Scientists from UNAM's Instituto de Geofísica, Michigan Technological Univ., the Univ. By early June, lidar observations and reports of unusual sunsets indicated that the cloud was beginning to move northward. This apparent increase in the level of the crater lake was the only significant change in El Chichón's morphology. Portable seismometers on the crater rim 21-23 April detected only two small events in 26 hours. Trees that were charred but not totally blown down >5 km away have begun to grow again from their stumps. Information Contacts: King Freeland, Distrito Reynosa 157, Fracc. Near the volcano, the landscape was covered by 25 to 40 cm of airfall and villages 7 km from the volcano has roofs destroyed by 50- to 60-cm diameter bombs. The eruption of El Chichón teaches us two very important lessons about monitoring volcanoes. At the time of the 24 April sampling, the crater lake covered approximately half of the bottom of the crater. A brilliant fiery red glow appeared 35 minutes after sunset on 16 May. The authors considered the perturbations too small to cause the distant landslide. Earthquakes had been increasing over February and March 1982, enough to cause some people living near the volcano to leave, but little was done to increase monitoring or awareness of the volcano, even after geologists who had mapped the volcano in 1980-1981 had warned that it was hazardous. Previous temperatures had not exceeded 38°C since January 1983 when the lake reached 56°C. The rapid escalation of activity at El Chichón is very similar to what happened at Chaitén in Chile during its 2008 eruption -- the time between the first signs of an impending major eruption from a volcano thought to be "dormant" and the explosion itself was very short. Clicking on the small images will load the full 300 dpi map. Ad Choices, Looking Back at the 1982 eruption of El Chichón in Mexico. The total acoustic energy of this activity was significantly greater than that produced by the early morning explosions, and the eruption plume was denser and probably rose somewhat higher. El Chichón is located in a heavily forested mountainous area in Chiapas, 670 km ESE of México City. However, on Apr. Unusual twilight colors were observed through mid-May from Flagstaff, Arizona, and extinction coefficients measured there were about three times the normal value [Livingston and Lockwood, 1983]. Very little was known about this volcano, with few geological studies and little to no monitoring of activity. In the Río Magdalena near Xochimilco (8 km NW of the crater), vegetation has made a strong comeback on pyroclastic-flow deposits, which are now covered by tall grasses and acacia trees up to 2 m high with trunks several centimeters in diameter. We will measure temperature and pH, and sample sites of hydrothermal activity. The flow is estimated to have been moving at 100 m/s and, most famously, destroyed the village of Francisco Léon (see above), killing as many as 1,000 people. Image from Lockwood and Hazlett (2010).Image 6: False-color image of El Chichón seen in 2011. The top of this glow was at 24 km, the highest altitude observed from Tucson thus far. The 1982 eruption of El Chichón is the largest volcanic disaster in modern Mexican history. 86020 Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico; Wendell A. Duffield, USGS, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA. It also means that monitoring should not be limited to those volcanoes that are historically very active, but also to volcanoes that could pose a danger if active resumed. Seismicity remained normal during the visit. The major stratospheric cloud remained dense over lower northern latitudes. Res., 97: 105-125. No previous eruptions of El Chichón are known in historic time. "Geologic observations document two pre-1982 dome extrusion periods and two periods of pyroclastic flows in the crater wall stratigraphy, as well as domal units extruded on the somma or ring fracture around the crater. Macias J L, Espindola J M, Taran Y, Sheridan M F, Garcia A, 1997. Scattering was about equal at all wavelengths except near-infrared, where the cloud was more transparent. *Volcanoes. Slight variations in lake water temperature and migration of thermal fields on the crater floor were noticed during an April 1998 visit. Fresh pumices from the three layers are indistinguishable porphyritic trachyandesites with 55.9 wt. At its distal end, the deposit was about 100 m wide and 3 m thick and