Strong eruption of Santa Maria's Santiaguito sends ash to 5 km a.s.l., Guatemala

Strong eruption of Santa Maria's Santiaguito sends ash to 5 km a.s.l., Guatemala

A strong explosion occurred at Santa Maria's Santiaguito lava-dome complex, Guatemala at 15:15 UTC on June 17, 2016.

INSIVUMEH reported the eruption sent volcanic ash 5 km (16 500 feet) above sea level. The ash is drifting west. Pyroclastic flows descended the east and west flanks.

On June 13, a 30-m (98 feet) wide hot lahar triggered by rainfall descended the Nima I River, a tributary of Samala River, carrying tree trunks, branches, and rock up to 70 cm (2.3 feet) in diameter.

Due to constant rain, lahars are expected to increase following today's eruption.

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 erupting on June 17, 2016. Credit: EU XELA

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