John Seach's Lopevi activity report

Activity during February 2000. At 1422 on 3 February an ash cloud was reported up to 4,500 m
  over the island. Between 0507 and 0520 on 18 February a Vanair pilot reported an ash cloud initially as
  high as 9 km and then around 4.8 km altitude. A plume was identified on infrared and early morning visible
  satellite imagery, but there was considerable cloudiness in the area. Activity was continuing as of 0602 on
  19 February, with an ash plume to ~5.5 km altitude. Convective activity through the day rapidly obscured
  any traces of the ash plume on satellite imagery. Analyses indicated that the plume may have contained
  significant ash that was expected to move ESE-SE and extend to 370 km. Due to the convective activity
  pilots were advised to respond as though the plume was rising to ~9 km altitude. However, another pilot
  report at 0621 indicated that activity had ceased.
       According to John Seach, around midday on 19 February villagers on the neighboring island of
  Paama heard two loud explosions from the volcano; the second was the loudest heard in two years. This
  was followed by a brown ash cloud rising to ~4.5 km altitude visible from an aircraft en route from Sydney to
  Hawaii. Ashfalls occurred on Paama. A pyroclastic flow from the NW-flank crater (figure x1) traveled 2.5 km
  SW and reached the sea along a 300-m-wide front, where it created a delta. Blocks of 4 m in diameter
  were carried down to sea level. A 3-m-diameter block 50 m from the sea had a surface temperature of

  Trees buried in the ash were only visible as circular, black smoking areas when observed on 23
  February. On the edge of the pyroclastic-flow deposit trees 0.5 m in diameter were snapped off 2 m from
  the ground (figure x2); some were upturned and redeposited in the ash. Standing devastated trees were
  burnt to a height of 18 m and debris was lodged in the canopy. Some fallen trees were still burning. Within
  20 m of the edge of the pyroclastic-flow deposit were fallen devastated trees, and standing burnt trees were
  present for another 10 m beyond that. Observers were forced back when ground temperatures (over
  200°C) melted boots. The air was filled with the smell of burnt trees and sulphur. Coconuts superheated and
  exploded. Sap in smaller branches boiled and formed bubbles on the outside of the branch.

  The active NW crater (figure x3) was climbed by Seach and Geoff Mackley on 23 and 24 February
  2000. A lava dome was present on the SW crater rim from where the pyroclastic flow had originated along
  a 100-m-wide front. Lighter colored deposits marked its track down the volcano. On the N edge of the
  pyroclastic-flow deposit and 200 m below the NW crater was the source of a debris avalanche. A debris
  volume on the order of a million cubic meters had moved, exposing a large hole and producing two
  branching flows that moved ~250 m SW towards the sea. A new 150-m-high cinder cone formed inside the
  old crater was smoking with blue and white vapor being emitted. Ground temperature was 81°C at the base
  of the cinder cone. A two-week-old flank lava flow was observed to have traveled 1.5 km WNW to an
  elevation 250 m below the NW crater, burning trees and vegetation.

  Additional eruptions during March and April 2000. Another minor eruption on 15 March sent ash
  to 1,500 m, where it mixed with meteorological clouds. A stronger eruption began on 21 March with ash
  reported to 2,700 m altitude along with steam to 450 m. Activity increased the next day, when the plume
  was reported to be at levels of 4,200-4,500 m. The eruption continued during 23-24 March with plumes
  rising to altitudes of about 2,400 m.
       A pilot report around 1100 on 24 April indicated a very dark-brown ash cloud rising from the volcano
  to an altitude of ~4,800 m and drifting NW. The report also noted that a new vent on the W side was
  emitting lava. A notice to aviators stated that they should expect ash to 5,400 m altitude within 550 km in the
  NW quadrant of the volcano. Ash warnings to aviators in the late morning and night of 25 April indicated that
  ash and lava continued to be emitted from the W vent. Pilot reports indicated that the height of the ash cloud
  was difficult to determine due to cloud cover, but was at least to 600 m altitude. The ash appeared to be
  thinning out beyond 18 km W of the volcano, but the extent of the plume could not be determined from
  satellite imagery. A notice at 2155 on 26 April stated that no further visual activity reports had been
  received since 25 April.
       Background. The small 7-km-wide conical island of Lopevi is one of Vanuatu's most active
  volcanoes. A small summit crater containing a cinder cone is breached to the NW and tops an older cone
  that is rimmed by the remnant of a larger crater. The basaltic-to-andesitic volcano has been active during
  historical time at both summit and flank vents, primarily on the NW and SE sides, producing moderate
  explosive eruptions and lava flows that reached the coast. Historical eruptions date back to the mid-19th
  century. The island was evacuated following eruptions in 1939 and 1960. The latter eruption, from a
  NW-flank fissure vent, produced a pyroclastic flow that swept to the sea and a lava flow that formed a new
  peninsula on the western coast.
       Information Contacts: Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), MetService, PO Box
  722, Wellington, New Zealand (URL:; John Seach, PO Box 16, Chatsworth
  Island, N.S.W. 2469, Australia (Email:

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