Ecuador – More Volcanic Action

Volcano Map of Ecuador

Volcanos of Ecuador

Original Image Part of a world wide set of volcano maps from The U.S.G.S. via

We’ve had a new eruption in Ecuador and one in Guatemala. The Ring of Fire seems to be waking up!

Why Ecuador?

With all the earthquake activity that we’d seen lately (see this link with live earthquake maps, so you will see the quake activity today, but with comments reflecting what it looked like when I wrote this). Even Brazil is having quakes!

I was cruising through the volcano reports and it just sounded like something fun was going on. I'd love to find a video of this, but have not had time to look yet. Besides, folks are always talking about Chaitén or the Indonesian volcanos. It's fun to look at something else from time to time. (And yes, Chaitén is still going and still has a chance of being a Super Volcano, but that could be a million years away. Literally. While this puppy could put on a real show any day now!)

One of my favorite bits is this quote from

FUEGO Guatemala 14.473°N, 90.880°W; summit elev. 3763 m

On 20 May, INSIVUMEH reported that explosions from Fuego produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 4.4-4.8 km (14,400-15,700 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW. Incandescent material was ejected to heights of 100 m and avalanches descended the S and W flanks.

Geologic Summary. Volcán Fuego, one of Central America’s most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala’s former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3,763-m-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the N, Acatenango. Construction of Meseta volcano continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene, after which growth of the modern Fuego volcano continued the southward migration of volcanism that began at Acatenango. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded at Fuego since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows. The last major explosive eruption from Fuego took place in 1974, producing spectacular pyroclastic flows visible from Antigua.

Gotta love a volcano named Fuego!


PACAYA Guatemala 14.381°N, 90.601°W; summit elev. 2552 m

On 20 May, INSIVUMEH reported that small explosions and incandescence from Pacaya’s MacKenney cone were accompanied by white and blue plumes. Multiple lava flows traveled as far as 1.6 km down the SW flank.

So it looks like an interesting time in the capital of Guatemala!

Oddly, they have nothing on the Ecuador volcanism yet. But they do have this on Costa Rica:


ARENAL Costa Rica 10.463°N, 84.703°W; summit elev. 1670 m

According to news articles, an eruption from Arenal on 24 May produced gas and ash emissions as well as multiple lava flows, prompting the evacuation of Arenal National Park.

Geologic Summary. Conical Volcan Arenal is the youngest stratovolcano in Costa Rica and one of its most active. The 1,657-m-high andesitic volcano towers above the eastern shores of Lake Arenal, which has been enlarged by a hydroelectric project. The earliest known eruptions of Arenal took place about 7,000 years ago. Growth of Arenal has been characterized by periodic major explosive eruptions at several-hundred-year intervals and periods of lava effusion that armor the cone. Arenal’s most recent eruptive period began with a major explosive eruption in 1968. Continuous explosive activity accompanied by slow lava effusion and the occasional emission of pyroclastic flows has occurred since then from vents at the summit and on the upper western flank.

The last time they reported on the Ecuadorian volcano they said:

TUNGURAHUA Ecuador 1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m

The IG reported that during 5-6 January a gas-and-ash plume from Tungurahua rose to an altitude of 6.5 km (21,300 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NW. The sulfur dioxide emission rate was 3,200 tons per day, ten times the value measured during the previous months. On 7 January seismic tremor duration and amplitude increased, and signals indicative of explosions were detected. On 6 and 7 January, incandescent blocks were ejected and fell back into the crater. During 8-10 January, cloud cover often prevented observations; on 10 January a steam-and-ash plume rose to an altitude of 6.5 km (21,300 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W. Incandescence from the crater was sometimes seen at night. Ashfall up to 5 mm thick was reported in areas W and SW on 9 and 10 January. Roaring noises and vibrating glass were occasionally noted during the reporting period.

During 11-12 January, activity increased; ash plumes rose to higher altitudes and more explosions were detected. Incandescent blocks were ejected almost 1 km above the crater and 1.5 km away from the crater, onto the flanks. Gas-and-ash plumes rose to an altitude of 8 km (26,200 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions. Ashfall was reported in areas to the NNW, W, SW, and S.

Geologic Summary. The steep-sided Tungurahua stratovolcano towers more than 3 km above its northern base. It sits ~140 km S of Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, and is one of Ecuador’s most active volcanoes. Historical eruptions have all originated from the summit crater. They have been accompanied by strong explosions and sometimes by pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached populated areas at the volcano’s base. The last major eruption took place from 1916 to 1918, although minor activity continued until 1925. The latest eruption began in October 1999 and prompted temporary evacuation of the town of Baños on the N side of the volcano.

