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Geology

Fall 2009

Puff Volcanic Ash Tracking Model

Alaska map-Mt. Redoubt area

Click on an initial eruption height below to watch a predictive ash dispersion animation based on current atmospheric conditions.

The Puff model is a volcanic ash tracking model developed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. It has been supported by University of Alaska Fairbanks and its Geophysical Institute, the Alaska Volcano Observatory, and the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center. Click here to go directly to the UAF Puff Web site where you can track ash for other Pacific Rim volcanoes including Washington’s Mount St. Helens.

Also on this site you can find ash tracking 3D simulations using … » More …

Fall 2009

Safer skies

When Alaska’s Mount Redoubt volcano rumbled to life this past spring, images of the plume of ash rising from it probably revived terrifying memories among 240 people who survived its last eruption in 1989.

They’d been passengers on KLM flight 867, a Boeing 747 bound for Anchorage. Ten hours after the volcano erupted, the plane flew through an ordinary-looking cloud. Except it wasn’t a cloud. It was ash from the Redoubt eruption.

The plane lost all communications, radar, electronic cockpit displays—and, within the span of one minute, all four engines. It plunged almost 15,000 feet before the crew managed to restart three of the engines. … » More …

Winter 2008

Gateway to Rodinia

A cantaloupe-sized chunk of granite from the other side of the world has revealed that nearly a billion years ago, the Palouse was “ground zero” when a supercontinent called Rodinia broke up.

“This was the edge of the continent,” says Washington State University geologist Jeff Vervoort, looking out over the rolling hills from his office on the 10th floor of Webster Hall.

Vervoort coaxed the story from the small boulder, which was found by his colleague John Goodge of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Vervoort and Goodge had studied many other ancient rocks, and to them the chunk looked like a “one-point-four,” part of a distinctive … » More …

Summer 2002

The Restless Northwest

In The Restless Northwest, former Seattle Times science writer Hill Williams provides a fascinating overview of the geological processes that shaped the Northwest.

An attraction of the region is its varied terrain, from the volcanic Cascade mountain range to the flood-scoured scablands of eastern Washington and the eroded peaks of the northern Rockies. The vast differences, Williams notes, are the results of the collision of the old and the new. The western edge of Idaho was once the edge of ancient North America. As eons passed, a jumble of islands, minicontinents, and sediment piled up against the old continental edge, gradually extending it west to … » More …