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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

Sangay (Ecuador) Ash plumes, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars during July-December 2020; larger explosions in September

Ebeko (Russia) Continued explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall; June-November 2020

Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) Intermittent thermal anomalies and small eruptions in May and August 2020

Nyamuragira (DR Congo) Numerous thermal anomalies and gas emissions from the lava lake through November 2020

Raung (Indonesia) Explosions with ash plumes and a thermal anomaly at the summit crater, July-October 2020

Sinabung (Indonesia) Explosions begin again on 8 August 2020; dome growth confirmed in late September

Heard (Australia) Persistent thermal anomalies in the summit crater from June through October 2020

Sabancaya (Peru) Daily explosions produced ash plumes, SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies during June-September 2020

Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) Frequent small phreatic explosions with intermittent ash plumes during April-September 2020

Fuego (Guatemala) Daily explosions, ash emissions, and block avalanches during August-November 2020

Kikai (Japan) Explosion on 6 October 2020 and thermal anomalies in the crater

Manam (Papua New Guinea) Intermittent ash plumes, thermal anomalies, and SO2 emissions in April-September 2020



Sangay (Ecuador) — January 2021 Citation iconCite this Report

Sangay

Ecuador

2.005°S, 78.341°W; summit elev. 5286 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ash plumes, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars during July-December 2020; larger explosions in September

Sangay is one of the most active volcanoes in Ecuador with the current eruptive period continuing since 26 March 2019. Activity at the summit crater has been frequent since August 1934, with short quiet periods between events. Recent activity has included frequent ash plumes, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars. This report summarizes activity during July through December 2020, based on reports by Ecuador's Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), ash advisories issued by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), webcam images taken by Servicio Integrado de Seguridad ECU911, and various satellite data.

Overall activity remained elevated during the report period. Recorded explosions were variable during July through December, ranging from no explosions to 294 reported on 4 December (figure 80), and dispersing mostly to the W and SW. SO2 was frequently detected using satellite data (figure 81) and was reported several times to be emitting between about 770 and 2,850 tons/day. Elevated temperatures at the crater and down the SE flank were frequently observed in satellite data (figure 82), and less frequently by visual observation of incandescence. Seismic monitoring detected lahars associated with rainfall events remobilizing deposits emplaced on the flanks throughout this period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. A graph showing the daily number of explosions at Sangay recorded during July through December 2020. Several dates had no recorded explosions due to lack of seismic data. Data courtesy of IG-EPN (daily reports).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. Examples of stronger SO2 plumes from Sangay detected by the Sentinel 5P/TROPOMI instrument, with plumes from Nevado del Ruiz detected to the north. The image dates from left to right are 31 August 2020, 17 September 2020, 1 October 2020 (top row), 22 November 2020, 3 December 2020, 14 December 2020 (bottom row). Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. This log radiative power MIROVA plot shows thermal output at Sangay during February through December 2020. Activity was relatively constant with increases and decreases in both energy output and the frequency of thermal anomalies detected. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Activity during July-August 2020. During July activity continued with frequent ash and gas emission recorded through observations when clouds weren’t obstructing the view of the summit, and Washington VAAC alerts. There were between one and five VAAC alerts issued most days, with ash plumes reaching 570 to 1,770 m above the crater and dispersing mostly W and SE, and NW on two days (figure 83). Lahar seismic signals were recorded on the 1st, 7th, three on the 13th, and one on the 19th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Gas and ash plumes at Sangay during July 2020, at 0717 on the 17th, at 1754 on the 18th, and at 0612 on the 25th. Bottom picture taken from the Macas ECU 911 webcam. All images courtesy of IG-EPN daily reports.

During August there were between one and five VAAC alerts issued most days, with ash plumes reaching 600 to 2,070 m above the crater and predominantly dispersing W, SW, and occasionally to the NE, S, and SE (figure 84). There were reports of ashfall in the Alausí sector on the 24th. Using seismic data analysis, lahar signals were identified after rainfall on 1, 7, 11-14, and 21 August. A lava flow was seen moving down the eastern flank on the night of the 15th, resulting in a high number of thermal alerts. A pyroclastic flow was reported descending the SE flank at 0631 on the 27th (figure 85).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. This 25 August 2020 PlanetScope satellite image of Sangay in Ecuador shows an example of a weak gas and ash plume dispersing to the SW. Courtesy of Planet Labs.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. A pyroclastic flow descends the Sangay SE flank at 0631 on 27 August 2020. Webcam by ECU911, courtesy of courtesy of IG-EPN (27 August 2020 report).

Activity during September-October 2020. Elevated activity continued through September with two significant increases on the 20th and 22nd (more information on these events below). Other than these two events, VAAC reports of ash plumes varied between 1 and 5 issued most days, with plume heights reaching between 600 and 1,500 m above the crater. Dominant ash dispersal directions were W, with some plumes traveling SE, S, SE, NE, and NW. Lahar seismic signals were recorded after rainfall on 1, 2, 5, 8-10, 21, 24, 25, 27, and 30 September. Pyroclastic flows were reported on the 19th (figure 86), and incandescent material was seen descending the SE ravine on the 29th. There was a significant increase in thermal alerts reported throughout the month compared to the July-August period, and Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed a lava flow down the SE flank (figure 87).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Pyroclastic flows descended the flank of Sangay on 19 (top) and 20 (bottom) September 2020. Webcam images by ECU911 from the city of Macas, courtesy of IG-EPN (14 August 2018 report).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. The thermal signature of a lava flow is seen on SW flank of Sangay in this 8 September 2020 Sentinel-2 thermal satellite image, indicated by the white arrow. False color (urban) satellite image (bands 12, 11, 4) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Starting at 0420 on the morning of 20 September there was an increase in explosions and emissions recorded through seismicity, much more energetic than the activity of previous months. At 0440 satellite images show an ash plume with an estimated height of around 7 km above the crater. The top part of the plume dispersed to the E and the rest of the plume went W. Pyroclastic flows were observed descending the SE flank around 1822 (figure 88). Ash from remobilization of deposits was reported on the 21st in the Bolívar, Chimborazo, Los Ríos, Guayas and Santa Elena provinces. Ash and gas emission continued, with plumes reaching up to 1 km above the crater. There were seven VAAC reports as well as thermal alerts issued during the day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. An eruption of Sangay on 22 September 2020 produced a pyroclastic flow down the SE flank and an ash plume that dispersed to the SW. PlanetScope satellite image courtesy of Planet Labs.

Ash plumes observed on 22 September reached around 1 km above the crater and dispersed W to NW. Pyroclastic flows were seen descending the SE flank (figure 89) also producing an ash plume. A BBC article reported the government saying 800 km2 of farmland had experienced ashfall, with Chimborazo and Bolívar being the worst affected areas (figure 90). Locals described the sky going dark, and the Guayaquil was temporarily closed. Ash plume heights during the 20-22 were the highest for the year so far (figure 91). Ash emission continued throughout the rest of the month with another increase in explosions on the 27th, producing observed ash plume heights reaching 1.5 km above the crater. Ashfall was reported in San Nicolas in the Chimborazo Province in the afternoon of the 30th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. A pyroclastic flow descending the flank of Sangay on 22 September 2020. Webcam image by ECU911 from the city of Macas, courtesy of IG-EPN (Sangay Volcano Special Report - 2020 - No 5, 22 September 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 90. Ashfall from an eruption at Sangay on 22 September 2020 affected 800 km2 of farmland and nearby communities. Images courtesy of EPA and the Police of Ecuador via Reuters (top-right), all via the BBC.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. Ash plume heights (left graph) at Sangay from January through to late September, with the larger ash plumes during 20-22 September indicated by the red arrow. The dominant ash dispersal direction is to the W (right plot) and the average speed is 10 m/s. Courtesy of IG-EPN (Sangay Volcano Special Report - 2020 - No 5, 22 September 2020).

Thermal alerts increased again through October, with a lava flow and/or incandescent material descending the SE flank sighted throughout the month (figure 92). Pyroclastic flows were seen traveling down the SE flank during an observation flight on the 6th (figure 93). Seismicity indicative of lahars was reported on 1, 12, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, and 28 October associated with rainfall remobilizing deposits. The Washington VAAC released one to five ash advisories most days, noting plume heights of 570-3,000 m above the crater; prevailing winds dispersed most plumes to the W, with some plumes drifting NW, N, E to SE, and SW. Ashfall was reported in Alausí (Chimborazo Province) on the 1st and in Chunchi canton on the 10th. SO2 was recorded towards the end of the month using satellite data, varying between about 770 and 2,850 tons on the 24th, 27th, and 29th.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. A lava flow descends the SE flank of Sangay on 2 October 2020. Webcam images courtesy of ECU 911.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 93. A pyroclastic flow descends the Sangay SE flank was seen during an IG-EPN overflight on 6 October 2020. Photo courtesy of S. Vallejo, IG-EPN.

Activity during November-December 2020. Frequent ash emission continued through November with between one and five Washington VAAC advisories issued most days (figure 94). Reported ash and gas plume heights varied between 570 and 2,700 m above the crater, with winds dispersing plumes in all directions. Thermal anomalies were detected most days, and incandescent material from explosions was seen on the 26th. Seismicity indicating lahars was registered on nine days between 15 and 30 November, associated with rainfall events.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 94. Examples of gas and ash plumes at Sangay during November 2020. Webcam images were published in IG-EPN daily activity reports.

