava dome and ongoing phreatic explosions and minor ash emissions through March 2013. An ash cone was seen on 4 March 2013, and over the next few months the crater lake reformed. Further significant explosions took place on 20 August and 4, 8, and 11 October 2013. A landslide occurred in November 2015 with material descending into the lake. More recent activity on 27 April 2016 produced a short-lived eruption that deposited material across the crater floor and walls. A short period of ash emission later that year, on 13 September 2016, originated from a vent on the recent lava dome. Explosive eruptions occur with little to no warning.

Since 19 September 2016 the Volcanic Alert Level (VAL) was set to 1 (minor volcanic unrest) (figure 72). During early 2017 background activity in the crater continued, including active fumaroles emitting volcanic gases and steam from the active geothermal system, boiling springs, volcanic tremor, and deformation. By April 2017 a new crater lake had begun to form, the first since the April 2016 explosion when the lake floor was excavated an additional 13 m. Before this, there were areas where water ponded in depressions within the Main Crater but no stable lake.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. The New Zealand Volcanic Alert Level system up to date in February 2020. Courtesy of GeoNet.

Activity from mid-2017 through 2018. In July-August 2017 GeoNet scientists carried out the first fieldwork at the crater area since late 2015 to sample the new crater lake and gas emissions. The crater lake was significantly cooler than the past lakes at 20°C, compared to 30-70°C that was typical previously. Chemical analysis of water samples collected in July showed the lowest concentrations of most "volcanic elements" in the lake for the past 10-15 years due to the reduced volcanic gases entering the lake. The acidity remained similar to that of battery acid. Gas emissions from the 2012 dome were 114°C, which were over 450°C in 2012 and 330°C in 2016. Fumarole 0 also had a reduced temperature of 152°C, reduced from over 190°C in late 2016 (figure 73). The observations and measurements indicated a decline in unrest. Further visits in December 2017 noted relatively low-level unrest including 149°C gas emissions from fumarole 0, a small crater lake, and loud gas vents nearby (figures 74 and 75). By 27 November the lake had risen to 10 m below overflow. Analysis of water samples led to an estimate of 75% of the lake water resulting from condensing steam vents below the lake and the rest from rainfall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. A GeoNet scientists conducting field work near Fumarole 0, an accessible gas vent on Whakaari/White Island in August 2017. Courtesy of GeoNet (23 August 2017 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. GeoNet scientists sample gas emissions from vents on the 2012 Whakaari/White Island dome. The red circle in the left image indicates the location of the scientists. Courtesy of GeoNet (23 August 2017 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. Active fumaroles and vents in the Main Crater of Whakaari/White Island including Fumarole 0 (top left). The crater lake formed in mid-2017 and gas emissions rise from surrounding vents (right). Courtesy of GeoNet (22 December 2017 report).

Routine fieldwork by GeoNet monitoring teams in early March 2018 showed continued low-level unrest and no apparent changes after a recent nearby earthquake swarm. The most notable change was the increase in the crater lake size, likely a response from recent high rainfall (figure 76). The water remained a relatively cool 27°C. Temperatures continued to decline at the 2012 dome vent (128°C) and Fumarole 0 (138°C). Spring and stream flow had also declined. Deformation was observed towards the Active Crater of 2-5 mm per month and seismicity remained low. The increase in lake level drowned gas vents along the lake shore resulting in geyser-like activity (figure 77). GeoNet warned that a new eruption could occur at any time, often without any useful warning.

In mid-April 2018 visitors reported loud sounds from the crater area as a result of the rising lake level drowning vents on the 2012 dome (in the western side of the crater) and resulting in steam-driven activity. There was no notable change in volcanic activity. The sounds stopped by July 2018 as the geothermal system adjusted to the rising water, up to 17 m below overfill and filling at a rate of about 2,000 m3 per day, rising towards more active vents (figure 78). A gas monitoring flight taken on 12 September showed a steaming lake surrounded by active fumaroles along the crater wall (figure 79).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. The increase in the Whakaari/White Island crater lake size in early March 2018 with gas plumes rising from vents on the other side. Courtesy of GeoNet (19 March 2018 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. The increasing crater lake level at Whakaari/White Island produced geyser-like activity on the lake shore in March 2018. Courtesy of Brad Scott, GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Stills taken from a drone video of the Whakaari/White Island Main Crater lake and active vents producing gas emissions. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Photos taken during a gas monitoring flight with GNS Science at Whakaari/White Island show gas and steam emissions, and a steaming crater lake on 12 September 2018. Note the people for scale on the lower-right crater rim in the bottom photograph. Copyright of Ben Clarke, University of Leicester, used with permission.

Activity during April to early December 2019. A GeoNet volcanic alert bulletin in April 2019 reported that steady low-level unrest continued. The level of the lake had been declining since late January and was back down to 13 m below overflow (figure 80). The water temperature had increased to over 60°C due to the fumarole activity below the lake. Fumarole 0 remained steady at around 120-130°C. During May-June a seismic swarm was reported offshore, unrelated to volcanic activity but increasing the risk of landslides within the crater due to the shallow locations.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Planet Labs satellite images from March 2018 to April 2019 show fluctuations in the Whakaari/White Island crater lake level. Image copyright 2019 Planet Labs, Inc.

On 26 June the VAL was raised to level 2 (moderate to heightened volcanic unrest) due to increased SO2 flux rising to historically high levels. An overflight that day detected 1,886 tons/day, nearly three times the previous values of May 2019, the highest recorded value since 2013, and the second highest since measurements began in 2003. The VAL was subsequently lowered on 1 July due to a reduction in detected SO2 emissions of 880 tons/day on 28 June and 693 tons/day on 29 June.

GeoNet reported on 26 September that there was an increase in steam-driven activity within the active crater over the past three weeks. This included small geyser-like explosions of mud and steam with material reaching about 10 m above the lake. This was not attributed to an increase in volcanic activity, but to the crater lake level rising since early August.

On 30 October an increase in background activity was reported. An increasing trend in SO2 gas emissions and volcanic tremor had been ongoing for several months and had reached the highest levels since 2016. This indicated to GeoNet that Whakaari/White Island might be entering a period where eruptive activity was more likely. There were no significant changes in other monitoring parameters at this time and fumarole activity continued (figure 81).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. A webcam image taken at 1030 on 30 October 2019 from the crater rim shows the Whakaari/White Island crater lake to the right of the amphitheater-shaped crater and gas-and-steam plumes from active fumaroles. Courtesy of GeoNet.

On 18 November the VAL was raised to level 2 and the Aviation Colour Code was raised to Yellow due to further increase in SO2 emissions and volcanic tremor. Other monitoring parameters showed no significant changes. On 25 November GeoNet reported that moderate volcanic unrest continued but with no new changes. Gas emissions remained high and gas-driven ejecta regularly jetting material a few meters into the air above fumaroles in the crater lake (figure 82).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. A webcam image from the Whakaari/White Island crater rim shows gas-driven ejecta rising above a fumarole within the crater lake on 22 November 2019. Courtesy of GeoNet.

GeoNet reported on 3 December that moderate volcanic unrest continued, with increased but variable explosive gas and steam-driven jetting, with stronger events ejecting mud 20-30 m into the air and depositing mud around the vent area. Gas emissions and volcanic tremor remained elevated and occasional gas smells were reported on the North Island mainland depending on wind direction. The crater lake water level remained unchanged. Monitoring parameters were similar to those observed in 2011-2016 and remained within the expected range for moderate volcanic unrest.

Eruption on 9 December 2019. A short-lived eruption occurred at 1411 on 9 December 2019, generating a steam-and-ash plume to 3.6 km and covering the entire crater floor area with ash. Video taken by tourists on a nearby boat showed an eruption plume composed of a white steam-rich portion, and a black ash-rich ejecta (figure 83). A pyroclastic surge moved laterally across the crater floor and up the inner crater walls. Photos taken soon after the eruption showed sulfur-rich deposits across the crater floor and crater walls, and a helicopter that had been damaged and blown off the landing pad (figure 84). This activity caused the VAL to be raised to 4 (moderate volcanic eruption) and the Aviation Colour Code being raised to Orange.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. The beginning of the Whakaari/White Island 9 December 2019 eruption viewed from a boat that left the island about 20-30 minutes prior. Top: the steam-rich eruption plume rising above the volcano and a pyroclastic surge beginning to rise over the crater rim. Bottom: the expanded steam-and-ash plume of the pyroclastic surge that flowed over the crater floor to the ocean. Copyright of Michael Schade, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. This photo of Whakaari/White Island taken after the 9 December 2019 eruption at around 1424 shows ash and sediment coating the crater floor and walls. The helicopter in this image was blown off the landing pad and damaged during the eruption. Copyright of Michael Schade, used with permission.

A steam plume was visible in a webcam image taken at 1430 from Whakatane, 21 minutes after the explosion (figure 85). Subsequent explosions occurred at 1630 and 1749. Search-and-Rescue teams reached the island after the eruption and noted a very strong sulfur smell that was experienced through respirators. They experienced severe stinging of any exposed skin that came in contact with the gas, and were left with sensitive skin and eyes, and sore throats. Later in the afternoon the gas-and-steam plume continued and a sediment plume was dispersing from the island (figure 86). The VAL was lowered to level 3 (minor volcanic eruption) at 1625 that day; the Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A view of Whakaari/White Island from Whakatane in the North Island of New Zealand. Left: there is no plume visible at 1410 on 9 December 2019, one minute before the eruption. Right: A gas-and-steam plume is visible 21 minutes after the eruption. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. A gas-and-steam plume rises from Whakaari/White Island on the afternoon of 9 December 2019 as rescue teams visit the island. A sediment plume in the ocean is dispersing from the island. Courtesy of Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

During or immediately after the eruption an unstable portion of the SW inner crater wall, composed of 1914 landslide material, collapsed and was identified in satellite radar imagery acquired after the eruption. The material slid into the crater lake area and left a 12-m-high scarp. Movement in this area continued into early January.

Activity from late 2019 into early 2020. A significant increase in volcanic tremor began at around 0400 on 11 December (figure 87). The increase was accompanied by vigorous steaming and ejections of mud in several of the new vents. By the afternoon the tremor was at the highest level seen since the 2016 eruption, and monitoring data indicated that shallow magma was driving the increased unrest.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. This RSAM (Real-Time Seismic Amplitude) time series plot represents the energy produced at Whakaari/White Island from 11 November to 11 December 2019 with the Volcanic Activity Levels and the 9 December eruption indicated. The plot shows the sharp increase in seismic energy during 11 December. Courtesy of GeoNet (11 December 2019 report).

The VAL was lowered to 2 on the morning of 12 December to reflect moderate to heightened unrest as no further explosive activity had occurred since the event on the 9th. Volcanic tremor was occurring at very high levels by the time a bulletin was released at 1025 that day. Gas emissions increased since 10 January, steam and mud jetting continued, and the situation was interpreted to be highly volatile. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange. Risk assessment maps released that day show the high-risk areas as monitoring parameters continued to show an increased likelihood of another eruption (figure 88).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Risk assessment maps of Whakaari/White Island show the increase in high-risk areas from 2 December to 12 December 2019. Courtesy of GeoNet (12 December 2019 report).

The volcanic activity bulletin for 13 December reported that volcanic tremor remained high, but had declined overnight. Vigorous steam and mud jetting continuing at the vent area. Brief ash emission was observed in the evening with ashfall restricted to the vent area. The 14 January bulletin reported that volcanic tremor had declined significantly over night, and nighttime webcam images showed a glow in the vent area due to high heat flow.

Aerial observations on 14 and 15 December revealed steam and gas emissions continuing from at least three open vents within a 100 m2 area (figure 89). One vent near the back of the crater area was emitting transparent, high-temperature gas that indicated that magma was near the surface, and produced a glow registered by low-light cameras (figure 90). The gas emissions had a blue tinge that indicated high SO2 content. The area that once contained the crater lake, 16 m below overflow before the eruption, was filled with debris and small isolated ponds mostly from rainfall, with different colors due to the water reacting with the eruption deposits. The gas-and-steam plume was white near the volcano but changed to a gray-brown color as it cooled and moved downwind due to the gas content (figure 91). On 15 December the tremor remained at low levels (figure 92).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. The Main Crater area of Whakaari/White Island showing the active vent area and gas-and-steam emissions on 15 December 2019. Gas emissions were high within the circled area. Before the eruption a few days earlier this area was partially filled by the crater lake. Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. A low-light nighttime camera at Whakaari/White Island imaged "a glow" at a vent within the active crater area on 13 December 2019. This glow is due to high-temperature gas emissions and light from external sources like the moon. Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. A gas-and-steam plume at Whakaari/White Island on 15 December 2019 is white near the crater and changes to a grey-brown color downwind due to the gas content. Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. The Whakaari/White Island seismic drum plot showing the difference in activity from 12 December (top) to 15 December (bottom). Courtesy of GeoNet (15 December 2019 report).

