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Volcano hazards— A national threat

February 10, 2006

When the violent energy of a volcano is unleashed, the results are often catastrophic. The risks to life, property, and infrastructure from volcanoes are escalating as more and more people live, work, play, and travel in volcanic regions. Since 1980, 45 eruptions and 15 cases of notable volcanic unrest have occurred at 33 U.S. volcanoes. Lava flows, debris avalanches, and explosive blasts have invaded communities, swept people to their deaths, choked major riverways, destroyed bridges, and devastated huge tracts of forest. Noxious volcanic gas emissions have caused widespread lung problems. Airborne ash clouds have disrupted the health, lives, and businesses of hundreds of thousands of people; caused millions of dollars of aircraft damage; and nearly brought down passenger flights.