The Cotopaxi volcano showed increased activity on Monday and early Tuesday morning according to the country’s Geophysical Institute.
The institute recorded a number of small earthquakes, indicating a movement of magma below the volcano, and said pressure was building inside the volcano’s central vent. It also said that the plume of gas and ash is reaching higher into the atmosphere and that communities to the west and southwest of the volcano should expect more ash fall.
The ash plume reached two kilometers into the atmosphere on Monday, with ash traveling as far as Manabi Province, to the west.
Although the institute says that the main magma chamber, two kilometers below the vent, is showing motion, it is so far not rising into the vent. Temperatures near the rim of the crater have remained steady, also indicating that the magma remains far below.
Ecuador’s Education Ministry said on Monday that schools near Cotopaxi will open on scheduled September 1, although it said this could change if volcanic activity continues to increase. The ministry has identified three dozen schools that emergency officials say are in danger zones in the event of an eruption. It says those schools will hold special drills to make sure students and teachers are familiar with evacuation routes. The ministry said that paper face masks will be available to all students.
Meanwhile, farmers said more crops are being killed and that some small livestock have died from eating food covered with ash. The Agriculture Ministry is holding meetings in the area of heaviest ash fall.