Friday, December 30, 2011


by Benjamin Phillips

Welcome to our account of the December 2011 - January 2012 Geophysical Expedition to Santiaguito volcano, Guatemala. This is a joint geophysical experiment combining deployments of seismic and infrasound arrays, tilt meters, photogrammetry, and high speed videography around the active dome. The team is composed of professors, students, and other scientists from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) Roma and Catania, Ludwigs Maximillian University Munich, Arizona State University, The Smithsonian Institution, Instituto Geofisico, EPN, Ecuador, and Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia e Hidrologia (INSIVUMEH) Guatemala. The goals of the project include constraining eruptive processes above and below the volcano by tying together clues from the myriad geophysical signals recorded.

The expedition began in Guatemala City on December 28, 2011. Members of the team came together over the past couple of days to gather equipment, procure supplies, and discuss logistics. Today, the group travelled by bus to Quetzaltenango, at the base of Santiaguito. All is in order, save a significant component of the seismic array, which is stuck in customs in exchange for holiday cheer and local office closures.

Tomorrow morning the group will head onto the volcano to deploy the remaining seismic array and accompanying instruments. The Italian team will pursue high-speed videography of the explosive plumes. The team will remain on the volcano for three days, returning to base January 2. Please check back for updates, and Happy New Year to all!

credit: Kirsten Chojnicki

Santiaguito Team members:

Co-organized by
PI Jeffrey Johnson, New Mexico Tech, with student Jake Anderson
PI Jonathan Lees, U. North Carolina, with student Andrew Nies
John Lyons, Instituto Geofisico, EPN, Ecuador (PhD Michigan Tech, former Peace Corps Guatemala)

Assisting with seismoacoustic and geodetic deployments
Lloyd Carothers, IRIS PASCAL
Cara Shonsey, MS Michingan Tech, now in Ecuador
Kirsten Chojnicki, student, Arizona State U.
Kyle Brill, student, Michigan Tech (former Peace Corps Guatemala)
Josh Richardson, student, Michigan Tech

High-speed and thermal videography team
Piergiorgio Scarlato, INGV Rome
Corrado Cimarelli, LMU Munich
Daniele Andronico, INGV Catania
Elisabetta Del Bello, INGV Rome

Photogrammetry team lead
Ben Andrews, Smithsonian Institution

Documentation (and assisting with seismoacoustic, geodetic, and photogrammetry deployments)
Ben Phillips, U.S. DOE / SRA Intl.

Logistical credit to
Rudiger Wolf, Michingan Tech
Armando Pineda, Mountain Guide