Report on Chaiten (Chile) — 22 April-28 April 2009
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 22 April-28 April 2009
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2009. Report on Chaiten (Chile). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 22 April-28 April 2009. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
42.833°S, 72.646°W; summit elev. 1122 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
SERNAGEOMIN reported that gas-and-ash plumes rose 1.5 km from Chaitén's Domo Nuevo 1 and Domo Nuevo 2 lava-dome complex during 15-21 April. Seismicity remained elevated; the largest earthquakes recorded were M 4.5. The Alert Level remained at Red. Based on web camera views, analysis of satellite imagery, and pilot observations, the Buenos Aires VAAC reported that on 25 and 28 April, ash plumes rose to altitudes of 2.1-3 km (7,000-10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE and N. According to a news article, one of about 70 people who had refused to evacuate Chaitén town (and stayed without basic services) died from hypothermia.
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.