January 17, 2011 – Active Volcanoes of the World: The above global map reflects active volcanoes as of today. The red triangles (items 1 to 8 below) indicate new activity while the yellow triangles (9 to 18) show ongoing events.
There is nothing more awe inspiring, freighting and potentially earth changing than volcanoes. Although earthquakes, and other disasters, can cause tremendous damage and cataclysmic earth changes; the colossal explosion of great volcanoes reminds us how insignificant the human race is in the face of nature.
There are two main volcano warning systems – color codes, and alert levels. Warning systems are specific for each volcano. Volcano warning systems are based on a probability of an eruption or hazard. Level 1 – Green: No eruption in foreseeable future. Level 2 – Yellow: Magmatic, tectonic or hydrothermal disturbance, no eruption imminent. Level 3 – Orange: If trend of increasing unrest continues, eruption possible within 2 weeks. Level 4 – Red: Eruption possible within 24 hours. Only one item (#16) is classified as red level 4, five as orange level 3 (# 2, #3, #12, #14 and #19), one as yellow level 2 (# 3) and 12 are unclassified. The country summary is as follows: Ecuador (3), the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula (3), Chile (2), Guatemala (2), Yemen (1), The Democratic Republic of the Congo (1), Japan (1), Hawaii, USA (1), Mexico (1), Italy (1), Columbia (1), Indonesia (1) and the Canary Islands (1).
I will briefly cover the volcanoes on this map, with the new activity first and ongoing second.
NEWLY ACTIVE VOLCANOES (Red Triangles on the map):
‘1. ETNA Sicily (Italy) 37.734°N, 15.004°E; summit elev. 3,330 m (10,824 ft.): On the night of 4 January the New southeast Crater of Etna entered another paroxysmal eruption episode after about 50 days of quiescence. Several hours of activity were observed on the SE and NE slopes starting at 10:30PM on 4 January. This activity continued into the early morning of 5 January when (around 2:00AM) a small lava flow spread out into several branches at the SE base of the cone. Activity increased around 4:00AM, generating lava fountains, from several vents within the crater that rose 100-150 m (328-492 ft.) above the crater. See my post, dated January 6, 2012; on this event. See prior posts dated Sept. 30, 2011 “Mount Etna Erupts in a Spectacular Display of Fire;” and Aug. 30, 2011 “Mount Etna in Italy.” Use the search box to fine these, or click on “Volcanoes” in the right hand column.
‘2. GALERAS Colombia 1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4,276 m (14,025 ft.): Low-level activity continued at Galeras during 4-10 January, with steam rising from the main crater and two craters to the north and southwest (Paisita and Chavas, respectively). The Alert Level remained at 3 Orange – changes in the behavior of volcanic activity.
‘3. LEWOTOLO Lomblen Island (Indonesia) 8.272°S, 123.505°E; summit elev. 1,423 m (4,667 ft.): According to news articles, 500 people have evacuated their homes on 6 January because of increased activity at Lewotolo. Black smoke rose from the crater and rumbling sounds were reported. On 2 January the Alert Level was increased from 2 (Yellow) to 3 (Orange).
‘4. LASCAR Northern Chile 23.37°S, 67.73°W; summit elev. 5,592 m (18,342 ft.): Increased seismicity at Láscar on 5 January and raised the Alert Level from green (level 1) to yellow (2). On 8 January authorities warned residents about the new Alert Level status and restricted residents from going within a 20-km radius (12 miles) of the volcano.
‘5. NYAMURAGIRA Democratic Republic of Congo 1.408°S, 29.20°E; summit elev. 3,058 m (10,030 ft.): Satellite imagery acquired on 3 January from the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s EO-1 satellite showed an active lava flow to the northeast of the central vent over the fissure located 11-12 km (7 miles) ENE of Nyamuragira’s main crater. A sulfur dioxide-rich plume was also detected. See prior posts dated Nov. 15, 2011 “Over 1 Million at Risk from Mount Nyamuragira Volcanic Eruption;” and Nov. 8, 2011 “The Congo’s Nyamuragira Volcano Erupts in Spectacular Display of Fire and Lava.”
‘6. REVENTADOR Ecuador 0.077°S, 77.656°W; summit elev. 3,562 m (11,684 ft.): Volcanologists conducting fieldwork at Reventador during 6-7 January observed constant emissions of gas-and-steam rising about 300 m (984 ft.) above the crater and drifting WNW. The emissions originated from a growing lava dome that was a few tens of meters (10 meters is 32.8 feet) above the crater rim and almost filled the base.
‘7. SANGAY Ecuador 2.002°S, 78.341°W; summit elev. 5,230 m (17,154 ft.): Based on information from local volcanologists and a pilot report, a possible ash plume from Sangay was reported on 8 January. Ash was not detected in partly-cloudy satellite imagery.
‘8. TUNGURAHUA Ecuador 1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5,023 m (16,475 ft.): Volcanologists reported a decrease in activity from Tungurahua during 4-10 January. On 4 January steam plumes rose as high as 500 m (1,640 ft.) above the crater and drifted west. Additional steam plumes observed on 8 January also drifted west. See prior post dated Nov. 29, 2011 “Ecuador’s Mount Tungurahua Volcano Erupts in Fiery Display.”
‘9. ZUBAIR GROUP Yemen 15.05°N, 42.18°E; summit elev. 191 m (626 ft.): A satellite image acquired on 7 January showed the newly-formed island in the northern part of the Zubair Group. The island had grown to about 530 x 710 m (1,738 to 2,329 ft.), and a gas-and-steam plume containing ash rose from a distinct cone.
