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20th Anniversary of the Smithsonian / USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report
Hello volcano fans!
The first week of November 2020 marks 20 years since the first Weekly Volcanic Activity Report (WVAR) went public. It is a big milestone and worth celebrating, and what a better way to do that than with summaries of notable eruptions! My name is Sally Sennert. I work for the USGS and have been writing the WVAR for more than 14 years while embedded with GVP. I wanted to share with you how and why the WVAR got started, how it has evolved through time, and finally my top 50 picks of notable eruptions that have occurred in the past two decades.
The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report is a summary of global volcanic activity posted every Wednesday. It is a collaborative effort between the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the USGS Volcano Hazards Program. It was conceived in the late 1990s by Marianne Guffanti, the former USGS Volcano Hazards Program Coordinator, and James Luhr, the former GVP Director, to meet increasing expectations on both agencies to provide the public with more timely information about volcanic eruptions. USGS employee Gari Mayberry arrived at the Smithsonian in the summer of 2000 and produced the first public WVAR in collaboration with GVP staff, which covered 1-7 November 2000. I succeeded Gari in May 2006 and remain the WVAR writer. For the entire 20 years, Ed Venzke has provided crucial editorial reviews and helped to ensure both accuracy and a consistent style (rarely have I received a "star" and no edits, which we both find humorous).
Each week I virtually tour the world in search of information about volcanic eruptions. The world's volcano observatories are the first and most important stop as they are the primary and most authoritative source of eruption data. Additional sources include the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers (VAACs), meteorological agencies, civil protection and emergency management agencies, local governments, official blogs, social media platforms, and news agencies. I draw upon all the resources I can find to write the most comprehensive and accurate summary possible within the time constraints, as eruptions and communication about them are handled differently around the world. I check and cross-check information and draw upon my years of experience in volcanology and knowledge of the volcanoes on which I am reporting. I have a duty to not mis-interpret reports, to archive crucial observations, and to always present accurate volcanic activity information.
Aside from knowing where to get accurate information (a harder task than may be obvious), gathering and archiving the data, each week I have the monumental task of distilling down hundreds of pages of information into one or two dozen succinct summaries. One crucial skill in this process is to "translate" the translations as most of the source data is not in English and the online translators are far from perfect; I can say with a large amount of confidence that I am quite good at this. It is a skill that should not be underestimated. In an official report about San Cristobal how would you interpret, "INETER reports that monkeypox activity recorded during this weekend?" Some translations are just hysterical. "The main crater was obstructed by a cone of pyroclasts of proportions, that on the brink of madness surpassed in height the elevated top more of the volcano." Madness, I tell you.
The most notable changes in eruption reporting evolved with the prevalence of cell phone usage and their ability to produce quality video, the widespread use of social media, and more recently the increase in personal drone usage for taking photos and video. Social media is of course the vehicle for sharing observations and data for both official entities and the public. These advances help me to curate a more thorough and detailed picture of an eruptive event, though data tends to be scattered across many platforms and delivered in many languages.
While reflecting on the past 14 years of my experiences writing the WVAR and looking further back through Gari's reports, several eruptions stand out for a variety of reasons. Some eruptions were surprises (and large), with almost no precursory events. Some were at remote volcanoes, not officially part of any observatory's charge, so information was hard to find; my sleuthing abilities were tested as I had to not only find often fragmented information but then make sense of it all based on my volcanological training. Some stand out because they were deadly. As I put this list together I also thought about the many other volcanoes that I have included in a WVAR and that did not make this list of notables; those that have impacted residents and caused loss of life and property, those that have led to advances in the field of volcanology, and those that have just been fun to write about. Many volcanoes feel like old friends as I have examined and written about their activity for years. All of them continue to draw me into the world of volcanoes and volcanology. They show me how the people of the world are impacted by eruptions and that there is much work still to be done. They remind me of the brave and compassionate people who work hard to minimize loss of life and property from eruptions. I am grateful to be a part of the world of volcanoes.
Sally's Picks: Interesting or noteworthy events during the previous 20 years
KilaueaHawaiian Islands (USA)2000
NyiragongoDR Congo2002
Soufriere HillsMontserrat2003
LerobolengFlores Island (Indonesia)2003
AnatahanMariana Islands (USA)2003
St. HelensUnited States2004
KarthalaGrand Comore Island2005
Krummel-Garbuna-WelckerNew Britain (Papua New Guinea)2005
MerapiCentral Java (Indonesia)2006
Home ReefTonga Islands2006
Jebel at TairYemen2007
Nevado del HuilaColombia2007
KelutEastern Java (Indonesia)2007
Sarychev PeakMatua Island (Russia)2009
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apaiTonga Islands2009
Zubair GroupYemen2011
Puyehue-Cordon CaulleChile2011
SirungPantar Island (Indonesia)2012
TongariroNorth Island (New Zealand)2012
ZhupanovskyEastern Kamchatka (Russia)2013
MayonLuzon (Philippines)2013
FogoCape Verde2014
AhyiMariana Islands (USA)2014
OntakesanHonshu (Japan)2014
RabaulNew Britain (Papua New Guinea)2014
Tengger CalderaEastern Java (Indonesia)2015
BogoslofFox Islands (USA)2016
Dieng Volcanic ComplexCentral Java (Indonesia)2017
KambalnySouthern Kamchatka (Russia)2017
Kusatsu-ShiranesanHonshu (Japan)2018
KadovarPapua New Guinea2018
KarangetangSiau Island (Indonesia)2019
Whakaari/White IslandNorth Island (New Zealand)2019
TaalLuzon (Philippines)2020

