Despite optimism early in May, 2014 that the restless Ubinas volcano might be entering into a quieter phase of its eruptive cycle, by mid-May seismic activity was on the rise, along with strengthening ejections of ash and gas plumes. According to Volcano Discovery, on May 12 frequent hybrid earthquakes were occurring in the vicinity, which could indicate rising magma. By May 18, ash emissions had become almost continuous. One plume extended over 100 km (62 mi) to the northeast.
On May 17 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over Peru and captured a true-color image of the country’s most-active volcano belching a thick plume of gray ash. The plume billows upward, and then sinuously curves to the north, then east. It is so dense that it obscures the Earth underneath from view, and it also casts a heavy shadow beneath it. The brown-and-tan landscape has been covered by gray ash around the volcano, particularly in the east and southeast.
The district of Santa Lucia, a small town 80 km (50 mi) northeast of the volcano, has reported ash fall in the town. In addition, villages surrounding the volcano report increased eye and respiratory problems. Earlier in the year evacuations were instituted to protect people and their livestock from the ash and also from any potential explosive eruption. However, deaths of Alpaca have been reported – up to 20% of the livestock in nearby farms have died due to ash, according to one estimate.