Active volcanoes in the world: September 24 - 30, 2014

Active volcanoes in the world: September 24 - 30, 2014

New activity/unrest was observed at 5 volcanoes from September 24 - 30, 2014. Ongoing activity was reported for 12 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Bardarbunga, Iceland  | Copahue, Central Chile-Argentina border  | Mayon, Luzon (Philippines)  | Ontakesan, Honshu (Japan)  | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

Ongoing activity: Aira, Kyushu (Japan)  | Ambrym, Vanuatu  | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia)  | Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA)  | Kuchinoerabujima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan)  | Popocatepetl, Mexico  | Sabancaya, Peru  | Santa Maria, Guatemala  | Shishaldin, Fox Islands (USA)  | Sinabung, Indonesia  | Tungurahua, Ecuador  | Zhupanovsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)

New activity/unrest

Bardarbunga, Iceland
64.63°N, 17.53°W, Summit elev. 2009 m

During 23-30 September, IMO maintained Aviation Colour Code Orange due to continued activity at Bárdarbunga’s Holuhraun eruptive fissure. Subsidence of the Bárdarbunga caldera continued and had reached 27-28 m by 24 September. On 29 September the subsidence rate slowed slightly and was about 40 cm per 24 hours. Lava production continued at the same rate; the lava field was 46 square kilometers on 30 September.

Geologic summary: The large central volcano of Bárdarbunga lies beneath the NW part of the Vatnajökull icecap, NW of Grímsvötn volcano, and contains a subglacial 700-m-deep caldera. Related fissure systems include the Veidivötn and Trollagigar fissures, which extend about 100 km SW to near Torfajökull volcano and 50 km NE to near Askja volcano, respectively. Voluminous fissure eruptions, including one at Thjorsarhraun, which produced the largest known Holocene lava flow on Earth with a volume of more than 21 cu km, have occurred throughout the Holocene into historical time from the Veidivötn fissure system. The last major eruption of Veidivötn, in 1477, also produced a large tephra deposit. The subglacial Loki-Fögrufjöll volcanic system located SW of Bárdarbunga volcano is also part of the Bárdarbunga volcanic system and contains two subglacial ridges extending from the largely subglacial Hamarinn central volcano; the Loki ridge trends to the NE and the Fögrufjöll ridge to the SW. Jökulhlaups (glacier-outburst floods) from eruptions at Bárdarbunga potentially affect drainages in all directions.

Copahue, Central Chile-Argentina border
37.856°S, 71.183°W, Summit elev. 2953 m

On 26 September a special volcanic activity report issued by OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN noted a seismic swarm at Copahue; between 1600 and 1900 the seismic network recorded 140 long-period events. Cameras near the volcano recorded increased emissions; mostly white plumes with some ash rose 200-500 m and drifted SE. The report also noted that swarms had been recorded in late July and during 1-16 September. The Alert Level remained at Yellow.

Geologic summary: Volcán Copahue is an elongated composite cone constructed along the Chile-Argentina border within the 6.5 x 8.5 km wide Trapa-Trapa caldera that formed between 0.6 and 0.4 million years ago near the NW margin of the 20 x 15 km Pliocene Caviahue (Del Agrio) caldera. The eastern summit crater, part of a 2-km-long, ENE-WSW line of nine craters, contains a briny, acidic 300-m-wide crater lake (also referred to as El Agrio or Del Agrio) and displays intense fumarolic activity. Acidic hot springs occur below the eastern outlet of the crater lake, contributing to the acidity of the Río Agrio, and another geothermal zone is located within Caviahue caldera about 7 km NE of the summit. Infrequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded at Copahue since the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions from the crater lake have ejected pyroclastic rocks and chilled liquid sulfur fragments.

Mayon, Luzon (Philippines)
13.257°N, 123.685°E, Summit elev. 2462 m

PHIVOLCS reported that during 24-30 September the seismic network at Mayon recorded 0-9 volcanic earthquakes and 1-6 rockfall events per day. White steam plumes drifted SW and NW. According to a news article, the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office noted that more than 54,000 people were in evacuation shelters. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 0-5 scale).

