Colombia: Red Alert in Galeras Volcano - Situation Report No. 01


I. Highlights

- The Instituto Colombiano de Geología y Minería (INGEOMINAS) reported two explosive eruptions of Galeras volcano (Nariño department) on June 7th and 8th, 2009 at 06:38 and 07:18. This is the ninth event for the volcano thus far in 2009.

- Since June 7th, the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Pasto reported that the volcanic activity level of Galeras volcano had changed to RED LEVEL (I): IMMINENT OR ON-GOING ERUPTION.

- The authorities ordered the evacuation of 8,500 people; however, no one has reacted to this order and they remain in their communities.

II. General Situation

On June 7th, eight seconds after the eruption began, there was a seismic event registered 3km south-southeast of the Galeras crater, approximately 2km below the surface and registering 4 on the Richter scale. Also associated with this eruption was ash fall along the northwest face of the volcano. Ashes also fell on Sandoná and Samaniego municipalities. The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Pasto estimates that prior to disbursal of the ashes towards the northwest face, it reached a height of 2.5km over the summit.

In comparison with other events, the 7 June event had energy level discharge similar to the 29 April eruption, and half the discharge of the 24 April eruption.

The Local and Regional Committees for Disaster Prevention and Assistance for Nariño department and Pasto municipality (CLOPAD and CREPAD) are on stand-by awaiting activation as needed. According to information provided by INGEOMINAS, at this level there is an eruption on-going the climax of which could occur in a matter of hours or when an event is on-going. The eruption itself, whether explosive or effusive, can consist of several episodes, and the time for preparation and response is very short. For these reasons, the departmental and municipal authorities have expressed concern regarding the lack of response by the population to the evacuation order.

For their part, aid organizations are already present in the zone, to present there have been no losses of human life or damage to homes.

In 2009, Galeras volcano has had the following activity:

- 14 February 19:11 an eruption with issuance of ash and sulphuric odors. Red Alert (I).

- 20 February 07:05 expulsion of ashes. Red Alert (I).

- 12 March 19:30, changed to Orange Alert (II) and 13 March 15:55, explosion.

- 13 March 15:55, eruption accompanied by gas and ashes at 16:34 further emission was noted. Orange Alert (II).

- 24 April 07:32, two episodes. Orange Alert (II)

- 29 April increase in seismic activity. Orange Alert (II)

- 11 May 11:58, volcanic-tectonic venting. Orange Alert (II)

- 17 May 21:40, volcanic-tectonic seismic event. Orange Alert (II).

III. Needs and humanitarian response

Emergency Shelter

- All shelters at Pasto, Nariño and La Florida municipalities were open and supported by Defensa Civil, the Red Cross and Firefighters.

- Despite being at Red Alert (I), at-risk populations have not begun evacuation.


- The hospital network is on alert to respond to emergencies, however no victims have thus far been registered.

- In at-risk municipalities recommendations for ash handling have been implemented.


- So long as Red Alert (I) is maintained, the Highway Police restrict use of the road from Pasto to Nariño, La Florida and Sandoná municipalities.

Water Sanitation and Hygiene

- Experts from Instituto Departamental de Salud de Nariño (IDSN) are permanently monitoring water sources.

IV. Coordination

CREPAD Nariño is meeting periodically to monitor the situation and coordinate actions until the Alert level changes.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit