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Chaiten Volcanic Eruption Case Study

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Chaitén Eruption location map for Chaitén volcano Where did it happen? (written description, map of the location) Chaitén is a small volcanic caldera (cauldron-like volcanic feature normally formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption) located in southern Chile. The volcano is 3km in diameter and is located 17km west of the Michinmahuida volcano and 10km northeast of the town on Chaiten, hence the name of the volcano. When did it happen? (date, duration, sequence of events, pace of management and recovery) The largest and most recent eruption was in May 2008, but before this, the volcano consisted mainly of a rhyolitic lava dome which was last active 9400 years ago. On 2nd May 2008, Chaitén began erupting violently, producing many plumes, pyroclastic flows and lahars, and creating a new lava dome on the north side of the old dome. Chaitén continued to erupt from 2nd May to 8th May with nearly continuous ash emission and irregular large explosions. ...read more.


Further reports stated that the town’s supply of drinking water was suspended because of the danger of contamination from volcanic ash, so emergency water was brought in. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Fire fighters and government were all involved in the emergency. On 3rd May, it was reported that 1221 people were evacuated by the Chilean Navy, and a further 500 were to be evacuated by the end of the day. Further evacuations using ships with a capacity of 1000 people happened on the 4th May. More water was brought in by the Navy on the 4th May, and was given to the Futaleufu and Palena districts which were without portable water supplies. During the first week of the eruption, 80% of Chaitén town was damaged- sediment from flood waters buried buildings up to 1.5m and there was damage to the airport and marine facilities. ...read more.


PHOTOS: Chile Volcano Erupts With Ash, Lava, Lightning Who was affected by it happening? The total population of Chaitén town was affected as everyone was evacuated away to other towns and cities. Due to the evacuation though, only 1 person died, and this was an elderly person who died at sea while en route for Puerto Montt. The environment and town was damaged more than the population. Forests near to the volcano were burned by pyroclastic flows and lateral explosions, and large parts of southern Argentina and Chile were coated with ash, which has had long term consequences for agriculture. This has not always been bad though, as the ash from the volcano adds new minerals to the soil. Lahars caused flooding in Chaitén town, depositing ash mud up to a metre in height. This damaged many buildings and filled the original course of the Chaitén River past the town. Because of this, the river created a new course through Chaitén town, which destroyed much of the town by July 2008. ...read more.

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