The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: December 22 – 28, 2021

the-weekly-volcanic-activity-report-december-22-28-2021

New activity/unrest was reported for 5 volcanoes from December 22 to 28, 2021. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 17 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Ambae, Vanuatu | Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, Tonga Islands | Krysuvik-Trolladyngja, Iceland | Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island (France) | Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia).

Ongoing activity: Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Great Sitkin, Andreanof Islands (USA) | Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA) | Laguna del Maule, Central Chile-Argentina border | Lewotolok, Lembata Island (Indonesia) | Manam, Papua New Guinea | Merapi, Central Java (Indonesia) | Pavlof, United States | Reventador, Ecuador | Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica | Sangay, Ecuador | Semisopochnoi, Aleutian Islands (USA) | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan) | Turrialba, Costa Rica | Yasur, Vanuatu.

The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report is a cooperative project between the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program. Updated by 23:00 UTC every Wednesday, these reports are preliminary and subject to change as events are studied in more detail. This is not a comprehensive list of all of Earth's volcanoes erupting during the week, but rather a summary of activity at volcanoes that meet criteria discussed in detail in the "Criteria and Disclaimers" section. Carefully reviewed, detailed reports about recent activity are published in issues of the Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network.

New activity/unrest

Ambae, Vanuatu

15.389°S, 167.835°E, Summit elev. 1496 m

The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) raised the Alert Level for Ambae to 2 (on a scale of 0-5) on 27 December, noting confirmation of a cone that has built up in Lake Voui and increasing activity. A vent in the lake had been emitting steam-and-gas emissions and ejecting wet tephra above the lake’s surface since 5 December. The public was warned to stay outside of the Danger Zone defined as a 2-km radius around the active vents in Lake Voui and away from drainages during heavy rains.

Geological summary: The island of Ambae, also known as Aoba, is a massive 2,500 km3 basaltic shield that is the most voluminous volcano of the New Hebrides archipelago. A pronounced NE-SW-trending rift zone dotted with scoria cones gives the 16 x 38 km island an elongated form. A broad pyroclastic cone containing three crater lakes (Manaro Ngoru, Voui, and Manaro Lakua) is located at the summit within the youngest of at least two nested calderas, the largest of which is 6 km in diameter. That large central edifice is also called Manaro Voui or Lombenben volcano. Post-caldera explosive eruptions formed the summit craters about 360 years ago. A tuff cone was constructed within Lake Voui (or Vui) about 60 years later. The latest known flank eruption, about 300 years ago, destroyed the population of the Nduindui area near the western coast.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, Tonga Islands

20.536°S, 175.382°W, Summit elev. 114 m

The eruption at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai that began on 20 December continued through 28 December. According to the Wellington VAAC continuous gas-and-steam plumes with diffuse ash rose 6.1-12.2 km (20,000-40,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE and NNE during 22-23 December, based on pilot observations, satellite images, information from the Tonga Meteorological Office, and weather models. On 22 December Tonga Navy crew sailing near the island recorded Surtseyan explosions ejecting tephra 350 m high. The video confirmed that the vent was in the same area as the 2014 activity. According to a news article plumes of sulfur dioxide spread NNE over the Ha'apai, Vava'u, and Niuatoutapu island groups with the highest concentrations affecting the ‘Otumu‘omu‘a islands on 23 December.

Plumes became intermittent by 24 December rising to 10.4 km (34,000 ft) a.s.l. and occasionally as high as 12.2 km. Tonga Geological Services warned the public to stay outside of a 5 km radius of the vents. According to Tonga’s Lead Geologist, satellite images from 25 December showed that the island had grown 300-600 m on the E side, and ash was falling within a 10 km radius. During 25-28 December the gas-and-steam plume rose 9.1-12.2 km (30,000-40,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted N and NE; the lower part of the plume contained ash and rose as high as 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. Ashfall was confined to the vicinity of the volcano. Tonga Geological Services reported that during 27-28 December clouds of gas and steam drifted E across the ‘Otu Mu’omu’a Islands of Ha’apai at altitudes of 1-18 km (3,300-59,000 ft) a.s.l.; they warned residents to protect water reservoirs because rain may be acidic or contain traces of ash, though the plumes were predominantly drifting at high levels. One flight to Tonga was canceled on 28 December, for the second time since the eruption started.

