Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sotara Volcano In Columbia Stirs

Seismicity has been increasing in a long dormant volcano in Columbia. The Sotara Volcano on the Western Rim of Columbia has begun to exhibit signs of magma dike intrusion, as gas levels and earthquakes are increasing. This is somewhat unexpected as the volcano does not have a recent history of eruptions, and none in historical time, although it does display fumerolic and hot spring activity. Inflation has been occurring to the SE of the volcano according to

Currently, due to the increase in seismicity, the alert level has been raised to "Yellow (III)" on a scale of 1-5. This does not mean an eruption is imminent from the volcano, however given its past quiescence, one could expect an increase in fumerolic/phreatic activity, and/or an eruption. The volcano is not a well known volcano, and has no historical record of any eruption. Evidence suggests that the volcano is capable of a wide variety of eruptive characteristics. The summit contains three irregular shaped calderas, and a summit dome, and there is evidence for pyroclastic flows in the past. The volcano is absolutely capable of minor phreatic eruption pyroclastic cone building events, and massive caldera forming collapses, however caldera formation is unlikely given its dormancy.

Columbia is currently experienceing a heightened state of activity regarding its volcanoes. Galeras, Nevado del Ruiz, Nevado del Huila, Cumbal, and now Sotara are all displaying heightened states of activity, with Galeras being the most disruptive of the bunch. None of course are life threatening if proper evacuation orders are followed, and Columbia, given the previous activity of Galeras, boasts a very well designed volcanic warning system.

While it is likely that the volcano may not erupt soon, any activity at long dormant volcanoes is taken with absolute seriousness by surrounding towns, and governments, and will be closely monitored. It is not unusual for volcanoes that have been dormant for long periods of time to suddenly spring to life, as has been evident in the recent eruptions of Redoubt in Alaska, Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, Nabro in Eritrea, and others around the world. Even some supervolcanoes such as Uturuncu in Bolivia are displaying at least some renewed activity. This is to be expected given the geology of larger, more complex volcanoes, as they did not build their massive structures in days or years. It took eons, and eons to build some of our most revered mountains.

I will be following any developments regarding the Colombian volcanoes, as it seems, this is the place for a volcano geek to be! Check back here for updates!

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