The Colombian government has extended the evacuations near Nevado del Huila, taking 800 families out of the danger zone near the rumbling volcano. Huila has been making a lot of noise as of late, and Colombian officials in Ingeominas and the National System for Emergencies are worried that the volcano will erupt soon, sending avalanches and lahars down the valleys of the Paez and Simbola Rivers as happened in November of 2008 (see above or the link to the Volcanism Blog). They also note that Ingeominas is installing microphones on the volcano to detect explosions in the crater to better predict potential lahars.
However, this report is almost dangerously erroneous. The report notes:
The volcano’s crater holds 52 million cubic meters (1.8 billion cubic feet) of lava, said Colombia’s Caracol Radio. That’s the equivalent of 13.8 billion gallons.
Now, this might be the case that the crater might be able to hold a volume of 52 million cubic meters of something – lava, water, Jell-O, caviar – but by no means is the crater at Huila currently holding 52 million cubic meters of liquid, bubbling lava. Maybe that volume of solidified lava in dome material, but clearly not molten lava. It is this kind of incorrect information that can cause undue panic and hysteria in the public and press.