The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: February 15 – 21, 2023
New activity/unrest was reported for 5 volcanoes from February 15 to 21, 2023. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 17 volcanoes.
New activity/unrest: Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Ambae, Vanuatu | Chikurachki, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Karangetang, Sangihe Islands | Lascar, Northern Chile.
Ongoing activity: Cotopaxi, Ecuador | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Etna, Sicily (Italy) | Great Sitkin, Andreanof Islands (USA) | Kerinci, Central Sumatra | Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA) | Lewotolok, Lembata Island | Marapi, Central Sumatra | Merapi, Central Java | Popocatepetl, Mexico | Reventador, Ecuador | Sabancaya, Peru | Sangay, Ecuador | Semisopochnoi, Aleutian Islands (USA) | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan) | Villarrica, Central Chile.
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 13-20 February and crater incandescence was visible nightly. Five explosions and five eruptive events were recorded during the week. One of the explosions, at 1448 on 14 February, produced an ash plume that rose 2.4 km above the crater rim and ejected large blocks 1.1 km from the vent. Blocks 3 cm in diameter fell near the Arimura Lava Observatory in Arimura-cho, Kagoshima City, about 3 km SE. An explosion on 19 February produced an eruption plume that rose 1.2 km and ejected blocks that fell 1.1 km away. A very small eruptive event occurred at Showa Crater on 20 February. 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.
15.389°S, 167.835°E | Summit elev. 1496 m
Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) reported that on 20 February a steam-and-ash plume rose from the active vent at Ambae and drifted SSW. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 0-5) and 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.
Chikurachki, Paramushir Island (Russia)
50.324°N, 155.461°E | Summit elev. 1781 m
KVERT reported that moderate eruptive activity at Chikurachki had ended, with explosions and ash plumes last recorded on 8 February. Steam-and-gas emissions persisted. The Aviation Color Code was lowered to Yellow and then Green (the lowest level on a four-color scale) on 18 February. Dates are based on UTC times; specific events are in local time where noted.
Geological summary: Chikurachki, the highest volcano on Paramushir Island in the northern Kuriles, is a relatively small cone constructed on a high Pleistocene edifice. Oxidized basaltic-to-andesitic scoria deposits covering the upper part of the young cone give it a distinctive red color. Frequent basaltic Plinian eruptions have occurred during the Holocene. Lava flows have reached the sea and formed capes on the NW coast; several young lava flows are also present on the E flank beneath a scoria deposit. The Tatarinov group of six volcanic centers is located immediately to the south, and the Lomonosov cinder cone group, the source of an early Holocene lava flow that reached the saddle between it and Fuss Peak to the west, lies at the southern end of the N-S-trending Chikurachki-Tatarinov complex. In contrast to the frequently active Chikurachki, the Tatarinov centers are extensively modified by erosion and have a more complex structure. Tephrochronology gives evidence of an eruption around 1690 CE from Tatarinov, although its southern cone contains a sulfur-encrusted crater with fumaroles that were active along the margin of a crater lake until 1959.
Karangetang, Sangihe Islands
2.781°N, 125.407°E | Summit elev. 1797 m
According to PVMBG the eruption at Karangetang’s Main Crater (S crater) continued during 14-21 February. Multiple nighttime webcam images posted with daily reports showed three main incandescent lava flows of different lengths descending the S, SW, and W flanks; a webcam image from 2156 on 17 February possibly showed incandescent material descending the SE flank. Incandescent rocks dotted the upper flanks, possibly from ejected or collapsed material from the crater; the incandescence was often most intense at the summit. Based on analyses of satellite imagery and weather models, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 16-20 February daily ash plume rose to an altitude of 2.1-3 km (7,000-10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NNE, E, and SE. BNPB reported that as of 16 February there were as many as 77 people that had been displaced by the eruption and were in the East Siau Museum which was designated as a temporary evacuation shelter. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4) and the public were advised to stay 2.5 km away from Main Crater with an extension to 3.5 km on the S and SE flanks.
Geological summary: Karangetang (Api Siau) volcano lies at the northern end of the island of Siau, about 125 km NNE of the NE-most point of Sulawesi. The stratovolcano contains five summit craters along a N-S line. It is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, with more than 40 eruptions recorded since 1675 and many additional small eruptions that were not documented (Neumann van Padang, 1951). Twentieth-century eruptions have included frequent explosive activity sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows and lahars. Lava dome growth has occurred in the summit craters; collapse of lava flow fronts have produced pyroclastic flows.
