***ALERT***Peru Volcano Prompts Evacuations

Volcano Alert

A volcano in southwestern Peru called Ubinas began ejecting pyroclastic material into the sky in 2006, after over four decades of lying dormant. Recent volcanic activity has prompted officials to evacuate 60 residents of Querapi, a village near its base. The last state of emergency due to Ubinas activity occurred on April 23, 2006.

Ubinas town mayor Pascual Coaquira said the villagers were relocated Saturday, and that residents of the town of Ubinas have been distributed masks and goggles, as the building ash content in the air has made it difficult for some to breathe.

Portions of Peru lie in the Andean Volcanic Belt, which is comprised of four main volcanic zones. The stratovolcano Ubinas lies in the Central Volcanic Zone (CVZ) of the belt, a series of volcanoes formed due to subduction of the Nazca Plate under western South America along the Peru-Chile Trench.

Peru Volcano Prompts Evacuations

Ubinas is situated in southwestern Peru, and its upper slopes are primarily made up of of Pleistocene andesitic lava flows, and steepen to nearly 45 degrees. The steep walls allowed for the debris-avalanche from the collapse of the southeast flank of volcano to extend 6.2 miles. In the larger Moquegua region, including Arequipa and Tacna, there are roughly 40 volcanoes, most of which are inactive.

Coaquira added, “We are readying a shelter for refugees from the blasts. The volcano has been emitting a lot of ash all day, the people in the town (of Ubinas) are having some problems breathing.”

Ingemmet, Peru’s geological and mining agency, stated that lava had been building up in recent weeks, and warned locals they should prepare for the possibility of more evacuations. Fortunately, the type of lava from the stratovolcano is viscous and moves very slowly, while cooling and hardening quickly.

The Ubinas volcano is located in the Moquegua region, roughly 43 miles from the city of Arequipa.

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