Geologic summary: Beautifully symmetrical Mayon volcano, which rises to 2462 m above the Albay Gulf, is the Philippines' most active volcano. The structurally simple volcano has steep upper slopes averaging 35-40 degrees that are capped by a small summit crater. Historical eruptions at this basaltic-andesitic volcano date back to 1616 and range from strombolian to basaltic plinian, with cyclical activity beginning with basaltic eruptions, followed by longer term andesitic lava flows. Eruptions occur predominately from the central conduit and have also produced lava flows that travel far down the flanks. Pyroclastic flows and mudflows have commonly swept down many of the approximately 40 ravines that radiate from the summit and have often devastated populated lowland areas. Mayon's most violent eruption, in 1814, killed more than 1200 people and devastated several towns.

Ontakesan, Honshu (Japan)
35.893°N, 137.48°E, Summit elev. 3067 m

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, an unexpected phreatic eruption at Ontakesan occurred at 1152 on 27 September after an 11-minute period of tremor and uplift detected just minutes beforehand. The eruption produced a pyroclastic flow that traveled more than 3 km down the S flank and an ash plume that rose 7-10 km and drifted E. Ashfall was extensive in the area and up to 50 cm thick near the craters. The Alert Level was raised to 3.

Earthquakes near the summit had temporarily increased during 10-11 September, and low-frequency signals were detected on 14 September.

News articles on 1 October noted that 47 people had died, most of them found at the summit area while others were at a slightly lower elevation. Almost 70 more people were injured. Survivors described falling ash and boulders, and being in total darkness for several minutes as they made their way down the flanks. The volcano is popular to climb and nearly 300 people were hiking on the mountain that day.

Seismicity fluctuated but remained elevated during 28 September-1 October. Ash-and-gas plumes rose 300-400 m above the craters and drifted E and SE.

Geologic summary: The massive Ontakesan stratovolcano, the second highest volcano in Japan, lies at the southern end of the Northern Japan Alps. Ascending this volcano is one of the major objects of religious pilgrimage in central Japan. It is constructed within a largely buried 4 x 5 km caldera and occupies the southern end of the Norikura volcanic zone, which extends northward to Yakedake volcano. The older volcanic complex consisted of at least four major stratovolcanoes constructed from about 680,000 to about 420,000 years ago, after which Ontakesan was inactive for more than 300,000 years. The broad, elongated summit of the younger edifice is cut by a series of small explosion craters along a NNE-trending line. Several phreatic eruptions post-date the roughly 7300-year-old Akahoya tephra from Kikai caldera. The first historical eruption took place in 1979. A non-eruptive landslide in 1984 produced a debris avalanche and lahar that swept down valleys south and east of the volcano. Very minor phreatic activity caused a dusting of ash near the summit in 1991 and 2007. A significant phreatic explosion in September 2014, when the mountain had many hikers, resulted in more than 30 fatalities.

Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)
56.653°N, 161.36°E, Summit elev. 3283 m

KVERT reported that during 19-26 September lava-dome extrusion onto Shiveluch’s N flank was accompanied by ash explosions, incandescence, hot avalanches, and fumarolic activity. Satellite images detected a thermal anomaly over the dome during 18 and 22-25 September. Strong explosions that began at 1238 on 24 September generated ash plumes that rose 11-11.5 km (36,000-37,700 ft) a.s.l. A large ash cloud, 250 by 207 km, drifted NNE. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Red and then lowered back to Orange that same day as the explosive activity subsided.

Geologic summary: The high, isolated massif of Sheveluch volcano (also spelled Shiveluch) rises above the lowlands NNE of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group. The 1300 cu km volcano is one of Kamchatka's largest and most active volcanic structures. The summit of roughly 65,000-year-old Stary Shiveluch is truncated by a broad 9-km-wide late-Pleistocene caldera breached to the south. Many lava domes dot its outer flanks. The Molodoy Shiveluch lava dome complex was constructed during the Holocene within the large horseshoe-shaped caldera; Holocene lava dome extrusion also took place on the flanks of Stary Shiveluch. At least 60 large eruptions have occurred during the Holocene, making it the most vigorous andesitic volcano of the Kuril-Kamchatka arc. Widespread tephra layers from these eruptions have provided valuable time markers for dating volcanic events in Kamchatka. Frequent collapses of dome complexes, most recently in 1964, have produced debris avalanches whose deposits cover much of the floor of the breached caldera.

