October 18, 2012 – HAWAII – Kilauea Volcano has been putting on quite a show lately… as the lava lake within the Halemaumau Crater has reached its highest level since the summit eruption began in 2008. The lava lake at Kīlauea’s summit was only about 150 feet below the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu crater on Sunday — the highest it has reached, according to the scientists of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
For the past several months, lava within the summit vent has been slowly rising. As of October 5, 2012, lava reached a level that covered the previous high-lava “bathtub” ring within the vent. It was around this time that the bangs and booms of the volcano began to be heard as far away as the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, thrilling crowds day and night.
This video shows the heat from the high lava lake level in the overlook vent, causing the walls of the vent above the lava surface to expand and fracture. Scientists say this is the source of the cracking and booming noises emanating from the vent in recent days. Here, we see small fragments of rock exploding from the wall and scattering onto the lake surface. The HVO says the rise in lava level within the vent is associated with a modest uplift and expansion of Kilauea’s summit area.
The root cause for this expansion isn’t clear. Scientists don’t believe there’s an increase in magma supply from below. They do believe there could be a connection in the volcanic plumbing system between the summit magma reservoir and the active Pu`u `O`o eruptive vent on Kilauea’s east rift zone. On at least three occasions between March and September 2011, the level of the lava lake within the summit vent was unusually elevated.
This condition caused increased pressure within the east rift plumbing system, resulting in notable eruptive outbreaks: the short-lived Kamoamoa fissure eruption just uprift of Pu`u `O`o and two subsequent events in which Pu`u `O`o was split open along its flanks. This time, however, it appears that the associated high summit pressure has not significantly transmitted down the volcano’s east rift. The lava level within Pu`u `O`o crater, while elevated, is not extraordinarily so.
And even though lava is flowing through a tube near the base of the Pu`u `O`o cone, flows haven’t reached the ocean in nearly a year. According to the HVO, a steady decrease in Kilauea’s east rift zone gas emissions since August 2012 also suggests a decrease in magma flow between the summit and east rift zone. Scientists say one possible outcome of continued summit expansion and lava level rise could be an eventual outpouring of lava on the floor of Halema`uma`u Crater. Alternatively, the increased pressure might overcome the apparent constriction, resulting in an outbreak somewhere between the summit and Pu`u `O`o, akin to the March 2011 Kamoamoa fissure eruption.
October 15, 2012 – COLOMBIA – According to the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Manizales, an earthquake measuring 2.6 on the Richter scale occurred yesterday at 11:54 am. The statement also notes that the incident “is associated with rock fracturing within the volcanic edifice.” The volcano-tectonic earthquake was presented to the southeast of the main dome at a depth of 12.33 miles. Although the movement was felt in the district Tapias, rural Ibagué, Eduardo Rodríguez, director of the Departmental Committee for Risk Management, confirmed that no emergencies have been reported so far. The Cerro Machin volcano alert remains yellow. There have been three earthquakes reported in the vicinity of the volcano within a week. On Sunday two movements were recorded at 9:32 and 9:35 pm with a magnitude of 4.6 and 3.9 on the Richter scale, respectively, located 12 kilometers southeast of depth to the main dome. The two municipalities where the tremors were felt are Cajamarca and Ibague. Cerro Machin last erupted 800 years ago.
El Hierro: It seems a new earthquake swarm has started at El Hierro volcano yesterday, when the number of quakes rose from an average of about 8-10 to 23 quakes per day. Today, so far there have been 14 events recorded, and their number is likely to rise further. The quakes are very small (mostly under M1, largest M2.0) and are concentrated at about 10 km depth in the western El Golfo and scattered in the SW part of the island at greater depths.
Iceland: A new earthquake swarm occurred over the weekend on the Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula, on the volcanic rift zone about 12 km SW of Brenisteinsfjöll volcano. The largest quake was a M3.8 event at 5 km depth on Friday at 19:42 UTC.
Yellowstone: A minor seismic swarm occurred at Yellowstone, but falls into what is normal activity at a large active caldera.
October 15, 2012 – KAMCHATKA – The Klyuchevskoy volcano, the highest active volcano in Eurasia, has started erupting in Kamchatka, in the Russian Far East. The luminescence over the volcano summit is evidence that glowing lava is flowing in the crater. The volcano may start blowing out ash any moment now. The Level of Concern Colour Code has been raised to Yellow, which is a potential danger warning for aircraft. The giant volcano last erupted from September 2009 to December 2010, and it began to again wake up in June this year. Klyuchevskoy volcano is 4,750 meters above sea.
