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Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — December 1999

Santa Maria

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 24, no. 12 (December 1999)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Santa Maria (Guatemala) Dome growth, explosions, and related processes in mid- to late 1999

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1999. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 24:12. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199912-342030

Santa Maria


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Many dome collapses took place in late July 1999 when the Caliente crater was the scene of repeated pyroclastic flows. Ash columns rose up to ~2.5 km. Dark beige to gray-colored ash fell ~25 km S in Retalhuleu and some fine ash traveled farther still. Dome extrusions also took place; some relatively fluid lavas traveled towards the S.

When visited on 28-29 December, the volcano's activity consisted of weak explosions. Some of these explosions were accompanied by moderate rumbling, weak avalanches, and sizable, active lava flows descending the S flank. A continuous wind, ~35 km/hour, prevailed in the volcano's vicinity.

During 2137-0919 on 29-30 December observers noted four weak explosions. Two of these, at 2137 and 0419, had associated strong tremor and fine gray ash emissions that rose ~50 m and blew W. Visitors also noted a few weak avalanches.

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: Eddie Sánchez and Otoniel Matías, Instituto Nacional de Sismología, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hydrología (INSIVUMEH), Ministerio de Communicaciones, Transporte y Obras Publicas, 7A Avenida 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala.