Calbuco Simmered

An unsettling volcanic neighborhood

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Postings last week featured the symmetrical, haunting cone of Orsorno and I have more images and stories to share of this quiescent horror in waiting. Today you will learn of another stratovolcano just 16 miles from Orsorno, also ancient; unlike Orsorno, misshapen and a current threat to local residents.

Calbuco is its name, taken from an indigenous language, “Blue Water” in English. It must refer to the water of Lake Llanquihe. As we drove Road 225 Calbuco was on one side, to the south, the lake on the other. When we visited Petrohué Falls, the river forms a southern boundary to the Llanquihue National Reserve from which Calbuco rises.

April 2015 Eruptions

Where we planned out trip, nine months before this day in February 2016, Calbuco erupted without warning with explosions one step below that of Mount St. Helen’s 1980 event. The volcanic plume of ash and cinders reached more than 10 kilometers ( 6+ miles ) high. It was fortunate the wind direction took the ash away from the nearby cities of Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt. Each is about 17 miles from Calbuco. As it was, the catastrophe destroyed crops and made farmers lives difficult. Farmers and the residents of the rural village Ensenada, nine miles away, evacuated to save their lives. Abandoned farm animals perished. Village residents returned to homes, roads, gardens covered in ash.

Here is a photograph of an ash and cinder drift from the explosion, just off Road 555 on the slopes of Orsorno volcano, above Ensenada village.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Settlement Beneath Active Volcanos

At the start of the 18th Century the provinces around Lake Llanquihe were thinly populated. The government of Chile, in anticipation of seizure of the land by European powers, cooperated with efforts of German emigres to resettle German families fleeing a disorderly revolution. Today the region show the cultural influence of these settlers. Here is the exterior of the Club Alemain (“German Club”), the restaurant along Road 225 were we had an excellent lunch. ††

Look closely at the chimney. The stones are black and porous, volcanic cinders from Calbuco eruptions.

German settlers were there to witness, and suffer, the 1893-1895 Calbuco eruptions, one of the most explosive experienced in Southern Chile. Debris was ejected eight kilometers with large flows of hot mud. Farmers on the eastern shore of Lake Llanquihe petitioned the government to be resettled elsewhere. Without options, many remained.

Here is a view of the monster, a threatening presence to the south. That is vapor from the active caldera. Today, people live here, enjoying the current moments of their surroundings.

Calbuco Volcano, February 15, 2016
Click me for the next post in this series, “German Club to the watermill.”
Click me for the first post in this series, “Orsorno Volcano and Tourists.”
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills