Scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory have been closely watching Mt. Redoubt, an active volcano in the largely volcanic Aleutian Range, since the end of January, when geologists recorded a sharp rise in earthquake activity.  In a recent AP release, (March 23)

The Alaska Volcano Observatory said there have been five eruptions since from Sunday (March 22 through Monday, March 23), which spewed ash nine miles into the air, floating down into communities north of Anchorage.  The Observatory also stated that this type of activity could indicate that it is creating a formation called a lava dome.  Volcanologist Peter Cervelli said that such a formation could collapse, causing mudflows and more ash plumes.

Citizens of Alaska are not unfamiliar with these occurrences, and usually have advance warning in order to be prepared for the eruption of a volcano.  Ash fall from the Alaska volcanoes are tiny parts of rock and glass, which can cause severe injury to breathing passageways, eyes, nose, and open wounds.  The ash can also cause damage to equipment and vehicles.

As with any natural occurrence, we encourage persons in the area to be prepared the best way possible, by:

  • Having a first aid kit ready
  • Staying inside as much as possible
  • Wearing face masks
  • Covering face with wet cloths, if masks unavailable
  • Wearing goggles, especially over contact lens
  • Keeping fresh supplies on hand, i.e., water, food
  • Closing windows and vents to chimneys.

Following most eruptions, the possibility of short-term minor discomforts such as nasal and throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, uncomfortable breathing, skin irritations, and painful itchy eyes are typical results, rather than more serious health problems.  However, persons who suffer from respiratory ailments should take extra precautions to be prepared.