On 19 December tremor remained low (figure 93) and gas and steam emission continued. Overflight observations confirmed open vents with one producing temperatures over 650°C (figure 94). SO2 emissions remained high at around 15 kg/s, slightly lower than the 20 kg/s detected on 12 December. Small amounts of ash were produced on 23 and 26 December due to material entering the vents during erosion.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. This RSAM (Real-Time Seismic Amplitude) time series plot represents the energy produced at Whakaari/White Island from 1 November to mid-December 2019. The Volcanic Alert Levels and the 9 December eruption are indicated. Courtesy of GeoNet.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. A photograph and thermal infrared image of the Whakaari/White Island crater area on 19 December 2019. The thermal imaging registered temperatures up to 650°C at a vent emitting steam and gas. Courtesy of GeoNet.

The Aviation Colour Code was reduced to Yellow on 6 January 2020 and the VAL remained at 2. Strong gas and steam emissions continued from the vent area through early January and the glow persisted in nighttime webcam images. Short-lived episodes of volcanic tremor were recorded between 8-10 January and were accompanied by minor explosions. A 15 January bulletin reported that the temperature at the vent area remained very hot, up to 440°C, and SO2 emissions were within normal post-eruption levels.

High temperatures were detected within the vent area in Sentinel-2 thermal data on 6 and 16 January (figure 95). Lava extrusion was confirmed within the 9 December vents on 20 January. Airborne SO2 measurements on that day recorded continued high levels and the vent temperature was over 400°C. Observations on 4 February showed that no new lava extrusion had occurred, and gas fluxes were lower than two weeks ago, but still elevated. The temperatures measured in the crater were 550-570°C and no further changes to the area were observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Sentinel-2 thermal infrared satellite images show elevated temperatures in the 9 December 2019 vent area on Whakaari/White Island. False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: New Zealand GeoNet Project, a collaboration between the Earthquake Commission and GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz/); GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/); Bay of Plenty Emergency Management Group Civil Defense, New Zealand (URL: http://www.bopcivildefence.govt.nz/); Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, Auckland, New Zealand (URL: https://www.rescuehelicopter.org.nz/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Ben Clarke, The University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH, United Kingdom (URL: https://le.ac.uk/geology, Twitter: https://twitter.com/PyroclasticBen); Michael Schade, San Francisco, USA (URL: https://twitter.com/sch).


Kadovar (Papua New Guinea) — January 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kadovar

Papua New Guinea

3.608°S, 144.588°E; summit elev. 365 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent gas and some ash emissions during May-December 2019 with some hot avalanches

Kadovar is an island volcano north of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Manam. The first confirmed historical activity began in January 2018 and resulted in the evacuation of residents from the island. Eruptive activity through 2018 changed the morphology of the SE side of the island and activity continued through 2019 (figure 36). This report summarizes activity from May through December 2019 and is based largely on various satellite data, tourist reports, and Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reports.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. The morphological changes to Kadovar from 2017 to June 2019. Top: the vegetated island has a horseshoe-shaped crater that opens towards the SE; the population of the island was around 600 people at this time. Middle: by May 2018 the eruption was well underway with an active summit crater and an active dome off the east flank. Much of the vegetation has been killed and ashfall covers a lot of the island. Bottom: the bay below the SE flank has filled in with volcanic debris. The E-flank coastal dome is no longer active, but activity continues at the summit. PlanetScope satellite images copyright Planet Labs 2019.

Since this eruptive episode began a large part of the island has been deforested and has undergone erosion (figure 37). Activity in early 2019 included regular gas and steam emissions, ash plumes, and thermal anomalies at the summit (BGVN 44:05). On 15 May an ash plume originated from two vents at the summit area and dispersed to the east. A MODVOLC thermal alert was also issued on this day, and again on 17 May. Elevated temperatures were detected in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite data on 20, 21, and 30 May (figure 38), with accompanying gas-and-steam plumes dispersing to the NNW and NW. On 30 May the area of elevated temperature extended to the SE shoreline, indicating an avalanche of hot material reaching the water.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. The southern flank of Kadovar seen here on 13 November 2019 had been deforested by eruptive activity and erosion had produced gullies down the flanks. Copyrighted photo by Chrissie Goldrick, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 38. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images show elevated temperatures at the summit area, and down to the coast in the top image. Gas-and-steam plumes are visible dispersing towards the NW. Sentinel-2 false color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel-Hub Playground.

Throughout June cloud-free Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed elevated temperatures at the summit area and extending down the upper SE flank (figure 38). Gas-and-steam plumes were persistent in every Sentinel-2 and NASA Suomi NPP / VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) image. MODVOLC thermal alerts were issued on 4 and 9 June. Similar activity continued through July with gas-and-steam emissions visible in every cloud-free satellite image. Thermal anomalies appeared weaker in late-July but remained at the summit area. An ash plume was imaged on 17 July by Landsat 8 with a gas-and-ash plume dispersing to the west (figure 39). Thermal anomalies continued through August with a MODVOLC thermal alert issued on the 14th. Gas emissions also continued and a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) was issued on the 19th reporting an ash plume to an altitude of 1.5 km and drifting NW.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. An ash plume rising above Kadovar and a gas plume dispersing to the NW on 17 July 2019. Truecolor pansharpened Landsat 8 satellite image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

An elongate area extending from the summit area to the E-flank coastal dome appears lighter in color in a 7 September Sentinel-2 natural color satellite image, and as a higher temperature area in the correlating thermal bands, indicating a hot avalanche deposit. These observations along with the previous avalanche, persistent elevated summit temperatures, and persistent gas and steam emissions from varying vent locations (figure 40) suggests that the summit dome has remained active through 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Sentinel-2 visible and thermal satellite images acquired on 7 September 2019 show fresh deposits down the east flank of Kadovar. They appear as a lighter colored area in visible, and show as a hot area (orange) in thermal data. Sentinel-2 natural color (bands 4, 3, 2) and false color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel-Hub Playground.

Thermal anomalies and emissions continued through to the end of 2019 (figure 41). A tour group witnessed an explosion producing an ash plume at around 1800 on 13 November (figure 42). While the ash plume erupted near-vertically above the island, a more diffuse gas plume rose from multiple vents on the summit dome and dispersed at a lower altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. The summit area of Kadovar emitting gas-and-steam plumes in August, September, and November 2019. The plumes are persistent in satellite images throughout May through December and there is variation in the number and locations of the source vents. PlanetScope satellite images copyright Planet Labs 2019.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. An ash plume and a lower gas plume rise during an eruption of Kadovar on 13 November 2019. The summit lava dome is visibly degassing to produce the white gas plume. Copyrighted photos by Chrissie Goldrick, used with permission.

While gas plumes were visible throughout May-December 2019 (figure 43), SO2 plumes were difficult to detect in NASA SO2 images due to the activity of nearby Manam volcano. The MIROVA thermal detection system shows continued elevated temperatures through to early December, with an increase during May-June (figure 44). Sentinel-2 thermal images showed elevated temperatures through to the end of December but at a lower intensity than previous months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. This photo of the southeast side Kadovar on 13 November 2019 shows a persistent low-level gas plume blowing towards the left and a more vigorous plume is visible near the crater. This is an example of the persistent plume visible in satellite imagery throughout July-December 2019. Copyrighted photo by Chrissie Goldrick, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. The MIROVA plot of radiative power at Kadovar shows thermal anomalies throughout 2019 with some variations in frequency. Note that while the black lines indicate that the thermal anomalies are greater than 5 km from the vent, the designated summit location is inaccurate so these are actually a the summit crater and on the E flank. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Geologic Background. The 2-km-wide island of Kadovar is the emergent summit of a Bismarck Sea stratovolcano of Holocene age. It is part of the Schouten Islands, and lies off the coast of New Guinea, about 25 km N of the mouth of the Sepik River. Prior to an eruption that began in 2018, a lava dome formed the high point of the andesitic volcano, filling an arcuate landslide scarp open to the south; submarine debris-avalanche deposits occur in that direction. Thick lava flows with columnar jointing forms low cliffs along the coast. The youthful island lacks fringing or offshore reefs. A period of heightened thermal phenomena took place in 1976. An eruption began in January 2018 that included lava effusion from vents at the summit and at the E coast.

Information Contacts: 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/); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov); Chrissie Goldrick, Australian Geographic, Level 7, 54 Park Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia (URL: https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/).

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 36, Number 11 (November 2011)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Chaiten (Chile)

Declining vigor; magma ascent rate; disaster recovery in the town of Chaitén

Katla (Iceland)

Jökulhlaup and elevated seismicity in 2011; filming sparks eruption fears

Lokon-Empung (Indonesia)

Ongoing minor ash-bearing eruptions through at least November 2011

Masaya (Nicaragua)

Degassing through at least mid-2011; episodic crater wall collapse

Pinatubo (Philippines)

Hardships and economic impact of the 1991 eruption

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

Seismicity and small ash plumes continue through December 2011

Soputan (Indonesia)

Eruptions in July and August 2011

Telica (Nicaragua)

Degassing in 2011; seismic crisis leading to explosive eruption in May 2011

Zubair Group (Yemen)

December 2011 submarine eruption spotted by fishermen; island emerges



Chaiten (Chile) — November 2011 Citation iconCite this Report

Chaiten

Chile

42.833°S, 72.646°W; summit elev. 1122 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Declining vigor; magma ascent rate; disaster recovery in the town of Chaitén

The previous report on Chaitén volcano, Chile (BGVN 35:12) noted that a second new lava dome was reported on 4 November 2008. The Alert Level remained at Red (the highest of the alert level system) from the onset of the eruption on 2 May 2008 through April 2010. This report will chronologically summarize the growth of the new lava domes and major eruptive events. In general, a gradual decline in activity occurred during November 2008-September 2011. The Alert Level stood at Yellow during May 2010-May 2011, and was then lowered to Green, where it remained through the end of 2011. Most of the information in this report comes from weekly to monthly reports from the Observatorio Volcanológico de los Andes del Sur-Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN) with collaboration from the Oficina Nacional de Emergencia - Ministerio del Interior (ONEMI). Finally, the current status of the town of Chaitén (which was abandoned by all but a handful of residents who continued to live there without electricity or running water) will be discussed. The potential hazards from dome-collapse-generated block-and-ash flows and lahars from remobilized volcanic deposits were persistent throughout the reporting period.

Portions of this report were initially synthesized and edited by Nick Legg (covering November 2008-March 2009) and Eduardo Guerrero (covering April 2009-July 2009), as part of a graduate student writing assignment in a volcanology class at Oregon State University under the guidance of professor Shan de Silva.

New lava domes observed. Initially occupying the caldera of Chaitén was the lava dome ('old dome') that existed prior to the 2 May 2008 eruption (and for the ~ 9,400 years since the previous eruption). A lava dome ('Dome 1') first observed on 21 May 2008 and a new lava dome ('Dome 2') confirmed on 4 November 2008 during an overflight (BGVN 35:12) were extruded on top of the old dome (figures 21 and 22). A third phase of dome extrusion ('Dome 3') was observed on 29 September 2009.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. December 2008 aerial photograph of the Chaitén dome complex taken looking approximately SE into the caldera. The domes were emplaced on top of the old dome, emplaced ~9,400 years ago. Courtesy of OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Satellite photograph of Chaitén and surroundings, acquired on 30 September 2009. (a) Chaitén volcano (top right corner), Chaitén (Blanco) River, and their proximity to the town of Chaitén (bottom left). Note the significant lahar deposits at the mouth of the Chaitén river and cutting through the town of Chaitén. Inset index map shows Chaitén's location in Southern Chile. (b) Enlarged, annotated view of Chaitén volcano. Dome 1 is in the W side of the caldera and Dome 2 is in the NNE part. Dome 3 is not visible in this photograph. Satellite photograph courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory; index map modified from MapsOf.net.

