Geologists warn us about dangerous volcanoes. Will we spend pennies for warnings?

By Larry Kummer. From the Fabius Maximus website.

Summary: While we obsess about climate change and debate if we live in the Anthropocene, we prepare poorly or not at all for natural forces like volcanoes that can level cities. This is folly we can no longer afford. Experts recommend a simple first step to better protect ourselves. Let’s start listening, or nature will teach us an expensive lesson.

“We don’t even plan for the past.”
Steven Mosher (of Berkeley Earth), a comment posted at Climate Etc.

America has some of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, including two active “supervolcanoes” — Yellowstone (WY) and Long Lake (CA). The odds are low of an eruption soon at Yellowstone. But the USGS paints a worrisome picture of Long Lake.

“Based on the frequency of eruptions along the Mono-Inyo Craters volcanic chain in the past 5,000 years, the probability of an eruption {at Long Lake} occurring in any given year is somewhat less than 1% per year or roughly one chance in a few hundred in any given year.

“This is comparable to the annual chance of a magnitude 8 earthquake (like the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake) along the San Andreas Fault in coastal California or of an eruption from one of the more active Cascade Range volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest, such as Mount Rainier in Washington or Mount Shasta in California.”

But those are just a few of the dangerous volcanoes in America. Some might destroy cities. Some might destroy a state. Although improbable, a supervolcanic eruption at Yellowstone might blanket everything for 500 miles around with 4 inches of ash.

In 2005 the US Geological Survey made a comprehensive study of the threat of volcanoes in the US. They found 57 are of high risk but with inadequate monitoring (systems at some of these might have been upgraded since the study).

 

California is the State most at risk due to its volcanoes near major cities, as shown in this map from the website of the California Volcano Observatory.

The USGS described the risk to America posed by these volcanoes and has a recommendation. We should listen.

“Roughly half of the Nation’s 169 young volcanoes are dangerous because of the manner in which they erupt and the communities within their reach. Currently, many of these volcanoes have insufficient monitoring systems, and others have obsolete equipment.

“The National Volcano Early Warning System (NVEWS) is a proposed national-scale plan to ensure that volcanoes are monitored at levels commensurate to their threats. The goal of the NVEWS is to ensure that the most hazardous volcanoes will be properly monitored well in advance of the onset of activity, making it possible for scientists to improve the timeliness and accuracy of hazard forecasts and for citizens to take proper and timely action to reduce risk.”

In 2006 the USGS proposed this sensible measure to watch some of the most serious threats to America. See the NVEWS Fact Sheet for details. It could provide additional warning allowing preservation of property and life from an eruption. Of course, both Left and Right ignored it. Congress did nothing. Using Obama’s post-crash stimulus funding (ARRA) stimulus of 2009-2011 and other funds, the USGS has upgraded 30% of monitoring networks to NVEWS standards.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has introduced bill S.346 to establish the NVEWS. As she did in 2011 and 2014. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the NVEWS would cost $55 million over the five years 2018-2022. Pocket change in terms of US defense spending.

It is a sign of our government’s dysfunctionality that after ten years Congress still has not funded NVEWS. Let’s hope that third time is a charm for Senator Murkowski’s bill.

So many dangers to America! How can we prepare?

Today we allocate funds to risk management by a carnival-like process. Which measures produce the most benefit to power special interests? Which advance the interest of power ideological groups? Which has the advocates screaming the loudest and least-scientific warnings.

We have limited funds to meet the hundreds of threats, most of which are shockwaves: low probability (in any years) but high impact. The first step is straight from the risk management textbooks (probably too sensible for emotional modern Americans): List and assess the various risks on a common scale of likelihood and impact. For details see The first step to protecting the world from its many dangers.

Second, we need an overall framework to decide how much to spend preventing and preparing for shockwave events. Wild irrational voices tell us to spend whatever it takes (e.g., Nassim Nicholas Taleb)! without first calculating how much that is, an obvious sign of unserious thinking. There are important questions of strategy. Getting these right can mean the difference between effective spending and burning scarce dollars. For example, when should we be precautionary or proactionary when preparing for the future?

Let’s be smart and so deserve world leadership by something other than the number of guns we have.

“My, my, my! Such a lot of guns around town and so few brains.”
— Private Detective Philip Marlowe (Bogart) in the movie The Big Sleep (1946).

If we see the world more clearly, we can act more effectively.

 

For More Information

Look at the information at the California Volcano Observatory and the USGS fact sheet for any major US volcano.

For more information see all posts about shockwaves (high impact, low probability scenarios), and especially these …

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104 thoughts on “Geologists warn us about dangerous volcanoes. Will we spend pennies for warnings?

  1. Was there advanced warning of the Mt St. Helens eruption? My memory wants to say yes. Did many people evacuate to safety? I know some didn’t and perished.

    • Answer is a murky yes: On March 1, 1980, a new system of seismographs at the University of Washington went into operation to monitor earthquake activity in the Cascades. On March 20, it recorded a magnitude-4.2 earthquake deep beneath Mount St. Helens, inaugurating a round-the-clock watch that was to save many lives. From March 25 to March 27, quakes of magnitude 4.0 rocked the mountain as many as three times a day, and smaller quakes occurred several times every hour.
      At 8 a.m. PST on March 27, the U.S. Geological Survey issued an official Hazard Watch for Mount St. Helens; around noon, the first eruption of steam from the summit sent a column of ash and steam 6,000 feet (1,829 meters) into the air. Twin fissures opened on the mountain’s north face.
      A “bulge” developed on the north side of Mount St. Helens as magma pushed up within the peak. Measurements suggested the bulge was growing at a rate of up to 5feet (1.5 meters) per day. By May 17, part of the volcano’s north side had been pushed upward and outward more than 450 feet (135 meters). This image, a view is from the northeast, was taken on April 13, 1980 by Austin Post, USGS.
      A “bulge” developed on the north side of Mount St. Helens as magma pushed up within the peak. Measurements suggested the bulge was growing at a rate of up to 5feet (1.5 meters) per day. By May 17, part of the volcano’s north side had been pushed upward and outward more than 450 feet (135 meters). This image, a view is from the northeast, was taken on April 13, 1980 by Austin Post, USGS.
      Credit: Austin Post, USGS
      Volcanologists set up reflective targets between the fissures and used lasers placed on a mountain ridge six miles away to record changes. On March 31, instruments began to record the rhythmic pulses known as “volcanic tremor.” Such pulses indicated that magma was on the move. In April, the laser equipment began to detect changes to the mountain’s profile; an ominous swelling bulge was forming between the fissures. By late April, the laser measurements showed that the bulge was growing at a rate of about five feet per day.

