The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: September 20 – 26, 2023

the weekly volcanic activity report

New activity/unrest was reported for 2 volcanoes from September 20 to 26, 2023. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 21 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Ruby, Mariana Islands (USA) | Villarrica, Central Chile.

Ongoing activity: Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Erta Ale, Ethiopia | Great Sitkin, Andreanof Islands (USA) | Ibu, Halmahera | Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Lewotolok, Lembata Island | Mayon, Luzon (Philippines) | Merapi, Central Java | Nyamulagira, DR Congo | Nyiragongo, DR Congo | Popocatepetl, Mexico | Reventador, Ecuador | Sangay, Ecuador | Semeru, Eastern Java | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Shishaldin, Fox Islands (USA) | Stromboli, Aeolian Islands (Italy) | Suwanosejima, Ryukyu Islands (Japan) | Taal, Luzon (Philippines) | Ulawun, New Britain (Papua New Guinea).

New activity/unrest

Ruby, Mariana Islands (USA)

15.605°N, 145.572°E | Summit elev. -209 m

The US Geological Survey reported that no activity had been detected at Ruby in regional seismic and infrasound data or in satellite imagery since the 14-16 September submarine eruption. The plume of discolored water that had detached from the source vent on 16 September drifted E and dispersed; it was between Saipan and Anatahan during 21-22 September, faintly visible N and NNE of Saipan during 23-25 September, and no longer visible by 26 September. The Volcano Alert Level remained at Advisory (the second level on a four-level scale) and the Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow (the second level on a four-color scale).

Geological summary: Ruby is a basaltic submarine volcano that rises to within about 200 m of the ocean surface near the southern end of the Mariana arc NW of Saipan. An eruption was detected in 1966 by sonar signals (Norris and Johnson, 1969). In 1995 submarine explosions were heard, accompanied by a fish kill, sulfurous odors, bubbling water, and the detection of volcanic tremor.

Villarrica, Central Chile

39.42°S, 71.93°W | Summit elev. 2847 m

SERNAGEOMIN reported that the eruption in Villarrica’s summit crater intensified during 20-26 September. A long-period (LP) earthquake associated with fluid movement, recorded by the seismic network at 0914 on 20 September, was accompanied by a short grayish-brown pyroclastic emission that rose 50 m above the crater rim and drifted SSE. Whitish gas emissions were visible before and after the event. Another LP event was recorded at 1012 on 21 September, but weather conditions prevented visual observations.

A sustained increase in seismicity was recorded throughout the day on 23 September. Several discrete, low-altitude ash emissions were visible rising to heights less than 150 m above the crater rim and drifting SE. Some notable emissions occurred at 0841, 0910, 1251, 1306, 1312, 1315, and 1324. Diffuse gas emissions were visible in webcam images. During 23-24 September RSAM values reached high levels, Strombolian explosions ejected material onto the upper flanks near the crater, and thermal anomalies intensified. On 24 September the Volcanic Alert Level was raised to Orange (the third level on a four-level scale) and the exclusion zone was increased to an 8-km radius. SENAPRED maintained the Alert Level at Yellow (the middle level on a three-color scale) for the communities of Villarrica, Pucón (16 km N), Curarrehue, and Panguipulli. During 24-26 September seismicity stabilized then decreased slightly, though it remained at high levels. During the early morning of 25 September Strombolian explosions ejected incandescent material up to 250 above the crater rim and onto the upper flanks, mainly to the NW. Strombolian explosions continued to be recorded on 26 September. A continuous ash emission drifted ENE for a period of 50 minutes. Thermal anomalies continued to be identified in satellite data.

Geological summary: The glacier-covered Villarrica stratovolcano, in the northern Lakes District of central Chile, is ~15 km south of the city of Pucon. A 2-km-wide caldera that formed about 3,500 years ago is located at the base of the presently active, dominantly basaltic to basaltic-andesite cone at the NW margin of a 6-km-wide Pleistocene caldera. More than 30 scoria cones and fissure vents are present on 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. Eruptions documented since 1558 CE 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.

