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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

San Miguel (El Salvador) Small ash emissions during 22 February 2020

Cleveland (United States) Intermittent thermal anomalies and lava dome subsidence, February 2019-January 2020

Ambrym (Vanuatu) Fissure eruption in December 2018 produces an offshore pumice eruption after lava lakes drain

Copahue (Chile-Argentina) Ash emissions end on 12 November; lake returns to El Agrio Crater in December 2019

Nishinoshima (Japan) Ongoing activity enlarges island with lava flows, ash plumes, and incandescent ejecta, December 2019-February 2020

Krakatau (Indonesia) Tephra and steam explosions in the crater lake; explosions in December 2019 build a tephra cone

Mayotte (France) Seismicity and deformation, with submarine E-flank volcanism starting in July 2018

Fernandina (Ecuador) Fissure eruption produced lava flows during 12-13 January 2020

Masaya (Nicaragua) Lava lake persists with lower temperatures during August 2019-January 2020

Reventador (Ecuador) Nearly daily ash emissions and frequent incandescent block avalanches August 2019-January 2020

Pacaya (Guatemala) Continuous explosions, small cone, and lava flows during August 2019-January 2020

Kikai (Japan) Single explosion with steam and minor ash, 2 November 2019

San Miguel (El Salvador) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

San Miguel

El Salvador

13.434°N, 88.269°W; summit elev. 2130 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Small ash emissions during 22 February 2020

San Miguel, locally known as Chaparrastique, is a stratovolcano located in El Salvador. Recent activity has consisted of occasional small ash explosions and ash emissions. Infrequent gas-and-steam and ash emissions were observed during this reporting period of June 2018-March 2020. The primary source of information for this report comes from El Salvador's Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales (SNET) and special reports from the Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN) in addition to various satellite data.

Based on Sentinel-2 satellite imagery and analyses of infrared MODIS data, volcanism at San Miguel from June 2018 to mid-February was relatively low, consisting of occasional gas-and-steam emissions. During 2019, a weak thermal anomaly in the summit crater was registered in thermal satellite imagery (figure 27). This thermal anomaly persisted during a majority of the year but was not visible after September 2019; faint gas-and-steam emissions could sometimes be seen rising from the summit crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of a faint but consistent thermal anomaly at San Miguel during 2019. Images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Volcanism was prominent beginning on 13-20 February 2020 when SO2 emissions exceeded 620 tons/day (typical low SO2 values are less than 400 tons/day). During 20-21 February the amplitude of microearthquakes increased and minor emissions of gas-and-steam and SO2 were visible within the crater (figure 28). According to SNET and special reports from MARN, on 22 February at 1055 an ash cloud was visible rising 400 m above the crater rim (figure 29), resulting in minor ashfall in Piedra Azul (5 km SW). That same day RSAM values peaked at 550 units as recorded by the VSM station on the upper N flank, which is above normal values of about 150. Seismicity increased the day after the eruptive activity. Minor gas-and-steam emissions continued to rise 400 m above the crater rim during 23-24 February; the RSAM values fell to 33-97 units. Activity in March was relatively low; some seismicity, including small magnitude earthquakes, occurred during the month in addition to SO2 emissions ranging from 517 to 808 tons/day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Minor gas-and-steam emissions rising from the crater at San Miguel on 21 February 2020. Courtesy of Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Gas-and-steam and ash emissions rising from the crater at San Miguel on 22 February 2020. Courtesy of Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN).

Geologic Background. The symmetrical cone of San Miguel volcano, one of the most active in El Salvador, rises from near sea level to form one of the country's most prominent landmarks. The unvegetated summit rises above slopes draped with coffee plantations. A broad, deep crater complex that has been frequently modified by historical eruptions (recorded since the early 16th century) caps the truncated summit, also known locally as Chaparrastique. Radial fissures on the flanks of the basaltic-andesitic volcano have fed a series of historical lava flows, including several erupted during the 17th-19th centuries that reached beyond the base of the volcano on the N, NE, and SE sides. The SE-flank flows are the largest and form broad, sparsely vegetated lava fields crossed by highways and a railroad skirting the base of the volcano. The location of flank vents has migrated higher on the edifice during historical time, and the most recent activity has consisted of minor ash eruptions from the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales (SNET), Ministero de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN), Km. 5½ Carretera a Nueva San Salvador, Avenida las Mercedes, San Salvador, El Salvador (URL: http://www.snet.gob.sv/ver/vulcanologia); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).

Cleveland (United States) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report


United States

52.825°N, 169.944°W; summit elev. 1730 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Intermittent thermal anomalies and lava dome subsidence, February 2019-January 2020

Cleveland is a stratovolcano located in the western portion of Chuginadak Island, a remote island part of the east central Aleutians. Common volcanism has included small lava flows, explosions, and ash clouds. Intermittent lava dome growth, small ash explosions, and thermal anomalies have characterized more recent activity (BGVN 44:02). For this reporting period during February 2019-January 2020, activity largely consisted of gas-and-steam emissions and intermittent thermal anomalies within the summit crater. The primary source of information comes from the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) and various satellite data.

Low levels of unrest occurred intermittently throughout this reporting period with gas-and-steam emissions and thermal anomalies as the dominant type of activity (figures 30 and 31). An explosion on 9 January 2019 was followed by lava dome growth observed during 12-16 January. Suomi NPP/VIIRS sensor data showed two hotspots on 8 and 14 February 2019, though there was no evidence of lava within the summit crater at that time. According to satellite imagery from AVO, the lava dome was slowly subsiding during February into early March. Elevated surface temperatures were detected on 17 and 24 March in conjunction with degassing; another gas-and-steam plume was observed rising from the summit on 30 March. Thermal anomalies were again seen on 15 and 28 April using Suomi NPP/VIIRS sensor data. Intermittent gas-and-steam emissions continued as the number of detected thermal anomalies slightly increased during the next month, occurring on 1, 7, 15, 18, and 23 May. A gas-and-steam plume was observed on 9 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. The MIROVA graph of thermal activity (log radiative power) at Cleveland during 4 February 2019 through January 2020 shows increased thermal anomalies between mid-April to late November 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (bands 12, 11, 8A) confirmed intermittent thermal signatures occurring in the summit crater during March 2019 through October 2019. Some gas-and-steam plumes were observed accompanying the thermal anomaly, as seen on 17 March 2019 and 8 May 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

There were 10 thermal anomalies observed in June, and 11 each in July and August. Typical mild degassing was visible when photographed on 9 August (figure 32). On 14 August, seismicity increased, which included a swarm of a dozen local earthquakes. The lava dome emplaced in January was clearly visible in satellite imagery (figure 33). The number of thermal anomalies decreased the next month, occurring on 10, 21, and 25 September. During this month, a gas-and-steam plume was observed in a webcam image on 6, 8, 20, and 25 September. On 3-6, 10, and 21 October elevated surface temperatures were recorded as well as small gas-and-steam plumes on 4, 7, 13, and 20-25 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Photograph of Cleveland showing mild degassing from the summit vent taken on 9 August 2019. Photo by Max Kaufman; courtesy of AVO/USGS.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Satellite image of Cleveland showing faint gas-and-steam emissions rising from the summit crater. High-resolution image taken on 17 August 2019 showing the lava dome from January 2019 inside the crater (dark ring). Image created by Hannah Dietterich; courtesy of AVO/USGS and DigitalGlobe.

Four thermal anomalies were detected on 3, 6, and 8-9 November. According to a VONA report from AVO on 8 November, satellite data suggested possible slow lava effusion in the summit crater; however, by the 15th no evidence of eruptive activity had been seen in any data sources. Another thermal anomaly was observed on 14 January 2020. Gas-and-steam emissions observed in webcam images continued intermittently.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows intermittent weak thermal anomalies within 5 km of the crater summit during mid-April through November 2019 with a larger cluster of activity in early June, late July and early October (figure 30). Thermal satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 also detected weak thermal anomalies within the summit crater throughout the reporting period, occasionally accompanied by gas-and-steam plumes (figure 31).

Geologic Background. The beautifully symmetrical Mount Cleveland stratovolcano is situated at the western end of the uninhabited Chuginadak Island. It lies SE across Carlisle Pass strait from Carlisle volcano and NE across Chuginadak Pass strait from Herbert volcano. Joined to the rest of Chuginadak Island by a low isthmus, Cleveland is the highest of the Islands of the Four Mountains group and is one of the most active of the Aleutian Islands. The native name, Chuginadak, refers to the Aleut goddess of fire, who was thought to reside on the volcano. Numerous large lava flows descend the steep-sided flanks. It is possible that some 18th-to-19th century eruptions attributed to Carlisle should be ascribed to Cleveland (Miller et al., 1998). In 1944 Cleveland produced the only known fatality from an Aleutian eruption. Recent eruptions have been characterized by short-lived explosive ash emissions, at times accompanied by lava fountaining and lava flows down the flanks.

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/); 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); NASA Worldview (URL: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/).

Ambrym (Vanuatu) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report



16.25°S, 168.12°E; summit elev. 1334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Fissure eruption in December 2018 produces an offshore pumice eruption after lava lakes drain

Ambrym is an active volcanic island in the Vanuatu archipelago consisting of a 12 km-wide summit caldera. Benbow and Marum are two currently active craters within the caldera that have produced lava lakes, explosions, lava flows, ash, and gas emissions, in addition to fissure eruptions. More recently, a submarine fissure eruption in December 2018 produced lava fountains and lava flows, which resulted in the drainage of the active lava lakes in both the Benbow and Marum craters (BGVN 44:01). This report updates information from January 2019 through March 2020, including the submarine pumice eruption during December 2018 using information from the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department (VMGD) and research by Shreve et al. (2019).

Activity on 14 December 2018 consisted of thermal anomalies located in the lava lake that disappeared over a 12-hour time period; a helicopter flight on 16 December confirmed the drainage of the summit lava lakes as well as a partial collapse of the Benbow and Marum craters (figure 49). During 14-15 December, a lava flow (figure 49), accompanied by lava fountaining, was observed originating from the SE flank of Marum, producing SO2 and ash emissions. A Mw 5.6 earthquake on 15 December at 2021 marked the beginning of a dike intrusion into the SE rift zone as well as a sharp increase in seismicity (Shreve et al., 2019). This intrusion extended more than 30 km from within the caldera to beyond the east coast, with a total volume of 419-532 x 106 m3 of magma. More than 2 m of coastal uplift was observed along the SE coast due to the asymmetry of the dike from December, resulting in onshore fractures.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Ambrym before the December 2018 eruption (left), and during the eruption (right). Before the eruption, the thermal signatures within both summit craters were strong and after the eruption, the thermal signatures were no longer detected. A lava flow was observed during the eruption on 15 December. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Shreve et al. (2019) state that although the dike almost reached the surface, magma did not erupt from the onshore fractures; only minor gas emissions were detected until 17 December. An abrupt decrease in the seismic moment release on 17 December at 1600 marked the end of the dike propagation (figure 50). InSAR-derived models suggested an offshore eruption (Shreve et al., 2019). This was confirmed on 18-19 December when basaltic pumice, indicating a subaqueous eruption, was collected on the beach near Pamal and Ulei. Though the depth and exact location of the fissure has not been mapped, the nature of the basaltic pumice would suggest it was a relatively shallow offshore eruption, according to Shreve et al. (2019).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Geographical timeline summary of the December 2018 eruptive events at Ambrym. The lava lake level began to drop on 14 December, with fissure-fed lava flows during 14-15 December. After an earthquake on 15 December, a dike was detected, causing coastal uplift as it moved E. As the dike continued to propagate upwards, faulting was observed, though magma did not breach the surface. Eventually a submarine fissure eruption was confirmed offshore on 18-19 December. Image modified from Shreve et al. (2019).

In the weeks following the dike emplacement, there was more than 2 m of subsidence measured at both summit craters identified using ALOS-2 and Sentinel-1 InSAR data. After 22 December, no additional large-scale deformation was observed, though a localized discontinuity (less than 12 cm) measured across the fractures along the SE coast in addition to seismicity suggested a continuation of the distal submarine eruption into late 2019. Additional pumice was observed on 3 February 2019 near Pamal village, suggesting possible ongoing activity. These surveys also noted that no gas-and-steam emissions, lava flows, or volcanic gases were emitted from the recently active cracks and faults on the SE cost of Ambrym.

During February-October 2019, onshore activity at Ambrym declined to low levels of unrest, according to VMGD. The only activity within the summit caldera consisted of gas-and-steam emissions, with no evidence of the previous lava lakes (figure 51). Intermittent seismicity and gas-and-steam emissions continued to be observed at Ambrym and offshore of the SE coast. Mével et al. (2019) installed three Trillium Compact 120s posthole seismometers in the S and E part of Ambrym from 25 May to 5 June 2019. They found that there were multiple seismic events, including a Deep-Long Period event and mixed up/down first motions at two stations near the tip of the dike intrusion and offshore of Pamal at depths of 15-20 km below sea level. Based on a preliminary analysis of these data, Mével et al. (2019) interpreted the observations as indicative of ongoing volcanic seismicity in the region of the offshore dike intrusion and eruption.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. Aerial photograph of Ambrym on 12 August 2019 showing gas-and-steam emissions rising from the summit caldera. Courtesy of VMGD.

Seismicity was no longer reported from 10 October 2019 through March 2020. Thermal anomalies were not detected in satellite data except for one in late April and one in early September 2019, according to MODIS thermal infrared data analyzed by the MIROVA system. The most recent report from VMGD was issued on 27 March 2020, which noted low-level unrest consisting of dominantly gas-and-steam emissions.


Shreve T, Grandin R, Boichu M, Garaebiti E, Moussallam Y, Ballu V, Delgado F, Leclerc F, Vallée M, Henriot N, Cevuard S, Tari D, Lebellegard P, Pelletier B, 2019. From prodigious volcanic degassing to caldera subsidence and quiescence at Ambrym (Vanuatu): the influence of regional tectonics. Sci. Rep. 9, 18868. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-55141-7.

Mével H, Roman D, Brothelande E, Shimizu K, William R, Cevuard S, Garaebiti E, 2019. The CAVA (Carnegie Ambrym Volcano Analysis) Project - a Multidisciplinary Characterization of the Structure and Dynamics of Ambrym Volcano, Vanuatu. American Geophysical Union, Fall 2019 Meeting, Abstract and Poster V43C-0201.

Geologic Background. Ambrym, a large basaltic volcano with a 12-km-wide caldera, is one of the most active volcanoes of the New Hebrides Arc. A thick, almost exclusively pyroclastic sequence, initially dacitic then basaltic, overlies lava flows of a pre-caldera shield volcano. The caldera was formed during a major Plinian eruption with dacitic pyroclastic flows about 1,900 years ago. Post-caldera eruptions, primarily from Marum and Benbow cones, have partially filled the caldera floor and produced lava flows that ponded on the floor or overflowed through gaps in the caldera rim. Post-caldera eruptions have also formed a series of scoria cones and maars along a fissure system oriented ENE-WSW. Eruptions have apparently occurred almost yearly during historical time from cones within the caldera or from flank vents. However, from 1850 to 1950, reporting was mostly limited to extra-caldera eruptions that would have affected local populations.

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

Copahue (Chile-Argentina) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report



37.856°S, 71.183°W; summit elev. 2953 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Ash emissions end on 12 November; lake returns to El Agrio Crater in December 2019

Most of the large edifice of Copahue lies high in the central Chilean Andes, but the active El Agrio crater lies on the Argentinian side of the border at the W edge of the Pliocene Caviahue caldera. Infrequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the 18th century. The most recent eruptive episode began with phreatic explosions and ash emissions on 2 August 2019 that continued until mid-November 2019. This report summarizes activity from November 2019 through February 2020 and is based on reports issued by Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN) Observatorio Volcanológico de Los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), satellite data, and photographs from nearby residents.

MIROVA data indicated a few weak thermal anomalies during mid-October to mid-November 2019. Multiple continuous ash emissions were reported daily until mid-November when activity declined significantly. By mid-December the lake inside El Agrio crater had reappeared and occasional steam plumes were the only reported surface activity at Copahue through February 2020.

The Buenos Aires VAAC and SERNAGEOMIN both reported continuous ash emissions during 1-9 November 2019 that were visible in the webcam. Satellite imagery recorded the plumes drifting generally E or NE at 3.0-4.3 km altitude (figure 49). Most of the emissions on 10 November were steam (figure 50). The last pulse of ash emissions occurred on 12 November with an ash plume visible moving SE at 3 km altitude in satellite imagery and a strong thermal anomaly (figure 51). The following day emissions were primarily steam and gas. SERNAGEOMIN noted the ash emissions rising around 800 m above El Agrio crater and also reported incandescence visible during most nights through mid-November. During the second half of November the constant degassing was primarily water vapor with occasional nighttime incandescence. Steam plumes rose 450 m above the crater on 27 November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 49. Continuous ash emissions at Copahue during 1-9 November 2019 were visible in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 2 and 7 November 2019 drifting NE. Natural color rendering uses bands 4,3, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. Most of the emissions from Copahue on 10 November 2019 were steam. Left image courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, taken from Caviahue, Argentina. Right image courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground, natural color rendering using bands 4, 3, and 2.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. A strong thermal anomaly and an ash plume at Copahue were visible in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 12 November 2019. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground, Atmospheric penetration rendering bands 12, 11, and 8A.

Nighttime incandescence was last observed in the SERNAGEOMIN webcam on 1 December; SERNAGEOMIN lowered the alert level from Yellow to Green on 15 December 2019. Throughout December degassing consisted mainly of minor steam plumes (figure 52), the highest plume rose to 300 m above the crater on 18 December, and minor SO2 plumes persisted through the 21st (figure 53),. By mid-December the El Agrio crater lake was returning and satellite images clearly showed the increase in size of the lake through February (figure 54). The only surface activity reported during January and February 2020 was occasional white steam plumes rising near El Agrio crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. Small wisps of steam were the only emissions from Copahue on 3 December 2019. Courtesy of Valentina Sepulveda, taken from Caviahue, Argentina.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. Small plumes of SO2 were recorded at Copahue during November and December 2019. Top row: 7, 9, and 30 November. Bottom row: 1, 20, and 21 December. Courtesy of Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, NASA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. The lake within El Agrio crater reappeared between 5 and 12 December 2019 and continued to grow in size through the end of January 2020. Top row (left to right): There was no lake inside the crater on 5 December 2019, only a small steam plume rising from the vent. The first water was visible on 12 December and was slightly larger a few days later on 17 December. Bottom row (left to right): the lake was significantly larger on 4 January 2020 filling an embayment close to the steam vent. Fingers of water filled in areas of the crater as the water level rose on 24 and 29 January. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Volcán Copahue is an elongated composite cone constructed along the Chile-Argentina border within the 6.5 x 8.5 km wide Trapa-Trapa caldera that formed between 0.6 and 0.4 million years ago near the NW margin of the 20 x 15 km Pliocene Caviahue (Del Agrio) caldera. The eastern summit crater, part of a 2-km-long, ENE-WSW line of nine craters, contains a briny, acidic 300-m-wide crater lake (also referred to as El Agrio or Del Agrio) and displays intense fumarolic activity. Acidic hot springs occur below the eastern outlet of the crater lake, contributing to the acidity of the Río Agrio, and another geothermal zone is located within Caviahue caldera about 7 km NE of the summit. Infrequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions from the crater lake have ejected pyroclastic rocks and chilled liquid sulfur fragments.

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/); 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); 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/); Valentina Sepulveda, Hotel Caviahue, Caviahue, Argentina (URL: https://twitter.com/valecaviahue, Twitter:@valecaviahue).

Nishinoshima (Japan) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report



27.247°N, 140.874°E; summit elev. 25 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Ongoing activity enlarges island with lava flows, ash plumes, and incandescent ejecta, December 2019-February 2020

After 40 years of dormancy, Japan’s Nishinoshima volcano, located about 1,000 km S of Tokyo in the Ogasawara Arc, erupted above sea level in November 2013. Lava flows were active through November 2015, emerging from a central pyroclastic cone. A new eruption in mid-2017 continued the growth of the island with ash plumes, ejecta, and lava flows. A short eruptive event in July 2018 produced a new lava flow and vent on the side of the pyroclastic cone. The next eruption of ash plumes, incandescent ejecta, and lava flows, covered in this report, began in early December 2019 and was ongoing through February 2020. Information is provided primarily from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) monthly reports.

