Impacts of the Calbuco eruption, Chile

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Earth Sciences

Abstract

A major explosive volcanic eruption in Chile has occurred at volcan Calbuco. This volcano has been quiet for over 40 years, and showed no sign that it was about to erupt until just a few hours beforehand. This eruption created a spectacular plume, which sent ash and gases high into the atmosphere, disrupting air transport and causing misery on the ground. In the three days after the eruption, volcanic ash fell across a wide area of central South America, across areas that include ancient native forests; cities, towns and villages; and farms, both on land and at sea.

We plan to carry out field work across areas of Chile and Argentina where ash fell, working with local scientists to measure how much ash fell out during the eruption; and to work out what the effects of the eruption are both in the weeks after the eruption, and in the longer term. Although this is a major eruption, much of the deposits will soon become buried within the soil; blown away by winds, or washed away by rain, so we will need to work quickly to find the ash where it fell. Since ash fell out across an area where many millions of people live, we should be able to work out how much the deposits have changed in the days and weeks since eruption, by locating photographs posted across social media at the time.

One of the things that we hope to learn from this eruption is to work out how to help people cope better when ash falls out across their cities and farms, and to use this information to help plan for future events.

Planned Impact

(a) Potential Beneficiaries on Different Timescales.
i - Volcano monitoring and emergency management agencies in Chile (SERNAGEOMIN, ONEMI) and Argentina
ii - Forestry management agencies in Chile (CONAF), and elsewhere
iii - Austral University, Chile, in Valdivia
iv - Agencies in Chile, Argentina and elsewhere with interests in long-term planning, and mitigation of consequences of volcanic activity on critical infrastructure (agriculture, aquaculture, water, transport, etc).
v - The aviation industry
vi - The 'affected public' in Chile and Argentina

(b) How might beneficiaries benefit

i - Volcano monitoring and emergency management agencies: improved understanding of the nature of ash fallout during volcanic eruptions; of it's physical properties, longevity in the environment and effective strategies for its removal.

ii - Forestry management agencies in Chile (CONAF), and elsewhere: improved understanding of the impacts of volcanic fallout on plants, including ancient tree stands; and consquences for ecosystems on short- (week-month) and intermediate (years-decades) timescales.

iii - Austral University, Chile, in Valdivia: training in field volcanology; awareness-raising and capacity building, helping to raise awareness volcanic risk and the scientific management of volcanic crises.

iv - Agencies in Chile, Argentina and elsewhere with interests in long-term planning, and mitigation of consequences of volcanic activity on critical infrastructure (agriculture, aquaculture, water, transport, etc): improved understanding of the consequences of volcanic activity, and deposition of volcanic ash across different settings; improved understanding of whether and how earlier mitigation strategies have coped with renewed ash fallout and deposition.

v - Aviation industry: through improved techniques for the detection of airborne volcanic ash from satellites or airborne detectors; and experiments with natural ash samples of the physical consequences of ash for aircraft engines.

vi - Through continued efforts to promote and explain the work of volcanologists using plain language (in Spanish and English) across traditional media (print, broadcast) and social media (blogs, microblogging).

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Our quick response work to this eruption involved the collection of ash samples, mapping of the transient deposits, and follow up analysis of the ash and its constituent minerals. We also carried out some parallel work on the satellite remote sensing observations of ash and gas release from the eruptIon, This work has helped us to better understand the processes that led to the immediate eruption, and we currently have a manuscript which is near completion which will document the work.
Exploitation Route Our work is in progress, and results will be shared in the public domain when the work is complete. We shall uploaded curated datasets to the NERC data portal shortly, and the outcomes of this work are already informing our future plans for understanding the impacts of volcanic ash fallout from eruptions.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

 
Description NERC Summer of Science 2015 Activities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact For the NERC 'Summer of Science 2015', we went 'on tour' with the London Volcano model that had been created for the NERC/ESRC 'STREVA' project. The model volcano was the focus of activities and events for 14 days over 4 different physical locations, and staffed by a team of 25 volunteers, including undergraduate students, NERC DTP and other graduate students, NERC-funded postdocs, and researchers. Activities were supported by the education and outreach teams of the British Geological Survey, the Diamond Light Source, and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH). Wider audiences were engaged through the London Volcano Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and wordpress (blog) sites. We gave out thousands of postcards, and hundreds of volcano! stickers to visitors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://londonvolcano.com
 
Description News article 'why can't we predict when a volcano will erupt' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article for 'The Conversation' linking ongoing research into the remote sensing of volcanoes with the results of a new study. This stimulated lots of activity on social media, and over 6400 page reads in the month after publication. Commentators (on social media) included a number of school teachers and university faculty recommending the article to their students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://theconversation.com/why-cant-we-predict-when-a-volcano-will-erupt-53898
 
Description School STEMFEST 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Workshop and talks for Year 10 students to encourage participation in STEM to A-level and beyond
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Volcanoes - an exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I curated a public exhibition to run at Oxford's Weston Library from 10 February 2017 - 21 May 2017. This event attracted a lot of media coverage (print, radio and television), and parallel activities, ranging from workshops to public talks. During the exhibition over 50,000 people visited. Over 100 articles about the exhibition were published in the press, with a notional reach of 200 million potential readers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/whatson/whats-on/upcoming-events/2017/feb/volcanoes