Science

Mount Cleveland Erupts In Alaska, Are Flights OK?

By Pierre Dumont , May 06, 2013 07:23 AM EDT

The Mount Cleveland volcano in Alaska is experiencing a low-level eruption, scientists from the Alaska Volcano Observatory and the U.S. Geological Survey have stated.

The first explosion took place on Saturday March 4 at 5 a.m. EDT and was followed by two more at 9:17 a.m. and 11:44 a.m. The Alaska Volcano Observatory noted the activity as short and of a low level. Currently a 15,000 foot cloud is billowing from the volcano, posing threats for travel in the region.

"Sudden explosions of blocks and ash are possible with little or no warning," scientists said. "Ash clouds, if produced, could exceed 20,000 feet above sea level."

Found 940 miles from the city of Anchorage, the Mount Cleveland volcano is located on the distant Aleutian islands. It is 5,675 feet high.

The last time the Mount Cleveland volcano erupted was in February 2001. Ash clouds from the eruption rose 39,000 feet above sea level. Minor ash emissions were also recorded from the Mount Cleveland volcano in November 2012. Volcanic ash can pose problems for aviation, as evidenced by the 2001 eruption of the Mount Cleveland volcano.

"Onboard radars can only occasionally detect concentrated ash within or near eruption plumes," a paper from the American Meteorological Society states. "Only total avoidance of the ash ensures flight safety."

No flights have been restricted due to the eruption of the Mount Cleveland Volcano. However, the Alaska Volcano Observatory did issue a an "orange" aviation color code for the region affected by the eruption.

According to the Smithsonian, 158 volcanos have been measured as active in Alaska throughout history.

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