News, 1 January until 12 February 1997
[ Full page view | Main Index | The Latest News! | Home Page ]

Archived "Latest News", 1 January - 31 December 1996

10 December 1996
Satellite spots possible eruption at Alaid volcano

Alaska Volcano Observatory reports via Volcano Listserver that a possible eruption is presently occurring at Alaid, a large stratovolcano with numerous flank eruption centers forming the island of Atlasova, the northernmost of the Kuril islands. The Synoptic Analysis Branch of NOAA indicates a plume visible in satellite images that is rising to a height of 5-6 km. Bad weather in the area has prevented any observation of the eruption at closer quarters so far, but a confirmation of the satellite observations may be seen in increased seismicity recorded by nearby seismic stations. Alaid has been the site of three eruptions during this century, in 1933, 1972, and 1981. While the earlier two (explosive-effusive) eruptions came from vents lying on the lower flanks of the volcano, the summit crater was the site of the major explosive 1981 eruption. Minor activity may have occurred from the same crater in 1982 and 1986.

5 December 1996
Deadly eruption of Manam

Less than two weeks after its latest major eruption, Manam volcano in Papua New Guinea was the site of a more significant and lethal eruption on 3-4 December. The eruption that began from its Main Crater and later involved the more frequently active Southern Crater produced pyroclastic flows and ash falls. A photo and video footage from CNN shows the island of Manam with a weak ash column rising from Southern Crater and a large ash flow deposit covering a broad area from the summit down to the sea on the SW side of the island. The flow followed the course of a narrow valley (Southwest Valley), one of four major radial valleys draining the volcano, and spilled over its banks, destroying rain forest and at least one villaga, Budua (or Budwa). While CNN reports two or three people killed, the Associated Press (via The Washington Post) gave a figure of four deaths. Thousands of residents were evacuated from the island. The eruption appears to be the most violent event witnessed of that volcano in many decades. Manam had been the site of a major eruption on 21 November; previously it had a period of large eruptions lasting from March 1992 until October 1994. Manam is one of Papua New Guinea's most active volcanoes, with near continuous minor Strombolian activity puncutated by larger eruptions (or rather, eruptive periods) every 2-5 years.

3 December 1996
Threat of major collapse at Soufriere Hills; minor eruption at Nyamuragira

News from Soufriere Hills on the Caribbean island of Montserrat are becoming increasingly alarming. With the seismicity at high levels, dome growth appears slow on a lava dome that has first appeared on 1 October 1996, but "Galway's Wall" on the western side of the dome (a very narrow old crater wall) appears to become more and more unstable. Avalanches are falling from the steep outer side of the wall, and large fractures are cutting through the structure. There is concern about a possible collapse of that wall towards W, in the direction of the island's capital Plymouth. Such an event could trigger a massive avalanche and possibly a directed blast from the dome standing immediately behind the wall. Avalanching rock could reach the sea and trigger tsunamis. Alert level "orange" is maintained since a few days. See how the situation develops by visiting the Montserrat Volcano Observatory page at MTU which is updated twice daily.
In Zaire, the large shield volcano of Nyamuragira erupted briefly on 1-2 December. Eyewitness accouts from the town of Goma (known worldwide for the recent civil unrest and refugee problems in Rwanda and Zaire) indicate that the activity consisted of "rhythmic Strombolian ejections" to 100 m height. The location of the erupting vent was not indicated. If this activity occurred from the summit caldera, it might be followed by further activity from a flank vent. Nyamuragira last erupted in July 1994, simultaneously with its more famous neighbor volcano Nyiragongo. The info about the new eruption is from the Societé Volcanologique Européenne (on its News page).

1 December 1996
Popocatépetl still restless, and update on other recent eruptions

During the recent lull in updates of this page, significant volcanic events occurred in Papua New Guinea, Japan, Mexico, Montserrat and Chile.
Located on a small island off the NE coast of Papua New Guinea, Manam volcano ended about two years of minor activity with a major eruption in mid-November. Preliminary information from the Societé Volcanologique Européenne (on its News page) indicates that the activity (on 21 November) was very violent, dropping scoria onto surrounding villages, and for some time the evacuation of the island's entire population was considered. The source of activity was Manam's summit crater that had remained quiet since December 1992. Manam, one of Papua New Guinea's most active volcanoes, had its lastajor eruptive phase in 1992, but powerful eruptions continued sporadically through October 1994.
Me-Akan volcano on Hokkaido island in Japan had a minor phreatic eruption on 21 November from its Ponmachineshiri crater, after almost 9 years of repose. The eruption produced minor amounts of lithic ash; there was no danger from the event. Information about the eruption is available on two sites: the Me-Akan page of the Japanese Volcano Research Center (in English), and the Keiji Wada's Me-Akan page (in Japanese, but with many photos). One month after its latest spectacular explosion, Mexico's Popocatépetl remains restless. German press reports of 30 November show a photo of the volcano shrouded in a dense white gas plume and mention that "since a few days, the volcano is spewing steam and ash again", but no evacuations were ordered so far.
On Montserrat island, the volcano of Soufriere Hills has its lava dome still growing, and there are signs that the old wall confining the active crater to the west may fall within short notice. For more information, check the Montserrat Volcano Observatory page at MTU which is updated twice daily.
Climbers that visited the active crater of Villarrica (Chile) in mid-November reported the reappearance of the small lava pond in the crater. "The activity was not as vivid as at other times in past years", it was stated. The lava pond has disappeared in early September, preceding a series of small phreatic or phreatomagmatic explosions on the 14th of that month. Villarrica had its latest major eruption in 1984-1985, but its summit crater has contained a lava pond ever since, and at times small cones formed around the active vent. This potentially very dangerous volcano is represented in much detail on the Villarrica homepage maintained by Werner Keller and Boris Behncke. Special pages about its devastating 1963-1964 and 1971-1972 eruptions are available.

