The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: October 16 - 22, 2019

The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: October 16 - 22, 2019

New activity/unrest was reported for 3 volcanoes from October 16 to 22, 2019. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 12 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Masaya, Nicaragua | Metis Shoal, Tonga Islands | Pavlof, United States.

Ongoing activity: Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Etna, Sicily (Italy) | Ibu, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Karangetang, Siau Island (Indonesia) | Krakatau, Indonesia | Merapi, Central Java (Indonesia) | Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia) | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Shishaldin, Fox Islands (USA) | Tangkuban Parahu, Western Java (Indonesia).

New activity/unrest

Masaya, Nicaragua

11.984°N, 86.161°W, Summit elev. 635 m

According to news reports, ash was emitted from Masaya on 15 October, causing very minor ashfall in Colonia 4 de Mayo, 6 km NW.

Geological 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.

Metis Shoal, Tonga Islands

19.18°S, 174.87°W, Summit elev. 43 m

The Wellington VAAC reported that on 22 October pilots observed intermittent white plumes rising from Metis Shoal (Lateiki) to 3.7 km (12,000 ft) a.s.l. There was no ash signature in the plumes.

Geological summary: Metis Shoal, also known as Lateiki, is a submarine volcano midway between the islands of Kao and Late that has produced a series of ephemeral islands since the first confirmed activity in the mid-19th century. An island, perhaps not in eruption, was reported in 1781 and subsequently eroded away. During periods of inactivity following 20th-century eruptions, waves have been observed to break on rocky reefs or sandy banks with depths of 10 m or less. Dacitic tuff cones formed during the first 20th-century eruptions in 1967 and 1979 were soon eroded beneath the ocean surface. An eruption in 1995 produced an island with a diameter of 280 m and a height of 43 m following growth of a lava dome above the surface.

Pavlof, United States

55.417°N, 161.894°W, Summit elev. 2493 m

On 19 October small explosion signals at Pavlof were detected by the infrasound network located at Sand Point and on the local seismic network, prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Color Code to Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level to Advisory. Clouds obscured satellite views of the volcano around the time of the event; slightly elevated surface temperatures were detected in satellite images during 19-20 October.

Geological summary: The most active volcano of the Aleutian arc, Pavlof is a 2519-m-high Holocene stratovolcano that was constructed along a line of vents extending NE from the Emmons Lake caldera. Pavlof and its twin volcano to the NE, 2142-m-high Pavlof Sister, form a dramatic pair of symmetrical, glacier-covered stratovolcanoes that tower above Pavlof and Volcano bays. A third cone, Little Pavlof, is a smaller volcano on the SW flank of Pavlof volcano, near the rim of Emmons Lake caldera. Unlike Pavlof Sister, Pavlof has been frequently active in historical time, typically producing Strombolian to Vulcanian explosive eruptions from the summit vents and occasional lava flows. The active vents lie near the summit on the north and east sides. The largest historical eruption took place in 1911, at the end of a 5-year-long eruptive episode, when a fissure opened on the N flank, ejecting large blocks and issuing lava flows.

Ongoing activity

Aira, Kyushu (Japan)

31.593°N, 130.657°E, Summit elev. 1117 m

JMA reported that incandescence from Minamidake crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) was visible at night during 15-21 October. There were 14 explosions and seven non-explosive eruptive events detected by the seismic network. Eruption plumes rose as high as 3 km above the crater rim and large blocks were ejected as far as 1.3 km away. The sulfur dioxide emission rate was high, at 2,800 tons/day, on 15 October. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).

Geological summary: The Aira caldera in the northern half of Kagoshima Bay contains the post-caldera Sakurajima volcano, one of Japan's most active. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow accompanied formation of the 17 x 23 km caldera about 22,000 years ago. The smaller Wakamiko caldera was formed during the early Holocene in the NE corner of the Aira caldera, along with several post-caldera cones. The construction of Sakurajima began about 13,000 years ago on the southern rim of Aira caldera and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kitadake summit cone ended about 4850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minamidake. Frequent historical eruptions, recorded since the 8th century, have deposited ash on Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largest cities, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76.

Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia)

1.693°N, 127.894°E, Summit elev. 1229 m

Based on satellite and wind model data, and information from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 16-22 October ash plumes from Dukono rose to altitudes of 2.1-2.3 km (7,000-8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to remain outside of the 2-km exclusion zone.

