Report on Pacaya (Guatemala) — 21 July-27 July 2010

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 July-27 July 2010
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2010. Report on Pacaya (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 July-27 July 2010. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (21 July-27 July 2010)


Pacaya

Guatemala

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


INSIVUMEH reported that on 20 July Strombolian explosions from Pacaya's MacKenney cone ejected ash that fell in neighboring areas. During 20-21 July there were 90 explosions recorded by the seismic network. Based on information from INSIVUMEH, the Washington VAAC reported that on 22 July a plume rose to an altitude of 4.6 km (15,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted N. A weak thermal anomaly was seen in subsequent images. The next day, ash plumes drifted N at an altitude of 4.1 km (13,500 ft) a.s.l. and produced ashfall in areas within 10 km. On 25 July, INSIVUMEH noted that Strombolian explosions ejected tephra 100 m above the crater, and generated ash plumes that rose 300 m above the crater and drifted 10 km SW. Ejected blocks fell onto the flanks.

Geologic Background. Eruptions from Pacaya, one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes, 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 ancestral Pacaya Viejo and Cerro Grande stratovolcanoes and the currently active Mackenney stratovolcano. Collapse of Pacaya Viejo between 600 and 1500 years ago produced a debris-avalanche deposit that extends 25 km onto the Pacific coastal plain and left an arcuate somma rim inside which the modern Pacaya volcano (Mackenney cone) grew. A subsidiary crater, Cerro Chino, was constructed on the NW somma rim and 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 armored the flanks of Mackenney cone, punctuated by occasional larger explosive eruptions that partially destroy the summit of the growing young stratovolcano.

Sources: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia, e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH), Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)