Chile – Activity at Villarrica Volcano requires yellow alert level to be maintained

(ORDO NEWS) — Authorities are maintaining a yellow alert for the Villarrica volcano after a seismic episode was recorded at 13:07 local time on January 1, which, according to monitoring stations, was directly related to the movement of internal magma flows.

For most of 2022, the Villarrica volcano was the focus of geologists in Chile and Argentina due to its intense activity, which has not changed since the beginning of the year, when Chilean geologists reported a “long period (LP)” earthquake, which was announced in the new National Service for Geology and Mining (Sernageomin) Special Volcanic Activity Report (REAV), which caused alarm in monitoring centers and also signaled that a new event is related to the internal hydrodynamics of the Villarrica volcano in the La Araucania region.

The earthquake recorded at 13:07 on January 1 is directly related to the movement of internal fluids, which had a reduced displacement of 50.74 cm². “No surface activity was observed due to meteorological conditions at the time,” the experts said.

Since November 8, a yellow alert has been in effect in several nearby communities due to “anomalous behavior of the volcano at levels above the base threshold, understood as instability.”

The National Emergency Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior of Chile (Onemi), which from 2023 will be renamed the National Service for the Prevention and Relief of Natural Disasters (Senapred), explained that “in the municipalities of Villarrica, Pucon and Curarrejue in the La Araucania region and Pangipulli commune in the Los Rios region maintains a yellow alert.

Meanwhile, volcano expert Alberto Caselli said in a radio interview that “there is volcanic seismicity and low volcanic activity where the magma column rises and remains near the surface.” He also explained that when the column rises, it settles near the crater and forms a lava lake.

“Gas bubbles that rise up explode and eject material.” In his opinion, after the earthquake in Chile with a magnitude of just over six points, “dissipation occurred in the tectonic plates, due to which there was more space in the magma chambers, and an overpressure was created in the gases that eventually make their way to the surface.” “Villarrica always has this type of eruptions, what we call basic volcanism, just like Copajue,” Caselli said.

“The activity is very low, and if the amount of seismic energy is not increasing, then there is no room for more,” he added. In addition, the volcanologist explained that it has a very high altitude, “at the moment it affects 150 meters around the crater.”

“It’s not more of a concern because it’s being monitored and if they see there’s an increase in energy, then of course they alert people who are close to the volcano,” he added.

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