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SI/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20-26 October 2010 29 October 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, Chaitén, Chile, eruptions, Fuego, Guatemala, Hawaii, Indian Ocean, Indonesia, Japan, Kamchatka, Karymsky, Kilauea, Kliuchevskoi, Manam, Merapi, Pacaya, Papua New Guinea, Piton de la Fournaise, Russia, Sakura-jima, Santa María, Shiveluch, Suwanose-jima, United States, Villarrica, Weekly Volcanic Activity Reports.
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The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report for 20-26 October 2010 is compiled by Sally Kuhn Kennert and published by the Global Volcanism Program. It’s been a volcanically lively week. Some selected highlights:

  • Kliuchevskoi: explosive activity
  • Merapi: an explosive eruption brings evacuations and fatalities
  • Piton de la Fournaise: eruptive activity continues

SI/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report 20-26 October 2010

Click on the map for a larger version (1280 x 898 pixels).

The Smithsonian Institution/United States Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report for 20-26 October 2010 is now available on the Global Volcanism Program website. The following is a summary and not a substitute for the full report.

New activity/unrest: Kliuchevskoi (Russia), Merapi (Indonesia), Piton de la Fournaise (Réunion Island).

Ongoing activity: Chaitén (Chile), Fuego (Guatemala), Karymsky (Russia), Kilauea (Hawaii, USA), Manam (Papua New Guinea), Pacaya (Guatemala), Sakura-jima (Japan), Santa María (Guatemala), Shiveluch (Russia), Suwanose-jima (Japan), Villarrica (Chile).


Chile: the latest from Planchón (and Chaitén) 8 October 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, Argentina, Chaitén, Chile, eruptions, Planchón-Peteroa.
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Chilean state geological service SERNAGEOMIN has issued a new bulletin (4 October 2010) giving the latest information about the ongoing activity at Planchón-Peteroa and Chaitén volcanoes.

The report on Planchón-Peteroa, covering the period 16-30 September, says that data from monitoring of the volcano indicates that ‘the current activity is characterized by the active presence of a body of magma, interacting with the upper hydrothermal system of the volcano, which continues in a minor eruptive process’. A high level of seismic activity has been recorded, associated with fluid movements in the interior of the volcano. including a continuous tremor signal. An overflight on 30 September revealed that the volcano is continuing to produced ‘pyroclastic eruptive activity of a low intensity’, but that there has been a ‘slight increase in the vigour of the emissions compared with that seen over the last three weeks’. Other observations from the overflight:

The eruptive activity has remained constant in the south-western crater, with a relatively dense column of ash, gases and diffuse emanations of water vapour. The emission of ash and gases was maintained from the lower north-eastern edge of the crater, but it was more continuous and vigorous than was observed during the flights of 7 and 9 September. From the air, a column a little more dense than on those occasions could be observed.

The ash column rising from the crater was inclined towards the east to a height of approximately 400 metres above the level of emission. From this point the column was dispersed and diluted over a wide area of Argentine territory. During the overflight, the greater part of the ash plume in suspension was distributed towards the east and, from there, a part towards the north-east, for tens of kilometres, at heights of up to 6000 metres a.s.l. A more dilute trace of the plume extended to the south and south-east at maximum altitudes of 3000 metres a.s.l. between Argentine valleys.

The report concludes that the volcano’s current behaviour suggests that ‘the magma body and the hydrothermal system are remaining in a certain equilibrium’. The alert level remains at Yellow level 4.

A detailed version of the Planchón bulletin in PDF can be found by going to the ‘informes’ page on the horrible OVDAS website and clicking on Región del Maule (VII) Volcán Planchón-Peteroa in the list under ‘Informes, Reportes y Otros Informes’ for the list of recent reports, or you can open the PDF directly by clicking here.

As for Chaitén, things remain active but quiet: a slight increase in seismic activity was registered during 20-28 September compared to levels earlier in the month, but ‘the energy released by the volcanic system remains at relatively low levels, comparable to earlier months’. SERNAGEOMIN is maintaining an alert level of Yellow level 3.

Watching Planchón: the main page of the Proyecto Observación Volcán Villarrica (POVI) website currently features information on the Planchón activity, and SERNAGEOMIN-OVDAS has a webcam at Romeral which provides a very good view of Planchón-Peteroa, weather permitting.

