Bulletin of Volcanology

, 71:559 | Cite as

Landslide and tsunami hazard at Yate volcano, Chile as an example of edifice destruction on strike-slip fault zones

  • Sebastian F. L. WattEmail author
  • David M. Pyle
  • José A. Naranjo
  • Tamsin A. Mather
Research Article


The edifice of Yate volcano, a dissected stratocone in the Andean Southern Volcanic Zone, has experienced multiple summit collapses throughout postglacial time restricted to sectors NE and SW of the summit. The largest such historic event occurred on 19th February 1965 when ∼6.1–10 × 106 m3 of rock and ice detached from 2,000-m elevation to the SW of the summit and transformed into a debris flow. In the upper part of the flow path, velocities are estimated to have reached 40 m s−1. After travelling 7,500 m and descending 1,490 m, the flow entered an intermontane lake, Lago Cabrera. A wavemaker of estimated volume 9 ± 3 × 106 m3 generated a tsunami with an estimated amplitude of 25 m and a run-up of ∼60 m at the west end of the lake where a settlement disappeared with the loss of 27 lives. The landslide followed 15 days of unusually heavy summer rain, which may have caused failure by increasing pore water pressure in rock mechanically weathered through glacial action. The preferential collapse directions at Yate result from the volcano’s construction on the dextral strike-slip Liquiñe-Ofqui fault zone. Movement on the fault during the lifetime of the volcano is thought to have generated internal instabilities in the observed failure orientations, at ∼10° to the fault zone in the Riedel shear direction. This mechanically weakened rock may have led to preferentially orientated glacial valleys, generating a feedback mechanism with collapse followed by rapid glacial erosion, accelerating the rate of incision into the edifice through repeated landslides. Debris flows with magnitudes similar to the 1965 event are likely to recur at Yate, with repeat times of the order of 102 years. With a warming climate, increased glacial meltwater due to snowline retreat and increasing rain, at the expense of snow, may accelerate rates of edifice collapse, with implications for landslide hazard and risk at glaciated volcanoes, in particular those in strike-slip tectonic settings where orientated structural instabilities may exist.


Volcanic landslide Debris flow Yate volcano Edifice collapse Liquiñe-Ofqui fault zone Tsunami Strike-slip 



We thank Juan Freddy Antiñirre, Ercilia Mancilla and Antonio Paillén for their personal accounts of events in 1965. We gratefully acknowledge the help of José Luis Urrutia and all CONAF staff at Parque Nacional Hornopirén and Richard Herd for providing the PicWorks photogrammetry application. This work was supported by a NERC studentship to SFLW. TM thanks the Royal Society for funding. We thank John Stix, John Clague and Benjamin van Wyk de Vries for detailed reviews that greatly improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastian F. L. Watt
    • 1
    Email author
  • David M. Pyle
    • 1
  • José A. Naranjo
    • 2
  • Tamsin A. Mather
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Servicio Nacional de Geología y MineríaSantiagoChile

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