Report on Llaima (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 Llaima (Chile). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 16 July-22 July 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
38.692°S, 71.729°W; summit elev. 3125 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
SERNAGEOMIN reported that after increased seismicity at Llaima on 14 July, an ash plume rose to an altitude of 5.6 km (18,400 ft) a.s.l. Less than two hours later, very intense orange and red incandescence was seen through breaks in the cloud cover near the summit and at the base of the W flank. At 1915 a vigorous Strombolian eruption ejected incandescent pyroclastic material from the N vent in the main crater to heights of 500 m above the summit. Seismicity and the intensity of the explosions decreased later that day. On 15 July, diffuse ash emissions rose to an altitude of 3.4 km (11,200 ft) a.s.l. Ash and tephra covered areas of the SSE flank. Seismic activity decreased during 16-18 July.
On 19 July, seismicity again increased and ash-and-gas plumes rose to an altitude of 3.3 km (10,800 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE. The emissions became more intense and frequent, and one explosion produced an ash plume to an altitude of 4.1 km (13,500 ft) a.s.l. Ash and tephra fell on the SE flank. Later that day, constant explosions ejected incandescent material 500 m above the summit that fell near the crater. Steam plumes emitted from the W flank possibly indicated the presence of a new lava flow along with mobile incandescent blocks from a previous lava flow. After another brief period of calm, vapor emissions increased and were followed by strong explosions and lava flows. The Alert level remained at Yellow.
Geologic Background. Llaima, one of Chile's largest and most active volcanoes, contains two main historically active craters, one at the summit and the other, Pichillaima, to the SE. The massive, dominantly basaltic-to-andesitic, stratovolcano has a volume of 400 km3. A Holocene edifice built primarily of accumulated lava flows was constructed over an 8-km-wide caldera that formed about 13,200 years ago, following the eruption of the 24 km3 Curacautín Ignimbrite. More than 40 scoria cones dot the volcano's flanks. Following the end of an explosive stage about 7200 years ago, construction of the present edifice began, characterized by Strombolian, Hawaiian, and infrequent subplinian eruptions. Frequent moderate explosive eruptions with occasional lava flows have been recorded since the 17th century.