Active volcanoes in the world: August 8 – August 14, 2012
New unrest has been noticed around 4 volcanoes, ongoing activity was reported for 13 volcanoes. This report covers active volcanoes in the world recorded from August 8 – August 14, 2012 based on Smithsonian/USGS criteria.
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.
MONOWAI SEAMOUNT, Kermadec Islands (SW Pacific)
25.887°S, 177.188°W; summit elev. -132 m
According to Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS) in a media release on 11 August, the Laboratoire de Géophysique (Papeete, Tahiti) reported that seismographs in Rarotonga recorded eruptive activity at Monowai seamount on 3 August. The activity then stopped overnight.
Geologic summary: Monowai seamount, also known as Orion seamount, rises to within 100 m of the sea surface about halfway between the Kermadec and Tonga island groups. The volcano lies at the southern end of the Tonga Ridge and is slightly offset from the Kermadec volcanoes. Small parasitic cones occur on the north and west flanks of the basaltic submarine volcano, which rises from a depth of about 1500 m and was named for one of the New Zealand Navy bathymetric survey ships that documented its morphology. A large 8.5 x 11 km wide submarine caldera with a depth of more than 1500 m lies to the NNE. Numerous eruptions from Monowai have been detected from submarine acoustic signals since it was first recognized as a volcano in 1977. A shoal that had been reported in 1944 may have been a pumice raft or water disturbance due to degassing. Surface observations have included water discoloration, vigorous gas bubbling, and areas of upwelling water, sometimes accompanied by rumbling noises.
SOUFRIERE HILLS, Montserrat
16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m
MVO reported that during 3-10 August activity at the Soufrière Hills lava dome was mostly at a low level. The seismic network detected two small swarms of volcano-tectonic earthquakes on 7 and 8 August. Scientists at MVO observed a period of ash venting that began at 1700 on 8 August, less than two hours after the second swarm. Roaring sounds were heard at the same time. The ash plume drifted W over Plymouth at an altitude of about 1 km (3,280 ft) a.s.l., and a small amount of ashfall was reported by a fisherman offshore. The source of the venting appeared to be the gas vent in the floor of the 11 February 2010 collapse scar, and not the crater created on 23 March 2012.
On 9 August the inside of the collapse scar was partially visible during a helicopter flight. Fumarolic activity in the 23 March crater had increased compared to two weeks ago, and some other fumaroles were also more active. A change in wind direction shifted the volcanic plume N for much of the day and the odor of volcanic gas was noticeable in some inhabited areas. The Hazard Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-5).
Geologic summary: The complex dominantly andesitic Soufrière Hills volcano occupies the southern half of the island of Montserrat. The summit area consists primarily of a series of lava domes emplaced along an ESE-trending zone. English’s Crater, a 1-km-wide crater breached widely to the E, was formed during an eruption about 4,000 years ago in which the summit collapsed, producing a large submarine debris avalanche. Block-and-ash flow and surge deposits associated with dome growth predominate in flank deposits at Soufrière Hills. Non-eruptive seismic swarms occurred at 30-year intervals in the 20th century, but with the exception of a 17th-century eruption that produced the Castle Peak lava dome, no historical eruptions were recorded on Montserrat until 1995. Long-term small-to-moderate ash eruptions beginning in that year were later accompanied by lava-dome growth and pyroclastic flows that forced evacuation of the southern half of the island and ultimately destroyed the capital city of Plymouth, causing major social and economic disruption.
TONGARIRO, North Island (New Zealand)
39.13°S, 175.642°E; summit elev. 1978 m
GeoNet reported that favorable weather allowed GNS Science and Department of Conservation scientists to conduct an observation flight over Tongariro on 8 August. They noted actively steaming vents that were visible at a new crater area formed on 6 August below the Upper Te Mari crater, but low clouds prevented any views above this elevation. Blocks of old and hydrothermally altered lava, as large as 1 m in diameter, ejected by the eruption fell 1.5-2 km from the Te Mari craters area. Falling blocks formed impact craters in the ground in an extensive area to the E and W of the new vents. Most blocks were covered by grey ash but many on the W slopes were not, suggesting that they were ejected after the main ash-producing phase of the eruption.
