Volcano Report fr/E. Klemetti

Eruption Update: Copahue, Poás, Sinabung, Kilauea, Holuhraun and Italy

Webcam image of Copahue in Chile, seen on October 16, 2014. A small steam-and-ash plume can be seen along with deposits of fresh, dark grey across on the volcanoes slopes. Image: SERNAGEOMIN.

I apologize for being missing for the last week. The big Geological Society of America meeting is next week in Vancouver BC and not only am I giving a talk and co-chairing a session, but two of my students are presenting posters. Needless to say, things have been busy. My talk centers on what zircon can tell us about the storage conditions and source magmas across the Cascade Range. I have zircon data from four Cascade volcanoes: St. Helens, Hood, South Sister and Lassen, it is a great chance to see how the differences in different parts of the Cascade arc might influence the composition of zircon. My two students are both presenting on their pieces of the Lassen Volcanic Center project, so we’ll be presenting over 800,000 years of zircon data.

Not only that, but I also built a volcano on the Denison campus, so if you missed the video of that, check it out.

So, without further ado, here’s some brief updates around the world of volcanoes:


The Holuhraun lava field eruption is now one of the largest continuous eruptions in the past few centuries in Iceland here in its second month of activity. Lava flows and fountains are continuing on the plain between Barðarbunga and Askja while the Barðarbunga caldera itself is still subsiding at a rate of 30-40 cm/day. So far, that subsidence is over 0.75 cubic kilometers of lost volume below the caldera floor and large earthquakes are still occurring near the caldera. The biggest danger from this eruption so far has been the copious sulfur dioxide emissions that continue to cause problems for people in Iceland (depending on the winds). If you want to see some stunning images of the eruption, check these out — especially some of the overhead shots of the lava flows. Also, there might be something lost in translation, but Haraldur Sigurðsson make the odd prediction that the eruption would end on March 4, 2015 — a little too specific for my tastes.


Sinabung has entered back into a phase of more intense dome-collapse pyroclastic flows. This crisis at Sinabung has now lasted well over a year and local residents are running into problems with access to food and water. Not only that, but rainfall around the volcano combined with these eruptions has caused the threat of volcanic mudflows (lahars) to increase dramatically. The loose volcanic ash and debris is easily remobilized when heavy rains occur, creating a concrete-like slurry that can be very damaging and dangerous. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some of the pyroclastic flows have also triggered fires in the regions around Sinabung.


Copahue has had a number of moderate explosive eruptions over the last week that prompted some minor evacuations of herders near the volcano. This is the third bout of explosive activity at the volcano since it became restless at the end of 2012. The alert status at Copahue is Orange and if you want to check out what is up there, use the SERNAGEOMIN webcam.

Costa Rica

Poás experienced a number of explosions as well. These mainly steam-driven events closed off the summit of the volcano to tourists for a few days, but access has been reopened after signs of the volcano settling down again – although the overall unrest continues. Be sure to check out the OVSICORI time-lapse video of the explosion as well.


The lava flow headed down the slopes of Kilauea towards Pahoa is still continuing to crawl forward. Now the flows are moving at ~25 meters/day, but the threat still remains for the flows to reach houses and roads if it continues to flow. The current estimate has the flow reaching Apaa Street in Pahoa around November 1. So far, the only damage the flows have caused is to vegetation.


In case you missed it, be sure to read David Wolman’s coverage of the appeal for the Italian geologists convicted in the aftermath of the L’Aquila earthquake. It still amazes me how much the Italian judicial system is willing to believe in charlatans and find scapegoats for an act of nature.

from:    http://www.wired.com/2014/10/eruption-update-copahue-poas-sinabung-kilauea-holuhraun-italy/#more-1601379

Erik Kelmetti’s Volcano Update

Eruption Update for January 13, 2014: Sinabung, Pacaya, Shiveluch and Etna

An a’a lava flow from Pacaya in Guatemala burning its way through a forest, seen on January 11, 2014. Image: CONRED.

Some volcano news to start off the week of January 13, 2014:


The eruption at Sinabung is continuing unabated and now evacuees have reached over 25,000. The repeated cycle of dome building and collapse are producing dozens of pyroclastic flows, mainly within 5-7 km of the summit of Sinabung. However, the significant ash fall that accompanies such eruptions has been enough to collapse roofs and destroy homes in villages near the volcano. Ash has also been falling as far as Medan (the capital of North Sumatra), which is ~60 km (35 miles) from Sinabung and Langkat, which is ~77 km (48 miles) away. The economic impact is being felt not only in the agricultural core of the region, but also in tourism.


Eruptions at Pacaya has also prompted CONRED to call for evacuations, but on a much smaller scale than at Sinabung. Lava flows stretching 3 km from the main summit of the volcano are the cause for this limited evacuation for people living closest to the volcano. Explosive activity has accompanied these lava flows as well — a very typical behavior for these Strombolian eruptions at Pacaya. Even as basaltic lava, these a’a lava flows (see above) do not move quickly, as these images of CONRED officials examining the flow can attest, so the real hazard is to structures that stand in the path of these extensive lava flows.


