Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 earthquake hits northwestern Iran.

5.4 earthquake hits the Izu Islands off Japan.

5.0 earthquake hits the Izu Islands off Japan.

5.0 earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.


Drought Starvation

Nearly 130,000 people face starvation in the Horn of Africa as the region’s long-term drought is on track to become the worst on record, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. The drought has decimated crops and killed millions of livestock animals over the past year, bringing food insecurity and malnutrition to 6 million people.

Climate scientists say the weather shift creating the drought has been driven by a rare triple La Niña in the Pacific and three years of below-average temperatures in the Indian Ocean as well. It is hoped the predicted El Niño this year will end it.

Dark Winter

Residents across the eastern Great Lakes and the Canadian province of Ontario just suffered through their darkest winter in 73 years. Alaskan climatologist Brian Brettschneider made the calculation by looking at solar energy records from last December to February.

Prolonged lack of sunshine in the depth of winter has been proven to affect human health and can contribute to depression. Gloomy winters can also lead to vitamin D deficiency and a slower metabolism. Toronto went several weeks in December and January without much sunshine.


Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 45.0 degrees Celsius (113 degrees F) at Matam, Senegal.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 65.0 degrees Celsius (-85 degrees F) at Vostok, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.


Wildfires – Spain

A forest fire raged in eastern Spain on Thursday, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate from nearby villages and sending huge plumes of smoke into the air. Firefighters were alerted about the blaze near Villanueva de Viver in the region of Valencia just before 1 p.m. (1200 GMT). Ten airplanes were fighting to put out the blaze, which had forced the evacuation of the villages of three villages. More than 1,000 people were forced to leave their homes.


Marburg Virus – Equatorial Guinea

In a follow-up on the Marburg virus disease (MVD) outbreak in Equatorial Guinea, health officials report eight new cases, bringing the cumulative number of nine confirmed and 20 probable cases that have been recorded since the beginning of the outbreak and as of March 21.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing activity for the week 15 March – 21 March 2023

Ahyi – Mariana Islands (USA) : Unrest at Ahyi Seamount continued during 15-21 March. A total of three short (~30 seconds) hydroacoustic detections from the direction of Ahyi were detected by pressure sensors on Wake Island, 2,270 km E, during 17-19 March. Weather clouds often prevented satellite views. Data was not available during 20-21 March due to an outage, though a plume of discoloured water was visible in satellite images.

Aira – Kyushu (Japan) : JMA reported ongoing eruptive activity at Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) during 13-20 March, with crater Incandescence visible nightly. Sulfur dioxide emissions were high at 2,100 tons per day on 13 March. On 14 March an explosion produced an ash plume that rose 1 km above the crater rim. Three eruptive events were recorded during 17-20 February, producing volcanic plumes that rose as high as 1 km. No activity or crater incandescence was detected at Showa Crater.

Cotopaxi – Ecuador : IG reported that eruptive activity at Cotopaxi was ongoing during 15-21 March. Gas-and-steam emissions were visible on most days rising as high as 1 km above the crater rim and drifting in multiple directions. On 16 March several gas emissions containing minor amounts of ash rose as high as 1.5 km and drifted SE. During 19-20 March ash-and-gas plumes rose 1-1.5 km and drifted E and SE.

Dukono – Halmahera : PVMBG reported that white-and-gray plumes of variable densities rose from Dukono as high as 450 m above the summit and drifted N and W during 15-16, 18, and 20 March. No plumes were observed on 17 March, but white steam-and-gas plumes rose 150 m and drifted W on 19 March.

Ebeko – Paramushir Island (Russia) : KVERT reported that moderate activity at Ebeko was ongoing during 9-16 March. According to volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island, about 7 km E) explosions during 10-12 March generated ash plumes that rose as high as 3.5 km (11,500 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE and NW. A thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images on 10 and 13 March.

Fuego – South-Central Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that 4-10 explosions per hour were recorded at Fuego during 15-21 March, ejecting incandescent material up to 400 m above the crater and generating ash plumes that rose as high as 1.3 km above the crater rim. The ash plumes drifted as far as 20 km in multiple directions. Ashfall was reported on a few of the days in areas downwind including, Morelia (9 km SW), Panimaché I and II (8 km SW), Santa Sofía (12 km SW), El Porvenir (8 km ENE), Finca Palo Verde, La Rochela, Finca Asunción, Ceilán, San Andrés Osuna, Aldeas, and San Pedro Yepocapa (8 km NW). Daily block avalanches descended the flanks in various directions towards the Ceniza (SSW), Santa Teresa, Seca (W), Taniluya (SW), Trinidad (S), Las Lajas (SE), Honda (E), and El Jute (ESE) ravines, sometimes reaching vegetated areas. Shockwaves caused structures to shake in communities immediately surrounding the volcano. A lahar notice issued at 1530 on 15 March described lahars in the Ceniza ravine that carried branches, tree trunks, and blocks 30 cm to 1.5 m in diameter. Lahars on 18 March descended the El Jute and Las Lahas drainages, carrying branches, tree trunks, and blocks 30 cm to 1.5 m in diameter.

Great Sitkin – Andreanof Islands (USA) : AVO reported that eruptive activity at Great Sitkin continued during 15-21 March, characterized by the eruption of lava that was confined to the summit crater. Radar data from 20 March confirmed slow growth of the lava flow.

Ibu – Halmahera : PVMBG reported that the eruption at Ibu continued during 15-18 March. White-and-gray plumes of variable densities rose as high as 800 m above the summit and drifted N, SE, SW, and W. The Darwin VAAC reported that on 20 March ash plumes rose to 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l., or about 800 m above the summit, and drifted SW based on satellite images.

