The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: May 3 – 9, 2023

the weekly volcanic activity report

New activity/unrest was reported for 6 volcanoes from May 3 to 9, 2023. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 16 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Bulusan, Luzon (Philippines) | Fuego, South-Central Guatemala | Gamalama, Halmahera | Kadovar, Northeast of New Guinea | Kanlaon, Philippines | Katla, Iceland.

Ongoing activity: Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Cotopaxi, Ecuador | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Etna, Sicily (Italy) | Great Sitkin, Andreanof Islands (USA) | Ibu, Halmahera | Lewotolok, Lembata Island | Merapi, Central Java | Raung, Eastern Java | Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica | Sabancaya, Peru | Santa Maria, Southwestern Guatemala | Semeru, Eastern Java | Semisopochnoi, Aleutian Islands (USA) | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan).

New activity/unrest

Bulusan, Luzon (Philippines)

12.769°N, 124.056°E | Summit elev. 1535 m

PHIVOLCS reported that during 7-9 May the seismic network at Bulusan recorded a total of 17 volcanic earthquakes at depths of 0-5.2 km beneath the E flank. Six of the earthquakes were tornillo-type events associated with gas movement and the other 11 events were volcano-tectonic earthquakes associated with rock fracturing. Diffuse white steam plumes rose from the active vents in the summit crater. The Alert Level was lowered to 0 (the lowest level on a scale of 0-5) on 18 January and remained unchanged. PHIVOLCS reminded the public not to enter the 4-km-radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ).

Geological summary: Luzon’s southernmost volcano, Bulusan, was constructed along the rim of the 11-km-diameter dacitic-to-rhyolitic Irosin caldera, which was formed about 36,000 years ago. It lies at the SE end of the Bicol volcanic arc occupying the peninsula of the same name that forms the elongated SE tip of Luzon. A broad, flat moat is located below the topographically prominent SW rim of Irosin caldera; the NE rim is buried by the andesitic complex. Bulusan is flanked by several other large intracaldera lava domes and cones, including the prominent Mount Jormajan lava dome on the SW flank and Sharp Peak to the NE. The summit is unvegetated and contains a 300-m-wide, 50-m-deep crater. Three small craters are located on the SE flank. Many moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the mid-19th century.

Fuego, South-Central Guatemala

14.473°N, 90.88°W | Summit elev. 3763 m

INSIVUMEH reported that activity at Fuego during 2-9 May included intense explosions, dense ash emissions, lava effusion, pyroclastic flows, and lahars. During 1-3 May there were 5-8 weak explosions per hour generating dense ash plumes that rose more than 1 km above the summit and drifted to 10-15 km W, SW, and S. Explosions were accompanied by rumbling sounds and shockwaves that vibrated nearby houses. During the morning and night incandescent material was visible 100-200 m above the crater. Avalanches descended the Ceniza (SSW) and Las Lajas (SE) drainages, sometimes reaching vegetated areas. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind including Panimache I and II (8 km SW), Morelia (9 km SW), Santa Sofía (12 km SW), El Porvenir (8 km ENE), Finca Palo Verde, Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW), and Yepocapa (8 km N). In the early afternoon (around 1500) on 2 May lahars descended the Las Lajas and El Jute (ESE) drainages, carrying branches, tree trunks, and blocks 30 cm to 1.5 m in diameter; about 30 minutes later similar lahars descended the Ceniza drainage. At 1618 a weak-to-moderate pyroclastic flow traveled down the Ceniza and an associated ash plume drifted W and SW. Within 30 minutes after the pyroclastic flow a lahar descended the Seca (W), carrying tree trunks and branches, and blocks up to 1.5 m in diameter.

Activity intensified at around 0200 on 4 May with a new effusive phase; by 0510 a lava flow was traveling down the Ceniza drainage, incandescent material rose above the summit, avalanches were continuous, and ash-and-gas plumes drifted SW. At around 0700 weak-to-moderate pyroclastic flows descended the Ceniza and within 1.5 hours pyroclastic flows also descended the Las Lajas. Ashfall was reported on W-flank farms and communities including Finca La Asunción, La Rochela, Panimaché I and II, Morelia, Santa Sofía, as well as others at a greater distance such as San Rafael Sumatán (19 km WSW) and San Pedro Yepocapa. By 1000 moderate-to-strong pyroclastic flows were descending the W-flank Seca and Santa Teresa ravines. Loud rumbling sounds and shock waves were reported by local residents. Ashfall continued in communities near the Ceniza and Las Lajas ravines. Ash plumes rose 2.2 km above summit and drifted more than 50 km W and SW.

