Posted by: magmatist | May 19, 2011

International Volcano Monitoring Fund donates equipment to Santiaguito Observatory, Guatemala

IVM-Fund raises funds to purchase volcano monitoring equipment for cash-strapped third world observatories. You can read about this very deserving nonprofit organization here. Send ’em a few bucks! It is very easy. Just go here, right now.

Jeff Witter, IVM-Fund president, sends this wonderful bit of news.

Dear Friends of the IVM-Fund,

Santiaguito eruption, May 1, 2011. Jeff Witter photo.

At the beginning of this month the IVM-Fund delivered ~$4000 worth of field equipment and volcano monitoring instruments to the Santiaguito Volcano Observatory (OVSAN) in Guatemala thanks to the generous support of our donors. I delivered the equipment personally to ensure that the equipment arrived in the hands of the Guatemalan volcanologists who monitor activity at Santiaguito volcano on a daily basis.

The Guatemalans were very appreciative and set right to work making measurements at the volcano and in river valleys downstream. Lahars (volcanic mudflows) are a particular concern this year because frequent volcanic explosions at the lava dome have generated large amounts of loose volcanic material (i.e. pumice, ash, & broken lava) that is accumulating and ready to be washed down the river valleys as lahars in the coming rainy season. OVSAN scientists will be making measurements to keep track of this giant accumulation of loose volcanic material as it works its way down the river valleys. They hope to use this new, quantitative information to advise downstream communities about the risks of lahar inundation.

The direct impacts from eruptions at Santiaguito are continuing. Just 4 days ago, the

Gustavo and Alvaro using the new infrared thermometer. Jeff Witter photo

Guatemalan government issued a volcanology bulletin stating that a new series of moderate to strong explosions has begun at Santiaguito generating pyroclastic flows and near-continuous block avalanches with accompanying ashfall on nearby communities. The equipment donated by the IVM-Fund has increased the capacity of the OVSAN personnel to conduct volcano monitoring activities themselves.

As an integral part of this package of support provided to OVSAN, the IVM-Fund has committed to pay for an internet connection at the observatory for an initial period of 18 months. We have set aside sufficient funds to do so. We hope to have an internet connection up and running at the observatory soon after sorting out some logistical details. As you can imagine, observatory personnel are quite excited about having an internet connection. For one thing, they’ll be able to download near real-time data from the Santiaguito volcano seismic monitoring network that’s posted onto the Guatemalan government’s volcano monitoring website. In this way, they’ll be able to keep track of the frequency and magnitude of microearthquakes happening under the volcano. Furthermore, an internet connection will enable the OVSAN scientists to send photos, daily reports, etc. via email to the main headquarters in Guatemala City. That, and the ability to email the rest of the world and take advantage of all the resources on the internet will be of great value to OVSAN.

Observatory team and donated gear on the table behind them. Jeff Witter photo.

I’d like to pass on to all donors a big “Thank You” from the Santiaguito Volcano Observatory personnel!  They very much appreciate the support. Following this visit to Guatemala, I’m convinced that the volcanologists there are deserving of further support from the IVM-Fund and we look forward to planning another volcano monitoring support program in Guatemala.

I’ll be writing up a report that more fully describes my trip to Guatemala as well as the volcano hazard challenges they face. I’ll post it on the IVM-Fund website and will let you know when so you can share with your friends and colleagues the good work we at the IVM-Fund are doing.


Observatory building. Santa Maria is the high cone; Santiaguito is the lower one at left. Jeff Witter photo




  1. […] admirable efforts of this very worthy nonprofit organization, as well as many photos and maps. A previous report on IVM-Fund’s work in Guatemala was published on the MBVRC […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: