Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador) — 7 December-13 December 2011
Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 7 December-13 December 2011
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2011. Report on Tungurahua (Ecuador) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 7 December-13 December 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 during 7-8 December activity continued at Tungurahua and roaring noises and sounds resembling "cannon shots" were heard. Ash plumes rose to altitudes of 1.5-4.0 km (4,920-16,400 ft) drifting W and NE on 7 December, and W and SW on 8 December. Ashfall was reported in communities to the W, NE, and SW. On 8 December ashfall was reported in Choglontús (SW), Chacauco, Manzano (8 km SW), Bilbao (8 km W), and Pillate (8 km W). Crater incandescence was observed on 10 December, but activity decreased during 10-11 December.
Based on pilot and satellite observations, the Washington VAAC reported that during 7-8 December ash plumes from Tungurahua rose to altitudes of 7.0-7.9 km (23,000 -26,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 18.5-24.0 km S and SW.
Geological Summary. 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 collapsed about 3,000 years ago and produced a large debris-avalanche deposit to the west. The modern glacier-capped stratovolcano (Tungurahua III) was constructed within the landslide scarp. 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.