All posts by Saajeda

Villarrica eruption

Villarrica, a stratovolcano located in southern Chile erupted spectacularly on 3rd March causing authorities to evacuate over 3600 people from the vicinity of the volcano.

The volcano, measuring 2847 metres  is one the country’s  most active volcano with numerous documented eruptions of which the majority have been a VEI 1 or VEI 2. Villarrica’s most violent eruptions according to radicarbon dating took place  in 1810 (+/- 200) measuring a VEI 5 and in 0…670 BCE measuring a VEI 4.


According to the Global Volcanism Program, Villarrica showed signs of activity in early December last year; however the activity was minimal and only began to intensify in February 2015. In early February the volcano experienced an increase in seismicity, sulphur dioxide emissions, crater incandescence and lava lake temperature. Strombolian eruptions took place during early to mid February emitting ash plumes and ejecting tephra (including lava bombs measuring 5 metres in diameter) several metres high.


From 28th February to 2nd March the volcano showed signs of greater increase in activity including significant seismic activity, further strombolian activity, ejection of tephra and an increase in the level of the lava lake.  On 3rd March at approximately 03:00 am after an increase in seismic levels the most significant eruption took place. A lava fountain was produced reaching heights of 1.5 km, tephra was ejected several metres around the volcano and lava flows travelled down the volcano. An ash plume was also produced, reaching a height of up to 8 km and travelled 400 km towards the east.


The Alert Level was raised to Red from Orange and a 10 km exclusion was placed as a result of the increased intensity of the eruption. Residents within this zone including those from the towns of Pucon and Conaripe were evacuated as a precautionary measure but returned when the intensity of the eruption decreased later that evening.


Due to a decline in activity on 5th March, the exclusion zone was reduced to 5 km and the Alert Level was lowered to Orange. A further decline in activity continued at the volcano, including decrease in seismicity and the absence of an active lava lake on 6th March and subsidence of material in the crater and decrease in gas levels on 9th March. The Alert Level was lowered to Yellow on 10th March as a result; however a 3 km exclusion zone remains due to fear of avalanches on the volcano.

Fogo Eruption Update

50 homes, roads, a school, tanks, pens, farm land and agricultural support facilities have been destroyed in the village of Portela by lava flows from Fogo. No fatalities have been reported since evacuation has already taken place since the eruption began.

The eruption is currently ongoing and on 3rd December the lava flow has slowed down and is travelling at 1 meter per hour. Attention has now turned towards the lava flow which is travelling towards the village of Bangaeira. If the lava flow continues and gains speed while travelling downhill, it is feared that the city of Grass will be on its path.

Relief efforts are currently ongoing and victims of the eruption are being provided with aid.

Fogo eruption

An eruption at Fogo started on the morning of Sunday 23rd November. Fogo volcano is a 2829 m stratovolcano located on the island of Fogo, Cape Verde. The volcano has a 9 km wide caldera and a cone located within it called Pico which forms the highest point on the island. Pico has a crater measuring 500 m wide and 150 m deep. According to the Global Volcanism Program, Pico was continuously active since 1500 CE.

The volcano’s last eruption before Sunday was in April 1995 (over 19 years ago). the eruption in 1995 started on 2nd April and stopped on 26th May and took place on the WSW flank of the volcano. It measured a VEI 2 and covered approximately 6.3 km2 of land. According to Global Volcanism Program the total volume from this eruption was 60-100 x 106 m3. The majority of Fogo’s eruptions have measured a VEI 2. The eruption in 1500 CE measured a VEI 1.

Sundays eruption had followed on from seismic activity on Saturday night which caused the local population to sleep outside their houses. Lava fountains, lava flows and an ash plume have been erupting. Spectacular images and videos have been shown by Fogo News of the current activity.

The eruption has forced residents in the vicinity of the volcano to evacuate, seeking shelter in previously built temporary accommodations. Authorities have also closed the airport. According to reports the eruption may be more intense than the one in 1995. No fatalities or injuries have been reported.

Magnitude 6.2 earthquake strikes Japan

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck Japan on 22nd November 2014 at 13:08 UTC (8:18 at epicenter) with a shallow depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). The earthquake was located 16 km (10 miles) NNE of Omachi and 191 km (119miles) NW of Tokyo. The shake map for this event is shown below along with the estimated population exposure and location parameters.

