For many years the Futaleufu River and valley has been at threat from proposals of dams and mines. Today mother nature is calling the shots.

The government of Chile, Michelle Bachelet has declared a state of emergency with the very recent eruption of Chaiten Volcano on May 2, 2008. This paradisal valley is surrounded by mountains, rivers, fresh water lakes, waterfalls and vast pasture lands. Currently it now resembles a ghost town under inches and inches of ash, looking like a bad snow storm.

More than 4000 people of this region have been evacuated to Puerto Montt. The waters and pastures have been contaminated and now an estimated 50 000 cattle and sheep are at great risk.

The 1,000-meter (3,280-foot) volcano some 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) south of Santiago continues to belch large amounts of ash, and Futaleufu is blanketed by centimeters (inches) of a gray-white substance resembling dirty snow.

Bachelet is currently trying to evacuate many of these animals as this the locals source of income. These local futa residents have just lost their livelihood and will have tough times ahead waiting for their return back to their homesteads. Mother Nature is holding the reins and time will tell, as this situation could last weeks, months or more.

For those that would like to help, please visit,

More on the volcano…..

After more than 9,000 years of silence, Chaitn Volcano in southern Chile erupted on May 2, 2008. The plume of ash and steam rose 10.7 to 16.8 kilometers (35,000 to 55,000 feet) into the atmosphere, reported the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program. According to news reports issued by the AFP news service, ash blanketed the town of Chaitn, 10 kilometers away, forcing the town's 4,000 people to evacuate by boat.

Read an account of paddling the Futaleufu Riverin a journey across the Chilean Andes

On May 3, ash and steam continued to billow from the volcano. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite captured this photo-like image of a long, cloud-like plume flowing southeast from the volcano's summit on May 3 at 10:35 a.m. local time (14:35 UTC). The plume rises high over the Andes Mountains, drifts across Argentina, and dissipates over the Atlantic Ocean. Ash closed schools, roads, and an airport in Argentina, hundreds of kilometers away from the volcano, said AFP.

Radiocarbon dating of the last lava flow from Chaitn Volcano suggests that the volcano last erupted in 7420 BC, plus or minus 75 years, says the Global Volcanism Program. The volcano has a history of explosive eruptions with pyroclastic flows associated with dome collapse. During an eruption, some volcanoes build a dome of lava. Eventually, hot blocks of lava break away from the dome, triggering a fast-moving avalanche of hot volcanic ash, gas, and lava, called a pyroclastic flow. As of May 5, ash continued to rise from the volcano, but no pyroclastic flows had been reported.

To read more go to the earthobservatory site