Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano still erupting

Fiery orange lighting up night sky above a mountain, lava streaking down the side.
Falling ash from the Pacaya volcano forced the closure of Guatemala’s only international airport on March 23 for almost 24 hours. Image via

Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano is maintaining high levels of activity, with strong eruptions spewing rivers of lava and ash clouds, officials said today (April 7, 2021). The national disaster coordination body said that the advancing lava has caused wildfires and the destruction of coffee and avocado plantations.

The 8,200-foot (2,500-meter) Pacaya volcano, one of the most active of the country’s 38 volcanoes, lies about 15 miles (25 km) south of the capital city of Guatemala City. After being dormant for over 70 years, Pacaya began erupting vigorously in 1961 and has been erupting frequently since then. It has been steadily active in 2021, with two strong explosions at the end of last month (March 24-30, 2021).

In recent weeks, Pacaya’s fiery reach has stretched closer to human settlements in Guatemala. The volcano has been displaying what scientists refer to as strombolian activity – short-lived, explosive outbursts of lava – fueling lava fountains and flows, and spewing plumes into the air. According to a NASA report, plumes of gas and ash have risen as high as 13,000 feet (4,500 meters) above sea level from the volcano’s Mackenney summit crater, which stands at 8,000 feet (2500 meters). Lava has flowed 1.5 to 2 miles (2 to 3 km) down the west flank of Pacaya. Stay updated on Pacaya here.

Fiery orange stripes flowing down a dark mountain under smoky air.
View larger. | Lava flows from Pacaya inundating bush land on March 29. Image via Berner Villela Fotografía / Volcano Discovery.
Orbital view of white clouds over green forest with two glowing yellow-orange patches labeled lava.
On March 29, 2021, NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite acquired this image of the eruption. The image combines shortwave infrared and red light (OLI bands 7-6-4) to better distinguish the heat signature of volcanic lava amid the vegetation and clouds. Image via NASA Earth Observatory.

Fiery lava setting a forest on fire under pink smoky sky.
Lava flowing out of the Pacaya volcano, 15 miles (25 km) south of Guatemala City on March 25, 2021. Image via

Bottom line: As of early April 2021, the Pacaya volcano in Guatemala is still erupting, spewing rivers of lava and ash clouds. See photos, video, and satellite images.


April 7, 2021

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