BANOS DE AGUA SANTA, Ecuador (CBS/RTV) -- Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano spewed glowing ash and pyroclastic material into the air early Monday (December 17) morning as it showed intensified activity.
Volcanologist, Patricia Mothes, of the Geophysics Institute of the National Polytechnics School, said the intensity registered over night was at the high end of activity registered at this crater which last rumbled to life this past September.
"This is a lot stronger [than the last eruption in September]. We are talking about a different level this season. Last night we had levels that we've very rarely registered," Mothes said.
A warning had already been issued for residents living nearby and Mothes said she hoped the volcano would not pose any more of a threat.
"People in the area need to be alert. Generally the volcano has taken step, after step, after step. It's always been that way. It takes steps increasing its explosive level. We still aren't looking at this. We're hoping it takes steps this time too," added Mothes.
Tungurahua is a towering 16,480 feet high and lies some 80 miles south of the capital city of Quito.
The town of Banos de Agua Santa was covered in a layer of volcanic ash and authorities continue to encourage residents living near the volcano to evacuate due to increased activity, according to local media.
According to reports, the volcano has been spewing pyroclastic flows, burning rocks, gas and ash since Friday.
Tungurahua, which means "Throat of Fire" in the local Quechua language, has been classified as active since 1999, and produced a strong eruption in 2008. It is one of Ecuador's eight active volcanoes.