Masaya

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  • Country
  • Subregion Name
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 11.984°N
  • 86.161°W

  • 635 m
    2083 ft

  • 344100
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

17 December-23 December 2008

Based on analysis of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that on 17 December a gas plume with possible ash rose to altitudes of 5.3-6.1 km (17,500-20,000 ft) a.s.l.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)



 Available Weekly Reports


2008: April | June | August | September | October | November | December
2007: April | June | December
2004: June
2003: October
2001: April | May


17 December-23 December 2008

Based on analysis of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that on 17 December a gas plume with possible ash rose to altitudes of 5.3-6.1 km (17,500-20,000 ft) a.s.l.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


26 November-2 December 2008

Based on analysis of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that on 2 December a plume possibly containing some ash drifted less than 20 km SW.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


29 October-4 November 2008

Based on analysis of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that on 4 and 5 November possible diffuse ash and steam plumes from Masaya drifted SW and S.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


8 October-14 October 2008

Based on pilot observations, the Washington VAAC reported that on 9 October an ash plume from Masaya rose to an altitude of 4.6 km (15,000 ft) and drifted NNE.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


10 September-16 September 2008

Based on analysis of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that plumes emitted from Masaya on 10 and 12 September possibly contained ash. Plumes drifted ENE on 10 September.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


13 August-19 August 2008

Based on analysis of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that a diffuse steam plume from Masaya drifted WSW on 12 August and a gas plume was detected on 18 August. Both plumes possibly contained ash.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


18 June-24 June 2008

INETER reported that on 18 June, an explosion from Masaya produced an ash-and-gas plume. Local people felt the explosion and reported that the plume was dark in color.

Source: Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER)


23 April-29 April 2008

Based on observations of satellite imagery and pilot observations, the Washington VAAC reported that an ash plume from Masaya rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW on 29 April.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


19 December-25 December 2007

Based on observations of satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported that a small and diffuse plume from Masaya drifted SW on 24 December. Changes in seismic signals correlated with the emission. The plume possibly contained ash.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


13 June-19 June 2007

The Washington VAAC reported that a plume from Masaya composed of little to no ash was visible on satellite imagery on 12 June.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


6 June-12 June 2007

The Washington VAAC reported a plume from Masaya composed of little to no ash was visible on satellite imagery on 9 June drifting W.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


25 April-1 May 2007

The Washington VAAC reported a steam plume from Masaya, visible on satellite imagery and a web camera, drifted WSW on 26 April.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


30 June-6 July 2004

On 4 July at 0615, a narrow plume of steam and/or ash from Masaya was visible on satellite imagery extending to the SW. By 0715 the plume extended ~12 km from the summit.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


1 October-7 October 2003

A pilot reported seeing an eruption cloud from Masaya on 4 October at 0731 at a height of ~4.6 km a.s.l. Satellite imagery showed a white plume emanating from the volcano, but there were no indications of ash, suggesting that the plume was composed mainly of gas and steam.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


23 May-29 May 2001

The Washington VAAC reported that Masaya may have erupted on 23 May at ~1300. Ground observations from the capital city of Managua, 20 km NW of the volcano, indicated that there was a reduction in visibility to the SE of the city due to volcanic "smoke" and steam. The presence of the ash cloud could not be confirmed on satellite imagery due to thunderstorms in the area.

Source: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


25 April-1 May 2001

INETER personnel reported that volcanic activity at Masaya decreased following the 23 April explosion. Small explosions were observed on 24 and 25 April, but by 27 April only the continuous emission of gas at normal levels was observed with few episodes of strong degassing. Likewise, after the 23 April explosion the level of SO2 emission decreased and normal levels of seismic activity were recorded. INETER warned that further explosions may occur that could affect areas near the crater (within ~500 m).

A tourist at the scene during the 23 April explosion stated that injuries were more serious than was reported either here or in news accounts. Over 100 tourists were near the crater when the explosion occurred, including infants and elderly persons. At least 15 people sustained injuries (bruises and cuts) and one person suffered a broken arm.

Source: Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER)


18 April-24 April 2001

At 1426 on 23 April a small explosion at Masaya's Santiago crater lasted for ~2 minutes and occurred in three phases. During the first phase volcanic gas under high pressure was explosively released and created a new vent in the bottom of Santiago crater. The eruption sent rock fragments up to 60 cm in diameter as far as 500 m from the crater. Several vehicles parked at a visitors platform near the crater were damaged by the ejecta and one person suffered minor injuries. During the second and third phases a mixture of hot volcanic gas, pieces of lava, and ash ignited dry vegetation near the crater. INETER personnel who monitored the seismic activity before the eruption and scientists from Cambridge University who were working in the crater one hour before the eruption did not notice any unusual activity at the volcano. INETER personnel monitored the volcano after the eruption and found that several small explosions, gas outbreaks, and minor collapses of the crater wall occurred. They warned that further explosions may occur that could affect areas near the crater (within ~500 m).