Kilauea (2000)
Hawaiian Islands (USA)
Kilauea is an accessible volcano with a rich history of awe-inspiring eruptions spanning decades. The observatory was established in 1912, though descriptions of eruptions from native Hawaiians and early missionaries go back further. GVP coverage of activity extends back to 1968 during the first year of the Center for Short-Lived Phenomena. Kilauea was featured in the first Weekly Report in 2000, and has been covered nearly every week since then, until the spectacular and destructive end of the eruption in 2018. I participated in a short field school on Kilauea in 2003. This was first experience seeing active lava flows. I had been carrying a "frozen" burrito with me all day. By the evening it was thawed and mushy, so I laid it across a glowing crack to cook it - best burrito I ever ate!
Kilauea view from E of E Kupapa`u ocean entry at dusk on 10 July 2001. The bench was comparatively large, reaching out about 120 m from the sea cliff. Note the new black sand beach formed by deposition of glass created when lava enters the sea. Courtesy of HVO.

Lopevi (2001)
An eruption at Lopevi that began on 8 June at 1250 produced an ash cloud that rose at least 6 km a.s.l. and drifted to the WNW. The ash cloud was clearly visible in satellite imagery for many hours. More than 0.9 m of ash was deposited on the uninhabited island of Lopevi and several centimeters covered the neighboring island of Paama, contaminating water for the ~1,600 residents and destroying crops. The National Disaster Management Office project officer stated that hundreds of people on Paama suffered from throat, chest, and lung problems as a result of breathing ash and gas. Ashfall had almost ceased by 12 June, but strong trade winds continued to spread the ash.
The illustrated photograph of Lopevi was taken on 9 June 2001 and shows lava flows from 2000 and 2001. Courtesy of S. Wallez.

Nyiragongo (2002)
DR Congo
Nyiragongo is one of Africa's most notable volcanoes, it contained a lava lake in its deep summit crater that was active for half a century before draining catastrophically through its outer flanks in 1977. Another eruption in 2002 produced lava flows that covered much of the city of Goma and led to the self-evacuation of ~400,000 people.
Nyiragongo's January 2002 lavas slowly advancing across a road at an intersection. This area of Goma is called Signers rotary point. The sign advertises the Ishango Guest House. Note the lava-immersed but still-standing tree, which at this stage, may have only had substantial burns near the base of its trunk. Provided courtesy of Wafula.

Soufriere Hills (2003)
Soufriere Hills
A series of explosions and pyroclastic flows from collapses of parts of the Soufriere Hills lava dome during 12-13 July caused significant falls of ash and rock fragments over all of the inhabited parts of Montserrat. The ashfall deposit was 115 mm thick at Lime Kiln Bay. The ash burden resulted in the collapse of several wooden buildings in the Salem area. Vegetation damage was extensive with downed trees and branches broken from many others. Ashfall from this event was reported on the islands of Nevis, St Kitts, Anguilla, and St Maarten, and resulted in the closure of several airports. Several pyroclastic surges flowing down the Tar River Valley and 2 km over the ocean. This volcano was the subject of my Master's thesis.
Illustrated photo showing dome growth at Soufriere Hills between February 2002 and February 2003. Courtesy of Robert Benward, Volcano Watch International.

Leroboleng (2003)
Flores Island (Indonesia)
Two ash plumes observed in July 2003, prior eruptive history includes three small eruptions in the late 1800s. Information about these kinds of transient events is often hard to find at the time and not always discoverable years later. Gathering all of the available information as quickly as possible is a critical part in fulfilling GVP's mission of documenting, understanding, and disseminating information about global volcanic activity.
Google Earth screen capture of Leroboleng looking NNW.

Anatahan (2003)
Mariana Islands (USA)
On 10 May an eruption began at Anatahan, a volcanic island which has had no historically documented eruptions. Scientists on a small ship about 10 km away saw an ash plume that eventually rose to ~12 km a.s.l. The eruption occurred primarily from Anatahan's eastern crater.
Photograph taken on 10 May 2003 of an ash cloud produced from the eruption of Anatahan that began that day. The cloud top is at ~ 4.6 km and emanates from the eastern crater. The view is toward the SW. Courtesy of CNMI Emergency Management Office.

St. Helens (2004)
St. Helens
United States
Shortly before noon on 1 October, Mount St. Helens emitted a plume of steam and minor ash from an area of new crevasses that had opened in a portion of the crater glacier between the headwall of the 1980 crater and the lava dome. This marked the first eruption from Mount St. Helens since a series of phreatic explosions during 1989-1991; the 2004-2008 activity was characterized by rapid dome-building events seen in this time-lapse video.
An aerial photo looking downward and N-ward into the crater of Mt. St. Helens on 27 October 2004. Courtesy of CVO.

