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Ash and Tephra from Lassen Volcanic Center

Volcanic ash travels with the wind, and ashfall can impact areas near to and far from the eruption site.

Ash cloud and fallout from Klyuchevskoy Volcano, Kamchatka, Russia, 2006. (Credit: Manevich, A.. Public domain.)

Basaltic eruptions may build cinder cones as high as a few hundred meters (around 1,000 ft) and blanket many square kilometers with ash a few centimeters to meters thick. However, these eruptions would not typically impact human life if they occurred at Lassen volcanic center, because they are relatively nonviolent.

More devastating ash eruptions occur when dacite magma charged with volcanic gases reaches the surface. In this case, an explosive vertical column of gas and ash may rise several kilometers into the atmosphere. Fallout from the eruption column can blanket areas within a few kilometers of the vent with a thick layer of tephra and high-altitude winds may carry finer ash tens to hundreds of kilometers from the volcano and pose a hazard to aircraft.