Mount Redoubt volcano alert downgraded

Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Mount Redoubt volcano appears to have finally settled down, months after its last major eruptive event.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory on Tuesday downgraded Mount Redoubt's alert code to normal.

Volcano experts at the observatory in Anchorage said the chances of the volcano returning soon to its prior eruptive behavior are unlikely.

It is possible the volcano 106 miles southwest of Anchorage is entering a prolonged period of quiet.

Redoubt began erupting on March 22. In early April, a lava dome formed in the volcano's summit crater and began growing, leading to concerns that it could collapse quickly and result in another large explosion.

Scientists kept a close watch on Mount Redoubt as the dome continued to grow.

Experts now say it will pose a local hazard for some time, but the outward signs of lava dome instability have declined. Depending on wind and cloud conditions, sulfur smells could reach populated areas and steam plumes will be visible on occasion.

According to volcano experts, the lava dome in the summit crater has reached a volume of approximately 91 million cubic yards.

Mount Redoubt had one of its last significant explosions on April 4 when it sent an ash plume more than eight miles into the air and dropped ash on several Kenai Peninsula communities.

The erupting volcano forced the Cook Inlet Pipeline Co. to remove millions of gallons of oil stored at the Drift River Terminal, just 22 miles from the erupting volcano. The volcano's eruptions produced mud flows that reached concrete-reinforced dikes surrounding the terminal but the tanks holding the oil were not damaged.

Hundreds of airline flights also had to be canceled because of ash clouds this spring.

The last time Mount Redoubt had a similar period of activity was in late 1989 to spring 1990. Before that the volcano was active from 1966 to 1968.

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