Grimsvotn (2004)
An eruption on 1 November was preceded by both long-term and short-term precursors and was triggered by the release of overburden pressure associated with a glacial outburst flood (jokulhlaup), originating from the Grímsvötn subglacial caldera lake. The amount of drop in water level in the Grímsvötn caldera at the onset of the eruption is uncertain, but was probably on the order of 10-20 m. An ash plume rose ~12.2 km a.s.l. On 3 November, eruptive activity occurred in pulses, resulting in a changing eruption column height from 8-9 km to 13-14 km above the volcano. The ash fall sector extended at least 150 km from the eruption site. The distal ash plume was observed in Norway, Finland, and Sweden.
Close-up aerial view of the Grímsvötn eruption, taken from the S between 1530 and 1615 on 2 November 2004. Courtesy of the Icelandic Meteorological Office; photo credit, Matthew J. Roberts.

Fernandina (2005)
Fernandina, the most active of Galápagos volcanoes and the one closest to the Galápagos mantle plume, is a basaltic shield volcano with a deep 5 x 6.5 km summit caldera. Collapse of a nearly 1 cu km section of the east caldera wall during an eruption in 1988 produced a debris-avalanche deposit that covered much of the caldera floor and absorbed the caldera lake. Fissure eruptions were noted in 2005 and 2009. The satellite image and terrain quality of Galápagos volcanoes in Google Earth is spectacular and produces great virtual fly-throughs of the islands.
A 2002 International Space Station photograph of Fernandina. Image ISS05E06997 (Visible Earth v1 ID 18002)

Karthala (2005)
Grand Comore Island
There were reports of ash emissions and lava at the bottom of the crater in April. A phreatomagmatic eruption occurred in November, causing ashfall and the evacuation of 2,000 people. Preliminary assessments revealed that about 118,000 people living in 75 villages may have been affected by the contamination of domestic water tanks.
On 18 April 2005 the Karthala eruption generated a lava lake in the Chahalé crater. In this photo, taken the morning of 18 April, considerable portions of the lava lake's surface still remained molten and incandescent.. The lake's surface only remained molten for a few hours. This aerial photo was taken looking from the N. Courtesy of Hamid Soulé.

Krummel-Garbuna-Welcker (2005)
New Britain (Papua New Guinea)
The last eruption occurred in 150 CE. The first historically witnessed eruption began at Garbuna on the afternoon of 16 October when "white vapor" rose above the volcano and a couple of felt earthquakes occurred. On 17 October, an eruption column rose 3-4 km above the volcano's summit (or 11,700-15,000 ft a.s.l.). At 1100 fine ash fell on the W and NW sides of the volcano, covering two plantations. Water sources originating from Garbuna were affected by the eruption.
Photograph of Garbuna taken on 19 October 2005. Photo by Steve Saunders provided courtesy of RVO.

Dabbahu (2005)
The first historical eruption took place from a fissure vent on the NE flank in September 2005. A team of scientists visited the Da'Ure locality immediately adjacent to the NE flank of the Quaternary Dabbahu (or Boina) felsic complex on 4 and 5 October after receiving reports of volcanic activity there on 26 September. People in the area noted that on 26 September at about 1300 a very strong earthquake shook the area, and was followed by a dark column of "smoke" that rose high into the atmosphere and spread out to form a cloud, which darkened the area for 3 days and 3 nights. The scientists determined that a minor explosive eruption occurred from two semi-circular vents, producing ashfall that was ~5 cm thick near the vent. Ash deposits extended more than 500 m from the vent. Boulders emitted during the eruption were as large as 3 m and were deposited as far as 20 meters away. More than 6,000 people were evacuated from neighboring villages.
An aerial view of the fissure vent at Da'Ure (Dabbahu) taken around 4-5 October 2005.

Merapi (2006)
Central Java (Indonesia)
One of Indonesia's most active volcanoes and lies in one of the world's most densely populated areas. Merapi dominates the landscape immediately north of the major city of Yogyakarta, 30 km SSW. An eruption in 2006 caused two deaths and the evacuation of about 22,000 people; the eruption was dominated by ash emissions, vigorous dome growth and collapse, and pyroclastic flows that traveled as far as 7 km.
A Merapi pyroclastic flow in its early stages as seen at 08:50:53 on 10 June 2006. Photo credit to BPPTK; provided courtesy of CVGHM.

Home Reef (2006)
Home Reef
Tonga Islands
Pumice rafts are sometimes hard to trace back to their source but reports and pictures are always interesting. Large pumice rafts in the Fiji Islands were circulating during August-September. The source was initially thought to be Metis Shoal but due to some great sleuthing was later confirmed to be from Home Reef.
View of a large pumice raft after the passage of a sailing vessel near the Lau Group of islands, Fiji, on an unknown date in early to mid-September 2006. Courtesy of the Stormsvalen crew via the Encore II.

Jebel at Tair (2007)
Jebel at Tair
Before a fissure eruption at Jebel at Tair in 2007, explosive eruptions were reported in the 18th and 19th centuries. The 2007 was observed from several passing NATO ships on the evening of 30 September. Witnesses described a fissure eruption that produced lava fountains approximately 100 m high and ash plumes to a height of 300 m (1,000 ft) a.s.l. Multiple 1-km-long lava flows descended to the sea and a large landslide occurred on the W part of the island. Activity continued for at least two days.
Lava entering the ocean at Jebel at Tair, 2 October 2007. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Vincent J. Street.

