New activity/unrest was observed at 4 volcanoes from September 23 – 29, 2015. During the same period, ongoing activity was observed at 15 volcanoes.
New activity/unrest: Aira, Kyushu (Japan) | Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia | Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island (France) | Telica, Nicaragua
Ongoing activity: Bagana, Bougainville (Papua New Guinea) | Barren Island, Andaman Islands (India) | Cleveland, Chuginadak Island (USA) | Colima, Mexico | Cotopaxi, Ecuador | Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia) | Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA) | Raung, Eastern Java (Indonesia) | Reventador, Ecuador | Santa Maria, Guatemala | Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Shishaldin, Fox Islands (USA) | Sinabung, Indonesia | Tungurahua, Ecuador
Aira, Kyushu (Japan)
31.593°N, 130.657°E, Summit elev. 1117 m
JMA reported that during 21-28 September emissions rose from both Showa Crater and Minami-Dake Crater at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano. An explosion at Minami-Dake Crater at 0233 on 28 September generated a plume that rose 2.7 km above the crater. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).
Geologic summary: The Aira caldera in the northern half of Kagoshima Bay contains the post-caldera Sakurajima volcano, one of Japan's most active. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow accompanied formation of the 17 x 23 km caldera about 22,000 years ago. The smaller Wakamiko caldera was formed during the early Holocene in the NE corner of the Aira caldera, along with several post-caldera cones. The construction of Sakurajima began about 13,000 years ago on the southern rim of Aira caldera and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kitadake summit cone ended about 4850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minamidake. Frequent historical eruptions, recorded since the 8th century, have deposited ash on Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largest cities, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76.
Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia
4.892°N, 75.324°W, Summit elev. 5279 m
Servicio Geológico Colombiano’s (SGC) Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales reported that during 22-28 September seismicity at Nevado del Ruiz was characterized by long-period earthquakes and short-duration volcanic tremor associated with gas-and-ash emissions. Earthquakes occurred at depths between 1.3 and 7.5 km. The largest event was recorded at 1027 on 22 September, a local M 1.1, near Arenas Crater at a depth of 4 km. Water-vapor, gas, and ash plumes rose 2 km above the crater and drifted mainly NW. Thermal anomalies over the crater were sometimes detected in satellite images; a significant anomaly was detected on 26 September. A pulse of tremor at 1633 on 28 September was accompanied by an ash emission that drifted E and W. The Alert Level remained at III (Yellow; "changes in the behavior of volcanic activity").
Geologic summary: Nevado del Ruiz is a broad, glacier-covered volcano in central Colombia that covers >200 sq km. Three major edifices, composed of andesitic and dacitic lavas and andesitic pyroclastics, have been constructed since the beginning of the Pleistocene. The modern cone consists of a broad cluster of lava domes built within the caldera of an older edifice. The 1-km-wide, 240-m-deep Arenas crater occupies the summit. The prominent La Olleta pyroclastic cone located on the SW flank may also have been active in historical time. Steep headwalls of massive landslides cut the flanks. Melting of its summit icecap during historical eruptions, which date back to the 16th century, has resulted in devastating lahars, including one in 1985 that was South America's deadliest eruption.
Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island (France)
21.244°S, 55.708°E, Summit elev. 2632 m
On 24 September OVPDLF reported that, since 20 September, seismicity, deformation, and gas emissions at Piton de la Fournaise stabilized but remained at high levels. The cone was 30 m high; lava fountains were lower and less frequently observed. A white water vapor plume rose from the vents. Lava flows continued to be active, mainly traveling as far as 3 km S and less than 3 km E. During 22-23 September a new lava tube formed to the W of the lava field.
Since the beginning of the eruption deformation data indicated no deflation. Early on in the eruption the flow rate decreased from 60 cubic meters per second to between 5 and 10; the rate declined during 28 August-7 September and then increased again, starting on 7 September.
