Saturday, September 11, 2004

It is a beautiful day here in Baños and I wish you were all here to enjoy it.

Today I walked a new trail to get a closer look at Tungurahua. The volcano has been quiet for several weeks now. Before, when you were within four or five kilometers form the crater, you could hear strange roaring sounds, not unlike a huge furnace gasping for air, or hear and feel the explosions taking place inside the mountain....but today their was nothing. All you could hear was the gentle roar of the Bascun River below and a few birds, possibly discussing the old gringo that was invading their territory.

As I explore these mountains and learn more about volcanoes in general and Tungurahua in particular, I try to figure out just what the chances would be if it suddenly blew. Tungurahua is a steep sided stratovocano with the horseshoe shaped crater opening to the west. Because of this fact Baños would be spared form being inundated with lava and pyoclastic material. (my unprofessional opinion only). The biggest problem would be from lahars, a volcano-hydrologic event, brought about when the snow and ice pack on the north face would melt rapidly, creating a fast-moving sediment-laden flood of water, mixed with up-routed trees and huge boulders, that would reach the Bascun Bridge in four minutes. Since the main part of the city is separated by the Bascun Canyon again, in my opinion the city would be saved. The third worry would be from ash and falling volcanic rocks. To sum it all up, I have concluded that with a few precautions, which includes masks to filters the airborne particles, possibly a hard hat and emergency food and water supplies, I will probably die of natural causes. I am at peace.

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