NASA: Activity in the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcano - Actividad en el volcán Puyehue-Cordón Caulle

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acquired June 13, 2011

Perhaps the greatest danger posed by the erupting Puyehue-Cordón Volcano Complex in Chile is the thick layer of ash being deposited east of the volcano. This image, taken on June 13, 2011, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite, shows ash on the ground and a large plume streaming east from the volcano.
The pale tan coating of ash on the ground has been accumulating since June 4, when the eruption started. The Chilean Service of Minerals and Mining (SERNAGEOMIN) warned that when winter rains begin to fall in the coming weeks, the loose ash could create dangerous landslides and lahars, particularly in ash-clogged river valleys in the Andes Mountains.
The image above also shows a large plume of volcanic ash blowing about 800 kilometers east and then northeast over Argentina. The plume has disrupted air traffic as far away as New Zealand.
Though the intensity of the eruption has decreased slightly, volcanic activity is holding steady. The plume reached between 4 and 8 kilometers in altitude on June 13, its height varying with the intensity of the eruption throughout the day.
  1. References

  2. Harrington, R. (2011, June 13). Puyehue-Cordón Caulle update, 13 June 2011. The Volcanism Blog. Accessed June 14, 2011.
  3. Servicio Nacional de Geolog&iactue;a y Minería. (2011, June 13). Reporte especial de actividad volcánica no. 38 Región de Los Ríos Complejo Volcánico Puyehue – Cordón Caulle 13 de junio de 2011 hora del reporte: 14:30 hora local. (Spanish) Accessed June 14, 2011.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Holli Riebeek.
Terra - MODIS

Ash Plume from Puyehue-Cordón Caulle

acquired June 5, 2011
On June 4, 2011, Puyehue-Cordón Caulle in Chile experienced its first major eruption in decades. The volcano sent an ash plume eastward, disrupting air traffic, threatening water supplies, and even dropping golf ball-sized pumice on parts of Argentina. From the start, the volcanic plume towered over local clouds.
The top image is a nighttime scene acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. This false-color image is made from observations of infrared light. The image is rotated and north is at right.
Running across the MODIS image is a yellow line that corresponds to the vertical profile of the atmosphere shown in the graph below. The atmospheric profile was acquired by Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO), a joint mission between NASA and the French Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES). CALIPSO carries a laser (lidar) that sends quick pulses of light through the atmosphere and a receiver that detects the returning light that bounces off clouds and atmospheric particles. The strength of the returning signal illuminates characteristics of the clouds or particles.
In the lidar profile, the volcanic plume rises well above the clouds to the north—roughly 15 kilometers (9 miles) high. At mid-latitudes, the bottom of the Earth’s stratosphere begins around 10 kilometers (6 miles) above the surface. Stratospheric winds have a strong tendency to carry material eastward, so volcanic ash from this eruption may travel great distances, disrupting air traffic as it goes.
Volcanic ash is very different from ash from ordinary fires, which is soft and fluffy. Volcanic ash is made of tiny, jagged particles of rock and glass that are very abrasive and slightly corrosive, and can even conduct electricity when wet. Volcanic ash can irritate respiratory systems, coat vegetation and leave it inedible to wildlife and livestock, and destroy machinery. By working its way into airplane engines, volcanic ash can take down planes in mid-flight.
Because of the hazards volcanic ash poses to airplanes, eruptions frequently cause delays and diversions to air traffic. The Puyehue-Cordón Caulle eruption was no exception. Argentinean air traffic has been hampered, and by June 13, 2011, the ash had spread as far away as Australia and New Zealand, according to news reports.
  1. References

  2. ABC News Australia. (2011, June 13). Ash cloud travel chaos set to worsen. Accessed June 13, 2011.
  3. Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand. (2011, June 11). Ash cloud from Chilean volcano entering New Zealand airspace. Accessed June 13, 2011.
  4. Holmes, H. (2001) The Secret Life of Dust. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.
  5. Klemetti, E. (2011, June 6). Spectacular images and video of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle eruption in Chile. Eruptions. Accessed June 13, 2011.
  6. Klemetti, E. (2011, June 7). Puyehue-Cordón Caulle ash makes it to Buenos Aires and Paraguay in Chile. Eruptions. Accessed June 13, 2011.
  7. Klemetti, E. (2011, June 13). Quick update on the Nabro (Eritrea) and Puyehue-Cordón Caulle eruptions. Eruptions. Accessed June 13, 2011.
  8. National Earth Science Teachers Association. (2011). The stratosphere. Windows to the Universe. Accessed June 13, 2011.
  9. U.S. Geologic Survey. (2000, March 15). Volcanic ash fall—A “hard rain” of abrasive particles. Accessed June 13, 2011.
  10. NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen, using expediated data provided by the CALIPSO team. Caption by Michon Scott.

NASA: Activity in the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcano - Actividad en el volcán Puyehue-Cordón Caulle

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