Eruption of the Chaitén volcano in Chile

Eruption of the Chaitén volcano in Chile

05 May 2008 00:00 UTC

Eruption of the Chaitén volcano in Chile
Eruption of the Chaitén volcano in Chile

On 2 May 2008 an old volcanic caldera erupted close to the coastal town of Chaitén in southern Chile.

Last Updated

06 November 2020

Published on

05 May 2008

More than 9,000 years after the last eruption, huge amounts of ash and gases were ejected to great heights for several days (activity is ongoing even even months after the first eruption).

 

by HansPeter Roesli and Jochen Kerkmann (EUMETSAT)

Some images of the eruption show the huge volcanic cloud (source: Spiegel Online) expanding at the tropopause, the fissure in the caldera (sourrce: Alberto Garcia) with the spewing ash, the lava dome (source: NASA) taken by ASTER on NASA's Terra and the plume crossing Argentina (source: NASA). More information on the Chaitén volcano may be found at the Smithsonians Global Volcanism Program .

With Meteosat-9's sensitivity to ash and SO2 their transport across the Southern Atlantic into the Indian Ocean could be monitored over several days. The hourly Meteosat-9 animation (3 May 06:00 UTC–06 May 09:00 UTC) shows the initial evolution in a sequence of the standard RGB enhancing the presence of ash and SO2. The 3-hourly Meteosat-9 animation (3 May 00:00 UTC–09 May 06:00 UTC) is a longer sequence at lower temporal resolution but spanning three more days and the whole part of the southern hemisphere covered by Meteosat-9.

Three frames taken from the latter animation are used to single out a couple of SO2 signals that tag the general circulation over the area. On frame 1 (4 May 6:00 UTC) the upper red arrow marks a pink-coloured ash plume and the lower red arrow shows the approximate position of a SO2 cloud. The blue arrow points to a second, light-greenish SO2 plume.

Two and a half days later, on frame 2 (6 May 21:00 UTC) the two SO2 clouds of the former frame move over to the longitude of South Africa with the respective trajectories (reddish arrow now north of bluish one). At the same time, over the Argentinean Atlantic coast yet another Chaiten plume (whitish arrow) is appearing again carrying ash and SO2.

While the SO2, marked with reddish and bluish arrows, appear to merge moving further into the Indian Ocean, on frame 3 (9 May 03:00 UTC) the SO2-part of the Argentina plume has moved on a more southern track (whitish arrow) than the patches seen before. New ash plumes continue to cover the coast from Argentina to southern Brazil. There are other SO2 patches in the sequence that can be followed.

All in all, the trajectories indicate clearly the meandering circulation, much in contrast to the SO2 tracks over the North Atlantic following the Kasatochi event in August 2008.

 

 

Eruption of the Chaitén volcano in Chile
Figure 1: Met-9 RGB Composite, IR12.0–IR10.8, IR10.8–IR8.7, IR10.8, 05 May 2008, 05:00 UTC

 

Large Area
Hourly Meteosat-9 animation (3 May 06:00 UTC–06 May 09:00 UTC)

 


Related Content

Fine ash mass loading from Terra MODIS (3 May 14:35 UTC, source: F. Prata)
Fine ash mass loading from Terra MODIS (5 May 14:20 UTC, source: F. Prata)