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Report on Fuego (Guatemala) — December 1999


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

Fuego (Guatemala) 28-29 December explosions expelled ash and a 900-m-tall plume

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1999. Report on Fuego (Guatemala) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 24:12. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199912-342090



14.473°N, 90.88°W; summit elev. 3763 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Fuego resumed eruptive activity on 21 May 1999 (BGVN 24:04). No reports are currently available to describe August through 27 December activity.

On 28-29 December observers noted weak, moderate, and some strong explosions that emitted gray ash 100-800 m S and SW of the vent. By the evening of 28 December it was possible to observe incandescent material over the crater. The rising ash formed a black column to 300-500 m altitude, blowing S. Until 1040, seismic data revealed 22 explosions, many of moderate amplitude.

Ash expulsions continued with associated earthquakes until 0915 the following day. Later in the reporting interval, the eruptive and associated seismic activity decreased with the exception of ~35 minutes on 28 December, when a black column of ash (blowing SW) continued to escape. Consistent explosions gave off gray ash in weak-to-moderate plumes; these reached up to ~900 m over the crater. Wind carried portions of the ash plume to the E, S, and SW. When strong, the explosions were audible in nearby villages such as El Parcelamiento Morelia and Aldea Panimanche. Volcano watchers chiefly saw explosions at night, when incandescent material rose over the crater.

General Reference. Chesner, C.A., and Rose, W.I., 1984, Geochemistry and evolution of the Fuego Volcanic Complex, Guatemala: JVGR, v. 21, p. 25-44.

Geological Summary. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is also one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between Fuego and Acatenango to the north. Construction of Meseta dates back to about 230,000 years and continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Collapse of Meseta may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km onto the Pacific coastal plain. Growth of the modern Fuego volcano followed, continuing the southward migration of volcanism that began at the mostly andesitic Acatenango. Eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.

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.