Saturday, February 28, 2009

Colombia: Galeras volcano erupts!

Galeras volcano in southern Colombia erupted on Friday for the second time in less than a week, sending ash raining down but no causing no victims or damage, the Colombian Institute of Geology and Mines said.

A forceful eruption began at 7:05 am (1205 GMT), residents reported from the city of Pasto, at the foot of the volcano.

The regional alert system was raised to its highest level, the institute said in a statement.

The eruption was "accompanied by shock waves," generating vibrating effects and audible rumbles, the institute said.

Speaking on Caracol radio emergency official Luz Amanda Pulido reported ash was falling and that contingency evacuation plans were in place if the situation worsens.

It follows a similar eruption late Saturday at the volcano, which is located near the border with Ecuador. That eruption caused no casualties or damage, although emergency procedures began to evacuate 8,000 residents.

The 4,270-meter (14,009-foot) Galeras has stirred sporadically in recent years. It erupted in January 2008, causing no casualties, but a 1993 eruption claimed the lives of nine people.

Chaiten volcano erupts again!

More than 150 people who had returned to a Chilean town destroyed by a volcanic eruption last year were evacuated again on Thursday as the volcano roared back to life, spewing ash high into the air.

The explosion apparently rocked the dome of the Chaiten volcano and sent volcanic material down the mountain's slope, threatening to block a river and trigger flooding, said Paula Narvaez, a presidential delegate to the area in southern Chile.

Experts who flew over the volcano reported "large emanation of gas" on Thursday and said the situation is risky for the nearby seaside town of Chaiten because rains could trigger avalanches.

"The experts were unanimous in considering that no one must remain in Chaiten," Chile's Emergency Bureau said in a communique.

Narvaez said that as many as 160 people were evacuated from the vicinity of the 2,700-foot (960-meter) volcano.

More than 4,000 people were initially evacuated after Chaiten erupted on May 2 for the first time in an estimated 9,000 years.

On Thursday, increased seismic activity was reported and ash fell 100 miles (160 kilometers) away in Futaleufu.

Some residents of Chaiten, six miles (10 kilometers) from the like-named volcano, have strongly resisted government efforts to relocate them to a new settlement following the devastating eruption last year.

Residents opposed to the move in recent weeks staged protests in the town's ruins, amid houses buried under ash and volcanic mudflows.

Narvaez said the situation on Thursday "was exactly the kind of danger we were talking about when we decided to relocate Chaiten."

The relocation site has yet to be determined.

Alaska: Some schools are preparing for eruption

Some Alaskan schools are making preparations in advance of what scientists say is an "imminent" eruption from the 10,200-foot Redoubt Volcano, about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Scientists from the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) set the observatory's alert level on a "watch" for a possible eruption after the mountain experienced tremors and elevated seismic activity, including a sharp increase in earthquakes underneath the mountain.

Geologists flew to Mount Redoubt to collect gas samples and look for signs of an eruption after a steam plume was again spotted Feb. 7, near a dome that formed after the last eruption in 1990.

Alaska's volcanoes are not like Hawaii's. "Most of them don't put out the red river of lava," said AVO's John Power. Instead, they typically explode and shoot ash 30,000 to 50,000 feet high--more than nine miles--into the jet stream.

The Anchorage School District's (ASD) web site features information about a possible eruption and encourages schools to prepare in advance. The web site says scientists predict that it would take at least two and a half hours for ash from an eruption to travel to the Anchorage area.

"Our response will depend on the timing and severity of the ashfall," said a district spokesperson.

ASD's Departments of Instruction, Maintenance, Transportation, Risk Management, Emergency Preparedness, and others have reviewed emergency plans and have plans for dealing with a variety of scenarios. The district will contact employees and parents with critical information and shelter-in-place, if necessary, in the event of a disruption during the school day.

District officials said that emergency information will be available on a specific television channel, on ASD's web site, through a telephone recording, and through major media.

Purchasing N95 dust masks, using eye goggles or other protection, and buying extra air and oil filters for vehicles will help citizens prepare for a possible ashfall. A wet handkerchief or piece of fabric can take the place of a dust mask. People, especially young children, the elderly, and those with respiratory conditions, are advised to stay indoors. Pets should be brought indoors as well.

The ash from an eruption can injure skin, eyes, and breathing passages.

"It's a very abrasive kind of rock fragment," Power said. "It's not the kind of ash that you find at the base of your wood stove." The particulate has jagged edges and has been used as an industrial abrasive and to polish metals.

It's also potentially deadly for anyone flying in a jet.

"Think of flying an airliner into a sandblaster," Power said.

The jet stream can carry ash for hundreds of miles. Ash from Kasatochi Volcano in the Aleutians last August blew all the way to Montana and threatened aircraft, Power said.

Kilauea volcanic eruption celebrates 26 years!

The Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium was full on Jan. 13, some people even sitting on the floor and standing up in the back.

They were all there, locals and tourist alike to watch "After Dark In The Park," a presentation by Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on Kilauea's eruptions. The presenter, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Tim Orr, spoke about the east rift zone's 26 years of eruptions and the surprise eruptive vent that opened in Halema'uma'u crater last year.

The east rift zone celebrated its 26th anniversary Jan. 3. It was an exciting and eruptive 26 years. Orr said Pu'u 'O'o vent covered 29,859 acres of land, destroying roughly 180 structures, mostly old abandoned homes in the Royal Garden Subdivision and Kalapana, and adding new land to Hawai'i Island.

Forty-four different activities originated from Pu'u 'O'o vent. Pu'u 'O'o is known for its high lava fountains, each fountain lasting about one day. These high fountains ranged in size, the largest being a little over 1,500 ft high, "Which is a little taller then the Empire State building," Orr said.

In 1986 the eruption shifted downwind away from Pu'u 'O'o, and Kupaianaha was born. Unlike Pu'u 'O'o, which was known for its high lava fountains, Kupaianaha was characterized by its continuous flow of lava. The flow that destroyed Kalapana in 1990 originated from Kupaianaha. On March 5, 2008, the flow reached the ocean, and that same tube system remains today. The location was named Waikupanaha.

The east rift zone flows show no signs of slowing down. According to Orr, the vents will probably continue doing what they have been doing.

During the presentation on Pu'u 'O'o and Kupaianaha, viewers were able to watch a video clip from a time lapse camera, of a period of over 9 hours, which occurred on Jan. 26, 2008. The camera showed lava breaking through the earth and flowing out.

Orr ended his presentation by thanking the past and present USG workers who have contributed to the research that led to his presentation.

To find out more information on the activities of the lava flow visit:

To view the video clips played at the presentation visit:

Mount Redoubt steams up in Alaska

Geologists on Saturday spotted expanded holes in the glacier that clings to the north side of Alaska's Mount Redoubt, and rivulets of water streaming down its side, as they closely monitored the volcano for a new eruption.

Scientists with the Alaska Volcano Observatory on Friday flew close to Drift Glacier and saw vigorous steaming emitted from a football field-size area on the north side of the mountain. By Saturday, they had confirmed the area was a fumarole, an opening in the earth that emits gases and steam, and that it had doubled in size overnight.

The area is at 7,100 feet, just below a dome that formed the last time Redoubt blew in 1990, said research geologist Kristi Wallace.

Observers also saw water streaming down Drift Glacier, indicating heat from magma is reaching higher elevations of the mountain.

"The glacier is sort of falling apart in the upper part," Wallace said.

The signs of heat add to concerns that an eruption is near, which could send an ash cloud about 100 miles northeast toward Anchorage, the state's largest city, or onto communities on the Kenai Peninsula, which are even closer to the mountain on the west side of Cook Inlet.

Particulate sent up in an eruption has jagged edges and can injure skin, eyes and breathing passages, especially in young children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems.

It can also foul engines. An eruption in December 1989 sent out an ash cloud 150 miles that flamed out the jet engines of a KLM flight carrying 231 passengers on its way to Anchorage. The jet dropped more than two miles before pilots were able to restart the engines and land safely.

The volcano observatory a week ago detected a sharp increase in earthquake activity below the volcano and upgraded its alert level to orange, one stage below red for a full eruption. The warning that an eruption was imminent prompted a rush on dust masks and car air filters in Anchorage.

Wallace flew Friday and observed other indications of warmth on the nearly 10,200-foot mountain. At a flat area on the 9,000-foot level, scientists photographed a "collapse feature," a circular hole where ice had melted. The feature had grown larger and become irregular in shape by Saturday, Wallace said.

"That tells us that there's some indication that a magma chamber is moving up into the volcanic edifice and heating up the rocks," Wallace said.

Scientists flying into or near the plume Saturday took samples of sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide, all magmatic gases, Wallace said.

Alaska volcanoes typically start with an explosion that can shoot ash 50,000 feet high and into the jet stream but there are warning signs because magma causes small earthquakes as it moves.

Geologist Jennifer Adleman said magma is a combination of three phases: liquid rock plus a gas and crystals than can form sort of a froth that works its way up the mountain.

"A lot of scientists refer to is as a crystalline mush," she said.

The hot liquid and the gas fracture rock as they create a path and force their way to the surface. The observatory has been recording quakes up to magnitude 2.1 but not at the frequency that preceded the 1989 and 1990 eruptions.

"We're looking for an increase of seismicity to match the precursor activity," Wallace said. "We haven't seen that yet."

The observatory is a joint program between the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute and the state Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.

If the mountain erupts, the observatory will immediately alert the Federal Aviation Administration to warn pilots, and then other emergency officials.

