Volcano Case Study: Nevado Del Ruiz, Colombia

The previous eruption of Nevado Del Ruiz occurred in 1845. The town of Armero was built on top of the previous lava flow from this eruption, illustrating that any subsequent lava flow would travel in a similar direction.

  • The volcano erupted on November 13th, 1985 from the Arenas Crater.
  • It melted the glacier on the summit, even though it was a relatively small eruption.
  • This meltwater mixed with mud, resulting in 25mph mudflows flowing towards Armero. Mudflows covered 85% of the town, killing 21,000 people.
  • However, the composition of the mud allowed many people to float, saving many lives. As well as this, bodies could be¬†recovered following the eruption, despite many being located in non-accessible areas.
  • Rescue equipment struggled in the mud, meaning people could only be rescued by air which, with a shortage of helicopters, was challenging.
  • The eruption also occurred in the night, delaying rescue efforts.
  • Foreign medical assistance arrived several days later, at which time it was too late.
  • 10,000 people were left homeless after the disaster and temporary shelters were established.
  • Pipelines were damaged, disrupting the water supply and promoting the spread of waterborne disease like cholera and typhoid.
  • There was no FEMA equivalent in Colombia, perhaps explaining the high death rate.

4 thoughts on “Volcano Case Study: Nevado Del Ruiz, Colombia

  1. Preparedness where people lived near volcanoes are a necessity. Unfortunately there are no equivalent of FEMA in countries like Columbia. And it is unfortunate thet the town was actually rebuilt over previous lava flows. We read that even till now there remains risk to surrounding towns and villages because even small eruptions lead to lahar. Should people be moved?

    Liked by 1 person

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