Report on Fuego (Guatemala) — 5 January-11 January 2011
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 5 January-11 January 2011
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2011. Report on Fuego (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 5 January-11 January 2011. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
14.473°N, 90.88°W; summit elev. 3763 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INSIVUMEH reported that during 5-6 January explosions from Fuego produced ash plumes that rose 500-800 m above the crater and drifted 10 km S and SW. The explosions caused windows and roofs to rattle in areas 6 km away. Fine ashfall was reported in communities downwind including Panimaché (6 km SW), Morelia (7 km SW), and Yepocapa (8 km WNW). Incandescence from the crater was observed at night. On 8 January, the Washington VAAC reported multiple gas-and-ash plumes that rose to an altitude of 5.2 km (17,000 ft) a.s.l. were observed in satellite imagery. During 10-11 January INSIVUMEH again reported that explosions produced ash plumes that rose 500-800 m above the crater and shock waves that were detected as far away as 7 km. Plumes drifted 15 km W and block avalanches descended a few drainages.
Geologic Background. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3763-m-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the north, Acatenango. 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 Acatenango. In contrast to 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.