Lascar, Northern Chile
23.37°S, 67.73°W | Summit elev. 5592 m
SERNAGEOMIN reported that during 15-21 February seismicity at Láscar continued to be dominated by volcano-tectonic signals with smaller numbers of both long-period and tornillo-type events. Daily whitish gas emissions were mostly diffuse, rose as high as 500 m above the crater rim, and drifted mainly E, SE, and W. Sulfur dioxide emissions were low, no notable deformation was detected, and no thermal anomalies were identified in satellite images. The Alert Level remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale) and SENAPRED warned the public to stay at least 10 km away from the crater. ONEMI maintained an 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.
0.677°S, 78.436°W | Summit elev. 5911 m
IG reported that the eruption at Cotopaxi continued during 14-21 February, characterized by almost daily emissions of gas, steam, and ash; inclement weather conditions occasionally prevented views. Gas emissions with some ash rose as high as 600 m above the crater rim and drifted E, SE, and SW during 14-15 February. Minor ashfall was noted in San Ramón (17 km SW), Ticatilín (15 km WSW), San Agustín del Callo (18 km WSW), Mulaló (19 km SW), and Lasso (20 km WSW). Daily ash-and-gas plumes rose as high as 1.1 km during 16-19 February and drifted mainly E, SE, S, and SW. Minor amounts of ash occasionally fell on the downwind flanks. During 20-21 February steam-and-gas plumes rose as high as 1.3 km and drifted E and SW. 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.
Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia)
50.686°N, 156.014°E | Summit elev. 1103 m
KVERT reported that moderate activity at Ebeko was ongoing during 9-16 February. According to volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island, about 7 km E) explosions during 9 and 12-13 February generated ash plumes that rose as high as 4 km (13,100 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE and E. A thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images on 9 and 13 February, and an ash cloud drifted 45 km E on 12 February. 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.
Etna, Sicily (Italy)
37.748°N, 14.999°E | Summit elev. 3357 m
INGV reported that lava effusion had ended on 6 February from the vents at the NE base of Etna’s SE Crater, in the Valle del Leone at about 2,800 m elevation. The total area covered by the lava flows was an estimated 0.96 square kilometers and the estimated volume was 4,800,000-6,100,000 cubic meters. In a Volcano Observatory Notices for Aviation (VONA) posted on 7 February, the Aviation Color Code was lowered to Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale) and INGV noted that although effusion had stopped unrest was ongoing. In a second VONA, posted on 14 February, the Aviation Color Code was lowered to Green as activity had decreased to background levels.
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.
Great Sitkin, Andreanof Islands (USA)
52.076°N, 176.13°W | Summit elev. 1740 m
AVO reported that a 15 February satellite image confirmed continuing lava effusion at Great Sitkin and growth of the flow field to the E, though effusion likely continued through 20 February. Weather clouds often obscured satellite and webcam views; steam emissions were observed during 17-18 February and weakly elevated surface temperatures were identified in satellite images during 19-20 February. Seismicity was very low during 21-22 February with one small local earthquake 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.
Kerinci, Central Sumatra
1.697°S, 101.264°E | Summit elev. 3800 m
PVMBG reported that the eruption at Kerinci was ongoing during 15-20 February. Ash plumes of variable densities were visible during 15-16 and 18 February rising as high as 250 m above the summit and drifting mainly NE, E, and W. White steam-and-gas plumes were visible on the other days. At 1207 on 15 February a dense brown ash plume rose 200 m and drifted E. At 0908 on 16 February a dense brown ash plume rose 250 m and drifted E, and at 1937 a gray-to-brown ash plume rose 150 m that drifted E and SE. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4) and the public was reminded to stay 3 km away from the crater.
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.
Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA)
19.421°N, 155.287°W | Summit elev. 1222 m
HVO reported that the eruption on the floor of Kilauea’s Halema’uma’u Crater continued during 15-21 February but at a decreased rate during the last half of the week. Lava erupted from three locations during 15-17 February. The lava lake in E half of the crater was active, had a small lava fountain, and remained at about 10 hectares in size; the smaller western lake in the basin of the 2021-2022 lava lake was also active. The smaller lava pond in the central portion of the crater floor had a small lava fountain, produced nearly continuous overflows, and channeled lava to the E lake. Activity in the E and central lakes diminished in the late afternoon on 17 February, and by 18 February both had stopped erupting. The western lake was active but at a greatly reduced level and lava only minimally circulated; the lake was mostly crusted over and about 10 m lower by 19 February. The lake produced small lava flows and intermittent crustal overturns during 19-20 February. 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: Kilauea overlaps the E flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano in the island of Hawaii. Eruptions are prominent in Polynesian legends; written documentation since 1820 records frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions interspersed with periods of long-term lava lake activity at Halemaumau crater in the summit caldera until 1924. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1,500 years ago and during the 18th century; eruptions have also originated from the lengthy East and Southwest rift zones, which extend to the ocean in both directions. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1,100 years old; 70% of the surface is younger than 600 years. The long-term eruption from the East rift zone between 1983 and 2018 produced lava flows covering more than 100 km2, destroyed hundreds of houses, and added new coastline.