The scientists also noted that previously steaming ground at Ketetahi and Lower Te Mari crater appeared more vigorous, but there were no obvious major changes. A debris flow generated by the eruption partly filled a stream valley draining N-W from the Upper Te Mari crater area. The deposit had blocked some stream tributaries but most water diverted around the edges. Ash had slumped from the banks into the stream valley, and in other stream valleys ash has been re-mobilized in slurry flows. No lahars were generated by the eruption.
New rock falls were visible around the walls of the new vent area and Lower Te Mari craters and in some stream valley walls near the craters. This suggested that significant ground shaking took place during the eruption. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 0-5) and the Aviation Colour Code was lowered to Yellow (second lowest on a four-color scale).
During 8-9 August seismic activity remained at a low level; only a few small events were recorded. Preliminary analysis of the ash showed that there was little to no new magma erupted. Gas analysis on 9 August revealed emissions around 2,100 tonnes per day of sulfur dioxide, 3,900 tonnes per day of carbon dioxide, and 364 tonnes per day of hydrogen sulfide, confirming the presence of magma below the volcano. During an overflight on 9 August scientists observed minor ash emissions from the vents. Seismicity continued to remain low during 10-14 August. Heavy rains on 12 August caused a lahar to cross State Highway 46, approximately 6 km W of Rangipo.
Geologic summary: Tongariro is a large andesitic volcanic massif, located immediately NE of Ruapehu volcano, that is composed of more than a dozen composite cones constructed over a period of 275,000 years. Vents along a NE-trending zone extending from Saddle Cone (below Ruapehu volcano) to Te Mari crater (including vents at the present-day location of Ngauruhoe) were active during a several hundred year long period around 10,000 years ago, producing the largest known eruptions at the Tongariro complex during the Holocene. The youngest cone of the complex, Ngauruhoe, has grown to become the highest peak of the massif since its birth about 2500 years ago. The symmetrical, steep-sided Ngauruhoe, along with its neighbor Ruapehu to the south, have been New Zealand’s most active volcanoes during historical time.
WHITE ISLAND, New Zealand
37.52°S, 177.18°E; summit elev. 321 m
The GeoNet Data Centre reported that scientists visited White Island on 9 August and observed an ash plume rising as high as 300 m from a new vent in the SW corner of the 1978/1990 Crater Complex. Black ash was depositing on the wall of the Main Crater to the W of the vent. The vent had started to build a tuff cone and there were impact craters around it created by ejecta from explosions. There was no sign of impact craters or blocksoutside of the 1978/1990 Crater area. During 9-14 August volcanic tremor remained at low levels and a weak ash-and-steam plume rose a few hundred meters from the vent. The plume color changed between white and gray as the ash content varied. On 13 August the Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 0-5), and the Aviation Colour Code was lowered to Yellow (second lowest on a four-color scale).
Geologic summary: The uninhabited 2 x 2.4 km White Island, one of New Zealand’s most active volcanoes, is the emergent summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 50 km offshore of North Island. The 321-m-high island consists of two overlapping stratovolcanoes; the summit crater appears to be breached to the SE because the shoreline corresponds to the level of several notches in the SE crater wall. Throughout the short historical period beginning in 1826 the volcano has had long periods of continuous hydrothermal activity and steam release, punctuated by small-to-medium eruptions. Its activity also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. The most recent eruptive episode, which began on 7 March 2000, included the largest eruption at White Island in the past 20 years on 27 July.
BATU TARA, Komba Island (Indonesia)
7.792°S, 123.579°E; summit elev. 748 m
Based on analyses of satellite imagery, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) reported that during 11-14 August ash plumes from Batu Tara rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 25-75 km NW and W.
Geologic summary: The small isolated island of Batu Tara in the Flores Sea about 50 km north of Lembata (formerly Lomblen) Island contains a scarp on the eastern side similar to the Sciara del Fuoco of Italy’s Stromboli volcano. Vegetation covers the flanks of Batu Tara to within 50 m of the 748-m-high summit. Batu Tara lies north of the main volcanic arc and is noted for its potassic leucite-bearing basanitic and tephritic rocks. The first historical eruption from Batu Tara, during 1847-52, produced explosions and a lava flow.
