Wordwide volcano and earthquake news – Archive February 1, 2014 until May 20

This is an archived part of our Daily Volcano Activity report.
Click here to read the latest part of our report


This report was compiled out of many information sources by Armand Vervaeck, Jens Skapski and Rodger Wilson

Several Earthquakes Are Bigger Threat to San Francisco Bay Area (May 20)
For decades, Northern California has been bracing for the "Big One"—an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 or larger expected on one of the many fault zones that snake through the region. But new research suggests the area is more likely to be rattled by a cluster of large, damaging earthquakes than a single major temblor. The study, to be released this week in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, sheds new and somewhat disturbing light on the potential hazards faced by the San Francisco Bay Area. "Everyone is still thinking about a repeat of the 1906 quake," said lead author David P. Schwartz, referring to the Great San Francisco Earthquake, a magnitude 7.9 quake that sparked a massive fire and killed 3,000. "But what happens if every five years we get a magnitude 6.8 or 7.2? That's not outside the realm of possibility."
Read the full article here

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Chaparrastique (San Miguel) and Tecapa - Laguna de Alegria volcanoes (May 18)
Rodger Wilson reports : SNET reports occasional grey (ash?) puffs being emitted from Chaparrastique (San Miguel) volcano since yesterday. The volcano continues to exhibit a high level of volcanic seismicity which has ebbed and flowed over the past few days.
Also over the past few days (since 15 May),...an earthquake swarm is occurring beneath nearby Tecapa - Laguna de Alegria volcanoes. Larger events (up to magnitude M3.4) appear to have subsided, but small events ( < magnitude M2.0) have recently increased again. Similar earthquake sequences have occurred in this region historically . Scientists at SNET believe the activity is due solely to fault movement, but earthquake swarms in the vicinity (beneath) of volcanoes are always suspect. Don't be fooled by the linearity of epicenters on the included map of the activity as it is an artifact of the location program.


Unrest at Chaparrastique (San Miguel) volcano, El Salvador (May 15)
Rodger Wilson reports : Another volcano to our south is exhibiting potential pre-eruptive unrest. SNET (El Salvador) reports a rapid rise in seismic energy release at Characteristic (San Miguel) volcano over the past several days (compare seismic records from 11 May to those recorded two days later!). Local inhabitants have been offered compensation to move away from the volcano for the time being. Seismic records from the volcano today show somewhat of a decrease in seismicity, but even this may be an immediate precursor to eruption.

Chapparastique volcano, El Salvador - Image courtesy and

Chapparastique volcano, El Salvador - Image courtesy and


Tsunami's - how are the triggered and how they land on the shores (May 15)
Watch this great TED-video explaining as the best by the means of an animation how Tsunamis are generated and how they can be devastating (like we all know)


Follow up of Colombian volcanoes Chiles and Cerro Negro (May 14)
Yet more events with magnitudes approaching M4.0 overnight! Also, I had mentioned earlier that station VIEN (located on Cumbal volcano) was some 50 km from the activity, when actually, it is located probably less than 20 km from the epicentral area. Due to the quality of the record, I am not sure if the low amplitude events with the long, low-frequency codas are volcanic earthquakes or regional aftershocks from yesterday's Panama earthquake.


Follow up of Colombian volcanoes Chiles and Cerro Negro (May 13)
Ecuadoran and Colombian volcanologists have installed three new geophysical monitoring stations on the volcanoes (augmenting a monitoring network which has been in-place since 1992). An informational meeting was conducted with inhabitants of local communities to appraise them of the ongoing seismic activity.
The new instrumentation will be allowed to operate/collect data over the next week. On 20 May, a meeting of scientific and governmental authorities will present/interpret the collected data and provide planning for a potential volcanic emergency if needed.

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Activity of Colombian volcanoes Chiles and Cerro Negro (May 12)
Very high levels of seismicity continue at the volcano.
Attached are the announcements of felt events. Station VIEN is located on nearby Cumbal volcano, so only the stronger events (of 100's to 1000's per day!) are recorded.