      ‘This is it!’

      On the morning of May 18, USGS volcanologist David A. Johnston, camped on the ridge with his lasers, radioed in his regular 7 a.m. report. The changes to the bulging mountain were consistent with what had been reported several times daily since the watch began. At 8:32, a magnitude-5.1 earthquake registered on the seismographic equipment. His excited radio message, “This is it!” was followed by a stream of data. It was his last transmission; the ridge he camped on was within the direct blast zone.

      Taken from here: https://www.livescience.com/27553-mount-st-helens-eruption.html

    • Evacuation was in effect, some of the reasons people perished:
      -Curious and didn’t believe they would get hurt.
      -Refused to evacuate, no one was forcibly removed if I recall correctly.
      -Observers in what was believed a safe distance.
      -Mud flow down the Tuttle River.

      There were a lot more people up there that didn’t perish, mostly by sheer luck of being out of the blast zone or just far enough away to manage some type of escape.

      St. Helens changed peoples perception of volcanic eruptions. Up until that point in the modern era eruptions came out the top of volcanoes, not the sides. Eruptions also weren’t as explosive as St. Helens and if they were they went straight up into the stratosphere so did little damage to the surrounding area. Here’s the thing, if the scientist had paid attention to drawings and accounts of the previous eruption (~200 years earlier) they would of known St. Helens had previously blown out the side and not her top.

      • Don’t forget that many people showed up and were refused access, except some qualified geologist/volcanologists.

        If allowed, they would have thronged right around the mountain.

  2. Larry…

    As a geologist, I’m all for monitoring Long Lake, Yellowstone, Valles Caldera and the Raton-Clayton & San Francisco volcanic fields, etc… But, I’m not sure I see how we could prepare for a massive eruption of any of these.

    If and when Yellowstone pops off another Ultra-Plinian eruption, the best we can hope for is that we have the resources to clean up the mess…

    Most people are probably unaware of the fact that Sunset Crater in the San Francisco volcanic near Flagstaff AZ has erupted within the past 1,000 years, that the Raton-Clayton volcanic field in NE New Mexico is very active or that Los Alamos National Laboratory NM sits just north of a still-active mini-Yellowstone (Valles Caldera).

    • Dave,

      “I’m not sure I see how we could prepare for a massive eruption of any of these.”

      Preparations could mitigate the effects of typical volcanic eruptions, preserving lives and property.
      That preparations are inadequate for a once every 600,000 event doesn’t seem relevant. What’s your point?

      My house is elevated two feet. There is a flood control structure across the street.They work just fine for the big floods we get every 20 years or so. Neither will work during an ARkStorm event that floods northern California — but that’s irrelevant.

      “Most people are probably unaware of the fact”

      That’s why the USGS issues the report ranking volcanoes in the US by risk and nearby population.

      • Caldera-forming volcanoes like Long Valley and Yellowstone are the volcanic equivalent of an ARkStorm flood.

        There is a long observational history with volcanoes like Mt. Saint Helen’s, Vesuvius, Aetna, Pelee, etc. It’s possible to predict eruptions with sufficient accuracy to order evacuations. We have no idea how much warning we will have of a major eruption of Yellowstone or Long Valley. No one has witnessed one of these types of eruptions in recorded history. There really aren’t any benchmarks for when to order an evacuation. It’s essential that these volcanoes be closely monitored… But, I don’t think there’s much we can do to prepare for or mitigate the effects of super-eruptions.

        The volcanoes I listed aren’t even monitored… Granted, there’s a low probability of any of them erupting.

      • His point is that every volcano is different, and so what might be a typical eruption for one is not typical for another. It’s fairly easy to get people/property out of the blast zone of a volcano like Mt St Helens. If Yellowstone blows, the world will change overnight no matter how far away from it you and your property might be.

        ……
        “Most people are probably unaware of the fact”

        “That’s why the USGS issues the report ranking volcanoes in the US by risk and nearby population.”
        ……..

        His point is that most people do not READ the USGS report, so they remain unaware of the facts.

      • His point is that every volcano is different, and so what might be a typical eruption for one is not typical for another. It’s fairly easy to get people/property out of the blast zone of a volcano like Mt St Helens. If Yellowstone blows, the world will change overnight no matter how far away from it you and your property might be.

        ……
        “Most people are probably unaware of the fact”

        “That’s why the USGS issues the report ranking volcanoes in the US by risk and nearby population.”
        ……..

        His point is that most people do not READ the USGS report, so they remain unaware of the facts.

      • Yellowstone would give plenty of warning. The caldera forming eruption is just one of four types of volcanic events that happen there and by far the least common; hydrothermal explosion, cinder cones, and rhyolite flows being the other three in order of likelihood. Once geysers start exploding and cinder cones pop up, then it’s time to worry, and even then an impending caldera eruption would not be a given.

    • You’re right that not much can be done. But maybe with some land use planning — e.g. no new residential building permits in areas where lahars (volcanic mudflows) have swept through in the past — some potential problems can be slowly reduced/eliminated.

      And as our understanding of vulcanism improves, perhaps evacuation orders in advance of eruptions will become a realistic possibiity.

