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Review and reassessment of hazards owing to volcano–glacier interactions in Colombia

  • Christian Huggel (a1), Jorge Luis Ceballos (a2), Bernardo Pulgarĺn (a3), Jair Ramírez (a3) and Jean-Claude Thouret (a4)...
Abstract

The Cordillera Central in Colombia hosts four important glacier-clad volcanoes, namely Nevado del Ruiz, Nevado de Santa Isabel, Nevado del Tolima and Nevado del Huila. Public and scientific attention has been focused on volcano–glacier hazards in Colombia and worldwide by the 1985 Nevado del Ruiz/Armero catastrophe, the world’s largest volcano–glacier disaster. Important volcanological and glaciological studies were undertaken after 1985. However, recent decades have brought strong changes in ice mass extent, volume and structure as a result of atmospheric warming. Population has grown and with it the sizes of numerous communities located around the volcanoes. This study reviews and reassesses the current conditions of and changes in the glaciers, the interaction processes between ice and volcanic activity and the resulting hazards. Results show a considerable hazard potential from Nevados del Ruiz, Tolima and Huila. Explosive activity within environments of snow and ice as well as non-eruption-related mass movements induced by unstable slopes, or steep and fractured glaciers, can produce avalanches that are likely to be transformed into highly mobile debris flows. Such events can have severe consequences for the downstream communities. Integrated monitoring strategies are therefore essential for early detection of emerging activity that may result in hazardous volcano–ice interaction. Corresponding efforts are currently being strengthened within the framework of international programmes.

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Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
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