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Report on Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) — 29 March-4 April 2023

Nevado del Ruiz

Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 29 March-4 April 2023
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2023. Report on Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 29 March-4 April 2023. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (29 March-4 April 2023)

Nevado del Ruiz


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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Servicio Geológico Colombiano’s (SGC) reported that thermal anomalies, persistent in Arenas Crater at Nevado del Ruiz since October 2022, were low-to-moderate in intensity. Seismicity increased significantly on 24 March, characterized by rock-fracturing earthquakes mainly located 2-5 km SW of Arenas crater at depths of 2-4 km. On 28 March there were 6,500 of these events, the highest daily count since 2010. The number of daily events continued to increase and on 29 March the seismic network recorded 11,000 earthquakes, the highest daily count since seismic monitoring began in 1985; on 30 March there were 11,600 earthquakes. The maximum magnitudes per day were also increasing, with a M 2.6 on 24 March, a M 2.7 on 29 March, and a M 3.1 on 30 March. The earthquake locations migrated towards Arenas Crater, though the depths remained within the same range. The Alert Level was raised to Orange, Level II (the second highest level on a four-level scale) on 30 March. In addition to the swarm, seismic signals indicating fluid movement continued to be recorded and some were associated with ash emissions; the tallest plume on 30 March rose 1.8 km above the summit and drifted NW and SW.

The number of earthquakes on 31 March totaled 8,800 with a maximum magnitude of 2.6 event at 1236. The number of signals indicating fluid movement increased during 31 March-1 April and were likely associated with ash emissions. Gas-and-ash plumes rose as high as 1.3 km above the summit and drifted SW and SE. A total of 10,400 earthquakes were recorded on 1 April with the largest event, a M 3.1, recorded at 1040. On 2 April a total of 5,400 earthquakes were recorded and the largest event (M 2.3) occurred at 1122 and was located 4.3 km SW of the crater. Ash-and-gas emissions persisted and rose to 1.2 km above the summit and drifted SW and NW. Ashfall was reported in Brisas y de Potosí by Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados officials. The Gestión del Riesgo de Desastres (UNGRD) reported that there were 57,000 people living in 22 municipalities in the departments of Tolima, Caldas, Risaralda, Valle del Cauca, Quindío, and Cundinamarca who could be impacted by Nevado del Ruiz. Preparations and coordination for a possible evacuation of residents were centered on areas in high-risk zones including the municipalities of Villamaría in the department of Caldas, Casabianca, Herveo, Murillo, and Villahermosa in Tolima, and the sector of the Gualí River in the municipality of Guaduas, Cundinamarca.

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.

Sources: Servicio Geológico Colombiano (SGC), Gestión del Riesgo de Desastres (UNGRD)