The ash-fall hazard from a Plinian eruption at Colima Volcano, Mexico

Rita Fonseca

Abstract


The historical eruptive activity at Colima Volcano has been characterized by Strombolian and Merapi type eruptions and Vulcanian explosions associated with dome growth, which have ended in a Plinian eruption about every 100 years. The situation now prevailing at Colima Volcano is similar to that which preceded these explosive eruptions, when a dome fills the crater. This study proposes seven scenarios for the ash-fall from a Plinian eruption, based on historical eruptive activity, isopach thickness from the 1913 Plinian eruption, land use, socioeconomic data, and a 15-year statistical wind study realized with daily radiosonde data grouped according to four altitudinal levels: 4,000-9,000 (I); 9,000-14,000 (II); 14,000-17,000 (III) and 17,000-28,000 (IV) m a.s.l., based on common wind speeds and directions. We have integrated the wind distribution at level IV and estimated the ash dispersion for a Plinian eruption. From January to March, the main impact would be towards the northeast, in April and in October, towards the east, in May, towards the north-northeast or north-northwest, from June to August, towards the northwest, in September, towards the west, and in November and December, towards the west-southwest. The fallout would damage the coniferous forests of the Colima National Park, two lagoons and three lakes. More than 30 million people living in Guadalajara, Mexico City, Leon and Colima would suffer eye, respiratory and skin problems. The proximal areas, such as Ciudad Guzman, would be subject to roof collapsing and communication problems. The agricultural and livestock sectors would suffer severe financial losses. The Queseria sugar mill, the Atenquique paper mill, and the cement plants in Zapotiltic would halt work due to chimney obstruction and machinery abrasion. Four thermoelectric plants, twenty airports and four commercial ports would be affected if the eruption occurs in summer.

Keywords


Ash-fall hazard; Colima Volcano, Mexico

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References


DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-4872
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X