Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Southeast Lava Flow Trip (Jan. 3)

by Corrado Cimarelli
photography by Benjamin Phillips

This is dedicated to all my friends who are convinced I am on Christmas holidays in South America. Yesterday was supposed to be a relaxed day. Juan and Angel drove us to La Finca Faro, where the coffee and macadamia plantations are threatened by the two lava flows starting from the summit of Santiaguito. We descended in altitude about 2000 meters from the colder Quetzaltenango down to the Observatory at the base of Santiaguito. During the short visit to the Observatory we got to know Julio who is keeping the observatory active and served as group guide for the day. We walked up again about 700 meters in altitude zig-zagging in the plantations, too curious to resist fresh coffee beans and macadamias on our way up. There is not much to chew from fresh coffee beens, but they are sweet and tasty in the mouth.

If it wasn't for the constant slope and the deeply carved lahar deposits you would probably forget you are walking toward the active dome - this is probably what the plantation workers think every day going harvesting. With the help of the little 4-wheel drive of Angel the whole group made it to the observation point at the levees of the lava flow and installed our high speed and thermal cameras. Cloudy skies constantly made PG, Daniele, Betta and me switch our observation from the summit of the dome to the rock falls of the slowly advancing lava front 100 meters distant, but we got our data anyway. Impressive explosions at the summit often cause ejected blocks rolling down to along the flanks of the dome for hundreds of meters. Rumbling of the lava flow slowly advancing is impressive too, we are going to see what our installed microphones have recorded....

Today we are going to the chilly summit of Santa Maria and this is supposed to be a very long day before we set our camp. We will get great videos from there so crossed fingers! By the way yesterday wasn't soooooo relaxed, ask my blisters...

No comments:

Post a Comment