Shiveluch has started off 2014 with a bang as well. Ash plumes reaching 7-9 km (25,000-30,000 feet) along with pyroclastic flows have been occurring due to the same cycle of dome building and collapse that we’re seeing at Sinabung — a very standard behavior for arc volcanoes like these two. Thanks to its remote location, Shiveluch doesn’t pose much in the way of human hazard, but some villages on the Kamchatkan Peninsula have had some minor ash fall due to the eruptions. You might be able to check out the action on the Shiveluch webcam as well.


I meant to mention this last week, but Dr. Boris Behncke had a brief post on the rumbling at the Northeast Crater of Etna. Over the past year, much of the action has been at the New Southeast Crater, but that is a recent phenomenon. Although the Northeast Crater has taken a back seat lately, minus some ash emissions, apparently there is some speculation that this could change based on its current state of degassing.

from:    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2014/01/eruption-update-for-january-13-2014-sinabung-pacaya-and-etna/#more-499781

Ongoing Sinabung Eruption -Indonesia

The Eruption and Humanitarian Crisis at Indonesia’s Sinabung Continues

A woman carries her daughter in a nearby field as Mount Sinabung spews pyroclastic ash and debris on January 4, 2014 in Karo District, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Webcam captures of Sinabung, showing (left) a pyroclastic flow and (right) the debris left from repeated pyroclastic flows, both on January 8, 2013. Image: PVMBG webcam.

In what is becoming a larger danger (and potential disaster), activity at Sinabung appears to be increasing daily, with more explosions and resultant pyroclastic flows streaming down the slopes of the volcano (see right) in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Some of these flows are reaching up to 5 km from the summit of Sinabung.

All of this activity is centered around the growing lava dome at the summit of Sinabung — that dome was filmed in low light this past weekend and it really shows the glowing dome with hot debris (the main component of the pyroclastic flows) cascading down the slopes. The pyroclastic flows are leaving a clear light grey deposit on the volcano, ominously pointed towards the location of the PVMBG webcam (see below). The plume from Sinabung is regularly reaching 4-5 km (13,000-16,000 feet) with hundreds of small-to-moderate explosions over the past week.

Looking up information on this eruption, I came across what might be the most striking image I’ve seen that brings together this volcanic eruption with the people being impacted by this activity (see above). This woman is holding her daughter in front of crops that are grown near Sinabung, all with a stunning pyroclastic flow from the volcano being erupted in the background. I can’t even fathom what it must be like to be near your home knowing that it could be destroyed by an eruption of this scale.

With eruptions such as this current activity at Sinabung, it can be easy to forget how disruptive to people’s lives they can be. Although some eruptions do have singular explosions that cause destruction, many eruptions are not simply a single event. Activity can stretch on for weeks, months, even years and the displacement of people living near the volcano can cause a crisis independent of the activity itself.

I’ve written about how significant a problem this is in a volcanically-active country like Indonesia — how does a country deal with the displacement of tens of thousands of people for an undefined time or, in some cases, forever? Two main problems arise: (1) keeping living conditions sanitary and safe at refugee camps can be very difficult and (2) long-term evacuations can cause people to become complacent and then they try to return homes/farms before it is safe. These are some of the biggest challenges during volcanic hazard mitigation.

It may have taken a few months, but currently, at least 22,000 people have been evacuated from danger zone (now defined at 5-7 km) around Sinabung. This has put a heavy strain on the refugee camps set up to deal with the influx of refugees and if the eruption continues to intensify, then these numbers will grow. We mustn’t forget that even without the “big bang” eruption, people are put in danger’s way by merely being moved

from:    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/eruptions/

Volcanic Activity: Etna & Sinabung

Eruption Update for November 24, 2013: Sinabung and Etna

Webcam capture of the November 23, 2013 eruption of Etna in Italy. Image: @Culturevolcan / Twitter

Quick post as I get ready for our Thanksgiving Week trip to the great white north (also known as Chicago):


The PVMBG has moved Sinabung up to its highest alert after a series of powerful explosions overnight reaching 2-8 km (6,500-25,000 feet). In the region around the volcano, over 12,000 people in over 17 villages have been evacuated due to the increasingly hazardous activity at the volcano. Right now, it seems like no one is quite sure what is going to come next — all that we know is that activity has been on the increase over the last month. Although the ash from these explosions have cause some flight disruptions, it is not yet a threat to people living in the regional capitol, roughly 50 kilometers (31 miles) away.


Meanwhile in Italy, Etna had yet another paroxysm, this time less than a week since its last one. This one produced a significant ash plume with lava fountaining, but little-to-no lava flow activity. One of the more impressive videos I’ve seen for the eruption was one taken by hikers on Etna who had basaltic scoria rain down on them. VolcanoDiscovery also posted a time-lapse of yesterday’s eruption.

from:    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/eruptions/