Colombia Earthquake

Strong earthquake in Colombia at intermediate depth (felt in Cali and Medellin)

Last update: January 5, 2014 at 6:44 am by By Ashish Khanal

Update 06:39 UTC: The red cross of Colombia reports that 1 house was affected in Balboa and there are visible cracks in the fire station of  Quinchía in Risaralda .

Update 06:26 UTC: A landslide blocked the route between Yumbo and Mediacanoa.

Update 04:33 UTC :  Local sources are locating the epicenter in Sipí, Chocó. The Fire Departments of the region have not received any calls of damage yet. Based on our experience 2 to 3 hours is at least needed to assess eventual damage, although we expect NO serious damage or injuries from this earthquake

Update 04:12 UTC :  Ingeominas Colombia reports a Magnitude of M5.2 at a depth of 32 km, less than initially reported by some international agencies.

Update 04:06 UTC :  Based on the (back office) MMI shaking values people have felt the earthquake as a moderate to strong shaking in the populated areas closest to the epicenter.

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Update 03:58 UTC : Preliminary Magnitude as reported by USGS : M5.3 at a depth of 61 km. Based on the available data at this moment, we do not think that this earthquake will generate serious damage.

Strong earthquake in Colombia at intermediate depth
The depth of the earthquake is the reason that the earthquake was felt in a wide radius.

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40km (25mi) W of El Dovio, Colombia
51km (32mi) WNW of Roldanillo, Colombia
55km (34mi) W of La Union, Colombia
57km (35mi) W of Toro, Colombia
279km (173mi) W of Bogota, Colombia

129 km N of Cali, Colombia / pop: 2,392,877 / local time: 22:36:41.0 2014-01-04
40 km S of Nóvita, Colombia / pop: 1,898 / local time: 22:36:41.0 2014-01-04

Most important Earthquake Data:

Magnitude : 5.4

Local Time (conversion only below land) : 2014-01-04 22:36:36

GMT/UTC Time : 2014-01-05 03:36:36

Depth (Hypocenter)  : 49 km


Colombia Earthquake Activity

Earthquake Swarm at Machín in Colombia

The forested dacite domes of Cerro Machín, nested within an older caldera. Pyroclastic flow deposits from Machín have been traced upwards of 40 kilometers from their source at the volcano. Image: INGEOMINAS, taken November 16, 2011.

I like to keep close tabs on the volcanoes in Colombia — with half of my family living in the country, it seems only appropriate. Some of my first volcanic memories are of seeing firsthand some of the lahar deposits at Nevado del Ruiz from the 1985 eruption. Now, at that time, only two Colombian volcanoes really made any noise: Galeras in the south near Pasto and the aforementioned Ruiz in central Colombia. Nowadays, thanks to increased monitoring on Colombian volcanoes by INGEOMINAS, we know a lot more about the restless nature of the volcanoes of the South American country. Five volcanoes are now on elevated alert status, meaning that they show some level of activity that could lead to an eruption: Ruiz, Galeras, Cumbal, Sotará, Huila and Machín.

Over the past week, Cerro Machín, a dacite dome complex to the  to the south Ruiz near Ibagué, has been feeling some increased seismicity. The INGEOMINAS special bulletin details a M2.9 earthquake that occurred at a depth of ~4.7 km beneath the volcano that was felt by local residents. This was part of a swarm that produced over 210 earthquakes in a few hours on February 10 — all within 2 and 5 km depth, but all very small. Now, before you need to get too nervous about this activity, INGEOMINAS rightly points out that these swarms have occurred before at Machin and that sensitive new seismometers are likely to notice this type of activity that might not have been noticed in the past. Not a lot to see, but in the small chance that Machín does get more active, the Observatorio Manizales has a webcam pointed at the volcano. Machín’s last known eruption was over 800 years ago.

Right now, the most active volcano in Colombia is still Nevado del Ruiz. The volcano is still experiencing elevated seismicity, along with a ~950 meter steam plume that occasionally has minor ash as well — which can be seen via webcam, weather permitting.


