Report on Fuego (Guatemala) — 26 August-1 September 2020
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
26 August-1 September 2020
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2020. Report on Fuego (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 26 August-1 September 2020. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
14.473°N, 90.88°W; summit elev. 3763 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INSIVUMEH reported that there were 3-16 explosions per hour at Fuego recorded during 26 August-1 September, generating ash plumes as high as 1.1 km above the crater rim that generally drifted 10-20 km NW, W, and SW. Shock waves rattled buildings within a 20-km radius. Incandescent material was ejected 100-300 m high, causing avalanches of blocks in the Ceniza (SSW), Seca (W), Trinidad (S), Taniluyá (SW), Las Lajas, and Honda drainages; avalanches sometimes reached vegetated areas. Ashfall was reported in several areas downwind including Morelia (9 km SW), Panimaché I and II (8 km SW), Finca Palo Verde, Santa Sofía (12 km SW), San Pedro Yepocapa (8 km NW), and Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW). During 26-27 August a lava flow traveled 150 m down the Ceniza drainage and lengthened to 400 m on 28 August; the front of the lava flow generated block avalanches. By 30 August the continuously active flow was 500 m long. During 31 August-1 September the first 200 m of the lava flow was active and continued to produce block avalanches.
Geological Summary. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is also one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between Fuego and Acatenango to the north. Construction of Meseta dates back to about 230,000 years and continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Collapse of Meseta may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km onto the Pacific coastal plain. Growth of the modern Fuego volcano followed, continuing the southward migration of volcanism that began at the mostly andesitic Acatenango. Eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.