Vigorous eruption at Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia

nevado del ruiz eruption march 20 2023 f

A vigorous eruption took place at Nevado del Ruiz volcano, Colombia at 14:02 UTC on March 20, 2023. The Alert Level remains at 3 (Yellow — the second lowest level on a four-color scale). The last major eruption of this volcano occurred in 1985 and resulted in the deaths of over 20 000 people due to lahars.

The Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia experienced several ash emissions associated with seismic signals related to the movement of fluids inside the volcanic conduits during the weekend and Monday, March 20. The volcano has been at a Yellow alert level since 2012, and it is not ruled out that it continues emitting gases and ash, which are dispersed according to the regime of the prevailing winds at the time of issuance.1

The ash emission recorded at 14:02 UTC (09:02 LT) on March 20 is the highest in recent days and was visible from Caldas, Tolima, and Risaralda due to the excellent weather conditions. The height of the column, with dispersion towards the southwest, was 2.7 km (8 800 feet) above the crater or 7.9 km (26 000 feet) a.s.l.

This phenomenon has been confirmed thanks to the cameras installed around the volcano, the reports of inhabitants in the area of volcanic influence, and the staff of the Los Nevados National Natural Park. The Servicio Geológico Colombiano remains attentive to the evolution of the volcanic phenomenon and will continue to report any changes that may occur in a timely manner, their volcanologists said.

While the current activity is not considered dangerous, it is important for the local population to remain alert and follow the instructions of the authorities. The Yellow Alert Level means that the volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background levels, or other unusual activity, and that the volcano is exhibiting signs of unrest that have the potential for increased hazards.

The Nevado del Ruiz volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Colombia and is located in the Andes mountain range, with an elevation of 5 279 m (17 320 feet).

The last major eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano occurred in 1985 and resulted in the deaths of over 20 000 people due to lahars, a type of volcanic mudflow caused by the melting of snow and ice on the volcano’s summit during the eruption.

Geological summary

Nevado del Ruiz is a broad, glacier-covered volcano in central Colombia that covers more than 200 km2 (77.22 mi²). 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 (0.62 mi) wide and 240 m (787.4 feet) 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.2


1 Emisiones de ceniza volcan Nevado del Ruiz – SGC – March 20, 2023

2 Nevado del Ruiz – Geological summary – GVP

Featured image credit: SGC

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