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Chaitén – major dome collapse 19 February 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, Chaitén, Chile, eruptions.
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Here’s the latest bulletin from the Chilean emergencies office ONEMI on the dramatic events at Chaitén today:

19/02/09 – Overflight at Chaitén volcano

At 15:20 an overflight was carried out at Chaitén volcano, revealing a fracture of more than a kilometre on the dome, southern sector, with evident signs of collapse, which constitutes, in the opinion of the Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería, SERNAGEOMIN, an important threat to the town [of Chaitén].

Large emissions of gases and pyroclasts were observed. Heavy rains over the volcano could generate substantial floods, causing further damage in the town of Chaitén.

The ONEMI bulletin adds that ‘SERNAGEOMIN experts taking part in this mission, along with ONEMI personnel, have been categorical in saying that no-one should stay in Chaitén’.

There seems little doubt that what occurred today was a major partial dome collapse, generating pyroclastic flows that penetrated a long way south along the Chaitén river valley, almost reaching the town itself. A collapse such as this is a process rather than an event, and further collapses of the structure of the dome(s), along with the release of overpressurized gases, is continuing to generate further debris flows along the length of the valley. Hence the continuing danger to the town of Chaitén referred to by ONEMI in the bulletin above.

For images of the events of today, click on ‘more’ below (20 images total).

The following images come from the north-facing DGAC camera at Chaitén airfield. They cover the period from 11:29 to 13:09 local time.

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 11-29

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 11-34

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 11-44

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 11-49

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 11-54

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 11-59

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 12-04

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 12-09

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 12-14

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 12-19

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 12-24

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 12-29

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 12-34

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 12-39

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 12-44

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 12-49

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 12-54

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 12-59

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 13-04

Chaiten 19 February 2009, 13-09

For all our Chaitén coverage: Chaitén « The Volcanism Blog.

Global Volcanism Program: Chaitén – summary information for Chaitén (1508-41)
SERNAGEOMIN – Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (Spanish)
Erupción del Volcán Chaitén – extensive coverage of the Chaitén eruption

The Volcanism Blog


1. M.Sasser - 19 February 2009

Thank you so much for all of the important information. I am writing to you all from the town of Futaluefu. Small amounts of ash fall have occurred since 12:00PM or so. Skies have been partly cloudy with a mix of ash and light sprinke showers.
We have received numerous calls confirming the line of ash fall in our area. From sector Lonconao out to the sector Azul all clear, south west, sunny and free of ash. From Lonconao to the town of Futa , north west, we have received the most ash. Accumulations are less than a millimeter but windy conditions are blowing ash around accumulating in corners, on top of vehicles and such.
All river activities in the sector azul are still 100% good to go.

Will update more soon.

2. Clare Whitehouse - 19 February 2009

i am in trevelin over the border some 30km from Futaleufu and we are also experiencing ashfall although nothing like the quantity which fell during the first eruptions. visibility is reduced and it is hard to estimate how much ash is falling as it is being blown about by the strong winds but tehre is definitely a layer forming on the sheltered parts of the roof for example.

we wait to see what happens with a feeling of deja vu!

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