Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Ecuador, in the News

I know you all are very interested in hearing and seeing the Festival, but while I gather all the pictures together and Mike makes a short video, I thought I'd write about the Other topic of discussion, the Cotapaxi Volcano eruption.

Since April the volcano has been showing activity, its last major eruption was in 1877. Ecuadorean authorities say 325,000 people live in areas that could be threatened by fast-moving mud and rock flows if there is a major eruption of the Cotopaxi volcano. On Saturday the volcano spewed ash 3kilometers in the air and "spilled some lava".

400 people were briefly and voluntarily relocated, due to the increased activity and the fine layer of ash covering homes and roadways.

"We declare a state of emergency due to the unusual activity of Mount Cotopaxi," Correa said during his weekly Saturday address. "God willing, everything will go well and the volcano will not erupt."

The move allows the president to immediately mobilize security forces throughout the country and lets the government block publication of information related to Cotopaxi.

The state of emergency may not exceed 60 days.

Cotopaxi is one of South America's most famous volcanoes and one of its most active ones. With its 5911 m it also ranks among the world's highest active volcanoes (26th highest). 
The majestic, snow covered symmetrical stratovolcano is located on the Eastern Cordillera of the Ecuadorian Andes, 60 km south of Quito and 35 km northeast of Latacunga. 


Cotopaxi erupted more than 50 times since 1738. The most violent historical eruptions of Cotopaxi volcano were in 1744, 1768, 1877, and 1904. its eruptions often produced pyroclastic flows and destructive mud flows (lahars). Some lahars have travelled more than 100 km and reached the Pacific to the west and the Amazon Basin to the east. 

At the moment, it has been dormant for over 70 years, which is an unusual long interval in its recent history.

Cotopaxi has often produced lahars during eruptions melting the snow on the upper flanks. The lahars have eroded deep valleys in all directions from the summit of the andesitic volcano. These valleys alternative with large andesitic lava flows that extend as far as the base of the volcano. 

1907 eruption
The last significant eruption of Cotopaxi volcano was in 1907 and produced ash explosions and small pyroclastic flows but no lava flows.

1905 and 1906 eruptions
The eruptions in 1905 and August 1906 consisted in small ash explosions.

1903-04 eruption
A medium-sized eruption (VEI 3) started on 26 Sep 1903 and lasted until December 1904. The eruption occurred from the central vent and produced tall ash plumes, pyroclastic flows and lahars. During explosions on or around 23 October, lightnings were noted by observers, the Times reports the next day: "Since Thursday, electric discharges have been noticed on the eastern side of the Andes."

1880 vulcanian eruption
One of the largest eruptions of Cotopaxi in historic times began on 3 July 1880. A powerful explosion sent an ash column of 20,000 ft (ca. 6 km) height above the crater in less than a minute. 
The British explorer Edward Whymper was climbing Chimborazo at the time of the eruption and reported extremely vivid and strange light and color effects when the large ash plume drifted over him: "... several hours passed before the ash commenced to intervene between the sun and ourselves; and, when it did so, we witnessed effects which simply amazed us."

1877 vulcanian eruption 
4 large eruptions occurred at Cotopaxi between January and September 1877. The explosions produced high eruption columns, heavy ash fall, pyroclastic flows and lahars. The eruption caused much damage and there were fatalities.

Guests arriving at Casa WF stated they ran into road closures coming from Quito, but I could not find in my research any writings of it, it could be the roads are still closed due to the mudslides earlier in the season. But it seems all is well, dusting of ash appears to be the biggest problem. We will keep you posted if anything else should develop, and of course stay tuned for all the Festival details, it was a blast! 

The adventure continues!!

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