Report on Pacaya (Guatemala) — 12 May-18 May 2021
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
12 May-18 May 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, 12 May-18 May 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 during 12-18 May the cone on Pacaya’s N flank (near Cerro Chino) continued to be active, feeding lava flows and occasionally ejecting incandescent material as high as 40 m. The lava flow slowly advanced mainly W, though remained about 2.4 km long. The flow also spread laterally and shed incandescent blocks, especially along the flow margins and where the flow travels down steep slopes. Gas-and-ash plumes visible almost daily rose as high as 900 m above the summit and drifted W, SW, and S. Ashfall was reported in El Rodeo (4 km WSW) during 15-16 May and in El Patrocinio (about 5 km W) during 15-17 May.
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.