Geologic summary: The massive Piton de la Fournaise basaltic shield volcano on the French island of Réunion in the western Indian Ocean is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Much of its more than 530,000-year history overlapped with eruptions of the deeply dissected Piton des Neiges shield volcano to the NW. Three calderas formed at about 250,000, 65,000, and less than 5000 years ago by progressive eastward slumping of the volcano. Numerous pyroclastic cones dot the floor of the calderas and their outer flanks. Most historical eruptions have originated from the summit and flanks of Dolomieu, a 400-m-high lava shield that has grown within the youngest caldera, which is 8 km wide and breached to below sea level on the eastern side. More than 150 eruptions, most of which have produced fluid basaltic lava flows, have occurred since the 17th century. Only six eruptions, in 1708, 1774, 1776, 1800, 1977, and 1986, have originated from fissures on the outer flanks of the caldera. The Piton de la Fournaise Volcano Observatory, one of several operated by the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, monitors this very active volcano.
12.602°N, 86.845°W, Summit elev. 1061 m
INETER reported that a 30-minute period of moderate-intensity explosions at Telica began at 0800 on 23 September. Abundant gas-and-ash emissions initially rose 400 m above the crater and drifted WNW, but then decreased to 50 m. Ashfall was reported in the community of Guanacastal. Explosions occurred at 1645 and 1648. Scientists conducting fieldwork observed deposits on the crater floor from an inner-wall landslide that had occurred on 17 July, and new fumaroles on the crater floor. Five explosions were detected on 24 September. Based on wind and satellite data, the Washington VAAC reported that on 26 September ash plumes rose as high as 3.6 km (12,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W and N. During 28-29 September INETER noted that voluminous gas plumes rose from two vents on the crater floor.
Geologic summary: Telica, one of Nicaragua's most active volcanoes, has erupted frequently since the beginning of the Spanish era. This volcano group consists of several interlocking cones and vents with a general NW alignment. Sixteenth-century eruptions were reported at symmetrical Santa Clara volcano at the SW end of the group. However, its eroded and breached crater has been covered by forests throughout historical time, and these eruptions may have originated from Telica, whose upper slopes in contrast are unvegetated. The steep-sided cone of 1061-m-high Telica is truncated by a 700-m-wide double crater; the southern crater, the source of recent eruptions, is 120 m deep. El Liston, immediately SE of Telica, has several nested craters. The fumaroles and boiling mudpots of Hervideros de San Jacinto, SE of Telica, form a prominent geothermal area frequented by tourists, and geothermal exploration has occurred nearby.
Bagana, Bougainville (Papua New Guinea)
6.137°S, 155.196°E, Summit elev. 1855 m
Based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 24 and 26-27 September ash plumes from Bagana rose to altitudes of 1.8-2.4 km (6,000-8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 35-100 km N, NE, E, and SE.
Geologic summary: Bagana volcano, occupying a remote portion of central Bougainville Island, is one of Melanesia's youngest and most active volcanoes. This massive symmetrical, roughly 1850-m-high cone was largely constructed by an accumulation of viscous andesitic lava flows. The entire edifice could have been constructed in about 300 years at its present rate of lava production. Eruptive activity is frequent and characterized by non-explosive effusion of viscous lava that maintains a small lava dome in the summit crater, although explosive activity occasionally producing pyroclastic flows also occurs. Lava flows form dramatic, freshly preserved tongue-shaped lobes up to 50-m-thick with prominent levees that descend the volcano's flanks on all sides. Satellite thermal measurements indicate a continuous eruption from before February 2000 through at least late August 2014.
Barren Island, Andaman Islands (India)
12.278°N, 93.858°E, Summit elev. 354 m
Based on analysis of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 22 September an ash plume from Barren Island rose to an altitude of 1.8 km (6,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 45 km E.
Geologic summary: Barren Island, a possession of India in the Andaman Sea about 135 km NE of Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, is the only historically active volcano along the N-S-trending volcanic arc extending between Sumatra and Burma (Myanmar). The 354-m-high island is the emergent summit of a volcano that rises from a depth of about 2250 m. The small, uninhabited 3-km-wide island contains a roughly 2-km-wide caldera with walls 250-350 m high. The caldera, which is open to the sea on the west, was created during a major explosive eruption in the late Pleistocene that produced pyroclastic-flow and -surge deposits. Historical eruptions have changed the morphology of the pyroclastic cone in the center of the caldera, and lava flows that fill much of the caldera floor have reached the sea along the western coast.
