Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador) — 9 March-15 March 2016
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 9 March-15 March 2016
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2016. Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 9 March-15 March 2016. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
IG reported that moderate-to-high levels of activity at Tungurahua continued during 9-15 March. Gas-and-ash plumes rose from the crater on most days, often to heights less than 2 km above the crater, and drifted NW, W, WSW, and SW; cloud cover sometimes obscured views of the volcano. Explosions were recorded daily, and crater incandescence was reported almost nightly. Ash fell on 9 March in Pillate (8 km W), El Manzano (8 km SW), Cotaló (8 km NW), and Macas. On 10 March a small pyroclastic flow traveled 1.5 km NW down the Achupashal drainage. On 15 March residents in the Runtún sector (NNE) heard an explosion and sounds resembling rolling rocks on the NE flank. Ash fell in Patate (NW) and Juive (7 km NNW).
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.