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

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

New activity/unrest was reported for 5 volcanoes from November 4 to 10, 2020. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 13 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Barren Island, Andaman Islands (India) | Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Merapi, Central Java (Indonesia).

Ongoing activity: Saunders, South Sandwich Islands (UK) | Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Ibu, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Irazu, Costa Rica | Laguna del Maule, Central Chile-Argentina border | Popocatepetl, Mexico | Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica | Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia) | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Sinabung, Indonesia | Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan) | Villarrica, Chile.

New activity/unrest

Barren Island, Andaman Islands (India) 

The Darwin VAAC reported that an eruption at Barren Island on 5 November produced ash plumes that rose 1.5 km (5,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW and WSW.

Geological summary: Barren Island, a possession of India in the Andaman Sea about 135 km NE of Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, is the only historically active volcano along the N-S volcanic arc extending between Sumatra and Burma (Myanmar). It is the emergent summit of a volcano that rises from a depth of about 2250 m. The small, uninhabited 3-km-wide island contains a roughly 2-km-wide caldera with walls 250-350 m high. The caldera, which is open to the sea on the west, was created during a major explosive eruption in the late Pleistocene that produced pyroclastic-flow and -surge deposits. Historical eruptions have changed the morphology of the pyroclastic cone in the center of the caldera, and lava flows that fill much of the caldera floor have reached the sea along the western coast.

Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)

KVERT reported that during 30 October and 1-2 November explosions at Karymsky produced ash plumes that rose to 6.5 km (21,300 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 60 km SW and NE. A thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images on those same days and additionally on 4 November. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second-highest level on a four-color scale).

Geological summary: Karymsky, the most active volcano of Kamchatka's eastern volcanic zone, is a symmetrical stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera that formed during the early Holocene. The caldera cuts the south side of the Pleistocene Dvor volcano and is located outside the north margin of the large mid-Pleistocene Polovinka caldera, which contains the smaller Akademia Nauk and Odnoboky calderas. Most seismicity preceding Karymsky eruptions originated beneath Akademia Nauk caldera, located immediately south. The caldera enclosing Karymsky formed about 7600-7700 radiocarbon years ago; construction of the stratovolcano began about 2000 years later. The latest eruptive period began about 500 years ago, following a 2300-year quiescence. Much of the cone is mantled by lava flows less than 200 years old. Historical eruptions have been vulcanian or vulcanian-strombolian with moderate explosive activity and occasional lava flows from the summit crater.

Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

KVERT reported that Strombolian activity at Klyuchevskoy continued during 30 October-6 November and lava advanced down the Apakhonchich drainage on the SE flank. Gas-and-steam emissions contained some ash. A large bright thermal anomaly was identified daily in satellite images. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Orange (the second-highest level on a four-color scale) on 8 October.

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. This volcano is located within the Volcanoes of Kamchatka, a UNESCO World Heritage property.

Merapi, Central Java (Indonesia)

PVMBG and BPPTKG raised the Alert Level for Merapi to 3 (on a scale of 1-4) on 5 November because of increasing evidence of a potential eruption. The report noted that the number of earthquakes began increasing after the 21 June explosive eruption; seismicity intensified in October and continued an upward trend. Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) data indicated a distance shortening of 4 cm between points in the NW just after the 21 June event, and then continued showing deformation at a rate of 3 mm per day through September. The rate increased to 9 cm per day in late October and reached 11 cm per day on 4 November. The seismicity and deformation rates were higher than the rates leading up to the extrusion of lava domes on 26 April 2006, but remained lower than the 2010 eruption precursory conditions. No morphological changes were visible; the lava-dome volume was an estimated 200,000 cubic meters on 3 November based on analyses of drone images. BPPTKG alerted 12 villages in hazardous areas spread across Yogyakarta and Central Java Province, and recommended that mining in local drainages and tourism around Merapi should cease. BNPB reported that after the Alert Level was raised 607 vulnerable people (children for example) were evacuated from Krinjing, Paten, and Ngargomulyo villages in Dukun District, Magelang Regency, and emergency supplies were sent to multiple susceptible communities.

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 2,000 years ago, leaving a large arcuate scarp cutting the eroded older Batulawang volcano. Subsequent growth of the steep-sided Young Merapi edifice, its upper part unvegetated due to frequent 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.

