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Tungurahua update, 4 February 2010 4 February 2010

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Tungurahua: the entire flanks of the volcano covered in incandescent material, 26 January 2010, 19:37 (P. Ramon, Instituto Geofisico)
Tungurahua: the entire flanks of the volcano covered in incandescent material, 26 January 2010, 19:37 (P. Ramón, Instituto Geofísico).

Activity at Tungurahua has been following a fairly set pattern over the past few days, with constant explosions, frequent ashfall, and lahars following heavy rains. The volcano’s seismic activity continues at a ‘moderate to high level, with a tendency to increase’, reports Ecuador’s Instituto Geofísico in its daily bulletin for 3 February 2010 (PDF). Ashfall has been taking place to the west of Tungurahua, in the areas of Manzano and Choglontus. Roaring noises and explosions of moderate intensity have been reported, and the volcanological observatory at Guadelupe had its windows rattled. Some lahars occurred on the flanks of the volcano following rains overnight, and the Riobamba-Baños road was closed by mudflows.

Tungurahua: lava fountain activity at night, 26 January 2010, 20:04 (P. Ramon, Instituto Geofisico)
Tungurahua: lava fountain activity at night, 26 January 2010, 20:04 (P. Ramón, Instituto Geofísico).

The most recent special bulletin for Tungurahua, no. 4 of 29 January 2010 (PDF), reported that following the rapid increase in the intensity of Tungurahua’s activity from the beginning of the year, activity declined from 15-23 January. On 24 January this calmer period came to an end with the explosions ‘becoming much more energetic and full of ash, which was accentuated on 27 and 28 January, causing concern throughout the area’. Ash columns reached 3 km altitude, and varying levels of ashfall occurred around the volcano. Sulphur dioxide emission levels reached 1000 tonnes/day, ‘indicating the active degassing of the magmatic body responsible for the current activity’. Since that bulletin there has been a slight decrease in the intensity of Tungurahua’s activity, but there is no sign of the current eruptive cycle ending and the Instituto Geofísico expects more upswings in activity over the next few days and weeks.

The National Assembly of Ecuador has voted to declare an ‘exceptional situation’, which isn’t quite a state of emergency, in the provinves of Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua and Bolívar because of the damaging effects of Tungurahua’s current activity and also of a drought which has affected the area for nearly a year. The main aim of the measure is to provide assistance to farmers whose livelihoods are suffering, although what concrete form such assistance might take is far from clear.

For all our Tungurahua coverage: Tungurahua « The Volcanism Blog.

News
El volcán ecuatoriano Tungurahua registra una actividad sísmica ascendente – Agencia EFE, 2 February 2010
Estado de excepción para la Sierra centro por volcán TungurahuaEl Comercio, 2 February 2010
Asamblea Nacional pide estado de excepción para provincias de Chimborazo, Bolívar, Tungurahua y Cotopaxi – ANDES, 2 February 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Tungurahua – summary information for Tungurahua (1502-80=)
Instituto Geofísico (Escuela Politecnica Nacional) – Geophysical Institute of Ecuador

The Volcanism Blog

Tungurahua update, 14 January 2010 14 January 2010

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Yesterday’s daily bulletin (PDF) from the Ecuadorian Instituto Geofísico reports a continuing increase in the level of activity at Tungurahua:

In a manner similar to preceding days the activity of the volcano has continued to increase. In the last few hours there has been a greater number of explosions considered moderate to large in size, which have generated emissions columns of approximately 3 km in height and with high ash content. Interspersed with these events, the constant presence of an emissions column of less than 2 km and with moderate ash content has been observed. Reports have been received of ashfall in some nearby towns located to the west and south-west of the volcano.

The bulletin reports 11 long period earthquakes, 33 episodes of tremor and 83 moderate to large explosions over the preceding 24 hours. Constant roars and rumbles have been occurring, ‘interspersed with cannonades that in some cases make windows vibrate’. Incandescent blocks were ejected from the summit crater and lava fountains were observed overnight, with the latter reaching 500 m above the crater and projecting material 800 m down the flanks of the volcano.

