Report on Fuego (Guatemala) — 8 May-14 May 2019
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 8 May-14 May 2019
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2019. Report on Fuego (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 8 May-14 May 2019. 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 there were 13-24 explosions per hour recorded at Fuego during 9-10 and 12-14 May, generating ash plumes that rose as high as 1.1 km above the crater rim and drifted 10-15 km S and SW. Explosions sometimes produced shock waves that rattled houses in areas to the S and SW. Incandescent material was ejected 200-300 m high and caused avalanches of material that occasionally traveled long distances (and reached vegetated areas) down the Seca (W), Taniluyá (SW), Ceniza (SSW), Trinidad (S), and Las Lajas (SE) ravines. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind including Santa Sofía (12 km SW), Morelia (9 km SW), Panimaché (8 km SW), El Porvenir (8 km ENE), and Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW). Lava flows were 500-600 m long on the W flank.
On 11 May steaming lahars descended the Las Lajas, Seca, Ceniza, and Mineral drainages, carrying variously-sized blocks and tree parts. Lahars on 14 May carried blocks and tree trunks down the Ceniza drainage.
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.