Strombolian explosions at Fuego volcano, ash up to 4.6 km (15 000 feet) a.s.l., Guatemala


Strombolian-type explosions continued at Fuego volcano, Guatemala into Tuesday, February 4, 2020. The eruptions ranged around five to 10 per hour, producing a gray ash plume that reached roughly 4 500 to 4 700 m (up to 15 000 feet) above sea level and drifted west and southwest.

According to the country's National Institute for Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology, and Hydrology (INSIVUMEH), the volcano emitted incandescence material to a height of approximately 100 to 300 m (328 to 984 feet) above the crater.

In addition, lava flows on the Seca Canyon continue to be active.

Several areas downwind reported ashfall, including Santa Sofia which was 12 km (7.4 miles) southwest, Morelia 9 km (5.6 miles) southwest, Panimache I and II 8 km (4.9 miles) southwest, Finca Palo Verde and San Pedro Yepocapa 8 km (4.9 miles) northwest, Sangre de Cristo 8 km (4.9 miles) west-southwest, and El Provenir 8 km (4.9 miles) east-northeast.


Fuego on January 30, 2020. Image credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2


Fuego on January 30, 2020. Image credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2, Antonio Vecoli

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: Sentinel-2, Antonio Vecoli


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