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Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — 24 December-30 December 2003

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 24 December-30 December 2003
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 24 December-30 December 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (24 December-30 December 2003)

Santa Maria


14.757°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

On 30 December weak-to-moderate explosions occurred at Santa Maria's Santiaguito lava-dome complex. The explosions sent ash-and-gas plumes 500-700 m above Caliente cone. They drifted SW and deposited fine ash in a mountainous region with several ranches (locally termed fincas) including, El Faro, Florida, Monte Claro and Monte Bello. Avalanches continued to spall off of lava-flow fronts on the volcano's SW and S flanks and occasionally from Caliente cone.

Geologic Background. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa MarĂ­a volcano is part of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rise above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The sharp-topped, conical profile is cut on the SW flank by a 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank, and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned Plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four vents, with activity progressing W towards the most recent, Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Source: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia, e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH)