More than five months after its initial explosive eruption, Chile’s Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano continues to produce impressive plumes of ash. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite acquired this unusually cloud-free image on November 16, 2011. A plume of ash and steam drifts about 100 kilometers southwest from the erupting vent. The mountains around the volcano and the plain to the east are coated in a layer of ash after many months of activity.
Most of the ash is from the powerful early eruption. The first plumes flew high into the atmosphere and circled the globe, stopping air traffic from South America to New Zealand. Volcanic ash can clog and stall a jet engine. The eruption at Puyehue-Cordón Caulle is now a minor eruption, but the fine ash is still capable of interfering with local air travel warned the Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN) on November 16. The eruption may also cause lahars, a flood and/or landslide of volcanic ash mixed with water from rain or melted snow.
Puyehue-Cordón Caulle is a large volcanic complex containing both the Puyehue stratovolcano and the Cordón Caulle fissure complex, where the current eruption is happening. The Cordón Caulle geothermal area is the largest active geothermal area in the southern Andes, says the Global Volcanism Program.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Holli Riebeek.