The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: May 6 - 12, 2020

The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: May 6 - 12, 2020

Ongoing activity was reported for 15 volcanoes from May 6 to 12, 2020.

Ongoing activity: Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Asosan, Kyushu (Japan) | Cleveland, Chuginadak Island (USA) | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Etna, Sicily (Italy) | Ibu, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Popocatepetl, Mexico | Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica | Sangay, Ecuador | Sangeang Api, Indonesia | Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia) | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan).

Ongoing activity

Aira, Kyushu (Japan)

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

JMA reported that during 4-11 May incandescence from Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) was visible nightly. There were four eruptive events with plumes rising as high as 2.3 km above the crater rim. Three explosions were recorded; an explosion at 0531 on 9 May produced an ash plume that rose 4.2 km and ejected material 600-900 m away from the crater. JMA noted that ash plumes had not risen higher than 4 km since 8 November 2019. 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.

Asosan, Kyushu (Japan)

32.884°N, 131.104°E, Summit elev. 1592 m

JMA reported that eruptive activity at Asosan was recorded during 4-11 May. Volcanic plumes rose 700-900 m above the crater rim and caused ashfall in areas downwind. The sulfur dioxide emission rate was high at 3,000-4,800 tons per day during 7-8 May. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-5).

Geological summary: The 24-km-wide Asosan caldera was formed during four major explosive eruptions from 300,000 to 90,000 years ago. These produced voluminous pyroclastic flows that covered much of Kyushu. The last of these, the Aso-4 eruption, produced more than 600 km3 of airfall tephra and pyroclastic-flow deposits. A group of 17 central cones was constructed in the middle of the caldera, one of which, Nakadake, is one of Japan's most active volcanoes. It was the location of Japan's first documented historical eruption in 553 CE. The Nakadake complex has remained active throughout the Holocene. Several other cones have been active during the Holocene, including the Kometsuka scoria cone as recently as about 210 CE. Historical eruptions have largely consisted of basaltic to basaltic-andesite ash emission with periodic strombolian and phreatomagmatic activity. The summit crater of Nakadake is accessible by toll road and cable car, and is one of Kyushu's most popular tourist destinations.

Cleveland, Chuginadak Island (USA)

52.825°N, 169.944°W, Summit elev. 1730 m

AVO lowered both the Volcano Alert Level and the Aviation Color Code for Cleveland to Unassigned on 7 May, noting that explosive activity on 9 January 2019 (and subsequent lava extrusion in the summit crater) was followed by an overall decrease in detected surface temperature and no further surface changes.

Geological summary: The beautifully symmetrical Mount Cleveland stratovolcano is situated at the western end of the uninhabited Chuginadak Island. It lies SE across Carlisle Pass strait from Carlisle volcano and NE across Chuginadak Pass strait from Herbert volcano. Joined to the rest of Chuginadak Island by a low isthmus, Cleveland is the highest of the Islands of the Four Mountains group and is one of the most active of the Aleutian Islands. The native name, Chuginadak, refers to the Aleut goddess of fire, who was thought to reside on the volcano. Numerous large lava flows descend the steep-sided flanks. It is possible that some 18th-to-19th century eruptions attributed to Carlisle should be ascribed to Cleveland (Miller et al., 1998). In 1944 Cleveland produced the only known fatality from an Aleutian eruption. Recent eruptions have been characterized by short-lived explosive ash emissions, at times accompanied by lava fountaining and lava flows down the flanks.

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 6-12 May ash plumes from Dukono rose to 2.1 km (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, Summit elev. 1103 m

Volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island), about 7 km E of Ebeko, observed explosions during 1-8 May that sent ash plumes up to 2.6 km (8,500 ft) a.s.l. Ash plumes drifted E, causing ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk during 3-5 May. A thermal anomaly was identified in satellite data on 3 May. 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, Summit elev. 3320 m

INGV reported that on 5 May increasing and pulsating ash emissions at Etna’s New Southeast Crater (NSEC) formed a plume that drifted SSE. The activity may have concurrently occurred with the enlargement of vent number 3. Explosive activity at Voragine Crater (VOR), with minor ash emissions and occasional visible shreds of incandescent material, was relatively mild and discontinuous. During a field inspection on 8 May, volcanologists observed that the main cone was almost unchanged and produced modest ash emissions. Strong explosive activity at a cone located E of the main cone produced a lot of ash, and ejected coarse material that fell on the W edge of VOR as well as on the S terrace of Bocca Nuova Crater. Activity at NSEC again increased; on 10 May Strombolian explosions ejected material out of the crater and onto the flanks. Concurrently, increased activity in VOR was characterized by the ejection of ballistics beyond its crater rim. After a few hours Strombolian activity in NSEC significantly decreased and explosive activity in VOR was both less intense and less frequent.

