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Tungurahua shows signs of awakening 8 January 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, Ecuador, Tungurahua.
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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.

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

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

The Volcanism Blog


1. Zuri - 9 January 2010

Ecuador is one of the most beautiful countries of South America. Nothing compares to the landscapes of the Highlands and its active volcanoes. The Cotopaxi volcano is also active and it’s the highest active volcano in the world.

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