‘The monitoring of the volcano is in trouble’, says the headline in El Comercio , which reports that power cuts are causing problems for the Instituto Geofísico station at Guadelupe which co-ordinates the monitoring of Tungurahua. A failure at the local electricity plant on Saturday caused a power cut which forced the station to rely on a gasoline-drive generator which worked for only half an hour; at this point the local fire chief came to the rescue with another generator. The Instituto Geofísico has asked the provincial governor, who also chairs the Tungurahua Emergencies Committee, to ensure that the electricity company provides reliable power to the monitoring station. Meanwhile ashfall continues to cause problems for local agriculture: ‘the dust that fell in recent days is thick and white,’ says José Cuica, a farmer from El Manzano. ‘I’m screwed. You can’t shift the ash. There will be no harvest’. Local authorities in northern Penipe are preparing for an increase in Tungurahua’s activity: El Universo says that an emergency plan is in place for the city of Riobamba, but reports that the alcaldes of Riobamba and Penipe have expressed doubt that the National Government really understands how serious the situation is, or has the necessary structures in place to provide help where it is needed.

For all our Tungurahua coverage: Tungurahua « The Volcanism Blog.

News
El monitoreo del volcán tiene líosEl Comercio, 14 January 2010
En Riobamba preparan plan de prevenciónEl Universo, 14 January 2010
Autoridades insisten en emergencia por volcánEl Universo, 14 January 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Tungurahua – summary information for Tungurahua (1502-80=)
Instituto Geofísico (Escuela Politecnica Nacional) – Geophysical Institute of Ecuador

The Volcanism Blog

Tungurahua update, 13 January 2010 13 January 2010

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The Instituto Geofísico has issued a new special bulletin (PDF), reporting that ‘activity at Tungurahua volcano continues to increase, especially in the last 24 hours’. The bulletin notes that seismic tremor, gas and ash emissions and strombolian activity have all increased:

At a superficial level an increase in the number of explosions has been observed, some of them sufficiently intense to be audible in the cities of Ambato and Baños; the emissions columns are of greater size, some reaching 3 km above the crater, at the same time their ash content has increased and consequently there has been an increase in ash falls, especially on the flanks of the south-western sector of the volcano; last night and early this morning sustained lava fountains were observed, that is, ejection of incandescent material from the crater, reaching heights of up to 1000 m and projecting onto the flanks of the volcano up to distances of more than 1.5 km from the crater rim; equally, the detection seismic tremor has increased substantially, recording bands with a duration of several hours when ejection of volcanic material occurs, accompanied by intense rumbles heard in locations as distant as Riobamba, Mocha and Ambato; on 8 January instruments around the volcano detected the presence of some 7,500 tonnes of sulphur gas in the emission columns, compared with values during preceding weeks of around 100-200 tonnes/day.

Field observations have revealed that around 5 mm of ash had fallen up to 10 January in Cahuají and Choglontús, with lesser accumulations in surrounding areas, and slight falls in more distant places such as Riobamba and Penipe. If ashfall continues to increase, warns the bulletin, ‘it will doubtless produce a short-term impact on the livestock and agricultural sectors, and in the medium and long term on the health of people in the affected areas’. Increased ash and lava block accumulation also raises the risk of lahars.

The Instituto Geofísico notes that during the latter half of 2008 the volcano displayed activity similar to that of the present time, and that the level of activity increased up to the end of that year but subsequently decreased by mid-January 2009 and did not progress to a larger-scale eruption.

In agricultural areas to the south-west of Tungurahua, ashfall is already causing severe problems. El Comercio reports that crops are being damaged and animals are unable to feed on pasture covered with ash. Farmers who have invested in animals, seed corn and new planting during the last few months now face the prospect of losing their livelihoods because of the reactivation of the volcano. The local authorities of affected areas are asking the National Government for financial and material assistance, say reports in Diario Hoy and El Universo, while people living around the volcano are seeking assurances that there will be sufficient police to guard their properties if they have to evacuate.

For all our Tungurahua coverage: Tungurahua « The Volcanism Blog.

News
La caída de ceniza aumenta en 2 comunasEl Comercio, 12 January 2010
Tungurahua: ceniza empieza a dañar las frutasDiario Hoy, 12 January 2010
Alcaldes de zonas cercanas a volcán piden emergenciaEl Universo, 12 January 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Tungurahua – summary information for Tungurahua (1502-80=)
Instituto Geofísico (Escuela Politecnica Nacional) – Geophysical Institute of Ecuador

The Volcanism Blog

Tungurahua’s restlessness continues 12 January 2010

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Activity at Ecuador’s Tungurahua volcano ‘continues at an activity considered as moderate, with a tendency to increase’, reports the Instituto Geofísico in its bulletin for 11 January 2010 (PDF).

Superficially the activity is characterized by the expulsion of incandescent material in the form of blocks and lava fountains, the constant generation of emission columns with a moderate to low ash content and constant roars of varying intensity, some of which have been audible in the city of Ambato. Reports of moderate falls of ash have been received from villages located to the west and south-west of the volcano. The presence of a thin layer of ash is reported from the city of Riobamba.

