Volcanic eruptions represent one of the most serious geologic hazards facing the Pacific Northwest, with several volcanoes located within striking distance of the most highly populated areas in the region. This paper describes the hazards associated with these eruptive centers and discusses the best practices for preparing communities for potential eruptions and mitigating volcanic hazards. This study is based on data collected by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on volcanic systems such as Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. Many other scientific organizations have studied analogous volcanic systems beyond the Pacific Northwest, such as the volcanically active island of Indonesia; where numerous populated areas lie in close proximity to active volcanic systems.
A common misconception is that many of the volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest are dormant or extinct, but research shows that these systems are active. Further, these active volcanoes have significant populations living well within their mapped hazard zones. The lack of preparedness and understanding of the true state of volcanic activity in the region could be related to a lack of education, or to inaction on the part of local government agencies in preparing for volcanic hazards. With this being said, it is imperative for local governments to prepare for volcanic activity in the inevitable future. It would be in the best interest of these governments to work with schools to educate not just students, but communities as a whole on how to prepare for a major volcanic eruption. This would be most important for the Pacific Northwest, as this is one of the more volcanically active regions on Earth.
Griffith, Nick, "Preparation and Mitigation Efforts for Volcanic Hazards in the Pacific Northwest" (2020). Academic Excellence Showcase Proceedings. 253.
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