Ongoing activity

Aira, Kyushu (Japan)

31.5772°N, 130.6589°E | Summit elev. 1117 m

JMA reported ongoing activity at Minamidake Crater (Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) during 18-25 September and incandescence at the crater was observed nightly. Very small eruptive events were recorded during the week. Sulfur dioxide emissions averaged 1,800 tons per day on 19 September. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale), and the public was 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 caldera, along with several post-caldera cones. The construction of Sakurajima began about 13,000 years ago on the southern rim and built an island that was joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kitadake summit cone ended about 4,850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minamidake. Frequent eruptions since the 8th century have deposited ash on the city of Kagoshima, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest recorded eruption took place during 1471-76.

Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia)

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

KVERT reported that moderate explosive activity at Ebeko was ongoing during 14-21 September. According to volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island, about 7 km E), explosions during 14-18 September generated ash plumes that rose as high as 2.5 km (8,200 ft) a.s.l and drifted to the E. A thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images on 15 and 18 September; weather clouds obscured views on other days. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the third 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.

Erta Ale, Ethiopia

13.601°N, 40.666°E | Summit elev. 585 m

Two small thermal anomalies in Erta Ale’s S pit crater were identified in satellite images on 15 September. A 20 September image showed small anomalies in both the N and S pit craters, and a possible lava lake in the N pit crater that had mostly been crusted over. A large thermal anomaly in the SE part of the N pit crater was identified in a 25 September image. The anomaly suggested that lava had spilled over the SE rim of the crater and flowed short distances (possibly less than 400 m) E and SE.

Geological summary: The Erta Ale basaltic shield volcano in Ethiopia has a 50-km-wide edifice that rises more than 600 m from below sea level in the Danakil depression. The volcano includes a 0.7 x 1.6 km summit crater hosting steep-sided pit craters. Another larger 1.8 x 3.1 km wide depression elongated parallel to the trend of the Erta Ale range is located SE of the summit and is bounded by curvilinear fault scarps on the SE side. Basaltic lava flows from these fissures have poured into the caldera and locally overflowed its rim. The summit caldera usually also holds at least one long-term lava lake that has been active since at least 1967, and possibly since 1906. Recent fissure eruptions have occurred on the N flank.

Great Sitkin, Andreanof Islands (USA)

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

AVO reported that slow lava effusion continued at Great Sitkin during 19-26 September, producing a thick flow in the summit crater that mainly expanded E. Seismicity was characterized as low with only a few daily earthquakes recorded by the seismic network during 24-25 September. Elevated surface temperatures and minor steaming were visible in webcam and satellite images on a few of the days; weather clouds sometimes obscured views. The Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch (the third level on a four-level scale) and the Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the third color 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 Ibu continued to erupt during 20-26 September. Daily white-and-gray ash emissions of variable densities generally rose as high as 800 m above the summit and drifted NE, N, and W. At 0712 on 25 September a dense gray ash plume rose 1.5 km and drifted NE. The Alert Level remained at a 2 (the second highest level on a four-level scale), with the public advised to stay outside of the 2 km hazard zone and 3.5 km away from the N area of the active crater.

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.

Klyuchevskoy, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

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

KVERT reported that the explosive Strombolian eruption at Klyuchevskoy continued 14-21 September. A daily bright thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images. Lava fountaining fed flows that advanced down the Kozyrevsky drainage on the SE flank. Plumes of resuspended ash (deposited on the volcano’s N flanks from Sheveluch’s 10-13 April eruption) drifted 50 km E on 22 September, prompting KVERT to raise the Aviation Color Code to Orange (the third level on a four-color scale). The Aviation Color Code was lowered back to Yellow on 24 September; Strombolian activity continued to feed the lava flow. Dates are based on UTC times; specific events are in local time where noted.

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.

Lewotolok, Lembata Island

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

PVMBG reported that the eruption at Lewotolok continued during 20-26 September. White-and-gray plumes of variable densities rose as high as 800 m above the summit and drifted in multiple directions on all days except 25 September when only white plumes were visible. A webcam image captured incandescent material being ejected above the summit at 2346 on 23 September. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4) and the public was warned to stay at least 2 km away from the 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.

