Fuego, Guatemala

Location: 14.5N, 90.9W
Elevation: 12,342 feet (3,763)

Last Updated: April 27, 2004

Simplified tectonic map. Subduction of the Cocos Plate beneath the Caribbean Plate produces the Central American arc. The arc is defined by the line of volcanoes (black triangles). Modified from Duffield and others (1989).

Fuego has erupted more than 60 times since 1524, making it Central America's historically most active volcano. Three of these eruptions caused fatalities. Typically, violent vulcanian eruptions last a few ho urs to several days and produce pyroclastic flows. This photo shows Fuego (foreground) and Acatenango (background). Photograph copyrighted and provided by Steve O'Meara of Volcano Watch International.

The most recent large eruptions at Fuego were in October of 1974. Over a ten day period there were four distinct pulses in vulcanian activity, each lasting 4-17 hours. An ash cloud shot more than 4 miles (7 km) above the volcano. Glowing avalanches mov ed down the slopes of Fuego at 35 miles per hour (60 km/hr). Atmospheric effects were reported for months following the eruption.

There are active fumaroles in the crater at the summit.

Fuego (left) and Pacaya (right), November 10, 1994. Photograph copyrighted and provided by Steve O'Meara of Volcano Watch International.

Michigan Tech University's Volcanoes page contains detailed information about Fuego.


April 27, 2004

This week, several small avalanches of volcanic material occurred toward Santa Teresa Ravine and weak explosions produced ~1-km-high gas-and-steam clouds.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


April 20, 2004

Volcanic activity remained similar at Fuego; on April 16 , a large gas-and-ash plume rose to ~2 km above the crater and extended S. In the following days, smaller explosions occurred and incandescent material was visible up to 50 m above the vent.
This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


April 13, 2004

This week, lava flowed an extra 100 m from the central crater. Also, a few weak-to-moderate explosions produced plumes less than 1 km high on April 12.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


April 6, 2004

This week, the activity was characterized by weak explosions and three stronger explosions (one on the 26th and 2 on the 29th at 7 min. interval) which produced 1-km high gas-and-ash plumes. The Zanjón Barranca Seca and Trinidad ravines were devasted by these events; avalanches of incandescent volcanic debris occurred in both valleys on the 26th, and lahar flowed down the Zanjón Barranca Seca on the 29th & 30th.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


March 23, 2004

In March, moderate-to-strong explosions produced ash plumes to a maximum height of 1.7 km above the volcano. Ashes were occasionally deposited in the nearby villages of of Morelia, Sangre de Cristo and Panimaché. Some explosions also produced incandescent avalanches of volcanic material that traveled down a few valleys, especially the Seca Ravine.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


February 24, 2004

In the last two weeks several moderate-to-strong explosions produced ash plumes rising up to 1.8 km above the crater. Some of these explosions produced landslides of incandescent material that traveled down several ravines on the SW and W flanks. Small amounts of fine ash were deposited in nearby villages.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


February 10, 2004

Volcanic activity continues with the occurrence of several ash-and-gas plumes rising up to ~1 km high. Some of these explosions also generated incandescent avalanches that traveled toward the Seca (to the W), Trinidad, and Taniluyá (to the SW) ravines. On January 31, two small collapses in the S edge of the central crater produced small avalanches of lava blocks.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


January 27, 2004

Weak-to-moderate explosions, that sent plumes to ~700 m above the crater, continued to occur. On the evening of January 22, two strong explosions produced ~1.5-km plumes and incandescent avalanches that traveled a maximum distance of 1 km toward Zanjón Barranca Seca, La Trinidad, and Río Ceniza ravines. No ash fell in populated regions.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


January 13, 2004

An ash emission on the afternoon of January 8 rose to ~3 km above the volcano. 25-30 explosions occurred per minute loud rumbling noises were heard. Plumes and a relatively strong hotspot were visible on satellite images. No evacuations were ordered.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


January 6, 2004

During 1-5 January, new lava flowed 70-100 m from the crater and avalanches traveling W from the flow front were produced. Nearly continuous harmonic tremors with moderate frequency and amplitude were recorded.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


December 30, 2003

Today, small-to-moderate explosions produced plumes containing little ash that rose to low levels above Fuego. Small avalanches of volcanic debris traveled W toward Santa Teresa ravine and toward Trinidad ravine.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


December 23, 2003

This week low-level ash plumes were produced that drifted SE and W. Avalanches of volcanic debris traveled down the volcano's W and SW flanks.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


December 16, 2003

Some weak explosions produced ash clouds that rose 200-1,000 m above the volcano. Explosions and avalanches on December 16th sent volcanic debris W and SW towards Taniluya and Santa Teresa ravines. Airplanes were asked to avoid the area near the volcano due to ash in the atmosphere.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


December 9, 2003

From Dec. 7-9, moderate to strong explosions sent ash .5 km high and distributed it to the N. Incandescent avalanches were also observed.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


December 2, 2003

From Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, moderate to weak explosions produced 700-900 m-high gas and ash plumes. Harmonic tremor and avalanches of volcanic material also occurred. On the 1st, incandescence was seen in several places.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


November 25, 2003

Small explosive eruptions produced 1.2 km-high gas and ash plumes. Moderate-sized avalanches and night-time incandescence were reported. Harmonic tremor was also recorded on the 23rd and 24th.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


November 11, 2003

On the 4th, moderate explosions sent material 150 m above the crater's rim and, later that night, crater glow and incandescent avalanches were observed. Shock waves from the explosions were audible at distance.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


October 21, 2003

On Oct. 17 a 33-minute-long explosive eruption occurred and produced an ~1.5 km-high gas and ash plume. A small incandescent avalanche descended the Santa Teresa ravine during one of the earthquakes.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


October 14, 2003

On October 9, emitted ash rose to a height of ~4.6 km a.s.l.


