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Report on Kavachi (Solomon Islands) — October 2020

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 45, no. 10 (October 2020)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke. Edited by Kadie L. Bennis.

Kavachi (Solomon Islands) Discolored water plumes observed in satellite imagery during early September 2020

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2020. Report on Kavachi (Solomon Islands) (Bennis, K.L., and Venzke, E., eds.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 45:10. Smithsonian Institution.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


Solomon Islands

8.991°S, 157.979°E; summit elev. -20 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Kavachi is an active submarine volcano in the SW Pacific, located in the Solomon Islands south of Gatokae and Vangunu islands. Volcanism has been characterized by phreatomagmatic explosions that ejected steam, ash, and incandescent bombs. The previous report described discolored water plumes extending from a single point during early 2018 and April 2020 (BGVN 45:05); similar activity was recorded for this current reporting period covering May through September 2020 and primarily using satellite data.

Activity at Kavachi is most frequently observed through satellite images and typically consists of discolored submarine plumes. On 2 September 2020 a slight yellow discoloration in the water was observed extending E from a specific point (figure 22). Similar faint plumes continued to be recorded on 5, 7, 12, and 17 September, each of which seemed to be drifting generally E from a point source above the summit where previous activity has occurred. On 7 September the discolored plume was accompanied by white degassing and possibly agitated water on the surface at the origin point (figure 22).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 22. Sentinel-2 satellite images of a discolored plume (light yellow) at Kavachi beginning on 2 September (top left) and continuing through 17 September 2020 (bottom right). The light blue circle on the 7 September image highlights the surface degassing and source of the discolored water plume. The white arrow on the bottom right image is pointing to the faint discolored plume. Images with “Natural color” rendering (bands 4, 3, 2); courtesy of Sentinel Hub Playground.

Geologic Background. Named for a sea-god of the Gatokae and Vangunu peoples, Kavachi is one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the SW Pacific, located in the Solomon Islands south of Vangunu Island. Sometimes referred to as Rejo te Kvachi ("Kavachi's Oven"), this shallow submarine basaltic-to-andesitic volcano has produced ephemeral islands up to 1 km long many times since its first recorded eruption during 1939. Residents of the nearby islands of Vanguna and Nggatokae (Gatokae) reported "fire on the water" prior to 1939, a possible reference to earlier eruptions. The roughly conical edifice rises from water depths of 1.1-1.2 km on the north and greater depths to the SE. Frequent shallow submarine and occasional subaerial eruptions produce phreatomagmatic explosions that eject steam, ash, and incandescent bombs. On a number of occasions lava flows were observed on the ephemeral islands.

Information Contacts: Sentinel Hub Playground (URL: https://www.sentinel-hub.com/explore/sentinel-playground).