Blog note. Fearful sights in diverse places. Volcanoes. End of note.
New activity/unrest was reported for 4 volcanoes between August 22 and 28, 2018. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 14 volcanoes.
New activity/unrest: Etna, Sicily (Italy) | Krakatau, Indonesia | Manam, Papua New Guinea | Merapi, Central Java (Indonesia).
Ongoing activity: Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Ambrym, Vanuatu | Cleveland, Chuginadak Island (USA) | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Ibu, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA) | Pacaya, Guatemala | Sabancaya, Peru | Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia) | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka Russia) | Sierra Negra, Isla Isabela (Ecuador) | Turrialba, Costa Rica | Yasur, Vanuatu.
Etna, Sicily (Italy)
37.748°N, 14.999°E, Summit elev. 3295 m
INGV reported that during 20-26 August activity at Etna was characterized by gas emissions at the summit craters, Strombolian activity, and ash emissions. Strombolian explosions continued from vents in Bocca Nuova (including from a vent that had opened on 16 August) and Northeast Crater (NEC). Activity at New Southeast Crater (NSEC) was characterized by modest and occasional explosions and Strombolian activity. Beginning at 1700 on 23 August Strombolian activity from the cone in the saddle between the Southeast Crater (SEC) and NSEC cone complex rapidly intensified; explosions ejected tephra 100-150 m above the vent rim. At 1730 Strombolian activity occurred at NSEC’s E vent, and a lava flow from the same vent traveled a few hundred meters towards the Valle del Bove. Just after 1730 lava overflowed the vent in the saddle cone and flowed N; Strombolian activity at that vent continued through the night and then stopped no later than 0620 on 24 August. At 0622 Strombolian activity from a vent on the S flank of NSEC produced a small lava flow that traveled a few dozen meters. During 25-26 August the activity at the saddle cone gradually decreased, and ash emissions were weak and occasional.
Geological summary: Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily’s second largest city, has one of the world’s longest documented records of historical 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 horseshoe-shaped 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.
6.102°S, 105.423°E, Summit elev. 813 m
PVMBG reported that at 1807 on 23 August an event at Anak Krakatau generated a dense, black ash plume that rose about 700 m above the crater rim. Based on satellite data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 27-28 August ash plumes rose to altitudes of 1.2-1.5 km (4,000-5,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW and WSW. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4); residents and visitors were warned not to approach the volcano within 2 km of the crater.
Geological summary: The renowned volcano Krakatau (frequently misstated as Krakatoa) lies in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. Collapse of the ancestral Krakatau edifice, perhaps in 416 CE, formed a 7-km-wide caldera. Remnants of this ancestral volcano are preserved in Verlaten and Lang Islands; subsequently Rakata, Danan and Perbuwatan volcanoes were formed, coalescing to create the pre-1883 Krakatau Island. Caldera collapse during the catastrophic 1883 eruption destroyed Danan and Perbuwatan volcanoes, and left only a remnant of Rakata volcano. This eruption, the 2nd largest in Indonesia during historical time, caused more than 36,000 fatalities, most as a result of devastating tsunamis that swept the adjacent coastlines of Sumatra and Java. Pyroclastic surges traveled 40 km across the Sunda Strait and reached the Sumatra coast. After a quiescence of less than a half century, the post-collapse cone of Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau) was constructed within the 1883 caldera at a point between the former cones of Danan and Perbuwatan. Anak Krakatau has been the site of frequent eruptions since 1927.
Manam, Papua New Guinea
4.08°S, 145.037°E, Summit elev. 1807 m
RVO reported that an eruption at Manam began at around 0600 on 25 August after island residents reported increased activity beginning an hour before. According to the Darwin VAAC ash plumes visible in satellite data rose to 15.2 km (50,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted WSW. The plume drifted W and NW, causing ash and scoria to fall in areas from Dangale in the NNE to Jogari in the SW part of the island. The most affected areas were Baliau and Kuluguma; residents reported fallen tree branches from the deposits, and conditions so dark that flashlights were needed to move around. Lava flows traveled down the NE valley and pyroclastic-flow deposits were evident in the NE valley all the way to the sea. The pyroclastic flows buried six houses in Boakure village though the occupants escaped to the nearby Abaria village. According to a news article about 2,000 people evacuated. The eruption ceased around 1030 with dense white emissions visible afterwards. During brief periods of good visibility after the eruption, and through 26 August, observers noted dense white vapor emissions and occasional light gray ash plumes.
