Saturday, February 16

Patagonia 4: Volcano Orsono

North and East of Puerto Varas we drove some 15 miles away and up  from Lake Lanquillue to The Vincente Perez Rosales Chiléan State Park and the Petrohué Falls.
These are a series of chute waterfalls grinding paths through ancient basaltic lava blasted from the Osorno Volcano that sits between two lakes, the largest, Llanquihue supporting the resort towns discussed in the last post. The water decanted in the lake is clear with a distinct green hue but the cascading torrents from melts of Volcano Orsono carry sand and silt which has ground the walls of its deep crags into glassy surfaces.

Volcano Orsono, Chilé

Chilé's most active volcano: Orsrono is a symmetrical and glacier-capped peak which has produced massive lava flows. It's blown from both the summit and from flank vents and fissures along the left face of the image above. Many of its eruptions over the past 14,000 years have created astonishing pyroclastic flows and surges while explosions from its tip have effected world-wide climate effects.

Took Rtes 5 then 225 up to Petrohué Park then hiked

The cone of the mountain sits above a roughly 250,000-year-old stratovolcano whose caldera is deeply glacial scarred and mostly buried today. Interestingly, scientists have measured pronounced increases the size of Osorno's glaciers as they have with glacial growth throughout Patagonia and Antartica. While this glacial expansion's received little media attention, meteorologists have recorded increasingly colder Southern Hemisphere temperatures over the past three or four decades. It's a puzzling activity which astronomers have noted on Mars where northern ice caps appear to be contracting as its southern caps expand. 

Vocanic Danger Zones! Signs found throughout the lake districts, this one explaining
  the various warning levels  and evac-routes posted in the media and along roadway billboards.
So at about 2:15 on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 21st, we hiked up the rocky park trails beyond the tree-line toward the majestic finger of Orsono to a spot which allowed both a view of the gushing chutes and their pristine glacial source thousands of feet above.

Here's the miles-long trail that brought my camera (and virtual easel)
to the base of Orsono and the cascades gushing from its summer run-off.
GEEK STUFF: The photographer's nightmare... or daymare? Sun blazing through almost cloudless skies during the day's hottest hours. Both contrast and glare got cranked beyond 10 with highlights burnt crispy and shadows darker than Satan's fantasies. YIKES! What to do. I tried HDR shooting to bracket exposures then blended them together in Photoshop, digging into both the whites and darks, but still the images wouldn't give up their secrets. So, screwing a polarizer over a neutral density filter to darken the sky and pop the whites I got an image that allowed me to  tease out the impression that this Monster blow-hole burnt into my feelings. 

Failing to pop an acceptable photograph from the mid-day sun's broiling, here's my imagination's take on Orsono's cone and it's tributaries which form the headwaters of Chilé's Petrohué river. 

A south-western painting of Volcano Orsono and it's glacier-blue/green
waters gushing along the explosive Saltos Del Petrohué.


Cedric said...

This volcano looks spectacular and truly imposing. Between your narrative and your rendition of it in the bottom picture, I felt compelled to look into it further. So thanks for that. It is such a pleasure to be exposed to something that I haven't seen photographed a zillion times.

Ted said...

It's not an unusual volcanic point especially as we went south. This one though has been compared to Mt. Fuji in its look and the way that it sits at one end of its huge lake. Apparently it pops without warning and those watery chutes miles away are slicing their paths through THICK layers of dark lava fields. As the sign makes clear, it's a dangerous neighbor. Unsurprisingly I returned from the trip with over 5k of images. Most are quick-snap junk, but even if only 10% rock... Well, this will take awhile - and so far I've only peeked at the real- rural Patagonia that began at the next stop: Puerto Chacabuco.