Report on Cotopaxi (Ecuador) — 23 September-29 September 2015
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 23 September-29 September 2015
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2015. Report on Cotopaxi (Ecuador). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 23 September-29 September 2015. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
0.677°S, 78.436°W; summit elev. 5911 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
During an overflight of Cotopaxi on 22 September, IG scientists observed low-energy emissions with low or no ash content that rose 500 m above the crater and drifted W. Fracturing continued on both the upper parts of the glacier and the glacial toes on the N, NW, and SW flanks. The glacier inside the crater had almost disappeared. Several areas of landslide deposits inside and outside of the crater were noted. Yellowish-green deposits from increased fumarolic activity were most apparent on the S, SE, and E flanks. Thermal images revealed temperature decreases since the previous overflight at the new vents inside the crater and at areas on the S flank. During 23-29 September gas-and-water vapor plumes, often with low ash content, rose as high as 2 km and drifted mainly W and SW.
Geologic Background. Symmetrical, glacier-clad Cotopaxi stratovolcano is Ecuador's most well-known volcano and one of its most active. The steep-sided cone is capped by nested summit craters, the largest of which is about 550 x 800 m in diameter. Deep valleys scoured by lahars radiate from the summit of the andesitic volcano, and large andesitic lava flows extend to its base. The modern conical edifice has been constructed since a major collapse sometime prior to about 5000 years ago. Pyroclastic flows (often confused in historical accounts with lava flows) have accompanied many explosive eruptions, and lahars have frequently devastated adjacent valleys. The most violent historical eruptions took place in 1744, 1768, and 1877. Pyroclastic flows descended all sides of the volcano in 1877, and lahars traveled more than 100 km into the Pacific Ocean and western Amazon basin. The last significant eruption took place in 1904.