16 November 1996
Kliuchevskoi wakes up after two years

A message by the Alaska Volcano Observatory distributed on the Volcano Listserver, states that Kliuchevskoi, the highest and most active volcano on Russia's Kamchatka peninsula, has produced small gas and ash explosions on the morning of 15 November (local time), with plumes rising about 600 m above the summit crater rim. A large gas plume was also reported rising from the upper SE flank of the volcano (elevation about 4500 m). This might indicate either lava outflow interacting with snow and glacier or the opening of a new eruptive fissure on the flank. The area has been the site of a flank eruption in 1989.
Kliuchevskoi had its most recent eruption in September-October 1994 when an eruption column rose to about 20 km altitude, disrupting air traffic and causing ash falls more than 250 km away. The summit was probably partially destroyed in that event.

10 November 1996
Etna's Southeast Crater ends 5 years of inactivity

According to a message of 8 November from J.B. Murray via Volcano Listserver, Etna's Southeast Crater (the lowest and most recently formed of Etna's four summit craters) has become active (on 4 November), ending 5 years of quiet. There are now three craters in activity on Etna's summit, after the resumption of magmatic activity from Northeast Crater and Bocca Nuova in the late summer of 1995. Southeast Crater has been the site of vigorous eruptions in 1978, 1979, 1984, and 1989-1990. The latest activity was in the summer-autumn of 1991, preceding Etna's most recent flank eruption, in 1991-1993. For more info about Etna, check here.

7 November 1996
Jökulhlaup in Iceland followed by brief and small eruption

The jökulhlaup from Vatnajökull that started on 5 November has ended on the following day, after discharging about 3 cubic km of meltwater at flow rates of up to 45,000 cubic m/s. The floods destroyed several bridges, the damage being estimated at about 10-15 million US$. Triggered by the unloading of the volcanic system, a small eruption lasting only about 20-30 minutes occurred at the Bardarbunga eruption center, site of the October eruption. Few details of this activity and its possible effects are yet known. A summary of the 5-6 November events is available at Nordic Volcanological Institute, Iceland.

5 November 1996
The long-expected jökulhlaup from Vatnajökull begins

Preliminary news from Icelandic scientists via Volcano-Listserver report the beginning of the long-awaited meltwater flood (jökulhlaup) from Vatnajökull, Europes largest glacier and site of a spectacular subglacial eruption one month ago. Beginning yesterday evening at 2130, the flooding was preceded by an increase in recorded microseismicity at Grímsvötn, a subglacial caldera which had filled with up tp 3 km^3 of meltwater during last month's eruption, and by 0900 this morning, the volume of the Skeidará river (south of Vatnajökull) increased at amazing speed. As of 1900 GMT today, the flood is reported to have destroyed several bridges, thus interrupting one of Iceland's most important traffic lines, the ring road only completed in 1974. Some reports describe today's jökulhlaup as the "greatest ever witnessed in Iceland" which may be exaggerated, but damage is already estimated at several million US$. For more info about the September-October eruption and ongoing events, check Ed Jackson's Vatnajökull page and the Vatnajökull page of Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.
Another significant volcanic event, the eruption of Pavlof volcano (Alaska) has intensified yesterday, as reported by the Alaska Volcano Observatory reports. The volcano's alert status was briefly been upgraded from Orange to Red as ash from the erupting volcano was reported up to 160 km away. Later in the evening, the level of activity showed a slight decline and the alert level was again reduced to Orange.

Merapi on 3 November 19963 November 1996
Merapi keeps going

Vigorous reporting in Indonesian electronic newspapers indicate that Merapi is still in a state of heightened activity. The photo at left shows the path of glowing avalanches on the SSW flank of the volcano in a night exposure, published by Kompas newspaper. Avalanches of this type are typical during periods of vigorous dome growth and indicate the instability of the structure. For those capable of reading Indonesian, this source has much to offer, including reports on the Merapi activity of 25 October 1996, 26 October 1996, 1 November 1996, 2 November 1996, 3 November 1996, and just at the time of posting this page, the 4 November 1996 report has appeared on the Kompas WWW site. The activity of Stromboli continues to be unusually low. Stromboli On-line reports that on 25 October, there were only 27 seismically recorded events. The summary of Stromboli's activity in 1996 has been updated with descriptions of the development at the volcano since early September.

