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.
After its initial eruption on May 2, 2008, Chile’s Chaitén Volcano remained active in the days and weeks that followed, releasing a near-constant plume and blanketing the region in ash. This false-color image uses thermal radiation to make an image of the volcano and its surroundings. The hottest area in this picture is at the lava dome in the volcano’s caldera. The purple-black plume blowing northeast from the summit is much colder.
In May 2008, the 4,000 residents of the fishing town of Chaitén were evacuated after the eruption of Chaitén Volcano 10 kilometers (5.4 miles) to the northeast. In addition to the threat of ashfall or an explosive eruption, the town is being flooded as ash and debris from the volcano choke the surrounding rivers.
Three days after its surprise eruption on May 2, the Chaitén volcano of southern Chile was still pumping out dense clouds of ash. The plume extended over the Andes Mountains, across Argentina, and hundreds of kilometers over the Atlantic Ocean.