Smithsonian/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report
21-27 December 2011
Elisabeth Faulk - Weekly Report Editor
New Activity/Unrest: | Galeras, Colombia | Lokon-Empung, Sulawesi | Tungurahua, Ecuador | Zubair Group, Yemen
Ongoing Activity: | Fuego, Guatemala | Hierro, Canary Islands (Spain) | Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Kilauea, Hawaii (USA) | Kizimen, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Popocatépetl, México | Puyehue-Cordón Caulle, Central Chile | Sakura-jima, Kyushu | Shiveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)
The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report is a cooperative project between the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program. Updated by 2300 UTC every Wednesday, notices of volcanic activity posted on these pages are preliminary and subject to change as events are studied in more detail. This is not a comprehensive list of all of Earth's volcanoes erupting during the week, but rather a summary of activity at volcanoes that meet criteria discussed in detail in the "Criteria and Disclaimers" section. Carefully reviewed, detailed reports on various volcanoes are published monthly in the Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network.
Note: Many news agencies do not archive the articles they post on the Internet, and therefore the links to some sources may not be active. To obtain information about the cited articles that are no longer available on the Internet contact the source.
GALERAS Colombia 1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m
INGEOMINAS reported that activity continued at Galeras during 21-27 December, with steam rising from the main crater and two craters to the N and SW (Paisita and Chavas, respectively). The Alert Level remains at III (Yellow; "changes in the behavior of volcanic activity").
Geologic Summary. Galeras, a stratovolcano with a large breached caldera located immediately W of the city of Pasto, is one of Colombia's most frequently active volcanoes. The dominantly andesitic Galeras volcanic complex has been active for more than 1 million years, and two major caldera collapse eruptions took place during the late Pleistocene. Longterm extensive hydrothermal alteration has affected the volcano. This has contributed to large-scale edifice collapse that has occurred on at least three occasions, producing debris avalanches that swept to the W and left a large horseshoe-shaped caldera inside which the modern cone has been constructed. Major explosive eruptions since the mid Holocene have produced widespread tephra deposits and pyroclastic flows that swept all but the southern flanks. A central cone slightly lower than the caldera rim has been the site of numerous small-to-moderate historical eruptions since the time of the Spanish conquistadors.
Source: Instituto Colombiano de Geología y Minería (INGEOMINAS) http://www.ingeominas.gov.co/Pasto.aspx
LOKON-EMPUNG Sulawesi 1.358°N, 124.792°E; summit elev. 1580 m
According to a news article, three explosions from the Tompaluan crater, in the saddle between the Lokon-Empung peaks were recorded by the CVGHM on 27 December. CVGHM recorded 23 deep volcanic tremors and 40 shallow volcanic tremors. Residents and tourists were not permitted within a 2.5 km radius of the crater. Based on visual and seismic observations during 27-28 December, the Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4). The Darwin VAAC reported a low-level eruption on 27 December based on media reports.
Geologic Summary. The twin volcanoes Lokon and Empung, rising about 800 m above the plain of Tondano, are among the most active volcanoes of Sulawesi. Lokon, the higher of the two peaks (whose summits are only 2.2 km apart) has a flat, craterless top. The morphologically younger Empung volcano has a 400-m-wide, 150-m-deep crater that erupted last in the 18th century, but all subsequent eruptions have originated from Tompaluan, a 150 x 250 m wide double crater situated in the saddle between the two peaks. Historical eruptions have primarily produced small-to-moderate ash plumes that have occasionally damaged croplands and houses, but lava-dome growth and pyroclastic flows have also occurred.
Sources: The Jakarta Post http://www.thejakartapost.com/, Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/OTH/AU/messages.html, Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/
TUNGURAHUA Ecuador 1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m
IG reported that increased seismicity from Tungurahua was detected during 21-27 December. On 22 December ash plumes rose 500 m above the crater and drifted 2 km W. Ashfall was reported in Baños, Vazcún, and Manzano. One explosion at 0850 generated two small pyroclastic flows that descended the Achupashal and Hacienda drainages. Gas-and-ash plumes rose 4 km a.s.l. and drifted NE. On 23 December ash and gas emissions continued and at night Strombolian activity was observed with blocks rising 500 m above the crater. Ashfall was reported in Cahuají, Manzano, and Choglontus. On 24 December roaring noises were heard and ashfall in Cahuají, Manzano, and Choglontus was reported. An ash plume rose 500 m above the crater and drifted W and SW with ashfall reported in Manzano.
Geologic Summary. The steep-sided Tungurahua stratovolcano towers more than 3 km above its northern base. It sits ~140 km S of Quito, Ecuador's capital city, and is one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes. Historical eruptions have all originated from the summit crater. They have been accompanied by strong explosions and sometimes by pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached populated areas at the volcano's base. The last major eruption took place from 1916 to 1918, although minor activity continued until 1925. The latest eruption began in October 1999 and prompted temporary evacuation of the town of Baños on the N side of the volcano.
Source: Instituto Geofísico-Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG) http://www.igepn.edu.ec/
ZUBAIR GROUP Yemen 15.05°N, 42.18°E; summit elev. 191 m
An eruption from the northern part of the Zubair Group continued during 21-27 December. MODIS imagery from NASA's satellites on 22 December showed a plume, possibly containing ash, rising from what was thought to be a submarine eruption. Imagery acquired on 23 December from the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s EO-1 satellite showed a new island at the location with a plume rising from it, roughly 500 m N of Rugged Island and more than 500 m in diameter. The island was not present in a similar image acquired on 24 October 2007.
Geologic Summary. The 5-km-long Jebel Zubair Island is the largest of a group of 10 small islands and submerged shoals that rise from a shallow platform in the Red Sea rift. The platform and eruptive vents forming the islands and shoals are oriented NNW-SSE, parallel to the rift. An early explosive phase was followed by a brief period of marine erosion, and then by renewed explosive activity accompanied by the extrusion of basaltic pahoehoe lava flows. This latest phase of activity occurred on the morphologically youngest islands of Zubair, Centre Peak, Saba, and Haycock. Historical explosive activity was reported from Saddle Island in the 19th century. Spatter cones and pyroclastic cones were erupted along fissures that form the low spine of Zubair Island.
Source: NASA Earth Observatory http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/
FUEGO Guatemala 14.473°N, 90.880°W; summit elev. 3763 m
INSIVUMEH reported that during 21-27 December explosions from Fuego generated ash plumes that rose 200-800 m above the crater; the plumes drifted 10-12 km W, NW, SW, and S during 21-23 and 26-27 December. During 21-23 and 26-27 December explosions generated shock waves and rumbling sounds that were detected 12 km away. House windows and roofs vibrated in nearby villages on 27 December. Incandescence emanated from the crater at night, and avalanches traveled SW into the Taniluyá and Ceniza drainages, and S in the Santa Teresa drainage. Based on satellite observations, the Washington VAAC reported that a gas plume with possible ash drifted 9 km S on 24 December.
Geologic Summary. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3,763-m-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the N, Acatenango. Construction of Meseta volcano continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene, after which growth of the modern Fuego volcano continued the southward migration of volcanism that began at Acatenango. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded at Fuego since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows. The last major explosive eruption from Fuego took place in 1974, producing spectacular pyroclastic flows visible from Antigua.
Sources: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia, e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH) http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/, Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/messages.html
HIERRO Canary Islands (Spain) 27.73°N, 18.03°W; summit elev. 1500 m
Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) reported that during 21-27 December the submarine eruption continued S of El Hierro Island. The mean amplitude of the tremor signal remained stable during the week. Twelve seismic events were located during this period, most of them offshore, both to the N and S of the island, at depths between 12 and 26 km with a maximum magnitude of 2.8. GPS deformation data analyses showed stability in the horizontal components and trends to stability in the vertical component.
Geologic Summary. The triangular island of Hierro is the SW-most and least studied of the Canary Islands. The massive Hierro shield volcano is truncated by a large NW-facing escarpment formed as a result of gravitational collapse of El Golfo volcano about 130,000 years ago. The steep-sided 1500-m-high scarp towers above a low lava platform bordering 12-km-wide El Golfo Bay, and three other large submarine landslide deposits occur to the SW and SE. Three prominent rifts oriented NW, NE, and south at 120 degree angles form prominent topographic ridges. The subaerial portion of the volcano consists of flat-lying Quaternary basaltic and trachybasaltic lava flows and tuffs capped by numerous young cinder cones and lava flows. Holocene cones and flows are found both on the outer flanks and in the El Golfo depression. Hierro contains the greatest concentration of young vents in the Canary Islands. Uncertainty surrounds the report of an historical eruption in 1793.
Source: Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) http://www.ign.es/ign/resources/volcanologia/html/informesHIERRO.html
KARYMSKY Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) 54.05°N, 159.45°E; summit elev. 1536 m
KVERT reported that seismic activity continued at a moderate level at Karymsky during 16-23 December and indicated that possible ash plumes rose to an altitude of 4.1 km (13,500 ft) a.s.l. Satellite imagery showed a thermal anomaly on the volcano on 21 December and a gas-and-steam plume with possible ash that drifted 40 km S on 20 December. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.
Based on information from KEMSD and satellite imagery, the Tokyo VAAC reported that on 26 December an eruption produced a plume that rose to an altitude of 5.2 km (17,000 ft) a.s.l. The altitude was based on seismic analysis.