Lahar signals associated with rain events continued to be detected on ten out of the first 18 days of November. Ash emissions continued through December with one to five VAAC alerts issued most days. Ash plume heights varied from 600 to 1,400 m above the crater, with the prevailing wind direction dispersing most plumes W and SW (figure 95). Thermal anomalies were frequently detected and incandescent material was observed down the SE flank on the 3rd, 14th, and 30th, interpreted as a lava flow and hot material rolling down the flank. A webcam image showed a pyroclastic flow traveling down the SE flank on the 2nd (figure 96). Ashfall was reported on the 10th in Capzol, Palmira, and Cebadas parishes, and in the Chunchi and Guamote cantons.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 95. Examples of ash plumes at Sangay during ongoing persistent activity on 9, 10, and 23 December 2020. Webcam images courtesy of ECU 911.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 96. A nighttime webcam image shows a pyroclastic flow descending the SE flank of Sangay at 2308 on 2 December 2020. Image courtesy of ECU 911.

Geologic Background. The isolated Sangay volcano, located east of the Andean crest, is the southernmost of Ecuador's volcanoes and its most active. The steep-sided, glacier-covered, dominantly andesitic volcano grew within horseshoe-shaped calderas of two previous edifices, which were destroyed by collapse to the east, producing large debris avalanches that reached the Amazonian lowlands. The modern edifice dates back to at least 14,000 years ago. It towers above the tropical jungle on the east side; on the other sides flat plains of ash have been sculpted by heavy rains into steep-walled canyons up to 600 m deep. The earliest report of a historical eruption was in 1628. More or less continuous eruptions were reported from 1728 until 1916, and again from 1934 to the present. The almost constant activity has caused frequent changes to the morphology of the summit crater complex.

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofísico (IG-EPN), Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Casilla 17-01-2759, Quito, Ecuador (URL: http://www.igepn.edu.ec); ECU911, Servicio Integrado de Seguridad ECU911, Calle Julio Endara s / n. Itchimbía Park Sector Quito – Ecuador. (URL: https://www.ecu911.gob.ec/; Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/Ecu911Macas/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); BBC News “In pictures: Ash covers Ecuador farming land” Published 22 September 2020 (URL: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-54247797).


Ebeko (Russia) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Ebeko

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Continued explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall; June-November 2020

Volcanism at Ebeko, located on the N end of the Paramushir Island in the Kuril Islands, has been ongoing since October 2016, characterized by frequent moderate explosions, ash plumes, and ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk (7 km ESE) (BGVN 45:05). Similar activity during this reporting period of June through November 2020 continues, consisting of frequent explosions, dense ash plumes, and occasional ashfall. Information for this report primarily comes from the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT) and satellite data.

Activity during June was characterized by frequent, almost daily explosions and ash plumes that rose to 1.6-4.6 km altitude and drifted in various directions, according to KVERT reports and information from the Tokyo VAAC advisories using HIMAWARI-8 satellite imagery and KBGS (Kamchatka Branch of the Geophysical Service) seismic data. Satellite imagery showed persistent thermal anomalies over the summit crater. On 1 June explosions generated an ash plume up to 4.5 km altitude drifting E and S, in addition to several smaller ash plumes that rose to 2.3-3 km altitude drifting E, NW, and NE, according to KVERT VONA notices. Explosions on 11 June generated an ash plume that rose 2.6 km altitude and drifted as far as 85 km N and NW. Explosions continued during 21-30 June, producing ash plumes that rose 2-4 km altitude, drifting up to 5 km in different directions (figure 26); many of these eruptive events were accompanied by thermal anomalies that were observed in satellite imagery.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 26. Photo of a dense gray ash plume rising from Ebeko on 22 June 2020. Photo by L. Kotenko (color corrected), courtesy of IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

Explosions continued in July, producing ash plumes rising 2-5.2 km altitude and drifting for 3-30 km in different directions. On 3, 6, 15 July explosions generated an ash plume that rose 3-4 km altitude that drifted N, NE, and SE, resulting in ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk. According to a Tokyo VAAC advisory, an eruption on 4 July produced an ash plume that rose up to 5.2 km altitude drifting S. On 22 July explosions produced an ash cloud measuring 11 x 13 km in size and that rose to 3 km altitude drifting 30 km SE. Frequent thermal anomalies were identified in satellite imagery accompanying these explosions.

In August, explosions persisted with ash plumes rising 1.7-4 km altitude drifting for 3-10 km in multiple directions. Intermittent thermal anomalies were detected in satellite imagery, according to KVERT. On 9 and 22 August explosions sent ash up to 2.5-3 km altitude drifting W, S, E, and SE, resulting in ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk. Moderate gas-and-steam activity was reported occasionally during the month.

Almost daily explosions in September generated dense ash plumes that rose 1.5-4.3 km altitude and drifted 3-5 km in different directions. Moderate gas-and-steam emissions were often accompanied by thermal anomalies visible in satellite imagery. During 14-15 September explosions sent ash plumes up to 2.5-3 km altitude drifting SE and NE, resulting in ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk. On 22 September a dense gray ash plume rose to 3 km altitude and drifted S. The ash plume on 26 September was at 3.5 km altitude and drifted SE (figure 27).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 27. Photos of dense ash plumes rising from Ebeko on 22 (left) and 26 (right) September 2020. Photos by S. Lakomov (color corrected), IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

During October, near-daily ash explosions continued, rising 1.7-4 km altitude drifting in many directions. Intermittent thermal anomalies were identified in satellite imagery. During 7-8, 9-10, and 20-22 October ashfall was reported in Severo-Kurilsk.

Explosions in November produced dense gray ash plumes that rose to 1.5-5.2 km altitude and drifted as far as 5-10 km, mainly NE, SE, E, SW, and ENE. According to KVERT, thermal anomalies were visible in satellite imagery throughout the month. On clear weather days on 8 and 11 November Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed ashfall deposits SE of the summit crater from recent activity (figure 28). During 15-17 November explosions sent ash up to 3.5 km altitude drifting NE, E, and SE which resulted in ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk on 17 November. Similar ashfall was observed on 22-24 and 28 November due to ash rising to 1.8-3 km altitude (figure 29). Explosions on 29 November sent an ash plume up to 4.5 km altitude drifting E (figure 29). A Tokyo VAAC advisory reported that an ash plume drifting SSE on 30 November reached an altitude of 3-5.2 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 28. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery of a gray-white gas-and-ash plume at Ebeko on 8 (left) and 11 (right) November 2020, resulting in ashfall (dark gray) to the SE of the volcano. Images using “Natural Color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2), courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 29. Photos of continued ash explosions from Ebeko on 28 October (left) and 29 November (right) 2020. Photos by S. Lakomov (left) and L. Kotenko (right), courtesy of IVS FEB RAS, KVERT.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows a pulse in low-power thermal activity beginning in early June through early August (figure 30). On clear weather days, the thermal anomalies in the summit crater are observed in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery, accompanied by occasional white-gray ash plumes (figure 31). Additionally, the MODVOLC algorithm detected a single thermal anomaly on 26 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. A small pulse in thermal activity at Ebeko began in early June and continued through early August 2020, according to the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power). The detected thermal anomalies were of relatively low power but were persistent during this period. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed gray ash plumes rising from Ebeko on 11 June (top left) and 16 July (bottom left) 2020, accompanied by occasional thermal anomalies (yellow-orange) within the summit crater, as shown on 24 June (top right) and 25 August (bottom right). The ash plume on 11 June drifted N from the summit. Images using “Natural Color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) on 11 June (top left) and 16 July (bottom left) and the rest have “Atmospheric penetration” rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Kamchatka Branch of the Geophysical Service, Russian Academy of Sciences (KB GS RAS) (URL: http://www.emsd.ru/); 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).


Kuchinoerabujima (Japan) — November 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kuchinoerabujima

Japan

30.443°N, 130.217°E; summit elev. 657 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent thermal anomalies and small eruptions in May and August 2020

Kuchinoerabujima encompasses a group of young stratovolcanoes located in the northern Ryukyu Islands. All historical eruptions have originated from the Shindake cone, with the exception of a lava flow that originated from the S flank of the Furudake cone. The current eruptive period began in January 2020 and has been characterized by small explosions, ash plumes, ashfall, a pyroclastic flow, and gas-and-steam emissions. This report covers activity from May to October 2020, which includes small explosions, ash plumes, crater incandescence, and gas-and-steam emissions. The primary source of information for this report comes from monthly and annual reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and advisories from the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Volcanism at Kuchinoerabujima remained relatively low during May through October 2020, according to JMA. During this time, SO2 emissions ranged from 40 to 3,400 tons/day; occasional gas-and-steam emissions were reported, rising to a maximum of 900 m above the crater. Sentinel-2 satellite images showed a particularly strong thermal anomaly in the Shindake crater on 1 May (figure 10). The thermal anomaly decreased in power after 1 May and was only visible on clear weather days, which included 19 August and 3 and 13 October. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) observations identified continued slight inflation at the base of the volcano during the entire reporting period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 10. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showed a strong thermal anomaly (bright yellow-orange) in the Shindake crater at Kuchinoerabujima on 1 May 2020 (top left). Weaker thermal anomalies were also seen in the Shindake crater during 19 August (top right) and 3 (bottom left) and 13 (bottom right) October 2020. Sentinel-2 atmospheric penetration (bands 12, 11, 8A) images; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Three small eruptions were detected by JMA on 5, 6, and 13 May, which produced an ash plume rising 500 m above the crater on each day, resulting in ashfall on the downwind flanks. Incandescence was observed at night using a high-sensitivity surveillance camera (figure 11). On 5 and 13 May the Tokyo VAAC released a notice that reported ash plumes rising 0.9-1.2 km altitude, drifting NE and S, respectively. On 20 May weak fumaroles were observed on the W side of the Shindake crater. The SO2 emissions ranged from 700-3,400 tons/day.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 11. Webcam images of an eruption at Kuchinoerabujima on 6 May 2020 (top), producing a gray ash plume that rose 500 m above the crater. Crater incandescence was observed from the summit crater at night on 25 May 2020 (bottom). Courtesy of JMA (Monthly bulletin report 509, May 2020).

