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Volcano danger unknown because no one’s studying it: researchers

Vancouver Island and BC’s Lower Mainland are flanked by high-risk volcanoes few scientists are studying.

A new study this month looks at how much magma is accumulating below volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest. Researchers found in most cases, even for very high-risk volcanoes including Mount Baker, there is little or no data available.

In BC, the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt runs from the region north of Kingcome Inlet southeast to the Squamish area. It contains 2,300 volcanic vents and 22 volcanic structures, but there is no information available about what’s going on underground. Researchers say that’s likely because the range is difficult to access, and is mostly under ice and snow.

They conclude that given the large number of high-risk volcanoes, particularly in the Cascades region, the lack of data is “highly concerning.”

The paper also ranks 161 volcanoes in the United States based on their danger. Mount St. Helens is second and Mount Rainier is third, and Mount Baker is 14th.

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The paper, Geophysical and Geochemical Constraints on Magma Storage Depths Along the Cascade Arc: Knowns and Unknowns, was published November 20 in Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems.

Image from Geophysical and Geochemical Constraints on Magma Storage Depths Along the Cascade Arc: Knowns and Unknowns
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