Pavlof Volcano in Alaska may be in danger of erupting, as seismic activity has recently increased in the region. A steady plume of steam was seen emanating from the mountain, causing state authorities to raise the alert level for the area from normal to advisory status, or yellow alert.
Mount Pavlof last saw an eruption in the middle of May 2016, following another volcanic event just two months earlier.
"The level of seismic activity at Pavlof Volcano remains slightly elevated but lower than that recorded yesterday. Nothing significant was observed in satellite views of the volcano over the past day. Web camera views of the volcano have been largely obscured by clouds with one view showing a possible small steam emission. An AVO field crew working near the volcano yesterday reported observing minor gas emissions from the summit vent," the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) reported on July 2.
Since Mount Pavlof erupted in March, seismic activity has continued without abating until this time. This condition suggests the chance of another eruption before the end of 2016 is highly likely.
Covered in snow and ice, this stratovolcano sits less than 600 miles southwest of Anchorage. The volcano stretches nearly 4.5 miles from one side to another, and active volcanic vents may be found near the summit, on the eastern and northern sides of the mountain.
Mount Pavlof has erupted more than 40 times since geological records of the region began, making it one of the most active volcanoes in the region. During some of these events, ash rose 49,000 feet above sea level, an altitude which would present serious risks to passenger jets.
When volcanic ash enters jet engines, the heat can melt the ash into a hard glass, able to clog and destroy machinery powering the craft.
"[D]uring the March 2016 eruption, ash plumes as high as 40,000 feet above sea level were generated and the ash was tracked in satellite data as distant as eastern Canada. The nearest community, Cold Bay, is located 60 km (37 miles) to the southwest of Pavlof," AVO stated in a weekly update.
Pavlof is not the only volcano in the Aleutians showing signs of unrest. Cleveland Volcano, which forms the western portion of Chuginadak Island, has also recently exhibited evidence of movement of magma beneath its frozen exterior. This volcano last erupted in 2001, spewing forth a trio of clouds which rose to an altitude of 39,000 feet above sea level. Since that time, assorted debris from the mountain has occasionally reached the shoreline.