The Instituto Geofísico reports that ash columns from Tungurahua have been reaching a maximum altitude of 3 km. Explosions from Tungurahua have been shaking windows and waking local residents 20 km south-west of the volcano, in the canton of Penipe, El Comercio reports. Hugo Yépez, director of the Instituto Geofísico, is reported in El Tiempo to have called Tungurahua’s current activity ‘rising, but not yet at alarming levels’. Instituto Geofísico personnel have been touring villages around the volcano, advising on how local residents should respond if the activity increases, but the process does not seem to have been solely one-way, as the experts seem to have been listening to Tungurahua’s neighbours as well as talking to them: ‘the inhabitants are our best eyes, they are aware of the activity changing, even though we constantly monitor the volcano’, says Yépez. The volcanologists also rely on a network of 15 observers resident in high risk areas around the volcano established by the Comité de Operaciones de Emergencia de Tungurahua. These observers urgently need new communications equipment now that the volcano is active again, according to a report in El Comercio.

For all our Tungurahua coverage: Tungurahua « The Volcanism Blog.

News
Más explosiones en el TungurahuaEl Comercio, 11 January 2010
Vulcanólogo: No se puede precisar actividad del TungurahuaEl Universo, 11 January 2010
Los vigías del Tungurahua necesitan mejores equiposEl Comercio, 11 January 2010
Tungurahua tiene en alerta a pobladoresEl Tiempo, 12 January 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Tungurahua – summary information for Tungurahua (1502-80=)
Instituto Geofísico (Escuela Politecnica Nacional) – Geophysical Institute of Ecuador

The Volcanism Blog

Tungurahua shows signs of awakening 8 January 2010

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For Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador, one of the most active volcanoes in South America, 2009 was a relatively quiet year of rumbles and roars, occasional crater incandescence, and periodic plumes and ashfall. The new year of 2010, however, has brought clear signs of an awakening of Mama Tungurahua.

A gradually declining trend in activity was evident at Tungurahua from the summer of 2009 onwards, but that has now clearly come to an end. The Instituto Geofísico of Ecuador published a special bulletin on 7 January 2010 (PDF) reporting that this trend reversed in mid-late December, and that there has been a marked increase in activity since 30 December 2009:

30 December 2009 – long-period earthquake followed by fumarolic activity with a steam plume reaching 300 metres above the crater.

1 January 2010 – beginning of emissions with low ash content, accompanied by rumbles that have gradually increased their intensity.

3 January 2010 – crater glow visible, lava fountaining begins, with the projection of incandescent material onto the upper slopes and intense rumbling sounds

4 January 2010 – increased ash emissions with eruption columns reaching as high as 2 km above the crater, ashfall reported to the west.

The bulletin also reports that seismic activity has continually increased since 31 December 2009, with numerous periods of tremor accompanying ash emissions, and sulphur dioxide emissions have also increased to 3,200 tonnes/day on 6 January 2010, ‘ten times the values recorded during the preceding weeks and months’. Overall, the Instituto Geofísico warns of further increases in activity, including increased ash emissions, over the next few days:

It is evident that the volcano has begun a new cycle of activity; the changes experienced have been shown in a rapid way, different to that seen on previous occasions when to generate the seismic activity that has been shown in the last 24 hours the volcano had to ‘work’ for weeks and months. In any case the activity occurring both at the surface and internally is considered to be at moderate levels but with clear signs that it is increasing.

Volcanologists have warned that substantial ash emissions, on a scale similar to those of summer 2006, cannot be ruled out. Heavy ashfall would have a damaging impact on agriculture, and local farmers and civic leaders are worried. Local communities are making preparations to deal with increased activity from Tungurahua, with efforts being made to stock up on face-masks and medical supplies and to prepare emergency shelters in the provinces of Tungurahua and Chimborazo.

News
Las emisiones de ceniza y gases aumentan en el TungurahuaEl Comercio, 5 January 2010
Rápido incremento de actividad de volcán TungurahuaEl Universo, 7 January 2010
El cantón Penipe en alerta por el volcán TungurahuaDiario Los Andes, 7 January 2010
Autoridades alerta con el despertar del TungurahuaLa Hora, 7 January 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Tungurahua – summary information for Tungurahua (1502-80=)
Instituto Geofísico (Escuela Politecnica Nacional) – Geophysical Institute of Ecuador

The Volcanism Blog

Five new volcanoes discovered in Ecuador 18 December 2009

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The South American republic of Ecuador, spanning the northern Andes, is not exactly short of volcanoes: more than 50 Ecuadorian volcanoes are known, while the Global Volcanism Program lists 20 volcanoes with Holocene activity, including such great names as Cayambe, Reventador, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo and Tungurahua.

