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Media Advisory: Remobilized 100-Year-Old Volcanic Ash: Is It a Health Hazard?

September 3, 2015
Two community events about monitoring old volcanic ash resuspended by high winds are scheduled next week in the City of Kodiak and in Larsen Bay, Alaska.
Image: Air-quality Monitoring Instruments
Annotated photo of air-quality particulate monitoring instruments, showing temperature and humidity sensors, air-sample inlet tube, wind sensor, power supply, and communication connections.   Public domain

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Two community events about monitoring old volcanic ash resuspended by high winds are scheduled next week in the City of Kodiak and in Larsen Bay, Alaska.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists with the Alaska Volcano Observatory are deploying instruments in two locations on Kodiak Island to monitor air quality during strong northwesterly winds, when old loose volcanic ash erupted over 100 years ago can be picked up and reworked into dust clouds from the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and carried over Shelikof Strait, Kodiak Island and the Gulf of Alaska. These clouds contain volcanic ash shards that are a known hazard to aviation. Scientists are studying other effects of the remobilized ash fallout on the ground and whether there is a public health hazard.

This phenomenon is not the result of volcanic activity and occurs seasonally in the spring and fall during times of high winds and dry snow-free conditions in the Katmai area and other young volcanic areas of Alaska. USGS works closely with the National Weather Service who has the responsibility to issue forecasts and statements of resuspended volcanic ash.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory is a cooperative program of the USGS, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.



(Event #1)Public presentation: "Resuspended Volcanic Dust from the Katmai Region to Kodiak Island"

When:Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, 7:00 p.m. AKDT

Who:Kristi Wallace, USGS/AVO geologist

Where:USFWS Kodiak Refuge Visitor Center, 402 Center Ave, Kodiak, Alaska


(Event #2)

Scientific equipment viewing and Q & A session: Photo opportunity and discussion about instruments to monitor air quality during wind-blown resuspension events in Larsen Bay and Kodiak.


When:Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, 1:00 p.m. AKDT

Who:Kristi Wallace, USGS/AVO geologist

David Harmes, Mayor of Larsen Bay

Where:Larsen Bay Mayor David Harmes' home (please call for address)

Larsen Bay, Alaska

Background Information:

Image: Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, Alaska
View southeast from Overlook Cabin looking over the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. The pyroclastic and ash deposits that fill the valley remain nearly vegetation-free more than 100 years after the 1912 Novarupta-Katmai eruption. Public domain
Image: Annotated Satellite Image of southern Alaska Showing Anchorage and Kodiak Island
This MODIS Aqua 1-km-resolution, true-color satellite image shows a resuspended ash cloud generated from high winds scouring the dry, unvegetated deposits in the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. The cloud stretches across Shelikof Strait to western Kodiak Island. Location: south-central Alaska, from Kodiak to Anchorage Public domain

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