The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: November 20 - 26, 2019

The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: November 20 - 26, 2019

New activity/unrest was reported for 2 volcanoes from November 20 to 26, 2019. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 13 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Shishaldin, Fox Islands (USA) | White Island, New Zealand.

Ongoing activity: Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Fuego, Guatemala | Ibu, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Karangetang, Siau Island (Indonesia) | Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Merapi, Central Java (Indonesia) | Pacaya, Guatemala | Sangeang Api, Indonesia | Santa Maria, Guatemala | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan).

New activity/unrest

Shishaldin, Fox Islands (USA)

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

AVO reported that increased seismicity and higher surface temperatures at Shishaldin during 19-20 November indicated elevated eruptive activity. Seismicity abruptly dropped at 0340 on 20 November and remained low, heralding another pause in activity. Tremor and surface temperatures remained low through 23 November. Seismicity again increased during 24-25 November and small explosions were detected in local and regional infrasound stations. Strongly elevated surface temperatures were observed in multiple satellite images. A partial collapse of the summit cone sometime around 1430 on 24 November produced a pyroclastic flow that traveled as far as 3 km down the NW flank. A new lava flow on the NW flank was several hundred meters long. Seismicity decreased but remained elevated during 25-26 November. Strongly elevated surface temperatures were identified in multiple satellite images, and incandescence from the summit was occasionally visible in web camera images overnight. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch.

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.

White Island, New Zealand

78.17°S, 167.5°E, Summit elev. 762 m

GeoNet reported that gas emissions at White Island were at moderate-to-high levels during 18-25 November and tremor was at moderate levels. Gas-driven fountaining from active vents on the W side of the crater floor ejected mud a few meters in the air. The Volcanic Alert Level remained at 2 and the Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow.

Geological summary: White Island is a mostly ice-covered volcanic complex at the northern end of the island consisting of two shield volcanoes and overlying pyroclastic cones. The youngest Potassium-Argon date obtained was 0.17 million years ago and there is no evidence of Holocene activity.

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 18-25 November. There were 17 explosions and four non-explosive eruptive events detected by the seismic network. Ash plumes rose as high as 2.7 km above the crater rim and blocks were ejected as far as 1.7 km away. The sulfur dioxide emission rate was 2,800 tons/day on 21 November. 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 20-26 November ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 1.8-2.3 km (6,000-8,000 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 15-17 and 20 November that sent ash plumes up to 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. Ash plumes drifted SE and NE. 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, Summit elev. 3763 m

INSIVUMEH reported that there were 6-15 explosions per hour recorded at Fuego during 20-26 November, generating ash plumes that rose as high as 1.1 km above the crater rim and drifted 10-20 km S, SW, and W. Ashfall was reported in several areas downwind including Santa Sofía (12 km SW), Morelia (9 km SW), Panimaché I and II (8 km SW), Finca Palo Verde, San Pedro Yepocapa (8 km NW), Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW), and El Porvenir (8 km ENE). Explosions sometimes produced shock waves that rattled houses in nearby communities. Incandescent material was ejected 100-450 m high and caused avalanches of material that occasionally traveled long distances (reaching vegetated areas) down the Seca (W), Taniluyá (SW), Ceniza (SSW), Trinidad (S), Las Lajas (SE), and Honda ravines. Lava flows advanced in the Seca and Santa Teresa (W) drainages during November, and were 300 and 800 m long on 21 and 24 November, respectively.

Geological summary: Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is also one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between Fuego and Acatenango to the north. 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 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.

Ibu, Halmahera (Indonesia)

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

Based on PVMBG observations, satellite images, and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 20-21 and 23-25 November ash plumes from Ibu rose 1.8-2.1 km (6,000-7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions. A thermal anomaly was visible in satellite images on 21 November.

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 18-24 November 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. Sometimes dense white plumes rose to 300 m above the summit. Incandescence from both summit craters was visible at night. 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.

Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

56.056°N, 160.642°E, Summit elev. 4754 m

KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Klyuchevskoy was identified in satellite images on 14 November. Strombolian activity and a series of ash explosions were visible on 20 November. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

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.

Merapi, Central Java (Indonesia)

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

PVMBG reported that no eruptive events at Merapi were recorded during 18-24 November, though a significant increase in the number of low-frequency earthquakes and increased carbon dioxide emissions were detected on 19 November. 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.

Pacaya, Guatemala

14.382°N, 90.601°W, Summit elev. 2569 m

INSIVUMEH reported that during 20-26 November Strombolian explosions at Pacaya’s Mackenney Crater ejected material as high as 75 m above the crater rim. Lava flows traveled as far as 400 m down NW flank and produced block avalanches from the flow fronts.

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.

Sangeang Api, Indonesia

8.2°S, 119.07°E, Summit elev. 1912 m

The Darwin VAAC reported that during 20-26 November discrete and short-lived ash emissions from Sangeang Api rose to 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW and W. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4).

Geological summary: Sangeang Api volcano, one of the most active in the Lesser Sunda Islands, forms a small 13-km-wide island off the NE coast of Sumbawa Island. Two large trachybasaltic-to-tranchyandesitic volcanic cones, Doro Api and Doro Mantoi, were constructed in the center and on the eastern rim, respectively, of an older, largely obscured caldera. Flank vents occur on the south side of Doro Mantoi and near the northern coast. Intermittent historical eruptions have been recorded since 1512, most of them during in the 20th century.

Santa Maria, Guatemala

14.757°N, 91.552°W, Summit elev. 3745 m

INSIVUMEH reported that on most days during 20-26 November there were 1-3 explosions per hour detected at Santa María's Santiaguito lava-dome complex. Ash plumes rose 600-900 m above the complex and drifted SW and W. Avalanches of material descended the E, S, and SW flanks. Ash sometimes fell locally, and likely in finca El Faro, Santa Maria, and Viejo Palmar during 20-21 and 24-25 November.

Geological summary: Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is part of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rise above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The sharp-topped, conical profile is cut on the SW flank by a 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 vents, with activity progressing W towards the most recent, Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

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 15-22 November. 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.

Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan)

29.638°N, 129.714°E, Summit elev. 796 m

JMA reported that incandescence at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater was visible during 15-22 November. Eruptive events generated grayish white plumes that rose as high as 900 m above the crater rim. Ashfall was reported in Toshima Village (4 km SSW) during 19-20 November. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a 5-level scale).

Geological summary: The 8-km-long, spindle-shaped island of Suwanosejima in the northern Ryukyu Islands consists of an andesitic stratovolcano with two historically active summit craters. The summit of the volcano is truncated by a large breached crater extending to the sea on the east flank that was formed by edifice collapse. Suwanosejima, one of Japan's most frequently active volcanoes, was in a state of intermittent strombolian activity from Otake, the NE summit crater, that began in 1949 and lasted until 1996, after which periods of inactivity lengthened. The largest historical eruption took place in 1813-14, when thick scoria deposits blanketed residential areas, and the SW crater produced two lava flows that reached the western coast. At the end of the eruption the summit of Otake collapsed forming a large debris avalanche and creating the horseshoe-shaped Sakuchi caldera, which extends to the eastern coast. The island remained uninhabited for about 70 years after the 1813-1814 eruption. Lava flows reached the eastern coast of the island in 1884. Only about 50 people live on the island.

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