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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

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

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

Recently Published Bulletin Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Pacaya (Guatemala) — August 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sangeang Api

Indonesia

8.2°S, 119.07°E; summit elev. 1912 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Stromboli (Italy) — August 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Stromboli

Italy

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Nevado del Ruiz

Colombia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Asosan (Japan) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Aira (Japan) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Aira

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Nevados de Chillan

Chile

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kerinci (Indonesia) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash emissions during January-early May 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tinakula

Solomon Islands

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ibu (Indonesia) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Ibu

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Suwanosejima (Japan) — July 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Suwanosejima

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Bagana

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 40, Number 01 (January 2015)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Bardarbunga (Iceland)

Eruption ceases on 28 February 2015

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai (Tonga)

December 2014 to January 2015 eruption at submarine caldera builds new land above water

Nyamuragira (DR Congo)

April 2011-January 2015: Lava fountains; and by 1 November, a lava lake

Shishaldin (United States)

Start of an ongoing low-level eruption in January 2015



Bardarbunga (Iceland) — January 2015 Citation iconCite this Report

Bardarbunga

Iceland

64.633°N, 17.516°W; summit elev. 2000 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruption ceases on 28 February 2015

This report extends our recent coverage of Bardarbunga (BGVN 39:10) by discussing activity between 7 January 2015 and 1 May 2015, although the eruption ceased on 28 February 2015. Most of the information below is based on reports from the Icelandic Met Office (IMO), with ancillary information from other agencies as noted. For sources other than the IMO reports shown in the reference list, see the websites provided in the "Information contacts" section at the end of this report. In general, the information sources there closely coincides with the date range of interest. The eruption began at Holuhraun on 31 August 2014 (BGVN 39:10).

IMO reports for January 2015 noted that activity at Bárdarbunga's Holuhraun lava field grew slightly along its N and NE margins. The lava field covered 84.1 km2on 10 January, 84.3 km2 on 15 January, and 84.7 km2 on 22 January. Seismicity remained strong, for example, an earthquake swarm occurred on 29 January 2015. (Specific numbers of earthquakes appear in some IMO reporting, although no plot has emerged with graphical depiction of earthquakes in this reporting interval such as figure 5 in BGVN 39:10.) Local air pollution from gas emissions persisted. GPS measurements showed that subsidence continued. As measured on the ice surface, total subsidence of the Bárdarbunga surface between mid-August 2014 and the end of January 2015 was 61 m. During this period, IMO maintained an Aviation Colour Code of Orange (the second highest on a five-color scale).

IMO noted that on 21 January, "Handheld meters, carried by scientist near the eruptive site . . . showed SO2 concentrations of 29 ppm and 14 ppm. This is in concordance with the sulphur veils apparent from the aircraft and is reminiscent of the circumstances in SE Iceland [on] 28 October 2014. Since 1 ppm is about 3000 μg/m³ [micrograms per cubic meter ] this refers to concentrations of 87,000 μg/m³ and 42,000 μg/m³ respectively. For comparison, see values in the table compiled by the Environment Agency of Iceland and the Directorate of Health."

According to the Environmental Agency of Iceland, an SO2 concentration above 14,000 μg/m3 is the most hazardous of six health hazard categories; the Agency advises that serious respiratory symptoms are to be expected. More specifically, the Agency states that when SO2 concentrations exceed 14,000 μg/m3, residents should remain indoors, close the windows, and shut down air conditioning.

The Institute of Earth Sciences (IES) at the University of Iceland provided a map prepared on 21 January showing that the lava field was thickening and not spreading significantly; the volume of erupted lava was an estimated 1.4 km3 (15% uncertainty)(figure 11). An IMO report on 27 January stated that the average rate of lava emission during the previous three weeks had been just less than 100 m3 per second, taken by the report authors as a sign that the eruption intensity was slowly decreasing. On 27 January, a plume rose to an estimated height of 1.3 km above the plain.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Map of the new lava from Bardarbunga, prepared on 21 January 2015. During January, the lava thickened, without extending much further. Numbers indicate the thickness (m) which is also color-coded (legend on right). Courtesy of Institute of Earth Sciences (IES), University of Iceland.

On 6 February, IMO issued a statement that eruptive activity had decreased visibly during the previous two weeks, although seismicity was still strong. Lower seismicity continued during 11-19 February with many days of over a dozen earthquakes and seismic activity ranging up to M 4.3. On 14 February, the lava field covered 85 km2; measurements of the lava field's size on 4 and 12 February found no significant change.

An IES report issued on 20 February 2015 for 17-19 February 2015 noted "There is only one active vent inside the crater and the surface of the molten lava continues to sink. The lava channel has crusted over, except the 200-300 m nearest to the vent. The eruption column reaches no more than 1000 m above ground. The photos below show breakouts 15–16 km ENE of the vent, fed by the closed lava pathway which is inflating the lava field."

According to the IMO, a lava tube continued to feed the N and NE parts of Holuhraun, inflating the lava field. They also noted a reduced rate of effusion no longer sustained active breakouts in an area 17-18 km ENE from the vent.

A 24 February report noted that the rate of subsidence at Bardarbunga caldera was less than 2 cm per day. (IMO cautioned that care was needed with the interpretation of these data, given that GPS measurements are affected by ice flowing slowly into the caldera.) The eruption rate decreased substantially, and seismic activity continued to decrease although it was still considered strong.

IMO reported that a 27 February 2015 evening overflight found no visible incandescence at Holuhraun. According to FLIR thermal measurements, the radiant heat was greatest from the crater's rim, and lesser from the crater's depths. A gas detector in flight showed a maximum concentration of 0.5 ppm SO2, and a maximum concentration of 0.4 ppm when tested on the ground at the SW edge of the lava field. Glowing areas were observed in the NE part of the lava field; the maximum temperature detected was 560°C (compared to 1,200°C earlier). Radar measurements showed that the extent of the lava field had not increased since mid-February. (Data from SENTINEL-1 radar image 0741 UTC 27 February 2015 and helicopter flight, 1515 UTC 27 February 2015). According to IMO, experience with other lava-bearing eruptions suggested that the Holuhraun lava field would continue to emit gas for a long time. Without buoyant rise, driven by thermal emission from an active vent, the gases would remain low (near the ground surface). Therefore, IMO expected even greater concentrations of gas than residents had previously seen.

IMO reported that the eruption at the fissure of Bárdarbunga's Holuhraun, which began on 31 August 2014 ended on 28 February 2015. The Aviation Colour Code was lowered to Yellow.

IMO scientists conducted a field study on 3-4 March 2015, and found no signs of activity, other than a diffuse bluish haze at ground level across the lava field (figure 12). The IMO scientists reported that the crater rim had several cracks at the very edge, and while standing close to the crater rim it was possible to hear rumbling due to movements of rocks/solidified lava inside the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12. Photo of IMO geologists inside the Baugur crater on 4 March 2015. From the photo it appears that the vent discharging the lava is in the distance at the far end of the crater (area with white plume). According to the IMO caption, the photo was taken from the central part of Baugur crater as viewed looking along it to the N. The encrusted surface of the lava lake has collapsed, its remains seen as coarse, black rubble at the crater floor. On the crater floor, observers saw small vents sporadically discharging bluish gas. Part of the crater rim seen on the right side had broken, providing an outlet onto the lava field beyond. The resulting lava channel was about 50 m wide and 40 m deep. Courtesy of IMO (Ármann Höskuldsson; taken from IMO's March-April 2015 report).