1 November 1996
Merapi erupts, "hundreds moved out of their homes"

Just a few days after the Societé Volcanologique Européenne (on its News page) reported a warning by the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia of an impending lava dome collapse at Merapi (Java, Indonesia), the Associated Press (via The Washington Post) reports (on 1 November 1996, 1255 EST) that the volcano "is spewing hot gases and lava", and "hundreds of people have moved out of their homes". According to the report, "gases are released every 30 seconds and rise nearly 2 miles [more than 3 km] into the air" and "smoldering lava has flowed out every three minutes since Thursday [31 October]". The reference to lava, an error inevitably made by news services in almost all explosive eruptions, should be interpreted as the occurrence of pyroclastic flows, triggered by collapse of the unstably growing lava dome at the summit of Merapi.
Activity at Popocatépetl has subsided completely, following its brief explosion on 28 October.

29 October 1996
Popocatépetl's eruption the latest in a series of recent volcanic events

A spectacular explosion at Popocatépetl in Mexico on 28 October (local time) is the latest event in a series of noteworthy eruptions from volcanoes all around the globe during September-October 1996 (the period of no updating of this page). The eruption which was described as "harmless" was filmed and photographed by a television team (see a CNN report with a movie and a report by Mexico's La Jornada), and from their photos it appears that the eruption produced some kind of volcaniclastic density current. Evidence for a similar phenomenon had also been found in the near-vent deposits of the 30 April 1996 explosion which killed five climbers near the crater. Recent reports (see the report in the August 1996 issue of the GVN Bulletin) indicated that lava dome growth, initiated in late March 1996, continued through at least late May, yielding a volume of more than 10^7 m^3 to the new feature.

In the following, brief summaries of the more significant volcanic events of September-October 1996 will be given; for more details, refer to the links given at the end of the paragraphs.

