Increased volcanic activity at Fuego, lava flows likely, Guatemala

Increased volcanic activity at Fuego, lava flows likely, Guatemala

The eruption at Guatemala's Fuego volcano has increased over the past couple of days and authorities are now warning that lava flows could be generated in the days ahead.

The volcano is generating weak, moderate and strong explosions at a rate of about 15 to 25 per hour, INSIVUMEH reported January 21, 2019.

Ash columns are rising up to 4.8 km (15 700 feet) above sea level and dispersing to the west and southwest.

An incandescent source of volcanic material that rises up to 300 m (984 feet) high is producing abundant moderate and strong avalanches that descend through the Las Lajas, Seca, Cenizas and Honda ravines.

Rumbling sounds produced by the explosions are being heard up to 15 km (9.3 miles) from the volcano and are even reaching areas of Ciudad Vieja, Antigua Guatemala, Escuintla, Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa and Amatitlán and Villa Nueva in the department from Guatemala. 

Due to this increased volcanic activity, there is a possibility that lava flows could be generated in the days ahead.

Weak white degassing was observed rising up to 4.4 km (14 400 feet) above sea level on January 23, drifting WSW and NW.

There are now 12 to 15 explosions reported per hour and ash column is rising approximately 4.5 to 4.7 km (14 700 - 15 400 feet) a.s.l.

Incandescent material was observed at the crater overnight, reaching an approximate height of 100 - 300 m (feet) above the crater.

Among other areas, ashfall is expected in San Pedro Yepocapa, Morelia, Santa Sofía, Finca Palo Verde, Sangre de Cristo, and Panimaché I and II.

People living nearby are urged to continue following Fuego's activity using official channels, to work with local municipal authorities and stay away from areas at risk.

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 3 763 m (12 345 feet) 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. The collapse of Meseta may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km (31 miles) onto the Pacific coastal plain.

The 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. (GVP)

Featured image credit: Broken Compass


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