Active volcanoes / Aktive vulkaner:
Galeras, Colombia   


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Galeras, a 4270-m high andesitic stratovolcano in the southwestern Colombia near the
border to Ecuador, gradually awakened again in 1988 after more than 40 years of sleep.
Galeras is situated at 1°14'N and 77°'22'W, and its active summit raises 150 m up from the
80 m deep and 320 m wide caldera, which is open to the west. The present active crater lies
about 6 km west of Pasto, a city with apprx. 300.000 (400.000?) inhabitants. There are also
three smaller craters in the caldera. The diameter on the foot of the volcano is 20 kilometers.

Longterm extensive hydrothermal alteration has affected the volcano. This has contributed to
large-scale edifice collapse that has occurred on at least three occasions, producing debris
avalanches that swept to the W and left a large horseshoe-shaped caldera, inside which the
modern cone has been constructed. Major explosive eruptions since the mid Holocene have
produced widespread tephra deposits and pyroclastic flows that have swept down all but
the southern flanks.

January 12th, 2012
INGEOMINAS reported that low-level activity continued at Galeras during 4-10 January, with steam rising from the
main crater and two craters to the N and SW (Paisita and Chavas, respectively). The Alert Level remained at III

Thursday, December 29th, 2011
INGEOMINAS reported that activity continued at Galeras during 21-27 December, with steam rising from
the main crater and two craters to the N and SW (Paisita and Chavas, respectively).

August 26th, 2010
This morning the alert-level was reduced to ORANGE.
Seismic activity went on for about 12 hours after the eruptive at 4 AM local time, but intensity
was redused during the day. However, another seismic event happended again late afternoon, similar
to the one at 4 AM. Ashfall is reported within 30 km from the crater, and there are possiblilities
that a new crater has opened up. Up to 3.000 tonns sulfur dioxide up to 400m above the top was partly
visible duringthe day. Of the 8.000 inhabitants to be evacuated, most of them refuse to live their homes
so far. Magma is still floating near the opening, and therefore reason to be prepared for new intensity.

August 25th, 2010

11.23 GMT Colombia's Institute of Mining and Geology (Ingeominas) issued a red alert warning that a second eruption of the Galeras volcano is imminent, after it erupted around 4AM Wednesday.

Colombia's Geology and Mining Institute says a burst of gases, ash and vapour rose from the volcano
at about 4 a.m. (0900 GMT) on Wednesday.

The Colombian Red Cross says 278 people have evacuated from the area around the volcano.
See our web-camera page (however, Galeras dropped out this morning)
more to follow

August 24th, 2010
Colombian Minister for the Interior German Vargas Lleras announced Tuesday that authorities will begin to evacuate
almost 8,000 people who live on the slopes of the Galeras volcano in Colombia's southern Nariño department,
after the Colombian Institute of Mining and Geology (Ingeominas) issued a code orange alert level for the volcano.

"Orange means that an erruption is probable in days or weeks," Vargas Lleras said and urged locals who could be
affected by potential lava flows to "urgently" move to temporary lodging provided by the state in the municipalities
of Pasto, La Florida and Nariño.ood and health services."

Ingeominas raised the alert to orange after a tremor measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale was registered close to Galeras' summit, as well as almost 400 tremors of varying intensity. Galeras last erupted in January. The eruption did not cause
any deaths or injuries, but lava flows running down the sides of the volcano caused forest fires.
In 2009, the volcano, considered the most active in Colombia, erupted three times. In January this year some parts
of the forest on the volcanic mountain had caught fire because of lava flowing from the volcano's mouth

Sunday, January 19th, 2008
The activity of the volcano changes. Alertlevel now set to : Level II (YELLOW) eruption likely within days or weeks)

During the last day, the seismic activity of the volcano has been declining steadily in terms of occurrence and energy,
which is associated with a gradual degassing process that usually occur after an eruptive explosion as ofJanuary 17th.

Saturday, January 19th, 2008
Despite the continuing activity and abrupt eruptions of the volcano, the residents say they are not going to the shelters because nothing ever going to happen.
At the time of the explosion last Thursday , people in the municipality of Nariño did not enter into panic, despite the
wave of the explosion was felt very strongly. During the evening the top of the mountain was covered in clouds, in the municipality of Nariño fog covered all, and no one could observe the eruption of pyroclasts and ash generated by the

There was a collapse in the media, all radiochannels were blocked, there was no contact by phone.
More seriously, in times like these, is that the population had only one thing in mind "I do not believe that anything will happen". That was why everyone with few exceptions, refused to leave their homes, farms or plots to go to the shelters
built for their safety.

