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The costs of volcano monitoring: funding the Alaska Volcano Observatory (also, Auckland’s cones need more cash) 16 February 2010

Posted by admin in Auckland, New Zealand, volcanoes.
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Volcano monitoring is a vital service, but who pays? In Alaska budget for the Alaska Volcano Observatory is the focus of current debate. The AVO – which, surely, resoundingly proved its value to everyone during the Redoubt eruption of 2009 – has seen its funding fall dramatically with the loss of those unreliable short-term things Americans call ‘earmarks’:

Congress in recent years has provided annual earmarks through the Federal Aviation Administration for the observatory, which is cited as a key contributor to aviation safety in Alaska. But those earmarks have dried up, and total funding for the observatory has fallen from $8 million per year to $5 million, prompting the state Department of Natural Resources to propose a $300,000 contribution this year to help.

As a result it’s been suggested that airlines and freight companies could pay a levy towards the costs of running AVO, the argument presumably being that these business sectors benefit directly from the monitoring and warning services provided by the observatory. [UPDATE: see Dr Erik Klemetti’s remarks on this at Eruptions.]

Recently we saw the Russian volcano monitoring network KVERT hit the buffers when the money ran out (although a temporary fix has now been put in place): it would be deeply unfortunate, to say the least, if the AVO’s vital monitoring system on the other side of the Bering Strait were to encounter similar difficulties.

Meanwhile, in not unrelated news from New Zealand: getting the necessary cash together to look after Auckland’s volcanic cones properly is proving a problem. Local people want ‘good footpaths, good stormwater protection and a clean, green experience on the cones’, but councillors have refused to reinstate a long-term volcanic protection budget worth NZ$8 million, leaving the cones with a ‘pitiful and downright disrespectful’ NZ$457,000 to live on.

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Redoubt eruption sequence is Earth Science Picture of the Day 13 February 2010

Posted by admin in Alaska, Redoubt.
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The Universities Space Research Association Earth Science Picture of the Day for 13 February 2010 is a sequence taken by the USGS’s Bill Burton showing the first known ash emission of the March 2009 eruption of Redoubt Volcano. The activity shown in the sequence took place on 15 March 2009, and the full-scale eruption began one week later. There is a helpful and informative caption with the images, but it’s very sad to see a reputable academic site linking not once but twice to articles at a popular and laughable user-edited internet encyclopedia rather than taking the trouble to find and refer to proper sources. This kind of thing should not be encouraged: the internet is dumb enough already.

[H/T: Callan Bentley, NOVA Geoblog.]

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Redoubt quiet, back to Normal/Advisory 12 January 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, Alaska, Redoubt, United States.
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A bit late catching up with this, but the Alaska Volcano Observatory returned Redoubt to Normal/Advisory status on 5 January 2010: ‘The swarm of small, shallow earthquakes that began Sunday, December 27 has ceased and the degree of seismic activity beneath the volcano has returned to background levels. Aerial observations of the new lava dome on December 31 indicated no obvious changes at the surface and no sign of instability’.

News
AVO lowers Redoubt alert level to green – KTUU.com, 5 January 2010
Alaska volcano back at ‘normal’ statusSeattle Times, 5 January 2010
Mount Redoubt is back to code green – Radio Kenai, 6 January 2010

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

Redoubt rumbles reducing 2 January 2010

Posted by admin in activity reports, Alaska, Redoubt, United States.
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Alaska’s Redoubt volcano seems to be calming down after its recent burst of seismic activity, which led to an increase in the alert level to Yellow/Advisory on 28 December 2009. The weekly bulletin issued on 1 January 2010 by the Alaska Volcano Observatory reports that the ‘swarm of shallow, small earthquakes that began last Sunday, December 27 at Redoubt Volcano has greatly diminished or ceased’, and that an aerial inspection on 31 December showed no changes in the appearance of the volcano and no sign of instability at the lava dome. Surface temperatures at the dome remain high, in line with expectations, while magmatic gas output from the dome area ‘is somewhat elevated compared to the last measurement in early November’.

The scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory are continuing to examine what might have caused the recent activity: one possible cause is ‘input of new magma or remobilization of existing magma within volcano’s shallow plumbing system’. AVO notes that the process ‘appears to have ceased or paused’, but may reappear and possibly lead to additional eruptive activity, although the ‘sharp increase in seismicity and other marked changes prior to such activity’ would provide some warning of what was going on. For the moment AVO is keeping a close watch on things, and Redoubt remains at Yellow/Advisory.

News
Redoubt rumblings continue to ease, scientists say – KTUU.com, 1 January 2010
Flyover shows Redoubt appears unchangedAnchorage Daily News, 1 January 2010

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

Alert levels lowered at Galeras and Cleveland 8 October 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, Alaska, Cleveland, Colombia, Galeras, United States.
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Following the recent bursts of activity at Alaska’s Cleveland volcano and Galeras volcano in Colombia, things have quietened down and the alert levels for both volcanoes have been reduced by their respective observatories.

At Galeras, the INGEOMINAS Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Pasto lowered the alert level to Yellow, ‘ Changes in the behaviour of the volcanic activity’, on 6 October. The level had already been lowered from Red to Orange on 1 October, following the eruption of 30 September.

Meanwhile, the 2 October eruption of Cleveland volcano on the Aleutian island of Chuginadak caused the Alaska Volcano Observatory to raise the alert level to Orange/Watch. There has been no eruptive activity since that brief outburst, and the AVO lowered the alert level to Yellow/Advisory on 5 October.

Information
Global Volcanism Program – Galeras – summary information for Galeras (1501-08=)
Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Pasto – Pasto volcanological observatory main page
Global Volcanism Program: Cleveland – summary information for Cleveland (1101-24-)
AVO Cleveland Eruption Page – information on current activity at Cleveland

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Brief update on the Cleveland eruption 4 October 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, Alaska, Cleveland, eruptions, United States.
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Mount Cleveland erupts. Picture taken by Astronaut Jeffrey N. Williams, 7 June 2006. NASA image.
Cleveland erupting in June 2006, photographed by a passing astronaut.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory have issued a further Volcanic Activity Notification for yesterday’s eruption at Cleveland volcano, giving a little more information:

Satellite data indicate that Cleveland volcano erupted briefly this morning at ~0730 UTC (2330 AKDT) 02 October 2009, producing a small, detached ash cloud that drifted northeast of the volcano at maximum altitudes of 15,000′ to 20,000′ (4.5 – 6.1 km) . AVO increased the aviation color code to Orange, and the volcano alert level to Watch at 02:29 AKDT (10:29 UTC) this morning. Satellite views until about 6:45 AKDT (14:45 UTC) show that the ash cloud drifted northeast about 600 km (373 mi) and dispersed over the Bering Sea. While no more events have been detected this morning, further eruptive activity is possible.

The volcano remains at Orange/Watch alert level status at the time of posting.

Cleveland has no real-time seismic monitoring network, so its eruptions are apt to come as a surprise. More Cleveland news here if and when it comes in…

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Cleveland – summary information for Cleveland (1101-24-)
AVO Cleveland Eruption Page – information on current activity at Cleveland
Alaska Volcano Observatory – main page for the AVO

The Volcanism Blog

Eruption at Cleveland volcano, Alaska 3 October 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, Alaska, Cleveland, eruptions, United States.
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The Alaska Volcano Observatory increased the alert level at Cleveland volcano to Orange/Watch this morning following an eruption which produced an ash cloud to altitudes of 4.5-6.1 km. The following Volcanic Activity Notice was issued by the AVO at 02:29 AKDT (1029 UTC):

Satellite data indicate that Cleveland volcano erupted briefly this morning at ~0730 UTC (2330 AKDT) 02 October 2009, producing an ash cloud to maximum altitudes of 15,000′ to 20,000′ (4.5 – 6.1 km). Thus, the aviation color code is being increased to Orange, and the volcano alert level is being increased to Watch. Further eruptive activity is possible.

There is no real-time seismic network at Cleveland, which forms part of Chuginadak Island in the middle of the Aleutian chain, so earthquake activity cannot be tracked and eruptions can occur without warning. Cleveland is a very active volcano, with recent eruptions in 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2007, and more minor eruptive activity in 2008 and 2009.