Stromboli, 30 September 1996Stromboli: While the event of 20-21 August (mentioned in the 22 August update) remained controversial through October (various sources reported that the man injured while sleeping near Crater 3 died later in hospital; others maintained that he survived), there is no doubt about another strong explosion on Stromboli on the afternoon of 4 September. Up to seven people were injured in this event, and falling tephra set vegetation on the upper slopes afire; there was no damage in inhabited areas. On the day after the explosion, the mayor of the town Lipari (of which Stromboli is part) declared the volcano "off-limits", prohibiting access to the summit. Since this decision was made during the touristic high season, many Stromboli residents complained about the lack of income, and hundreds of tourists, ignoring the denial of access, climbed the summit - only to see the volcano at the lowest levels of activity recorded in many months. From 30 September to 2 October, Matthias Hort and Ralf Seyfried of GEOMAR visited the summit daily and observed very small eruptions from Crater 3 only (see photo above) while Crater 1 made"terrific noises" during the first day without showing visible eruptive activity, and later remained absolutely quiet. During the 3-day observation period, the activity showed an overall decline. The only significant event during those days was the emission of an ash plume from vent 2 in Crater 3 that rose about 100 m high. Hort and Seyfried report that there were periods of up to 2 hours without any eruption. While passing Stromboli by ship on late 10 October, Giada Giuntoli and Boris Behncke observed two eruptions from Crater 3 and one from Crater 1 within 15 minutes, the earlier producing lava fountains up to 100 m above the crater. On 28 October, Roberto Carniel reports extremely low activity recorded seismically, including a 7 hour period without ANY eruptive event.
For more Stromboli info, check the updates provided by the excellent Stromboli On-line.
Etna: After several months of vigorous activity, Etna's Northeast Crater ceased erupting in early September. The latest significant activity occurred on 18 August, and minor ash emission from a small vent on the crater rim (no direction indicated) was last reported on 7 September. On the 14th, a visit to the summit by Carmelo Monaco, Giada Giuntoli, Boris Behncke and others disclosed only rhythmic degassing from a vent on a high cinder cone that had overgrown the SW rim of NE Crater. Impressive morphologic changes since October 1995 were evident, the most striking being the closure of the large gap on the NW side of the crater and growth of the large cone already mentioned, and the emplacement of a short lava flow (several meters thick) in the saddle between NE Crater and Bocca Nuova. Lava had flowed from a vent on the S rim of NE Crater into the adjacent Voragine crater but the degassing vent in the bottom of that crater was still open although it must have consumed significant volumes of lava erupted from NE Crater. Marco Fulle reports the resumption of lava fountaining from the crater on late 21 October (personal communication, referring to a contact person living near Etna).
Updates on the activity of Etna are periodically provided by the Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia, Catania, their most recent report so far having been posted on 29 July 1996.
Merapi: On 26 October, the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia declared the state of maximum alert at Merapi, due to increasing instability of the growing summit lava dome (its most recent major collapse two years ago killed at least 64 people). A new pulse of dome growth had been reported on 11 August (see the GVN Bulletin for a report on this activity).
Info on the new situation has been provided by the Societé Volcanologique Européenne (the News page).
Karymsky: Active since 1 January 1996, this volcano on Kamchatka continues its activity with varying vigor. Early October saw some increase of the activity with ash ejections rising several km above the summit, bombs to 500 m above the crater, and lava outflow onto the SW flank. Later during October, activity decreased again to lower levels.
Weekly updates on the activity of Karymsky (and other Kamchatkan volcanoes) are provided by the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) which is collaborating with the Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT).
Pavlof: One of the most active volcano of the Alaska-Aleutian arc, Pavlof became active again in mid-September, about 8 years after its most recent siginficant activity. Activity became more vigorous in late September, with lava flows moving downslope, cutting through summit snow and ice fields. On 18 October, the most vigorous activity so far of the current eruption was recorded.
Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) has updates on Pavlof's activity and some spectacular photos and a nighttime movie.
Pacaya: On 11 October, Pacaya had a strong explosive eruption accompanied by lava flows, triggering evacuation of 1200 people. Pacaya has been Guatemala's most active volcano since Fuego ceased erupting in 1979, and eruptive episodes similar to the recent one are reported once to twice every year since 1987.
The info is from the new WWW site of the Societé Volcanologique Européenne (the News page).
Maderas: Situated on Ometepe island in Lake Nicaragua, Nicaragua, together with its frequently active neighbor Concepción, this volcano was the site of a destructive rain-triggered lahar on 27 September which killed six people and destroyed numerous houses in the village of El Corozal. Although news media reported the event as an eruption, no volcanic activity seems to have been connected with the lahar.
A summary of the events can be found at VolcanoWorld, and some photos are available at The UK Volcanologists Homepage.
Masaya: Strong explosions were reported by Wilfried Strauch on 11 and 17 October via Volcano Listserver from Central America's only volcano that occasionally shows lava lake activity.
Images of the volcano and its lava lake have been posted at The UK Volcanologists Homepage.
Villarrica: Small phreatic explosions from the summit crater of Chile's most active volcano were reported on 14 September. Newspaper reports cited Chilean scientists describing the activity as harmless but a possible forerunner of more vigorous eruptive activity.
A synthesis of Villarrica volcano and its activity can be found on what is the nucleus of a new WWW site about Chilean volcanoes.
Soufriere Hills: The most vigorous activity from this volcano (on Montserrat island, Lesser Antilles islands) occurred on 17-18 September. Part of the lava dome that has been growing since November 1995 collapsed, forming large pyroclastic flows that entered the sea at the SE coast of the island and set several buildings afire.
The main source for information on Soufriere Hills is the Montserrat Volcano Observatory at MTU where a special report on the 17-18 September eruption can be found.
Bardarbunga-Grimsvötn: Hidden beneath Europe's largest glacier Vatnajökull, a complex volcanic system became active in late September, the eruptions breaking through the ice on 2 October. At the height of the eruption, a subglacial fissure system totalling 9 km in length was active, but soon the activity concentrated at a single vent, as is usually the case in fissure eruptions. Steam and ash rose 5 km above the active area, but only minor ash falls were reported from inhabited areas. Mass media reports about a possible climatic influence of the eruption thus appear vastly exaggerated. Fears about impending meltwater floods, called "jökulhlaup" in Icelandic, fortunately proved incorrect; there was a tremendous accumulation of meltwater in the Grimsvötn caldera, to the SSE of the active Bardarbunga, but the reservoir apparently accomodated all meltwater without overflowing in potentially destructive meltwater floods. As the eruption continued (with slowly diminishing vigor), a small horseshoe-shaped island began to rise above the level of the meltwater lake that had formed in the great ice chasm along the eruptive fissure. Activity declined after 13 October, but microseismic activity beneath Grimsvötn is continuing as of late October. With an estimated tephra volume of 0.6-0.7 km^3 (corresponding to roughly 0.4 km^3), this eruption has been described as the fourth largest in Iceland during this century.
It's MTU again which hosts a comprehensive Grimsvötn-Bardarbunga page from where you can start to updates, photos and other links about the eruption. A good account of the eruption can also be found at University of Iceland, and The University of Alberta, Canada has a page with info and a tremendous amount of links.

22 August 1996
Person injured near Stromboli's craters

Stromboli remains in the news this summer. The latest incident apparently occurred on 21 August when a tourist camping close to the craters (not on the "Pizzo sopra la Fossa" platform, but only 80 m from the craters) was hit by falling tephra while sleeping. He had to be taken by a chopper to a hospital for head surgery. This incident is but the latest example of people getting harmed on volcanoes by relatively minor activity simply while getting too close to an active crater. This info, based on a report by the Italian newspaper "La Repubblica" of 22 August has been kindly made available by Andrea Lawendel, Italy.

21 August 1996
Lava emission within one of Stromboli's craters

A brief episode of intracrateral lava emission has been reported from Stromboli on 16-17 August, during a period of quasi-continuous explosive activity. The lava flowed from vent 1 within Crater 3 but remained within the crater, and the effusive episode had already stopped by 18 August. More info has been made available on Stromboli On-line. Stromboli will probably be visited by Alean, Behncke and Carniel in September, and more detailed info about the activity and its products will be made available for "Stromboli On-line" and "Italy's Volcanoes".

