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Report on Galeras (Colombia) — May 1993


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 18, no. 5 (May 1993)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke.

Galeras (Colombia) Eruption produces 7-km-high column with ashfall 40 km away

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1993. Report on Galeras (Colombia) (Venzke, E., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 18:5. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199305-351080



1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Following no reported eruptive activity in May, an eruption on 7 June at 0343 produced a column that reached 7 km above the caldera rim and spread ash >40 km NE from the crater. Between 18 April and 7 June, 103 tornillos ("screw-type" seismic events) were registered, with frequencies of 1.3-6.7 Hz. The longest event, on 5 June, lasted 214 seconds.

Seismicity in May was characterized by the continued occurrence of tornillos, with a slow decline in their coda. High-frequency events, which decreased in number compared to April, were centered 3 km N of the active crater at depths of 3-7.5 km, the same location as April events. Other smaller earthquakes were located WSW of the crater at shallower depths. No deformation was detected at the "Crater" tilt station. . . during May. The "Peladitos-2" station (1.6 km E) showed a 2-µrad inflation towards the N. Land-based COSPEC measurements of SO2 flux were low, ranging from 30-466 tons/day (t/d). A low level of fumarolic activity from the main crater was observed during aerial inspections.

The eruptive activity on 7 June was similar to that of 23 March (18:3), with ash emission and ejection of minor amounts of incandescent lapilli and blocks. The eruption lasted for 15 minutes, saturating the seismic stations for 120 seconds. Approximately 300 long-period earthquakes followed the eruption. Ashfall caused the temporary closure of the airport NE of Pasto, and a Notice to Airmen about ash from Galeras was issued at 1215. Ashfall was also reported from El Borde, ~100 km N. Seismicity remained high throughout the day. Another smaller eruption, consisting mostly of ash with some small blocks, occurred at 2135. Volcanic activity then stopped and seismicity returned to normal levels. Long-period events preceded both eruptions. SO2 flux measured by COSPEC was extremely low (70 t/d) before the eruption on 4 June. COSPEC data from immediately after the eruption were not available. No evacuations took place and the summit area remains closed to all visitors.

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 horseshoe-shaped 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 historical eruptions since the time of the Spanish conquistadors.

Information Contacts: H. Cepeda and D. Gomez, INGEOMINAS, Pasto; T. Fischer, Arizona State Univ; ICAO.