Santa Maria and Santiaguito, Guatemala

Location: 14.8N, 91.5W
Elevation: 12,372 feet (3,772 m)

Last update: April 27, 2004

Santa Maria, the 1902 crater, and Santiaguito (foreground). Photograph copyrighted and provided by Steve O'Meara of Volcano Watch International. The first historic eruption of Santa Maria was the second largest (VEI=6) volcanic eruption in this century. It was the third large explosive eruption in 1902. Mount Pelee and Soufriere of St. Vincent erupted six months earlier. Santa Maria is a stratovolcano made of basaltic andesite. The 1902 eruption of Santa Maria lasted 19 days and produced 1.3 cubic miles (5.5 cubic km) of dacite pyroclastic debris. The largest plinian eruption was on October 25 and produced a column about 16 miles (28 km) high. The eruption formed a large crater in the southwest flank of the volcano. From 1903 to 1913 the volcano was active in the crater of the 1902 eruption. Small explosive eruptions occurred at a crater lake.


April 27, 2004

Again ~1km-high gas-and-ash plumes rose from the lava dome. Also small avalanches of incandescent volcanic material regularly occurred.

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


April 20, 2004

Regular activity consisted of several small plume explosions and avalanches of incandescent lava.

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


April 6, 2004

Volcanic activity remained similar to last week. On April 1, a significant explosion produced a partial dome collapse, which turned into a 4-km long pyroclastic flow.

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


March 30, 2004

Santiaguito lava dome was the site of several weak to moderate explosions. The plumes produced rose 1 km high and repeatedly deposited ashes in surrounding villages. On March 25, the S flank of the Caliente dome partially shed its outer crust which flowed to the SE as avalanches of incandescent material. On the 28th a lahar began to flow down the Nimá I river, the next day acticity was increased and a lahar also flowed down Nimá II rivers.

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


March 23, 2004

Activity remained unchanged at Santiagito lava dome where several weak-to-moderate explosions produced ash-and-gas plumes up to ~1.5 km above the crater. Ashfalls in nearby areas were occasionally reported. Variable avalanches of incandescent volcanic material traveled down S and SW from the lava dome and on March 10 and 17 partial lava-dome collapses produced pyroclastic flows down the volcano's flanks.

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


February 24, 2004

Plumes rising 0.7-1 km above Santiaguito lava-dome complex continue to occur. On February 23, avalanches of lava blocks were produced on the SW side of the dome. Friction between the blocks in the avalanche produced significant ashes.

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


February 10, 2004

During the last three weeks, weak-to-moderate explosions continued at Santiaguito lava-dome complex. Avalanches of blocks of lava and ash descended the S and SW flanks of Caliente dome and explosions produced low-level ash plumes sometimes visible on satellite images.

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


January 20, 2004

The edge of the crater collapsed following a moderate explosion at Santiguito lava dome on the morning of January 15. Volcanic material traveled down the volcano's SW flank, and ash fell on the observatory and property near the volcano. On January 19 renewed activity produced avalanches from the lava dome.

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


January 13, 2004

The activity at Santa Maria's Santiagito dome complex remained unchanged

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


December 30, 2003

Weak-to-moderate explosions continued at Santiaguito lava dome and ash-and-gas plumes rose 500-700 m. The ashes drifted SW like the avalanches produced at the lava flow fronts.

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


December 23, 2003

Weak-to-moderate explosions occurred at Santiaguito lava dome and the plumes drifted mainly S and SE. Nearly constant avalanches of volcanic debris traveled S and SW from the fronts of lava flows. Retalhuleu airport reported a minor ash emission from Santiaguito on December 18, but it was not visible on satellite images.

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


December 16, 2003

Weak-to-moderate explosions continued at Santiaguito lava dome. On December 10, ash mainly drifted SE toward the areas of Sana María de Jesús and las Majadas. At the S and SW fronts of the lava flows, avalanches were generated. On December 12, ash clouds were visible on satellite imagery at a height of ~4.5 km drifting SW.

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


December 9, 2003

From Dec. 7-9, frequent, small explosive eruptions sent ash less than 1 km high and dispersed it to the NW. Moderate-sized avalanches from the S and SE sides of the dome were also reported.

