Chaitén is a volcanic caldera that is located in southern Chile that reaches an elevation of 3,681 feet. It is thought that this volcano once held a rhyolite obsidian lava dome that reached 3,156 in height, but this was destroyed after its most recent eruption in 2008. In the past, this volcano has released grey obsidian, which was used by pre-Columbian cultures to make many objects, some of which have been found 250 miles away from the volcano.

Chaitén experienced the beginning of a new eruptive phase on May 3, 2008 and the Chilean government began evacuation procedures for the town of Chaitén that same day. Although all 4,200 people were successfully evacuated over the next few days, one elderly person died while heading to Puerto Montt. By the afternoon of that day, the plume of ash that was released from the volcano extended through Chile and Argentina to the Atlantic Ocean. Three days later seismic activity had increased and more ash began to emit from the volcano. Pyroclastic flows, were recorded from the volcano and it is thought that some lava explosions may have occurred. Scientific personnel and any remaining citizens were evacuated from the area at that time. The eruption lasted until 2010, causing massive damage to the area around the volcano. Because the town of Chaitén suffered such extensive damage, plans were suggested to move it, but nine hundred people are currently rebuilding the town in its original location.

Image Caption: Image of the rhyolitic lava dome of Chaitén Volcano during its 2008-2010 eruption. Credit: Sam Beebe/Wikipedia