Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano erupted on Wednesday 2 March, spewing smoke and ash high into the air in several fiery explosions. Volcanologists began registering increased activity at Tungurahua on 27 February and noted the tremors and eruptions intensified in ensuing days. The Secretariat of Risk Management issued an orange alert at that point.
The volcano was shrouded in clouds for most of the week, but volcanologists said the ash column above the volcano at one point reached some 4,000m high. Experts said ground vibrations could also be felt during the eruptions, but they did not have exact measurements for the height of the ash columns. The Geophysical Institute believes ongoing activity and varying degrees of intensity will continue in coming days.
Geophysical Institute volcanologist Marco Almeida said: "The activity of the volcano can be classified as moderate-high at the moment. At the internal level as well as the surface level there is evidence of columns of ash with a moderate-high load and sporadic explosions that have triggered primary pyroclastic flows and others are recurring, secondary, that are related to the collapse of the material at the summit."
Tungurahua is a towering 5,023m high and lies some 135km south of the capital city of Quito. Tungurahua, which means "Throat of Fire" in the local Quechua language, has been classified as active since 1999. Ecuador has 84 volcanoes on the mainland in the Andes and Amazon region and three in the Galapagos Islands. Of the 84, 24 are classified as erupting, active or potentially active.