September 30, 2002

On the 28th, two separate ash plumes were emitted from Fuego. The first one occurred at 0500 and spread over a radius of 5 km. The second one was emitted between 0815 and 0832, and rose ~ 6 km a.s.l.,.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


August 12, 2003

A small ash emission on 7 August was visible on satellite imagery and the ash cloud drifted NW and covered an area about 3.5 by 3.5 km.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report



July 15, 2003

On 9 July the lava dome collapsed, producing pyroclastic flows. After the collapse, strong explosions sent ash to ~2 km above the volcano's summit that was visible on satellite images.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


July 8, 2003

After the June 29th eruption, weak-to-moderate explosions produced ash clouds to ~900 m above the volcano and seismographs mainly recorded tremor. Pyroclastic-flow material extended ~1.5 km down the volcano's W flank. Fuego was at Alert Level Yellow and pilots were advised to avoid flying near the volcano.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


July 1, 2003

A moderate eruption began at Fuego on June 29; lava flows were seen, and ash fell S and SW of the volcano. The next day, lava flows were still visible and an ash plume was W of the summit. Both days a hot spot was visible on satellite images, but not an ash cloud.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


May 6, 2003

Following a 7 km (above sea level) ash plume in the last days of April, more small eruptions led to ash clouds visible through satellite images.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


April 29, 2003

On the 28th, intermittent ash eruptions were observed. One cloud in particular reached heights of ~7 km a.s.l.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


January 21, 2003
As of Jan. 19, moderate eruptions produced 2 km-high ash clouds (above the summit). Also, incandescent avalanches were seen traveling down the volcano's flanks.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


January 14, 2003

On Jan. 8 (0500), an eruption at Fuego sent a steam and ash cloud 5.7 km above sea level. Ash explosions, lava flow emissions and 2 pyroclastic flows were observed. The Alert Level was raised to Orange and then lowered back toYellow the following day.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


December 30, 2002

On Dec. 26 (0905), an explosive eruption and partial crater collapse sent an ash cloud ~2 km above the volcano.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


December 30, 2002

From Dec. 9-15, seismicity was higher than normal and the number of shallow earthquakes increased while the number of deep ones decreased. During the 16th-22nd, seismicity remained high, but fewer earthquakes were recorded. The Alert Level for Guntur was raised to 2.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


August 20, 2002

On July 16th eruptive activity began a new cycle with an increase in Strombolian explosions and the occurrence of high-frequency volcanic tremor for 24 hours. Explosions changed from Strombolian to Vulcanian on August 2nd, ash columns rose 800-1400 meters above the crater and avalanches of volcanic blocks traveled down the volcano's flanks.

This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report


February 19, 2002

A 2-km long lava flow was observed on February 12th. The lava is flowing towards an unpopulated area. Several shelters have been set up for prevention. The volcano remained at Alert Level Yellow.

This information was summarized from the Smithsonian Institution's Preliminary Notices of Volcanic Activity


February 12, 2002

On February 10th there were more than 400 explosions reported as compared to the 75 explosions that normally occur. In the evenings, there was incandescent lava seen flowing down the south flank of the volcano.

This information was summarized from the Smithsonian Institution's Preliminary Notices of Volcanic Activity.


January 29, 2002

Observations taken during the week revealed that Fuego was erupting a lava flow, which stretched several hundred meters below the summit before falling apart on steep slope, down its East flank. The volume was not sufficient to generate pyroclastic flows and there was no explosive activity observed.

This information was summarized from the Smithosonian Institution's Preliminary Notices of Volcanic Activity.


January 15, 2002

On January 4th around 02:00 am (local time) a Stombolian-type eruption began. There were intermittent mild-to-moderate explosions that produced ash clouds up to 400-600 meters above the cone, but no lava was visible. The eruption lasted until at least January 9th.

This information was summarized from the Smithsonian Institution's Preliminary Notices of Volcanic Activity.


December 14, 2000

On 9 December, a small eruption occured at the Fuego Volcano sending ash to 4 km a.s.l. (near summit level). Guatemala's Instituto National de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hidrologia reported the volcano had shown increased instability with several explosions.

This information was summarized from Smithsonian's Volcanic Activity Report.


September 22, 2000

On 21 September, a large cloud of ash was expelled from the Fuego Volcano. Authorities have issued an orange alert and are considering plans to evacuate nearby residents.

This information was summarized from Discovery Online.


September 5, 2000

On 4 September, the Fuego Volcano erupted and sent a 2,600 foot column of ash and smoke into the air. Aviation warnings have been issued for the area.

This information was summarized from Discovery Online.


July 26, 1999

On 19 July, the Fuego Volcano experienced a small ash eruption. A hotspot was noted on satellite imagery.

This information was summarized from the Smithsonian Institution's Preliminary Notices of Volcanic Activity.


Additional Information