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Report on Galeras (Colombia) — February 1989


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 14, no. 2 (February 1989)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Galeras (Colombia) New vent ejects ash; A- and B-type seismicity

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1989. Report on Galeras (Colombia) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 14:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198902-351080



1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Increased fumarolic activity was noted [on] 18 February. By the 23rd, a small fumarole within the main crater had rapidly grown to a 30-m-wide vent that ejected lithic ash. The next day, activity declined to voluminous white emissions with a strong sulfurous odor, rising to 50 m above the crater floor. On 25 February, a five-person team from the Observatorio Vulcanológico de Colombia installed a deformation network and three seismometers (two of them telemetering) in addition to one WWSSN station already present at the E foot of the volcano. The new seismometers were installed 1-8 km from the summit. About 15-20 A-type and 50 B-type events were detected daily 22 February-7 March. After the 7th, A-type events dropped to 0-5/day, while B-types increased to 60-70/day. Seismicity was continuing as of 16 March. Some earthquakes (M 2-3) were felt locally. None of the events have been located. Tremor signals have been occasionally recorded. Initial deformation measurements showed no changes. Voluminous sulfurous steam emission continued 2-16 March [see also 14:05].

[In an unpublished manuscript, Cepeda et al. (1989) note that people living near the volcano reported brief activity at varying intervals each year between 1974 and at least 1983. S. Williams reports that soldiers manning a communications facility on the caldera rim described increased gas emission, felt seismicity, and more frequent rockfall activity in early 1988, a year before initial reports in the Bulletin.]

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: C. Carvajal, INGEOMINAS, Manizales; J. Ewert and A. Lockhart, USGS; Reuters.