Volcanic Activity

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 1 March 2000



(2000), "Volcanic Activity", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 9 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/dpm.2000.07309aac.004



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Volcanic Activity

Volcanic Activity

4 February 1999 - Mexico

Mexico's giant Popocatepetl volcano rumbled and belched gases and ash early today, prompting authorities to warn area residents to be on heightened alert and stay away from its snow-capped crater. The National Disaster Prevention Committee said the volcano had stabilised, following a day of tremors that triggered "light emissions of gas, vapour and small quantities of ash" visible in Mexico City, 40 miles away. But it said an emergency warning system to measure danger from the volcano was raised to yellow, stage three, just one step away from placing civil defence groups, military brigades and medical rescue teams on full alert. "The magma is climbing toward the crater's interior and, due to that and other signs, the main precaution is not to approach the volcano", Disaster Committee Director Roberto Meli told Radio Red. Officials have warned residents to remain at least four miles from the volcano's crater. "Authorities in the three nearby states have been recommended to review their emergency plans and all their equipment in case the volcano enters a new phase (of activity)", he added. Authorities say that Mexico City's 18 million residents are too far away to be in any direct danger from the volcano.

10 February 1999 - The "Volcano of fire" (Colima volcano) in western Mexico lived up to its name today by spewing lava and clouds of poisonous gas, forcing authorities to evacuate nearby villages, officials said. "There have so far been five internal explosions", German Pinto, deputy civil defence chief of western Jalisco state, said. Pinto said the explosions began at 01.56, local time (07.56, UTC), sending a cloud of carbon dioxide, sulphur and water vapour towering three miles above the volcano, which is located about 300 miles north-west of Mexico City. He said lava from the 14,320-foot Colima volcano, known locally as the "Volcano of fire", had set fire to some grazing land on its northern slopes. A statement from Jalisco's civil defence department said authorities had evacuated 118 people from three villages near the volcano and might have to evacuate another two communities, but "everything will depend on the volcano's activity".

14 February 1999 - Mexico's "Volcano of fire" forced seven more small villages to evacuate today after it caused small tremors around its base, authorities said. The 206 villagers who left their homes add to the 118 evacuated from three villages after violent internal bursts last week. Tremors and internal explosions grew in intensity on Sunday, a Civil Protection spokesman said.

15 February 1999 - Mexico's Colima Volcano continued to spit smoke and ash today, forcing the evacuation of more nearby villages, officials said. Jaime Paz, director of civil protection for the state of Jalisco, said a total of 505 people had been moved to emergency shelters since the volcano's activity picked up last week. He said up to 7,000 people might have to be evacuated if the volcanic activity picked up any further.

17 February 1999 - Light explosions shook Mexico's "Volcano of fire" for a seventh day today but authorities said activity inside the crater had steadied. "The volcano is stable but activity continues", Marita Oropeza, spokeswoman for Jalisco's civilian protection force, said. Located some 300 miles north-west of Mexico City, the volcano has registered dozens of medium- and low-intensity explosions since 10 February, sending rocks, water vapour and dense clouds of gas into the sky. Lava has also flowed down its slopes. The zone around the crater is now in phase two of a three-phase alert. People are forbidden to come within 6.5 miles of it, and authorities do not rule out evacuations of up to 7,000 people living within 8.7 miles.

12 March 1999 - Mount Popocatepetl spouted ash, vapour and red-hot rock, civil defence authorities reported. The incandescent rock fell on the volcano's upper slopes. The National Centre for Disaster Prevention said there were no reports of ash from the volcano falling on nearby communities after the explosion today, but prevailing winds appeared to be blowing the plume of grit north-east, toward Mexico City. Volcanic grit has worsened the capital city's pollution problems in the past, and Mexico City had already declared a pollution alert today, after smog rose to 240 points on a scale in which 100 is considered the maximum level of acceptable air quality.

8 April 1999 - A press cutting, dated 6 April, states: Mount Popocatepetl shot gas and ash into the sky today, sending a huge plume drifting south-west toward villages that are home to 70,000 people. After the 07.35 hours explosion, public safety authorities advised nearby residents to close doors and windows and cover their drinking water reservoirs.

29 March 1999 - Cameroon

Mount Cameroon volcano has erupted for the first time since 1982 causing damage but no known casualties, state radio reported today. The eruption of the volcano, close to Cameroon's Atlantic coast, triggered lava flows late yesterday and an exodus of residents from nearby villages. The radio reported that some houses, electricity poles, telephone lines and transmitters of Radio Cameroon's local Buea station were damaged. It said that earth tremors preceded the eruption on Saturday (27 March) and yesterday. Reports from the region said that lava flows were heading west towards the Atlantic Ocean.

