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Earth Science

Alaskans Prepare For Volcanic Eruption 293

Posted by kdawson
from the anchorage-is-downwind dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mount Redoubt, or Redoubt Volcano, is an active stratovolcano in the largely volcanic Aleutian Range of Alaska. The once quiet volcano has begun to roar once again. Its last eruption was in 1989 and geologists suggest that the next one is upon us. Alaskans who lived through the earlier eruption are stocking up on breathing masks and goggles. Starting on Friday, January 23 2009, the level of seismic activity increased markedly, and on Sunday AVO raised the Aviation Color Code to ORANGE and the Volcano Alert Level to WATCH. On the basis of all available monitoring data AVO regards that an eruption similar to or smaller than the one that occurred in 1989-90 is the most probable outcome. We expect such an eruption to occur within days to weeks." From the AP article: "Alaska's volcanoes are not like Hawaii's. 'Most of them don't put out the red river of lava,' said the observatory's John Power. Instead, they typically explode and shoot ash 30,000 to 50,000 feet high — more than nine miles — into the jet stream. 'It's a very abrasive kind of rock fragment,' Power said. The particulate has jagged edges and has been used as an industrial abrasive. 'They use this to polish all kinds of metals,' he said." The server for the Alaska Volcano Observatory appears to be overloaded and is unresponsive.
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Alaskans Prepare For Volcanic Eruption

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  • Really? (Score:3, Funny)

    by egcagrac0 (1410377) on Friday January 30, 2009 @09:57AM (#26665509)
    Perpare?
  • Bah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:00AM (#26665533)
    My grandpappy stayed on this mountain, and I'll be damned if I'm going to leave it! I'm staying righ#@$#@%$NO CARRIER
  • Ocol (Score:5, Funny)

    by Talisman (39902) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:01AM (#26665543) Homepage

    Fi Noly Ilnux ahd a psellchecker.

  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:04AM (#26665577) Journal

    The server for the Alaska Volcano Observatory appears to be overloaded and is unresponsive.

    And so you post a direct link to it on the slashdot front page?

    Way to go, kdawson, way to go. You've ensured the Alaska Volcano Observatory site is going to be down even longer.

    Why would you do that? Did that site molest you when you were young or something?

  • by txoof (553270) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:04AM (#26665585) Homepage

    I find this to be pretty exciting. I was just a little kid when St. Helens blew her top. I remember the ash coating our cars in Colorado. I thought it was so cool that it was snowing dirt.

    Then again, I don't live right under the thing and my home, livelihood, health and property aren't currently being threatened by microscopic airborne razor blades.

    Have any slashdot readers been close to an erupting volcano? Especially the subduction zone variety? Can you give us an account of what it's like?

    These ring-o-fire volcanoes usually explode rather than ooze due to the composition of their magma. There's lots of dissolved gasses that like to become undissolved in massive bangs.

    • by indi0144 (1264518) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:21AM (#26665771) Journal
      Have you ever being in an earthquake? those in which you can listen the earth "roaring"? A volcano it's a bit more frightening since earth roars, smells like the Erebus should smell and the sight of a 5 mile high gray cloud makes it apocalyptic.
      • by Dunbal (464142)

        I've been in several earthquakes, the largest being 7.8, and I've never heard the "earth roar". My most recent was earlier this month in Costa Rica [cnn.com], where I live.

                I've heard my house rattling, I've seen things falling off my tables and walls. But the only time I've heard the earth "roar" was while watching Hollywood movies of earthquakes.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Perhaps your hearing is limited in the low frequencies, or you haven't been in enough earthquakes, or you need to be in one away from buildings?

          I have been in countless minor but very local earthquakes and some major ones, and have often noticed a deep rumbling or "roaring" sound before the first bit of obvious shaking arrives. The local ones were the loudest, sometimes consisting of a rumble and then one sharp bang which sounded like something crashed into my house.

        • by Muad'Dave (255648)
          Not exactly a roar, but there was a tiny (M2.9) earthquake whose epicenter was very close (2km) to my house. It was too small to feel, but I distinctly heard it as a sharp "boom" sound that resonated in my basement. I doubt anyone without a basement heard or felt it.
      • Call me crazy, but I think a volcanic plume is beautiful. I love the pattern in the the clouds of the pyroclastic flows.

