Mount St. Helens Isn’t Erupting

That’s resuspended ash from earlier eruptions.

Yes, volcanoes can still be hazardous decades after they erupt. Several weeks ago, the Alaska Volcano Observatory noted resuspended ash from an eruption up there 106 years ago!

DTG: 20181014/1620Z


PSN: N4611 W12210


SUMMIT ELEV: 8363 FT (2549 M)

ADVISORY NR: 2018/004



OBS VA DTG: 14/1612Z

OBS VA CLD: SFC/FL090 N4614 W12215 – N4614 W12208
– N4609 W12208 – N4610 W12216 – N4614 W12215 MOV
W 20-25KT

FCST VA CLD +6HR: 14/2200Z SFC/FL090 N4615 W12216
– N4613 W12208 – N4609 W12208 – N4610 W12216 –
N4615 W12216





Update, October 15, 2018: No need for another VAAC advisory, apparently (perhaps because it doesn’t get up to flight level), but resuspended ash is apparent again today in the VolcanoCam:

Note the light ash cloud streaming off to the right.

That can’t be fun for the volcano’s human neighbors!

Update, October 21, 2018: Here’s the official word, passed along this past Friday:

U.S. Geological Survey
Friday, October 19, 2018, 7:50 AM PDT (Friday, October 19, 2018, 14:50 UTC)

Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN

Activity Update: All volcanoes in the Cascade Range of Oregon and Washington are at normal background levels of activity. These include Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams in Washington State; and Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Three Sisters, Newberry, and Crater Lake in Oregon.

Recent Observations: Activity at Cascade Range volcanoes remained at background levels throughout the week. Earlier in the week, strong winds stirred up dust and ash from deposits on the north side of Mount St. Helens, prompting notices of volcanic ash plumes. There was no eruption. As winds die down and rain moves in next week, the lingering dusty haze will dissipate. As we move into winter, snow and moisture will hold these fine particles in place.

The U.S. Geological Survey and Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) continue to monitor these volcanoes closely and will issue additional updates and changes in alert level as warranted.

For images, graphics, and general information on Cascade Range volcanoes:
For seismic information on Oregon and Washington volcanoes:
For information on USGS volcano alert levels and notifications:

Featured image: Current US Forest Service Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam image.


Update on Popocatépetl

Volcanologists at the University of Mexico released a bulletin (Spanish) this morning; here is the Google Translate version. Click the link in the top menu for more information about Popocatépetl as well as updates.

Bulletin UNAM-DGCS-620
University City
11:00 hs. September 29, 2018

Ramón Espinasa Pereña

Ana Lillian Martín del Pozo


• Exhalations and vulcano-tectonic earthquakes have been increasing, because a significant amount of magma is rising, said Ramón Espinasa, from the Cenapred
• The Geophysics Institute placed well seismographs to monitor the activity and predict a major eruption
• Don Goyo has not gone to sleep since December 1994 and the tremor of September 19 of last year, whose epicenter was in a relatively nearby area, affected him, said Ana Lillian Martín del Pozzo, of IGf

The Popocatépetl volcano presents a lot of activity, and is increasing; An example of this is the increase in volcano-tectonic exhalations and earthquakes, the latter of an order of magnitude greater than that seen in the last 24 years.

This data indicates that a significant amount of magma is rising and “within months, a year or the day after tomorrow”, could present an even more important activity than it had, said Ramón Espinasa Pereña, deputy director of Volcanic Risks at the UNAM. the Research Directorate of the National Center for Disaster Prevention (Cenapred).

Continue reading

Meanwhile, in Puebla . . .

See update at bottom of post, or click the Popocatepetl link at the top of this page.

This is a 2011 view of nearby Popocatepetl volcano from downtown Puebla.

Today, people in this Mexican city are watching Popocatepetl with concern (you can follow updates on its activity through the link in the top menu–it has been a bit more restless lately).

Reportedly (Spanish), Puebla State’s Civil Protection director has made a public statement. Per Google Translate of this linked news story:

Although in the last hours and days the Popocatépetl volcano has presented constant explosive activity, with incandescent fragments expelled by the crater, the Civil Protection director of the state of Puebla, Rubén Darío Herrera Cabrera, assures that it is a normal cyclic activity and that there is nothing to worry about.