Activity continued at a high level and as of a special report posted at 1235 ash plumes were still rising more than 2.2 m above the summit. Pyroclastic flows were continuing and had traveled 5-7 km down the Ceniza, Las Lajas, Seca and Santa Teresa (W) drainages; the most intense pyroclastic flow had descended the Ceniza drainage minutes earlier. The ash plumes were identified in satellite images drifting more than 100 km W and SW. Significant ashfall continued in communities downwind and minor ashfall was reported in several municipalities of the department of Suchitepéquez.

The last pyroclastic flow descended the Ceniza at 1530. Avalanches continued to be seen and heard descending multiple flanks. Ash deposits up to 2 mm thick were noted on crops, houses, and streets. Activity began to wane at about 1800, though explosions continued to produce ash plumes that rose 1.2 km above the summit. The leading edge of the ash plume was 200 km W and SW of the volcano. According to CONRED, about 1,200 residents were preemptively evacuated from their homes in San Pedro Yepocapa, Chimaltenango (21 km NNE), Panimaché I and II, El Porvenir, and Morelia. According to news articles, a section of the RN-14 highway was closed from kilometer 84 of San Juan Alotenango, Sacatepequez (9 km ENE) to kilometer 95 in Escuintla due to the pyroclastic flows. An estimated 130,000 people lived within areas exposed to ashfall.

Activity during the morning of 5 May was characterized by some weak-to-moderate explosions, ash plumes that rose 850 m above the summit, crater incandescence, and ash in the air in communities around the Ceniza, Seca, and Las Lajas drainages. Ashfall continued to impact agriculture and infrastructure in Panimaché I, Morelia, Santa Sofía, La Rochela, Los Yucales, El Porvenir, Ceylon, Finca Asunción (12 km SW), Yepocapa, Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa (22 km SW), Siquinalá (21 km SSW), and other nearby communities. By 1230 data from seismic and infrasound monitoring networks, webcam images, satellite data, and reports from observers in the field all indicated that activity had returned to normal levels. Weak explosions at a rate of 5-6 per hour produced minor ash plumes that rose as high as 850 m and drifted 30 km W. On 6 May weak explosion generated ash plumes that rose 750 m and drifted 10 km W and SW. The lava flow was no longer incandescent. According to a news report, residents returned to their communities that same day. During 7-9 May weak explosions continued to produce ash plumes that rose as high as 750 m above the summit and drifted W and SW. Minor avalanches descended the Ceniza and crater incandescence was occasionally observed.

Geological summary: Volcán Fuego, one of Central America’s most active volcanoes, is also one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala’s former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between Fuego and Acatenango to the north. Construction of Meseta dates back to about 230,000 years and continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Collapse of Meseta may have produced the massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit, which extends about 50 km onto the Pacific coastal plain. Growth of the modern Fuego volcano followed, continuing the southward migration of volcanism that began at the mostly andesitic Acatenango. Eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.

Gamalama, Halmahera

0.8°N, 127.33°E | Summit elev. 1715 m

PVMBG reported that the number of deep volcanic earthquakes at Gamalama increased during 1-3 May. The seismic network recorded 11 deep volcanic earthquakes on 1 May and 14 on 2 May. During 0000-0900 on 3 May the network recorded five deep volcanic earthquakes, one shallow volcanic earthquake, five events indicating emissions, and one low-frequency earthquake. Diffuse white gas-and-steam plumes rose as high as 100 m; typically, these emissions rose as high as 300 m. PVMBG noted that the most likely hazard would be a phreatic event that could ejected material within the 1.5-km radius, though ash may be carried farther. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4); visitors and residents were warned not to approach the crater within a 1.5-km radius.

Geological summary: Gamalama is a near-conical stratovolcano that comprises the entire island of Ternate off the western coast of Halmahera, and is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes. The island was a major regional center in the Portuguese and Dutch spice trade for several centuries, which contributed to the thorough documentation of Gamalama’s historical activity. Three cones, progressively younger to the north, form the summit. Several maars and vents define a rift zone, parallel to the Halmahera island arc, that cuts the volcano. Eruptions, recorded frequently since the 16th century, typically originated from the summit craters, although flank eruptions have occurred in 1763, 1770, 1775, and 1962-63.

Kadovar, Northeast of New Guinea

3.608°S, 144.588°E | Summit elev. 365 m

Based on satellite and wind model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that at 2040 on 6 May a discrete ash plume from Kadovar rose to an altitude of 4.6 km (15,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W. The plume had dissipated by 2300.

