Ecuador's restive Cotopaxi volcano has been spewing plumes of ash and gas far above its crater and volcanologists say its activity has been on the upswing.

The country's Geophysics Institute says Cotopaxi shot out a plume more than a mile (2 kilometers) high on Wednesday, and an impressive new emission burst from the volcano on Thursday. And it says incandescent material has been seen in the crater.

The 19,347-foot (5,897-meter) volcano is just about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Ecuador's capital of Quito and a sizable eruption could affect tens of thousands of people. The last large eruption was in 1877.