November 2008-April 2010 (Red Alert). Following the confirmation of the existence of Dome 2 on 4 November 2008, a lateral explosion occurred on 17 November, directed WSW. The explosion was not constrained to either Dome 1 or 2 alone, but was associated with a collapse resulting from continued dome extrusion. By 6 December 2008, both active domes had exceed the height of the caldera rim (Dome 1 by ~ 250 m and Dome 2 by ~ 350 m). SERNAGEOMIN reported an increase in the growth of Dome 2, corresponding to a temporally slight increase in both hybrid (HB) and volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes.

Plumes continued to vary in color, indicating varying contributions of steam and ash from both new domes. By 9 January 2009, an observational overflight revealed that the inner caldera had been filled by Domes 1 and 2, and growth of sharp spines or pinnacles was reported.

On 19 January, a major collapse of the Dome 2 summit spines occurred, producing block-and-ash flows that traveled down the SE and E flanks of Chaitén. After the collapse, observers noted a decrease in seismicity and slowed dome extrusion.

During a flyby facilitated by ONEMI and the Chilean Air Force on 21 January 2009, researchers from the University at Buffalo-State University of New York (UB-SUNY) and the University of Chile acquired thermal images of the dome complex (figure 23). The thermal images indicated that, while Dome 1 still had areas of elevated temperature, the highest temperatures (greater than 150°C) corresponded to the pinnacles at the summit of Dome 2 (figure 23a). Images of pyroclastic flow and rockfall deposits resting within the E part of the caldera disclosed elevated temperatures there as well (higher than 80°C in places, figure 23b). Their research on thermal imaging of Chaitén will be showcased in an upcoming publication.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. Thermal images of the dome complex of Chaitén acquired on 21 January 2009. (a) The summit of Dome 2, where the highest temperatures were recorded; the same area corresponded to the pinnacles and the area of the most rapid growth of Dome 2. (b) Pyroclastic flow and rockfall deposits within the E part of the caldera, emplaced just prior to 21 January, that were still elevated in temperature. The colors are scaled uniquely for both images with the temperature scales shown at right. The flyby was facilitated by ONEMI and the Chilean Air Force, the images were acquired by Patrick Whelley (UB) and Andrés Paves (University of Chile), and processing was performed by Marc Bernstein (UB); use of the thermal camera was courtesy of Eliza Calder under the UB-SUNY Research Foundation.

By 9 February 2009, a new high-standing pinnacle atop Dome 2 indicated the return of rapid dome growth. This did not coincide with significant increases in seismicity.

On 19 February, a large partial collapse generated pyroclastic flows that traveled down the Chaitén River towards the town of Chaitén (see annotated photo below). This event produced a plume reaching 9.1 km altitude according to the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). The plume was white (indicating high water vapor content) at the top, and contained abundant ash at the base. The collapse created a scarp measuring approximately 500 m by 500 m. Increased seismicity occurred on the same day; background volcanic tremor occurred from 1028 until 1346, and swarms of earthquakes ranging from M 3.6-4.2 originated at depths of 3-5 km. Due to the amount of material deposited from the collapse (~ 10 x 106 m3), SERNAGEOMIN reported a significantly higher than normal danger of lahars.

On 25 February 2009, dome growth focused on Dome 1, although seismicity had gradually decreased in frequency (excluding the outstanding events of mid-February discussed above) compared to November-December 2008 values. Despite the decrease, on the afternoon of 3 March, dome collapses occurred every ~ 40 minutes. Within the next few days, SERNAGEOMIN reported that "VT's almost disappeared." A gradual decrease in seismicity continued until 24 March, when the frequency of HB earthquakes increased briefly, but they decreased again by early April.

On 6 April, a prominent spine of lava was observed on the S part of Dome 1 (figure 24). It indicated that dome growth was still concentrated in the W part of the caldera (Dome 1). The next week, the same spine was reported to have a wider base, and the crater reportedly glowed at night. In early May, an aerial photograph captured a close view of a very fractured central lava spine of the dome complex (figure 25).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Images taken by Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil (DGAC) and a Channel 13 cameraman on 6 April 2009 showing a prominent spine of lava that had grown in the S area of Dome 1. Courtesy of OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Aerial view of the dome complex in early May 2009 showing a very fractured central pinnacle. Courtesy of Javier Romero.

In the later parts of May 2009, dome growth and seismicity continued to be focused on the W part of the caldera, associated with Dome 1. Although there was no significant increase in seismicity until a slight increase in June, witnesses in the town of Chaitén reporting feeling tremors in May. Otherwise, activity through August consisted of continuous ash-and-steam emissions, small collapses of unstable portions of the domes, and resulting block-and-ash flows. Seasonal precipitation remobilized previously erupted material and lahars reached the town in July.

Seismicity remained slightly elevated (relative to April and May) through September. On 14 September, a surveillance camera captured a plume as wide as the caldera reaching ~ 1.5 km high. This plume was significantly wider than plumes in the previous months. On 29 September, witness reports prompted SERNAGEOMIN to fly past the caldera, and obervers saw evidence of a significant recent collapse.

SERNAGEOMIN's 29 September observation flight provided stunning views of the dome complex leading to the detection of a new dome, Dome 3, that had filled the 19 February 2009 collapse scar (figures 26 and 27). Dome 3 had a depression in its N sector and small central pinnacles (figure 27). The central pinnacle of the whole complex had disappeared, and a large active depression, elongated to the NNW, had formed E of Dome 3. This depression reportedly resulted from either a lateral explosion or a relatively slow and structurally controlled internal collapse.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Aerial views of Chaitén's dome complex taken following the partial collapses of (a) 19 February and (b) 29 September 2009. (a) The dome complex following the 19 February partial col lapse. Dimensions of the central pinnacle (*) and the col lapse scarp (**) are given at the lower left. (b) The dome complex following the 29 Sep tem ber partial col lapse, showing the first ob servation of Dome 3. Labels in all capital letters indicate structures or deposits, and labels in all lowercase indicate relative amounts of water vapor and ash in emit ted plumes (>, greater than;
Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Aerial view of the center of Chaitén's dome complex on 29 September 2009. The then-newly ob served central depression is the most active area in the photograph, and a small new pinnacle, Proto-pinnacle 2, is seen near this area. Labels in all capital letters indicate structures or de pos its, and labels in all low er case indicate relative amounts of water vapor and ash in emitted plumes. Courtesy of OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN; photo and interpretation by Jorge Muñoz.

Following the events of September, no major outstanding activity was reported through the rest of 2009. In late January 2010, two new telemetered seismic stations were added to the monitoring network, increasing the number of seismic stations around Chaitén to ten. A new observation camera was also installed ~ 800 m from the dome complex.

During the end of 2009 and January 2010, the growth rate of the dome complex slowed, and seismicity declined significantly, with larger earthquakes (stronger than M 3.5) being absent through at least March (figure 28). Following a few months of relatively calmer activity at Chaitén, and after at least a month without emissions of ash, the Alert Level was lowered to Yellow on 1 May 2010.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Daily earthquakes between M 3.5 and M 4.5 at Chaitén, from the onset of the eruption on 2 May 2008 to 1 April 2010 (a month prior to the lowering of the Alert Level to Yellow). Courtesy of OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN.

1 May 2010-2 May 2011 (Yellow Alert). During the period of Yellow Alert, reported plume heights remained below 2.1 km altitude (Buenos Aires VAAC); compared to the prior, more active period when plumes regularly reached 3-4 km in height, this was a significant decline. Over this period, the Buenos Aires VAAC reported occasional emissions that included ash (table 2). OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN began recording mainly VT events (interpreted as relating to rock fracturing) and long period (LP) events (interpreted as related to fluid dynamics in and beneath the volcanic edifice). Both types of seismicity remained low throughout the remainder of 2010 and into 2011. However, incandescence of the lava dome surface was observed at night in late January 2011.

Table 2. Emissions from Chaitén's lava dome complex during the period of Yellow Alert (1 May 2010-2 May 2011); '--' indicates information that was not reported. Courtesy of the Buenos Aires VAAC.

Date Altitude Drift distance Drift direction
14 May 2010 1.8 km -- NE
24 Jul 2010 -- 70 km SSE
30 Jul 2010 -- 20 km NNE
30 Jul 2010 -- 45 km ESE
21 Oct 2010 2.1 km -- ENE
04 Nov 2010 1.8 km 25 km NE
13 Nov 2010 1.5 km 40 km SE
15 Nov 2010 1.8-2.1 km -- E

3 May 2011-September 2011 (Green Alert). On 2 May 2011, the Alert Level was lowered to Green due to lower levels of activity since January 2011, including (1) seismicity remaining at low levels of occurrence and magnitude; (2) no significant emissions of ash; (3) a lack of dome growth and associated partial collapses; and (4) a lack of visual observations suggesting restlessness.

Since 3 May 2011, ash-free plumes rose no higher than 0.5 km; the exception was one plume in late May or early June. Seismicity remained low, with daily counts averaging fewer than 2 for LP events, less than 10 for VT events, and less than 1 for HB events.

Magma ascent prior to 2 May 2008 eruption. Wicks and others (2011) stated that "Because of the historically rare and explosive nature of rhyolite eruptions and because of the surprisingly short warning before the eruption of the Chaitén volcano, any information about the workings of the magmatic system at Chaitén, and rhyolitic systems in general, is important from both the scientific and hazard perspectives." There were only about 24 hours between the first felt seismicity in the town of Chaitén and the onset of the eruption. Such a short precursory period has been recorded for basaltic eruptions (e.g. Hekla volcano, Iceland; Soosalu and Einarsson, 2002), but not for silicic eruptions such as Chaitén (Castro and Dingwell, 2009).

Castro and Dingwell (2009) used petrological experiments to constrain the temperatures and decompression rates of the magma erupted explosively at Chaitén on 2 May 2008. Their results suggested that the magma rose from depths of at least 5 km in about four hours, shorter than the roughly 1-day period of seismicity that was felt in the town of Chaitén.

Wicks and others (2011) interpreted radar interferometry observations to indicate that the rapid ascent (as reported by Castro and Dingwell, 2009) of the Chaitén magma was controlled by pre-existing faults in the crust beneath Chile (figure 29). Specifically, they modeled a large, dipping, sill-like body (their "reservoir") residing under Minchinmávida volcano (~ 20 km E of Chaitén, "M" on figure 29) and rising towards the surface to the W of Chaitén (Morro Vilcún, "MV" on figure 29). The magma followed a path that intersected an inferred vertical conduit feeding Chaitén. They interpreted the rhyolitic reservoir as originating from either 1) a combination of tectonic stresses and magmatic overpressure draining rhyolitic magma from a mafic reservoir beneath Minchinmávida, or 2) an event similar to the M 9.5, 1960 Chilean earthquake creating permeability and a pressure gradient, allowing the overpressured magma to migrate to beneath Chaitén.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Cross-sectional model of the magmatic system that ultimately erupted at Chaitén (Wicks and others, 2011). The profile A-A' is approximately W-E; Morro Vilcún (MV), Chaitén (Ch), and Minchinmávida (M) are plotted at their relative positions on the surface. Stages a, b, and c are illustrated by a series of model cartoons. (a) The sill-like body (Reservoir) extends to the W, towards the surface, from the magma chamber beneath Minchinmávida; the dike (red body) begins propagation upwards, but at this stage has not intersected Chaitén's conduit. (b) Diking leads to an injection-caused earthquake (inflational, shown by the moment tensor solution "beachball diagram" where black indicates compression and white indicates tension) which occurred 2 hours before the 2 May 2008 eruption began. (c) As the eruption progressed and drained the shallow storage beneath Chaitén, the sill-like reservoir collapsed (shown by the moment tensor solution diagram). In all frames, the Liquiñe-Ofqui Fault Zone (LOFZ) is indicated beneath Minchinmávida volcano. CMT 1 refers to the centroid mean solution (CMT) of a moment magnitude 5.2 earthquake that occurred 2 hours prior to the main eruption on 2 May 2008. CMT 2 refers to an earthquake of magnitude 5.0 that occurred 19 hours after the onset of eruption. From Wicks and others (2011).

