Tuesday Tidbits


Redoubt emitting a large steam plume in April 2009. Image courtesy of Calvin Hall.

A few snippets from the world of volcanoes:

  • The current eruptive cycle at Galeras continues to go strong. Officials with INGEOMINAS, the Colombian Geology Survey, believe the volcano will erupt again in the next few “days to weeks”. The volcano last erupted a few weeks ago (in spanish) and caused quite a bit of panic in the city of Pasto at the foot of the volcano. An Orange Alert has been issued (in spanish) for the volcano.
  • Another volcano have is on the verge of a larger eruption is Nyiragongo in the DR of the Congo. Reports of “by day, the air in the city is thick with volcanic dust. By night …the red glow of burning lava trickling out of the summit of the nearest volcano [Nyiragongo]” Additionally, one of the scientists at the Goma Volcano Observatory reports that “significantly increased temperatures had been recorded around Mount Nyiragongo recently and a larger than usual cloud of volcanic dust was being thrown into the skies“. Interestingly, he also mentions that Nymuragira, not Nyiragongo, is the volcano they expect to erupt soon.
  • Not much new to report on the Redoubt front. The dome collapse has yet to occur and seismicity at the volcano has tailed off compared to last week. Still, always a good idea to take a peak at the webcams.
  • The erratic behavior of Llaima (in spanish) has government officials in Chile on edge. There is still an active lava flow emanating from the volcano, plenty of volcanic gas and ash emissions – mostly in the form of orange/black plumes that reach a few hundred meters and constant low-level seismicity.


  1. #1 David Emery
    May 12, 2009

    I know very little about volcanos in Africa. What’s the rationale/explanation for a volcano in the Congo? Hot spot underneath? Presumably this isn’t one of those coastline subduction zone volcanos…

  2. #2 David Emery
    May 12, 2009

    I know very little about volcanos in Africa. What’s the rationale/explanation for a volcano in the Congo? Hot spot underneath? Presumably this isn’t one of those coastline subduction zone volcanos…

  3. #3 volcanophile
    May 12, 2009

    Nyragongo lies on an opening rift-zone like its eastern counterparts Oldonyo Lengai anfd Kilimandjaro.

    The African continent is beginning to crack apart into several microplates. 2OO million years into the future, a new ocean will be opening into what is currently Great Rift Valley.

    About LLaima, hmm.. kinda reminds me of something.

    Mt Etna did exactly that in 1979. In the beginning of August 1979, the Bocca Nuova was violently erupting, Vulcanian-style, while lava was flowing down the flanks into Valle del Bove.

    The explosive activity abruptly stopped when part of the crater wall collapsed into the vent and sealed it shut. As gases had nowhere to go, pressure kept building up and up while tourists were allowed again to climb to the summit, because the eruption was thought to be over .

    On 12 september 1979, the plug suddenly gave way and everything blew up. 9 people, who were on the crater rim taking pictures, were instantly killed, and several more were injured.

    So don’t believe it’s over at Llaima yet. We might be waiting for a big de-corking.

  4. #4 Erik Klemetti
    May 12, 2009

    Volcanophile – Thanks for the info on Nyiragongo. And double thanks for the comparison of Etna to Llaima. I’m sure this thought has gone through the heads of the geologists in the SERNAGEOMIN (at least I hope it ha). Definitely a system to watch carefully.

  5. #5 volcanophile
    May 12, 2009

    Etna and Llaima are in fact quite similar.

    They’re both basaltic stratovolcanoes, and they essentially behave in the same way.

    “Uncorking” explosions (the french term is “débourrage”, I haven’t found any English equivalent) are a permanent threat on this type of volcanoes.

    As parts of the crater wall collapse on top of the vent, gases can no longer escape and the resulting pressure build-up can make really bad things happen..

    This is especially treacherous, because since there is no gas venting, there is no unusual fumarolic activity before the big blow-up..

    Etna did that again in 1986.

  6. #6 Richard Smith
    May 12, 2009

    The volcano last erupted a few weeks ago (in spanish)

    What does a volcano erupting in Spanish sound like?

  7. #7 volcanophile
    May 12, 2009

    It would sound a bit like you if you ate half a pound of habanero chili peppers…

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