Volcano update: Cotopaxi steams, Reventador drops ash, Cayambe is stable

Jan 24, 2017 | 1 comment

Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute is keeping a close eye on four volcanoes at the start of 2017.

A gas plume above Cotopaxi. (El Comercio)

A 1,000-meter plume of steam was observed above Cotopaxi on Sunday and Monday. Geologists say the plume was the result of gas emissions combined with climatic factors and did not indicate increased internal activity. The 20,000-foot volcano, considered the country’s most dangerous, entered an active phase in 2015, leading to a massive mobilization of communities in the path of a possible eruption. Cotopaxi is 40 miles south of Quito.

Reventador, in the jungle east of Quito, continues to be the most active volcano in Ecuador. In recent days, it has sent plumes of ash over a wide, mostly uninhabited, area east of the summit. Scientists say that a full eruption could cause “extreme environmental damage” but would not affect large population centers.

The Cayambe volcanco, located on the equator north of Quito, continues to show its first activity in almost 200 years, although geologists say they do not believe an eruption is imminent. A favorite with climbers, the volcano has experienced a series of earthquakes since late November, the result of building gas pressure and rupturing rocks beneath the surface.

Tungurahua volcano, near the tourist town of Baños, shows no external signs of activity although geologists say it could reactivate at any time. The volcano entered its current active stage in 1999, destroying thousands of hectares of farm land with lava flows and ash fall, and killing a dozen local residents.

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