contained pumice blocks 1 m in diameter. Since the eruptions of 1982, observations at El Chichón have indicated decreasing magmatic fluids. Figure 6 illustrates the central crater as it looked in May 2004 from the SE side of the volcano looking towards the WSW. Rose, W., Bornhorst, T., Halsor, S., Capaul, W., Plumley, P., de la Cruz-Reyna, S., Mena, M., and Mota, R., 1984, Volcán el Chichón, México: pre-1982 S-rich eruptive activity: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 23, p. 147-167. More scarce information of a period Taran Y A, Fischer T P, Pokrovsky B, Sano Y, Aurora-Armienta M, Macias J L, 1998. Some even considered El Chichón to be dormant or extinct. Cochemé, S. de la Cruz-Reyna, F. Medina, M. Mena, J. Havskov, S. Singh, UNAM, México; R. Canul D., Comisión Federal de Electricidad, Morelia; R. Tilling, USGS, Reston, VA; W. Duffield, USGS, Menlo Park, CA; W. Fuller, NASA Langley Research Center; T. DeFoor, MLO, Hawaii; M. Hirono, Kyushu Univ. The 28 March explosion produced heavy tephra falls N of the volcano, but the initial press reports of the thickness of ash deposits, included last month, were exaggerated. Information Contacts: S. de la Cruz-Reyna, UNAM, México; W. Wonderly, Albuquerque, NM; R. Engel, Instituto Lingüístico del Verano, México. 03/1982 (SEAN 07:03) Large explosions; voluminous ashfalls; many deaths; first eruption in historic time, 04/1982 (SEAN 07:04) 4 April stratospheric cloud circles the globe; minor explosive and seismic activity continues, 05/1982 (SEAN 07:05) Fatal flood after natural pyroclastic dam fails; stratospheric cloud effects; eruption summary, 06/1982 (SEAN 07:06) No new explosions; dense stratospheric cloud over N hemisphere, 07/1982 (SEAN 07:07) Stratospheric cloud continues N dispersal, 08/1982 (SEAN 07:08) Bulk of stratospheric cloud remains at low N latitudes, 09/1982 (SEAN 07:09) Small phreatic explosion; little northward movement of stratospheric cloud, 10/1982 (SEAN 07:10) High H2S and NO in plume; slow diffusion of stratospheric cloud, 11/1982 (SEAN 07:11) Dense aerosol cloud spreads slowly northward, 12/1982 (SEAN 07:12) No new activity; aerosol cloud continues dispersal, 01/1983 (SEAN 08:01) Strong H2S emissions but no new explosions, 02/1983 (SEAN 08:02) Vapor emission but no eruptive activity, 04/1983 (SEAN 08:04) Crater lake recedes rapidly, 10/1983 (SEAN 08:10) Fumarole and crater lake temperatures decline, 02/1984 (SEAN 09:02) No new eruptions; crater lake conditions unchanged, 03/1984 (SEAN 09:03) Plumes on satellite images not caused by eruptions, 09/1986 (SEAN 11:09) Magnitude 3 earthquake nearby but crater unchanged, 11/1990 (BGVN 15:11) Thermal activity continues; no seismicity or dome growth, 06/1992 (BGVN 17:06) Frequent rockfalls and continued thermal activity, 09/1992 (BGVN 17:09) Occasional seismicity; lake less acidic, 02/1993 (BGVN 18:02) Fumarolic activity continues; lake chemistry unchanged, 05/1995 (BGVN 20:05) Fumarolic activity; lake level drops compared to 1993, 08/1998 (BGVN 23:08) Changes in hydrothermal activity noticed in April, 09/2000 (BGVN 25:09) Warming and solute concentration rises detected during December 1999 visit, 10/2001 (BGVN 26:10) Crater lake water level lower in September 2001 despite increased rainfall, 05/2004 (BGVN 29:05) Photos of crater lake and volcanic morphology, 12/2007 (BGVN 32:12) Stable with tremor; hot spring; significant crater-lake-volume variations, Large explosions; voluminous ashfalls; many deaths; first eruption in historic time. In general, ongoing measurements suggest decreasing concentrations for the boiling spring and crater lake waters with time. No other notable changes in fumarole position were noted. The pyroclastic flow that traveled through Francisco León left only a thin deposit, but of the structures in the village, only one wall of the church, parallel to the direction of the pyroclastic flow's movement, remained standing. A small explosion during the early afternoon of 2 April ejected a mushroom-shaped cloud that rose to ~ 3.5 km altitude in 30 minutes. In all other areas within 2-3 km of the crater, the 1982 deposits are covered only by moss, lichen, and tall grass. Macías and J.