Ash and Steam Plume from Chaitén

After a spectacular explosion in May of 2008, Chile’s Chaitén volcano has erupted continuously for the past 16 months. The arrival of spring in the Southern Hemisphere allowed this clear view of the ongoing eruption, which had been hidden by clouds for much of the winter. Chaitén is currently in a dome building phase. Thick lava is erupting in Chaitén’s caldera, slowly building a steep-sided dome. Eruptions of ash and steam occur when portions of the dome collapse. The town of Chaitén (located south of the volcano) remains evacuated due to the threat of flows of volcanic debris from the unstable dome.

The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard the NASA/USGS Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite acquired this natural color image of Chaitén on September 27, 2009, at roughly 10:30 am local time. The U.S. Air Force Weather Agency reported an ash plume extending 56 km (35 miles) northwest of the summit at the time the image was taken.