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Category: Volcanoes

Redoubt volcano in Alaska still rumbling as eruption watch continues

Mount Redoubt after an eruption on April 21, 1990. Note the ash cloud mirrored on the glassy surface of the Cook Inlet.

If Alaska's Mount Redoubt is going to blow its top, will it hurry up already?

For weeks, the volcano has rumbled and grumbled and scientists remain reasonably sure an eruption -- the first since a long series of them in 1989-90 (see photo) -- will occur.

But the tempestuous 10,200-foot peak 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, towering above the Cook Inlet across from the Kenai Peninsula, is keeping scientists and Alaskans guessing.

On Monday, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory, there was "elevated seismicity dominated by ongoing volcanic tremor and occasional small earthquakes."

A 3.6-magnitude earthquake 45 miles northwest of Anchorage was "clearly seen on Redoubt webicorders."

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Armageddon? In wake of so many disasters, one can't help but wonder

A fire truck races from a blaze in Victoria, Australia.

It feels like Armageddon.

Part of Australia becomes a raging inferno, killing more than 180 people and perhaps millions of animals, and elsewhere Down Under, floods have forced people from their homes and into watery streets they now share with crocodiles.

Costa Rica is still reeling from an earthquake and subsequent landslides last month, which killed more than two dozen people and left hundreds homeless.

In parts of the continental United States, ice storms and tornadoes in the last two weeks have caused death and destruction.

Meanwhile in Alaska, a volcano near the Cook Inlet appears ready to blow its top and threatens to rain smoke and ash over much of the Pacific Northwest.

All of this -- plus a good deal more, I'm sure -- at a time when the economy, thanks to years of corporate greed and consumer naivete, has tumbled into an abyss so deep and gooey it might not climb out for years.

Reaction: What is the cause of all this? Can anyone age 50 or younger recall a more depressing or frightening time on this planet? Are all of these disasters some karmic response to man's blight-like existence on earth, or pure coincidence?

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Mt. Redoubt volcano's 'unrest' recalls 1989 eruption

Mt. Redoubt during an eruption on April 21, 1990, as viewed from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula.

The latest from the Alaska Volcano Observatory on the status of Mt. Redoubt: "Unrest at Redoubt Volcano continues. Seismic activity remains elevated above background."

Sounds like a broken record, but at least Mt. Redoubt is providing ample warning and has all of Alaska on alert.

Longtime residents surely recall a five-month stretch that began in late 1989 during which the 10,197-foot volcano provided a string of eruptions and a steady outpouring of smoke and ash.

A United Press International article that Dec. 15 featured this initial announcement: "Redoubt Volcano southwest of Anchorage shook with thousands of small earthquakes Thursday, then erupted and shot a cloud of ash seven miles high."

Farther down in the story: "The eruption followed 24 hours of constant warning tremors, which calmed down after the eruption ended, then picked up again.... The ash plume — which shot 35,000 feet above the two-mile-high mountain — was carried toward Anchorage by strong winds... But the ash cloud skirted Anchorage and dusted towns beyond the city."

A day after a second, more violent eruption occurred that Dec. 17, the Associated Press reported: "Haze from the volcano drifted over Anchorage, Alaska's largest city with more than 200,000 people. The debris caused power outages, disrupted air travel and triggered public-health warnings."

But it was Christmas week and the economy was not in shambles. Shoppers, according to the report, filled "the streets and malls over the weekend."

—Pete Thomas

Photo: Mt. Redoubt during an eruption on April 21, 1990, as viewed from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula.

Credit: J. Warren / AVO-USGS Images

Mt. Redoubt volcano, like a ticking bomb, keeps Alaskans on high alert

The north flank of Mount Redoubt on Super Bowl Sunday 2009.

Like a ticking bomb, Mount Redoubt rumbles and heats from within, venting steam from newly-formed fumaroles, keeping Alaskans who live in its shadow on extreme alert.

