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Alaska Volcano Eruptions Get Worse: `We Can’t Explain’ Says Geologist (Video)

By Staff Writer | June 27, 2013 10:17 AM EDT

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(Photo : Screenshot)

Alaska volcano eruptions are entering a more powerful phase. After six weeks of Alaska volcano eruptions reaching five miles into the sky, covering nearby communities with ash and shutting down air flights, there looks to be no end.

Alaska volcano eruptions 2013 started in May at the Pavlof Volcano, which is located about 590 miles southwest of the major city Anchorage, in the Alaska Peninsula. The most powerful phase of Alaska volcano eruptions started with low-level rumblings.

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According to scientists at the federal-state Alaska Volcano Observatory, the latest phase of Alaska volcano eruptions started late on Monday and continued through the night into Tuesday. The blasts emanate from the crater of a 8,261 foot volcano.

Tina Neal, an geologist at the observatory said, "For some reason we can't explain, it picked up in intensity and vigor."

In May, Alaska volcano eruptions sent a smaller ash cloud 15,000 feet into the air. The ash was visible for miles. Residents were worried that it would damage power generators.

The ash plume has so far topped of at an altitude of 28,000 feet, which is too low in the air to affect major air traffic, but high enough that small planes have to fly around it.

Missy Roberts, the vice president of PenAir, which is based in Anchorage, said the airline cancelled one flight and had to re-route other flights.

Air traffic controller John Maxwell said, “Everybody is thinking about it. Not that anybody is afraid they’re going to be like Mount Vesuvius and turn into little mummies.”

The whole region is under an ash advisory. The National Weather Service warned that people with respiratory ailments in the area could experience breathing problems. They also warned about potential damage to exposed electronic equipment.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory reported that King Cove, which is located 30 miles southwest of Pavlof and has a populationof about 900 people, has been dusted with ash. The observatory said that a second Alaska Peninsula volcano also continues to experience a low-intensity eruption. The observatory said that ash from Veniaminof Volcano, which is located 485 miles southwest of Anchorage, has been contained to the area around its 8,225-foot summit.

The scientists say the eruptions at Pavlof and Veniaminof are unrelated.

According to the observatory, there is a third Alaska volcano that is restless is in a more remote area, but that has not started spouting lava or ash. The Cleveland Volcano began its eruptive phase in the middle of 2011 and has been erupting on and off. It has not produced an explosive eruption since May 6. The Cleveland Volcano is located 940 miles southwest of Anchorage.


by Tony Sokol

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