Volcano Update 6/4

Eruption Update for June 4, 2012: Popocatépetl, Nevado del Ruiz, Kilauea and more

A combination of a thermal and visible image of the Royal Gardens subdivision lava flow field, showing the active (bright) and inactive (dark) lava flows. You can also notice the prominent kipuku (forest surrounded by lava flows) on both sides of the active lava flow in the foreground. Image taken on May 31, 2012, courtesy of USGS/HVO.

There is a big anniversary this week (well, other than our first wedding anniversary) – but I’ll have more on that on Wednesday. Today, I thought I’d update a few bits of volcanic news from the past week or so. If you’re looking for even more details on the week’s volcanic events, check out the latest USGS/Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program Weekly Volcanic Activity Report (of which a few of the updates get linked to below).


All eyes continue to be on Popocatépetl and the volcano clearly still deserves the attention. Over the weekend, Popo produced at least 91 explosions over a 24 hour period. However, none of the events were larger than what we’ve been seeing over the last week. In fact, UNAM scientist Giovanni Sosa Ceballos says that we shouldn’t be expecting a large Plinian eruption from Popo as its recent volcanic history doesn’t favor such behavior. This doesn’t mean that the volcano isn’t still dangerous and doesn’t entirely rule out a large event. However, looking at the past activity at a volcano is one of the best ways to know what to expect in the present. The Mexican government still has people and resources ready for evacuations if the activity gets worse.

Check out the webcams to watch Popocatépetl’s activity (conditions permitting).



Much like Popocatépetl, Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz has been rumbling much of the spring. After a brief respite, the activity at the volcano has kicked back up this week, with almost continuous ash emissions over the last few days. However, the activity hasn’t increased since the volcano was placed back on Orange alert status last Tuesday. INGEOMINAS scientists say that these ash emissions could last for days to weeks, continuing to dust the region around Ruiz with coating of volcanic ash. The Colombian and regional governments have prepared shelters for potential evacuees if the volcano’s activity increases or lahars are generated from these rewned explosions.

Be sure to watch the Ruiz webcams to see any changes at the volcano.


The lava flows (see above) and ups/downs of the Halema’uma’u Crater lava lake have continued into the early summer at Kilauea on the Big Island. The level of the summit lava lake has oscillated over the last week, changing as much as 60 meters (relative to the floor of the summit crater) and parts of the crater wall falling into the lava lake. You can also check out a brief piece of the earthquake and volcanic threat to another Hawaiian island, Maui.

image http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/multimedia/uploads/multimediaFile-382.jpg

from:    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/06/eruption-update-for-june-4-2012-popocatepetl-nevado-del-ruiz-kilauea-and-more/#more-113917

Nevado del Ruiz Volcano Spewing Ash

Ash Falls on Manizales as Colombia’s Ruiz Ramps Up Explosions [UPDATED]

  • By Erik Klemetti
The ash-rich plume from Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia, seen on May 29, 2012. Image courtesy of INGEOMINAS.


I might have guessed that just after reading an article about how USGS geologist left Colombia this week after helping set up monitoring for Nevado del Ruiz that the volcano do something. Sure enough, today the volcano experienced a series of explosions that produced ash that fell on the city of Manizales, ~30 km from the volcano. The volcano had recently been lowered from Orange to Yellow status by INGEOMINAS, however a new earthquake swarm that started at 3 A.M. on Tuesday (May 29)prompted the return to an Orange alert, meaning an eruption in days to weeks. These new explosions are spreading ash in the region near Ruiz, but I have yet to see any information about the nature of the ash – is it juvenile (new) magma or just pulverized rock fragments caused by increasingly intense steam explosions at the summit. If it is juvenile, then we might be seeing magma reaching the surface at Ruiz, with this morning’s earthquakes being the precursor signs of the magma on the move.


MSNBC posted some video of the ash fall near Ruiz – looks to be a few millimeters to a centimeter in some parts of Manizales. The video also mentions that the plume reached ~1 km. The latest INGEOMINAS update mentions that the volcano is experiencing constant tremor, similar to what occurred during the 1985 and 1989 eruptive periods, however INGEOMINAS director Marta Calvache reported that ash emissions were down this morning. It seems that the webcams for Nevado del Ruiz are only intermittently working, but the webicorder shows just how much tremor the volcano is feeling right now. You can also seen how prominent the sulfur dioxide emissions from Ruiz were on Sunday (May 27), two days before these new explosions.


The explosions have put enough ash into the skies to prompt the closure of airports in Manizales, Armenia (~60 km) and Pereira (~40 km – and my mother’s home town). Government officials have also issued evacuation orders for 500 people living near the volcano as part of the first level of response to an eruption at Ruiz. Dust masks are also beginning to be distributed to local residents as well.

There are three INGEOMINAS webcams pointed at Nevado del Ruiz, so you can check them out when conditions are right to see what the volcano might be doing.

from:    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/05/ash-falls-on-manizales-as-colombias-ruiz-ramps-up-explosions/#more-113070

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.

from:    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/03/nevado-del-ruiz-in-colombia-may-erupt-in-days-to-weeks/


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.

from:    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/03/increasing-volcanic-unrest-observed-at-nevado-del-ruiz-in-colombia/#more-99578