Nevado del Huila (2007)
Nevado del Huila
The first historical eruption from this little-known volcano was an explosive eruption in the mid-16th century. Long-term, persistent steam columns had risen from Pico Central prior to the next eruption in 2007, when explosive activity was accompanied by damaging mudflows. An eruption on 20 November 2008 destroyed part of a new lava dome that had formed during the previous months. Two gas-and-ash plumes rose to altitudes of 12.4-15.4 km (40,700-50,500 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W and SE. Hot material melted areas of the surrounding glacier and caused lahars that damaged infrastructure and destroyed homes; there may have been as many as 10 fatalities and 10 others were missing, and several populations were left without means of communication.
A series of aerial photos of Nevado del Huila taken from multiple angles and distances on 20 February 2007. Courtesy of the Colombian Air Force and INGEOMINAS.

Kelut (2007)
Eastern Java (Indonesia)
Kelut has a significant history of deadly eruptions. After more than 5,000 people were killed during an eruption in 1919, an ambitious engineering project sought to drain the crater lake. This initial effort lowered the lake by more than 50 m, but the 1951 eruption deepened the crater by 70 m, leaving 50 million cubic meters of water after repair of the damaged drainage tunnels. After more than 200 deaths in the 1966 eruption, a new deeper tunnel was constructed, and the lake's volume before the 1990 eruption was only about 1 million cubic meters. Amazingly, the eruption of a lava dome in 2007 was quite passive and visually fascinating.
Kelut's dome seen in low-light conditions on 29 or 30 November 2007. Copyrighted photo by Tom Pfeiffer (Volcano Discovery).

Chaiten (2008)
The first historical eruption of Chaitén volcano beginning in 2008 produced major rhyolitic explosive activity and growth of a lava dome that filled much of the caldera. The eruption was initially thought to have been from Minchinmávida. Chaitén began erupting on 2 May, following increased seismicity in the region just the day before. A pulsating white to gray ash plume rose to an estimated altitude greater than 21 km (68,900 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SSE. Residents evacuated Chaitén town (10 km SW); lahars and ashfall rendered the town uninhabitable. On 6 May the eruption became more forceful and generated a wider and darker gray ash plume to an estimated altitude of 30 km (98,400 ft) a.s.l. All remaining people in Chaitén were ordered to evacuate, as well as anyone within 50 km of the volcano.
Chaitén seen from a helicopter on 26 May with the camera aimed NE. A tephra cone stood atop the new and old dome complex. The cone's steep upper walls discharged a broad plume from an unusually ample summit crater. The plume was two-toned, with distinctively shaded material on its left and right sides. Lumpy areas on the middle to lower cone correspond to the obsidian on the now buried older dome. Some burned vegetation exists in the bottom center of the photo along the outflowing Blanco river. Photo by J.N. Marso (USGS).

Llaima (2008)
Llaima, one of Chile's largest and most active volcanoes, contains two main historically active craters, one at the summit and the other, Pichillaima, to the SE. An eruption began on the first of the year in 2008 and during January-February was characterized by Strombolian activity, fissure activity, a lava lake, lava flows, lahars, and tall ash plumes.
Llaima as seen in eruption on 1 January 2008. Photo taken from W of the volcano between Temuco and Vilcun, Chile. Photo by Antonio Vergara via the flikr website (Creative Commons license).

Sarychev Peak (2009)
Sarychev Peak
Matua Island (Russia)
Eruptions have been recorded since the 1760's and include both quiet lava effusion and violent explosions. One of the largest historical eruptions of Sarychev Peak in 1946 produced pyroclastic flows that reached the sea. A short but incredible series of images of the 2009 eruption was captured by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
The field crew on a beach to inspect Sarychev Peak's recent pyroclastic flows. By the time of their 26-28 June visit, waves had eroded the fresh deposits that must have once covered this beach face. Massive, jointed rocks in the cliff backing the beach are older rocks; new deposits drape the upper cliff. Note steaming peak in the background. SVERT volcanologists (from left): Dmitrii Kozlov, Igor Koroteev, Artyom Degterev, Rafael Zharkov (far right), and Alexander Rybin (front right). Courtesy of SVERT.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai (2009)
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai
Tonga Islands
The 2009 and 2014-2015 eruptions were interesting to write about because of the multitude of non-traditional observations we received, like from passers-by on boats, folks in private planes, and local photographers. And, ultimately, a new island was built.
Photograph of a steam-and-ash plume rising from Hunga Ha'apai Island and a submarine vent to the S erupting black tephra. Photo from unknown photographer on the Sloban boat provided by Dana Stephenson/Getty Images on

Eyjafjallajokull (2010)
Although the 1,666-m-high volcano has erupted during historical time, it has been less active than other volcanoes of Iceland's eastern volcanic zone. The eruption began in March 2010 from a flank fissure, but it was the summit eruption in April that brought recent world-wide attention to how ash plumes impact air travel and safety. Although the eruption was not large, it caused major travel disruptions across Europe, significant monetary loss, and spurred more research into the finer details of aircraft and ash-plume encounters.
An Aqua-MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) satellite image of Eyjafjallajökull taken on 17 April 2010. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory: image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team; caption by Holli Riebeek.

