Origin, Behaviour and Hazard of Rain-Triggered Lahars at Volcán de Colima

  • L. CapraEmail author
  • J. C. Gavilánes-Ruíz
  • N. Varley
  • L. Borselli
Part of the Active Volcanoes of the World book series (AVOLCAN)


Lahars represent a common phenomenon at Volcán de Colima, directly associated with an eruptive event, or occurring up to several years after. Most common events are rain-triggered lahars, which are generated under different meteorological and eruptive conditions in the main ravines on the flanks of the volcano. Triggering mechanisms and flow behaviour are highly influenced by rainfall intensity and contemporaneous pyroclastic activity, which can control both lahar volume and frequency. Relationships have been established between the textural features of lahar deposits and the origin and behaviour of past flows, using visual, rainfall and seismic monitoring data. Physical characteristics of the slope surfaces are important factors in determining the rate and amount of water runoff, which controls the initial bulking of the lahars. Since the last Plinian eruption in 1913, rain-triggered lahars represent the volcanic hazard that has caused the most damage to the surrounding areas. Notable damage to bridges, electricity-distribution pylons, and houses has occurred during the last fifteen years. We present a lahar hazard-zonation map to provide updated data useful for decision-making regarding possible future damage to inhabited areas around the volcano.



This work was supported by projects DGAPA-UNAM (IN-103107 and 106710), CONACyT (99486, 360) and SRE-CONACYT 146324 to Lucia Capra. We appreciate support during field work by Pablo Davila, Victor Vargas and several students from the Science Faculty of Colima University. This chapter benefits from comments by Thomas Pierson and Frank Lavigne.


