Brian Dunbar Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

(Phone: 202/453-1547)

September 17, 1990

Bob MacMillin Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. (Phone: 818/354-5011) RELEASE: 90-124 JOINT NASA, USGS AND SOVIET TEAM TO STUDY RUSSIAN VOLCANOES

A joint NASA/U.S. Geological Survey team of American scientists plan this week to join a team of Soviet scientists to study volcanoes along Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula -- one of the most active and least understood volcanic regions in the world. The joint study marks the first time that Western scientists have been allowed in the Kamchatka region since World War II and signals the start of a new U.S.-Soviet program to better define volcanoes in the Pacific's "Ring of Fire" -- volcanoes and other tectonic features located along the edges of the Pacific Plate. The plate's boundaries include the western coast of North America, the Aleutian Islands, the Kamchatka Peninsula, Japan and New Zealand. The agreement enabling access for the NASA/USGS team was negotiated as part of NASA's Earth Sciences Joint Working Group with the Soviets. Until this invitation the area has been "off limits" to Western scientists. As a result, "Kamchatka is sort of a missing link in our knowledge of the Pacific Ring of Fire," said Dr. David Pieri, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

geologist who heads the American team. "The volcanoes there are big, they're dangerous, and they do explode," said Pieri. Situated near a major air traffic lane that runs roughly along the northeast coast of Asia, the volcanoes often eject ash into the stratosphere, posing a threat to aircraft. Increased air traffic in the area warrants new studies of the potential volcanic hazard, Pieri said. - more -2On this trip, the American team is participating in joint field mapping of the region in aircraft supplied by the Soviet side. The Soviet team is from the Institute for Volcanology of the USSR's Academy of Sciences, Far Eastern division, in Petropavlovsk - Kamchatskii. The mapping will identify areas of interest for proposed subsequent joint airborne and orbital mapping of Kamchatka-area volcanoes and volcanically active regions in the United States. Participants from JPL are Pieri and Dr. Anne Kahle. From the U.S. Geological Survey are Dr. Jack Lockwood of the Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory; Dr. Dan Miller of the Cascade Volcanoes Observatory, Vancouver, Washington; and Dr. Tom Miller, Alaska Volcanoes Observatory, Anchorage. Plans call for the Soviet team to visit the U.S. early next year for similar field work in Hawaii or Oregon, to be followed by more extensive joint field work in Kamchatka in late summer of 1991. - end -

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