Geological summary: The 10-km-wide island of Manam, lying 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, is one of the country’s most active volcanoes. Four large radial valleys extend from the unvegetated summit of the conical 1807-m-high basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks. These “avalanche valleys” channel lava flows and pyroclastic avalanches that have sometimes reached the coast. Five small satellitic centers are located near the island’s shoreline on the northern, southern, and western sides. Two summit craters are present; both are active, although most historical eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE valley. Frequent historical eruptions, typically of mild-to-moderate scale, have been recorded since 1616. Occasional larger eruptions have produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached flat-lying coastal areas and entered the sea, sometimes impacting populated areas.
Merapi, Central Java (Indonesia)
7.54°S, 110.446°E, Summit elev. 2910 m
PVMBG reported that the new lava dome within the fracture of Merapi’s 2010 dome grew at a rate of 4,300 cubic meters per day during 18-28 August, and by 28 August the volume of the lava dome was an estimated 44,000 cubic meters. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and resident were warned to remain outside of the 3-km exclusion zone.
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 2000 years ago, leaving a large arcuate scarp cutting the eroded older Batulawang volcano. Subsequently growth of the steep-sided Young Merapi edifice, its upper part unvegetated due to frequent eruptive 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 during historical time.
Aira, Kyushu (Japan)
31.593°N, 130.657°E, Summit elev. 1117 m
JMA reported that there were three events and 12 explosions at Minamidake crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) during 20-27 August, with ash plumes rising as high as 2.1 km above the crater rim and material ejected as far as 1.3 km. Crater incandescence was sometimes visible at night. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).
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.
16.25°S, 168.12°E, Summit elev. 1334 m
On 22 August the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department reported that the lava lakes in Ambrym’s Benbow and Marum craters continued to be active, and produced sustained and substantial gas-and-steam emissions. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 0-5); the report reminded the public to stay outside of the Permanent Danger Zone defined as a 1-km radius from Benbow Crater and a 2.7-km radius from Marum Crater.
Geological summary: Ambrym, a large basaltic volcano with a 12-km-wide caldera, is one of the most active volcanoes of the New Hebrides arc. A thick, almost exclusively pyroclastic sequence, initially dacitic, then basaltic, overlies lava flows of a pre-caldera shield volcano. The caldera was formed during a major plinian eruption with dacitic pyroclastic flows about 1900 years ago. Post-caldera eruptions, primarily from Marum and Benbow cones, have partially filled the caldera floor and produced lava flows that ponded on the caldera floor or overflowed through gaps in the caldera rim. Post-caldera eruptions have also formed a series of scoria cones and maars along a fissure system oriented ENE-WSW. Eruptions have apparently occurred almost yearly during historical time from cones within the caldera or from flank vents. However, from 1850 to 1950, reporting was mostly limited to extra-caldera eruptions that would have affected local populations.
Cleveland, Chuginadak Island (USA)
52.825°N, 169.944°W, Summit elev. 1730 m
Low-level unrest at Cleveland continued, though on 22 August AVO noted a pause in activity and lowered the Aviation Color Code to Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level to Advisory. The report noted that elevated surface temperatures were identified in satellite images the previous day, suggestive of hot gas emissions from the summit crater vents.
Geological summary: The beautifully symmetrical Mount Cleveland stratovolcano is situated at the western end of the uninhabited, dumbbell-shaped Chuginadak Island. It lies SE across Carlisle Pass strait from Carlisle volcano and NE across Chuginadak Pass strait from Herbert volcano. Joined to the rest of Chuginadak Island by a low isthmus, Cleveland is the highest of the Islands of the Four Mountains group and is one of the most active of the Aleutian Islands. The native name, Chuginadak, refers to the Aleut goddess of fire, who was thought to reside on the volcano. Numerous large lava flows descend the steep-sided flanks. It is possible that some 18th-to-19th century eruptions attributed to Carlisle should be ascribed to Cleveland (Miller et al., 1998). In 1944 Cleveland produced the only known fatality from an Aleutian eruption. Recent eruptions have been characterized by short-lived explosive ash emissions, at times accompanied by lava fountaining and lava flows down the flanks.
Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia)
1.693°N, 127.894°E, Summit elev. 1229 m
Based on satellite data, wind model data, and notices from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 22-23 and 25-28 August ash plumes from Dukono rose to altitudes of 1.8-2.1 km (6,000-7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions.
