Volcano Monitoring in Ecuador: Three Decades of Continuous Progress of the Instituto Geofisico - Escuela Politecnica Nacional

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Mario Calixto Ruiz, Hugo A Yepes, Minard L Hall, Patricia A Mothes, Patricio Ramon, Silvana Hidalgo, Daniel Andrade, Silvia Vallejo Vargas, Alexander L. Steele, Juan Camilo Anzieta, Hugo David Ortiz, Pablo Palacios, Alexandra Alvarado, Wilson Enriquez, Freddy Vasconez, Mayra Vaca, Santiago Arrais, Guillermo Viracucha and Benjamin Bernard, Instituto Geofisico EPN - Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador
In 1988, the Instituto Geofisico (IG) began a permanent surveillance of Ecuadorian volcanoes, and due to activity on Guagua Pichincha, SP seismic stations and EDM control lines were then installed. Later, with the UNDRO and OAS projects, telemetered seismic monitoring was expanded to Tungurahua, Cotopaxi, Cuicocha, Chimborazo, Antisana, Cayambe, Cerro Negro, and Quilotoa volcanoes.

In 1992 an agreement with the Instituto Ecuatoriano de Electrificacion strengthened the monitoring of Tungurahua and Cotopaxi volcanoes with real-time SP seismic networks and EDM lines. Thus, background activity levels became established, which was helpful because of the onset  of the 1999 eruptive activity at Tungurahua and Guagua Pichincha. These eruptions had a notable impact on Baños and Quito. Unrest at Cotopaxi volcano was detected in 2001-2002, but waned. In 2002 Reventador began its eruptive period which continues to the present and is closely monitored by the IG.  

In 2006 permanent seismic BB stations and infrasound sensors were installed at Tungurahua and Cotopaxi under a cooperative program supported by JICA, which allowed us to follow Tungurahua’s climatic eruptions of 2006 and subsequent eruptions up to the present.   

Programs supported by the Ecuadorian Secretaria Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia and the Secretaria Nacional de Planificacion resulted in further expansion of the IG’s monitoring infrastructure. Thermal and video imagery, SO2 emission monitoring, geochemical analyses, continuous GPS and tiltmeters, and micro-barometric surveillance have been incorporated. Sangay, Soche, Ninahuilca, Pululahua, and Fernandina, Cerro Azul, Sierra Negra, and Alcedo in the Galapagos Islands are now monitored in real-time.

During this time, international cooperation with universities (Blaise Pascal & Nice-France, U. North Carolina, New Mexico Tech, Uppsala-Sweden, Nagoya, etc.), and research centers (USGS & UNAVCO-USA, IRD-France, NIED-Japan, SGC-Colombia, VAAC, MIROVA) has introduced the use of new technologies and methods.  An agreement with the Secretaria de Gestion de Riesgos fortifies the communication flow to society, officials, and risk managers.  Today the IG has the challenge of offering real-time information through a web-based net of virtual observatories.