-C. Komorowski described the current activity and their interpretations of it during an informal conference on 19 May with residents of Chapultenango (11 km ESE of the crater), local authorities, and a group of elementary school teachers. rapid escalation of activity at El Chichón, Chaitén in Chile during its 2008 eruption, a dam on the Río Magdalena made of volcanic debris breached, largest volcanic disaster in modern Mexican history, recent research suggests this might not be possible, even volcanoes that seem benign can be very dangerous, Geology of El Chichón volcano, Chiapas, Mexico, Volcanic history of El Chichón Volcano (Chiapas, Mexico) during the Holocene, and its impact on human activity, The 26 May 1982 breakout flows derived from failure of a volcanic dam at El Chichón, Chiapas, Mexico, The 1982 eruptions from El Chichón volcano, Mexico: Stratigraphy of pyroclastic deposits. The eruption began 28 March at 2332 and NOAA geostationary weather satellite imagery showed that the eruption column was about 100 km in diameter 40 minutes later. Most of the casualties on the N flank were reportedly caused by fires started by incandescent airfall tephra. El Chichon last let go in spectacular style in 1982, destroying local communities and killing 2,000 people. Information Contacts: S. de la Cruz-Reyna, UNAM; J. Romeo León Vidal, Sismología del Sureste C. F. E., Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, México. Some evidence from wave form and polarity suggested both tectonic and internal explosion sources for these events. A few fumaroles on the NE side of the crater are characterized by vigorous geyser activity, sending a constant flux of boiling water to 2-3 m height. The last major eruption of El Chichón prior to 1982 occurred about 500 years ago, but residents reported an eruption about 130 years ago, witnessed by their grandparents, that was strong enough to prompt an evacuation. There have been no reports or evidence of lava dome extrusion (a large summit dome was destroyed by the March-April explosions). Flights from the NASA Ames Research Center near San Francisco to about 23°N on 19 April and 5 May sampled the base of the cloud at about 19 km altitude. Yuri Taran from the Institute of Geophysics, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), has been studying El Chichón volcano and its hydrothermal activity for almost 10 years (see Capaccioni and others, 2004). of California, Berkeley; M. Matson, D. Haller, C. Kadin, NOAA/NESS; B. Mendonça, NOAA/ERL; K. Coulson, MLO, HI; M. Hirono, Kyushu Univ. Due to local ground noise, only the Chapultenango station could be set at a relatively high gain. 28, things quieted down at El Chichón until Apr. In the upper layer there were more than 500 particles of less than 0.01 µm/cm3 and about 20 particles larger than 1 µm/cm3. The deposits produced by this pyroclastic flow were 100 meters wide and 3 meters thick at its far end. "The water sample (taken about 1 hour before the seismic event) shows a composition similar to other recent samples. 1/2, p. 1-191 (8 papers). A total of 9 villages were completely destroyed, killing 1,900 people. El Chichón's most recent eruption began on March 28, 1982 and devastated an area of about 10 km around the volcano and covered southeastern Mexico with ash fall . A feature similar to Bishop's Ring was observed 17 May and windrows of aerosol moved over Tucson later that afternoon. Data were collected at two sites similar to those chosen in 1993. However, their direction and speed of drift can be measured on a series of satellite images and then compared with known wind directions and speeds at various heights (in this case from the Veracruz radiosondes) to estimate altitudes. Heavy ashfall was reported from towns near the volcano. Pyroclastic flows and casualties. 4 was the last major explosive event at El Chichón. Geotherm. No new eruptions; crater lake conditions unchanged. A pumice flow deposit from the 4 April eruption extended ~ 5 km NE from the summit, terminating ~ 2 km from Nicapa. WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. . Less than a week after geologists left the volcano major additional shrinkage of the lake was reported, and as of early May the lake occupied less than half the area it had covered 24 April. The main body of the layer appeared to pass NW of Tucson during the evening of 7 May. Temperature and chlorine concentration of these springs are recorded in table 3. Ferns and grasses have returned to some of these hydrothermal areas. During the seismic recording, the volcano was visited to obtain samples. Crater Lake and post-eruption hydrothermal activity, El Chichon volcano, Mexico. Casadevall, T., de la Cruz-Reyna, S., Rose, W.I. Science, 224: 747-749. A thin plume drifted E about 