The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: January 1 - 7, 2020

The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: January 1 - 7, 2020

New activity/unrest was reported for 3 volcanoes from January 1 to 7, 2020. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 11 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Kirishimayama, Kyushu (Japan) | Krakatau, Indonesia | White Island, North Island (New Zealand).

Ongoing activity: Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Karangetang, Siau Island (Indonesia) | Kerinci, Indonesia | Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Merapi, Central Java (Indonesia) | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Shishaldin, Fox Islands (USA) | Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan) | Ulawun, New Britain (Papua New Guinea).

New activity/unrest

Kirishimayama, Kyushu (Japan)

31.934°N, 130.862°E, Summit elev. 1700 m

The number of volcanic earthquakes with hypocenters just below Shinmoedake (Shinmoe peak, a stratovolcano of the Kirishimayama volcano group), increased around 1600 on 2 January prompting JMA to raise the Alert Level to 2 (on a scale of 1-5). There were a high number (22) of earthquakes recorded during 2200-2400.

Geological summary: Kirishimayama is a large group of more than 20 Quaternary volcanoes located north of Kagoshima Bay. The late-Pleistocene to Holocene dominantly andesitic group consists of stratovolcanoes, pyroclastic cones, maars, and underlying shield volcanoes located over an area of 20 x 30 km. The larger stratovolcanoes are scattered throughout the field, with the centrally located Karakunidake being the highest. Onamiike and Miike, the two largest maars, are located SW of Karakunidake and at its far eastern end, respectively. Holocene eruptions have been concentrated along an E-W line of vents from Miike to Ohachi, and at Shinmoedake to the NE. Frequent small-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the 8th century.

Krakatau, Indonesia

6.102°S, 105.423°E, Summit elev. 155 m

PVMBG reported that gray ash plumes from Anak Krakatau rose as high as 2.2 km above the summit on 31 December and then rose only as high as 500 m through 5 January. 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.

White Island, North Island (New Zealand)

37.52°S, 177.18°E, Summit elev. 294 m

On 6 January GeoNet reported that White Island remained in an elevated state of unrest. Very hot steam and gas emissions continued to rise from the 9 December vents, causing incandescence to be recorded on near infrared cameras. Volcanic tremor decreased to low levels on 14 December 2019 and remained low. Sulfur dioxide emission rates were at normal levels. Continuing movement of the back-crater wall W of the 1914 landslide deposits was detected and will continue to be monitored. Small amounts of ash sometimes rose from the active vent due to wall collapses, as on 23 and 26 December. The Volcanic Alert Level remained at 2 and the Aviation Color Code was lowered to Yellow.

Geological summary: The uninhabited White Island, also known as Whakaari in the Maori language, is the 2 x 2.4 km emergent summit of a 16 x 18 km submarine volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 50 km offshore of North Island. The island consists of two overlapping andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcanoes. The summit crater appears to be breached to the SE, because the shoreline corresponds to the level of several notches in the SE crater wall. Volckner Rocks, sea stacks that are remnants of a lava dome, lie 5 km NW. Descriptions of eruptions since 1826 have included intermittent moderate phreatic, phreatomagmatic, and Strombolian eruptions; activity there also forms a prominent part of Maori legends. Formation of many new vents during the 19th and 20th centuries has produced rapid changes in crater floor topography. Collapse of the crater wall in 1914 produced a debris avalanche that buried buildings and workers at a sulfur-mining project. Explosive activity in December 2019 took place while tourists were present, resulting in many fatalities.

Ongoing activity

Aira, Kyushu (Japan)

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

JMA reported nighttime crater incandescence at Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) during 30 December-6 January. Small eruptive events were occasionally recorded by the seismic network. An explosion on 6 January produced an ash plume that rose 1.7 km above the crater rim and ejected material as far as 1.1 km away from the crater. 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 1-4 and 6 January ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 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 1-2 January that sent ash plumes up to 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. Ash plumes drifted N. Satellite images showed a thermal anomaly over the dome on 1 January and an ash cloud drifted almost 30 km N on 2 January. 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.

Karangetang, Siau Island (Indonesia)

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

PVMBG reported that during 30 December-5 January 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 600 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.

