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Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — 23 August-29 August 2023

Santa Maria

Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 23 August-29 August 2023
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2023. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 23 August-29 August 2023. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (23 August-29 August 2023)

Santa Maria


14.757°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3745 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

INSIVUMEH reported that eruptive activity continued at Santa Maria’s Santiaguito lava dome complex during 23-29 August. Incandescence from the dome was visible during most nights and early mornings, and occasionally from the SW lava flow. Lava extrusion continued and caused dome collapses and occasional short pyroclastic flows. Lava flows remained active in the Zanjón, Seco, and San Isidro drainages. Daily weak-to-moderate explosions generated gas-and-ash plumes that rose 700-1,000 m above the dome and drifted in multiple directions. Some explosions also triggered incandescent avalanches that descended the dome’s flanks in all directions, and into the Zanjón, Seco, and San Isidro drainages. Ashfall was reported in Belén (10 km S), Calaguache (9 km S), Santa María de Jesús (5 km SE) during 25-26 and 28-29 August.

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 E 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.

Source: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia, e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH)