Nevado del Ruiz Volcano | World’s Most Dangerous Volcanoes
Nevado del Ruiz Volcano | About
Nevado del Ruiz, also known as La Mesa de Herveo, is a volcano that resides in Colombia. The Nevado del Ruiz volcano is approximately 80 miles west of the city of Bogota. It is scientifically considered a stratovolcano, which means diverse and multitude compositions of layers exists among rocks and solid ash deposits. The Nevado del Ruiz volcano has been considered an active volcano for about two million years. It has erupted during three-time spans. Don’t forget to read my how to survive a volcano guide when you are finished here.
NOTE: If you live in the area of a volcano, make sure you have your bug out bag essentials packed and ready to go.
Nevado del Ruiz Volcano Eruptions
In Febuary of 1845, Nevado del Ruiz erupted channeling large amounts of muddy deposits down into the Lagunillas River valley. That meant the mudflow from the eruption traveled for over 40 miles. At least 1000 people were killed, as was a significant amount of fish and plant life, which were all a result of the mudflow.
In the spring of 1595, the Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupted. There were three different eruptions inside the single major event. The sound of the eruptions could be heard for over 60 miles in distance. Massive amounts of ash blackened the skies giving way to the appearance of night time conditions. Three days prior, a significant earthquake event took place, which was a likely precursor to the massive eruption. The lava spewed and funneled into local rivers, which caused the rivers to stop flowing and killed off massive amounts of fish and plant life. The death toll of the Nevado del Ruiz volcanic eruption was around 600 persons.
The 1985 Nevado del Ruiz Volcano Eruption: The most modern volcanic eruption event for Nevado del Ruiz came in 1985. In the fall of November, 1984, scientist began to notice that the region was experiencing amped up seismic activity. Sulfur deposits and small eruptions also began to serve as indicators that Nevado del Ruiz was on the brink of a potential catastrophic eruption. In September of 1985, a magma spewed from Nevado del Ruiz and into a water causing explosive steam clouds. Later that fall, the activity overall decreased, but concerned remained high over the status of the volcano. Scientists later revealed that a number of small earthquakes in the region were likely big warning signs that the volcano was ready to blow its top. At the time of the earthquakes, scientists didn’t equate them to indicators but later reversed their line of thought. This would later be criticised as some believe that larger loss of life was a result of less warning and preparedness, which seemingly came right when the eruption was about to occur.
After both carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide were found near the surface of the volcano, officials in the region began to grow confident that a major volcano was on the horizon. Warnings and preparedness guides were sent out to all those living in the region. The sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide content increased as magma rose to the surface, indicating that Nevado del Ruiz was now in a state of potential eruption. On November 13th, 1985, Nevado del Ruiz began the process of eruption. Fragments of dacitic tephra were sent nearly 20 miles into the air. It was a sulfur heavy eruption. Glaciers and snow-covered regions in the area began to melt as pyroclastic flows began to travel down Nevado del Ruiz. Lakes were destroyed as the magma polluted waters.
The Nevado del Ruiz had been a dormant picture-esq mountain in the region for so long, the idea of an eruption seemed fantasy. Colombia’s government felt that specific agencies warning of the potential for eruption were raising unnecessary fears. Due to this, the warnings were not sufficient enough to move people out of harm’s way. A major electrical storm hit the region on the same night as the eruption, which destroyed the power grid and blew out communication efforts that could have saved more lives. So this disabled last-minute efforts to remove people from the danger zone.
All in all, the 1985 Nevado del Ruiz volcano eruption killed 23,000 people and destroyed at least 5,000 homes. The small town of Armero was hardest hit. They lost almost 3/4 of their total population due to having little to no warning. The magma traveled 20 feet per second, giving hardly anyone in the path of the eruption very little chance for survival. Many of the people who did inevitably survived were injured. And many of those indicated that they never were given any warning at all, something officials have contended wasn’t true (they claim it was distributed, albeit late). This was a senselss tragedy considering that some officials did try to warn Colombia’s government.
Nevado del Ruiz Volcano | Recent News
The Nevado del Ruiz remains an active volcanic threat in the region. Due to the 1985 eruption’s death toll and economic failures, the region takes Nevado del Ruiz extremely serious. Increased activity in the volcano began to be noticed in October of 2010, which caused a yellow alert to be raised for those living in the area. Earthquakes followed for several months after the noted chemical changes to the volcano. In 2012, ash deposits were seen by pilots flying over Nevado del Ruiz. The alert was raised to orange following this sighting as well as several more earthquakes and ash deposits. On May 3rd, the activity lessened and the warning level was lowered back to yellow. But one month later, earthquakes in the region forced officials to raise the warning level back to orange. Ash consistently fell from the skies for months following and in June, more earthquake activity was noted near Nevado del Ruiz. This promoted evacuations in the area of up to 1,500 persons who lived dangerously close to the volcano.
After the alert level was raised to red, an eruption took place on July 2, 2012 and lasted through August. In January of 2013, more ash plumes were noted.
I appear that efforts to restart a project for geothermal exploration are potentially going to happen in the region, according to thinkgeoenergy.com. This would help Colombians make better use of their energy.
image credit: By U.S. Geological Survey – “Volcano World” subpage page from the University of Oregon, image licensing confirmation on that page., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=259736
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.
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