Four weeks after the Nevado del Ruiz volcano began to show signs of reactivation, the Colombian volcano continues to increase its seismicity, according to the Colombian Geological Service (SGC). This reactivation is nothing more than an increase in the intensity of an eruptive period that has been going on for almost nine years.
Sulfur dioxide and water vapor. The last extraordinary bulletin issued yesterday by the SGC spoke of an increase in seismic activity in the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in previous days.
This activity was related to the movement of fluids inside the volcanic conduits and the emission of gases such as sulfur dioxide and water vapor, as well as ash. The column of gases reached a height of 1.8 kilometers above the top of the volcano.
Thus, the level of activity of the volcano continues in orange. The authorities still do not know for sure if the eruption will occur, although this is an outcome that they consider likely. In this case the activity level will turn red. If the levels of activity are subsiding, it will be necessary to wait several weeks until the authorities consider that it is possible to go to the yellow level.
A volcano in constant eruption. This increase in volcanic activity is the largest since the beginning of the last eruptive period of the Colombian volcano, which began in November 2014. For eight years, a lava dome has remained stable under the bottom of the volcano’s crater.
Geologists began to observe in October 2022, thanks to satellite measurements, the persistence of thermal anomalies in the volcano’s crater. It was from March 24 that the seismic activity began to intensify and a week later the activity level turned orange.
Regarding the causes of this new increase in activity, the SGC points out that it is probably a magmatic intrusion, “a process by which magma moves from a deeper source to the surface.” According to this hypothesis, the magma would be moving through the La Palestina fault system, one of the main ones in the country.
Ingredients for the explosion. The authorities monitor the activity of the volcano very closely, and it is not for less. The Nevado del Ruiz is an explosive type volcano. This implies that its eruptions can reach enough power to fracture the rock and eject it at high speeds and temperatures.
The most tragic example of this occurred during the 1985 eruption, the Armero Tragedy. It is estimated that the eruption of the volcano took the lives of 25,000 people, as well as the town of Armero itself, a municipality in the department of Tolima.
The snowfall of ruiz. The volcano is located between the departments of Tolima and Caldas, in the Central Cordillera. It rises to 5,321 meters above sea level. It is a stratovolcano (that is, composed of numerous geological strata) with two “parasitic” cones: La Olleta and La Piraña.
The volcano has a base that extends for a diameter of 15 kilometers, while that of its active crater exceeds 800 meters. It could have started its eruptive history 1.8 million years ago, in the Pliocene. Its name derives from the ice cap it supports, whose volume exceeds 1.2 cubic kilometers of ice and snow.
In Xataka | The “eternal summer” of 2022 already has a suspect: the largest eruption of a volcano in the modern era
Image | Colombian Geological Service (SGC)