Saturday, August 02, 2008

Alaskan volcanic eruption slows down but still on red alert!

Okmok Volcano settled down a bit Sunday, one day after triggering a red alert by spewing water, debris and gas 25,000 feet into the air.

A red alert remained in place Sunday for the Aleutian Island volcano, but seismic activity had slowed considerably.

Instead of duplicating Saturday's nearly continuous volcanic tremor, Okmok was erupting about every 10 to 15 minutes, according to an Alaska Volcano Observatory Center report.

Sunday's ash plume rose 12,000 feet.

Clouds prevented scientists from getting many images of the volcano on Sunday, said Melissa Pfeffer, a geochemist at the observatory.

The volcano, which is about 850 miles away from Anchorage and about 60 miles southwest of Dutch Harbor, began erupting July 12.

When it became more active Saturday, the observatory issued a red alert to warn pilots in the area to be wary of ash.

Dutch Harbor has received a light sprinkling of dust in recent days, but the plume is traveling southeast and is dropping most of its ash in the North Pacific, Pfeffer said.

As a result, the eruption isn't affecting air travel too much in the area, the Federal Aviation Administration said Sunday.

Jennifer Aldeman, an observatory geologist, said Saturday the increased activity could be a signal that even more powerful bursts are coming.

The 3,500-foot volcano last erupted in 1997. An 1817 eruption destroyed an Aleut village, according to the observatory.

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