Report on Fuego (Guatemala) — 15 May-21 May 2019
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 May-21 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, 15 May-21 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 15-20 explosions per hour recorded at Fuego during 16-17 and 19-20 May, generating ash plumes that rose as high as 1.1 km above the crater rim and drifted 10-25 km S, SW, and W. Explosions sometimes produced shock waves that rattled houses in nearby communities. Incandescent material was ejected 300-400 m high and caused avalanches of material that occasionally traveled long distances (reaching vegetated areas) down 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 I and II (8 km SW), and El Porvenir (8 km ENE). A lava flow on the W flank was 300 m long.
On 16 May lahars carrying variously-sized blocks and tree branches and trunks descended the Las Lajas ravine. On 20 May hot lahars with a sulfur odor descended the Ceniza, El Jute, and Las Lajas drainages, carrying blocks 1-3 m in diameter.
Geologic Background. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3763-m-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the north, Acatenango. 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 Acatenango. In contrast to 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.