Masaya Volcano | John Seach



11.98 N, 86.16 W
summit elevation 635 m

Masaya is a basaltic volcano located 25 km southeast of Managua, Nicaragua. It consists of a 6×11.5 km diameter caldera, which formed by a series of Plinian eruptions in the past 6000 years. The El Ventarrón caldera is an elongated basin 11.5 x 6 km, with a long axis is oriented to the northwest, parallel to the Central American Quaternary volcanic chain.

Masaya volcano consists of a group of collapse craters and cinder cones near the centre of El Ventarrón caldera. It contains the active crater Santiago, and Nindiri, Masaya, San Fernando and San Pedro craters.

Current activity at Masaya volcano occurs at Santiago crater which was formed from 1850-1853.

2008 Eruptions
An eruption of ash from Masaya volcano occurred on 29th April 2008, rising to a height of 2.1 km. Ash emissions occurred in September, November and December 2008.

2006 Eruptions
Two small phreatomagmatic eruptions occurred at Masaya volcano on 4th August 2006. Incandescence was visible at the bottom of the crater, and sounds similar to a jet engine were heard. In October 2006 a new vent opened on the floor of Santiago crater with a small lava lake which displayed intense degassing. Following heavy rains, landslides occurred from the crater walls.

2001 Eruptions
On 23rd April 2001 tourists were caught in one of the most powerful eruptions at the volcano in 30 years. Two people were injured and 200 people were caught in the danger zone. Volcanic bombs landed in the parking area, damaged cars and set fire to vegetation and shelters. Scientists had left the crater only one hour before Masaya erupted.

2000 Eruptions
On 6th January 2000 a small explosion occurred at Santiago crater.

1996 Eruption
A strombolian eruption occurred at Masaya volcano on 5th December 1996 which ejected blocks up to 10 cm in diameter.

1993 Lava Lake
A lava lake formed in the bottom of Santiago crater in late June 1993 after an absence of 3 years.

1968-72 Eruptions
Numerous pahoehoe lava flows were erupted in the main crater.

1851 Lava Lake
In 1851 Oviedo y Valdez described observations of a lava lake at Masaya volcano.

1772 Eruption
The most recent lava flow at Masaya volcano occurred in 1772. The eruption on 16th March was preceded by 2 hours of strong earthquakes. Lava flowed for 8 days and reached a maximum lenght of 7 km to the north. A second lava flow travelled 4 km SE and reached Laka Masaya.

1670 Eruption
A lava filled Nindiri crater in 1670 and overflowed the north side of the cone. The lava flow covered 2.1 sq km.

1538 Descent to the lava lake
In 1538 Friar Blas del Castillo climbed inside Nindiri crater without technical assistance. The lava lake was assumed to be made of gold. A sample of the lava lake was taken and revealed to only contain basalt!

Further reading
Pering, Tom D., et al. "A rapidly convecting lava lake at Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua." Frontiers in Earth Science 6 (2019): 241.

Aiuppa, Alessandro, et al. "Tracking formation of a lava lake from ground and space: Masaya volcano (Nicaragua), 2014–2017." Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 19.2 (2018): 496-515.

Stix, John. "Stability and instability of quiescently active volcanoes: The case of Masaya, Nicaragua." Geology 35.6 (2007): 535-538.

Rymer, Hazel, et al. "Pit crater structure and processes governing persistent activity at Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua." Bulletin of volcanology 59.5 (1998): 345-355.

Masaya Volcano Eruptions

2008, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2001, 1999-2000, 1996, 1993-94, 1989, 1987, 1965-85, 1946-47?, 1919-24, 1913, 1906, 1904, 1902-03, 1858-59, 1858?, 1856-57, 1853, 1852, 1772, 1670, 1613?, 1586?, 1570, 1551, 1524-44?