AD Main Menu

Drift River dike withstands Redoubt

Richard Mauer
Image grab from Redoubt Hut webcam on Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 9:11 am.
View of the growing Redoubt volcano lava dome on May 4, 2009. Note the tongue of blocky lava extending down the upper Drift gorge. A lighter gray slope of talus - rocky debris shed off the slowly advancing tongue of lava - fills the gorge downslope. The dimensions of the dome are about 510 x 760 m (1700 feet x 2500 feet) and at least 150 m (500 feet) high. Scientisits say another explosion is imminent.
USGS/AVO geologist Kristi Wallace, pondering the preserved tephra layers in the snow northwest of Redoubt volcano during fieldwork on Monday, May 4, 2009.
Rick Wessels examines ice-rich lahar deposits from Redoubt volcano on Thursday, April 30, 2009. The deposits are from the flood in March and are rapidly evolving as subsequent floods and warm weather work on them. This location is on the south side of the lower Drift River Valley. The deposit is capped by sand deposits from the April 4, 2009 flood.
Sunset at Mt. Redoubt, taken from Clam Gulch, Alaska on April 24, 2009.
Summit crater of Redoubt Volcano showing the active lava dome and rubbly north front extending down the upper reaches of Drift gorge. This view is from high over the southwest rim. Note the persistent fumaroles up on the west slope of the gorge (left of center), and the diffuse ash plume rising lower in the gorge from hot debris shed from the dome.
Redoubt's gas plume drifts south toward Iliamna, April 20, 2009. Photograph taken near Homer, AK.
The dome inside Redoubt Volcano during heli-supported fieldwork, on Tuesday, April 21, 2009.
USGS geologist, Kristi Wallace, digging a snow pit to sample ash fall deposits from Redoubt volcano. View is to the east with Drift River Valley in the background. on Tuesday, April 21, 2009.
USGS geologist, Kristi Wallace, digging a snow pit to sample ash fall deposits from Redoubt volcano. View is to the east with Drift River Valley in the background. on Tuesday, April 21, 2009.
AVO geologist, Janet Schaefer collecting proximal tephra-fall (volcanic ash) deposits from the current eruption with Redoubt volcano as a backdrop on Monday, April 21, 2009.
Fieldwork northwest of Redoubt volcano. Kristi Wallace measuring and collecting ash samples from the current eruption on March 31, 2009.
A steam plume was visible from Mount Redoubt on Monday evening, April 20, 2009, as viewed from Skyline Drive in Eagle River. The Anchorage skyline is visible in the foreground with Iliamna Volcano on the left.
Redoubt steams at sunset, on April 20, 2009, as viewed from Soldotna, Alaska.
Annotated webcam image from April 20, 2009, showing approximate height of the waterfall, and a corresponding bar for how high the Empire State Building would look next to the waterfall. These measurements are approximate and are only intended as a sense of scale - it is not possible to accurately measure the height of the dome from these webcam images. The April 20, 2009, debris flow is visible just to the left of the yellow bars. AVO gives special thanks to Marc Linsey, for his help in the creation of this figure.
Mount Redoubt releases a plume of water vapor and gas, April 17, 2009 50 miles across Cook Inlet from Kenai, Alaska.
This April 20, 2009 photo shows traffic moving along Glenn Highway in Anchorage, Alaska, as Mount Redoubt, bellows steam and gas on the horizon. The volcano, about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage on the west side of Cook Inlet began erupting March 22, 2009. According to the Alaska Volcano Observatory the volcano continues to erupt and a lava dome is building.
Mount Redoubt from the east on April 16, 2009. The volcano continues to spew steam.
Redoubt continues to steam on April 20, 2009. Photograph was made by Robert Cole, a Peninsula Airways pilot.
The lava dome on Redoubt Volcano is active lava dome. The photograph of the top of the mountain was taken from the north by AVO's Game McGimsey. The bottom image shows the thermal image - the darker colors represent cool / cold material and as the colors get lighter, they represent the progressively hotter material - the white being the hottest. The thermal image is by Rick Wessels. The images were made on April 16, 2009.
Redoubt volcano, as seen on the morning of April 16, 2009, from Deep Creek, Kenai Peninsula.
Redoubt volcano around 2pm on Thursday, April 16, 2009.
Redoubt volcano as seen in an image grab from the AVO webcam across Cook Inlet on Thursday, April 16, 2009 shortly before 9am.