Sinabung (2010)
The initial phreatic eruption on 27 August heralding the first historic eruption. By 30 August there had been 20,000-30,000 residents evacuated. The next months were characterized by fluctuating but overall increasing levels of activity, and cycles of residents being evacuated and returning to their homes. On 25 November BNPB reported that 17,713 people, out of the 20,270 residents living within 5 km, had been evacuated to 31 shelters. At 1030 on 1 February a large dome collapse generated pyroclastic flows that traveled 4.5 km S, killing 17 people that had entered the 5-km exclusion zone without permission. BNPB lists the victims’ names and their ages; I was saddened to see so many young people among the deceased. On 4 February the number of displaced people reached 31,739 (9,915 families) in 42 evacuation centers, many from outside of the exclusion zone. Activity continued through mid-2018. An eruption period was recorded in mid-2019, and activity again returned in 2020.
A woman carrying her daughter in an agricultural plot near Sinabung as an ash plume rose and pyroclastic flows descended the flanks on 4 January 2014. Photo by Ifansasti (2014).

Zubair Group (2011)
Zubair Group
Fishermen from the port city of Salif on the western Red Sea coast of Yemen reported an offshore eruption from the island of Jebel Zubair, about 60 km SW, with lava fountains rising 20-30 m above the summit on 19 December. On 19 December a SO2 cloud was detected in an OMI satellite image. MODIS imagery from 20 December shows a plume rising from a submarine eruption about 1.5 km SW of Haycock and N of Rugged (near the N end of the Az-Zubair island group), and about 12 km NE of Jebel Zubair island. A bathymetric sketch map made in 1973 indicates a water depth of about 100 m in that area. Two new islands were built.
NASA Earth Observatory images captured by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite on (a) 24 October 2007 and (b) 23 December 2011. Courtesy of Jesse Allen and Michon Scott, NASA Earth Observatory.

Hierro (2011)
The triangular island of Hierro is the SW-most and least studied of the Canary Islands, though contains the greatest concentration of young vents. A submarine eruption in 2011 represented the first documented historical activity. A helicopter observed steaming lava fragments floating over the emission area, S of La Restinga village.
A natural-color satellite image collected on 10 February 2012 showed the site of the Hierro submarine vent eruption, offshore from the fishing village of La Restinga. NASA Earth Observatory image prepared by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using EO-1 ALI data.

Nabro (2011)
An eruption plume from this remote volcano initially rose to altitudes of 9.1-13.7 km (30,000-45,000 ft) a.s.l. on 13 June, then was later detected at altitudes of 6.1-10.7 km (20,000-35,000 ft) a.s.l. during 13-14 June. Ashfall covered hundreds of kilometers and the government evacuated area residents. A lava flow traveled WNW.
A false-color image of Nabro, acquired by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite on 24 June 2011, highlighted hot areas throughout the lava flow and flow front, as well as above the vent in the center of the caldera. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Puyehue-Cordon Caulle (2011)
Puyehue-Cordon Caulle
Significantly increased seismicity over a period of a few days led to the evacuation of 700 residents on 4 June. Later that day, an explosion produced a 5-km-wide ash-and-gas plume that rose to altitudes of 10.7-13.7 km (35,000-45,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 870 km ESE. The next day an ash plume continued to rise to altitudes of 10.7-12.2 km (35,000-40,000 ft) a.s.l. and had drifted as far as 1,778 km ESE, over the coast of Argentina, and out into the Atlantic Ocean, disrupting flights. During 4-5 June ashfall several centimeters thick was reported 100 km SE in Argentina. At least five pyroclastic flows, possibly as long as 10 km, were generated from partial collapses of the eruptive column and traveled N in the Nilahue River drainage. Pumice and vitreous tephra had accumulated in many area lakes and rivers, and ash had turned many rivers darker. Poor visibility and flight disruptions continued on 10 June. On 13 June the eruptive vent diameter was 300-400 m. Gas-and-steam plumes rose from two or three locations along the same fissure as the eruptive vent. Ashfall and column collapses were visible. At night incandescence from the base of the plume reached 1.5-2 km high. By 17 June ash plumes had circumnavigated the globe. Flights in South Africa were disrupted during 18-19 June. A 50-m-wide lava flow from the emissions center had traveled 200 m NW and 100 m NE, filling up a depression by 20 June.
Puyehue-Cordón Caulle's eruption seen in a long-exposure photo taken during 4-6 June 2011. Courtesy of Daniel Basualto, European Pressphoto Agency.

Sirung (2012)
Pantar Island (Indonesia)
On 8 May a three-hour long ash eruption from Sirung was accompanied by loud sounds and incandescence that reached 10 m above the crater. An ash plume rose 3.5 km above the crater and drifted N, producing ashfall up to 4 mm thick near the crater.
Google Earth screen capture of Sirung looking SW.