Activity during June and July decreased compared to May, with gas-and-steam emissions occurring more prominently. On 22 June weak incandescence was observed, accompanied by white gas-and-steam emissions rising 700 m above the crater. Weak crater incandescence was also seen on 25 June. The SO2 emissions measured 400-1,400 tons/day. White gas-and-steam emissions were again observed on 31 July rising to 800 m above the crater. The SO2 emissions had decreased during this time to 300-700 tons/day.

According to JMA, the most recent eruptive event occurred on 29 August at 1746, which ejected bombs and was accompanied by some crater incandescence, though the eruptive column was not visible due to the cloud cover. However, white gas-and-steam emissions could be seen rising 1.3 km above the Shindake crater drifting SW. The SO2 emissions measured 200-500 tons/day. During August, the number of volcanic earthquakes increased significantly to 1,032, compared to the number in July (36).

The monthly bulletin for September reported white gas-and-steam emissions rising 900 m above the crater on 9 September and on 11 October the gas-and-steam emissions rose 600 m above the crater. Seismicity decreased between September and October from 1,920 to 866. The SO2 emissions continued to decrease compared to previous months, totaling 80-400 tons/day in September and 40-300 tons/day in October.

Geologic Background. A group of young stratovolcanoes forms the eastern end of the irregularly shaped island of Kuchinoerabujima in the northern Ryukyu Islands, 15 km W of Yakushima. The Furudake, Shindake, and Noikeyama cones were erupted from south to north, respectively, forming a composite cone with multiple craters. All historical eruptions have occurred from Shindake, although a lava flow from the S flank of Furudake that reached the coast has a very fresh morphology. Frequent explosive eruptions have taken place from Shindake since 1840; the largest of these was in December 1933. Several villages on the 4 x 12 km island are located within a few kilometers of the active crater and have suffered damage from eruptions.

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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Nyamuragira (DR Congo) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Nyamuragira

DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E; summit elev. 3058 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Numerous thermal anomalies and gas emissions from the lava lake through November 2020

Nyamuragira (also known as Nyamulagira) is a shield volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with a 2 x 2.3 km caldera at the summit. A summit crater lies in the NE part of the caldera. In the recent past, the volcano has been characterized by intra-caldera lava flows, lava emissions from its lava lake, thermal anomalies, gas-and-steam emissions, and moderate seismicity (BGVN 44:12, 45:06). This report reviews activity during June-November 2020, based on satellite data.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed numerous thermal anomalies associated with the volcano during June-November 2020, although some decrease was noted during the last half of August and between mid-October to mid-November (figure 91). Between six and seven thermal hotspots per month were identified by MODVOLC during June-November 2020, with as many as 4 pixels on 11 August. In the MODVOLC system, two main hotspot groupings are visible, the largest being at the summit crater, on the E side of the caldera.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 91. MIROVA graph of thermal activity (log radiative power) at Nyamuragira during March 2020-January 2021. During June-November 2020, most were in the low to moderate range, with a decrease in power during November. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Sentinel-2 satellite images showed several hotspots in the summit crater throughout the reporting period (figure 92). By 26 July and thereafter, hotspots were also visible in the SW portion of the caldera, and perhaps just outside the SW caldera rim. Gas-and-steam emissions from the lava lake were also visible throughout the period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 92. Sentinel-2 satellite images of Nyamuragira on 26 July (left) and 28 November (right) 2020. Thermal activity is present at several locations within the summit crater (upper right of each image) and in the SW part of the caldera (lower left). SWIR rendering (bands 12, 8A, 4). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

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

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; 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/exp).


Raung (Indonesia) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Raung

Indonesia

8.119°S, 114.056°E; summit elev. 3260 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions with ash plumes and a thermal anomaly at the summit crater, July-October 2020

A massive stratovolcano in easternmost Java, Raung has over sixty recorded eruptions dating back to the late 16th Century. Explosions with ash plumes, Strombolian activity, and lava flows from a cinder cone within the 2-km-wide summit crater have been the most common activity. Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM) has installed webcams to monitor activity in recent years. An eruption from late 2014 through August 2015 produced a large volume of lava within the summit crater and formed a new pyroclastic cone in the same location as the previous one. The eruption that began in July 2020 is covered in this report with information provided by PVMBG, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and several sources of satellite data.

The 2015 eruption was the largest in several decades; Strombolian activity was reported for many months and fresh lava flows covered the crater floor (BGVN 45:09). Raung was quiet after the eruption ended in August of that year until July of 2020 when seismicity increased on 13 July and brown emissions were first reported on 16 July. Tens of explosions with ash emissions were reported daily during the remainder of July 2020. Explosive activity decreased during August, but thermal activity didn’t decrease until mid-September. The last ash emissions were reported on 3 October and the last thermal anomaly in satellite data was recorded on 7 October 2020.

Eruption during July-October 2020. No further reports of activity were issued after August 2015 until July 2020. Clear Google Earth imagery from October 2017 and April 2018 indicated the extent of the lava from the 2015 eruption, but no sign of further activity (figure 31). By August 2019, many features from the 2015 eruption were still clearly visible from the crater rim (figure 32).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Little change can be seen at the summit of Raung in Google Earth images dated 19 October 2017 (left) and 28 April 2018 (right). The summit crater was full of black lava flows from the 2015 eruption. Courtesy of Google Earth.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. A Malaysian hiker celebrated his climbing to the summit of Raung on 30 August 2019. Weak fumarolic activity was visible from the base of the breached crater of the cone near the center of the summit crater, and many features of the lava flow that filled the crater in 2015 were still well preserved. Courtesy of MJ.

PVMBG reported that the number and type of seismic events around the summit of Raung increased beginning on 13 July 2020, and on 16 July the height of the emissions from the crater rose to 100 m and the emission color changed from white to brown. About three hours later the emissions changed to gray and white. The webcams captured emissions rising 50-200 m above the summit that included 60 explosions of gray and reddish ash plumes (figure 33). The Raung Volcano Observatory released a VONA reporting an explosion with an ash plume that drifted N at 1353 local time (0653 UTC). The best estimate of the ash cloud height was 3,432 m based on ground observation. They raised the Aviation Color Code from unassigned to Orange. About 90 minutes later they reported a second seismic event and ash cloud that rose to 3,532 m, again based on ground observation. The Darwin VAAC reported that neither ash plume was visible in satellite imagery. The following day, on 17 July, PVMBG reported 26 explosions between midnight and 0600 that produced brown ash plumes which rose 200 m above the crater. Based on these events, PVMBG raised the Alert Level of Raung from I (Normal) to II (Alert) on a I-II-III-IV scale. By the following day they reported 95 explosive seismic events had occurred. They continued to observe gray ash plumes rising 100-200 m above the summit on clear days and 10-30 daily explosive seismic events through the end of July; plume heights dropped to 50-100 m and the number of explosive events dropped below ten per day during the last few days of the month.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. An ash plume rose from the summit of Raung on 16 July 2020 at the beginning of a new eruption. The last previous eruption was in 2015. Courtesy of Volcano Discovery and PVMBG.

After a long period of no activity, MIROVA data showed an abrupt return to thermal activity on 16 July 2020; a strong pulse of heat lasted into early August before diminishing (figure 34). MODVOLC thermal alert data recorded two alerts each on 18 and 20 July, and one each on 21 and 30 July. Satellite images showed no evidence of thermal activity inside the summit crater from September 2015 through early July 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery first indicated a strong thermal anomaly inside the pyroclastic cone within the crater on 19 July 2020; it remained on 24 and 29 July (figure 35). A small SO2 signature was measured by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite on 25 July.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. MIROVA thermal anomaly data indicated renewed activity on 16 July 2020 at Raung as seen in this graph of activity from 13 October 2019 through September 2020. Satellite images indicated that the dark lines at the beginning of the graph are from a large area of fires that burned on the flank of Raung in October 2019. Heat flow remained high through July and began to diminish in mid-August 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 35. Thermal anomalies were distinct inside the crater of the pyroclastic cone within the summit crater of Raung on 19, 24, and 29 July 2020. Data is from the Sentinel-2 satellite shown with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

After an explosion on 1 August 2020 emissions from the crater were not observed again until steam plumes were seen rising 100 m on 7 August. They were reported rising 100-200 m above the summit intermittently until a dense gray ash plume was reported by PVMBG on 11 August rising 200 m. After that, diffuse steam plumes no more than 100 m high were reported for the rest of the month except for white to brown emissions to 100 m on 21 August. Thermal anomalies of a similar brightness to July from the same point within the summit crater were recorded in satellite imagery on 3, 8, 13, 18, and 23 August. Single MODVOLC thermal alerts were reported on 1, 8, 12, and 19 August.

