Pavlof Eruption Picks Up Again

Pavlof volcano eruption column, May 18, 2013. Photo courtesy Theo Chesley.
Pavlof volcano eruption column, May 18, 2013. Photo courtesy Theo Chesley.

After a week-long respite, Pavlof Volcano on the Alaska Peninsula has sent up another ash plume. Pilots flying past the volcano Tuesday morning were the first to spot the cloud, which they estimated at 19,000 feet.

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PenAir flight operations manager Lloyd Seybert says the airline cancelled its afternoon flight into Sand Point as a result, but the plume hasn’t affected any other PenAir routes.

Alaska Volcano Observatory geologist Michelle Coombs says this pattern of fluctuating activity is pretty standard for Pavlof, but that it can make monitoring difficult.

“In this case, actually, we had a pilot report that came in, and we retrospectively looked at the seismicity, and we said “Oh yep, there it is! It’s really subtle, but there it is.” So we’ll just do our best and keep our eye on things, but it’s just a bit of a tricky volcano.”

Coombs says the reason for that is once the volcano has been erupting for a while, the magma isn’t creating new routes to the surface.

“It’s basically more of an open pathway, so the magma can come up without making a lot of seismic rumbling.”

Nevertheless, Coombs says the Observatory would be able to detect a significant intensification of the eruption. They’ve raised the aviation alert level to orange.

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