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Chaitén update, 20 May 2008 20 May 2008

Posted by admin in activity reports, Chaitén, Chile, eruptions.
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No new Chaitén bulletins from SERNAGEOMIN or ONEMI since last week; the latter organization has its hands full with the bad weather.

The Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) is currently still reporting continuous ash admissions at Chaitén and maintaining a red alert for the volcano, but its most recent bulletins also forecast ‘no ash cloud’ in the next few hours, so it appears that the force of the eruption is diminishing. On the most recent available visible spectrum satellite image from the Argentine National Metereological Service (taken at 20:39 UTC, 19 May 2008) a faint V-shaped plume can be seen extending northwards from the volcano for about 50 kilometres:

http://wwww.smn.gov.ar - Servicio Meteorológico Nacional - Imagén de satélite Visible Goes-12 en alta resolución

Above: detail of Goes-12 satellite image of North Patagonia taken at 20:39:57 on 19 May 2008, showing the Chaitén eruption plume just left of centre. (Credit: Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, Argentina.)

The following news comes from the Chilean and Argentine media, which continues to follow the Chaitén story, although not to the intensive degree of the past few weeks.

El Mercurio reports on the ‘powerful environmental impact’ of the eruption: ‘in Chaitén [town] there will be no more victims, but there are more material losses. The districts around the volcano have suffered a dramatic transformation of the landscape, especially south of the town where ashes and the flood deposits of the overflowing Río Blanco’ have had a huge impact.

Venezuelan news agency Cadena Global reported on 19 March that the eruption column from Chaitén was reaching 10 kilometres in altitude. The Chilean presidential delegate for the emergency, Paula Narváez, made an overflight of inspection and was reported to be deeply affected by the scale of the disaster: ‘Today we realize how indomitable is nature, how strong, and what a challenge it is to live alongside it’. She declined, however, to put any price on the damage done: the Government is reluctant to commit itself to any specific sums for reconstruction, given that it is by no means certain that Chaitén can ever be re-occupied.

More later … in the meantime, for all our Chaitén coverage: Chaitén « The Volcanism Blog.

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 (Spanish)
Servicio Meteorológico Nacional: Imágenes Satelitales – real-time satellite images from the Argentine National Meteorological Service: the ‘Norte Patagonia’ region covers Chaitén

Chaitén ya acusa un fuerte impacto ambientalEl Mercurio, 19 May 2008 (Spanish)
Volcán Chaitén mantiene fumarola de 10 kilómetros – Cadena Global (Venezuela), 19 March 2008 (Spanish)
Paula Narváez “impactada” tras sobrevolar por primera vez ChaiténEl Mercurio, 19 May 2008 (Spanish)

The Volcanism Blog



1. Beano - 20 May 2008

The current Chaiten township is finished and will probably be some meters deep under lahar and ash. In the future I can’t see any justification for rebuilding it as the local farming areas will take years to recover and any tourism attractions will be negligible.

There may be some other good reason to rebuild.

2. Fresh Bilge » Chaitén after the Storm - 20 May 2008

[…] The Volcanism Blog has consistently provided the best Chaitén updates I have seen anywhere. Today’s offering includes a satellite photo that actually catches the shrunken ash plume in a visual image. Cold southerly flow followed the […]

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