      • There’s indication that past eruptions of Mt Rainier have triggered lahars that flow all the way to Puget Sound via Tacoma. There’s a lot of small towns between the Sound and Mt. Rainier that have a bulls eye painted on their backs. Land use planning would basically be telling those towns to go away (including a lot of Tacoma). While I don’t totally disagree with that as a solution it’s not a politically viable solution. People are not going to pack up and leave for a threat that might happen tomorrow or might not happen for another thousand years. Heck, people are willing to build/buy homes in known frequent flood zones betting the house it wont flood while they are there or just ignoring the threat all together.

      • Darrin, No, most towns aren’t going to move. But it is possible to discourage the future building of multiunit housing complexes in places that are especially at risk. And maybe eventually, the folks who live there will move out and allow the land to be used for industrial/commercial purposes. San Diego has managed to keep houses out of its canyons — which flood with some regularity. What’s in the canyons? — rattlesnakes, poison oak, golf courses, their now teamless football stadium, and some businesses that have strategies for working around a flood every few years. (e.g. put the stores on the upslope and the parking lots on the floodplain.)

      • “How do you plan for this?”

        Obviously, there’s not much that can be done other than evacuating. Any feel for the ash depth at the distances shown on the map? A couple of cm are presumably aggravation. A meter or more would be something else entirely. Where do you put it? Unlike snow, it isn’t going to melt. IIRC, volcanic ash is abrasive and doesn’t play well with either IC or turbine type engines.

    • The best you can do, if an eruption becomes imminent, is to inform the people.
      Have plenty of masks for the family, 2 or 3 per day while you are in the affected area.
      Have several air filters for your car if you are trying to drive out after the eruption occurs. (Ash can clog the cars air filter quite rapidly.)
      Stock up on food and water.
      Etc.

      • “how do you plan for this?”

        I got a better way. You spend as much as you want having a good time now, and don’t worry about passing anything down to the future. And every time you think about this topic, just sing to yourself a bit of “All my troubles, Lord, will soon be over.”

    • Spot on David Middleton. I think it is very wise to monitor our restless, erratic globe for all the dangers she can throw at us – and if alarm bells sound, let us home in on the danger looming the best we can. But as for actually spending hard cash on “preparing for” or planning for” disasters we should not be carried away. How much cash should we for example spend preparing for increasing sea levels – if there is absolutely no scientific proof of how fast the levels will rise? Or even if they will rise? The general rule should be to do absolutely nothing – until dispassionate observation tells you to do something. And let us sit down for a while and breathe through our noses before we do any drastic, expensive “precautionary action” in the face of any natural disasters, the scale and size of which we have no clues. If I had chosen to live close to an active volcano I would do nothing except run away fast half an hour before the eruption.

    • Glacier Peak in the north Cascades is capable of a St. Helens style event and it is not well monitored

    • It is truly ironic that our imbecilic politicians are obsessing and spending trillions of dollars every year to “fight global warming”, which is NOT a significant threat, when there are many real threats to humanity that they ignore.

      The global impact of a major volcanic eruption would probably be to food supply, due to immediate global cooling. Mitigation could be to stockpile 5-10 years of grain. I expect the cost would be trivial compared to what is being squandered today on global warming nonsense.

      Recently posted – see point 3 below.

      Regards, Allan

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/08/05/volcanic-northern-winters/comment-page-1/#comment-2573629

      Imbecilic politicians and their advisors are obsessing about global warming, when they should be worried about global cooling, both:

      1. Moderate global cooling that is probably imminent, based on the reduced solar activity of SC24 and projections of another weak SC25. Ironically, the warmists have compromised our energy systems just in time for global cooling.

      2. Longer term, the expectation of another major Ice Age, since we are about 10,000 years into the current interglacial, which is typically followed by ~100,000 years of Ice Age, with continental glaciers advancing over the continents. Dusting the ice sheets with carbon black to change their albedo may actually help avert this catastrophe – no irony there for the demonizers of “carbon”.

      3. The recurrence of another major volcano like Tambora in 1815, or Laki in 1783 that would cause significant global cooling and widespread crop losses. Do we have any huge stores of grain that could feed the growing population of Earth in such a crisis? I do not think so. Maybe we could divert the huge USA corn ethanol crop to food production, but that would not be enough.

      A major global cooling crisis such as items 2 or 3 could fulfil the objectives of the radical greens to depopulate the Earth of most of humanity – one assumes that they have plans in place such that they will survive.

      Regards, Allan

    • No problem enacting a volcano tax I think. Now collecting it … that might be a bit problematic.

      And how about a tsunami tax on the coast North of Cape Mendocino to cover the costs of the Really Big One when the Cascadia Fault adjusts sea levels from Puget Sound to Eureka?

  3. It’s shocking that so many potential volcanic hazards aren’t even monitored…

    https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/index.html

    USGS doesn’t even count the Raton-Clayton volcanic field (RCVF) as a potential hazard.

    The field covers nearly 7500 square miles of northeastern New Mexico and adjoining Colorado and Oklahoma. The distinctive characteristic of the Raton-Clayton field is its great size, young age, continental interior setting, and possible association with one of the few volcanic hot spots in the world. If you start traveling east, you would not encounter volcanic rocks this young again until the mid-Atlantic ridge. The lava compositions are also somewhat unusual. And it is the site of Capulin volcano, the easternmost young and easily accessible volcano in North America.