Lewotolok, Lembata Island
8.274°S, 123.508°E | Summit elev. 1431 m
PVMBG reported that the eruption at Lewotolok was ongoing during 15-21 February. Minor crater incandescence at the summit was visible in most of the nighttime webcam images posted with the daily PVMBG reports. A webcam image captured at 0210 on 18 February showed Strombolian activity and incandescent material on the flank. White-and-gray plumes rose as high as 400 m above the summit and drifted E and SE during 16-17 February. A white-and-gray plume rose 700 m and drifted E on 19 February. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4) and the public was warned to stay 2 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.
Marapi, Central Sumatra
0.38°S, 100.474°E | Summit elev. 2885 m
PVMBG reported that the eruption at Marapi (on Sumatra) continued during 15-21 February. White steam-and-gas plumes were visible almost daily rising as high as 100 m from the summit; weather clouds prevented visual observations on 16 February. White-and-gray ash plume rose around 500 m from the summit and drifted E, SE, and SW on 20 February. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4) and the public was warned to stay 3 km away from the crater.
Geological summary: Gunung Marapi, not to be confused with the better-known Merapi volcano on Java, is Sumatra’s most active volcano. This massive complex stratovolcano rises 2,000 m above the Bukittinggi Plain in the Padang Highlands. A broad summit contains multiple partially overlapping summit craters constructed within the small 1.4-km-wide Bancah caldera. The summit craters are located along an ENE-WSW line, with volcanism migrating to the west. More than 50 eruptions, typically consisting of small-to-moderate explosive activity, have been recorded since the end of the 18th century; no lava flows outside the summit craters have been reported in historical time.
Merapi, Central Java
7.54°S, 110.446°E | Summit elev. 2910 m
BPPTKG reported that the eruption at Merapi (on Java) continued during 10-16 February and seismicity remained at high levels. The SW lava dome produced two lava avalanches that traveled as far as 1.7 km down the SW flank (upstream in the Kali Sat drainage). No significant morphological changes to the central and SW lava domes were evident in webcam images. 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.
19.023°N, 98.622°W | Summit elev. 5393 m
CENAPRED reported that there were 102-215 steam-and-gas emissions, often containing ash, rising from Popocatépetl each day during 14-21 February; minor explosions also occurred almost daily. Minor explosions were recorded at 1334, 1456, and 1822 on 14 February and at 0253 on 15 February based on data from the seismic network. On 17 February minor explosions occurred at 0210, 1827, 2210, 2252, and 2325. Additional minor explosions were recorded at 0235, 0252, and 0614 on 18 February; a webcam image from 0236 showed ejected incandescent material on the flanks. The lava dome on the crater floor was visible in satellite images and hadn’t significantly changed since the 27 January overflight. On 20 February a minor explosion was recorded at 1805, and a moderate explosion at 2331 ejected incandescent material onto the upper flanks. A series of five minor explosions were recorded at 0027, 0052, 0252, 0401, and 0529 on 21 February. Ash fell in Amecameca (19 km NW), in the State of Mexico, during 20-21 February. 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.
0.077°S, 77.656°W | Summit elev. 3562 m
IG described the ongoing eruption at Reventador as moderate during 14-21 February. Seismicity was characterized by explosions, long-period earthquakes, periods of harmonic tremor, and signals that indicated emissions. Steam, gas, and ash plumes were observed in IG webcam images and described in Washington VAAC volcanic activity notifications during 14-19 February; weather conditions occasionally prevented views. The plumes rose as high as 1.6 km above the summit and drifted in multiple directions. A lava flow on the NE flank was visibly active during 14-15 February. Crater incandescence was visible almost nightly and incandescent blocks were seen rolling as far as 800 m down the flanks in all directions during the beginning of the week. Weather clouds prevented visual observations of the volcano during 20-21 February. Servicio Nacional de Gestión de Riesgos y Emergencias (SNGRE) maintained the Alert Level at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale).
