Guatemala: the eruptive phase of the Pacaya volcano resumes

The National Institute of Volcanology (Insivumeh) reactivated Thursday the monitoring of the Pacaya volcano which spat a new lava flow on its sides, less than a week after declaring “finished” the last eruptive phase.

“It is not excluded that high explosive episodes are generated in the hours or days to come,” said Emilio Barillas, head of Insivumeh.

Insivumeh announced on April 23 the end of the period of strong eruptive activity of the 2,552-meter-high volcano, located about 25 km south of Guatemala City. This phase began on February 5.

But less than a week later, “the seismic monitoring parameters indicated a shift from explosive activity to predominantly effusive activity, which resulted in the generation of a new lava flow on the northern flank of the volcanic edifice, ”explained David de Leon, spokesperson for civil protection.

Mr. De Leon said that the lava flow, about 200 meters, from a new crack in the walls of the volcano causes “sounds similar to those of a locomotive, continuous degassing and some weak explosions that generate ashes”.

Images provided by the military show the new volcanic flow slowly advancing over solidified lava from previous eruptions. Some of them had approached 400 meters from the houses.

At the end of March, gusts of wind had caused a rain of ash to the north of the volcano, including on the capital, causing the closure for a day of the only international airport in the country.

Lava flows on the flanks of the Pacaya volcano, in Guatemala, March 25, 2021 (AFP / Archives – Johan ORDONEZ)

The Pacaya volcano experienced a major eruption on May 27, 2010 which caused the death of a journalist who came to cover the event.

In addition to this colossus, the Fuego (southwest) and Santiaguito (west) volcanoes are also active in Guatemala, which has about thirty volcanoes.

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