Major explosive event at Sangay volcano, ash to possibly 15.2 km (50 000 feet) a.s.l., Ecuador


A major explosive event was registered at Sangay volcano, Ecuador at 09:03 on December 2, 2021. The Washington VAAC is reporting volcanic ash rising up to possibly 15.2 km (50 000 feet) above sea level.

Consequently, there is a possibility of ashfall in the areas located to the west and southwest of the volcano, in the province of Chimborazo, IGEPN reports.1

It is recommended to take the pertinent measures and receive the information from official sources.

Satellite imagery acquired at 04:40 UTC show 2 ash clouds, the first reaches 10 km (32 800 feet) over the crater and the second 7 km (23 000 feet) over the crater, IGEPN said.2

NWP models suggest volcanic ash rising to possibly 15.2 km (50 000 feet) a.s.l., the Washington VAAC reported at 10:25 UTC. Volcanic ash is expected to dissipate over the next 12 hours as the event appears to be a single explosion although further emissions are possible.3

This phenomenon has been persistent within the current eruptive period that began in May 2019.

The IGEPN continues to monitor the event and will inform promptly in case of detecting changes.

Image credit: IGEPN

Geological summary

The isolated Sangay volcano, located east of the Andean crest, is the southernmost of Ecuador's volcanoes and its most active.

The steep-sided, glacier-covered, dominantly andesitic volcano grew within horseshoe-shaped calderas of two previous edifices, which were destroyed by collapse to the east, producing large debris avalanches that reached the Amazonian lowlands.

The modern edifice dates back to at least 14 000 years ago. It towers above the tropical jungle on the east side; on the other sides flat plains of ash have been sculpted by heavy rains into steep-walled canyons up to 600 m (1 979 feet) deep.

The earliest report of a historical eruption was in 1628. More or less continuous eruptions were reported from 1728 until 1916, and again from 1934 to the present.

The almost constant activity has caused frequent changes to the morphology of the summit crater complex. This volcano is located within the Sangay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage property.4


1 IGAlInstante Informativo VOLCÁN SANGAY Nº 2021-251 – IGEPN

2 IGAlInstante Informativo VOLCÁN SANGAY Nº 2021-252 – IGEPN

3 FVXX22 at 10:25 UTC, 02/12/21 from KNES VA ADVISORY DTG: 20211202/1020Z VAAC: WASHINGTON

4 Sangay – Geological summary – GVP

Featured image: Volcanic ash produced by eruption at Sangay volcano on December 2, 2021. Credit: NOAA/GOES-16, RAMMB/CIRA, TW

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