Volcano Could Prove Deadly For Major US City

(ConservativeInsider.org) – Geologists are warning that a potential volcanic eruption in the tallest mountain in Washington State, Mount Rainier, could endanger lives in several major US cities.

The iconic snow-clad Mount Rainier has not experienced a major volcanic eruption in the last 1,000 years, which is a worrying sign for many geologists and volcanologists, who suggest a possible lahar in the region.

A lahar is a rapidly flowing mixture of volcanic ash, debris, and water that originates on the slopes of a volcano and is capable of traveling at high speeds and causing extensive damage to nearby settlements.

Renowned volcanologist Jess Phoenix stated that the current condition of Mount Rainier is giving him sleepless nights because modern-day cities like Tacoma and parts of South Seattle are built on the same type of thick lahars that originated in the past.

While volcanic eruption is dangerous in itself, the possibility of lahar makes the situation worse as it is bound to melt Mount Rainier’s snow, which would eventually result in flooding in the surrounding communities. Tens of thousands of people reportedly live in regions vulnerable to destruction from these potential catastrophic events.

The world witnessed the last major lahar in 1985 in Colombia, in which at least 23,000 people perished within minutes. Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz, where this tragedy happened, had eight times less accumulated snow over the mountain compared to Mount Rainier’s current snow levels, which is also a worrying sign for geologists.

Although lahars mostly occur during volcanic eruptions, landslides and earthquakes can also trigger this phenomenon. Geologists believe that more than 11 lahars have emerged from Mount Rainier in the last 6000 years.

Simulations have shown that a 260 million cubic-meter lahar from Mount Rainier could reach heavily populated nearby regions within an hour of its emergence, making mass evacuation virtually impossible.

Simulations also reveal that a lahar can result in dam spillovers, which can also contribute to flooding in surrounding communities.

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