Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Volcanic Threat

Reuters photo of Indonesian eruption
When the volcano erupted in Iceland and disrupted European air travel, the threat of volcanic eruptions was briefly in the headlines. I wrote about it several times including this post regarding predictions that world was going to see more volcanic activity than we have been used to the last quarter century.

Now, another "unexpected" volcanic eruption as Mt. Sinaburg has begun erupting in the last 48 hours.  The Wall Street Journal says,


The vulcanologist said Mount Sinabung last erupted in 1600, so observers don't know its eruption pattern and are monitoring it for more activity. Evacuations on the volcano's slopes started Friday at the first signs of activity. Many of the people who fled are staying in government buildings, houses of worship and other evacuation centers in two nearby towns.
My point is: At this time last week, there was no inkling that this volcano would erupt. We have a number of active volcanos in the western U.S. For all we know, we might be a month or less from a major eruption.  
This is why we need to have an enhanced volcano monitoring, watch and warning program in the U.S. I don't know if we'll need it next week or twenty years from now, but need it we will. 

3 comments:

  1. Mike, not sure if you've mentioned it before, but last January Yellowstone was recording 1000 miniquakes per day, which had seismologists very excited. I bet more people believe the president is a Muslim than know that Yellowstone is site of one of most active volcanoes in the world!

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  2. Yes, there is a giant volcano under Yellowstone and yes, there were quakes aplenty but -- nothing.

    This is my point: We don't know how to forecast these things and, for all we know, we could be a week away from a giant eruption of Mt. Shasta.

    For the future, please do not post comments about the President's religion.

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