120 km before dissipating. Heavy rains have washed out most of the roads near the volcano and have made field work extremely difficult. In a little under a week, the seemingly dormant volcano in Chiapas produced three Plinian eruptions that killed at least 1,900 people living near the volcano and also released a remarkable amount of sulfur dioxide and particulates into the atmosphere relative to the size of the eruption. Changes in hydrothermal activity noticed in April. Taran noted that three groups of hot springs exist on the slopes of the volcano: Agua Caliente, S of the volcano with a maximum temperature of 74°C; Agua Salada, at the base of the dome, SSW from the crater, with a maximum temperature of 55°C; and Agua Tibia, NW of the crater with an estimated maximum temperature of ~ 51°C. In September he reported that the water was too hot to touch. It is the essential source of information and ideas that make sense of a world in constant transformation. References. Information Contacts: J. Seismic activity and landsliding were at a very low level. They found no new tephra or other signs of recent eruptive activity. The maps shown below have been scanned from the GVP map archives and include the volcano on this page. Pilots overflying the volcano were asked to report further changes in the lake, but no reports had been received as of 11 May. Further analysis of samples collected 5 and 7 May during NASA Ames Research Center flights south from San Francisco shows particles ranging from less than 0.1 µm to several µm at the base of the cloud (about 19 km altitude). Image courtesy of NASA.Image 2: False-color image of El Chichón seen in 1980, prior to the eruption. Solfataras and hot springs were present in the crater and on the flanks. Macías, State Univ of New York, Buffalo, NY. No elemental sulfur was found in samples of lake sediments. Apr. At Ostuacán, more than 10 km from the dam, the water temperature was measured at 82°C. Analysis of wind conditions at 25 km altitude in Hawaii and México indicated a likely drift of ~ 5-7 m/s (roughly 430-600 km/day) towards the W, which would carry volcanic debris from El Chichón to Hawaii in 1.5 to 2 weeks. X-ray fluorescence analyses of pumice samples showed no significant variation in chemical composition, either within individual units or between units. On Mar. Information Contacts: S. de la Cruz-Reyna, L. Silva M., UNAM, México; R. Tilling, USGS, Reston, VA; W. Wonderly, Albuquerque, NM; J. Gooding, NASA, Houston. The crater interior and lake were essentially unchanged. Acoustic data recorded by Teledyne Geotech indicated that explosions probably occurred every 2-3 minutes, generating a few initial gravity waves and a complex series of acoustic waves that continued for 48 minutes. Res., 20: 117-132. Since last visited in February 1993, several rockfalls had occurred from the inner crater wall. The acidity and temperature of the lake water were similar to 1992 and 1993. 4 was the last major explosive event at El Chichón. Instruments at McMurdo, Antarctica, 11,865 km from El Chichón, recorded about 2 hours of infrasonic signals. Distal sections consist of three airfall layers whereas proximal sections include pyroclastic flows. Geyser-like fumaroles emitted a gas phase only, and extensive mud cracks indicated an 85 cm drop in the level of the crater lake. Prior to 1982, this relatively unknown volcano was heavily forested and of no greater height than adjacent nonvolcanic peaks. 1-2, p.81-96. Fumarolic activity continued but there was no evidence of any recent ash ejection. A magnitude 3 earthquake centered 20 km NE of El Chichón occurred 28 September at 0956 GMT. Inspection of a satellite image returned late 11 April showed a moderately dense cloud extending from México to just W of Hawaii, spreading from roughly 300 km wide near the Mexican coast to nearly 850 km near its distal end. . Casadevall, T., de la Cruz-Reyna, S., Rose, W., Bagley, S., Finnegan, D., and Zoller, W., 1984, Crater lake and post-eruption hydrothermal activity, El Chichón Volcano, México: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 23, p. 169-191. The powerful 1982 explosive eruptions of high-sulfur, anhydrite-bearing magma destroyed the summit lava dome and were accompanied by pyroclastic flows and surges that devastated an area extending about 8 km around the volcano. Table 3. The activity and appearance of El Chichón during 17-27 May resembled that observed in 1992 and 1993. The 1982 