Archived Volcano News - John Seach
August 2003


News reports posted in Eastern Australian Time (UT + 10 hr)
Reports written by John Seach

Karthala Volcano (Comoros)
11.75 S, 43.38 E, summit elevation 2361 m, shield volcano
Saturday 30th  August 2003
The eruption of Karthala Volcano on Saturday may have not occurred. A report from the island said that fires lit by farmers may have created the mistake.
More on Karthala Volcano...

Colima Volcano (Mexico)
19.514 N,103.62 W, summit elevation 3850 m, Stratovolcano
Saturday 30th  August 2003
Lava flowed from Mexico's Volcano of Fire on Friday and explosions were heard from its crater, but civil defence officials said there were no signs of major danger. Volcano experts said there had been explosions from the four thousand-metre (12,000 foot) volcano in Colima state at about midnight. There had been a very light fall of ash in Colima state's capital, Colima city as well. People living on the slopes of the volcano were alerted, but officials decided there was no need to order an evacuation. The activity state of the volcano remains, as it was before, on yellow alert. A similar and slightly smaller event like the current one had occurred on August 2, 2003. 
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Piton de la Fournaise Volcano (Reunion)
21.22 S, 55.71 E, summit elevation 2631 m, shield volcano
Friday 29th August 2003
The charred body of a 22-year-old man who died while trying to get a photo of an erupting volcano on France's Indian Ocean island of Reunion was recovered today after a difficult high-altitude operation, police said. The student from the island's capital of Saint-Denis, was killed late yesterday after the cooled lava he was standing on crumbled away and he fell into a crack on the side of Piton de la Fournaise volcano. Firemen who extracted his body today said the Frenchman probably died of asphyxiation from the poisonous gases inside. His body was burnt beyond recognition within minutes by the 260-degree-Celsius temperature in the fissure. Authorities closed access to the volcano following the accident. 
After a 5 month slow inflation, Piton de la Fournaise volcano started a new seismic crisis on Friday evening August 23 at 18h48, beneath Dolomieu crater. At about 21h20 a first fissure opened in Bory crater. A second fissure opened at 22h10 on the north flanc at about 2450 m altitude. Both fissures were active for a short time. At 23h30 a final fissure opened at 2200 m altitude on the north flank, about 50 m east of 1998 Piton Kapor. A lava flow went down into la Plaine des Osmondes.
More on Piton de la Fournaise Volcano...

Kilauea Volcano (Hawaii)
19.425 N, 155.292 W, summit elevation 1222 m, Shield volcano
Thursday 28th August 2003
A magnitude 5 earthquake hit the south flank of Kilauea volcano on Tuesday at 2024 hr (local time). This is the largest earthquake to hit the volcano in three years. Lava continues to flow along the Kohala flat. 
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Tungurahua Volcano (Ecuador)
1.467 S, 78.442 W, summit elevation 5023 m, stratovolcano
Friday 22nd August 2003
Tungurahua volcano, in a state of simmering eruption since October 1999, rumbled to life overnight, sending a column of smoke and ash three kilometres high. The latest activity followed 50 days of relative calm, since a similar eruption affected some 16,000 people in the area in early July.
More on Tungurahua Volcano...

New Zealand Earthquake (Magnitude 7.2)
Friday 22nd August 2003
A major earthquake hit the south island of New Zealand on Friday 22nd august. This thrust earthquake occurred near the southern tip of South Island in a region known as Fiordland. The preliminary location, depth, and estimate of fault orientation are consistent with the earthquake having resulted from slip on the thrust interface between the Pacific and Australian plates. The deformed and subducted Australian plate beneath Fiordland and below the thrust interface is also highly active, and several surface strands of the Alpine Fault are observed in the vicinity of the earthquake epicenter in the overriding Pacific plate above the thrust interface. Over the past two decades, several large earthquakes have occurred in Fiordland. A magnitude 7.0 event on August 10, 1993 caused power outages in the Te Anau area and was felt throughout South Island and as far away as Sydney, Australia. A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck on May 31, 1989 and was felt strongly in the southwestern part of South Island and a magnitude 6.7 quake struck on June 3, 1988. There were no injuries due to the remote location.
Volcanoes of New Zealand...

