Category Archive: Chile

Teaching Tools – Tectonic landscapes: Volcanic research at a subduction zone

After the Volcanofiles 2012 Chile Expedition, supported by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), we teamed up with GCSE Principal Examiner Martin Parham who took our experiences — photos, data, anecdotes — and turned them into useful teaching tools. As part of the RGS From the Field Programme, Martin created three lessons:

  1. A case study of active volcanism in Chile.
  2. Data analysis using some of the data we collected in the field with UV spectrometers.
  3. And, a practical task using a KML file of a walking transect at Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano.

The full lesson, with introduction and all downloadable materials, is available at the From the Field Programme website. As the website states:

This will be of particular interest to A-Level students studying Tectonic Activity, but is also a valuable resource for all students interested in understanding the activity of different volcanoes and how researchers collect data from the field.

The ‘Volcanocopter’: Quadcopters at Villarrica

This year, the Volcanofiles are bringing an instrument into the field that’s not on the typical list of field gear for volcanologists: a remote controlled helicopter. Well, a quadcopter to be exact. And we couldn’t be more excited. Aaron Curtis, PhD student at New Mexico Tech, will be joining us in the field at Villarrica, Chile and will be flying his copters around on the crater of the volcano. We hope to get some good glimpses of the lava lake via the on-board video camera.

Here’s a look at Aaron’s test flights of the quadcopters at Erebus volcano last field season:

Chile/Costa Rica Expedition 2013 LIVE Tracking

These maps will be updated live throughout the duration of our trip! Watch this space and see below for location, photo, and info updates!

LIVE Map of the Expedition


SPOT Adventures Map w/Photos (not live)
Click on the map to go to our SPOT Adventures page.


Live Webcams: Villarrica
The view of Villarrica from the Centro Volcánico Villarrica (CVV) house that the crew is staying at during fieldwork.

Follow The Volcanofiles on our adventure through Chile and Costa Rica! Using a handy device known as a SPOT Connect, we will be able to send Tweets and Facebook updates as well as update the maps shown above.

The first map will be automatically updated, live, from our SPOT Connect in the field. It will track our location throughout the expedition as well as display any messages we sent through the device (geo-tagged, of course, so you can see where the messages were sent). The second map above also tracks our progress during the expedition and will also feature images that we upload. We will only be able to upload photos when we have access to internet, so it will be updated less frequently.

Some Photos:

Beautiful New Photos of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Eruption (February 2012)

A Volcanofiles reader sent us some astounding new photos of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle eruption that began in June, 2011 and is still chugging away. It turns out that photographer Gil Weiss was visiting Puyehue park around the same time that the Volcanofiles were there — February 2012. And, he got some great shots.

Check out that steaming lava flow! What a sight! Click on the images for a full resolution version.

All three above images courtesy of Gil Weiss


If I’m oriented correctly, we were viewing the volcano from the other side. Our pictures below were taken from that ridge just beyond the volcanic cone.

Satellite Image of Puyehue’s Ash Plume

This July 3 image from NOAA’s GOES-11 satellite shows the ashy plume from Chile’s Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano drifting northwest and over the Pacific Ocean. Over a year after the initial eruption, this newly born volcanic cone is still pumping out ash and gas into the atmosphere. Last month, it even grounded some flights in South America.

Video: Chile 2012 RGS Volcano Field Expedition Slideshow

Without the help of our supporters and sponsors, our 2012 Volcano Expedition to Chile would not have been possible. Many thanks to the Royal Geographical Society for their support of our fieldwork at Villarrica, Puyehue-Cordón Caulle, and Lascar volcanoes in Chile. We created this slideshow for use by the RGS-IBG outreach programme to encourage other to pursue fieldwork and careers in geography and geosciences.

Learn more about the RGS Geographical Fieldwork Grant at The next deadline for the award is 14 June, 2012.

Clear Skies in Northern Chile: Great for Volcanology, Astronomy, and Beautiful Views

Lascar volcano in the light of the setting sun (click to embiggen)

I came accross a news article today that reminded me how much great science happens in Chile — and not just volcanology. I’m talking about the great astronomical data that comes from northern Chile’s many observatories. Thanks to the extreme altitude of the Altiplano, Chile’s northern half has exceptionally clear skies that allow for some very precise astronomical imaging of some very, very faint objects.

Astronomers at Arizona State University have just imaged an “exceptionally distant galaxy, ranked among the top 10 most distant objects currently known in space.” The galaxy in question, LAEJ095950.99+021219.1, is about 800 million light years away from us.

Chile’s clear skies are great for volcanological research, too! The lack of pollution or haze of any kind means that our remote sensing instruments (spectrometer scanners, cameras, and sun photometers), which look through lots of the atmosphere, gather very robust data with little noise.

More than just the science, though, Chile’s clear skies offer a simply stunning vista. Here are a few of my favorite images taken on The Volcanofiles’s 2012 Chile Expedition showing off the sky at sunset and the stars at night.

Setting sun in Chile, near Lascar volcano (click to embiggen)

The night sky above Lascar volcano (click to embiggen)

VIDEO: Eruption at Puyehue-Cordón Caulle in Feb 2012

As we pour through more data from our 2012 Chile volcanological field expedition, here is quite possibly my favorite thing to come out of the whole trip — video of the erupting Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano.

If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, this bad boy is the one that cancelled all of your plane flights about a year ago. When we visited in February, the sucker was still going strong. Watch out for ballistics!

Here’s an image from NASA’s Earth Observatory showing the ash cloud that stretched all the way from it’s point of origin in Chile to the other side of the world — Australia and New Zealand.

VIDEO: Villarrica’s SO2 Plume in the Ultraviolet + Chile 2013?

A big congratulations to the team who have just been shortlisted for an interview on a grant that would fund a second volcanological expedition to Chile (specifically, Villarrica) in early 2013. The interview is this Friday, so we will keep you posted as things progress!

Until then, we want to keep your interest piqued, so check out this amazing video of Villarrica’s SO2 plume as seen by an ultraviolet camera. Kelby has been parsing through tons and tons of data, but had a few minutes to put this little gem together just for you! Check it out below:

Post Fieldwork Chaos

The group has come back from the North, and we are now sorting gear and data in our favorite hostel (the Don Santiago hostel in Santiago, Chile) as well as going through a month of backed up emails.

Who knew that returning from fieldwork would be more work than doing the actual fieldwork! Here’s a glimpse into the amount of stuff we are going through:

Fieldwork equipment, gas masks, pots, pans, and lots of data!