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Report on Fuego (Guatemala) — March 1981


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 3 (March 1981)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Fuego (Guatemala) Gas emission; no significant changes in the summit area

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1981. Report on Fuego (Guatemala) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 6:3. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198103-342090



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

On 16, 17, and 18 February geologists visited the summits of Fuego and Acatenango Volcanoes. Comparisons of photographs of Fuego taken on this expedition to ones taken by W.I. Rose, Jr., in February 1980 showed no striking physical changes in the summit region. The main areas of gas emission, on the N and the SE sides of the main crater, were the same as in 1980. The SE area is a spatter vent from Fuego's last eruption in 1977-79. During the group's visit, gas was being emitted at a moderate, steady rate, as in early 1980. On 21 February, however, the group observed that there was a clear pulsation in the rate of emission, with a period of about 2 minutes. A light wind on the 21st allowed the gas plume to rise nearly vertically about 400 m above the crater. Around the crater rim there were only a few fumaroles in contrast to many in early 1980. New fumaroles had appeared around and atop an older irregular domal protrusion on the W flank of the summit.

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: T. Bornhorst and C. Chesner, Michigan Tech. Univ.