Active volcanoes in the world: March 15 - 21, 2017

Active volcanoes in the world: March 15 - 21, 2017

New activity/unrest was reported for 5 volcanoes between March 15 and 21, 2017. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 14 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Bezymianny, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Chirinkotan, Kuril Islands (Russia) | Etna, Sicily (Italy) | Manam, Papua New Guinea | Nevados de Chillan, Chile.

Ongoing activity: Bagana, Bougainville (Papua New Guinea) | Bogoslof, Fox Islands (USA) | Colima, Mexico | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Fuego, Guatemala | Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA) | Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia | Pacaya, Guatemala | Sabancaya, Peru | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Sinabung, Indonesia | Turrialba, Costa Rica.

New activity/unrest

Bezymianny, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

55.972°N, 160.595°E, Elevation 2882 m

KVERT reported that lava continued to advance down Bezymianny's NW flank during 10-17 March, and gas-and-steam plumes rose from the crater. A thermal anomaly was visible each day in satellite images. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Geological summary: Prior to its noted 1955-56 eruption, Bezymianny had been considered extinct. The modern volcano, much smaller in size than its massive neighbors Kamen and Kliuchevskoi, was formed about 4700 years ago over a late-Pleistocene lava-dome complex and an ancestral edifice built about 11,000-7000 years ago. Three periods of intensified activity have occurred during the past 3000 years. The latest period, which was preceded by a 1000-year quiescence, began with the dramatic 1955-56 eruption. This eruption, similar to that of St. Helens in 1980, produced a large horseshoe-shaped crater that was formed by collapse of the summit and an associated lateral blast. Subsequent episodic but ongoing lava-dome growth, accompanied by intermittent explosive activity and pyroclastic flows, has largely filled the 1956 crater.

Chirinkotan, Kuril Islands (Russia)

48.98°N, 153.48°E, Elevation 724 m

Based on satellite images, SVERT reported that on 21 March an ash plume from Chirinkotan rose to an altitude of 6 km (20,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 15 km E. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Yellow (the second lowest on a four-color scale).

Geological 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.

Etna, Sicily (Italy)

37.734°N, 15.004°E, Elevation 3330 m

INGV reported that during the morning of 15 March lava began to flow down the S flank of Etna's Southeast Crater (SEC) - New Southeast Crater (NSEC) cone complex. Activity rapidly intensified at 0800, and by 1000 near-constant Strombolian explosions were generating ash plumes. The lava flow reached the base of the cone and traveled S. By late afternoon the lava was advancing on top of lava flows from the previous eruption. The intensity of the Strombolian activity reached a peak around 1840-1845, and by the evening both the eruptive activity and seismicity gradually diminished. Just before midnight a new lava flow began to effuse from a vent on the S flank of the cone. On 16 March at 1243 a phreato-magmatic explosion occurred at the front of a lava flow where it contacted an area covered with snow. An INGV-Osservatorio Etneo volcanologist was injured in the explosion, suffering minor bruises. A news article noted that about 10 people were injured during the event.

Geological 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.

Manam, Papua New Guinea

4.08°S, 145.037°E, Elevation 1807 m

Based on analyses of satellite imagery and model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 21 March weak ash emissions from Manam rose to an altitude of 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE and E.

Geological summary: The 10-km-wide island of Manam, lying 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, is one of the country's most active volcanoes. Four large radial valleys extend from the unvegetated summit of the conical 1807-m-high basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks. These "avalanche valleys" channel lava flows and pyroclastic avalanches that have sometimes reached the coast. Five small satellitic centers are located near the island's shoreline on the northern, southern, and western sides. Two summit craters are present; both are active, although most historical eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE valley. Frequent historical eruptions, typically of mild-to-moderate scale, have been recorded since 1616. Occasional larger eruptions have produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached flat-lying coastal areas and entered the sea, sometimes impacting populated areas.

Nevados de Chillan, Chile

36.863°S, 71.377°W, Elevation 3212 m

Based on satellite and webcam views, the Buenos Aires VAAC reported that during 15-17 March gas-and-ash plumes from Nevados de Chillán rose to altitudes of 4-5.5 km (13,000-18,000 ft) a.s.l. and sometimes drifted NE and SW.

