Chilean authorities on January 28, 2023 announced a heightened alert amid growing signs of activity from the Lascar volcano, near the border with Bolivia / © AFP/File
Authorities in Chile on Saturday raised the alert level and limited access to the area around the Lascar volcano, after an increase in seismic activity raised fears of a possible eruption.
The volcano lies in an area near the Bolivian border that is sparsely inhabited but is one of northern Chile's most geologically active regions.
Following "an increase in seismicity," the National Geology and Mining Service has raised the alert level for Lascar from yellow to orange.
Amid heightened seismic activity, the agency predicted "eruptive pulses with columns exceeding five kilometers in height," with blocks of pumice being projected and ash spread over a wide area.
The orange alert will bring increased technical monitoring of the volcano and measures to protect surrounding towns including the popular tourist destination of San Pedro de Atacama, some 70 kilometers away.
In addition, a security perimeter around the crater will be extended from five to 10 kilometers, restricting access.
The Lascar volcano, which reaches up to 5,592 meters (18,350 feet), lies some 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) north of capital Santiago. It last erupted in 1993.
The Villarrica volcano in the south, one of Chile's most active, is also currently under surveillance.