Report on Pacaya (Guatemala) — 12 December-18 December 2018
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 12 December-18 December 2018
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2018. Report on Pacaya (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 12 December-18 December 2018. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
14.382°N, 90.601°W; summit elev. 2569 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
In a special notice posted on 13 December INSIVUMEH reported that rumbling at Pacaya was heard within a radius of 8 km, and weak Strombolian explosions at Mackenney Crater ejected material as high as 50 m above the crater rim. Active lava flows were 200-300 m in length and traveled down the NW flank, generating avalanches of blocks that were as large as 1 m in diameter. The report also noted that the cone in the crater continued to grow, filling the crater, and was 75 m above the crater rim. During 15-16 December lava continued to flow NW and Strombolian explosions ejected material 5-25 m high.
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.