As much as I’d like a plinian eruption at some remote volcano to write about, that’s just not happening today. The planet has been seismically quite interesting of over the last couple weeks, with some volcanoes getting our attention, like Cerro Machin and Ruiz in Columbia, Katla in Iceland as well as Tambora in Indonesia, but so far nothing really exciting has happened at any of them. Volcanoes do things in their own good geologic time. Popo was puffing a lot until yesterday, when the PopoCam showed it doing pretty much nothing, and the KatlaCam seems to be down right now, so we can’t watch that.


A few days ago my attention was called to activity at Yellowstone, when one of my readers here pointed out activity at the Madison River seismograph there about which he may have been a bit alarmed.

Well I have to admit that while dividing my time between all the world’s volcanoes I’d not been paying a lot of attention to Yellowstone, that is until an unusual event in that area got my attention, but since then I’ve watched the YMR station, and the activity there seen by my erstwhile corespondent would seem to by cyclical, occurring at about the same time every day for the same length of time each day, which is not surprising as the area contains three geyser basins, among which is Old Faithful, well known for it’s cycle of gushers.

Whether or not the current seismic activity shown there on the YMR station is more than normal or elevated I can’t say as I’d not been monitoring that particular station on a regular basis until recently. There is a domed fracture zone there, and there have been signs of increased pressure and probably ground uplift in the park as well, but nothing to suggest an approaching eruption. I’d very much like to see InSAR data for the last couple weeks, but the newest of that I can find online is over ten years old.


News from remote places in Indonesia, such as Sumbawa, comes slowly and there are no web accessible seismographs at Tambora, or webcams, so we have to wait for local authorities there to update us. All I’ve able to find on Tambora is that it’s at the second highest alert level, and evacuation routes have been established. I’ve been asked if I knew of any webcams there, and gosh I really wish I did. The last update from there was on the 9th at Badan Geologi, but I’m sure that if Tambora does something interesting we will know about it in short order.


After the quake on the 9th I was watching Rainier and St. Helens for signs that they felt it, and they did seem to. The quake registered on the seismographs at each, and afterward I saw some activity that I’d not seen before. I’ve not seen it since there, but something very like it occurred at St. Helens not long after that.  At Rainer and St. Helens both it showed on only one station, and then went away. Well good. Some think it might have been wind, or glacial activity, and it might well have been. I did see some larger than usual blips on the radar after the 9th, but nothing to be overly concerned about.

St. Helens

There is work going on at St. Helens and a couple of the stations in the crater are down there, VALT and NED which are up near the lava dome are offline for now, and I am told:

“A tree snafu is causing a delay in finalizing of the new CVO microwave link
to MSH, so VALT, STD.BH*, NED, and SUG will be offline for another 24 hours
or so. Details below…..”
All should be well soon.

That was on the 14th, so I guess they are still working on things there, including the moving and reconfiguring of the router. Many thanks to Bill Steele for the update.

The June Lake seismo at St. Helens has been showing some very odd traces over the last month, that don’t look at all like seismic activity:

JUN seismo-weirdness

I’ve seen this same thing before on seismographs, but I’m not at all sure what it is or what causes it, I can only guess. I’ve written around asking about it, but so far all I’ve been told is that maybe there’s some kind of malfunction causing these kinds of readings. If anyone knows more please do tell.


I’ve learned not to trust what I see on the seismographs at Vesuvius at all. Over the last year it’s become apparent that the OVO V and BKE V stations there are plagued with radio noise and telemetry issues, and what is put out online as seismic data from there is very unreliable, being polluted with radio noise to a great extent. I’ve written them there about this numerous times but have never heard a thing back.

Vesuvius BKE V Sept 18 2011

You may notice that the “events” shown here all look pretty much the same, and I’m pretty sure it’s because they are all the same routine radio traffic in the area, probably some periodic automated transmission, and being picked up and put on on the web as seismic data, which it’s clearly not. This has been going on a very long time, and writing them gets me nothing at all back. There are six seismographs available online at Vesuvius Observatory, but I don’t trust the two on the volcano itself because of this issue.

SGG V Sept 18 2011 quake

On the SGG V seismograph there for yesterday, which I’ve not observed radio noise on, we see this seemingly significant event, but I don’t see anything about it anywhere else, so I’m really not sure what to make of it. The SGG V station is about 15 miles north of Vesuvius near Caserta. Since the trace of the event is trimmed here the magnitude is hard to tell. You may recall that the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius followed 12 years after a major quake in Italy, which is why seeing this gets my attention, but again, nothing anywhere else about it. We don’t see a separate P wave here, so if it is an actual quake it was right near that seismograph station, though it might not have been anything given the reliability of what’s online for data from there. Don’t bother writing them, they will just ignore you.


In general seismographs in the Aleutians are troubled by telemetry issues and radio noise much as are those in Italy, although, unlike Italy, you actually can write them and get some information back and they will actually tell you so. Over the last week or so the seismos at the far west end of the Aleutian arc have been down, which shouldn’t be surprising considering conditions there. High winds, serious seasonal cold, and rugged terrain make that a very challenging place to work and monitor volcanoes in.

Redoubt 09-18-11

Gareloi, Tanaga, Kanaga, and Great Sitkin seismographs were offline for a while, and while their displays are back up they show no data as yet. We do see data for Redoubt, which while currently asleep is snoring a bit loud.

High winds in the Aleutians very often obscure seismic data from there, this has been particularly true of Gareloi in the past, but you can usually tell what’s wind and what’s not there. Iliamna shows what appears to be radio noise, perhaps from air traffic, and many breaks in the data displayed from there.


Nevado del Ruiz still has some activity going on and might yet become more active. There was quite a lot of seismic activity there in the Ruiz-Tolima massif last week with some quite serious seismicity at Cerro Machin, which was reported to be roaring and shaking the area. Activity at Machin subsided somewhat after that, but I don’t think it’s done yet, this morning we find this:

Cerro Machin 09-18-11

So Machin is still rumbling inside, although not so much as earlier. Galeras seems very quiet as it has been for a long time now. Cerro Bravo is shaking a bit this morning:

Cerro Bravo CERN SHM OM 09-18-11

Updates will be added here if anything interesting develops.


About Martina Vaslovik

Volcano nerd and seismogeek
This entry was posted in Columbia, Galeras volcano, Nevado del Ruiz, Redoubt volcano, Tambora, Uncategorized, Volcanology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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