Geological summary: The compound volcano of Nevados de Chillán is one of the most active of the Central Andes. Three late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcanoes were constructed along a NNW-SSE line within three nested Pleistocene calderas, which produced ignimbrite sheets extending more than 100 km into the Central Depression of Chile. The largest stratovolcano, dominantly andesitic, Cerro Blanco (Volcán Nevado), is located at the NW end of the group. Volcán Viejo (Volcán Chillán), which was the main active vent during the 17th-19th centuries, occupies the SE end. The new Volcán Nuevo lava-dome complex formed between 1906 and 1945 between the two volcanoes and grew to exceed Volcán Viejo in elevation. The Volcán Arrau dome complex was constructed SE of Volcán Nuevo between 1973 and 1986 and eventually exceeded its height.

Ongoing activity

Bagana, Bougainville (Papua New Guinea)

6.137°S, 155.196°E, Elevation 1855 m

Based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 17 March an ash plume from Bagana rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W. The next day an ash plume rose to an altitude of 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted almost 85 km W.

Geological summary: Bagana volcano, occupying a remote portion of central Bougainville Island, is one of Melanesia's youngest and most active volcanoes. This massive symmetrical cone was largely constructed by an accumulation of viscous andesitic lava flows. The entire edifice could have been constructed in about 300 years at its present rate of lava production. Eruptive activity is frequent and characterized by non-explosive effusion of viscous lava that maintains a small lava dome in the summit crater, although explosive activity occasionally producing pyroclastic flows also occurs. Lava flows form dramatic, freshly preserved tongue-shaped lobes up to 50 m thick with prominent levees that descend the flanks on all sides.

Bogoslof, Fox Islands (USA)

53.93°N, 168.03°W, Elevation 150 m

AVO reported that no significant volcanic activity at Bogoslof was detected in seismic or infrasound data during 15-21 March, and satellite views were either obscured by clouds or showed nothing noteworthy. Slightly elevated surface temperatures were identified in satellite images during 16-17 and 20-21 March. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Warning.

Geological summary: Bogoslof is the emergent summit of a submarine volcano that lies 40 km north of the main Aleutian arc. It rises 1500 m above the Bering Sea floor. Repeated construction and destruction of lava domes at different locations during historical time has greatly modified the appearance of this "Jack-in-the-Box" volcano and has introduced a confusing nomenclature applied during frequent visits of exploring expeditions. The present triangular-shaped, 0.75 x 2 km island consists of remnants of lava domes emplaced from 1796 to 1992. Castle Rock (Old Bogoslof) is a steep-sided pinnacle that is a remnant of a spine from the 1796 eruption. Fire Island (New Bogoslof), a small island located about 600 m NW of Bogoslof Island, is a remnant of a lava dome that was formed in 1883.

Colima, Mexico

19.514°N, 103.62°W, Elevation 3850 m

Based on Centro Universitario de Estudios e Investigaciones de Vulcanologia - Universidad de Colima observations, the Unidad Estatal de Protección Civil de Colima reported that during 10-16 March there were three low-intensity explosions at Colima. A slight decrease of sulfur dioxide was detected. During an overflight scientists observed gas emissions from small explosion craters on the floor of the main crater; there was no evidence of a new lava dome. The report noted that the public should not enter the 6-km-radius exclusion zone.

Geological 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.

Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia)

1.693°N, 127.894°E, Elevation 1229 m

Based on analyses of satellite imagery, wind model data, and notices from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 15-21 March ash plumes from Dukono rose to altitudes of 2.1-2.7 km (7,000-9,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions. Ash plumes during 19-21 March drifted 150-280 km SW, W, and NW.

Geological 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.

Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia)

50.686°N, 156.014°E, Elevation 1103 m

KVERT reported that on 10 March several explosions at Ebeko, observed by residents of Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island) about 7 km E, generated plumes that rose to an altitude of 1.6 km (5,200 ft) a.s.l. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale).