Redouby volcano as seen on an image grab from the AVO webcam north of the volcano about 8:51am on Thursday, April 16, 2009.
Mount Redoubt continues to blow steam and ash as seen from near Homer on April 11, 2009.
Mount Redoubt remains active, as seen from near Homer on April 11, 2009.
Anaglyph of Redoubt, on April 4, 2009. For 3-D viewing, please use red-blue glasses, with left eye red.
Although Mount Redoubt has been on the quiet side for a few days, it continues to emit steam and ash in a cloud that goes up to 20,000 feet at times. Sunset at the mouth of the Kasilof River on April 7, 2009 affords a good view of the volcano.
On April 4, 2009, the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite captured this image of the Drift River Valley where it connects with Cook Inlet. Lahars have stained the river valley a deep muddy brown. Water channels form branching patterns just west of the Cook Inlet shore, and the dark brown color of each water channel contrasts sharply with the nearby snow. The Drift River Oil Terminal resides in this network of channels, and part of the facility appears as an off-white rectangle in a landscape of meandering mudflows.
The tanker Seabulk Arctic at berth at the Christy Lee loading platform. Mt. Redoubt volcano is shown in the background on Sunday, April 5, 2009.
Mount Redoubt as seen from 16,000 feet on a scheduled Iliamna Air flight April 6, 2009. The plume was drifting northeast toward Anchorage between 20,000 and 25,000 feet at about 30 knots.
Redoubt volcano pumps out steam and ash in the sunset light Sunday evening, viewed from Anchorage. April 5, 2009
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Photograph of Redoubt volcano taken during an observation and gas collection overflight on Sunday, April 5, 2009.
Redoubt volcano as seen from an ERA flight between Anchorage and Kodiak on Saturday, April 4, 2009.
Photo of Redoubt volcano and vicinity taken from an observation flight on Saturday, April 4, 2009. View from the northeast across the Drift River.
Photo of Redoubt volcano and vicinity taken from an observation flight on Saturday, April 4, 2009.
Redoubt Volcano at 11:50 am on Sunday, April 5, 2009. Camera is located at AVO's Redoubt Hut, approximately 7.5 mi (12 km) from Redoubt's summit crater. This camera provides a view of the north flank of Redoubt.
Photo of Redoubt volcano and vicinity taken from an observation flight on Saturday, April 4, 2009.
Photo of Redoubt volcano and vicinity taken from an observation flight on Saturday, April 4, 2009.
Photo of Redoubt volcano and vicinity taken from an observation flight on Saturday, April 4, 2009.
Steam and ash streams out of Mount Redoubt volcano on Saturday April 4, 2009. Photos made by Iliamna Air Taxi pilot Nick Oppegard around 2:30 pm on Saturday on his way from Anchorage to Iliamna on a s scheduled flight at 14,000 feet. Iliamna Volcano is in the background, just right of Redoubt.
Steam and ash streams out of Mount Redoubt volcano on Sturday April 4, 2009. Photos made by Iliamna Air Taxi pilot Nick Oppegard around 2:30 pm on Saturday on his way from Anchorage to Iliamna on a s scheduled flight at 14,000 feet.
An eruption plume rises above Mount Redoubt volcano, 50 miles across Cook Inlet from Kenai, Alaska, on Saturday, April 4, 2009. The 10,197-foot mountain had another explosive eruption at 6 a.m. and has continued to emit ash and steam throughout the day, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory.
One of Redoubt's webcams shows the volcano steaming at just after 5pm Saturday April 4, 2009. The volcano had an explosive eruption Saturday morning just before 6:00.
The hut webcam on Mount Redoubt shows a small plume at 3:21 PM Saturday April 4, 2009. The volcano erupted explosively around 6am Saturday.
Erin McKittrick collects an ash sample for the Alaska Volcano Observatory Saturday April 4, 2009 near Seldovia. Redoubt erupted Saturday morning around 6 AM and threw an ash and gas cloud up to around 50,000 feet in the air. The ash cloud moved over Cook Inlet and the western Kenai Peninsula. A thick blanket of ash fell in Homer and Seldovia along with other Kenai Peninsula communities.
One of Redoubt's webcams shows a clearing mountain with a small plume. The image was made at 3:35 PM Saturday April 4, 2009. The camera is located with a seismic station, approximately 7.6 miles NE of Redoubt.
One of Redoubt's webcams shows a clearing mountain with a small plume. The image was made at 1:45 PM Saturday April 4, 2009. The camera is located with a seismic station, approximately 7.6 miles NE of Redoubt.
Ashfall from Redoubt's ~6 am explosive event, April 4, 2009, covered a vehicle near Homer, AK.
