State of emergency after powerful eruption at Ubinas volcano, 10 000 people affected, Peru

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The Government of Peru has declared a state of emergency for 12 districts located in four provinces of the regions of Moquegua, Arequipa, and Tacna on July 20 after violent eruptions started at Ubinas volcano early July 19, 2019. The emergency measure will be in effect for at least 60 days.

President of the Republic, Martín Vizcarra, said the declaration will allow regional governors and mayors to proceed quickly and have the budget to carry out care actions, purchase tools, acquisition of protection material and food for the population, among other measures for emergency care.

According to data provided by the National Institute of Civil Defense (Indeci), ashfall has already affected 9 249 people in Moquegua, Arequipa, and Tacna. The volcano was placed on Orange alert on July 20, schools closed and protective masks delivered.

Specialists of the Direction of Meteorology and Environmental Evaluation of the Senamhi said the winds on Sunday, July 21 will displace the ashes towards the northeast at high levels (10 – 12 km / 6 7 miles) and towards the east at medium levels (6 -7 km / 3.7 – 4.3 miles). In general, temperatures during the day would be lower in the regions where the ashes will block solar radiation.

Violent explosions started at the volcano around 07:35 UTC (02:35 local time) on July 19, with volcanic ash reaching 12.1 km (42 000 feet) above sea level. 

This is the highest eruption of the volcano since 1677 (VEI 3).

Geological summary

A small, 1.4-km-wide (0.8 miles) caldera cuts the top of Ubinas, Peru's most active volcano, giving it a truncated appearance. It is the northernmost of three young volcanoes located along a regional structural lineament about 50 km (31 miles) behind the main volcanic front of Perú.

The growth and destruction of Ubinas I was followed by the construction of Ubinas II beginning in the mid-Pleistocene. The upper slopes of the andesitic-to-rhyolitic Ubinas II stratovolcano are composed primarily of andesitic and trachyandesitic lava flows and steepen to nearly 45 degrees. The steep-walled, 150-m-deep (492 feet) summit caldera contains an ash cone with a 500-m-wide (1 640 feet) funnel-shaped vent that is 200 m (656 feet) deep.

Debris-avalanche deposits from the collapse of the SE flank about 3 700 years ago extend 10 km (6.2 miles) from the volcano. Widespread plinian pumice-fall deposits include one of Holocene age about 1 000 years ago. Holocene lava flows are visible on the flanks, but historical activity, documented since the 16th century, has consisted of intermittent minor-to-moderate explosive eruptions. (GVP)

Featured image credit: IGP

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