Move over Redoubt … Okmok shows signs of life

Count this as your mini-update for Redoubt, with the news being no news. Even AVO seems a little bored with Redoubt lately (not to say they aren’t watching it as vigilantly as ever) as their last three updates have been exactly the same:

Redoubt volcano has not erupted. Seismicity is low, but above background levels and consists mainly of small discrete earthquakes. Night has fallen and no image is visible in the webcam.

However, down the road (arc-wise) in the Aleutians, AVO has raised the alert level at Okmok Caldera. New volcanic tremors were felt yesterday at Okmok, averaging about one event per hours, which is above the normal background seismicity for Okmok. It also marks the first volcanic tremors since the volcano erupted this past July and August (see above from AVO). However, they don’t go as far as to say that an eruption at Okmok is likely, but to be on the safe side, they have raised the Aviation Color Code alert to Yellow.
{Hat tip to the Volcanism Blog for bringing the Okmok activity to my attention.}

Redoubt Mini-update for 2/6/09

Just to keep us appraised of the situation at ever-steaming-and-shaking Redoubt:
From AVO (2/6/2009 11:05 AM)

Unrest at Redoubt Volcano continues. 
After the tremor episodes of yesterday, seismic activity has remained slightly elevated relative to the last few days. 
The volcano has not erupted.

That is about it. A few quick hits about Redoubt (as the world waits) include an article on potential redirected air traffic if the volcano erupts, an update mentioning that if the snow is falling during an eruption, radar won’t pick up the ash until its at 15-20,ooo feet , how British Columbia is prepping for an eruption and an oddly-titled article from USA Today called “Alaska volcano may be on verge of venting” (which then just goes on to sum up what people are planning to do if the volcano erupts).

Redoubt continues its holding pattern

A week ago, if you asked around, I’m sure most people would have thought Redoubt would have erupted by now considering all the seismicity and melting that was seen at the end of last week. However, volcanology is not an exact science, and here we are continuing to watch Redoubt tease us with signs of pending activity. New holes have appeared in the snow that caps the volcano, the seismicity continues and the volcano is still spewing sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide – all signs that magma is intruding the volcanic edifice. However, as on this morning (2/5/2009), the volcano has yet to erupt.
Some news from earlier in the week is that the US Air Force has moved many of its aircraft from the area of Redoubt to Washington state, apparently not wanting to play the waiting game like it did during the 1991 eruption of Pinatubo near Clark Air Base. Also, an eruption of Redoubt might also have a larger effect on air cargo rather than air passenger traffic, with one of the largest air cargo hubs located in Anchorage.
UPDATE 9:20 AM 2/5/2009: Read into it as you will, but Redoubt’s activity is in “slight decline” according to AVO.

Asama, Sakurajima and Karymsky all erupt while Redoubt doesn’t

Mt. Asama near Tokyo did, in fact, erupt within the “two day” window predicted by the Meteorological Agency of Japan. The reports this morning put the ash column at ~2,000 meters (~6-7,000 feet), so relatively small, but big enough to dust parts of Tokyo (~145 km away) with ash. No evacuations are planned for the area around Asama, but people who live within 4 km of the volcano are to “take caution”. 
There are also new reports that Mt. Sakurajima in southern Japan erupted yesterday. Block were thrown up to a few kilometers from the volcano. The article suggests that ash spread as far as the Philippines and Vietnam, but I have yet to find any other data to back this up. The same article also mentions that Karymsky erupted overnight as well. The impression I get is that they got all this information from the Tokyo VAAC when they were researching the Asama eruption, so few details beyond “ash” can be found.
Of course, with all these other volcanoes picking up the slack, Redoubt remains recalcitrant in its activity. There was no eruption over the weekend and the latest AVO has to offer is the news of an intense jolt to the volcano early this morning, but no eruption thus far today.

Redoubt takes over the headlines

It is either a slow news day, or something about the eruption watch at Redoubt has captured the attention of someone at as it is now the headline on the website (see above). This is interesting (and odd) to me considering that, over the last few days, very little has changed in the status of Redoubt. In fact, AVO has said things have, in fact, settled down a bit. However, they are still thinking that an eruption is imminent, but maybe in the scales of days to weeks rather than hours. The Anchorage Daily News does have a nice map of Anchorage’s area volcanoes and when they last erupted (see below). Beyond this, the news at Redoubt is, well, there is no news except they are keeping an eye on it.

In a sidenote while we’re on the subject of headlines, ABC News is making a big deal that the Stimulus bill recently passed contained this (as an example of waste):

  • $200 million for the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor earthquakes and volcanoes

Now, I don’t want to get into politics, but can someone explain to me how this is waste considering the lack of funding for most volcano and earthquake monitoring facilities? I’m excited to see the USGS getting more money for this stuff – and yes, it does create jobs because the USGS can hire more people to monitor volcanoes and seismically active area.