References to volcano alert levels on this blog are not authoritative and are not necessarily up to date. You should always check with official sources for the latest alert levels.

[Thanks to Guillermo for letting me know about the new SERNAGEOMIN bulletin.]

Global Volcanism Program: Planchón-Peteroa – summary information for Planchón-Peteroa (1507-04=)
Global Volcanism Program: Chaitén – summary information for Chaitén (1508-041=)
Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería – Chilean state geological service SERNAGEOMIN
Observatorio Volcanológico de los Andes del Sur – the ghastly website for OVDAS

The Volcanism Blog

SERNAGEOMIN reduces Chaitén alert level to Yellow 25 June 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, Chaitén, Chile, eruptions.
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Here are the two most recent Chaitén bulletins from SERNAGEOMIN to be made publicly available (at the OVDAS website and at the comprehensive Chaitén site run by Werner Luis): no. 119 covering 1-31 May 2010 (PDF) and no. 120 covering 1-15 June 2010 (PDF). The main news is that the alert level for the volcano has been reduced from the highest level of Red to Yellow, reflecting SERNAGEOMIN’s judgement that the eruption is in decline. Translations as follows.


The alert level for the volcano is changed to LEVEL 4 – YELLOW: CHANGES IN THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE VOLCANIC ACTIVITY (eruption probable in days or weeks).

On the basis of analysis of information obtained from monitoring equipement and observation of Chaitén volcano, the Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN) – Observatorio Volcanológico de los Andes del Sur (OVDAS) reports for this period as follows:

  • A total of 140 seismic events were recorded, of which 77 were related to rock fracturing. These were principally located around and to the south of the volcanic caldera, at depths of less than 7 km.
  • Regarding fluid dynamics, 63 earthquakes were identified, mostly of low energy, possibly related to hydrothermal processes and/or the release of magmatic gases at low pressure.
  • The images received from the cameras installed around the volcano highlighted four fundamental aspects: (1) no occurrence of ash emissions; (2) days with minimal degasification at the surface of the dome; (3) days with degasification of the dome complex much enriched with water vapour and at low pressure, this last related to periods of rain and atmospheric humidity; (4) at least two small zones of nocturanal incandescence, located on the north-west flank and centre of the dome complex.
  • Through the images published by the OMI (the Ozone Monitoring Instrument Sulphur Dioxide Group) no changes were detected in the emission of SO2 to the atmosphere

Seismic activity has been characterized by low energy, such as has been recorded since January 2010, which confirms that there have been no new eruptive processes of magma movement, and little release and movement of volcanic gases within the conduits has been detected, which may be related to the cooling process of the dome complex.

From the foregoing, it is concluded that the current eruptive process is moving into a phase of decline, with few [eruptive] manifestations. Consequently, the volcanic alert level is changed to LEVEL 4 – YELLOW. It is stressed that it is possible for the system to move to new phases of disequilibrium and eruptive stages. Given the large size of the dome there is a continuing danger of collapses, possible explosions and the generation of block and ash flows which may affect the valleys surrounding Chaitén volcano. Also, there is a continuing danger associated with the transport and sedimentation of volcanic materials, including fine ash, along adjacent river valleys and their mouths in coastal areas, particularly during heavy and prolonged rain.

SERNAGEOMIN continues monitoring and will announce in a timely manner any changes in the volcano’s activity.

Observatorio Volcanológico de los Andes del Sur – OVDAS
31 May 2010

[End of SERNAGEOMIN bulletin no. 119.]


Two years on at Chaitén 2 May 2010

Posted by admin in Chaitén, Chile, eruptions, volcanoes.
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View of Chaitén caldera and lava dome before the May 2008 eruption, © Eric Manríquez
View of Chaitén caldera and lava dome before the May 2008 eruption (© Eric Manríquez).

The eruption of Chaitén volcano in southern Chile began two years ago today, on 2 May 2008. Since that date eruptive activity at the volcano has continued uninterrupted: the intensity has varied, but the activity has never ceased.

View from May 2009 of the dome complex (courtesy Mr Javier Romero, Vialidad MOP, Puerto Montt)
View from May 2009 of the Chaitén dome complex (courtesy Mr Javier Romero, Vialidad MOP, Puerto Montt).

