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Redoubt update, 31 March 2009 31 March 2009

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Redoubt looking east, 30 March 2009 (photographer Heather Bleick, AVO/USGS image)
Photograph of Redoubt Volcano in eruption taken during observation and gas data collection flight on 30 March 2009. View is to the east. Continuous emission of volcanic gas, water vapour, and ash is producing a plume rising to about 15000 feet (4500 metres) above sea level. The haze at left below the drifting cloud is a region of active ash fall. AVO scientists observed ash falling up to 25 miles (40 kilometres) downwind (photographer Heather Bleick, image courtesy AVO/USGS). [source]

The Alaska Volcano Observatory reports that there have been no significant new eruptive/ash emission events at Redoubt since 09:44 AKDT (17:44 GMT) yesterday, 30 March, which produced a plume to 27000 feet (8200 metres) above sea level. From 10:50 AKDT yesterday ‘fairly continuous emission of ash’ was reported, with the emission cloud reaching about 20000 feet (6000 metres) above sea level. Ash production diminished during the afternoon of 30 March, with AVO reporting a ‘steam-rich plume at ~15-20,000 feet [4500-6000 metres] that contains varying amounts of ash’. Seismicity has been low with small, discrete earthquakes. An ash and gas data collection flight took place yesterday afternoon; some pictures from that flight (including the one reproduced above) are available on the AVO Website.

The Drift River Oil Terminal continues to loom large in Redoubt news coverage. Local news channel KTUU reports that the U.S. Coast Guard, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the Cook Inlet Pipe Line Company have formed a ‘unified command’ to deal with the situation. ‘Unified command is putting together a plan to deal with any contingency, including the loss of oil’, says Cmdr. Jim Robertson (Coast Guard), ‘But we’re not going to endanger people by putting them in harm’s way’. Bob Shavelson, executive director of environmental group Cook Inletkeeper, said this was ‘better late than never. ‘We were happy to hear they finally got together and recognized the heightened risk here’. They certainly need to agree a coherent approach. At a news conference yesterday, according to Reuters, when the issue of draining the oil tanks was raised Cmdr. Robertson stated that ‘The safest place for that oil is inside that tank at the present time’, while Gary Folley of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said that The straightest path to eliminate that threat is to remove the oil from these tanks’. (Not that draining the tanks is a simple matter.)

As far as is known, so far the oil terminal’s defences, which were strengthened after the 1989-90 eruption caused some damage at the facility, have largely withstood Redoubt’s mudflows. There has been some overtopping of the dykes and flooding, but the tanks (two of which out of seven currently contain oil) have not been damaged and there has been no sign of oil leakage. For pictures taken on 22-23 March, see Drift River Oil Terminal vs. the volcano.

For all our Redoubt coverage: Redoubt « The Volcanism Blog.

News
Unified command formed to deal with Drift River Terminal – KTUU, 30 March 2009
Volcano threat forces officials to consider oil removal – Reuters, 30 March 2009

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Redoubt – summary information for Redoubt (1103-03-)
Alaska Volcano Observatory – Redoubt – AVO information and updates for Redoubt
Alaska Volcano Observatory – main page for the AVO

The Volcanism Blog