Chaitén Volcano Blows Again

More ash and aerosols headed for the stratosphere. Click to watch the Video from TVN:

(h/t to Jet Stream)

Here is the satellite image view of the first eruption:

Click for a much larger image from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

More imagery, thanks to Gary Galrud, recently from NOAA showing ash extent:

Click for a full sized image


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May 6, 2008 10:16 am

Anthony, off topic, I’m afraid, because I seem to have lost your e-mail address. I have just stumbled over a truly remarkable Englishman called Lewis Fry Richardson (1881-1953), here:
As a meteorologist, yourself, I wondered if you had ever heard of him? He was one of those amazing Victorian polymaths whose keen sense of curiosity led him into all sorts of different scientific enquiries including meterorology, fluid dynamics, fractal mathematics long before Mandelbrot, the application of mathematical techniques to psychology, to warfare … and so on and on and on. The paper, written by a family friend who later became a very high powered physicist/mathematician himself, is well worth a read. I just wondered if Richardson is still remembered in the world of meteorology? I was so taken with this remarkable man that I have posted on him over at my place, here:

Hmm doesn’t ring a bell.

May 6, 2008 10:20 am

anyone know what the VEI rating is?
again, if not more then VEI-4 at least, no major effects on climate.

May 6, 2008 10:40 am

Man! I am glad I don’t live where that video was being taken. It would likely cause long term psychological damage to me. Thanks for keeping us up-to-date, Anthony!

May 6, 2008 10:45 am

That looks just like or worse than St Helens of 1980.

May 6, 2008 11:10 am

NOAA says 60k ft and pretty big. I would bet VEI5 or greater on this one :/ thats pretty fricken big OSEI has new image

May 6, 2008 11:12 am

Is there a scale available on that picture?

Anthony Isgar
May 6, 2008 11:31 am

The problem is not how much effect this volcano will have, the problem is that the AGW zealots will claim that any cooling can be attributed to it and other eruptions that have been occurring the past year.

May 6, 2008 11:59 am

see also and seperate from Chaitén, The Nevado del Huila volcano, two weeks ago:

Pierre Gosselin
May 6, 2008 12:04 pm

Doesn’t look major to me.
But like terry, what’s VEI (so that we can all sleep peacefully tonight)?

Pierre Gosselin
May 6, 2008 12:20 pm

For VEI…
Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192 Clarice Nassif Ransom
Phone: 703-648-4299
Stephanie Hanna
Phone: 206-331-0335
Heidi Koontz
Phone: 303-202-4763
I just spoke with Heidi Koontz, who says she’ll check it out and get back to me. Should I hold my breath?

Gary Gulrud
May 6, 2008 1:05 pm
May 6, 2008 1:29 pm

Looks like a Plinian eruption.
An increase in eruptive force should be preceded by earthquakes. You can monitor them here. There were several mag 5 a few days ago, preceding or coinciding with the original eruption.

Robert Wood
May 6, 2008 1:41 pm

Dang, there goes the carbon budget!

May 6, 2008 2:08 pm

it’s a classic Plinian eruption but it looks to be more of a St. Helens then a Pinatubo. St. Helens did not have an effect on climate. El Chichon 2 years later did, however. Its spike is noticeable.
Now, coupled with the OTHER eruption in the Southern Hemisphere (Ecuador, I believe?) earlier this year, then MAYBE I’ll get on the “Volcanic Cooling for the SH for the Next Couple Years” boat. Otherwise, no, I remain unconvinced.

Dave Andrews
May 6, 2008 2:13 pm

OT, but personally I don’t like these coloured squares next to peoples names. I find them distracting to the posts.

May 6, 2008 2:16 pm

David Duff:
You mean Richardson of the Richardson number? (Also known as the inverse Froude number, depending on discipline.) Mechanical Engineers and Aeronautical have all heard of him because the Richardson number is important in natural convection and heat transfer and also to quantify turbulence for purposes of avionics.
Richardson was an oceanographer.

