Geologist clarifies: Could Hawaii eruption cause Cascades to blo - KPTV - FOX 12

Geologist clarifies: Could Hawaii eruption cause Cascades to blow?

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An eruption from the Kilauea volcano's summit shot ash and smoke into the air early Thursday on Hawaii's Big Island. An eruption from the Kilauea volcano's summit shot ash and smoke into the air early Thursday on Hawaii's Big Island.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island erupted Thursday morning, sending ash and rock flying 30,000 feet into the air.

Lava is still flowing through neighborhoods in the area, slowly consuming homes, and people in the Pacific Northwest are worried it could trigger a volcanic eruption in the Cascades.

Oregon State University Geologist Adam Kent spoke with FOX 12 Thursday night. He says there’s absolutely no connection between Kilauea’s activity and the volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest.

“People don't have to worry about that," Kent said. "The volcano in Hawaii and the volcanoes we have in Oregon are, in geological terms, completely unrelated."

That’s because here in Oregon, Kent says, the Cascades sit on a horseshoe-shaped disaster zone called the “ring of fire.”

The zone is made up of several tectonic plates, and volcanoes, such as Mount Hood and Mount Rainier, sit right on the edge.

Kilauea sits in the middle of a tectonic plate. Kent says that essentially, those types of volcanoes act differently.

“The sort of dramatic footage we're seeing from Kilauea does not have any effect on how our own local volcanoes behave,” Kent said.

Kent says that’s because Kilauea is what’s known as a "hotspot" volcano. That means the actual source of heat to melt the earth, which forms into magma, eventually comes out of the ground as lava.

“It sits on the Pacific plate and melts that plate, and we occasionally get volcanoes,” Kent said.

Here in Oregon, we’re on the edge of tectonic plates.

“The volcanoes that we have in Oregon, in Washington and northern California, they're what's termed 'subduction' volcanoes," Kent said. "They occur when two plates come together and one is pushed under the other."

While these volcanic areas act differently, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a Pacific Northwest eruption. We just don’t know when that will be in the future.

Kent says over the past 4000 years, the Cascades average about two eruptions per century.

The last was when Mount Saint Helens erupted on May 18, 1980.

The U.S. Geological Survey says Mount Hood, the Three Sisters, Newberry Crater and Crater Lake in Oregon carry a higher risk of future activity than other mountains in the state.

In Washington, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Baker and Mount Rainier have the greatest potential to erupt.

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