Colombia Massive Earthquake

Massive earthquake near Pasto, Colombia – Also well felt in Ecuador – tens of houses collapsed, 3 people with minor injuries

Last update: February 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm by By

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Most important Earthquake Data:

Magnitude : 6.9

Local Time (conversion only below land) : 2013-02-09 09:15:57

GMT/UTC Time : 2013-02-09 14:15:57

Depth (Hypocenter)  : 124 km

Roundup of the damage reported so far (all in Colombia) :
El Charco : 3 slightly injured people
Cali : Minor damage like cracks in houses
Narino : at least 20 collapsed houses
Timbiquí : 3 collapsed houses
Buenaventura : 6 houses seriously damaged
Popoyan (The Tunnel) : 5 houses severely damaged
Bella Vista de Guapi : 2 houses damaged to some extend
Update 17:57 UTC : Civil Defense in Colombia reports that at least 120 houses have been damaged by the shaking. No serious injuries reported so far, but 7 people have been treated for minor injuries.

Update 17:28 UTC : Almost all reported serious damage and collapsed houses happened in the flat area of the Pacific Coastal plain.

for more information and updates, go to:

(Please consider a small donation to the earthquake report site.  These guys do an amazing job, and will be more and more necessary as the Earth movements continue and intensify.)

Colombia/Ecuador Earthquake

Massive deep earthquake felt all over Colombia and Ecuador – October 1 update

Last update: October 1, 2012 at 8:04 am by ByArmand Vervaeck and James Daniell

Earthquake overview : A massive subduction earthquake occurred below the Colombian Andes at 11:31 local time. Due to the very deep hypocenter, this earthquake will probably not lead to damage or inju

Update Oct. 1 – 07:30 UTC :
– The village of Timbiqui (Cauca) has been the most affected during this earthquake. 15 to 20 houses have been damaged. The damage was reported rather late as there was no communication and is it was difficult to reach it by road. Timbique is located in the coastal flat area and has apparently a soft soil. Nobody has been reported injured.
– In Cali 2 hospitals reported slight damage as the plaster and parts of the ceiling came down. Some patients were moved to other rooms as a precaution for eventual aftershocks.
– The video below shows the gentle swaying of this earthquake in Cali, Colombia.

Peak velocity image courtesy USGS

Update 21:47 UTC : Colombian reports are maintaining the GREEN status = NO damage or injuries.

Update 20:05 UTC : As expected in the beginning of this article, some minor damage was reported at some official buildings like fallen plaster from walls and ceilings, fallen objects, etc. Nothing really serious that people should leaving the building because of a danger of collapse. We continue to follow up the situation and will report when new reports are being published.

Update 20:01 UTC : The rumor that 2 people were killed in the Esmeraldas province was DENIED by the authorities. This rumor circulated on twitter. There is really nothing reported so far the official said.

Update 18:48 UTC : Good preliminary news from inside Colombia (intermediate report as a lot of villages near the epicenter have still to be visited) : NO serious damage or injuries

Update 18:48 UTC : The Colombia National System of Risk Management had indicated that the earthquake has been felt in the following departments : Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Huila , Risaralda, Quindío, Santander, Antioquia, Caldas, Tolima, Chocó y Cundinamarca.

Update 18:40 UTC : The Colombian Civil defence services (FOPAE) are currently assessing the situation in the many villages closest to the epicenter.
As could be expected people fled to streets when the shaking started (instead of staying inside and following the advise of the specialised services). Running outside to an open space can better be done when the shaking stops.

