Report on Pacaya (Guatemala) — 7 April-13 April 2021
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
7 April-13 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, 7 April-13 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 the eruption at Pacaya’s Mackenney Crater continued during 7-13 April. Explosions during 6-7 April produced ash plumes that rose 1 km above the summit and drifted 10 km W and SW. Ballistics were ejected 50-150 m above the summit. Explosions during 8-9 and 11-12 April produced ash plumes that rose as high as 1 km and drifted as far as 10 km NE, W, and SW.
The lava flow on the W and SW flanks was 3.7 km long and continued to be fed. Incandescent lava blocks were spalled from the flow front and vegetation was set on fire. The lava advanced W onto the La Breña farm and SW towards El Patrocinio and El Rodeo, near the Campo Alegre farm. On 12 April the flows burned La Breña coffee and avocado plantations. By 13 April the lava flows were 3.8 km long, and within 370 m of houses in El Patrocinio. Another flow front was 250 m E of El Rodeo, and obstructed the road that connects El Rodeo, El Caracol, and Los Pocitos.
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.