Ecuadoran Volcano Update: El Reventador Producing Lava Flows and Ash Fall, Tungurahua Settles Down
Two of Ecuador’s most active volcanoes, Tunagurahua and El Reventador, seem to be headed in different directions. At El Reventador, a new ~2 km/ 6,500 foot steam-and-ash plume along with lava flows were noted this week, along with lava fountains at the summit. People living near the volcano noticed incandescence at the volcano’s summit, along with dusting of ash on the flanks of the volcano. This revived lava flow activity started last fall, but had quieted for the last few months until this new activity. The increased seismicity likely means magma is moving within the magmatic system beneath the volcano, so the likelihood of the eruption continuing is high. Larger eruptions of El Reventador, including a VEI 4 eruption in 2002 (see above), have been known to coat Quito with ash (90 km away) and within the 2002 crater, a small scoria cone and lava dome have grown since 2008.
Meanwhile, things have settled down some at Tungurahua, after last year’s impressive activity. There have been some small earthquakes centered under the volcano, but right now there is only a wispy steam plume coming from Tungurahua. However, even when Tungurahua isn’t erupting, it can be hazardous. As the latest IG-EPN bulletin warns, heavy rains can remobilize loose ash deposits to form mudflows/lahars. This means that people should take special caution near streams that issue from the flanks of the volcano.
Erik Klemetti is an assistant professor of Geosciences at Denison University. His passion in geology is volcanoes, and he has studied them all over the world. You can follow Erik on Twitter, where you'll get volcano news and the occasional baseball comment.
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