Colombia: Galeras Volcano IASC Situation Report no. 2

LEVEL III: Changes in the behavior of volcanic activity

On Thursday, 17 January, INGEOMINAS registered an explosive eruption by the Galeras volcano at 20:06. The alert level was raised from Level III to Level I: Imminent or on-going eruption, a situation never before witnessed.

On 19 January, INGEOMINAS declared Level II activity: eruption probable in a matter of days or weeks. The volcanic activity has been slowly dropping in terms of frequency and energy, which is associated with degasification processes which typically occur following an eruption, as occurred on 17 January.

On 21 January, INGEOMINAS indicated that it had modified its alert to Level III, indicating that the seismicity of the volcano continues to drop in terms of frequency and energy. Field observations have allowed to determine that the ashes initially turned towards the southwest, changing later to the west. The size of the emissions and dispersion by wind varied from fine to very fine ash, predominantly composed of vitreous lithic with few crystal formations.

Nonetheless it should be highlighted that the activity of Galeras volcano continues, with fluctuations, and variation over time.


General panic occurred among the inhabitants of Pasto following the explosion and 5 seismic events which occurred during the night of Thursday 17 January. The eruption was particularly felt in the veredas of Chorrillo, Yunguillo and Pueblo Viejo in Nariño municipality, in El Barranco in La Florida municipality and in Genoy, Mapachico, Los Lirios, El Rosal and Chaguayaco in Pasto municipality. From Consacá municipality, inhabitants reported ash falling. There were no reports of deaths, injuries or disappeared persons. Nonetheless there were reports of damage in rural properties.

There was the collapse of telephone services following the fall of two antennas around the Galeras volcano and a collapse of vehicle access in Pasto. Out of the 12 available shelters, 9 were improved to have capacity for 8 thousand people in the high threat area, nonetheless on 17 January a Colombian Red Cross census only reported 109 people residing, 96 in Pasto, 13 in La Florida and none in Nariño. On 18 January, according to a consolidated report from CRUE Nariño, 215 were evacuated to temporary shelters. On 19 January, at 10:00am, there were only 5 people in the Fontibón shelter and the remaining shelters were empty.


- Based on the Level I declaration by INGEOMINAS, was activated immediately by CREPAD Nariño and CLOPAD Pasto, Florida and Nariño.

- It was decided to evacuate the corregimientos of Genio and Mapachico to temporary shelters previously established.

- It was determined to evacuate healthcare institutions in La Florida municipality.

- The firefighters and Colombian Red Cross managed potable water supplies for shelters. The coordination of shelters is managed by the Colombian Red Cross and Civil Defense.

- Due to the collapse of two antennas located around Galeras volcano, communications were being activated for the healthcare sector via an antenna located in Cerro Mora Surco, which will also be used by aid and security organizations.

- Requests were made to DNAPD to provide support with food and cleaning kits for the sheltered population.

-I DSN activated the emergency hospital network and reinforced the CRUE support system, which establishes communication between hospital centers in the high and medium threat zone. The EDAN-health team was also activated.

- The closure of the road around Galeras and the road to El Tambo was decided by the Nariño police and INVIAS, in order to assure there is no mobility through the threat zone.

- CREPAD was held on 18 January, Friday, at 12:30pm. Mayors were reminded of the importance of maintaining an evacuation while Level I persists.

- On 19 January, a work agenda was defined with Mayors and local committee members to train new personnel and update inventories.

- On the same day, the CLOPAD of Pasto continued to implement the Contingency Plan and preventive evacuation order for the community.

- It was decided in the committee to reduce to the maximum the resources available in shelters, given the minimal numbers sheltered.

- The healthcare sector continues revising and updating available hospital capacity figures.

- The next meeting of the EDAN health team is programmed for 21 January.

- The CREPAD and EDAN will continue with programmed planning exercises in order to strengthen new administrations in natural disaster emergencies.


Following the issuance of the INGEOMINAS Level I report, UNS field agencies activated internal emergency mechanisms. The UNDSS contingency plan was reviewed and updated.

UOS-Pasto and OCHA-Southwest coordinated and established that the PAHO/WHO personnel will be in permanent contact with OCHA on CREPAD evaluations.

From the moment of the emergency, PAHO/WHO provided technical support to local and regional authorities, jointly performing a situation evaluation; given the renunciation by communities of an evacuation, and taking into account that less than one month ago new authorities took control of emergency management, it has been vital to realize adjustments to proposed scenarios in healthcare contingencies and response plans and new training processes have been initiated both among Mayors and responsible officials for local and healthcare committees.

IOM has been in constant communication with INGEOMINAS in order to have official information on Galeras volcano, providing information for IASC Nariño and sitrep, and participating in CREPAD.

OCHA was named as security focal point on 17 January. It facilitated the holding of IASC for 18 January for evaluation of the situation.

On 20 January, there were communications tests made in order to verify that there were no errors in VHF radios and to locate potential evacuation sites, Chachagüí and Laguna de La Cocha.

In order to monitor the emergency situation and create a joint report a IASC regional committee meeting was called.


INGEOMINAS reports that in the week between 9 and 14 January a total of 109 seismic events were recorded. Of those, 39 events were associated with rock fractures, 63 with fluid dynamics within volcanic ducts, an event with mechanisms including rock fracturing and fluid movement and seven shocks. It was confirmed that one of the shocks was associated with the emission of ashes to the surface.

The instability of the system continues, and it is not impossible that new events occur indicating an increase in the volcanic activity level of the Nevado del Huila volcano.