Logo link to homepage

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

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

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


Recently Published Bulletin Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Nyiragongo

DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E; summit elev. 3470 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Lava lake persists during June-November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Geologic Background. One of Africa's most notable volcanoes, Nyiragongo contained a lava lake in its deep summit crater that was active for half a century before draining catastrophically through its outer flanks in 1977. The steep slopes of a stratovolcano contrast to the low profile of its neighboring shield volcano, Nyamuragira. Benches in the steep-walled, 1.2-km-wide summit crater mark levels of former lava lakes, which have been observed since the late-19th century. Two older stratovolcanoes, Baruta and Shaheru, are partially overlapped by Nyiragongo on the north and south. About 100 parasitic cones are located primarily along radial fissures south of Shaheru, east of the summit, and along a NE-SW zone extending as far as Lake Kivu. Many cones are buried by voluminous lava flows that extend long distances down the flanks, which is characterized by the eruption of foiditic rocks. The extremely fluid 1977 lava flows caused many fatalities, as did lava flows that inundated portions of the major city of Goma in January 2002.

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


Ebeko (Russia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Ebeko

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Planet Labs, Inc. (URL: https://www.planet.com/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).


Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Nevado del Ruiz

Colombia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Servicio Geologico Colombiano (SGC), Diagonal 53 No. 34-53 - Bogotá D.C., Colombia (URL: https://www2.sgc.gov.co/volcanes/index.html); Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales (URL: https://www.facebook.com/ovsmanizales); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS OSPO, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://so2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Sabancaya (Peru) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Sabancaya

Peru

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP), Calle Badajoz N° 169 Urb. Mayorazgo IV Etapa, Ate, Lima 15012, Perú (URL: https://www.gob.pe/igp); Observatorio Volcanologico del INGEMMET (Instituto Geológical Minero y Metalúrgico), Barrio Magisterial Nro. 2 B-16 Umacollo - Yanahuara Arequipa, Peru (URL: http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) - MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://SO2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Servicio Meteorológico Nacional-Fuerza Aérea Argentina, 25 de mayo 658, Buenos Aires, Argentina (URL: http://www.smn.gov.ar/vaac/buenosaires/inicio.php); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Karangetang (Indonesia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Karangetang

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Ulawun

Papua New Guinea

5.05°S, 151.33°E; summit elev. 2334 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO), Geohazards Management Division, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM), PO Box 3386, Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea; Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Global Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring Page, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: https://SO2.gsfc.nasa.gov/); Christopher Lagisa, West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea (URL: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.lagisa, images posted at https://www.facebook.com/christopher.lagisa/posts/730662937360239 and https://www.facebook.com/christopher.lagisa/posts/730215604071639).


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

Nyamuragira

DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E; summit elev. 3058 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Departement de Geophysique, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, D.S. Bukavu, DR Congo; Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sergio Maguna (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sergio.maguna.9, images posted at https://www.facebook.com/sergio.maguna.9/posts/1267625096730837).


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

Bagana

Papua New Guinea

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground); Brendan McCormick Kilbride, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom (URL: https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/brendan.mccormickkilbride.html, Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrendanVolc); Kieran Wood, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1QU, United Kingdom (URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/engineering/people/kieran-t-wood/index.html, Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrKieranWood, video posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7Hx645v0eU); University of Bristol Flight Laboratory, Bristol BS8 1QU, United Kingdom (Twitter: https://twitter.com/UOBFlightLab).


Kerinci (Indonesia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Kerinci

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

Kerinci, located in Sumatra, Indonesia, is a highly active volcano characterized by explosive eruptions with ash plumes and gas-and-steam emissions. The most recent eruptive episode began in April 2018 and included intermittent explosions with ash plumes. Volcanism continued from June-November 2019 with ongoing intermittent gas-and-steam and ash plumes. The primary source of information for this report comes from Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and MAGMA Indonesia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bezymianny (Russia) — December 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Bezymianny

Russia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Kamchatka Volcanic Eruptions Response Team (KVERT), Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/); Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (IVS FEB RAS), 9 Piip Blvd., Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky 683006, Russia (URL: http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/eng/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).


Mayon (Philippines) — November 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Mayon

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Merapi (Indonesia) — October 2019 Citation iconCite this Report

Merapi

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Search Bulletin Archive by Publication Date

Select a month and year from the drop-downs and click "Show Issue" to have that issue displayed in this tab.

   

The default month and year is the latest issue available.

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 40, Number 02 (February 2015)

Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman

Asosan (Japan)

Ongoing emissions leading to a larger, late-2014 eruption with ashfall

Etna (Italy)

Strombolian eruptions, ash emissions, and new effusive vents through February 2015

Fournaise, Piton de la (France)

June 2014 and February 2015 eruptions

Popocatepetl (Mexico)

During November 2012-December 2014, ongoing exhalations and explosions



Asosan (Japan) — February 2015 Citation iconCite this Report

Asosan

Japan

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Ongoing emissions leading to a larger, late-2014 eruption with ashfall

This report summarizes behavior at Naka-dake (Nakadake) crater at Asosan (Aso, Aso-san) caldera chiefly during January 2014-February 2015. During this reporting interval Naka-dake continued to emit gas, steam, and small ash plumes. A larger eruption took place starting 25 November 2014, causing ashfall and glowing emissions. This closed a local airport, and triggered hundreds of reports on ash plumes for the aviation community by the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). That eruption continued through 2014. The eruption went on into 2015 but was generally described as intermittent during late December 2014 through at least the end of February 2015. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale increasing from 1 to 5) for the duration of the reporting interval. Our last report, BGVN 37:08, described the emission of ash plumes and other behavior during May-June 2011. Some remarks in this report also refer to earlier behavior, for example, a short subsection includes what JMA recorded as important in a terse summary of 2011.

Eruption details were extracted and synthesized mainly from Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) sources. JMA frequently communicated with the Tokyo VAAC about Asosan's eruptive status. This report also discusses Volcano Ash Advisories (VAAs) issued by the JMA's Tokyo VAAC. For many of the VAAs, evidence of ash-bearing plumes reported by JMA could not be reliably detected in the satellite images. For example, the images were sometimes obscured by overlying weather-cloud cover. The plumes were also generally only rising to a few kilometers in altitude. In at least some cases, the low plumes appeared bent by high winds.

Naka-daka Crater Number 1 remained the active vent for the most part during the past eight decades. That same pattern held true during this reporting interval when myriad small eruptions, often to or below 1 km above the crater rim were documented. Visibility was sometimes impaired but monitoring instrumentation confirmed a pattern of ongoing eruption. In some cases, the eruption was not clearly seen but fresh ash was recorded. Webcameras regularly documented incandescence both in the crater and onto the crater rim. Smaller ash plumes were too numerous to mention except in occasional cases. High winds were often mentioned, which may have bearing on restricting plume heights.

Location and brief background. Asosan is located on the S of the main island of Japan (Honshu) on the island of Kyushu (figure 31).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 31. Location maps showing (circular 'global' inset) Japan, and (larger map) the location of Asosan (Aso) on Kyushu island. Taken from The Daily Mail news article issued on 28 November 2014 (Malm, 2014).

The rim of Nake-dake is unusually developed for such an active volcano. Both a road and cable car carry tourists there. Shelter dugouts are provided around the crater. The Aso Volcano Museum is located nearby. Figure 32, made from radar imagery, shows Asosan's morphology.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. Morphology of the Asosan caldera seen in shaded relief (color scale for elevations absent). N is towards the top; the N-S cross-caldera distance is ~25 km. Note the central highlands, a series of ~17 post-caldera cones that includes the active Nake-dake and its Crater Number 1. The caldera's topographic boundary is distinct on all sides but a drainage has breached the W side. This caldera vented four sets of massive eruptive deposits (pyroclastic-flows and associated ash-falls; Miyabuchi, 2013; Fujii, 2001). Source: Wikipedia (from a Nasa Shuttle Radar Topography Mission).

JMA (2013) includes a map showing the location of 12 calderas in Japan. Asosan, the largest and most active, has had many small eruptions in the past few thousand years, including many witnessed eruptions in the interval of recorded history. Spica (2013) discusses Aso in the context of other calderas in the Kyushu region.

Figure 33 shows a shaded-relief map focusing on the post-caldera cones in the central highland area.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 33. A shaded relief map of the elevated central area (post-caldera cones and their craters) of the Aso caldera, adding naming labels in English of some of the main features. As seen in the previous figure, the caldera floor (moat) is outside and encircling this central topographic high. Both conventional topographic and a digital elevation map (50 m grid) were used to make this map, which was published by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. Source: JMA (2013).

JMA's website features this summary on Asosan.

