Authorities have issued a “yellow alert” for a region in central Colombia following minor seismic activity in one of the country’s most active volcanos.
At 2:29 AM on Sunday morning, a 2.9 magnitude earthquake hit the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, according to the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory in the nearby city of Manizales. The yellow alert signifies that affected areas in the bordering states of Tolima and Caldas should remain vigilant in the face of potentially shifting volcanic activity brought on by the earthquake.
Authorities have good reason for caution.
At 17,457 feet tall, the Nevado del Ruiz is one of Colombia’s most hulking volcanoes, with an eruptive history stretching back 1.8 billion years. The volcano is characterized by pyroclastic flows that cause mudslides, or lahars.
In 1985, one such lahar, the biggest on record, made international headlines, burying at least three surrounding towns and killing 25,000 people.
Previous reports have indicated that the Nevado is poised for another eruption in the near future, an event that could carry devastating consequences for nearby populations. As recently as last May, another minor earthquake sent plumes of ash drifting over surrounding towns.
So far, there has been no indication that any major event is proximate, though authorities have not said when they plan to lift the alert.
Nevado del Ruiz
- Bulletin extraordinary activity of Nevado del Ruiz, June 29, 2014, 3:00 a.m. volcano (Servicio Geologico Colombiano)
- Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales (Facebook)
- Authorities on alert internal earthquake in Snowy Ruiz (El Pais)
- El Nevado del Ruiz mantiene la alerta amarilla tras un sismo (Vanguardia)