Report on Fuego (Guatemala) — 6 April-12 April 2016
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 April-12 April 2016
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2016. Report on Fuego (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 April-12 April 2016. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
14.473°N, 90.88°W; summit elev. 3763 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
In a special bulletin from 7 April, INSIVUMEH reported that moderate and strong explosions at Fuego generated ash plumes that rose 850-1,050 m and drifted 15 km SW. The explosions were heard in areas as far as 20 km away, and were accompanied by shock waves that vibrated structures within a 12-km radius. Rumbling was heard in Santa Lucia Cotzulmaguapa (20 km SW). Ash fell in local areas including Panimache and Panimache II (8 km SW), Morelia (9 km SW), and Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW). During 7-8 April gray ash plumes from explosions rose as high as 950 m and drifted 15 km W and SW. Rumbling noises and detectable shock waves continued. Incandescent material was ejected 250 m high and generated avalanches down the Las Lajas (SE), Trinidad (S), Santa Teresa (W), and Taniluyá (SW) drainages. A high level of activity continued during 9-12 April; five to six explosions per hour were detected during 9-10 April. Dense ash plumes rose over 1 km high and drifted 15 km SW. Ashfall was noted in multiple villages including San Pedro Yepocapa (8 km N), Panimaché, and Sangre de Cristo. Shock waves vibrated structures within 15 km, and rumbling was heard 30 km away. At night block avalanches were seen reaching vegetated areas on the flanks. During 11-12 April incandescent material was ejected 200 m high, causing avalanches down the Las Lajas, Trinidad, Santa Teresa, Taniluyá, and Ceniza (SSW) drainages.
Geologic Background. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is also one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between Fuego and Acatenango to the north. 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 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.