Injuries at "eruption" in northwest Colombia
I write the Eruptions blog on Big Think. I've been mesmerized with volcanoes (and geology) all my life. It helps that part of my family comes from the shadow of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia, where I could see first hand the deadly effects of volcanic eruptions. Since then, I've taken a bit of a winding path to become a volcanologist. I started as a history major at Williams College, almost went into radio, but ended up migrating to geology, including an undergraduate thesis on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. I followed this up by changing coast to get my Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Then I ran a MC-ICP-MS lab at University of Washington for a spell (and wrote for an indie rock website). I spent three years as a postdoctoral scholar at University of California - Davis studying the inner workings of magmatic systems. I am now an assistant professor at Denison University and have projects in New Zealand, Chile and Oregon.
I am fascinated by volcanoes, their eruptions and how those eruptions interact with the people who live around the volcanoes. I started this blog after getting frustrated with the news reports of volcanic eruptions. Most of them get the information wrong and/or are just sensationalistic. I will try to summarize eruptions as they occur, translate some of the volcanic processes that are happening and comment on the reports themselves.
And no matter what people tell you, I definitely do not have a cat named Tephra. (OK, I do).
You can find out more about my research by visiting my website. If you have any comments, questions or information, feel free to contact me at eruptionsblog at gmail dot com.
I've just run into brief reports about a new "eruption" in Colombia - but not the normal kind of eruption. Now, the one of the articles in English that I have found describes the 25 injuries as a result of people trying to "escape the lava." However, it is pretty clear in other reports that this was a "mud volcano" rather than a magmatic one. The location of supposed eruption (spanish) is 40 km the town Arboletes in northwest Colombia, which is not a volcanically active area - but some of the reports describe the eruption as a "mud volcano" (spanish) that was preceded by a "large flame". The pictures associated with the "eruption" (spanish; see below) also indicate that is was a "mud volcano", so any report that people were outrunning lava is clearly erroneous. This is, in fact, the second time an event like this has happened near Arboletes.
Mud volcanoes are very similar in their dynamics to eruptions of low viscosity lava - you can read a good description of how they work here. Wet sediment can get trapped in the strata, where pressure can build until that "mud" finds a path to the surface. Natural gas is common with other mud volcanoes, so the report of a flame associated with the "eruption" is not too surprising. The most famous recent mud volcano is in Lusi in Indonesia - and was likely triggered by manmade drilling in the area.
UPDATE: I'm just adding this short article because they have the gall to put a picture of the 1991 eruption of Pinatubo to illustrate this mud volcano. Wow.
Top left: Mud from the October 19 "mud volcano" in Arboletes, Colombia.
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