May 6, 2008 2:19 pm
No idea how much ejected medium has been blown out. Besides all the ash means crap anyway in the scheme of things I consider sulfur dioxide more important.. Obviously the ash is being blasted into the stratosphere that means the damage wont truly be known till we know how much sulfur dioxide was belted out. This means what kind of magma as far as I know?

May 6, 2008 2:21 pm

Ok just looked at what philip said…
5?!?!?! earthquakes to do something like this!?!? Is volcanic indicators being rewritten as we watch this? Whats the deal here?!?
I would demand answers if I was somebody rational in Volcanism studies

May 6, 2008 2:33 pm

[…] than 1500 have been evacuated from at-risk areas.  UK Telegraph has some amazing pics and Watt’s Up has video.  Here are a few […]

May 6, 2008 2:57 pm

Interesting article on S American volcano in 1600 causing a big freeze from Europe to Japan.,2933,354267,00.html
SlicerDicer, I assume you are refering to the absence of earthquakes over the last few days, despite the reported increase in eruption intensity yesterday. I thought that odd too, but it probably means we are probably not going to see a cataclysmic eruption.
However, if we do see more earthquakes then eruption would likely intensify. These kinds of eruptions can last for several months, so it aint over yet.

Jeff Alberts
May 6, 2008 3:00 pm

Is volcanic indicators being rewritten as we watch this? Whats the deal here?!?

Don’t know about volcanic indicators, but grammar seems to be taking a back seat.

May 6, 2008 3:41 pm

Anthony, I like the added color with the small icons preceding the screen name, but how can we upload our own selection? And what are the size parameters?
Jack Koenig, Editor
The Mysterious Climate Project
REPLY: Get a free wordpress account:
IMPORTANT: be sure to check “just a username please” at the bottom. Otherwise you’ll have to design a blog.
Then edit your profile settings to upload the picture.

May 6, 2008 4:50 pm

Plinian eruptions because of their explosive nature sometimes start at VEI 3.5.
It all depends on how long the eruption lasts. This is a caldera.
If this series of eruptions carry on for a length of time there could be case of another caldera being formed. The amount of ejecta totaled from the ongoing eruptions will eventually determine the VEI.
The ejecta need to rise above 25miles (40Km) to able to disperse around the globe and therefore affect the temperature. Most of the temperature affect will come from sulpha droplet particles which reflect sunlight.
There are some reports from Volcanologists in Chile that this is only the early stage of the eruption and much larger explosions could occur. Larger explosions were occurring yesterday (Tuesday) and even the journalists and government people decided to evacuate Chaiten township – These explosions were larger than the original eruption.
Interesting to note that a second township (60 km away) under the plume has nearly 25cm of fallout tephra. Some rain has fallen and the tephra has turned concrete like.
So far there has been no lateral blasts -pyrotechnic flows etc – all ejecta going up in the air – typical Plinian.
Watch this space.

