Alert level raised for Alaska volcano after small eruption
An ash cloud rises above Alaska's Cleveland Volcano on Tuesday. The image was taken 45 miles from the volcano.
June 20th, 2012
08:18 PM ET

Alert level raised for Alaska volcano after small eruption

Scientists have raised an aviation alert level around a remote Alaskan volcano after a small eruption produced an ash cloud several miles high.

Cleveland Volcano, on the Aleutian Islands southwest of mainland Alaska, erupted briefly Tuesday afternoon, creating an ash cloud at an estimated height of 23,000 feet above sea level, said Steve McNutt, a volcano seismologist at the Alaska Volcano Observatory and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The observatory on Tuesday raised its color-coded alert for aviators to orange, the second most serious of four levels, and warned on its website that "additional sudden explosions of blocks and ash are possible with little or no warning."

No activity was detected Wednesday, but the alert remained at orange, the observatory said.

A more serious eruption, especially one that spews ash above 30,000 feet, could affect air travel. McNutt said the vast majority of air freight between Asia and North America and between Asia and Europe flies over Alaskan airspace. Also, passenger flights take about 20,000 passengers over Alaskan airspace daily, he said.

Tuesday's cloud appeared to dissipate after about two hours, McNutt said, citing satellite images.

The volcano makes up the western half of uninhabited Chuginadak Island, part of the Aleutian Island chain in the Bering Sea. It is about 45 miles west of Nikolski and 940 miles southwest of Anchorage.

The alert level has bounced between orange and the lower step, yellow, several times in the past year. The observatory last issued an orange alert in late March, when satellite images showed a lava dome had formed in the summit crater.

The volcano's most recent significant eruption happened in February 2001, with three explosions that led to ash clouds as high as 7.5 miles above sea level, according to the observatory. The volcano's elevation is 5,676 feet.

Last year, volcanic ash from Iceland's Grimsvotn Volcano forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights across Europe.

The Grimsvotn eruption came about 13 months after Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull Volcano put ash and smoke into the sky, forcing the cancellation of thousands of flights per day during the peak of the problem.

See observatory's Cleveland Volcano webcam

- CNN's Jason Hanna and Darrell Calhoun contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Air travel • Alaska • Travel • Volcano
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Godzilla

    Oh hey people it's just me having a dust bath! Can't a giant radioactive lizard get any privacy around here?
    You can almost see my *ahem* in the picture!!! 😯

    June 20, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jerry

    2 ways to deal with Alaskan volcanoes: either Sarah Palin could open her big, fat mouth and cover the volcano up or they could use Bristol's big, fat behind to plug it.

    (Mostly joking about Bristol: she's a cute kid but does need to lay off the donuts. Her mom, however, turns my Conservative stomach almost as much as Obama does!)

    June 21, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • glennrobert

      Jerry, you make my Liberal heart feel good. Thank you.

      June 21, 2012 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
    • escher7

      Palin is one of yours – remember?

      June 21, 2012 at 4:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      @jerry,can Palins family see it from her backyard,I hope so for everyone's sake.Maybe it erupting will get her to leave sunny Alaska,no no,we don't want that ,God no!!Stay there,dye there,do us all a favor ,for all of humanity,please stay!!!

      June 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • wrap2tyt

      I wonder if they can see it from their porch...

      June 21, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • hongdong

      I'd like to gnaw on Bristol's big fat ass like a black zombie gnaws on white's faces! I would plunge my meatwhistle into Sarah's box very easily...all 9 inches of it!

      June 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evan

      That's right, you're also dissing Neiman Marcus's or possibly Martha Stewart Living's next CEO. Shame on you.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. NanookoftheNorth

    To all the haters (including Alaskans) out can all go to Hades...and take your old, tired jokes with you !!

    June 21, 2012 at 5:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. She already knows

    Palin already knows about this. She can see it from her house.

    June 21, 2012 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. cleT

    yeah, no kidding. A story about a volcano and the lefty troll #$#'s bring up politics...

    June 21, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      Sure, we like to bring up politics and you rightwing trailer trash like to bring up racism! Go jump off a bridge or move to some distant place where you can see Russia from your bathroom window while you take a dump!

      June 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kookoobear

    All you democrats want is for someone to give you something for free. Give me, give me, give me. What a sorry group of people.

    June 21, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Cynthia L.

      Give me, give me, give me sounds like Wall Street and Exxon Mobil and the rich with their tax cuts and deductions for Horse Dancing Therapy. As far as Alaska's volcano, interesting. Hope I can fly there come August with no problems. Looking forwarded to seeing a beautiful state with interesting people.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • HateHatred

      Yes KooKoo. That what all democrats want, me included. Just give me, give me, give me. What a simplistic moron you are. You don't have any facts, no brain, just emotion. That's why I hate Republicans. They are ALL stupid, brain dead, puppets. See how it works?

      June 21, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      The last time I checked, a whole lot of you rightwing trailer trash were living off the stimulus aid and holding up the grocery line with your food stamps while we hard working liberals were paying cash! Rightwing welfare foodstamp thugs!

      June 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Geoffrey Hamilton

    This volcano needs to seriously consider its carbon footprint before erupting...

    June 21, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. history redo

    This is not a volcano erupting. It's Sarah Palin warning the Russians that they can't take her guns, Can't you hear the Bells?

    June 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. hungdong

    Bristol has good puntong!!!

    June 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Oh No you Didn't!

    Sounds like Alaska is experiencing a Cleveland steamer.

    June 24, 2012 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. Cindy

    One wouldn't think that Alaska land of the SNOW would have a 100 volcanos. That's just amazing!

    June 27, 2013 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
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