Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Is Nicaraguas Cerro Negro Awakening?


Reports are coming in from the Smithsonian GVP about increased seismicity at Cerro Negro, a very young pyroclastic cone in Nicaragua's state of Leon. Cerro Negro is the youngest of several cinder cones in the region, and one of the newest volcanoes of South America. Since its birth in 1850, it has been one of Nicaragua's most active volcanoes generating frequent ash fall and lava flows.

The statement from the Smithsonian GVP on social media is:

"Yesterday the Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), reported elevated seismicity and the onset of tremor. RSAM had increased approximately 7 times the average value (of 14 to 60 units). Our last GVP Monthly report noted that from 2005 to 2011, RSAM rarely reached above 30 units (

INETER issued recommendations to municipal and civil defense authorities to restrict access to the volcano due to changed seismicity. Between 15:35 and 17:31 yesterday, a total of 49 small magnitude EQs were detected, however, they were too small to locate."

The post was accompanied by a picture (below) of the current seismograph that has scientists alerting the area to the possibility of an eruption.

The Smithsonian GVP characterizes Cerro Negro as last having erupted in 1999, and had seismic episodes up until around 2003. Since then it has remained relatively quiet.

Image from Google Earth showing the latest satellite photos of Cerro Negro, Nicaragua. 
If Cerro Negro does erupt, it will likely not be a danger to the general population, aside from fine ash fall in the near cities. People in the area would be well-advised to stay indoors if this were to occur, or wear breathing masks and googles outside. Volcanic ash consists of very fine glass-like particles that can cause severe respiratory distress (due to your lungs being cut up) and can cause severe eye irritation and damage for the same reasons. The ash fall would likely not travel for too far in this case, as it is much denser than say, the ash erupted at Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, which generated fine ash due to its lava colliding with ice.

If Cerro Negro erupts, I'll try and update this post with some pictures and/or webcam links!

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