Nishinoshima remained quiet after a short eruptive event in July 2018 until MODVOLC thermal alerts appeared on 5 December 2019. Multiple near-daily alerts continued through February 2020. The intermittent low-level thermal anomalies seen in the MIROVA data beginning in May and June 2019 may reflect areas with increased temperatures and fumarolic activity reported by the Japan Coast Guard during overflights in June and July. The significant increase in thermal anomalies in the MIROVA data on 5 December correlates with the beginning of extrusive and explosive activity (figure 63). Eruptive activity included ash emissions, incandescent ejecta, and numerous lava flows from multiple vents that flowed into the sea down several flanks, significantly enlarging the island.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 63. The MIROVA graph of thermal energy from Nishinoshima from 13 April 2019 through February 2020 shows low-level thermal activity beginning in mid-2019; there were reports of increased temperatures and fumarolic activity during that time. Eruptive activity including ash emissions, incandescent ejecta, and numerous lava flows began on 5 December 2019 and was ongoing through February 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

A brief period of activity during 12-21 July 2018 produced explosive activity with blocks and bombs ejected 500 m from a new vent on the E flank of the pyroclastic cone, and a 700-m-long lava flow that stopped about 100 m before reaching the ocean (BGVN 43:09). No further activity was reported during 2018. During overflights on 29 and 31 January, and 7 February 2019, white steam plumes drifted from the E crater margin and inner wall of the pyroclastic cone and discolored waters were present around the island, but no other signs of activity were reported. A survey carried out by the Japan Coast Guard during 7-8 June 2019 reported minor fumarolic activity from the summit crater, and high-temperature areas were noted on the hillsides, measured by infrared thermal imaging equipment. Sulfur dioxide emissions were below the detection limit. In an overflight on 12 July 2019, Coast Guard personnel noted a small white plume rising from the E edge of the summit crater of the pyroclastic cone (figure 64).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 64. The Japan Coast Guard noted a small white plume at the summit of Nishinoshima during an overflight on 12 July 2019, but no other signs of activity. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, July 2019).

The white plume was still present during an overflight on 14 August 2019. Greenish yellow areas of water about 500 m wide were distributed around the island, and a plume of green water extended 1.8 km from the NW coast. Similar conditions were observed on 15 October 2019; pale yellow-green discolored water was about 100 m wide and concentrated on the N shore of Nishinoshima. No steam plume from the summit was present during a visit on 19 November 2019, but yellow-white discolored water on the N shore was about 100 m wide and 700 m long. Along the NE and SE coasts, yellow-white water was 100-200 m wide and about 1,000 m long.

A MODVOLC thermal alert appeared at Nishinoshima on 5 December 2019. An eruption was observed by the Japan Coast Guard the following day. A pulsating light gray ash plume rose from the summit crater accompanied by tephra ejected 200 m above the crater rim every few minutes (figure 65). In addition, ash and tephra rose intermittently from a crater on the E flank of the pyroclastic cone, from which lava also flowed down towards the E coast (figure 66). By 1300 on 7 December the lava was flowing into the sea (figure 67).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 65. The eruption observed at Nishinoshima on 6 December 2019 included ash and tephra emissions from the summit vent, and ash, tephra, and a lava flow from the vent on the E flank of the pyroclastic cone. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, November 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 66. Thermal infrared imagery revealed incandescent ejecta from the summit crater and lava flowing from the E flank vent at Nishinoshima on 6 December 2019. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, November 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. By 1300 on 7 December 2019 lava from the E-flank vent at Nishinoshima was flowing into the sea. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, November 2019).

Observations by the Japan Coast Guard on 15 December 2019 confirmed that vigorous eruptive activity was ongoing; incandescent ejecta and ash plumes rose 300 m above the summit crater rim (figure 68). A new vent had opened on the N flank of the cone from which lava flowed NW to the sea (figure 69). The lava flow from the E-flank crater also remained active and continued flowing into the sea. The Tokyo VAAC reported an ash emission on 24 December that rose to 1,000 m altitude and drifted S. On 31 December, explosions at the summit continued every few seconds with ash and ejecta rising 300 m high. In addition, lava from the NE flank of the pyroclastic cone flowed NE to the sea (figure 70).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Incandescent ejecta and ash rose 300 m above the summit crater rim at Nishinoshima on 15 December 2019. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, December 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 69. Lava from a new vent on the NW flank of Nishinoshima was entering the sea on 15 December 2019, producing vigorous steam plumes. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, December 2019).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 70. At Nishinoshima on 31 December 2019 lava flowed down the NE flank of the pyroclastic cone into the sea, and incandescent ejecta rose 300 m above summit. Courtesy of JMA and the Japan Coast Guard (Volcanic activity monthly report, December 2019).

Satellite data from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) made it possible for JMA to produce maps showing the rapid changes in topography at Nishinoshima resulting from the new lava flows. The new E-flank lava flow was readily seen when comparing imagery from 22 November with 6 December 2019 (figure 71a). An image from 6 December compared with 20 December 2019 shows the flow on the E flank splitting and entering the sea at two locations (figure 71b), the flow on the NW flank traveling briefly N before turning W and forming a large fan into the ocean on the W flank, and a new flow heading NE from the summit area of the pyroclastic cone.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 71. Satellite data from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) made it possible to produce maps showing the changes in topography at Nishinoshima resulting from the new lava flows (shown in blue). In comparing 22 November with 6 December 2019 (A, left), the new lava flow on the E flank was visible. A new image from 20 December compared with 6 December (B, right) showed the flow on the E flank splitting and entering the sea at two locations, the NW-flank flow building a large fan into the ocean on the W flank, and a new flow heading NE from the summit area of the pyroclastic cone. Courtesy of JMA and the Japan Coast Guard (Volcanic activity monthly report, December 2019).

The Tokyo VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery on 15 January 2020 that rose to 1.8 km altitude and drifted SE. The Japan Coast Guard conducted an overflight on 17 January that confirmed the continued eruptions of ash, incandescent ejecta, and lava. Dark gray ash plumes were observed at 1.8 km altitude, with ashfall and tephra concentrated around the pyroclastic cone (figure 72). Plumes of steam were visible where the NE lava flow entered the ocean; the E and NW lava entry areas did not appear active but were still hot. Satellite data from ALOS-2 prepared by JAXA confirmed ongoing activity around the summit vent and on the NE flank, while activity on the W flank had ceased (figure 73). An ash plume was reported by the Tokyo VAAC on 25 January; it rose to 1.5 km altitude and drifted SW for most of the day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. Dense, dark gray ash plumes rose from the summit of Nishinoshima on 17 January 2020. Small plumes of steam from lava-seawater interactions were visible on the NE shore of the island as well (far right). Courtesy of JMA and the Japan Coast Guard (Volcanic activity monthly report, January 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 73. JAXA satellite data from 3 January 2020 (left) showed the growth of a new lava delta on the NE flank of Nishinoshima and minor activity occuring on the W flank compared with the previous image from 20 December 2019. By 17 January 2020 (right), the lava flow activity was concentrated on the NE flank with multiple deltas extending out into the sea. The ‘low correlation areas’ shown in blue represent changes in topography caused by new material from lava flows and ejecta added between the dates shown above the images. Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, January 2020).

On 3 Feburary 2020 the Tokyo VAAC reported an ash plume visible in satellite imagery that rose to 2.1 km altitude and drifted E. The following day the Japan Coast Guard observed eruptions from the summit crater at five minute intervals that produced grayish white plumes. The plumes rose to 2.7 km altitude (figure 74). Large bombs were scattered around the pyroclastic cone, and the summit crater appeared filled with lava except for the active vent. The lava deltas on the NE flank were only active at the tips of the flows producing a few steam jets where lava entered the sea. The active flows were on the SE flank, and a new 200-m-long lava flow was flowing down the N flank of the pyroclastic cone (figure 75). The lava flowing from the E flank of the pyroclastic cone to the SE into the sea, produced larger jets of steam (figure 76). Yellow-brown discolored water appeared around the island in several places.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 74. Ash emissions at Nishinoshima rose to 2.7 km altitude on 4 February 2020; steam jets from lava entering the ocean were active on the SE flank (far side of the island, right). Courtesy of JMA (Volcanic activity monthly report, February 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 75. The lava deltas on the NE flank of Nishinoshima (bottom center) were much less active on 4 February 2020 than the lava flow and growing delta on the SE flank (left). The newest flow headed N from the summit and was 200 m long (right of center). Courtesy of JMA and the Japan Coast Guard (Volcanic activity monthly report, February 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. The most active lava flows at Nishinoshima on 4 February 2020 were on the E flank; significant steam plumes rose in multiple locations along the coast where they entered the sea. Intermittent ash plumes also rose from the summit crater. Courtesy of JMA and Japan Coast Guard (Volcanic activity monthly report, February 2020).

JAXA satellite data confirmed that the flow activity was concentrated on the NE flank and shore during the second half of January 2020, but also recorded the new flow down the SE flank that was observed by the Coast Guard in early February. By mid-February the satellite topographic data indicated the decrease in activity in the NE flank flows, the increased activity on the SE and E flank, and the extension of the flow moving due N to the coast (figure 77). Observations on 17 February 2020 by the Japan Coast Guard revealed eruptions from the summit crater every few seconds, and steam-and-ash plumes rising about 600 m. Vigorous white emissions rose from fractures near the top of the W flank of the pyroclastic cone, but thermal data indicated the area was no hotter than the surrounding area (figure 78). The lava flow on the SE coast still had steam emissions rising from the ocean entry point, but activity was weaker than on 4 February. The newest flow moving due N from the summit produced steam emissions where the flow front entered the ocean.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Constantly changing lava flows at Nishinoshima reshaped the island during late January and February 2020. During the second half of January, flows were active on the NE flank, creating deltas into the sea off the NE coast and also on the SE flank into the sea at the SE coast (left). The ‘low correlation areas’ shown in blue represent changes in topography caused by new material from lava flows and ejecta added between the dates shown above the images. By 14 February (right) activity had slowed on the NE flank and expanded on the SE flank and N flank. Data is from the Land Observing Satellite-2 "Daichi-2" (ALOS-2). Courtesy of JMA and JAXA (Volcanic activity monthly report, February 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Vigorous white emissions rose from fractures near the top of the W flank of the pyroclastic cone at Nishinoshima on 17 February 2020, but thermal data indicated the area was no hotter than the surrounding area. Courtesy of JMA and Japan Coast Guard (Volcanic activity monthly report, February 2020).

Sulfur dioxide plumes from Nishinoshima have been small and infrequent in recent years, but the renewed and increased eruptive activity beginning in December 2019 produced several small SO2 plumes that were recorded in daily satellite data (figure 79).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. Small sulfur dioxide plumes from Nishinoshima were captured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel 5P satellite a few times during December 2019-February 2020 as the eruptive activity increased. The large red streak in the 3 February 2020 image is SO2 from an eruption of Kuchinoerabujima volcano (Ryukyu Islands) on the same day. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Simon Carn.

Geologic Background. The small island of Nishinoshima was enlarged when several new islands coalesced during an eruption in 1973-74. Another eruption that began offshore in 2013 completely covered the previous exposed surface and enlarged the island again. Water discoloration has been observed on several occasions since. The island is the summit of a massive submarine volcano that has prominent satellitic peaks to the S, W, and NE. The summit of the southern cone rises to within 214 m of the sea surface 9 km SSE.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency-Earth Observation Research Center (JAXA-EORC), 7-44-1 Jindaiji Higashi-machi, Chofu-shi, Tokyo 182-8522, Japan (URL: http://www.eorc.jaxa.jp/); Japan Coast Guard (JCG) Volcano Database, Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department, 3-1-1, Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8932, Japan (URL: http://www.kaiho.mlit.go.jp/info/kouhou/h29/index.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, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); 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/); Simon Carn, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931, USA (URL: http://www.volcarno.com/, Twitter: @simoncarn).

Krakatau (Indonesia) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report



6.102°S, 105.423°E; summit elev. 155 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Tephra and steam explosions in the crater lake; explosions in December 2019 build a tephra cone

Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait between Indonesia’s Java and Sumatra Islands experienced a major caldera collapse around 535 CE; it formed a 7-km-wide caldera ringed by three islands. Remnants of this volcano joined to create the pre-1883 Krakatau Island which collapsed during the major 1883 eruption. Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau), constructed beginning in late 1927 within the 1883 caldera (BGVN 44:03, figure 56), was the site of over 40 eruptive episodes until 22 December 2018 when a large explosion and flank collapse destroyed most of the 338-m-high edifice and generated a deadly tsunami (BGVN 44:03). The near-sea level crater lake inside the remnant of Anak Krakatau was the site of numerous small steam and tephra explosions from February (BGVN 44:08) through November 2019. A larger explosion in December 2019 produced the beginnings of a new cone above the surface of crater lake. Activity from August 2019 through January 2020 is covered in this report with information provided by the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, referred to as Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG). Aviation reports are provided by the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and photographs are from the PVMBG webcam and visitors to the island.

Explosions were reported on more than ten days each month from August to October 2019. They were recorded based on seismicity, but webcam images also showed black tephra and steam being ejected from the crater lake to heights up to 450 m. Activity decreased significantly after the middle of November, although smaller explosions were witnessed by visitors to the island. After a period of relative quiet, a larger series of explosions at the end of December produced ash plumes that rose up to 3 km above the crater; the crater lake was largely filled with tephra after these explosions. Thermal activity persisted throughout the period of August 2019-January 2020. The wattage of Radiative Power increased from August through mid-October, and then decreased through January 2020 (figure 96).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. Thermal activity persisted at Anak Krakatau from 20 March 2019-January 2020. The wattage of Radiative Power increased from August through mid-October, and then decreased through January 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during August-November 2019. The new profile of Anak Krakatau rose to about 155 m elevation as of August 2019, almost 100 m less than prior to the December 2018 explosions and flank collapse (figure 97). Smaller explosions continued during August 2019 and were reported by PVMBG in 12 different VONAs (Volcano Observatory Notice to Aviation) on days 1, 3, 6, 17, 19, 22, 23, 25, and 28. Most of the explosions lasted for less than two minutes, according to the seismic data. PVMBG reported steam plumes of 25-50 m height above the sea-level crater on 20 and 21 August. They reported a visible ash cloud on 22 August; it rose to an altitude of 457 m and drifted NNE according to the VONA. In their daily update, they noted that the eruption plume of 250-400 m on 22 August was white, gray, and black. The Darwin VAAC reported that the ash plume was discernable on HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery for a short period of time. PVMBG noted ten eruptions on 24 August with white, gray, and black ejecta rising 100-300 m. A webcam installed at month’s end provided evidence of diffuse steam plumes rising 25-150 m above the crater during 28-31 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 97. Only one tree survived on the once tree-covered spit off the NE end of Sertung Island after the December 2018 tsunami from Anak Krakatau covered it with ash and debris. The elevation of Anak Krakatau (center) was about 155 m on 8 August 2019, almost 100 m less than before the explosions and flank collapse. Panjang Island is on the left, and 746-m-high Rakata, the remnant of the 1883 volcanic island, is behind Anak Krakatau on the right. Courtesy of Amber Madden-Nadeau.

VONAs were issued for explosions on 1-3, 11, 13, 17, 18, 21, 24-27 and 29 September 2019. The explosion on 2 September produced a steam plume that rose 350 m, and dense black ash and ejecta which rose 200 m from the crater and drifted N. Gray and white tephra and steam rose 450 m on 13 and 17 September; ejecta was black and gray and rose 200 m on 21 September (figure 98). During 24-27 and 29 September tephra rose at least 200 m each day; some days it was mostly white with gray, other days it was primarily gray and black. All of the ejecta plumes drifted N. On days without explosions, the webcam recorded steam plumes rising 50-150 m above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 98. Explosions of steam and dark ejecta were captured by the webcam on Anak Krakatau on 21 (left) and 26 (right) September 2019. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia and PVMBG.

Explosions were reported daily during 12-14, 16-20, 25-27, and 29 October (figure 99). PVMBG reported eight explosions on 19 October and seven explosions the next day. Most explosions produced gray and black tephra that rose 200 m from the crater and drifted N. On many of the days an ash plume also rose 350 m from the crater and drifted N. The seismic events that accompanied the explosions varied in duration from 45 to 1,232 seconds (about 20 minutes). The Darwin VAAC reported the 12 October eruption as visible briefly in satellite imagery before dissipating near the volcano. The first of four explosions on 26 October also appeared in visible satellite imagery moving NNW for a short time. The webcam recorded diffuse steam plumes rising 25-150 m above the crater on most days during the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 99. A number of explosions at Anak Krakatau were captured by the webcam and visitors near the island during October 2019, shown here on the 12th, 14th, 17th, and 29th. Black and gray ejecta and steam plumes jetted several hundred meters high from the crater lake during the explosions. Webcam images courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia, with 12 October 2019 (top left) via VolcanoYT. Bottom left photo on 17 October courtesy of Christoph Sator.

Five VONAs were issued for explosions during 5-7 November, and one on 13 November 2019. The three explosions on 5 November produced 200-m-high plumes of steam and gray and black ejecta and ash plumes that rose 200, 450, and 550 m respectively; they all drifted N (figure 100). The Darwin VAAC reported ash drifting N in visible imagery for a brief period also. A 350-m-high ash plume accompanied 200-m-high ejecta on 6 November. Tephra rose 150-300 m from the crater during a 43 second explosion on 7 November. The explosion reported by PVMBG on 13 November produced black tephra and white steam 200 m high that drifted N. For the remainder of the month, when not obscured by fog, steam plumes rose daily 25-150 m from the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 100. PVMBG’s KAWAH webcam captured an explosion with steam and dark ejecta from the crater lake at Anak Krakatau on 5 November 2019. Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA Indonesia.

A joint expedition with PVMBG and the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) installed geophysical equipment on Anak Krakatau and Rakata during 12 and 13 November 2019 (figure 101). Visitors to the island during 19-23 and 22-24 November recorded the short-lived landscape and continuing small explosions of steam and black tephra from the crater lake (figures 102 and 103).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 101. A joint expedition to Anak Krakatau with PVMBG and the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) installed geophysical equipment on Anak Krakatau and Rakata (background, left) during 12 and 13 November 2019. Images of the crater lake from the same spot (left) in December and January show the changes at the island (figure 108). Monitoring equipment installed near the shore sits over the many layers of ash and tephra that make up the island (right). Courtesy of Anna Perttu.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 102.The crater lake at Anak Krakatau during a 19-23 November 2019 visit was the site of continued explosions with jets of steam and tephra that rose as high as 30 m. Courtesy of Andrey Nikiforov and Volcano Discovery, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 103. The landscape of Anak Krakatau recorded the rapidly evolving sequence of volcanic events during November 2019. Fresh ash covered recent lava near the shoreline on 22 November 2019 (top left). Large blocks of gray tephra (composed of other tephra fragments) were surrounded by reddish brown smaller fragments in the area between the crater and the ocean on 23 November 2019 (top right). Explosions of steam and black tephra rose tens of meters from the crater lake on 23 November 2019 (bottom). Courtesy of and copyright by Pascal Blondé.

Activity during December 2019-January 2020. Very little activity was recorded for most of December 2019. The webcam captured daily images of diffuse steam plumes rising 25-50 m above the crater which occasionally rose to 150 m. A new explosion on 28 December produced black and gray ejecta 200 m high that drifted N; the explosion was similar to those reported during August-November. A new series of explosions from 30 December 2019 to 1 January 2020 produced ash plumes which rose significantly higher than the previous explosions, reaching 2.4-3.0 km altitude and drifting S, E, and SE according to PVMBG (figure 104). They were initially visible in satellite imagery and reported drifting SW by the Darwin VAAC. By 31 December meteorological clouds prevented observation of the ash plume but a hotspot remained visible for part of that day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 104.The KAWAH webcam at Anak Krakatau captured this image of incandescent ejecta exploding from the crater lake on 30 December 2019 near the start of a new sequence of large explosions. Courtesy of PVMBG and Alex Bogár.

The explosions on 30 and 31 December 2019 were captured in satellite imagery (figure 105) and appeared to indicate that the crater lake was largely destroyed and filled with tephra from a new growing cone, according to Simon Carn. This was confirmed in both satellite imagery and ground-based photography in early January (figures 106 and 107).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 105. Satellite imagery of the explosions at Anak Krakatau on 30 and 31 December 2019 showed dense steam rising from the crater (left) and a thermal anomaly visible through moderate cloud cover (right). Left image courtesy of Simon Carn, and copyright by Planet Labs, Inc. Right image uses Atmospheric Penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, and 8a) to show the thermal anomaly at the base of the steam plume, courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 106. Sentinel-2 images of Anak Krakatau before (left, 21 December 2019) and after (right, 13 January 2020) explosions on 30 and 31 December 2019 show the filling in of the crater lake with new volcanic material. Natural color rendering based on bands 4,3, and 2. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 107. The crater lake at Anak Krakatau changed significantly between the first week of December 2019 (left) and 8 January 2020 (right) after explosions on 30 and 31 December 2019. Compare with figure 101, taken from the same location in mid-November 2019. Left image courtesy of Piotr Smieszek. Right image courtesy of Peter Rendezvous.