With the arrival of daylight, in the early hours of Friday, the inhabitants of Nariño again had a normal day.
. Comments on what happened become part of the routine of the talks , with a "nothing will happen",
as if they were in possession of all the secrets of the nature.
See our story: Why do people live on volcanoes?

Friday, January 18th, 2008

20.06.03 local time
20.06.25                       Foto:INGOMINAS                         20.06.36

There was an explosian at Galeras yesterday night, local time. The Alertlevel is now on RED which means that an
eruption is most likely to occur any time. The occurence of these events also preceeded the eruptions of 1991, 1992
and 1993, as well as some of the eruptive episodes in 2004 and 2006. So far no evacuation has been recommended, but
people are being told what to do if the situation is getting more serious.

For a while there was an atmosphere of panic among the inhabitants of the urban area and el Panorámico, San Vicente, Anganoy and Colónin. . People came out of their houses and remained on the streets until late at night in fear of a new explosion.

The emergency agencies, which are part of the local and regional committees met last night in the Nariño to manage the evacuation of the inhabitants of the high-risk zone, that is in Genoy and Mapachico in Pasto and the urban and rural municipalities in Nariño and Florida.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005
The Colombian government on Tuesday ordered the evacuation of 9,000 people living on
the slopes of the Galeras volcano near the border with Ecuador which scientists say could

The government will pay evacuees about $40 a month to help with renting temporary
accommodation. But some peasants have told local television they do not believe the
warnings and will refuse to leave their smallholdings.

There was a minor eruption in Galeras in November, with little effect on surrounding
populations. In 1993, another small eruption killed 10 scientists who had climbed up to its

Particularly in the last days the seismic activity has presented/displayed a diminution in power
level, being located in intermediate levels of depth (between 2 and 4 km.) concentrated in the
active cone, within a radius of 1 km of distance. Most of the registered events corresponds to
small earthquakes associated with fracturamiento of solid material to the interior of the
volcanic system. The increase in the occurrence of earthquakes of fracture registered between
the night of Saturday (May 21) and the dawn of Sunday stands out (May 22).
Low gas discharges of the active cone of the Galeras. When comparing the observations
of made sobreflights days 17 and 20 of May in relation to carried out the days 29 of April
and 2 of May, note at the present time a slight increase in the amount of emitted gases.
Ash emissions have not appeared.

Monday, November 22nd, 2004
16:00 GMT/UTC, Latest from INGEOMINAS:

Not exactly clear springwater coming down from Galeras at present.

After the eruptivo event of the day of yesterday, Galeras has come showing gradual diminution
as much in the levels from occurrence like in the energy of the seismic signals. Particularly,
from the 10:00 p.m. of yesterday Sunday and until the moment of this report, the seismic
activity is low and it has stayed stable. In agreement with the instrumental registries of the
monitoreo network, it is considered that in these last hours, the processes of gas discharge
and ashes in Galeras are small. The predominant direction of the wind at this moment continues
towards the NE sector of the volcano. The climatologic conditions in the region have prevented
direct observations of the activity on the surface.

12:00 GMT/UTC, Latest from INGEOMINAS:

The eruption yesterday were felt and heard in several of the populations in the zone influenced
by Galeras, as well as in more distant localities like Cimarrones (18 km to the north),
Chachagui (17 km to the north), Laguna de la Cocha (20 km to the SE).
The effects of the shock wave varied from roar, vibration of large windows (sector of the
Valle de Atríz en Pasto) and some people confused it with a seismic movement.
View video in Windows Media here: video
Galeras has yesterday been hurling rocks for a distance of two miles and blanketing
the ground with ash,but causing no injuries, the country’s Institute of Geology and
Mines said. The eruption alsosent a column of smoke high into the Andean air.

The mid-afternoon eruption was felt 12 miles away, according to INGEOMINAS.
The Galeras volcano erupted explosively, producing a ballistic expulsion of rocks in an
eastward direction reaching about three kilometers (1.8 miles). The column of material
belched out in the eruption rose nine to 6.2 miles into the air, the statement said.