Ongoing activity

Aira, Kyushu (Japan)
31.593°N, 130.657°E, Summit elev. 1117 m

JMA reported that 12 explosions from Showa Crater at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano ejected tephra as far as 1,300 m during 26-29 September. Incandescence from Showa Crater was visible at night during 26-27 September. An explosion on 28 September produced a dense ash plume that rose 3 km. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-5). The Tokyo VAAC reported that during 24-30 September plumes rose to altitudes of 1.8-4 km (6,000-13,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W, S, SE, and E. On 27 September a pilot observed an ash plume that rose to an altitude of 4.3 km (14,000 ft) a.s.l.

Geologic summary: The Aira caldera in the northern half of Kagoshima Bay contains the post-caldera Sakurajima volcano, one of Japan's most active. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow accompanied formation of the 17 x 23 km caldera about 22,000 years ago. The smaller Wakamiko caldera was formed during the early Holocene in the NE corner of the Aira caldera, along with several post-caldera cones. The construction of Sakurajima began about 13,000 years ago on the southern rim of Aira caldera and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kitadake summit cone ended about 4850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minamidake. 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.

Ambrym, Vanuatu
16.25°S, 168.12°E, Summit elev. 1334 m

On 1 October the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory reported a slight increase in activity from Ambrym. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 0-4).

Geologic summary: Ambrym, a large basaltic volcano with a 12-km-wide caldera, is one of the most active volcanoes of the New Hebrides arc. A thick, almost exclusively pyroclastic sequence, initially dacitic, then basaltic, overlies lava flows of a pre-caldera shield volcano. The caldera was formed during a major plinian eruption with dacitic pyroclastic flows about 1900 years ago. Post-caldera eruptions, primarily from Marum and Benbow cones, have partially filled the caldera floor and produced lava flows that ponded on the caldera floor or overflowed through gaps in the caldera rim. Post-caldera eruptions have also formed a series of scoria cones and maars along a fissure system oriented ENE-WSW. Eruptions have apparently occurred almost yearly during historical time from cones within the caldera or from flank vents. However, from 1850 to 1950, reporting was mostly limited to extra-caldera eruptions that would have affected local populations.

Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia)
1.68°N, 127.88°E, Summit elev. 1335 m

Based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 24-25 September ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted N. During 28-30 September ash plumes rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 45-95 km NE.

Geologic summary: Reports from this remote volcano in northernmost Halmahera are rare, but Dukono has been one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. More-or-less continuous explosive eruptions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, occurred from 1933 until at least the mid-1990s, when routine observations were curtailed. During a major eruption in 1550, a lava flow filled in the strait between Halmahera and the north-flank cone of Gunung Mamuya. This complex volcano presents a broad, low profile with multiple summit peaks and overlapping craters. Malupang Wariang, 1 km SW of the summit crater complex, contains a 700 x 570 m crater that has also been active during historical time.

Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA)
19.421°N, 155.287°W, Summit elev. 1222 m

During 23-30 September HVO reported that the circulating lava lake occasionally rose and fell in the deep pit within Kilauea's Halema'uma'u Crater. Gas emissions remained elevated. The plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of ash, spatter, and Pele's hair onto nearby areas; smaller particles may have been dropped several kilometers away. Small collapses from the inner wall occasionally occurred and on 24 September produced a small brown plume from the vent. At Pu'u 'O'o Crater, glow emanated from several outgassing openings in the crater floor. Volcanologists on an overflight on 26 September observed sloshing lava in the pits.

The 27 June NE-trending lava flow remained active upslope from the leading edge. By 22 September the flow had extended 16.4 km from the vent (measured in a straight line), placing the active flow front within the NW portion of the Kaohe Homesteads, a vacant forested portion of the subdivision, 2.3 km upslope from Apa`a Street and 3.3 km from Pahoa Village Road. Two slow-moving lobes behind the flow front advanced; the nearest lobe was about 125 m behind the stalled front. During an overflight on 29 September volcanologists observed breakouts where the flow first entered the crack system about 8 km behind the stalled front, and where it exited the system about 3 km upslope from the front. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Warning.

Geologic summary: Kilauea volcano, which overlaps the east flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano, has been Hawaii's most active volcano during historical time. Eruptions of Kilauea are prominent in Polynesian legends; written documentation extending back to only 1820 records frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions that were interspersed with periods of long-term lava lake activity that lasted until 1924 at Halemaumau crater, within the summit caldera. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1500 years ago and during the 18th century; eruptions have also originated from the lengthy East and SW rift zones, which extend to the sea on both sides of the volcano. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1100 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.