The incandescent fragments, explained the head of Civil Protection, are pieces of the dome . . .

Even though spectacular fumaroles have been seen in recent days, the largest of which is 2,400 meters above the crater, there is nothing to worry about; “Another point that is constantly monitored is the seismicity and that is totally low, we have very few reports of seismicity, which gives us peace of mind,” said Herrera Cabrera, adding that the volcanic warning light continues in Yellow Phase 2.

This is an image from last night’s explosion as seen from one of CENAPRED’s webcams:


This is a night-time image, but the camera is a very good one and the Moon is quite bright. That’s chunks of incandescent material blown out of the crater, not flowing lava. Popo’s lava is very sticky and forms a dome in its crater that eventually pressurizes and blows up–apparently this is the demise of Dome #78. (CENAPRED)

Again, just click on the link at the top of the page for links to more information about Popocatepetl and updates from me.

Update, September 25, 2018: Popo got into a dramatic mood yesterday; updates are at the Popocatepetl link at the top of this page. Meanwhile, here is an eruption the volcanologists monitoring this volcano captured–it’s just one of several yesterday:

Featured image: Luisalvaz, via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0

Hide From the Wind, Avoid the Water

Update, September 18, 2018: It’s over–the storm, I mean. Now comes the part that doesn’t make headlines, but is so very hard to deal with. If you’re in this situation post Florence, or end up in one like it in the future, take that last sentence to heart: you will make it through this.

Original post:

I lived in West Central Alabama for several years around the turn of the century. As a person from New England/upstate New York, I was clueless about hurricanes and asked neighbors what to do when one came by. They told me to hide from the wind and avoid the water.

It’s good advice, and I wanted to share it as Florence approaches the East Coast. No native or long-standing Carolinian needs such advice, of course, but there are many new people in the places that this hurricane is going to affect who aren’t familiar with such storms.

Your local emergency management experts will give you the best advice, and there is a lot of information coming from the media and reliable online websites like the National Hurricane Center, FEMA, and, but keep that axiom in mind for every situation.

Here are just a few things that I remember from my own experiences and think might be worth sharing.

Hide from the wind

Do you work or live in a high rise? Continue reading

Popocatépetl update

August 30, 2018, update: This uptick in restlessness is too slight for CENAPRED to raise the volcano alert level, but it’s interesting and worth keeping an eye on. I’ve therefore given Don Goyo its own page, which you can access here or via the menu at the top of this page.

And here’s the Webcams de Mexico YouTube livestream–oops; YouTube took it down for some reason.

Featured image: Popocatépetl from Cholula, by Graham C99, CC BY 2.0.

Guest Video: Öræfajökull

Update, October 26, 2018: Volcanologist Erik Klemetti has a good blog post up about this volcano. Should we be worried? A resounding no, he says. At least not right now.

Original post:

Let’s all start practicing this new Icelandic name now, just in case this restless volcano does go off in our lifetimes!

Given Öræfajökull’s size and its history, an eruption could be bad (though you never know what a volcano is going to do until it does it).

There are a lot of gloom-and-doom videos and sites out there, but here are some online information sources I’ve found reliable:

  • Icelandic Met Office
  • The Smithsonian’s GVP page.
  • Various posts by Dr. Erik Klemetti, including this one, and this.
  • Jón Frímann Jónsson–an interesting though not expert lay source whom many of us online volcanophiles relied upon during the lead-in to the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjalljökull.
  • London Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) website. This should be the first place you check, if you want to know if Öræfajökull has really erupted. The link to Toulouse VAAC on this page is also helpful.

Featured image: Satellite image of Öræfajökull, showing cauldron of glacial meltwater in late 2017. Antti Lipponen, CC BY 2.0.

1,939 Years Ago This Week, Vesuvius Erupts

On the left, a contemporary view of Vesuvius in 79 AD, as seen in artwork in a Pompeiian villa. They had no idea it was a volcano.

On the right, Vesuvius after the eruption, as seen from an excavated Pompeii. That bump on the right is all that remains of the former structure. The double-peak cone formed during the 79 AD eruption.

