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Science Corner September 2023

by Philipp Ruprecht (University of Nevada Reno)

Sep 13, 2023

Pilot study of the interplay of geohazards at Cordón Caulle in Southern Chile

With the SZ4D initiative moving from the planning stages to emerging research projects, related research efforts are getting off the ground that will serve the SZ4D community in collaborative projects now and in the future. One of those projects is a recently NSF-funded Frontier Research in the Earth Sciences project entitled “Collaborative Research: The interplay of surface evolution, shallow magmatism, a large hydrothermal system, and hazards at Puyehue-Cordon Caulle Volcanic Complex, Chile” that will study the magmatic-hydrothermal and surface evolution at Puyehue-Cordón Caulle in Southern Chile. The 2011-12 eruption produced a shallow intrusion at approximately 200 m depth that continues to deform in association with a vigorous hydrothermal system, extensive faulting, and rapid surficial geomorphological changes. As a result, this magma body provides a unique studying ground of the processes connecting volcanic pre- and syn-eruptive activity with post-eruptive heat and mass transfer in this over steepened volcanic terrain.

Bird’s-eye view of the vent area of the 2011-12 eruption at Cordón Caulle. The 2011-12 rhyolitic lava flow partially surrounds the vent area including the deformed tephra deposits that are associated with the near-surface magma body. Extensive surface deformation and erosion is present within the uplifted area that is approximately one and a half kilometers across. Photo credit: Philipp Ruprecht


In a large collaborative effort between US- and Chile-based researchers, we will collect geophysical, geomorphological, and geochemical time series data as well as new data of the eruptive products that provide an excellent record of the processes during the magmatic intrusion and the transition from explosive Plinian behavior to effusive lava extrusion. These data will constrain models for the spatial and temporal evolution of this magma body that provide fundamental information for the associated volcanic and landslide hazards. Therefore, this pilot study will link closely to the goals of the SZ4D initiative by exploring the interplay between the various geohazards. 

In order to maximize the impact of this collaborative five year project, we are planning to engage with and bring in research community members not already part of the scientific team. We will announce this in the future primarily in the form of a field school for graduate students from Chile and the USA. This field school will provide hands-on training activities during the ongoing data collection efforts in the field. The field school will also provide opportunities to build on our planned research with complementary and separate research ideas. The latter ideally will be taking advantage of the existing resources already allocated to this volcanic system. More details will be announced through the channels of the SZ4D initiative and in other community forums. As we ramp up our research efforts, we are happy to develop synergies with other research groups already working in this part of the volcanic arc.

US-based NSF PIs:

Philipp Ruprecht (University of Nevada, Reno)

Joseph Biasi (University of Wyoming)

Thomas Giachetti (University of Oregon)

Helge Gonnermann (Rice University)

Carolina Muñoz-Saez (University of Nevada, Reno/Cornell University)

Matthew Pritchard (Cornell University)

Joel Scheingross (University of Nevada, Reno)


Chilean collaborators:

Alvaro Amigo (SERNAGEOMIN)

Felipe Aron (Universidad de Chile)


Maria Loreto Cordova (SERNAGEOMIN/OVDAS)

Francisco Delgado (Universidad de Chile)

Alida Perez-Fodich (Universidad de Chile)

Pamela Perez-Flores (CIGEA)

Pablo Sanchez (Universidad Austral de Chile)


Facility support:



More information


For more information please reach out to Philipp Ruprecht ( and other members of the organizational management team (Carolina Muñoz-Saez,; Matthew Pritchard, 


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