Colima (Volcano Week 7)

Tuesday, 28th August 2012 by

Colima is an active volcano in Mexico — one of the most active in North America. With an elevation of 4,270 metres, it is the sixth-highest peak in Mexico.

Due to its frequent eruptions, Colima has a very symmetrical cone-shape.

Like many volcano chains, there are at least two major peaks in the volcano complex: Nevado de Colima, which is older and inactive, sits 5 kilometres north of the younger and more active Volcán de Colima. The two peaks are visible from the nearest highway.

A common saying is that Colima has been active for 5 million years, but one of the most active phases in the lifespan of the volcano began in 1998 and is still in progress. It has experienced significant eruptions in 1998, 1999, 2005, 2006, and 2007. Here it is in action in 2007:

Photo courtesy of Colima Volcano Observatory, 2007.

However, its 1913 eruption is considered a 5 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (on par with the 1980 eruption of Mt. Saint Helens). Although its lava flows have never hit populated areas, another eruption on that scale could be devastating as more than 300,000 people now live within 40 kilometres of the volcano.

The ten highest peaks in Mexico are all volcanoes. We might not think of Mexico as a mountainous region, but it is located on the Ring of Fire and it does have active volcanoes erupting nearly every year — the most active of which is Colima.