    The Raton-Clayton volcanic field is best known to historians as the site of some of the best preserved segments of the Santa Fe trail. Famous landmarks on the trail such as Round Mound, Wagon Mound, and Rabbit Ears Mountains are all volcanic centers. The field is of note because it lies at the northeastern end of the “Jemez lineament”, a prominent alignment of volcanic fields extending from the Pinacate field of Mexico, through the Springerville field on the southern margin of the Colorado Plateau in eastern Arizona; the Zuni-Bandera field and the Mount Taylor fields near Grants, western New Mexico; the Jemez field and Cerros del Rio fields near Santa Fe; and terminating in the northeastern corner of New Mexico in the Raton-Clayton field. Because the alignment of fields in the Jemez lineament is parallel to the Snake River-Yellowstone volcanic hot spot track, the Jemez Lineament has been considered by some volcanologists to be a type of volcanic “hot spot”. Hot spots are rare, unlike the very common and explosive type of volcanoes like Mount St. Helens. Only 49 volcanic “hot spots” are recognized by volcanologists in the world. A few other famous volcanic hot spots include the Azores, Reunion Island, Iceland, Hawaii, and parts of East Africa.

    The oldest rocks range from about 9 million years old, and the youngest erupted as little as 45,000 years ago. The earliest lavas of the Raton-Clayton field flowed onto the surface of sediment shed eastward from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

    http://www.nmnaturalhistory.org/volcanoes/raton-clayton-volcanic-field-capulin-volcano

  4. And here I thought that the nature was in “perfect harmony” and that only humans could cause destruction… But looks like “Mother Nature” herself isn’t stranger to violence and mayhem either. Still, I doubt we will be seeing Hollywood movies teaching about the dangers of nature though…

  5. California is the State most at risk due to its volcanoes near major cities California is the State most at risk due to its volcanoes near major cities”

    Except for Clear Lake, California’s population centers are mostly hundreds of kilometers from the volcanic areas. Washington and Oregon OTOH …

    • Don,

      I suggest you read the report.

      To mention the most obvious example, the 160 miles between the San Francisco Bay Area and the Long Lake Caldera would provide too little protection if it popped on a major scale. On a smaller (non-supervolcanic) scale, Mono Lake and Mono-Inyo are both listed as a high priority volcanoes. Each is ~140 miles from Sacramento and ~160 from the SF Bay Area.

      For all of these, some warning could substantially reduce property damage.

      Of the four high priority volcanoes, only Medicine Lake is distant from cities.

      • Larry. You might want to get a map out and check distances from Seattle-Tacoma to Mt Ranier, Bellingham to Mt Baker, and Portland to Mt Hood with the threats you cite. While you have the map out, check the distance from Shasta to anything except Medicine Lake which is pretty much next door.

        Mono Craters? Given the prevailing winds, probably more of a threat to Las Vegas or SLC than the Bay area and Sacramento. And probably not much of a threat to any of those places.really. Might make life in Hawthorne (NV), Mammoth Lakes and Bishop unpleasant for a while.

        Long Valley? Yep. Worst case anyway. You can try to discourage folks from roosting in places where mudflows have ripped through before and very likely will again. But what’s you plan for mitigating the effects of an eruption that might well seriously impact a fifth of the North American continent?

        Likewise Yellowstone.

      • Don,

        Thanks for explaining your objection. I live here, so the difference is obvious to me — but not so to others elsewhere. The USGS survey considers both the volcanoes and the population of the affected area.

        The Portland area has lots of volcanoes, and a population of ~2.4 million.

        The Sacramento and SF Bay Areas have a population of ~11.5 million.

        Re: Yellowstone and Long Lake

        I find it odd — but typically so, given the wreck these comment threads have become — that people seriously believe that the super-low possibility of a supervolcanic eruption means we should not spend a few million per year to prepare America to better withstand likely (over the lifespan of those now alive) commonplace eruption(s).

        What’s there to say in response to that logic? Well, OK dudes. The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.

      • Fabius,
        Don’t pretend you can read people’s minds or determine what they are thinking from just simple responses. There’s so much more to it than just “bad things will happen….why don’t people see it my way?” These threads are expressions that everyone thinks their own thoughts, and worries about different things. It doesn’t make them “a wreck” because your barking dogs don’t bother them.

        FACTS-
        The problem is that we cannot mitigate volcanoes. We can’t control them. We can’t predict exactly WHAT one will do, or WHEN it will erupt even if it’s being monitored. Each eruption is different. These aren’t machines with predictable behaviors.

        Questions for you to think about:
        The ONLY thing humans can control is getting out of the way. But WHICH way? And to WHERE? And for how long???

        How many people do you know that have a UHAUL or a trailer at the ready to pack up “property” in hopes to “mitigate” their losses? How many rental places have enough trailers to cover everyone getting as much of their crap out of the way as possible? And where exactly are all those people “getting out in plenty of time” supposed to GO when there’s no way of knowing where the ash cloud WILL go or which direction the lava will flow or how long the eruption will last? How many have the money to haul their crap or even another place to go to wait it out? How many can take the time off from work “just in case” the volcano “might” blow soon???

        Perfectly reasonable LOGIC:

        IF a volcano is going to erupt slowly….become active/suspicious over a period of time. PLENTY of time to get monitors in place and watch it more closely. (No need for a 24/7 system)

        IF a volcano is going to erupt quickly….become active/suspicious QUICKLY….there’s no time to worry about packing up belongings and mitigating property losses. (Having a system in place wouldn’t change a thing at this point)

  6. With the bazillion hiroshimas worth of energy going into the oceans due to SUVs, volcanoes are the least of our worries.

    • Don K,
      Ash from Yellowstone and Long Valley made it clear out to the Midwest grain belt. So, while the probability of an eruption during our lifetime appears to be low, the consequences for when it happens in the future will be catastrophic for the country, whether major cities are nearby or not.

      Also, the good people of Seattle are probably at more risk from lahars, or volcanic mud flows, than from ash.

  7. If the science is correct, there is arguably more danger to the US from climate change than from volcanoes.

    If the science is correct the US might see more extreme weather events -floods and droughts, hurricanes, severe heatwaves.

    If the science is correct parts of the US are at risk from sea level rise.

