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Chaitén’s worse case scenario: ‘similar to Pompeii’ 9 May 2008

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The English-language Patagonia Times has just published a report of a news conference held by Luis Lara of the Chilean Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN):

Chilean authorities are considering the possibility that Region X’s Chaitén Volcano, now in its eighth day of continuous eruption, might collapse and thus release a torrent of red-hot pyroclastic material (burning gas and rock) that could devastate the surrounding area.

Very much a ‘worst case scenario,’ the possibility is nevertheless a very real one, vulcanologist Luis Lara of Chile’s National Geologic and Mining Service (SERNAGEOMIN) told reporters Thursday afternoon.

There is indeed precedent for such concern, according to the SERNAGEOMIN official, who pointed out that similar volcanoes – in Mexico and the Philippines, for example – have collapsed on the seventh or eight day of continuous eruption.

‘Pompeii is in some ways similar,’ said Lara, referring to the Roman city famously destroyed in AD 79 by Mount Vesuvius. ‘There was a pyroclastic flow that resulted in the consequences we all know. That’s exactly the worst case scenario that we’ve defined here.’

The reference to Pompeii was doubtless intended to instil a sense of the potential destructiveness of a dome collapse and associated pyroclastic surges at Chaitén into the journalistic mind.

Lara estimated the quantity of ash so far expelled by the volcano as two cubic kilometres, and he said that the eruption plume (the reporter calls it ‘smoke’) reached an altitude of 15 kilometres.

For all our Chaitén coverage: Chaitén << The Volcanism Blog

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Chaitén – summary information for Chaitén (1508-41)
ONEMI, Oficina Nacional de Emergencia – Chilean government emergencies office (Spanish)
SERNAGEOMIN – volcanology information from the Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería, Chile (Spanish)
Ministerio del Interior – Chilean Interior Ministry; archive of news articles is here

News
Chile volcano scenario ‘similar to Pompeii’Patagonia Times, 9 May 2008

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Comments

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