Mayon, Luzon (Philippines)

13.257°N, 123.685°E | Summit elev. 2462 m

PHIVOLCS reported that the eruption at Mayon continued during 19-26 September. The lengths of the lava flow in the Mi-Isi (S), Bonga (SE), and Basud (E) drainages remained at 2.8 km, 3.4 km, and 1.1 km, respectively. Collapses at the lava dome and from the margins of the lava flows produced rockfalls and pyroclastic density currents (PDCs, or pyroclastic flows) that descended the flanks as far as 4 km. Each day seismic stations recorded 107-207 rockfall events, 0-6 PDC events, and 2-15 daily volcanic earthquakes. Sulfur dioxide emissions measured almost daily averaged between 868 and 1,507 tonnes per day, with the highest value recorded on 22 September. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 0-5 scale) and residents were reminded to stay away from the 6-km-radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ). PHIVOLCS recommended that civil aviation authorities advise pilots to avoid flying close to the summit.

Geological summary: Symmetrical Mayon, which rises above the Albay Gulf NW of Legazpi City, is the most active volcano of the Philippines. The steep upper slopes are capped by a small summit crater. Recorded eruptions since 1616 CE range from Strombolian to basaltic Plinian, with cyclical activity beginning with basaltic eruptions, followed by longer term andesitic lava flows. Eruptions occur predominately from the central conduit and have also produced lava flows that travel far down the flanks. Pyroclastic flows and mudflows have commonly swept down many of the approximately 40 ravines that radiate from the summit and have often damaged populated lowland areas. A violent eruption in 1814 killed more than 1,200 people and devastated several towns.

Merapi, Central Java

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

BPPTKG reported that the eruption at Merapi (on Java) continued during 15-21 September and seismicity remained at elevated levels. The SW lava dome produced a total of 148 lava avalanches that descended the S and SW flanks; two traveled as far as 1.3 km down the upper part of the Boyong drainage, 145 traveled as far as 2 km down the upper Bebeng drainage, and one traveled 1.4 km down the Sat/Putih drainage. Morphological changes to the SW lava dome were due to continuing collapses of material. 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.

Nyamulagira, DR Congo

1.408°S, 29.2°E | Summit elev. 3058 m

The Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG) reported that activity at Nyamulagira continued at low levels during 17-24 September based on satellite images.

Geological summary: Africa’s most active volcano, Nyamulagira (also known as Nyamuragira), is a massive high-potassium basaltic shield about 25 km N of Lake Kivu and 13 km NNW of the steep-sided Nyiragongo volcano. The summit is truncated by a small 2 x 2.3 km caldera that has walls up to about 100 m high. Documented eruptions have occurred within the summit caldera, as well as from the numerous flank fissures and cinder cones. A lava lake in the summit crater, active since at least 1921, drained in 1938, at the time of a major flank eruption. Recent lava flows extend down the flanks more than 30 km from the summit as far as Lake Kivu; extensive lava flows from this volcano have covered 1,500 km2 of the western branch of the East African Rift.

Nyiragongo, DR Congo

1.52°S, 29.25°E | Summit elev. 3470 m

The Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG) reported that the activity at Nyiragongo continued during 17-24 September at a low level. A diffuse sulfur dioxide plume with an estimated mass of 20 tons was identified in satellite data on 25 September.

Geological summary: One of Africa’s most notable volcanoes, Nyiragongo contained a lava lake in its deep summit crater that was active for half a century before draining catastrophically through its outer flanks in 1977. The steep slopes of a stratovolcano contrast to the low profile of its neighboring shield volcano, Nyamuragira. Benches in the steep-walled, 1.2-km-wide summit crater mark levels of former lava lakes, which have been observed since the late-19th century. Two older stratovolcanoes, Baruta and Shaheru, are partially overlapped by Nyiragongo on the north and south. About 100 parasitic cones are located primarily along radial fissures south of Shaheru, east of the summit, and along a NE-SW zone extending as far as Lake Kivu. Many cones are buried by voluminous lava flows that extend long distances down the flanks, which is characterized by the eruption of foiditic rocks. The extremely fluid 1977 lava flows caused many fatalities, as did lava flows that inundated portions of the major city of Goma in January 2002.

