I am visiting in Ontario but my home is Haida Gwaii an island 100 km off the west coast of Canada and tucked under the Alaska panhandle. My passion is geography and geology so the eruption of Mt. Redoubt in southcentral Alaska last week peaked my interest. Haida Gwaii has an ancient history of volcanic activity and it is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Although we have no active volcanoes we have our share of earth quakes, the largest being 8.1 on the Ritcher scale in 1949.
Southcentral Alaska, Anchorage is at the head of Cook Inlet (AVO)
Like some people are storm chasers, I am an armchair volcano visitor! How they are created and their spectacular nature absolutely fascinate me. When Mt. St. Helen's blew the internet as we know it was in it's infancy so we were dependant on television coverage. Now everything you ever wanted to know is on the internet.
The crater of Mt. Redout pre-eruption, March 21, 2009 (AVO)
Having said this I take no credit for these wonderful photographs of the eruption of Mt. Redoubt. There is a wonderful website that has so much great information and photographs that I will just give you the website so you can investigate it for yourself. All photos and information are free to use as long as credit is given.
Alaska has more 130 volcanoes and volcanic fields with 50 of these volcanoes being active within recent time(1760). Although the direct threat to the human population of an eruption of these volcanoes is minimal volcanoes like Mt. Redoubt create millions of dollars in lost revenue to airlines who use the circumpolar route to Europe. Eighty thousand flights per year and 30,000 passengers a day traverse this potentially dangerous air space.
In 1989 a Boeing 747 with 241 passengers on board and flying 240 miles north of Mt. Redoubt encountered an ash cloud from a recent eruption. The aircraft lost all four engines and plumetted 3000 metres (9810 feet) before the pilots could restart the engines and land safely. The 747 sustained $80 million damage.
The ash fallout can be harmful to human health causing closures of schools and businesses to reduce exposure to the ash. The ash eruptions also closed Anchorage airport, disrupting air traffic as far away as Texas. Lahars and lahar run-out flows have also been a source of concern for oil companies who have facilities on the coast as these flows risk damaging oil storage tanks.
For more information on the volcanoes of Alaska go to the Alaska Volcano Observatory.
To find out about more interesting places around the world go to