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Volcanic activity in OR


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I read this article yesterday, then had a vivid dream last night that this sucker really did blow in a big way, burying Bend & Smith Rocks in hot ash, etc. It might not happen in our lifetimes, or it could happen next week... no one knows.


Copyright © 2001 The Seattle Times Company

Local News : Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Central Oregon gets rise out of its region of volcanoes

By Robert Cooke


Nervousness is necessary in Central Oregon these days.

Recent measurements taken from a space satellite show that a known volcanic region is becoming restless, perhaps preparing for an eruption.

The Three Sisters region west of Bend has been inflating, lifting the ground upward by about 4 inches in the past five years, scientists report.

The most likely explanation is incipient volcanism, with a glob of molten rock — magma — migrating up from deep in the Earth's interior, trying to get to the surface. As molten rock fills an underground magma chamber, the surface is gradually rising.

But volcanologists can't yet tell if it will actually lead to an eruption. "The single most important thing is whether the activity is still going on," whether the bulge is still rising or not, said geologist Dan Dzurisin. "We should know that in the next two months."

Dzurisin, at the U.S. Geological Survey's Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Wash., said if the two instruments recently placed in the Three Sisters region show the ground is still moving, then research will intensify.

"It's a little bit like a piece of detective work," he explained. "We know that something happened — we're absolutely sure of that — but there's a lot we don't know yet, and we're finding out."

If the two instruments recently put in place — a seismometer to listen for ground tremors and a GPS receiver to detect changes in ground altitude — show activity, then more studies will begin.

The change in ground level was detected by the European Earth Resources satellite. The bulge is seen on the flanks of North Sister, Middle Sister and South Sister, and nearby peaks known as Husband, Wife and Little Brother. The last major volcanic activity in that region was about 1,200 years ago.

Copyright © 2001 The Seattle Times Company

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