The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile is erupting for the first time in 42 years, spewing huge amounts of ash into the atmosphere and prompting evacuations across a 24-mile wide area. And the results are absolutely stunning.

The eruption began today at 6pm, local time. Calbuco is located about 620 miles south of Santiago in a national reserve. That’s a good thing, because this is potentially a very destructive eruption.

Advertisement

Calbuco is a stratovolcano — one composed of layers of hardened ash, lava, pumice and other materials. In my admittedly limited understanding of exploding mountains, that means its structure is prone to collapse during eruption, potentially resulting in a pyroclastic flow. That’s a fancy name for a superheated wall of gas and rock that can travel at speeds up to 186mph and which destroys everything in its path. Mount Vesuvius, in Italy, is also a stratovolcano.

Currently, only ash is being emitted by the eruption, but local airline LATAM has already cancelled flights through the area and locals are stocking up on fuel and water.

Advertisement

Photo: Philip Oyarzo Calisto

IndefinitelyWild is a new publication about adventure travel in the outdoors, the vehicles and gear that get us there and the people we meet along the way. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Advertisement