Redoubt Volcano's Saturday morning eruption sent a large ash cloud to the Kenai Peninsula. Between 8 and 8:30 am Saturday morning, as the ash fell in Homer, it looked as dark as night although it was daylight hours.
Ashfall from Saturday April 4, 2009 6:00AM eruption of Mount Redoubt blankets Homer's Pioneer Avenue.
Jeff Rogers, right, of Alyeska Sales and Service in Homer gives a quick lesson on automobile air-filter changing to Ashleigh Imlay, left, and Diana Imlay. Unable to catch a flight to Anchorage this morning due to Mount Redoubt's 6 a.m. eruption, the women were preparing to make the drive north.
This webcam on Mt. Redoubt shows a spattered lens after Saturday morning's 6:00 eruption. The volcano blew another ash plume an estimated 50,000 feet into the air, which then drifted over the western Kenai Peninsula. This image was made at 12:17PM April 4, 2009.
Redoubt's plume surrounds the setting sun April 1, 2009, as viewed from the mouth of the Kasilof River.
Redoubt volcano spews ash and steam on March 31, 2009.
Angie Diefenbach from the Alaska Volcano Observatory works in a snow pit collecting ash fall northwest of Redoubt Thursday, April 2, 2009.
Redoubt volcano in continuous eruption on March 31, 2009. Plume height is no more than 15,000 feet above sea level. The small amount of ash in the plume is creating a haze layer down wind of the volcano and dustings of fine ash are falling out of the plume. View is from the east.
Redoubt volcano continues to erupt as seen from Lake Clark Pass on March 31, 2009.
Panorama of Redoubt Volcano plume trailing off to the northeast on March 31, 2009. The plume contains fine ash which is creating a haze layer downwind of the volcano. Image courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory.
Thermal infrared image taken on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, showing the likely base of a new lava dome in the crater of Redoubt Volcano. While the dome is completely obscured by ash and steam in the visible photographs, the heat of the new lava can often be detected by the thermal infrared camera. The image also shows a trail of hot block and ash confined to the canyon below the summit. Picture Date: March 31, 2009 13:44:07 AKDT Image Creator:
Ash and steam cloud from Redoubt Volcano as seen from Cannery Road in Kenai on Tuesday evening, March 31, 2009.
View east of Redoubt Volcano and recent eruption deposits on the upper flanks on Tuesday, March 31, 2009.
Redoubt Volcano and eruption plume on March 31, 2009. View is to the northeast of the summit area and south rim of the crater.
View west of the east flank of Redoubt Volcano and ash-covered terrain from recent eruptions on Tuesday, March 31, 2009.
Image grab of Redoubt Volcano from the AVO's Redoubt Hut webcam at 8:53am on Wednesday, April 1, 2009.
Redoubt volcano and eruption plume on March 31, 2009. View is to the west. Note ash covered slopes in foreground.
Steam and ash streams out of Mount Redoubt volcano on Tuesday March 31, 2009. Photos made by Iliamna Air Taxi pilot Nick Oppegard around 11:30 am on Tuesday on his way from Anchorage to Iliamna on a s scheduled flight at 16,000 feet.
Image grab from the AVO website of Mt. Redoubt Volcano at 8:20am on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 as sunrise hits the volcano. AVO Redoubt Hut webcam is located approximately 7.5 mi (12 km) from Redoubt's summit crater.
Redoubt Volcano in eruption during an observation and gas data collection flight on March 30, 2009. Continuous emission of volcanic gas, water vapor, and ash is producing a plume rising to about 15,000 feet above sea level. AVO scientists observed ash falling up to 25 miles downwind.
Redoubt Volcano in eruption during an observation and gas data collection flight on March 30, 2009. View is to the east. Continuous emission of volcanic gas, water vapor, and ash is producing a plume rising to about 15,000 feet above sea level. The haze at left below the drifting cloud is a region of active ash fall. AVO scientists observed ash falling up to 25 miles downwind.
Wes Bell wares a dust mask handed out by the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska to protect himself from the ash from Redoubt Volcano Saturday, March 28, 2009 as leaves the ski area 40 miles south of Anchorage. The volcano about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage first erupted Sunday night with the most resent eruption Saturday afternoon.
Volcanic ash from Mount Redoubt and winter road grime cloud the air on Tuesday morning, March 31, 2009, as traffic moves along Tudor Road in Anchorage.
