The emission of burning material from the Colima Volcano, in western Mexico, has destroyed the dome of the crater and experts expect a reduction in activity in the coming hours, members of the volcano’s scientific committee told EFE.
The specialists monitoring the activity on the mountain, located near the mutual border of Jalisco and Colima states, said that “the dome no longer exists,” meaning that the volcano “will be calm” in the coming hours, committee member Carlos Suarez said.
Although on Tuesday routine overflights were made in the area, bad weather caused by the passage of Hurricane Dolores off Mexico’s Pacific coast did not allow scientists to get a good look at the volcano’s crater, and thus it was not until after nightfall that they were able to corroborate the changed configuration of the dome.
The dome was destroyed as lava and gas spewed from the volcano starting on Friday, July 10, but the eruption became more intense on Wednesday morning, said Suarez, who added that this is part of the volcano’s “natural process.”
“This volcano has a recurring formation and creation of domes. It’s part of its process of eruptive evolution over the past four years,” he said.
Suarez, a member of the Seismology and Volcanology Center at the University of Guadalajara, said that along with these changes the flow of lava down the southern side of the mountain has also decreased and the eruptions are no longer so continuous.
However, he warned that although the risk of a powerful eruption has diminished “a little,” the crater could fill with new pyroclastic material and produce explosions and emissions similar to what was noted last Friday.
Specialists at the University of Colima said that although the mountain’s recent activity has been more intense than over the past century, so far “the eruption is not larger” than the 1913 event, which spouted a column of ash more than 20 km (12.5 mi.) high.
Authorities in Jalisco and Colima states said that 670 people had been evacuated from the vicinity of the mountain as a preventive measure and are being housed in shelters established outside the danger zone.
Currently, an exclusion zone extending 12 km (7.5 mi.) from the crater is in effect and security forces have been deployed to prevent acts of vandalism there.
Rising 3,820 meters (more than 12,500 feet) above sea level, the Colima volcano is considered to be one of Mexico’s most active, along with Popocatepetl, in the central part of the country.