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The eruption of Chaitén, at the NASA Earth Observatory 28 September 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, Chaitén, Chile, eruptions, NASA Earth Observatory.
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Ash and Steam Plume from Chaitén, 27 September 2009 (NASA EO-1 ALI image, courtesy NASA Earth Observatory)

There is a wonderful new image of the ongoing eruption of Chaitén volcano at the NASA Earth Observatory website today. This natural colour image (reduced size version above) was captured by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard the NASA/USGS Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite on 27 September 2009. The full image (2 MB, 2683 x 2683 pixels) from which the reduced picture above is a detail is quite magnificent:

Ash and Steam Plume from Chaitén, 27 September 2009 (NASA EO-1 ALI image, courtesy NASA Earth Observatory) - large image

The detail below taken from the large image shows the caldera, which is now almost entirely filled by the constantly-growing lava dome. The area of active growth can be seen in the west (towards the left of the image); this area is steaming vigorously, and the very steep slopes of the dome complex can clearly be seen, particularly towards the south. These steep slopes are unstable, producing constant rockfalls. A large-scale collapse here would send debris flows down the valley of the Chaitén river towards the town of Chaitén, 10 km south of the volcano.

Chaiten volcano erupting, 27 September 2009 (NASA EO-1 ALI image, courtesy NASA Earth Observatory)

A further detail view shows the town of Chaitén, engulfed in volcanic deposits which have descended the Chaitén river valley from the volcano in the form of volcanic mudflows or lahars. A fan-shaped bank of accumulated volcanic sediment, washed out of the river estuary, cuts the town’s harbour off from the sea.

Chaiten town, 27 September 2009 (NASA EO-1 ALI image, courtesy NASA Earth Observatory)

[NASA image by Robert Simmon, using EO-1 ALI data provided courtesy of the NASA EO-1 team. Thanks to Robert Simmon of the NASA Earth Observatory for giving the Volcanism Blog a preview of this image, and for referencing this blog in his caption.]

Ash and steam plume from Chaitén – NASA Earth Observatory (28 September 2009)

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

The Volcanism Blog

Comments

1. Stefan, stromboli.org - 29 September 2009

I’m planning to do a bike trip from Santiago to Ushuaia starting in November and planning at the same time to visit Chaitén. Does anybody of you know, if the city itself is visitable and if there are trips available to the volcano?

Thanks,
Stefan

2. admin - 29 September 2009

Stefan,

My understanding from local correspondents is that the town of Chaiten is visitable, although conditions are difficult. The person to talk to about visiting the town and the volcano is Nicholas La Penna: http://www.chaitur.com/index_en.htm

Disclaimer: I’m not recommending a visit, just passing on what I’ve heard!

3. Guillermo - 30 September 2009

Technically, you can go to Chaitén, but can´t stay at night there. In any case, there is a lot of people living in the town.

4. Stefan, stromboli.org - 30 September 2009

Thank you all for your feedback! More is of course still welcome :-)
Stefan


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