Geological summary: Reports from this remote volcano in northernmost Halmahera are rare, but Dukono has been one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes. More-or-less continuous explosive eruptions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, occurred from 1933 until at least the mid-1990s, when routine observations were curtailed. During a major eruption in 1550, a lava flow filled in the strait between Halmahera and the north-flank cone of Gunung Mamuya. This complex volcano presents a broad, low profile with multiple summit peaks and overlapping craters. Malupang Wariang, 1 km SW of the summit crater complex, contains a 700 x 570 m crater that has also been active during historical time.
Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia)
50.686°N, 156.014°E, Summit elev. 1103 m
Ongoing activity:Volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island), about 7 km E of Ebeko, observed explosions during 17-24 August that sent ash plumes as high as 5.2 km (17,100 ft) a.s.l. Ash plumes drifted 235 km SE during 21-22 August, and a thermal anomaly was visible during 21-23 August. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale).
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.
Ibu, Halmahera (Indonesia)
1.488°N, 127.63°E, Summit elev. 1325 m
PVMBG reported that at 0838 on 24 August an event at Ibu generated an ash plume that rose 800 m above the crater rim and drifted S. Seismicity was characterized by explosions and rock avalanches. 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 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, contained several small crater lakes through much of historical time. The outer crater, 1.2 km wide, is breached on the north side, creating a steep-walled valley. A large parasitic cone is located ENE of the summit. 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. Only a few eruptions have been recorded in historical time, the first a small explosive eruption from the summit crater in 1911. An eruption producing a lava dome that eventually covered much of the floor of the inner summit crater began in December 1998.
Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA)
19.421°N, 155.287°W, Summit elev. 1222 m
HVO reported that during an overflight on 25 August a small lava pond was visible deep within the vent at Kilauea’s Fissure 8 cone; the pond was no longer visible on 27 August. Lava continued to ooze into the ocean and produce minimal laze plumes, but by 27 August only a small single breakout from the Kapoho Bay lobe was active. The Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch and the Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.
Geological summary: Kilauea, which overlaps the E flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano, has been Hawaii’s most active volcano during historical time. Eruptions are prominent in Polynesian legends; written documentation extending back to only 1820 records frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions that were interspersed with periods of long-term lava lake activity that lasted until 1924 at Halemaumau crater, within the summit caldera. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1500 years ago and during the 18th century; eruptions have also originated from the lengthy East and SW rift zones, which extend to the sea on both sides of the volcano. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1100 years old; 70% of the volcano’s surface is younger than 600 years. A long-term eruption from the East rift zone that began in 1983 has produced lava flows covering more than 100 km2, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.
14.382°N, 90.601°W, Summit elev. 2569 m
Based on information from INSIVUMEH, CONRED reported a slight increase in explosive activity at Pacaya, with 3-5 explosions per hour recorded by the seismic network. A 600-m-long lava flow originating from Mackenney Crater was visible on NW flank.
Geological summary: Eruptions from Pacaya, one of Guatemala’s most active volcanoes, are frequently visible from Guatemala City, the nation’s capital. This complex basaltic volcano was constructed just outside the southern topographic rim of the 14 x 16 km Pleistocene Amatitlán caldera. A cluster of dacitic lava domes occupies the southern caldera floor. The post-caldera Pacaya massif includes the ancestral Pacaya Viejo and Cerro Grande stratovolcanoes and the currently active Mackenney stratovolcano. Collapse of Pacaya Viejo between 600 and 1500 years ago produced a debris-avalanche deposit that extends 25 km onto the Pacific coastal plain and left an arcuate somma rim inside which the modern Pacaya volcano (Mackenney cone) grew. A subsidiary crater, Cerro Chino, was constructed on the NW somma rim and was last active in the 19th century. During the past several decades, activity has consisted of frequent strombolian eruptions with intermittent lava flow extrusion that has partially filled in the caldera moat and armored the flanks of Mackenney cone, punctuated by occasional larger explosive eruptions that partially destroy the summit of the growing young stratovolcano.
15.787°S, 71.857°W, Summit elev. 5960 m
Observatorio Vulcanológico del Sur del IGP (OVS-IGP) and Observatorio Vulcanológico del INGEMMET (OVI) reported that explosions at Sabancaya averaged 25 per day during 20-26 August. Hybrid earthquakes were infrequent and low magnitude. Gas-and-ash plumes rose as high as 4.5 km above the crater rim and drifted 50 km SE, E, NE, and N. The MIROVA system detected seven thermal anomalies, and on 25 August the sulfur dioxide gas flux was high at 2,230 tons/day. The report noted that the public should not approach the crater within 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.
Semeru, Eastern Java (Indonesia)
8.108°S, 112.922°E, Summit elev. 3657 m
Based on analysis of satellite images and wind model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 23-27 August ash plumes from Semeru rose to an altitude of 4.3 km (14,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW, W, NW, and SE.
