Eruptions of Chaiten Volcano - Reports by John Seach
The volcano erupted on 2nd May 2008. Ash emissions reached a height of 30 km (100,000 ft) on 6th May. More than 4000 people were evacuated from nearby villages and the town of Chaiten, 10 km from the volcano, and Futaleufu 70 km southeast. This was the first historical eruption at the volcano. The previous dated eruption was over 9000 years ago.
19th December 2009
Between 1-15 December 2009 eruptions continued at Chaiten volcano in Chile. On 7th December emissions occurred on the north and south side of the lava dome. On that day there was a block and ash flow which indicates the dome continues to grow. There were a large number of small magnitude earthquakes. The seismicity decreased, but still remained high. The danger of dome collapse remains, and may generate explosions and pyroclastic flows. Chaiten volcano remains at alert level RED.
23rd October 2009
During the period 1-16 October 2009 Chaiten volcano in Chile remained active. Two growing, degassing domes were present in the summit crater. At midday on 14th October a vigorous explosion occurred at the volcano, producing a vertical ash column. A seismometer is currently being installed at a location 1.5 km from the crater, with the addition of seven more planned in the future. Seismic activity has remained stable at Chaiten volcano with 1-2 earthquakes per hour greater then magnitude 3.5. A significant accumulation of pyroclastic material has occurred in valleys adjacent to the volcano. Lahars may be formed after heavy rainfall. Chaiten volcano remains at highest alert level RED.
29th September 2009 activity caused by Samoan earthquake
A flyover of Chaiten volcano on 29th September 2009 showed the volcano continues to erupt. There has been a change in morphology which reflects changing conditions at the summit dome complex. A third dome is forming in the centre west of the crater. During the observation period of 16-30 September 2009 ash emissions reached a height of 2 km above the summit. The two major sources of emissions are in the centre and east of the dome complex. Block and ash flows are occurring, indicating that the dome complex is very active and has continued to grow. On 29th September information was received about the possible reactivation of Chaiten volcano. The information corresponded to visual observations made by people from the town of Chaitén, which reported an increase in eruptive activity just after 14:00 hrs. The increase in activity related to gravitational collapse of a dome in the southwest followed by an increase in emissions of gas and ash. Seismic data indicated the partial dome collapse corresponded to arrival of low frequency and large amplitude signals produced by the great Samoan earthquake. The event caused changes to the unstable part of Chaiten's dome complex, but little other change to other parts of the volcano. There have been previous examples in the literature of distant earthquakes causing a change in eruptive activity at volcanoes.
Friday 5th June 2009
Between 27th May and 2nd June there was steady growth in the lava dome at Chaiten volcano in Chile. Block and ash flow continued inside the crater, and was sometimes visible from Chaiten town. The eruption of Chaiten volcano remained unchanged, with a column of gas and ash rising up to 1.5 km above the dome complex. The persistence of block and ash flow indicates that dome growth continues, especially toward the western caldera, which is almost completely filled with viscous lava. There is a continued danger of dome collapse and pyroclastic flows which may affect adjacent valleys. Seismic activity remains high. Chaiten volcano remains on alert level RED.
Friday 8th May 2009
Dome growth continues in the summit crater at Chaiten volcano, Chile. The surface morphology of the dome is complex and uneven. The central pinnacle of the dome has broken into three main blocks. The tallest spine is 100 m high. Continuing rapid growth of the dome creates a collapse risk with the subsequent hazard of block and ash flow down the Chaiten River valley. Seismic activity remains high at the volcano. Chaiten volcano remains on the highest alert level - RED.
Tuesday 14th April 2009
Seismic activity has increased at Chaiten volcano since 8th April 2009. The trend increased further from 11-12 April with earthquakes up to magnitude 4.5 recorded. The increased number of earthquakes is associated with growth of the summit lava dome. Dome collapse remains a hazard, and may generate ash and block flows which can affect the valleys below the summit. The volcano remain on the highest level of alert - RED.
Saturday 28th February 2009
Eruptive activity at Chaiten volcano in Chile was stable on 27th February. An eruption column rose to a height of less than 2 km. During the day there were minor collapses of the spine of the dome. The collapse events led to an increase in ash content of the plume. Small dome collapses were observed at at 17:39 hr, 18:44, 18:59 and 19:35, which was the largest. Eruption columns are irregular and periodic, and are composed of gas, ash, and water vapour. There have been no changes in seismic activity at Chaiten volcano. Two earthquakes were reported on 26th February - magnitude 3.2 at a depth of 15.1 km, and magnitude 3.3 at depth of 14.4 km. The volcanic alert level for Chaiten volcano remains ar RED, due to the possibility of further ash eruptions, dome collapse, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.