Saunders, South Sandwich Islands

Gas emissions from Michael volcano on Saunders Island were possibly visible in satellite images drifting NE on 24 October. A clear view of the crater on 6 November revealed a thermal anomaly on the crater floor. Weather clouds often obscure views of Michael.

Geological summary: Saunders Island is a volcanic structure consisting of a large central edifice intersected by two seamount chains, as shown by bathymetric mapping (Leat et al., 2013). The young constructional Mount Michael stratovolcano dominates the glacier-covered island, while two submarine plateaus, Harpers Bank and Saunders Bank, extend north. The symmetrical Michael has a 500-m-wide summit crater and a remnant of a somma rim to the SE. Tephra layers visible in ice cliffs surrounding the island are evidence of recent eruptions. Ash clouds were reported from the summit crater in 1819, and an effusive eruption was inferred to have occurred from a N-flank fissure around the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. A low ice-free lava platform, Blackstone Plain, is located on the north coast, surrounding a group of former sea stacks. A cluster of parasitic cones on the SE flank, the Ashen Hills, appear to have been modified since 1820 (LeMasurier and Thomson, 1990). Analysis of satellite imagery available since 1989 (Gray et al., 2019; MODVOLC) suggests frequent eruptive activity (when weather conditions allow), volcanic clouds, steam plumes, and thermal anomalies indicative of a persistent, or at least frequently active, lava lake in the summit crater. Due to this observational bias, there has been a presumption when defining eruptive periods that activity has been ongoing unless there is no evidence for at least 10 months.

Ongoing activity

Aira, Kyushu (Japan)

JMA reported that during 2-9 November incandescence from Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) was visible nightly. Two explosions during 1-2 November produced ash plumes that rose as high as 1.8 km above the crater rim. An explosion was recorded at 1504 on 7 November but the weather conditions prevented visual confirmation. The daily sulfur dioxide emission rate was high at 2,200 tons per day on 9 November. 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. The 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)

Based on satellite and wind model data, and information from PVMBG the Darwin VAAC reported that during 4-5, 7, and 9-10 November ash plumes from Dukono rose to 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)

Volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island), about 7 km E of Ebeko, observed explosions during 30 October-6 November that sent ash plumes up to 4 km (13,100 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions. A thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images on 4 November. 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)

The Darwin VAAC reported that during 4-5 November intermittent, discrete ash plumes from Ibu rose to 1.8 km (6,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted S and SSW. 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.

Irazu, Costa Rica

OVSICORI-UNA reported that Irazú’s seismic network recorded a significant landslide in the W part of the volcano on 4 November along with a lahar. A small thermal anomaly was detected in MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) satellite data.

Geological summary: Irazú, one of Costa Rica's most active volcanoes, rises immediately E of the capital city of San José. The massive volcano covers an area of 500 km2 and is vegetated to within a few hundred meters of its broad flat-topped summit crater complex. At least 10 satellitic cones are located on its S flank. No lava flows have been identified since the eruption of the massive Cervantes lava flows from S-flank vents about 14,000 years ago, and all known Holocene eruptions have been explosive. The focus of eruptions at the summit crater complex has migrated to the W towards the historically active crater, which contains a small lake of variable size and color. Although eruptions may have occurred around the time of the Spanish conquest, the first well-documented historical eruption occurred in 1723, and frequent explosive eruptions have occurred since. Ashfall from the last major eruption during 1963-65 caused significant disruption to San José and surrounding areas. This volcano is located within the Cordillera Volcanica Central, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve property.

Laguna del Maule, Central Chile-Argentina border

SERNAGEOMIN reported that 10 low-magnitude volcano-tectonic earthquakes were detected at the Laguna del Maule Volcanic Complex during 16-31 October; seismicity was low in the region where a swarm had occurred in June. Satellite data showed no deformation, surface changes, gas emissions, or thermal anomalies. On 6 November the Alert Level was lowered to Green, the lowest level on a four-color scale. ONEMI canceled the Yellow Alert for San Clemente, but declared a “Preventive Early Warning” ensuring continued surveillance of the area and coordination within the Civil Protection System.

