Active volcanoes in the world: April 17 – April 23, 2013

This week, one volcano had new activity, whereas ongoing activity was reported for 10 volcanoes. This report covers active volcanoes in the world recorded from April 17 – April 23, 2013 based on Smithsonian/USGS criteria.

New activity/unrest: | Soputan, Sulawesi

Ongoing activity: | Batu Tara, Komba Island (Indonesia) | Etna, Sicily (Italy) | Kilauea, Hawaii (USA) | Kizimen, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Manam, Northeast of New Guinea (SW Pacific) | Paluweh, Lesser Sunda Islands (Indonesia) | Rabaul, New Britain | Sakura-jima, Kyushu | Shiveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Tolbachik, 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 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.


New activity/unrest


SOPUTAN, Sulawesi

1.108°N, 124.73°E; summit elev. 1784 m

CVGHM reported that seismicity at Soputan increased during January-18 April and then significantly increased on 19 April. The Alert Level was raised to 3 (on a scale of 1-4) on 19 April. Visitors and residents were prohibited from going within a 6.5-km radius of the crater.

Geologic summary: The small conical volcano of Soputan on the southern rim of the Quaternary Tondano caldera is one of Sulawesi's most active volcanoes. During historical time the locus of eruptions has included both the summit crater and Aeseput, a prominent NE-flank vent that formed in 1906 and was the source of intermittent major lava flows until 1924.


Ongoing activity


BATU TARA, Komba Island (Indonesia)

7.792°S, 123.579°E; summit elev. 748 m

Based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) reported that during 17 and 20-21 April ash plumes from Batu Tara rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 45-55 km N, NW, and W. On 23 April an ash plume rose to an altitude of 1.5 km (5,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 18-27 km NW.

Geologic summary: The small isolated island of Batu Tara in the Flores Sea about 50 km north of Lembata (formerly Lomblen) Island contains a scarp on the eastern side similar to the Sciara del Fuoco of Italy's Stromboli volcano. Vegetation covers the flanks of Batu Tara to within 50 m of the 748-m-high summit. Batu Tara lies north of the main volcanic arc and is noted for its potassic leucite-bearing basanitic and tephritic rocks. The first historical eruption from Batu Tara, during 1847-52, produced explosions and a lava flow.


ETNA, Sicily (Italy)

37.734°N, 15.004°E; summit elev. 3330 m

Sezione di Catania - Osservatorio Etneo reported that the eleventh lava-fountaining episode of 2013 began at Etna's New Southeast Crater (NSEC) on 18 April. Activity increased on 16 April with ejected incandescent tephra and small ash puffs from a vent inside NSEC, followed by weak Strombolian explosions. Strombolian explosions became more frequent and intense on the morning of 18 April and then were almost continuous by 1300. During the next two hours lava fountains developed and a dense plume drifted SSW. Ash and lapilli fell in between the villages of Ragalna, Belper, and Paterno, as well as the tourist area "Etna Sud." Lapilli-fall was a few centimeters deep and clasts were at most 5 cm in diameter. Three lava flows were produced; the largest flowed through the deep notch in the SE rim of the crater and traveled 4 km towards the Valle del Bove. The interaction of the lava with snow led to rapid melting, generating small lahars. The two other lava flows originated in the saddle between the two SEC cones; one traveled N and the other S. After the lava fountains ceased, strong explosions were heard the rest of the day. On 19 April explosions produced little puffs of ash and ejected hot tephra.

The twelfth episode occurred two days later during the late afternoon of 20 April. Intermittent explosions ejected incandescent tephra and generated small ash puffs on 19 April. During the evening a large dark plume rose from NSEC, and sporadic Strombolian explosions were observed. The explosive activity ceased in the late evening, but shortly afterwards the lower of the two effusive vents at the base of the NSEC cone produced a lava flow that traveled 1.5 km towards the Valle del Bove. Around 1700 ash puffs rose from the crater, followed by incandescent tephra ejected at 1713. Within a few minutes sustained lava fountains were observed, along with a tall eruption plume that drifted E. Ash and lapilli fell over a wide area to the E, including along the Ionian coastline, just S of Guardia Mangano, up to Fiumefreddo, including the towns of Taormina, Ripon, and Mascali, and further upstream, including Santa Venerina, Zafferana, Milo, and Sant'Alfio.

