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Report on Galeras (Colombia) — February 1995


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 20, no. 2 (February 1995)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Galeras (Colombia) Continued fumarolic activity and low SO2 values; new type of seismicity

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1995. Report on Galeras (Colombia) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 20:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199502-351080



1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Activity during January and February consisted of slow gas release, decreasing the chances of an eruption in the near future. Overflights on 6 and 9 January revealed no changes in the fumarolic activity. On 23 January a visual inspection of the active cone from the police station revealed increased fumarolic activity in the W sector. In several visits to the summit, the principal points of gas emission were La Joya, Las Deformes, Las Chavas, and El Paisita fumarolic areas, and low-pressure zones on the interior of the main crater and the inside W crater wall (figure 72); fumarolic columns rose <30 m. Temperature measurements at Las Deformes and La Joya fumaroles (average 130°C) showed a small decrease compared to 21 July 1994.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 72. Sketch map of the Galeras summit crater, 24 January 1995. Courtesy of INGEOMINAS.

SO2 measurements obtained by COSPEC increased compared to December (2 remained stable during February (~200 t/d), and deformation measurements showed no variations.

A total of 89 screw-type seismic events were recorded between 20 October 1994 and 9 January. These types of signals, associated with pressure in the system, preceded five of the six eruptions between June 1992 and July 1993. Long-period events were recorded after 9 January. A swarm of "butterfly" events (a hybrid long-period, high-frequency event) on 20 January was the first since July 1994; a peak of 210 events was recorded on the 21st. The number of high-frequency events was very low in early 1995, but increased slightly after 23 January. These signals, which have a similar wave form to long-period events, were located principally in the W sector of the active crater at depths of <4 km.

Shallow high-frequency seismicity in February was concentrated near the crater. There was also sporadic fracturing activity from the W part of the crater (small magnitudes with depths <6 km) and from a N source (M <1.9 and depths of 5-7 km). "Butterfly" events were observed through mid-Feb with an average of 50 events/day before decreasing to 15 events/day toward the end of the month. These events were concentrated near the active cone, at depths <1 km. Few long-period events occurred during the month, but after 26 February a new type of high-frequency signal (called "Pseudo-Screw") began with dominant peaks of 8-10 Hz.

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, Pasto.