Thar She Blows! Will Alaska’s Mount Redoubt Soon Erupt?
Scientists and vulcanologists seem to be in agreement that the eruption of Alaska’s Mount Redoubt is imminent. The question is not if there will be an eruption but when it will happen and how strong it will be. Redoubt has a long history of documented eruptions. The most recent occurred in 1989-90 and was characterized by large explosions that produced ash clouds reaching altitudes of 40,000 feet that disrupted air traffic operations in and out of Anchorage.
Possible scenarios for this new event range from no eruption at all to a complete collapse of the mountain flank, but according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory, the most likely scenario is an eruption similar to the 1989-90 event that could persist for weeks or months. The AVO warns that the hazards associated with this type of eruption could include ash clouds reaching 40,000 feet or higher; ash fall; mudflows that could travel east down the Drift River, possibly reaching the Cook Inlet; and pyroclastic flows (fast-moving clouds of hot ash and gas) that could travel swiftly down the mountain flanks, affecting areas within about nine miles of the volcano.
Judge for yourself. First, take a look at the photos of the 1989-90 eruption:
And now the photos that have been recorded over the last few days:
Residents living in the area around Mount Redoubt, having previously been through an eruption, are taking it all in stride. Other than stocking up on air filters for their cars and paper masks to wear if ash begins to fall, life goes on as usual. Alaskans. I’d say they’re a crazy bunch, except for the fact that I have never evacuated for any hurricane that was headed my way during the years I lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, or the Outer Banks of North Carolina. And the fact that I’m dying to hop on a plane to see that smokin’ Alaskan volcano up close.
Photos courtesy of the Alaska Volcano Observatory