Science

Ecuador: the roar of the Cotopaxi volcano, fumaroles and ash falls

One of the most controlled and dangerous volcanoes in the world, Cotopaxi, in central Ecuador, has spawned fumaroles up to two kilometers above its crater, and ash fell in several nearby areas, Quito’s Institute of Geophysics (IG) said.

“In the past 24 hours, several gas and ash emissions have been observed between 1,000 and 2,000 meters above the crater level,” the agency said in a daily report on Thursday evening.

Due to this eruptive activity, which has been going on since October, authorities have received reports of ash showers in several villages under the volcano, which reaches a height of almost 5900 meters.

The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) in Washington DC has warned of plumes of volcanic dust up to 1,700 meters above the crater.

Cotopaxi is located about forty kilometers south of the capital of Ecuador, Quito, from where you can see the eternal snow on top of an imposing mountain.

Aerial view of Cotopaxi volcano spewing a plume of ash and gas on January 19, 2023 (AFP – Galo PAGUAY)

The main danger of this volcano is the presence of lava near the crater, which could cause pyroclastic flows, a mixture of hot materials consisting of ash and rocks. But they also lead to the melting of the ice covering the slopes of the volcano, and the formation of avalanches or giant flows that endanger the places immediately below them, where about 300,000 people live.

The area is also surrounded by strategic facilities and infrastructure such as oil pipelines and agricultural and livestock farms.

“Due to its danger, geographic location and ice cap, it is perhaps the most dangerous volcano in the country and one of the most dangerous in the world,” Daniel, an IG expert, recently told AFP.Sierra.

Cotopaxi reactivated in 2015 after 138 years of sleep. Reventador and Sangay volcanoes, located on the eastern slope of the Andes mountain range bordering the Amazon, are also currently erupting.

At the equator, located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is half the area of ​​France, there are about a hundred volcanoes, about ten of which culminate at an altitude of more than 5000 m.

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