A new phase of increased volcanic activity began today at Guatemalan Pacaya volcano. Authorities have issued an amber alert, the third highest - people must remain alert and be prepared to leave the area at short notice.
The volcano shot plumes of ash and vapor 3.7 km (2.3 miles) high. Ash plume was observed moving southwest and west, away from the capital Guatemala City which is located only 50 km (30 miles) from the volcano.
Strombolian explosions became more intense, ejecting incandescent bombs to approximately 200 m above the crater, and since this morning, a new lava flow started to descend from the summit on the western flank. The activity surge is reflected by a strong, gradual increase of tremor, Volcano Discovery reports.
"We are assessing with the National Disaster Management Centre (Conred) whether we will need to evacuate the 3,000 people who live in the villages of El Rodeo and Patrocinio," said the Pacaya National Park director, Humberto Morales. (BBC)
Access to the areas around the volcano has been suspended.
Video courtesy of Estuardo Dardon
"Eruptions from Pacaya, one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes, are frequently visible from Guatemala City, the nation's capital. Pacaya is a complex basaltic volcano constructed just outside the southern topographic rim of the 14 x 16 km Pleistocene Amatitlán caldera. A cluster of dacitic lava domes occupies the southern caldera floor. The post-caldera Pacaya massif includes the ancestral Pacaya Viejo and Cerro Grande stratovolcanoes and the currently active Mackenney stratovolcano.
Collapse of Pacaya Viejo volcano between 600 and 1500 years ago produced a debris-avalanche deposit that extends 25 km onto the Pacific coastal plain and left an arcuate somma rim inside which the modern Pacaya volcano (Mackenney cone) grew. A subsidiary crater, Cerro Chino, was constructed on the NW somma rim and was last active in the 19th century. During the past several decades, activity at Pacaya has consisted of frequent strombolian eruptions with intermittent lava flow extrusion that has partially filled in the caldera moat and armored the flanks of Mackenney cone, punctuated by occasional larger explosive eruptions that partially destroy the summit of the growing young stratovolcano." (GVP)
Featured image credit: Saul Martinez via Twitter