Karthala Volcano (Comoros)
11.75 S, 43.38 E, summit elevation 2361 m, shield volcano
Thursday 21st August 2003
Karthala Volcano in the Indian Ocean Comoro Islands might soon erupt for the first time in 12 years. A steady increase in seismic activity points to a growing possibility of renewed rumblings by Karthala volcano, which last erupted in 1991. An observatory monitoring the volcano said the number of earth tremors had increased in the past few months to about 100 a day in August from about one or two per day during intervals of calm on Karthala. 
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Mt Etna Volcano (Italy)
Wednesday 20th August 2003
The explosive activity at North-east crater at Mt Etna volcano was short-lived. Volcanologists visited the summit area on 16th August and didn't see any explosive activity, or any recent lava around the crater. Renewed activity may occur in the near future.
More on Mt Etna volcano...

Mt Etna Volcano (Italy)
Wednesday 13th August 2003
Summit eruptions have resumed at Mt Etna volcano. Magma has risen to the surface within the central conduit system of Etna which was indicated by a summit glow of lava at North East crater. The date of the new activity fell on 11 August, 195 days after the end of the last flank eruption. The new summit activity means that the newly rising magma has not bypassed the summit craters and produced a flank eruption, as had been feared by many. If the summit activity continues long enough, it might progressively increase and bring a return of lava fountains which are the most spectacular feature of Etna's eruptions. Southeast Crater has no inner pit, so if this crater resumes its activity it  may be violent and destroy the unstable summit of its cone, or gradual, with Strombolian bursts, and lava outflow possibly from one of its side vents that were established in 2000-2001.
More on Mt Etna volcano...

New Undersea Volcano Discovered (Aleutian Islands)
Tuesday 12th August 2003
Scientists have discovered and mapped the first confirmed undersea volcano in the Aleutian Islands. 
The volcano rises more than 1,900 feet from the floor of Amchitka Pass and may be the next Aleutian island. The black lava rock reaches within 380 feet of the surface and supports a profusion of coral, invertebrates, fish and other sea life, say the biologists and geologists working on the project.
It's about one-third to one-half the height of its sister volcanoes above the surface on nearby Gareloi, Tanaga and Little Sitkin islands. It lies about 12 miles southeast of Semisopochnoi Island. A strong eruption with lots of lava could conceivably surge above the waves and create a new island. Aleut oral stories describe the emergence of Kasatochi Island west of Atka. Native elders across the region will be consulted regarding an appropriate name.

Stromboli Volcano (Italy)
38.79 N, 15.21 E, summit elevation 926 m, stratovolcano
Sunday 10th August 2003
Strombolian activity continues from the northern summit crater. Episodes of greater activity have ejected material beyond the crater rim. A Strombolian eruption from the southern crater on Saturday 9th August produced ash to an elevation 200 m above the crater. Seismic activity produced 155 events over the past 24 hours, which is similar to the previous day. SO2 release from the volcano yesterday measured 570 t/d which is an increase from 270 t/d in the first days of August. There is no change in the amount of CO2 release from the volcano.
More on Stromboli Volcano...

White Island Volcano (New Zealand)
37.52 S, 177.78 E, summit elevation 321 m, stratovolcanoes
Sunday 10th August 2003
Over the last few months a substantial lake has formed in the active crater at White Island. This is the largest lake to have formed within this crater and has recently drowned the active vents. As a consequence future eruptions will occur through the crater lake and, if ejected by eruptions, moderate volumes of water could flood down the Main Crater floor towards the sea. This is a significant change in the nature of volcanic hazards on the island. The current lake volume is large enough that it will influence the next phase of eruptive activity from the volcano and result in a new hazard to people visiting the island.
More on White Island Volcano...

Yellowstone Volcano (USA)
44.43 N, 110.67 W, summit elevation 2805 m, calderas
Saturday 9th August 2003
Scientists plan to set up a temporary network of seismographs, Global Positioning System receivers and thermometers to monitor increasing hydrothermal activity in the Norris Geyser Basin and gauge the risk of a hydrothermal explosion. The goal of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory is to pinpoint underground sources of hydrothermal steam and learn more about how seismic activity affects the basin.
Scientists do not expect a volcanic eruption. However, small hydrothermal explosions occur in the park almost every year. Usually they are not noticed until after the fact. The Norris Back Basin has been closed since July 23 due to the formation of new mud pots, changes in geyser activity and much higher ground temperatures, as hot as 200 degrees in some areas. Vegetation has been dying due to thermal activity and altered eruption intervals for several geysers. Increased steam discharge has been continuing, according to park officials. Hydrothermal activity has been increasing each year in the basin, but the increase in recent weeks has been especially rapid.
More on Yellowstone Volcano...

