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Tupungatito

Photo of this volcano
  • Chile-Argentina
  • South America
  • Stratovolcano
  • 1987 CE
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 33.425°S
  • 69.797°W

  • 5660 m
    18570 ft

  • 357010
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Bulletin Report: October 1988 (BGVN 13:10) Citation IconCite this Report

Volcano-seismic trigger for 1987 debris flow disputed

The following is from Alfredo Eisenberg and M. Pardo. "González-Ferrán (13:6) attributed the 29 November 1987 debris flow to an increase in local shallow volcano-seismic activity that he said can be observed on our seismograms of 28, 29, and 30 November. The seismic network in central Chile did not record any activity of this kind during those days, nor the previous ones. It is also important to note that only one station is located within 40 km of Tupungatito volcano's main crater (figure 3 and table 1). Stations on the Argentine side of the Andes did not register any volcano-seismic activity either. We did record the debris fall, however, at 1033 on 29 November, with an equivalent local magnitude of 4.5. This event, as far as we can see from the records, was not preceded by a triggering earthquake."

see figure caption Figure 3. Seismicity in central Chile, 27-30 November 1987. Circles mark epicenters of located earthquakes (table 1), squares the position of seismological stations. The source of the debris flow is marked by a circled cross, and Tupungatito volcano by a star.

Table 1. Seismicity recorded in central Chile, 27-30 November 1987, by Univ of Chile seismograph stations. Magnitude mt corresponds to an estimation of mb from the total duration of the PEL station record.

Date Time Latitude Longitude Depth (km) Magnitude (mt)
27 Nov 1987 1038 33°31'S 72°14'W 50 4.3
27 Nov 1987 1130 33°07'S 71°39'W 18 4.1
28 Nov 1987 0916 33°44'S 72°32'W 10 4.1
28 Nov 1987 2153 33°18'S 70°30'W 75 3.7
29 Nov 1987 0214 34°12'S 70°14'W 00 3.7
29 Nov 1987 0332 33°53'S 72°02'W 20 4.5
29 Nov 1987 0807 33°06'S 71°53'W 27 4.4
30 Nov 1987 0010 32°43'S 71°24'W 5 4.0
30 Nov 1987 0637 33°18'S 71°34'W 23 4.2
30 Nov 1987 1055 34°53'S 70°46'W 109 4.3
30 Nov 1987 1325 32°00'S 71°30'W 28 4.1
30 Nov 1987 1510 32°12'S 71°42'W 28 4.1

Information Contacts: A. Eisenberg and M. Pardo, Univ of Chile.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Tupungatito.

Bulletin Reports - Index

Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

02/1980 (SEAN 05:01) Ash eruption and seismicity

12/1987 (SEAN 12:12) Increased summit thermal activity, small ash eruption in January 1986; 50-km-long lahar kills 41 people

04/1988 (BGVN 13:04) Fatal 29 November debris flow not related to volcanism

06/1988 (BGVN 13:06) Volcanic seismicity may have triggered November debris flow

10/1988 (BGVN 13:10) Volcano-seismic trigger for 1987 debris flow disputed




Information is preliminary and subject to change. All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


February 1980 (SEAN 05:01) Citation IconCite this Report

Ash eruption and seismicity

A series of subterranean noises at 0623 on 10 January was followed by an explosion that ejected a 1,500-m-high cloud of gas and ash from Tupungatito's SW crater. The next day, Oscar González-Ferrán and Sergio Barrientos flew over the volcano, observing that ash covered the snow NE of the vent and that the eruption was continuing, but with decreased intensity.

The Seismologic Service of the Geophysics Department, University of Chile, recorded considerable seismic activity near Tupungatito. The principal earthquake, at 1851 on 14 January, was a shallow event with an epicenter calculated at 33.2°S, 69°W, 78 km NE of the volcano. It was felt at intensity 3 in Santiago, about 150 km from the calculated epicenter. In the next 2 hours, 17 similar events were recorded, of which three were located with the same epicenter. Between 2100 on 14 January and 0100 on 16 January, 13 more local events were recorded, one of which was fairly large. As of 18 January, both seismic and eruptive activity had diminished. Tupungatito's last eruption, in 1964, consisted of explosions from the central crater.

