During 14-16 September 1988, a large intracaldera avalanche and an eruption of basaltic tephra and lava at Fernandina volcano, Galapagos, produced the most profound changes within the caldera since its collapse in 1968. A swarm of eight earthquakes (mb 4.7-5.5) occurred in a 14 h period on 24 February 1988 at Fernandina, and two more earthquakes of this size followed on 15 April and 20 May, respectively. On 14 September 1988, another earthquake (mb 4.6) preceded a complex series of events. A debris avalanche was generated by the failure of a fault-bounded segment of the east caldera wall, approximately 2 km long and 300 m wide. The avalanche deposit is up to 250 m thick and has an approximate volume of 0.9 km3. The avalanche rapidly displaced a preexisting lake from the southeast end of the caldera floor to the northwest end, where the water washed up against the lower part of the caldera wall, then gradually seeped into the avalanche deposit and was completely gone by mid-January 1989. An eruption began in the caldera within about 1-2 h of the earthquake, producing a vigorous tephra plume for about 12 h, then lava flows during the next two days. The eruption ended late on 16 September. Most of the eruptive activity was from vents on the caldera floor near the base of the new avalanche scar. Unequivocal relative timing of events is difficult to determine, but seismic records suggest that the avalanche may have occurred 1.6 h after the earthquake, and field relations show that lava was clearly erupted after the avalanche was emplaced. The most likely sequence of events seems to be that the 1988 feeder dike intruded upward into the east caldera wall, dislocated the unstable wall block, and triggered the avalanche. The avalanche immediately exposed the newly emplaced dike and initiated the eruption. The exact cause of the earthquakes is unknown. ?? 1991 Springer-Verlag.
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The September 1988 intracaldera avalanche and eruption at Fernandina volcano, Galapagos Islands