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Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — December 1990

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 15, no. 12 (December 1990)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Santa Maria (Guatemala) Frequent explosions eject ash

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1990. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala). In: McClelland, L (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 15:12. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199012-342030.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin

Santa Maria


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Four explosions were observed during 3 hours of observations on 10 January. The first, at 1015, produced a column about 3 km high and deposited ash, consisting of accreted fine (<1 mm) crystal and lithic fragments, at least 3 km NW of the vent. The explosion was preceded by a notable increase in the energy of degassing from Caliente vent, and a plume color change to brown, apparently reflecting greater ash content. The two subsequent explosions were not as energetic, but the fourth produced a column that appeared to be higher than the first. Additional tall eruption columns, >1,200 m high, were frequently observed on subsequent days.

Geologic Background. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa MarĂ­a volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that 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 westward-younging vents, the most recent of which is Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Information Contacts: S. Williams, M. Calvache, S. Schaefer, T. Ross, and other field trip participants, Louisiana State Univ, USA; Otoniel Matías, INSIVUMEH.