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, Summit elev. 1325 m

The Darwin VAAC reported that on 9 May an ash plume from Ibu rose to 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE based on satellite images and weather models. On 12 May an ash plume rose to 2.1 km a.s.l. and drifted N. 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.

Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

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

KVERT reported that Strombolian activity at Klyuchevskoy was visible during 1-8 May along with a bright thermal anomaly identified in satellite images. A lava flow continued to advance down the Apakhonchich drainage on the SE flank. An ash plume drifted 22 km SE on 2 May. 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.

Popocatepetl, Mexico

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

CENAPRED reported that each day during 5-12 May there were 94-157 steam-and-gas emissions from Popocatépetl, some of which contained minor amounts of ash. Minor explosions were recorded at 1534 and 1609 on 7 May, at 1648 on 10 May, at 1723 and 2351 on 11 May, and at 0302 and 0604 on 12 May. Crater incandescence was visible some nights. 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.

Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica

10.83°N, 85.324°W, Summit elev. 1916 m

OVSICORI-UNA reported periodic phreatic explosions at Rincón de la Vieja during 6-12 May. Phreatic explosions were recorded at 1624 on 6 May and 0343 on 8 May, though inclement weather conditions hindered visual confirmation. Two small emissions were noted at 1850 on 8 May and at 0020 on 9 May. An event at 1925 on 9 May generated a gas-and-steam plume that rose almost 2 km above the crater rim.

Geological summary: Rincón de la Vieja, the largest volcano in NW Costa Rica, is a remote volcanic complex in the Guanacaste Range. The volcano consists of an elongated, arcuate NW-SE-trending ridge that was constructed within the 15-km-wide early Pleistocene Guachipelín caldera, whose rim is exposed on the south side. Sometimes known as the "Colossus of Guanacaste," it has an estimated volume of 130 km3 and contains at least nine major eruptive centers. Activity has migrated to the SE, where the youngest-looking craters are located. The twin cone of 1916-m-high Santa María volcano, the highest peak of the complex, is located at the eastern end of a smaller, 5-km-wide caldera and has a 500-m-wide crater. A plinian eruption producing the 0.25 km3 Río Blanca tephra about 3500 years ago was the last major magmatic eruption. All subsequent eruptions, including numerous historical eruptions possibly dating back to the 16th century, have been from the prominent active crater containing a 500-m-wide acid lake located ENE of Von Seebach crater.

Sangay, Ecuador

2.005°S, 78.341°W, Summit elev. 5286 m

IG reported a high level of activity at Sangay during 6-12 May. Weather clouds often prevented visual observations of the volcano; according to Washington VAAC notices ash plumes rose 870-1,470 m above the summit and drifted W and SW during 6 and 10-12 May. Incandescent blocks were seen descending the SE flank during breaks in cloud cover on 6, 8, and 11 May. Signals indicating lahars were recorded by the seismic network on 7 and 9 May.

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.

Sangeang Api, Indonesia

8.2°S, 119.07°E, Summit elev. 1912 m

The Darwin VAAC reported that on 10 May a discrete ash emission from Sangeang Api rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E. 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.

Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia)

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

PVMBG reported that the eruption at Semeru continued during 4-10 May. Eruptive events produced dense white-gray ash plumes that rose 200-500 m above the summit. Incandescent material from the ends of lava flows descended 500-1,000 m in the Kembar and Kobokan drainages (on the S flank), reaching a maximum distance of 2 km from the crater. 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.

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 1-8 May. 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 during 1-8 May explosions occurred twice a day at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater and produced plumes that rose as high as 1 km above the crater rim. Material was ejected 400 m from the crater. Crater incandescence was visible nightly. Rumbling sounds were noted in a village 4 km SSW. 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.

Source: GVP

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