"Asosan (Aso Volcano) comprises the Aso caldera and post-caldera central cones. The Aso caldera, 25 km north-south and 18 km east-west in diameter, was formed by four gigantic pyroclastic-flow eruptions from approximately 270,000 to 90,000 years ago. Post-caldera central cones were initiated soon after the last caldera-forming eruption, producing not only local lava flows but also voluminous tephra layers which fell far beyond the caldera. Nakadake Volcano, which is the only active central cone of basaltic andesite to basalt [composition], is one of the most active volcanoes in Japan. The active crater of Nakadake Volcano is a composite of seven craterlets aligned N-S [elongate zone of depressions to the left of the label "Nakadake" and above the letter 't' in the label "Nakadake-Crater" on figure 33; see also SEAN 04:07 for a sketch map focused on this area)]. Only the northernmost [Nakadake] crater (No. 1 crater) has been active in the past 80 years, although some others were active before the 1933 eruption. The Nakadake No. 1 crater is occupied by a hyperacidic crater lake during its calm periods. During active periods, its volcanic activity is characterized by ash and strombolian eruptions and phreatic or phreatomagmatic explosions."

According to Fujii and others (2001), "Aso caldera in central Kyushu, Japan, is one of the largest calderas in the world and covers an area of 380 km2. In late Pleistocene time, eruptions of voluminous pyroclastic flows occurred intermittently, resulting in formation of the caldera. The Aso pyroclastic-flow deposits are divided into four major units, i.e. Aso-1, Aso-2, Aso-3, and Aso-4 . . . [and] welded tuffs of these units are widely distributed in central Kyushu, and are generally well suited for paleomagnetic research . . .. K-Ar ages for Aso-1, Aso-2, Aso-3, and Aso-4 have been determined to be 266 ± 14 ka, 141 ± 5 ka, 123 ± 6 ka, and 89 ± 7 ka, respectively (Matsumoto and others, 1991)."

JMA summary for 2011 activity. JMA (2013) tabulated a summary of witnessed events (eruptions, possible eruptions, damage, significant behavior, etc.) at Asosan going back to the year 553. In the most recent behavior discussed, the authors briefly note that during 2011 (an interval they term Heisei 23) the following behavior occurred.

First, after the Mw ~9 Tohoku earthquake ~70 km off the Pacific coast on 11 March 2011, earthquakes temporarily increased roughly 10 km to the NW of the active crater. Second, very small emissions of gray-white volcanic ash occurred during 15 May to 9 June 2011. On 15 May a very small amount of tephra fall was confirmed at Sensuikyo, ~2 km to the NE of the Nakadake Number 1 crater.

2014 Activity. JMA reporting for 13 January 2014 noted the emission of a very small eruption. This came in the wake of increased tremor in late December 2013 and an increase in hazard status to Alert Level 2. (As previously mentioned, the Level remained at 2 for the duration of the reporting interval.) Further escalation in tremor took place on 2 January. On 10 January emissions reached 1,200 metric tons/day (t/d) of sulfur-dioxide (SO2). The 13 January 2014 eruption took place at Naka-dake, which emitted a grayish-white plume that rose to 600 m that traveled S and deposited traces of ash. The resulting report from the Tokyo VAAC (a Volcanic Ash Advisory (VAA)) stating they failed to detect identifiable ash in the plume data captured on satellite images.

The small 13 January 2014 eruption triggered the first Asosan VAA in over a year. The other VAAs during January 2014 were issued on the 27th, 29th, 30th, and 31st. On one of those days, two VAAs were issued, and thus, for January there were 6 VAAs.

Bulletin editors note that the VAAs are not a linear measure of the number of eruptions. Small eruptions may not trigger a VAA at all. Several consecutive VAAs may occur associated with a single potentially larger eruption, which are issued in an effort to track an ash plume. Again, this may be an example where the number of VAAs is not reflective of the number of eruptions. Despite this, the number of VAAs are easily counted owing to new online archives. The Tokyo VAACs online presentation system is tablular in nature and is thus well suited to enable a count of reports per month.

The tally for VAAs on Asosan during 2013 was zero. The tally for 2014 involved 171 VAAs. Monthly totals for 2014 are as follows: January, 6; February, 3; March-July, 0; August, 3; September, 2; October, 0; November, 25; and December, 132. For further comparison, the tally for January and February 2015 involved 250 VAAs, with January, 132, and February, 118.

JMA reported that seismicity increased from 21 to 23 January 2014, and then decreased on 24 January. On 23 January a volcanologist observed ash plumes rising from the central vent on the crater floor. On 29 January an ash plume reported by a pilot rose to 2.7 km altitude and drifted NW. Later that day a plume rose to an altitude of 1.5 km and drifted N. JMA reported that a very small Asosan explosion occurred on 31 January. An off-white plume rose 100 m above the crater rim and drifted S.

On 5 February 2014 scientists measured decreased SO2 emissions and fewer volcanic earthquakes.

According to the Tokyo VAAC during 30 August-1 September 2014 eruptions continuously emitted ash plumes that rose to heights of 1.2-2.1 km drifting N and NE. For example, on 1 and 6 September eruptions emitting trace amounts of ash sent plumes 600 m above the rim. (Tokyo VAAC issued VAAs stating this plume lacked identifiable ash in available satellite images.) JMA instrument surveys established SO2 flux rates on 21 August of 1,000 t/d, and in early September of 1,200 tons/day. Counts tallying daily volcano-tectonic earthquakes (and cases of tremor) were made during 1-4 September occurring in the range 48-92 (429-500); during 5-7 September occurring the in the range 55-129 (401-463); during 8-15 September occurring in the range 394-564 (80-174).

JMA reported that during 8-16 September a persistent white plume was observed 1 km above the crater.

Preliminary counts for volcanic earthquakes (394-564 per day) and tremor (80-174 per day) were reported during 8-15 September. Field surveys conducted on 9 and 12 September yielded elevated temperatures from fumaroles and the surface of the S crater wall.

Tremor accompanied a very small eruption recorded on 22-24 October. Ashfall observed on the 24th indicated another such eruption.

During 7 September and 24 November 2014, VAAs were absent for Aso. In contrast, during 25 November 2014-31 December 2014 there were 171 VAAs issued. Multiple VAAs were issued on several different days in this later interval, for example, on 26 November, 7 VAAs were issued.

Asosan continued to erupt during the 7 September-24 November 2014 interval. Some monitored parameters such as earthquakes, tremor, and SO2 emissions were elevated. A small eruption took place on 6 September, for example, sending a plume to 600 m above the crater. During 8-16 September JMA noted a persistent white plume 1 km above the crater. During the week 12-18 November, a steam plume rose 400 m above the crater rim.

With the start of the surge in VAAs beginning on 25 November 2014 (noted above), a stronger and comparatively sustained eruption began. During the eruption on the 25th an ash plume rose to 1.8 km above the crater rim. Ash soon fell to the E in Hanoi Aso (Kumamoto Region), Taketa (30 km NE, Oita Region), Gokase (25 km WSW, Miyazaki Region), and in Minamiaso (10 km SW, Kumamoto Region). Incandescence at night was seen with webcams.

On 26 November tephra ascended 100 m above the crater rim and an ash plume rose 1 km. Tremor began a few hours before the eruption and on the 26th, continued to be elevated. The eruption continued on 27 November; ash plumes rose 1.5 km. Volcanologists observed a strombolian eruption and found 7 cm of fresh ash that contained fist-sized scoria. Ash fell to the W, affecting the city of Kumamoto (38 km WSW). According to a news article, flights in and out of Kumamoto airport were either cancelled or diverted. On 28 November ash plumes rose 1.5 km. The eruption continued through at least 30 November; ash plumes rose at most 1.5 km and incandescent material was ejected onto the crater rim.

Although inclement weather restricted views of the crater, monitored parameters and available views indicated that the 25 November eruption continued through to at least 22 December, when it became intermittent. Ash plumes to about 1 km above the crater rim and incandescent material on the crater rim were common through the end of the year (and beyond, through this reporting interval ending in February 2015, and described as the ongoing eruption.

A news report in the 28 November 2014 issue of the Daily Mail by Sara Malm (Malm, 2014) indicated dozens of cancelled flights at Kumamoto's airport. That report included the Associated Press photo seen in figure 34. The date of the photo in that article was ambiguous, but a different article with the same photo (see caption) gave 26 November 2014 as the photo's date. The angled, bent-over character of the ash plume and location of Crater Number 1 (the active crater, at the N end of the row of craters) indicate the view was from the NW and implies strong winds roughly from the N.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 34. A photo taken on 26 November 2014 of Asosan in eruption. The gray ash plume is escaping at Nake-dake Crater Number 1 blowing roughly S. The plume does not rise vertically. The plume ascends near the vent but for some distance beyond the vent the plume descends. At distance the plume appears to spread over considerable vertical extent, from near the ground surface to above the field of view. Source: Phys.Org news (crediting AP/Kyodo News).

