Nevados de Chillán

Photo of this volcano
Google Earth icon
  Google Earth Placemark
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 36.863°S
  • 71.377°W

  • 3212 m
    10535 ft

  • 357070
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Weekly Report: 21 January-27 January 2009


Based on a SIGMET and analysis of satellite imagery, the Buenos Aires VAAC reported that during 21-22 January ash plumes from Nevados de Chillán rose to altitudes of 3.7-6.1 km (12,000-20,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 50-80 km SE. The VAAC also reported that an ash plume from Callaqui, a nearby volcano 120 km S, drifted NE on 22 January.

Source: Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


Most Recent Bulletin Report: March 2004 (BGVN 29:03)


A small eruption, the first since 1986, during August-September 2003

Nevados de Chillán was active from 1973 through 1983; after that, phreatomagmatic eruptions were reported to have almost ended. A small (VEI 1) eruption, the first since 1986, was noted by local inhabitants and tourists in August-September 2003. Low magnitude explosive events occurred over the week ending 27 August 2003, sending brown-gray to white gas-and-ash columns up to heights of 500 m for periods of up to 25 minutes. Resulting deposits were ~ 1 cm deep over a sharply defined 2.2 km wide zone to the SSE. Prevailing winds were strong around the time of the eruption (figure 2). Explosions then became more sporadic, occurring at 2-3 day intervals, until ceasing in mid-September.

Figure 2. Strong prevailing winds blowing over the Nevados de Chillán complex caused the resulting plume to remain at low altitude. This photo was taken in early September 2003. The plume blew towards the SSE. Courtesy Servicio Nacional de Geoligica y Mineria.

An inspection of the eruption site on 22 January 2004 by Servicio Nacional de Geoligica y Mineria scientists revealed a new compound, fissure-like, double crater in the saddle between the cones Nuevo (which erupted during 1906-1945) and Arrau (which erupted during 1973-1986) (figure 3). This new ~ 64 m long double crater consisted of a NW situated, 25 x 14 m crater and a SE situated, 39 x 28 m crater. These craters lie to the NW of Arrau cone and become surrounded by an area of intense fumaroles towards Nuevo cone. The fumaroles are water-vapor rich but give off a weak sulfur odor. On Nuevo's E side they had temperatures of up to 88°C (table 1). While no previous measurements were available, this area showed more intense fumarolic activity than seen during a January 1994 visit and 1998 air photographs. During the recent visit the local heat-flow appeared concentrated adjacent to Nuevo cone, rather than Arrau cone. This, and the fissure-like form of the 2003 crater, were taken as evidence for possible future eruptions closer to Nuevo cone.

Figure 3. Aerial view and cross section of the Nevados de Chillán complex, showing the new crater in relation to Nuevo and Arrau cones, and indicating SSE-oriented ash dispersal. Courtesy Servicio Nacional de Geoligica y Mineria.

Table 1. Site names, locations (as UTM coordinates), and fumarole temperatures describing conditions at Nevados de Chillán on 22 January 2004. The fumaroles were located near the 2003 vent. Courtesy of J.A. Naranjo and L.E. Lara, SERNAGEOMIN.

    Site              UTM N      UTM W     Temperature
                                           (°C +- 0.5)

    SW Nuevo flank    288.086   5916.963       87.2
    E Nuevo rim       288.138   5917.522       87.9
    Between craters   288.263   5917.547       57.4

In addition to dispersal and deposition of loose ash, the January inspection noted agglutinates forming a series of 2 m long ridges or 'dunes' (figure 4). The agglutinates consisted of wet black clusters of ash spheres with 0.5- to 1-cm diameters. A large number of dead insects in the agglutinated ash suggested extreme conditions such as the presence of toxic gasses. When dry, the ash was dark gray with a lithic-rich polymodal composition. Particle sizes ranged from dust to 4-5 mm, of which 5-10% was coarse-grained, lithic-rich lapilli composed of black, gray, and red aphyric andesites and ~ 60% was fine- to medium-grained lapilli composed of lithic clasts, quartz, and plagioclase crystals. Below the 1 mm size range, black glassy shards appeared with cleaved vesicle surfaces and blocky or plate-like shapes. The remnant fraction was light-gray fine ash.

Figure 4. January 2004 view of dried ash deposits from Nevados de Chillán's 2003 eruption. The darker deposits lay atop remnant snow pack. Courtesy Servicio Nacional de Geoligica y Mineria.

Reference. Naranjo, J.A., and Lara, L.E., 2004, August-September 2003 eruption in the Nevados de Chillán Volcanic Complex (36°50'S), Southern Andes (Chile): Revista Geologica de Chile (February 2004).

