For the month of May, residents in the State of Washington will have the opportunity to become more familiar with volcano hazards in their communities and learn about steps they can take to reduce potential impacts. The USGS in cooperation with Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Washington Emergency Management Division, and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network have created a variety of products and programs 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 on Facebook or Twitter to see photographs and news articles and read eye-witness accounts of events as they unfolded 37 years ago.Read the full USGS Press Release to learn more about events.
In April, USGS Alaska Volcano Observatory scientists will deploy two hydrophones near Bogoslof volcano to record eruptive activity, which has been in a state of elevated volcanic unrest since December 21, 2016. The hydrophones will be on loan from the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Newport, Oregon, and are capable of continuous recording for over 18 months. AVO has no ground-based volcano monitoring equipment on Bogoslof volcano. The nearest seismic and infrasound monitoring stations are over 50 km (30 mi) away on nearby islands, so these local recordings will provide valuable information on the shallow submarine activity from Bogoslof.
In early March, a delegation of Japanese officials met with scientists of the USGS-Cascades Volcano Observatory and Volcano Disaster Assistance Program to learn more about the National Incident Management System (NIMS), a FEMA program that can be called upon to respond to disasters in the US. The group discussed the NIMS organizational structure and how it might supplement Japan's current warning and evacuation systems and emergency response measures.
Our mission is to enhance public safety and minimize social and economic disruption from volcanic events. One way we reach this goal is to work with other federal and local government agencies to develop and exercise emergency response plans. These plans define the responsibilities and coordinated actions of various government agencies in dealing with a volcanic event. From time to time, representatives from coordinating organizations get together to test how we will respond to a specific volcanic scenario. This tests our response capabilities and allows agency partners to work together in a crisis-like environment.
In February, the Cascades Volcano Observatory scientists will join federal, state, and local partners in a full-day table top exercise of the Mount St. Helens Spirit Lake Response Plan, to be held at the Cowlitz County Convention Center in Longview, WA. The objective of this exercise is to test federal response protocols at Spirit Lake during ramp-up and failure of the natural blockage that contains Spirit Lake, adjacent to Mount St. Helens. Washington Emergency Management Division, Cowlitz County, and local response agencies will test activation of their Emergency Response Plans and evacuation protocols.More information about:
The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, in cooperation with HAWAII Volcanoes National Park and the University of HAWAII at Hilo will provide a month-long series of programs about the volcanoes on the Island of HAWAII. A schedule of events on the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website includes information about where and when residents and visitors to the Island can participate in programs focused on living in harmony with active Hawaiian volcanoes.
January 3, 2017, also marks the anniversary of KILAUEA Volcano's ongoing East Rift Zone eruption, which began in 1983. During the past 34 years, lava flows have buried over 142 km2 (55 mi2) of public and private land, destroying 215 structures and vast tracts of native forest. This destruction reminds us why it's important to be aware of how Hawaiian volcanoes work.
Scientists from 20 volcano observatories around the globe gathered in Vancouver, Washington, November 15-18, 2016, to share their experiences in monitoring volcanoes and communicating volcanic hazards. This was the third Volcano Observatory Best Practices workshop (VOBP3) convened by the USGS Volcano Hazards Program, Volcano Disaster Assistance Program and Italy's Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia.
The topic of discussion at VOBP3 was volcano hazard assessments—modeling and forecasting volcano hazards, estimating and representing uncertainties, and meeting the needs of decision makers and stakeholders. The shared view is that the next generation of hazard assessments must convey the impacts of volcanic events on people and infrastructure, and include a portfolio of products (from technical to illustrative) to meet the needs of scientists, emergency managers, public officials and people impacted by volcanoes. Participants will work toward developing hazard-assessment guidelines that include practical solutions to mitigate risk and build resiliency in at-risk communities.
There are approximately 1,550 potentially active volcanoes around the world. 2016 marks the 30th year that the Volcano Disaster Assistance program (VDAP) has worked to reduce loss of life and property, limit economic impact and prevent volcanic crises from becoming disasters. The USGS and U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) established VDAP in 1986 in response to the tragic eruption of Nevado del Ruiz Volcano in Colombia, which killed more than 23,000 people from volcanic mudflows. Since then, VDAP scientific teams have deployed in response to 30 major crises, assisted counterparts with hundreds of additional volcanic events, and strengthened response capacity in 12 countries since the program began.
To recognize the milestone, the USGS is highlighting some of the major responses, showing how the program has helped save countless lives. Read the USGS Top Story to learn how VDAP works to support international scientists and agencies at the invitation of a host country.
The world's largest volcanic eruption in the past 100 years is the June 15, 1991, eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. Several bursts of gas-charged magma exploded into umbrella ash clouds, hot flows of gas and ash descended the volcano's flanks and lahars swept down valleys. The collaborative work of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology saved more than 5,000 lives and $250 million in property by forecasting the eruption in time to evacuate local residents and the U.S. Clark Air Base.
As in 1991, the USGS continues to be supported by USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, providing scientific assistance to countries around the world though VDAP, the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program. The program and its partners respond to volcanic unrest, build monitoring infrastructure, assess hazards and vulnerability, and improve understanding of eruptive processes and forecasting to prevent natural hazards, such as volcanic eruptions, from becoming human tragedies. Read more about the Mount Pinatubo 1991 eruption.
In 2016, the US—Colombia Binational Exchange will bring together emergency managers, first responders, planners, and other non–scientific personnel from the two countries who have a role in volcano hazards mitigation. Participants will engage in face–to–face forums to share experience and best practices. Building upon the successes and lessons learned during similar exchanges in 2013 and 2015, small groups will participate in targeted sessions throughout the year, which will culminate in an international exchange this Fall.
While visiting partner countries, scientists and public officials will get a firsthand view of the effects of volcanic hazards, observe mitigation and response strategies used by communities facing similar threats, and devote discussions to cooperative planning within their home communities. To date, these exchanges have led to the development of multiple local initiatives such as creating websites devoted to volcano hazard awareness and preparation, installation of interpretive signage, creating maps of evacuation routes, as well as developing cohesiveness among emergency management staff and cooperative organizations. The program was developed by the USGS–USAID Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) and the USGS Volcano Science Center.
January 2016 is HawaiÊ"i Island's 7th annual "Volcano Awareness Month." With two ongoing eruptions on KÄ"lauea and recent increase in activity at Mauna Loa, awareness is more essential than ever for us to live in harmony with the active volcanoes that are our island home.
The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, in cooperation with HawaiÊ"i Volcanoes National Park and the University of HawaiÊ"i at Hilo will provide a month-long series of programs about Hawaiian volcanoes. Visit the HVO website to learn more about the events and see the latest status, photos, webcam images, and videos.