An undated video in Malm (2014) also showed the plume. The video also showed an aerial view of the visitor area on the crater rim, which was blanketed in gray ash. Other scenes included children walking to school wearing dust masks and carrying folded umbrellas, and close up shots of what appeared to be dark colored, highly vesicular spatter.

In a 29 November 2014 MODIS image of the region, Asosan was under weather clouds but a clear view revealed a prominent ~30-km-long, beige-colored, funnel-shaped area trending SE. This was interpreted by Nasa Earth Observatory authors Jeff Schmaltz and Adam Voiland as airborne ash. Webcamera images around this time showed a glowing pit crater with extensive areas containing incandescent tephra around it. A copious plume also discharged nearby.

During a field survey on 10 December volcanologists observed 20-cm-wide blocks near the crater and 5- to 10-cm-wide blocks within 1.2 km SW of the crater. During 12-15 December the plume rose 1 km above the crater rim and ash fell to the E in Hanoi Aso (Kumamoto Region).

JMA reports for 15-30 December described the usual eruptive ash plumes that again rose 600-1,000 m above the crater and some cases of still glowing material on the crater rim. SO2 fluxes were 2,000-3,100 t/d during 15 and 18 December.

2015 activity. As noted above, the VAAs for 2014 totaled 171, and the VAAs for the months of January and February 2015 totaled 250. This is consistent with ongoing eruption at Asosan, which was also the basic conclusion in JMA reports from monitoring and direct observations during January-February 2015, although they often described the eruption during both these months as intermittent.

JMA reported cases during January where plumes rose up to 1 km above the crater, and in some cases glowing material reached the crater rim. JMA reported SO2 fluxes of 500-2600 tons of SO2. Both tilt and GPS instrumentation recorded slight growth across the active crater. A pilot report on 29 January indicated an ash plume to 2.7 km altitude (~1.1 km above the rim) and drifting NW.

An image acquired on 13 January 2015 was discussed by Jesse Allen and Adam Voiland of Nasa Earth Observatory. They reported that the image was from the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. They indicated that it showed ash drifting ten's of kilometers S from Aso.

For February 2015, JMA reported episodes of volcanic earthquakes, high-amplitude tremor, and infrasound data that continued to indicate ongoing intermittent eruptions. Webcamera views again documented cases of glowing material reaching the rim during the first half of the month. Plumes again rose up to 1 km above the crater rim. JMA reported intermittently detected eruptions, including during 2-6, 9-13, and 16-20 February.

References.

Fujii, J., Nakajima, T., & Kamata, H., 2001, Paleomagnetic directions of the Aso pyroclastic-flow and the Aso-4 co-ignimbrite ash-fall deposits in Japan. Earth, planets and space, 53(12), 1137-1150. (URL: http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/873/art:10.1186/BF03352409.pdf?originUrl=http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/BF03352409&token2=exp=1434307643~acl=/static/pdf/873/art:10.1186/BF03352409.pdf?originUrl=http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/BF03352409*~hmac=b718e24427a5900c5057d59ebb12b501c1ae870b932122de89cc3a01a5f5318f ).

JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency), 2013, National Catalog of the Active Volcanoes of Japan (4th edition; online English version), (URL: http://www.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vois/data/tokyo/STOCK/souran_eng/menu.htm ) (accessed in June 2015)

Khin, K, 2013, Field trip to Aso volcano, Kyushu, Japan, Slideshare.net (13 annotated slides) (URL: http://www.slideshare.net/kyikyaw2/field-trip-to-aso-volcano-kyushu-japan )

Malm, S, 2014, Flights cancelled across Japanese region after Mount Aso volcano erupts for the first time in 22 years, spewing lava, smoke and a kilometre-high ash cloud, The Daily Mail 28 November 2014 (7 graphics files and a 58-second video) (accessed online June 2015) ((URL: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2852674/Volcano-south-Japan-erupts-disrupting-flights.html#ixzz3d5POqZhu )

Matsumoto, A., K. Uto, K. Ono, and K. Watanabe, 1991, K-Ar age determinations for Aso volcanic rocks—concordance with volcano stratigraphy and application to pyroclastic flows, Abstracts to Fall Meeting in 1991, Volcanol. Soc. Japan , 73 (in Japanese).

Miyabuchi, Y, 2013, A 90,000-year tephrostratigraphic framework of Aso Volcano, Japan, Sedimentary Geology, Volume 220, Issues 3–4, 15 October 2009, Pages 169-189, ISSN 0037-0738, (URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sedgeo.2009.04.018 ; http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0037073809001006 )

Spica, 2013, Southern Japan Calderas, Volcano Café (Volcano discussions in your living room), Wordpress.com (22 July 2013)(accessed June 2015) (URL: https://volcanocafe.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/southern-japan-calderas/ )

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

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/); Aso Volcano Museum (URL: http://www.asomuse.jp; and Jeff Schmaltz and Adam Voiland, NASA Earth Observatory (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov).


Etna (Italy) — February 2015 Citation iconCite this Report

Etna

Italy

37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3295 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Strombolian eruptions, ash emissions, and new effusive vents through February 2015

Our last report (BGVN 39:11) covered activity at Etna through 13 June 2014, which consisted primarily of ongoing emissions of E-directed lavas from a vent area on the lower E flank of the New South East Crater (NSEC). This report, summarizing first-hand accounts by the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV-Catania), covers the subsequent interval from 14 June 2014 through 2 February 2015. INGV described several eruptive episodes, including strombolian eruptions, ash emissions, and the appearance of new effusive vents at the E base of the North East Cone (NEC) and on the high E flank of the NSEC cone.

Activity during June-December 2014. On 14 June a new eruptive episode began within the NSEC, with near-continuous strombolian explosions and lava fountaining. Fine ash emissions were concurrent with lava that began to overflow the edge of the South East Crater (SEC), forming a flow that continued downhill on the W wall of Valle del Bove. During the morning of 15 June the overflowing lava followed the fissure that had been formed on 28 November 2013. Explosive activity occurred from three vents inside the crater. A spatter cone also formed in the NSEC's E sector, partially filling the fissure formed on the high NE flank during eruptions of late December 2013, and January–March 2014. During 14-15 June tremor increased sharply and remained moderately high until 18 June, when it returned to normal levels.

INGV noted that this lively strombolian activity over the course of four days was similar to the episode of effusive lava emissions observed during 14-16 and 19-31 December 2013 in terms of duration and intensity.

After images of a thermal anomaly in webcam images from Monte Cagliato, located on the E flank of Etna, a new, small fissure (tens of meters long) at the E base of the North East Crater (NEC) was observed by INGV Etna observatory personnel during 5-6 July. The vent was located between 3,015 and 3,025 m elevation. Weak spattering from this vent fed a lava flow that extended ~100 m within the saddle of the NSEC and SEC cones. Weak and sporadic strombolian explosions and small ash emissions were observed during 6-7 July from NSEC, but by 11 July this activity had ceased. Activity from the new fissure continued through 11 July with frequent strombolian explosions that were audible in nearby towns. The lava flow diverged; the longer of the two branches extended ~1.5 km, reaching the bottom of Valle del Leone.

On the morning of 25 July about 1114 local time, a new eruptive vent opened near the same eruptive fissure. This new vent ("25 July vent"), located at a distance of about 150-200 m to the N of the one from 5 July, was a source of strombolian explosions, accompanied at times by modest quantities of ash. This activity continued through 31 July. The strombolian explosions occurred at intervals of about 2-5 seconds and were often accompanied by visible compression waves ("flashing arcs") and audible rumblings up to a few tens of meters away, mostly in the E and NE sectors of the volcano. As previously observed, for example during the paroxysmal episode at the NSEC during 14-16 December 2013, the rumblings were interpreted as the result of explosions of gas bubbles inside the eruptive vent. Emissions of bombs and scoria occasionally rose 200 m high and fell within a few hundred meter radius around the vent. In a few instances, the explosions were accompanied by small quantities of ash. The lava flows, which had reached ~1.8 km during the preceding week, (halting on the saddle between the Valle del Leone and the Valle del Bove), had in the recent days overlapped the earlier ones, with active fronts at least 1 km from the effusive vent.

On 9 August INGV reported a strong decrease in volcanic tremor. From the 25 July vent, there began a gradual increase in the ash emissions that formed an ash plume, which rose to 1 km above the vent area and renewed strong strombolian activity in the evening. Strombolian activity increased at NSEC and was accompanied by small emissions of black ash that remained within the crater.