Tongariro (2012)
North Island (New Zealand)
A short-lived (~1-2 minutes) phreatic eruption occurred at the Te Mari craters area, followed by a series of discrete small earthquakes over the next few tens of minutes. An ash plume drifted E and ashfall was reported in areas around the volcano. Blocks of old and hydrothermally altered lava, as large as 1 m in diameter, ejected by the eruption fell 1.5-2 km from the Te Mari craters area. The last eruption occurred in 1896.
Photographs taken after Tongariro's 6 August 2012 phreatic eruption showing the Upper Te Maari vent area. Courtesy of GeoNet.

Zhupanovsky (2013)
Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)
The last major eruption took place about 800-900 years BP. Historical eruptions have consisted of relatively minor explosions from the third cone. On 24 October a phreatic eruption began at about 0300 and generated an ash plume that rose 5 km (16,400 ft) a.s.l. The ash plume was visible in satellite images drifting 40 km SE and S. Ash deposits about 10 cm thick were visible at the summit of the central part of the volcano, and deposits about 1 mm thick covered the Nalychevo Valley. This was the first eruption since the 1950’s.
A picture of Zhupanovsky taken on 26 October 2013. Captured by S. Samoilenko, Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Far Eastern Branch (IVS FEB RAS).

Mayon (2013)
Luzon (Philippines)
In May a phreatic eruption ejected large "room-sized rocks" towards about 30 climbers, killing five and injuring eight. The volcano had been quiet for more than a year. This event highlights the danger of entering an exclusion zone, even during non-eruptive periods, in this case one that encompasses a 6-km-radius.
Photo taken at 0800 on 7 May 2013 of a phreatic eruption at Mayon. Dense billowy plume is largely white with areas of brown to gray. News reports said eruptions like this were, according to PHIVOLCS, a regular occurrence. PHIVOLCS reported this plume as 500 m tall. According to news reports, rocks discharged by this eruption at 0800 killed five climbers and injured at least seven others in a region close to the summit and well within an exclusionary zone. Courtesy of PHIVOLCS.

Fogo (2014)
Cape Verde
I was introduced to this volcano when it began erupting again in 2004 from Pico Cone. Lava, sometimes flowing at a rate of 30 meters per hour, overtook structures and caused the almost 1,500 residents of the caldera to evacuate. By 8 December about 90% of Bangaeira and 95% of Portela were overtaken by the flows which, and as noted by the article, destroyed 100 years of town history.
The photo is undated but was posted online on 2 December 2014. Courtesy of Photo credit (all photos) to Joao Relvas/EPA.

Bardarbunga (2014)
GPS stations showed movement upward and away from the volcano since early June 2014. Earthquakes increased on 16 August. By 18 August there had been 2,600 earthquakes detected at the volcano; earthquake locations from N and E swarms had been migrating NE, but in the evening activity of the N swarm had decreased significantly. GPS and seismic data indicated that an intrusive dike had increased from 25 to 40 km in length E, NE, and N of the volcano during the next week. On 29 August a small fissure eruption started in Holuhraun along an old fissure about 600 m in length. A fissure eruption ensued, bringing in spectators from all over the world and producing remarkable photographs and video. A local chef had cooked a fancy dinner on the lava flow for a lucky couple.
Aerial view Bardarbunga fissure eruptions taken on 4 September 2014. The fissure venting these eruptions is in Holuhraun lava field. Courtesy of Peter Hartree (

Ahyi (2014)
Mariana Islands (USA)
Seismic stations on Pagan, Sarigan, Anatahan, and Saipan began recording signals starting at 0635 on 24 April believed to be from an undersea volcanic source. While conducting coral reef research at Farallon de Pajaros, NOAA divers reported hearing loud explosions and feeling the shock waves. One of the more powerful explosions was felt by the crew as it reverberated through the hull of the ship.
Three-dimensional image of the summit of Ahyi submarine volcano gathered on 4 December 2014 with the mid-water data shown above the new crater created by the April 2014 eruption. Image courtesy of Submarine Ring of Fire 2014 - Ironman, NSF/NOAA.

Ontakesan (2014)
Honshu (Japan)
An unexpected phreatic eruption that killed 47 tourists and injured almost 70 more again was a poignant reminder of the power and unpredictability of a natural system. The eruption produced a pyroclastic flow that traveled more than 3 km down the S flank. Some fleeing tourists recorded the pyroclastic flow descended upon them as they ran, giving viewers an insight into this deadly hazard and the terrifying event.
Four photos of the Ontakesan 2014 eruption captured by the Chubu Regional Development Bureau's camera at Takigoshi on 27 September.

Rabaul (2014)
New Britain (Papua New Guinea)
The most dramatic event at this volcano during the past several years occurred when a Strombolian explosion on 29 August sent an ash plume to ~18 km altitude. One of my favorite videos showing a shock wave is from an explosion at Rabaul on that same day.
Incandescent lava exploding from Tavurvur (Rabaul Caldera) on 29 August 2014. Courtesy of Emma Edwards, reported at

Momotombo (2015)
The first eruption at Momotombo after around 100 years began in December with an explosion and a gas-and-ash plume. Explosions ejected incandescent tephra and a slow-moving lava flow traveled on the N flank. Ashfall was reported in nearby communities to the W and SW. Fieldwork revealed a small, incandescent, circular crater halfway up Momotombo's E flank that was fuming during the morning on 6 December. An explosion on 7 December destroyed part of the crater.
Eruption at Momotombo. Photo courtesy of Jorge Mejía Peralta.