Although the USGS reported this earthquake as a magnitude 6.2, a conflicting report from the The Japan Meteorological Agency measured it as a 6.8.

According to reports 39 people were injured, 7 of which were serious, 47 homes collapsed, 94 were severely damaged and a further 282 homes faced slight damage. 38 public buildings were also damaged.

Hakuba was the hardest hit area where 37 homes collapsed. In the village of Otari, 7 homes collapsed. Landslides caused as a result of the earthquake led to 200 people being evacuated from Hakuba and Otari. Fortunatley there were no fatalities from this earthquake. 21 people were trapped under rubble but they were all rescued.

Mount Ontake

On 27th September at 11:52 JST, MountOntakesan (also known as Ontake) erupted without warning. Mount Ontake is Japan’s second highest volcano (3067m). The first historical eruption occurred in 1979 measuring a VEI 2. Between 1999 and 2007 very minor phreatic activity occurred.

This year’s eruption was phreatic in nature and followed on from seismic tremor and uplift which were detected just 11 minutes before the eruption. The eruption measured a VEI 3. According the Global Vocalism Program, there was a temporary increase in seismic activity near the summit between 10th and11th September and on the 14th September low frequency signals were detected.

The eruption on the 27th ejected an ash plume which reached heights 7 to 10km and ash fall affected the area in the vicinity, measuring 50cm in thickness around the crater. The deadly pyroclastic flow which was responsible for the fatalities travelled 3km down the south flank of the volcano.

57 fatalities occurred, 70 were injured and a further 6 are still missing. Search and rescue efforts to find the missing have been suspended due to winter and will resume in spring.

Since the event numerous photographs of the eruption taken by the victims in their last moments have been discovered.

The Alert Level has been raised to 3 (on a scale of 1 to 5) since the eruption and remains a 3

Ongoing eruption at Bardarbunga/Holuhraun

Seismic activity increased at Iceland’s Bárdarbunga volcano from 13th August leading to the Icelandic Meteorology Office raising the Aviation Code from Yellow to Orange. Earthquakes varied in size, some even measured 5.7. On 23rd August the Aviation Code was raised to Red when it was assumed that a small lava eruption took place. However observations indicated that there was no eruption and therefore the code was downgraded to an Orange.

It was not until 29th August when the first fissure eruption occurred in Holuhraun lava field located 5 km north of the Dyngjujökull glacier. The fissure measured 600m in length. The eruption over the following weeks involved lava plumes and effusive lava flows flowing north, gas and steam. No ash plume was present and therefore the code remained Orange.

On 5th September less effusive eruptions started to make place from two new fissures located 2 km away from the Dyngjujökull glacier. Two growing depressions indicating sub-glacial activity were also observed. According to the Icelandic Meteorology Office, on 7th September the lava effusion rate was 100-200 cubic meters per second.

On 14th September surveys and data indicated that a 23m subsidence had occurred at the Bárðarbunga caldera. This increased to 28m on 24th September and 42m on 31st October. The rate of susidence varied, between 15th and 21st October it was occurring at 30 to 40cm per day.

Lava flows were also flowing towards east and west, adding to the increasing lava field. Flow rates of lava have varied since the eruption began. On 22nd September the rate was 250-350 cubic meters per second and the total volume erupted during this was was 0.4-0.6 cubic kilometres. By 14th November the lava field has covered 71.9 square kilometres and is continuing to grow.

The eruption is currently continuing in the form of effusive lava eruption and can be viewed live on webcam.

Morocco floods kill 32

Flash floods in southern Morocco have killed 32 people, of which one was a 9 year old girl. Fatalities were caused in the city of Guelmim near the Talmaadart River. A further 6 people are also missing in the region of Guelmim, Ouarzazate and Marrakesh.

The storms which began on Saturday 22nd November dropped 10 inches of rain in a few hours.

Widespread damage has been caused by the floods, 100 homes have been destroyed, 100 roads of which 6 are national highways have also been inundated and vehicles and trees have been swept away.

Rescue operations are currently underway. According to reports 214 people have been saved so far by these operations.

Earthquake strikes California

An earthquake measuring 6.0 struck Northern California on 24 August at 3:20 local time. The earthquake had a depth of 10.7 km (6.6 miles) and was located 6 km (4 miles) NW of American Canyon and 9 km (6 miles) SSW of Napa. Several smaller afershocks have followed the main event. It is the largest earthquake to hit Bay Area since the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

In Napa, 89 people have been injured, of which 3 are serious. Fortunetly no deaths have been reported so far. 69,000 people have also been left without power. The earthquake has caused significant damage in Napa and American Canyon. Bridges and roads have been damaged including a bridge in American Canyon which has been closed due to the damage sustained.

