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Report on Colima (Mexico) — November 2003


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 28, no. 11 (November 2003)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke.

Colima (Mexico) Multiple daily ash emissions during September-December

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Colima (Mexico) (Venzke, E., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 28:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200311-341040



19.514°N, 103.62°W; summit elev. 3850 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

As previously reported (BGVN 28:08) a new crater formed at the summit following large explosions in July and August 2003. Smaller ash-bearing eruptions continued during September-December 2003.

On 6 September a strong ash emission resulted in an ash cloud that rose to ~6.7 km and drifted N. Ash was not visible on satellite imagery, but a second ash emission on 8 September was visible on the Colima video camera. Into early October, volcanic activity consisted of an average of two explosions per day, producing ash clouds that rose ~2 km above the crater and drifted predominately W. Tropical storm Olaf inundated the Colima area on 7 October, dropping 150 mm of rain in less than 2 hours. The heavy rain mixed with material on the S flank, producing a lahar down the Montegrande ravine. On 9 and 10 October ash clouds were visible on satellite imagery rising to a maximum of ~5 km above the volcano.

On 16 October ash rose to a height of ~6 km; a second plume followed on 18 October, rising to ~7.3 km. Neither plume was visible on satellite imagery. Two small eruptions consisting mainly of steam and some ash on 30 October rose to ~7.3 km altitude and mainly drifted W.

A subtle ash plume, visible in satellite imagery, was emitted on 18 November and rose to ~5.5 km altitude. On 1 and 2 December, ash clouds were visible on satellite imagery at a maximum altitude of ~7 km. As of 12 December, the volcano continued with an average of three explosions a day, usually to 2 to 3 km above the crater. The majority of these explosions have produced ash that drifted toward the ENE. The most significant of these early December explosions occurred early on 11 December, when materials descended the SE, NE, and N flanks, and ashfall was reported in the town of Guzman (25 km NE of Colima volcano).

Geological Summary. The Colima complex is the most prominent volcanic center of the western Mexican Volcanic Belt. It consists of two southward-younging volcanoes, Nevado de Colima (the high point of the complex) on the north and the historically active Volcán de Colima at the south. A group of late-Pleistocene cinder cones is located on the floor of the Colima graben west and east of the complex. Volcán de Colima (also known as Volcán Fuego) is a youthful stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide scarp, breached to the south, that has been the source of large debris avalanches. Major slope failures have occurred repeatedly from both the Nevado and Colima cones, producing thick debris-avalanche deposits on three sides of the complex. Frequent recorded eruptions date back to the 16th century. Occasional major explosive eruptions have destroyed the summit (most recently in 1913) and left a deep, steep-sided crater that was slowly refilled and then overtopped by lava dome growth.

Information Contacts: Observatorio Vulcanológico de la Universidad de Colima, Colima, Col., 28045, México (URL: https://portal.ucol.mx/cueiv/); Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), NOAA/NESDIS E/SP23, NOAA Science Center Room 401, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA (URL: http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/atmosphere/vaac/).