Kuchinoerabujima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan)
30.443°N, 130.217°E, Summit elev. 657 m

JMA reported that no eruptions occurred from Kuchinoerabujima during 26-29 September. White plumes rose 300 m above the crater. Low-level seismicity continued and tremor was absent. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-5).

Geologic summary: A group of young stratovolcanoes forms the eastern end of the irregularly shaped island of Kuchinoerabujima in the northern Ryukyus, 15 km west of Yakushima. Furutake, Shintake, and Noike were erupted from south to north, respectively, to form a composite cone that is parallel to the trend of the Ryukyu Islands. The highest peak, Furutake, reaches only 657 m above sea level. The youngest cone, 640-m-high Shintake, was formed after the NW side of Furutake was breached by an explosion. All historical eruptions have occurred from Shintake, although a lava flow from the S flank of Furutake that reached the coast has a very fresh morphology. Frequent explosive eruptions have taken place from Shintake since 1840; the largest of these was in December 1933. Several villages on the 4 x 12 km island are located within a few kilometers of the active crater and have suffered damage from eruptions.

Popocatepetl, Mexico
19.023°N, 98.622°W, Summit elev. 5426 m

CENAPRED reported that during 24-30 September seismicity at Popocatépetl indicated continuing emissions of water vapor, gas, and occasional small amounts of ash. Incandescence from the crater was observed at night. The Alert Level remained at to Yellow, Phase Two.

Geologic summary: Volcán Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, towers to 5426 m 70 km SE of Mexico City to form North America's 2nd-highest volcano. The glacier-clad stratovolcano contains a steep-walled, 400 x 600 m wide crater. The generally symmetrical volcano is modified by the sharp-peaked Ventorrillo on the NW, a remnant of an earlier volcano. At least three previous major cones were destroyed by gravitational failure during the Pleistocene, producing massive debris-avalanche deposits covering broad areas to the south. The modern volcano was constructed south of the late-Pleistocene to Holocene El Fraile cone. Three major plinian eruptions, the most recent of which took place about 800 CE, have occurred from Popocatépetl since the mid Holocene, accompanied by pyroclastic flows and voluminous lahars that swept basins below the volcano. Frequent historical eruptions, first recorded in Aztec codices, have occurred since precolumbian time.

Sabancaya, Peru
15.78°S, 71.85°W, Summit elev. 5967 m

IGP and INGEMMET reported that during 24-30 September seismicity at Sabancaya remained elevated; long-period, volcano-tectonic, and hybrid earthquakes were detected. White gas emissions rose as high as 1 km above the crater and drifted SE. The plumes were grayish from ash on 26 and 29 September.

Geologic summary: Sabancaya, located on the saddle between 6288-m-high Ampato and 6025-m-high Hualca Hualca volcanoes, is the youngest of these volcanic centers and the only one to have erupted in historical time. The oldest of the three volcanoes, Nevado Hualca Hualca, is of probable late-Pliocene to early Pleistocene age. Both Nevado Ampato and Nevado Sabancaya are only slightly affected by glacial erosion and consist of a series of lava domes aligned along a NW-SW trend. The name of 5967-m-high Sabancaya (meaning "tongue of fire" in the Quechua Indian language) first appeared in records in 1595 CE, suggesting activity prior to that date. Holocene activity has consisted of plinian eruptions followed by emission of voluminous andesitic and dacitic lava flows, which form an extensive apron around the volcano on all sides but the south. Records of historical eruptions date back to 1750.

Santa Maria, Guatemala
14.756°N, 91.552°W, Summit elev. 3772 m

INSIVUMEH reported that on 24 September heavy rainfall triggered a hot lahar that descended the Cabello de Ángel River, a tributary of the Nimá I river drainage on the S flank of Santa María's Santiaguito lava-dome complex. The lahar carried tree trunks and branches, had a strong sulfur odor, and was 18 m wide and 2 m deep. During 27-28 and 29-30 September lava flows traveled down the S flank and steam plumes rose 400-500 m and drifted 600-800 m SW.

Geologic summary: Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The 3772-m-high stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that is cut on the SW flank by a large, 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit of Volcán Santa María 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 westward-younging vents, the most recent of which is Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Shishaldin, Fox Islands (USA)
54.756°N, 163.97°W, Summit elev. 2857 m

AVO reported that, although cloud cover sometimes obscured views of Shishaldin during 24-30 September, seismicity indicated that a low-level eruption was possibly continuing. Elevated surface temperatures at the summit were periodically detected in satellite images. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch.