Patrick Powell
May 6, 2008 5:41 pm

Anthony, a fellow met here…. doubled in Phys. Geog. , thought your readers may be interested in the latest from Chilean Geologists. Translated from spanish with google translator.
At least VEI 5, I’d bet VEI 6 by compleation. Ash cloud hit 20 miles (30 km), about 105,000 feet. Defintely enough to poke through the tropopause.
06.05.2008 SERNAGEOMIN report on Volcano Eruption Chaiten
The National Service of Geology and Mining reports that according to background visual and seismic collected from the date of the event Eruptive Volcano Chaiten, we conclude that can not be ruled out new explosion (s) major (s) and an eventual collapse of the eruptive column and / or dome Rhyolite.
Accordingly, SERNAGEOMIN maintains Volcanic Red Alert and launched a remote monitoring since the craft of the Navy Achilles, with daily overflights to monitor the eruptive behavior, especially the evolution of the stability of the dome and the eruptive column, as well as developments the seismicity associated.
It is noteworthy that during the morning on May 6, at 8:20 pm., The eruptive cycle flared with explosions and vigorous rhythmic higher energy holding a column Eruptiva wider and lateral expansion of about 30 km high in its initial phase, which was subsequently declining.
During a helicopter overflight conducted with police, at 10:00 pm. it was observed that the two craters explosion located in northern flank of the dome, joined into one with a diameter of approximately 800 m. The column declined slightly, and apparently there were no major pyroclastic flows associated, at least to the north, west and south. It was verified that the rivers increased their load of material.
The possibility exists that there is a collapse of the eruptive column and / or dome Rhyolite, which would generate pyroclastic flows. On the other hand, the fall of ashes will continue with accumulations whose thickness and accumulation rather than depend on the intensity of explosions and prevailing winds. It was ruled, by far, the emission of lava.
REPLY: Thanks Patrick for the effort, very informative.

May 6, 2008 5:49 pm

Further to what Anthony suggested, can we guess how quickly will the present cooling be blamed on this volcano. I will take a punt that it will be less than a year and within five, it will be marked on the IPCC graphs, with the temperature”adjustments” to suit.

Patrick Powell
May 6, 2008 6:05 pm

You welcome Anthony, love the site…. was just reading up on Cycle 24:) Low & Slow

May 6, 2008 7:48 pm

100,000 is certainly high enough to get stuff up in the atmosphere for a few years. That’s Pinitubo-level right there.
This is shaping up to be a perfect storm: Weak solar, PDO/AMO shift, and now vocanic cooling. 2010, we’re back to 1960s temps….

May 6, 2008 8:26 pm

The Google image shows a low elevation, wide caldera that doesn’t have the typical shape of a stratovolcano. The surrounding ridges and valleys do not look volcanic, but without a geology map its hard to tell. I wonder if this is a newer volcanic center.
BTW, I find it hard to believe that the caldera is as old as 9,000 years, especially this far south (note glaciers surrounding the other volcanic peak to the east).

anna v
May 6, 2008 8:28 pm

Anthony Isgar (11:31:41) :
“The problem is not how much effect this volcano will have, the problem is that the AGW zealots will claim that any cooling can be attributed to it and other eruptions that have been occurring the past year.”
They will have a hard time convincing the masses if another winter like the past one occurs in China and North America. Masses feel heat, they believe the warmers, they feel cold, they believe the coolers. Therefore there will be a respite before the catastrophic energy curtailing measures are planned, and if the sun cycle goes as predicted, this might be enough to scrap the whole CO2 scare.

May 6, 2008 8:51 pm

My prediction at Climate Audit (from 3 months ago) of a -0.2C global temperature anomaly for 2008 after a VEI4+ eruption before June is starting to look pretty good.
Not that it means anything, except perhaps that predicting climate, so influenced by factors we can’t predict like volcanos, is a fools game.

Julian Williams in the UK
May 6, 2008 9:16 pm

I agree with Anna, the global warming fanatics are already finding it hard to hold the line in public opinion. In an article in the Sunday Telegraph (UK) this site was widely quoted and the comments from the UK public were very hostile to the global warming theories. A cool summer and hard winter will really be hard to explain away.

May 6, 2008 9:36 pm

In response to SlicerDicer, this article says only a few thousand tons of sulfur dioxide has been emitted from the volcano:

May 6, 2008 10:37 pm

On Google Earth you can clearly see a caldera 2km across and about 80% filled by a lava dome.
A 2km across caldera is fairly small and indicates the last eruption wasn’t that large, a bit larger than the Mount St Helens Eruption.

May 6, 2008 10:46 pm

Early days yet bogdon6, I notice a lot of comments about climate effect are coming out of the agencies far away from the action. The news reports are some time behind. This eruption phase could go on for some time.

