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Chaitén town flooded: photographs 31 May 2008

Posted by admin in activity reports, Chaitén, Chile, eruptions.
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The following fourteen photographs of the town of Chaitén, flooded by volcanic deposits and debris, were sent to The Volcanism Blog by Werner Keller of the Villarrica and Llaima Volcanoes Visual Observation Project (POVI) in Chile. This is an image-heavy post, so to ease downloading I’ve put them under the cut – click on ‘more’ to see the pictures. The complete abandonment of Chaitén town looks increasingly likely: these images show why.

Grateful thanks to Werner Keller for these images, which are © copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

Chaitén town flooded. May 2008. © Copyright El Mercurio.

UPDATE 1 June 2008: It’s just been pointed out to me that one of the pictures appeared twice, so I’ve removed the duplicate. The total number of images is thus now fourteen.

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)

The Volcanism Blog

Comments

1. Julian Wilson - 31 May 2008

No way!!!!! I’ve just looked at the amazing NASA sat pics and your labelled blow up of Chaiten town. It appeared that the streets and houses were flooded but I had no idea that the whole town is virtually burried with just the roofs exposed! Is it ash fallout mud carried by the silting and raising of the adjacent river bed to form a delta encompassing the entire town and surrounding flats?

My heightened interest stems from the fact that I spent half a day in the town less than ten days before the eruption. I was on my way to Futaleufu, which is +-50km to the SE. I walked the self same streets shown here, chatting to the locals, popping into shops and visited the park. Those poor people. They look to be permanently displaced now, and the town looks set to become a ghost town tourist attraction written of in future revisions of “Lonely Planet.”

I’m upset about the environmental impact (aside from the humanitarian one) since I spent an incredible week fly fishing and hiking around Futaleufu. The fish, judging by the colour of the rivers and lakes must surely have perished. I released a 20lb+ salmon……

2. Kim - 31 May 2008

Those are really impressive photos – they remind me a little of some of the photos of Armero, Colombia taken after lahars from Nevado del Ruiz flooded the town in the 80’s. (It’s a good thing Chaien town was evacuated.)

The photos are copyrighted. Do you know if the photographer is willing to allow them to be used in class powerpoint presentations?

3. Beano - 1 June 2008

Is it the whole town like this or the worse effected areas? From the satellite fotos it looks like some areas are not so badly effected as the houses immediately adjacent the river and the port area.
These fotos seem to be from a newspaper who naturally only submit the worse case scenario.
There is probably more to come though. There must still be ash buildup in the head of the river up near the caldera. The next lot of serious rainfall will probably bring another lot down.

4. Gavin O'Brien - 1 June 2008

Hi everyone,
Very impressive, Reminds me of the lahars from Pinatubo in the Philippines and the enormous destruction they caused and are still causing to the towns on the plains around the volcano.The only postive note is that the population involed is much smaller in this case. I think we all have to accept that these are natural events and we have to adjust to them. It’s paricularly interesting as the eruption is the first in over 9,000 years. There must be hundreds of similarly dormont volcanoes around the world which may spring to life and do similar damage or worse.

5. Chileans ponder the future for Chaitén « The Volcanism Blog - 8 June 2008

[…] America, volcanic eruptions trackback Recent pictures of the town of Chaitén (see our earlier two posts) can leave no doubt that the volcano that shares the town’s name has left an awful mess […]

6. Bruestle - 8 July 2008

es ist erschütternd die Bilder der Stadt heute zu sehen wo wir kurze Zeit zuvor in dieser Stadt für zwei Tage bei einer Familie waren und durch alle Strassen gelaufen sind. Es ja wohl nicht nur die Stadt und deren Einwohner die betroffen sind. Sicher auch die ganze Caratera Region mit all den Familienbetrieben die sich eine kleine Excistens aufgebaut hatten um die Besucher der Region mit dem notwendigsten zu versorgen. Ob das Daniel ist mit seinem altersschwachen Kleinbus der den Besuchern die Phantastische Caratera zeigt oder der KleinBäcker der sich zusätlich als Dirigent für ein Musik-Festival in Frutillar einsetzt oder die überaus freundliche Familie mit 4 Kindern wo wir zu Gast waren.
Was ist aus all diesen Leuten geworden? Werden sie wieder zurück können?
Eric und erika


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