Wednesday, April 18, 2012

[ Volcano ] Smithsonian/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report 11-17 April 2012

Smithsonian/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report 11-17 April 2012

Smithsonian/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report

11-17 April 2012

Sally Kuhn Sennert - Weekly Report Editor


New Activity/Unrest: | Cleveland, Chuginadak Island | Popocatépetl, México | Rincón de la Vieja, Costa Rica

Ongoing Activity: | Etna, Sicily (Italy) | Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Kilauea, Hawaii (USA) | Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia | Pagan, Mariana Islands | Puyehue-Cordón Caulle, Central Chile | Sakura-jima, Kyushu | Shiveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Tungurahua, Ecuador | Villarrica, Central Chile

The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report is a cooperative project between the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program. Updated by 2300 UTC every Wednesday, notices of volcanic activity posted on these pages are preliminary and subject to change as events are studied in more detail. This is not a comprehensive list of all of Earth's volcanoes erupting during the week, but rather a summary of activity at volcanoes that meet criteria discussed in detail in the "Criteria and Disclaimers" section. Carefully reviewed, detailed reports on various volcanoes are published monthly in the Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network.

Note: Many news agencies do not archive the articles they post on the Internet, and therefore the links to some sources may not be active. To obtain information about the cited articles that are no longer available on the Internet contact the source.

New Activity/Unrest

CLEVELAND Chuginadak Island 52.825°N, 169.944°W; summit elev. 1730 m

AVO reported that elevated surface temperatures were observed over Cleveland in satellite imagery during 11-12 April. Two explosions were detected on 13 April by distant seismic stations and infrasound arrays. Neither of these explosions produced an ash cloud that could be detected in satellite images. There was no evidence of explosive activity or eruption of lava in the summit crater during 14-17 April. No seismic information was available because Cleveland does not have a real-time seismic network.

Geologic Summary. Symmetrical Mount Cleveland stratovolcano is situated at the western end of the uninhabited dumbbell-shaped Chuginadak Island in the east-central Aleutians. The 1,730-m-high stratovolcano is the highest of the Islands of Four Mountains group and is one of the most active in the Aleutians. Numerous large lava flows descend its flanks. It is possible that some 18th to 19th century eruptions attributed to Carlisle (a volcano located across the Carlisle Pass Strait to the NW) should be ascribed to Cleveland. In 1944 Cleveland produced the only known fatality from an Aleutian eruption. Recent eruptions from Mt. Cleveland have been characterized by short-lived explosive ash emissions, at times accompanied by lava fountaining and lava flows down the flanks.

Source: Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO)

POPOCATEPETL México 19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5426 m

CENAPRED reported that during 11-15 April steam-and-gas emissions from Popocatépetl occasionally contained ash; emissions contained a substantial amount of ash on 12 April. Seismicity increased on 13 April and at 2220 an explosion ejected incandescent blocks that landed on the NE flank as far as 500 m away from the crater rim. A larger explosion at 2236 ejected incandescent blocks that landed even further away on all flanks; an ash plume rose 2 km above the crater and drifted ENE. Ashfall was reported in San Pedro Benito Juarez (10-12 km SE), where the explosion was also heard. On 14 April gas-and-steam plumes that contained small amounts of ash drifted SW. Multiple emissions occurred with increased incandescence from the crater. Ejected incandescent blocks landed back in the crater or on the flanks 500-800 m from the rim. Gas-and-ash plumes drifted ESE. Ashfall was reported in multiple towns, including Puebla (50 km to the E), San Pedro Benito Juarez, Santiago Xalitzintla (15 km NE), Tianguismanalco, and Atlixco (25 km SE).

On 15 April an ash plume rose 1.5 km above the crater and drifted E. Gas-and-ash emissions rose 1 km above the crater on 16 April and were accompanied by ejected incandescent fragments that were deposited on the flanks, especially to the N and NE. Later that day ash plumes rose 2 km above the crater and drifted E. Ashfall was again reported in Puebla. CENAPRED increased the Alert Level at the volcano from Yellow Phase Two to Yellow Phase Three. During 16-17 April incandescence extended 300 m above the crater and gas-and-steam emissions were constant. Gas-and-ash plumes rose from the crater on 17 April.

Geologic Summary. Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, towers to 5,426 m 70 km SE of Mexico City and is North America's second-highest volcano. Frequent historical eruptions have been recorded since the beginning of the Spanish colonial era. A small eruption on 21 December 1994 ended five decades of quiescence. Since 1996 small lava domes have incrementally been constructed within the summit crater and destroyed by explosive eruptions. Intermittent small-to-moderate gas-and-ash eruptions have continued, occasionally producing ashfall in neighboring towns and villages.