    I note that the US Navy, US Army Corps of engineers, CIA and all major Insurance firms are among those who accept the science and think there’s a risk

    (yes, I know there’s some dispute over the level of extreme weather events and whether its increasing)

    [but the science isn’t correct, it’s mostly just hyping for $ -mod]

    • More audacious bogusity from giffiepoo!

      “giffiepoo August 15, 2017 at 7:22 am

      If the science is correct, there is arguably more danger to the US from climate change than from volcanoes.

      If the science is correct the US might see more extreme weather events -floods and droughts, hurricanes, severe heatwaves.

      If the science is correct parts of the US are at risk from sea level rise.

      I note that the US Navy, US Army Corps of engineers, CIA and all major Insurance firms are among those who accept the science and think there’s a risk”

      All specious claims giffiepoo.

      The science does not indicate greater danger to the US from climate change at any level.
      And there is not a dispute regarding the level of extreme weather; only misrepresented and cherry picked data from alarmists.

      The military forces you mention were ordered, by the previous POTUS, to consider climate change as a threat. They are no longer under said order and are reworking their alarmist fallacies back to reality.

      The Insurance industry applies no such concern to “climate change”. Insurance industry statistics do not back up any claims of “climate change” danger. And they are pecuniary businesses eager to capitalize on fear.

      Sea level is not rising, giffiepoo!
      Even NASA agrees: https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/

      What is simply astonishing giffiepoo is your absolute resistance and refusal to learning.
      Willful mendacious ignorance.

      • “If the science is correct”, the Cascadia Fault (which is LONG overdue to shake and bake) is a FAR more dangerous and coming-soon-to-a-planet-near-you prediction. First the Mother of all Quakes killing tens of thousands, then the Tsunamis killing tens of thousands, then, because it’s connected by another series of fault lines to the Cascadia fault… Yellowstone blows.

    • Griff,

      There is an important difference that you overlook. Should alarmists like yourself be right, there is plenty of time to mitigate changes such as rising sea level and temperature. However, should Yellowstone, or any of several calderas throughout the world reactivate, there will probably not be enough time to mitigate the results, short of (at best) evacuating millions of people from the immediate area. However, the ash and temporary global climate change will mean food shortages for far longer than people can go without food. Unless a country is willing and able to burn prodigious quantities of diesel (fossil) fuel to clear the ash off arable land, the world will lose a huge amount of productive agricultural land. So, short of stockpiling a couple years worth of grain and dehydrated food for a country to feed itself, there is little hope to prevent or even mitigate the effects.

      It is interesting that alarmists advocate spending lots of money on low-probability but high impact events, such as a hypothetical tipping point. However, nothing is said about similar natural events. Indeed, you even presume to know that the danger from climate change is greater than from volcanos or even an asteroid impact.

      I would suggest that you spend some time on Wikipedia reading about the impact of past major eruptions before you pronounce your assessment of probabilities.

      • Well, there is a mitigation plan in place for every inch of UK coastline… including some areas of managed retreat and schemes to prevent coastal flooding from high tide/low pressure events like UK 1953 floods.

        But for the most part we need to act right now to mitigate what’s coming.

    • It’s been proving time and again that the science behind global warming scare stories is not correct.
      BTW, Griffie poo, what happened to your previous statements that a record low arctic ice level was coming for this summer?

      • Mods: I’ve noticed that if use the word g*u*a*r*a*n*t*e*e in a post, the post never shows up. It doesn’t go into moderation, it just disappears. This happens every time.

      • ‘but the science isn’t correct, it’s mostly just hyping for $ -mod’

        The Grifter already knows that. HIs constant messaging basically amounts to the same thing.

      • “BTW, Griffie poo, what happened to your previous statements that a record low arctic ice level was coming for this summer?”

        Yes, yes Griff….what happened??

      • The coming extent low point will certainly be in the ‘top three’ lows though it is now a little less likely it will beat 2012.

        all I can say is take a look at what has happened in an extraordinary season in the arctic… cold central arctic temps have not prevented late onset fragmentation and melt, with volume and extent now below 2016 and rivalling 2007’s second place.

    • Look at how Krakatau screwed the weather up for two years-Pinatubo, also ..
      St Helens for a year. think about what would happen if any big Volcano-Yellowstone,(though I think it less likely due mainly to the fact that the Hotspot is heading under the rocky mountain
      batholith.. Taupo, Rabaul, any big Andes Volcano, -or Icelandic volcano..
      not just North America…

    • Here’s a report from 10 scientists who examined the data and found conclusively that:

      “The conclusive findings of this research are that the three GAST data sets are not a valid representation of reality. In fact, the magnitude of their historical data adjustments, that removed their cyclical temperature patterns, are totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data. Thus, it is impossible to conclude from the three published GAST data sets that recent years have been the warmest ever –despite current claims of record setting
      warming.
      Finally, since GAST data set validity is a necessary condition for EPA’s GHG/CO2 Endangerment Finding, it too is invalidated by these research findings.”

      https://thsresearch.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/ef-gast-data-research-report-062717.pdf

    • “Griff August 15, 2017 at 7:22 am

      …all major Insurance firms are among those who accept the science and think there’s a risk…”

      Because the risk is ZERO. However, insurance premiums are very high. That equates to profit for doing nothing.

      • That’s not what insurers think. And these are people that are very hard headed about both risk and paying out on it.

        https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/climate-change/

        “The risks that climate change presents for the insurance and savings sector are twofold:

        Firstly, increased frequency and severity of major weather events mean that climate change has increased the risks and costs of insurance. In the UK, five of the top six wettest years on record have happened since 2000 and rainfall events which would previously have occurred, on average, only once in a century are now likely to happen once every eighty years. Today, two million homes in England are at risk of river or coastal flooding, with an additional 2.4 million homes at risk of surface water flooding. These statistics are emblematic of the wider global insurance industry’s exposure to growing annual weather-related losses, which have increased to $200bn (£133bn) a year, a fourfold increase in 30 years.