Steam plumes rose 50-200 m above the crater during the first week of January 2020. An explosion on 7 January produced dense gray ash that rose 200 m from the crater and drifted E. Steam plume heights varied during the second week, with some plumes reaching 300 m above the crater. Multiple explosions on 15 January produced dense, gray and black ejecta that rose 150 m. Fog obscured the crater for most of the second half of the month; for a brief period, diffuse steam plumes were observed 25-1,000 m above the crater.

General Reference: Perttu A, Caudron C, Assink J D, Metz D, Tailpied D, Perttu B, Hibert C, Nurfiani D, Pilger C, Muzli M, Fee D, Andersen O L, Taisne B, 2020, Reconstruction of the 2018 tsunamigenic flank collapse and eruptive activity at Anak Krakatau based on eyewitness reports, seismo-acoustic and satellite observations, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 541:116268. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116268.

Geologic Background. The renowned volcano Krakatau (frequently misstated as Krakatoa) lies in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. Collapse of the ancestral Krakatau edifice, perhaps in 416 or 535 CE, formed a 7-km-wide caldera. Remnants of this ancestral volcano are preserved in Verlaten and Lang Islands; subsequently Rakata, Danan, and Perbuwatan volcanoes were formed, coalescing to create the pre-1883 Krakatau Island. Caldera collapse during the catastrophic 1883 eruption destroyed Danan and Perbuwatan, and left only a remnant of Rakata. This eruption, the 2nd largest in Indonesia during historical time, caused more than 36,000 fatalities, most as a result of devastating tsunamis that swept the adjacent coastlines of Sumatra and Java. Pyroclastic surges traveled 40 km across the Sunda Strait and reached the Sumatra coast. After a quiescence of less than a half century, the post-collapse cone of Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau) was constructed within the 1883 caldera at a point between the former cones of Danan and Perbuwatan. Anak Krakatau has been the site of frequent eruptions since 1927.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.esdm.go.id/); 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/); Amber Madden-Nadeau, Oxford University (URL: https://www.earth.ox.ac.uk/people/amber-madden-nadeau/, https://twitter.com/AMaddenNadeau/status/1159458288406151169); Anna Perttu, Earth Observatory of Singapore (URL: https://earthobservatory.sg/people/anna-perttu); Simon Carn, Michigan Tech University (URL: https://www.mtu.edu/geo/department/faculty/carn/; https://twitter.com/simoncarn/status/1211793124089044994); VolcanoYT, Indonesia (URL: https://volcanoyt.com/, https://twitter.com/VolcanoYTz/status/1182882409445904386/photo/1; Christoph Sator (URL: https://twitter.com/ChristophSator/status/1184713192670281728/photo/1); Tom Pfeiffer, Volcano Discovery (URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/); Pascal Blondé, France (URL: https://pascal-blonde.info/portefolio-krakatau/, https://twitter.com/rajo_ameh/status/1199219837265960960); Alex Bogár, Budapest (URL: https://twitter.com/AlexEtna/status/1211396913699991557); Piotr (Piter) Smieszek, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia (URL: http://www.lombok.pl/, https://twitter.com/piotr_smieszek/status/1204545970962231296); Peter Rendezvous (URL: https://www.facebook.com/peter.rendezvous ); Wulkany swiata, Poland (URL: http://wulkanyswiata.blogspot.com/, https://twitter.com/Wulkany1/status/1214841708862693376).

Mayotte (France) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report



12.83°S, 45.17°E; summit elev. 660 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Seismicity and deformation, with submarine E-flank volcanism starting in July 2018

Mayotte is a volcanic island in the Comoros archipelago between the eastern coast of Africa and the northern tip of Madagascar. A chain of basaltic volcanism began 10-20 million years ago and migrating W, making up four principal volcanic islands, according to the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) and Cesca et al. (2020). Before May 2010, only two seismic events had been felt by the nearby community within recent decades. New activity since May 2018 consists of dominantly seismic events and lava effusion. The primary source of information for this report through February 2020 comes from semi-monthly reports from the Réseau de Surveillance Volcanologique et Sismologique de Mayotte (REVOSIMA), a cooperative program between the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), the Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), and the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF-IPGP); Lemoine et al. (2019), the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), and the Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER).

Seismicity was the dominant type of activity recorded in association with a new submarine eruption. On 10 May 2018, the first seismic event occurred at 0814, detected by the YTMZ accelerometer from the French RAP Network, according to BRGM and Lemoine et al. (2019). Seismicity continued to increase during 13-15 May 2018, with the strongest recorded event for the Comoros area occurring on 15 May at 1848 and two more events on 20-21 May (figure 1). At the time, no surface effusion were directly observed; however, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) instruments were deployed to monitor any ground motion (Lemoine et al. 2019).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. A graph showing the number of daily seismic events greater than M 3.5 occurring offshore of Mayotte from 10 May 2018 through 15 February 2020. Seismicity significantly decreased in July 2018, but continued intermittently through February 2020, with relatively higher seismicity recorded in late August and mid-September 2018. Courtesy of IPGP and REVOSIMA.

Seismicity decreased dramatically after June 2018, with two spikes in August and September (see figure 1). Much of this seismicity occurred offshore 50 km E of Mayotte Island (figure 2). The École Normale Supérieure, the Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF-IPGP), and the REVOSIMA August 2019 bulletin reported that measurements from the GNSS stations and Teria GPS network data indicated eastward surface deformation and subsidence beginning in July 2018. Based on this ground deformation data Lemoine et al. (2019) determined that the eruptive phase began fifty days after the initial seismic events occurred, on 3 July 2018.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Maps of seismic activity offshore near Mayotte during May 2019. Seismic swarms occurred E of Mayotte Island (top) and continued in multiple phases through October 2019. New lava effusions were observed 50 km E of Petite Terre (bottom). Bottom image has been modified with annotations; courtesy of IPGP, BRGM, IFREMER, CNRS, and University of Paris.

Between 2 and 18 May 2019, an oceanographic campaign (MAYOBS 1) discovered a new submarine eruption site 50 km E from the island of Mayotte (figure 2). The director of IPGP, Marc Chaussidon, stated in an interview with Science Magazine that multibeam sonar waves were used to determine the elevation (800 m) and diameter (5 km) of the new submarine cone (figure 3). In addition, this multibeam sonar image showed fluid plumes within the water column rising from the center and flanks of the structure. According to REVOSIMA, these plumes rose to 1 km above the summit of the cone but did not breach the ocean surface. The seafloor image (figure 3) also indicated that as much as 5 km3 of magma erupted onto the seafloor from this new edifice during May 2019, according to Science Magazine.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Seafloor image of the submarine vent offshore of Mayotte created with multibeam sonar from 2 to 18 May 2019. The red line is the outline of the volcanic cone located at approximately 3.5 km depth. The blue-green color rising from the peak of the red outline represents fluid plumes within the water column. Courtesy of IPGP.

On 17 May 2019, a second oceanographic campaign (MAYOBS 2) discovered new lava flows located 5 km S of the new eruptive site. BRGM reported that in June a new lava flow had been identified on the W flank of the cone measuring 150 m thick with an estimated volume of 0.3 km3 (figure 4). According to REVOSIMA, the presence of multiple new lava flows would suggest multiple effusion points. Over a period of 11 months (July 2018-June 2019) the rate of lava effusion was at least 150-200 m3/s; between 18 May to 17 June 2019, 0.2 km3 of lava was produced, and from 17 June to 30 July 2019, 0.3 km3 of lava was produced. The MAYOBS 4 (19 July 2019-4 August 2019) and SHOM (20-21 August 2019) missions revealed a new lava flow formed between 31 July and 20 August to the NW of the eruptive site with a volume of 0.08 km3 and covering 3.25 km2.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Bathymetric map showing the location of the new lava flow on the W flank of the submarine cone offshore to the E of Mayotte Island. The MAYOBS 2 campaign was launched in June 2019 (left) and MAYOBS 4 was launched in late July 2019 (right). Courtesy of BRGM.

During the MAYOBS 4 campaign in late July 2019, scientists dredged the NE flank of the cone for samples and took photographs of the newly erupted lava (figure 5). Two dives found the presence of pillow lavas. When samples were brought up to the surface, they exploded due to the large amount of gas and rapid decompression.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Photographs taken using the submersible interactive camera system (SCAMPI) of newly formed pillow lavas (top) and a vesicular sample (bottom) dredged near the new submarine eruptive site at Mayotte in late July 2019. Courtesy of BRGM.

During April-May 2019 the rate of ground deformation slowed. Deflation was also observed up to 90 km E of Mayotte in late October 2019 and consistently between August 2019 and February 2020. Seismicity continued intermittently through February 2020 offshore E of Mayotte Island, though the number of detected events started to decrease in July 2018 (see figure 1). Though seismicity and deformation continued, the most recent observation of new lava flows occurred during the MAYOBS 4 and SHOM campaigns on 20 August 2019, as reported in REVOSIMA bulletins.

References: Cesca S, Heimann S, Letort J, Razafindrakoto H N T, Dahm T, Cotton F, 2020. Seismic catalogues of the 2018-2019 volcano-seismic crisis offshore Mayotte, Comoro Islands. Nat. Geosci. 13, 87-93. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-019-0505-5.

Lemoine A, Bertil D, Roulle A, Briole P, 2019. The volcano-tectonic crisis of 2018 east of Mayotte, Comoros islands. Preprint submitted to EarthArXiv, 28 February 2019. https://doi.org/10.31223/osf.io/d46xj.

Geologic Background. Mayotte, located in the Mozambique Channel between the northern tip of Madagascar and the eastern coast of Africa, consists two main volcanic islands, Grande Terre and Petite Terre, and roughly twenty islets within a barrier-reef lagoon complex (Zinke et al., 2005; Pelleter et al., 2014). Volcanism began roughly 15-10 million years ago (Pelleter et al., 2014; Nougier et al., 1986), and has included basaltic lava flows, nephelinite, tephrite, phonolitic domes, and pyroclastic deposits (Nehlig et al., 2013). Lavas on the NE were active from about 4.7 to 1.4 million years and on the south from about 7.7 to 2.7 million years. Mafic activity resumed on the north from about 2.9 to 1.2 million years and on the south from about 2 to 1.5 million years. Several pumice layers found in cores on the barrier reef-lagoon complex indicate that volcanism likely occurred less than 7,000 years ago (Zinke et al., 2003). More recent activity that began in May 2018 consisted of seismicity and ground deformation occurring offshore E of Mayotte Island (Lemoine et al., 2019). One year later, in May 2019, a new subaqueous edifice and associated lava flows were observed 50 km E of Petite Terre during an oceanographic campaign.

Information Contacts: Réseau de Surveillance Volcanologique et Sismologique de Mayotte (REVOSIMA), a cooperative program of a) Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), b) Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), c) Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPF-IPGP); (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr/reseau-de-surveillance-volcanologique-sismologique-de-mayotte); Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 14 route nationale 3, 27 ème km, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr); Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), 3 avenue Claude-Guillemin, BP 36009, 45060 Orléans Cedex 2, France (URL: https://www.brgm.fr/); Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), 1625 route de Sainte-Anne, CS 10070, 29280 Plouzané, France (URL: https://wwz.ifremer.fr/); Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), 3 rue Michel-Ange, 75016 Paris, France (URL: http://www.cnrs.fr/); École Normale Supérieure, 45 rue d'Ulm, F-75230 Paris Cedex 05, France (URL: https://www.ens.psl.eu/); Université de Paris, 85 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris, France (URL: https://u-paris.fr/en/498-2/); Roland Pease, Science Magazine (URL: https://science.sciencemag.org/, article at https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/ship-spies-largest-underwater-eruption-ever) published 21 May 2019.

Fernandina (Ecuador) — March 2020 Citation iconCite this Report



0.37°S, 91.55°W; summit elev. 1476 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Fissure eruption produced lava flows during 12-13 January 2020

Fernandina is a volcanic island in the Galapagos islands, around 1,000 km W from the coast of mainland Ecuador. It has produced nearly 30 recorded eruptions since 1800, with the most recent events having occurred along radial or circumferential fissures around the summit crater. The most recent previous eruption, starting on 16 June 2018, lasted two days and produced lava flows from a radial fissure on the northern flank. Monitoring and scientific reports come from the Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN).

A report from IG-EPN on 12 January 2020 stated that there had been an increase in seismicity and deformation occurring during the previous weeks. On the day of the report, 11 seismic events had occurred, with the largest magnitude of 4.7 at a depth of 5 km. Shortly before 1810 that day a circumferential fissure formed below the eastern rim of the La Cumbre crater, at about 1.3-1.4 km elevation, and produced lava flows down the flank (figure 39). A rapid-onset seismic swarm reached maximum intensity at 1650 on 12 January (figure 40); a second increase in seismicity indicating the start of the eruption began around 70 minutes later (1800). A hotspot was observed in NOAA / CIMSS data between 1800 and 1810, and a gas plume rising up to 2 km above the fissure dispersed W to NW. The eruption lasted 9 hours, until about 0300 on 13 January.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 39. Lava flows erupting from a circumferential fissure on the eastern flank of Fernandina on 12 January 2020. Photos courtesy of Parque Nacional Galápagos.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 40. Graph showing the Root-Mean-Square (RMS) amplitude of the seismic signals from the FER-1 station at Fernandina on 12-13 January 2020. The graph shows the increase in seismicity leading to the eruption on the 12th (left star), a decrease in the seismicity, and then another increase during the event (right star). Courtesy of S. Hernandez, IG-EPN (Report on 13 January 2020).

A report issued at 1159 local time on 13 January 2020 described a rapid decrease in seismicity, gas emissions, and thermal anomalies, indicating a rapid decline in eruptive activity similar to previous events in 2017 and 2018. An overflight that day confirmed that the eruption had ended, after lava flows had extended around 500 m from the crater and covered an area of 3.8 km2 (figures 41 and 42). Seismicity continued on the 14th, with small volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes occurring less than 500 m below the surface. Periodic seismicity was recorded through 13-15 January, though there was an increase in seismicity during 17-22 January with deformation also detected (figure 43). No volcanic activity followed, and no additional gas or thermal anomalies were detected.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 41. The lava flow extents at Fernandina of the previous two eruptions (4-7 September 2017 and 16-21 June 2018) and the 12-13 January 2020 eruption as detected by FIRMS thermal anomalies. Thermal data courtesy of NASA; figure prepared by F. Vásconez, IG-EPN (Report on 13 January 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. This fissure vent that formed on the E flank of Fernandina on 12 January 2020 produced several lava flows. A weak gas plume was still rising when this photo was taken the next day, but the eruption had ceased. Courtesy of Parque Nacional Galápagos.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Soil displacement map for Fernandina during 10 and 16 January 2020, with the deformation generated by the 12 January eruption shown. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Report on 23 January 2020).

Geologic Background. Fernandina, the most active of Galápagos volcanoes and the one closest to the Galápagos mantle plume, is a basaltic shield volcano with a deep 5 x 6.5 km summit caldera. The volcano displays the classic "overturned soup bowl" profile of Galápagos shield volcanoes. Its caldera is elongated in a NW-SE direction and formed during several episodes of collapse. Circumferential fissures surround the caldera and were instrumental in growth of the volcano. Reporting has been poor in this uninhabited western end of the archipelago, and even a 1981 eruption was not witnessed at the time. In 1968 the caldera floor dropped 350 m following a major explosive eruption. Subsequent eruptions, mostly from vents located on or near the caldera boundary faults, have produced lava flows inside the caldera as well as those in 1995 that reached the coast from a SW-flank vent. Collapse of a nearly 1 km3 section of the east caldera wall during an eruption in 1988 produced a debris-avalanche deposit that covered much of the caldera floor and absorbed the caldera lake.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos (DPNG), Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador (URL: http://www.galapagos.gob.ec/).

Masaya (Nicaragua) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Lava lake persists with lower temperatures during August 2019-January 2020

Masaya is a basaltic caldera located in Nicaragua and contains the Nindirí, San Pedro, San Juan, and Santiago craters. The currently active Santiago crater hosts a lava lake, which has remained active since December 2015 (BGVN 41:08). The primary source of information for this August 2019-January 2020 report comes from the Instituto Nicareguense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER) and satellite -based imagery and thermal data.

On 16 August, 13 September, and 11 November 2019, INETER took SO2 measurements by making a transect using a mobile DOAS spectrometer that sampled for gases downwind of the volcano. Average values during these months were 2,095 tons/day, 1,416 tons/day, and 1,037 tons/day, respectively. August had the highest SO2 measurements while those during September and November were more typical values.

Satellite imagery showed a constant thermal anomaly in the Santiago crater at the lava lake during August 2019 through January 2020 (figure 82). According to a news report, ash was expelled from Masaya on 15 October 2019, resulting in minor ashfall in Colonia 4 de Mayo (6 km NW). On 21 November thermal measurements were taken at the fumaroles and near the lava lake using a FLIR SC620 thermal camera (figure 83). The temperature measured 287°C, which was 53° cooler than the last time thermal temperatures were taken in May 2019.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed the consistent presence of an active lava lake within the Santiago crater at Masaya during August 2019 through January 2020. Images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Thermal measurements taken at Masaya on 21 November 2019 with a FLIR SC620 thermal camera that recorded a temperature of 287°C. Courtesy of INETER (Boletin Sismos y Volcanes de Nicaragua, Noviembre, 2019).

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed intermittent low-power thermal anomalies compared to the higher-power ones before May 2019 (figure 84). The thermal anomalies were detected during August 2019 through January 2020 after a brief hiatus from early may to mid-June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Thermal anomalies occurred intermittently at Masaya during 21 February 2019 through January 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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/); 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); La Jornada (URL: https://www.lajornadanet.com/, article at https://www.lajornadanet.com/index.php/2019/10/16/volcan-masaya-expulsa-cenizas/#.Xl6f8ahKjct).

Reventador (Ecuador) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report



0.077°S, 77.656°W; summit elev. 3562 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Nearly daily ash emissions and frequent incandescent block avalanches August 2019-January 2020

Reventador is an andesitic stratovolcano located in the Cordillera Real, Ecuador. Historical eruptions date back to the 16th century, consisting of lava flows and explosive events. The current eruptive activity has been ongoing since 2008 with previous activity including daily explosions with ash emissions, and incandescent block avalanches (BGVN 44:08). This report covers volcanism from August 2019 through January 2020 using information primarily from the Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), the Washington Volcano Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various infrared satellite data.

During August 2019 to January 2020, IG-EPN reported almost daily explosive eruptions and ash plumes. September had the highest average of explosive eruptions while January 2020 had the lowest (table 11). Ash plumes rose between a maximum of 1.2 to 2.5 km above the crater during this reporting period with the highest plume height recorded in December. The largest amount of SO2 gases produced was during the month of October with 502 tons/day. Frequently at night during this reporting period, crater incandescence was observed and was occasionally accompanied by incandescent block avalanches traveling as far as 900 m downslope from the summit of the volcano.

Table 11. Monthly summary of eruptive events recorded at Reventador from August 2019 through January 2020. Data courtesy of IG-EPN (August to January 2020 daily reports).

Month Average Number of Explosions Max plume height above the crater Max SO2
Aug 2019 26 1.6 km --
Sep 2019 32 1.7 km 428 tons/day
Oct 2019 29 1.3 km 502 tons/day
Nov 2019 25 1.2 km 432 tons/day
Dec 2019 25 2.5 km 331 tons/day
Jan 2020 12 1.7 km --

During the month of August 2019, between 11 and 45 explosions were recorded every day, frequently accompanied by gas-and-steam and ash emissions (figure 119); plumes rose more than 1 km above the crater on nine days. On 20 August the ash plume rose to a maximum 1.6 km above the crater. Summit incandescence was seen at night beginning on 10 August, continuing frequently throughout the rest of the reporting period. Incandescent block avalanches were reported intermittently beginning that same night through 26 January 2020, ejecting material between 300 to 900 m below the summit and moving on all sides of the volcano.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 119. An ash plume rising from the summit of Reventador on 1 August 2019. Courtesy of Radio La Voz del Santuario.

Throughout most of September 2019 gas-and-steam and ash emissions were observed almost daily, with plumes rising more than 1 km above the crater on 15 days, according to IG-EPN. On 30 September, the ash plume rose to a high of 1.7 km above the crater. Each day, between 18 and 72 explosions were reported, with the latter occurring on 19 September. At night, crater incandescence was commonly observed, sometimes accompanied by incandescent material rolling down every flank.