Geological summary: The small islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai cap a large seamount located about 30 km SSE of Falcon Island. The two linear andesitic islands are about 2 km long and represent the western and northern remnants of the rim of a largely submarine caldera lying east and south of the islands. Hunga Tonga reaches an elevation of about 114 m above sea level, and both islands display inward-facing sea cliffs with lava and tephra layers dipping gently away from the submarine caldera. A rocky shoal 3.2 km SE of Hunga Ha'apai and 3 km south of Hunga Tonga marks a historically active vent. Several submarine eruptions have occurred at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai since the first historical eruption in 1912. An eruption that began in mid-December 2014 built a new island between the other two large islands.

Krysuvik-Trolladyngja, Iceland

63.917°N, 22.067°W, Summit elev. 360 m

Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) reported that the earthquake swarm at the Krýsuvík-Trölladyngja volcanic system was ongoing at least through 26 December. The swarm began at 1800 on 21 December in an area 2-4 km NE of Geldingadalir. Around 3,000 daily earthquakes recorded by the seismic network were mostly located near Fagradalsfjall volcano at depths of 5-8 km, though some were located near the town of Grindavík and lake Kleifarvatn. The swarm was episodic with periods of intense activity. Three earthquakes over M 4 were recorded near Grindavík on 24 December; the largest was a M 4.8. Deformation during 20-26 December was clear in InSAR data, and similar to the deformation observed at the end of February as the dike intrusion was starting near Fagradalsfjall. The seismicity and deformation indicated that magma was moving at depth, likely along the same dyke system that fed the previous eruption at Geldingadalir. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Geological summary: The Krýsuvík-Trölladyngja volcanic system is described by the Catalogue of Icelandic Volcanoes as an approximately 50-km-long composite fissure swarm trending about N38°E, including a 30-km-long swarm of fissures, with no central volcano. It is one of the volcanic systems arranged en-echelon along the Reykjanes Peninsula west of Kleifarvatn lake. The Fagradalsfjall and Krýsuvík fissure swarms are considered splits or secondary swarms of the Krýsuvík–Trölladyngja volcanic system. Small shield volcanoes have produced a large portion of the erupted volume within the system. Several eruptions have taken place since the settlement of Iceland, including the eruption of a large basaltic lava flow from the Ogmundargigar crater row around the 12th century. The latest eruption, identified through tephrochronology, took place during the 14th century.

Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island (France)

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

OVPF reported that an eruption at Piton de la Fournaise began at 0105 on 22 December on the S flank, SE of Piton Kala Pélé and SW of Château Fort. Four fissures opened and produced lava fountains, with the lowest point of the eruption at an elevation of 2,000 m. By the evening, the eruption was focused at 2,030 m elevation where a cone was forming around the vent. The lava effusion rate based on satellite data was an estimated 4-7 meters per second, with peak rates of 22 meters per second, during 22-23 December. By 0930 on 23 December the cone was 10 m high and low lava fountains intermittently rose above the crater rim. Lava flowed from an opening at the base of the cone, though a lava tube was beginning to form; lava had descended 2.2 km SSE from the main vent. During 24-25 December lava traveled from the base of the cone hundreds of meters through a tube before it emerged and advanced in a single channel; the front of the flow had advanced slowly, only traveling an additional 300 m by 25 December. During 25-26 December the lava tube broke open and lava was again visible emerging from the base of the cone. The flow rate was between 2 and 27 meters per second, averaging 5 meters per second. A second vent at the base of the cone was visible in the morning of 27 December and lava was again flowing through a tube and then emerging downstream. Lava fountaining continued with material occasionally ejected less than 15 m above the cone during 27-28 December. The effusion rate was an estimated 2-8 meters per second, based on satellite data. The end of the lava flow had not notably advanced since the day before.

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.

Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia)

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

PVMBG reported that the eruption at Semeru continued during 21-28 December. Crater incandescence was visible overnight during 22-23 December and four block avalanches traveled 800 m down the Kobokan drainage on the SE flank. Two pyroclastic flows descended the Kobokan drainage a maximum distance of 5 km. Dense gray plumes rose 500 m above the summit during 23-24 December and three avalanches of material traveled 500 m down the SE flank. At 1706 on 25 December and at 0902 on 28 December ash plumes rose 300 m above the summit and drifted SW and N, respectively. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4). The public was warned to stay at least 500 m away from Kobokan drainages within 17 km of the summit, and other drainages originating on Semeru including the Bang, Kembar, and Sat, due to lahar, avalanche, and pyroclastic flow hazards.

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.

Ongoing activity

Aira, Kyushu (Japan)

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

JMA reported that incandescence from Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) was visible at night during 20-27 December. The sulfur dioxide emission rate was 600 tons per day on 20 December. Two eruptive events during 20-24 December produced plumes that rose 1.1 km above the crater rim. Very small eruptive events were detected during 24-27 December. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale), and residents were warned to stay 2 km away from the crater.

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.

Great Sitkin, Andreanof Islands (USA)

52.076°N, 176.13°W, Summit elev. 1740 m

AVO reported that slow lava effusion at Great Sitkin continued during 21-28 December with advancing lava flows on the N, W, and S flanks. Very low seismicity persisted. Elevated surface temperatures at the summit were detected overnight during 21-24 and 26-27 December; weather clouds prevented observations during 25-26 December. The Aviation Color Code and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Orange and Watch, respectively.

Geological summary: The Great Sitkin volcano forms much of the northern side of Great Sitkin Island. A younger parasitic volcano capped by a small, 0.8 x 1.2 km ice-filled summit caldera was constructed within a large late-Pleistocene or early Holocene scarp formed by massive edifice failure that truncated an ancestral volcano and produced a submarine debris avalanche. Deposits from this and an older debris avalanche from a source to the south cover a broad area of the ocean floor north of the volcano. The summit lies along the eastern rim of the younger collapse scarp. Deposits from an earlier caldera-forming eruption of unknown age cover the flanks of the island to a depth up to 6 m. The small younger caldera was partially filled by lava domes emplaced in 1945 and 1974, and five small older flank lava domes, two of which lie on the coastline, were constructed along northwest- and NNW-trending lines. Hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles occur near the head of Big Fox Creek, south of the volcano. Historical eruptions have been recorded since the late-19th century.

Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)

54.049°N, 159.443°E, Summit elev. 1513 m

KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Karymsky was visible in satellite images during 16-21 December. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale). Dates are based on UTC times.

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.

Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA)

19.421°N, 155.287°W, Summit elev. 1222 m

HVO reported that lava effusion intermittently continued at a vent in the lower W wall of Kilauea’s Halema`uma`u Crater during 21-28 December. Effusion paused for a period during 21-22, and sulfur dioxide emissions were 130 tonnes per day during the pause. Strong volcanic tremor began to be recorded at 1930 on 22 December and by 2000 lava again effused from the vent into the rejuvenated a portion of the lake. The lake overflowed and fed substantial lava flows that traveled SE over older crusted parts of the lake all day on 23 December until around midnight. Lava oozed out along the E margins of the lake during 24-25 December, including onto the lowermost down-dropped block from the 2018 caldera collapse, indicating a continuing supply of lava beneath the lake’s crust. The sulfur dioxide emission rate was about 5,300 tonnes per day on 24 December, much higher than during the pause. The surface of the lava lake had begun crusting over on 25 December and by 26 December lava had again ceased erupting from the vent. An area of the lake, 50 m in diameter, to the N of the vent remained molten on 27 December. The sulfur dioxide emission rate was 125 tonnes per day during the pause. Lava again erupted from the vent later that day, beginning at 1930. The lake was incandescent around the vent and lava overflowed the margins, feeding substantial lava flows to the N and S. The Aviation Color Code and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Orange and Watch, respectively.

