Report on Cotopaxi (Ecuador) — 27 January-2 February 2016
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
27 January-2 February 2016
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2016. Report on Cotopaxi (Ecuador). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 January-2 February 2016. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
0.677°S, 78.436°W; summit elev. 5911 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
On 29 January IG reported that in recent weeks surficial activity at Cotopaxi was characterized by minor steam emissions from the crater and sporadic gas emissions with minor amounts of ash. Sulfur dioxide emissions were less than 1,000 tons per day (pre-eruptive levels) and seismicity had almost returned to baseline levels. At 1843 on 24 January a plume with low-to-moderate levels of ash rose 700 m above the crater and drifted W. The emission coincided with a hybrid earthquake.
Geological Summary. The symmetrical, glacier-covered, Cotopaxi stratovolcano is Ecuador's most well-known volcano and one of its most active. The steep-sided cone is capped by nested summit craters, the largest of which is about 550 x 800 m in diameter. Deep valleys scoured by lahars radiate from the summit of the andesitic volcano, and large andesitic lava flows extend to its base. The modern edifice has been constructed since a major collapse sometime prior to about 5,000 years ago. Pyroclastic flows (often confused in historical accounts with lava flows) have accompanied many explosive eruptions, and lahars have frequently devastated adjacent valleys. Strong eruptions took place in 1744, 1768, and 1877. Pyroclastic flows descended all sides of the volcano in 1877, and lahars traveled more than 100 km into the Pacific Ocean and western Amazon basin. Smaller eruptions have been frequent since that time.