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Volcanic Eruptions

  • Global Volcanic Eruptions Intensify

    A series of volcanic eruptions are taking place around the world, just in time for the new year.

    Etna volcano, Italy – Dec. 22nd

    The recent volcanic activity at Italy’s Mount Etna intensified overnight, as a large stream of lava spewed out westward from Europe’s largest and most active volcano, putting local residents on edge as 2020 draws to a close.

    The eruption at the 3,329-meter (10,922-foot) volcano’s southeast crater reignited, resulting in yet another lava-fountaining episode (known as a paroxysm), lighting up the Sicilian skies in the early morning, before filling them with thick clouds of smoke and ash.

    Shiveluch volcano, Russia – Dec. 22nd

    A spectacular volcanic explosion occurred on December 22, 2020, at 12:20 p.m. local time, sending a plume of ash to an altitude of 16,000 ft (4,876 m).

    A second strong explosion occurred on the same day at 7:30 p.m., sending a spectacular ash plume 28,000 ft (8,500 m) in the air and spreading about 130 km to the southeast of the volcano.

    Kilauea volcano, Hawaii – Dec. 21st

    Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano roared back to life on Monday, after a 4.4 magnitude earthquake struck the volcano’s south flank.

    Meanwhile, two fissures continue to fill the Halema’uma’u crater, and no activity outside has been observed. Gas emissions and seismic tremor remain elevated, reports USGS.

    Sakurajima volcano, Japan – Dec. 21st

    The explosion occurred at 4:40 p.m. JST.

    Suwanosejima volcano, Japan – Dec. 22nd

    The volcano is in an extremely active phase of activity with almost near-constant eruptions (up to 89 per day), with thick ash plume, reaching up to 1,968 ft-3,937 ft (600 m-1,200 m) altitude and lava bombs ejected as far as 800 m away from the crater.

    The strong glow from the Otake crater suggests rise of flux of magma within the volcano.

    Beware of ballistic impacts of volcanic bombs and pyroclastic flows in an area of about 1 km distance from the main crater.

    Increased seismic activity under Hudson volcano, Chile

    SERNAGEOMIN has raised the alert level for Cerro Hudson volcano from Green to Yellow on December 22, 2020 due to an uptick in seismicity (volcano-tectonic, long-period, and hybrid earthquakes) under the main crater.

    The last eruption of Hudson was a VEI2 and occurred in 2011. The volcanic peak is known to produce VEI5-6 eruptions. The latest, also qualified as Chile’s second-largest eruption of the 20th century, took place between Aug. 8th and Oct. 27th 1991 (VEI5).

    Unrest at Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand

    Again, the Crater Lake temperature is rising at Mount Ruapehu (now around 40°C). In addition, the largest measured gas output in the past two decades was measured on dec. 21st, prompting officials to raise the Aviation Color Code to Yellow.

    M3.9 hits Bárðarbunga volcano, Iceland

    An earthquake of M3.9 hit Bárðarbunga volcano, under the ice cap of Vatnajökull glacier, yesterday at 11:37 a.m. local time. The quake hit at a depth of 1.7 km (1 mile), 5 km (3.1 mi) southeast of Bárðarbunga.

  • Huge eruption at Sinabung Volcano causes major pyroclastic flow

    A major eruption started at the Indonesian Sinabung volcano at 23:42 UTC on March 1, 2021, ejecting ash up to 12.2 km (40 000 feet) above sea level. This is its first major eruption since August 2020.

    The eruption produced pyroclastic flows up to 5 km (3.1 miles) down the ESE slope of the volcano.

    Sinabung Volcano Observatory raised the Aviation Color Code from Orange to Red at 00:20 UTC and lowered it back to Orange at 02:47 UTC.

    Some of the people were seen panicking but there were no reports of casualties, officials said.

    Residents are urged to stay at least 3 km (1.8 miles) from the crater.

    The Alert Level remains at 3 (of 4).

    Sinabung woke up in 2010 after 4 centuries of sleep. Since then, at least 23 people have been killed and more than 30 000 displaced.

    Geological summary

    Gunung Sinabung is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano with many lava flows on its flanks. The migration of summit vents along a N-S line gives the summit crater complex an elongated form.

    The youngest crater of this conical, 2 460 m (8 070 feet) high andesitic-to-dacitic volcano is at the southern end of the four overlapping summit craters.

    An unconfirmed eruption was noted in 1881, and solfataric activity was seen at the summit and upper flanks in 1912.

    No confirmed historical eruptions were recorded prior to explosive eruptions during August - September 2010 that produced ash plumes to 5 km (16 404 feet) above the summit. (GVP)

  • Massive eruption of Mount Etna, Sicily

    Mount Etna has erupted, sending smoke and ash into the sky and forcing a nearby airport to close temporarily.

    Etna, at 3,350m high, is on the Italian island of Sicily and is one of the world's most active volcanoes.

    There were no reports of injuries or damage.

    The Department of Civil Protection said nearby centres were not at risk, although Italy's Central Emergency Department said it was watching the towns of Linguaglossa, Fornazzo and Milo.

