September 8, 2011
Remote Alaska Volcano Resumes Dome Growth
Mount Cleveland, a volcano sitting on the western half of Chuginidak Island 115 miles west of Dutch Harbor and 950 miles southwest of Anchorage, is reported to be on watch status with an aviation color code of orange, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO).
Anchorage Daily News reported in July that a lava dome was forming in the crater of the volcano and reached a width of 140 feet in diameter. But on August 30, it appeared that the lava dome had reached a maximum width of 262 feet in diameter. Now the dome is said to be 394 feet in diameter, according to Alaska Native News.
The report notes that if the dome continues to grow, then lava flows may form on the flanks of the volcano, but would not be hazardous to aviation. But there is a possibility that an explosive eruption may occur and throw ash into the atmosphere as high as 20,000 feet above sea level, interrupting aviation routes without warning.
Observers note that it is difficult to watch this particular volcano. According to the AVO there is no real-time seismic network on the mountain, so they are unable to track local earthquake activity related to volcano unrest, provide forecasts of eruptive activity, or confirm explosive, ash producing events.
AVO relies on visual observations from satellite images, but the peak is often obscured by clouds.
Image Caption: Aerial photograph of Cleveland Volcano on August 8, 2008 during the time a small lava flow or dome was accumulating in the summit crater. In this image, taken by Kym Yano, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the 200 m (~660 ft) wide summit crater emits a white, largely steam condensate cloud. The steep upper flanks of the volcano are covered with barren, fragmental material from past explosions at Cleveland. Credit: Kym Yano, NOAA
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