Ecuador's Cotopaxi volcano awakens for first time in 75 years

Today the volcano Cotopaxi began erupting, spewing ash across the landscape in Ecuador. In the early morning hours of Friday, August 15th, sounds of explosions from the summit were heard by climbers who then reported to local news outlets. While no major blasts have yet been seen, ash has begun to spew from the volcanic mountain. Ash now covers the nearby area. Patricio Ramon of Ecuador's geophysics institute spoke today with Teleamazonas TV, suggesting that "the situation merits the population staying informed about what's happening with the volcano."

While Ecuador's geophysics institute suggests that it does not appear (at this point) that the volcano is "on the verge of a major eruption" (translated), nearby parks (including Cotopaxi National Park) have been closed for the immediate future.

Hero photo above via: Daniel Salazar

NOTE: If you live near Cotopaxi and need help or information on what to do in the event of an eruption, visit the Red Cross Ecuador.

A 2-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) cloud of ash spewed forth from the 5,987-meter (19,600-foot) volcano early today in at least two separate blasts. One blast occurred at 4:02 AM while the other occurred not long after, at 4:07AM (local time.)

Photos above and below by Agencia de Noticias ANDES

According to the New York Times, this volcano "began showing renewed activity" in April while its last "major eruption" was all the way back in 1877.

The Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School is one of several groups in the area continuously monitoring the activity of the volcano. They suggest that local climbers leave the mountain immediately, as "the possible occurrence of explosions which throw blocks or very energetic emissions of seam and volcanic gasses which can be harmful to health."

If Cotopaxi does erupt, it could be dangerous for local citizens. As the mountain is covered with snow and ice, lava flow would tend toward quicker movement (than a non-icy volcano) and therefore a shorter period for escape for citizens in nearby villages.

Stay tuned as we continue to follow the progression of this volcano over the next few days. And again, if you live in the area, PLEASE take all precautions and contact you local Red Cross if you find yourself in any danger.