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Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — January 1990

Santa Maria

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 15, no. 1 (January 1990)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Santa Maria (Guatemala) Occasional low-density ash ejections; small lava flow spawns rock avalanches

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1990. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 15:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199001-342030

Santa Maria


14.757°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Geologists noted several low-density ash ejections from Caliente Vent during 1 1/2 hours of observations beginning at 0945 on 3 January. The largest, at 1010, produced a gas/ash plume 1,000 m high. Subsequent episodes were smaller, ejecting plumes to a few hundred meters above the vent. A small lava flow that was emerging from Caliente Vent moved slowly down the dome's upper SE flank. The flow was a few tens of meters long, with associated rock avalanche deposits extending several hundred meters from its front. Recent avalanche deposits were also visible S and SW of the vent.

Caliente Vent, on the E side of Santiaguito dome, has been the site of continuous lava extrusion since 1975. A strong explosion from the Caliente Vent area on 19 July 1989 may have been the source of small lower stratospheric aerosol layers detected at several sites in August and September (see Atmospheric Effects, 14:8-9).

Geological Summary. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa MarĂ­a volcano is part of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rise above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The sharp-topped, conical profile is cut on the SW flank by a 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank, and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned Plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four vents, with activity progressing E towards the most recent, Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Information Contacts: S. Halsor, Wilkes Univ; C. Chesner, Eastern Illinois Univ.