        Secondly, the UK insurance sector is responsible for investments of £1.9 trillion, equivalent to 25% of the UK’s net total worth. These are investments for the future, much of it used to provide for people’s retirement. Short-term gains will ultimately prove insignificant if climate change is ignored. As research by the Economist Intelligence Unit shows, when considered from the long-term point of view of a government, a rise in temperature of 6C could, by 2100, result in losses for global assets of $43trn – or 30% of the world’s entire stock of managed assets. As insurers, safeguarding these investments and the future of our customers is paramount and requires a response to the risks of climate change.”

  8. After a trillion dollars worth of research the inevitable answer is “stop drop and roll” , well not word for word but the net results will be the same. Blatantly simple and common sense. but we all will have the stamp of the Government to make it the rule. You think there will be ramifications of San Francisco being evacuated and nothing happens for a hundred years?
    You might get a day’s notice or a month or a year or a thousand years. What makes you think anything other than a funding mine will be found.

  9. The National Volcano Early Warning System

    What next? A National Space Alien Early Warning System? Volcanoes are about the least of our worries. But don’t spend money on them; spend it on all of these distractions. And if we need more money, we’ll just print more!

    • Clarification: “But don’t spend money on t̶h̶e̶m̶ the important things; spend it on all of these distractions.”

    • Annual deaths from road accidents in the US: 40,000
      Annual deaths from volcanoes in the US: a few?
      Annual deaths from Climate Change (TM) in the US: none

      Go figure.

      • We’re already doing just about everything practical, that can be done to limit deaths from road accidents.

      • Comparing causes of death can be an interesting exercise. Car accidents: 35,000 (in 2015 http://tinyurl.com/os3h87j ), Homicides (all methods) 15,000 (2014 http://tinyurl.com/z96xxnv ) Medical misadventures: 250,000 (2016 report http://tinyurl.com/kdzn5kc ).

        The average population is some 16 times more likely to die of medical misadventure than homicide. I expect that the readership here does not habituate places with a high homicide rate. So, for you gentle reader, you are probably 30 times more likely to die from Obamacare than from a Gang Banger with a gun. The next time you go t the hospital, be afraid. Very afraid.

        Earthquakes and volcanoes? Not so much.

  10. Some say we are in for more active volcanic activity with low solar output.

    Hasn’t there also been events in greenland lately? coming up through the ice sheet?

  11. I suggest a new marketing meme to help raise grant money to study volcanoes. We’ll call it CAVE (Catastphic Anthropgenic Volcanic Eruptions). It’s kinda like CAGW but it sounds better and we can really hype up the chiken little aspect since many of the volcanoes are located near left wing population centers. :)

    (Fort he literal minded or humor impaired… /sarc)

  12. anyone else getting redirected to another link after connecting to WUWT< it is happening me, but only with this site.

  13. The Federal government has wasted enough money on California. I am opposed to spending more money on them until they start acting like normal sensible people. Like not boycotting other states for being insufficiently transgendered.

  14. Larry,
    Google Earth does not list a “Long Lake” in California. There is a Lake Crowley inside the Long Valley Caldera, and there is a Convict Lake on the edge. So, I’d say that it is definitely a ‘long shot’ that you have the name right.

  15. Ho hum!

    More alarmism without purpose or mitigation.

    The past week of earthquakes (up to May 8, 2015) reveals tremendous seismic pressure building in the Southwest / West coast of the United States.

    past 7 days of 2.5m and greater earthquakes may 8 2015

    Above: Past 7 days of earthquakes 2.5M+ in the United States, up to May 8, 2015 115am CDT”

    On top of all the other dormant volcanic activity happening globally, such as ancient volcanoes waking up in Japan after 800 years of silence, and unexpected eruptions in Chile — we now are seeing movement begin around MULTIPLE dormant volcanoes along the West coast of the United States.

    This comes on top of the news of a fresh underwater eruption occurring off the West coast of Oregon.

    Most recently, now we see earthquake movement directly at Mono Lake Supervolcano, which is located in Central Eastern California, along the Nevada border.”

    Old news from 2015.

    Now, just what are humans supposed to do?

    Parícutin: The Birth of a Volcano

    Parícutin erupting at night, 1948Parícutin erupting at night, 1948. Photo by Carl Fries, US Geological Survey; image courtesy of National Museum of Natural History.

    On February 20, 1943, out of a cornfield owned by a Tarascan farmer named Dionisio Pulido, a great volcano began to emerge. For weeks the inhabitants of this village near Uruapan, about 200 miles west of Mexico City, had been experiencing tremors and deep rumblings from the earth.

    Pulido, his wife and child, and a farmhand were all working in the field nearby when the earth rose up some two meters (more than six feet), emitting ash and strong sulfurous vapors amidst loud hissing and explosions. By midnight a cone had developed and the eruption had begun in earnest.”

    “Parícutin erupting at night, 1948. Photo by Carl Fries, US Geological Survey; image courtesy of National Museum of Natural History”

    One moment a corn field; the next day a volcano.

    Right now, human understanding of volcanism is less than our understanding of the atmosphere. Without any praise for our atmospheric knowledge.

    Tell us Fabius, just what can humans do?

    Every past and present orogenic site has volcanoes or remnants of volcanoes.
    Rift areas are prone to volcanism.
    Mantle Hot spots exist in obscure places each erupting on their own schedules.

    People living hundreds of miles in a wide downwind pattern from a volcanic source are endangered. Leaving few spots worldwide as possibly “safe”.

    Just more irrational fear transference.

    • ATheoK ,

      “Tell us Fabius, just what can humans do?”

      Even a few hours warning can substantially reduce the damage to lives and property. Much depends on the scale and location of the volcano, with each situation unique.

      * Evacuation or shelter for people who are close by.
      * Over a larger area, securing vulnerable property and facilities from ash where possible (including livestock).
      * Re-routing air traffic, preparation for highway and railroad maintenance.
      * Alerts and preparation to emergency response teams, from first responders to FEMA.
      etc, etc.

