The Cascades Volcano Observatory’s most recent international dispatch didn’t turn out as eventful as some previous trips. Showing signs of unrest earlier this year, Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz volcano had mostly quieted down by the time a trio of American scientists arrived in late April.
That didn’t make the visit any less valuable, said geophysicist Andrew Lockhart. Any time local scientists help monitor a potentially threatening volcano somewhere else, the knowledge goes both ways, he said.
“We go down, and we bring back almost as much as we take down,” Lockhart said.
Two of the men who made the trip work out of the Vancouver-based volcano observatory: Lockhart and computer programmer Chris Lockett. A third joined them from Menlo Park, Calif.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s Volcano Disaster Assistance Program sends out researchers to help other countries deal with the dangerous volcanoes in their backyards. The program has had its share of success stories — as recently as 2010, a team of Vancouver-based scientists helped coordinate the evacuation of thousands of people out of the way of a major eruption in Indonesia. The action prevented an already deadly disaster from being much, much worse, said John Pallister, who leads the assistance program at CVO.