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


December 2, 2003

On the 28th, several explosions at the Santiaguito lava dome occurred. Block and ash avalanches and pyroclastic flows (generated by at least 5 collapses of the crater's S edge) were observed. On the 1st, ash emissions and nearly constant avalanches occurred.

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


November 25, 2003

On Nov. 18 and 23, small eruptions at the volcano's lava dome produced tephra fall. Also, on the 18th, small avalanches were reported. Then, 6 days later, 5 explosive events produced a gas and ash plume that rose 2 km high.

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


November 18, 2003

Several weak-to-moderate eruptions occurred at the volcano's lava dome. Plumes rose ~700 m and, on the 16th, one distinct narrow plume was visible on satellite imagery extending ~35 km W.

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


November 4, 2003

On Oct. 30, 3 small collapses were reported at Santa María's crater edge. Moderate to weak explosions and 2 to 3-minute long avalanches were reported. On the 31st, low-level plumes were visible on satellite imagery.

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


October 28, 2003

Several moderate explosions and block-and-ash avalanches were reported at Santa María as of Oct. 24. On the 26th, a small eruption produced a plume that extended ~20 km W.

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


October 21, 2003

The lava dome produced moderate explosions on the 17th and was accompanied by block and ash flows. Also, a strong explosion on the 16th (1745) caused a portion of the crater to collapse and a pyroclastic flow was formed.

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


October 14, 2003

Yesterday an ash and steam plume rose ~6.7 km a.s.l.

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


September 30, 2003

Observation of satellite images revealed an ash plume emitted from the lava dome on the 28th. It rose to ~4.3 km above seal level.

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


February 18, 2003

On the 16th and 17th, explosions from the lava dome produced 600 m-high ash plumes.
This information was summarized from the GVP/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report



In 1922, a dacite lava dome, called Santiaguito, began growing in the crater. Santiaguito has been continuously active since 1922. Rose (1973) described the evolution of Santiaguito. From 1922 to 1972 there were four periods of rapid extrusion separated by periods of little magma production. Growth of the dome has produced pyroclastic flows. Photograph of Santiaguito on November 10, 1994, copyrighted and provided by Steve O'Meara of Volcano Watch International.


In May of 1992, explosive eruptions at Santiaguito produced columns 1,500 - 6,000 feet (500-2,000 m) high. The above photo shows an eruption column on November 26, 1992. Photograph copyrighted and provided by Steve O'Meara of Volcano Watch International.


Santiaguito (bottom left), Santa Maria, and the town of Quezaltenango (top). Photograph copyrighted and provided by Steve O'Meara of Volcano Watch International.

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

Because of the high risk to people living near Santa Maria the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI)designated it a Decade Volcano. On November 7-13, 1993 an international workshop on Santa Maria was held in Guatemala. The final report of the workshop is available by clicking here.

More Images of Santiaquito

GOES Hotspot Images


Sources of Information:

Global Volcanism Network, 1992, Summary of Recent Activity: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 55, p. 141.

McClelland, L., Simkin, T., Summers, M., Nielsen, E., and Stein, T.C., 1989, Global Volcanism 1975-1985: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 655 p.

Mercado, R., Rose, W.I., Matias, O., and Giron, J., 1988, November 1929 dome collapse and pyroclastic flow at Santiaguito dome, Guatemala: Eos, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, v. 69, p. 1487.

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

Rose, W.I., 1987, Santa Maria, Guatemala: bimodal soda-rich calc-alkaline stratovolcano: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 33, p. 109-129.

Rose, W.I., 1987, Volcanic activity at Santiaguito volcano, 1976-1984: Geological Society of America Special Paper, 212, p. 17-27.

Rose, W.I., 1973, Pattern and mechanism of volcanic activity at Santiaguito volcanic dome, Guatemala: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 37, p. 73-94.

Rose, W.I., 1972, Notes on the 1902 eruption of Santa Maria volcano, Guatemala: Bulletin of Volcanology, v. 36, p. 29-45.

Simkin, T., and Siebert, L., 1994, Volcanoes of the World: Geoscience Press, Tucson, Arizona, 349 p.

Williams, S.N., and Self, S., 1983, The October 1902 Plinian eruptions of Santa Maria volcano, Guatemala: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 16, p. 33-56.



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