Geological summary: Kilauea, which overlaps the E flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano, has been Hawaii's most active volcano during historical time. Eruptions are prominent in Polynesian legends; written documentation extending back to only 1820 records frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions that were interspersed with periods of long-term lava lake activity that lasted until 1924 at Halemaumau crater, within the summit caldera. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1500 years ago and during the 18th century; eruptions have also originated from the lengthy East and SW rift zones, which extend to the sea on both sides of the volcano. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1100 years old; 70% of the volcano's surface is younger than 600 years. A long-term eruption from the East rift zone that began in 1983 has produced lava flows covering more than 100 km2, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.

Laguna del Maule, Central Chile-Argentina border

36.058°S, 70.492°W, Summit elev. 2162 m

SERNAGEOMIN reported that inflation at Laguna del Maule continued in an area SW of the lake during 1-15 December, though deformation had been decreasing since October with a with a maximum rate of 1.88 centimeters per month. Deformation rates during November and December were comparable to those recorded prior to 2019. The number of volcano-tectonic events had also decreased; the largest event was a M 2.3 located 4.1 km ESE from the center of the lake at a depth of 6.1 km. The Alert Level for Laguna del Maule was lowered to Green, the lowest level on a four-color scale, on 24 December. ONEMI canceled the Yellow Alert for San Clemente, and reminded the public to stay 1 km away from the area producing anomalous carbon dioxide emissions, about 5 km SW of the lake’s shore.

Geological summary: The Laguna del Maule volcanic complex includes a 15 x 25 km caldera with 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 Maule lake in the northern part 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.

Lewotolok, Lembata Island (Indonesia)

8.274°S, 123.508°E, Summit elev. 1431 m

PVMBG reported that the eruption at Lewotolok continued during 21-25 December. White-and-gray ash plumes that were sometimes dense rose as high as 600 m above the summit. Incandescent material was ejected from the vent up to 300 m in multiple directions. Rumbling, roaring, and booming were often heard. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4) and the public was warned to stay 3 km away from the summit crater.

Geological summary: The Lewotolok (or Lewotolo) stratovolcano occupies the eastern end of an elongated peninsula extending north into the Flores Sea, connected to Lembata (formerly Lomblen) Island by a narrow isthmus. It is symmetrical when viewed from the north and east. A small cone with a 130-m-wide crater constructed at the SE side of a larger crater forms the volcano's high point. Many lava flows have reached the coastline. Eruptions recorded since 1660 have consisted of explosive activity from the summit crater.

Manam, Papua New Guinea

4.08°S, 145.037°E, Summit elev. 1807 m

The Darwin VAAC reported that a large thermal anomaly over Manam was identified in satellite images during 21-22 December. A discrete ash plume rose to 3.4 km (11,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE on 21 December. Ash plumes may have risen to 10.7 km (35,000 ft) a.s.l. during 0137-0300 on 22 December, though weather clouds and heavy rain obscured satellite views; the plumes were unconfirmed by ground observers. At 1200 on 22 December an ash plume rose to 4.9 km (16,000 ft) a.s.l., drifted E, and dissipated within four hours.

Geological summary: The 10-km-wide island of Manam, lying 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, is one of the country's most active volcanoes. Four large radial valleys extend from the unvegetated summit of the conical basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks. These valleys channel lava flows and pyroclastic avalanches that have sometimes reached the coast. Five small satellitic centers are located near the island's shoreline on the northern, southern, and western sides. Two summit craters are present; both are active, although most observed eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE valley. Frequent eruptions, typically of mild-to-moderate scale, have been recorded since 1616. Occasional larger eruptions have produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached flat-lying coastal areas and entered the sea, sometimes impacting populated areas.

Merapi, Central Java (Indonesia)

7.54°S, 110.446°E, Summit elev. 2910 m

BPPTKG reported no notable morphological changes to Merapi’s summit lava dome, though the dome just below the SW rim had increased about 2 m in height during 17-23 December. The estimated dome volumes were over 1.65 million cubic meters for the SW dome and just over 3 million cubic meters for the summit dome. The intensity of the seismic signals remained at high levels. As many as 112 lava avalanches traveled a maximum of 2 km SW down the Bebeng drainage, and four pyroclastic flows traveled a maximum of 2.5 km SW. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to stay 3-5 km away from the summit based on location.

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.