Friday 27th February 2009
Eruptive activity at Chaiten volcano in Chile remains unchanged. The southeast side of the summit lava dome remains unstable, and is liable to collapse. Dome growth continues, and a steep pinnacle has formed on the south side of the dome. Preliminary data indicates temperatures of about 270 º C at the pinnacle, and 200 º C in the southern remnant of the dome. This suggests that the magmatic activity is currently concentrated in the southern sector of the dome and at the pinnacle. Pyroclastic flow temperatures in the upper reaches of Chaiten River affected by avalanche is 130 deg C, 70 deg C in the middle of the river valley, and 50 deg C in the lower part. On 25th February at 10:30 hr, local time, there was a superficial magnitude 2.7 earthquake at Chaiten volcano. The government of Chile has decided to relocate Chaiten town 10 km away from its current location. The government will not restore services like power and water in Chaiten town at its current location. Some residents are defiant and want to remain in the town. By law, the government cannot force people to leave, but a government minister declared Chaiten "dead," and another official said the government would do all it could to prevent "collective suicide" by residents who refuse to leave.
Thursday 26th February 2009
An overflight of Chaiten volcano on 24th of February revealed more details about the 19th February dome collapse. The collapse escarpment is oriented approximately southwest, with a major axis of approximately 500 m and maximum height of the escarpment of 200 m. The area of collapse is located in the southwest sector of the dome and affected approximately 10% of the total volume. The northern sector of the dome shows low eruptive activity. Volcanic alert remains at RED due to continued seismic activity, dome growth, explosive activity, and the possibility of pyroclastic flows and lahars.
Wednesday 25th February 2009
After the dome collapse at Chaiten volcano, Chile, on 19th February, seismicity returned to lower levels. The collapse mobilised a large amount of material south into Chaiten River valley. An estimated 30 million tons of material collapsed from the dome, which present a lahar hazard to Chaiten town.
Sunday 22nd February 2009
Renewed large eruptions at Chaiten volcano
On Tuesday 17th February there were 9 earthquakes between magnitude 3.5 and 3.9 measured at Chaiten volcano in Chile. On Wednesday 18th there were 13 earthquakes between magnitude 3.6 and 3.9. On Thursday February 19 from 10:28 hrs to 13:46 hrs there were a swarm of earthquakes with magnitudes 3.6 to 4.2, with depths of between 3 and 5 km. Preliminary analysis showed the earthquakes were located immediately east of the volcano. In the period preceding the dome collapse, earthquakes were located south of the dome.
An important sector of the southern flank of the dome collapsed on Thursday 19th February, producing a lateral explosion and block and ash flows and pyroclastic flows, which descended south, reaching the top of the Chaitén river valley, 5 km north of the Chaiten town. In addition, eruptive column was erupted about 2 pm, reaching approximately 8 km high, and drifting southeast, and creating ashfall in the town of Futaleufu. Residents near the volcano indicated the ash plume may have reached 15-20 km high.
A Twin Otter overflight of Chaiten volcano on Thursday revealed the north flank of the volcano had a similar appearance to that of previous weeks. Towards the south flank of the volcano, partial observations revealed that forest had been burnt. A helicopter overflight revealed a 500 m x 500 m collapse of the summit dome, which generated pyroclastic flows that advanced by 4 to 5 km down the Chaiten river valley, destroying native forest. At a location in the valley 3-4 km from Chaiten town, there were 5 or 6 locations which emitted gas and water vapour. This process can be interpreted primarily as side effects of pyroclastic flows, which generated large amounts of steam when contact water.
In view of the continuing seismic activity associated with the eruption, along with growth and major collapses of the dome, lateral blast, block and ash flows and pyroclastic flows, Volcanic Red Alert remains in place for Chaiten volcano. Further block and ash flows and pyroclastic flows may affect Chaiten town and also to other sectors of the volcano. Ashfall may affect locations downwind from the volcano.
