Report on Cotopaxi (Ecuador) — 3 May-9 May 2023
Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 3 May-9 May 2023
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2023. Report on Cotopaxi (Ecuador) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 3 May-9 May 2023. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
0.677°S, 78.436°W; summit elev. 5911 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
IG reported that moderate eruptive activity continued at Cotopaxi during 2-9 May. Seismic activity was largely dominated by long-period earthquakes, tremors indicating emissions, and a few volcano-tectonic earthquakes. Emissions of steam, gas, and variable amounts of ash were observed daily. During 2-3 May minor ash plumes rose less than 200 m above the crater rim and drifted W. On 4 May ash plumes rose as high as 1.5 km above the crater rim and drifted SW and NW, drifting as far as the province of Manabí. On 5 May several emissions with low ash content rose as high as 300 m and drifted SW. On 7 May ash plumes rose as high as 1.1 km above the crater rim and drifted W and SW, causing minor ashfall in areas downwind including Mulaló. On 8 May a seismic station recorded a small secondary lahar. Several steam-and-gas emissions were visible during 8-9 May. Servicio Nacional de Gestión de Riesgos y Emergencias (SNGRE) maintained the Alert Level at Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-color scale).
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.