Mt Hood, which the US Geological Survey (USGS) ranks as the fourth-most threatening volcano in the US, is being under-monitored, which could put the west coast of the US at risk. Mt Hood looms over the city of Portland, Oregon, which is home to more than half-a-million, but the mountain has little monitoring system. Geologists are calling for monitoring systems to be installed near the volcano, which reaches heights of 3,429 metres, so they can examine earthquakes, gas emissions and ground deformation – key warning signs in the build up to an eruption.

If these warning signs are missed, millions of people could be in danger.

Jonathan Fink, a geologist at Portland State University, said: “I’m all for protecting wilderness but this is just a question of public safety.

“And I think letting a helicopter in to put some instruments in that can then be monitored remotely seems like a pretty minor exception to the wilderness policies.”

Shannon Hall wrote in an article from The New York Times: “The volcano is hardly monitored.

“If scientists miss early warning signs of an eruption, they might not know the volcano is about to blow until it’s too late.”

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) argued: “Given the well-documented hazards posed by volcanoes, continuous robust monitoring is critical for public safety and hazard mitigation.

“Early detection of unrest at Mt Hood is particularly critical, given the popularity of Mt Hood’s backcountry areas.”

However, wilderness conservationists argue nature should be respected.

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The USGS said: “Mount Hood is one of the major volcanoes of the Cascade Range and is more than 500,000 years old.

“The volcano has grown in fits and starts, with decades to centuries of frequent eruptions separated by quiet periods lasting from centuries to more than 10,000 years.

“Eruptive activity at Mount Hood during the past 30,000 years has been dominated by growth and collapse of lava domes, with the last two episodes of eruptive activity occurred 1,500 and 200 years ago.”



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