Redoubt on alert

Eruptions reader Ross was very right in pointing out that something is up at Redoubt. The Alaska Volcano Observatory has put Redoubt on orange alert for aviation and suggest that an eruption could occur with “hours to days”. The most recent update from AVO says that a recent overflight of the volcano done this afternoon shows no evidence that an eruption has started, but steam and sulfur output has increased. Meanwhile, seismicity at the volcano is also well above background. In all, it sounds like the Aleutians might have yet another volcano erupting if these signs continue.

Chaiten update for 2009

It is hard to believe that the eruption at seem to come out of nowhere at Chaiten started over 8 months ago now, and apparently is still not showing many signs of abating. I did get a chance to see some great talks and posters at AGU last month about the Chaiten eruption, with the key points I took away being that Chaiten is erupting a very crystal poor rhyolite (<1% crystals) and that it seems that the source of the magma is relatively deep in the Andean crust. Also, there are some indications that the eruption at Chaiten may have been tectonically instigated – i.e., that earthquakes in the area might have helped the magma to erupt – at least that is what Luis Lara of the SERNAGEOMIN believes (hat tip to Thomas Donlon for the link). The eruption at Chaiten also wreaked more havoc on aviation in South America than we thought, effecting airports 1000s of kilometers away and almost bringing down a number of aircraft. Most everyone I talked to seems to think what we are seeing is very similar to what happened at Little Glass Mountain in California about 1,000 years ago.
Moreover, the eruption hasn’t really stopped since it began in May of 2008. In fact, just last week we saw a collapse of part of the new dome that have produced some pyroclastic flows within and outside the caldera (see above and the Volcanism Blog) and fed more ash into the choked rivers near the volcano. It is anyone’s guess (well, at least at AGU) how long this eruption might go on – weeks? months? years? – but the consensus is that this might be a once-in-a-lifetime eruption (but we already knew that, didn’t we?)

Photos of the activity at Koryak

Some more information is coming out about the activity at Koryak (aka Koryaksky) in Kamchatka. Russian geologist Alexei Ozerov says that the activity at Koryak (note: the image in the article linked here appears to have nothing to do with Koryak) has started with more power than the last known eruption of the volcano in 1956. He also mentions that the volcano is already a danger to aviation in the area (as the closing of the Petropavlosvk-Kamchatsky Airport suggested).
We also have some great images of the volcano, showing the vent on the side of the volcano (see above). It is hard to tell from the images whether juvenile magma is being erupted, or we’re seeing phreatomagmatic explosions caused by the interaction of heat and water (from the melting snow). However, it seems that the increased activity is centered around a previously identified hydrothermal vent on the side of the volcano as some of the images show steam being emitted in November and before – although much weaker than the current rate.
{Thanks to reader Thomas Donlon for finding these images of the activity.}

Potential Russian eruption closes airport

News is filtering in that Koryak (aka Koryaksky) Volcano in Kamchatka might be heading towards an explosive eruption. The details are scarce, but it seems that a breach on the northwest slopes of the volcano might cause an explosive eruption, however, it is not clear why this is. All this talk has caused the Petropavlosvk-Kamchatsky Airport (~13 miles northeast) to close in fears of this potential activity.
Koryak is yet another potentially active volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula, along with currently active BezymiannyKliuchevskoi, Karymsky and Shiveluch. The last eruption at Koryak was in 1956-57 that produced pyroclastic flows and lahars, a VEI of ~3 event. Beyond that, there isn’t too much known about the volcano’s past activity.
{Hat tip to reader Oakden Wolf for pointing us towards the activity.}

Keeping an eye on Redoubt

Redoubt Volcano, in Alaska, is one of the more troublesome volcanoes in the state. Not only is it relatively close to population centers, but it also lies directly within the aircraft corridors above the Aleutians for planes headed to Asia and beyond. This means that USGS and AVO geologists have to be especially vigilant in watching Redoubt’s every move.
Currently, the volcano has been recently changed to a yellow (elevated) alert, due to increased steam/volcanic gas emissions (remember, the number one volcanic gas is water vapor) at the volcano. So far, there haven’t been any reported eruptions of ash (i.e., juvenile, fresh magmatic material), but you never know how far behind rumblings and steam that could be (well, you can have an idea that it could be “not far”). It has been almost 19 years since the last eruption (see the famous image of the eruption column above) of Redoubt, so we’re all on pins-and-needles to see whether this activity will lead to a new eruptive period.