Elevated seismicity was reported during 8-15 October 2019 and almost daily gas-and-steam and ash emissions were present, ranging up to 1.3 km above the summit. Every day during this month, between 13 and 54 explosions were documented and crater incandescence was commonly observed at night. During November 2019, gas-and-steam and ash emissions rose greater than 1 km above the crater except for 10 days; no emissions were reported on 29 November. Daily explosions ranged up to 42, occasionally accompanied by crater incandescence and incandescent ejecta.

Washington VAAC notices were issued almost daily during December 2019, reporting ash plumes between 4.6 and 6 km altitude throughout the month and drifting in multiple directions. Each day produced 5-52 explosions, many of which were accompanied by incandescent blocks rolling down all sides of the volcano up to 900 m below the summit. IG-EPN reported on 11 December that a gas-and-steam and ash emission column rose to a maximum height of 2.5 km above the crater, drifting SW as was observed by satellite images and reported by the Washington VAAC.

Volcanism in January 2020 was relatively low compared to the other months of this reporting period. Explosions continued on a nearly daily basis early in the month, ranging from 20 to 51. During 5-7 January incandescent material ejected from the summit vent moved as block avalanches downslope and multiple gas-and-steam and ash plumes were produced (figures 120, 121, and 122). After 9 January the number of explosions decreased to 0-16 per day. Ash plumes rose between 4.6 and 5.8 km altitude, according to the Washington VAAC.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 120. Night footage of activity on 5 (top) and 6 (bottom) January 2020 at the summit of Reventador, producing a dense, dark gray ash plume and ejecting incandescent material down multiple sides of the volcano. This activity is not uncommon during this reporting period. Courtesy of Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 121. An explosion at Reventador on 7 January 2020, which produced a dense gray ash plume. Courtesy of Martin Rietze, used with permission.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 122. Night footage of the evolution of an eruption on 7 January 2020 at the summit of Reventador, which produced an ash plume and ejected incandescent material down multiple sides of the volcano. Courtesy of Martin Rietze, used with permission.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed frequent and strong thermal anomalies within 5 km of the summit during 21 February 2019 through January 2020 (figure 123). In comparison, the MODVOLC algorithm reported 24 thermal alerts between August 2019 and January 2020 near the summit. Some thermal anomalies can be seen in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery throughout this reporting period, even with the presence of meteorological clouds (figure 124). These thermal anomalies were accompanied by persistent gas-and-steam and ash plumes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 123. Thermal anomalies at Reventador persisted during 21 February 2019 through January 2020 as recorded by the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power). Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 124. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Reventador from August 2019 to January 2020 showing a thermal hotspot in the central summit crater summit. In the image on 7 January 2020, the thermal anomaly is accompanied by an ash plume. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Reventador is the most frequently active of a chain of Ecuadorian volcanoes in the Cordillera Real, well east of the principal volcanic axis. The forested, dominantly andesitic Volcán El Reventador stratovolcano rises to 3562 m above the jungles of the western Amazon basin. A 4-km-wide caldera widely breached to the east was formed by edifice collapse and is partially filled by a young, unvegetated stratovolcano that rises about 1300 m above the caldera floor to a height comparable to the caldera rim. It has been the source of numerous lava flows as well as explosive eruptions that were visible from Quito in historical time. Frequent lahars in this region of heavy rainfall have constructed a debris plain on the eastern floor of the caldera. The largest historical eruption took place in 2002, producing a 17-km-high eruption column, pyroclastic flows that traveled up to 8 km, and lava flows from summit and flank vents.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac, archive at: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/archive.html); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Radio La Voz del Santuario (URL: https://www.facebook.com/Radio-La-Voz-del-Santuario-126394484061111/, posted at: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2630739100293291&id=126394484061111); Martin Rietze, Taubenstr. 1, D-82223 Eichenau, Germany (URL: https://mrietze.com/, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5LzAA_nyNWEUfpcUFOCpJw/videos).

Pacaya (Guatemala) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Continuous explosions, small cone, and lava flows during August 2019-January 2020

Pacaya is a highly active basaltic volcano located in Guatemala with volcanism consisting of frequent lava flows and Strombolian explosions originating in the Mackenney crater. The previous report summarizes volcanism that included multiple lava flows, Strombolian activity, avalanches, and gas-and-steam emissions (BGVN 44:08), all of which continue through this reporting period of August 2019 to January 2020. The primary source of information comes from reports by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hydrologia (INSIVUMEH) in Guatemala and various satellite data.

Strombolian explosions occurred consistently throughout this reporting period. During the month of August 2019, explosions ejected material up to 30 m above the Mackenney crater. These explosions deposited material that contributed to the formation of a small cone on the NW flank of the Mackenney crater. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes rose up to 600 m above the crater drifting S and W. Multiple incandescent lava flows were observed traveling down the N and NW flanks, measuring up to 400 m long. Small to moderate avalanches were generated at the front of the lava flows, including incandescent blocks that measured up to 1 m in diameter. Occasionally incandescence was observed at night from the Mackenney crater.

In September 2019 seismicity was elevated compared to the previous month, registering a maximum of 8,000 RSAM (Realtime Seismic Amplitude Measurement) units. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes that rose up to 1 km above the crater drifted generally S as far as 3 km from the crater. Strombolian explosions continued, ejecting material up to 100 m above the crater rim. At night and during the early morning, crater incandescence was observed. Incandescent lava flows traveled as much as 600 m down the N and NW flanks toward the Cerro Chino crater (figure 116). On 21 September two lava flows descended the SW flank. Constant avalanches with incandescent blocks measuring 1 m in diameter occurred from the front of many of these lava flows.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 116. Webcam image of Pacaya on 25 September 2019 showing thermal signatures and the point of emission on the NNW flank at night using Landsat 8 (Nocturnal) imagery (left) and a daytime image showing the location of these lava effusions (right) along with gas-and-steam emissions from the active crater. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

Weak explosions continued through October 2019, ejecting material up to 75 m above the crater and building a small cone within the crater. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes rose 400-800 m above the crater, drifting W and NW and extending up to 4 km from the crater during the week of 26 October-1 November. Lava flows measuring up to 250 m long, originating from the Mackenney crater were descending the N and NW flanks (figure 117). Avalanches carrying large blocks 1 m in diameter commonly occurred at the front of these lava flows.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 117. Photo of lava flows traveling down the flanks of Pacaya taken between 28 September 2019 and 4 October. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (28 September 2019 to 4 October Weekly Report).

Continuing Strombolian explosions in November 2019 ejected material 15-75 m above the crater, which then contributed to the formation of the new cone. White and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes rose 100-600 m above the crater drifting in different directions and extending up to 2 km. Multiple lava flows from the Mackenney crater moving down all sides of the volcano continued, measuring 50-700 m long. Avalanches were generated at the front of the lava flows, often moving blocks as large as 1 m in diameter. The number of lava flows decreased during 2-8 November and the following week of 9-15 November no lava flows were observed, according to INSIVUMEH. During the week of 16-22 November, a small collapse occurred in the Mackenney crater and explosive activity increased during 16, 18, and 20 November, reaching RSAM units of 4,500. At night and early morning in late November crater incandescence was visible. On 24 November two lava flows descended the NW flank toward the Cerro Chino crater, measuring 100 m long.

During December 2019, much of the activity remained the same, with Strombolian explosions originating from two emission points in the Mackenney crater ejecting material 75-100 m above the crater; white and occasionally blue gas-and-steam plumes to 100-300 m above the crater drifted up to 1.5 km downwind to the S and SW. Lava flows descended the S and SW flanks reaching 250-600 m long (figure 118). On 29 December seismicity increased, reaching 5,000 RSAM units.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 118. Lava flows moving to the S and SW at Pacaya on 31 December 2019. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (28 December 2019 to 3 January 2020 Weekly Report).

Consistent Strombolian activity continued into January 2020 ejecting material 25-100 m above the crater. These explosions deposited material inside the Mackenney crater, contributing to the formation of a small cone. White and occasionally blue fumaroles consisting of mostly water vapor were observed drifting in different directions. At night, summit incandescence and lava flows were visible descending the N, NW, and S flanks with the flow on the NW flank traveling toward the Cerro Chino crater.

During August 2019 through January 2020, multiple lava flows and bright thermal anomalies (yellow-orange) within the crater were seen in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (figures 119 and 120). In addition, constant strong thermal anomalies were detected by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system during 21 February 2019 through January 2020 within 5 km of the summit (figure 121). A slight decrease in energy was seen from May to June and August to September. Energy increased again between November and December. According to the MODVOLC algorithm, 37 thermal alerts were recorded during August 2019 through January 2020.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 119. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya showing thermal activity (bright yellow-orange) during August 2019 to November. All images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 120. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images of Pacaya showing thermal activity (bright yellow-orange) during December 2019 through January 2020. All images with "Atmospheric penetration" (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 121. The MIROVA thermal activity graph (log radiative power) at Pacaya during 21 February 2019 to January 2020 shows strong, frequent thermal anomalies through January with a slight decrease in energy between May 2019 to June 2019 and August 2019 to September 2019. Courtesy of MIROVA.

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

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

Kikai (Japan) — February 2020 Citation iconCite this Report



30.793°N, 130.305°E; summit elev. 704 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Single explosion with steam and minor ash, 2 November 2019

The 19-km-wide submerged Kikai caldera at the N end of Japan’s Ryukyu Islands was the source of one of the world's largest Holocene eruptions about 6,300 years ago, producing large pyroclastic flows and abundant ashfall. During the last century, however, only intermittent minor ash emissions have characterized activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima island, the larger subaerial fragment of the Kikai caldera; several events have included limited ashfall in communities on nearby islands. The most recent event was a single day of explosions on 4 June 2013 that produced ash plumes and minor ashfall on the flank. A minor episode of increased seismicity and fumarolic activity was reported in late March 2018, but no ash emissions were reported. A new single-day event on 2 November 2019 is described here with information provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

JMA reduced the Alert Level to 1 on 27 April 2018 after a brief increase in seismicity during March 2018 (BGVN 45:05); no significant changes in volcanic activity were observed for the rest of the year. Steam plumes rose from the summit crater to heights around 1,000 m; the highest plume rose 1,800 m. Occasional nighttime incandescence was recorded by high-sensitivity surveillance cameras. SO2 measurements made during site visits in March, April, and May indicated amounts ranging from 300-1,500 tons per day, similar to values from 2017 (400-1,000 tons per day). Infrared imaging devices indicated thermal anomalies from fumarolic activity persisted on the N and W flanks during the three site visits. A field survey of the SW flank on 25 May 2018 confirmed that the crater edge had dropped several meters into the crater since a similar survey in April 2007. Scientists on a 19 December 2018 overflight had observed fumarolic activity.

There were no changes in activity through October 2019. Weak incandescence at night continued to be periodically recorded with the surveillance cameras (figure 9). A brief eruption on 2 November 2019 at 1735 local time produced a gray-white plume that rose slightly over 1,000 m above the Iodake crater rim (figure 10). As a result, JMA raised the Alert Level from 1 to 2. During an overflight the following day, a steam plume rose a few hundred meters above the summit, but no further activity was observed. No clear traces of volcanic ash or other ejecta were found around the summit (figure 11). Infrared imaging also showed no particular changes from previous measurements. Discolored seawater continued to be observed around the base of the island in several locations.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Incandescence at night on 25 October 2019 was observed at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) with the Iwanogami webcam. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 1st year of Reiwa [2019]).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. The Iwanogami webcam captured a brief gray-white ash and steam emission rising above the Iodake crater rim on Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 2 November 2019 at 1738 local time. The plume rose slightly over 1,000 m before dissipating. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 1st year of Reiwa [2019]).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. During an overflight of Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 3 November 2019 no traces of ash were seen from the previous day’s explosion; only steam plumes rose a few hundred meters above the summit, and discolored water was present in a few places around the shoreline. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 1st year of Reiwa [2019]).

For the remainder of November 2019, steam plumes rose up to 1,300 m above the summit, and nighttime incandescence was occasionally observed in the webcam. Seismic activity remained low and there were no additional changes noted through January 2020.

Geologic Background. Kikai is a mostly submerged, 19-km-wide caldera near the northern end of the Ryukyu Islands south of Kyushu. It was the source of one of the world's largest Holocene eruptions about 6,300 years ago when rhyolitic pyroclastic flows traveled across the sea for a total distance of 100 km to southern Kyushu, and ashfall reached the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The eruption devastated southern and central Kyushu, which remained uninhabited for several centuries. Post-caldera eruptions formed Iodake lava dome and Inamuradake scoria cone, as well as submarine lava domes. Historical eruptions have occurred at or near Satsuma-Iojima (also known as Tokara-Iojima), a small 3 x 6 km island forming part of the NW caldera rim. Showa-Iojima lava dome (also known as Iojima-Shinto), a small island 2 km E of Tokara-Iojima, was formed during submarine eruptions in 1934 and 1935. Mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have occurred during the past few decades from Iodake, a rhyolitic lava dome at the eastern end of Tokara-Iojima.

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

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 39, Number 05 (May 2014)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Kilauea (United States)

During 2013, a summit lava lake and lava flows on slopes and into ocean

Nabro (Eritrea)

Thermal alerts ended mid-2012; revised 2011 plume heights; uplift mechanisms debated

Pacaya (Guatemala)

Sudden, bomb-laden explosions of 27-28 May 2010; extra-crater lava flows

Kilauea (United States) — May 2014 Citation iconCite this Report


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During 2013, a summit lava lake and lava flows on slopes and into ocean

This report summarizes observations and monitoring data from Kilauea during January-December 2013; activity during 2010-12 was covered in BGVN 38:05. The primary reporting source was the U.S. Geological Survey-Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) which provided monitoring and communication resources for the Hawaiian volcanoes, namely Kilauea, Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, and Lo`ihi.

2013 Overview. During 2013, Kilauea's summit lava lake persisted , and lava flows erupted from Pu'u 'O'o. Two minor ocean entries were visible during the year until mid-July; both were branches of the Peace Day flow while, later in the year, two lava flows (Kahauale'a 1 and Kahauale'a 2) extended N-NE from Pu'u 'O'o. Both lava flows crossed into the nearby forest, causing fires and significant smoke along their margins. Petrology of the summit tephra and East Rift Zone (ERZ) did not show significant changes during the year. SO2 emissions from both, the summit and the active ERZ were closely monitored by HVO and those observations led to new innovations in quantifying the flux. HVO reported that SO2 and also CO2 fluxes were relatively low but still above safe levels as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flank deformation and seismic monitoring determined that, although variable conditions were detected, very little accumulated change had occurred at Kilauea.

Due to the Federal shutdown during 1-16 October 2013, HVO focused on only the most critical operations. Activities that were not directly related to critical operations were postponed, including research and outreach.

One such outreach opportunity that became curtailed was the first Great ShakeOut for Hawai`i which took place on 17 October 2013 and included almost 16,000 participants across all of the islands. This was a large-scale earthquake drill that followed in the tradition of The Great Southern California ShakeOut, which took place in 2008. HVO partnered with the State and County Civil Defense, Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), University of Hawai`i (UH-Hilo), American Red Cross, and FEMA. HVO staff generated a significant amount of information for the media including several press releases and web content; they also attended preparedness fairs and gave public talks.

Persistent thermal anomalies during 2013. More than 200 alerts per month were released by the MODVOLC program during 2013 for the Big Island of Hawai`i (figure 211). These alerts came from sites around the island that exhibited elevated radiance and were dominated by Pu'u 'O'o and the Kilauea summit. One exceptional thermal anomaly was a site along the Mamalahoa Highway (Highway 190) in the NW sector of the island. News sources reported that, during 25-26 November 2013, a significant brushfire burned 300 acres in South Kohala. The burn site was near the highway mile marker 14 and caused segments of the highway to close while emergency crews contained the fire.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 211. More than 200 thermal alerts were posted each month in 2013 by the MODVOLC program for the island of Hawai`i. This image captures the thermal alerts registered during January-December 2013. Note the concentration of red-to-yellow thermal alert pixels at the summit of Kilauea and at the Pu'u 'O'o vent along the E rift that also reached the sea. The anomalous pixel located N of Hualalai (green box) was attributed to a fire that burned near Highway 190 during 25-26 November 2013. Courtesy of MODVOLC.

Summit lava lake activity. "Now in its sixth year, the current summit eruption harks back to the persistent lava lake in Halema`uma`u during the 1800s and early 1900s, suggesting that it has the potential to last for many years" (Patrick and others, 2013). Based on Hawai`i's written record, one earlier summit lava lake occupied Halema`uma`u during 1823-1924.

During 2013, the summit lava lake within the Overlook crater, a nested crater within Halema`uma`u, fluctuated in height, by tens of meters, resulting in perched lava deposits (bathtub rings) and collapse of the crater walls. The crater englarged slightly as a result.

Also, observers frequently noted nighttime incandescence (figure 212). Local webcameras (infrared and visible-light) captured images of the lava lake from the Halema`uma`u Overlook site as well as from the highest point of the HVO facility.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 212. During 2008-2013, an active lava lake resided within the Overlook crater, a feature within Halema`uma`u crater at Kilauea's summit. A) This shaded relief map indicates where HVO installed a thermal camera (HT cam) to view the entire surface of the lava lake. HVO and the summit tiltmeter (UWE) are 1.9-2.0 km from the lava lake. B) This oblique view is an aerial photo of the SE crater rim of Halema`uma`u. Modified from Patrick and others (2014).

The HT infrared camera occasionally documented crater rim collapse events in 2013. These events were relatively small-sized and tended to occur more frequently when the lava lake level was relatively deep within the Overlook crater (for example, a small collapse occurred when the lava lake was at a depth of ~75 m during 25-26 July 2013). When the lava lake was high, however, the interior walls were subjected to heating and cracking and HVO scientists concluded that collapse events could be triggered during these conditions as well. One collapse event, on 15 November 2013, was likely triggered by slumping due to heavy rain; several Park Rangers observed the event and the collapse was heard by an HVO scientist standing at the Jaggar Overlook (the same location shared with HVO on the crater rim).

A crust of lava had formed an inner rim within the Overlook crater and, on 25 July at 2033, a portion of that rim collapsed into the lava lake (figure 213). The main event was followed by smaller collapses of the deep inner ledge during the following day. Based on webcamera images, explosive events were not triggered by the collapse. HVO reported that, since the formation of the lava lake (March 2008), the largest gas-and-ash emissions from the summit were triggered by gravitational collapses along the crater rim; when rockfalls hit the convecting lava's surface, violent gas release could occur.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 213. These two thermal images were taken before (25 July 2013) and after (30 July 2013) the collapse of the inner rim of Kilauea's Overlook crater. The inner rim had been constructed during high lake levels in October 2012 (~22 m below the Halema`uma`u crater floor). The webcam (HT cam) was located on rim of Halema`uma`u crater and it captured a new image every ~15 minutes; the temperature scale is in degrees Celsius up to a maximum of 500°C and it automatically scaled based on the maximum and minimum temperatures within the frame. At the time of these photos, the surface of the lava lake was ~75 m below the Overlook crater rim. Courtesy of HVO.

According to HVO, the lava lake level within the Overlook crater generally fluctuated 30-60 m below the rim during 2013. A laser rangefinder was used to obtain regular measurements during the year. Lava was closest to the rim and flooded part of the inner ledge of the crater in January 2013 (an event that also occurred in October 2012). Lava at the flooded lake's margin chilled and reinforced the bathtub-like ring that persisted above the active lava surface (note the "inner rim" in figure 213). In daily online reports, HVO noted: "The lake level responds to summit tilt changes with the lake generally receding during deflation and rising during inflation."

Starting in 2009, HVO scientists noted rise/fall events and determined that the pattern began with decreasing tremor from the summit at a time when lava rose within the lake, spattering would decrease or completely stop, and summit tilt would also decrease. "After a period of minutes to hours, the lava will abruptly drain back to its previous level amidst resumed vigorous spattering, seismic tremor amplitude will increase for a short time (a seismic tremor burst) before resuming background levels, and summit tilt will return to its previous level. Gas emissions decrease significantly during the high lava stand (the plume gets wispy), and resume during its draining phase. Taken together, the geophysical characteristics suggest that, during the high lava stand, lava is puffed up with gas trapped under the lava lake crust."

During 2013, explosive events at the summit rarely occurred; intermittent spattering and degassing dominated summit activity. The plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of ash, spatter, and Pele's hair onto nearby areas, particularly downwind of the crater (figure 214). The Overlook crater diameter was 35 m in March 2008 and, by the end of 2013, the dimensions had increased to 160 x 215 m. The size increase followed minor explosions and rockfalls from the interior crater walls.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 214. Pele's hair (fine strands of natural glass) continued to accumulate downwind of Kilauea's active summit crater. A) This photograph from 3 May 2012 was taken looking along the curb of the Halema`uma`u parking lot (closed to the public since the onset of summit activity in 2008), and shows a mat of Pele's hair accumulated on the windward side of the parking curb. Courtesy of Matthew Patrick, USGS. B) On 9 December 2013, a continuous carpet of Pele's hair was observed shining like gold near the Halema`uma`u Overlook trail next to the parking lot. Courtesy of Ben Gaddis, USGS.

