Report on Chaiten (Chile) — 31 December-6 January 2009
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 31 December-6 January 2009
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, 31 December-6 January 2009. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
42.833°S, 72.646°W; summit elev. 1122 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Based on analysis of satellite imagery, pilot observations, and web camera views, the Buenos Aires VAAC reported that during 31 December-2 January and 4-5 January ash plumes from Chaitén continuously rose to altitudes 1.8-2.4 km (6,000-8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NW, N, NNE, and SE. Ash plumes were visible through the web camera on 3 January.
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.