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Momotombo
  Cite Volcano Profile
Nicaragua
México and Central America
Stratovolcano
2016 CE
Country
Volcanic Region
Primary Volcano Type
Last Known Eruption
12.423°N
86.539°W
1270 m
4167 ft
344090
Latitude
Longitude
Summit
Elevation
Volcano
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Oxidized, reddish-colored rocks form much of the summit cone of Momotombo volcano, seen here from the NW towering more than a kilometer above one of several small ponds on the floor of Monte Galán caldera. The 4-km-wide caldera was the source of a major ignimbrite about 50,000 years ago.

Photo by Jaime Incer.

Momotombo is a young, 1297-m-high stratovolcano that rises prominently above the NW shore of Lake Managua, forming one of Nicaragua's most familiar landmarks. Seen here from the SW, Momotombo began growing about 4500 years ago and consists of a somma from an older edifice that is surmounted by a younger cone with a 150 x 250 m crater. Young lava flows from Momotombo have flowed down the NW flank into an unnamed, 4-km-wide caldera. Momotombo has a long record of strombolian eruptions, with occasional larger explosive activity.

Photo by Jaime Incer.

Momotombo volcano, seen here from the east, is a prominent youthful stratovolcano constructed along the shores of Lake Managua. The peninsula in the foreground is Punta del Diablo, and the light-colored area at the left is the site of the Momotombo geothermal plant. The young volcano is only 4500 years old and has a long record of strombolian eruptions, with occasional larger explosive activity. In the distance are the conical peak of Cerro Asososca and the broad summit of Las Pilas volcano.

Photo by Jaime Incer, 1983.

The 1905 lava flow originated from the breached summit crater and traveled down levees on the upper part of the cone before spreading laterally into forests at the NE base of Momotombo. A minor explosive eruption accompanied the lava flow, the latest of many flows that reached the base of the volcano.

Photo by Jaime Incer, 1981.

During the latest eruption of Momotombo volcano, in 1905, a large lava flow issued from the breached NE side of the summit crater and traveled 4.5 km onto the lower flanks. The brief, 5-day-long eruption began on January 16 and was accompanied by minor explosive activity. Several prominent "kipukas," (islands of older terrain) are visible in this view from the north with Lake Managua in the background.

Photo by Jaime Incer, 1981.

Successive lobes of the 1905 lava flow from Momotombo volcano in Nicaragua spread out on the flat slopes below the volcano, forming a broad terminus. This photo shows how lava flow direction is controlled by the topography, with individual lobes diverted around slightly higher areas of the pre-eruption surface, surrounding these prominent forested "islands" of older rock, known as kipukas.

Photo by Jaime Incer, 1982.

Hydrothermally altered ground in the foreground is part of 2 sq km geothermal field on the southern flank of Momotombo volcano. The Patricio Arguello Ryan geothermal plant at one point produced 25% of the electrical power of Nicaragua. Summit crater fumarolic activity increased following development of the geothermal field.

Photo by Jaime Incer.

The summit crater of Momotombo is covered with areas of extensive hydrothermal alteration, including this area of sulfur deposition. Temperatures of 465-780° C were measured in summit crater fumaroles at the time of this visit in June 1980. Intense fumarolic activity occurs at the summit crater. The summit crater fumaroles remained very hot in late 1980 with temperatures measured up to 735°C and reported to > 900°C. Portions of the crater were seen to glow red and orange when observed at night.

Photo by Mike Carr, 1980 (Rutgers University).

Light-colored fumarolic sublimates drape the 1297-m-high summit of Momotombo volcano, which displays strong fumarolic activity. Fumarolic temperatures (850 degrees C) and seismicity at the volcano increased following construction of the Momotombo geothermal plant.

Photo by Jaime Incer.

The Momotombo geothermal area, located near the shores of Lake Managua at the southern foot of the volcano, was identified and studied starting in the late 1960s. The first four wells were drilled in the early 1970s, culminating with the installation of a 35 MWe unit in 1983. Six years later, a second unit of 35 MWe went on line. After a period of declining output in the 1980s and 1990s due to overexploitation and lack of reinjection, the power output at Momotombo was restored to about 35 MWe by 2002.

Photo by Pat Dobson, 1996 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory).

Momotombo volcano, seen here from the west near Puerto Momotombo, towers about 1250 m above Lake Managua. The volcano was constructed beginning about 4500 years ago SE of Monte Galán caldera, which lies out of view to the left. Geothermal exploration has occurred on its southern flank (the light-colored area at the right).

Photo by Pat Dobson, 1998 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory).