Friday 30th January 2009
Relocation of Chaiten Town, Chile
The Government of Chile has announced that Chaiten town will eventually be relocated from its present position 9 km SSW of Chaiten volcano. Chaiten volcano erupted in May 2008 after being dormant for over 9000 years. The town was covered in ash and damaged by flooding from the ash-choked Blanco River. The town's 5,000 inhabitants were evacuated, and nearly 2,000 families received financial assistance. The government initially prohibited residents from returning but later lifted its ban. About 100 people now live in Chaiten town. An announcement, was made on Thursday 29th January by Interior Minister Edmundo Pérez Yoma about the future of Chaiten town. He said “As it has been since the eruption first began, our obligation as the government is to ensure safety and protect human lives,” said Pérez Yoma. The interior minister also announced that beginning in March, Futaleufú will replace Chaitén as the administrative capital of Region X. In order to prevent land speculation, the government has not yet announced where exactly it plans to relocate Chaitén. Possibilities reportedly include Bahía Pumalín, Santa Bárbara and Fandango. Edmundo Pérez Yoma said “We have told people many times that it is dangerous, that they cannot remain there, but we cannot force them (to leave)." The minister assured the government will respect the wishes of those who decide to stay in the area but insisted that no public funds will be allocated “to a city that we feel should not be located where it is”.
Thursday 1st January 2009
Seismicity at Chaiten volcano has remained stable over the past few weeks, with 2-6 events per hour. On 25th and 28th December, ash emissions reached 2 km above the crater. A lava dome continues to grow in the crater, producing instability on the summit and flanks. Explosions from the lava dome are possible and create the risk of pyroclastic flows. The volcano remains at the highest alert level - RED.
Saturday 27th December 2008
The Government of Chile has announced that the area surrounding Chaiten volcano, in Chile is still not safe, following the large May 2008 eruption. A decision regarding the future of of Chaiten town will be made in coming days. The volcano, only 10 km from the town, started erupting on 2nd May, after being dormant for thousands of years, forcing the evacuation of about 7,000 residents. The government has not dismissed the possibility of relocating Chaiten town and making the whole area a no-go zone for years to come, but many locals have said they want to return to their homes. The latest report indicates the volcano is as dangerous as before, and the news is still not good. Dome growth continues at the volcano. The old caldera is almost completely filled by the new dome. This creates an increased danger from the volcano, and future dome collapse may send pyroclastic flows down the flanks of the volcano.
Wednesday 26th November 2008
A lateral explosion occurred at Chaiten volcano on 17th November 2008 at 17:25 hrs. The explosion occurred WSW of the crater, and was possibly related to partial collapse of the dome. This small event was superficial, and was not captured by telemetry stations in the area which transmit data in real time. Gas emissions have been constant at the volcano, with steam and ash rising up to 2 km above the crater.
Sunday 9th November 2008
Lahars from Chaiten volcano, have created more damage in Chaiten town. On the night of 4th November, a mixture of material ejected from the volcano, combined with heavy rainfall, and melting snow, cause a lahar which raced down río Blanco and flooded 30 houses in the town. The latest lahar reinforces the decision to keep Chaiten town evacuated. In recent weeks, about a hundred people have returned to Chaitén and are living in their homes despite lacking basic services such as electricity, potable water, gas or telephone. In the coming weeks a report will be delivered to the president, Michelle Bachelet, which discusses the level of toxicity of volcanic ash and the possibility of rebuilding the town in the same location. The situation at Chaitén has cost Chile, in six months, more than 23,000 million pesos (about $ 40 million US). According to a survey which covered a sample of 800 displaced families, 45 percent do not intend to return to Chaitén, another 43 percent had not made a decision, and only 12 per cent are ready to return. 40 percent of people evacuated from Chaiten reported difficulties in their new living situation. Recent activity of Chaiten volcano has been intermittent, with an eruptive column of about 3000 meters high in recent days, while last week a swarm of small earthquakes was measured. This indicates the eruption is not over, and residents will have to remain evacuated for some time yet. Some people in surrounding areas have begun to sell their properties and leave the area, because ash has killed animals, caused deforestation and damaged pastures.
Thursday 6th November 2008
A new dome is forming in the summit crater at Chaiten volcano, Chile. On overflight on 30th October showed the presence of a new dome in the north east of the crater, forming on the top of the May 2008 dome. The new dome has a sloping base with a diameter of about 300 m and a height of about 150 m. Currently, much of the seismic activity of the volcano is associated with dome growth and collapse.