In early March maximum CO (carbon monoxide) and SO2 concentrations, measured with personal sensors near and at the crater rim, were 3 ppm and 2.5 ppm, respectively. A multiGAS instrument at the crater rim measured concentrations of SO2, CO2, H2S, and H2 for about 30 minutes, and provided ratios of CO2/SO2, H2O/SO2, and H2O/CO2 of 17, 101, and 6, respectively. The scientists noted that comparing the CO2/SO2 ratio with previous measurements showed a clear increase, consistent with the end of an eruption. The maximum concentrations measured with the MultiGAS instrument were at the level of 30 ppm for SO2 (the concentration at which the instrument saturates). For CO2 and H2S, the respective measurements were 700 ppm and 5 ppm. The level of SO2 was measured with an automatic gas detector, as reported by the Science Advisory Board of the Icelandic Civil Protection and disseminated by the Icelandic Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, as 500 µg/m3 (~0.5 ppm). Blönduós is a town and municipality in the North of Iceland situated on Route 1 at the mouth of the glacial river, Blanda. The report of the Police contained a links to a Gas Forecast and a Gas Model and involved scientists from the IMO and the IES along with representatives from the Icelandic Civil Protection, the Environmental Agency of Iceland and the Directorate of Health. The area to the SW and S of Blönduós was reported as possibly affected on the day following the measurement.

On 26 April, IMO lowered the Aviation Color Code to Green (the second lowest level), stating that no further signs of unrest had been noted since the end of the eruption on 28 February. Seismicity both within the caldera and the associated dyke intrusion continued to decline.

References.IMO, 2015 (January), Bárðarbunga 2015-January events, Seismic and volcanic events, 1-31 January, Icelandic Meteorological Office Accessed on 31 March 2015 (URL: http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/articles/nr/3071 ) (accessed May 2015).

IMO, 2015 (February), Bárðarbunga 2015-February events, Seismic and volcanic events, 1-28 February, Icelandic Meteorological Office Accessed on 31 March 2015 (URL: http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/articles/nr/3087 ) (accessed May 2015).

Geologic Background. The large central volcano of Bárðarbunga lies beneath the NW part of the Vatnajökull icecap, NW of Grímsvötn volcano, and contains a subglacial 700-m-deep caldera. Related fissure systems include the Veidivötn and Trollagigar fissures, which extend about 100 km SW to near Torfajökull volcano and 50 km NE to near Askja volcano, respectively. Voluminous fissure eruptions, including one at Thjorsarhraun, which produced the largest known Holocene lava flow on Earth with a volume of more than 21 km3, have occurred throughout the Holocene into historical time from the Veidivötn fissure system. The last major eruption of Veidivötn, in 1477, also produced a large tephra deposit. The subglacial Loki-Fögrufjöll volcanic system to the SW is also part of the Bárðarbunga volcanic system and contains two subglacial ridges extending from the largely subglacial Hamarinn central volcano; the Loki ridge trends to the NE and the Fögrufjöll ridge to the SW. Jökulhlaups (glacier-outburst floods) from eruptions at Bárðarbunga potentially affect drainages in all directions.

Information Contacts: Icelandic Met Office (IMO) (URL: http://en.vedur.is/); Institute of Earth Sciences (IES), University of Iceland (URL: http://earthice.hi.is); National Commissioner of Police, Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management (URL: http://avd.is/en/); and The Environmental Agency of Iceland (URL: http://www.ust.is/the-environment-agency-of-iceland).


Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai (Tonga) — January 2015 Citation iconCite this Report

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai

Tonga

20.536°S, 175.382°W; summit elev. 114 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


December 2014 to January 2015 eruption at submarine caldera builds new land above water

A submarine eruption began here by 19 December 2014 and ended by 28 January 2015. Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai are small islands situated on the rim of a submarine caldera known by the names of the two islands (Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai) (figure 12). The 2014-2015 surtseyan eruption added a circular area of land over 100 m in elevation at a spot S of and about midway along Hunga Ha'apai island's length. The new island initially grew as an isolated third new island, but subsequently connected and joined with Hunga Ha'apai. The area of new land surface eventually reached about 1.5 to 2 km in diameter. The new island also grew to come as close a few hundred meters from Hunga Tonga island. The eruption issued dense ash plumes that generally rose less than about a kilometer in altitude but preliminary estimates on the associated higher, ash poor steam plumes rose to 7-10 km altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 12.(Inset) A map showing a large scale view of the South Pacific with the Kingdom of Tonga highlighted in purple. (Main map) Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai lie on the rim of a submarine caldera located 65 km N of a wharf in the harbor at Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu island (the main island of the archipelago). Nuku'alofa is a deep-water port, the nation's capital, and Tonga's economic hub. Tongatapu island also hosts an international airport, which sits to the S of the capital. (The word "Ha'apai" is also used as the name of a region of islands and reefs well N of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai.) The volcano also lies ~70 km SW of Normuka island. Courtesy of USGS.

This 2014-2015 eruption followed 5 years of quiescence, the previous eruption having occurred in 2009 (BGVN 34:03). That 2009 eruption formed new land above water and deposits destroyed vegetation on neighboring Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai islands (BGVN 34:03). The 2009 eruption added land at the S end of Hunga Ha'apai island. New research has been published discussing the 2009 eruption since our earlier report (BGVN 34:03). For example, Allen and Riebeek (2009) issued a 28 March 2009 Earth Observatory picture of the day that featured Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai images depicting the island morphology before and after the eruption. For another example, Vaughan and Webley (2010) discussed satellite observations associated with the 2009 eruption. Bohnenstiehl and others (2013) also discussed marine acoustic signatures from the 2009 eruption.

A key source used to create this report on the 2014-2015 eruption consists of four reports created by the Tongan Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and released during 14-28 January 2015. Those four MIC Advisories (numbers 3, 4, 5, and 6) are hereafter referred to as MIC (2015 a, b, c, and d). MIC 3 (2015a) was issued 14 January looking back in time at key aspects of the eruption. Discussions included the location and behavior of the first seen early observations on 20 December 2014, a site visit by the Tongan Navy on 6 January, and a pilot report on 13 January 2015. MIC 4 (2015b) was issued on 19 January describing a visit made on 14 January. This was the first report of the existence of a new island. By this time the new island had attached to Hunga Ha'apai island, roughly doubling the size of that island. MIC 5 (2015c) was also issued on 19 January. It described observations made from a visit aboard a ship (the VOEA Neiafu) on 17 January. MIC 6 (2015b) issued on 28 January describing for a visit on 24 January 2015. The report noted a lack of ash, gas, or steam coming from the vent that formed the new island. The authors concluded that the eruption "appears to be over." They provided a sketch map of the new island.

There were no new MIC reports during February-March 2015. The visits and reporting drew on support that included the Tonga Meteorological Services, NZ-Meteorological Services, the Tongan Navy, National Emergency Management Office, Tonga Broadcasting Commission, the New Zealand High Commission, and Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Tonga Airport Limited, Tonga Meteorological Services, GNS-NZ, NZ-Meteorological Services, and possibly others.

Eruption, December 2014. The online newspaper Matangi Tonga on 30 December noted that fishermen observed an eruption near Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai on 19 December 2014 (Matangi Tonga, 2014). An editor from that publication, Mary Lyn Fonua, notified GVP of the eruption. The same publication issued over 10 reports during 30 December 2014 through at least 9 March 2015 (Matangi Tonga, 2014, 2015a, b, c).

MIC (2015a) was released at 0943 on 14 January; it reported the position of the vent that was active on 20 December. Figure 13 is a later version of their figure, made at higher resolution. MIC (2015a) described this particular area as venting steam and sulfurous-gas at the sea surface. Emissions here did not persist during the later stages of the eruption.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 13. A map (N to top) showing the location of steaming at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano (orange icon) on 20 December 2014. Each of the two islands are about 2 km long and lie on margins or rim of the mostly submarine caldera, with Hunga Tonga island to the N, and Hunga Ha'apai island to the W of the caldera's center. The area circled in red is the approximate location of the vent that later formed a new rapidly growing island. Taken from Culture Volcan (2015).

