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Ancient 16,000ft 'Throat of Fire' volcano in Ecuador could COLLAPSE creating deadly lava avalanche
ONE of South America's most active volcanoes may be at risk of a partial collapse, according to scientists.
Nicknamed the "Throat of Fire", Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador has become unstable, likely due to damage caused by the churning magma within.
If it were to fall apart, the ancient mountain would could create massive landslides and avalanches of rock that travel for up to tens of miles.
A single Tungurahua eruption 21 years ago led to the evacuation of 25,000 people in nearby areas.
Tungurahua has been persistently active since 1999 and regularly spews plumes of lava and ash into the sky.
Its name means "Throat of Fire" in the indigenous tongue of the Quechua peoples. Others call it the Black Giant.
In a study published in the journal Earth & Planetary Science Letters, scientists warn that the volcano's western edge is in danger of collapse.
They blame violent geological processes within the lava-belching beast for its wavering stability.
"Using satellite data we have observed very rapid deformation of Tungurahua's west flank," said University of Exeter scientist Dr James Hickey.
"Our research suggests this is caused by imbalances between magma being supplied and magma being erupted."
Tungurahua, located around 85 miles south of Ecuador's capital in the Andes mountains, has partially collapsed twice before.
One triggered by an eruption 3,000 years ago caused the western flank to crumble.