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Report on Galeras (Colombia) — December 1990


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 15, no. 12 (December 1990)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Galeras (Colombia) Blocks and lapilli ejected; new vents and additional ash emissions

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1990. Report on Galeras (Colombia) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 15:12. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199012-351080



1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Lapilli and blocks were deposited on the crater rim during ash emissions on 25 November. Preliminary analysis of the ash seemed to indicate the presence of fresh glass. Numerous episodes of spasmodic tremor were associated with the emissions.

The ash emissions followed an increase in the number and size of long-period earthquakes that began on 20 November, and a swarm of 35 high-frequency earthquakes on 24 November. Epicenters were W of the crater. Low-frequency spasmodic tremor was also recorded. On 28 and 29 November, after the emission, there was a variation in the amplitude and period of the deep tremor. Landslides on the W wall of the crater coincided with the appearance of new vents in the crater wall that emitted gases and ash. Incandescence was observed at the vents throughout December and temperatures of 550-570°C were measured. A fissure with new vents had previously appeared on the W sector in September. Analyses of gas samples from fumaroles in the N and SW sectors of the cone indicated a increase in the concentration of CO2, and a corresponding increase in SO2. Temperatures of 250-265°C were measured at fumaroles in the SW sector.

Seismicity remained at high levels through December, and began to decline in early January. The long-period earthquakes were often associated with small ash emissions that continued into January.

Geological Summary. Galeras, a stratovolcano with a large breached caldera located immediately west of the city of Pasto, is one of Colombia's most frequently active volcanoes. The dominantly andesitic complex has been active for more than 1 million years, and two major caldera collapse eruptions took place during the late Pleistocene. Long-term extensive hydrothermal alteration has contributed to large-scale edifice collapse on at least three occasions, producing debris avalanches that swept to the west and left a large open caldera inside which the modern cone has been constructed. Major explosive eruptions since the mid-Holocene have produced widespread tephra deposits and pyroclastic flows that swept all but the southern flanks. A central cone slightly lower than the caldera rim has been the site of numerous small-to-moderate eruptions since the time of the Spanish conquistadors.

Information Contacts: INGEOMINAS-OVP.