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Eruption Update for January 22, 2013: Puyehue-Cordón Caulle, White Island, Rabaul, Taal and Kamchatka

Rocky Planet iconRocky Planet
By Erik Klemetti
Jan 23, 2013 12:50 AMNov 19, 2019 9:43 PM


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Terra/MODIS image of remobilized ash from Puyehue-Cordón Caulle taken on January 19, 2013. Some of this ash has fallen on Osorno in Chile, to the east of the volcano. Image: NASA. We've had a flurry of volcanically-related news over the past day, so I thought I'd try to catch us up on it. Puyehue-Cordón Caulle I've seen a report today claiming a new eruption occurred at Puyehue-Cordón Caulle in Chile -- reports from Chile/Argentina actually suggest that officials acknowledge this isn't an eruption, but rumors, they have a way of spreading. However, I think that we're not seeing renewed activity at Puyehue-Cordón Caulle but rather very vigorous remobilization of ash due to weather conditions in the area. This is a common occurrence in many places that have been mantled by volcanic ash. Just look at some of the images of ash from the 1912 Katmai eruption in Alaska blowing over Kodiak Island. It is still causing problems and getting blown in the wind! Now, the Chilean Geological Survey (SERNAGEOMIN) has not released any statement about any new activity at Puyehue-Cordón Caulle and folks that were in the area just last week only reported a slowly cooling lava flow with little evidence for much other activity. In fact, there isn't even any report in the Buenos Aires VAAC as you might expect if there was any new eruptive activity. The reported ash was falling on Osorno in Chile, so I checked out the weather at there and it is 72F with not much precipitation over the past few weeks. The winds have mainly been easterly, so right in the path of the blowing ash from the volcano. This means any strong winds will kick up ash and send it towards Osorno, potentially as high as some of the unconfirmed reports (11,000 feet / 3.3 km). Also, some Aqua images of the area taken over the weekend (see above) show a healthy plume of ash without any thermal anomaly at the summit of the volcano. In fact, you can pretty clearly see that the ash is blowing from deposits across the entire complex, rather than from a single vent as you might expect if this was renewed activity. The webcam from Puyehue-Cordón Caulle doesn't seem to show much beyond mountain clouds as well. This seems like one of those cases were you need to be very cautious of reporting an eruption when the evidence is scant. White Island We've been watching the activity at White Island rise and fall over the last 6 months (and more), but now it seems that GNS Science is beginning to be quite concerned about the potential of explosive activity at the volcano in the Bay of Plenty. The latest report on White Island mentions new, vigorous and almost continuous hydrothermal activity in the small crater lake at White Island -- the video of the activity is impressive, with meters-tall fountains of muddy water. This activity is the strongest it has been since the events that lead to the explosive activity in 2000, so GNS Science is concerned about the increasing potential of explosions in the White Island crater. Interestingly, with all this new activity, tour operators are trying to make it seem like a great time to visit White Islands -- something I think could potentially lead to disaster. Rabaul Meanwhile, in Papau New Guinea, some new explosive activity has caused a closure of the airport near the Tavurvur cone of Rabaul. Not a lot of details out there, but it seems that flights may be limited indefinitely due to the ash and volcanic gases and reports from locals claim steam plumes upwards of 500 meters. Rabaul is a fairly active caldera system, with small (and some large) explosive eruptions occurring frequently over the past few decades. Taal Things have been pretty quiet at Taal in the Philippines lately, but Monday and Tuesday of this week saw an increase in volcanic earthquakes. Ten earthquakes were recorded from Monday morning (1/21) to Tuesday morning (1/22) -- this is by no means a dangerously large increase in seismicity, but could be a harbinger for new rumbling at Taal. PHIVOLCS said they have no plans to change the alert status at Taal, which currently sits at 1 (out of 5). Kamchatka Finally, the NASA Earth Observatory posted a great set of four images showing the ongoing volcanic activity on that peninsula. Shiveluch, Bezymianny, Kizimen and Tolbachik were all caught in the act on January 11, 2013 -- and by no means is this abnormal for the Kamchatka Peninsula. It is definitely one of the most active volcanic spots on the planet.

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