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Nicaraguan Telica volcano erupts, blankets surrounding communities with ash

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Nicaraguan Telica volcano started erupting at 14:00 UTC on Wednesday, September 23, 2015. INETER reports copious ash and volcanic gas emissions initially rose about 400 meters (1 300 feet) from the summit. 

Civil Defense reports abundant ashfall in Chinandega. 

According to Washington VAAC advisory issued 15:54 UTC today, brief emission of gases and ash drifted WNW and reached an altitude of 1.2 km (4 000 feet) a.s.l. Volcanic ash was not identifiable on satellite imagery. At 21:52 UTC, the agency said there were no new emissions reported by volcano observatory. Seismic network shows weak activity. Summit camera has shown no ash, but gas emissions are possible.

A member of the local municipal disaster prevention committee, Evertz Delgadillo, said that the first explosion lasted 20 minutes and was followed by three other shorter ones.

Previous activity

According to GVP's records, INETER reported that six small gas explosions occurred at Telica on June 5, 2015, for a total of 806 explosions since an unspecified time of increased activity. Their report on June 8 stated that no seismic events had been detected during the previous 72 hours.

Based on webcam views and satellite images, the Washington VAAC reported that on May 26 an ash plume from Telica drifted W at an altitude of 4.3 km (14 000 feet) a.s.l. Later that day a gas-and-ash plume rose to an altitude below 3 km (10 000 feet) a.s.l. and drifted 75 km W. INETER reported continuing small gas explosions during May 28 – June 1; a total of 798 explosions since an unspecified time of increased activity. Ashfall was reported in Posoltega (16 km SW), Corinto (40 km WSW), Chinandega (30 km W), Chichigalpa (20 km WSW), and El Realejo (35 km WSW).

On May 8, INETER reported that activity at Telica had been increasing. Earthquakes SE of the volcano and seven small-intensity explosions had been detected during an unspecified period, although a M 2.4 earthquake had occurred at 11:02 local time on May 7. During May 11 – 18 there were 18 explosions, for a total of 64 since the increased activity began. An explosion at 09:50 on May 12 was accompanied by small quantities of ash emissions. At 12:23 an explosion generated a gas-and-ash plume and ejected hot rocks (pre-existing material) 400 m high and to the W. Minor ashfall was reported in El Realejo, Corinth, Posoltega, and Chichigalpa. Seismicity was at normal levels. By 12:00 on May 18 a total of 421 small explosions had been detected (164 in the previous 24 hours); gas emissions were low. During May 18 – 20 reports noted that 31 small gas explosions had been detected; ash had not been detected since May 17 and activity was decreasing. During May 21 – 22, 16 small gas explosions occurred, for a total of 540 explosions. Gas explosions continued during May 22 – 24. A few of the explosions ejected hot rock fragments and generated ash plumes. Ashfall was reported in Posoltega, Guanacastal, Quezalguaque, Chinandega, El Viejo, Chichigalpa, and El Realejo.

Telica was 'quiet' from September 2012 to May 2015.

Geological summary

Telica, one of Nicaragua's most active volcanoes, has erupted frequently since the beginning of the Spanish era. This volcano group consists of several interlocking cones and vents with a general NW alignment. Sixteenth-century eruptions were reported at symmetrical Santa Clara volcano at the SW end of the group. However, its eroded and breached crater has been covered by forests throughout historical time, and these eruptions may have originated from Telica, whose upper slopes in contrast are unvegetated. The steep-sided cone of 1061-m-high Telica is truncated by a 700-m-wide double crater; the southern crater, the source of recent eruptions, is 120 m deep. El Liston, immediately SE of Telica, has several nested craters.

The fumaroles and boiling mudpots of Hervideros de San Jacinto, SE of Telica, form a prominent geothermal area frequented by tourists, and geothermal exploration has occurred nearby. (GVP)

Featured image: Telica volcano eruption on September 23, 2015. Credit: @cairocruzarella

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