The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report: February 28

New activity/unrest was reported for 4 volcanoes between February 28 and March 6, 2018. During the same period, ongoing activity was reported for 14 volcanoes.

New activity/unrest: Ambae, Vanuatu | Kadovar, Papua New Guinea | Kirishimayama, Kyushu (Japan) | Kusatsu-Shiranesan, Honshu (Japan).

Ongoing activity: Agung, Bali (Indonesia) | Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Bagana, Bougainville (Papua New Guinea) | Cleveland, Chuginadak Island (USA) | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Ebeko, Paramushir Island (Russia) | Fuego, Guatemala | Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA) | Mayon, Luzon (Philippines) | Pacaya, Guatemala | Sabancaya, Peru | San Miguel, El Salvador | Santa Maria, Guatemala | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia).

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 23:00 UTC every Wednesday, notices of volcanic activity posted 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. Carefully reviewed, detailed reports on various volcanoes are published monthly in the Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network.

New activity/unrest

Ambae, Vanuatu

15.4°S, 167.83°E, Summit elev. 1496 m

Based on satellite and webcam observations, the Wellington VAAC reported that during 4-6 March ash plumes from Ambae rose to altitudes of 3.7-4.6 km (12,000-15,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE and N.

Geological summary: Ambae, also known as Aoba, is a massive 2500 km3 basaltic shield that is the most voluminous volcano of the New Hebrides archipelago. A pronounced NE-SW-trending rift zone dotted with scoria cones gives the 16 x 38 km island an elongated form. A broad pyroclastic cone containing three crater lakes is located at the summit within the youngest of at least two nested calderas, the largest of which is 6 km in diameter. Post-caldera explosive eruptions formed the summit craters of Lake Voui (also spelled Vui) and Lake Manaro Ngoru about 360 years ago. A tuff cone was constructed within Lake Voui about 60 years later. The latest known flank eruption, about 300 years ago, destroyed the population of the Nduindui area near the western coast.

Kadovar, Papua New Guinea

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

According to the Darwin VAAC a pilot observed an ash plume from Kadovar on 2 March drifting SE at an altitude of 4 km (13,000 ft) a.s.l.

Geological summary: The 2-km-wide island of Kadovar is the emergent summit of a Bismarck Sea stratovolcano of Holocene age. Kadovar 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. The village of Gewai is perched on the crater rim. A 365-m-high lava dome forming the high point of the andesitic volcano fills an arcuate landslide scarp that is open to the south, and 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. No certain historical eruptions are known; the latest activity was a period of heightened thermal phenomena in 1976.

Kirishimayama, Kyushu (Japan)

31.934°N, 130.862°E, Summit elev. 1700 m

JMA reported that volcanic earthquakes at Shinmoedake (Shinmoe peak), a stratovolcano of the Kirishimayama volcano group, increased during 24-25 February. Volcanic tremor began to be recorded at 0815 on 1 March and intensified within a few hours. Residents in Takahara-machi, 12 km E (Miyazaki prefecture), reported ashfall at 1100; poor weather conditions prevented visual observations of the volcano. Later that day a small eruption was confirmed. Ashfall was reported in the Takahara-cho neighborhood, 12 km E (Miyazaki prefecture), around 1615. The eruption was observed at 1707 during an overflight. The sulfur dioxide flux was 5,500 tons/day, but then decreased to 2,200 tons/day on 2 March. During 2-3 March gray ash plumes rose as high as 1 km above the crater, and ash fell in Takahara-cho on 3 March. Ash plumes rose 400 m on 4 March. Explosive events on 6 March generated ash plumes that rose 2.3 km. During an overflight observers noted new lava on the E side of the crater, and plumes rising from both the center of the crater and an area on the N side. Ashfall was confirmed over a wide area from Kirishima prefecture and Kagoshima prefecture to the S, to Miyakonojo city (Miyazaki prefecture) to the E. A high number of volcanic earthquakes continued to be recorded. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-5).

Geological summary: Kirishimayama is a large group of more than 20 Quaternary volcanoes located north of Kagoshima Bay. The late-Pleistocene to Holocene dominantly andesitic group consists of stratovolcanoes, pyroclastic cones, maars, and underlying shield volcanoes located over an area of 20 x 30 km. The larger stratovolcanoes are scattered throughout the field, with the centrally located, 1700-m-high Karakunidake being the highest. Onamiike and Miike, the two largest maars, are located SW of Karakunidake and at its far eastern end, respectively. Holocene eruptions have been concentrated along an E-W line of vents from Miike to Ohachi, and at Shinmoedake to the NE. Frequent small-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the 8th century.

Kusatsu-Shiranesan, Honshu (Japan)

36.618°N, 138.528°E, Summit elev. 2165 m

JMA reported that during 26 February-5 March the number of volcanic earthquakes recorded at the Kusatsu-Shiranesan complex remained elevated. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).