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, Summit elev. 1103 m

Volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island), about 7 km E of Ebeko, observed explosions during 11-18 October that sent ash plumes up to 4 km (13,100 ft) a.s.l. Ash plumes drifted NE, causing ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk on 15 October. A weak thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images on 12 October. 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.

Etna, Sicily (Italy)

37.748°N, 14.999°E, Summit elev. 3295 m

INGV reported that during 14-20 October diffuse ash plumes from Etna’s Northeast Crater (NEC) varied from quickly-dispersing puffs to emissions lasting several hours. Ash drifted S, producing ashfall in areas downwind including Pedara, Mascalucia, Nicolosi, San Giovanni La Punta, and Catania. Ash plumes also rose from Voragine Crater (VOR).

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, sometimes simultaneously. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more summit craters. 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.

Ibu, Halmahera (Indonesia)

1.488°N, 127.63°E, Summit elev. 1325 m

PVMBG reported that at 0829 on 20 October an ash plume from Ibu rose at least 400 m above the summit and drifted W. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to stay at least 2 km away from the active crater, and 3.5 km away on the N side.

Geological summary: The truncated summit of Gunung Ibu stratovolcano along the NW coast of Halmahera Island has large nested summit craters. The inner crater, 1 km wide and 400 m deep, contained several small crater lakes through much of historical time. The outer crater, 1.2 km wide, is breached on the north side, creating a steep-walled valley. A large parasitic cone is located ENE of the summit. A smaller one to the WSW has fed a lava flow down the W flank. A group of maars is located below the N and W flanks. Only a few eruptions have been recorded in historical time, the first a small explosive eruption from the summit crater in 1911. An eruption producing a lava dome that eventually covered much of the floor of the inner summit crater began in December 1998.

Karangetang, Siau Island (Indonesia)

2.781°N, 125.407°E, Summit elev. 1797 m

PVMBG reported that during 14-20 October lava continued to effuse from Karangetang’s Main Crater (S), traveling as far as 1.8 km down the Nanitu, Pangi, and Sense drainages on the SW and W flanks. Incandescence from both summit craters was visible at night. Sometimes dense white plumes rose to 600 m above the summit. According to the Darwin VAAC minor ash plumes were visible in satellite images rising to 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. (600 m above the summit) and drifting W and NW. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4).

Geological summary: Karangetang (Api Siau) volcano lies at the northern end of the island of Siau, about 125 km NNE of the NE-most point of Sulawesi island. The stratovolcano contains five summit craters along a N-S line. It 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 have produced pyroclastic flows.

Krakatau, Indonesia

6.102°S, 105.423°E, Summit elev. 813 m

PVMBG reported that during 14-20 October Anak Krakatau’s seismic network recorded 24 eruptive events. Diffuse white plumes rose as high as 150 m above the vent. A webcam on the volcano recorded several eruptions that ejected dense, blackish-gray ash plumes 150-300 m above the crater floor. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to remain outside of the 2-km-radius hazard zone from the crater.

Geological summary: The renowned volcano Krakatau (frequently misstated as Krakatoa) lies in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. Collapse of the ancestral Krakatau edifice, perhaps in 416 or 535 CE, formed a 7-km-wide caldera. Remnants of this ancestral volcano are preserved in Verlaten and Lang Islands; subsequently Rakata, Danan, and Perbuwatan volcanoes were formed, coalescing to create the pre-1883 Krakatau Island. Caldera collapse during the catastrophic 1883 eruption destroyed Danan and Perbuwatan, and left only a remnant of Rakata. This eruption, the 2nd largest in Indonesia during historical time, caused more than 36,000 fatalities, most as a result of devastating tsunamis that swept the adjacent coastlines of Sumatra and Java. Pyroclastic surges traveled 40 km across the Sunda Strait and reached the Sumatra coast. After a quiescence of less than a half century, the post-collapse cone of Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau) was constructed within the 1883 caldera at a point between the former cones of Danan and Perbuwatan. Anak Krakatau has been the site of frequent eruptions since 1927.

Merapi, Central Java (Indonesia)

7.54°S, 110.446°E, Summit elev. 2910 m

PVMBG reported that an eruption at Merapi at 1631 on 14 October generated an ash plume that rose 3 km above the summit and caused ashfall in areas as far as 25 km SW. A pyroclastic flow traveled 2 km down the Gendol drainage on the SW flank. The event changed the shape of the dome by removing a NE-SW trending section that was 100 m long, 30 m wide, and 20 m deep. Lava continued to extrude during 14-20 October, generating at least two block-and-ash flows that traveled 1 km down the Gendol drainage. Foggy conditions sometimes prevented visual observations. White emissions rose as high as 500 m above the summit. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and residents were warned to stay outside of the 3-km exclusion zone.

