Alaska volcano eruption possible – could wreak havoc on international air flights again

The volcano, known as Mount Cleveland, is located on a remote island in the Aleutian Islands approximately 1,000 miles southwest of Anchorage. The nearest town to the volcano is about 70 miles away.

As of Friday, the Alaska Volcano Observatory continued to keep their alert status for the Cleveland Volcano at Code Orange, which is one step below the highest alert level. The observatory bumped the alert status earlier this week from yellow to orange.

According to the group, “Satellite observations throughout the week suggest that eruptive activity at Cleveland Volcano has slowed or paused”, but concern still remains “for intermittent, sudden explosions of blocks and ash to occur at any time, and ash clouds exceeding 20,000 feet above sea level may develop.”

The volcanic activity has many in the airline industry concerned due to volcanic ash that could threaten international flights.

About 90% of air freight from Asia to Europe and North America flies over Alaska air space, including hundreds of flights totaling more than 20,000 passengers that fly through Anchorage’s air space daily, according to CNN.

Airline experts say that a significant volcanic eruption could lead to hundreds of flights being rerouted or ultimately cancelled.

An eruption from the Cleveland Volcano could bring back memories of last year’s Grimsvotn Volcano as well as the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano that erupted in 2010 when a giant ash plume grounded millions of travelers worldwide. Both volcanoes are located in Iceland.

The Cleveland Volcano’s most recent significant eruption “began in February 2001 and had three explosive events that produced ash clouds as high as 39,000 feet above sea level” according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

Photo credit: Wikipedia; TheAlaskaNews

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