Restoring the town and damaged infrastructure. On 9 April 2011, the Chilean government reported that President Sebastián Piñera had announced the "North Chaitén Solution" plan. After restoring basic services (e.g. electricity) to the town of Chaitén in the first months of 2011, President Piñera stated that "everything will be definitively restored, electricity and light has already returned and ... all of the electricity poles are new." He also announced plans to dredge the harbor a second time (necessary due to the amount of remobilized volcanic material deposited in the bay) to allow boats to dock, a plan to install a floating dock, ongoing surveying for new paved roads to other surrounding cities, and plans for the town's school and aerodome.

References. Castro, J.M., and Dingwell, D.B., 2009, Rapid ascent of rhyolitic magma at Chaitén volcano, Chile: Nature, v. 461, p. 780-784 (DOI:10.1038/nature08458).

Soosalu, H., and Einarsson, P., 2002, Earthquake activity related to the 1991 eruption of the Hekla volcano, Iceland: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 63, p. 536-544.

Wicks, C., de la Llera, J.C., Lara., L.E., and Lowenstern, J., 2011, The role of dyking and fault control in the rapid onset of eruption at Chaitén volcano, Chile, Nature, v. 478, pp. 374-377 (DOI:10.1038/nature10541).

Geologic Background. Chaitén is a small, glacier-free caldera with a compound Holocene lava dome located 10 km NE of the town of Chaitén on the Gulf of Corcovado. Early work had identified only a single explosive eruption during the early Holocene prior to the major 2008 eruption, but later work has identified multiple explosive eruptions throughout the Holocene. A rhyolitic obsidian lava dome occupies much of the caldera floor. Obsidian cobbles from this dome found in the Blanco River are the source of prehistorical artifacts from archaeological sites along the Pacific coast as far as 400 km from the volcano to the N and S. The caldera is breached on the SW side by a river that drains to the bay of Chaitén. The first historical eruption, beginning in 2008, produced major rhyolitic explosive activity and growth of a lava dome that filled much of the caldera.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Volcanológico de los Andes del Sur-Servico Nacional de Geologia y Mineria (OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN), Avda Sta María No. 0104, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.sernageomin.cl/); Oficina Nacional de Emergencia - Ministerio del Interior (ONEMI), Beaucheff 1637 / 1671, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.onemi.cl/); NASA Earth Observatory (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/); MapsOf.net (URL: http://mapsof.net/); Marc Bernstien, Eliza Calder, and Patrick Whelley, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, 411 Cooke Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260; Andrés Paves, University of Chile, 2002 Blanco Encalada, Santiago, Chile; 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/productos.php); Javier Romero, Dirección de Vialidad - Ministerio de Obras Públicas, Puerto Montt; Gobierno de Chile, Santiago, Chile (URL: http://www.gob.cl/ or http://www.gob.cl/english/).


Katla (Iceland) — November 2011 Citation iconCite this Report

Katla

Iceland

63.633°N, 19.083°W; summit elev. 1490 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Jökulhlaup and elevated seismicity in 2011; filming sparks eruption fears

Microseismicity preceded and accompanied a jökulhlaup (a glacier-outburst flood) on 9 July 2011, as reported by the Iceland Met Office (IMO). The jökulhlaup escaped from under Mýrdalsjökull, the glacier that rests above Iceland's Katla volcano, its 10 x 14 km caldera, and environs (figure 4). IMO reported that microseismicity was registered near several ice cauldrons in the caldera for a few weeks prior to the event (figure 5). Peak harmonic tremor on 8 July coincided with rising water levels and increased water conductivity, as measured by the main flood gauge (figure 6; gauge is at red triangle on figure 4).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. A map of road closures and restricted areas of Mýrdalsjökull glacier resulting from the 9 July 2011 jökulhlaup at Katla (see key, lower left). The town of Vík is shown near the bottom (in black), and the main road through the area is shown in red; the trace of Katla caldera is shown in black and labeled. The main flood gauge was on the bridge across the Múlakvísl river; both were destroyed in the jökulhlaup event (red triangle). Inset shows the geographic location of Katla and Mýrdalsjökull in the S of Iceland. Restricted areas map modified from ágúst Gunnar Gylfason of the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police-Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management; index map modified from Ginkgo Maps.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Map (top) and plot (bottom) of the seismicity recorded during 8-9 July 2011 at Katla. Colors indicate the timing of epicenters and their respective plotted magnitudes, recorded as late as 2250 on 9 July 2011, according to the scheme shown below the map. Black triangles indicate seismic monitoring stations. Courtesy of Iceland Met Office (IMO).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Running plots of (a) water level, (b) water temperature, and (c) water conductivity at the main flood gauge of the Múlakvísl river during 3-9 July 2011. The plots show rising water level and conductivity that were coincident with peak harmonic tremor. The plots stop abruptly (red vertical line) when the gauge was destroyed along with the bridge crossing the Múlakvísl river. Courtesy of Iceland Met Office (IMO).

IMO reported that, on the same day, the main flood gauge was damaged when flood waters reached the instrument near midnight; another station, normally not in the water, started recording rising water around 0400 on 9 July, and the water level there rose 5 m within 5 minutes (figure 7). When the flood reached the main road approximately one hour later, the main bridge over the Múlakvísl river was destroyed and the road was closed (red triangle, figure 41).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. A running plot of water level at the second flood gauge (normally not submerged). The plot shows a significant rise in water level (5 m within 5 minutes). Courtesy of Iceland Met Office (IMO).

According to the news source Morgunblaðið, 200 people were safely evacuated, and allowed to return to their homes by that afternoon. Morgunblaðið reported that analysis of the flood waters indicated that the flood was caused by geothermal water, but that a sub-glacial eruption at Katla could not be ruled out. IMO stated that the harmonic tremor declined on 9 July, following the jökulhlaup event. After observational flights, new cracks and cauldrons were reported in the ice of Mýrdalsjökull glacier (figure 8).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Cracking and subsidence of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier around an ice cauldron above the Katla caldera. Widespread gray tephra deposited on the ice surface is due to the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption (BGVN 35:03, 35:04). Courtesy of the Icelandic Coast Guard.

By 16 July, the National Commissioner of Icelandic Police in the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management reported that a new bridge had been built to replace the bridge destroyed in the jökulhlaup (figure 9).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Photograph of the remains of the bridge crossing of the Múlakvísl river, destroyed in the jökulhlaup event on 9 July 2011. The new bridge, constructed by the 16 July 2011, can be seen in the background. Courtesy of John A. Stevenson.

August-December seismicity. IMO reported increased seismicity under Mýrdalsjökull in October (figure 10). They reported that 512 earthquakes occurred, with ~ 380 originating within the Katla caldera; a large portion (nearly 100) of those 512 earthquakes occurred on one day near the beginning of October (figure 11). The largest reported earthquake was M 4, with seven being larger than M 3. On 8 November, an M 3.2 earthquake that originated in the S most part of the caldera was felt by residents in the town of Vík.

Overall, following the July 2011 jökulhlaup event, seismicity has increased above background levels of the past year. The seismic peak is noticeable with respect to the number of earthquakes, their largest magnitudes, and the clustering under Katla (figures 10 and 11). The largest earthquakes were as large, or slightly larger, than the other earthquakes of M 3 or greater in earlier episodes of unrest (i.e., 1999 and 2002-2004, figure 10). The bulk of the 2011 seismic increase occurred over a shallow depth range (within 4 km of the surface, figure 12).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Plots of seismicity (greater than M 0.6) at Katla since 1999, showing the October 2011 seismicity in comparison with past episodes of non-eruptive unrest, such as in 1999 (sub-glacial eruption is uncertain in the GVP database) and 2002-2004. Plots (from the top) show: the monthly number of earthquakes (log scale); the magnitudes of earthquakes; cumulative number of earthquakes (red) and cumulative seismic moment (blue); and the focal depths of the located earthquakes. Courtesy of Iceland Met Office (IMO).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Seismic events (stronger than M 0.5) per day at Katla during December 2010-December 2011. Raw data is shown in blue, the 5 day moving average is shown in red, and events stronger than M 3.0 are indicated by gold stars. These trends highlight the increased seismicity of August-December 2011. Courtesy of the University of Edinburgh School of Geosciences.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Cumulative number of seismic events (stronger than M 0.5) at Katla since 23 November 2010. All events are shown in yellow, and events originating at depths greater than 4 and 10 km are shown in orange and red, respectively. During the August-December 2011 increase in seismicity, the majority of the recorded events originated from shallow depths (less than 4 km). Courtesy of the University of Edinburgh School of Geosciences.

Television filming sparks eruption fears. The Iceland Review reported that, in the early morning of 9 December, the Icelandic emergency hotline received calls from residents reporting bright lights on the slopes of Mýrdalsjökull. Callers feared that an eruption had started at Katla. The bright lights had also been noticed on a webcam by observers in Norway, who also enquired if there was an eruption. When the glacial slopes were inspected to find the cause of the lights, it was discovered that they were from film crews for the HBO series "Game of Thrones", who were filming in the early morning to capture the desired light conditions.

Geologic Background. Katla volcano, located near the southern end of Iceland's eastern volcanic zone, is hidden beneath the Myrdalsjökull icecap. The subglacial basaltic-to-rhyolitic volcano is one of Iceland's most active and is a frequent producer of damaging jökulhlaups, or glacier-outburst floods. A large 10 x 14 km subglacial caldera with a long axis in a NW-SE direction is up to 750 m deep. Its high point reaches 1380 m, and three major outlet glaciers have breached its rim. Although most historical eruptions have taken place from fissures inside the caldera, the Eldgjá fissure system, which extends about 60 km to the NE from the current ice margin towards Grímsvötn volcano, has been the source of major Holocene eruptions. An eruption from the Eldgjá fissure system about 934 CE produced a voluminous lava flow of about 18 km3, one of the world's largest known Holocene lava flows. Katla has been the source of frequent subglacial basaltic explosive eruptions that have been among the largest tephra-producers in Iceland during historical time and has also produced numerous dacitic explosive eruptions during the Holocene.

Information Contacts: Einar Kjartansson, Iceland Met Office (IMO), Bústaðavegi 9, 150 Reykjavík, Iceland (URL: http://en.vedur.is/); National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police-Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, Skúlagata 21, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland (URL: http://www.almannavarnir.is/); Ginkgo Maps (URL: http://ginkgomaps.com/); Morgunblaðið, Hádegismóum 2, 110 Reykjavík, Iceland (URL: http://mbl.is/); Icelandic Coast Guard, Skógarhlíð 14, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland (URL: http://www.lhg.is/); John A. Stevenson (URL: http://all-geo.org/volcan01010/); The University of Edinburgh School of Geosciences (URL: http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/geosciences); The Iceland Review, Borgartúni 23, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland (URL: http://www.icelandreview.com/).


Lokon-Empung (Indonesia) — November 2011 Citation iconCite this Report

Lokon-Empung

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing minor ash-bearing eruptions through at least November 2011

Lokon-Empung has been in a state of unrest since 2007 (BGVN 33:02). Between mid-February through mid-July 2011, occasional phreatic eruptions, modest ash plumes and elevated seismicity occurred, with a larger ash plume in July 2011 (BGVN 36:06). This report addresses seismic events from mid-July through 1 December 2011.

According to the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), during 20-21 July 2011, seismicity and visual observations of Tompaluan crater in the saddle between the twin peaks of Lokon and Empung indicated that activity continued to be high. On 20 July plumes rose 100-500 m above Tompaluan crater, and during 21-24 July 2011 white plumes again rose 100-300 m. CVGHM noted that, since an eruption on 18 July, most data showed a decline in activity and therefore on 24 July the Alert Level was lowered to 3 (on a scale of 1-4). Residents and tourists were not permitted within 3 km of the crater. A news article (Straits Times) stated that on that same day about 5,000 residents that had evacuated returned home, and about 200 people remained in shelters.

CVGHM reported that during 24 July-8 August 2011 seismicity decreased at Tompaluan crater, with a drastic reduction on 26 July. According to a news article (BNO News, accessed on Daijiworld News), during 27 July-8 August white plumes rose 100-400 m above the crater. The article stated that at the end of August, Tompaluan crater erupted several times (12 times on 28 August). One explosion on 29 August 2011 ejected material 250 m above the crater. According to the article, activity decreased after 29 August. The article also noted that 222 people remained at temporary refugee camps because their homes were located within 3 km of the crater.

