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Report on Fuego (Guatemala) — November 2004


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 29, no. 11 (November 2004)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Fuego (Guatemala) Explosions and lava flows continued in November-December 2003

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2004. Report on Fuego (Guatemala) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 29:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200411-342090



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Explosions and lava flows at Fuego continued after October 2003 (BGVN28:10). Similar activity prevailed through 2003 and 2004. This report discusses events during November-December 2003 and includes a table summarizing Fuego's 2003 behavior (table 3). A future report will discuss 2004 activity and will include a map showing critical place names. Several pyroclastic flows occurred in 2003.

Table 3. Representative examples of reported volcanism at Fuego during 2003. Courtesy of INSIVUMEH.

Date Lava flows, incandescent avalanches, and pyroclasticflows (PFs) Ash column and ashfall Data source(s)
08 Jan 2003 Lava flows. Two PFs (down Sta. Teresa drainage). Steam-and-ash to ~5.7 km a.s.l., drifted W. INSIVUMEH, CONRED, Washington VAAC, EFE via COMTEX, Prensa Libra
Mid Jan 2003 Incandescent avalanches down flanking canyons. ~2 km above summit, drifting S and SW, depositing fine ash. INSIVUMEH, Washington VAAC
28 Apr-01 May 2003 Incandescent avalanches. Intermittent ash eruptions, One ash plume reached ~7 km a.s.l., blown SW at 20-30 km/hour; some puffs visible over the coast. INSIVUMEH, Washington VAAC, US Air Force Weather Agency
29 Jun 2003 Lava flows and avalanches down E flank (incandescence seen from city of Antigua and the coast). PFs extended ~1.5 km down the W flank. Ash fell in villages to W and SE; Ash clouds to ~900 m. INSIVUMEH
09 Jul 2003 Lava dome collapse PFs. Strong explosions sent ash to ~2 km above summit; ash fell to W and SE of summit. Washington VAAC, Prensa Libre
07 Aug 2003 -- A small ash emission seen on satellite imagery. The ash cloud drifted NW and covered an area about 3.5 x 3.5 km. Washington VAAC
08 Sep 2003 -- Ash plumes; one drifted S and covered an area of 5 x 5 km; another rose to ~6 km a.s.l. Washington VAAC
09 Oct 2003 -- A pilot saw Fuego ash reaching ~4.6 a.s.l. No ash was visible on satellite imagery. Washington VAAC
17 Oct 2003 Small incandescent avalanche down the Sta. Teresa valley. A 33-minute-long eruption sent a gas-and-ash plume to ~1.5 km above the crater. INSIVUMEH
Nov-Dec 2003 Incandescent avalanches. 4 November explosions threw material 150 m above crater rim; 18-19 November, gas-and-ash plumes up to 1.2 km above the crater; 28 Nov-1 Dec, 700-900 m above the crater; 7-9 December, 500 m above crater; 10-16 December, 200-1000 m above the crater, and 18-22 and 30 December, 'low-level plumes.' INSIVUMEH

Tremor was common and at times abundant during 2003, including in the last two months of the year. On 21 November, almost continuous harmonic tremor was detected for a span of 21 hours. On 23 November intervals of tremor lasted between 0.5 and 3 hours.

The Washington VAAC archive contains 48 ash advisories on Fuego. The number of these advisories were as follows, during the stated months of 2003: 14 advisories in January (on the 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th, and 20th); 11 in April (on the 17th, 28th, 29th, and 30th); eight in May (1st and 2nd); three in June (30th), six in July (1st, 9th, and 10th), two in August (7th), two in September (29th); and two in October (9th). The most impressive plumes depicted in satellite-based graphics were for 28 April-1 May 2003, when they often stretched well out to sea, reaching ~ 160 km SW from Fuego. Otherwise, the graphics generally depicted much smaller plumes, in some cases very local ones. The graphic for 28 September showed small plumes from Fuego as well as simultaneous ones from Pacaya and Santa María.

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: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH), Unit of Volcanology, Geologic Department of Investigation and Services, 7a Av. 14-57, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch, NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/); Charles R. Holliday, Air Force Weather Agency, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska 68113 USA; Prensa Libre (newspaper), 13 calle 9-31 zona 1, 01001 Guatemala City, Guatemala (URL: http://www.prensalibre.com/).