Alaska Volcano on Verge of Venting
Brent Hibbert will replace the air filters in his 18 taxicabs every 50 to 100 miles if the volcano at Alaska's Mount Redoubt erupts and coats his hometown of Kenai with engine-choking ash."It gets into everything," Hibbert said.He and other residents are preparing for what geologists say could be imminent. Steam and tremors emanating from the 10,200-foot Redoubt Volcano, located about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, are more likely than not to result in an eruption.
If that happens, the abrasive ash could blanket the state's most populous area and threaten commercial air traffic in the region, said geologist Tina Neal of the U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Volcano Observatory.
The Redoubt Volcano produces thick, grayish lava that rises in a dome. The ash can spew up to40,000 feet, observatory volcanologist Dave Schneider said.
"This is rock fragments, mineral fragments and glass," Schneider said. "It has the density of rock, not fluffy ash like when you burn wood."For the past few weeks, the gurgling mountain has prompted residents to make a run on dust masks and health officials to warn the old, young and people with respiratory problems to stay indoors if the volcano blows.
George Sides, 52, a sales clerk at Andy's Ace Hardware and Radio Shack in Anchorage, said his store received a new shipment of dust masks after running out this week.Shoppers also were buying safety goggles and emergency radios, said Sides, who was in Anchorage in 1992 when another volcano, Mount Spurr, erupted."It was just dirty," Sides said. "We had to sweep our roof. We had to wear dust masks for days."
Sgt. Robb Quelland of the Soldotna Police Department, said public safety officials are prepared to be extra busy if Mount Redoubt erupts, especially if the wind continues to blow in the direction of his town of 4,000 residents.