Cleveland, Chuginadak Island (USA)
52.825°N, 169.944°W, Summit elev. 1730 m
AVO reported that during 23-29 September low-level unrest at Cleveland likely continued. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch.
Geologic summary: Beautifully symmetrical Mount Cleveland stratovolcano is situated at the western end of the uninhabited, dumbbell-shaped Chuginadak Island. It lies SE across Carlisle Pass strait from Carlisle volcano and NE across Chuginadak Pass strait from Herbert volcano. Cleveland is joined to the rest of Chuginadak Island by a low isthmus. The 1730-m-high Mount Cleveland is the highest of the Islands of the Four Mountains group and is one of the most active of the Aleutian Islands. The native name for Mount Cleveland, Chuginadak, refers to the Aleut goddess of fire, who was thought to reside on the volcano. Numerous large lava flows descend the steep-sided flanks. It is possible that some 18th-to-19th century eruptions attributed to Carlisle should be ascribed to Cleveland (Miller et al., 1998). In 1944 Cleveland produced the only known fatality from an Aleutian eruption. Recent eruptions have been characterized by short-lived explosive ash emissions, at times accompanied by lava fountaining and lava flows down the flanks.
19.514°N, 103.62°W, Summit elev. 3850 m
Based on satellite images, wind data, and webcam views, the Washington VAAC reported that on 22 September ash plumes from Colima drifted over 15 km W and SW. On 23 September ash plumes rose to altitudes of 6.7-7 km (22,000-23,000 ft) a.s.l., drifted SW, and dissipated near the coast. Ash plumes the next day drifted 15-30 km WSW.
Geologic summary: The Colima volcanic complex is the most prominent volcanic center of the western Mexican Volcanic Belt. It consists of two southward-younging volcanoes, Nevado de Colima (the 4320 m high point of the complex) on the north and the 3850-m-high historically active Volcán de Colima at the south. A group of cinder cones of late-Pleistocene age is located on the floor of the Colima graben west and east of the Colima complex. Volcán de Colima (also known as Volcán Fuego) is a youthful stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera, breached to the south, that has been the source of large debris avalanches. Major slope failures have occurred repeatedly from both the Nevado and Colima cones, and have produced a thick apron of debris-avalanche deposits on three sides of the complex. Frequent historical eruptions date back to the 16th century. Occasional major explosive eruptions (most recently in 1913) have destroyed the summit and left a deep, steep-sided crater that was slowly refilled and then overtopped by lava dome growth.
0.677°S, 78.436°W, Summit elev. 5911 m
During an overflight of Cotopaxi on 22 September, IG scientists observed low-energy emissions with low or no ash content that rose 500 m above the crater and drifted W. Fracturing continued on both the upper parts of the glacier and the glacial toes on the N, NW, and SW flanks. The glacier inside the crater had almost disappeared. Several areas of landslide deposits inside and outside of the crater were noted. Yellowish-green deposits from increased fumarolic activity were most apparent on the S, SE, and E flanks. Thermal images revealed temperature decreases since the previous overflight at the new vents inside the crater and at areas on the S flank. During 23-29 September gas-and-water vapor plumes, often with low ash content, rose as high as 2 km and drifted mainly W and SW.
Geologic summary: Symmetrical, glacier-clad Cotopaxi stratovolcano is Ecuador's most well-known volcano and one of its most active. The steep-sided cone is capped by nested summit craters, the largest of which is about 550 x 800 m in diameter. Deep valleys scoured by lahars radiate from the summit of the andesitic volcano, and large andesitic lava flows extend as far as the base of Cotopaxi. The modern conical volcano has been constructed since a major edifice collapse sometime prior to about 5000 years ago. Pyroclastic flows (often confused in historical accounts with lava flows) have accompanied many explosive eruptions of Cotopaxi, and lahars have frequently devastated adjacent valleys. The most violent historical eruptions took place in 1744, 1768, and 1877. Pyroclastic flows descended all sides of the volcano in 1877, and lahars traveled more than 100 km into the Pacific Ocean and western Amazon basin. The last significant eruption of Cotopaxi took place in 1904.
