The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: March 4 - 10, 2020

The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: March 4 - 10, 2020

New activity/unrest was reported for 3 volcanoes from March 4 to 10, 2020. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 12 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: San Miguel, El Salvador | Sangay, Ecuador | Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia).

Ongoing activity: Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Etna, Sicily (Italy) | Ibu, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Kerinci, Indonesia | Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Stromboli, Aeolian Islands (Italy) | Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan) | Taal, Luzon (Philippines) | White Island, North Island (New Zealand).

New activity / unrest

San Miguel, El Salvador

13.434°N, 88.269°W, Elevation 2130 m

SNET stated that during 28 February-6 March there were no reports of noises or gas emissions at San Miguel from the network of local observers. Seismicity was stable; 50-60 low-magnitude earthquakes were recorded per hour with RSAM values between 40 and 98 units, lower than the normal values of 150. The sulfur dioxide emission flux was 517-808 tons per day.

Geological summary: The symmetrical cone of San Miguel volcano, one of the most active in El Salvador, rises from near sea level to form one of the country's most prominent landmarks. The unvegetated summit rises above slopes draped with coffee plantations. A broad, deep crater complex that has been frequently modified by historical eruptions (recorded since the early 16th century) caps the truncated summit, also known locally as Chaparrastique. Radial fissures on the flanks of the basaltic-andesitic volcano have fed a series of historical lava flows, including several erupted during the 17th-19th centuries that reached beyond the base of the volcano on the N, NE, and SE sides. The SE-flank flows are the largest and form broad, sparsely vegetated lava fields crossed by highways and a railroad skirting the base of the volcano. The location of flank vents has migrated higher on the edifice during historical time, and the most recent activity has consisted of minor ash eruptions from the summit crater.

Sangay, Ecuador

2.005°S, 78.341°W, Elevation 5286 m

IG reported a high level of activity at Sangay during 3-10 March. Ash plumes rose 870-1,130 m above the summit and drifted NW and W based on Washington VAAC notices. Incandescent blocks rolled down the SW flank during 3-4 March. A seismic station recorded a lahar on 8 March.

Geological summary: The isolated Sangay volcano, located east of the Andean crest, is the southernmost of Ecuador's volcanoes and its most active. The steep-sided, glacier-covered, dominantly andesitic volcano grew within horseshoe-shaped calderas of two previous edifices, which were destroyed by collapse to the east, producing large debris avalanches that reached the Amazonian lowlands. The modern edifice dates back to at least 14,000 years ago. It towers above the tropical jungle on the east side; on the other sides flat plains of ash have been sculpted by heavy rains into steep-walled canyons up to 600 m deep. The earliest report of a historical eruption was in 1628. More or less continuous eruptions were reported from 1728 until 1916, and again from 1934 to the present. The almost constant activity has caused frequent changes to the morphology of the summit crater complex. This volcano is located within the Sangay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage property.

Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia)

8.108°S, 112.922°E, Elevation 3657 m

BNPB and PVMBG reported that on 3 March a pyroclastic flow was generated from collapsing material at the end of a 750-m-long lava flow on Semeru’s S flank. The pyroclastic flow lasted nine minutes based on seismic data, traveled as far as 2.3 km down the S flank, and was documented and reported at 1733 by the Malang Subagyo district Badan Penanggulangan Bencana Daerah (BPBD). During 3-8 March black-gray eruptive plumes rose 200 m above the summit, interspersed with 100-m-high white gas plumes. Incandescent material was ejected 10-50 m above the summit; lava flows 500-1,000 m long continued to be active in the Kembar, Bang, and Kobokan drainages (on the S flank). The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was reminded to stay outside of the general 1-km radius from the summit and 4 km on the SSE flank.

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. This volcano is located within the Bromo Tengger Semeru-Arjuno, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve property.

Ongoing activity

Aira, Kyushu (Japan)

31.593°N, 130.657°E, Elevation 1117 m

JMA reported that during 2-9 March incandescence from Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) was visible nightly. Occasional eruptive events were recorded. An eruption at 0457 on 7 March generated an ash plume that rose 1.3 km above the crater rim. The Alert Level remained at 2 (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, Elevation 1229 m

Based on satellite and wind model data, and information from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 5-10 March ash plumes from Dukono rose to 1.8-2.1 km (6,000-7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE, E, and SE. 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, Elevation 1103 m

Volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island), about 7 km E of Ebeko, observed explosions during 1-2 and 5 March that sent ash plumes up to 2 km (6,600 ft) a.s.l. Ash plumes drifted S and E. 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, Elevation 3295 m