Anthony Isgar
May 6, 2008 11:01 pm

anna v
I would really really like to hope you are correct. The only problem is there has been no extra heat since 1998, there was cooling from 1955-1977, and the great global warming scare has continued unabated. I would really like to believe the masses will rebel against energy curtailing, but have the sinking suspicion they will ignorantly believe what is reported on the major media outlets.
I forget who did the study, but they found that on average there is nearly 20 pro-AGW stories reported around the world for every anti-AGW story.
I have come up with a new name for the AGW zealots. From now on I will refer to them as Big Weather, since any skeptics are automatically referred to as Big Oil. It is amusing to see that Al Gore made 50 million just from the box office income from his movie. This does not take into account the 100k he charges per speech, and the money he has gotten from his books and tv shows. I wish Big Oil would pay me that much to be a skeptic.

Frank Barling
May 7, 2008 12:15 am

It’s been suggested that a large eruption might cool the planet. While, this may be true over the course of a year or two, there has been research suggesting that such eruptions could increase the likelihood of an el nino taking place Indeed, the recent eruptions of El Chichon (1983) and Pinatubo (1991) were both followed by el nino events and did not lead to longer-term cooling. This would also be consistent with Le Chatelier’s principle, where a change in a stable system prompts an opposing response, returning the system back to equilibrium.

Pierre Gosselin
May 7, 2008 1:20 am

Thanks for the informative link.
“But the possibility of the Chaiten volcano affecting Earth’s climate is probably fairly low, experts said.”
This V is not big. Predictions of temperatures sinking 0.2°C and other disaster scenarios already being floated here are premature I think. Everyone can make predictions and hope to get it right. After all, every broken clock is correct twice a day.
Personally I doubt the AGW alarmists will be using this eruption to cover their CO2 blunder – it’s too late for that. The oceans and atmosphere have started cooling years ago. And there’s plenty of data showing Vs of this scale having little impact on climate. A volcano of this scale cannot cause cooling beyond a year or two.
A VEI of 4 means scant impact of the climate. A VEI of 5 means “measurable”. Unless you have a 6, don’t expect climate changes you’ll notice, unless you have good instruments.
Okay, maybe a volcano VEI 5+ could be the “tipping” mechanism in conjunction with changing PDO, AMO, solar activity blah blah blah. But we’ve learned, at least on the warming side, that tipping mechanisms really don’t pan out.

May 7, 2008 1:27 am

If its a dome collapse, the collapse could lead to an explosive event like Mazama where successive collapses opened up more of the lava pool leading to more eruptions leading to more collapses.
“The collapse and the erosive ring eruptions fed each other – the sinking volcano pushed magma upward and the erupting material both lubricated the downward subsidence and eroded the sides, making it easier for much of Mazama to sink into the earth.”

May 7, 2008 1:35 am

Anthony -I’d echo a comment up thread that the volcanic explosivity index needs to be 5 or over to make an impact on climate – any ideas what this one is?
I’d note from a picture on your earlier thread that the ash and aerosol seemed to be spreading out at the base of the tropopause and wonder if this is significant for the non-spreading of SO2 aerosol around the globe – though I’m no expert here.
Back home later today and will send some notes and charts on past volcanos. I see you had Peter Stotts climate model up here the other day from which you will see that he models significant cooling following Krakatau. But if you look at the temperature record you’ll see that there wasn’t actually any cooling. In fact if you look at all major erruptions since Krakatau you’ll struggle to see any link between them and the temperature record. It’s amazing isn’t it?
This observation, I believe, has profound implications for the whole AGW hypothesis.

May 7, 2008 1:36 am

Lucia, yes, his work on the diffusion of particles in turbulence gave rise to the ‘Richardson number’ but he was more of a meteorologist rather than an oceanographer – well, actually, he was all sorts of things, in fact anything that aroused his curiosity and to which he could apply his mathematics. Please do read the affectionate panegyric by a family friend, Prof. J.C.R. Hunt, and discover a remarkable man who would have been right at home here on this site:

May 7, 2008 6:31 am

Gary Gulrud, in the other thread you asserted that shortly after 1812 global atmosheric CO2 concerntration were as high as 450ppm, do you have a source? Current belief is that CO2 has about a 100 year life in the atmosphere, both of these can’t be true.