Well, there are going to be some additions to the list with the news that no fewer than five previously unknown volcanoes have just been discovered in north-central Ecuador by volcanologists Patricia Mothes and Minard Hall.

The newly identified ‘Cosanga Volcanoes’ are located in the Cordillera Real between Baez and Cosanga, about 75 km south-east of the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, and have been named Lavas de Bermejo, El Dorado, Domos de Huevo de Chivo, Centro Pumayacu and Centro Cosanga. Of these five Mothes and Hall report that at least one, Pumayacu, is potentially active – more work is needed before the potential activity level of the other four can be determined. The Cosanga volcanoes are relatively low features, between 2,800 and 3,700 metres, and are also relatively young, having formed between 2,000 and 20,000 years before the present. Around Pumayacu pottery fragments of the Cosanga culture have been excavated, which Hall suggests indicates that inhabitants of the area around 2,000 years ago may have had to leave because of volcanic eruptions at that time.

The identification of these unknown volcanoes was sparked by the discovery of obsidian in the Cosanga region. Further studies are planned, and Mothes and Hall do not rule out discovering yet more hidden Ecuadorian volcanoes.

[Thanks go to Volcanism Blog commenter Guillermo.]

News
Descubren cinco nuevos volcanes en Ecuador – BBC Mundo, 18 December 2009
Descubren 5 nuevos volcanes en Ecuador – Ecuador Ciencia, 13 December 2009
Descubren cinco nuevos volcanes en Ecuador – AFP, 13 December 2009

Information
Global Volcanism Program: volcanoes of Ecuador – Holocene volcanoes in Ecuador
Ecuador volcanoes and volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

The Volcanism Blog

Saturday Volcano Art: Tigua painting from Ecuador 31 October 2009

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Tigua painting from Ecuador

The Tigua people of Ecuador live in a rural area south-west of the capital, Quito, high in the valleys of the Andes. Their colourful and distinctive paintings depict scenes of communal life: festivals, markets, farming, daily activities. The volcano Cotopaxi presides over many of these pictures, symbolizing the spirit of the Ecuadorian landscape.

These paintings occupy that shifting and ambigous territory of cultural production in which indigenous artistic creativity depends for its sustenance upon tourist patronage, but they do represent a genuine pictorial tradition, not merely a commodified fabrication. Every part of the picture is filled with colour and life, and naive-seeming but complex tricks of perspective and distortion are used to draw the viewer into the landscape and bring order to the tumult of incident depicted. Tigua art conveys joy, lushness and life: it brims with vibrancy and colour, and conveys the spirit of the volcanic landscapes of the high Andes, and of those who live among them, beautifully.

For all ‘Saturday volcano art’ articles: Saturday volcano art « The Volcanism Blog.

The Volcanism Blog

Reventador update, 24 October 2009 24 October 2009

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Ecuador’s Instituto Geofísico has issued a new special bulletin for Reventador volcano, no. 7 of 23 October 2009 (PDF), which includes reports from an overflight that took place on 22 October.

The bulletin reports an increase in the number of long period seismic events and of explosions from 17:30 on 20 October. This was followed, from the afternoon of 22 October, by ‘a slight decline’ in the volcano’s activity, which nevertheless continued at ‘levels considered to be high’. Some of the explosions have been clearly audible in towns around the volcano and have generated ‘columns of steam and gas with little or no ash content which have reached a maximum altitude of 4 km’.

Instituto Geofísico staff carried out fieldwork at the volcano on 21 October and reported sounds of ‘cannonades’ of varying intensities, and the expulsion of incandescent material in the form of blocks and lava flows. An overflight on the morning of 22 October revealed that lava flows on the north and south flanks of the volcano are still active, and that the lava dome in the crater shows no signs of instability. The southern lava flow ‘has divided into four branches, and the greater part of it is situated above 2500 m above sea level (Figure 1)’, while ‘the northern flow is small and is situated above 3000 m above sea level (Figure 2)’. Temperatures of about 400°C within the crater and 250°C on the fronts of the lava flows have been shown in thermal images. SO2 emissions have averaged 500 tonnes/day.

Distribution of lava flows in the area south of the caldera of Reventador volcano, 22 October 2009 (S. Vallejo)
Figure 1. Distribution of lava flows in the area south of the caldera of Reventador volcano, 22 October 2009 (S. Vallejo).