Activity of Colombian volcanoes Chiles and Cerro Negro (May 9)
Seismicity was high last night at the volcanoes as evidenced by seismic recording from Cumbal volcano, some 50 km away (station VIEN).
Ecuadoran volcanologists report clear seismic evidence of ongoing magmatic intrusion beneath the volcanoes including both long-period (fluid movement) and very long-period earthquakes (rapid inflationary movement).


Activity of Colombian volcanoes Chiles and Cerro Negro
Rodger Wilson reports : Ingeomines reported yesterday that during the period from April 29 Until May 5 at least 9000 volcanic earthquakes have been measured (rock breaking earthquakes which are generated when molten magma tries to find a way out). They are happening at a depth varying from 2 to 6km and from 1-6 km distance from the crater. The alert level for both (some say interconnected) volcanoes remains at "Yellow" (Level 3). The deformacion from the volcanoes is continuing also.
The strongest earthquake during the referred period measured 4.7 (April 30) and was felt by the people living near the Chiles volcano. 13 other earthquakes were reported in between M2.5 and M4.0.
Ingeominas is working closely together with IG-EPN (Ecuadorian agency) to monitor the volcanoes (Chiles volcano summit is right on the border in between these 2 countries)

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New insight may help predict volcanic eruption behavior (May 5)
A new discovery in the study of how lava dome volcanoes erupt, published today in Nature Geoscience, may help in the development of methods to predict how a volcanic eruption will behave, say scientists at the University of Liverpool.
Volcanologists at the University have discovered that a process called frictional melting plays a role in determining how a volcano will erupt, by dictating how fast magma can ascend to the surface, and how much resistance it faces en-route.
Read the full article here


Rodger Wilson reports about Colombia and Nicaraguan volcanoes
Magnitude M3.2 and M3.3 earthquakes, together with numerous smaller events, occurred beneath Chiles volcano (Colombia) during the past 24 hours.
Also, not to be forgotten, a burst of spasmodic tremor (indicative of fluid movement) occurred overnight beneath the SE flank of Momotombo volcano (Nicaragua). Both that volcano and nearby Apoyeque caldera have not yet settled back into seismic slumber following April's twin M6 earthquakes there.



Volcano activity for the week of April 23 – April 29, 2014 (May 2)
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.

New Activity/Unrest
Ahyi | Mariana Islands (USA)
Seismic stations on Pagan, Sarigan, Anatahan, and Saipan began recording signals starting at 0635 on 24 April believed to be from an undersea volcanic source. Hydroacoustic sensors on Wake Island suggested that the source is at or near Ahyi seamount, although it was possible that the vent is located at one of the other volcanic seamounts in the area. While conducting coral reef research at Farallon de Pajaros, NOAA divers reported hearing loud explosions and feeling the shock waves. One of the more powerful explosions was felt by the crew as it reverberated through the hull of the ship. On 27 April the Color Code was raised from Unassigned to Yellow. A report issued at 0536 on 30 April noted that seismic activity remained high.

Image courtesy NOAA

Image courtesy NOAA

Merapi | Central Java (Indonesia)
PVMBG reported that field observations of Merapi conducted two days after the explosion on 20 April revealed that a fracture in the dome had widened 70 m to the W, and new material had been deposited in the W part of the crater. The Alert Level remained at 1 (on a scale of 1-4).

Ongoing Activity
Aira | Kyushu (Japan)
JMA reported that seven explosions from Showa Crater at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano during 22-25 April ejected tephra as far as 1,300 m. Incandescence from the crater was detected at night. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-5). The Tokyo VAAC reported that during 23-24 and 26 April plumes rose to altitudes of 2.1-3 km (7,000-10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NW, W, and SE. On 26 April a pilot observed an ash plume that rose to an altitude of 2.7 km (9,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted WNW. An explosion was reported on 29 April.

Batu Tara | Komba Island (Indonesia)
Based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 27-28 April ash plumes from Batu Tara rose to an altitude of 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 35-55 km NE and N.

