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Volcano Ash Threatens Ecuador’s Ambato City

Posted by feww on January 29, 2010

Ambato May Become a Ghost City

Tungurahua Volcano, “Throat of Fire,” Eruption Continues

Volcanic ash from Tungurahua volcano, which has been erupting for the past several weeks, has covered a wide area of central Ecuador, including provincial capital city of Ambato, authorities said.


Tungurahua volcano, located near Baños, Ecuador. Photo Credit: Martin Zeise, Berlin. SEE Official license. Click Image to enlarge.

Authorities fear that the volcanic ash from Tungurahua, will cause heavy crop loss as well as health problems.

“People have to protect their nose and eyes, because the volcanic dust causes problems in the respiratory system,” provincial health Director was quoted as saying.

However, most of the residents of Ambato, located in Ecuador’s central Andean valley, have ignored government advice to done masks, as they swept thick blankets of ash from the streets, health officials said, UPI reported.

“Since the reactivation of the volcano this year, this is the first time that the dust has fallen on the streets of the city,” a city official told Quito’s El Comercio newspaper.

Tungurahua, which means “Throat of Fire,” is located about  180 km south of Quito, capital city of Equador.

After a large eruption on Jan. 11, Tungurahua has continued to eject columns of ash reaching  as high as 4,000 meters above the summit. The volcano erupted more than 20 times on Wednesday, said Daniel Andrade of Ecuadorian Instituto Geofísico (the Institute of Geophysics).

City of Ambato

The city of Ambato (1°14′30″S, 78°37′11″W) lies in the valley of the Central Cordillera and is surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes including Carihuairazo, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua and Chimborazo, the largest mountain in Ecuador.

Ambato has an estimated population of 400,000, has been destroyed by earthquakes several times throughout its history, the last incident occurred on 5 August 1949.

The earthquake completely destroyed the entire city as well as 50 of surrounding towns and villages,  killing at least 6,000, and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.

Ambato is also prone to seasonal flooding due to the Ambato River which divides the north side of the city.

Tungurahua erupted on May 16, 2006, covering the city in a thick blanket of ash.

Tungurahua Volcano
Country: Ecuador
Volcano Number: 1502-08=
Volcano Type: Stratovolcano
Last Known Eruption: 2009
Summit Elevation: 5,023 m  (16,479 feet)
Latitude: 1.467°S  (1°28’1″S)
Longitude: 78.442°W  ( 78°26’30″W)
Source: Global Volcanism Program (GVP)


Snow-capped Tungurahua, seen from near the town of Baños on its northern flank, rises 3,200 m above steep-walled canyons. Historical eruptions, separated by long reposes, have produced powerful explosions, sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows and lava flows. All historical eruptions have originated from the summit crater, and have typically lasted for several years. The largest historical eruptions took place in 1886, 1916, and 1918.  Photo by Minard Hall, 1976 (Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Quito). Caption: GVP.
Click Image to enlarge.


A break in the clouds enabled the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite to observe the eruption on January 23, 2010. As the satellite orbited overhead, a tan ash plume stretched 60 km (40 miles) to the southwest of the peak reaching an altitude of 27,000 feet (8,200 meters), more than 3,000 m (10,000 ft) above the 5,023 m (16,480 ft) summit. Observers from the Ecuadorian Instituto Geofísico reported lava fountains and lava blocks cascading down the flanks of the volcano, as well as loud booms and ashfall in the surrounding communities.
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS RRT. Caption by Robert Simmon.  Edited by FEWW. Click Image to enlarge.

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