Popocatepetl, Mexico

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

CENAPRED reported that eruptive activity continued at Popocatépetl during 19-26 September. Long-period events totaling 151-640 per day were accompanied by steam-and-gas plumes that sometimes contained minor amounts of ash. Periods of volcanic tremor were recorded almost daily, often characterized as low-amplitude and high-frequency, and each lasted 37-297 minutes. One to two volcano-tectonic earthquakes per day were recorded during 19-22 September and had magnitudes of 1.4-2.5. A moderate explosion was recorded at 1305 on 21 September and a minor one was recorded later that day at 1704. A minor explosion occurred at 0907 on 22 September. During the morning of 24 September ash plumes drifted over the municipalities of Yautepec (50 km WSW), Cuautla (43 km SW), Ayala (45 km SW), and Yecapixtla (31 km SW), and possibly Tlaltizapán and Tlaquiltenango in the state of Morelos. Minor ashfall was reported in the municipalities of Tetela del Volcán (20 km SW) and Tepalcingo during the morning of 25 September and in Villa de Ayala later that day; the municipalities were in the state of Morelos. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two (the middle level on a three-color scale) and the public was warned to stay 12 km away from the crater.

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.

Reventador, Ecuador

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

IG-EPN reported that the eruption at Reventador was ongoing during 19-26 September. Seismicity was characterized by 22-49 daily explosions, long-period earthquakes, volcano-tectonic events, harmonic tremor, and tremor associated with emissions. Several daily ash-and-gas plumes rose 200-1,000 m above the crater rim and drifted in multiple directions. Daily crater incandescence was visible during both overnight and morning hours. Incandescent material descended the flanks, mainly to the E and SE, traveling as far as 500 m from the summit. Incandescent material was sometimes ejected 200-300 m above the crater rim. Weather conditions sometimes prevented views of the volcano. Secretaría de Gestión de Riesgos 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 4-km-wide avalanche scarp open to the E formed by edifice collapse. A young, unvegetated, cone rises from the amphitheater floor 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 left extensive deposits on the scarp slope. 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.

Sangay, Ecuador

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

IG-EPN reported a high level of eruptive activity at Sangay during 19-26 September, with seismic stations recording 311-641 daily explosions. Several daily ash-and-gas plumes rose as high as 2.6 km above the crater rim and drifted mainly NW, W, and SW, though during 25-26 September the plumes also drifted NNW. Webcam images showed incandescent material descending the SE flank as far as 1.8 km from the crater several times daily during overnight and early morning hours. Secretaría de Gestión de Riesgos maintained the Alert Level at Yellow (the second highest 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.

Semeru, Eastern Java

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

In a 23 September press release PVMBG noted that after pyroclastic flows occurred during 10-11 September activity at Semeru remained high; an average of 52 eruptive events per day were recorded during 11-23 September. Seismicity increased on 15 September. GPS monitoring stations recorded inflation at the volcano, originating from a source at a depth of 8 km, and substantial inflation was identified in satellite data on 16 September. White-and-gray or white-to-brown ash plumes generally rose 300-800 m above the summit and drifted N, NW, W, and SW during 20-21, 23, and 25-26 September. Plumes were notably higher on a few of the days, rising as high as 1 km above the summit at 0934 on 21 September and drifting N; at 0902, 0958, and 1042 on 25 September white-to-brown and darkish plumes rose as high as 1 km above the summit and drifted NW. The Alert Level remained at 3 (third highest 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, 500 m from the banks of the Kobokan drainage as far as 17 km from the summit, and to avoid other drainages 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.

Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

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

KVERT reported that the eruption at Sheveluch continued during 14-21 September. Thermal anomalies were identified in satellite images during 17-19 September; observations on other days were obscured by weather clouds. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the third 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.

Shishaldin, Fox Islands (USA)

54.756°N, 163.97°W | Summit elev. 2857 m

AVO reported that the eruption at Shishaldin continued during 20-26 September with activity increasing during the week and culminating in a notable eruption during 24-25 September. Seismicity remained elevated during 19-22 September, with tremor and small earthquakes detected by the seismic network. Elevated surface temperatures were identified in satellite images. Minor steaming and small volcanic debris flows on the upper flanks were visible in webcam images on 20 September, a small ash deposit on the upper flank was visible in images the next day.

