Geologists have discovered a new and potentially dangerous volcano in central Colombia.
The volcano was discovered in the northeastern part of the Caldas province, concealed in the jungle-covered hills outside the village of Florencia. The crater rim and lava domes are covered in lush vegetation, allowing the volcano’s slopes blend in almost perfectly with its surroundings.
For this reason the volcano was named “El Escondido”, or The Hidden One, by its discoverers, a team from the Colombian Geological Survey (SCG).
El Escondido is a pyroclastic ring – a ring formed by the hardened remains of ash and lava that once flowed from the erupting volcano like an avalanche – that stretches about 2km wide.
The SCG team, led by geologist Maria Luisa Monsalve, are unsure about the volcano’s age and when its last eruption occurred – Mansalve says that data from past eruptions could imply that El Escondido last blew up more than 30,000 years ago. But at the crater’s rim, the scientists identified pumice rock deposits about 8m thick. The size of the pumice indicates that the volcano could pose a threat to the surrounding area in Caldas – the deposits are much larger than the rock deposits from the most explosive volcano in the country, Machin, roughly 250km south of El Escondido.
The residents within El Escondido’s reach are not currently in danger, though should remain cautious of any possible warning signs of an impending volcanic eruption such as earthquakes or gas emissions from local hot springs. But Monsalve pointed out that hot springs can exist long after a volcano is active, so more research on The Hidden One will need to be done.
Megan Toomey is a freelance journalist based in Melbourne.
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