With the intensification of activity at the NSEC, the eruptive activity at the E flank of the NEC diminished. At 0645 on 9 August an effusive vent opened on the high E flank of the NSEC cone, which caused a small landslide and emitted a lava flow that after an hour had reached the E base of the cone. During the first 24 hours of activity, a small pyroclastic cone in the W portion of the NSEC summit appeared, increasing the height of the NSEC structure that began to grow in 2011. On 13 August INGV reported continued strombolian explosions, accompanied by modest emissions of ash and lava from a single vent on the high E flank of the NSEC. The lava flows emitted from the effusive vent to the E had almost ceased to advance the evening before, but two new branches were overlapping the earlier flow. The longest flow changed direction to later descend about 3 km NE toward Monte Simone. INGV reported that the eruption at NSEC had ended on 15 August and that the lava flow activity had ceased by 16 August (figure 151).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 151. This photo was taken on the morning of 16 August 2014 from the town of Tremestieri Etneo (from 20 km S of Etna). It shows Etna's NSEC (at right) with its new peak formed during the eruptive episode of 9-15 August. The old SEC cone (which appears lower) resides at left. Courtesy of Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV-Catania).

Beginning in the afternoon of 7 October through 16 October the NSEC produced weak and intermittent explosive activity; small ash puffs were rapidly dispersed by the wind. During some nights small strombolian explosions ejected incandescent material a few tens of meters above the crater rim.

Starting at 1850 on 28 December the NSEC produced a short but intense eruption characterized by lava fountains, lava flows, and an ash plume that drifted E, and caused ash and lapilli fall in the nearby towns of Milo, Fornazzo, Sant'Alfio, and Giarre. It was the first typically "paroxysmal" event at the NSEC since 2 December 2013. Inclement weather prevented observations of the summit area, so the erupting crater was not identifiable. Two lava flows traveled E and NE, towards the Valle del Bove. Tremor began to decrease at 2030, and indicated that the eruption was over at 2200 (figure 152).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 152. Lava flows deposited associated with Etna's large 28 December 2014 eruption (red). N is towards the top. The NSEC vented on a fissure developed a few hundred meters to the SE of the SEC (NNW-trending dashed blue line). Courtesy of INGV.

On 29 December, cameras viewing Etna recorded small ash emissions from the NSEC and persistent glow from the saddle between the SEC and NSEC cones at dusk. INGV indicated that this paroxysmal episode occurred at a series of eruptive vents along a NE-SW fissure that cut across the NSEC and the southern flank of the old SEC. From the two extremities of this fissure lava flows emerged, traveling SW toward the area of Milia-Galvarina and NW toward the northern part of the Valle del Bove near Monte Simone, reaching lengths of about 4.5 and 3.3 km, respectively (figure 152).

Activity during January 2015. During the night on 1 and 2 January, cameras recorded intermittent flashes from Voragine Crater (one of four summit craters), indicating strombolian activity there for the first time in nearly two years. At 0730 on 2 January explosions at NSEC generated ash plumes that drifted SW. Emissions ejected pyroclastic materials up to ~150 m above the crater rim, which intensified during the evening of 3 January.

At night during 6-7 January the frequency of strombolian explosions at the Voragine Crater decreased; however, some of the explosions ejected incandescent pyroclastic material outside of the crater and onto the W and SW flanks. On 7 January many of the small explosions generated brown ash plumes that rose a few hundred meters above Etna's summit and quickly dissipated. Strombolian activity increased on 8 January, possibly from two vents within the crater. Pyroclastic material continued to be ejected out of the crater. Early on 9 January strombolian activity again decreased and gave way to ash emissions that rose several hundred meters. During the evening on the same day some ash emissions were accompanied by incandescent pyroclastic material that at times fell on the external flanks of the central summit. Ash emissions continued the next morning, decreased, and had almost completely ceased by late morning. Ash emissions rapidly resumed in the afternoon and were sometimes accompanied by strombolian explosions. During the morning of 13 January, new ash emissions began at the Voragine. For some hours, these emissions were continuous, but successively diminished in the afternoon to every 5-10 minutes. Marco Neri, of the INGV- Osservatorio Etneo, during a helicopter overflight on 14 January, captured a clear view of these emissions and of the summit crater area (figure 153).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 153. Summit craters of Etna seen from helicopter on the morning of 14 January 2015, looking NW. In the foreground is the cone of the New South East Crater (NSEC), its summit vent being much enlarged after the 28 December 2014 paroxysm, and the old South East Crater (SEC), with an extensive fumarolic area on the saddle between the two cones. Note the two conspicuous eruptive fissures (labeled), one on the NE flank of the NSEC (in the lower right portion of the image), and the other on the S flank of the old SEC (which opened on 28 December 2014). In the background are the Bocca Nuova (at left), the Voragine (center, emitting a dense white vapor plume), and the North East Crater (NEC) (at right). The town visible in the distance at upper right is Randazzo, on the N-NW flank of Etna. Photo and caption courtesy of Marco Neri, INGV-Osservatorio Etneo.

In the evening on 14 January weak strombolian activity was recorded at the Voragine Crater and NEC. The next day, occasionally pulsating ash emissions rose from the NEC and drifted SE. Ash emissions continued through 17 January; cloud cover prevented observations of the summit area on 18 January.

A new eruptive episode began on 31 January and continued through the morning of 2 February. Poor meteorological conditions prevented views of the summit area during the first 36 hours of the eruption. During improved viewing conditions on the evening of 1 February, volcanologists observed lively strombolian activity from a single vent in the saddle between the SEC and NSEC cones. Explosions occurred every few seconds and ejected incandescent bombs 200 m high, which fell on the S flank of the SEC. At the same time, from a vent at the southern base SEC cone corresponding to the lowest part of the SE eruptive fissure from 28 December, a lava flow issued that traveled 2 km S, dividing into two branches. At dawn on 2 February the strombolian activity produced a dense ash cloud that drifted E. At about 0750 emissions stopped, and volcanic tremor suddenly decreased.

Geologic Background. Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily's second largest city, has one of the world's longest documented records of historical volcanism, dating back to 1500 BCE. Historical lava flows of basaltic composition cover much of the surface of this massive volcano, whose edifice is the highest and most voluminous in Italy. The Mongibello stratovolcano, truncated by several small calderas, was constructed during the late Pleistocene and Holocene over an older shield volcano. The most prominent morphological feature of Etna is the Valle del Bove, a 5 x 10 km horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the east. Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur, sometimes simultaneously. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more summit craters. Flank vents, typically with higher effusion rates, are less frequently active and originate from fissures that open progressively downward from near the summit (usually accompanied by Strombolian eruptions at the upper end). Cinder cones are commonly constructed over the vents of lower-flank lava flows. Lava flows extend to the foot of the volcano on all sides and have reached the sea over a broad area on the SE flank.

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


Piton de la Fournaise (France) — February 2015 Citation iconCite this Report

Piton de la Fournaise

France

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


June 2014 and February 2015 eruptions

Piton de la Fournaise is located on Réunion island, which lies to the E of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean (figure 84). In this Bulletin, we discuss eruptions in June 2014 and February 2015. The June 2014 eruption took place on 21 June, from 0135 to 2109 local time. The February 2015 eruption occurred from 1100 local time on 4 February to 2230 local time on 15 February. In this report, all times are local unless otherwise stated (local time= UTC + 04 hours). This report represents a synthesis of available information published by Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPDLF).

Our last Bulletin report on Piton de la Fournaise (BGVN 37:03) documented increased seismicity and eruptive activity from August to December 2010. Piton de la Fournaise's last eruption took place from 14 October 2010 through 10 December 2010 (BGVN 37:03).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 84. Map of Reunion Island, highlighting the location of Piton de la Fournaise, a basaltic shield volcano. As shown in the inset map (top right corner), Reunion is located to the E of Madagascar. Source: Observatório Vulcanológico Geotérmico Açores.

June 2014. Piton de la Fournaise erupted on 21 June 2014, ending a three and a half year period of quiescence that began on 11 December 2010.

Preceding the eruption, Piton de la Fournaise experienced a period of high activity from 7 to 20 June 2014. Table 4 details the number of volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes and rock-fall events recorded during this interval. The greatest number of daily VT earthquakes was recorded on 20 June, and highest number of rock-fall events occurred on 17 June. Through email correspondence, OVPDLF personnel reported that over this period (7-20 June), no deformation or significant gas emissions were detected. They also reported that observed seismicity occurred between 500 and 1,200 m above sea level (a.s.l.).

Table 4. The number of volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes and rock-fall events recorded at Piton de la Fournaise from 7 to 20 June 2014, which was considered a period of high activity. Source: email correspondence with OVPDLF personnel.

