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Report on Galeras (Colombia) — 25 August-31 August 2010


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
25 August-31 August 2010
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2010. Report on Galeras (Colombia). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 25 August-31 August 2010. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (25 August-31 August 2010)



1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

An eruption from Galeras that began at 0400 on 25 August prompted INGEOMINAS to raise the Alert Level to I (Red; "imminent eruption or in progress"). Meteorological cloud cover initially prevented visual observations of the summit. Seismicity associated with the eruption continued for a period of about 12 hours and gradually declined in the afternoon. The Alert Level was lowered to II (Orange; "probable eruption in term of days or weeks"). Scientists aboard an overflight later that day observed ash-and-gas emissions from multiple areas of the active cone, and thermal anomalies that were detected on the N side of the cone. Ash fell to the NW, as far away as 30 km. According to news articles, about 7,000 were requested by officials to evacuate, although few left their homes. During 26-31 August at least 12 earthquakes, M 2-4, were located within a 2-km radius from the crater, at depths not more than 3 km. Gas plumes drifted NW, then S.

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.

Sources: Servicio Geológico Colombiano (SGC), CNN