Sunday, June 5, 2011

Volcano eruption in Chile

Chile is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire - the most seismically active region on Earth. Today, one of its many volcanoes erupted spewing smoke and gas up to 10 km high."End of the worlders" appear to relish in this occurance as another sign that the end is near.

I take it as a sign that Earth is alive and ever changing. And that it's good to pay attention when travelling as to where one is and what reasonable actions are to stay out of trouble. Chile's volcanoes don't present a huge threat to human activity, but when they erupt they create some challenges, in particular with ash and sulfur getting spread over large areas. The present eruption is the cause of a government evacuation order for about 3,500 people in the area.
Black underlines = where we travelled last year.
Red underlines - area being evacuated due to eruption.

English-language media has not updated its reports much it seems. I've tried to get a sense of the magnitude by looking at Chilean media.

The area affected appears to be just a bit north, maybe 100 km or so, of where we were travelling in last December near Puerto Montt/Cochamo. Click on the map to enlarge.

Chileans are a resilient people, who are accustomed to the big picture geographic challenges they live with. I hope and trust they will deal with this eruption by being smart and following the precautions to stay safe.

You might remember the huge 8.8 magnitude earthquake last February was a shock in particular as the tsunami that followed came without warning, which meant many people were caught off guard and had not gotten to the necessary higher ground. From what I've heard people now tend to self-evacuate when bigger earthquakes happen rather than wait to be told to seek higher ground. That is a good thing.

Knowing that many earthquakes have happened leading up to this eruption, might mean people were already alert to the possibility of a bigger issue.

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