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Report on Galeras (Colombia) — April 1990


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 15, no. 4 (April 1990)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Galeras (Colombia) Phreatic ash emission ends; earthquakes smaller but more frequent

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1990. Report on Galeras (Colombia) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 15:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199004-351080



1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Small phreatic ash emissions were frequent through March, but the last episode was recorded on the 29th (table 2), and none were detected in April. Incandescence continued in April, mainly from the SE part of the crater, which showed changes in morphology, fumarolic activity, and temperature.

The number of seismic events increased 21% in April (to 1,343 low-frequency and 154 high-frequency earthquakes) from March values, but energy release declined 17% in April, to 1.48 x 108 and 7.49 x 107 ergs for high- and low-frequency shocks respectively. The month's largest earthquake reached M 2. Long-period events and tremor bursts decreased in both number and maximum reduced displacement. Continuous tremor remained at very low levels and showed no changes in characteristics. Most high-frequency earthquakes were centered in one of two main source regions, W of the active crater at 2-6 km depth, or SSE of the crater at 2-4 km depth. Two peaks in seismicity were noted. On 4 April, 47 high-frequency earthquakes were recorded, and on the 24th there were 115 low-frequency shocks, 83 long-period events, and 16 bursts of spasmodic tremor.

Deformation data showed no significant changes. Twelve COSPEC measurements of SO2 emission yielded rates of 961-4,078 t/d, with a mean of 2,146 t/d (calculated using measured wind speeds). Maximum and minimum values occurred on 14 and 16 April respectively.

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: INGEOMINAS-OVP.