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Report on Galeras (Colombia) — March 2000


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 25, no. 3 (March 2000)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Galeras (Colombia) Two small eruptions in March and April 2000 preceded by tornillo events

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2000. Report on Galeras (Colombia) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 25:3. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200003-351080



1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During 1 January-15 April 2000 there were two small eruptive episodes preceded by 24 tornillo ("screw-type") seismic events which showed dominant frequencies around 2.0 Hz and other peaks from 5 to 18 Hz. Volcano-tectonic events centered NE of the crater were also felt by local residents.

The first eruptive episode occurred on 21 March at 1628. The seismic signal associated with this activity was characterized by long-period events followed by 30 minutes of spasmodic tremor, and then 17 small long-period events registered in the following three hours. The dominant frequency of the main event was around 2.0 Hz, but at the nearest station to the crater other frequencies between 5 and 13 Hz were recorded. Field inspections before and after the 21 March eruption revealed fluctuations in the output pressure and in the quantity of gas emitted from the active vents; emissions were generally gray and white in color. Temperature measurements taken during March at Las Deformes fumarole (SSW border of the main crater) registered values of 124-127°C, which are similar to those observed in recent years. However, Las Chavas fumarole (WSW border of the main crater) showed a significant temperature increase one day before the 21 March eruption.

The second eruptive episode, on 5 April at 1738, was smaller than the 21 March event. Its associated seismicity was characterized by spasmodic tremor. The dominant frequency was around 2.4 Hz, but again at the nearest station to the active crater other frequencies between 6 to 17 Hz were observed.

Radon-222 soil emissions measured at stations around the volcano showed values between 98 and 8,619 pCi/l. Most of them were unchanged from previous measurements. The highest peak correspond to the Sismo5 station, located 7 km N of the summit.

Two volcano-tectonic events during this period were felt in some areas of Pasto city and Nariño town; a maximum Modified Mercalli Intensity of III was estimated in these regions. The first event occurred on 10 January centered 10 km NE of the summit at a depth of 8 km and with a magnitude of 3.2. The second event occurred 5 km NE of the summit on 6 April, with a depth of 9 km and a magnitude of 2.4.

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: Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Pasto (OVSP), Carrera 31, 18-07 Parque Infantil, PO Box 1795, Pasto, Colombia (URL: https://www2.sgc.gov.co/volcanes/index.html).