Active volcanoes in the world: December 2 - 8, 2015

Active volcanoes in the world: December 2 - 8, 2015

New activity/unrest was observed at 4 volcanoes from December 2- 8, 2015. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 12 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Etna, Sicily (Italy)  | Momotombo, Nicaragua  | Tengger Caldera, Eastern Java (Indonesia)  | Zhupanovsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia).

Ongoing activity: Chirinkotan, Kuril Islands (Russia)  | Chirpoi, Kuril Islands (Russia)  | Colima, Mexico  | Cotopaxi, Ecuador  | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia)  | Karangetang, Siau Island (Indonesia)  | Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)  | Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA)  | Lokon-Empung, Sulawesi (Indonesia)  | Rinjani, Lombok Island (Indonesia)  | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)  | Sinabung, Indonesia.

New activity/unrest

Etna, Sicily (Italy)
37.734°N, 15.004°E, Summit elev. 3330 m

INGV reported that after a progressive intensification of activity during the evening of 2 December, an eruption at Etna's Voragine Crater peaked between 0330 and 0410 on 3 December. During the peak period sustained lava fountains rose over 1 km above the crater with some jets of hot material rising 3 km high. An ash plume rose several kilometers high and drifted NE, causing ashfall in Linguaglossa, Francavilla di Sicilia, Milazzo, Messina, and Reggio Calabria. Activity had almost ceased by dawn. This event was among the largest in the last 20 years, similar to large events occurring at the same crater on 22 July 1998 and 4 September 1999.

At about 1000 on 4 December renewed activity at Voragine Crater was characterized by tall lava fountains and an ash plume that rose 7-8 km high. The ash plume had a mushrooming top and produced deposits of coarse-grained pyroclastic material on the upper SW flank above 2 km elevation. Ashfall was reported in Giarre-Zafferana Etnea on the E flank. The activity was accompanied by frequent ash emissions from a new pit crater that had recently opened on the upper E flank of the New Southeast Crater (NSEC) cone. Two more events occurred at Voragine Crater during 4-5 December, between 2130 and 2215 on 4 December and 1555 and 1635 on 5 December, again producing tall lava fountains and many-kilometer-high ash plumes.

During the evening of 5 December activity at Voragine Crater progressively diminished. Between 0300 and 0400 on 6 December surveillance cameras recorded the onset of vigorous Strombolian activity from the vent on the E flank of the NSEC cone. Repeated collapses of both old and new material from the cone's flank generated hot avalanches that traveled a few hundred meters E towards the Valle del Bove. Ongoing effusive activity through the day produced two lava flows; one advanced NE for less than 1 km and the other advanced E. Strombolian activity continued through the evening. On 7 December a second vent on the E part of NSEC was also active, and the main lava flow had advanced 4 km. During the early morning hours of 8 December Strombolian activity progressively diminished and then ended. Later that afternoon weak Strombolian activity and ash emission were observed at the Northeast Crater.

Geologic summary: Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily's second largest city, has one of the world's longest documented records of historical volcanism, dating back to 1500 BCE. Historical lava flows of basaltic composition cover much of the surface of this massive volcano, whose edifice is the highest and most voluminous in Italy. The Mongibello stratovolcano, truncated by several small calderas, was constructed during the late Pleistocene and Holocene over an older shield volcano. The most prominent morphological feature of Etna is the Valle del Bove, a 5 x 10 km horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the east. Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur at Etna. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more of the three prominent summit craters, the Central Crater, NE Crater, and SE Crater (the latter formed in 1978). Flank vents, typically with higher effusion rates, are less frequently active and originate from fissures that open progressively downward from near the summit (usually accompanied by strombolian eruptions at the upper end). Cinder cones are commonly constructed over the vents of lower-flank lava flows. Lava flows extend to the foot of the volcano on all sides and have reached the sea over a broad area on the SE flank.

Momotombo, Nicaragua
12.422°N, 86.54°W, Summit elev. 1297 m

Based on satellite and webcam observations, and seismic data, the Washington VAAC reported that during 2-3 December ash plumes from Momotombo rose to an altitude of 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 90-225 km NW and WNW.

Geologic summary: Momotombo is a young, 1297-m-high stratovolcano that rises prominently above the NW shore of Lake Managua, forming one of Nicaragua's most familiar landmarks. Momotombo began growing about 4500 years ago at the SE end of the Marrabios Range and consists of a somma from an older edifice that is surmounted by a symmetrical younger cone with a 150 x 250 m wide summit crater. Young lava flows from Momotombo have flowed down the NW flank into the 4-km-wide Monte Galán caldera. The youthful cone of Momotombito forms a 391-m-high island offshore in Lake Managua. Momotombo has a long record of strombolian eruptions, punctuated by occasional larger explosive activity. The latest eruption, in 1905, produced a lava flow that traveled from the summit to the lower NE base. A small black plume was seen above the crater after an April 10, 1996 earthquake, but later observations noted no significant changes in the crater. A major geothermal field is located on the southern flank of the volcano.

Tengger Caldera, Eastern Java (Indonesia)
7.942°S, 112.95°E, Summit elev. 2329 m

PVMBG reported that during 15 November-4 December white plumes from Tengger Caldera's Bromo cone rose as high as 150 m above the crater, and an intense sulfur dioxide odor was noted at the Bromo observation post. On 15, 23, and 27 November dense ash plumes rose 150 m above the crater rim. RSAM values increased at the beginning of November, and then sharply increased in the beginning of December. Based on seismic analysis, visual observations, and hazard potential, the Alert Level was raised to 3 (on a scale of 1-4) on 4 December. Residents and visitors were warned not to approach the crater within a radius of 2.5 km.

Geologic summary: The 16-km-wide Tengger caldera is located at the northern end of a volcanic massif extending from Semeru volcano. The massive volcanic complex dates back to about 820,000 years ago and consists of five overlapping stratovolcanoes, each truncated by a caldera. Lava domes, pyroclastic cones, and a maar occupy the flanks of the massif. The Ngadisari caldera at the NE end of the complex formed about 150,000 years ago and is now drained through the Sapikerep valley. The most recent of the calderas is the 9 x 10 km wide Sandsea caldera at the SW end of the complex, which formed incrementally during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene. An overlapping cluster of post-caldera cones was constructed on the floor of the Sandsea caldera within the past several thousand years. The youngest of these is Bromo, one of Java's most active and most frequently visited volcanoes.

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

KVERT reported moderate eruptive activity at Zhupanovsky during 27 November-4 December. Explosions on 27 and 30 November generated ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 6-7 km (19,700-23,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 300 km E and SE. Pyroclastic flow deposits 15.5 km long were observed on the S flank after the 30 November event. Weak thermal anomalies were detected in satellite images over the crater on both of those days, and in the area of the pyroclastic flow deposits on 30 November and 3 December.

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.

Ongoing activity

Chirinkotan, Kuril Islands (Russia)
48.98°N, 153.48°E, Summit elev. 724 m

On 7 December SVERT reported that the Aviation Color Code for Chirinkotan had been lowered to Green.

Geologic summary: The small, mostly unvegetated 3-km-wide island of Chirinkotan occupies the far end of an E-W-trending volcanic chain that extends nearly 50 km west of the central part of the main Kuril Islands arc. Chirinkotan is the emergent summit of a volcano that rises 3000 m from the floor of the Kuril Basin. A small 1-km-wide caldera about 300-400 m deep is open to the SE. Lava flows from a cone within the breached crater reached the north shore of the island. Historical eruptions have been recorded at Chirinkotan since the 18th century. Fresh lava flows also descended the SE flank of Chirinkotan during an eruption in the 1880s that was observed by the English fur trader Captain Snow.