Sunday 2nd November 2008
Renewed activity has occurred at Chaiten Volcano in Chile. Report from police in Chaiten town indicated that at 3pm on 29th October explosions were heard at the volcano, and were accompanied by an ash column 2 km above the crater. Seismometers continue to measure earthquakes at the volcano. Lava extrusion continues to build the dome in the summit crater. Dome building has increased since 20th September. Continued growth of the lava dome creates an explosion hazard, which can produce ash emissions, rockfalls, or pyroclastic flows.
Monday 6th October 2008
Seismic activity has increased at Chaiten volcano in Chile since 20th September. Some earthquakes reached magnitude 3. The earthquakes are related to breaking of rocks and movement of magmatic fluids at shallow levels of the system. There is continued extrusion of the lava dome. The increase in seismic activity has not been correlated with a significant upturn in the eruptive activity, which has remained stable with a low emission rate. Gas and ash is being emitted from the dome. On 27th and 28th September, eruption columns reached 4.0 km above sea level. This activity is similar to that observed by John Seach during a climb to the summit in August 2008.
Wednesday 24th September 2008
Eruptions continue at Chaiten volcano in Chile. On the afternoon of 23rd September, continuous emissions were observed from the volcano. Ash fell in Chaiten town as a broad plume drifted south. A hotspot remains visible on satellite images. The volcano remains dangerous with an active lava dome growing in the summit crater.
Monday 25th August 2008
John Seach made a summit climb of Chaiten volcano on 23rd August 2008. The summit crater contained a 120 m high lava dome. Earthquakes were felt at the summit. The lava dome was loudly degassing, and lava boulders avalanched from the dome side to the crater floor. John Seach was the first scientist to climb to summit of Chaiten volcano after the worlds largest rhyolite eruption in 100 years.
Wednesday 16th July 2008
During a visit to Chaitén volcano in Chile on 9th July, John Seach observed lahar destruction of the town, ashfall damage to surrounding areas, and pyroclastic flow devastation on the north flank of the volcano. On the north side of the volcano at a location 3 km from the crater, an area of devastated forest was visited. Plinian eruptions, and pyroclastic flows, burnt forest and stripped trees of foliage. An area of 10 sq km on the north side of the crater was completely devoid of vegetation, except for some standing devastated trees. Trees up to a meter in diameter were snapped off at a height of 4 m. Fire had burnt the entire area. The field area consisted of a mixture of standing devastated trees, fallen trees, and deep ash deposits. A sharp distinction was observed between areas of devastated forest and standing untouched forest. Continuous ash fall occurred in Chaitén town. Lahars were reaching the town once per week. Residents were allowed into the town to evacuate possessions and begin the clean up. Residents reported hearing rumbling noises under the town, similar to the sound of running water.
Saturday 14th June 2008
Renewed strong eruptions have occurred at Chaitén volcano in Chile. On 12th June there were gas emissions and pyroclastic flows from the south side of the volcanic dome. Two new craters have formed at the volcano. Seismic activity increased on 12th June. The majority of earthquakes were smaller than magnitude 2, and were located under the volcano. Two larger earthquakes were located 5 km NE of the volcano.
Wednesday 11th June 2008
Eruptions continue at Chaitén volcano in Chile. The dome is growing fast. Explosive activity and eruptions of ash has decreased. Eruption column is below 3 km elevation, and is accompanied by abundant water vapour. Heavy rain continues to create a lahar hazard. Seismic activity is gradually decreasing.
Wednesday 4th June 2008
On 2nd June the eruption column from Chaitén volcano reached 3 km altitude. Pumice has reached the beaches on the eastern side of Chiloé Island, 60 km west of the volcano. The pumice was transported down the Yelcho, Negro and Chaitén rivers and has a maximum diameter of 40 cm. Seismic activity is still being recorded at the volcano.
Saturday 31st May 2008
Continuous eruptions are occurring at Chaitén volcano in Chile. On 28th May ash emissions reached 4 km high and affected communities hundreds of kilometers north of the volcano. Ash forced the closure of airports at Puerto Montt, Osorno, Valdivia, and Temuco. Lower level winds scattered ash eastwards along the coast between Chaitén and Chumildén, near Talcán Island. Earthquakes have been diminishing over the past few days. The decline in seismic activity has accompanied the decrease in height of the eruption column. Larger explosive eruptions are still possible.
Thursday 29th May 2008
Eruptions at Chaitén volcano in Chile have decreased, but still remain continuous. Last Sunday the column of gas and ash reached about 3.5 km above sea level, with occasional eruptions reaching 5 km high. A lava dome continues to grow in the crater and exceeds the old dome in height. South of the dome a 200 m wide crater has formed, which continuously erupts ash and gases. Ash continues to fill rivers surrounding the volcano. Lahars are still entering Chaitén town. Seismic signals from explosions, gas emission, and pyroclastic flows have decreased in intensity and frequency. Future hazards at the volcano include dome collapse with pyroclastic flows, blockage of the vent followed by larger eruptions, and lateral eruptions.
Friday 23rd May 2008
Eruptions continue at Chaitén volcano in Chile. A dome is forming in the active crater, with sporadic explosions and pyroclastic flows. Seismic activity consists of swarm of hybrid events which indicates movement of magmatic fluids and gases, low and high frequency earthquakes. The alert level remains at the highest rating, RED.
Saturday 17th May 2008
Continuous eruptions are occurring at Chaitén volcano in Chile. The airfield at Chaitén town has been covered by ash and water, and is currently not able to be used. Ash and pumice is floating northwards along the Chile coast. The bay near Chaitén contains run-off from rivers with a milky-green colour. A large amount of sediment has blocked river channels, and lahars will continue to overflow river edges. Over the past two days there has been a marked change in seismic activity at the volcano. Earthquake swarms indicate fracturing of the main conduit, and possible ascent of magma towards the surface. Increasing pressure from magma is creating a potential explosion hazard, and collapse of the dome, generating pyroclastic flows.
Wednesday 14th May 2008
On Monday 12th May, emissions from Chaitén volcano in Chile reached an altitude of 8 km. Pyroclastic flows have burned several hectares of forest. A vertical dome is located in a 1 km wide crater. The Chaitén River has overflowed due to silting up from ash and pumice, and lahars extended 200 m either side of the river. About 40 buildings, and many vehicles, were buried by the lahars. Lahars remain an ongoing hazard at the volcano. Earthquakes greater than magnitude 3, and earthquake swarms lasting 5 minutes have been recorded at the volcano.
Sunday 11th May 2008
Ash emissions continue at Chaitén volcano in Chile. There has been interruptions in electricity supplies in Futaleufu due to the accumulation of ash. Drinking water has been supplied by truck from Argentina. Medical assessments and preventative vaccinations are taking place for the affected population. Bulldozers are working to clear ash from roads. Evacuees at Puerto Montt have been supplied with blankets and matresses. Over the next few days predicted winds will blow ash towards Argentina.
Saturday 10th May 2008
Eruptions continue at Chaitén volcano in Chile. Small pyroclastic flows have been observed at the volcano descending eastwards into Raya river. Yesterday, the eruption column reached an altitude of 14 km at 2pm, and drifted northeast. A new crater has opened up at the western base of the dome. Seismic monitoring equipment has been moved from the town of Chaitén to a safer location on Talcán island. The number of volcano-tectonic earthquakes remains constant at 35 events per day, concentrated on the outer regions of the volcano. Two large explosions occurred on 6th and 7th May (23:35 hr). A shallow reservoir of magma at 5 km depth has been ascending towards the surface. Breaking of rock in the conduit due to magma ascent has been responsible for the large explosions. An ongoing hazard at the volcano is the collapse of eruption columns, or dome collapse, creating pyroclastic flows which descend radially from the volcano into adjacent valleys. Helicopter overflights will continue to visually monitor the volcano as well as retrieve seismic data. The alert level remains at the highest rating, RED.
Thursday 8th May 2008
Ash from Chaitén volcano in Chile has reached Buenos Aires in Argentina. Three airlines - Aerolinas Argentinas, Austral and Chile's LAN have canceled flights across the region. Eruptions continue at the volcano for the sixth day, with plumes reaching 33,000 ft altitude. The last group of military personnel and civilians from the vicinity of Chaitén volcano were evacuated before dawn on Thursday, after reports of emission of burning material. An evacuation zone of 50 km radius has been placed around the volcano.
Wednesday 7th May 2008
Five shallow focus earthquakes (10 km depth), larger than magnitude 4, accompanied the eruption of Chaitén volcano in Chile. The earthquakes occurred in a region of low historical seismicity, therefore were probably related to the eruption of the volcano.