Geological summary: The flat-topped summit of the central cone of Ebeko volcano, one of the most active in the Kuril Islands, occupies the northern end of Paramushir Island. Three summit craters located along a SSW-NNE line form Ebeko volcano proper, at the northern end of a complex of five volcanic cones. Blocky lava flows extend west from Ebeko and SE from the neighboring Nezametnyi cone. The eastern part of the southern crater contains strong solfataras and a large boiling spring. The central crater is filled by a lake about 20 m deep whose shores are lined with steaming solfataras; the northern crater lies across a narrow, low barrier from the central crater and contains a small, cold crescentic lake. Historical activity, recorded since the late-18th century, has been restricted to small-to-moderate explosive eruptions from the summit craters. Intense fumarolic activity occurs in the summit craters, on the outer flanks of the cone, and in lateral explosion craters.

Fuego, Guatemala

14.473°N, 90.88°W, Elevation 3763 m

INSIVUMEH reported that during 16-21 March explosions at Fuego generated sometimes dense ash plumes that rose as high as 950 m above the crater rim and drifted 10-12 km W, SW, and S. Ashfall was reported in Panimaché I and II (8 km SW), Morelia (9 km SW), Santa Sofía (12 km SW), and El Porvenir. Shock waves and rumbling from the explosions were sometimes heard. Incandescent material was ejected as high as 200 m above the crater rim. During 18-19 March incandescent material was ejected 200 m away from the crater. In a special report dated 21 March INSIVUMEH noted that lahars had begun descending the Santa Teresa and Las Lajas drainages at 1623 based on seismic data; it had been raining for a few days.

Geological 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.

Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA)

19.421°N, 155.287°W, Elevation 1222 m

During 15-21 March HVO reported that the lava lake continued to rise, fall, and spatter in Kilauea’s Overlook vent. Webcams recorded incandescence from long-active sources within Pu'u 'O'o Crater, from a vent high on the NE flank of the cone, and from a small lava pond in a pit on the W side of the crater. The 61G lava flow, originating from a vent on Pu'u 'O'o Crater's E flank, continued to enter the ocean at Kamokuna; the lava stream was 1-2 m wide on 16 March, and plunged into the ocean from the end of the lava tube, about 20 m above the water. Surface lava flows were active above the pali.

Geological 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 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.

Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

56.056°N, 160.642°E, Elevation 4754 m

On 16 March KVERT reported that although gas-and-steam emissions continued to rise from Klyuchevskoy's crater, and a weak thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images, no explosions had been detected since 8 March. The Aviation Color Code was lowered to Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale).

Geological summary: Klyuchevskoy (also spelled Kliuchevskoi) is Kamchatka's highest and most active volcano. Since its origin about 6000 years ago, the beautifully symmetrical, 4835-m-high basaltic stratovolcano has produced frequent moderate-volume explosive and effusive eruptions without major periods of inactivity. It rises above a saddle NE of sharp-peaked Kamen volcano and lies SE of the broad Ushkovsky massif. More than 100 flank eruptions have occurred during the past roughly 3000 years, with most lateral craters and cones occurring along radial fissures between the unconfined NE-to-SE flanks of the conical volcano between 500 m and 3600 m elevation. The morphology of the 700-m-wide summit crater has been frequently modified by historical eruptions, which have been recorded since the late-17th century. Historical eruptions have originated primarily from the summit crater, but have also included numerous major explosive and effusive eruptions from flank craters.

Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia

4.892°N, 75.324°W, Elevation 5279 m

Based on satellite and webcam images, the Washington VAAC reported that on 17 and 20 March ash plumes from Nevado del Ruiz rose to an altitude of 6.1 km (20,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NW and SW.

Geological 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.

Pacaya, Guatemala

14.381°N, 90.601°W, Elevation 2552 m

INSIVUMEH reported small Strombolian explosions at Pacaya’s Mackenney during 16-20 March. Lava traveled 30 m W, and sometimes crater incandescence was visible at night and at dawn.

