MAY - June 2008 Ten Thousand Year Dormant Volcano Chaiten Eruption

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Volcano in Chile spews lava and blasts ash 12 miles into sky

Ash spews 20 km into the air in new eruption reported at Chile's Chaiten volcano

Erupting Chilean volcano could spew ash for months

Chile Evacuates as Volcano Ash Reaches Buenos Aires (Update1)

Volcano's impact seen hundreds of miles away

Workers moving 600,000 salmon away from Chaiten volcano 

Patagonian volcano may be about to blow its top 14:48 30 May 2008 The Chaitén volcano in the southern Andes in Chile had been quiet for nearly 10,000 years before it suddenly erupted on May 2. The town of Chaitén was evacuated, and a column of ashes and pyroclastic material reached 30 kilometres into the atmosphere. Smaller eruptions have followed daily, interrupting flights and adversely affecting agriculture and wildlife. On May 29, some 600,000 salmon threatened by the ash were shipped out from a fish farm near the volcano. Now experts warn that another, bigger explosion is possible."The most complex current eruptive scenario deals with an explosion associated with dome removal," says Luis Lara, of the Volcano Hazards Programme at the Chilean geological survey. The dome – a cone-shaped "roof" that is formed by accumulating layers of lava – is growing, and the potential for an explosion is real, Lara says. Iván Alejandro Petrinovic, a geologist at the Universidad Nacional de Salta and the Argentinian national science council, agrees that there is a chance of a major explosion caused by the increase of magma pressure inside the volcano. Although authorities say the falling ashes are not toxic, a "sanitary alert" was issued in the Argentine town of Esquel, and clean drinking water has been distributed.

N.M. Tech team studying lightning at Chilean volcano 5/20/2008 SOCORRO, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Tech scientists are in Chile, working to track lightning in an ash plume from the Chaiten volcano, which began erupting May 2 after thousands of years of silence. "Our business is studying thunderstorms and how they produce lightning," Tech physics professor Paul Krehbiel said. "Volcanoes do the same thing, in essence. We call it a dirty thunderstorm because the plume is full of dirt, rock, ash and other particles." Tech scientists will study the path of lightning in the plume to gain understanding of how electrical activity is transmitted from the Earth into the atmosphere. "With each lightning flash, we'll be able to monitor how it moves through the clouds and where it goes," said Ron Thomas, professor of electrical engineering. "If we take all our theories about lightning created in thunderstorms, we can learn about both types of lightning." Three researchers who left Saturday for Chile are setting up four mapping sensors developed by Tech professors and students over the past 13 years. The equipment will be set up on Chiloe Island, across the bay from Chaiten.  Tech's research into lightning, generated both by volcanoes and thunderstorms, has led to patented sensing technology that allows scientists, meteorologists and storm chasers to pierce clouds to "see" lightning as it occurs. Tech's team is using new technology developed by Tech electrical engineering professor William Rison. Tech first deployed lightning sensors at Alaska's Mount St. Augustine, which erupted December 2005 through February 2006. Because Tech had only two sensors there, it could not accurately map the lightning's path in three dimensions. The team plans to use four sensors to track lightning from the Chilean volcano. "One reason we're rushing into this project is that it's a great opportunity to study a very large eruption. These opportunities don't come around that often," said earth science professor Jeffrey Johnson, an expert in sound waves created by volcanoes. "This volcano is explosive. We know from previous studies and from the past two weeks that these explosive volcanoes happen infrequently, but create tremendous activity." The team of Thomas, Rison and Johnson will leave the sensors unattended for up to three months, then return to collect the data. They'll measure the time signals arrive at the four different stations, which will enable them to determine the location and time of the lightning surges. Radio waves created by lightning travel about one foot per nanosecond. The sensors capture information every 40 nanoseconds and will be able to pinpoint a three-dimensional location of lightning within about 40 feet, Krehbiel said. The Chaiten volcano, about 650 miles south of Santiago, has forced the evacuation of thousands of people from the town of Chaiten, nearby villages and farms.


An aerial view shows the flooded Chaiten town in southern Chile June 3, 2008. Chaiten Volcano started erupting on May 2 for the first time in thousands of years, spewing ash, gas and molten rock. Experts have said it could erupt at a less volatile pace for months and even years. Picture taken June 3, 2008. REUTERS/Cristian Brown/Intendencia Region de los Lagos/Handout (CHILE).

An aerial view after the flooded Chaiten town in southern Chile June 3, 2008. Chaiten Volcano started erupting on May 2 for first time in thousands of years, spewing ash, gas and molten rock. Experts have said it could erupt at a less volatile pace for months and even years. Picture taken June 3, 2008. REUTERS/Cristian Brown/Intendencia Region de los Lagos/Handout (CHILE).

Chaitén (volcano)

Chaitén is a volcanic calderakilometres (1.9 mi) in diameter, west of the elongated, ice-capped Michinmahuida volcano, and 10 kilometres (6 mi) northeast of Chaitén town in the Gulf of Corcovado, in southern Chile. The caldera is partially filled by a rhyolite obsidian lava dome that reaches a height of 962 metres (3,156 ft) above sea level, a portion of which is devoid of vegetation. Two small lakes occupy the caldera floor on the west and north sides of the lava dome.[1]

The translucent grey obsidian which had erupted from the volcano was used by pre-Columbian cultures as a raw material for artifacts.[2]

The volcano last erupted on May 6, 2008. According to the Global Volcanism Program, radiocarbon dating of the last lava flow from the volcano suggests that it last previously erupted in 7420 BC, plus or minus 75 years.[1]

 Chile volcano eruption regains strength Fri Jun 13, 3:57 PM ET  SANTIAGO, Chile - The six-week eruption of a volcano in southern Chile has regained strength with bursts of thick gas, seismic rumblings and the emergence of two new craters. Gov. Sergio Galilea of the Los Lagos region said Friday that police and military personnel stationed near Chaiten volcano were ordered to leave. The volcano is 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) south of the Chilean capital of Santiago. It erupted May 2 and has forced the evacuation of 4,500 residents form the nearby village of Chaiten. The village has since been heavily damaged by the overflowing Blanco River, its water thickened by ash form the volcano. Galilea says two new craters have appeared on the volcano.

 Southern Chile volcano erupts with renewed strength Fri Jun 13, 6:00 PM ET  SANTIAGO (AFP) - The Chaiten volcano in southern Chile has erupted with renewed strength, belching thick clouds of ash and hurling molten rocks into the air, regional authorities said Friday.  The 1,000-meter (3,280-foot) tall Chaiten volcano, located some 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) south of Santiago, first began to erupt in May after lying dormant for centuries. "There has been an increase in the volcano's activity," Sergio Galilea, the governor Los Lagos region, told reporters Friday. Galilea said that witnesses reported seeing two new craters, and of seeing "significant gas emanations and volcanic material" coming from the volcano. The National Service of Geology and Mining said it registered 15 low-level earthquakes early Thursday in the volcano area. On May 6, at the height of Chaiten's activity, a column of volcanic ash rose 30 kilometers (19 miles) high, grounding flights across a large swathe of Chile and Argentina. Ashes drifted east as far as the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires. Authorities earlier evacuated the 4,000 residents of the town of Chaiten, located a mere 10 kilometers (six miles) from the volcano. Since the volcano had calmed down in the past weeks officials were hoping to let evacuees return to recover their belongings -- but that plan was put on hold "until we are certain that this increased activity is something temporary," said Galilea.