VDAP Images: Chaitén, Chile

First eruption in about 400 years

Earthquakes felt near Chaitén late on April 30, 2008 provided the first warning of increasing volcanic activity in the area. Twenty-seven hours later, on May 2, 2008, the volcano erupted with an ash column that rose to about 17 km and lasted for 6 hours. Chaitén continued to erupt from May 2nd to May 8th with nearly continuous ash emission and intermittent large explosions. An effective response by Chile’s SERNAGEOMIN (Servicio Nacional de Geologia y Mineria) and ONEMI (Oficina Nacional de Emergencia del Ministerio del Interior) led to full evacuation of the town before May 5th when heavy rains generated lahars and devastated Chaitén town.

On May 8, the U.S. Government offered to send a VDAP team to help SERNAGEOMIN install real-time seismic monitoring. One week later, a VDAP team and 15 trunks of gear were in Chile.

The eruption was the first from Chaitén caldera in about 400 years. For more information, please see the Chaitén response page.

Click on the images below for the original photo. All photos by USGS, except for top left, which is courtesy of SERNAGEOMIN.

  • Eruption of Chaitén, May 2008

  • View of vent on 27 May 2008

  • Chaitén town, May 2008

  • Bringing in equipment on 20 May 2008.

  • Chaitén town, May 2008

  • Chaitén town, May 2008

  • More equipment on 20 May 2008.

  • Chaitén town, May 2008

  • Mud flow deposit inside room in Chaitén town.