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Site chosen for the ‘new Chaitén’ 28 February 2009

Posted by admin in Chaitén, Chile, eruptions, natural hazards.
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The Chilean Government has announced that the volcano-devastated town of Chaitén is to be relocated to Santa Bárbara, on the coast about 10 kilometres north-west of the town’s current location. Interior Minister Edmundo Pérez Yoma made the announcement on Wednesday, saying that relocation work will begin with the provision of essential services and the construction of the new town, and that the ‘refoundation’ of Chaitén on the new site will take at least one year.

Map - options for the new Chaiten, January 2009
Above: Map showing options for the new Chaitén, January 2009. Santa Bárbara, lower left, has been chosen as the site to be developed. (Map base: Instituto Geográfico Militar, Chile.)

The decision is something of a surprise, as it had previously seemed that the Government was leaning towards selecting Bahía Pumalín, some distance further north, as the site of the new town. One of the advantages of the latter was its existing harbour. Santa Bárbara is not particularly suitable for port facilities of any size, and it appears that the Government is prepared to consider other sites for a port to replace that of Chaitén: the locations being considered, said Presidential Delegate Paula Narváez, include both Santa Bárbara ‘and other nearby locations’. Narváez also stressed once again that ‘there is no way Chaitén can stay where it is’.

Among the attractions of Santa Bárbara is that it is close to the present site of Chaitén while shielded from the hazards presented by the volcano. The fact that the new town will be not too far distant from the old Chaitén appears to have won over (at least partly) the opponents of relocation among the town’s former residents. The alcalde of Chaitén, Pedro Vásquez, described what was happening as ‘very positive’, and said that while the chaiteninos ‘want to return to our beloved town, with Santa Bárbara I believe it’s close enough’. The Interior Minister, for his part, went out of his way to praise Mr Vásquez, saying that ‘what we have achieved has, in large measure, been made possible in large measure by the collaboration of the alcalde of the former town of Chaitén’ (although that reference to ‘former town’ – ‘ex ciudad‘ – may have stung a bit).

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

¡Confirman reubicación de Chaitén!El Diario Austral Osorno, 25 February 2009
Gobierno confirmó que Chaitén se relocalizará en Santa BárbaraLa Nación, 26 February 2009
Delegada presidencial ‘No hay manera alguna que Chaitén se quede donde está’La Tercera, 26 February 2009

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

The Volcanism Blog



1. Gijs de Reijke - 28 February 2009

Santa Bárbara is still only 10 kilometres away from the volcano. A really large dome collapse still can’t be ruled out, and large pyroclastic flows and surges could be the results of such a collapse. The village may be shielded from such events by the mountains between the village and the volcano, but I wonder if that’s enough to compensate the short distance between the volcano and the village in the case of such an event.

The distance between Bahía Pumalín and Chaitén volcano is somewhat larger, but there are almost no mountains shielding the village from the volcano in the case of large flows and surges…

2. The Geology News Blog · Activity and photos from the Chaitén Volcano - 28 February 2009

[…] fantastic Volcanism Blog has had continuous coverage and information about the eruption. A recent post from the website details the Chilean government’s plan to relocate the town of Chaiten. The […]

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