Klemetti (2014) showed an image from a MODIS instrument aboard the Aqua satellite that captured of the area of the eruption on 29 December 2014 (figure 14). A small white plume was in evidence at the volcano in the image. He commented that the area of discolored water stretching to the S could be due to the eruption.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 14. The eruption plume from Hunga Tonga-Hung Ha'apai seen on 29 December 2014 by Aqua's MODIS Imager. Image by NASA with annotations by Erik Klemetti (Klemetti, 2014).

According to Metangi Tonga (2014) on 30 December 2014, "A continuing eruption from Tonga's active undersea volcano, Hunga Ha'apai, was clearly visible on the horizon northwest of Tongatapu today."

Activity during January 2015. During the 6 January visit (MIC, 2015a), observers nearing the volcano saw vigorous venting at a new location. MIC (2015a) did not disclose whether a new island had yet emerged but later reporting mentioned below did clearly document an island. The sea (or perhaps a very low island) discharged vigorous emissions of black ash and white billowing clouds. The new location was situated farther N, much closer to the preexisting islands, than the vent indicated in figure 13. That submarine vent to the S lacked further indications of steam emission during the course of the eruption. Neither of the preexisting islands appeared to contain active vents.

MIC (2015a) contained 11 captioned photos, but most are somewhat hazy and with limited contrast, conditions explained later (MIC, 2015b) as due to rain. Plumes on the 6th rose up to 2 km, but almost all the plumes in the photos were under 1.3 km altitude. At least one photo appeared to capture two low, vertical and parallel plumes. The photos documented some highly non-vertical black plumes, some peculiar low white plumes that seem to rise suddenly at distance, black plumes that appear to contain abundant clasts in their leading edge, low billowing clouds that encircle the darker ones and hug the water surface. In one case (figure 9 of MIC, 2015a) they reported that a white plume with its basal portion hugging the sea surface extended E over 3 km. The captions to their figures 10 and 11 indicated pulsing phenomena..

On 12 January 2015, Wellington VAAC reported ash from Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai reached an altitude of 6 km. They reported that fallout from the plume turned the sea surface red. Brief discussion of red colored sea surface is again mentioned below, both associated with observations on 14 January 2015 and briefly in a quote in an article by Field (2015).

The Wellington VAAC issued graphics to illustrate observed plume location and possible plume dispersal (figures 15 and 16). On figure 15 they labeled the altitude of the plume as SFC/FL200 (20,000 feet, ~6 km). The label "10/0500Z OBS" refers to the coordinated universal time (UTC) when the plume was observed. The next three cartoons represent movement of the ash plume at 6-hour intervals. The VAA graphic in figure 16 is based on the ash advisory mapping shows the recommended area of avoidance and several flight routes in the area.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 15. Wellington VAAC Ash Advisory maps produced to describe the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai plume and its trajectory. Times and dates are UTC (e.g., "10/0500Z" corresponds to 10 January 2015 at 0500 UTC). (Upper left) This is the observed ("OBS") ash plume's margin, which was traced onto this map from satellite image. This is the starting point for the subsequent forecasts. (Upper right) The forecast ("FCST") plume after 6 hours. (Lower left) The forecast plume after 12 hours. (Lower right) The forecast plume after 18 hours. Courtesy of the Wellington VAAC. [Maps extracted from NZ Met Service website (OBS-Observed; FCST, Forecasted) (http://vaac.metservice.com/vag/243040-2015_19)].
Figure (see Caption) Figure 16.Wellington VAAC graphic showing the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai ash plume boundararies for 12-13 January 2015 as an area enclosed in a blue polygon. The curved black lines in the center and at right are flight paths. Taken from the Wellington VAAC graphic for 12-13 January 2015.

MIC (2015a) noted that all international flights on 13 January 2015 were cancelled, though the domestic airline was operational. A Tongan government daily media release on 13 January described the ongoing eruption and cancellation of flights: "Activity continues at the Hunga Ha'apai-Hunga Tonga region and the emission of ash is reported to have escalated. Volcanic ash is forecasted to reach 870 km in 80 km wide toward the ESE from the Hunga Ha'apai-Hunga Tonga Region. By 11 January 2015, Real Tonga Airlines cancelled their flights for the day." Similar discussions of flight cancellation occurred around this time in Matangi Tonga, in their reports for 9, 13, 14 January.

On 13 January 2015 the Australian Aviation blog reported numerous flight cancellations, including Air New Zealand, Fiji Airways, and Virgin Australia. They also reported resumed service on 14 January 2015. According to Matangi Tonga (2015a) flights resumed on 15 January.

MIC (2015b, one of two reports issued on 19 January) discussed a site inspection on 14 January using a Tongan Navy vessel. The 14 January observations conveyed in MIC (2015b) noted that continuous volcanic eruptions had created a new island (figure 17). On 14 January the volcano was erupting about every five minutes. Ash and rock were ejected to a height of about 400 m above the sea surface. Wet ash was deposited close to the vent, building up the new island. Hazardous surges of ash and steam spread out horizontally during eruptions, and extended more than 1 km from the erupting vent (figure 18). Ash and acid rain fell in an area of ~10 km surrounding the eruption.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. Sketch map of Hunga Tonga-Tonga Ha'apai as seen during a 14 January 2015 site inspection. The arrow points to the initial vent seen on 20 December 2014. The red circle indicates the location of the later vent that erupted for about a month, constructing an island with above water extent on 14 January 2015 in the area within the yellow circle. The circle is roughly 2 km in longest dimension. On the basis of this map, the minimum distance between Hunga Tonga island and the new land scales to ~300 m. Modofied from MIC (2015b).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. The new island amid eruption on 14 January 2015. The view is looking NE and the steep high area is Hunga Ha'apai island, which resides in behind the new island. The plume was made up of discrete white and dark components. From this perspective the vent appears to sit in the midst of the new low island. Photo taken on 14 January 2015 from the Tongan naval vessel ~300 m offshore (MIC, 2015b).

MIC (2015b) noted that on 14 January steam rose over 1 km and was noted by pilots. The eruption continued to emit ash but in recent days the presence of ash has been limited to low elevations. An early summary section in the report also include the following.

"The new island is more than 1 km wide, ~2 km long and about 100 m high. During our observations the volcano was erupting about every 5 minutes. Dense ash was being erupted to a height of about 400 m, accompanied by some large rocks. Higher we observed mostly steam, but with some ash. Above about 1000 m, the eruption plume was almost exclusively steam. As the ash is very wet, most is being deposited close to the vent, building up the new island.

"Hazardous surges of ash and steam were seen to spread out horizontally during eruptions, and these extended more than 1 km from the erupting vent.

"Ash fall and acidic rain was observed within 10 km of the eruption. Leaves on trees on Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai have died, probably caused by volcanic ash and gases.

"No large rafts of pumice or other floating volcanic debris were observed. Strong smells of volcanic gases were noticed on a few occasions.

"This eruption is similar to that at Hunga Ha'apai in 2009, but only producing larger volume of materials resulting in the size of the island.

"It is unclear at this stage if there is any relationship between the eruption and a red algal bloom observed in seawaters around Tonga recently."

Field (2015) contained an image from the 14 January site inspection (figure 19).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption viewed from a Tongan naval vessel N of the island on 14 January 2015. Taken from Field (2015) with photo credit there given to the New Zealand High Commission in Tonga.

On 14 January Matangi Tonga (2015b) reported more details on the algal bloom mentioned above (the cause of which remains uncertain). Matangi Tonga (2015b) also reported unusual optical effects seen on the E facing side at the NE end of Tongatapu island (Kanokupolu beach) around that time. The article said the bloom "...turned the seas frothy white, chocolate and red..." and "...the sun shone through a champagne sky." The article contained photos by Shane Egan documenting these effects. Algal blooms can in some cases be detected and tracked by remote sensing as exemplified by Mantas and others (2011), who discuss remote sensing of algal communities as a possible cause of discolored water associated with the Home Reef eruption of 2006.

