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Volcanic chaos continues for 2nd day

Skies over Argentina turn to night

Fears that this could drive temperatures lower

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6 Jun 11 - The volcanic complex Cordón Caulle erupted on Saturday in southern Chile, causing the evacuation of thousands of people in surrounding areas.

A column of steam and ash reached more than ten miles high and then headed for Argentina as an eerie lightning show danced through the ash clouds overnight. (Note: says 10 miles. All of my other sources say 10 kilometers, which is only 6 miles. I don't know which number is correct.)

Authorities initially said the Puyehue volcano was involved, but later said the eruption was taking place about 2
˝ miles (4 km) from that peak.

A rift more than 6 miles (10 km) long and 3 miles (5 km) across was torn in the earth's crust, officials said Saturday night.

The Cordón Caulle complex lies about 550 miles (900 km) south of the capital, Santiago. Standing some 7,280 feet (2,240 meters) tall, Puyehue volcano last erupted in 1960, the same year that a major earthquake struck the country.

Authorities put the area around the volcano on alert after a flurry of earthquakes. The National Emergency Office says it has recorded an average of 230 tremors an hour.

Amazingly, there were no immediate reports of injuries.

So far, Bariloche, a major tourist destination in Argentina, is the city most affected by the cloud of ash and rocks. Around four in the afternoon in Bariloche the sky was black - "pitch black," said one resident - and ash began falling. The famous Lake Nahuel Huapi was covered with ash.

At first, shocked residents thought it was snowing, but once they felt the ash, they realized that it was something else. "It feels like dirt is falling," says the narrator on this video.

Officials urged people to stock up on food, cover their mouths and noses against the ash, and stay inside.

By early Saturday night, the ash measured between 1.8 and 2 inches (3-5 cm) deep in most of Bariloche. The eruption triggered "panic buying," with many residents rushing to supermarkets and petrol stations to stock food, water and gasoline.

With a remarkable accumulation of ash and zero visibility, Briloche Airport was closed to air traffic. Now it's nighttime, says this article on MetSul, and thunderstorms are common in the volcanic clouds, a sign that the explosion is strong. By morning, there are fears that a large amount of ash will have accumulated.

Another concern is that it may rain on Tuesday, in which case the weight of the ash added to the volumes of water could compromise structures, possibly leading to collapsing rooftops.

One cannot rule out that the ash can reach even the region of Buenos Aires or southern Brazil in the coming days, this article continues.

There are historical precedents of ash from eruptions in Chile reaching the center of Argentina and Rio Grande do Sul, but in most cases, the eruptions occurred in the center and not in South Chile.

The transport of ash to distant places such as southern Brazil will depend on prevailing winds at altitude jet streams and how long and intensive the eruption continues. Models indicate that during the week, wind currents could send the ash over the North and Northeast.

Chile's chain of about 3,000 volcanoes is the world's second largest after Indonesia. Some 50 to 60 eruptions have been recorded over the past 450 years, and 500 are potentially active.

Chaiten volcano, for example, erupted spectacularly in 2008 for the first time in thousands of years, spewing molten rock and a vast cloud of ash that reached the stratosphere, coated towns in Argentina, and was visible from space.

If this eruption continues with such intensity for a long time, which is virtually unpredictable, it could force temperatures lower this winter, says this article on MetSul.

Volcanoes in the tropics tend to influence the climate on a global scale, especially the more powerful eruptions, which may affect the hemispheric and regional climate.

See fantastic ashfall photos:
Thanks to Sergio Bini in Brazil for this link

"I follow your blog here from Brazil," says Sergio. "Congrats for your good work."

See also:

See also (great lightning photo):

See also (Has a great video):

See also:
Thanks to Stephanie Relfe and Benjamin Napier for these links



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