The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: February 5 - 11, 2020

The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: February 5 - 11, 2020

New activity/unrest was reported for 5 volcanoes from February 5 to 11, 2020. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 10 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Kuchinoerabujima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan) | Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island (France) | Reykjanes, Iceland | Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia) | Taal, Luzon (Philippines).

Ongoing activity: Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Ibu, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Kadovar, Papua New Guinea | Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Krakatau, Indonesia | Popocatepetl, Mexico | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Shishaldin, Fox Islands (USA).

New activity/unrest

Kuchinoerabujima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan)

30.443°N, 130.217°E, Summit elev. 657 m

JMA reported that after the 3 February eruption at Kuchinoerabujima’s Shindake Crater the number of volcanic earthquakes decreased, and very small eruptive events occurred intermittently though 5 February and on 9 February. A large amount of ashfall (including lapilli up to 2 cm in diameter) was confirmed on the SE flank during field observations on 3 and 6 February. Thermal image observations revealed 5-km-long pyroclastic flow deposits on the SW flank. The number of volcanic earthquakes began increasing on 9 February and continued to be elevated the next day. A large-amplitude volcanic tremor event was accompanied by fluctuating tilt at 1318 on 11 February. The Alert Level remained at 3 (the middle level on a scale of 1-5).

Geological summary: A group of young stratovolcanoes forms the eastern end of the irregularly shaped island of Kuchinoerabujima in the northern Ryukyu Islands, 15 km W of Yakushima. The Furudake, Shindake, and Noikeyama cones were erupted from south to north, respectively, forming a composite cone with multiple craters. The youngest cone, centrally-located Shindake, formed after the NW side of Furudake was breached by an explosion. All historical eruptions have occurred from Shindake, although a lava flow from the S flank of Furudake that reached the coast has a very fresh morphology. Frequent explosive eruptions have taken place from Shindake since 1840; the largest of these was in December 1933. Several villages on the 4 x 12 km island are located within a few kilometers of the active crater and have suffered damage from eruptions.

Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island (France)

21.244°S, 55.708°E, Summit elev. 2632 m

OVPF reported that a seismic crisis at Piton de la Fournaise began at 1027 on 10 February, accompanied by rapid deformation. Volcanic tremor began just 23 minutes later, at 1050, heralding the start of a new eruption. During an overflight conducted during 1300-1330 in partly cloudy weather, observers noted that several fissures had opened on the E flank of Dolomieu Crater, between the crater rim and 2,000 m elevation. The fissures all were at least 1 km long and produced lava fountains that were no higher than 10 m. Lava flows had traveled E to 1,700 m elevation by 1315. In the evening mapping of the lava flows based on satellite data revealed a larger flow field that what was visually observed during the overflight hours before. Lava flows spanned from the E to the S, with the farthest flow traveling E to 1,400 m elevation. The data showed that the fissures at the highest elevation had opened in the same area as those from the 18 February and 11 June 2019 eruptions.

Geological summary: The massive Piton de la Fournaise basaltic shield volcano on the French island of Réunion in the western Indian Ocean is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Much of its more than 530,000-year history overlapped with eruptions of the deeply dissected Piton des Neiges shield volcano to the NW. Three calderas formed at about 250,000, 65,000, and less than 5000 years ago by progressive eastward slumping of the volcano. Numerous pyroclastic cones dot the floor of the calderas and their outer flanks. Most historical eruptions have originated from the summit and flanks of Dolomieu, a 400-m-high lava shield that has grown within the youngest caldera, which is 8 km wide and breached to below sea level on the eastern side. More than 150 eruptions, most of which have produced fluid basaltic lava flows, have occurred since the 17th century. Only six eruptions, in 1708, 1774, 1776, 1800, 1977, and 1986, have originated from fissures on the outer flanks of the caldera. The Piton de la Fournaise Volcano Observatory, one of several operated by the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, monitors this very active volcano.

Reykjanes, Iceland

63.85°N, 22.566°W, Summit elev. 140 m

On 7 February IMO reported that data collected during the previous week indicated that a magma body was located 3-5 km beneath Reykjanes. Earthquake activity had decreased during the previous two days, though inflation was ongoing, reaching 5 cm. The Aviation Code remained at Yellow.

Geological summary: The Reykjanes volcanic system at the SW tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula, where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge rises above sea level, comprises a broad area of postglacial basaltic crater rows and small shield volcanoes. The submarine Reykjaneshryggur volcanic system is contiguous with and is considered part of the Reykjanes volcanic system, which is the westernmost of a series of four closely-spaced en-echelon fissure systems that extend diagonally across the Reykjanes Peninsula. Most of the subaerial part of the system (also known as the Reykjanes/Svartsengi volcanic system) is covered by Holocene lavas. Subaerial eruptions have occurred in historical time during the 13th century at several locations on the NE-SW-trending fissure system, and numerous submarine eruptions dating back to the 12th century have been observed during historical time, some of which have formed ephemeral islands. Basaltic rocks of probable Holocene age have been recovered during dredging operations, and tephra deposits from earlier Holocene eruptions are preserved on the nearby Reykjanes Peninsula.

Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia)

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

The Darwin VAAC reported that on 5 February an ash plume from Semeru rose to an altitude of 4.3 km (14,000 ft) a.s.l. , or 400 m above the crater rim, and drifted SE based on satellite images and weather models. PVMBG noted that on 7 February a gray ash plume rose 400 m and drifted S. 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.

