Volcano Watch: St. Helens hasn't done much since my last update besides continue to build a new lava dome. The advent of winter snowfall is making for some beautiful pictures, though on the few clear days we've had. And you (well, the USGS photographers - not actual people) can actually see the lava glowing at times, which is cool. No explosive eruptions though folks, sorry to disappoint.
In other Pacific NW volcano news, last weekend Mt. Ranier had a swarm of earthquakes inside the volcano. Largest, at 3.2 was the biggest in 40 years. Scientists aren't worried about an eruption, though (last one was in 1840). They think the earthquakes are a result of the "sheer weight" of the mountain settling and not, apparantly a result of magma moving. Not to play armchair vulcanologist or anything, but I'd still be a little twitchy if I were in Seattle/ Tacoma. If there's pressure built up, an earthquake caused by anything (even heavy rain/landslide) could trigger a venting episode - and that could mean lahars, which are the greatest threat to the Puget Sound population centers downhill.
Yes, as you can imagine I'm trying to turn my attention from disasters of the man-made kind to those more natural. In fact, the only thing that got me through Nov. 3rd was a book I picked up at the hospital gift shop to tide me over while Curt was getting his carpal tunnel surgery done*. Pompeii by Richard Harris. Really good mindcandy - combines fascinating historical facts that are pretty damned accurate (as much as I recall) with a pretty good plotline. Falls in the "controversial scientist trying to convince hardheaded gov't officials of imminent natural disaster" genre. But set in ancient Roman Empire. And the scientist is in charge of running the local aquaduct, and he weaves in actual historical figures (Pliny the Elder), and at least in this case - you KNOW how it ends. Hundreds (or thousands?) of people were actually caught totally unaware - we know because the ash preserved their last moments in grisly detail.
*Curt's surgery went really well. He had his left hand done. After it heals in about a month he'll have the right hand done. He noticed improved range of motion with his fingers as soon as the anasthesia wore off, and can sleep at night (numbness isn't waking him up like it was before). Pretty amazing. The incision is bigger than his doc led him to believe - about 4 inches from bottom of palm to the middle. Apparently they had to do more extensive work than they'd thought.