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Report on Obituary Notices (Unknown) — January 2001

Obituary Notices

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 26, no. 1 (January 2001)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Obituary Notices (Unknown) Death of volcano seismologist Diego Viracucha at Guagua Pichincha

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2001. Report on Obituary Notices (Unknown) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 26:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200101-600400

Obituary Notices


Lat Unknown, Unknown; summit elev. m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Diego Viracucha, an accomplished 37-year-old mountaineer and for 9 years a volcano seismologist at the Instituto Geofisico, looked into the crater on the morning of 14 January 2001 and reported his impressions via radio. He informed his two assistants that he was going to go ahead alone for several hundred meters W of the seismic station "Pino" in order to take photos. He planned to return in 20 minutes and remain in contact via radio, but later attempts to contact him failed. Apparently he slipped and fell over the caldera rim, a 200- to 300-m-high cliff in that region; his body was found hours later. Given the length of the fall and the impact, he probably died immediately from head wounds and internal injuries.

Recovery of the body was accomplished using mountaineering techniques rather than a helicopter due to fog. The day-long effort involved many, including six IG volcanologists, the Civil Defense, the Guards of the Refuge, the Red Cross, an elite police group, mountaineer groups, and family members. The site of the accident was 2.5 hours from GGP Refuge and it took all day to recover the body. A second accident occurred during this effort when Galo Viracucha, a cousin of Diego, fell and rolled 150 m downslope and later died from his injuries.

Diego had studied the seismic patterns of Cotopaxi, Guagua Pichincha, Cayambe and Tungurahua. He was an accomplished mountaineer and had scaled almost all of the important peaks of Ecuador's volcanoes. One of his greatest passions since September 1999 was keeping a close visual-photographic record of the changes in the domes of Guagua Pichincha. His excellent companionship, his unflagging enthusiasm, his well-stilled knowledge of the seismicity of the active volcanoes--leaves a tremendous void in the Instituto's monitoring efforts.

Geological Summary. Obituary notices for volcanologists are sometimes written when scientists are killed during an eruption or have had a special relationship with the Global Volcanism Program.

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