May 7, 2008 7:09 am

Meanwhile, Al Gore’s at it again
We have found our next global crisis, and its name is Al Gore.

Evan Jones
May 7, 2008 7:31 am

They will have a hard time convincing the masses
Anna is wise. This is a “feel the heat” kind of deal.
Mobs (as it were) have certain other things in common, too. They tend to be iconoclastic. An “enemy”, in this case, the “deniers” and “corporate shills” fill that role.
The enemy is broken down into two categories: stupid (deniers of reality) and corrupt (corporate shills). This results in feelings of intellectual and moral superiority (it is actually conformist envy). As Heinlein once put it, “Hell hath no fury like a pacifist.”
However, that sort of crowd (other than the leadership) also are notoriously fickle. All one has to do is direct their attention towards a different icon . . . a couple more bad winters, and anything is possible.

May 7, 2008 7:36 am

Patrick, outstanding post there. Thanks!
ok…I *might* jump on the bandwagon now. But, as in all things I’m going to be a skeptic until I see some numbers.

May 7, 2008 8:30 am

One can see that Chaiten continues to erupt explosively by looking at the time-motion visible satellite pictures at ADDS. A plume appears in this morning’s pictures.

May 7, 2008 8:48 am

Here is an interesting blog on Chaiten:

Gary Gulrud
May 7, 2008 9:10 am

aaron: A source is Beck’s paper, available at Icecap, a graphic:
The graphic shows the 450ppm, not the two eruptions which aren’t his concern. A support of this paper is somewhere at NZClimateScience by physical chemist Dr. Kaufmann (sp?).
My source for the 1812 unidentified eruption isn’t immediately coming to mind, probably Reid Bryson, on the volcanic, record also at Icecap. This maybe an SO2 graph, I don’t remember.
The connection between the eruptions and the 450ppm peak are my own.
Now about the CO2 requiring a century to scrub? Mythology is public domain, I require no citation.

May 7, 2008 10:26 am

Does this mean that Chile will have to reduce there CO2 emissions this year?
Seriously though, does anyone have a number as to how much CO2 this is releasing each day? How does it compair to say Canada’s anual CO2 emissions?

Retired Engineer
May 7, 2008 11:02 am

If this results in the smallest bit of cooling, will NASA have to ‘adjust’ the temperature records up again ?
With St. Helens as an example, they’ll at least get some pretty sunsets for a while.

May 7, 2008 11:03 am

Philip_B said: “Interesting article on S American volcano in 1600 causing a big freeze from Europe to Japan.”
Although the article appeared on the FNC, it was written by Andrea Thompson for “Live Science,” a publication that’s so often hystericle over GW, that you might take anything they say with a grain of salt.
Jack Koenig, Editor
The Mysterious Climate Project

Gary Gulrud
May 7, 2008 11:21 am

The paper I got my ‘20% gas required to support a the plinian column’ figure from studied the CO2 proportion and found it to vary very widely from <<5%, which might have been the mode, to 50%. I wasn’t paying attention to the other components, like SO2.
Another paper, widely quoted by AGW believers, said steady state volcanic emissions were about 200M tons per year.
For calculations then I’d use normal crustal abundance at roughly 0.03%.
Pinatubo dumped 20M tons of S02 alone into the atmosphere. I calculated CO2 to be in low G ton range using the VEI 6 estimate of cubic kilometers ejected. AGW is supposedly 6 G tons per year.
This one has already deposited up to 10 inches over 1/3 the area of Minnesota.