Carlsberg Ridge Volcano (Indian Ocean)
Friday 8th August 2003
Scientists have discovered a "smoking" volcano 3,000 metres below the surface of the Indian Ocean. Scientists on board the research vessel detected a huge, dark plume of water, 600 metres thick and over 30 kilometres wide, rising hundreds of metres above a lava-strewn valley on the Carlsberg ocean ridge. "Black smokers", often teeming with exotic lifeforms, are known to exist in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans but their discovery in the Indian Ocean is very recent.

Kliuchevskoi Volcano (Russia)
56.06 N, 160.64 E, summit elevation 4835 m, stratovolcano
Thursday 7th August 2003
A mountaineer died, apparently of head injuries, after his climbing party hit bad weather on a volcano in Russia's far east, Russian officials said on Wednesday.
Four climbers were still trapped on the mountain, while 12 of the party had made it back to base camp with the help of Russian rescue workers. Kliuchevskoi is the highest active volcano in Eurasia and smokes almost permanently. It is popular with mountaineers and is seen as having one of the world's most perfect volcanic cone shapes.
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Kliuchevskoi Volcano (Russia)
56.06 N, 160.64 E, summit elevation 4835 m, stratovolcano
Wednesday 6th August 2003
A badly hurt climber and 16 members of his party are trapped on the slopes of a volcano in Russia's far east. A helicopter which tried to reach the group was forced back by bad weather and fog. The alarm was raised by three members of the party who managed to get off the volcano and alert the emergency services. Kliuchevskoi volcano is active and suffers rockfalls, earthquakes and gas emission. The volcano remains a popular destination for climbers, who try to reach the top to peer into the crater. Officials have criticised the group for attempting to scale the volcano without the help of local guides.
More on Kliuchevskoi Volcano...

Scotia Sea Earthquake (Magnitude 7.5)
Tuesday 5th August 2003
A major earthquake has occurred in the Scotia Sea 190 km (120 miles) E of Coronation Island, South Orkney Islands. The August 4, 2003, Scotia Sea earthquake occurred on the boundary between the Scotia plate and the Antarctic plate. In the epicentral region, the Scotia Sea plate is moving to the west-northwest with respect to the Antarctic plate. The relative velocity between the two plates is not well determined but is likely to be about 1 cm/y. The overall boundary is a transform-fault boundary, involving predominantly strike-slip faulting, although prior normal-faulting earthquakes have also occurred. No tsunami is expected to be generated from the earthquake.

Mt Etna Volcano (Italy)
37.73 N, 15.00 E, summit elevation  3350 m, shield volcano
Tuesday 5th August 2003
Vigorous degassing continues at the Northeast Crater, and some less intense degassing is occurring at the Bocca Nuova. There are no indications of eruptive activity, but the volcano remains restless. There has been seismicity in the eastern sector of Mount Etna in the past ten days, with a burst of four small earthquakes (magnitudes up to 2.6) on 30 July 2003 that affected an area between the villages of Milo and Zafferana on the eastern flank of the volcano. 
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Dieng Volcano (Indonesia)
7.2 S, 109.9 E, summit elevation 2565 m, complex Volcano
Tuesday 5th August 2003
Initial reports of eruptions at Dieng have not been verified. Small ejections of mud from Dieng's Sileri crater noted on 20 & 24 July, rising 25-50m. Since then, mud spatterings rising 1m. No significant increase in crater temperatures or anamolous seismicity appear to have occurred with these events.
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Gamalama Volcano (Indonesia)
0.80 N, 127.325 E, summit elevation 1715 m, stratovolcano
Friday 1st August 2003
Mount Gamalama, an active volcano in Indonesia's eastern Maluku province, erupted on Thursday blanketing the regional capital of Ternate with thick ash. There were no reports of casualties or damage following the eruption and Residents had not been evacuated. Dust and ash fell in Ternate, around 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of the mountain. Gamalama, which last erupted in 2000, is one of 500 volcanoes in Indonesia. Of these, 128 are active and 65 are listed as dangerous.
More on Gamalama Volcano...