Redoubt Eruption Update for 4/6/2009
Ash from Redoubt is beginning to get in the way of life near the volcano in Alaska as the eruption continues
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.
Image courtesy of AVO/USGS by Cindy Koplin showing the ash fall in Homer, AK on 4/4/09
Not much new to report about the eruption at Redoubt beyond the fact that it continues. AVO has kept the warning level at Red/Warning after briefly dropping it to Orange/Watch on Friday night. The 15,000 foot / 5 km-tall plume on Sunday was mostly water and volcanic gases. Eagle-eyed observers also noticed a plume on the lower flanks on the north side of the volcano that is believed to be steam generated by block & ash flows interacting with snow or water. These flow block & ash flows are coming from the crumbling new dome forming below the 1989-90 domes.
No data so far from the gas flight AVO planned for Sunday, however we do have some sulfur dioxide data showing the plume from Redoubt heading out over the Pacific as of 4/4/2009 from the OMI satellite. There is a lot of chatter about the potential climate effects of the Redoubt eruption and so far there has been very little data to actually make any statements. However, the eruption, so far, has been fairly small in the great scheme of volcanic eruptions (lets say versus Pinatubo in 1991 or El Chichon in 1982) but once we have an idea of the sulfur and carbon dioxide output we can begin to model any potential atmospheric effect.
The ash fall from Redoubt (see above) is beginning to make national news as the winds blow it into more populated areas. So far, the ash has been nothing but a nuisance, but people have a low threshold for nuisances on the whole. It doesn't stop folks from saying things like:
I would like it to have a big boom and get it over with...
To that I say: be careful what you wish for. It will be interesting to see how people cope with intermittent ash fall for a few months. CNN is even reporting on AVO's use of Twitter to inform the public on Redoubt's activity, albeit 3 months after AVO started.
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