Catastrophic volcanic collapse, without precursory magmatic activity, is characteristic of many volcanic disasters. The extent and locations of hydrothermal discharges at Nevado del Ruiz volcano, Colombia, suggest that at many volcanoes collapse may result from the interactions between hydrothermal fluids and the volcanic edifice. Rock dissolution and hydrothermal mineral alteration, combined with physical triggers such as earthquakes, can produce volcanic collapse. Hot spring water compositions, residence times, and flow paths through faults were used to model potential collapse at Ruiz. Caldera dimensions, deposits, and alteration mineral volumes are consistent with parameters observed at other volcanoes.
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