The Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia, responsible for one of the Western Hemisphere’s largest disasters, has displayed signs of increased activity, leading the Colombian government to issue evacuation orders in areas potentially impacted. The volcano is situated about 80 miles west of Bogotá.
Colombia’s Geological Survey reported that the number of earthquakes in the area has escalated to levels unseen since the catastrophic eruption in the 1980s, which claimed the lives of at least 25,000 people.
Consequently, authorities have elevated the alert level to orange, the second-highest on a four-stage scale. Residents that are located within the potential impact zone are currently being evacuated as a result.
The Global Volcanism Program, in a recent update on March 30, indicated that approximately 11,600 earthquakes had been detected. The movement of underground fluids is likely the cause of the heightened ash emissions. An estimated 57,000 people reside in municipalities near the volcano, with the population having grown since the Armero tragedy on November 13, 1985.
The U.S. Geological Survey stated that the last major eruption transpired during a period of significant political unrest and was obscured by a substantial storm. The resulting lahars, or volcanic mudflows, reached the town of Armero about two hours after the eruption, burying most of the inhabitants and claiming 23,000 lives. The USGS noted that a quicker evacuation notification might have saved lives if residents had moved to higher ground.
Volcanologists draw comparisons between the Nevado del Ruiz and Washington’s Mount St. Helens, as both volcanoes have the potential for explosive eruptions and destructive mudflows that engulf everything in their path.