eruptions of El Chichón Volcano produced three major pumice- and ash-fall layers. The AD 540 eruption would have been much bigger, the Utrecht researcher said. In Pichucalco (~ 20 km NE of the summit) incandescent tephra could be seen rising from the volcano and the ash cloud darkened the sky during the morning as though it were night. The recession correlated with a deepening of color in the lake and may in part have been due to the end of the rainy season.". It is part of a minor volcanic belt called the Chiapanecan Volcanic Arc. Minor ash emission continued through early May but none has been reported since the 11th. No casualties were reported. Information Contacts: Dmitri Rouwet, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV-Palermo), Sezione di Palermo, Via Ugo La Malfa 153, CAP 90146, Palermo, Italy (URL: http://www.pa.ingv.it/); Agnes Mazot, Loic Peiffer, and Yuri Taran, Instituto de Geofisica, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Ciudad Universitaria, Circuito Exterior s/n, Col. Copilco, Del. Geotherm. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 6: 1-146. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. This means that is it vital to map all volcanoes in volcanically active regions to better understand their patterns of behavior. de la Cruz noted that smoke produced by the centuries-old practice of burning the remains of the corn plants after the harvest might have looked like eruption plumes on the satellite imagery, although corn is not the most common crop in the immediate vicinity of the volcano. [Details of the continuing dispersal of the stratospheric cloud are reported in Atmospheric Effects.]. A story passed down through several generations tells of frequent earthquakes, a drying river, and a sudden flood of boiling water that nearly wiped out the ancient culture. Petrologic characteristics of the 1982 and pre-1982 eruptive products of El Chichon Volcano, Chiapas, Mexico. Near the volcano, three separate layers were evident, ejected by explosions 28 March, 3 April (at 2000), and 4 April. The lake's surface maintained the same elevation in May 1996 and January 1997, but during the April 1998 visit it was 1 m higher. The expedition was made with helicopter support provided by the governments of the states of Tabasco and Chiapas. The surface temperature of the lake is very uniform, and even above the gas funnels did not exceed 35°C. One fumarole on the SW side of the crater had a temperature of 446°C. Photo: Soma Access Systems. No significant seismic activity has been recorded at El Chichón in recent months although some tectonic seismicity has occurred SE of the volcano. Armienta M A, De la Cruz-Reyna S, Macias J L, 2000. Geotherm. Geotherm. ; Romeo León Vidal, CFE, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, México. This is a view of the El Chichon caldera, formed during the very explosive eruptions of late March and early April of 1982. Satellite images showed renewed explosive activity early 3 April. Haze was widespread over central México, reducing visibility to about 8 km in México City ( ~ 650 km WNW of the volcano) and to only about 3 km in Tampico (~ 750 km NW of the volcano). The eruption was also reported to have killed most of the birds near the volcano. Evidence that enhanced El Niño events usually accompany major low‐latitude eruptions suggests a volcanic effect on global atmospheric transport, thus providing a climatic self‐healing effect. High H2S and NO in plume; slow diffusion of stratospheric cloud. A Bishop's Ring was first seen from Houston, Texas on 11 April and has been intermittently visible since. In March 2007 (figure 9) the lake contained the largest volume yet observed (~ 6 x 105 m3). The haze from the eruption reduced visibility to a few kilometers as far as 700 km from the volcano and produced vibrant sunsets around the world. At the time, Mexican officials estimated that over $55 million (equivalent to about $132 million in today's dollars) of damage was done to the coffee, cocoa and banana crops and cattle ranchers had to move their herds as pastureland was covered in ash as well. Some small accumulations of water remain associated with these deposits, but there have been no recent observations of large lakes such as the one that produced a fatal flood 26 May. Analysis of records from nearby seismic stations (the nearest at Ostoacán, 115 km NW) showed no increased seismicity. 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