CVGHM reported that on 10 October 2011 white and gray plumes rose 100-300 m above Tompaluan crater. Based on information from CVGHM, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) reported that on 11 October an ash plume rose to an altitude of 2.1 km.

According to a news article (Kompas.com), a gray plume rose 1.2 km above Tompaluan crater and drifted SW on 26 October, followed by an explosion that sent incandescent material as far as 800 m away from Tompaluan crater. A second eruption produced a plume that rose 500 m above the crater.

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

Information Contacts: Center of 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/); Straits Times (URL: http://www.straitstimes.com); BNO News (URL: http://www.bnonews.com/); Kompas.com (URL: http://www.kompas.com/); Antara News (URL: http://www.antaranews.com/en/); Daijiworld News (URL: http://www.daijiworld.com/).


Masaya (Nicaragua) — November 2011 Citation iconCite this Report

Masaya

Nicaragua

11.985°N, 86.165°W; summit elev. 594 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Degassing through at least mid-2011; episodic crater wall collapse

This report on Masaya presents a summary of activity through mid-2011. Our last report was issued in March 2009 (BGVN 34:03) and highlighted the intermittent plumes and explosions of 2006 and 2008.

From 2008-2010 activity generally consisted of degassing with sulfur dioxide (SO2) fluxes typically under 1,200 tons per day. Instability of the S andW crater walls was a concern for the National Park and monitored by the agency INETER (Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales). Mass wasting, frequently triggered by heavy rain, occurred within the crater with debris occasionally blocking the active vents.

Throughout this 3-year period, fumarole temperatures ranged from 58 to 84°C and regular monitoring of the El Comalito cinder cone showed that degassing continued. Tremor sources shallowed during 2008-2010, rising from a 2008 depth of 26 km to a 2010 depth of ~ 1 km.

On 12 October 2010 incandescence occurred in the intra-crater area's largest opening (figure 24). Temperature at the points of incandescence reached 207°C. Differential optical-absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) measurements from vents registered SO2 fluxes of 465 tons per day. SO2 emissions increased throughout October 2010, reaching 586 tons per day. INETER reports contain plots with more detailed SO2 data.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. Incandescence seen in Masaya's Santiago crater on 12 October 2010. Note the crater's vertical walls and depth. Courtesy of INETER.

SO2 fluxes in 2011. In January 2011, INETER's team measured SO2 fluxes while in transit along the easternmost route on figure 25 (between the town of Ticuantepe and the community of San Juan). Those SO2 measurements averaged 642 tons per day, an increase over 2010 that was attributed to increased gas and magma output.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Vehicle routes (heavy lines) used while recording Masaya's SO2 fluxes. The scale at bottom shows distance in meters. The topographic margin of Masaya's main caldera sits ~2 km E of the easternmost vehicle route. Courtesy of INETER.

During 7-30 March 2011 collaborators from the University of East Anglia, Heidelberg University, and Oxford University measured Santiago crater's SO2 and other gas emissions. A Mini-DOAS mobile was one of the many instruments used to monitor the atmosphere and SO2 fluxes (figures 26-28).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. SO2 measurements underway at Masaya on 20 January 2011. The vehicle passed beneath Masaya's gas plume on the Southern Pan-American Highway. The laptop displays a well-defined red histogram representing SO2 measured along the plume transect. Courtesy of INETER.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Instruments used during the 7-30 March 2011 campaign to measure SO2 on a continuous basis from a viewing platform overlooking Masaya. Courtesy of INETER.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. A compact, automatic meteorological station used to measure wind velocity, air humidity, and other parameters that could refine and enable comparisons with the gas measurements. Courtesy of INETER.

In addition to mobile DOAS and fixed gas monitoring systems, a small dirigible (Zeppelin) represented a novel monitoring approach. One potential use for the dirigible was as a platform from which to measure gas concentrations inside the volcanic plume at altitude. Unfortunately, when deployed on its trial launch, heavy winds quickly blew it out of control (figure 29).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. The dirigible (Zeppelin) deployed at Masaya during 7-30 March 2011. The dirigible undergoing instrumental work (top), and floating above Santiago crater moments before being blown away by heavy winds (bottom). Courtesy of INETER.

Crater-wall collapse leads to 6 August 2011 Park closure. More than a dozen crater-wall collapses occurred at Santiago crater during June and July 2011. INETER geologist Marisol Echaverry López noted that the SW and W sides of the crater wall had severely eroded. Echaverry recommended that, should the situation worsen, nearby residents be evacuated since debris-covered vents could pressurize the system and lead to explosions. On 14 July, geologist Martha Ibarra found that debris shed from the steep walls was accumulating and the recent collapses had blocked two gas vents. The deep, steep wall of Santiago crater frequently collapsed along fracture zones.

On 6 August 2011, Masaya National Park officials alerted INETER that significant portions of the SW crater rim had collapsed and completely covered the active vent. The park closed for the day during inspections by INETER. The SW rim was the site of frequent failures and field investigators noted that gas emissions were blocked for ~ 10 minutes. No additional failures were observed and activity did not escalate.

During field investigations in September and October 2011, INETER described and measured temperatures from three new fumaroles within Santiago crater. These sites were located at the edges of debris fill within the crater, along the S and E walls and were degassing with temperatures from 48 to 74°C. SO2 measurements from Mini-DOAS indicated decreasing emissions during this time period, from 518 tons per day in September to 153 tons per day in October 2011.

Geologic Background. Masaya is one of Nicaragua's most unusual and most active volcanoes. It lies within the massive Pleistocene Las Sierras caldera and is itself a broad, 6 x 11 km basaltic caldera with steep-sided walls up to 300 m high. The caldera is filled on its NW end by more than a dozen vents that erupted along a circular, 4-km-diameter fracture system. The Nindirí and Masaya cones, the source of historical eruptions, were constructed at the southern end of the fracture system and contain multiple summit craters, including the currently active Santiago crater. A major basaltic Plinian tephra erupted from Masaya about 6,500 years ago. Historical lava flows cover much of the caldera floor and there is a lake at the far eastern end. A lava flow from the 1670 eruption overtopped the north caldera rim. Masaya has been frequently active since the time of the Spanish Conquistadors, when an active lava lake prompted attempts to extract the volcano's molten "gold." Periods of long-term vigorous gas emission at roughly quarter-century intervals have caused health hazards and crop damage.

Information Contacts: Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua (URL: http://www.ineter.gob.ni/).


Pinatubo (Philippines) — November 2011 Citation iconCite this Report

Pinatubo

Philippines

15.13°N, 120.35°E; summit elev. 1486 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Hardships and economic impact of the 1991 eruption

This report summarizes a news article by Lourdes Solidum-Montevirgen of the Philippines' Department of Science and Technology (Solidum-Montevirgen, 2011). The article noted that 20 years after one of the last century's biggest volcanic eruption (April-September 1991, BGVN 16:03-16:10), hunger and lahars continue to threaten Aeta communities around Pinatubo's foothills. The Aetas (an indigenous people who live in scattered, isolated mountainous parts of Luzon, Philippines) resided, in part, before the eruption in the towns of San Marcelino and Botolan, settlements almost destroyed by the 1991 eruption. The rainy season has resulted in lahar flows that continue to threaten these and nearby towns, displacing thousands of people. Agriculture continues to suffer badly, as hundreds of square kilometers of formerly arable land remain unproductive. Pinatubo is located NW of the capital of Manila (figure 39).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. A map of major Philippine volcanoes, including Pinatubo. Courtesy of Lyn Topinka, US Geologic Survey.

Aetas were hardest hit because they were both uprooted from their homes and their way of life. Many remain in government resettlement areas, huddled in makeshift homes, tents, and evacuation dwellings. Many of them are recent refugees after part of a protective dike along the Bucao River collapsed during Typhoon Kiko in August 2009, flooding Botolan and ten villages, resulting in death and hunger. Typhoons that followed two months later (October 2009) broke down an additional 1-km portion of the dike, causing lahars and floodwaters to rise more than 1.5 m, displacing over 20,000 people in nine villages. Over 9,000 of these recent refugees remained in evacuation centers as they awaited dike repair. They have joined thousands of evacuees still huddled in the ten evacuation centers inside three resettlement sites that were created following Pinatubo's eruption.

There is still widespread devastation in Botolan and nearby towns where several square kilometers of lakes and farm lands were "desertified". It is doubtful whether a new bridge and the dike, when repaired, will hold lahar floods because the Bucao river is heavily silted. Botolan (population 51,675), the largest town in Zambales and closest to Pinatubo, also has the largest Aeta population in the province. In 2010, 160 km2 (16,000 hectares) of the area nearest Pinatubo was declared as Aeta ancestral domain by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

Farming has not yet resumed in many rice paddies and vegetable farms damaged by flash floods and lahars. Farm lands were covered with thick ash and reworked tephra, irrigation equipment ruined, roads and bridges destroyed, properties lost, trade and business centers collapsed. Overall, 364 communities and 2.1 million people were affected by the eruption, and more than 80,000 houses were lost. Roads and communications were damaged by pyroclastic flows and lahars. Some 800 km2 of rice lands and almost 800,000 farm animals were lost. The cost to agriculture was estimated at P1.5 billion (~ $25 million US) and the cost of repairs to damaged infrastructure was P3.8 billion (~ $62 million US).

Reference. Solidum-Montevirgen, L., 2011, Hunger, lahar haunt homeless Aetas 20 years after Pinatubo, Malay Business Insight, 29 July.

Geologic Background. Prior to 1991 Pinatubo volcano was a relatively unknown, heavily forested lava dome complex located 100 km NW of Manila with no records of historical eruptions. The 1991 eruption, one of the world's largest of the 20th century, ejected massive amounts of tephra and produced voluminous pyroclastic flows, forming a small, 2.5-km-wide summit caldera whose floor is now covered by a lake. Caldera formation lowered the height of the summit by more than 300 m. Although the eruption caused hundreds of fatalities and major damage with severe social and economic impact, successful monitoring efforts greatly reduced the number of fatalities. Widespread lahars that redistributed products of the 1991 eruption have continued to cause severe disruption. Previous major eruptive periods, interrupted by lengthy quiescent periods, have produced pyroclastic flows and lahars that were even more extensive than in 1991.

Information Contacts: Lourdes Solidum-Montevirgen, Industrial Technology Development Institute-Food Processing Division, Department of Science and Technology, Phillippines; Malaya Business Insight (URL: http://www.malaya.com.ph).


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — November 2011 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Seismicity and small ash plumes continue through December 2011

Popocatépetl continued to be active during September 2010 to 13 December 2011 with explosions, tremor, and frequent gas-and-steam emissions occasionally containing ash (figure 59). This report continues the table in the previous report (BGVN 35:08) that tallies the seismic activity and ash emissions (table 21). Figure 60 shows the proximity of the volcano to population centers.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. Photograph of the lava dome at Popocatépetl taken on 8 September 2011. Courtesy of CENAPRED.

Table 21. Reported plumes above Popocatépetl's summit crater that contained some ash between 5 October 2010 and 13 December 2011. Data provided by the MWO (Mexico City Meteorological Watch Office), Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED), abbreviated CEN.