Karangetang – Sangihe Islands : PVMBG reported that the summit Main Crater (S crater) on Karangetang continued to erupt during 15-21 March. Incandescent material at the summit and on the flanks was evident in webcam images captured at 0007 and 2345 on 16 March,1828 on 17 March, 1940 on 18 March, 2311 on 19 March, and 2351 on 20 March. The incandescence was most intense on 18 and 20 March, with webcam images possibly capturing Strombolian explosions. Based on satellite images, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 18 March an ash plume rose to 2.4 km (6,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW and a thermal anomaly was visible.

Kilauea – Hawaiian Islands (USA): On 21 March HVO reported that Kilauea was no longer erupting. The lava lake in Halema’uma’u Crater was no longer being supplied as of 7 March based on lava lake levels and crater floor observations. Sulfur dioxide emissions had decreased to near pre-eruption background levels.

Krakatau – Sunda Strait : The Darwin VAAC reported that at 1446 on 18 March white-and-gray ash plumes at Anak Krakatau rose about 500 m above the summit and drifted SW. At 1846 on that same day a gray ash plume rose 300 m and drifted SW. An eruptive event was recorded at 2143, though it was not visible due to darkness.

Lewotolok – Lembata Island : PVMBG reported that the eruption at Lewotolok was ongoing during 15-21 March. White gas-and-steam plumes rose as high as 500 m above the summit and drifted in multiple directions during 15-19 March. White-and-gray ash plumes rose 400-600 m above the summit and drifted W and NW during 20-21 March.

Marapi – Central Sumatra : PVMBG reported that on 17 March a white-and-gray plume from Marapi (on Sumatra) rose as high as 400 m above the summit and drifted N and E. Emissions were not observed on other days during 15-19 March, though some of the days were cloudy. White gas plumes rose 50 m above the summit on 20 March.

Mauna Loa – Hawaiian Islands (USA) : HVO reported that Mauna Loa had been quiet since the eruption ended on 13 December 2022 and the number of earthquakes beneath the summit had returned to background levels. Inflation continued as magma replenished the summit reservoir.

Nevado del Ruiz – Colombia : Servicio Geológico Colombiano (SGC) reported that several ash emissions at Nevado del Ruiz were visible in webcam images and reported by residents during 18-20 March. The emissions were associated with seismic signals indicating fluid movement in the conduit. An ash emission at 0902 on 20 March rose 2.7 km above the summit and drifted SW. It was one of the tallest plumes recorded in recent days and was visible from the municipalities of Caldas, Tolima, and Risaralda.

Popocatepetl – Mexico : CENAPRED reported that there were 110-236 steam-and-gas emissions, sometimes containing minor amounts of ash, rising from Popocatépetl each day during 14-21 March; explosions also occurred almost daily. On 15 March a moderately-sized explosion recorded at 0009 was followed by minor explosions at 0058, 0220, 0641, 1215, 1509, and 2105, with another moderate explosion at 1848. On 16 March minor explosions were recorded at 0155 and 2215, and on 17 March they were recorded at 1441, 2105, and 2349. On 19 March multiple minor explosions were recorded, at 0003, 0220, 0926, and 2023, and moderate explosions occurred at 0501, 1300, and 1315. Minor explosions on 20 March were recorded at 0013, 0200, 0226, and 2112, and a moderate one occurred at 1404. A minor explosion occurred at 1712 on 21 March. According to the Washington VAAC daily ash plumes rose to 6.1-8.2 (20,000-27,000 ft) a.s.l., or around as high as 2.8 km above the summit, and drifted mainly N, NE, and S.

San Miguel – Eastern El Salvador : On 16 March MARN reported that gas emissions at San Miguel had decreased in the past few days and noted that gas-and-ash plumes were last observed on 9 March.

Santa Maria – Southwestern Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that the Santa Maria-Santiaguito lava dome complex remained highly active during 15-21 March. Emissions of gas and steam rose up to 800 m above the crater and drifted S, SW, and SE. Almost daily explosions produced ash plumes that rose as high as 800 m above the summit and often drifted SW. Effusion from Caliente dome fed lava flows that slowly descended the San Isidro and Zanjón Seco drainages on the W and SW flanks. Incandescence from the dome during the nights and early mornings. Block-and-ash flows originated from Caliente, and the middle and front of the lava flow. Lahars descended the Cabello de Ángel drainage (a tributary of Nimá I on the SE flank) on 19 March and consisted of a cement-like mixture of volcanic material, branches, and tree trunks.

Semeru – Eastern Java : PVMBG reported that the eruption at Semeru continued during 15-21 March. Dense ash plumes were visible almost daily. At 0737 and 0748 on 15 March white-and-gray ash plumes rose 600-800 m above the summit and drifted S and SE. At 0601 on 16 March a white-and-gray ash plume rose 600 m and drifted S, and at 0748 a gray-to-brown ash plume rose 500 m and drifted SW and W. At 0534 on 18 March a white-and-gray ash plume rose 500 m and drifted SW. Just over an hour later, at 0655, a white-and-gray ash plume rose 1 km and drifted S. At 0713 on 20 March white-and-gray ash plume rose 600 m and drifted SW and W, and at 0811 a gray-to-brown ash plume rose 1 km and drifted S.

Sheveluch – Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that the ongoing eruption at Sheveluch was generally characterized by explosions, hot avalanches, lava-dome extrusion, and strong fumarolic activity. A daily thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images during 9-16 March. Ash plumes drifted as far as 62 km E on 11 March.

Suwanosejima – Ryukyu Islands (Japan) : JMA reported that the eruption at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater continued during 13-20 March. A total of 20 explosions were recorded, sending ash plumes as high as 2.4 km above the crater rim and ejecting large blocks as far as 500 m from the vent. Crater incandescence was visible at night. Occasional ashfall was reported in Toshima village (3.5 km SSW).