Chirpoi, Kuril Islands (Russia)
46.525°N, 150.875°E, Summit elev. 742 m

SVERT reported that satellite images over Snow, a volcano of Chirpoi, revealed a thermal anomaly during 1-3 and 6 December. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow.

Geologic summary: Chirpoi, a small island lying between the larger islands of Simushir and Urup, contains a half dozen volcanic edifices constructed within an 8-9 km wide, partially submerged caldera. The southern rim of the caldera is exposed on nearby Brat Chirpoev Island. The symmetrical Cherny volcano, which forms the 691 m high point of the island, erupted twice during the 18th and 19th centuries. The youngest volcano, Snow, originated between 1770 and 1810. It is composed almost entirely of lava flows, many of which have reached the sea on the southern coast. No historical eruptions are known from 742-m-high Brat Chirpoev, but its youthful morphology suggests recent strombolian activity.

Colima, Mexico
19.514°N, 103.62°W, Summit elev. 3850 m

Based on satellite images, wind data, webcam images, and notices from the Mexico City MWO, the Washington VAAC reported that during 2-7 December ash plumes from Colima rose to altitudes of 4.6-7.6 km (15,000-25,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted multiple directions.

Geologic summary: The Colima volcanic complex is the most prominent volcanic center of the western Mexican Volcanic Belt. It consists of two southward-younging volcanoes, Nevado de Colima (the 4320 m high point of the complex) on the north and the 3850-m-high historically active Volcán de Colima at the south. A group of cinder cones of late-Pleistocene age is located on the floor of the Colima graben west and east of the Colima complex. Volcán de Colima (also known as Volcán Fuego) is a youthful stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera, breached to the south, that has been the source of large debris avalanches. Major slope failures have occurred repeatedly from both the Nevado and Colima cones, and have produced a thick apron of debris-avalanche deposits on three sides of the complex. Frequent historical eruptions date back to the 16th century. Occasional major explosive eruptions (most recently in 1913) have destroyed the summit and left a deep, steep-sided crater that was slowly refilled and then overtopped by lava dome growth.

Cotopaxi, Ecuador
0.677°S, 78.436°W, Summit elev. 5911 m

IG reported that during 2-8 December seismic activity at Cotopaxi was characterized by volcano-tectonic, hybrid, and long-period events. Signals indicating emissions and explosions were also detected. Although cloud cover often prevented observations, gas-and-steam emissions were visible daily. A plume containing ash rose as high as 1 km and drifted NW on 7 December.

Geologic summary: Symmetrical, glacier-clad Cotopaxi stratovolcano is Ecuador's most well-known volcano and one of its most active. The steep-sided cone is capped by nested summit craters, the largest of which is about 550 x 800 m in diameter. Deep valleys scoured by lahars radiate from the summit of the andesitic volcano, and large andesitic lava flows extend as far as the base of Cotopaxi. The modern conical volcano has been constructed since a major edifice collapse sometime prior to about 5000 years ago. Pyroclastic flows (often confused in historical accounts with lava flows) have accompanied many explosive eruptions of Cotopaxi, and lahars have frequently devastated adjacent valleys. The most violent historical eruptions took place in 1744, 1768, and 1877. Pyroclastic flows descended all sides of the volcano in 1877, and lahars traveled more than 100 km into the Pacific Ocean and western Amazon basin. The last significant eruption of Cotopaxi took place in 1904.

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 2-5 December ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 25-165 km in multiple directions.

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.

Karangetang, Siau Island (Indonesia)
2.78°N, 125.4°E, Summit elev. 1784 m

Based on observations conducted at the Karangetang Volcano Observation Post in the village of Salili, PVMBG reported during 25 November-3 December that the lava dome was incandescent at night. Variable amounts of white emissions rose as high as 300 m above Main Crater. RSAM values had been stable since 6 November. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4); visitors and residents were warned not to approach Karangetang within a 4-km radius.