Also, the rocks that fell to three kilometers of the crater, gave rise to small fires that did not
prosper because the vegetation was humid. From last July the Galeras has expelled about
700 thousand cubic meters of ashes (850 thousand tons), that have affected cultures,
domestic sources of water and animals in 23 kilometers distances from the mountain.

Monday, September 13th, 2004
The local authorities informed that the emission of steam and gases continues but in amounts
very reduced. That has lowered to the fear and the expectations amongst the inhabitants of
the region. However, the Galeras volcano, continuous emitting ash, causing damage in the
aqueducts of several near municipalities in Nariño and have also contaminated waters of the
Cumbal river that supplies the region.

Sunday, September 12th, 2004

In the public offices of Pasto they recommended their secretaries to go to work with informal
clothes and without high heels. This is part of the prevention plans before the activity of
Galeras volcano.

Also it is advised that each dependency makes evacuation maneuverses and that their civil
employees carry a physiological serum bottle and something whereupon to cover mouth
and nose. This, in case rain containing ash arrives after an eruption. The authorities request
not to believe in rumors and to rely solely on the official official notices that come through
the local radio stations.

The recommendations were given after changes registered in the volcano, whose outcome
nobody is in capacity to predict.

People are supplying themselves with batteries, lanterns, radios, containers to store water
and tape rolls to mask. Also of food like rice, sugar, fat oils and pastes etc.

According to an inhabitant of Florida, where the firemen of Pasto yesterday distributed water
because the aqueduct was filled by ash and closed , after the eruptions of 11 and 12 of August:
"the Government promised to us to send tanks to us of storage for the water and said that five
cars cistern had been arranged to arrive, but nothing has arrived".

Saturday, September 11th, 2004

Several Colombian Newspapers report today that the Volcanic Institute INGEOMINAS
has warned the population of an immideate danger of eruption at Galeras.
The danger-zone is now 6 kilometers wide around the center of the volcano, and in
case of a violent eruption, small villages with a total of 60.000 inhabitants will be in that area.
Including Pasto, another 400.000 inhabitants live near the volcano.

Satellit-photo showing the Galeras-volcano as a light green area in center of the picture.
The city of Pasto, with 300.000 inhabitants is the red area in the center at the bottom,
just 8 kilometers from the volcano.

Thursday August 19th, 2004
INGEOMINAS reported that volcanic and seismic activity increased at Galeras on 11 August
at 23:49 when an eruption began that sent an ash-and-gas cloud to an unknown height and
generated visible incandescence. (See picture below). Later in the day, a thin plume at a height
of ~7.3 km a.s.l drifted SW into northern Ecuador. A plume also drifted NW at a height of
~6.1 km a.s.l. By 13:15 ash was no longer visible on satellite imagery.

Fine ash was deposited in villages near the volcano including, La Florida (~10 km NW of the
volcano), Nariño, Sandoná, and Consacá, and farther afield in Ancuya, Linares, and
Sotomayor (~ 40 km NW of the volcano).

News articles reported that ~230 families were evacuated mainly from the volcano's N flank.
Ash contaminated potable water in some villages, impacted farm animal's health, and left
hundreds of dead fish floating in rivers. The village of La Florida was most strongly impacted
by the eruption. On 16 August, ash emissions continued, depositing ash in several villages.
A thin plume was visible on satellite imagery extending ~75 km NW.

The inhabitants in the area sorrounding the volcano have for a long time used mask to prevent
themself breathing particles of ash.
Incandescent material has been flowing down the slopes of
the volcano and set fire to the vegetation and the crops
, and domestic and wild animal suffers.

A map has been prepared for the inhabitants of Pasto, showing riskzones and evacuation-
routes in case of a larger eruption.

On August 18th it has been reported that the eruption continues. At 02:06 local time a tremor
of 5.3 Richters scale was registered.
Credit: Smithsonian Institute, GVP and others

Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

A volcanic eruption from Galeras volcano in southwestern Colombia as seen in early morning
of August 10, 2004. The plume of ash and steam was seen moving NW at 20 knots between up
to an estimated height of 18.000 ft above sea level.
Credit NOAA

18 hours later:




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