A Terrible Beauty: Chilean Volcanos

In Chile–that easternmost segment of the Pacific “ring of fire”–nothing is more chilean  than the volcanos sacred to the Mapuche, which is why I made sure to have one (along with araucarias) on the cover of Arauco … also why I made a volcano the header for this blog.  Volcanos are so numerous in Chile that apparently no one is quite sure of how many there might be–let’s say around five hundred–in a country map-active-volcanosroughly twice the size of the state of Montana.

These  figures are from an article in Wikipedia: List of volcanos in Chile.

Of this large and unknown number well over a hundred volcanos are geologically “active,” as schematically portrayed on the map to the right.


As the map indicates, many of Chile’s volcanos are embedded in the Andes, but geology chooses others to be solitary.


These titans are visible for miles and miles … like Llaima.





And here’s Llaima somewhat closer (photo from 2007).  My wife and I are standing on an old lava field, by a boulder ejected by the volcano.



Llaima erupted before our next visit in 2011.  The road had been bulldozed through cinder.


Here and there, there were miraculous blooms in the devastation.

IMG_7770But for miles, it might as well have been the moon.


Many Chileans live with the very real threat of an eruption.  Villarica, one of the most active of Chile’s volcanoes, is a case in point…. Here it displays its customary plume.


And here’s the volcano from Villarica, the eponymous city built at its base.

IMG_7744 In the streets of this city there are signs reminiscent of those of Smoky the Bear, warning of fire hazard–green, orange and red.  But in the case of Villarica they predict the likelihood of an eruption….

Eruptions can be catastrophic.  But they can also be spectacularly beautiful….

Beautiful eruption

And, as on the cover of Arauco, lightning enhances the show.  The photo below is part of an amazing series of an eruption in central Chile in 2011.


And no conclusion could be more apt than a link to that astounding set: Eruption photos 


2 thoughts on “A Terrible Beauty: Chilean Volcanos

Comments are closed.