Chilean volcano still making its mark on NZ
Thu, 16 Jun 2011 6:46p.m.
By Charlotte Shipman
Scientists say the threat from Chile's erupting volcano could be with New Zealand for some time.
The volcano has a history of explosive eruptions that last for months, and is showing no signs of slowing down.
In 1960 the same volcano erupted on and off for two months. Volcanologist Graham Leonard says the current eruptions could continue for a similar period of time.
“It looks like that 1960 episode is the best parallel to what we are seeing now, so we are talking maybe months,” says Leonard.
Puyehue-Cordon Caulle continues to belch explosive ash 10km into the atmosphere, where it enters the jetstream and begins its journey.
It took six days for the ash plume from the Chilean volcano to reach New Zealand.
The ash cloud has now gone around the entire southern hemisphere and is back hovering over Chile, but it is unlikely to stay there.
“We might see the same ash particles again on their way back around, but it might be below what the volcanic ash advisory centre is worried about,” says Leonard.
While the original ash cloud will dissipate the more times it circulates the globe, making it safer to fly, fresh dense ash will still mix with the old in the atmosphere.
Because it takes around five or six days for any volcanic activity in Chile to reach New Zealand, it means that even if the volcano stopped erupting today, New Zealand would still be seeing and feeling its effects for around another week.
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