During the coming week, to mark the second anniversary of Chaitén’s awakening, there’ll be a series of posts here at the Volcanism Blog looking at various aspects – volcanological, social, economic and environmental – of this remarkable and endlessly fascinating eruption.

Secuencia de imagenes del volcan Chaiten correspondientes al mes de Marzo del 2010 (SERNAGEOMIN)
Sequence of images of the Chaitén lava dome during March 2010 (SERNAGEOMIN).

[The first illustration above, showing Chaitén before the eruption, was originally published here in May 2008; the second is from SERNAGEOMIN bulletin no. 91, translated here in May 2009; and the third is from the March 2010 bulletin (PDF) issued by SERNAGEOMIN which we will be reporting here very shortly.]

UPDATE. Family problems of a serious nature mean I’ve been unable to provide the Chaitén coverage promised in this post – please accept my sincere apologies. I will catch up with Chaitén, and with much else, when I am able to do so.

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

The Volcanism Blog

Keeping up with Chaitén via the DGAC and OVDAS webcams 2 May 2010

Posted by admin in Chaitén, Chile, volcano monitoring, volcanoes.
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For the last two years we have been watching the Chaitén volcanic eruption through the cameras operated by the Chilean civil aviation authority, the Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil de Chile (DGAC), at Chaitén airfield. The DGAC deserves congratulations for keeping those cameras working night and day, through the sometimes very difficult conditions thrown up by the weather and the volcano.

The DGAC does not deserve any congratulations, however, for redesigning their website without a thought for their visitors and rendering all former URLs invalid. There’s no attempt to forward you to the new page, or even to help you find it: ‘no es posible encontrar la página solicitada’, they say, as if it’s your fault for asking. The outcome is that all previous links to the Chaitén cameras on this blog and everywhere else are now broken. And it’s not as if the newly re-designed site is any better than its predecessor: it’s still script-heavy, ugly, and slow. Anyway, the new links are as follows:

  • Cámaras de Chile: List of DGAC airfield cameras (with a map to show you where they are)
  • Aeródromo Chaitén: page for the two Chaitén airfield cameras (showing the current images alongside an archive image for reference)
  • Chaitén Cámara Norte: Chaitén airfield north-facing camera, the one that shows the volcano (current image, and archived images for the previous three hours)
  • Chaitén Cámara S-Este: Chaitén airfield south-east-facing camera, the one that shows the river (current image, and archived images for the previous three hours)

As for one Chilean state agency site that could do with a radical redesign, that of the Observatorio Volcanológico de los Andes del Sur (OVDAS), it continues unaltered, a visual and organizational catastrophe and a potent demonstration of everything you shouldn’t do when designing a website. But at least the locations of the OVDAS Chaitén cameras are unchanged:

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

The Volcanism Blog

Random rumblings: hydrothermal vents re-colonized from afar, Yellowstone swarm, Krakatoa, Mauna Kea testbed, and MSH spiders to Chaitén 2 March 2010

Posted by admin in Chaitén, Chile, current research, Hawaii, Indonesia, Krakatau, United States.
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Hydrothermal vents sometimes colonized from afar (Science News) – ‘Field studies at a hydrothermal vent system where all life was snuffed out by a massive undersea volcanic eruption reveal that these habitats can be repopulated in a matter of months by larvae from distant vents. … Water samples taken near the vents in May 2006 contained the larvae of Ctenopelta porifera, a rock-clinging gastropod called a limpet. By July, these fast-growing creatures had colonized the rocks around the eruption-sterilized vents; by October, they were mature and reproducing. … the nearest hydrothermal system known to host that species is located more than 300 kilometers away.’

Recent Yellowstone earthquake swarm was the second-largest ever (Denver Post) – ‘The Yellowstone earthquake swarm that began on Jan. 17 and ended on Feb. 11 was the second-largest earthquake swarm ever at Yellowstone National Park, according to scientists at the University of Utah. … Not only was the swarm the second-largest ever recorded at Yellowstone but it was longer in time and included more earthquakes than last year’s swarm beneath Yellowstone Lake, which occurred in December 2008 and January 2009, according to the scientists.’