Information Contacts: O. González-Ferrán, Univ. de Chile, Santiago.


December 1987 (SEAN 12:12) Citation IconCite this Report

Increased summit thermal activity, small ash eruption in January 1986; 50-km-long lahar kills 41 people

"Reactivation of one of the NW craters with a weak emission of black ash occurred 20 January 1986 at 1030 (figure 1). The activity was observed by the pilot of a Chilean Air Force C-130 and reported directly by radio-telephone to the author. The volcano had been under observation since the last pyroclastic eruption occurred 10 January 1980. After the M 7.8 earthquake that affected the Santiago region on 3 March 1985, vertical aerial photographic coverage was carried out at a scale of 1:20,000 on 25 March 1985. No increased activity was observed within the caldera, which has a diameter of ~5 km and is covered with ice and snow. Glaciers descend from it toward the W. The group of cones and craters with historic activity, in the extreme NW of the caldera, have only a thin covering of snow. Observations on 24 November 1987 show ice partially covered by 20 January 1986 ash, and intense solfataric activity in the same crater (figure 1).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Sketch map by O. González-Ferrán of the summit area of Tupungatito, labeling craters active in recent eruptions and the location of vigorous solfataric activity on 24 November 1987.

"On 4 December, new aerial photographic coverage of the Tupungatito volcanic region was taken by the Air Force Aerophotogrammetric Service at the request of the author and the National Emergency Office.

Analysis of the airphotos revealed a notable increase in snowmelt inside Tupungatito's active craters and an important increase in fumarolic activity without showing a direct relation with the 29 November lahar.

"The volcano remains under observation. If it produced an eruptive reactivation of some magnitude it could: affect the glacier covering the caldera; cause lahars larger than the one that occurred 29 November; and seriously damage the S sector of Santiago, Chile and Mendoza, Argentina."

Event in the Estero del Parraguirre. "On 29 November 1987, because of a regional (summer) thaw and the instability of mountains affected by the 1985 earthquake, an avalanche was generated in a small valley (Quebrada de Parraguirre) in the volcanic area. The avalanche caused a mudflow that descended the Río Colorado, killing 41 persons, destroying roads, machinery, and the Los Maitenes hydroelectric plant along some 50 km until its confluence with the Río Maipó, which passes through the city of Santiago. Also affected were the city's drinking water installations, and some 500,000 persons were left without water for 48 hours."

Information Contacts: O. González-Ferrán, Univ de Chile.


April 1988 (BGVN 13:04) Citation IconCite this Report

Fatal 29 November debris flow not related to volcanism

The event started as a rockfall of ~3-4 x 106 m3 of lower Cretaceous sedimentary rocks and gypsum on the eastern slope of the Estero (stream) del Parraguirre, 20 km NW of Tupungatito and separated from it by at least four high ridges of Mesozoic rocks (figure 1). The rockfall mass developed into a mudflow after reaching the bottom of the stream valley and moved into the Río Colorado, causing casualties and destroying roads, bridges, camps, and the Los Maitenes hydroelectric power plant. Geologists noted that the rockfall appeared to have been triggered by a combination of geologic and hydrologic factors: steep walls, highly fractured rocks, water influx, and the presence of gypsum and other salts.

see figure caption Figure 1. Sketch map by Hugo Moreno R., Arturo Hauser Y., and Lucio Velasco V., based on ERTS satellite data. The source of the rockfall in the headwaters of the Estero del Parraguirre is indicated by an arrow and its path down that stream and the Río Colorado is shown by a bold line. Positions of ridges between the source of the rockfall and Tupungatito Volcano are marked by heavy dash-dot lines; their approximate elevations are designated.

Information Contacts: L.Velasco Villegas, Compañía Chilena de Generación Eléctrica, Santiago; A. Yung, SERNAGEOMIN, Santiago; H. Moreno, Univ de Chile.