Pavlof, United States

55.417°N, 161.894°W, Summit elev. 2493 m

AVO reported that seismicity at Pavlof was elevated during 22-28 December and was mainly characterized by periods of sustained tremor and discrete low-frequency events. Numerous small explosions were recorded almost daily, and strongly elevated surface temperatures were visible in satellite images, consistent with lava effusion. The Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch and the Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Geological summary: The most active volcano of the Aleutian arc, Pavlof is a 2519-m-high Holocene stratovolcano that was constructed along a line of vents extending NE from the Emmons Lake caldera. Pavlof and its twin volcano to the NE, 2142-m-high Pavlof Sister, form a dramatic pair of symmetrical, glacier-covered stratovolcanoes that tower above Pavlof and Volcano bays. A third cone, Little Pavlof, is a smaller volcano on the SW flank of Pavlof volcano, near the rim of Emmons Lake caldera. Unlike Pavlof Sister, Pavlof has been frequently active in historical time, typically producing Strombolian to Vulcanian explosive eruptions from the summit vents and occasional lava flows. The active vents lie near the summit on the north and east sides. The largest historical eruption took place in 1911, at the end of a 5-year-long eruptive episode, when a fissure opened on the N flank, ejecting large blocks and issuing lava flows.

Reventador, Ecuador

0.077°S, 77.656°W, Summit elev. 3562 m

IG reported that a high level of activity continued at Reventador during 21-28 December. Gas-and-ash plumes, often observed multiple times a day with the webcam or reported by the Washington VAAC, rose as high as 1.2 km above the summit crater and drifted mainly NW, W, and SW. Crater incandescence was visible nightly, and lava flows were active on the NE and N flanks. Explosions, crater incandescence, and incandescent blocks rolling 500 m down the N and NE flanks were observed at night during 27-28 November.

Geological summary: Reventador is the most frequently active of a chain of Ecuadorian volcanoes in the Cordillera Real, well east of the principal volcanic axis. The forested, dominantly andesitic Volcán El Reventador stratovolcano rises to 3562 m above the jungles of the western Amazon basin. A 4-km-wide caldera widely breached to the east was formed by edifice collapse and is partially filled by a young, unvegetated stratovolcano that rises about 1300 m above the caldera floor to a height comparable to the caldera rim. It has been the source of numerous lava flows as well as explosive eruptions that were visible from Quito in historical time. Frequent lahars in this region of heavy rainfall have constructed a debris plain on the eastern floor of the caldera. The largest historical eruption took place in 2002, producing a 17-km-high eruption column, pyroclastic flows that traveled up to 8 km, and lava flows from summit and flank vents.

Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica

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

OVSICORI-UNA reported that at 1015 on 25 December a small eruption at Rincón de la Vieja was recorded for about four minutes but not visually observed due to weather clouds. Rains after the event and continuing early on 26 December washed the acidic sediment deposited from the volcano downstream in the Pénjamo, Azul, and Azufrada drainages, into the aquatic ecosystem. Phreatic events were recorded at 1402 and 1630 on 28 December though weather conditions prevented visual confirmation.

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.

Sangay, Ecuador

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

IG reported a high level of activity at Sangay during 21-28 December. Seismicity was characterized by daily explosions, long-period earthquakes, and signals indicating emissions. Weather clouds and rain sometimes prevented visual and webcam observations of the volcano, though almost daily ash-and-gas plumes were identified in satellite images by the Washington VAAC or in webcam views; plumes rose as high as 1.5 km above the volcano and drifted SE, S, SW, and W. Multiple (33-73 per day) daily thermal anomalies over the volcano were visible in satellite data. On 25 December volcano observers near Macas reported hearing noises coming from Sangay, possibly due to favorable weather conditions, though the intensity of explosions had slightly increased. Crater incandescence and an active lava flow on the SE flank were visible at night during 27-28 November.

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.

Semisopochnoi, Aleutian Islands (USA)

51.93°N, 179.58°E, Summit elev. 1221 m

AVO reported that low-level eruptive activity and elevated seismicity at Semisopochnoi's North Cerberus crater continued during 22-28 December. Small explosions were detected almost daily in seismic and infrasound data. Low-level ash-and-steam emissions were observed by webcams and in satellite images during 22-25 December, when weather conditions were clear. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch.

