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Eruption at Galeras, Colombia 18 January 2008

Posted by admin in activity reports, Colombia, eruptions, Galeras.

Galeras volcano in Colombia erupted yesterday, 17 January 2008, at 20:06 local time (18 January 2008, 01:06 GMT). More than 2000 people were evacuated from the vicinity of the volcano, which overlooks the city of Pasto, in south-western Colombia, near the border with Ecuador.

At 20:20 local time the Pasto observatory of INGEOMINAS, Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Pasto, issued a special communiqué confirming that ‘on 17 January 2008 at 20:06 (local time) there was an explosive eruption of the volcano Galeras. Therefore the current level of activity at the volcano has changed to level 1: eruption imminent or in progress’. There were no reports of damage or injuries.

The Mexican newspaper Milenio Diario quotes local inhabitants as saying that this eruption was ‘the strongest in more than twelve years’, and reports that ‘incandescent elements’, fumarolic activity and the deposit of volcanic ash ’caused panic among some people’ in Pasto. El País reports that ash fell in ‘Consacá, Nariño and La Florida’, and that the head of the Colombian Red Cross has said that emergency contingency plans for are in place in the areas affected but that a full-scale evacuation has not been ordered. The governor of Nariño Department (of which Pasto is the capital) reassured local residents that ‘Although the eruption was strong and was preceded by a few small earthquakes, it is not too big and does not generate significant danger to the population of Pasto’, reported Reuters Latin America. In an Associated Press report, Fernando Gil of the Colombia Seismological Network called it the most severe eruption of Galeras since 1989, but said that ‘most of the city [Pasto] is not in danger’.

Galeras is one of the most frequently active volcanoes in Colombia, and has been identified as one of the most potentially dangerous in the world (see the USGS Decade Volcanoes site) because of its high level of activity and its proximity to large populations. Its most recent significant eruption was in July 2006, when more than 8000 people were evacuated from the surrounding area. In November 2007 the volcano’s activity provoked a precautionary evacuation.

Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program – summary information for Galeras (1501-08=)
Portal Corporativo de INGEOMINAS – Instituto Colombiano de Geología y Minería
Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Pasto – Pasto volcanological observatory main page

Se registra erupción en volcán Galeras de ‘carácter explosivo’Milenio Diario, 18 January 2008 (Spanish)
Crece preocupación por actividad del GalerasEl País, 18 January 2008 (Spanish)
Reportan erupción del volcán Galeras en el suroeste de Colombia – Reuters América Latina, 18 January 2008 (Spanish)
Colombia’s Galeras volcano erupts – Associated Press, 18 January 2008

The Volcanism Blog


1. Mary Lou - 23 January 2008

As one who has climbed part way up the trail on the side of Galeras to get a better view of Pasto with a friend who lives on the mountain, I wish good luck to the ones who live with the unpredictable sleeper. Better planning exists in a third world country, where an evacuation plan exists should a natural disaster occur.. what’s wrong with this picture?

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