        And this is a good time for us to observe a volcano fairly close to a major population center, so we can be ready when Yellowstone erupts on 12/21/12 at 11:11 GMT.

      • 9 mile high in this case.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:23AM (#26665783) Homepage Journal

      Then again, I don't live right under the thing and my home, livelihood, health and property aren't currently being threatened by microscopic airborne razor blades.

      Those microscopic airborne razor blades will probably be distributed across much of the US due to the jet stream.

      On the plus side, a dust mask is probably sufficient protection for those without beards.

    • I was sailing near Montserrat [wikipedia.org] during the June '97 eruption. I didn't hear it, but I could definitely smell the sulfur. The skies gradually turned dark over the course of days and remained that way for quite a while. I remember thinking it was pretty cool until I found out how devastating it was to the people living there. 19 lost their lives.

      I've also seen Etna (at NAS Sigonella from 15 miles), St. Helens (recent minor eruptions), and Kilauea (March '08 explosions). I've seen magma from Etna and Kiluea.
  • by gakguk (530867) <gokhan&altinoren,com> on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:06AM (#26665603) Homepage
    > The server for the Alaska Volcano Observatory appears to be overloaded and is unresponsive.

    And we're helping the poor sysadm by linking from /. homepage, right? kdawson, you're da man :)
  • Sarah Palin (Score:5, Funny)

    by arkham6 (24514) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:07AM (#26665617)
    So I guess Sarah Palin is not the only thing from Alaska that emits a lot of gas and hot air.
    • by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:11AM (#26665673) Homepage

      she won't be able to see Russia from her backyard anymore!

      • Goddamn it, beat me to it.

        Well played sir, well played.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      Bad comparison. When a volcano wants your attention, it spits. When Sarah Palin wants something, she swallows.
  • by MasterOfMagic (151058) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:10AM (#26665665) Journal

    Given her foreign policy credentials, are the Republican talking heads going to advance this event as proof of her experience with geology and vulconalogy?

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:11AM (#26665675)

    My prayer to all those concerned is to work hard in order to avoid another "Katrina." Just like Katrina, we know this natural disaster is probably coming, like Katrina, we know its likely to be big and therefore affect many folks.

    So let us prepare and not screw up everything. Events that transpired during and after Katrina were no less than events that would have transpired in a 3rd world country. Now that's shameful and we should avoid it.

    • by wurble (1430179) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:27AM (#26665831)
      It can't be as bad as Katrina. There are currently over 1,000,000 people in the New Orleans metro area. That's AFTER Katrina; the population of new Orleans literally dropped in half since 2000. And Katrina affected a heck of a lot larger area than just the New Orleans metro.

      The entire state of Alaska has around 680,000 people.

      So while this has the potential to be a major disaster, it will never be anything as bad as Katrina in scale and number of people affected.
      • by ari_j (90255) on Friday January 30, 2009 @11:08AM (#26666371)
        Also, Alaskans are, in general, more prepared to go without power, heat, water, transportation, and the like for months at a time. They call it "winter."
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Also, Alaskans are, in general, more prepared to go without power, heat, water, transportation, and the like for months at a time. They call it "winter."

          It's also known as "self-sufficiency", and it works a lot better than "government dependence", which was what was expected by too many people after Hurricane Katrina.

          • by Darby (84953) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:40PM (#26668495)

            It's also known as "self-sufficiency", and it works a lot better than "government dependence", which was what was expected by too many people after Hurricane Katrina.

            LOL,

            that's why Alaska is the queen of the welfare states. How about you start being a little bit self-sufficient and stop taking 2 dollars from me for every dollar you pay in taxes ya god damned welfare leech.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by khallow (566160)
        Three things. First, the metro area of Anchorage is about a third the size of the metro area of New Orleans. So it is comparable in size. Second, most of the metropolitan area of New Orleans wasn't significantly affected by Hurricane Katrina. The real damage was caused by two or three collapsed dikes in downtown New Orleans. If they hadn't failed, then Katrina would have been just another relatively destructive hurricane. In comparison, my impression is that most of the Anchorage metro area is at risk from
        • by element-o.p. (939033) on Friday January 30, 2009 @02:45PM (#26669499) Homepage

          In comparison, my impression is that most of the Anchorage metro area is at risk from a tsunami.