MIC (2015c) discussed a site visit conducted aboard a naval vessel on 17 January 2015. The authors noted that the eruption still continued at the new island during the visit. MIC (2015c) further stated the following. "During most of our time near the island, strong emission of steam to heights of 7–10 km was observed, but with only limited amounts of ash. Later, some eruptions that threw dense, wet ash, and small rocks 200-300 m into the air, accompanied by further strong emissions of steam. Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai islands were covered by ash from the eruption over the last month. The eruptions observed today were too small to deposit ash on those islands, suggesting that the eruptions a week or two ago were probably substantially stronger than those observed [on the 17 January site visit]. No trace of rafts of pumice or other floating volcanic debris was observed. No strong smells of volcanic gases were noticed within 3.7 km of the site, it was noticed however 27-47 km on the way to the site. The style of this eruption is similar to that at Hunga Ha'apai in 2009, but the volume of material erupted this time is much greater. International and domestic flights have operated without interruption in the last few days."

On 19 January 2015, the Pléiades satellite captured the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption. France's Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) issued the resulting 50 m resolution images of the new land created by Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai's latest eruptions (figure 20). Hunga Tonga island in on the upper right; and Hunga Ha'apai, center left. In the center of the image is a nearly circular, gray colored area, which is the newly created land attached to Hunga Ha'apai island. The vent area on the new island was filled with water (green). Ash from the eruption covered extensive areas of the vegetation on both islands. This and other Images were featured in the article Airbus Defense and Space (2015).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. CNES Pléiades satellite image (50-m resolution, optical band) taken on 19 January 2015. Ejecta from the new crater connects it to the E side of Hunga Ha'apai (island at left). Taken Airbus Defense and Space (2015) with data acquisition credit to CNES.

MIC (2015d) was issued on 28 January 2015 summarizing a 24 January site visit, which found the eruption over by this time. Figure 21 shows where the new land surface joins the preexisting Hunga Ha'apai island. Rough seas prevented landing and limited the trip to observations from the naval vessel. The scientists stated, "The eruption from the new island that started growing over a month ago appears to be over. There were no sign of any emissions of ash, gas or steam observed coming out from the vent of the newly formed island."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 21. The point where new land adjoins the older island as seen in January 2015 after the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai eruption was over. The steep sea cliff forming the old margin of Hunga Ha'apai island is on the left. In the center and right parts of the image lie a low area of gently sloping gray material, which is an outer portion of the newly created land. Besides creating the new land, ash from the eruption covered vegetation over extensive areas on both the older islands. Taken from MIC (2015d).

On 13 March 2015, Luntz (2015) reported that on 6 March 2015 GP Orbassano and two other residents of Tonga landed on one of the new land's three beaches. With his son, he climbed to the highest point of the island's crater, which was ~250 m high. According to Luntz (2015), Tonga's lands and Natural Resources Ministry said the newly formed island was 1.3 km long and 800 m wide.

Orbasano smelled sulfurous and other chemical odors. The vent had filled with opaque green water (figure 22). Matangi Tonga (2015c) also reported on this same topic and featured numerous photos.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. The crater lake in the vent area located in the central area of new land as seen on 6 March 2015. Courtesy of Luntz (2015) with photo credit to GP Orbassano.

Luntz (2015) quoted Orbassano as saying "the ash and rock surface was difficult to walk on due to the channels cut in it" (figure 23).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 23. The highest peak on the new land as seen as seen on 6 March 2015. Note extensive rills and gullies. Taken from Luntz (2015) with photo credit to GP Orbassano.

"There are thousands of seabirds--all kinds, laying eggs on the island," Orbassano said (figure 24).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 24. On the new land surface at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, these sea bird eggs were found laid directly upon the fragmental deposits. Taken on 6 March 2015. Courtesy of Iflscience and GP Orbassano.

References. Allen, J, and Riebeek, H, 2009, Submarine Eruption in the Tonga Islands NASA image, (28 March 2009, NASA Earth Observatory, Image of the Day) NASA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=37657) (accessed May 2015)

Australian Aviation, 2015, Volcano ash cloud disrupts Tonga flights, Australianaviation.com.au (posted 13 January 2015) (accessed May 2015) (URL: http://australianaviation.com.au/2015/01/volcano-ash-cloud-disrupts-tonga-flights/ )

Airbus Defense and Space, 2015, Eruption of a volcano in the Tonga archipelago, Pléiades captures the birth of a new island (accessed March 2015) (URL: http://www.geo-airbusds.com/en/6322-eruption-of-a-volcano-in-the-tonga-archipelago-pleiades-captures-the-birth-of-a-new-island)

Bohnenstiehl D.R., Dziak R.P., Matsumoto H., Lau T.K. Underwater acoustic records from the March 2009 eruption of Hunga Ha'apai–Hunga Tonga volcano in the Kingdom of Tonga. J. Volc. Geotherm. Res. 2013;249:12-24.

Culture Volcan (Journal d'un volcanophile), 2015, L'activité du volcan Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai a-t-elle changé de style? (posted 14 January 2014) (URL: http://laculturevolcan.blogspot.com/2015/01/lactivite-du-volcan-hunga-tonga-hunga.html)

Field, M, 2015, Tonga volcanic eruption creates new island, Stuff.co, posted 16 January 2015 (URL: http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/south-pacific/65103454/tonga-volcanic-eruption-creates-new-island ).

Klemetti, E, 2014, New Eruption at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, Wired (online), posted 30 December 2014 (accessed 6 June 2015).

Luntz, S, 2015, Newly emerged Pacific "Island" photographed for the first time, IFLSCIENCE (posted 13 March 2015. Accessed March 2015 (URL: http://www.iflscience.com/physics/newly-emerged-pacific-peak-photographed-first-time).

Mantas, V M, Pereira, AJSC., and Morais, PV, 2011, Plumes of discolored water of volcanic origin and possible implications for algal communities. The case of the Home Reef eruption of 2006 (Tonga, Southwest Pacific Ocean). Remote Sensing of Environment, v. 115, no. 6, p. 1341-1352.

Matangi Tonga, 2014, Hunga Ha'apai eruption continues, Matangi Tonga (Posted 30 December 2014; free content accessed in May 2015) (URL: http://matangitonga.to/2014/12/30/hunga-haapai-eruption-continues).

Matangi Tonga, 2015a, Fua'amotu airport's busiest day, as flights resume, Matangi Tonga (Posted 15 January 2015; free content accessed in May 2015) (URL: https://matangitonga.to/2015/01/15/fuaamotu-airports-busiest-day-flights-resume).

Matangi Tonga, 2015b, Nature plays with the sea and sky in Tonga, Matangi Tonga (Posted 15 January; free content accessed in May 2015) (URL: http://matangitonga.to/2015/01/15/nature-plays-sea-and-sky-tonga).

Matangi Tonga, 2015c, New volcanic island attracts sightseers, Matangi Tonga (Posted 9 March 2015; free content accessed in May 2015) (URL: http://matangitonga.to/2015/03/09/new-volcanic-island-attracts-sightseers).

MIC, 2015a, Government of Tonga Ministry of Information and Communication 3 (issued 14 January 2015) (URL: http://www.mic.gov.to/news-today/press-releases/5180-advisory-of-volcanic-activity-no3) (Accessed April 2015).

MIC, 2015b, Government of Tonga Ministry of Information and Communication 4 (issued 19 January 2015) (URL: http://www.mic.gov.to/news-today/press-releases/5185-volcanic-advisory-4) (Accessed April 2015).

