Seismic activity related to the 1991 eruption of Colima Volcano, Mexico

Research paper by Francisco Núñez-Cornú, F. Alejandro Nava, Servando De la Cruz-Reyna, Zenón Jiménez, Carmen Valencia, Rosalía García-Arthur

Indexed on: 01 Aug '94Published on: 01 Aug '94Published in: Bulletin of Volcanology


Ten years after the last effusive eruption and at least 15 years of seismic quiescence, volcanic seismic activity started at Colima volcano on 14 February 1991, with a seismic crisis which reached counts of more than 100 per day and showed a diversity of earthquake types. Four other distinct seismic crises followed, before a mild effusive eruption in April 1991. The second crisis preceded the extrusion of an andesitic scoriaceous lava lobe, first reported on 1 March; during this crisis an interesting temporary concentration of seismic foci below the crater was observed shortly before the extrusion was detected. The third crisis was constituted by shallow seismicity, featuring possible mild degassing explosion-induced activity in the form of hiccups (episodes of simple wavelets that repeat with diminishing amplitude), and accompanied by increased fumarolic activity. The growth of the new lava dome was accompanied by changing seismicity. On 16 April during the fifth crisis which consisted of some relatively large, shallow, volcanic earthquakes and numerous avalanches of older dome material, part of the newly extruded dome, which had grown towards the edge of the old dome, collapsed, producing the largest avalanches and ash flows. Afterwards, block lava began to flow slowly along the SW flank of the volcano, generating frequent small incandescent avalanches. The seismicity associated with the stages of this eruptive activity shows some interesting features: most earthquake foci were located north of the summit, some of them relatively deep (7–11 km below the summit level), underneath the saddle between the Colima and the older Nevado volcanoes. An apparently seismic quiet region appears between 4 and 7 km below the summit level. In June, harmonic tremors were detected for the first time, but no changes in the eruptive activity could be correlated with them. After June, the seismicity decreasing trend was established, and the effusive activity stopped on September 1991.