USGS Calls for Volcano Early Warning System

Posted on May 11, 2005

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has released the first ever comprehensive and systematic review of the 169 U.S. volcanoes and established a framework for a National Volcano Early Warning System (NVEWS) which calls for a 24-hour seven-day-a-week Volcano Watch Office and enhanced instrumentation and monitoring at targeted volcanoes. The Yellowstone caldera is one of those listed as high risk for an explosion by the USGS according to an Associated Press story on the report:
Yellowstone ranks 21st most dangerous of the 169 volcano centers in the United States, according to the Geological Survey's first-ever comprehensive review of the nation's volcanoes.

Kilauea in Hawaii received the highest overall threat score followed by Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier in Washington, Mount Hood in Oregon and Mount Shasta in California. Kilauea has been erupting since 1983. Mount St. Helens, which erupted catastrophically in 1980, began venting again in 2004.
According to the USGS report, since 1980, 45 eruptions and 15 cases of notable volcanic unrest have occurred at 33 U.S. volcanoes. About half of the most threatening U.S. volcanoes are monitored at a basic level and a few are well monitored with a suite of modern instruments. However, the report cautions, monitoring capabilities at many hazardous volcanoes are sparse or antiquated, and some hazardous volcanoes have no ground-based monitoring whatsoever. This poses a threat to people on the ground and in the air. Flying into an ash cloud can cripple a jet aircraft in flight. Tens of thousands of people fly over U.S. volcanic regions every day.