Pliny the Younger to Cornelius Tacitus, soon after the disaster:

Thank you for asking me to send you a description of my uncle’s death so that you can leave an accurate account of it for posterity(1); I know that immortal fame awaits him if his death is recorded by you. It is true that he perished in a catastrophe which destroyed the loveliest regions of the earth, a fate shared by whole cities and their people, and one so memorable that is likely to make his name live for ever: and he himself wrote a number of books of lasting value: but you write for all time and can still do much to perpetuate his memory. The fortunate man, in my opinion, is he to whom the gods have granted the power either to do something which is worth recording or to write what is worth reading, and most fortunate of all is the man who can do both. Such a man was my uncle, as his own books and yours will prove. So you set me a task I would choose for myself, and I am more than willing to start on it.

My uncle was stationed at Misenum, in active command of the fleet.(2) On 24 August, in the early afternoon, my mother drew his attention to a cloud of unusual size and appearance. He had been out in the sun, had taken a cold bath, and lunched while lying down, and was then working at his books. He called for his shoes and climbed up to a place which would give him the best view of the phenomenon. It was not clear at that distance from which mountain the cloud was rising (it was afterwards known to be Vesuvius); its general appearance can be best expressed as Continue reading

Earthquake Swarm on Alaska’s North Slope

OK, the ground up there isn’t jumping so much it knocks down polar bears–this is just a laid-back local resident.

But a magnitude 6.4 quake is unusual on Alaska’s Arctic Ocean coast, and no one really knows what caused the Sunday event.

They call this region the North “Slope,” not the North “Trench,” because it’s not a subduction zone like the Aleutian Islands, where megathrust quakes are possible. There’s a lot of petroleum down there, and at the surface it is a national wildlife refuge. Apparently there is no drilling ongoing at the epicenter site, near an Inuit village called Kaktovic.

The Sunday quake was part of an ongoing swarm. There were a few events in the magnitude-6 range, with the 6.4 being the largest ever recorded up there. The rest are M3 or lower, and it’s still quite active up there along the Arctic Ocean today.

Nothing dire seems imminent, but it is unusual and worth noting. There hasn’t been much in the news, just this Arctic Today article (you’ll have to give them an email address to read it – sorry, but there are no alternative news sources) and this Alaska Earthquake Center post, which links to their continuously updated data pages. They’re really excited about it because they happened to have a dense array of seismometry equipment in place and now have a lot of data about the region’s geology, which isn’t well understood yet.

August 17, 2018: Here’s how last Sunday’s event looked as it travelled through that seismometer array that happens to be set up across Alaska at present.

August 22, 2018: Nothing much new in the news, though reportedly the petroleum people in the region did a flurry of inspections and found no equipment problems after the August 12th quake. The general epicenter area is still having lots of very low-level activity per today’s “latest earthquakes” USGS website (am guessing it’s the regional stress field adjusting to whatever rock formations “broke” down there).

September 18, 2018: An M5.1 in the general region of Kaktovik today. However, per the Alaska Earthquake Center event page, this may be related more to the Brooks Range than to the bigger August event on the North Slope.

Alaska’s geology is very complicated, even far from the Aleutian subduction zone.

Featured image: Alaska Region US Fish & Wildlife Service

Kilauea Update

There has been a slight, but possibly very important, change in the eruption–less lava coming out in the Lower East Rift Zone and a hiatus in summit collapse events–and I’m updating the Kilauea eruption page again. Can’t spend a lot of time on it because of book work, but I’ll try to catch the important stuff. Right now it’s mostly waiting to see the next pronouncement from USGS/HVO.

Click the link at the upper right of this page or use this one.

You’ve seen plenty of video of the lava flowing in the LERZ, so here is a USGS video of a summit collapse event about two months into the eruption. It’s not dramatic to look at–just trees shaking as the seismic waves roll through–but it is every bit as much of a caldera collapse as something CGI’d in a supervolcano movie.

Only it’s in real life, and happening so slowly that we can watch it in relative safety, while carrying on with our lives as usual nearby. And there hasn’t been one of these otherwise daily occurrences since August 2nd; it may never happen again our lifetime. (Then again, it might–you can’t be sure of anything around Pelee!)

Featured image: USGS/Hawaiian Volcano Observatory