Geologic summary: The beautifully symmetrical volcano of Shishaldin is the highest and one of the most active volcanoes of the Aleutian Islands. The 2857-m-high, glacier-covered volcano is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes along an E-W line in the eastern half of Unimak Island. The Aleuts named the volcano Sisquk, meaning "mountain which points the way when I am lost." A steady steam plume rises from its small summit crater. Constructed atop an older glacially dissected volcano, it is Holocene in age and largely basaltic in composition. Remnants of an older ancestral volcano are exposed on the west and NE sides at 1500-1800 m elevation. There are over two dozen pyroclastic cones on its NW flank, which is blanketed by massive aa lava flows. Frequent explosive activity, primarily consisting of strombolian ash eruptions from the small summit crater, but sometimes producing lava flows, has been recorded since the 18th century.

Sinabung, Indonesia
3.17°N, 98.392°E, Summit elev. 2460 m

According to news articles a pyroclastic flow at Sinabung traveled 2 km SE down the flanks at 1343 on 24 September. The height of a corresponding ash plume could not be determined because it rose into the cloud cover. About 4,700 people remained in evacuation shelters. On 30 September at 1720 an ash plume rose 2 km and a pyroclastic flow traveled 3.5 km.

Geologic summary: Gunung Sinabung is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano with many lava flows on its flanks. The migration of summit vents along a N-S line gives the summit crater complex an elongated form. The youngest crater of this conical, 2460-m-high andesitic-to-dacitic volcano is at the southern end of the four overlapping summit craters. An unconfirmed eruption was noted in 1881, and solfataric activity was seen at the summit and upper flanks of Sinabung in 1912. No confirmed historical eruptions were recorded prior to explosive eruptions during August-September 2010 that produced ash plumes to 5 km above the summit.

Tungurahua, Ecuador
1.467°S, 78.442°W, Summit elev. 5023 m

IG reported that during 24-30 September visual observations of Tungurahua were sometimes limited due to cloud cover. On 24 September an ash plume rose 1.5 km and drifted NW. Ashfall was reported in Manzano (8 km SW), Choglontus (SW), and Quero (20 km NW). The next day ash plumes rose 500 m and drifted NW. On 27 September an ash plume rose 1 km and drifted SW. Nighttime incandescence from the crater was noted.

Geologic summary: Tungurahua, a steep-sided andesitic-dacitic stratovolcano that towers more than 3 km above its northern base, is one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes. Three major edifices have been sequentially constructed since the mid-Pleistocene over a basement of metamorphic rocks. Tungurahua II was built within the past 14,000 years following the collapse of the initial edifice. Tungurahua II itself collapsed about 3000 years ago and produced a large debris-avalanche deposit and a horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the west, inside which the modern glacier-capped stratovolcano (Tungurahua III) was constructed. Historical eruptions have all originated from the summit crater, accompanied by strong explosions and sometimes by pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached populated areas at the volcano's base. Prior to a long-term eruption beginning in 1999 that caused the temporary evacuation of the city of Baños at the foot of the volcano, the last major eruption had occurred from 1916 to 1918, although minor activity continued until 1925.

Zhupanovsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)
53.589°N, 159.15°E, Summit elev. 2899 m

KVERT reported that an explosive eruption at Zhupanovsky continued during 19-26 September. Ground-based observers noted ash plumes drifting SW to Avachinsky Bay during 23-24 September. Satellite images detected a thermal anomaly during 18 and 23-24 September, as well as ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 3.5-4 km (11,500-13,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 80 km SW and NE during 23-24 September. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Geologic summary: The Zhupanovsky volcanic massif consists of four overlapping stratovolcanoes along a WNW-trending ridge. The elongated volcanic complex was constructed within a Pliocene-early Pleistocene caldera whose rim is exposed only on the eastern side. Three of the stratovolcanoes were built during the Pleistocene, the fourth is Holocene in age and was the source of all of Zhupanovsky's historical eruptions. An early Holocene stage of frequent moderate and weak eruptions from 7000 to 5000 years before present (BP) was succeeded by a period of infrequent larger eruptions that produced pyroclastic flows. The last major eruption took place about 800-900 years BP. Historical eruptions have consisted of relatively minor explosions from the third cone.

Source: GVP

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