Several historical buildings in Napa have been severaly damaged, which includes the City Hall and two commercial buildings. Fires caused by the earthquakes destroyed four mobile homes. According to reports there were approximatley 50 gas main breaks and 60 leaks from damaged water mains.

The earthquake was caused by the San Andreas fault system which is where the Pacific is moving northwest in relation to the North American plate. This movement causes a right lateral slip across the faults. According to the USGS the location of the earthquake was near the West Napa Fault which is located between two major strike slip fault systems; the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system on the west and the Concord-Green Valley Fault system on the east.

As assessments are carried out, the extent and severity of the damage will become clear over the next few hours or days.

A state of emergency has been declared by the California Governer Jerry Brown.

Earthquake kills 589 in China

589 people have been killed and over 2833 have been injured in China after a magnitude 6.1 earthquake with a depth of 10 km (6.1 miles) struck 11km (7miles) northwest of Wenping in Yunnan Province on 3 August 2014. The earthquake was also felt in Kunming, Chongqing, Leshan and Chengdu. Numerous aftershocks have followed the earthquake.

According to reports 9 people are still missing, more than 1 million people have been affected, 229,700 have been left homeless and 230,000 have been evacuated from the affected areas due to severe structural damage to buildings and infrastructure. Fatalities have occurred in Ludian, Qiaojia, Huize and Zhaotong. Further remote villages devastated by the earthquake have just been reached; therefore the death toll is likely to increase.

The earthquake has caused devastation. More than 80,000 houses have collapsed and a further 124,000 have suffered severe damage. According to Earthquake-Report; 25,500 houses have collapsed in Yunnan, 39,200 have been severely damaged and a further 151,200 houses have also suffered damage. InSichuan 23 houses have collapsed and a further 2579 have been damaged. InGuizhou 12 houses have collapsed and 2154 have been damaged. These figures are likely to rise since some remote villages have not been reached or are just being reached.

The poor infrastructure is making response to the disaster difficult. Several roads and bridges have been damaged during the earthquake. Access to remote areas is limited and destruction to the existing communication system has made it worse. Roads have been blocked due to landslides and access to some towns and villages such as Longquan Village in Ludian County have been made impossible. The city ofZhaotonghas also suffered from damage to infrastructure and structural building damage. Power outages have also been reported.

Search and rescue efforts are still underway in hope of finding further survivors amongst the collapsed buildings and this will continue until Sunday 10 August. A woman was rescued from the rubble 67 hours after the earthquake on 6 August. The likelihood of finding further survivors after 72 hours decreases, therefore rescuers are working against the clock. The remoteness of some villages is greatly hindering the rescue effort.

In reponse to the disaster, the government has deployed over 18,000 rescuers in Yunnan which has included 5000 soldiers, police and firefighters. 33,000 tents, 10,000 quilts, 60,000 cotton coats, 10,000 folding beds, 10,000 sleeping bags, 5,000 sets of folding chairs and tables as well as 50 mobile toilets have also been dispatched to the areas affected by the earthquake. The Chinese governement has also allocated $97.3 million (600 million Yuan) to fund response and relief.

Concerns have also grown due to a rising barrier lake formed by a landslide blocking River Niulan near the border of Ludian and Qiaojia. Specialists have reported that the water level is rising at 16 cm per hour and will continue to rise. 4200 people downstream have been evacuated due to the increasing threat of flooding. According to Earthquake-Report, the lake has already flooded 370 homes. It is likely that further residents will need to be evacuated while the situation unfolds. Response teams are on site and currently dealing with the situation.

The cause of the earthquake was a shallow strike-slip fault within the Eurasian plate. This is a convergent plate boundary where the Eurasian plate and the Indian plate move towards eachother resulting in the formation of intraplate continental transform structures in the surrounding regions which includes the Xiaojiang fault system.

Estimates suggest that the earthquake has cost $6.4 billion (38.48 billion CNY). It will take months before life returns to normal in the affected regions. The death toll is also likely to increase over the next few days as more bodies of victims are pulled out of the rubble in remote areas.