Satellite: Calbuco Volcano Leaves Behind Massive Ashfall

April 23rd, 2015 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

The explosive double eruption of Calbuco Volcano in Chile late yesterday afternoon and last night, combined with mostly clear skies, allowed some spectacular photos and videos, even from a drone.

Here’s one of the prettiest photos of the first eruption, which occurred before sunset:


The two mature eruption plumes as seen by the GOES weather satellite show plume top temperatures so cold that the stratosphere was surely penetrated, a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for effects on global climate (arrows indiate volcano location, satellite imagery courtesy of CIRA at ColoState):

From low Earth orbit, this was how the area around the snow-capped volcano looked just hours before the eruption yesterday from NASA’s Terra satellite, and then again this morning. Note the large region where the snow-capped mountains and the valleys are covered in volcanic ash:

61 Responses to “Satellite: Calbuco Volcano Leaves Behind Massive Ashfall”

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  1. Johan says:

    out of genuine curiosity, what circumstances would make it a sufficient conditon to have an effect on global climate ?

    • millions of tons of sulfur ejected into the stratosphere, preferably from a volcano in the deep tropics which helps export the material into both hemispheres. Pinatubo was ideal.

      • Chagas_immobilus says:

        Does SO2 need to be ejected into the stratosphere to have ANY effect on regional weather patterns, i.e. Bardarbunga pumping out 40-60K metric tons a day during its months-long eruption last autumn?

        • MarkB says:

          My understanding is that it would be more accurate to say “SO2 needs to be injected into the stratosphere to have a PERSISTENT effect”. SO2 in the troposphere has a much shorter lifetime because of the high level of mixing and the water cycle whereas the atmospheric exchange across the tropopause is much slower.

  2. rah says:

    Volcanoes are no danger to the environment or climate really. I mean after all they aren’t emitting carbon dioxide of the ultra powerful kind that can only be produced by human activity and so this is just a pretty show for everyone but those in the immediate vicinity. Do I really need to put a sarc tag on that statement?

    • sarcasm and reality are indistinguisable now. Besides, at this point, what difference does it make?

      • rah says:

        But But Doc! All that ash will cause darkening of any snow and glaciers around and decrease their albedo and thus cause them to melt faster so that sea levels will rise even faster. And then that warm melt water will end up down to the ocean depths. Gotta be worth a few extra megatons of stored thermal energy don’t ya think? 😉

      • Chagas_immobilus says:

        Gahhhhh, the dreaded Hillary defense!
        That’s like pouring salt on a slug!

      • Alan Poirier says:

        These days I feel as if I’m living in a Monty Python skit. You know, the one about the dead parrot….

      • David A says:

        rah is right. Humans emit 100-200 times more CO2 than do volcanoes.

  3. Gibo says:

    Tal vez más de 1 árbol puede haber ayudado

  4. Norman says:

    Have they linked this eruption to climate change, whoops excuse me, Climate disruption?

    I mean it has not erupted in 42 years!

    I think it must be the sea level rise putting extra pressure on the ocean floor and squeezing out the magma at the surface causing all these volcanic eruptions that have not happened in 42 years!!

  5. John Smith says:

    great photos – thanks

  6. Mark Luhman says:

    Does this mean Galvin might have to do even more adjustments this year than last to squeeze out the warmest year ever again?

  7. Aaron S says:

    So zero cooling in UAH data expected from this event?

  8. Thanks, Dr. Spencer.
    The illustrations and excellent photographs help to appraise the power of nature when the Calbuco Volcano erupted in Chile in April 22, 2015 after sleeping for 42 years (Thanks Norman).

  9. Every time there is a pick up in geomagnetic activity such was the case Apr. 16 and again last month around Mar. 17 there seems to be a pick up in geological activity from the time of the geomagnetic event to up to two weeks following the geo magnetic event with the number of magnitude quakes 5.0 or higher increasing, much less this time some volcanic activity, in contrast to before the geomagnetic event.

    • geran says:

      Sal, with all of your research into correlations, have you found any connection between earthquakes/volcanoes and Earth Day?


    • Aaron S says:

      Salvatore, this is a cool idea. Have you had any luck quantifying the relationship? Very interesting.

      • fonzarelli says:

        Aaron, maybe salvatore is going a little overboard here, but isn’t it true that solar activity correlates with volcanic activity in general? I’ve always heard that yet it seems to get little mention in the climate blogs. (…and i figure that if anyone would know, it would be YOU!)

