Report on Fuego (Guatemala) — 7 December-13 December 2022
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
7 December-13 December 2022
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2022. Report on Fuego (Guatemala). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 7 December-13 December 2022. 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 the eruption at Fuego was ongoing during 7-13 December, though activity had notably intensified during 10-11 December. The seismic network recorded 4-10 explosions per hour during the week, with ash plumes rising as high as 1.2 km above the crater rim. The ash plumes generally drifted 10-20 km NW, W, and SW, causing daily ashfall in areas downwind including Morelia (9 km SW), Panimaché I and II (8 km SW), Santa Sofía (12 km SW), El Porvenir (8 km ENE), Finca Palo Verde, Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW), San Pedro Yepocapa (8 km NW). Daily shock waves rattled structures in communities around the volcano. Daily block avalanches descended the Ceniza (SSW), Seca (W), Trinidad (S), Taniluyá (SW), Honda, Las Lajas (SE), and El Jute (ESE) drainages, often reaching vegetated areas. Strombolian explosions ejected incandescent material as high as 200 m above the summit on a few of the days.
Activity increased on 10 December. In a special report posted at 2241, INSIVUMEH noted that in the previous minutes multiple explosions of variable intensities produced ash plume that rose 1.2 km above the summit and drifted 30 km W and NW. Pulsating lava fountains rose as high as 500 m above the summit. A lava flow had traveled 800 m down the Ceniza drainage by the time the report was issued, and avalanches of material spalled from its front reached vegetated areas. At 2300 pyroclastic flows descended the Las Lajas drainage several kilometers. Dense ash plumes and pyroclastic flows down the Las Lajas drainage continued for at least an hour. Just before 0030 on 11 December pyroclastic flows traveled several kilometers down the Ceniza drainage on the SW flank. Lava fountains rose as high as 300 m. By 0640 dense ash plumes were rising over 1.2 km above the summit and the lava flow remained active. Avalanches of material from the advancing lava front descended to vegetated areas. Satellite images showed that ash clouds had spread NE, E, and SE, covering a wide area in the department of Sacatepéquez and the central and southern parts of the department of Guatemala. Activity decreased by the early afternoon; lava fountaining, dense ash emissions, and pyroclastic flows had all ceased before 1410.
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.