On 20 April several lava flows on the W wall of the Valle del Bove interacted with the snow, generating explosions and lahars. Around 1815 lava-fountain activity decreased and turned into explosions and ash emissions. At 1840 the paroxysm was over. In the evening, the lava flow emitted from the effusive vent at the base of the SE part of the NSEC cone was still well-fed. Poor weather conditions prevented visual observations until the evening of 21 April, when surveillance videos showed sporadic Strombolian explosions accompanied by small ash puffs at the NSEC, and the emission of a small lava flow from the base of the cone.

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.



19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m

During 17-23 April HVO reported that the circulating lava lake periodically rose and fell in the deep pit within Kilauea's Halema'uma'u Crater. The plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of ash, spatter, and Pele's hair onto nearby areas.

At Pu'u 'O'o Crater, glow emanated from three spatter cones and a small lava pond on the crater floor. Just before midnight on 19 April a vigorous lava flow gushed out of the N spatter cone and quickly covered the N portion of the crater floor, then went over the E rim. The lava pond on the NE crater's edge briefly overflowed. On 21 April the two spatter cones on the S portion of the crater floor produced lava flows.

Two lava flows (Peace Day and Kahauale'a) were fed by lava tubes extending from Pu'u 'O'o. Multiple lava flows from the NE spatter cone, collectively called the Kahauale'a flow, stopped advancing on 20 April, although a few breakout lava flows were observed during 20-22 April. Peace Day activity consisted of lava flows active above the pali (5 km SE of Pu'u 'O'o), on the pali, and on the coastal plain. Lava also entered the ocean at two or three locations spanning the National Park boundary.

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.


KIZIMEN, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)

55.130°N, 160.32°E; summit elev. 2376 m

KVERT reported that during 12-19 April moderate seismic activity continued at Kizimen. Video and satellite data showed that lava continued to extrude from the summit, producing incandescence, strong gas-and-steam activity, and hot avalanches on the W and E flanks. Satellite images detected a daily thermal anomaly over the volcano. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Geologic summary: Kizimen is an isolated, conical stratovolcano that is morphologically similar to Mount St. Helens prior to its 1980 eruption. The summit of Kizimen consists of overlapping lava domes, and blocky lava flows descend the flanks of the volcano, which is the westernmost of a volcanic chain north of Kronotsky volcano. The 2,376-m-high Kizimen was formed during four eruptive cycles beginning about 12,000 years ago and lasting 2,000-3,500 years. The largest eruptions took place about 10,000 and 8300-8400 years ago, and three periods of longterm lava-dome growth have occurred. The latest eruptive cycle began about 3,000 years ago with a large explosion and was followed by lava-dome growth lasting intermittently about 1,000 years. An explosive eruption about 1,100 years ago produced a lateral blast and created a 1.0 x 0.7 km wide crater breached to the NE, inside which a small lava dome (the fourth at Kizimen) has grown. A single explosive eruption, during 1927-28, has been recorded in historical time.


MANAM, Northeast of New Guinea (SW Pacific)

4.080°S, 145.037°E; summit elev. 1807 m

RVO reported that a high level of activity at Manam continued on 15 April. Ash plumes rose 500 m above the crater. A loud explosion was heard at 0804. At about 1950 dense ash plumes rose 2 km and drifted SW. At night loud jet-like noises were reported by residents in Bogia, 25-30 km SSW of Manam on the N coast of the mainland. Bright red glow was visible within the dense mixture of ash plumes and atmospheric clouds. Lava was observed flowing from a new vent on the headwall of SW valley during a brief clear period from 1800 to 1850. Ash and scoria fell in most villages between Dugulava on the SW side of the island and Kuluguma on the NW side. Similar activity continued during the first half of 16 April and then changed to gentle light gray ash emissions until 20 April. On 23 April dense white vapor plumes occasionally rose from the crater.

Geologic summary: The 10-km-wide island of Manam, lying 13 km off the northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, is one of the country's most active volcanoes. Four large radial valleys extend from the unvegetated summit of the conical 1807-m-high basaltic-andesitic stratovolcano to its lower flanks. These "avalanche valleys," regularly spaced 90 degrees apart, channel lava flows and pyroclastic avalanches that have sometimes reached the coast. Two summit craters are present; both are active, although most historical eruptions have originated from the southern crater, concentrating eruptive products during much of the past century into the SE avalanche valley. Frequent historical eruptions, typically of mild-to-moderate scale, have been recorded at Manam since 1616. Occasional larger eruptions have produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached flat-lying coastal areas and entered the sea, sometimes impacting populated areas.


PALUWEH, Lesser Sunda Islands (Indonesia)

8.32°S, 121.708°E; summit elev. 875 m

Based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 20 April an ash plume from Paluweh rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 45 km NW.

