Posted by: magmatist | January 6, 2013

MBVRC Annual Report- 2012 in review

Volunteer Laura collects fumarole gas at Sherman Crater in 2012.

Volunteer Lora Beatty, a WWU geology undergrad, collects fumarole gas at Sherman Crater in 2012.

The past year was a good one for Mount Baker Volcano Research Center. THANKS to all who contributed time, energy and dollars. Highlights of 2012 for our nonprofit include:

-We sponsored two field trips, introducing 40 people to geologic sites in the North Fork Nooksack and along the Scott Paul Trail.

-We presented 7 talks on Baker eruption history and hazards to a combined total of a lot of people.

-MBVRC volunteers continued to monitor stream flow and chemistry at Boulder Creek and in a spring in Schreibers Meadow. This work is done on behalf of USGS in an effort to monitor possible pre-eruption chemical changes in these waters. The two trips to Boulder Creek have now nearly doubled the available water chemistry data from this creek.

Doug McKeever (orange jacket, left) discusses ash from Crater lake caldera in trail cuts along Scott Paul Trail. Nobody sleeping yet!

Doug McKeever (orange jacket, left) discusses ash from Crater lake caldera in trail cuts along Scott Paul Trail. Nobody sleeping yet!

-We printed our 3rd fundraiser t-shirt design, and have sold the majority of the shirts we purchased. We offered a fundraising calendar for 2013. Sales still aren’t great, but we will consider continuing this for future years.

-John Scurlock re-created a photo taken from Loomis Mountain in 1912 by E. D. Welsh. The 2012 photo shows just how much ice has been lost from the mountain in the past century.

-The MBVRC Board of Directors remained unchanged: Sue Madsen, Doug McKeever, Dave Tucker, Pete Stelling, and John Scurlock.

Here’s a more  detailed report from Dave Tucker, 2012 MBVRC Board Chair:

To MBVRC 2012 Board and supporters

MBVRC has had a momentous year by successfully offering and providing our first three research grants. We have carried out our goals of 1] public education through presentations, field trips and the website, 2] fundraising for our research grant program, and 3] assisted with scientific data collection at Mount Baker. Here is a list of our 2012 accomplishments, and my comments.


Research grants were awarded to three WWU students. We provided Paul Whelan, Masters Candidate in the Geography department, with $325 to support some of his field expenses. Julie Gross, who has just completed her Masters in Geology, will receive $750 for three isotope analyses once she gets her billing from the geoanalytical lab at UW. Loren White, an undergraduate in Geology, received mountaineering training at MBVRC’s expense so he could begin collecting baseline GPS data outlining fumarole fields in Sherman Crater. MBVRC also purchased a thermocouple and temperature probe to assist with that project; these items remain property of MBVRC.

HOBOs collect digitized temperature data for a full year. We are testing them in the acidic environment of Sherman Crater.

HOBOs collect digitized temperature data for a full year. We are testing them in the acidic environment of Sherman Crater.


Between Dave and Doug, there were seven Mount Baker eruptive history and hazards presentations in 2012. Dave traveled to Port Townsend to address about 100 at the Jefferson Land Trust Geology Group in January. The BC Mountaineering Club and the Alpine Club of Canada each sponsored separate Mount Baker presentations in consecutive January weeks, to large crowds. In April, a standing-room-only crowd gathered at the Anacortes Library for a presentation sponsored by the Beach Watchers. People were turned away at the door, and a repeat has been requested for 2013. Smaller gatherings heard talks at Bellingham REI and Backcountry Essentials.   Doug made his first presentation on behalf of MBVRC by traveling to Orcas Island in August. All these presentations were a useful learning experience for us. We will now seek to ensure that hosts provide us with a proper forum, agree to cover travel expenses, or pay an honorarium to MBVRC. We will also now reimburse speakers’ personal transportation costs out of donations or honoraria.

Two talks are already planned in 2013. The Mount Vernon Kiwanis and Skagit Valley College will team up to sponsor a Baker presentation on January 31, with a media blitz to publicize the event locally. Also, the Anacortes Beach Watchers has requested a return engagement, to a larger space.

Fundraising–  field trips, t-shirts, posters, calendars:

We printed our third t-shirt design, and purchased several hundred from  Amjay Screen Printing in Bellingham. About 150 remain to be sold, but sales have exceeded costs by 150% so far. We sold these over the internet and at presentations. A new design will be needed, as the recent one was not the best (I’ll take the heat for that).

Sue Madsen and Dave Church gage Boulder Creek as part of a USGS volcano monitoring regime.

Sue Madsen and Dave Church gage Boulder Creek as part of a USGS volcano monitoring regime.

