In Mexico the Popocatepetl is still active and has produced 4 ash clouds since yesterday. They reached an altitude of up to 6700 m and drifted towards the northeast. On nightly photos it can be seen that red glowing tephra was erupted, which fell down on the volcano flanks. CENAPRED also reported 93 ash-steam exhalations, 448 minutes of tremors and 2 volcano-tectonic earthquakes. So it seems that more magma is rising again and further activity must be expected. The explosions could increase.
Tonight began the long-awaited eruption of the Piton de la Fournaise on La Réunion. At 04:40 (local time) volcanic quakes occurred, which marked the beginning of the eruption. Prior to this, there was a seismic crisis lasting more than 2 hours, which was accompanied by rapid ground deformation. It was caused by the magma rise. The volcanologists of the OVPF flew with the helicopter to the eruption site and were able to locate the eruption fissures exactly. Over a total distance of about 700 m three fissures opened. They are located on the west-southwestern flank of the volcano, at an altitude between 2300 and 2190 m. At the time of the overflight, between 7:00 and 7:30 local time, the three fissures were active and ejected lava fountains about 15 meters high. They fed a lava flow. The flow front spread only slowly and was at about 2120 m altitude.
The situation at the Indonesian volcano Merapi (Java) is getting more and more dangerous. The BPPTKG confirmed that several geophysical parameters indicate that a magma body has detached from the magma reservoir at a depth of 5 km and has risen to a depth of 1.3 km below the crater. Electronic distance measurements confirmed the magma ascent. GPS data showed a daily inflation of 12 cm already in November. When the magma reaches the crater, the dome will grow dramatically. Satellites already observe a swelling of the ground on an area of 100,000 square meters. So far there are no signs that the ascent will be stopped. Compared to the end of November, the seismic activity has decreased somewhat, but is still at a high level. Around 400 vibrations of different origin are recorded daily. Hybrid earthquakes are strongly represented, but also flat volcanic tectonic vibrations. They occur when the magma ascent breaks up surrounding rock because the magma creates new space. The people at Merapi are facing turbulent times.
The Mauna Loa in Hawaii was shaken by an earthquake of magnitude 4.1 last night. The epicenter was on the northwest flank, 29 km east of Captain Cook. The depth of the hypocenter was estimated to be 4.7 km. It was the strongest earthquake that had manifested itself for several months under the largest volcano in the world.
Kilauea: Swarm quake with inflation
But seismic activity is not only high under Mauna Loa, but also under the neighboring volcano Kilauea. There was an earthquake swarm there in the last few days which was accompanied by a short but strong phase of inflation. The HVO wrote that on December 2 more than 220 earthquakes occurred within 24 hours. These earthquakes occurred in clusters under the caldera and the Upper East Rift Zone, at depths of 1-4 km. The inflation was 12-14 µrad. Since then the seismic activity has calmed down again. However, earthquakes are still recorded.
On the live diagrams it can be seen that a total of more than 250 earthquakes had occurred in the Kilauea area. The inflation is also very visible.
It started at 05:10 local time and ended at 05:54. The episode was accompanied by surface deformations that remained extremely weak and were located at the top of the Piton de la Fournaise. Since then, no deformation has been observed and the seismicity has decreased significantly. Until 7:00 a.m. there were still 4 earthquakes. Magma had tried to rise to the surface, but got stuck in the rock again. But it is only a matter of time until enough pressure is built up in the magma body to break through on one of the next attempts.
On the Russian peninsula Kamchatka the Klyuchevskoy erupted yesterday ash clouds, which rose to a height of 8300 m above sea level. Strong winds carried them in a northerly direction. The VAAC issued corresponding warnings for air traffic. Also today the volcano is active and lets volcanic ash rise up to 7000 m above sea level. On the LiveCam you can see red illuminated steam emanating from the lava flow. It has a length of about 2000 m. Yesterday MIROVA registered a very high thermal radiation with peak values of 1792 MW power. The picture is from the archive.
Dr. Boris Behncke photographed Etna last night and reveals in his pictures that in the east of the New South East Crater the vent called “Puttusiddu” has become active. It produces small strombolian eruptions. In addition the larger saddle vent is active.
On the previous day a weak earthquake of magnitude 2.5 occurred, with a depth of 9 km. The epicenter was located 6 km north of Paternò. The Salinelle di Paternò has been in the focus of news coverage in the last few days because of the increased hydrothermal activity.
Already during the weekend the persistent clouds cleared briefly and revealed a snow-covered Etna together with strombolian eruptions from the New South East Crater. The tremor moved temporarily in the red range. We can assume that the activity will continue.
The Indonesian volcano Semeru generated 2 pyroclastic flows tonight, which spread panic among the inhabitants. According to media reports, 550 people are on the escape without evacuation orders. While trekking tours on the volcano were prohibited the day before, the alarm status remained at “yellow”. However, the affected slope in the south of the volcano is already closed.According to media reports, 550 people are on the escape without evacuation orders. While trekking tours on the volcano were prohibited the day before, the alarm status remained at “yellow”. However, the affected slope in the south-south-west of the volcano is already closed. The pyroclastic flows went down over it. The longer one covered a distance of 3 km. The two glowing clouds generated seismic signals of 18 minutes duration and with maximum amplitudes of 25 and 15 mm. They reached the base of the volcano and apparently destroyed an excavator that was inserted in one of the volcano’s drainage channels.
The VAAC detected volcanic ash at an altitude of 6100 m. The “normal” explosive activity has strongly decreased since the viscous lava flow has been extracted. It emanates from a lava dome. Probably the pyroclastic flows were created when parts of the lava flow collapsed. It is also possible that larger explosions triggered the pyroclastic flows. Harmonic tremors have been recorded, suggesting that magma is rising and erupting in the conveyor system. The dome is growing and further events must be expected.
A new lava lake probably formed at the Ethiopian volcano Erta Alé. This at least suggests a thermal anomaly, which can be seen on a Sentinell satellite photo since yesterday. According to MIROVA, thermal radiation with a power of 103 MW is emitted. The anomaly was detected for the first time on 28.11.2020 at 10.45 am. At that time it had an output of 131 MW. In the days before it was cloudy from time to time, so the activity might have started earlier without noticing it. The last time a thermal anomaly was recorded was in September. However, it originated from the North Crater and not from the South Crater as now. Comparing satellite images from now and October, morphological changes in the North Crater can also be seen.
There are two reasons why traveling to the region is currently out of the question: Because of the Corona-related travel restrictions and the civil war in the Tigray region. The regional capital Mekele is not only the focus of the fighting, but also the gateway to the Danakil desert, where the volcano is located. But more about that soon in a special report.
On the Indonesian island of Lembata the Lewotolok has erupted. The VAAC reported an ash cloud that rose to an altitude of 1800 m above sea level. The volcanologists of MAGMA/VSI recorded a corresponding seismic signal with a duration of 120 seconds and a maximum amplitude of 34 mm. In addition, 10 volcano-tectonic earthquakes were recorded in the first half of the day. Already in January 2019 first warnings were given and the alarm status was increased after the seismic activity increased. There is a 2 km exclusion zone around the crater.
The Levotolok can be passed by taking a boat to Komba Island, where the Batu Tara volcano is located. This volcano has been quiet for a few years, but thermal signals are always registered. More often this happened in the last month. To my knowledge the volcano is not systematically monitored and is one of the few white spots on earth.