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Chaitén - The Forgotten Volcano

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posted on Jan, 19 2009 @ 09:41 PM
Chaitén is I believe a forgotten volcano. Actually you could say for the most part it is an unknown volcano. At least to the masses. Everyone knows about Yellowstone. Very few know about Chaitén. Did you know this volcano that was dormant for thousands of years erupted in May of 2008? Did you know it has been erupting in one way or another virtually nonstop?

Dome building has been going at a historic rate for many months. In fact in these two images I captured you can see the before pic from August and the after pic from a couple of days ago.

January 2009

August 2008

Today the volcano experienced a series of explosive eruptions with apparently some force. Here is a video of the explosion. The video is not my work. This came from another site which I will include at the bottom of this post as a reference.

Earlier in 2008 the author of the Fresh Bilge blob Alan Sullivan theorized that a number of earthquakes leading up to the eruption of the volcano perhaps outlined the magma chamber. I used those points to calculate an estimated chamber size. This was my theory on the overall volume of the chamber...

Lets assume those 5 big quakes marked the outline of the magma chamber. You would be looking at an oblong chamber that is about 45km from one end to another and 30km from one side to another. Give or take a couple of km in length of width. Basically it would look like a stretched out oval. Using what little I remember from geometry I split the thing in half and calculated the area of a parabola. Each half would be 230 km^2. So total surface area would be 460 km^2. Calculating the volume would be a nightmare.

Looking at the number for Yellowstone they have it at 60km x 40km and 10km from top to bottom of the chamber. If a cube that would be 24,000 km^3. But it isn't. The USGS estimates the capacity at 15,000 km^3 or 62.5% of the cubed volume. Since the dimensions above were similar in shape I am going to apply their percentage to Chaiten. But since the chamber is smaller I am going to assume from top to bottom it is smaller as well. This calculation assumes 5km instead of 10km. So 45km x 30km x 5km * .625 = 4,219 km^3.

It is speculated on Sullivan's site that this new large and unstable dome could collapse into the chamber resulting in a massive eruption perhaps larger than Tambora. If my chamber calculation is correct the eruption would be catastrophic.

Chaitén Volcano is another matter. When the weather cleared yesterday afternoon. the mountain gave a fine show of fuming and ash ejection. The rate of dome growth remains extremely high — the immense pile enlarges visibly from week to week. If this trend continues, the dome will be soon spalling hot avalanches outside the buried caldera and into the valley that leads toward Chaitén town.

As the months of this unprecedented pileup pass, I get an uneasy feeling that the outcome of this process will not be a new mountain, thousands of feet higher than the old caldera rim, but a new caldera of much greater size. The mass of dome material must now amount to many cubic kilometers, and who knows how much more might emerge in a caldera-forming blowout. We could be talking of a Tambora sized event — or worse.

There are relatively few places where you can get any kind of news on this volcano which amazes me when you consider the potential devastation related to a large scale collapse and explosion. You aren't going to find anything in the mainstream news because they honestly don't know about this volcano and even if they knew of it chances are they wouldn't know the potential danger and would treat it as they would any other volcano in the world. That is to say they would likely ignore it.

Keep an eye on Chaitén as we could be witnessing history in the making. What history? Perhaps the largest eruption in 200 years.


posted on Jan, 19 2009 @ 09:57 PM
Holy crap, I clicked one of your source links and they are reporting a dome collapse at that Volcano, I'm no expert but isn't that what happens before the "big one"?

A large-scale explosive dome collapse took place at Chaitén between late morning and early afternoon today, beginning at around 10:59 local time. The picture above, from the north-facing DGAC camera at Chaitén airfield, shows the scene during this event at 11:54. For the full sequence of 21 images, click on ‘more’ below.

They have it updated with pictures and video.

[edit on 19-1-2009 by Walkswithfish]

posted on Jan, 19 2009 @ 10:30 PM
This volcano has been marked as active on the RSOE site for some months now. Unfortunately it is marked as being below Africa near Antarctica. Thanks for the post, it is interesting.

posted on Jan, 19 2009 @ 10:55 PM
I'm not sure a partial dome collapse is a sign the big one is coming or not. But it should be watched.

This volcano is being listed as below Africa? lol. It is in Chile. But it is very far south and the odds of it having an impact on the northern hemisphere would be very slim. You'd need a VEI7 with a great SO2 release. So far this volcano doesn't appear to have that kind of chemical makeup.

posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 11:26 PM
reply to post by Indy

Chaiten Volcano is indeed amazing. A continued series of erupting with ash, gases, and other material coming from within this volcano for almost a year has to have a profound empact on local and regional eco systems. Since Chaiten is a very remote and hard to reach area little is reported. Argentina seems to want to treat this event lightly.


posted on Nov, 3 2009 @ 08:06 AM
Chaiten still currently on RED alert, with Pyroclastic flows as a result of degassing from 3 Domes Capping the peak. residents want to get back to their homes but obviously authorities are clearly advising them that with increasing seismic readings and further activity expected, any hope of them going back home soon isnt to be expected.

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