ONGOING ACTIVITY (Yellow Triangles on the map):
‘10. FUEGO Guatemala 14.473°N, 90.880°W; summit elev. 3,763 m (12,343 ft.): Volcanologists reported that on 6 and 10 January weak explosions from Fuego generated ash plumes that rose 300-600 m (984 to 1,968 ft.) above the crater and drifted 10 km (6 miles) WNW and 15 km (9 miles) southwest, respectively. Rumbling noises were detected several kilometers away. Incandescence emanated from the crater at night and avalanches descended the south, southwest, and southeast flanks. Based on information from satellite observations, an ash plume drifted southeast and later dispersed on 3 January.
’11. HIERRO Canary Islands (Spain) 27.73°N, 18.03°W; summit elev. 1,500 m (4,920 ft.): Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) reported that during 4-10 January, the submarine eruption continued south of El Hierro Island. The mean amplitude of the tremor slightly increased during the week. During this period, large floating lava fragments were observed close to the vent area and generating steam. The production of these fragments was especially intense during 6-8 January. See prior post dated Oct. 19, 2011 “Spain’s El Hierro Island, Near Submerged Volcano, at Condition Red.”
’12. KARYMSKY Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) 54.05°N, 159.45°E; summit elev. 1,536 m (5,038 ft.): Volcanologists reported that seismic activity continued at a moderate level at Karymsky during 30 December-6 January and indicated that possible ash plumes rose to an altitude of 4.5 km (14,800 ft.). Satellite imagery showed a thermal anomaly on the volcano all week. An ash cloud 10 km (6.2 miles) long and 2 km (1.2 miles) wide drifted 56 km (35 miles) SSE on 1 January. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (level 3).
’13. KILAUEA Hawaii (USA) 19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1,222 m (4,008 ft.): During 4-10 January, volcanologists reported that the lava lake circulated and periodically rose and fell in the deep pit within Kilauea’s Halema’uma’u Crater, remaining below the inner ledge, 75 m or 246 ft. below the crater floor. Almost daily measurements indicated that the gas plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of ash and fresh spatter nearby.
’14. KIZIMEN Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) 55.130°N, 160.32°E; summit elev. 2,376 m (7,793 ft.): Volcanologists reported moderate seismic activity at Kizimen during 30 December-6 January and a large thermal anomaly that was detected daily in satellite images. Video and satellite observations indicated both continued effusion of a large lava flow on the east flank and hot avalanches. Video data also showed strong gas-and-steam activity. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (Level 3).
’15. POPOCATEPETL México 19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5,426 m (17,797 ft.): Volcanologists reported that during 4-10 January steam-and-gas emissions rose from Popocatépetl; the plumes contained small amounts of ash during 4-5 January and 8-10 January. On 5 January two explosions generated incandescence in the crater.
’16. PUYEHUE-CORDON CAULLE Central Chile 40.590°S, 72.117°W; summit elev. 2,236 m (7,334 ft.): Based on seismicity during 6-8 January volcanologists reported that the eruption from the Cordón Caulle rift zone, part of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex, continued at a low level. Plumes observed with a web camera rose 2 km (1,243 ft.) above the crater on 6 January. Satellite images showed ash plumes drifting 50 km (31 miles) south on 6 January and 300-450 km (19 to 28 miles) southeast during 8-9 January. Clouds prevented views on the other days. The Alert Level remained at Red (Level 4). See prior posts dated Dec. 23, 2011 “Picture of the Year – The Puyehue-Cordon Caulle Volcano, in Chile, Erupts in June, 2011;” and Oct. 19, 2011 “Chile’s Mount Puyehue Volcano Roars Back to Life.”
’17. SAKURA-JIMA Kyushu, Japan, 31.585°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1,117 m (3,664 ft.): Based on information from JMA, the Tokyo VAAC reported that during 4-10 January explosions from Sakura-jima produced plumes that rose to altitudes of 1.5-2.7 km (5,000-9,000 ft.) and drifted NE, E, SE, and S. On 7 January an ash plume rose to an altitude 2.7 km (9,000 ft.) and drifted SE, and then later dissipated.
’18. SANTA MARIA Guatemala 14.756°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3,772 m (12,372 ft.): Scientists reported that on 6 and 10 January explosions Santa María’s Santiaguito lava-dome complex generated ash plumes that rose 600 m (1,968 ft.) above the complex and drifted N and W, respectively. Crater incandescence was observed at night and active lava flows on the SE and SW flanks generated block avalanches. Based on analyses of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that an ash plume drifted 18.5 km (11.5 miles) E of the Mexico border.
’19. SHIVELUCH Central Kamchatka (Russia) 56.653°N, 161.360°E; summit elev. 3,283 m (10,768 ft.): Scientists reported that moderate seismic activity was detected at Shiveluch during 30 December-6 January. Satellite imagery showed a daily thermal anomaly over the lava dome. Ground-based observers noted that a viscous (gooey) lava flow continued to effuse (spread) in the crater that was formed during a 2010 eruption. Moderate fumarolic activity (a hole in a volcanic area from which hot smoke and gases escape) at the lava dome was observed during 30-31 December and on 2 and 4 January; clouds prevented observations on the other days of the week. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (level 3). See prior post dated Aug. 29, 2011 “Mount Shiveluch Stages Spectacular Eruption.”
The Master of Disaster