Canlaon eruption14 August 1996
Steam emission at Calbuco, Canlaon quiet after fatal eruption

A report by Hugo Moreno via Volcano Listserver states that on 12 August, a large steam plume rising from the summit of Calbuco volcano, southern Chile, was observed by residents of nearby towns. The volcano whose latest major eruption occurred in February-March 1961 presents major hazards to its surroundings. All of its major eruptions (e.g. 1893, 1917, 1929, 1961) were accompanied by lahars, caused by melting of snow and ice by hot tephra falls and lava flows. The crater itself has been filled with a glacier prior to the 1961 eruption. During that eruption, lava filled part of the crater.
Canlaon, site of a phreatic eruption that killed three climbers four days ago, has not erupted again (or at least, there are no news reports about more recent eruptive events). British newspapers (such as The Times, 12 August 1996 issue; to enter, you have to register but it's free) have widely reported on the fate of the Britons surprised by the eruption, and published a photo of the eruption of which a small version is posted here.
No further news about Merapi have been received. Those capable of reading Indonesian should watch out for news on the Indonesian language on-line newspaper Republika which had some reports about Merapi in the past few days (e.g. 10 and 12 August).

11 August 1996
Merapi again active, and three deaths at Canlaon

News agencies report a new eruptive episode at Merapi, situated on the Indonesian island of Java, after several months of inactivity, on early 11 August. Reports speak of "lava flowing" from the volcano towards the Boyong, Bebeng and Krasak valleys and indicate heightened apprehension in nearby villages. It is likely that more vigorous dome growth has resumed, spawning pyroclastic flows from the oversteepened flanks of the summit. The named valleys are the same that have been affected by the eruption of 1994-1995 (including the fatal event on 22 November 1994).
The number of people killed in the eruption of Canlaon volcano has risen to three, and 10 people are reported injured. There are no reports of people left missing. The eruption occurred without warning although seismicity has been on a higher level since 29 July.
The source of these informations is the WWW service of the Associated Press, available through the electronic edition of the Washington Post.

10 August 1996
Canlaon volcano kills two climbers

One of the most active volcanoes of the Philippines, Canlaon (on Negros Island) has erupted today, killing two climbers and leaving up to eleven others missing. Twelve persons were injured in the unexpected eruption. The victims and missing are from Belgium, UK and the Philippines. Early reports are from CNN and Reuters. The eruption is said to have sent up a 1.5 km high ash plume, and Philippine volcanologists considered further similar explosions possible but stated that the volcano did not present any danger to nearby villages. Canlaon last erupted in August-September 1993 for the tenth time in the past 25 years, most of this activity having been small-scale phreatic and phreatomagmatic explosions.

8 August 1996
Submarine eruption (?) at Loihi seamount

Vigorous seismicity has occurred since mid-July at Loihi, a submarine volcano off the SW coast of Hawaii. The seismicity is the strongest ever monitored at any Hawaiian volcano during history. Recent reports from Hawaiian volcanologists indicate that the seismicity has declined during early August. The events are interpreted as either an eruption from the submarine volcano and/or the collapse of a pit crater. The formation of a new pit crater has been confirmed during the cruise of a research ship over the volcano but more info is thought to come in after a visit to the volcano (about 900 m below the sea-level) by a submersible late this week. A WWW site about Loihi and its current activity has been set up and is intended to provide first-hand and near real-time information about this notable event.
Seismicity at Vesuvio was the most intense since 25 years in April-May 1996 but has completely subsided since late May. A more detailed report will be supplied by Osservatorio Vesuviano in late August and will be set up on the Vesuvio homepage.

4 August 1996
Continued activity from Etna's NE Crater

The Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia in Catania has prepared a summary of recent explosive-effusive activity from the active Northeast Crater of Etna. The report states that there were two new (that is, the ninth and tenth) episodes of vigorous explosive activity at NE Crater on 6 and 25 June, followed by several episodes of increased Strombolian activity in July and lava outflow from several boccas after 21 July. One of the most spectacular features of this most recent effusive activity is the flow of lava into the Voragine crater without obstructing its actively degassing vent. The IIV report has photos showing spectacular changes since the late May-early June visits by Marco Fulle.

21 July 1996
Lava flow from Etna's NE Crater, and Ruapehu again active

According to a news message by Televideo RAI late on 21 July, a new effusive bocca has formed on Etna, below the active NE Crater, sending lava for a brief distance downslope. This is the first outflow of lava on Etna since the end of the latest major flank eruption, on 30 March 1993. There is no danger to inhabited areas since the new vent lies in Etna's summit region. According to info from IIV, the lava flow is only of very minor proportions.
The first news source to inform about renewed activity from Ruapehu, CNN reports "ash and lava bombs" from the volcano, "ruining the official opening of the ski season" at Whakapapa Fields skiing area. The report also has a small photo showing a light-colored eruption column. Reports from the Institute of Nuclear and Geological Sciences indicate that the volcano again displayed spectacular fire-fountaining activity.

18 July 1996
Great silence at Ruapehu

According to the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, seismicity at Ruapehu has subsided notably on 18 July, and only mild steam emission was observed during an overflight.

15 July 1996
Ruapehu - still alive

After taking a few days of rest, Ruapehu is again active as of 15 July, with ash rising to about 6000 m. Daily updates (even more often in the case of significant changes to the situation) are being provided by Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, and more info is assembled on the pages referred to in the previous message (below).