Geologic summary: Karangetang (Api Siau) volcano lies at the northern end of the island of Siau, north of Sulawesi. The 1784-m-high stratovolcano contains five summit craters along a N-S line. Karangetang is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, with more than 40 eruptions recorded since 1675 and many additional small eruptions that were not documented in the historical record (Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World: Neumann van Padang, 1951). Twentieth-century eruptions have included frequent explosive activity sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows and lahars. Lava dome growth has occurred in the summit craters; collapse of lava flow fronts has also produced pyroclastic flows.

Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)
54.049°N, 159.443°E, Summit elev. 1513 m

KVERT reported that moderate explosive activity at Karymsky continued during 27 November-4 December. Satellite images detected a thermal anomaly on 27 November and 3 December. 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 during the early Holocene. The caldera cuts the south side of the Pleistocene Dvor volcano and is located outside the north margin of the large mid-Pleistocene Polovinka caldera, which contains the smaller Akademia Nauk and Odnoboky calderas. Most seismicity preceding Karymsky eruptions originated beneath Akademia Nauk caldera, located immediately south. The caldera enclosing Karymsky formed about 7600-7700 radiocarbon years ago; construction of the stratovolcano began about 2000 years later. The latest eruptive period began about 500 years ago, following a 2300-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.

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

HVO reported that seismicity beneath Kilauea's summit, upper East Rift Zone, and Southwest Rift Zone was at background levels during 2-8 December. The lava lake continued to circulate and spatter in the Overlook vent. Webcams recorded multiple incandescent outgassing vents within Pu'u 'O'o. The June 27th NE-trending lava flow continued to be active within 6 km NE of Pu'u 'O'o Crater.

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.

Lokon-Empung, Sulawesi (Indonesia)
1.358°N, 124.792°E, Summit elev. 1580 m

Although inclement weather sometimes obscured views of Lokon-Empung's Tompaluan Crater, PVMBG reported that during 26 November-3 December observers at the post in Kakaskasen Tomohon (North Sulawesi, 4 km from the crater), saw white plumes rising as high as 350 m above the crater. Seismicity fluctuated, but the seismic spectral amplitude measurement (SSAM) showed a gradually increasing trend. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4). Residents and tourists were reminded not to approach the crater within a radius of 2.5 km.

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 km apart), has a flat, craterless top. The morphologically younger Empung volcano to the NE 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. A ridge extending WNW from Lokon includes Tatawiran and Tetempangan peak, 3 km away.

Rinjani, Lombok Island (Indonesia)
8.42°S, 116.47°E, Summit elev. 3726 m

Based on satellite and ground observations, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 2 and 5 December ash plumes from Rinjani rose to altitudes of 3.7-4.9 km (12,000-16,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 25-110 km SW and W.

Geologic summary: Rinjani volcano on the island of Lombok rises to 3726 m, second in height among Indonesian volcanoes only to Sumatra's Kerinci volcano. Rinjani has a steep-sided conical profile when viewed from the east, but the west side of the compound volcano is truncated by the 6 x 8.5 km, oval-shaped Segara Anak (Samalas) caldera. The caldera formed during one of the largest Holocene eruptions globally in 1257 CE, which truncated Samalas stratovolcano. The western half of the caldera contains a 230-m-deep lake whose crescentic form results from growth of the post-caldera cone Barujari at the east end of the caldera. Historical eruptions dating back to 1847 have been restricted to Barujari cone and consist of moderate explosive activity and occasional lava flows that have entered Segara Anak lake.

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

KVERT reported that during 27 November-4 December lava-dome extrusion onto Sheveluch’s N flank was accompanied by fumarolic activity, dome incandescence, ash explosions, and hot avalanches. Satellite images detected a daily and intense thermal anomaly over the dome. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

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.

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

Based on information from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 3 December an ash plume from Sinabung rose to an altitude of 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted over 35 km SE. On 7 December an ash plume rose to an altitude of 3.7 km (12,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW.

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 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.

Source: GVP

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