The small community in the Los Lagos Region was devastated by a pyroclastic mudflow, after a volcanic eruption caused the Blanco River to burst its banks and forge a destructive new path through the town. On May 2, 2008 the vast caldera of the Chaitén volcano, two miles in diameter, became active. The volcano spewed a toxic plume of ash and sulfurous steam 19 miles into the atmosphere, which drifted across Patagonia.