Scientists warn that the Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador is showing the first signs of impending catastrophic collapse after satellite data showed significant internal damage from continued magma activity.
Tungurahua has been in constant operation since 1999, so wear and tear on the cone was inevitable, especially considering that the “Throat of Fire”, or “Black Giant,” as the indigenous people of Quechua called it, had already collapsed twice, thousands of years ago.
“Using satellite data, we observed a very rapid deformation of the western flank of the Tungurahua, which our research suggests is caused by an imbalance between incoming magma and magma eruption,” says geophysical volcanologist James Hickey of the University of Exeter in the UK, whose disturbing research was recently published.
The Tungurahua previously collapsed in the late Late Pleistocene, after which it rebuilt for thousands of years before collapsing again around 3000 years ago.
Such landslides can cause massive landslides and pyroclastic flows that can spread for tens of kilometers. For example, the collapse of 3,000 years ago is believed to have devastated an area of about 80 square kilometers.
Meanwhile, an eruption in 1999 forced the evacuation of about 25,000 people, so the consequences for the lives of people in the area in the event of a re-collapse of the volcano will be truly catastrophic.