While active volcanoes are obvious targets of interest from the standpoint of natural hazards, there are some dormant volcanoes that nevertheless warrant concern due to their geologic history of activity. One such volcano is Sollipulli, located in central Chile near the border with Argentina. The volcano sits in the southern Andes Mountains within Chile’s Parque Nacional Villarica. This photograph by an astronaut on the International Space Station highlights the summit of the volcano (2,282 meters, or 7,487 feet, above sea level) and the bare slopes above the tree line. Lower elevations are covered with green forests indicative of Southern Hemisphere summer.
The summit of the volcano is occupied by a four-kilometer wide caldera, currently filled with a snow-covered glacier (image center). While most calderas form after violent, explosive eruptions, the types of rock and deposits associated with such an event have not been found at Sollipulli. The geologic evidence does indicate explosive activity 2,900 years before present, and the production of lava flows approximately 700 years before present. Together with the craters and scoria cones along the outer flanks of the caldera, this history suggests that Sollipulli could experience violent eruptions again, presenting a potential hazard to such towns as Melipeuco and the greater region.
Astronaut photograph ISS038-E-12569 was acquired on December 6, 2013, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 400 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 38 crew. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by William L. Stefanov, Jacobs at NASA-JSC.
- ISS - Digital Camera