Geological summary: The 2-km-wide island of Kadovar is the emergent summit of a Bismarck Sea stratovolcano of Holocene age. It is part of the Schouten Islands, and lies off the coast of New Guinea, about 25 km N of the mouth of the Sepik River. Prior to an eruption that began in 2018, a lava dome formed the high point of the andesitic volcano, filling an arcuate landslide scarp open to the south; submarine debris-avalanche deposits occur in that direction. Thick lava flows with columnar jointing forms low cliffs along the coast. The youthful island lacks fringing or offshore reefs. A period of heightened thermal phenomena took place in 1976. An eruption began in January 2018 that included lava effusion from vents at the summit and at the E coast.

Kanlaon, Philippines

10.412°N, 123.132°E | Summit elev. 2435 m

PHIVOLCS issued a special notice for Kanlaon at 2030 on 4 May, noting increased seismicity and ground deformation, and ongoing elevated sulfur dioxide emissions. Ground deformation data from continuous GPS and electronic tilt data indicated short-term inflation of the lower and mid-flanks of the volcano since March, though during the second week of April inflation was pronounced at the SE mid-flank. Real-time, continuous gas monitoring of thermal springs on the N flank detected sulfur dioxide for the first time beginning in April. Sulfur dioxide emissions at the summit crater averaged 632 tonnes per day on 1 May, lower than the average of 1,099 tonnes per day measured the day before, but higher than the average of 124 tonnes per day emitted since March. The seismic network detected 20 shallow volcanic earthquakes (M 1.2-2.4) beneath the summit crater between 2225 on 3 May until 1600 on 4 May. The Alert Level remained at 1 (on a scale of 0-5) and PHIVOLCS reminded the public to remain outside of the 4-km-radius Permanent Danger Zone.

Geological summary: Kanlaon volcano (also spelled Canlaon), the most active of the central Philippines, forms the highest point on the island of Negros. The massive andesitic stratovolcano is dotted with fissure-controlled pyroclastic cones and craters, many of which are filled by lakes. The largest debris avalanche known in the Philippines traveled 33 km SW from Kanlaon. The summit contains a 2-km-wide, elongated northern caldera with a crater lake and a smaller, but higher, historically active vent, Lugud crater, to the south. Historical eruptions, recorded since 1866, have typically consisted of phreatic explosions of small-to-moderate size that produce minor ashfalls near the volcano.

Katla, Iceland

63.633°N, 19.083°W | Summit elev. 1490 m

Iceland Met Office (IMO) reported that an intense seismic swarm began at Katla at 0941 on 4 May with three earthquakes larger than M 4 occurring beneath the caldera within about 10 minutes. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Yellow, the second lowest level on a four-color scale. According to a news article the three largest events were magnitudes 4.8, 4.7, and 4.5, adjusted from previous estimates of 4.5, 4.3, and 4.2. The larger earthquakes were felt in Thórsmörk and by residents in areas S of Mýrdalsjökull glacier (the glacier that covers Katla). The intensity of the events decreased after noon, though smaller earthquakes continued. Seismicity had decreased significantly by the next day with only five events recorded during 0000-0915 on 5 May. In an update posted at 1140 the activity was described as normal, and the Aviation Color Code was lowered to Green. More than 40 earthquakes had been recorded during the previous day and no other data indicated significant changes or anomalies. It was noted that the magnitudes were unusually large and similar to events that last occurred in 2016.

Geological summary: Katla volcano, located near the southern end of Iceland’s eastern volcanic zone, is hidden beneath the Myrdalsjökull icecap. The subglacial basaltic-to-rhyolitic volcano is one of Iceland’s most active and is a frequent producer of damaging jökulhlaups, or glacier-outburst floods. A large 10 x 14 km subglacial caldera with a long axis in a NW-SE direction is up to 750 m deep. Its high point reaches 1380 m, and three major outlet glaciers have breached its rim. Although most historical eruptions have taken place from fissures inside the caldera, the Eldgjá fissure system, which extends about 60 km to the NE from the current ice margin towards Grímsvötn volcano, has been the source of major Holocene eruptions. An eruption from the Eldgjá fissure system about 934 CE produced a voluminous lava flow of about 18 km3, one of the world’s largest known Holocene lava flows. Katla has been the source of frequent subglacial basaltic explosive eruptions that have been among the largest tephra-producers in Iceland during historical time and has also produced numerous dacitic explosive eruptions during the Holocene.

