The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: December 14 – 20, 2022

the weekly volcanic activity report

New activity/unrest was reported for 6 volcanoes from December 14 to 20, 2022. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 16 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Ahyi, Mariana Islands (USA) | Cotopaxi, Ecuador | Etna, Sicily (Italy) | Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Lascar, Northern Chile | Semeru, Eastern Java.

Ongoing activity: Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Alaid, Kuril Islands (Russia) | Bezymianny, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Great Sitkin, Andreanof Islands (USA) | Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Kerinci, Central Sumatra | Krakatau, Sunda Strait | Merapi, Central Java | Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia | Pavlof, Alaska Peninsula, Alaska | Popocatepetl, Mexico | Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica | San Miguel, Eastern El Salvador | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan).

New activity/unrest

Ahyi, Mariana Islands (USA)

20.42°N, 145.03°E | Summit elev. -75 m

Unrest continued to be detected at Ahyi Seamount during 14-20 December. Wake Island hydrophone sensors detected daily signals consistent with explosions. A possible underwater plume was observed in satellite images on 18 December, and definite but diffuse plumes were visible to the SSE of the vent during 19-20 December. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale) and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Advisory (the second lowest level on a four-level scale).

Geological summary: Ahyi seamount is a large conical submarine volcano that rises to within 75 m of the sea surface about 18 km SE of the island of Farallon de Pajaros (Uracas) in the northern Marianas. Water discoloration has been observed there, and in 1979 the crew of a fishing boat felt shocks over the summit area of the seamount, followed by upwelling of sulfur-bearing water. On 24-25 April 2001 an explosive eruption was detected seismically by a station on Rangiroa Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago. The event was well constrained (+/- 15 km) at a location near the southern base of Ahyi. An eruption in April-May 2014 was detected by NOAA divers, hydroacoustic sensors, and seismic stations.

Cotopaxi, Ecuador

0.677°S, 78.436°W | Summit elev. 5911 m

IG reported that the low-level eruption at Cotopaxi continued during 14-20 December, characterized by daily steam-and-gas emissions with low ash content. At 0626 on 14 December an ash emission rose 500 m above the crater rim and drifted W, causing ashfall within Parque Nacional Cotopaxi. Weather clouds sometimes obscured views of the volcano; between weather clouds during 14-16 December steam-and gas plumes with low ash content were seen rising as high as 500 m above the crater rim and drifting W. Several emissions with low or very low ash content rose as high as 800 m above the crater rim and drifted W and SW during 16-17 December; similar emissions rose as high as 1.1 km above the crater rim and drifted W and SW during 18-20 December based on webcam views and Washington VAAC notices. Ashfall was reported in San Pedro de Taboada (40 km N), Uyumbicho (30 km NNW), Güitig Alta, Güitig Baja, Conocoto (42 km N), Sur de Quito, Chimbacalle (48 km NNW), La Magdalena (48 km NNW), Barrio Nuevo, Villaflora (48 km NNW), Miraflores, and La Floresta (50 km N) during 19-20 December. Servicio Nacional de Gestión de Riesgos y Emergencias (SNGRE) maintained the Alert Level at Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale).

Geological summary: The symmetrical, glacier-covered, Cotopaxi stratovolcano is Ecuador’s most well-known volcano and one of its most active. The steep-sided cone is capped by nested summit craters, the largest of which is about 550 x 800 m in diameter. Deep valleys scoured by lahars radiate from the summit of the andesitic volcano, and large andesitic lava flows extend to its base. The modern edifice has been constructed since a major collapse sometime prior to about 5,000 years ago. Pyroclastic flows (often confused in historical accounts with lava flows) have accompanied many explosive eruptions, and lahars have frequently devastated adjacent valleys. Strong eruptions took place in 1744, 1768, and 1877. Pyroclastic flows descended all sides of the volcano in 1877, and lahars traveled more than 100 km into the Pacific Ocean and western Amazon basin. Smaller eruptions have been frequent since that time.

Etna, Sicily (Italy)

37.748°N, 14.999°E | Summit elev. 3357 m

INGV reported that the vents at the NE base of Etna’s SE Crater, in the Valle del Leone, continued to feed lava flows during 7-18 December. The active flow field consisted of a main lava flow and several breakouts that fed smaller lava flows. A small hornito formed at the vent area and ejected pieces of lava.

Geological summary: Mount Etna, towering above Catania on the island of Sicily, has one of the world’s longest documented records of 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 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.

Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

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

KVERT reported that the explosive Strombolian eruption at Klyuchevskoy that began on 16 November had decreased. The Kamchatka Branch of Geophysical Services (KBGS; Russian Academy of Sciences) noted that possible ash plumes rose as high as 150 m above the summit on 1 December. KVERT began to characterize the activity as moderate on 6 December and noted that the periodic thermal anomalies identified in satellite images had become weak on 9 December. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale).

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.

Lascar, Northern Chile

23.37°S, 67.73°W | Summit elev. 5592 m

SERNAGEOMIN reported that seismic signals characterized as moderate were recorded on 19 December and located near Láscar’s main crater at shallow depths. The seismicity was the most notable recorded since the eruption on 10 December. The Alert Level remained at Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale) and the public were warned to stay at least 5 km away from the crater. ONEMI maintained the Alert Level Yellow (the middle level on a three-color scale) for San Pedro de Atacama (70 km NW).

Geological summary: Láscar is the most active volcano of the northern Chilean Andes. The andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcano contains six overlapping summit craters. Prominent lava flows descend its NW flanks. An older, higher stratovolcano 5 km E, Volcán Aguas Calientes, displays a well-developed summit crater and a probable Holocene lava flow near its summit (de Silva and Francis, 1991). Láscar consists of two major edifices; activity began at the eastern volcano and then shifted to the western cone. The largest eruption took place about 26,500 years ago, and following the eruption of the Tumbres scoria flow about 9000 years ago, activity shifted back to the eastern edifice, where three overlapping craters were formed. Frequent small-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the mid-19th century, along with periodic larger eruptions that produced ashfall hundreds of kilometers away. The largest historical eruption took place in 1993, producing pyroclastic flows to 8.5 km NW of the summit and ashfall in Buenos Aires.

Semeru, Eastern Java

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

PVMBG reported that the eruption at Semeru continued during 16-20 December. At 0455 on 16 December an eruptive event produced a dense white, gray, and brown plume that rose 1 km above the summit and drifted N. At 0500 on 18 December a dense gray ash plume rose 300 m and drifted N and NE. At 0623 and 0755 that same day dense white-and-gray ash plumes rose 1 km and 700 m, respectively, and drifted N. At 0516 and 0703 on 19 December white-and-gray ash plumes rose 400-700 m and drifted N and NE. At 1558 a dense gray-to-brown ash plume rose 1.5 km and drifted N and NE. At 0545 on 20 December an ash plume rose 600 m and drifted N. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4). The public was warned to stay at least 5 km away from the summit, and 500 m from Kobokan drainages within 17 km of the summit, along with 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 ongoing eruptive activity at Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) during 12-19 December. Crater incandescence was visible nightly. Two explosions on 14 December produced eruption plumes that rose as high as 1.7 km and disappeared into weather clouds. Blocks were ejected as far as 700 m. An explosion at 0805 on 17 December produced a plume that rose 700 m and into the clouds. Blocks were ejected 900 m. 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.

Alaid, Kuril Islands (Russia)

50.861°N, 155.565°E | Summit elev. 2285 m

KVERT reported that the eruption at Alaid was ongoing during 8-15 December. A thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images on 8, 12, and 14 December; weather clouds obscured observations on the other days. 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 highest and northernmost volcano of the Kuril Islands, Alaid is a symmetrical stratovolcano when viewed from the north, but has a 1.5-km-wide summit crater that is breached open to the south. This basaltic to basaltic-andesite volcano is the northernmost of a chain constructed west of the main Kuril archipelago. Numerous pyroclastic cones are present the lower flanks, particularly on the NW and SE sides, including an offshore cone formed during the 1933-34 eruption. Strong explosive eruptions have occurred from the summit crater beginning in the 18th century. Reports of eruptions in 1770, 1789, 1821, 1829, 1843, 1848, and 1858 were considered incorrect by Gorshkov (1970). Explosive eruptions in 1790 and 1981 were among the largest reported in the Kuril Islands.

Bezymianny, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

55.972°N, 160.595°E | Summit elev. 2882 m

KVERT reported that during 8-15 December a daily thermal anomaly over Bezymianny was identified in satellite images. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale). Dates are based on UTC times; specific events are in local time where noted.

