A new report has revealed that the U.S. Geological Survey is classifying eighteen volcanoes located in the United States as having a very high threat. This report includes the classification of the Yellowstone volcano in Wyoming as high in terms of threat. Volcano threat assessments have not been updated since 2006.
The USGS states:
The updated national volcanic threat assessment presented here is not a forecast or indication of which volcanoes are most likely to erupt next. Rather, it is an indicator of the potential severity of impacts that may result from future eruptions at any given volcano.
The reports revealed that eleven of the eighteen volcanoes have a location in Washington, Oregon, or California. This is significant because these three states consist of explosive and often snow and ice-covered edifices that can project hazards far in terms of distance to highly populated and highly developed lands.
At the top of the threat list is Kilauea in Hawaii. Mount St. Helens in addition to Mount Rainier in Washington, Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano, and California’s Mount Shasta are placed in the top five on the list. Alaska’s Mount Okmok, Akutan Island, and Mount Spurr have seen higher threat scores than the last report in 2006.
The list consists of threat levels that start at very low and end at very high. In between the levels are labeled in order starting with the least severe as low, moderate, and high.
A spokesperson said:
“Five of the 18 very high threat volcanoes are in Alaska near important population centers, economic infrastructure, or below busy air traffic corridors. The remaining two very high threat volcanoes are on the Island of Hawaii, where densely populated and highly developed areas now exist on the flanks of highly active volcanoes”
The high and moderate threat volcanoes according to the report mostly consist of volcanoes located in Alaska. These volcanoes have the potential to significantly damage national and international aviation, as well as a potential to cause regional and national-scale disasters.
Lastly, there are 161 active volcanoes in the United States according to the report. Such information should put into action safety measures by authorities and individuals at the local, state, and national levels.