There’s nothing like a big volcano to remind one of our precarious hold on planet earth. Thanks to James for drawing my attention to Chaiten, and the fabulous pictures, via: Alan Sullivan, nuestroclima and the NASA earth observatory.

Along with genetics1, volcanism was the other thing that could have kept me from physics … neither quite made it :-).

Anyway, I’m not quite sure what sort of volcano it is, nor of the real import of the explosions thus far, but as a caldera type volcano it could be more impressive yet … if it’s even vaguely similar to Taupo. When I was a kid we grew up with stories of the 7m deep pyroclastic flow in Napier (a little over 100 km away).

comments (1)

Alan Sullivan (on Friday 09 May, 2008)

Thanks for the link. That’s a big caldera. I’ve heard of it. New Zealand, I believe.

Pre-eruption Chaiten was just a small crater in hilly country. There was no mountain, nor was there any great watery hole. The crater, not properly a caldera, was less than a mile across, and mostly filled with a lava dome that probably formed after the last eruption.

In my first Chaiten post, I included a Landsat image of this very unimpressive feature. It formed about 9700 years ago. That may have been its first eruption. The fresh outbreak formed a new crater a short distance from the previous one. Yesterday’s explosion merged the two craters into a much larger feature. Far worse may be coming.

  1. you can read that phrase how you like :-)