Update 18:21 UTC : USGS has changed his Pager color from Green to Yellow, a move we do not like at all. This indicates that there is certainly a chance on fatalities from secondary effects like landslides and Rockfall. We do not expect any shaking fatalities as the max. shaking reported is a V MMI (moderate shaking)

Update 17:52 UTC : The massive earthquake wave is now travelling around the world and will be noticed on every seismograph worldwide. A good example is the below graph at El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain. The wave departed at the epicenter at 16:31:34 UTC and arrived at El Hierro at 16:42. It took the earthquake wave only 11 minutes to travel this huge distance from Colombia to the Canary Islands

Seismogram at El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain – The strong amplitude is the Colombian earthquake arriving at El Hierro

Update 17:45 UTC : USGS has updates Magnitude and depth again (complicated calculations) and report now a Magnitude of M7.3 at a depth of 162 km.
Update 17:38 UTC : We would not be surprised that some Central American countries may have felt this earthquake too, especially Panama and Costa Rica. When you live in Panama or in Costa Rica, please tell us with the form below when you have felt some shaking
Update 17:33 UTC : To understand todays earthquake one should imagine that a huge explosion takes place at a distance of 150 km, the impact will be considerable but normally not damaging. If in such a case the depth would have been at 15 km, this earthquake would have been normally a very devastating one as the same explosion would have arrived as a destructive wave.
Update 17:20 UTC : Popoyan, a Colombian city close to the epicenter is reporting a light MMI IV shaking, which is a good sign
Update 17:17 UTC : Distance from the epicenter to the capitals of the 2 neighbouring countries Colombia and Ecuador is about the same (Bogota and Quito).
Update 17:12 UTC : We do repeat that deep earthquakes who do originate in the solid hot mantle of the earth are mostly harmless. As every earthquake is different such an expectation is based on numbers only. Secondary effects like Rockfall and landslides may always cause damage and injuries (mainly depending on the weather conditions)
Update 17:08 UTC : Most important cities near the epicenter and their (probable) experienced shaking values
Moderate MMI V shaking : San Agustin 9000 people, Isnos 5000, Saladoblanco 1000,  Pitalito 53000, Palestina 2000 and Elias 1000
Update 17:01 UTC :
* 2 million people are expected to have felt a moderate shaking
* 14.5 million people a light shaking and 10 million people a weak shaking. These 3 shaking values are normally NOT generating any damage. Small cracks in walls and falling objects are often experienced though.

USGS shaking map based on a M7.1 magnitude and a depth of 150 km

Important Update 16:57 UTC : USGS has just decreased the Magnitude from M7.4 to M7.1 at a depth of 150 km. These are very good numbers which confirm the incoming intensity (shaking) values
Update 16:54 UTC : First incoming reports are talking about a weak to very weak shaking, which is exactly what we did expect. In some cases a moderate shaking may be experienced, but we are quiet sure that this earthquake will not generate serious damage or injuries.
Update 16:49 UTC : A tsunami is NOT possible because of the epicenter who is located below land (far inland)
Update 16:46 UTC : Please omit the depth of Geofon in the listings. 10 km in in many cases reported as a “we do not know it yet” depth. Both USGS and EMSC are reporting a very weakening 168 and 140 km depth. This depth is normal as this is clearly a subduction earthquake generated by a moving Nazca plate who did hang below the continental South American Plate.
Update 16:43 UTC : Biggest city in the greater epicenter area : Popoyan  Epicenter is located on the stateline in between Cauca and Huila.
Update 16:42 UTC : Preliminary data are reporting an epicenter at 23 km from La Vega, Colombia. Preliminary Magnitude is M7.4 !
Update 16:38 UTC : This earthquake, which is not extremely dangerous if the preliminary data are correct (depth +150 km), will be felt ina very wide radius of hundreds of km. We do not have yet official data.
Based on the number of visitors joining us from Colombia, we believe that an earthquake occurred in Colombia
When you have felt an earthquake a little while ago, please write us what you have felt as soon as possible

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : Mw 7.3
UTC Time : 2012-09-30 16:31:35 UTC
Local time at epicenter : 2012-09-30 11:31:35
Depth (Hypocenter) : 162.1 km
Geo-location(s) :
10km (6mi) WNW of Isnos, Colombia
34km (21mi) WNW of Pitalito, Colombia
60km (37mi) SSE of Popayan, Colombia


On the Volcanoes of Columbia

The Volcanoes of Colombia: More Active or Just More Watched?

