New Chaitén Volcano Satellite Imagery

The Chaitén volcano in Chile has produced quite a bit of ash and aersols.

Two new satellite images of Chaitén in eruption have been made available at the NASA Earth Observatory Natural Hazards web site.

The images were takenon May 5th, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite and show the eruption plume from the volcano extending east for 650 kilometers across Chile and Argentina. The satellite pictures below show the plume spanning the entire width of South America, the blue dot marks the location.

Image of the globe centered at -50 degrees latitude and -70 degrees longitude. 

If you look closely, you can see a grey coating of ash visible on the surface.

Chaitén volcano erupts - natural colour image (NASA)

Chaitén volcano eruption – visible light image

Chaitén volcano erupts - infrared image (NASA)

Chaitén volcano eruption – infrared + visible composite image

The distinction between ash on or near the ground, the volcanic plume, and clouds is more evident in the lower infrared composite image. This image was made with a combination of infrared and visible light. Consisting of ice crystals and water vapor, the clouds are turquoise (ice) laced with white (water vapor). The warmer plume of ash and steam is white. The ash on or near the ground is a semi-translucent white. Hints of plant-covered land (bright green) are visible through the ash.

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May 9, 2008 12:34 am

On the image posted a couple of days ago you could clearly see two separate plumes. Whereas now its just a single plume, which confirms the report that two separate vents combined into one, a day or so ago.
BTW, no earthquake activity, so increase in intensity anytime soon is unlikely.
If this continues for several months then we will see SH dimming and cooling. Also reports of strong sulphur smell under the ash cloud.

Pierre Gosselin
May 9, 2008 12:43 am

Can anyone say anything about how this plume compares with past eruptions and whether it will cause some meaningful atmospheric changes?

May 9, 2008 5:12 am

Good video and pictures translated by Google (make sure you use the complete address)

May 9, 2008 5:18 am

I am not sure the translated address transferred correctly, here is the untranslated address. You can run it through Google for a translation.

May 9, 2008 5:29 am

Chatien is probably going to erupt for weeks. Ok, I’ll admit now there could be some possible effects on climate, but we’re going to have to wait several weeks until we see any measurable effect.

May 9, 2008 6:58 am

Wow, we need to start looking much further east to see what is really happening!

Mike from Canmore
May 9, 2008 8:20 am

My gut feel says this isn’t large enough to really effect the Global TEmp, (could be wrong). Up close it looks massive. Really makes you start to think about the size of the Krakatoa eruption.

May 9, 2008 8:23 am

The latest ADDS imagery shows the plume extending out over the Falklands nearly to New Georgia Island then splitting with some going North but most of it heading South.

May 9, 2008 8:25 am

As each new technological tool becomes available, I again become aware of how fortunate we all are to alive now and here.
That site has some amazing images of the Burma cyclone damage as well as the volcano material.

Gary Gulrud
May 9, 2008 1:11 pm

From Volcanism Blog at
“Lara estimated the quantity of ash so far expelled by the volcano as two cubic kilometres, and he said that the eruption plume (the reporter calls it ’smoke’) reached an altitude of 15 kilometres.”

May 9, 2008 4:37 pm

Info on Volcanic cooling effects here
According to NASA monitoring the SO2 content has so far not been large compared to the total of ejecta. However this could change as the eruption continues.
The ash fall surrounding the volcano will cause some problems particularly in the farming areas.
There has been a report that another crater has emerged on the western side of the dome.

Brian D
May 9, 2008 5:56 pm

Saturday 10th May 2008
Chaitén Volcano, Chile
Eruptions continue at Chaitén volcano in Chile. Small pyroclastic flows have been observed at the volcano descending eastwards into Raya river. Yesterday, the eruption column reached an altitude of 14 km at 2pm, which drifted northeast. A new crater has opened up at the western base of the dome. Seismic monitoring equipment has been moved from the town of Chaitén to a safer location on Talcán island. The number of volcano-tectonic earthquakes remains constant at 35 events per day, concentrated on the outer regions of the volcano. Two large explosions occurred on 6th and 7th May (23:35 hr). A shallow reservoir of magma at 5 km depth has been ascending towards the surface. Breaking of rock in the conduit due to magma ascent has been responsible for the large explosions. An ongoing hazard at the volcano is the collapse of eruption columns, or dome collapse, creating pyroclastic flows which descend radially from the volcano into adjacent valleys. Helicopter overflights will continue to visually monitor the volcano as well as retrieve seismic data. The alert level remains at the highest rating, RED.

May 9, 2008 9:07 pm

Good almost up to date info at this site. worth bookmarking if your are interested.

May 10, 2008 12:16 am

John Seach has regular updates on the eruption.

May 10, 2008 2:54 am

A Kamchatka volcano has started to erupt after a moderate quake.
A Northern and Southern hemisphere double-whammy would not be good news for the Earth’s climate.

May 10, 2008 6:16 am

Some quite interesting images…………..
Any comments on the intense electrical activity ??

May 10, 2008 9:49 am

Phillip_B, at any given time there are 10 volcanoes or more in eruption. I follow them at this site:
You can also look at large historical eruptions at this link: try to link them up with down spikes in the global temperature anomaly. There are quite a few that did not have any effects on the global temperature anomaly at all.
It is waaaaaaaaay too early to tell to make assumptions about Chaiten and any other volcano that might be in eruption right now.

May 10, 2008 5:07 pm

As Terry has asserted, It is way to early to make any long term judgements about the effects that Chaiten may have.
In 1883,Krakatau’s initial large eruptions took place in May. It was August when the great eruption and collapse occurred.
Sabreman. These electrical effects are normal. One of the hazards getting stuck in the wrong place during a volcanic eruption is being struck by lightning.
A very good source of info is on John Seach’s site. (As has been pointed out earlier.) –

May 11, 2008 12:36 am

Terry, these plinian ash column eruptions (the ones that have the potential to affect the climate) occur about 8 times a century. Two at the same time would be a once in several thousand years event.

Gary Gulrud
May 12, 2008 2:48 pm

Courtesy of sondrak:
2000 paper, how could I have missed that?

May 12, 2008 11:24 pm

Gary, not only the 6th Century. The end of the warm period in the 13th Century may also be attributed to Krakatau. There were some Vulconologists from the U.S. as well as some representatives form the Indonesian Volcanological Institute. (V.S.I.) who were poking around Tanjung karang and Lampung (at the bottom of Sumatera) looking for evidence of this many years ago. These guys had a film documentary team with them so I don’t know if there was a doco made. I haven’t been able to find any documents related to this search.
Apparently they found some sedimentary and tree ring evidence regarding the sixth and the 13th century eruptions and tree rings.

Gary Gulrud
May 16, 2008 12:43 pm
June 23, 2008 3:54 pm
Christian Riffo
July 1, 2008 9:42 am

Chaiten’s volcano still erupting and provocated more destruction in Chaiten’s town. The flood of Blanco river has left only destruction on many houses olmost 40% of town is under flood. This is product of intensive rain over erosion slope provocated by forest loss take it bay “lahar” after the Chaiten’s eruption.
In personal way I’ve been there on january 2005 in a hostel called “la iquiqueña” . A very Quite Town without violence and corruption olmost a paradise in the middle of a beauty landscape.
I believe the eruption helps to create the conditions to a climate change in long terms like any eruption that remains for a long time.

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