Recent explosive eruptions and volcano hazards at Soputan volcano-a basalt stratovolcano in north Sulawesi, Indonesia

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Soputan is a high-alumina basalt stratovolcano located in the active North Sulawesi-Sangihe Islands magmatic arc. Although immediately adjacent to the still geothermally active Quaternary Tondono Caldera, Soputan's magmas are geochemically distinct from those of the caldera and from other magmas in the arc. Unusual for a basalt volcano, Soputan produces summit lava domes and explosive eruptions with high-altitude ash plumes and pyroclastic flows-eight explosive eruptions during the period 2003-2011. Our field observations, remote sensing, gas emission, seismic, and petrologic analyses indicate that Soputan is an open-vent-type volcano that taps basalt magma derived from the arc-mantle wedge, accumulated and fractionated in a deep-crustal reservoir and transported slowly or staged at shallow levels prior to eruption. A combination of high phenocryst content, extensive microlite crystallization and separation of a gas phase at shallow levels results in a highly viscous basalt magma and explosive eruptive style. The open-vent structure and frequent eruptions indicate that Soputan will likely erupt again in the next decade, perhaps repeatedly. Explosive eruptions in the Volcano Explosivity Index (VEI) 2-3 range and lava dome growth are most probable, with a small chance of larger VEI 4 eruptions. A rapid ramp up in seismicity preceding the recent eruptions suggests that future eruptions may have no more than a few days of seismic warning. Risk to population in the region is currently greatest for villages located on the southern and western flanks of the volcano where flow deposits are directed by topography. In addition, Soputan's explosive eruptions produce high-altitude ash clouds that pose a risk to air traffic in the region. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.

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Bulletin of Volcanology