Tengger Caldera (2015)
Tengger Caldera
Eastern Java (Indonesia)
Nothing exceptional occurred in 2015, except that activity resumed at Bromo, the youngest cone, after almost a year of low-to-no activity. This volcano is included in the list because it is a popular tourist area and the many breath-taking tourist photos posted online are worth browsing through (which I have spent hours doing).
Photo of a man watching an ash plume rising from the Bromo cone in Tengger Caldera on 5 January 2016. Courtesy of Reuters/Darren Whiteside.

Calbuco (2015)
An eruption began on 22 April, the first since 1972, prompting a declaration of a 20-km exclusion zone. The eruption was preceded by an hour-long period of volcano-tectonic events followed by long-period events. After a large seismic event, a 90-minute eruption generated a sub-Plinian, gray ash plume that rose 15 km above the main crater and drifted mainly ENE, although fine ash drifted N and NW. Column collapses occurred locally and radially. A larger second event on 23 April lasted six hours, and also generated a sub-Plinian ash plume that rose higher than 15 km and drifted N, NE, and E. Incandescent tephra was ejected as far as 5 km; deposits were concentrated to the N and NE, with thicknesses varying from tens of centimeters to a few millimeters. Pyroclastic flows traveled a maximum distance of 7 km and lahars traveled 15 km. Scientists aboard an overflight observed ash emissions from at least six vents on the W, SW, and S sides of the old lava dome. About 5,000 people had been evacuated. Sulfur dioxide was detected as high as 21 km altitude. Although most ash had fallen out of the plume over Chile and Argentina, some may have remained in the stratospheric plume that within a few days had traveled around the globe. The large plume and favorable weather conditions led to breath-taking photographs of the eruption, especially of lightning strikes within the ash cloud.
Photograph of the Calbuco explosion on 22 April 2015, taken from Puerto Montt, about 30 km SW of the volcano. Photo by Keraunos ob, posted on the Earth of Fire blog by Bernard Duyck.

Bogoslof (2016)
Fox Islands (USA)
A powerful, short-lived explosion in December heralded a new eruption and sent ash to over 10.3 km altitude. The eruption would last until the July 2017, and in the meantime produce many eruption plumes as high as 11.6 km a.s.l. and drastically change the shape of the island.
Bogoslof's eruption plume was captured on 20 December shortly after 1530 AKST from an aircraft at 36,000 feet (10.9 km). Photo by Paul Tuvman, courtesy of AVO.

Dieng Volcanic Complex (2017)
Dieng Volcanic Complex
Central Java (Indonesia)
A phreatic eruption at the Sileri Crater lake occurred in July, ejecting mud and material 150 m high, and 50 m to the N and S. The event injured 11 of 18 tourists that were near the crater. A helicopter on the way to help evacuated people after the event crashed, killing all eight people (four crewmen and four rescuers) on board.
A plume rises above Kawah Sileri crater in the Dieng volcanic complex, one of many Dieng craters to have erupted in historical time. Anonymous, 1985.

Kambalny (2017)
Southern Kamchatka (Russia)
The onset of the first eruption in almost 700 years was witnessed by staff at the Kronotsky State Nature Reserve. Satellite data showed an ash plume drifting 35 km SW at altitudes of 5-6 km a.s.l. The eruption intensified later that day, with ash plumes rising as high as 7 km a.s.l. and drifting as far as 255 km SSW. This is an eruption from a remote volcano that may not have made it into the record without witnesses or before the age of satellite observations.
Eruption of Kambalny on 25 March 2017. Photo by Liana Varavskaya, South Kamchatka Federal Wildlife Sanctuary.

Ambae (2017)
Lava was first observed on 22 September emerging from a vent at the summit of the pyroclastic cone. Ash plumes and fountaining lava persisted for a few weeks as the pyroclastic cone increased in size. Activity became more intermittent by mid-October, but explosions still produced ash plumes; the highest was reported at 9.1 km altitude. By 4 October about 11,600 people had been evacuated but they began returning home later that month.
Aerial view of the cone that formed in Lake Voui during September 2017 in the summit caldera of Ambae. Photo taken on 1 October 2017. Courtesy of VMGB.

Kusatsu-Shiranesan (2018)
Honshu (Japan)
In January an eruption began coincident with the onset of volcanic tremor; there were no indications of an impending eruption. Skiers at the popular Kusatsu Kokusai resort took incredible video showing a plume of tephra and ejected bombs rising over the hillside. Tephra hit a gondola, shattering glass and injuring four skiers. Material crashed through the roof of a lodge, where about 100 people had already been evacuated. Ground Self-Defense Force troops were engaging in ski training at the time of the event; one member died, and seven others were injured. All previous historical activity had been from Yagama Crater on Shiranesan. I used Google Earth and the video taken by skiers to identify the vent, which was on the Motoshiranesan edifice, about 2 km SSE of Yagama Crater, to get the most accurate information into the WVAR.
Tephra from Mount Kusatsu-Shiranesan covers the N flank of the Motoshiranesan cone and much of the Ainomine cone in this view to the W taken on 23 January 2018. Photo by Suo Takeuma, AP, courtesy of CNN.

