Scientists discover ‘throat of fire’ volcano just years away from collapse

Scientists have warned that a volcano based in the Andes in Ecuador is showing signs of catastrophic collapse as magma causes devastation within the structure

The research, gathered from satellite data, shows the devastating internal damage to the volcano from ongoing magma activity.

According to scientists the volcano Tungurahua has collapsed twice before – the first the end of the Late Pleistocene era, a time estimated to be between 126,000 and 11,700 years ago and the more recent time of 3,000 ago.

The last time the volcano caved in it triggered massive landslides and a massive gas cloud.

It is estimated that the collapse covered the surrounding area of 80sq km or 11,000 football fields.

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James Hickey, a geophysical volcanologist who conducted the research, said: “Using satellite data we have observed very rapid deformation of Tungurahua's west flank, which our research suggests is caused by imbalances between magma being supplied and magma being erupted.”

In the last 1,300 years Tungurahua has entered a phase of activity every 80 to 100 years.

The major active phases have been 1773, 1886 and 1916-1918.

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After a long period of inactivity, Tungurahua began erupting in October 1999 and has since had a number of destructive eruptions.

In 1999, more than 25,000 citizens had to evacuate the area after heavy ashfall.

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Because of the volcano's giant presence in the landscape the local people gave the dangerous volcano many nicknames.

The indigenous people of the region in the Andes, the Quechua, that gave the volcano the nicknames, "throat of fire" or "black giant."

On August 16 2006, the volcano had its most violent eruption to date.

This eruption was accompanied by a 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) high ash plume.

Several pyroclastic flows were generated that killed at least five people, and destroyed a number of hamlets and roads on the eastern and northwestern slopes of the volcano.

The last eruption on February 1, 2014.

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