Geologic Summary. Karymsky, the most active volcano of Kamchatka's eastern volcanic zone, is a symmetrical stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera that formed about 7,600-7,700 radiocarbon years ago. Construction of the Karymsky stratovolcano began about 2,000 years later. The latest eruptive period began about 500 years ago, following a 2,300-year quiescence. Much of the cone is mantled by lava flows less than 200 years old. Historical eruptions have been Vulcanian or Vulcanian-Strombolian with moderate explosive activity and occasional lava flows from the summit crater. Most seismicity preceding Karymsky eruptions has originated beneath Akademia Nauk caldera, which is located immediately S of Karymsky volcano and erupted simultaneously with Karymsky in 1996.
Sources: Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/current/kzm/index.html, Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/OTH/JP/messages.html
KILAUEA Hawaii (USA) 19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m
During 21-27 December, HVO reported that the lava lake circulated and periodically rose and fell in the deep pit within Kilauea's Halema'uma'u Crater, remaining below the inner ledge (75 m below the crater floor). Almost daily measurements indicated that the gas plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of ash and fresh spatter nearby. On 22 December the SW vent wall collapsed into the lake, ejected lava onto the inner ledge, and caused an increased amount of ash in the plume.
Incandescence was visible from small spatter cones on the E and S edges of the Pu'u 'O'o crater floor. Pahoehoe lava flows, that were 300-400 m wide and fed by lava tubes from the fissure, continued to be active about 6.8 km SE of Pu'u 'O'o and entered the ocean W of Ka'ili'ili. During 25-26 December the tube appeared to be more robust and less surface flow activity was reported. Small plumes were observed from the ocean entry during 22-24 December and infrequent weak plumes were observed during 25-26 December. On 27 December a breakout of lava flows were visible on the pali (a fault scarp).
Geologic Summary. Kilauea, one of five coalescing volcanoes that comprise the island of Hawaii, is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Eruptions at Kilauea originate primarily from the summit caldera or along one of the lengthy E and SW rift zones that extend from the caldera to the sea. About 90% of the surface of Kilauea is formed of lava flows less than about 1,100 years old; 70% of the volcano's surface is younger than 600 years. A long-term eruption from the East rift zone that began in 1983 has produced lava flows covering more than 100 sq km, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.
Source: US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) ) http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/
KIZIMEN Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) 55.130°N, 160.32°E; summit elev. 2376 m
KVERT reported moderate seismic activity at Kizimen during 16-23 December. Satellite images showed a daily thermal anomaly and a gas-and-steam plume that drifted 65 km S on 20 December. Video observations showed a gas-and-steam plume that rose about 3.5-4 km a.s.l. on 27 December. A large lava flow on the NE and E flanks continued to effuse. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange. Based on analyses of satellite imagery and information from KVERT, the Tokyo VAAC reported that on 24 December an ash plume rose to an altitude of 5.2 km (17,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NW.
Geologic Summary. Kizimen is an isolated, conical stratovolcano that is morphologically similar to Mount St. Helens prior to its 1980 eruption. The summit of Kizimen consists of overlapping lava domes, and blocky lava flows descend the flanks of the volcano, which is the westernmost of a volcanic chain north of Kronotsky volcano. The 2,376-m-high Kizimen was formed during four eruptive cycles beginning about 12,000 years ago and lasting 2,000-3,500 years. The largest eruptions took place about 10,000 and 8300-8400 years ago, and three periods of longterm lava-dome growth have occurred. The latest eruptive cycle began about 3,000 years ago with a large explosion and was followed by lava-dome growth lasting intermittently about 1,000 years. An explosive eruption about 1,100 years ago produced a lateral blast and created a 1.0 x 0.7 km wide crater breached to the NE, inside which a small lava dome (the fourth at Kizimen) has grown. A single explosive eruption, during 1927-28, has been recorded in historical time.
Sources: Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/current/kzm/index.html, Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/current/kzm/index.html
POPOCATEPETL México 19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5426 m
CENAPRED reported that during 21-27 December steam-and-gas emissions rose from Popocatépetl; the plumes contained small amounts of ash during 22-24 December. On 21 December a bluish gas plume was observed and during 22-23 December ash plumes rose 0.9-1 km above the crater. Crater incandescence was observed at night during 26-27 December.
Geologic Summary. Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, towers to 5,426 m 70 km SE of Mexico City and is North America's second-highest volcano. Frequent historical eruptions have been recorded since the beginning of the Spanish colonial era. A small eruption on 21 December 1994 ended five decades of quiescence. Since 1996 small lava domes have incrementally been constructed within the summit crater and destroyed by explosive eruptions. Intermittent small-to-moderate gas-and-ash eruptions have continued, occasionally producing ashfall in neighboring towns and villages.
