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Volcano Web Shorts 5 - Volcanic Ash Impacts

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Larry: My name is Larry Mastin, I work for the U.S. Geological Survey for the Volcano Hazards Program. My specialty is understanding and reducing impact from volcanic ash during eruptions.

Volcanic ash is geographically the most widespread hazard of all volcanic hazards. We know from eh ya fiadla youcut the Icelandic volcano that erupted in 2010 as well as the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens and big eruptions like Pinatubo that you can be many thousands of kilometers away from a volcano and you can still have your life disrupted by its eruption.

The greatest hazard from ash to airplanes is when ash is ingested into a jet engine. The ash melting temperature is usually below the normal operating temperature of the engine so the ash melts and it coats on the turbine blades and it can cause the turbines to stop running.

In the United States we have about 170 active volcanoes mostly in Alaska and in the Aleutian Islands and although they’re remote, more than about 300,000 people fly over those volcanoes or near those volcanoes every day.

We have on average about one eruption per year from the Aleutians and from Alaska and at least a few smaller eruptions.

Our objective is to not only keep people safe by avoiding that ash but also to minimize the amount of disruption from those eruptions. So, what we do in our group is we develop and test numerical models that track volcanic ash and forecast where it will go and where it will land during an eruption.

Once we have a forecast from a model we can forward them to our partners at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration where they can be fed into an aviation flight warning system that can be used to either re-route or re-schedule flights to avoid that ash.

I like developing models but I especially like developing results that have some societal value.


Title: Volcano Web Shorts 5 - Volcanic Ash Impacts


Volcanic ash is geographically the most widespread of all volcanic hazards. USGS geologist Larry Mastin describes how volcanic ash can disrupt lives many thousands of miles from an erupting volcano. The development of ash cloud models and ash cloud disruption to air traffic is highlighted.

Location: Vancouver, WA, USA

Date Taken: 5/10/2012

Length: 2:35

Video Producer: Stephen M. Wessells , U.S. Geological Survey

Note: This video has been released into the public domain by the U.S. Geological Survey for use in its entirety. Some videos may contain pieces of copyrighted material. If you wish to use a portion of the video for any purpose, other than for resharing/reposting the video in its entirety, please contact the Video Producer/Videographer listed with this video. Please refer to the USGS Copyright section for how to credit this video.

Additional Video Credits:

A Production of:
USGS Volcano Hazards Program
USGS Office of Communications & Publishing

Produced by
Stephen M. Wessells

Executive Producers
John Ewert
Thomas Murray

Carolyn Driedger

On-Camera Expert
Angie Diefenbach

Richard Lyons

Haydon Lane

Additional Photographs & Video
Dennis Anderson
Linda Kozak
Joe Meehan
USGS Numerous

Post-Production Assistant
Jennifer Weible

Lisa Faust


For more information go to: Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) Site

File Details:

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Tags: AshAir AshAtmosphere AshCloud AshCloudForecast AshTracking Geologist LarryMastin NumericalModel RedoubtVolcano TrackAsh Traffic170USAVolcanoes USGS VolcanicAsh VolcanicHazards Volcanoes eruption volcano


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