Fumarole activity in the crater of Guallatiri
|Elevation||6,071 m (19,918 ft) |
|Isolation||25 kilometres (16 mi)|
|Location||Putre, Parinacota Province, Arica y Parinacota, Chile|
|Age of rock||Pleistocene-Holocene|
|Volcanic field||Nevados de Quimsachata|
Guallatiri is a 6,071-metre-high (19,918 ft) volcano in Chile. It is located southwest of the Nevados de Quimsachata volcanic group and is sometimes considered to be part of that group. It is a stratovolcano with fumaroles around the summit, which may be either a lava dome or a pyroclastic cone. The lower flanks of the volcano are covered by lava flows and lava domes; the volcano has erupted mainly dacite along with andesite and rhyolite.
Guallatiri has been active in historical times with a number of eruptions, the last in 1960. Fumarolic and seismic activity is ongoing and has resulted in the deposition of sulfur and other minerals on the volcano. The volcano is covered by an ice cap.
Guallatiri is located in the Putre commune, Parinacota province of Arica y Parinacota, Chile. The towns of Putre, Socoroma and Zapahuira are closest to the volcano, other communities are Ancuta, Chachacomani, Chiriguaya, Jancoaque and Uncaliri. The name of the volcano comes from Aymara Wallatiri, meaning "place of the wallata", with wallata meaning Andean goose. The volcano is also known as Huallatiri, Huallatire, Guallatire and Punata.
The volcano is located in the Lauca National Park, along with the two higher Pomerape and Parinacota volcanoes; the volcanoes Parinacota, Quisiquisini, Guallatiri and Poquentica form the eastern limit of the Lauca basin. Sometimes Guallatiri is considered to be part of the Nevados de Quimsachata volcanic chain, a 50 kilometres (31 mi) long chain of volcanoes.
Other volcanoes with historical phreatic-phreatomagmatic activity in northern Chile include Irruputuncu, Isluga, Lascar and San Pedro. Further, fumarolic activity has been reported at Alitar, Lastarria, Olca, Ollague, Putana and Tacora.
Guallatiri is a 6,071 metres (19,918 ft) high complex volcano formed mainly by lava flows but also featuring dacitic lava domes. The summit is formed by a pyroclastic cone; alternative interpretations see it as a lava dome or a hydrothermally altered, scree-covered lava plug. The vent lies south of the summit and the summit crater is breached westwards and northwards. Lava flows radiate from the summit and lava domes dot its flanks. Some lava flows are up to 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) long and 100 metres (330 ft) high and thick lava flows are particularly noticeable on the western and northern slope of the volcano. "Breadcrust" lava bombs are found on the northern flanks, probably carried there by glaciers. Other eruption products include ash flows and tephra layers. The former are particularly developed on the south-southwest flank and the tephras particularly on the southern-eastern flanks. Guallatiri is 19.3 kilometres (12.0 mi) wide and 1,700-metre-high (5,600 ft) above the basement rocks and has a total volume of 40 cubic kilometres (9.6 cu mi)-86 cubic kilometres (21 cu mi), and its foot covers a surface of about 292 square kilometres (113 sq mi).
Guallatiri is underpinned by the rocks of the Lauca Formation, which has an age of 10–0.5 million years. An older basement domain known as the Lupica Formation is exposed north, west and south of the volcano and contains sediments and volcanic rocks. It is of Oligocene-Miocene age. Like other volcanoes in the area, it formed on top of the Chilean Altiplano.
Guallatiri may have formed during the Pliocene, with a second stage of volcanic activity recommencing during the Pleistocene; the volcano started forming about 710,000 years ago. Two stages of volcanic activity in the Pleistocene-Holocene have been identified, although a three-stage chronology of volcanic activity has been proposed as well; this proposal envisages two earlier lavic stages and a third stage characterized by the emission of pyroclastics and lava domes. Volcanic activity in the Quimsachata volcanic chain migrated south from the now deeply eroded Acotango and Humarata volcano to the more recent Capurata and Guallatiri volcanoes. There is evidence indicating that lava flows forming the Stage I of activity were erupted during the middle Pleistocene and the lava domes forming Stage II were erupted in the Pleistocene-Holocene. The lava bombs on the northern flank suggest that small volume activity occurred in recent times.