Taal, Luzon (Philippines)

14.002°N, 120.993°E, Summit elev. 311 m

PHIVOLCS reported that whitish steam plumes rose as high as 300 m above Taal’s main vent during 5-11 February and drifted SW. Sulfur dioxide emissions ranged from values below detectable limits to a high of 116 tonnes per day (on 8 February). Weak steaming (plumes 10-20 m high) from ground cracks was visible along the Daang Kastila trail which connects the N part of Volcano Island to the N part of the main crater. According to the Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) there were a total of 17,088 people in 110 evacuation centers, and an additional 211,729 people were staying at other locations as of 10 February. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 0-5) and PHIVOLCS recommended no entry onto Volcano Island and Taal Lake, nor into towns W of the island within a 7-km radius.

Geological summary: Taal is one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines and has produced some of its most powerful historical eruptions. Though not topographically prominent, its prehistorical eruptions have greatly changed the landscape of SW Luzon. The 15 x 20 km Talisay (Taal) caldera is largely filled by Lake Taal, whose 267 km2 surface lies only 3 m above sea level. The maximum depth of the lake is 160 m, and several eruptive centers lie submerged beneath the lake. The 5-km-wide Volcano Island in north-central Lake Taal is the location of all historical eruptions. The island is composed of coalescing small stratovolcanoes, tuff rings, and scoria cones that have grown about 25% in area during historical time. Powerful pyroclastic flows and surges from historical eruptions have caused many fatalities.

Ongoing activity

Aira, Kyushu (Japan)

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

JMA reported that during 3-7 February there were 16 explosions and 21 non-explosive eruptive events detected by the Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) seismic network. Ash plumes rose as high as 2.2 km above the crater rim and material was ejected 1,000-1,300 m away from the crater. Crater incandescence was visible at night. An explosion at 0126 on 10 February produced an ash plume that rose 1.4 km and ejected material as far as 1.8 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, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 5-11 February ash plumes from Dukono rose to 2.1-2.4 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 1-7 February that sent ash plumes up to 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l.; ash plumes drifted E and S. 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.

Ibu, Halmahera (Indonesia)

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

The Darwin VAAC reported that during 5-6 February multiple discrete ash plumes from Ibu, identified in satellite images, rose to 1.8-2.1 km (6,000-7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE and E. An ongoing thermal anomaly was also visible. 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.

Kadovar, Papua New Guinea

3.608°S, 144.588°E, Summit elev. 365 m

RVO reported that the eruption at Kadovar continued during 1 January-7 February with frequent (hours to days) Vulcanian explosions from Main Vent at the summit. The explosions ejected rocks and ash plumes that rose 300-400 m above the vent and drifted NE and E. Residents on Blup Blup (15 km N) reported rumbling and nighttime summit incandescence. Volcanic plumes were sometimes observable in Wewak (105 km W). The Darwin VAAC stated that on 6 February an ash plume rose to 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE.

Geological summary: The 2-km-wide island of Kadovar is the emergent summit of a Bismarck Sea stratovolcano of Holocene age. It is part of the Schouten Islands, and lies off the coast of New Guinea, about 25 km N of the mouth of the Sepik River. Prior to an eruption that began in 2018, a lava dome formed the high point of the andesitic volcano, filling an arcuate landslide scarp open to the south; submarine debris-avalanche deposits occur in that direction. Thick lava flows with columnar jointing forms low cliffs along the coast. The youthful island lacks fringing or offshore reefs. A period of heightened thermal phenomena took place in 1976. An eruption began in January 2018 that included lava effusion from vents at the summit and at the E coast.

Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

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

KVERT reported that Strombolian activity at Klyuchevskoy was visible during 31 January-7 February, and a thermal anomaly was identified those same days in satellite images. Vulcanian activity was recorded on 31 January and 4 February; explosions generated ash plumes that rose to 5.5 km (18,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 145 km E. 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.

Krakatau, Indonesia

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

PVMBG reported that during 6-10 February a series of eruptive events at Anak Krakatau generated ash plumes that rose as high as 1 km above the summit. 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.

Popocatepetl, Mexico

19.023°N, 98.622°W, Summit elev. 5393 m

CENAPRED reported that each day during 5-11 February there were 57-154 steam-and-gas emissions from Popocatépetl, some of which contained minor amounts of ash. An explosion at 1754 on 5 February produced an ash plume that rose 1.5 km above the crater rim and drifted NNE. A minor explosion at 0029 on 9 February ejected incandescent material onto the flanks. An explosion at 0233 on 10 February produced an ash plume that rose 1 km and drifted NE, and ejected incandescent material as far as 500 m down the flanks. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two (middle level on a three-color scale).

Geological summary: Volcán Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, rises 70 km SE of Mexico City to form North America's 2nd-highest volcano. The glacier-clad stratovolcano contains a steep-walled, 400 x 600 m wide crater. The generally symmetrical volcano is modified by the sharp-peaked Ventorrillo on the NW, a remnant of an earlier volcano. At least three previous major cones were destroyed by gravitational failure during the Pleistocene, producing massive debris-avalanche deposits covering broad areas to the south. The modern volcano was constructed south of the late-Pleistocene to Holocene El Fraile cone. Three major Plinian eruptions, the most recent of which took place about 800 CE, have occurred since the mid-Holocene, accompanied by pyroclastic flows and voluminous lahars that swept basins below the volcano. Frequent historical eruptions, first recorded in Aztec codices, have occurred since Pre-Columbian 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 1-7 February. 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 6 February AVO reported that seismicity at Shishaldin decreased during the previous week (though remained slightly above background levels), along with the surface temperatures at the summit identified in satellite data. AVO lowered the Aviation Color Code to Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level to Advisory since the eruption appeared to have paused or ceased.

Geological summary: The beautifully symmetrical Shishaldin is the highest and one of the most active volcanoes of the Aleutian Islands. The 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 steam plume often rises from its small summit crater. Constructed atop an older glacially dissected volcano, it is largely basaltic in composition. Remnants of an older ancestral volcano are exposed on the W 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.

Source: GVP

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