Redoubt still likely to blow

Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

At last calculation, the lava dome sitting in the crater of Mount Redoubt had the cubic volume of about 11 Great Pyramids.

The figure was calculated over a week ago by scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory in Anchorage, however, and since then the dome has continued to grow.

While the volcano has become something less than a wonder of the world in terms of excitement, scientists at AVO say the mountain is still active and expect it to return to a more explosive state.

"Generally what happens with this type of eruption is that you have this quiet period, but the pressure builds up and gets to the extent that you have an explosion," said Allison Payne, a geologist with AVO.

Right now the volcano is pumping out magma at a fairly slow and non-explosive rate.

"Pressure appears to be releasing little by little so there's not a large build up and sudden release," Payne said.

Another possibility is that the almost 500 foot dome will collapse and cascade down the steep Drift Valley.

"When you look at the Web cam you can see that the dome is perched on the edge of a cliff. It's possible these rock slides could continue and the dome could collapse and that would lead to large emission of ash," she said.

Any eruption still poses the hazard of causing flash floods and mud flows down the mountainside, Payne said.

She noted that also within the realm of possibilities for Redoubt, is that it could just drift back off into slumber.

If that were to be the case, and the dome still hadn't collapsed, it would likely cool and harden on the summit.

That's not expected at this point though.

"Based on past activity on Redoubt, an explosion is a more likely outcome and it's a matter of time," she said.

The mountain's last explosive eruption was on April 4. Payne said the period of quiet still isn't seen as unusual.

"Though the public is maybe getting impatient, the volcano can take its sweet time," she said.

Dante Petri can be reached at

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