1 April 1999 - A press report, dated 31 March, states: Tremors shook villages around Mount Cameroon volcano in western Cameroon today, with geologists fearing that mounting lava flows could soon threaten nearby residents, local media reported. One tremor late yesterday and another early today jarred the town of Buea, 13 miles south of Mount Cameroon. No damage was reported from the latest tremors, but geologists said a fifth vent in the cone may soon explode, adding to the lava flow from four vents that erupted Saturday (24 March).

3 April 1999 - Fresh eruptions on Mount Cameroon have increased lava flows which have been advancing steadily on surrounding villages, state radio said today. Lava flowing down the western flank of the 4,100m mountain in Cameroon's South West Province could reach the villages of Idenau, Batoke and Bakingili in four to five days, the radio said. Eruptions yesterday have increased the number of fissures feeding the lava flows from nine to 11, it added. The radio, quoting the governor of the South West Province, said the government had moved out 12 families while others were staying put to try to protect crops and livestock. The volcano, on a geological fault-line that runs through western Cameroon and oil-producing Equatorial Guinea, sprang to life on 28 March for the first time since 1982. A crisis committee led by the governor says an estimated 2,500 people have been affected, with 102 homes damaged or destroyed by tremors. A Roman Catholic boarding school housing 700 students near the town of Buea was among the damaged buildings. A team of 18 scientists, which returned to Buea today after climbing the mountain on an inspection tour, was expected to issue a report in due course.

5 April 1999 - Cameroon's Government said today it had put in place an evacuation plan and had started distributing gas masks to villagers on Mount Cameroon, nine days after the volcano erupted for the first time since 1982, and in the aftermath of fresh eruptions at the weekend (3-4 April) which had opened a 12th vent on the mountainside. People at risk live in Idenau, Bakingili and Batoke, three villages in the path of the lava flow on the mountain. Some have left, others have stayed on to protect crops and livestock.

16 April 1999 - Molten lava flowing from a flank of volcanic Mount Cameroon has cut a major highway linking western Cameroon and Nigeria, state radio said today. The lava had formed "an impressive mountain of rocks of some 50 meters high" on a section of the road between Limbe and Idenau district west of Mount Cameroon, the radio said. Burning lava was also edging close to oil palm plantations in the area and could reach nearby Atlantic waters any time. The impact to traffic on the road, a major economic link between the port of Douala and the interior of the Central African country as well as Nigeria could not be assessed immediately. Some 300 villagers were moved from the area Tuesday (13 April) to Tiko, 30km south of the provincial capital Buea. Officials said this week the evacuations were not so much for fear of encroaching lava as the risk of a release of toxic fumes should the lava come in contact with sea water. Authorities have so far reported no death or injuries as a result of the eruptions. 20 April 1999 - Alaska

A press report from Anchorage, Alaska, dated 19 April, states: Alaska's Shishaldin Volcano, which has been rumbling for more than two months, erupted today with a cloud of ash and steam that rose to 30,000ft, seismologists said. The volcano is located on Unimak Island, at the eastern end of Alaska's Aleutian Island chain. The Alaska Volcano Observatory has been recording an elevated level of seismic activity at the volcano since early February. A low-level eruption with a slow outpouring of molten lava was seen two days ago by observatory officials in the area of the volcano. Although no lava was seen flowing down the mountain's snow-covered slopes, the observatory warned that possible mudslides could endanger hikers in the area. Today's eruption was considered to pose a risk to aircraft in the area. Television reports in Anchorage said that scheduled flights to Dutch Harbour were cancelled.

21 April 1999 - Two flights into the eastern Aleutian Islands were cancelled and other aircraft were re-routed after a pilot saw a steam and ash plume pouring from the Shishaldin Volcano. The eruption lasted about six hours, Terry Keith, scientist-in-charge at the Alaska Volcano Observatory, said on Monday (19 April). Service into Dutch Harbour Airport was affected, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, and several flights to the Far East were directed to detour around the plume. "It was one of the more energetic eruptions of Shishaldin this century", said Keith. The volcano is about 700 miles south-west of Anchorage, on Unimak Island just off the end of the Alaska Peninsula in the eastern Aleutians. The ash cloud above Shishaldin was seen first shortly before noon, according to observatory scientists. The corrosive ash rose to an altitude of about 45,000 feet, Keith said, with a high-altitude plume heading north, while ash below about 40,000 feet spread south and east. Since winds were relatively light, the cloud was fairly stable and easy for pilots to avoid, FAA officials said. Operations were normal at the Cold Bay Airport on Monday afternoon despite the erupting mountain just 50 miles away. No ash was falling on False Pass or Cold Bay, Keith said, and US Coast Guard officers said no ash-fall was reported by vessels in the area, either.

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