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Report on Villarrica (Chile) — August 1996


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 21, no. 8 (August 1996)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Villarrica (Chile) Seismic increase a week prior to a 14 September ash emission

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1996. Report on Villarrica (Chile) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 21:8. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199608-357120



39.42°S, 71.93°W; summit elev. 2847 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Seismicity at Villarrica stratovolcano increased above background starting on 7 September. The seismic data lacked significant high-frequency response. This increase preceded ash emissions that took place about a week later. The events were recorded at the digital seismic station named "VNV" located on Villarrica at 1,500 m elevation; data is telemetered to the Universidad de la Frontera in Temuco.

At 1330-1335 on 14 September personnel of Chile's Programa Riesgo Volcánico (PRV) saw emissions of gas and ash generated by four rhythmic explosions. The resulting ash blanket covered 60,000 m2 and bordered the volcano's ski resort ("Ski Villarrica"), which lies ~4 km from the summit on the NW flank. Later, at 1427, a lower intensity gas emission was observed from the resort. No further emissions were seen. The eruptions were thought to have been due to degassing from shallow depth.

Geological Summary. Glacier-clad Villarrica, one of Chile's most active volcanoes, rises above the lake and town of the same name. It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain. A 6-km-wide caldera formed during the late Pleistocene. A 2-km-wide caldera that formed about 3500 years ago is located at the base of the presently active, dominantly basaltic to basaltic-andesitic cone at the NW margin of the Pleistocene caldera. More than 30 scoria cones and fissure vents dot the flanks. Plinian eruptions and pyroclastic flows that have extended up to 20 km from the volcano were produced during the Holocene. Lava flows up to 18 km long have issued from summit and flank vents. Historical eruptions, documented since 1558, have consisted largely of mild-to-moderate explosive activity with occasional lava effusion. Glaciers cover 40 km2 of the volcano, and lahars have damaged towns on its flanks.

Information Contacts: Gustavo Fuentealba C., Eugenia Petit-Breuilh S., and Erasmo Hernández G., Programa Riesgo Volcánico de Chile (PRV), Observatorio Volcanológico de loa Andes del Sur, Departamento Ciencias Fisicas, Universidad de la Frontera, Avda. Francisco Salazar 01145, Casilla 54-D, Temuco, Chile.