Alaska volcano erupts
with new intensity, prompting 'red' alert
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[June 04, 2014]
By Steve Quinn
JUNEAU Alaska (Reuters) -
An Alaska volcano that has been spewing ash and lava for
years began erupting with new intensity this week,
pushing a plume of smoke and ash as high as 24,000 feet
(7,315 meters) and prompting scientists to issue their
highest volcanic alert in five years, authorities said
But the intense action at the Pavlof Volcano, located in an
uninhabited region nearly 600 miles (966 km) southwest of Anchorage,
has so far not disrupted any regional air traffic, thanks to
favorable weather that has made it easier for flights to navigate
around the affected area.
Still, the eruption was intense enough for Alaska Volcano
Observatory scientists to issue their first red alert warning since
2009, when the state's Mount Redoubt had a series of eruptions that
spewed ash 50,000 feet (15,240 meters).
"This means it can erupt for weeks or even months," observatory
research geologist Michelle Coombs said of the warning. "I don't
think we will be at red for that long, but we are expecting it to go
for a while based on its past."
Coombs said affected areas are uninhabited except for some hunting
Geologists first issued the alert late on Monday. Since then plumes
reached as high as 24,000 feet (7,315 meters) on Tuesday morning.
Plumes are created when lava bursts from the crater of the
8,261-foot (2,517-meter) volcano, then falls back on glacier ice,
"Right now, with the weather clear, it's just putting on a good
show," Coombs said. "We're getting a lot of pilot reports and a lot
of good photos, so we're able to keep a good eye on it."
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Pavlof lies below a route frequently used by jetliners flying
between North America and Asia, but those planes generally fly at
elevations of 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) and likely would be
unaffected by ash at lower elevations, observatory scientists have
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)
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