Chaiten Week 4: Potential for dome collapse?
I write the Eruptions blog on Big Think. I've been mesmerized with volcanoes (and geology) all my life. It helps that part of my family comes from the shadow of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia, where I could see first hand the deadly effects of volcanic eruptions. Since then, I've taken a bit of a winding path to become a volcanologist. I started as a history major at Williams College, almost went into radio, but ended up migrating to geology, including an undergraduate thesis on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. I followed this up by changing coast to get my Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Then I ran a MC-ICP-MS lab at University of Washington for a spell (and wrote for an indie rock website). I spent three years as a postdoctoral scholar at University of California - Davis studying the inner workings of magmatic systems. I am now an assistant professor at Denison University and have projects in New Zealand, Chile and Oregon.
I am fascinated by volcanoes, their eruptions and how those eruptions interact with the people who live around the volcanoes. I started this blog after getting frustrated with the news reports of volcanic eruptions. Most of them get the information wrong and/or are just sensationalistic. I will try to summarize eruptions as they occur, translate some of the volcanic processes that are happening and comment on the reports themselves.
And no matter what people tell you, I definitely do not have a cat named Tephra. (OK, I do).
You can find out more about my research by visiting my website. If you have any comments, questions or information, feel free to contact me at eruptionsblog at gmail dot com.
We've been hearing a lot of conflicting reports about the state and future of the Chaiten eruption. Now ending its fourth week of eruption, Chaiten was said to be easing up a bit, but recent reports have Luis Lara from the SERNAGEOMIN still worried about a potential collapse, followed by a devastating eruption. I'll have to take his word for it as the explanations in the article don't really make a lot of sense. It sounds like both Lara and Dr. Petrinovic (Argentina) are worried about dome collapse, but that would just form large pyroclastic flows ... unless the dome collapses enough to release the pressure on the underlying magma, then maybe you could get a large eruption (see Mt. Saint Helens, 1980). I also have some compositional data from ash erupted at Chaiten (big thank you to reader Werner Luis for finding these). Most of the ash is rhyolite (73-75 wt% SiO2), but at least a couple are dacite (64-65 wt% SiO2), which indicates that the composition of the lava/ash erupting has changed during the eruption. There isn't much context to the data, but it is still interesting nevertheless.
An added note on the flight cancellations by LanChile, apparently the problem is more related to wind direction than increased activity, but both are likely playing a role.
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