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NASA Earth Observatory images: Chaitén and Mount St Helens 30 May 2008

Posted by admin in calderas, Chaitén, Chile, eruptions, images, Mount St Helens, United States, volcanoes.
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There’s an interesting pairing of topographic views at the NASA Earth Observatory right now: a comparison of Chaitén and Mount St Helens volcanoes. The images are derived from elevation data collected by the Advanced Spaceborne Emission and Reflective Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The data for Chaitén were collected on 1 April 2006, before the current eruption, and the data for Mount St Helens were collected on 31 May 2007.

Comparison of Chaiten and Mount St Helens (NASA)

The images are to a uniform scale. Perhaps the most immediately striking thing is how large a feature Chaitén is, with its 2.5x4km caldera: the Global Volcanism Program calls it ‘small’, which in comparison to Santorini (12x7km), Crater Lake (8x10km), or a real monster like Toba (35x100km), is probably fair enough, but it’s still pretty sizeable. The crater left at Mount St Helens by the May 1980 eruption looks quite modest by comparison, but is nothing of the kind, of course. It was also formed in quite a different way, through a catastrophic explosion; the Chaitén caldera was formed by the volcano collapsing into its own emptied magma chamber. Except when viewed from above Chaitén is an inconspicuous part of the landscape being low in elevation, the rim reaching 1122m at its highest point. Mount St Helens, at 2549m, is more than twice its height. It’s interesting to ponder what kind and size of edifice Chaitén was before the eruption that brought about its collapse into a caldera, 10,000 or so years ago.

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

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Chaitén – summary information for Chaitén (1508-41)
Global Volcanism Program: Mount St Helens – summary information for Mount St Helens (1201-05-)
USGS Photo Glossary: caldera – definition, explanation and illustration of ‘caldera’ from the USGS
Global Volcanism Program: calderas – more about calderas from the GVP’s ‘Types and Processes Gallery’

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Chaitén satellite image from 26 May 2008 28 May 2008

Posted by admin in activity reports, Chaitén, Chile, eruptions, images, natural hazards, volcanoes.
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An interesting satellite image of Chaitén volcano has been published at the NASA Earth Observatory Natural Hazards site. Taken on 26 May 2008 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, the image shows what the commentary calls ‘several unusual features that likely result from the volcano’s activity’: the blue-green colour along the coastline and on inland bodies of water (perhaps floating pumice), opaque white emissions from the volcano that fill the valleys and leave mountain peaks clear, and a combination of airborne and ground-deposited ash to the east.

Terra satellite image, 26 May 2008 (NASA)

Above is the full NASA image, with the plume being blown northwards from Chaitén. It appears that the heavier ash-bearing portions of the eruption cloud are sinking into, and dissipating through, the valleys – in the central part of the image, it almost looks as if milk has been spilt into the fissures of the landscape. To the right, over Argentina, the still-airborne ash can be distinguished from the ash deposits on the ground by its greyer colouring. Below is a close-up, taken from the large version of the image, of Chaitén volcano and its immediate surroundings. The widened channels of the sediment-filled rivers and the volcanic deposits that are being flushed into the sea clearly be seen. The brown area in the centre is Chaitén town, now flooded and engulfed by mud.

Terra satellite image, 26 May 2008, detail (NASA)

NASA images courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

UPDATE: Alan Sullivan has an interesting commentary on the image here. Also, see Werner Luis’s comment below in which he suggests that the coloured patches of water are more likely to be the result of suspended ash particles rather than floating pumice.

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

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Chaitén – summary information for Chaitén (1508-41)
ONEMI, Oficina Nacional de Emergencia – Chilean government emergencies office (Spanish)
SERNAGEOMIN – volcanology information from the Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (Spanish)

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All quiet at Chaitén? 21 May 2008

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A new Chaitén bulletin from SERNAGEOMIN today, the first for five days. It describes the system of seismic monitoring stations which is being installed at Chaitén by a joint USGS/SERNAGEOMIN team, but has absolutely nothing to say about the situation at the volcano itself.

Buenos Aires VAAC is maintaining ‘continuous emission’ status for Chaitén and their red alert remains in place, but their latest advisory reports that no ash cloud can be seen on satellite imagery and forecasts ‘nil’ ash over the next few hours. Cloud cover in the region is very heavy, and satellite images show no perceptible emissions from the volcano. Whatever Chaitén is putting out at the moment, if anything, is on too small a scale to rise above the clouds. The following visible-spectrum Goes-12 image (from the Servicio Meteorológico Nacional of Argentina), taken at 16:09 UTC on 20 May 2008, shows a sea of cloud with nothing special apparently going on over Chaitén (marked by the ‘x’) at all.

Servicio Meteorológico Nacional - Imagen de satélite Visible Goes-12 en alta resolución

Above: detail of Goes-12 satellite image of North Patagonia taken at 16:09:57 on 20 May 2008. The location of Chaitén volcano is marked by ‘x’. (Credit: Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, Argentina. The original image is here)

An animated Servicio Meteorológico Nacional Goes-12 image from the previous day, 19 May 2008, shows a relatively small northward-trending plume. And a beautifully clear satellite view taken on the same day can be found at Fresh Bilge under the appropriate heading ‘Snow and Ash’.

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

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Chaitén – summary information for Chaitén (1508-41)
ONEMI, Oficina Nacional de Emergencia – Chilean government emergencies office (Spanish)
SERNAGEOMIN – volcanology information from the Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (Spanish)
Servicio Meteorológico Nacional: Imágenes Satelitales – real-time satellite images from the Argentine National Meteorological Service: the ‘Norte Patagonia’ region covers Chaitén

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Chaitén update, 20 May 2008 20 May 2008

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No new Chaitén bulletins from SERNAGEOMIN or ONEMI since last week; the latter organization has its hands full with the bad weather.

The Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) is currently still reporting continuous ash admissions at Chaitén and maintaining a red alert for the volcano, but its most recent bulletins also forecast ‘no ash cloud’ in the next few hours, so it appears that the force of the eruption is diminishing. On the most recent available visible spectrum satellite image from the Argentine National Metereological Service (taken at 20:39 UTC, 19 May 2008) a faint V-shaped plume can be seen extending northwards from the volcano for about 50 kilometres:

http://wwww.smn.gov.ar - Servicio Meteorológico Nacional - Imagén de satélite Visible Goes-12 en alta resolución

Above: detail of Goes-12 satellite image of North Patagonia taken at 20:39:57 on 19 May 2008, showing the Chaitén eruption plume just left of centre. (Credit: Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, Argentina.)

The following news comes from the Chilean and Argentine media, which continues to follow the Chaitén story, although not to the intensive degree of the past few weeks.

El Mercurio reports on the ‘powerful environmental impact’ of the eruption: ‘in Chaitén [town] there will be no more victims, but there are more material losses. The districts around the volcano have suffered a dramatic transformation of the landscape, especially south of the town where ashes and the flood deposits of the overflowing Río Blanco’ have had a huge impact.

Venezuelan news agency Cadena Global reported on 19 March that the eruption column from Chaitén was reaching 10 kilometres in altitude. The Chilean presidential delegate for the emergency, Paula Narváez, made an overflight of inspection and was reported to be deeply affected by the scale of the disaster: ‘Today we realize how indomitable is nature, how strong, and what a challenge it is to live alongside it’. She declined, however, to put any price on the damage done: the Government is reluctant to commit itself to any specific sums for reconstruction, given that it is by no means certain that Chaitén can ever be re-occupied.

More later … in the meantime, for all our Chaitén coverage: Chaitén « The Volcanism Blog.

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Chaitén – summary information for Chaitén (1508-41)
ONEMI, Oficina Nacional de Emergencia – Chilean government emergencies office (Spanish)
SERNAGEOMIN – volcanology information from the Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (Spanish)
Servicio Meteorológico Nacional: Imágenes Satelitales – real-time satellite images from the Argentine National Meteorological Service: the ‘Norte Patagonia’ region covers Chaitén

News
Chaitén ya acusa un fuerte impacto ambientalEl Mercurio, 19 May 2008 (Spanish)
Volcán Chaitén mantiene fumarola de 10 kilómetros – Cadena Global (Venezuela), 19 March 2008 (Spanish)
Paula Narváez “impactada” tras sobrevolar por primera vez ChaiténEl Mercurio, 19 May 2008 (Spanish)

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Chaitén: NASA satellite image, 12 May 2008 14 May 2008

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A new satellite image of Chaitén volcano in eruption has been published at the NASA Earth Observatory Natural Hazards web site. The image was captured by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) equipment aboard NASA’s Terra satellite on 12 May 2008.

Terra satellite image, 12 May 2008 (NASA)

Above: the plume from Chaitén can be seen in the bottom left, extending eastwards across Argentina. Heavy ashfall can be seen north of the plume as a grey stain on the brown landscape of Patagonia. The original image with NASA commentary can be found here.

NASA images courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

For all our Chaitén coverage: Chaitén << The Volcanism Blog

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Chaitén: satellite imagery at MiGeo 14 May 2008

Posted by admin in activity reports, Chaitén, Chile, eruptions, geoscience, images, natural hazards.
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There is a superb collection of Chaitén satellite imagery at the MiGeo geology blog, which provides excellent coverage of all aspects of geology with a particular emphasis on natural hazards. The blog comes out of Peru, and is in Spanish.