Date Volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes Rockfall events
07 Jun 2014 3 27
08 Jun 2014 1 25
09 Jun 2014 8 29
10 Jun 2014 20 41
11 Jun 2014 53 53
12 Jun 2014 45 67
13 Jun 2014 125 261
14 Jun 2014 32 93
15 Jun 2014 35 87
16 Jun 2014 54 97
17 Jun 2014 207 415
18 Jun 2014 38 32
19 Jun 2014 51 54
20 Jun 2014 ~346 80

On 21 June 2014, at 0006, a seismic crisis began and continued for 74 minutes (email correspondence). Then at 0020, deformation began and persisted for ~3 hours (email correspondence). At 0120, tremor was detected and, at 0135, an eruption began as verified by OVPDLF cameras, which captured incandescence given off by the eruption (email correspondence). The venting took place within Enclos Fouqué on the ESE side of the central cone (figure 85) (email correspondence). OVPDLF reported that the eruptive fissures on the cone's ESE side sat between the Maillard crater and a small plateau at ~2300 m altitude (figure 85) (OVPDLF, 2014a).

During the morning of 21 June, a helicopter flyby noted (a) the presence of two eruptive fissures. From the more active fissure, small lava fountains emanated and built a spatter rampart; (b) two lava flows developed and traveled more than 1.5 km from the more active fissure. One of the flows, continued moving ~250 m E after passing the Langlois crater and the other flow continued ~500 m E-S after passing the Langlois crater (the Langlois crater is located ~2 km SE of the Dolomieu crater, figure 85); and (c) a very dilute SO2 plume extended N (OVPDLF, 2014a).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 85. Topographic map of Piton de la Fournaise, which includes the names of features associated with the volcano (the labelling on the map is in French; cratère translates to crater in English). Source: Gaba (2007).

During 21 June 2014, OVPDLF raised the Alert Level to 1 ("probable or imminent eruption"), and public access to the volcano was restricted. According to email correspondence with OVPDLF personnel, the eruption ended at 2109 on 21 June. OVPDLF further reported that the intensity of the detected tremor decreased during the day and disappeared at 2109 (OVPDLF, 2014a).

November and December 2014. On 2 December 2014, OVPDLF published an activity report (OVPDLF, 2014b), which indicated the following, (a) 113 VT earthquakes were recorded between 1 November and 1 December, with the highest number of earthquakes being recorded on 1 November (figure 86); (b) the majority of the earthquakes were located between 500 and 1,000 m a.s.l. at the base of Piton de la Fournaise's summit; (c) deformation registered by OVPDLF's geodetic network remained the same since September 2014; and (d) since 1 September 2014, the geochemical station at the summit detected low emissions of SO2 that were often coupled with CO2, H2O and H2S. That report also stated that on 1 November 2014, the hazard status "Vigilance Volcanic phase" was initiated due to increased geophysical activity. OVPDLF (2014b) stated that this status was lifted on 1 December 2014.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 86. Histogram of the number of volcano-tectonic earthquakes recorded from 1 November 2014 to 1 December 2014. A total of 113 VT earthquakes were recorded over this interval and the highest number of earthquakes was recorded on 1 November 2014. Source: OVPDLF, 2014b.

February 2015. The next eruption at Piton de la Fournaise began on 4 February 2015. The information in this section was found in the reference, OVPDLF (2015), unless otherwise stated. Between 0400 and 0900 on 4 February, 180 earthquakes were recorded, five of which had magnitudes greater than 2. At 0910, a seismic crisis started and at 1050, a volcanic tremor began. Ten minutes later, at 1100, an eruption began at an eruptive fissure on the S flank of Piton de la Fournaise's cone within Enclos Fouqué. Due to the eruption, Alert Level 2-2 ('ongoing eruption') was declared.

On 5 February 2015, the eruption continued even though the intensity of the tremor had decreased since its initiation on 4 February. OVPDLF reported that the eruptive fissure formed 100 m W of Bory crater (figures 85 and 87). The fissure had a length of ~500 m and activity was reported to be concentrated at its southernmost end. The fissure emitted a lava flow that traveled S-SW, and after passing Rivals crater, it divided into several branches as it continued to spread farther S and SW (figure 87). The southernmost branch of the flow traveled passed Cornu crater (figure 85). That evening, at 1800 local time, the tremor had significantly decreased in intensity. The intensity of the tremor was about six times lower than it was at the beginning of the eruption. The eruptive fissure remained active and projected lava ~10 m high.

The eruption continued on 6 February 2015. The tremor intensity was still very low and the lava flow and its branches were still active. OVPDLF reported that during field observations, there was low levels of outgassing and material projected from eruptive vents had built small cones. On 8 February, the eruption continued and low magnitude earthquakes located in the upper part of Piton de la Fournaise reappeared. Despite poor weather, OVPDLF observed that lava continued flowing from the vents and one flow traveled farther W. By 9 February, no significant changes were noted and by late morning, the eruptive fissure was weakly active and only small splashes of lava were observed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 87. Map highlighting the margins of the lava flow and its branches in red as of 8 February 2015. For scale, the Dolomieu crater is ~1.0 km in E-W diameter. The lava that fed this flow was emitted from an eruptive fissure 100 m W of Bory crater. On the map, Bory crater is the small indent to the left of the larger Dolomieu crater. The flow length is ~2.4 km. Although the eruption continued until 15 February, there was little change to the basic pattern of the lava flow and its branches according to OVPDLF. Source: OVPDLF.

The eruption continued in a similar manner until 15 February 2015. Between 10 and 15 February, OVPDLF reported that the tremor remained low and there were no significant changes in other recorded geophysical parameters. During this interval, poor weather conditions sometimes hindered observations. On the morning of 14 February, due to the absence of clouds, OVPDLF observed a clear plume rising between 2.8 and 3 km in altitude, and concluded it was probably rich in water vapor.

In the morning of 15 February, the tremor was low and stable, and equivalent to what was recorded in previous days. According to OVPDLF, at 1700 on 15 February, the tremor began to decrease in intensity. The tremor then underwent a few hours of rapid fluctuations in its intensity, before disappearing at 2230. With the disappearance of the tremor, the eruption ended. The following day, Volcano Discovery reported that the Alert Level had been lowered.

References. Gaba, E. (Wikimedia Commons user, Sting), 2007, Topographic map of the Piton de la Fournaise shield volcano on the Réunion island, Wikipedia (initial image from the NASA Shuttle Radar Topography Mission), URL: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Piton_Fournaise_topo_map-fr.svg#/media/File:Piton_Fournaise_topo_map-fr.svg, accessed on 27 May 2015

OVPDLF, 2014a, Actualités (News), URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr/ovpf/actualites-ovpf, accessed in June 2014

OVPDLF, 2014b, Bilan d'activité à la levée de la vigilance volcanique (Activity report to the lifting of the volcanic alert), URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr/OVPDLF/communique-de-lOVPDLF-2-decembre-2014, accessed on 10 June 2015

OVPDLF, 2015, Archive actualités (News Archive), URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr/OVPDLF/archive-actualites, accessed on 27 May 2015

Observatório Vulcanológico Geotérmico Açores, 2015, Notícia 1682 - Vulcão Piton de la Fournaise, Ilha da Reunião: nova erupção registada este domingo (News No. 1682 - Piton de la Fournaise volcano, Reunion Island: new recorded eruption on Sunday), URL: http://ovga.centrosciencia.azores.gov.pt/sites/default/files/Map_ide-reunion-piton-de-la-fournaise.jpg, accessed on 10 June 2015

Volcano Discovery, 2014, Piton de la Fournaise volcano (La Réunion): eruption ends, URL:

http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/piton_fournaise/news/45631/Piton-de-la-Fournaise-volcano-La-Runion-eruption-ends.html, accessed on 27 May 2015

Volcano Discovery, 2014, Piton de la Fournaise volcano (La Réunion): alert level raised, eruption warning, URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/piton_fournaise/news/49537/Piton-de-la-Fournaise-volcano-La-Runion-alert-level-raised-eruption-warning.html, accessed on 27 May 2015

Volcano Discovery, 2015, Piton de la Fournaise volcano (La Réunion): eruption seems to have ended, URL: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/piton_fournaise/news/51262/Piton-de-la-Fournaise-volcano-La-Runion-eruption-seems-to-have-ended.html, accessed on 27 May 2015.

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

Information Contacts: Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise (OVPDLF), Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 14 route nationale 3, 27ème km, 97418 La Plaine des Cafres, La Réunion, France (URL: http://www.ipgp.fr/fr/OVPDLF/observatoire-volcanologique-piton-de-fournaise); Nicolas Villeneuve, OVPDLF.


Popocatepetl (Mexico) — February 2015 Citation iconCite this Report

Popocatepetl

Mexico

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


During November 2012-December 2014, ongoing exhalations and explosions

This report summarizes events at Popocatépetl during November 2012-December 2014. Almost all of the data discussed came from (~800) online daily reports by the Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED). Many of those reports are issued covering a 24 hour interval (from 1000 on the stated day back to 1000 on the previous day), with occasional cases of later supplemental reports the same day. A link to those reports is provided in the "Information Contacts" section. Our previous report on Popocatépetl discussed the ongoing eruption during July-October 2012 (BGVN 37:09).