Geological summary: Volcán El 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 stratovolcano has a 4-km-wide avalanche scarp open to the E formed by edifice collapse. A young, unvegetated, cone rises from the amphitheater floor about 1,300 m to a height comparable to the rim. It has been the source of numerous lava flows as well as explosive eruptions visible from Quito, about 90 km ESE. Frequent lahars in this region of heavy rainfall have constructed a debris plain on the eastern floor of the scarp. The largest recorded 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.
15.787°S, 71.857°W | Summit elev. 5960 m
Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP) reported moderate levels of activity at Sabancaya during 13-19 February with a daily average of 51 explosions. Gas-and-ash plumes rose as high as 2.6 km above the summit and drifted in multiple directions. Four thermal anomalies originating from the lava dome in the summit crater were identified in satellite data. The Alert Level remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale) and the public was warned to stay outside of a 12-km radius.
Geological summary: Sabancaya, located in the saddle NE of Ampato and SE of Hualca Hualca volcanoes, is the youngest of these volcanic centers and the only one to have erupted in historical time. The oldest of the three, Nevado Hualca Hualca, is of probable late-Pliocene to early Pleistocene age. The name Sabancaya (meaning “tongue of fire” in the Quechua language) first appeared in records in 1595 CE, suggesting activity prior to that date. Holocene activity has consisted of Plinian eruptions followed by emission of voluminous andesitic and dacitic lava flows, which form an extensive apron around the volcano on all sides but the south. Records of historical eruptions date back to 1750.
2.005°S, 78.341°W | Summit elev. 5286 m
IG reported a high level of activity at Sangay during 14-21 February, which included daily explosions, long-period earthquakes, periods of tremor, and gas, steam, and ash emissions. The daily count of explosions ranged from 30-56, though the daily seismic data transmission was sometimes interrupted. Almost daily gas, steam, and ash plumes were either observed in IG webcam images or described in Washington VAAC volcanic activity notifications; weather clouds often prevented observations of the summit. The plumes rose as high as 1.8 km above the volcano and drifted mainly E, SE, and W. Multiple thermal anomalies were identified in satellite images on most days. Incandescence from the crater, a 500-m-long lava flow on the SE flank, and rolling blocks were visible during the nights of 14-15 and 18-19 February. 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 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 the open 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 eroded by heavy rains into steep-walled canyons up to 600 m deep. The earliest report of an eruption was in 1628. Almost 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 seismicity at Semisopochnoi’s Mount Young was low during 14-21 February, and steam emissions were visible in webcam images almost daily. On 22 February the Aviation Color Code was lowered to Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale) and the Volcano Alert Level was lowered to Advisory (the second highest level on a four-level scale). AVO noted that no significant tremor, ash emissions, or explosive activity had been recorded since late January.
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 the 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 (renamed Mount Young in 2023) was constructed within the caldera during the Holocene. Each of the peaks contains a summit crater; lava flows on the N flank 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 Young, 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 the ongoing eruption at Sheveluch during 9-16 February 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 13-20 February. Occasional ashfall and rumbling noises were reported in Toshima village (3.5 km SSW). The number of explosions per day increased on 13 February and then gradually decreased beginning on 16 February; a total of about 24 explosions occurred during the week. At 2131 on 15 February an explosion produced an ash plume that rose 1.3 km above the crater rim and ejected large blocks as far as 900 m SE. An explosion around an hour later, at 2237, ejected large blocks as far as 700 m SE. During 18-20 February explosions produced ash plumes that rose as high as 2 km above the crater rim and ejected large blocks as far as 400 m from the vent. Crater incandescence was visible at night. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a 5-level scale) and residents were warned to stay 1 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.
Villarrica, Central Chile
39.42°S, 71.93°W | Summit elev. 2847 m
The eruption at Villarrica was ongoing during 15-21 February. POVI reported that on 17 February Strombolian explosions ejected material 100 m above the crater rim and onto the upper SW flank. Webcam images on 20 February showed two separate fountains of incandescent material, suggesting that a second vent had opened to the E of the first vent. Spatter was ejected as high as 80 m above the crater rim and onto the upper NE flank. A sequence of Strombolian explosions was visible from 2030 on 20 February to 0630 on 21 February. Material was ejected as high as 80 m above the crater rim and onto the upper E flank. The Alert Level remained at Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale) according to SERNAGEOMIN. ONEMI maintained the Alert Level at Yellow (the middle level on a three-color scale) for the municipalities of Villarrica, Pucón (16 km N), Curarrehue, and the commune of Panguipulli.
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.
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report – February 15 – 21, 2023 – Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
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