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The last major eruption in the Cordon Caulle rift zone occurred in 1960. Satellite view of the Puyehue-Cordon Volcano Complex on 13 June 2011 - the 10th day of the eruption - shows a very large blanket of ash deposited onto the Pampas of Argentina. Near the southern tip of South America, a trio of volcanoes lines up perpendicular to the Andes Mountains.The most active is the westernmost, Volcan Villarrica, pictured in this photo-like satellite image.Soon after this image was taken, the ash quickly blew eastward towards Argentina.
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The 2,582-m (9,357-ft) stratovolcano is mantled by a 30-sq km (10-sq mi) glacier field, most of it amassed south and east of the summit in a basin made by a caldera depression.
To the east and northeast, the glacier is covered by ash and other volcanic debris, giving it a rumpled, brown look.
The Salinas Grandes - ephemeral shallow salt lakes - occupies one of these valleys.
The general color change from reds and browns in the foreground to blues and greens in the upper part of the image reflects the major climatic regions: the deserts of the Atacama and Puna versus the grassy plains of central Argentina, where rainfall is sufficient to promote lush prairie grass, known locally as the pampas.
Waste liquids from the iodine plants are dried in the tan and brightly colored evaporation ponds to crystallize nitrate salts for collection.