Behavior during the reporting interval included persistent emissions (often containing ash). When visibility permitted, web cameras documented nighttime emissions containing incandescent fragments, in many cases, rising hundreds of meters above the crater rim and spreading across the upper flanks. These eruptions typically deposited tephra up to ~1.5 km from the crater where it was conspicuous on the snow and ice that crowns the summit. Occasional air photos also depicted ballistics or their impacts and tracks in the summit area. Ashfall was not uncommon in villages on the volcano and it occasionally fell in parts of Mexico City and the city of Puebla. Many plumes rose on the order of 1 km, reported by CENAPRED in many cases several times a week if not more frequently. Periods of tremor occurred, some of which lasted for more than one hour. At least one volcanic-tectonic earthquake occurred on many days (maximum coda magnitudes, Mc, generally 2.0 to 2.5). Earthquakes are in general thus dismissed from detailed discussion below; however, for one sample month, November 2013, we include a larger emphasis on the record of larger earthquakes reported daily by CENAPRED. Many of the commonplace processes such as those in the above list were sufficiently common that, in order to save space, they are often omitted from this narrative.

One way CENAPRED quantifies Popocatépetl's behavior is to use daily 'exhalations' (substantive plumes inferred to contain ash) which have long been a means of monitoring and characterizing this large and tall andesitic stratovolcano. The term 'exhalation' was used extensively in Bulletin reports starting with BGVN 22:03 in 1997. Exhalations are still currently tabulated by CENAPRED. Those appear in histograms in each daily report (assessing a 24 hour interval ending at 1000 on the stated reporting date).

Wright and others (2002) explain 'exhalations' further and clarify the distinction to the larger events that they classify as 'explosions.' The authors included photos and infrared imagery to illustrate the term (omitted here).

"Exhalations are short duration (3–90 min) ash-rich gas plumes . . .. CENAPRED provide daily Web-based activity updates in which exhalations are classified as small, moderate, or large on the basis of their duration and resultant plume height. Plumes can rise as much as 5000 m above the crater rim but are generally smaller. Exhalations are common and as many as several tens can occur each day. The ash they transport may be non-juvenile in nature (possibly with a juvenile component since March 1996 when lava extrusion began), and exhalations are thought to be the result of intermittent high-pressure gas streams that scour rock fragments from the conduit walls. Thermal video images, which measure the amount of radiation emitted in the 8–14 μm region of the electromagnetic spectrum . . ., indicate that by the time the plumes have reached the altitude of the crater rim, the ash-gas mixture is generally of a very low temperature (9–12°C at the plume exterior) due to the rapid entrainment of air at ambient temperatures.

"Explosions are less frequent than exhalations. They result in larger, darker ash plumes, with bombs often thrown clear of the crater to form a high-temperature ejecta blanket on the upper slopes of the volcano . . .. The plumes most commonly reach heights of between 3000 and 5000 m above the crater rim, although several larger explosions have occurred during the recent activity. The explosion of 30 June 1997, for example, was the largest recorded since 1922 and generated a plume 13,000 m high. Although explosions during the recent activity have been most common during periods of dome growth, they have also been observed during periods when no magmatic activity has been observed on the crater floor."

Wright and others (2002) also make this comment: "Clearly, periods of prolonged and total cloud cover will prevent any useable data being acquired." They were addressing satellite observations but this also applies to visual- and webcamera-based observations. This means that during some intervals adverse meteorological factors (clouds, rain, snow, etc.) could reduce the number of reported exhalations.

From this it is reasonably clear that the vast majority (if not all) of the eruptions during the reporting interval (November 2012-December 2014) were in the category of exhalations. During this reporting interval, several plumes did reach 3-4 km above the crater rim, as is noted below (e.g., during May-July 2013) and but we know of none reported that rose to over 5 km over the crater rim (~10.4 km altitude).

The maximum number of daily exhalations in the recent past stood, since July 2012, at 211. On 23 May 2013 that record was broken when 314 daily exhalations occurred. A second increase in that maximum value occurred twice more when the daily values reached 480 exhalations on both 4 and 6 June 2014.

As discussed in other Bulletin reporting since the onset of the eruption in March 1996 (BGVN 21:01), dramatic events involved dome dynamics in the steep-walled, cylindrical, ~0.5-km-diameter summit crater. There, emissions of lava and tephra constructed the dome. Occasional energetic discharges from the vent beneath this growing dome blew out the dome's central area, leaving the dome with a ring-shaped morphology. This process has taken place many times in the intervening years since 1996 and continued in this reporting interval too.

Further discussion and references on the topic of exhalations and explosions with particular reference to Popocatépetl also appear in other studies (e.g., de la Cruz-Reyna and others, 2008; González-Mellado and de la Cruz-Reyna, 2008; and Tárraga and others, 2012).

November 2012-December 2013 activity. During the remainder of 2012, the Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two (where it had been since lowered on 1 September 2012).

The usual plumes, occasionally bearing ash, rose up to ~1 km above the crater on many days during November-December 2012. For example, during 3-4 November 2012, CENAPRED daily reports noted 9 more significant eruptions and associated plumes registered at these respective times: 1100, 1450, 1548, 2346, 0157, 0240, 0532, 0835, and 0931.

On the basis of 15-day averages shown on histograms in CENAPRED daily reports, the overall November monthly average was 43. During December 2012 the overall average was 31. Lower monthly averages than December's 31 appeared during January 2013 through the first half of March 2013. During the second half of March 2013 the average daily exhalations again rose to similar levels (31). The averages dropped again after that the averages remained low well into May and early June 2013 although during these later months some daily values increased significantly. The average value for the second half of June 2013 was 33.

During the first two weeks of May 2013 there were increases in earthquakes, tremor, and emissions. During 7-8 May, CENAPRED called attention to an episode of high amplitude spasmodic tremor. It was accompanied by an explosion on 8 May that ejected an ash plume that rose 3 km above the crater and drifted SE. Ashfall was reported from the villages of San Pedro Benito Juarez (10-12 km SE), San Juan Tianguismanalco (22 km SE), and Atlixco (23 km SE), and in some areas of the City of Puebla (~50 km to the E). The main tremor episode was accompanied by incandescent fragments that reached up to 500 m distance from Popocatépetl (chiefly NE). As reported on the 8th, during the last 24 hours CENAPRED detected 40 low intensity exhalations; 2 additional stronger ones sent a small amounts of ash towards the SE. Tremor during early May generally remained below daily intervals of up to a few hours.

On 10 May 2013 CENAPRED noted that during the last 24 hours there occurred 46 generally small exhalations. In addition, two explosions occurred, of moderate magnitude, sending ash ~1 km above the crater. Tremor duration for that interval lasted ~3 hours, including some time periods with high-amplitude signals. Three small volcano-tectonic earthquakes also occurred. A second report later on 10 May indicated that during 1142-1443 a series of ash emissions and periods of spasmodic and harmonic tremor occurred with ash plumes rising as much as 1 km above the crater, again producing ashfall. Similar plume heights were seen on 11 May, and the daily report noted there were in the last 24 hours a total of 53 (chiefly small-to-moderate) exhalations.

According to CENAPRED, seismicity had intensified on the afternoon and night prior to 12 May (when the Alert Level rose to Yellow, Phase Three, stipulating a 12 km radius exclusionary zone). Additionally, the report for 12 May 2013 said that in the last 24 h, 43 exhalations of low and moderate intensity were recorded. In general, steam-and-gas plumes with small amounts of ash rose from the crater. Although foggy conditions sometimes limited visibility, sporadic ejections of incandescent tephra fell back into the crater and onto the NNE flank, 300 m from the crater rim. Tremor registered in 1-2 hour intervals, continuously or in segments. Each such interval began with an eruptive burst of moderate intensity. The most important burst took place at 1700 on the 12th and was perceived by many residents in the E and SE sectors.

On 13 May 2013 steam-and-gas plumes were observed rising from the crater during periods of good visibility. On 14 May an explosive event generated an ash plume that rose to 3 km altitude. Incandescent tephra landed up to 600 m away on the NE flank. Cloud cover again obscured summit views. Seismicity, including tremor, remained elevated. The histogram in the daily report listed 25 exhalations during the past 24 hours.

On 14 May 2013, volcanologists aboard an overflight observed a lava dome 350 m in diameter and 50 m thick, found the dome slightly deflated after an explosion. Similar dome- related events seemingly took place again during the next few days. The histogram in the daily report listed 41 exhalations during the past 24 hours.

CENAPRED noted a vigorous eruption at 0146 on 15 May that discharged an ash plume to over 3 km above the crater rim, blown NE sending tephra up to 1.5 km downslope. At 1804 that day a second blast sent a column to somewhat below 3.5 km above the crater, blown N. Both these events correlated with spasmodic tremor. The histogram in the daily report listed 56 exhalations during the past 24 hours.

