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Alaska senator makes case for volcano monitoring 31 March 2009

Posted by admin in Alaska, natural hazards, Redoubt, United States, volcano monitoring.
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As Mount Redoubt rumbled its approval, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski told the U. S. Senate yesterday that she intends to introduce legislation to improve volcano monitoring in the United States. Murkowski proposes a $15 million annual budget for the United States Geological Survey to run a National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System (click here for a press release from Sen. Murkowski’s office).

Murkowski points to Redoubt for increased volcano monitoring – KTUU, 30 March 2009
Murkowski seeks reliable funding for volcano monitoringAnchorage Daily News, 31 March 2009
Jindal may not like volcano monitoring, but this Republican doesMiami Herald, 31 March 2009
Volcanoes discussed in Senate – ABC Alaska News, 31 March 2009
Murkowski to introduce bill creating national volcano monitoring system – KFQD, 31 March 2009

The Volcanism Blog



1. tarpon - 31 March 2009

So where are the success stories predicting the next eruption? As I see, the first sign usually comes with the ‘boom’.

2. jkennedy - 31 March 2009

Tarpon, can’t agree with you. AVO have been warning about Redoubt since September 2008. The ‘boom’ came in March 2009. As I see, that’s good work.

3. Lara - 31 March 2009

Volcano monitoring? Who needs volcano monitoring… :)

4. Brian Owens - 31 March 2009

Even in 1980, scientists were able to predict that Mt. St. Helens was going to erupt. Earthquakes had been rocking the mountain, and they said an eruption was possible. In late March, it did erupt. They evacuated the area, put more seismographs there, etc. No, they did not know exactly when the big eruption would happen, but no amount of money even today could tell them that.

I think volcano monitering is important, but it also seems to me we are already doing it, and quite well. If you can prove otherwise, that there are dangerous volcanos not being monitered at all, then I would agree to an increase in monitering.

And we all know that as soon as a mountain like Rainier or Shasta or Hood starts to become active, they will plant more monitering equipment ASAP. I cannot imagine a volcano in the US just suddenly erupting without us already seeing the warning signs.

5. Dan - 1 April 2009

I understand the AVO may be chronically underfunded(a number of unmonitored Aleutian volcanoes could use a seismometer) so I don’t have a problem sending more money their way, but why package it in a “National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System”. As Brian said, we already monitor many volcanoes and do it quite well. If the AVO wants more money they should just use Kasotochi as an example of why it is needed. Kasotochi is not monitored and two biologists just barely got off the island before it erupted violently last August.

6. Boris Behncke - 1 April 2009

It’s VERY unlikely that there will ever be something like “enough” volcano monitoring. Techniques are advancing and there will always be need of new instruments, new specialists, maintenance, repair, and so on. And then, “predicting” or “forecasting” eruptions is one thing. Knowing that an eruption is happening is another: without modern monitoring techniques, the first, very powerful, explosions of Redoubt in the current eruption – which occurred at night and during bad weather – would not have been detected until many hours later (when ash began to fall in populated areas). In the meantime some aircraft might have flown into the ash plume … we also should remember that we are placing an increasing amount of value (homes, infrastructures, lifelines …) in harm’s way and rendering ourselves more and more vulnerable, and I think the growth of funding for volcanology should be proportional to that.

7. JBD, Anchorage - 1 April 2009

Isn’t this mostly to do with getting AVO a proper stable budget, instead of being funded so much through earmarks? The ‘national volcano monitoring’ thing is likely just political window-dressing.

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