Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador) — 23 January-29 January 2008
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 23 January-29 January 2008
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2008. Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 23 January-29 January 2008. 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 although visual observations were occasionally limited due to cloud cover, ash plumes were spotted and rose to altitudes of 5.5-9 km (18,000-29,500 ft) a.s.l. during 23-29 January. Ashfall was reported daily in areas mainly within 10 km to the SW, W, NW, and NE. On 24 January, ashfall was reported from San Juan, about 40 km WSW and from Bilbao, 8 km W, where the ashfall was 2 mm thick. On 25 January, ashfall was reported in Riobamba, 30 km S.
During 22-25, 27, and 29 January, incandescence at the summit was observed at night and incandescent blocks that were propelled from the summit by explosions rolled 500-800 m down the flanks. Roaring noises and "cannon shots" were heard almost daily during 23-29 January. Lahars descend multiple drainages on 29 January and blocked the road to Baños in the La Pampas sector to the S.
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.