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Powerful eruption at Sangay volcano, Ecuador

sangay volcano eruption 1250z november 4 2022 f

A powerful eruption started at Sangay volcano, Ecuador at around 11:40 UTC on November 4, 2022.

According to the Washington VAAC VA Advisory issued at 13:26 UTC, a column of volcanic ash and gases is rising up to 11.6 km (38 000 feet) above sea level, drifting SSW and to 7 km (23 000 feet) a.s.l., drifting WNW/NW.1

The forecast indicates a continuous WNW/NW movement over the next 18 hours to 7 km (23 000 feet) a.s.l. with a constant SSW movement for the 11.6 km (38 000 feet) a.s.l. cloud.

The emissions moving SSW look like a good mixture of volcanic ash and gases based on several types of satellite imagery.

Pyroclastic flows were observed on the volcano’s southeast flank, Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute (IG) said in an update.

IG added that ashfall is expected mainly in the province of Chimborazo.

Authorities are urging nearby residents to take appropriate measures and follow official information channels.

sangay volcano eruption 1250z november 4 2022 bg
Eruption at Sangay volcano on November 4, 2022. Credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers
sangay eruption november 4 2022 ashfall simulation
Ashfall simulation. Credit: IG
Pyroclastic flow at Sangay volcano on November 4, 2022
Pyroclastic flow at Sangay volcano on November 4, 2022. Credit: IG

A high level of activity was reported at Sangay from October 18 to 25, 2022.3

Daily seismic count ranges were 230 – 734 explosions, 39-86 tremor events indicating emissions, and 1 – 2 lahar events; 10 – 23 long-period events were recorded on October 22 and 23.

Daily ash-and-gas plumes were identified in IG webcam images and/or visible in satellite images, according to the Washington VAAC. Plumes generally rose as high as 2.1 km (6 900 feet) above the volcano and drifted NW, W, and SW.

Almost daily thermal anomalies were identified in satellite images, though weather clouds sometimes prevented views.

Sulfur dioxide emissions averaged 363 – 1 716 tons per day from October 18 to 25.

Incandescence at the summit and from a new lava flow on the SE flank was visible on October 18 and 19; incandescence from lava-flow activity continued to be periodically visible the rest of the week.

Servicio Nacional de Gestión de Riesgos y Emergencias lowered the Alert Level to Yellow (on a four-color scale) on October 20/21.

Update:

A new eruption took place at 15:20 UTC, with volcanic ash up to 12.8 km (42 000 feet) a.s.l., moving toward the SSW.

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

References:

1 Volcanic Ash Advisory for Sangay volcano (FVXX24 KNES 041326) – Washinton VAAC – Issued at 13:26 UTC on November 4, 2022

2 Instante Informativo VOLCÁN SANGAY Nº 2022-096 – IG – November 4, 2022

3 Global Volcanism Program, 2022. Report on Sangay (Ecuador). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 19 October-25 October 2022. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

4 Sangay volcano – Geological summary – GVP

Featured image: Eruption at Sangay volcano on November 4, 2022. Credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers

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