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Report on Colima (Mexico) — September 1981


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 9 (September 1981)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Colima (Mexico) New lava dome in summit crater; activity since 1976 summarized

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1981. Report on Colima (Mexico) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 6:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198109-341040



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The following information is from visits to Colima during December 1977-January 1978, December 1979, and February 1981 by James Luhr and others.

Since the extrusion of more than 108 m3 of andesitic block lava between November 1975 and June 1976, activity has consisted of numerous brief ejections of ash and incandescent material, and several episodes of lava dome growth, all in the E part of the summit crater. A small steaming dome (~ 100 m in diameter and extending ~ 15 m above the crater rim) was observed in the E part of the summit crater during the December 1977-January 1978 observations. When Luhr and others returned in December 1979, this dome had disappeared and the E part of the crater had a relatively flat floor, only about 2 m below the crater rim, containing numerous explosion vents 1-5 m in diameter. By February 1981, a new lava dome had been extruded into the E part of the summit crater. A steep-walled vent ~ 50 m across occupied the center of the dome, which was ~ 150 m in diameter and reached a height of ~ 50 m above the crater rim. The geologists interpreted the dome's smooth reddish SE flank (in the direction of the principal 1975-76 lava flows) as more likely to have been caused by slumping than by tephra accumulation. The remainder of the dome was composed of block lava. No information is presently available on post-February activity.

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: J. Luhr, Univ. of California, Berkeley.