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Tungurahua volcano (Ecuador), eruption news: strong eruption on 14 July, 2006
Reuters press photo of Tunagurahua volcano in eruption on 15 July 2006
AFP press photo of Tunagurahua volcano in eruption on 15 July 2006
On July 14, Tunguragua volcano's activity increased dramatically and culminated in a powerful vulcanian-type explosion starting at 17h30 local time. It produced an visible eruption column of 6-15 km height, with an ash plume reaching 25 km altitude, ash and pumic falls in the surrounding areas as well as several pyroclastic flows. The activity is the most intense since the volcano started its present eruptive phase in 1999.
Tungurahua's increase in activity started on July 14, at 17h10 local time, when a number of loud detonations were heard up to several kilometers distance. A calm period of 20 minutes followed until the volcano suddenly entered its violent explosive phase at 17h30 that lasted until 00h30. This phase of the eruption eruption was characterized by intense strombolian activity ejecting large incandescent blocks to about 500 m above the crater, the generation of at least 4 or 5 pyroclastic flows that descended the Achupashal, Cusúa, la Hacienda and Juive Grande valleys on the W and NW slopes causing small bush fires, continuous ash explosions with a sustained eruption column of 6-15 km height. A part of the ash plume reached 25 km altitude as satellite observations indicate. Two ash clouds travelling at 7 and 25 km altitudes were moving E and SE and by the time of this report had already exited Ecuadorian territory.
Ash and pumice falls, with fragments of up to 1 cm in diameter, fell in areas W of the volcano, with maximum measured thickness of 15mm. Strong seismic activity was felt in areas up to 14 km north of the volcano.
The deposits of one of the pyroclastic flows were described as 8m thick and 20m wide and composed of dense rock fragments, thus suggesting their origin as from "boiling-over" of fresh lava from the crater rather than column collapse.
After 00h30 local time, the intensity of the eruption ceased and changed to intermittent, but still very powerful explosions, occurring at more or less regular intervals of 30-40 minutes.
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