January 11, 2008

Tungurahua’s Thursday Eruption May Lead to More

Thursday's volcanic eruption may have just been a warm-up. Tungurahua, a volcano in Ecuador which has been active since 1999 began releasing high levels of energy on December 22, 2007, less than a month ago. On Thursday, Tungurahua flung firey rocks and a column of ash and steam shot 1.5 miles above the crater. Prior to this eruption, 1,000 villagers were evacuated from the western slopes; experts had warned that Tungurahua is poised for a major eruption within a few days to a few weeks.

A volcanologist at Ecuador's Geophysics Institute, Silvia Vallejo said that the volcano's explosions were accompanied by grumbles and roars from deep inside the volcano, and ash was showered on nearby villages. Those roars may indicate the possibility of pyroclastic flows, volcanic materials that descend rapidly and burn anything in their paths.

The volcano produced an eruption just a year and a half ago, in the summer of 2006. That particular eruption from the Tungurahua (which means "Ëœthroat of fire'), caused at least four deaths.

The Minister of Housing, Maria de los Angeles Duarte informed journalists that 500 temporary homes will be ready for evacuees in the next few days.