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Report on Galeras (Colombia) — April 1995


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 20, no. 4 (April 1995)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Galeras (Colombia) Earthquake swarm continues; higher pressure gas emissions

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1995. Report on Galeras (Colombia) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 20:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199504-351080



1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Volcanic activity was relatively low in April. During approximately 1-20 April there was an increase in the pressure of gas emissions. Heavy rains on 12 and 18 April caused mudflows along the W-flank Azufral river that reached heights of 5 and 15 m, respectively, above the usual water level in narrow sections of the canyon. These two events were detected by the seismic network at Galeras.

A high-frequency earthquake swarm (magnitudes up to 2.3) on 14 April associated with rock fracturing (15 events within 100 minutes) was located at depths of 1.5-4 km below the summit. Ten other high-frequency events had dispersed epicenters at depths of <5 km. Four nearly monochromatic long-duration earthquakes with slowly decaying codas (screw-type events) occurred during 19-20 April. Screws were not detected after increased gas emissions on 22 April sent a plume ~2 km high that was seen from Pasto (~9 km E).

The earthquake swarm NNE of the active crater that began in March continued in April, but with fewer and lower-magnitude events. However, there were two events felt in Pasto and in the towns of Jenoy and Narino on 3 and 27 April. By the end of April there had been 1,967 events from this source since 4 March, of which 67 were felt in small towns near the epicenter.

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-Observatorio Vulcanologico y Sismologico de Pasto (OVP), Apartado Aereo 1795, San Juan de Pasto (Narino), Colombia (URL: https://www2.sgc.gov.co/volcanes/index.html).