          Negative. I've never seen it actually documented (or else I'd provide a link), but the urban legend (at least) in Anchorage is that Cook Inlet isn't conducive to tsunamis reaching the Anchorage area. Most of the water near Anchorage is pretty shallow, which you can verify for yourself by looking at Cook Inlet, Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm at low tide -- especially this time of year, when the glacial-fed rivers that empty into Knik and Turnagain arms are just barely trickling. Therefore, most of the energy of a tsunami would be dissipated before reaching Anchorage. Also, Anchorage sits on a ~100 foot high bluff. The airport elevation at Merrill Field is ~130 feet above sea level. While there are parts of Anchorage that are lower (the port and some of the area near the Coastal Trail), I suspect it would take a really large wall of water (which I already showed isn't likely) to flood most of Anchorage.

    • by BobMcD (601576) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:29AM (#26665847)

      I have to admit I'm a bit torn by this sentiment. On the one hand, yes, this is shaping up to be rather tragic. On the other, isn't this sort of thing rather avoidable by just not living there?

      To be fair, Katrina (specifically as it pertains to New Orleans) is only about 50/50 on the whole 'just dont live there' thing for me - hurricanes can hit the entire coast, but perhaps you should consider allowing the below-sea-level areas to flood at some point. Or fill it in somehow, or use a system of tubes, or stilts, or whatever engineering marvel amounts to a better idea than 'build a wall and pray'. It isn't like water is some kind of super-intelligent villain. It just sort of flows downhill until it hits the ocean...

      This Alaskan situation, on the other hand, is a volcano. It doesn't move around much. It also erupts in a fairly predicable way, and makes a lot of noise letting you know its about to happen.

      It just reminds me of the security guard on Austin Powers, I guess.

      • by ultranova (717540)

        I have to admit I'm a bit torn by this sentiment. On the one hand, yes, this is shaping up to be rather tragic. On the other, isn't this sort of thing rather avoidable by just not living there?

        No. There are not enough safe areas on Earth to hold all or even the majority of the population, and even those are safe only in relation to some other area. Add the facts that the tighter you pack humans, the easier it is for plagues and such to spread, the more dependent on infrastructure they become, and the more

        • by BobMcD (601576)

          it becomes obvious that "don't live in a dangerous area" is not viable advice

          Perhaps. It could be modified a bit, however, could it not?

          Perhaps "if you live in a dangerous area, be prepared to periodically evacuate and rebuild"?

          Or "live in the least dangerous area possible"?

          I do fundamentally disagree, however, that Alaska has become populated through necessity. There are still vast tracts of land in the lower-48 that are uninhabited. Look also at New Orleans after Katrina. The relief efforts somehow managed to find a place to park trailers that was above the water line. I saw

        • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Friday January 30, 2009 @11:26AM (#26666611)

          No. There are not enough safe areas on Earth to hold all or even the majority of the population

          Sure there are. They're just not generally close enough to the trendy seashores for most people's tastes.

          Today, people are actually packed tightest into the relatively small high risk areas because they have the most attractive geological features and climate.

        • by Fjandr (66656)

          While that is true in general, living below sea level in an area surrounded by a big wall is really, really stupid.

          I'm not actually saying that people should have necessarily moved out of New Orleans before Katrina. No, the really stupid thing was people moving back to the undersea city. The only thing worse is people building houses on unstable hills in California, and there the damage is very limited in the scope of its effects on the population of the area. Massive hurricanes hit populated areas way more

    • by will_die (586523) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:29AM (#26665849) Homepage
      Doubtful that it will be another Katrina for three reasons
      1) the People in he nearby cities are preparing for it. Buying emergencies suppies, food, flashlights,etc.
      2) The mayors in nearby cities are informing the people, have emergency procedures already in place and plan to follow them.
      3) the governor is working with the mayors, has plans aready in place for when emergencies happen, and is prepared to activate emergency personnel as needed.
      • by NinthAgendaDotCom (1401899) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:42AM (#26666033) Homepage

        4) Michael "heck of a job" Brown no longer at FEMA

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Daswolfen (1277224)

          Ok... you know what.. stop beating the horse, because its dead.

