Alaska volcano set to explode


Summary

Satellite images of Pavlof Volcano show strong thermal readings, consistent with what the Alaska Volcano Observatory was calling a “vigorous eruption of lava” at the volcano about 950 km southwest of Anchorage.

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The volcano is directly below the flightpaths of hundreds of daily international flights.

An explosive eruption could severely interrupt those operations, said Steve McNutt, a volcano seismologist with the observatory.

Volcanic ash can enter an engine and make it seize up, Mr McNutt said.

“What our concern is, is that there will be a more explosive eruption,” Mr McNutt said. “This is right up under the international aviation routes, so a big plume could pose a significant threat.”

The Federal Aviation Administration sent advisories to airlines that might be operating in the area, and is monitoring the situation, said spokesman Allen Kenitzer.

If there is a severe eruption, flights would have to be diverted, possibly resulting in delays, he said.

Seismic activity was first picked up at the 2,518 metre volcano on Tuesday, and Mr McNutt said seismic activity is high, with about one tremor recorded every minute.

Eyewitnesses aboard a fishing boat in the area yesterday reported glowing lava on the volcano’s southeast flank.

Pilots have reported a weak plume of ash drifting eight km to the southwest and likely below 20,000 feet, and the observatory has raised its alert level to “Watch”.

“What we think we’re in for is several months of low-level eruptions punctuated by a few large and explosive events,” Mr McNutt said.

A string of eruptions took place in the 1970s and 1980s, the last was in 1996.


Satellite images of Pavlof Volcano show strong thermal readings, consistent with what the Alaska Volcano Observatory was calling a “vigorous eruption of lava” at the volcano about 950 km southwest of Anchorage.

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The volcano is directly below the flightpaths of hundreds of daily international flights.

An explosive eruption could severely interrupt those operations, said Steve McNutt, a volcano seismologist with the observatory.

Volcanic ash can enter an engine and make it seize up, Mr McNutt said.

“What our concern is, is that there will be a more explosive eruption,” Mr McNutt said. “This is right up under the international aviation routes, so a big plume could pose a significant threat.”

The Federal Aviation Administration sent advisories to airlines that might be operating in the area, and is monitoring the situation, said spokesman Allen Kenitzer.

If there is a severe eruption, flights would have to be diverted, possibly resulting in delays, he said.

Seismic activity was first picked up at the 2,518 metre volcano on Tuesday, and Mr McNutt said seismic activity is high, with about one tremor recorded every minute.

Eyewitnesses aboard a fishing boat in the area yesterday reported glowing lava on the volcano’s southeast flank.

Pilots have reported a weak plume of ash drifting eight km to the southwest and likely below 20,000 feet, and the observatory has raised its alert level to “Watch”.

“What we think we’re in for is several months of low-level eruptions punctuated by a few large and explosive events,” Mr McNutt said.

A string of eruptions took place in the 1970s and 1980s, the last was in 1996.