Geologic summary: Paluweh volcano, also known as Rokatenda, forms the 8-km-wide island of Paluweh N of the volcanic arc that cuts across Flores Island. Although the volcano rises about 3,000 m above the sea floor, its summit reaches only 875 m above sea level. The broad irregular summit region contains overlapping craters up to 900 m wide and several lava domes. Several flank vents occur along a NW-trending fissure. The largest historical eruption of Paluweh occurred in 1928, when a strong explosive eruption was accompanied by landslide-induced tsunamis and lava-dome emplacement.


RABAUL, New Britain

4.271°S, 152.203°E; summit elev. 688 m

RVO reported that during 15-23 April white vapor plumes containing some ash rose at most 100 m from Rabaul caldera's Tavurvur cone and drifted SE. Roaring and rumbling noises were less intense than during previous weeks. Based on analyses of satellite imagery, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 18 April an ash plume rose to an altitude of 4.6 km (15,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted more than 35 km E. Satellite images later that day showed that the plume had dispersed.

Geologic summary: The low-lying Rabaul caldera on the tip of the Gazelle Peninsula at the NE end of New Britain forms a broad sheltered harbor. The outer flanks of the 688-m-high asymmetrical pyroclastic shield volcano are formed by thick pyroclastic-flow deposits. The 8 x 14 km caldera is widely breached on the E, where its floor is flooded by Blanche Bay. Two major Holocene caldera-forming eruptions at Rabaul took place as recently as 3,500 and 1,400 years ago. Three small stratovolcanoes lie outside the northern and NE caldera rims. Post-caldera eruptions built basaltic-to-dacitic pyroclastic cones on the caldera floor near the NE and western caldera walls. Several of these, including Vulcan cone, which was formed during a large eruption in 1878, have produced major explosive activity during historical time. A powerful explosive eruption in 1994 occurred simultaneously from Vulcan and Tavurvur volcanoes and forced the temporary abandonment of Rabaul city.



31.585°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m

Based on information from JMA, the Tokyo VAAC reported that on 17 April an eruption from Sakura-jima produced an ash plume that rose to an altitude of 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E. JMA reported that three large eruptions from Showa Crater occurred during 19-22 April and ejected tephra at most 1.3 km from the crater. Crater incandescence was detected at night.

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.


SHIVELUCH, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

56.653°N, 161.360°E; summit elev. 3283 m

Based on visual observations and analyses of satellite data, KVERT reported that during 12-19 April a viscous lava flow effused on the NW flank of Shiveluch's lava dome, accompanied by hot avalanches, incandescence, and fumarolic activity. Satellite imagery showed a daily thermal anomaly on the lava dome. Based on analyses of satellite imagery, the Tokyo VAAC reported that on 22 April ash plumes rose to an altitude of 3.7 km (12,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE. Subsequent images that day showed that the ash had dissipated. 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.


TOLBACHIK, Central Kamchatka (Russia)

55.830°N, 160.330°E; summit elev. 3682 m

KVERT reported that the S fissure along the W side of Tolbachinsky Dol, a lava plateau on the SW side of Tolbachik, continued to produce very fluid lava flows during 12-19 April that traveled to the W, S, and E sides of the plateau. Cinder cones continued to grow along the S fissure. Gas-and-ash plumes rose to an altitude of 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions. A large thermal anomaly on the N part of Tolbachinsky Dol was visible daily in satellite imagery. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Geologic summary: The massive Tolbachik basaltic volcano is located at the southern end of the dominantly andesitic Kliuchevskaya volcano group. The Tolbachik massif is composed of two overlapping, but morphologically dissimilar volcanoes. The flat-topped Plosky Tolbachik shield volcano with its nested Holocene Hawaiian-type calderas up to 3 km in diameter is located east of the older and higher sharp-topped Ostry Tolbachik stratovolcano. The summit caldera at Plosky Tolbachik was formed in association with major lava effusion about 6500 years ago and simultaneously with a major southward-directed sector collapse of Ostry Tolbachik volcano. Lengthy rift zones extending NE and SSW of the volcano have erupted voluminous basaltic lava flows during the Holocene, with activity during the past two thousand years being confined to the narrow axial zone of the rifts. The 1975-76 eruption originating from the SSW-flank fissure system and the summit was the largest historical basaltic eruption in Kamchatka.

Source: Global Volcanism Program

Featured image: Mike Baird - CC BY 2.0


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