BBC News – Tungurahua volcano prompts evacuation in Ecuador

Tungurahua Ecuador, Parque Nacional Sangay, 2008

via BBC News – Tungurahua volcano prompts evacuation in Ecuador.

Scientists with the Ecuadorean Institute for Geophysics say the number of explosions has increased. They say the ash cloud has reached 2km (1.2 miles) in height.

People living on the slopes reported the ground and buildings shaking, and a rumbling sound coming from the volcano.

Hot gases and rocks started flowing down the western side of the mountain at mid-morning and ash has been raining down on the villages of Pondoa and Patate

This is one of almost 30 volcanoes in Ecuador, many of which are extinct.  The current eruption period of Tungurahua began in 1999, after  almost 85 years of inactivity.  Thousands of people were evacuated in 1999, and it looks like that will be the case again.

Why do people live so close to volcanoes?  What benefit outweighs the risks?  Fertile soil, in most cases.  The volcanoes bring up minerals from the crust, and the slopes  and surrounding areas provide ideal farmland.  Except occasionally there’s an explosion, and if you’re lucky, you get out of the way.

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