Photos: Ariel Marinkovic/AFP/Getty Images
When Chile's Villarrica volcano first began erupting on Tuesday morning, the night was quiet and stars lit up the sky. Located in the scenic Chilean Central Valley, the stratovolcano borders a lake of the same name. The area is popular for tourists, and visitors around the world hike the volcano's snow-capped slopes daily — unless, of course, the volcano is erupting.
The volcano has not had a major eruption in 30 years, but it has erupted as recently as 2000, and mudflows sometimes put hikers and nearby residents at risk. Today, however, the ash clouds reached over 3,000 feet, so officials evacuated villages nearby as a precaution. Fortunately, the eruption seemed to die down less than an hour after it began. Most residents have since returned home, except for those that live within a 10-kilometer radius of the mountain.