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Report on Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — May 1985

Nevado del Ruiz

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 10, no. 5 (May 1985)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) Increased seismicity and abnormal fumarolic activity

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1985. Report on Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 10:5. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198505-351020

Nevado del Ruiz


4.892°N, 75.324°W; summit elev. 5279 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"Since late November 1984, local earthquakes have been felt near the summit. On 22 December, stronger earthquakes were detected, followed by a half hour of apparent harmonic tremor. During a visit to the crater in early January 1985, increased fumarolic activity, evidence of phreatic explosions, and the wide deposition of sulfur salts over the adjacent snowcap were noted. At times, a thin layer of ash had been ejected, which was analyzed by J. Tomblin and found to consist of alteration products and sulfur.

"Seismic activity continued, with 17 felt earthquakes in March and 18 in April. There are no operating seismographs in the region. Abnormal fumarolic activity also continued. The one hot spring with frequent temperature monitoring, NW of the crater, had not shown any variation in temperature.

"Ruiz is a glacier-clad stratovolcano (bordering Tolima and Caldas Departments). . . . Colombian officials have begun the necessary studies."

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.

Information Contacts: M. Hall, Escuela Politécnica, Ecuador; J. Tomblin, UNDRO; O. Gómez, Civil Defense Coordinator, Manizales.