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Situation 3: A New Eruption in the Cascades
A new eruptive cycle of Mount Hood in Northern Oregon has been in progress for several months. It began with a series of earthquake swarms that were centered in a volume of rock under the mountain roughly 15 miles across and at least 20 miles deep. Geologists immediately placed tilt meters around the mountain and began an intensive watch on both seismic and eruptive activity. During the next few weeks several small outbursts of steam and ash occurred at different locations around the volcano. In the last two months the mountain and its surroundings bulged upward several hundred meters over a large area and seismic activity intensified. Numerous large, new fractures have also formed around the mountain, but no further explosive activity has occurred. Local forestry officials have set up a safety zone of restricted access around the mountain and issued warnings to city officials in nearby Portland and shipping companies that operate on the Columbia River. Government officials have complied by restricting traffic on the river and by alerting residents of Portland and other cities in the area.

The extended period of relative quiet (no eruptions) has prompted numerous requests of government officials to lift restrictions: Private individuals want access to their summer homes and recreational areas, owners of small tourist-dependent businesses in the area want the tourists back, industry officials want to resume logging and mining operations, and town and city officials want shipping restrictions along the Columbia River lifted. Continuing restrictions will cause great hardships for many, including the probable failure of many small businesses. On the other hand, local geologists think that the seismic and tilt meter data indicate an imminent major eruption and want to keep the restrictions in place. Your company has been hired by the governors of both Oregon and Washington to analyze the data, predict the magnitude of the eruption, and make safety recommendations.

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