During the month of May, residents of Washington State are encouraged to become more familiar with volcano hazards in their communities and learn about steps they can take to reduce potential impacts.
The USGS-Cascades Volcano Observatory, in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Washington Emergency Management Division, and the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management, are participating in programs and events to bring awareness to the state's five main potentially active volcanoes:
May is also the month to commemorate the May 18, 1980, catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens, which not only caused massive destruction and loss of life but also became a catalyst for a new era of unprecedented scientific discovery, technology development and community awareness. Follow USGS Volcanoes Facebook and Twitter to see photographs and news articles and read eye-witness accounts of events as they unfolded 38 years ago.
From 2009 to 2015, researchers systematically monitored hydrothermal behavior at selected Cascade Range volcanoes in order to define baseline hydrothermal and geochemical conditions. Gas and water data were collected regularly at 25 sites on 10 of the highest-risk volcanoes in the Cascade Range. These sites include near-summit fumarole groups and springs/streams that show clear evidence of magmatic influence. The archived monitoring data are housed on a new webpage and are available for researcher to use as a retrospective comparison with other continuous geophysical monitoring data or for context during future episodes of volcanic unrest.
Download the data from Hydrothermal monitoring data from the Cascade Range, northwestern United States and read more in a new publication, Multi-year high-frequency hydrothermal monitoring of selected high-threat Cascade Range volcanoes.
Mount Rainier National Park is a unique classroom, rich in resources for observing geologic change. Join us July 23–27, 2018, for a 5-day educator workshop in the Park, where we will explore the diverse and dynamic processes that have shaped the volcano and share new classroom ideas that will engage middle school students. There is a $20 fee for this workshop and free camping is available to participants. Registration information is at the Mount Rainier Teacher Professional Development webpage.
Scientists at the USGS-Cascades Volcano Observatory developed a MultiGAS analyzer to continuously monitor gas plumes at Mount St. Helens. Take a tour of the crater and the "SNIF" station in this new 7-minute video narrated by USGS-CVO Research Geologist Peter Kelly.
While Mount St. Helens is currently at normal background levels of activity, by continuously monitoring volcanic gases at Mount St. Helens and other volcanoes, scientists hope to pick up on the earliest signs of unrest. The data will be used in combination with other monitoring data such as seismicity and ground deformation to piece together a comprehensive model for what we think is going on at the volcano. The information will be used to issue warnings of impending eruptions and deliver eruption updates to local governments, public officials, the media and the public.
Watch the video Continuous Gas Monitoring Tracks Volcanic Activity at Mount St. Helens or download from the USGS Multimedia Gallery.
The USGS-Cascades Volcano Observatory opens its doors to the public on Saturday, May 12, for a one-day open house. Scientists will be on-hand from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm to share the results of their research and talk about volcano hazards. Hands-on activities and equipment demonstrations will be featured.