Redoubt's seismic activity slows

January 31, 2009 

Seismic intensity from Redoubt volcano has abated again this evening after an afternoon flurry. Activity remains well above normal levels, as scientists keep a close eye on the mountain's surges of activity.An observation flight by scientists this afternoon reported no sign of ash emission yet, but discovered significant steaming from a new melt depression at the mouth of the summit crater, near the vent area of the 1989-90 eruption.

Redoubt rumbled steadily last night before dropping off for a time in the morning. Meanwhile a burst of pre-dawn news coverage triggered an eruption of Internet traffic that shut down the Alaska Volcano Observatory's ultra-cool Web site, at least temporarily.

Overnight news reports of Redoubt's expected eruption were featured prominently this morning on websites for CNN, the Drudge Report, Google, and even the "news-for-nerds" site Slashdot. The stories included "hot links" to the AVO Web site.

"Pretty much when the East Coast woke up, everybody hit it all at once," said Peter Cervelli, a volcano observatory geophysicist who was on duty at 4:30 a.m. when the system crashed.

Fortunately, the volcano scientists had anticipated such a problem and had a low-bandwidth version of their Web site ready to put in place.

"We had a taste of this when Augustine (volcano) went in 2006, and knew it was only going to get worse," Cervelli said.

For now, browsers on the AVO site can get the basic report on Redoubt and the latest updates. Some secondary functions have been restored, such as access to the webicorders, the Web site seismographs showing activity on the mountain.

University of Alaska technicians are working to distribute the high-bandwidth load to other computer servers around the country so that the full system can be back in service, Cervelli said.

"We like to think this is the price of success," he said.

Cervelli added that the scientists' internal data from seismometers and cameras are all run through different circuits and weren't affected by the Internet traffic.

Redoubt remains at Code Orange, with the alert level at "Watch" and an eruption considered likely. In 1989-90, Redoubt erupted more than two dozen times during an eruptive phase that lasted four months.

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