Dave and Doug led two MBVRC field trips. The first was to the Pinus Plateau lava and other geomorphic sites in the North Fork Nooksack; the second was a circuit of the Scott Paul Trail. Both sold out quickly, as is the usual case with our offerings. I would recommend we expand this program in 2013, and offer trips that are not necessarily related to Baker volcanism. This would tap the large public interest in geology and expand our reach beyond the large volcanophile community. Doug has already suggested offering a Baker River trail trip, which could be run in early spring in the Baker Valley.

A photo re-creation expedition was organized by John in September to record 100 years of changes at Baker. The resulting poster was not a financial success, but did result in several dozen sales. Many of these went to schools and colleges around the country to be used as examples of changing climate and receding glaciers.

At the request of a loyal MBVRC fan we produced our first fundraising calendar in 2012. Calendars were designed by Dave and John, and featured photos by both. Production was at the on-line printers, Lulu. Sales are not exactly brisk, but we have brought in some funds which will be transferred to our bank account via PayPal.

We brought in a small amount in donations, mostly at presentations and field trips but a few out of the blue via mail or PayPal from our loyal website followers.


Another successful fumarole sampling trip was made this summer. Peter Kelly and I were among the coauthors of an AGU abstract comparing Baker vacuum bottle data with a passive ‘sniffer’ system he deployed a year ago. This year, we left three HOBO probes at the crater in an effort to collect continuous temperature data in the crater for an entire year. We will again  make the trek to the crater in the summer of 2013 to resample gas, retrieve the HOBOs, and collect fumarole temperatures

We continue to gage discharge and collect water samples at Boulder Creek and Schreiber’s Meadow Spring. Neither of these any longer has USGS conductivity probes, so we now are sole providers for water chemistry data from these two sources. We visited the springs once; USGS visited another time when their crew removed the probe. We sampled and gaged Boulder Creek discharge twice,  nearly doubling the total data available for this creek. This is the first year this work has has been done since 2009; the only other times were twice in 1975. Boulder Creek is seen as a potential proxy for Baker gas chemistry once enough of a baseline has been compiled and to compare with Sherman Crater’s fumaroles. USGS provides all the data to us to post on our website.


WWU professor Dave Hirsch continues to be the webmaster for the main website,, hosted as a courtesy by WWU. The principal purpose of this site is data storage and to provide a list of published research papers, theses and abstracts dealing with Baker. This listing is the only compilation of its kind. It is pretty complete, though occasionally someone stumbles across an old reference and sends us the citation. Dave provided analytics for the website. This website had 15, 550 unique visitors in 2012, 40,800 visits, with 148,000 page views. It received a total of 235,000 hits. About 85% most of these were for less than 30 seconds and can only be regarded as very casual, but most of the rest were for 2 minutes or longer. The two most popular pages were the abstracts and reference pages, respectively.

This blog continues to grow in circulation. In 2012, there were 15,374 views. This compares well with 2011 (9,547) and the first year 2010 (4,530). There are 193 email or RSS subscribers. The blog is maintained by me using WordPress as the host. The most popular page was ‘About MBVRC’ with 4,020 page views, followed by ‘Home page/Archives’ (1839), the special page about the Loomis expedition and poster (1,235) and ‘t-shirts’ (745). The monitoring/webcam page had 563 visits. I think this blog site does a real public service, and in undeniably of benefit to MBVRC. I’m willing to stay on as webmaster. Doug has a basic knowledge of making  posts and updating pages, but it would be great if another person got familiar with all aspects of maintaining the blog.

Board Motions:

In 2012 the MBVRC Board of Directors dealt with 15 board motions, dealing with expenditures, by-laws changes, and the like. With one exception, all motions passed. This suggests to me that we are all in tune with our goals, work well together, and have a good sense of where we are going. Motions are available to the public if they are interested, via email.

Coming up in 2013:

We had two board meetings in 2012, although the first was specifically to decide on grant fund proposals. I recommend we continue to have a special meeting for this purpose each year, as long as we offer grants. Our single ‘general purpose’ meeting this year in late December was very productive and fun, too. I would like to recommend that we hold an in-person meeting twice each year, in addition to the special RFP discussion. Our bylaws state that our annual meeting be held on June 30. The December meeting is good timing for a second gathering.

Research grants will again be offered. An RFP should be ready to go out early in 2013. We have agreed to expand our offering this year to include UBC, SFU, and UW, in addition to WWU.


This has been a great year for MBVRC, the best yet. It has been a pleasure to work with all of you in 2012, and hope you all agree to another term on the board of directors. I feel we are a smoothly operating non-profit organization, with promise for the future. It is no longer essentially ‘Tucker’s group’. I feel MBVRC could continue without me, as I hope it someday will.

Best wishes for a great 2013!

Dave Tucker,


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