Report on Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — 27 June-3 July 2012
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 June-3 July 2012
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2012. Report on Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 June-3 July 2012. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
Nevado del Ruiz
4.892°N, 75.324°W; summit elev. 5279 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
According to INGEOMINAS, the Observatorio Vulcanológico and Sismológico de Manizales reported that a significant concentration of sulfur dioxide was detected rising from Nevado del Ruiz during 28-29 June. Seismic signals indicated continuing gas and ash emissions.
On 30 June an eruption produced an ash plume that rose 8 km above the crater and drifted SW. The Alert Level was raised to I (Red; "imminent eruption or in progress"). Ashfall was reported in areas near the volcano including Manizales (30 km NW) and Villamaría (28 km NW). According to news reports, communities around the volcano evacuated, and airports in Manizales, Pereira, and Armenia closed. By 2 July seismicity had decreased to low levels; the Alert Level was lowered to II (Orange; "eruption likely within days or weeks"). The Washington VAAC reported that a 7.5-km-wide ash plume was detected in satellite imagery drifting 75 km W. INGEOMINAS noted that seismic signals indicated continuing gas and ash emissions on 3 July.
Geologic Background. Nevado del Ruiz is a broad, glacier-covered volcano in central Colombia that covers more than 200 km2. Three major edifices, composed of andesitic and dacitic lavas and andesitic pyroclastics, have been constructed since the beginning of the Pleistocene. The modern cone consists of a broad cluster of lava domes built within the caldera of an older edifice. The 1-km-wide, 240-m-deep Arenas crater occupies the summit. The prominent La Olleta pyroclastic cone located on the SW flank may also have been active in historical time. Steep headwalls of massive landslides cut the flanks. Melting of its summit icecap during historical eruptions, which date back to the 16th century, has resulted in devastating lahars, including one in 1985 that was South America's deadliest eruption.