Geological summary: The modern Bezymianny, much smaller than its massive neighbors Kamen and Kliuchevskoi on the Kamchatka Peninsula, was formed about 4,700 years ago over a late-Pleistocene lava-dome complex and an ancestral edifice built about 11,000-7,000 years ago. Three periods of intensified activity have occurred during the past 3,000 years. The latest period, which was preceded by a 1,000-year quiescence, began with the dramatic 1955-56 eruption. This eruption, similar to that of St. Helens in 1980, produced a large open crater that was formed by collapse of the summit and an associated lateral blast. Subsequent episodic but ongoing lava-dome growth, accompanied by intermittent explosive activity and pyroclastic flows, has largely filled the 1956 crater.

Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia)

50.686°N, 156.014°E | Summit elev. 1103 m

KVERT reported that moderate activity at Ebeko was ongoing during 8-15 December. According to volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island, about 7 km E) explosions on 9 December generated ash plumes that rose to 2.6 km (8,500 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E. The volcano was obscured by weather clouds on the other days of the week. 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 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.

Great Sitkin, Andreanof Islands (USA)

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

AVO reported that slow lava effusion likely continued at Great Sitkin during 13-20 December, though satellite and webcam observations were mostly obscured by clouds. Nothing notable was observed in clear webcam and satellite views during 19-20 December. No significant seismic activity was detected. The Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch (the second highest level on a four-level scale) and the Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale).

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 at Karymsky was identified in satellite images on 12 and 13 December. Gas-and-steam emissions persisted. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale). Dates are based on UTC times; specific events are in local time where noted.

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.

Kerinci, Central Sumatra

1.697°S, 101.264°E | Summit elev. 3800 m

PVMBG reported that daily white steam-and-gas plumes rose as high as 150 m above Kerinci’s summit and drifted NE and NW during 14-17 December. Brown plumes rose 100 m above the summit and drifted NW and E during 17-19 December. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale). 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.

Krakatau, Sunda Strait

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

PVMBG reported that at 1031 on 15 December an eruptive event at Anak Krakatau produced a dense gray ash plume that rose 700 m above summit and drifted NE. Four minutes later a white-and-gray ash plume rose 100 m and drifted NE. At 1910 a gray ash plume rose 100 m and drifted E. An image from 1936 showed incandescent material being ejected above vent. Weather clouds often prevented views of the volcano during 16-19 December, though white plumes were occasionally seen rising as high as 50 m above the summit. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to stay at least 5 km away from the crater.

Geological summary: The renowned volcano Krakatau (frequently misstated as Krakatoa) lies in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. Collapse of the ancestral edifice, perhaps in 416 or 535 CE, formed a 7-km-wide caldera. Remnants of that volcano are preserved in Verlaten and Lang Islands; subsequently Rakata, Danan, and Perbuwatan volcanoes were formed, coalescing to create the pre-1883 Krakatau Island. Caldera collapse during the catastrophic 1883 eruption destroyed Danan and Perbuwatan, and left only a remnant of Rakata. This eruption caused more than 36,000 fatalities, most as a result of tsunamis that swept the adjacent coastlines of Sumatra and Java. Pyroclastic surges traveled 40 km across the Sunda Strait and reached the Sumatra coast. After a quiescence of less than a half century, the post-collapse cone of Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau) was constructed within the 1883 caldera at a point between the former cones of Danan and Perbuwatan. Anak Krakatau has been the site of frequent eruptions since 1927.

Merapi, Central Java

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

BPPTKG reported that the eruption at Merapi continued during 9-15 December and seismicity remained at high levels. The SW lava dome produced four lava avalanches that traveled as far as 1.5 km down the SW flank (upstream in the Kali Bebeng drainage). No significant morphological changes to the central and SW lava domes were evident. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to stay 3-7 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.

Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia

4.892°N, 75.324°W | Summit elev. 5279 m

Servicio Geológico Colombiano’s (SGC) reported that seismicity at Nevado del Ruiz began to increase at around 1550 on 13 December. The signals indicated moving fluids within the volcano’s conduit, and some were associated with pulsating gas-and-ash emissions seen from several surrounding municipalities. Ashfall was reported on 14 December in several municipalities including Dosquebradas (40 km WSW), Santa Rosa de Cabal (34 km W), and Pereira (40 km WSW in Risaralda), Manizales (27 km NW) and Villamaría (26 km NW in Caldas), and in the Los Nevados National Natural Park sector. The Alert Level remained at 3 (Yellow; the second lowest level on a four-color scale).