June 1988 (BGVN 13:06) Citation IconCite this Report

Volcanic seismicity may have triggered November debris flow

O. González-Ferrán presented additional information about the cause and dynamics of the 29 November 1987 debris flow.

"Tupungatito volcano has been increasing its thermal activity since January 1986 and on 28, 29, and 30 November 1987 registered an increase in local shallow seismic activity. Seismographs of the Chilean and Argentine nets registered some B-type shocks. The seismicity caused 15 rockfalls of different magnitudes within 5-20 km of the historically active craters . . . (N and NW of the ice-filled summit caldera) during that period (figure 2).

see figure caption Figure 2. Sketch map illustrating the 15 rockfalls documented near Tupungatito in late November (heavy arrows), and tabulating the casualties and damage caused by the 29 November debris flow. Courtesy of O. González-Ferrán.

"One of the shocks occurred at 103340 on the 29th, causing one of the rockfalls, which reached a volume of 17.25 x 106 m3 in the headwaters of the Estero Parraguirre, 17 km from the active crater and the epicentral zone of the seismic activity.

"A mass of sedimentary rocks from the headwaters of the Estero Parraguirre free-fell 1100 m onto the terminal front of a glacier, impacting it with a velocity of ~300 km/hour. Incorporated in the impact was 1.2 x 106 m3 of ice, as well as 11 x 106 m3 of snow along the Estero.

"This generated the avalanche debris flow that discharged into the Río Colorado, temporarily obstructing the flow of the Colorado's waters. Finally, the debris flow reached the Central Hidroeléctrica de Maitenes at 1114 with a velocity of 50-60 km/hour, causing the death of 41 persons and millions of dollars in losses to buildings and machinery along its path. In addition, by damaging the Las Vizcachas plant, it affected the supply of drinking water to nine communes of the city of Santiago (population 4.5 million) for 24 hours.

"The high instability and strong fracturing of the nearly vertical strata of Mesozoic sedimentary rocks in this mountainous region of the Tupungatito area, along with the supersaturation and water pressure generated by snowmelt and the abnormal seasonal temperature increase, facilitated rockfalls and avalanches as a consequence of the local volcano-seismic activity of Tupungatito."

Information Contacts: O. Gonzalez-Ferrán, Univ de Chile; J. Castrano, Instituto Nacional de Prevención Sísmica, San Juan, Argentina; S. Kunstmann, Empresa Nacional de Electricidad, Santiago; G. Ugarte, Pontificia Univ Católica de Chile, Santiago.


October 1988 (BGVN 13:10) Citation IconCite this Report

Volcano-seismic trigger for 1987 debris flow disputed

The following is from Alfredo Eisenberg and M. Pardo. "González-Ferrán (13:6) attributed the 29 November 1987 debris flow to an increase in local shallow volcano-seismic activity that he said can be observed on our seismograms of 28, 29, and 30 November. The seismic network in central Chile did not record any activity of this kind during those days, nor the previous ones. It is also important to note that only one station is located within 40 km of Tupungatito volcano's main crater (figure 3 and table 1). Stations on the Argentine side of the Andes did not register any volcano-seismic activity either. We did record the debris fall, however, at 1033 on 29 November, with an equivalent local magnitude of 4.5. This event, as far as we can see from the records, was not preceded by a triggering earthquake."

see figure caption Figure 3. Seismicity in central Chile, 27-30 November 1987. Circles mark epicenters of located earthquakes (table 1), squares the position of seismological stations. The source of the debris flow is marked by a circled cross, and Tupungatito volcano by a star.

Table 1. Seismicity recorded in central Chile, 27-30 November 1987, by Univ of Chile seismograph stations. Magnitude mt corresponds to an estimation of mb from the total duration of the PEL station record.

