Two volcanoes show increased activity

Sep 19, 2016 | 4 comments

After months of relative calm, Ecuador’s Tungurahua and Cotopaxi volcanoes are showing signs of increased activity. Over the weekend, dozens of earthquakes were registered at Tungurahua and plumes of steam and gas were visible above Cotopaxi.

Tungurahua volcano seen from Ambato in 2014.

Tungurahua volcano seen from Ambato in 2014.

According to Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute, Tungurahua has shown a rapid increase in internal pressure, an indication that magma is rising in the volcano’s central duct. Over the weekend, more than 40 earthquakes were recorded at the mountain, located 20 miles from Ambato. The institute’s most recent bulletin says that an eruption is possible within days or weeks.

Tungurahua entered a period of high activity in 1999, at one point forcing the evacuation of the town of Baños de Ambato, located at its base. Since then, small eruptions have killed and injured dozens, ruined agricultural land and disrupted transportation. Geologists say that a major eruption could destroy Baños, which is built on lava flows of previous eruptions.

At the Cotopaxi volcano, south of Quito, a steam and gas plume was visible above the crater on Friday for the first time in 10 months. The 19,600-foot volcano, considered one of the most dangerous in the world, came to life last August after decades of dormancy. Large explosions were recorded and emissions of ash covered thousands of hectares of nearby farmland. A national state of emergency was called and communities near the volcano, including the southern suburbs of Quito, went on a high state of readiness.

Geologists say that activity at Cotopaxi has increased but remains relatively low. “Because of the danger that this volcano poses, we take any changes very seriously,” says volcanologist Bernard Benjamin. “We are monitoring the activity very closely.”

Sponsored ad

Subscribe to our newsletter

Cuenca High Life offers on-line publications, local translated news, and reports about the expat life and living in Ecuador. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to our Newsletter

CuencaHighLife publishes Ecuador news daily. Subscribing will guarentee that you never miss the most important news.

You have Successfully Subscribed!