Kilauea's Overlook crater lava lake produced a small explosion during 2148-2149 on 23 August 2013 (figure 215). A portion of the overhanging SE crater rim collapsed and struck the surface of the lava lake. The debris had fallen into an area where nearly persistent spattering had previously been observed. The ensuing explosion generated a plume containing ash, lapilli, bombs (up to 34 cm in diameter), and lithics (ash, lapilli, and blocks up to 10 cm in diameter). The plume deposited material across the Overlook area. The level of the lava lake had been measured as ~38 m below the rim of Halema`uma`u crater earlier that day. Normal conditions prevailed after visibility returned within the camera's field of view at ~2149.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 215. Images captured between 2148 and 2149 on 23 August 2013 by the HT camera (see figure 212 for location) during a small explosion from Kilauea's lava lake. The thermal images A-D highlight the incandescence that persisted from the lake's surface as well as the hot spatter and debris that exploded after a portion of the inner crater rim fell into the lava lake. Courtesy of HVO.

Pu'u 'O'o and East Rift Zone lava flows. The Pu'u 'O'o eruption consisted of three lava flows during 2013: the Peace Day, Kahauale'a, and Kahauale'a 2 flows (figure 216). The Kahauale'a flows were unique in that they traveled N of the rift zone, unlike the numerous other lava flows that have spread generally toward the ocean (including the Peace Day flow) (figure 217). This activity was considered the continuation of Episode 61, which began on 20 August 2011 and continued through the end of this reporting period (December 2013).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 216. The "spillway"—Pu`u `O`o's eastern flank—has been buried by flows fed mostly from a spatter cone on the NE side of the crater floor. Most of the dark-colored lava in the foreground is new lava that has resurfaced the spillway during the past year. The fume to the left is the trace of the Peace Day tube which carried lava to the coast and had been covered by lava flows from the crater . The tube carrying lava to the NE is inconspicuous, but extends toward the lower right side of the photo. Photo taken on 25 February 2013. Courtesy of HVO.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 217. Geologic map of Kilauea's East Rift Zone and lava flows from the active vent, Pu`u `O`o. The distribution of lava flows emplaced during 2013 is shaded red (bright red, pink, and red-orange). The yellow lines extending from Pu`u `O`o represent the general path of lava tubes that directed the flows Peace Day, Kahauale'a 1, and Kahauale'a 2. Changes to the surface area of the Kahauale'a 2 and Peace Day flows are shaded bright red, corresponding to activity during 19 September-26 December and 19 September-2 November 2013 respectively. Note that Kahauale'a 1 was active during 19 January-17 April 2013. Courtesy of HVO.

The morphology of Pu'u 'O'o crater was relatively stable through 2013. The crater remained very shallow and at or near the level of the original E spillway rim (figure 216). There were four spatter cones, all consistently active and often exhibiting incandescent openings at their tops (figure 218). These cones also emitted gas-jetting sounds and occasional, effusive spattering. The main center of activity through the year was the NE spatter cone. This cone often hosted a small lava pond and served as the vent for the Kahauale'a and Kahauale'a 2 flows.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 218. A small lava lake, several meters in diameter, had persisted for nearly a year on the NE side of the Pu`u `O`o crater. The lake was perched several meters above the surrounding crater floor (seen behind the topographic high, shrouded in steam). The feature was near the top of a mound of lava composed of spatter cones and lava lake overflows. Flows from the lake and other nearby spatter cones had inundated the E rim of Pu`u `O`o's crater, which would normally be visible in the background just behind the area seen here. Photo taken on 31 January 2013. Courtesy of HVO.

In late 2012, Pu'u 'O'o crater was slowly infilling, and by the beginning of 2013, lava from the NE spatter cone reached the E spillway rim. A dramatic inflation event in mid-January triggered numerous overflows from the NE spatter cone, and the SE cone spread more lava across the crater floor but also sent flows over the E spillway. On 19 January, an overflow from the NE spatter cone sent lava down the E spillway in what would become the Kahauale'a flow. Over the next month, overflows from the cone covered much of the E spillway. Inflation in late April correlated with abundant venting and more overflows from four cones on the crater floor, with some spilling out toward the E, adding to the recent flows mantling the upper E flank of Pu'u 'O'o (figure 219). After the Kahauale'a flow eventually stalled in April, overflows in early May from the NE spatter cone fed a new flow, following the same course; this became the Kahauale'a 2 flow. Small overflows occurred sporadically from the cones through the remainder of the year, with larger events in mid-August and mid-November.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 219. This thermal image of Pu`u `O`o was captured on 27 November 2013. The SE and NE spatter cones had produced small flows that extended out of the crater, shown clearly here by their warm temperatures. The vent for the Kahauale`a 2 flow is at the NE spatter cone, and the lava tube supplying the Kahauale`a 2 flow is obvious as the line of elevated temperatures extending to the lower right corner of the image. The distance between the black scarps is ~ 300 m. Courtesy of HVO.

Coastal plain lava flows and ocean entries. The Peace Day flow (episode 61b) began on 21 September 2011, and it was active for much of 2013 before ceasing in November 2013. This lava flow reached the sea and generated scattered, branching flows (breakouts) on the coastal plain, as well as several isolated breakouts above the pali (fault scarp).

The ocean entry consisted of two main entry points during 2013, with an E entry at Kupapa`u (just E of the Park boundary) and a smaller, weaker entry immediately to its W (within the Park). These entry points were not vigorous; there were little-to-no-observed littoral explosions; a delta formed that extended several meters out from the sea cliff (figure 220 A).The view from the E margin of the Peace Day flow field on the sea cliff was relatively good, and the ocean entry provided a destination for guide services (not all sanctioned) operating out of Kalapana (numerous, possibly over 100 tourists made the hour-long walk out to the site each evening). As activity on the coastal plain declined in the summer, the W entry shut down in mid-July; the E entry ceased on 21 August.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 220. Thermal images have helped HVO geologists map Kilauea's lava tube system. (A) This thermal image from 27 June 2013 shows Kilauea's E ocean entry (spanning ~ 1 km along the shore) at Kupapa`u Point. Just inland from the entry point a patch of slightly warmer temperatures indicates an area of recent small breakouts. Inland from this warm patch you can see a narrow line of elevated temperatures that traces the path of the lava tube beneath the surface that is supplying lava to this ocean entry. Two plumes of higher temperature water (~50°C in areas close to the ocean entries) spread out from the entry point. Courtesy of HVO. (B) This image shows the Peace Day lava tube coming down the pali in Royal Gardens subdivision on 24 May 2013. The lava tube parallels Ali`i avenue (see figure 217 for the location of Royal Gardens), shown by the straight line of warm temperatures that represent asphalt heated in the sun. This tube feeds lava to the ocean entry and breakouts on the coastal plain. There is no active lava on the surface in this image - the warm surface temperatures are due to heating by the underlying lava tube. Courtesy of HVO.

Most of the Peace Day flow activity during 2013 was constrained to the coastal plain. From January through August, the coastal plain featured episodic of breakouts near the base of the pali in Royal Gardens. Those branches from the main flow slowly migrated toward the ocean before halting on the coastal plain (figure 220 B). Eventually, another breakout occurred at the base of the pali and sent out another flow that presumably drained supply from the previous flow. The new flow reached the location of the stagnating previous flow, and the flows became an indistinguishable mix of small, scattered breakouts in the middle of the coastal plain (figure 221). Minor, scattered breakouts were common on the coastal plain during January-August. Activity levels declined by August, the ocean entry diminished, and the last coastal plain flows ended around 8 September. With no ocean entry or surface flows, the coastal plain (and Kalapana-based lava tourism) became quiet again.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 221. Lava flows from Pu'u 'O'o consisted of only a few scattered breakouts near the shoreline on 18 January 2013, with most of the activity focused on the coastal plain closer to the base of the pali. This pahoehoe lobe (~1 m wide) was active near the E margin of the Peace Day flow field just a few hundred meters from the coastline. Courtesy of HVO.

Lava flow activity above the pali. From mid-January to the end of May 2013, a large amount of lava escaped the Peace Day tube to create a divergent flow above Royal Gardens. It did not advance very far until April, when it crept slowly downslope into the upper reaches of Royal Gardens. This breakout flow ceased on 30 May. As the coastal plain breakouts progressively decreased during September, two small flows appeared above the pali, presumably resulting from the abandonment of the lower Peace Day lava tube. The smaller of the two breakouts was at the top of Royal Gardens, about 6 km from Pu'u 'O'o, and appeared to start between 7 and 14 September but was inactive by mid-October (timing was determined in large part by satellite images as opposed to direct observation). This small breakout flow was visible from the Kalapana lava-viewing area.

The larger of the two breakouts began around 5 September and was about 3 km SE of Pu'u 'O'o, advancing a little over a kilometer before stalling. This breakout was active until 7 November, when it and the rest of the Peace Day flow stalled. This wasn't the end, however, and the Peace Day flow gasped a final breath when a very small, brief breakout occurred on the upper Peace Day lava tube, near Pu'u Halulu, on 15 November. It was probably active for only minutes or hours and marked the end of the Peace Day flow.

The Kahauale'a flow (episode 61c) began as an overflow from the NE spatter cone on 19 January 2013, occurring simultaneously as Kilauea inflated. It advanced down the NE flank of Pu'u 'O'o, N of the Peace Day tube, until it hit flat topography N of the cone where it developed a lava tube and covered early Pu'u 'O'o 'a'a flows. The flow consisted of scattered pahoehoe lobes, and these migrated slowly (~50 m/day) E toward Kahauale'a cone, reaching it in mid-February (figure 222). From there, it followed the N margin of an earlier flow emplaced during the episode 58 flow. The path of this new flow abutted the steep northern slope of the 2007-2008 perched lava channel. This confinement led to a narrowing of the advancing flow front, resulting in increased advance rates (>100 m/day) in early March. As the front passed the perched channel, it became less confined, and advance rates dropped to under 50 m/day. By the first week of April, the flow had reached 4.9 km from the vent on Pu'u 'O'o but ceased on 17 April during a deflation-inflation (DI) event (see figure 199 in Bulletin 38:02 where DI events are illustrated). Due to infrequent overflights by HVO scientists during 2013 (resulting from budget cuts), staff relied heavily on satellite images--particularly EO-1 Advanced Land Imager images--to track the advance of the flow.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 222. Kahauale`a Cone, a local topographic high several hundred meters long, has long been a small oasis of vegetation in the midst of Pu`u `O`o lava. This photo from 19 March 2013 shows new lava from the active Kahauale`a flow surrounding the cone, which has also partly burned. Vent structures (such as episode 58, active from 2007 to 2011), are in the background just behind Kahauale`a. Pu`u `O`o is out of sight to the right. Courtesy of HVO.

HVO noted that the Kahauale'a flow was unusual in that the most recent flows from Pu'u 'O'o traveled S toward the ocean, providing minimal threat to residential areas. The Kahauale'a flow, however, was directed N of the rift zone, along a NE trend. This put the flow on a downslope trajectory that could have threatened residential areas of including Ainaloa and Paradise Park. HVO and Hawai'i County Civil Defense increased their communications through that time period but just a few weeks later, in mid-April, an abrupt change in magma supply occurred at Pu'u 'O'o and the flow ceased.

Inflation at Pu'u 'O'o produced another overflow from the NE spatter cone, which started on 6 May. This became the Kahauale'a 2 flow (episode 61d) and was directed slightly more to the N by the original Kahauale'a flow, reaching the forest boundary ~2 km NW of Pu'u 'O'o in early June. These flows invaded the forest a short distance and created steady forest fires. During July, the flow front took a more northeasterly course, following the N margin of the original Kahauale'a flow (figure 223). Its advance slowed during late July to mid-August, but during September the advance increased when the flow entered the previously mentioned narrow channel along the episode 58 perched lava channel.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 223. (top) A photo taken looking W from a helicopter on 19 September 2013 of the burning forest due to Kilauea's Kahauale`a 2 flow (approximately 7 km long). This lava flow extended from Kilauea's Pu'u 'O'o NE vent. Active breakouts on the Kahauale`a 2 were scattered over a broad area. Here, a breakout near the edge of the forest engulfed trees and burned dead foliage. Courtesy of HVO. (bottom) The flow front of the Kahauale`a 2 flow cut a narrow swath through forest NE of Pu`u `O`o. The narrow lobe at the front was inactive at the time of this photo on 27 November 2013, with the main area of surface flows about 2 km behind the end of this lobe. Some of these surface flows slowly expanded N into the forest, igniting fires. Pu`u `O`o is in the upper left, ~7 km SW. Courtesy of HVO.

By mid-October, Kahauale'a 2's narrow flow front had reached the distant forest boundary and surpassed the length of the original Kahauale'a flow. A narrow finger of lava forming the flow front advanced into the forest in mid-November, reaching just over 7 km distance from Pu'u 'O'o, before stalling soon after 20 November. Behind the flow front, branching flows began to migrate along a more northerly direction into the forest, triggering more fires. This area of breakouts soon turned NE, paralleling the narrow finger that had stalled in late November. By 26 December, the active flow front was 6.3 km NE of the vent and persisted into the New Year.

Petrology of the summit (Halema`uma`u) and rift (Pu`u `O`o) lavas. From 2013 to 2014, the juvenile component of Kilauea's summit tephra remained essentially as it had during 2008-2013. The overall temporal variation of summit lava mimicked the MgO systematics of ERZ lava for the 2008-2014 interval, with summit glass compositions overlapping those of contemporaneous bulk ERZ lava but erupting 20° to 25°C hotter than at Pu'u 'O'o. There were no changes in trace-element signatures, which matched those of the East Rift Zone (ERZ) lava. Halema'uma'u vent tephra remained sparsely olivine and spinel phyric with ~2 volume percent of 100-300 μm, subhedral to euhedral olivine phenocrysts (typically with melt inclusions). Olivine in summit glasses was consistently complemented by >0.05 volume percent of chromian-spinel microphenocrysts.

2013 Pu'u 'O'o lava also did not show any significant petrologic changes. It contained a five-phase assemblage: olivine(-spinel)-augite-plagioclase-liquid. The assemblage was interpreted as the result of simultaneous growth and dissolution of phenocrysts, reflecting the modeled values for cooling, fractionation, and mixing in the shallow edifice prior to eruption. This multi-phyric condition (see figure 224 for photomicrograph examples from previous years), which had persisted in the steady-state ERZ lava for most of the last ~15 years, attested to a stable shallow magmatic condition perpetuated by near-continuous recharge and eruption.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 224. Two photomicrographs of Pu'u 'O'o thin sections sampled by HVO scientists from vent (a) and lava tube activity (b) during 1996-1998 (100 μm = 0.1 mm). Both show glass containing olivine phenocrysts with melt inclusions and opaque microphenocrysts of spinel. Image B shows an olivine phenocryst and spinel microphenocrysts in glass with round vesicles (one is located behind "b"). Modified from Roeder and others (2003).

SO2 emission rates. During 2013, HVO reported notable advances in measuring the dense, opaque summit SO2 plume. It was significant to note that the summit SO2 emission rates measured since 2008 represented a minimum constraint on emissions, whereas by the end of 2013 it was possible to determine a more accurate estimate of the amount of gas emitted from the Overlook crater. Because traditional gas measuring techniques are subject to multiple scattering effects from incoming radiation that can contribute to significant errors in the calculated SO2 emission rates, HVO scientists were pursued various approaches to achieve a more accurate emission rate.

HVO scientists addressed the issue of underestimation due to scattered light in two ways: (1) minimize and/or model the effects of scattering on the retrieved results and (2) measure farther away from the emission source where the plume is more dispersed and not as optically thick.

Using HVO's old metric for evaluating SO2 summit emissions, the total SO2 released in 2013 was first calculated as 266,000 metric tons. They had long recognized these value as among those that had persistently understated the true mass of SO2. To account for the summit emission rate underestimation, they used an initial preliminary correction. It was based on early Simulated Radiative Transfer- Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (SRT-DOAS) values. This refinement increased the summit's traditional estimate 3-fold, yielding a summit total SO2 amount of ~800,000 metric tons for the year 2013.

HVO further reported a preliminary calculation of Kilauea's 2013 summit emissions using their available Flyspec array data yielded ~1.0 x 106 metric tons for 2013. This was judged more accurate value for the total summit SO2 release.

East rift zone (ERZ) emissions for 2013 continued at the low level recorded since mid-2012. Early in the year, SO2 emissions increased coincident with the occurrence of the Kahauale'a lava flow, but emissions stabilized several months later and continued at a low level for the balance of the year. Rift emissions were consistently less than those at the summit for 2013 totaled ~113,000 metric tons (using the refined methods mentioned above). This was ~20% less than reported in 2012, and the lowest amount recorded since the ERZ eruption began in 1983. The low SO2 emissions from the ERZ were at least partially due to degassing at the summit.

Summit CO2 emission rates. During 2013, CO2 emission rates remained at the relatively low level measured since approximately 2009 (figure 225). The continued absence of a strong CO2 signature in 2013 confirmed that the current summit activity reflects shallow reservoir processes rather than deeper ones. All CO2 measurements in 2013 were made with the Licor LI-6252 gas analyzer.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 225. Daily average CO2 emissions from the summit of Kilauea, as measured under trade-wind conditions, during 2003-2013. The vertical bars represent standard deviations of all traverses on a single day. The cyan symbols show CO2, calculated using filtered data to more confidently bracket CO2 emission rates. The black squares are raw CO2 area-count averages; these values provide a measure of CO2 independently of the C/S ratio and SO2 emission rates by accounting for the area traversed through the plume and integrating that area by gas concentration magnitudes (this method also takes into account the plume direction and speed). CO2 values were calculated without any correction to underestimated SO2 emission rates. Courtesy of HVO.

Quantifying summit and rift plume characteristics. In addition to emission-rate studies, HVO continued to monitor the summit and rift plumes using a variety of techniques, including multi-species sensor-based time-series measurements and open-path FTIR. In 2013, FTIR measurements of the summit plume reconfirmed the shallow nature of the degassing source, with plume chemistry characterized by low CO2, high SO2, high H2O, and significant HCl and HF (table 10). Measurements of the summit and rift plumes yielded similar chemistry, suggesting a common source for these gases. Also reconfirmed in 2013 were the previously observed short-term changes in gas chemistry correlating with behavior in Overlook crater.

Table 10. The composition of Kilauea's summit plume for 2013 reported in moles and mole%. Courtesy of HVO.

Gas species moles mole%
H2O 1,117.98 88.23
SO2 81.46 6.43
CO2 64.69 5.11
HCl 1 0.08
HF 1.17 0.09
CO 0.84 0.07
total moles 1,267.14 100

Gas hazards. In 2013, the maximum ambient concentration of SO2 measured near the summit along Crater Rim Drive during traverses made with a car was 150 ppm, a value well above the IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health) threshold. Concentrations measured inside the vehicle reached a maximum of 12 ppm. The inside-car levels were measured with all air-handling turned off, the operating conditions that minimize SO2 penetration into the vehicle. Fumarole sampling at the two locations on the rim of Halema'uma'u were subsequently paused during 2013 while shifting to alternative, less-hazardous measurement techniques.

HVO continued to operate the low-resolution SO2 sensor and rain collector network on Kapapala Ranch in 2013 (within 23 km SW of the summit). In general, maximum SO2 concentrations on the Ranch in 2013 were lower than in 2012. During the early years of the activity at the Overlook vent, the Ranch's livestock exhibited runny eyes, respiratory issues, weight loss, and tooth mottling and degradation (possibly indicating fluorosis). Additionally, fences and other metal infrastructure on the ranch had been deteriorating more rapidly than before the summit eruption began. New data showed SO2 one-minute values for 2013 (a single, one-second measurement per minute) up to 4 ppm. Hazard monitoring and communication with the ranch operators, veterinarians, and public health officials remained ongoing.

Ambient SO2 concentrations measured downwind of Halema'uma'u continued to reach very high levels (~150 ppm) along Crater Rim Drive near the Halema'uma'u parking lot, warranting continued caution along Crater Rim Drive in 2013. HVO scientists maintained communications with community groups and county, state, and federal agencies in order to relay the changing gas-hazard conditions associated with Kilauea's ongoing eruptions.