        • Aaron S says:

          There is a link in the literature (that i can find), but it is related to the position of water during glacial vs interglacial cycles. The idea is High latitude Ice and low sea levels characterizing a glacial phases create a different pattern of volcanics than during an interglacial when there is less continental ice at high latitudes and higher sea levels globally. However, the periodicity of this would be at ~100,000 years(at least for the last million years or so) I am curious if there could be a relationship at higher frequencies. The obvious test would be to look for patterns that match the 11yr sun cycle and 11yr geomagnetic cycle in volcanic proxies like ash layers in a lake. At least that is where i would start. However my gut feeling is the magnetic field is created within the earth and altered by CME that vary with solar activity, and i dont currently understand the link back to impacting the inside of the earth.

    • David A says:

      Salvatore: How many times do you need to be reminded that you predictions skills are nonexistent?

      “…here is my prediction for climate going forward, this decade will be the decade of cooling.”
      – Salvatore del Prete, 11/23/2010

      “Temperatures in response to this will decline in the near future, in contrast to the steady state of temperature we presently have,or have been having for the past 15 years or so.”
      – Salvatore Del Prete, 11/6/2012

  10. ossqss says:

    The very beginning. It played a bit choppy for me.

    • fonzarelli says:

      Salvatore (or anyone else who might be interested), note the two graphs above… The first being twentieth century southern hemisphere temps (courtesy of bart); the second is of solar irradience (courtesy of david appell). Southern hemisphere temps correlate well where they over lap with uah and carbon growth at mauna loa. Note the close link between twentieth century data of both data sets. High peaks correlate with rising temps and low peaks correlate with flat temps…

      • If you combine long term solar activity with the phase of the PDO/AMO and ENSO one will find a very strong correlation between global temperatures and those factors.

      • Doug Cotton says:

        I’ve already shown why the radiative forcing GH conjecture is nothing but fictitious fiddled physics. It was in comments above, but it seemed I had to reiterate it, which I did in this comment and the two following comments.

  11. This eruption was 4.5 or so on the explosive index and ash went to 6 miles.

    • Aaron S says:

      That is a cool idea, but <46 SSN is a pretty liberal standard. Still interesting. I want to take a look what percent of the ssn has been below that threshold. Cant now in car.


    Again look at the geological activity following the geomagnetic storm of Apr. 16.

    I think if solar activity goes into a very quiet mode that brings the AP index to a reading of less then 5 on a monthly basis but for the other 1% of the time a burst of solar activity takes place resulting in a geomagnetic storm of say K8(AP index 200+ or so ) or higher that this will result in creating a shock to the earth’s core (shock 1)and magnetosphere(shock 2 ) which spurs major geological activity. The first shock is a constant increase of MUONS into the core of the earth a by product of galactic cosmic rays (due to prolonged weak solar conditions) combined with a massive flux of charge particles(the 2nd shock) from the geomagnetic storm disrupting the earth’s magnetosphere and thus earth’s geomagnetic field. These two shocks for lack of a better word then combine to create just enough added instability to the already unstable plates to bring about major geological activity.

    The more extreme, the relative values of the AP index becomes, the greater the geological activity.

    The weaker geomagnetic field of the earth compounding these effects.

    • David A says:

      Again, your prediction skills are nonexistent:

      “…here is my prediction for climate going forward, this decade will be the decade of cooling.”
      – Salvatore del Prete, 11/23/2010

      • Aaron S says:

        He is doing just as well as the UN IPCC or academic consensus at predicting. Actual temperature is consistent with the models with low CO2 sensitivity. So basically the existing IPCC low case is consistent with a base case and they are missing a reasonable low case. Salvatore’s solar model is probably a good very low to low case and should be included. I think the difference is Salvatore will learn and adjust his model. IPCC has yet to even modify their views or consider other, natural variables.

  13. Norman says:

    Holy Cow! They are linking earthquakes an volcanoes to climate change for real! Wow! I used to think Doug Cotton and Climate Science were similar (making up whatever data they want to suit their hypothesis). Now I think Climate Science is worse. No need to provide detailed mechanisms and mathematical proofs, just say it and millions will believe!

    Climate Change is now reached true Cult Status. Like old Doug Cotton, just keep repeating over and over and convince yourself it is true.

    • Doug Cotton says:

      I’ve already shown why the radiative forcing GH conjecture is nothing but fictitious fiddled physics, Norman in this comment and following.

    • Slipstick says:

      Certainly the pressure changes on the crust due to temperature changes and mass movements of melting ice could affect the timing of slippage. That is, it would not be unreasonable to believe that a particular earthquake or volcanic eruption happened now rather than sooner or later because of climate change, although demonstrating that would be of such complexity as to render it realistically impossible. However, to say that climate change “caused” the event is, in a word, ridiculous. The event was caused by faults in the ground and would have happened eventually without the effects of climate change. A single large earthquake is going to ring our spheroid a lot harder and cause more slippage elsewhere than the slow creep, or even calving event, of a receding glacier.

