Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador) — 20 August-26 August 2008
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20 August-26 August 2008
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2008. Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20 August-26 August 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
The IG reported that on 19 August fumarolic plumes from Tungurahua rose 20 m above the NE crater and on 20 August, steam-and-ash plumes rose about 50 m above the crater. On 21 August, intense rains prompted the Tungurahua Observatory (OVT) to issue a warning of potential lahars in the Vascún river. A natural dam in the river was previously identified as potentially hazardous. On 23 August, a person in El Salado detected vibrations. The dam ruptured and material descended the Vascún river to the N at speeds of 10-15 m/s, destroying a house, damaging and demolishing bridges, and destroying multiple public swimming pools in the Baños area. Two people were injured and two people were missing.
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.