Volcano Awareness

With all the seismic and volcanic activity in the world lately, I thought it might be a good idea to spread a little advice and information. You can thank me later…

Did you know May is actually Volcano Awareness Month? As the weather turns warmer each spring, more people head out to volcano-hazard-zones for sport and other recreation. Did you know one to two volcanic eruptions have occurred each century in the U.S. in the past 4,000 years? Since the United States declared independence in 1776, little more than 230-years-ago, seven volcanoes have erupted in the U.S. Northwest alone. May 18th each year marks the anniversary of the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Remember that one?

As a public service to any and all of my readers living within 300 miles of Yellowstone National Park and immediately down wind, we’ll review the dangers of living near an active volcano. Scientists and geologists studying the massive caldera have noted the dome on which Yellowstone sits has been swelling up 3 inches per year for the last several years and is filling with molten rock. That’s three times faster than ever observed since measurements began in 1923. The volcano at Yellowstone has produced massive eruptions 2 million, 1.3 million and 642,000 years ago, all larger than the 1980 eruption of St. Helens.

Now, if I do the math correctly, 2 million minus 1.3 million is 700,000. 1.3 million minus 642,000 is 658,000 which is just under 700,000. And it’s been 642,000 years since the last one. Beginning to see a pattern here? I would have to say the next eruption falls well within the predicted geological timeframe.

Oh and by the way, scientists classify the Yellowstone volcano as a “Super-Volcano” because it covers 925 square miles. The pyroclastic flow would destroy almost everything in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, North and South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Nebraska and southwestern Canada…in other words, most of the Lakota Republic. And there’s evidence the last major “super” eruption plunged the world into a freezing, volcanic winter which lasted a decade. On the bright side, I guess it would take care of global warming for a while. And the super-eruption has the potential to cover the entire United States in three feet of ash from a plume.

WWoW invites you to learn steps that you can take to prepare for the many hazards an active volcano can present.

Volcanic dangers include not only an eruption of a mountain and the associated lava flows, but also ash fall and debris flows. If you’re stupid enough to live or are vacationing near an active volcano, be familiar with the following:

Before a volcanic eruption:

Plan ahead. Have emergency supplies, food and water stored. Make sure these items can withstand sulfuric acid and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Plan an evacuation route away from rivers or streams which may carry mud or debris flows. Vehicles should be able to run without air, so engine intakes don’t clog with 1,400 degree ash. They also need to be able to outrun a pyroclastic flow traveling 430 miles per hour.

Keep a battery-operated radio available at all times so you’ll know exactly when you’ll be vaporized by the superheated mix of pulverized lava.

If there’s an eruption predicted, monitor the radio or television for evacuation information. If you remain in an area where this information is broadcast and do not heed the warnings, you deserve what you get.

After a volcanic eruption:

Don’t approach the eruption area. You can recognize this area by its moonscape-like features and lack of any living creature or vegetation.

Be prepared to stay indoors and avoid downwind areas if ash fall is predicted. This snow-like ash is made of very fine rock and mineral particles. Although not poisonous, it can wreak havoc on lung tissue if you’re allergic to breathing hot gravel.

Evacuate if advised to do so by authorities…those authorities who weren’t smart enough to leave BEFORE the explosion.

Be aware of stream and river channels when evacuating. Those requiring special attention will be the ones clogged with mud, trees and dead animals.

Move toward higher ground if mudflows are approaching. This higher ground does NOT include the mountain which just exploded.

Follow the evacuation signs posted along roads and highways. These would include the ones not blown down by the initial blast wave or melted by lava.

If you have asthma or another respiratory condition, do yourself a favor and spend the next year in New Mexico…unless you have a fear of being abducted by a UFO or Scientologists.

Keep roofs free of ash in excess of 4 inches. If this is actually a problem, you’re definitely way too close.

Wash vegetables from the garden before eating…unless you’re mineral deficient.

In summary, the odds of being affected by a volcanic explosion while vacationing are probably slim. Living near an active volcano…well just remember Pompeii.

Wiggy – Volcanic Vitriol of Virtue

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2 Responses to “Volcano Awareness”

  1. Very interesting information here, Wigs, and most useful. Would you remind us again when the Yellow Stone eruption is imminent? Give me about six months’ notice so I can move to Ghana and be prepared to stay for a while. Thanks!

  2. So you’re saying wearing my hot pants and turning on the fan won’t help? Who knew?

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