Banner graphic -- Volcanic ash: what it can do and how to prevent damage


USGS Volcano Hazards Program Site

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Click a category above for effects of ash and how to reduce its impacts

What is Volcanic Ash?
Tiny ash particleVolcanic ash consists of tiny jagged pieces of rock and glass. Ash is hard, abrasive, mildly corrosive, conducts electricity when wet, and does not dissolve in water. Ash is spread over broad areas by wind.
What is it like during an ash fall?
Ash begins falling on the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, Soufriere Hills volcanoFalling ash can turn daylight into complete darkness. Accompanied by rain and lightning, the gritty ash can lead to power outages, prevent communications, and disorient people.
Guidance for homes, businesses, & communities
Ash clean up in Anchorage, Alaska, after eruption of Mount Spurr in 1992Taking action before, during, and after an ash fall can prevent or reduce many of the damaging effects of ash. Removing ash requires disposal sites and coordination among individuals and households, community organizations, and businesses.
References and Web Links
Volcanic ash brochures

Two ash fall hazards pamplets published by the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network (IVHHN) are available on the IVHHN Pamphlets webpage.

Volcanic gases and aerosols

Gas plume, Halemaumau Crater, Kilauea Volcano, HawaiiInformation relating to the health hazards of gases and aerosols typically emitted during volcanic activity are also available from the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network (IVHHN).See introduction to volcanic gases and guidelines based on international urban and industrial pollution studies.

Technical support for this web site is provided by the U.S. Geological Survey and GNS Science

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Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 19 January 2010