In early September dense steam plumes rose 200 m above the crater a few times but were mostly 50 m high or less. White and gray emissions rose 50-300 m above the summit on 15, 20, 27, and 30 September. Thermal anomalies were still present in the same spot in Sentinel-2 satellite imagery on 2, 7, 12, 17, and 27 September, although the signal was weaker than during July and August (figure 36). PVMBG reported gray emissions rising 100-300 m above the summit on 1 October 2020 and two seismic explosion events. Gray emissions rose 50-200 m the next day and nine explosions were recorded. On 3 October, emissions were still gray but only rose 50 m above the crater and no explosions were reported. No emissions were observed from the summit crater for the remainder of the month. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery showed a hot spot within the summit crater on 2 and 7 October, but clear views of the crater on 12, 17, and 22 October showed no heat source within the crater (figure 37).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 36. The thermal anomaly at Raung recorded in Sentinel-2 satellite data decreased in intensity between August and October 2020. It was relatively strong on 13 August (left) but had decreased significantly by 12 September (middle) and remained at a lower level into early October (right). Data shown with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground
Figure (see Caption) Figure 37. A small but distinct thermal anomaly was still present within the pyroclastic cone inside the summit crater of Raung on 7 October 2020 (left) but was gone by 12 October (middle) and did not reappear in subsequent clear views of the crater through the end of October. Satellite imagery of 7 and 12 October processed with Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A). Natural color rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) from 17 October (right) shows no clear physical changes to the summit crater during the latest eruption. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Raung, one of Java's most active volcanoes, is a massive stratovolcano in easternmost Java that was constructed SW of the rim of Ijen caldera. The unvegetated summit is truncated by a dramatic steep-walled, 2-km-wide caldera that has been the site of frequent historical eruptions. A prehistoric collapse of Gunung Gadung on the W flank produced a large debris avalanche that traveled 79 km, reaching nearly to the Indian Ocean. Raung contains several centers constructed along a NE-SW line, with Gunung Suket and Gunung Gadung stratovolcanoes being located to the NE and W, respectively.

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/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); 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/); Google Earth (URL: https://www.google.com/earth/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Tom Pfeiffer, Volcano Discovery (URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/); MJ (URL: https://twitter.com/MieJamaludin/status/1167613617191043072).


Sinabung (Indonesia) — November 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Sinabung

Indonesia

3.17°N, 98.392°E; summit elev. 2460 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosions begin again on 8 August 2020; dome growth confirmed in late September

Indonesia’s Sinabung volcano in north Sumatra has been highly active since its first confirmed Holocene eruption during August and September 2010. It remained quiet after the initial eruption until September 2013, when a new eruptive phase began that continued through June 2018. A summit dome emerged in late 2013 and produced a large lava “tongue” during 2014. Multiple explosions produced ash plumes, block avalanches, and deadly pyroclastic flows during the eruptive period. A major explosion in February 2018 destroyed most of the summit dome. After a pause in eruptive activity from September 2018 through April 2019, explosions resumed during May and June 2019. The volcano was quiet again until an explosion on 8 August 2020 began another eruption that included a new dome. This report covers activity from July 2019 through October 2020 with information provided by Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), referred to by some agencies as CVGHM or the Indonesian Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and the Badan Nacional Penanggulangan Bencana (National Disaster Management Authority, BNPB). Additional information comes from satellite instruments and local news reports.

Only steam plumes and infrequent lahars were reported at Sinabung during July 2019-July 2020. A new eruption began on 8 August 2020 with a phreatic explosion and dense ash plumes. Repeated explosions were reported throughout August; ashfall was reported in many nearby communities several times. Explosions decreased significantly during September, but SO2 emissions persisted. Block avalanches from a new growing dome were first reported in early October; pyroclastic flows accompanied repeated ash emissions during the last week of the month. Thermal data suggested that the summit dome continued growing slowly during October.

Activity during July 2019-October 2020. After a large explosion on 9 June 2019, activity declined significantly, and no further emissions or incandescence was reported after 25 June (BGVN 44:08). For the remainder of 2019 steam plumes rose 50-400 m above the summit on most days, occasionally rising to 500-700 m above the crater. Lahars were recorded by seismic instruments in July, August, September, and December. During January-July 2020 steam plumes were reported usually 50-300 m above the summit, sometimes rising to 500 m. On 21 March 2020 steam plumes rose to 700 m, and a lahar was recorded by seismic instruments. Lahars were reported on 26 and 28 April, 3 and 5 June, and 11 July.

A swarm of deep volcanic earthquakes was reported by PVMBG on 7 August 2020. This was followed by a phreatic explosion with a dense gray to black ash plume on 8 August that rose 2,000 m above the summit and drifted E; a second explosion that day produced a plume that rose 1,000 m above the summit. According to the Jakarta Post, ash reached the community of Berastagi (15 km E) along with the districts of Naman Teran (5-10 km NE), Merdeka (15 km NE), and Dolat Rayat (20 km E). Continuous tremor events were first recorded on 8 August and continued daily until 26 August. Two explosions were recorded on 10 August; the largest produced a dense gray ash plume that rose 5,000 m above the summit and drifted NE and SE (figure 77). The Darwin VAAC reported the eruption clearly visible in satellite imagery at 9.7 km altitude and drifting W. Later they reported a second plume drifting ESE at 4.3 km altitude. After this large explosion the local National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) reported significant ashfall in three districts: Naman Teran, Berastagi and Merdeka. Emissions on 11 and 12 August were white and gray and rose 100-200 m. Multiple explosions on 13 August produced white and gray ash plumes that rose 1,000-2,000 m above the summit. Explosions on 14 August produced gray and brown ash plumes that rose 1,000-4,200 m above the summit and drifted S and SW (figure 77). The Darwin VAAC reported that the ash plume was partly visible in satellite imagery at 7.6 km altitude moving W; additional plumes were moving SE at 3.7 km altitude and NE at 5.5 km altitude.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Numerous explosions were recorded at Sinabung during August 2020. An ash plume rose to 5,000 m above the summit on 10 August (left) and drifted both NE and SE. On 14 August gray and brown ash plumes rose 1,000-4,200 m above the summit and drifted S, SW, SE and NE (right) while ashfall covered crops SE of the volcano. Courtesy of PVMBG (Sinabung Eruption Notices, 10 and 14 August 2020).

White, gray, and brown emissions rose 800-1,000 m above the summit on 15 and 17 August. The next day white and gray emissions rose 2,000 m above the summit. The Darwin VAAC reported an ash plume visible at 5.2 km altitude drifting SW. A large explosion on 19 August produced a dense gray ash plume that rose 4,000 above the summit and drifted S and SW. Gray and white emissions rose 500 m on 20 August. Two explosions were recorded seismically on 21 August, but rainy and cloudy weather prevented observations. White steam plumes rose 300 m on 22 August, and a lahar was recorded seismically. On 23 August, an explosion produced a gray ash plume that rose 1,500 m above the summit and pyroclastic flows that traveled 1,000 m down the E and SE flanks (figure 78). Continuous tremors were accompanied by ash emissions. White, gray, and brown emissions rose 600 m on 24 August. An explosion on 25 August produced an ash plume that rose 800 m above the peak and drifted W and NW (figure 79). During 26-30 August steam emissions rose 100-400 m above the summit and no explosions were recorded. Dense gray ash emissions rose 1,000 m and drifted E and NE after an explosion on 31 August. Significant SO2 emissions were associated with many of the explosions during August (figure 80).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. On 23 August 2020 an explosion at Sinabung produced a gray ash plume that rose 1,500 m above the summit and produced pyroclastic flows that traveled 1,000 m down the E and SE flanks. Courtesy of PVMBG (Sinabung Eruption Notice, 23 August 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 79. An explosion on 25 August 2020 at Sinabung produced an ash plume that rose 800 m above the peak and drifted W and NW. Courtesy of PVMBG (Sinabung Eruption Notice, 25 August 2020).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 80. Significant sulfur dioxide emissions were measured at Sinabung during August 2020 when near-daily explosions produced abundant ash emissions. A small plume was also recorded from Kerinci on 19 August 2020. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Explosive activity decreased substantially during September 2020. A single explosion reported on 5 September produced a white and brown ash plume that rose 800 m above the summit and drifted NNE. During the rest of the month steam emissions rose 50-500 m above the summit before dissipating. Two lahars were reported on 7 September, and one each on 11 and 30 September. Although only a single explosion was reported, anomalous SO2 emissions were present in satellite data on several days.

The character of the activity changed during October 2020. Steam plumes rising 50-300 m above the summit were reported during the first week and a lahar was recorded by seismometers on 4 October. The first block avalanches from a new dome growing at the summit were reported on 8 October with material traveling 300 m ESE from the summit (figure 81). During 11-13 October block avalanches traveled 300-700 m E and SE from the summit. They traveled 100-150 m on 14 October. Steam plumes rising 50-500 m above the summit were reported during 15-22 October with two lahars recorded on 21 October. White and gray emissions rose 50-1,000 m on 23 October. The first of a series of pyroclastic flows was reported on 25 October; they were reported daily through the end of the month when the weather permitted, traveling 1,000-2,500 m from the summit (figure 82). In addition, block avalanches from the growing dome were observed moving down the E and SE flanks 500-1,500 m on 25 October and 200-1,000 m each day during 28-31 October (figure 83). Sentinel-2 satellite data indicated a very weak thermal anomaly at the summit in late September; it was slightly larger in late October, corroborating with images of the slow-growing dome (figure 84).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 81. A new lava dome appeared at the summit of Sinabung in late September 2020. Block avalanches from the dome were first reported on 8 October. Satellite imagery indicating a thermal anomaly at the summit was very faint at the end of September and slightly stronger by the end of October. The dome grew slowly between 30 September (top) and 22 October 2020 (bottom). Photos taken by Firdaus Surbakti, courtesy of Rizal.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 82. Pyroclastic flows at Sinabung were accompanied ash emissions multiple times during the last week of October, including the event seen here on 27 October 2020. Courtesy of PVMBG and CultureVolcan.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Block avalanches from the growing summit dome at Sinabung descended the SE flank on 28 October 2020. The dome is visible at the summit. Courtesy of PVMBG and MAGMA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. A very faint thermal anomaly appeared at the summit of Sinabung in Sentinel 2 satellite imagery on 28 September 2020 (left). One month later on 28 October the anomaly was bigger, corroborating photographic evidence of the growing dome. Atmospheric penetration rendering (bands 12, 11, 8A) courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Gunung Sinabung is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano with many lava flows on its flanks. The migration of summit vents along a N-S line gives the summit crater complex an elongated form. The youngest crater of this conical andesitic-to-dacitic edifice is at the southern end of the four overlapping summit craters. The youngest deposit is a SE-flank pyroclastic flow 14C dated by Hendrasto et al. (2012) at 740-880 CE. An unconfirmed eruption was noted in 1881, and solfataric activity was seen at the summit and upper flanks in 1912. No confirmed historical eruptions were recorded prior to explosive eruptions during August-September 2010 that produced ash plumes to 5 km above the summit.

