If Glacier Peak were to wake up tomorrow and start rumbling, it would be hard for scientists to tell. The National Volcanic Early Warning and Monitoring Systems Act, passed in February, sets out to change that.
Glacier Peak, a volcano in Washington’s North Cascades, is only monitored by one seismometer, which is a device designed to detect shaking. That makes it difficult to tell if shaking is from something volcanic — like an earthquake or a small explosion — or caused by something more ordinary, like a small rockfall, or a glacial “icequake.”
Eighteen volcanoes are classified as “very high threat” in the United States; eight of them are located in the Pacific Northwest. And right now only Mount St. Helens is considered well-monitored. The other seven are Mount Rainier, Mount Baker and Glacier Peak in Washington, and Mount Hood, the Three Sisters, Newberry Volcano and Crater Lake in Oregon.