Chaiten in Chile erupting in May 2008 – likely the Volcanic Event of 2008.

2009 is almost over and it has been quite a busy year, volcanically speaking. This is not to say that is was anomalously volcanic – more that many of the volcanic events captured the media’s attention. I’ll be putting together a “Volcanic Year in Review” for 2009 and at the end I’ll award the 2009 “Volcanic Event of the Year” (a Pliny?) … but now its your turn to nominate events for the award. The event could be an eruptions, signs of an eruption, a big research article, a media debacle/success when it comes to covering volcanoes, you name it (as long as its related to volcanism, of course). Post your nominations as a comment or email them to me at


. I’ll take nominees up until December 30, so get them in! If you want a refresher on all the volcanic goings-on in 2009, check out the archives of Eruptions.


  1. #1 Chris Cole
    December 22, 2009

    Redoubt? Depends on whether Mayon blows its stack in the next few days although some experts are alreay saying that Mayon won’t be as explosive as Pinatubo.
    Merry Christmas Erik

  2. #2 Simon
    December 22, 2009

    If Mayon does something special before the end of the year then my vote would be Mayon, However if it doesn’t then im going to go for Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai

  3. #3 JC John Sese Cuneta
    December 22, 2009

    Well for me, whether Mayon Volcano erupts or not my vote goes for it. As Erik said:

    1) This is not to say that is was anomalously volcanic
    2) could be an eruptions
    3) signs of an eruption (<-- Mayon qualifies for that) 4) a big research article 5) a media debacle/success when it comes to covering volcanoes and finally "you name it (as long as its related to volcanism, of course)" ^_^ So, I officially nominate Mayon Volcano not just for 2009 but for this decade.

  4. #4 Gijs de Reijke
    December 22, 2009

    I’m going for Sarychev Peak, because of the fantastic pictures that have been made from out of space:

    Redoubt is no. 2 (media attention) and Mayon is no. 3 (media attention, but it didn’t erupt… yet).

    If Mayon or any other volcano is yet to produce a big show in 2009, it might change my Top 3.

    This decade’s volcano: definately Chaitén.

  5. #5 Guillermo
    December 22, 2009

    This could be the event of the year: The 20 year anniversary of the Navidad cone

  6. #6 Barb
    December 22, 2009

    A Pliny would be a great name for the award!!!

    There should be different categories, though. In terms of sheer scientific interest (at least from a layperson’s viewpoint), Chaiten is it.

    In terms of media events, at least in the US, it would have be Redoubt. Was that the first ongoing eruption to get tweeted by its observatory?

    Karkar should win a special 2009 “Gotcha!” award.

    The Cosanga volcanoes deserve a Rookie of the Year mention.

    Submarine eruption honors could be shared by Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai (which made it to the surface) and West Mata (which didn’t and may also fit into the media event category).

    In terms of known extraterrestrial eruptions, I vote for Enceladus, if only for astrobiology reasons.

  7. #7 VolcanoMan
    December 22, 2009

    The idea of a few categories is a good one…perhaps
    “Best Eruption Photograph”
    “Best Eruption Footage”
    “VEI award for most explosive eruption in 2009”
    “Monty Python Award (And now for something completely different)” – for the volcano that behaves most strangely relative to its historical behaviour
    “The Not Extinct Award” – for the subaerial (because we don’t notice most of the submarine eruptions) volcano that erupted in 2009 after the longest period of dormancy.

  8. #8 stephen tierney
    December 22, 2009

    Ok, even though I’m from the Uk and am of limited vulcanknowledgie (lol)… I’d like to mention a few highlights for me..

    Mt Rainier, got us all talking with its little earthquake swarm this year. Just enough to let us know dont forget about me. The website covering the cascades is worthy of mention too.. Well done

    Stromboli still continues to be the lighthouse of the mediteraenean (forgive spelling). Never bores ceases to entertain me

    Etna however gets my vote Numerous eruptions wherever whenever however and the people on sicily work around it. Look the uk has a couple of inches of snow and the whole country stops, wonder how we would cope with a volcano such as etna? Anyway beautiful Etna for me as for too many reasons to mention.

    Of course Chaiten, mayon soufrere hills (spelling again) and redoubt are worthy in their own right. But I like the ones people live around and deal with (thats without much media attention).

    Kilauea also merits mention with the pit in the Caldera appearing this year.

    Etna for me though…

    Anybody got any wild volcanic predictions for next year?

    Happy Chistmas Erik and all. Fab Site

  9. #9 Chance Metz
    December 22, 2009

    For me it is Sarchev Peak. It was kinda suprise given Mayon and Redoubt are old preformers so to speak.

  10. #10 Gijs de Reijke
    December 22, 2009
  11. #11 mike don
    December 22, 2009

    A few possible candidates:
    For the most interesting volcanic non-event of the year: Harrat Lunayvir -a sustained earthquake swarm in an area with few recorded eruptions. Was it tectonic? Did it mark sill emplacement? (Second place maybe Turrialba, which continues to be restless)

    For the most spectacular volcano image: Definitely Sarychev, that photo from orbit which even made it to national newspapers

    For the most interesting eruption: perhaps West Mata -who’d have thought that such vigorous explosive activity could happen at over 1000 metres depth? (I’m disqualifying Chaiten, since technically it started in 2008)

    Like Chance said, Mayon and Redoubt are regulars, their eruptions so far well within the parameters of previous activity.

    Oh yes; Happy Christmas, Erik, and thanks for a great site!

  12. #12 Jimmy
    December 22, 2009

    My nomination for volcanic news of the year is this modest research from April 2009, studying coordinated pulses of mantle plumes which “imply periodic heating of the earth’s core with subsequent heat-release to the mantle and increased global plume activity…” “both plumes seem to originate within the thin boundary layer near the Core/Mantle Boundary” “This hypothesis implies periodic heating of the earth’s core with subsequent heat-release to the mantle and increased global plume activity.”

    Variation of Icelandic and Hawaiian magmatism: evidence for co-pulsation of mantle plumes? R. Mjelde and J. I. Faleide

    Does anyone know if the ‘geomagnetic dynamo theory’ supports periodic heat pulses or do we need Herndon’s maverick ‘core reactor theory’ to explain this?

  13. #13 Doug C.
    December 22, 2009

    My nomination for the “Pliny” has to be Redoubt.

    Honorable mention goes to Sarychev and Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai

  14. #15 Eric of Newcastle
    December 23, 2009

    I have to go with this article on Mayon from today. Breathtaking photo!

    But my vote for the Pliny goes to this photo of erupting Tvashtar volcano (which I only read of this year so it counts even if from 2007, harrumpf). Made hair stand up on my neck when I saw it.

  15. #16 Boris Behncke
    December 23, 2009

    Among the more important volcanic eruptions of this year, I would certainly count Sarychev in the first place because it has been possibly the largest explosive eruption of 2009 globally, and it did cause a little bit of a global effect (the beautiful colorful sunsets in the summer), and it caused dramatic changes to the coastline of its island Matua:
    Then certainly the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai eruption, which seems to have been quite strong, and also caused dramatic morphological changes; Redoubt seems to have been quite significant as well in terms of volume. We’ve had then some further interesting eruptions – Huila in Colombia is building quite a sizable lava dome, and Rinjani on Indonesia’s island of Lombok produced an eruption that was almost not reported in the volcanological community but attracted scores of travellers.
    Mayon has yet to become a major event (I wish the people living next to it that it will not), but already the quantity of lava emitted seems to be significant.
    Finally, let’s see if the last week of this year will bring some significant volcanic event …

  16. #17 Guillermo
    December 23, 2009

    Another candidate is the surprising discovery of five new and unknown volcanoes in Ecuador.

  17. #18 CK
    December 23, 2009

    My favorite this year was Okmok. 90min from dormancy to a cataclysmic blast. Wow!
    Merry x-mas to everyone!

  18. #19 CK
    December 23, 2009

    Okmok was 2008 … how fast time is running … but still one of my favorites … so I go for Sarychev instead …

  19. #20 George
    December 23, 2009

    That one they found erupting deep in the ocean. There are probably untold numbers more of them that we won’t find until we happen across them.

  20. #21 Oakden Wolf
    December 24, 2009

    I’d also go with Sarychev Peak; amazing capture from space, and also disruption of air travel.

    Following up VolcanoMan’s suggestions:

    Sarychev Peak would definitely win “Best Picture”.

    Best Sequel: Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai, which generated the best rooster-tails since Surtsey.

    Comeback of the Year Award: Soufriere Hills, Montserrat

    Long-running Series Award: The Pu’u O’o Eruption, Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii
    (with the usual nominees: Stromboli, Erta Ale, Ol Doinyo Lengai, Sakura-jima, Anak Krakatau)

    Best Short Subject: Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island

    Most-Monitored Award: Redoubt Volcano, Alaska

    Least-Monitored Award: Manda Hararo complex, Afar Triangle, Ethiopia

    Most Likely to be Misspelled and Mispronounced Award: Kliuchevskoi, Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia

  21. #22 Boris Behncke
    December 24, 2009

    Oakden Wolf’s list is pretty much complete I’d say … in fact, Soufrière Hills (Montserrat) fully deserves to be in the list, it did have a significant comeback this year.

  22. #23 Diane
    December 24, 2009

    Merry Christmas to you Erik!

    One of my favorites is Redoubt. One person up there got a pic of a bald eagle with the eruption in the background. I want a copy of that.

    All the others mentioned are good candidates. I think right now, it would be Mayon and the undersea one. Mayon could to anything right now. Its eruption is really putting on a show and it could blast away or just keep spewing lava.

    I like Etna, too. I have been monitoring that volcano since the mid ’90s.

    So those are my observations. There are some really unique things going on and that undersea one was spectacular. So was Redoubt. I guess my real vote goes for Redoubt unless Mayon goes berzerk.

    Merry Christmas to everybody.

  23. #24 Passerby
    December 24, 2009

    I’ll go with Sarychev Peak, with the flood-basalt emissions activity in Afar Complex Ethiopia a runner-up alongside continued heavy emissions from Kilauea.

