Showing posts from August, 2015

Keeping an eye on Cotopaxi Volcano

- Janine

Cotopaxi volcano is Ecuador's most intensively monitored volcano. With an active past, glacier-covered summit, and surrounding population it is watched very closely by the local team of volcanologists at IGEPN.

Cotopaxi started quietly rumbling to life again in April with an increase in seismic activity. A Seismic swarm on 14th of August preceded phreatic (water) explosions on the 15th, and now Cotopaxi is on Yellow Alert in a phase of near-continuous ash emission (for more details see the Smithsonian Reports).

The above video was posted on August 18th and shows white steam/gas plume emission and ash fall on the snowy flanks.

The above video shows ash emission on the 21st of August with the ash plume that did not exceed 2 km on this day. Ashfall affected the south to west, west, and northwest of the volcano.

The above video taken on August 22nd shows more buoyant ash emission drifting to the West of the volcano.

IGPEN lists the following hazards around Cotopaxi volcano:

In the footsteps of Apollo astronauts, literally!


Volcanoes inside and out. Or how your intro text book lied to you.


It can be very exciting to watch an erupting volcano or look at super fresh deposits. You get to see rock that was inside the earth days to moments before. The inaccessible becomes accessible, and in a dramatic way.
While I love watching active processes and fresh rock, I also love looking at rocks that have been sitting on earth's surface for millions of years waiting to share their story. The exhumed insides of volcanoes provide a great opportunity to see a more complete history of how a volcano grew. One of the cornerstones of volcanology is understanding what volcanoes have done in the past, that way we can better understand what might happen in the future. While a regularly erupting volcano like Stromboli or Etna gives us an idea of the most frequent processes, we need to look at older volcanoes to get an idea of the range of eruption types and sizes and to understand their long term growth.  Earlier this summer I took a field trip to Colorado and Arizona to look …