Alaska Volcano Erupts, Air Travel Disruption Possible

Alaska Volcano It’s been nearly two years since scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) warned that Alaska’s Cleveland volcano could erupt at any time, issuing a code yellow eruption advisory. Saturday, those scientists were proven more than right.

“We haven’t seen a phase like this where we’ve had multiple explosions,” Rick Wessels, a geophysicist at the US Geological Survey‘s Alaska Volcano Observatory, told Reuters in a Christian Science Monitor report.

Over the weekend, the Cleveland volcano erupted, spewing gas, steam and low levels of ash 15,000 feet into the atmosphere, directly into the commercial airline flight path between Asia and North America. While disruption in the atmosphere at 15,000 feet is well below the normal 35,000 feet cruising altitude of commercial aircraft, the concern is that further eruptions could disrupt air traffic, much like Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano (pictured) did in 2010.Then, nearly 20 European countries closed their airspace after a secondary eruption ejected an ash plume that rose to a height of 30,000 feet. For now, scientists wait and watch.

[Image credit - Flickr user finnur.malmquist]