On 16 May 2013, some intervals of tremor again corresponded with discharge of glowing fragments, the majority of which fell back into the crater (a process frequently mentioned throughout the reporting interval). Ash plumes rose 2 km and drifted NE. Minor ashfall was reported in Paso de Cortés, 7 km N. Incandescent tephra reached 400 m from the crater rim to the N and NE. Seismometers registered an Mc 2.2 earthquake. The histogram in the daily report listed 55 exhalations during the past 24 hours.

Two punctuated eruptions were described for the 24-hour interval ending at 1000 on the 17th (one reaching 4 km above the rim) The first took place at 2214, when the crater issued a strong explosion; the resulting incandescent fragmental material covered the flanks to 1.5 km distance and the associated gas-and-ash column rose to under 3 km above the crater, drifting NE. The second took place at 0028, generating an eruption column to 4 km above the crater and casting glowing fragments up to 1.5 km from the crater. The report for the 17th said that moderate-to-small exhalations during the past 24 hours totaled 31. On 17, 18, 19, and 20 May 2013 histograms in the respective CENAPRED reports noted that in the past 24 hours they each registered 31, 18, 24, and 54 exhalations.

During an overflight on 18 May, volcanologists observed the active crater, 200 m wide and 40 m deep, located in the dome's surface. The rest of the dome was covered with rock fragments. Tephra had landed as far as 0.5 km down the NE flank. CENAPRED inferred that the missing material forming this crater was likely excavated by explosions associated with hours of tremor that took place during 14-17 May.

On 23-27 May 2013, tremor decreased. A flight on 28 May captured several photos, one of which appears in figure 67. Note the steep crater within the ring-shaped dome and the abundance of fragmental character of some material on the dome's surface. The CENAPRED caption also drew attention to marks made by ballistic material that burrowed into the snow and ice in the summit area.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 67. Aerial photo taken looking downward at the summit area of Popocatépetl on 28 May 2013. The summit hosts a deep, steep sided circular crater, within which grows a dome. The dome is frequently reamed out by powerful explosive bursts leaving the dome with a crater as seen here. Courtesy of CENAPRED (from their 1 June 2013 daily report).

During 1-7 June exhalations on the daily histograms ranged between 32 and 93. They were often described as of low intensity (steam rich and ash poor), but in some cases they were described as reaching moderate intensity. Cloud cover often prevented visual observations. Volcano-tectonic earthquakes up to Mc 2.7 took place. On 7 June 2013 the Alert Level was lowered to Yellow, Phase Two.

During the rest of June 2013, significant emissions continued. For example, during 12-17 June 2013, plumes containing ash rose as high as 4 km above the crater, and ashfall was reported in many nearby villages (figure 68). For the eruption on the 17th, perceptible ash fell as far as the SE portion of Mexico City. The eruption on the 17th was accompanied by tremor with a duration of over 2 hours and other seismicity also remained at times high.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 68. Webcam image of an explosion at Popocatépetl on 17 June 2013 (at 13:26:55 local time, which corresponds to 18:26:55 UTC). The explosion generated an ash plume that reached greater than 4 km above the crater and threw incandescent fragments up to 2 km out of the crater, causing small grassland fires. Courtesy of CENAPRED.

An overflight on 25 June led to the insight that eruptions in the past few days had further altered the dome. It then had the dimensions of 250 m in diameter and 60 m deep.

According to CENAPRED's daily report on 3 July 2013, seismic activity increased again during the past 24 hours when the seismic network detected tremor for 36 minutes and two larger earthquakes (at 0407 and 0918 on the 3rd) with respective coda magnitudes, Mc 2.9 and 2.6. The daily report noted 84 exhalations on the part of the histogram for the last 24 hour interval ending at 1000 on 3 July. This was accompanied by persistent gas and ash emissions and diffuse ash plumes that rose 2-3.5 km above the crater and produced ashfall in areas as far as México City. Incandescent tephra was ejected short distances onto the N and E flanks.

This increased activity continued on 4 July 2013. According to news articles, multiple airlines canceled flights to and from the México City and Toluca (105 km WNW) airports on 4 July. The number of cancelled flights, according to the news, was 47. Flights resumed later that day.

On 5 July 2013, almost continuous tremor was recorded. Ash plumes drifted NW. Scientists employed both infrared webcamera imaging and an overflight to observe continuously ejected incandescent tephra that landed as far away as 1.5 km from the crater on almost all flanks, and an ash plume that rose 2 km. Cloud cover often obscured visual observations. A news article stated that four airlines canceled a total of 17 flights.

On 6 July 2013, low frequency, high amplitude tremor was accompanied by gas, steam, and ash emissions that rose 3 km. Three explosions were detected, but cloud cover prevented visual confirmation. News articles noted ashfall again in parts of México City. Government officials raised the Alert Level to Yellow, Phase Three, excluding the public within a 12 km radius of the crater. Later that day, the low frequency tremor amplitude decreased, followed by diminishing emissions of gas and ash.

During 7-9 July 2013, tremor was accompanied by persistent emissions of steam, gas, and small amounts of ash that drifted WSW and NW; cloud cover continued to hinder visual observations. Three explosions produced gas containing ash. Incandescence and ejected incandescent tephra were sometimes observed. During overflights on 7 and 10 July, scientists observed that a new lava dome, 250 m in diameter and 20 m thick, had recently formed in the crater.

During an overflight on 15 July 2013, scientists observed a 200-m wide and 20 to 30 m deep crater in the lava dome. The attributed the new morphology last seen on 10 July to dome destruction owing to explosions in the past few days. They also reported on M 2.3, 1.8 and 1.7 earthquakes, as well as 82 minutes of high-frequency tremor on 15 July 2013.

Emissions and occasional explosions that generated plumes with some ash continued during 10-16 July 2013 (figure 68). According to a news article, on 12 July 2013 an Alaska Airlines flight to México City's international airport was canceled and operations at a small airport in Puebla were suspended.

On 23 July 2013, the Alert Level was lowered to Yellow, Phase Two, a status that prevailed through December 2014 (the end of this reporting interval).

On 31 July 2013 a clear decrease in the size of the water vapor and gas plumes was observed; plumes blew down the NW flank and rose only 100 m above the crater rim. An explosion was detected at 2312 on 1 August, but cloud cover prevented confirmation of any ejecta. On 2 August minor amounts of ash fell in the Tepetlixpa, Atlautla, Ecatzingo, and Ozumba municipalities of Mexico State. On 4 August emissions of gas, steam, and ash drifted NW. During 5-6 August a few observed plumes rose 1-2 km and drifted WNW, W, and WSW.

On 14 August 2013 a period of tremor was accompanied by an ash emission that drifted W and fell on towns as far as ~20 km away. Gas-and-steam plumes were observed during 15-16 August. A period of tremor on 17 August was accompanied by an ash plume that rose 1.5 km and drifted WSW. Ash fell in in towns as far as 65 km SW (Cuernavaca). On 18 August tremor was accompanied by an ash emission that rose 1.2 km and drifted SW. On 19 August minor steam-and-gas emissions drifted W. During 19-20 August emissions likely contained small amounts of ash but cloud cover prevented confirmation. On 28 August ash plumes rose 200-800 m and drifted SW. Gas-and-steam plumes were observed the next day and on the 30th an ash plume rose 1 km above the crater and drifted W.

During much of September and October 2013 clouds sometimes blocked clear views of the volcano. The volcano continued to undergo seismic unrest and to emit steam and gas plumes often containing minor amounts of ash. Early September ash blew WSW to fall on settlements as far as 24 km away (including, on the 1st, at Tetela del Volcán, 20 km SW, and Ocuituco, 24 km SW, and on the 2nd, at Ecatzingo, 15 km SW. On 4 September the number of daily exhalation during the previous 15 days averaged at 5, but on that day it stood at 44 exhalations. Average values for 15 day intervals remained under ~25 during September through December 2013.

Other observational details from this interval are similar to those noted above. For example, on 24 October an explosion at 2111 produced an ash plume that rose 1 km and drifted SW. Eight low-intensity explosions on 26 October increased gas and steam emissions and produced slight amounts of ash.

Despite the low number of exhalations near year's end, during 30 October 5 November 2013, exhalations were frequently detected, varying from 30 to 97 times per day. Between 31 October and 5 November, four volcano tectonic earthquakes were recorded (Mc 2.1-2.5). Tremor was frequently detected; on 1 November, 3 hours and 21 minutes of high-frequency tremor was recorded.

