Report on Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — 21 June-27 June 2023
Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 June-27 June 2023
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert. Written by Zachary W. Hastings.
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2023. Report on Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) (Hastings, Z W, and Sennert, S, eds.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 June-27 June 2023. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
Nevado del Ruiz
4.892°N, 75.324°W; summit elev. 5279 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Servicio Geológico Colombiano’s (SGC) Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales reported that the eruption at Nevado del Ruiz continued during 20-27 June and was characterized by gas, steam, and ash emissions, and variable seismic activity. The number of seismic events related to fluid movement, emissions, and rock fracturing fluctuated throughout the week; seismicity was highest at the beginning of the week and notably high during 22-23 June with the most intense seismicity recorded since the current period of elevated activity began on 24 March. Earthquakes occurred at distances of 1-8 km from Arenas crater at depths of 1-6 km. A period of continuous ash emissions in the afternoon of 20 June was visible in webcam images. Ashfall was reported in Manizales. Ash emissions on 21 June rose as high as 1.3 km above the crater rim, drifted WNW, and continued to rise to as high as 4 km above the summit. Incandescence from the crater was visible coincident with pulsating ash emissions during 20-23 June. Gas, steam, and ash plumes rose as high as 1.8 km and drifted NW during 24-27 June. Minor ashfall was reported in the municipalities of Villamaría (28 km NW) and Manizales (28 km NW) on 22 and 25 June respectively. The Alert Level was lowered to Yellow, Level III (the second level on a four-level scale) on 27 June. SGC noted that monitoring data was more stable in recent weeks; earthquake magnitudes were overall lower, the locations were more random, and the patterns did not indicate magma movement. Additionally, thermal anomalies at the lava dome were less intense, ash emissions had decreased, and gas emissions remained relatively stable.
Geological Summary. Nevado del Ruiz is a broad, glacier-covered volcano in central Colombia that covers more than 200 km2. Three major edifices, composed of andesitic and dacitic lavas and andesitic pyroclastics, have been constructed since the beginning of the Pleistocene. The modern cone consists of a broad cluster of lava domes built within the caldera of an older edifice. The 1-km-wide, 240-m-deep Arenas crater occupies the summit. The prominent La Olleta pyroclastic cone located on the SW flank may also have been active in historical time. Steep headwalls of massive landslides cut the flanks. Melting of its summit icecap during historical eruptions, which date back to the 16th century, has resulted in devastating lahars, including one in 1985 that was South America's deadliest eruption.