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Chaitén satellite image from 26 May 2008 28 May 2008

Posted by admin in activity reports, Chaitén, Chile, eruptions, images, natural hazards, volcanoes.
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An interesting satellite image of Chaitén volcano has been published at the NASA Earth Observatory Natural Hazards site. Taken on 26 May 2008 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, the image shows what the commentary calls ‘several unusual features that likely result from the volcano’s activity’: the blue-green colour along the coastline and on inland bodies of water (perhaps floating pumice), opaque white emissions from the volcano that fill the valleys and leave mountain peaks clear, and a combination of airborne and ground-deposited ash to the east.

Terra satellite image, 26 May 2008 (NASA)

Above is the full NASA image, with the plume being blown northwards from Chaitén. It appears that the heavier ash-bearing portions of the eruption cloud are sinking into, and dissipating through, the valleys – in the central part of the image, it almost looks as if milk has been spilt into the fissures of the landscape. To the right, over Argentina, the still-airborne ash can be distinguished from the ash deposits on the ground by its greyer colouring. Below is a close-up, taken from the large version of the image, of Chaitén volcano and its immediate surroundings. The widened channels of the sediment-filled rivers and the volcanic deposits that are being flushed into the sea clearly be seen. The brown area in the centre is Chaitén town, now flooded and engulfed by mud.

Terra satellite image, 26 May 2008, detail (NASA)

NASA images courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

UPDATE: Alan Sullivan has an interesting commentary on the image here. Also, see Werner Luis’s comment below in which he suggests that the coloured patches of water are more likely to be the result of suspended ash particles rather than floating pumice.

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)

The Volcanism Blog


1. Fresh Bilge » Vog - 28 May 2008

[…] is a remarkable photo taken on May 26 and linked by The Volcanism Blog. The emission plume was very dense, but not very forcefully emitted. This suggests that the […]

2. Werner Luis - 29 May 2008

I found this article very interesting and instructive.
I would like to note that the patches of beige and blue-green along the coastline near the volcano are most likely to be primarily a result of suspended ash particles in water and not floating pumice.

Kind regards,
Werner Luis

3. Alan Sullivan - 29 May 2008

I agree with Werner.

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