Report on Fuego (Guatemala) — 17 February-23 February 2021
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
17 February-23 February 2021
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2021. Report on Fuego (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 February-23 February 2021. 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 4-12 explosions were recorded per hour during 17-23 February at Fuego, generating ash plumes as high as 1.1 km above the crater rim. Shock waves rattled buildings around the volcano. Block avalanches descended the Ceniza (SSW), Seca (W), Trinidad (S), Taniluyá (SW), Las Lajas (SE), and Honda drainages, often reaching vegetated areas. Ashfall was reported on most days in several areas downwind including Morelia (9 km SW), Panimaché I (8 km SW), Santa Sofía (12 km SW), El Porvenir (8 km ENE), and San Pedro Yepocapa (8 km NW). Notably, on 17 February ash plumes drifted as far as 50 km E, causing ashfall in local communities as well as in Guatemala City (city center is about 40 km ENE). Ash plumes drifted 40 km SW on 18 February. Curtains of old ash deposits remobilized by strong winds were observed during 19-21 February. Incandescent material was ejected 100-400 m above the summit during 19-22 February.
Geological Summary. 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.