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Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) — 21 February-27 February 2024

Santa Maria

Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 February-27 February 2024
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2024. Report on Santa Maria (Guatemala) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 February-27 February 2024. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (21 February-27 February 2024)

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 20-27 February with a lava extrusion at the Caliente dome. Incandescence from the dome was visible during most nights and early mornings, and occasional incandescence was also present along the upper part of the SW-flank lava flow. Daily explosions generated gas-and-ash plumes that rose 600-900 m above the summit and drifted W, SW, and S; the explosions occurred at a rate of 1-7 per hour on at least a few of the days. The explosions produced block avalanches on the dome’s W, SW, S, and E flanks and generated occasional, short-range pyroclastic flows that descended multiple flanks. Block avalanches from the margins of the upper part of the lava flow on the WSW flank were also occasionally visible. Ashfall occurred in Loma Linda (7 km W) and San Marcos Palajunoj (8 km SW) during 20-21 February and caused hazy conditions around the volcano during 22-23 February.

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)