We’ve been hearing a lot of conflicting reports about the state and future of the Chaiten eruption. Now ending its fourth week of eruption, Chaiten was said to be easing up a bit, but recent reports have Luis Lara from the SERNAGEOMIN still worried about a potential collapse, followed by a devastating eruption. I’ll have to take his word for it as the explanations in the article don’t really make a lot of sense. It sounds like both Lara and Dr. Petrinovic (Argentina) are worried about dome collapse, but that would just form large pyroclastic flows … unless the dome collapses enough to release the pressure on the underlying magma, then maybe you could get a large eruption (see Mt. Saint Helens, 1980). I also have some compositional data from ash erupted at Chaiten (big thank you to reader Werner Luis for finding these). Most of the ash is rhyolite (73-75 wt% SiO2), but at least a couple are dacite (64-65 wt% SiO2), which indicates that the composition of the lava/ash erupting has changed during the eruption. There isn’t much context to the data, but it is still interesting nevertheless.
An added note on the flight cancellations by LanChile, apparently the problem is more related to wind direction than increased activity, but both are likely playing a role.