Ongoing activity

Aira, Kyushu (Japan)

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

JMA reported that Minamidake Crater and Showa Crater (Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) remained active during 1-8 May. Crater incandescence was observed nightly at Minamidake Crater. Three explosions at Minamidake during 2-3 May produced small shock waves and ash plumes. The explosion at 0422 on 2 May generated an ash plume that rose 1.8 km above the crater rim and drifted SW, and ejected blocks 500-700 m from the vent. The explosion at 0241 on 3 May produced an ash plume that rose 800 m and ejected blocks to 500-700 m from the vent. Later that morning, at 1025, an explosion produced an ash plume that rose 500 m and drifted W. An ash plume from an eruptive event at 2337 on 7 May rose 1 km. At Showa Crater very small eruptive events were recorded during 1-5 May, and three eruptive events on 8 May produced ash plumes that rose as high as 1.2 km above the crater rim and drifted S and SW. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale), and residents were warned to stay 2 km away from both craters.

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.

Cotopaxi, Ecuador

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

IG reported that moderate eruptive activity continued at Cotopaxi during 2-9 May. Seismic activity was largely dominated by long-period earthquakes, tremors indicating emissions, and a few volcano-tectonic earthquakes. Emissions of steam, gas, and variable amounts of ash were observed daily. During 2-3 May minor ash plumes rose less than 200 m above the crater rim and drifted W. On 4 May ash plumes rose as high as 1.5 km above the crater rim and drifted SW and NW, drifting as far as the province of Manabí. On 5 May several emissions with low ash content rose as high as 300 m and drifted SW. On 7 May ash plumes rose as high as 1.1 km above the crater rim and drifted W and SW, causing minor ashfall in areas downwind including Mulaló. On 8 May a seismic station recorded a small secondary lahar. Several steam-and-gas emissions were visible during 8-9 May. 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 27 April-4 May. A thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images on 3 May. According to volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island, about 7 km E) explosions during 3-4 May generated ash plumes that rose as high as 4 km (13,100 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW and E. 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 a sudden explosion at Etna’s SE Crater occurred at 2325 on 6 May and produced a diffuse ash emission that rapidly dispersed around the crater area. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Yellow at 2358 and then lowered back to Green at 1148 on 7 May. Neither seismic nor infrasound data recorded changes associated with the explosion.

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 lava continued to erupt at the summit of Great Sitkin during 2-9 May. Satellite data acquired on 5 May showed that the thick lava continued to expand towards the E but remained confined to the summit crater. Seismicity was low, and during 7-8 May only a few small events were detected. Nothing significant was seen in satellite and webcam images during most of the week, though sometimes weather clouds obscured views. 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.

Ibu, Halmahera

1.488°N, 127.63°E | Summit elev. 1325 m

PVMBG reported that the eruption at Ibu continued during 3-9 May. White-and-gray plumes of variable densities rose as high as 800 m above the summit and drifted in several directions. The Alert Level remained at a 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to stay at least 2 km away from the active crater and 3.5 km away on the N side.

Geological summary: The truncated summit of Gunung Ibu stratovolcano along the NW coast of Halmahera Island has large nested summit craters. The inner crater, 1 km wide and 400 m deep, has contained several small crater lakes. The 1.2-km-wide outer crater is breached on the N, creating a steep-walled valley. A large cone grew ENE of the summit, and a smaller one to the WSW has fed a lava flow down the W flank. A group of maars is located below the N and W flanks. The first observed and recorded eruption was a small explosion from the summit crater in 1911. Eruptive activity began again in December 1998, producing a lava dome that eventually covered much of the floor of the inner summit crater along with ongoing explosive ash emissions.

Lewotolok, Lembata Island

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

PVMBG reported that the eruption at Lewotolok was ongoing during 3-9 May. Daily white-and-gray or dark gray ash plumes rose as high as 800 m above the summit and drifted NW, W, and SW. Webcam images of incandescent material being ejected above the summit were posted in daily reports during 7-8 May. 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.

Merapi, Central Java

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

BPPTKG reported that the eruption at Merapi (on Java) continued during 28 April-4 May and seismicity remained at elevated levels. The SW lava dome produced 190 lava avalanches that traveled as far as 2.5 km down the SW flank (upstream in the Bebeng and Boyong drainages). One pyroclastic flow traveled 2.5 km down the Bebeng drainage. Morphological changes to the SW lava dome due to continuing collapses of material 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.

Raung, Eastern Java

8.119°S, 114.056°E | Summit elev. 3260 m

PVMBG reported that during 1-30 April white steam-and-gas plumes of moderate intensity rose as high as 200 m above Raung’s summit. Monitoring data along with visual observations did not suggest elevated levels of activity. The Alert Level was lowered to 1 (on a scale of 1-4) on 2 May and the pubic was reminded to stay 500 m away from the crater.