Distribution of lava flows around the caldera of Reventador volcano, 22 October 2009 (S. Vallejo)
Figure 2. Distribution of lava flows on the north flank of Reventador volcano, 22 October 2009 (S. Vallejo).

The Instituto Geofísico daily bulletin for 24 October (PDF) reports continuing seismic signals of explosive events but no reports of ‘surface manifestations related to this type of activity’. Over the preceding 24 hours, 28 long period events were recorded, along with 17 explosive signals, ’16 bands of harmonic tremor and 9 of spasmodic tremor’. Loud rumbling sounds have been heard from the volcano.

For all our Reventador coverage: Reventador « The Volcanism Blog.

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Reventador – summary information for Reventador (1502-01=)
Instituto Geofísico – Geophysical Institute of Ecuador

The Volcanism Blog

Continuing high level of activity at Reventador 20 October 2009

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Reventador volcano, 19 October 2009 (Instituto Geofisico, Ecuador)
Reventador, looking towards the eastern flank. Picture taken during the overflight of 19 October 2009 (Instituto Geofísico).

Activity at Reventador volcano ‘remains at a level considered to be high’, reports Ecuador’s Instituto Geofísico in the latest special bulletin, no. 6 of 19 October 2009 (PDF).

Swarms of long-period earthquakes interspersed by explosions have been recorded, with ‘the most energetic period beginning on 17 October at 23:26 (local time) and having a duration of approximately 10 hours’. The constant harmonic tremor signal during this period saturated Reventador’s seismic stations and was also recorded on the monitoring networks at Antisana volcano, which is approximately 50 km to the SSW, and Cayambe volcano, approximately 35 km to the NW.

Incandescence has been observed in the crater area and on the southern flank of the volcano, and local inhabitants have heard constant noises of roaring and explosions. A small grey-coloured eruption column (little ash content) was reported on the morning of 18 October. Thermal anomalies associated with the presence of lava and magmatic gases were registered on 19 October. Satellite ozone monitoring instruments registered a large quantity of sulphur dioxide emitted from the volcano during the end of last week.

On the morning of 19 October, Instituto Geofísico personnel undertook an overflight and were able to confirm that a lava dome is continuing to grow within the summit crater, and observed the presence of lava flows moving on both the south and the north flanks. The southern flow occupies the greater area and apparently divides into two branches. Small emissions columns were observed, without ash content but containing SO2 and of a blue colouring.

The Instituto Geofísico notes that the current activity ‘does not reach the high levels of energy released by the eruption of November 2002′.

For all our Reventador coverage: Reventador « The Volcanism Blog.

News
El volcán ecuatoriano Reventador mantiene una alta actividad y se redobla la vigilancia – EFE, 19 October 2009
La actividad del Reventador aumentaEl Comercio, 19 October 2009

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Reventador – summary information for Reventador (1502-01=)
Instituto Geofísico – Geophysical Institute of Ecuador

The Volcanism Blog

Restless Reventador: increased activity reported 17 October 2009

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Ecuador’s Instituto Geofísico reports that Reventador volcano is showing signs of increased activity. In a special bulletin (PDF) issued on 15 October (PDF) intensified seismic activity was reported, with harmonic tremor signals saturating the seismic network; signals associated with rockfalls were also detected. There were also reports of crater incandescence and rumbling sounds. Thermal anomalies were detected over the volcano by satellite, and increased sulphur dioxide emissions were registered.

A further special bulletin (PDF) issued on 16 October reports that the seismic activity has continued, principally characterized by bands of harmonic tremor interspersed with sporadic long-period (LP) events. During an overflight yesterday scientists observed a lava dome within the crater, a lava flow on the north flank of the volcano and blue-ish gas emissions. The emissions reached up to 100 metres above the crater. Explosions and the ejection of incandescent blocks were reported, and the presence of incandescent material on the south flank of the volcano indicated that a lava flow had recently descended that flank. Thermal imagery revealed that incandescent material around the crater was reaching temperatures of 300°C.

Washington VAAC reported an increase in seismic activity at around 19:00 UTC, and emissions and a hotspot at 20:15 UTC today. An ash cloud was reported moving NW at FL150 (15000 feet/4500 metres).

News
Advierten del aumento en la actividad del volcán ecuatoriano Reventador – EFE, 17 October 2009

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Reventador – summary information for Reventador (1502-01=)
Instituto Geofísico – Geophysical Institute of Ecuador

The Volcanism Blog

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