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Report on Pagan (United States) — September 2009


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 34, no. 9 (September 2009)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Pagan (United States) Emission of a small plume in mid-April 2009

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2009. Report on Pagan (United States) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 34:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200909-284170


United States

18.13°N, 145.8°E; summit elev. 570 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Our most recent report on Pagan (BGVN 32:01) covered light ashfall and a small gas plume probably containing some ash during the first week of December 2006. We received no additional information regarding activity at Pagan until April 2009. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) does not currently have monitoring instruments on Pagan. Monitoring is by satellite and ground observers.

According to the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), a plume from Pagan on 15 April consisting of intermittent puffs of steam rose to an altitude of 1.8 km and drifted about 37 km W. This observation was confirmed by a ship crew that noted a white plume "with some black" that same day.

On 16 April, the Washington VAAC reported that a narrow plume of unknown composition extended 85 km W from the volcano. According to the CNMI Emergency Management Office, fishermen reported that the plume was "thicker" on 15 April than on 16 April. Weather clouds obscured satellite views. The next day fishermen again reported a plume.

By 17 April, steaming had diminished. A passing pilot reported seeing no activity; however, the Washington VAAC noted a very faint plume extending 85 km NNW in satellite imagery.

Crew on a U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship observed continuous emissions from the N crater during 21-22 April. Satellite imagery analyzed by the Washington VAAC showed a diffuse plume drifting 15 km W on 23 April. On 28 April, steam emissions had decreased.

Based on analyses of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that on 14 August a 2-hour-long thermal anomaly detected over Pagan was followed by a small emission. The emission, hotter than its surroundings, drifted NW and quickly dissipated.

No thermal hotspots on Pagan have been detected by MODIS during the last five years.

Geological Summary. Pagan Island, the largest and one of the most active of the Mariana Islands volcanoes, consists of two stratovolcanoes connected by a narrow isthmus. Both North and South Pagan stratovolcanoes were constructed within calderas, 7 and 4 km in diameter, respectively. North Pagan at the NE end of the island rises above the flat floor of the northern caldera, which may have formed less than 1,000 years ago. South Pagan is a stratovolcano with an elongated summit containing four distinct craters. Almost all of the recorded eruptions, which date back to the 17th century, have originated from North Pagan. The largest eruption during historical time took place in 1981 and prompted the evacuation of the sparsely populated island.

Information Contacts: Dina Venezky, Volcano Hazards Program, U.S. Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, MS 910, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA (URL: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/); Emergency Management Office, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, PO Box 100007, Saipan, MP 96950, USA (URL: http://www.cnmihsem.gov.mp/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Rd, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), University of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).