Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador) — 5 March-11 March 2008
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 5 March-11 March 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, 5 March-11 March 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 very limited due to cloud cover, ash-and-steam plumes from Tungurahua were spotted and rose to altitudes of 5.5-8 km (18,000-26,200 ft) a.s.l. during 4-11 March. Incandescence at the summit was observed at night during 4-6 March. Ash plumes drifted W, SW, S, SE, E, and NE; ashfall was reported in areas downwind on 5, 6, and 10 March. Lahars descended drainages to the W and in the Pampas sector to the S on 6 and 8 March. On 8 March, lahars mobilized blocks up to 3 m in diameter. Very active fumaroles near the crater were spotted on 11 March.
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.