Dukono, Halmahera (Indonesia)
1.68°N, 127.88°E, Summit elev. 1335 m
Based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 23-27 September ash plumes from Dukono rose to altitudes of 1.5-2.4 km (5,000-8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 45-110 km NW, N, and NE.
Geologic summary: Reports from this remote volcano in northernmost Halmahera are rare, but Dukono has been one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. More-or-less continuous explosive eruptions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, occurred from 1933 until at least the mid-1990s, when routine observations were curtailed. During a major eruption in 1550, a lava flow filled in the strait between Halmahera and the north-flank cone of Gunung Mamuya. This complex volcano presents a broad, low profile with multiple summit peaks and overlapping craters. Malupang Wariang, 1 km SW of the summit crater complex, contains a 700 x 570 m crater that has also been active during historical time.
Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia)
54.049°N, 159.443°E, Summit elev. 1513 m
KVERT reported that moderate explosive activity at Karymsky continued during 18-25 September. Satellite images detected a thermal anomaly on the volcano on 18 and 24 September, and an ash plume that drifted 10 km NE on 20 September. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.
Geologic summary: Karymsky, the most active volcano of Kamchatka's eastern volcanic zone, is a symmetrical stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera that formed during the early Holocene. The caldera cuts the south side of the Pleistocene Dvor volcano and is located outside the north margin of the large mid-Pleistocene Polovinka caldera, which contains the smaller Akademia Nauk and Odnoboky calderas. Most seismicity preceding Karymsky eruptions originated beneath Akademia Nauk caldera, located immediately south. The caldera enclosing Karymsky formed about 7600-7700 radiocarbon years ago; construction of the stratovolcano began about 2000 years later. The latest eruptive period began about 500 years ago, following a 2300-year quiescence. Much of the cone is mantled by lava flows less than 200 years old. Historical eruptions have been vulcanian or vulcanian-strombolian with moderate explosive activity and occasional lava flows from the summit crater.
Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands (USA)
19.421°N, 155.287°W, Summit elev. 1222 m
HVO reported that seismicity beneath Kilauea's summit, upper East Rift Zone, and Southwest Rift Zone was at background levels during 23-29 September. The lava lake continued to circulate and spatter in the Overlook vent. The June 27th NE-trending lava flow continued to be active within 4-8 km NE of Pu'u 'O'o Crater. A small lava pond, not visible with the webcams, remained active in a pit on the W side of the crater floor.
Geologic summary: Kilauea volcano, which overlaps the east flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano, has been Hawaii's most active volcano during historical time. Eruptions of Kilauea are prominent in Polynesian legends; written documentation extending back to only 1820 records frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions that were interspersed with periods of long-term lava lake activity that lasted until 1924 at Halemaumau crater, within the summit caldera. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1500 years ago and during the 18th century; eruptions have also originated from the lengthy East and SW rift zones, which extend to the sea on both sides of the volcano. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1100 years old; 70% of the volcano's surface is younger than 600 years. A long-term eruption from the East rift zone that began in 1983 has produced lava flows covering more than 100 sq km, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.
Raung, Eastern Java (Indonesia)
8.125°S, 114.042°E, Summit elev. 3332 m
PVMBG reported that, although inclement weather conditions often prevented visual observations of Raung during 25 August-21 September, white plumes were occasionally seen rising as high as 200 m above the crater. Seismicity fluctuated but continued to decrease. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was reminded not to approach the crater within a 2-km radius.
Geologic summary: Raung, one of Java's most active volcanoes, is a massive stratovolcano in easternmost Java that was constructed SW of the rim of Ijen caldera. The 3332-m-high, unvegetated summit of Gunung Raung is truncated by a dramatic steep-walled, 2-km-wide caldera that has been the site of frequent historical eruptions. A prehistoric collapse of Gunung Gadung on the W flank produced a large debris avalanche that traveled 79 km, reaching nearly to the Indian Ocean. Raung contains several centers constructed along a NE-SW line, with Gunung Suket and Gunung Gadung stratovolcanoes being located to the NE and W, respectively.