Chirinkotan | Kuril Islands (Russia)
SVERT reported that satellite images of Chirinkotan showed gas-and-steam emissions on 25 and 27 April. Cloud cover obscured views during 21-28 April. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow.

Chirpoi | Kuril Islands (Russia)
SVERT reported that satellite images over Snow, a volcano of Chirpoi, detected a thermal anomaly on 21 and 27 April. Cloud cover obscured views on the other days during 22-28 April. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow.

Dukono | Halmahera (Indonesia)
Based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 23-29 April ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 55-150 km E, ESE, and SE.

Fuego | Guatemala
INSIVUMEH noted in a special report from 25 April that explosions at Fuego were occurring at a rate of 5-6 per hour, generating ash plumes that rose 350-650 m above the crater and drifting 10 km S and SW. Ashfall was reported in Panimaché, Morelia, and Santa Sofía; shock waves vibrated houses in those three towns among others. Avalanches of incandescent blocks reached vegetated areas. Explosions during 26-28 April produced ash plumes that rose 350-800 m and drifted 10 km W. Villagers in Panimaché, Morelia, and Santa Sofía again reported vibrating houses and ashfall. Block avalanches originated from the crater and descended the flanks. During 28-29 April explosions were detected at a rate of 6-8 per hour. Ash plumes rose 750 m and drifted 10 km W and NW. Explosions caused houses on the SW flank to vibrate.

Karymsky | Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)
KVERT reported that Vulcanian and Strombolian activity continued at Karymsky during 17-25 April. Satellite images detected a thermal anomaly on the volcano on 19 and 22; cloud cover obscured views on the other days. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Kilauea | Hawaiian Islands (USA)
During 23-29 April HVO reported that the circulating lava lake occasionally rose and fell in the deep pit within Kilauea's Halema'uma'u Crater. Gas emissions remained elevated. The plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of ash, spatter, and Pele's hair onto nearby areas; smaller particles may have been dropped several kilometers away. During 28-29 April the lake level rose to an estimated 30 m below the crater floor, the highest level measured since February 2013.
At Pu'u 'O'o Crater, glow emanated from spatter cones on the N and S portions of the crater floor, and from the lava pond in the NE spatter cone. On 22 April, just before midnight, the N spatter cone produced a vigorous lava flow that traveled E across the crater floor in minutes, over the crater edge, and then down the NE flank of the cone along the Kahauale’a 2 lava flow tube. The flow continued to be sporadically active during the rest of this reporting period. The Kahauale’a 2 lava flow continued to advance, with breakouts from the main stalled lobe, and burn adjoining forest. On 28 April geologists mapped the farthest point of activity, 8.3 km NE of Pu’u 'O'o.

Shishaldin | Fox Islands (USA)
AVO reported that although cloud cover occasionally prevented web-cam and satellite observations of Shishaldin's summit area during 23-29 April, periods of elevated surface temperatures and minor steaming were observed. No significant changes were detected in seismic data. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch.

Shiveluch | Central Kamchatka (Russia)
KVERT reported that during 18-25 April lava-dome extrusion onto Shiveluch’s SE flank was accompanied by ash explosions, incandescence, hot avalanches, and fumarolic activity. Satellite images showed a bright thermal anomaly daily. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Suwanosejima | Ryukyu Islands (Japan)
The Tokyo VAAC reported that on 29 April an explosion at Suwanosejima produced a plume that rose to an altitude of 1.2 km (4,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E.

Ubinas | Peru
IGP's Observatorio Volcanologico de Arequipa (IGP-OVA) and Observatorio Vulcanológico del INGEMMET (OVI) reported that during 23-28 April daily explosions at Ubinas generated ash plumes that rose 0.2-2.5 km above the crater and drifted in multiple directions, especially to the S, SE, and E. Ash fell in various towns downwind of the plumes including Querapi (4 km S), Ubinas (6.5 km SSE), Escacha, Yungas, and Chojata. Seismicity was at a low level; signals indicating magma ascent were absent.


