Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador) — 11 May-17 May 2011
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 11 May-17 May 2011
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2011. Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 11 May-17 May 2011. 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 of Tungurahua during 11-15 May were often limited due to cloud cover, gas-and-steam plumes were noted during 12-14 May that rose 200-300 m above the crater and drifted E, SE, W, and NW. A small explosion on 15 May produced an ash plume that rose 500 m above the crater and drifted E. An ash plume the next day rose 200 m and drifted E. On 16 May an ash plume rose to an altitude of 8 km (26,200 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E, NE, and N. Incandescent blocks were ejected from the crater and rolled up to 500 m down the flanks. Ashfall was reported in the region of the Negro river.
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.