Autor Ckelar: Felipe Aguilera

Otros autores: Jorge E. Romero, Frederick J. Swanson, Julia A. Jones, Daniele Morgavi, Guido Giordano, Matteo Trolese, Tatiana Izquierdo, Diego Perugini.

Revista científica: Andean Geology


The 22-23 April 2015 eruption of the Calbuco volcano (Southern Andes, Chile) led to extensive pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) interactions with vegetation. We seek to describe the PDCs which affected both Tepu and Frío rivers, northern Calbuco, from their timing and deposition to cooling and erosion, as well as their impacts on forests. Our investigation is based on field stratigraphy, forest disturbance assessment, and geothermometry from degassing pipes and charcoal. These PDCs reached at least ~540-603 °C, as estimated from fumaroles, and consisted of both concentrated and dilute PDCs during the first pulse (22 April) at Tepu and mainly during the second pulse (23 April) at Frío. Effects of PDCs on forest vegetation recorded in Tepu consisted of heating, abrasion, burial, and impact force. On the valley floor, trees were buried with up to 4 m of deposits from the concentrated PDCs, and all trees in this deposition zone died with no subsequent sprouting. Conversely, in the margins of the valley, defoliated fallen trees and standing shrubs indicate scorching due to the passage of dilute PDCs, and some of them were later sprouting. Estimated impact forces required to produce toppling range from 1.5 to 3.7 kPa, and PDC velocities reached up to 36 m s-1. Charring of the buried wood involved an emplacement temperature of 400-550 °C within PDC deposits. The rapid watershed formation may have facilitated infiltration, decreasing the temperature in the basal part within the deposits at the Tepu river. Runoff during the subsequent months triggered lahars and caused the rivers to incise the deposits and transport sediment downstream. This set of observations provides valuable insights into how the interaction between volcanic phenomena and margine forest on the valley floors informs eruptive processes, dynamics, and impacts. Our study is also relevant to interpret the thermal history and potential hazards of PDCs.

Full paper here