7 July 1996
Ruapehu does it again

New Zealand's restless giant Ruapehu has entered into a new phase of activity early on 6 July, causing chaos in air traffic for the third time in a month. There are the two usual Ruapehu pages of MTU and TOMS carrying you to the countless sites with Ruapehu info. Real-time graphic updates come from the Volcano-CAM (note that this is the only link that seems to connect you to the WORKING site); it worked perfectly well on Saturday 6 July.
The photos by Marco Fulle announced a few weeks ago (see update below) of Etna and Stromboli have been scanned and set up.

20 June 1996
Spectacular activity at Etna and Stromboli

Italy's most active volcanoes, Etna and Stromboli, are currently in a state of vigorous activity. Observations by Marco Fulle (Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste, Italy) in late May and early June have disclosed magmatic activity in Etna's "Bocca Nuova" and episodic Strombolian activity from neighboring Northeast Crater, and quasi-continuous lava fountaining from Crater 1 at Stromboli after the two explosions on 1 and 6 June. Images will be made available on this site soon. For a detailed account of Marco Fulle's observations, click here.

18 June 1996
Ruapehu resumes explosive activity

After several months of very reduced activity, large explosive ash emissions have resumed on 16 June at Ruapehu, sending plumes ot 12 km. The new activity includes spectacular Strombolian ejections of incandescent bombs. Much info is being posted on the WWW, and there are already plenty of photos and movies available. Good starting points are the Ruapehu page at MTU and the TOMS Ruapehu page.

2 June 1996
Powerful explosion at Stromboli, several people injured

At 2350 h on 1 June 1996, a strong explosion occurred at Stromboli, following six weeks of unusually intense activity. A group of climbers, mostly from Germany, were surprised by the explosion in the summit region and four of them were slightly injured. Severa persons initially reported as missing were later found. A bush fire caused by the fall of incandescent tephra on the upper slopes was under control by daybreak. There seems to have been one single explosion. No details about the activity on the morning of 2 June are available. Stromboli On-Line has more info about the event and presents beautiful photos of the vigorous activity in late April. See also a summary of Stromboli's activity in 1996 on this site.

30 May 1996
April-May 1996 seismicity at Vesuvio

Slightly increased seismicity began at Vesuvio with a felt earthquake on the evening of 25 April (not the 26th, as wrongly reported by myself in a V-listserv message) and was continuing as of mid-May. Residents of nearby towns (such as Torre del Greco, Ercolano, Portici and Boscotrecase) said that they felt the stronger shocks "about once per day" and felt uneasy about them. Some mentioned increased "fuming" of the crater. During two summit visits on 17 and 18 May, we (Giada Giuntoli and Boris Behncke) made visual observations of the crater and found no unusual fumarolic activity. No seismicity was felt during many hours on the active cone on both days. Osservatorio Vesuviano personnel told us that there was indeed a somewhat higher-than-usual level of seismicity but it was no indication of a reactivation of the volcano in the near future. See the Vesuvio Decade Volcano Page for more info about the volcano.

14 May 1996
Continuing Strombolian activity from Etna's NE Crater

Following the last major eruptive episode in mid-February 1996, Etna's Northeast Crater has been in intermittent eruption through at least 7 May. Vigorous Strombolian ejections every five seconds were seen from Zafferana, on the SE flank (about 10 km from the active crater) on 4 May, and continuous ash emission occurred the next day. That night (that is, 5-6 May), explosion sounds occurring at intervals of about once second were audible as far as Catania. On 7 May, a dense grayish plume was emitted from the crater and carried eastwards by high winds, and the summit area above about 3000 m elevation was covered with ash. Recent visits by various persons have disclosed that the large pit still present within the crater in early October 1995 has been entirely filled and a cluster of up to seven small cones has formed on the new crater floor. The two largest cones have grown on the southern or southwestern rim of the crater and are as high as the highest point on the crater rim.
The most vigorous activity since the summer of 1994 has been observed at Stromboli by Roberto Carniel and Juerg Alean during the last two weeks of April, and dailed info is expected to appear on their Stromboli pages within little time. Except for a strong explosion at Popocatépetl on 30 April and the largest pyroclastic flows yet seen at Soufriere Hills (on 12 May), no significant volcanic events have occurred since the last news update.

13 April 1996
Warning of landslides from Momotombo

Shallow seismicity at Momotombo continues, with 500 events counted in a 24 h period from 10 until 11 April. Geologists warned that the frequent tremors may dislodge rockfalls and landslides from the steep and unstable upper part of the cone where erosion has created deep gorges. Ground cracking has been observed during an overflight on 11 April. This info is from Costa Rica's "La Nación" electronic newspaper of 13 April.

12 April 1996
More earthquakes at Momotombo

After a temporary decrease, shallow seismicity at Momotombo has again increased on late 10 April, including a M=3.5 event. Local residents report a "black cloud" at the summit, but aerial reconnaissance by Nicaraguan volcanologists has disclosed no unusual phenomena at the crater. This info is from Costa Rica's "La Nación" electronic newspaper of 12 April and from a message by W. Strauch on Volcano Listserv on 12 April. For an image of the volcano, visit the Nicaragua page (photo at bottom of page) of the Natural Hazards Mitigation Group (Geneva).