    The airport at Catania had to close due to ash, which had risen more than a kilometre into the air and made it unsafe to fly, the Ansa news agency reported.

    Photos shared on social media showed ash raining down on houses and a tall column of smoke coming from the mountain and stretching over the buildings below.

    Stefano Branco, head of the INGV National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology, told Italian news agency AGI that the latest burst of activity was "not at all worrying", adding: "We've seen worse".

    By the early hours of Wednesday volcanic activity had started to ease.

  • Massive volcanic eruption rocks Caribbean island of St Vincent

    Vincentians are waking up to extremely heavy ashfall and strong sulfur smell which have now advanced to the capital after powerful explosive eruptions started at La Soufriere volcano on April 9, 2021. The last eruption of this volcano started on April 13, 1979 (VEI 3) and lasted for about 6 months.

    Extremely heavy ashfall and sulfur smell are spreading through the nation on April 10 and have already reached the capital Kingstown (population 16 500), National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) reported at 09:32 UTC.

    Ashfall will be a pervasive hazard throughout St. Vincent and is expected to reach neighboring islands such as Barbados, it added. Volcanic ash is not necessarily deadly but can lead to respiratory problems and may also impact vehicles and plane engines.

    NEMO reported that residents have been evacuated from the Red and Orange zones, adding that 76 shelters with more than 2 000 residents are fully operational.

    The first explosive eruption at Soufriere took place at 12:41 UTC on April 9, after more than 42 years of quiescence. Its last eruption started on April 13, 1979 and lasted to November of the same year -- Volcanic Explosivity Index 3.

    After the initial explosion, seismicity increased again at approximately 15:30 UTC with a swarm of earthquakes lasting until 18:40 UTC.

    Vigorous ash venting resumed at approximately 18:45 UTC, with lightning seen in the ash column due to its highly charged nature. Another explosion took place at 18:48 UTC.

    Continuous tremor has been recorded since 19:00 UTC, with the largest signals accompanying the most vigorous venting

    Violent volcanic ash emissions due to multiple explosive eruptions are ongoing at multiple flight levels, with the highest at 15.8 km (52 000 feet) above sea level, the Washington VAAC reported at 23:46 UTC.

    At 05:43 UTC on April 10, the center reported volcanic ash is extending nearly 740 km (460 miles) ENE from the summit and about 650 km (400 miles) ESE from the summit.

    By 11:13 UTC, ash was reaching over 1 300 km (805 miles) ENE from the summit. The main plume at 14.3 km (47 000 feet) a.s.l. is moving ENE with the highest tops to 15.8 km (52 000 feet). Ashfall N and NE of the summit is seen moving east over St. Lucia.

    Hazard Zone 1 (Red Zone) - Very High Hazard:

    This includes all areas expected to experience maximum damage in the short term and is the zone where all hazardous events have their greatest influence. It is defined by the zone of expected total destruction from pyroclastic flows, surges, and mudflows and by the zone of maximum expected damage from all projectiles. This zone is likely to experience more than 30 cm (12 inches) of ash. During the course of an eruption, this zone would be unsuitable for human habitation.

    Hazard Zone 2 (Orange Zone) - High Hazard:

    This includes all areas of moderate pyroclastic flow and surge hazard, areas within the 5 km (3.1 miles) projectile zone, and areas likely to experience between 10 and 30 cm (4 - 12 inches) of ashfall. These areas will be affected in a similar manner as Zone 1 during large scale eruptions.

    Hazard Zone 3 (Yellow Zone) - Moderate Hazard:

    This zone will be free from the effects of flows and surges but will be affected by 5 to 10 cm (2 - 4 inches) thick ashfalls, minor earthquakes and lightning strikes. This zone will experience significantly less physical damage than Zones 1 and 2.

    Hazard Zone 4 (Green Zone) - Low Hazard:

    This zone includes areas likely to be relatively safe from hazardous events, except for minor ashfall of less than 5 cm (2 inches). Crop damage and disruption of water supply due to ashfall will be the main effect but other physical damage will be minimal.

  • Semeru volcano explodes, spews massive pyroclastic flow-Indonesia

    A massive pyroclastic flow was generated at the Indonesian Semeru volcano at 10:24 UTC (17:24 WIB) on January 16, 2021.

    According to the Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG), the flow slid approximately 4.5 km (2.8 miles) down the southeast and southern slopes of the volcano and was accompanied by lava avalanches with a sliding distance between 500 and 1 000 m (1 640 - 3 280 feet) from Jonggring Seleko Crater towards Besuk Kobokan drainage on the southern flank.

    Ash plumes rose up to 5.5 km (18 050 feet) above sea level.

    A corresponding seismic signal with an amplitude up to 22 mm lasted approximately 1 hour and 2 minutes.

    The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1 - 4), and the public was reminded to stay outside of the general 1 km (0.62 miles) radius from the summit and 4 km (2.5 miles) on the SSE flank.

    MAGMA Indonesia reported that an average of 40 eruptive earthquakes per day has been recorded from October 1 to November 30, 2020. Rock avalanches from the peak have continuously occurred since October 19.

