Nevado del Ruiz: May 19 (1942 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, May 19, 22:42 p.m., Pacific: There is a transcript available at the YouTube video of this morning’s UNGRD press conference, but as an outsider, I found the speech too specific and condensed to understand well.

Instead, I’m passing along El Tiempo’s report of the press conference:

The director of the National Unit for Risk and Disaster Management (UNGRD), Olmedo López , announced at a press conference a change in the way the evacuation area around the Nevado del Ruiz volcano will be specified.

“Initially, 15 kilometers had been defined in a complete radius, where intense work was done on the evacuation, but today it changes to a model established by the Colombian Geological Service in 2015,” López explained.

In the words of the director, this means that “the form of measurement changes to a polygon established in 2015, measured at risk by the tributaries that come from the Central Cordillera.”

The entity explained that this change was generated to intensify the areas of greatest threat, where volcanic phenomena such as pyroclastic density currents, mud flows, debris avalanches, volcanic gases , ballistic projectiles, among others, can coexist.

“Efforts will be concentrated in the department of Tolima in five municipalities and 40 villages, and in one municipality in the department of Caldas (Villamaría) ,” added the entity’s director.

This is under the headline that UNGRD has removed Riseraldas from the exclusion zone.

That area, per this story, is the “fundamental asset to awaken Colombia’s tourism.”


This ongoing crisis is terribly hard on the economy. Yet it worries me that they have switched focus from “Nevado del Ruiz” to “Central Cordillera” and stepped almost a decade into the past for justification of this move.

I’m not going to judge — I’m not the one who’s between a rock and a hard place right now.

I hope it works out for everyone.

Update, May 19, 2023, 10:03 a.m.: Here is the SGC update today, with emphasis by either them or me:

From 9:00 a.m. yesterday (May 18) until the time of publication of this bulletin, the seismic activity associated with rock fracturing inside the volcanic edifice maintained similar levels in the number of earthquakes and in the seismic energy released, compared to the previous day. (May 17th). This seismicity was located in the north-northeast, south and southeast sectors of the volcano, at a maximum distance of 8 km from the Arenas crater, with depths ranging between 1 and 6 km, and low magnitudes.

In relation to the seismicity related to the movement of fluids inside the volcanic conduits, this activity maintained low levels in the number of earthquakes and in the seismic energy released, which were similar to the previous day (May 17). Some of the seismic signals were associated with pulsatile ash emissions confirmed through the web cameras used for volcanic monitoring.

On the other hand, variations continue in the degassing of sulfur dioxide and the release of water vapor from the crater into the atmosphere. The maximum height of the column of gases was 1000 m, measured from the top of the volcano. The dispersal direction of the column was predominantly west to northwest and, to a lesser extent, southwest of east.

Additionally, yesterday the Colombian Air Force (FAC) made an overflight around the volcano. Unfortunately, it was not possible to visualize the bottom of the Arenas crater, due to the large amount of gases and steam that the volcano emitted at the time of the overflight. However, on the surface it was possible to observe the different sources of degassing of the volcano (places where the gas comes out), as well as the accumulation of ash around the crater.

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 TERMS 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:

I’m looking online for video from that Air Force overflight, in addition to a transcript of the UNGRD press conference (below).

Update, May 19, 2023, 9:42 a.m., Pacific: Still waiting on an SGC update, but the director of UNGRD just gave a press conference (Spanish only, so far, which means I don’t understand it yet; will keep an eye out for the transcript):

Featured image: Ric Photography/Shutterstock

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