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Villarrica Volcano in Central Chile – March 29th, 2010

39.4S 71.9W

March 29th, 2010 Category: Image of the day, Volcanoes

Chile - February 25th, 2010

Chile - February 25th, 2010

Many of the snow-capped peaks amidst the Andes Mountains around the Chile-Argentina border belong to volcanoes. Here, snow-covered Villarrica, one of Chile’s most active volcanoes, rises above the lake and town of the same name (identifiable here as the white peak that is second-farthest to the left, southeast of the lake).

The volcano is also known as Rucapillán, a Mapuche word meaning “House of the Pillán”. It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain along the Gastre Fault. The Villarrica volcano, along with Quetrupillán and the Chilean portion of Lanín, are protected within Villarrica National Park.

The upper part of Villarrica is permanently covered by snow and has some 40 km2 of glaciers. The largest glacier of Villarrica is the Pichillancahue-Turbio Glacier situated on its southeastern flank, which has the most favorable environment for glacier formation.

Villarrica, with is lava of basaltic-andesitic composition is one of only four volcanoes worldwide known to have an active lava lake within its crater. The volcano usually generates strombolian eruptions, with ejection of incandescent pyroclasts and lava flows. Melting of snow and glacier ice as well as rainfalls often cause massive lahars (mud and debris flows). Currently the volcano covers up an area of 400 km2 and has a volume 250 km3 according to estimates.

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