In 2013, the National Park Service's (NPS) ambient air quality stations located at HVO and behind the Kilauea Visitor Center continued to record periods of hazardous air quality resulting from the ongoing eruptions. The National Park continued to close the highly impacted areas of the park during poor air-quality episodes. Closing of park locations, including Kilauea Visitor Center and Jaggar Museum, were based on the following criteria: a Visitor Center is closed when SO2 concentrations exceed 1 ppm for 6 consecutive 15-minute periods (1.5 hrs), 3 ppm for 3 consecutive 15-minute averages (45 minutes), or 5 ppm for one 15-minute average. NPS high-resolution SO2 analyzers located at the visitor centers operated in the extended 0-10 ppm range.

Flank deformation. The variable-rate inflation of Kilauea that has been ongoing since 2010 continued through 2013. There were periods of slight deflation in March-May, late May, July-August, and September and November. The saw-tooth pattern created by the alternating inflation and deflation is most obvious in the distance change across the Halema'uma'u crater, but can also be seen in the tilt record at summit tiltmeters, such as at station UWE and subtly in the vertical changes at summit GPS sites (figure 226).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 226. (A) Radial tilt measured by borehole instruments at the summit (UWE) and at Pu'u 'O'o (POC) in 2013. Positive change indicating tilt away from the most common magmatic sources, usually indicating inflation, and negative change indicating tilt towards those sources, usually indicating deflation. (B) Changes in distance across Halema'uma'u (UWEV-CRIM) and elevation of GPS stations (HOVL V and OUTL V) from July 2012 through July 2013. Courtesy of HVO.

During 2013, there was a total of almost 10 cm of extension on the approximately 3.5-km baseline between UWEV and CRIM (figure 226 B) and about 10 microradians of inflationary tilt at UWE (figure 226 A). There was very little accumulated vertical change at the summit GPS sites over the year, however. This was also reflected in the lack of appreciable line-of-sight displacement in the interferograms from INSAR spanning 2013. There were 65 deflation-inflation (DI) events in 2013, similar to the rate of occurrence observed since the opening of the summit vent in 2008. Most of these were only weakly detected by the POC tiltmeter at Pu'u 'O'o.

At Pu'u 'O'o, the GPS site on the N rim (PUOC), recorded a fairly steady, slow rate of N-NW motion in 2013, with a slight acceleration in late April-early May. The direction of motion is usually indicative of inflation, but there was no appreciable uplift at the site. There was a net tilt of about 20 microradians to the NW at POC on the N flank, also usually indicative of inflation.

The pattern and velocity of GPS sites on the S flank of Kilauea in 2013 were similar to the patterns and rates that have been observed in the recent past during times free of slow-slip events and ERZ intrusions.

Deformation monitoring equipment. Two continuous GPS sites (LEIA and SPIL) were lost to lava flows from Pu'u 'O'o in early 2013. After a data outage at the Malama Ki (MKI) tilt site on the lower ERZ in April, HVO discovered that thieves had dismantled the gate to the security enclosure and stolen everything except the actual tiltmeter. This had been part of a string of thefts at this site, forcing HVO to eventually abandon it. This was an unfortunate loss to the monitoring network, especially because the only other tiltmeter station on the lower ERZ, near Heiheiahulu (HEI) had also been stolen late during the previous year. In July, HVO installed a new tiltmeter in a less accessible location a few kilometers NW of Heiheiahulu.

Seismicity. In 2013, HVO's seismic network consisted of 57 real-time continuous stations (25 broadband, 21 strong-motion, 7 three-component short-period, and 25 vertical-component short-period instruments) (figure 227). The network coverage was most dense on and around Kilauea. In 2013, HVO upgraded of the seismic network which involved installing the digital stations NAHU (to replace the analog station ESR) and TOUO (to replace analog station KII). They also established three arrays of infrasound sensors in order to better track acoustical waves in the air (infrasound) associated with volcanic processes.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 227. (top) Authoritative region of HVO (black line). Red triangles represent permanent, continuous seismic stations and Netquakes instruments, a new type of digital seismograph that transmits data to USGS via the internet after an earthquake. Stations from the National Strong-Motion Program (NSMP) are excluded here because their high triggering threshold means that they produce data for only a handful of earthquakes a year. (bottom) Map showing both HVO stations (red triangles) and Netquakes (blue triangles). Two boxes indicate regions of special interest for seismic monitoring. Netquakes instruments enable the USGS to achieve a "denser and more uniform spacing of seismographs in select urban areas. … The instruments are designed to be installed in private homes, businesses, public buildings and schools" (USGS, 2013a). Courtesy of HVO.

Seismic activity at Kilauea was generally low in 2013 compared to that of other time periods since the 2008 start of the summit eruption (figure 228). Tremor was a ubiquitous feature of the seismicity near the summit, with discrete very-long-period (VLP) and long-period (LP) events occurring sporadically. Tremor amplitudes appeared to modulate in conjunction with the presence or absence of spattering in the lava lake within Halema'uma'u. In general, increased seismicity in the S caldera and upper ERZ were coincident with rapid increased lava lake level and tilt. None of these swarms were remarkable in number or size compared to previous swarms, especially those in 2011 and 2012.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 228. (A) January-December 2013 earthquake locations, Hawai'i Island, 0-60 km deep, M ≥ 3.0. Earthquake colors are based on depth. The symbol size of the earthquake is based on the preferred magnitude. All plotted earthquakes have been reviewed by an analyst. (B) January-December 2013 earthquake locations, Hawai'i Island, 0-5.0 km deep (shallow), M ≥ 2.0. Earthquake colors are based on time. Symbol sizes are based on the magnitude. Plotted events include both reviewed and automatically determined locations that have horizontal errors < 2 km and vertical errors < 4 km. Courtesy of HVO.

New interactive earthquake webpage launched. In October 2013, HVO launched a new interactive earthquake webpage, informally called Volcweb (USGS, 2013b). The new website used several new technologies that provided a better user-experience and a better compatibility with mobile devices. In addition to providing earthquake location information, the site also creates cross-sections, time-depth plots, cumulative number of earthquake plots, and cumulative magnitude plots for data up to a year old. Webicorders for all stations were available (updated every 10 minutes). The rollout of this website allowed HVO to retire the old "Recent Earthquakes" page.

References. Patrick, M., Orr, T., Sutton, A.J., Elias, T., and Swanson, D., 2013, The first five years of Kilauea's summit eruption in Halema'uma'u crater, 2008-2013. Hawai`i National Park, HI: U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Fact Sheet 2013-3116.

Patrick, M.R., Orr, T., Antolik, L., Lee, L., and Kamibayashi, K., 2014, Continuous monitoring of Hawaiian volcanoes with thermal cameras, Journal of Applied Volcanology, 3:1.

Roeder, P.L., Thornber, C., Poustovetov, A., and Grant, A., 2003, Morphology and composition of spinel in Pu'u 'O'o lava (1996-1998), Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 123, 245-265.

USGS, 2013a (January). Earthquake Hazards Program, Netquakes: Map of Instruments. Retrieved from http://earthquake.usgs.gov/monitoring/netquakes/map/.

USGS, 2013b (December). Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Recent Earthquakes in Hawaii. Retrieved from http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/earthquakes/new.

Geologic Background. Kilauea, which overlaps the E flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano, has been Hawaii's most active volcano during historical time. Eruptions are prominent in Polynesian legends; written documentation extending back to only 1820 records frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions that were interspersed with periods of long-term lava lake activity that lasted until 1924 at Halemaumau crater, within the summit caldera. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1500 years ago and during the 18th century; eruptions have also originated from the lengthy East and SW rift zones, which extend to the sea on both sides of the volcano. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1100 years old; 70% of the volcano's surface is younger than 600 years. A long-term eruption from the East rift zone that began in 1983 has produced lava flows covering more than 100 km2, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.

Information Contacts: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), U.S. Geological Survey, PO Box 51, Hawai`i National Park, HI 96718, USA (URL: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/); 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/); Hawaii 24/7 (URL: http://www.hawaii247.com); Great ShakeOut (URL: http://shakeout.org/hawaii/); and West Hawaii Today (URL: http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/).

Nabro (Eritrea) — May 2014 Citation iconCite this Report



13.37°N, 41.7°E; summit elev. 2218 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Thermal alerts ended mid-2012; revised 2011 plume heights; uplift mechanisms debated

This report shows satellite thermal alerts from the MODVOLC system showing that they continued for 7 months after the end of coverage in our one report on Nabro's June 2011 eruption (BGVN 36:09), with the last alert occurring on 3 June 2012.

What has emerged regarding the 2011 Nabro eruption since our one previous report is a much more detailed eruptive timeline and some substantially taller plume-height estimates. These new and more carefully assessed details came out in at least eight papers and three technical comments (see References below).

The initial Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Center estimates cited in BGVN 36:09 were made in the time-limited operational setting that identifies volcanic ash for aviation safety. Those altitude estimates, which included maximum plume heights on 13 June 2011 in the range of 9.1-13.7 km altitude, have since been reassessed using an array of satellite and ground-based instruments and processing strategies. The revised heights in the subsequent papers often determined plume altitudes above the 16-18 km tropopause and into the stratosphere. Absent in our earlier report but well documented in the papers was evidence of a 16 June 2011 eruptive pulse.

Overall, Nabro erupted a total SO2 mass of at ~1.5 Tg (Clarisse and others, 2012), making the eruption the largest SO2 emitter of the 2002-2012 interval (Bourassa and others, 2013). The various papers and the technical comments have also framed debate on how and when Nabro's plume entered stratosphere.

Thermal alerts. This report does not contain any new in situ observations at Nabro. Table 1 shows MODVOLC thermal alerts during November 2011 and into 2012 on the basis of the number of days with alerts in these months. Those alerts stem from observations made with the MODIS instrument that flies on the Terra and Aqua satellites. Our previous report discussed alerts as late as 5 November 2011, but additional alerts were issued later in the month. For this table, January 2012 was the month with the largest number of days with alerts, 15 days. As of late 2014, the last posted alert was issued on 3 June 2012.

Table 1. MODVOLC thermal alerts recorded for Nabro from November 2012 through September 2014. Courtesy of MODVOLC.

Month Number of days with alerts
November 2011 11
December 2011 08
January 2012 15
February 2012 12
March 2012 07
April 2012 11
May 2012 11
June 2012 01

Although the earlier alerts may signify ongoing eruption, some of the later alerts could stem from ongoing post-eruptive thermal radiance from potentially thick lava flows. Absence of alerts could be the result of clouds masking the volcano, although that is unlikely significant in the terminal alert registered in June 2012. It also bears noting that the alerts are at a fairly high threshold.

References. Bourassa, AE, Robock, A, Randel, WJ, Deshler, T, Rieger, LA, Lloyd, ND, Llewellyn, EJ, and Degenstein, DA, 2012, Large Volcanic Aerosol Load in the Stratosphere Linked to Asian Monsoon Transport. Science 337 (6090):78-81. DOI: 10.1126/science.1219371.

Bourassa, AE, Robock, A, Randel, WJ, Deshler, T, Rieger, LA, Lloyd, ND, Llewellyn, EJ, and Degenstein, DA, 2013, Response to Comments on "Large volcanic aerosol load in the stratosphere linked to Asian Monsoon transport. Science, 339 (6120), 647, DOI: 10.1126/science.1227961.

Clarisse, L., P.-F. Coheur, N. Theys, D. Hurtmans, and C. Clerbaux, 2014, The 2011 Nabro eruption, a SO2 plume height analysis using IASI measurements, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 3095-3111,DOI:10.5194/acp-14-3095-2014.

Clarisse, L., Hurtmans, D., Clerbaux, C., Hadji-Lazaro, J., Ngadi, Y., & Coheur, P. F., 2012, Retrieval of sulphur dioxide from the infrared atmospheric sounding interferometer (IASI). Atmospheric Measurement Techniques Discussions, 4, 7241-7275 [13 March 2012; revised from 2011 version] www.atmos-meas-tech.net/5/581/2012/; DOI:10.5194/amt-5-581-2012.

Fairlie, T. D., Vernier, J.-P., Natarajan, M., and Bedka, K. M., 2014, Dispersion of the Nabro volcanic plume and its relation to the Asian summer monsoon, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 7045-7057, DOI:10.5194/acp-14-7045-2014, 2014.

Fromm, M, Nedoluha, G, and Charvat, Z, 2013, Comment on "Large Volcanic Aerosol Load in the Stratosphere Linked to Asian Monsoon Transport." Science 339 (6120). DOI: 10.1126/science.1228605.

Fromm, M, Kablick, G (III), Nedoluha1, G., Carboni, E., Grainger, R., Campbell, J, and Lewis, J., 2014, Correcting the record of volcanic stratospheric aerosol impact: Nabro and Sarychev Peak, Journal of Geophysical Research. Atmospheres. [Early, online version, accessed August 2014] DOI: 10.1002/2014JD021507

Pan, LL, and Munchak, LA, 2011, Relationship of cloud top to the tropopause and jet structure from CALIPSO data. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (1984-2012) 116.D12 (2011).

Penning de Vries, M. J. M., Dörner, S., Pukite, J., Hörmann, C., Fromm, M. D., & Wagner, T. (2014). Characterisation of a stratospheric sulfate plume from the Nabro volcano using a combination of passive satellite measurements in nadir and limb geometry. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 14(15), 8149-8163.

Theys, N., Campion, R., Clarisse, L., Brenot, H., van Gent, J., Dils, B., Corradini, S., Merucci, L., Coheur, P.-F., Van Roozendael, M., Hurtmans, D., Clerbaux, C., Tait, S., and Ferrucci, F.: Volcanic SO2 fluxes derived from satellite data: a survey using OMI, GOME-2, IASI and MODIS, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 5945-5968, doi:10.5194/acp-13-5945-2013, 2013.

Vernier, JP, Thomason, LW, Fairlie, TD, Minnis, P., Palikonda, R, and Bedka, K M, 2013. Comment on "Large Volcanic Aerosol Load in the Stratosphere Linked to Asian Monsoon Transport." Science 339 (6120). DOI: 10.1126/science.1227817.

Geologic Background. The Nabro stratovolcano is the highest volcano in the Danakil depression of northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, at the SE end of the Danakil Alps. Nabro, along with Mallahle, Asavyo, and Sork Ale volcanoes, collectively comprise the Bidu volcanic complex SW of Dubbi volcano. This complex stratovolcano constructed primarily of trachytic lava flows and pyroclastics, is truncated by nested calderas 8 and 5 km in diameter. The larger caldera is widely breached to the SW. Rhyolitic obsidian domes and basaltic lava flows were erupted inside the caldera and on its flanks. Some very recent lava flows were erupted from NNW-trending fissures transverse to the trend of the volcanic range.

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 (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); and Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) (URL: http://www.meteo.fr/vaac/).

Pacaya (Guatemala) — May 2014 Citation iconCite this Report



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Sudden, bomb-laden explosions of 27-28 May 2010; extra-crater lava flows

Pacaya, which in recent years has consistently erupted olivine-bearing high alumina basaltic lavas, erupted with remarkable violence on both 27 and 28 May 2010 with an explosion on the 27th lasting ~45 minutes. This was followed by a smaller explosion the next day that generated a plume assessed from satellite and meteorological data as reaching 13 km altitude. In this report we describe those events as explosions in order to distinguish them from the ongoing, decades-long, and often effusive eruption generally seen at Pacaya. The terms 'explosion' and 'explosive' appear warranted given such factors as the suddenness of escalation, the ~13 km plume altitude (~10 km over the summit when measured during the weaker explosion on the 28th, the density of projectiles, and the scale of the tephra fall. The term explosion seems consistent with common practice (Sparks, 1986; Fiske and others, 2009).

The following report emphasizes Pacaya's behavior in 2010, including the 27 and 28 May explosions and impacts continuing into early June 2010. Our last report (BGVN 34:12) discussed behavior into mid-January 2010. Some of the reporting came from reports of Guatemalan agencies (eg. INSIVUMEH and CONRED, acronyms spelled out in the Information contacts section at bottom), newspapers (eg. Prense Libra, 2010a, b), videos and photos, and cited manuscripts and papers. It especially benefited from a draft manuscript prepared by Rüdiger Escobar Wolf (REW, 2014) and graciously provided to Bulletin editors. REW also provided reviews, insights, and numerous tailored graphics but bears no responsibility for possible errors induced by Bulletin editors.

The explosions were preceded months to weeks earlier by extra-crater venting of lava flows on the E and SE flanks. The lava flows covered substantial areas after emerging effusively at two widely spaced vents in atypical extra-crater or crater-margin locations.

Subsections address the following topics: (1) the Guatemalan hazard agency CONRED's reports, (2) a sample of available video and photo documentation of Pacaya's behavior, (3) events prior to the 27 May explosion, (4) the explosions and some of the impacts, (5) the seismic record showing the pattern of escalation around the time of the explosions, (6) a brief summary of the critical initial aviation reports, and (7) a geotechnical slope stability study that suggests gravitational instability at Pacaya, particularly owing to the cone's magma pressure and seismic loading.

Pacaya , which has a record of eruptions dating back over 1,600 years, has been erupting the majority of the time since 1961, often emitting rough-surfaced lavas but also occasionally discharging explosions. The centerpiece of the National Park of the same name, it is the most often climbed volcano in Guatemala. There have been 69 prior Smithsonian-published reports describing behavior from 1969 to early January 2010 (CSLP 03-70 to BGVN 34:12). REW (2013) ranked the 27 May explosions as sub-plinean and the associated lava emissions as the largest since similar events in 1961.

Figure 42 shows two simplified regional maps of Guatemala and neighboring countries including Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. (Top) A map showing Pacaya's location in Central America. (Bottom) A map emphasizing Pacaya's location with respect to the central portion of Guatemala City (red square labeled 'Guatemala'). The larger combined urban area associated with that Capital city stretches well beyond the square symbol and contains ~3.5 million residents. AmatitlÁn was heavily damaged by Pacaya's May 2010 ashfall and the knock-on effects of Tropical Storm Agnes that arrived two days later. Top map taken from Morgan and others (2012); bottom map revised from a base map found online at Ezilon Maps.

The larger tephra blanket spread N, covering an area of more than 1,000 km2 including the bulk of the Guatemala City metropolitan area, the largest city in Central America, population ~3.5 million. The City's center lies ~25 km NNE of Pacaya's summit but a 5-km-wide strip of urban and suburban development now stretches from its older core (red square, figure 42)to ~9 km N of the summit. The tephra shut down La Aurora, the county's primary international airport and among the region's busiest, for 5 consecutive days.

The 27 May 2010 explosion destroyed or damaged nearly 800 houses in nearby communities, forcing ~2,000 residents to evacuate and injuring 59 people. A high density of ballistics fell on nearby hamlets and villages, particularly those 2.5-3.5 km N of the MacKenny cone (El Cedro, San Francisco de Sales, and Calderas). The ballistics had sufficient mass and velocity to puncture roofs with a density on the order of one puncture per square meter in some places. Many more smaller ballistics bent but did not penetrate the corrugated sheet metal roofs common in many of the region's dwellings. Some of the ballistics were sufficiently hot to start fires.

Ash caused widespread damage locally, and up to ~8 cm of ash fell on parts of metropolitan Guatemala City, the nation's capital, centered ~35 km NNW of Pacaya. Up to 20 cm of tephra accumulated at and near Pacaya. According to available census data, the population within 10 km of Pacaya was 57,000 (John Ewert, USGS-CVO, personal communication).

Accounts from Guatemalan meteorological stations reported that detectable ash from the 2010 explosions fell as far away as the Caribbean coast. Brianna Hetland was both a graduate student in volcanology and a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala during 2010-2012. Hetland noted in a message that she had spoken with another Volunteer who said ash had blanketed his neighborhood near Coban (in Samac, Alta Verapaz) ~180 m N of Pacaya (figure 42, bottom). Hetland documented post-eruptive conditions at Pacaya, composed a blog on the impact and clean up, and gave a talk on those aspects as well as multifaceted monitoring conducted by fellow students and faculty at Michigan Technological University (Hetland, 2012a, b; Walikainen, 2010).

Some of the impacts of the freshly fallen ash were amplified and other impacts were diminished by heavy rains and flooding due to Tropical Storm Agatha that struck the region 2 days later, with some areas receiving 0.9 m of rain. The floodwater run carried ash that dislodged debris, clogged drainage systems, left thick deposits on valley floors, and damaged many bridges. The scale of the combined disasters led to more analysis of hardships, mitigation, and economic impact than usual at many eruptions, as exemplified by the detailed assessments by Wardman and others (2012). Those authors visited in the aftermath from New Zealand in order to study impacts that might be analogous to hazards elsewhere. They found that one moderating impact of the rain was to cee crops, which were washed clean of ash and residual acids. The authors also found that that a prompt and efficient cleanup was initiated by the Capital municipality to remove tephra from the 2,100 km of roads in the Capital. An estimated 11,350,000 m3 of tephra was removed from the city's roads and rooftops.