MIC, 2015c, Government of Tonga Ministry of Information and Communication 5 (issued 19 January 2015) URL: http://www.mic.gov.to/news-today/press-releases/5183-volcanic-advisory-5) (Accessed April 2015).

MIC, 2015d, Government of Tonga Ministry of Information and Communication 6 (issued 28 January 2015) (URL: http://www.mic.gov.to/news-today/press-releases/5197-volcanic-advisory-6) (Accessed April 2015).

Vaughan, RG, Webley, P, 2010, Satellite observations of a surtseyan eruption: Hunga Ha'apai, Tonga, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. 12/2010; 198(1-2):177-186. DOI: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2010.08.017.

Geologic Background. The small islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai cap a large seamount located about 30 km SSE of Falcon Island. The two linear andesitic islands are about 2 km long and represent the western and northern remnants of the rim of a largely submarine caldera lying east and south of the islands. Hunga Tonga reaches an elevation of about 114 m above sea level, and both islands display inward-facing sea cliffs with lava and tephra layers dipping gently away from the submarine caldera. A rocky shoal 3.2 km SE of Hunga Ha'apai and 3 km south of Hunga Tonga marks a historically active vent. Several submarine eruptions have occurred at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai since the first historical eruption in 1912. An eruption that began in mid-December 2014 built a new island between the other two large islands.

Information Contacts: Tonga’s Ministry of Information and Communications (URL: http://www.mic.gov.to); Tonga’s Natural Resources Division of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (URL: http://www.mic.gov.to/ministrydepartment/14-govt-ministries/lands-survey-nat-res/); Mary Lyn Fonua, Matangi Tonga online (URL: http://matangitonga.to/); NASA Earth Observatory (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/); Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, NZ Meteorology Service (URL: http://vaac.metservice.com/); Tonga Meteorological and Coastal Radio service (URL: http://www.met.gov.to); GNS Science (formerly New Zealand’s Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited), Taupo, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cri.nz/); and GP (Gianpiero(?)) Orbassano, Waterfront Lodge, Vuna Road, Ma'ufanga, PO Box 1001, Nuku'alofa, Tonga (URL: http://www.waterfront-lodge.com/).


Nyamuragira (DR Congo) — January 2015 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyamuragira

DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E; summit elev. 3058 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


April 2011-January 2015: Lava fountains; and by 1 November, a lava lake

This report covers activity at Nyamuragira (aka Nyamulagira), primarily from April 2014 to January 2015, during which time there were intervals with lava fountains, high SO2 fluxes, elevated thermal infrared emissions, and high seismicity. A lava lake was in clear evidence starting in November 2014 and into 2015. More fragmentary data beyond the scope of this report as late as at least April 2015 suggests ongoing emissions if not a lava lake.

In the previous reporting interval (BGVN 39:03), an eruption occurred on 6 November 2011 and continued through April 2012. The reporting below begins with a report sent to Bulletin editors on 4 May 2015 by Benoît Smets and scientific colleagues including Nicolas d'Oreye, Nicolas Theys, and Julien Barriere. These and other data providers are listed in the "Information contacts" section at the bottom. Some further information after the material by Smets' team is largely tied to cited references. At present, there is a gap in data in the reporting stream that includes the year 2013.

Geographic background. Nyamuragira is located in the Virunga Volcanic Province (VVP) in the DRC, as depicted in figure 54. Part of the western branch of the East African Rift System (EARS), Nyamuragira includes a lava field that covers over 1,100 km2 and contains more than 100 flank cones (figure 54).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 54. 3D perspective view of the Virunga Volcanic Province, located between D.R. Congo and Rwanda. During the project TanDEM-X, radar interferometry was used to calculate a Digital Elevation Model (5-m resolution). This topographic data were 18 times better in terms of resolution than those delivered by NASA during the SRTM mission. Courtesy of F. Albino.

2012 to early 2015. What follows is the report that Smets' team submitted with some of the early figures discussing 2011-2012 omitted. Minor changes were made to some of the quoted material (e.g., date formats; with additions in square or hard brackets, [ ]).

"Starting from early March 2012, i.e. in the final stage of the five month-long eruption on the NE flank of Nyamulagira, SO2-rich gas fumaroles were observed in the summit caldera of the volcano (D. Tedesco, Pers. Comm.). These fumaroles escaped from several fractures and from the 400-m-wide, 50-80-m-deep pit crater located in the NE part of the caldera.

"The 2011-2012 eruption of Nyamulagira marked the beginning of the progressive collapse and southward extension of the pit crater from which the fumarole escaped. During the second half of April 2012, a larger and permanent SO2-rich gas plume started to escape from that pit crater.

"In April 2014, local testimonies reported red glow on top of Nyamulagira. This was accompanied by unusual seismic activity recorded by the Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO). Because of intense degassing, helicopter flights at day and night did not allow detecting any fresh lava at ground surface.

"This kind of event reappeared on 22 June 2014. This time, helicopter flights and field surveys on 1 and 5 July 2014 did allow observing lava fountains escaping from the lowest inner flanks of the now ~500 m-deep and ~400 x 600 m-wide pit crater [figure 55]. At that time, lava fountains were not vigorous enough to create and sustain a basin of molten lava in the pit crater. This [lava fountaining] activity was also characterized by large amounts of SO2-rich gas emissions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 55. A lava fountain in the deep crater at Nyamuragira, as seen by Smets from a helicopter on 1 July 2014. In addition, he posted a video of the helicopter flyby to YouTube (see Benoît Smets, 2015, in the References section). A lava lake was not indicated. Courtesy of Benoît Smets.

"This [lava fountaining] activity stopped mid-September 2014 and, on 1 November 2014, a small lava lake, i.e. a small bubbling lava basin, appeared in the deepest section of the pit crater (GVO, Pers. Comm.). The related SO2 emissions appeared lower than during lava fountain activity.

"The lava lake activity at Nyamulagira seems to continue since [1 November 2014 through at least January 2015].

"SO2 gas emissions, radiated energy, and seismic activity during the April-December 2014 period illustrate very well the evolution of this new activity and the transition from lava fountaining activity to long-lived lava lake activity [figure 56]."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 56. Graphs illustrating (top panel) seismicity, and (bottom panel) SO2 flux and radiated infrared energy at Nyamuragira during April to December 2014; (Green) seismicity in terms of Realtime Seismic Amplitude Measurement (RSAM), calculated using broadband seismometers at the Rumangabo station, ~20 km NE of the crater (installed in the RESIST and RGL-GEORISK projects); (Blue) SO2 emissions in the Virunga region, calculated using OMI measurements; (Red) radiated energy over Nyamuragira, calculated using MODIS imagery and the MODVOLC algorithm (Wright and others, 2004). Courtesy of Smets, d'Oreye, Nicolas Theys, and Julien Barriere.

Labels at the top of figure 56 represent behavior that Smets' team inferred on the basis of field observations. The intervals of quiet are unlabeled. The intervals with lava fountaining correspond with some intervals of high seismicity, high radiance, and pronounced SO2 emissions. The intervals with the lava lake are somewhat similar to the fountaining in terms of seismicity and radiance but the SO2 emissions were subdued.

According to the NASA MEASURES dataset, total atmospheric column SO2 spiked during 19 to 26 June 2014. There was a period of low values during late September to early November 2014. After that and during the rest of the reporting interval, SO2 was often elevated.

Lava lake. Observations of a lava lake were infrequent during much of 2014. Landsat 8 satellite images taken on 30 June 2014 and 29 July 2014 were interpreted by NASA Earth Observatory analysts Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon. They found "very hot surfaces" they interpreted as representing "the lava lake within the summit crater."

Smets' team did not observe a lava lake during helicopter missions and an expedition to the volcano in July 2014 (e.g. figure 55, which showed fountains but not a large glowing mass that would have clearly signified the presence of a lava lake). Smets' team noted that by 1 November 2014 GVO had seen a small lava lake in the deepest part of the crater. Exactly when this lake was first established and whether it was sustained or ephemeral remains equivocal (Campion, 2014; Oskin, 2014).

