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Report on Colima (Mexico) — July 1987


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 12, no. 7 (July 1987)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Colima (Mexico) Large avalanche from summit lava dome; small A-type events

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1987. Report on Colima (Mexico) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 12:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198707-341040



19.514°N, 103.62°W; summit elev. 3850 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

On 2 July at about 1050 a large Merapi-type avalanche occurred from the S and SE base of the summit lava dome. Avalanche debris probably reached the base of the summit cone, but there were no reports that it continued into vegetated areas downslope. Residents of the area reported that the activity generated a cloud, but geologists could not confirm whether it was produced by a phreatic explosion or was fine-grained debris from the avalanche. A relatively large talus pile that had accumulated at the S and SE base of the dome was no longer present after the avalanche. The dome's post-avalanche profile appeared significantly flattened but precise determination of changes in dome morphology await analysis of before/after photos. Poor weather conditions prevented geologists from reaching the summit.

No increase in seismicity was observed on a permanent seismograph 30 km S of the volcano. A portable seismic station installed 10 km from the volcano (at La Yerba Buena) a few days after the avalanche detected only a few very small A-type events, 7 on 7 July, and only 1-2/day since then. S and P arrivals were only about 1 second apart, indicating a nearby source. No B-type events or tremor were recorded.

Geological Summary. The Colima complex is the most prominent volcanic center of the western Mexican Volcanic Belt. It consists of two southward-younging volcanoes, Nevado de Colima (the high point of the complex) on the north and the historically active Volcán de Colima at the south. A group of late-Pleistocene cinder cones is located on the floor of the Colima graben west and east of the complex. Volcán de Colima (also known as Volcán Fuego) is a youthful stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide scarp, breached to the south, that has been the source of large debris avalanches. Major slope failures have occurred repeatedly from both the Nevado and Colima cones, producing thick debris-avalanche deposits on three sides of the complex. Frequent recorded eruptions date back to the 16th century. Occasional major explosive eruptions have destroyed the summit (most recently in 1913) and left a deep, steep-sided crater that was slowly refilled and then overtopped by lava dome growth.

Information Contacts: S. de la Cruz-Reyna, UNAM.