  • By Erik Klemett
  • It wasn’t too long ago that Galeras was the only show in town in Colombia. After Nevado del Ruiz settled from its eruptions during the 1980s, there wasn’t much other volcanic activity in the South American nation than the ever-active Galeras near Pasto. However, now it seems that more volcanoes are getting the attention of the INGEOMINAS (the Colombian Geological Survey). With all this news of Colombian volcanoes, I thought I’d offer a brief tour of the action. Remember, Colombia has a few dozen potentially active volcanoes, so this activity shouldn’t be too surprising. You can check out this page to see what each of the INGEOMINAS alert status mean.

A webcam capture of the June 30, 2012 eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia. Most of the volcano is obscured by clouds, but the grey-brown ash plume spread ash across the countryside. Image courtesy of INGEOMINAS.


Nevado del Ruiz

After an almost 2o year slumber, Nevado del Ruiz has sprung back to life this year, with multiple small, ashy explosions (see above) and constant seismicity that might be leading to more vigorous eruptions (or might not). A few thousand people have needed to evacuate the slopes of the snow-covered volcanoes, mostly due to the threat of lahars generated by these explosions and rapid melting of snow and ice at the summit. Ash continues to fall on areas around the volcano as the activity waxes and wanes as well. The latest update from INGEOMINAS on the activity at Ruiz has the volcano at Orange Level II status, meaning eruptions should be expected in days to weeks.


Machín, a neighbor of Ruiz, has also seen elevated levels of seismicity over the past few years. Nothing has occurred beyond earthquakes that suggest rock fracturing  that could be hydrothermal or magma movement under the volcano. Machín hasn’t erupted in over 1100 years and not much is known about the dome complex that sits within a 3-km caldera. INGEOMINAS currently has the volcano at Yellow Alert III due to the continued seismicity.


After over 450 years of quiet, Nevado del Huila came back to life in 2008 with a series of small explosions that has produced ash falls, lahars and lava domes at the summit of the volcano (totally a VEI 3 eruption so far). The eruption is considered to be ongoing, although right now the volcano is merely steaming from fumaroles at the summit and experienced tens to hundreds of small earthquakes each week. Huila currently sits at Yellow Alert III.

The steaming summit of Cumbal seen on August 1, 2010. Fumarolic activity such as this is common at Cumbal, but increased seismicity has prompted an increase in the alert level. Image courtesy of INGEOMINAS.


The latest volcano to join the parade of elevated activity is Cumbal (see above), a composite volcano that last erupted in 1926. A report that was issued yesterday (July 11) from INGEOMINAS has raised the alert status to Yellow Alert III after noticing increases in earthquake swarms under the volcano, along with an increase in the temperature of fumaroles at the summit of Cumbal. There has also been reports of noises coming from the volcano in the past few week as well. Much like Machín, not much is known about Cumbal, with only one other known eruption (in 1877). However, Cumbal has rumbled before without producing any eruption.


Even less is known about Sotará, a small volcano near Popayán. There have been no known historic eruptions of Sotará, however in late June, seismometers recorded a swarm of over 900 small earthquakes under the volcano. INGEOMINAS did not raise the alert status for Sotará after the swarm, and the swarm seems to be very transitory in nature – not much activity before and after the June 30 swarm.


The southernmost volcano in Colombia, Galeras continues to sit at Yellow Alert III. The volcano has not been as eruptively active over the last few months than in recent years, but seismicity continues as does sulfur dioxide emissions. INGEOMINAS describes the current activity as “a reflection of an evolving process that initiated mainly by the intrusion of magmatic material that began to emerge in mid-March 2012″ – that suggests a period of slow dome growth at Galeras right now.