Geological summary: Eruptions from Pacaya, one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes, are frequently visible from Guatemala City, the nation's capital. This complex basaltic volcano was constructed just outside the southern topographic rim of the 14 x 16 km Pleistocene Amatitlán caldera. A cluster of dacitic lava domes occupies the southern caldera floor. The post-caldera Pacaya massif includes the ancestral Pacaya Viejo and Cerro Grande stratovolcanoes and the currently active Mackenney stratovolcano. Collapse of Pacaya Viejo between 600 and 1500 years ago produced a debris-avalanche deposit that extends 25 km onto the Pacific coastal plain and left an arcuate somma rim inside which the modern Pacaya volcano (Mackenney cone) grew. A subsidiary crater, Cerro Chino, was constructed on the NW somma rim and was last active in the 19th century. During the past several decades, activity has consisted of frequent strombolian eruptions with intermittent lava flow extrusion that has partially filled in the caldera moat and armored the flanks of Mackenney cone, punctuated by occasional larger explosive eruptions that partially destroy the summit of the growing young stratovolcano.

Sabancaya, Peru

15.78°S, 71.85°W, Elevation 5967 m

Based on webcam images, satellite views, and seismic data the Buenos Aires VAAC reported sporadic gas-and-ash puffs from Sabancaya during 14-15, 17-19, and 21 March, sometimes rising as high as 8.2 km (27,000 ft) a.s.l. Weather clouds often hindered observations of the volcano. Observatorio Vulcanológico del Sur del IGP (OVS-IGP) and Observatorio Vulcanológico del INGEMMET (OVI) reported that at 0802 on 21 March an ash plume rose 2 km and drifted more than 30 km SSE.

Geological summary: Sabancaya, located in the saddle NE of Ampato and SE of Hualca Hualca volcanoes, is the youngest of these volcanic centers and the only one to have erupted in historical time. The oldest of the three, Nevado Hualca Hualca, is of probable late-Pliocene to early Pleistocene age. The name Sabancaya (meaning "tongue of fire" in the Quechua language) first appeared in records in 1595 CE, suggesting activity prior to that date. Holocene activity has consisted of Plinian eruptions followed by emission of voluminous andesitic and dacitic lava flows, which form an extensive apron around the volcano on all sides but the south. Records of historical eruptions date back to 1750.

Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

56.653°N, 161.36°E, Elevation 3283 m

KVERT reported that during 10-17 March lava-dome extrusion onto Sheveluch’s N flank was accompanied by strong fumarolic activity, dome incandescence, ash explosions, and hot avalanches. Satellite images showed a daily thermal anomaly over the dome, and ash plumes that drifted 100 km NW on 9 and 14 March. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale).

Geological 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 PVMBG observations, satellite data, and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 15-18 and 21 March ash plumes from Sinabung rose to altitudes of 3-5.5 km (10,000-18,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E, N, W, and WSW.

Geological 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 andesitic-to-dacitic edifice 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.

Turrialba, Costa Rica

10.025°N, 83.767°W, Elevation 3340 m

OVSICORI-UNA reported that during 20-21 March weak gas emissions at Turrialba contained sporadic, small amounts of ash, and rose no higher than 100 m above the crater rim and drifted SW. Volcanic tremor had medium and variable amplitude, and a few low-frequency earthquakes were recorded.

Geological summary: Turrialba, the easternmost of Costa Rica's Holocene volcanoes, is a large vegetated basaltic-to-dacitic stratovolcano located across a broad saddle NE of Irazú volcano overlooking the city of Cartago. The massive 3340-m-high Turrialba is exceeded in height only by Irazú, covers an area of 500 sq km, and is one of Costa Rica's most voluminous volcanoes. Three well-defined craters occur at the upper SW end of a broad 800 x 2200 m summit depression that is breached to the NE. Most activity originated from the summit vent complex, but two pyroclastic cones are located on the SW flank. Five major explosive eruptions have occurred during the past 3500 years. A series of explosive eruptions during the 19th century were sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows. Fumarolic activity continues at the central and SW summit craters.

Source: GVP

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