Active volcanoes in the world: December 16 - 22, 2015

Active volcanoes in the world: December 16 - 22, 2015

New activity/unrest was observed at 7 volcanoes from December 16 - 22, 2015. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 12 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Egon, Flores Island (Indonesia) | Fuego, Guatemala | Kanlaon, Philippines | Masaya, Nicaragua | Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island (France) | Tengger Caldera, Eastern Java (Indonesia) | Zhupanovsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia).

Ongoing activity:  Awu | Sangihe Islands (Indonesia) | Colima, Mexico | Copahue, Central Chile-Argentina border | Cotopaxi, Ecuador | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Karangetang, Siau Island (Indonesia) | Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)  | Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA) | Lokon-Empung, Sulawesi (Indonesia) | Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Sinabung, Indonesia.

New activity/unrest

Egon, Flores Island (Indonesia)
8.67°S, 122.45°E, Elevation 1703 m

PVMBG reported that during October-November seismicity at Egon was at baseline levels, characterized by an average of one event per day of both deep and shallow volcanic earthquakes. On 15 December the network recorded 29 shallow volcanic earthquakes, a number significantly above baseline. PVMBG raised the Alert Level to 2 (on a scale of 1-4) that same day and advised residents and tourists to stay at least 1.5 km away from the crater.

Geologic summary: Gunung Egon volcano sits astride the narrow waist of eastern Flores Island. The barren, sparsely vegetated summit region has a 350-m-wide, 200-m-deep crater that sometimes contains a lake. Other small crater lakes occur on the flanks of the 1703-m-high volcano, which is also known as Namang. A lava dome forms the southern 1671-m-high summit. Solfataric activity occurs on the crater wall and rim and on the upper southern flank. Reports of historical eruptive activity prior to explosive eruptions beginning in 2004 were inconclusive. A column of "smoke" was often observed above the summit during 1888-1891 and in 1892. Strong "smoke" emission in 1907 reported by Sapper (1917) was considered by the Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World (Neumann van Padang, 1951) to be an historical eruption, but Kemmerling (1929) noted that this was likely confused with an eruption on the same date and time from Lewotobi Lakilaki volcano.

Fuego, Guatemala
14.473°N, 90.88°W, Elevation 3763 m

On 16 December INSIVUMEH reported that activity at Fuego decreased, although lava flows remained active in the Las Lajas (SE), Trinidad (S), and Santa Teresa (SW) drainages. Ash plumes from weak explosions drifted 15 km SW, S, and SE. During 16-17 December there were 4-5 explosions per hour, generatingash plumes that rose 650-750 m above the crater and drifted 8-12 km W and SW. Explosions during 20-22 December produced ash plumes that rose 550-950 m and drifted 8-10 km W. Incandescent material was ejected 150 m high, landed on the flanks, and then formed small avalanches in the Santa Teresa (SW), Taniluyá (SW), Trinidad, and Ceniza drainages.

Geologic summary: Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3763-m-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the north, Acatenango. Construction of Meseta dates back to about 230,000 years and continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Collapse of Meseta may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km onto the Pacific coastal plain. Growth of the modern Fuego volcano followed, continuing the southward migration of volcanism that began at Acatenango. In contrast to the mostly andesitic Acatenango, eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.

Kanlaon, Philippines
10.412°N, 123.132°E, Elevation 2435 m

PHIVOLCS reported that at 2138 on 15 December a low-frequency earthquake at Kanlaon that lasted 45-47 seconds possibly corresponded to an ash emission, though inclement weather prevented visual observations of the crater. Rumbling was heard in neighborhoods on the SE flank. On 17 December white steam plumes rose 50 m above the crater. Poor weather conditions prevented views of the crater through 22 December.

Geologic summary: Kanlaon volcano (also spelled Canlaon), the most active of the central Philippines, forms the highest point on the island of Negros. The massive 2435-m-high andesitic stratovolcano is dotted with fissure-controlled pyroclastic cones and craters, many of which are filled by lakes. The largest debris avalanche known in the Philippines traveled 33 km to the SW from Kanlaon. The summit of Kanlaon contains a 2-km-wide, elongated northern caldera with a crater lake and a smaller, but higher, historically active vent, Lugud crater, to the south. Historical eruptions from Kanlaon, recorded since 1866, have typically consisted of phreatic explosions of small-to-moderate size that produce minor ashfalls near the volcano.