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/); Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), National Disaster Management Agency, Graha BNPB - Jl. Scout Kav.38, East Jakarta 13120, Indonesia (URL: http://www.bnpb.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); The Jakarta Post, 3rd Floor, Gedung, Jl. Palmerah Barat 142-143 Jakarta 10270 (URL: https://www.thejakartapost.com/amp/news/2020/08/08/mount-sinabung-erupts-again-after-year-of-inactivity.html);Rizal (URL: https://twitter.com/Rizal06691023/status/1319452375887740930); CultureVolcan (URL: https://twitter.com/CultureVolcan/status/1321156861173923840).


Heard (Australia) — November 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Heard

Australia

53.106°S, 73.513°E; summit elev. 2745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Persistent thermal anomalies in the summit crater from June through October 2020

The remote Heard Island is located in the southern Indian Ocean and contains the Big Ben stratovolcano, which has had intermittent activity since 1910. The island’s activity, characterized by thermal anomalies and occasional lava flows (BGVN 45:05), is primarily monitored by satellite instruments. This report updates activity from May through October 2020 using information from satellite-based instruments.

MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data showed frequent thermal activity in early June that continued through July (figure 43). Intermittent, slightly higher-power thermal anomalies were detected in late August through mid-October, the strongest of which occurred in October. Two of these anomalies were also detected in the MODVOLC algorithm on 12 October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. A small pulse in thermal activity at Heard was detected in early June and continued through July 2020, according to the MIROVA system (Log Radiative Power). Thermal anomalies appeared again starting in late August and continued intermittently through mid-October 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed a single thermal anomaly on 3 May. In comparison to the MIROVA graph, satellite imagery showed a small pulse of strong thermal activity at the summit of Big Ben in June (figure 44). Some of these thermal anomalies were accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions. Persistent strong thermal activity continued through July. Starting on 2 July through at least 17 July two hotspots were visible in satellite imagery: one in the summit crater and one slightly to the NW of the summit (figure 45). Some gas-and-steam emissions were seen rising from the S hotspot in the summit crater. In August the thermal anomalies had decreased in strength and frequency but persisted at the summit through October (figure 45).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Thermal satellite images of Heard Island’s Big Ben volcano showed strong thermal signatures (bright yellow-orange) sometimes accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions drifting SE (top left) and NE (bottom right) during June 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. Thermal satellite images of Heard Island’s Big Ben volcano showed persistent thermal anomalies (bright yellow-orange) near the summit during July through October 2020. During 14 (top left) and 17 (top right) July a second hotspot was visible NW of the summit. By 22 October (bottom right) the thermal anomaly had significantly decreased in strength in comparison to previous months. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Heard Island on the Kerguelen Plateau in the southern Indian Ocean consists primarily of the emergent portion of two volcanic structures. The large glacier-covered composite basaltic-to-trachytic cone of Big Ben comprises most of the island, and the smaller Mt. Dixon lies at the NW tip of the island across a narrow isthmus. Little is known about the structure of Big Ben because of its extensive ice cover. The historically active Mawson Peak forms the island's high point and lies within a 5-6 km wide caldera breached to the SW side of Big Ben. Small satellitic scoria cones are mostly located on the northern coast. Several subglacial eruptions have been reported at this isolated volcano, but observations are infrequent and additional activity may have occurred.

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).


Sabancaya (Peru) — October 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Sabancaya

Peru

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Daily explosions produced ash plumes, SO2 plumes, and thermal anomalies during June-September 2020

Sabancaya, located in Peru, is a stratovolcano that has been very active since 1986. The current eruptive period began in November 2016 and has recently been characterized by lava dome growth, daily explosions, ash plumes, ashfall, SO2 plumes, and ongoing thermal anomalies (BGVN 45:06). Similar activity continues into this reporting period of June through September 2020 using information from weekly reports from the Observatorio Vulcanologico INGEMMET (OVI), the Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP), and various satellite data. The Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) issued a total of 520 reports of ongoing ash emissions during this time.

Volcanism during this reporting period consisted of daily explosions, nearly constant gas-and-ash plumes, SO2 plumes, and persistent thermal anomalies in the summit crater. Gas-and-ash plumes rose to 1.5-4 km above the summit crater, drifting up to 35 km from the crater in multiple directions; several communities reported ashfall every month except for August (table 7). Sulfur dioxide emissions were notably high and recorded almost daily with the TROPOMI satellite instrument (figure 83). The satellite measurements of the SO2 emissions exceeded 2 DU (Dobson Units) at least 20 days each month of the reporting period. These SO2 plumes sometimes persisted over multiple days and ranged between 1,900-10,700 tons/day. MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) analysis of MODIS satellite data shows frequent thermal activity through September within 5 km of the summit crater, though the power varied; by late August, the thermal anomalies were stronger compared to the previous months (figure 84). This increase in power is also reflected by the MODVOLC algorithm that detected 11 thermal anomalies over the days of 31 August and 4, 6, 13, 17, 18, 20, and 22 September 2020. Many of these thermal hotspots were visible in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery, occasionally accompanied by gas-and-steam and ash plumes (figure 85).

Table 7. Persistent activity at Sabancaya during June through September included multiple daily explosions that produced ash plumes rising several kilometers above the summit and drifting in multiple directions; this resulted in ashfall in communities within 35 km of the volcano. Satellite instruments recorded daily SO2 emissions. Data courtesy of OVI-INGEMMET, IGP, and the NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.

Month Avg. daily explosions by week Max plume heights (km above the crater) Plume drift (km) and direction Communities reporting ashfall Minimum days with SO2 over 2 DU SO2 emissions per day (tons) by week
Jun 2020 20, 10, 9, 13 1.5-4 30 km, SE, S, SW, NE, W, E Chivay, Achoma, Ichupampa, Yanque, and Coporaque, Sallali, Madrigal, Lari, and Ichupampa 28 8,400, 2,200, 3,100, 7,600
Jul 2020 20, 15, 11, 12, 19 2-2.6 15-30 km E, NE, NW, SE, SW, S, W Achoma and Chivay 23 4,400, 6,000, 1,900, 2,100, 5,900
Aug 2020 18, 12, 9, 29 1.7-3.6 20-30 km W, SW, SE, S, E, NW - 20 2,300, 3,800, 5,300, 10,700
Sep 2020 39, 35, 33, 38, 40 1.8-3.5 25-35 km SE, S, SW, W, E, NE, N, NW, W Lari, Achoma, Maca, Chivay, Taya, Huambo, Huanca, and Lluta 28 9,700, 2,600, 8,800, 7,800, 4,100
Figure (see Caption) Figure 83. Sulfur dioxide plumes were captured almost daily from Sabancaya during June through September 2020 by the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite. Some of the largest SO2 plumes occurred on 19 June (top left), 5 July (top right), 30 August (bottom left), and 10 September (bottom right) 2020. Courtesy of NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Thermal activity at Sabancaya varied in power from 13 October 2019 through September 2020, but was consistent in frequency, according to the MIROVA graph (Log Radiative Power). A pulse in thermal activity is shown in late August 2020. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery showed frequent gas-and-steam and ash plumes rising from Sabancaya, accompanied by ongoing thermal activity from the summit crater during June through September 2020. On 23 June (top left) a dense gray-white ash plume was visible drifting E from the summit. On 3 July (top right) and 27 August (bottom left) a strong thermal hotspot (bright yellow-orange) was accompanied by some degassing. On 1 September (bottom right) the thermal anomaly persisted with a dense gray-white ash plume drifting SE from the summit. Images using “Natural Color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2) on 23 June 2020 (top left) and the rest have “Atmospheric penetration” rendering (bands 12, 11, 8a). Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

OVI detected slight inflation on the N part of the volcano, which continued to be observed throughout the reporting period. Persistent thermal anomalies caused by the summit crater lava dome were observed in satellite data. The average number of daily explosions during June ranged from 18 during 1-7 June to 9 during 15-21 June, which generated gas-and-ash plumes that rose 1.5-4 km above the crater and drifted 30 km SE, S, SW, NE, W, and E (figure 86). The strongest sulfur dioxide emissions were recorded during 1-7 June measuring 8,400 tons/day. On 20 June drone video showed that the lava dome had been destroyed, leaving blocks on the crater floor, though the crater remained hot, as seen in thermal satellite imagery (figure 85). During 22-28 June there were an average of 13 daily explosions, which produced ash plumes rising to a maximum height of 4 km, drifting NE, E, and SE. As a result, ashfall was reported in the districts of Chivay, Achoma, Ichupampa, Yanque, and Coporaque, and in the area of Sallali. Then, on 27 June ashfall was reported in several areas NE of the volcano, which included the districts of Madrigal, Lari, Achoma, Ichupampa, Yanque, Chivay, and Coporaque.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Multiple daily explosions at Sabancaya produced ash plumes that rose 1.5-4 km above the crater during June 2020. Images are showing 8 (left) and 27 (right) June 2020. Courtesy of OVI (Reporte Semanal de Monitorio de la Actividad de la Volcan Sabancaya, RSSAB-24-2020/INGEMMET Semana del 08 al 14 de junio del 2020 and RSSAB-26-2020/INGEMMET Semana del 22 al 28 de junio del 2020).

