World’s ‘most deadly’ unknown volcano that could erupt at any moment | World | News

December 2, 2023
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There are more than 200 volcanoes in South America, situated mostly in the Andes.

While they offer beautiful landscape views with their snow-capped peaks, many are active and lethal.

There is one volcano that effectively trumps the rest, a mountain so high that it veers out of view from the bottom.

Cotopaxi, in Ecuador, has struck the fear of god into many volcanologists studying it and the surrounding region.

This is because Cotopaxi is wildly active and poses perhaps the biggest threat to the greatest number of people, hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorians who wait patiently around its base hoping that it doesn’t, as the scientists say it will, completely explode anytime soon.

One of the tallest volcanoes in the world, Cotopaxi stands at a whopping 19,393 feet.

It sits amid the Cordillera Central mountain region in central Ecuador and is one of the country’s most active volcanoes.

Some 50 eruptions have occurred at it since the 16th century, the most recent of which came in 2022.

Last year, gas and vapour reached heights of 1.1 miles above its crater and threatened to blow entirely.

Ash from the volcano eventually fell on lands south of the capital, Quito, and blanketed the nearby valleys in a layer of black.

With this activity comes violent shifts underground, and in the four months leading up to March 2023, Cotopaxi produced no fewer than 8,000 earthquakes.

Scientists have time and again warned that hundreds of thousands of people could well be at risk from an eruption at Cotopaxi.

It is extremely close to Quito, just 30 miles away, a city of more than two million people.

Former Risk Management Minister Maria del Pilar Cornejo has previously said that 325,000 people live in areas that could lie in the path of mud and rock flows from Cotopaxi.

In the last 20 years, thousands of people have been evacuated from the surrounding regions including southern parts of the capital due to fast-flowing ash clouds and spills.

Poor infrastructure and overcrowding in some areas would exacerbate the fallout in the event of an eruption.

The most recent data tell us that moderate eruptive activity continued at Cotopaxi from late June through to early July, though no proper eruption occurred. 

Soaring temperatures also led to snow and ice melt from its peak, which in turn triggered small lahars —  a violent type of mudflow or debris flow — to descend the Agualongo drainage area.

For now, Cotopaxi hasn’t shown any signs of violently erupting, though given its unpredictable nature that could soon change.



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