Report on Sangay (Ecuador) — 1 December-7 December 2021
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
1 December-7 December 2021
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2021. Report on Sangay (Ecuador). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 1 December-7 December 2021. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
2.005°S, 78.341°W; summit elev. 5286 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
IG reported that during 1-2 December activity at Sangay was characterized by increased seismicity, explosions and ash emissions, and a new lava flow on the N flank. The SAGA seismic station, SW of the volcano, recorded a swarm of long-period events beginning at 1600 on 1 December that indicated fluid movements. The amplitude and frequency of the events intensified, and by 2356 the rate had increased from 32 to 60 events per hour. At 0403 on 2 December the SAGA station recorded a major explosion. Based on Washington VAAC advisories two eruption plumes rose 7-10 km above the summit and drifted W, and a third rose almost 1.8 km and drifted NW, though IG noted that the lack of reported ashfall in the nearest towns 25 km away indicated low ash content. Thermal satellite data showed that a new lava flow had emerged on the upper N flank by 2 December.
Geological Summary. The isolated Sangay volcano, located east of the Andean crest, is the southernmost of Ecuador's volcanoes and its most active. The steep-sided, glacier-covered, dominantly andesitic volcano grew within the open calderas of two previous edifices which were destroyed by collapse to the east, producing large debris avalanches that reached the Amazonian lowlands. The modern edifice dates back to at least 14,000 years ago. It towers above the tropical jungle on the east side; on the other sides flat plains of ash have been eroded by heavy rains into steep-walled canyons up to 600 m deep. The earliest report of an eruption was in 1628. Almost continuous eruptions were reported from 1728 until 1916, and again from 1934 to the present. The almost constant activity has caused frequent changes to the morphology of the summit crater complex.