Slight inflation continued to be monitored in July, occurring about 4-6 km N of the crater, as well as on the SE flank. Daily explosions continued, producing gas-and-ash plumes that rose 2-2.6 km above the crater and drifting 15-30 km E, NE, NW, SE, SW, S, and W (figure 87). The number of daily explosions increased slightly compared to the previous month, ranging from 20 during 1-5 July to 11 during 13-19 July. SO2 emissions that were measured each week ranged from 1,900 to 6,000 tons/day, the latter of which occurred during 6-12 July. Thermal anomalies continued to be observed in thermal satellite data over the summit crater throughout the month. During 6-12 July gas-and-ash plumes rose 2.3-2.5 km above the crater, drifting 30 km SE, E, and NE, resulting in ashfall in Achoma and Chivay.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Multiple daily explosions at Sabancaya produced ash plumes that rose 2-3.5 km above the crater during July 2020. Images are showing 7 (left) and 26 (right) July 2020. Courtesy of OVI (Reporte Semanal de Monitorio de la Actividad de la Volcan Sabancaya, RSSAB-28-2020/INGEMMET Semanal: del 06 al 12 de julio del 2020 and RSSAB-30-2020/INGEMMET Semanal: del 20 al 26 de julio del 2020).

OVI reported continued slight inflation on the N and SE flanks during August. Daily explosive activity had slightly declined in the first part of the month, ranging from 18 during the 3-9 August to 9 during 17-23 August. Dense gray gas-and-ash plumes rose 1.7-3.6 km above the crater, drifting 20-30 km in various directions (figure 88), though no ashfall was reported. Thermal anomalies were observed using satellite data throughout the month. During 24-30 August a pulse in activity increased the daily average of explosions to 29, as well as the amount of SO2 emissions (10,700 tons/day); nighttime incandescence accompanied this activity. During 28-29 August higher levels of seismicity and inflation were reported compared to the previous weeks. The daily average of explosions increased again during 31 August-6 September to 39; nighttime incandescence remained.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 88. Multiple daily explosions at Sabancaya produced ash plumes that rose 1.7-3.6 km above the crater during August 2020. Images are showing 1 (left) and 29 (right) August 2020. Courtesy of OVI (Reporte Semanal de Monitorio de la Actividad de la Volcan Sabancaya, RSSAB-31-2020/INGEMMET Semanal del 27 de julio al 02 de agosto del 2020 and RSSAB-35-2020/INGEMMET Semanal del 24 al 30 de agosto del 2020).

Increased volcanism was reported during September with the daily average of explosions ranging from 33 during 14-20 September to 40 during 28 September-4 October. The resulting gas-and-ash plumes rose 1.8-3.5 km above the crater drifting 25-35 km in various directions (figure 89). SO2 flux was measured by OVI ranging from 2,600 to 9,700 tons/day, the latter of which was recorded during 31 August to 6 September. During 7-13 September an average of 35 explosions were reported, accompanied by gas-and-ash plumes that rose 2.6-3.5 km above the crater and drifting 30 km SE, SW, W, E, and S. These events resulted in ashfall in Lari, Achoma, and Maca. The following week (14-20 September) ashfall was reported in Achoma and Chivay. During 21-27 September the daily average of explosions was 38, producing ash plumes that resulted in ashfall in Taya, Huambo, Huanca, and Lluta. Slight inflation on the N and SE flanks continued to be monitored by OVI. Strong activity, including SO2 emissions and thermal anomalies over the summit crater persisted into at least early October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 89. Multiple daily explosions at Sabancaya produced ash plumes that rose 1.8-2.6 km above the crater during September 2020. Images are showing 4 (left) and 27 (right) September 2020. Courtesy of OVI (Reporte Semanal de Monitorio de la Actividad de la Volcan Sabancaya, RSSAB-36-2020/INGEMMET Semanal del 31 de agosto al 06 de septiembre del 2020 and RSSAB-39-2020/INGEMMET Semanal del 21 al 27 de septiembre del 2020).

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

Information Contacts: Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico), Barrio Magisterial Nro. 2 B-16 Umacollo - Yanahuara Arequipa, Peru (URL: http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe); Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP), Calle Badajoz N° 169 Urb. Mayorazgo IV Etapa, Ate, Lima 15012, Perú (URL: https://www.gob.pe/igp); 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); 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).


Rincon de la Vieja (Costa Rica) — October 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Rincon de la Vieja

Costa Rica

10.83°N, 85.324°W; summit elev. 1916 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Frequent small phreatic explosions with intermittent ash plumes during April-September 2020

Rincón de la Vieja is a remote volcanic complex in Costa Rica that contains an acid lake. Frequent weak phreatic explosions have occurred since 2011 (BGVN 44:08). The most recent eruption period began in January 2020, which consisted of small phreatic explosions, gas-and-steam plumes, pyroclastic flows, and lahars (BGVN 45:04). This reporting period covers April through September 2020, with activity characterized by continued small phreatic explosions, three lahars, frequent gas-and-steam plumes, and ash plumes. The primary source of information for this report is the Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA) using weekly bulletins and the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC).

Small, frequent, phreatic explosions were common at Rincón de la Vieja during this reporting period. One to several eruptions were reported on at least 16 days in April, 15 days in May, 8 days in June, 10 days in July, 18 days in August, and 13 days in September (table 5). Intermittent ash plumes accompanied these eruptions, rising 100-3,000 m above the crater and drifting W, NW, and SW during May and N during June. Occasional gas-and-steam plumes were also observed rising 50-2,000 m above the crater rim.

Table 5. Monthly summary of activity at Rincón de la Vieja during April through September 2020. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Month Minimum total days of eruptions Ash plume height (m above the crater) Notable plume drift Gas-and-steam plume height (m above the crater)
Apr 2020 16 200-1,000 - 50-1,500
May 2020 15 200-3,000 W, NW, SW 200-2,000
Jun 2020 8 100-2,000 N -
Jul 2020 10 1,000 - -
Aug 2020 18 500-1,000 - 500
Sep 2020 13 700 - 50

During April small explosions were detected almost daily, some of which generated ash plumes that rose 200-1,000 m above the crater and gas-and-steam emissions that rose 50-1,500 m above the crater. On 4 April an eruption at 0824 produced an ash plume that rose 1 km above the crater rim. A small hydrothermal explosion at 0033 on 11 April, recorded by the webcam in Sensoria (4 km N), ejected water and sediment onto the upper flanks. On 15 April a phreatic eruption at 0306 resulted in lahars in the Pénjamo, Azufrada, and Azul rivers, according to local residents. Several small explosions were detected during the morning of 19 April; the largest phreatic eruption ejected water and sediment 300 m above the crater rim and onto the flanks at 1014, generated a lahar, and sent a gas-and-steam plume 1.5 km above the crater (figure 30). On 24 April five events were recorded by the seismic network during the morning, most of which produced gas-and-steam plumes that rose 300-500 m above the crater. The largest event on this day occurred at 1020, ejecting water and solid material 300 m above the crater accompanied by a gas-and-steam plume rising up to 1 km.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 30. Webcam image of small hydrothermal eruptions at Rincón de la Vieja on 19 April 2020. Image taken by the webcam in Dos Ríos de Upala; courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Similar frequent phreatic activity continued in May, with ash plumes rising 200-1,500 m above the crater, drifting W, NW, and SW, and gas-and-steam plumes rising up to 2 km. On 5 May an eruption at 1317 produced a gas-and-steam plume 200 m above the crater and a Washington VAAC advisory reported that an ash plume rose to 2.1 km altitude, drifting W. An event at 1925 on 9 May generated a gas-and-steam plume that rose almost 2 km. An explosion at 1128 on 15 May resulted in a gas-and-steam plume that rose 1 km above the crater rim, accompanied by a gray, sediment-laden plume that rose 400 m. On 21 May a small ash eruption at 0537 sent a plume 1 km above the crater (figure 31). According to a Washington VAAC advisory, an ash plume rose 3 km altitude, drifting NW on 22 May. During the early evening on 25 May an hour-long sequence of more than 70 eruptions and emissions, according to OVSICORI-UNA, produced low gas-and-steam plumes and tephra; at 1738, some ejecta was observed above the crater rim. The next day, on 26 May, up to 52 eruptive events were observed. An eruption at 2005 was not visible due to weather conditions; however, it resulted in a minor amount of ashfall up to 17 km W and NW, which included Los Angeles of Quebrada Grande and Liberia. A phreatic explosion at 1521 produced a gray plume that rose 1.5 km above the crater (figure 31). An eruption at 1524 on 28 May sent an ash plume 3 km above the crater that drifted W, followed by at least three smaller eruptions at 1823, 1841, and 1843. OVSICORI-UNA reported that volcanism began to decrease in frequency on 28-29 May. Sulfur dioxide emissions ranged between 100 and 400 tons per day during 28 May to 15 June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Webcam images of gray gas-and-steam and ash emissions at Rincón de la Vieja on 21 (left), and 27 (right) May 2020. Both images taken by the webcam in Dos Ríos de Upala and Sensoria; courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

There were eight days with eruptions in June, though some days had multiple small events; phreatic eruptions reported on 1-2, 13, 16-17, 19-20, and 23 June generated plumes 1-2 km above the crater (figure 32). During 2-8 June SO2 emissions were 150-350 tons per day; more than 120 eruptions were recorded during the preceding weekend. Ashfall was observed N of the crater on 4 June. During 9-15 June the SO2 emissions increased slightly to 100-400 tons per day. During 16-17 June several small eruptive events were detected, the largest of which occurred at 1635 on 17 June, producing an ash plume that rose 1 km above the crater.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Webcam images of gray gas-and-steam and ash plumes rising from Rincón de la Vieja on 1 (top left), 2 (top right), 7 (bottom left), and 13 (bottom right) June 2020. The ash plume on 1 June rose between 1.5 and 2 km above the crater. The ash plume on 13 June rose 1 km above the crater. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Explosive hydrothermal activity was lower in June-September compared to January-May 2020, according to OVSICORI-UNA. Sporadic small phreatic explosions and earthquakes were registered during 22-25 and 29 July-3 August, though no lahars were reported. On 25 July an eruptive event at 0153 produced an ash plume that rose 1 km above the crater. Similar activity continued into August. On 5 and 6 August phreatic explosions were recorded at 0546 and 0035, respectively, the latter of which generated a plume that rose 500 m above the crater. These events continued to occur on 10, 16, 19-20, 22-25, 27-28, and 30-31 August, generating plumes that rose 500 m to 1 km above the crater.