Dates Height above crater or altitude Plume Direction Report Source Comments
05 Dec 2010 -- -- VAAC Small and brief emission of gas and ash.
31 Jan 2011 2 km E CEN, VAAC Explosion ejected incandescent fragments to 500 m down E flank and produced ash plume that drifted more than 275 km NE.
02-04, 06 Mar 2011 9.1 km alt 130 km SE (3 March) CEN, VAAC Steam-and-gas emissions, occasionally with small ash amounts.
09-14 Mar 2011 -- -- CEN Steam-and-gas emissions, occasionally with small ash amounts.
26-27 Mar 2011 6.4 km alt 140 km ESE, SE; 150 km E VAAC Gas-and-ash plume on 26 March; another ash plume on 27 March.
14-17 May 2011 6.7 km alt SSW (17 May) CEN Steam-and-gas emissions, occasionally with small ash amounts.
19 May 2011 -- SW CEN Steam-and-gas emissions, occasionally with small ash amounts.
22-23 May 2011 6.7 km alt SSW VAAC Rapidly dissipating area of ash about 650 km SW.
30 May 2011 6.2-6.4 km alt E, SW CEN, VAAC --
31 May-01 Jun 2011 -- -- -- Steam-and-gas emissions, occasionally with small ash amounts.
03 Jun 2011 8.2-8.4 km alt; 6.4 km alt W, SW (lower); E, ENE (upper); W CEN, VAAC Two ash plumes followed seismic tremors, one plume expelled for 23 minutes; ashfall in Tetela del Volcán (20 km SW), Zacualpan (31 km SW), Jonacatepec (43 km SW), and Axochiapan (60 km SSW).
04 Jun 2011 1 km SSW (lower); NE (upper) CEN --
09 Aug 2011 1 km W CEN --
11-12 Aug 2011 -- -- CEN Steam-and-gas emissions, occasionally with small ash amounts.
28-31 Aug 2011 1 km WNW CEN, VAAC Emission of gas, steam, and some ash. During 30-31 Aug, 111 emissions with periods of harmonic tremor. Possible lahars. On 30 Aug, ashfall on San Pedro Nexapa (14 km NW) and Amecameca (19 km NW).
01-04 Sep 2011 -- -- CEN 4-12 daily emissions of gas, steam, and some ash, with tremors.
26 Sep 2011 2.5 km -- CEN Explosion ejected incandescent fragments and an ash plume. Following the explosion, 11 gas-and-steam plumes with small amounts of ash.
19-23 Oct 2011 -- -- CEN Steam-and-gas emissions, occasionally with small ash amounts.
16-20 Nov 2011 7.6, 9.1, and 6.4 km alt SW, E, N CEN, VAAC Steam-and-gas emissions; two ash plumes on 18 Nov. Ash plume from explosion on 20 Nov.
21-28 Nov 2011 -- -- CEN Steam-and-gas plumes. Crater incandescence most nights and early mornings.
29 Nov-06 Dec 2011 6.7 km alt (5 Dec) NE CEN, VAAC Steam-and-gas plumes, containing small amounts of ash on 29, 30 Nov and 5 Dec. Crater incandescence most nights and early mornings.
07-13 Dec 2011 -- 12.9 km W (7 Dec) CEN, VAAC Steam-and-gas plumes, occasionally containing small amounts of ash. On 7 December ashfall was reported in San Pedro (13.5 km NW). Crater incandescence during 9-11 December and on 9 December incandescent ballistic fragments were observed on the upper slopes of the cone.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Map of Popocatépetl in relation to Mexico City and other large communities. Circular areas are approximate; they show some hazard zones, including the innermost "Red" zone, which is within 5 km of the summit and excludes the public from entry. Courtesy of CENAPRED.

During the reporting interval, there were a large number of MODVOLC thermal alerts for Popocatépetl.

Arana-Salinas and others (2010) discuss the Ochre Pumice Sequence, a major (VEI 6) event that occurred ~ 5,000 years ago. That unit contained a sequence of pyroclastic flow and fall deposits that covered ~ 300 km2 directed NNE. The erupted magma amounts to a (dense rock equivalent) volume of ~2 km3. The authors stated that, depending on the wind direction, an equivalent event today would impact 15 million residents of Mexico City (the Capital), Puebla, Atlixco, and Cuautla and elsewhere, and it would severely damage infrastructure.

Reference. Arana-Salinas, L., Siebe, C., Macías, J.L, 2010, Dynamics of the ca. 4,965 yr 14C BP "Ochre Pumice" Plinian eruption of Popocatépetl volcano, México: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research v. 192. p. 212-231.

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

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


Soputan (Indonesia) — November 2011 Citation iconCite this Report

Soputan

Indonesia

1.112°N, 124.737°E; summit elev. 1785 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruptions in July and August 2011

Soputan volcano, Sulawesi, Indonesia (figure 4) was relatively quiet for more than two years following our last report in September 2008 (BGVN 33:09). Thermal anomalies appeared in late May 2011 and in late June 2011, Soputan re-commenced eruptive activity. This report covers activity at Soputan during 2011 (through 2 October). Unless otherwise noted, data was reported by the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. A photograph of Soputan volcano, taken 6 March 2011 by Flickr account user Akhal-Téké. Index maps at left show the location of Soputan volcano on the island of Sulawesi (close-up, bottom) in Indonesia (top). Index maps modified from MapsOf.net (top) and Ginkgo Maps (bottom).

The first signs of the June-October eruption at Soputan occurred with some diffuse white plumes in June reaching 25-150 m above the crater. After an increase in seismicity during 21 June-2 July, CVGHM raised the Alert Level from 2 to 3 (on a scale from 1-4); climbing the slopes of the volcano was prohibited, and residents were discouraged from going within 6 km of Soputan's crater.

A Strombolian eruption, reported at 0603 on 3 July, generated an ash plume that rose 6 km altitude and drifted W. The eruption plume was captured in a NASA Earth Observatory satellite image (figure 5). A pyroclastic flow traveled up to 4 km W. A 10 pixel MODVOLC thermal alert was triggered at 0225 (UTC) on the same day (figure 5, table 8).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. A natural color satellite image of the eruptive plume generated at Soputan on 3 July 2011. The plume is seen here drifting E over Laut Maluku (Molucca Sea); the brownish color of the plume indicates that it consisted of both gas and ash. The red outline highlights the area of the 10-pixel MODVOLC thermal alert (table 2) of the same day. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Table 8. MODVOLC thermal anomalies recorded at Soputan in 2011. A 58 pixel thermal anomaly was recorded on 2 October 2011, but was omitted due to the sun-glint angle being below 12°. The University of Hawaii states that "If a pixel has a sun-glint angle of less than 12° it is potentially contaminated by sunglint and should not be trusted." Courtesy of HIGP Thermal Alerts System, University of Hawaii. [Note that the 21 May 2011 pixel originally reported below (deleted) was actually located at some distance from the volcano in the ocean, and was most likely due to sunglint.]

Date Time (UTC) Pixels Satellite
02 Jul 2011 1700 3 Aqua
03 Jul 2011 0225 10 Terra
03 Jul 2011 0520 2 Aqua
03 Jul 2011 1740 1 Aqua
09 Jul 2011 1705 2 Aqua
08 Aug 2011 1405 1 Terra
14 Aug 2011 1345 3 Terra
14 Aug 2011 1640 3 Aqua
15 Aug 2011 0205 2 Terra
15 Aug 2011 1725 3 Aqua
23 Aug 2011 0550 2 Aqua

The Jakarta Globe reported that, due to ash fall, the Indonesian Red Cross (Pa Merah Indonesia - PMI) distributed ~ 31,000 face masks to residents (figure 6). It also reported that Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Board for Disaster Managment (BNPB), said that "there is no need for evacuation because the nearest residents are living some 8 km from the mountain." Sam Ratui International Airport was closed for 3 hours (during 1200-1500) that afternoon, according to The Jakarta Globe. Following the eruption of 3 July, seismicity decreased, and the only reported activity was dense white plumes rising to 75 m above the crater on 18 July. The Alert Level was lowered to 2 on 19 July, allowing residents to come within 4 km of the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Residents near Soputan with face masks they received from the Indonesian Red Cross (Pa Merah Indonesia - PMI). Courtesy of the Jakarta Globe.

Seismicity continued to decrease until 10 August. On 14 August, a plume containing ash rose to 1 km above the crater, and two other plumes rose to 1.3 km above the crater later in the day (figure 7). The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) reported an ash plume that drifted more than 100 km W. The Alert Level was again raised to 3 on 14 August, once again prohibiting residents within 6 km of the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. An ash plume from Soputan rising to greater than 1 km above the crater on 14 August 2011. In the foreground, a resident of one of the local towns is working in their field. Courtesy of Andreas/AFP-Getty Images.

Following the eruptions of 14 August, seismicity decreased significantly, and small white plumes rose above the crater. The plumes steadily decreased from 200 m high above the crater (14-18 August) to, at most, 100 m above the crater (29 August-7 September). An early morning photograph captured an eruption on 15 August, showing a small plume and lava flows down the flank of Soputan (figure 8). On 8 September, the Alert Level was lowered to 2, allowing residents to come no closer than 4 km to the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. An early morning photograph of Soputan erupting on 15 August 2011. Lava flows down the flank of Soputan brightened the small eruptive plume billowing overhead. Courtesy of Andreas/AFP-Getty Images.

Geologic Background. The Soputan stratovolcano on the southern rim of the Quaternary Tondano caldera on the northern arm of Sulawesi Island is one of Sulawesi's most active volcanoes. The youthful, largely unvegetated volcano is located SW of Riendengan-Sempu, which some workers have included with Soputan and Manimporok (3.5 km ESE) as a volcanic complex. It was constructed at the southern end of a SSW-NNE trending line of vents. During historical time the locus of eruptions has included both the summit crater and Aeseput, a prominent NE-flank vent that formed in 1906 and was the source of intermittent major lava flows until 1924.

Information Contacts: Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) Diponegoro 57, Bandung, Jawa Barat 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); Akhal-Téké, Flickr photostream (URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/51873088@N04/); MapsOf.net (URL: http://mapsof.net/); Ginkgo Maps (URL: http://www.ginkgomaps.com/); 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/); The Jakarta Globe, Citra Graha Building 11th Floor, Suite 1102, Jakarta 12950, Indonesia (URL: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, Northern Territory 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Andreas/AFP - Getty Images (URL: http://www.gettyimages.com/).


Telica (Nicaragua) — November 2011 Citation iconCite this Report

Telica

Nicaragua

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Degassing in 2011; seismic crisis leading to explosive eruption in May 2011

Our last report discussed Telica volcano's intermittent gas emissions from 2009 through early 2010 as well as installation of an early warning system (Sistema de Alerta Temprana, SAT) in March 2010 (BGVN 35:03). New information has been released by INETER (the Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales) detailing the escalation of activity that culminated in a major eruption in May 2011. This report also covers the field investigations from April 2010 through October 2011, seismic data from January 2010 through October 2011, SO2 monitoring from 25 May 2011 through 13 September, and regular thermal measurements from the crater and flank fumaroles.

Volcanic activity at Telica during 2010 was characterized by diffuse degassing. Persistent gas emissions from this volcano have caused a legacy of hazards for local communities and have been linked to acute respiratory infections (Bellos and others, 2010; Freundt and others, 2006; Malilay and others, 1996). Field investigations in 2010 conducted by INETER focused on measuring temperatures from the crater as well as fumaroles located near the flanks (figure 20). Heavy rain and inaccessible roads limited visual and thermal monitoring to short field excursions in April, July, and August 2010.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. (A) Telica's 700-m-wide double crater (gray to white central area) and E-flank fumaroles (diamond) were sites of thermal monitoring for 3 months in 2010. The seismic station TELN is located 30 m N of the orange diamond. (B) Typical diffuse degassing from the summit photographed on 14 January 2011. Courtesy of INETER.

Using a thermal camera, INETER determined the maximum temperatures within Telica's crater on 28 July and 18 August were 259°C and 251°C respectively. The four fumaroles located near seismic station TELN were measured three times in 2010. With a digital thermocouple, INETER determined that maximum temperatures from the flank fumaroles gradually increased from April to August: 72.3°C, 81°C, and 105°C. Minimum measured temperatures were irregular and ranged from 66.4 to 76°C.

Few earthquakes were sufficiently large to registered and be located during 2010 (table 2), but INETER reported that those recorded were smaller, and there was frequent tremor. The seismic network for this volcano was installed in 1994. The two local seismic stations, TEL3 and TELN, operated with 3-component sensors but during this reporting interval TELN was offline until July 2010. Microseismicity was reported during four months in 2010 (March, September, November, and December). The highest rate occurred in March, exceeding 150 events per day. In September, more than 120 events were recorded per day, and in November and December, the rate was 80 microseisms per day.

Table 2. Located earthquakes at Telica recorded in the interval from January 2010 through October 2011. Only months with earthquakes reported are shown. High values in May-June were during an eruption. Values are based on monthly reports from INETER.