Ash collects on a windshield following an eruption of Mount Redoubt volcano Saturday March 28, 2009 in west Anchorage.
Redoubt Volcano in eruption during an observation and gas data collection flight on March 30, 2009. Continuous emission of volcanic gas, water vapor, and ash is producing a plume rising to about 15,000 feet above sea level. The haze at left below the drifting cloud is a region of active ash fall. AVO scientists observed ash falling up to 25 miles downwind.
A skier makes a trail through ash from Redoubt Volcano as he makes his way off of the U.S. Alpine Championships course at the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska, 40 miles south of Anchorage, Saturday, March 28, 2009. The volcano, about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, first erupted Sunday night with the most resent eruption Saturday afternoon.
Cutbank along Rust Slough, west of Drift River on March 22, 2009. Lahar deposit overlies snow, fluvial deposits, and 1990 lahar runout deposits,
Impact from the volcanic ash fallout in Nikiski, Alaska on Monday, March 30, 2009. Fine ash is resuspended as vehicles drive over the recently deposited ash fall deposit from Redoubt Volcano. Photographer:
Redoubt volcano emitted a plume thought to contain little ash at 9:44 a.m. on March 30th, 2009.
Alaska Volcano Observatory / U.S. Geological Survey
Vehicles parked near the Delaney Park Strip in downtown Anchorage have their hoods covered to help protect against volcanic ash from Mount Redoubt on Sunday, March 29, 2009.
Steam and ash rises from Mount Redoubt on Monday afternoon, March 30, 2009.
AVO Redoubt Hut Cam
Volcanic ash from Mount Redoubt rests on the hood of a pickup truck parked south of Wasilla on Sunday, March 29, 2009.
Tire tracks in the snow with a light dusting of ash from Saturday's eruption of Mount Redoubt as seen at Point Woronzof on Sunday, March 29, 2009.
Bird tracks in snow with a light dusting of volcanic ash from Saturday's eruption of Mount Redoubt as seen near Point Woronzof on Sunday, March 29, 2009.
Ben Tesfu brings shopping carts in from the parking lot at the Carrs Safeway Aurora Village store while wearing a protective mask as ash from Mount Redoubt volcano falls on Anchorage Saturday evening March 28, 2009.
Redoubt volcano's ash cloud looms overhead between Kenai and Ninilchik Saturday afternoon March 28, 2009.
Edith King covers her nose and mouth as ash from Mount Redoubt volcano falls on Anchorage Saturday evening March 28, 2009. King was waiting for the bus on Bragaw Street.
Lightning from Redoubt's 1:20 am, March 28, eruption.
Lightning from Redoubt's 11:20 pm, March 27, eruption.
Lightning from Redoubt's 11:20 pm, March 27, eruption.
The plume from Redoubt's 3:29 pm, March 28, 2009 eruption, rose above the volcano and was photographed from Soldotna.
Redoubt's plume from the volcano's 1:40 pm, March 28, 2009 eruption was photographed near Homer.
Scientists from Alaska Volcano Observatory flew the Redoubt Volcano area Thursday March 26, 2009 for observation gas collection.
Redoubt volcano, viewed from the North Fork, Anchor Point at 6:30 pm, Thursday, March 26, 2009.
Mount Redoubt bellows steam and ash, seen from across the Cook Inlet in Ninilchik, Thursday, March 29, 2009.
A view northeast over the piedmont lobe of the Drift Glacier and down the Drift River valley shows the effects of flooding caused by two eruptions of Mount Redoubt volcano earlier in the day Thursday March 26, 2009.
Photo courtesy Game McGimsey / A.V.O. / U.S.G.S.
Mount Redoubt volcano is viewed from the south over the ash-covered Crescent River Valley Thursday March 26, 2009.
Photo courtesy Game McGimsey / A.V.O. / U.S.G.S.
A waterfall is viewed at the 5500' level of Drift Canyon following two morning eruptions of Mount Redoubt volcano Thursday March 26, 2009
Photo courtesy Game McGimsey / A.V.O. / U.S.G.S.
This is the lower portion of the Drift Canyon. Visible is the central ice gorge down which flood waters travelled (waterfall and plunge pool in lower center); flow entering from left side of canyon is presumably from a runout generated by small pyroclastic flow (seen in webcam on 03/23/09). Observations made following two morning eruptions of Mount Redoubt volcano Thursday March 26, 2009.
Photo courtesy Game McGimsey / A.V.O. / U.S.G.S.
Mount Redoubt bellows steam and ash, seen from across the Cook Inlet in Ninilchik, Thursday, March 29, 2009.
This view is of the ash-covered lower Crescent River Valley following two morning eruptions of Mount Redoubt volcano Thursday March 26, 2009.
Photo courtesy Game McGimsey / A.V.O. / U.S.G.S.