Volcan Chiles - Cerro Negro alert level raised (May 1 14:03 UTC)
Rodger Wilson reports :
Apparently the earthquakes are centered beneath Volcan Chiles, but Cerro Negro is deforming. This is somewhat worrisome because it becomes more difficult to forecast a prospective vent area. Also with this being a volcano cluster (Chiles-Cerro Negro-Cumbal) where all the vents are exhibiting heightened unrest, along with the relatively large magnitude seismic events which have taken place thus far, suggests some magmatic interconnectivity,...not good!
This is very interesting to watch!
Armand adds : The seismic activity at the border in between Ecuador and Colombia is linked to this activity. Cleck here for the in-dept article about yesterdays earthquake measured at M5 by the IGEPN (Ecuador). The volcano is located right on the border between Ecuador and Colombia

Image courtesy Bernardo Andrade Tapia on WikipediaImage courtesy Bernardo Andrade Tapia on Wikipedia

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Seismicity continues to intensify at Cerro Chiles-Negro de Mayasquar‏, Colombia
Rodger Wilson reports :
Magnitudes M4.7 and M3.3 this morning at the volcanoes with event strings (indicative of fluid involvement!) visible on the Cumbal seismograms. This is getting exciting!


Scientists study Swiss lake tsunamis (April 30)
How do you prepare for tsunamis that come only every 1,000 years or so?
This is the issue Swiss geoscientists are wrestling with as they study the country's big lakes. Some of these water bodies around the Alps have been known to experience huge waves that were driven by sub-surface landslides, which were themselves triggered by earthquakes. The researchers' work indicates such hazards still exist but the likelihood of future events is very small. "These incidents happen much less frequently than flooding or avalanches, which makes tsunamis a very hard-to-grasp hazard that is simply not in the minds of the population. But as geoscientists we have a duty to look at the problem and to let people know the risks," explained Prof Flavio Anselmetti from the University of Bern.
Read the full BBC article here

Complex simulations show how a tsunami spreads across Lake Lucerne - Image courtesy University of Bern, Switzerland

Complex simulations show how a tsunami spreads across Lake Lucerne - Image courtesy University of Bern, Switzerland


Nevado Chiles, Cerro Negro in Colombia (April 29)
Rodger Wilson reports :
- A magnitude M4.2 earthquake occurred today within the growing cluster of seismicity near Nevado Chiles - Cerro Negro volcanoes located along the Colombia / Ecuadorian border


Will We Ever Be Able to Predict Earthquakes? (April 21, 2014)
The 1970s was to be the decade when earthquake prediction became a reality. In 1975 the Chinese government announced that it had ordered an evacuation of a major city hours before a major quake struck. The Russians were saying that they were using a variety of techniques routinely to predict not only large earthquakes but moderate ones, too. And in the United States, scientists had discovered a number of anomalies near Los Angeles—a broad uplift of the ground, a slowing of seismic waves, increased emission of radon gas—that indicated the city would soon be razed by strong seismic shaking.
And then it all collapsed—that is, the effort to predict earthquakes collapsed.
Read the full article here


Momotombo and Apoyaque volcanos, Nicaragua (April 12, 2014)
Rodger wilson reports :
A M6.2 event last night which has triggered significant swarm seismicity at both Momotombo and Apoyaque volcanoes in Nicaragua.
Attached are the Momotombo seismograms.
MOMN_SHZ_NU_--.2014041012 MOMN_SHZ_NU_--.2014041100


