Alaska's most active volcano starts erupting

AP News
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Posted: Nov 14, 2014 8:47 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska's most active volcano is spitting lava into the air and producing an ash cloud at low elevations. But unlike Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii's Big Island, where there's been spectacular images of lava encroaching on a community and burning a home, there's no property at risk in Alaska because of the eruption of Pavlof Volcano.

The 8,262-foot Pavlof Volcano is located in a relatively uninhabited area about 625 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula. The closest community is about 40 miles away.

Observers from that community, Cold Bay, reported seeing dark snow on the surface of the volcano Wednesday, indicating an eruption has started. The eruption intensified that afternoon and continued through the week, David Schneider, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Alaska Volcano Observatory, said Friday.

Even though there's seismic monitoring systems on the volcano, Schneider said Pavlof is considered the most subtle of Alaska's volcanos. Magma can make its way up the volcano without producing any earthquakes.

This eruption is characterized by lava being ejected from a vent near the summit, producing an ash cloud that extends for about 125 miles. However, the cloud is at a relatively low altitude, about 16,000 feet.

Schneider said there have been some small avalanches of hot rock down the north flank of the volcano. It's possible those could produce local mud flows in some of the drainages to the north, but those would likely minor, he said.

He called the eruption "typical Pavlof."

"It could go on for days to weeks, even months, with various levels of activity," he said.

The volcano could produce more ash at times, or more lava being ejected from the mountain, or it could even produce a lava flow down the volcano's north flank like it has previously.

The volcano has had more than 40 eruptions, including earlier this year and last year.