Does all this activity mean that volcanism is on the rise in Colombia? Probably not – in fact, this might be a great case on how increased volcano monitoring helps us become more aware of how restless volcanoes can be when they aren’t erupting or about to erupt. Many of the volcanoes on Yellow Alert III status, like Cumbal and Machin, are only experiencing earthquakes are no one on the surface would even notice. So before many of these volcanoes were wired with seismometers, they could have experienced activity like this and no one would notice. The same can be said for volcanoes worldwide – we can capture so much more subtle information about volcanic activity today than we could even 15 years ago. This can give that false impression that there is more volcanic activity, but rather, we’re just getting more information about what volcanoes do all the time.


Nevado fel Ruiz Volcano Nearing Eruption?

Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia May Erupt in “Days to Weeks”

The small steam plume from Nevado del Ruiz, seen on March 27, 2012. Image from INGEOMINAS Colombia.

Some news brought to my attention by Eruptions reader Sherine merited a quick Saturday post. Thedeveloping volcanic crisis at Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia looks like it is continuing to escalate. INGEOMINAS, the Colombian geological survey, released a “special bulletin” this afternoon elevating the alert status at Nevado del Ruiz to Orange Level (II). This means that the signs of activity at the volcano suggest that an eruption is likely in the days to weeks timescale. Marta Calvache from INGEOMINASmentioed that over the past few days the volcano has experienced tremor related to “fluid motion” (likely magma), rock fracture earthquakes at the summit have been increasing in pulses and sulfur dioxide emissions continue to be high.


So far, INGEOMINAS thinks any potentially eruption will be smaller than the activity seen during Ruiz’slast eruptive period between 1985-1989. The major hazard from Ruiz is the lahars that can be generatedas ash and other volcanic material mix with melted snow and ice at the summit. There is also the potential for ash fall (especially hazardous for those with respiratory problems) on towns and cities in the area, including Manizalez and Pereira, both of which are less than 50 km from the volcano, and Bogotá, only ~120 km from Ruiz. If you live in the area around Ruiz, be sure to examine the INGEOMINAS volcanic hazard map to see the places with the highest probability of lahars and pyroclastic flows. Taking a look at the INGEOMINAS Azufrado webcam for Ruiz, a plume can be seen coming from the summit area (see below) while the webicorder shows the increasing seismicity as well. You can also get a glimpse of the volcano from an INGEOMINAS webcam in Manizalez.

Webcam capture from March 31, 2012 showing a small plume from Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia.



Nevado del Ruiz Volcano in Colombia Heating Up

Increasing Volcanic Unrest Observed at Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia

The crater of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia seen on March 8, 2012. The area is obviously warm and INGEOMINAS scientists noticed ash in the crater area as well.

Eruptions reader Sherine pointed me towards the recent updates from INGEOMINAS in Colombia onNevado del Ruiz. The volcano hasn’t erupted in over 20 years, but the signs are beginning to point towards a potential revival of the volcano.


INGEOMINAS scientists were able to do a flyover with the Colombian Air Force and got a number of shotsof the summit area. They also reported “ash on the glacier, near the crater rim and on the eastern flank of the same,” likely from a February 22 explosion from Ruiz. The steam plume from the main crater on the day of the flyover was ~1.4 km / 4,500 feet. That same day, a seismic signal of tremor associated with multiple small ash emissions were reported along with an increase in sulfur dioxide emissions. All of these events suggest that Ruiz is seeing heating in the summit area and likely phreatic explosions. The increased sulfur dioxide would additionally suggest new magma in the volcano. The shots of the summit area clearly show steam coming from the crater, although it is doesn’t appear to show any new material in the crater. Shots of the entire summit show ash on some of the snow-covered areas as well (see below – grey on foreground slopes of the volcano).

The summit area of Nevado del Ruiz. In the foreground a small dusting of ash can be seen on the snow. The plume seen here reaches ~1.4 km.

Most people are familiar with Nevado del Ruiz due to the eruption in 1985 that killed over 23,000 people. That disaster was caused by a lahar (volcanic mudflow) generated by a small eruption from the summit crater melting the abundance ice and snow at the summit. The most recent pictures of the summit area (see below) show that there is plenty of snow to make lahars a very real hazard if Ruiz where to begin to enter a new period of eruption.