Forecast based early action triggered in Ecuador: Volcanic Ash Dispersion - Sangay volcano EAP2019EC001

Situation Report
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1,000 families to be assisted
246,586.27 budget in Swiss francs (200,571.46 Swiss francs available)

Locations: Rural communities in the cantons of Alausí, Guamote, Pallatanga and Cumanda. The communities will be defined based on the analysis of information issued in the National Society's situation reports.

General overview

The Ecuadorian Red Cross (ERC) has activated its Early Action Protocol for Volcanic Ashfall.

Since June 2020, the eruptive process of Sangay volcano has registered high to very high levels of activity. According to the report issued by the Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic (IGEPN), in the early morning of 20 September 2020, the volcano registered a significant increase in the volcano’s internal and external activity. From 04h20 (GMT-5), the records indicate the occurrence of explosions and ash emissions that are more energetic and stronger than those registered in previous months. From 04h00, according to the IGEPN satellite image, a large ash cloud has risen to a height of more than 6 to 10 km above the volcano's crater. The highest part of the cloud is registered to the eastern sector while the lowest part is located west of the volcano.

According to tracking and monitoring, ash dispersion models indicate the high probability of ash fall in the provinces of Chimborazo, Bolívar, Guayas, Manabí, Los Ríos and Santa Elena. The most affected provinces are Chimborazo and Bolívar, where it is estimated that the accumulation of ash is recorded at thresholds of >3 millimetres and >1 millimetre, a sufficient level that generates effects on agriculture and livestock.

Based on the information and monitoring conducted by the IGEPN, the special report issued at 09h00 on 20 September 2020, and by the Ecuadorian Red Cross, it is estimated that the most likely eruptive scenario is an eruption with a volcanic explosivity index IEV=3 (moderate eruption) corresponding to a SPECIAL REPORT C (Eruptive event with possible effect on the community, in which there is greater clarity on the most likely scenario in real time (height of the ash column, direction, etc.).

In the event of the scenario, the volcanic phenomena expected are pyroclastic falls (blocks and bombs near the volcano, lapilli and ash far from the volcano), pyroclastic flows (burning clouds of pyroclasts descending the flanks of the volcano at high speed), and primary lahars (mixture of pyroclasts and glacier meltwater).

The date and size of volcanic eruptions cannot be predicted. Thus, the present scenario may differ from what could occur.

The Ecuadorian Red Cross, in coordination with the IGEPN and National Service for Emergency and Risk Management (SNGRE), are conduction actions such as:

  • Tracking and monitoring of volcanic activity.
  • Information gathering in the affected sectors
  • Evaluating possible damage and affectation
  • Disseminating key messages on self-protection measures against ash fall.