Chaitén / Futaleufú
Puerto de Chaitén - Photo: José Arrieta
The Eruption of the Chaitén Volcano
In the morning of May 2, 2008, the Chaitén Volcano, located in the X Region of The Lakes in Chile, 10 kilometers away from the district bearing the same name, entered an eruptive phase. Though its existence as a geomorphological unit was already known and it was identified as such in maps, its eruptive history remains a mystery.
Thousands of years ago, the volcano erupted in a similar way. As a result, a slope of volcanic sediments rest on the mountainous shores of the Pacific Ocean in this area and the volcanic sand resulting from this event gave shape to a small valley where the town of Chaitén was settled later on.
The 2008 eruption was characterized by seismic activity and a huge slide of sand and ashes which devastated the small town and caused the Blanco River to flood the area as it made its way to the Pacific Ocean waters. While it advanced, the landslide pushed a part of the city towards the sea. The other part was completely covered by sand and volcanic ash.
Chaitén had been designed for the future, with its wide and modern avenues and its neat waterfront. All of it was coated with the natural elements expelled by the volcano.
The ash cloud and the rocks expelled by the volcano led the Chilean authorities to evacuate the area completely. This operation included the Districts of Chaitén y Futaleufú. As a result of this effective measure, no victims were registered.
Even though the worst stage is over, authorities believe that this phenomenon could repeat itself in the next decades. In consequence, the idea for the moment is that Chaitén should remain uninhabited.
The positive side is that tourism in the area is increasing and this is evidenced in the Districts of Santa Bárbara and Puerto Cárdenas, where many people ask about accommodation.
Activities such as hiking, fishing and river rafting are still practiced normally and more and more people are becoming interested in the damage caused by the volcano. This means that Chaitén has become a new attraction in the region.
This is an invitation to see Chaitén before and after the volcano eruption in our photo gallery. And if you travel around this area, do not hesitate to enjoy the countless tourist attractions still available today, as if nothing had happened.