So toward the south of the country and away from Quito, but a “big one” that is often active.

But for current news, we will need to look elsewhere. How about this from:

Meanwhile, strong explosions rocked Ecuador’s Tungurahua volcano, known as the “Throat of Fire”, prompting evacuations of hundreds of people from nearly villages.

The National Geophysics Institute said hot volcanic material blasted down the slopes of the volcano, and ash plumes soared 10 kilometers (6 miles) above a crater that is already 5,023 meters (16,479 feet) above sea level.

The wind blew ashes over the city of Guayaquil, forcing the authorities to halt air traffick out of it and from the capital, Quito, to nearby Peru.

Eruptions at Tungurahua, 150 kilometers (95 miles) southeast of Quito, buried entire villages in 2006, leaving at least four dead and thousands homeless.

Has a good description of the Costa Rica action too.

From: we have:

Interesting pattern of activity reported this week in the Smithsonian world roundup. Cleveland Volcano has activated in Alaska. It is capable of brief but significant explosive eruptions. Also several of the largest volcanoes in Indonesia have activated. Nothing dramatic is happening at any of them, but the clustering attracts attention, especially with all the major earthquakes that have recently struck those islands. Imagine living there! It would certainly promote a live-for-today attitude, quite at variance with the innate austerities of the imported Western religion.

Chaiten goes unmentioned now. On the last clear day I saw dust plumes from occasional small avalanches, but nothing more. The eruption is in a major pause, or perhaps it has finally ended. A remarkable dome-build — the skyline of the Andes has totally changed when viewed from the ruins of the town. As the dome stabilizes, I am sure it will become a place of interest for rockhounds. The unusual chemistry of Chaiten guarantees many rare and beautiful silca minerals, which can be collected before they weather.

So Alaska is waking up too, but there is good news in that Chaiten is taking a rest. Maybe we won’t get a supervolcanic event out of it after all ;-)

But no mention of Ecuador… yet.

But in this case, it looks like the MSM are actually reporting news:

Ecuadorean villagers have fled their homes after the Andean nation’s “Throat of Fire” volcano erupted, spewing ash that forced officials to re-route some flights and close an airport, authorities said.

In the second volcanic eruption in Latin America on Friday (local time), loud explosions shook the ground and rattled windows near the volcano known as Tungurahua in the indigenous Quechua language, 130 kilometres south-east of Quito, officials said.

Residents close to the 5,020-metre volcano were evacuated from Cusua and Juive Grande villages, the president’s office said in a statement.

Officials in the area said hundreds of families had been moved, while Ecuador’s aviation authorities closed the airport in coastal Guayaquil and altered the routes of some flights to avoid the ash cloud.

“The eruptive column is some 10 kilometres high,” Hugo Yepes, director of Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute, said.

Tungurahua has been classed as active since 1999 and had a strong eruption in 2008. It is one of eight active volcanoes in the country.

Mr Yepes said ash plumes could “easily” reach to 10,700 to 12,200 meters at which long distance flights operate. “As such there should be at least a diversion for international routes,” he said.

More in the article, hit the link…

Interesting times… and it’s nice to see folks like Reuters being first on the news scene again.

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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6 Responses to Ecuador – More Volcanic Action

  1. TinyCo2 says:

    I thought the SO2 trail from the Guatemalan volcano was an unusual shape.

    Until I looked at Accuweather’s storm map

  2. Cement a friend says:

    Seems there is also a big eruption in Vanuatu from Mt Yasur
    disputing air flights and an underwater eruption in the Marianas.

  3. pyromancer76 says:

    Thanks for your frequent research. I am enjoying research on volcanoes, with sidelines on vols and solar minima and vols and impact craters with some plate techtonics thrown in. Planning a “geology trip” to Washington State and British Colombia; California and Oregon have been largely explored with regard to volcanoes. Drive 395 from LA to Bishop frequently; love the volcanic-product-strewn landscape. We stay with family very close to the Long Valley Caldera.

    So fascinating to think that there are 20 volcanic eruptions per day and between 50-70 volcanoes active per year. And that is only on land. I am waiting for more research into details regarding the effects of our travel through the Milky Way and around the Sun along with finding many more craters that we know must be around.

  4. Pingback: All Around the World News

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    Interesting links on those other volcanos and hurricane effects.

