Report on Masaya (Nicaragua) — 20 January-26 January 2016
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
20 January-26 January 2016
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2016. Report on Masaya (Nicaragua). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20 January-26 January 2016. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
11.985°N, 86.165°W; summit elev. 594 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INETER reported that during 20-22 January the lava lake in Masaya's Santiago crater continued to be active. Abundant gas emissions rose 350 m above the crater rim on 20 January, and an increase in sound waves from the lava-lake activity was reported. During a field visit that same day, volcanologists noted that the lava lake in the vent on the S part of the crater floor had risen, and that a vent on the NE part of the floor was incandescent. During 21-22 January small gas explosions sounded like gunshots.
Geological Summary. Masaya is one of Nicaragua's most unusual and most active volcanoes. It lies within the massive Pleistocene Las Sierras caldera and is itself a broad, 6 x 11 km basaltic caldera with steep-sided walls up to 300 m high. The caldera is filled on its NW end by more than a dozen vents that erupted along a circular, 4-km-diameter fracture system. The Nindirí and Masaya cones, the source of historical eruptions, were constructed at the southern end of the fracture system and contain multiple summit craters, including the currently active Santiago crater. A major basaltic Plinian tephra erupted from Masaya about 6,500 years ago. Historical lava flows cover much of the caldera floor and there is a lake at the far eastern end. A lava flow from the 1670 eruption overtopped the north caldera rim. Masaya has been frequently active since the time of the Spanish Conquistadors, when an active lava lake prompted attempts to extract the volcano's molten "gold." Periods of long-term vigorous gas emission at roughly quarter-century intervals have caused health hazards and crop damage.