May 7, 2008 11:33 am

Some seismic data can be found here:

May 7, 2008 12:30 pm

How do they know how much SO2 gets ejected?

May 7, 2008 12:38 pm

I have a friend who lives in chile, a bit away from the volcano, but i havent heard from them in days. They did say it was devastating, so I am just waiting.

May 7, 2008 12:42 pm

For those, like me, who aren’t knowledgeable about VEI (Volcanic Explosivity Indexes):

Gary Gulrud
May 7, 2008 1:15 pm

Kauffman was an organic chemist. Paper not indexed under his name:

May 7, 2008 1:22 pm

A couple of points.
Plinian volcanic eruptions end in a final large eruptive event. We don’t know how large and what the VEI number is until that event happens, which may be weeks or months away.
The long term effect of volcanos (of this size) on climate is not the issue. The issue is their effect over a one to two year time frame. And we know from the historical record that volcanic eruptions can cause widespread crop failure and famine.
A wider point is that were that to occur, then it would be a manmade disaster, because we failed to prepare for a predictable event. Just as the current cyclone disaster in Myanmar is largely manmade through failure to prepare.

May 7, 2008 2:57 pm

Remember this guys this puppy been corked up for last 9 to 10 thousands years and thats a long time. Who knows how long this these eruptions will be going on for. Maybe until it empties itself out. I bet there is another big one going in weeks or days to come. This might shut up warmers for a while.

Gary Gulrud
May 7, 2008 3:10 pm

Following James, the Yellowstone caldera, 70km wide, is our own monster-VEI 8-producing volcano. Residing above a Mantle hotspot it has moved as the continent has moved over the hot spot the last millions of years.
The mother of all calderas is Toba in Sumatra 200km wide.

May 7, 2008 3:55 pm

Thanks Gary. But I’m not quite sure what he’s measuring (and it’s just NH).
Anyone know where I can get data for estimates of CRF during the holocene? (want to compare to histogram of VEI > 4, VEI > 5, and VEI > 6)

May 7, 2008 3:58 pm

Philip B said: “A wider point is that were that to occur, then it would be a manmade disaster, because we failed to prepare for a predictable event. Just as the current cyclone disaster in Myanmar is largely manmade through failure to prepare.”
By extension, that seems to imply ALL disasters, past present, and future could be considered “man made.” IMHO, there’s simply no way man can be so clairvoyant as to be able to prepare for all disasters.
Jack Koenig, Editor
The Mysterious Climate Project

May 7, 2008 6:36 pm

Just testing my new wp account to see if the avatar works.

May 7, 2008 6:37 pm

I guess not!!!

May 7, 2008 6:51 pm

McGrats, you should remove the roof from your home, because there is simply no way you can be so clairvoyant as to be able to predict when it is going to rain.

May 8, 2008 7:47 am

Well, based on this article,
the annual total of CO2 from all volcanoes is around 200 million tones, which is just slightly higher than Canada’s annual CO2 emissions. Now this article has a strong ‘warmie” bias, so, may or may not have the number accurate.

May 8, 2008 8:04 am

Follow-up on what Philip_B said, others think a very large one is to follow:

Gary Gulrud
May 8, 2008 2:21 pm

While no expert, I see no reason to dispute the 200M ton figure, perhaps even as an average. A VEI 6 eruption is due a couple/century, a VEI 7 due a couple/millenium.
Where they go wrong is using arithmetic and ‘sinks’ and balanced equations(a la chemical reactions), instead of fluences with Diff.Eq. in related-rate calculations. As Spencer pointed out, today’s AGW fluence is 1/24,000th that of Gaia.

May 8, 2008 4:30 pm

es horrible… es horrible …

May 8, 2008 8:14 pm

Hi everybody,
Below is a video with a thunderstorm in the volcano (move ahead up to 20 seconds).
(If I made any mistake inserting the video I will appreciate if anybody can help me to put in the rigth way)

May 12, 2008 8:37 am

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