Geological summary: Semisopochnoi, the largest subaerial volcano of the western Aleutians, is 20 km wide at sea level and contains an 8-km-wide caldera. It formed as a result of collapse of a low-angle, dominantly basaltic volcano following the eruption of a large volume of dacitic pumice. The high point of the island is Anvil Peak, a double-peaked late-Pleistocene cone that forms much of the island's northern part. The three-peaked Mount Cerberus was constructed within the caldera during the Holocene. Each of the peaks contains a summit crater; lava flows on the N flank of Cerberus appear younger than those on the south side. Other post-caldera volcanoes include the symmetrical Sugarloaf Peak SSE of the caldera and Lakeshore Cone, a small cinder cone at the edge of Fenner Lake in the NE part of the caldera. Most documented eruptions have originated from Cerberus, although Coats (1950) considered that both Sugarloaf and Lakeshore Cone could have been recently active.

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 17-24 December. At 1210 local time on 23 December explosions produced ash plumes that rose to 6 km (19,700 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 70 km NE. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale). Dates are based on UTC times; specific events are in local time where noted.

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 crater incandescence at Suwanosejima's Ontake Crater was visible nightly during 20-27 December. The number of explosions totaled 143 during 22-24 December. Plumes rose as high as 3.1 km above the crater rim and bombs were ejected 700 m from the crater. Explosive activity increased during 24-27 December with explosions totaling 361. Plumes rose as high as 1.5 km and bombs were ejected 800 m form the vent. The Alert Level remained at 3 and the public was warned to stay 2 km away from the crater.

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.

Turrialba, Costa Rica

10.025°N, 83.767°W, Summit elev. 3340 m

OVSICORI-UNA reported that an area of incandescence on the NW inner wall of Turrialba’s West Crater had been periodically visible at least since mid-November, and was visible during 26-27 December, suggesting that fumarolic temperatures exceeded 300 degrees Celsius. At 0644 on 28 December a one-minute-long eruption produced an ash emission that rose 50 m above the crater rim and drifted W. Another small eruption that produced ash emissions was recorded at 1105 by the seismicity and infrasound networks. The event was heard by authorities in the Parque Nacional Volcán Turrialba.

Geological summary: Turrialba, the easternmost of Costa Rica's Holocene volcanoes, is a large vegetated basaltic-to-dacitic stratovolcano located across a broad saddle NE of Irazú volcano overlooking the city of Cartago. The massive edifice covers an area of 500 km2. Three well-defined craters occur at the upper SW end of a broad 800 x 2200 m summit depression that is breached to the NE. Most activity originated from the summit vent complex, but two pyroclastic cones are located on the SW flank. Five major explosive eruptions have occurred during the past 3500 years. A series of explosive eruptions during the 19th century were sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows. Fumarolic activity continues at the central and SW summit craters.

Yasur, Vanuatu

19.532°S, 169.447°E, Summit elev. 361 m

The Wellington VAAC reported that during 27-28 December ash emissions from Yasur were visible in webcam images rising above the crater rim, to 1.5 km (5,000 ft) a.s.l. Plumes containing ash were not visible in satellite images, though they were also confirmed by Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department (VMGD).

Geological summary: Yasur, the best-known and most frequently visited of the Vanuatu volcanoes, has been in more-or-less continuous Strombolian and Vulcanian activity since Captain Cook observed ash eruptions in 1774. This style of activity may have continued for the past 800 years. Located at the SE tip of Tanna Island, this mostly unvegetated pyroclastic cone has a nearly circular, 400-m-wide summit crater. The active cone is largely contained within the small Yenkahe caldera, and is the youngest of a group of Holocene volcanic centers constructed over the down-dropped NE flank of the Pleistocene Tukosmeru volcano. The Yenkahe horst is located within the Siwi ring fracture, a 4-km-wide, horseshoe-shaped caldera associated with eruption of the andesitic Siwi pyroclastic sequence. Active tectonism along the Yenkahe horst accompanying eruptions has raised Port Resolution harbor more than 20 m during the past century.

Reference:

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 December-21 December 2021 Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

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