Geological summary: The Kusatsu-Shiranesan complex, located immediately north of Asama volcano, consists of a series of overlapping pyroclastic cones and three crater lakes. The andesitic-to-dacitic volcano was formed in three eruptive stages beginning in the early to mid-Pleistocene. The Pleistocene Oshi pyroclastic flow produced extensive welded tuffs and non-welded pumice that covers much of the E, S, and SW flanks. The latest eruptive stage began about 14,000 years ago. Historical eruptions have consisted of phreatic explosions from the acidic crater lakes or their margins. Fumaroles and hot springs that dot the flanks have strongly acidified many rivers draining from the volcano. The crater was the site of active sulfur mining for many years during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Ongoing activity

Agung, Bali (Indonesia)

8.343°S, 115.508°E, Summit elev. 2997 m

PVMBG reported that on 28 February gray-white plumes rose as high as 300 m above Agung’s crater rim. During 1-5 March white plumes rose as high as 500 m above the crater rim. The Alert Level remained at 4 (on a scale of 1-4) with an exclusion zone set at a 6-km radius.

Geological summary: Symmetrical Agung stratovolcano, Bali’s highest and most sacred mountain, towers over the eastern end of the island. The volcano, whose name means “Paramount,” rises above the SE caldera rim of neighboring Batur volcano, and the northern and southern flanks extend to the coast. The summit area extends 1.5 km E-W, with the high point on the W and a steep-walled 800-m-wide crater on the E. The Pawon cone is located low on the SE flank. Only a few eruptions dating back to the early 19th century have been recorded in historical time. The 1963-64 eruption, one of the largest in the 20th century, produced voluminous ashfall along with devastating pyroclastic flows and lahars that caused extensive damage and many fatalities.

Aira, Kyushu (Japan)

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

JMA reported that very small events occurred at Minamidake crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) during 26 February-5 March, two of which were explosive. An explosive event at 0031 on 27 February ejected tephra as far as 700 m and generated a plume that rose 1.3 km above the crater rim. 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.

Bagana, Bougainville (Papua New Guinea)

6.137°S, 155.196°E, Summit elev. 1855 m

Based on analyses of satellite imagery and model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 2 March an ash plume from Bagana rose to an altitude of 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE.

Geological summary: Bagana volcano, occupying a remote portion of central Bougainville Island, is one of Melanesia’s youngest and most active volcanoes. This massive symmetrical cone was largely constructed by an accumulation of viscous andesitic lava flows. The entire edifice could have been constructed in about 300 years at its present rate of lava production. Eruptive activity is frequent and characterized by non-explosive effusion of viscous lava that maintains a small lava dome in the summit crater, although explosive activity occasionally producing pyroclastic flows also occurs. Lava flows form dramatic, freshly preserved tongue-shaped lobes up to 50 m thick with prominent levees that descend the flanks on all sides.

Cleveland, Chuginadak Island (USA)

52.825°N, 169.944°W, Summit elev. 1730 m

AVO reported that elevated surface temperatures were identified in satellite images of Cleveland during 28 February-3 March. Local seismic and infrasound sensors recorded a small explosion at 0557 on 2 March prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Color Code to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level to Watch. A volcanic cloud rose to an altitude of 4.6 km (15,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted ENE. A satellite image acquired on 5 March showed no new lava effusion in the crater. The Aviation Color Code was lowered to Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level was lowered to Advisory.

Geological summary: 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. Cleveland is joined to the rest of Chuginadak Island by a low isthmus. The 1730-m-high Mount 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 for Mount Cleveland, 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 analyses of satellite imagery, wind model data, and notices from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 28 February, and 1-2 and 4 March, ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (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

Based on observations by volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island), about 7 km E of Ebeko, explosions during 23-25 and 27-28 February generated ash plumes that rose as high as 3.3 km (10,800 ft) a.s.l. 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.

Fuego, Guatemala

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

INSIVUMEH reported that explosions at Fuego during 27-28 February and 3-5 March generated ash plumes that rose as high as 1.1 km and drifted 10-20 km W, SW, and S. Sometimes the explosions were accompanied by weak shock waves. Incandescent material was ejected as high as 300 m above the crater rim, and generated avalanches of material in the Seca (Santa Teresa, W), Cenizas (SSW), Las Lajas (SE), and Honda (E) ravines. Ash fell in areas downwind including in Santa Sofía (12 km SW), Morelia (9 km SW), Panimaché (8 km SW), El Porvenir (8 km ENE), and Finca Palo Verde.

Geological summary: Volcán Fuego, one of Central America’s most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala’s former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3763-m-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the north, Acatenango. 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 Acatenango. In contrast to 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.

Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA)

19.421°N, 155.287°W, Summit elev. 1222 m

During 28 February-6 March HVO reported that the lava lake continued to rise, fall, and spatter in Kilauea’s Overlook crater. Webcams recorded incandescence from a small lava pond in a pit on the W side of Pu’u ‘O’o Crater. Surface lava flows were active above and on the pali.

Geological summary: Kilauea volcano, which overlaps the east 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 sq km, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.

Mayon, Luzon (Philippines)

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

PHIVOLCS reported that during 27 February-5 March activity at Mayon was characterized by lava effusion from the summit crater, lava fountains, steam and ash emissions, advancing lava flows on the flanks, and pyroclastic flows. Weak and intermittent lava fountains generated steam and ash plumes that rose as high as 800 m and drifted in multiple directions; rumbling sounds were audible at least within a 10-km radius. Active lava flows extended 3.3 km, 4.5 km, and 1.9 km in the Mi-isi (S), Bonga (SE), and Basud (E) drainages, respectively. During 27 February-5 March pyroclastic flows generated by collapses of lava at the fronts and margins of flows traveled 4-5 km down the flanks. On 6 March PHIVOLCS lowered the Alert Level to 3 (on a 0-5 scale) noting a decline in the intensity and frequency of events during the previous week. Data from precise leveling surveys and real-time electronic tilt continued to record deflation of the lower flanks that began on 20 February. The report reminded residents to stay away from the 6-km-radius Permanent Danger Zone and the 7-km Extended Danger Zone on the SSW and ENE flanks.

Geological summary: Beautifully symmetrical Mayon, which rises above the Albay Gulf NW of Legazpi City, is the Philippines’ most active volcano. The structurally simple edifice has steep upper slopes averaging 35-40 degrees that are capped by a small summit crater. Historical eruptions date back to 1616 and 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 devastated populated lowland areas. A violent eruption in 1814 killed more than 1,200 people and devastated several towns.

Pacaya, Guatemala

14.382°N, 90.601°W, Summit elev. 2569 m

INSIVUMEH reported that during 27-28 February and 3-5 March Strombolian explosions at Pacaya’s Mackenney Crater ejected material as high as 20 m above the main cone. Lava flows on the SW flank advanced to 250 m.

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.

Sabancaya, Peru

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 explosive activity at Sabancaya decreased compared to the previous week; there was an average of 12 explosions recorded per day during 26 February-4 March. Seismicity was dominated by long-period events, with signals indicating emissions. Gas-and-ash plumes rose 2 km above the crater rim and drifted 30 km NW, W, and SW. The sulfur dioxide flux was high, at 2,440 tons per day on 3 March. The report noted that the public should not to 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.

San Miguel, El Salvador

13.434°N, 88.269°W, Summit elev. 2130 m

On 2 March SNET reported that gas plumes rose as high as 400 m above San Miguel’s crater rim during the previous week. Ash was in the emissions on 24, 26, and 28 February, and 1 March. RSAM values fluctuated between 70 and 179 units (normal values are 50-150 units) during 1-2 March. At 2200 on 5 March seismic amplitude began to increase, with RSAM values rising to 318 units by 0600 on 6 March. A webcam recorded minor gas emission during 5-6 March.

Geological summary: The symmetrical cone of San Miguel volcano, one of the most active in El Salvador, rises from near sea level to form one of the country’s most prominent landmarks. The unvegetated summit rises above slopes draped with coffee plantations. A broad, deep crater complex that has been frequently modified by historical eruptions (recorded since the early 16th century) caps the truncated summit, also known locally as Chaparrastique. Radial fissures on the flanks of the basaltic-andesitic volcano have fed a series of historical lava flows, including several erupted during the 17th-19th centuries that reached beyond the base of the volcano on the N, NE, and SE sides. The SE-flank flows are the largest and form broad, sparsely vegetated lava fields crossed by highways and a railroad skirting the base of the volcano. The location of flank vents has migrated higher on the edifice during historical time, and the most recent activity has consisted of minor ash eruptions from the summit crater.

Santa Maria, Guatemala

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

INSIVUMEH reported that explosions at Santa María’s Santiaguito lava-dome complex, detected by the seismic network during 27-28 February and 3-5 March, generated ash plumes that rose as high as 700 m and drifted S and SW. Avalanches of material descended the SE flank of the lava dome. Ash fell locally on the flanks and in San José.

Geological summary: Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The 3772-m-high stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that is cut on the SW flank by a large, 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 westward-younging vents, the most recent of which is Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.

Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

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

KVERT reported that a weak thermal anomaly over Sheveluch was identified in satellite images on 26 February and 1 March. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Geological summary: The high, isolated massif of Sheveluch volcano (also spelled Shiveluch) rises above the lowlands NNE of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group. The 1300 cu km 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.

Source: GVP

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