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Pagan Volcano Erupts

Posted by feww on April 18, 2009

Pagan Volcano on Pagan, Northern Mariana Islands, Erupts

Pagan Volcano on Pagan, Northern Mariana Islands, about 500 km north of Guam, erupted on Friday sending smoke and steam into the atmosphere.

The US national weather service issued a haze alert for the Mariana Islands after Pagan  erupted on Friday. NWS said residents in Guam have nothing to worry about [for now] as winds are driving the smoke away from Guam.

If the wind direction changes, however, ash and haze may be redirected toward populated islands of Saipan and Guam SSW of the Marianas.

The Pagan volcano is believed to have erupted seven times since 1985. [See: Pagan Eruptive History]


Country: United States
Region: Mariana Islands, Pacific Ocean (East of Philippine Sea)
Volcano Type: Stratovolcanoes
Last Known Eruption: 2006
Summit Elevation: 570 m (1,870 feet)
Latitude: 18.13°N (18°8’0″N)
Longitude: 145.80°E (145°48’0″E)

Pagan Island, the largest and one of the most active of the Mariana Islands volcanoes, consists of two stratovolcanoes connected by a narrow isthmus. Both North and South Pagan stratovolcanoes were constructed within calderas, 7 and 4 km in diameter, respectively. The 570-m-high Mount Pagan at the NE end of the island rises above the flat floor of the northern caldera, which probably formed during the early Holocene. South Pagan is a 548-m-high stratovolcano with an elongated summit containing four distinct craters. Almost all of the historical eruptions of Pagan, which date back to the 17th century, have originated from North Pagan volcano. The largest eruption of Pagan during historical time took place in 1981 and prompted the evacuation of the sparsely populated island. Photo by Norm Banks, 1983 (U.S. Geological Survey). Caption: GVP.

Northern Mariana Islands

Made up of fifteen islands, the Northern Mariana Islands are located east of the  Philippine Sea about 500 km north of Guam, with a population of about 82,000 (most recent estimate).  Only three of the islands, Rota, Saipan (the largest island and capital of Northern Mariana islands with a population of about 65,000) and Tinian have a significant population, compared with the islands of Agrihan and Alamagan, which have just a few residents. The  remaining ten islands are unpopulated.

Map of the Northern Mariana Islands by the US Department of Interior.

Pagan Erupted in 2006 – GVP Archives (6-12 December 2006)

During 4-5 December, residents 3 km SW of Pagan reported ashfall that accumulated in their camp at a rate of about 6.4 mm per day. They also described a plume from the summit that rose to an altitude of 640 m (2,100 ft) a.s.l. and a sulfur smell that occasionally wafted through their camp. Based on satellite imagery, the Washington VAAC reported a gas-and-ash plume that drifted mainly W on 5, 6, and 8 December. Satellite imagery showed no further activity through 11 December.

Pagan Erupted in 1981

A fissure that formed during an eruption of Pagan volcano in the Mariana Islands in 1981 cuts across the summit of the volcano. Three principal vents were active along the fissure. A cinder cone (foreground) was constructed on the north flank, and vents on the north and south rims of the summit crater fed lava flows that traveled down the flanks of North Pagan volcano. This June 16, 1981 photo shows South Pagan volcano at the upper right. Photo by U.S. Navy, 1981. Caption: GVP.

Posted in Agrihan, Alamagan, Guam, Tinian, volcanism | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »