Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador) — 17 December-23 December 2008
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 December-23 December 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, 17 December-23 December 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
The IG reported that during 17-23 December steam-and-ash plumes from Tungurahua rose to altitudes of 6-11 km (19,700-36,100 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions. Roaring noises were reported daily and ash fell in areas downwind (mostly to the SW) during 18-21 December. Nighttime incandescence was noted during 17 and 21-23 December. On 21 December, explosions vibrated the ground. The following day sounds resembling rolling blocks were reported, and incandescent blocks traveled 500 m down the flanks. On 23 December vibrations rattled windows in Guadalupe, about 11 km N.
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.