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Report on Pacaya (Guatemala) — August 1987


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 12, no. 8 (August 1987)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Pacaya (Guatemala) Lava production resumes; Strombolian activity

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1987. Report on Pacaya (Guatemala) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 12:8. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198708-342110



14.382°N, 90.601°W; summit elev. 2569 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During the first 20 days of July, activity was weak, limited to sporadic explosions from MacKenney Crater. No lava flows had been observed since the strong 14 June explosive eruption. Activity increased on 23 July, to 5-10 explosions/15 minutes from MacKenney Crater as recorded by seismic instruments. About 26 July, a new lava flow was observed emerging from MacKenney Crater and advancing W. Two small vents were observed within MacKenney Crater, ejecting gas, dark gray ash and pyroclastics. Most fell back into the crater, but fresh bombs were found on the older summit cone about 100 m to the south.

Geological Summary. Eruptions from Pacaya are frequently visible from Guatemala City, the nation's capital. This complex basaltic volcano was constructed just outside the southern topographic rim of the 14 x 16 km Pleistocene Amatitlán caldera. A cluster of dacitic lava domes occupies the southern caldera floor. The post-caldera Pacaya massif includes the older Pacaya Viejo and Cerro Grande stratovolcanoes and the currently active Mackenney stratovolcano. Collapse of Pacaya Viejo between 600 and 1,500 years ago produced a debris-avalanche deposit that extends 25 km onto the Pacific coastal plain and left an arcuate scarp inside which the modern Pacaya volcano (Mackenney cone) grew. The NW-flank Cerro Chino crater was last active in the 19th century. During the past several decades, activity has consisted of frequent Strombolian eruptions with intermittent lava flow extrusion that has partially filled in the caldera moat and covered the flanks of Mackenney cone, punctuated by occasional larger explosive eruptions that partially destroy the summit.

Information Contacts: E. Sánchez, INSIVUMEH.