News
Cleveland volcano on Aleutians spews ash plume – KTUU.com, 3 October 2009

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Cleveland – summary information for Cleveland (1101-24-)
AVO Cleveland Eruption Page – information on current activity at Cleveland
Alaska Volcano Observatory – main page for the AVO

The Volcanism Blog

Contrasting views on the Drift River Oil Terminal 2 October 2009

Posted by admin in Alaska, eruptions, natural hazards, Redoubt.
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Lahars near Drift River Oil Terminal, 4 April 2009 (NASA EO-1 image).

Two contrasting views of the Drift River Oil Terminal saga have been published in the Homer Tribune. Michael Munger of the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council presents a positive view: ‘In the recent situation with Mount Redoubt and the Drift River Oil Terminal, the unified command worked exactly the way it was intended, resulting in a successful response to the volcanic mudflow threatening the facility. As a result, no people were injured and no oil was spilled’. In the other corner, Bob Shavelson of environmental organization Cook Inletkeeper: ‘The fact remains that the Drift River Oil Terminal incident stands out as the most significant breakdown in spill prevention and response in Alaska since the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. That breakdown put our fishermen, workers and countless families and businesses around Cook Inlet at extreme risk’.

The central point is that the Drift River Oil Terminal should not be where it is. If it was not in a dangerous location in the first place none of the impressive hazard management Michael Munger talks about would be necessary.

[Image of the Drift River Oil Terminal and lahars from Mount Redoubt: NASA Earth Observatory, 9 April 2009, originally posted here; see also Drift River Oil Terminal vs. the volcano.]

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Redoubt back to Green/Normal 30 September 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, Alaska, eruptions, Redoubt, United States.
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The Alaska Volcano Observatory lowered Redoubt’s status to Aviation Colour Code Green and Volcano Alert Code Normal at 18:44 GMT (10:44 AKDT) yesterday, 29 September 2009. According to the Volcanic Activity Notice issued by the AVO …

Over the past several months, seismic activity, volcanic gas output, ground deformation, lava dome temperatures, and outward signs of lava dome instability at Redoubt Volcano have been declining. The volcano appears to have returned to its normal background condition and for now poses no immediate threat of eruptive activity. Accordingly, AVO is lowering the Aviation Color Code to GREEN and the Volcano Alert Code to NORMAL.

The AVO notes that the Redoubt lava dome has reached a volume of approximately 70 million cubic metres, and that lava domes on steep slopes are ‘typically unstable’. However, given that 60 days have passed since the dome ceased to grow, ‘AVO believes the possibility for dome collapse is small and declining toward a background level of danger typical of many active stratovolcanoes with steep unstable rock slopes’. Local hazards remain, associated with the hot lava dome: gas emission, abundant steaming, rockfalls, but these do not pose a significant hazard beyond the summit area of the volcano.

With Redoubt now at Green/Normal, only Shishaldin among the AVO’s charges remains at Yellow/Advisory, because of its sustained but low-level seismic rumblings.

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

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

Snowy Redoubt steams, but activity remains low 21 September 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, Alaska, Redoubt, United States.
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Redoubt, 18 September 2009 (image courtesy of Dennis Anderson, Night Trax Photography)

The weather around Redoubt volcano in Alaska cleared over the last few days to reveal a prominent steam plume, but this does not indicate a renewal of activity. The Alaska Volcano Observatory has confirmed that the heating of fresh snowfall on the summit is the source of the plume, and that seismic activity at the volcano continues to decline. The most recent AVO status reports say that the lava dome is cooling, and that, while the threat of a collapse remains, that threat is declining over time.

Redoubt is at alert level Yellow/Advisory, but Chris Waythomas of the AVO is quoted by the Peninsula Clarion as saying ‘It’s headed toward background activity, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was downgraded to green next month’.

[Image of Redoubt taken 18 September 2009, courtesy Dennis Anderson, Night Trax Photography.]

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

News
Redoubt steams, but seismic activity declines – KTUU.com, 20 September 2009
Still steaming: Redoubt’s seismic activity decliningPeninsula Clarion, 20 September 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