The evacuated Drift River oil terminal, its tanks holding 6 million gallons of Cook Inlet crude oil, survived the first violent flood this week from the eruptions of nearby Redoubt volcano, government and industry officials said Tuesday.

Overflights and one on-the-ground visit Tuesday showed that some mud-saturated floodwater lapped over a protective dike early Monday morning when the Drift River rose 25 feet from the melting effect of hot ash and rock on Redoubt's ice fields, the officials reported. But the powerful river, which elsewhere scoured off the bark and limbs from mature standing trees, skirted harmlessly around the tank farm before receding.

"The system worked as it is supposed to," said Coast Guard Cmdr. Joseph Losciuto, the federal on-scene coordinator in the event of an oil spill.

But he and his state counterpart, Gary Folley of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, said in interviews that they remain concerned about what the volcano may yet do and whether the earth-filled containment structure will retain enough strength to hold back the next flood.

"Our biggest concern is the structural integrity of the dike itself," Folley said. "Whenever an earthen dam encounters any kind of flow of water, it's going to weather and wear."

At a Tuesday press conference at the Alaska Volcano Observatory, a scientist sounded a note of warning: Redoubt is likely to erupt for months, while the source of potential floodwater is almost immeasurable.

"There's a lot of glacier up there," said geophysicist Stephanie Prejean.

The risks spurred a demand from the environmental organization Cook Inletkeeper that the crude in two partially filled tanks be immediately drained into tankers and hauled away to safety. The oil is about a third of what was spilled in Prince William Sound by the Exxon Valdez 20 years ago Tuesday.

"From our perspective, it's just common sense -- you don't leave that much oil at the base of an erupting volcano," Bob Shavelson, the group's executive director, said from Homer. "I think they're planning to do nothing. That's the cheapest thing to do."

But Lana Johnson, a spokeswoman for the terminal's operator, Cook Inlet Pipeline Co., said the oil could remain safely in the tanks. Keeping the tanks partially filled could prevent another problem if the dike is breached: buoyant tanks breaking from their foundations and floating away, a disaster that occurred in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina flooding, she said.

Either the state or federal government could order the tanks to be drained if an oil spill were imminent, but the Coast Guard's Losciuto said that's unlikely for now. Draining the tanks below their normal working level would require a long startup period when operations resumed, potentially risking some Cook Inlet production. Unless the dike was weakened, there would be no reason to expect it to fail, he said.

"We're comfortable leaving the limited amount of product in those tanks," Losciuto said. "It's definitely better than having the damage and loss of the facility if the tanks were moved off their foundations."

An engineer from the firm that designed the dike plans to fly to the terminal today to examine its integrity, said Folley from the DEC. If repairs are necessary, heavy equipment has been parked inside the dike and is available.

The Drift River oil terminal is one of several on the west side of Cook Inlet connected by pipeline to offshore production platforms. Four of Drift River's seven 11-million-gallon tanks are operational. They are filled with oil from the platforms, then drained by tankers that deliver the oil to the Tesoro refinery in Nikiski on the other side of the Inlet.

But the facility was built in a floodplain downriver from an ice-encrusted volcano that tends to erupt every two decades. During the last eruptive phase, from 1989 to 1990, the tank farm was flooded, though none of the 37 million gallons then stored was spilled.

In response, Cook Inlet Pipeline Co., itself operated by Chevron Pipe Line Co., surrounded the tank farm with a 25-foot-tall dike made of earth and gravel and protected on the river side with concrete armor. The project, completed in August 1990, was untested until a series of eruptions began Sunday night.

Folley said the designers thought they had built the dike five feet above a projected 100-year flood. "It was considered to be an engineering marvel for the year," he said.

Eleven workers were evacuated by helicopter Monday morning. Some returned Tuesday and found parts of the facility outside the dike devastated by the flood. Part of the airstrip near a hangar was covered in 40 inches of mud, Folley said. But the workers were also able to start the generator that powers the facility, he said.

With the facility shut down, Chevron is storing its production at tank facilities at Trading Bay and Granite Point, also on the west side of the Inlet, said spokeswoman Roxanne Sinz.

Find Richard Mauer online at adn.com/contact/rmauer or call 257-4345.

Video: Flying over Drift River
More volcano coverage
Video: Flying over Redoubt (Feb. 26)
Reader-submitted photos
Video: Redoubt report from Alaska Volcano Observatory
By RICHARD MAUER
rmauer@adn.com
Contact Richard Mauer at or on