  1. Alanís, R.M.: Regeneración vegetal en depósitos laháricos de la barranca Monte Grande, Volcán de Fuego de Colima. Honor’s Thesis, Facultad de Filosofia y Letras e Instituto de Geografía, UNAM, Mexico, 178 pp (2011)Google Scholar
  2. Capra, L., Macías, J.L.: The cohesive Naranjo debris flow deposit (10 km3): a dam breakout flow derived from the pleistocene debris-avalanche deposit of Nevado de Colima volcano (México). J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 117, 213–235 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Capra, L., Borselli, L., Varley, N., Norini, G., Gavilanes, J.C., Sarocchi, D., Caballero, L.: Rainfall-triggered lahars at Volcán de Colima, Mexico: surface hydro-repellency as initiation process. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 189(1–2), 105–117 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Capra, L., Macias, J.L., Cortes, A., Saucedo, S., Osorio-Ocampo, S., Davila, N., Arce, J.L., Gavilanes-Ruíz, J.C., Corona-Chávez, P., García-Sánchez, L., Sosa-Ceballos, G., Vázquez, R.: Preliminary report on the July 10–11, 2015 eruption at Volcán de Colima: pyroclastic density currents with exceptional runouts and volumes. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 310, 39–49 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carn, S.A., Watts, R.B., Thompson, G., Norton, G.E.: Anatomy of a lava dome collapse: the 20 March 2000 event at Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 131(3–4), 241–264 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cortés, A., Macías, J.L., Capra, L., Garduño-Monroy, V.H.: Sector collapse of the SW flank of Volcán de Colima, México. The 3600 yr BP La Lumbre-Los Ganchos debris avalanche and associated debris flows. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 197, 52–66 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dávila, N., Capra, L., Gavilanes, J.C., Varley, N., Norini, G., Gomez, A.: Recent lahars at Volcán de Colima (México): drainage variation and spectral classification. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 165, 127–141 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. De Belizal, E., Lavigne, F., Robin, A.K., Sri Hadmoko, D., Cholik, N., Thouret, J.C., Sawudi, D.S., Muzani, M., Sartohadi, J., Vidal, C.: Lahar hazards and risks following the 2010 eruption of Merapi volcano, Indonesia. In: Jousset, P., Pallister, J., Surono (eds.) Merapi 2010 centennial eruption. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. Spec. Issue 261, 330–347 (2013)Google Scholar
  9. Doyle, E.E., Cronin, S.J., Cole, S.E., Thouret, J.C.: The coalescence and organization of lahars at Semeru volcano, Indonesia. Bull. Volcanol. 72(8), 961–970 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Instituto Mexicano de Tecnología del Agua: ERIC II: Extractor Rápido de Información Meteorológica. CD-room (2008)Google Scholar
  11. Iverson, R.M., Schilling, S.P., Vallance, J.W.: Objective delineation of lahar-inundation hazard zones. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 110(8), 972–984 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jakob, M.: A size classification for debris flows. Eng. Geol. 79, 151–161 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Keefer, D.K., Wartman, J., Navarro, C., Rodriguez-Marek, A., Wieczorek, G.F.: Landslides caused by the M 7.6 Tecomán, Mexico earthquake of January 21, 2003. Eng. Geol. 86(2–3), 183–197 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lavigne, F., Thouret, J.C., Voight, B., Suwa, H., Sumaryono, A.: Lahars at Merapi volcano, Central Java: an overview. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 100, 423–456 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lavigne, F., Thouret, J.C.: Sediment transport and deposition by rain-triggered lahars at Merapi Volcano, Central Java, Indonesia. Geomophology 49, 45–69 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lavigne, F., Suwa, H.: Contrasts between debris flows, hyperconcentrated flows and stream flows at a channel of Mount Semeru, East Java, Indonesia. Geomorphology 61(1–2), 31–58 (2004)Google Scholar
  17. Manville, V., Németh, K., Kano, K.: Source to sink: a review of three decades of progress in the understanding of volcaniclastic processes, deposits, and hazards. Sed. Geol. 220, 136–161 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Naranjo, J.A., Sigurdsson, H., Carey, S.N., Fritz, W.J.: Eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, Colombia, on 13 November 1985: tephra fall and lahars. Science 233, 961–963 (1986)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Reyes-Dávila, G., Arámbula-Mendoza, R., Espinasa-Pereña, R., Pankhurst, M.J., Navarro-Ochoa, C., Savov, I., Vargas-Bracamontes, D.M., Cortés-Cortés, A., Gutiérrez-Martínez, C., Valdés-González, C., Domínguez-Reyes, T., González-Amezcua, M., Martínez-Fierros, A., Ramírez-Vázquez, C.A., Cárdenas-González, L., Castañeda-Bastida, E., Vázquez Espinoza de los Monteros, D., Nieto-Torres, A., Campion, R., Courtois, L., Lee, P.: Volcán de Colima dome collapse of July, 2015 and associated pyroclastic density currents. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 320, 100–106 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rodolfo, K.S., Arguden, A.T.: Rain-lahar generation and sedimentation-delivery systems at Mayon Volcano, Philippines. In: Fisher, R.V., Smith, G.A. (eds.) Sedimentation in volcanic settings. SEPM Special Publication, pp. 71–87 (1991)Google Scholar
  21. Saucedo, R., Macias, J.L., Sarocchi, D., Bursik, M.I., Rupp, B.: The rain-triggered Atenquique volcaniclastic debris flow of October 16, 1955 at Nevado de Colima Volcano, Mexico. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 132, 69–83 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Saucedo, R., Macias, J.L., Gavilanes, J.C., Arce, J.L., Komorowski, J.C., Gardner, J.E., Valdez, G.: Eyewitness, stratigraphy, chemistry, and eruptive dynamics of the 1913 Plinian eruption of Volcan de Colima, Mexico. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 191, 149–166 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Scott, K.M., Macias, J.L., Vallance, J.W., Naranjo, J.A., Rodriguez-Elizarrarás, S.R., McGeehin, J.P.: Catastrophic debris flows transformed from landslides in volcanic terrains: mobility, hazard assessment, and mitigation strategies. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1630, 61 pp (2001)Google Scholar
  24. Scott, K.M., Vallance, J.V., Kerle, N., Macias, J.L., Strauch, W., Devoli, G.: Catastrophic precipitation-triggered lahars at Casita Volcano, Nicaragua: occurrence, bulking and transformation. Earth Surf. Proc. Land. 30, 59–79 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Torres, R., Mouginis-Mark, P., Self, S., Garbeil, H., Kallianpur, J., Quiambao, R.: Monitoring the evolution of the Pasig-Potrero alluvial fan, Pinatubo Volcano, using a decade of remote sensing data. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 138, 371–392 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Van Wyk, Vries B., Kerle, N., Petley, D.: Sector collapse forming at Casita volcano, Nicaragua. Geology 28(2), 167–170 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Vazquez, R., Capra, L., Caballero-García, L., Arambula-Mendoza, R., Reyes, G.: The Anatomy of a lahar: deciphering the 15th September 2012 lahar at Volcán de Colima. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 272, 126–136 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Vazquez, R., Capra, L., Coviello, V.: Factors controlling erosion/deposition phenomena related to lahars at Volcán de Colima, Mexico. Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. 16, 1881–1895 (2016a)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Vazquez, R., Suriñach, E., Capra, L., Arámbula-Mendoza, R., Reyes-Dávila, G.: Seismic characterisation of lahars at Volcán de Colima, Mexico. Bull. Volcanol. 78(2), 8 (2016b)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Williams, S.N.: Nevado del Ruiz volcano, Colombia: the November 1985 eruption and related events. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 1987, 355–360 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Zobin, V.M., Placencia, I., Reyes, G., Navarro, C.: The characteristics of seismic signal produced by lahars and pyroclastic flows: Volcán de Colima, Mexico. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res. 179, 157–167 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Capra
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. C. Gavilánes-Ruíz
    • 2
  • N. Varley
    • 2
  • L. Borselli
    • 3
  1. 1.Centro de GeocienciasQuerétaroMexico
  2. 2.Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de ColimaColimaMexico
  3. 3.Instituto de Geología, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis PotosíSan Luis PotosíMexico

Personalised recommendations