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Colima (volcano)

Colima (volcano)

Overview

The Colima Volcano is currently one of the most active volcanos in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and in North America. It has erupted more than 40 times since 1576.

Despite its name, only a fraction of the volcano's surface area is in the state of Colima; the majority of its surface area lies over the border in the neighboring state of Jalisco
Jalisco
Jalisco officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Jalisco is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is located in Western Mexico and divided in 125 municipalities and its capital city is Guadalajara.It is one of the more important states...

, toward the western end of the Eje Volcánico Transversal mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

.
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The Colima Volcano is currently one of the most active volcanos in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and in North America. It has erupted more than 40 times since 1576.

Despite its name, only a fraction of the volcano's surface area is in the state of Colima; the majority of its surface area lies over the border in the neighboring state of Jalisco
Jalisco
Jalisco officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Jalisco is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is located in Western Mexico and divided in 125 municipalities and its capital city is Guadalajara.It is one of the more important states...

, toward the western end of the Eje Volcánico Transversal mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

. It is about 485 km (301.4 mi) west of Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 and 125 km (77.7 mi) south of Guadalajara, Jalisco
Guadalajara, Jalisco
Guadalajara is the capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco, and the seat of the municipality of Guadalajara. The city is located in the central region of Jalisco in the western-pacific area of Mexico. With a population of 1,564,514 it is Mexico's second most populous municipality...

.

There are two peaks in the volcano complex: Nevado de Colima (4330 m), which is older and inactive, lies 5 kilometers north of the younger and very active 3860 metre Volcán de Colima (also called Volcán de Fuego de Colima).

Since 1869-1878, a parasitic set of domes, collectively known as El Volcancito, have formed on the northeast flank of the main cone of the volcano.

Geological history


The Colima volcano has been active for five million years. In the late Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 era, a huge landslide occurred at the mountain, with approximately 25 km³ of debris travelling some 120 km, reaching the Pacific Ocean. An area of some 2,200 km² was covered in landslide deposits. Massive collapse events seem to recur at the volcano every few thousand years.

The currently active cone is situated within a large caldera
Caldera
A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, such as the one at Yellowstone National Park in the US. They are sometimes confused with volcanic craters...

 that was probably formed by a combination of landslides and large eruptions. About 300,000 people live within 40 km of the volcano, and in light of its history of large eruptions and situation in a densely populated area, it was designated a Decade Volcano, singling it out for study.

Current activity


In recent years there have been frequent temporary evacuations of nearby villagers due to threatening volcanic activity. Eruptions have occurred in 1991, 1998–1999 and from 2001 to the present day, with activity being characterised by extrusion of viscous lava
Lava
Lava refers both to molten rock expelled by a volcano during an eruption and the resulting rock after solidification and cooling. This molten rock is formed in the interior of some planets, including Earth, and some of their satellites. When first erupted from a volcanic vent, lava is a liquid at...

 forming a lava dome
Lava dome
|250px|thumb|right|Image of the [[rhyolitic]] lava dome of [[Chaitén Volcano]] during its 2008–2009 eruption.In volcanology, a lava dome is a roughly circular mound-shaped protrusion resulting from the slow extrusion of viscous lava from a volcano...

, and occasional larger explosions, forming pyroclastic flow
Pyroclastic flow
A pyroclastic flow is a fast-moving current of superheated gas and rock , which reaches speeds moving away from a volcano of up to 700 km/h . The flows normally hug the ground and travel downhill, or spread laterally under gravity...

s and dusting the areas surrounding the volcano with ash
Volcanic ash
Volcanic ash consists of small tephra, which are bits of pulverized rock and glass created by volcanic eruptions, less than in diameter. There are three mechanisms of volcanic ash formation: gas release under decompression causing magmatic eruptions; thermal contraction from chilling on contact...

 and tephra
Tephra
200px|thumb|right|Tephra horizons in south-central [[Iceland]]. The thick and light coloured layer at center of the photo is [[rhyolitic]] tephra from [[Hekla]]....

.

The largest eruption for several years occurred on May 24, 2005. An ash cloud rose to over 3 km over the volcano, and satellite monitoring indicated that the cloud spread over an area extending 110 nautical miles (203.7 km) west of the volcano in the hours after the eruption http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/VAAC/ARCHIVE/COLI/2005E240658.html. Pyroclastic flows travelled four-five km from the vent, and lava bombs landed 3–4 km away. Authorities set up an exclusion zone
Exclusion zone
An exclusion zone is an area that protesters are legally prohibited from protesting in.Exclusion zones often exist around seats of government and abortion clinics. As a result of protests by the Westboro Baptist Church at the funerals of soldiers killed in the Iraq War, 29 states and the US...

 within 6.5 km of the summit.

On June 8, 2005, the volcano erupted again in its largest recorded eruption in several decades. Plumes from this eruption reached heights of 5 km (>3 miles) above the crater rim, prompting the evacuation of at least three neighboring villages.

See also

  • 4000 meter peaks of Mexico
  • 4000 meter peaks of North America
  • List of volcanoes in Mexico
  • Mountain peaks of Mexico
    Mountain peaks of Mexico
    This article comprises three sortable tables of the major mountain peaks of Mexico.Topographic elevation is the vertical distance above the reference geoid, a precise mathematical model of the Earth's sea level as an equipotential gravitational surface. Topographic prominence is the elevation...

  • Mountain peaks of North America
    Mountain peaks of North America
    This article comprises three sortable tables of major mountain peaks of greater North America.This article defines greater North America as the portion of the continental landmass of the Americas extending northward from Panama plus the islands surrounding that landmass...


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