Ash Fall and Pyroclastic Flows from Guatemala's Santa Maria

Rocky Planet iconRocky Planet
By Erik Klemetti
Nov 30, 2012 12:57 AMNov 20, 2019 2:41 AM


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The Santiaguito dome on Santa Maria in Guatemala, showing a diffuse ash plume and a possible pyroclastic flow in the foreground. Image: Webcam capture on November 29, 2012 / INSIVUMEH. Many of us have been watching the new eruption in Russia, but another place where volcanic activity is being felt is in Guatemala (video). Now, the Central American nation is no stranger to volcanic activity (and earthquakes as well), but currently Santa Maria is showing off some healthy ash explosions that have dusted the countryside around the volcano. Santa Maria's might be better known to many of you as Santiaguito, the dome complex on the composite volcano. Explosions from this dome complex have been producing 1.5-3.2 km / 5000-10,000 foot ash plumes that has been spreading ash downwind and dry conditions in Guatemala has promoted extended dispersal of the ash to places that might not normally get ash fall. Eddy Sanchez of the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology (INSIVUMEH) characterized the activity at Santa Maria as normal, but on the high side. This new ash fall has been damaging coffee, bean and sugar cane crops that are grown in the fertile soil around the volcano as well -- some of which are subsistence crops for villages in the area. You can see some of this activity on the INSIVUMEH webcam for the Santiaguito dome complex -- even in the image from today, an ash plume as possible small pyroclastic flows are visible (see above). {Special thanks to Eruptions readers for links used in this post.}

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