Thursday, May 17, 2018

Volcano Preparedness Month

Tomorrow (May 18th, 2018) marks the 38th Anniversary of the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens, in WA.

In case you weren't aware, that's kind of a big deal here in the Evergreen State, and in Emergency Preparedness, and in Vulcanology.

Therefore, May is Volcano Preparedness Month here.

(Every month is Volcano Preparedness Month on The Big Island: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory...)

One event commemorating VPM is that a group of scientists with the Cascades Volcano Observatory and the Washington State Emergency Management Division (EMD's Volcano page.) hosted a Reddit Ask me Anything session: We Are U.S. West Coast Volcano Experts. Ask us Anything!

This was fascinating, educational, and  entertaining.

Fun facts:
  • Geologists do not use the term "overdue" when discussing the potential of a volcano to erupt. Volcanos do not maintain a schedule.
  • The Yellowstone "super-volcano" is unlikely to erupt any time soon, and when it does, it will probably be more like Kilauea than Mount Saint Helens.
  • Volcanologists become very territorial about their favorite volcanoes ("My volcano can take your volcano with one magma chamber tied behind it's back!" 
  • The greatest danger from Mount Rainier is from lahars, which will strand Mrs Drang, the cats, and I on our own island. (seriously, the 98003 will become cut off from the surrounding terrain, that which isn't submerged...)
  • The "'The floor is lava' game" gets very complicated when played by volcanologists.
  • A volcano may cause the earth to shake, but earthquakes don't cause volcanoes to erupt. 
    • Usually. If the volcano is right on top of a fault, maybe...
  • Apparently, the only decent volcano movies are documentaries.  
    • No, you can't drive your jeep over lava.
    • No, you can't outrun a pyroclastic flow.
    • No, you can't drill a hole and "relieve the pressure."
      • Not even by detonating a nuke "down there."
For fellow residents of Washington State, the Department of Natural resources maintains an online hazards map: Washington Geologic Information Portal. Plug in an address and see how vulnerable that location is to various hazards from earthquake, volcano, tsunami, etc. (Like I said, fairly safe here in the 98-Double Ought-3, although for some hazards it's relatively safe...)

While researching this, I ran across an old article in The Stranger which may have some currency: Nine Questions for Sandi Doughton, Author of Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest - Slog - The Stranger.
  • Now, if the Cascadia Subduction Zone cuts loose, we may still be on an island here in the 98-Double Ought-3, but I'm not sure it'll help...

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