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Drift River Oil Terminal back on line next month 14 July 2009

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In response to ‘a significant decrease in the rate of lava extrusion’ and indications that the growth of the lava dome had ‘significantly slowed, if not stopped’, the Alaska Volcano Observatory lowered the alert level at Redoubt volcano to aviation colour code Yellow and volcano alert level Advisory at the end of last month (AVO advisory 30 June 2009). The eruption may be coming to an end … or it may very well not. In an extended information statement, the AVO warns:

Despite evidence for the significant slowing, and possible cessation of its growth rate, the lava dome is potentially unstable and the possibility of a full or partial collapse remains high at present. Such a collapse would likely be accompanied by the production of a large ash plume and lahars in the Drift River valley. This event could occur with little or no advance warning.

Against this background comes the news that the Cook Inlet Pipe Line Company is planning to have the Drift River Oil Terminal back on line by the middle of next month. The terminal is 40 km from Redoubt’s main vent, at the mouth of the Drift River Valley, which forms a channel for the volcano’s lahars. Plans are apparently in hand to modify the facility so that oil will be shipped directly from the pipeline into tankers, by-passing the vulnerable storage tanks that have been the focus for much concern.

This will get the oil flowing and the people working again (dome collapses and lahars allowing) but the long-term future of the terminal is unclear: ‘The facility remains in pretty good shape’, says CIPL spokesman Casey Sullivan, ‘the concern is the location.’ No kidding.

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

News
Volcano-halted Alaska oil production to resume – Reuters, 13 July 2009
Cook Inlet pipeline operations expected to resume in August – Radio Kenai, 13 July 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

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NASA Earth Observatory – Drift River Oil Terminal 9 April 2009

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

At the NASA Earth Observatory, the Image of the Day for 9 April 2009 is very timely: lahars from Mount Redoubt near – or, to be more precise, all around – the Drift River Oil Terminal (small version above). The image was captured on 4 April 2009 by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite. The detail view below, taken from the full-size image (4200 x 6500 pixels, 5MB), shows a close-up of the terminal, surrounded by brown volcanic mudflows that have descended the Drift River valley. The dyke around the storage tanks has largely kept the lahars at bay and the tanks themselves remain secure, but installations beyond the defences such as the airstrip (lower part of the image) have been covered by volcanic deposits.

Lahars near Drift River Oil Terminal, 4 April 2009, detail view (NASA EO-1 image).

The Drift River image comes with a detailed and informative caption by Michon Scott, and the NASA Earth Observatory team have been kind enough to credit this blog as a source of information, which is always appreciated.

NASA Earth Observatory: Lahars near the Drift River Oil Terminal (9 April 2009).

[Image credit: NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using EO-1 ALI data provided courtesy of the NASA EO-1 Team.]

The Volcanism Blog

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

Drift River Oil Terminal vs. the volcano 26 March 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, Alaska, eruptions, natural hazards, Redoubt, United States.
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The Drift River Oil Terminal stands on Cook Inlet at the mouth of Drift River, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the vent of Redoubt Volcano. When there is eruptive activity of any magnitude at Redoubt, the melting of ice and snow produces lahars – volcanic mudflows – that descend the valley of the Drift River towards the inlet.

Lahars reached the oil terminal during the eruptions of 22-23 March 2009. These pictures were taken during an Alaska Volcano Observatory overflight on 23 March 2009. The captions are those provided for each image by the AVO. More pictures can be found on the AVO website.

Drift River Oil Terminal, 23 March 2009 (AVO/USGS).
View east of the tank farm at DROT [Drift River Oil Terminal]. Lahar deposits have ramped up to the top of the west (closest in this image) dike and spilled over in one location (left in photo). The south dike (on right) was overtopped in several places (dark deposits/stripes), water entered the service area around the end of the north dike (far left). (Photographer Game McGimsey, image courtesy AVO/USGS.)

Drift River Oil Terminal, 23 March 2009 (AVO/USGS).
View west of the tank farm at DROT. Lahar deposits have ramped up to the top of the west dike and spilled over in a couple of locations. Water entered the compound along an existing roadway (foreground). The north dike (center) ends behind the grove of trees in the right midground. (Photographer Game McGimsey, image courtesy AVO/USGS.)

Drift River Oil Terminal, 23 March 2009 (AVO/USGS).
View west of the runway, helipad, and service buildings at DROT. The lahar deposit is at least half a meter thick at the buildings. (Photographer Cyrus Read, image courtesy AVO/USGS.)

Drift River Oil Terminal, 23 March 2009 (AVO/USGS).
View north up the runway. Lahar deposit covers runway and helipad to a depth at least half a meter. (Photographer Game McGimsey, image courtesy AVO/USGS.)

Since these pictures were taken further eruptions have produced more lahars that have descended the Drift Valley. What effect these have had on the oil terminal is at present unknown.

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