Ash from the Chaiten Volcano
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Ash from the Chaiten Volcano

May 14, 2008

The Chaiten Volcano in Chile has been erupting throughout early May, 2008. The plume put off by the volcano stretched east across Argentina to the Atlantic Ocean. This image shows the plume on May 6, after its second eruption, and this image shows the plume on May 3, the day after its initial eruption.

The eruptions have caused a great deal of volcanic ash to settle on the ground - in some places, more than 1.5 meters (5 feet). Today's image, captured by the MODIS on the Terra satellite, shows the region on May 12, 2008. Chaiten's plume (lower left) is still visible and it rises above the clouds near and around the volcano. The plume is more diffuse over Argentina and the ocean than it was a few days ago. On the ground is a gray coating of ash.

According to Australia's ABC Science, the ash is expected to cause long-term damage to Patagonia's pine and cypress forests, as well as foul water bodies in the region. By coating the vegetation, the ash poses hazards to livestock and wildlife. Volcanic ash actually consists of tiny jagged particles of volcanic rock and glass. Unlike ash produced by burning vegetation, this material is hard, abrasive, and slightly corrosive. ABC Science reported that ash from Chaiten had dusted hundreds of square kilometers in Argentina, also causing eye irritation and breathing difficulties for residents.

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