USDA Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Research Station

Pacific Northwest Research Station
333 SW First Ave.
Portland, OR 97204

(503) 808-2100

US Forest Service
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Chaitén Photoessay

Rio Chaitén Bridge

Rio Chaitén is located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) due south of Chaitén volcano. The area was inundated by a large volume of sediment triggered by intense rainfall following the eruption, which flooded the town and deposited 1 to 2 meters (3 to 6 feet) of sand and gravel. Much of the material in these deposits originated as tephra fall in the steep headwaters of the Rio Chaiten. Fortunately, residents were evacuated in the first days of the eruption, so the town was not occupied at the time of flooding. Residents began returning to the town within months, despite threats of further flooding and eruptions and efforts by the government to prevent resettlement. Government-sanctioned recovery began in early 2011, when workers began restoring power lines, streets, and the water supply.

The threat of further volcanic damage was made clear on February 19, 2009, when part of the volcano’s new lava dome collapsed, sending a large volume of hot rock down the Rio Chaitén and to within 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) of the town. Since the initial eruption, the river continues to transport large amounts of sediment to the Gulf of Corcavado, building an extensive delta on the west side of the town that threatens to restrict access to the ferry port. However, the risk of further damage to the town has been greatly reduced through engineering projects that have heavily armored the channel banks.

Photo Gallery

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US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Last Modified: Tuesday,05August2014 at09:40:48CDT

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