Distance from Chaitén volcano
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 11:52 PM
Friday, May 02, 2008 at 01:51 AM
Friday, May 02, 2008 at 07:13 AM
Friday, May 02, 2008 at 06:13 PM
Friday, May 02, 2008 at 10:36 PM
30 km NE
Wednesday 7th May 2008
On 6th of May the eruption at Chaitén volcano in Chile intensified with the eruption column reaching an altitude of 30 km (100,000 ft). This makes the eruption possibly the largest since Pinatubo in 1991. The nearby town of Chaitén could end up buried, like the Roman city of Pompeii following Mount Vesuvius' eruption in 79 A.D. Volcanic ash is already 5 feet deep in some places. Volcanic material from Chaiten's last eruption measured up to 2 m (6 feet) in places. During a helicopter overflight on 6th May at 10:00 hr, observations showed two explosion craters on the northern side of the dome had merged to form a single crater with a diameter of 800 m. Lava is rising in the crater but has not yet spilled over. There have been no reports of pyroclastic flows. So far, Chaiten has emitted only a few thousand tons of sulphur dioxide. In 1991 Mt Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines emitted 20 million tons of sulphur dioxide in 1991, and caused a brief period of global cooling.
Wednesday 7th May 2008
Renewed vigorous eruptions occurred at Chaitén volcano in Chile on Tuesday. A government volcanologist warned that the eruption was only at the beginning stage and that a larger explosive eruption was possible. On Tuesday the volcano was exploding very strongly. Nearly 400 people from the surrounding area, including emergency workers and journalists, were put aboard two navy ships and other vessels and taken to safety. The eruption has affected an area with 30 km radius . People who refused to leave their homes were evacuated by force. Only a contingency force of about 50 police and navy personnel were left in the town. Buildings and streets in Chaitén town have been covered with a thick blanket of ash up to 30 cm deep. In Futaleufu, a town 70 kilometers southeast of Chaiten, its 1,800 inhabitants were either being evacuated or fleeing over the border to Argentina. Ash from Chaitén volcano is also reaching Argentina.
Tuesday 6th May 2008
Eruptions continue for a fourth day at Chaitén volcano in Chile. Evacuations have occurred at a second town, Futaleufu. Some residents have evacuated across the border to Argentina. Around 25,000 head of cattle in the area are in serious danger of dying. President Michelle Bachelet briefly visited Chaiten and spoke with some of the few remaining residents. At shelters in Puerto Montt, evacuees sought the president's support to rebuild outside the path of the volcano. Most of Chaiten's 4500 residents fled as the eruption polluted air and water supplies.
Sunday 4th May 2008
More than 4000 people have been evacuated from Chaitén town and surrounding areas after Chaitén volcano erupted on Friday. Many people have evacuated by boat to the town of Castro on the island of Chiloe. Southern Chile is fragmented into hundreds of small islands and fjords. Some people are now staying in guesthouses, while schools have been turned into makeshift shelters. The volcano has continued to emit ash for a second day. Ash has also fallen across the border in Chubut province, Argentina.
Saturday 3rd May 2008
An overflight of Chaitén volcano this morning showed a dense column of white to grey emissions reaching a height of 20 km, and drifting SSE with the prevailing winds. The geological record of Chaitén volcano shows a history of pyroclastic flows and ashfall. This explosive character of the volcano suggests that ashfall may reach a considerable distance from the volcano. Pyroclastic flows are possible, and are associated with dome collapse. The volcano is not covered with ice and there is no immediate danger from lahars.
Saturday 3rd May 2008
Chaitén volcano in southern Chile erupted yesterday for the first time in over 9000 years. The volcano is located 10 km NE of the town of Chaitén on the Gulf of Corcovado. A magnitude 4.1 shallow earthquake hit 16 km SW of the volcano on the same day. The national emergency office and residents initially identified the source of the ash as Michimahuida volcano, which has erupted more recently, but later identified the source as Chaitén. There has been continuous emission of ash. The government evacuated as many as 1,500 people from nearby villages and the town of Chaiten when the volcano erupted ash, and more than 60 earthquakes were recorded. Officials distributed fresh water and more than 10,000 protective masks. Trucks with drinking water were being sent to the area after ash affected water supplies. School classes were suspended in some areas. Winds also carried ash over the Andes to Argentina, where school was suspended in the popular Patagonian tourist towns of Esquel and Trevelin. Authorities declared a state of alert on major highways as falling ash reduced visibility, and hospitals reported an patients complaining of eye irritation.