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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This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated.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.
Several weeks after its eruption on May 2, 2008, Chile’s Chaitén Volcano continued releasing a plume of ash and steam. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on June 18, 2008. In this image, a plume blows westward away from the volcano, following a meandering path as it travels over the ocean. The volcanic plume is slightly darker and more diffuse than the nearby bright white clouds.
Chaitén is caldera volcano formed by a collapse of the volcanic summit that creates a circular depression. Prior to its May 2008 eruption, the volcano had been dormant for more than 9,000 years. According to the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program, overflights conducted in June 2008 revealed the formation of a new lava dome at Chaitén that exceeded the height of the previous lava dome. Between June 11 and 16, the volcano’s ash plumes rose to an altitude of 2.1 to 3.7 kilometers (7,000 to 12,000 feet).
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.