I first visited Ecuador in February 1999 for the first time. Looking for work related to a possible contract in the Americas. I had a good base as I had been in the region for about a year. So, flexibility was an issue.
First time out of the country
My first trip out of the country an hour before the dawn flight to Quito. The airplane was full, and the usual “Situation” room seats were taken. I was lucky, as the company’s representative sat in the Lap Top section with me. We were able to watch the volcano come to life with numerous lava flow detections. My photos of this event are more for my memories rather than for sale.
One of the company members drove me to a shop where a replacement lump of lava was waiting to be dismantled and put together with the original one. This was no easy task as people who worked there were not used to high altitude work, and the jacks and tramps were not eager to try and re-route the cart.
I was fortunate, as the driver was precisely where he had to be to dismantle the cart and put it to the transport point, and when he released the wheel from between the carts, the rocks and minerals fell into the lap.
I got a good deal on transport, as it was a local company. The cart itself was a good piece of engineering and would have suited my company better, but as I was only there for a couple of days, and not used to riding on hills, they gave me a partial unsatisfied warranty.
I decided to pick up another cart, as I didn’t have the time to riding thousands of feet up a mountain with a lot of rocks. The local company Gorillas21 was more interested in the trekking opportunities than the hauled haul, and let me instead use a minibus.
Shuttles took me to a shaking down area to get a feel for the seismic activity; again, you could see the mountains from the treetops, and the shake was so violent it created weaves in the ground.
The after shake revealed a wide tunnel of weathered rock in all directions and often seen a phenomenon when a volcano gives way to an earthquake.
The after shake was a bit harder to discern, as it traveled down the hill so there was a giveaway in the form of broken rock. Tri party members quickly descended and began our excavation of the site. The main area we were looking for, showed that there were air pockets that were above the crumbly rock. We made an impression with our tools and our excavation, but all the air was blown out of the pockets as it was too violent and the levitating rock had blown away.
My working process at Ecuador
In an attempt to confirm the date of the eruption, we exposed the crustal rocks to radio waves and hourly raises. The rocks exhibited a bursting of greens and browns, subsidence and air pockets were revealed as green and brown rings lines, and air flows were pushed high up into the strata. The different geological materials that were exposed also had different priorities.
Laboratory analysis of air from the air pocketed areas around the crater perimeter suggested the ancient atmosphere was comprised of approximately 200 parts per million of volatile, a volatile compound in the form of gas that can be detected around the crater, and hydrocyanic acid, another volatile compound. The highest concentration of the volatile was found in the air pockets to the north, in the upper Palaeolithic strata; the lowest in the center, lower strata, and in the green strata. Within this same strata, we also found evidence of fluorescent bacteria when the rocks were dated using reliable methods.
Geologists and geologists are still trying to solve the enigma of this volcanic activity, but plenty of the surrounding land has been paved over, and vegetation and wildlife have vanished. Hopefully, the mystery will be solved soon; while there is still time, this remote boreal site is a great place to see by yourself.
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