Source: Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED)

RINCON DE LA VIEJA Costa Rica 10.830°N, 85.324°W; summit elev. 1916 m

OVSICORI-UNA reported that a small phreatic eruption occurred within and around the hot acidic lake of Rincón de la Vieja at 1400 on 14 April. Observers from nearby communities N of the volcano reported some sediment deposition along the outer N flanks of the main active crater and a white steam plume rising to a considerable height above the crater.

Geologic 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 that was constructed within the 15-km-wide early Pleistocene Guachipelín caldera, whose rim is exposed on the south side. Rincón de la Vieja, sometimes known as the "Colossus of Guanacaste," has an estimated volume of 130 cu km and contains at least 9 major eruptive centers. Activity has migrated to the SE, where the youngest-looking craters are located. The twin cone of 1916-m-high Santa María volcano, the highest peak of the Rincón 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 cu km Río Blanca tephra about 3500 years ago was the last major magmatic eruption from the volcano. All subsequent eruptions, including numerous historical eruptions possibly dating back to the 16th century, have been from the prominent crater containing a 500-m-wide acid lake (known as the Active Crater) located ENE of Von Seebach crater.

Source: Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Costa Rica-Universidad Nacional (OVSICORI-UNA)

Ongoing Activity

ETNA Sicily (Italy) 37.734°N, 15.004°E; summit elev. 3330 m

Sezione di Catania - Osservatorio Etneo reported that the twenty-fourth paroxysmal eruptive episode since January 2011 took place at New SE Crater (New SEC) of Etna during the morning of 12 April following about 10 days of quiescence. The episode was characterized by lava fountains, emissions of ash and lapilli, and lava flows that descended the Valle del Bove and explosively interacted with snow cover.

Geologic 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 BC. Historical lava flows cover much of the surface of this massive basaltic stratovolcano, the highest and most voluminous in Italy. Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur at Etna. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more of the three prominent summit craters, the Central Crater, NE Crater, and SE Crater. Flank eruptions, typically with higher effusion rates, occur less frequently and originate from fissures that open progressively downward from near the summit. A period of more intense intermittent explosive eruptions from Etna's summit craters began in 1995. The active volcano is monitored by the Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Volcanologia (INGV) in Catania.

Source: Sezione di Catania - Osservatorio Etneo

KARYMSKY Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) 54.05°N, 159.45°E; summit elev. 1536 m

KVERT reported that during 7-13 April moderate seismic activity from Karymsky continued to be detected, and indicated that possible ash plumes rose to an altitude of 2.5 km (8,200 ft) a.s.l. Satellite imagery showed a thermal anomaly on the volcano during 7 and 9-10 April, and ash deposits 15 km long on the E flank on 11 April. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Geologic Summary. Karymsky, the most active volcano of Kamchatka's eastern volcanic zone, is a symmetrical stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera that formed about 7,600-7,700 radiocarbon years ago. Construction of the Karymsky stratovolcano began about 2,000 years later. The latest eruptive period began about 500 years ago, following a 2,300-year quiescence. Much of the cone is mantled by lava flows less than 200 years old. Historical eruptions have been Vulcanian or Vulcanian-Strombolian with moderate explosive activity and occasional lava flows from the summit crater. Most seismicity preceding Karymsky eruptions has originated beneath Akademia Nauk caldera, which is located immediately S of Karymsky volcano and erupted simultaneously with Karymsky in 1996.

Source: Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT)

KILAUEA Hawaii (USA) 19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m

During 11-17 April HVO reported that the circulating lava lake periodically rose and fell in the deep pit within Kilauea's Halema'uma'u Crater. Almost daily measurements indicated that the gas plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of ash, and occasionally fresh spatter, nearby. Incandescence was visible from both a lava pond in a small pit on the E edge and a small spatter cone on the SE edge of the Pu'u 'O'o crater floor, and on the upper part of the lava-tube system on the E flank. Lava flows continued to advance down the pali and across the coastal plain, reaching about 1.4 km from the coast. On 11 and 13 April small lava flows issued from a vent on the SE edge of the Pu'u 'O'o crater floor.

Geologic Summary. Kilauea, one of five coalescing volcanoes that comprise the island of Hawaii, is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Eruptions at Kilauea originate primarily from the summit caldera or along one of the lengthy E and SW rift zones that extend from the caldera to the sea. About 90% of the surface of Kilauea is formed of lava flows less than about 1,100 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 sq km, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.

