Tuesday, October 24, 2017 GSA Luncheon

 Topic: "Forecasting and Detection During the 2017 Eruption of Alaska's Bogoslof Volcano"

Noon Luncheon 11:30-1:00 pm

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On December 20, 2016, the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) received a pilot report of an eruption “out of the ocean” north of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, the largest community in the Aleutian Island chain. Based on this description, AVO staff quickly recognized Bogoslof Volcano had come to life once again. Over the past nine months, this tiny island volcano has erupted explosively over 60 times, changed shape dramatically, including formation and destruction of new lava domes, and sent volcanic clouds into busy
North Pacific airspace. These explosions have also caused trace ashfall on neighboring Alaskan communities.

This eruptive sequence has required scientists at AVO to adapt to a situation made challenging by a complex, shallow submarine source distant from the nearest monitoring stations. AVO uses an interdisciplinary combination of seismic, infrasound (air wave), satellite, and lightning data, along with newly-developed alarms, to detect, and when possible forecast, eruptions at Bogoslof. The exceptionally high pace of explosive activity, especially at the beginning of the eruptive sequence, has highlighted the close partnership between AVO and the National Weather Service (NWS) for issuing timely and accurate forecasts of volcanic activity, ash-cloud movement, and ashfall on local communities. This talk presents an overview of Bogoslof's eruptive history, describe


Dr. Michelle Coombs, USGS Alaska Volcano Observatory

As a Research Geologist with the USGS since 2001, Michelle's work has sought to understand myriad aspects of volcano behavior, including subsurface magma movement, eruption dynamics, mass movements from unstable volcanic slopes, and the frequency and magnitude of prehistoric eruptions. After receiving her B.A. from Williams College in in 1994, Michelle did her graduate work at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where she studied the causes behind the 1953-1968 eruptions of Southwest Trident Volcano in Katmai National Park, Alaska. After receiving her Ph.D. in 2001, she began a postdoctoral position with the USGS in Menlo Park, California. There, she investigated landslide hazards and evolution of Hawaiian volcanoes until 2004, when she returned to Alaska to join the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), a cooperative program of the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys. As a research geologist at AVO, Michelle participated in the responses to the 2006 and 2009 eruptions of Augustine and Redoubt in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. She has also studied volcanoes along the expanse of Alaska’s Aleutian arc, from Semisopochnoi and other western islands, to Hayes Volcano in the easternmost arc, near Anchorage. In March 2016, Michelle became Scientist-in-Charge of AVO. In this role she guides eruption responses, volcano monitoring and research, and works with partner agencies to make sure information about Alaska’s volcanic activity is communicated effectively to the public.

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