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 satellite images showed a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch on 17, 19, and 23 August; cloudy weather prevented views of the volcano on the other days during 17-24 August. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale).
Geological summary: The high, isolated massif of Sheveluch volcano (also spelled Shiveluch) rises above the lowlands NNE of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group. The 1300 km3 volcano is one of Kamchatka’s largest and most active volcanic structures. The summit of roughly 65,000-year-old Stary Shiveluch is truncated by a broad 9-km-wide late-Pleistocene caldera breached to the south. Many lava domes dot its outer flanks. The Molodoy Shiveluch lava dome complex was constructed during the Holocene within the large horseshoe-shaped caldera; Holocene lava dome extrusion also took place on the flanks of Stary Shiveluch. At least 60 large eruptions have occurred during the Holocene, making it the most vigorous andesitic volcano of the Kuril-Kamchatka arc. Widespread tephra layers from these eruptions have provided valuable time markers for dating volcanic events in Kamchatka. Frequent collapses of dome complexes, most recently in 1964, have produced debris avalanches whose deposits cover much of the floor of the breached caldera.
Sierra Negra, Isla Isabela (Ecuador)
0.83°S, 91.17°W, Summit elev. 1124 m
IG reported that during 20-21 August both steam-and-gas emissions and incandescence from lava flows were visible on the Sierra Negra webcam. No activity was noted when the weather was clear during 22-28 August.
Geological summary: The broad shield volcano of Sierra Negra at the southern end of Isabela Island contains a shallow 7 x 10.5 km caldera that is the largest in the Galápagos Islands. Flank vents abound, including cinder cones and spatter cones concentrated along an ENE-trending rift system and tuff cones along the coast and forming offshore islands. The 1124-m-high volcano is elongated in a NE direction. Although it is the largest of the five major Isabela volcanoes, it has the flattest slopes, averaging less than 5 degrees and diminishing to 2 degrees near the coast. A sinuous 14-km-long, N-S-trending ridge occupies the west part of the caldera floor, which lies only about 100 m below its rim. Volcán de Azufre, the largest fumarolic area in the Galápagos Islands, lies within a graben between this ridge and the west caldera wall. Lava flows from a major eruption in 1979 extend all the way to the north coast from circumferential fissure vents on the upper northern flank. Sierra Negra, along with Cerro Azul and Volcán Wolf, is one of the most active of Isabela Island volcanoes.
Turrialba, Costa Rica
10.025°N, 83.767°W, Summit elev. 3340 m
OVSICORI-UNA reported that during 27-28 August emissions from Turrialba rose continuously to 200 m above the crater rim, and drifted SW.
Geological summary: Turrialba, the easternmost of Costa Rica’s Holocene volcanoes, is a large vegetated basaltic-to-dacitic stratovolcano located across a broad saddle NE of Irazú volcano overlooking the city of Cartago. The massive edifice covers an area of 500 km2. Three well-defined craters occur at the upper SW end of a broad 800 x 2200 m summit depression that is breached to the NE. Most activity originated from the summit vent complex, but two pyroclastic cones are located on the SW flank. Five major explosive eruptions have occurred during the past 3500 years. A series of explosive eruptions during the 19th century were sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows. Fumarolic activity continues at the central and SW summit craters.
19.532°S, 169.447°E, Summit elev. 361 m
The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department reported that ongoing explosions at Yasur were sometimes strong during August. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 0-4). VMGD reminded residents and tourists that hazardous areas were near and around the volcanic crater, within a 395-m-radius permanent exclusion zone, and that volcanic ash and gas could reach areas impacted by trade winds.
Geological summary: Yasur, the best-known and most frequently visited of the Vanuatu volcanoes, has been in more-or-less continuous Strombolian and Vulcanian activity since Captain Cook observed ash eruptions in 1774. This style of activity may have continued for the past 800 years. Located at the SE tip of Tanna Island, this mostly unvegetated pyroclastic cone has a nearly circular, 400-m-wide summit crater. The active cone is largely contained within the small Yenkahe caldera, and is the youngest of a group of Holocene volcanic centers constructed over the down-dropped NE flank of the Pleistocene Tukosmeru volcano. The Yenkahe horst is located within the Siwi ring fracture, a 4-km-wide, horseshoe-shaped caldera associated with eruption of the andesitic Siwi pyroclastic sequence. Active tectonism along the Yenkahe horst accompanying eruptions has raised Port Resolution harbor more than 20 m during the past century.