Volcano of Fire lives up to its name


Wed, May 25, 2005 - Page 7

A major eruption shook the Volcano of Fire in the western state of Colima on Monday, sending a pyroclastic flow of burning gas and rocks fragments more than 4km down the slopes and sending clouds of ash 3km into the air.

No injuries or damages were reported in the uninhabited areas near the volcano's summit -- the nearest settlement is about twice that distance from the peak -- but experts called it the biggest explosion in more than a decade at the Volcano of Fire.

"It was the strongest explosion we have seen since 1991," said Tonatiuh Dominguez, a seismologist at the volcano observation station run by the University of Colima.

"This was a cloud of burning material that traveled down the slope at basically ground level," Dominguez said, warning that the peak" is still in an explosive stage."

Individual chunks of rock were blown as far as 4km to the west, while the pyroclastic flow mainly streamed down the eastern flanks, according to a statement by the observation station.

Vulcanologists consider the Colima volcano to be one of the most active and potentially the most destructive of the volcanoes in Mexico.

It has erupted violently dozens of times since its first recorded eruption in 1560.

Monday's eruption occurred just before sunset; the ash cloud was blown by the wind toward the west, away from the most heavily populated areas.

The eruption at the 3,820m volcano located 690km northwest of Mexico City, was considered larger than one in 1999 but smaller than a huge 1913 blast.

The 1913 explosion created a crater 550m deep, blasted fast-moving flows of hot ash down the volcano's slopes and rained ash on Guadalajara, 120km to the north.