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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.
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.
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.