Las Pilas volcano

volcanic field 1088 m / 3,570 ft
Nicaragua, 12.5°N / -86.69°W
Current status: normal or dormant (1 out of 5)
Last update: 29 Feb 2020 (strong degassing from pit crater next to El Hoyo crater)

Las Pilas volcano is a volcanic complex near Cerro Negro volcano 75 km NW of the capital Managua.
The volcano consists of several cones around the central vent, Las Pilas, which contains a 700 m wide and 120 m deep crater and is the site of the recent activity.
El Hoyo is a 150 m deep pit crater immediately SW of the main crater. It contains particularly strong fumaroles and produces sometimes dense plumes of gas and steam.
The only certain historic activity from Las Pilas were 2 phreatic eruptions from a fissure on the eastern side of Las Pilas cone in 1952 and 1954. An eruption in the 16th century is uncertain.

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Typical eruption style: explosive
Las Pilas volcano eruptions: 1994 (?), 1954, 1952, 1528 (?)

TimeMag. / DepthDistance/Location
Friday, September 24, 2021 23:52 GMT (1 earthquake)
Sep 24, 2021 5:52 pm (GMT -6) (Sep 24, 2021 23:52 GMT)

34 km
37 km (23 mi)
17 km southeast of Chinandega, Nicaragua
Wednesday, September 22, 2021 00:03 GMT (2 earthquakes)
Sep 21, 2021 6:03 pm (GMT -6) (Sep 22, 2021 00:03 GMT)

74 km
25 km (16 mi)
7.5 km southeast of La Paz Centro, Departamento de Leon, Nicaragua
Sep 21, 2021 6:03 pm (GMT -6) (Sep 22, 2021 00:03 GMT)

140 km
46 km (29 mi)
31 km west of Managua, Nicaragua
Thursday, September 16, 2021 09:23 GMT (1 earthquake)
Sep 16, 2021 3:23 am (GMT -6) (Sep 16, 2021 09:23 GMT)

21 km
36 km (22 mi)
13 km southwest of Nagarote, Departamento de Leon, Nicaragua
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 23:54 GMT (1 earthquake)
Sep 15, 2021 5:54 pm (GMT -6) (Sep 15, 2021 23:54 GMT)

156 km
24 km (15 mi)
7.1 km south of La Paz Centro, Departamento de Leon, Nicaragua


The 30 km long Las Pilas volcanic complex is built along a N-S-trending fracture system and contains numerous young cones, craters and maars.
The lake-filled Asososca maar is located next to the conical 818-m-high Cerro Asososca cone on the southern side of the fissure system, south of the axis of the Marrabios Range. 2 small maars west of Lake Managua are located at the southern end of the fissure.
- Bice, D.C., 1980, Tephra stratigraphy and physical aspects of recent volcanism near Managua, Nicaragua: Ph.D. Dissertation, Univ of California, Berkeley, 422 p
- Smithsonian / GVP volcano information

1994 possible phreatic eruption
A possible small phreatic eruption could have occurred at Las Pilas volcano in early 1994. A dense white steam plume was visible on 3 March from at least 10 km south of the volcano.
Geologist visiting the area found a new(?) circular, 10 m diameter pit crater on the upper southern slope of the main crater as the source of the plume. The pit had vertical walls covered with sulfur deposits. 50-75 m to the W, another larger circular pit crater measuring about 30-40 m in diameter was observed.
(Source: Smithsonian / GVP monthly reports)

See also: Sentinel hub | Landsat 8
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