Sources: Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER), Associated Press


Summary of eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
2008 Jun 18 2008 Dec 17 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
2006 Aug 4 2006 Oct 25 (?) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
2005 Mar 4 (?) 2005 Mar 30 (?) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
[ 2004 Jul 4 ] [ 2004 Jul 4 ] Uncertain 1   Santiago
2003 Sep 22 (in or before) 2003 Dec 12 (?) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
2001 Apr 23 2001 Apr 25 (?) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1999 Nov 22 2000 Mar 2 (?) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1998 Sep 14 1998 Sep 14 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1997 Jun 3 (?) 1997 Nov 17 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1996 Dec 5 1996 Dec 5 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1993 Jun 16 1994 Nov (in or after) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1989 Feb 20 1989 Nov Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1987 Feb 15 1987 Feb 22 (in or after) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1965 Oct 10 (?) 1985 Apr (?) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1948 Sep 1948 Sep Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1946 Jun 1947 Dec (?) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1925 Apr Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Santiago
1919 1924 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Santiago
1918 Jan Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1913 Jul 12 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1906 Jan 2 1906 Jan 9 (in or after) Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Santiago and upper NE flank near El Pelón
1904 May 1904 Jun Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Santiago
1902 Jul 15 1903 Nov Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Santiago
1858 Nov 10 1859 Mar 27 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Santiago, San Pedro
[ 1858 Apr ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
1856 Dec 1857 Jan Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Santiago or San Pedro
1853 Apr 9 (?) 1853 Sep 15 (in or after) Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Santiago
1852 Jun 1852 Jul Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Between Masaya and Nindirí Craters
[ 1775 ] [ Unknown ] Discredited    
1772 Mar 16 1772 Mar 25 (?) Confirmed 2 Historical Observations North side of Old Masaya Crater
1670 Unknown Confirmed 3 Historical Observations Nindirí
[ 1613 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 0   Nindirí
[ 1586 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 0   Nindirí
1570 Unknown Confirmed 0 Historical Observations Nindirí
1551 Unknown Confirmed 0 Historical Observations Nindirí
1524 1544 (?) Confirmed 0 Historical Observations Nindirí
0150 (?) Unknown Confirmed 5 Tephrochronology Masaya Tuff
0170 BCE ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed 5 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Masaya Triple Layer
4050 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed 6 Tephrochronology NW of caldera, San Antonio Tephra

The following references are the sources used for data regarding this volcano. References are linked directly to our volcano data file. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title. Additional discussion of data sources can be found under Volcano Data Criteria.

Bice D C, 1980. Tephra stratigraphy and physical aspects of recent volcanism near Managua, Nicaragua. Unpublished PhD thesis, Univ Calif Berkeley, 422 p.

Bice D C, 1985. Quaternary volcanic stratigraphy of Managua, Nicaragua; correlation and source assignment for multiple overlapping plinian deposits. Geol Soc Amer Bull, 96: 553-566.

Branan Y K, Harris A, Watson I M, Phillips J C, Horton K, Williams-Jones G, Garbeil H, 2008. Investigation of at-vent dynamics and dilution using thermal infrared radiometers at Masaya volcano, Nicaragua. J Volc Geotherm Res, 169: 34-47.

Burton M R, Oppenheimer C, Horrocks L A, Francis P W, Polet J, Kanamori H, 2000. Remote sensing of CO2 and H2O emission rates from Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua. Geology, 28: 915-918.

Carr M J, 1984. Symmetrical and segmented variation of physical and geochemical characterisitics of the Central American volcanic front. J Volc Geotherm Res, 20: 231-252.

Costantini L, Bonadonna C, Houghton B F, Wehrmann H, 2009. New physical characterization of the Fontana Lapilli basaltic Plinian eruption, Nicaragua. Bull Volc, 71: 337-355.

Delmelle P, Stix J, Baxter P J, Garcia-Alvarez J, Barquero J, 2002. Atmospheric dispersion, environmental effects and potential health hazard associated with the low-altitude gas plume of Masaya volcano, Nicaragua. Bull Volc, 64: 423-434.

Duffell H J, Oppenheimer C, Pyle D M, Galle B, McGonigle A J S, Burton M R, 2003. Changes in gas composition prior to a minor explosive eruption at Masaya volcano, Nicaragua. J Volc Geotherm Res, 126: 327-339.

Freundt A, Kutterolf S, Schmincke H-U, Hansteen T, Wehrmann H, Perez W, Strauch W, Navarro M, 2006. Volcanic hazards in Nicaragua: past, present, and future. In: Rose W I, Bluth G J S, Carr M J, Ewert J W, Patino L C, Vallance J W (eds), Volcanic hazards in Central America, {Geol Soc Amer Spec Pap}, 412: 141-165.

Girard G, van Wyk de Vries B, 2005. The Managua Graben and Las Sierras-Masaya volcanic complex (Nicaragua): pull-apart localization by an intrusive complex: results from analog modeling. J Volc Geotherm Res, 144: 37-57.

