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Chaiten Volcano Erupts
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
Chile’s Chaitén Volcano continued erupting in mid-May 2008, releasing plumes of ash and steam. On May 19, 2008, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image. This picture shows the volcano’s plume blowing toward the north-northeast and mixing with nearby clouds. To the south, skies are clear, and reveal a wide expanse of snow cover over Argentina.
By the time MODIS acquired this picture, Chaitén had buried much of the area in ash, disabled a nearby airfield, clogged river channels, and threatened the region with lahars—mudflows of volcanic material. Besides the volcanic plume, this image shows other evidence of the volcano’s activity. The patches of beige and blue-green along the coastline near the volcano likely result from volcanic pumice floating on the water’s surface.
Dormant for more than 9,000 years, the Chaiten Volcano in southern Chile began to erupt on May 2, 2008, forcing thousands of residents from their homes. In the months that followed, the volcano remained active.