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Report on Momotombo (Nicaragua) — June 1999


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 24, no. 6 (June 1999)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Momotombo (Nicaragua) Fumarole temperatures remain high in April 1999

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1999. Report on Momotombo (Nicaragua) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 24:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199906-344090



12.423°N, 86.539°W; summit elev. 1270 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Fumarole temperatures have been rising on Momotombo since 1996. An April 1996 summit visit reported that temperatures were unchanged over the past year (BGVN 21:04), but by November of that year the temperatures had begun to fluctuate (BGVN 21:11). Fumarole temperatures in November 1996 registered between 130 and 677°C, higher than those recorded in October but lower than those in April. The flux was attributed to seasonal change; an intense rainy season and associated erosion accounted for the October lows. Temperatures had increased again by July 1997 to 232-773°C (BGVN 22:07).

In October 1997 higher than normal fumarole temperatures were attributed to arid conditions. During a 1 September visit to the summit area, fumarole temperatures were measured at their usual points and found escalated. The maximum temperature was 740°C. Because the temperature increase coincided with a dry spell, the heightened fumarolic activity was not deemed alarming.

Elevated temperatures were also reported in March 1998 (BGVN 23:03). Measurements during a 28 February visit revealed higher-than-normal fumarolic temperatures in the summit area. The high temperatures were again associated with a recent period of aridity, during which time fumarolic activity increased. Temperatures ranged from 318 to 748°C.

On 24 April 1999 the summit area was visited and temperatures again found inflated in the five areas of fumarolic activity. The maximum temperatures were, in the south area of the crater, 725°C and, in the north, 550°C. Significant changes in the crater morphology were noted and attributed to the strong erosion induced by Hurricane Mitch in October 1998.

Geological Summary. Momotombo is a young stratovolcano that rises prominently above the NW shore of Lake Managua, forming one of Nicaragua's most familiar landmarks. Momotombo began growing about 4500 years ago at the SE end of the Marrabios Range and consists of a somma from an older edifice that is surmounted by a symmetrical younger cone with a 150 x 250 m wide summit crater. Young lava flows extend down the NW flank into the 4-km-wide Monte Galán caldera. The youthful cone of Momotombito forms an island offshore in Lake Managua. Momotombo has a long record of Strombolian eruptions, punctuated by occasional stronger explosive activity. The latest eruption, in 1905, produced a lava flow that traveled from the summit to the lower NE base. A small black plume was seen above the crater after a 10 April 1996 earthquake, but later observations noted no significant changes in the crater. A major geothermal field is located on the south flank.

Information Contacts: Alain Creusot, Instituto Nicaraguense de Energía, Managua, Nicaragua.