Report on Chaiten (Chile) — 17 September-23 September 2008
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 September-23 September 2008
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2008. Report on Chaiten (Chile). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 September-23 September 2008. 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 during 8-22 September two eruption columns from Chaitén rose to altitudes of 2.1-3.1 km (6,900-10,200 ft) a.s.l. and drifted N and NE. The plume emitted from an area to the S contained more ash than the predominantly steam plume emitted from an area to the N. The Volcanic Alert level remained at Red.
Based on web camera views, pilot observations, analysis of satellite imagery, and SIGMET reports, the Buenos Aires VAAC reported that during 17-22 September continuous ash plumes rose to altitudes of 1.8-3.7 km (6,000-12,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted WNW, N, ENE, E, and ESE. A thermal anomaly over the lava dome was detected by satellite imagery during 20-22 September.
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.