Volcanic ash on Lake Nahuel Huapi, Argentina

Puyehue volcano in Chile has been erupting since the 4th of June, sending up columns of ash that have shut down air traffic as far away as Australia. This footage was taken more than 100 miles from the volcano, at Argentina's Lake Nahuel Huapi, where the normally clear water has been turned into something resembling a giant pit of quicksand.

No word on how this natural disaster has affected Nahuelito, the Lake's resident monster, though I'd imagine this can't be good for most wildlife. I get a little shiver just watching that diver go down at the end of the video. Hopefully, he or she came back up again.

Video Link

Via Steve Silberman


  1. Fascinating, alarming. A few notes.

    1) I could be mistaken, but it seems like in the distance you can see where the “clear” water starts, and that this looks like a very large coastal deposit. I certainly hope this is true.

    2) I would not use scuba gear in that ash-water muck. No way, none at all. I’ve done scuba dives, even in the worst murk and silt conditions I’ve ever heard of, you can still clear your mask and your air can still vent cleanly. In this soup? I’d expect it to fail dangerously in half a minute.

    ~D. Walker

  2. You could tell he was just going to knell down to see if we could get under it.

    That regulator is not going to work very well with all that crap in the water. I noticed he was trying to keep the pumice out of it and get the reg under, into clearer water, so he it could have a chance.

    There is no way I would wade out into that without a rope tied to the shore.

  3. It’s a he, “boludo” it’s an argentinian friendly insult normally used as a male pronoun.

    The man behind the camera is waring the diver that if it’s to dangerous he should’n dive at all.

    On a side note, similar events in the past have generated lots of problems in the short term, but volcanic ashes are a great feritilzer for the local fruit producers in the following years.

    The argentinian government has just declared an economic, agriculture and social emergency (normally tax exemptions and other benefits) for Neuquén and Río Negro, the two most affected provinces.

  4. I have a close colleague who studies this lake and have been in touch with him.

    What’s floating on the surface are small pumice stones, less dense than water (obviously) and hydrophobic. They are washing up in big piles on the downwind end of the lake. Will post a video link later once I have an OK from him.

    I would note that I disappointed not to see any underwater video from this guy! I mean, what was the point?

  5. This is the first news I’ve seen of this! I feel like I’ve been hiding under a rock (or maybe just ash – lol).

    This looks extremely dangerous! I echo jxeat that it would have been interesting to see underwater footage as I’m curious what could be seen, if anything at all!

  6. As an answer to comment #1: Actually, that light-blue thing you can see far away it’s not clear water, those are mountains. There isn’t any clear water anymore, it’s a dissaster. We’re in the middle of an emergency here and the only thing people do is joke about “Nahuelito”.

  7. Rock that floats.

    My father sent me a box of it once (wish I knew where it was) after an eruption in Hawaii. He collected it floating on the surface of the ocean. It looked like black rock. It rattled like a box of rocks. But floated. Like bubbles.

    In that video it looks more like dust than rocks.

  8. New Zealand is further downwind from Chile than Oz and the ash cloud is grounding aircraft here too.

  9. There’s still plenty of ‘clear’ water (this is a huge lake), and in fact the entire lake has turned turquoise due to a chemical reaction with the ash.

    The ash has gradually blown to the edges of the lake; here it is a few days ago:

    And the storm itself, from the same vantage point:

    The bigger immediate problem for Bariloche is economic — we’re headed for peak tourist season (skiing), and the city doesn’t even have a functioning airport. Still a lot of work to be done.

  10. yeah, some of the ashes have got as far as buenos aires. Here we wake up to gray covered cars.
    +1 on the underwater video footage petition, looks like something herzog would like.

  11. I was just down at Nahuel Huapi Lake on March 27, 2011 while staying at Llao Llao golf resort on a Tauck tour of South America. I can’t believe that glorious spot on earth has been spoiled by Mother Nature. Doesn’t she respect beauty. My heart goes out to all of those in the Patagonia Lakes region whose make their living in the tourist industry. I’m just amazed that North American media isn’t covering this story. What are the water and sky conditions today?

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