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Excess degassing drives long-term volcanic unrest at Nevado del Ruiz

  • Authors: Nogueira Lages J.; Chacon Z.; Ramirez J.; Aiuppa A.; Arellano S.; Bitetto M.; Pena J.O.; Coppola D.; Laiolo M.; Massimetti F.; Castano L.; Laverde C.; Tamburello G.; Giudice G.; Lopez C.
  • Publication year: 2024
  • Type: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


This study combines volcanic gas compositions, SO2 flux and satellite thermal data collected at Nevado del Ruiz between 2018 and 2021. We find the Nevado del Ruiz plume to have exhibited relatively steady, high CO2 compositions (avg. CO2/ST ratios of 5.4 ± 1.9) throughout. Our degassing models support that the CO2/ST ratio variability derives from volatile exsolution from andesitic magma stored in the 1–4 km depth range. Separate ascent of CO2-rich gas bubbles through shallow (< 1 km depth), viscous, conduit resident magma causes the observed excess degassing. We infer that degassing of ~ 974 mm3 of shallow (1–4 km) stored magma has sourced the elevated SO2 degassing recorded during 2018–2021 (average flux ~ 1548 t/d). Of this, only < 1 mm3 of magma have been erupted through dome extrusion, highlighting a large imbalance between erupted and degassed magma. Escalating deep CO2 gas flushing, combined with the disruption of passive degassing, through sudden accumulation and pressurization of bubbles due to lithostatic pressure, may accelerate volcanic unrest and eventually lead to a major eruption.