Military aircrafts are moved to McChord due to volcanic activity in Alaska

U.S. Air Force aircraft and personnel are being relocated from Alaska to McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma as a precautionary measure due to heightened activity at Alaska's Mount Redoubt volcano.

The relocation, while temporary, is expected to last two to four weeks at a minimum, said Master Sgt. Dean J. Miller, a spokesman for the McChord base.

The aircraft and personnel are coming to McChord from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, which is located about 100 miles from the Redoubt volcano.

The mountain began rumbling back to life several days ago, and activity has been increasing ever since. Gas and steam billowed from the mountain's flank over the weekend.

Alaska volcanoes typically start with an explosion that can shoot ash 50,000 feet high and into the jet stream. The ash can damage or foul aircraft engines in the vicinity.

The Redoubt volcano last erupted in 1989, when it sent out an ash cloud that flamed out the jet engines of a KLM flight carrying 231 passengers on its way to Anchorage. The jet dropped more than two miles before pilots were able to restart the engines and land safely.

The volcano observatory a week ago detected a sharp increase in earthquake activity below the volcano and upgraded its alert level to orange, one stage below red for a full eruption.

The Air Force sent three cargo aircraft from Elmendorf to McChord on Saturday and three more are expected Sunday night. Other aircraft may arrive within the next 24 to 48 hours.

McChord's own C-17 strategic airlift mission makes the base ideally suited to host the relocated aircraft and allows the Elmendorf airmen to continue to meet mission and training requirements, said Col. Jeffrey Stephenson, McChord's 62nd Airlift Wing commander.

"Our ability to quickly receive additional air power on short notice and continue to support the nation's worldwide strategic airlift requirements is a capability long-associated with McChord," Stephenson said.

"We've supported evacuations in the past, and we will gladly support our fellow airmen from Elmendorf as long as they need us."

If and when an eruption begins, it is expected to cause disruptions for civilian aircraft as well, officials said.

Japan and Russia: Two volcanic eruptions

Two volcanoes in Japan and another in eastern Russia erupted overnight, spreading ash as far as the Philippines and Vietnam, the Japan Meteorological Agency said on its Web site.

Seven minor eruptions occurred at Mount Sakurajima on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, throwing rocks up to 2 kilometers, the agency said. Eruptions at Mount Asama in central Japan and Karymsky Volcano on the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka were also reported. There were no reports of damage or injuries.

“I woke up after midnight to the sound and shake of the eruption,” Daisuke Tanaka, 24, a convenience-store attendant, who lives about 20 kilometers away from Asama, said by telephone today. “The sound was as if an airplane was taking off nearby and it continued for 30 minutes.”

The eruptions occurred in a region where four tectonic plates, the Eurasian, Philippine, North American and Pacific, meet, causing seismic activity.

Japan has 108 active volcanoes representing about 10 percent of the world’s total. Forty-three people died in 1991 after Mount Unzen erupted on the southern island of Kyushu, while 15,000 people were evacuated after Mount Usu erupted on the northern island of Hokkaido in 2000.

The 2,568 meter Asama, which last had a minor eruption in August last year, is one of the most active volcanoes in Japan. A major eruption in 1783 killed more than 1,000 people.

The meteorological agency raised its alert levels for both Asama and Sakurajima, prohibiting people from entering the area around the volcano.

To contact the reporters on this story: Takahiko Hyuga in Tokyo at; Stuart Biggs in Tokyo at

Mount Asama is about to erupt!

Japan's Meteorological Agency increased the alert level at Mount Asama volcano in central Japan, warning of an eruption within two days, an agency official said on Sunday.

The alert level was raised due to signs of increased seismic activity on Mount Asama, a 2,568 meter (8,425 foot) peak 140 km (90 miles) northwest of Tokyo, the official said.

"There are prospects for an eruption that could throw volcanic rocks to a distance of around 4 kilometres," Sadayuki Kitagawa, senior coordinator for volcanic affairs at Japan's Meteorological Agency, told Reuters by telephone.

He said the type of seismic activity detected on the mountain pointed to the possibility of an eruption within a few hours to around two days.

Mount Asama, one of Japan's more active volcanoes, had its biggest eruption in 21 years on September 1 2004, spewing hot rock and raining ash on areas as far as 200 km (125 miles) away. That eruption, however, did not cause any major damage.

The warning level for a Mount Asama eruption was raised one notch to level three on a scale of five, in which five is the highest level of alert, Kitagawa said.

A level three alert covers non-residential areas near the crater of the volcano and warns people not to approach the volcano. It was the first such alert for Mount Asama since the Meteorological Agency adopted the current volcanic warning levels in December 2007, Kitagawa said.

Mount Asama is known for a huge eruption in 1783 that caused widespread damage and killed around 1,500 people.

(Reporting by Masayuki Kitano; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?