The Sciences

Tourist warned to stay away from Chaiten

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiFeb 17, 2010 10:33 AM


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The rhyolite domes of Chaiten in Chile in an undated photo. Note how much of the previous Chaiten Caldera has already been filled by the new domes that started after Chaiten erupted in May 2008.

CNN International has a report that the National Emergency Office (ONEMI) in Chile has reinforced the "red alert" status of Chaiten (spanish). The volcano, which has been erupting since May 2008, had recently settled down to slow, but constant, dome growth. However, over the last 3 weeks, seismicity has been increasing at the rhyolite caldera, suggesting that we might be heading towards an upswing of eruptive activity. Now, the volcano has been at a high alert status since it started erupting almost 2 years ago, but the relative calm has caused hundreds of tourists to decide it is safe to approach the volcano (spanish) - and this reissuing of the red alert was a response to this. So, the ONEMI is telling you tourist: stay away! Chaiten is still very active and could potentially produce ash falls, pyroclastic flows or lahars. You can check out what is happening at Chaiten on the rim webcam (which today looks like either its rainy or endtimes) or the more distance webcam at the Chaiten airfield.

And if you are interested in Chilean volcanoes, Llaima has also been placed on "yellow" alert status after signs of increasing seismicity (spanish). However, this is the tourist season in southern Chile, so local officials have already called the change of status "hasty" and may keep tourists away - a claim the national government denies.

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