Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — 29 February-6 March 2012
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
29 February-6 March 2012
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2012. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 29 February-6 March 2012. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
14.757°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3745 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INSIVUMEH reported that during 1-2 March explosions from Santa María's Santiaguito lava-dome complex generated ash plumes that rose 800 m above the crater and drifted 20 km W and SW. Block avalanches descended the SW flank, and lava flows were active on the S, SW, and NE flanks. Based on analyses of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that during 3-4 March ash plumes drifted SW. On 5 March an ash plume rose to an altitude of 4.6 km (15,000 ft) a.s.l.
Geological Summary. Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is part of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rise above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The sharp-topped, conical profile is cut on the SW flank by a 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank, and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned Plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four vents, with activity progressing W towards the most recent, Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.