Report on Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador) — 21 November-27 November 2001
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 November-27 November 2001
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2001. Report on Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 November-27 November 2001. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
0.171°S, 78.598°W; summit elev. 4784 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
IG's seismic data showed that an approximately 20-minute-long phreatic explosion began at Guagua Pichincha on 26 November around noon. Cloudy conditions prohibited visual observations, but a cloud composed mainly of gas, with small amounts of ash, may have been produced. The volcanic cloud was not visible in satellite imagery; it is believed to have stayed around summit level. Continuous tremor was recorded through at least the rest of the day. The last explosion at Guagua Pichincha occurred on 25 May 2001.
Geologic Background. Guagua Pichincha and the older Pleistocene Rucu Pichincha stratovolcanoes form a broad volcanic massif that rises immediately to the W of Ecuador's capital city, Quito. A lava dome is located at the head of a 6-km-wide breached caldera that formed during a late-Pleistocene slope failure ~50,000 years ago. Subsequent late-Pleistocene and Holocene eruptions from the central vent in the breached caldera consisted of explosive activity with pyroclastic flows accompanied by periodic growth and destruction of the central lava dome. One of Ecuador's most active volcanoes, it is the site of many minor eruptions since the beginning of the Spanish era. The largest historical eruption took place in 1660, when ash fell over a 1000 km radius, accumulating to 30 cm depth in Quito. Pyroclastic flows and surges also occurred, primarily to then W, and affected agricultural activity, causing great economic losses.