Elevated activity at Guatemala's Santa Maria (Santiaguito) volcano

Elevated activity at Guatemala's Santa Maria (Santiaguito) volcano

Elevated activity at Guatemala's Santa Maria volcano continues. Explosions at Caliente cone, part of Santa María's Santiaguito lava-dome complex, over the last couple of days produced ash plumes that rose up to 5 km (16 400 feet).

Several pyroclastic flows traveled up to 2 km (1.2 miles), mainly on the southern and eastern sides. Blocks and volcanic bombs were observed falling up to 3 km (1.86 miles) away from the crater.

Moderate to heavy ash fall occurred in areas southwest of the dome complex, including the towns and villages of Nuevo Palmar, San Felipe Retalhuleu, Aldea Loma Linda, San Marcos Palajunoj El Patrocinio and others. 

INSIVUMEH said explosions could be heard up to 30 km (18.6 miles) away from the volcano.

Geological 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 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. (GVP)

Featured image: Santiaguito eruption on May 14, 2016. Credit: El Tuitero Sísmico (@dngonzalo)

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