Increased seismic activity and degassing at Colombia’s Puracé volcano

purace volcano colombia

On October 25, 2023, Colombia’s Puracé Volcano experienced a noticeable increase in seismic activity, with earthquakes reaching a maximum magnitude of 1.0. Located between 1 and 4 km (0.6 – 2.5 miles) in depth, these quakes coincided with higher degassing levels and persistent high CO2 values.

On October 25, the Colombian Geological Service (SGC) under the Ministry of Mines and Energy reported that the Puracé Volcano showed a significant rise in the number of earthquakes linked to the fracturing of rocks within the volcanic system. The earthquakes were localized towards the southeast of the Puracé crater, specifically between the volcanic structures of Puracé and Piocollo, at depths ranging from 1 to 4 km (0.6 to 2.5 miles).

In addition to the seismic activity, camera footage revealed increased degassing from the volcano. While sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels remained stable, carbon dioxide (CO2) values were notably higher compared to data from the first half of 2023. On-site measurements also identified thermal anomalies with low energy, exhibiting temperatures between 30 and 150 °C (86 and 302 °F). These values surpassed the thermal data collected from 2018 to 2022.

The last eruption of Puracé Volcano was recorded on March 29, 2022, and was classified as VEI 1. The volcano has a history of VEI 2 eruptions spanning the past 200 years, including two episodes of VEI 3 eruptions in the years 1947 – 1852 and 1869.

Geographically, Puracé is an andesitic stratovolcano with a 500 m-wide (1 640.4 feet) summit crater, constructed over a dacitic shield volcano. It is situated at the northwest end of a volcanic massif, opposite the Pan de Azúcar stratovolcano, 6 km (3.72 miles) to the southeast. A group of seven cones and craters, known as Los Coconucos, lies between these two major volcanic structures.

Puracé Volcano is part of the Cinturo Andino, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

References:

1 Boletín Extraordinario del Volcán Puracé del 25 de octubre de 2023 – SGC – October 25, 2023

2 Purace – Geological summary – GVP

Featured image credit: Federmán Escobar Chávez

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