      Now for a question to you: isn’t all of that obvious? Did you really need me to give you that list?

      • “Editor of the Fabius Maximus website August 15, 2017 at 3:16 pm
        Even a few hours warning can substantially reduce the damage to lives and property. Much depends on the scale and location of the volcano, with each situation unique.

        * Evacuation or shelter for people who are close by.
        * Over a larger area, securing vulnerable property and facilities from ash where possible (including livestock).
        * Re-routing air traffic, preparation for highway and railroad maintenance.
        * Alerts and preparation to emergency response teams, from first responders to FEMA.
        etc, etc.

        Now for a question to you: isn’t all of that obvious? Did you really need me to give you that list?”

        Which volcano would that be for Fabius?

        Or do you intend that America should hire thousands of volcanologists and install tens of thousands of sensors?

        Good grief! We don’t have a reasonable realistic weather station grid; and the weather is far more dangerous to more people on an hourly-daily-weekly-monthly basis.

        Meanwhile, you peddle falsehoods.
        Volcanologists can guess that a volcano is somewhat more active. Anyone tells you that they “know” a volcano is going to erupt is yanking your leg.
        Outside of issuing alerts that earthquake swarm indicates a magma chamber is possibly filling, volcanologists are generally just as surprised when an quiescent volcanos’ erupt. That earthquake swarm can also be cracks caused by pressure as magma moves towards the surface.

        Where does your “few hours warning” then come from? Precautionary tales?

        America already operates a volcano observation program for the most dangerous volcanoes.

        Current Alerts for U.S. Volcanoes
        Information about active volcanoes in the United States is derived from the Recent Volcano Observatory Activity Reports generated by the USGS Volcano Hazards Program. NHSS retrieves this information every 12 hours and uses it to refresh the features in the U.S. Volcanoes layer.
        Attribution: Volcano Hazards ”

        A few hours warning?
        Well, they’re happy to send you emails or you can subscribe to an RSS stream:
        “Volcano Notifications Deliver Situational Information”.
        Good luck with that “few hours warning” thing.

        The American Northwest is already operating under a bizarre “volcano emergency” set of preparations and procedures. Most of them useless in the face of a eruption, pyroclastic flow or lahar racing downhill.

        If a volcano erupts, air traffic is already immediately warned or rerouted.

        Alerts and preparation? Everyone should start walking uphill?
        Should students get under their desks? Or will the fire drill approach, where students are hustled outdoors to stand and stare at the school work?

        America’s most dangerous volcanoes are already under observation.
        All of those volcanic impacted areas are ignored unless earthquakes start getting frequent.

        As so many cultures have discovered, volcanic impacts to land quickly mineralize and degrade, improving the land’s fertility and drainage; benefiting crops.
        Which is why people live on the slopes of many dangerous volcanoes. Suffering an eruption every few hundred years becomes tolerable when civilization benefits so much between times.

        Fix the weather sensor network before chasing other ambulances.

  16. Long Lake is north of Lake Tahoe and at the southern end of the Cascade Range.

    The Long Valley Caldera is south of Lake Tahoe and in the Sierra Nevada range. They are different areas.

  17. Having lived most of my life in New Zealand I have very early memories of the central volcanic mountains erupting in the late 1940s as we lived high on a mountain many miles from them .I think that you need very good monitoring as we have in New Zealand for early warnings.
    Lake Taupo in the central North Island near the volcanic cones was the last SUPER volcano to erupt in the world 27000 years ago. It last erupted again 1800 years ago and the ash cloud traveled around the world .Auckland our largest city sits astride a dormant volcanic field that last erupted about 700 years ago .No one seems very concerned yet if you want to build a house close to the sea you have to build it meters above the high tide mark in areas that have never flooded and never will at the present sea level rise for at least 500 years .The authorities call it storm surge and yet they keep cramming the population into Auckland without a care .We have had some large earthquakes in the South Island in the last 10 years and Wellington sits across a very active earthquake fault line but that does not seem to worry many people untill it happens .Yet we have so many politicians and activists banging on about climate change and that we have to take action NOW to counter some perceived threat away in the future .

    • We flew into Auckland back in 1986. On the drive in I noticed the perfect semi-circle bay on which the city sits. Beautiful. Then I saw the perfect little Mt. Fuji cone out in the bay, with hardly an erosional rivulet on it. I then realized we were driving into a massive caldera that had blown its stack not too many thousands of years ago, and could still push up a small dome/volcanic edifice not many hundreds of years ago. As a geologist, I wanted to get my family out of there soonest. 40,000 died in Martinique (home of Pelee, namesake of explosive volcanoes). How many at Herculaneum/Pompeii, first recorded disaster of this sort? If the glacier on Mt. Rainier were to melt catastrophically in a new volcanic surge, the laharic/flood disaster and number of deaths would set uncharted numbers. These things are not trivial. It pays to make plans where the dangerous volcanoes occur. Pay for it by firing all the useless “climate scientists” who have nothing but their worthless models to boast of from the massive amounts spent on “climate science”.

    • “gwan August 15, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      I think that you need very good monitoring as we have in New Zealand for early warnings.”

      You certainly do. When I lived in NZ, from 1995 – 2005, I worked for a company that managed Department of Conservation systems. One of them was a Mt Ruapehu crater lake/lehar monitoring system. It was running Windows NT4 and needed someone to regularly to go up the mountain to the hut which it was installed in and reboot. I hope if there is any system up there now it’s better than what was there.

  18. California has a wide swath of the coastal range made up of asbestos. Asbestos mountains to protect Monterey from Bridgeport volcanoes.

    They don’t need no Mercowski money.

    Those poor geologists. Everyone takes them for granite.

  19. One of the mountains in the Long Valley caldera erupted in 1351 – and they know this by counting the tree rings direct of tree stems which had their roots boiled in the event. Not carbon dated. Not guess work with fudge factors and the like. Empirical.