Glaciation and hydrology
Guallatiri has glaciers, including one on the summit and an ice cap above 5,500 metres (18,000 ft) elevation. It is the most southern volcano in the Central Andes with an ice cap as south of Guallatiri tropical summer precipitation is insufficient to support glaciation; only south of 27° does winter precipitation become sufficient to support glaciers again. Fumaroles have melted holes in the glaciers. Thin moraines are preserved on the flanks at altitudes of 4,260 metres (13,980 ft).
Guallatiri has erupted andesite, dacite and rhyolite, with dacite dominating. Pyroxene andesites are found up to 4,800 metres (15,700 ft) of altitude. Analysis of lava at Domo Tinto lava dome has indicated that phenocrysts include amphibole, biotite, pyroxene and some apatite. Mafic inclusions have also been found in Domo Tinto rocks. The Domo Tinto eruption may have been triggered by the injection of basaltic andesite into two magma chambers containing crystalline andesite. Native deposits of sulfur are also found and sulfur is the most common mineral in fumarolic deposits; but arsenic, boron, calcium and silicon are also found. Such fumarolic deposits at Guallatiri and the other Andean volcano Lastarria aside from pure sulfur also consist of anhydrite, auripigment, baryte, burkeite, cristobalite, galena, gypsum, magnetite, pyrite, quartz and sassolite.
Domo Tinto rocks have been analyzed for isotope and chemical composition studies. They are potassium-rich calc-alkaline rocks as is typical for Andean volcanism in this area. On the basis of petrology magma temperatures of the Tinto rocks have been estimated at 790 °C (1,450 °F) for the andesitic component and 890–930 °C (1,630–1,710 °F) for the basaltic andesite component. SiO2 contents range from 58 to 75%, with dacites having a content of 63–70%.
Solfataric activity is ongoing. In 1985 and 1987 yellow (sulfur containing) steam clouds were reported, reaching heights of 500 metres (1,600 ft) above the summit. The fumaroles cluster in two places, in the crater and on the southern flank where they reach over 300 metres (980 ft) down. The fumaroles are reported to make "jet"-like noises and temperatures range 83.2–265 °C (181.8–509.0 °F), ASTER imaging has indicated temperature anomalies of up to 8 kelvins. Water vapour and carbon dioxide making up the bulk of the gases, other components are hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen sulfide, methane and sulfur dioxide. Mud pots have also been observed.
Likewise, the volcano features ongoing seismic activity, including about two earthquakes per day and three seismic swarms in 2011–2012. Another earthquake swarm is associated with the 2001 Peru earthquake. No deformation of the edifice has been observed, however.
A lava dome on the southern flank (Domo Tinto) was K-Ar dated at 5,000 ± 3000 BP. Its eruption was probably a relatively tranquil effusive eruption. Present day volcanic activity is generally poorly documented, with minor phreatic eruptions recorded. Ash eruptions are reported in the first half of the 19th century. 1913 and 1959 glow was observed in the summit crater, and a phreatic eruption was reported in 1960. Activity is also reported for 1779, 1802, 1826–1831, 1850, 1859, 1864, 1864, 1870, 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912 and 1959. Guallatiri is one of northern Chile's most active volcanoes. In 2015 volcano alert levels on Guallatiri was temporarily raised due to deformation of the edifice and changes in the seismic activity.
Threats and preparedness
The Chilean National Geology and Mining Service does keep a record of regular reports of the activity status of Guallatiri, which is considered to be Chile's 27th most dangerous volcano. A hazard map exists of Guallatiri with three areas of different risk. The red zone occupies the areas interested by late activity of the volcano and river valleys, in total most of the upper parts of the volcano. The orange and yellow zones are areas threatened in the case of medium-large and large scale eruptive activity, respectively.
Ash falls, flank eruptions, lahars and pyroclastic flows are hazards associated with Guallatiri. The town of Guallatiri on its southern flank is especially threatened as are the southern and eastern flanks in general. Explosive activity with eruption columns of 20 kilometres (12 mi) height may result in ashfall in Arica and Putre depending on the season. There are villages with hundreds of people, including small villages in western Bolivia that may be impacted by Guallatiri tephra.
Religious and archeological importance
It is said that townfolk of Guallatire worshipped the mountain from nearby mountain Capurata. Even today churches in Ancuta and Guallatire point towards the volcano.
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