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Mexico: Colima’s restlessness causes concern 3 December 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, Colima, Mexico.
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Colima volcano in western Mexico has the distinction of being the most active volcano in that country: over seventy eruptions (since 7690 BC ± 500 years) are listed by the Global Volcanism Program, with the most recent bout of activity beginning in November 1997 and still ongoing. The volcano is situated in a densely populated region, with over 30,000 people living within 40 km of its crater – as a result it is one of the sixteen Decade Volcanoes, active volcanoes seen as posing particularly high risks to populous areas.

During 2009 Colima (also known as Volcán de Fuego) has been emitting white and grey plumes that have reached as high as 6.4 km above sea level, and there have been occasional ejections of incandescent material. Both ground and air exclusion zones have been imposed around Colima by state civil protection authorities. The high level of activity has been causing some concern in the surrounding area, with reports of a ‘high possibility’ that the volcano is preparing to erupt; the authorities have responded by playing down reports of imminent risks, while stressing the need for local people to remain watchful and prepared to respond to any increase in activity.

On 26 November there was an overflight of the volcano which reported that the lava dome within the main crater of Colima, which has been growing since February 2007, now blocks 80% of the crater and has attained a height of 60 metres (another news source gives a height of 45 metres, diameter of 270 metres and volume of 2 million cubic metres). Material has accumulated against the western wall of the crater and against a section of the southern wall, which could produce occasional landslides down the western slopes of the volcano. High temperatures were reported within the crater.

Fresh lava flows and ejections of incandescent material some 50 metres from the crater were reported on 2 December. The latest available bulletin (2 December) from the Unidad Estatal de Protección Civil Colima reports continuous fumarolic activity and the ejection of incandescent material, without any damage or injuries.

Podría hacer erupción el Volcán de ColimaEl Informador, 25 November 2009
Volcán de Colima, en riesgo de erupciónEl Universal, 25 November 2009
Despierta el volcán ColimaEl Occidental, 26 November 2009
Volcán Colima no representa riesgos, según los expertosEl Informador, 26 November 2009
Realizan sobrevuelo de observación en domo del Volcán de ColimaEl Financiero, 26 November 2009
Detectan posible destrucción de domo del Volcán de ColimaExcélsior, 2 December 2009
Volcan de Colima derrama lavaEl Universal, 2 December 2009

Global Volcanism Program: Colima – information from the GVP for Colima (1401-04=)
Gobierno del Estado de Colima: Informes de Actividad Volcánica – Colima bulletins from the Colima State Government
Observatorio vulcanológico – the University of Colima volcanological observatory, with some information for Colima volcano

The Volcanism Blog



1. Guillermo - 4 December 2009

The news source says there is no risk more than an ash fall over the nearby zones, due to the ‘destruction’ of the dome. In Chaitén, a partial collapse of the dome traveled almost 10 km, so is that dependable information about Colima ?

2. Welsh_Chris - 4 December 2009

Does anyone know of a good site for a Colima webcam? Thanks

3. admin - 4 December 2009

The current Colima hazard map indicates pyroclastic flows can be expected to travel up to 12 km from the summit, and debris avalanches possibly more than 30 km from the summit, if there is a major event such as the total collapse of the dome. The news article seems to indicate that the Colima Observatory volcanologists do not expect such a major collapse, but are looking to a more limited collapse with effects restricted to the summit area plus local ashfall.

(Hazard map: http://www.ucol.mx/volcan/imagenes/mapa.gif)

Chris, all I can find is the link on the Colima Observatory website to two webcams, both apparently non-functional at the moment:


4. Ted Rose - 4 December 2009

The UdeColima had two webcams. However they have not been on-line for several years. They say they have budget problems.

5. admin - 4 December 2009

Ted Rose: thanks for the information. I see that the director of the Colima Observatory is quoted as saying that Colima volcano ‘es uno de los mejor instrumentados de México, de los más vigilados y estudiados’. I hope that’s true, and that they have other cameras that *are* working.

6. Bil Bahooka - 4 December 2009


The webcam works about 70% of the time… yes, the govt. took away the Universudad’s budget – mainly a political thing (as usual).

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