The Cleveland Volcano on Aleutian Islands in Alaska might become a threat to air traffic. Mount Cleveland is a 5,675-foot peak on an uninhabited island 940 miles southwest of Anchorage and has exploded every year since 2005, but was most active in the last part of 2011.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory put out a statement on Tuesday saying, “A new lava dome has been observed in the summit crater. There have been no observations of ash emissions or explosive activity during this current lava eruption.”
Usually, the Cleveland Volcano in Alaska only explodes up to 10,000 – 18,000 feet high and doesn’t disturb air traffic, but scientists have been closely watching it, thinking it might this time. 90% of airplanes from Asia to Europe and North America flies over Alaska air space.
John Power, scientist in charge at the Alaska Volcano Observatory says, “The explosions have not been going up very high, about 10,000 to 20,000 feet, typically not enough to interfere with international air traffic. If it does go up higher than that, then we could have real problems.”
Earlier in the week, scientists noticed there was a new lava dome that formed at the top of Mount Cleveland. The Volcano Observatory issued an orange warning for the volcano, which is the second highest on the four-step scale for aviation alerts. According to the Alaska Volcano Observatory, “Heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption, timeframe uncertain, OR eruption is underway with no or minor volcanic-ash emissions,” in response to the orange warning on the Cleveland Volcano.
Scientist at the Alaska Volcano Observatory said, “Mount Cleveland is about 940 miles southwest of Anchorage and about 70 miles from the nearest town. While it hasn’t produced an ash cloud large enough to disrupt air travel in recent history, records indicate it has the potential to do so. It threw a cloud up to a height of 18,000 feet on December 29, 2011.”
The Aleutian Islands in Alaska is very secluded, so the U.S. Geological Survey uses satellites to monitor it closely. They say it could erupt at any time.
In 2001 Mount Cleveland Volcano erupted with ash clouds as high as 39,000 feet.