On 3 September geologists observed that the acid lake in the main crater had a low water level and exhibited strong gas emissions; vigorous fumaroles were observed on the inner W wall of the crater, measuring 120°C. Gas-and-steam emissions continued to be detected during September, occasionally accompanied by phreatic eruptions. On 7 September an eruption at 0750 produced an ash plume that rose 50 m above the crater while the accompanying gas-and-steam plume rose 500 m. Several low-energy phreatic explosions occurred during 8-17, 20, and 22-28 September, characterized primarily by gas-and-steam emissions. An eruption on 16 September ejected material from the crater and generated a small lahar. Sulfur dioxide emissions were 100 tons per day during 16-21 September. On 17 September an eruption at 0632 produced an ash plume that rose 700 m above the crater (figure 33). A relatively large eruptive event at 1053 on 22 September ejected material out of the crater and into N-flank drainages.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. Webcam image of an eruption plume rising above Rincón de la Vieja on 17 September 2020. Courtesy of OVSICORI-UNA.

Geologic Background. Rincón de la Vieja, the largest volcano in NW Costa Rica, is a remote volcanic complex in the Guanacaste Range. The volcano consists of an elongated, arcuate NW-SE-trending ridge constructed within the 15-km-wide early Pleistocene Guachipelín caldera, whose rim is exposed on the south side. Sometimes known as the "Colossus of Guanacaste," it has an estimated volume of 130 km3 and contains at least nine major eruptive centers. Activity has migrated to the SE, where the youngest-looking craters are located. The twin cone of Santa María volcano, the highest peak of the complex, is located at the eastern end of a smaller, 5-km-wide caldera and has a 500-m-wide crater. A Plinian eruption producing the 0.25 km3 Río Blanca tephra about 3,500 years ago was the last major magmatic eruption. All subsequent eruptions, including numerous historical eruptions possibly dating back to the 16th century, have been from the prominent active crater containing a 500-m-wide acid lake located ENE of Von Seebach crater.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanologico Sismologica de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA), Apartado 86-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica (URL: http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/, https://www.facebook.com/OVSICORI/); 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).


Fuego (Guatemala) — December 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Fuego

Guatemala

14.473°N, 90.88°W; summit elev. 3763 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Daily explosions, ash emissions, and block avalanches during August-November 2020

Guatemala's Volcán de Fuego has been erupting vigorously since 2002 with reported eruptions dating back to 1531. These eruptions have resulted in major ashfalls, pyroclastic flows, lava flows, and damaging lahars, including a series of explosions and pyroclastic flows in early June 2018 that caused several hundred fatalities. Eruptive activity consisting of explosions with ash emissions, block avalanches, and lava flows began again after a short break and has continued; activity during August-November 2020 is covered in this report. Daily reports are provided by the Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH); aviation alerts of ash plumes are issued by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). Satellite data provide valuable information about heat flow and emissions.

Summary of activity during August-November 2020. Eruptive activity continued at Fuego during August-November 2020, very similar to that during the first part of the year (table 22). Ash emissions were reported daily by INSIVUMEH with explosions often in the 6-12 per hour range. Most of the ash plumes rose to 4.5-4.7 km altitude and generally drifted SW, W, or NW, although rarely the wind direction changed and sent ash to the S and SE. Multiple daily advisories were issued throughout the period by the Washington VAAC warning aviators about ash plumes, which were often visible on the observatory webcam (figure 136). Some of the communities located SW of the volcano received ashfall virtually every day during the period. Block avalanches descended the major drainages daily as well. Sounds were heard and vibrations felt from the explosions most days, usually 7-12 km away. The stronger explosions could be felt and heard 20 km or more from the volcano. During late August and early September a lava flow was active on the SW flank, reaching 700 m in length during the second week of September.

Table 22. Eruptive activity was consistently high at Fuego throughout August – November 2020 with multiple explosions every hour, ash plumes, block avalanches, and near-daily ashfall in the communities in certain directions within 10-20 km of the volcano. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH daily reports.

Month Explosions per hour Ash Plume Heights (km) Ash plume distance (km) and direction Drainages affected by block avalanches Communities reporting ashfall
Aug 2020 2-15 4.3-4.8 SW, W, NW, S, N, 8-20 km Seca, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, Honda, Santa Teresa Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Rochela, Finca Palo Verde, Yepocapa, Santa Sofia, El Porvenir, Palo Verde, Sangre de Cristo, Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa
Sep 2020 3-16 4.3-4.9 W, SW, NW, N, S, 8-20 km Seca, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, Honda, Santa Teresa Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Santa Sofía, Finca Palo Verde, Sangre de Cristo, Yepocapa, Porvenir, Yucales, Ojo de Agua, Finca La Conchita
Oct 2020 3-19 4.1-4.8 SW, W, S, SE, N, E, 10-20 km Seca, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, Honda, Santa Teresa Panimache I and II, Morelia, Sangre de Cristo, Yepocapa, La Rochela, El Porvenir, Ceilán, Santa Sofía, Yucales, Finca Palo Verde
Nov 2020 4-14 4.0-4.8 S, SW, SE, W, NW, 10-35 km Seca, Taniluya, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, Honda, Santa Teresa El Jute Panimaché I and II, Sangre de Cristo, Morelia, Ceilan, La Rochela, El Zapote, Santa Sofía, Yucales, San Juan Alotenango, Ciudad Vieja, San Miguel Dueñas y Antigua Guatemala, Palo Verde, El Porvenir, San Pedro Yepocapa, Quisaché, Santa Emilia
Figure (see Caption) Figure 136. Consistent daily ash emissions produced similar looking ash plumes at Fuego during August-November 2020. Plumes usually rose to 4.5-4.8 km altitude and drifted SW. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

The frequent explosions, block avalanches, and lava flows produced a strong thermal signal throughout the period that was recorded in both the MIROVA project Log Radiative Power graph (figure 137) and in numerous Sentinel-2 satellite images (figure 138). MODVOLC data produced thermal alerts 4-6 days each month. At least one lahar was recorded each month; they were most frequent in September and October.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 137. The MIROVA graph of activity at Fuego for the period from 15 January through November 2020 suggested persistent moderate to high-level heat flow for much of the time. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 138. Atmospheric penetration rendering of Sentinel-2 satellite images (bands 12, 11, 8A) of Fuego during August-November 2020 showed continued thermal activity from block avalanches, explosions, and lava flows at the summit and down several different ravines. Courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during August-November 2020. The number of explosions per hour at Fuego during August 2020 was most often 7-10, with a few days that were higher at 10-15. The ash plumes usually rose to 4.5-4.8 km altitude and drifted SW or W up to 15 km. Incandescence was visible 100-300 m above the summit crater on most nights. All of the major drainages including the Seca, Santa Teresa, Ceniza, Trinidad, Taniluyá, Las Lajas, and Honda were affected by block avalanches virtually every day. In addition, the communities of Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Santa Sofía, Finca Palo Verde, El Porvenir, San Pedro Yepocapa, and Sangre de Cristo reported ashfall almost every day. Sounds and vibrations were reported multiple days every week, often up to 12 km from the volcano, but occasionally as far as 20 km away. Lahars carrying blocks of rocks and debris 1-2 m in diameter descended the SE flank in the Las Lajas and Honda ravines on 6 August. On 27 August a lava flow 150 m long appeared in the Ceniza ravine. It increased in length over the subsequent few days, reaching 550 m long on 30 August, with frequent block avalanches falling off the front of the flow.

The lava flow in the Ceniza ravine was reported at 100 m long on 5 September. It grew to 200 m on 7 September and reached 700 m long on 12 September. It remained 200-350 m long through 19 September, although instruments monitored by INSIVUMEH indicated that effusive activity was decreasing after 16 September (figure 139). A second flow was 200 m long in the Seca ravine on 19 September. By 22 September, active flows were no longer observed. The explosion rate varied from a low of 3-5 on 1 September to a high of 12-16 on 4, 13, 18, and 22-23 September. Ash plumes rose to 4.5-4.9 km altitude nearly every day and drifted W, NW, and SW occasionally as far as 20 km before dissipating. In addition to the active flow in the Ceniza ravine, block avalanches persisted in the other ravines throughout the month. Ashfall continued in the same communities as in August, but was also reported in Yucales on 4 September along with Ojo de Agua and Finca La Conchita on 17 September. The Las Lajas, Honda, and El Jute ravines were the sites of lahars carrying blocks up to 1.5 m in diameter on 8 and 18 September. On 19 and 24 September lahars again descended Las Lajas and El Jute ravines; the Ceniza ravine had a lahar on 19 September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 139. Avalanche blocks descended the Ceniza ravine (left) and the Las Lajas ravine (right) at Fuego on 17 September 2020. The webcam that captured this image is located at Finca La Reunión on the SE flank. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (BOLETÍN VULCANOLÓGICO ESPECIAL BEVFGO # 76-2020, 18 de septiembre de 2020, 14:30 horas).