October 14, 2012 – INDONESIA – A new eruptive phase began on Thursday, 9th October (or possibly the 8th October) at Paluweh volcano, the volcano has been dormant since 1985. Paluweh is also known as Rokatenda. The volcano has shown signs of revival since October 1st. The MODVOLC (MODIS) detected thermal anomalies on 9th October followed by an emission of large ash plumes that could be seen from Flores Island, plus reports of “huge fire” issuing from the top of the volcano. Several villages reported intense ash fall. 6000 people have been reported to have evacuated the area. Dust masks are being distributed. The head of the East Nusa Tenggara chapter of BNPB, Tini Thadeus, said Rokatenda was currently on Alert Level II status, “Waspada,” out of four statuses, with the fourth being the most dangerous. Tini said two other volcanoes in the province, namely Mount Lewotolok in the district of Lembata and Mount Sirung in the subdistrict of Alor, were on the “Waspada” status as well.
October 14, 2012 – JAPAN – A Japanese scientist has warned Mount Fuji is due for a “big-scale explosive eruption” that could affect millions of people and cause billions of dollars worth of damage. Last month a study found the magma chamber under the mountain has come under immense pressure, which could even trigger a volcanic eruption. It said the added pressure could have been caused by last year’s earthquake, which was followed a few days later by another large tremor directly underneath Fuji. Professor Toshitsugu Fujii, the head of Japan’s volcanic eruption prediction panel, says an eruption could cause chaos and carnage all the way to Tokyo. “Mount Fuji has been resting for 300 years now, and this is abnormal,” he told Saturday AM. “It usually erupts in some form every 30 years. So the next eruption could be a big-scale explosive eruption.” Ever since last year’s massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake off Japan’s north-east, the country’s meteorological agency has been keeping a closer eye on Mount Fuji. Of even greater concern to the agency was a magnitude-6.2 quake right under the volcano a few days after the big one. “It’s known that when a large earthquake happens, it can trigger a nearby volcano to erupt,” Professor Fujii said. “That’s what happened 300 years ago, when Fuji erupted just 40 days after a big quake.”
October 14, 2012 – BOLIVIA – Geophysicists at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have identified a unique phenomenon in Altiplano-Puna plateau, located in the central Andes near the borders of Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Magma underneath the Earth’s crust is forcing the ground up in one spot, and at the same time sinking the ground around it. The result is something the researchers have described as the “sombrero uplift,” after the popular Mexican hat.
According to their report on the phenomenon, published in the journal Science, the two UC San Diego scientists recorded uplift in the crust that measured about 0.4 inches per year for 20 years across an area 62 miles wide; the surrounding area sunk at a lower rate—about eight-hundredths of an inch. “It’s a subtle motion, pushing up little by little every day, but it’s this persistence that makes this uplift unusual.
Most other magmatic systems that we know about show episodes of inflation and deflation,” said Yuri Fialko, a professor of geophysics at UCSD and Planetary Physics at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Fialko and co-author Jill Pearse said the phenomenon was the result of a diapir, or a blob of magma, that rises to Earth’s crust like heated wax inside a lava lamp. Using satellite data from European Remote Sensing (ERS) and Envisat missions, the geophysicists were able to study the uplift in great detail.
In 2006, the team asked for the satellites to gather more data from their orbits over Altiplano-Puna. “It was really important to have good data from different lines of sight, as this allowed us to estimate contributions from vertical and horizontal motion of Earth’s surface, and place crucial constraints on depth and mechanism of the inflation source,” Fialko said. “Back in 2006, it looked like the satellites stopped acquiring data from the ascending orbits over the area of interest. Fortunately, ESA was very responsive to our requests, and generated an excellent dataset that made our study possible. Satellite data and computer models allowed us to make the important link between what’s observed at the surface and what’s happening with the magma body at depth,” he added.
Fialko said the study’s findings could fuel future research around magmatic events, including the formation of large calderas. Although this diapir in the Altiplano-Puna plateau appears unlikely to cause such a phenomenon—the creation of large calderas, “supervolcanoes,” are highly destructive events that spew thousands of cubic kilometers of magma into the atmosphere. An event of this type would dwarf the Icelandic volcano eruption in 2011 that ejected large amounts of ash into the atmosphere and disrupted global air travel, Fialko said.
Diapirs have been known to exist before, but this new study is the first to recognize an active diapir currently rising through the crust. Fialko said a less prominent uplift phenomenon is taking place near Socorro, New Mexico. The Altiplano-Puna plateau is a highly active area for magma and is part of a South American volcanic arc that extends along the northwest side of the continent. Experts have described the area as the largest known active magma body in Earth’s continental crust.
October 9, 2012 – ANTARTICA – A preliminary 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck 452 miles northwest of the Balleny Islands region early this morning at 2:32 a.m., but presented no tsunami threat to Hawaii, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The earthquake struck at a depth of about 6.3 miles. The Balleny Islands are a series of uninhabited volcanic islands that are part of Antarctica.
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