During November 2013 tremor durations reached highs on the 5th, 6th, and 17th, respectively, at 55, 60, and 67 minutes. November's larger local earthquakes reported by CENAPRED included the following: on the 5th, Mc 2.1-2.5; 6th, Mc 2.7; 9th, Mc 2.3; 10th, two cases with Mc 2.1; 11th, Mc 2.3, 18th, three cases with Mc approaching 2; 20th, 6 cases with some Mc approaching 2.5; 21st; Mc 2.0; 22nd, five cases, Mc 2-3.5; 23rd, Mc 2.0; 24th, two cases with Mc 2.1; 25th, Mc 2.0; 28th, Mc 1.8; and 29th, Mc 1.2.

The Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) issued advisories for Popocatépetl every month during 2013, except for November and December 2013. The advisories were most numerous during April through July 2013. According to CENAPRED, a daily average of about 6,000 metric tons of sulfur dioxide was emitted during both 2013 and 2014.

2014 activity. During 2014, the Washington VAAC issued advisories for Popocatépetl every month, except for March. The number of advisories issued was considerably lower than that for 2013. At year's end, the Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two.

Activity in 2014 was broadly similar to that in 2013, with above-mentioned frequent gas-and-steam emissions, often with minor ash content. Issues with limited visibility at times due to cloud cover also remained.

The 15-day average of the daily exhalations often stood at less than 4 during January and through 19 February 2014. Activity increased during 19-25 February 2014. At least eight explosions generated plumes (mostly ash) that rose 1-2 km above the crater. An explosion at 1233 on 21 February sent an ash plume to 4 km above the crater rim. On 26 February, scientists aboard an overflight observed that another lava dome (dome number 48) had been destroyed, leaving a funnel shaped cavity about 80 m deep. A new dome 20 30 m wide was at the bottom of the cavity. On 27 February, activity decreased considerably.

CENAPRED's 15-day average of the daily exhalations stood at 7 or below during March 2014 but it rose to 34 by 18 April 2014 and dropping to 22 by the end of that month. It rose again in late May 2014 (to 45 on 31 May). On 16 June it stood at 57; and for the last half of June it declined to below 10.

The daily value reached 480 exhalations on 4 and 6 June 2014, a new record.

Monitored and eruptive activity briefly increased in early July 2014. For example, CENAPRED reported tremor on 2 July (maximum of 80 minutes in 24 hours) and 12 July (minimum of 8 minutes). Up to 216 exhalations of low and moderate intensity were detected on 9 July. The 15-day average of the daily exhalations also rose during early July 2014, reaching over 50 during the first half of the month but dropping towards the end to 15 (on the 31st).

The first half of August had a 15-day average of 33 daily exhalations and the second half, 46 daily exhalations. Those averages (first half of the month and second half of the month) were as follows for the rest of the year: September (14 and 31); October (40 and 39); November (55 and 13); and December (41 and 72).

During 27 August and 2 September 2014, plumes reached as high as 3 km above the crater. Tremor and volcanic-tectonic earthquakes were recorded in early September.

On 17 September 2014, a day with 126 exhalations recorded by CENAPRED's monitoring system, an ash emission at 1813 resulted from a moderate explosion. The emission reached 3 km above the crater rim. It blew SE and light ash fell at villages in that direction. During the same day five other exhalations reached ~1.5 km above the crater rim. During 7-8 October 2014 ashfall was reported in Cuautla (43 km SW), Tetela del Volcán (20 km SW), Huaquechula (30 km SSW), and Morelos (60 km SW). On 12 October ash plumes rose 2 km and drifted NE. Ashfall was reported in Paso de Cortés (8 km NNW) and Tlalmanalco (30 km NW).

CENAPRED reported that during a 14 October 2014 overflight, volcanologists observed that the diameter of the inner crater (formed in July 2013) had increased to 350 m. The bottom of the inner crater floor was 100 m below the floor of the main crater, cup shaped, and covered with tephra. No sign of the lava dome (number 52) emplaced in early August 2014 was visible. Steam emissions originated from a crack in the N wall of the inner crater and ash emission came from the bottom of the crater.

Although for brevity we have generally excluded examples of explosions and ashfall for September and October 2014, which were broadly similar to previous months, a small explosion at 0317 on 25 October ejected tephra 100 m outboard onto the S flank. A steam-and-gas plume containing a small amount of ash rose 1.5 km above the crater and drifted SW. Ashfall was reported in Tetela del Volcán (20 km SW). A small explosion at 0111 on 26 October ejected a plume that rose 1.1 km above the crater rim and sent tephra 200 m onto the N flank.

Histograms in daily reports issued during 3-5 November 2014 described exhalations totaling 267, 190, and 147, respectively. These were broadly described as a continuous gas-and-steam plume, mainly with minor amounts of ash. Some more vigorous and ash rich emissions occurred and, for example, on 5 November the plume rose as high as 1 km and caused light ashfall in Paso de Cortés. That daily report also showed videos that showed incandescent fragments spreading ~800 m over the upper flanks. The 5 November report also showed a seismic record captured in the interval 2000 on the 4th to 0130 on the 5th illustrating ~190 seismic events. About an hour after those events, the same record indicated an Mc 2.1 earthquake. On 6 November, a small rockslide on the SW flank was recorded by a webcam and the seismic network. Scientists aboard an overflight observed a new dome (number 53), emplaced during 4 5 November; it was an estimated 250 m in diameter and 30 m thick.

During 7 11 November 2014, seismicity indicated continuing gas-and-steam emissions, with small amounts of ash. Incandescence from the crater was observed most nights. Explosions during 10-11 November ejected incandescent tephra and generated ash plumes that rose 1.2 km above the crater. Gas-and-steam emissions continued through the rest of November.

During December 2014, occasional explosions continued, generating ash plumes that rose as high as 3-3.5 km, resulting in minor ashfall on nearby villages. One or more rockslides were noted in addition to the usual small ash plumes, the occasional incandescence at the crater and associated with tephra. One plume on 8 December rose to 3 km above the crater. CENAPRED reported that the international airport in Puebla was temporarily closed on 17 December 2014 due to ashfall from an explosion that generated a 2 km high ash plume. The explosion also ejected incandescent tephra that landed 700 m down the N flank. During an overflight during the last half of December, volcanologists observed a lava dome at the bottom of the crater. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two.

References: de la Cruz-Reyna, S, Yokoyama, I, Martínez-Bringas, A, and Ramos, E, 2008, Precursory seismicity of the 1994 eruption of Popocatépetl Volcano, Central Mexico. Bulletin of Volcanology, 70(6), 753-767.

González-Mellado, AO, and de la Cruz-Reyna, S, 2008, A simplified equation of state for the density of silicate hydrous magmas: an application to the Popocatépetl buoyancy-driven dome growth process. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 171(3), 287-300.

Tárraga, M, de la Cruz-Reyna, S, Mendoza-Rosas, A, Carniel, R, Martínez-Bringas, A, García, A, and Ortiz, R, 2012, Dynamical parameter analysis of continuous seismic signals of Popocatépetl volcano (Central Mexico): A case of tectonic earthquakes influencing volcanic activity. Acta Geophysica, 60(3), 664-681.

Wright, RS, de La Cruz-Reyna, S, Harris, A, Flynn, L, and Gomez-Palacios, JJ, 2002, Infrared satellite monitoring at Popocatépetl: Explosions, exhalations, and cycles of dome growth, J. Geophys. Res., 107(B8), doi: 10.1029/2000JB000125.

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

Information Contacts: Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED) (URL: https://www.gob.mx/cenapred/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/index.html); Agence France Presse (AFP)(URL: http://www.afp.com/en/); Associated Press (URL: http://www.ap.org/); Stuff (URL: http://www.stuff.co.nz).

Atmospheric Effects

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

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

Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

Special Announcements

Additional Reports

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

Kermadec Islands


Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion


Tonga Islands


Floating Pumice (Tonga)


Fiji Islands


Floating Pumice (Fiji)


Andaman Islands


False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions


Sangihe Islands


1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake


Southeast Asia


Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong


Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu


Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)


Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands


Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source


Kuril Islands


Possible 1988 Eruption Plume


Aleutian Islands


Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


Mexico


False Report of New Volcano


Nicaragua


Apoyo


Colombia


La Lorenza Mud Volcano


Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)


False Report of Submarine Volcanism


Central Chile and Argentina


Estero de Parraguirre


West Indies


Mid-Cayman Spreading Center


Atlantic Ocean (northern)


Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone


Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands


Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge


Additional Reports (database)

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

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

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

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

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

UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

12/2005 (BGVN 30:12) Elgon

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



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

False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Philippines

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


False Report of Somalia Eruption (Somalia) — December 1997

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Somalia

3.25°N, 41.667°E; summit elev. 500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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


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

False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Turkey

40.683°N, 29.1°E; summit elev. 0 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


UFO adherent claims new volcano in Sea of Marmara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information Contacts: Erol Erkmen, Tuvpo Project Alp.


Har-Togoo (Mongolia) — May 2003

Har-Togoo

Mongolia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Fumaroles and minor seismicity since October 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Elgon (Uganda) — December 2005

Elgon

Uganda

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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