Seismic tremor increased significantly during 22-23 September. Regional infrasound sensors suggested that low-level eruptive activity was likely occurring within the summit crater by around 1800 on 23 September. Even though seismicity was at high levels, strongly elevated surface temperatures indicating lava at the surface were absent and no ash emissions were detected, though weather clouds at 0.6-4.6 km a.s.l. obscured views. At 0025 on 24 September AVO noted that seismicity was continuing at high levels and nearly continuous small infrasound signals had begun to be detected, likely from low-level eruptive activity. Strongly elevated surface temperatures were identified in satellite images at least by 0900 and persisted throughout the day; the higher temperatures along with infrasound and seismic data were consistent with lava erupting at the summit. Highly elevated surface temperatures detected at around 1700 suggested the start of more vigorous lava fountaining. Beginning at around 1800 low-level ash emissions rose to altitudes less than 4.6 km (15,000 ft) a.s.l. and quickly dissipated. At around midnight seismic data indicated that lava flows were active on the N flank, and lava fountaining over the crater rim was visible during early morning hours on 25 September. At 0540 a significant ash plume began to rise from the summit prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Color Code to Red (the highest color on a four-color scale) and the Volcano Alert Level to Warning (the highest level on a four-level scale). The ash cloud produced lightning, quickly rose to 14 km (45,000 ft) a.s.l., and drifted E along the Alaska Peninsula. Seismicity dropped rapidly to near-background levels at around 0600. The ash plume detached from the summit at around 0700 and drifted ESE at an altitude of 11.6 km (38,000 ft) a.s.l. Ash emissions continued until about 0820, rising to 6.1-7.6 km (20,000-25,000 ft) a.s.l. Small explosions at the vent area continued to be detected in infrasound data. At noon the Volcano Alert Level was lowered to Watch and the Aviation Color Code was lowered to Orange. Trace to minor amounts of ashfall were reported by the communities of False Pass, King Cove, Cold Bay, and Sand Point.

Geological summary: The symmetrical glacier-covered Shishaldin is the highest and one of the most active volcanoes of the Aleutian Islands. It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes in the eastern half of Unimak Island. The Aleuts named the volcano Sisquk, meaning “mountain which points the way when I am lost.” Constructed atop an older glacially dissected edifice, it is largely basaltic in composition. Remnants of an older ancestral volcano are exposed on the W and NE sides at 1,500-1,800 m elevation. There are over two dozen pyroclastic cones on its NW flank, which is blanketed by massive aa lava flows. Frequent explosive activity, primarily consisting of Strombolian ash eruptions from the small summit crater, but sometimes producing lava flows, has been recorded since the 18th century. A steam plume often rises from the summit crater.

Stromboli, Aeolian Islands (Italy)

38.789°N, 15.213°E | Summit elev. 924 m

INGV reported that eruptive activity continued at Stromboli during 18-24 September. Webcam images showed Strombolian activity at three vents in Area N (two at N1 and one at N2), within the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco, and from three vents in Area C-S (South-Central Crater) in the crater terrace. Explosions of variable intensities that occurred at a rate of 8-12 per hour at Area N2 ejected mainly coarse material (bombs and lapilli), sometimes mixed with ash, up to 150 m above the vents. Spattering occurred at N1 and was intense on 24 September. High-intensity explosions in sector S2 (Area C-S) averaged 6-8 per hour from the vents, ejecting a mix of coarse material as high as 150 m. Material was deposited in a wide area along the crater terrace. The Dipartimento della Protezione Civile maintained the Alert Level at Yellow (the second highest level on a four-level scale).

Geological summary: Spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions at Stromboli have long attracted visitors to the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean” in the NE Aeolian Islands. This volcano has lent its name to the frequent mild explosive activity that has characterized its eruptions throughout much of historical time. The small island is the emergent summit of a volcano that grew in two main eruptive cycles, the last of which formed the western portion of the island. The Neostromboli eruptive period took place between about 13,000 and 5,000 years ago. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a prominent scarp that formed about 5,000 years ago due to a series of slope failures which extends to below sea level. The modern volcano has been constructed within this scarp, which funnels pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows to the NW. Essentially continuous mild Strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded for more than a millennium.