    There does seem to be a ‘pick up’ in volcanic action all over the place…

    FWIW, I climbed Mount Lassen once. A little over 10,000 feet. Nice view of the crater from the rim at the top. A bit spooky as there was a little steam rising from it at the time…

    Grew up not too far from it (90 miles?) , and folks would point out large boulders in some fields that had, so the story goes, come from eruptions at Lassen. Then they would say something like “But don’t worry, the last time it erupted was back in 1919 or so and that didn’t reach this far”…

    Part of what first got me interested in geology and volcanoes…

    The hike to the top isn’t too bad (took me about 3 or 4 hours?) then I RAN down in about 30 minutes! You do have to be careful that you don’t get going so fast that you can’t slow down (rate of energy gain from dropping exceeding ability to dissipate it in your legs…) but it’s one heck of an experience…

    Since it’s been about 100 years since the last eruption I’m kind of hoping that it’s on the solar schedule and will kick up its heels with the rest of them… I’ve only been waiting a half century…

    And it is on this list:

    Though what it says about Long Valley / Mammoth is more interesting:

    “Youngest activity represented by nearly simultaneous eruptions of rhyolite at several of the Inyo craters; currently restless, shown by seismicity and ground deformation”

    Isn’t California a fun place ;-)

    And since you mentioned 395, also on the active list:

    The Coso volcanic field is located at the west edge of the Basin and Range province. Initiation of volcanism at Coso preceded the onset of Basin and Range crustal extension there, as expressed by normal faulting. The earlier of the two principal periods of volcanism began with the emplacement of basalt flows over a surface of little relief. Then, during the ensuing period of approximately 1.5 million years, eruptive activity included chemically more evolved rocks erupted upon a faulted terrain of substantial relief. Following a 1.5-million-year hiatus with few eruptions, a bimodal field of basalt lava flows and rhyolite lava domes and flows developed on Basin and Range terrain of essentially the same form as today’s landscape. Many of the young basalt flows are intercanyon, occupying parts of the presentday drainage system. […]

    The Coso volcanic field is best known for its Pleistocene rhyolite. Thirty-eight rhyolite domes and flows form an elongate array atop a north-trending 8 x 20-kilometer horst of Mesozoic bedrock. Nearby uneroded constructional forms are exhibited by most domes. Many are nested within tuff-ring craters, and a few filled and overrode their craters to feed flows a kilometer or two long.

    The Coso volcanic field is also well known as a geothermal area. Fumaroles are present along faults bounding the rhyolite-capped horst and locally within the rhyolite field. A multi-disciplinary program of geothermal assessment carried out in the 1970s defined a potential resource of 650 megawatts electric with a nominal life span of 30 years. Judged by the youthfulness of the rhyolite lavas and by a zone of low seismic velocity crust roughly beneath the rhyolite, a magma body may be the source of thermal energy for the geothermal system. […]

    The west side of Coso volcanic field is crossed by Highway 395 at the village of Little Lake, approximately 34 kilometers north of Inyokern, California. Most of the field, however, including all of the Pleistocene rhyolite, is a few to several kilometers to the east, within the China Lake Naval Weapons Center. …

    And a nice map of places likely to be cooked if our volcanoes start to play…

    Here’s the map of volcanoes for the whole western USA:

    And the entry point to the details by state, so you can zoom in on Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, whatever…

    Oh, and in Wyoming, there is the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory:

    with a nice seismometer report and mobile web camera. And a nice write up on the 2010 quake swarm that was only ‘the second largest’ there ever…

    Happy Volcano Hunting!

  6. Tim Clark says:

    A strong explosive eruption of Bezymianny volcano occurred from 12:34 till 12:50 UTC on May 31, according to seismic data. Ash fall in Kozyrevsk village is continuing. The volcano obscured by clouds. A big ash cloud remains over Kamchatka at present (NOAA-15, 17:52 UTC on May 31, last satellite): coordinates on the south – 56.04 N; the north – 56.94 N; the east – 161.05 E; and all Kamchatka to the west. The activity of the volcano could affect international and low-flying aircraft.
    You can check out the Bezymianny webcam and maybe catch a glimpse of the action when the seeing is good – just last year many of the main Kamchatka volcanoes were outfitted with webcams. Bezymianny is no stranger to explosive eruptions. The volcano has experienced VEI 2-3 eruptions almost every year for the last 20 years, so this type of event would fit in with that pattern. More details as they arrive …

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