Will the Chilean Earthquake Trigger a Volcanic Eruption?

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Last year Sebastian Watt proposed a volcano-earthquake connection.  Geologists are now watching the region around the Chilean earthquake to see if he was correct.

“...The other scientific fallout from the Chilean earthquake will be a test of the volcano-earthquake connection suggested by Sebastian Watt in last year’s EPSL article. According to Watt’s (and others) research, we should expect to see an uptick in volcanic activity over the next year within 500 km of the epicenter of the earthquake – so watch places like Longavi, Descabezado Grande, Calabozos, Copahue, Chillan and Lonquimay amongst many others….”

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“...Last year, Pyle and his colleagues confirmed that this was a real effect in Chile, showing that increases in volcanic activity have occurred following other large earthquakes along its coastline.

In particular, they found that after a magnitude 8.3 in 1906 and a magnitude 9.5 earthquake in 1960, there were three or four more volcanic eruptions within about 500 kilometres of the epicentre in the following year than would normally be expected.

Last week’s earthquake occurred on the same section of fault that caused the earthquake Darwin observed in 1835. “We’ll be using satellite measurements of heat and deformation to keep an eye on the entire arc of volcanoes, from Llaima in the south to Tupungatito in the north,” says Pyle.

Pyle stresses that the risk to local people from this extra volcanism is likely to be minimal. “At volcanoes that are already active we might see an increase in steam explosions, but we don’t expect it to present a significantly increased danger,” he says….”

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