El Misti threatens 100,000 people
You can never be too prepared with a volcano is located less than 20 km from a city of one million.
I write the Eruptions blog on Big Think. I've been mesmerized with volcanoes (and geology) all my life. It helps that part of my family comes from the shadow of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia, where I could see first hand the deadly effects of volcanic eruptions. Since then, I've taken a bit of a winding path to become a volcanologist. I started as a history major at Williams College, almost went into radio, but ended up migrating to geology, including an undergraduate thesis on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. I followed this up by changing coast to get my Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Then I ran a MC-ICP-MS lab at University of Washington for a spell (and wrote for an indie rock website). I spent three years as a postdoctoral scholar at University of California - Davis studying the inner workings of magmatic systems. I am now an assistant professor at Denison University and have projects in New Zealand, Chile and Oregon.
I am fascinated by volcanoes, their eruptions and how those eruptions interact with the people who live around the volcanoes. I started this blog after getting frustrated with the news reports of volcanic eruptions. Most of them get the information wrong and/or are just sensationalistic. I will try to summarize eruptions as they occur, translate some of the volcanic processes that are happening and comment on the reports themselves.
And no matter what people tell you, I definitely do not have a cat named Tephra. (OK, I do).
You can find out more about my research by visiting my website. If you have any comments, questions or information, feel free to contact me at eruptionsblog at gmail dot com.
\nEl Misti in Peru, as seen from Arequipa.
As I like to remind people concerning volcanic hazards, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure. This is not to imply we can prevent volcanic hazards from affecting us, but rather that proper mitigation in the form of monitoring, planning, education and practice can save countless lives (and dollars) when a volcano erupts. Officials in Peru seem to believe this, as they recently ran for practice evacuations for residents around El Misti, in the southern part of the country. Jersy Mariño from the Instituto Geológico, Minero y Metalúrgico (INGEMMET) says that upwards of 100,000 people living around the volcano (in spanish) could be in harms' way when El Misti erupts again. So, officials and residents have taken part in evacuation drills to be able to (a) know what to do if a real evacuation is needed and (b) find deficiencies in the current mitigation plan. This goes with the recent volcanic hazards map prepared for the volcano.\n\n
El Misti last erupted in 1985 and tends to produce explosive eruptions and pyroclastic flows. Most eruptions are in the VEI 1-2 range, although an eruption ~80 B.C. is believed to be closer to a VEI 4, suggesting that El Misti is clearly capable of large eruptive events. The danger El Misti poses is amplified by the fact that the city of Arequipa, population of over 1,000,000, is only 17 km / 10.5 miles from the summit of the volcano. Just looking at the topography around the volcano shows that most large flows - pyroclastic or lahars - will be funneled towards the greater Arequipa area. The more that can be done to prepare the area for El Misti's next eruption, the less likely a true disaster might occur.
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