11 April 1996
Momotombo shows signs of unrest

One of Nicaragua's most conspicuous volcanoes, Momotombo, has shown signs of unrest since early April: numerous small earthquakes were registered, along with an increase in crater fumarole temperatures up to 970∞ C. Since 9 April, however, the seismic activity has again decreased slightly. Momotombo has had several periods of unrest in recent years but its last eruption was in 1905. This info is from Costa Rica's "La Nación" electronic newspaper (9 April and 11 April issues).

10 April 1996
Addendum on Soufriere Hills

A news brief with a new photo (showing a small pyroclastic flow) at Soufriere Hills is available at CNN of 9 April 1996.

9 April 1996
Continued explosions at Soufriere Hills

two photos

Soufriere Hills continues to erupt explosively. Two major explosions occurred early on the afternoon of 8 April, rivalling in size that of 6 April. The photos displayed here are from German newspapers and show small pyroclastic flows and the dome with the large spine on 6 April. The Soufriere Hills reports page of MTU is the prime source of first-hand, near real-time info and photos of the ongoing activity.

7 April 1996
Soufriere Hills still more vigorously active

The largest explosions of the current eruptive period of Soufriere Hills have occurred on the afternoon of 6 April, sending ash to as much as 10 km altitude. Pyroclastic flows continue to spill down the E flank of the growing lava dome while a large spine grows rapidly on its summit, now being close to becoming the island's highest point. Today, German television showed impressive video footage (of which CNN has a still) of smaller pyroclastic flows and minor explosive activity during excellent weather conditions. There was no large vertical plume evident on the video, probably taken during the forenoon of 6 April, before the largest explosive event. Detailed info is available on the Soufriere Hills reports page of MTU.

6 April 1996
Fourth eruptive episode at Llaima in two years

One of Chile's most active volcanoes, Llaima, has apparently intensified its activity around 10 March, after about 5 months of relative quiet. A brief notice in Condor, a German language electronic periodical from Chile, reports that the volcano was "smoking" strongly, volcanologists increased their monitoring and tourists left the Conguillio National Park around the volcano. However, no evacuations were ordered. More recent "Condor" issues had no further information about Llaima. Last active in late October 1995, Llaima had a spectacular eruption on 17 May 1994 and less intense activity in August 1994. A press photo of the May 1994 eruption is now available here.
Dramatically increased activity continues at Soufriere Hills with pyroclastic flows devastating areas on the volcano's eastern flank. The latest news is available on the Soufriere Hills reports page of MTU where a new page shows images of the effects of the recent pyroclastic flows.

3 April 1996
Increased explosive activity at Soufriere Hills

After several days of increased rockfalls and avalanches from the E flank of the lava dome growing at Soufriere Hills (Montserrat, Lesser Antilles), more explosive activity has occurred from a new fissure today. For the third time since August 1995, the southern part of the island is being evacuated. Detailed info is available on the Soufriere Hills reports page of MTU.

1 April 1996
Lava domes at Ruapehu and Popocatépetl, Sumatra's Marapi causes concern, and glowing avalanches on Montserrat

A message on V-Listserv of 30 March 1996 indicates possible growth of a lava dome within the crater of Ruapehu (New Zealand), after several months of greatly diminished activity. The volcano triggered much attention in September-October 1995 when it produced a series of spectacular phreatomagmatic and magmatic eruptions accompanied by the ejection of its crater lake and major lahars. Lava extrusion has been considered a possibility since. During its large 1945 eruption, Ruapehu first extruded a lava dome before producing vigorous explosions. Check the Ruapehu page of MTU for information and further links about the 1995 activity.
Another lava dome is confirmedly forming since 29 March within the crater of Popocatépetl, according to a message on V-listserv. More details will probably be available within the next few days.
The third lava dome making the news in these days is growing since late 1995 in the crater of Soufriere Hills, Montserrat. Since 27 March, a series of collapses from the dome's E flank has produced glowing avalanches that proceeded further than any previous ones during the current activity (initiated in July 1995). The largest collapse so far occurred on late 31 March. Detailed info is available on the Soufriere Hills reports page of MTU.
Earthweek reports increased activity from Marapi volcano, on Sumatra island (Indonesia), confusing it with Merapi on neighboring Java island (continuously active since January 1992). Marapi's activity continues since at least 1987, consisting of discrete explosive (Strombolian-Vulcanian) events; in July 1992, one tourist was killed by one such explosion. The current activity is said to have caused concern among local authorities.
Meanwhile, Java's Merapi appears to be quieter than at any time during 1995 (personal communication from Kirby D Young).

21 March 1996
Satellite views Soputan eruption

A small ash eruption from Soputan volcano, located in the northern part of Sulawesi island, Indonesia, has occurred on 15 March. Evidence of the eruption comes from GMS-5 satellite images . Indonesian news sources have no info about this eruption. Satellite images are available on the TOMS SO2 home page, the link to a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) does not work. Continuing eruptive activity is also reported from Popocatépetl and Gorda Ridge while Komagatake seems to have simmered down after 12 March. On Alaska's Akutan island, the volcano of the same name seems to have quieted down as well as of 20 March.

19 March 1996
Scores of earthquakes shake Akutan volcano

Vigorous seismicity has been recorded during the past week at Akutan volcano in the Aleutian Islands (Alaska). The seismicity could be a forerunner of a new eruption. Updates and background info are made available by the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO).

