The Villarrica volcano in southern Chile erupted early in the morning March 3, spewing lava and ash into the atmosphere and causing the evacuation of thousands from their homes. The activity lasted for about 20 minutes before calming down.
The lava from the eruption is especially dangerous given that Villarrica is covered by 15 square miles of glaciers. When the lava mixes with the snow and ice, fast-moving mudflows can quickly destroy nearby towns in its path.
The 9,380-foot volcano is one of Chile’s most active and is a popular spot for tourism and hiking. It sits nearby the tourist hub town of Pucón, with a population of a little more than 20,000. No injuries or deaths from the eruption have been reported.
Chile has more than 2,000 volcanos, of which 60 remain active. Villarrica’s last major eruption was in 1985, along with minor eruptions since. In the past century, it is believed that more than 100 people have died as a result of the volcano’s mudflows.