Volcanoes

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Volcanoes pose many hazards to their surroundings, from ashfall, mudflows, lava flows, landslides, and associated earthquakes.  At least 54 of the United States' 169 active volcanoes pose major threats to public health and safety and to major industries such as agriculture, aviation, and transportation.

Basics

Ash from Mt. Redoubt, a remote volcano in Alaska, can threaten many aviation routes.Image Credit: U.S. Geological Survey/Photo by R.G. McGinsey

An explosive volcano can devastate its local area with mudflows, lava flows, and avalanches of hot rock and gas. Mudflows from ice-clad volcanoes like Mt. Rainier can travel tens of miles from the volcano. Some volcanic hazards, such as ash fall, can even impact areas hundreds of miles away. While it is not possible to forecast the exact time and place of an eruption, volcano monitoring is important in order to detect changes in a volcano's activity and provide warning of potential eruptions.   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

Latest News

Mount St. Helens
(2018-06-08)
May 20, 2018 On May 17, the Senate unanimously passed the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act (S.346), sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The bill establishes the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System, under the authority of the U.S. Geological Survey (...
Earth
(2017-05-18)
April 6, 2017 The Hazards Caucus Alliance, a network that supports the Congressional Hazards Caucus, hosted a briefing on April 6 about how geologic and hazards mapping and monitoring are used to prepare and protect communities from natural hazards. The Hazards Caucus provides congressional staff...
Paricutín Volcano
(2017-03-06)
February 8, 2017 Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced a bill to establish a National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System (S.346) on February 8. Lava flows, toxic gasses, mudslides, and large ash plumes from volcanoes pose a significant...
#MapOfTheDay! Interactive map of #volcanoes and current volcanic activity alerts from @USGS: http://bit.ly/1Fr07sC
(2016-11-09)
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared an interactive map of volcanoes and current volcanic activity alerts across the United States from the Volcano Hazards Program at the U.S. Geological Survey (@USGS), which you can find at http://bit.ly/1Fr07sC. For over 300...
Paricutín Volcano
(2016-10-11)
September 17, 2016 On September 17, Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources Chairman Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced their National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act (S.2056). On September 22, they discussed the bill...
Mount St. Helens
(2016-07-28)
July 12, 2016 The Hazards Caucus Alliance, a network of organizations that promotes nationwide natural disaster resilience, held a briefing to highlight the role that science plays in protecting communities that are vulnerable to lahars. Introductory remarks from Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) were...
Dynamic Planet glyph
(2014-12-15)
November 19, 2014 On November 19, the House Natural Resources Committee Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee held an oversight hearing on U.S. preparedness for and response to volcanic hazards. The hearing was particularly timely because of the ongoing Kilauea eruption in Hawaii that threatens...

Case Studies & Factsheets

Fig. 1. Although Glacier Peak normally can not be seen from any urban areas, this active volcano periodically erupts in an explosive catastrophic manner that could affect the lower part of the populated Skagit River Valley. Credit: D. Mullineaux, USGS

Defining the Problem Active volcanoes, such as Glacier Peak (Fig. 1), pose a variety of potential hazards. Like Mount Rainier (Fig. 2) and Mount St. Helens, the history of Glacier Peak includes explosive eruptions and lahars. Eruptions, earthquakes, or precipitation can trigger landslides that...

CI_CaseStudy_2017_1_VolcanicLandslides_thumb.JPG

More than just volcanic eruptions Volcanic eruptions are a serious hazard. But at many stratovolcanoes in Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and Alaska, landslides and debris flows can be just as dangerous. Some of these - especially volcanic mudflows (lahars) - are directly triggered by...

Geological Surveys Database Publications

2007, Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys

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1993, Kansas Geological Survey

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2002, Ohio Geological Survey

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1951, Ohio Geological Survey

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1948, Ohio Geological Survey

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2003, Maine Geological Survey

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2009, Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys

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2005, New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Minerals

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2001, New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Minerals

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2007, Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys

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