The same activity continued during October 2020 with regard to explosion rates, plume altitudes, distances, and directions of drift. All of the major ravines were affected by block avalanches and the same communities located W and SW of the summit reported ashfall. In addition, ashfall was reported in La Rochela on 2, 3, 7-9 and 30 October, in Ceilán on 3 and 7-9 October, and in Yucales on 5, 14, 18 and 19 October. Multiple strong explosions with abundant ash were reported in a special bulletin on 14 October; high levels of explosive activity were recorded during 16-23 October. Vibrations and sounds were often felt up to 15 km away and heard as far as 25 km from the volcano during that period. Particularly strong block avalanches were present in the Seca and Ceniza ravines on 20, 25, and 30 October. Abundant rain on 9 October resulted in lahars descending all of the major ravines. The lahar in the Las Lajas ravine overflowed and forced the closure of route RN-14 road affecting the community of San Miguel on the SE flank (figure 140). Heavy rains on 15 October produced lahars in the Ceniza, Las Lajas, and Hondas ravines with blocks up to 2 m in diameter. Multiple lahars on 27 October affected Las Lajas, El Jute, and Honda ravines.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 140. Heavy rains on 9 October 2020 at Fuego caused lahars in all the major ravines. Debris from Las Lajas ravine overflowed highway RN-14 near the community of San Miguel on the SE flank, the area devastated by the pyroclastic flow of June 2018. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH (BEFGO #96 VOLCAN DE FUEGO- ZONA CERO RN-14, SAN MIGUEL LOS LOTES y BARRANCA LAS LAJAS, 09 de octubre de 2020).

On 8 November 2020 a lahar descended the Seca ravine, carrying rocks and debris up to 1 meter in diameter. During the second week of November 2020, the wind direction changed towards the SE and E and brought ashfall to San Juan Alotenango, Ciudad Vieja, San Miguel Dueñas, and Antigua Guatemala on 8 November. Especially strong block avalanches were noted in the Seca and Ceniza ravines on 14, 19, 24, and 29 November. During a period of stronger activity in the fourth week of November, vibrations were felt and explosions heard more than 20 km away on 22 November and more than 25 km away on 27 November. In addition to the other communities affected by ashfall during August-November, Quisaché and Santa Emilia reported ashfall on 30 November.

Geologic Background. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is also one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between Fuego and Acatenango to the north. Construction of Meseta dates back to about 230,000 years and continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Collapse of Meseta may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km onto the Pacific coastal plain. Growth of the modern Fuego volcano followed, continuing the southward migration of volcanism that began at the mostly andesitic Acatenango. Eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.

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/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground);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/); 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).


Kikai (Japan) — November 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Kikai

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Explosion on 6 October 2020 and thermal anomalies in the crater

Kikai is a mostly submarine caldera, 19-km-wide, just S of the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. At the NW rim of the caldera lies the island of Satsuma Iwo Jima (also known as Satsuma-Iojima and Tokara Iojima), and the island’s highest peak, Iodake, a steep stratovolcano. Recent weak ash explosions at Iodake occurred on 2 November 2019 and 29 April 2020 (BGVN 45:02, 45:05). The volcano is monitored by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and satellite sensors. This report covers the period May-October 2020. During this time, the Alert Level remained at 2 (on a 5-level scale).

Activity at Kikai has been relatively low since the previous eruption on 29 April 2020. During May through October occasional white gas-and-steam emissions rose 0.8-1.3 km above the Iodake crater, the latter of which was recorded in September. Emissions were intermittently accompanied by weak nighttime incandescence, according to JMA (figure 17).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 17. White gas-and-steam emissions rose 1 km above the crater at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 25 May (top) 2020. At night, occasional incandescence could be seen in the Iodake crater, as seen on 29 May (bottom) 2020. Both images taken by the Iwanoue webcam. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, May 2nd year of Reiwa [2020]).

A small eruption at 0757 on 6 October occurred in the NW part of the Iodake crater, which produced a grayish white plume rising 200 m above the crater (figure 18). Faint thermal anomalies were detected in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery in the days just before this eruption (28 September and 3 October) and then after (13 and 23 October), accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions (figures 19 and 20). Nighttime crater incandescence continued to be observed. JMA reported that sulfur dioxide emissions measured 700 tons per day during October, compared to the previous eruption (400-2,000 tons per day in April 2020).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 18. Webcam images of the eruption at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 6 October 2020 that produced an ash plume rising 200 m above the crater (top). Nighttime summit crater incandescence was also observed (bottom). Images were taken by the Iwanoue webcam. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 2nd year of Reiwa [2020]).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 19. Weak thermal hotspots (bright yellow-orange) were observed at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) during late September through October 2020. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 20. Webcam image of a white gas-and-steam plume rising 1.1 km above the crater at Satsuma Iwo Jima (Kikai) on 27 October 2020. Image was taken by the Iwanoue webcam. Courtesy of JMA (An explanation of volcanic activity at Satsuma Iwo Jima, October 2nd year of Reiwa [2020]).

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Manam (Papua New Guinea) — October 2020 Citation iconCite this Report

Manam

Papua New Guinea

4.08°S, 145.037°E; summit elev. 1807 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Intermittent ash plumes, thermal anomalies, and SO2 emissions in April-September 2020

Manam, located 13 km off the N coast of Papua New Guinea, is a basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano with historical eruptions dating back 400 years. Volcanism has been characterized by low-level ash plumes, occasional Strombolian activity, lava flows, pyroclastic avalanches, and large ash plumes from Main and South, the two active summit craters. The current eruption period has been ongoing since 2014, typically with minor explosive activity, thermal activity, and SO2 emissions (BGVN 45:05). This reporting period updates information from April through September 2020, consisting of intermittent ash plumes from late July to mid-September, persistent thermal anomalies, and SO2 emissions. Information comes from Papua New Guinea's Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), part of the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), and various satellite data.

Explosive activity was relatively low during April through late July; SO2 emissions and low power, but persistent, thermal anomalies were detected by satellite instruments each month. The TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite recorded SO2 emissions, many of which exceeded two Dobson Units, that drifted generally W (figure 76). Distinct SO2 emissions were detected for 10 days in April, 4 days in May, 10 days in June, 4 days in July, 11 days in August, and 8 days in September.

Thermal anomalies recorded by the MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity) system were sparse from early January through June 2020, totaling 11 low-power anomalies within 5 km of the summit (figure 77). From late July through September a pulse in thermal activity produced slightly stronger and more frequent anomalies. Some of this activity could be observed in Sentinel-2 thermal satellite imagery (figure 78). Occasionally, these thermal anomalies were accompanied by gas-and-steam emissions or ash plumes, as shown on 28 July. On 17 August a particularly strong hotspot was detected in the S summit crater. According to the MODVOLC thermal alert data, a total of 10 thermal alerts were detected in the summit crater over four days: 29 July (5), 16 August (1), and 3 (1) and 8 (3) September.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 76. Distinct sulfur dioxide plumes rising from Manam and drifting generally W were detected using data from the TROPOMI instrument on the Sentinel-5P satellite on 28 April (top left), 24 May (top right), 16 July (bottom left), and 12 September (bottom right) 2020. Courtesy of the NASA Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 77. Intermittent thermal activity at Manam increased in power and frequency beginning around late July and continuing through September 2020, as shown on the MIROVA Log Radiative Power graph. Courtesy of MIROVA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 78. Sentinel-2 thermal satellite images showing a persistent thermal anomaly (yellow-orange) at Manam’s summit craters (Main and South) each month during April through August; sometimes they were seen in both summit craters, as shown on 8 June (top right), 28 July (bottom left), and 17 August (bottom right). A particularly strong anomaly was visible on 17 August (bottom right). Occasional gas-and-steam emissions accompanied the thermal activity. Sentinel-2 satellite images with “Atmospheric penetration” (bands 12, 11, 8A) rendering; courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Activity during mid-July slightly increased compared to the previous months. On 16 July seismicity increased, fluctuating between low and moderate RSAM values through the rest of the month. In Sentinel-2 satellite imagery a gray ash plume was visible rising from the S summit crater on 28 July (figure 78). RSAM values gradually increased from a low average of 200 to an average of 1200 on 30 July, accompanied by thermal hotspots around the summit crater; a ground observer reported incandescent material was ejected from the summit. On 31 July into 1 August ash plumes rose to 4.3 km altitude, accompanied by an incandescent lava flow visible at the summit, according to a Darwin VAAC advisory.

Intermittent ash plumes continued to be reported by the Darwin VAAC on 1, 6-7, 16, 20, and 31 August. They rose from 2.1 to 4.6 km altitude, the latter of which occurred on 31 August and drifted W. Typically, these ash plumes extended SW, W, NW, and WSW. On 11 September another ash plume was observed rising 2.4 km altitude and drifting W.

Geologic Background. The 10-km-wide island of Manam, lying 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, is one of the country's most active volcanoes. Four large radial valleys extend from the unvegetated summit of the conical basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks. These valleys channel lava flows and pyroclastic avalanches that have sometimes reached the coast. Five small satellitic centers are located near the island's shoreline on the northern, southern, and western sides. Two summit craters are present; both are active, although most observed eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE valley. Frequent eruptions, typically of mild-to-moderate scale, have been recorded since 1616. Occasional larger eruptions have produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached flat-lying coastal areas and entered the sea, sometimes impacting populated areas.

Information Contacts: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).

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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