Posted by: magmatist | October 10, 2010

Mount Baker volcanology presentation coming to Whatcom Museum



Collecting fumarole gases in Sherman Crater. John Scurlock photo


The Eruptive History of the Active Volcano in Our Backyard

by Dave Tucker, WWU Geology

Thursday Oct. 14 at the Whatcom Museum. 7:30 PM, no charge.

Revised from the Western Washington University online campus news update for October 5.

Dave Tucker, a Geology research associate at Western Washington University, will present a history of Mount Baker’s eruptive history at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 14 at the Whatcom Museum.

The event is free and open to the public.

“The Eruptive History of the Active Volcano in Our Backyard” will address recent findings about past activity and future hazards at Mount Baker. Tucker hopes to raise public awareness about realistic volcanic hazards from Baker as well as discuss the Mount Baker Volcano Research Center, which he founded.

“There are a lot of misconceptions,” said Tucker. “The question about Mount Baker that geologists get is ‘when is it going to blow?’ People think volcano means Mount St. Helens. Baker eruptions are of a different character”.

The nonprofit Mount Baker Volcano Research Center, affiliated with the WWU Geology Department, serves as a means to network between the public and researchers interested in the geology and volcanology of Mount Baker and the surrounding Mount Baker volcanic field. Tucker, along with numerous colleagues, recently finished collecting and analyzing gas samples from Mount Baker. The initial results show that the volcano’s internal composition has not changed significantly since the last sampling, though sulfur-rich fluids and gases remain active within the mountain.

The real threat from Mount Baker is not an explosive eruption like Mount St. Helens, Tucker said. Instead, acidic water within the mountain, resulting from the mixture of water and gases rising off the magma beneath the volcano, can dissolve volcanic rock, turning it into very slippery clay. The mixture of this clay and water can create volcanic mudslides called lahars which threaten the safety of communities in the Nooksack drainage, including Deming, Everson, Lynden, and Ferndale.

The talk will be part of the MBVRC’s ongoing efforts to raise community awareness and financial support for more research and education on the Mount Baker volcanic field. There is no fee for admission, but the famous MBVRC fundraiser t-shirts will be available for purchase, $20 each. Community interest in this topic is very high, so come early to get a seat and a shirt before they sell out.

The free event is at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14 in the Rotunda Room of Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall building, 121 Prospect St. in Bellingham. For more information, contact Dave Tucker at this cleverly disguised email address:

tuckerd at geol dot wwu dot edu.


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