Geological summary: Raung, one of Java’s most active volcanoes, is a massive stratovolcano in easternmost Java that was constructed SW of the rim of Ijen caldera. The unvegetated summit is truncated by a dramatic steep-walled, 2-km-wide caldera that has been the site of frequent historical eruptions. A prehistoric collapse of Gunung Gadung on the W flank produced a large debris avalanche that traveled 79 km, reaching nearly to the Indian Ocean. Raung contains several centers constructed along a NE-SW line, with Gunung Suket and Gunung Gadung stratovolcanoes being located to the NE and W, respectively.

Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica

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

OVSICORI-UNA reported that phreatic eruptions occurred a few times at Rincón de la Vieja during 3-9 May. Phreatic events were recorded at 0100 and 2254 on 3 May, and at 1434 on 8 May, though darkness or weather clouds prevented visual confirmation. A small phreatic event occurred at 1847 on 6 May.

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.

Sabancaya, Peru

15.787°S, 71.857°W | Summit elev. 5960 m

Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP) reported moderate levels of activity at Sabancaya during 1-7 May with a daily average of 23 explosions. Gas-and-ash plumes rose as high as 2 km above the summit and drifted N, E, and SE. Three 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 were 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.

Santa Maria, Southwestern Guatemala

14.757°N, 91.552°W | Summit elev. 3745 m

INSIVUMEH reported that the eruption at Santa María’s Santiaguito lava-dome complex continued during 2-9 May. Effusion from the Caliente dome complex fed lava flows that descended the San Isidro and Zanjón Seco drainages on the W and SW flanks; the main lava flow was 4.3 km long and remained active. Daily weak-to-moderate explosions generated ash-and-steam plumes that generally rose as high as 800 m and drifted SW. The explosions were also accompanied by block-and-ash flows that descended multiple flanks of the dome. Incandescence from the dome and the lava flows was visible each morning and night. Avalanches of material from the lava-flow front and margins caused ash plumes around the flanks. Activity during 5-6 May was characterized by high levels of extrusive and explosive activity; 40 explosions were recorded, producing ash plumes that rose 3.5 km above the dome and drifted SW. Ashfall was reported in San Marcos Palajunoj (8 km SW), Loma Linda (7 km W), and other nearby communities. During 6-7 May quiet rumbling sounds were heard on nearby farms. Residents were warned to stay 6 km away from the lava-dome complex.

Geological summary: Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is part of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rise above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The sharp-topped, conical profile is cut on the SW flank by a 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank, and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned Plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four vents, with activity progressing W towards the most recent, Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Semeru, Eastern Java

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

PVMBG reported that the eruption at Semeru continued during 3-9 May and a few Volcano Observatory Notices for Aviation (VONAs) describing ash emissions were issued during the week. At 0546 on 4 May a dense white-to-gray ash plume rose 1 km above the summit and drifted S. At 0521 on 5 May and at both 0839 and 2315 on 7 May medium-to-dense white-to-gray ash plumes rose 600 m and drifted S, SW, and W. At 0809 and 0922 white-to-gray ash plumes rose 300-600 m and drifted S and W. 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 in all directions, 13 km from the summit to the SE, 100 m from the banks of the Kobokan drainage as far as 17 km from the summit, and to avoid 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.

Semisopochnoi, Aleutian Islands (USA)

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

AVO reported that low-level unrest continued at Semisopochnoi during 2-9 May, though it was seismically quiet for the most part, with only occasional small earthquakes. Cloudy weather often obscured satellite views. Steam emissions from the N crater of Mount Young were visible in partially clear webcam images during 3-6 May. A new NW-flank ash deposit was present on fresh snow; no signs of explosive activity were seen in geophysical data. 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: 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 (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 was generally characterized by occasional explosions, continuing lava-dome growth, incandescence, and strong fumarolic activity during 27 April-4 May. A thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images all week. Satellite data showed a gas-and-steam plume with some ash drifting 60 km SE at 2350 on 29 April. The Kamchatka Volcanological Station posted pictures and video taken during a 4 May overflight that showed three active fumaroles on the dome. Low weather clouds obscured parts of the dome area. Photos showed tephra-fall on surrounding lakes, rivers, and forests, and it was noted that lahar deposits blocked a road W of the volcano. 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 1-8 May, and crater incandescence was reported nightly. No explosions were recorded during 1-5 May, but eruptive activity produced periodic ash plumes that rose as high as 1.6 km above the crater rim and ejected blocks 300 m from the crater. Explosions at 0701, 1200, 2001, and 2330 on 8 May generated ash plumes that rose as high as 1 km and drifted SE and SW. Explosions also occurred at 1358 and 1648, though no associated emissions were reported. 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.


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report – May 3 – 9, 2023 – Managing editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

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