INGV reported continuing eruptive activity at Etna’s Voragine Crater (VOR), New Southeast Crater (NSEC), and Northeast Crater (NEC) during 24 February-1 March. Strombolian explosions from the vent at the top of the cone in VOR crater ejected pieces of lava sometimes 150-200 m above the vent. Ash plumes rose from the vent and rapidly dissipated. Strombolian activity from a vent at the base of the N flank of the cone was observed on 29 February. Lava continued to effuse from the vent on top of a building lava mound on the S flank of the cone and flow into the adjacent Bocca Nuova Crater. Activity at NEC was characterized by discontinuous Strombolian activity and periodic emissions of very diffuse ash plumes. During 24-25 February observers noted continuous diffuse ash emissions at NSEC, originating from a cone in the saddle area.

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, Elevation 1325 m

The Darwin VAAC reported that on 10 March multiple discrete ash plumes from Ibu rose to 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE based on satellite images, weather models, and information from PVMBG. 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.

Kerinci, Indonesia

1.697°S, 101.264°E, Elevation 3800 m

PVMBG reported that at 0710 on 4 March, 1625 on 5 March, and 0655 on 6 March brown ash emissions rose 200-500 m above Kerinci’s summit and drifted NW and NE. 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, Elevation 4754 m

KVERT reported that Strombolian activity at Klyuchevskoy was visible during 28 February-6 March, and a bright thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images those same days. A gas-and-steam plume containing some ash drifted 60 km WNW on 2 March. 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.

Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

56.653°N, 161.36°E, Elevation 3283 m

KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch was identified in satellite images during 28 February-6 March. 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.

Stromboli, Aeolian Islands (Italy)

38.789°N, 15.213°E, Elevation 924 m

INGV reported that during 24 February-3 March activity at Stromboli was characterized by ongoing explosive activity mainly from three vents in Area N (north crater area) and at least three vents in Area C-S (south-central crater area). Variable-intensity explosions from Area N occurred at a rate of 7-10 events per hour and ejected lapilli and bombs 80-150 m above the vents. Ejected tephra fell onto the flanks and some blocks rolled down the Sciara del Fuoco to the coast. Explosions from Area C-S occurred at a rate of 2-9 events per hour and ejected coarse material mixed with ash to heights less than 150 m above the vents.

Geological summary: Spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions at this volcano have long attracted visitors to the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean." Stromboli, the NE-most of the Aeolian Islands, has lent its name to the frequent mild explosive activity that has characterized its eruptions throughout much of historical time. The small island is the emergent summit of a volcano that grew in two main eruptive cycles, the last of which formed the western portion of the island. The Neostromboli eruptive period took place between about 13,000 and 5,000 years ago. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a prominent horseshoe-shaped scarp formed about 5,000 years ago due to a series of slope failures that extend to below sea level. The modern volcano has been constructed within this scarp, which funnels pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows to the NW. Essentially continuous mild Strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded for more than a millennium.

Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan)

29.638°N, 129.714°E, Elevation 796 m

JMA reported that during 28 February-6 March incandescence from Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater was visible nightly. Occasional eruptive events and two explosions were recorded; ash plumes rose as high as 900 m above the crater rim. Occasional eruption sounds were reported in a village 4 km SSW on 3 March. 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.

Taal, Luzon (Philippines)

14.002°N, 120.993°E, Elevation 311 m

PHIVOLCS reported that during 4-10 March weak steam plumes rose 50-100 m above Taal’s Volcano Island lake and drifted SW and NE; moderate steam plumes rose 300-500 m and drifted SW during 8-9 March. According to the Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) there were a total of 4,212 people in 11 evacuation centers, and an additional 32,631 people were staying at other locations as of 6 March. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 0-5) and PHIVOLCS recommended no entry onto Volcano Island, the area defined as the Permanent Danger Zone.

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.

White Island, North Island (New Zealand)

7.52°S, 177.18°E, Elevation 294 m

On 10 March GeoNet reported that data collected during recent flights over White Island showed elevated gas emissions compared to previous measurements, though overall both carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide flux have decreased since the 9 December 2019 eruption. Thermal infrared data indicated that the fumarolic gases and the five lobes of lava in the main vent remained very hot; the hottest temperature was 746 degrees Celsius and was the highest temperature measured to date. Small-scale jetting occurred from the small pond that had formed in the vent area, similar to September-December 2019 activity. The Volcanic Alert Level remained at 2 and the Aviation Color Code remained at 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.

Source: GVP

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