This article was written by Francisca Vergara-Pinto, a PhD Candidate at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, University of Manchester. More on her research here

Photos by Jorge Romero and Francisca Vergara-Pinto.

A meeting of the local and scientific community to commemorate the last eruption of the Lonquimay volcano

On December 15, the “First Encounter of Volcanic Affects and Memories” took place in Corralco Mountain Resort, located on the slopes of the Lonquimay volcano in Malalcahuello village (Chile). This activity commemorates the 35th anniversary of the Navidad cone eruption (Christmas cone), which began on December 25, 1988, and lasted until 1990, with a duration of 13 months and significant affectation in the villages surrounding the volcano.

The event aimed to address “the role of volcanic affects, the community-science relationship and memory in disaster preparedness, through the ecology of knowledge and dialogue”, and is part of my doctoral research at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute.

The activity focused on the inhabitants of Malalcahuello and key actors in disaster risk management. I had previously studied risk perceptions and local knowledge in research conducted between 2021 and 2023. Among my findings, I reported both knowledge and a series of uncertainties and priorities about volcanic hazards that emerged from different groups (inhabitants, public institutions and the tourism sector), which motivated the design of a dialogue between the community and volcanologists gathered in the territory.

The meeting was organised in collaboration with the Municipality of Curacautín and the support of Corralco Mountain Resort, which kindly hosted this science-community engagement initiative. It was supported by the National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin), the National Forestry Corporation (Conaf), the Small Localities Programme of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MINVU), the Kutralküra Geopark and the Latin American Association of Volcanology. The latter publicised the event through their official channels.

Edmundo Polanco, volcanologist from SERNAGEOMIN, talking about his relationship with the Lonquimay volcano and explaining its eruptive history.

The first part of the meeting featured talks by researchers working on the Lonquimay volcano: Edmundo Polanco and Franco Vera (Sernageomin), Inés Rodríguez (Universidad Católica de Temuco), Laura Becerril and Jorge Romero (Universidad de O’Higgins) and Ángelo Castruccio (Universidad de Chile). Volcanologists from Sernageomin presented on the progress of geological knowledge at the volcano and volcanic hazards, while researchers from UCT and UChile shared their findings on the magmatic relationship between the volcano and the Navidad cone, and the behaviour of lava flows from the last eruption, respectively. UOH researchers presented on the explosive activity of the Lonquimay volcano, and eruptions similar to those of the Navidad cone with international examples.

Speakers (volcanologists) from left to right: E. Polanco, I. Rodríguez, J. Romero, A. Castruccio, L. Becerril and F. Vera.

The group “En la huella”, made up of local musicians and artists from Malalcahuello, took part in the meeting and gave an emotional performance, receiving recognition for their contribution to the arts in a volcanic territory.

In the second part of the meeting, Professor José Córdova “Tío Pepe”, an inhabitant of Malalcahuello, shared his memories as a witness of the 1988 eruption and reflections on the locality’s future. This was followed by two round tables, where inhabitants and scientists shared mutual concerns and discussed (i) the challenges faced by a mountain community and scientific community to reduce disaster risk, and (ii) how to visualise preparedness for a future eruption as a central part of life.

Finally, the ceremony included a recognition of the speakers and the donation made by Sernageomin to the Malalcahuello Library, consisting of the book “Chile: Territorio Volcánico”, and geological and hazard maps of the Lonquimay volcano and others of the region.

The following day, the researchers climbed the Navidad cone, where they could observe the products and processes that characterised the eruption, including ethnographic observations by the HCRI PhD student. Televisión Nacional de Chile (TVN) will soon broadcast a report on the encounter.

The group “En la huella” performing a song about the volcano and nature.

Recognition of the trajectory and wisdom of José Córdova “tío Pepe”, who established mountaineering in the locality, by Francisca and Jimmy Verdugo (Municipality).

Official handing over of the Geological and Threat Map of the region’s volcanoes, and the SERNAGEOMIN book, to the library manager, Carmen Parra (centre).

Workshop “Affective encounters with the Lonquimay volcano”, a dialogue between scientists, inhabitants and decision-makers.

Francisca organised the first “affective dialogue” between the local and scientific community, under the motto “An encounter between people for a re-encounter with the Lonquimay volcano”.

Francisca and Rodrigo Siderakis, TVN journalist who collaborated in the encounter.

Francisca and Laura Becerril talking about volcanic stratigraphy at Lonquimay volcano.

The next day, on the top of the Navidad cone crater, formed in 1988.


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