Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador) — 25 May-31 May 2011
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 25 May-31 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, 25 May-31 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)
The IG reported that during 24-26 May explosions from Tungurahua were detected by the seismic network. On 24 May an ash plume rose to an altitude of 7 km (23,000 ft) a.s.l. Ashfall was reported in areas SW and W. The next day an ash plume drifted W. On 26 May ash plumes were not observed due to cloud cover but ashfall was reported to the SW; cloud cover prevented observations during 27-29 May. Muddy water was observed in multiple drainages during 26-30 May. Lahars on 27 May caused the highway to Baños to close. The highway remained closed during the next two days due to lahar risk.
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.