UNIMAK ISLAND, Alaska – A new episode of spewing lava during an explosive eruption sent an ash cloud from the Shishaldin Volcano to 30,000 feet in the sky, the Alaska Volcano Observatory reported on Friday.
Experts at the observatory noticed a period of heightened unrest early Friday morning with frequent tremors and surface temperatures that were elevated.
The episode marks at least the eighth event since the eruption cycle began more than a month and a half ago, the U.S. Geological Survey told FOX Weather.
Due to a heavy marine layer, cameras have been limited in their usefulness in detecting the ash, but at least one pilot and other monitoring devices have reported seeing the plume.
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A wind flow out of the south and southwest propelled the plume in a more northerly direction away from Unimak Island.
According to population estimates, only a few dozen people live on the island, but if the wind flow were to change to more of a westerly direction, any potential ash would be sent in the direction of more populated communities on the southwest side of the Alaska Peninsula.
The AVO had raised the Aviation Color Code to a red status, and the Volcano Alert Level was upped to a warning level - the highest levels on a four-level alert scale.
But the alerts dropped one rung orange/watch levels late Friday night, the AVO reported as satellite imagery indicated ash emissions had ended and seismicity had rapidly decreased Friday evening and remained low.
Planes are highly susceptible to ash, and the USGS reports there have been 79 cases of volcanic material damaging aircraft since 1953. Ash particles can damage a plane’s fuselage, blades and greatly hinder an engine’s performance and electronics.
Volcanic eruptions in the Last Frontier are not rare, and the state is estimated to be home to more than 130 volcanoes that sit along the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire. The region is home to a majority of the world’s volcanoes and earthquakes.
Shishaldin is one of the most active volcanoes, with at least 54 episodes of unrest since 1824.