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Report on Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — December 1986

Nevado del Ruiz

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 11, no. 12 (December 1986)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) Shallow seismicity; minor ash emission; less SO2

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1986. Report on Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 11:12. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198612-351020

Nevado del Ruiz


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"There was no significant change in the average level and character of activity.

"Shallow B-type events still dominated the seismic activity, remaining as frequent as during the two previous months. A small swarm of tectonic events (A-types) on 22 December, centered SE of the main (Arenas) crater, marked an increase in D-type occurrence, which averages more than 50 events/day. Only a few brief (hours) and low-amplitude episodes of harmonic tremor were recorded. Deformation measurements yielded only minor, fluctuating changes.

"The hot springs NW of the main crater had started to show changes in pH and temperature the previous month, and these values continued to fluctuate. The vapor column remained vigorous, fluctuating in height and intensity, and pulsating. Only a few reports of minor ashfall were received. The rate of SO2 emission (measured by COSPEC) decreased; the average was ~1,400 t/d, the highest values 2,700 t/d. After 2-3 months with very little snowfall, some glaciers were showing signs of strong melting and fracturing.

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: H. Meyer, INGEOMINAS, Manizales.