Report on Pacaya (Guatemala) — 31 March-6 April 2021
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
31 March-6 April 2021
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2021. Report on Pacaya (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 31 March-6 April 2021. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
14.382°N, 90.601°W; summit elev. 2569 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INSIVUMEH reported that explosions at Pacaya’s Mackenney Crater during 30-31 March produced gas-and-ash plumes that rose 1.8 km above the summit and drifted up to 50 km S, SW, W, and NW. Explosions ejected blocks as high as 150 m above the summit. Lava flows on the W flank advanced to 3 km long and were near La Breña; the flows overtook an unoccupied building on the Campo Alegre farm that was used for monitoring and visitor services. The flow front was about 500 m from the town of El Patrocinio. Incandescent blocks detached from the end of the lava flow and set fire to vegetation. During 31 March-2 April explosions ejected incandescent blocks as high as 225 m above the summit. Ash plumes rose 500 m and drifted 20 km S and SW. The SW-flank lava flows remained active. Explosions continued during 3-6 April, with ash plumes rising as high as 1 km and drifting 6-20 km W, SW, and S. The lava flow continued to be active on the SW flank, setting fire to local vegetation. Strombolian activity ejected material 300 m high during 5-6 April.
Geological Summary. 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.