Fuego (2018)
Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows. The current eruption began in 2002. On 3 June 2018 a large explosive eruption generated an ash plume that rose to 9 km (30,000 ft) a.s.l. Pyroclastic flows traveled at least 8 km and reached temperatures of 700 degrees Celsius. Tephra and lapilli fell in areas more than 25 km away. Eyewitness accounts described the fast-moving pyroclastic flows inundating fields people were working in, overtaking bridges, and burying homes up to their roof lines in some areas. San Miguel Los Lotes, Alotenango, and El Rodeo (10 km SSE) were the worst affected. As of 22 August, the number of people confirmed to have died due to the pyroclastic flows was 169, and 256 remained missing. As I was searching for information about what was happening I came across videos taken by residents showing the seemingly silent and terrifying pyroclastic flows descending valleys and expanding in all directions. Videos also showed stunned and anguished residents covered with tephra as well as some that had perished. It was raw and deeply affected me. These folks have lived with products of Fuego’s activity for a long time; what happened that day? For weeks I grappled with the very existence of the videos, specifically why I could see almost in real time the pain and devastation residents were themselves trying to understand. The video is helpful for event reconstruction and documentation, but also unfiltered and graphic; I watched but should have been uninvited, and I too felt and still feel loss.
The pyroclastic flows at Fuego on 3 June 2018 descended multiple ravines and damaged or destroyed a number of roadways and bridges. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty, courtesy of The Express.

Krakatau (2018)
The partial collapse of the cone and resulting destructive tsunami, Surtseyan activity, and ash plumes with lightning in December 2018 is not covered in the WVAR, as I was under strict orders to not work as part of a government-wide shut down. It was frustrating to follow the unfolding story on my own and not collect the large amounts of reports and observations being shared widely; information from significant events like this can be buried and repeatedly overprinted by more information. Sometimes it is better to wait until it all sorts itself out and authorities have the chance to breath, curate the data, and write a more accurate account of events. Either way, the estimated removed volume above sea level was 150-180 million m3. The summit of the pre-collapse cone was 338 m, while the highest point post-collapse was reduced to 110 m. While the event was fascinating, scary videos of the tsunami emerged, and are reminders that volcanoes can change many lives in an instant.
Aerial images of the Anak Krakatau, December 23, 2018. Photo courtesy of Tempo/Syaiful Hadi.

Kadovar (2018)
Papua New Guinea
The entire population of the island (about 500 people) was evacuated by boats and numerous canoes to Blup Blup (15 km N) just after eruption plumes started rising from a vent on the SE side on 5 January. The next day observers 24 km away noted ash emissions rising from Kadovar and they experienced ashfall. As they were later circling near the island a large event ejected large boulders into the ocean. Within weeks, multiple vents opened, and a lava dome emerged at the SE coast. A lava dome also formed at the summit vent and remains active.
A large explosion at Kadovar witnessed on 6 January 2018. Courtesy of Brandon Buser.

Karangetang (2019)
Siau Island (Indonesia)
In early February an ’a’a lava from Kawah Dua (North Crater) had traveled 2.5 km NNW down the Melebuhe River drainage, prompting the evacuation of eight families (about 21 people). Drone footage showed that the flow was about 160 m wide where it crossed a main road (about 210 m from the coast) and about 140 m wide at the coast.
The lava flow entering the ocean at Karangetang in early February 2019. Courtesy of BNPB.

Whakaari/White Island (2019)
Whakaari/White Island
North Island (New Zealand)
A deadly and short-lived (1-2 minutes) eruption on 9 December originated from the crater floor and generated an ash plume that rose 3.7 km (12,000 ft) above the vent. A tour group were on the island at the time of the eruption causing fatalities and victims with severe burns; survivors faced a long recovery, and some would later die. By early February 2020 the death toll was 21. Video of the event emerged, taken by a tourist on a boat who had just left the island and realized that another group was likely there. The event shed light on volcano tourism and the unpredictability of volcanic eruptions once again.
The beginning of the Whakaari/White Island 9 December 2019 eruption viewed from a boat that left the island about 20-30 minutes prior. Copyright of Michael Schade, used with permission.

Taal (2020)
Luzon (Philippines)
A phreatic eruption from a dike intrusion began on 12 January. Activity escalated and a total evacuation of the island and high-risk areas within a 14-km radius began. The eruption plume of steam, gas, and tephra significantly intensified and rose 10-15 km (32,800-49,200 ft) a.s.l., producing frequent lightning. Lava fountaining began the next day; fountains were 500-800 m tall. Ground cracking was observed in areas mainly to the SW. There were a total of 148,987 people in 493 evacuation centers on 21 January; the landscape was eerily gray with tephra deposits which devastated the local residences. In the days following the start of the eruption a fascinating video emerged possibly showing the very start of the eruption.
Ash plumes from Taal in the initial days of the January 2020 eruption. Courtesy of Eloisa Lopez/Reuters, Kester Ragaza/Pacific Press/Shutterstock, Ted Aljibe/AFP via Getty Images, via The Guardian.
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