          Lay the blame on Ray 'Chocolate Town' Nagin and Governor Blanco. They waited less than 24 hours for a mandatory evacuation. How many city and school buses could have been used to get those out of the affected area if the evacuation would have been called at the proper time 48+ hours before? Instead the sit there and the city floods. The media, already with an intense hatred of Bush, lays blame on him. Reality is, FEMA was there

          "New Orleans's eme

      • The fun thing about disasters is that they come fairly randomly. Cities have been hit as hard as New Orleans was several times during our history, and many more times than that around the world. It's been just long enough in between for people to forget how to handle the things.

    • by argStyopa (232550) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:54AM (#26666209) Journal

      "Just like Katrina, we know this natural disaster is probably coming, like Katrina, we know its likely to be big and therefore affect many folks."

      And just like Katrina, anyone too stupid to look after their own behinds and expect the government to come save them is an idiot who probably is due for a Darwinistic culling.

      Be intelligent. Prepare yourself. Evacuate as YOUR judgement suggests is reasonable, and understand that the consequences for being wrong could be severe, so you might want to err on the side of caution.

      What shamed me as an American during Katrina wasn't the much-publicized "failure" of Bush and co. No, what disgusted me was that in a society with free public education to age 18, widespread information-distribution technology, and AMPLE transportation resources, we have apparently bred a new generation of sheep, er, Americans with no interest in helping their fellow-man, so dependent and with so little motivation that even self-preservation can't get them to lift a finger in their own interest.

      • by Moraelin (679338) on Friday January 30, 2009 @11:12AM (#26666427) Journal

        Sad to break this to you, but humans usually _organize_ for this kind of thing, so it doesn't become a matter of individual people helping individual people. There are a lot of things which just don't scale if done that way.

        E.g.,

        - It's more efficient and a better use of everyone's resources to have a tiny fraction of the population as cops, than to have each person stand guard with a shotgun on their own property 27/7. The former lets you actually, say, go to work and leave that home unattended.

        - It's more efficient to have a few doctors, than have everyone learn to treat their own wounds and illnesses,

        - It's more efficient to have an insurance spread the risk and cost, than have everyone save for the freak case that an airplane falls on their roof, they run their car into a tree, _and_ get a MRSA infection in the resulting fractures

        - It's more efficient to have some consumer laws and organizations, than have everyone spend countless hours and effort running the EULA for every single pencil, second-hand car, and party hat by a lawyer to be sure they haven't sold their firstborn into slavery in clause 255 on page 100 of the small print,

        Etc.

        Just like making shoes for a hundred million people ends up cheaper and more efficient that each of those people each raising their own pig/cow/whatever, personally tanning its hide, and sewing their own shoes.

        People organize so a centralized group can do some things cheaper and more efficient than in an every-man-for-himself world. _That's why we have governments (local, federal, whatever), agencies like the FEMA, etc. That's their job.

        And the fact that you're so quick to dismiss their responsibility and blame it on the victims... well, maybe _that_ idiocy is proof of what's wrong with education.

        • by saider (177166)

          That is all well and good, but what do you do when the police don't show up for work and the hospital is flooded out? When it comes to preparing for disasters, you need more self reliance than under normal circumstances because the authorities will have their hands full with recovery efforts.

          This is why you need to be able to feed yourself, defend yourself, and heal yourself and otherwise manage your own affairs until the situation returns to normal. If you are unprepared to do this, you leave yourself at t

      • by ultranova (717540)

        And just like Katrina, anyone too stupid to look after their own behinds and expect the government to come save them is an idiot who probably is due for a Darwinistic culling.

        One of the reasons the society - whose coordination center the government is - exists in the first place is to assist people in emergencies. It is hardly unreasonable to expect it to do its job.