Dramatic levees flank the 1905 lava flow, which originated from the breached summit crater of Momotombo. The flow was confined in levees on the upper 1000 m of the cone before spreading laterally at the base of the volcano. Momotombo volcano towers to 1297 m above Lake Managua. The young cone forming the summit largely fills and overtops a 1.1 x 1.5 km wide crater produced during a major eruption about 2700-2800 years ago.

Photo by Jaime Incer, 1991.

Fumaroles in the summit crater of Momotombo volcano emit vigorous vapor plumes. The 150 x 250 m wide crater of Momotombo is narrowly breached to the NE, where a lava flow emerged during the 1905 eruption. The geothermal field on the southern flank of Momotombo can be seen at the lower left along the shores of Lake Managua.

Photo by Jaime Incer, 1991.

Isla Momotombito is a small 391-m-high island located immediately SE of Momotombo about 4 km off the coastline of Lake Managua. Punta Santa Ana, the peninsula in the foreground, consists of a young pyroclastic cone on the WSW side of the uninhabited, rattlesnake-infested island. Numerous archaeological sites have been found on the island.

Photo by Jaime Incer, 1993.

Two conical peaks of differing age rise to the east above the floor of the Nicaraguan depression. Cerro Asososca (left), part of Las Pilas volcanic complex, was constructed along a fissure extending south from Las Pilas. Erosional gullies cut the flanks of the 818-m-high cone. In the distance to the right is the younger Momotombo volcano, frequently active during historical time.

Photo by Jaime Incer, 1996.

An aerial view to the NW looks down the spine of the Marrabios Range, which rises above the floor of the Nicaraguan depression. In the foreground is Momotombo volcano, which rises to 1297 m above the shores of Lake Managua (left). Monte Galán caldera lies beyond the right-hand flanks of Momotombo. Stretching across much of the photo beyond Momotombo is the N-S-trending Las Pilas complex, and the conical peak in the far distance is San Cristóbal volcano.

Photo by Jaime Incer, 1997.

Laguna de Asososca in the foreground is a maar that was constructed along a fissure extending south from Las Pilas volcano. The maar is elongated N-S in the direction of the fissure system and is about 2 km long in that direction. Prevailing winds to the west constructed a higher rim on that side, the vantage point of this photo. The cloud-capped conical peak in the distance is Momotombo, and the much lower peak to its right is Momotombito, which forms an island in Lake Managua.

Photo by Jaime Incer.

Momotombo volcano towers above the floor of the Nicaraguan depression. Following its birth about 4500 years ago, a catastrophic eruption of Old Momotombo volcano about 2700-2800 years ago produced large amounts of tephra and pyroclastic flows. As a result of this eruption a 1.5 x 1.1 km wide crater was formed at the summit. Subsequent eruptions beginning about 800-900 years ago created the Young Momotombo volcano, which filled much of this crater and forms the present summit.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).

The buildings seen in the center of the photo along the shore of Lake Managua are part of the Patricio Arguello Ryan geothermal plant on the lower southern flank of Momotombo volcano. At one point the power plant produced 25% of electrical power generation for the country. In the distance on the left horizon is Cerro Montoso, a peak on the rim of Monte Galán caldera.

Photo by Paul Kimberly, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).

Conical Momotombo volcano rises above the shores of Lake Managua, its waters dirtied by floods associated with hurricane Mitch in 1998. Momotombo rises about 1250 m above the surface of the lake, which is only about 40 m above sea level. The dramatic volcano is one of Nicaragua's most prominent landmarks and is featured on many of the country's postage stamps.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).

Fresh-looking, dark-colored lava flows from the 1905 eruption of Momotombo volcano are prominent in this NASA International Space Station image with north to the top. The NW-most flow cascaded into Monte Galán caldera, with the greenish Laguna Monte Galán near its southern rim. Laguna Las Piedras lies near the center of the caldera, near the toe of the NW lava flow. The light-colored developed area south of the summit along the shore of Lake Managua is the Momotombo geothermal field.

NASA International Space Station image ISS005-E-16247, 2002 (http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/).

Momotombo rises above the NW shore of Lake Managua and is in the center of this December 2019 Planet Labs satellite image monthly mosaic (N is at the top; this image is approximately 22 km across). Gas emissions emanating from the summit crater are dispersing to the SW. Lava has flowed into Monte Galán caldera on the NW flank towards Cerro Motoso, a cone on the NW caldera rim. The island to the SE is Volcán Momotombito and is part of the Momotombo complex. Lava flows in 2015 were emplaced down the NE flank on top of 1905 flows.

Satellite image courtesy of Planet Labs, 2019.
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