Masaya, Nicaragua
11.984°N, 86.161°W, Elevation 635 m

INETER reported that rumbling and shock waves from small gas explosions at Masaya's Santiago Crater were reported during 15-17 December. Scientists conducting field work on 18 December observed that the crater hosting a lava lake had widened. Sounds from the volcano were louder and sulfur dioxide emissions had increased. During 19-20 December spatter from the lava lake was ejected from the vent and landed a few meters away on the crater floor. RSAMlevels were stable at low-to-moderate levels.

Geologic summary: Masaya is one of Nicaragua's most unusual and most active volcanoes. It lies within the massive Pleistocene Las Sierras pyroclastic shield volcano and is a broad, 6 x 11 km basaltic caldera with steep-sided walls up to 300 m high. The caldera is filled on its NW end by more than a dozen vents that erupted along a circular, 4-km-diameter fracture system. The twin volcanoes of Nindirí and Masaya, the source of historical eruptions, were constructed at the southern end of the fracture system and contain multiple summit craters, including the currently active Santiago crater. A major basaltic plinian tephra erupted from Masaya about 6500 years ago. Historical lava flows cover much of the caldera floor and have confined a lake to the far eastern end of the caldera. A lava flow from the 1670 eruption overtopped the north caldera rim. Masaya has been frequently active since the time of the Spanish Conquistadors, when an active lava lake prompted attempts to extract the volcano's molten "gold." Periods of long-term vigorous gas emission at roughly quarter-century intervals cause health hazards and crop damage.

Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island (France)
21.244°S, 55.708°E, Elevation 2632 m

OVPDLF reported that at 1850 on 31 October the effusive phase of the eruption at Piton de la Fournaise, which had begun on 24 August, had ceased. The report noted that gas emissions and seismicity continued to decrease through November, and deformation data suggested no inflation.

Geologic summary: The massive Piton de la Fournaise basaltic shield volcano on the French island of Réunion in the western Indian Ocean is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Much of its more than 530,000-year history overlapped with eruptions of the deeply dissected Piton des Neiges shield volcano to the NW. Three calderas formed at about 250,000, 65,000, and less than 5000 years ago by progressive eastward slumping of the volcano. Numerous pyroclastic cones dot the floor of the calderas and their outer flanks. Most historical eruptions have originated from the summit and flanks of Dolomieu, a 400-m-high lava shield that has grown within the youngest caldera, which is 8 km wide and breached to below sea level on the eastern side. More than 150 eruptions, most of which have produced fluid basaltic lava flows, have occurred since the 17th century. Only six eruptions, in 1708, 1774, 1776, 1800, 1977, and 1986, have originated from fissures on the outer flanks of the caldera. The Piton de la Fournaise Volcano Observatory, one of several operated by the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, monitors this very active volcano.

Tengger Caldera, Eastern Java (Indonesia)
7.942°S, 112.95°E, Elevation 2329 m

According to a news article, ash from Tengger Caldera's Bromo cone emitted on 15 December caused the Abdul Rachman Saleh Airport in Malang to close. On 16 December BNPB reported that ash plumes continued to rise from the cone. Based on satellite and webcam images, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 15, 17-19, and 21-22 December ash plumes rose to altitudes of 3-3.6 km (10,000-12,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 25-95 km W, NW, N, E, and SE.

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, Elevation 2899 m

KVERT reported that an explosive eruption that began at Zhupanovsky on 6 June likely finished on 30 November. Only moderate levels of fumarolic activity was observed in early-to-mid December. On 17 December the Aviation Color Code was lowered to Green.

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

Awu, Sangihe Islands (Indonesia)
3.67°N, 125.5°E, Elevation 1320 m

PVMBG reported that on 24 November the number of shallow volcanic earthquakes at Awu increased significantly from a baseline maximum of 4 per day to 258 events; only seven events were recorded the next day. Seismicity continued to decline during 2-15 December. Fog prevented visual observations of the crater. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4); residents and tourists were advised to stay 3 km away from the crater.

