Friday, August 24, 2007

Alaska volcano is under close watch

The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) reported Saturday that it is keeping a close watch on the Pavlof Volcano located on the Alaska Peninsula. The AVO reported steady earthquake activity and lava flow events continue at Pavlof Volcano, and several discrete explosion earthquakes continue to be recorded.

"An AVO field party conducted an overflight of the volcano Saturday and report that a vigorous eruption of lava at the volcano continues. While a primary hazard from this eruption is airborne ash, explosions producing ash do not seem to be significant at this time and any ash produced is likely staying below 15,000 ft above sea level. AVO is maintaining aviation color code Orange and volcanic activity alert level WATCH at this time," the AVO reported on its Web site.

"If activity continues to increase in intensity, larger ash clouds that could affect aircraft may be produced. The most immediate ground hazard in the vicinity of the volcano includes light ash fall on nearby communities," according to the Observatory report.

Previous historical eruptions from Pavlof caused only a few millimeters (about 1/10th of an inch) of ash to fall on the Alaskan communities of King Cove, Nelson Lagoon, Cold Bay, and Sand Point.

"Mudflows in drainages from the flanks of the volcano, and lava flows and avalanching of hot debris on the upper reaches of the volcano are also of concern in the uninhabited areas around the volcano. Satellite and seismic data and eyewitness observations suggest most of the surface lava activity is occurring on the southeast sector of the steep-sided volcano; this suggests that the Pacific Ocean side of the volcano is at most risk from avalanching hot debris," the AVO reported Saturday.

The AVO said it will continue to monitor the activity closely; adding that satellite and seismic data are checked frequently around the clock. An abrupt increase in earthquake activity began at Pavlof Volcano on the Alaska Peninsula early Tuesday (August 14) morning. At this time, we expect this eruption to follow the pattern of previous eruptions. The last eruption of Pavlof began in September, 1996 and consisted of a several-month-long series of ash explosions, lava-fountaining, and lava-flow production.

Ash clouds reached as high as 30,000 ft ASL on one occasion. However, most ash clouds were below 20,000 ft ASL. Prior to 1996, Pavlof erupted in 1986 sending ash as high as 49,000 ft ASL on at least one occasion.The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) is a joint program of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAFGI), and the State of Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys (ADGGS).

AVO was formed in 1988, and uses federal, state, and university resources to monitor and study Alaska's hazardous volcanoes, to predict and record eruptive activity, and to mitigate volcanic hazards to life and property.Intellpuke: You can read this Alaska Volcano Observatory report in context here: You can also find maps showing Pavlof Volcano's location, at the above web site url, and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration AVHRR photo satellite image showing a strong thermal anomaly observed at the summit of Pavlof Volcano taken August 16, 2007 at 07:50 AM AKDT (1550 UTC) here:

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