Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador) — 15 October-21 October 2003
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 October-21 October 2003
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 October-21 October 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
During 15-19 October activity at Tungurahua remained high, with moderate-to-slight gas-and-ash emissions sending columns on average to 1.5 km above the crater. On the night of 18 October incandescent blocks were observed rolling down the W side of the crater. Incandescence and Strombolian activity were observed on the night of 19 October. Activity decreased slightly on 20 October with fewer explosions and no major gas-and-ash eruptions recorded. Ash plumes were frequently visible on satellite imagery during the week.
Geologic Background. Tungurahua, a steep-sided andesitic-dacitic stratovolcano that towers more than 3 km above its northern base, is one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes. Three major edifices have been sequentially constructed since the mid-Pleistocene over a basement of metamorphic rocks. Tungurahua II was built within the past 14,000 years following the collapse of the initial edifice. Tungurahua II itself collapsed about 3000 years ago and produced a large debris-avalanche deposit and a horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the west, inside which the modern glacier-capped stratovolcano (Tungurahua III) was constructed. Historical eruptions have all originated from the summit crater, accompanied by strong explosions and sometimes by pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached populated areas at the volcano's base. Prior to a long-term eruption beginning in 1999 that caused the temporary evacuation of the city of Baños at the foot of the volcano, the last major eruption had occurred from 1916 to 1918, although minor activity continued until 1925.