Report on Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador) — 18 February-24 February 2009
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 18 February-24 February 2009
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2009. Report on Guagua Pichincha (Ecuador). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 18 February-24 February 2009. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
0.171°S, 78.598°W; summit elev. 4784 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
The IG reported four moderate phreatic explosions from Guagua Pichincha were detected by the seismic network during 16-17 February, following a few days of slightly increased seismicity and rainfall. IG recommended that visitors stay out of the caldera.
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.