Image: macha chile / Javier Rubilar
A slurry of mud and rocky debris rushing down a mountain and engulfing everything in its path has to figure as one of nature’s most terrifying natural disaster types. Such phenomena, known as lahars, are frequently triggered by the lava or pyroclastic flows of erupting volcanoes. They often take the path of river valleys, bulldozing all before them.
In May of 2008, one such lahar swept through the Chilean town of Chaitén – population 4,200 – destroying much of it, and causing the banks of the Blanco River to overflow, flooding what was left.