    • lewis says:

      The true believers will need to sacrifice – they will choose their virgins from the non-believers.

      • mpainter says:

        They now sacrifice our feathered friends, passing them through giant bird grinders or zapping them in mid-flight with a giant array of mirrors. That is not working, so virgins may very well be next.

        • fonzarelli says:

          mpainter, nice back and forth there you had a couple posts back. (i followed it to the bitter end) One has to always remember that most all alarmists who visit this site are on a power trip. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be here in the first place. So, we’re always going to have to expect “alinski” type tactical debating coming from these people. They’re gonna be rude, they’re gonna spinmaster things and they’re gonna say things over and over again ’til whatever they say is deemed true. A while back there was a fellow by the name of bassman, who had alot to say from the alarmist perspective without all the crap that usually comes from his type. (unless he got upset or some one ticked him off) But he was a rarety and alas he is no more… victim, i suppose, of the natural selection process that brings us the likes of slipstick instead.

          • mpainter says:

            Fonzarelli, thanx heaps for the nice compliment.
            I agree, there be some disagreeable types and you sometimes wonder if it would not be best to ignore them. But whenever I see the alarmist hype I smell zebras and serengetti (ha ha hoho). Slip stick (what a name) showed better manners than most, but then he lost his cool.

  14. Jim Bowen says:

    Check out the “gravity waves” produced in the atmosphere (specifically, the mesosphere) by the volcano: Note: The content on this link may change daily, so it may be gone when you look. If so, try:, or

  15. The following is an analysis done by Bob Weber. Interesting.

    Hemispheric power spiked the highest prior to Apr 22 on April 16, at 66 GW, and was still lingering at 33 GW by the 22nd (background is about 10 GW or less). The spike was triggered by a high-density solar wind spike of ~17 on Apr 14. Followed by southern polar coronal hole high-speed solar wind nearly up to 700 km/s that caused a G2-class geomagnetic storm on Apr 16-17. Once again see, this time for Apr 14-23, and notice the magnitude of the G2 event as compared to the flare events.

    During the G2 event, the AL index, as induced from the magnetosphere ring current, dropped from zero nT to -400nT, and fluctuated between -100 and -400nT between 4/15 and 4/17, while Dst also went negative. Whereas from 4/18 to 4/21, through the flares, AL dropped roughly to -250nT, and Dst took a smaller dive than during the G2 storm.

    Since this research was done in a serial fashion as I wrote this, I will now conclude that the G2 storm primed the Earth, charged it up, and the solar flares both augmented and triggered the telluric currents that drove both the Chilean volcano, and the devastating earthquakes.

    I have high confidence in this analysis as I’ve already seen so many other such instances before.

    There’s your electric weather effects (electric, magnetic, electromagnetic) report for today.

    Try doing a statistical analysis on that…

  16. jimc says:

    Nothing to do with volcanism, but some appropriate thought from of all people – the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
    “Cool It”

  17. Mike B says:

    I live in Santiago and the air in the volcano picture looks a bit cleaner than the air in our fair city during rush hour. If it does cool the climate here we could hear the old Chilean saying: “Mas helado que los cocos de Tarzan!”

  18. ROD HAY says:

    When the world is in torment, and God’s word is not observed, then nature will take its course, predominantly influenced by God to teach us all a lesson as to how fragile the earth can be and how angry God can be at our indulgences, cruelty, and lack of appreciation as to where we live and how we look after our fellow person.

    • Leo Morgan says:

      What specifically do you mean by the world being in torment?
      Which documents do you consider to be God’s Word, and what evidence did you use to exclude the rival claimants for that title?
      What data should you measure to support your being taught a lesson theory?
      What measurements would you regard as disproving that claim?

    • tom0mason says:

      4 billion years and still going.
      IMHO the fragility of this planet has been greatly overestimated.

  19. Sometimes I think it would be so ironic if increased volcanic activity related to prolonged minimum solar activity could reconcile why the global temperature trend is down when the sun is in a prolonged minimum state.

    Imagine if it could be that simple, that would be hilarious because of all the extensive thoughts and theories that are being put forth (including myself) on why, how, if solar variability is linked to the climate.

    That aside I am certain increased volcanic activity during prolonged minimum solar periods of time is part of the reason why the global temperature trend is down when solar activity is very quiet.

    • Bruiser says:

      The SORCE data for radiation at 1 AU shows that, despite Solar Cycle 24 being one of the quietest in terms of sun spot activity for about a century, radiation levels are running slightly above SC23. It will be interesting in a couple of years to see if the minimums of SC24 approach the levels seen in 2008.

  20. Another geomagnetic storm today May 13. K6

    Let’s see the geological response to this over the next 14 days.

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