Geological summary: Merapi, one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, lies in one of the world's most densely populated areas and dominates the landscape immediately north of the major city of Yogyakarta. It is the youngest and southernmost of a volcanic chain extending NNW to Ungaran volcano. Growth of Old Merapi during the Pleistocene ended with major edifice collapse perhaps about 2000 years ago, leaving a large arcuate scarp cutting the eroded older Batulawang volcano. Subsequently growth of the steep-sided Young Merapi edifice, its upper part unvegetated due to frequent eruptive activity, began SW of the earlier collapse scarp. Pyroclastic flows and lahars accompanying growth and collapse of the steep-sided active summit lava dome have devastated cultivated lands on the western-to-southern flanks and caused many fatalities during historical time.

Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia)

8.108°S, 112.922°E, Summit elev. 3657 m

The Darwin VAAC reported that on 18 October an ash plume from Semeru rose to an altitude of 4.3 km (14,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W based on satellite images and weather models. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4).

Geological summary: Semeru, the highest volcano on Java, and one of its most active, lies at the southern end of a volcanic massif extending north to the Tengger caldera. The steep-sided volcano, also referred to as Mahameru (Great Mountain), rises above coastal plains to the south. Gunung Semeru was constructed south of the overlapping Ajek-ajek and Jambangan calderas. A line of lake-filled maars was constructed along a N-S trend cutting through the summit, and cinder cones and lava domes occupy the eastern and NE flanks. Summit topography is complicated by the shifting of craters from NW to SE. Frequent 19th and 20th century eruptions were dominated by small-to-moderate explosions from the summit crater, with occasional lava flows and larger explosive eruptions accompanied by pyroclastic flows that have reached the lower flanks of the volcano.

Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

56.653°N, 161.36°E, Summit elev. 3283 m

KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch was identified in satellite images during 11-18 October. Explosions during 11-13 and 15 October produced ash plumes that rose 6.5-7 km (21,300-23,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 620 km E and SE. Resuspended ash drifted 125 km E during 16-17 October. 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 km3 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.

Shishaldin, Fox Islands (USA)

54.756°N, 163.97°W, Summit elev. 2857 m

On 17 October AVO raised the Aviation Color Code for Shishaldin to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level to Watch noting that new lava effusion in the summit crater had begun on 13 October. Weather clouds had mostly prevented views of the crater during 12-18 October; elevated surface temperatures were detected during 13 and 17-20 October. A steam plume was visible in webcam images on 19 October.

Geological summary: The beautifully symmetrical volcano of Shishaldin is the highest and one of the most active volcanoes of the Aleutian Islands. The 2857-m-high, glacier-covered volcano is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes along an E-W line in the eastern half of Unimak Island. The Aleuts named the volcano Sisquk, meaning "mountain which points the way when I am lost." A steady steam plume rises from its small summit crater. Constructed atop an older glacially dissected volcano, it is Holocene in age and largely basaltic in composition. Remnants of an older ancestral volcano are exposed on the west and NE sides at 1500-1800 m elevation. There are over two dozen pyroclastic cones on its NW flank, which is blanketed by massive aa lava flows. Frequent explosive activity, primarily consisting of strombolian ash eruptions from the small summit crater, but sometimes producing lava flows, has been recorded since the 18th century.

Tangkuban Parahu, Western Java (Indonesia)

6.77°S, 107.6°E, Summit elev. 2084 m

Diffuse white water-vapor plumes rose 40 m above the vent on Tangkubanparahu's Ratu Crater floor during 14-21 October. PVMBG lowered the Alert Level to 1 (on a scale of 1-4) on 21 October, noting that phreatic events had not been recorded for the past month, deformation data indicated no rising magma, and other data all suggested decreased activity. Tourists were advised to avoid going into the crater.

Geological summary: Gunung Tangkuban Parahu is a broad shield-like stratovolcano overlooking Indonesia's former capital city of Bandung. The volcano was constructed within the 6 x 8 km Pleistocene Sunda caldera, which formed about 190,000 years ago. The volcano's low profile is the subject of legends referring to the mountain of the "upturned boat." The Sunda caldera rim forms a prominent ridge on the western side; elsewhere the rim is largely buried by deposits of the current volcano. The dominantly small phreatic eruptions recorded since the 19th century have originated from several nested craters within an elliptical 1 x 1.5 km summit depression.

Source: GVP

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