Month Number of Events Magnitudes Depths
Apr 2010 4 1.7-2.5 0-3 km
Oct 2010 1 1.4 0 km
Feb 2011 1 2.9 3 km
Apr 2011 5 0.2-1.5 0-1 km
May 2011 ~175 0.3-4.0 0-4 km
Jun 2011 ~100 0.1-2.8 0-28 km
Jul 2011 ~20 0.8-1.8 0-1 km
Aug 2011 ~22 0.3-2.3 0-1 km

INETER reported that field investigators encountered significant gas plumes from Telica's summit in April and July. The W edge of the crater and a small vent on the E interior wall were constant sources. There were notable rockfalls from the crater rim; an observation from 28 July 2010 mentioned the NE and SE walls in particular experience rockfalls of sufficient magnitude to increase the summit crater's size.

January 2011. Investigators from INETER visited Telica this month for instrument maintenance and monitoring activities. Rockfalls from the S crater wall were noted on 11 January by staff. According to Halldor Geirsson, Mel Rodgers (Univ. of South Florida) was in the vicinity during 25-31 January and noted strong degassing and occasional rockfalls. On 14 January thermal data was collected from the central crater and fumaroles on the outer flank. The maximum temperature recorded from the crater was 295°C. The four fumaroles located on the W flank (figure 20a) had recorded temperatures ranging from 68°C to 72°C.

Seismicity during January 2011 was generally high, with ~ 907 earthquakes recorded. Most were long-period (LP) with dominant frequencies of 1-3 Hz. From 19 to 23 January events were absent. Seismic tremor was recorded throughout January at 30-40 RSAM units with scattered intervals of greater than 100 RSAM units.

February 2011. Collaborative fieldwork was conducted on 26 February between INETER and scientists from the Institute of Renewable Energy (Spain). This team measured temperatures and took thermal images of the fumaroles located both within the crater and on the W flank. Maximum temperatures within the crater ranged from 62-75°C.

Elevated seismicity continued through February with 676 recorded events. These events were similar to those recorded in previous months; LP events had dominant frequencies of 1-3 Hz. Figure 21 presents an example of frequency analysis for one earthquake at Telica. Volcanic-tectonic (VT) events rarely occurred. Tremor was recorded at 30-40 RSAM units.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. The seismic trace of a characteristic LP event (a) from Telica processed with spectrum-analysis software to obtain the dominant frequency ranges. This event was recorded on 1 February 2011 and lasted for more than 20 seconds (b, a zoom on the trace). The dominant frequencies (c, frequency vs. amplitude) ranged from 1 to 2 Hz with some signals to ~10 Hz. Courtesy of INETER.

Ashfall in March 2011. On 6 March residents living near Telica felt an earthquake during the night and during the following day they observed small plumes rising from the volcano. INETER scientists visited on 8 March for routine data collection and to investigate reports of fresh ashfall. Light ash was still visible on leaves and rooftops and appeared directed towards the N and SE. Residents also reported strong sulfurous odors during the explosive events. Field investigators found evidence of juvenile material along the SE rim of the crater.

INETER collected thermal data on 8 March from fumaroles located within the crater and near the seismic station (TELN) on the E flank. The maximum temperature measured within the crater was 137°C. Two fumaroles were identified within the crater on the W side; these sites had recorded temperatures in the range of 47-71°C. Thermal measurements near TELN ranged from 51-60°C. This site did not emit steam or other gases.

The INETER field crew noticed that degassing appeared to be more intense during the 8 March field visit compared to their previous 26 February visit. The view to the crater was often obscured from the point of view of seismic station TELN (figure 20b).

In their March report, INETER discussed the relevance of the new temperatures measured during the 8 March field campaign. The issue was the apparent decrease compared to temperatures recorded from Telica in January. INETER staff acknowledged the limits of monthly temperature readings but looked forward to longer-term correlations with seismic data.

Seismicity in March remained high with ~ 572 events recorded. The majority of the earthquakes were LP events with dominant frequencies between 1-3 Hz. Few VT events were recorded. Seismic tremor was between 30-40 RSAM units.

April 2011. New seismic data from an early warning system (Sistema de Alerta Temprana, SAT) was presented for the first time in INETER's April report. The new 6-station network contained five stations with 3-component sensors and one station with a single-component sensor. The network included two short-period stations, TEL3 and TEL4 (note that TEL4 was TELN), that continued to send data.

From late March through the second week of April, small explosions, LP earthquakes, and seismic swarms were detected. There was a three-day lull in early April, but VT earthquakes began occurring with increasing magnitudes and small explosions from the summit occurred at least once per week throughout the month. By 30 April, explosions were registered having 30-minute durations and were followed by periods of degassing and low-altitude ash plumes. For an interval in late April, seismicity was very high, with more than 600 events recorded each day with a range of M 0.1-3.3. A maximum of 380 RSAM units was recorded and seismic tremor ranged between 30-40 RSAM. The VT earthquakes were strong enough to be noticed by residents in local communities.

During field investigations on 11 April, INETER measured temperatures within the crater, recording a of maximum 254°C. One fumarole within the W wall of the crater had decreased temperature by 10°C while the other had increased by 1°C compared to values from March. The four fumaroles near TEL4 had recorded temperatures in the range of 53-69°C.

Eruptions in May 2011. The escalation of seismic activity and recurrence of ash plumes seen since March prompted INETER to issue an alert to civil defense on 13 May warning that eruptive activity was possible. During the first week of May seismicity increased to 500 microseismic events per day (in general, microseismic events in April occurred at a rate of ~ 220 per day) and VT events suddenly became rare (figure 22).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Telica's seismicity recorded during May 2011: epicenters shown on map and cross section (roughly aligned with map) were located with the new, early warning system (the 6 stations shown as blue triangles). Note that the focal depths are clustered under the volcano at depths mainly below 5 km. Courtesy of INETER.

Large explosions from Telica were registered at midnight on 13 May. After that, INETER reported that residents in three different communities observed pink-colored ash had fallen, and residents had also felt earthquakes. Frequent explosions of abundant gas and falls of coarse-to-fine ash occurred 14-15 May. Seismicity during 14 May was dominated by M 1.0-3.3 events with depths between 1 and 5 km (figure 23). Ash fell over the community of La Quemada, located 4 km N of the volcano. Residents heard loud noises from the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. This minor explosion at Telica was observed on 16 May 2011. Courtesy of Halldor Geirsson (Pennsylvania State University).

On 16 May observers first saw gray ash clouds rising from Telica's summit. Later, this activity visibly escalated and ashfall was observed in continuous plumes (figure 23). The highest plumes reached 1.2 km altitude and ash fell to the SE over communities. By mid-May the number of seismic events had increased to 800 microseismic events per day, most of which were explosions with a few VT events (figure 24). INETER noted that seismic stations recorded up to 140 RSAM units on 16 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. The number of seismic events registered per day during March-May 2011. This record was dominated by microseismicity and explosions from Telica. Courtesy of INETER.

Fieldworkers from INETER and others, deployed a large tarp, collected ~ 80 kg of tephra during 16-18 May. Preliminary assessments determined the nature of material that landed on the tarp included dominant lithics, fragmented rock and crystalline material of 0.5-1.0 mm diameter, and round fragments of pink-colored tephra (as opposed to the gray, sand-size grains from a small event on 12 May). These observations were also reported in field notes by Halldor Geirsson and in an abstract by Witter and others (2011). During a lull in activity on 16 May 2011, the team visited Telica's summit. Upon approaching the N rim, they heard no sounds coming from the crater, and they measured temperatures on the crater floor of ~ 395°C. They observed fresh, inward-directed rockfalls from the crater's rim and found the N wall unstable and dangerous, seemingly on the verge of falling. The team also observed a dark area on the SE wall and floor of the crater, which suggested that recent explosions had concentrated tephra on these surfaces.

Washington VAAC 15 and 17 May. The Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported that the GOES-13 satellite detected at least two plumes on 15 and 17 May 2011. This satellite imagery confirmed gas-rich plumes on both days at ~ 1.8 km altitude, but ash content could not be determined from available images. INETER reported that these events were accompanied by elevated seismicity on 15 May and associated ashfall occurred 4 km N of the summit. After three emissions of gas on 17 May, ash and tephra fell SE of the summit. The last time plumes from Telica appeared in VAAC reports was in early months of 2007 when plumes reached an altitude of ~ 1.5 km for three days in January and February drifting SW.

Explosion with sustained ash plumes. On 18 May INETER posted two online reports ("Volcanic Communications" 5 and 6) indicating the peak of activity starting on that day. After two hours of sustained explosive activity producing ash plumes ~ 600 m high, the largest explosion suddenly occurred at 1350 on the 18th. A column of ash rose to an altitude of 2.6 km and was maintained for six minutes (figure 25). More than 15 explosions were seismically recorded (with a maximum of 350 RSAM units). The episodic explosions produced ash, steam, and, at times, lightning within the plume. Temperatures within the crater were gauged at a maximum 432°C, and flank fumaroles were measured to be 60-126°C.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. A sustained ash plume issued from Telica during the peak of activity in 21 May 2011. Courtesy of Halldor Geirsson.

In a 19 May statement to news agencies, the municipal committee for disaster prevention and mitigation (COMUPRED) reported the evacuation of 390 families from nine villages near the volcano. The villages included Agua Fría (150 m from the edifice) and Los Patos, the most distant of the villages at 8 km from the edifice.

On 19 May, public meetings were held that included INETER, civil defense, and national disaster response (SINAPRED) representatives. A widely discussed issue was how the heavy ashfall and volcanic gases were affecting water quality. Officials favored monitoring local wells within 5 km of Telica's edifice.By 20 May, Telica's explosions became infrequent: three were registered that day. Only ash and resulting plumes rose to 500-800m altitude. Microseismicity remained high (850 events) and 60 earthquakes (M 0.8-2.2) were located at depths of 0.7-2.2 km (table 2).

On 20 May, explosions were also infrequent but four large events from the crater emitted plumes with heights of 500-700 m. In addition, at 1500 on the 20th, one large, continuous explosion occurred that lasted 36 minutes. Observers described a plume containing gas, steam, tephra, and small rocks. The largest ballistics did not reach farther than the crater rim and lightning was observed in the plume. INETER noted that wind conditions allowed the plume to reach 2 km altitude. Nine hundred microseismic events were recorded on 21 May and 57 earthquakes (M 0.5-2.0) were located with average depth of 1 km.

Well monitoring on 21 May revealed slight changes in local water quality. Sites located NE and within 5 km of the summit showed elevated quantities of sulfates, chlorides, alkalinity and PH.

New SO2 monitoring efforts. On 22 May, Universidad Tecnológica de Chalmers (Switzerland) and SNET (El Salvador) installed two portable Mini-DOAS stations (Differential Optical Absorption Spectrometer) at Los Angeles and Mendoza to measure SO2 levels.. These stations were installed downwind from Telica, SW of the edifice (figure 26). While the fixed stations collected data, traverses were made across the plume with mobile Mini-DOAS.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Location map of SO2 monitoring stations, Los Angeles and Mendoza, located SW of Telica Volcano (green stars). The 22 May 2011, Mini-DOAS traverse is highlighted in red. Courtesy of INETER.

The first Mini-DOAS results from fixed stations were obtained on 24 May. Data from the Los Angeles and Mendoza monitoring stations showed that flow of SO2 oscillated between 50 and 150 tons/day. Data collected from traverses below the plume on 23-27 May were processed by the Universidad Tecnológica de Chalmers (Switzerland). The traverse results compared well with the fixed stations: reported values ranged from 40 to 130 tons/day. Peak SO2 values from the fixed stations appeared as follows: Mendoza station, 420 tons/day on (28 May); Los Angeles station, 194 tons/day (30 May).

May 2011 eruption declines. INETER reported that ash explosions became infrequent during 23-30 May. That said, a cluster of eight explosions occurred sequentially on 24 May and created plumes reaching 600 m above the crater. Microseismicity remained high throughout the rest of the month. During 23-24 May, the largest number of earthquakes were located. Approximately 100 earthquakes (M 0.7-2.5) occurred with hypocenters at depths of 1-15 km.

According to the information supplied by the Directiorate of Meteorology of INETER, on 24 May ash expelled from Telica drifted SE at 8-15 km/hour at altitudes of 1.5 km. In their 24 May report, INETER warned that eruptive conditions could continue during the remainder of the month. They recommended the authorities of the Institute Nicargüense of Aeronaútica Civil (INAC) to caution air traffic about persistent and dispersed volcanic ash.