Information Contacts: Jose A. Naranjo and Luis E. Lara, Servicio Nacional de Geoligica y Mineria (SERNAGEOMIN), Av. Santa Maria 0104, Santiago, Chile (Email: jnaranjo@sernageomin.cl; lelara@sernageomin.cl).

Index of Weekly Reports


2009: January

Weekly Reports


21 January-27 January 2009

Based on a SIGMET and analysis of satellite imagery, the Buenos Aires VAAC reported that during 21-22 January ash plumes from Nevados de Chillán rose to altitudes of 3.7-6.1 km (12,000-20,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 50-80 km SE. The VAAC also reported that an ash plume from Callaqui, a nearby volcano 120 km S, drifted NE on 22 January.

Source: Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


Index of Bulletin Reports


Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

07/1979 (SEAN 04:07) Eruption continuing since 1973

03/2004 (BGVN 29:03) A small eruption, the first since 1986, during August-September 2003




Bulletin Reports

All information contained in these reports is preliminary and subject to change.


07/1979 (SEAN 04:07) Eruption continuing since 1973

When visited by Oscar González-Ferrán on 21 February 1979, the eruption of Nevados de Chillán that began in July 1973 was continuing. An explosion lasting 1.5 hours produced a cloud, containing bombs, [blocks], and ash, that rose almost 2 km before reaching a windy layer that prevented further upward movement. The new cone had grown to about the same height as the adjacent 1906 cone [Volcán Nuevo], where fumarolic activity persisted (figure 1).

Figure 1. Sketch of the Nevados de Chillán complex; the upper sketch shows details of the area active on 21 February 1979. Courtesy of Oscar González-Ferrán.

[Hugo Moreno reports that by 1983 the phreatomagmatic eruption had almost ended. From 1983 to 1987, only a few explosions have been reported (about one every 2 months). These generated small pyroclastic flows, by column collapse, over the snow cover. By late 1987, the dome extruded earlier in the eruption had been covered by tephra that built a new cone (named Tata) about 30 m higher than neighboring Volcán Nuevo.]

Further Reference. Deruelle, B., 1977, New activity of the Nevados de Chillán: C.R. Acad. Sci. Paris, serie D, v. 284, p. 1651-1654.

Information Contacts: O. González-Ferrán, Univ. de Chile, Santiago.
Download or Cite this Report

03/2004 (BGVN 29:03) A small eruption, the first since 1986, during August-September 2003

Nevados de Chillán was active from 1973 through 1983; after that, phreatomagmatic eruptions were reported to have almost ended. A small (VEI 1) eruption, the first since 1986, was noted by local inhabitants and tourists in August-September 2003. Low magnitude explosive events occurred over the week ending 27 August 2003, sending brown-gray to white gas-and-ash columns up to heights of 500 m for periods of up to 25 minutes. Resulting deposits were ~ 1 cm deep over a sharply defined 2.2 km wide zone to the SSE. Prevailing winds were strong around the time of the eruption (figure 2). Explosions then became more sporadic, occurring at 2-3 day intervals, until ceasing in mid-September.

Figure 2. Strong prevailing winds blowing over the Nevados de Chillán complex caused the resulting plume to remain at low altitude. This photo was taken in early September 2003. The plume blew towards the SSE. Courtesy Servicio Nacional de Geoligica y Mineria.

An inspection of the eruption site on 22 January 2004 by Servicio Nacional de Geoligica y Mineria scientists revealed a new compound, fissure-like, double crater in the saddle between the cones Nuevo (which erupted during 1906-1945) and Arrau (which erupted during 1973-1986) (figure 3). This new ~ 64 m long double crater consisted of a NW situated, 25 x 14 m crater and a SE situated, 39 x 28 m crater. These craters lie to the NW of Arrau cone and become surrounded by an area of intense fumaroles towards Nuevo cone. The fumaroles are water-vapor rich but give off a weak sulfur odor. On Nuevo's E side they had temperatures of up to 88°C (table 1). While no previous measurements were available, this area showed more intense fumarolic activity than seen during a January 1994 visit and 1998 air photographs. During the recent visit the local heat-flow appeared concentrated adjacent to Nuevo cone, rather than Arrau cone. This, and the fissure-like form of the 2003 crater, were taken as evidence for possible future eruptions closer to Nuevo cone.

Figure 3. Aerial view and cross section of the Nevados de Chillán complex, showing the new crater in relation to Nuevo and Arrau cones, and indicating SSE-oriented ash dispersal. Courtesy Servicio Nacional de Geoligica y Mineria.

Table 1. Site names, locations (as UTM coordinates), and fumarole temperatures describing conditions at Nevados de Chillán on 22 January 2004. The fumaroles were located near the 2003 vent. Courtesy of J.A. Naranjo and L.E. Lara, SERNAGEOMIN.