Kerinci, Indonesia

1.697°S, 101.264°E, Summit elev. 3800 m

The Darwin VAAC and PVMBG reported that during 3-6 January brown ash plumes rose 200-600 m above Kerinci’s summit and drifted S and ESE. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to remain outside of the 3-km exclusion zone.

Geological summary: Gunung Kerinci in central Sumatra forms Indonesia's highest volcano and is one of the most active in Sumatra. It is capped by an unvegetated young summit cone that was constructed NE of an older crater remnant. There is a deep 600-m-wide summit crater often partially filled by a small crater lake that lies on the NE crater floor, opposite the SW-rim summit. The massive 13 x 25 km wide volcano towers 2400-3300 m above surrounding plains and is elongated in a N-S direction. Frequently active, Kerinci has been the source of numerous moderate explosive eruptions since its first recorded eruption in 1838.

Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

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

KVERT reported that a weak thermal anomaly over Klyuchevskoy was identified in satellite images during 28-30 December and 2 January, and ash plumes drifted 150 km SE during 29-30 December. Strombolian and Vulcanian activity were observed during 29-31 December. 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 a relatively high number of deep volcanic earthquakes were recorded at Merapi during 30 December-5 January. The seismic network recorded a pyroclastic flow that began at 2036 on 4 January and lasted for one minute and 45 seconds. The event was not visually observed due to foggy weather conditions. Minor ashfall was reported in Cepogo (4 km NE) and Boyolali (16 km E). 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.

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 27 December-3 January. 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

AVO reported that the eruption at Shishaldin continued during 1-7 January. Seismicity was low during 1-2 January and elevated surface temperatures identified in several satellite images indicated continuing lava effusion. Seismicity began increasing at 0930 on 3 January and within several hours a brief period of sustained ash emissions produced plumes that rose as high as 8.2 km (27,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted about 120 km SE. The ash plume produced minor amounts of volcanic lightning. Seismicity declined abruptly after the event. Satellite images acquired the next day showed no noteworthy activity; ash deposits from the day before mantled the upper flanks, lahars on the upper parts of the edifice and on the SW flank were visible, and lava flows on the upper NW and NE flanks were 1-2 km long. During 5-6 January seismicity was low but above background levels and elevated surface temperatures were visible in satellite images. A photo taken from Cold Bay (93 km NE) on 6 January showed glowing lava flows on the flank.

Seismicity increased at around 0500 on 7 January and was followed by observations of an ash plume drifting NE at an altitude of about 5.8 km (19,000 ft) a.s.l. Seismicity then decreased for a few hours. Another episode of elevated seismicity was accompanied by an increase in the altitude of the ash plume; it rose to 7.6 km (25,000 ft) a.s.l. and seemed to have a denser ash content. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Red and the Volcano Alert Level was raised to Warning. Volcanic lighting was detected in the cloud and volcanic infrasound signals were detected at regional stations. Seismcity significantly decreased around 1200 and remained low. Later that day the Aviation Color Code was lowered to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level was lowered to 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.

Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan)

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

JMA reported that on 28 December a very small eruptive event was recorded at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater. Explosions occurred on 31 December and 3 January; the latter explosion produced a gray ash plume that rose 800 m above the crater rim and entered the weather clouds. Crater incandescence was visible at night during 28 Deecmber-3 January. 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.

Ulawun, New Britain (Papua New Guinea)

5.05°S, 151.33°E, Summit elev. 2334 m

RVO reported that during 16-22 December 2019 white vapor plumes rose from Ulawun’s Main Crater with some brief periods of no emissions. Occasional emissions rose from the new WSW flank and along the lava flow. A webcam sometimes recoded nighttime incandescence from the area. Seismic activity was low with RSAM values between 100 and 200 units. The Alert Level remained at Stage 1.

Geological summary: The symmetrical basaltic-to-andesitic Ulawun stratovolcano is the highest volcano of the Bismarck arc, and one of Papua New Guinea's most frequently active. The volcano, also known as the Father, rises above the N coast of the island of New Britain across a low saddle NE of Bamus volcano, the South Son. The upper 1,000 m is unvegetated. A prominent E-W escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and E flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side, and a flank lava-flow complex lies to the south of this valley. Historical eruptions date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions were mildly explosive until 1967, but after 1970 several larger eruptions produced lava flows and basaltic pyroclastic flows, greatly modifying the summit crater.

Source: GVP

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