Elevated seismic activity continues and we have been detecting small repeating earthquakes over the past several hours.
The volcano has not erupted and is still in a very restless state.
A short, high-intensity burst of volcanic tremor occurred at 8:47 AKST this morning, and since then a series of small repeating earthquakes is ongoing. There is no eruption associated with this earthquake activity. The volcano is just now appearing in the Redoubt HutCam, and no steam plume is visible.
A high intensity burst of volcanic tremor occurred from about 2:44 through 2:50 AST this morning at Redoubt. The tremor episode appears to have ended for now. There was no eruption associated with this tremor.
Mount Redoubt has experienced "high-intensity" volcanic tremors this morning but has not erupted, scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory report.
The first tremor event was recorded from 2:44 through 2:50 a.m., volcanologists said. A second, short burst occurred at 8:47 a.m.
"Since then a series of small, repeating earthquakes is ongoing," the observatory reports.
The 10,197-foot mountain 106 miles southwest of Anchorage has been under close observation for several days due to elevated seismic activity and the release of steam and gases near the summit.
Volcanologists say the mountain could explode with little warning and dust the region with ash.
2009-02-02 13:08:52 Unrest at Redoubt Volcano continues. Seismic activity remains elevated and is well above background levels. A vapor plume is intermittently visible in the AVO web camera. It appears to rise no higher than the volcano's summit. An observation and gas-measurement flight to the volcano is en route now.
The Aviation Color Code remains at ORANGE and the Volcano Alert Level remains at WATCH.
Alaska Volcano Observatory Staff are currently monitoring the volcano 24 hours a day.
There are no reports of damages or injuries and no requests for Federal assistance at this time
Redoubt Volcano is a stratovolcano located within a few hundred miles of more than half of the population of Alaska. The largest impact to infrastructure is the possibility of damage and loss of production capability to natural gas wells and transmission facilities from ashfall.
Geologists monitoring Mount Redoubt for signs of a possible eruption noticed that a hole in the glacier clinging to the north side of the volcano had doubled in size overnight - and now spans the length of two football fields. Scientists with the Alaska Volcano Observatory on Friday flew close to Drift Glacier and spotted vigorous steam emitted from a hole on the mountain. By Saturday, they confirmed the area was a fumarole, an opening in the earth that emits gases and steam that was increasing in size at an alarming rate. They also saw water streaming down the glacier, indicating heat from magma is reaching higher elevations of the mountain.
The signs of heat add to concerns that an eruption is near, which could send an ash cloud about 100 miles northeast toward Anchorage, the state's largest city, or into communities on the Kenai Peninsula, which are even closer to the mountain on the west side of Cook Inlet. It would be the first eruption since 1990.
Particulate released during an eruption have jagged edges and can injure skin, eyes and breathing passages, especially in young children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems.
It can also foul jet engines.
A week ago, the observatory detected a sharp increase in earthquake activity below the volcano and upgraded its alert level to orange, the stage just before full eruption. The warning that an eruption was imminent caused a rush on dust masks and car air filters in Anchorage.
Alaska's volcanoes typically start with an explosion that can shoot ash 50,000 feet high and into the jet stream, but there are warning signs because magma causes small earthquakes as it moves.
A geologist said the observatory has been recording quakes up to magnitude 2.1 but not at the frequency that preceded the last two eruptions in 1989 and 1990
Restlessness at Redoubt Volcano continues. Seismic activity remains elevated and is well above background levels. The volcano has not erupted.
A gas/observation overflight today reported continued changes in the summit glaciers indicative of heating of the summit area. The flight and hut webcam photos show a small vapor plume at the summit.
... inside the operations center, things are heating up.
"This is kind of the nerve center, if you will," says geologist Michelle Coombs, who is at the helm of a bank of video monitors showing readouts from sensors on Mount Redoubt, a volcano about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage.
The sensors measure seismic activity on the volcano's summit. Scientists at the observatory combine that information with data gathered from daily airplane flights to the volcano to measure gases and try to figure out if and when Redoubt is going to blow.
"We're seeing lots of little earthquakes right now," says Coombs. "As that magma rises, it breaks rock as it gets to the surface, and it also it gives off gases, and that leads to the seismic activities were seeing now."
When the magma, or molten rock, makes it to the surface, the volcano will erupt.
A siren goes off, and one of the video monitors goes haywire. Is the mountain erupting?
"That's just a little alarm. There was just a little bit of increased seismic activity," Coombs says reassuringly. "It's a special kind of earthquake particular to volcanoes called a long-period earthquake. It has more to do with fluid and gases than with breaking rock."
Since the monitors first showed increased activity on January 23, the observatory has been staffed 24 hours a day. Scientists here are calling in reinforcements; several geologists from the Lower 48 have been making their way north to help.
Coombs thinks Redoubt will erupt within days or weeks. No one lives near the mountain, which sits on the Cook Inlet and is largely surrounded by glacier ice. That means there is no direct danger from lava flows, but huge clouds of ash could spread throughout Alaska.
February 3, 2009—Volcanic smoke and gas from two new holes eat through snow and ice high on Alaska's Redoubt Volcano on Saturday—one of them (left) about the size of a football field.
"Things are shifting" on, and in, the 10,197-foot (3,108-meter) volcano—considered the ninth most dangerous in the U.S.—said geologist Kristi Wallace of the Alaska Volcano Observatory, who was on a survey flight over the two big fumaroles yesterday
Surrounding ice is melting rapidly, and the gases have now been confirmed to include carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide—adding to evidence that a magma chamber is creeping upward, she said.
What's more, Wallace and colleagues are now convinced new magma from deep in the Earth has entered the system.
As a result, there's now a "greater likelihood" the volcano, which is about 106 miles (170 kilometers) from Anchorage, will explode in days or weeks, she told National Geographic News today.
"It's always possible it could erupt at any time," she added.
According to Varekamp, if the predicted eruption is large enough, it could harm Anchorage and make next year’s winter even harsher.
According to Varekamp, the sulfur that is released after an eruption can stay in the stratosphere for years. After the eruption of Mt. El Chichon in Mexico in 1982, the country witnessed a harsher than average winter in 1983. The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1815 was the largest eruption known by volcanologists and had the most severe climate impact—it snowed the following July in New England.
As a precautionary measure, the people surrounding Mt. Redoubt have evacuated the area. Although scientists can predict when the volcano will erupt, they have so far been unable to predict the size of the eruption.
“How much and how big of an eruption it will be is a whole ‘nother ball game,” Varekamp said.
The consequences of a Mt. Redoubt eruption will not be nearly as large as Mt. Pinatubo, yet volcanic eruptions are always a cause for concern
“Depending on wind direction for the ash, Anchorage could be in the danger zone,” Varekamp said.
Unrest at Redoubt Volcano continues. Seismic activity remains elevated above background. Clear web camera images show no activity at the volcano.
An AVO crew is working near the volcano today. They have installed one new seismic station and are presently working on a second installation.
AVO is monitoring the volcano 24 hours a day.
Clear web camera images from this morning show no activity at the volcano.