Chaiten 2008


Ashfall from the 2008 Chaitén eruption was deposited over the temperate climate of Los Lagos province of Chile, used for cattle grazing, and the semi-arid region used for the sheep and goat farming in Río Negro province in Argentina.

Pastoral land in the area surround Chaitén and Futaleufu in the Andean region, Chile was severely impacted by ash covering, which reached thicknesses of 350 mm (14 in), leaving it isolated (Wilson, unpublished data). Without the addition of supplementary feed or evacuation, many animals died due to starvation.

Ash thicknesses across the region, with ongoing remobilization, resulted in limited to no access to uncontaminated pasture, providing the biggest issue for the preservation of animal health. This further worsened with heavy snow and rainfall in the Andean region, creating a frozen layer on the surface containing the deposited ash. Even with the rainfall aiding ash to be incorporated into the soil, coarse grained ash deposits with thicknesses of 200 mm (8 in) experienced in these regions were too large for this to occur. This left a large shortage of available land for livestock grazing.

With the inability to sustain or evacuate livestock, many farm owners were forced to sell there stock and abandon farmland for much lower prices. These were ongoing issues for many farms in the region due to ash remobilization, with many farmers experiencing vegetation shearing and reburial.


Some horticulture was able to be sustained in the transitional region from semi-arid and temperate climates. These were mostly tomatoes being housed in makeshift shelters or greenhouses, and likely only survived due to the reduction of exposure to ongoing remobilization.