Sept. 14, 2012 --
Guatemala's Volcán de Fuego erupted yesterday morning with thick columns of ash and lava flows that forced the evacuation of thousands of people. The powerful eruption, the biggest since 1999, catapulted burning rocks as high as 1,000 meters (3,280ft) above the crater, reported the BBC.
This natural-color image captured the eruption as it occurred on Sept. 13, 2012. The image was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite. According to the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction of Guatemala, the eruption included ash emissions to the west, and a 500-meter (2,000-foot) long lava flow.
Originally 33,000 people were ordered to evacuate, but many stayed in their homes and only 11,000 fled to shelters. By yesterday evening, the eruption had diminished and rains had reduced the threat of ash fall, reported Guatemala's Disaster Center. Head of Emergency Evacuations Sergio Cabanas said no further evacuations would be necessary.
Firefighters are on guard at the Morelia village, San Pedro Yepocapa municipality, in the Chimaltenango Department, Guatemala, on Sept. 13, 2012.
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A column of steam emanating from the Fuego volcano is seen at the Antigua Guatemala City, in the Sacatepequez Department, Guatemala, on Sept. 13, 2012.
Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupts with flames, in the region of San Juan Alotenango, some 80 kilometers from the Guatemala City, in Guatemala, on May 25, 2012.
Guatemala's Volcán de Fuego is seen erupting at night in this undated photo. The stratovolcano is one of Central America's most active volcanoes. "Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded at Fuego since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows," reports the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program.
Strombolian eruptions such as this at Fuego involve short-lived, explosive outbursts of pasty lava. The broken bits and chunks of tephra are red hot upon leaving the throat of the volcano and rapidly cool to black as they are ejected tens or hundreds of meters into the air.
Volcán Fuego, seen here erupting in 2009, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3763-meter-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the north, Acatenango. "In contrast to the mostly andesitic Acatenango volcano, eruptions at Fuego have become more mafic with time, and most historical activity has produced basaltic rocks," reports the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program.
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