Scientists Detect Eruption at Peninsula Volcano

West Flank of Pavlof Volcano/Credit: AVO - Chris Waythomas
West Flank of Pavlof Volcano/Credit: AVO – Chris Waythomas

Alaska’s most active volcano appears to be erupting. Mount Pavlof, on the Alaska Peninsula, started rumbling Monday morning, according to Alaska Volcano Observatory scientist-in-charge John Power.

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“This type of pattern — weak seismic activity, along with a great deal of heat at the summit — has characterized past eruptions of Pavlof, and we believe that’s what’s occurring now,” Power says.”

Power says while scientists haven’t been able to get a good look at the volcano, he suspects it’s oozing lava, or perhaps even shooting jets of it into the air in what’s called a stromboli fountain. So far, the Observatory hasn’t detected any ash clouds associated with the eruption, although in the past, Pavlof has produced significant plumes.

“In 2007, during that eruption, there were ash clouds up to 15-18,000 feet, and certainly we’ve had much larger ones out of Pavlof in the past, although this type of activity we’re seeing today is not uncharacteristic of Pavlof — to have lower level, less energetic eruptions of lava as well.”

Unlike Cleveland Volcano, which started erupting last week, Pavlof has a real-time monitoring network, which Power says the Observatory will be keeping a close eye on in the days and weeks to come.

“In the past, eruptions of Pavlof have gone on for four, six, eight weeks, and if this follows the same pattern, it may go on for some time like that, or it could be a very short lived event.”

King Cove and Cold Bay are the nearest communities to the 8,000-ft volcano.