Wow, Alaska…she never ceases to amaze me. There are the moose, wolves, bears and other wildlife, brutal winter weather events, aurora borealis, and the tallest mountain in the world by local relief. Another topic of amazement is the crazy geological drama. The spine of Alaska is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a chain of volcanoes where the Pacific plate is subducted under the North American plate. I have experienced numerous earthquakes over 6 on the Richter scale, headed for high ground during tsunami warnings, and witnessed 3 volcanic eruptions so far since I have lived on the Kenai Peninsula. I remember when I moved here, I would listen to the bizarre stories from the locals who lived through ash falls, and now I have a few of my own. When Augustine went off I watched the sky go dark under ash clouds and struggled to wrap panty-hose over the air filter in my old truck, and high-tailed it home through deserted streets. I still have a stash of dust masks from when Redoubt blew a few years ago. When one of the numerous active volcanoes starts to rumble, everyone here pays attention. Now they are talking about Iliamna, a 10,000 foot monster that sits 70 miles to the southwest of Homer.
The best way to keep up to date on all of the volcanoes in Alaska is to check out the Alaska Volcano Observatory website. This branch of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF). is a multi agency facility that monitors all volcanic activity through a network of continuously recording seismometers installed at selected volcanoes.
Iliamna hasn’t erupted in 300 years, so it may be due for a good one. The color code alert was raised to yellow (advisory) on Friday due to swarms of earthquakes. This has happened numerous times in the recent past without an eruption, so nothing may actually come of it, but it is another reminder that when you live in Alaska, you live at the helm of Mother Nature in its most powerful form