Alaska volcano, volcanoes, volcano, redoubt volcano
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A file photo of Mount Sakurajima

Volcanoes Erupt in Japan and Russia

February 03, 2009 01:31 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
The Pacific Ring of Fire has seen volcanic eruptions in Japan and Russia, and an earthquake in Seattle during the past several days.

Busy Ring of Fire

Two volcanoes in Japan and one in eastern Russia erupted on Feb. 2, Bloomberg has reported.

Japan's Mount Sakurajima erupted seven times. No damage or injuries were reported from these or the eruptions at Mount Asama or the Karymsky Volcano in Russia.

Japan is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, with 108 active volcanoes, according to National Geographic. Japan rests on the Ring of Fire, which is "a series of volcanoes and fault lines that roughly circle the Pacific Ocean."

The United States has seen some activity underground recently as well. In Seattle, Wash., a magnitude 4.5 earthquake shook the area, but no damage was reported. Alaska, meanwhile, is paying attention to its Mount Redoubt volcano, which is showing signs of a possible eruption.

Scientific American wrote, "The so-called ring of fire edging the Pacific is known to be highly active. So it's no surprise that said ring is jolting Seattle residents awake and putting denizens of Anchorage on notice of an imminent eruption from the redoubtable Mount Redoubt."

Background: Redoubt reawakens

On Jan. 25, Alaska’s Mount Redoubt volcano began showing signs of activity before easing again several hours later, Fox News reported.

The volcano has not officially erupted, as there is no ash on the snow and no new steam holes have appeared on the volcano, but a crew on an observation flight over the volcano did smell sulfur in the air.

Geologists have been watching the volcano full-time, and say an eruption could occur within days or weeks. The Anchorage Daily News quoted a report from the Alaska Volcano Observatory, which stated that even though later activity wasn’t as busy as Sunday’s, seismicity was “still well above background (levels).”

“We don’t have a crystal ball,” Peter Cervelli, a research geophysicist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory, said in a CNN article. Cervelli added that “we expect based on the past behavior of this volcano that this activity is going to culminate in an eruption.”

Alaska’s Red Cross has posted directions on its Web site to help residents learn what they should do to be ready if and when the eruption happens.

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake was reported by the Cook Inlet before activity was detected at Mount Redoubt, but vulcanologist Dave Schneider said the distance between the volcano and the earthquake meant the two incidents were probably not related.

Mount Redoubt last erupted in 1989 and 1990, coating the Anchorage area with “fairly minor amounts of ash,” according to the Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska, Environmental Services Web site. The city is actually located near several volcanoes that have deposited ash in years past, including Mount St. Augustine and Mount Spurr. If Mount Redoubt erupts again, the amount of ash Anchorage could have to contend with would depend on winds and the size of the eruption.

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Related Topic: Other volcanic eruptions in the United States

Mount St. Helens
On May 18, 1980, a massive volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state killed 57 people and devastated a 200-square mile area. The eruption began when an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale triggered a massive landslide, shearing away the mountain’s north side. Then, exploding with the power of 500 atom bombs, ash shot into the sky and pieces of the mountain blasted sideways, laying waste to everything in their path.

Mount St. Helens was declared officially dormant in 2008, after about three and a half years of minor eruptions. Although scientists are unsure of when Mount St. Helens will resume activity, they know that it will happen eventually. Close monitoring of the volcano appears to have quelled scientists’ fears of a sneak attack.
Hawaiian Crater Erupts, Spews Hazardous Ash
In May 2008, Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii began emitting dangerous ash in addition to the toxic gas it had been releasing for two months. The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) reported that the Halema’uma’u Crater emitted the plume. The 2008 activity marked the first time Halema’uma’u had erupted since 1968, though other parts of Kilauea have been active recently. The Puuoo crater in the east rift has had small eruption activity since 1983.

Reference: Following the Redoubt volcano


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