Mount Rainier National Park to hold meeting on proposed lahar monitoring system changes

Mount Rainier National Park will hold a virtual public meeting in June so people can learn more about the proposed expansion of a system that monitors and provides alerts of volcanic mudflows.

The U.S. Geological Survey Cascades Volcano Observatory requested a permit to expand the volcano monitoring system in the park. The expansion is part of “a broader effort to implement a Lahar Detection System for Mount Rainier,” according to a National Park Service news release.

The expansion would improve volcano monitoring at the park, improve lahar — or volcanic mudflow — detection and provide more rapid notifications to the surrounding area in the event of a lahar.

“Lahars, or volcanic mudflows, are the primary volcanic hazard with the potential to impact people living, working, or recreating within or near the Mount Rainier National Park,” according to the release.

The National Park Service released an Environment Assessment for the Lahar Detection and Seismic Monitoring System that is available for public view.

The assessment considers four different scenarios for the system:

▪ Adding 12 new monitoring stations in the park.

▪ Continuing to monitor volcanic activity at existing stations.

▪ Adding 12 new stations, five of which would be relocated to undeveloped areas.

▪ Reducing the number of proposed stations to nine.

Five stations were already built in 2020, according to the Park Service website. The USGS proposed the first scenario, but Park Service prefers the fourth.

The full assessment is online for review and comment until June 25. The virtual meeting for the public to learn more about the system will begin at 4:30 p.m. June 9. There will be a presentation for viewers to learn about the monitoring system, followed by an opportunity to ask park staff questions.

The link is available at the project website.

This story was originally published in The News Tribune.