Harris A J L, 2009. The pit-craters and pit-crater-filling lavas of Masaya volcano. Bull Volc, 71: 541-588.

Hradecky P, 1997. Estudio geologico para reconocimiento de riesgo natural y vulnerabilidad geologica en el area de Managua. Cesky Geologicky Ustav Praha, Instituto Nicaraguense de Estudios Territoriales, Managua (INETER), 81 p.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Incer J, 1970. Nuevo Geografia de Nicaragua. Mangua: Talere S de Editorial Recalde, 582 p.

Incer J, 1987. . (pers. comm.).

McBirney A R, 1956. The Nicaraguan volcano Masaya and its caldera. Eos, Trans Amer Geophys Union, 37: 83-96.

Mooser F, Meyer-Abich H, McBirney A R, 1958. Central America. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 6: 1-146.

Parsons Corporation, 1972. The Geology of Western Nicaragua. Nicaragua Tax Improvement and Natural Resources Inventory Project, Final Technical Rpt, v. IV.

Perez W, Freundt A, 2006. The youngest highly explosive basaltic eruptions from Masaya caldera (Nicaragua): stratigraphy and hazard assessment. In: Rose W I, Bluth G J S, Carr M J, Ewert J W, Patino L C, Vallance J W (eds), Volcanic hazards in Central America, {Geol Soc Amer Spec Pap}, 412: 189-207.

Perez W, Freundt A, Kutterolf S, Schmincke H-U, 2009. The Masaya Triple Layer: a 2100 year old basaltic multi-episodic plinian eruption from the Masaya caldera complex (Nicaragua). J Volc Geotherm Res, 179: 191-205.

Rymer H, van Wyk de Vries B, Stix J, Williams-Jones G, 1998. Pit crater structure and processes governing persistent activity at Masaya volcano, Nicaragua. Bull Volc, 59: 345-355.

Sapper K, 1925. The Volcanoes of Central America. Halle: Verlag Max Niemeyer, 144 p.

Schmincke H-U, Kutterolf S, Perez W, Rausch J, Freundt A , 2009. Walking through volcanic mud: the 2,100-year-old Acahualinca footprints (Nicaragua) I: Stratigraphy, lithology, volcanology and age of the Acahualinca section. Bull Volc, 71: 479-493.

Stix J, 2007. Stability and instability of quiescently active volcanoes: the case of Masaya, Nicaragua. Geology, 35: 535-538.

van Wyk de Vries B, 1993. Tectonics and magma evolution of Nicaraguan volcanic systems. Unpublished PhD thesis, Open Univ, Milton Keynes, 328 p.

Viramonte J G, Incer-Barquero J, 2008. Masaya, the "Mouth of Hell", Nicaragua: volcanological interpretation of the myths, legends and anecdotes. J Volc Geotherm Res, 176: 419-426.

Viramonte J G, Navarro Collado M, Malavasi Rojas E, 1997. Nicaragua-Costa Rica Quaternary volcanic chain. IAVCEI General Assembly, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, January 19-24, 1997, Fieldtrip Guidebook, 17 p.

Walker J A, Williams S N, Kalamarides R I, Feigenson M D, 1993. Shallow open-system evolution of basaltic magma beneath a subduction zone volcano: the Masaya Caldera Complex, Nicaragua. J Volc Geotherm Res, 56: 379-400.

Wehrmann H, Bonadonna C, Freundt A, Houghton B F, Kutterolf S, 2006. Fontana Tephra: a basaltic plinian eruption in Nicaragua. In: Rose W I, Bluth G J S, Carr M J, Ewert J W, Patino L C, Vallance J W (eds), Volcanic hazards in Central America, {Geol Soc Amer Spec Pap}, 412: 209-223.

Williams S N, 1983. Plinian airfall deposits of basaltic composition. Geology, 11: 211-214.

Williams-Jones G, Rymer H, Rothery D A, 2003. Gravity changes and passive SO2 degassing at the Masaya caldera complex, Nicaragua. J Volc Geotherm Res, 123: 137-160.

Masaya is one of Nicaragua's most unusual and most active volcanoes. Masaya lies within the massive Pleistocene Las Sierras pyroclastic shield volcano and is a broad, 6 x 11 km basaltic caldera with steep-sided walls up to 300 m high. The caldera is filled on its NW end by more than a dozen vents that erupted along a circular, 4-km-diameter fracture system. The twin volcanoes of Nindirí and Masaya, the source of historical eruptions, were constructed at the southern end of the fracture system and contain multiple summit craters, including the currently active Santiago crater. A major basaltic plinian tephra was erupted from Masaya about 6500 years ago. Historical lava flows cover much of the caldera floor and have confined a lake to the far eastern end of the caldera. A lava flow from the 1670 eruption overtopped the north caldera rim. Masaya has been frequently active since the time of the Spanish Conquistadors, when an active lava lake prompted attempts to extract the volcano's molten "gold." Periods of long-term vigorous gas emission at roughly quarter-century intervals cause health hazards and crop damage.