Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — 1 February-7 February 2012
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 1 February-7 February 2012
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2012. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 1 February-7 February 2012. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
14.757°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3745 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INSIVUMEH reported that active lava flows on the S and SE flanks of Santa María's Santiaguito lava-dome complex generated block avalanches during 1-3 February. Explosions sent ash plumes 500-600 m above the complex that drifted S, SW, and WSW. Ashfall was reported in Monte Claro (S) and Palajunoj (SW) on 1 February, and in La Florida (5 km S), San Marcos (46 km NW), and Palajunoj during 2-3 February. Strong winds caused re-suspended ash to rise 1 km high and drift several kilometers W and S. Rumbling noises were heard 15 km away on the S and W flanks during 1-3 February. Gas plumes rose 500 m above the Caliente Cone and drifted S and SW during 2-3 February.
Geologic Background. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that 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 westward-younging vents, the most recent of which is Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.