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Report on Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — June 1989

Nevado del Ruiz

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 14, no. 6 (June 1989)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) Sharp increase in seismicity precedes ash emission

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1989. Report on Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 14:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198906-351020

Nevado del Ruiz


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Seismic energy release has been at increased levels since about February 1988. A sharp increase in seismicity began on 24 June 1989 with a felt earthquake (M 3.1) in Arenas crater. The next day, a shallow swarm of high-frequency events (also in Arenas crater) began at 1130 and continued for 1 hour. From 0100 to 1100 on the 26th, another high-frequency swarm was centered at 4 km depth, 3 km W and SW of Olleta crater (Olleta is roughly 5 km W of Arenas crater). Late that evening, a shallow high-frequency swarm began in Arenas crater, followed by strong tremor associated with a small ash emission that deposited 1 mm of ash, 4 km from the crater. The press reported that the civil aeronautics board issued a warning to airline pilots to avoid a 60-km area around the volcano. Tremor gradually diminished, disappearing on 28 June. SO2 emission was moderate during June. Dry and electronic tilt did not show significant changes. As of 10 July, a yellow alert remained in effect for population within a 10-km radius of the volcano.

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: C. Carvajal, INGEOMINAS, Manizales; Reuters.