    The number of avalanches significantly increased on November 28, followed by pyroclastic flows with a maximum sliding distance of 1 000 m (3 280 feet) to the southeast portion of the slope.

    On December 1, a spectacular pyroclastic flow was observed from the summit dome with a sliding distance between 2 and 11 km (1 and 7 miles) towards the southeast.

    As a result, dozens of livestock perished in the Pronojiwo District. In addition, 10 heavy-duty mining equipment were damaged.

    In its Volcanic Ash Advisory issued 19:57 UTC on November 30, the Darwin VAAC reported a high-level eruption to 15.2 km (50 000 feet / FL500) a.s.l. and raised the Aviation Color Code to Red.

    However, at 23:21 UTC on the same day, the center said they reassessed the previously reported eruption to FL500 as likely thunderstorm activity -- meaning no such eruption took place. You can see it centered in the video below:

    The eruption at Semeru took place just two days after a high-level eruption at Lewotolo ejected ash up to 15.2 km (50 000 feet) above sea level, prompting nearly 5 000 people to evacuate

    The last high-level eruption at Semeru took place at 12:25 UTC on May 16, 2020, ejecting ash up to 14 km (46 000 feet) above sea level.

    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.

  • Volcanic Alert: Mt. Kilauea Code Red Warning Issued, Hawaii

    A new eruption has started within Kīlauea’s summit caldera, Hawai'i at 07:36 UTC on December 21, 2020. Accordingly, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) has elevated Kīlauea's volcano alert level to WARNING and its aviation color code to RED. 

    The situation is rapidly evolving, HVO said in a statement released at 08:41 UTC today. Civil Defense cautioned that ash fallout is likely in Wood Valley, Pahala, Naalehu and Ocean View, and advised residents and visitors to stay indoors to avoid exposure to ash. The last eruption of this volcano took place in 2018 (VEI 3).

    An earthquake swarm began on the evening (LT) of December 20, accompanied by ground deformation detected by tiltmeters, HVO said.

    An orange glow was subsequently observed on IR monitoring cameras glow within the Halemaʻumaʻu crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano, visually beginning at approximately 07:36 UTC on December 21 (21:36 HST, December 20).

    "An eruption has commenced within Kīlauea’s summit caldera. The situation is rapidly evolving and HVO will issue another statement when more information is available," the observatory said.

    According to the Washington VAAC, the volcanic ash cloud was observed extending 74 km (46 miles) SSW from the summit area at 09:06 UTC. "WFO reports volcanic ash cloud to 9.1 km (30 000 feet) a.s.l. on local radar."

    Civil Defense cautioned that ash fallout is likely in Wood Valley, Pahala, Naalehu and Ocean View, and advised residents and visitors to stay indoors to avoid exposure to ash.

    Bill Hanson of the Hawaii County Civil Defense said Civil Defense has received no reports of damage from the public. In addition, he said no damage was reported at the observatory or within the park.

    Civil Defense also said a M4.4 earthquake that struck at 08:36 UTC today on Kilauea’s south flank was not large enough to cause a tsunami.

    Over the past several weeks, the observatory has recorded ground deformation and earthquake rates at Kīlauea Volcano’s summit and upper East Rift Zone that have exceeded background levels observed since the conclusion of the 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption and summit collapse.

    Beginning in September 2020, increased rates of uplift were observed by GPS stations in Kīlauea’s upper East Rift Zone.

    In the past month, increased uplift has also been measured at GPS stations in Kīlauea’s summit region. While uplift related to post-collapse inflation of the summit reservoir has been occurring since March of 2019, rates have been steadily increasing in recent months and are currently higher than they have been since the end of the 2018 eruption.

    In late November 2020, increased earthquake rates began when seismic stations recorded an average of at least 480 shallow, small-magnitude earthquakes (97% of which were less than or equal to magnitude-2) per week occurring at depths of less than 4 km (2.5 miles) beneath Kīlauea's summit and upper East Rift Zone. This compares to a rate of fewer than 180 per week following the end of Kīlauea’s 2018 eruption and through early November 2020.

    On December 2, 2020, GPS stations and tiltmeters recorded a ground deformation event at Kīlauea’s summit.

    Accompanied by earthquake swarms, the patterns of ground deformation observed were consistent with a small dike intrusion of magma under the southern part of Kīlauea caldera. The injection resulted in about 8 cm (3 inches) of uplift of the caldera floor, and modeling suggests that it represented 0.4–0.7 million cubic meters (yards) of magma accumulated approximately 1.5 km (1 mile) beneath the surface.

    Though the intrusion did not reach the surface and erupt, it represented a notable excursion from trends observed in the Kīlauea summit monitoring data streams following the end of the 2018 eruption.

    On December 17, 2020, seismometers detected a notable increase in occurrence and duration of long-period seismic signals beneath Kīlauea’s summit, which are attributed to magmatic activity. Whereas this type of seismicity was observed on average once every few weeks following the 2018 eruption, rates have increased to over a dozen in the past several days.

    Other monitoring data streams including volcanic gas and webcam imagery were stable until this eruption, HVO said.

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