There are many natural disasters that we, as a nation, have come to accept and prepare for including earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes.
However, the idea of facing an actual volcano eruption is generally left to the movies. In fact, we rarely even hear about volcano eruptions because they are such a rare occurrence in the world, that it isn’t a regular fixture in the mainstream media like tornadoes, tsunamis, and flooding.
It is for this reason that the volcanic eruption in Hawaii has caused such a mass panic. When the Halema’uma’u crater in Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted it threw an ash cloud into the area that was reported to reach up to 10,000 feet in the air, a sight for all in the area to see. Furthermore, residents of Hawaii’s lower Puna area were evacuated, with National Guard helicopters called in to airlift many of the residents as lava crossed a road and headed towards dozens of homes. The lava flow was said to cut off access to at least 40 homes, a terrifying experience for those in the area. Many others waited for word on voluntary evacuations in the event the situation escalated further.
While the rest of the American population watches the news unfold, glued to their television sets and computer screens while feeling as though they are safe – after all, the island of Hawaii is just that, an island, right? Experts, however, are trying to make it known that the Hawaii volcanos aren’t the only ones of concern at this point. In fact, the United States Geological Survey reports that there are a total of 169 potentially active volcanoes currently in the country, with approximately 50, located in 6 different states, currently considered to be ‘high priority’ for the purposes of monitoring.
Are you at risk? Here’s a breakdown of those ‘high priority’ areas:
Obviously, it’s no surprise that Hawaii is one of the states currently being monitored with recent events. The state itself came into existence due to volcanic eruptions and the resulting debris. The Big Island is home to 5 different volcanos, including the largest active volcano on the globe – Mauna Loa, which has erupted a total of 33 times in the last 175 years. The island is also home to Kilauea, the volcano behind the recent events, and Loihi, located approximately 20 miles offshore, but still with the capacity to cause significant damage to the island should it erupt again.
The stretch of the Pacific Coast that runs from Mexico up to Canada is home to a large number of volcanoes, some well-known, and others often overlooked. The best known is likely Mount St. Helens, located approximately 50 miles from Portland, which erupted in 1980 wiping out all wildlife for miles. The area is also home to the Long Valley Caldera, Mount Rainier, Lassen Peak, Mount Hood and Mount Shasta, all of which have shown activity of some form over the last century.
The Rockies and Wyoming
If you have been following the news and the potential risks when it comes to seismic activity and possible natural disasters in the United States, then you should already know about the great deal of activity that has been recorded in the area of Yellowstone National Park and the Yellowstone supervolcano. Experts warn if it were to erupt today, the supervolcano has the ability to bury parts of Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, and the ash may reach as far as St. Louis, Chicago, and Los Angeles! Luckily, they say that there should be advance notice before anything comes of this particular volcano, and scientists are monitoring it meticulously. This is only one of the many volcanic fields that are found throughout this area.
Often overlooked up in the great white north, Alaska is actually home to at least 50 active volcanos since 1760, making it a higher risk area. Not only do the volcanos in Alaska pose a risk to those on the ground, but experts say that the large number of aircraft that fly over the area are also at risk, vulnerable to the ask that can fly thousands of feet in the air during an eruption. Of the volcanos in the area, the one that is seen as the biggest concern is Mount Cleveland, which has been showing both thermal and seismic activity, along with the occasional ash cloud. The Alaska Volcano Observatory has issued a yellow alert for the area.