Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador) — 21 March-27 March 2001
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
21 March-27 March 2001
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2001. Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 March-27 March 2001. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
During the week of 18-24 March seismicity and fumarolic activity at Tungurahua continued. The IG reported that at 1915 on 22 March an eruption column with an incandescent point rose to a height of 2 km and lasted 10 minutes. Another eruption on 23 March at 1014 lasted for 30 minutes, sending a column 2 km high that moved NW. Pilot reports indicated that the plume reached an altitude of 6 km. At night a point of incandescence in the crater was observed again. Extensive meteorological clouds prevented the Washington VAAC from obtaining good satellite imagery of the 22 and 23 March plumes.
Geological Summary. 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.