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Report on Colima (Mexico) — May 1989


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 14, no. 5 (May 1989)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Colima (Mexico) Increased fumarolic activity from summit dome

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1989. Report on Colima (Mexico) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 14:5. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198905-341040



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

On 14 May, Julián Flores (geologist) and José Angel Cortés (alpinist) climbed to the summit to sample recent ejecta, and observe morphologic changes and current activity. The summit crater, 400 m in diameter, was filled with irregular blocks. On the N side of the summit area, a dome 200 m in diameter rose 40-60 m above the crater rim; the SW-W side was occupied by a platform with an irregular surface; and a depression 100-150 m in diameter extended 15-20 m below the lowest point on the crater's SE rim. The main fumarolic activity was from three areas, on the W, N, and E sides of the dome, and appeared to have increased since the last visit by Flores and Cortés on 20 April 1988. Vapor emission was brownish; the dark plume color has at times misled distant observers who have reported eruptions. The fumaroles were relatively dispersed, with gases emerging between blocks, depositing red, orange, yellow, and white sublimates.

The depression formed 2 July 1987 after a phreatic explosion and avalanche was deeper than during the previous visit to the summit in 1988. The area was warm, but no fumarolic activity was occurring. Samples from the bottom of the depression were collected for analysis. The remainder of the summit area was an irregular blocky surface with some small dispersed fumaroles. Winds that blow from the coast were eroding the SW flank, causing scoria and sand-sized debris to flow downslope.

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: Julian A. Flores Diaz, Instituto de Geografía y Estadística, Univ de Guadalajara.