0.077°S, 77.656°W, Summit elev. 3562 m
During 23-29 September IG reported a high level of seismic activity including explosions, volcano-tectonic events, long-period earthquakes, harmonic tremor, and signals indicating emissions at Reventador; cloud cover often prevented visual observations. Daily ash-and-gas emissions rose as high as 1.5 km above the crater and drifted W, WNW, and NW.
Geologic summary: Reventador is the most frequently active of a chain of Ecuadorian volcanoes in the Cordillera Real, well east of the principal volcanic axis. The forested, dominantly andesitic Volcán El Reventador stratovolcano rises to 3562 m above the jungles of the western Amazon basin. A 4-km-wide caldera widely breached to the east was formed by edifice collapse and is partially filled by a young, unvegetated stratovolcano that rises about 1300 m above the caldera floor to a height comparable to the caldera rim. It has been the source of numerous lava flows as well as explosive eruptions that were visible from Quito in historical time. Frequent lahars in this region of heavy rainfall have constructed a debris plain on the eastern floor of the caldera. The largest historical eruption took place in 2002, producing a 17-km-high eruption column, pyroclastic flows that traveled up to 8 km, and lava flows from summit and flank vents.
Santa Maria, Guatemala
14.756°N, 91.552°W, Summit elev. 3772 m
Based on Observatorio del volcán Santiaguito (OVSAN) observations, INSIVUMEH reported that on 29 September explosions from Santa María's Santiaguito lava-dome complex generated multiple small pyroclastic flows. The largest pyroclastic flow traveled 4 km E down the Ángel and Nimá I drainages. Dense ash plumes drifted E causing ashfall in areas between Quetzaltenango (18 km WNW) and El Palmar (12 km S).
Geologic summary: Symmetrical, forest-covered Santa María volcano is one of the most prominent of a chain of large stratovolcanoes that rises dramatically above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. The 3772-m-high stratovolcano has a sharp-topped, conical profile that is cut on the SW flank by a large, 1.5-km-wide crater. The oval-shaped crater extends from just below the summit to the lower flank and was formed during a catastrophic eruption in 1902. The renowned plinian eruption of 1902 that devastated much of SW Guatemala followed a long repose period after construction of the large basaltic-andesite stratovolcano. The massive dacitic Santiaguito lava-dome complex has been growing at the base of the 1902 crater since 1922. Compound dome growth at Santiaguito has occurred episodically from four westward-younging vents, the most recent of which is Caliente. Dome growth has been accompanied by almost continuous minor explosions, with periodic lava extrusion, larger explosions, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.
Sheveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)
56.653°N, 161.36°E, Summit elev. 3283 m
KVERT reported that during 18-25 September lava-dome extrusion onto Sheveluch’s N flank was accompanied by fumarolic activity, dome incandescence, and hot avalanches. Satellite images detected an almost daily thermal anomaly over the dome. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.
Geologic summary: The high, isolated massif of Sheveluch volcano (also spelled Shiveluch) rises above the lowlands NNE of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group. The 1300 cu km volcano is one of Kamchatka's largest and most active volcanic structures. The summit of roughly 65,000-year-old Stary Shiveluch is truncated by a broad 9-km-wide late-Pleistocene caldera breached to the south. Many lava domes dot its outer flanks. The Molodoy Shiveluch lava dome complex was constructed during the Holocene within the large horseshoe-shaped caldera; Holocene lava dome extrusion also took place on the flanks of Stary Shiveluch. At least 60 large eruptions have occurred during the Holocene, making it the most vigorous andesitic volcano of the Kuril-Kamchatka arc. Widespread tephra layers from these eruptions have provided valuable time markers for dating volcanic events in Kamchatka. Frequent collapses of dome complexes, most recently in 1964, have produced debris avalanches whose deposits cover much of the floor of the breached caldera.
