Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — 14 May-20 May 2014
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 14 May-20 May 2014
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2014. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 14 May-20 May 2014. 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 on 14 May a lahar, the first since the 9 May eruption at Santa María's Santiaguito lava-dome complex, carried blocks up to 2 m in diameter as well as tree trunks. During 15-16 May explosions generated ash plumes that rose 700 m and drifted W and SW. During an overflight on 16 May, experts from both CONRED and INSIVUMEH observed affected areas from the 9 May eruption including deposits in the Nima I river drainage. They also noted that explosions and rumbling from the complex were at normal levels. On 18 May a lahar that was 15 m wide and 2 m deep in the Nima I drainage carried tree trunks and branches and had a strong sulfur odor. A secondary explosion in the drainage was caused by the interaction of water with the hot deposits. Lahars in the San Isidro rivers and Tambor also carried blocks. During 19-20 May explosions produced ash plumes that rose 700 m and drifted SW, causing ashfall in Monte Claro.
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 3772-m-high stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that is cut on the SW flank by a large, 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.