Overnight "a high-intensity burst of volcanic tremor" occurred for six minutes, reports the Alaska Volcano Observatory. The observatory asserts "there was no eruption associated with this tremor."

Increasingly, though, it's appearing that the volcano will indeed erupt, which is an ominous prospect for those living in communities directly across the Cook Inlet on the Kenai Peninsula.

Volcanic ash and dust is jagged and can irritate skin, eyes and respiratory systems. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable.

The prospect of an eruption is not welcome by visiting fishermen either. In a few months it will be salmon season on the Kenai and in surrounding areas. A prolonged eruption, like the one in 1989-90, may adversely affect water quality and fishing.

But for now it seems entirely up to Mother Nature. Will the eruption occur today, tomorrow, next week or next month? And how extensive will the eruption become?

Only time will tell.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: The north flank of Mount Redoubt on Super Bowl Sunday 2009. Credit: Chris Waythomas / Alaska Volcano Observatory/U.S. Geological Survey

Mt. Redoubt volcano in Alaska is steaming; eruption watch continues

Mount Redoubt on Aug. 13, 1990.

Alaska's Mt. Redoubt has not erupted, but scientists and residents remain on alert and an eruption still appears imminent.

Latest update from the Alaska Volcano Observatory: Seismicity remains relatively unchanged since Friday afternoon, but a flight crew has observed steady melting around the summit area.

The website states: "Holes in the ice continue to grow, exposing more steaming rock. Volcanic gases continue to be detected. Clear web camera views currently show a steam plume rising from the area of the 1989-90 lava dome."

What can Alaskans expect if Redoubt blows for the first time since 1989-90?

It depends on their proximity to the 10,197-foot peak (see map, below) and direction and velocity of wind.

However, it could be ugly and uncomfortable. When Redoubt erupted sporadically during a five-month period 20 years ago, it sent a column of ash at least 8 miles high, perhaps into the stratosphere.

It nearly caused the crash of a commercial jet by destroying its engine blades and led to the establishment of the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, which informs pilots of new eruptions and possible related dangers.

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Mt. Redoubt volcano in Alaska still rumbling, but no eruption yet

Drift River-area structure was inundated during the last eruption of Alaska's Mt. Redoubt beginning in 1989.

The latest report on volatile Mt. Redoubt's status, from the Alaska Volcano Observatory website: "Unrest at Redoubt Volcano continues, though no eruption has yet occurred. Seismicity levels have risen within the last eight hours. Redoubt remains at Aviation Color Code ORANGE and Volcano Alert Level WATCH."

Also posted on the site, which is limited because of heavy traffic, was this 8 a.m. report: "Seismicity at Redoubt is varying in intensity but is still well above background. We have seen higher amplitude seismicity for the past several hours but appears to be subsiding a bit at this time."

Meanwhile, to the south, in Washington state's Puget Sound area, a magnitude 4.6 earthquake rattled residents early this morning. That probably is coincidental.

Outposts has a call into one of the scientists at Mt. Redoubt and will share any information he may provide.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Drift River-area structure was inundated during the last eruption of Alaska's Mt. Redoubt beginning in 1989. Credit: Alaska Volcano Observatory

Mount Redoubt volcano in Alaska expected to erupt 'within days'

Mount Redoubt sends an orange cloud of smoke and volcanic dust skyward in December 1990

Alaskans are not running in mad panic for cover, but many are concerned about the imminent eruption of Mount Redoubt southwest of Anchorage.

Fox News is reporting: "Mount Redoubt continues to rumble and simmer, prompting geologists to say this Alaska volcano could erupt "within days."

The Anchorage Daily News cautions: "Mount Redoubt is still rumbling and simmering, prompting geologists to repeat their warning that an eruption may be imminent."

It would not be a pleasant period in Anchorage if Redoubt were to blow its top, if its previous eruption is any indication.

For five months beginning in December 1989, smoke and ash from the 10,197-foot peak disrupted international air traffic and deposited volcanic dust throughout the Anchorage region.

That eruption also delivered mud flows from Redoubt into the Drift River drainage.

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