Tungurahua, Ecuador

On 6 February, IG reported that pyroclastic flows from Tungurahua descended multiple NW and W drainages and tephra fall 3 cm in diameter was reported in areas to the SW. Based on information from the IG and satellite imagery evaluation, the Washington VAAC reported that ash plumes rose to estimated altitudes of 7.3-14.3 km (24,000-47,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted S and NW. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind and to the SW and W, including Riobamba (30 km S). Precursory seismicity saturated local stations and presented similar patterns seen prior to intense episodes in July and August 2006. According to news articles, several hundred to 2,000 people were evacuated.

On 7 February, ash plumes rose to altitudes of 7-10 km (23,000-32,800 ft) a.s.l. and drifted mainly NW. Ash and tephra fell in areas to the SW and W. Strong roaring noises, explosions, and “cannon shots” were heard and windows vibrated, as far away as the Tungurahua Observatory (OVT) in Guadalupe, about 13 km NW. Incandescent material was propelled from the summit and fell on the flanks at about 3.5 km elevation, below the crater. Pyroclastic flows were detected in the Chontapamba ravine to the W and in the Juive and Mandur drainages to the NW. According to news articles, residents were evacuated again, hours after being allowed to return home.

During 8-11 February, ash plumes rose to altitudes of 6-10 km (19,700-32,800 ft) a.s.l. and drifted mainly W and E (on 10 February, only). Ashfall was reported from areas to the NW, W, and SW and was 3-4 mm thick in Choglontus to the SW on 8 February. Incandescence at the summit was also observed on 8 February. Ground vibrations were reported all four days. On 11 February, Strombolian activity was seen at the summit and material that was propelled out rolled 1.2 km down the flanks.

Sources: Instituto Geofísico-Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Reuters – “Reports provided courtesy of the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey’s Volcano Hazards Program.”

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