According to Bobrowski and others (2015) during 25 October to 5 November 2014 the lava lake was "still under formation" and field surveys carried out failed to find evidence for it. On the other hand, lava fountains were clearly observable in a ~350-m-wide crater, originating from an area of ~20 to 40 m2. These fountains ejected materials and exhibited activity that the authors said might evolve into a new lava lake.

Once formed (by 1 November 2014), the lava lake was described as deep-seated and formed in a pit within the caldera's central N to NE area (Campion, 2014; Smets and others, 2014). As mentioned at the top of this report, Smets also noted that the lava lake continued to exist through and beyond January 2015 (the end of this reporting interval).

MIROVA stands for Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity, where middle infrared is defined as 0.4-14.4 micrometer wavelengths. The infrared processing system uses source data that comes from the MODIS instrument that flies on the Aqua and Terra satellites. MIROVA makes plots of Volcanic Radiative Power (VRP). These are measurements of the heat radiated by hot volcanic products at the time of satellite acquisition. The VRP is calculated in Watts (W) and represents a combined measurement of the area of the volcanic emitter and its effective radiating temperature. MIROVA calculates the Volcanic Radiative Power (VRP) by using the "MIR method", an approach which was initially introduced by in order to estimate the heat radiated by active fires using satellite data (Wooster et al., 2003).

This approach (also known as Middle InfraRed method) relies on the fact that whenever a hot emitter has an effective radiating temperature higher than 600 K, the excess radiance detected in the MIR region (DLMIR), can be linearly related to the radiative power. Hence, for any individual hot-spot contaminated MODIS pixels, MIROVA calculates the VRP. (VRP = 18.9 x APIX x DLMIR where 18.9 is a best-fit regression coefficient (Wooster and others, 2003), APIX is the pixel size (1 km2 for the MODIS pixels) and DLMIR is the above background MIR radiance of the pixel.) When a hot-spot is detected in more than one pixel, the total VRP is calculated as the sum of all pixels detecting a hot-spot.

Figure 57 is a time-series plot for Nyamuragira compiled by the MIROVA infrared processing system. All of the events on the plot that correspond to thermal anomalies are in the categories labeled low, moderate, and high. All of the events in the range moderate to high came from sources within 5 km of the crater (blue data points). Thermal emissions on figure 57 increased in June 2014, were minor for a period from late September to early November 2014, and increased once again for an interval extending through January 2015. Note the continuity of more elevated anomalies starting in November 2014, when there was clear evidence of the lava lake.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 57. MODIS infrared data using MIROVA for the interval May 2014 through January 2015. The vertical scale shows 'Volcanic Radiative Power' (VRP, in Watts on a log scale, see text). Time is on the horizontal scale. As seen in the key at upper left, the blue data points represent those that occurred within 5 km of Nyamuragira's active crater, and the dark gray ones, over 5 km away. Courtesy of MIROVA.

MODIS instrument infrared data is automatically analyzed with the MODVOLC algorithm, creating alerts for cases with above-threshold thermal emissions. During April-May 2014, there were only six days with thermal alerts. Subsequently, the number of alerts increased in June 2014, in concurrence with the lava fountains. There were heightened periods of activity during 22–29 June and 1–3, 10–12, and 28 July. During August and September 2014, thermal events were once again sparse with occurrences only on three days. No events were observed in October. Consistent with other observations of the formation of a lava lake, alerts increased on 1 November and continued during 6–10 and 22–26 November. Thermal events occurred during 10–15 December and on 22, 24, and 31 December 2014. In January 2015, thermal activity was detected regularly during 9–18 and 25–30 January.

Impacts and risks. Virunga Team (2014) posted an article on 18 October 2014 about how a population of twelve chimpanzees took up a new residence at the Virunga National Park headquarters in Rumangabo. The chimpanzees were originally part of the main Tongo group across the valley, but were cut off from them by a lava flow during the Nyamulagira's 2012 eruption. Although the lava flow has cooled, the group has remained, and in the new location is much safer from poachers.

Fighting between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government and several rebel groups displaced 2-3 million people within that country by February 2014 (UN News Centre, 2014). According to the article, more than 60% of those displaced settled in the Kivu region, including some near to Nyamuragira although the population distribution was not specified for this area alone.

The authors of this article did not mention the situation at the volcano. It may be worth emphasizing that the increased number of people could signify an increased human vulnerability in the event of escalating volcanic activity (Dario Tedesco, Pers. Comm.). Even without a crisis, ongoing strong passive degassing contaminates rainwater, which is the primary water source in parts of the region (Cuoco and others, 2013).

References. Bobrowski, N., Calabrese, S., Giuffrida, G., Scaglione, S., Liotta, M., Brusca, L., D'Alessandro, W., Yalire, M., Arellano, S., Galle, B., Tedesco, D, 2015, Intercomparison of gas emissions from the lava lakes of Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira, DR Congo/ Plume composition and volatile flux from Nyamulagira volcano, (abstract) Geophysical Research Abstracts, 2015 European Geophysical Union Meeting, Vienna, Austria (URL: http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2015/EGU2015-6540.pdf; http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2015/EGU2015-13100-1.pdf)

Campion, R., 2014, New lava lake at Nyamuragira volcano revealed by combined ASTER and OMI SO2 measurements, 7 November 2014, Geophysical Research Letters (URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL061808/full)

Calabrese, S., Scaglione, S., Milazzo, S., D'Alessandro, W., Bobrowski, N., Giuffrida, G. B., and Yalire, M., 2014, Passive degassing at Nyiragongo (DR Congo) and Etna (Italy) volcanoes. Annals of Geophysics.

Cuoco, E., Tedesco, D., Poreda, R. J., Williams, J. C., De Francesco, S., Balagizi, C., and Darrah, T. H., 2013, Impact of volcanic plume emissions on rain water chemistry during the January 2010 Nyamuragira eruptive event: implications for essential potable water resources. Journal of hazardous materials, 244, 570-581.

ESA Eduspace, date unknown, Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira, based on USGS, European Science Agency (URL: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Eduspace_Disasters_EN/SEMDGLNSNNG_0.html) [accessed in May 2015]

Oskin, B., 2014, World's Newest Lava Lake Appears in Africa, based on Smets, Campion, etc., 26 November 2014, Live Science (URL: http://www.livescience.com/48914-new-lava-lake-nyamuragira-volcano.html) [accessed in May 2015]

Smets, B., 2015, Renewing activity at Nyamulagira volcano, 30 April 2015, Youtube (URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1IHSjsgL48) [accessed in May 2015]

Smets, B., d'Oreye, N., Kervyn, F., 2014, Toward Another Lava Lake in the Virunga Volcanic Field?, 21 October 2014, EOS, Transactions American Geophysical Union (URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014EO420001/pdf)

UN News Centre, 2014, Journey to the centre of the earth: UN peacekeepers aid volcanologists in DR Congo, 25 February 2014, United Nations (URL: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47227&Cr=democratic&Cr1=congo#.VVjdhpPsatB) [accessed in May 2015]

Virunga Team, 2014, The Chimpanzees of Rumangabo, 18 October 2014, Virunga National Park (URL: https://virunga.org/news/the-chimpanzees-of-rumangabo/) [accessed in May 2015]

Wooster, MJ, Zhukov, B, Oertel, D, 2003, Fire radiative energy for quantitative study of biomass burning: derivation from the BIRD experimental satellite and comparison to MODIS fire products. Remote Sensing Of Environment, 86(1), 83-107.