CLEVELAND, Chuginadak Island
52.825°N, 169.944°W; summit elev. 1730 m
AVO reported that during 8-11 August elevated surface temperatures from Cleveland were detected in partly-cloudy satellite images. Cloud cover prevented observations on 12 August. Nothing unusual was observed in images during 13-14 August. The Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch and the Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.
Geologic summary: Symmetrical Mount Cleveland stratovolcano is situated at the western end of the uninhabited dumbbell-shaped Chuginadak Island in the east-central Aleutians. The 1,730-m-high stratovolcano is the highest of the Islands of Four Mountains group and is one of the most active in the Aleutians. Numerous large lava flows descend its flanks. It is possible that some 18th to 19th century eruptions attributed to Carlisle (a volcano located across the Carlisle Pass Strait to the NW) should be ascribed to Cleveland. In 1944 Cleveland produced the only known fatality from an Aleutian eruption. Recent eruptions from Mt. Cleveland have been characterized by short-lived explosive ash emissions, at times accompanied by lava fountaining and lava flows down the flanks.
14.473°N, 90.880°W; summit elev. 3763 m
INSIVUMEH reported that during 9-10 and 13-14 August explosions from Fuego produced ash plumes that rose 300-400 m above the crater and drifted NW and W. Degassing sounds were reported, and diffuse white plumes rose 100-150 m and drifted NE and NW. Lava flows traveled 200-250 m down the Taniluyá drainage (SW), generating block avalanches that reached vegetated areas. On 10 August lahars 25 m wide traveled SE down the Las Lajas and El Júte drainages carrying blocks 1-2 m in diameter. Explosions during 13-14 August ejected incandescent tephra 100 m above the crater.
Geologic summary: Volcán Fuego, one of Central America’s most active volcanoes, is one of three largestratovolcanoes 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 historicaleruptions 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.
1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m
INGEOMINAS reported that during 8-14 August seismicity at Galeras continued to be elevated. Some of the earthquakes were located near the active cone, with magnitudes less than 1 and depths not exceeding 2 km. During 7-9 and 11 August gas-and-ash plumes rose 0.9-1.3 km above the crater and drifted W and S. Sulfur dioxide emissions fluctuated between moderate and high levels. The Alert Level remained 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.
KARYMSKY, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)
54.05°N, 159.45°E; summit elev. 1536 m
KVERT reported moderate seismic activity from Karymsky during 3-10 August. Satellite imagery showed a weak thermal anomaly on the volcano. A possible gas-and-ash explosion on 8 August may have produced a plume that rose to an altitude of 3.3 km (10,800 ft) a.s.l. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.
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.
KILAUEA, Hawaii (USA)
19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m
During 8-14 August HVO reported that the circulating lava lake periodically rose and fell in the deep pit within Kilauea’s Halema’uma’u Crater. Measurements indicated that the gas plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of spatter and Pele’s hair onto nearby areas. There were no significant geologic changes in Pu’u ‘O’o Crater; a few days before 11 August a new glowing vent SE of the crater appeared, probably from a newly-opened skylight in the lava-tube system feeding flows on the pali and coastal plain. Lava flows were active on the pali and the coastal plain. The active lava-flow front was about 2 km from the ocean on 14 August.
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.
NEVADO DEL RUIZ, Colombia
4.895°N, 75.322°W; summit elev. 5321 m
According to INGEOMINAS, the Observatorio Vulcanológico and Sismológico de Manizales reported that during 10-13 August low levels of tremor were detected at Nevado del Ruiz, possibly associated with continuing gas and ash emissions. On 12 August a total of 140 low-magnitude earthquakes (M < 1.8) were detected in a seismic swarm that began at 0956 and ended at 1800. The earthquakes were located about 4 km WSW of Arenas Crater at depths of less than 5 km. A gas-and-ash plume observed with a web camera rose 1 km above the crater and drifted W. Ashfall was reported in Brisas (50 km SW). Satellite images showed continuing sulfur dioxide emissions. On 13 August a seismic swarm was characterized by events less than M 1, and located NE of Arenas Crater at depths between 3 and 5 km. A thin layer of ash was deposited at the observatory in Manizales. Weather conditions prevented observations of the volcano. The Alert Level remained at II (Orange; “eruption likely within days or weeks”).
