South America :: Chile
Caption
Near the southern tip of South America, a trio of volcanoes lines up perpendicular to the Andes Mountains. The most active is the westernmost, Volcan Villarrica, pictured in this photo-like satellite image. The 2,582-m (9,357-ft) stratovolcano is mantled by a 30-sq km (10-sq mi) glacier field, most of it amassed south and east of the summit in a basin made by a caldera depression. To the east and northeast, the glacier is covered by ash and other volcanic debris, giving it a rumpled, brown look. The western slopes are streaked with innumerable gray-brown gullies, the paths of lava and mudflows (lahars). Beyond the reach of ash and debris deposits, the volcano is surrounded by forests; the area is a national park. The largest recent eruption occurred in the early 1970s; lava flows melted glaciers and generated lahars that spread at speeds of 30-40 km per hour (20-30 mph). Image courtesy of NASA.
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