    The reason why it’s interesting is because this eruption happened directly in the middle of the medieval warm period Michael Mann tried to say never happened in California, and these trees frozen in time by cataclysmic event were growing above the modern tree line.

  20. Whatever the event a person or family should have food, water, and other resources to get through at least 2 weeks – Power outage, ice storm, flood, bridges out from earthquakes.

    See this: https://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/f%26web.pdf

    Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an emergency. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts (half gallon) of water each day.**

    You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Store at least one gallon per person, per day. Consider storing at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family.

    And lots more.
    Even if the tax payers support much more aggressive monitoring of volcanoes or whatever, that will do you no good if you are out of water in 24 hours.

    ** about one 2 Liter size soda bottle, thus store ~14 of these for each person – just to drink (or 1 five gallon container).

    Yellowstone blowing – store ½ year’s worth of stuff

    • I love how “media” laughs at and ridicules preppers, then they screech&wail that government must “do something!” any time some disaster occurs because people don’t have water or food.

      Most people living in cities don’t have sufficient space to store enough water for more than a couple of weeks, tops. They should concentrate on cases of bottled water and have plenty of baby wipes for hygiene. Oh, and toilet paper and a portable toilet of some type, with plenty of bags.

      • What I find amusing is that politicians spend a lot of time belittling “preppers” while they spend money running PSA’s about the need for everybody to be prepared.

        The latest theories on Yellowstone seem to be running in the direction that the caldera may no longer be capable of generating another super-eruption. Past caldera’s along the track seem to blow 2-3 times before the track moves on. In any event it would need a long period of major influxes of fresh magma before it can do anything.

        As to the Cascadia fault it is not yet overdue. It last ruptured 317 years ago. That’s on the low end of the range for another rupture.

        For a look a what can be done to prepare for volcano’s, look to Orting Washington. Located between 2 rivers that head on the Rainier glaciers, they have built a large ramp from their school complex to nearby high ground and practice regular evacuation drills. Combined with a new lahar detection system, they should be able to get most people out of the way should a lahar occur.
        In Rabaul, long training for an evacuation saved all but 2 people when not 1 but 2 eruptions suddenly occurred.

        If you have a potential killer nearby, preparation can save a lot of lives. And early warnings can help a lot.

      • Cascadia ruptures every 300-500 years…sometimes 300, sometimes more. It could go anytime, it’s not like an “average ” thing. And all of the volcanos mentioned here are part of the Cascadia Volcanic Arc.

        Preparation can save LIVES. Larry keeps talking about saving personal property. That’s just unlikely.

      • Ultimately it falls to people who live in close proximity to such natural threats to protect and provide for themselves. No matter what government, at any level, does it takes time to actually happen. Seismic warning systems are certainly needed for areas with high probability of earthquakes and volcanic events, problem comes from such systems repeatedly sounding for no apparent reason. People begin to ignore them, just as tornado alarms are often ignored. Getting people to take these things seriously is a major hurdle.

  21. Geologists and volcanologists have actually served us pretty well and increasingly are finding innovative ways to give warning of dangerous eruptions – I have a lot more confidence about their grasp of science than any climate scientist’s hold on reality.
    I knew of course about the western USA being part of the Pacific ring of fire but the fuller details about the number of potential big bangs you are all sitting on is impressive. If it was up to me you could all come over to the U.K. (And Europe?) if things turn nasty at Yellowstone.
    I love the comment about moving Mt St Helens somewhere a bit safer next time, that should be easier than controlling the climate I suspect.

  22. I was looking at all the comments about risks and had the thought that volcanoes, earthquakes and even griffiepoo’s climate change are not as dangerous as all the clowns sharing the road with us that text and surf the internet or check their facebook as they drive.

  23. Very interesting post and discussion. I tried to join in, but my post was removed by the censor without explanation, as usual. Pretty sad. Makes me nostalgic about usenet and its alt groups, with all their warts.

  24. Correction! My complaint was misdirected. I had unwittingly posted to the Fabius Maximus site cited in the original post above. And my post didn’t make the cut of the 13 posts retained. My sincere apologies to the moderator(s) of Wattsupwiththat.com.

    I attach my post below for those anyone interested, after some slight editing:

    otropogo
    16 August 2017 at 1:02 pm

    my OFF the CUFF priority list and first steps [for catastrophic civil preparations]:

    1. Carrington II CME

    2. nuclear EMP attack

    3. fast spreading infectious epidemic

    4. major volcanic eruptions

    5. major tsunamis

    6. widespread food or water supply toxification or distribution failure

    7. widespread toxic fallout

    First steps:

    a) creation and installation of air raid type sirens designed to function for extended periods even when the grid is down

    b) creation and distribution of threat- and locality-specific household information packages describing what to do if you hear the sirens, but get no radio, tv, or telephone reception

    c) distribution of thyroid-blocker packages to all households close to potential fallout sources, and to regional distribution points for other households. Supply of simple radiation alarms with instructions to all neighbourhoods.

    d) adaptation of the weather alert system in the US, Canada, and Mexico to carry warning of all potentially catastrophic events.

    e) design and production of truly smart alert receivers so the kinds and levels of alarms can be filtered by the receiver. If they can be reliably shielded against EMP, so much the better.

    f) start serious research on shielding industrial and consumer electronics against solar or nuclear EMP, or better, secure the publication of the military’s research of the last 30 years on this subject. After all, if we lose communications capability globally, or possibly even just on this continent, the whole house of cards starts to collapse. Without food and fuel transport, urbanites will start to starve and freeze in the dark within days. The military will be called out to stop a disastrous exodus, and it will be a death spiral.

    I’d gladly pay a thousand dollars a year to see all of the above steps implemented, assuming the government and the “health care” system hasn’t bankrupted me by then (yea, “health care”, and I’m Canadian).

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