Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador) — 13 May-19 May 2009
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 13 May-19 May 2009
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2009. Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 13 May-19 May 2009. 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 inclement weather sometimes prevented observations of Tungurahua during 13-19 May. Roaring noises were occasionally reported. On 13 and 18 May, a fine layer of ash fell in Manzano, 8 km SW. On 15 May, explosions and sounds resembling rolling blocks were noted. An explosion generated a steam-and-ash plume that rose to an altitude of 7 km (23,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted ENE. During 16-18 May, steam and steam-and-ash plumes drifted NW, W, and E. During 17-18 May, blocks were heard or seen rolling down the flanks.
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.