The article gives access to more than thirty satellite images, which come from a wide range of sources (and are fully referenced and linked back to those original sources) and cover the whole period of the eruption from 2 May 2008 onwards.

The article is an invaluable resource for understanding the Chaitén eruption: Erupción del Volcán Chaitén, Chile.

For all our Chaitén coverage: Chaitén << The Volcanism Blog

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Chaitén: NASA satellite images, 8 and 10 May 2008 12 May 2008

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Two new satellite images of Chaitén volcano in eruption have been published at the NASA Earth Observatory Natural Hazards web site. The images were captured by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) equipment aboard NASA’s Terra satellite on 8 May 2008 (upper image) and 10 May 2008 (lower image). Links to the original pages containing the images at the Earth Observatory site are given in the captions below.

Terra satellite image, 8 May 2008 (NASA)

Above: image of Chaitén eruption captured by NASA’s Terra satellite, 8 May 2008. The eruption plume flows north-east from the volcano, dissipating over southern Argentina. The original image with NASA commentary can be found here.

Terra satellite image, 10 May 2008 (NASA)

Above: image of Chaitén eruption captured by NASA’s Terra satellite, 10 May 2008. There’s a lot more east in the direction of the plume than in the previous image, two days earlier. Heavy ashfall can be seen on the ground across Argentina. The original image with NASA commentary can be found here.

NASA images courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

For all our Chaitén coverage: Chaitén << The Volcanism Blog

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Chaitén: new satellite images from Earth Observatory 8 May 2008

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Two new satellite images of Chaitén volcano in eruption have been published at the NASA Earth Observatory Natural Hazards web site. Both images were captured by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) equipment on 6 May 2008, the first (upper) by NASA’s Terra satellite at 11:05 local time and the second (lower) by NASA’s Aqua satellite at 15:15 local time.

05 6 May 2008 (NASA)

Above: image of Chaitén eruption captured by NASA’s Terra satellite, 11:05 on 6 May 2008. The white plume can be seen deflected north-east from the volcano, then spreading eastwards across Argentina. Grey ash deposits mark the landscape south of the plume.

15 6 May 2008 (NASA)

Above: image of Chaitén eruption captured by NASA’s Aqua satellite, 15:15 on 6 May 2008. Since the first image was taken a few hours earlier the plume has crossed the whole width of Argentina and has reached the Atlantic Ocean over Golfo San Matías, about 800km south of Buenos Aires. Large areas of ashfall are visible on the landscape below.

Full-size images, commentary and links to further information from NASA: EO Natural Hazards: Chaiten volcano erupts.

For all our Chaitén coverage: Chaitén << The Volcanism Blog

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Chaitén: new NASA satellite images 7 May 2008

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Two new satellite images of Chaitén in eruption have been published at the NASA Earth Observatory Natural Hazards web site. The images were captured on 5 May 2008 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite and show the eruption plume from the volcano extending due east for 650 kilometres across Chile and Argentina, with a grey coating of ash visible on the landscape beneath.

Chaitén volcano erupts - natural colour image (NASA)

Above: Chaitén volcano erupts – natural colour image (NASA).

Chaitén volcano erupts - infrared image (NASA)

Above: Chaitén volcano erupts – infrared image (NASA).

These images have also been published at SpaceRef.com. Credit from original source: NASA images courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

For all our Chaitén coverage: Chaitén << The Volcanism Blog

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Chaitén: two interesting articles 7 May 2008

Posted by admin in Chaitén, Chile, eruptions, geoscience, volcano monitoring, volcanology.
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Two interesting articles on the Chaitén eruption have been published at Suite101.com:

Chaiten volcano cloud height: overestimates of the Chaiten eruption cloud
‘News agencies are reporting cloud heights of 20 miles, which is a great exaggeration of the actual cloud height of about 3-7 miles based on scientific analysis’ – argues with the eruption cloud heights for Chaitén reported by the media, and explains the methods scientists use to judge cloud heights (cloud shadow clinometry, cloud temperature, cloud trajectory).

Satellite detects Chaiten eruption: Chaiten volcano, Chile erupting ash into the atmosphere
‘The ash being emitted by the May 2008 eruption of Chaiten Volcano is detected using earth observing satellites’ – discusses the role of satellite imagery in monitoring volcanic eruption clouds with reference to the Chaitén eruption, and includes two satellite images of Chaitén (infrared and visible spectrums).

Both articles are great examples of clear, concise and accessible science writing. The author is Alexandra Matiella Novak, a doctoral student at Michigan Technical University who researches the monitoring of volcanic ash clouds in the upper atmosphere using satellite data.

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