After roughly a week of significant activity, Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano erupted late Sunday night, sending ash up to 60k ft., and melting portions of an adjacent glacier.
According to a report from the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), Redoubt commenced a series of eruptions at 10:38pm AKDT. The eruptions lasted anywhere from 4 to 30 min. and ceased at about 5:00am.
Among the hazards associated with erupting volcanoes are ash clouds, debris flow, and meltwater flooding. Redoubt has been no exception:
National Weather Service radar, pilot reports, and AVO analysis of satellite imagery suggest that these events produced ash clouds that reached 60,000 ft above sea level (asl), with the bulk of the ash volume between 25 – 30,000 ft asl. Traces of ash fall have been reported in Skwentna, Talkeetna, Wasilla, and Trapper Creek.
Last night’s explosive eruptions caused melting of the Drift glacier and greatly increased discharge down the Drift River. AVO plans a helicopter overflight to the area today to assess conditions at the volcano and along the Drift River.
Ash clouds and flooding can be threats miles from the site of an eruption, so it pays to monitor them. In fact, one could say that the investment pays for itself.
During the 1989 eruption, a KLM jetliner managed to lose power in all 4 engines after ingesting ash. After dropping several thousand feet, the pilots restarted the engines, and ultimately landed the plane safely. Since then, aviation and meteorological authorities monitor ash clouds and routinely route flights around them or cancel them entirely.
The 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens sent debris flow down the Toutle and Cowlitz Rivers, wiping out bridges and other infrastructure along their banks, Debris filled in portions of the Columbia River, significantly disrupting ship traffic.
Perhaps Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who has issued no statements on the eruption of a volcano which is currently not located in his state, should consider the economic costs of volcanic eruptions before attempting to use them for 5 minutes of political gain.
If you’re interested in monitoring the eruption series, which could continue for months, AVO provides a twitter feed at http://twitter.com/alaska_avo. They have a Reboubt volcano activity page containing status reports, webcams and links to related information.