Nevado del Ruiz Volcano


Image from Google Maps

Let’s talk about the Nevado del Ruiz Volcano and the Armero Tragedy.
1.) What do you know about volcanoes?
2.) What is the ‘Ring of Fire’?
3.) Looking at the map, which communities do you think would be impacted by an eruption?
4.) What are different types of natural disasters?

lahar – a massive flow of mud, rock and water flowing downward at high speed
landslide – an avalanche of debris
debris – an accumulation of large rock fragments
magma – molten rock
mudslide – a large volume of mud traveling downward, often suddenly
flood – an overflow of water
earthquake – seismic activity
threat level – the degree of danger
stratovolcano – or composite volcano / a steep cone, composed of layers of volcanic material
pyroclastic material – liquid hot rocks and gases that flow downward
wipe out – completely destroy


The order of the words in Passive Voice is always the same. The formula is:


The challenge for most students is deciding on the correct form of TO BE. Look at the chart to help you:
Volcanoes cause a lot of destruction. – Present simple: is/are
Volcanoes caused a lot of destruction. – Past Simple: was/were
Volcanoes are causing a lot of destruction. – Present Continuous: is being/are being
Volcanoes were causing a lot of destruction. – Past Continuous: was being/were being
Volcanoes have caused a lot of destruction. – Present Perfect: have been/has been
Volcanoes had caused a lot of destruction. -Past Perfect: had been
Volcanoes will cause a lot of destruction. – Modal auxiliary verb: will be

Can you change the sentences from active to passive voice?

a.) Officials are telling people to evacuate the area.
b.) Volcanoes spew lava out through their vents.
c.) Community leaders had told people not to worry.
d.) If the power goes out, hospitals will rely on backup generators.
e.) Ash has been contaminating the water supply.
f.) The president told local mayors to prepare for an emergency.

More Passive Voice practice, on the topic of natural disasters.


Nevado del Ruiz is a snow-capped composite volcano. When it erupts, it shoots enormous rocks and solidified magma and pyroclastic material incredible distances. But what makes composite volcanoes so especially deadly is the flood of water and debris.

What happens when Nevado del Ruiz erupts is that the ice and snow melts, and chunks of the volcano’s cone break off. These events together cause lahars, avalanches, landslides and floods. In the Armero tragedy, the fast moving wall of debris was up to 50 feet high.

Here is an account of one of the survivors:

“We didn’t hear any kind of alarm, even when the ash was falling and we were in the hotel . . . we turned on the radio . . . The mayor was talking and he said not to worry, that it was a rain of ash, that they had not reported anything from the Nevado, and to stay calm in our houses. There was a local radio station and we were listening to it, when suddenly it went off the air . . . about fifteen seconds later, the electric power went out and that’s when we started hearing the noise in the air, like something toppling, falling, and we didn’t hear anything else, no alarm . . . The priest from Armero had supposedly spoken on a loudspeaker [around 6:00 p.m.] and had said the same thing: that there was no need to leave Armero . . . When we went out, the cars were swaying and running people down . . . there was total darkness, the only light was provided by cars . . . we were running and were about to reach the corner when a river of water came down the streets . . . we turned around screaming, towards the hotel, because the waters were already dragging beds along, overturning cars, sweeping people away . . . we went back to the hotel, a three-story building with a terrace, built of cement and very sturdy . . . Suddenly, I heard bangs, and looking towards the rear of the hotel I saw something like foam, coming down out of the darkness . . . It was a wall of mud approaching the hotel, and sure enough, it crashed against the rear of the hotel and started crushing walls . . . . And then the ceiling slab fractured and . . . the entire building was destroyed and broken into pieces. Since the building was made of cement, I thought that it would resist, but the boulder-filled mud was coming in such an overwhelming way, like a wall of tractors, razing the city, razing everything . . . . Then the university bus, that was in a parking lot next to the hotel, was higher than us on a wave of mud and on fire, and it exploded, so I covered my face, thinking this is where I die a horrible death . . . ” – from A. Scarth (1999) (How Volcanoes Work)

Now, Nevado del Ruiz is threatening to erupt again. It’s impossible to know when exactly this might occur. However, officials have learned from the mistakes of the past, and are erring on the side of caution.

Mount Ruiz, Britannica
How Volcanoes Work
USGS – Lahars

What’s the Difference Between Magma and Lava? – National Geographic

1.) Watch the video Volcanoes 101
2.) Take notes as you watch, and present what you have learned in your own words.

Many of the people who live in the danger zone will not agree to evacuate, because they’re animals and property will be stolen if they go. Imagine that you are tasked with designing a program to evacuate thousands of animals.
1.) What are your biggest challenges?
2.) What agencies and groups will need to participate?
3.) What’s your proposal/general idea?
4.) How will you accomplish it?
5.) How likely is it that your program will be successful?

1.) If you were a local politician here, when would you tell people to evacuate? Would you rather be accused of being alarmist and causing unnecessary panic, or be accused of under-reacting?
2.) What steps are needed in community planning for an eruption?
3.) What can individuals and families do to be ready for an emergency?
4.) Why are lahars more dangerous than massive flying rocks?
5.) Have you ever visited Armero? What was it like? (If you have never been, what do you imagine it is like?)

1.) Check out
2.) Option 1- Write a paragraph about your general impression. Are you surprised by the number of volcanoes that happen on a daily basis? Option 2- Select a specific volcanic eruption, research it, and write a short report about it.