Mt. Hood National Forest Issues Decision on Volcanic Monitoring Stations on Mt. Hood

Zigzag, OR – August 16, 2019

Mount Hood National Forest Supervisor Richard Periman signed the Decision Notice and Finding or No Significant Impact (DN/FONSI) on August 15, 2019 to allow the installation of four volcano monitoring stations on the upper flanks of Mount Hood.  The unmanned remote monitoring stations will be located in the Wilderness area, occupying a total of 105 square feet of land.  These proposed stations will be constructed with minimal impact on the environment, located away from trails, and painted to blend in with the surroundings. 

The Forest Service may now issue a 30-year special use permit to U.S. Geological Survey-Cascades Volcano Observatory (USGS-CVO) who will be responsible for installing and maintaining all monitoring equipment. Given the weight of the monitoring equipment (1,900 lbs.), and timing of implementation, a helicopter will deliver external sling loads of equipment, tools and materials to and from each site during construction. USGS personnel will access the sites by foot travel. All future maintenance activities, including battery replacement, will be completed without the use of a helicopter.

While not erupting, Mount Hood is a functioning, active volcano.  Mount Hood produces frequent earthquakes, and steam and volcanic gases are emitted in the area around Crater Rock near the summit.  These stations greatly enhance the ability to detect subtle signals beneath the volcano and determine with greater confidence whether or not the volcano poses any imminent threat of eruption.  The USGS designated Mount Hood as a very high threat volcano in its 2005 National Volcanic Early Warning System assessment (http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1164/) due to the volcano’s eruptive history, current activity and proximity to communities downstream and downwind.  Seismic, GPS and volcanic gas data collected from the stations will be used as the basis for public communications and early warnings, to ensure the safety of adjacent communities as well as people using the Wilderness and Forest.

The decision documents and additional information on this project are available athttp://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/mthood/landmanagement/projects; and information on the Mount Hood volcano is available athttp://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/mount_hood/.