May 15 (1700 UTC)

  • Status: Orange, but —

    They don’t usually make such tweets daily. See May 1st 5:04 p.m. update below.

  • Interactive official hazard map (autotranslated), via Relief Web; En español
  • Links to webcams, public data, and other information.
  • Update archive.

Update, 10:00 a.m., Pacific: Given the earlier notes today, the important changes noted, and this morning’s cloudiness at the volcano, will skip this morning’s video from Jhon/VIDJCB and go straight to the SGC update, released about half an hour ago (emphasis is theirs):

From 9:00 a.m. yesterday (May 14) until the time of publication of this bulletin, the seismic activity associated with rock fracturing inside the volcanic edifice showed a significant increase in terms of the number of earthquakes and seismic energy released compared to the previous day (May 13) and the week before. This seismicity was located mainly to the southwest of the Arenas crater, at a distance between 4 and 5 km from it, with depths ranging between 2 and 4 km. The maximum magnitude was 2.8 ML (Local Magnitude), corresponding to two earthquakes registered yesterday at 12:59 m. and 1:00 p.m., both reported as felt in the Lagunilla sector of the municipality of Murillo (department of Tolima).

In the same way, the seismic activity related to the movement of fluids inside the volcanic conduits, presented an increase, especially in the seismic energy released compared to the previous day (May 13). Some of the seismic signals were associated with pulsatile ash emissions, confirmed through the web cameras used for volcanic monitoring. The ash emission recorded this morning at 05:20 a.m. stands out. that generated the fall of ash in the city of Manizales and the municipality of Villamaría (department of Caldas).

Added to this, reports of the smell of sulfur were received from various sectors of Manizales. This may have occurred due to the dispersion of a high concentration of sulfur dioxide (SO2) from the volcano, which, together with some components of the ash, could react with the humidity in the environment and create an odor and an irritating sensation similar to sulfur compounds. The occurrence of this type of phenomenon does not indicate any relevant change in the volcano’s activity, it simply occurs occasionally when this type of factor comes together (SO2 concentration and high humidity), and is contemplated within the parameters of a volcano in orange activity level. It would only affect people if exposure to it is direct and prolonged over time, but this is not the case in Manizales, since sulfur dioxide concentrations decrease as they disperse in the atmosphere.

Regarding the maximum height of the column of gases and/or ash observed, it was 500 m measured from the top of the volcano. Between yesterday and today, the preferential dispersion direction of the gas and/or ash column has remained towards the west and northwest of the volcano. On the other hand, variations continue in the degassing of sulfur dioxide and the release of water vapor from the crater into the atmosphere.

All these indicators ratify what the SGC has reiterated: the activity of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano continues to be highly unstable. It is possible that the levels of seismic activity, as well as the levels of degassing or ash output, decrease or be oscillating, in the sense of increasing on some days and decreasing on others. However, this does not imply that the volcano has returned to its normal levels of activity, so it is recommended not to get used to these oscillating changes in activity and think that it is a normal activity of the volcano.

Therefore, we reiterate that the activity of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano continues at ORANGE LEVEL, which indicates that there is a probability that in days or weeks it will erupt more than it has in the last 10 years. To change the level and return to the Yellow level, a prudential time is required where trends and patterns can be observed that allow us to infer the possible decrease in activity, aspects that the current activity of the volcano still does not show. For this reason, we warn that the level of activity of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano will remain at ORANGE LEVEL for several weeks. During this time, in the event of an acceleration of processes suggesting an imminent eruption or the eruption itself occurring, the activity level will be changed to Red.

We recommend that the community remain calm, follow all the instructions of the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD) and local authorities, and be attentive to the information provided by the Colombian Geological Service on the evolution of the state of the volcano.

The level of activity of the volcano remains at ORANGE LEVEL of activity or (II): PROBABLE ERUPTION IN TERM OF DAYS OR WEEKS.

The COLOMBIAN GEOLOGICAL SERVICE will continue to be attentive to the evolution of the volcanic phenomenon and will inform opportunely about the changes that may occur.

For more information visit the following link:

Update, May 15, 2023, 8:17 a.m., Pacific: Still waiting on the official update; just wanted to share some images found on Twitter:

Update, May 15, 6:42 a.m., Pacific: Starting off a little early today. I saw this on the webicorder, with what looked like what might be a reasonably strong emission and/or steam plume, lasting a while, about four hours ago (if I’ve got all the time zones correctly accounted for):

But I saw nothing about it at the Ruiz VAAC page and nothing recent from SGC.

I was just going to chalk it off to “layperson mistake” when I saw this story (autotranslated) from a reliable source, posted within the hour, about citizens in various parts of Manizales reporting sulfur smells and ashfall.


Of note, the mountain is shrouded in clouds, and the most a recent VAAC report noted that satellites can’t image through the weather clouds, so yeah, sulfur smells and ashfall might be the only clue.

If that was an emission, it was a very limited one. But this is a good time to point out what the SHC says every day in their bulletins: the volcano is VERY unstable right now.

Featured image: Ric Photography/Shutterstock

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