Geological summary: Nevado del Ruiz is a broad, glacier-covered volcano in central Colombia that covers more than 200 km2. Three major edifices, composed of andesitic and dacitic lavas and andesitic pyroclastics, have been constructed since the beginning of the Pleistocene. The modern cone consists of a broad cluster of lava domes built within the caldera of an older edifice. The 1-km-wide, 240-m-deep Arenas crater occupies the summit. The prominent La Olleta pyroclastic cone located on the SW flank may also have been active in historical time. Steep headwalls of massive landslides cut the flanks. Melting of its summit icecap during historical eruptions, which date back to the 16th century, has resulted in devastating lahars, including one in 1985 that was South America’s deadliest eruption.

Pavlof, Alaska Peninsula, Alaska

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

AVO reported that no elevated surface temperatures or incandescent lava at Pavlof had been observed in satellite and webcam images since 2 December. Seismicity remained above background levels with intermittent seismic tremor, though explosions had not been recorded since 7 December. On 17 December AVO lowered the Volcano Alert Level to Advisory (the second lowest level on a four-level scale) and the Aviation Color Code to Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale).

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.

Popocatepetl, Mexico

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

CENAPRED reported that there were 53-196 steam-and-gas emissions, sometimes containing minor amounts of ash, rising from Popocatépetl each day during 13-20 December. Explosions were recorded at 0747 and 0849 on 15 December. A series of 12 explosions were recorded midweek, at 2107 and 2143 on 17 December and at 0102, 0247, 0404, 0440, 0604, 0614, 0639, 0741, 0752, and 0957 on 18 December. Some of the explosions ejected incandescent material onto the upper flanks based on posted images and video. Two minor explosions were detected at 1323 and 2252 on 18 December. A minor explosion was recorded at 0250 on 19 December and two moderate ones occurred at 0045 and 0639 that same day. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two (the 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 that small phreatic explosions continued at Rincón de la Vieja during 14-20 December. A small phreatic explosion at 0828 on 14 December produced a steam plume that rose 500 m above the crater rim. An associated sulfur dioxide anomaly was registered at a station located to the W of the crater. Small phreatic events were also recorded at 1433 on 15 December, at 0314 and 2042 on 16 December, at 1958 on 17 December, and 0119 on 20 December, though cloudy 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.

San Miguel, Eastern El Salvador

13.434°N, 88.269°W | Summit elev. 2130 m

On 14 December MARN reported that activity at San Miguel continued to decrease. They noted that there were no major changes to seismicity and gas emissions, though minor explosions were occasionally detected by the seismic network and manifested as small gas emissions. Sulfur dioxide emissions were below the baseline of 300 tons per day.

Geological summary: The symmetrical cone of San Miguel, one of the most active volcanoes in El Salvador, rises from near sea level to form one of the country’s most prominent landmarks. A broad, deep, crater complex that has been frequently modified by eruptions recorded since the early 16th century caps the truncated unvegetated summit, also known locally as Chaparrastique. Flanks eruptions of the basaltic-andesitic volcano have produced many lava flows, including several during the 17th-19th centuries that extended to the N, NE, and SE. 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. Flank vent locations have migrated higher on the edifice during historical time, and the most recent activity has consisted of minor ash eruptions from the summit crater.

Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

56.653°N, 161.36°E | Summit elev. 3283 m

KVERT reported that the ongoing eruption at Sheveluch during 8-15 December was generally characterized by explosions, hot avalanches, lava-dome extrusion, and strong fumarolic activity. A daily thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images. 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 1,300 km3 andesitic volcano is one of Kamchatka’s largest and most active volcanic structures, with at least 60 large eruptions during the Holocene. 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 occur on its outer flanks. The Molodoy Shiveluch lava dome complex was constructed during the Holocene within the large open caldera; Holocene lava dome extrusion also took place on the flanks of Stary Shiveluch. 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 the eruption at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater continued during 12-19 December. No explosions were recorded. Eruption plumes rose at least 1.7 km above the crater rim and blocks were ejected as far as 100 m from the vent. Crater incandescence was visible at night during 12-16 December and ashfall was occasionally reported in Toshima village (3.5 km SSW) during 16-19 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 8-km-long 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. One of Japan’s most frequently active volcanoes, it was in a state of intermittent Strombolian activity from Otake, the NE summit crater, between 1949 and 1996, after which periods of inactivity lengthened. The largest recorded 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 open 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.

References:

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report – December 14 – 20, 2022 – Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

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