Krakatoa’s child smokes with magic fire in belly (The Age) – ‘As the boat approached Anak Krakatau, the atmosphere was eerie. The smoke of the seasonal forest fires drifting from Sumatra made visibility poor and, before we even sighted the volcano, we heard it: a deep, otherworldly rumble. Then, out of the haze, materialised the cone of Anak Krakatau. Within minutes, thick grey ash billowed out of its caldera into the sky.’

Into the mouth of a volcano (Astrobiology Magazine) – ‘Dr. Inge Ten Kate, a University of Maryland Baltimore County research assistant, led an expedition into a cinder cone atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii, to test the prototype for an instrument that will be a miniature laboratory to discover the composition of rocks and atmospheres on moons, asteroids, and planets across the solar system. … Why a volcano? “The terrain and composition are similar to what we expect to find on the Moon, asteroids, and Mars,” says Ten Kate. “Also, there will be outgassing from the volcano, so we can test our ability to measure trace gases in atmospheres. Finally, the differences among various areas on the volcano’s cinder cone will be subtle, so it’s a good test of our sensitivity and our ability to distinguish different regions.”‘

Mount St. Helens ‘spiders’ will get tryout on Chilean volcano (The Oregonian) – Geological ‘spiders’ packed with instruments to monitor the heaves, sighs and belches of Mount St. Helens, are expected to migrate south this month. Two of the contraptions are headed to Chaiten, a volcano in Chile that began erupting in 2008 after about 9,000 years of dormancy. … The machines helped give the USGS sufficient information to declare in January 2008 that Mount St. Helens recent eruptive phase was over. That kind of certainty is needed at Chaiten, said John Ewert, a volcanologist in the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program. “It’s always hard enough to know when they’ll start erupting,” said Ewert, part of the team that visited the Chilean volcano in January. “It’s even harder to tell when they’ll stop.”‘

The Volcanism Blog

NASA Earth Observatory: Chaitén volcano and surrounding area 1 March 2010

Posted by admin in Chaitén, Chile, NASA Earth Observatory.
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Chaiten volcano and surrounding area (NASA Aqua MODIS image, 25 February 2010)

At the NASA Earth Observatory a new natural colour image of Chile’s Chaitén volcano and the surrounding area has been published in the Natural Hazards category. Captured on 25 February 2010 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite, the image shows the large area of recent grey ash deposits around Chaitén volcano and the ash-choked rivers draining the area. The site of Chaitén town, dangerous and officially abandoned but still, apparently, a tourist magnet, can be seen at the mouth of the river to the south of the volcano.

Chaitén volcano and the surrounding area – NASA Earth Observatory, 26 February 2010

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

The Volcanism Blog

Chaitén and the follies of the press 23 February 2010

Posted by admin in Chaitén, Chile, volcano monitoring.
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Chilean newspaper El Repuerto has harsh words today for the sensationalist reporting by some sections of the press of the recent ‘red alert’ story. Under the rather neat headline ‘Chaitén: entre la alerta roja y la prensa amarilla’ (‘Chaitén: between red alert and yellow journalism’), the article points out that the red alert was nothing new and SERNAGEOMIN were simply reminding everyone that the volcano remained dangerous.

The writer argues that the press, however, were not interested in the facts, just in headlines about looming catastrophe. Nor are journalists generally interested in the South of Chile (or Argentina, for that matter), they only discover the place exists when they can write about a disaster there:

Once again grandiloquent journalism tempts us with its follies. This time it’s about the South, which exists, when convenient. ‘Red alert in Chaitén’, read the lurid headlines as old archive material showing southern localities under ash was dusted off.

Coverage in the Argentinan Clarín newspaper is held up as a particular example of the sensationalized reporting the writer is condemning.

(Under the ‘any volcano will do’ rules applying to the images used in news reports dealing with volcanic activity, El Repuerto‘s article is illustrated with a picture of Cleveland volcano in Alaska.)

