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Volcano in Ecuador showing signs of 'potential collapse,' researchers say

The collapse of the Tungurahua volcano could cause a massive landslide.

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An eruption of the Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador.

Getty/Sebastián Crespo Photography

A large volcano in Ecuador is showing early warning signs of a potential collapse, according to new research. 

The Tungurahua volcano -- also known as "The Black Giant" -- is showing signs of instability, which could lead to a massive landslide and major damage to the local area, the research published in the journal Earth & Planetary Science Letters found. Volcanic activity has led to Tungurahua's deformation and it must be monitored for more signs of collapse, the researchers noted. 

"Using satellite data we have observed very rapid deformation of Tungurahua's west flank, which our research suggests is caused by imbalances between magma being supplied and magma being erupted," James Hickey, lead researcher and lecturer in geophysics University of Exeter, told Phys.org.

Tungurahua volcano has been active frequently since 1999. About 3,000 years ago, an eruption caused a partial collapse of the same side of the volcanic cone that is beginning to collapse again now. Since then, the volcano has steadily been rebuilt over time. 

While there is a risk of collapse, it is possible that the volcano remains stable, the researchers said. 

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