  24. #25 The Bobs
    December 24, 2009

    I put it in the last thread, but for me it has to be Sarychev Peak. Best picture too, no question about it.

  25. #26 Stephen Tierney
    December 25, 2009

    Thought somebody might have given Mt Yasur a mention….tut. Ok I’ve metioned it on the merit of its long running eruption activity and still continuing. Quite mind blowing..well over 200 years!!!

  26. #27 Diane
    December 25, 2009

    I thought of Yasur and Ambrym. I had no idea Yasur has been erupting that long. That is probably why John Seach goes there with a group of tourists a lot. It will erupt a pretty good Strombolian show.

    Of course, there is Kilauea. Contiuous for over 20 years and now a crater in a crater in a caldera. I am thinking it just may start fountaining one of these days. But it fills and empties so it may not do that. It would be something if it did as Kilauea Iki did.

    How about the “blob” in Nevada?

  27. #28 SHIRAKAWA Akira
    December 29, 2009

    My nomination is Redoubt.

    For me, mainly thanks to AVO’s monitoring efforts, it’s been a very instructive volcano. Also it still has something to say, I wonder if it will actually erupt again after months of unrest like earlier this year.

  28. #29 VolcanoMan
    December 29, 2009

    I’ve thought a bit more about this and if I had to pick one event this year that surpassed all others volcanically, it would be the photo from the ISS of Sarychev. As far as important volcanological milestones go, that one is right up there with Pliny the Younger’s documentation of the Vesuvius eruption, in my opinion. The combination of technological brilliance and an extremely lucky break boggles the mind: that we can put astronauts into orbit and that one of their duties is to take photos, and that they just happened to pass close to Sarychev just as it underwent its climactic eruption…incredible. Also, while a satellite could do the same thing, and for cheaper, there’s something in knowing that this is actually what a person *observed* directly.

    The eruption itself was definitely one of the most impressive this year, but the photo is peerless; I fully expect to see it in new editions of geology textbooks (and perhaps a meteorology text or two) worldwide within a year or two.

    The only other volcanic event that could perhaps challenge the photograph of Sarychev from space, is the undersea eruption at West Mata volcano near Samoa, where the main eruptive product was boninitic, which should get the geochemists and petrologists excited. I hadn’t heard of it before, but did some poking around: it looks like a high-magnesium, low-titanium andesite to me, and it is apparently produced by the metasomatic (hydration) melting of peridotite that has already been subjected to partial melting. Additionally, in an interview, one of the scientists involved in the filming of the eruption said that the boninitic lava was 1400 degrees Celsius, which I believe to be the absolute hottest lava known to have erupted on Earth in modern times. Impressive enough to claim the “Pliny”…?

    I cannot think of any other contenders. Redoubt rumbled awhile, but didn’t do much interesting. Kilauea has been erupting at its summit for a couple years now, nothing new there, but the webcam taking photos of the lava lake in the summit vent has captured some very amazing shots (check it out at night, you won’t regret it).

    Oh, one more thing – if we were doing categories, the hands-down winner for “Best Volcanic Extreme Sport” would go to:

    Boarding down an active volcano. However…this is nowhere near as extreme as the volcanic sport that I invented this year: I call it Volcanic Chicken. All you need is a volcano that erupts in short strombolian bursts with breaks in-between of varying and unpredictable lengths (minutes to hours)…if you can get to the rim of the active crater, stay there for an agreed period of time (depending on the volcano), and get down to safety without dying…you win. If you die…well, you lose. Unfortunately, I AM a chicken, and when I tried to play it on Fuego, I made it only 80 metres (according to my GPS) from the active crater. Still, these “boarders” should try a REAL volcanic extreme sport! It’s very aerobic too, an excellent work-out, not like boarding…running for your life from American football-sized volcanic bombs is surprisingly beneficial for your cardiovascular health!

    I love volcanoes. And this year, the most amazing thing that I saw on the internet related to volcanoes was the Sarychev shot…no comparison.

  29. #30 Dave Tucker
    December 31, 2009

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog this past year- it is the best place for up-to-the-minute (practically!) volcano info, all in one place. You have reports I’ve seen no where else. I’ll add a link to your blog on the Mount Baker Volcano Research Center website (hey, thanks for the plug for our fund-raiser t-shirt sale!) and another on my blog, Northwest Geology Field Trips
    Happy New Year,
    Dave Tucker
    Bellingham, Washingont USA

  30. #31 Kvepalai pigiau
    December 12, 2010

    Greetings. First of all – fantastic blog! Secondly this article was also good and interesting to read, but I don’t think everything you have said is how it is in reality. I will need to google about few things you have mentioned in your artcile to make sure. But anyway thanks for taking your time to write intresting artciles and good luck on writing other articles. P.S sorry for bad English, I aren’t English native speaker.

  31. #32 Reena Fake
    December 18, 2010

    I think this articles has to be in the top 3 posts on this blog. this is why I keep coming back and I’m not disappointed.

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