A volcano in Alaska that erupted in March is showing further signs of life. Scientists have detected some tremors that can signal a low-level eruption.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory is watching the Pavlof volcano carefully, monitoring and analyzing even the smallest signs of activity. They’re using instruments to detect the type of tremors that are typically related to the movement of fluids. In a report by ABC News, Geophysicist Dave Schneider explains the activity that determines when a volcano may erupt.
“In this case, lava is considered a fluid. It can also be the hydrothermic systems, or hot water, percolating through the volcano.”
The volcano observatory upgraded the Pavlof’s status from normal status to a volcano watch. They were unable to determine whether the volcano has sent up an ash cloud because the 8,261-foot summit is hidden by clouds. Schneider says they are continuing to watch carefully to see how this develops. The observatory’s satellite sensors had not detected heat that occurs when lava flows down from vents on the mountain.
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That was a different story on March 27, 2016, when the volcano erupted last. It sent an ash cloud soaring to 37,000 feet, and scientists were able to immediately detect thermal readings indicating the presence of flowing lava. The weather was uncharacteristically clear that day, and the ash cloud was visible to pilots. The cloud ended up drifting across interior Alaska and northern Canada from its remote Alaskan location. Volcanic ash is sharp and abrasive and can even cause jet engines to shut down when they cross its path.
After the previous eruption, Alaska Airlines cancelled nearly 70 flights to Fairbanks and other Alaska communities over the following two days, as previously reported by The Inquisitr. The Pavlof volcano has been reported to erupt more than 40 times since scientists began record-keeping record in the late 1700’s. It’s not unusual for volcanic eruptions to recur. In fact, Pavlof erupted intermittently for more than two years between 1986 and 1988. Pavlof is conical and about 4.4 miles in diameter, says Fox News.
They look like nothing more than graceful peaks shining across miles of Alaskan wilderness. And certainly, volcanoes in repose form beautiful mountains—they’re the central attractions of many national parks. But the volcanoes you see across Cook Inlet are some of the most heavily monitored on earth. When they erupt, they’re enthralling in their power and grandeur and show that below the earth’s surface, all is not tranquil.
Roughly 80 percent of all U.S. active volcanoes are in Alaska, with most lying along the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc that stretches out to the Aleutians into eastern Russia. In 1912, the eruption of Novarupta in Alaska, which created the landscape of Katmai National Park, was the largest of the last century, spewing 30 times more magma than the 1980 Mount St. Helen’s eruption. It produced 14 earthquakes registering 6 to 7 on the Richter scale. The three-day eruption almost completely suffocated the village of Kodiak, 100 miles away.
The entire village darkened, water was undrinkable, radio communication was disrupted, and buildings were crushed by ash avalanches coming down hillsides. The roofs of homes collapsed under the weight of a foot of ash. Animal and plant life was destroyed. Salmon couldn’t survived in ash-choked streams, cutting out the food supply of bears, causing their deaths.
Alaska.org offers an Alaska volcanoes directory, and lists volcanoes along with the dates of the last time they did actually erupt as well as their most recent activity. Still, today, volcanoes have a profound effect on life in Alaska, coating towns in ash and forcing residents to stay indoors and avoid driving. They’ve disrupted air traffic, closed schools and caused major power outages. In spite of all their power of destruction, however, they still fascinate us and draw untold numbers of visitors to Alaska just to witness their magnitude.
Scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory will continue to monitor the activity of Pavlof and report the likelihood of the volcano to erupt again.
[Photo by AP Images]