WWU's Dave Tucker to give free presentation on Mount Baker's eruptive history Oct. 14
Gases from a fumarole in Mount Baker's Sherman Crater are collected by WWU's Dave Tucker, using vacuum flasks, a titanium tube, and heat-resistant tubing, for later analysis on campus. Photo by J. Scurlock
Dave Tucker, a Geology research associate at Western Washington University, will present a history of Mount Baker’s eruptive history at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 14 at the Whatcom Museum.
The event is free and open to the public.
“The Eruptive History of the Active Volcano in Our Backyard” will address recent findings about past activity and future hazards at Mount Baker. Tucker hopes to raise public awareness about realistic volcanic hazards from Baker as well as discuss the Mount Baker Volcano Research Center, which he directs.
“There are a lot of misconceptions,” said Tucker. “The question about Mount Baker that geologists get is ‘when is it going to blow?’ People think volcano means Mount St. Helens.”
The nonprofit Mount Baker Volcano Research Center, housed in the WWU Geology Department, serves as a research base and network for faculty, students and outside researchers interested in the geology and volcanology of Mount Baker and the surrounding Mount Baker volcanic field. Tucker, along with numerous colleagues, recently finished collecting and analyzing gas samples from Mount Baker. The initial results show that the volcano’s internal composition has not changed significantly since the last sampling, though sulfur-rich fluids and gases remain active within the mountain.
The real threat from Mount Baker is not an explosive eruption like Mount St. Helens, Tucker said. Instead, acidic fluids and gases inside the mountain, resulting from the mixture of water and gases rising off the magma beneath the volcano, can dissolve volcanic rock, turning it into very slippery clay. The mixture of this clay and water can create volcanic mudslides called lahars which threaten the safety of communities in the Nooksack drainage, including Deming, Everson, Lynden, and Ferndale.
The talk will be part of the MBVRC’s ongoing efforts to raise community awareness and financial support for more research and education on the Mount Baker volcanic field.
The free event is at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14 in the Rotunda Room of Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall building, 121 Prospect St. in Bellingham. For more information, contact Dave Tucker at email@example.com.