SO2 monitoring in June. On 3 June INETER conducted field investigations and measured SO2 with Mini-DOAS and Mobile DOAS. There were eight successful on-land traverses below the plume, each covering 18 km. Mobile DOAS data indicated a decrease in SO2: the maximum value recorded was 39 tons/day. SO2 flux from the two fixed stations, Mendoza and Los Angeles, also showed reduced levels during the early part of the month but an increase appeared from both sites in 13-15 June. INETER suggested that the low SO2 flux in early June may have been influenced by local wind patterns. Observers in the area noticed that the summit plume was very dispersed during this time. Wind velocities reported by NOAA were as low as 1.2 m/s on 3 June.

During a field visit by INETER on 14 June, the investigators managed to count 17 explosions that expelled ash and gas. The explosions occurred within short intervals of time, from two to three minutes and the longest interim was 10 minutes. The field team visited fumaroles S of the TEL4 seismic station and recorded temperatures from three fumaroles with values ranging from 64-76°C.

Field data collected on 30 June included a maximum temperature of 590°C from the crater (figure 27). The team observed incandescence within the crater and from a new vent near the NE wall. There were jetting and collapse sounds emitting from the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Telica's crater temperatures measured January-October 2011. Note multiple measurements taken during the peak of activity in May and two measurements in September. The value measured in February was obtained with an infrared camera (Institute of Renewable Energy). Courtesy of INETER.

During June the number of earthquakes diminished but seismicity remained high. Approximately 500 earthquakes were registered per day. Approximately 100 earthquakes (up to M 2.8) were located (half the number located in May) at a maximum depth of 28 km (table 2). The majority of the events were volcanic-tectonic (VT) and doublet earthquakes (paired events). The dominant frequencies of the earthquakes shifted in June to 4.0-8.0 Hz.

Routine monitoring in July. During fieldwork on 12 July, INETER measured SO2 flux with Mobile DOAS. Five traverses, each one 8.5 km in distance, were recorded. The average value of SO2 was higher than the previous month, 484 tons/day. In their monthly report, INETER discussed the strong impact of inferred wind speed on their new gas measurements. During the month wind patterns were variable with speeds average ~ 5.8 m/s. They commented that the plume was noticeably less dispersed when they conducted the gas measurements.

On 22 July routine fieldwork was conducted at Telica. Residents of La Joya had heard loud jetting noises and at night saw incandescence at the summit. During the day, the team also heard jetting but did not see any explosive activity or feel earthquakes. Crater temperatures averaged 265°C (five measurements), very low compared to the previous month (figure 27). Temperatures taken from fumaroles S of the seismic station ranged from 68-72°C (three fumaroles).

Incandescence during August to October 2011. Halldor Geirsson noted that incandescence was seen in August 2011 (by Mel Rodgers and INETER staff). Further anomalous activity was not reported that month. A night visit took place on 9 September. The INETER team observed incandescence from the crater and measured temperatures with a thermal camera recording a maximum 458?C. No jetting sounds were heard.

On 13 September INETER measured SO2 with Mobile DOAS. There were seven traverses along an 8.5-km stretch of road to cross below Telica's gas plume. SO2 flux was significantly lower than the previous month with an average of 81 tons/day.

On 13 October, SO2 traverses were attempted, but no gas was detected. Wind patterns had been disrupted by a low-pressure system that caused major flooding along Nicaragua's W coast.

During INETER's 27 October field visit, the team observed incandescence during the day and fragments of molten spatter were released during moderate gas explosions (figure 28). They also observed minor gas emissions and loud jetting persisted from the crater. INETER took five measurements of crater temperature, which averaged 280?C. Temperatures from three fumaroles S of seismic station TEL4 were 66-72°C. Vegetation was noticeably affected by volcanic gases; numerous dead plants were photographed during the 27 October visit.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Two photos both showing the same scene, centered on active vents within Telica's summit crater on 27 October 2011. Original photo (left); black and white copy (right). Gas explosions and spatter escaped from these vents during the field visit. Courtesy of INETER.

References. Bellos, A., Mulholland, K., O'Brien, K.L., Qazi, S.A., Gayer, M., Checchi, F., 2010, The burden of acute respiratory infections in crisis-affected populations: a systematic review: Conflict and Health, v. 4, no. 3.

Freundt, A., Kutterolf, S., Schmincke, H.-U., Hansteen, T., Wehrmann, H., Peréz, W., Strauch, W., Navarro, M., 2006, Volcanic hazards in Nicaragua: Past, present, and future, in Rose, W.I., Bluth, G.J.S., Carr, M.J., Ewert, J.W., Patino, L.C., and Vallance, J.W., eds., Volcanic hazards in Central America: Geological Society of America Special Paper 412, p. 141-165.

Malilay, J., Real, M.G., Vanegas, A.R., Noji, E., and Sinks, T., 1996, Public Health Surveillance after a Volcanic Eruption: Lessons from Cerro Negro, Nicaragua, 1992: Bulletin of Pan American Health Organization, v. 30, no. 3.

Witter, M.R., Geirsson, H., La Femina, P.C., Roman, D.C., Rodgers, M., Muñoz, A., Morales, A., Tenorio, V., Chavarria, D., Feineman, M.D., Furman, T., and Longley, A., 2011, May 2011 eruption of Telica Volcano, Nicaragua: Multidisciplinary observations, Abstract V53E-2670, Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, California.

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 Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Apartado Postal 2110, Managua, Nicaragua (URL: http://www.ineter.gob.ni/); 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/); Halldor Geirsson, The Pennsylvania State University, Department of Geosciences, 536 Deike Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA; La Prensa: (URL: http://www.laprensa.com.ni/2011/05/19/departamentos/60948); Mel Rodgers, University of South Florida, Department of Geology, 4202 East Fowler Ave., SCA528, Tampa, FL 33620, USA.


Zubair Group (Yemen) — November 2011 Citation iconCite this Report

Zubair Group

Yemen

15.05°N, 42.18°E; summit elev. 191 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


December 2011 submarine eruption spotted by fishermen; island emerges

Following two M 3 earthquakes in the region on 13 December 2011, fishermen in Salif City, Yemen, reported an eruption in the Zubair island group that began as late as 18 December 2011. Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images of the area also first revealed a plume on 18 December, and this and later MODIS images fixed the vent's location at a spot in the N portion of Yemen's Jebel Zubair (Zubair Group, figure 1). A new island emerged in this vicinity and was large enough to resolve in satellite imagery by 23 December 2011. The latitude and longitude given in the title for Jebel Zubair (15.05°N, 42.18°E) indicate the largest island of the Zubair Group (figure 1); the new island emerged at approximately 15.158°N, 42.101°E.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Map and index map of the 10 islands of the Zubair Group (Yemen) with our indication of the site of the new eruption and its associated emergent island. The islands emerge in the southern Red Sea, dotting an elongate region of about 8 x 27 km. Islands represented by gray shading; other features identified by legend at left. Plotted earthquake epicenters are given in table 1. The cross section at bottom is along line A-B. Modified from Gass and others (1973); index map modified from MapsOf.net.

Initial reports. According to an article published in the Yemen Observer on 19 December, the fishermen who first reported the eruption stated that it was near Saba island (figure 1). They stated that they could see the eruption from 3 hours travel time away. The fishermen reported that the volcano had been "popping up red lava that reached 20-30 meters high." The same day, an EOS-AURA Ozone Monitoring Istrument (OMI) image showed an SO2 cloud in the area (figure 2). According to Volcano Discovery, a reader from Yemen confirmed the reported eruption, and added that an earthquake was felt on 19 December. Two other seismic events in the Zubair Group were recorded by the Seismological and Volcanological Observatory Center (SVOC) on 13 December (table 1, figure 1).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. An SO2 cloud over the area of the Zubair island group captured by the AURA satellite's OMI imager between 1023 and 1205 on 19 December 2011. Scale at right is in Dobson Units (DU). The mass of SO2 depicted on this image was 0.403 kilotons (kt); the area of the cloud was ~45,352 km2; the maximum SO2 values on the image occured at 15.28°N and 14.28°E and reached 1.4 DU. Courtesy of Simon Carn and NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Aura/OMI.

Table 1. Seismic events recorded in the Zubair Group in December 2011. Courtesy of the Seismological and Volcanological Observatory Center (SVOC).

Date Time Location Depth Magnitude Distance from eruption site
13 Dec 2011 0122 15.037°N, 42.176°E 38 km 3.7 15.6 km
13 Dec 2011 0501 15.167°N, 42.172°E 6 km 3.9 7.7 km

On 20 December, the Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported a white plume that may have contained some unidentifiable ash (as reported that day from an aircraft in the area). Their report included a remark that the eruption seemed to be a continuing submarine eruption that began on 18 December. They stated that the plume was not identifiable in their satellite data. On 22 December, the Emirates News Agency published an article reporting that the head of SVOC stated that, based on preliminary data, there was no danger to marine navigation.

Small plumes were visible on MODIS imagery beginning on 18 December (figure 3). While cloud cover and dust plumes rendered the images speculative on a few days, others provided a clear view of the plumes, and highlighted their origin (figure 3f). The plumes did not appear to originate from one of the Zubair islands, but instead from just N of Rugged and ~ 1.5 km SW of Haycock islands (figure 4; also see "Eruption site" on figure 1). The lack of plumes prior to 18 December 2011, and the persistence of plumes after, indicates that the eruption began breaking the surface of the Red Sea sometime during 17-18 December.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Satellite images of the Zubair Group captured during 17-22 December 2011. Images b-f show small plumes (circled) emanating from ~1.5 km SW of Haycock and just N of Rugged. A dust plume somewhat obscures the visibility in (b) and clouds are present in (c) and (d). Pixel resolution in each image is 250 m. All images acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite except (d), which was acquired by the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite. Images courtesy of NASA's Land Atmosphere Near Real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. NASA Earth Observatory images captured by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite on (a) 24 October 2007 and (b) 23 December 2011. The 23 December 2011 image shows that an apparent new island is the eruption site, less than 1 km to the N of Rugged Island. An eruptive plume is seen rising and drifting to the N. Courtesy of Jesse Allen and Michon Scott, NASA Earth Observatory.

New island. Finally, following approximately a week of widespread speculation on the exact location of the plume's source, NASA Earth Observatory published a high resolution satellite image of a new eruption (acquired 23 December 2011), clearly showing the off-island source of the eruptive plumes (figure 4b). From comparison with an image acquired on 24 October 2007, the 23 December 2011 image clearly shows that the eruption site was less than 1 km due N of Rugged Island, and was an apparent new island (figure 4). Their report stated that "The image . . . shows an apparent island where there had previously been an unbroken water surface." As of 28 December 2011, all information seems to point to the formation of a new, as yet unnamed, island in the Red Sea.

Reference. Gass, I.G., Mallick, D.I.J., and Cox, K.G., 1973, Volcanic islands of the Red Sea, Journal of the Geological Society of London, v. 129, p. 275-310 (DOI: 10.1144/gs

Geologic Background. The 5-km-long Jebel Zubair Island is the largest of a group of small islands and submerged shoals that rise from a shallow platform in the Red Sea rift. The platform and eruptive vents forming the islands and shoals are oriented NNW-SSE, parallel to the rift. An early explosive phase was followed by a brief period of marine erosion, then by renewed explosive activity accompanied by the extrusion of basaltic pahoehoe lava flows. This latest phase of activity occurred on the morphologically youngest islands of Zubair, Centre Peak, Saba, and Haycock. Historical explosive activity was reported from Saddle Island in the 19th century. Spatter cones and pyroclastic cones were erupted along fissures that form the low spine of Zubair Island. Eruptions that began in late 2011 built two new islands, increasing the total number in the group to 12.

Information Contacts: MapsOf.net (URL: http://mapsof.net/); The Yemen Observer, P.O. Box 19183, Sana'a, Rep. of Yemen (URL: http://www.yobserver.com/); Seismological and Volcanological Observatory Center (SVOC), P.O. Box 87175, Dhamar, Yemen (URL: http://www.nsoc.org.ye/); Simon Carn, NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring, Aura/OMI (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Météo France, 42 Avenue Gaspard Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse Cedex 1, France (URL: http://www.meteo.fr/vaac/eindex.html); Emirates News Agency, 3790 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (URL: http://wam.org.ae/); NASA's Land Atmosphere Near Real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE) (URL: http://lance.nasa.gov/); NASA Earth Observatory (Jesse Allen and Michon Scott), NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/).

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


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/).