Diminishing strombolian activity and lava flows in the crater area continued into at least late June 2010. By this time the emissions had become more like the generally effusive decades-long eruption, which was still ongoing when this was written in late 2014. In addition to the information here, Pacaya's discharge rates have been summarized for the years 2004-2010 on the basis of infrared satellite images (Morgan and others, 2013). As would be expected, a strong peak in radiance developed in late May 2010.

REW (2013) noted one death attributed to the explosion and tephra fall and 179 deaths attributed to the Tropical Storm. Two people died at Pacaya days prior to the explosion of 27 May 2010. Wardman and others (2013) mentioned two further deaths due to people cleaning tephra from roofs.

Geochemical analysis of material erupted on 27 and 28 May is not yet reported. As background, Matías and others (2012) describe Pacaya's recent lavas as all high-alumina basalts with SiO2 contents of 50-52.5 weight percent and MgO contents of 3-5 weight percent. Common phynocrysts (visible minerals) included plagioclase, olivine, and opaque minerals (Conway, 1995). There is a slight variation of CaO in this group of lavas, which suggests a phenocryst enrichment or depletion. The lava compositions have remained broadly similar since 1961, and for many previous lavas as well, although some more felsic compositions are represented at older flank eruptions (Eggers, 1971).

CONRED reports. Perspective on the disaster can be gained from the chronology and content of announcements issued by CONRED (the Guatemalan agency for disaster reduction; Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres, table 4). These will be referred to in text by "CONRED" followed by their bulletin number.

Table 4. A summary of key CONRED information bulletins issued relevant to Pacaya's May 2010 eruption (http://conred.gob.gt/). After Escobar Wolf (2012) in addition to a similar table by Wardman and others (2012). Not all bulletins are included in this table.

Date CONRED Bulletin Summary
10 Feb 2010 564 Called attention to lavas emitted on the E to S flanks.
17 May 2010 708 Recommended the National Park restrict access to the lava flows.
26 May 2010 726 Eruptive activity increased during the day, generating plumes of 1 km above the vent that dispersed fine tephra onto neighboring villages. Recommended closing access to Park. Warned air traffic authorities about risks to aviation.
27 May 2010 729 Began to mobilize staff to villages near volcano around 1500 on the 27th, to discuss and implement pre-emptive evacuation. Seven shelters were prepared in San Vicente Pacaya to accommodate refugees. When the paroxysmal phase of eruption started (after 1900), evacuation of villages to the W (El Rodeo and El Patrocinio) was already underway, however, tephra and ballistics were dispersed primarily to the N and the villages of El Cedro, San Francisco de Sales and Calderas were the most severely affected.
28 May 2010 731 Declared Red Alert. As of 1239 on the 28th over 1600 people had been evacuated from the villages of San Francisco de Sales, El Rodeo, El Patrocinio, El Cedro, Calderas, and Caracolito. They moved to San Vicente Pacaya.
Civil Aviation authorities closed La Aurora International Airport due to tephra fall. The Ministry of Education closed schools in Escuintla, Sacatepequez and Guatemala departments. Access to the National Park remained restricted.
The municipality-level response agency (with a similar name, COMRED, not CONRED) was activated in Villa Canales. It set up shelters in the municipal auditorium, a church, and the municipal hall.
Advised citizens on managing the tephra fall.
28 May 2010 734 Thus far the eruption had injured 59 people, killed 1, and prompted the evacuation of nearly 2000.
08 May 2010 735 In the afternoon at 1424 on the 28th, high eruptive vigor resumed and tephra again fell on Guatemala City, but in much smaller quantities than during the previous day.
29 May 2010 748 By this time, a total of 2635 people were in shelters due to the eruption; ~400 houses had been slightly damaged and 375, severely damaged.
27 May 2011 1673 One year later; a retrospective summary of civil defense responses to the eruption and the larger engulfing disaster, tropical storm Agatha.

Events prior to the energetic 27 May explosion. Figure 43 highlights Pacaya's vent locations (1961 to 2009 vents as green dots), including the two new E and SE flank vents that emitted lava flows (red areas). Changes in eruption behavior preceded the 27-28 May explosions by several months.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Simplified geological map of Pacaya, based on cited references, INSIVUMEH mapping, and GOES satellite data. The key at right calls attention to features such as the collapse scarp forming the N and E of margin of the main crater and the lava flows of prehistoric age (Eggers, 1969, 1972; Bonis, 1993) through about mid-2010. Migrating vents mapped during 1961-2012 (Matías, 2010; Rose and others, 2012) appear as dark-green dots (many clustered on or near the MacKenney cone's summit). The red areas on the SE flank and E flank represent lava with the noted age constraints from REW's analysis of satellite data. The SE flank vent had emitted by mid-2010 a field of lava approaching the size of the 1961 Cachiajinas lava flow (purple). The latter flow both vented and advanced within Pacaya's collapse scarp. In contrast, the SE flank flow was the first in historical times to vent and flow outboard of the scarp. The cone residing on Pacaya's NW rim, Cerro Chino, enters discussion frequently in this report. Note the depression (notch or trough) here labeled "New fissure like structure." Map created and provided by REW.

From 2004 to around the end of 2009, Pacaya's eruptive intensity was often low. A clear sign of changes took place in February 2010 when lava flows emerged at vents on the S and SE flanks (table 4). These vents sit well outboard of the usual points of lava emission, which have in recent decades been limited to spots within the central crater, an area bounded by a large engulfing collapse scarp (a Somma rim; Eggers, 1969; figure 43). The two previously mentioned deaths occurred on 18 April when, according to the news, they were hit by a rock avalanched caused by an explosion. By 17 May, SE flank lava flows had reached 1.5 km long and the Park began restricting access (table 1). The scene on the SE flank appears in figure 44.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Pacaya's SE flank eruption as seen during the day on 27 May 2010. The ultimate distribution of lavas appears on the preliminary map by REW (2014). Image courtesy of Gustavo Chigna (INSIVUMEH).

Earlier on the 27th (prior to the explosion), INSIVUMEH volcanologist Gustavo Chigna looked out over the crater area and counted at least 16 distinct vents emitting lava. Chigna was surprised, and his comment was something like 'It looked like water gushing out of a sieve.' That scale of new extrusive sites helped alert authorities that the volcano's behavior had escalated well beyond the norm and led to restricting public access to Pacaya.

During the 5 years prior to the 27 May 2010 explosion, sporadic vent openings limited to the MacKenney cone and adjacent areas (particularly the N crater) extruded lava flows (green dots, figure 43). Many of the resulting lava flows were each only active for periods of days to months. INSIVUMEH sometimes reported multiple simultaneous lava flows from distinct vents on the cone, which occurred, for example, during April 2009. Most of the lava was confined to the main crater or portions downslope and W of the E-bounding collapse scarp. The case in 2005 illustrated that the topographic boundary associated with the NE segment of the collapse scarp had diminished in places to the point where lava flows could cross the scarp (BGVN 33:08).

Around January 2010, Gustavo Chigna (INSIVUMEH) indicted the end of mainly lower effusive activity ongoing since 2004. The new upsurge fed several lava flows from vents on Pacaya's main cone. In harmony with this comment, the video by Crossman (2009) indicates that on 24 December 2009 the volcano emitted considerable lava. Venting was effusive and at both the MacKenney cone's summit and base. Visible plumes were nearly absent.

Table 5 lists a small sample of available videos taken at Pacaya that aid in documenting its behavior. The table includes videos taken before, during, or shortly after the 27 May explosion, with the two pre-explosion videos capturing behavior relevant to this subsection. The videos from other parts of the table are discussed in appropriate sections below.

Table 5. Some photos and videos that advance understanding of Pacaya behavior during December 2009 to about 2 June 2010 (a week after the explosion). The cases presented are a sample, not an exhaustive list. Compiled by Bulletin editors.

Video (V) or Photo (P) and source Date acquired / Date posted if clearly stated)

Title; Content; URL

How cited in text of this report
V; Patrick R. Crossman 24 Dec 2009 / 24 Dec 2011 Title: 'Hiking the Pacaya volcano in Guatemala'
This video chronicles a group visiting Pacaya amid ongoing effusive volcanism in comparatively calm conditions and with people in many scenes. Some parts of the video depict a narrow (1- to 2-m wide), channelized, slowly moving lava flow. That flow appears to vent near the base of the MacKenney cone, devoid of visible plume, and traverses a region of low incline. The path of the molten flow is sinuous rather than linear. The visitors roast marshmallows in radiant heat from the flows. The video also cuts to scenes at the MacKenney cone's summit, where a larger flow several meters wide vents in a stable, effusive manner, also devoid of an associated plume.
Cited in text as Crossman, 2011
V & P; H. Paul Moon (Zen Violence Films, LLC) 01 April 2010 / 24 April. [Date confirmed with Moon and by comparison to his dated still photos] Title: 'Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala [1080p HD]'
Close up views showing copious lava flowing down the E flank from the new vent there. Accompanies GPS record of hiking track and still photos. Music accompanies the video. Dovetails with a Landsat image from about a week earlier, which also documents the E flank lavas. See text for more discussion.
Associated link shows GPS path on a satellite image.
Cited in text as Moon, 2010
V; RT news channel (original authorship not provided) -- / 28 May 2010 Title: 'Video of Guatemala Pacaya volcano eruption'
Compact, powerful strombolian explosions throwing molten ejecta vertically from multiple vents, or an elongate vent such as a fissure in Pacaya's crater (see photo below in figure 52).
Cited in text as RT News, 2010a
V; RT news channel (original authorship not provided) --/ 30 May 2010 Title: 'Raw video of damage caused by volcano eruptions in Guatemala and Ecuador'
The video shows, for Pacaya, images of advancing lava flows and some distant views of the volcano in daylight with a moderate plume above it. There are many scenes of damage, evacuation, and human impact, including ash-loaded corrugated metal roofs that buckled; ash on airliners; brigades of people sweeping and carting off ash from city streets and an airport runway; and children sheltering in a relief center.
Cited in text as RT News, 2010b
P; Boston.com 27-31 May / 2 June 2010 Title: 'A Rough Week for Guatemala' (in The Big Picture—News Stories in Photographs)
"In just the past seven days, residents of Guatemala and parts of neighboring Honduras and El Salvador have had to cope with a volcanic eruption and ash fall, a powerful tropical storm, the resulting floods and landslides, and a frightening sinkhole in Guatemala City that swallowed up a small building and an intersection. Pacaya volcano started erupting lava and rocks on May 27th, blanketing Guatemala City with ash, closing the airport, and killing one television reporter who was near the eruption. Two days later, as Guatemalans worked to clear the ash, Tropical Storm Agatha made landfall bringing heavy rains that washed away bridges, filled some villages with mud, and somehow triggered the giant sinkhole--the exact cause is still being studied. (34 photos total)."
(URL: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/06/a_rough_week_for_guatemala.html)
Cited in text as Boston.com, 2010
V; Tropical-rambler (clear authorship not provided) 31 May 2010 / 31 May 2010 Title: 'Erupción Volcán de Pacaya - Pacaya volcano Eruption'
Helicopter views of flight generally towards, and then at, Pacaya, which was still in eruption, with initial views showing Agua volcano and parts of Lake Amatitlán. Low weather clouds covered extensive areas. This video captured a decidedly non-vertical, denser black plume from Pacaya feeding a lighter, tan colored more massive plume that appears to drop ash as it is carried to tens of kilometers downwind (directed E-SE-S). Shots include those of Cerro Chino and antenna towers there, and widespread steaming on the MacKenney cone that coalesced into large steam clouds low over much of the central crater area.
Cited in text as Author unknown, 2010
V; Prensa Libre.com (wwprensalibrecom) About 2-3 June 2010/ 10 June 2010 Title: 'Espectacular erupción en el Pacaya'
(Narration by news reporter referring to explosion as 1 week ago, thus the 'About 2-3 June' date in the previous column.) According to REW, this video shows lavas emitted at the new SE flank vent. Remarkable images, some seemingly shot from helicopter and others from the ground, showing copious channelized lava flows moving rapidly downslope to the SE. At the vent area there are three small vents discharging spatter from coalescing cones with very steep sides. Their glowing summit craters gave off occasional eruptions as well as occasional puffs of gases, glowing spatter, and possibly flames. Some shots show incandescent lava flows several kilometers long. Rising plumes sometimes display toroidal motion, rotational behavior reminiscent of dust devils.
Cited in text as Prensa Libre, 2010

Figure 45 shows one of several Landsat views of the E flank in an infrared image acquired on 23 March 2010. It showed high thermal radiance in a narrow linear thermal anomaly headed E outboard of the usual eruptions confined to the crater. The E-flank area is devoid of vegetation, which rules out a local fire there, meaning that the anomaly was due to a lava flow. The number of clear (cloud-free) views of Pacaya available during March through June was limited. REW plotted this anomaly in a KMZ file format (red line, figure 46).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. A Landsat 7 thermal image of Pacaya on 23 March 2010 showing high heat flux as red. The small red area is on the MacKenney cone. The larger red area is a lava flow that had extended E. A site visit and video by Moon (2010) on 1 April (8 days later) confirmed lava flows on the order of 2-4 m wide. Black and marginal gray areas are older lava flows; green areas are vegetated with some cultivated or pasture land in shades of brown. This image contains artifacts in the form of gray diagonal stripes. The stripes are due to the failure of the Scan Line Corrector (SLC), which compensates for the satellite's forward motion. Courtesy of REW.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. A Google Earth view of the land surface looking radially outward (E) down Pacaya's E flank (N is to the left). The red line indicates the location of the lava flow axis from heat flux in Landsat images. The flow's source was at or very near the collapse scarp. The yellow line indicates the film crew's 1 April 2010 excursion route recorded with GPS as they approached the lava flow, filmed it at close range, and then headed back towards the trailhead (Moon, 2010). For scale, the lava flow is ~0.3 km long. Graphic files, analysis, and compilation created and provided by REW.

The new E flank (extra-crater) lava flow documented by Landsat on 23 March was the subject of a video by Moon (2010) taken on 1 April (table 4; see their excursion route on figure 46). The footage was shot during daylight hours at high resolution [1080p HD] and later processed to obtain vibrant red, orange, and yellow colors. The discharges were effusive and few visible emission clouds accompanied the lava flows seen in the video. A dark plume remained above the MacKenney cone's summit.

As seen in figures 47-50, the lava documented by Moon (2010) in photo and video was several meters wide and passing over irregular terrain. As seen from a distance (e.g. figure 47), some sectors of the flows channel stood well above the surrounding landscape. In the area visited, the lava remained confined behind jumbled but effective levees as it passed through and over the a'a' (rough textured) flow field.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. A 1 April 2010 photo of Pacaya's E flank lava flow seen in the distance as it descends across an a'a flow field. Courtesy of H. Paul Moon (see table 5).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 48. Pacaya's E-flank lava flow on 1 April 2010 upon closer approach than previous f. After watching the video Moon (2010), REW commented that the flow looked like "a typical channel-levee aa flow developed on a steep slope." Courtesy of H. Paul Moon (see table 5).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 49.. Pacaya's E-flank lava flow on 1 April 2010 upon closer approach than previous f. For scale, note exposed portion of ~1.4 m long hiking stick in right foreground. Courtesy of H. Paul Moon (see table 5).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 50. A still closer view of Pacaya's E-flank lava (taken from just a few meters away), which was moving swiftly. In his YouTube notes on his teams 1 April 2010 visit Moon commented that "the heat was so intense that I could only hold out for brief shots, needing to turn away regularly to avoid getting scorched." Courtesy of H. Paul Moon (see table 5).

Figure 51 maps the inferred E flank lava flow axis and SE flank fissures on an oblique Google Earth view.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 51. An oblique Google Earth view of Pacaya looking roughly WNW. At left in orange appear the upslope areas of the fissures that fed the SE flank lava flows. Farther NE (to the right) appear another set of fresh black lavas that reside on the upper E flank. The green line traces high heat emissions REW found in Landsat imagery from 23 March 2010, the same lava flow that had been the subject of Moon's video ~8 days later. Both sets of flows and vents were the first clearly documented to extend E of the collapse scarp in historical times. Analysis, compilation, and topographic files all provided by REW.

On 18 April 2010, according to a news report in the newspaper Prensa Libre, a Venezuelan tourist and her Guatemalan guide died on Pacaya. The news report stated the deceased were in the area of high risk when struck by material released from an explosion. Some of the other 14 people on the scene sustained injuries.

On 17 May 2010, observers saw abundant lava escaping from a new SE-flank vent (CONRED 708). A mound had formed at the vent area. The lava from this vent had by 17 May extended as far as 1.5 km. As seen on figure 43, the SE flank lava flows and their fissures ultimately fed lava flows trending roughly S for ~2.5 km then turning sharply (~90 degrees) to the W and extending in that direction another ~2.5 km.

CONRED 708 made a recommendation to the Pacaya National Park authority to restrict visitor access to the lava flows. The 17 May report noted that Pacaya's activity was considered to be relatively high, but it left out language suggesting a crisis at this point. According to the press, access to the volcano was restricted following the recommendation.

On 17 May, the newspaper Prensa Libre featured an undated night photo of the MacKenney cone taken from the N, presumably of this stage of Pacaya's eruption. It showed a dense spray of glowing material thrown from the MacKenney cone's summit and rising hundreds of meters. The cone's N rim contained a recently formed V-shaped notch (or trough). Out of that notch poured a broad lava flow. Several hundred meters down the MacKenney cone's N face, the broad flow split into two flows descending the cone's steep face on diverging paths. The notch in the cone stands out as a clear morphologic change associated with this time interval (~10 days prior to the 27 May explosion), and as will be seen below, it served as a conspicuous vent site for the fissure emissions documented during the explosions.

The day before the explosion, on 26 May, eruptive and seismic intensity both increased markedly. An eruptive plume reached 1 km above the vent and fine tephra fell on villages around the volcano (CONRED 726 on 26 May, table 4). CONRED recommended fully closing Pacaya National Park, and they warned aviation authorities of airborne ash near Pacaya. No call was yet made to evacuate residents living adjacent Pacaya.

Vigorous explosions starting 27 May 2010. Pacaya's eruptive vigor increased to the point of strong strombolian eruption, with the initial increase noted on the 27th in a morning report in Prensa Libre. More intense explosions occurred at around 1500 when observers noted explosions discharging about once per second and saw glowing material thrown ~1.5 km above the crater, and taller rising dark clouds carrying finer tephra that dispersed over nearby villages.

The exact start time of the intense 27 May explosion is variously reported, but available visual observations suggested to REW (2014) that it was during the interval 1800-1900. CONRED 729 indicated the climax (the explosion)began at 1900. Seismic data, discussed in a subsection below underwent the highest (RSAM) amplitudes during 1730-1830 local time on the 27th. Aviation reporting of satellite data on eruptive plumes, discussed in a subsection below, was initially ineffectual for the 27th owing to above-lying weather clouds.

What is clear is that the explosion late in the day on the 27th drove forth intense fire fountaining and vigorous ejection of tephra and ballistics.

Figure 52 shows a broad fire fountain frame taken from a Youtube video posted on 28 May—but it lacked an acquisition date (RT news channel, 2010a). REW interprets this video as taken during the major climax (explosion) during the night on the 27th. The eruption was clearly of fissure style at this point but the upper extent of the glowing material was possibly masked by ash clouds. Some of the textures within the glowing region are explained in the f caption and in the text below.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 52. A frame captured from a news video taken at night from Pacaya's NNW side documenting powerful curtain-style emissions (fire fountains) from the main crater area (which includes the MacKenney cone). The foreground consists of the dark silhouette of Cerro Chino (indicated on figure 43). Some of the tall antenna towers there appear as narrow vertical dark streaks backlit by the brighter orange fire fountains. Many of the towers and radio shacks on the ground near their bases were destroyed. Taken from RT news (see table 5 (RT News, 2010 (a)).

REW described the video source for figure 52 as taken looking at Cerro Chino (indicated on figure 43) from at or near the town of El Cedro, ~3 km to the NNW of the vent. The diffuse zones of near darkness in the midst of the fountains are rising ash clouds locally diminishing the glow. Thus it is clear from the dynamics seen on the video, that the glow of higher reaching clasts in the upper portions of this image could possibly be masked by dense ash plumes.

