What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Three years of the Chaitén eruption: Understanding the perception of volcanic hazards

May 6, 2011, 8:28 PM
Xin_4720206271508171159014

Last week I marked my third blogiversary - and acknowledged that I started this blog looking for information on an eruption that had started in Chile. That eruption turned out to be Chaitén, a rhyolite volcano that hadn't erupted in over 9,000 years. We were all stunned by the images of the giant eruption plume (see below) that sent ash across all of southern South America. The domes that have grown in the Chaitén caldera continue to grow - now at a much slower rate than in the year after the eruption began - but it is now over 3 years of emissions from the domes with the caldera

The eruptive plume from Chaitén seen on May 4, 2008

One of the biggest issues that followed the eruption of the volcano Chaitén was what to do about the town Chaitén, located ~10 km from the caldera. The town was inundated with ash, lahars and the distal end of pyroclastic flows (see top left and below), making the town all but uninhabitable, especially when considering the potential future hazards for a town so close to Chaiten. Some residents have been hesitant to move to "New Chaitén" near Santa Barbara and whether they truly appreciate the hazard considered with living in Chaitén is unclear, but it is clearly difficult to tell people where they have spent most of their lives. The Chilean government has now changed its stance and will restore power to the 400 people who have returned to "Old Chaitén" and promise to reinvigorate Chaitén as a gateway to Patagonia. Call it stubbornness, call it resilience, but it shows how even a clear-and-present volcanic danger can be willfully ignored by people due to their bonds to a community.

Parts of the town of Chaiten, buried under ash and lahar deposits in February 2011. See original here.

Activity still continues at Chaitén, with active steaming and small ash plumes a regular event in the caldera. The SERNAGEOMIN/OVDAS has the volcano still on Yellow Alert status for the periodic taller plumes that the volcano can produce. Low levels of seismicity continue under the volcano as well. You can watch Chaitén on one of the two SERNAGEOMIN webcams and possibly catch one of the ash plumes from the domes. How long this eruption will go on is still unclear, so the question how safe the people in a revived Chaitén (the town) are will be a concern of the Chilean government for potentially years to come.

Top left: The inundation of the town of Chaitén after the 2008 eruption of the volcano of the same name.

 

Three years of the Chaitén ...

Newsletter: Share: