The Sciences

Fuego in Guatemala has Largest Eruption in Years

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiMay 20, 2012 8:35 PM


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Fuego had one of its most explosive and vigorous eruptions in years over the weekend. The active Guatemalan volcano, located ~40 km from the capital city of the country, was producing an ash plume that topped out at almost 5 km / 16,000 feet and, if the reports can be believed, a fire fountain at the summit that was well over a 1 km / 3,200 feet. Some of the video of the eruption clearly shows large incandescent blocks being thrown from the summit crater (see right) and the scene in the daytime is ash billowing. However, but Sunday morning, the activity had begun to diminish at Fuego, but ash was still falling on communities near the volcano with 700 meter / 2,300 ash plumes from smaller explosions.

The volcano was placed on "orange" alert status by CONRED (Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres) and the Guatemalan government has closed airspace in the 40 km surrounding the volcano, however no evacuations have been called. Although the activity is dominated by explosive activity, it appears that a lava flow that has reached at least 500 m / 1,600 feet was also seen and David de Leon from CONRED was quoted as saying the eruption was in an "effusive phase". The threat of these lava flows has also prompted the closure of highways near the volcano. This eruption at Fuego is part of activity that started in 2002, so we're now at a full decade of intermittent explosive eruptions and lava flows from the volcano. INSIVUMEH, the geologic and meteorologic survey of Guatemala, has a live photo of Fuego that updates periodically, but as of this morning, cloud cover obscures much of the view.

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