Original image courtesy of the Alaska Volcano Observatory, G. McGimsey, US Geological Survey
Last week it was earthquakes, this week it’s volcanoes.
In other words, it’s just another day in Alaska.
For those of you who have sent me email asking about Mount Redoubt, it’s no big deal. We’re in no danger of being entombed in red hot lava, or buried alive in ash, or chased from our homes by boiling avalanches of mud.
For those of you sending me death threats, well, so sorry about that. Better luck next time.
Redoubt is a hundred miles south of Anchorage, or about 160 miles south of me. If it blows like it did last time, we may see some ashfall. We’re prepared. I keep disaster kits in my truck and my wife’s Jeep. We’ve got plenty of canned food and camp stoves to cook it on if necessary. Hell, I even have a couple crates of MRE’s, but truthfully I’d probably gnaw my own leg off before I open those.
The big thing about volcanoes, at least in our location, is ash and abrasive dust. It can do serious damage to your lungs if you breath it in. We’ve got good filter masks, a pack in each vehicle and a pack in the emergency kit, so I’m not worried about it. Bigger problem is the dog and cats, they don’t take to filter masks well. I’ll lock them in the basement, if it becomes necessary – or the shop and run the big dust collection/filter system (hell, that might be the best thing for us human type people too). The dust is a much bigger threat to machinery, it can destroy an engine in no time flat. You need to have spare air filters on hand and change them frequently. It can also get into bearings and moving parts and cause abrasive friction failure.
On the other hand, if it falls on the roads, it’ll go a long way towards fixing the lack of friction problem we’re having at the moment (If you don’t get that, well, you probably live somewhere that the roads aren’t covered in ice all winter. It snowed last night, about eight inches and it’s still coming down at the moment. Whee).
Forgive me if I don’t get all spun up over Mt Redoubt. It rumbles. Sometimes it erupts, most of the time it goes back to sleep. Meh. There’s nine other active volcanoes in my neighborhood also, Spurr usually being the most petulant. Also, I lived in Iceland for several years, lots and lots of active volcanoes there. I once sat at an outdoor bar in the little town of Naxos, on Sicily, and watched lava flows from Mt Etna destroy a dozen homes and a 500 year old church less than a mile away. The Sicilians didn’t get excited about it, so I figured I’d keep ordering beer until people started screaming and running. A year later I watched Etna explode in the middle of the night from a US Navy ship ten miles off the coast, it was one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen, the mountain was on fire and fingers of liquid flame poured down the sides and into the sea, folks in Naxos were screaming and running then.
This is not to say that I don’t have a healthy respect for this type of natural force. I’ve walked through Pompeii and Herculaneum too. Becky, Beastly, and I once tramped across the live lava fields of Kailua, less than a dozen feet from 2000 degree lava flows after driving over towns that had been buried in the last major eruption. So, you know, I do take it seriously. And we’re prepared.
But I’m not all sweaty about it.
Again, thanks for asking.
For those interested, the Alaska Volcano Observatory website for Mt Redoubt can be found here. There are two webcams, one on the mountain, and one an oil platform in the Cook Inlet. Both update every five minutes or so, but the one on the mountain is usually covered over in ice this time of year. Also, note that the AVO/USGS is experiencing a major deluge in traffic on this site, so every once in a while you get shunted to a low bandwidth text only server.
One thing about Alaska, it’s never boring.