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Report on Fuego (Guatemala) — January 2000


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 25, no. 1 (January 2000)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Fuego (Guatemala) Satellite data reveals hot spot; field observers see January-February ash puffs

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2000. Report on Fuego (Guatemala) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 25:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200001-342090



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Between 19 and 27 January, Fuego emitted ash plumes at frequencies which varied from less than 1 per hour to over 12 per hour. During 19 January, Fuego erupted at-least 28 times sending ash clouds to a height of ~ 600 m. These rates are higher than Fuego's typical eruption rate). Again on 24 and 25 January, small (~ 600 m high) ash clouds rose from the summit crater at a similar rate. On 26 and 27 January, when clouds did not obscure the summit, eruption rates were rather low.

Hot spots were apparent on GOES images (http://hotspot.higp.hawaii.edu/) throughout January while analysis of a Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper scene acquired at 1030 on the morning of 23 January showed an intense thermal anomaly focused at Fuego's summit, a point source 120-150 m in diameter.

The recent activity resembles that observed in the February 1978 - May 1979 period, suggesting an open vent (Smithsonian Institution/SEAN, 1989).

More recently, on 12 February 2000, Steve and Donna O'Meara counted over 19 eruptions during periods when the volcano was visible. The volcano sent out ash puffs and moderately strong columns every 5 to 15 minutes. They reported further that they saw additional eruptions on 17 and 18 February before they departed the country.

Reference. Smithsonian Institution/SEAN, 1989, Global Volcanism 1975-1985: Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ and American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, 657 p.

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: Andy Harris and Luke Flynn, HIGP/SOEST, University of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Otoniel Matías, INSIVUMEH, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala; Bill Rose, Department of Geological Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA; James Vallance, Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2K6, Canada; Stephen and Donna O'Meara, Volcano Watch International/Nature Stock, P. O. Box 218, Volcano, HI 96785.