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Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — December 1990

Santa Maria

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) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 15:12. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199012-342030

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.

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