Bulletin of Volcanology

, 78:8 | Cite as

Seismic characterisation of lahars at Volcán de Colima, Mexico

  • R. Vázquez
  • E. Suriñach
  • L. Capra
  • R. Arámbula-Mendoza
  • G. Reyes-Dávila
Research Article


Volcán de Colima is one of the most active volcanoes in Mexico, not only for its eruptive history, but also for its annual occurrence of lahars. This makes the volcano a natural laboratory for monitoring and studying lahar processes. Since 2011, monitoring instruments have been deployed along the highly active Montegrande ravine, with at least three lahar events per year. Here, we report the datasets of three events collected during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, then interpret the acquired data. An event classification scheme based on lahar magnitude, duration and seismic characteristics is presented to distinguish “single-pulse” events (SPEs) from “multi-pulse” events (MPE). SPEs lasted approximately 60 min, had average velocities of ~2 m/s and mean peak discharges of ~24 m3/s. MPEs endured for more than 3 h, reached mean velocities of ~4.5 m/s and peak discharges of ~60 m3/s (for block-rich surges). The seismic signal-analysis also allowed us to discriminate physical flow fluctuations within single lahars, i.e. between the arrival of block-rich fronts and subsequent variations in flow discharge. The exponential regression analysis showed a best fit, with correlation coefficients around 0.92 and exponential coefficients of ~0.01 s, for the block-rich fronts, with seismic amplitudes increasing from 4.8 × 10−4 to 2.3 × 10−3 m/s and frequency ranges from 10 to 20 Hz. The variations in flow discharge were distinguished by lower amplitudes of ~5.7 × 10−4 m/s than those of the block-rich fronts and with frequency ranges of 10–40 Hz. The results presented in this paper demonstrate that the seismic data of events allowed us to describe and discriminate among different flow types; these records are thus a useful investigation tool for lahar events that have a seismic record but are not observed directly. We propose that a seismic early warning system can be developed to help civil protection authorities in designing risk mitigation strategies.


Lahars Real-time monitoring Seismic signals Volcán de Colima 



This work was supported by the CONACyT 99486, PAPIIT-UNAM IN-106710, and SRE-CONACyT 146324 projects to Lucia Capra. The Spanish MINECO project CGL2013-40828-R partially supported this investigation. Thanks to the staff of Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED) for the instrumentation setup in the Montegrande monitoring site. Thanks to Penélope López for managing the Spot image acquisition from ERMEX-SPOT IMAGE S.A. The first author spent 6 months in the Departament de Geodinàmica i Geofísica, at Universitat de Barcelona, and wish to thank them for the support during that time. Special thanks to the associate editor Gert Lube for handling this paper and the two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments that greatly improved this work.

Supplementary material

445_2016_1004_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (12.8 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 13125 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de GeocienciasUNAM-Campus JuriquillaQuerétaroMéxico
  2. 2.Grup d’Allaus (RISKNAT), Geomodels Research Group, Department Geodinàmica i GeofísicaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de ColimaColimaMéxico
  4. 4.Centro Universitario de Estudios e Investigaciones en VulcanologíaColimaMéxico

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