Wright, R., Flynn, L.P., Garbeil, H., Harris, A.J.L., Pilger, E., 2004. MODVOLC: near-real-time thermal monitoring of global volcanism. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 135, 29–49. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2003.12.008

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

Information Contacts: Benoît Smets, (a) Center for Geodynamics and Seismology, Walferdange, Luxembourg; (b) Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Department of Geography; Earth System Science, Brussels, Belgium; (c) Royal Museum for Central Africa, Department of Earth Sciences, Natural Hazards and Cartography Service, Tervuren, Belgium; Nicolas d’Oreye, European Center for Geodynamics, and Seismology, Walferdange, Luxembourg and National Museum of Natural History, Geophysics/Astrophysics Department, Walferdange, Luxembourg; Nicolas Theys, Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Brussels, Belgium; and Julien Barriere, European Center for Geodynamics and Seismology, Walferdange, Luxembourg and National Museum of Natural History, Geophysics/Astrophysics Department, Walferdange, Luxembourg; Goma Volcanological Observatory (GVO, aka Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma), Mt. Goma, Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo; Jesse Allan and Robert Simmon, NASA Earth Observatory (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov); NASA MEASURES (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); MODVOLC alerts team, Hawai’i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), University of Hawai’i at Manoa, 1680 East-West Road, Post 602, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); and MIROVA, Universities of Turin and Florence, Italy, Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/).


Shishaldin (United States) — January 2015 Citation iconCite this Report

Shishaldin

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Start of an ongoing low-level eruption in January 2015

Shishaldin, located on Unimak Island, is one of the most active volcanoes within the Aleutian Islands (figure 6). It is also the tallest volcano within the Aleutians, and has a symmetric cone and a basal diameter of 16 km.

In this Bulletin report, we summarize activity at Shishaldin from January to December 2009 and from January 2014 to March 2015. During 2009, Shishaldin emitted steam plumes, generated thermal anomalies, and underwent several episodes of tremor in what was considered to be a questionable eruption. From 2014 through March 2015, Shishaldin experienced elevated surface temperatures, steam emissions, and starting in March 2014, an ongoing low-level lava eruption within the summit crater that occasionally deposited ash on the upper flanks. As of March 2015, this low-level eruption continued.

Considerable information in this report was found in material released by the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO). For activity in 2009, we drew heavily on McGimsey and others (2014). Our last Bulletin report (BGVN 33:08) discussed activity at Shishaldin in February 2008, when a pilot reported a 3 km altitude ash plume.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Map showing the location of Shishaldin. The volcano is located near the center of Unimak Island, and is the tallest peak and one of the most active volcanoes within the Aleutians Islands. False Pass, located 38 km to the NE, is the closest town. Map is courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory and Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys.

January-December 2009. This section of the report summarizes activity at Shishaldin throughout 2009. According to AVO's web page, activity began on 5 January (± 1 month) and ended on 16 August and was characterized as a questionable eruption. According to McGimsey and others (2014, a report cited by the AVO), increased seismicity, small steam plumes as well as thermal anomalies characterized activity during 2009. Steam plumes are considered normal at Shishaldin according to McGimsey and others (2014).

McGimsey and others (2014), stated that there was an increase in observed thermal anomalies at Shishaldin in early January 2009. On 5-6 January, an AVHRR satellite image of Unimak Island showed a thermal anomaly centered on Shishaldin's summit crater. The anomaly reached a 2-pixel size on 6 January. There was also a slight increase in seismicity. These observations indicated a clear departure from background conditions. On 6 January, AVO increased Shishaldin's Aviation Color Code (ACC) from Green to Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level from Normal to Advisory. That day, pilots and ground observers reported a constant steam plume rising ~300 m above the summit and drifting 16-25 km SE (McGimsey and others, 2014).

Over the next few days, AVO continued observing a thermal anomaly in satellite images. On 7 January 2009, AVO received both a pilot report and observations from Cold Bay (93 km to the NE, figure 6) noting a vigorous steam plume rising from Shishaldin. On 8 January, satellite images showed a steam-filled crater with no ash on the flanks (McGimsey and others, 2014). AVO's 9 January 2009 Weekly Update stated "Although detection of a thermal anomaly is rare at this volcano, it is not certain that this unrest will lead to an eruption. A thermal anomaly was observed in the months leading up to the last significant eruption at Shishaldin [that occurred] in 1999; this fact, combined with the likelihood that an eruption at Shishaldin could occur with little or no seismic precursors, drove AVO's decision to raise the Color Code and Alert Level."

On 11 January 2009, a photo captured by a pilot showed pulsing steam plumes. Two days later, AVO seismologists identified a minor, low-amplitude tremor that persisted for a few weeks. According to McGimsey and others (2014), during the next few weeks, seismicity remained low, a few thermal anomalies were detected, and steaming was observed.

According to AVO's 13 February 2009 Weekly Update, a very weak thermal anomaly was detected on 3 February. The Update went onto say that on 11 February, the ACC was downgraded to Green and the Volcano Alert Level lowered to Normal, due to Shishaldin's return to background conditions. That Update also mentioned that seismic activity had remained low, since decreasing to background levels in late December 2008.

McGimsey and others (2014) reported that over the next seven weeks (mid-February to early April 2009) occasional thermal anomalies were observed along with continuous low-level tremor, which was not considered unusual. On 7 April, a pilot reported that he saw Shishaldin steaming more vigorously than he had previously observed during his weekly flights past Shishaldin over the last 16 months. That day, a thermal anomaly was also observed in satellite imagery (McGimsey and others, 2014).

On 20 April 2009, thermal activity at Shishaldin's summit spiked based on multiple thermal anomalies containing saturated pixels observed in satellite imagery (McGimsey and others, 2014). According to McGimsey and others (2014), these anomalies indicated high ground temperatures (greater than 300°C). This level of thermal activity was last seen before Shishaldin's eruption in 1999. On 5 May, a pilot reported steaming from Shishaldin and a passenger on a different flight reported dark-colored linear features on the N side of the summit. According to McGimsey and others (2014), these linear features were later interpreted as minor streams of dirty water trailing downslope.

McGimsey and others (2014) reported that throughout June 2009, thermal anomalies were detected on about one third of days, with a particularly strong anomaly being recorded on 9 June. No unusual seismic activity was noted. On the night of 25 June, an ASTER thermal infrared satellite image captured a thermal anomaly and a 22 km-long steam plume extending E-NE from Shishaldin. Then on 29 June, an observer in Cold Bay (93 km NE) reported increased steaming at Shishaldin over the past few days.

In the first week of July 2009, thermal anomalies at Shishaldin increased in intensity, with a return of saturated pixels, indicating high ground temperatures. On 10 July, AVO increased the ACC from Green to Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level from Normal to Advisory, due to the increase and continued presence of thermal anomalies. Seismicity and deformation did not change significantly during this time and satellite data did not show any noteworthy SO2 emissions. On 13 July, emissions were detected in satellite imagery and a pilot reported a steam plume rising 600 m above Shishaldin and moving NW. On 15 July, the satellite-based Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) detected a small cloud rich in SO2 that originated from Shishaldin.

For the rest of July and the first half of August 2009, steaming was observed from Shishaldin's summit, when weather permitted. Thermal anomalies were also detected in satellite images during August; one example was on 16 August.

In mid-September 2009, pressure sensors at Shishaldin detected anomalous airwaves. According to McGimsey and others (2014), the airwaves could be indicative of minor explosions; however, in retrospective analysis of the data collected by the pressure sensors, the airwaves were found to be a common occurrence and linked to episodic gas bursts (examples of which were seen during 2003-2004).

On 19 October 2009, due to the continued absence of thermal anomalies, a decrease in steam emissions and seismicity considered within background levels, AVO lowered the ACC to Green and the Volcano Alert Level to Normal. Besides a weak thermal anomaly detected on 2 November, Shishaldin remained quiet for the remainder of 2009.

Non-eruptive interval during 2010-2013. AVO reported no unusual activity at Shishaldin between the years 2010 and 2013. In 2010, 2012 and 2013, AVO uploaded photos of Shishaldin, some of which showed the volcano emitting steam (figure 7).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 7. Photograph of Shishaldin emitting a steam plume on 14 September 2013. The photograph was taken from Korpiewski (2013).

Activity during January 2014-March 2015. According to AVO's website, increased activity was detected on 28 January 2014 at Shishaldin. A low-level lava eruption within the summit crater then began in March 2014 and continued through March 2015. In addition to the ongoing eruption, there were also instances of heightened activity, one such example occurring around 28 October 2014, after AVO noted several days of elevated tremor and stronger thermal anomalies.

AVO provides a description that synthesizes Shishaldin activity from late January 2014 through March 2015 on their website (as accessed on 1 May 2015). What follows is a quote of that description. For greater detail on activity during this interval, please see AVO's Weekly and Daily reports. Any information added to the quote by Bulletin editors has been [bracketed]. Bulletin editors also included pictures, depicting certain events that were described in the quote.

"On January 30, 2014, the Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the Volcano Alert Level to ADVISORY and the Aviation Color Code to YELLOW for Shishaldin, based on satellite observations of the previous days [figure 8]. Satellite observations included increased surface temperatures in the summit crater, as well as increased emissions of steam. Similar levels of unrest were last observed during 2009, and did not result in an eruption."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 8. Satellite image of Shishaldin on Unimak Island captured at 0838 UTC on 30 January 2014. The image shows the elevated surface temperatures in the summit crater of Shishaldin. According to the AVO caption for this image, "This mid-infrared image is scaled so that warm values are bright white and cold values (like high clouds are dark). The elevated surface temperatures are visible as the white pixels within the yellow circle that indicates the location of Shishaldin." Image was created by Dave Schneider and is courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory/ U.S. Geological Survey.

The quote of AVO's description of Shishaldin during January 2014 and March 2015 continues here:

"For the next week, persistent elevated surface temperatures were visible in satellite imagery of the summit crater during clear-weather intervals. On February 7, a possible volcanic cloud was observed in satellite images beginning around 1545 UTC (6:45 AKST). This cloud may have resulted from a small explosive event at the volcano. The event was small enough that it was not detected by the one working seismic station near the volcano, but it appears to coincide with a signal recorded by a nearby tiltmeter. Satellite images suggest that the cloud may have reached as high as [7.6 km above sea level], was ash-poor, and short-lived. There was no evidence of elevated surface temperatures observed in satellite data immediately following this event, suggesting it was primarily a gas event and very little to no hot material was produced or deposited on the flanks of the volcano.

"On March 19, elevated surface temperatures were again detected in satellite data, accompanied by ground-coupled airwaves seen in the seismic data. On March 28, after seeing persistent elevated surface temperatures since March 19, and continuing ground-couple airwaves, AVO data analysis showed temperatures in satellite images consistent with the eruption of lava within the summit crater. [The 28 March 2014 Volcanic Activity Notification (VAN) stated, 'The current activity appears to be confined to the deep summit crater and there have been no observations of lava on the flanks of the volcano or surrounding the summit crater.']

"During the week of April 11, minor ash deposits extending several hundreds of meters from the summit crater were observed in satellite imagery. Infrasound signals from Shishaldin were occasionally detected at sensors located at Dillingham [585 km to the NE] and Akutan Island [145 km to the SW].

"Throughout April, May, June, and July, elevated surface temperatures consistent with low-level eruptive activity in the summit crater were observed in satellite data, and small explosion signals were detected in seismic data. Occasional clear webcam views often showed minor steaming. An AVO overflight on August 10 showed hot, glowing material in the crater [figure 9]. On August 13, AVO received a pilot report of a low-level plume. [On 23 August, a pilot reported a steam-and-ash plume rose ~300 m above the summit and drifted NE.] Similar levels of activity continued throughout August, September, and October."

Figure (see Caption) Figure 9. Photograph of incandescent material within Shishaldin's steaming summit crater and steam being emitted. This aerial photograph was captured on 10 August 2014 and shows ash deposited on the snow (in the left of the photo). Photo was captured by Cyrus Read and is courtesy Alaska Volcano Observatory/ U.S. Geological Survey.

The final paragraphs of our quote of AVO's description of Shishaldin activity during January 2014 and March 2015 are below:

"On October 28, 2014, AVO noted an increase in intensity over the past several days, including elevated seismic tremor and stronger thermal anomalies. New deposits of ash and ballistics darkened the summit area, and the activity was also recorded on infrasound stations at Akutan and Dillingham. [On 26 October, clear webcam images revealed tephra deposits at the summit. The 28 October 2014 VAN stated that these new deposits indicated, '…the activity was energetic enough to eject material from a depth of several hundred meters (~600 ft) within the summit crater.'] This period of increased tremor lasted for several further days.

"On November 24, seismic activity at Shishaldin again increased, . . .. This increased seismicity declined by November 27, but remained above background. [AVO's 28 November 2014 Weekly Update said, 'Although the level of seismic activity has declined during the week, it is likely that a low-level lava eruption is ongoing within the summit crater of the volcano.'] Weak, but above background seismicity, along with weakly elevated crater surface temperatures, continued in December 2014 and January 2015.

"In late January 2015, strongly elevated temperatures were observed in satellite images, consistent with active lava within the crater. [AVO's 23 January 2015 Weekly Update stated, 'Activity [over the past week was] consistent with what we have observed at Shishaldin during the past several months, which includes lava effusion in the crater with occasional production of small amounts of ash restricted to the volcano's upper flanks.'] A wispy, low-level ash emission was observed in webcam images on February 2, 2015.

"Throughout February and March 2015, clear satellite views often show elevated surface temperatures at the crater, seismicity remained above background, and low-level steam emissions were frequently seen in webcam images. It is likely that low-level eruptive activity continued within the summit crater."

References. Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), Shishaldin reported activity, URL: https://www.avo.alaska.edu/volcanoes/volcact.php?volcname=Shishaldin, date accessed: 1 May 2015

Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), Shishaldin reported activity, Event specific information [for 2009], URL: https://www.avo.alaska.edu/volcanoes/activity.php?volcname=Shishaldin&page=basic&eruptionid=76, date accessed: 1 May 2015

Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), Shishaldin reported activity, Event specific information [for 2014], URL: https://www.avo.alaska.edu/volcanoes/activity.php?volcname=Shishaldin&page=basic&eruptionid=77, date accessed: 1 May 2015

Alaska Volcano Observatory/Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, 2009, URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=16190, date accessed: 1 May 2015

Korpiewski, J., U.S. Coast Guard, 2013, URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=57087, date accessed: 13 May 2015

McGimsey, R.G., Neal, C.A., Girina, O.A., Chibisova, Marina, and Rybin, Alexander, 2014, 2009 Volcanic activity in Alaska, Kamchatka, and the Kurile Islands - summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2013-5213, 125 p., URL: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2013/5213/

Read, C., Alaska Volcano Observatory/ U.S. Geological Survey, 2014, URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=66771, date accessed: 13 May 2015

Schneider, D., Alaska Volcano Observatory/ U.S. Geological Survey, 2014, URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/images/image.php?id=57691, date accessed: 13 May 2015.

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

Information Contacts: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of the U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508-4667, USA (URL: http://www.avo.alaska.edu/), the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, PO Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA, and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, 794 University Ave., Suite 200, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA; Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Alaska Aviation Weather Unit, and NWS NOAA US Dept of Commerce, 6930 Sand Lake Road, Anchorage, AK 99502-1845, USA (URL: http://vaac.arh.noaa.gov/).

Atmospheric Effects

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

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements  Obituaries

Misc Reports

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

Additional Reports  False Reports