Mount Kelud (Java, Indonesia) makes thousands of people to evacuate (February 14)
Mount Kelud erupted yesterday evening. Due to the cloud cover, no footage of the eruption itself is available but the result of the eruption can be clearly seen on the video below. The eruption sent volcanic ash covering an area 500 kilometres (310 mi) in diameter. The rain of ash covered a third of Java island from Malang to Yogyakarta in Central Java.
Mount Kelud is located in East Java, has a height of 1,730 meters, and erupted on Thursday (13/2) at 22:50 local time (UTC+7). The impact of the eruption was not only visible in nearby Kediri and Blitar, but also in other areas such as Kebumen, Sidoarjo, Surabaya, Mojokerto, Madiun, Yogyakarta, Sukoharjo, and Kudat.
3 airports (Juanda Surabaya, Adisumarno Solo and Yogyakarta Adisucipto) are closed due to the danger of ash in the engines. Volcanic ash in the airplane engines can cause engine failure and crashes)
Health experts are requesting the population residing around Mount Kelud to be aware of exposure to volcanic ash. Volcanic ash is very dangerous if inhaled by human beings and can cause also skin irritation. Additionally, inflammation of the eyes is also a possibility.

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Image CC Wikipedia


Rodger Wilson reports (February 13)

Seismicity continues at Mammoth Mountain volcano (CA) (staion MMP). Whereas yesterday's activity was characterized by higher magnitude events between M1.0 and M2.3 and a few short pulses of spasmodic tremor, today's activity appears to be the opposite with numerous smaller magnitude events and more frequent periods of tremor. I have included the most recent plots of deformation occurring in-tandem with the seismicity. Both the tilt and dilatometer data show another episode of movement occurring on or around 10 February. I have to be careful in attributing all the movement to volcanic processes as the region is also receiving heavy snow at this time! The instruments were installed deep underground to prevent surface activity such as snowfall affecting readings,..but it still can!
Several Nicaraguan volcanoes are giving "primers" on long-period (volcanic) seismicity today, including: San Cristobal (station CRIN), Masaya (station MASN), and Concepcion (station CONN). Note the emergent (gradual) onsets of the events, their generally low amplitudes and long duration vs. amplitude, as well as their low frequency content as denoted by alot of "open space" between peaks and valleys of their waveforms. Volcano-tectonic, or just plain tectonic earthquakes usually have sharp, impulsive onsets with high frequency content (dark traces due to sharp, tightly spaced peaks and valleys), and relatively short durations versus their amplitudes (if they are local events!).
A small eruption occurred yesterday (video included) at Chaparrastique (San Miguel) volcano (El Salvador) (station VSM), following days of slowly increasing tremor. Since the event, tremor has eased slightly at the volcano, but will likely rebuild over the next few days.
Activity is slowly waning at Tungurahua volcano (Ecuador) (station RETU).
Nishinoshima volcano island, Japan (January 7)
The video below is from yesterday's TV Asahi news, Asahi published a video from the Japanese coast guard, taken on February 11th at around 2pm. The island is still growing. There is red lava in 2 craters. And the lava stream to the east, that stopped in december, is flowing again.The coast guard released another warning for ships and planes in the area not to come too close. It is still dangerous. (Via Annette Schörner)


Rodger Wilson reports (February 12)

Small earthquakes (magnitudes generally < M2.0) continue unabated at Mammoth Mountain volcano (CA) (station MMP). There have been fewer and shorter duration pulses of spasmodic tremor during the past 24 hours. I have included a graphic showing the relationship between spasmodic tremor and deformation observed at the volcano during previous episodes of unrest.
There have been periodic very low frequency (<1 Hz) visible on spectrograms during this sequence that may represent episodes of deformation.

Also,...another pulse of seismicity at Yellowstone overnight (station YNR).

Neither of these sequences indicate forthcoming eruptive activity, but the activity at Mammoth is clearly volcanic in nature and scientifically interesting to watch. It is also the highest level of shallow seismicity to occur at the volcano since the late 1990's.


Rodger Wilson reports (February 11)
Spasmodic tremor (fluid movement) has become more frequent during the past 24 hours at Mammoth Mountain volcano (CA) (station MMP). Dilatometers also show changes associated with the activity during the same period. Several pulse-like periods of extension across the volcano have occurred since the first of the month, associated with increases in seismic activity. Also very shallow earthquakes have appeared immediately west of the edifice overnight.

Another United States caldera (Yellowstone) is showing some signs of life over the past few days (station NRP). Careful all you eruption baiters!!! This activity is far from pre-eruptive levels!!!

