New documentary evidence of the Tungurahua eruption on April 23, 1773, Ecuador
Three documents describing the Tungurahua eruption of April 23, 1773, have been retrieved. The first one is a report of the eruption that has been translated, while the other two are pictographic documents of high quality. Their analysis provides previously unknown information about this eruption. The volcano was not completely inactive since 1645. The eruption started between 4 and 5 p.m. of April 23 in 1773. The maximum activity occurred during the morning of the 24th and the activity continued for more than a month. The Pastaza River was dammed by rocks and sand during 24 h, being over-flooded for almost 5.6 km. At least two lava flows reached lowlands and run into the Pastaza and Chambo Rivers, respectively. The volcanic ash caused important losses in crops and cattle in an area of more than of 3600 km2 located in the western slope of the volcano. Moreover, our primary sources provide evidences that Cerro Hermoso had an important glacier at that time and that the glacier terminus of the Tungurahua was approximately 148 m below the terminus in the early 1980s. This work is an example that an exhaustive analysis of primary documentary sources allows a better characterization of natural hazards that occurred in historical periods.
KeywordsTungurahua Documentary sources Volcanic eruption Ecuador
The authors want to thank Ester González for her assistance in the Archivo General de Indias. This work was supported by the research projects IMDROFLOOD financed by the Water Works 2014 co-funded call of the European Commission and INDECIS, which is part of ERA4CS, an ERA-NET initiated by JPI Climate by the European Union (Grant 690462). Marina Peña-Gallardo was granted by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO), and Ahmed El Kenawy was supported by a postdoctoral Juan de la Cierva contract by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO).
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