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Second Alaska volcano belching ash and steam

Source: Reuters - Thu, 16 May 2013 03:15 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, May 15 (Reuters) - One of Alaska's most active volcanoes has erupted with clouds of ash and steam, and lava is flowing down its snow-covered flank, scientists said on Wednesday.

Pavlof Volcano began erupting on Monday and was still belching clouds, the Alaska Volcano Observatory said.

It has been emitting occasional dark clouds of ash and steam rising up to 20,000 feet (6,096 metres) and drifting toward the northeast, the observatory said.

The 8,261-foot (2,518-metre) Pavlof joins Cleveland Volcano in the Aleutians, which has been erupting off and on since mid-summer 2011.

Pavlof, on the Alaska Peninsula, is 590 miles (950 kilometres) southwest of Anchorage. The closest communities are Cold Bay, home to about 100 people, and King Cove, population about 940.

Pavlof last erupted in 2007, but it has erupted at least 24 times between 1901 and 1996, the observatory said.

Ash from Pavlof and other Alaska volcanoes could pose a risk to air traffic. But as of Wednesday, there had been no flight problems reported, said John Power, scientist in charge at the observatory.

Like many of Alaska's volcanoes, Pavlof lies along a major commercial airline route between Asia and North America. Generally, jets fly at about 30,000 feet (9,150 metres), and Pavlof's ash has not reached that level, according to observatory reports.

The lava flow poses a different risk.

"The concern is the hot lava melting large amounts of snow," Power said, and the result could be mudslides.

For now, the volcano appears to be putting on a show for its neighbors.

Residents of Cold Bay, about 37 miles (59 km) southwest of Pavlof, have reported an incandescent glow at night at the volcano's summit, Power said.

Meanwhile, Cleveland Volcano continues to emit heat signals, Power said. The last explosion at that 5,676-foot (1,730-metre) volcano was on May 6. (Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Xavier Briand)

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