Date Time Latitude Longitude Depth (km) Magnitude (mt)
27 Nov 1987 1038 33°31'S 72°14'W 50 4.3
27 Nov 1987 1130 33°07'S 71°39'W 18 4.1
28 Nov 1987 0916 33°44'S 72°32'W 10 4.1
28 Nov 1987 2153 33°18'S 70°30'W 75 3.7
29 Nov 1987 0214 34°12'S 70°14'W 00 3.7
29 Nov 1987 0332 33°53'S 72°02'W 20 4.5
29 Nov 1987 0807 33°06'S 71°53'W 27 4.4
30 Nov 1987 0010 32°43'S 71°24'W 5 4.0
30 Nov 1987 0637 33°18'S 71°34'W 23 4.2
30 Nov 1987 1055 34°53'S 70°46'W 109 4.3
30 Nov 1987 1325 32°00'S 71°30'W 28 4.1
30 Nov 1987 1510 32°12'S 71°42'W 28 4.1

Information Contacts: A. Eisenberg and M. Pardo, Univ of Chile.

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.

Eruptive History

There is data available for 20 Holocene eruptive periods.

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1987 Nov 28 1987 Nov 30 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1986 Jan 20 1986 Jan 20 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations NW craters
1980 Jan 10 1980 Jan 11 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations SW crater
1968 Jul 2 ± 182 days Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1964 Aug 3 1964 Sep 19 (in or after) Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1961 May 5 ± 4 days 1961 Aug 16 (in or after) ± 15 days Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1960 Jul 15 ± 5 days Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1959 Oct 16 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1959 Mar 26 ± 5 days Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1958 Jan 16 ± 15 days Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1946 1947 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1925 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1907 Feb 15 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1901 Apr Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1897 Jan 1897 Apr 12 (in or after) Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1889 1890 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
[ 1881 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
1861 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
[ 1835 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2  
1829 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
Deformation History

There is no Deformation History data available for Tupungatito.

Emission History

There is no Emissions History data available for Tupungatito.

Photo Gallery

Steam plumes rise from abundant solfataras lining the shores of the acid crater lake where the eruptive activity took place at Tupungatito during the 1960s.

Photo by Alejo Contreras (courtesy of Oscar González-Ferrán, University of Chile).
See title for photo information.
Tupungatito volcano, the northernmost historically active volcano of the central Chilean Andes, is the broad, glacier-clad massif at the right center. The glacial icecap fills the southern side of the Pleistocene Nevado Sin Nombre caldera, which is breached to the NW, in the direction of this photo. A dozen Holocene craters are found at Tupungatito, which has produced frequent mild explosive eruptions during the 19th and 20th centuries. Tupungatito is located immediately SW of Pleistocene Tupungato volcano, the large conical peak at the left.

Photo by Sergio Kunstmann-Z, courtesy of Oscar González-Ferrán (University of Chile).
See title for photo information.
Strong fumarolic activity occurs in the crater where the phreatomagmatic eruptions of the past two decades took place. A dozen Holocene post-caldera craters and cones are located at the NW end of the 4-km-wide, Pleistocene Nevado Sin Nombre caldera.

Photo by Alejo Contreras (courtesy of Oscar González-Ferrán, University of Chile).
See title for photo information.
GVP Map Holdings

The maps shown below have been scanned from the GVP map archives and include the volcano on this page. Clicking on the small images will load the full 300 dpi map. Very small-scale maps (such as world maps) are not included. The maps database originated over 30 years ago, but was only recently updated and connected to our main database. We welcome users to tell us if they see incorrect information or other problems with the maps; please use the Contact GVP link at the bottom of the page to send us email.


Title: Portillo
Publisher: Instituto Geografico Militar- Chile
Country: Chile
Year: 1985
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:250,000
Map of Portillo

Title: San Jose de Maipo
Publisher: Instituto Geografico Militar- Chile
Country: Chile
Year: 1985
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:250,000
Map of San Jose de Maipo

Title: Argentina, Chile
Publisher: DMA Aerospace Center
Country: S America
Year: 1978
Series: ONC
Map Type: Navigation
Scale: 1:1,000,000
Map of Argentina, Chile
Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

There are no samples for Tupungatito in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences Rock and Ore collection.

External Sites