Officials in Ecuador are worried that Cotopaxi volcano, which has been silent since 1904, could soon erupt.
Reports now surfacing that officials in Ecuador are worried of a possible eruption coming soon with over 100 different earthquakes near the volcano, and emissions of sulfur dioxide gas in the area surrounding the volcano.
The last major eruption is confirmed to be 1904, or 111 years ago, however there are “unconfirmed” reports of another eruption in 1942.
quote the Oregon State volcanology program:
“Cotopaxi is a stratovolcano that has erupted 50 times since 1738. The 1877 eruption melted snow and ice on the summit, which produced mudflows that traveled 60 miles (100 km) from the volcano. The most recent eruption of Cotopaxi ended in 1904. Reports of an eruption in 1942 have not been confirmed. The most recent activity was an increase in steam emissions, melting snow, and small earthquakes from 1975-1976. “
Worthy to remember, 3 weeks ago another volcano suddenly erupted in the Galapagos Islands, due West of Ecuador.
Wolf Volcano sent off a sudden impressive blast, along with an eruption of flowing lava.
See the video of the Wolf Volcano eruption here:
Translated from South American Press:
White Alert for Ecuadorian Volcano Cotopaxi
“Quito, June 17.- National Secretary for Risk Management Maria del Pilar Cornejo confirmed today that continues the white alert for the Ecuadorian volcano Cotopaxi, in order to keep people ready in case of eruptions.
Though a sudden eruption is discarded, the state of alert will stay in the surroundings of the five thousand 943 meters Colossus, located 45 kilometers to the southeast of Quito, said the Secretary.
Cornejo reiterated that it is necessary to stay informed about the volcano activity, which is monitored with lahar-detection system, seismographs, GPS, electronic inclinometers, video cameras and satellites to detect hot spots.
Cotopaxi is one of world’s highest active volcanoes and it is the second highest summit in the country, after the Chimborazo volcano, with six thousand 268 meters above the sea level.
During the past weeks, the Colossus increased seismic activity, and gas and sulphur dioxide emissions, according to the Geophysical Institute, which, despite the volcano’s history, ruled out an imminent eruption.
The mountain is considered one of the most dangerous in the world due to the frequency of emissions, glacier coverage and number of population potentially exposed to the volcano’s threat.
Since the beginning of the Spanish conquest, the Cotopaxi had five large explosive periods: 1532-1534, 1742-1744, 1766-1768, 1853-1854 and 1877-1880.
The Cotopaxi’s outbursts can cause lahars, which could run through densely populated areas, such as Latacunga, Mulalo and Valle de los Chillos.
Specialists estimate that more than 300 thousand people of Ecuador live in areas threatened by lahars, as occurred in earlier centuries.
The ash expelled during the eruption Cotopaxi volcano could affect a significant part of the mountains and coastal area of Ecuador.”
Media report on the new unrest taking place:
A Restless Volcano Puts Ecuador on Edge Once More
“Cotopaxi, located only ~60 kilometers from Quito in Ecuador, has been silent for almost 75 years. Prior to this three-quarter century quiescence, the volcano was vociferous, producing dozens of potent eruptions over the two centuries. Most of these explosive eruptions where fairly small. However, in 1744, 1768 and 1877, the volcano unleashed larger eruptions that were on the same scale as the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull or Pelée in 1902 — in other words, big. The 1877 eruption sent volcanic mudflows (lahars) over 100 kilometers from Cotopaxi. Then, after 1940, Cotopaxi went quiet*, and since has been a sentinel looking over the valley were Quito lies.
However, Cotopaxi is starting to show signs of restlessness. Now, it is unclear whether this restlessness might be the prelude to a new eruption, but in any case, Ecuador isn’t taking any chances in preparing for the eventual awakening of Cotopaxi.
The most recent reports from the IG-EPN, Ecuador’s volcano monitoring agency, say that the volcano is feeling over 100 small earthquakes per day, along with the signature tremor associated with fluid movement at a volcano. This increase in seismicity was first noticed in mid-May but has been slowly increasing ever since. Sulfur dioxide emissions are 5 times higher than the background level of ~500 tonnes/day. The steam-and-gas plume has also become more prominent, reaching 1-kilometer in recent days (and causing some alarm). The northeast flanks of the volcano are also experiencing low levels of ground inflation. Put all those signs together, and you have a volcano that is clearly heating up.
Until other signs appear, it is hard to say these signs mean a new eruption will happen. Everything described above could be hypothetically caused by changes in the hydrothermal system under Cotopaxi rather than magma rising. It is important to remember that more times than not, unrest at a volcano does not lead to a new eruption. Even so, the IG-EPN suggest that we might expect only steam-driven (phreatic) explosions as the interior of the volcano warms. Right now, the volcanologists and disaster planners in Ecuador have to play a waiting game until the signs of activity at Cotopaxi become clearer (or start to wane).
The National Park at Cotopaxi has been closed to the public as a precaution during this time of unrest. Regions near Cotopaxi have been placed on Yellow alert status as well so that preparations can begin if any eruption occurs.
A major eruption from Cotopaxi could have serious ramifications for Quito. The population of the Quito metro area is around 3 million people, meaning it is roughly the same size as Seattle. Thinking of Cotopaxi the same way that Seattle thinks of Rainier is a good place to start when considering the dangers the volcano poses.
You can check out loops of the most recent webcam images for the three camera pointed at Cotopaxi.”