13 March 1996
Popocatépetl continues to emit ash

Widespread information in newspapers and on WWW news services report continuing activity at Popocatépetl (México) during the past few days. "La Jornada" (in Spanish) has more detail with photos, and also reports increased activity at Colima volcano, México. A brief report with a photo and a movie are available at CNN.

Meanwhile, activity at Komagatake volcano has apparently declined. However, Japanese volcanologists consider the possibility that the recent activity was a forerunner of a larger magmatic eruption.

11 March 1996
State of alert at Popocatépetl?

The Italian electronic news service "Televideo RAI" reports on early 11 March that the state of alert has been declared at Popocatépetl (México) due to its continuing activity since 5 March. See "La Jornada" (in Spanish) for more detail.

9 March 1996
Continuing activity at Komagatake

Komagatake on Hokkaido island (Japan) remains active as of 9 March, with phreatic steam and ash emissions. More info is available on the Current Volcanic Activity Page of the Japanese Volcano Research Center, and at Tatsuro Chiba's Volcano Page. If you have problems downloading Tatsuro's images, try on the mirror site here!

7 March 1996
Eruptions at three sites at one time

Three volcanoes became active in the past few days: Popocatépetl (México) had a small steam and ash emission on 5 March (local time), Komagatake (Hokkaido, Japan) erupted steam and ash for the first time in 54 years also on 5 March (local time), and possible volcanic activity was recorded seismically on the northern Gorda Ridge (NE Pacific) since 28 Feb. More info is available on special WWW sites:

21 February 1996
Strong explosion at Stromboli

The Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia at Catania (IIV) reports a stronger-than-usual eruptive event from STROMBOLI that occurred on the evening of 16 February. Intense seismicity was recorded for about 12 minutes. A field survey by IIV scientists on 20 February revealed that bombs and Pele's tears had fallen to the north of the crater area, and the source of the explosion was probably Crater 1 where a powerful explosion had last occurred on 5 March 1995. Check the news reports of IIV in the next few days!

19 February 1996
Kilauea returns to activity

Eruptive activity resumed on Kilauea's East Rift Zone on 15 February after an unusually long hiatus lasting 9 days. See the Hawaii Center for Volcanology for further info.

13 February 1996
Small block-and-ash flows at Unzen

Small block and ash flows have been descending from the lava dome of Unzen (Japan) on 10-13 February 1996, after about one year of no such activity. However, there seems to be no renewed lava supply to the lava dome, and the flows are rather interpreted as being triggered by shrinkage of the cooling dome or seasonal temperature changes. More detail is available at the Volcano Research Center, Toyko.

10 February 1996
Eighth eruptive episode from Etna's NE Crater

Yet another eruptive episode (the eighth since early November 1995) is reported from Etna's Northeast Crater on early 10 February. Like previous eruptive episodes, the activity consisted of explosive ejection of ash and lava fountaining. Ash falls occurred on the SE flank of the volcano, reaching as far as Catania. No danger exists for inhabited areas around the volcano. Check for forthcoming reports at the Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia, Catania. The institute has now prepared a report about the activity from 15 November until 31 December 1995. Don't miss it!

2 February 1996
Intrusion at Kilauea followed by surge in activity at Pu'u 'O'o

A magmatic intrusion beneath the summit of Kilauea, Hawaii, rose to within a few hundred m of the surface on 1 February 1996 but did not cause the formation of a new eruptive vent. Instead, the magma was diverted down the East Rift and caused an upsurge of activity at the currently active vents at Pu'u 'O'o. The lava pond within the Pu'u 'O'o crater rose 30 m, and the increased lava volume transported along the lava tube system caused the lava to break out of skylights in spectacular fountains. The volcano returned to more normal conditions after about 24 hours; on 6 February, the eruption took a pause. More info is available at Volcano World and Hawaii Center for Volcanology.

26 January 1996
Eruption at Etna, and alleged eruptions in Sulawesi

Etna roared back to life on 25 January with its seventh episode of vigorous fire-fountaining from its NE crater since early November. The Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia has further info. Renewed eruptive activity has also been reported from Soputan and Lokon-Empung volcanoes, Sulawesi, Indonesia, on 13-14 January 1996. Check Earthweek for further info. Lokon is misspelled as "Vokon" in that report. There are also reports about increased fumarolic activity at Mahawu volcano, still on Sulawesi, causing "unpleasant smells" in nearby villages during the past 6 months. This might be a sign that the volcano "is more active than before". This news is of 24 January 1996, from "KITLV reports", Netherlands.

2 January 1996
New Year's Eruption of Karymsky volcano, Kamchatka

The first new (that is, not continuing from 1995) eruption of a volcano in 1996 was that of Karymsky, Kamchatka, Russia. It began on the afternoon (local time) of 1 January 1996 and soon produced a plume that rose to about 7000 m altitude; satellite imagery later showed a plume extending at least 200 km to the SE and S.

Karymsky is one of Kamchatka's most active volcanoes, having last erupted in 1970-1982. Its activity ranges from Strombolian to vigorous Vulcanian with frequent effusion of lava flows or lava dome formation. Stronger Vulcanian eruptions commonly produce glowing avalanches.

For more info, check the Karymsky page on this site and the AVO updates.

Back to the Latest News