Geologic summary: The massive Gunung Awu stratovolcano occupies the northern end of Great Sangihe Island, the largest of the Sangihe arc. Deep valleys that form passageways for lahars dissect the flanks of the 1320-m-high volcano, which was constructed within a 4.5-km-wide caldera. Awu is one of Indonesia's deadliest volcanoes; powerful explosive eruptions in 1711, 1812, 1856, 1892, and 1966 produced devastating pyroclastic flows and lahars that caused more than 8000 cumulative fatalities. Awu contained a summit crater lake that was 1 km wide and 172 m deep in 1922, but was largely ejected during the 1966 eruption.

Colima, Mexico
19.514°N, 103.62°W, Elevation 3850 m

Based on satellite images, wind data, webcam images, and notices from the Mexico City MWO, the Washington VAAC reported that during 16-21 December ashplumes from Colima rose to altitudes of 4.6-7.3 km (15,000-24,000 ft) a.s.l. and NW, NNE, NE, and E.

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.

Copahue, Central Chile-Argentina border
37.856°S, 71.183°W, Elevation 2953 m

Based on satellite and webcam views, the Buenos Aires VAAC reported that during 18-20 December steam and gas emissions with minor amounts of ash rose to altitudes of 3-3.6 km (10,000-12,000 ft) a.s.l. Plumes drifted N on 18 December and 55-150 km SSE and SE on 19 December. During 20-22 December the webcam recorded continuous ash emissions drifting short distances.

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.

Cotopaxi, Ecuador
0.677°S, 78.436°W, Elevation 5911 m

IG reported that after 119 days of closure due to volcanic activity at Cotopaxi, the Cotopaxi National Park reopened to visitors. Both seismic and surficial activity have declined in recent weeks.

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, Elevation 1335 m

Based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 16-22 December ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 55-225 km ENE, E, SE, S, and SW.

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, Elevation 1784 m

Based on observations conducted at the Karangetang Volcano Observation Post in the village of Salili, PVMBG reported during 10-16 December that the lava dome was incandescent at night. Variable amounts of white emissions rose as high as 150 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, Elevation 1513 m

KVERT reported that moderate explosive activity at Karymsky continued during 11-18 December. Satellite images detected a thermal anomaly on 14 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, Elevation 1222 m

HVO reported that seismicity beneath Kilauea's summit, upper East Rift Zone, and Southwest Rift Zone was at background levels during 16-22 December. Thelava lake continued to circulate and spatter in the Overlook vent. Webcams recorded multiple incandescent outgassing vents within Pu'u 'O'o Crater. Scientists conducting fieldwork on 17 December observed an active lava pond on the E rim of 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, Elevation 1580 m

Although inclement weather sometimes obscured views of Lokon-Empung's Tompaluan Crater, PVMBG reported that during 10-16 December observers at the post in Kakaskasen Tomohon (North Sulawesi, 4 km from the crater), saw white plumes rising as high as 150 m above the crater. Seismicity fluctuated, but the seismic spectral amplitude measurement (SSAM) showed a gradual and significant increasing trend over the previous 3-4 months. 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 2.2 km apart), has a flat, craterless top. The morphologically younger Empung volcano 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.

Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia
4.892°N, 75.324°W, Elevation 5279 m

Servicio Geológico Colombiano’s (SGC) Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales reported that a volcanic tremor signal at 0214 on 18 December may have been associated with an ash emission from Nevado del Ruiz, although dark conditions prevented visual confirmation. Volcanic tremor which began at 1247 on 20 December was associated with an ash emission observed by numerous people both near the volcano and in Manizales (30 km NW). Many also reported a strong sulfur odor. The permanent DOAS (Differential Optical Absorption Spectrometer) station detected the highest levels of sulfur dioxide measured since the current activity began. The Alert Level remained at III (Yellow; "changes in the behavior of volcanic activity").

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 caldera of an older edifice. The 1-km-wide, 240-m-deep Arenas crater occupies the summit. The prominent La Olleta pyroclastic cone located on the SW flank may also have been active in historical time. Steep headwalls of massive landslides cut the flanks. 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.

Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)
56.653°N, 161.36°E, Elevation 3283 m

KVERT reported that during 11-18 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, and ash plumes from hot avalanches that drifted 50 km SE on 15 December. 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, Elevation 2460 m

Based on information from PVMBG, satellite images, and ground reports, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 16-22 December ash plumes from Sinabung rose to altitudes of 3.7-4.3 km (12,000-15,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW, SE, and E.

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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