Scientists warn that the Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador is showing early signs of an impending catastrophic collapse, RT reported.
Tungurahua has been constantly active since 1999, so wear and tear was inevitable, especially considering that the "fiery throat", or "black giant", as the indigenous people of Quechua called it, had already "collapsed" twice thousands of years ago.
Geophysical volcanologist James Hickey of the University of Exeter in the UK said that using satellite data, experts observed a very rapid deformation of the western flank of the Tungurahua, which is caused by an imbalance between the arrival of magma and its eruption.
The Tungurahua previously collapsed at the end of the Late Pleistocene, after which it then recovered for thousands of years and then collapsed again about 3000 years ago.
Such collapses can provoke massive landslides and pyroclastic flows that can spread for tens of kilometers. For example, it is believed that a collapse 3,000 years ago devastated an area of about 80 square kilometers (11 thousand football fields).
An eruption in 1999 led to the evacuation of about 25,000 people, so the impact on people in the area in the event of a second collapse of the volcano will be truly staggering.