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Report on Cotopaxi (Ecuador) — 8 February-14 February 2023


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 8 February-14 February 2023
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2023. Report on Cotopaxi (Ecuador) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 8 February-14 February 2023. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (8 February-14 February 2023)



0.677°S, 78.436°W; summit elev. 5911 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

IG reported that the eruption at Cotopaxi continued during 7-14 February, characterized by daily or almost daily emissions of gas, steam, and ash; inclement weather conditions occasionally prevented views. Gas-and-ash emissions rose as high as 2 km above the crater rim and drifted NW, W, and E during 7-10 February. Minor ashfall was reported in the parish of Tambillo (32 km NNW), Mejia region, on 10 February. Steam-and-gas emissions rose to 1 km and drifted W and SW on 11 February. Gas-and-ash plumes rose around 500 m on 12 February and drifted SW. Minor amounts of ash fell in El Chasqui (17 km W), Mulaló (19 km SW), and San Juan de Pastocalle (20 km WSW). During 13-14 February several steam-and-ash emissions rose as high as 1 km and drifted W and SW. Minor ashfall was reported in Mulaló, San Agustín (11 km W), Ticatilín (15 km WSW), San Ramón (17 km SW), Control Caspi (20 km WSW), and in Pastocalle (22 km W). Servicio Nacional de Gestión de Riesgos y Emergencias (SNGRE) maintained the Alert Level at Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale).

Geological Summary. The symmetrical, glacier-covered, 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 edifice has been constructed since a major collapse sometime prior to about 5,000 years ago. Pyroclastic flows (often confused in historical accounts with lava flows) have accompanied many explosive eruptions, and lahars have frequently devastated adjacent valleys. Strong 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. Smaller eruptions have been frequent since that time.

Sources: Instituto Geofísico-Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), Servicio Nacional de Gestión de Riesgos y Emergencias (SNGRE)