On the video, the orange streaks from glowing airborne pyroclasts track to points below that suggest emission from multiple vents or an elongate vent with continuous extent, rather than a single point source, a topic returned to below in the context of an elongate trough developed on the MacKenney cone. That said, REW points out that it is hard to get a good idea of the scale from this video and that videos taken from other locations seem to show a wider, and at times two different fountain jets. Available video and photographic data has thus far prohibited estimating the width of the fountain at this stage of the eruption. REW (2013) citing Hetland (personal communication) and CONRED 856 noted that associated with these emissions the major tephra fall began, and it soon spread tens of kilometers to the N.

Early in the explosion on the 27th (exact timing unknown), a news team from a national television station (Notisiete) endured a shower of ballistics. REW (2013) noted that they were in the vicinity of Cerro Chino at probably less than 1 km from the vent, the zone with critical infrastructure most impacted (figure 53). Although most of the news team survived, reporter Anibal Archila's death was apparently the result of direct impact from a large ballistic. His was the only icially confirmed death caused by the strong explosive phase. During a subsequent eruptive lull, a rescue team spent several dangerous hours in very close proximity to the vent, finding and rescuing missing people, and carrying out Archila's body.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 53. A truck parked directly N of the Pacaya's active crater at Cerro Chino as seen in the aftermath of the 27-28 May explosions. Courtesy of Gustavo Chigna (INSIVUMEH).

Ballistics in excess of 0.5 m on their long axis fell at Cerro Chino and elsewhere within ~1 km of the vent area (figure 54). Some bombs on the ground reached sizes of 80 x 50 cm (Hetland personal communication) but part of that extent may have been due to splattering on impact. Farther away, the sizes of ballistics generally diminished with distance from the source. At Cerro Chino ballistic impacts broke concrete roofs, started fires in the radio shacks, and toppled antenna towers (REW, 2014; Wardman and others, 2010).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. An example of a large bomb found in the near-source region. Courtesy of Gustavo Chigna (INSIVMEH).

When the intense phase started on the 27th, the evacuation of villages to the W (El Rodeo and El Patrocinio) was already underway. During the hours after the explosion's onset on the 27th, more than 2,100 people were evacuated from the proximal villages to the town of San Vicente Pacaya (5 km NNW)(see related scenes in RT news, 2010 (b), table 4).

The settlements El Cedro, San Francisco de Sales, and Calderas, towns 2.5-3.5 km to the N, endured both ash as well as a dense barrage of hot ballistic bombs (figure 55). Many of the bombs were below 20 cm in diameter. Some of the ballistics pierced the corrugated (sheet metal or fiber cement) roofing common in Latin America. In some cases the ballistics also ignited fires that consumed most of the combustible contents of the buildings. Some roofs collapsed or buckled due to the load of deposited tephra.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. Two photos taken soon after Pacaya's 27-28 May eruptions illustrate the density of projectile penetrations through roofs of two large buildings in San Francisco de Sales (~3 km N of the MacKenney cone). Taken from REW (2013) with photo credit to Hetland.

The ballistics examined were of low density owing to vesicles larger than 1 mm in diameter. They contained sparse phenocrysts (often larger than 1 mm), most likely plagioclase (Hetland personal communication to REW and Hetland (2010).

REW (2013) noted that, from the observed damage to roofs in these villages, the density per unit area of impacts that pierced through the corrugated roofs averaged as high as on the order of 1 per square meter. Portions of the roofs in near-vent settlements also sustained many dents from bombs that delivered impacts with lower force. Although some communities were partially evacuated when many of the ballistics arrived, REW (2013) concluded that some residents remained within the communities and regions mostly affected.

Reports in Prensa Libre give insights into the scene of the evacuation and the barrage. Many of the residents evacuated on foot following narrow paths across the rugged rural terrain. Other residents remained behind in order to protect their belongings from theft. When the barrage came, those too close used whatever hard and resistant objects they could find to protect themselves, including hiding under furniture and using pots and pans to protect their heads. Some corroded metal roofs were weak prior to the eruption. Some people found refuge in buildings with heavier, concrete-slab roofs, which generally fared better.

Figure 56 shows an individual who clearly received medical attention, stitches, for a laceration on his forehead. According to REW (2013), Pacaya's 2010 ballistic barrage caused more injuries than any recent eruptions. That said, data remain scanty on injuries rates and kinds, resultant disabilities, accident location, etc., although Wardman and others (2012) compiled some statistics.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Ballistic projectiles presented the most direct hazard from the 2010 explosions at Pacaya. This photo was found on the Boston Globe photo news site Boston.com (table 5). Their caption read, "A man shows the stitches he received after being injured by volcanic rock on the slopes of the Pacaya Volcano on May 28, 2010. (REUTERS/Daniel LeClair)." Courtesy of Boston.com.

The AmatitlÁn geothermal plant, located ~3 km N of the MacKenney cone to the N of San Francisco de Sales received ~20 cm of mostly lapilli-sized tephra. As Wardman and others (2012) noted, "Ballistic bombs and blocks also bombarded the plant, causing extensive damage to the plant's roof and condenser fans. Fan blades were dented, bent and also suffered damage from abrasion. Minor denting of the intake and outlet pipe cladding was also reported however these impacts were superficial and did not require repair." A photo showed cladding bearing multiple closely spaced dents on the side of a large pipe; the largest dent, 20 cm across, had ruptured through the sheet metal.

Post-explosion assessment of the MacKenney cone shed new light on the form and significance of the previously mentioned notch across it (a linear NW-trending trough passing through the summit, figure 57).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. An annotated photo viewing the N side of the MacKenney cone in calm conditions at an unstated date following the May 2010 explosions. The prominent trough included a deep segment that had developed on the cone's lower slopes (labeled 'Possible crater'). During the 27-28 May 2010 eruption the trough appears to have served as an active fissure or series of vents emitting fountains (see figure 52 and related discussion). Courtesy of REW with photo credit to Gustavo Chigna.

The notch formed a prominent depression aligned both with the new SE-flank fissures and Cerro Chino cone on the outer NW crater rim. Portions of the RT video footage taken during vigorous stages of explosion suggests that at a paroxysmal stage of the explosion the trough served as an eruptive fissure emitting a vertically directed fountain as a curtain (table 5). REW (2013) also suggested that the eruptive fissure along the trough may have served as the vent for the ballistics that fell in previously mentioned settlements to the N.

The explosions broadest areal impact came from tephra fall. Figure 58 shows a close up of ash from a sample collected 22 km from the vent. Overall, the grain sizes ranged from sub-millimeter to centimeter size. An abundance of fine suspended particles in the air were not reported during or following the tephra fall.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 58. Close up view looking at Pacaya tephra clasts collected in Guatemala City ~22 km NNE of the source. The smallest increments on ruler are in millimeters; the size range of grains here were mostly below ~ 3 mm diameter but grains under 0.2 mm were scarce to absent. The clasts consisted of black to dark brown vitric (crystal poor) scoria. Taken from REW (2013), who cited R. Cabria (personal communication).

As noted in table 4, in the afternoon on the 28th, high eruptive vigor resumed and tephra again fell on Guatemala City (CONRED 735). The ash fall on this day was lighter than on the 27th. Here aviation data (discussed below) did record the plume via satellite. The Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) noted (in their 6th advisory) an eruption in the afternoon on the 28th reaching (based on comparison of plume movement to modeling of winds aloft) ~13 km altitude.

During 29 May and onwards the intensity of volcanic activity decreased, with only relatively small eruptive plumes that occasionally produced minor tephra fall in the communities surrounding the volcano (CONRED 742). CONRED 748 noted that by the 29th, a total of 2,635 people were in shelters due to the eruption, with close to 800 home either damaged or destroyed. In the following days the attention of the emergency managers shifted from the eruption to the Tropical Storm Agatha, which had much broader extent and impact.

In the Pacaya and Guatamala City region, and along drainages carrying ash-charged run, both disasters combined. Lake AmatitlÁn rose, inundating low lying parts of the town with a water-and-ash mix (see photo documentation of impacts at Boston.com). Figure 59 is a photo taken ~12 km downstream of the Lake's outlet.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 59. The Pacaya tephra fall combined with storm run from Agnes led to swollen rivers in a 'dual disaster.' Those rivers formed new deposits along their beds from large amounts of in-swept debris, in this case including large boulders, trees, and a badly battered vehicle in the foreground. This press photograph was taken on 30 May 2010 as the flood water dropped. The location was the municipality of Palin, which sits along the Michatoya river downstream of Lake AmatitlÁn and ~10 km W of Pacaya. Taken from Boston.com with credit to Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images.

Seismic record. INSIVUMEH and REW (2013) suggested a climax on the 27th starting shortly before 1800 local time and lasting ~40 minutes.

The seismic signal (figure 60, upper panel) contained a few scattered high amplitude events during the morning of 27 May 2010. Seismicity rose significantly about 1200 on the 27th, about doubling the RSAM values recorded during the previous 13 hours.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 60. Seismicity recorded at Pacaya during the 2300 of 26 May through 1700 on 28 May (local times). The upper panel shows the seismic record and the lower panel shows the computed RSAM. Station PCG is a short-period seismometer located on Cerro Chino, ~1 km NW of Pacaya's summit on the MacKenney cone. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

The first of about 10 strong peaks (seen on both the upper and lower panels of figure 60) took place around 1230 on the 27th. Those peaks represented a large escalation in seismicity an approximate doubling of the RSAM values. The highest peak on the record took place during 1730 to 1830 on the 27th, a ~6-fold increase in RSAM over the background values acquired earlier on the 27th. During the middle part of the 1800-1900 interval there was a peculiar several-minute-long period with low seismicity conspicuous on the seismic record (upper panel). After that, a series of closely spaced peaks of generally decreasing amplitude followed and then seismicity decreased substantially, particularly around 2300-2400 on the 27th. A second escalation of broadly similar size to the earlier one came on the 28th peaking at 1100 and then dropping.

In a later analysis of seismicity, Mercado and others (2012 correlated waveforms for 5 months before and 9 months after the May 2010 eruption. They noted that "No correlation was found between the events of each day during the five-month period before the eruption, thus, establishing no relationship with the periods of correlation found after the eruption. The post-eruptive sources of seismicity discovered were not active before the eruptive event of May 27, 2010, and therefore these sources must be strictly post-eruptive in nature."

Aviation. Although there were 48 reports (Volcanic Ash Advisories, VAA's or simply 'advisories') issued by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) on Pacaya behavior during the interval 27 May to 26 June 2010, weather clouds frequently masked the plume from the key satellite observation platform, the GOES-13 satellite. Where satellite observations of the plume were scarce or lacking, most of the VAA's conveyed ground-based observations including media reports.

By the 3rd advisory, which was issued on the 28th, considerable ash had fallen at the International airport Aurora. There is some confusion as to the quantity of ash at the airport and over the region in general, but a photo on the 28th shows ash at the airport. Judging from ash load on the aircraft, the f walking just to the right of the aircraft, and adjacent tire tracks, the ash was on the order of ~1-cm thick (figure 61). This is in accord with INSIVUMEH's summary report that said 5-7 mm of ash had fallen during the entire explosive 27-28 May eruption at the airport. This is also in accord with REW (2014), which discusses the complexities of assessing tephra thicknesses in more detail, and presents a preliminary isopach map that shows the S fringes of the Guatemala City urban area with 10 cm of ash and many parts of the urban area farther N, including the airport, with on the order of 1 cm of ash.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 61. An American Airlines jet sits covered with ash from the Pacaya explosions at the International airport in Guatemala City on 28 May 2010. Runway cleanup took five days. The cleaning of the abrasive ash both destroyed the bituminous runway surface and all markings on it (Wardman and others, 2012). This photo was posted on the Boston Globe news website (Boston.com, see reference in table 5) with the credit to REUTERS/Daniel LeClair.

What follows is a summary of the advisories issued during 27 through 28 May (UTC).

The VAA's frequently refer to the NAM (North American Mesoscale Model), a numerical model for short-term weather forecasting and in this case wind-velocity estimation. The model is run 4 times a day with 12 km horizontal resolution and with 1 hour temporal resolution, providing finer detail than other operational forecast models. An example of a model with less detail is the model called GFS (Global Forecast System), which predicts weather for many regions of the world, and was sometimes also used by the VAAC analysts.

The VAAC issued their 1st VAA for Pacaya during 2010 on May 27 at 1140 UTC, citing as key information sources GFS winds and INSIVUMEH. Eruption details noted small brief ash emissions near the summit at 1115 UTC. The ash cloud was not identifiable from the GOES-13 satellite owing to rain. The ash cloud was inferred to have remained low and near the volcano. GFS wind data suggested that for such a low ash cloud at that time, wind-directed transport would carry a plume S-SW and would only be significant for ~20 km. The analyst noted that eruption as then dominantly lava emission.

The 2nd advisory came out 7 hours later at 1845 UTC on the 27th indicating volcanic ash and gases to ~3.5 km altitude (noting ICAO as an information source). Ash was again not identifiable from the GOES-13 satellite owing to clouds.

The 3rd advisory, noting 'ongoing emission of volcanic ash and gases,' came out at 1257 UTC on the 28th, again lacking clear satellite identification of ash owing to clouds, in this case citing a thick tropical depression. This advisory relied on both a wind model (NAM winds) and an aviation meteorological report (a METAR). The advisory further noted media reports of ash on runways as discussed in the context of figure 61.

The 4th advisory was issued at 1554 UTC on the 28th, noting "increasing emissions" at 1515 UTC with INSIVUMEH reporting ash rising to 3.7 km altitude (FL 120) and spreading up to 27 km NW. Again, owing to extensive weather clouds, ash was again not visible from GOES-13 satellite.

The 5th advisory was issued at 1710 UTC on the 28th, noting "ongoing emissions" recorded at 1645 UTC. Plume has now become visible in [GOES-13] imagery and extends about 15 NMI [Nautical miles, 27 km] to the NNE of the summit. Plume top was at 3.7 km altitude (FL 120).

The 6th advisory was issued at 1915 UTC on the 28th, noting a large eruption recorded at 1815 UTC: "Large eruption seen to FL420 [42,000 feet, ~13 km altitude] based on NAM sounding for the area. Forecast winds remain mostly westerly to northwesterly. Winds at the time of observation blew the plume E at ~18 km/hr.

The 7th advisory was issued at 1930 UTC on the 28th (the last one that day); it repeated information about the eruption seen in imagery around 1815. In this advisory the wind was moving NW at 27 km/hr.

Slope stability study. Schaefer and others (2013) evaluated slope stability at Pacaya and commented on the possible implications of the trough across the MacKenney cone (figure 57). They consider the trough noted above as an example of a recent, smaller-volume collapse.

Specifically, they studied the SW flank of the edifice and developed a geomechanical model based upon field observations and laboratory tests of intact rocks from Pacaya. Their study included analysis of slope stability using numerical techniques and consideration of forces from gravity, magmatic pressure, and seismic loading as triggering mechanisms for slope failure.

Given the cone's structural and seismo-tectonic setting, the likely magma pressures, and the history of past behavior, they suggested Pacaya lacked substantial gravitational stability.

References. Bonis, S., 1993, Mapa Geologico de Guatemala Escala 1:250,000. Hoja ND 15 - 8 - G, "Guatemala". First edition (map). IGN, Guatemala.

Conway, M., 1995, Construction patterns and timing of volcanism at the Cerro Quemado, Santa María, and Pacaya volcanoes, Guatemala. Ph. D. Dissertation. Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan. 152 pp.

Escobar Wolf, R, 2013 (Report in preparation, July 2013), The eruption of VolcÁn de Pacaya on May -June, 2010, Michigan Technological University, 31 pp.

Escobar-Wolf, R., & Tubman, S., in preparation, Compilation of historical and recent accounts of eruptions from volcan de Pacaya (XVI-IXX centuries).

Eggers, A., 1972, The geology and petrology of the AmatitlÁn quadrangle, Guatemala. Ph. D. Dissertation. Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. 221 pp.

Eggers, A., 1969, Mapa Geologico de Guatemala Escala 1:50,000. Hoja 2059 II G, " AmatitlÁn ". First edition (map). IGN, Guatemala.

Fiske, R. S., Rose, T. R., Swanson, D. A., Champion, D. E., & McGeehin, J. P., 2009, Kulanaokuaiki Tephra (ca. AD 400-1000): Newly recognized evidence for highly explosive eruptions at Kilauea Volcano, Hawai'i. Geological Society of America Bulletin, vol. 121, no. 5-6), pp. 712-728

Hetland, B., 2010a, Volcano Pacaya, Cleaning up the eruption of Pacaya, One roof at a time…; Online manuscript by Brianna "Adriana" Hetland, US Peace Corps Volunteer 2010-2012, (URL: http://www.geo.mtu.edu/~raman/Pacaya.Bri.pdf )

Hetland, B., 2010b, Erupción del VolcÁn de Pacaya 27 Mayo 2010; X Congreso Geológico de América Central, Antigua, Guatemala, November 10, 2010. [Power Point from talk at Geologic Conference; in Spanish] (URL: http://www.geo.mtu.edu/rs4hazards/conferencepresentations_files/conferenceshz.htm )

Kitamura S., and Matías O., 1995. Tephra stratigraphic approach to the eruptive history of Pacaya volcano, Guatemala. Science Reports-Tohoku University, Seventh Series: Geography. 45 (1): 1-41.

Matías Gómez, RO, Rose, WI, Palma, JL, Escobar-Wolf, R, 2012, Notes on a map of the 1961-2010 eruptions of VolcÁn de Pacaya, Guatemala. Geol Soc Am Digital Map Chart Series 10: 10 pp.

Matías , O., 2010, Volcanological map of the 1961 - 2009 eruption of Volcan de Pacaya, Guatemala. MS. Thesis. Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan. 57 pp.

Mercado, D, Waite, G, and Rodriguez, L, 2012, Analysis of seismic patterns before and after the May 27, 2010 eruption of Pacaya volcano, Guatemala, Cities on Volcanoes 7 (COV7), Abstract volume, IAVCEI meeting (19-23 November 2012, Colima, Mexico) (URL: http://www.citiesonvolcanoes7.com/vistaprevia2.php?idab=510)

Morgan, HA, Harris, AJL, and L. Gurioli, 2013, Lava discharge rate estimates from thermal infrared satellite data for Pacaya Volcano during 2004-2010, Jour.of Volcanology and Geoth. Res., Vol. 264, pp. 1-11, ISSN 0377-0273, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2013.07.008.

Prensa Libre, 2010 [19 April at 01:17 Nacionales]; Mueren tras explosion (URL: http://www.prensalibre.com/noticias/Mueren-explosion_0_246575377.html; http://tinyurl.com/2vvaj4j ) [in Spanish]

Prense Libre, 17 May 2010 [21:38 Nacionales], Restringen acceso al volcÁn de Pacaya (URL: http://www.prensalibre.com/noticias/Restringen-acceso-volcan-Pacaya_0_263373950.html; http://tinyurl.com/2wb8p9t) [in Spanish]

Prensa Libre, 27 May 2010 Aumenta actividad volcÁnica en el Pacaya (URL: http://www.prensalibre.com/noticias/volcan-pacaya-actividad-erupcion_0_269373197.html; http://tinyurl.com/246hohe)

Rose, W. I., Palma, J. L., Wolf, R. E., & Gomez, R. O. M., 2013, A 50 yr eruption of a basaltic composite cone: Pacaya, Guatemala. Geological Society of America Special Papers, 498, 1-21.

Schaefer, L. N., Oommen, T., Corazzato, C., Tibaldi, A., Escobar-Wolf, R., & Rose, W. I., 2013, An integrated field-numerical approach to assess slope stability hazards at volcanoes: the example of Pacaya, Guatemala. Bull Volcanol, 75, 720.

Sparks, R. S. J., 1986, The dimensions and dynamics of volcanic eruption columns. Bulletin of Volcanology, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 3-15.

Wardman, J., Sword-Daniels, V., Stewart, C., & Wilson, T. M., 2012, Impact assessment of the May 2010 eruption of Pacaya volcano, Guatemala (No. 2012/09). GNS Science (New Zealand)

Walikainen, Dennis, 2010 [June 4], Eyewitness to Disasters: Graduate Student Reports from Guatemala (URL: http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2010/june/eyewitness-disasters-graduate-student-reports-guatemala.html)

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

Information Contacts: Rüdiger Escobar Wolf, Department of Geological Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Tech University, Houghton, MI 49931; INSIVUMEH Seccion Vulcanologia (Institute National de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorolgia, e Hidrologia) 7a Avenida, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala; Gustavo Chigna,.INSIVUMEH; CONRED (Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres) Avenida Hincapié 21-72, Zona 13 Guatemala, Ciudad de Guatemala; and Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), NOAA Satellite Analysis Branch, NOAA NESDIS OSPO, E/SP, NCWCP, 5830 University Research Court, College Park, MD 20740 (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/).

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


False Report of New Volcano




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-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


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


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


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



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



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/).