        What shamed me as an American during Katrina wasn't the much-publicized "failure" of Bush and co. No, what disgusted me was that in a society

  • The server for the Alaska Volcano Observatory [alaska.edu] appears to be overloaded and is unresponsive.

    The server's unresponsive, but damn it we're still going to link to it. If it had any chance at all to recover, we're going to make sure it stays down for the count. What did the machine do to piss off the slashdot editor?

  • ...remind me to call my mom, kiss my wife, and hug my kids. If this volcano blows, people in Alaska are going to have a really bad time. Additionally if the big one under the Rockies goes up (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowstone_caldera), we're ALL going to die.

    And its overdue. And it is moving. Yeah!

    To be fair, no respectable person seems to think it is going to happen any time soon, but it still serves as a gentle reminder of how fragile everything we hold dear truly is...

    • Yellowstone (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:43AM (#26666035)

      The biggest problem with the Yellowstone supervolcano would be the large amounts of ash ejected REALLY high into the atmosphere and across large portions of the US as well due to the high pressure eruption.

      The prudent thing would be to place tactical nuclear warheads in deep wells around the entire perimeter of the magma chamber, and if it begins erupting, to crack the whole top at once. The area around Yellowstone will be destroyed, but the outlet for the pressure will be so large, far less ash is going to be ejected far lower in the atmosphere. We may even be able to avoid a massive drop in global temperatures, and crop failures that would otherwise kill a billion people.

      P.S. Had to post as Anon as I moderated some totally unrelated posts.

      Meuge

    • OBLG: BSG (Score:4, Funny)

      by powerlord (28156) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:54AM (#26666205) Journal

      And its overdue. And it is moving.

      ... and it has a plan.

      • And then you find out, it really doesn't... but you still watch because in some ways, it's still entertaining.

    • by Cowmonaut (989226)

      It'll suck when Yellowstone blows. Pretty much everyone in Montana, Idaho, the western half of Washington and Oregon, North East Nevada, Wyoming, and North West Colorado is dead inside a week just from the dust cloud. Let's not forget to mention the people within the rather large blast zone that will die during the eruption itself. 7 months or so down the way, the world is in volcanic winter and the average temperature drops about 15 degrees Celsius.

      Even better, the overdue earthquake in the Cascadia Sub

      • by BobMcD (601576)

        The likely global war over food or alternative collapse of society help the story I'm writing, but are kind of bleak potential futures we have waiting for us soon.

        That's kind of how I see it playing out for us as well. Without the Midwest as a viable source of food for several decades, North America will probably go to war.

      • It will "suck when Yellowstone blows" in the same way that it will suck if an asteroid a couple of hundred meters in diameter hits Earth. The Lost Creek eruption of ~630K years ago put about a half meter of so of ash over about 2/3rds of what is now the US. Reference and maps here [uwec.edu]

  • by lukej (252598) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:44AM (#26666069)
    If you mean by preparing, drinking some morning tea, and playing with my iPhone.
  • "The server for the Alaska Volcano Observatory appears to be overloaded and is unresponsive. "

    .... Okay. And just in case it wasn't busy enough, HERE'S THE LINK!

    Nice way to empathize, /. submitter.

  • "The server for the Alaska Volcano Observatory appears to be overloaded and is unresponsive."

    And so then you felt the best thing to do was to link to it from /.? This is a public safety resource that probably doesn't need the extra traffic right now.

    • by u38cg (607297)
      Happily, they have done the sensible thing and replaced it with a single static HTML page. The tl;dr version is "Nothing happened yet, might happen later".
  • Unnecesary link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stm2 (141831) <sbassi@genesd[ ]tales.com ['igi' in gap]> on Friday January 30, 2009 @11:04AM (#26666329) Homepage Journal

    This is not Microsoft website in the day of the "slammer", this is a public service in an emergency, I think it would be wise to remove the link.

  • Hrm. If it is possible to collect the particulate and magnetize it, it could be useful for testing future moon equipment.

    -l

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Friday January 30, 2009 @11:18AM (#26666519) Journal
    Volcano God unhappy! Bind and gag Sarah Palin and throw her in, then everything will be OK!
    ..seriously, it's a win-win situation for everyone. ;-)

All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities. -- Dawkins

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