Report on Chaiten (Chile) — 16 July-22 July 2008

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 16 July-22 July 2008
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2008. Report on Chaiten (Chile). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 16 July-22 July 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

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Chaiten

Chile

42.833°S, 72.646°W; summit elev. 1122 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


SERNAGEOMIN reported that after two weeks of inclement weather around Chaitén, clouds cleared on 18 July and ash plumes were observed. During 18-21 July mushroom-shaped ash plumes emitted from the S sector of the new lava dome rose to an altitude of 2.5 km (8,200 ft) a.s.l. Occasionally, explosions would push the plumes to altitudes of 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. The plumes drifted N and NW, affecting several areas on the coast. The Alert Level remained at Red.

Geologic Background. Chaitén is a small, glacier-free caldera with a compound Holocene lava dome located 10 km NE of the town of Chaitén on the Gulf of Corcovado. Early work had identified only a single explosive eruption during the early Holocene prior to the major 2008 eruption, but later work has identified multiple explosive eruptions throughout the Holocene. A rhyolitic obsidian lava dome occupies much of the caldera floor. Obsidian cobbles from this dome found in the Blanco River are the source of prehistorical artifacts from archaeological sites along the Pacific coast as far as 400 km from the volcano to the N and S. The caldera is breached on the SW side by a river that drains to the bay of Chaitén. The first historical eruption, beginning in 2008, produced major rhyolitic explosive activity and growth of a lava dome that filled much of the caldera.

Source: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN)