|From the USGS|
Now, it has been 25 years since Nevado del Ruiz erupted, and, in the aftermath of eruptions, frequently people return to the destroyed area. There could be a variety of reasons for this – they don’t think it’s likely to erupt again, they have nowhere else to go, for religious reasons, or they simply want to be “home.” A great example of this is Merapi, in Indonesia, which seems to erupt roughly every ten years, and its lahar deposits re-liquify into new lahars every monsoon season. That people still live nearby to be affected by the current eruption is a horrific testament to misplaced perseverance, determination, and religious conviction. After the 2002 eruption of Mt. Nyiragongo, in Congo, people moved back to the destroyed town of Goma before the lava had even finished cooling. However, habitation in an area previously destroyed by recorded natural disasters isn’t relegated to what we would consider “third-world” countries: people still live in New Orleans and near Mt. St. Helens, astonishingly enough. As time passes after an eruption, people are increasingly more willing to return to these areas – the valleys surrounding Mt. Rainier are filled chock-a-block with farms, industrial complexes, and towns.
I got a fantastic response back from the volcano observatory, which, after some I looked up several words, answered most of my questions. The representative explained how the old site of Armero had been declared a National Cemetery, and habitation was no longer permitted there. Now, the survivors and municipal administrators had moved to the town of Guayabal, now called Guayabal-Armero. Apparently the area has become a destination for over 35,000 tourists a year, and there are volunteers available to provide tourist guidance.
|From the USGS|
Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales
USGS: Nevado del Ruiz
Global Volcanism Program: Nevado del Ruiz
No Apparent Danger, Victoria Bruce, HarperCollins Publishers, 1st Ed., 2001