The Volcanism Blog

SI/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report 10-16 February 2010 18 February 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, Bagana, Bezymianny, Caribbean, Chaitén, Chile, Colombia, Dukono, Ecuador, eruptions, Guatemala, Hawaii, Indonesia, Japan, Kamchatka, Karangetang, Karymsky, Kilauea, Kliuchevskoi, Llaima, Nevado del Huila, Pacaya, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Sakura-jima, Shiveluch, Soufrière Hills, Suwanose-jima, Tiatia, Tungurahua, Ulawun, United States, Weekly Volcanic Activity Reports.
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Some of the volcanic activity headlines for the past week:

  • Llaima: steam-and-gas plumes detected, alert level raised
  • Soufrière Hills: major dome collapse, resulting ash plume reaches 15.2 km altitude
  • Nevado del Huila: gas emissions and thermal anomalies detected on the lava dome
  • Tungurahua: ash plumes rose to altitudes of 5.5 to 9 km

SI/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report 10-16 February 2010

Click on the map for a larger version (1280 x 898 pixels).

The Smithsonian Institution/United States Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report for 10-16 February 2010 is now available on the Global Volcanism Program website. The following is a summary and not a substitute for the full report.

New activity/unrest: Bezymianny (Russia), Llaima (Chile), Soufrière Hills (Montserrat), Tiatia (Russia), Ulawun (Papua New Guinea).

Ongoing activity: Bagana (Papua New Guinea), Chaitén (Chile), Dukono (Indonesia), Karangetang [Api Siau] (Indonesia), Karymsky (Russia), Kilauea (Hawaii, USA), Kliuchevskoi (Russia), Nevado del Huila (Colombia), Pacaya (Guatemala), Sakura-jima (Japan), Shiveluch (Russia), Suwanose-jima (Japan) | Tungurahua (Ecuador).


Chaitén: tourists flood in, despite red alert 18 February 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, Chaitén, Chile, volcano monitoring, volcano tourism.
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The Chilean state emergencies office ONEMI has felt the need to remind everyone that Chaitén volcano in southern Chile is still dangerous and on red alert. Recently activity at Chaitén had appeared to be in decline, but in a bulletin issued on 15 February 2010 ONEMI notes that ‘although seismic activity has declined overall in recent months’ there was an increase in the number of events recorded during the period 21 January to 5 February (as reported in SERNAGEOMIN’s bulletin for that period) and warns that the continuing seismic activity around the volcano and constant gas emissions and incandescence at the dome suggest that ‘the volcanic system retains a high degree of instability’, and that the danger of collapses, explosions and debris flows remains, meaning that red alert still applies to Chaitén.

This reminder that Chaitén remains dangerous may have been at least partly provoked by an influx of tourists, both Chilean and foreign, to the area. The officially abandoned town of Chaitén seems to have been playing host to large numbers of visitors. ‘All the [tourist] cabins are open, and other hotels as well. It’s surprising how many gringos are walking the streets’, says one local. Another dismisses the red alert warning as ‘a lie told by the Government … there has been no shaking, and there is nothing stopping people coming’. The pressure group ‘Hijos y Amigos de Chaitén’ (sons and friends of Chaitén) also attacked the Government for issuing the warnings: ‘The situation is completely normal today. There are no tremors, no fumaroles, ONEMI is lying’, says the group’s chairwoman, Rita Gutiérrez. Local councillor Bernardo Riquelme claims that a group of tourists have recently climbed the volcano and encountered neither tremors nor emissions. La Tercera reports that visitors to Chaitén are up by 50% on this time last year: ‘There is no light and no drinking water, but this does not prevent the flow of visitors that has increased in the last few months’.

In neighbouring Argentina there is anger at the ‘alarmist’ nature of some of the Argentinian press reporting of the Chaitén (and Llaima) warnings. The Patagonian paper Diario El Chubut reports the comments of one ‘visibly annoyed’ Environment Ministry official in Esquel who criticizes uncritical and sensationalist reporting by the press ‘who wanted to report something much more catastrophic than the reality’. The national press in Argentina, he complains, failed to communicate with either the Chilean or the Argentinian authorities, and put out distorted and alarmist reports based on their misunderstandings of the information released in Chile: ‘These are … technical reports intended for technicians, and it often happens that these reports come into the hands of untrained people who end up distorting the information’.

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

Arribo de turistas chilenos y extranjeros a Chaitén crece 50%La Tercera, 9 February 2010
Chaitén recibe cientos de turistas – Publimetro, 16 February 2010
Residentes de Chaitén afirman que ‘no hay temblores ni fumaroles’ en la zona – Terra.cl, 16 February 2010
Critican a la prensa nacional por cobertura alarmista en torno al volcán ChaiténDiario El Chubut, 18 February 2010

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

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