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Report on Lascar (Chile) — November 1993


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 18, no. 11 (November 1993)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Lascar (Chile) Description of new dome evolution

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1993. Report on Lascar (Chile) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 18:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199311-355100



23.37°S, 67.73°W; summit elev. 5592 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

At 0840 on 17 December 1993 an eruption produced a column that rose ~8,000 m above the crater. At 0920 a small new eruptive column was seen, but by 1000 activity had returned to normal. An earthquake also occurred in the vicinity of the volcano the night before (about 2030 on 16 December). Volcanologists from the Instituto Geonorte (Argentina) were preparing to visit the volcano following the eruption.

A new lava dome grew in the bottom of the active crater following the largest historical eruption of Lascar, on 18-26 April 1993 (18:4). The new dome grew in <40 hours from 24-26 April (18:8). The dome filled the nearly circular base of the crater with an estimated volume of 4.6 x 106 m3 (380 m in diameter, 120 m thick). This volume is almost 4x larger than the previous dome observed in March 1992, which was 180-190 m in diameter, 40 m thick, and had a volume of 1.1 x 106 m3 (17:5). Sketches by O. González-Ferrán based on aerial photos document the differences between the old dome on 20 March 1992 and the new dome on 26 April 1993 (18:8).

The evolution of the new dome is relevant to predictions of future eruptive activity because growth and subsequent collapse of domes in the bottom of the crater preceded eruptions in February 1990 and April 1993 (Gardeweg and others, 1993; Gardeweg and Medina, 1993). As a precaution in case the volcano follows the pattern it has shown since 1985, local authorities were warned in November of the possibility of another eruption within the next several months. At the request of the SERNAGEOMIN, the Chilean Air Force overflew the volcano on 11 June and 5 November 1993.

On 26 April the dome showed a flat, rugged surface, with concentric cooling ridges and low steep walls without a talus apron. The blocky surface had a more rugged outer rim, paler in color, probably due to the deposition of salts (sulfates and iron chlorides) as observed on the surface of the pyroclastic flows a few days after the eruption (Gardeweg and Medina, 1993). The central part of the dome was darker, and apparently hotter. It had a small NNW-trending radial fissure with fumarolic activity at the N end near the outer rim. Nearly concentric ridges radiated from this point, interpreted as the vent site. Fumarolic activity was mainly restricted to the dome margins and concentrated on the SE edge.

Aerial observations by P. Francis on 19 May indicated that the dome had started to collapse, evidenced by slight subsidence on the N side; photographs taken by the Air Force on 11 June support this observation. At that time, the dome had a homogeneously rugged surface with an irregular whitish patina similar to the one observed on the outer rim on 26 April. The N side of the dome had subsided, developing a funnel-shaped depression from which there was strong fumarolic activity. Although the dome had partially caved in, there were no collapse scarps. Fumarolic activity was also observed at the edge of the dome, concentrated on the SE margin. Strong fumarolic activity in the caved-in funnel and weaker activity on the SE margin was observed again on 28 June. By 5 November the funnel-shaped depression had reached an estimated depth of 50-100 m below the surface of the dome. Surface features on the dome were similar to those seen in June. Strong degassing continued within the funnel and weakly on the SE edge.

Systematic observations from Talabre (17 km NNW) indicated that fumarolic activity returned to normal levels after the April eruption, with white to gray columns rising 200-400 m above the crater rim. Higher columns up to 1,200 m were observed in late June and mid-October, but there was no correlation with changes in the color of the plume or any other visible characteristics. The water supply to Talabre, cut off by pyroclastic flows on 20 April, was restored on 6 October. Cistern trucks provided by local authorities had supplied drinkable water until then.

Two portable seismographs were installed around the volcano 8-17 October. Seismicity during this period was much lower than 20-30 April, immediately after the eruption (18:4). In October there were two volcano-tectonic events recorded. The activity was characterized by sporadic long-period events and hybrid events that have been interpreted to be a result of deformation accompanied by the displacement of fluids. These hybrid events may be related to the slow subsidence of the dome observed since 19 May.

References. Gardeweg, M.C., Medina, E., Murillo, M., and Espinoza, A., 1993, La erupción del 19-20 de Abril de 1993: VI Informe sobre el comportamiento del Volcán Lascar (II Región): Informe Inédito, Biblioteca Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería, 20 p.

Gardeweg, M.C., and Medina, E., 1993, 35 días después de la erupción del 19-20 de Abril de 1993: VII Informe sobre el comportamiento del Volcán Lascar (II Región): Informe Inédito, Biblioteca Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería.

Geological Summary. Láscar is the most active volcano of the northern Chilean Andes. The andesitic-to-dacitic stratovolcano contains six overlapping summit craters. Prominent lava flows descend its NW flanks. An older, higher stratovolcano 5 km E, Volcán Aguas Calientes, displays a well-developed summit crater and a probable Holocene lava flow near its summit (de Silva and Francis, 1991). Láscar consists of two major edifices; activity began at the eastern volcano and then shifted to the western cone. The largest eruption took place about 26,500 years ago, and following the eruption of the Tumbres scoria flow about 9000 years ago, activity shifted back to the eastern edifice, where three overlapping craters were formed. Frequent small-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the mid-19th century, along with periodic larger eruptions that produced ashfall hundreds of kilometers away. The largest historical eruption took place in 1993, producing pyroclastic flows to 8.5 km NW of the summit and ashfall in Buenos Aires.

Information Contacts: M. Gardeweg and J. Cayupi, SERNAGEOMIN, Santiago; G. Fuentealba, Univ de la Frontera, Temuco; P. Francis, Open Univ; J. Viramonte, Univ Nacional de Salta, Argentina; Servicio Informativo del la Oficina Nacional de Emergencia, Santiago.