Geologic summary: Nevado del Ruiz is a broad, glacier-covered volcano in central Colombia that covers >200 sq km. Three major edifices, composed of andesitic and dacitic lavas and andesitic pyroclastics, have been constructed since the beginning of the Pleistocene. The modern cone consists of a broad cluster of lava domes built within the summit caldera of an older Ruiz volcano. The 1-km-wide, 240-m-deep Arenas crater occupies the summit. Steep headwalls of massive landslides cut the flanks of Nevado del Ruiz. Melting of its summit icecap during historical eruptions, which date back to the 16th century, has resulted in devastating lahars, including one in 1985 that was South America’s deadliest eruption.
19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5426 m
CENAPRED reported that during 8-14 August seismicity at Popocatépetl indicated continuing gas-and-steam emissions that may have contained ash on 8 August; cloud cover prevented observations during most of this period. Incandescence from the crater was periodically observed. Gas-and-steam plumes were observed rising from the crater during 8-9 and 14 August. A small ash emission was observed on 14 August. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Three.
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.
0.077°S, 77.656°W; summit elev. 3562 m
Based on analysis of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported a possible ash emission from Reventador on 11 August. The next day a well-defined thermal anomaly was detected and an ash plume drifted W. According to the VAAC, IG confirmed the ash plume, noting that it rose to an altitude of 5.2 km (17,000 ft) a.s.l.
Geologic summary: Reventador is the most frequently active of a chain of Ecuadorian volcanoes in the Cordillera Real, well E of the principal volcanic axis. It is a forested stratovolcano that rises above the remote jungles of the western Amazon basin. A 3-km-wide caldera breached to the E was formed by edifice collapse and is partially filled by a young, unvegetated stratovolcano that rises about 1,300 m above the caldera floor. Reventador has been the source of numerous lava flows as well as explosive eruptions that were visible from Quito in historical time. Frequent lahars in this region of heavy rainfall have constructed a debris plain on the eastern floor of the caldera.
31.585°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m
JMA reported that during 6-10 August nine explosions from Sakura-jima’s Showa Crater ejected tephra as far as 1,300 m from the crater. Based on information from JMA, the Tokyo VAAC reported that explosions during 8-14 August often produced plumes that rose to altitudes of 1.8-3.7 km (6,000-12,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted N and NE. A pilot observed an ash plume on 8 August.
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.
SHIVELUCH, Central Kamchatka (Russia)
56.653°N, 161.360°E; summit elev. 3283 m
KVERT reported that during 3-10 August weak seismic activity was detected at Shiveluch. Cloud cover prevented ground-based observations; however, a thermal anomaly on the volcano was detected daily in satellite imagery. The Aviation Color Code 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.
1.108°N, 124.73°E; summit elev. 1784 m
According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, a satellite image acquired on 8 August showed a small volcanic plume rising from Soputan.
Geologic summary: The small conical volcano of Soputan on the southern rim of the Quaternary Tondano caldera is one of Sulawesi’s most active volcanoes. During historical time the locus of eruptions has included both the summit crater and Aeseput, a prominent NE-flank vent that formed in 1906 and was the source of intermittent major lava flows until 1924.
1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m
IG reported that during 8-13 August visual observations of Tungurahua were limited due to cloud cover. A vapor emission drifted W on 8 August. A small explosion on 10 August vibrated windows, and ash fell in Choglontús (SW). Three to four explosions on 11 and 12 August produced “gun shot” noises. At night incandescence from the crater was observed and sounds resembling blocks rolling down the flanks were reported. On 11 August an ash-and-steam plume rose from the crater, and the next day an ash plume rose 1 km and drifted W. During 12-13 August incandescent blocks were ejected 100 m above the crater and rolled 500 m down the flanks. Roaring was heard and ash fell in Cusúa (8 km NW) and Juive (7 km NNW). On 14 August seismicity increased and was accompanied by increased emissions. Ashfall was reported in Pillate (7 km W), Cusúa, and Choglontús.
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: Global Volcanism Program
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