Source: US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)

NEVADO DEL RUIZ Colombia 4.895°N, 75.322°W; summit elev. 5321 m

According to INGEOMINAS, the Observatorio Vulcanológico and Sismológico de Manizales reported that seismicity at Nevado del Ruiz decreased during 11-15 April then slightly increased during 16-17 April. Earthquakes were located below or N of Arenas crater at depths of 1.5-2 km during 11-12 April. Earthquake events at 1146 and 1149 on 15 April were possibly associated with ash emissions which were not verified due to weather conditions. Earthquakes detected on 16 April occurred E of Arenas crater at depths of 1.5-4 km.

Gas-and-steam plumes were observed mainly in satellite imagery, by cameras located near the volcano, and from the city of Manizales (25 km NW). On 12 April a sulfur odor was reported in the towns of Lebanon, Palocabildo, and Fresno (Tolima). Observes in Manila reported a gas-and-steam plume that rose 1.8 km above the crater on 16 April. The Alert Level remained at II (Orange; "eruption likely within days or weeks").

Geologic Summary. Nevado del Ruiz is a broad, glacier-covered volcano in central Colombia that covers >200 sq km. Three major edifices, composed of andesitic and dacitic lavas and andesitic pyroclastics, have been constructed since the beginning of the Pleistocene. The modern cone consists of a broad cluster of lava domes built within the summit caldera of an older Ruiz volcano. The 1-km-wide, 240-m-deep Arenas crater occupies the summit. Steep headwalls of massive landslides cut the flanks of Nevado del Ruiz. Melting of its summit icecap during historical eruptions, which date back to the 16th century, has resulted in devastating lahars, including one in 1985 that was South America's deadliest eruption.

Source: Instituto Colombiano de Geología y Minería (INGEOMINAS)

PAGAN Mariana Islands 18.13°N, 145.80°E; summit elev. 570 m

Minor steam-and-gas plumes from Pagan were observed in satellite images during clear periods from 6 to 13 April. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Advisory. According to the Washington VAAC satellite images showed a plume that drifted N. Satellite images and pilot reports indicated no ash in the plume. Emissions to the W had become diffuse.

Geologic Summary. Pagan Island, the largest and one of the most active of the Mariana Islands volcanoes, consists of two stratovolcanoes connected by a narrow isthmus. Both North and South Pagan stratovolcanoes were constructed within calderas, 7 and 4 km in diameter, respectively. The 570-m-high Mount Pagan at the NE end of the island rises above the flat floor of the caldera, which probably formed during the early Holocene. South Pagan is a 548-m-high stratovolcano with an elongated summit containing four distinct craters. Almost all of the historical eruptions of Pagan, which date back to the 17th century, have originated from North Pagan volcano. The largest eruption of Pagan during historical time took place in 1981 and prompted the evacuation of the sparsely populated island.

Sources: Emergency Management Office of the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands and the United States Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program,

Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)

PUYEHUE-CORDON CAULLE Central Chile 40.590°S, 72.117°W; summit elev. 2236 m

OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN reported that, although cloud cover often prevented observations during 11-17 April, satellite and web camera views of the Cordón Caulle rift zone, part of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex, showed plumes almost daily that rose no higher than 1 km above the crater. Incandescence from the crater was observed during 10-11 April. The Alert Level remained at Orange.

Geologic Summary. The Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex (PCCVC) is a large NW-SE-trending late-Pleistocene to Holocene basaltic-to-rhyolitic transverse volcanic chain SE of Lago Ranco. The 1799-m-high Pleistocene Cordillera Nevada caldera lies at the NW end, separated from Puyehue stratovolcano at the SE end by the Cordón Caulle fissure complex. The Pleistocene Mencheca volcano with Holocene flank cones lies NE of Puyehue. The basaltic-to-rhyolitic Puyehue volcano is the most geochemically diverse of the PCCVC. The flat-topped, 2236-m-high Puyehue volcano was constructed above a 5-km-wide caldera and is capped by a 2.4-km-wide summit caldera of Holocene age. Lava flows and domes of mostly rhyolitic composition are found on the eastern flank of Puyehue. Historical eruptions originally attributed to Puyehue, including major eruptions in 1921-22 and 1960, are now known to be from the Cordón Caulle rift zone. The Cordón Caulle geothermal area, occupying a 6 x 13 km wide volcano-tectonic depression, is the largest active geothermal area of the southern Andes volcanic zone.

