Chaitén update, 11 August 2009 (bulletins 101 and 102) 11 August 2009Posted by admin in activity reports, Chaitén, Chile, eruptions.
Tags: Chaitén, Chile, South America, volcanic activity reports, volcanic eruptions
Two new SERNAGEOMIN bulletins on the ongoing eruption at Chaitén to catch up with: no. 101 (PDF), covering 8-15 July 2009, and no. 102 (PDF), covering 16-22 July 2009. Nothing has been made available since, and neither of these bulletins is yet available on the informes page of the Observatorio Volcanológico de los Andes del Sur (OVDAS) website; this inability to provide even the most basic information in a timely manner is all too typical of the way SERNAGEOMIN does things. The PDF links above are to SEGEMAR (Servicio Geológico Minero Argentino), via Werner Luis’s Erupción del volcán Chaiten site.
These two bulletins are, like their immediate predecessors, sketchy and formulaic, and there is no point in providing full translations. Bulletin 101 (8-15 July 2009) reports the eruption column reaching up to 1.2 km above the dome complex, persistent block-and-ash flows indicating continuing growth of the dome particularly in the western part, and stable seismicity with daily averages of 22 hybrid (HB) earthquakes with magnitudes up to 4.2, and 11 with magnitudes of below 3.0. RSAM levels have not exceeded 150,000 units. The conclusion warns of the continuing danger of block-and-ash flows and lahars, and announces the maintenance of Volcanic Red Alert. Bulletin 102 is exactly the same, except that the plumes are reported to be reaching up to 1.5 km above the dome complex, and the daily average of hybrid earthquakes of greater than magnitude 4.0 is given as 20.
The level of information SERNAGEOMIN is providing about the Chaitén eruption is inexcusably inadequate. There has been no overflight since 1 May 2009 , and no new pictures have been released by SERNAGEOMIN since those in bulletin no. 96 of 8 June 2009. Indeed, that bulletin was the last to extend beyond one page. Since then all we have had from SERNAGEOMIN is a sad succession of sketchy one-page bulletins providing the bare minimum of information. For those of us trying to follow the progress of this eruption from elsewhere in the world this is frustrating. For people in Chile itself it must be utterly exasperating.
Here’s what tireless Chaitén-watcher Werner Luis, who has covered the eruption in detail since it began on his Erupción del volcán Chaiten website, had to say on 5 August about SERNAGEOMIN bulletins 101 and 102 (my translation):
How lamentable is this lack of information! As the volcano injects thousands of tons of SO2, CO2, ashes etc. into the atmosphere, profoundly affecting the animal and vegetable life of vast areas of two countries, the economies of entire communities, SERNAGEOMIN merely issues bulletins that appear to be photocopied from previous reports, and now are even reduced to appearing fortnightly…
SERNAGEOMIN is supposed to be a key element in the national volcano monitoring network, Red Nacional de Vigilancia Volcánica (see lavish presentation here in PDF, complete with quote from Winston Churchill), currently being developed by the Chilean Government. Recently the head of that project, Jorge Muñoz, spoke of SERNAGEOMIN’s vital role in providing ‘relevant and accurate knowledge and information to reduce the vulnerability and risk level of [volcanic] phenomena for the population’. Things are going to have to change a lot at SERNAGEOMIN before that aspiration becomes a reality: at the moment it is clear that, so far as informing the public is concerned, they couldn’t care less.
[Thanks to Werner Luis for tracking down bulletins 101 and 102.]
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