    Site              UTM N      UTM W     Temperature
                                           (°C +- 0.5)

    SW Nuevo flank    288.086   5916.963       87.2
    E Nuevo rim       288.138   5917.522       87.9
    Between craters   288.263   5917.547       57.4

In addition to dispersal and deposition of loose ash, the January inspection noted agglutinates forming a series of 2 m long ridges or 'dunes' (figure 4). The agglutinates consisted of wet black clusters of ash spheres with 0.5- to 1-cm diameters. A large number of dead insects in the agglutinated ash suggested extreme conditions such as the presence of toxic gasses. When dry, the ash was dark gray with a lithic-rich polymodal composition. Particle sizes ranged from dust to 4-5 mm, of which 5-10% was coarse-grained, lithic-rich lapilli composed of black, gray, and red aphyric andesites and ~ 60% was fine- to medium-grained lapilli composed of lithic clasts, quartz, and plagioclase crystals. Below the 1 mm size range, black glassy shards appeared with cleaved vesicle surfaces and blocky or plate-like shapes. The remnant fraction was light-gray fine ash.

Figure 4. January 2004 view of dried ash deposits from Nevados de Chillán's 2003 eruption. The darker deposits lay atop remnant snow pack. Courtesy Servicio Nacional de Geoligica y Mineria.

Reference. Naranjo, J.A., and Lara, L.E., 2004, August-September 2003 eruption in the Nevados de Chillán Volcanic Complex (36°50'S), Southern Andes (Chile): Revista Geologica de Chile (February 2004).

Information Contacts: Jose A. Naranjo and Luis E. Lara, Servicio Nacional de Geoligica y Mineria (SERNAGEOMIN), Av. Santa Maria 0104, Santiago, Chile (Email: jnaranjo@sernageomin.cl; lelara@sernageomin.cl).
Download or Cite this Report

The compound volcano of Nevados de Chillán is one of the most active of the Central Andes of Chile. Three late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcanoes were constructed along a NNW-SSE line within three nested Pleistocene calderas, which produced ignimbrite sheets extending more than 100 km into the Central Depression of Chile. The largest stratovolcano, dominantly andesitic, 3212-m-high Cerro Blanco (Volcán Nevado), is located at the NW end of the group, and 3089-m-high Volcán Viejo (Volcán Chillán), which was the main active vent during the 17th-19th centuries, occupies the SE end. The new Volcán Nuevo lava-dome complex formed between 1906 and 1945 between the two volcanoes and grew to exceed Volcán Viejo in altitude. The Volcán Arrau dome complex was constructed SE of Volcán Nuevo between 1973 and 1986, eventually exceeding its height by 20 m.

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
[ 2009 Jan 21 ] [ 2009 Jan 22 ] Uncertain    
2003 Aug 29 2003 Sep 15 ± 5 days Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Saddle between Nuevo & Arrau volcanoes
1973 Jul 1986 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Volcán Arrau (SE flank of Volcán Nuevo)
[ 1972 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain     Volcán Nuevo
[ 1965 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain     Volcán Nuevo
1946 1947 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Volcán Nuevo
[ 1945 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain     Volcán Nuevo
1935 Jul 2 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations West flank of Volcán Viejo
1934 Jan 17 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Volcán Nuevo
1928 Nov 30 1929 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Volcán Nuevo
1927 Apr 10 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Volcán Nuevo
[ 1923 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2   Volcán Nuevo
1914 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Volcán Nuevo
1907 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Volcán Nuevo
1906 Aug 6 1906 Dec Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Volcán Nuevo
1898 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Volcán Viejo
1893 Mar 4 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Volcán Viejo
1891 Feb Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Volcán Viejo
[ 1883 Jan 21 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 2   Volcán Viejo (Volcán las Aguilas?)
1877 Feb 12 (?) Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Volcán Chillán
1872 Jul 22 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Volcán Chillán
1864 Nov 30 1865 Feb 3 ± 1 days Confirmed 3 Historical Observations NW flank of Cerro Blanco (Santa Gertrudis)
1861 Jun 1863 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations NW flank of Cerro Blanco (Santa Gertrudis)
1860 Jul 25 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations W flank of Volcán Viejo (Volcán Renegado)
1752 Jan 30 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Cerro Blanco and Volcán Viejo?
1749 (?) 1751 Confirmed 3 Historical Observations Volcán Viejo
1650 ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed 3 Historical Observations Volcán Viejo
0320 BCE ± 75 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Volcán Viejo
1510 BCE ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Volcán Viejo
3660 BCE ± 500 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Volcán Viejo
6890 BCE ± 500 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Volcán Viejo

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.


Cones

Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Aguilas, Volcán las Cone 36° 52' 0" S 71° 22' 0" W
Blanco, Cerro
    Nevado
Stratovolcano 3212 m 36° 49' 34" S 71° 24' 29" W
Colorado, Cerro Cone
Cuervos, Los Pyroclastic cone
Democrático Stratovolcano
Lagunillas, Las Pyroclastic cone
Niblinto, Volcán Pyroclastic cone
Parador Pyroclastic cone
Portezuelo, Volcanes del Cone 36° 51' 0" S 71° 25' 0" W
Renegado, Volcán Stratovolcano 36° 52' 0" S 71° 25' 0" W
Santa Gertrudis, Volcán Cone 36° 49' 0" S 71° 25' 0" W
Siemsen, Volcán Cone 36° 50' 0" S 71° 25' 0" W
Termas, Las Stratovolcano
Vidaurre, Volcán Cone 36° 51' 0" S 71° 25' 0" W
Viejo, Volcán
    Chillan Viejo
Stratovolcano 3186 m 36° 51' 47" S 71° 22' 37" W

Craters

Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Diguillin Pleistocene caldera
Negro, Cerro Pleistocene caldera
Pirigallo Pleistocene caldera

Domes

Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Arrau, Volcán Dome 3206 m
Nuevo, Volcán Dome 36° 52' 19" S 71° 22' 0" W
Shangri-La Dome

Thermal

Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Termas Thermal
Volcán Nuevo, the newest cone of the three-peaked Nevados de Chillán volcano, was formed beginning in 1861. It grew between Cerro Blanco and Volcán Viejo, which anchor the NW and SE ends of the complex, respectively. Volcán Nuevo has been the most active volcano of the complex since its birth. In 1973, the year of this photo, a long-term eruption began on the SE flank of Volcán Nuevo, producing a cone that by 1987 had grown above Volcán Nuevo. Nevados de Chillán is one of the most active volcanoes of the Central Andes of Chile.

Photo by Hugo Moreno, 1973 (University of Chile).
Long-term phreatomagmatic eruptions accompanying formation of a new lava dome on the SE flank of Volcán Nuevo began in 1973. This photo shows a small explosive eruption on February 21, 1979. Activity died down in 1983, when intermittent explosions (about one every two months) began. This continued into 1987, by which time the new cone was about 30 m taller than Volcán Nuevo.

Photo by Oscar González-Ferrán, 1979 (University of Chile).

The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title.

Casertano L, 1963a. Chilean Continent. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 15: 1-55.

Deruelle B, Deruelle J, 1975. Geologie des volcans Quaternaires des Nevados de Chillan (Chili). Bull Volc, 38: 425-444.

Dixon H J, Murphy M D, Sparks S J, Chavez R, Naranjo J A, Dunkley P N, Young S R, Gilbert J S, Pringle M R, 1999. The geology of Nevados de Chillan volcano, Chile. Rev Geol Chile, 26: 227-253.

Gonzalez-Ferran O, 1972. Distribucion del volcanismo activo de Chile y la reciente erupcion del Volcan Villarrica. Instituto Geog Militar Chile, O/T 3491.

Gonzalez-Ferran O, 1995. Volcanes de Chile. Santiago: Instituto Geografico Militar, 635 p.

Hildreth W, Moorbath S, 1988. Crustal contribution to arc magmatism in the Andes of central Chile. Contr Mineral Petr, 98: 455-489.

Mee K, Gilbert J S, McGarvie D W, Naranjo J A, Pringle M S, 2009. Palaeoenvironment reconstruction, volcanic evolution and geochronology of the Cerro Blanco subcomplex, Nevados de Chillan volcanic complex, central Chile. Bull Volc, 71: 933-952.

Mee K, Tuffen H, Gilbert J S, 2006. Snow-contact volcanic facies and their use in determining past eruptive environments at Nevados de Chillan volcano, Chile. Bull Volc, 68: 363-376.

Moreno H, 1974. Airplane flight over active volcanoes of central-south Chile. Internatl Symp Volc Andean & Antarctic Volc Problems Guidebook, Excur D-3, 56 p.

Moreno H, Naranjo J A, 1991. The southern Andes volcanoes (33°-41° 30' S), Chile. 6th Geol Cong Chile, Excur PC-3, 26 p.

Naranjo J A, Lara L E, 2004. August-September 2003 small vulcanian eurption at the Nevados de Chillan volcanic complex (36° 50' S), Southern Andes, Chile. Rev Geol Chile, 31: 359-366.

Volcano Types

Stratovolcano
Compound
Caldera(s)
Lava dome(s)

Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Continental crust (> 25 km)

Rock Types

Major
Andesite / Basaltic Andesite
Dacite
Rhyolite

Population

Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km
68
371
3,733
512,325

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of Nevados de Chillán Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
Smithsonian Collections Search the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections database. Go to the "Search Rocks and Ores" tab and use the Volcano Name drop-down to find samples.