Shishaldin, Fox Islands (USA)
54.756°N, 163.97°W, Summit elev. 2857 m
AVO reported that seismicity at Shishaldin continued to be elevated over background levels during 23-29 September, indicating that low-level eruptive activity confined to the summit crater continued. Cloud cover often prevented satellite and webcam observations; weakly elevated surface temperatures were detected in satellite images on 23 September. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch.
Geologic summary: The beautifully symmetrical volcano of Shishaldin is the highest and one of the most active volcanoes of the Aleutian Islands. The 2857-m-high, glacier-covered volcano is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes along an E-W line in the eastern half of Unimak Island. The Aleuts named the volcano Sisquk, meaning "mountain which points the way when I am lost." A steady steam plume rises from its small summit crater. Constructed atop an older glacially dissected volcano, it is Holocene in age and largely basaltic in composition. Remnants of an older ancestral volcano are exposed on the west and NE sides at 1500-1800 m elevation. There are over two dozen pyroclastic cones on its NW flank, which is blanketed by massive aa lava flows. Frequent explosive activity, primarily consisting of strombolian ash eruptions from the small summit crater, but sometimes producing lava flows, has been recorded since the 18th century.
3.17°N, 98.392°E, Summit elev. 2460 m
PVMBG reported that during 14-24 September foggy weather sometimes prevented visual observations of Sinabung and the growing lava dome in the summit crater. Lava flows on the flanks were incandescent as far as 2 km E to SE. As many as eight pyroclastic flows per day were detected, traveling as far as 4 km ESE. Ash plumes rose as high as 4.5 km. Seismicity consisted of avalanche signals, low-frequency and hybrid events, tremor, tectonic events, and volcanic earthquakes. Seismicity fluctuated at high levels, although it had declined compared to the previous week. The Alert Level remained at 4 (on a scale of 1-4), indicating that people within 7 km of the volcano on the SSE sector, and within 6 km in the ESE sector, should evacuate. Based on information from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 26-27 September ash plumes rose 1-2.5 km.
Geologic summary: Gunung Sinabung is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano with many lava flows on its flanks. The migration of summit vents along a N-S line gives the summit crater complex an elongated form. The youngest crater of this conical, 2460-m-high andesitic-to-dacitic volcano is at the southern end of the four overlapping summit craters. An unconfirmed eruption was noted in 1881, and solfataric activity was seen at the summit and upper flanks in 1912. No confirmed historical eruptions were recorded prior to explosive eruptions during August-September 2010 that produced ash plumes to 5 km above the summit.
1.467°S, 78.442°W, Summit elev. 5023 m
In a special report from 21 September, IG noted increased activity at Tungurahua during the previous two weeks, characterized by an increase in seismicity and the intensity of gas-and-ash emissions. An explosion on 19 September generated an ash plume that rose 2 km. Later that night weak glow from the crater was observed. Moderate levels of activity at Tungurahua were reported during 23-29 September; inclement weather often prevented visual observations. Seismicity significantly increased on 26 September, accompanied by emissions with high ash content that rose 500 m and ejected incandescent blocks that rolled 500 m down the NW flank. Ashfall was reported in Manzanó (8 km SW), Choglontus (13 km WSW), Caguají, and Palitahua (6 km SSW).
Geologic summary: Tungurahua, a steep-sided andesitic-dacitic stratovolcano that towers more than 3 km above its northern base, is one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes. Three major edifices have been sequentially constructed since the mid-Pleistocene over a basement of metamorphic rocks. Tungurahua II was built within the past 14,000 years following the collapse of the initial edifice. Tungurahua II itself collapsed about 3000 years ago and produced a large debris-avalanche deposit and a horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the west, inside which the modern glacier-capped stratovolcano (Tungurahua III) was constructed. Historical eruptions have all originated from the summit crater, accompanied by strong explosions and sometimes by pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached populated areas at the volcano's base. Prior to a long-term eruption beginning in 1999 that caused the temporary evacuation of the city of Baños at the foot of the volcano, the last major eruption had occurred from 1916 to 1918, although minor activity continued until 1925.
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