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Chilean volcanoes: all quiet after the earthquake, reports SERNAGEOMIN 5 March 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, Chile, Villarrica, volcano monitoring.
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Villarrica volcano 5 March 2010 (OVDAS Pucon webcam)
Villarrica volcano from the Pucón webcam, 5 March 2010 (OVDAS).

In the wake of the M8.8 earthquake of 27 February, which led to speculation about the quake’s possible effects on the local volcanoes, the Chilean state geological service SERNAGEOMIN carried out an evaluation of activity at the volcanoes that are currently monitored in Chile. On 3 March a special volcanic activity bulletin was issued reporting that there is nothing unusual going on at any of the monitored Chilean volcanoes: ‘the levels and characteristics of seismic activity at Llaima, Villarrica, Chaitén, Mocho-Choshuenco, Osorno, Carrán, Calbuco and San Pedro volcanoes have shown no significant changes associated with the seismic event and activity is currently stable’. The caldera webcam at Chaitén ‘shows that the dome remains stable’, and the cameras at Llaima ‘show no significant changes in the fumarolic activity or the morphology’ of the volcano. The Villarrica webcams show ‘no major morphological change in its surface’, and visual observations of Osorno, Calbuco and Yate ‘show no abnormal situations’. (Chilean volcano webcams can be accessed via the OVDAS website.)

An overflight of Villarrica and Mocho-Choshuenco volcanoes took place on 28 February, to ‘evaluate possible changes both in activity and in glaciers and flanks’. The overflight revealed a gas and water vapour fumarole at Villarrica: this activity is described as ‘within the normal state’ of the volcano. No activity was seen at El Mocho volcano. The bulletin also notes the following observations:

The icecap on Villarrica volcano showed some new cracks and fissures on the flanks of the principal cone near the summit, caused by the 27 February earthquake, although the dimensions were smaller than those routinely present in the icecap. In addition, some small falls of ice were observed on the south flank and a small snow avalanche on the north-west flank. In the upper part of the cone of Villarrica volcano and on the north, north-west and west flanks abundant falls of rock from the summit onto the icecap and, locally, on escarpments of the flanks. In the case of Mocho volcano, small cracks were observed only on the south-east flank of the cone, the rest of the icecap showed no changes.

The OVDAS Pucón webcam shows Villarrica producing a faint fumarole this morning (see picture above).

The Volcanism Blog


1. Paul - 5 March 2010

Chaiten seems more active in recent days.

2. Passerby - 5 March 2010


This is typical of the plume emission activity seen yesterday, all day, until cloud level lowered in early evening, obscuring view of the peak.

I observed Volcan Villarrica by not one, but two webcams for 4 hours last night, until 10:30pm, in a near-constant state of minor lava incandescence, with roiling lava extending upwards at times as high as 100 ft – a clearly visible, quite large signal in the otherwise dark field of view.

3. Paul - 5 March 2010

Does the activity shown on the Chaiten DGAC north camera
starting 05.03.2010 13:43:38 look like a partial dome collapse?

4. admin - 5 March 2010

It certainly looks as if something significant has happened at the Chaiten dome. I’ve come along too late to see the event itself but pictures from a couple of hours later show a much wider plume with lots of red-brown ash content.

5. Passerby - 5 March 2010

Crystal clear skies over chaiten now, no doubt of the source of the plume. It’s steaming more actively today than yesterday.

Villarrica webcam 2 shows the volcano producing a pronounced plume as well, still on the whimpy side

You mean a recent collapse? No. Would expect more ‘volcanic handwaving’ in the event of a collapse.

6. nancy408 - 6 March 2010

I hope Chile will be able to recover quickly and the death toll doesn’t rise to high I can’t believe, another huge earthquake we need to pray for everyone.
You can send help, aide through any of your favorite charities find info on
Donations of clean water, food, clothing and temp shelters. We can make a difference!
we will !

7. Guillermo - 6 March 2010

Although there is calm on the volcanoes, the fault system near Llaima is very active:

Click to access Informe_Volcan_Llaima_Marzo_5_2010.pdf

I saw the Chaitén camera, too, and it looked like 3-4 small dome collapses.

Greetings from Chile (Fortunately I’m not in the most damaged area, but it still was 5 Mercalli here)

8. Chaiten Lodge - 6 March 2010

I remember that after two days from the 9.5 earthquake in Valdivia (May 22, 1960), the Puyehue volcano located 200 km from the epicenter, erupted for several weeks.


Furthermore, due to the same earthquake, several mountains collapsed blocking the drainage of Lake Riñihue. This lake is the last of Seven Lakes that are interconnected and is drained by the San Pedro River that runs through several towns (including Valdivia) before emptying into the Pacific.

It is also recorded in Chilean history that an estimated 8.5 earthquake hit Valdivia on December 16, 1575 and the drainage of Lake Riñihue was also blocked at that time.

Has anybody evaluated these possible scenarios with the current sismic activity?

9. admin - 6 March 2010

Thanks, everyone, for the information contributed here. There’s much to keep an eye on in Chile.

Passerby @ 5: depends on the size of the collapse. (I like the phrase ‘volcanic handwaving’ though.)

10. Marion - 6 March 2010

I’m an amateur in trying to understand how volcanic and seismic activity works, which is why I am asking you: is it safe to go to the Puerto Montt area now, given last week’s big earthquake? I’m in Viña del Mar right now, planning on going to Puerto Montt next week, but I wonder if the volcanoes of the area (especially Osorno, which has not erupted in the last 150 years) present any risk of eruption. Thank you for your insight.

11. Guillermo - 7 March 2010

Apparently there has no been reports of blocked rivers or something like that. But the “Siete Tazas” waterfall in Maule is dry possibly because a fissure opened by the earthquake. I know this is not related to volcanoes, but a near 9 magnitude quake is not seen often.


12. Chaiten Lodge - 10 March 2010

On page 9 of today’s web-based version of El Llanquihue it is mentioned Dr. David Pyle’s (Oxford University) study about the potential of “increased volcanic activity in the next 12 month as a result of the current sismic activity”.


13. Chaiten Lodge - 20 March 2010
14. Rubén - 22 March 2010

Al parecer la actividad sísmica registrada en el sur de Chile estaría relacionada con el volcán Melimoyu. Aquí les dejo algunos enlaces.

Alerta por Volcán Melimoyu

SERNAGEOMIN Informa sobre Sismos en el Sector Norte de Aysén
sábado, 20 de marzo de 2010

Melimoyu en Global Volcanism Program:

15. admin - 22 March 2010

Hola Rubén. Muy interesante, gracias por la información. Voy a investigar y escribir acerca de esto más tarde.

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