Chaiten Volcano Erupts

Chaiten Volcano Erupts

Two and a half months after its May 2, 2008, eruption, Chile’s Chaitén Volcano continued releasing a plume of volcanic ash and steam. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite took this picture on July 19, 2008.

According to the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency, a plume from Chaitén traveled approximately 130 nautical miles (240 kilometers) toward the northwest before changing direction and heading north-northeast on July 19. This image shows the volcano’s plume blowing away from the volcano toward the northwest. Immediately southwest of the volcano, a slight discoloration of the ocean water suggests the presence of waterborne volcanic ash. Skies are relatively clear over the snowcapped mountains.

Quiet for more than 9,000 years before its May 2008 eruption, Chaitén is a caldera volcano. This type of volcano forms when the magma chamber completely empties during an eruption, causing the summit to collapse and create a circular depression.

You can download a 250-meter-resolution KMZ file of the volcano and its plume suitable for use with Google Earth.

NASA images courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.