The giants in our backyard (and across the sea)

WWU IN THE NEWS: Volcano Research
from KING-5 News, from National Geographic

Western's volcano experts Professor Sue Debari and Associate Professor Kristina Walowski talked with KING-5's Kaila Lafferty about the mysteries in our nearby mountains in '''It felt like it was from another planet:' Scientists studying mysteries of volcanoes in Washington"

“You look at that volcano, right?" DeBari said. "It just looks like a mountain with snow on it. But, I think when we look at it, we're envisioning what's happening, like 20 kilometers beneath the surface."

DeBari was studying pre-med as a sophomore at Cornell University in 1980 when Mount St. Helens erupted.

"It felt like it was from another planet," DeBari said. "I could never have imagined that I would be studying cascade volcanoes."

And Jackie Caplan-Auerbach spoke to National Geographic about a recent eruption in Hawaii in "Hawaii’s Mauna Loa erupts for the first time in 38 years. What happens next?"

At present, no major population centres are threatened and no evacuation orders have been issued, but the situation is rapidly evolving, and eruptions at Mauna Loa have proven unpredictable in the past. 

“There are eruptions at Mauna Loa that end in a day. There are also eruptions that go on for a long time. Really, there is just no way to know right now,” says Jackie Caplan-Auerbach, a volcano seismologist at Western Washington University.

Jackie Caplan Auerbach holds a camera on the deck of a ship, volcanic steam and flames rising from the sea behind her
Jackie Caplan-Auerbach

photo by Rhys Logan