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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This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated.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.
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.
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.