Source: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN)

SAKURA-JIMA Kyushu 31.585°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m

On 6, 8, and 10 April a visitor to Sakura-jima observed and photographed several Vulcanian explosions from Showa crater and noted that the crater was approximately 20% wider from N to S that in the beginning of 2010.

Geologic Summary. Sakura-jima, one of Japan's most active volcanoes, is a post-caldera cone of the Aira caldera at the northern half of Kagoshima Bay. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow was associated with the formation of the 17 x 23-km-wide Aira caldera about 22,000 years ago. The construction of Sakura-jima began about 13,000 years ago and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kita-dake summit cone ended about 4,850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minami-dake. 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.

Source: Richard Roscoe, Photo Volcanica

SHIVELUCH Central Kamchatka (Russia) 56.653°N, 161.360°E; summit elev. 3283 m

KVERT reported that explosive activity at Shiveluch continued during 7-13 April. Ground-based observers and satellite imagery indicated that a viscous lava flow continued to effuse in the crater formed during a 2010 eruption. Satellite imagery showed a weak thermal anomaly daily on the lava dome, and ash plumes that drifted 210 km SW and SE on 6, 8, and 11 April. Seismic data indicated that ash plumes potentially rose to an altitude of 7.7 km (25,000 ft) a.s.l. during 7-8 and 10-12 April, and to an altitude of 4.5 km (14,800 ft) a.s.l. on the other days. Observers confirmed that an ash plume rose to an altitude of 5 km (16,400 ft) a.s.l. on 8 April. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Geologic Summary. The high, isolated massif of Shiveluch volcano (also spelled Sheveluch) rises above the lowlands NNE of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group and forms one of Kamchatka's largest and most active volcanoes. The currently active Molodoy Shiveluch lava-dome complex was constructed during the Holocene within a large breached caldera formed by collapse of the massive late-Pleistocene Strary Shiveluch volcano. At least 60 large eruptions of Shiveluch have occurred during the Holocene, making it the most vigorous andesitic volcano of the Kuril-Kamchatka arc. Frequent collapses of lava-dome complexes, most recently in 1964, have produced large debris avalanches whose deposits cover much of the floor of the breached caldera. Intermittent explosive eruptions began in the 1990s from a new lava dome that began growing in 1980. The largest historical eruptions from Shiveluch occurred in 1854 and 1964.

Source: Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT)

TUNGURAHUA Ecuador 1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m

IG reported that during 11-15 April visual observations of Tungurahua were occasionally limited due to cloud cover. On 11 April an ash plume rose 5 km above the crater and drifted NE and SE. Ashfall was reported in areas 8 km SW. An explosion on 12 April was followed by ashfall in multiple areas including Ambato (31 km NW), Cusúa (8 km NW), and Bilbao (8 km W). A small ash plume drifted ESE on 13 April and steam plumes drifted SE during 13-14 April. Fumarolic activity in the crater was observed on 15 April.

Geologic Summary. The steep-sided Tungurahua stratovolcano towers more than 3 km above its northern base. It sits ~140 km S of Quito, Ecuador's capital city, and is one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes. Historical eruptions have all originated from the summit crater. They have been accompanied by strong explosions and sometimes by pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached populated areas at the volcano's base. The last major eruption took place from 1916 to 1918, although minor activity continued until 1925. The latest eruption began in October 1999 and prompted temporary evacuation of the town of Baños on the N side of the volcano.

Source: Instituto Geofísico-Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG)

VILLARRICA Central Chile 39.42°S, 71.93°W; summit elev. 2847 m

According to Projecto Observación Visual Volcán Villarrica (POVI), ash emissions rose from Villarrica on 9 April and incandescence emanated from the crater at night.

Geologic Summary. Villarrica, one of Chile's most active volcanoes, rises above the lake and town of the same name. It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain. A 6-km wide caldera formed during the late Pleistocene, more than 0.9 million years ago. A 2-km-wide postglacial caldera is located at the base of the presently active, dominantly basaltic-to-andesitic cone at the NW margin of the Pleistocene caldera. About 25 scoria cones dot Villarrica's flanks. Plinian eruptions and pyroclastic flows have been produced during the Holocene from this dominantly basaltic volcano, but historical eruptions have consisted largely of mild-to-moderate explosive activity with occasional lava effusion. Lahars from the glacier-covered volcano have damaged towns on its flanks.

Source: Projecto Observación Visual Volcán Villarrica (POVI)


Sally Kuhn Sennert

SI/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report Editor

Global Volcanism Program

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History

Department of Mineral Sciences, MRC-119

Washington, D.C., 20560

Phone: 202.633.1805
Fax: 202.357.2476


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