In this monthly series of articles, volcanologist John Browning provides information about activity at the spectacular volcanoes of Chile. One of the most volcanically active countries in the world, Chile hosts over 100 active volcanoes, and so there are frequent volcanic eruptions. In this series of articles, we will delve a little deeper into learning about the behavior of some of them.
All of the volcanoes in Chile form partly because the country lies on the margin between two tectonic plates, one of which sub-ducts under the other and so begins to melt. The magma which is formed in this process eventually drives volcanic eruptions and builds the volcanoes that we see all throughout Chile. The other plate crumbles and deforms to build the mountain chains (the Andes) that also span the length of the country.
This month we look back at the volcanic activity from 2018. All of the volcanoes in Chile are monitored by the National Service of Geology and Mining (SERNAGEOMIN), and information on each volcano can be found on its website at www.sernageomin.cl. Volcanoes in Chile are graded according to a four-color alert level, green, yellow, orange and red and the majority fall in the green category and hence are monitored but show no immediate sign of unrest or eruption.
At the time of writing three volcanoes fall in the orange (Nevados de Chillan) and yellow (Planchon-Peteroa and Volcan Copahue) categories and hence are in the midst of an eruption or are experiencing some signs that an eruption may occur in the near future.
Nevados de Chillan, in Ñuble region, remained with an orange level throughout 2018 and underwent several periods of minor eruptive activity which only effected the summit area and for the most part allowed normal activities such as skiing to continue.
Eruption of the Planchón-Peteroa volcano. Code Yellow Alert in Maule-region ⚠️ #chiletodaynews #regiondelmaule #chile #turismochile
Posted by Chile Today on Wednesday, November 7, 2018
On Friday morning this behavior came through with a series of mild eruptions. Planchone-Peteroa, in Maule region, experienced a number of moderate eruptions throughout 2018. The eruptions commonly produced ash clouds that rose over 1 km high. Volcano Copahue, in Biobio region, has also remained with a yellow status throughout last year and has produced some mild explosive events which mostly affected the summit region.
In next month’s article we will look more closely at each of these volcanoes and report any new activity.
John is a volcanologist, sports fan, radio broadcaster, and accomplished musician. Born and raised in Britain, he has travelled extensively for his research on volcanoes. Whilst living in London, UK, John performed in the punk bands ‘And Now We’re Even’ and ‘Filthy Militia’ recording six studio albums and two EP’S over this time. He currently lives in Santiago, Chile where he works as a university professor in rock mechanics.