Source: Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED) http://www.cenapred.unam.mx/cgi-bin/popo/reportes/consulta.cgi
PUYEHUE-CORDON CAULLE Central Chile 40.590°S, 72.117°W; summit elev. 2236 m
Based on seismicity during 21-26 December, OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN reported that the eruption from the Cordón Caulle rift zone, part of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex, continued at a low level. Small incandescent explosions were observed at night during 21-24 December. Plumes observed with a web camera during 22-23 December rose 1-2.5 km above the crater and 5 km above the crater on 26 December. Satellite images showed ash plumes drifting 20-250 km E, SE, SW, NW, and NNE during 21-26 December. Ash spread 140 km NW and 200 km NNW on 23 December, ash scattered 55 km SE on 25 December, and 100 km N and 200 km ESE on 26 December. The Alert Level remained at Red.
Geologic Summary. The Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex (PCCVC) is a large NW-SE-trending late-Pleistocene to Holocene basaltic-to-rhyolitic transverse volcanic chain SE of Lago Ranco. The 1799-m-high Pleistocene Cordillera Nevada caldera lies at the NW end, separated from Puyehue stratovolcano at the SE end by the Cordón Caulle fissure complex. The Pleistocene Mencheca volcano with Holocene flank cones lies NE of Puyehue. The basaltic-to-rhyolitic Puyehue volcano is the most geochemically diverse of the PCCVC. The flat-topped, 2236-m-high Puyehue volcano was constructed above a 5-km-wide caldera and is capped by a 2.4-km-wide summit caldera of Holocene age. Lava flows and domes of mostly rhyolitic composition are found on the eastern flank of Puyehue. Historical eruptions originally attributed to Puyehue, including major eruptions in 1921-22 and 1960, are now known to be from the Cordón Caulle rift zone. The Cordón Caulle geothermal area, occupying a 6 x 13 km wide volcano-tectonic depression, is the largest active geothermal area of the southern Andes volcanic zone.
Source: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN) http://www.sernageomin.cl/
SAKURA-JIMA Kyushu 31.585°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m
Based on information from JMA, the Tokyo VAAC reported that during 21-27 December explosions from Sakura-jima produced plumes that rose to altitudes of 1.5-2.7 km (5,000-9,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E, SE, S, and NE. Satellite imagery on 23 December showed ash emissions that later dissipated. On 27 December observations from satellite images and a pilot report showed an ash plume that rose to an altitude of 3.7 km (12,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 9 km E.
Geologic Summary. Sakura-jima, one of Japan's most active volcanoes, is a post-caldera cone of the Aira caldera at the northern half of Kagoshima Bay. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow was associated with the formation of the 17 x 23-km-wide Aira caldera about 22,000 years ago. The construction of Sakura-jima began about 13,000 years ago and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kita-dake summit cone ended about 4,850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minami-dake. Frequent historical eruptions, recorded since the 8th century, have deposited ash on Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largest cities, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76.
Source: Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/OTH/JP/messages.html
SHIVELUCH Central Kamchatka (Russia) 56.653°N, 161.360°E; summit elev. 3283 m
KVERT reported that moderate seismic activity from Shiveluch was detected during 16-23 December and a large thermal anomaly over the volcano was observed in satellite imagery. Seismic data suggested that possible ash plumes rose to an altitude of 5 km (17,400 ft) a.s.l. Gas-and-steam plumes containing ash drifted 250 km S during 19-20 December. Explosions produced ash plumes that rose to an altitude of 6 km (19,700 ft) a.s.l. on 19 December. Ground-based observers noted that a viscous lava flow continued to effuse in the crater formed during a 2010 eruption. Moderate fumarolic activity at the lava dome was observed during 18-21 December; cloud cover prevented observations on the other days. The Aviation Color Code level remained at Orange.
Geologic Summary. The high, isolated massif of Shiveluch volcano (also spelled Sheveluch) rises above the lowlands NNE of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group and forms one of Kamchatka's largest and most active volcanoes. The currently active Molodoy Shiveluch lava-dome complex was constructed during the Holocene within a large breached caldera formed by collapse of the massive late-Pleistocene Strary Shiveluch volcano. At least 60 large eruptions of Shiveluch have occurred during the Holocene, making it the most vigorous andesitic volcano of the Kuril-Kamchatka arc. Frequent collapses of lava-dome complexes, most recently in 1964, have produced large debris avalanches whose deposits cover much of the floor of the breached caldera. Intermittent explosive eruptions began in the 1990s from a new lava dome that began growing in 1980. The largest historical eruptions from Shiveluch occurred in 1854 and 1964.
Source: Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) http://www.kscnet.ru/ivs/kvert/current/shv/index.html
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