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AVO is Twenty!
Cool volcano image
Pavlof volcano and eruption plume on evening of August 30, 2007, 21:21 AKDT. View is to the south, out the right side of the PenAir Metro en route to Anchorage from Cold Bay. Plume height approximately 17-18,000 ft.

This April AVO will celebrate twenty years of volcano research and hazard mitigation in the North Pacific.

AVO was founded in 1988 in the wake of the 1986 eruption of Augustine Volcano and only 18 months before the reawakening of Redoubt Volcano in Cook Inlet. Over the next twenty years, eighteen Alaskan volcanoes have erupted including several significant events near main population centers in south-central Alaska. At least seven more volcanoes were restless, producing significant gas plumes, sudden acidic crater lakes and floods, or strong earthquake swarms. To understand this activity and issue timely warnings of potential impacts, AVO staff have been busy expanding monitoring networks, researching volcanic processes, educating students and citizens about volcano hazards, and building relationships with other government agencies and the private sector. Expanded monitoring of volcanoes yields results - USGS Fact Sheet.

Reducing the threat to aviation in the North Pacific

AVO works hard to reduce the risk to aviation posed by volcanic activity in Alaska and in the neighboring volcanically active areas of the Russian Far East. The magnitude of the risk has more than doubled in twenty years. In 1988, about 100 flights per day travelled near or downwind of more than 100 potentially active volcanoes in the North Pacific. In 2008, 250 jets carrying as many as 30,000 people and hundreds of millions of dollars in cargo travel daily through the area. Since the 1989-90 eruption of Redoubt Volcano and a dangerous encounter between a Boeing-747 and an ash cloud, AVO's warnings, in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Weather Service, have helped prevent additional damaging incidents.

Two decades of increased monitoring of Alaska's active volcanoes

Monitored volcanoes mapMap showing monitoring status of Alaska volcanoes (current as of spring 2008). This map is published in: Schaefer, J.R., and Nye, Chris, 2008, The Alaska Volcano Observatory - 20 years of volcano research, monitoring, and eruption response: Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, Alaska GeoSurvey News, NL 2008-001, v. 11, n. 1, p. 1-9, available at http://wwwdggs.dnr.state.ak.us/pubs/pubs?reqtype=citation&ID=16061 .
Since 1988, AVO's real-time seismic monitoring network has grown from four to thirty one volcanoes across Alaska. In addition to seismic networks tracking volcanic earthquakes, AVO now routinely uses web cameras, real-time GPS, satellite imagery, lightning detectors, and other tools to monitor the Aleutian arc and detect eruptions. We now share some of this real-time monitoring data online:

Increasing understanding of eruption histories

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AVO geologists conduct field studies to decipher the histories of Alaskan volcanoes and identify the range of hazards during future eruptions. This information is summarized in hazard assessment reports [available here]. Since 1988, sixteeen preliminary hazard assessments have been published. Most recently, the hazard assessment for Augustine Volcano was used during eruptive activity in 2005-2006 to prepare citizens and officials in the Cook Inlet region for expected impacts.
Read all about it!

To celebrate 20 years of AVO history and share key achievements, AVO's partner agencies have produced several publications:

The Alaska Volcano Observatory - 20 years of volcano research, monitoring, and eruption response
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Schaefer, J.R., and Nye, Chris, 2008, The Alaska Volcano Observatory - 20 years of volcano research, monitoring, and eruption response: Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, Alaska GeoSurvey News, NL 2008-001, v. 11, n. 1, p. 1-9, available at http://wwwdggs.dnr.state.ak.us/pubs/pubs?reqtype=citation&ID=16061 .

20th anniversary of the Alaska Volcano Observatory
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The Alaska Volcano Observatory was founded in 1988 after the eruptions at Cook Inlet's Augustine Volcano in 1986 caused significant disruptions to passenger jet travel to Anchorage and south-central Alaska. In 1986 few tools were available for scientists in Alaska to warn safety officials and the public of the size and location of Augustine's ash clouds that threatened to damage passenger aircraft. Residents of Homer and other coastal cities in south-central Alaska faced significant uncertainty about what would happen next at the volcano and what kind of risks their communities faced from Augustine Volcano.

University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, 2008, 20th anniversary of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: University of Alaska Geophysical Institute pamphlet, 2 p.

URL: www.avo.alaska.edu/avo20/index.php
Page modified: August 13, 2008 09:29
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