Environmental Protection

Two Volcanoes Currently Erupting in Alaska

Scientists are monitoring and providing alerts on Pavlof and Cleveland, two of the most active volcanoes in Alaska.

Two volcanoes in Alaska – Pavlof and Cleveland – are currently erupting. Although their activity levels are low, more energetic explosions could happen without warning. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is responsible for monitoring and issuing timely warnings of potential volcano activity.

Located close to the western end of the Alaska Peninsula, Pavlof is one of the most active volcanoes in the Aleutian arc, having erupted more than 40 times since the late 1700’s.

Pavlof has been erupting since May 13, 2013, with relatively low-energy lava fountaining and minor emissions of ash, steam, and gas. So far, volcanic ash from this eruption has reached as high as 22,000 feet above sea level. The ash plume has interfered with regional airlines and resulted in trace amounts of ash fall on nearby communities. The ash plume is currently too low to impact commercial airliners that fly between North America and Asia at altitudes generally above 30,000 feet.

Cleveland is located on Chuginadak Island in the Aleutian Islands and is a persistently active volcano. It has had 19 confirmed eruptive events since the early 1980’s.

The current episode of eruptive activity at Cleveland has been characterized by single, discrete explosions, minor ash emissions, and small flows of lava and debris on the upper flanks of the volcano. On several occasions, ash-producing explosions have occurred reaching as high as 35,000 feet.

A small lava dome formed in the summit crater of Cleveland volcano in late January 2013. At that time, the dome was about 300 feet in diameter and remained that size until a brief eruption on May 4 explosively removed a portion of the dome. The presence of a lava dome increases the possibility of an explosive eruption, but it does not necessarily indicate that one will occur.

The USGS and its partners operate five volcano observatories, and monitoring of these two volcanoes is coordinated through the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO).

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