Tremor at Chaparrastique (San Miguel) volcano (El Salvador) (station VSM) has continued to climb, periodically saturating (overloading) local seismometers overnight.

Eruptive activity at Tungurahua volcano (Ecuador) (station RETU) has de-volved into numerous discrete explosions now.


Rodger Wilson reports (February 10)
An earthquake swarm continues beneath Mammoth Mountain (CA) (station MRD) albeit at a reduced rate (still some short pulses of spasmodic tremor though).
SNET continues to observe rising seismic energy emanating from Chaparrastique (San Miguel) volcano (El Salvador) (station VSM). An earthquake swarm occurred amidst the continuous tremor resonating from the volcano beneath its North flank yesterday.
Explosive outbursts (including pyroclastic flows) continue at a slightly reduced rate at Tungurahua volcano (Ecuador) (station RETU).
Volcanic seismicity remains elevated at Ubinas volcano (Peru) as well.


Rodger Wilson reports (February 8)
Two relatively strong pulses of spasmodic tremor (fluid movement) occurred at Mammoth Mountain volcano (CA) (station MRD) early today. Seismic events appear to have further shallowed, to around 3 km now, versus the 5 km of previous days. Compared with the deformation recorded during the deep earthquake swarm at the volcano in October 2012, the current shallow activity is only producing weak uplift and extension. I also note a 1 Hz "noise" developing on spectrograms during the swarm activity over the past two days. Not sure what to make of it, but it's real.


Nishinoshima volcano island, Japan (January 7)
The video link below is showing the new island volcano's new crater. As you will be able to see also that the crater height (beautiful round shaped crater) is building up gradually. (via Annette Schörner)

Rodger Wilson reports (February 7)

There's a shallow (~5km depth) earthquake swarm underway at Mammoth Mountain volcano, California (station MRD) (Do you think this might herald the arrival to near the surface of fluids involved with the October 2012 deep swarm beneath Mammoth?).

Eruptive activity is again intensifying at Tungurahua volcano (Ecuador) (station RETU) according to current spectrograms there (read from bottom to top).

Internal tremor is also (slowly) intensifying at Chapparastique (San Miguel) volcano (El Salvador) (station VSM).

Ubinas volcano (Peru) has also experienced numerous volcanic earthquakes which have now evolved into extended pulses of volcanic tremor at the volcano.


Tungurahua pyroclastic flow video (February 4)
The video below shows very well how a pyroclastic hot cloud descends from the volcano slopes and continues further and further. At the end the cloud arrived closer and closer to the video recording people


Tungurahua Update (February 2 @ 09:20 UTC)
- The Ecuadorian Civil Defense authority has called the Orange alert for a limited number of villages on the slopes of the volcano. Hundreds of people living in these villages have received the order to evacuate. Especially the extremely hot pyroclastic flows are a big risk for these communities.
The city of Banos, at the foot of the big volcano, has received instructions to prepare for a possible evacuation if the current situation would deteriorate.
A number of nice images from the eruptive activity can be found here


Big eruption on Tungurahua volcano, Ecuador (February 1 @ 23:12 UTC)
This is the webcam image we have copied a few moments ago . the image dates from less than an hour ago !
The volcano reactivated last Thursday. Today continues emission of ash is taking place. The ash is luckily carried away in the direction of the Oriente (lowlands to the east). The eruption can be seen from far away (ie Riobamba)
Check the live webcams here : IGEPN1IGEPN2IGEPN3IGEPN4IGEPN5IGEPN6

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Returned villagers have to flee again on Sinabung volcano, 14 people killed (February 1)
An Indonesian volcano erupted on the island of Sumatra, leaving at least 14 people dead. Torrents of lava and pyroclastic flows gave neighboring villages an almost apocalyptic look.
2,460-meter-high Mount Sinabung erupted three times on Saturday, producing columns of ash about 2 kilometers tall and spreading hot rocks and ash over a 4.5 kilometer radius, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for National Agency For Disaster Management (BNPB).
The RT report is very well written en has a lot of images showing what happened earlier today

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