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 18-25 September. Eruptive events produced plumes that rose as high as 1.9 km above the crater rim and ejected blocks as far as 300 m from the crater. Crater incandescence was visible nightly. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a 5-level scale) and the public was warned to stay at least 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.

Taal, Luzon (Philippines)

14.0106°N, 120.9975°E | Summit elev. 311 m

PHIVOLCS reported ongoing unrest at Taal during 19-26 September. Upwelling gasses and hot fluids in the lake were visible during daily observations. Daily emissions of gas-and-steam rose from Main Crater Lake as high as 3 km and drifted in multiple directions. During 19-22 September there were 2-6 daily periods of volcanic tremor recorded by the seismic network, ranging from 4 minutes long to nearly 10 hours; no earthquakes were recorded during the rest of the week. Vog was reported almost daily, though conditions on 21 September prompted PHIVOLCS to issue a special notice. Starting at around 1230 on 21 September vog was present over Taal Lake. Sulfur dioxide emissions averaged 4,569 tonnes per day and a large sulfur dioxide cloud was identified in satellite images drifting W. PHIVOLCS noted that vog had been affecting the Taal region since the first week of September. The Alert Level remained at 1 (on a scale of 0-5), and PHIVOLCS reminded the public that the entire Taal Volcano Island was a Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ).

Geological summary: Taal is one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines and has produced some powerful eruptions. The 15 x 20 km Talisay (Taal) caldera is largely filled by Lake Taal, whose 267 km2 surface lies only 3 m above sea level. The maximum depth of the lake is 160 m, with several submerged eruptive centers. The 5-km-wide Volcano Island in north-central Lake Taal is the location of all observed eruptions. The island is composed of coalescing small stratovolcanoes, tuff rings, and scoria cones. Powerful pyroclastic flows and surges have caused many fatalities.

Ulawun, New Britain (Papua New Guinea)

5.05°S, 151.33°E | Summit elev. 2334 m

Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) reported that diffuse white emissions occasionally rose from the active vent at Ulawun’s summit crater from 1430 on 19 September through most of 25 September. Weather conditions sometimes prevented visual observations. Seismicity was characterized as low during the beginning of the reporting period, dominated by low-level, continuous volcanic tremors that were punctuated by occasional, small, low-frequency, volcanic events. The pattern of seismicity changed just before 1000 on 22 September with the emergence of very distinct, low-frequency volcanic earthquakes and short-duration, sub-continuous, volcanic tremors with increased amplitudes.

The amplitude of the continuous volcanic tremor fluctuated but slowly rose overall until about 1300 on 25 September when the increase became rapid. At around 1739 on 25 September a 4-5-km tall, white-to-pale-gray plume and minor incandescence at the summit vent were visible in webcam images. The incandescence intensified as the evening grew darker. The plume did not change and no ashfall was reported, suggesting low ash content. The incandescence intensified and became distinct in total darkness by 1830. Incandescent lava fragments around the summit crater area and a possible small lava flow on the upper N flank were visible; rumbling and roaring sounds were heard. The eruption was over by 2000. RSAM values peaked at 6,000 during the eruption; at the end of the activity seismicity decreased rapidly and was characterized by low levels of volcanic tremor. The Alert Level remained at Stage 1 (the lowest level on the four-level scale).

Geological summary: The symmetrical basaltic-to-andesitic Ulawun stratovolcano is the highest volcano of the Bismarck arc, and one of Papua New Guinea’s most frequently active. The volcano, also known as the Father, rises above the N coast of the island of New Britain across a low saddle NE of Bamus volcano, the South Son. The upper 1,000 m is unvegetated. A prominent E-W escarpment on the south may be the result of large-scale slumping. Satellitic cones occupy the NW and E flanks. A steep-walled valley cuts the NW side, and a flank lava-flow complex lies to the south of this valley. Historical eruptions date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions were mildly explosive until 1967, but after 1970 several larger eruptions produced lava flows and basaltic pyroclastic flows, greatly modifying the summit crater.


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey – Weekly Volcanic Activity Report – September 20 – 26, 2023 – Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Featured image credit: The Watchers


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