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Alaska Officials Raise Volcano Alert

August 4, 2011

Alaska officials have raised the alert level of a volcano after a growing lava dome appeared in its summit crater.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory said the observation increases the possibility but does not guarantee an eruption at Cleveland Volcano.

The officials said the dome has grown from about 131 feet to 164 feet in diameter since Friday.

Officials said that if the dome continues to grow, lava may flow onto the volcano’s flanks.  They said this would not be hazardous to airplanes, but short-lived eruptions could send an ash cloud up to 20,000 feet high.

“This could be the end of a little pulse of magma that’s come into the volcano to form a little dome in there, and that’ll be that, or it could lead to something more explosive,” volcanologist Chris Waythomas told Anchorage Daily News.

The volcano is located 939 miles southwest of Anchorage on an uninhabited island. 

Officials are not able to track local earthquake activity related to volcanic unrest.

Image Caption: This GeoEye IKONOS image shows a faint plume issuing from Cleveland Volcano at 2:31 PM on September 14, 2010. Red in this image highlights areas of vegetation detected by the near-infrared channel. Credit/Copyright: 2010 – GeoEye

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