Geological summary: The 15 x 25 km wide Laguna del Maule caldera contains a cluster of small stratovolcanoes, lava domes, and pyroclastic cones of Pleistocene-to-Holocene age. The caldera lies mostly on the Chilean side of the border, but partially extends into Argentina. Fourteen Pleistocene basaltic lava flows were erupted down the upper part of the Maule river valley. A cluster of Pleistocene cinder cones was constructed on the NW side of the Maule lake, which occupies part of the northern portion of the caldera. The latest activity produced an explosion crater on the E side of the lake and a series of Holocene rhyolitic lava domes and blocky lava flows that surround it.

Popocatepetl, Mexico

CENAPRED reported that each day during 4-10 November there were 364-504 steam-and-gas emissions from Popocatépetl, some of which contained minor amounts of ash. Gas-and-steam plumes drifted NW, SW, and SE. 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. This volcano is located within the Las Volcanes, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve property.

Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica

OVSICORI-UNA reported that small-to-moderate hydrothermal eruptions at Rincón de la Vieja had greater amplitudes but were more sporadic during 2-9 November. An eruptive event at 0835 on 3 November produced a plume that rose 800 m 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 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 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 3,500 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. This volcano is located within the Area de Conservación Guanacaste, a UNESCO World Heritage property.

Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia)

PVMBG reported that gray-and-white ash plumes from Semeru rising 500 m above the summit drifted S at 0752 on 4 November and SW at 0644 on 7 November. 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. This volcano is located within the Bromo Tengger Semeru-Arjuno, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve property.

Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch was identified in satellite images during 30 October-6 November. 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.

Sinabung, Indonesia

PVMBG reported that each day during 4-9 November block avalanches descended Sinabung’s E and SE flanks generally as far as 1 km. Pyroclastic flows traveled 1.5-2.5 km down the same flanks at least during 4-5 and 7 November. An eruptive event on 4 November generated a plume to an unknown height The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4), with a general exclusion zone of 3 km and extensions to 5 km in the SE sector and 4 km in the NE sector.

Geological summary: Gunung Sinabung is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano with many lava flows on its flanks. The migration of summit vents along a N-S line gives the summit crater complex an elongated form. The youngest crater of this conical andesitic-to-dacitic edifice is at the southern end of the four overlapping summit craters. The youngest deposit is a SE-flank pyroclastic flow 14C dated by Hendrasto et al. (2012) at 740-880 CE. An unconfirmed eruption was noted in 1881, and solfataric activity was seen at the summit and upper flanks in 1912. No confirmed historical eruptions were recorded prior to explosive eruptions during August-September 2010 that produced ash plumes to 5 km above the summit.

Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan)

JMA reported nighttime incandescence and intermittent eruptive activity at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater during 30 October-6 November. A total of 24 explosions were recorded, ejecting bombs 400 m from the crater and producing a gray ash plume that rose 1.5 km above the crater rim. 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 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.

Villarrica, Chile

SERNAGEOMIN reported that Villarrica’s webcam recorded gas-and-ash emissions that rose no higher than 350 m above the crater rim at 1442 on 5 November, with similar activity during 0757-0808 and at 1412 on 6 November. An explosive event at 0051 on 8 November ejected incandescent material and produced a plume that rose 220 m. A gas-and-ash emission at 1814 on 10 November rose 320 m and drifted SSW. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, the second-lowest level on a four-color scale. ONEMI maintained an Alert Level Yellow (the middle level on a three-color scale) for the municipalities of Villarrica, Pucón (16 km N), Curarrehue, and the commune of Panguipulli, and the exclusion zone for the public of 500 m around the crater.

Geological summary: Glacier-clad Villarrica, one of Chile's most active volcanoes, rises above the lake and town of the same name. It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain. A 6-km-wide caldera formed during the late Pleistocene. A 2-km-wide caldera that formed about 3500 years ago is located at the base of the presently active, dominantly basaltic to basaltic-andesitic cone at the NW margin of the Pleistocene caldera. More than 30 scoria cones and fissure vents dot the flanks. Plinian eruptions and pyroclastic flows that have extended up to 20 km from the volcano were produced during the Holocene. Lava flows up to 18 km long have issued from summit and flank vents. Historical eruptions, documented since 1558, have consisted largely of mild-to-moderate explosive activity with occasional lava effusion. Glaciers cover 40 km2 of the volcano, and lahars have damaged towns on its flanks.​

Source: GVP

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